Friday, 31 August 2012

Recipe: Avocado Pita Pizza & Coriander Sauce



I originally saw this recipe on Pinterest & knew that I had to try it. It contains two of my favourite things ever, avocado & coriander (cilantro). Not only that but it looked relatively simple too. Here's how I made mine:

You will need

2 Pita pockets
1 Avocado
Grated cheese of your choice (I went for red leciester & mozzarella)

For the sauce

Big handful of fresh coriander
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of finely chopped green onion
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper

1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.
2. Finely chop your coriander & onion, & mice your garlic. Put it all into a bowl or jug along with the lime juice & olive oil & give it a good mix. Add salt & pepper to taste.
3. Divide the sauce between the two pita pockets (I had some left over actually so you don't have to use it all). Sprinkle on the cheese & put in the oven for about 10 mins. Whilst your pizzas are baking, slice up your avocado.
4. When the pizzas are done top them with avocado & sprinkle with sea salt!

I served mine alongside crispy kale & a raspberry beer, but they'd be amazing with some chunky fries with a spicy seasoning.

Definitely give this a try if you're looking for something simple but interesting during the week. I can't wait to try other toppings on pita pizzas too!


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

6 Favourite Beauty Products

I am always changing my mind about what my favourite products are. I use quite a lot of different things
daily, & my regime changes monthly, if not weekly. Right now though, these are the 6 products I'm really digging.

1. Toni & Guy Beach Curl Spray After just saying that I change products monthly, my first pick is actually something I have been using for years, ha. I love this spray so, so much- I have really long, really thick, really straight hair which makes me very lucky I know, but it is also a massive pain to try to do anything with it, especially curling it. I tend to prefer to wear my hair wavy and this spray is the only thing that keeps my curls in place, & actually encourages my hair into more defined curls- think sea salt curls. I curl the ends of my hair with my straighteners & then spray this in for beach curls that last for days. It also smells DIVINE, (well to me anyway), which is a massive plus 'cause who doesn't want to have amazing smelling hair?

2. Soap & Glory A Great Kisser in Coconut I'm really not a lipgloss person, I much prefer my lipsticks. I think it's the long hair, it gets caught in the gloss & is really annoying, plus then the lipgloss just ends up all over your face. This little pot though is like a cross between a balm & a gloss, & I find myself wearing it into work a lot. It has a slight shimmer in it but not a terribly noticable amount- what the shimmer does do is make your lips look even glossier! Plus I am a total sucker for anything with coconut in it.

3. MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator This is another product I have actually been using for years ha. I got a tube for Christmas the last time it was released & used it so sparingly because I was so afraid of it running out & being left without it as it had been discontinued, that I actually only ran out a month or so before it was released again! I have never been so delighted to see a product return & I hope that MAC eventually make this part of their permanent skincare line. It is AMAZING.

4.  Norwegian Formula Deep Moisture Creamy Oil I like to keep a bottle of this on my nightstand because I suffer from really dry hands. I have to use hydrocortisone on them, but you can only use that once a day, so I keep this close by for when they get all cracked. It's an all over moisturiser too so it's handy to have, plus I really like the pump bottle. It has a nice consistency & is not sticky or heavy, rather it melts into your skin, leaving it soft & smelling beautiful!

5. Soap & Glory No Clogs Allowed Facemask I am addicted to self-heating face masks- it's like having a spa in your bathroom. This has a really lovely, powdery-soft texture when applying & it smells like sea air, which I LOVE. It's also lightly exfoliating too, & leaves your skin really smooth & soft. I use this about once a week & my face always feels super clean afterwards.

6. Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray I've had this for a while but recently rediscovered it at the bottom of a vanity case & have been happily spritzing away every day. It does what it says it will really- makes your makeup last AGES, and that is a super top priority for me when it comes to makeup. It also helps set it in place better, so it stays on your face & you get less tranfser onto your hands & clothing. Plus it feels really nice & cooling when you spray it! It makes me want to try those hydrating mists you can get.

What about you? What products do you find yourself not being able to live without right now? Let me know!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Recipe: Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

I love anything lemon flavoured, so these pink lemonade cupcakes are one of my favourites. They are also super easy & don't have a lot of hard to find ingredients.

To make about 8 cupcakes, you will need:

4oz/113g Butter
4oz/113g Caster sugar
4oz/113g Self raising flour
1 tsp lemon extract
2 Eggs
 
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (for fan, adjust accordingly for non-fan), and line your cupcake tray with liners.
2. In a large bowl, add flour & sugar. Melt butter (not too hot, heat until just melted) & add to bowl. Mix together with a wooden spoon until just incorporated.
3. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk eggs & then add to flour, sugar & butter mixture. Whisk until smooth & add lemon.
4. Spoon the batter into the liners & bake for about 15-20 mins. (I check after 15 & keep them in for another 5 if they look too pale.
5. When done, turn out onto cooling rack & allow to cool completely.
 
To make the frosting:
(recipe adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook)
80g Butter
250g (or more) Powdered sugar (sifted)
25 ml Milk
2 tsp lemon extract
1 tablespoon strawberry juice (from mashed strawberries)
Toppings, to decorate (I used gold stars & pink sugar crystals)

1. Make sure butter is room temperature before you start (if it's cold, give it a very tiny blast in the microwave). Give it a little stir in a bowl to loosen it up too.
2. Add sugar a little bit at a time, stirring all the while with a wooden spoon. It should all eventually come together (if your butter was a tiny bit cold before you started it might go sandy but that's okay don't worry it'll come together once you add the milk) add the milk, lemon extract & strawberry juice & then taste to see if it is smooth. If not smooth enough, give it a good whisk.
3. I also find that most recipes don't call for enough icing sugar & it goes all melty looking so I tend to add more. If this is the case for you then add a bit more sifted sugar a little bit at a time until you get nice firm frosting.
4. Pipe onto your cupcake using a piping bag & a round tip nozzle & sprinkle with your chosen decorations!


These were so good & satisfied my craving for lemony sweetness. The strawberry was a last minute addition because I intended to use red food colouring to colour the frosting but realised halfway through that I didn't have any left! It was a happy adjustment though as the sweetness of the strawberry really enhanced the lemon & cut through some of the tartness, so I will be making them like these in the future!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Hairspiration: Solange Knowles & Paloma Faith

I am quite unadventurous with my hair because it is difficult to get it to do anything other than just hang there. I generally (when it's freshly washed) curl the ends with straighteners, spray in a bit of curling spray, mist with hairspray & just wear it down or half up if I'm not working, & on work days I always wear it up, either in a high pony, a low pony with a backcombed crown or, most frequently, in a single braid to one side.

I take inspiration from some very stylish ladies to deal with my hair when I do wear a different hairstyle, and these are two of my favourites.


I love headscarves, especially when I'm having a bad hair day! They are great on day 4 or when I need to dye my roots because they hide a multitude of sins & add a bit of flair & personality to your hairstyle. Solange Knowles is definitely my main source of head scarf inspiration, & I like the turban styles she wears, and all the colourful prints. Rihanna also loves a good headscard & has definitely helped make them more popular than ever before.To get your headscarf into a half-turban style knot just use a long scarf & twist the two ends around each other & tie behind, or try tying a knot into the middle of a smaller scarf & tying behind for a different take on it.


When my hair is maybe on day two or three I sling it into a low side pony & do a pinwheel fringe. This way I still get to wear it long but it's more tame & my fringe is kept off my face. This is one of my favourite ways to wear my fringe because I like it to help frame my face but it can be sort of annoying when it's not pinned back! Paloma Faith is the QUEEN of fringes, and of hair in general, her hairstyles are always a great source of inspiration, and Dita is of course the most glamourous woman on earth so you can't go wrong with anything she does.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Imaginary Wardrobe Shopping

I am always broke- it's no secret. I pretty much have enough money for rent & bills & maybe some food each month & that's about it. I rarely buy clothes or have lots of mad nights out so why I get to the end of each month & have absolutely no money left is beyond me...* It's so unfair because I would be SO GOOD at being rich! You have no idea, I would be amazing at spending money without a care in the world, & I think it's highly unfair that I am not allowed to do so. Like everyone with a gift though, I do try to hone my skills by imaginary shopping for things that are way out of my price range, which is sometimes just as fun, well, except for the part where you actually get to own the stuff.




1. Lulu Guinness Librarian Dollface Tote (£275). I was walking through House of Fraser, stroking all the Chloe bags, when I saw this & my heart skipped a little beat. Someday this bag & I will run off together. Tru luv 4eva.
2. Boy. by Band of Outsiders Dog Print Silk Shirt Dress (£450) & 3. Paul & Joe Sister Flamingo Print Dress (£220). I am a major sucker for a dress with a quirky animal print, plus I love that these both have SLEEVES. I am always angry about dresses without sleeves, especially in the Autumn!
4. Opening Ceremony Oxford Clog (£85 down from £282 omg) When an oxford & a clog love each other very much they have perfect oxford clog shoe babies & I want them for my feet.
5. YSL Arty Ring (£180) You don't need me to tell you about this ring because you probably already want one too.

Sigh, someday, eh?

*of course I know why, I bought fennel (I don't even like it) & Cointreau in this week's grocery shop & spent my last £7 on a bottle of wine last month. See? I would be great at being rich!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Five Etsy Picks: Ocean Love

I may be a city girl now & forever more, but a part of me will always feel most at home beside the sea. I am from a tiny coastal town in Ireland (seriously, one main street but two beaches, that's a large ocean : town ratio) & have spent a great deal of my life living a hop, skip & a jump away from the sea front. Marine mania is truly ingrained in my family (my sister is a marine scientist & my dad a keen fisherman) and I have always felt an affinity with the sea & marine life. So much so that I love little splashes of oceanic inspiration within my home & wardrobe, and where better to find unique sea inspired pieces than on Etsy?





1. 5 Whales Stacked. Whales are some of my favourite animals ever- they are so large & impressive, yet graceful & gentle, not to mention their whale songs are one of nature's most achingly beautiful sounds. I love, love, love this print.
2. Whale bowl. I love the colours in this bowl, and the way the little whales look like they are swimming about inside! This Etsy seller has cleverly taken scientific illustrations & made them into something beautiful- check out the rest of her shop too- her stuff is gorgeous, I want everything!
3. Colourful Fish Tote. I love cotton totes- they are great for carrying in your handbag for when you pop in for a few groceries & don't want a plastic bag! I always try to carry one with me & this colourful fish one would definitely make grocery shopping a little less of a chore.
4. Aqua Coral Glass Bowl. This is so pretty & would look great on a coffee table with some seashells inside. I love the colour & the way the artist has taken nature's design & made it into something both practical & beautiful.
5. Mahi Mahi pillow. I love this illustration of a mahi mahi, they are such funny fish, beautifully coloured, & little mouth, they always look worried to me & the artist capured this perfectly. I think this would look great with a bunch of geometric pattern pillows on a boldly coloured sofa.

The ocean is so awe-inspiring & beautiful, no wonder so many artists take their inspiration from it.

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), It’s always our self we find in the sea.
– e.e. Cummings

Monday, 13 August 2012

Recipe: Golden (Medal) Cupcakes

So as of tonight, the Olympics are over. I will be devastated when I wake up tomorrow morning & realise there is no handball or swimming to watch. To console myself I made some vanilla & salted caramel golden cupcakes to celebrate the best Olympics ever, and of course, Our Greatest Team.




To make the cupcakes:
(this makes about 8 but I ruined two by setting the cupake pan on the still hot hob, sadface. Obv double the quantities for more cupcakes/large cakes)

4oz/113g Butter
4oz/113g Caster sugar
4oz/113g Self raising flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Eggs

This is my go-to recipe for cake, both cupcakes & larger ones. It's the one my mum has always used (with slight adjustments), it's easy to remember & not very complicated, and, most importantly, it has NEVER failed me. (If I am making chocolate I will substitute half the flour for cocoa powder & add a pinch of baking powder to make up for the lack of raising agent).

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (for fan, adjust accordingly for non-fan), and line your cupcake tray with liners.
2. In a large bowl, add flour & sugar. Melt butter (not too hot, heat until just melted) & add to bowl. Mix together with a wooden spoon until just incorporated.
3. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk eggs & then add to flour, sugar & butter mixture. Whisk until smooth & add vanilla.
4. Spoon the batter into the liners & bake for about 15-20 mins. (I check after 15 & keep them in for another 5 if they look too pale.
5. When done, turn out onto cooling rack & allow to cool completely.


To make the salted caramel sauce:
(recipe taken & slightly adapted from Nigella's recipe here)

75 g Butter
100g Golden caster Sugar
50g Golden Syrup
125ml Double Cream
1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes (Maldon is best & easy enough to find)

1. Melt butter, sugar and syrup in a small heavy based pan and let simmer for 3 minutes, swirling every now and again (don't stir!)
2. Add cream and the salt and swirl again, give a stir with a wooden spoon & done! Easy peasy.
3. Allow to cool completely. When both sauce & cakes are cool, carve a little well in the centre of each cake & spoon in some sauce.


To make the frosting:
(recipe adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook)

80g Butter
250g (or more) Powdered sugar (sifted)
25 ml Milk
2 tbsp salted caramel sauce
Edible glitter, to decorate.

1. Make sure butter is room temperature before you start (if it's cold, give it a very tiny blast in the microwave). Give it a little stir in a bowl to loosen it up too.
2. Add sugar a little bit at a time, stirring all the while with a wooden spoon. It should all eventually come together (if your butter was a tiny bit cold before you started it might go sandy but that's okay don't worry it'll come together once you add the milk) add the milk & the salted caramel sauce & then taste to see if it is smooth. If not smooth enough, give it a good whisk.
3. I also find that most recipes don't call for enough icing sugar & it goes all melty looking so I tend to add more. If this is the case for you then add a bit more sifted sugar a little bit at a time until you get nice firm frosting.
4. Pipe onto your cupcake using a piping bag & a round tip nozzle & sprinkle with glitter!

The tricky bit for me is the piping. I am rubbish at piping frosting on so I usually use the back of a spoon, but I do need to learn so I piped these, with, ahem, wobbly results. If you don't want to pipe then use a spoon to swirl it on, but if you do, you will need a piping bag & tips. I have seen people cutting the corners off a plastic bag to pipe but that looks a bit fiddly & messy to me, especially since I am just learning. I used a silicone bag & a large round piping tip for these. Hopefully the edible glitter will distract from my amateur piping skillz!


Even though they're a little wobbly I am really pleased with them & I can't wait to practice more! I would also like to point out that I made these cupcakes without the use of an electric mixer of any kind. It is totally possible to still have fun in the kitchen without shelling out a load for expensive equipment. I started baking at uni & had no choice but to make everything by hand & even now I always still prefer to make cakes by hand even when I do have use of a mixer. 

So there you have it- golden cupcakes with a salted caramel filling to mark the end of a really fun two weeks of Olympic fever. 

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Recipe: Baked Oatmeal

When I woke up this morning I fancied something a bit more interesting for breakfast, (well, brunch since I didn't get up until 11), than a bowl of Weetabix, but since it's coming up to the end of the pay month I am monumentally strapped for cash & so I had to try to rustle up something delicious yet healthy from what I already had in my store cupboard & fridge. I remember making baked oatmeal a long time ago for my flatmates at uni & it was pretty good, but every time I have tried it since then it has been, well, woeful. But I knew I would have all the ingredients for it so I flexed my Google skills & found a simple recipe that looked quite nice.


It turned out really well! It was crispy on top, chewy in the middle & ever so slightly gooey at the bottom- so good. I'll definitely be having this again, and it was delicious served with plain greek yogurt.

Baked Oatmeal: Serves 4
Adapted from allrecipes.com 
(You can use the slider on the original recipe to adjust portion sizes, which is what I did since I only made it for me)


You will need:
  • 120 g oats
  • 50 g brown sugar
  • 50 g golden syrup
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 120 ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 55 g melted butter
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp of almond extract
  • handful of mixed dried fruit

1. Preheat oven to 175° C (I have a fan assisted oven so adjust accordingly if you don't).
2. Mix all the ingredients together in one bowl, starting with the dry & then add the wet. Stir the fruit in last.
3. Spread into a small baking dish, place in the middle of the oven & bake for about 30-40 mins.

Yum! Warm & sweet baked oatmeal. You could eat this on its own, with a splash of cold milk or with a bit of yogurt as I have done. Or, if you were having it as a dessert, which you could easily do, a scoop of vanilla ice-cream! You can also make this a slightly healthier version (which is what I did) by using skimmed milk, a light butter substitute (sacrilege I know, but try Lurpak Lightest, it's not as horrid as some others) & low-fat yogurt. This way it works out to about 315 calories per serving, or 395 calories with 100g of the yogurt.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Nail Art: Half Moon Mani


You can't really go wrong with a half moon mani because it's such a classic, and this colour combo is one of my faves. The red is Asiatique by MAC & the nude is Nude Beige by Models Own. I did it by starting with the red, and, once they were dry, (I may have sneaky cheated & painted a coat of Seche Vite on to help them along), I used french tip guide strips (you can pick these up dead cheap, I think I got mine in Poundland!) to tape off the area that I wanted to paint nude & just painted them below the guide strip. Once the nude is dry (or as dry as your patience will let you- although don't try & take them off too early because it will be sticky & smudge), I finished with a glossy top coat, Seche Vite is my favourite because it dries so quickly & leaves such a glossy finish.

It's a really easy way to get a nice smooth line, although I have seen ring reinforcement stickers used as well which is quite clever if you can't get your hands on some guide strips.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Favourite Music Videos & Directors

When I was in high school I had ambitions of becoming a music video director. I've always loved both music & film, & to me, this career choice seemed like a perfect combination of two of my passions- plus I really enjoyed music videos as an art form & obsessively watched as many as I could in order to learn as much about the history of music videos as possible. All was going well when I got into my dream film course at university, but one year down the line I realised it wasn't meant to be when it turned out that, well, I'm not all that good at making films, nor did I enjoy it. I much prefer to watch, learn & write about film, and so today I'm going to share with you a few of my favourite music videos & video directors.



Chris Cunningham: Bjork - All Is Full Of Love

This is my favourite music video of all time. I remember watching an interview or listening to a commentary years ago where Bjork said she wanted the white substance to feel milky & warm because love is like that & it stuck with me. This video is so delicate and beautiful, and despite being full of machinery & robotics still manages to convey a human tenderness- it gives me chills. Chris Cunningham has directed a lot of weird stuff over the years, Aphex Twin's Come To Daddy & Windowlicker are brilliant but total brain melters (Come To Daddy still scares the crap out of me), The Horror's Sheena Is A Parasite is good with a cool cameo from Samantha Morton but I hate the song & his experimental short film Rubber Johnny is possibly one of the most bizarre but compelling things I have ever seen. If you decide to click on any of the links to check out his work, keep in mind that it's not for the faint-hearted & there is a lot of swearing.



Floria Sigismondi: Interpol - Obstacle 1

I was so obsessed with this song when it first came out (which was ten years ago, I feel far too old) & remember thinking the video was so cool. I love Floria Sigismondi's work because her visuals are always so beautiful but with a slightly creepy or off-putting edge that's hard to quite put your finger on. In this the girl's erratic dancing is kind of disjointed & unnatural, the whole thing gives me a 'Sadako climbing out of the tv' in The Ring vibe. Plus the cords on the floor looks a bit like stringy wet hair to me & that's always kind of grossed me out, (which is weird I know, but I do totally hate getting a wet strand of hair stuck on me in the shower, or worse, when I'm blow-drying my hair). Floria has directed lots of other amazing videos with a beautiful-creepy vibe; Blue Orchid by The White Stripes, Untitled #1 (Vaka) by Sigur Ros, Fighter by Christina Aguilera & E.T. by Katy Perry are some of my favourites. She also directed Cult of Cherry & Hello Kitty shorts for MAC & the recent film The Runways with Kristen Stewart & Dakota Fanning.




Spike Jonze: Fatboy Slim - Weapon Of Choice

It was SO hard to choose a fave Spike Jonze video because he's done a lot of awesome ones, I almost went with The Beastie Boys' Sabotage (amazing, watch it), but this one with Christopher Walken whizzing about a hotel lobby won out- plus I really love this song too. I like the imaginative & humorous elements Jonze adds to his work, seen in his work on Bjork's It's Oh So Quiet & Fatboy Slim's Praise You. He also worked with Kanye West on his video for Flashing Lights (one of my faves) & he directed Kanye & Jay-Z's Otis, which is a bit of a break from his usual style but fantastic regardless. Jonze has also directed a handful of feature films, Being John Malkovich, Adaptation & Where The Wild Things Are, which are three excellent movies that you should definitely watch, Malkovich especially.



Jonas Akerlund: The Cardigans - My Favourite Game

This is such a brilliant song & I LOVE this video with ethereal lead singer Nina Persson as an out of control maniac driving down a long highway with total disregard to everything around her. I've actually included the short version of this video because I think that even though the longer one makes more narrative sense, I've always like that the short verson focused exclusively on Persson for the entire duration of the video. The video that is probably Akerlund's most famous & most controversial is for The Prodigy's Smack My Bitch Up, but his body of work is quite impressive all throughout his career, having directed videos such as Madonna's Ray of Light & Blink-182's I Miss You. He has also recently worked with Lady Gaga on her videos for Paparazzi & Telephone (which I almost picked for my fave Akerlund video- I think it's AMAZING). He also directed the movie Spun with Jason Schwartzman, Brittany Murphy, Mickey Rourke & Debbie Harry, amongst others, playing various people involved in a crystal meth drug ring, which I, ahem, have not actually seen but keep meaning to.



Michel Gondry: The Chemical Brothers - Let Forever Be

Gondry is unbelievably creative- his visual style is extremely innovative & often involves fantastical or surreal elements, and this is definitely evident in this video for Let Forever Be. He has also directed some of the best music videos of all time, including but not limited to, Bjork's Army Of Me, The White Stripes' Fell In Love With A Girl & Daft Punk's Around the World- all amazing! Gondry has also directed quite a few feature films, including Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep & Be Kind Rewind. I love that Gondry has an almost immediately identifiable quirky, colourful style, & I'm looking forward to seeing more feature film work from him with a couple more slated for release later this year & early next.

What about you guys? Any music videos that are particular favourites of yours? Or maybe directors that I haven't mentioned? Let me know!