Friday, 31 October 2014

HAPPY THOUGHTS

It's been ages since I've done a happy thoughts post, so here's a wee update on the things that are making me smile.

1. Holidays!

Holidaying in Scotland earlier this year - we found the best ice creams on Mull!
By the time you read this I'll be in London, hanging out with my very best girl. I try to pop down and visit her as often as I can, but this is the first time in ages that we've had almost a week to hang out (and I've not had to work!). I'm planning to visit WAH nails, maybe go to the Harry Potter Studio tour (if it hasn't totally sold out), force Steph to listen to loads of Taylor Swift, and just catch up with my pal!

THEN I fly out to Portugal to meet my favourite Australian boy for a week of sunshine, staying in the most beautiful Airbnb apartment, eating loads of fish, drinking loads of wine, wandering along beaches and lazying about. Perfect!

2. Hallowe'en

Glittery pumpkins from Pinterest
Happy Hallowe'en everyone! I'm typing this on Tuesday so I'm not exactly sure what my plans are, but I know it'll involve dressing up, dancing, and feeling suitably spooky!

I have had loads of fun doing Halloween tutorials this year - if you are still stuck for a costume or makeup idea, then take a look at my how to page for inspiration. I had planned to do a witchy look, but then got sick with the world's worst cold (booo!), but at least I've got ideas for next year already!

Whatever you're doing, have fun, and I'll speak to you when I'm back!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

LUCKY DIP CLUB

I'm going to let you into a bit of a secret (that really isn't much of a secret any more!). Say hello to the Lucky Dip Club - personalised surprise boxes that turn up on your doorstep once a month!


Run by Leona (who you might remember as the mastermind behind Lady Luck Rules OK and Thrift-ola), Lucky Dip Club is a super fun world of handmade and vintage all packaged up into lovely parcels.

Each monthly box has a new theme, and inside is packed with unique products such as handmade jewellery, an original homewares design, fun stationery and a crafty kit for you to make yourself! Each box also contains one personalised item especially for you (or for your pal, if you are feeling generous!).


There's a whole world of subscription boxes out there now, but I think Lucky Dip Club is definitely one of the best. Leona's got such a good eye for design, so they are even a treat to unwrap... it's just all put together so perfectly.

There's a few subscription options so you can pick one that suits you. A one-off box is £18, or a monthly subscription is £15 (and there's extra treats for long-term subscribers). You can also purchase old boxes and individual items from the shop (which gives you a good idea of the type of the thing you can expect!).

You've got to be fast though - the boxes launch on the 1st of the month, and they sell out SO QUICKLY, so go go go!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

HALLOWEEN HOW TO:
Bake a spiderweb chocolate cake

I love an excuse to bake, so I was pretty pleased when Waitrose got in touch to tell me about their ultimate chocolate cake recipes, challenging me to pick one, and incorporate a secret ingredient into the recipe somehow. Obviously, being the Halloween-obsessive I am, I picked their ultimate halloween cake - a red velvet sponge, with a spiderweb finish. Yum!

Here's how you do it...


You'll need the following:

For the cake -
  • 200g salted butter
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 375g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 284ml carton of buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 x 10g packs of Dr Oetker red gel food colouring
For the filling - 
  • 120g salted butter
  • 120g philadelphia
  • 120g icing sugar
For the icing - 
  • 300ml double cream
  • 250g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp liquid glucose
  • 50g white chocolate


Start by heating your oven to 170 degrees, and get your cake tins. The recipe recommends using a 23cm cake tin - I didn't have one this big, so I improvised with two slightly smaller ones instead. Grease these and line with baking parchment.

Mix together all of the dry ingredients except the sugar, and set aside. 

Beat together the butter and sugar until smooth, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add in the vanilla, and stir again.

Now, beat in a quarter of the dry ingredients, then a third of the buttermilk, and repeat until it's fully combined. When you are mixing each time, don't do it for too long - you don't want to mix all of the air out of the cake batter! Just do it until there's no lumps.


Mix the vinegar and red food colouring together to make a gloopy paste, and mix this into your cake batter. Add the batter into your cake tin (or tins!) and make sure it's nice and level.

Put it in the oven and LEAVE IT ALONE. Cakes have a bad time if they are exposed to cool air when they are baking, so keep your oven door shut for as long as possible. It took my cake about 50 minutes to cook - if you are baking it in one big tin it might take longer. Just leave it until the sponge bounces back when lightly pressed, and when a knife comes out of the sponge clean.

When it's ready, get it out of its tin and leave on a wire rack to cool.


Once it's cool you can make the filling by mixing the butter, philadelphia and icing sugar until it's nice and smooth. 

The original recipe suggested making the cake in one big tin and cutting into three layers. I obviously didn't do that, which means my cake has the BIGGEST FILLING EVER. Just look at it (I'm pretty okay with this, to be honest). Leave to set (Waitrose suggest putting it in the fridge for 20 minutes, I have always preached against cakes in fridges. Do what makes you happy!).


Time to make the most glorious chocolate icing! Melt the chocolate, cream and liquid glucose but putting them in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water (making sure the base of the bowl doesn't touch the water). Stir gently until it's all melted.

Then, put the cake on a wire rack (over a tray to catch the drips), pour the chocolate icing over the middle of the cake, and smooth out the icing across the top and down the sides. I realised at this point that because my cake is a monster (with uneven sides), I was not going to achieve the perfect even coating of my icing dreams. It's okay. I'm embracing my muckle cake. 


Melt the white chocolate (you can do this in a bowl over a pan again, but I just used a microwave), pour into a sandwich bag and snip the corner off to make a piping bag! Pipe circles on the cake.

Then take a cocktail stick and, starting from the centre, pull it through the white chocolate to the edge of the cake. I've seen this cobweb effect done before and felt a bit nervous about trying it, but it's exactly as easy as everyone says. SO easy. 


Then it was time to incorporate my secret ingredient from Waitrose - which turned out to be gold leaf. I excitedly imagined making loads of little gold spiders to creep across my cake... and then I attempted to use gold leaf and realised it is SO TRICKY and fiddly. SO TRICKY. SO SO SO TRICKY. It crumbles at the slightest touch, and it sticks to everything, and oh my goodness.

However, I managed to very carefully cut out a shape and get it onto the cake. It's not the most artistic spider (or even, spider-like spider), but I'm really pleased with it!


And here's the world's most decadent halloween chocolate cake in all of its glory! YUM.

Disclaimer: Waitrose supplied me with a giftcard to buy ingredients and some nice baking things to use in this challenge. Thanks guys! 

Thursday, 23 October 2014

HALLOWEEN HOW TO:
Bambi/deer makeup

Recently the nice folk at Boohoo got in touch, asking me to put together a Halloween look for their blog. I'm a Halloween loser, so obviously I said yes - & I'm pretty pleased with what I came up with, so I'm sharing it here too!

I'm a big fan of scary Halloween makeup, but sometimes you just don't want to cover yourself in fake blood and look disgusting. Instead, here's a cute Bambi-inspired look, that uses items you're likely to have in your makeup bag already.
 

You'll need the following:
  • white eyeshadow
  • brown eyeshadow
  • bronzer
  • white eyeliner
  • liquid black eyeliner
  • mascara
  • false eyelashes


Start by using the white eyeshadow to make a mask-shape over your eyes and down the bridge of your nose. You want the white to be quite bright, so apply with your fingers and layer on the colour.

Then use a brush to brush the bronzer all over your face, blending where it meets the white shadow on your cheeks and forehead.


Use a small makeup applicator to brush the bronzer down the sides of your nose. Use a brown eyeshadow (I used an eyeshadow pencil) to colour in your brows.


Still using the dark brown shadow, add it to the sides of your nose and to your cheekbones (blending with your fingers). You don't want any harsh lines with this look, so just keep blending until it looks nice and natural (Halloween-natural, that is).

Use white eyeliner to dot spots on your cheeks.

Get your black eyeliner and draw on a cute doe nose. I used liquid eyeliner for this, but if you aren't used to using this, a kohl pencil might be easier.



Now move onto your eyes! Use the dark brown shadow on your lid, then use liquid eyeliner to make a large cat's eye. On your lower lash, line the inside corner of the eye, and bring the liner down in a little flick. Use short strokes for this, and if necessary - use a pencil first, then go over with liquid liner.

Put on false eyelashes and mascara.


And that's it! I gathered some twigs and used a hairband to slot them into my hair - you can either wear your hair down and messy, or tie your hair into little ear-like buns. This makeup would be really cute with a polka dot brown dress, or a vintage-inspired tea dress.

I hope you like that! If you're looking for more Halloween-inspiration, check out the other looks on Boohoo's blog or take a scroll through all of my other Halloween posts. Have fun!

Friday, 17 October 2014

OUTFIT: WINTER COAT

It's been ages since I last posted an outfit post, so I thought I'd show you what I'm currently wearing (literally - I dragged one of my team outside to take these photos for me about ten minutes ago. I am such a cool boss).

Coat - Peacocks
Jeans - Topshop
Boots - Oasis (from ASOS)



I have spent most of the summer in a state of surprise as it was actually warm enough to go without tights or a jacket for WEEKS and WEEKS on end (a bit of a rarity in Scotland!). This made the transition to Autumn even harder - I find it impossible to dress for sort-of-warm but mainly-kinda-chilly days!

But, thankfully, the weird inbetweeny weather didn't last long, and the cold edge of winter has started to creep in. Which means goodbye to my lone autumn blazer (which I wore so much it now is falling apart at the seams), and hello to proper winter coats!

I bought this coat on a total whim from Peacocks years ago, wore it twice, then threw it in the back of a cupboard and completely forgot about it - not even noticing it when I packed up my clothes and moved house earlier this year (mainly because my strategy for packing clothes was to bundle everything into massive sacks, and hope for the best). Then this month I discovered it hidden in the back of a wardrobe, and fell firmly in coat love!


It's slightly too big for me, probably needs a dry clean as it's been abandoned for so long, and is in need of new buttons, but I love it! I feel like I'm about to adventure off to Narnia, or that I'd fit right in on Game of Thrones - the (fake!) fur collar is super Catelyn Stark!
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