Saturday, 29 August 2015

Nutella Chocolate Cupcakes

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The other weekend it was my lovely friend Claire's Hen Do in Brighton so of course I wanted to bake some delicious treats for the bride-to-be and the fellow hens to enjoy over the few days when we weren't playing the 10p machines on the pier or dancing the night away. So what do you make for a girl who love Nutella enough to bathe in the stuff...why, Nutella chocolate cupcakes of course.

I googled a few recipes and found some inspiration along the way but decided to modify a few of the recipes to suit the ingredients I had and I was pretty pleased with how they turned out. I posted a few snaps on my instagram (@pinkpixiedoll) and got you all salivating over these chocolate-y creations and left you asking me to share the recipe so here you go! If you've got the bug for baking since the return of Great British Bake Off (I know I have) then maybe you could whip some up this Bank Holiday Weekend?

For the chocolate cupcakes (makes around 12)
6oz soft butter
6 oz caster sugar
3 free range eggs
8oz self raising flour
3 tbsp of cocoa powder
1 tbsp of Nutella

Whizz up the butter and sugar together until the mixture is soft and combined. Add the eggs and half the flour and whizz. Add in the rest of the flour, cocoa powder and Nutella and mix until the mixture is smooth. If it feels too stiff then add a splash of milk.

Spoon until cupcake cases and bake in the oven at 180 degrees celsius for 20-25 minutes but keep an eye on them. Once you think they're done then bring them out and spear one of the cakes with a sharp knife to check the mixture is cooked all the way through. Leave to cool on a cooling rack.

For the Nutella buttercream
8oz of soft butter
8oz of icing sugar
2 tbsp of cocoa powder
The rest of a 200g jar of Nutella

Make sure your butter is super soft and then gently whizz in the icing sugar bit by bit until it is all combined. Then add the cocoa and Nutella and continue to mix until the buttercream feels soft and 'pipe-able'. Again, add a splash of milk if necessary.

Once the cupcakes are completely cooled you are ready to pipe. I used a star-shaped nozzle to create my swirls on top - if you are unsure on the best technique to create nice neat frosting on your cupcakes then YouTube has a tonne of 'how-to' videos.

Finish with half a strawberry and keep cool until you are ready to indulge! :) Do let me know and tag me in a photo if you do give these cakes a whirl this weekend!
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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

My 17 Week Bump Update

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"Your baby is the size of a navel orange. Its taste buds can now make out different flavours and its little heart is busy pumping 25 quarts of blood a day. Your baby is big enough to fit into the palm of your hand and its brain is communicating constantly with the nervous system and muscles."

How far along: 17 weeks exactly today.

Days until due date: 161 days

My bump: Looking at my bump from week 15 to week 17 I can see a slight difference in the size of my bump and the way the roundness is now sitting higher up. To me I feel huge but I still don't think anyone who didn't know my news would immediately know I was pregnant??

Weight changes: Pre-pregnancy = 8stone 3lbs. Today = 8stone 8lbs (+5lbs)

Measurements: Pre-pregnancy = 32, 26, 34. Today 33, 27, 35.

Stretch marks? None to report so far. Still slathering on the Palmers Skin Therapy Oil which I love.

Cravings: No crazy cravings really - I am such a boring pregnant person! My diet really hasn't changed at all since being pregnant but I did have a hankering for a spicy Indian the other day with a side of peshwari naan bread so Rob and I went to a lovely local restaurant to celebrate his birthday and my jalfrezi went down a treat!

Sleep: Sleeping like a baby especially since my Dreamgenii pillow arrived. I would really recommend this for any pregnant ladies and it doubles up as a lovely feeding support pillow once baby has arrived.

Symptoms: No new symptoms to report this week apart from my skin has taken a bit of a turn for the worse and I am suffering from a few breakouts along my jawline and on my chest area which is really frustrating. Hopefully it will subside soon.

Best moment this week: Definitely hearing our baby's thundering heartbeat at my 16 week midwife appointment. I had no idea that they would offer me the chance to hear the heart beating so strongly so it was a real treat and such a reassuring sound! The midwife even let me record it so I could send a clip to Rob. I think he may have welled up a little at work...

Worst moment this week: Rubbish skin is getting me down a bit but other than that - things are still just ticking over nicely.

Miss anything? Nothing this week.

Maternity clothes: No maternity clothes purchases as of yet. I am trying to see out the last of Summer with the few remaining loose tees and trousers I have and then I can embrace the Autumn/Winter season with some fetching high-waisted jeans and oversized jumpers!

Movement: None yet but it won't be long! :)

Gender: Unknown and we aren't going to find out either. I think there are so few genuine surprises left in life I couldn't think of anything better than letting this baby be one of them. I plan for Rob to be the one who reveals to me what we've had (if he can see through the tears!) - a little girl or a little boy.

Belly button in/out: In

Wedding Rings on/off: On

Mood: Boundless energy. I am so fortunate that I feel so energetic and have managed to maintain my exercise regime pretty much every day since falling pregnant. At times I feel invincible! I thought being heavier and having a little bump in the way would really hamper my running and movement at boot camp and in my workout classes but I have never felt fitter!

Looking forward to: Those flutters and kicks from my baby. Any time from around 15-20 weeks women can start feeling their baby moving, stretching and wiggling inside them so I am literally on kick-watch every day now. It must be such an incredible and comforting (if a little weird) feeling to experience and I cannot wait!

I am hoping to expand more on my exercise routine since finding out I'm pregnant, how I am staying fit and what has changed so far over these past four months. Any questions you want me to answer in my next pregnancy post then please do just leave them below in the comments. x
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Sunday, 23 August 2015

Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion

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Moisturising my body is one of those beauty routines that I just cannot skip! Hair can stay unwashed until tomorrow and I definitely don't always use toner and under-eye cream as much as I should- but when it come to moisturising my skin, I find myself doing this every evening without fail. Since becoming pregnant as well, this need to moisturise has only heightened as I find myself smothering myself in the good stuff in an attempt to avoid the slightest suggestion of a stretch mark. I am quite fussy though when it comes to my chosen cream or lotion but most recently I have been using, and loving, the Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion which comes with a handy pump-style dispenser and presented in simple, clean packaging.

The Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion (£5.10 for 200ml) contains colloidal oatmeal which seems to be quite the super ingredient in skincare at the moment. It soothes, hydrates, cleanses, protects and buffs the skin for an indulgent experience that won't leave you smelling of porridge...honest! The oats helps restore and protect the skin's natural barrier whilst soothing sensitive skin and restoring your natural pH levels. I love the fact it is fragrance-free too (my sense of smell has become very sensitive recently and I have definitely been put off some stronger scents) and is fast-absorbing and non-greasy so leaves your skin feeling nourished and not sticky! It is a great option to go for if you are after a natural lotion that will quickly sink in and soothe away any dry or rough skin whilst being wonderfully purse-friendly as well.

As well as giving their moisturising lotion a whirl, the team at Aveeno have invited me to take part in their #AveenoSkincareSecrets blogger challenge by sharing with you my top skincare secret and then tagging another beauty blogger who might like to get involved. I tag Laura. You can also all get involved on your blogs or twitter by sharing your skincare secrets with the community - just remember to use the hashtag #AveenoSkincareSecrets. For my skincare secret I want to take it back to basics - you can slap on all the products in the world but I believe good skin begins from within. Make sure you are drinking plenty (and plenty) of water, get some leafy greens into your diet every day and head to bed half an hour early to really make the most of your beauty sleep!

More information, skincare secrets and beauty tips can be found on the Aveeno website and Facebook page. Can't wait to read (and make a mental note) of all your skincare secrets so start sharing!
*sponsored post
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Friday, 14 August 2015

Benefit They're Real! Mascara now in Blue and Brown

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Let's face it, a slick and a flick of coloured eye liner (see my latest favourites here and here) just wouldn't be complete without lashings of mascara. Whereas your average black option would be a safe call, why not mix your eye-look up and combine that purple liner with a coating of brown mascara or wow your friends with dazzling colbalt blue lashes to frame a emerald green flick? I love the whole coloured liner and mascara trend going on at the moment and Benefit Cosmetics have just given us reason to reinvent that 70s feel which two new additions to their best-selling mascara.

The ever-popular They're Real! mascara from Benefit (£19.50) has been given a colourful makeover and now there are two new shades to delight your eyes - They're Real! in 'Beyond Blue' and 'Beyond Brown'. If you were a fan of the original mascara from Benefit but fancy injecting a little colour into your makeup then these would be a fab choice. If you haven't tried this mascara before then you are in for a treat. I really liked the original version and found that it lived up to all its promises; it lengthened, curled, added volume, lifted and seperated my lashes without any smudging or drying out. And if you are a little fearful of going all-blue then you could subtly coat the ends of your lashes after you've applied your regular mascara or just opt for the bottom lashings for fun finish!

What do you think? Do you dare to go bright and blue?
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Wednesday, 12 August 2015

YSL Saharienne La Laque Couture Nail Polishes

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Nail polishes from the YSL Saharienne Collection* £19 | available from YSL Beauty online

The Saharienne Summer collection from Yves Saint Laurent Beaute is a gorgeous launch inspired by the rich golden shades and unique, bright colours of Marrakesh. Tanned skin meets warm, peach hues on the cheeks and lips with pops of striking colour for the eyes and nails. The Saharienne collection sees the release of two hot new YSL La Laque Couture nail polishes - Jaune Babouche and Brun Henne which gives us a fresh twist of those typical pastel shades we see from most Summer beauty launches.

Jaune Babouche is a fabulously-bright, egg yolk yellow whilst Brun Henne is a hot and spicy, burnt terracotta shade. It is really refreshing to see something a little different for our nails this season and the La Laque Couture polishes are just beautiful to apply and wear. The consistency is rich and creamy and will give you a flawless, opaque finish after just two coats. They have a high-shine, gel-like finish and will remain chip-free for a good 4-5 days. I particularly love Brun Henne and think I will still be flaunting this shade as we creep into Autumn time!

Which nail varnish do you like the look of? 
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Sunday, 9 August 2015

My 15 Week Bump Update

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"Your baby is the size of a pear. Taste buds are forming, the kidneys are working and they can move all their joints and limbs. It the next few weeks you will start to feel those tell-tell flutters in your stomach of your baby moving around."

How far along: Technically 14weeks +5 days

Days until due date: 177 days

My bump: I've definitely noticed a change in my belly over the past few weeks. Before then my stomach was completely flat and I had abs. Sob! Everything is beginning to get a little bit softer and rounder and clothes are definitely feeling tighter now. Previously I noticed my belly feeling bigger from my belly button downwards but now I can feel that my belly is starting to fill out from under my bra line down to my belly button as well.

Weight changes: Pre-pregnancy = 8stone 3lbs. Today = 8stone 5lbs (+2lbs) It is so odd feeling so much bigger but still weighing pretty much the same!

Measurements: Pre-pregnancy = 32, 26, 34. Today 32, 27, 35. Things are definitely 'widening' to accommodate the little one.

Stretch marks? None to report so far. Have been slathering on the Palmers Skin Therapy Oil which I love.

Cravings: I haven't really experienced any cravings or food aversions since being pregnant. My appetite has definitely decreased though and I can't eat massive portions any more. Little snacks are my friend! That said, I did have a hankering for Millie's Cookies earlier so Rob treated me to a few of my favourites...mmm, raspberry and white chocolate!

Sleep: My sleep has been fine and unaffected so far apart from occasionally being woken up around 5am to make a mad dash to the toilet! Naturally I tend to sleep on my side which is now best for me and the baby since entering the second trimester but sometimes I do end up on my back which after a while makes my lower back ache like crazy.

Symptoms: Nails are so so strong and long and growing like crazy. I now have boobs that actually 'jiggle' when I run and I hate it! I always feel thirsty and manage to get through 4-5 litres of water a day. Breathless is a bugger and I feel like I have run a marathon after climbing three flights of stairs!

Best moment this week: Wedding dress shopping with one of my best friends on Saturday and she said "Yes to the dress"!! She looked gorgeous and I am so excited for her wedding day next September.

Worst moment this week: Suffering from excruciating pain around my rib cage. It lasted about a day and I'm really not sure what caused it - maybe it was just down to everything moving around and expanding inside me, but man it hurt!

Miss anything? Tea. Lots of tea. Tea by the bucket-load! I have severely cut down on my caffeine intake which is hard when you work in an office when there is a tea round on offer every half an hour! I have gone from 6-7 cups of tea a day to just a mere two decaf earl greys which I savour and enjoy like you wouldn't believe!

Maternity clothes: I don't think I will need actual maternity clothes for a while but I have had to buy some new items in the next size up to accommodate my changing body frame. My tops are fine but trousers and skirts are beginning to feel tight around my hips and waist which become really uncomfortable after an 8 hour day in the office. I feel like I have to constantly breathe in so I have treated myself to some slightly looser fitting bits that should tie me over for a month or so until I properly start to show and don't just look like I have eaten one too many cookies! Mmm, cookies...

Movement: None yet but it won't be long! :)

Gender: Unknown and we aren't going to find out either. I think there are so few genuine surprises left in life I couldn't think of anything better than letting this baby be one of them. I plan for Rob to be the one who reveals to me what we've had (if he can see through the tears!) - a little girl or a little boy.

Belly button in/out: In

Wedding Rings on/off: On

Mood: Happy and positive. I am thankful every day that I am feeling well, healthy and still so energetic during this pregnancy. I just wish I could live in sports bras and yoga pants all day!

Looking forward to: Booking a holiday. Rob and I are planning on going to Santorini at the start of September for a week of sun, sea, relaxation and feta cheese as our 'final' little holiday together, just the two of us.

I hope you enjoyed my first bump update and all being well I plan to keep them up every 1-2 weeks so we can all marvel at the ever-changing belly! Any questions you want me to answer in my next pregnancy post then please do just leave them below in the comments. x
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Friday, 7 August 2015

Benefit They're Real! Push-Up Liners in Colour!

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Remember last Summer when Benefit Cosmetics released their innovative and brand new They're Real! Push-Up Liner? If not you can read all the details here and see just how blonde my hair was too! It was a fresh product to the market and a unique concept that really made the tricky task of perfecting that perfect eyeliner flick a little bit easier with the lash-hugging gel liner applicator and twist-up pen design! With a few twists the slanted rubber nib dispenses the matte, gel, waterproof formula which glides onto your skin without any tugging or pulling. The novel concept wasn't everyone's cup of tea - I don't think you get the same intensity as you would with a liquid liner or the precision you would with a gel pot and brush but I quite liked the simplicity of it all and the fact it didn't budge or smudge one bit was a real winner!

Following the obvious success of this launch last year, Benefit Cosmetics has now jumped on the crazy, coloured liner tread going on at the minute and have added four fabulous new shades to the range to rank alongside the popular black option. They're Real! Push-Up Liners* (£18.50) are now available in blue, green, purple and brown - a colour to suit everyone and really make your eyes pop! There is brown and green for a more subtle variation to black and purple and blue for the adventurous gals out there! That said, all these colours are fairly muted and tame in comparision to some of the cobalt blue and vibrant green liners that are doing the rounds at the moment. These four, jewel-toned options would definitely suit someone looking to move away from the traditional jet-black liner but aren't quite ready to crack out the bright liners just yet. Little steps first!

Beyond Blue is definitely more of a navy blue than an electric blue so is a safer option if you fancy giving the blue-hue eye trend a go. Beyond Purple is a beautiful, rich aubergine shade and warms up your everyday eye look perfectly. Beyond Brown is probably my favourite when after a subtle alternative to my everyday black liner. Finally Beyond Green is a true mossy-green which would look amazing against hazel or brown eyes. Which colour would you pick up?
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