Praia da Rocha

 

Praia da Rocha, AKA ‘The beach of rocks’, is a popular, yet peaceful, holiday resort just south of the town of Portimão, on the Algarve. I travelled here for a mini break in October with my family, for some last minute sun before the Winter set in.

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We stayed at the Hotel da Rocha. A 4 star hotel overlooking the beach front. I couldn’t recommend this hotel more; all of the staff were very friendly & helpful, the food was spot on with a brilliant selection of local cuisine (which includes a lot of fresh fish!) and the rooms were modern, spacious and very comfortable! Facilities included a good sized pool, good for a refreshing dip in the mornings and a fully equipped gym which I tested out a couple of times.

Praia da Rocha has one of the largest beaches on the Portimão coastline. The golden sand is marked with large rocks and boulders wth hidden caves and that is why it is known as ‘the beach of rocks’. Even in October I managed to take a brisk  dip in the Atlantic Ocean! But, if you don’t want too sandy, then you can take a stroll along the wooden boardwalk which stretches along the majority of the beach.

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My family loves keeping active on holidays so we didn’t just spend our days sun seeking on the beach! Praia da Rocha and the surrounding areas are perfect for shorts strolls, hikes among the dusty paths and slightly longer walks to stretch your legs. The larger town of Portimão is just over 3km away and is full of local shops, cafes, and lovely architecture.

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We decided to check out the neighbouring fishing village of Alvor one morning, so we followed the costal path along the beach, which eventually took us up along the cliffs which provided breathtaking views! When we got to Alvor we wondered along the river front lined with bars and seafood restaurants. We then wondered up the narrow cobbled lanes which led us into the old town and onto the 16th century Igreja Matriz church (fun fact: I love seeing churches while on holiday, I just enjoy the atmosphere and design of them!) which sits proudly above the village. In the evenings we would usually take short strolls along the boardwalk, or down the street to the Fort of Santa Catarina, a medieval fort which is lit up at night and gives stunning views to the coastline.

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Praia da Rocha is a gorgeous resort for little breaks and longer holidays. I enjoyed every minute of my time here and would visit again to explore in a heart beat!

Thanks for reading!

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12 Days of Christmas Cookies: Day 10- Sugar Cookie Ornaments

This recipe is super versatile. The dough can be used for a variety of cookies. Today I made the dough into Christmas ornaments, fit for your tree!

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Ingredients 

1 1/2 cups softened butter

2 cups caster sugar 

4 eggs 

5 cups plain flour 

2 tsp baking powder 

1 tsp salt 

Method 

Pre-heat oven to 200°c. Line a baking tray with grease0proof paper.

Cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in the eggs to the mixture. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Slowly add in the flour mixture to the liquid mix. 

Cover the dough and chill for at least an hour. 

Roll out the dough on a floured surface and cut your desired shapes. 

Bake for 6-8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool before decorating. 

Mix up your desired icing and decorate as you like! 

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12 Days of Christmas Cookies: Day 6- Grinch Cookies

I was so tempted to keep this recipe until Day 12, but I was far too excited to share my all time favourite Christmas movie inspired bake!

These Grinch green cookies are complete with a candy cinnamon heart that definitely is ‘two sizes too small’!

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Ingredients 

170g butter

170g plain flour 

57g icing sugar

57g custard powder 

green food colouring- I used a gel type so I didn’t need to use as much. (Add as much until you get the colour you like.)

icing sugar for dusting

small candy hearts (if you cannot get these then you can always make sugar paste hearts) 

 

Method 

Pre heat oven to 175°c. Line a flat baking tray with grease proof paper. 

Mix all ingredient together in a bowl. Roll the dough into small balls and place equally spaced onto the baking tray. 

Bake for around 10 minutes, checking frequently, or until golden brown at the edges (this may be difficult to tell due to the cookies being green!) 

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a little bit before dusting them in icing sugar. Last, but not least, gently press the candy heart into the centre of the cookie.

 

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12 Days of Christmas Cookies: Day 5- Linzer Biscuits

This was my first time baking these lovely spiced Austrian biscuits. I have put a slight twist on the recipe so apologies if it is not very traditional!

The Linzer Biscuit originates from Linz, an Austrian city. Linz is home of the Linzertorte, which is a rich tart filled with preserves. The Linzer Biscuit is a variation on the Linzertorte which differs as it is cut into cookie shapes and the top cookie has small cut out with exposes the sandwiched jam in between the biscuits.

Today I decided to go for a star shape with a heart cut out. But you can create any shape that you like.

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Ingredients 

1 pound butter (room temp)

1 cup granulated sugar 

1 tbs maple syrup 

3 1/2 cups plain flour 

1/4 tsp salt 

1 egg 

1 tsp cinnamon 

3/4 cup good quality raspberry preserve 

Icing sugar for dusting 

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Method 

Pre heat oven to 180°c, and line a flat baking tray with grease-proof paper. 

Cream the butter and sugar together until well blended. Add in the maple syrup and the egg until combined. In a separate bowl, sift together the cinnamon, salt and flour. Combine the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture and mix until a soft dough is formed. 

Wrap the dough in cling-film and allow to chill for around 1/2 an hour. 

Roll out the dough on a floured surface and cut out your desired shapes.

Place the cut outs onto the baking tray and bake for around 20 minutes until edges begin to brown. 

Remove from the oven and once cool, place some raspberry preserve onto the base biscuit and top it off with the cut out biscuit. Finally, dust your Linzer Biscuits with a sprinkle of icing sugar. 

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Enjoy!

 

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12 Days of Christmas Cookies: Day 4- Snow Man Biscuits

“Some people are worth melting for”

– Olaf 

These cute snowman biscuits are very simple and easy to make, and are perfect for any Disney lovers out there!

Ingredients 

Digestive Biscuits 

White Icing (I just used icing sugar & water) 

Marshmallows 

Icing tubes (preferably black) 

Orange jelly tots- or similar orange sweets 

Optional- Raspberry or strawberry jam 

Method

This first part is optional- you can make a simple empire biscuit style cookie by sandwiching jam in-between two digestives.

Next, mix up your icing to a reasonably thick consistency and place into a piping bag with a thin nozzle. Pipe the icing onto the digestive biscuit into a puddle shape, and don’t worry if you get any icing off of the biscuit- it just adds to the effect!

On a marshmallow, pipe two eyes and a button mouth to create the face of a snowman using the icing tubes. For the snow mans carrot style nose, I trimmed an orange Jelly Tot into a wedge triangle shape and placed it onto the middle of the marshmallow using a dap of icing. 

Place the marshmallow onto the biscuit to create the illusion of a melting snowman! 

Lastly, use the icing tubes to pipe wooden stick arms and buttons onto the icing puddle on the biscuit. 

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Classic Brownies

This is my go to recipe for gloriously gooey chocolate brownies. It has been passed down in my family and is a classic recipe that never fails to deliver the perfect treat for chocoholics like me!

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Ingredients

1 Cup Margarine – Melted

1/2 Cup Caster Sugar

2 Eggs

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 Cup All Purpose Plain Flour

1/2 Tsp Baking Powder

1/4 Tsp Salt

4 Tbsp Cocoa Powder

Optional- Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips (as many as you like!)

Method 

Pre heat the oven to 180·c. Melt the margarine and add in the caster sugar, cocoa powder and eggs. Mix in all of the remaining ingredients. Place in a greased pan, and bake for around 20-30 minutes. Once done, allow the brownies to cool in the pan before dividing them.

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USA Haul – Beauty Bits

Ah, America, home of outlet malls and amazing brands you can only dream of getting in the UK! I couldn’t resist splurging on a few things while I was holiday in Orlando, and I couldn’t resist even more sharing them all with you.

First stop was Sephora (surprise, surprise!) and I actually took two trips there. I stocked up on a few essentials, like their skin care line, their own brand makeup brushes and beauty tools, and a few high end goodies.

Sephora have a huge selection of makeup brushes, I was in awe when trying to pick the ones I wanted. Eventually I ended up with the ‘Sephora Pro Blending Brush Large 27’ and the ‘Sephora Crease Shadow Brush 73’. I also picked up a Beauty Blender. Although I’m a devotee to my Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge, I’ve heard good things about the Beauty Blender so I thought I’d give it a try seeing as it was a little bit cheaper in the US.

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I recently hit pan on my NARS Laguna Bronzer, and when I went to re-stock, so I decided to buy the NARS Blush/Bronzer Duo in Orgasm and Laguna for the best of both. Sephora has the worst thing for when your queuing… the sample sized section! I threw the Benefit Roller Lash and the Origins Clear Improvements Active Charcoal Mask into my basket at the last moment. They are both really great products that I’d love to buy again in full size.

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I wanted to invest in a new eyeshadow palette. I picked up the Tarte 2 In Bloom.. Which actually smells delicious! This is the first (of many) Tarte products I’ve tried and I’m falling in love with the brand. The neutral palette has a mix of matte and shimmer shades, and is part of their Amazonian Clay Range. My favourite colours have to be Smarty Pants, Rocker, and Funny Girl.

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This next product I totally didn’t just buy it for it’s name… The BECCA ‘Shimmering Skin Perfector Poured’ in ‘Moonstone’. It is a super compact cream highlighter that blend so smoothly into your skin. It is quite subtle, but you can layer it up for a more intense effect. It’s quickly become part of my everyday makeup.

What are your Sephora favs? And what should I definitely pick up next time I’m across the pond?

Thanks for reading! X

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