Friday, 27 February 2015

Vanilla Cupcakes with Pastel Icing | Recipe

On Saturday I had the sudden desire to bake and, as someone with limited baking skills and limited access to ingredients, I had to keep it simple. I ended up making these vanilla cupcakes with pastel green icing, and they were so good if I say so myself!



Ingredients

To make 12 cupcakes you will need:
  • 110g of butter or margarine, softened at room temperature
  • 110g of caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 110g of self-raising flour
  • 1-2 tablespoons of milk
For the buttercream icing you will need:
  • 140g of butter softened
  • 280g of icing sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons of milk
  • a few drops of food colouring
Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180⁰C (350⁰F) and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper bun cases.


2. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
(I used a mixer for this because I find it easier that way. You can also do it by hand though.)


3. Add in the beaten eggs a little at a time and stir in the vanilla extract.


4. Fold in the flour using a large metal spoon, adding the milk until the mixture has a dropping consistency. It's important that you fold in the flour instead of just stirring it in, as this is what will give the cupcakes a light and fluffy texture (meaning any lazy people like me who are using a mixer sadly have to put it aside). I actually didn't know how to fold in flour before making these cupcakes so I used this youtube video to guide me and I found it really useful.


5. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until they are about halfway full and bake them in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until they are golden-brown. Set aside to cool, remove them from the tin and set them on a wire rack.


6. For the buttercream icing, beat the butter in a large bowl until soft. Then add half the icing sugar and beat until smooth.


7. Add the remaining icing sugar and the milk, adding more milk if necessary, until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Then add the food colouring and mix well until combined.
(For anyone wondering, I used one drop of blue food colouring to get the pastel green colour)


8. Spoon the icing into a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe the icing using a spiralling motion onto the cup cakes in a large swirl. This is definitely easier said than done! This was my first time using a piping bag and it requires a lot more strength and practice than I'd anticipated! It didn't start off very well...


but I think I got better as time went on! :)


I wish I could have given you all a cupcake through the screen! 
So here's an invisible cupcake for you... :D

- Caoimhe x

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Boots Haul + Reviews

In the past month, I've made a few runs to Boots, going in specifically for something different each time. Of course, however, every time I'm there I see something else that catches my eye or something that's in a deal and so I come out with a little bit more than I had anticipated. So now I have a little collection of things I wanted to show you most of the products I have bought in the past few weeks and give a little mini review of each product.

Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer

As the hands-down most popular drugstore concealer among the blogging community, I had been wanting to try this concealer for ages but every time I went to Boots my shade was sold out. When I finally got my hands on it I was so happy. The first few times I used it, I used it solely on my chin, which was a bit red compared to the rest of my face. I was so happy with the coverage it gave me - it was full but not cakey and so it looked really natural on my skin. However, I have dry skin and during the winter my skin can get a bit flaky normally around my nose and on my forehead. I had a little cluster of spots on my head but when I applied this concealer to that area, it totally clung to the dryness of the skin there and looked so noticeable. Now I just apply this concealer to areas of my face which are oily/normal because that's when I find it works best.


Rimmel Hide the Blemish Concealer

 After my experience with the Lasting Perfection concealer, I wanted to find a more oily concealer that wouldn't cling to the dry areas on my face. Because this is a waxy formula I thought this might work, but I found it didn't really do much for my skin. The coverage wasn't enough to actually hide the blemishes and I found it really hard to blend out. I was pretty disappointed with this product.


Rimmel Fix and Perfect Primer

I only bought this on Thursday so I haven't had much of a 'go' with it. I've been wearing it under my makeup everyday since I got it and so far I'm liking it. My makeup has been lasting so long! In March once I've tested it more, I will write a detailed review on it.


Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer

I've been using this concealer for my under eye area now for 2 years. I find it really brightens up my dark circles (which can be really really scary at 7am on a school morning!) and conceals them really well. It also sits really well and doesn't crease or highlight the fine lines I have under my eyes, which can be a big problem for me with concealers. I just popped into Boots to pick this up because my last one had run out.


Rimmel Stay Matte Powder

This is another product I've been using for 2 years now. (When I first started wearing makeup at 14 I raided the Rimmel counter. I was literally like a walking, talking Rimmel sponsorship). What I love about this powder is that it keeps my face matte for long periods of time and it doesn't highlight my pores, which I find some other powders do. This one just smoothes over my face, sets my makeup in place and controls oil. Whenever I first started wearing makeup I had really oily skin and this powder basically saved my life!


Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Foundation

Again, like the primer, I only bought this on Thursday so I haven't used it enough to give an accurate review of it. So far I'm liking it a lot but in March once I've used and tested it more, I will write a detailed review (You can now read that here)


Have you tried any of these products? If so, did you like them? :)

- Caoimhe x

Saturday, 14 February 2015

My Beauty Wishlist

1. Benefit Roller Lash Mascara


I think this mascara is at the top of a LOT of people's beauty wishlist right now! Before applying mascara I curl my lashes because I find that if I don't, it sometimes looks like I'm not wearing any mascara, no matter how much I put on. I like my lashes looking long and curly and this mascara claims to do this just with the mascara alone, so you can throw away your eyelash curlers! Benefit took the feedback from their 'They're Real' mascara and made this one, which I can't wait to get my hands on!

2. Mac lipstick in the shade 'Velvet Teddy'


I've been eyeing up this lipstick for ages! It first became hugely popular after Kylie Jenner said she wore it, and around Christmas it was sold out in so many Mac retailers. I have been wanting this lipstick not because of Kylie but because of a youtuber called Chloe, also known as Glitteralittle. She used this lipstick in one of her videos and I thought it was just one of the prettiest lipsticks I'd ever seen! Since then, I'd heard so many more youtubers and bloggers talking about it. It's just such a pretty nude colour which I think is perfect for all skin tones.

3. Benefit Puff Off Eye Gel


A combination of the piles of homework and endless amounts of movies and TV shows on Netflix that have been severely impacting on my sleeping schedule have resulted in pretty bad puffiness under my eyes. I've been eyeing up this product pretty much since it came out! I love the cute packaging and the way the tip of it is shaped like an iron so it literally is ironing out your under-eye lines.

4. Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge


My skin can be a bit blotchy, especially at 7am in the morning before school, so I like a medium to full coverage of foundation to make my skin look smooth and give my face quite a flawless look, which sponges are perfect for. I've used sponges before but they've been pretty cheap ones and more foundation stayed on the sponges than went onto my face so I really want to give this sponge a go as I love the whole Real Techniques line.

5. Too Faced Chocolate Bar Eye Shadow Palette

This palette contains 16 matte and shimmer shades of browns, delicate pinks and plums. I love nude colours and I find they make my blue eyes pop. I love the fact that this palette has a mix of matte and shimmer shades because it means it can be used for everyday looks and also for going out. I'm in love with all the colours and the packaging that makes it look like a chocolate bar.

Have you used any of these products? If so, did you like them? Do you have anything on your beauty wishlist? :)

- Caoimhe x

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Top 5 Tunesday #7

Before I get into the actual content of this post, I want to apologise for my lack of blogging activity as of late. School has gotten so hectic this term as there are only about 10 teaching weeks before my AS exams begin (scary!). As a result, I've been laden with homework and essays and exams and I've just been so busy! However, I'm trying to get more organised with my blog so I can get back to posting twice a week again. Thank you for being patient with everything :)

Now without further ado, here are my top 5 most listened-to songs of January...



1. Up - Olly Murs and Demi Lovato

I can't quite put my finger on what exactly it is that I love so much about this song. I mean, other than the fact that it is sung by two of my favourite artists, whom I think are a perfect duo! Their voices complement each other so well and Demi's voice in the chorus is just amazing!

Every time I hear this song it gets me so excited to see Olly in concert in April! :D



2. You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile - Sia

I'm not going to lie. I wasn't fussed on this the first time I heard it. I was being a bit stubborn saying "the version from the original Annie is better" but the more I heard it on the radio the more I began to like and before I knew it was on my 'faves atm' Spotify playlist.

What I previously hadn't liked about it is now what I love about it - I love that Sia has modernised it to fit today's society, whilst still staying true to the original message of the song. Sia is fast becoming one of my favourite artists. I think her voice is incredible and she is such a distinct artist.



3. Lips Are Movin' - Meghan Trainor

Meghan is on a roll! First 'All About That Bass' and now this! I love how Meghan is showing she is not just a one trick pony. She can do more than just sing - she can rap, too. And boy can she rap! This song is so catchy and I love how upbeat and bright it is. I also love the style Meghan does her music videos in - they're quite distinct and I love watching them.



4. Uptown Funk - Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars

This song was everywhere in January and I know it will go on to be just as successful throughout February. I can definitely see why it has been so successful! It's such an upbeat, feel-good song. I can't help dancing whenever I listen to it (not as well as Bruno Mars I have to say...)



5. Always Be Together - Little Mix

This one a bit more personal for me. In my post 'My Trip To Madrid' I mentioned how I'd taken part in an exchange in 2013. I spent a week in Madrid in June and the Spaniards spent a week here in Northern Ireland in October. It's really hard to explain how close the 12 of us Irish ones got to the 12 Spaniards and when they left in October, everyone was so depressed. We knew that there was a huge chance we wouldn't see each other again. When the Spaniards were on the bus on the way to the airport to leave Ireland, one of them said that this song was perfect for the situation. For about a week after that I listened to this song on repeat and cried. No joke! I was heartbroken.

Last month, I got the opportunity to go back to Madrid to do work experience. I had the best time there, staying with one of the girls from the exchange before. But when I left I had that same depressed feeling. So, out came this song and hence why it was my 5th most listened-to song of January.



To see last month's top 5, click here

Have you been loving any of these same songs throughout January? :)

- Caoimhe x

Monday, 2 February 2015

Oh DEAR | Dec/Jan Reviews

At the end of November, I set myself the goal of reading four books by the end of January: Lola and the Boy Next Door, Girl Online, Eleanor and Park, and The Maze Runner. Fortunately, I had quite a bit of time to read over the Christmas holidays and have now read all 4 books (unlike November's disaster...)



'Lola and the Boy Next Door' by Stephanie Perkins 

"Could the boy from her past be the love of her future?

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn't believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit—the more sparkly, more fun, more wild—the better. And life is pretty close to perfect in Lola's world, especially with her hot rocker boyfriend. That is, until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood and unearth a past of hurt and anguish that Lola thought was long buried. When talented inventor Cricket steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door."

~

I enjoyed reading this book. It's well-written, contains some good characters and is a good light read. The only thing was that I found the actual plot to be a bit bland and predictable. I knew what was going to happen from even the first page and nothing happened in the book to make me believe anything different would happen, which is something that I maybe would like to have seen.

I really like the character of Lola but I would liked to have seen the Bell twins portrayed a bit differently, especially Calliope. She is supposed to be this confident, bitchy girl with so much power over Lola but I didn't really get that feel from her. Lola seems to hate Calliope so I do think she could have been portrayed as a lot meaner than she was.

All in all, 'Lola and the Boy Next Door' is great if you're looking for a light, romantic read. As I said, it is well-written and has some good characters in it. For me, it's just a case of personal preference, I think - I prefer books where I can really get my teeth into the storyline or where there's a bit of an element of mystery.

Rating 3/5
★★★


'Girl Online' by Zoe Sugg


" Penny has a secret.

Under the alias Girl Online, Penny blogs her hidden feelings about friendship, boys, her crazy family and the panic attacks that have begun to take over her life. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets Noah: a gorgeous, guitar-strumming American. Suddenly Penny is falling in love - and capturing every moment of it on her blog.

But Noah has a secret too. One that threatens to ruin Penny's cover - and her closest friendship - forever."



~
(Note: I know there has been a lot of drama and speculation surrounding this book regarding ghost writers etc and there still remains divided opinions. I'm going to ignore all of that and write a review based on the book itself)
~

I really really enjoyed this book. For me, it has the perfect balance between romance and an interesting storyline. We don't find out Noah's secret until near the end of the book and then everything starts to unravel.

I love the character of Penny and felt I could relate to her on so many levels, especially regarding the clumsy and embarrassing moments that seem to follow her everywhere!! I think that my personality is quite similar to Penny's and I just found that I could really understand her.

I love that there was a total plot twist after Penny returned from New York because considering how many pages were left I was sort of thinking "Hmmm, where will Zoe take this?" But I think it was brilliant and so appropriate to modern society (I won't say anymore because I don't want to spoil it for anyone ;) )

I think it's great, too, that Zoe added her own personal touches to the book like Penny living in Brighton and having a blog and, most of all, that she suffers from anxiety and panic attacks. I love that Zoe is sending out the message that you are not alone and it is possible to overcome these problems.

I really love this book, and I'm not just saying that because I love Zoe. I'm saying that because I love the storyline, the characters and the message. I can't wait for the sequel to come out later this year!

Rating: 5/5
★★★★★


'Eleanor and Park' by Rainbow Rowell




"Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try."

~

I'm going to be brutally honest here. This book didn't live up to my expectations.

It's not that I didn't like it - I did, overall. I love the messages it gave about body image and self-confidence and diversity in not only race but social class. 

It's just that there were times where I felt like the storyline was dragging a bit and not really going anywhere. Eleanor also frustrated me at times when she got annoyed at Park for no apparent reason, walking out of his house and then afterwards acting normal. I just didn't understand that. That aspect of her personality did annoy me a bit if I'm honest.

Okay, enough negativity.

I love the character of Park. I think he is so sweet and caring and I love the whole fearless side of himself that he developed through being with Eleanor. As for Eleanor, I didn't feel like I, personally, could relate much to her but I do like her character and I admire her amazing courage - not only in terms of how she dresses but also how she deals with her abusive stepfather.

Although, as I said, I feel like this book didn't quite live up to my expectations, I did like the whole story and grew to love Eleanor and Park's relationship. I was so sad with the way it ended!

Rating: 4/5
★★★★


'The Maze Runner' by James Dashner


" When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift. Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind."

~

As a major fan of the Hunger Games series, I had been meaning to read this book for so long! I'd just never actually gotten round to it. But I'm so glad I did this month because I absolutely LOVED it! It's fast-paced, action-packed and gripping the whole way through. There is also an element of mystery regarding Thomas' identity and how the teenagers ended up in the maze. It made me want to skip right to the end and find out! I stayed strong, though, and just kept reading before all was revealed.

The storyline itself I found really interesting, and some parts were so smart the way Dashner wrote them. I found it difficult to put the whole book down, never mind the really exciting action scenes.

I really like the character of Thomas and I like the way we are with him right from his first day in the Glade, learning everything about the maze etc with him instead of from him. It made it more interesting that way.

I know that this book wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea but if you are a fan of The Hunger Games or Divergent, then I would highly recommend it to you. It has basically all the elements of those two series, just with a bit less of the romance element (something which I think we'll see more of in the sequel, 'The Scorch Trials'). I'm definitely going to read the sequel and watch the movie when it comes out on DVD next week!

Rating: 5/5
★★★★★


The 4 books I aim to have read by the end of March are:

'Jenny Unravelled' by Pauline McLynn
'True Love Always' by Siobhan Curham
'If I Stay' by Gayle Forman
'All The Bright Places' by Jennifer Niven

If you have read any of the books mentioned in this post, I would love to know what you thought of them! Or if you have any recommendations for books to read after the four above, I would love to hear them aswell :)


- Caoimhe x

 

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