Monday, 31 May 2010

The 'Perfect Chocolate Muffin' Recipe

I'm really into my baking at the moment, it seems to be the only form of cooking I can pull off with some degree of success! I've spent my bank holiday Monday morning doing a million loads of laundry (and this is without a baby yet?!), washing up, and baking some deliciously delectable chocolate muffins! Oh so domesticated, yes, you may call me goddess!

I don't claim the rights to this recipe of course, but if you'd like to try making some yummy chocolaty goodness for yourself, then follow these instructions (this made 17 muffins for me, in standard sized muffin cases filled up about 3/4 of the way)...

You will need:
250g self raising flour
25g cocoa powder
2tsp baking powder
175g caster sugar
175ml milk
2 large eggs, beaten
100ml sunflower oil
2 tsp vanilla extract (I used pure vanilla - from Grenada!)
1 generous helping of chocolate drops/chunks (I used white and milk)
12+ muffin cases

You need to:
Preheat your oven to 170ºC/gas mark 5 and line your muffin/baking tray with cases (this recipe actually states 12, but as I said, I got 17 from my mixture!). Sift together the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and then add the caster sugar. Roughly mix it all together. I then added the eggs (pre beaten), oil and vanilla, stirred it up a bit, then gradually added in the milk. Stir everything up really well until you have a lump free mixture, then chuck in your chocolate chunks/drops. This recipe really is fool proof - trust me, if I can do it, anyone can! Dollop your mixture into the muffin cases until they are roughly 3/4 full, pop them into the oven and bake for approx. 20 - 25 minutes. To check they are cooked to perfection, gently push down on the top to see if they are light and springy. Leave to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes...then gobble one up like I did!

Saturday, 29 May 2010

A Review: No7 Dual Protection Tinted Moisturiser

No 7 Dual Protection Tinted Moisturiser
SPF 15

What Do I Think?
This post by Emma reminded me that I've shamefully not blogged about another of my all time favourite, and most used, products. I wouldn't say I'm constantly on the hunt for the perfect foundation, but I am always open to trying out new ones, especially if they come highly recommended. Like Emma, I'm surprised there is not more talk of this product on the beauty blogging scene! I am actually more partial to lighter formulations of foundation, typically those that are tinted moisturisers, or along that line. No7 is a brand I have dabbled with many a time, primarily because it is readily available in Boots stores, and they always seem to be offering the '£5 off' voucher promotion, which inevitably makes your purchases a lot cheaper. One product I consistently use and repurchase is their Dual Protection Tinted Moisturiser, which contains an SPF15 - bonus. I don't need/want a huge amount of coverage from my foundation or TM, and with a little concealer under the eyes and on any blemishes, this product is perfect for me. I use the shade for fair skin - medium, even in the summer, is a touch too dark and needs too much blending, whereas fair is spot on and effortless to apply. Some tinted moisturisers make my skin feel greasy, which, especially in the warmer months, is not something I'm happy with, but I have never experienced that with this No7 one. It adds a just a hint of healthy colour and glow to my skin, and gives it some extra moisture to boot. I normally use this over my normal moisturiser and SPF (review coming soon), and finish with a light touch of MAC MSF Natural. *

Where Is It Available?
No7 is available exclusively from Boots in the UK.

How Much Will It Cost?
This is £11.00, but if you're a bargain hunter wait until the £5.00 No7 vouchers are doing the rounds again!

Would I Recommend It?
Hell yeah, I really love this stuff, and have previously got some friends hooked on it too! FYI I have normal - oily skin, and this product works great for me. It is suitable for 'all skin types', and I do agree with this - it would give dry skin an extra moisture hit, but it's not greasy or oily so it won't aggravate those skintypes. My skin is also quite sensitive, and I've never had any reactions from this.

Star Rating:

*At the moment my 'face' routine after moisturiser involves Clinique City Block SPF 25 or 40, which I'll blog about soon, and either this TM or Bourjois Healthy Mix over the top. If I'm a) really rushing or b) really hot, I might sometimes just use the SPF and MAC MSF Natural then I'm good to go. Either way, this product gets a lot of loving from me, and I think this is my third or fourth tube - it lasts for ages though!

In & Out: May

The end of another month is upon us...June puts me into my seventh month of pregnancy, and into official panic mode - I feel very unprepared and overwhelmed, in both good and bad ways if that is possible?!


Baking ~ I've always liked to bake a good cake! Baking was something I really enjoyed when I was younger, it was something I did with my Mum and I especially loved licking the bowl afterwards! I will definitely bake with my children (don't worry, I'll let my baby grow up a bit before I have him/her in the kitchen with me!). Every Wednesday my sister and I see each other for 'sisters night', and our tradition now seems to involve baking and watching episodes of Come Dine With Me. We've had a couple of, ahem, failures, but on the whole we enjoy baking some tasty treats each week - although Lucy, this week you forgot to take some home! I've been getting most of my recipe inspiration from the domestic goddess Franky, and as a 'not-so-competent-cook' baking is something relatively easy that gives me satisfaction.

Baby kicks ~ Feeling my baby kick is quite possibly, one of the best feelings ever. I'm a natural born worrier, and there is so much to potentially worry about during pregnancy, but feeling those kicks, prods and somersaults sets my mind at ease, and I know my little bun is cooking well in my oven (spot the inadvertent baking reference)! I sure am going to miss my bump when it's gone, but I can't wait to meet my baby - not tooooooo long now, although we're not ready yet, so stay in there until your due date please!

BBQ's ~ Simply one of the best things about summer is BBQ's - there is nothing better than a balmy summer evening, good company and delicious BBQ food and salad to munch on. All meat tastes better BBQ'd, and even the veggie stuff is extra yummy too (I was a vegetarian for years so I know first hand!). All that is missing for me is a nice, ice cold, glass of Pimms...

Baby clothes and assorted paraphernalia ~ So. Damn. Cute!


Lost ~ Colin and I have religiously watched Lost from the very first episode aired six (yes, six!) years ago (coincidentally, the same amount of time we've been together!). There won't be any spoilers here by the way, because I know how infuriatingly annoying it is to have someone talk about a season finale before you've seen it - burns my eyes! The season finale of Lost aired worldwide on Monday this week (at 5am in the UK - I did not get up to watch it, that is what Sky+ is for!), and after six years of being hooked to every single episode and frustration at the ridiculous cliff hangers they would leave viewers on, I was expecting something big, something incredible. Did I get that. No. Some fans are happy with the ending, some (myself and Colin included) are most definitely not. I personally (and I don't think this gives anything away at all, but feel free to not read if you've not seen it and want to make your own mind up) think the ending was a huge waste of time, a real shame and it could have been done in a much better way. It's not so much that I didn't understand it, as some 'helpful' friends tried to insinuate, I just thought it was rubbish, really disappointing, I almost wish I hadn't actually watched it!

Skin sensitivity ~ Woah peeps - word of warning, when you're pregnant, your skin is super duper sensitive to the sun, even more so if you are fair skinned like me! I am thoroughly enjoying the bouts of sunshine (lets ignore the rain today!), even if I do feel hugely uncomfortable in the heat with my bump, but I am not enjoying how much more sensitive to the sun my skin is - I sat out in the garden, in the shade/dappled sunlight, last weekend for a few hours, with my puzzle book (so cool!), wearing SPF30, and burnt. To a crisp! Luckily, only my lower legs, but I couldn't believe how quickly and how badly I got burnt. Hello Aloe Vera, you are my BFF!

Money worries ~ Urgh! I hate worrying about money, but I seem to spend a hugely unfair proportion of my time doing it. Yes, I like to earn it and spend it, but no matter how frugal you try to be, there is just never enough. I'm so worried about money that I even dream about it, which sucks! I've just made a nice little amount of money selling some things on eBay (things I didn't expect to sell for much, but they did pretty well), but I just wish there wasn't so much to buy all of the time! Colin and I are only renting at the moment, but luckily our landlord has said we can decorate to our hearts content, but it costs so much more than you think it will! The nursery is obviously first priority, and that is pretty much done now, next I want to just put a fresh coat of white in our bedroom and the living room, freshen up (and tone down!) the yellow paint in the kitchen, re-do the bathroom which is a peeling mess in places...I know it doesn't all need to be done, but I am pregnant and nesting, therefore I am allowed to say it does!

Book Review: L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad

One of my favourite bloggers Amy came up with the idea to start a Bloggers Book Club - anyone can join in, check her blog for more details! Everyone who wanted to participate had the chance to vote for the books we would read from the original suggestions, and the first book (for May) is what I will be reviewing now. My comments are posted on Amy's blog, but I thought I would post a slightly more detailed opinion on my blog too - why not!

L.A. Candy
Lauren Conrad

I've pinched the book description from Amy's blog, I hope she won't mind:

"In L.A. Candy, nineteen-year-old Jane Roberts moves to L.A. and unexpectedly becomes the star of a reality TV show. With fame comes wealth, hot clothes, and even hotter love interests -and Jane’s lapping it all up with her eclectic entourage of pals who are always up for a wild night out and the chance to get a piece of her spotlight. But soon Jane realizes everyone wants something from her, and nothing is what it seems to be. L.A. Candy is a fast-paced, honest, and entertaining fictional account of what it’s like to come of age in Hollywood while starring in a reality TV show, written by a girl who has experienced it all firsthand: Lauren Conrad."

Amy posed the questions for this book:

1) What are you expecting this book to be like, how do you feel about reading it?
2) Halfway through do you still feel the same etc?
3) Final thoughts? Would you recommend it? Do you wish there was a corresponding film etc?

1) I had VERY low expectations for this book – now, I’d like to think that’s not me being snobby, but perhaps it is, I’ll let you all decide! I’ve seen The Hills, and I whilst I think Lauren Conrad dresses very nicely, is very pretty and certainly has an enviable life in terms of money, that is all I know about her, and wouldn’t say I particularly care for her. I don’t follow the tabloids, or religiously watch the show, so I didn’t even know she had a book out to be honest. I also thought this book was about her, in an autobiographical sense, I didn’t realise it was a ‘novel’, so my initial expectations and resulting outcomes are quite different! I thought it would be an easy read, something to use to switch off at the end of a long, stressful day – we all have them, and we all need books like that!

2) Halfway through reading it (which took all of about 10 minutes it seemed) I was, in truth, pretty bored because it wasn’t really stimulating me, and the Chapters are all ridiculously short in my opinion, so it felt like the book was very stop, start, stop, start – even if they do all 'flow' on. I did ‘get into it’ a little more in the second half I guess you could say, but I wouldn’t say I was necessarily enjoying reading it, I just wanted to finish it in all honesty, and move onto something a little more interesting. I suppose this opinion is because reality TV (other than 'talent' shows like X Factor and Britain's Got Talent) really isn't my cup of tea, I find it all very superficial - which it doesn't claim not to be - and boring. I found myself very frustrated whilst reading this, particularly toward the end, because - without wanting to spoil it for anyone - Jane's character seems so clued up and clueless, and that is something that really irritates me when reading - it was one of those situations where you want to grab the person and shake them for being so ridiculous - but perhaps that is a sign that I got into the book more than I thought?!

3) My final thoughts on this would be that I was quite surprised at Lauren’s writing style…I was both impressed and disappointed – I think she could have written it a lot better, but she also managed to capture interest and tell the story quite well – albeit a little briefly in my opinion. I would describe LA Candy as more of a short story than a full on book, and although I do read quite fast and competently, this literally took me a few hours to read in all, and I prefer books to last a little longer – that is just MY opinion and what I prefer though! I think a film accompanying this book is a little pointless given that, although fictional, it is clearly a reflection of The Hills, and based somewhat on the reality of reality TV shows. I think this book will appeal to people who like an easy, effortless read, light entertainment and nothing too gritty – it’s a good holiday book I would say. Fans of Lauren will no doubt love it, and I didn’t dislike it, I just perhaps wouldn’t have picked it myself!

Thanks for setting up this Bloggers Book Club Amy, it was a nice experience to read something a little different from normal (although I am quite a chick lit girl at heart), and I really enjoyed reviewing it.

A Review: Palmers Cocoa Butter

Palmers Cocoa Butter
With Vitamin E

What Do I Think?
There are some products that don't have glitzy packaging, crazily steep price tags or claims to feature the latest 'fad' skincare ingredient. These types of products just sit, unassumingly, in our bathrooms, knowing that whilst they might not come with bells and whistles, they work, and they work damn well. I call that silent satisfaction. One of these products is, of course, the infamous Palmers Cocoa Butter...I'm sure every single person in the universe knows about it, and if you didn't, you do now! Palmers have now branched into other 'scents' and formulations, like Shea, Olive Oil and Coconut, but are most well known for their original Cocoa Butter formula lotion. To me, this lotion is the perfect formulation - even in these stickier, warmer climates - it's not too thick or too thin, it sinks into the skin instantly without leaving a greasy residue, is incredibly moisturising, softening and nourishing, and you notice an almost immediate positive effect on your skin after use. Palmers is definitely my pregnancy saviour so far - my bump cries out for it I swear, it smells DIVINE (to the point where I sometimes make myself hungry and almost take a bite out of myself!), it's really affordable and it is so effective it's a wonder it isn't the prime minister! There are many strings to the Palmers Cocoa Butter bow, for example evening out skintones, reducing the appearance of the dreaded stretch marks and scars, smoothing rough, scaly patches...the list is seemingly endless! I literally wouldn't be without this product, and whilst it might get pushed to the back of a drawer in a momentary lapse of use (something with bells and whistles came onto the scene for 5 seconds), I have, and will continue to, repurchase this many, many a time. I want to get my hands on the specific stretch mark massage lotion next, and I hear they do a bust firming lotion too - I'm so there!

Where Is It Available?
Palmers is literally available everywhere! Check their website for more details.

How Much Will It Cost?
Palmers Cocoa Butter comes in various shapes and sizes, so the prices will vary, but normally start from approx. £3.00 - depending on where you shop.

Would I Recommend It?
Er...duh, didn't you read what I said?! Hehe! YES!!

Star Rating:

Monday, 24 May 2010

Celebrity Pregnancies

I'm not a huge fan of following celebrities, gossip magazines are pretty much reserved for long train journeys, and the only people I regularly stalk(!) are Cheryl Cole and Ed Westwick - yes, you may call me shallow!

However, one thing that has intrigued me is the popularity for celebs posing naked, with their bumps - the only time I think it is really acceptable if I'm honest, you can call me a prude! I think the pregnant form is so beautiful, and I know I'm biased because I am proudly sporting my own bump, but a sophisticated nude pregnant magazine cover is something I don't mind seeing - as opposed to those delightful 'lads mags' covers.

***If nudity in any way offends you, please don't continue to read this...***

I think I am correct in saying these poses were inspired by the now infamous Demi Moore for Vanity Fair cover from 1991:

The most recent I've seen is leggy blonde supermodel Claudia Schiffer for (German) Vogue:

One of my personal favourites is Myleene Klass for Glamour, I can identify with this woman, she's overcome a lot of 'body issues', and is now a healthy, successful and confident woman, which we should definitely celebrate and embrace, I really love this photo:

I'm not a huge fan of Britney Spears, but she does look really glowing and healthy on her Harpers Bazaar Cover:

There may be more out there that I don't know about, but finally is Christina Aguilera, who I have always loved, for Marie Claire:

I gotta lotta love for the baby bumps!

A Review: Ciate Love Me Oil

Ciate Love Me Oil
Cranberry Cuticle Oil

What Do I Think?
My nails are on somewhat of a pregnancy related crash and burn at the moment, they grow super fast, look lovely for about 10 seconds, then flake, split or break off right along the nail bed...nice! Take the rough with the smooth right?! Any product that will give my nails and cuticles and bit of a helping hand (excuse the pun) at the moment is welcome, so when this Ciate product landed on my doormat I was intrigued to try it out. Now, I have to confess, cuticle care is not something I spend much time on, I normally use the products mentioned here, when I remember/can be bothered. The Love Me Oil is simply a scented cuticle oil, in this case Cranberry, which you rub onto your cuticles and nails to prevent those pesky hang nails and dry cuticles - I have no idea if my cuticles are dry in all honesty, but I do suffer from hang nails! I really didn't like the smell, its very artificially fruit scented, and too sweet for my nose I think, it made me crinkle up my face and everything! I've since discovered Ciate do an Almond scented one, which would probably be more up my street! The only other cuticle product I've used more than once is the one from the aforementioned post, so I was obviously comparing it to that, and I didn't feel that this oil was as smooth or deeply penetrating. It didn't really sink in too well, and I felt like I had to use quite a bit for any noticeable effect. I can't honestly say it made much of a difference to my cuticles or hang nails, so I wasn't particularly impressed.

Where Is It Available?
Ciate is available to purchase online from their website, and other online retailers.

How Much Does It Cost?
£10.00 for 13.5ml

Would I Recommend It?
I'm a fan of the Ciate Paint Pots, but to be honest, I think this Love Me Oil is priced too highly and doesn't really have good enough effects to warrant me buying it, or recommending it. Each to their own, and as I said, I have no idea about nail care really, but this didn't blow me away, and it definitely isn't a stand out product from the vast Ciate range.

Star Rating:

*Disclaimer: this product was sent to me by a PR company for review purposes, I am not affiliated in any way with the PR company or Ciate. As ever, my thoughts are my own, I generated them all myself :)

Sunday, 23 May 2010

This weekend I have...

...been inspired by the GORGEOUS Franky to write this blog post!

...been celebrating Colin's birthday (he was 31 years young on Saturday and this time last year was nursing an even bigger hangover after the surprise birthday party I threw him!) in the sunshine with family, good friends, and yummy BBQ food! I wish I could have spoilt him more, but he had a great day and that's all that counts :)

...been baking said birthday boy a yummy birthday cake...and enjoying eating it!

...been gardening with my Mum and Dad. My Mum is a fabulous, keen gardener, but sadly I don't appear to have inherited her 'green fingers', I have a horrible tendency to kill most plants she gives me! However, we have a much nicer garden at our new place, and I'm inspired to keep it nice! My Dad mowed the lawn and hacked away at some overgrown bushes whilst my Mum and I potted some plants up.

...been enjoying the lovely weather. If anything, it brings out the boring side of me - it's fabulous clothes drying weather ;) It's nice to wake up with the sun streaming through the windows and seeing blue sky outside, everything seems so much better when the sun is shining! Having said that...I have...

...been very, very hot!

...been getting ouchy sunburn on my legs despite covering myself in suncream and sitting pretty much in the shade! Aloe Vera, I shall be needing you my friend!

...been cleaning and waxing mine and Colin's cars! Perhaps not quite the best weather for us to be out slaving over our cars, but they look so nice and shiny now, so it was worth the bucket loads of sweat (TMI!).

...been eating ice lollies...Twisters are the best accessory to a hot afternoon!

...painting my toenails (with difficulty) in the Diet Coke/Nails Inc 'New York' shade, a gorgeously bright summer pink.

...writing lists! A 'what we still need to get for the baby' list, a 'what I will pack for my hospital bag' list, a food shopping list (payday tomorrow!) and a 'to do' list!

...been looking forward to a little Monday Morning lie in! I have the midwife at 10.15, so that means I get to luxuriate in bed for a while longer than normal! Plus, it's bank holiday Monday next week too, bonus!

...eagerly anticipating the finale of Lost...I've watched it religiously for 6 years (yes, it really has been on that long - and coincidentally that is how long I've been with Colin!) and I can't wait to see how they end it. I'm sure there will be just as many questions and we'll still all be 'Lost'...but isn't that the idea?! NO SPOILERS PLEASE!

Pregnancy Survival Guide: The Third Trimester: #1

My First and Second Trimester Pregnancy Survival Guides have been assembled (jumbled) into two posts after I have experienced them, but after the Third Trimester I'm actually going to have a baby, and you know, I reckon I might be quite busy, and not have much time (or energy) to sit down and compile a blog post - if I do, I can guarantee it won't make sense! Therefore, I have decided to do individual Survival Guide posts as and when I think of/experience things, in the hope they will be comprehensive and comprehensible!

So, #1: are you sleeping comfortably? The answer is very likely to be a big fat no! The later on into your pregnancy you get, the bigger your beautiful bump gets, and the more uncomfortable you get. It's not fair, but it is inevitable, and you really just need to go through some good old fashioned trial and error to find a position for sleeping that actually allows you to feel comfortable enough to drift off. In fact, the big 'buzzword' for the whole third trimester is comfort - your body is changing even more, every day, and preparing to allow your little baby to enter the world, and this is bound to cause some degree of discomfort for Yummy Mummy to be!

These are a few methods I have tried in the pursuit of a good, comfortable nights sleep:

~ Establish a bedtime routine: if you didn't already have a bedtime routine, now is the time to get yourself one! Unless you are one of the lucky ones who has no trouble falling asleep, then you will know that going from 900 miles an hour to stop and sleep just doesn't work, you need to make time to wind down and get ready for bed. Establishing a good night time routine is good practice too, because you will need to adapt one for baby when he/she comes along, and yours will probably need to be adapted to fit in night time feeds and all of the other associated night time baby activity!

~ Don't eat or drink too late: you will probably have worked out now that if you down a pint of liquid before you go to bed, you will be up at least 900 times in the night to pee! DON'T DO IT! Staying well fed and hydrated is essential during pregnancy, but try your hardest not to drink huge amounts after about 7/8pm, because your bladder is not what it used to be! Also, try not to eat too late, keep food, especially big meals, to before 8pm if you can manage it. If you're anything like me you will be ravenously hungry before bed, so abstaining from food completely is impossible, and I like to have a small snack (biscuit/cracker/cereal) and a glass of milk about half an hour before I bed down.

~ Keep your bedroom for sleeping: this applies to everyone really, not just pregnant ladies! The more you use your bedroom for, and the more time you spend in there, the less it becomes about a room purely designed for sleeping, and the harder it will be to switch off. I found this quite hard once I got my own place, yes it's nice to sit on a sofa, but I was used to living out of one room at Uni, but honestly, making a concerted effort to save the bedroom for nightly activity(!!) made a big difference to how quickly I drift off to sleep.

~ Warm baths: a crucial part of a bedtime routine, a nice warm bath, preferably with lavender scented bubbles (or something equally relaxing and sleep inducing) provides the ideal opportunity for you to start winding down and switching off from the day. You don't have to soak for hours, although with all your aches you might feel like you want to, but even a good ten minute soak in the tub is enough to get you into bedtime mode.

~ Lavender pillow spray: a lavender essential oil would be fabulous, but I don't have any, so I use a lavender scented pillow spray (mine is just from Boots) and spritz it over my pillows, duvet and general bed area (much to the dislike of Colin!). Lavender is well known for it's relaxing and sleep inducing properties, so if you find it hard to switch off and shut down then give this a try. At the very least, a nice smelling, fresh bed is better than nothing!

~ Use pillows to support your bump/back: if you think your body has a lot to deal with supporting your growing bump, and the pressure it puts on your back, think of how that needs to continue when you lie down. Our friend gravity pulls bump down toward the bed, meaning there is a lot of pressure on your unsupported back, which causes those aforementioned aches and pains. I also find that my legs need some support, so propping pillows between your knees, in your lower back and under your bump can help to support you much better than the mattress alone, and will greatly help to reduce some of those aches. Colin actually bought me a special Dreamgenii Pregnancy Pillow, which as you can see from the link, fits into the new curves of your body and supports you well, whether you are on your left or right side.

~ Make sure you're not too hot or too cold: I prefer to sleep with the window ajar, and the room nice and dark. If the window is shut the room gets too stuffy, I get too hot and can't breathe properly, and none of that in conducive to sleep! Now the weather is heating up it's essential to find a sleeping temperature that is optimal for you - hopefully your partner is obliging to it too! One thing I've noticed through my pregnancy is that I have a permanently sniffy, blocked nose - which is also in part down to my allergies - so having the window open helps me there too.

If you're a bad sleeper, like me, unfortunately you will probably struggle to drift off into the wonderland of dreamsville even more now you are heavily pregnant, but just try and make it as comfortable an experience as possible, for both of your sake!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

A Review: Sheer Cover Make Up

Sheer Cover Mineral Makeup
30 Day Introductory Kit - R.R.P. £29.99

What Do I Think?
First thoughts upon receiving the Sheer Cover kit were that it was packaged really well, which counts for a lot in my book, efforts made on presentation tick boxes! I was also impressed at how much you receive in the intro kit -
kind of obviously perhaps because the point of an intro kit is to introduce you to the products - and I liked that there is a little information/instruction book which guides you through each product and how to use them - nice touch. This kit is designed to be a 30 day introduction, so bear that in mind when thinking of the sizes/quantities of the products. You get two skincare items - the Conditioning Cleanser (60ml) and the Nourishing Moisturiser SPF15 (30ml), which are obviously designed to be used in prepping the skin prior to make up application - we all know good make up starts with good skincare, so I liked the fact these products were included. You get two 1.5g pots of Mineral Foundation (you chose your colour range when ordering, from light, medium, tan and dark) and a 1.5g Concealer Duo (again, colour is specified from the colour range you chose). There is also a Mascara (4ml) and 7 bonus gifts which include a Colour Compact and four Make Up Brushes (2 x face brushes, one eye brush and one concealer). At the moment I have a cleansing and moisturising routine/products that I like, is working and I'm not inclined to deviate from it, so aside from trying these out the two skincare items for a couple of days I didn't use them: they were nothing special, the moisturiser was a little too greasy for my skin, and I actually didn't think that it left a good base for the mineral foundation. The two Foundation shades for 'light' skintones are Bisque and Nude, both of which are unfortunately upon reflection just to dark and yellow toned for my skin. I did try out both shades for about 7 days (not consecutively) and enjoyed using them, but ultimately the colours were not a good match for my skintone which was disappointing. Personally I feel there should be more choice with the foundation colours for the kits, it is very unlikely that everyone with a 'light', 'medium', 'tan' or 'dark' skintone is going to match exactly to one or both of the two shades. In terms of coverage I was really surprised with this Foundation, I've never dabbled too much in mineral make up, purely because I was of the assumption the face would look powdery and cakey, and I'm sure there are mineral products that would do that, but the Sheer Cover foundation applies and blends nicely, covers blemishes and imperfections and has a nice natural finish (if you look beyond the yellow tone on my skin!). I was impressed, but perhaps not impressed enough because it is hard to judge a foundation correctly when it's simply the wrong shade for you. The Concealer comes in duo form, with a lighter and darker shade, and out of all of the products in the kit, this is the one thing I'd be tempted to repurchase, because it's a great creamy consistency, not too thick or too thin, it doesn't cake or settle into lines, and it helped to conceal my (awful) dark circles and blemishes/redness really well. In my opinion the mascara isn't worth dwelling on, I didn't expect it to be any good, and it wasn''s not that I'm picky about mascara per se, but I know what I do and don't like! I decided not to use the Colour Compact because I knew that a friend would like to try it out, but from other reviews I have seen, there are no stand out products/colours from it that I missed out on - plus, I feel good for sharing! The four brushes I have mixed opinions on...the face brush, which I used in place of a kabuki, for applying the mineral foundation is a decent size, and picks up a decent amount of product, but it's just a bit too scratchy on the skin, and I really had to work at blending the product in with it. There is another face brush that has a compartment for filling with your foundation (or a mix of the two shades) but I didn't use that, the brush looked too small and again, quite scratchy. The concealer brush is nice for applying concealer to blemishes or other areas you may need to conceal, but not so good for the under eye area, but then I prefer to use my fingers to apply and blend my concealer anyway! The large eye brush (well, that's what I use it for!) is really, really nice, a lot softer than the other brushes, and is perfect for an all over wash of colour, I use this pretty much everyday. This is a pretty hefty review, so I'm not going to bog you down with much more, I will just say that my overall opinion of the Sheer Cover products is immediately tarnished by the fact you have to sign up to a monthly payment plan if you wish to use them, or buy the products individually but I personally think they are overpriced for the quantity and quality. I think this is a good starter kit to mineral make up, if you can find a shade to suit your skintone, and I do like the concept of mineral make up, and will endeavour to use it again, I just don't think Sheer Cover is for me.

Where Is It Available?
Sheer Cover is available to buy in some department stores (my friend has seen it in Debenhams) and on the Sheer Cover website. Click here for more info from the site itself.

How Much Will It Cost?
This introductory kit retails for £29.99.

Would I Recommend It?
In theory yes, and no! In my opinion it's a good coverage foundation, the concealer is brilliant, and it is all presented beautifully, but there are a lot of products in the kit I just didn't like, or that I think were not of a high enough quality. If you want to try mineral make up then look into Sheer Cover, but I won't be using it again for all of the reasons I've stated above.

Star Rating:

I found it quite hard to rate this, because whilst I like some of the products, the foundation colours did not match me exactly and the brushes were quite poor quality. I really don't like the idea of the plan you have to sign up to, I wouldn't want to be tied to a payment plan, so for that reason, I felt I couldn't rate this any higher than a 3.

*Disclaimer: I was sent these products to review by Sheer Cover's PR company. I chose what I would like to receive from a list of products, and having always been interested in trying mineral foundation properly, I opted for this kit. I'm not affiliated with Sheer Cover or the PR company. As always, all views expressed are my very own :)

Sunday, 16 May 2010

NOTD: Barry M & OPI

I have a few nail polishes that I've been meaning to do NOTD's of for ages, and given that my nails are in such a sorry state at the moment, I thought I'd painstakingly swatch them all on my one remaining long nail! All of these have had two coats with no base or top coat - to make it fairer, and some fare better than others as you will see!

First up we have Barry M Nail Paint - Pale Yellow

I love Barry M Nail Paints, they are really good value for money, good consistency and have a pretty good longevity and normally they are really great at being perfect 'bottle colour' after two coats. However, as you can see, with this shade it gets that horrible 'dragged' look near the cuticle which I HATE and is difficult to cover without a trillion coats. I like the colour, although I definitely would not say this is a pale colour, it's actually a pretty bright, canary type yellow! Sometimes the Barry M polishes can dry to a tacky finish if you have too much product on the brush, so my tip is to use more thin layers than less thicker ones.

Secondly we have OPI Nail Lacquer - Jade Is The New Black

It was love at first sight for me and this OPI Nail Lacquer. I saw it, had to have it, bought it, used it, fell in love! The colour is superb, I think it's pretty unique and un-dupe-able, the consistency is brilliant (as one would expect from OPI!), the longevity is really quite something and I just adore this! I think this colour is surprisingly wearable too, I happily wear it to work in my office environment. Another thing I love about this is the large brush which makes application as easy as 1, 2, 3!

Thirdly we have OPI Nail lacquer - Off with her Red

This OPI Nail Lacquer is from the Alice in Wonderland collection, which I blogged about here. I really like this red, I think its slightly orange toned, but still very red. These are mini's, so obviously the brush and bottle are much smaller in comparison to a normal OPI polish (3.75ml/15ml), but they still apply really nicely and evenly.

Finally is OPI Nail Lacquer - Thanks So Muchness

Another OPI polish from the Alice in Wonderland Collection, this is what I would describe as the perfect toenail red. I love the shimmer it has to it, and it really is a very good quality nail varnish in terms of application and consistency. I have used one coat of this on my toes before and it was perfect bottle colour - very impressive. This has one of the nicest finishes I've ever seen too :)

I have quite a few nail polishes, I'm always sorting them out and giving some away, swapping or selling, and I do have various different brands in my collection, from high street to high end. I like China Glaze and OPI for higher end brands, I like the bottle and brush size, but the price is quite high unless you find a good eBay seller! High street wise I think Barry M and Rimmel are fab, especially for trying new colours. I'm on the fence with Nails Inc polishes - I have a few that I've bought myself, some of the limited edition Diet Coke ones on their way courtesy of Amy, and I picked up one of the free InStyle ones recently, but I find they are either really great or really awful, there is no middle ground. At £11.00 a bottle I think there are better brands out there, but I do love their colour ranges!

Any other nail polish junkies out there?!

Baby Bump OOTD

I've never done an outfit of the day (OOTD) post before, primarily because I don't think anyone would really be interested in what I wear, and I can't be bothered to take the photos! I attended a friends wedding yesterday, and this is what I wore! Not hugely 'weddingy', but our good old friend Mother Nature decided she wanted to rain, so the especially bought maxi dress will have to wait a while longer in my wardrobe and I had to cobble something together from what I have that fits me! I wanted to upload a new baby bump picture, and thought I might as well do an OOTD with it!

So, this is me and my bump at just over 26 weeks:

My outfit consists of:
Black and white floral tea dress from New Look (non maternity)
Black 60 denier tights from M&S (non maternity - not very comfortable)
Black cardigan from New Look (really old!)
Black pointy toed pumps with bow and lace detailing from New Look

My accessories are from Accessorize, New Look and Dorothy Perkins I believe!

I think I look a bit grumpy and my fringe desperately needs cutting so looks awful, but I really should stop criticising myself!

*Eagle eyes might notice I'm standing in a silly way - yes, that's what happens when you fall over and hurt your blimmin' knee - boo!*

NOTD: Rose Libertine

A few weeks ago my good blogging friend Lydia sent me a pretty little package ♥ Inside it was one of the new Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss in Peach Petal (a gorgeous peachy nude) and one of Lydia's favourite Rimmel nail polishes: Rose Libertine.

I took this picture some time ago now, but just found it on my (Colin's!) camera, so am uploading it for your nail polish viewing pleasures! Sadly, my nails don't look like this now, after a lot of sad breakages...*sigh*

Rose Libertine is a gorgeous bright pinky coral, and it looks perfect on fingers or toes in the summer. The Rimmel '60 Seconds' nail polishes really do dry insanely quickly, and I mean touch dry without being tacky. I *think* this might have been 3 coats, but I can't be sure. Longevity wise I was pretty impressed with this too, it lasted a good couple of days before I removed (picked) it. Rimmel polishes are dirt cheap too, so if you're looking for a good summer colour, or just to experiment, check them out!

Thank you Lydia :)