Caramel Popcorn Cake

DSC_9959title Ryno’s birthday was nearly a month ago already and I am only getting around to share the special cake I made for him now. That is how behind on blogging schedule I am! But better late than never! I copped out and bought a box cake because I actually like this particular one and it is quite affordable. I just add one extra egg.

Any vanilia sponge cake recipe should work though!

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I made two layers of vanilla cake and a whole lotta buttercream icing that I flavoured caramel. Inbetween the two layers I put some homemade toffee sauce. I used this recipe which actually tastes great with just about anything!

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I finished it off by garnishing with caramel popcorn, which was a great addition! I would just advise you to leave it off until right before you eat it. Or you can create a nice little challenge for yourself. Hint: it involves eating an entire cake in one day!

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Mother’s Day Gift Guide 2015

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Wow, I can barely believe that it already Mother’s Day. Where has this year gone? Anyway, it feels like this holiday crept up on me and if you’re like me you can do with a little help in this department. We rarely go big with gifts for these “Hallmark holidays” but I still enjoy the sentiment. I am sure my mother would be happy with any of these gift, in fact she might have already gotten one of them… So here goes my relatively compact gift guide for Mother’s Day 2015…

  1. Some pretty yet comfortable pyjamas (who can resist polkadots!) from Spree.co.za
  2. Handcream that does the job whilst packaged all innocently from Woolies
  3. An orchid, or any plant or flower really. This is where the personal touch comes in!
  4. A beautiful dish with a few sweet treats like nougat and turkish delight from Woolies
  5. Still not sure? How about a luxurious lipstick in an everyday colour (Chanel Adrienne?), a yummy candle or the best of all – a home cooked dinner that she didn’t have to lift a finger for!

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there.

May Favourites

May used to be one of my favourite months, but in recent years it has lost some of its allure to me. Turning a year older lost its sparkle, my favourite magazines became too expensive and the weather is dreary. But I am determined to enjoy this coming month. I turn 26th on the 19th of May, I have a work conference which might be fun and hopefully my fiance will bring back a few interesting things from his trip to the US.

Besides this, I am excited about tulip season which usually starts around this time of the year. We all know that April showers brings May flowers! I hope that we’ll get a dining table on which I could put a few vases soon. The empty living room is starting to get to me, but I don’t want to make a rash decision which we might regret. Does anyone know where I can find a dining table similar to the one above?

As the weather cools (we just had our first rainy evening) I’m really starting to crave comfort food and this one-pan chicken hits the spot. Whilst we are on the topic of cooking and the kitchen, I really look forward to finishing the kitchen – as in to buy everything we need. I am so sick of starting with something only to realise that I don’t have all the necessary tools. I think we are close, but not entirely there yet. I’d like to celebrate this with a nice utensil holder.

I’d also like to start putting up some are in the living room. We are planning on printing a few pictures from our Italy trip, but I really like this DIY Grey Malin-inspired print idea for creating an impact.

Finally, I am finishing this with boater hats (call me obessed!), a happy chocolate cake (which I wouldn’t mind digging in to) and an irresistable jewelled headband that Blair would approve of.

So happy May to all of you! What are you looking forward to this May?

Style Icon: Lily James

You might know her as Cinderella, but to those who have been watching Downton Abbey she will always be Rose. Her recent press tour for the Disney classic certainly brought my attention to her style. As you know, I am a sucker for a princess dress and boy has she brought it on in that department!

She always looks elegant, whether in it is for a red carpet appearance or a red-eye. She manages to effortlessly go from short and sweet (blue and white Valentino) to suggary sweet pink Elie Saab. She also seems to stick to the two most princess worthy designers out there, Valentino and Elie Saab for her red carpet appearances. And who can blame her? She stunned in red lace Valentino way before her princess days. Asides from the simple princess dresses, she also manages to pull off more edgy looks like enhanced silhouettes and dramatic feathers.

I don’t know what I am looking more forward to- the final season of Downton or more of Lily’s style?

st exclusively Elie Saab and Valentino, the two most princess-worthy designers, on the red carpet she keeps her looks sweet in either soft colours or with her feminine styling. Even when she puts the dresses aside for a long-haul flight, she manages to look put-together and sleek.

April Favourites

Can you believe that the first quarter of the year is already over? Wow it really feels like time flew! It was just yesterday that I got engaged with a year to plan and now we’ve got six months left! But I digress, we’re here to discuss what gets me excited for the coming month.

So lets start with the most obvious – Easter! It might not be my favourite holiday (I find Easter quite depressing) but we do have chocolate to make up for it! And it will be the first weekend we spend in our first home!

Which brings me to my next point, we got the keys to our home last week! Although it is very small, we’ve been painting all week long (cuboards, walls and skirting boards – basically every surface where the paint will stick!). Finding the right grey paint for the walls is a whole new blog post (short version: there are a lot of blues and purples masquerading as grey).

I am really looking forward to just chilling in our new place althoug there is still a lot to do. We really need to get a new bathroom cabinet (as step one of the bathroom make-over) and I am completely lusting over this classic shaker-style cabinet.

Besides all the painting we’ve done, we’re also replacing the hardware on all the doors and for the bedrooms we’ve settled on a similar crystal style and it really does transform the space (not as much as painting the dark cuboards white, but it was well worth the money!)

All this hard work has me lusting for a holiday and all the lovely pictures on Pinterest just isn’t helping! It’s been nearly half a year since our Italy trip (I know-shut up already but I just can’t) and I feel like I’d give anything to go back, or somewhere new. There is so much of Europe that I want to explore still.

I look forward to some normal weekends which don’t require paint clothes – maybe I can even replicate this cute stripes outfit! Oh and I’ll paint my nails my favourite Essie shade, Fiji. It also happens to be great for Easter!

So on that bombshell (yes I watched Top Gear),

I hope you have a great April! Please share what you are looking forward to this month to help everyone stay positive and happy! Sometimes sacrifices are worth it when you keep the greater picture in mind!

Much love,

Astrid

P.S. You can find all the images on my Pinterest account.

 

Home Inspiration

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We are counting the days until we can move into our first home! With little less than a week to wait, I decided to create a style board of everything we want to include in our home. This is also a great way to see whether things works together without having to actually make the splurge. It is going to take us a while to get everything we want for our home, but this will help keep us focused.

Our house has an openplan living area with just enough room for a small dining room and living room. We’re going to start off by painting the room a light grey (something like Dulux’s Grey Steel) and investing in a good couch from Sofaworx (also in grey).

We have kind off prioritised the remaining items and feel that a dining table would be next on our list. We can make do with the mix and match chairs we already own until we can finally replace them with comfortable upholstered chairs with an armrest (also from Sofaworx). These are comfortable enough to act as extra seating in the living room and will look great in the dining room as well.

Storage will also play an important part in our living room as we have a lot of books between the two of us and I love few things more than a good built-in bookcase. These ones from Ikea are also a great option. We haven’t yet decided what size we want, but the large one creates a nice impact.

We’d like to add some warmth and create a cozy atmosphere with aesthetically pleasing lighting and a nice rug that we won’t feel to fussy about (I am clumsy at the best of times, so spills are a given).

One of the last and possibly most expensive things we want is a framed coffee table with a marble of Ceasarstone top. As this is something that we will have to have custom made and not really a necessity this will have to wait a while.

Finally we will accessorize with colourful art, books and loads of candles for atmosphere. I can’t wait to share our little home with you and hope you will come along on what would be a very long journey to decorating our home.

Spree #TrueStory Competition

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I have partnered with Spree.co.za for an awesome competition in which you can win a 25% Discount Voucher to use on ANYTHING* on their website. (Yup, time for the the item that has been in your cart forever. Still looking for ideas? See my winter style favourites here.)

Every day of this week, Spree will have 25% off a selected category. For your chance to win all you have to do is tweet me the following:

  1. What category is on sale that day (will be anounced the day before on their website)
  2. Tag me (@ShopgirlCT)
  3. Tag Spree (@spreecoza)
  4. Use the hastag #TrueStory

Example tweet: “Today there is 25% off dresses @spreecoza! I want 25% off everything @ShopgirlCT #TrueStory”

Terms and Conditions:

  1. The competition runs from the 9th of March until 22h00 on the 15th of March 2015.
  2. Only open to South African and Namibian residents only.
  3. Each correct tweet will be considered a competition entry.
  4. Multiple entries are possible, limited to one a day.
  5. Only those who have followed all of the above requirements will be taken into consideration.
  6. Spree.co.za will reveal the category that will go on sale the previous night.
  7. Only one winner will be announced.
  8. The winner will be selected at random on the evening of the 15th of March 2015 and will be contacted via Twitter for further details.
  9. My decision is final although I have the right to select another winner should the initial winner not respond via social media within a reasonable amount of time.
  10. The 25% discount voucher (hereafter referred to as the prize) is non-transferable and can’t be exchanged for cash.
  11. The discount voucher can be used to get 25% off the total purchase price and is not limited to sale categories.
  12. The prize is only valid for use 7 days after the sale has ended (from the 16th of March 2015).
  13. *The prize can not be used for beauty products or promotional items.
  14. Spree.co.za’s terms and conditions apply.

Best of luck to everyone who enters!

Winter Style with Spree

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My winter closet is in desperate need of an overhaul. It is predominately dark and structured, but I’ve always veered towards classic pieces which sits kind of in the middle of masculine and feminine.

This season I hope to start introducing a few contrasting pieces, like this leather-inset coat from Spree. It has a great structure to it, but the faux leather collar adds a touch of edge and masculinity. I’ll contrast this with a pop of feminity in the form of a pleated shirt, peplum knit or even  pointed stilletos. In my opinion a basic pair of skinny blue jeans is the perfect foil for any statement piece and these from Next not only look great but they also fit the bill.

And who can resist a pair of suede over-the-knee boots? They can be very sexy but worn with a pair of black jean-leggings and an oversized knitted jacket it completes the perfect weekend look.

I am also a recent convert to gold hardware and love the how it adds a touch of luxe to any accessory yet remains understated. The messenger bag is perfect for weekend brunches and the tassle bag is perfect for toting around your weekday essentials. Now just for the final touch, the ultimate red lippie from Bourjois.

Shop these and other great winter essentials at Spree.co.za. I’ll be launching an exciting competition in partnership with Spree tomorrow, so you might want to save those items in your shopping basket before checkout to see what I have in store. Have a great Sunday and see you all tomorrow!

Orange Chicken Burger

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I’ve never been particularly health-conscious so when given the option between white or rye for instance, I’ve always gone with what I most crave. Lately however I’ve been hunting and curating more healthy-ish recipes as I try to be more conscious of what I put into my body. Whilst a burger would probably never be considered healthy, the orange chicken definitely is and eating it on a bun is just one of many ways you can enjoy it. So here follows one of my favourite recipes and it is definitely a crowd pleaser!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 Orange
  • 4-pack skinless chicken breasts
  • Ground pepper
  • 1/2 Cucumber
  • 2 Tbls Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tsp Sugar
  • 4 Ciabatta Buns
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Salad dressing or tangy mayonaisse

Steps:

  1. Combine the orange juice and chopped garlic in a large shallow bowl.
  2. Thinly slice the chicken breasts. This seemed impossible to me until I saw someone else do it, now it is one of the easiest things in the world. You’ll have to work with a sharp serrated knife and then simply apply pressure on each breast with the palm of your hand as you start slowly slicing into it. You should be able to slice each breast into three or four layers.
  3. Marinade the chicken breast in the orange and garlic and give it a good grinding of pepper.
  4. Wash and peel the cucmber into thin slices. A cheese slicer works well for this. Then marinade it in the balsamic and sugar dressing.
  5. Heat up a non-stick pan with a little oil and try to first drain all the orange marinade into the pan. As soon the mixture starts browning you can add the chicken. Remove from pan as soon as it has turned a delicious shade of caramel.
  6. Dress your bun with the mustard, mayo and cucumber before adding the chicken on top.
  7. Dig in!

P.S. I also really enjoy this as a salad. Just add some rocket and avocado.

March Favourites

Hi everyone!

March marks the end of summer here in the southern hemisphere (yet tomorrow is set to be nearly 40 degrees celsius!) so I think this month will settle down. We’ve been so busy the first few months of the year with Ryno starting his new job, house hunting and wedding planning. Whilst it is all very exciting, I do look forward to some later starts to my weekend mornings.

This is also the last month before we officially move into our first home! So load of (cheap) DIY’s to come, like these awesome side tables. I’ve already picked up a piece of trunk from the small forest near our new home. Now I just have to decide on the colour. I’m also researching the best climbing roses for a slightly shady spot in our garden. I’m hoping for something with lots of green foilage (preferably for most the year) with big pink buds.

Along those lines, I’m also sorting the flowers for our wedding this month. It is something I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while and I really hope we can incorporate a few peonies into our budget-friendly arrangements.

Beauty wise I’ve been loving the look from the Micheal Kors show. It’s kind off my everyday look done professionally (and NOT in less than 4 minutes). As Ryno is planning a work trip to the US in the middle of the year, I’ve been compiling a list of want-haves for him to look out for. So any suggestions of absolute beauty must-haves for the natural look-lover that is only available in the US would be welcome. Wow that is a mouthful!

I’ve also finally found some gorgeous golden pave bar studs which will be on heavy rotation this month! I am hoping to pair it with a simple and classic look geared towards the cooler weather I’m expecting at the end of March.

I just think it so great to start the month on a positive note than to just reminisce about the great month past. And so I’m off to go snack on a batch of chocolate bark (my latest addiction) whilst staring at everything that’s yet to make its way into boxes. I hope you all have a great month and please let me know what you’re looking forward to this month!

Much love,

Astrid