Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Last week I showed you some new cookie cutters that I had bought from t'internet. I love Fred & Friends stuff and decided that these could be my 'pay day treat' this month.*
Mini Mint and I decided to give them a test them on Monday, given that we had a bank holiday weekend, and nothing planned.  We did a 'dry run' of the dinosaur Dig Ins, planning ahead for Mini Mint's Hallowe'en party, and the Munchstache cutters - again planning ahead for Movember, when my friend Andrea and I are going to be holding a bake sale in work.
Both sets of cutters were easy to use, though the dinosaurs were definitely the winners for usability as the embossing section was separate, meaning you didn't have to struggle to free the cut cookies from the cutter as you did with the Muchstache ones.
I had the bright idea of using lolly sticks on the Munchstache cookies, but I'm not convinced that they are strong enough, and they will probably collapse under their own weight.  I intended to coat the 'plain' cookies in white or milk chocolate, but Mini Mint and I ate them before I got the chance :)
The dinosaur cookies saw me utilising another one of my bright ideas, which would have worked if I made sure I had the right equipment before embarking on it.  I thought that instead of using white icing for the detailing, I would use melted white chocolate.  I melted down the chocolate, got my icing bags out, and then couldn't find my piping nozzles.  No worries, I'll just fill the bag up and cut a small hole.  Except, yep, I cut the hole too big and ended up with the chocolate coming out to quickly.  I wasn't too worried as this was only a test run before Hallowe'en.  As you can see from the photos - the T-Rex lost a couple of his feet, the dough was really delicate in that area.
This is the recipe I used (you'll get four times the yield I have shown here):
For the dough
  • 200g/8oz softened butter 
  • 150g/6oz caster sugar
  • 2 large free-range egg yolks
  • 400g/14oz plain flour plus extra for flouring
  • 1 level tsp mixed spice
  • 1 level tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2-4 tbsp milk
1.   Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.
2.   Lightly grease 2 baking trays and line with baking paper/parchment.
3.   Beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy
4.   Beat in the egg yolks
5.   Add the flour and spices and enough milk to give a fairly soft dough.
6.   Bring together to make a soft dough.
7.   Knead the mixture on a lightly floured work surface.
8.   Roll out to a thickness of around 5mm/¼in.
9.   Cut out using your chosen biscuit/cookie cutters.
10. Bake for 10-15 minutes on the prepared baking trays.
11. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
12. Decorate as you like - melted chocolate, icing sugar, royal icing...
*In an effort to get a tighter hold on household finances I have decided that instead of buying 'extra' things through the month, as they take my fancy, I will plan what I would like, and choose just one thing - and have this as a pay-day treat.  I'm encouraging Mini Mint to do the same thing, we'd fallen into the habit of having lots of little treats through the month, and then having to rein in the budget at the end of the month.  This way we're hoping that there will be money left at the end of the month for days out etc.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Flashback Friday

A lot of my friends are posting old photos of themselves at the moment, for Flashback Friday - I decided to go a bit different, and look to some 'old' nail polish collections instead.

I went with (l-r):
Did It On 'Em (from the Nicki Minaj collection)
Simply Smashing (from the Serena Williams collection)
Just Spotted the Lizard (from the Spiderman collection)
Shatter the Scales (Shatter polish from the Spiderman collection).

The acid green colour of Did It on 'Em is one of my favourite greens, it's a rich cream that is smooth to apply, and needs two coats for full coverage.
Simply Smashing is a vivid metallic shimmer, that is quite sheer, and needs three coats for opacity.
Just Spotted the Lizard is a luscious duochrome, showing gold and olive green, and even hits of blue if you catch the light right - this needed two coats for full opacity.
Shatter the Scales was the Shatter shade that was part of the Spiderman collection - do you guys remember how popular Shatter was when it first came out?  I thought it was a bit 'Emperor's New Clothes' myself, and didn't really get into it, particularly the one in the Nicki Minaj collection which looked like dried blood, but I digress, back to Shatter the Scales... You have to wait for your base colour to be completely dry before applying Shatter, which can be a bit of a PITA, so I always use OPI's Rapid Dry Spray, which hurries the process along, as well as applying a thin layer of silicone which the Shatter seems to like.  I apply Shatter in slightly zig-zag motion, to give more randomness to the finish.
Everything topped of with OPI's Rapid Dry Top Coat - as always.  You can see the variance in colour of Just Spotted the Lizard below, it looks olive green on my middle finger, and gold on my little finger.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


When OPI released information on their A/W 2013 San Francisco Collection, I wasn't that taken with most of it.  Previous collections I've thought 'I HAVE to have this', but with this there were really only a few that stood out.

PEACE AND LOVE AND OPI, which OPI describe as 'This holographic sage and eggplant duo-chrome is far out!'

This is a classic duochrome shimmer, which looks like pewter at first glance, and has green and deep purple tints to it.  This was practically a 'one coater' but I applied two to even out the brush strokes.

ALCATRAZ... ROCKS, which OPI describes as 'There’s no escaping this arresting textured gray.'

This is one of OPI's Liquid Sand polishes, a grainy, multi glittered matte textured polish, with purple and blue tones.  I love how this looks when it first goes on, when it's wet and shiny - and would LOVE if this was a regular glitter.  Having said that, I do love the Liquid Sand look, though not on the whole hand for me - just as an accent nail.

As always, I used OPI Matte Nail Envy for a base coat (IMHO this is THE best base coat on the market... I've tried using sticky/bonding polishes before and this outperforms them, plus, it's a protein treatment for your nails - I think I'm on my 8th bottle of this!).  Then two coats of each polish and finished off wit OPI's Rapid Dry Top Coat. 


As much as I LOVE OPI polish, and I really do, (their Gel Polish is the treatment that my clients request most often) - I've kind of fallen out of love with them over their last couple of collections.  The S/S 2013 Euro Centrale collection, I bought three of the polishes, and the same with the A/W 2013 San Francisco Collection.  They just seemed to be getting a bit 'samey'.

Today I got notification and sales info from the UK distributor Lena White for the Holiday Season 2013 Collection.  OPI have chosen to collaborate with Mariah Carey again and I have to say - I'm loving this collection.  Lots of Christmassy reds, some sparkle.  There's also a collection of OPI Liquid Sand polishes that look intriguing.  I've already mentally paired up some of my clients with the polishes that I know they will love!

Top Line, From the Left:
My Favourite Ornament
All I Want For Christmas (is OPI)
Cute Little Vixen
Underneath the Mistletoe
In My Santa Suit
Visions of Love

Bottom Line, From the Left:
Warm Me Up
Wonderous Star
All Sparkly and Gold
Sleigh Ride For Two
Ski Slope Sweetie
I Snow You Love Me

I know a lot of people are going to love the two glitters Wonderous Star and I Snow You Love Me, but I am seriously lemming for Underneath the Mistletoe, and can't wait to get my greedy little mitts on this.

If you're waiting for this collection, it's available to pros from September, and should be in your local salon for October.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I Know It's Early, But...

We have regular Craft Clubs after school here at Tilly Towers, usually on a Friday, sometimes homework is completed, some times we just mess about with whatever is in the craft cupboard.  Mini Mint will usually invite a couple of friends over from school.  It almost always ends in the garden climbing over the play equipment.

Each year we also have a craft day on Christmas Eve - friends will leave their children with us - either for a couple of hours or the whole day, while they make last minute preparations.  We always do some baking, and the children will make some presents for their mums, and tree ornaments.

I've been wondering what we could do this year for presents, and came up with an idea at about 03:00 a couple of nights ago when I couldn't sleep.  Mini Mint and I have tried a 'dry run' of it this afternoon, and while it's not perfect, it definitely has potential.

I drew a picture onto some shrink plastic, Mini Mint coloured it in with his favourite pencils and then we cut it out and we shrank it in the oven as per instructions (making sure that we had punched a hole in the top for later).  When it had shrank the full amount we took it out of the oven and left it to cool, before sprinkling some embossing powder on.  This is the first time I've used embossing powder, and I don't have a heat tool, so I had to improvise with the oven and guess what temp to use.  I went for 200*C for four minutes, and it seems to have worked OK.  We'll tweak a bit, and play around some more... but I think these will make cute necklaces for the children to give to their mum's at Christmas. (Again, excuse the lousy phone picture).

What do you think, and - ribbon necklace... yes or no?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Paper Wonderland: 32 Terribly Cute Toys Ready to Cut, Fold and Build

Mini Mint is currently obsessed with origami and has picked up a few books with his pocket money.  We were in a craft store recently and he spotted this gorgeous looking book of projects.  Given that (in my experience) it's mostly mummies that do crafty projects with the kids, we asked 'im indoors if he fancied having a go at this book with Mini Mint.

They have been sitting at the dining table for the last hour or so, with 'im indoors mumbling the instructions under his breath, and then exclaiming when he realises that he has gone awry.  I don't know if the instructions are particularly unclear, but he's had to unpick what he's made and start again, with the comment, 'You can't do that, it's impossible'.
Mini Mint is a happy bunny though, and although he says 'it's a bit hard', he's happy with the results that 'im indoors has created.  One hour in so far, and one little paper toaster finished.

Mini Mint Makes Cheesy Bean Burgers

Before I went to work this morning, I left a shopping list for 'im indoors (who's works shifts, and was off today), so that Mini Mint and I could make a recipe he'd spotted in a magazine.  So the 'boys' spent the day in Chester, swimming and then came to pick me up from work with all the shopping present and correct.

Mini Mint is a vegetarian, and will often spot a veggie recipe that he fancies in a magazine, paper or book, and provided the ingredients are not too expensive, we always have a go.  We adapted this recipe slightly, for some added texture and spice.

50g Carrots with the ends removed (this was one medium sized carrot)
400g can of Butter Beans
50g Extra Mature Cheddar Cheese
3 level tablespoons of Onion Chutney
2 level tablespoons of Tomato Purée
50g Wholemeal Bread (preferably a couple of days old)
1 small handful of Jalapeno Peppers
1 small handful of Pine Nuts
4 Burger Buns

1.  Line a baking sheet with grease proof paper, and a plate with kitchen paper.
2.  Grate the carrot, then squeeze in your hands to get rid of any moisture, put on the paper-lined plate.

3.  Drain and rinse the beans, pat dry with kitchen paper.
4.  Break the bread into chunks and whizz in processor or with a hand held blender.

5.  Add a small handful of Jalapeno Peppers to the bread crumbs.
6.  Gently toast a small handful of Pine Nuts and add those the breadcrumbs too.
7.  Add the beans to the breadcrumb mix and 'blitz' again.
8.  Grate 50g of Extra Mature Cheddar into a large bowl.
8.  Tip the breadcrumb/bean mixture into the bowl, along with the carrots, onion relish and tomato puree, add pepper to season and give a good mix.

9.  Preheat the over to 200*C/Gas 6.
10. Wet your hands with cold water and take handfuls of the mixture, shaping into patties on the grease-proof paper. Chill for 15 minutes in the fridge.

11.  When the burgers have chilled for 15 minutes, pop into the oven for 15 minutes.
12.  Serve on sliced rolls/burger buns with tomato and ketchup for dressing, and a side of French Fries.

Of course the best bit about Mini Mint cooking, is that he always want to do the washing up too.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

I am Tilly Mint, and I'm an addict.

People who know me in real life, know that if I 'get into' something - I go the whole hog. I have to have EVERYTHING.  My latest fave band?  I scour the internet finding every recording, bootleg, signed item that I can get my hands on.  Jewellery making - I needs all the things. 

I've always loved painting my nails, and my friends' nails, so took myself off to college, and qualified as a nail technician, but now I'm also addicted to having all the nail kit I can find.  It's a curse.

My most recent 'addiction' is Fred and Friends kitchen wear.  I already have all of their Matryoshka stuff, the salt and pepper cruet, the food boxes, the glasses, the measuring cups and spoons...

Mini Mint eats his meals from a Food Face Dinner Plate.
But, here is where I get a little bit crazy in love with cuteness... the Fred and Friends cookie cutters!  I already had the Gingerdead ones, and make these every year for Mini Mint and his friends at our annual Hallowe'en party.

However, my friend Andrea and I have just decided to support the guys in work when they take part in Movember, by baking Munchstache cookies and selling them - so obviously I had to have the right kit for the job, and may have 'accidentally' bought some others while I was there.  No more spending for me this month.  You've got to remind me of this if you see me hankering after something.  NO. MORE. SPENDING.


I was recently sent some Batiste products to review, Strength and Shine Dry Shampoo, Smoothing Conditioning Mistspray and XXL Volumising Plumping Powder. 

I have to admit that I've never been a fan of dry shampoo, whenever I've used it in the past, I've felt like my hair was weighed down by the product, and my scalp would start to feel itchy quite quickly.  But I was game to try again, and after getting some advice from a couple of friends who use these products regularly I was ready to go.

I used the Strength And Shine Dry Shampoo one day after washing my hair, when it usually starts to look a little bit 'meh'.  It was easy to apply, and didn't smell as offensive as I remember it smelling in the past.  Again, I didn't particularly like the 'feel' of the product on my hair, but it definitely did look cleaner.  No sign of greasiness at all.   Unfortunately the nozzle stopped working on my can after the second use.

A couple of days later, again, in between washes, and thanks to the bizarre weather we've had here in the UK just lately - sun cracking the flags one day, and torrential rain the next, my hair was suffering from the effects of humidity, and was starting to go frizzy.  I have to say I love curly hair - on other people, on me, not a good luck, pure 100% frizz.  So - time to crack out the Smoothing Conditioning Mistspray.  Again, really easy to use, and pleasant smelling, I wasn't even aware that I was wearing 'product' on my hair.  I've used this another couple of times since, and have been impressed.

That leaves the final product I was given to test, the XXL Volumising Plumping Powder.  Caveat - I have short hair, so can't really 'rock' the high volume look... however, I used this in between washes again, when my hair was starting to look a bit 'meh', and it really perked it up.  I liked this product, again, none of the nasty smelliness that I usually associate with this type of product, and I didn't feel like I was wearing 'product' in my hair.

Personally, I wouldn't go out of the way to buy the first product - I didn't particularly like the feel of it, but it definitely delivered on it's promise.  I preferred the other two products, and would quite happily buy either of them again.

The products blurb, says:

  • Daily hair styling can cause your hair to become weak, brittle and tired looking. That’s why Batiste created the Strength and Shine Dry Shampoo, enriched with 
    L-Arganine – an amino acid known to stimulate the hairs follicles. A quick burst instantly refreshes your hair between washes and helps it to look and feel stronger, shinier and altogether gorgeous!
  • Goodbye brittle mop, hello silky locks - a few spritz of the superlight dry feel Smoothing Conditioning Mistspray, infused with Argan Oil, is perfect for the days when you are fighting the frizz or dry ends are driving you dotty. A quick spritz into the mid lengths & ends nourishes, smoothes fly-aways and helps retain moisture in dry unmanageable hair, giving you shiny, great looking hair every day.
  • If you love to make a statement with a big style, you’ll know that keeping it big isn’t always easy. Batiste new XXL Volumising Plumping Powder is the answer. It's ultra-light weight and perfect for straight, fine or slippery hair that doesn’t hold its style. A quick sprinkle will crank the volume up to 10 all day and all night.

*Disclaimer, I was sent these products free of charge to review.  

Wedding Nails

We attended a family wedding yesterday, my uncle married his partner in a very quiet, close family only ceremony.  Unfortunately the weather wasn't great - torrential rain for most of the day, but thankfully the sun came out just long enough for us to take photos.

For the first time in about 20 years, I wore a dress that showed my legs - 'im indoors said he'd forgotten what my legs looked it, it's been that long. 

I'd already painted the bride's nails the night before the wedding, and painted my own to match my black chiffon dress with red tea-roses on the day, (apologies for the dodgy phone photo).  As always, I used OPI polish, (Lady in Black and So Hot it Berns in this manicure.)

Hello? Tap, tap, anyone there?

After a VERY long break from blogging and with some prompting from my friend over at Liverpool Lashes I decided to try and dip my toes back into the blogging world.

So, first things first, in case you haven't been here before - I'm Tilly Mint - Demented Housewife. I live in the north west of England with 'im indoors and Mini Mint. 

I work part time as a training co-ordinator, and am also a qualified nail technician. I have a serious polish addiction, which I'm trying (and mostly failing) to rein in. :)

We love cooking and baking here in Tilly Towers, Mini Mint in particular loves making his own veggie treats - which he also creates his own labels for if we need to freeze them.