Sunday, 31 October 2010

Playing about

This playsuit was a whimsical summertime purchase which deplorably has only had one airing, and since has shamefully been adorning the inside of my wardrobe.
Last night I skipped along to a wonderful wedding reception with my mister man and some friends so aptly thought it was time to bring the playsuit out for its second appearance of the season.
I scavenged this all-in-one number from a little boutique near me and love the colour, the flattering nature and the sweet bow detail it has to offer.

My snazzy sequin jacket is from H&M and I paired the whole outfit with these peachy-nude patent heels from Dorothy Perkins. For a place I don't often frequent, they came up trumps with these shoes at only £17 in the sale! 
All my jewellery is from Accessorize from many moons ago, and my oh-so golden glow is courtesy of Xen Tan. 

My hair...oh yes, the messy up-do strikes again.
I used my Cloud Nine The O heated rollers (which I shall be reviewing very soon) to achieve lift and volume on the crown of my head. No hair spray or backcombing were used in the creation of this hairstyle! And then I just pinned the rest of my hair up in a haphazard manner.
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Saturday, 30 October 2010

Total Eclipse of the Heart

In March of this year, Illamasqua gave their creative, nail-crazy fans a chance to design their perfect polish.
The mission: To submit a description in 50 words or less of their dream nail varnish colour accompanied by an image of their inspiration.
An esteemed judging panel cast their expertise over all the thousands of entries, and so were born the three new, very unique shades...

Shrapnel, Raindrops and Eclipse.

I adore the look of all these colours, so special and enticing on the talons!
I decided to give Eclipse a little whirl...
"My dream colour is a deep blue purple with greyish undertones inspired by the lunar eclipse, it has a feeling of concealment like hidden sin."

I was totally raptured by the deep midnight blue hue, which flirts with a purple tint in the light and embodies some flex of greyish-silver sparkle.

The colour is absolutely stunning and this is just after one coat. 
The application of the Illamasqua polish was flawless. Very easy to work with and gave me a clean, even base after one lashing of the varnish.

These new nail polishes are available on the Illamasqua website and are priced at £13.
What do you think? Have you tried any of these new varnishes?
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Thursday, 28 October 2010

Treating Your Tresses: Part 1

Hair treatments...I have always been unsure whether the hefty price tag of certain high-end hair treatments really reflect the promises and expectations confessed to me.
My hair is a prime example of a barnet in dire need of regular hair treatments...hello peroxide and ruthless straightening.
Previously, on umpteen occasions, I have frequented Boots and stocked up on many of the treatments they offer, all coming in under £10 and not really leaving me or my mane feeling that indulged. 
I find a lot of the 'drugstore' hair treatments are merely glorified conditioners, which is fabulous for that temporary, superficial feeling of lusciousness. And don't get me wrong, Aussie 3MM is a firm fave of mine, but I am now after something that truly treats my hair and can help combats the dismal damage that colouring and heat has caused, on a long term basis.
So, I have thrown the hair gauntlet down and will be challenging the follicles and the unruly frizz with three of the more pricier hair treatments, to see if the splurge is really worth it...

So first up to face the frizz is:

The hair masque is rich and creamy in consistency and smells delicious; orientally floral, laced with Jasmine and Peach Blossom. It is definitely a treat to the senses. 
The Shu Uemura hair treatment is enriched with Black Cumin Oil, something I had never come across before in any hair care products. It is renown as a precious oil drawn from the dark and fragrant seeds of the Nigella Sativa Flower. It has a high concentration of the powerful natural anti-oxidant Nigellone, as well as being packed with Omegas and fatty acids.
Everything about this treatment is luxurious and exotic and really does deliver some amazing results. It promises to deeply nourish and discipline the hair fibre, allowing hair to echo the smooth fluid and resplendent finish of Japanese satin.
How very Zen! But really, I cannot gush enough how very impressed I was with this treatment. It left my hair feeling absolutely, beautifully conditioned, silky soft and was so much more manageable when blow-drying. It really did feel like it had been tame, and trust me, my hair is an imposing mane to be tamed, like a wild caged animal at times...
I religiously used this hair masque once or twice a week for 3/4 weeks, and then conveniently had a hair appointment. Even my hairdresser, who will willing state my hair isn't in the finest condition, professed that my hair was looking in a much healthier state that 6 weeks before. I jumped with joy and skipped home to slather on another layer of this miraculous masque. 
It suggests leaving it on for 5-10 minutes, but I like to leave it on for up to 30 minutes and I find that helps achieve optimum results. 
I was pleased to have had such a positive outcome with this treatment and has restored some of my faith in the higher-end market of hair care. The fact that the results were beyond superficial and were demonstrable after a few weeks of use was really wondrous.

The RRP for this Shu Uemura hair masque is £38.50, (gasp!) however, fear not, retail it for £32.75 which I think is quite fabby! They have a plethora of hair treatments on offer, including the other two treatments below which I shall be reviewing in the coming weeks...
It is definitely worth checking out feelunique if you aren't au fait with the website already. So many of their products offer discounts off the RRP and delivery is free worldwide...

Like I said, I shall be testing out these other two hair treatments over the coming weeks, and letting you know how they fare with my hair!

Kerastase Nutritive Oleo-Relax Slim intense Smoothing Masque
Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Extreme

I'd love to know what hair treatment is your weapon of choice to achieving a perfectly-treated barnet.
Do you seek high-end when it comes to hair care?
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Wednesday, 27 October 2010

A Lip Salvation

Dearest Carmex
Throughout this harsh, imposing winter, where dry chapped lips are rife and all I seek is a little lip salvation, I find you.
A pocket-sized saviour that is mightily packed with miraculous moisturising powers that banishes the ill-fate of the wind and the cold.
Let this be a tribute to your tantalising tingle.
An ode to your quelling qualities.
You have rescued and soothed me back from the brink of dire chapped desperation, and have satiated my eternal quest for such a rapturous remedy.
You have prepped and primed my pout back to unimpeachable perfection, and for this Carmex, I salute you.

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Sunday, 24 October 2010

Love, Laugh, Lauren

Quite a while back I decided to launch a series of guest blogger posts here on pearls & poodles, to allow myself the opportunity to showcase and glorify some of my favourite blogs of the moment which I think you girls would enjoy too.
If you wish to reference my original post here you can consume all the reasoning behind these posts and how, if you wish, you could too become a featured blogger.

So, without further a-do, please welcome Lauren:
Lauren offers everything you would desire from a blogger of the beauty variety, a rich mix of hauls, reviews, pretty nails and luscious lipstick swatches, all encompassed with fab photos and some cheeky outfits of the day thrown in there too. Lauren will also delight you with some inspirational pictures and lovely faces of the day.

Here is the lady herself, and if you wish to see how she achieved her face of the day...simply click here and bunny hop along to her blog.
I hope you enjoy as much as I do.
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Friday, 22 October 2010

A Blonde Ambition

As regular as clockwork, every six weeks I skip up to my hairdressers, dangle my hair in front of her, put on my very best puppy-dog eyes and profess the immortal words..."make me look pretty!"
My hair colour could be likened to a leafy tree, ever changing colour throughout the seasons. I have made my merry way through a kaleidoscope of colours recently, from black, purple, red, auburn and peroxide blonde. 
Amazingly, I still have some hair left and I am currently flirting with a blonde/brown compromise, with a peroxide blonde ambition akin to Pixie Lott's mane being suppressed deep inside...

So, my ever patient hairdresser friend decided to lighten up my roots which are naturally a dull blah brown and then scatter some blonde highlights randomly throughout my coiffure.
So, with the bleach working it's magic, I settled down with a cup of tea to scour the trashy mags until the end result was unveiled.

Ta da...

I love it! It has lightened and brighten my whole aura radiantly and I adore the addition blonde, but the fact that the light brown base has been maintained. It may seem even slightly gingery, which I whole-heartedly embrace!
I asked for some volume as I am so over flat, poker straight hair so she worked some magic with the hair dryer and several barrel brushes...

I am content with my coiffure and it shall keep my pacified until my next venture to the hairdressers.
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Wednesday, 20 October 2010

A defining moment

An whimsical lace dress, cinched with a black studded belt and paired with pearls and chunky rings.
If my style were to be define in one look, this would be my signature statement. Serene and feminine accessorised with toughened adornments and quirky twists on the predictable.

The dress is from Topshop, last season, and the accessories are from Accessorize.
I wore an animal print and purple tassel scarf from River Island, and strutted out with black opaque tights and studded cowboy boots, submerged in my big red coat with gold buttons which makes me look like a toy soldier.

I'd love to hear what you think, and how your style could be defined in one outfit? 
What signatures your unique look?

Thank you as always for reading my ramblings!
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Flawless you forever

" We develop products that you would like, taking into account your preferences and lifestyle.
We listen to you and are quick to innovate.
We spend our money developing and creating a good product that is safe and do not believe in making you pay the cost for any advertising.
We will advise you at every step, to help you create healthy skin and an ageless persona.
Environment friendly - cruelty free testing supported by PETA"

Flawless You Forever, A range of core and mineral makeup, skincare and spa products specially designed to keep you looking the way you should. Gorgeous!

So...with an assurance like this, I was very intrigued to try a few of their products.

Firstly, the powder blush in Country Fresh is in a lovely little compact with a screw top lid, which is perfect for portability.
The powder is deceivingly very pigmented, so you really do not need to overload your brush (my first mistake!) when applying it.
It is a darkened-dusky pink with a satin finish to your skin, with no shimmer or glitter. The name 'Country Fresh' is very telling, as it does give you that ruddy glow as if you have just been out frolicking in the fields. 
I really liked the colour and finish of this blush, but unfortunately I didn't think the staying power of the powder was that great. It looked fab when I first applied it, and was a perfect colour to even contour your cheeks with, but throughout the day, it did go a little patchy and chalky on my skin which was a little disheartening.
FYF 'Cheeky' blushes retail at £11 for 3 grams, which I do think is a little dear for the quality and quantity of the powder.

The mineral lipstick in Natalie promises to plump up the volume for a fuller and smoother pout, and to effortlessly glide on to create a youthful pucker by visibly reducing rough edges or lines. 

I really liked this lipstick...a lot! It was just my colour, a delicious nude with a (MAC) cremesheen-like texture and finish to the lips. The product also smelt very similar to a MAC lipstick, gorgeous vanilla fragrance, which made it a real treat to use.
The lipstick felt really moisturising and lasted a long time on my lips without becoming dry and needing reapplication. The lippies are laced with Shea butter and jojoba and avocado oils, which condition the lips keeping them soft and supple. I can definitely concur with this!
FYF Couture Pout lipsticks retail at £12 which I think is reasonable for the quality, colour intensity and consistency of these lipsticks.

Flawless You Forever offer a wide array of products, including makeup, skincare and a whole men's beauty range. I know I would definitely investigate more of their lipsticks and also their new BathMania range coming soon, which delights us with cupcake soaps and such. :)

Let me know what you think? If you have heard of this brand or been tempted by any of their products?
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Saturday, 16 October 2010

Waxing Lyrical

A bubbly bath, a dim-lit room, smouldering incense, some soothing bird-lark, a scented candle.
There are many ways we can all endeavour to relax in these hectic times, but these sweetly-scented candles are certainly my weapon of choice.

These tinned treats are the epitome of relaxation, and I constantly have several dotted around my bedroom, laying in wait for a quick strike of a match and flicker of light.
They are beautifully scented and fill my room with such a soothing, sweet, whimsical aroma which floats around and massages any stress away!
I also find the dancing flame so very bewitching and charming, I find the whole sensory experience such a basic yet joyful form of escapism.
I always buy my candles from a quaint boutique near me, which is a wonderland of trinkets and the unnecessary. I like to try lots of different brands, but my favourite ones are definitely  Lily-Flame.

Tell me lovelies - what floats you away to a fantasy land?
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Friday, 15 October 2010

My mask of the moment

I must confess that face masks don't feature very highly or predominantly in my beauty regime.
I view them as an added extra, a Brucie bonus...a special treat for when time allows.
Previously, in a hope to conform to the stylised image of the girl with cucumbers on her eyes wallowing in a foamy bath with a green solution caked on her face, I use to splurge on those little 99p sachets from Boots.
Faling to transform my life, I hadn't contemplated using a face mask for many moons...

That was before this little beaut beckoned to me!

This Liz Earle Deep Cleansing Mask is really special.
It is a highly concentrated clay and botanical mask that sucks out all the impurities, excess oils and nastiness in your skin, leaving your skin feeling fresh, clear and purified. It also contains Manuka honey, organic aloe vera and the essential oil of rose-scented geranium, all making it sound rather lovely.
The smell is quite pungent yet completely indescribable. I can't express what the scent is reminiscent of, maybe slightly like damp moss and earthy wood fires, laced with a sweet, herbal-like undertone?!

The mask is rich and concentrated and Liz Earle do advise it isn't suited for sensitive skin, but it is specially formulated for oily, combination or problematic skin.
My skin is just quite normal really, with maybe a few seldom yet troublesome breakouts.

The mask is really easy to apply. Just take a generous dollop and smooth onto your face and neck area, avoiding eyes, lips and hairline, and leave for 5 - 10 minutes.
I was crazy and left mine on for a whole 20 minutes and my skin loved me for this rebellious streak!

Once on, the greeny-tinged mask will dry on your skin, making it feel tight, but not unpleasantly so.
WARNING: you will resemble the Incredible Hulk for the duration of this treatment. 
I sat, twiddled my thumbs, did some sit ups and ate some toast, and attempted to distract myself any way possible from the niggling itch on the tip of my nose. And then voila, was time for removal. The starter kit, which is the one I am using, comes with two circular sponges which you can soak it water and then gently wipe away the mask. I personally preferred to splash it off with cool water over the basin. 

What I loved about this product is the way it made me skin feel the moment after I had rinse it off. It felt really fresh and cleansed and deeply-purified. The moment I had washed off the mask, my skin didn't feel tight any longer, but toned and really smooth.
Another plus about this product is that you are able to use it as a facial mask as often as you require, or as a intense treatment on specific areas or blemishes. I may have to rethink my beauty regime, and reassess my precious free time, as I do believe there is a vacancy for this certain magical mask to join my beauty regime.

Price: £12.50 for the starter kit (including 75ml of the deep cleansing mask and 2 sponges)
Available online at Liz Earle.

Do you use face masks as part of your beautifying program?
Which are your faves and would you be tempted to try this?
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Monday, 11 October 2010

Sweet dreams are made of this

Following on from a really rather, over-suprisingly-so, excitable response from my Love is Rocky Road post, where I took you lovelies step by step through how to create my scrumptious treats, I thought I would recreate a similar post dedicated to my cupcakes.
I receive a multitude of questions, comments and emails every week regarding my cupcakes, and however much I don't mind answering any queries individually, I thought it would be a super idea to demonstrate how I personally create them from beginning to end!
This recipe and method is just how I like to bake my cupcakes, but it is open to interpretation and you can always adapt it accordingly.
So step 1 is to don your piny and gather your ingredients and apparatus!

For 12-14 cupcakes you will need:
4oz caster sugar
4oz butter
capful of vanilla extract
2 large eggs (free-range are the nicest and happiest!)
6oz self-raising flour
Some scales...preferably pink!

Firstly add the butter and sugar together in a bowl (or mixer machine) and whizz together, or go all old-school and get your wooden spoon out. You want your butter to be room temperature and nice and squidgy, otherwise it will take you a lifetime to mix...

Once the mixture begins to combine, add a capful of the vanilla extract and continue to beat until the amalgamation is really soft and fluffy.

This is probably the most important stage of the creating, as failure to have the butter and sugar whipped together into a fluffy mess will result in your cakes being a bit heavy and lacking that sponge-like texture.

Now you now need to reach for your eggs and add them to the blend.

Followed by a fairy light dusting of the self-raising flour.

Then take you whizzing device and combine these final last additions until you concoction has reached a smooth, light and creamy consistency. Unlike when combining the butter and sugar at the beginning, you do not want to overwork the mixture at this stage, so stop the moment everything is mixed together sufficiently.

Now we are are ready to select our cupcake cases and transfer the mixture. 
Eeany meany miney mo...

I  opted for an assortment of plain muffin cases and some pretty silver cases. All cases are available from online baking stockists and places on the high-street such as Lakeland.

I like to pipe the mixture into the cases as I find it is much easier, less time-consuming and creates perfect uniformity, but you can just dollop the mixture in to the cases however you so desire.

The cakes require 10-15 minutes in the oven at 180 degrees, but I do advise to keep your eye on them as these cheeky little cakes can cook at varying speeds depending how big they are. When you think they are done, take them out the oven and spear them with a knife to ensure they are baked all the way through and there isn't any uncooked mixture left on your knife.
Now it is time to let them cool whilst you prepare the buttercream and round-up all the sparkly adornments for the topping of your cupcakes.

For the buttercream/frosting, you will need:
8oz butter
160z icing sugar

This will happily cover 14+ cupcakes, depending how generous you are being with the buttercream. But as a rule, however much butter you use, you always need double the quantity of icing sugar.
Once again, ensure the butter is super soft and pliable, and add the icing sugar in bit by bit, otherwise it will just poof everywhere the moment you start mixing.

With some patience and a delicate touch, you soon will be faced with a beautiful light, sweet buttercream, all ready for piping onto your cupcakes. Do make sure they have cooled sufficiently though, otherwise your buttercream will just melt and slop off!
Obviously if you fancied chocolate buttercream, or a buttercream of a certain hue, then you would just add the cocoa or colouring at the final stage.

I have amassed a plethora of piping nozzles and other cake-based utensils since my fascination with cupcakes began, but if you are just starting out, I would suggest punting for a star-shaped nozzle to create the perfect swirls on your cakes.

Again, the decorations for the top of your cakes are pretty, sparkly and extensive. I purchase most of mine from a local market near me, but they are accessible online and from most supermarkets. So just have fun and play about with an assortment of adornments!

Now it's time to pipe!
Piping the perfect swirl on your cupcake will take time and practice. The key to being able to achieve the ultimate cupcake crown is to ensure the buttercream is really soft, almost of a Mr Whippy ice cream quality. If the mixture is too stiff, the swirl will fail.
If you need to soften your buttercream, you could add a drizzle of milk to loosen it.

With your piping bag brimming with buttercream, use one hand to pipe and the other to hold the cake still. Start at the edge of the cake and swirl inwards in circles until you reach a peak in the middle.
Et voila! 
Now the fun can begin and you can start to prettify your cupcakes with a whatever glittery delights take your fancy.

So there we go my little sugar lumps.
I do hope this post has been of some assistance if you are embarking on a cupcake crusade, or if not, I might have just charmed you a little with some delectable delights.
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