Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Five Things I'm Looking Forward This Autumn/Winter

As you probably already know I love Autumn, literally everything about Autumn. I love watching the leaves change colour, love how the weather cools down, how it's acceptable to drink numerous cups of tea and hot chocolate. Autumn is my absolute favourite time of the year. And like every year I have a few thing coming up through the upcoming months that I'm beyond exciting for.

The first of these that I'm beyond excited for is one that I never thought I'd actually get to see, like ever. And that's Nightmare Before Christmas Live. I've seen so many videos of this when it's on in the US but never thought it would visit the UK and fufill what would be a childhood dream if I'd known this exsisted when I was little. If you haven't already worked it out, I'm a huge fan of Nightmare Before Christmas with one of my earliest memories being me sat in front of the TV when I was no older than three watching it on a continous loop until my mum hid the video from me. So getting to see the actors and actresses sing and act along to the film in person is a dream come true. I've had my outfit planned since before I even ordered the tickets and I've even started putting some money away incase there is merchandise when we get there. Decemeber 5th can't come quick enough.

The next thing I'm looking forward to this Autumn/Winter is the decorating in the build up to both Halloween and Christmas. I'm a sucker for seasonal decorations and can easily buy a ton of ones that I don't necessarily need or have room for. It's become a thing amongst me and my mates about how I'm going to outdo myself each year and apart from last year I can safely say I've outdone myself each year. This year I was going to try and rein it in but I quickly decided fuck it, you do you boo. So when the madness at work ends, I'm hauling my ass down to the likes of Homesense and Hobbycraft and I'm stocking up on all things spooky with maybe a couple of Christmas bits thrown in.

Now this next one I'm sure a lot of you will think I've ruined the surprise but me and Jasmin actually planned this last week when we had a catch up. Last year she kindly took me to the Harry Potter tour for my birthday. We went towards the end of Novemeber when they had all their Christmas decorations up and I was blown away by it all. And this year I was struggling to think of something I wanted to do. Until I saw an advert for Halloween at the Harry Potter Studio Tour. I put it towards Jasmin as a fun and kind of spooky thing to do at Halloween and she asked me if I wanted to do it for my birthday as an early birthday present. And how was I to refuse. And whilst we're not going on actual Halloween, we're still going when they're showing the Halloween decorations so I'm buzzing and plan on buying even more of the gift shop this time round. It also helps me forget that I'm slowly edging my way closer to thirty than twenty.

Autumnal dressing is one of my favourite parts of the season change. We can say goodbye to the barely there vests, denim shorts and flip flops and say hello to the chunky jumpers and cute boots. I've already started picking up a few pieces for my autumnal wardrobe and they're not the usual oversized jumpers that I usually pick up. Sure I'll buy a couple if they catch my eye but this year I've extended my style to trying check shirts that will pair well with my trusty black skinny jeans and newly acquired Dr Martens. I just love how easy it is to layer up an outfit that is not only comfy and cosy but is still cute and not too over the top. And now is the perfect time to snap up those go to pieces for the season which I'll be doing once I'm not doing as many hours at work.

Now I know this makes me sound extremely British but I am extremely British and I love a good cuppa. And now the weather has started to turn and cool down, I'm drinking cuppa's by the bucket load. It's my last thing I'm looking forward to doing as the season turns. I love a good hot drink and now it's becoming acceptable to have a hot drink or three throughout the day, I'll be stocking up on tea bags, coffee and hot chocolate so I can have a nice hot drink when I get home from work and curl up in my cosy pjs.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn

It's that time of the year again! The time of year that sets my soul on fire and makes me the best version of me. Yes it's time to say goodbye to Summer and say Hello to Autumn. Now I know the weather doesn't reflect the season and that officially Autumn doesn't start until the 23rd of this month but to me Autumn starts at the beginning of the month when the likes of Bake Off and Strictly return to our screens.

Now I know a lot of people are sad to see Summer go but I am definitely not one of them. I love to see the back of Summer with it's expectations of being Beach Ready, with the shops filled with nothing but minscule crop tops and denim shorts that show more ass cheek than they cover. And if you've got the figure and the confidence to wear that throughout the Summer then good for you, I applaud you but as someone who has a little more meat on her bones, I find it ridiculously frustrating. Buying even the simplest of items such as a basic t-shirt becomes ten times harder as everything is cropped, has some ridiculous kind of neckline or a cheesy slogan that only applies to a handful of people. Autumn however it becomes jumpers galore and I'm in my element. My wardrobe grows at a rapid rate and I love how something simple such as a jumper paired with boots and jeans can look put together whilst still looking comfy and casual. This year I've invested in some Dr Martens and I'm dying to wear them with the plethora of outfits I've planned out in my head.

I'm also someone who's very happy to say goodbye to those ridiculously hot temperatures we've faced for the last two summers. I don't do very well in the heat and find when it's extremely hot, I become very lethargic and sleepy but struggle to sleep at night which leads to me being grumpy and snappy for no reason. Whereas in the Autumn I'm a happier person, I love that I can curl up in a hoodie and sweats and not being sweating my balls off and when it finally drops that last few celsius I can sleep in said hoodie with as many duvets and blankets as possible. It also means that dinner becomes a plethora of options including things such as stews, pies and the good old Sunday roast. The Summer months don't equate to much more than salad after salad and the occasional take away whenever someone can't be bothered to cook.

And the final reason I'm happy to say goodbye to Summer is because my productivity levels soar and I feel like I'm at my creative best. I don't know if it's because I know both Halloween and Christmas are waiting for me during these last few months of the year but I'm always suddenly full of ideas. It happens every year and whilst a lot of the time this ideas never come to fruition, I always have good intentions in mind. This year is a good example of that. I have all my recipes and posts planned out for the rest of the year and I've even managed to start my Halloween recipes so I'm not rushing them in October. Sure it's been a bit lacking post wise here lately but after Thursday when my training for my promotion is all over and done with, I'm hoping to be back and fingers crossed better than ever. I've had so many good ideas that I want to share with you all and I want to do it when I've got the time to focus on them completely instead of splitting my time between two things, one of which is causing me more stress and anxiety than necessary. But as I said after Thursday that'll all be done with and I'm then going to have more time to focus on sharing what I've been working on with you all.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

What I Read: August

Wow, August felt like it was never going to end. I started off the reading month really strong and had flown through four books by the middle of the month. And then I took a few days off to wait for my copy of The Wicked King to arrive and then I lost my reading mojo. I really wanted to complete The Wicked King by the end of August but for some reason I had no desire to binge read it like I had done with the other books I've read this month. 
The first book I read in August was A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro. This is a modern reimagination of Holmes and Watson with a genderbent Holmes. The first of four books follows Holmes and Watson as they meet and team up to solve the mystery of multiple deaths and attacks on their school campus. I flew through this book and am eager to pick up the next in the series. This doesn't just give you a new perspective on Holmes and Watson but it also deals with a lot of very real life problems that people suffer with day to day. However it doesn't make this a heavy read and there is in fact a lot of lighthearted moments that also represent the younger generations of this day and age. This is extremely hard to get ahold of in the UK so if you want to read this, check out Amazon, they have the entire series. I already have the next book in my Amazon basket. 

The next book I read in August was City Of Ashes by Cassandra Clare. This is the second book in the Mortal Instruments Series and follows Clary Fray as she continues her journey in the Shadowhunter world. Following on from City Of Bones, City Of Ashes follows as Clary, Alec, Jace and Izzy as they work to keep the remaining Mortal Instruments out of Valentine's hands. Clary also has to deal with the bomb Valentine dropped on her in the first book whilst waiting for her mum to come out of her self induced magical coma. Throw in some general teenage angst and you have me hooked. There is literally no other way to talk about this book without spoiling both books and ruining the series for anyone who hasn't read it. This I binged as part of my Mortal Instruments reread but I'm currently putting off picking up City Of Glass as I know the hurt that it's going to bring me. If you haven't read the Mortal Insturments Series, I highly recommend checking it out as well as it's movie adaptation which whilst trashy has the most perfectly cast cast ever. 
The penultimate book I read in August was The Cruel Prince By Holly Black. I have had this in my TBR pile since the beginning of the year but was holding out until this month to read it so I didn't forget too much for when The Wicked King comes out. The Cruel Prince follows Jude Duarte and her twin sister Taryn who were stolen from the mortal world by high powered fey called Madoc when they were children. Having grown up in Fey, it's very obvious they don't fit in and when Jude catches the attention of Prince Cardon, things get very messy very quickly. I always believed the Cassandra Clare was the best when it came to writing the world of Fey but Holly Black just takes it to another level. The amount of detail she provides makes it so easy to picture this picturesque yet somewhat horrific land to live in. I enjoyed this book and did eagerly pick up The Wicked King but some of the characters just fell flat for me. I understand Jude's desire to stand up for herself and make herself know in a world where she's been downtrodden most of her life but whilst she's written well and is a very complex character, she doesn't leave you rooting for her to be the victor. 
And the last book I read in August was one I didn't actually plan on reading but needed something to bridge the gap between finishing The Cruel Prince and starting The Wicked King. And after seeing so many BookTubers reading the illustrated versions, I was once again inspired to continue my reread of the Harry Potter series. The Prisoner of Azkaban is one of my favourite books and movies of the series but as I reread this, I did notice the differences between the two. And yet I still managed to picture the movie in my head as this played out. This took me next to no time to read and I'm looking forward to picking up The Goblet Of Fire when I get through the rest of my gigantic TBR pile.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Recipe: Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Back in June my mum's work held a cake sale in aid of charity. And I was eager to be a part of it. So in the full midst of a busy week at work I bashed out three delicious batches of cupcakes that turned the best I'd ever made them. I actually shared the Rhubarb And Custard Cupcakes recently and today I'm back with the Salted Caramel Cupcakes that could have turned out a disaster but in fact turned out better than expected.

For The Cupcakes
- 100g Stork
- 100g Caster Sugar
- 100g Self Raising Flour
- 2 Eggs
- 25g Cocoa Powder

For The Buttercream
- 200g Butter, softened
- 320g Icing Sugar
- 2 Tsps Salted Caramel Extract
- Blue Food Colouring (optional)

1- Pre heat oven to 180C. Line a twelve hole muffin tin with paper cases.
2- Into a bowl place your stork and sugar. Using a stand mixer or silicone spatula beat until pale and fluffy. A stand mixer is a lot easier and quicker but mixing it by hand gives the cakes a lighter texture that just melts in the mouth.
3- Add one egg and a tablespoon of flour. Beat until combined.
4- Repeat with the second egg and another tablespoon of flour. Make sure you scrape around the edges of your bowl so no butter or egg is sat lingering on the sides.
5- Fold in the rest of your flour and cocoa powder. This is the one part of the recipe where you need to take your time. Just beating the flour in relentlessly will knock out all the air you've already built in the mixture. Folding the flour in will add more air and means your cake won't sink when it's cooking.
6- Spoon your mixture into the paper cases and cook for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. I tend to be more cautious when cooking cupcakes with cocoa powder in them as they tend to dry out if you leave them in for too long and you lose that delicious chocolate flavour you're aiming for.
7- Leave to cool for five minutes in the tin once cooked and then transfer over to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
8- Now it's onto the buttercream. Place your softened (not melted) butter into a clean bowl and beat until soft and creamy.
9- Add half your icing sugar and beat until combined. Again you can do this by hand or by a stand mixer but to save time I always do it by hand as it saves me having to drag my mixer out.
10- Add the other half of your icing sugar and beat until combined. If your buttercream is a little stiff, add a splash of milk to loosen it to a good piping consistency.
11- Pop in your salted caramel extract and beat again. I always sneak a bit of the buttercream to see how it tastes afterwards so I know if I need to add more.
12- Then this next step is optional. I wanted my cakes to be bright and noticeable on the stand so I added bright blue food colouring to make them pop. You don't have to but if you want to add a twist or make them stand out then food colouring is the way to go. I do advise really taking your time to mix your food colouring in. The last thing you want is a swirl of unmixed food colouring sat on top of your cupcake.
13- Then it's time to pipe the buttecream onto your now cooled cupcakes. I usually use my Wilton 2D Flower piping nozzle but it was currently in the wash so I went in with a slightly larger nozzle that gave a more open design. My hand always tends to get shaky when I pipe so they're not as neat as others and by the time I was icing this I had already iced twenty four cupcakes that night.
14- Once you're happy with your icing, leave to set and then enjoy. Trust me when I say everyone will enjoy them.  

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Recipe: Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins have always been a recipe I wanted to try but have always been slightly scared of trying it. Adding fresh fruit into a cake mixture can sometimes be risky as they can add more moisture to your mixture whilst cooking and leave you with a soggy cake that looks underbaked. Yet surprisingly when I finally grew some and gave it a go, I was pleasently surprised with how they turned out.

- 100g Unsalted Butter
- 140g Golden Caster Sugar
- 140g Natural Yoghurt
- 250g Plain Flour
- 2 Tsp Baking Powder
- 1 Tsp Bicarbonate Of Soda
- 1/4 Tsp Fine Salt
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 Tbsp Milk
- 125g Blueberries

1- Pre heat your oven to 180C. Line two twevle hole muffin tins with paper cases
2- Beat the butter and caster sugar together until pale and fluffy. This can be done by hand or by a stand mixer. Both work well but I like the lighter texture that doing it by hand creates.
3- Add the eggs and beat into the mixture. Once combined add the milk, natural yoghurt and vanilla extract. Don't combine it into the mixture though. Just make sure everything is scraped off the sides of the bowl so nothing is missed from the final product.
4- Into a seperate bowl combine your dry ingredients and then add to your wet ingredients.
5- Fold together until everything is thoroughly combined, don't worry if your mixture doesn't look like your standard cake mixture, it's only the addition of the natural yoghurt and milk that has changed it's consistency.
6- Finally fold in your blueberries. You can use frozen blueberries but I prefer how they turn out with fresh blueberries better.
7- Spoon your your mixture into the paper cases and cook for five minutes at 180C then turn the oven down to 160C and cook for a further 15 minutes or until they're golden brown with a good rise
8- Once they're cooked, leave them to cool in the tin for five minutes then turn out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Then all that's left is to enjoy them. 

Friday, 16 August 2019

Morning Skincare Routine

When I was a teenager my mum used to bang on about how I should be looking after my skin and being a typical teenager I ignored her advice. Fast forward ten years and looking after my skin has become one of the most important parts of my day. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't wash my face or slather it in moisturiser and SPF and I've never dared to go to bed in my make up. And I'm happy to say that my skin is looking the best it's ever looked and I like to think it's down to the routines I have both AM and PM that have helped my skin. So today I thought I'd share with you my morning skincare routine that not only leaves my skin looking good but also creates a great base for  make up.

The first thing I have to do when I finally drag myself out of bed is wash my face. I don't know about all of you but my face doesn't always feel the greatest when I wake up. And depending on how lazy I'm feeling that particular day depends on what I use on my face. The majority of the time I wash my face and for that I reach for the Garnier Organic Lemongrass Face Wash. It's gel texture is extremely lightweight and leaves the skin feeling squeaky clean but not stripped. My skin always feels ultra soft after I've used it and the tangy Lemongrass scent really helps to knock away the last bit of sleepiness I may have. But if I'm feeling lazy or I've woken up with a headache (which is quite often) I reach for my Clean And Clear Sensitive Cleansing Lotion instead. Now before you all come at me and tell me off for using a product ridden with alcohol, I'll say I've been using this for nearly fourteen years and it's never had any adverse reaction with my skin. I just pour it onto a cotton pad and swipe it over my face. The amount of crap it can pull off my skin still surprises me to this day and it leaves my skin feeling clean and refreshed even if I'm not feeling it myself.

After I've washed my face I always go in with a toner. It wasn't always a step I included in my routine but I've been doing it since the beginning of the year and I've really noticed a difference in my skin. My favourite morning toner is the REN Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic. This is packed with Lactic Acid, Azelaic Acid and Willow Bark that work to even out skintone, reduce the appearence of enlarged pores and reduce the feeling and appearence of texture on the skin. I love it's pump top that distributes the right amount onto the cotton pad. And it's works wonders on my skin. My skin looks glowy, feels softer and looks even and bright which creates the perfect base for make up.

Now it's time to start adding some moisture and to start that I spritz myself generously with the Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic Spray. It's jam packed with ingredients such as Vitamin E, Shea Butter, Camomile and Calendula. It helps to reduce any redness I may have and soothes my skin if it's feeling a little sensitive. It also makes a great setting spray over top of make up if you don't want something heavy duty. I've lost count of the amount of these I've gone through but I seriously wouldn't be without.

During the Summer months I only reach for a lightweight serum but in the Autumn/Winter I add a moisturiser over top. As we're still in Summer, I'm only going to show you my serum today. My holy grail serum comes from Loreal in the form of their Hydra Genius Aloe Water. It's so lightweight and just quenches skin's thirst. It feels like you've just splashed your face with water but that feeling lasts all day. It's perfect for layering under moisturiser, SPF and make up and will keep skin looking and feeling hydrated all day long. It's available for different skin types as well so even if you've got oily skin, you'll be able to use this on your skin.

Then it's on to SPF and this is one of the most important steps in my routine. I spent my teenage years being a SPF dodging, sun worshipping little shit and I'm honestly surprised it doesn't show in my skin more. But for the last five years I've religiously applied SPF to my face daily, even if I'm just nipping down to the shops. The one I find works best with my skin comes from Hawaiian Tropic and was recommened to me by a friend. It's oil free which means it isn't going to weigh down skin or clog pores, it's lightweight so it can be layered under make up and it's suitable for all skin types so that even those with sensitive/reactive skin types can use this. And for an SPF it's surpisingly moisturising which means on days when I''m just popping down the shops, I can pop this on and forgoe moisturiser.

And finally there is eye cream. Now if you've been a reader of the blog for a while then you'll know I've been on a bit of an eye cream journey over the last few years but now I can safely say I have not one but two eye creams that I would never be without. One is only for evening use and will certainly be featured in my August Favourites but the one I reach for every morning without fail is the Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream. It's ultra hydrating, soothing, firming and reduces any puffiness I may have. And all that works to give me a brighter under eye area with less blue tones, especially in the corners where it's always darkest. A little goes a long way and ever since I've been using this every morning, both my foundation and concealer have been going on more evenly in that particular area.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Review: IT Cosmetics CC Cream

For the longest time all I saw online was people raving about the IT Cosmetics CC Cream. And until recently, it was hard for me to get my hands on it. Until Boots redid their Beauty Hall and added IT Cosmetics to their expanding range. As you can see I've only picked up the travel size but rest assure I will definitely be buying a full size tube when this runs out.

If you've been living under a rock and don't know what the IT Cosmetics CC Cream is, it's a high coverage CC Cream that covers every imperfection under the sun, feels lightweight on the skin and has the added bonus of an SPF of 50. It doesn't sit heavily on the skin and lasts up to twelve hours without needing to be touched up. I wore this to a wedding in June and it lasted from half ten in the morning until quarter to twelve that night. Sure I was wearing a setting spray over top but I've used the same setting spray with other foundations since and they've still transferred or needed to be touched up.

Shade wise I thought I’d picked up Light as Fair was too pink toned for me but I’ve lost the box and the top of my tube says Fair. I do believe this is Light but I can’t be sure a hundred percent. What I can say is that this doesn’t oxidise in the slightest. Put it on in the morning and your face is still the same shade when you take it off however many hours later. You may get a little glow/shine throughout the day but that’s about it. Usually with CC creams they oxidise and leave you with that horrid line around the perimeter of your face. Not this one though, this one stays it’s original shade and doesn’t budge throughout the day. It isn’t a matte finish so a little shine where your natural oils come through are expected but it can easily be mattified with a little powder.

I'm so thoroughly impressed by this foundation. I've worn it during some of the muggiest days we've had so far this Summer and it hasn't budged once. I even wore it to see Carrie Underwood live where I cried multiple times and it still did not budge. Sure it's more on the high end scale of foundations but it's worth every penny and I'll happily spend the rest of my life paying out for that then wasting my money on cheaper foundations that don't match me perfectly or rub off halfway through the day. Bourjois is the only other brand that does a CC Cream that lasts but it's slowly getting harder to find it anywhere. If you do find it in stores, I recommend giving it a swatch, it's almost as good as the IT Cosmetics one at a fraction of the price.