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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Sunday, 8 October 2017

147 Things by Jim Chapman

Never have I ever...read a YouTuber's book before. It's not that I haven't wanted to, I just haven't got round to it yet. I have been subscribed to Jim Chapman since about 2013, and always liked watching his videos for the comedy factor and the fact I could relate to some of them. When 147 Things landed in my postbox, I was excited to start reading, mainly because I'd already watched Jim's video on his channel about it a few months ago, and I was really looking forward to it. 

147 Things is a book all about weird and wonderful things, some being scientific facts, some being about Jim's personal life experiences. There is so much information that I never would've known (or bothered to look up myself) without reading this book. Each 'thing' has a bit of a write-up to it, and most of the 'things' are absolutely hilarious if they're not super serious. There are a lot of things in the book that seem to describe how small the odds were for us to exist, yet here we are, and it's incredible to know you had a 1 in *insert massive number here* chance of being alive on this earth right now.

Because of the way Jim has written this book, I find myself reading it in his voice. He has also recorded an audiobook for 147 Things, so you can listen to him reading the book, which would be especially great for listening to his anecdotes.
My personal favourite out of all 147 things is Thing 69 - Penguins are my favourite animal for many reasons; this is not one of them. This is probably because, like Jim, penguins are my favourite animal and any fact about them I will be automatically drawn to. Penguins are fascinating creatures and it's so interesting to learn how they're different from other birds and also other sea creatures. Another favourite of mine is Thing 8 - Having a pet is really weird when you think about it. Purely because it is, isn't it?!

If you love books that have personal anecdotes in or just interesting facts in general, I'd definitely recommend this book. It was an easy read and I got through it very quickly, although it is something you can always look back on whenever you'd like. The book has been out since the 5th October 2017 and is available to purchase on Amazon.

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Thursday, 5 October 2017

What's in my college bag?

You may think this post is a bit late in the year to be a 'back to college' post, but I actually only went back in mid-September and was desperate to put a few posts up before this one. I thought I'd do a classic 'what's in my bag' post, as I love to read them on blogs and also watch them on YouTube, they are perfect for nosey people after all. I don't carry too much with me to college because it's such a long journey, so this is genuinely everything that is in my college bag.

The Stationery
I don't take much stationery to college, I like to do most of my extra note writing and highlighting at home. I take an A4 ring binder which includes plastic wallets, a refill pad to write all of my notes on and all of the UCAS information I need as it is that time of year, eek. I also take my diary with me, to write in my assignments and whether any lessons are cancelled. I take a small pencil case because I only need a few black biros and a highlighter, it fits these in perfectly. All of my stationery is from Paperchase, it's such good quality although it isn't always worth the money.

The Essentials
Water is a very big essential when it comes to my bag, I need it to get through the day and to prevent me from getting headaches. The medication I have in my bag is also essential in case I get a headache anyway. My bus pass and keys are essentials for me to actually return home. On the way home I'll use my headphones to listen to music, although I usually have a book in my bag as well to read on my 2 hour bus journey home - I couldn't pick which one I wanted to photograph. I keep my memory stick in my bag in case I need to save anything to it, which I rarely do. I barely use my purse as it doesn't contain much but I carry it with me just in case!

The Toiletries/Skincare Items
With the use of public transport, a large amount of time outside of the house and also the colder weather setting in, these are my essential 'toiletries' to take to college with me. I have to take anti-bac everywhere - so it's not a shock it's in my college bag. To make my hands and lips soft, and to protect them from the cold weather, I carry my Palmers Cocoa Butter hand cream and lip balm with me. I take a Jack Wills body spray with me, women's perfume doesn't stay on for very long so I like to freshen my smell up during the day. Finally, I take make-up wipes and tissues. You never know when you're going to need a wipe or tissue!

What do you carry in your bag?
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Sunday, 1 October 2017

2017 Films | July - September

Between July and September, some incredible films have come out and I've seen most of the ones I wanted to see. There are a few different genres here, let me know if you've seen any of them and what you thought. My Dunkirk ticket isn't pictured due to the fact I left it in my jeans and it visited the washing machine...oops!

Spider-Man: Homecoming
I'm not exaggerating when I say this is the best Spider-Man film I've ever seen. I'd been excited for it since the announcement as Spider-Man is one of my favourite superheroes and it didn't disappoint me at all. I laughed throughout and that's one of my favourite things in a film, I'd definitely watch this again and can't wait for a sequel.

War for the Planet of the Apes
I'd only recently watched the previous two Planet of the Apes films before going to see this one, and I loved them. I'd say this was the best one out of the three and it kept my attention the whole time. I would recommend watching this trilogy, it kept me on the edge of my seat and had me feeling emotional throughout.

Dunkirk
I have one of the shortest attention spans ever so for a film to keep my attention like this, it must mean it's incredible. I spent half of the film with my hand over my mouth in suspense, it made me feel so many emotions and I think that was mainly because for a large portion of the film I was thinking 'This is real, this really happened'. It's heartbreaking to think about, but this film portrayed perfectly all of the emotions and British morale of the time. Christopher Nolan's directing and Hans Zimmer's composing did not disappoint at all. I would 100% recommend watching this film to anyone.
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