Sunday, 26 April 2015

Pancakes at The Breakfast Club

If I had the choice to dine out for breakfast, lunch or dinner every day for a year I would, without a doubt, pick breakfast! Labelled as the most important meal of the day breakfast really has got it all...fancy fruit, bircher muesli, eggs any way you fancy, pancakes, waffles, French toast, muffins, all washed down with a freshly-brewed pot of Earl Grey tea - it is a satiable feast whether you are craving savoury or sweet. So whenever I am in London and have a hankering for fluffy pancakes or a hearty bowl of porridge topped with a healthy handful of nuts and berries then there is only one place to head - The Breakfast Club.

Quirky, fun and full of character with a menu packed full of lip-licking options, The Breakfast Club is one of my favourite places to go with a group of friends to cure those early morning hunger pangs over some banana French toast or a breakfast burrito. Whenever I am out for breakfast my eyes will instantly dart to the pancakes on offer so needless to say that the pancakes with berries is my favourite dish to order once seated at The Breakfast Club. The serving is ridiculously huge, so much so that I can barely ever manage one and a half pancakes (and I skip the buttery-cream topping), but boy oh boy are they good! Some of the fluffiest, finest pancakes I have ever had the pleasure of sampling and enough to rival some of the epic breakfasts we feasted on in New York.

With many locations dotted around the capital from Soho and Camden to Angel and Hoxton Square, it is the perfect place to "do brunch" on a lazy weekend morning. All you need is a few friends and a hearty appetite and I promise you will leave very happy. But if breakfast isn't really your thing then pop along to the Spitalfields restaurant at sunset, open wide the innocent-looking Smeg fridge door and head downstairs to the secret basement bar for a speakeasy experience over a cocktail or two!
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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Benefit Do The Hoola Kit

Benefit Cosmetics 5 Piece Do The Hoola Kit* | available from QVC

If you are a fan of Benefit Cosmetics Hoola bronzer (did you know you can personalise it now?) and love a good makeup kit, which are always ideal for traveling and popping in your bag for quick touch-ups, then I think you will be shaking your grass skirts and coconuts all over this brand new makeup kit - Do The Hoola. Exclusively available from QVC at the moment for an introductory offer of £23.16 it is the ultimate package to give you that bronzed glow and to help you fake a gorgeous tan all year round!

Containing five Summer time favourites from Benefit in luxe-miniature form, it comes encased in a fun, chunky flip lid box complete with a handy tips and tricks booklet to help you achieve the best from all the products. Amongst the four recognisable Benefit bits you may have spotted a shiny new product from this brand - Dew The Hoola which is a new and exclusive liquid bronzer that isn't available on its own until 2016. Ooooh! It is a soft-focus liquid version of Hoola with no shimmer or sparkle which blends beautifully onto the skin and gives your complexion a warm, natural glow and dewiness.

Along with Dew The Hoola the rest of the kit is comprised of: a mini Hoola (bronzing powder with brush), a mini Benebalm (tinted lip balm), Ultra Plush Lipgloss in Hoola (shimmery, golden nude gloss), a mini They're Real! Mascara. The Do The Hoola makeup kit offers you a super selection of pocket-sized beauty picks for eyes, lips and cheeks and gives you a great chance to try a new product as well as some of Benefit's must-haves without committing to a full sized version. Will you be doing the Hoola this Summer?
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Sunday, 19 April 2015

Selfridges Agender Beauty Box

The Selfridges Agender Beauty Box* (£30) | Available exclusively online

Last month Selfridges unveiled their "agender" fashion campaign which celebrates the trend of genderless clothing and gives us a flavour of fashion without definition. Blurring the lines between menswear and womenswear, Selfridges even axed their separate departments within their flagship store and encouraged consumers to buy clothes without restriction. No he, no she, just me!

In conjunction with this bold statement by Selfridges which challenge gender boundaries, they have released a limited edition beauty box that contains nine luxury beauty essentials with a combined value of £108. Generally speaking I am a little bit tired of beauty boxes and being left with an overflowing collection of tiny vials and sachets that I am never, realistically, going to use. However present me with a box filled with must-have, high end items tied up with that signature Selfridges-yellow ribbon and I am very interested. Beauty boxes tend to give the customer an air of mystery and excitement as they lift that lid but this limited edition box sells itself by letting us all know what we might find inside. The agender beauty box collection includes:

NARS Mini Eye Liner | Illamasqua Black Mascara | Verso Mini Face Cream | Lancaster Tan Maximiser | Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser | OPI Tickle My Francy polish | Konjac Sponge | Dermologica Body Wash | OCC Lip Tar Hollywood.

With such a fabulous collection of beauty products even if you only have your eye on two or three things, it is a fabulous price to pick up a few of your high-end favourites and try out a few new brands whilst you're at it. Exclusively available online, have you got yours?
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Saturday, 18 April 2015

Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation + Concealer

Clinique 2 in 1 Foundation & Concealer (£25) | available from Boots 

As the weather gets warmer our makeup tends to get lighter as we reach for the BB creams, tinted moisturisers, cream blushers and sheer glosses. There is nothing worse than a heavy base on a sunny day and around this sort of time the beauty market is often saturated with the release of those light, barely-there bases. So you may consider it a brave move for Clinique to take this moment to launch a new foundation that promises full coverage, perfected complexion with the ability to cover and conceal all in one. Wishing for a flawless face? Then just wave this magic wand.

The Beyond Perfecting Foundation and Concealer from Clinique is a liquid consistency that comes with an unique doe foot applicator that can be used in a variety of different ways by altering the angle. Use the end to dot the foundation all over your face, turn it sideways to spread across the cheeks or just use the tip to cover tiny imperfections - three easy ways to get the level of coverage you want. Even though this is a full coverage foundation it does feel incredibly light and breathable on the skin which is down to the formula that adapts to the skin's needs. It hydrates and absorbs excess oil, zapping away any shiny areas and glides on  and blends out easily with a buffing brush. I did find it does dry quite quickly though once swiped onto your skin so it is best to work in small areas, gently buffing in as you go. This foundation has a lovely natural-matte satin-like finish and lasts on the skin all day without budging, creasing or needing any powdering on top.

Yes this is a heavy duty foundation but used in the right way, either just as a concealer to cover imperfections, lightly dotted on your skin to even up your complexion or maybe in conjunction with a tinted moisturiser to give you that little extra coverage, it is a great product to have in your collection. I have been using it mainly as a concealer and it could possibly even rival my beloved NARS Radiant Creamy it must be pretty good!
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Smarties Chocolate Cake

Whenever it was mine or my brothers' birthdays, when we were little, my Mum would always bake us a celebratory Smarties cake. It is one of those fond memories I have from my childhood and I always remember thinking how absolutely spectacular it looked as my Mum brought it out, topped with candles as everyone around us sang Happy Birthday. All those colourful button-like chocolates lined up neatly, the cocoa-rich buttercream oozing out the sides - it is an impressive sight when you are only six, seven, eight years old.

Last weekend we had a belated Easter-family gathering and knowing there would be a heavily-ladened buffet on offer with lots of savoury goods laid out I wanted to bring something sweet along for dessert, something for the children to coo over and for the adults to secretly indulge in with their cups of tea up whilst the children were busy hunting eggs! I have baked for years (having learnt everything I know from helping my Mum in the kitchen when I was a little girl) so I kind of just made this cake up as I went along! Therefore I was over the moon it turned out so well and was met with a lip-licking reception at the family party. So if you have a birthday, special occasion or party on the horizon or simply have a hankering for an indulgent chocolate-y treat then see below my recipe and step-by-step guide to recreating this colourful cake.

For each sponge layer (I chose to do three but you can do more or less - just double/triple the recipe accordingly)
4 oz soft butter
4oz caster sugar
2 free range eggs
4oz self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
(I made the middle layer of my cake as a chocolate sponge - for this repeat the recipe but add a heaped tbsp of good quality cocoa and a splash of milk if necessary.)

For the buttercream
8oz soft butter
16oz icing sugar
Heaped tbsp of cocoa
1 tsp of vanilla extract
Milk to loosen as necessary

To bake the cakes:
1. Start by putting your oven on 180C and grease/line your sandwich tins.
2. Beat the butter and sugar together well until it makes a soft mixture.
3. Add the eggs and half the flour. Mix again together until all combined and then add the rest of the flour and baking powder (and cocoa if necessary). Keep mixing together until you have a smooth, soft batter.
4. Spoon the mixture into the sandwich tins and smooth out with a spatula.
5. Pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Check on the cakes after 20 minutes - spear the middle with a sharp knife. If it comes out clean and the sponge springs back when pressed, the cakes are done!
6. Turn out on a cooling rack and wait until completely cooled before sandwiching with the buttercream.

And for the buttercream: 
1. Make sure the butter is nice and soft before adding a third of the icing sugar to it. Slowly mix the sugar and butter together until it is all combined and then repeat with the next two thirds of the icing sugar until you have a smooth, rich paste.
2. Add the cocoa and a teaspoon of vanilla extract and continue to combine. If the buttercream feels too stiff then add some milk to loosen it up. A splash of hot water will also help give it that glossy finish.
3. Layer all over your sponges, start building your cake and go crazy with the Smarties. (FYI - I needed 8 tubes to decorate this entire cake!)

And there we have it. A rather simple but show-stopping sweet treat, perfect for any party! If you decide to bake my Smarties cake then please do send me a picture on my twitter or instagram (@pinkpixiedoll) - I would love to see your creations. :)
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Friday, 17 April 2015

Chloe My Little Chloes Mini Fragrances

Chloe My Little Chloes Miniature Scents* | available from John Lewis

Why does everything seem just so much sweeter, more appealing in miniature form?! Remember when I cooed over Tom Ford's pocket-sized lipstick launch and gushed about how tempting those mini lippies were, completely perfect to pop in your clutch on a night out. Well my love for all things tiny (yet perfectly formed) continues with the release of these gorgeous, limited edition Chloe scents - all 20ml and housed in the most alluring glass faceted bottles topped with a ribbon that complements the pastel perfume inside.

Each of these super-cute scents is based on the original Chloe Eau de Parfum scent which is something I loved to spritz when I was a teen and brings back many happy memories. Each fragrance embodies and expresses a different facet of the rose, the iconic flower that is captured within the signature Chloe scent. Chloe My Little Eau de Parfum (£35) is the only perfume from the trio and is a beautiful combination of rose, lychee and honey for a sensual and radiant scent. Chloe My Little L'eau De Chloe (£30) is buoyant and light and the perfect option for a Spring spritz - it is bright and sparkling with crisp citrus notes. Finally Chloe My Little Roses de Chloe (£30) is fresh and tender and possibly my favourite out of the three. The tender rose notes are mixed with bergamot and magnolia accords for a silky, beautiful scent on the skin.

If you have always wanted to treat yourself to an iconic Chloe scent but couldn't quite justify the price tag then these miniature fragrances are such a super way to inject the sophisticated scents into your life and to try a few different perfumes without commiting to one big bottle. Why have one big one when you can three little ones hey?! Not only do they look adorable on your dressing table but they are pretty practical too. So easy to slip into your clutch or tote to freshen up during the day, pack away in your hand luggage for that weekend trip abroad (20ml means no trouble at airport security!) or pop in your bag for that festival this Summer to keep you smelling sweet as you dance the night away under the stars.
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Monday, 13 April 2015

YSL Rock Lace Touche Éclat & Couture Palette

Following a weekend where we got a taste of Summer and a glimmer of sunshine high in the sky, what better time to inject a little golden sunshine into your makeup collection with the release of Yves Saint Laurent Beauté's new limited edition collection. Rock Lace is completely gorgeous and had me swooning the moment I spied that stunning packing - delicate lace tulle studded with black polka dots, a rock interpretation of the fishnet lace. The collection pays homage to radiant femininity, half dressed, half naked giving us the perfect balance of allure and elegance, soft yet equally seductive.

Firstly there is the iconic Touche Éclat highlighter pen* (£25) which I am sure you are all very well acquainted with as an absolute beauty icon, continually being reinvented and repackaged. The limited edition Rock Lace edition is available in three shades; No.1 Rose Lumiere, No.2 Ivoire Lumiere and No.3 Peche Lumiere and gives the skin an awakening radiance with a few simple clicks of the pen. It is one of those products that sits prettily in between a highlighter and a concealer - it doesn't cover or conceal but adds an inner glow and illumination to the skin. It magics away dark areas and is my secret weapon when I want to fake 8 hours of beauty sleep!

The Rock Lace Couture Palette Collector* (£42.50) is pretty special and contains five couture eyeshadows that work in perfect pink-peachy-bronze harmony together. This rosy palette is the ultimate accessory for the eyes this Summer and can be used easily for a soft, semi-nude look or revved up for a smouldering, seductive effect. It is such an elegant palette and a real joy to use. The shadows are super fine, soft and easy to blend and apply and you have everything at your fingertips to highlight and define your eyes. I have a feeling this will be my go to eyeshadow palette over the Summer months, partly because of the stunning shimmery shades and partly because it makes a beautiful addition to whip out of your makeup bag!

What do you think of this lacy new collection from YSL?
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