30 December 2012

Best Of: My Favourite Products of 2012

Before I get into this post I just wanted to say a huge thank you to the wonderful Steph from Bonjour Belle  who designed my blog for me! I absolutely love it and I cannot recommend her enough if you're looking to have your blog designed.

x

As this year draws to a close I thought it would be the perfect time to look back on my favourite products of the year.


Primer: NYX Studio Perfect Photo-Loving Anti-Redness Primer

This corrective primer cancels out redness in the skin whilst providing a silky base for your makeup to glide over, keeping it in place all day/night or under the hot studio lights of a photo shoot. A little goes a long way with this primer and I thoroughly recommend the entire range.

Honourable mentions: Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, Illamasqua Matt/Satin Primers

Foundation: NARS Sheer Glow

This has been my Holy Grail foundation for a good two/three years now. I've tried others, I've spent months using others, but I always return to my beloved Sheer Glow. For me it is the perfect foundation. It gives me the coverage I want, the finish I like and it doesn't break my skin out. Everyone should find their perfect foundation and for me, this is it.

Honourable mentions: MAC Face and Body, L'Oreal Lumi Magique

Concealer: DermaColour Camouflage Palette

As a makeup artist I swear by my DermaColour Camouflage palette to cover and correct. Derma is a thick, full coverage concealer however you can mix it in with a liquid foundation or moisturiser to thin it out a little or simply warm it up on the back of your hand and lightly wash over the area it is needed. It's incredibly pigmented so a little goes an exceptionally long way.

Honourable mentions: Collection Lasting Perfection, Vichy Dermablend

Blusher: Illamasqua 'Ambition'

Of all the blushers I own and believe me they are many, Ambition by Illamasqua is the one I love the most. It's my go-to blush and it works with every single look. It's a neutral shade with shimmer and it catches the light so beautifully and works well with my skin tone.

Honourable mentions: Benefit 'Coralista', MAC 'Peaches', Illamasqua 'Sophie'

Face power: MAC Select Sheer Pressed Powder

I rediscovered my love for this pressed powder earlier this year when I was restocking my kit and I've hardly been parted from it since. I use NC20 despite being an NW as I like to flatten the skin with a yellow tone and this powder creates a flawless base without being heavy or cakey.

Honourable mentions: Rimmel Stay Matte, Chanel Loose Powder

Bronzer: Chanel Soleil de tan de Chanel Bronzing Base

The product formally known as Bronze Universal has been my bronzer of choice this year. In the summer I wore it alone on the high points of my face to create a bronzed look and in winter I wear it buffed onto the tops of my cheekbones to add a bit of warmth to my skin (I am so pale I am practically translucent).

Honourable mention: NARS Laguna

Highlighter: MAC Soft and Gentle

Soft and Gentle had been sitting unloved on my dressing table for some time when I saw a picture of my friend Hayley wearing the most gorgeous highlight on her cheeks, I instantly asked her what it was and was thrilled to hear it was Soft and Gentle. I rediscovered my love for it and I haven't been without it since!

Honourable mention: MAC Pearl CCB, Illamasqua Intense Pigment 'Furore'

Eyeshadow: Illamasqua Neutral Palette

The Illamasqua Neutral Palette has been one of the best cosmetic products launched in 2012 in my humble opinion. There are four colours in the palette: Stealth (a matte creamy white), Vintage (a divine gold that looks like liquid metal), Wolf (a warm toned brown) and Obsidian (the blackest black I have ever used). Illamasqua shadows in general, not just this palette, are absolutely divine. They're super pigmented, a dream to blend and the colour spectrum is just immense.

Honourable mention: MUA single shadows

Mascara: Rimmel Extra Super Lash

I picked this up on a whim earlier in the year on a mad dash to Boots before a makeup job. I didn't expect to love it as much as I do; it separates, lengthens and defines my lashes just the right amount. One coat is perfect but two creates a dramatic evening look. It also helps to perfectly blend false lashes and it does look clumpy.

Honourable mentions: Illamasqua Masquara

Eyeliner: Illamasqua Medium Pencil

As much as I love a liquid or gel liner, my pick for 2012 is the Illamasqua medium pencils - not only are they multi-purpose (they can be used on the lip or anywhere else on the face), the colours are great and they blend like a dream and stay put all day long, even in the waterline.

Honourable mentions: MAC, Elizabeth Arden

Lipstick: Illamasqua

If I'm ever looking for a new lipstick now, and let's be honest - am I ever not looking for a new lipstick? - the first place I look is Illamasqua. The colour range is divine, they're exceptionally well pigmented and they're super long lasting, basically everything you could want in a lipstick.

Honourable mentions: MAC, Chanel

Lip Liner: Rimmel London Exaggerate Automatic Lip Pencil

This may be a controversial choice as the shade range is very limited (it contains only five shades) but Eastend Snob has been my nude lip liner of the year. The pencils have a soft texture and they don't feel remotely drying. The colour payoff is brilliant and they can be worn alone or under a lipstick, I do both.

Honourable mentions: MAC, Illamasqua Medium Pencils

Lip Gloss: Chanel

I simply love Chanel lip gloss; they're never sticky nor gloopy, they're long wearing and I love the colour range available. The soft scent is enchanting and the packaging is as sleek and chic as everything else Chanel.

Honourable mention: Bobbi Brown

What were your favourite products of 2012?

Vicky x


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28 December 2012

Victoria's Secret Bombshell Sparkle



Victoria's Secret brought out three limited edition holiday variations on their signature Bombshell fragrance this Christmas: Bombshell Diamonds, Bombshell Platinum and Bombshell Sparkle.

As you can see I picked up Bombshell Sparkle, a 50ml eau de parfum that is a delightful mix of lotus flower, winter woods and luminous peony. Now I'm by no means a fragrance expert but I know what I like and I like this. It's both warm yet fresh and it's like no scent I've tried before.



The bottle could have been made just for me. It's pink, it's sparkly and I love the shape and design. It's so hard to capture the beauty of the bottle in photos, the above picture was taken without flash, but it really is lovely. Pink sparkles can lean towards tacky but I don't get that from this bottle at all.


As it is part of the holiday collection, Bombshell Sparkle as with the other two fragrances, sadly it is limited edition so once it's gone, it's gone.

I picked it up for £24 in the Victoria's Secret sale where it was 50% off (£48 RRP). There is a body mist and a scented body lotion that compliment the scent available separately. Victoria's Secret are also selling a set with the full sized perfume, a travel size and a body wash and lotion for £32 at 50% off (£64 RRP).

Fragrance is a really personal thing and unique to every individual but I'd definitely suggest checking out the Victoria's Secret perfumes and body mists if you get the chance, I really like them.

Have you tried Victoria's Secret fragrances? Which are you favourites?

Vicky x
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26 December 2012

Outfit Inspiration: New Years Eve Dresses



Christmas may be over but the parties are far from finished. With New Years Eve rapidly approaching here are a few of my favourite dresses for the big night. I scheduled this post before Christmas so many of these items may now be in the sale and if there's one thing I love more than a dress it's a dress on sale!

Oasis Embellished Dress
I picked this gorgeous dress out just before Christmas as one of my presents and I'm so glad I did. The green is a stunning colour and unlike anything I own. The half embellished neckline and open back are super unique and the dress feels really well made. As gorgeous as this dress currently looks with black tights and ankle boots, it's going to be a beautiful dress to wear in summer too.

Warehouse Feather Hem Dress
With it's chiffon and velvet panelling, keyhole opening at the back and feather skirt this dress ticks tonnes of fashion boxes. Factor in that it feels really well made (I've admired it for a long time but I'm not sure I can pull it off) and you've got the perfect party dress that will see you through many more nights on the tiles.

Topshop Knitted Strap Back Bodycon Dress
I love the colour of this Topshop dress and the cutout detailing on the back is a subtle nod to the cutout trend that's been everywhere this year. I think this would look gorgeous with a pair of killer heels and a cute clutch bag.

Nina Sequin Dress by Jones and Jones
This daring red dress is one for the braver ladies amongst us - it's certainly eye catching! I love the colour and cut of this dress. As with many dress by Jones and Jones, the dress has a fitted waist and a big skirt supported by meshing. I personally adore this style and think it's super flattering and girlie.

Lipsy VIP Waxed Lace Feather Dress
I love Lipsy for party dresses and this nude lace and feather dress ticks a tonne of boxes for me. Firstly the lace and feather are super on trend, secondly the colour is right up my street despite my inability to avoid spilling things down myself even at the grand old age of 22 and finally because you can wear it all year round with different accessories or colours.



AX Paris Sequin Kick Out Dress
I saw this dress in New Look about a month ago and it was love at first sight. I have the AX Paris Lace Kick Out Dress and I just adore the style and the full skirt and nothing says party like sequins - it'll be your LDB for many parties to come.

Celeb Boutique 'Fergie Remix' Coral Bandage Dress
This dress is inspired by the gorgeous creation Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas wore some time last year. The colour is absolutely stunning and I love the fringe accent detail. Celeb Boutique dresses are really well made and this dress is perfect for a party. I've ordered it myself!

Monsoon Lavinia Flapper Dress
Monsoon probably isn't the first place people under a certain age look for a dress but there's one at the tube station I pass through to go to work and I always have a little browse which is how I discovered this classy little flapper dress. Pictures don't do the beautiful beading and sequin detail on this dress justice. The colour and shape are exceptionally flattering and this dress would look perfect with a red lip or a traditional 1920s look.

French Connection Alexis Sequin Dress
This dress reminds me of the exceptionally popular Samantha Dress that French Connection sold last year but with it's long sleeves, slightly burnished colouring and a more subtle neckline, it's like the grown up Samantha dress. French Connection are always one of my first stops for dresses, they're pricey but the quality is just superb; they'll last ages!

Warehouse Studded Bodice Dress
This is a twist on the classic LBD and it certainly caught my eye when browsing Warehouse both in store and online. I just love the back of this dress, it's always the little details that make a dress for me.


Whatever you do for the remainder of the Christmas period I hope you have a wonderful time and a happy, healthy New Year.

Vicky x

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21 December 2012

NOTD: Festive Fingers



As I'm working all weekend (boo, hiss and sob) I thought I'd do my Christmas nails today. It's my first attempt at any sort of nail art and it's fair to say I don't have the patience or flair for working in such a small space!

I decided to just do my ring finger on each hand, on the other nails I used Barry M 150 'Red Glitter'.


Yes I know, I need a good cuticle oil/cream - suggestions? 

I used Barry M 66 'Matt White' as a base all over the nail. I used Nina Ultra Pro 'Beige-a Vu' for my reindeer and Nina Ultra Pro 'Call the Coppers' for the antlers. Sadly the beautiful copper colour didn't translate as well here. I used a black nail art pen to dot two eyes on and a little dot of my Barry M red for the nose.

Vicky x
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19 December 2012

Luxury Wish List #1



I decided to put together a little list of the luxury items I would love to own but sadly don't. I thought I would put them on here so I can come back and look at this post whenever I need a little added motivation to work harder or save more!

Aspinal of London 'Marylebone Tote'
I've long admired the Aspinal of London pieces and think that owning one of them would finally make me feel like an actual proper grown up. This bag is far from cheap but it's a timeless classic, an investment if you will, and I'll be saving up for it next year.

Mulberry iPhone Cover
I would be utterly lost without my iPhone so I think it deserves a safe and stylish little home rather than being shoved in my pocket. Another piece that I see as an investment, this is a little luxury treat that's slightly more affordable.

Christian Louboutin Decollete 100 Patent Leather Pumps
A predictable choice but for years I've dreamed of owning a pair of Louboutins. I've heard they're not the most comfortable footwear but I think they'd be the perfect grown up work shoe. One day I will eventually make the transition from embellished pumps to proper ladylike Louboutins... one day!

Ray-Ban cat eye acetate sunglasses
I love sunglasses and as someone who wears glasses and contact lenses (not at the same time of course) I see all eye protection as an investment and I love these Ray-Bans. I've never been very drawn to the Wayfarers or Aviators as I don't feel they suit my face shape but these cat eye sunglasses have the beautiful elevation and elongation that screams Jackie O and 50s glamour.

Apple iPad
I've wanted an iPad since they were first launched but never thought I'd be able to use one! Since getting my iPhone earlier this year I've fallen in love with Apple products and would love to get my hands on an iPad particularly as I do travel outside of London quite a lot and it would be nice to have something to occupy me on long train journeys/flights rather than lugging a heavy laptop (and often a makeup and hair kit) around with me.

Apple MacBook Pro
The product I am least likely to get my hands on in the foreseeable future. As with many things, I've wanted a MacBook for quite some time now but I've never been able to justify the price and I find it quite an intimidating piece of technology however after having a little play with one at a friends, I am totally sold.

Michael Kors Rose Gold Chronograph Watch
The world and his wife seem to love Michael Kors watches and I'm no different. I have really tiny wrists and always thought the large face would be too overpowering on my little wrists however I tried this watch on a few weeks ago and it didn't look too large at all.

Smythson Notebook
Another one of my 'grown up' and 'investment' purchases. Smythson notebooks are so undeniably chic and classic. I admit it is a lot of money to spend on a notebook and you could arguably get something that looks the same from Paperchase which is probably why this will always stay on my wishlist until I can justify it (if ever!) but I would absolutely love to own one.


Which luxury items are you lusting over?

Vicky x
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18 December 2012

BBloggersXmas Meet Up

As you're probably aware by now, the lovely Lola and Victoria organised and hosted the most fabulous Christmas blogger meet up at the Reebok Bar in Canary Wharf on Saturday.

There were talks and the most amazing hand massages from Aromatherapy Associates; a presentation from Soap Box PR on the brands Twisted Sista, Bad Apple and Diva hair styling tools; OPI manicures and quite possibly the best cake pops I have ever eaten!

The total lack of pictures proves that I am still very much a blogging novice, I was too into talking to people and attempting to complete my quiz that I didn't even think to take photos!

We all left with utterly fabulous goody bags and some lovely ladies were lucky enough to win prizes on the day. The prizes and the goody bags were all beyond generous and far more than I could have imagined.

I took a quick snap on my iPhone yesterday morning as I wanted to fit everything in one picture, there will be reviews on everything though so you'll get to see it all in more detail very soon.



The goody bags included: LUSH Santa's Sack bubble bar, Lipcote sealer, DHC cleansing oil, Twisted Sista curl activator, Sleek Sparkle 2 palette, Xen Tan dark lotion sample, Witch skin clearing primer and more!

We also received a food goody bag which I was beyond excited about - food is definitely the way to my heart!


Firstly I nearly squealed with delight when I saw a bag of Popchips in there, they are my new obsession! I discovered the Sour Cream and Onion (I think?) in Sainburys a few weeks ago and it was love at first bite. I received Sea Salt and Pepper in my goody bag and I'll be picking those up on the weekly shop!

I'd never heard of ProperCorn before and I've never been much of a fan of salty popcorn but when offset by the sweet it is the most amazing combination.

The Little Miracles drink was a pleasant surprise for me and reminded me of Vitamin Water which I love!

I'd like to thank Lola and Victoria, not just for the generous goody bags, but for the immense and obvious effort that went into organising the day. They did a fantastic job and it was so lovely to meet so many other bloggers, especially as my blog is a baby in comparison to everyone else but they could not have been nicer.

I'd also like to give a quick mention to some of the lovely ladies I met on Saturday, they're absolutely lovely and I suggest you check them out! Abi, Emma, Janine and Tash

Vicky x
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16 December 2012

Bake of the Week: Red Velvet Rudolph Reindeer Cupcakes


After the #bbloggersxmas meet up yesterday (more on that tomorrow!) I was feeling quite festive today so I decided that I would do some Christmas themed cupcakes and what better than red velvet reindeer?!

As always, I made 12 cupcakes. I made six Rudolph's and six traditional red velvet cupcakes.


You will need


  • 12 cupcake or muffin cases
  • Two six hole or one 12 hole muffin tray
  • Piping bag
Ingredients - for the cupcakes

  • 120g unsalted butter
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 20g good quality cocoa powder
  • 40ml red food colouring - the better the quality the better the colour of your cakes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence 
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 240ml buttermilk
Ingredients - for the buttercream icing 

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 400g icing sugar
  • A drop of vanilla essence 
Ingredients - for the chocolate buttercream 

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • A drop of vanilla essence
  • A dash of milk



Instructions

1. Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees. Line a 12 hole muffin tray.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together using an electric whisk. For best results, do this for at least five minutes until the butter and sugar are combined, light and fluffy. 

3. Break the eggs into the bowl one at a time, whisking in between until well combined.

3. Place the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla essence into a small bowl and stir to create a paste. Add this to the cake batter.

4. Sift the flour and salt into a separate bowl. Add half of the flour and salt mix into the cake batter and mix/whisk until well combined.

5. Add half of the buttermilk to the mixture and mix well; add the remaining flour and mix to combine. Finish by adding the remaining buttermilk and mixing well.

6. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases and bake for 20 minutes.

7. a) To make the buttercream icing place the unsalted butter and icing sugar into a bowl with a drop of vanilla essence and whisk until the buttercream is smooth. 

7. b) To make the chocolate buttercream, place the unsalted butter, icing sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla essence and a drop of milk into a bowl and whisk until well combined.

8) Spoon the buttercream icing into the piping bag and pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

To decorate - the traditional red velvet cupcakes

With leftover cake mixture, bake an extra cupcake. When cooled, break into crumbs and sprinkle over the piped buttercream icing. 



To decorate - Rudolph cupcakes 

I used white chocolate drops to create the eyes and black fondant icing to create the pupils and red smarties for the nose however red fondant icing or red M&Ms or even jelly tots would work well.

For the antlers I made and baked some pastry whilst the cakes were cooking and shaped them into all different styled antlers. I melted some of the excess white chocolate drops and dipped the antlers in to create a snowy effect. 


I hope that was easy to follow and as always I'd love to see your results if you make any! I think Bake of the Week will take a break over the Christmas period as I'll mainly be making (and eating) mince pies!

I also reached 50 followers today and wanted to say thank you to eat and every one of you that follows, reads and comments - it means a lot that so many people are interested in my little blog!

Vicky x


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10 December 2012

Liebster Blog Award



I was browsing through my blogger reading list just now when I saw that the lovely Christine from from Little Red Bow had nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award which is just wonderful and she's lovely so I suggest you all check her blog out.

The rules of the Liebster Award are:


  • The award is for bloggers with less than 300 followers.
  • You must link back to the blogger who awarded you.
  • If you are nominated, give 11 random facts about you, answer the 11 questions provided and compile 11 of your own.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers.
I think this is a really lovely idea as it's a great way to discover and share new blogs.

11 Random Facts About Me

  1. I can pull a face that makes me look exactly like The Grinch - attractive. 
  2. I was a junior cheerleader for a UK rugby team when I was 11.
  3. I started a history degree but left after a year because it wasn't my passion.
  4. I'm an only child.
  5. Thanks to my job I love a little flutter in the casino/on sport.
  6. I love the theatre, especially musicals.
  7. I've been a massive sports fan since I was a little girl.
  8. I'm half Irish.
  9. Boxing day is my favourite day of the year.
  10. A few people have suggested/requested I start a YouTube channel to share my professional tips and tricks. I'm thinking about it for the new year.
  11. I love reading.
11 Questions from Christine

1. If you could only own 5 beauty products, what would they be? 
Lip balm, cleanser, moisturiser, foundation and mascara.

2. Do you have any pets?
My mum has a dog and I really want a puppy!

3. What was the first beauty brand you ever bought anything from?
I bought a clear lip gloss from the Body Shop that I was obsessed with!

4. What is your favourite perfume?
Ooh tough one, I love perfume. At the moment it's Estee Lauder Sensuous Nude and Gucci Guilty.

5. Do you have another blog/website and if so what is the link?
I have a professional website for my makeup work, it needs updating but you can find it here.

6. What is your favourite food to make?
I really love making cakes and so forth but in terms of a meal, it's spaghetti bolognese. I love making my own sauce! 

7. Do your close friends and relatives know about your blog?
My blog is still really new so I haven't actually mentioned it to anybody yet! It is on my Twitter though so any friends that follow me on there will have seen it. You can also follow me by clicking here if you want! 

8. What are your favourite bands or singers?
Music isn't really my speciality, certainly not cool music anyway! I like most things in the charts! If I were to name people it'd be: The Overtones, Olly Murs, The Script, Lilygreen & Maguire, Lady Antebellum. I can't really think of anyone else, I've warmed to One Direction and Justin Bieber now too so I really will listen to most things!

9. If you could travel anywhere in the world for a vacation where would you go?
To Australia to see my family and then to Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast.

10. What is one store or item you wish you had where you lived but don't?
Sephora, hands down!

11. How do you discover new blogs to follow?
Twitter #bbloggers chats are amazing for finding new blogs, also comments as I click on every person who comments on my posts and just clicking through other people's! I'm nosey and I like to find new blogs to follow.

My 11 nominations - check them out!

Lola Rose LolaRose

My 11 Questions

1. If you could live in any era or through any single historical moment, what would it be and why? 
2. Which ONE skincare, haircare and cosmetic product would you take with you on a desert island? (one of each!) 
3. What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given? 
4. What is your proudest moment to date? 
5. What is your favourite item of clothing? 
6. What is the story behind your blog? 
7. Where is your dream holiday destination? 
8. If you could invite any five people, living or dead, to a dinner party who would you chose and why?
9. Do you have a party trick? If so, what is it? 
10. What is your pet peeve? 
11. What's the furthest place you've travelled to?


Vicky x



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7 December 2012

Bake of the Week: Jam and Sugared Doughnuts


Today I attempted to make jam and sugared doughnuts. I used Paul Hollywood's recipe from the Great British Bake Off and it was certainly a learning experience!

You really can't beat fresh doughnuts so if you're feeling brave and have a few hours to spare, here's how to make doughnuts!


You will need

  • A deep fat fryer or a deep pan that you can use
  • A piping bag for the icing

Ingredients 
  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 40g unsalted butter, very soft
  • 2 x 7g sachets fast action yeast
  • 10g salt
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 150ml lukewarm milk
  • 130ml lukewarm water
  • Oil for frying
  • Extra caster sugar for rolling
  • A jar of sieved jam

Instructions

1. Place the flour, sugar, butter, yeast, salt, beaten egg, milk and 3/4 of the lukewarm water into a large bowl. Keep the yeast and the salt separate at this stage. Using your hands, begin to mix the ingredients together to combine.

2. Add the remaining water and use your hands to massage the dough. Do this for approximately four minutes until the dough comes together and is soft but not sticky. 

3. Lightly flour your work surface and knead for ten minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave for an hour, until the dough has doubled in size.

4. Once the dough has doubled in size, turn the dough out and knead to knock the air out. Divide it into ten pieces, shape your jam doughnuts into balls and make a hole in the middle of your ring doughnuts and twirl around your finger to shape. 

5. Lightly flour a baking tray (or two) and place your doughnuts on, ensuring they are spaced well apart. Cover again and leave for one hour.

6. Heat your pan of oil or deep fat fryer to 180 degrees. Carefully place a few doughnuts into the hot fat and leave to fry for five minutes before turning to cook the other side. The ring doughnuts take less time to keep an eye on them. Both sides should be lightly golden.

Side note - if you're using a hot pan like I was, it's a lot harder to regulate the temperature and my first few attempts were horribly burned. After this I took the pan off the heat and allowed it to cool slightly before cooking the rest on a lower temperature. 

7. Remove the doughnuts from the pan with a slotted spoon and roll immediately in caster sugar to coat.

8. When the doughnuts have cooled, sieve the jam to remove any seeds or lumps and place into a piping bag. Use a small knife to make a slight incision in the doughnut and place the piping bag inside, filling generously with jam.


I'd certainly suggest you're careful when you're baking these. In the process I broke a thermometer (after placing it in water whilst it was hot!), burnt myself on spitting fat and set the smoke alarm off when my first few attempts went wrong!

I'd love to hear your stories or see your pictures if you make these!

Vicky x
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4 December 2012

Hair Tutorial: Elegant Hair Up for Medium to Long Hair


This braided up-do, modelled by the lovely Pippa - isn't she just a doll? is one of my go to styles for hair up. It's simple yet effective and can be worn loose for a more relaxed look.


Firstly, let me introduce you to Pippa: she is by far the most patient model I've worked with. She sits perfectly still, doesn't scream if you accidentally pull her hair and never stops to take a phone call!

I picked Pippa up in Sally's earlier this year to practice my hair up. I know a lot of places that offer hair training to go alongside makeup but they can be exceptionally expensive and I'd rather learn in my own time and at my own pace. Thankfully there's a wealth of YouTube and blog tutorials out there showing you how to achieve all sorts of hair styles which I've found to be incredibly helpful.

It might be slightly creepy for you guys to see hairstyles modelled on a floating head but my hair is black and practically impossible to photograph so despite being a fellow brunette, Pippa decided she'd make her blog debut.

Five Minute Miracle: Braided Hair Up


You will need
  • Medium to long hair, preferably not freshly washed
  • A few hair elastic bands in a complementary colour
  • Some hair/kirkby grips to secure
  • Long tailed comb
  • Hairspray to set
Step One

Brush through the lengths of your hair and using a long tailed comb select a position for your parting. A side parting works best for this look and would help to flatter a side fringe if you have one. 

Step Two


Starting on one side of the head, section the hair into three and begin a French plait/braid. On this side of the head I opted to bring the outer (3) and inner (1) strands over the middle (2) strand. With a French plait you need to pick up an additional piece of hair as you braid, I pick up my inner (1) strand. 


Braid towards the back of the ear, picking up thicker strands as you go to create a softer, less structured look. For a perfectly polished, tighter finish ensure the strands are the same width the whole way. 

When you reach the back of the ear continue to plait normally until you reach the ends of the hair. Secure with an elastic. 

Step Three

Repeat the same process on the other side of the head. If you've gone for a side parting you will have less hair to braid this side. 

Step Four


Once you've braided both sides, pull to the back of the head and secure with an elastic, as though you were creating a ponytail just using the braids.

Step Five


Gather the remaining hair together with the braids and begin to secure as though you were creating a ponytail. As you twist the elastic for the final time, do not pull the hair fully through. This will create something that resembles the above picture. If you have long hair, you will need to begin this process on your second turn so that you're left with two 'mini buns' so as to avoid ends.

Step Six


Use your fingers to create a hole in the hair at the place where you secured the two plaits together.

Put the little bun into this hole, ensuring all ends are tucked in and distribute evenly, using hair grips to secure.

Douse with hairspray. 

And you're done! 



You can leave the hair as it is or you could add accessories into the middle - I've used this style for weddings and have added jewelled clips, flowers and even a broach to decorate. I think it looks equally as chic without any adornments though a few scattered flowers through loose plaits is a gorgeous spring look.

You could pull pieces out at the front to frame the face or add some backcombing at the crown - it's so easy to make your mark on this style.

I hope you enjoyed this little hair tutorial and I would absolutely love to see the results if you try it. I think I'll be wearing it to my Christmas party with a red lip!

Vicky x

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2 December 2012

Sunday Shopping Share: Sally's



Sally's were holding a VAT Free day a few weeks ago so I popped along to pick up some lashes and left with a little bit more than I intended!

I am a Sally's Pro card holder so I do receive a professional discount on the products I buy however all prices listed will be the RRP.


OPI 'Elephantastic Pink'

I believe this colour was launched in the OPI India collection a few years ago yet somehow I've never seen it before. It's a warm pink-coral shade, similar to Barry M 'Pink Flamingo'. It's a beautiful summer/holiday colour and I think it'd look great with a tan.

It took two coats to achieve opacity.

OPI Elephantasitc Pink - £11 for 15ml


OPI 'Japanese Rose Garden'

I've been looking for this shade of pink for longer than I care to remember - it's a sophisticated slightly dusky pink with a mauve undertone that gives it a bit of a kick. It's not too dusky which I've found can sometimes translate as being flat and I put that down in part to the mauve undertone which cools and brightens it. There's a very slight shimmer to it that provides a sheen rather than a glittery effect. It's a versatile colour that would also be suitable for work and would compliment all skin tones.

Again, two coats for full opacity.

OPI Japanese Rose Garden - £11 for 15ml 


Sleep-In Rollers Fringe Roller

This was an impulse buy. I usually use velcro rollers to create some volume in my hair and I love the sweeping effect it creates at the front of my hair, it's like getting a professional blow dry, however I've always struggled to wind my fringe around conventional rollers as they're never long enough which was what made me pick this up.

I'm yet to try it so I'll let you know my thoughts when I do.

Sleep-In Rollers Fringe Roller - £4.50 (I think!)


Nina Ultra Pro 'Lilac-ing Discipline'

I think Nina Ultra Pro nail polishes are new to Sally's as I've never seen them in my local store before and with the variety of colours I definitely wouldn't have missed them! 

This is a beautiful, creamy nail polish and the perfect glossy lilac shade. 

Opaque after just one coat, I still applied two.

Nina Ultra Pro Lilac-ing Discipline - £3.98 for 14ml


Nina Ultra Pro 'Purple Xing'

This is a purple based polished packed full of multi-tonal glitter that makes it a really unique shade. Despite being packed full of chunky glitter it was exceptionally easy to remove and lasted well without chipping. The texture when applied, as with most glitter polishes, was quite gritty however a good top coat later and that was solved.

Again, opaque after just one coat however I did apply two.

Nina Ultra Pro Purple Xing - £3.98 for 14ml

I'll definitely be purchasing more of the Nina Ultra Pro range, the colours are stunning and the formula and brush are superb. Not to mention the fact that they're an absolute bargain!

I also managed to pick up some lashes...



Liz Martins Inspire Strip Lashes

Liz Martins is a celebrity makeup artist and lash guru, having created lashes for the Girls Aloud tours, Liz now has a range of lashes exclusive to Salon System. 

I'd heard a lot of good things about the Liz Martins lashes but I'd struggled to find them for sale anywhere and I'd always rather see something in person rather than buying off of the internet where possible. I chose the Inspire lashes because I love the way they're designed; the layering, lengthening and sweep at the outer corner is everything I look for in a lash. They also have some sparkly bits on there that caught my eye.

Liz Martins Inspire Strip Lashes - £4.20


Ardell Natural Demi Wispies Strip Lashes

This was a repurchase for me, Ardell Demi Wispies are one of my favourite pairs of lashes of all time. They're so light and feathery and just utterly divine. They look exceptionally natural and I've worn them during the day as well as a night time - they're so versatile.

Ardell Natural Demi Wispies Strip Lashes - £3.19


I can get a bit carried away in Sally's and I already have a list of things I need to purchase next time they have a VAT free day!

Hope you have a lovely weekend.

Vicky x
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30 November 2012

NOTD: Essie 'Leading Lady'

Bottom row: Left - one coat; Right - two coats.


Apologies for the iPhone pictures but I was SO excited by this nail polish that I couldn't wait to share it with you!

Whilst doing my Christmas shopping earlier I found myself, as I often do, aimlessly wandering around the cosmetics section when I spotted the Essie stand. I always take a look but I own so many nail polishes (seriously, I have issues) that most of the time I'm looking for something different to catch my eye or something to really jump out at me. I don't want to jump onto a trend colour just because everyone else is when I've got at least three similar shades at home!

I do not own any nail polish like this, it's a deep red base, not black, with red glitter and it is beaaaaautiful. It's perfectly opaque after one coat and applied like a dream. I've applied it over fake nails so I won't be able to update with an accurate idea on how it withstands chipping but just from the application I get the feeling it is quite a good polish.

Leading Lady is delightfully festive and the perfect party colour. I think I'm now an Essie convert! 

What are your favourite Essie shades; any must haves I should know about? 

Vicky x
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Bake of the Week: Oreo Cupcakes


Earlier this week I decided to make Oreo cupcakes for the first time and I loved them so much I thought I'd share the recipe with you all.

When I was looking for a recipe for these cupcakes every recipe I found included a chocolate cake however I knew it was possible to make an Oreo cake so I decided to have a little play with ingredients and I loved the result.

The following recipe makes 12 cupcakes. I opted for six Oreo cakes and six chocolate cakes.

Oreo Cupcake Recipe 

You will need
  • 12 cupcake cases
  • Two six hole or one 12 hole muffin tray
  • Piping bag
Ingredients - for the cakes
  • 125g plain flour
  • 145g caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 125ml whole milk
  • 1 egg (mine was medium)
  • Few drops of vanilla extract
  • 5 crushed Oreo's // 20g high quality cocoa powder
Ingredients - for the icing
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter at room temperature 
  • Splash of whole milk
  • 6 crushed Oreo's 

Instructions 

1. Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees.

2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and butter into a large bowl and using an electric whisk, whisk until you create a sand like texture. You may find the butter doesn't break down as fine but that's not a problem. 

3. Place the milk, vanilla extract and the egg into a jug and slowly whisk by hand until well blended. 

4. Add half of the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Slowly add the remaining half of the milk mixture and whisk again until everything is well blended.

5. If you're making some Oreo cakes and some chocolate cakes, now is the time to split the mixture into two separate bowls.

6. Crush your Oreo biscuits - after viciously attacking a bag of Oreo's with a rolling pin on my kitchen floor I can confirm that this is not the best way to do it! Place your Oreo biscuits into a food processor and whizz until finely chopped. 

7. Place your crushed Oreo biscuits into one half of the cake mixture and stir until well combined. Place your cocoa powder into the remaining half of the mixture and stir to combine. 

8. Spoon your cake mixture into your cupcake cases and bake for 15-25 minutes. The chocolate cupcakes take 15 minutes whilst the Oreo cupcakes take 25 minutes so it's best to have two separate pans of six hole tins. Your cakes should be firm on the top but soft in the centre - do not over cook or they'll go hard.

9. Place your icing sugar, butter and a dash of milk into a large bowl and whisk with an electric whisk to create your butter cream icing. My whisk decided to explode prior to this so I had to make the butter cream by hand which I don't recommend doing! 

10. Whizz your 6 Oreo biscuits in the food processor until finely ground and add them to your butter cream icing. Stir briskly to combine the two.

11. Fill a piping bag full of the icing and pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

12. Top with mini, halved or crushed Oreo biscuits if you wish.

I hope that was easy to follow and I hope you enjoy making and eating these as much as I did. I made mine to take to work and they were very well received. The Oreo cakes are my personal favourites as they have a bit of crunch to them.

If you make these I'd love to see pictures or hear your baking experience.

Vicky x
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28 November 2012

Review: Ojon Damage Reverse Shampoo and Conditioner


Earlier this month I saw a code flying about on Twitter that entitled you to a full size Ojon shampoo and conditioner with the purchase of any product. I'm not normally one to jump on anything like this but I've wanted to try Ojon for quite some time so I raced to the website, winced as I paid £18 for dry shampoo and waited patiently for my new goodies to arrive.

I'd never really invested much into my hair because it's never really been in a horrific condition but after having six inches cut off of it earlier this year where I'd not paid it any TLC I was determined to grow my hair back and have it healthy and strong. Fortunately I spent some time earlier this year working in a high end salon and spa where I had my eyes opened to hair care and some amazing products.

It was love at first use. As I said, I've never been too into my hair care so as long as my hair was clean after washing I was happy but this shampoo and conditioner are honestly amazing. My hair has never felt so clean and it's been years since it's looked so healthy and shiny.

I normally wash my hair every other day however I can go three days without washing it when I've used the Ojon shampoo and conditioner which may sound slightly gross but I'm told it's good for your hair to not wash it as often.

I can't say whether or it's restored any damage, certainly not in the short space I've time I've been using it, but my hair looks and feels stronger. I'm at the hairdressers on Monday so I'll ask her what she thinks and I'll update this post then.

Ojon Damage Reverse Shampoo and Conditioner - £20 each for 250ml

Do you have any Ojon favourites to recommend?


Vicky x
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22 November 2012

How To: Festive Gingerbread House


I wasn't sure if this would be the best place to post this but I had such a great reaction to this little gingerbread house I made yesterday on Twitter and Facebook as well as requests to write how I made it that I thought I would.

Yesterday was more of a practice run for me for Christmas so my focus was less on decoration and more on the gingerbread house and assembly. I did make a few little decorations, a marshmallow snowman family and a chocolate reindeer but I ate them before the house had set... If you're interested I'll post some instructions on how I made them when I do my 'proper' gingerbread house for Christmas.


Let me first share with you my secret weapon: this fairy tale cottage mould from Lakeland. The mould itself isn't overly festive so it can be used on other occasions; for example it would make a great chocolate house for a children's party or a haunted house on Halloween - the possibilities are endless.

Gingerbread Recipe

You will need 
  • Lakeland Fairy Tale House mould or a gingerbread house template 
  • A baking tray

Ingredients
  • 180g of butter (I used unsalted)
  • 125g brown sugar 
  • 300g golden syrup or treacle 
  • 500g plain flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • Extra flour for rolling

Instructions 

1. Pre-heat your oven to 170 degrees.

2. Melt butter in a large pan over a low heat - make sure you do use a large pan, it's not wasteful as you will see later. When the butter has melted stir in the sugar and the golden syrup, remove from the heat and continue to stir.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the large pan and mix until everything is blended into a thick golden dough.
4.Lightly flour your work surface, tip the dough out and knead until well combined. If you are using the mould, tear off pieces of dough and press into the mould carefully. If you are using a template roll out to the desired thickness and cut your shapes.

5. Bake the gingerbread for 25-35 minutes, until it is firm to the touch - it will become crispy as it cools down so you want it firm, not rock hard.

6. If you're using the mould allow the gingerbread to fully cool before removing. If you're using a template, re-size the gingerbread before it cools if needed.

Once your gingerbread has cooled it is time to make the Royal Icing which will act as your glue and then assemble the gingerbread house.


This is what your gingerbread house should look like when removed from the mould. I'll admit that panic did set in at this point - making things has never been my strong point! 


Royal Icing Recipe

You will need
  • Piping bag

Ingredients
  • 500g of icing sugar, sifted 
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar 
  • 3 egg whites

Instructions
1. Sift/sieve (whichever word you prefer!) the icing sugar into a bowl and add the cream of tartar.

2. Separate three egg whites - I found the easiest way to do this was to crack the egg and tip the yellow between the two shells. I have a bit of a thing where I HATE the feel of egg shells and the smell and texture of raw egg makes me feel sick so if I can manage to do this - anyone can!

3. Using an electric whisk, slowly beat the egg whites into the icing sugar/cream of tartar mix until thick, glossy icing is formed. Your icing should be so stiff the whisk should be able to stand alone (once removed from the electric part of course - no icing is THAT strong!!)

4. Add more icing sugar if needed to stiffen the mixture.

5. Spoon into a piping bag and twist the top closed.

Assembling Your Gingerbread House

You will need

  • A cake board (10 or 12 inches depending on how many decorations you wish to add - mine was 12 inches)
  • Some mugs or glasses
  • Large amounts of patience

Instructions

1. Begin with the front of your house - pipe icing along the base of the house and position on the board. Use kitchen mugs or glasses to hold the panel in place.

2. Add one side of the house - pipe icing along the short side that will connect with the front of the house and along the base of the panel. Position on the board and secure with a mug. Repeat for the other side.

3. For the back of the house pipe icing along the bottom of the panel and along the edge of the flat sides that will connect with the other walls. Secure with a mug and leave to set for 20-30 minutes.

This is what it should look like - at this point you have to ask the Christmas Elves to make sure nobody wants tea or coffee - or hide the kettle! 

Adding the roof

The roof looks like the trickiest part and with good reason, you can't use mugs as you did for the walls and if you apply too much pressure then your whole house might collapse, too little and the roof won't stick.

4. Place the roof on one panel at a time. Pipe icing down the slated sides of the front and back of the house and along the top of the wall. Place the roof panel and press into place - holding gentle for 30-60 seconds.
Repeat for the other side.

5. If there is a gap in your roof at the top (there was in mine) - fill this with piped icing. I also used this as a chance to add some decoration.
Your gingerbread house is now assembled! Next up is the decoration at that's really up to the individual.


I opted to cut up some candy canes to use as a fence and to decorate the sides and roof of my house. I also made a gingerbread tree which I covered in green ready-to-roll icing and silver balls. I added a handmade Christmas wreath to the front door and dusted the whole thing with icing sugar. 

The whole thing is far easier than I had expected and I'm just sorry that I put off making it for so long for fear it would fail!

If you have any questions please ask, I'm only to happy to answer them! Also, if you make a gingerbread house, or have made one already, leave me a picture as I'd love to see it!


Vicky x
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20 November 2012

Revealed: Inside my Selfridges Lucky Bag



When I heard about the concept of the Selfridges Beauty Workshop Lucky Bag I instantly loved it. I find the whole 'beauty box' thing and the subscription element too restricting so a Lucky Bag with a one off payment really appealed to me. Also, the fact it was from Selfridges caught my eye, a brand that for me is synonymous with luxury and quality would surely nail this, wouldn't they?!

I was reasonably pleased with my Lucky Bag and judging by what some received I do think I was quite lucky!

So, what was in my Lucky Bag?


Tweezerman Matchbox 'Itty Bitty' Nail Files, Violent Eyes 'Bronze Glitterati', OCC Lip Tar, Beauty Junky strawberry face mask, St Tropez Gradual Tan sample and a Creme Brulee duck lip balm.

Tweezerman Matchbox 'Itty Bitty' Nail Files


You never know when you're going to need a nail file (or several - impromptu manicures anyone?) so this handy little packet is great for throwing into your handbag.

OCC Lip Tar 'Demure'


I adore the OCC Lip Tars and have several in my kit. They seem to be quite difficult to get hold of here in the UK so I was so pleased to find this in my Lucky Bag and the shade is absolutely gorgeous (swatch to follow).

Beauty Junky Strawberry Face Mask


I haven't tried this yet so I cannot comment on the quality of the product itself but on appearance alone this is the one item that left me deflated - it just looks tacky. Now I could be wrong in judging a book by its cover or rather a face mask by its packaging but this didn't jump out to me. 

Violent Eyes 'Bronze Glitterati' 


I've wanted to try these eye shadow transfers for some time now but the makeup artist in me is very sceptical and cynical about them however that doesn't deter my curiosity but until now the price tag did so I was really pleased to find this in my Lucky Bag and I can't wait to try them out and review them.

St Tropez Everyday Body Moisturiser Gradual Tan


I picked up a few of these with ELLE magazine earlier in the year as I find them really handy for keeping my (fake) tan topped up between applications. 

Creme Brulee Duck Lip Balm


The novelty item of the Lucky Bag, it's a glittery duck that contains a lip balm. Most people would probably find this a bit naff but I happen to like it. 


All in all I don't think my Lucky Bag was too bad and I think the concept was great if not particularly well executed. With only 1000 bags available there was an opportunity to take this to another level and really make it something you'd expect from Selfridges - this to me could really have been a Lucky Dip from Boots or Superdrug. 

Did anyone else purchase one of the Lucky Bags? If so, leave me your link below, I'd love to see what you received.

Vicky x
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15 November 2012

BeautyMart at Harvey Nichols


When I first heard about the BeautyMART concession launching in Harvey Nichols I was on a train to Manchester listening in to someone else's conversation and I could not have been more excited by the concept - of the BeautyMART that is and not eavesdropping on public transport!

If you're not already familiar with the BeautyMART (and it's regional counterparts) let me fill you in: it's a selection of carefully edited beauty products from around the world selected by Millie Kendall (of Ruby and Millie fame) and former beauty director Anna-Marie Solowijj. Together they've used their wealth of industry knowledge, experience and insight to bring together some of the biggest names and cult brands. As it is a selective edit the BeautyMART does not stock the entire range of any brand, rather a product or a small selection of products.

Yesterday I finally made my way to the Third Floor of Harvey Nics and after much meandering, what can I say; I'm a Harrods girl at heart and my previous visits to Harvey Nics have never extended past Wagamama on the lower ground floor... Anyway, I finally found the directional stickers on the floor and lo-and-behold, the BeautyMART itself.

At this point I'd like to say that upon my discovery of the BeatyMART I felt a moment of enlightenment but I didn't; my first impression wasn't 'wow, I've found my beauty shopping heaven' but 'wow, isn't it tiny?!' - I've seen shops afford more floor space to their jewellery stands which was a disappointment as the beauty hall on the ground floor was wonderfully designed and very spacious - on the third floor I nearly ended up in a rack of jumpers looking at cleanser!

Anyway, on to what I bought!


Bioderma Crealine H20

I'm pretty sure you've all seen and heard about Bioderma before so I'll not bore you with the same declaration of love you've no doubt heard or made yourself. 


I picked up this handy little 100ml bottle so that I don't have to carry around my big bottle if I go away for the night or weekend. It's super handy to have, it's within the restrictions for flying and I can always decant from my bigger bottle.

As a makeup artist, Bioderma is a Godsend. It is absolute perfection when you've got a long shoot, particularly with a lot of different eye looks as it is so gentle and effective. 

Side Note: I keep reading that Bioderma was previously unavailable to buy in the UK but as my fellow makeup artists will know, this is not the case. Guru Makeup Emporium in Fulham stock a variety of products from both Bioderma and Embryolisse.

Bioderma Crealine H2o - £6.50 for 100ml

EOS Lip Balm Sphere

I bought this product on hype and hype alone, I've heard such good things about it and I love the novelty of the spherical shape and just how different it is.


I decided on Sweet Mint although 'summer fruit', 'lemon drop (with SPF 15)' and 'honeysuckle honeydew' were also available and were heavenly. 

The EOS products are 100% natural and 95% organic and are packed with a range of antioxidants, oils and other goodies to keep your lips soft and moisturised. 

EOS Lip Balm Sphere - £6

BeautyMART is also packed full of products from high street brands including Bourjois, Batiste and Revlon (including limited edition and previously unavailable nail polish colours) as well as many others.

As useful as it is to have your high street and higher end products in the same place, I'd have much more preferred they utilised what little space they have to showcase cult and niche products like Bioderma, Embryolisse and EOS rather than slotting it in around brands you can find on every high street in the country.

With that being said I think the BeautyMART is an excellent concept and I will no doubt visit again when I will hopefully be purchasing some DHC products amongst others. I think I was just expecting something that would really blow me away.

Have you visited the BeautyMART in Harvey Nichols or elsewhere in the UK?

Vicky x

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