Valentine’s Day & Gorgeous Gifts To Hint For

Some may cringe when I say that I’m a romantic, that I believe in Valentine’s day.. Some may say that “If you’re a real romantic, you shouldn’t need Valentine’s day”.. I think it’s lovely to have a day where you just celebrate ‘LOVE’, it needn’t be romantic love but celebrate the love of your family, your pet, do kind deeds and just do generally lovely things.. are you with me?

This year, we’re planning a night away in the venue of our wedding, Carton House in Maynooth, dinner and a nights stay followed by time together, enjoying the spa facilities and afternoon tea. From there, we’ll go to The Shelbourne, where Ryan will enjoy a hot towel shave and, you got it….Afternoon Tea. We haven’t splashed out in a long long time so it’s worth it.

I’ve been searching the internet for months and found the ideal dresses for Valentines day, The Pretty Dress Company from the UK offers vintage style dresses that are budget friendly and exquisitely cut, extremely flattering dresses with beautiful fabrics even with a stretch! I’m even considering wearing one of their dresses to this year’s Dublin Horse Show.

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Dresses by The Pretty Dress Company, shoes by DUNE and Steve Madden at Dune

I love dressing up for Valentines day, I soak in an aromatherapy bubble bath the night before until my skin is gleaming, give myself a mani/pedi, the Chanel body lotion is used, hair deeply conditioned and set in rollers, I love to be polished.. I bought a dress for Christmas from The Pretty Dress Company before Christmas and I must say, they are true to size, all designed and made in the UK too. I bought the black Adrienne dress, a stretchy black, slightly ribbed fabric, ruching on the tummy too so it’s extremely forgiving and can be machine washed too!! The dresses are sent by courier and normally arrive within three days. I miss when shoes were incredibly beautiful, around the time Sex & The City was airing, shoes were like works of art, unlike now, they’re all like bricks and astronaut shoes with enormous block heels or porn star shoes. Dune have managed to maintain the art of beautiful shoes, shoes that you could match with a piece of couture with stunning handbags to match, the shoes above are my favourites, especially the Steve Madden sandals,with a dress like these, the hemline is much lower, true to that 1950’s style and although a court shoe is lovely, I feel that sandals like these will lengthen the leg and you can show off your pedicure too. If I wear court shoes, I love to wear backseamed tights or stockings, a more authentic look and really finish it off- don’t forget the pretty underwear!


…and as for the valentines day hints…

A Trip To The Amalfi..?

If you want to create a mood, we all know that candles are the way to go.. Max Benjamin have come out with the most beautiful collection of candles and diffusers inspired by one of the world’s most beautiful, colourful and fragrant coastlines. From Sorrento to Positano, over to beautiful Capri on a boat and then further south to Amalfi. An aroma journey of local fresh citrus fruits, plunging cliffs with wild flowers and showers of fresh romantic sea air! I indulged in a couple of the scent cards which can be used in your handbag, wardrobe, underwear drawer or car. You can purchase the collection from Kilkenny Shop’s nationwide.

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a photo of max benjamin amalfi candlesFiori Rosa

Fiori Rosa has top notes of grapefruit, bergamot and tangerine, a heart of rosemary and jasmine, with a base of vetiver and musk.

 

 

a photo of max benjamin amalfi candlesDolce Sole

Dolce Sole has top notes of grapefruit, bergamotand tangerine, a heart of rosemary and jasmine, with a base of vetiver and musk.

 

 

 

a photo of max benjamin amalfi candlesAcqua Viva

Acqua Viva contains top notes of mandarin, orange, lemon and cassis.  Middle notes are cardamom and pepper with base notes of musk, amber and cedarwood.

 

 

A Charming Affair?

If you’ve been following my social media platforms, you’ll have noticed that I’m a huge fan of ALEX AND ANI and it’s available in Ireland through The Kilkenny Shop. I never before showed interest in charm bracelets, the heavy klunkiness of them never appealed to me, until I discovered these. An eco conscious company, using all recycled materials, down to their packaging, the materials named Raphaelian Gold/Silver named after the founder of the company, Carolyn Raphaelian. They are indredibly light, you wouldn’t even know you were wearing them if it weren’t for the rewarding little jingle of the talismans that dandle from the stackable bangles.

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You create your own positive energy with your own customised collection of charms/talismans, for example the Frog Prince (pictured left) which  symbolises someone coming into your life at the right time for the right reasons. This is one of the 2017 Valentines range available in Kilkenny Shops all over the country or online.

My personal collection includes the Hand of Fatima, The Compass, The Butterfly and the June birthstone.

Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve…?

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I’ve always had a softspot for Newbridge Silverware, we’ve used their silverware and cutlery in our house since my Nana’s time. When Ireland’s sweetheart Amy Huberman and Newbridge joined up to create the Amy collection, I got really excited! I’m not one to wear yellow gold but this was an exception. It’s positively radiant with guilded beauty, how fitting for a little sunshine pendant to gleam in the sun on your neck..? Better still, a gleaming heart to signify a burning love? I wear the NL060 Charm necklace (pictured right). I love it and I love how it’s got a drawstring feature, like most Newbridge pendant’s have now, so you can adjust it to suit any neckline or neck size. Earrings in studs or drops also available.

 

 

a photo of Amy Huberman Jewellery by Newbridge Silverware

 

Keeping It Natural..

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Okay, keeping  some of the best for last… If you’re Irish, you’ll have heard of Chupi or seen her divine Instagram account.

Chupi is a multi-award winning jewellery brand founded by former Topshop designer Chupi Sweetman. Irresistibly drawn to “wild and natural things” Chupi’s aesthetic is influenced by the imperfect natural beauty of feathers, twigs and leaves complemented by the sparkliest of gemstones. Our signature piece is the I Can Fly Swan Feather Ring cast in solid sterling silver and plated in 18k gold from a delicate swan feather found along the banks of Dublin’s Royal Canal. We create a delicate jewellery collection made for your inner magpie, with fans around the world from London to Tokyo. Each piece is designed, manufactured and finished in Ireland.

The gemstone rings make my heart positively pounds when I see them, glistening with such fury, they’d make Marie Antoinette blush. I tried some one at the Craft & Design fair at the RDS last December, far too small for me was the one on display but by god I want one!

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This one was far too teeny tiny for my fingers, but look at the sparkle on that gemstone!

a photo of Chupi laurels necklace

Chupi’s Laurels necklace, wrapped around my wrist as a bracelet

And then there’s this…beauty..

This Guess bag stole my heart, the Tulip Clutch bag comes with a gold chain, so you can sling it over your shoulders when you want to dance with your love on Valentines night… it’s pale gold metallic finish would go perfectly with your little red valentines dress, dustbag also included to keep it looking beautiful for longer. Priced at €89 from Kilkenny Shops nationwide. I can only hint, hint and hint for this.. Also comes in pale pink & black.

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Gold Tulip Clutch by Guess

Better still, pop in to The Kilkenny Shop and grab one of their clever ‘Hint Hint’ cards, jot down what you’re lusting after, give it to your significant other and if they return to buy it, you can win a prize!  Now that’s direct!

Whatever you do, however you celebrate, have a gorgeous day!

Sarah

xx

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To The Hosts: Let Tesco Help You Make The Perfect Christmas

It’s definitely starting to feel like.. C H R I S T M A S!

The festive feeling kicked off for me earlier last month when I was invited to the Tesco Christmas Press Launch in 25 Fitzwilliam Place, hosted by the beautiful former Pussycat Doll, Kimberly Wyatt. 

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Kimberly began the day with a cooking demo of her favourite holiday treats and the evening continued at the Fitzwilliam Place venue afterwards. 

When I say Tesco went all out, I mean they went ALL out! The door was dressed with a beautiful wreath, garlands and glistening lanterns and as you arrived the host and hostess welcomed you in, took your jacket and invited you into the parlour for a drink..

You see, the house was dressed like a (quite luxurious) family home, the tree was standing over dozens of gifts and toys, a cozy sofa sat in front of a dressed fireplace, complete with a post dinner board game and even ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ played on the TV… there was so much to take in, there was something happening in every corner of the house, and enough food and drink to feed a small country! Tesco know how to host a Press Launch I tell you..! Jay Gatsby would have been proud! All of this, made possible with Tesco products.

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My favourite thing of the evening was the Prosecco Bar, who in their right mind wouldn’t prop themselves up on it for the evening? The cocktail of the evening was Tesco’s Prosecco with a dash of their Sloe Gin! Now this is something I never would have thought of doing, the Sloe berries giving the Prosecco a beautiful festive blush colour and a flavour to blow your socks off, it’s fruity and delicious! The glasses were garnished with strawberries but at Christmas I’ll use redcurrant for a festive look.

Upstairs, we had ‘The Good Room’ a display Christmas dinner was laid out, live music and lashings of chocolates, mince pies and cheese, canapé’s circulated the room too, all of which were Tesco’s own! 

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There is nothing I love more than playing hostess, I must admit I was one of the 36% of Irish people that finds Christmas overwhelmingly stressful, my first time cooking Christmas dinner was a battle but it worked out perfectly. I have nailed it over the last few years, learning how to organise myself and plan ahead but Tesco have made things extremely helpful this year.. Take their Bord Bia approved Irish ham fillet that is ready to cook, with mulling spices like Ginger, Pimento, Nutmeg, Clove, Cinnamon in addition to apples and oranges… delicious!


My Top Tip:

Remove saltiness by boiling your ham joint in water for thirty minutes before draining it and replacing the water with fresh water and spices, I also add a can of hard cider to the water for extra flavour, in addition to a pint of apple juice.

Remove the large fat cap after boiling and cut diamond shapes into the remaining fat, placing cloves into your incisions. Make a delicious glaze by combining a jar of marmalade with a glass of whiskey and a cup of  brown sugar, warming it in a saucepan until combined, paint it over the ham with a pastry brush. Place the ham in a 170° C oven and re-glaze every thirty minutes for 90 minutes, your ham will be a beautiful burnished golden brown and will taste amazing, I do this every year and it turns out wonderful!


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Brussels Sprouts Chocolates €3.99

I, like everyone else ,do over indulge at Christmas-we all do but I was amazed by the sweet treats they have to offer this year… the most genius has to be the chocolates that are disguised as brussels sprouts and new potatoes… Are there little pickers in your house that nibble on the treats while dinner is in the oven? These might help and they ACTUALLY look like vegetables!! Then there is their little chocolates with cocktail flavours of Bellini and Kir Royale.. Forget watching Willy Wonka this christmas,  standing in the sweet Isle at your local Tesco, you’ll feel like you’re in the movie!! Definitely something to load up on for the movies after dinner!
Did I mention they have a gluten free range of treats too?? Check it out!
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A selection of gluten free & dairy free treats so nobody is left out!

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Tesco Finest* Safari Collection Chocolates €7.99, a selection of milk, dark & white Belgian chocolates with follings of Pink Hilalayan Salt, Madagascan vanilla and other exotic fillings.

party_food-newTo me, a hostess provides plenty of food that will keep people talking for weeks and the Champagne flowing of course! There are plenty of delicious canape’s to choose from including a 2 for €6 selection of skewers, Asian finger food, delicious Brie & Cranberry Filo parcels (which I get every year for my Christmas Eve ‘Nibblies and Champagne’ without fail) you cannot go wrong! Use silver trays for immaculate presentation or serve on antique forks… failing that, they also stock disposable silver party platters so there’s no excuse not to look spectacular! Adding garnishes like olives, capers, parmesan shards and creme fraiche with chives will amp it up even more – your guests will think you have caterer’s in!

Tesco Platters

Regal Foil Platters, pack of three €4

Okay so if Filo Parcels and Champagne are not your thing, there are mini battered cocktail sausages, mini chicken Kievs, sausage rolls, loaded potato skins and chicken wings among a host of other delicious treats and refreshing craft beers for the boys at 4 for €10!

craft-beersI simply adore a glass of fizz at Christmas, it’s either that or Mulled Wine,  if you want a decent bottle of Prosecco that’s not going to taste cheap- after all it is Christmas, Finest* Prosecco at €18 a bottle offers  flavours of crisp apple, grapefruit and a hint of honey, which will compliment festive food beautifully! Why not mix it up a little too with their beautiful Finest* French Grain Vodka (€27) make some delicious cocktails, just like Grey Goose but not the price tag!croppedimage1180664-christmas-hub-prosecco


Anyone For A Cocktail?

A little Festive Punch from Tesco

A fruity Christmas cocktail that sure packs a punch! This festive drink calls for clementine and cranberry juice, vodka, brown sugar and mint to garnish.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Servings: 6-8 people

Ingredients

200ml vodka
200ml cranberry juice
200ml clementine juice
6 tsp brown sugar (optional)
300ml soda water
150g fresh cranberries
small bunch fresh mint, leaves picked
crushed ice

Preparation

Fill a large jug or punch bowl with the ice.

Add the vodka, cranberry and clementine juice and stir to combine.

If you want to add a little sweetness to this naturally sharp-tasting punch, stir in the sugar and mix until dissolved.

Top up with the soda water and garnish with the cranberries and mint leaves.


Moving away from booze and chocolates, I was saving the best for last, D E S S E R T..

Whether you’re a chocoholic, classic sponge fan, all about Christmas pudding and custard or a cheeseboard lover,  there is something for everyone at Tesco this Christmas! We got to taste their finest cheeses on the night, enjoy 3 for €10 and 2 for €5 on selected cheeses.

To get a cheeseboard right, start with combining a hard cheese, a blue and a creamy cheese, like a Brie, Stilton and a fruity Wensleydale or mature Cheddar, add some grapes, figs, cherries and dried apricots, a little chutney and perhaps a handful of Finest* Goats Cheese and Chilli Crisps.

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Personally, I like to be wowed, what if I told you that they combined a cheeseboard with desserts and created something really special? Try passionfruit cheesecake, coconut pannacotta, lemon mousse and white chocolate blondies, oh good lord, I can’t cope! I feel the pounds coming on! They look like cheese…but they’re sweet desserts!! Genius!

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There really is  a lot to offer! But remember, don’t forget, it’s a time to spend with your family, try not to spend all your time in the kitchen,  Tesco have done the hard work so you can enjoy precious time with your family! Kimberly Wyatt, ex Pussycat Doll and winner of ‘Celebrity Masterchef’ shared her top tips on preparing the perfect meal:

  • Don’t Over Complicate Things-Do a few dishes. Pick your favourite Christmas dinner components and concentrate your energies on making them to the best of your ability.
  • Keep It Simple! You don’t need to offer your guests 10 different types of vegetables; they’ll be more happy with two or three.
  • Let Meat Rest- Let your roast turkey rest for 30 minutes before serving-this will give you valuable time to finish off your roast potatoes and trimmings.
  • Perparation Is The Key- Get as much done in advance as possible. You don’t want to be peeling vegetables when the guests are arriving. Prepare your vegetables the night before.
  • Don’t Overcrowd Your Oven– It’s really important to not overcrowd your oven because the food won’t work as it should and the trimmings will be thrown off.
  • Don’t Overfill Your Trays– When it comes to roasting potatoes, make sure there’s plenty of space between them. If you pile them up on top of each other, they’ll steam when what you want is for them to fry in the bottom of the tray.

Thanks Kimberley, there’s some great advice there!

Below are some more photos from the press event, the food on display, including the meal, was donated to foodcloud after the event.

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 Don’t forget,  you can shop online too!

Click to shop


I have not been sponsored nor received payment of any kind for this post.

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Whelehan’s Wines: Hampers For The Wine Lovers..

If you’re from Dublin, you’ll know the Silver Tassie in Loughlinstown, it was always a bit of a landmark, in 2014  it was taken over by Whelehan Wines and to be frank, it’s the Harrods of wine shops, a vast space filled with the most sumptuous wines with regular wine tasting events and a cafe with delicious pastries and coffee.

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Coffee and pastry from Whelahan’s cafe.

Whelehan’s only select the finest wines from a range of hand picked vineyards with wines from €8.99 so you’re sure to get something special.

This Christmas, if you’re fretting over gifts for friends, then look no further, David’s team have come up with some beautiful hampers for Christmas. Whether it’s a male friend who appreciates a good craft beer or a friend that has everything and loves luxury & sparkling wine-like myself (I have indeed dropped a huge hint on this one) there is something for everyone.

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First off, you have the Prosecco & Chocolate Hamper, I sent this picture to Mr.Creative Yoke, just in case ‘Santa’ has any issues on deciding what to get me, you know yourself.. This hamper comes in at €59.00, it’s not going to break the bank and will bring a torrent of pleasure to the recipient, 6x 20cl bottles of Bottega Prosecco & 2 Bean & Goose chocolate bars are also in this hamper…just to make it that extra bit special…

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And then there is the 6 Bottle Craft Beer Gift Set, a selection of some of Ireland’s best craft beers, now this would make a great stocking filler for my husband who loves craft beers, priced at €28.

 

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Lastly, I’m featuring the Half Bottle Hamper, a selection of 6 of Davids favourite half bottles of Wine, aparkling Wine & Port, not forgetting a bar of Bean & Goose again as we all know, chocolate & wine are a perfect pairing. The hamper retails at €89.

 

 

For a wider selection of their hampers and Christmas gifts or find out more about products, pop over to their website.

 Call: 01 901 1144

Drop them and email: sales@whelehanswines.ie

 

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Cocoa Brown:The Goddess Collection Shimmer Oils

unnamed1-1Christmas is on the way and Marissa Carter, the genius she is, has brought out a multipack of her beautiful Goddess oils, guaranteed to make you twinkle like the string lights at the office Christmas party. The multipack features the new ‘Ice Goddess’ which is perfect for the season that’s in it. The best thing is that they can be used as ‘Primelighters’ applied to the skin under your makeup to give a healthy dewy glow- but remember, a little goes a long way, leave the C-3PO look to him… I love it down my shins and my collar bones.. The pack is available from Primark for €13.

 

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Fallon & Byrne Dun Laoghaire

The Exterior Of The Old Tea Rooms (Now Fallon & Byrne)

You’ve got to love Fallon & Byrne, Ireland’s oasis for the seasoned epicurean, they have fruit and veg you will never have heard of before…like Mouli…had no idea what that was- now I know it’s a vegetable used a lot in Asian cooking.. it also seems to be the only place you can get a Dragonfruit in Dublin..

Moving swiftly on, F&B have been copied by other businesses around the country but never equalled, upstairs in the Exchequer St location, is a function room and an elegant continental style restaurant with crisp white linens. The People’s park restaurant opened in the old Victorian tea room building which used to be a dingy old greasy spoon with PVC tablecloths, painted white walls, strip lighting and bad coffee, the overhaul was a breath of fresh air when it arrived, circa 2014, a large space with wooden floors, the painted walls were banished and extended out with glass walls, wood and red brick with cozy wool chairs and the upmarket gastropub menu is to die for! On the menu is fluffy panko coated cod (actual cod not substitute) with delicious home made tartare sauce, and the burgers are to die for Ballyhenry beef with basil aioli and pickled cucumber with deliciously crisp french fries. If you just want a bowl of soup to warm your heart, the portions are huge and do try the seafood chowder, chock full of fish, big hearty chunks, you won’t need to eat for a week!!

Mixed Vegetable Soup With Toasted Pine Nuts..

Panko-Breaded Cod with pea puree, home made tartare sauce & French Fries

Fallon & Byrne Burger

If That’s Not Food Porn…What Is?

I do love how the staff are all bubbly, have a passion for food and engage in banter with punters, it’s so refreshing, the atmosphere is as light and airy as the decor- a breath of fresh air! If you find yourselves overwhelmingly full with a feeling of “Bolg na Nollaig” (Christmas belly in Irish), take a walk on the pier and get some fresh air while you walk off that overindulgence..

Honestly, it’s not very expensive, we went for our 6th wedding anniversary lunch and expected to pay more, we had the full starter and main, drinks, pellegrino and a glass of Prosecco all for €65! Outstanding! Considering the quality of the food, completely top drawer! I hope you go & enjoy- ’cause you will!

©CreativeYokeBlog


fallon-and-byrne-1443793717
RESTAURANT: Monday to Saturday 12-9pm | Sunday 12-8pm
TAKEAWAY CAFÉ DELI: open daily from 9am-5pm
 +353 1 230 3300 
peoplespark@fallonandbyrne.com
http://www.fallonandbyrne.com

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Dublin’s Best Pizza: A Slice Of The Big Apple In Dublin

There are some pretty awesome pizza places around Ireland, for example,  recently while visiting Galway, Joyce’s Supermarket opened up this pretty amazing freestanding Pizzeria, called ‘M Pizza’, owned by a really friendly Sicilian man. This man makes….. the most amazing … Continue reading

The ‘Humble Crumble’ Apple Crumble Bars I Entered Into The Happy Pear’s Apple Festival Bake Off!

There’s one thing every Irish person appreciates and that’s an apple tart, or a crumble for that matter, we’ll take them any way, with rhubarb, with pouring cream, with ice cream or even warm custard, just gorgeous. There is always … Continue reading

Thinking About Halloween…

Halloween isn’t that far away and if you’re planning a party, it’s never too early to start planning and shopping for props and decorations, here is a post I wrote a couple of years ago that might help you get in the mood for the spooky season,

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I am incredibly excited to confirm that I have made it as a finalist in TWO categories of the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards!! I just wanted to thank everyone for taking the time to vote for me, your voted made up 20% of my points and every single vote mattered.

Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart!! The awards are on September 15th so I still need a lot of luck, hope somebody up above is watching down over me..

Thank you again for your support.

Love,

Sarah xx

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