Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Mavala Box Set

Currently going through a real Mavala phase. I just LOVE them!

I bought this box set quite a while ago on a bit of a whim but I'm so glad I did. It cost £30 for 7 polishes and a top coat (working out at a bargain £3.75 per pot). Most of the colours are more suitable for Autumn and Winter but there are stll a couple of lovely bright colours suitable for any time of year. I feel I'll keep coming back to the classic colours in this set for years to come.

The contents are:
Liberty (a beautiful nude peachy colour)
Tobago (fabulous deep red)
Mexico (gorgeous dark purple)
Los Angeles (an outrageous red with a hint of orange)
Amber (really unique bronze colour)
New York (lovely grey - see post here)
Sweety (a very sweet but not sickly pink)
Top Coat (I loved this while I used it and nearly finished the whole pot, but then moved on to my fabulous Seche - see post here)

I will no doubt continue to eventually review each of these colours in individual posts but I felt the gift set needed a mention of it's own as it's so bloody fabulous! xx

Monday, 8 October 2012

Jam Tarts

These are so so so easy to make, yet so satisfying! I think they were probably the first thing I ever made, back when I was about five with my Mum and they still remind of that now.

I made a sweet pie yesterday (which I will of course be covering in a post, but I haven't eaten it yet and so it will have to wait for another day). With the pastry I had leftover after lining the flan tin I made some jam tarts.

You can use ready-made shortcrust pastry, but seeing as I'd already made some for the pie I just used the cut offs. The pastry recipe I used was:

200g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
120g butter
1 large free range egg yolk
1 or 2 tbsp icy water

Sift the flour, salt and sugar in to a mixing bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles crumbs.
Using a round-bladed knife, work in the egg yolk and icy water, one spoonful at a time, to bring the mixture together to make a ball of dough. Don't be tempted to put too much water in - keep mixing and it will come together but if it really is too dry add another spoonful.
Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge.
Once your pastry has cooled in the fridge for around 20 minutes, roll it out to approximately 3mm - this doesn't have to be exact!
Using a cutter about 6cm bigger than the hole in your tin, cut out circles and pop this into a muffin tin. Any bits that don't fit in to a circle can be moulded together and rolled again to make more.
Put a heaped teaspoon of your favourite jam in each case (for these ones I made some lemon curd, some lemon & lime jam, some ginger jam and some strawberry jam).
Place in a preheated oven at about 180 for approx 12-15 minutes, until the pastry is cooked and set.

Do let them cool on a wire rack before eating - the sugar in the jam means it gets very hot.


Thursday, 4 October 2012

Teapigs Chamomile Tea

Teapigs teas are my absolute obsession at the moment. I received a set of different flavours for my birthday and have continued to grow my collection ever since. Although perhaps slightly pricey for tea, I can get two cups of tea out of one bag, still with lots of flavour and so it works out much more economical!

This chamomile tea contains just whole chamomile flowers - as if you'd just picked them out of the garden! Not only are they pretty to look at while drinking the tea but chamomile flowers are widely known for their calming effects which can reduce anxiety and also help with sleep. Not crushed, this contains the whole flower which ensures you get all of the benefits of the plant. The bags themselves are biodegradable pyramid "tea temples" which means the flowers can move around and let all of their goodness in to the tea.

I love this tea just before bed, lovely and relaxing! I leave the bag in the cup and sip while reading a good book :)

Available from www.teapigs.co.uk


Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Nail Rock - Dotty Red

I've used Nail Rock a couple of times now and have always been impressed. This classic red and white spotted dot is a great style as it goes with absolutely everything. It could easily be done using nail varnish and a dotting tool, but it wouldn't be as neat and wouldn't last as long. This is probably quicker and easier to do as well!

One note I would say about the application of them is use a hairdryer to heat them before sticking them on your nail. Old packs used to always say to do this but I think they must have had to take it off for health and safety reasons - some people were probably burning their fingers and then trying to sue Nail Rock, blaming them.  Anyway; I find carefully heating the stickers up for 5-10 seconds before carefully pushing them on the nail really helps them last longer as it softens the vinyl and glue, making them more pliable and easier to shape to your nail. Please don't burn your fingers though - hair dryers do blow hot hair that can burn (obvs).

I have in the past also tried other (cheaper) nail sticker brands and was very much less impressed. I found they chipped within days whereas I can keep Nail Rock on for up to 10 days, without so much as a chip. I normally only have to take it off when my nails have grown so much that you can see the growth underneath, making it look untidy, or they have started to come away at the edge and catch on clothes or hair.

The range of designs Nail Rock does is really impressive and always growing. They're available absolutely everywhere now from Topshop to Asos to Boots and many other store. They have even created diffusion lines such as Lip Rock and Eye Rock. A very fun brand and one I would continue to purchase items from! x


Sunday, 30 September 2012

My first Beehive

Although perhaps not a widely-recognised fashion role model, and certainly not a great general role model, I can't help but LOVE Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous. She's completely outrageous and for ages I've wanted to try and achieve her signature hairstyle - the beehive.

This here is my first ever attempt and is definitely not the last! I have a lot of hair and always thought it would be too long to be able to pin it all up and tuck it in but it was much easier than I thought it would be. I've never been very good at putting my own hair up and still can't ever get that sleek look that others seem to be able to. However, I've managed to come to terms with it and persuaded myself that a sleek hairstyle wouldn't suit me anyway - I seem to always be a bit of a dishevelled mess and a sleek hairstyle just wouldn't look right. This only took approx 20 minutes and is a great smart hairstyle.

To start with I sectioned off the front part of my hair from ear to ear (creating a parting where an Alice band would sit) and clipped this up out of my way. Then, working in three sections (one on each side and one at the back) I back-combed hair in layers all the way from the top down to the nape of my neck. Once hair was successfully back-combed and voluminous I unclipped the smooth hair and smoothed it down to cover the knotty bits.  I pushed it all over one shoulder and put in a couple of kirby grips to secure the hair to one side. I then pushed the hair back over the kirby grips and tucked the lengths inside,  finally securing with more clips. It actually only took four clips to hold my mass amount of hair up and just small sprays of hairspray to secure any flyaways.

It could be argued this isn't really a traditional beehive and might be slightly french-pleat-ish but I am very proud of myself and can't wait to practice some more!x

Friday, 28 September 2012

Nails - Mavala New York

As the weather this week has become more and more Autumnal and miserable I decided it was time for a more season-appropriate nail colour.

Mavala are one of my favourite nail brands - I find they always do the most beautiful colours and the cute little pots mean you can try even more different colours without feeling as guilty.  I would never have thought about buying a grey nail varnish before but I love it! You see a lot of silver about at the moment and although it looks good, I love that the grey is something a bit different and less space-age.

Of course it isn't all grey and dismal - sparkly ring fingers courtesy of a super old and almost dried up silver glitter I found called Mercury add a bit of fun to the look (the brand name has even rubbed off, I think it got it for a present about 7 years ago but it's lasted well on my nails!). And obviously the look was finished off with a layer of Seche!

Have a great weekend! x

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Chocolate Cherry Mousse Cake

Ever come across that dilemma when you can't decide if you fancy chocolate sponge or chocolate mousse or something with cherries? Of course! Well here is your solution... A layer of chocolate sponge on the bottom for substance followed by a layer of cherries for a fruity kick, topped off with a soft, fluffy chocolate mousse. Mmmmm!

Unfortunately it is impossible to take a photograph that shows all of the different layers, and so this really doesn't do it justice.

Yesterday was my brother's birthday and so, as if I ever needed an excuse, I decided to make him a birthday cake with a difference. This is essentially two different recipes which you then make in to one big cake, sandwiching a layer of cherries (I used ones from a jar but you could use fresh) in the middle. Although the recipe itself isn't time consuming, the cooling of the sponge and setting of the mousse does take a long time and so it may be better to do the morning or day before it's needed. It's been a big hit with my brother and his friends, as well all of the relations who have tried a slice when popping in to give him presents.

I hope you like it!x

For the sponge:      - 50g butter
                             - 100g plain chocolate
                             - 2 medium free range eggs
                             - 125g golden caster sugar
                             - 50g plain flour
                             - 1tsp baking powder
                             - 15g cocoa powder
For the cherries:     - 250g (drained weight) of cherries, halved
                             - 3tbsp  juice from the jar/can of cherries or kirsch/cherry brandy
For the mousse :    - 100g plain chocolate
                             - 200g milk chocolate
                             - 4 eggs, separated (make sure you get no yolks in the white!)
                             - 150ml double cream

For the sponge:
Heat the oven to 180°c (gas mark 4) and base line a 22cm springform tin with greaseproof paper. Grease the sides. 
Melt the butter and sugar together in the microwave or over a bowl of simmering water and cool to room temperature.
Whisk the eggs and sugar together until the mixture is pale and thickened (about 5 minutes). 
Fold the chocolate mixture in to the egg mixture and then sift in the flower, baking powder and cocoa. 
Fold this all together gently and pour in to the prepared tin. 
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cracking on the top and just set in the middle (insert a skewer to the centre to see if it's cooked, if it comes out with mixture on it needs a few more minutes, if it's clean you're good to go!)
Cool completely in the tin before removing and taking off the paper.
For the cherries:
Now line the tin with cling film (this is to stop the mousse from sticking to the edges and is pretty tricky but do try to get all of the edges flat - it would also be easier when taking it off afterwards if you put a separate piece on the edge to the bit underneath)
Flip the cake over and put back in to the tin 
Prick the sponge with a cocktail stick and pour over the liquid from the cherries/liquor.
Place the cut cherries flat side down in a layer to cover the sponge
For the mousse:
Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water. Leave to cool.
Beat together the egg yolks.
Whip the cream softly - you don't want it to be stiff, just whipped.
Add the cream to the yolks and then gently fold this in to the cooled chocolate.
Whisk the egg whites to firm peaks.
Gently fold the egg whites through the chocolate mixture.
Spoon this on top of the sponge and cherry base and put in the fridge to set for at least four hours.