Wednesday, 30 April 2014

April Favourites

I have really enjoyed dipping my toes into the world of beauty blogging, so in keeping with that theme I bring you all my first monthly favourites! They won't only consist of beauty bits but may also include some TV, film, music and books favourites. Possibly accompanied occasionally with some other things I have been loving during the month. So here are a few things I have been enjoying in the month of April! 

  • Dove Hair Nourishing Oil Care Leave-In Spray
    I spray this on the ends of my hair while it's still wet and it really seems to be helping the problem I'm currently having with my dry ends. I don't spray too much as it's easy to go from dry to greasy but with the right amount it helps to put a little more life into your hair.
  • Rimmel Match Perfection Foundation
    As I mentioned in my "What's In My Make Up Bag" post, I have been using this for a few months now and it's by far the best foundation I have ever used. I think it's going to be perfect for summer as it's super light.
  • Maybelline Forever Strong Nail Varnish in Ceramic BluePastel nails are still my absolutely favourite, they really suit my skin tone and I much prefer them to brights (although I am partial to a cherry red nail varnish every now and then). This is the perfect pastel blue for me and it only takes two coats to achieve a very opaque colour.
    I don't think Maybelline sell these anymore, unfortunately. Which is a real shame because the formulation is fantastic. Has anyone tried any of the other Maybelline nail varnishes? I wonder if they are as good as this one!
  • Vanilla Scented Candle
    I have never been a candle person, we have quite a few dotted around our house but I can never smell them, therefore never saw the point in buying some for my bedroom. However, last week I decided to pick this french vanilla candle up and I have been addicted to it ever since. It was extremely cheap so I wasn't expecting much from it, however I was pleasantly surprised when it made my whole room smell of vanilla!
  • Veronica MarsLately I've been stuck in a rut with television shows, I can't seem to find one to really get into, so I returned to my old faithful favourite .I cannot put into words how much I love this show. I watched it first when I was 11/12, then last year I discovered that Brian also loved it so in preparation for the film we watched all 3 seasons. My feelings towards the film are a story for another day (basically, I loved that too). It follows the life of  a girl who starts the show as a high school student who then goes on to college all while being a private detective. It is honestly girl power at it's best, one of the many reason I enjoy it so much. If you haven't seen it before I highly recommend you get watching! 

I hope you enjoyed finding out what I've been loving this April, leave me a comment telling me what you've been enjoying this month! 

Monday, 28 April 2014

What's In My Bag

So last week I finally did something I had been wanting to do for awhile now and I posted my first beauty related blog post. I really enjoyed writing it and it turned out to be one of my more popular posts. What's In My Make Up Bag/Handbag posts are some of my favourite ones to read, I am extremely nosy. With that said, for my next venture into the beauty world, I bring you a look into my handbag (minus the rubbish). My bag is from New Look, my Mum and I call this my "grown up" bag.  New Look's bags are great, they hold up better than Primark/Penney's ones and they are cheaper than Topshop bags but look just as good! 

Essentials: The two things I will never leave the house without are my wallet and my phone. My wallet is from Penneys/Primark, I got it for Christmas about 3 years ago and it is holding up really well. I'm currently on the look out for a new one, but I can never find one to commit to seeing as this one is perfectly fine. 
My phone is a Nokia Lumia 520, that I have had for 6 months now and I am very happy to say I have never had a problem with it. It has been dropped more times than I care to state but it doesn't even have a scratch on it, which is great.

Beauty Bits: I'll start with the things that I actually use on a daily basis, Soap & Glory Hand Maid anti-bacterial gel and L'Occitane Mango Passion hand cream. I love these as they are really fast drying, they don't make your hands sticky or greasy and they both smell great. 
I also have two lipsticks in here, both nude colours. One is a Clarins Rouge Eclat lipstick in 01 nude rose and the other is a Rimmel Moisture Renew in Latino. 
Not quite sure why but a Rimmel Salon Pro nail varnish seems to have made it's way into my bag, this one is in the colour Jazz Funk.
A newcomer to my handbag are a pair of sunglasses that I picked up from New Look about two years ago, it's not often I wear sunglasses even during the summer but you never know. 
Lastly, I have a travel size Batiste Dry Shampoo, which I rarely use but is always good to have, just in case! 

Useful Things: I like to be prepared for any situation so I also have in my bag, Bach's Rescue Remedy, some plasters, a spare pair of glasses, a pen and some snacks. I usually have a packet of tissues as well but I seem to have run out and I have yet to restock!
Rescue remedy is great, I use it mainly before interviews but sometimes just if I'm having a particularly stressful day or when I'm feeling anxious.
I am so clumsy, plasters are a must for me. 
A spare pair of glasses are a recent addition to my bag, I wear glasses all the time, I have two pairs and last week I broke the pair that I wear all the time so they are currently being held together with some sneaky super glue, which seems to be working quite well but just in case it happens again, I like to have a spare pair so I don't have to walk around blind for a day. 
Not a whole lot I can say about the pen, everyone needs a pen! 
Last but not least, the snacks, I always keep a snack in my bag, this week I have some pumpkin seeds, something to keep me going until my next meal, otherwise I would no doubt buy a chocolate bar of some sort. Not forgetting a pack of mints, because I don't like chewing gum but being minty fresh is a must!

I hope you guys enjoyed having a look around my bag, anything you think I seem to be forgetting? There's always room for more stuff in the bottomless pit that is a girl's handbag! 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Marble Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

I am genuinely surprised by the lack of things I make that have chocolate in them. I am a chocolate fiend, certainly not someone that prefers savoury snacks. I'm not even a massive fan of sweets, just chocolate. I have wanted to make these for ages now, I remember making a marble cake with my Nan a couple of years back, and more than anything I just love the way the inside looks. I don't really make cakes, unless they're for a special occasion. I find it easier to just make cupcakes as they're easier to give to people. Not many people got these cupcakes, they were toooo yummy for me to give away. One of the great things about these cupcakes is that you don't actually need any chocolate, just cocoa powder, which makes me feel a little better about myself when I'm stuffing them in my mouth. This recipe makes 12 cupcakes and I choose to frost them with vanilla buttercream icing, you could use chocolate icing but I thought that may be a little too much chocolate. Happy baking! 

What you will need:

150g butter
150g caster sugar
3 eggs
175g self raising flour
50ml warm milk
2tbsp cocoa powder

For the icing:
100g butter
200g icing sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
2tbsp milk

1. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Line your cupcake tray with 12 cupcake cakes. 

2. Mix together your butter, sugar and eggs with an electric mixer until it's pale and light. 

3. Add in your flour while still mixing and when the mixture begins to stiffen, start adding your milk. 

4. Divide your mixture between two bowls (I didn't divide mine evenly and ended up with more chocolate than plain, oops.) and stir your cocoa powder into one of the bowls.

5. Add a heaped teaspoon of plain mixture into your cases, a teaspoon of the chocolate mixture and then another teaspoon of the plain on top. I've found this works best to make the marble effect.

6. Take a skewer, or the tip of the knife and gently swirl around your mixture. Do not over swirl, it will not be pretty. 

7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool while you make your icing. 

8. To make the icing, beat together your sugar and butter (put your electric mixer onto a low setting or else there will be an icing sugar disaster) then mix in your vanilla extract and milk. 

9. Wait until the cupcakes have completely cooled to ice them and decorate as desired! 

Monday, 21 April 2014

Banana and Peanut Butter Dog Treats

As promised in my "Doggie Day Out" post, this is the recipe I used for the treats I baked and brought along to the charity event I went to on Saturday. I spent an evening last week looking around the internet for a simple but tasty dog treat recipe that didn't use a lot of complicated, hard to find ingredients that would still be suitable and healthy-ish for all dogs. Most of the recipes I found use peanut butter, which I wasn't sure about but I was assured by some doggie experts that natural peanut butter would be okay for most dogs. I used this recipe, which also includes bananas. Giving your four legged friends one of their five a day. Do dogs need five a day? I don't think so but it can't do any harm! These treats were taste tested first by our family dog Ollie, he loved them! 

What you will need: 

250g wholemeal flour
90g rolled oats
160g peanut butter 
2 bananas
2tbsp honey
2 eggs 
3tbsp plain flour, for rolling

1. Preheat your oven ro 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, mix together your peanut butter, eggs and honey with an electric mixer.

3. Mash up your bananas and add to your mixture, beat again until smooth. 

4. Gradually add in your flour and oats, until everything is mixed together.

5.Sprinkle a pinch of plain flour over your hands so the dough doesn't stick then take a small handful of dough, roll into a ball and flatten out to be about a 1cm thick. Place on your baking tray.

6. Repeat this process until you've used all the dough, I made 18 cookies with this recipe.

7. To make the paw prints, I pressed into the dough with something that was a small circle shape. This step is completely optional. 

8. Put your cookies into the oven for 30 minutes, or until they turn a golden brown colour and begin to harden. 

9.  Place on a wire rack to cool. Store in a cool, dry place. 

These treats won't last as long as the ones you would buy in a supermarket but I'm sure they're much more tasty and are a whole lot better for your dogs! 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Doggie Day Out #1

So the time has come for me to introduce you to the two main men in my life, my boyfriend Brian and our dog Max. Max is a three year old Jack Russell and Brian is a twenty year old human that I have had the pleasure of being with for the past four years. I am a self confessed crazy dog lady and Brian is slowly coming around to my way of life.  Unfortunately, there aren't any nice places to walk Max near where I live so when the weather starts brightening up we bundle him into the car and take him somewhere he can have a good long walk. Yesterday, Cork's Dog Action Welfare Group held their "Spring Fling" event at Ballincollig Regional Park. A doggie day out with lots of fun activities including a duck race, rubber ducks were €5 with all the proceeds going to DAWG. I also brought along some dog friendly treats for the bake sale and I should have a post up about those tomorrow! I thought I'd share some of the pictures I took, although this post is mainly for me as I am going to enjoy making "Doggie Day Out" posts about all of Max's adventures (please humour me).

This picture sums up their relationship pretty well. 

I hope you're all having a wonderful Easter weekend! Do you guys have any nice spots you like to take your four legged friends? 

Friday, 18 April 2014

What's In My Make Up Bag

I'm trying something a little bit different today and writing my first beauty post! I don't know a lot about beauty and I unfortunately do not own an excessive amount of products. However, I do love reading beauty blogs and watching beauty Youtube videos. So, here is a look into my make up bag, which appears to be overpopulated with lip products and doesn't include the three nude lipsticks that have taken up residency in my hand bag. 

Rimmel Match Perfect Foundation: I've been using this for a few months now and I absolutely love it. I wouldn't recommend it if you're looking for a  high coverage foundation as it's definitely very light but it gives me just enough coverage to even out my skin tone, which is all I'm really looking for. It's also the perfect shade for my pale skin, I have this in the shade "Porcelain".

Boujours Healthy Balance Powder: This is an old favourite of mine. It's not chalky and doesn't leave your make up looking cake-y, perfect for setting my foundation and giving a little bit more coverage.

SEVENTEEN Phwoarr Paint: I find that the only part of my face that needs a lot more coverage is under my eyes. I never seem to be able to find a concealer that doesn't disappear as I'm blending it in. However, this one is extremely heavy duty, but not drying as you would expect, it's surprising creamy.

No7 Blush: I've had this blush for far too long, I only sweep a tiny bit over my cheeks as they're quite rosy naturally. I don't even think Boots sell these anymore but it's such a nice colour and it does the job so I refuse to throw it away.

Collection Fast Stroke Eyeliner: I use this when I want quite thick, very black winged eyeliner. This will not create a thin line unless your hands are reeeeeeally steady (which mine are not) but it's extremely opaque and amazing for less than £3/€5. 
Collection Extreme 24h felt tip liner: When I first bought this, it seemed like it had already become very dried out so I rarely used it. However, I've heard a lot of people rave about this eyeliner lately so I thought I would give it another go and I'm really glad I did. Not completely opaque like the one I mentioned above but it's great for creating a thin, small line.

Collection No Clumps Mascara: Not much to say about this one. It does what it says on the tin really, no clumps! Really great for lengthening and separating the lashes.

MUA Heaven And Earth Palette: The only eyeshadow you will find it my make up bag is this palette. It's all you need really, it has a great range of neutral colours, which is perfect for me. I only wish it had some matte shades.

Rimmel Kate Matte Lipstick in 110: I don't wear lipstick a lot but I cannot wait to use this more in the summer. It's such a beautiful, bright coral colour.

Rimmel Kate Lasting Finish Lipstick in 01: I adore this colour, deep reds are my favourite. I wish I had the courage to wear it more.

Rimmel Apocalips in Apocoliptic: These were raved about in the beauty world this time last year, I completely agree with the hype around them. The colour range is fantastic and they really stain the lips.

No7 Sheer Temptation Lipstick in Cuckoo Coral: I got this lipstick when I had a no7 voucher last year. It adds the perfect sheer coral tint to your lips but I don't think I would pay €12.75 for it at full price.

Revlon ColourBurst Balm in Lovesick: I wore this last week and fell in love with this vibrant pink lipstick again. Stays on all day with minimal fuss and keeps my lips super moisturized.

Lush Lip Scrub in Sweet Lips: This is my saviour when my lips are dry. Scrub-a-dub-dub my lips with this stuff and it gets rid of all the dead skin to make my lips lipstick ready. The sweet lips version that I have has been discontinued unfortunately but all the other ones smell just as good.

Carmex Lip Balm: I apply this every day after the lip scrub, it's the only lip balm that keeps my lips properly moisturized.

If you've made a "What's In My Make Up Bag" post, leave a comment down below and tell me, I'd love to have a nose in your make up bags! 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Gingerbread Men

Do you guys have a favourite baked treat that you will make and eat all of them by yourself? Well, I do and these gingerbread men are the baked treats in question. Most of them time when I bake biscuits or cupcakes, I won't eat them, I'll try one just to make sure they taste good but other than that I rarely feel the urge to eat more than one or two. However, with these biscuits it's a completely different story. This recipe makes about twelve and I will sneak at least half of them up to my room before letting my family know they are ready. I have always loved gingerbread men, ever since I was little they will be the only thing I will ever get from a bakery. This recipe might seem a bit winter-y due to the cinnamon and ginger but I really couldn't wait until the colder months to tell you all about it. I use this recipe, I find it's the best one out there. The biscuits don't come out really hard like they would with other recipes, they're super moist. Obviously this depends on how thick you choose to make them, I've found that rolling the dough out to about a 1cm thickness works best. If you and your families are anything like me and mine, these gingerbread men shall be gone within a few days. Happy baking!

What you will need: 

350g plain flour
125g butter
175g soft brown sugar
1 egg 
4tbsp golden syrup 
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
2tsp ginger
1tsp cinnamon

1. In a large bowl, sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon.

2. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar.

3. Beat the egg and golden syrup together, add these in and mix together with your hands until the mixture comes together. 

4. Put your dough onto a floured surface and begin the knead until it is smooth. Wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for 15 minutes. 

5. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Prepare two baking trays with parchment paper. 

6. Take your dough out of the fridge and roll out to a 1cm thickness. Cut out your gingerbread men shapes and place onto the baking tray. 

7. Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes, making sure the sides don't overcook (a mistake I made with this batch). Leave to cool on a wire rack. When cooled, decorate as desired! 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Homemade Jammie Dodgers

These biscuits may just be the best thing I have ever made. Jammie Dodgers are a really old favourite of mine, I could in a whole packet in one sitting, (no shame, they're undeniably delicious) so when I saw this recipe in a magazine before Christmas I knew I had to make them. Even if it took me until April. They do take a bit of time if you don't have little heart or circle shaped cutters to cut out a piece in the middle but the two and a half hours I spent making them were well worth it. I used  the tip of a knife to cut out the little heart shape but I'm sure if you can find something in a little circular shape, that would work just as well and probably cut down the preparation time by a whole lot. Strawberry jam was my filling of choice but you can use whatever kind of jam you would like, seedless or not, I've found that doesn't really matter. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the jam stuck the two biscuit pieces together really well, I honestly thought they would fall apart and a jammy biscuit-y mess would ensue while eating. They look absolutely adorable and I really couldn't decide if I wanted to just stare at them all evening or gobble them all up in one go. This recipe makes 18 Jammie Dodgers. Happy baking!

What you will need :
250g butter
360g plain flour
130g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
1tsp vanilla extract
3tbsp milk
30g caster sugar, for sprinkling
150g jam of your choice

1.  With an electric mixer, mix together the butter and icing sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy. 

2. Add your egg yolk and vanilla extract and beat together with a wooden spoon.

3. Sift in your flour and mix into a firm dough. If you find the mixture isn't sticking together add a tablespoon of milk but no more than 3.

4. Work the dough into a smooth ball with your hands, then wrap in clingfilm and pop in the fridge for half an  hour.

5. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 and line two baking sheets with baking parchment. 

6. Place your dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to be about 3mm thick. Cut out an even amount of circles using a 4cm biscuit cutter, then cut out a heart/circle shape in the middle of half of them. 

7. Put the biscuits on your baking sheet and place in the oven for 10 minutes, until they're golden.

8. Transfer the biscuits onto a wire rack to cool.

9. Once the biscuits have completely cooled, sandwich them together with a teaspoon of jam. Making sure you place a biscuit that has a hole cut out on top of one that doesn't. Sprinkle with caster sugar to finish! 

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Frosting

These lemon cupcakes are super zesty and make the perfect homemade baked treat for Easter. They're simple to make and a really yummy way to use up any lemons left over from pancake day, I don't know about you guys, but we still had some. The icing is optional, these cupcakes are really moist anyway but it does add an extra bit of lemon-y goodness. Happy baking!

What you will need:
125g self raising flour
125g butter
125g caster sugar
3tbsp milk
2 eggs
1tsp baking powder
1tbsp lemon juice
1 zest of lemon

For the icing:
75g butter
175g icing sugar
1 zest of lemon
3tbsp lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line your cupcake tin with cases, this recipe should make 12 cupcakes.

2. Mix together your butter, sugar and eggs.

3. Add your flour, baking powder and then your milk to loosen the mixture.

4. Lastly, mix in your lemon zest and juice.

5. Fill your cupcake case with a tablespoon and a half of mixture.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until your knife/skewer comes out clean.

7. While your cupcakes are baking, make your icing by mixing all of the ingredients together. If the mixture is too runny, add more icing sugar. 

8. Make sure your cupcakes have completely cooled and then ice them with your butter cream frosting.

I think some little edible flowers or mini eggs would look so cute on top of these. Drizzling some lemon curd on top could also make a yummy addition to these cupcakes! 

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Pear and Banana Bread

Banana bread was the first thing I ever baked, by myself, from scratch. I baked a loaf every week for a couple of months, until my family got sick of it. However, this week, I brought back the banana bread, with a twist that made it even more delicious. My mother had been pestering me for the past week about baking something using the pears she had bought (and not eaten due to the fact that she couldn't get a good grip on them because of her dentures, sorry Mum) a couple of weeks back. I spent an evening look for a recipe to use the pears in only to find mainly puddings rather than cakes, which wasn't what I was looking for. I thought back to my old favourite, the banana bread and wondered if by substituting some of the bananas for pears it would work as well. I can happily say it worked so perfectly, I surprised even myself! The pictures in this post are awful quality, I apologize for that. I honestly didn't think this would work as well as it did. My first taste of this bread made me sure that I had to share this recipe. This recipe makes two loaves but it's pretty easy to half the ingredients if you just want one. Happy baking!

What you will need:
2 bananas
6 pears
450g self raising flour
225g white sugar
225g brown sugar
225g butter
80ml milk
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp ground cinnamon 
2 tsp ground ginger 
50g walnuts 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease two loaf tins with some butter and line the base with baking parchment.
  2. Chop up your bananas and pears into chunks and then mash them together.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl.
  4. Beat together the eggs, milk, butter and vanilla.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, and mix together
  6. Then add the pears and bananas.
  7. Pour the mixture into your tins and bake for an hour, or until your skewer/knife comes out clean.  Transfer your bread to a wire rack and allow to cool. Enjoy!

Tips: Make sure your pears are soft and ripe, you don't want chunks of pear in your bread!
The cinnamon and ginger are very noticeable in the bread so if you would rather they weren't add one teaspoon of each, instead of two!