Thursday, 29 November 2012

More Mani's...

Some more mani's I did this week... using my Red Carpet Manicure gel kit, and Martha Stewart Glitter. Smokey, bronze tones on me and duck-egg blue on my mother in law! 

Having so much fun with these, I can't wait to change them ;) 


Thursday, 22 November 2012

Peanut butter banana dairy free muffins...

I love you.

I do. 

Each and everyone of you. 

I know that, right now, you might not believe me. You might be thinking, "how could that possibly be true?? He doesn't even know me!"... 

Well, just bake these. 

Just bake these (go on, you probably even have all the ingredients to hand)... Then come back and tell me you don't feel loved- I dare you ;) 

These are good. Seriously good. And multi-functional, too. 

Add the glaze and you have a decadent sweet treat, rich enough to rectify even the worst sugar craving, but, leave it off, and you have a (almost) virtuous confection- bursting with the goodness of oats and bananas, and both low in fat and sugar, too! 

In fact, they're even dairy free, and with the gentlest of tweaking, could be made vegan, too. 

Now, really, you couldn't ask for more than that, could you??

So, you need (makes 12): 


2 Bananas (the worse they look, the better they'll be- trust me!) 
2 Eggs (to make a vegan version, just replace these with another banana) 
125g Peanut Butter (crunchy is my preference for the added texture) 
150g Sugar (brown adds a nice extra flavour, but it really doesn't matter) 
50g Fat (we use Pure
250ml "Milk" (we use Kara
275g Plain Flour 
50g Oats 
1 tbsp Baking Powder 


1 extra heaped tbsp* Peanut Butter (smooth for a smooth glaze, if preferred) 
1 extra heaped tbsp* Fat (Pure, again!) 
2 tbsp* golden syrup 
6 extra heaped tbsp* icing sugar 

Start the muffins: 

Preheat the oven to 190c (really preheat it- it makes a difference!). 

Line a 12 hole muffin tin. 

In one large bowl, mash the bananas together with the sugar, eggs, peanut butter and melted fat. Then stir in the milk. 

In another large bowl, combine the flour, oats and baking powder. 

Now, fold the dry ingredients in to the wet (or vice-versa, depending on which is the larger bowl!). 

Stir this gently, and do it by hand- over-mixing will make the muffins tough and heavy. Stop as soon as the flour has been incorporated (but don't worry about the odd streak left here and there- it'll bake out). 

Bake for 18-24 mins (in my oven, it's 19 exactly!) until a tester comes out clean. 

Leave to cool. 

Once cool(-ish), start making the glaze. 


*I've listed the measurements for the glaze as tablespoons, but, unlike the muffin recipe, I don't mean the real, 15ml tablespoon. Here, just use the big spoon you would eat with! 

I am bad and wicked and evil, so I use a microwave for this step- just adapt the directions to suit your preferences. 

In a medium bowl, melt together the peanut butter, fat and golden syrup. Once melted, stir in the icing sugar, and give it a good beating to remove any lumps (of icing sugar- you'll be beating a long time if you're trying to beat out the nuts from the peanut butter!). 

You should end up with a thick, glossy, spreadable glaze. 

Top each muffin with a dollop and spread with the back of a spoon. 

 Now eat (as with all muffins, there are best the day they're made). 


Saturday, 17 November 2012

Bubbacue, Belfast... a review!

Today, Abigail and I were lucky enough to be invited along to Bubbacue, Boojum's sister pop-up restaurant, so, along with my parent's, we aimed to sample everything on the menu- for purely journalistic purposes, of course!

Strictly a meat-lover's joint, the main focus of the menu is the pork and beef prepared in the, shipped over from America specially, smoker. Each option, except the ribs, is available as both a platter, or a sandwich- embracing the same stripped back menu style that enjoyed such success in Boojum. As manager Fiona said, by reducing the options, they can specialise, focusing their attention at being the very best at what they do.

As you can see (hopefully!) from the photo's above, prices here are slightly higher than the usual for lunch in Belfast, with sandwiches being around £6, and platters being around £10, making it a bit more of a consideration than just nipping in for a quick bite. However, in exchange, you do get to sit down, enjoy the ambience, absorb the paired back, rustic decor, and relax...which on a bustling, hectic day like today, in Belfast, was a huge perk!

So, the food?

Well, this was a very difficult review to write...I don't ever want to be in the position of not being able to get a table, so I don't really want everyone to know just how good it was!

The pulled pork was as moist, tender, flavourful and delicious as that we've seen on "Triple D", the brisket was, again, moist, tender, and served in thin, juicy slices, but with a bit more chew than the pork- for those who like their meat with a bit of bite. The other option we sampled was, in our opinion, the absolute star of the show- the Barbeque Ribs.

These were, simply, incredible. Glazed and sticky with a sweet, subtly smokey flavour, the meat just fell from the bone in moist, intensely savoury mouthfuls of deliciousness.

As a sandwich, your choice of meat comes in a soft, floury bread roll, with a mound of coleslaw, a crisp, sharp counter to the rich meat, and a slice of dill pickle. In platter form, your meat comes with coleslaw, richly spiced and moreish baked beans, intensely cheesey, creamy mac & cheese, and, our other star, some astounding corn bread...cornbread so good that, instead of dessert, one of our (rather sweet-toothed) party ordered more!

The portions aren't huge, but certainly satisfying, and for those who are extra hungry, the cornbread, mac & cheese, and coleslaw, are all available (in larger portions than those served with the platter), along with skinny-cut french fries and chicken wings, as sides.

The two options for dessert, in true american style, were pies!

The key lime was fragrant, fresh and zesty, with just the right amount of sweetness, while the Mississippi Mud was dense, creamy, and gorgeously chocolately. Either option acting as the perfect complement to what has gone before.

In all honesty, Bubbacue does what it sets out to do with great success. The atmosphere is laid-back and comfortable, and the food, all the way down to the four special sauces, is delicious. It may not be the cheapest option for lunch, but, from what we've experienced, you're ensured a fantastically tasty meal and great, helpful, service in a central location. Only guaranteed to be there for the next three months, Abi and I recommend you get down to Callender Street NOW!


Saturday, 10 November 2012

Weekend Manicure...

This is my new gel manicure! Going out tonight to see friends, so I thought I would preen a little ;)

This one is created with my Red Carpet Manicure gel kit, as detailed in my last post, and Martha Stewart Craft glitter in Onyx, dusted on to create the ombré! I was a little worried this would look like I had been digging in dirt, but I kind of like it, so I think I got away with it...

Fancy nails are a girls best friend!
Happy w/end, all.


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Heirloom for Liberty...

Before the Wedding, we undertook the huge task of creating a line of exclusive Heirloom Patchwork Quilts for our favourite store in the world...Liberty London

It took us a LOOOOONNNNG time to turn the 1400+ little squares of abigail*ryan's finest cotton, along with gorgeous Irish linen, in to these quilts in time for keeping some lucky people warm this Winter, but it was totally worth it. Each quilt have over 35 hours of careful hand-work in them, so they truly are a labour of love and an item we intend to be able to be handed down through the generations... getting better and better with love and use.

We are incredibly proud of these gorgeous creations, each containing all of our a*r patterns, and hope you love them, too. They will debut in store shortly, so head to Liberty if you would like a look!
Fear not, we will have some more Quilts debuting on the website shortly!


Saturday, 3 November 2012

Red Carpet Manicure!

Let's talk manicure's... more specifically, GEL manicures. You know, those wonderful long lasting ones that give you glossy hard-wearing nails for up to two/three weeks. Yes, those. I for one, am in love with them! 

Working with my hands every day has meant that although I LOVE to look after my nails, and paint them, I never got more than a day or two out of my nail polish, which meant the hour or so it took me to do them really ate into my working week. Cue Red Carpet Manicure... 

My mother in law bought me a gel kit (after I had tried, and loved, hers!) which she had bought on QVC. It came with all the tools and prep bits you needed to get your nails ready for the easy three step curing process, which you paint on like normal nail polish (base, colour (2 coats) and top coat), curing each layer under your little portable LED light for about 45 seconds. When you're done, you're DONE! Your nails are glossy, hard, and totally dry... which takes a little getting used to, it's so great. 

I am more than a little obsessed with nail art, as you can see from my pinterest board, Polish It, so I am so happy that I have figured out how to include glitter (Martha Stewart Craft Glitter is the BEST!) in my mani, and I am excited to try out lots of different colour combinations and designs. 

So far, I only have four Red Carpet Manicure Colours - and they're all GORGEOUS! I can't wait to get more... It was previously quite hard to chose from the colour card, though I'm delighted they've updated their website, as I had found them quite different in person, but my local Sally's has started doing them, so it's great to be able to see them in the flesh, too. 

I want to spread the word far and wide about this amazing home kit, as it's so easy and really awesome for people who work with their hands - believe me, it's almost impossible to break a nail (so I was able to grow great length for our Wedding, which I normally can't do!) so it's a life-saver if you're busy, but want to look polished.

Yay for nails!

A @ a*r