Sunday, 31 July 2011

Nail of the Day: Keeping it simple with e.l.f. Purple Pleaser :)

After my recent e.l.f. haul I was a little spoiled for choice when I came to paint my nails today- I knew I wanted to use a new colour- but I'm indecisive! I eventually settled on Purple Pleaser as I havn't had purple nails in far too long, and I'm really glad I did- what a lovely colour :)

I feel like the formula of this polish is different to other e.l.f. polishes I have- it dried a lot faster but it was also a bit streaky, perhaps it's just his one or have they changed the formula recently? Either way I still love this shade :)

What's on your nails?


Saturday, 30 July 2011

The easiest biscuits ever :)

My sister is off to a camp called Charnwood today- it's a huge international camp for Guides and Scouts from all over the world, she is super excited and I've been helping her pack all week! She had to take some cakes or biscuits to share with her group, so naturally we decided to try out a new recipe :)

This ginger snap cookie recipe came from the back of a Cathy Cassidy book called Ginger Snaps (similar to Jacqueline Wilson books, my sister loves them) and is really really easy to make (I know I say that a lot but seriously, you basically chuck everything in a bowl and mix it) and my sister managed everything but rolling out the dough herself.

You will need:

350g plain flour
175g light brown sugar
2 tablespoons of golden syrup
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 and 1/5 teaspoons of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
100 butter
1 egg

1) Place the dry ingredients into a bowl with the butter, and use your fingers to rub the butter and flour mixture together, it will look like fine breadcrumbs.

2) Add the sugar, egg and golden syrup and mix together with a spoon.

3) Get your hands in again, and squeeze the mixture into a dough.

4) Roll out your dough on a clean, floured surface, until approximately 1/2cm thick. Cut out cookies (we used hearts and stars, again) and place onto baking trays lined with baking paper.

5) Bake at 180C (350F, gas mark 4) for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool, then enjoy. You can also ice them if you wish, but I decided icing might not last too well at camp!

These are perfect dunking cookies (I cannot eat a biscuit without coffee) slightly crisp on the outside, and still soft on the inside. The ginger taste perfect for me- not too strong but definitely there :) They probably only took about 1/2 an hour to make- including baking time- and there's very little washing up (a bowl, a spoon and a seive) so they're super fast and fuss-free, thought you'd never know from tasting them- they're delicious!


Friday, 29 July 2011

My e.l.f. package has arrived!!! :)

When e.l.f. announced another 50% code (with order of £30 or more- see their website for details) I couldn't resist making an order- I decided that it was my early birthday gift to myself :) My package came today (speedy as usual) and I am really happy with what I got:

My sister purchased a Defining Eye Brush a while ago- naturally I've used it and fallen in love, so I had to get one for myself :) The Cream Eyeliner is in Black- I thought it would be useful for evening/ more dramatic looks, but I still love Coffee for everyday wear.

I'm very excited about trying the new Cream Eyeshadows, I got one shade, Dawn, to try it out and so far I really like it, I think the colour suits me :)

Wow my veins look blue here...

Because of the 50% off, nail polishes were only 75p... it would be silly not to get a few- so I got 10! I figured I'd probably end up buying them at some stage anyway, may as well do it at half the price :) Now I just have to change my entire nail polish storage around to fit them all in!

Left side (top to bottom): Purple Pleaser, Sunset, Rosy Raisin, Medium Red, Dark Red
Right side (top to bottom): Plum, Chocolate, Blush, Mango Madness, Dark Navy.

I would love to do swatches for every polish here, but you'll have to wait until my e.l.f. nail polish review (coming soon I promise!) The picture above is fairly true-to-life anyway.

And finally, something I've been wanting for quite a while (I have a couple of make up bag but they're too big/small/short etc.) is the Signature Case- and I finally caught it in stock :) (not anymore though) I got the silver colour, which is a kind of antiqued silver rather than bright silver.

There is a large pocket on one side, with lots of space for things, then a zip-up flap which has spaces for brushes, and a little mesh pocket for more things. I'm going away for a week ( a Pack Holiday) with my Brownie group in a couple of weeks and this will be perfect for my make up- I'm really excited about packing! (I'm less excited about doing all the catering for 15 Brownies and 6/7 leaders!)

What have you been buying recently? Have you made a 50% off order?


Thursday, 28 July 2011

Whats in my bag!

This tag has been going around on YouTube for a long time now, and I love seeing what everyone keeps in their bags (I'll admit, I'm nosey) and after a thread on beautylish (which you should join, it's fun!) I thought I'd let you all have a nosey into my bag :)

My bag is from Topshop; I got it a while ago (probably 3 years?) for around £30- £40 -so I think it's well worth the money :) It's a lovely deep blue (which pretty much goes with anything) faux leather- great for me as I try my best to avoid animal products- and is big enough to haul all of my stuff around (I used this at uni and it fitted all manner of dance shoes, work folders and food in it) I really like the 'origami' sides, and the fact that it has 2 zip pockets (one on the outside, as you can see, and another inside) to keep smaller items safe.

The absolute 'will not leave the house without' items are: my phone (a Samsung somethingorother) my diary- I am super organised but a little forgetful so I write everything down, my purse (£6 from New Look) house and car keys, and a bottle of water (I like to keep a bottle in the fridge so I always have a cold one ready)

I don't tend to carry much in the way of make up, but there are some beauty related things I wont go out without: hand cream (especially in the winter) I have a review of this one here- I really love it :) a little pot of vaseline (in the clear tub), Carmex, some E45 (white pot with the swirly nail polish design) a stubby e.l.f. eyeliner in Noire, and an emery board (I got this from primark, and it came with its own case) If I'm wearing a certain lip product I'll take that with me too, but otherwise I generally trust my make up to stay on without touch-ups :)

I am well known by my friends as being the prepared one- I always carry a tiny 'first aid' kit with me, in a little pouch I made myself- it includes: plasters, antiseptic wipes, hand sanitiser, a few paracetamol, hay fever tablets (I always forget to take mine...) and safety pins (surprisingly useful for wardrobe malfunctions, splinters etc.)

Plus, I always have some tissues (I'm usually suffering from either allergies, a cold or heavily perfumed shops making my sneeze!) a miniature hair brush and a pencil case which contains a couple of pens and pencils, some random seashells I collected in Fiji last year (no idea why they're still in there...) and a postage stamp (again, no idea why it's there, it just is.)

In a combination of practicality and wishful thinking- I like to carry around both an umbrella and suncream (just in case) Finally, this is a little foldaway shopping bag, which is really handy to use instead of plastic bags from shops- my attempt to make shopping more environmentally friendly.

So what's in your bag? I tag everyone reading this to post their own, especially all my lovely GFC followers :) Let me know if you post one- I'd love to have a nosey!


Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Nail of the Day: Buzz... Buzz... Buzz...

I've seen quite a few Bumblebee-related nail art pictures and tutorials recently, and I decided to give it a go myself, on my sisters nails (I can't believe she sat still enough for me, she's just as wriggly as me unless she's painting her own nails) which I think was easier than trying on my own- I'm bad enough with my right hand, who knows what I'd be like trying to use nail art brushes with my left!

As you can see, they are far from perfect (especially as she wouldn't let me clean up the cuticle mess before I photographed them!) and I think I need a bit more practise with the nail art brushes, but I gave it my best effort and my sister and I think they are adorable anyway :)

I used Revlon Blue Lagoon as a base coat (it serves well as a sky colour- I used it in my cloudy skies nail art too) then with a large dotting tool I made the Bee shape with Barry M Pale Yellow. Next, I used a thin nail art brush to draw the dashes with e.l.f. Black, and (once the yellow dried) the wing, stripe and eye details on the Bee.

Revlon Blue Lagoon, e.l.f. Black and Barry M Pale Yellow.

 How are you with nail art tools? Have any tips for me?


p.s. I've now well and truly broken my self-imposed spending ban, e.l.f. have another 50% off sale (with £30 purchase) so you can expect a haul soon! :)

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Review: No7 Nail Polishes.

I thought it was about time I started my nail polish brand overview posts, as my nail polish storage post went up nearly 2 weeks ago! (I got excited blogging about other things, plus I may have also been putting off the big 'photograph every polish I own' session I needed to do!).

No7 has two types of polishes; the 'Speed Dry' (gold tops), and the 'Stay Perfect' (black tops). Each bottle contains 10ml of polish, and retails for £7 each from Boots (though I've bought every polish with a £5 off No7 voucher that is often available.)

Twinkle, Cherry Tart, Blackberry, Violetta, Betty Blues, Beautifully Black, Night Silver and Matte top coat.
Twinkle is a very pale pink (it doesn't really show up alone, it's best used as a glittery top coat) with lots of glittery shimmery particles; for me it needs a top coat (I cannot stand feeling glitter chunks on my nails!) The rest of the shades look beautiful alone, and all but Violetta require only 2 coats for a perfect coverage :) Blackberry and Violetta are my favorites; Blackberry is a lovely plum colour with a hint of golden shimmer, and Violetta is a bright violet with blueish tones, it does need 3 coats as it's a little streaky, but I think it's worth the effort.

Betty Blues is the only let-down for me, in the bottle it has beautiful blue glitters, but on the nail it appears practically black, with the shimmer only showing up with a camera flash, plus this is the only not-great formula, it's quite gloopy and hard to work with. It's definitely worth having a sneaky test of these shades before purchasing, in case any others have a similar formula (hopefully it's just this one)

Excuse the seriously terrible application... Thumb: Night Silver,
then left to right: Betty Blues, Violetta, Blackberry and Cherry Tart

Overall I really like the formula of these polishes (I personally cannot see a difference in formula between the Stay Perfect and Speed Dry polishes) they have a nice consistency and dry rather fast, as well as lasting well on my nails- (it's worth noting that I am always rough on my nails, and often forget to apply a top coat!) they will probably last about 2 days with no chips, and are bearable for several more days before I have to remove them- which is quite a while for me! However I have mostly dark colours so chips are more noticeable and any wear and tear annoys me more.

The brushes are wide and flat (see below for a face-on and side-on view), which makes application very easy and fast- as the brush covers a large area less strokes are needed. The actual brush/top is also very long, which I find a little easier to manage than short stubby tops, plus the top of the bottles have a nice shaped (sort of thin and oval) which I find nice and easy to hold.

I don't think I'd ever pay full price for a these polishes (I think £7 is a bit much for me, particularly when I can get much cheaper, good quality polishes elsewhere) but with a £5 off voucher (look out for them, they're given out quite frequently) at £2 these are very good value and I definitely recommend them (particularly Blackberry!)

 As always if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask :) Do you like No7 polishes?


Monday, 25 July 2011

Review: Natio Mineral Lip and Cheek Tint.

I was lucky enough to win this in Glamours May Giveaway, and seeing as it's a relatively unknown brand (well I've never heard about it, I assume other haven't either) I thought I'd review it for you :)

Natio is an Australian brand which aims to use only natural ingredients, and create products that 'complement your natural beauty'. They have a full range of skincare, make up and self tanners, available at Debenhams. There are no parabens or preservatives, and is instead packed with Vitamin E, Rosehip and Jojoba extracts; a great product for those who pay particular attention to the ingredients they put on their skin.

I have the Rose shade, which is a deep pinkish red colour (the picture above is true-to-life) with some tiny shimmer particles. The other shade, Blossom, seems much darker than Rose, and I think it would be far too dark for me. Once applied it gives a great, natural colour to my cheeks or lips, and the shimmer is only a little noticeable (which is good for me, I'm not a fan of shimmer on my cheeks.) I really love the effect it gives- like a glow from within, and I think the colour would suit most people, as it is easily buildable by layering the product.

Applied straight from the tube, and blended out.
It has a gel-like formula, which makes it very easy to use- it doesn't set immediately like Benefit stains do, so you have some time to work the product exactly where you want it before it sets. It doesn't fade at all on my cheeks (though it does fade a little on my lips, which I think is normal, what with eating drinking etc.) so this is a very very long lasting product, in fact in some ways it's too long lasting- I've had to really work hard to get it off my cheeks on a couple of occasions! According to Natio's website this product is waterproof too (which I have just tested on the back of my hand- definitely waterproof!) so it would be fantastic for beach/pool wear.

My one issue with this product is the packaging; whilst it is very compact, making it great for travel (especially as you don't need a brush to apply it) the applicator brush, and the fact that there are so many air bubbles inside the tube make squeezing the product out very unpredictable. You can easily end up with too much product being squeezed out as you can't really see when it's coming out- I always squeeze it (very gently) onto the back of my hand, not straight onto my cheeks to prevent clown-cheeks- but with no way to put it back in the tube I think it is quite wasteful.

I really like the product, it is perfect to travel- for its compact packaging and easy application, but because of the packaging flaws I'm not sure if I would repurchase. It retails for £12, (from Debenhams) which is at the higher end of what I would pay for a make up item (I'm a big fan of drugstore products!) and I think I'd be a little annoyed if I bought it and ended up wasting a good portion of the product. That said, I like it a lot more than Benefits PosieTint (and it is 1/2 the price) and because you only need a tiny amount for a good colour on both your cheeks and lips, I think it will last a very long time- perhaps it will prove thoroughly worth £12.

Whats your favorite lip and cheek tint?


Sunday, 24 July 2011

Hazelnut and Chocolate Cupcakes (finally some Hummingbird cake!)

These are possibly the most delicious cupcakes I've ever eaten (and I've eaten a lot of cupcakes) the frosting is absolutely amazing (I wont lie, I would happily eat it with a spoon) and if I had less self-control they would be all gone already...

I always seem to bake at the weekend; partly because I love baking, and partly because I love eating the yummy results of said baking. This weekend I thought it was about time I used a cupcake recipe from  my beloved hummingbird book, and I SO glad I chose this one, it really is awesome, and very easy -definitely give this one a go :)

You will need:

100g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
140 caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
40g butter, room temperature
120 whole milk (I used semi-skimmed
as we never have whole in the house, it worked fine)
1 egg
120g hazelnut chocolate spread (i.e. nutella)

1) Place flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter into a bowl and mix (with a handheld electric whisk) on a slow speed until it's all combined- it looks a LOT like sand at this stage (very weird)

2) Slowly pour in the milk, whilst beating at a medium speed. Continue until everything is well mixed, it looks a lot more normal now :)

3) Add the egg, and beat again.

4) Spoon/pour (it's quite runny) the mixture into cases- I made 11 biggish cupcakes- and bake in a preheated oven at 170c (335f, Gas mark 3) for about 20 minutes (as usual, if a skewer comes out clean, they're cooked) Leave to cool completely on a cooling rack.

5) Hollow a little of the top out- I used a teaspoon- and fill with nutella (I did not measure out 120g, I just used as much as necessary) Eat the little chunks of leftover cake (not an actual step, but I liked it)

Frosting: (the best frosting in the world!) 

250g icing sugar
80g unsalted butter (room temperature) I only had salted butter, it worked out fine!
25ml whole milk (again, I used semi-skimmed)
80g hazelnut chocolate spread.

1) Place icing sugar (sifted) butter and milk in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy (this will take a few minutes)

2) Add the nutella and mix by hand until combined. 

3) Spoon frosting onto your cupcakes, and add hazelnuts for decoration if you wish

4) Eat them!

I LOVE these cupcakes, the cake is moist and soft, and nice and chocolatey without being too rich and heavy- plus the nutella splodge in the middle is lovely :) However, the best bit is the frosting! It's creamy and light, and chocolatey and yummy :) It's my birthday in a couple of weeks and I have no doubt this frosting will be on my cake; I think it will go really well with a coffee cake (my favorite) I am salivating just thinking about it! (and don't worry, I'm sure I'll include a recipe!)

Have you baked anything recently?


Saturday, 23 July 2011

Konad stampers: a how-to, with some tips and tricks :)

I'm by no means an expert at stamping nail art (quite the opposite really) but I've quite a lot of practice recently, and I thought I'd share all the application tips that I've gathered with you all- I posted my most recent NOTD earlier today, and I duly took pictures at every step for you! I hope you find these instructions useful :)

Step 1) Your base coat; I generally choose quite a lightish shade, so that the stamp design contrasts and shows up well, but you can choose anything you like really- make sure it it totally dry before stamping, even if it's dry to the touch, you should wait until you are certain it wont smudge if pressed upon.


2) Get all of your bits and pieces ready and laid out- Blue Peter style, I hate having to fish around for things with half wet nails, it ends in tears! (well, smudged nails...)
You will need:
  • Newspaper- I have almost ruined the coffee table once so now I always lay out newspaper (or something you don't mind getting covered in polish and nail polish remover) over my 'work surface' in case of mess- which is almost inevitable, especially with me (at least I learn from my mistakes!)
  • Your chosen plate- make sure the plate is clean. I find it easiest when the plate is straight, and the image I am using is closest to me (this makes lining it up on the nail easier) I've chosen to use the star design, at the bottom of the plate (m11)

  • Stamper and scraper- also nice and clean. If your stamper doesn't have an arrow to point to the top, you can add a dot with polish like mine- this also helps with alignment :)

  • Your chosen stamping polish- I've never used one of the 'special polishes' and all the brands I've used (mostly e.l.f. and Models Own so far, I keep experimenting with others) seem to stamp well :) I generally choose darker shades, as these show up best- but again, it's up to you!
  • Cotton pads, cotton buds and nail polish remover.

3) Take your polish and splodge (yes, it's a technical term) a little onto the plate over the image, make sure you brush it into all the nooks and crannies. You generally can afford to be a little more generous than you think with this; make sure the design is fully covered.

4) Take your scraper and hold it at somewhere between a 45 to 90 degree angle, then scrape the polish downwards and off the plate- be firm or you'll end up leaving excess polish on the plate. This is where your newspaper will come in handy- notice the drippy mess? It's a good idea to wipe off (don't bother being too thorough) your scraper on your cotton pad, it can get gunky and harder to scrape if it has excess polish on.

5) Take your stamper and align the dot/arrow with the 'top' of the design (the flat edge of the plate is also a useful guide) and press the stamp, using a rolling motion (left to right usually works best for me) into the design. Again, you need to be relatively firm, but be careful not to smudge the design.

At this stage, check the design has transferred properly onto the stamper, if it's missing a section you may have to start again, and if there is extra polish on the sides you can wipe it away with a cotton bud before stamping onto your nail.

6) Take the stamper and align it with your nail- use the dot/arrow again to help find the 'top' (tipping the stamper at an angle so you can see the design helps too) Roll the stamper over your nail once to transfer the pattern. Do not rock it over and over, and be fairly gentle as you can smudge the design quite easily.

7) Once the design is thoroughly dry- not just touch dry (when it can still smudge; considering how thin the layer of polish is, it can take ages until it stops smudging!)- give it a top coat and admire your handiwork :)

Some general tips:

Always clean off your plate and stamper with nail polish remover and a cotton pad between each use. Excess polish in the plate can dry and clog up an image- causing uneven or incomplete stamps, and if polish is left on the stamper it can transfer and smudge onto other nails.

At the end of use- make sure all your things are properly clean- dried on polish is harder to remove.

Don't forget, you can choose to only stamp a small portion of an image if you wish, just put polish on the required section, and make sure you scrape away from the design. And you can stamp each design more than once on a nail- I like to do 1 and a bit stamps on my thumb, otherwise there is a lot of 'dead space' on my nail.

Do you have any tips to add? If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask :)