I’m Immi… And I’m a lip balm addict

  

Yes- I’ll admit it. I appear to have developed a serious addiction to collecting lip balms, if my growing hoard is anything to go by. (And this is just a select few). So I thought it was only right for me to rate and review some of them! I also threw in my trusty Lush lip scrub for good measure. Despite the changing of seasons and ever-so-slight rise in temperature, my lips have been particularly dry recently. But rest assured, I will find a balm to cure me!
 

Nivea’s Vanilla & Macadamia Lip Butter: 4/5
 

It’s moisturising and creamy, and it smells so delicious I could eat it. Plus, you don’t have to take out a loan to buy it! A classic budget lip balm that you can’t go wrong with. (£2)


Lush Santa Lip Scrub:    3.5/5  

I love how soft my lips are after using this and the rouge tint that it leaves. And you can actually lick the scrub off your lips (it tastes great) with this one! It’s the perfect companion for using before applying lipstick, as it really smoothes and buffs away at any lingering dead skin. However, I find the softness only lasts a few hours before my lips start to feel dry again. To avoid this, I tend to cake my lips with lip balm afterwards for ultra moisturisation if I’m not leaving the house! (£5.50)
 

Eve Lom’s Kiss Mix:    3/5

I love a good lip balm that makes your lips tingle, and Eve Lom’s does just that. It feels refreshing and gives a lovely shine to lips too. (The most expensive of the bunch at a crazy £16)
 

Nuxe’s Reve de Miel:      2.5/5

I’ve reviewed this before on my blog and I definitely fell in love with the stuff when I first bought it. It’s buttery and melts onto lips and smells DIVINE. But much to my disappointment, over the months it seems to have gone slightly grainy in texture- and come to think of it, it has probably come to the end of it’s short 6 month lifespan. Sob. Considering the price, you would expect it to last a tad longer. (An expensive £9.50)


Korres Jasmine Lip Butter:    3/5

Let me begin by saying this smells delicious. The scent is sweet and I love the dusky pink colour which leaves a shiny tinted finish on lips. It isn’t the most hydrating lip balm I’ve ever found, but is great for Spring for adding a nice subtle dash of colour on lips that aren’t overly dry or chapped. In the depths of winter when my lips are crying out for moisture, this probably wouldn’t be my first point of call. (£8)
 

Cowshed Lippy Cow Natural Lip Balm: 2/5

I bought this because I was drawn to the fact that it’s natural and suitable for vegetarians, which you don’t often see overtly displayed on beauty products. The tube has a nice monochrome design and the balm has a delightful fresh and orangey scent to it. However, I’ve found it only gives a light level of moisture to lips, and so it definitely isn’t what you’re after if your suffering from severely dry skin. (£6)
 
And finally, the surprising winner of the bunch? Scoring an impressive 5/5 stars, it has to be…

Blistex’s Relief Cream! 5/5

Yes, you heard correct. The humble Blistex at a modest £2.69. In my eyes, it is the holy grail of lip products as it is the only lip cream that truly seems to cure my cracked lips overnight. (It’s medicated and is designed for cold sores too.) I personally love the stuff, and have no idea why I’m always tempted with the higher end expensive brands when I know I’ve got such a fail-safe winner in Blistex!
 
Thanks for reading! X

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Cruelty-Free Beauty

Along the way since becoming vegetarian over a year ago, (and also since inadvertently stumbling across some really quite disturbing photos of what had happened to the cutest bunnies after being tested on), I really want to gradually transition my makeup and beauty collection into one that is cruelty free. As quite frankly, I really don’t condone animal abuse. Obviously, I’m not saying I am perfect in the slightest, and I definitely still own makeup that is probably tested on animals, which I bought without really giving a second thought to. However, I guess it’s one big learning curve and I would like to at least try my best!

There is generally a significant amount of controversy over whether beauty brands do or do not test on animals. It’s no surprise that they never usually own up to it when questioned (and why would they), but I know that several brands find loop holes in the fact that their ‘parent company’ tests on animals, so technically they can claim that they don’t. I’m just glad my trusty Dermalogica don’t test on animals, and have even recently pulled out of selling their products in China because of the abuse that the country requires for cosmetic testing.

Anyway, I would love to know of any favourite brands which you use which are cruelty-free? I already use a few, but when I started reading the PETA list of brands, I’ll admit my mind was slightly blown by all these names I had never heard of!

X

 

Lemon and Pistachio Easter Layer Cake

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Happy Easter everyone!

I’d love to be spending the day making delicious Easter-themed baked goods, however I move house in a week so baking has to be put on hold! Instead, I thought I would throw it back to this Lemon & Pistachio cake that I made last year for Easter. The recipe is from Waitrose and is utterly incredible, full of layers of pistachio marzipan sandwiched between moist lemon sponge. YUM. It wasn’t the easiest cake to make, but I can assure you it was definitely worth it.

(You can also find the recipe here.)

lemon cake

Ingredients

For the marzipan:
100g Love Life Pistachios
50g ground almonds
75g Billington’s
Golden Caster Sugar
75g icing sugar
1 medium essential Waitrose egg white, lightly beaten

For the cake:
175g butter, softened
175g Billington’s Golden Caster Sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons, plus 3 tbsp juice
3 medium essential Waitrose Free Range Eggs
225g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder

For the butter icing:
75g butter, softened
75g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 tbsp lemon juice
Chopped pistachios, to decorate

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Grease and base line
2x20cm sandwich tins. To make the marzipan, put the pistachios
in a food processor and blend until finely ground. Add the almonds, caster sugar, icing sugar and the egg white and blend to a paste.

2. For the cake, put the butter, sugar, lemon zest, eggs, flour and baking powder in a bowl and beat with a hand-held electric whisk until pale and creamy. Beat in the lemon juice and spoon a quarter of the mixture into each of the tins. Level the surface.

3. Halve the pistachio marzipan and roll out each on a surface dusted with icing sugar until slightly smaller than the tins. Press gently over the sponge filling and cover with the remaining mixture. Bake for 35–40 minutes or until risen and just firm to the touch.

4. Loosen the edges of the cakes with a knife and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

5. For the icing, beat the butter with the icing sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the lemon juice and use to sandwich the cakes together on a serving plate. Dust the top lightly with icing sugar and scatter with chopped pistachios to decorate.

Cook’s tip

Try swapping the butter icing for softly whipped cream swirled with a spoonful of lemon curd. Keep chilled and eat on the same day.

Enjoy! x

 

City Break to Amsterdam

  

Just a quick little post tonight whilst I’m sipping on my much needed glass of wine after a stressful day at work (Cos Thursday is the new Friday after all)… 

I’m going to Amsterdam soon for my friend’s birthday, which we are incredibly excited about! Have you guys been before? Do you have any suggestions of where to go, or what to visit whilst we’re there? Any cute little cafes or restaurants? Would love to hear from you!

Plus, how cute is this illustration in National Geographic that my mum tore out for me? (That’ll definitely be us up there in the right hand corner having a boogie. Ha.) 

Avocado Adoration: Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment

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I discovered a tiny spider in the lid of my Christmas stilton jar last year, which- practically forgotten about- resulted in a John Lewis voucher as a token of their apology finding its way through my letterbox a few days ago, albeit much to my surprise and absolute delight. (I may have run downstairs, letter in hand, shouting out to my Mum that THE BEST THING EVER HAD JUST HAPPENED. Yes, ever the drama queen.) Cheers Waitrose! Although I really shouldn’t tell everyone, or they’ll all want a spider in their cheese.

Anyway, I’d been craving a good eye cream for a while (the dark circles and bags have been screaming out for my attention for far too long), and so after my friend Hannah McMartin recently reviewed Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment over on her blog, I simply couldn’t resist trying it out for myself. John lewis voucher? You came at the right time my friend.

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Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado (best ingredient ever), is a thick, light green cream which comes in a small pot (14ml to be precise). At first I thought that the amount I had paid didn’t really justify the size, but upon application, I realised you definitely don’t need much at all. Plus, it claims not to be tested on animals, which I hope is the case- the internet seems to be divided on this- as I really want to make a conscious effort to try and buy cruelty-free products from now on.

The cream glides on nicely and feels oh-so-soothing, and because it is so thick, it stays in place so you don’t have to worry about it running into your eyes and stinging them like crazy. (I somehow seem to get moisturiser in my eyes more often than not.)

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I wasn’t expecting to miraculously wake up with a new pair of eyes, but what I did wake up to, was soft, slightly brighter, less puffy, tired looking eyes. Puffy eye-lids never bodes well when applying your morning coat of mascara, and weirdly enough my mascara now seems to go on a little better since using the cream. I do however, still have fairly dark circles under my eyes, but like I said, I wasn’t expecting miracles or a month’s worth of sleep to be injected overnight.

I’d love to hear what you guys think if you’ve tried it!

x

 

Sunday Evening Pampering: Kiehl’s Rare Earth Masque

 

I haven’t done a beauty post, well, for a while! And so I thought it was about time I changed that.

In the past few years, I’ve suffered from very acne-prone skin. Why on earth my body decided my early twenties was a more suitable time than my teens for these delightful breakouts, I do not know. Oh the joys of life. They got so bad that I’ve been on two lots of antibiotics since last Summer in an attempt to rid my face of the the pesky things, the last lot I have recently finished taking.

I doubt I’ve seen the last of them, but I wanted to invest in a good quality face mask that I know  will really deeply cleanse it, to try and keep the spots at bay. The reviews for Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Masque were what enticed me. Everyone was singing it’s praises and so it was simply calling out to me to put it in my basket. (Which is obviously what I did.) People spoke of how their skin was noticeably less oily, how it was great for breakouts, skin was smoother etc etc. I obviously had to try it!

 

Oh and the masque is mineral rich and clay-based, with ingredients sourced near the Amazon River. Sounds good to me.
As soon as I applied it, I knew there were some pretty powerful ingredients getting to work right away- you could practically feel the goodness sinking deep into the skin and cleansing it from the inside out. As it dried, you could visibly see where the mask had sunk into the pores, as tiny little holes appeared on the surface.

A little definitely goes a long way. You leave the mask on for 10 mins until dry and remove with warm water.

 

The result? My skin felt extremely smooth and soft to the touch, and I can definitely say it felt cleaner and that it could almost ‘breathe’ more- if that is even such a thing. I’m really impressed with my (first ever) Kiehl’s purchase and am already looking forward to my next application!

X

Mother’s Day Raspberry & Chocolate Macarons

This year, I decided to make my Mum a mini afternoon tea for Mother’s Day. I baked all afternoon and conjured up some Raspberry and Chocolate Macarons,  alongside scones with clotted cream and jam. Not complete without a huge teapot of loose-leaf tea! 

    

 
 Safe to say, I’m extremely proud of how the macarons turned out after I saw how technical they were to make! I even had to rush out last minute and purchase myself a sugar thermometer, which, at first, seemed like quite a daunting piece of kitchen equipment. 
Anyway, they were were so delicious and incredibly rich! The macaron shells had a great crunchy top and were chewy in the middle, sandwiched together with dark chocolate fondant and raspberry jam. Sheer heaven! 

  
The recipe comes from BBC GoodFood and all in all wasn’t too hard, I just made it ten times harder for myself by trying to bake scones at the same time. (I wouldn’t recommend- I felt exhausted afterwards!) The most stressful part was definitely trying to juggle whisking the eggs whites whilst ensuring the sugar syrup didn’t over boil… But hey, you can see for yourself! Find the recipe here

 
(The prettiest stack of shells) 

  
To make the macarons you will need: 

  • 170g icing sugar
  • 160g ground almonds
  • 120ml egg whites from about 4 medium eggs, separated into 2 equal batches
  • 160g granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp red food colouring

For the filling:

  • 120g double cream
  • 110g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 25g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 75g raspberry jam


How to make them:
Place the icing sugar and ground almonds in the bowl of a food processor and pulse about 15 times until fully combined. Sieve this mixture into a large bowl, discarding any particles that stay in the sieve. Add the first batch of egg whites to the almond mixture, mix to form a thick paste and set aside.

Tip the second batch of egg whites into a spotlessly clean, heatproof bowl and have an electric whisk at the ready. Place 50ml water and the granulated sugar into a small saucepan on medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the syrup registers 110C, using a sugar thermometer, at which time start to beat the egg whites on high speed. Once the syrup is at 118C pour it slowly down the side of the mixer bowl, avoiding the moving whisk. Continue to whisk on high until the mixture has cooled slightly and you have a shiny peaked meringue mixture – the bowl should no longer be hot to the touch, but still warm. Add the colouring and whisk to combine.

Tip the meringue onto the almond mixture and gently fold together. It is important not to over-mix the batter – it should fall in a thick ribbon from the spatula (A). The ribbon should also fade back into the batter within about 30 secs – if it doesn’t, fold a few more times.

Heat oven to 170C/150C fan/gas 3-4. Line 3 baking sheets with baking parchment. Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle. Pipe rounds about 2.5cm in diameter onto the prepared baking sheets (B). Leave to rest for 30 mins out of the fridge, or until the macaroons have developed a skin.

Bake the macaroons for 14 mins (this needs to be precise so you could test a macaroon first). Immediately slide the parchment onto the work surface and cool for a few minutes before gently peeling the macaroons off the paper.

To make the filling, place the cream in a small saucepan and the chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring the cream just to the boil and pour over the chocolate. Leave to stand for a few mins, then stir to combine. Add the butter and stir until smooth, then leave to set until thickened. Place the chocolate mix into a clean piping bag with a smaller nozzle and pipe around the edge of half the macaroons (C). Fill the centre with jam and sandwich with another macaroon shell.

Enjoy! X 

Carrot Cake Cookies

 

These are so delish I cannot stop eating them! I’m a big fan of carrot cake and what’s better than carrot cake? Squidgy, spicy carrot cake cookies of course. They’re the perfect warming wintery snack and full of all sorts of goodness! The texture is rather unusual and definitely not cookie-esque, but reminds me more of flapjacks.

The recipe comes from Deliciously Ella, who is one of my faves for healthy sweet treats. I find that her ingredients are usually pretty pricey, but this recipe really doesn’t have many fancy ingredients, which keeps it on the cheap side of things. (Most of the ingredients I already had in the house).

Plus, they’re dairy free, so fab for vegans.

 

Ingredients:

  • 270g of oats
  • 3 ripe bananas (about 340g)
  • 3 red apples (about 350g)
  • 2 carrots (200g)
  • 150g of sultanas
  • 3 tablespoons of date syrup
  • 2 tbs of nut butter – peanut butter is especially good (although you can ignore the nut butter totally if you don’t eat nuts)
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 3 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoons of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200C

Grate the apples and carrots (no need to peel them) and mash the bananas. Then mix them with all the remaining ingredients in a bowl.

Grease a baking tray with coconut oil.

Scoop a heaped tablespoon of the mix and pat it into flat cookies shape on the tray, do this until all the mixture has been used. Try to get an even amount of sultanas in each cookie as those that are heavier with sultanas are more likely to burn. The mixture should make about 25 cookies. (I only managed to get 18!)

Then bake the cookies for about 30 minutes until they turn golden brown, at this point take them out the oven and let them cool slightly.

 
I did actually grate my carrots and apples as I didn’t want them to be too course, and I also left out the sultanas as I don’t generally love them too much!

Hope you enjoy them if you give them a go! Happy Saturday everyone x

Paradise Bars


Paradise Bars by Hemsley & Hemsley are the best invention ever- healthy Bounty bars made with deliciously wholesome ingredients. My best friend made them a while ago and I’ve been desperate to make them ever since. Anyone who is an avid coconut lover, like myself, will adore these guilt-free treats! And as for all you Bounty haters (I know there are many of you out there)- look away now!

I’ve really struggled to eat healthily recently, probably because I have such a sweet-tooth and could snack on chocolate till the cows came home. So, I’m hoping that by creating ‘healthy’ sweet treats it will curb my 4pm sugar cravings at work!

They are extremely rich, luxurious and moreish, so a small bite-size piece is definitely enough. (I’m going to have to dramatically reduce mine in size, as they are currently huge).

(On a side note, how pretty is this slab of Divine dark chocolate?)
Hemsley & Hemsley’s recipe:

INGREDIENTS

200 g bar of creamed coconut

6 tbsp. coconut oil

3 tbsp. raw honey

1½ tsp vanilla extract

A pinch of sea salt

150 g desiccated coconut

200 g (85% cocoa solids) dark chocolate (although 70% is fine too)

METHOD

  1. Line an 8 inch square tin with baking parchment. In cold weather, place the unopened packet of creamed coconut in a bowl of warm water to melt it through (you can massage the packet to help it along). In warm weather, the creamed coconut will already be fluid enough.
  2. When it’s soft all the way through, pour into a bowl and mix in the coconut oil (it will melt if it’s hard), raw honey, vanilla, salt and 2–4 tablespoons water if you like a softer centre.
  3. Stir in the desiccated coconut evenly to create a doughy consistency.
  4. Pour the dough into the prepared tin. Press the mixture down with the back of a spoon to make it level and set in the fridge for 15 minutes until hard.
  5. Turn the tin of coconut mixture out onto a chopping board and slice into 6 horizontal slices by 4 vertical. (I cut them a lot smaller as they are very rich!) Place them onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment and keep in the freezer while you prep the chocolate.
  6. Melt the chocolate in a glass or metal bowl over a pan of warm water – make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl and do not allow the water to boil or simmer – you may have to keep removing from the heat. This should take about 30 minutes.
  7. When the chocolate has almost melted, take the bowl off the heat and place on a tea towel to avoid slipping. Leave it to cool as much as possible without it hardening to give a thicker coating to the paradise bars – stir occasionally.
  8. Dip the frozen coconut bars into the chocolate using two forks, letting the excess drop off, and carefully place back onto the cold baking tray, leaving space between each bar. If the chocolate mixture becomes too cold, you may need to put it back over the simmering water again.
  9. When you’ve finished dipping all the bars, place the tray back in the fridge until set. Once set, seal in a glass or ceramic container in the fridge or freezer until required. If they are kept sealed in the fridge, they will keep for a month – or longer in the freezer.


Would love to know if you guys give these a go! They really are heavenly. X



A hearty Saturday morning breakfast: Pesto & Tomato Scrambled Eggs 

  
I woke up this morning really craving a filling and healthy breakfast, so this simple little creation definitely hit the spot! 

A while ago I decided to sprinkle on some pesto to my eggs and I’m so glad I did, because it’s just delicious! It goes so well with creamy scrambled eggs and the basil pesto with the little cherry tomatoes is obviously a match made in heaven. 

Yum. Simple yet dreamy!

Hope you all have a laid back and relaxing Saturday everyone!