Seche Vite

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For quite a long time now I have been reading about how brilliant the Seche Vite base and top coats are but I’ve always stuck to the Nail Inc Caviar top and base coats. I’ve finally made the switch and am very impressed with Seche Vite! They give my nails pretty much the same glossy effect as the Nails Inc polishes but they seem to be more hardwearing and keep my nail colours chip free for a couple of days longer. Plus I really love how fast they dry! They are slightly more expensive than Nails Inc but I think they are worth it for me as it means I don’t need to redo my nails mid week!

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Grace Cole Fruity Lip Balms

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These gorgeous Grace Cole lip balms are the best ones I have used in a long time. The formula reminds me of Vaseline so they are really quick and easy to apply and are lovely and moisturising. But the best thing about them is the smell. Especially the coconut and lime – I can’t get enough of it! You can buy the Grace Cole Lip Balms online for just £2 per 12g pot. Well worth it I think and there are lots of other delicious smelling products in the range as well!

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NOTW: Kilt Tartan

Tartan nail art

Colours used:
Sally Hensen Xtreme Wear Virtual Violet
Nails Inc Victoria and Albert
Konad black stamping polish

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Yves Rocher Hair Repair Oil

Yves Rocher Hair Repair OilI am not really sure what to make of the Yves Rocher Hair Repair Oil. You are supposed to apply it to dry hair and leave to sink in for 10 minutes before shampooing as usual. I have been reading lots recently about the new trend for conditioning your hair before shampooing so I guess this is similar to that. But I just don’t think it works for me. After using the oil and shampooing, my hair feels horrible and dry unless I condition my hair as well. I haven’t really noticed any difference to the condition of my hair after using the oil, even after using it regularly over a couple of months. I also don’t really enjoy using this hair oil – it doesn’t smell very nice and makes me look and feel very greasy for the 10 minutes before I wash it out so I don’t think I would repurchase even if it did work brilliantly. I have used other conditioning masks which I much prefer and which seem just as good, if not better for my hair.

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Pulpe de Vie

I have been lucky enough to try out some wonderful products from Pulpe de Vie. The Tickle Me Body Scrubbing Butter is the perfect product to make you feel sunny. It’s creamy apricot scent is lovely and it really works too.
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The apricot kernels, which actually do the scrubbing, gently buff your skin leaving it beautifully smooth. I love the thick texture of the scrub which makes it feel luxurious and more substantial than other scrubs I have tried.
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I was also sent a couple of sachets of the Luscious Glow moisturiser. It is a body milk which gives your skin a hint of shimmer. It has a pretty strong grapefruit scent which might be a little off putting to some, but I really like it personally.

You can buy Pulpe de Vie products online at Absolutely Divine. Tickle Me costs £14 for 125ml and Luscious Glow is £17.90 for 150ml.
After trying these two Pulpe de Vie products I am looking forward to discovering more of their range.

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Lush Peace Massage Bar

The Lush Peace Massage Bar is my new favourite moisturiser! It contains shea butter and cocoa butter, both of which are super hydrating and smell amazing. The idea of the massage bar is that it melts into an oil as you massage your skin and it works best if you use it straight after a nice hot bath.
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The name of the massage bar comes from the fact that the cocoa butter used in the bar comes from the Peace Villages of San Jose de Apatardo in Colombia. The Peace Villages are a cooperative who have chosen to step out of the civil war in their country and live peacefully off the land. The Fair Trade olive oil used in the bar comes from Sindyanna Women’s Cooperative in the Galilee.

The massage bar costs £6.95 for 50g. I will definitely be buying it again!

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Homemade Afternoon Tea

I thought I would share with you some recipes I used to make afternoon tea recently. My menu was made up of roasted red pepper shots, feta and ricotta pastry swirls, sandwiches, scones, lemon cupcakes and balsamic berry chocolate mousse. I was in a bit of a panic the night before, wondering if I would be able to make everything on time but it actually worked out ok. I made the red pepper shots and chocolate mousse the night before but managed the rest in about 3 hours the next day, with some help on the sandwiches.

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Recipes

Roasted red pepper shot – This recipe came from the BBC Good Food website. You basically just add all of the ingredients to one pot and then blend it once cooked. Nice and easy and you can keep it in the fridge overnight or even freeze it if you want to be extra prepared.

Feta and ricotta pastry swirls - These were a last minute addition to the menu. I mixed some leftover feta, ricotta, spinach and spring onions in a bowl and then spread it over some ready made puff pastry. Then I rolled it up and cut it into slices about 2cm thick. These went into the oven for about half hour and were served warm.

Sandwiches – These were pretty simple. We did some cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches and some turkey salad and cranberry sandwiches. I had a bread maker for my birthday a few months back so used that to make some fresh bread.

Scones – I used a Delia recipe for these. This was actually the first time I had made scones and was happy to find that they are pretty easy to make. We served them warm from the oven with clotted cream and raspberry jam. I will definitely be making these again!

Lemon cupcakesThis isn’t the exact recipe I used (mine came from a book I have) but it is almost exactly the same. The only difference is that I grated some lemon zest into the icing and also the juice of about half a lemon.

Balsamic berry chocolate mousse – This recipe came from a book I was given for my birthday a few years ago. Chococo is the perfect recipe book for chocolate lovers and, as well as this delicious mousse recipe, it also contains some amazing cakes and biscuit recipes and teaches you how to make chocolate truffles.

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Banoffee Cupcakes

My attempt at banoffee cupcakes didn’t go exactly to plan and I ended up with banana and fudge cupcakes instead. They still tasted pretty good so here is the recipe if you want to have a go. They do take longer to make than average cupcake recipes due to making the toffee (or fudge) from scratch so aren’t the ones to make when you’re short on time!
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Cupcake Ingredients
250 g unsalted butter
250 g caster sugar
4 eggs
1 ripe banana, mashed
250 g self-raising flour

Buttercream Ingredients
250g unsalted butter
550g icing sugar
9 tsp caramel, plus some extra for decoration

Caramel Ingredients
300 g caster sugar
80 ml water
350 ml double cream
½ tsp vanilla extract

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and put your cases in the tin. This recipe makes 24 cupcakes or 12 muffin sized cakes.
2. To make the cakes, beat the butter for a minute or so and then beat in the sugar until it becomes pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs gradually.
3. Stir in the mashed banana.
4. Gently fold in the flour.
5. Separate into the cake cases and put in the oven for around 20 minutes.
6. To make the caramel, heat all the ingredients in a pan over a medium heat and stir until it thickens. This is where I went wrong. I left the pan without stirring it which meant that the caramel over-thickened and turned out more like fudge once it had cooled.
7. To make the icing, beat the butter until it is creamy and then gradually beat in the icing sugar. I like to use an electric whisk as it makes the icing really fluffy! Lastly add the caramel. Even if your caramel ends up thick and crumbly like mine, you can still mix it into the icing and it will taste just as good! Add a tiny bit of milk if your icing needs thinning for piping, or just swirl the icing onto the cakes using a knife.
8. Decorate with the leftover caramel / fudge.

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Lush Popcorn Lip Scrub

Lush has so many lovely products but this Popcorn Lip Scrub is one of my favourites. It is made from sugar and salt, and flavoured with popping candy which smells and tastes delicious. The scrub also contains coconut and jojoba oil for moisture.

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It is brilliant at smoothing lips before applying a lip balm and I always use it before putting on lipstick as it makes sure that the colour looks even.  At £5.50 for a 25g tub, I think it is great value. I have been using mine a few times a week since November and have barely made a dent!

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NOTW: Victoria & Albert

Victoria & AlbertVictoria & AlbertColours used:
Nails Inc Victoria & Albert
Models Own Snowflakes

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