Monday, 30 October 2017

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

I feel like I haven't done a baking post for ages, so I thought it was time to put one up. I made these cupcakes for a 'Bon Voyage' party a few weeks ago and they were a hit. For some reason salted caramel reminds me of this time of year, so I think these would be a perfect bake for Bonfire Night if you're looking for an excuse to make them! I baked these cupcakes using this recipe from Jane's Patisserie. Also check out my great choice of Toy Story cupcake cases!

You will need:
175g Softened Unsalted Butter
175g Light Brown Sugar
3 Large Free-Range Eggs, beaten
175g Self Raising Flour
2tbsp Whole Milk
12 tsps Carnation Caramel
A pinch of Sea Salt

For the buttercream and decoration:
150g Softened Salted Butter
350g Icing Sugar
100g Carnation Caramel
Extra Carnation Caramel (for drizzling)

1. Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 4 and line a 12-hole muffin tray with cupcake cases.
2. Cream together the butter and sugar using an electric mixer until smooth, then add in the beaten eggs and flour, and beat again for about 30 seconds. You might need to loosen the mixture with the whole milk.
3. Spoon the cupcake batter into the cases and bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown. Leave the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack.
4. Mix the caramel for the cupcakes with the pinch of salt, and cut a small hole in the cupcakes to fill with caramel.
5. For the buttercream, beat the butter with an electric mixer for a few minutes to loosen it. Gradually add the icing sugar on a slow speed - so it doesn't go all over you - until combined, and then speed up the mixer and beat for 3-4 minutes until fluffy and smooth.
6. Add the caramel into the buttercream and beat for another 5 minutes until whipped.
7. Decorate the cupcakes by piping on the buttercream, and then drizzle them with the extra caramel. Now they're ready to eat!
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Friday, 27 October 2017

Lush Halloween Haul 2017

This is probably going to sound like such a generic Lush lover's comment, but I really cannot pass up an opportunity to pick up Lush's seasonal products. I wish that I could've bought the whole Lush Halloween range - the Ectoplasm jelly bomb looked really good - but I couldn't justify spending so much on bath bombs. I picked up a small selection, mainly focusing on their smells and how they look, so I'm excited to see what they do in the bath!

Bewitched Bubble Bar - £4.25
I picked this mainly for the fact that it's a black cat, you can't get much more 'Halloween' than a black cat, but also because it smells like blackberry. I love the scent of blackberry so I think this bubble bar smells incredible. It turns your bath black and glittery from what I've seen on YouTube, which is perfect for a spooky Halloween bath.

Pink Pumpkin Bubble Bar - £4.25
I decided to buy this bubble bar because it was new for this Halloween and it looked so pretty. It has a floral jasmine scent and from what I've seen on YouTube it produces so many bubbles and sends the bath a beautiful shade of light pink, filled with the chunky glitter that it's covered in. Unfortunately, I've had to give this one away due to me not reading the ingredients online, as it contains a cinnamon stick...whoops!

Monsters' Ball Bath Bomb - £4.50
I first saw this adorable monster bath bomb last year at the Lush Showcase in gigantic form, and never actually got around to buying one. It has a fresh citrusy scent and from what I've seen it sends the bath a gorgeous shade of purple, with pink and blue dotted around the bath. I cannot wait to use this bath bomb!

The scents of the bath bomb and bubble bars I picked up don't necessarily remind me of Halloween or Autumn, but they definitely have the look and all of them smell incredible nevertheless. What's your favourite Lush Halloween product, old or new? 
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Sunday, 22 October 2017

Thrive: Feel Stress Free

Recently I've been under a lot of stress for various reasons, and I find it difficult finding time to actually manage it. I was contacted to see if I'd like to try out the Thrive: Feel Stress Free app and it sounded like something that would really help me out. Over the last few weeks I've been trialling the app to see if it helps me to destress. There are three different pages on the app, and all of them have different features.

The first page on the app includes Message, Progress, Wellbeing and Mood Meter. Message is a feature where you can send a message in a bottle, which is a message of encouragement to another person using the app. I like this feature because I like the idea that I'm making someone somewhere smile and giving them a message of encouragement.

Progress is a graph of your progress over the month or week, it records results of your feelings from each day, your daily activities, your goals and your thought trainer (what you complete when you do your mood meter). Wellbeing is all about treatments you can receive for your conditions such as depression and anxiety, it also encourages you to seek help if you need it.

The Mood Meter has a metre of how good or bad you're feeling on that day, and asks you questions based on how you feel, which is called the thought trainer. The questions differ daily so that you can set your goals to exactly how you're feeling. I find that it's best to complete this everyday to track your progress so that you can see how far you've come.

There is a whole page dedicated to meditation and breathing techniques to help relieve stress. With the breathing techniques you can do between 3-15 minute durations, it says that 3 minutes of deep breathing techniques 3 times a day has been proven to have long-term benefits. Deep Muscle Relaxation is an activity where you tense and relax all of your body, then parts of your body separately. I found this similar to the exercises you do in Pilates towards the end of a class. Self-Suggestion is an activity that makes you think of a certain word or statement and associate it with being calm.

There are a few different types of meditation under the meditation section on the app. The first type is between 5-25 minutes duration of meditation. There is also mindful walk, which is meditating whilst taking a short walk on a route you're familiar with. Mindful Earth encourages you to let go of worrying thoughts, while Mindful Body Scan helps you to focus your attention on what you want to focus it on rather than your stressors. The final type of meditation is Sensory, which is guided meditation and enables you to transfer the skills you've learnt to any soundscape.

The final page on the app includes Zen Garden and Zen Challenge. Zen Garden helps you to create your own virtual zen garden, which is a relaxing distraction if you just need five minutes. Zen Challenge is a mini game that isn't very challenging, so it won't stress you out.

I've found this app to be beneficial for de-stressing and I particularly enjoy using the mood meter to see how my mood progresses each day. I also enjoy Deep Muscle Relaxation because it reminds me of the techniques you use in Pilates, which I really enjoy. It does make you feel relaxed and the fact that most of the activities are rather short or you can pick a short option helps, as most of my stress is because I have too much to do and too little time.

If you're interesting in trialling the app for yourself, you can head here and select I have a coupon, then enter the code FSFOCT300917. You'll then be able to download the app from your app store and log in using the account you just created.
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Sunday, 15 October 2017

NBN Event | Autumn Winter 2017

At the end of last month, I attended the Next Blogger Network event at the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch. I headed down on my own and met up with Molly, Joey and Georgie who were absolutely lovely! The Ace Hotel was an incredible setting for the event, the views were amazing and there were hints of Next all over The 100 Room (including their incredible New York Collection candles!). The event was so relaxed and you were able to explore the different sections to your hearts content.
I was greeted with a glass of prosecco and set about exploring what the event had to offer. WAH nails were at the event doing nails, and it made me feel gutted that I'd got gel nails on so I couldn't have them done! Monica Beatrice was also doing a flat-lay masterclass and it made me feel so inspired to attempt to take some gorgeous photos.

There was plenty of food and drink on offer, with a beautiful Smeg fridge holding the drinks. The food available was an afternoon tea style buffet, with sandwiches, mini sausage rolls, fruit skewers and scones with clotted cream. Before the Q&A kicked off, mojitos were served and I think it was the best mojito I've tasted.
At 5pm, there was a Q&A with The Anna Edit, Lily Pebbles, Niomi Smart and Chloe Digital. It was really informative and made me feel inspired to get home and blog. They shared their personal experiences of blogging and YouTube, how their working day goes and tips on how to improve your blog. I got the chance to speak to Anna and Lily afterwards and I told them how I sometimes feel down about my blog and they told me to keep at it, because the opportunities it can give you are incredible.
We were kindly gifted a goody bag when we left the event, which included some incredible items. The Next Blogger Network notebook and pen will get so much use. I think this will be my new blogging notebook, it feels like it's such a high quality notebook and I love the typographic writing on the front. The Chiltern Collection candle included in the goody bag smells amazing and will be making my living room smell amazing as soon as I've finished photographing it. I'm excited to use the make-up included in the bag as I haven't tried any Next make-up before.

The last two items in the goody bag I was so happy about - I'd been looking at a pair of red earrings just like the ones in the bag and I'm in love with them. I was also in need of a small black bag for when I don't need a huge bag, and this one is perfect for fitting the essentials in.

It was an incredible event and I'm so grateful that I was invited, I can't wait for the next event!
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