Sunday, 19 April 2015

Operation Organize: Creative Storage Solutions

I am a big lover of storage ..strange thing to love i know! Im pretty bonkers about it actually, i love finding new ways to store my hoards of beauty products, baking equipment, art supplies, vintage items ..the list goes on! I think that no matter what your current living situation is, being efficient with your storage is always a great way to maximize your space and keep you organised.
So, before I share some of my favorite design inspo, I have three main storage tips to keep in mind... After all it is that 'Spring Clean' time of year! 

1. Disguise It

Operation Organize: Creative Storage Solutions

No one likes staring at cardboard boxes or ugly plastic storage bins (no matter how handy they are, they aren't pretty!). For storing odds and ends out of sight, look out for chic containers that blend right in with your d├ęcor, for instance how cool does this trunk look, you can easily pick this sort of thing up from boot-sales!-I recently bought two vintage cases for £1 each from a closing down vintage store- YES £1 how amazing, simply stack them or place them on a stand for beautiful storage. Woven baskets are another favourite decorative disguise of mine. I use a lot of woven baskets through out my home, you can pick them up for a penny at discount shops or get creative and buy some second hand and just spray paint accordingly to your interior style! I prefer clean white baskets for all my bits and bobs as it keeps everything looking clean and crisp no matter how much junk is actually inside them! 

2. Hide It


My second storage tip is to make use of spaces that you can’t see. For things like bikinis and flip flops...well basically your whole summer wardrobe. Lets face it with british weather the way it is you won’t need any of it for several months to come, you might as well hide them under your bed or in another covert spot. I  swear by vacuum bags for under-the-bed storage, not only do they protect against dust, mold, and odor, they truly maximize your storage space by sucking out any air from the bag. 

3. Prioritize It

This tip is a biggie! ...It’s so important to be strategic when organizing your storage. Things you need frequently should be stowed where you can easily access them. Things you rarely use can go in those hard-to-reach top cabinets or tucked away in the garage/ shed in those not so pretty plastic boxes! 

And now for some design inspiration…
I adore the idea of using vintage teacups/ mugs to hold little trinkets or stand my make up brushes in. My Personal favourite is anything royal i love a good Royal vintage mug makes me feel very patriotic and its a great use of recycling! ...you can get them so cheap in charity shops/ bricka-brack stalls! 

Get super creative with old jars, wash them out and re use for all manner of things! You can keep it cute with sweet little labels from Cath Kidston too! I also love this idea, why not mount your jars on the bathroom wall, it will free up valuable bathroom drawer space.




Heres a link to my Pinterest Boards with more images on great storage ideas you can try out! 
  • http://www.pinterest.com/madge92/make-up-storage-ideas/ 
  • http://www.pinterest.com/madge92/storage-ideas/ 


Do you have any smart storage solutions of your own? Hope this spurs a little spring cleaning! :) 
Madge x

Thursday, 16 April 2015

My Top Tips For Visiting Venice & Venice Carnival!


So I've had the amazing opportunity to visit Venice recently! I was super lucky because i got to visit whilst The Carnival of Venice was on! The festival is an annual event that is held in VeniceItaly. The Carnival ends with the on Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Tuesday AKA best day ever) The festival is full of fun and famed for its elaborate masks which were everyyyyywhere! I didn't visit just for the carnival but it was and amazing site to see - if your planning on going i would say go whilst its on because there are so many fun things you can get involved with! Im going to list a few things you should do whilst in Venice!


This guy was awesome his outfit lit up in the dark!




Walking around St Marcs square looking at all the amazing outfits is something you must do, grab an ice cream (pistachio is fabulous) and have a good wonder you will be surprised with how elaborate some of the outfits are! The pictures above were taken simply when i was on a bit of a wonder, the people who are dressed up love the attention so don't feel like you can't ask for a picture with them because they really do enjoy it!
   



Next not the list is have a gondola ride! They are so typical of Venice i know but seriously they really are such a laugh, i went with 5 of my friends and we loved it! The 30 min ride was 120 euros between us which sounds a lot but in Venice everything is expensive! There are other price ranges for different trips and timings and you can always try to barter them down for a better deal :)


Take a boat trip to Burano its a small town filled of beautiful coloured houses as seen above they have lots of little cafes to have a nice lunch in. I took a combined trip to two spots Burano and Murano. Murano is where glass blowing is made in venice, we were able to watch it being made and it is just magical! 




It may not be your cup of tea but i would definitely suggest you visit galleries and cathedrals in the area, Venice is full of beautiful art and amazing architecture. The Guggenheim is a good one to visit it was founded by Peggy Guggenheim, she was an important art collector who left the USA to live in Venice for the last thirty years of her life. The collection is full of popular artists such as Picasso, Mondrian, Kandinsky, Pollock and of course Max Ernst, the surrealist artist and her husband. There is also a small sculpture garden with more modern pieces. 


My Top Tips for venice
  1. Eat/drink as much as you can - indulge in Italy's finest foods, pasta, pizza, gelato and of corse Prosecco! 
  2. Enjoy the sites you can see so much just on foot, its so easily accessible 
  3. take a boat trip to surrounding islands 
  4. Visit Galleries / architecture that inspires you
  5. Party! If you are there around the carnival time there is so many parties to get involved with along with music and plays in St Marcs square through out the day. Buy some confetti, get a fancy mask and enjoy that prosecco!
SO that was my time in Venice i loved it let me know if you want any more info or maybe let me know on anything i missed out on! 
Madge x

Saturday, 4 April 2015

CREME EGG ...SCOTCH EGGS!?



This may just be the best...most wacky easter bake i have ever made! I had been looking for easter treats to make my friends, i kept seeing the infamous creme egg chocolate brownie, which by the way if you haven't tried is DE-VINE! But thats been done before and i wanted to make something completely different, something my friends haven't tried. And this really did the trick everyone was bemused by the little creations and absolutely loved them! Now you may be thinking creme egg scotch eggs...she's gone crazy but just imagine the structure of the perfect scotch egg transformed into chocolatey goodness and that is what you will find here! 

If you are not familiar with Scotch Eggs, the regular savoury ones are made up of boiled eggs wrapped in a layer of sausage meat then they are coated in a layer of bread crumbs and baked. In England we see them as perfect picnic food, or as an eggcellent side to a Ploughman’s lunch. - see what i did there ;)

In this version you will find the mini Creme Egg is wrapped up in a gooey cake mixture (almost like a truffle/ brownie), then coated in chocolate and biscuit crumbs. This creation is layer upon layer of goodness, first you will encounter the initial crunchy biscuit crumbs, you will then enjoy the beautifully rich chocolate cake and finally the star of the show, you will sink into the delicious combination that is Cadburys Creme Egg, which is the perfect ratio of chocolate to fondant! 

This may look like a lengthy process but really its quite simple steps! Just follow bit by bit and you will have your chocolate scotch eggs in no time! 





Ingredients 
(Makes 15)
for the cake 
(If your not a confident baker or just can't be bothered i would suggest just buying a ready mix for a simple chocolate sponge)

150g self-raising flour, sifted

50g cocoa, sifted

220g caster sugar

80g butter, softened

125ml milk

2 eggs, lightly beaten


for the buttercream
50g unsalted butter, softened
45g cream cheese 
70g icing sugar
10g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the inside and coatings 
15 mini creme eggs (X2 bags)
200g dark chocolate
150g Digestive Biscuits

Method 
First, bake the cake...
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and flour or grease and line a 24cm cake tin and set aside.
Place all ingredients into a bowl and using a mixer, mix on high for 4 minutes.
Pour into cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched in the centre.
While the cake cools, make the buttercream...
Cream together the softened butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the icing sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract. You should have a smooth buttercream.
Pop the cake into a food processor until it is a crumbly mixture, if you don't have a food processor use your hands to crumble the cake. Add the cake crumbs to the butter cream and mix until combined into a thick, sticky paste. You should be able to mould it with your hands.
Now to make your balls...
Take a spoon full of mixture. Squash it in your hands to a flat disk, place an unwrapped mini Creme Egg into the middle of the disk shape. Wrap the cake mixture around it, then roll it in your hands until you have a ball shape again.
Now you need to set your balls in the freezer, put the balls onto a tray lined with grease proof paper., then place in the freezer for at least half an hour. The cake balls should be  very cold and hard, this is very important you need them to be very solid otherwise they won’t stay whole when you dip them in the melted chocolate.
Next, prepare your coatings...
In a food processor, pulse the biscuits until you have fine crumbs, suitor to bread crumbs found on normal scotch eggs. Again if you don't have a food processor you can put the biscuits into a sandwich bag and bash into crumbs with a rolling pin. 
Melt the chocolate for  coating your cake balls. Heat 200g dark chocolate in a deep bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. When the chocolate is completely melted its time to coat the cake balls in chocolate.
Take them out the freezer one by one as you’re ready to use them, this will keep them nice and cold. Drop the cake ball into the melted chocolate. Use a fork to swirl them around in the chocolate, turning them over until they are completely coated. Carefully place the chocolate coated ball into the bowl of biscuit crumbs. Use a spoon to roll the ball around until its fully coated in the crumbs. Carefully lift your coated ball onto a grease proof paper lined tray. Allow it to cool, and the chocolate to set completely before eating (tough i know but will be worth the wait) Store in an air tight container in the fridge. For the best texture and flavour, bring them out of the fridge about half an hour before you want to serve them to bring them back to room temperature.


Excuse the chipped nail varnish and fading Henna! 



Sorry for such a lengthy post but this recipe is so worth it! Let me know if you try it out!! 

Happy Easter, Madge x


Sunday, 22 March 2015

Step into spring with the perfect cocktail recipe!

Image-Pinterest

So in the last week we have had the first day of spring, international happiness day, and international cocktail day! Put them together and what do  you get ... a spring time cocktail thats sure to make you happy! I love cocktails and always love to try out new recipes! I thought i would share with you a spring time favourite that i found ages ago on Martha Stewarts site! Its the perfect party drink great for upcoming BBQ's or garden parties this spring, its Strawberry-Rhubarb Sangria and your going to love it! 


Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 2 rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (from 1 orange) 
  • 1 orange, halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices 
  • 1 pack strawberries, hulled and quartered 
  • 4 cups chilled soda water/ tonic 
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) chilled sparkling wine, such as Champagne or Prosecco 
  • Ice


  • Directions:
    In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, add the rhubarb. Pour the mixture to a medium heatproof bowl and let cool to room temperature. (about 30 minutes)
    Meanwhile, in a pitcher or large bowl, combine orange juice, orange, and strawberries. To serve, add cooled rhubarb mixture, soda water/tonic, sparkling wine, and ice.

    SO there you go super easy & super delicious, the perfect drink for a spring time get together or  if your like me the perfect companion for a days sunbathing ;)! Let me know what you think!

    Madge x

    Wednesday, 18 March 2015

    Meat Free Week!



    Next week is the start of a really great challenge! ' Meat Free week' its a global campaign with the aim to get us thinking about the amount of meat we eat, and the impact it has not only on the animals but on our health and the environment! Now I'm a big green freak, anything to help the planet and I'm there! I have always thought that we are so lucky to live on this planet and that its down to us to keep it going. There is too much consumption going on in the world, we need to stop and think how we are effecting whats around us!

     So on that note i pledge not to eat meat next week! I already try my best to buy my foods from local sources, and only buy foods that are free range, but as from next week i will be going veggie! I have two vegan housemates so i know how delicious vegan/vegetarian foods can be. Although i know for a lot of you meat is a staple in your diet and you won't want to let go of your beloved fried chicken or steak...but this one week of change has so many benefits its really worth giving it a go! 

    On a whole we now consume meat with almost every meal! Eating this much meat has become at a huge cost to our health, the environment and the welfare of the animals we're eating. By taking part in meat free week, or even just  eating less meat you can have a positive effect on all of these things. It seems crazy that by eating less meat you can have an impact on the environment, animal welfare AND your health but its true! Through research its seen that increasing the amount of fruit, veggies and whole grains in our diet and lowering our intake of meat is best for optimum health. 


    Meat Free Week is also a great way to raise money for some worthwhile charities that support the cause. Some of the money raised is reinvested back into the Meat Free Week campaign enabling it to continue growth on a global scale! Most importantly, this week of no nuggets is about education, becoming more aware, and having the knowledge to make positive informed choices. So give it a go! Try out some amazing meat free recipes and do the world some good whilst your at it! Heres the link to Meat Free Week online page for more information and recipe ideas! :) Also If your interested in this sort of thing a documentary on Netflix called 'Hungry For Change' is great, a real eye-opener, so give that a watch too if you like :)  

    Let me know how  you get on, or if you have any recipes you think i should try out! 
    Madge x



    Saturday, 14 March 2015

    Make mothers day personal!

    I love to make my mum something extra special to make her feel super on her day and quite rightly so! Through out the year I've trailed all handy crafts to create weird and wonderful presents for her to unwrap each mothering Sunday! But this year I've found some great ideas that are still just as personal but the professionals do the work!  What better way to surprise your mum than with something personal for mothers day.. something a bit quirky, original, one of a kind yet still very personal to her! Well I've got three cool ideas for last minuet buys or something to bare in mind next  time, these gift ideas are great for birthday presents too!

    Im sure you have all heard of the amazing 'Boomf' magical marshmallow making company, and if not then your in for a treat! Boomf is a London Based company that can print your Instagram pictures onto delicious marshmallows! This truly unique idea looks amazing and is a tasty treat too! They come in a snazzy little box and can be used for all sorts such as topping a cake, popping in your hot choc or straight in your mouth. At £15 per box (X9Marshmallow squares) they are not the cheapest sweet on the block, but Boomf do offer free delivery world wide, and you can even collect from Selfridges if you like! I think it is a little pricey but for a present idea that is personal yet totally cool this is a great choice!

    Image - google 


    Next up is another photo style present but a little more straight forward! PrintKlub don't print your pictures onto sweets but they do just about everything else from fridge magnets to retro Pola ID strips like you get in a Photo Booth, to actual polaroids! You can recreate your own images in a 'new' retro style! Ive actually ordered a selection of pictures of my mum with me and my brothers to be made into mini magnets for her fridge i though it was a cute little extra to what i have already made her! They are only £7.95 come in a gorgeous little box AND i have a code you can use that almost halves the price! Theres so many cool options to have your images printed onto with this company, its a really lovely way to look back on great memories you photos hold! (Heres the promo code : HanBO3)

    Image- Printklub


    And last but not least is the amazing personalised Nutella jars! Now my mum is more of a Reese peanut butter gal so i won't be getting her one but i think they are just fantastic as gift ideas! I know id love to receive one for sure, a jar of chocolatey goodness that literally has your name written all over it - Simple yet amazing! Although no longer available online you can collect your personalised jar in Selfridges food halls! 

    Image- Selfidges

    So thats my three picks if your not going to DIY it for mothers day, let me know if you tried any out! But personally i think breakfast in bed,  a homemade card or a baked good made lovingly by you along with a little time spent together is the best gift to give to your mum on mothers day!

    Madge x




    Sunday, 8 March 2015

    Happy International Women's Day!!




    Ladies...today is a day to be proud! Stand up tall and shake your tail feathers because today is INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY! For those that don't know what International Women's day is, its a day that marks the celebration of achievements of women across all fields. IWD is  always celebrated on March the 8th, the first International Women's Day was held way back in 1911. And before you haters say anything, its not about being a raging feminist, or degrading mens achievements! It is simply a day to be proud of your personal achievements big or small, an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of all women, as well as calling for greater equality through out the globe. 

    There are tons of events all over the globe to get involved with to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women, with over 350 in the UK alone! Follow this link to the official IWD site to get involved! Make It Happen is the 2015 theme for the international women's day, encouraging effective action for advancing and recognising women. 


    One suggestion i have to 'make it happen' for yourself would be to join the Female entrepreneur association 'Mission for March' ! The Female Entrepreneur Association is an online hub with the mission of inspiring and empowering women from around the world to turn their ideas into a reality, build successful businesses and live a life they love. I know were not all building businesses but its full of really inspirational quotes and tips! For the March mission all you do is Enter your details, with a goal you want to achieve by the end of march in mind. You will receive support through out the moth through a handy booklet guide and planner. Not only that you can join their Facebook group for support from great women all pushing to achieve something! What ever your goal, if it be personal, business related, IWD focussed, this will help you get to the finish line! 


    Use today as your stepping stone to make a difference, think globally and act locally! Continue to make everyday International Women's Day, try and do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding. Because at the end of the day if we don't push for a change who will!?

    "Here's to strong women, may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them."

    Madge x