Thursday, 31 July 2014

Instagram: July 2014

first free saturday in months was spent in bed with a good book • building my own little herb garden • homemade lemonade • kiehl's sunscreen • wish I could shop at the farmer's market every day • favourite childhood quote from winnie the pooh • gorgeous jo malone candle • tired tegan • lush lovin' • taking a break with vogue and my first krispy kreme • show orchid for national lipstick day • spray carnations and kilner jars • canon 700d aka my new baby • healthy breakfast • almond butter cookies • christening outfit

So here we are - midsummer - and July has been a pretty glorious month! Aside from the near-on nightly thunderstorms because it's been so warm, the weather during the day has been lovely, albeit quite humid. I'm on the coast so it's never as bad but, my god, I couldn't hack my impromptu trips into the city. So stifling - the air con in the car was much needed!

I was trying to be a bit more sustainable this month, so I decided I would cook more things from scratch. We visited the local nurseries and bought flowers to fill up the empty beds in the garden, and while I was there I also picked up some rosemary, thyme and sage in order to make a little herb garden. So excited for the results as that's a work in progress! I also went to my local (20-odd minutes away) farmer's market and was spoilt for choice. I absolutely love it there! All the fresh produce is set out beautifully and the colours are amazing. They even had their own little cheese counter (we indulged of course) and a butcher's counter too (so expensive). We ended up buying carrots, vine tomatoes, avocados, fresh bread rolls and a strong cheese called Black Bomber - which was so delicious! The main reason we visited was so we could pick-our-own strawberries to make strawberry jam. Five pounds of strawberries later we headed home and got to work, making ten jars of the stuff. I love making things from scratch, it gives you such a feeling of gratification. 

Another big update was blogging-related. I finally splashed out on a fancy new camera and a blog redesign! Expensive? Yes, but I thought I deserved a treat! I bought the Canon EOS 700D from Amazon and it arrived the next day all shiny and pretty. I'm really enjoying playing around with it at the moment, and have noticed a huge difference in picture quality. And now I can take HD videos I may venture into the world of YouTube... What do you think, would you watch my ramblings? And what do you reckon to the blog overhaul? I really like it, I think it looks so clean and professional - just how I wanted it! Pipdig were the masterminds behind it all. They provide such a great service, I would recommend them to the moon and back!

Oh and I bloody love that cream and black lace dress from Boohoo. I teamed it with some comfortable black heeled sandals from New Look and my Whistles clutch. Not so funny story about that event... I was working until 6am that Sunday morning and had to be up to get to the Christening by 12pm so basically I was completely exhausted and didn't know where I was. So much so that I was delirious, drunk and just a total state. I spilt half a vodka and coke (such a waste) all down my cream dress and my Mum had to drive home to get me a change of clothes while I cowered in the corner. Oh dear! 

I'm very much looking forward to August's antics, including a trip to Dorset to see my Aunt get remarried at Portland Castle!

How was your July?

Monday, 28 July 2014

Almond Butter Cookies

I was on a health kick ages ago and bought loads of healthy clean ingredients to make nutritious meals with, but had sort of fallen off the wagon a bit. My jar of almond butter had basically separated into oil and a solid lump after discovering it in the back of the cupboard this morning. Not good. And after trawling the internet for a solution I came across this recipe for almond butter cookies. Think of a peanut butter cookie but a smidgen healthier and pretty much guilt-free.

Here's how you make them...

Makes 12 small cookies

1/2 cup roasted almond butter, softened to a stir-able consistency
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp quick oats
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 tbsp applesauce

Preheat the oven to 350°F or gas mark 4, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together all ingredients to form a dough. Form cookie dough balls with your hands, and place six balls on each cookie sheet. The natural oils in the almond butter can make the dough a bit oily so make sure you have a napkin to hand. Bake for 8 minutes. They should still be a little undercooked when they first come out the oven, but they'll firm up as they cool. It's also best to set the tray aside for at least 10 minutes before picking them up. 

You can freely adapt this recipe with whatever ingredients you want. Substitute the sugar for honey (we did this half and half), the almond butter for crunchy peanut butter, add chocolate chips or sultanas into the mix... Hell, even dip your cookies in chocolate for a naughtier treat! The possibilities are quite endless! 

This recipe was adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie

Saturday, 26 July 2014

101 Ways to Use a Kilner Jar

Okay so not quite 101 ways but I caught your attention, right? I do love a good Kilner jar. Crafted with thick glass and sturdy clip and twist tops, they're always fantastic quality. Of course, there are cheaper alternatives out there if you're budgeting but I just really like the authenticity and matchability of my jars! So what can you do with a Kilner jar? Well, the question you should really be asking is what can't you do...

Jams, Preserves and Chutneys - The obvious option, but the classic. We recently made ten jars of fresh strawberry jam (so delicious!) and we're planning on making bramble jelly at the end of summer/early autumn when the blackberries are ripe enough. My family is also quite partial to red onion chutney - something I don't like because ew onions, but I'm told it goes really well with mature cheddar. Just make sure if you ever decide to make any of these that you sterilise your jars first, otherwise they'll smash once potted.

Storage - This is the biggest one for me. Our kitchen has a few jars on display including organic porridge oats, self-raising flour, eggs, wholewheat spaghetti, dark chocolate chips, and sultanas. Other useful jars to have are pasta shapes, pulses, nuts and seeds - all healthy yummy food! I think it's nice to see what you've got available in front of you instead of constantly popping into your food cupboards. I just use Kilner jars for ingredients we use a lot so we know when to restock. Eggs go quick in our household for some reason!

Baking - Aside from storing your baking ingredients, you can also bake with jars. I know, I was a bit weary too. The whole putting glass jars in a high oven surely they'd explode... Well if you use a homemade bain-marie i.e. a roasting tin half-filled with water, and then place your jars in it with a simple cake mix, it will cook evenly and you're left with a fabulous cake in a jar. Becky over at Milk Bubble Tea has a recipe for a pastel rainbow version and it just looks so delicious - I highly recommend giving it a whirl! 

Drinks - Alcoholic or not, Kilner jars are a brilliant way to drink in style. Whether for a garden party or just a lazy summer's evening, I love using jars for drinks. Spruce up that margarita, perk up your morning smoothie, present that homemade lemonade... Hell, add some cute little umbrellas and act like you're in the Tropics! 

Vinaigrettes and Sauces - Lately I've been making my own vinaigrettes and sauces, thanks to a little guidance from my favourite food blog, Food 52. They have a really useful series called "How to Make... Without a Recipe" and the possibilities are endless as to what you can make. At the moment I'm loving a simple mustard and garlic dressing, and it goes lovely with chicken and steak - yum! I tend to use the smaller Kilner jars for doing this task - the 500ml jar with the clip-top lid stops your dressing from going everywhere when you give it a good shake.

Storage - Kilner jars are great for bathroom storage too. I use them for storing cotton wool buds, cotton wool pads, hair ties and bobby pins (because where the hell do they get to?). They also add a really nice decorative feel to your bathroom shelf, and they're not too bulky either.

Homemade Bath Salts - I have yet to tackle this, but I've seen so many photographs of it on Pinterest that it really makes me want to try to make my own. It doesn't look too challenging, and you could add any scent and any colour you like, even co-ordinate with your bathroom. Is that the perfectionist in me? Or you can alternatively buy some too, but I think homemade adds more of a personal touch to your home!

Flower Vase - Another obvious one, but recently I've been using spare jars as flower vases. They work really well, I think. The bigger the bouquet, the bigger the jar! As a side note, I'm loving pink spray carnations at the moment and like to display them in clear little milk bottles for a different take on the flower vase.

Diorama - For an updated centrepiece to a coffee table, a larger Kilner jar layered with soil and greenery would look beautiful. Bring the outside in and give your home its own little living room garden! I also saw on Tumblr that someone was in the process of filling a jar with different sands from the different countries they've visited - what a cute and interesting idea!

Lanterns - This is one of my favourite ideas. Stick a tealight candle in an empty smaller jar or a plain white candle in a 500ml jar, add some coloured pebbles, attach some wire... Hey presto, you have yourself a homemade lantern! Great for garden parties, weddings, and other special outdoor occasions, add a personal touch to any event. You can even paint the outside of a jar and just leave a heart shape for the light to shine through. Alternatively, grab some battery-operated plain-white fairy lights and stick them in a jar!

Gifts - Make a themed jar for someone's birthday, for Christmas, Easter, or even as a thank-you. I love the idea of giving a personalised gift to someone special. Fill the bottom of the jar with hay, add some themed chocolate, homemade cookies, fudge; maybe a little note, some of the recipient's favourite little things, tie a ribbon around the top and get ready for the joy to explode. I think this is also a great idea for kids, especially if you're introducing them to a holiday and don't want them too hyper over mountains of chocolate.

Craft Holder - Use jars to hold all your crafty gizmos, quirky stationery, kitchen utensils etc. Sometimes it's nice to just strip it back and make simple use out of an empty jar.

So, yes, not quite 101 ways but a little taster to get your creative juices flowing! If you come across an empty jar and fancy "upcycling" then look no further than Pinterest for ideas. I cannot rate that website enough. You can find almost anything on there! Most of the ideas are really creative and make you look at a project so differently.

I have to admit, for such a simple subject this post has really brought out my creative side.

How do you make use of your jars?

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Lush D'Fluff Strawberry Shaving Soap

Hello everyone, I hope you're ready for a Lush review! I mostly own bath bombs and bubble bars, and it's just way too hot to be stewing in bathtubs at the moment! Nevertheless, this post is basically an ode to smooth, silky legs - and the great British strawberry, of course. Want to know more? Stay tuned.

Lush's D'Fluff Shaving Soap is a relatively new product to the handmade cosmetic giants and one that I have been itching to get my hands on. If you're a hairy Mary in desperate need of a painless solution, this baby will do wonders. I personally much prefer to shave my legs over waxing or using an epilator but, as you know, it does take a bit more upkeep. With D'Fluff, the menial task of shaving is no longer a chore and guarantees you slick getaway sticks with an after-hint of fresh strawberry. Simply apply like a shaving foam and shave as normal, rinsing the blade often - easy! 

The texture is lighter than air, thanks to the addition of whipped egg whites - yes, I know... I would say it reminds me of a lightly whipped mousse that you apply to your skin. Other ingredients include fresh strawberries, coconut oil, golden syrup (whaaat), rosehip oil, and cocoa butter. Mix them altogether and you get a product that moisturises, soothes and nourishes in one step. Another great thing is that it's a unisex product that can be used all over the body and face, not just your legs, and it can also double up as a body wash!

Sorry there's no photographs of my legs - they weren't really up to the task... While they were gorgeously silky smooth, they're also covered in bruises from work and are in need of a good whip of fake tan. Not a bad word to say on this one. Have you tried it?

Now I'm off to go and stick my legs under a fresh cold duvet - ahh bliss! Just me?

D'Fluff Strawberry Shaving Soap retails at £5.75 (70g) or £9.95 (150g), and is available from Lush stores and online.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Illamasqua Nail Polishes in Milf and Spartan

Hello everyone! It's been a while since I've done a nail polish post; probably because my nails are always cut short to stop them snapping at work. Such is life. However, miraculously, my nails have recently gained precious length and I thought I would throw them a little party to celebrate.

An unlikely pairing, Milf and Spartan are two welcome additions to my nail polish collection. I love Illamasqua's nail polishes. They are so long-lasting, fast-drying and chip-resistant - they can even withstand being submerged in hot washing-up water - and they also provide a beautiful glossy finish. The formula is really good, because the opaqueness and intensity of colour only takes two coats to achieve.

MILF is described as a "bright mint creme gloss" but as I'm obsessed at the moment, I'm going to label this shade as more of a pistachio-green. Getting over the name, I could wear this colour every day - it's so, so pretty! It's a lot more muted than Essie's Mint Candy Apple, which is one polish in my collection I could compare it to. It's very unique, I've not come across a shade quite like it, which is why I'm struggling to find a comparison. Just believe me on this one: it's a beautiful nail polish!

SPARTAN is described as "gold glitter with a glossy finish" which is pretty apt. Add a touch of glamour to your nails with lovely flecks of gold and silver glitter. The staying power is fantastic (because glitter is notoriously difficult to remove) and, to my surprise, applies like a dream. The glitter is so fine that it doesn't clump together or form bumpy parts on the nails. Overall I'm very impressed.

I really love oddities, and I love the accent nail trend even more. I know that the accent nail is supposed to be on your ring finger, but I definitely prefer it on my index finger. Perhaps I'm going my own way with the trend... It's a great way of incorporating a bit of glitter into your everyday look without it being too in-your-face. Pairing glitter with a subtle pastel colour means you can't really go wrong!

What do you think? Do like the pairing? Are you a fan of the accent nail trend?

Illamasqua nail polishes retail at £14.50, or £13.05 with the 10% loyalty discount, and are available online.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Wish, Wish, Want: Pastel Kitchen

Happy Friday all, hope you're well! I started nights this week so I'm a little bit out of sorts - I don't seem to know whether I'm coming or going... When do I sleep? Do I nap before work? No man up! What is sleep anyway? That's my actual thought process right now; hopefully it will get easier as the weeks go by. I've also had some trying news family-wise, and then to top it all off my camera broke yesterday, sob sob. So I figured I would do a quick wish list post for you, because I currently can't take any pretty pictures until I either get it fixed or buy a new camera altogether (depending on the damage).

As you know, I love my baking and kitchenware. I'm yet to move out but I'm sure that when I do I will have the prettiest kitchen known to man, so pretty it'll be worthy of pinning on Pinterest! Having cute homeware not only makes your house look nicer and more lived-in, but it also lifts your mood, I think. I know that I would much rather spend my money on stuff for the home than anything else at the moment.

Buying new pastel kitchenware funnily enough encourages me to bake more, so these items would be welcomed with open arms into my country kitchen:

I think all these beauties would make even the most anti-cooking person want to give it a go! I've been super impressed with all the supermarkets' vast stock of beautiful kitchenware. Tesco in particular have a gorgeous range of pastel goodies - tons more than I've shown here - and it's all very reasonably priced too! I'll definitely be popping in on Monday to see what I can grab. Have the trolley on standby, I may go pastel crazy!

What do you think? Are you a fan of pastels, or even just pretty kitchenware in general?

Monday, 7 July 2014

Benefit They're Real Push-Up Liner

I love gel eyeliner. Most of the time I feel naked without it. I'm a big fan of MAC's and Bobbi Brown's gel liner pots - both of which require a separate thin brush in order to use. Anyone who knows me or has seen me out and about knows that I tend to favour the winged eyeliner. Perfecting the style has taken some time. Just when you think you've got one eye perfect, the other eye looks completely different. One of life's unfair miseries, isn't it? If only I could find a product that would help make the process much easier...

In steps Benefit's newest release: They're Real! Push-Up Liner. With claims of innovation, it is the first ever lash-hugging gel liner pen. I'm sold. To use, simply twist the base to push the matte black gel to the AccuFlex™ tip and slowly guide it along the lash line. I like to mark out the flick first, which is super easy to do because the soft tip is the perfect size and shape, and then fill in the lash line to complete the look. The dark pigment and smooth consistency allow the liner to glide along the lash line. And because it's in pen-form you can pop it in your handbag with no mess!

And did I mention that this beauty is waterproof? Believe me, I've tested it out while working out and in the sea, and I can tell you that it does not budge once applied! The only downside of course is that it's not easy to remove. To avoid scrubbing your eyes out, I found that soaking a cotton wool pad in micellar water was the best option, but have also heard great things about the They're Real Remover, used in the same way.

With its incredible staying power I think it's safe to say that this is one for your summer makeup bag - think holiday survival! Where the hell was this product when I was perfecting my cat eye flick all those years ago?

I'd love to know what you guys think! Have you tried it?

Benefit They're Real! Push-Up Liner retails at £18.50, and is available for Benefit counters and online.

Friday, 4 July 2014

NARS Illuminator in Copacabana

What's this? A beauty review? What?

I know, it's been a little while, but with the recent gorgeous weather I thought this one would be quite appropriate! You could say I've taken quite a shine to this little guy...

NARS Illuminator in Copacabana is one of those products where a little really does go a long way. This light-reflecting pearly pink liquid refreshes the look of your skin, enhancing your complexion with shimmery radiance. It can be used to brighten up bare skin or used as a highlight to enhance makeup. NARS claims that it "lights the skin from within". I don't think you're limited on what you can do with this product. If you think it's too much on its own - shiny faces take heed - then you can always mix a little bit in with your foundation or BB cream and it works to enhance your skin subtly which I really like! You can apply it all over the face this way, or on its own applied to areas which you wish to highlight e.g. brow bones, cheek bones, cupid's bow - anywhere the light naturally hits your face. It can also be used to highlight the neck and shoulders. Oh I do love a multi-functional product!

Now, for the price... A high-end beauty company like NARS almost always guarantees that a hefty price tag follows, and this illuminator is no exception. However, I see these things as more of an investment. You need the tiniest drop in order to give your face a beautiful glow so really I can justify forking out £22.50. I understand that this is rather steep for some of us but you can always go to your local NARS counter and ask for a sample to see if you like it - even that one sample will probably last you ages.

All in all, if you're seeking a subtle glow this summer then look no further. Copacabana will brighten up even the dullest looking skin. I have a feeling I'll be using it a lot more often now I'm on night shifts at work for the next 9 weeks - goodbye zombie-grey!

Have you tried Copacabana, or any of the NARS Illuminators?

NARS Illuminators retail at £22.50, and are available online.
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