30 March 2014

Recipe | Homemade Peach Iced Tea


There's nothing more refreshing on a sunny day than a glass of peach iced tea (apart from a pitcher of Pimms, or a glass of chilled wine...) but when I looked at the sugar content on a bottle in the supermarket I hastily put it back on the shelf and set about creating my own.

The best thing about making your own, apart from it being more cost effective is that you can control what you put into it and therefore monitor the amount of sugar you add.

You will need
  • A pitcher or jug (I used a small everyday jug from Wilkinson)
  • Glasses
  • Ladle 
  • Straws to serve (optional) 
  • Air tight water jug to store 
Ingredients
  • 4 teabags (black or green, I used black tea for this but green tea works just as well)
  • 5 fresh peaches
  • 1 lemon
  • 500ml boiling water
  • 1 litre iced water
  • Ice to serve (optional)
  • Sugar to taste 
  • Tinned peach syrup (optional - very sugary, look at the label!)

Instructions

1. Boil 500ml of water and pour into a large glass bowl, add your teabags and allow them to stew for 5-10 minutes.

2. Whilst your tea is stewing, slice 4 fresh peaches. You can peel them or leave the skin on, I opted for a mixture of both. Be careful when slicing as the stones can be problematic.

3. Remove your teabags from the bowl and add your peach slices. If you are adding sugar, now is the time to do it and stir until the sugar dissolves in the boiling water. If you are adding peach syrup, add it now and allow the tea to sit for a few minutes, stirring regularly.

4. Add your litre of icy water to the hot tea, squeeze in a few drops of fresh lemon juice and stir.

5. Ladle your ice tea into a pitcher/jug and a few glasses. Serve over ice (optional) and with extra slices of fresh peach and lemon.


I think this would be perfect for a summer party or a picnic and would look lovely served in cute little mason jars.

This is a method I came up with after quite a bit of trial and error trying to find something I liked so you may need to tweak this a little to suit your own taste, for example you may prefer to use tinned peaches and leave out the lemon.

If you try this I'd love to know your thoughts.

Vicky x



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28 March 2014

Beauty | Wonderland Wigs Faux Fringe


As I'm constantly growing my hair I try to do very little to it other than slightly changing the colour every now and then and I have to admit, it can get a little boring. I'm eternally tempted to do something, anything, with it from cutting it in to a sleek bob (been there, done that, still growing it out!) to adding a full fringe but if I'm honest, I don't want the commitment of maintaining a fringe on a daily basis but I do like the look.

With that in mind I set off to find a faux fringe to give me the change I was craving without it being permanent and something I know I would regret. After my excellent experience with Wonderland Wigs and their 3/4 Instant Weave I settled on their 'Straight Clip In Fringe' in Black 1. 

The fringe itself is easy enough to apply, securing with two comb clips. I can't quite remember how I parted my hair to do this but it took a matter of seconds. You can wear your faux fringe with your hair up but you'll have to work harder to blend the fringe it or cover with a band. 

Whilst I do like the effect, the downside for me is that this hair is synthetic and it looks synthetic. It has that plastic-y shine that screams "this is not my real hair!" which is disappointing but for £6.99 what do you really expect?! One thing I would say though is that with synthetic hair I often find the darker it is the more noticeable it is that it's synthetic, lighter colours often look more natural in my experience.  If this came in natural human hair I'd buy one in a flash because it's a great way to change your look and requires minimum effort and zero commitment. 

Perfect for those who want to try a full fringe before placing themselves at the mercy of their hairdresser and her scissors, a faux fringe is definitely the way forward.

Have you tried a faux fringe? What did you think - did it encourage you to have one cut?

Vicky x
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19 March 2014

Beauty | L'Oreal L'Extraordinaire Liquid Lipsticks


As an avid reader of US Cosmo I'd been waiting for these little beauties from L'Oreal to land in UK stores so when I spotted them last month in Boots on a 3 for 2 offer I snapped up every colour that was available at the time! Normally I like to pick up one or two and road test them first to see what I think before jumping in feet first and picking them all up but one swatch and I was sold. 


Highly pigmented, glossy without being sticky, lightweight yet opaque and deliciously scented, what isn't to like? L'Oreal state each liquid lipstick is infused with micro-oils and rich pigments to create a product which has the intensity of a lipstick, the shine of a gloss and the softness of a balm.

Similar to the packaging of the Colour Caresse Shine Stains (review here), the packaging is sleek and gold with a clear cut-out to show the true colour of the product which is handy if you're trying to fish one out from the bottom of your handbag. Unlike the Colour Caresse Shine Stains, the L'Extraordinaire Liquid Lipsticks have completely won me over! 

On all of the swatches below you'll see just one slick of product (so you will see how opaque they are naturally and how some do sit slightly heavy and gloopy!) I haven't used a lip-liner or made any corrective work to the shape of my mouth.



Top row (l-to-r): 101, 600, 500
Middle row (l-to-r) 601, 201, 401
Bottom: 304

The applicator is heart shaped with a slight well in the centre which holds product and ensures one swipe of liquid lipstick is enough which is a feature I like and dislike at the same time. I like it because it actually creates quite an accurate shape and it does provide a glossy, pigmented finish but I dislike the way it holds quite a lot of product. You can see in pretty much every picture that patch of heavy product build up on the bottom lip. It's easy enough to work in and avoid but I wanted to keep it in to show you.

The more neutral shades have less staying power than the brighter colours but all shades leave a stain behind which lasts at least 8 hours. The glossy finish does fade as the time wears on, especially with eating and drinking which is to be expected but actual colour transfer is minimal.

I've found the L'Extraordinaire stays hydrating and doesn't crack or dry out as many liquid lipsticks can do and it isn't sticky which I think is the stand-out point for me. There are a lot of similar products on the market like this but I find them sticky initially and drying eventually so L'Oreal have the balance just right with these.

With 9 shades to choose from there is something to suit everyone and at £8.99 they're a fraction of the price of high end favourites.

Have you tried the L'Extraordinaire Liquid Lipsticks? What are your thoughts?

Vicky x
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17 March 2014

Beauty | St Patrick's Day Nails


Happy St Patrick's Day!

Having spent the weekend bed bound I was itching to do something to occupy me and with Ireland on course to win the 6 Nations on Saturday I decided to get into the spirit of all things green and turn my hand to a very basic St Patrick's Day themed nail look.

The only thing I didn't think through was the flag, I painted it so it would be the right way if you were looking at me but to me looking at my nails it's backwards!

Colours used (from thumb): OPI 'Glitzerland', Nina Ultra Pro 'Anaconda Liked It', Nina Ultra Pro 'Anaconda Liked it' OPI 'Alpine Snow' Barry M 'Orange', Nubar 'Meadow Sparkle' and Barry M 'Mint Green'.

Vicky x
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16 March 2014

Beauty | Wonderland Wigs Double Volume Instant Weave*

This hairpiece is so good even I raised a smile!

I love my hair extensions and I'd been looking at new clip-ins for quite a while and had researched a few different brands and styles but I didn't actually get around to ordering any so when Wonderland Wigs contacted me to ask if they could send me a hairpiece I couldn't have been happier or more grateful!

I chose the Double Volume Instant Weave* in Raven 2, a 3/4 wig which makes an instant impact adding both unbeatable volume and ready styled curls. I was a little bit apprehensive about it being a 3/4 wig and so when I'd been researching clip-ins previously I'd steered completely clear of these as I had a misconceived idea about what they were and in all honesty I couldn't really get my head around the idea: just how would a 3/4 wig work? How would I apply it?


The hair is attached to an inter-laced half head cap and secures to your crown with combs rather than clips. I actually really like the way this weave secures as it grips in to your own hair without pulling on it as clip-ins can do, especially with heavier hair pieces.

For a night out I would section my hair from ear to ear, incorporating some of the crown and clip away. I'd then take the bottom section of hair into a ponytail and pin flat to my head before applying the 3/4 weave at the crown and blending with the front section. On the few occasions I have used this weave I've applied it as I would clip-ins and just blended my own hair in.


The hair in this particular weave is synthetic, although it is also available in human hair, yet it looks exceptionally natural and blends easily with my own hair. I usually find synthetic hair looks unnaturally shiny (read: plastic) but that doesn't apply in this case. Even under bright sunlight and the ever harsh flash of a camera it's almost impossible to detect that it's not my own hair.


I absolutely love my 3/4 wig, it's so easy to apply and wear, it's definitely overtaken my Sleep Rollers Emergency Curly Blow as my favourite hair piece! Perfect Princess hair in less than 5 minutes - I'm sold! 

Have you ever tried a 3/4 wig? What do you think of them?

Vicky x

*PR Sample
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5 March 2014

Fashion | Australia Haul: Clothes

I'd really struggled to find summer clothes to take to Australia with me so I knew I'd be hitting the shops once I got there to pick up some summer essentials like shorts and vests which I did, but I also picked up a few key pieces to see me through summer here in the UK. 

Whilst in Perth I fell completely in love with Forever New, I wanted to bring pretty much everything home but unfortunately they don't ship to the UK yet and I had baggage restrictions so I had to pick up my favourite items. I picked all of these items up with the intention of being able to wear them to work and socially with all of them being appropriate for an office environment as well as a wedding, the races or a lunch.

Please excuse the creases, the pictures were taken as I unpacked when I got home!



As soon as I saw this dress I had to have it. From the pleats to the nipped in waist, v-cut back and just above the knee hem I could see this dress being my summer work staple. The colour and print are subtle yet still make an impact.




I was first drawn to this dress by its beautiful colour, and then by the crochet top, fitted waist and flattering cut. The hem falls just above the knee so the dress is suitable for work as well as for a summer lunch or even a day at the races.




This dress reminded me a lot of the Gorgeous Couture dress I wore for my birthday last year and I've been looking for a good quality white dress that I can wear out as well as to work for a good 18 months now so there was no way I was leaving without this dress. The skater style is flattering and the material is heavy enough to hold a good shape.




The perfect summer work skirt. The floral pattern says enough for one outfit so I'll be pairing this with a white silk shirt and nude heels, preferably Louboutin pumps and a simple handbag for summer. 

I then popped into Dotti because I saw this skirt in the window display and I had to have it. I've been looking for something similar here since last summer and I've had no luck so I couldn't not bring this home with me.




The blush colour is perfectly understated whilst the sheer strip adds a fresh twist and keeps the look young as the hem does finish on the knee. I'll be pairing this with a white or cream top and some neutral heels.

I'm super pleased with my purchases and I really can't wait to wear them. I'm sick of the cold weather now, we need some sun back!

Vicky x
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2 March 2014

Beauty | (No) Bake Frozen Raspberry & White Chocolate Cheesecake

I first came across this recipe in the BBC Good Food magazine last year shortly after having my wisdom teeth out. Despite the fact this meant I couldn't physically eat the fruits of my labour, I couldn't resist rustling up this super easy and wonderfully fresh cheesecake there and then. Having recently made it again, I thought I'd share it with you as it's perfect for spring and summer.



You will need
  • Rectangle loose-bottomed baking tin (20 x 30 cm) 
  • Cling film
  • Food processor 
  • Sieve
  • Electric whisk
Ingredients - for the base
  • 175g crunchy butter biscuits (I used Sainsbury's all butter biscuits)
  • 140g ginger nuts 
  • 140g melted butter (mine was unsalted)
Ingredients - for the cheesecake filling
  • 200ml double cream
  • 200g white chocolate chunks (plus extra to serve) 
  • 300g raspberries (plus extra to serve)
  • 500g cream cheese 
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 300g vanilla ice-cream
Instructions


1. Brush your baking tin with some oil and double line with cling film leaving some overhang to help lift the cheesecake out once frozen.

2. Place your butter biscuits and ginger nuts into a food processor and blitz until you're left with crumbs. You could try doing this manually by placing your biscuits into a zip-lock bag and hitting it repeatedly with a rolling pin  but make sure you end up with fine crumbs. 

3. Combine your melted butter with your biscuit crumbs in the food processor and mix. Spoon the buttery biscuit base into the prepared tin and press firmly, ensuring an even coverage. Pop this into the fridge to chill whilst you make the filling.

4. Place the double cream and white chocolate pieces into a small saucepan on a low heat as though you were making a ganache. Keep on a low heat to avoid burning the chocolate and stir frequently until the chocolate has melted and no lumps remain.

5. Thoroughly clean your food processor and add the raspberries and creamy chocolate mixture and whizz until the mixture is completely smooth. To ensure no little raspberry seeds make it in to the cheesecake, rub the mixture through a sieve to catch the seeds and pour the mixture into a bowl.

6. Add your cream cheese and golden caster sugar to the bowl with the raspberry mixture in and whisk until smooth. Whilst you're doing this, allow the ice-cream to soften, but not melt, in a separate bowl.

7. Once your ice-cream has softened, slowly start to fold it in to the raspberry mixture a little at a time and mix well until no lumps of ice-cream remain.

8. Remove the tin from the fridge and pour the cheesecake filling over the base, using a palette knife to level the surface to ensure it is flat. Cover the top with cling film ensuring it doesn't touch the cheesecake and pop into the freezer and leave it there overnight. 

9. Shortly before you're ready to serve remove the cheesecake from the freezer, remove the cling film and decorate the top with the remaining raspberries. Heat the remaining white chocolate and drizzle liberally across the cheesecake.

10. Taking a sharp knife, cut the cheesecake into squares and serve. 


It sounds like a lot of steps but it's such a simple yet effective dessert and it can be made up to three months in advance. You can get 15 good sized squares out of the above so it's perfect for a spring or summer gathering.



If you try this I'd love to see how you get on!

Vicky x

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