Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Beauty // Beauty Kitchen Create Your Own Lip Balms Kit

Lip balms are an absolute necessity for me. Sadly I'm quite prone to drying lips so always carry a good lip balm - or three - in my handbag and I'm always excited to try out a new brand, style or flavour. As a new year treat the babes at Beauty Kitchen sent me their amazing Create Your Own Lip Balms Kit* so I could try and make my own wonder product. How exciting!


I've written before about Beauty Kitchen and how much I love their amazing all natural products. Everything is hand made and cooked up in their Glasgow based kitchens which I think is such a lovely thought and I really like that their new "Create Your Own" range allows you to have a go at making some top class products in your own kitchen too! I have quite sensitive skin and am prone to eczema sigh so it's great for me to have a lip balm where I know exactly what is going into it and is made up of only natural ingredients and no nasty chemicals. Plus, the packaging is adorable! #ShallowMuch?!


The kit comes in a really neat red tin can with one of those oh so satisfying ring pull lids! I love that everything fits snuggly inside so it's super compact and mirrors the simplicity of the ingredients used to create the lip balms. Inside the tin you get beeswax, cocoa butter, mica powder (non toxic mineral makeup which gives your lip balm a pretty shimmer), a wooden stirrer, 4 lip balm tins and labels, instructions and a sachet of wildflower seeds to plant afterwards to help the environment. The only things you need that aren't included are a saucepan (no way that's gonna fit in the tin!) and 25ml of sunflower oil.


When I had a read of the instructions, I couldn't believe how simple they were! I admit I hadn't made my lip balms sooner as for some reason I thought it would be quite time consuming and tricky - I couldn't have been more wrong! It took me literally 5 minutes to make in the end so it is perfect for busy bees or younger beauty fans. If I can do it anyone can! 


All you have to do is pour 25ml of either sunflower oil or olive oil into a small saucepan and then add the beeswax and cocoa butter. Turn the heat on low and stir it all until everything melts together. This happens quite quickly though so do keep stirring the mixture and don't let it simmer or boil.


As soon as it's all melted, take the pan off the heat and add in your Mica powder. You can skip this step if you'd rather have just plain, clear lip balm but it makes the mixture look super cool so throw it on in I say! Give it all a good stir and then pour the mixture into the four little tins. I found that I had a lot more lip balm mixture left over and luckily had a spare plastic cosmetic pot which I filled up too so it's worth making sure you have something extra handy as well (though I'm pretty sure I added too much sunflower oil which is why I had more mixture than I was supposed to!)


I then cleaned up any spills and popped the tins in the fridge to set. You can also  leave them to set at room temperature which should take about 15 minutes but I am far too impatient for that and wanted to play with my new beauties right away! 



Once they had set I cleaned up the tins, wiping off any smudges and spills, slid on the lids and then stuck on the labels (why can I never get things straight?! Oh well, I guess it shows that they are authentically homemade!) 
And voila! 4 four very cute lip balms made entirely with my fair hands! 


I absolutely love the small size of the tins. At first I was a bit worried they'd be used up in just a few goes but I've barely scratched the surface of one! They're such a fab size for popping in your pocket or even your purse. The lip balm itself is really nice and moisturising and I get a real satisfied feeling every time I use it knowing that there are only 4 ingredients inside and that all are 100% natural, there's no hidden nasties and I MADE IT MYSELF!!! The glitter gives a lovely sheen to the lips but is quite subtle so would pretty much suit anybody, male or female, though of course you could always leave this out too if you wanted.



Beauty Kitchen's Create Your Own Lip Balms Kits can be bought from their website (www.beautykitchen.co.uk) or Holland and Barrett stores nationwide for just £15. This is an absolute bargain when you think you get pretty much everything you need, have a fun little experience making them and end up with at least 4 lip balms too. I think this is a really great set and would make such a cute gift for any beauty fan (and if lip balms aren't your thing, Beauty Kitchen also does a Create Your Own Bath Bomb Kit too! - how cool is that?!)


Have you ever made your own lip balms before? 


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** ENTER MY GIVEAWAY TO WIN A BAKING KIT **


*Thank you so much Beauty Kitchen for sending me the Create Your Own Lip Balms Kit to try out. All thoughts are honest and my own, for more information please see my Disclaimer Page.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

InstaLIFE // Sunday 22nd February 2015

Hello lovelies I hope you're having a super Sunday! I'm back with another InstaLIFE post to show you what I've been up to the last couple of weeks. February has been a really fun filled month as not only have I celebrated my birthday and Valentine's Day but I've also had my friend's hen do, been to a film screening and heard some amazing talks as part of London Fashion Week. Let's get on with it then shall we?!

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How pretty is this locket?! I was kindly sent this gorgeous piece of personalised jewellery by Venus With Love just before my birthday and I have been wearing it non stop since. I love it! I will have a full blog post dedicated to this beauty up very soon so keep your eyes peeled and in the meantime why not create your own? You can get 20% off everything at venuswithlove.co.uk with the code EMSYPICKLE20

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To celebrate the release of What If on DVD, the babes at Match.com invited me along to a special cinema screening of the film at The Charlotte Street Hotel. I was so excited as I missed the film when it first came out at the cinema and I do love a good romcom! What If is a really cute film telling of Wallace and Chantry - a guy and a girl who meet at a party one night and have an instant connection. The only problem is that Chantry already has a boyfriend. Oh. It's great fun to see how their relationship progresses as they try to work as just friends and there are some really heartfelt as well as laugh out loud moments - and Daniel Radcliffe is literally the most adorable person EVER! I definitely recommend giving What If a watch - it's great for a girls night in and the script is really witty your guy friends would probably love it too! Thanks for having me Match.com

what-if-film

Valentine's Day is also my birthday so I quite like to really get into the spirit of things and go a little bit crazy for anything heart shaped (as you probably saw from all my Valentine's Day themed posts!) This year I decided to make some cute Valentine's Day chocolates which I packaged up and gave as a sweet treat the my parents, brother and sister in law who came up to visit us on the day. I thought they looked really cute and were very tasty too!

valentines-day-chocolates

Of course I went to my favourite pizza restaurant Stingray Cafe for my birthday lunch. I go on about Stingrays all the time but it really is the best pizza in London, it's such good value and the staff are all lovely too. We had a really great meal and I went for my favourite American Hot, and as it was my birthday decided to add some mushrooms and sweetcorn too - I know how to live! I had such a lovely day with my boyfriend and family and was thoroughly spoiled too. Thanks guys!

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My boyfriend and I decided to spend the day after Valentine's Day just the two of us and went for a really lovely walk along the canals through Camden and up to Little Venice. I've always wanted to do this walk and its was such a lovely day - bright and sunny and a little crisp - perfect! The canal boats are all so pretty and I loved walking along the canal which goes through the middle of London Zoo where we saw the wild dogs and aviaries.  We also saw this amazing Amy Winehouse art. I took some more photos along the walk so do let me know if you'd like to see these in a post. I also wrote earlier this week about my favourite OOTD for going on a wintery walk so check that out too!

amy-winehouse-street-art-camden

More food! And another cracker of a restaurant which I've blogged about before - Yum Cha Silk and Spice opposite the Camden Stables. I went here on Wednesday with a big group of friends to celebrate my birthday and Chinese New Year. We had a great night but ordered far too much food (but hey, when it's this tasty AND half price Mon - Weds why wouldn't you?!)

dim-sum-london

In the Christmas sales I bought my first Soap and Glory set and have fallen hook line and sinker for their amazing products! I particularly loved the Hand Food hand cream and have finished up the tube I got in my gift set. I decided to order some more and was pretty excited to find that Soap and Glory actually sells three different types of hand cream (haha it's the little things in life eh!) Well of course I had to order one of each! I'll give them all a go and will of course let you know my thoughts!

soap-and-glory-hand-food

On Friday night I went along to the CitizenM Bankside hotel for a really inspiring evening Celebrating Creativity. We were treated to two talks, one by Liz Atkin who told us how she has used art to understand and explore her compulsive skin picking and mental health disorder. Liz was so brave and inspiring, telling how art has literally saved her life. The image below shows one of Liz's self portraits. The second presentation was by theatre director and writer Jessica Swale who spoke about the battle of femininity and business and how her creative work has shaped her life and touches others. I took away so many new inspirational quotes and it was great to meet so many strong creative women. I definitely recommend checking out Jessica and Liz's work.


Yesterday I had a really fabulous girlie day for my friend Daisy's hen do. We had so much fun and started with lunch at The Garrison and a private screening of Bugsy Malone (I've still got We Could Have Been Anything That We Wanted To Be in my head!) We then went for a cocktail making class followed by karaoke and dancing at The Old School Yard. It was so much fun and so lovely to spend a whole day with so many of my friends. Roll on the wedding!

hen-do


I told you I was having a fun filled month! I hope you've been enjoying your February and had a lovely Valentine's Day. I'd love to know what you did to celebrate, so let me know in the comments below :D

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Midweek Manicure // 50 Shades of Grey inspired mani

Unless you've been living under a rock the past few years you've probably heard of 50 Shades of Grey. Now I haven't read the books but am planning on seeing the film to see what all the fuss is about (no, not just to gawk at Jamie Dornan. Ok maybe a little bit to gawk at Jamie Dornan!) To get in the spirit of things I decided to do a 50 Shades of Grey inspired mani using this fabulous Gradation Polishes kit by Kiss which I won on Twitter a little while back.

50-shades-of-grey-manicure

I love a gradient mani as I think they're really simple to do but always look pretty fancy! Fake it till you make it sista! I often do them myself using a mixture of nail polishes from my collection but it's nice to have a set with three complimenting polishes put all together already for you.

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50-shades-of-grey-nail-polish
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The set consists of numbered nail paints and illustrated instructions which make it super simple to follow how to apply the polishes. First I painted on two layers of the shiny silver base polish and let it dry completely. I then painted the top third of my nail with polish number two (the metallic deep grey) and whilst that was still wet, layered the third polish (clear with holographic hex glitters in) over the top, about half way down the nail. This helped to blend the second and first colours together and give a more natural gradient, as well as adding some super pretty sparkles!

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I really like the final effect of this Grey Gradient Mani. I'm a big fan of grey nails and this look is quite different and so easy to put together. I think this kit makes a really cute little set and would be a great gift to give to someone who is perhaps new to gradient nails. I really like how the three polishes look layered together and they'd equally be pretty used on their own too. Overall I'd say it's a very simple, fun way of entering into the 50 Shades of Grey spirit :D (and how appropriate is the brand name Kiss?!)


Are you a 50 Shades of Grey fan?  

Monday, 16 February 2015

Fashion // OOTD: Keeping Cosy on Wintery Walks

I've been loving the weather in London recently. It's been fairly bright, sometimes even sunny, and it's definitely getting warmer! It's still cold of course, but I no longer dread having to leave the house and have to add an extra 15 minutes onto my getting ready time to prepare for adding layer upon layer and wrapping up in hat, scarf and gloves. Bright, crisp days are my favourite for peeling myself off the sofa and getting some fresh air, and the thing I've been loving wearing on these rambles is my new Black Hooded Chunky Long Fur Coat*.

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tan-knee-high-boots
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A black fur coat is a wardrobe staple for the winter months. They keep you toasty warm, look effortlessly glamorous and never go out of style. That being said, I have been reluctant to add one to my collection as, being tall and chubby curvy I've always worried I'll look less sexy minx and more Monsters Inc! However I'm absolutely loving this one from Celeb Look, and its oversized fit and big hood are all kinds of cosy! Perfect for a long afternoon stroll.

I like to wear this coat open as it really is so so warm it can get a bit too hot when out for a walk. Not doing up the press stud fastenings means I get a fresh breeze yet still feel like I'm being cuddled by one of the Cup A Soup Hugs! Remember them?! It's really is the warmest, cosiest coat I've ever owned and was the first thing I put on when our we had a power cut the other week and the boiler stopped working! You are no longer The One dressing gown! I think that wearing it open also stops it  from looking too big and fluffy on my frame.

I've teamed my black fur coat with my ancient but firm favourite floral navy smock dress from New Look which is super comfy and nice and light for a good long walk. ASOS leggings and my beautifully soft Clarks knee high leather boots (similar here) keep my legs warm and feet waterproof. I've also been loving these silver Kitten Oak Tree Acorn Drop Earrings* from Nova Silver recently - look how cute the little acorns are! Perfect for when being at one with nature!

I've been on lots of walks recently and have been exploring lots more than my usual romp across Hampstead Heath. Let me know if you'd be interested in seeing photos from some of these adventures and I can put them together into a post! And let me know of your favourite places to go walking, I'm always looking for new places to explore!


What're your favourite outfits to wear on wintery walks?


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** ENTER MY GIVEAWAY TO WIN A BAKING KIT **


*Thank you so much to Celeb Look and Nova Silver for sending me the coat and earrings to review. All thoughts are honest and my own, for more information please see my Disclaimer Page.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Baking // #SpreadTheLove with Valentine's Day Red Velvet Cupcakes & WIN a Baking Kit

We all know I can't resist a bit of themed baking so of course I was going to make something to celebrate Valentine's Day! Relationships may come and go but there's one partner that has never let me down - CAKE! Ah sweet sweet cake! We all love it don't we?! I decided to take part in Intellicig's campaign to help #SpreadtheLove this Valentine's Day, doing a random act of kindness and whipping up some delicious treats for my friends and family. And to spread the love even further you can win your own Valentine's baking set to help you make your own sweet treats and help spread the love yourself. I decided to make Red Velvet Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and love heart sprinkles - the perfect Valentine's Day treat!

red-velvet-cupcakes

I decided to follow the classic Hummingbird Bakery recipe as they are known to sell the best red velvets around! My cupcakes turned out pretty well, though I seemed to have practically half the icing left over so I would make half the amount next time (or more like double the amount of cupcakes mwah ha ha!) My cakes where quite a dark red rather than the bright red you often see in cake shops but I hate it when you can taste food colouring in baking so I'd be cautious about adding too much more but think maybe half a teaspoon would be ok.

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They were nice and light and fluffy, though I did find that my icing didn't thicken up as much as I'd have liked it to so I had to be quite careful when icing my cakes that it didn't melt everywhere! However I was really pleased with the finished look as they looked very cute, and they definitely went down well with my boyfriend and the girls at work! So I successfully #SpreadTheLove hurrah!

red-velvet-cupcake

INGREDIENTS:


For the cakes:

** 60g unsalted butter
** 150g caster sugar
** 1 egg
** 10g Cocoa powder
** 20ml red food colouring
** 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
** 120ml buttermilk
** 150g plain flour
** 1/2 teaspoon salt
** 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
** 1 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar


For the cream cheese frosting:

** 50g butter
** 300g icing sugar
** 125g cream cheese


** Pretty sprinkles to decorate (I went for pink and red sugar hearts and silver balls)

baking-red-velvet-cupcakes


INSTRUCTIONS:

1) Preheat your oven to 170C / Gas Mark 3.


2) Use an electric mixer to beat your sugar and butter together. This may take a while but it should go through the grainy, bitty stage and become fluffy and creamy. Then turn up the speed and slowly add the egg and mix until all is well incorporated.

baking-red-velvet-cupcakes
baking-red-velvet-cupcakes


3) Grab another mixing bowl and sift in the cocoa powder. Add in the food colouring and the vanilla extract and mix it together until you have a paste like consistency. Make sure that all the cocoa powder is incorporated and you don't have any loose bits of powder.

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4) Add the cocoa mix to the butter / sugar bowl and mix it all in together.

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5) Slow the speed of your whisk and add in half of the buttermilk and once this has all been incorporated add in half of the plain flour. Once this has all been mixed together well, add the other half of buttermilk, mix and then add the remaining flour and mix it on a high speed until you have a really nice smooth texture. Add in the salt, bicarbonate of soda and white wine vinegar and (you guessed it) MIX!

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6) Then spoon the mixture into cute little Valentine's themed cupcake cases (I used some pink polka dots ones), filling each one two thirds of the way full. Pop these into the oven for about 20-25 minutes until the cake is springy and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

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7) Take the cakes out the oven, leaving them to chill in the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

baking-red-velvet-cupcakes


Now it's time to make the icing! Mmmm delicious icing!!!

8) Sieve the icing powder into a bowl and then add in the butter. You're going to need to whisk it all together to make a light creamy mixture. Depending on the size of your bowl it might be best to add just half the sugar to start with, or your kitchen might be engulfed in an icing powder explosion cloud!
TOP TIP: Add a dash of milk if your icing sugar is taking a long while to take to the butter it will help it blend together better.

baking-red-velvet-cupcakes

9) Next add your cream cheese and mix it all together. It will be quite runny at first but keep going and it should thicken up and become more of a standard butter icing consistency than a batter consistency. However be careful not to overbeat it as it could split and become runny again. About 5 minutes after it has all incorporated together should do it.

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11) Once your cakes have completely cooled, carefully spread the cream cheese frosting on top. Add a sprinkle of love hearts and some silver balls and voila! Cute Valentine's Day Red Velvet Cupcakes!

baking-red-velvet-cupcakes
baking-red-velvet-cupcakes

I was lucky enough to be given an adorable Valentine's Day baking kit to help me on my mission to #SpreadTheLove, and the cherubs at Intellicig are offering you the chance to win one too! Intellicig are an electronic cigarette company who make a "Share-a-starter kit" with the idea that people can buy one and pass it onto a friend who is looking to switch to electronic cigarettes. I'm not a smoker myself but have seen first hand how hard it can be to kick the habit and think the share-a-starter-kit is a great idea to #ShareTheLove and give someone the support and kick start they might need to make the switch to electronic cigarettes and help them quit smoking.

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All you have to do to win is enter the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Let me know if you decide to make these Valentine's Day Red Velvet Cupcakes. Nothing says I love you like red chocolate cupcakes with pink love heart sprinkles! And don't worry if baking's not your thing, any little act of kindness can help #SpreadTheLove and make a huge difference to someone else.


How will you #SpreadTheLove this Valentine's Day?



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*Thank you to Intellicig for inviting me to take part in their #SpreadTheLove campaign and offering me a baking kit to give away to one of my lovely readers. All thoughts are honest and my own for more information please see my Disclaimer Page.



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