Friday, 30 September 2011

Review: Burberry Body Eau De Parfum.

There have been quite a few reviews on this perfume, as Burberry did a huge ad campaign (with the beautiful Rosie Huntingdon-Whitely as their poster-girl) and gave away 1000s of free samples via their facebook page (they may still  be available- it's worth a look!) So a few weeks ago I received a 4.5 ml sample of Burberry Body in the post- in a lovely tiny sized version of the bottle (I was very impressed considering it's a free sample) and I am pleasantly surprised at the scent.

The packaging of this perfume is rather lovely- the bullet shaped bottle; very simple with a rose gold lid and lettering. Even the perfume itself is an understated nude shade.

From what I heard from others before I got this, I wasn't sure if I would like it or not- as it is definitely a more sweet, floral and fruity fragrance than I usually go for- but actually, I do rather love it.

There are freesia and peach top notes: the peach in particular is quite strong, and gives a nice fruity scent. I really like the peach, and it makes a change from the more common citrus notes. The middle notes are rose and iris, which is where the floral edge comes from. The base notes are probably all familiar if you have read my previous perfume reviews (my two favorites especially: Moschino Couture! and Flora by Gucci) and include sandalwood, musk, vanilla and amber.

I have to say that whilst it is fruity, it also manages to not be excessively sweet (which I dislike, and it doesn't suit me) is one that I like. On my skin the peach and (unsurprisingly) the base notes are what stand out, and the perfume mellows into a soft fruity fragrance quite quickly- the scent reminds me a little of spiced, cooked peaches. This perfume is actually the perfect scent for autumn, it's a lovely balance of the fruity and floral, and the deeper more sensual scents.

If you can get your hands on a sample I definitely recommend it; though the full size bottles start at £45 for 35ml- on the more expensive size for a perfume. Perhaps one for you Christmas list?

Did you get a sample of Burberry Body? What do you think?


Thursday, 29 September 2011

52 week nail challenge!!!

I came across the 31 day nail challenge a few days ago (on this blog) but much as I love the idea, I know my nails (and my time and patience) can't take being re-painted every day to take part. Instead I've come up with 52 different themes and I plan to do one each week. There's a really awesome nail art community on a website called Reddit- the RedditLaqueristas group, and I've posted the list on there- so if you'd like to join in there will be a little box at the top of that page with the most recent 52 week challenge theme each week, where lots of people (hopefully) will be posting their take on the theme- I'd love to see all your nail art there too :)

I'll be posting all my nail art looks here on my blog, so you'll get to see mine each week anyway :) The day I post it will probably vary depending on when I get time to paint my nails (and I'll probably do more than one NOTD post per week as I usually do)

Here are the themes!

week no. / date / theme:

03-Oct  pink
2 10-Oct  inspired by colour
3 17-Oct  gradient
4 24-Oct  Halloween
5 31-Oct  metallic
6 07-Nov nudes/browns
7 14-Nov inspired by a tutorial
8 21-Nov taping
9 28-Nov rainbow
10 05-Dec winter
11 12-Dec violet
12 19-Dec Christmas
13  26-Dec new years
14 02-Jan    black and white
1509-Jan    inspired by song
16 16-Jan    splatter
17 23-Jan    red
18 30-Jan    inspired by movie/TV
19 06-Feb   polka dot
20 13-Feb   valentines day
21 20-Feb   green
22 27-Feb   inspired by flag
23 06-Mar spring
24 13-Mar kawaii
25 20-Mar inspired by pattern
26 27-Mar pastel
27 03-Apr Easter
28 10-Apr yellow
29 17-Apr inspired by fashion
30 24-Apr galaxies
31 01-May neon/bright
32 08-May flowers
33 15-May orange
34 22-May half moon
35 29-May inspired by food
36 05-Jun  summer
37 12-Jun  delicate print
38 19-Jun  inspired by technology
39 26-Jun  stripe
40 03-Jul  glitter
41 10-Jul  tribal
42 17-Jul  inspired by book
43 24-Jul  water marble
44 31-Jul  blue
45 07-Aug french manicure
46 14-Aug inspired by artwork
47 21-Aug animal print
48 28-Aug matte
49 04-Sep autumn
50 11-Sep newspaper
51 18-Sep inspired by supernatural/sci-fi
52 25-Sep grey

I am SOOOO excited about this, not only will it solve my terminal indecisiveness (I can never decide what to do with my nails) but it will also challenge me to do designs that I haven't yet tried, and get better at techniques I can already (sort of) manage.

What do you think of the challenge? Will be joining in?


p.s. Did I mention how ridiculously EXCITED I am about this? YAY!!! :)

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Nail of the Day: A Greenish Medley.

I know I bought two lovely new polishes yesterday, and I am really excited about trying them both, but I've also wanted to put my new base coat to the test, and do some nail art again.

I decided that I'd use two other new polishes: Jade Stone and Top Turquoise (which I received earlier this month) and because I couldn't decide which design I wanted, I did 5 different ones!

I used my new base coat- Sally Hansen Double Duty (which so far I really like, my nail polish did feel a lot smoother when I applied it, but we'll see if it makes a difference to the longevity of my polish- which is really what I want it for) and two coats of Jade Stone.

On my thumb I attempted taping for the first time, and I have to say I found it a lot easier than I thought. I made sure my tape was very de-stickied and it worked quite well for me, I think I'll be doing it again sometime :)

My index finger was dotted with a large dotting tool- I tried to space the dots out evenly and it mostly worked. I did really tiny dots on my little finger too- using my smallest dotting tool.

I decided that nail art wasn't complete without some Konad- and I added the grid pattern from the m57 on my middle finger, followed by the flower from the same plate. Top Turquoise wasn't the best for stamping over Jade Stone- it didn't turn out too bright, but I think the colours go well together, and black stamping wouldn't work as well for this design.

I tried striping for the first time on my ring finger, and it turned out OK, I'm not particularly good at straight lines... But I will only get better with practise!

What are you favorite nail art techniques?


p.s. You can see my nail art tools, including my Konad plates in this post

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

A little nail polish haul :)

As you may know if you ready my Plea for help/NOTD post last week, I was on the look out for a good base coat for my nails- mainly because my nails are quite weak and peel a lot, which makes my polish chip off too easily for my liking. Thank you to Melanie and Enigma for your suggestions (check out their blogs, they're awesome) I had to rule out OPI and Zoya as they are too expensive/ not easy to get hold of, and the Models Own 3-in-1 base coat sounds good, but as I've mentioned before I'm really not a fan of their packaging (the lids are just too big!)

Instead I found myself searching the aisles at Boots, and came across the Sally Hansen Double Duty strengthening base and top coat- seeing as I like the Insta-Dri topcoat so well, I thought I'd give it a try :) At £4.95 it's very reasonable, especially considering Sally Hansen is usually at the higher price range of 'drugstore' polishes- I hope it works well for me (I'll let you know!)

And of course, whilst I was in Boots, and nail polish is on 3 for 2... I couldn't resist getting a 17 Magnetized polish (£5.99). I eventually decided on the blue shade; it has a really pretty purplish duo chrome in the bottle :) Another 17 polish caught my eye, one of the new ones from the Autumn collection- Revenge (£2.99) is a lovely mushroomish shade with a bright pink duo chrome. It's quite similar to George's Movie Star polish, but Movie Star is a darker brown and has a purple/ blueish duo chrome.

For some reason my camera just didn't pick up
the lovely colour of Revenge, it's showing the pink
duo chrome but not the brownish base colour :(

I had a lot of fun testing out the magnetized polish- I think it might take another couple of tries to get the hang of it properly (I kept getting the magnet too close and getting polish all over it) but so far I really like the effect. The only slight problem is that the texture of the polish is horrible (though I'm super-fussy about textures) it feels really odd. Nothing a good top coat can't solve thankfully!

Have you got any of the magnetic polishes? What do you think of the trend?


Monday, 26 September 2011

Review: Neutrogena Visibly Clear 2-in-1 Wash/Mask

I thought it was about time for another face mask review (my 3-minute cucumber clay mask review was quite a while ago now) and seeing as I used this mask last night- I really love spending Sunday evenings with a face mask and a film- now is the perfect time!

I've had the mask for quite a while now (I think they've actually changed the packaging a bit since I bought mine) and it's available from Boots (and many other stores) for £3.99 (it's on the Neutrogena buy one, get one 1/2 price at the moment too) for 150ml.

I got it thinking it might be nice as a wash too- but I am so devoted to the Neutrogena daily scrub (and addicted to the little micro-beads it has) - I didn't really like it as a wash. As a mask, however, I love it! I has a slight medicated scent- but it really isn't noticeable,  and is quite a thin white cream (much more like a thick moisturiser than a clay mask)

Although the mask does dry and crackle a little- like a traditional clay mask (after approximately 5 minutes- it's nice and fast!) it's a lot more gentle and it doesn't feel at all drying, or like it's sucking out the oils in my skin. My skin really feels thoroughly clean, including my pores (which are often a bit disgusting to be honest) and any blemishes or irritated patches I have actually seem to be calmed down by the mask.

I highly recommend this mask for people with sensitive skin- not only does it help to provide a deep clean, but it is very gentle, and actually helps calm irritation (at least for me it does); rather impressive for £3.99!


Sunday, 25 September 2011

Tag: Get your freak on- 15 weird questions!

I've seen this tag going around a lot recently, most recently by Lauren today. I thought it looked like fun!

1) What's a nickname only your family calls you?

My sister calls me wheezey all the time (she had a little trouble saying Louise when she was little, and said wheeze instead- it was very cute, and the name kinda stuck) but some of my friends call me that too.

2) What's a weird habit of yours?

Oh dear, I have rather a lot. I get very OCD about certain things- this is a small sample: I have to wash in the same order every time I shower, my books, Cd's and DVDs are stored alphabetically (and if someone messes it up, I get get anxious); I before I use the toilet I have to lift the lid and seat (to check for lurking spiders, obviously...) everything has a specific place to live, and if it gets moved I absolutely have to put it back. I am also a bit of a clean freak, and if I need to de-stress, I will clean the kitchen.

3) Do you have any weird phobias?

Well to me, all of my phobias are perfectly rational... but I am terrified of: spiders, heights (I felt dizzy and nearly threw up just watching someone bungee jump) deep water (or any water where I can't see the bottom)  and boats (although spending 3 weeks in Fiji kinda cured me- I had no choice but to deal with boats!)

4) What's a song you secretly LOVE to blast and belt out when you're alone?

Pretty much any song from any musical, my current favorite is Phantom (I sang along whilst I was making cranberry and white chocolate cookies yesterday)

5) What's one of your biggest pet peeves?

People who are unnecessarily rude, messiness, spitting (eww), cracking knuckles (I really hate that sound), poor grammar and willful ignorance.

6) What's one of your nervous habits?

I can't sit still (though that's not necessarily a nervous thing) and I usually get the giggles.

7) What side of the bed do you sleep on?

The left (as you look at it) but as I have a double bed to myself, I often end up somewhere in the middle.

8) What was your first stuffed animal, and it's name?

I'm not sure about stuffed animal, but I have a doll called Charlie (named after my mums friends newborn son, when I was first able to talk) that I've had since I was about 6 months old. I took her everywhere with me until I was about 7, and I only stopped taking her on holiday with me when I was about 13. She still sleeps in my bed, despite having cracked hands and both eyes missing :)

9) What's drink you ALWAYS order at Starbucks?

I prefer Cafe Nero, but I love the Christmas drinks at Starbucks- when I was travelling last year- their gingerbread latte was what got me finally excited about Christmas (about 6 days before the day!)

10) What's the beauty rule that you preach but never ACTUALLY practise?

I don't think there is anything actually... I do do some naughty things (like picking at spots) but I know it would be totally hypocritical to preach about them!

11) Which way do you face in the shower? 

When I'm washing I face away from the water, then I turn around to face it when I shampoo my hair, then turn again to rinse off my hair and wash my face.

12) Do you have any 'weird' body skills?

I'm quite flexible: I can get my leg behind my head and I can very nearly do the splits (It is my lifelong goal to actually do it one day!!!)

13) What's your favorite comfort food/ food that's bad for you that you love to eat anyway?

Chocolate. There is nothing chocolate cannot cure.

14) What's a phrase or exclamation that you always say?

Oh my god, cool, 'I'm so excited' comes up quite a lot too- I'm an excitable person!

15) Time to sleep- what are you ACTUALLY wearing?

In the summer I usually end up with an odd combination of clothes on... I get really cold feet (terrible circulation) and I'm quite prone to heat rash on my legs- so I often have shorts and a vest top with thick socks on. In the winter I like to bundle up a lot - so it's long thick PJ's and thick socks, along with a collection of blankets. It may not look pretty but I can't sleep unless I'm toasty :)

I hope found that amusing, it's certainly an interesting insight into my oddities...

I tag everyone reading to complete this tag too! :)


Saturday, 24 September 2011

White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies :)

I've adapted this recipe from a lovely book called The Children's Step-by-Step Cookbook (it even has those little 'oven glove' symbols to tell you when you need adult supervision), so I think it's safe to say this is a really easy recipe; suitable for absolute beginners.

Despite it's simplicity, it yields amazing results (lovely chewey cookies-yum!) and I often have to double the recipe to ensure the cookies actually last longer than a couple of days!

You will need:

70g caster sugar
70g soft brown sugar
115g butter (room temperature)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
140g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
175g dry ingredients (i.e. chocolate chips and cranberries)

I really like the white chocolate chips (100g) and dried cranberries (75g) that I used, but you can add pretty much any other dry ingredient you like: chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit, m&ms etc- as long as the weight is still approxmately 175g, as this keeps the ratio of cookie to filling right.

1) Place the butter and sugars in a bowl, and beat until smooth and creamy. I opt for the spoon and elbow-grease method with this recipe- the butter and sugar doesn't need air whipped into it like with a cake recipe.

2) Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat again.

3) Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into the bowl, then mix again until well combined. You don't have to worry about carefully folding it in- again there's no air to be trapped inside.

4) Add your other dry ingredients (chocolate chips and cranberries, or whatever else you fancy) and mix them in so they are evenly distributed.

5) Spoon the mixture onto baking trays covered in baking paper (these cookies are quite soft, so I reccommend baking paper over greased trays)  The cookies will spread A LOT when cooking, so be sure to leave large gaps.

Even these ones are too close...

6) Bake at 190C/375F/GM5 for approximately 10-15 minutes, until they are an even golden brown colour (with perhaps a teeny hint of crispyness around the edges) be carefull as they are rather time-sensitive: there's about a 3 minute window between not-quite-cooked and burnt!

See! My cookies resemble dividing cells...

Leave them to cool on the baking paper (I find that removing them when still warm generally ends up with a mess!) They will harden up quite a bit when cooled- so don't worry about undercooking them in the oven, the chances are they'll turn out nicely. Then enjoy with a cold glass of milk :)

Three guesses what I'll be trying not to eat all evening!


Friday, 23 September 2011

Nail of the Day- Paint Splatter Nails!!!

I've been thinking about doing this nail art look for a while, but until recently (when I received Snow White in my recent Models Own haul) I couldn't really try it. I've seen it all over the place, and I'm guessing you have too!- but the tutorial I found most helpful is from cutepolish.

I started with a base coat of Models Own Snow white. I am so impressed with this polish- white seems to be a hard colour to get right, but this polish is great- it was opaque in 2 or 3 coats (depending on my painting skills!) and is easy to work with (unlike some white I've tried, which are gloopy and thick)

Snow White

Then, using a larger dotting tool I placed a blob of polish onto the nail, then used a smaller dotting tool to drag the colour around into a splatter shape, and added little dots of polish to make it look more splattered. I topped off each with a coat of Sally Hansen Insta-Dri- this helped to smooth out the bumps of thick polish, as well as making it last longer.

I used quite a few colours for splattering... Most of the tutorials and picture I've seen with the splatter effect have only used a few colours, but I was feeling rather colourful today so I went a little crazy :)

Left Side, top-bottom: Models Own Snow White and Beth's Blue, e.l.f. Light Red,
Models Own Grey Day and Barry M Fuchsia.
Right Side, top-bottom: e.l.f. Teal Blue, Barry M Pale Yellow, Models Own Top Turquoise,
Models Own Pro Clementine and XOX Purple

My left hand (predictably) was a lot easier to do than my right, so I think my left hand turned out much better; and I think it would be much better to do this on someone else (lets home my sister is a willing victim sometime soon!) but I like the results from both hands anyway.

Left Hand:

Right Hand:

Have you ever tried the paint splatter effect? I think you should, I love it! :)


Thursday, 22 September 2011

Review: Neutrogena Visibly Clear Blackhead Eliminating Daily Scrub.

I have mentioned this product (quite a while ago) in a Skincare Favourites post, but I really think it deserves it's own post- I've been using it on and off for around 2-3 years now, and I just love it; my finicky skin seems to love and it's reasonably priced too- it ticks all the boxes :)

About 4 weeks ago I started to use a new cleanser (which happened to be Asda Skin System Vitamin E face wash, which I thought I'd like because I really like the moisturiser from that range) and my skin did not like it at all. At first I thought it was just because my skin doesn't appreciate change, but last week I got a full-on break out of spots on my chin (which isn't too unusual, as I often get hormonal spots on my chin) and my forehead- where I never usually get spots or even blackheads- plus severely dry eyelids, and I decided enough was enough. I gave up on that face wash (and donated it to my sister, who has much less sensitive skin than I do) and purchased 2 Neutrogena daily scrubs (it costs £3.89, but they are buy one, get one 1/2 price at Boots) instead.

The daily scrub has a cream formulation, and is free from sodium laureth sulphate (the ingredient which cases foaming) which I think is what irritates my skin with other facial cleansers- after doing some further research it appears that SLES can be an irritant to sensitive skin, and I shall now be avoiding it like the plague!

I quite like the smell of this product, it's smells slightly medicated- which I like- but if you don't like it I don't think it would be a problem as it's not a strong smell at all. The packaging is (as I've mentioned before) not something that really bothers me, but I like that it comes in a squeezey tube with flip-top cap; much more practical than screw tops, and the small hole means you can easily control how much product to use. Because the scrub is so thick quite a lot can get stuck in the tube, so I recommend snipping off the top like this once you get to the end of a tube (you can often get lots more product out.)

I use it morning and night- taking a small blob and massaging onto wet skin. There are no foaming ingredients so the scrub doesn't foam up at all when I use it- that took a little while to get used to as I've spent most of my life believing that bubbles = clean. It feels lovely on my skin; it has the texture of a very thick moisturiser and it's filled with little exfoliating beads. The spherical orange micro-beads come in various sizes, and although they definitely do their job of cleansing deep into my pores and providing gentle exfoliation, they are definitely not too harsh on my skin.

After just 2 days of using this, my skin has felt much much better; the spots are disappearing (and there are definitely no new ones forming) and I have fewer blackheads around my nose. Plus the texture of my skin feels so much smoother- and I hadn't even noticed that was a problem! My skin is also a lot less dry and my eyelids have returned to normal (thank goodness- I can wear eye-make up without worrying!) as the gentle formula doesn't strip away the natural oils in my skin.

I cannot recommend this enough- especially for people with dry and sensitive skin like mine. I really does deliver on it's claims to eliminate and prevent blackheads too. My sister (who has typical teenage oily skin) also really likes it (though she prefers the pink grapefruit version) and it takes care of her spot-prone skin, so I think this scrub is suitable for all skin types.

What is your favorite cleanser? Have you tried Neutrogena products?


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Nail of the Day- Pink & Blue Zebra! Plus nail polish base coats- help please?

I've been wondering recently about nail polish base coats. My polish seems to last OK on it's own- and better with a top coat (I love Sally Hansen Insta-Dri) but with my terrible nails- which are usually peeling and brittle and generally weak- I think a base coat might make it last even better. So could you help? Do you use a base coat, and do you think it makes a difference? Which one do you use?

Any advice would be much appreciated, I stopped by my local Boots today and was totally overwhelmed at the amount of choice, and I decided that I couldn't buy anything without some research!

And now onto the NOTD; my sister did a really lovely manicure today, she loves the animal print stamper (Konad m57), as you may have noticed most of her NOTD pictures include either the cheetah or zebra print- and I persuaded her to try out a pink and blue combination, using Models Own Pastel Pink and Feeling Blue.

Sorry the pictures aren't that good, they were taken in the evening (damn autumn making it dark so early) and in the kitchen (you probably recognise the tablecloth from my recipe posts!) which doesn't have the best light. Hopefully you can get the idea though :)

Again, any help with base coats will be much appreciated :)


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

10 reasons to love autumn :)

After about a week of full-on rubbishy autumn weather, I've decided to try and focus on some better aspects of the season in an attempt to make me less unhappy about the cold weather, constant rain and depressing dark nights we have to look forward to until next March...

1) Cold weather is the perfect excuse to stay at home, drink Baileys and watch rom-coms (one of my favorite past-times)- a match made in heaven :)

2) Snuggling up on the sofa with a book (another lovely past-time for rainy days) is at least 83% better when accompanied by a lovely blanket. My favorite is one my Grandma crocheted for me, it's a giant (much bigger than my double bed) square in lots of different colours. It's SO cosy :)

3) A new season of make up to oggle over! I've already posted about the new products I'd like to try, but I imagine that even more collections will come out in the run-up to Christmas, along with lovely gift sets and limited edition items.

4) Colder weather means goodbye to 'summer salads' and hello to yummy soup (I'll probably be posting a few recipes soon, I love making soup) and warming deserts. Diets can start in January...

5)  The TV schedule gets SO much better. After weeks of nothing to watch, Downton Abbey, How I Met Your Mother, Greys Anatomy and Castle are all back this week and there's probably a lot more to come too; yay!

6) I'm a massive fan of scented candles, but I always feel a bit silly lighting them during the (supposedly warmer) summer months, so I make the most of the dark nights and make my bedroom smell lovely. I love Ikea tea lights- I have vanilla, apple & cinnamon, desert (which smell like cheesecake, they're amazing!) and strawberry scented ones, and they are only £1.69 for 36! And I also have quite a few Ikea candle holders (also super-cheap and very pretty)


7) Boots! (as in the shoes, not the shop- though I clearly love that too!) I have terrible circulation which makes my hands and feet cold (even in the summer, it's ridiculous) so I jump at any excuse to keep my feet toasty warm inside thick socks and boots- I have two pairs of ankle boots- a grey flat pair, and a black pair with a little heel- and thanks to my slim feet, there is enough space for me to wear two pairs of socks :)

8) Call me crazy, but to me autumn smells really nice- perhaps it's because I can finally smell after a summer of battling with hay fever, but there is something about the fresh smell of fallen leaves that I love :) They're pretty too, I have an enormous pear tree at the end of my garden, and it covers the lawn in a lovely layer of orange leaves every year.

9) Hot chocolate. To be honest I could drink this all year round, but like candles, I feel a bit silly drinking it in the summer, and I think it tastes better when you're cold! I like cinnamon and nutmeg in my hot chocolate with some squirty cream from a can, and chocolate sprinkles on top- heaven!

10) Christmas is coming! Despite being 23, I still get as excited about Christmas as I did years ago. I love the songs, the decorations, gift buying, the TV Christmas specials (especially Doctor Who) the food (Xmas pudding is the absolute highlight of my year!) and everything about it. Now I'm getting excited just thinking about it! Plus I get to watch Love Actually without feeling guilty that I'm watching a Christmas film in July!

Last year I missed out on a lot of the exciting build-up to Christmas, as I was travelling, and didn't return home until 3pm on Christmas Eve- I found it hard to get in a Christmassy mood when I was in New Zealand with lovely weather, so this year I'll probably be even more excited than usual!

I wish my house had an open fire!

I tag all of you to think of your reasons to love autumn! :)


Monday, 19 September 2011

Review: Chanel No5 Eau de Parfum.

Chanel No5 is a little bit of a cult classic, it was launched in 1921 and has been a best-seller since (supposedly there is one bottle sold every 30 seconds). Ask anyone to think about a perfume and I bet a little image of the Chanel No5 bottle pops into their head.

It was the first perfume to be made with synthetic scents (aldehydes) which along with Jasmine made for a very expensive perfume, and still is; 50ml retails for between £50-£70. I didn't purchase this one, my dad bought it for my mum and I inherited it from her I don't think it's a perfume I would ever pick out for myself.

Like a lot of perfumes, Chanel has some truly beautiful adverts and I love these two as much as I love the Flora by Gucci advertisements- Nicole Kidman and Audry Tautou are stunning and I love that a whole love story is told in just 2 minutes. I think I like adverts a bit too much, it's silly really.

On paper this perfume should be one that I really love: with base notes including sandalwood, vanilla, musk and patchouli- all notes found in perfumes I love (Moschino Couture! and Flora by Gucci), but I think the overwhelming amount of floral notes in the top and middle notes puts me off a little. It has floral (ylang-ylang and neroli) and citrus (lemon and bergamot) top notes, as well as synthetic aldehydes (which can be floral, fruity or citrusy) as well as floral middle notes (including rose, lily-of-the-valley, iris and jasmine)

On my skin this scent becomes (unsurprisingly) less overtly floral and more of a musky, spicy scent- perhaps almost cinnamony- with the jasmine and ylang-ylang remaining prominent, but it doesn't seem to be a very strong perfume, and fades to a nice soft scent within about 1/2 an hour- the scent does last for a long time after that though (probably about 10 hours). For me this is more of  a daytime scent, but I can imagine it might smell a lot more strongly floral on other people- so I can see how it would be very suitable for evening too.

I do like the scent, but I don't love it as much as I thought I would- as it's such an iconic and classic perfume I thought it must be a truly amazingly scent, but to me it's not all that special. Maybe it is simply too hyped up, and I was expecting too much? Or perhaps I am just not classy enough to enjoy it?!

What do you think of Chanel No5? Am I the only person in the world who doesn't completely adore it?


Sunday, 18 September 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes :)

Red Velvet Cupcakes are possibly my all-time-favorite cake ever (even better than coffee flavour!) and I've been looking for an excuse to try out my recipe again. I had no excuse today, but I felt like making them anyway; they are delicious and beautiful and I love cake.

I actually went the hummingbird bakery a while ago (I had a weekend with friends in London) and after much deliberation I decided to try a red velvet cupcake. Needless to say it was absolutely amazing, and surprisingly similar to the ones I make at home- although I use a hummingbird recipe, it's not uncommon for places to use an altered recipe so that the shop-bought version is tastier.

As I was about halfway through making them today (and taking photographs like a good blogger) I felt some deja-vu, and realised that I've actually blogged about red velvet cupcakes before, for a guest post on the lovely Leannes blog (Do Not Refreeze) and somehow I completely forgot to mention it on my blog... Anyway, since it was so long ago, I decided I may as well post the recipe on my blog.

You will need:

60 g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
150 g caster sugar
1 egg
10 g cocoa powder
20 ml red food colouring
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
120 ml buttermilk (or alternative, see step 1)
150 g plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1½ teaspoons white wine vinegar

1) Make your ‘buttermilk’ milk/lemon mixture if you’re not using real buttermilk: Take 5ml lemon juice and 125ml milk; mix them together in a bowl and leave to stand for 5 minutes, it will curdle and look/smell gross but don’t panic, it’s supposed to. You can use it in place of buttermilk for any recipe.

2)Put the butter and sugar in a bowl, then mix together (I use a hand-held whisk, but you can probably use a spoon, it’ll just take longer) on medium speed, until it’s fluffy. Add the egg to your mixture, and beat on a high speed until evenly mixed.

3) In a separate bowl, mix the cocoa power, red food colouring and vanilla extract to makes a thick paste (a lovely deep red colour, but it will make the washing up look like a crime scene!)

4) Add the cocoa paste to the butter mixture and whisk thoroughly.

5)Then turn your whisk to its slowest speed, and gradually add ½ of the buttermilk (or the milk/lemon juice mixture, which is what I always use- buttermilk is expensive!) followed by ½ of the flour. Repeat until all the buttermilk and flour have been added then beat on a high speed until your mixture is smooth.

6) Add the salt, bicarbonate of soda and white wine vinegar (I like this step- it gets all fizzy! though it does smell foul...) Mix on a low speed until it’s all combined, then give it one last mix on high speed for about 2 minutes. 

7) Spoon into cases, about 2/3 of the way full (this usually makes 10-12 cupcakes) and bake in a preheated oven at 170°C /325°F/Gas mark 3 for 20- 25 minutes- until light and springy and cooked all the way through.

Frosting time!

300g icing sugar (sifted)
50g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
125g cream cheese

1) Beat the icing sugar and butter at a very low speed (otherwise you’ll get icing sugar all over you kitchen, I don’t think I’ll admit how many times I’ve managed to do that) until it’s well combined.
2 )Add the cream cheese and beat until evenly mixed. Then beat on a high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy (probably about 3-5 minutes, your arm will ache but it is SO worth it!) but be careful not to overbeat- it’ll get a bit too runny like mine L

3) Spooning the frosting on is usually the easiest way, I think these cakes are so yummy they don't need to look particularly pretty! :)

As usual, I hope you enjoy the recipe, and I'd love to hear if you make them :)