Sunday, 27 January 2013

Sparkle and Scandal

There's a few new products I've been using recently that are becoming beauty favourites of mine.

First up, this Body Shop Tea Tree Pore Minimiser is great as a primer for make up.

I was a bit doubtful when buying this, but as The Body Shop had loads of 50% off offers on their site I thought I'd give it a go as my skin has been pretty challenging to say the least recently. It's always been a combination of oily and dry, but is becoming increasingly sensitive as well. This actually does a good job of smoothing and mattifying my skin, and sinks in nicely so my foundation goes on easily afterwards. Plus I love the tea tree in it; the smell is really refreshing.

These hand creams are also from The Body Shop, but were presents from my fiancé. My hands get really dry from both the weather and work so hand cream is a necessity for me. These are non greasy and the special edition Christmas scents of Ginger and Vanilla are gorgeous, I just wish they did them all year!

Urban Decay 24/7 eyeliners have been my favourite make up product since college, when I first bought the set of 5 travel size eyeliners. They're expensive but in my opinion worth the money; the colours are exactly what I prefer for my eyes, the pencils are soft and they seriously last all day without smudging or wearing off.
The ones from my sets are almost running out, so I thought I'd start replacing my favourite shades with the full size versions. I picked these up off eBay, for about half the retail price. Rockstar is a gorgeous deep purple that I adore, while Mainline, a dark-ish blue, is a new one for me that was being sold by the same seller that caught my attention.

Ok, now on to mascara. The one on the left, L'Oreal's false lash mascara, is brilliant - my lashes look long and dark without clumps. There's not as much volume as other mascaras, but I like that about it; it gives a more natural, everyday look.

The L'Oreal mascara is almost on the way out, so I thought I'd try a new one. I used to use Rimmel mascaras and always thought they were pretty decent. I'm not getting on with this Scandal Eyes one that well however. Rimmel state that it's the biggest brush ever or something like that - that just makes it really fiddly to apply without getting it everywhere. It doesn't give as much as volume as I expected either, though it doesn't clump, which is the main thing I always look for. It's not the worst mascara ever, but I think going for the more basic Rimmel mascaras seems to be the best bet with this brand, based on my previous experience with them.

So there's just a quick overview of some of my faves (and not so faves) at the minute. Have you used any of these products, or have any similar ones you're enjoying?

Monday, 21 January 2013

Italian Treats

Being a total foodie and lover of all things Italian due to my Italian Grandma, her and my mum put together an amazing hamper full of delicious treats for my Christmas present. I've been steadily experimenting with them throughout the month and can't wait to get around to trying out the rest. I thought I'd share a selection of some of my favourites with you.

I have yet to try out the olives, but I think they would go perfectly in a big sauce or stew type dish, or cooked with beef and cherry tomatoes in a Nigella-inspired Beef Pizzaiola, after a nibble or two of course. 

The Wild Rocket pesto has been used in a lot of things recently - stirred into veg as a flavourful side dish, drizzled over home-made pizzas, and spread onto baguettes with cheese to serve with pasta. I adore pesto anyway, and the rocket gives it an extra, subtle tang. I have a feeling that the sun-dried tomato paste used in place of normal tomato purée will bring out even more rich flavour in sauces.

The 'Lievito Pane Degli Angeli' (literally translating to Yeast Bread of Angels) is a raising agent that can replace baking powder in recipes, but is made that extra bit better by also including vanilla flavouring, and therefore smelling absolutely amazing! I could quite happily just sit and smell the packet all day... but when I do bake with it, it adds a wonderful lightness to my usual cupcakes. 

The pasta is tiny star shapes that would be perfect in soups. I've been meaning to start making soups for the past couple of years now and still haven't got round to it, so hopefully having these in the cupboard will push me to finally get on with it before Winter is over.

This nougat is by far the best I have ever had. Tom and I couldn't believe just how delicious this is - soft, squidgy nougat with huge crunchy chunks of almond, with strips of rice paper on the top and bottom - amazing!

A friend of my Grandma's brought this to England from where she's from in Italy, making this an extra special treat. 

And for a place to get started, I received the Quick Cook Italian book, which includes 3 ways to cook different dishes using similar ingredients, such as tomato risotto, tomato and rice soup, or tomato and rice salad, offering even more flexibility depending on the exact ingredients and time you have available. Basically, even more recipes! So far I've tried out lemon and rosemary pork with a cannellini bean salad, and chilli and lemon cod; both were straight forward to cook and tasted incredible.

The latest Nigella Lawson cook book is also brilliant. It's actually the first one of hers I've got hold of and I'm already in love with it. Whereas I tend to avoid 'celebrity' cook books, due to the recipes seeming too complicated with fancy ingredients, this book is perfect for everyday meals. The Italian Tray bake with Tuscan fries is already a favourite with my fiancé. 

A huge thank you to my family for getting me these, I couldn't have asked for a more perfect gift! :)

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Afternoon Cuppa at Number 29

Tom and I decided to take a break from uni work this afternoon to check out the recently opened coffee shop in the Barbican, Number 29. I've always thought the only thing the Barbican was in need of was a place to spend an hour or so enjoying a coffee and some cake, and this place fills that gap perfectly.

We ordered mugs of tea and coffee to warm us up - despite the fact that Plymouth seems to be the only place in the UK that hasn't seen snow, I can assure you it's still freezing here!

The drinks came with yummy buttery biscuits on the side, a lovely little extra.

A range of cakes are also on offer, including a coffee cake of which we couldn't resist ordering a huge slice.

Number 29 also sell a variety of deli goodies, including jars of chutney, olives and chilli sauces, as well as bags of chilli hot chocolate which I'm very tempted to go back and try. The owners were happy to point out the different products on sale, and their friendliness combined with the cosiness of the café made the time away from our desks the relaxing break we needed.

Now it's back to work I suppose!
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