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Recipes // Homemade Easter Bark

 With Easter a few days away, I wanted to give out little gifts for work friends to share with their families over the Easter period. Whilst buying shop bought items would be much more convenient and less time consuming, it isn't as fun, is it?

So, I decided to get my baking hat on and stand in the kitchen for 6 and a half hours instead. After scouring the internet for inspiration, I found three recipes which would make the most perfect Easter gifts. 

I made Easter Bark, Salted Chocolate Truffles and Creme Egg Fudge (I know, I MADE fudge!). The Salted Chocolate Truffles recipe is from The Londoner which you can find here. I will be posting the Creme Egg Fudge recipe in a few days but today let's talk about some Bark!

Easter Bark
You will need:
a baking tray
greaseproof paper
300g white chocolate
pastel coloured sweeties - pick out the brown ones and eat put back in the packet, we won't be using these. I used Smarties, Reeces Pieces, M&M's, M&M's Peanut, M&M's Crispy, ASDA Coloured Beans (in the bakery aisle) and Malted Eggs.

In hindsight, making this really isn't that difficult at all! 
1. Grease and line your baking tray. I used a standard brownie tin as it was the first thing to hand.
2. Break the chocolate up until cubes then pop in a microwaveable bowl and microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring until fully melted and is smooth and glossy. You will need to do this a few times to melt all of the chocolate down. (Don't leave it for any longer than 30 seconds at a time in the microwave as it may burn).
3. Pour the chocolate into the tin and spread out using a knife/palette knife until it is all level.
4. Bash up your sweets! You only need to do this for the larger sized chocolates. You can do this by popping them into a sandwich/freezer bag then whacking them a little bit with a rolling pin. You only need to do it once or twice per sweet, just so they break into a few pieces. 
5. Sprinkle your sweets over the melted chocolate evenly.
6. Pop into the fridge for a couple of hours until it is firm.
7. Once firm, peel the paper out of the baking tin and un-stick the chocolate from the paper. 
Turn the chocolate upside down so you are staring at the bottom. (Some of the sweets fell off at this point but I didn't mind, more for me.)
8. Find your rolling pin and once again, bash away! You only need to do it until it fragments into bits. You don't want it to be too small but you don't want massive shards either!
9. Pop into your cellophane cone bags, tie with a pretty ribbon and hand over to your pals.

Sit back and wait for the compliments! They look really impressive and you can change the ingredients to however you like. The best thing is, it is so easy to make! x

Review // Maybelline Baby Lips Dr Rescue in Coral Crave

Have you ever felt excited about buying something abroad just to get home and find out that you can already get it two minutes away from where you live? Yeah, that happened.

Whilst on my recent little holiday to Washington DC, I braved the -14 degrees temperature and the 9 inches of snow to battle my way to CVS. CVS is our Boots equivalent, although it does have a rather impressive selection of chocolate. I had a wonderful time walking up and down the aisles, having a good old nose through the make-up we can't get at home. I was aware that the cold weather was making my lips incredibly dry and sore so I threw a Maybelline Baby Lips into my basket and hurried on to the sweetie aisle.

I purchased Maybelline's Baby Lips Dr Rescue in Coral Craze. They had a whole variety of Baby Lips, including the Crystal range. I chose the Dr Rescue version in Coral Craze because I wanted something soothing to my sore lips but I wanted a tiny hint of colour to perk up my pale, frozen face.

What Maybelline say about their Baby Lips:
"Maybelline Baby Lips Dr Rescue Medicated Lip Balm provides care that soothes sore lips. With a hint of eucalyptus it combats dryness. Available in natural tints to even out lip tone for healthier-looking lips. In 1 minute, lips feel soothed. In 1 day, lips look less dry. In 1 week, lips are reborn."

Sounds pretty good, huh? When it is minus something silly, you can't feel your hands any more and you are so cold you feel that death may be imminent, this little product could not have been welcomed any warmer. Just like the other Baby Lips products, Coral Craze comes in a twist up see through tube which survived it's little trip home in my suitcase via those pesky baggage handlers and arrived to my door in one piece so it must be made of sturdy materials!

When I opened the tube and applied Coral Craze, I wasn't aware of any smells or fragrances within the product. It was only afterwards when on the lips that I could smell the menthol and feel the lovely, soothing tingles on the lips. 

For a lip balm it does it's job really well. I applied Coral Craze a few times a day to keep my lips hydrated and after a while I could feel my lips were in a much better condition. They were softer and weren't as dry any more, which is great. The only slight let down was the colour. It is called Coral Craze so naturally you would expect a coral shade which it does appear in the bullet but it doesn't transfer onto the lips. Even when swatched on my hand I couldn't really see the coral within the product but in all fairness, I'm not too bothered as I was more after the hydration rather than the tint.

Overall, a great little lip balm which does the job well. I love the little menthol tingles on the lips and although the Coral shade doesn't transfer, the hydration works too well to argue about it!

Trips // Washington DC

I have just got home from Washington DC and, what a trip I had. I had such a wonderful time I thought I would share it with you all. I have only ever been to New York City before so it was nice to see a new part of America I hadn't visited before. I will warn you now, this post may be a little boring as I gush about how wonderful and delightful everything is but I truly did have a wonderful time!

I will admit and say Washington DC wasn't high up on my list of 'places I must visit'. I only decided to go because someone I know lives there and invited me and I had holiday to take at work. Before I knew it I had pressed 'book tickets' on the British Airways website and I was a good few hundred pounds poorer. I booked it just over a month before I was due to leave. At the time my passport was a mere few pieces of paper sat in a overfilled sack in the Post Office as I realised it was nearly two years out of date. I am so lucky it came back on time as I would have been well and truly screwed if it hadn't!
It was also about ten minutes after booking my flights that I thought "ah crap, I have to go on my own!!" - queue a panic attack nearly every day at the mere thought of flying all the way to America on my own plus a really intense flare up of eczema on my arms due to the stress of it all. I had to keep reminding myself that I had chosen this willingly, no one was forcing me and as the flights cost so much, I would god damn enjoy every bloody second of it!!

I will be honest and say I was dreading every second of it, purely down to the flying issue. I do suffer from severe claustrophobia and even the thought of being trapped on a plane filled me with terror so as I was marched through Heathrow Terminal 5 at 7:50 on a Sunday morning by my mother with my suitcase, travel sickness tablets and passport rammed into a trendy pale blue cover, I was so nervous I could have vomited on cue. My mother pushed my brand new suitcase onto the scales, told me to have a lovely holiday and was sorry she couldn't stay but the time was ticking on the car in the drop off zone, I was well and truly on my own.
Which at this point, I started to relax. I wandered my way through security, ignoring the grumble of fellow passengers as they had to take off their cosy boots and coats to make sure they weren't harbouring any naughty things. I ignored the rudeness of the airport staff who threw my mother's brand new tablet at me, rather than hand it to me like any normal human being. I forced a smile and let my eyes light up as I saw the signs for duty free. MAC make-up but a little cheaper? Oh go on then.

After browsing the shops and buying the essential bottle of water and horrificly overpriced muffin, I managed to get my self and, more importantly, my boarding pass and passport, to the gate via the cute little shuttle train where I sat down and texted everyone I knew saying that if I didn't "make it" then please could they let my mother know that she could use my life insurance money on a new kitchen? It is what I would have wanted.
I followed everyone else onto the plane and managed to work out on what part of the plane I should be entering as it was a double decker (this excited me) and I was sat at the top. I followed a lady with a beautiful handbag then watched in horror as her boarding pass slipped through the gap in between the plane and the little tunnel. We both watched as it fluttered its way out onto the ground below then stared at each other in sheer horror. "Shit" she said. "Oh dear" I said. Before giving her a comforting smile that said "I'm glad that didn't happen to me" before swanning past, clutching onto my boarding pass and passport with dear life. 

I sat down in my seat and smiled with relief every time another passenger entered the cabin and didn't sit beside me. The plane took off and after the initial "oh my god I am now stuck on this small, confined aircraft with no hope of getting off until 8 hours time" I then settled down with my complimentary blanket, pillow, toothbrush and headphones, and those of the empty seats around me, and started browsing through the in-flight entertainment for 8 and a bit hours. 
The plane landed after 30 minutes of being rocketed by wind at which point every single person on that plane, including the air crew, looked green. We all tried to keep "it" down as we were forced off the plane and onto what I can only describe as a small bus built for 50 people which every passenger was shoved into. This was also the first real glimpse of Washington DC. It was -8 and you could certainly feel it. After managing to get through American Immigration whilst trying not to look shifty and guilty of something I haven't even done, I managed to watch my suitcase travel round the conveyor belt four times before remembering what my suitcase looked like before walking into Arrivals feeling like a pop star as everyone stared at me. Although my flat, slightly greasy hair and eyebags might have something to do with it. 

Walking out of the airport I was hit with tiredness and -8 weather. I was slightly dazed, as I often am when I get off a flight, and tried to focus on forming words into sentences as I followed my mums friends, who I was staying with, into their car then sat back and watched the Capital of America whizz past me. There was no snow when I arrived but there were piles of it when I left! 
After managing to get over the jet lag and eating dinner at breakfast time, I manged to fit in all of the obligitory touristy things to be done in DC. The White House, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Capitol Building, Air & Space Museum, Natural History Mueum...Victoria's Secret, Forever 21, Sephora..... Honestly, I spent so much money I thought I was the victim of credit card fraud. (Seriously. I rang them up.)

We managed to do The White House, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Capitol Building and the Natural History Museum all in one day. It was -17 that day and absolutely bloody freezing. We walked for miles but it was great to see all of the things you only see on TV. It was also nice finding out new things. For instance, I never knew Martin Luther King's famous 'I Have A Dream' speech was said at the top of the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. 
Besides sightseeing, I shopped. Oh, how I shopped. I shopped so much I needed a cabin bag home. We went to Patomac Mills, Leesburg Outlet Centre, Montgomery Mall, Fashion Centre at Pentagon City and Westfield Wheaton. Fortunately Forever 21, Victoria's Secret and Sephora are at nearly every mall so I was certainly in my element. I came home with a pair of shoes, a coat, three dresses, a top, two pair of jeans, 7 body sprays and 10 hand sanatizers. I did well.

After burning all of those calories sight seeing, wandering around museums and shopping, we also ate. And we ate a lot. The first day I was there I bought some sort of toasted sandwich and was asked if I wanted chips. I did think it was strange eating chips with sandwiches but I thought "when in Rome" and was surprised to be given Walkers crisps. First language barrier firmly crossed!
If you are ever near Maryland then you must try Max Brenner's Chocolate Bar in Bethesda. It is a little cafe serving purely chocolate related goodness. It is the dream it sounds. I recommend the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, served in the cute little Hug Mugs and the Peanut Butter S'mores. Also, if you ever go to iHop then you must try the French Toast. I tried to recreate it this evening and was bitterly disappointed. It is purely heavenly.

My 10 days went incredibly quickly and I was devastated to be leaving the home of Lucky Charms, gallon sized cartons of Iced Vanilla Latte and Reese's Peanut Butter. I was slightly pleased to get back to warmth, by warmth I mean 5 degrees in the UK but hey, it beats -15 degrees. I won't miss walking on the pavement and wondering if this step I was about to take was the one that would lead me to a broken leg due to falling on the frozen snow but luckily, and surprisingly, that moment never happened.
I loved my trip so much that I am debating my future in the UK. This trip has reminded me that the world is bigger than Wiltshire and this rut that I am stuck in, I just need that one little chance and a step in the right direction. And if that new life is in the land of Cinnabons and Auntie Anne's Pretzels then so be it.