Casual Gamer Essential Apps

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Hey guys, hope you all had a great Christmas. I've got a few posts coming up, but I have't got around to photographing them all yet, so I changed the order I was going to post them and put this in first!

So you got a new iPad for Christmas, went nuts in the App Store downloading, Facebook, Twitter Kindle and loads of other random apps, but what now?


I have always been a bit of a closet gamer chick at heart. When we got our first desktop PC back in 1995, I discovered a love of point and click adventure games. The mid-90s was the peak for point and click adventure games but they declined in favour if X-Box/Playstation based shoot-em up's that you could dip in and out of. With the launch of touch screen mobile devices, such as the iPad, these types of games have seen a resurgence in popularity. If Santa was sweet enough to leave you an iPad under the tree this Christmas, here are my top casual gaming apps, and an introduction into point and click style adventure games.

Where's My Water

Where's My Water is a fun puzzle game made by Disney, featuring an Alligator called Swampy who enjoys a nice clean bath - unlike the other Alligators. Help Swampy by getting the water into his bath, whilst avoiding various traps, poisons and bombs. This app is both iPad and iPhone compatible (and I believe it is also available on Android) but purely for ease of play, it works great on the large iPad screen.
Hay Day

Hay Day is certainly a little guilty pleasure of mine, and I became quickly addicted to it, to jump up through the levels so I could get the next farm machine! (Yes, yes I know!) Hay Day is a farming game - similar to FarmVille - but crops do not die and it doesn't rely on having lots of Facebook friends to help you out, like many other games of this type.

Mystery Case Files

Mystery Case Files - Dire Grove

Mystery Case Files - 13th Skull

Mystery Case Files - There are a number of games under the mystery case files brand, but not all are available on the ipad. Mystery Case Files are produced by Big Fish Games which are aimed at the casual gamer. Two of the best ones are Dire Grove and 13th Skull. These mix hidden object scenes and the more usual adventure style of gaming. These two games involve an engaging storyline and live action scenes.

Monkey Island & Broken Sword

During the mid 1990s there were two franchises that generally ruled in the adventure gaming world - Broken Sword, and Monkey Island. Monkey Island came first, and the early games were very pixelated with no voice acting, the series eventually progressed to become more cartoon-like before dabbling with 3D. Broken Sword started off with the 2D cartoon style, with great voice acting.

Both of these brands are now making their way slowly, but surely, on to mobile devices, both have been digitally remastered, Monkey Island 1 & 2 now has voice acting, and Broken Sword includes a Directors Cut, which includes scenes which were not in the original games. If you enjoy the logical puzzle element of the Mystery Case File games then these are natural progression. You generally run around picking up what appears to be lots of useless junk, which will inevitably "come in useful" (real-life monkey wrench anyone?) and trying to save the world (Broken Sword) or fighting off zombie pirates and trying to discover, what really is the secret of Monkey Island!?! (These games are also very funny - the humor in Monkey Island is particularly dry and witty!)

All these games have a Free trial or Lite version, which enables you to try them first, prior to purchasing anything.

Did you enjoy this post? Are there any "essential" games apps you have on your mobile device?

Christmas Cupcakes

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Hello Christmas Lovelies!

Are you feeling festive yet? Have you been enjoying a few mince pies? I was going to make some of my own mince pies, but my boyfriend doesn't like them or Christmas pudding. I wanted to do some festive baking and then I found this recipe for Christmas Cupcakes in The Primrose Bakery Book. I liked the idea of a cupcake with mincemeat in, and I figured if my boyfriend still didn't like them, well, I would just have to eat them myself!

I will be totally honest, I didn't trust this recipe at first. Its unusual to have both self-raising flour and baking powder in one recipe (that's a lot of raising agent!) and I've never seen a cupcake recipe with cornflour in! But seriously, just trust the recipe as it does work!

225g unsalted butter
225g golden caster sugar
4 large eggs, free range or organic
210g self raising flour
25g cornflour
250g good quality mincemeat 1 tsp baking powder.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Cream the butter and sugar together, until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one by one.
Add the remaining ingredients and beat well.
Divide the mixture between 12 muffin cases and bake in the oven for about 20-23 minutes, or until well raised and quite a dark golden brown. Check they are baked by inserting a skewer in the centre of the cupcake - of it comes out clean they are done. Allow to cool before decorating,.
Word of warning - these cakes are very dark! I actually thought I had burnt them, yet they were still uncooked in the middle. I think its due to the mincemeat and the golden sugar. I turned my oven down slightly and persevered. They are very dark, but do not taste burnt, and once decorated you will not notice the colour.
The book advises topping with a Brandy Buttercream, however I just topped mine with plain vanilla.
These are great for people who do not like mice pies or Christmas pudding, despite the name and the ingredients. Its hard to describe what they taste like, the only thing I can liken them to is a really fluffy carrot cake (without the carrot!) due to the topping and inclusion of fruit. I think when I make these again, I may add cinnamon as they didn't quite taste Christmassy enough for me!
You can make them look more festive by adding holly decoration on top.

Give them a try this weekend!

Christmas Tag

Friday, 14 December 2012

One of my fellow F.B.L bloggers,  Something About Sofia, did this tag on her blog. I've been meaning to do a Christmas tag, so I chose to do this one.
Q.Whats your favourite Christmas movie?
One of my favourite films is a little known Disney film called 'One Magic Christmas'. I think it's a fairly unknown film to some extent, but it's one me and my mum always seemed to catch on TV around Christmas time, so has become a bit of a family tradition for that reason.
My Mum is also a massive "A Christmas Carol" (personally I think she's a massive Scrooge fan!) so we end up watching every version of it over the festive period! My personal favourite is the the Muppet version (obviously) but I can pretty much quote all the key lines in every version!
Q.Do you stay in your pj's or dress up for Christmas?
Now there's just me and my other half, we always say we are going to get up and dressed before opening our presents, however, what usually happens is we end up staying in our pj's as usually one of our gifts is an item of clothing we want to wear on Christmas Day - I usually have a new jumper or cardigan.
Q.Do you open presents on Christmas eve or Christmas morning?
I've sort of answered this above - always Christmas morning.
Q.Weirdest present you've ever got?
I'm not sure I've ever had a weird gift actually - I've been racking my brains to think of one, and as I can't come up with one I'm guessing there hasn't been one! My friends and family know me pretty well obviously!

Q.Best present you've ever got?
Last year my mum bought me a Radley briefcase. It was a complete surprise and came all beautifully boxed and packaged. It gets so many compliments as it is just beautiful!

Q.What are your favourite Christmas things to do?
I love going to see the decorated trees at Chatsworth House, and then going into the farm shop, and buying lots of nice food! I really enjoy having nice food at Christmas, everything seems that little bit more special! I usually try to get to at least one Christmas market if I can, or we go up to York for the day -  don't think there is a place more festive at this time of year.

Q.What do you do on Christmas eve?
It  varies, depending on what day it falls on. For the last two years I have had to go into work, and then afterwards its been a mad dash to get presents round to family members I won't see on Christmas Day, before going to our local and meeting friends. This year, as I'm not working, I'll be able to run all my errands in the morning, and hopefully get to the pub a little earlier.
Q. Real tree or fake tree?
I have a fake tree which I bought last year. I spent quite a bit of money on it in the hope it will look thick and full for a few years. I'd love a real tree but I've never bought one, so I have no idea what I'd be doing or how I'd get it home!

Q. Giving presents or receiving presents?
I'd be lying if I said I don't like receiving presents, of course I do, doesn't everyone?? But as I've got older I do get enjoyment out of finding gifts for other people and spending time beautifully wrapping them.
Q. Handmade Christmas cards or bought?
I wish I had time to hand make cards but sadly I don't, so I usually end up buying cards. What's even sadder this year, is that I haven't bought any cards, and as yet haven't actually received any! Sending Christmas cards seems to be going out of fashion somewhat it seems.

Q. What’s your favourite Christmas food and drink?
Lots of different cheeses and crackers, and I am the only person I know who likes mince pies! Warm with single cream poured over it, yummy!
I managed to drink my way through a full bottle of Bailey's last Christmas sat on the settee without even realising, which is worrying, but it goes down so easily! I rarely drink it at any other time of year. I also love a nice luxurious hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows.
Q. What's your favourite Christmas song?
Yet again, I'm going to pick something slightly obscure. My favourite Christmas song is "A Spacemen Came Travelling" by Chris De Burgh. I have no idea why, maybe its because its so rarely played so I enjoy hearing it more when I do. The main chorus is really uplifting too.
I hope you've enjoyed reading what I get up to a Christmas. If you would like to do this tag too then please let me know if you do!

Beyonce Midnight Heat Review

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Hey Lovelies!

I wanted to share with you a recently discovered perfume that I will be wearing over Christmas.
"Beyonce Midnight Heat eau de parfum is a sexy and sensual scent guaranteed to put the sparkle into any woman's eye.
Midnight Heat features rich fruity opening notes of plum and star fruit that evolve into a heart of orchid, black tulips and purple peony, rounded out by an oriental base of warm amber, sandalwood and patchouli.
Midnight Heat EDT comes in an antique-style glass flacon that's coloured in purple nuances. Mysterious, passionate and sexy, just like Beyonce herself, the flacon is decorated with a discrete gold detail on neck, which also features the engraved name of the fragrance." (Description taken from Littlewoods)
I've never really tried many celebrity perfumes, As wasn't sure I would like them - whenever I've smelt them before they have always been quite sweet smelling. I was pleasantly surprised with this perfume, as it is much  ore my usual type of scent. I like strong powerful fragrances rather than flowery ones for the evening, and this is definitely not a day time perfume. I really liked the spicy undertones in this perfume, which are almost Christmassy in some way (not so as that you wouldn't want to wear it any other time of year) but it certainly makes it perfect for Christmas parties.
The bottle is a purple vintage style design which I really liked, and it's not obvious that it's a celebrity perfume, if you were worried about displaying it on your dressing table. The only thing I was disappointed in with regards to this perfume was how long it lasted on my skin, so you would probably need to re-apply part way through your evening.
You can buy Beyonce Midnight Heat from Littlewoods. A 50ml bottle is £36, or you can even buy it as part of a gift set (30ml bottle) with body lotion and shower gel for £31.
Have you tried Beyonce Midnight Heat? Whats your view on celebrity perfumes?

Disclaimer: I was sent this product to review. This has not, in any way, affected my views on the product.

Ciate Mini Mani Month

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Seasons Greetings!
Hello lovely readers? Hope you are all well today!!
I wanted to share with you my advent calender this year. Some of you, (if not all of you) will have probably seen this on various other blogs, as there have been a few beauty advent calenders around this season. I didn't have an advent calender last year, and I wanted to try something different this year. As I am so married to my Clarins skincare, I didn't see much point in getting one of the ones that has skin care products in as this would be a bit of a waste of money, however, now I can no longer afford to have extensions every month, I do enjoy painting my nails and toenails, so I  decided to treat myself to the Ciate Mini Mani Month.

I don't think this is actually promoted as an advent calender - as you can see from the picture, the packaging is not particularly festive looking - but it does only have 24 doors on it, so I'm guessing it probably is! I would certainly suggest that next year it needs to be more Christmassy!
The Ciate Mini Mani Month, has a mini Ciate nail polish or caviar beads behind each door. If you haven't already signed up to Ciate's website, you will get 10% off your first order purchased through them, which got me almost £5 off the price (which was actually swallowed up in postage charges though!) Unfortunately my advent calender came late, as they were having some server problems, but I called them up, and the ladies were really helpful! My order was stuck in the system, and couldn't be processed, but it meant if I re-ordered I would lost my 10% discount, but they gave me a new discount code to ensure I still got it, which was so helpful of them! Once my order was processed it came within a day! Superfast!
So I took the first pictures on 4th December, but I felt it seemed silly to put up this post today, without showing you days 5,6,7 and 8 as well, which is the reason for the slight difference between the two pictures!
Day 1 is called 'Cupcake Queen' (how fitting!) and it is a full on Barbie Pink! Day 2 is 'Dangerous Affair', and I think this is going to be a great Christmas Colour. Day 3 is Halo. I have tried this on my nails already and it is quite shimmery with not a lot of coverage, so I think I may wear this over another colour - perhaps over 'Dangerous Affair'? Day 4 is 'Prom Queen' Caviar Pearls. I'll be completely honest, I was never all that bothered about trying these out before, but now I've got some I will give them a go - I suspect they will be horribly impractical and fall off my nails alot!
Day 5 is called 'Cabaret' which is a purple shade. Day 6 is 'Angel Wings', which for me is really similar to 'Halo' (they are only one shade number apart), although Halo has a more pinky sparkly, whereas this is more of a shimmer. Day 7 is 'Cutie Pie', and Day 8 is 'Vintage'. I think 'Cutie Pie' will make a nice french manicure base coat, or will make for some cute nail art alongside 'Vintage'. I really wanted a grey polish (is that weird?) so I was chuffed with that one yesterday!

Right, I'm off to find out what is behind door number 9!!
What do you think of the trend for beauty advent calenders? Would you like to see more of the shades in the Ciate Mini Mani Month?

Christmas Decor

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Early warning - picture heavy post coming up here! But they are all festive so it's all good!! So after doing my own big house clean, I put up my Christmas decorations at the weekend. By the time I had but them up I didn't have the inclination to photograph everything. I'd intended to do it the next evening after work, but unfortunately we had a power cut for about five hours! I didn't realise how much I relied on electricity until I didn't have any!!!
Anyway, that's why it's taken so long to get these pictures up. I've been trying out my new camera and some more editing this time. I'm quite pleased with how these have come out.

As you can see from my photographs, I have a slightly "nordic-shabby chic" kind of theme. I choose this theme last year when I moved house, as it goes with the main decor theme in my living room. I have seen the little booties in loads of housey magazines this year, but I got these last year. They are my favourite thing on my tree! I love having my Christmas decorations and my extra cushions and blankets outs, it makes my living room feel all cosy!

Have you starting decorating your home yet?

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