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