Tuesday, 29 March 2011

TOP FIVE MOTHERS DAY GIFTS

So, I have been a naughty little blogger and not posted for a week or so. Tut tut tut. I have excuses - I have been a busy little soldier, chained to my desk at work but I promise to do better in future. This Sunday, in case any of you have forgotten, is Mother's Day. After buying my mum gifts at Christmas, Mothers Day and her birthday each year, it can get a little tricky to come up with a new idea. I quite often just ask her what she wants, but for those of you that want to surprise your mum this Sunday, I've come up with a top five gift ideas for your No. 1 Mum...

Royal Horticultural Society Sunflower Candle, £12
http://www.wax-lyrical.co.uk/
Wax Lyrical and the Royal Horticultural Society have collaborated to create the RHS Chelsea collection. The Sunflower candle comes in a contemporary case, but has a beautiful black and white botanical English garden illustrations from the RHS Lindley Library adorning the glass. It is so, so pretty. It has a fresh spring scent containing a luxurious blend of essential oils. It's a great gift for mum to enjoy this Sunday!

Rose Jug, £25
http://www.marksandspencer.co.uk/
I think this jug from M&S is so cute... I prefer plants to flowers, as they have a bit of longevity. What is also amazing about M&S is that if you order by 6pm, you get next day delivery - perfect for last minute 'what do I buy mum?' panics!!

Charbonnel & Walker Pink Champagne Truffles, £21.50
http://www.charbonnel.co.uk/
 A gift from Charbonnel & Walker will always make the recipient feel special - I bought some for my darling mum last year. The pink coloured champagne truffles have a milk chocolate and Champagne centre - yummy! The boxes of these premium eats are so gorgeous you need not wrap them! Bonus for people with substandard wrapping skills (like me!).

Diane Von Furstenberg Campbell Silk Scarf, £125
http://www.selfridges.com/
I think scarfs are always a lovely gift. You'd need to be feeling pretty flash to buy your mum a DVF scarf for mother's day, but this one is so so pretty, I just had to include it on my blog!

Prucia Plum Liquer, £31
http://www.harrods.com/

Oh my goodness... This has to be the most amazing drink I have ever, and may ever try. Buying booze for your mum isn't necessarily the obvious choice for Mothers Day, but why not break the trend and pick her up a bottle of the heavenly Prucia Plum Liquer? Serve over crushed ice or splash in a glass of Champagne for an uber-posh Kir Royal!

Love to all your mums xxx

Sunday, 20 March 2011

TOP FIVE DAYTIME MOISTURISERS

Smooth, hydrated, soft skin. That's what we're all aiming for. There's hundreds of moisturisers on the shelves and it can be tricky to find one that does the job without breaking your skin out in spots - or breaking the bank! I've tested so many moisturisers in the past few years, but my favourite five are listed below....
Garnier Nutritionist Youthful Radiance Daily Moisturiser for Normal/Combination Skin, £8.67
http://www.boots.com/
Best value
Garnier Nutritionist Youthful Radiance Daily Moisturiser is the most amazing moisturiser... and it's less than £9!! It moisturises without being oily - the perfect base for make-up. This product is specially developed for skin showing the first signs of ageing, so will smooth out any fine lines and supplement skin with caring ingredients. It feels and smells lovely on skin. A bargain buy. Love,love, love!
StriVectin® Instant Moisture Repair™, £51
http://www.salonskincare.co.uk/
Best for thirsty skin
I have combination skin, which can be tricky, as I have patches of skin fighting for moisture, while my t-zone wishes to avoid coming into contact with more oil. I think StriVectin moisturiser is a great solution, as not only does it moisturise the areas that need it, but it's non-oily, so keeps my whole face happy (when clinically trialled, skin moisture levels of people using this cream rose by 30% in one hour!). It's also clinically proven to keep skin looking young - bonus! This is the first StriVectin product I've used, but I would definitely try products from this brand again.
Nelsons Pure & Clear Balancing Moisturiser, £8
http://www.nelsonspureandclear.com/
Best for oily skin
Nelsons Pure & Clear Balancing Moisturiser for oily skin helps control shine by balancing oil production. It manages to leave skin smooth and hydrated without blocking pores, which is a real plus if your pores are on the large side!. Its formula you'd expect from an oil-free moisturiser, it's light has a slightly clinical smell. The moisturiser also contains aloe vera to soothe and calm irritated skin. I use this moisturiser when I have spots, to get my skin back on track.

Simple Daily Radiace with SPF 10, £6.63
http://www.boots.com/
Best for brightening
We all know that wrinkles make us look old, but dull skintone and texture can be just as guilty in ageing our face. Simple, the experts in sensitive skin, launched their Radiance range of skin-illuminating products to help women achieve naturally brighter-looking skin. It contains mango extract to moisturise as well as light reflecting particles to illuminate the skin and even out skin tone - giving it a youthful glow! It also has SPF 10, that goes some way to protect against photoageing (although ideally, it should be 15!).

Caudalie’s Vinosource Quenching Sorbet-Crème, £20
Best for soothing skin
This ultra light cream hydrates and soothes sensitive and dehydrated skin. The cream restarts internal hydrating mechanisms and restores water reserves according to the packaging!). It feels like a really premium cream, and gives skin a velvety finish. Luscious. I love the packaging too.

What moisturisers do you swear by?

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

TOP FIVE BLUSHERS

The finishing touch to my make-up is a flash of blusher. It brings it all together and adds some colour to my face! Here are my top five blushers...

Dainty Doll Blusher in Hippy Shake, £13
Harrods
Best for pale & interesting sorts
Now, you may have seen my top five foundations post recently, where Dainty Doll featured, but my absolute favourite product in the Dainty Doll range (created by Girls Aloud's Nicola Roberts) is the blusher. I just love the lilacy beauty of the Hippy Shake powder cheek tint. It's the perfect product to give pale skin a glow - and it will sculpt your cheekbones so they look razor sharp! The compact is gorgeous and slimline, complete with a mirror for on-the-go touch-ups. Hooray for the ginger Girls Aloud gal!
Touch of Blush, £10
http://www.hqhair.com/
Best for Dannii Mingogue wannabes

Dannii Minogue - she knows how to look amazing, doesn't she! How does she get her cheeks looking so rosy? Touch of Blush, that's how! I'm not surprised she selected this product either, rushing between her Project D empire, looking after little Ethan and X-Factor, she needs an easy-to-apply blusher like this... It's a great, summery colour and can be applied in one sweep - a great handbag essential (as the powder comes out on a brush for ease of application). 
New CID i – glow in Coral Crush, £24
http://www.newcidcosmetics.com/

Best for those who like their blush with a shim-shim-shimmer
I'm a big fan of new CID products - the white packaging makes them look a little space age. They have a new compact shimmer powder that contains a magical marble blusher inside - filled with a swirl of cheek-tinting colours containing light reflective pigments that mimic your skins natural radiance. This blusher is great for a night out - giving a dramatic look with a subtle shimmer! 

No7 Blusher in Soft Damson, £9
http://www.boots.com/

Best for a classic look
This powder blush from No7 creates a really natural colour on the cheeks - the shade I love from the range is Soft Damson. It's so easy to apply, and it would need a lot for you to look 'overdone'. It's a real bargain to - less than £10. My only gripe with No7 products is I find that the clear bit on the lids of its products come loose/fall out, which can make transporting them tricky... but I do love this blusher, so I guess 'lid issues' aren't a big deal!

Airbase blusher, £32.95
www.airbasemakeup.com/blush

Best for a pro finish
Silicone feels really smooth on skin; doesn't clog pores, allows skin to breathe and is the reason why Airbase make-up has amazing durability. Silicone products are preferred by many make-up artists, as they last particularly well at high temperatures (great for being under strong lights on stages and film sets). This makes this blusher great on nights out - as it will stay on no matter how hot you get. It's almost water-like in texture - so you can put a teeny, tiny bit on with a foundation-type brush, and then work-up until you achieve the desired amount of rouge.

What blusher could you not live without?

Sunday, 6 March 2011

TOP FIVE PANCAKE IDEAS

So, This Tuesday is Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake Day! Yippee. Get flippin, but first read my top five pancake ideas... 

New Orleans Drizzle
www.facebook.com/southerncomfort
 Ingredients
2 large oranges
50g butter
50g golden caster sugar
Large Pinch cinnamon
4tbsp Southern Comfort
+ pack mini pancakes (+vanllia ice cream if you want them to be extra special!)

Holy sweet Jesus, how good do these pancakes look? About half as good as they taste. Go buy some small Scotch Pancakes, and toast them, before drizzling over this delicious sauce... here's the recipe:

First, peel the rind from one orange, and cut into thin strips. Squeeze the juice from both oranges.
Then, heat the butter and sugar in a frying pan until dissolved. Add the orange rind, juice and cinnamon. Bring to the boil and boil until its reduced by half (the sauce will be syrupy).
Toast the pancakes and pour over the sauce. Serve with vanilla ice-cream if you're feeling like an extra treat. Heavenly pancakes that will impress all your friends!!

Wholemeal Pancakes with Simmered Winter Fruits
Ingredients 
For the pancakes:
110g wholemeal flour
pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten
300ml skimmed milk
1 teaspoon Splenda granulated sweetener
vegetable oil, for frying

For the fruit filling:
1 orange
250ml orange juice
25g ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped
25g raisins
pinch of mixed spice
1 apple, cored and sliced
2 plums, stoned and sliced
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 tablespoon Splenda granulated sweetener

So, if you're looking for something a little healthier, try this little recipe. It uses Splenda, which is a healthier version of sugar. Here's the how-to:

First, place the flour and salt into a large bowl with the egg, milk and sweetener. Beat together with a wire whisk to make a smooth pancake batter.

To make the filling, peel strips of zest from the orange using a potato peeler. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the orange juice, pour the rest into a saucepan and add the strips of zest, the apricots, raisins, and mixed spice. Place on the heat and simmer gently for 10–15 minutes to plump up the fruit. Remove the orange zest. Meanwhile, cut the orange into segments, removing all the pith.

Drop the orange segments into the saucepan with the sliced apple and plums. Mix the cornflour with the reserved orange juice and add to the pan. Heat again gently, stirring until thickened and smooth. Stir in the sweetener, and keep warm over a low heat whilst making the pancakes.

Heat a large frying pan and add a few drops of vegetable oil. Pour in a thin stream of batter, tilting the pan so that it flows evenly across the surface. Cook over a medium heat until set, then flip the pancake over to cook the other side. Make four large pancakes in this way. Place on warm plates and serve immediately with the simmered fruit.
 
simple pancakes
Ingredients
2 eggs
2 dessert spoons plain flour
2 tsp caster sugar
300ml milk
Pinch of salt

Sometimes, we just need a simple pancake, to load with our favourite fillings. Here's how:
First, mix eggs, flour, sugar and salt to a paste. Slowly add the milk mixing continuously until it becomes
the consistency of paint. I like to use Happy Eggs, as they're laid by hens that are well looked after. 

Then, pour into a flat, hot, buttered pan. Lift the pan moving the mixture so that it evenly coats the base of
the pan to form a thin pancake

After about 2 minutes the pancake should be loose. Tease the edges and then with a rolling motion,
toss the pancake and catch it again to cook the other side for approx 1 minute. Cover it whatever you like. Classics are lemon & sugar and Nutella, nuts and strawberries.... mmmmmm


Caramelised Pink Lady Apple Pancakes

Ingredients
100g plain flour
2 eggs
300ml milk
50g butter, melted
Cream or vanilla ice cream to serve
For the caramelised apples:
4 Pink Lady® apples
50g butter
50g light muscovado sugar

My mum always used to make stewed apple for us to pile on our pancakes, here's a recipe to create lovely apple pancakes. You'll want second helpings!!

Whizz the flour, eggs, milk and a generous pinch of salt in a blender or food processor until smooth, with the consistency of double cream – this only takes a few seconds. Then set the pancake batter aside for 10 minutes.

Next, brush a frying pan with some melted butter and put over a medium heat. Pour in enough batter (about 4 tablespoons) to coat the base, then tilt the pan so it spreads evenly. Cook the pancake for about 1 minute, until the underside is flecked with gold, then flip it over. When both sides are lightly golden, remove from the pan and keep warm. Continue making pancakes, brushing the pan with butter as needed to prevent sticking.

Meanwhile, prepare the apples. Core them and cut into thin slices. Set a frying pan over a medium heat, add the butter and leave it to melt. Add the apples and sprinkle with the sugar. Sauté for a few minutes until they start to soften and caramelise.

Fold the pancakes into quarters and serve topped with the apple slices and drizzled with the syrupy pan juices, with cream or ice cream on the side. Yummy, yummy, yummy!
Coconut Banana Pancakes
(recipe from Waitrose.com)
Ingredients
1 medium egg
120g plain flour
200ml coconut milk
50ml cold water
1tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp melted butter
1/4 tsp salt
3 bananas
Cinnamon
Maple syrup

I love Waitrose, and they have some fab recipes. I was particularly taken by this one (I've not tried it yet - so would be great to hear how you get on). Beat 1 medium egg in a large bowl. Stir in 120g plain flour, 200ml coconut milk, 50ml cold water, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tbsp melted butter or vegetable oil, 3 tsp baking powder and ¼ tsp salt to create a smooth batter. Then, slice 3 bananas in 1cm-thick slices. Put a non-stick frying pan over a high heat. When very hot, pour about 50ml of batter into the centre. Gently press 4-5 banana slices into the batter as the pancake cooks. When golden on the base, dust with cinnamon and flip over. Cook until golden. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve hot with more banana, and maple syrup.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

TOP FIVE BODY SHAPING PRODUCTS

We all strive for perfection. But we also skip the gym and eat too many cakes foods from time to time. For this reason, it's handy to have some body-shaping tricks up our sleeves. Here are my top five.

Scala Anti-Cellulite Hosiery Slimming Legging, £15
http://www.scalashapewear.com/
What if I told you  a pair of £15 leggings could get rid of your cellulite... Scala have a range of hosiery that does just that. The anti-cellulite qualities are woven into the fabric, so you can wash them and wear them again and again without them loosing their effect! The leggings are super-comfy and supportive too. In tests by Scala, an amazing 80% of women saw a reduction in inches lost around their waist and a reduction in cellulite. Give them a try (you'd pay £15 for a pair of leggings in TOPSHOP that wouldn't get rid of cellulite, so it's really a no-brainer!)
NeuroTrim, £1.79
Various Supermarkets
Weightloss in a bottle? NeuroTrim contains just 37 calories, and is a sweet-tasting (a bit like pink grapefruit) still drink that helps you stay slim. It does so through an ingredient called LuraLean™, which swells in your stomach - tricking you into feeling full. Clever! It also contains L-Carnitine – an amino acid that helps convert body fat into energy and Green Tea Extract – an antioxidant that helps stimulate metabolism. Try drinking one a day before your main meal.
Formoline L112, £29.95
 http://www.nhproducts.com/
So, you're eating healthily and loosing weight, THEN you're invited to a really important event where you have to eat loads - maybe it's a trip to you're favourite restaurant, maybe you've been invited to a wedding or maybe it's your birthday and you want to eat lots of cake. Whatdoyoudo? You pop some Formoline L112. These little pills contain a naturally sourced fibre, clinically proven to bind to dietary fats and cholesterol passing through the digestive tract. This reduces the calories your body absorbs, helping to reduce excess weight. Genius. I wouldn't say eat them everyday, but when you need to eat something fatty, but don't want to get fat- try these! I tested them out over Christmas as I munched through a huge tin of Roses and think they worked!
EllaPure Diet & Detox Set. £30
http://shop.ellapure.org
We all know that quick fixes only last so long, so if you're in it for the long haul when it comes to getting in shape, a great way to start is the EllaPure detox. Consisting of weight support cider vinegar capsules that contain a blend of potassium and other beneficial minerals to support digestion and increase metabolism. The set also contains an anti-cellulite detox body oil - that is topically applied to skin to help clear the body of toxins (as the build up of toxins contributes to cellulite). The oil, to me, has quite a aniseed fragrance, so I tend to use it at night, and rinse off in the morning (I've heard that oils work better on skin at night, as the warmth generated as you sleep helps them penetrate skin and get to work better!)
Pupa Buttock Enhancer, £39
www.beautique.com
We don't always want to make things smaller. Some people like a bit of junk in their trunk... My friends have an affectionate word for people with no bum. They're called 'begs' - as their back goes straight into the leg. If you fear being branded with this name, get a bootilicious butt lift using PUPA Buttock Enhancer. It's clinically proven to re-position, reshape and lift buttocks up to +1.2cm in eight weeks, giving you the pert bum of your dreams. The cream smells great too, so before you go on your hols, grab a tube or two of this butt-enhancing cream! Booty-ful!

What tricks do you have for getting in shape?

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

TOP FIVE FOUNDATIONS


My make-up table is a little out of control. For starters, I own about ten foundations. Apart from loving trying out new make-up, my skin has different needs at different times. From camouflage on a breakout day to a barely-there foundation for days when my skin is clear. Below are five of my favourite foundations.

MAC Studio Sculpt Foundation, £23
www.maccosmetics.co.uk
Best for problem skin
When you've had an outbreak of spots or when your skin's gone blotchy, you may think you need a heavy foundation. I've tried a few, and the problem? You look like you're wearing really thick foundation. The real key for problem skin is a great concealer (the best for problem skin, in my opinion, is Virgin Vie Correct & Perfect) and a buildable foundation, so you can layer it up on the problem areas. MAC Studio Sculpt is a great foundation for this. The foundation leaves skin hydrated, so it won't dry our and 'crack'  - the giveaway that you're wearing too much foundation.
Aibase Foundation, £32.95
www.airbasemakeup.com
 Best for good skin days
Airbase foundation is so light, that it will keep people guessing as to whether you're wearing foundation or not. The consistency is almost water-like. It can be applied with an airbrush system or with your foundation brush/fingers. This foundation is long-lasting, and doesn't clog pores, so if you use it on a 'good skin day', you're skin is likely to stay clear for longer (the vitamin A&E ingredients will help with this too). Make-up artists love using this foundation, as it gives a great finish. Love it.  

New CID Cosmetics i-Perfect Foundation, £24.75
Debenhams
Best for girls on the go
I keep a make-up bag at work, for quick make-overs before nights out. My foundation of choice for said bag? New CID i-Perfect. The reason for this is that it comes with a brush, has great coverage and is really easy to apply. I think the designer of new CID make-up must have had a busy life, as all there make-up is ideal for getting glammed up in double-quick time. The finish on this foundation is lovely - really dewy and beautiful!

Dainty Doll Loose Mineral Foundation, £19
http://www.asos.com/
Best for pale maidens
Nicola Roberts' range of make-up was designed for us pale & interesting gals. I use the Dainty Doll Concealer Click Pen - and I have genuinely never found one paler - to get rid of dark circles and blemishes, and then a dusting of the Dainty Doll Loose Mineral Powder Foundation. You'll be left looking like an ice queen! What's more, this foundation has SPF18 to keep your skin protected from harmful rays (because who wants a tan when you can look so good pale?!)

Maybelline Dream Satin Liquid Foundation, £8.19
http://www.boots.com/
Best value
I first tried out the Maybelline Dream Satin Liquid Foundation when I bought it as part of a 3 for 2 deal at Boots (I'm a succer for these 'offers'). But, OMG, this foundation was amazing  It way exceeded my expectations. It glides on, leaves a dewy finsh, great coverage... I wish I'd bought three at once, as it would have worked out about £5 a bottle. As it happens, I went back and it was out of stock, so I purchased the Maybelline Super Stay 24hour foundation. This had to be the worst foundation I ever used - it felt like sandpaper. How one brand can get it so right and so wrong and the same time baffles me! If you see the Dream Satin foudation - stock up!

These are my top five. What are your faves?

TOP FIVE RANDOM CUTE PUPS