Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Blogmas Day 24: Alternative Xmas Playlist

I love the atmosphere of Christmas, I really do. It's a holiday where your senses are alive with the sights, the smells, the tastes and of course the sounds. 

For me, I'm getting a little bit tired of hearing the same Christmas songs year on year. I find it really sad that for as long as I can remember, the Christmas No.1 spot has been dominated by X Factor garbage, with no one even trying to bring something new to the table (and no, the new Band Aid song doesn't count). 

However, the lack of new Christmas material doesn't mean we have to sit listening Slade on repeat. 

Here's a selection of some of my favourite Christmas songs that don't quite fit the cliche Christmas mold, but help me get in the festive mood all the same. 

Carol of the Bells (Rout Remix)

Amy Winehouse - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause

Blink 182 - I Won't Be Home for Christmas 

The Killers - Don't Shoot Me Santa

Julian Casablancas - I Wish It Was Christmas Today

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs - All I Want For Christmas 

Bruce Springstein - Santa Clause is Coming to Town

Florence & the Machine - Last Christmas

The Futureheads - Christmas was Better in the 80s

The Crookes - It's Just Not Christmas Without You

The Wombats - Is This Christmas?

Fall Out Boy - What's This?

The Ramones - Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)

My Chemical Romance - All I Want for Christmas is You


Friday, 19 December 2014

Belated Blogmas Day 17: Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

So for part two of mine and Gabbie's Christmas bakes we made gingerbread cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. All the Christmas flavours. They're so sweet but so moreish. My piping skills aren't that great, but if you're a dab hand at it, you can make these look truly stunning. 


200g plain flour
2 tbsp ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 
340g butter
300g caster sugar
3 tbsp molasses (or honey / treacle / maple syrup / muscavado sugar) 
4 eggs (at room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract 

For the Frosting

500g icing sugar
113g cream cheese
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
2-4 tbsp double cream. 

1. Preheat the oven to 180C . Whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves. 

 2. In a bowl, cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. 

3. Add molasses (or substitute). Beat until combined. 

4.Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each one until incorporated. 

5. Beat in vanilla. Gradually mix in flour mixture until combined. 

6. Divide the mixture evenly among the cases, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for 25 minutes until an inserted knife comes out clean. 

7. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. 

8. For the frosting, beat the cream cheese until fluffy.Add vanilla, cinnamon and 2 tbsp heavy cream and mix until smooth. Gradually mix in the icing sugar. 

9. Spread or pipe onto the cooled cupcakes and store in an airtight container. 

These are packed full of all the flavours that resonate with Christmas. It's literally Christmas in your mouth when you're eating these!. 


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Belated Blogmas Day 14: Decorating the Tree

Some people say Christmas doesn't start for them until they've seen the Christmas Coca-Cola advert, or eaten their first mince pie of the year. For me, it's decorating the Christmas tree. I can watch that cheesy piece of marketing a million times and stuff myself silly with mince pies, but if the place in which I do those things isn't lit with the warming light of a Christmas tree, then I just can't get in the mood. 

If I had my way, Christmas decorations would stay up all year. The house just seems warmer and cosier than ever before. 

I love traditions and sentiment, and the ritual of decorating the Christmas tree in our house is full of it, and that's all down to the decorations. 

A lot of our decorations are linked to precious memories and hold sentimental value, so every time we decorate our tree, it's so lovely to get immersed in the nostalgia and remember the stories behind each decoration. 

Seeing as it's #blogmas  I thought I'd get all soppy and share some of the stories behind the Sofokleous family decorations. 

This is one of three decorations that Mum collected out of the Tetley Tea boxes almost 15 years ago. 
This was when times were pretty tough financially, so freebies like this helped us to keep the Christmas spirit alive. They've lasted pretty well (we lost a teddy leg along the way somewhere), and Mum likes to keep them as a reminder of getting through tough times. 

These are from when I was obsessed with purple as a little girl. I can't remember how I was, but my bedroom tree HAD to be all purple. I think Mum got them from the first ever House & Garden show. The little bag has lavender in it and to this day still has its scent. Instead of a star, I had this bear in his snazzy waistcoat at the top of my tree. 

Back when Mum was a hairdresser when we lived in London she had a client who had 8 children, and whenever she did her hair she'd always take me with her.  I was in my element surrounded by so many people to play with, (all of whom had bunk-beds, I was so jealous). Well that lady made these plump little angels, and they always put a smile on our faces remembering what a lovely family they were. Handmade gifts are always worth keeping. 

This is a decoration from the time the mini Christmas tree in my room was Teddy Bear theme.  My mum is a very creative and imaginative person, and I have such wonderful memories of the things she'd come up with to make Christmas special. As a little girl, what's better than a Christmas tree with all your favourite teddies on? 

These are also packed with London memories. These were made by the mum of one of my closest friends at my lower school in London who sadly died of a brain tumor a few years ago. They are a memory of her and the amazing friendships me and my family made whilst we lived there. 

How cute are these? These are mine and my brother's first ever Christmas decorations Mine's the Santa, and my brother's is the stocking. I think it's obvious why my Mum has kept these. They're just so tiny. 

As ridiculous as these look, there's  no way we could ever throw them away, and they just have to go on the tree. My brother made these when he was at nursery. Of all the things he made and brought home, these were definitely worth keeping. 

Do any of your decorations have any stories behind them? I'd love to hear about them. 
Comment below. 


Sunday, 7 December 2014

Blogmas Day 7: My Christmas Wishlist

No matter how old we get, we all have a Chrsitmas wishlist. We drop hints, enthusiastically coo at things we want, and have a Pinterest board of wants that's never-ending. 

Seeing as I share quite a lot with you guys nowadays, I thought it would only be right for me to share my Christmas wishlist. Who knows, maybe it'll give you a little bit of Christmas shopping inspiration, give you something to add to your own list, or finally answer that pressing question: What am I going to buy Steph this Christmas?






Friday, 5 December 2014

Blogmas Day 5: The Christmas Tag

So I was tagged by the lovely Ana Celia Wanderley from Oh My Louboutin  to do the Christmas tag, in which I answer a variety of questions about Christmas. I would love to hear your answers to these questions too. Just leave them in the comments below ( can you tell I went a bit crazy on PicMonkey?) 

What is your favourite Christmas movie?
It would have to be the Nightmare Before Christmas for me. Christmas and Halloween are my two favourite holidays, and this film encapsulates them both. I love anything by Tim Burton, and Oogie Boogie's song weirdly gets me in the holiday mood. 

Do you open your Christmas presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
Definitely Christmas morning. I've never met anyone who opens them on Christmas Eve. Maybe one if you can't bear the wait. Every other year my gradparents come round in the morning to give us their presents, and have breakfast with us, and on those years we can't open our presents until they've arrived and we've all eaten breakfast, so me and my brother are well trained in patience and restraint. When we were younger we couldn't bare it, but we've had practice now. 

Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?
We always play games after Christmas dinner, and lat year we played the game where we all have the name of someone stuck to our foreheads and we have to guess who it is. Grandad had Tom Hanks. We're all shouting 'I got shot in the buttocks' (with accent obviously) at him, as well as multiple other Forest Gump quotes. He never got it, and we must have looked like absolute loons. 

Favourite festive food?
Leftover turkey and stuffing sandwiches with Branston pickle. Don't get me wrong I love the main Christmas meal, but there's something about leftover food that makes it taste amazing. My Aunty Annie has also introduced me to brussel sprout sandwiches which have to me made with real butter, on warm granary bread and sprinkled with black pepper. Sounds grim, but I tried it last year and it's lush.  

Favourite Christmas gift?
The one I remember most was when I got my first laptop. Mum had individually wrapped the laptop case, and the internet security software and made me open that first. I had no idea what was going on and was trying to look grateful for these gifts that I couldn't do anything with. Then Mum pulled out a big present from the very back of the tree, and low and behold it was a laptop. 

Favourite Christmas scent?
Nutmeg and cinnamon. Whenever I smell those two I'm always reminded of Christmas. I've been looking for ages for the perfect candle the smells just like it, but so far I've had no luck. 

Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?
Obviously when I was little we used to put the mince pie and carrot in the living room before bed. I find it quite sad that we don't do that anymore even if we've stopped believing *sniffs* just for the sake of tradition. 

What tops your tree?
It used to be a fairy, but a few years ago one of my Mum's friends made handmade jewellery, and she also made Christmas decorations out of copper and bronze wire and beads, so we have a cute, star that sits on top now. Our tree is very colour coordinated, so all the decorations are copper, bronze and gold too. 

As a kid, what was the one (crazy, wild, extravagant) gift you asked for but never received?
I don't remember asking for anything crazy in particular, but I guess that craziness came in the form of me circling practically every toy in the Argos book. 

What's the best part about Christmas for you?
I think the relaxation. The lead up to Christmas is so hectic and quite stressful, and I'm sure everyone is working their butts off for it too, so it's nice when Christmas comes for everything to just stop. For you and your loved ones to be in the same room, slobbing out over tubs of chocolates and leftover turkey, watching movie after movie after movie. 

If you would like to be tagged, just say in the comments below with a link to your blog, and I'll add you below. 

I tag Yaya Duran from My Dreamality


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Blogmas Day 3:Budget Christmas Party Make-Up

So it's the most glamorous time of year, with multiple opportunities for us ladies to adorn ourselves head-to-toe in glitter, sequins and bling galore. 

For me, picking out something to wear for work's Christmas party or New Years Eve is the easy part. Make-up is where I usually struggle. Now you may remember a while back I reviewed the MUA Undressed Palette as well as some other MUA products in a haul that I did (which you can read here). 

I waxed lyrical about the MUA palette because at only £4, it's a carbon copy of the Urban Decay Naked Palette in terms of shades, and the pigmentation is dense and rich. 

So I decided to knock up a few eye shadow looks using the palette to give you some budget beauty inspiration. 

You'll notice that the shades actually come in pairs made up of a matte shade and a metallic shade. Each of these looks consist of a pair, with the matte shade covering the lid all the way up to the crease, and the metallic shade blending outwards from the crease up, to create a winged shape. In all of these looks, I have used shade No.1 as a highlighter for just below my brow and the inner corner of my eye. 

Shades 1 & 2

 This is the gentlest of all the looks. Even though I use shade 1 as a highlighter most of the time, it also works really well on the lid, accompanied by shade 2. If you're going for a natural make-up look but want just a little bit of colour and highlighting, these shades are perfect. These icy pinks are great for both day and night winter looks. 

Shades 3 & 4

This is a very gentle combo. I like to think of these shades as rose gold in hue. They add a little bit of warmth and depth to the lid but are at the same time are quite natural in tone. If you've got quite a dramatic outfit, something like this would work really well. 

Shades 5 & 6

Everyone needs a bit of gold on them somewhere at Christmas, and gold make-up can be the perfect sparkly Christmas accessory. These shades are subtle, but work to add a warm glow to your eyes, 

Shades 7 & 8

I like to think of this combo as a bronze smokey eye. Both the matte and the metallic are two differing depths of bronze, and they work so well together. This combo will look amazing on anyone with brown eyes, as it really makes them pop. 

Shades 9 & 10

 I love the pinky metallic with the chocolate brown here. The brown gives depth to the eyelid and the muted pink makes for a good contrast. 

Shades 11 & 12

This look is one of my favourites. The metallic blue gives a nice twist to the smokey eye, and helps to create a defined wing. This is the most dramatic look of them all. This is a statement look, and would work well with a subtle and understated outfit. 


Monday, 1 December 2014


The countdown to Christmas officially begins! 

So against my better judgement, I've decided to take part in #Blogmas, an online blogger event where us bloggers write a Christmas themed post every day of the month. Lord knows how I'm going to come up with so much content so last minute, but I'll give it a go! . 

Now that December is here, I feel like I can truly let out my excitement for this holiday. I'm so behind on present buying, and am feeling the stress more than I am the magic, however Mum brought me home a new Christmas stocking today handmade by one of her friends which really got me in the mood (the one on the left in the picture above). 

In among all the commercialism of Christmas, it's the sentimental, homemade efforts that mean a lot to me. Our Christmas tree is always made up of mismatched decorations full of memories and nostalgia, and each year I look forward to creating more of those memories with the people I love, and sharing them with you guys. 

From Christmas beauty buys to an insight into mine and the boyfriend's trip to Prague's Christmas markets, I sincerely hope you'll join me this blogmas. 

I would love to hear from you if there's any particular posts you'd like to see. I really am short for ideas. Eeek.