31 January 2014

Cake Club #4

It's that tasty time again where I bring you all the antics of the most recent cake club get together. If you aren't aware of what cake club is then you can read my original post here
You can also check out Cake Club #2 and Cake Club #3

The theme this time was pastry. I wasn't overly thrilled with this theme as making pastry is such a drag and so hard too! I'd much rather get a pack of ready to roll pastry than faff over making it from scratch. But that would be cheating so I gave it my best shot (and not a very good one at that!).

I decided to make gluten free profiteroles with a strawberries and cream filling and drizzle with chocolate. Sounds nice right? Well it would have been if my profiteroles had risen, but instead the pastry stayed as flat as a pancake! 

Disaster! With a bit of quick thinking I decided to put some cream in the middle of 2 and then drizzle chocolate over them as I couldn't turn up empty-handed! Second problem then arose - my mum had forgotten to buy the strawberries! I decided just putting cream in was too boring so we coloured the cream orange and flavoured it orange too. 

Meet my chocolate orange squidgeroles…

Considering the disaster I had, I don't think they turned out too bad and everyone ate them so they can't have been that terrible!

And here's a look at some of the other cakes…

My mums - Gluten Free Chocolate & Pistachio Tart

Gluten Free Bakewell Tart

Lemon Tart

Mini Sweet Potato & Walnut Tarts

There were a couple of other dishes that I didn't manage to take pictures of but hopefully these few have got your tastebuds tingling! All of them were really tasty but I can safely say many of us are pleased the pastry theme is over! I think everybody had a disaster somewhere along the line with their recipe!

The next theme is a fruit tray bake. Before I started blogging I made an apple and raspberry crumble cake tray bake (wow what a mouthful!) so I might do something similar but with different fruit to mix it up a bit! 

What did you think of my squidgeroles? Have you got any ideas for what I can make next time?


30 January 2014

Flame Reed Diffusers

Having taken an unexpected break from blogging for a couple of days I am back! I went to Portsmouth to visit the boyf and although I took my laptop with me to blog, I just didn't get round to it (and completely forgot about it … oops!). But I've got quite a few posts lined up for the next week. I always find I have a brainwave at the end of the month and end up with so many posts to schedule!

Anyway, on with today's post. I love burning candles as do many other bloggers but I also have a slight fear that I'm going to burn the house down. I have to clear everything away from the candle and make sure nothing is going to catch on fire. You can tell I'm a right worrier! 

To combat my fear of burning the house down I decided it was time to invest in a reed diffuser. This way my room can still smell as lovely as when I burn a candle but without the added danger! Where I used to work (sounds so strange considering I only left last week!) sell Flame Homeware's candles and reed diffusers. The diffusers usually cost £12 but were in the sale for £6! 

I picked up the scent Peony Rose, which is a sweet floral scent as I wanted something that wasn't too heavy and wintery. There are several other scents in this line both in the reed diffusers and the candles. It took a couple of days for the scent to fill my room but I really like it as it's not too overpowering. I get a waft of it as I walk in the room or pass it but it's not one of these scents that clings to everything. 

Do you use reed diffusers? Which ones would you recommend? Or are you a worrier like me and have switched to these from candles?


27 January 2014

My Favourite Mascara

Apologies for posting a bit late in the day today. It's been a crazy day (typical the one day I don't schedule my post!). Having been offered a telephone interview for a job, I called up to organise it but they then did it there and then! I was totally unprepared but I passed it and am onto the next stage now!

Anyway… enough of my rambling apologies and on with the post. 
I've had the pictures for this post ready for a while now, but in yesterdays bbloggers chat a couple of people tweeted asking for mascara recommendations, so I thought this would be perfect timing for this post!

My all time favourite mascara that I swear by is Max Factors Clump Defy Mascara. 

I've used this mascara for about 2 years now and use it in both black and black/brown. I use black/brown on a daily basis as it's a bit softer than black which can look quite harsh against my pale skin. But I love wearing black for an evening out when I've got more makeup on as it really finishes a look off nicely. 

The other major plus of this mascara for me is the wand. I absolutely hate big brush wands because I never get a good application and always end up with mascara down my cheeks and on my eyelids. I much prefer a small plastic wand providing the plastic isn't too hard! This is definitely the best wand I've had on a mascara and as you can see from the picture above, it curves which is great for a quick, easy and smudge free application.

I also love the packaging. It's not slimline but equally the tube isn't too fat. It's fairly similar to a lot of other mascaras out there in terms of size. I love the colour of the packaging, definitely one of my favourite colours and I think the silver writing/decoration works really well. 

This mascara costs £10.99 which is a bit on the steep side compared to some other drugstore mascaras, however it's quite often on offer and I would say it's well worth the money! I'd much rather spend a bit extra on something I love than on a cheaper version that I'm not happy with. 

I am wearing this mascara in all my photos on my blog and more pictures can be found on my Instagram.

What is your favourite mascara? Have you ever tried this one? What do you think of it?


25 January 2014

Zentangle With A Difference

I hope you've all had a good week and enjoy the weekend! I had my last day at work yesterday, as my contract ended today so I am now unemployed as they didn't have any vacancies in the company to keep me on! So in between job hunting I will hopefully be bringing you a few more posts than usual! 

Today I thought I would share with you something I've been doing for a while but with a twist. My second ever blog post was about Zentangle so if you don't know what it is check out my original Zentangle post to find out what it's all about! Traditionally zentangle is done on white paper/card with a black fine liner. However for Christmas I received these black squares with a white and silver pen to try the reverse! It was so much more successful than I thought it would be so I decided to share it with you and to be honest I think I prefer the look of the white pen on black!

The silver pen is so sparkly and pretty but I think I'll use it more to define any bits of the pattern I want to rather than do all the patterns in silver as I think it might be a bit too much!

This is the first one I did. I love the overall effect and the next couple of pictures show my favourite parts closer up. The first picture shows this jagged criss cross pattern which I love as it looks so detailed but is so simple to create. The second I sort of made up as I went along with inspiration from a similar pattern. I think it really adds some depth to the look. 

I then completed this one. I had seen a wiggly line through the centre of the square in a book so decided to copy it and I'm really pleased with how it turned out. The picture below shows in detail the teeny tiny pattern I created in the corner. What amazes me is I look at this and think it would be so difficult to replicate but when the books show you step by step of how to recreate it, it's actually so simple and effective!

So there you have some zentangle with a difference! I really enjoy zentangling and find it so relaxing so if you're looking for something to de-stress yourself, this could be the thing for you!

Have you tried Zentangling? What do you think of it? Or has this post made you want to try it?


23 January 2014

Review: St Grape Aqua Bliss Bath Scrub

Back in November I entered a giveaway on Sabrina's blog A Little Obsessed to win a St Grape Aqua Bliss Bath Scrub. I didn't win but I received an email from St Grape in December asking if I wanted a free tub of this scrub - all I had to do was pay the postage. So I jumped on the chance and instead of paying £12 plus £4.95 postage I only had to pay £4.95! 

I absolutely love the packaging of this product. The floral white box and design of the label is so fresh and looks like such a high end luxury product. I wasn't expecting the product to be wrapped up so this was even more of a bonus as the paper was so pretty and it felt like Christmas opening this up!

The packaging of the product itself is in keeping with the label on the box. I love that the pot is glass and not flimsy plastic which adds to the luxury feel of the product.

The product smells amazing! What prompted me to buy the product is that St Grape's products are 100% organic and natural. As I have sensitive skin and suffer from eczema I thought this would be a great product to try in the hope that it wouldn't irritate my skin. 

So down to the nitty gritty (what a perfect term for a scrub!)…

The directions on the label state to use the attached scooper and use 1 scoop of product - first problem was there was no scooper! Unless they mean the flimsy bit of material inside the lid that buckles under any weight of the product! I found it much easier and quicker just to scoop a bit out with my fingers! 

I really liked the product when I was using it and having washed it off could feel a difference straight away. It left my skin feeling soft without feeling like I had grated half my skin off! However within 5 minutes of using the product my arms were burning and I had red patches all over both arms. This really put me off but a couple of weeks later I thought I would give it another go. Five minutes after using the product I thought all was good but within another 5 minutes the burning sensation had returned. I decided that the eczema I sometimes get around my elbow crease did not agree with this product.I've continued using the product but avoided using it on my arms and I've not had a problem so I think I'm going to stick with using this on my legs. 

My only other criticism of the product is that if you were to use the provided scooper (if the flimsy bit of material really is the scooper) then this product isn't going to last all that long and I think £12 for the amount you get is quite expensive - considering the pot was only about 3/4 full when I received it. However I would consider repurchasing it if they offered the same incentive again. 

This is probably my first review where there have been more negatives to the product than positives. But I definitely put this down to my skin type as I've heard rave reviews from others about the product. 

Have you tried this product? What did you think of it? 


21 January 2014

January Birchbox

Welcome to my January Birchbox post! This is only my second box so I was so excited when I arrived home from work last Wednesday to find it waiting for me! This months box is all about Tiny Tweaks. The message behind it being that instead of tackling all our resolutions, hopes and dreams at once, we break them down into smaller more manageable pieces. 

 I absolutely loved the bag the products came in last month so a sheet of pink tissue paper was a bit of a disappointment this month, but hey ho it's the products that count right?

Benefit The POREfessional

This has been on my wish list for months now but I've struggled to justify spending the money (full size costs £24.50) on it when I have so many other primers. My mum was so close to buying it for me for Christmas but didn't so I was over the moon to receive this sample of it to try before I make any commitments to buying it!

Lavera Basis Sensitive Hand Cream

I'm really intrigued to try this hand cream as it claims it's for sensitive skin and I have really sensitive skin on my hands as it's where I get my eczema the worst. It would be great if it does work as it costs £4.45 so nice and affordable! 

Philip Kingsley Elasticizer

1. I've never heard of Philip Kingsley and 2. I had no idea what Elasticizer was. I certainly wouldn't have guessed it was for hair! The idea is you work it though damp hair and leave it for 20 minutes before shampooing and conditioning. I'm really intrigued to try this as it claims to strengthen, nourish and prevent breakages - all of which are a bonus for me! A full size Elasticizer will cost you £27.50.

Rodial Bee Venom Moisturiser

I love the packaging of this product. The yellow is so bright and eye catching, especially on these dreary, drizzly winter days! I'm looking forward to trying this, although I will be using it sparingly as I doubt I'll purchase the full size for £150!!!!!!!!!!

Moa The Green Balm

When I first saw this I definitely thought it was a lip balm. Turns out it is a multi-purpose balm that nourishes dry skin, treats burns and can be used as a cleanser. I think the sample is a bit stingy as if you were to apply this all over your face to cleanse then it would only last a couple of days, if that! On the plus side it only costs £9.99 so quite affordable if first impressions are good!

Birchbox Eye Mask

Finally, a little extra included in the box was this eye mask. It is so cute and the perfect size for travelling should you wish to take it away with you. I owned one of these when I was younger and was obsessed with it so hopefully I will rekindle my love for these! Price = £10.

Having read a few others posts about this months box, a fair few people seem disappointed, however I'm actually quite pleased with what I received and will definitely use all of these products and maybe even buy a couple depending on how I get on with them. 

Do you subscribe to Birchbox? What did you get in your box? Or have you tried any of these products? (my bets are on Benefits primer!)


20 January 2014

Moments That Mattered

Whilst having a mooch of some blogs last night, I found out that the lovely Hannah from Away With The Fairies is currently running a giveaway on her blog to win an iPad mini! She has teamed up with Lloyds Bank to offer this wonderful prize and in order to enter, you must create a blog post on Moments That Mattered in 2013. I honestly couldn't believe it when I saw the prize so was thrilled to find out that I met the criteria to enter! 

I've chosen to share with you a few of the moments that mattered to me in 2013. I can't say 2013 was a brilliant year for me, it had its ups and downs but there are a fair few moments that I can pick out that really mattered to me and will be with me for years to come. So without further ado … I bring you my moments that mattered - enjoy!

From left to right & top to bottom … 

★ I was delighted to be asked to be Godmother to my youngest nephew 

★ I went to Fuerteventura with the boyf - it was our first holiday abroad together and although I had major anxiety issues on the way, it was one of the best holidays I've been on. We also celebrated being together for 2 years whilst we were there! This is a coincidence but I actually bank with Lloyds so thanks to my trusty Lloyds card I was able to pay for this holiday! 

★ I handed my dissertation in - my last ever hand in at university! 

★ I started Hanclarky and am so pleased I did because I have met so many amazing people and learnt so many new skills 

★ I went to see Robbie Williams & Olly Murs in concert at Wembley with my housemates. It was an amazing evening and a lovely end to our year living together. 

★ My nephew was Christened so I am now officially his godmother. The day was lovely and I look forward to creating many happy memories for years to come 

★ The boyf and I at my grad ball. It was a wonderful night spent with many friends that I will never forget. It was our last time together before we graduated and went our separate ways (temporarily of course!) 

★ Graduation day - I graduated with a 2:1 in Geography (mad I know) and I couldn't be happier with that. Having struggled with my anxiety at it's worst while at uni this was a real milestone for me to have pulled through and finished with a good grade 

★ My eldest nephew started school and I am so proud of him, who can resist that cutie pie with those chubby little knees. 

★ I went to see Passenger in concert. It was a great evening but this moment really mattered because it was another milestone for me. I went on a train on my own for the first time in years - this may sound silly to you but trains are usually a major no go for me because it's a huge trigger for my anxiety. I had one of the worst panic attacks I've had on the way to the concert but managed to stay on the train and not get off. Reflecting on the year, this is a huge moment that mattered to me as managing to get through that panic attack and enjoy the rest of the night was a step in the right direction to coping with my anxiety (sorry rant over) 

★ My dad and I taught my eldest nephew to play Mario Kart on the Wii. This sounds pathetic but seeing him concentrate on something for this long and seeing his face light up when he managed to do it was such a proud moment. This picture is one of my all time favourites, especially with the little one so focused on the tv! 

★ Don't worry, I'm not pregnant … I'm going to be an auntie again! I already have 3 nephews (2 pictured are my brothers and my sister has one too!) but my sister is expecting a girl this time! I'm so excited to have a niece and this is such amazing news for my sister after a tough couple of years. 

So there are my moments that mattered - wish me luck in the giveaway draw! 

What do you think of my moments that mattered? Have you got any stand out moments of 2013? 


19 January 2014

My Current Skincare

I posted about my skincare at the beginning of December as part of the British Blogger Selection challenge (see post here) and have now been set the topic again as part of the 2014 Blogger Challenge. Although my skincare regime has not changed massively in the last couple of months, there are a couple of products which I don't use very much now and some others that I have been using a bit more. 

The Products

Face Products
The Body Shop Vitamin E Nourishing Night Cream, The Body Shop Vitamin E Sink-In Moisture Mask, Simple Purifying Cleansing Lotion, Loreal 3 in 1 Purifying Micellar Solution, Simple Soothing Facial Toner, Simple Cleansing Face Wipes & Garnier Moisture Match for Normal-Dry Skin.

Every morning (when I remember/am not in a rush) I apply my cleanser and toner before anything else. I then use my Garnier moisturiser before priming my face and applying make-up. 

At the end of the day, I either use my Micellar solution or a face wipe to take off the majority of my makeup. I then use my cleanser and toner to remove any excess makeup and refresh my skin. Finally I use my Body Shop Night Cream just before going to bed. 

I generally use my face mask from The Body Shop once a week and sometimes more if I feel my skin is drier than normal. However there are weeks when I go by without it if I forget or feel that I don't need to use it. 

Body Products
Soap & Glory Hand Food, The Body Shop Peppermint Intensive Foot Rescue Cream, The Body Shop Hemp Body Butter & Soap & Glory Butter Yourself Moisture Lotion.

As mentioned in my previous skincare post, I use the Hemp Body Butter on my hands as I've found it really helps my eczema. I do use it as a body butter too but not so often. The other hand product I use is the Hand Food cream from Soap & Glory. This is one of the few hand creams I've found that doesn't irritate the eczema on my hands or leave a burning sensation. 

For my body, I am currently using the Butter Yourself Moisture Lotion from Soap & Glory. I love this body lotion and it smells amazing! I try and use this daily but I'm rubbish at remembering and am usually in a rush in the mornings! However if I have a shower in the evening I will always use this after as I tend to have more time!

Finally, I absolutely love using the Peppermint Foot Cream from The Body Shop. This cream leaves my feet feeling so soft and I find it really relaxing after a long day at work. Occasionally I will smother my feet in this cream and then put socks on and sleep with them on to make my feet super soft.

So there you have my current skincare. Everyone talks about skincare to do with face but I also think it's really important to remember your body, hands and feet as these all need to be looked after too!

What are your favourite skincare products? Do you use any of the same ones as me? Or are there any that you recommend as you just can't live without them?


17 January 2014

Mini MAC & NARS Haul

I've had these items on my wish list for a while now but finally caved in and decided to buy them while I still get my 10% discount! My mum cheekily came along too to make full use of my discount! 

MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Soft & Gentle
This has been on my wish list for a good couple of months. I bought a few products from MAC at the end of November and really wanted to purchase this too, however I couldn't bring myself to buy this and the Natural one so the other one won! See my last MAC Haul.

MAC Cremesheen Lipstick in Speak Louder
I originally intended on buying one of the new Huggable Lipcolours, however when I swatched them on my hand in store I really wasn't too keen on the texture of them. Maybe they would have grown on me or been fine on my lips but I certainly wasn't going to risk spending £17.50 on one! So instead, I decided to treat myself to a new lipstick. There are a few I've been thinking about purchasing but when I reached the counter, this one instantly caught my eye. This is such a beautiful shade and I think it's a perfect shade for all year round (see swatches at the end). 

NARS Sheer Glow Foundation in Siberia (Light 01)
For a while I've been convinced that my current MAC foundation in shade NW20, which is perfect for me in the summer, is too dark for my pasty winter skin. I've continued using it but not been 100% happy with it so I decided to finally go and purchase a foundation in the right shade for my current skin tone. I was thinking about buying Estée Lauder's Double Wear Foundation but I've been meaning to try out the NARS Sheer Glow Foundation too so decided to go for that one. The lovely lady on the NARS counter agreed with me that my MAC NW20 is definitely too dark at the moment and also confirmed that the MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Medium is too dark and that I should have gone for Light. I knew this all along so I'm not very happy with the MAC lady who told me Medium was a good choice (I should have spoken up at the time!). 

And here are the swatches of all 3.

Having purchased these items last week, I've now caved in and bought a lighter shade of my MAC foundation as I love the finish of it and am still getting to grips with the NARS Sheer Glow Foundation. If you have any tips on primers to use with the NARS foundation or any application tips I would be most grateful as no matter what I do at the moment, I can't get a good finish with it! Rather than taking all my photos again I will do a separate post on my new MAC foundation - maybe a face of the day or review. 

What do you think of these products? Have you tried any of them? If you've tried the NARS Foundation please comment with your tips on primers and application etc.


15 January 2014

Estée Lauder Make Up Artist Professional Colour Collection Swatches

I received this collection for Christmas and it is amazing! You can see my original post on it here as well as it featured in my What I Recevied For Christmas post. I mentioned in my Christmas presents post that I would swatch the set for you. Try not to keel over at the pure delight of these beautiful shades of eyeshadow, blusher, bronzer, lipstick and lipgloss!

A little reminder of the set …

And a look at what I will be swatching …

Eyeshadow & Blusher/Bronzer
The eyeshadow palette contains 8 satin shades, 6 shimmer shades and 4 matte shades. 
The blusher and bronzer palette contains 3 blushers and 1 bronzer.

Top Row (L-R = B-T): Sugar Cube, Pink Flash, Sepia Sand, Summer Linen, Sugar Biscuit & Ivory Slipper.

Middle Row: (L-R = B-T): Amazing Grey, Tranquil Moon, Smokey Ember, Nude Fresco, Hot Cinnamon & Wild Sable.

Bottom Row (L-R = B-T): Nocturnal Blue, Berry Burst, Amethyst Spark, Ivy Envy, Chocolate Bliss & Lavish Mink.

I love all the colours in this palette and think it is such a handy palette to travel with as there is such a good mix of shades and finishes. Daily, I would probably only wear shades from the top 2 lines, but it's nice to have some brighter colours for those days where you want an extra pop of colour. Although the palette includes satin, shimmer and matte shades, I think some of the satin and shimmer shades actually look similar in finish so it's hard to distinguish between them without looking at the names/description on the back of the palette. 

T-B: Pink Kiss, Peach Passion, Lover's Blush & Medium (Bronzer). 

I didn't really think through my swatching pattern on this one so there is no logical order to the swatches but I'm sure you can work it out! I think this is also a really handy palette to take away with you as it contains a good variety of shades.


L-R: Hot Kiss, Sugar Honey & Nectarine - all shimmer shades.

T-B: Sugar Honey, Nectarine & Hot Kiss.

Looking at these shades in the packaging they wouldn't have been my first choice so I was a bit apprehensive but having tried them all out I actually really like all 3 shades. All 3 are shimmer shades, although you wouldn't believe it looking at the photo! I've found they don't come out as shimmery when swatched on skin … but you get the idea of the shades!


Praline Paradise & Garnet Desire. 

Praline Paradise & Garnet Desire

Apologies for the grubby looking arm in this photo! I definitely should have swatched the lipgloss and then the lipsticks! I'm not usually a fan of lipgloss, I just hate the sticky texture of it and it reallllllly winds me up when my hair gets stuck to it - I know I'm not the only one with this complaint! BUT these are actually really lovely! Although they are stickier than lipstick (to be expected!), once applied and settled on your lips, they're not very sticky at all! And the colour payoff is amazing!

So there are all the swatches. I didn't swatch the nail varnish as this is just a standard pillar box red colour and I didn't see the point in swatching the eyeliner either as I'm pretty sure we all know what black eyeliner looks like!

What do you think of these shades? Do you own this collection? Or any similar Estée Lauder products?