Saturday, 31 July 2010

Anyone for cake? Diet-friendly lemon muffins!

I'm going on holiday tomorrow! AAAAH! Madrid is currently 38 degrees - so you can count on me to be utterly miserable, burned and whiny from the outset. Sadly I have several unfinished posts in the making, but nothing concrete except for this (and I am rather proud of it, if I do say so myself...) So here is a recipe I've hodge-podged together... Because beauty isn't just about makeup, it's about how you feel and how you are (was that the most twee sentence or what?!). And I know I feel great knowing I can eat something tasty and not be scared of the read-out from the scales.

My terminally sweet tooth led to problems during my (now-lapsed but soon to be reinstated) Shred period, and I was constantly in search of a little sugar hit to satisfy the delicious tastiness I'd had to cut out. I dreamed constantly of cake without the saturated fat and add-ons and bits which you just have cowering guilty nightmares about having consumed the tasty treat.

So, after having consulted various sources (and failed several recipes), I decided the culinary world's current creations were simply lacking, so I added a bit of this, changed that and substituted the thing next to the other thing. And somehow I came up with something amazingly delicious and low-calorie, and muffin-formed. Not perfectly-domed, mind you. These are rustic muffins with character...

And because cake is cake, I won't dither in the semantics and syntax much longer. Here's my recipe for lemon and blueberry (hold the poppyseeds!) muffins. Because beauty blogs aren't just about makeup... They're sometimes about cake. And diet-friendly cake too! (Don't tell anyone that until they've nommed theirs down though - otherwise they may view it with ultimate suspicion, like you're trying to stealth-diet them...)


Lemon and blueberry muffins (makes 12)
2 x large lemons
300g wholemeal flour
50g rolled oats
3 x heaped tsp baking powder
120g caster sugar (but you could use more if you like it a little sweeter!)
250-300g peeled and grated courgette
100ml sunflower oil
150ml skimmed milk
150ml low-fat vanilla yogurt (Rachel's Farm or Onken Bio-Pots work really well)
1 medium egg, beaten
150g blueberries
1 tsp vanilla extract (or more, if you love vanilla)
1 tsp lemon extract (optional!)

To decorate
125g icing sugar
Lemon juice

Method:
1. Start by putting the two lemons in a pan of boiling water. Bring to the boil and the simmer for 1 hour.
2. After the hour is up, remove the lemons from the water, cut off the end bits and cut them in half. Remove all the pips and place in a food mixer. Purée them, skin and all.
3. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
3. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients - the flour, oats, baking powder and sugar and then mix a little to combine them.
4. In another large bowl mix the wet ingredients - the courgette, sunflower oil, milk, yogurt, vanilla extract, lemon extract (if using) and blueberries. Mix well to combine.
5. Pour the bowl of wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ones and stir until just combined. You want it fairly lumpy, as a smooth muffin mixture makes dense, heavy muffins.
6. Spoon into muffin cases and bake for around 20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean - but do not overbake as they will dry out. Leave to cool.
7. When cool, put the icing sugar in a bowl and add a few squeezes of lemon until the icing is the texture you desire. I like it quite runny so it forms a more drizzly glaze over the muffins.
8. Enjoy your guilt-free snack.

I calculated these to be about 288 kcal per muffin including the icing - but you could always leave the icing off...

For someone who was addicted to the 'skinny' lemon and poppyseed muffins from Starbucks (which are 400 calories, by the way), I think these hit the spot. They're much more lemony, and since these, the Starbucks ones just don't taste as good to me!

I think the amount of oil could be reduced for further calorie-saving in this recipe, but I've not tried it yet.

I hope you all enjoyed my minor foray into baking - my whole family has enjoyed these muffins without even realising they were not as naughty as they'd hoped!

Kisses.

X

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

FOTD #5: Captain Peacock McSparkles

It's all Kiwi's fault on the title of this FOTD, really, as when I presented my makeup for inspection, he looked a little surprised. 'It's very sparkly,' he opined slowly, before adding, 'you look like Captain Peacock McSparkles.'

And thus, the title for this post was born, all from the less-cosmetically-inclined machinations of Kiwi's brain.

It's a slightly different look to my normal FOTDs I post on here, mainly because it involves the colour green. I'm not usually a fan of green eyeshadow on my eyes (but by no means as much as I loathe blue eyeshadows on myself), but there's something about the shade Morning Moss in the Bee-Luscious Garden Girl palette I have which immediately makes me pounce on it and shoehorn it into every look. It's kind of got this dragonfly quality; a diaphanous, delicately hazy sheen which is quite soft and pretty worn over a pale base. Wear it over a black base, however, and the shadow transforms into something more audacious, a shimmering emerald green which is not dissimilar to the green shade in the E.L.F Eye Transformer Palette.

Ever the intrepid adventurer, I teamed it with yet another green by the name of Envy, a teal by the name of Washed Denim and my very favourite purple, Neo-Plum. The teal was a later addition when I found that spring green and bluey purples blend to form a muddy mess, so I added the teal to aid the transition. My makeup did end up feeling a little celestial and whimsical in the end, but I think I'm sold on the green.

It could change though - I'm a capricious young thing.

As for the Garden Girl Palette itself, though (which I reviewed here), I do have one thing to add: the people at Coco Beau have been rather lovely and given me a 10% off discount code for you guys. So, for all of you who loved the palette but were a little unsure, now's your chance! It won't be around forever, but if you type in 'camiloveskiwi' in the box at the checkout on the Coco Beau website, you will receive 10% off the product. Hope that helps someone :)

This was a bitch to photograph. Click here for a larger version.

My camera skills are lacking today.

Products used:

FACE:
- Usual Suspects (NARS Sheer Glow and Kryolan Anti-Shine Powder)
- Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer
- MAC Summer Rose Beauty Powder

EYES:
- MAC Paintpot in Bare Study
- Bee-Luscious Garden Girl Palette*, shades Morning Moss (pale, multidimensional green), Envy (spring green), Washed Denim (teal) and Neo-Plum (medium-dark purple)
- Eyeko Big Eyes Mascara

LIPS:
- MAC Lipstick in Violetta as a light stain
- MAC Superglass in Fab Frenzy

Kisses.

X

* Bee-Luscious palette sent for purposes of review. No financial compensation gained from this :)

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Review: FACE atelier Ultra Foundation (YOU NEED THIS!)

The thing is, not enough people give samples.

'Oh no dear,' said the lady hawking Dior's cosmetic wares, 'we don't give samples,' and she simpered and fluttered at me in the way a spider does while contemplating a very juicy (and very fiscally-exploitable) bug, 'but the foundation is very, very good.'

However, when I'm investing in something such as a foundation, I want a sample, and not one of those one-size-fits-all sachets you see in magazine, where most people with normal skin tones in between will either look like they've overdone the fake tan, or that they've got that greasy palour to your skin that you get when you're ill.

So when Coco Beau offered me the chance to try their new foundation from FACE atelier*, I jumped at the chance, because I like being offered the chance to try before I buy... And because their excitement over the product was a little infectious.

A little sample jar arrived, wrapped in cute blue tissue paper, as per Coco Beau's usual standards, and everything was great until Kiwi decided to open the jar to investigate, and tipped half of its contents on himself (I swear I don't even make this up - that's just what you come to expect when you find that your boyfriend was mis-sold under that particular label, and is in fact an over-grown, over-excited puppy.)

Trauma over, I opened the pot later (with Kiwi banned from the room), with minor trepidation (new product jitters!), having read over the blurb. This is what they say:

Ultra Foundation is the heart and soul of FACE atelier – an innovative approach to foundation that allows you to be in control. With a growing cult-following, Ultra Foundation is a silicone-based emulsion that floats on top of the skin, doesn’t crease or flake, and lasts all day long. Hydrating yet oil-free, it obscures tiny lines and pores to ensure a smooth finish. No primer needed! It's built into Ultra Foundation, thanks to the super sophisticated, silicone-based formula. Another bonus - it sets without powder, preserving the youthful, dewy finish.


Given my recent foray into the baffling world of face primers (oil-free? Silicone-based? Magical pearlised particles? TALK ENGLISH), I'm pretty excited to try this new foundation already, seeing as I've developed a relative apathy to searching high and low for a face primer which will work best both with my skin chemistry, and my foundation. So, being the procrastinating young thing that I am (lazy is such an unfair word...), I'm all for the metaphorical kicking back in my La-Z-Boy recliner and letting something else do all the work. Now, in the efforts to save your eyes from being rampaged by a wall-o-text, I'm going to split this review up into some easy-as-A-B-C sections, because I want you to really read it, and I want you to try it and then fall in love, just like I did. After all, even if we are only talking about foundation, everyone still deserves their fairy-tale...

TEXTURE
The texture of FACE atelier's Ultra Foundation is silky and luxurious, and reminds me exactly of melted chocolate in that satisfyingly glossy way. The silicone-based formula means that you need to shake it up before you use it, as silicone particles are lighter than water, but they create this perfectly smooth canvas to work on and make your skin feel like magic. It feels just as silky on the skin and is foolproof for blending. There is no streaking, and no dappled paint-job effect with this foundation; it just blends in perfectly with whichever tool you decide to use.

COVERAGE
The Ultra Foundation's coverage is most likely going to fall into the medium category, but that's not to say it's not buildable. This foundation can literally be built up as much as you want without ever becoming chalky or crepey or ageing. You don't need that much, though, as a little goes a long way due to its hyper-pigmented formula.

The funny thing is, although it's a medium coverage, my skin still looks like skin, just the perfect, airbrushed kind, and some of my freckles still shine through, just with none of the usual dark circles and red bits.

FINISH
Dewy and glowing are the two buzzwords for this foundation, and these words are generally the exact two which strike fear into my oil-fearing heart, like a warning of an uncharted region on a mariner's map of 'Here be monsters!'.

Ah, the fear of the unknown. FACE atelier's Ultra Foundation is dewy from the off, but more of the healthy kind rather than the sweaty, end-of-the-day kind. Although it is not necessary to set this foundation with powder, I found it a touch too dewy for my liking and set it with my usual Kryolan Anti-Shine, as my combination skin works against me like a stubborn toddler from the moment product is applied. However, one amazing thing about this foundation is that there is virtually no dry-skin grabbage.

As it's an HD foundation, the finish here lends itself very well to photography, although the upshot of this means there's no sunscreen to be seen, and you must apply your own.

Photobucket
Click to see full image if you can't see it properly (as Blogger is being an arse).

LONGEVITY
This foundation is water-resistant and oil-free, meaning that it's formulated for good performance. It lasted a good day on me, although I definitely had breakthrough shine by the end of the day on my forehead and nose; this is nothing new, but if your skin is extremely oily, you may need to powder.

SHADE RANGE
The shade range is the real magic part of this foundation: although there are only 8 shades in this range, you can buy the corresponding shade adjusters, which comprise of Zero Minus to lighten, Zero Plus to darken, and Heat to add warmth. Pretty brilliant if you ask me.

The foundation sample was the tiniest bit too dark for me (at least at first - I managed to get a mild tan! Shock! Horror!), and Ria at Coco Beau was quick to send me a little sample of the Zero Minus to mix in with it. It worked perfectly and didn't change how the foundation worked, which was a minor worry.

THE END NOTE/FINAL THOUGHTS
- FACE atelier are completely committed to cruelty-free products, both in production of their cosmetics and in the sourcing of cruelty-free ingredients from outside vendors. Definitely something to consider.
- Best for: All skin types, but definitely normal skin types will feel the benefit.
- Order a sample for £1 by clicking on your desired shade, and then clicking on the 'Buy a Sample Here' link. Sample pots are generous and a brilliant idea to help you find the perfect shade.
- Coco Beau stock other products in the FACE atelier range to compliment this product, such as their Ultra Loose Powder and their Ultra Camouflage Duet. I've not tried them, but if the foundation is this good, I have faith in the rest of the range.
- Price point: £32 from Coco Beau (link takes you right to the Ultra Foundation page).

When I first tried on this foundation, my thought process started at 'It's really nice, but...'. Having come to the end of a sample jar, and pathetically swished the remnants out with a brush, my final thoughts are 'But it's reaaally nice...' in that kind of pleading, whining, justifying voice while explaining my upcoming cosmetics purchase to Kiwi.

Kiwi just stares, anyway.

But then he wouldn't understand... He likes computers far better than makeup.

* This foundation sample was provided to me for the purposes of review, and I am NOT being financially compensated for this post (but I'm gonna buy it anyway!)

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Faded Festival Glamour, or How I Survived My First Festival

Attending my first ever festival and ensconced in the dark interior of a budget tent (ripped upon first deployment*), I came to realise (slightly too late) that my daily beauty régime has a definite temporality to it; it's a ticking clock from A to Z, from beauty to beast.

And I don't notice it in day-to-day life because despite the fact I may be cosmetically high-maintenance, my beauty régime is only meant to last around 16 hours. The festival, then, brought me a little crashing perspective: not only do I need to retrain myself and trim down my fairly prolific routine, but I need to increase its longevity and force it, screaming and aching, to go that extra mile.

And so, I realised this, as I said, applying the carefully-placed tricks and trappings which have become to comprise of my beauty routine. For 20 minutes, while shadows strolled past the tent and Kiwi and his friends, freed of all adult responsibility, became the over-excited strafing little-boy airplanes tanked up on a more potent fuel, I applied makeup and fretted over my day-old hair in a mirror the size of a postage stamp.

I'm not very good at the 'festival chic' look, where the girls seem to hover about in long maxi dresses and hair in a messy bun, still possessing that elusive, ethereal beauty (and the very smuggery they seem to exude just by being attractive when I am so very not).

It's not even about vanity. (It might be a little bit about vanity.) It's about survival in my least favourite of all locations: the British festival campsite. It is a greyed-out landscape with snippets of tents being stumbled over by the drunk hedonists painted neon. The weather is turbulent at best, but always with the sniff of a storm, and it rains as soon as you start to put your tent up, just at that crucial point where it's too late to stop. The portaloos give up their ghosts early on and send phantoms of stenches swirling into the down-wind, and the showers are just... not there.

So here it is, my survival kit for my very first festival, neatly subdivided into skincare and hygiene, hair and makeup. For the festival newbies out there, all I can say is that Baby Wipes must be the notion of some higher power, for there is nothing more perfect than the humble moist wipe. Here are my festival skin saviours:


1. Baby Wipes: The God of festivals and never just for babies. They deserve their own altar and sacrifices. You will never get bored of finding a use for these. No shower? Baby Wipe it up. Cleaning your makeup off? Yep. Undignified spillage of a whole can of cider inside of your tent (yes, this was me...): Job done. Shower, makeup remover and a surface cleaner all-in-one.

2. Triple Dry: It's an antiperspirant in the strongest sense, and contains aluminium chloride to basically stop you sweating from the armpits. I'm one of those people with B.O. paranoia, in that when I smell B.O. in any kind of public arena, I spend a tense half hour trying to figure out if it's me or not. It never is, but I never want to be that person who doesn't realise their own offensive stench. When showers are limited, this is a good idea, but it's definitely not healthy for everyday use.

3. Avène Eau Thermale: I know, it's a gimmick, but it's a useful gimmick. Waking up in a warm, fetid tent in the morning means this is an instant waker-upper and nice and cooling on sunburn. It's refreshing to the skin and provides a really useful source of water by which to wash your face, if water is in scarce supply.

4. Witch hazel: Prolonging my day's makeup starts with a good foundation. Witch hazel is incredible for controlling oil. This is not a good product to use daily, as it dries the skin out to an unpleasant degree after prolonged use. However, after decanting this into a little Muji spray bottle and spritzing on my face after washing it, I didn't get that nasty, greasy feeling where your skin is crawling and you have that urgency to wash it.

Also consider:
- Face wash: Decant a couple of squirts into a little travel jar, and use the water aerosol spray to dampen your skin to allow you to work it into a lather. Squeaky-clean skin and not much effort.
- Packs of handbag tissues: Buy a pack of 6. Pack 2 in your handbag and the rest in your rucksack. Smile smugly on your way to the dreaded portaloos long since out of toilet paper and think of all those girls who didn't have the foresight.
- Dailies lenses: If you're like me and wear monthlies, consider acquiring a small stock of dailies, because removing and washing your lenses in the dark in a tent while possibly inebriated is just impossible. You wouldn't want to drop one and be blind for the rest of the shebang, would you?
- Hand sanitiser: You will need this in lieu of soap for washing your hands before eating, seeing as you probably won't know where they will have been...

My hair tends to be very fine, although there's a lot of it, so my main concern at this festival was giving my hair the appearance of volume because it's not quite long enough to bung into a ponytail. These products saved my life:


5. Osis Dust-It: The best product of its kind that I've found. It's perfect for hair that is fine or needs a wash as it both volumises and absorbs the oil whilst giving the hair perfect festival texture.

6. Batiste Dry Shampoo: Oh, you. How could I forget you? Dry shampoo is perfect for spraying into your hair to give it a bit more mileage and volume. It makes it light and fresh smelling and is the best dry shampoo pennies can buy.

7. Lee Stafford Matte Stylee My Big Fat Texturised Hair Super Spray: I bought this on a complete whim when I was out on a shopping trip and it's actually amazingly good. It's a sea salt-volumiser-gel-hairspray hybrid which you shake up until it turns more liquidy. You spritz over your hair for all-day hold, life and volume, and you can tousle it up. I've never been so surprised by a hair product in my life.

Also consider:
- Travel shampoo: If you're like me and your fringe is the only thing letting you down on the second-day hair shuffle, then consider taking a small bottle of shampoo and washing it. Let it air dry and fluff it a bit, and you're away. If you're super high-maintenance (cough), look for some bargain-bin portable straighteners in places like TK MAXX. Don't pay over a tenner. They'll do.
- Hair grips: The point of no return for my hair is day 2, and considering I wash my hair every day (different strokes...), even day 2 is pushing it. A pack of hair grips to clip up your hair nasties on the long journey home on day 3 will make you feel more human, even if your brain is performing a staccato dance party in your skull.
- Elastic headbands: The kind that footballers wear. Whether you feel hideous or just need to tidy up your mane, these are pretty useful, especially considering you can extend their use to holding your sleeping mat in its perfect rolled-up form.

Makeup for a festival is a sore point for me; I'm extremely mindful of the fact that festivals are home to the most unstealthy of thieves (I mean seriously, all you need to do is unzip the tent and you're home and dry with purloined goodies). My response to this is to only take things that are either drugstore, multi-purpose, or that I don't quite love as much as, say, my limited edition super-duper MSF embossed with a precious unicorn. Here's a selection of what I found indispensable:


8. Lipstick Palette: I first blogged about this in a post quite a while ago, and I'm going to tell you again. Don't take your lovely lipsticks to a festival, where they may either melt, go walkabout or fall into a stinking cesspool somewhere. Depot a few of them and you won't be so bothered if you don't come home with it. 4 is always better than 1, too.

9. Brushes that go further: I only took 2 makeup brushes to the festival: one for the face and one for the eye. The trick is multipurpose; the E.L.F. powder brush I brought with me is inexpensive, easily available and performs pretty much every task I can think of. It can do foundation, blush, powder, contour, cream products... It's essentially perfect. The Space NK eye brush I brought was a wild card, but ended up being indispensable. Its long bristles allow for a quick wash of colour, whilst the narrow nature allows you to sweep in a crease colour and blend with ease.

10. MAC Mineralized Eyeshadow Trio in Togetherness: 3 beautiful, eye-brightening colours, myriad combinations and all in one compact. Choose duos, trios and palettes rather than single eyeshadows. The colours are selected to go together and there's less chance of losing something!

11. Topshop Cream(-to-Powder) Blush in Neon Rose: This is the perfect formulation for skin that's a bit grubby or oily. It's a cream-to-powder so dries matte and provides a beautiful flush to brighten up a tired complexion.

12. MAC Tinted Moisturiser: For those for whom foundation is too much of a faff (which, for a festival, it definitely will be...), consider a tinted moisturiser. I really like the MAC tinted moisturiser (which I've reviewed here!) because it's thick and nicely-textured, decent coverage and never makes me oily.

13. Kryolan Anti-Shine Powder: The big daddy of all powders. Decant a little into a jar and use with the magical E.L.F. Powder Brush. Oil-free all day, and at such a cheap price, it's a little jar of magic. Take my word on this one.

Also consider:
- Your favourite foundation: If you must take some, decant a little into a travel jar and away we go. If you don't mind using your fingers, so much the better.
- Urban Decay All-Nighter Makeup Fixer: If you're feeling flush, this is a great spritz to help your makeup last a little longer. It's no miracle cure, but it does do its thing.
- Mineral Samples: These are perfect for festivals - tiny samples in baggies and jars which won't upset you too much if they get set on fire/robbed at gunpoint (etc, etc...)
- Nail Polish: Paint your nails before you go, because you won't be showering for 3 days. Your nails will be filthy, and the only way to disguise that is nail polish. I know, it's a corner-cutter and scummy and I'm a horrible human being for recommending this. But think of your possible scummy, caked nails. And then think of your colourful, scummy caked nails which don't look half as revolting. Justified smuggery.

And there we go. From one newbie to hopefully a few others. If you didn't find it helpful, I hope you at least found it entertaining :)

X

*Just say no to the all-in-one Value Camping set from Argos. You will wake up drier and more well-rested if you do.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Dear Blogger...

... I have just moved to a new flat with the most tallest Kiwi, and we didn't realise we jointly have so much stuff.

Added to that, we has NO INTERNETS until at least Thursday, so posting should recommence then.

I'd take a picture of the sea of stuff on the floor (we have to literally jump over it as there's so much), but I have no idea where the camera is, much less the clean bra I wanted yesterday.

I shall see all you lovelies on the other side - and hopefully I'll make it out of this pile and to the fridge before I pass out from HUNGER.

Much love.

X

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Flash Review: Eyeko Big Eyes Mascara

The problem is, Bambi's always going to be my benchmark for how I want a mascara to work, and Bambi's an animated deer whose best friend is a rabbit with a fairly noticeable twitch. Evidently I'm not working with a very realistic basis here, and this is probably why I've been searching for the Holy Grail of Holy Grails (if there even is such a thing) for a very long time.

...This mascara isn't the above, but it's pretty bloody good if you want thick, lustrous, smoking a cigarette through red lips like a 50's Hollywood starlet kind of lashes which are lengthened and hold their curl.

Just... colour me shocked. I did not expect to like this mascara, which is Eyeko's Big Eyes Mascara.


Image shamelessly poached from Monsieur Google.
  1. Squeeze me: The first thing to note is the packaging, which I've only seen a couple of times on my various trips to the makeup counter. It's a squeezy tube with a wand inside, and the idea is that you squeeze it before applying your mascara so that the wand is thickly coated. Great in theory, but clumps like a bugger if you go in gung-ho.
  2. Magic wand: The thing about the wand is that it's... particular. It's very thin and bristly, and is almost reminiscent of those useless Maybelline mascaras they launched when I was about 15 which had the tiny, tiny brushes. Fortunately, this wand has a touch of magic and sparkle in it and lengthens, curls and thickens perfectly, and it's extremely lightweight.
  3. x+y=z: For me, this is the perfect formula: thick and the blackest black, which doesn't dry a charcoal grey colour, like your eyelashes have aged. I'm not one for watery mascaras (coughcoughGreatLash), so this formula is perfect for thickening up my spindly lashes a treat.
  4. Curly wurly: Hands up who wants to chomp on one of those now? I've not had one since I was about 10... Anyway. This mascara, much to my surprise, holds a curl in my lashes like no other. My lashes look curled and thick all day long - and that's not even happened with my beloved Diorshow Blackout Waterproof.
  5. Price Check: This mascara is £8! I don't even need to say anymore - it does the job of Diorshow but at a fraction of the cost.

The conclusion:
This is a hidden gem of a mascara, which lengthens, thickens and curls in just a few strokes. It's black enough for me and lasts all day without any smudging under the lower lashline. The thick formula can clump, however, but I just keep a trusty lashcomb handy. For me, clumping is a small price to pay for lashes this easy.

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