24 February 2013

Bake of the Week: Welsh Cakes

Welsh Cakes are a traditional Welsh snack that are super quick and easy to make and taste absolutely divine.

Having lost my voice, I decided there was no better way to spend my Sunday afternoon that baking delicious tea time treats (and watching the football and rugby - what can I say, I can multi-task!).

This recipe makes at least six Welsh cakes depending on how thick you roll the dough and which sized cutters you use.

You Will Need
  • A griddle or large frying pan
  • A rolling pin
  • Round cookie cutters

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 110g salted butter, cut into small squares
  • 1 medium egg
  • Handful of sultanas
  • 85g caster sugar
  • Splash of milk


1. Sieve the flour into a medium bowl and add the diced butter. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

2. Add the sugar and sultanas to the mixture and mix well - I used my hands for this step. Once the fruit and sugar are combined, add the egg and mix until a dough forms.

3. The mixture can be quite dry so add a splash of milk if you need to until the dough comes together in a ball. Once I'd mixed the egg in I used my hands for this step.

4. Turn your dough out onto a lightly floured surface and using a rolling pin, roll out until approximately 1/4 inch thick.

5. Using your cookie cutters cut your Welsh cakes out.

6. Take some butter and grease your griddle or large frying pan and allow it to heat. Once it is hot, place your Welsh Cakes onto the heated surface and cook for 2-3 each side until golden brown. You can cook for longer if you prefer.

7. Dust generously with caster sugar and eat hot or cold!

This was my first time making Welsh Cakes and I was surprised at how quick, easy and delicious they are! I tried a few with jam instead of caster sugar and they were lovely.

As always I'd love to know how you get on if you try these.

Vicky x

23 February 2013

Links, Links, Links!

Just a very quick post to let you know where else you can find me, especially as I know a lot of people don't have or don't like GFC.

Bloglovin Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I'm still trying to get my head around Bloglovin, do you use it? How can I make it work for me?!

Instagram - Beautybloggingbrunette

I decided to keep my blog Instagram separate as I don't want to bore you with my life or my friends with my blog :) If you have Instagram leave me your links in the comments so I can follow you.

Youtube - BeautyBlogBrunette

I'm taking my first tentative steps towards joining the world on YouTube. I've written a list of videos I'd like to film and now I just need to find the confidence and a decent camera! If you have any YouTube tips or suggestions, camera/lighting recommendations please leave them below!

Vicky x

Review: L'Oreal Colour Caresse Shine Stains

The L'Oreal Colour Caresse Lip Stains are one of the most highly anticipated beauty products hitting shelves this Spring (or in my case, February and judging by the snow, yes SNOW, falling outside, it is most definitely not Spring!) so when I spotted them on the L'oreal stand on my lunch break browse of Superdrug I couldn't wait to try them.

From top to bottom: Princess, Marilyn and Romy.

They retail at £7.99 and Superdrug had a 3 for 2 offer across all L'Oreal products so I snapped up three of the seven shades available. 

The packaging is nice and sleek and in keeping with the L'Oreal brand. The clear strip enables you to see the colour of the product (more on that later) and the streamlined shape means it takes up minimal room in your handbag or makeup bag which is a good thing if like mine, yours is bursting at the seams!

The Shine Stains have the typical L'Oreal heart shaped felt applicator and just look how pigments and creamy the product looks!

When I swatched the product on my hand in Superdrug I was super impressed with the pigmentation, especially considering how lightweight the product felt. Even after washing my hands several times that afternoon you could still see faint stripes of colour! 

When applied to the lips the colour is definitely not as strong which I should have expected, hands and lips are two totally different colours and canvases. The stains are very fluid in texture which is typical of a stain and as such can be built up to create a bolder look but be warned, if you're looking for a power pout then these lip stains alone are not the product for you.

Below are some swatches of how the products look on my lips, keep in mind that how they look on you will vary depending on your natural lip colour and tone. Also, apologies for not including a full face image, I'm having HD Brows on Friday and you can't touch them for four weeks prior to the treatment which is not an attractive sight!


When layered, Princess becomes a beautiful tomato orange and when left sheer it is a light coral, perfect for Spring/Summer. 


The name of this Shine Stain baffles me. Marilyn is synonymous with Marilyn Monroe who is automatically associated with red lipstick yet L'Oreal have chosen what looks like Barbie pink in the tube and applies like a rose pink stain. 


Romy is the shade I've been keeping in my handbag. Even layered on it still looks like a natural lip colour which is perfect for work.

As you can see, the colour in the tube is, in my opinion significantly, different to the colour that applies. Part of this will of course be due to the fact the stains are sheer and will vary depending on your natural lip shade however even with lips toned down or totally blanked out I've been unable to get them to match the shade they're shown as being, particularly Marilyn.

Stains are perfect for when you want your lips to last all day without several touch ups and the Shine Stains have pretty good staying power, even after eating and drinking though there is some colour transfer which I put down to the glossy element. I'd say I get at least 6 hours wear before I top up which is usually after lunch.

Mini Overviews
  • On the whole I do like the Shine Stains and I think they'd work great over a lip liner for an all day lip with a little bit more punch than they can achieve on their own. 
  • The Shine Stains do feel lightweight on the lip however the longer you wear them they do start to feel tacky.
  • I've been wearing Marilyn on my cheeks this week for a natural flush and it double up lovely as a cheek tint with the gloss providing a highlight.
  • For those wanting to know if they're a dupe for the YSL Glossy Stain I'm afraid I can't answer as I've never tried the YSL Glossy Stains.

Have you tried the L'Oreal Colour Caresse Shine Stains yet? Which colours and what are your thoughts?

Vicky x


22 February 2013

Behind the Scenes: On Set With Union J

Late last year I assisted makeup artist and my mentor, Nicci Jackson on a shoot with Union J for Bliss magazine. 

Nicci is an international makeup artist with over 15 years experience and the founder of, and tutor at, London MUSE which is where I trained. When she mentioned last year that she was looking for an assistant for a published magazine shoot with Union J I jumped at the chance. 

Assisting is one of the key aspects to a makeup artists career and if I ever feel disheartened with the industry or at a loss I know I can always rely on Nicci to remind me why I love makeup artistry. I really enjoy assisting as it's fantastic experience for any makeup artist to watch, learn and do. 

This was the finished article - Union J for Bliss magazine for Valentine's Day.

Nicci making some minor on set adjustments.

Everyone loves seeing their name in print!

We also shot this cover which unfortunately I can't seem to find anywhere which makes me sad. I'd love to get my hands on it so I'll have to keep looking.

The boys were so easy to work with and had great energy on set. One of the best part about assisting is the amount you learn, it's important to never stop learning and I always learn something new with Nicci.

Vicky x

12 February 2013

Review: Emma Hardie Professional Facial Starter Kit

The Emma Hardie Amazing Face skincare range has taken the beauty blogging world by storm recently with rave review after rave review. Having read such good things about this range and in particular the cult Amazing Face Natural Lift and Sculpt Moringa Cleansing Balm I really wanted to try it but at approximately £34 and with sensitive skin, I wasn't prepared to purchase the full sized product.

Thankfully I joined What's In My Handbag and saw this Professional Facial Starter Kit containing the famous cleansing balm in a sample size, for just £25. I snapped it up and waited patiently for the kit to arrive. 

The set contains: Emma Hardie Dual Action Cleansing Cloth, Emma Hardie Natural Lift and Sculpt Firming Eye Serum (10ml), Emma Hardie Natural Lift and Sculpt Hydrating and Firming Treatment Moisturiser (15ml), Emma Hardie Amazing Face Rosehip Exfoliating Seeds (10g) and Emma Hardie Amazing Face Natural Lift and Sculpt Moringa Cleansing Balm (15ml).

Also included was a leaflet that detailed different types of facial massage that can be incorporated into your skincare routine as well as listing their various benefits which I found to be a nice touch. It was educational and it's good to see a skincare brand really aware of the skin and how it works.

I've been using the products for a month now and here are my thoughts.

Dual Action Cleansing Cloth

Emma Hardie suggests you always remove your Moringa Cleansing Balm with this Dual Action Cleansing Cloth. One side is a muslin cloth and the other a soft micro fibre cloth which together create a buff and polish cloth. The muslin side provides gentle exfoliation whilst the micro fibre side is best suited for delicate areas such as around the eyes.

You immerse the cloth in warm water and wring out the excess (frightfully obvious I know, I do apologies for the Idiot's Guide to using a face cloth!) and use the muslin side to exfoliate and the micro fibre side to polish. I love muslin cloths for cleansing and if I'm honest I found the micro fibre side a little redundant, even with the excess water rung out I found the micro fibre side to be quite heavy which in turn dragged, albeit gently, the skin.

Would I say it was better than a muslin cloth or even a good old fashioned flannel or wash cloth? Not for me, no. My face felt no cleaner after using it than it does after using a muslin cloth or normal flannel.

Dual Action Professional Cleansing Cloths - £10 for three

Emma Hardie Natural Lift and Sculpt Firming Eye Serum

The eye serum was an added bonus for me as I don't really use eye creams or serums (I'm only 22 and whilst there's nothing wrong with getting in early, I'm happy to forgo this step at the moment). A unique blend of natural ingredients and Emma Hardie's famous active marine ingredients combine to create a cooling eye serum designed to alleviate the appearance of dark circles, puffiness and fine lines whilst boosting circulation to the eye area, and as the name suggests, firming the delicate skin around the eye.

I take the tiniest amount of the serum and starting from the inner corner and working outwards pat it where my cheek and lower orbital bones meet - eye creams and serums are drawn up into the areas where they are needed so it's important not to apply them too closely to the eye as too much moisture will be drawn into the area resulting in puffy eyes which is the opposite of what you wish to achieve. I wait for it dry and then apply my facial moisturiser.

I've never suffered with puffy eyes or dark circles and fine lines are not of a concern to me at the moment so it's hard to say how effective this has been on me. It's a nice step, one that feels slightly indulgent and I do enjoy using it.

Emma Hardie Natural Lift and Sculpt Eye Serum - £34 for 15ml

Emma Hardie Natural Lift and Sculpt Hydrating and Firming Treatment Moisturiser

The stand out product for me. I'm quite particular when it comes to moisturiser, I like something that has some weight to it, I want it to feel rich yet I also want something that's weightless when it is applied to the skin. I like a moisturiser that absorbs easily and doesn't leave behind a greasy residue and for me, this ticks those boxes. It looks and feels rich yet it is deceptively light weight and absorbs quickly into the skin and as such can be used as a day or night cream.

Like the other products the Hydrating and Firming Moisturiser contains botanic enriched marine extracts, natural ingredients and essential oils. The scent is quite strong which worried me initially as I do have very sensitive skin however I haven't had any problems using it. It reminds me of Sisley products which smell very natural and almost herbal - I'd go as far as saying the scent is a little overpowering however the product itself is fantastic so it's something I can live with.

Emma Hardie Natural Lift and Sculpt Hydrating and Firming Treatment Moisturiser - £38 for 50ml

Emma Hardie Amazing Face Rosehip Exfoliating Seeds

Rosehip is renowned for its skincare benefits and has been included in the Emma Hardie range in the form of exfoliating seeds which can be mixed in with the Moringa balm or used on their own for a thorough exfoliation with all of the benefits of Rosehip.

I really like the Rosehip seeds, I probably wouldn't have looked twice at them but I really like them. They're coarse but not scratchy and they exfoliate the skin without being abrasive or damaging to the skin.

Unfortunately I can't find this for sale individually. 

Emma Hardie Amazing Face Natural Lift and Sculpt Moringa Cleansing Balm

I like cleansing balms, they can be a little tricky to get used to but once you do you start to appreciate them. I started using this product with incredibly high hopes, everyone had raved about how amazing it was so it almost pains me to admit I was disappointed. 

As well as cleansing and moisturising the skin, the Moringa balm is designed to purify, rejuvenate and recondition the skin whilst minimising the appearance of pores. Whilst there can be no argument that the Moringa balm moisturises the skin I'm a little apprehensive to say it fulfils the other claims, for me at least.

I don't wear masses of makeup on an every day basis, in fact I wear very little, as such I do remove my makeup with my cleanser most days. If I don't use a separate makeup remover prior to cleansing I always double cleanse, in fact I double cleanse more often than not however with the Moringa balm, my face wasn't makeup free even after three cleanses and when I had removed my makeup prior to cleansing I found the Moringa balm left a residue on my skin despite the thorough cleanse and remove with the Emma Hardie Dual Action Cleansing Cloth and my own wash cloth! 

I wasn't a fan of the scent of the balm either, it reminded me of the cleaning products used in hotels on holiday which is quite a harsh smell for such a natural product.

Whilst there can be no argument that my skin felt softer after using the Moringa balm it really isn't the cleanser for me and I'm glad I discovered that before buying a full sized product that in honesty, I wouldn't use. I now use the balm as an intensive moisture treatment once a week.

Emma Hardie Amazing Face Natural Lift and Sculpt Moringa Cleansing Balm - £34 for 100ml

I understand the last opinion may have been slightly controversial and I so wanted to love all of the products but truth be told, I didn't. I think they would be great for people with more mature skin or very dry skin but I won't be continuing with this regime once I've used the products up.

Skincare is a very individual thing so what works for one person might not work for another which is why it's always important to try something for yourself. If you're interested in Emma Hardie products I would suggest trying one of the sample kits, you could find a product you love that you wouldn't necessarily have tried.

How you tried the Emma Hardie range? What did you think?

Vicky x

11 February 2013

Sweet Hearts For Your Sweetheart

As we're all aware, Thursday is Valentine's Day and whether you're single or loved-up, everyone deserves a good breakfast and nothing says 'I love you/myself' quite like French toast. 

The picture doesn't do it justice but that bad boy is three layers of chocolate, strawberries and mascarpone cheese. Pure heaven.

You will need

  • Heart shaped cookie cutters
  • A large frying pan, skillet or griddle

Ingredients - for the French toast

  • Three slices of your bread of choice
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 120ml milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 10g butter to grease
Ingredients - to sandwich and decorate

  • 2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar, extra to dust
  • 3 large strawberries
  • Chocolate spread


1. Using your cookie cutter, cut three (or more depending on how many layers you want/people you're making for) heart shapes out. You could also freehand this or use a heart shaped item and a sharp knife - be careful!

2. Crack the eggs into a medium sized bowl and beat, beat in the milk, vanilla and cinnamon and hand whisk until combined.

3. Take your hearts and submerge into the batter, leaving them to sit for a few moments to absorb extra batter.

4. Heat your frying pan/skillet/griddle and 'grease' with a little block of butter. 

5. Carefully remove the hearts from the batter, allow to drain slightly and place in the frying pan - it will be hot and it will spit so be careful.

6. Cook on both sides until golden brown.

7. Once you've cooked all of your hearts, set them on some kitchen paper to drain. Whilst they're cooling slightly, prepare your filling.

8. What you fill your French toast heart stack with is up to you, I opted for mascarpone cheese mixed with icing sugar but you could use double or whipped cream. Mascarpone is an Italian sweet cheese and it works really well with fruit which is why I chose it. Strawberries aren't really in season at the moment but they're perfect for this and they're not too hard to come by, just make sure they don't smell or look sour! As for chocolate - that for me (and many others) is a no brainer. Chocolate makes everything better.

9. Spread your mascarpone cheese on the first layer and layer sliced strawberries on top. Spread the underside of one heart in chocolate and place on top of the strawberries - repeat until you reach the top.

10. Dust with icing sugar to cover up the bits that look slightly more well-done (read: burnt). 

There we have it! Super simple French toast with a Valentine's twist. 

I hope you have a lovely Valentine's Day whatever you do or don't do.

Vicky x


10 February 2013

Sunday Shopping Share: Etsy Infinity Ring

I'm not a big fan of costume jewellery so when I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted a nice dainty ring it was completely out of the blue. I haven't really worn rings since I was a teenager and I tend to keep any jewellery I do wear very minimal so I wanted something very subtle.

Step forward Etsy, or Apple Latte to be specific. I'd heard of Etsy but I'd never used it before and truth be told, I wasn't entirely sure of what it was. A quick search for rings yielded thousands upon thousands of results but one ring in particular stood out to me, this silver Infinity Ring.

I ordered on the 26th January and it arrived on the 8th of February which I was very impressed with considering it came all the way from South Korea! Ten working days is great delivery time. When I opened the envelope I found this cute little box which I hadn't expected. I was anticipating a draw string pouch at the most.

I opened the box to find a pair of faux pearl studs included. I hadn't ordered them so it was a lovely inclusion in my order and much appreciated. 

The lighting makes it look as though there's a stone missing - there isn't. 

I'd loved the ring in pictures but I love it so much more in person. It is so dainty and subtle. It's very delicate and very pretty. I ordered a US size 5 and it fits my ring finger with a little space and my middle finger snuggly. 

I chose the Infinity Ring because I love the symbolism: there is no beginning and no end, it's endless and limitless. Without becoming all philosophical it's a lovely symbol. 

I paid around £12 for the ring and delivery cost which I was very impressed with, £2.60 for shipping is a brilliant price - I've paid more to have things delivered from my own city let alone the other side of the world!

I'm very impressed with everything from the quality of the items to the price to the delivery time. I really can't find fault and the seller has some gorgeous items for sale that I'll definitely be purchasing. My first experience with Etsy was a good one and I'm sure there will be many more to come!

Do you use Etsy? Who are your favourite sellers?

Vicky x


3 February 2013

Winners Announced: 100 Follower Giveaway

Just a really quick post to let you know I picked the winners of my 100 Follower MAC lipstick giveaway today.

I'm a total technophobe (especially on this MacBook!) so I literally wrote out a list of all of the people who entered in the comments section and a separate list of my first 100 followers. I then picked one out of each. I did film this on my MacBook but I can't find where it's saved to?! If anyone knows where videos save to on MacBooks please let me know and I'll post it for you all to see. 

Anyway, without further ado the winners are.....

Comments Winner


First 100 Followers Winner

ZOE NEWLOVE who also entered in the comments and chose Lady Danger!

Congratulations to both winners and please don't be disheartened if you didn't win, there will be other opportunities for you all and I'm very grateful for your support.

Vicky x

1 February 2013

Bake of the Week: Cherry Bakewell Cupcakes

Cherry Bakewell Cupcakes are one of my favourite things to bake. I'm not entirely sure where I first found the recipe, I think it was from the Great British Bake Off a few years ago, but it's been a staple in my house ever since. These little beauties are deceptively simple and utterly delicious if I do say so myself, and I do!

This recipe will make 12 cupcakes and does contain nuts so apologies to anybody with allergies.

You Will Need

  • One 12-hole muffin tray or two 6-hole muffin trays.
  • 12 cute muffin cases - mine are from Tesco and also come in blue.
  • An apple corer 
  • A juicer - not an actual juicer but one of those pointy things you use to juice lemons.

Ingredients - for the cupcakes

  • 150g margarine (I used Stork)
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 3 eggs at room temperature 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 60g ground almonds 
  • 1 tablespoon milk
Ingredients - for the filling

  • 2 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam, sieved 
Ingredients - for the icing

  • 250g icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Ingredients - to decorate 

  • 6 glace cherries, halved.


1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees. Line a 12 hole muffin tray.

2. Using an electric whisk cream the margarine until light and fluffy. Add in all of the remaining cake ingredients and mix until well combined. 

3. Spoon equal amounts into the cupcake cases and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cupcakes are golden brown and well risen. Once out of the oven, set aside to cool.

4. Mix sieved icing sugar and lemon juice together in a bowl until the icing resembles a thick paste. It shouldn't be runny but it should pour. 

5. In a separate bowl, sieve the jam and mix with a spoon to create a puree. 

6. Using an apple corer, hollow out the centre of the cakes. Eat the cake you remove as you go - you'll thank me for it.

7. Carefully spoon the jam into the hole in the cakes, be careful not to fill right to the brim.

8. Spoon the icing into the remaining space in the hole of the cake and pour to cover the entire cupcake.

9. Cut your glace cherry in half and place it roughly over where the whole in the cake was created.

10. Enjoy with a cup of tea!

I really like this recipe. It's super simple yet really effective and everybody I know loves it. 

If you give this a go I'd really love to see pictures and hear how you get on.

Vicky x

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