Monday, March 31, 2014

Em- The Great Cover-Up - A Review

Regular readers of my blog will know that last month I received a shipment of goodies from Em Cosmetics. Whilst I've only reviewed one of the pieces thus far, I thought it was about time to expand on some of the other bits and pieces starting with The Great Cover-Up.
As I've mentioned before, all of make-up items from the collection have a wee story confirming who they're aimed at, given that concealer is a must have in every girls make-up arsenal it should be of little surprise that this is for the girl "who needs a little help after staying up all night," or in my case for the girl with nasty dark circles and redness around the eyes.
The concealer itself is available in 8 shades from fair/warm right through to deep/warm. As you can see, I opted for the fair/cool shade which I thought may be best for me as I have blue veins. I realise this may sound like gibberish but I have been advised ladies with green veins (check your wrist if you're not sure) have warm undertones whilst ladies with blue veins are cool hence my colour choice.
The concealer itself is a wee bit thicker than those which I'm used to using, however, please don't think for a second this means it's difficult to blend or that it feels heavy on the skin. It's really not difficult to blend at all. 

The main things I would say are that a little goes a long way, and really will cover a multitude of sins. I use this under my eyes, over the lids and on any little blemishes which are peeking through my foundation. Secondly, even though the blemish is a little drier than the rest of my skin, I personally don't find this concealer clings to the drier skin. Finally, I would ALWAYS set this concealer with powder as this will ensure that it doesn't crease and that it will stick around all day!
To finish up my review, I'm sure you can imagine, a concealer which is designed to blend into the skin is pretty hard to swatch. Nevertheless I shall try, however, I've tried to do this at strength so you can see it! Above is my skin before.
This is my skin after application, hopefully you can see some difference!

You can get The Great Cover-Up from the Em website for $17.

Have you tried any of the Em Cosmetics range yet? Do you have any favourite pieces you reckon I should try?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Too Faced Chocolate Bar Eyeshadow Palette - A Review

Whilst it's not my birthday until May, my lovely Sister decided to gift me with a super early present. That's sisterly love for you. You can imagine my utter delight when I unwrapped the Debenhams packaging to discover this little beauty tucked away inside.
The Too Faced Chocolate Bar Eyeshadow Palette comes in the most gorgeous packaging, it really is tucked up just as you'd expect to find a chocolate bar from the local newsagents.
Inside the box is a selection of 16 matte and shimmer eyeshadows with delectable names such as Salted Caramel, Champagne Truffle and Stawberry Bon Bon all of which just serve to make me hungry for sweet treats. Whilst you may have expected purely neutral colours, there are shades such as Candied Violet which add a good pop of colour. 
The palette itself comes in a metal chocolate bar tin which features a mirror in the top half and is magnetically secured together, much like the infamous Naked Palettes.
What really makes the eyeshadow palette stand out for me is firstly, the second you open the palette, you get a real whiff of chocolate. This is because all of the shadows are formulated with cocoa powder which is obviously known for it's anti-oxidant properties. 

As this is my first Too Faced product, I've naturally done some digging around and it seems the inspiration for the Chocolate Bar Palette is their cocoa based best-selling bronzer. It works for me, the smell is seriously intoxicating.

Another aspect to this palette which I love is that there are two shades which are considerably larger than the others, these being the two shades which most make-up addicts are likely to get the most use from. I don't own any eyeshadow palettes (well I do now!) but I can only image how frustrating it is to finish the favourite shade and have to hunt down a replacement.
What palette would be complete without a handy inspiration guide to get you started? I used this guide as inspiration for two looks which I'll show you below.
The above is using that rather daunting shade of matt pink (Strawberry Bon Bon) as the base colour and Semi Sweet blended into the crease. As you can see, on the eyes Strawberry Bon Bon is actually quite flattering and isn't as daunting as it looks in the pan. Obviously as the shades are pigmented you can easily build up the colour if you're after something more dramatic.
In the above look, I've used Champagne Truffle as a highlighter along the brow bone and Cherry Cordial on the inner and outer lid to give me a slightly smokey eye. I could have easily been a little more heavy handed and really built up the colour but I'm not quite brave enough just yet.

I love that this palette has lots of neutrals which could easily be used to create a variety of everyday looks, however, the pinks, plums and deeper almost greyish browns mean you can create a really different smokey look which will make the eyes pop. The Chocolate Bar Palette gives Naked a run for its money.

The Too Faced Chocolate Bar Eyeshadow Palette is currently available exclusively at Debenhams so I'd recommend getting yourself down there soon!

Have you tried the Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette? What did you think?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tuesday Tasties No.26

Evening all, hopefully everyone has been making the most of the extra vitamin D and getting out there and enjoying the sunshine. This month has been pretty stressful, for a variety of reasons meaning that all Laura based food cravings have involved gooey cheese and something rather comforting.

Home-made guacamole & quesadillas
Today, I'll be showing you how to make your own guacamole which, of course can be used for dipping purposes. However, I've been making this to go alongside some scrummy quesadillas. Lucky for you, I'll be showing you how to make both.

You'll need:
  • 3 avocados, all pitted and halved
  • 4 tomatoes, de-seeded
  • 2 chillies, chopped or some chilli flakes
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • A good handful of coriander
  • 1 tsp of lemon or lime juice
  • A good measure of grated cheddar cheese
  • Corn tortillas
  • Some pre-cooked/pre-seasoned chicken - no-one has time to faff around with seasoning mid-week!
This is super easy, and for a change, no oven is required! The first thing you'll need to grab is a blender. Into the blender, pop 2 of your avocados, the tomatoes, the chilli and spring onions. As you're going to blitz everything, you don't need to chop things to finely.
Add the coriander and the lime/lemon juice before giving everything a really good blitz.
Once everything is nicely smooshed together, I like to add the final avocado before mushing it up by hand with a fork. This will help to give the guacamole a little more texture.
Now the guacamole is ready, it's time to piece together the quesadillas. Firstly, I like to take the pre-prepared chicken and chop it up a little.
Then, take one corn tortilla and add a little chicken and a good handful of the grated cheese.
Then, heat up either a frying pan, or you can use a tepan like us. Make sure it's pretty toasty before popping the tortillas on. Then, add a second corn tortilla on top of the chicken and cheese before popping this on the tepan.
So the two halves stick together, you might want to push down a little or, if it's proving to be overly warm, we pop a plate on top to flatten things out and add some weight. Once things are looking more on the melty side, you need to flip it over. This is the hard part, we slide it onto a plate before flipping.
It should look like this with a little colour. Don't worry if things look more than crispy, practice makes perfect in this regard. Once cooked, remove and cut into quarters.
Once you've used all the meat, cheese and tortillas it's time to plate up. Arrange you various quarters and serve with a nice big dollop of the guacamole. Note the extra toasty quesadillas in the middle? I told you practice makes perfect.

What food do you enjoy when things are a little stressful?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Deep Sleep Night Time - This Works - A Review

Me and a good nights sleep seem to elude each other, especially on a Sunday evening when my subconscious is already focusing on the week ahead. Lately I've been relying on sleeping aids to help me drift off but, I've been looking for something on the aromatherapy side that'll help do the job.
As I had some N-Dulge points to use, I headed over to Space NK to indulge myself. I've seen people harping on about the This Works Deep Sleep Pillow spray for ages so naturally this was my first port of call in my mission to secure a better nights sleep. Whilst they didn't have the spray on it's own, they did have the Deep Sleep Night Time set which also came with the Sleep Balm.
As a cheeky wee bonus these products are free from chemical nasties! My own personal experiences with pillow sprays in the past have ended in massive breakouts due to all sorts of weird and wonderful ingredients which have naturally ended up all over my face whilst I've been sleeping. As this pillow spray is free from preservatives and the like, I was confident that this experience would be different.
As you'd expect, the spray smells of soothing lavender and vetiver which work to ease your mind and encourage a state of relaxation. I used three generous spritzes on my pillow and another spritz over the top of my duvet.
The balm can be used on any dry patches and on your pulse points. Again, it smells strongly of lavender so I used this on my cuticles before heading to bed. As you can imagine, as my paws tend to be quite close to my face whilst I'm sleeping every so often I'd get another whiff of that wonderful lavender.

Overall, whilst I certainly feel that the combination of the two products certainly helped me to feel more relaxed, as it's so stuffy in our flat at the moment, I cannot attest to them helping me drift off to sleep any quicker. Further, more in-depth testing is definitely required in this respect.

You can pick up the Deep Sleep Night Time set from Space NK for £22. What do you use to help you drift off?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Outfit Of The Day - The Statement Jumper

As my last outfit based post seemed to be quite popular with you lovely lot, I thought I'd make more of an effort to up the stakes and post even more fashion based posts. Naturally I'll keep going until I've run out of clothes in my wardrobe, we could be here a while eh?

Moving on, today I'm focusing on a statement (well, this is a statement for me) jumper with some rather lush berry coloured skinny jeans.
I need to be honest here and say that when I picked up this jumper, I had ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE on how to style it! As such, I settled on picking out one of the many colours on the panel and trying to match the lower half.

Today, I'm wearing:

Jumper: Warehouse
Skinny Jeans: Oasis
Boots: Clarks
The jumper is pretty out of my comfort zone but it's so unique! The sleeves are a cream colour and made from your usual sweatshirt style material. However, as you can see, the front of the jumper has been replaced with an oriental patterned silk fabric.

The jeans are from Oasis and are apparently cropped, however, these hit me right on the ankle making them ideal for tucking onto ankle boots. The fabric is super stretchy which is great as there is nothing worse than feeling restricted by your clothes.

I was going for pensive, not quite sure if that comes across. Either way, here's a closer look at my lovely jumper and a sneaky peek at my make-up.

I'm wearing the new Lancome Air De Teint foundation which is incredibly light, it covers up most of my imperfections creating the illusion I'm wearing nothing at all. If only my skin could go back to behaving! I'm also wearing a Clinique Chubby Stick on my lips, Maybelline Colour Tattoo in On & On Bronze on my eyes and my Soap & Glory Mascara. Told you I like things pretty natural.

How would you style a statement jumper? I wonder if this'd work with a denim mini?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tuesday Tasties No.25

I cannot believe that this is my 25th recipe based post! I'm still a little disappointed that none of you guys have shared your escapades with me, perhaps you're not quite ready to share with the World Wide Web. I'd love to hear how you got on with any of my recipes though so please feel free to drop me a line.

Anyways, a lot of you may know, I'm a big lover of Italian food, simple flavours mean that the focus of the dish is good quality ingredients, which, when cooked correctly, will literally sing!

Ricotta Pasta Bake

This dish takes a wee while to put together but the satisfying crunch combined with the gooey cheese will make it all worth while.

For this dish you'll need:
  • Olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 packet of sausages, preferably some with a little bite
  • Basil leaves
  • 300g pasta shells (I used dried pasta)
  • 200g ricotta
  • Lemon juice
  • 1 ball of mozzarella
  • Parmesan cheese
Right, lets get cooking. As always, the first thing you'll need to do is whack on the oven to 200 degrees and grab yourself an oven proof dish. Keep this handy as you'll need it in a wee while.

Next, grab a pan and add your pasta. I like to add a little olive oil and some salt to stop it all sticking together. You'll want to cook the pasta for around 10 minutes until it's al dente (or however the packet says it needs to be cooked).

While the pasta is cooking, I like to take the opportunity to make a start on the ragu. Sadly, this means that things are about to get messy. As we won't be cooking the sausages whole, you'll need to squeeze all of the sausage meat out of the sausage skins.
I literally have no words for the above picture. All I can say is things will get much prettier as things progress. I promise!

Next, it's time to fry off the garlic in a little olive oil until it's starting to brown slightly. Then add the gorgeous sausage meat and start smooshing it up so it resembles mince meat.
See, I told you things will get prettier. Once you've reached this stage, plonk in your tomatoes before leaving things to bubble away for around 10 minutes. Once it's reduced slightly, chop up some basil and throw this in before turning off the heat.
Incidentally, as we've now reached about 10 minutes, its time to completely drain the pasta before leaving it in the pan to cool slightly.

Whilst the pasta is cooking, it's time to mix up the good stuff. Grab your ricotta cheese and pop this in a bowl. Add some salt and pepper and some lemon juice (about a teaspoon) before giving it a good stir. Next, split the mozzarella ball in half setting one half to the side. Tear up the remaining half and add it to the bowl along with some more chopped basil (to taste in all honesty) and a good handful of parmesan. Give things another good stir.
By this point, I hope your pasta has cooled down enough. You literally just need to add the cheese mixture to your pasta and ensure everything is well mixed together.
Now it's time to layer everything up.

Start by adding a shallow layer of the ragu to the bottom of your dish, this will stop everything sticking.
Then add ALL of the pasta on top of this, it'll look like the below.
Then add the remainder of the ragu mixture on top. Once you've done this, add the remaining mozzarella ball before topping with some more parmesan.
I've placed my dish onto a tray in case anything bubbles over the sides. Once you've reached this stage, it's time to pop the finished dish into the oven for around 30 minutes or until it's golden and bubbling.
Then it's simply a case of taking what you fancy and plating up. This dish serves four very generously, it could probably serve 6 if you made a lovely side salad with tomatoes.
You get some crunch, some goo and a good kick from the sausages. The cheese mixture is wonderfully fresh owing to the lemon juice and fresh basil so this is ideal when the weather is perking up.

If you'd like some more Italian inspiration then please let me know, it's great for mid-week meals!

This recipe was inspired by the Cirio website and altered to suit my budget.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lancome Air De Teint - A Review

As many of you may know, I prefer a more natural look when it comes to my make-up, I cannot be doing with heavy full coverage foundations. But, by the same token, when my skin is misbehaving, I can't deny my love of making it appear more refined than it actually is.

Previously, I have relied on the Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua which is a cross between a foundation and tinted moisturiser, however, as of late, it has been making my skin look a wee bit orange. A replacement was needed!
This is where I say hello to the Miracle Air De Teint which I picked up for £29.50 from Boots in the shade 010. I've used a lot of Lancome products in the past, their mascara is wonderful, as is the Bi-Facil (amazing for removing waterproof eye make-up!) so I was quietly confident this would do a pretty good job.
This is marketed as a skin perfecting, blurring foundation which feels incredibly light on the face. In addition, it packs an SPF and promises to give your skin a glow whilst maintaining a matt finish. Heck, all I'll say is Penelope Cruz is fronting the campaign and she looks stunning! Moving onto the review of course.

The foundation is a little strange in that you dispense the product using a pipette, I used 3 drops to do the main part of my face and one drop on my forehead. I simply popped this onto my fingers before pressing my fingers together and, starting from the centre of my face, worked the product into my skin.
This is my skin before I applied the foundation, you can see some blemishes on the side of my face and a wee bit of redness around my nose. At this point I'm wearing nothing else on my skin other than my primer, to give you a clearer idea of how the foundation is on the skin, I made sure my primer had no luminous properties.
This is my skin post-foundation application. As you can see, the redness around my nose is gone and the appearance of the blemishes on my chin is significantly reduced. You can still see the blemishes on my cheek a wee bit but I wouldn't say this is a bad thing.

The appearance of my skin is incredibly natural with the foundation on, whilst you can still see some imperfections (which admittedly, could be easily covered with a touch of concealer) this actually helps to add to the illusion that I'm wearing no make-up. 

Most of the marketing around the product has been on the basis that this will help you to achieve that no make-up  look, and I think it fulfils that 100%. This product will be perfect for the summer and ideal for those looking for something lighter as the weather warms up.

In summary, I would say the following about this foundation:
  • Firstly, it really does feel like silk on the skin, when applying, it blends quickly and easily with your fingers, no additional buffing needed! *It's almost akin to the silky feeling you get from the Benefit Porefessional primer*
  • It's long lasting - over the course of the day, it didn't settle into any creases or lines
  • It does give your skin a matt look, but, still gives the impression of a wonderfully healthy glow. I have no idea how, please don't ask me.
  • In all honesty, I forgot I was wearing this, it really was that comfortable on the skin
This is a new favourite in my collection, have you tried Air De Teint? What did you think?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

March 2014 Birchbox - Lulu Guinness Edition - A Review

Another month has whizzed past meaning it's time for another Birchbox. Given this was a limited edition Lulu Guinness box, I had high hopes. Lulu herself is iconic with a fantastic sense of style which is both quirky and polished. Naturally, one would expect her Birchbox picks to be just as cheeky as her designs.
As you can see, there were a couple of bonus pieces in this months box, namely a voucher for £20 off a £100 spend in the Lulu shop (either online or in store) and a voucher for a free brow make-under at Benefit allowing folk a chance to sample the much talked about Gimme Brow.
So, what did I get this month, lets go through it all shall we?

  • Benefit - Stay Don't Stray -2.5ml. A primer for the eyes, I will be honest and say I am looking forward to using this. As I've mentioned on many occasions, I do get quite oily around the eye area meaning that shadow has a tendency to crease. I will be putting this to the test over the course of this week. The only down side here, is the sample size is dinky and does resemble something which I could have picked up from the concession if I fancied.
  • Dr. Brandt - Pores No More Pore Refiner - 7.5ml. I was a huge fan of the microdermabrasion, it is hands down, one of the best exfoliators I've used. This particular product promises to absorb excess oil and minimise the appearance of pores. Given this is to be applied post-moisturiser and pre make-up, I would be inclined to suggest this is meant to act as a primer.
  • Aroma Works - Nurture Body Oil - 5ml. I think I've said before, body oils aren't really my bag, I'm more of a lotion kind of girl. This is formulated with coconut oil so I have no doubt about whether I'll love the smell, it's just more the prospect of waiting around for it to sink into my skin. Perhaps I can gift this to one of my lovely girlfriends. As it's only a dinky size, I'm sure it'll only be good for 5 or so applications.
  • Molton Brown - Rhubarb & Rose Replenishing Hand Cream - 7ml. I had a good sniff of this, and I have to say, it smells incredible. Gloriously sweet to the point I'd probably be tempted to gnaw my hands off if I was in a pickle. This promises to be fast-absorbing (nothing worse than greasy mitts) and deeply nourishing. I'm currently working my way through an arsenal of Hand Food, but I'm looking forward to popping this in my handbag.
  • English Laundry - No.7 - 2ml. I really was not a fan of the last English Laundry perfume I sampled, it was overly sweet to the point the sample was binned *SORRY* this features notes of pear and jasmine along with a sweet note of vanilla. Whilst this is also very sweet, it's actually very pleasant and reminds me of ice cream sundaes. I spritzed this on one evening and Ad commented that something smelled nice before sniffing around to find the source. Turns out it was me! This could be a keeper.
  • Lulu's Stick of Rock. This has to be one of the prettiest sweets I've been given in a long time. It's ALMOST to good to eat. But only almost, given my sweet tooth, nothing is safe!
Whilst this months box has been one of the better selections I've had in a while, it is still not quite enough to keep me coming back again and again. I've decided to have a wee break from the beauty box, namely so I can use up some of the masses of samples I have. Worry not though, I'm sure I'll be back soon!

Did you get this months Birchbox? What did you think?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tuesday Tasties No.24 -The Treehouse - A Review

Given our recent spell of gorgeous sunny weather, it seemed a shame to keep ourselves cooped indoors for our proposed movie marathon. This therefore meant pottering around the shops on Saturday with an impromptu visit to our local on the Sunday to FINALLY try out their grub.

Our local pub is called the The Treehouse, a rather quirky looking place situated on one of the main roads into Croydon. Despite this, it's not particularly noisy and plays a host to a rather lovely beer garden which is something of a sun trap.
Whilst Ad finds the range of beers to be slightly limited, it should be borne in mind that Ad is a lover of Belgian Beer and Trappist Beers such as Leffe which is something which isn't on offer. However, don't let this put you off, if you're a fan of Peroni or Doombar then you'll be more than happy, and Ladies, there is a pretty peachy selection of both wine and spirits to keep you merry if they're your tipple of choice.

Not ones to break with tradition, we both sampled a burger, I'm a firm believer that if you're capable of doing a burger well (something which should be simple right?) then the rest of your food should be excellent to.
As you can see, both burgers came complete with a huge side of chips and some gorgeous caramelised onions and tomatoes underneath the burger.

The chips were fantastically crunchy and had a very rustic feel given that the skins were still on. This was a big plus for me as there is nothing worse than soggy chips. I know chips are far from healthy, so if I'm going use valuable calories scoffing them, then they need to be good.
Moving onto the burger itself. I would say that the patty itself was enormous, it had good flavour and was lovely and juicy. As you bit into it, you could see there was just enough fat in the meat used, and, you could also see all of the lovely herbs used in the patty mixture which was nice to see.

The only down side for me (and it's just me being a wee bit picky) is that for me, a burger isn't just about the patty, it's about the condiments which you accompany it as well. Whilst the rocket provided an extra punch, the onions and tomatoes fell out of my bun pretty quickly meaning that each mouthful was simply patty, bun and rocket. I reckon with a good sauce, it'd really bring this burger to the next level! 

I'd happily pop down here again, the duck breast and mash sounded gorgeous and they also had an offer a full on roast beef dinner for a little over £13 with all the trimmings which I reckon is cracking value for money.

Oh, and if the sun makes further appearances, I'll be topping up my tan in their garden to. 

If you fancy checking out The Treehouse, then pop over to their website which can be found HERE.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Outfit of the Day - The Statement Cardigan

I thought a fashion based post like this was long overdue!

I have been feeling somewhat inspired to pop up a couple of pictures of my outfit choices after seeing the lovely Liz over at With Wonder and Whimsy doing such a great job, I have to say, she has really given me the courage to be a wee bit braver with my choices and given me some great ideas as to how to breathe some new life into some of my older pieces.

Anywho, todays outfit choice!
Necklace: Cutie Pie
Vest Top: Oasis- £8
Cardigan: Limited Edition at Marks & Spencer- £35
Jeans: Limited Edition at Marks & Spencer - £39
Belt (just visible!): Topshop
Shoes: Primark

I've been on the hunt for some distressed jeans for AGES, these pair are certainly a lighter denim than that I'd usually go for given my curvy thighs. But, I must say they fit fantastically well, they're super stretchy and hit me in just the right place on the ankle. I purchased these recently from M&S and they came with a wonderful 20% off the £39 price tag! How I love me a bargain.
I adore this cardigan so much, I actually bought this last summer whilst my Mum was over. I fell head over heels with it as it really fitted with the slouchy style I was going for at the time. Whilst the knit is quite heavy, because of the cut-out detailing it's actually incredibly light to wear making it ideal for the warmer weather when you literally just need something to cover your arms during the evenings.
As you can see, the cut-out detailing has been done in a coral pink colour which contrasts nicely with the cream knit of the cardigan. Plus, I think it fits pretty well with the pastel trend which we're seeing everywhere without being to in your face. Great for someone like me who tends to be more timid with their clothing.
Because it's all about the cardigan, my make-up is pretty simple. On my face, I've got the Laura Mercier Radiance Primer, Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser, Em Arched on by brows, Em Waterliner in R'os Gold as an eyeliner, Eyeko Mascara and some Soap & Glory blusher, on my lips is a Lancome Juicy Tube. With hindsight, the last thing was a bad idea as it was pretty breezy!

With very pared back make-up, this means my outfit does all the talking.

How would you style a statement cardigan? Would you keep your make-up as simple as me or do you think I need a bold lip?

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