Monday, 31 March 2014

Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe | Vegetarian Lunch

Today I've got a pesto pasta salad recipe for you! It's not so much a recipe, as an ingredients list because it doesn't require a great deal of cooking, but it's delicious nonetheless. It's a vegetarian recipe (so long as you use pesto that doesn't contain parmesan) and can be tailored to your tastes, for example you could add some onion, some chicken, some pepper, whatever you feel like! 

Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe
A great casual dinner party recipe and you can eat the leftovers at work

So, here we go, let's make something simple, easy and delicious.

Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe

Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe
Lovely, tasty, healthy goodness

 Ingredients

2 handfuls of your favourite pasta shapes, cooked and cooled (I like the swirly ones, like Fusili or Bucati)
6 Cherry tomatoes, halved
6 Mozzarella balls, halved
1 tbsp Pine nuts, toasted
3 handfuls Baby Spinach, torn
1 tbsp Pesto (Fresh, Jar or Homemade, whichever is easiest)
(obviously you can multiply these up depending on how many servings you're making)

Method

1. Easy peasy- just combine them all in a bowl! I tend to mix the pesto with the pasta, then add all the other ingredients. If you were feeling fancy, you could drizzle over some olive oil, but it's not completely necessary.

And we're done! I love having this for lunch at work, or as a side salad for dinner. Sometimes I put in feta instead of mozzarella, or use salad leaves instead of spinach. It all depends on what you have in your fridge. Enjoy!

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Saturday, 29 March 2014

Stila In The Light Palette Review | Neutral Eyeshadows

It was a sad day when I had to throw out my Urban Decay Naked Palette. I'd owned it for about 4 years and it was looking a bit grubby and sad. The shadows had lost their lustre and it was time to move on. There are a plethora of neutral palettes out there, and in the end I settled on buying Stila's In The Light Palette. This, again, is another product that has been much hyped, and I think that with this palette, there's very good reason, as it is fantastic.

Stila In The Light Palette Review and Swatches
The Stila In The Light Palette, now with improved mirror
In The Light comes with 10 eyeshadows, and a mixture of flattering neutral shades for different skin tones. Stila also include a booklet including some looks you can do with the eyeshadows, although I think the booklet needs updating because some of the eyeshadow names are wrong! I wear this palette to work, and I use an old Jemma Kidd makeup brush to apply the shadows. They go on easily and blend perfectly with each-other.

I bought mine from Boots for £25 and I don't regret it one bit. For one thing, it's £12 cheaper than the Naked Palette, which is a big plus, and I like 9 of the 10 eyeshadows, whereas with the Naked palette, I only actually ever used two regularly. The In The Light Palette also comes with a brown/black smudge stick, which is fantastic. It stays put all day and does not budge. At all. It's perfect.

The eyeshadows are pigmented and creamy. The glittery shadows are easier to apply than the matte ones, which need a bit of coaxing to build up colour. Once they do, they look good, though. My favourites of the palette are definitely Bliss and Sunset (3 and 4 on the top row). I had been looking for a mauvey taupe and an orangey brown and I found them both in one palette, so I knew that I had to buy it! The only one I don't like is Night Sky (Number 4 on the bottom row) because it is a blue eyeshadow and blue eyeshadows do not look good with hazel eyes and freckled skin.

Stila In The Light Palette Review and Swatches
In The Light Swatches

I've worn this every day since I bought it and the eyeshadows have decent staying power, but it does depend on which one you use. Some of the glittery ones do survive into the evening, but the matte ones aren't quite as long lasting. However, I have never found an eyeshadow that stays on all day, so I won't hold it against them. The only things that stay on without a primer are the Maybelline Colour Tattoos and I only like one of those colours, so I think palettes are better for variety.

I'm really impressed with Stila as a brand. I own one other product by them, the Convertible Colour in Poppy, which is still going strong. I think this palette is good quality, with a flattering variety of colours and is worth the £25 price tag for the use I'm going to get out of it. I was originally debating about finally caving and buying some Mac eyeshadows, but I thought it was better value to go for the Stila palette and I think that was a very good decision.


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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation Review | Light Vanilla

After bandwagoning and trying the Rimmel Wake Me Up foundation (which by the way I was not a fan of), I decided to try the foundation from the opposing camp and buy the Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation. This has been raved about by everyone and their mother, so dutifully, as 3 for 2 time rolled around, I put it in my basket. This is also because my beloved Benefit Hello Flawless foundation ran out and it wasn't yet payday and also I thought I probably shouldn't really shell out £25 for a foundation again. Well, at least not without trying out a cheaper alternative first.
Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation Review Swatches
Bourjois Healthy Mix in all its glory
The Bourjois Healthy Mix has been much talked about amongst the beauty community and as ever, I was sceptical about the hype. However, I decided to give it a fair chance. I bought the lightest shade, Light Vanilla, which is pretty pale, but has a yellow undertone.

Pros:

- Affordable at £9.99 for a tube. I have the feeling that this is going to last for a long time, because a little goes a long way with Healthy Mix
- Feels light on the skin and blends easily with either fingertips or a brush
- Illuminates without having bits of glitter in it!

Cons:

- It has a very strong fruity smell, which I don't like. I have sensitive skin, so I'm a little wary of putting anything too strong smelling on my skin
- If I'm having a good skin day, it looks really good, and if I have lots of spots or redness, it doesn't really cover them and it doesn't last all day without a primer
- It has a yellow undertone and I have a pink undertone

Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Review
Swatch of Bourjois Healthy Mix (I went a bit pump crazy)

So, on the whole, I like it, but I don't love it. If I were to pit them against each other, the Bourjois Healthy Mix would win over the Rimmel Wake Me Up purely because Healthy Mix doesn't have bits of glitter in it. Apart from that, they're pretty equally matched. 

I'm not 100% sold on Healthy Mix. My mum saw me wearing it and commented that it was a good colour match for me, and mums never lie, so that's a positive, but I prefer foundations with slightly better coverage. I'll use it up, but when the bottle is finished, I don't think I'll be repurchasing it. If only I'd smelt the sample when I tried it in Boots! Oh well, you live and learn.

Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Review
Healthy Mix blended in. A little bit yellow

Have you used Healthy Mix? What did you think?

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Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Summer Fruit Pavlova Recipe | Perfect Dinner Party Dessert

The other day it was my Nanny's birthday (she doesn't want me telling you which ;)) and I decided to make a show stopper pudding. I thought about it, and decided to go for something that I hadn't made before- a pavlova. I'd seen people making them on Come Dine With Me, Dinner Date, Great British Bake Off (yes, I like cooking bases reality tv) and decided to give it a go. After all, if Dave from Coventry could rustle one up, what's to stop me?

Fruit Pavlova Recipe
A Fruit Pavlova Recipe for you

Looking at the pictures, I'd say it went pretty well! My Nanny certainly enjoyed it, as did the rest of the family. I think the top tips for making a pavlova are keeping the oven at a low temperature and adding the cream at the last minute, because otherwise it will make the meringue soggy. Oh, and don't forget to turn the bowl upside down over someone's head! (After you've checked that the meringue is stiff. Otherwise you've got a lot of apologising, and a lot of whisking to do!)

Fruit Pavlova Recipe
A mean and moody looking pavlova (it was a very sunny day)
I think that a meringue is the perfect pudding for a dinner party. It looks impressive and is relatively easy to make, so long as you have a lot of patience and enough time to let the meringue dry out properly. This is one case where turning up the oven to make it cook faster really doesn't work! 

I used this BBC Goodfood recipe, but used different fruit and didn't bother with mixing half the fruit into the cream. I probably would have if I wasn't so pushed for time! I don't have any photos of me cooking the pavlova because I am the world's messiest cook and it is not a good look for blog photos. Maybe next time when I have a bit more time.

Fruit Pavlova Recipe
A very well appreciated pavlova

 Summer Fruit Pavlova Recipe


For the meringue

4 egg whites
250g caster sugar
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the topping

500g of chopped fruit (I used strawberries, mango, blueberries and kiwi)
350ml double cream, whipped
Icing sugar for dusting


Method


1. Heat the oven to 150 C (or 130 C if using gas) and line a baking tray with parchment paper
2. Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff. You can't turn the bowl upside down yet, but they will keep their shape when you remove the whisk
3. Slowly whisk in the caster sugar one tablespoon at a time until you can turn the bowl upside down without the meringue falling out
4. Whisk in the vinegar, cornflour and vanilla extract
5. Spoon the mixture onto the baking tray in a circle, leaving a dent in the middle, so it looks like a basket
6. Bake for an hour, then turn the oven off and leave the pavlova inside until it's completely cool
7. Just before serving, chop the fruit and whip the cream
8. Take the pavlova out of the oven once it's cool and spoon the cream on top. Add the fruit and a sprinkling of icing sugar to make it look really fancy
9. Serve and enjoy!

Hope you liked the recipe. Let me know if you make a pavlova!

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Sunday, 23 March 2014

Bourjois Rouge Edition Lipstick Review | 05 Brun Boheme

Bourjois have brought out a new range of vintage inspired lipsticks called the Rouge Edition Range and during the recent Boots 3 for 2 offer, I decided to pick up number 05 Brun Boheme from the range. I thought a review was in order because this Rouge Edition lipstick is fast becoming my favourite and it deserves to have its praises sung.

Bourjois Rouge Edition Lipstick 05 Brun Boheme
Bourjois Rouge Edition Lipstick in 05 Brun Boheme is a beauty

I think a lot of people have already reviewed these, by the looks of it because they were sent them for free, so I can't vouch for the entire range, but 05 Brun Boheme is the perfect colour and I just needed to write about it. I blogged about my search for the perfect 'your lips but better' colour before and I found the Kate Moss for Rimmel Lipstick range, which I did like. However, I think the Bourjois lipstick is better. Not in the least because it doesn't have a sickly sweet scent.

Bourjois Rouge Edition Lipstick 05 Brun Boheme
Sleek and classy packaging for the Rouge Editions
Brun Boheme costs £7.99, which is reasonable for a decent lipstick. I find that the cheaper ranges, for example the Barry M lipsticks, just don't have the lasting power. Bourjois Rouge Edition, on the other hand, lasts pretty much all day. I wore it to a family meal and I had three courses and various drinks and it was still intact for photos as we left. That's amazing for any lipstick, let alone one you can buy in Boots.

Bourjois Rouge Edition Lipstick 05 Brun Boheme
Handy that you can see the colour in the lid

Bourjois claim that their lipstick hydrates and protects lips for up to 10 hours, and I'd have to agree. I think 10 hours may be pushing it slightly, but it does leave my lips feeling soft and doesn't cake, or flake or any of those nasty things that cheaper lipsticks tend to do. The formula is highly pigmented and creamy, and glides on easily. I think the colour is perfect because it's a browny-red, which compliments my fair complexion very well. I'm learning that, at least for me, it's better to stick with earthy toned colours, as opposed to brash pinks and the like.

Bourjois Rouge Edition Lipstick 05 Brun Boheme
Swatch time! It's so pigmented- that's only one swipe

In fact, I can't really think of anything negative to say about it. If I were to be really picky, I'd say that the shape of the lipstick in the tube is a bit annoying, because it's hard to precisely apply it around the edge of your lips. However, that's a really minor gripe. 

I think this lipstick is absolutely fantastic. It easily holds its own against my Laura Mercier lipstick, which had been my favourite up until now. I'm definitely going to go for the Rouge Edition line if I need a new lipstick in the future, and would recommend the range to anyone. Happy pouting!

Bourjois Rouge Edition Lipstick 05 Brun Boheme
Pouting for Christmas


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Saturday, 22 March 2014

Avon Mega Effects Mascara Review

Avon Mega Effects Mascara Review
Avon Mega Effects Mascara and Playing Cards. Great Mix

It's been a long time, but here's a beauty review! Today it's Avon's Mega Effects Mascara in Black/Brown. I decided to review it because I'd seen a lot of hype around this mascara in the magazines and I thought that I'd see if it lived up to the hype. The big marketing drive focuses on the Mega Effects Mascara having an unusual and innovative applicator: it doesn't have the usual wand, and instead has a weird paintbrush style applicator.

This paintbrush applicator is its unique selling point and is, if I may be honest, a little gimmicky. I tend not to buy into gimmicks and in this case I should have trusted my instincts. This is not to say that it's a terrible mascara, just that Mega Effects is a chore to put on and that's the last thing I want when I am blearily trying to apply mascara to my eyes in the morning. 

Avon Mega Effects Mascara Review
The Mega Effects applicator in action

As you can see from the picture, you hold the brush to paint the mascara onto your eyes. The teeth of the brush aren't dissimilar from your bog-standard mascara wand, but it's the handle that makes this very awkward to apply. I'm right handed, so it's ok on my right eye. A little awkward when getting my bottom lashes, but when is mascara application not? It's when it comes to applying Mega Effects to my left eye that I run into problems. It is so awkward to reach across my nose and attempt to apply the mascara. It takes me a good three coats to get anything out of the mascara and many missed attempts to apply it to my lashes. Maybe I don't have the technique down, but it really is not worth the hassle to apply.

The formula is ok, but did flake later on in the day and I don't think it particularly lengthened, volumised or did anything particularly mega to my eye lashes. Or at least, no more so than a normal mascara with a normal wand. The mascara costs £10 to buy, which is a little more than I'd pay for a mascara normally, and it's really not worth it. The awkward handling of the applicator is the big turn-off for me, and the fact that it doesn't do anything spectacular to my eyelashes.

I think that there's a reason that mascara wands look like they do and I think we should keep it that way... Sorry Avon, I'm not a fan.

Avon Mega Effects Mascara Before
My naked eye
Avon Mega Effects Mascara After
And with the Mega Effects mascara applied

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