Friday, 30 August 2013

Autumn Wishlist #1

Hey guys, can you believe it's nearly the end of August? Where has the summer gone? Or the year infact! But one good thing is that it means new clothes, as the shops say "out with the old summer stuff and in with the new goodies for autumn."
My bank card has taken such a battering lately, what with rent, deposits and admin fees for our new house, that I've actually started keeping a written list of things I like. I just note down the name, price and web link so I can keep a tab on things. There's nothing more annoying than finding something you love, but when you actually have the money to buy it you can't remember for the life of you where it was from!

Here's a few pieces I'm loving for Autumn

Autumn Wishlist #1

Dorothy Perkins oxblood bar bag £35.00
Dark burgundy is one of my favourite colours for autumn and this bag would make a great everyday staple, especially for uni. I could do with a bigger bag as my satchel is just not cutting it at the moment, maybe this will have to jump ship from wishlist to absolutely need... Maybe.
River Island cream cocoon jumper £30.00
Nothing says Autumn like a big, cosy jumper and this cream with go with anything from pencil skirts to laid back jeans.
Topshop checked tube skirt (currently out of stock)
I love, love, love this skirt! I really hope it comes back in stock soon. Funny thing is yesterday I found an old photo of me, aged 4 or 5, with my brother and I was wearing a dress in this exact print with a lace collar. Just goes to show that with fashion it's what goes around comes around again.
River Island gold tone clustered gem necklace £15.00
Statement jewellery is a favourite of mine, and the website actually recommended me this piece to go with the cream jumper, which I think would look perfect
Topshop map print shirt £35.00
This shirt caught my eye immediately when I was browsing the Topshop website, I love the quirky print. It would look great paired with some skinny blue jeans and tough black leather ankle boots.
Topshop MIGHTY black leather boots £45.00Okay so I already have some black ankle boots, but I love that these have a slight heel. Plus black goes with everything so it's fine to have another pair of ankle boots. Right?
River Island Multi-colour gemstone necklace £12.00
Another statement piece. The jewel colours would help brighten up any dull autumn  day and I like the way it's fastened onto a simple black ribbon rather than a chunky chain.

Are there any pieces you have your eye on for Autumn?

Beth xx

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Ecotools fresh and flawless 5 piece complexion set

We all know the importance of keeping our make-up brushes clean. Or do we? I'll admit, I'm awful with mine. I don't mean to be, I look at my brushes sat on the shelf and think "I really should give those a clean" but then the day goes by and I forget again.
Dirty make-up brushes are a breeding ground for bacteria, which can lead to blocked pores, bad breakouts and even infections. It's amazing - and quite disgusting really - when you actually do run your brushes under the tap how much make-up comes out of them. I had to wash my powder brush twice yesterday because it turned the water such a questionable shade of brown.

While I was in town today getting my laptop fixed I decided to pick up a new set of brushes, the only problem I have is that some of them are so expensive. Some of the top brands are £25-£30+ each, or £109 for a Dior set!, which is quite a bit of money. I'm always thinking that with that cash I could buy something lovely from Topshop or several beauty pieces.
That's why I was so pleased to see this lovely set from Ecotools in my local Boots. It specifically designed for your complexion which is really handy for me because I don't wear a lot of eye make-up very often and I'm more concerned about getting a smooth, as-close-to-perfect base that I can.

The brushes in the fresh and flawless complexion set, like all Ecotools products, are made with soft cruelty free bristles and sleek bamboo handles. But what I love about these is the aluminium ferrules around the top of each brush. They're made of recycled materials and designed by an artist, each brush has a different colour so hopefully the longer you use them you'll be able to remember which brush is which! The box even comes with a handy guide so you can apply your make-up properly with each brush.
I can't wait to try out the set tomorrow morning and see if it helps my make-up look better and last longer. There are five brushes in the set: flat concealer, buffing concealer, precision foundation, complexion blending and full powder, a lot more for a girl that usually uses her hands, a powder brush and blusher!

If you like these brushes then you can buy them here for £11.95 or at your local Boots store.

Beth xx

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Scandilicious Chelsea Buns

I have fond memories of Chelsea buns, going to the local bakery when I was younger and getting to pick which cake I wanted. For me it was always a toss-up between the Chelsea bun or the Belgian bun. The Chelsea thick and square, with a light dusting or sugar, a soft bread like inside crammed with delicious fruit, and the Belgian, smaller, flatter and covered in thick white icing with a glace cherry in the middle. It was often difficult to decide between the two.
After the second episode of the Great British Bake Off focused on bread last night it seemed only fitting to make a dough-based recipe today. While I was going to try my hand at a loaf for the first time, I figured we're more of a sweet household so a treat that could be enjoyed with a cuppa would be much more appreciated.

My friends know how much I love to bake and one of them got me "Scandilicous Baking" by Signe Johansen for my birthday, it's a lovely little book full of all different types of Scandinavian recipes, from breads and flatbread to little savouries and sweet pastries. Unfortunately this is the first time I've had the chance to use it, but when I decided I wanted something dough based I dug it out of my moving boxes and had a flick through.

I will warn you now, making Chelsea buns is not for the faint-hearted or time conscious. You have to work with a very sticky dough because it's enriched with butter, milk, sugar and eggs. It makes for a difficult time rolling out - I was chucking flour everywhere it an attempt to shape it up. The recipe also took me about 3 and half hours in the end - luckily that wasn't constant work. You have to leave the dough to rise for an hour, then once you've rolled in out, filled it with the delicious butter, sugar, spice and fruit filling, rolled it up again and cut it into rounds, you have to leave those to prove for another half hour. While the end result is undeniable delicious I wouldn't recommend baking them if you're in a hurry or you're whipping up something quick for pudding.

I finished these little lovelies off with a sprinkling of demerara sugar and a marmalade glaze. Although they're a lot smaller and flatter than traditional Chelsea buns, they are still pretty delicious - I love the kick of cinnamon and hint of allspice that goes with every bite. Do you fancy making these? You can find the recipe here.

I did burn my thumb quite badly making these though and I've had to type this one handed. So I'm going to go off and feel a bit sorry for myself  - why do the tiniest burns hurt so badly!- and eat one of these!

Beth xx

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Aqua zumba - what you need to know

Image source
Morning everyone, it's an early post from me today because I'm off campervan-ing with the family in a few hours. We're not sure exactly where we're going as we've left it a bit late to try and book a site on a bank holiday weekend (and the last one of the year) but I imagine it will be north Devon/Exmoor way.
Last night a friend and I went to our first ever aqua zumba class. We had such a brilliant time that I couldn't wait to share it with you. Originally we were just looking at going swimming for a couple hours at our local pool but when my friend said they were doing aqua zumba classes I jumped at the chance.
I've done a couple of zumba classes, as well as playing on the wii, and I've always enjoyed it. It's a bit of a cross between aerobics and latin dance, luckily for me you don't actually have to be a good dancer you just have to be able to shake your thang!
If you've ever done a zumba class then you will know that just because they are fun does not mean they are easy! You spend the whole hour moving/dancing/shaking around, exercising just about every muscle on your body - including the ones in your face if you happen to get the giggles like me - and by the end you feel hot and sweaty but elated that you've completed the class. Aqua zumba is just as much of a good workout but in different ways.
I was really excited to start, but feeling a bit nervous about what the class actually entailed but when the instructor put on the music - the first song was "do the locomotion" brill! - and start doing the moves you just have fun. You start off with basic warm up moves like jumping jacks and running on the spot before going on to more aerobic based moves, leg lifts, squats, lunches etc. The instructor does the moves from the side of the pool and while they might look easy on dry land, in the water with all the resistant pushing against you they are much harder. Try walking a few steps in the water in one direction before spinning back and walking a few steps, and repeat, and you'll see what I mean! The deeper in the water you go, the more resistant you get and the harder the moves are.
The second half of the class is much more dance based so expect to be wriggling you hips, doing turns in the water and slightly more complicated step moves. It's such a laugh - especially if you go with a friend.
What I love about aqua zumba is it doesn't feel like a workout at all. Because exercise in water in non-weight bearing you don't feel likes there is as much pressure on your muscles. You can feel them stretching out and they might ache slightly afterwards, but the next morning it's all completely gone. Plus being in water means you don't get red and sweaty!
You do feel a bit silly at first, especially if the pool have kept one lane open for normal swimmers who stop now and again to watch you, biut the great thign about it being in water in that no one can see what moves you're doing under the water they can just see you bobbing along to the water.
While I encourage you all to go and try out aqua zumba this class is only for the water confident. While you'll mostly be in the shallow (if you're petite) to the middle (if you're taller) parts of the pool there are parts of the class where you have to support yourself in the water, take your feet of the floor and move your legs in the water.

Do you like the sound of aqua zumba? Or have you already been to a class?

Beth xx

Friday, 23 August 2013

It's all about the haircut

Hello beauty addicts! I hope you're well, today's been a bit crazy, firstly sorry for the awful picture that goes with this blog post, my laptop had a meltdown this morning so I'm borrowing one but it means I can't download any photos from my camera so I've had to nab a hair related one off my facebook. I don't really like posting without a pic, that's why you've got one of me at my 20th birthday a few months ago, just after I'd had my hair restyled
Today, as you may have guessed, it's all about the haircut. It's amazing what a haircut can do for you. You walk a little taller, smile a little bright and you get to walk out the salon doing that swish-flick thing with your hair.
I've never really been very talented when it comes to my hair - my sister is brilliant, and so is my housemate - so I always go for a hair cut that is easy to style and doesn't need much doing to it. I've known my hairdresser for about seven years, she introduced me to GHDs, cut off my waist length hair into a bob and helped me go through a multitude of dye jobs, from my first caramel coloured highlights, to all over colours like dark purple, red, dark brown and back again. So it's safe to say she tell me what suits me and what, frankly, will look ridiculous. I love being able to ask whether a full fringe will suit me or whether I should choose blonde or brunette for my next colour change.
To me there's nothing more terrifying than going to a new hairdresser, I think I've done it about three or four times in seven years. While they mostly did an excellent job, and there's many more excellent hairdressers, you can't help but wonder whether they will understand what type of style you're going for, my love for having a sweeping side fringe means that I have to remind every hairdresser I meet not to cut it above my eyebrow, and my paranoia about this happening means I make this statement several times. Once was bad enough, where I was reduced to tears and left pinning my fringe back for a few weeks until it grew it again - thank goodness for hair grips!
But staying with the same salon for years on isn't always practical - and sometimes it's good to pick someone new if you want a complete overhaul instead of your usual trim - so if you're feeling nervous or guilty for picking a stylist then don't worry, check out my top tips for worry-free trip to the hairdressers below.

Top Tips
  1. Know what you want: if you're going for a big restyle look online and in hair magazines to get an idea of the style you want and take the photos along with you to show your hairdresser 
  2. But don't be afraid to ask for opinions: any good hairdresser will be able to advise whether the hairstyle you want to go for will suit your hair type and face shape or whether the dye job is going to drain you of all colour. 
  3. Think about what you wear: no polo necks, nothing delicate that you worry might get ruined, no big dangly jewellery that's going to get in way. Obviously you can take off the jewellery when you get there, just don't leave them on the counter (like I did with my house keys!).
  4. Go in your everyday look: if you wear make-up everyday, wear it to the hairdressers. Make-up can completely change your look and may affect how you feel about your new do. 
  5. Ask questions: what products are best for my hair? Will a full fringe suit me? I'm thinking of dying my hair which shade will suit me? Do you have any hair treatments that will help? Anything hair related and they will be able to help.
Do you stick to the same hairdresser or mix it up?

Beth xx

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Amazing apple cake

If you follow me on Twitter - and if not, why not? Do it now! - you'll have seen countless tweets from me last night about the Great British Bake Off (sorry about that!). That's right, it's back on our screens. We have weeks stretching ahead of us watching the home bakers whip up delicious goodies and trying not cry when their crème patisserie curdles and the oven just doesn't play ball.
Although me and my sister like to pretend we're baking experts when we're watching GBBO - "that chocolate cake is way too dry", "what is that!!" - I do actually enjoy a bit of baking. It's probably something to do with the fact that I have a sweet tooth, so I can spend all afternoon baking and then have a delicious treat to stuff my face with after. But I have had my fair share of baking disasters, in school I once added tablespoon of baking powder to some brownie mix instead of teaspoon, they rose so much they pretty much exploded over the oven and since that it's taken me years to get brownies right!
Last night it was all about cake, so this week I'm sharing a recipe for a delicious apple cake. I do love this cake, although the main reason I'm making it is because we have a glut of cooking apples in our garden and my mum is pestering me to use them before I head back to uni in a couple of weeks. Although I will be remembering to put sugar into the cake batter and not salt like poor Toby did last night.

Apple tree

You will need: 
  • 3-4 large cooking apples
  • 225g butter at room temp.
  • 275g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 2tsp baking power
  • Few drops of lemon juice
  • Demerara sugar
  • Cinnamon (optional)
  • Large rectangular baking tin (around 27cm x 20cm)
  • Greaseproof paper
Before you say anything - you will need about double the amount of apples!

Get Baking
  1. Pre-heat the oven to: 160C for fan ovens | 180C for normal oven |
  2. Butter the tin and line with greaseproof paper. I like to leave a little extra hanging over on the longer sides so I can pick the cake out of the tin easily.
  3. Peel and core the apples and then cut them into thin slices, about 1cm thick. 
  4. *TOP TIP - get a large plastic jug and fill it with cold water and add the lemon juice, then when you slice up the apples pop them straight into the water and it will stop them going brown*
  5. Beat together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and combine
  6. Sift in the flour. Because it's such a large amount of flour I like to do this is two batches to ensure I get a lovely lump-free batter. If it looks too thick then add a splash of milk!
  7. Pour half of the batter into the prepared tin, then add a layer of apple slices, sprinkle the slices with demerara sugar and a pinch of cinnamon (if using), I just think cinnamon goes so well with apple. Then add the rest of the cake batter on top, add the remaining apple slices and some demerara sugar
  8. Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown and the sponge springs back when you press the top of it
  9. Lift the cake out of the tin - using the handy greaseproof paper handles - and leave to cool on a wire rack
I like to cut this cake into bars, perfect to enjoy with a cuppa, which is what I'm about to do!

Has the Great British Bake Off inspired you to get baking? Share your recipes below

Beth xxx

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

My top tips for work experience

Any excuse to buy cute stationary ! (l-r) Watercolour bird A5 notebook, Vintage compact mid-year diary, pencil case old All from Paperchase
Getting ready for your first day of work experience is a bit like getting ready for a first date. You spend ages picking out your outfit so you make the right impression, do a little background research and think of lots of interesting things to say. And like a date, we all want the first day of work experience to go well as it really takes the pressure off the following ones.
Right now thousands of people will be packing up their rooms ready to move to university in a month, thousands more will be planning the next step in their career or higher education and thousands, like me, will be finishing off their education before going out to find a full time job. Where ever you and who ever you are, work experience is an invaluable extra to your CV and yourself. Work experience gives you an insight into the career you want and will either make or break you in deciding where you want to go.
I've put together a few simple tips to keep in mind throughout your placement so you and, the company you're at, can get the most from it.

  • Keep in touch - I don't mean bombard them with emails everyday but if you've arranged your work experience a few months in advance you might want to drop them a line and confirm the dates. 
  • Ask questions - Check the office hours and who you should ask for when you arrive reception. You might want to check the dress code although sometimes the company will mention it themselves or it will just be obvious. Office work usually = smart attire
  • Do your research - Find out all you can about the company. If you're going to work at a newspaper for example, read some of their back editions, find out their target audience and what type of stories they report on the most
  • Be prepared - Book your travel tickets, arrange accommodation if needed, check the directions to your workplace. If you're like me, you might even want to plan a few outfits in advance.
  • Be friendly - You'll probably be introduced to the office when you arrive so be friendly and enthusiastic, and I mean for the entire placement not just when you say hello
  • Ask questions - Find out how people got into their career, ask for extra work or if there's anything you can help with, offer to make coffee, anything that will make a good impression
  • Be organised - Keep a diary and notebook of all the important information. Keep your colleauges conact details, any information about tasks you've been given, etc.
  • Get the most out of your placement - Sometimes a placement might not entirely live up to your expectations so think about what you can do to make it better. If there's a specific project you want to get involved in ask your team leader, the worst they can say is no! See if anyone else in the office needs helping out
  • Be grateful - you don't have to fall to your knees in gratitude but before you leave the office make sure to thank the people who have looked after you and shown you around. It shows common courtesy and they might invite you back again
  • Get contact details - the person who was looking after you, they know other people in the industry and could open loads of doors for you
  • Keep in contact - again don't bombard them with emails but drop them a line to say how much you enjoyed the placement. You could ask if you could come back again or whether they could put you in contact with other companies
That's it really. It's not rocket science. Be confident, calm and prepared, come brimming with ideas and ready to help out with any task, and any team will be happy for your help.

What are your top tips for a successful placement?

Beth xxx

Monday, 19 August 2013

Mani Mondays: The Colour of the Season

Mani Mondays is the latest addition to my blog, while I'm not going to claim to be some sort of genius nail artist - I'll leave that to the professionals - I am a lover of all things nail polish related hence the reason for this new post.
I adore collecting nail polishes and I have around 60 bottles in my collection, a few of them were gift sets I was given for Christmas or birthdays but a lot of them are just bottles I've picked up whilst I'm out shopping with friends - I never can resist a 3 for 2 offer on Barry M. I don't usually go for any specific brands I just pick up ones which I like the colour of and, more often than not, have a nice bottle design!
Today's post is all about one of this season's must have colours, PINK! Whether it's baby pink, magenta, neon pink, barely there pink, fuchsia, cerise, rose or salmon this Autumn you will need some pink in your make up bag and a good place to start is with your nails.

(l-r) Barry M Sequin Effects Pink, Rimmel Lycra Pro Oyster Pink, Accessorize nail polish from a gift set, Models Own Bubblegum, Mavala Funny Coral, Max Factor Nailfinity Disco Pink, Revlon Colourstay Cafe Pink
Growing up I was never much of a pink person, purples were always more my thing and I tended to go for shades of blue and green when I was picking an outfit because they flatter my skin tone. Until recently I though I still wasn't much of a pink person but a quick look at my make up box proved me to be, I found a glut of pink lipsticks, pink blushers and pink lipglosses all which have been well used.

Everything from Bourjois blush and baby stick, to lipglosess from Rimmel, Clinique, Neal's Yard Remedies and Missguided
I've just started wearing this gorgeous pink nail polish from Mavala which I got in my goody bag from Fabulous magazine and I think it's the perfect colour to see the season in with. Funny Coral is from the 2013 Pacific Dream collection and is a combination, I think, of coral, French rose and deep pink not too bright that you can't wear it everyday, but still noticeable enough. I also found the polish had a lovely glossy finish and was quick to dry - which is always, always a bonus!

Mavala Funny Coral*
From the Summer 2013 Pacific Dream Collection
I think I'll be wearing this colour considerably throughout Autumn, before turning to darker, richer pinks almost on the verge of deep reds as the weather gets colder. Mavala polishes are available from a number of stockists online as well as large department stores like Boots. For more information visit the Mavala website.

Will you be wearing pink this season?

Beth xxx 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

My week at Fabulous magazine

I've just got back from London, where I spent on of the busiest - and best! - weeks of my life interning at Fabulous magazine. It was the first time I'd stayed in the big city by myself, which meant learning to navigate the tube, find my way around London (thank god for the GPS app on my phone) and putting up with people checking in the hostel where I was staying at gone midnight, every single night, but it was all worth it.

The lovely little goody bag the beauty team at Fabulous put together for me
I've always wanted to go into print journalism, specifically magazines but this was the first time that I have actually had the opportunity to work for one and it just confirmed to me that this is the career I want. I loved travelling through London during the rush hour, I loved working in a busy office surrounded by people who have the careers I want, I loved writing and researching articles, calling publishing houses, helping out on photoshoots and transcribing interviews (even though it took up hours of each day).

My first day at the magazine I was feeling pretty nervous. I'd arrived in London the afternoon before so I had time to learn my way to work but I still had the nerves of first time solo travelling weighing on my shoulders not to mention a night of disrupted sleep and panic over what to wear to the office. But I had no need to worry, everyone in the office was really friendly and I was soon settled at my own desk pouring over that days newspapers looking for feature ideas - and I even managed to mention a couple of ideas to the Features Director. Everyday I had writing and researching to do or phone calls to make and the hours just flew by - although I was knackered by the time I got back to the hostel!

My reward at the end was not only an invaluable insight into the world of women's magazines, but a beautiful goody bag put together by the Fabulous beauty team crammed full of wonderful beauty products that I will no doubt be sharing with you soon.

If you have the slightest interest in any job sector I would recommend trying to get some work experience or an internship with a related company as soon as you can. Drop them an email, make a phone call, what do you have to lose? You can read and research all about your chosen career but they're nothing like actually joining the office for a few days and becoming part of the team.

Check out my top tips for work experience here!

Beth xxx

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Life Lately #1

Wow, I have been absent for a very, very long time and I can only apologise. I'm not really sure what happened to be honest with you, one minute I was blogging away and then the next I was taking a short break which turned into a 3 month sabbatical!

So here's a quick run down of what I've been up to:

1) Sitting two more NCTJ exams. Not thrilling and very hard work. I'm pleased to say I passed (just) with grade C's in both exams
2) Finishing the second year of university. Where has the time gone! It seems like yesterday my parents were dropping me off at halls and I was enjoying Freshers fortnight - now it's on the really hard work, I'm talking dissertation and final year project. Gulp!
3) Work experience. I did a week at the Hereford Times in June, which I actually really enjoyed. It wasn't that I was expecting it to be boring, I've just never been great at news journalism - give me a magazine concept and a lifestyle or beauty idea and I could write for hours. I'm also super excited to say I will be working at Fabulous magazine for week starting on Monday.
4) Final year housing. Probably the most stressful situation of the summer so far. We had a 3 bed house sorted back in February and paid the deposit only to find out in June that our house had been sold and we were technically homeless for 3rd year. Luckily a gorgeous 3 bed came on the market the day we were viewing new properties and we decided to rent it. It was an upsetting couple of weeks but I'm happy to say it's all sorted and I can't wait to move in with my friends in September.
5) Holiday time. I've just come back from a week away with the family in Yorkshire. We stayed in a tiny little village with no mobile signal and terrible wifi! We did get to go on some lovely moor walks and made it into York city centre a couple of times so I could go shopping!

I've also decided to give my blog a little overhaul. I'll be designing a new header and including longer articles about beauty and lifestyle. While I love writing reviews - and I think if we're honest we all enjoy reading an honest one - I really want to branch out a bit with my writing.

Well that's all for now. I have to sort out my suitcase for tomorrow and try and then try and get a good nights sleep!