Monday, 28 February 2011

bun in the oven

This weekend, as many before, a cloud of flour lingered over my kitchen as I donned my floral apron and busied myself with the creation of my latest tasty treats - jam buns. The reason I love baking so much is I have a ridiculously sweet tooth. I constantly need something on hand to satiate my cravings. I do not relish shop-bought cakes and such, I like to know what is in my food and ultimately home-baked confection is a lot more tasty.

The recipe: makes 12-16 buns
8oz self-raising flour
4oz butter, softened
(whizz the flour and butter together until like breadcrumbs)
4oz caster sugar
1 egg
(combine together until into a soft dough)

Once the mixture is combined, take small sections and roll them into a ball between your hands. The next stage is optional but I like to roll the buns in brown sugar and oats. The mixture will be quite sticky so the oats and sugar easily coat the sweet golden globes. Arrange them on a well floured baking tray, leaving ample room between the buns as they will spread, and then indent them with a little hole. I use the end of a wooden spoon, dipped in flour and then twisted into the dough, about half way through. Fill the buns with the fruity conserve of your choice, I opted for raspberry. Place your buns in the oven (180 degrees c) for 10-12 voila...

They are not the most delicate of morsels but my word, they are scrumptious! You cannot beat this classic English fare with a cup of tea in the afternoon.
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Sunday, 27 February 2011

a bolt of cobalt

On Friday just gone, myself and my dear friend Claire decided to go to London Fashion Weekend at Somerset House. We have attended for the past umpteen seasons, and it is always such a fun day out. I know I was lucky enough to gain access to London Fashion Week, which is the more exclusive offering before it is unveiled to the public, but this did not detract from my excitement and enjoyment of the day.

The day was spent weaving our way around the maze of our grandiose surroundings, marvelling at some gorgeous designer pieces and enjoying a catwalk show parading some wonderful collections, as well as a few questionable garments. More shopping ensued on Oxford Street where I bought this mustard pleated dress which I am really excited about wearing. Undoubtedly this excitement will exude in a future outfit post. The day was scrumptiously topped off with burritos and drinks at Las Iguanas.

This outing and the recent mild weather gave me the perfect excuse to wear my new cobalt blue sheer blouse from New Look. I love this colour so much, and the gold button detailing. My green-splashed jacket is from H&M, which I actually wore to LFW last season...oh what a fashion faux pas! My tube skirt is courtesy of Topshop, gold-plaited belt is from H&M again and my jewellery is from Accessorize. My wonderful, and much complimented, velvet turban is from Crown & Glory, which I have featured previously here.

(15% discount from Crown & Glory until the end of Feb...just enter PEARLS at the checkout)

I hope you have all had wonderful weekends.
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Saturday, 26 February 2011

Wonder Woman

Last week saw the new Wonder Woman collection, from M·A·C cosmetics, being released on the Selfridges website. With a pow and a ka-boom, the collection has really caught the eye of many with its bold colours and iconic comic book artwork. The collection will be launched online on the M·A·C site this Thursday 3rd March 2011.

I had convinced myself that I did not need to indulge in this new collection, despite the lure of its colossal sized lip glosses and mammoth mineralised skin finishes. However when I attended the M·A·event last week at London Fashion Week, we were treated to two items from the new collection which excited me greatly.

The first product is the super-sized MSF in Golden Lariat. The packaging really is amazing; the show-stopping red trimmed with a bold blue and the lids emblazoned with the classic Wonder Woman logo. As I said before, the MSF is huge, such a size it could be a piece of weaponry that an self-proclaimed superhero would be proud of! Golden Lariat is made up of three powders, a gorgeous, lightly shimmery copper, a rich bronzed brown and a wonderful golden highlighter. Either colour could be worn alone, or be swirled together. I love my MSFs and this one is no exception.

The second product is the cheek duo in Amazon Princess, which once again has been super-sized and mirrors the dimensions of a beauty powder more than your average blush. A satin finish powder, you are faced with a bright, magenta pink and a darker berry-pink laced with gold pearl. I would find this powder a lot trickier to wear. The pink is extremely highly pigmented, a truly invincible colour, so a soft application is paramount. I am not such a pinky cheek girl, opting for more corals and peachy colours, but I will certainly be giving this a go. I particularly love the colour of the smaller side of the cheek duo, it is a little less pow!

What are your thoughts on the new Wonder Woman collection?

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Thursday, 24 February 2011

Filthy Gorgeous nails

Filthy Gorgeous London - an apothecary and retail emporium offering a unique, sleek and quick head to toe service ranging from eyebrow-shaping, make up lessons and airbrushed tattoos. Situated in Debenhams on London's Oxford Street and Argyle Street, Glasgow, they offer a beauty packed menu for us ladies to enjoy and indulge in. As well as being preened and pampered, Filthy Gorgeous also offer a vast array of nail polishes, stocking over 30 gorgeous shades. The formulation of these varnishes is wonderfully pigmented, with a super glossy, high-impact finish! The below photos are after two coats, but I could quite easy have gotten away with one.

Top: Tu Tu Much - a bright, summery raspbery shade.
Bottom: Minx - a unique cornflower blue with a subtle lilac undertone.

Filthy Gorgeous nail polishes are formulated with a careful balanced blend of film formers, which resist water, and UV absorbers which maintain colour fidelity and durability. I loved applying these colours, and was stunned by the mirror-like glossy finish, and are lasting well, pleasingly chip-free for two days now. 

The Filthy Gorgeous nail range is available here and each polish retails at £9.
Do you like the look of these? Which one is your favourite?
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Tuesday, 22 February 2011

London Fashion Week with MAC

I think you may possibly be slightly hermitic if you weren’t aware that London Fashion Week is currently in full swing. Models, makeup, frocks and heels have been strutting and sweeping the catwalks at Somerset House since Friday, so I was a little overawed when I was invited by MAC Cosmetics to attend day 2 of London Fashion Week. I have attended London Fashion Weekend on quite a few occasions and I love the atmosphere and laid back, non-pretentious nature of the day. I enjoy fashion but I am not a slave to the trends and Vogue is not my bible, so I was curious to see how London Fashion Week would differ, hoping it didn’t have an ostentatious air about it. 

This invitation demanded a brisk, early morning start; on a Saturday I hasten to add. The weather looked bleak and dreary from my bedroom window and there was a split second where I could have quite happily imbedded myself further in my duvet. I of course righted myself straight away, and was on the train, London bound by 7.50am, a much need takeaway tea in hand. I met up with the lovely Zara at Temple station, and we together danced over puddles and dodged umbrellas on our way to Somerset House, musing about what the day would behold. We were greeted and bestowed with our treasured guest passes before being ushered into the MAC Media Booth. Wet, damp and slightly bedraggled, the sight of hot coffee and pastries lining the walls came as a welcome relief, as much as the sight of Terry Barber at the front of the room did, readying his brushes! Terry Barber is the Director of Artistry for MAC Cosmetics and had taken time out of his hectic schedule, powdering and contouring models, to give us all a master class. Now firmly settled, steaming beverage in hand and camera at the ready, we were firstly treated to a video previewing the key makeup trends for AW11. Terry then created a wonderful 70's inspired look for us, based on heavy red tones with subtle gleams of lemon-yellow, contoured cheeks and bold lips. As he worked his magic, Terry spoke about his work, his influences and experiences. He was extremely down to earth, despite those few anecdotes thrown in, of the time he worked with Grace Jones, Diana Ross and such. The finished product was show-stopping. I think we all fell a little bit in love with the bright, glossy red lip, created using Cherry lip liner, Vino lip liner to emphasise a 3D effect, Runway Red lipstick (future AW11 shade) and clear mix lipgloss. 

After a flurry of camera flashes, poses with Terry and a final last minute gulp of coffee, we were scooted along to take our row at the Betty Jackson catwalk show. The collection was punctuated with rich reds, camel tones, oversized flowers and belted waists. I loved it; sadly over far too quickly. For the rest of the day, we were our own makers, choosing whether to hang out in the MAC Media Booth and get our makeup retouched/recreated, or to mingle around Somerset House and experience some of other exhibitions going on. We opted to lounge and play with lipstick. I had my makeup done by Vicky, who is a wonderful blogger and makeup artist, and was working at London Fashion Weekend. It was really exciting to meet Vicky, who happens to be ever so lovely and a pleasure to chat with. I adored the makeup she did on me, a subtle brown smokey eye and pinky-nude lips. She reignited my love for Hue lipstick that has recently been a little forlorn. 

Just as we prepared to depart on our merry way, deciding that we had just possibly taken enough photos of each other in various comical poses, we were halted in our tracks by the towering frame of Jameela Jamil. Like a gaggle of over-excitable teens at the school disco, giggling at the prospect of approaching a boy for the slow dance, we managed to bag a photo of us diminutive folk with the glorious Jameela. I shall be claiming this photographic evidence from Shirley once she has filtered through the gazillion photos from the day.

The whole day was superb, I was just thrilled to be invited along and feel so pleased to have experienced London Fashion Week, quelling my earlier preconceptions of the event. And the cherry on top was sharing the day with the funniest and friendliest group of girls...Lou, Jen, Zara, Shirley, Sammi and Livia.
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Monday, 21 February 2011

what happens in vegas,

Vegas, the extravagant, the irrepressible, the vibrant entertainment capital of the world. Garish, flamboyant and colourful. MAC's lipstick, Vegas Volt, echos all these qualities. It is a rich, bright coral, with a creamy finish on the lips. It is an amplified creme, and the pigmentation is superb. 

Makeup trends for Spring Summer '11 hint at corals and oranges being big colours for the eyes and lips, so this could be your perfect pout for the upcoming season.

Are you a fan of the bright lip?
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Sunday, 20 February 2011

let's give & make up

Sometimes, just sometimes, a girl can have too much makeup. I believe I may have reached this point somewhere mid November last year. I definitely think, especially when fully functioning in the blogging community, you can far too easily be sucked in by the thrill of a new product, the next big thing, the must-have lotion or potion. You know an intervention is needed when beauty items scatter your room, laying solemnly unopened for weeks.  I don't necessarily need all these products, but there are women out there that do.
Give and Make up is an initiative, helping those women and children who have fled domestic violence. Their sole purpose is to get everyday essentials to the hands of those who need them most. Give and Makeup are non-profitable and do not ask for monetary donations. All they ask for are donations of those beauty products we use daily and take for granted, and they will get them to those women and children who need them; now being protected in Refuge and Women's Aid centres. These basic items will offer some comfort and familiarity. I feel it is a small gesture I can do to make their trauma a little calmer. 

I am a proud supporter of this initiative, as many other bloggers and brands are. The reason for this is thus. Firstly, it is such a simple idea that all of us can get involved in. Secondly, I have had the pleasure of meeting the founder and (gold) heart of the project, Caroline Hirons, and having seen how passionate and driven she is about this, makes me want to do my bit. She is inspirational and such a wonderful person.

The list of items Give and Makeup will accept is limitless. Makeup, skincare and everyday essentials such as shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste will all be gratefully received. As will baby products. Such a paramount necessity for these mothers and their babies. Products with an applicator wands have to be new, but other items can be lightly used. If you would happily give it to a friend...they will accept it. The essentials I am donating range from products I have bought for myself and never used, products I have purchased solely to donate and items I have received from PRs that are duplicated or unpredicted and not required.

All details regarding dropping or sending off your donations are outlined here. There are drop off points in Manchester, London and East Sussex. Smaller parcels can be posted, and Caroline can be contacted if you wish to query any posting details. Her email is on the aforementioned page.

I was not asked by Caroline to post about this, nor pressured to make a donation, however I wanted to share this initiative with you. You may too find yourself in a position with surplus products and unsure what to do with them. This is a possibility.
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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

ring a ding dong

I know I am a little late to the party with this post. You can blame Royal Mail for this. However, I feel compelled to still deliver this post and let those who haven't witness this sparkler, see for themselves its marvellousness. 

This is the Juicy Couture 'Couture Couture Solid Perfume Ring'. From first glance, you may be mistaken in believing this is just an ordinary ring. Alas, how very wrong. This gorgeous piece of gadgetry would make James Bond proud. With a smart swivel, you are presented with a facet of solid perfume, the scent echoing a succulent blend of natural orange flower, star jasmine, blushed plum and vanilla. The ring is chunky and weighted, not what I had first anticipated when i unpackaged this gem, and it has an adjustable band.

The ring retails for £35 and is available now from a plethora of places including Boots, Debenhams, Harrods, House of Fraser, John Lewis, Selfridges and The Perfume Shop.

Does this ring your bell?
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Monday, 14 February 2011

just press mute

It is quite a rarity that you will find me in a pair of trousers. I do not own a single pair of jeans, and so very rarely wear trousers. It feel quite peculiar when I do in fact don a pair. I have been searching high and low for a pair of chinos/tapered trousers for a while now. I find trouser shopping frustrating. I am quite petite, with short, stumpy legs and a lot of trousers are just so ill-fitting and unflattering on me. This is maybe why I steer clear of this particular apparel so often. 

However, New Look came up trumps with this pair of chinos. It is they who describe them as 'chinos', I am more partial to 'tapered trousers'. Either way, they are PERFECT. A lovely rusty-orange colour, some neat little turn ups at the ankle and a plaited brown belt to boot. I am wearing a simple cream vest top from H&M, and my chunky cable knit cardigan is also from New Look. 

Obviously, once the tapered trousers had been purchased, it was only apt to obtain some loafers. These are from River Island and encompass everything I was after in a loafer; rich brown leather and pleated detailing. They are also really comfy which is always an added bonus! I am one who always seemed to unintentionally embrace colour in my outfits, but I quite enjoy this muted down ensemble.

Loving or loathing loafers??
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Sunday, 13 February 2011

sweet hearts for my sweetheart

Today I have taken on the role as domestic goddess and been concocting some sweet treats within the warm haven of my kitchen, whilst watching re-runs of Colombo and drinking copious volumes of tea. I so very frequently bake cupcakes so wanted a new challenge, so decided to give these basic biscuits a whirl. They really are very simple, which means you can be more adventurous with the decorating, and have fun with different shapes and adornments.

175g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
250g plain flour

In a bowl or a mixer, combine together the butter and sugar until it is a smooth, creamed consistency.
Beat in the egg yolk and then the flour and work it all together until you are left with a soft ball of dough.
Cling film the dough and leave to chill in the fridge for 30 mins.

...half an hour later.

Roll the dough out between 2 sheets of cling film. Aim for a thickness of a £2 coin - any thinner and the biscuits will burn and be really crispy.
Cut out your desired shapes and place on a baking tray, lined with baking paper, and bake in a pre-heated oven (180 degrees celsius) for 15minutes.

I used these cute heart cookie cutters I found in Sainsbury's.

Keep your beady eye on the biscuits, and once they are a lovely golden-brown colour, remove them from the oven and leave to cool on a wire tray for 10 minutes or more, and then they will be ready to decorate! 

These simple biscuits are fab as you can really go to town and decorate them any way you so desire. You could half dip them in chocolate, ice them or just leave them plain. I opted for some coloured icing and metallic balls for my biscuits.

I mixed up some icing sugar and water until it was to a smooth paste and then added in my chosen colouring. I went for a pink and white combination. I took a piping bag, filled it with the icing and then decadently drizzled it all over the biscuits in diagonal lines. Gold and silver balls were then used to bejewel the biscuits.

And there we go.
Could these sweet hearts be a possible treat for your sweetheart this Valentine's Day?
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Thursday, 10 February 2011

twist and shout

I am fascinated with hair accessories. For some reason, I feel naked without some sort of fuss or frill going on in my hair. I think this obsession stems from my time working for Accessorize in their head office, merchandising everything hair related, and being exposed to a plethora of pretty pieces. The latest adornments I have been toying with are these hairbands from New Look. They are a silken fabric, threaded with a thin wire, meaning you can prep and preen the perfect bow. You can twist or knot the fabric and they stay perfectly on your head all day, without having to be tied so tightly, they give you a loathsome headache.

I particularly love the animal print one, superbly tacky for days when I wish to channel by inner Kat Slater. The floral one is perfect to compliment muted outfits, but I don’t think it goes as well in my hair as it did when I was blonde. New Look also have a ditzy daisy print one which I may pick up, and I have also seen quite a few adorning the shelves of H&M. They have a denim one which I think could be quite fun.

Do these hair pieces make you twist and shout?
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Wednesday, 9 February 2011

his and hers

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, so cue the mad dash for last minute cards and gifts as the day fast approaches. I am not over-awed with the whole occasion. Not that I am single and bitter, but more that I feel suffocated by the whole commercialism and do not believe we should feel compelled to celebrate love, on one specific day. But that's another story.

Despite this, I felt the need to share some lovely gifts from Liz Earle that could be the perfect little present for your other half this V day...

Give the gift of great skin!
The treat for Her kit includes: orange flower botanical body wash & nourishing botanical body cream. I have tried both these products and they are luxuriously rich and heavenly scent. The body wash in particular is gorgeous and sweetly-fragranced, like having a bouquet of flowers in your shower, but better, as this will last a lot longer!

The groomed and gorgeous kit for Him includes: after-shaving moisturiser & face and body wash. I will be passing these to the beau for his expert appraisal, say tuned for that.

Both kits are available now from Liz Earle for £11.75. 
What do you think? Is this something you would treat your love to this Valentine's Day?
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