Sunday, 29 September 2013

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Baking Day - Macaroons

Home Made Macaroons

The other day I was devastated to find out that my local bakery had stopped making by beloved Macaroons. I love these little flavoursome jewels. Crunchy on the outside and spongy and sticky on the inside. The flavour possibilities are endless and they are my favourite treat. 
So I went in search of some macaroons. I tried the other local bakery, cafes and even the two supermarkets. One supermarket sold a pack of 12 for around $8, I seriously considered buying. But then I saw this in the packet cake aisle... 

I just had to try them. It took me a few weeks to pluck up the courage because in my mind macaroons were complicated and fiddly to make. Today I faced my fear and took some time out in the day and made them.
This box contained everything I needed: raspberry base, almond mix, a stencil to pipe the mixture onto, two piping bags and chocolate.
First I had to mix the raspberry, water and almond mix together and then pipe them into baking sheets with the stencilled circles on them.

Once baked they needed cooling.  I matched the two sides that fit together the best and prepared the chocolate filling. I melted the chocolate and two tablespoons of thickened cream in the microwave and put that into the second piping bag. Once I had piped chocolate onto the macaroon I sandwiched them together and they looked like this...

image is a bit shadowed but you get the idea

I have to say that now that I have actual made them, macaroons are not so scary to make. Yes, they are fiddly. And they will make a mess if your not practised at using a piping bag ( well I did ). But its fun and so rewarding and a lot cheaper than buying them for $ 3.00 a pop. This mixture made more than 20 macaroons. I am very impressed with this Adriano Zumbo packet mix. They taste amazing and I am looking forward to trying the other flavours he has. I think there is salted caramel and a lemon flavour. Yummo!

Make a comment below if you like the look of these.

Have Fun

Renee x

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Bella Box September 2013

I Have just received my Bella Box for September 2013. Here is a sneak peek. 

This Bella Box 's theme is Spring. I enjoy opening my box and seeing the carefully thought out products they have sent out for me to try. Such little items but always used in the warmer months when socialising is in full swing again!

Bella Box have teamed with Cleo Magazine this month. We all received a free copy of Cleo Magazine.

  • Montagne Jeunesse Mud Pac Kelp and Seaweed- trial size.                                                     I am looking forward to giving this particular mask a try tomorrow. I have used this brand before and really love it but I usually use the masks made for sensitive skin. The sea weed mask is used to deeply cleanse pores and draw out impurities in the skin. This brand of face products also makes masks that peel off once dry. They are good fun! Generally used to soften the skin and they are often gentler than mud masks. These products are vegetarian and animal cruelty free as well, so win win!         Perhaps a good mask to prep the skin before going out on the town?
  • Elegant Touch Envy Wraps                                                                                                                I recently did a review on My Winter Nail Faves and it featured nail wraps, so I'm pleased as punch to receive a new brand that I can try. These wraps are a tie dye effect in a bright almost fluro pink (pink my favourite colour - score!) and a hint of orange. I can see why Bella Box chose these colours, they are the hue of Spring. Very Pretty. They have the same application as my previous nail wraps I have reviewed. Press on the nail sticker and file off the edges and they should last five days. Ill let you know if they do. A great start to brightening up your Spring nails.

  • Garnier Ambre Solaire self tanning spray in light.                                                                      I Don't even have to open up this bottle to know that i am going to love it. I use this spray tanner every spring/Summer season. Its the best i have tried yet. I have tried creams, mouses and shimmer gels but in my opinion nothing beats a good spray. I have to admit I am Not a fake tanning addict. I would probably use up 3/4 of a bottle up over the whole Spring and Summer period, I like my pale English skin. But when it gets to the point where my legs are so pale they look almost blue, that's when I think I may need to give a bit of life into them ( and no I will not sit in the sun for half an hour, be sun smart people!). The Garnier spray Tanner needs a little bit of blending in but it is the perfect golden instead of that mud brown colour that you can sometimes get with other spray tanners. Spring essential.                                                                                   To make your spray tan last longer, exfoliate in the shower then after you have patted your skin dry apply about 40 cm away from the skin for an even finish. Also easy on the knee area, the hard and dry skin on the knee can absorb tan and make it look like you have been crawling in mud.
  • Shick Hydro Silk Razor and Cartridge.                                                                                       These razors with the moisture edges are really lovely. I don't even look at the razors without a moisture strip on them. The schick moisture strip is water activated and is infused with mineral extracts. Receiving a razor in the Bella Box is a bit blah to me.
  • Manicare Glam Eyes false eyelashes in Kelly.                                                                               I am not a false eyelash girl. In fact false eyelashes is something I would never buy for myself, I just don't feel like I have the need to use them. So when I received these lashes my eyebrows went up and I thought to myself  ' I doubt if ill ever use these. They may gather dust in my make up pile. *Shameface
  • Footcare- Gel Ball of Foot Cushions.                                                                                           Yes! I will definitely be using these! I regularly opt to wear flat shoes because I know my feet will be HURTING if I wear a pair of heels at a long party. These are really easy to use, just take them off the protective film and put the sticky side to the shoe. Done! The cushions are really thin so you don't have to worry about your much loved pair of heels feeling  little too snug once they have been applied.
  • Asap Pure Mineral Lip Pencil in Three.                                                                                           I love love receiving makeup items in these boxes. I'll try anything new. I don't own many lip pencils ( well only one) so I was happy to receive this pretty pink mineral pencil. I had to try it on immediately. The application was a little dryer than I'm used to but the lovely colour far out weighs the dryness factor. I have been using this pencil on its own, but it would look great with a gloss over it or a moisturising lip balm under it.
Is there any other product that is a Spring essential?

Have Fun!

Renee x

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Baking Day! Apple, Oat and Choc Muffins.

It's another Friday. A day of glorious baking. I love watching my family enjoy the treats I bring to them. These muffins are a bit of an exception though. No I don't have a 'Forbidden' sign up after I have made them. These go straight into the freezer after they have cooled down (they freeze really well , by the way) and I just take one out during the day to defrost. I have a baby and I am breastfeeding, hence I am eating a lot more than I used to. I made up this muffin recipe so I could nibble on something during those 3 am feeds.
The oats make them really filling and the apple/chocolate combination gives them that much loved sweetness.

Apple, Oat and Choc Muffins

Wet Ingredients:
  • 1 Green Apple finely chopped or grated
  • 1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Essence
Dry Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Self Raising Flour
  • 1 Cup of Rolled Oats
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Tablespoon of Golden Syrup
  • 1/2 Cup of Milk Choc Chips
Method :
  1. Preheat Oven to 200 C
  2. Line a 12 hole muffin tray with cases
  3. Combine wet ingredients together in a bowl.
  4. Sift in flour
  5. Add oats, baking soda and cinnamon and golden syrup. Mix them in well.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips
  7. Divide mixture evenly into the muffin cases
  8. Bake for 15-20 Minutes.
I put my muffins in for 20 Minutes and some were a bit brown for my liking so see if 15 minutes is enough time first. These Muffins are ready if you put skewer in the middle of one and it comes out clean.

I hope you girls love these as much as I do. Are there any other recipes you would like to see?

Renee x

Friday, 20 September 2013

August Lust Have It !

Hello Girls!

Who has heard of this new Beauty Box phenomenon? Not you? Me neither until a couple of weeks ago. I was scouring the Internet to see if there is a company out there who send out free samples of lots of products at once. I didn't find a website who did it for free but I came across a few companies that send out samples for a small cost.
 For instance Lust Have It! is an online shop where members can buy make up and skin care from lots of different brands. But get this, for $19.95 a month you can subscribe to a sample box. Each month Lust Have It! will choose 5-6 deluxe and lifestyle products and send them to your mailing address. What an Awesome idea! At least one product was full sized and it contained a mix of makeup and skin care.
I caved and subscribed to the August 2013 Lust Have It! Box, I received it last week and I've been testing the products.
 I was pleasantly surprised when I opened it up and found decent sized samples and two full sized products.

  • Revlon PhotoReady Skinlights Face Illuminator ( Full size)-They say: Lightweight liquid illuminator works instantly to brighten skin. It boosts natural illuminosity, minimises flaws, enhances skin with a hint of sheer colour and protects skin from harsh environments.
    I Say: This light cream brings a really pretty glow to your skin. I'm really looking forward to trying this  in the spring/summer months to freshen up my look.

  • Revlon Nearly naked Makeup – They Say:  So light it melts right in, working in harmony with your skins unique tone and texture. Vitamin and antioxidant-packed to pump up skins natural glow.
    I Say: I didn't think it 'melted' in as they say. I do think that it blended really well but the product still felt a little sticky on the skin when applied. 

  • KMS California Free Shape Shampoo and Conditioner-They Say: Create unlimited style transformations with hot tools. Styles last until next wash.
    I Say: I only received the sachet of the conditioner. I was a bit nervous about using a commercial conditioner because I always shampoo and condition my hair with Bi-carb and Vinegar. However I did promise to try everything that I received in these boxes for reviewing purposes. I'm not all that impressed with this product my hair isn't ultra shiny or frizz free. It does come in a pretty violet colour but doesn't have any scent.

  • KMS California Add Volume Volumising Spray- Increases volume and provides intense fullness ideal for super fine hair.
    I Say: I have really fine and flat hair. There isn't a lot of volume going on at all up there. The products comes in a pump bottle and is more of a thin gel than a light liquid. I am due to go to an engagement party soon so I am really looking forward to trying this to give my hair a bit of oomph.

  • Sinful Colors Nail Enamel (Full size)- A long wearing, ship resistant, professional formula. Available in 69 colours such as cream, metallic, shimmer, glitter and matte.
     I Say: I am a bit embarrassed to say that I have NEVER worn a red polish before. The staple nail colour has been non-existent in my collection of many nail lacquers until now. I received a vivid red called Ruby Ruby and it compliments my skin tone really well. I am in love with this colour. One coat is sufficient enough to achieve a balanced and even texture. One drawback, the polish only lasted  two days before it started peeling. Next time I'll try two coats.

  • Lush Gorgeous moisturiser- Protective vitamin filled, softening moisturiser formulated with best ingredients have been used for this light, bright cream.       
     I Say: Whenever I receive a new body product I have to smell it. This face moisturiser is nothing less of gorgeous. It has the freshest scent of orange blossom, olive oil, lemon juice, orange juice, pineapple juice. It just smells amazing. The light cream just melts into my skin with no sticky residue. I have found a new love! This is a product that I plan on purchasing full size.

  • La Roche Posay Thermal Spring Water- Soothes sensitive skin irritated by outside factors (sun, dermatological treatments) helps prevent skin ageing it is also a natural anti oxidant.                             
     I Say: I don't really see the point in spraying water on my face. I gave it a shot and sprayed some on my face. It went on nice and cool and then dried, just like normal water. I wasn't really that bothered. Perhaps good to put in my handbag in summer to use as a refreshing spritz?

  • La Roche Posay Lipikar Baume- They Say: Replenishes most severely dry skin in record time. Contains Shea Butter and Niacinamide, an active ingredient to break the vicious cycle of itching. Formulated to treat eczema and extreme dryness.                     
     I Say: Another sample that I am really happy with. I usually slather on a bit of moisturiser everyday and I loved the thickness of the cream. It absorbs really quickly and I have noticed that my skin isn't as dry as it was. Winner!

Have any of you girls subscribed to a beauty box? What do you think of them? Any Product here that you have tried?
Let me know!

Renee x

Monday, 16 September 2013

Baking Day - Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

It's Friday! I always look forward to Friday. My husband is home and I let him mind the baby for a couple of hours while I retreat into my own little world and bake whatever my heart desires. I enjoy nothing more than throwing a few ingredients into a bowl whisking them together and seeing what delightful tastes they bring together. Or scouring my mothers pantry where she has dozens of cookbooks and I can dream what I will create the next week.
So, girlies. I am going to share with you some really easy, quick and (most importantly) delicious recipes that will make even a novice baker feel like a pro once they are out the oven!

Enjoy! x

Bake off!
 Chocolate Oatmeal Bars 

250g butter

½ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 cup plain flour
1 cup quick cooking oats

Topping: 150g Cadbury Cooking Chocolate
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup of chopped walnuts

  • Beat butter and sugars in bowl until creamy
  • Beat in egg yolks
  • Add flour and oats. Mix together well
  • Spread mixture in a thin layer in a buttered and lined 20cm x 26cm slice pan
  • Bake in moderate oven, 180c for 20-25 minutes, Cool.
  • Melt chocolate and butter together, stir and spread over biscuit layer. Sprinkle with nuts
  • Allow to set and cut into squares.

Tip: The recipe says to use chopped walnuts but why not add different kinds of nuts. I used flaked almonds, walnuts and salted pistachios.

I store this slice in an airtight container in the fridge.

Have Fun!

Renee x

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Winter Nail Faves 2013

It's almost Spring and I thought I'd share with you some of my favourite nail finds for the Winter months. 

First lets start with these new nail foils that have recently hit the shelves. OK, I'm a bit of a fan. At first I was a bit sceptical thinking ' They will fall off easily' and ' They probably look cheap'. But I really love these. They come in cute designs for any girls taste weather you like animal print, bright pops of colour, lacey details or ( my personal fave) glittery diamonties. 
The first set I tried was the Fingrs- nail makeup. I actually picked these up from my local Coles supermarket and was very happy with them. They were these cute multicoloured diamonties on a sheer sticker. They were soooo easy to put on. All I had to do was take the sticker off the backing, stick it onto my nail and file the edge off. These lasted me about four days before they started to peel off but I'm not exactly gentle with my nails. 
I was really impressed and received a few compliments as well. I would defenatly use these again. They are soooo pretty and they are a lot more friendly on your coins than going to a nail bar.

So yep, highly recommended. Especially if you want that special budget friendly nail makeover for a high school formal or a weekend holiday or just to treat yourself (which is why I bought them in the first place)
 On the same shopping trip to Coles I also picked up the Fingrs - Edge Fashion Nails. These are really funky and colourful. Ok so these are not in the nail foils category but they are false nails with the designs already printed on them. No need for fussing or painting its already done. Handy, huh? One of my friends raved about them, she used them while she was on holiday so I gave them a go. Whats even more handy about them is that they also come with nail glue and double sided stickys, so you can choose how you want to apply them. I'm mega lazy so I went for the stickers and I only wanted to wear them for a little while. But if you want longevity, I'd say go the glue.
One drawback I find with fake nails is that they usually come in one size. Sure they have short length, average length, oval tips, square tips etc. But only a few companies have made nails with petite hands in mind. And my nails are petite .
 So usually I have to file all around the nail to get it to match my nail bed, and that can take hours if I want it to look half decent. 
 Even though I really loved the look of these nails and the length was nice I would personally look for a petite range for myself. I did put these nails on my faves list because I would highly recommend them if you do not need to use a smaller fake nail. I hope you enjoy trying these nails too!

OK, so this is not an exclusive Winter fave. I pretty much use the Sally Hansen Double Duty Base and Top Coat all year round. As you can see it comes clear and when used as a top coat it leaves a really lovely glossy finish. I prefer a thick brush with my polishes and I find that this product has a really good brush and makes it easy for precise application.
I love love clear polishes. I think they are so low maintenance and they give your nails a natural looking uplift.
 I wear this clear most of the time because I like to have shiny nails.
When I use this with my polishes as a base and top coat I honestly think that the colour last 2-3 days longer. If I don't use this then my polishes peel pretty quickly and then I have to dig out the nail colour, touch them up, wait for them to dry etc etc. Urg, all too hard. So I'm pretty keen on this product, and it doesn't dry your nails out (like some other products.)

So I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is after a base and top coat that lasts. And its in one handy bottle.

 I'm noticing a bit of a pattern here, but another favourite also comes from the Sally Hansen range. Boy, does she know how to make great nail stuff. I'm always on the lookout for a lovely nail colour and I'm pretty partial to pinks and purples. So when I saw this gorgeous dark purple I was sold.
The bottle is cute enough with a diamond cut around the edges and also a little diamonte on the top of the bottle. First impressions count, but 99% of the product has to be good when I buy it and the extra 1% is a bonus if it has cute packaging . I have used Sally Hansen polishes before and none of them have disappointed me.
Firstly there is the great brush that makes it so much easier to apply the paint. And the colour is such a beautiful on-trend purple, when I put this on I also saw that it left a pretty shine behind as well. No wonder why they call it Diamonte. This is definitely not a matte colour. I was also impressed with the longevity of the colour on my nails, it lasted about four days before any peeling at all. That was without the Sally Hansen Base and Top Coat . Next time I think I'll try using the base and top coat with the polish just to see how long it lasts, I'll let you know how it goes.
If you only have a budget for one nail polish this winter, yep, try this one I reckon.

 I was given these Sally Hansen Nail Strips from a friend. I was so excited to try these because I have seen these everywhere but just did not buy any. What I first noticed is the gorgeous design of black lace on a blood red base.
 This particular brand of nail strips come in soooo many designs and colours. you wont be short on choices, and whats better than that?
At first I was a bit disappointed because after fifteen minutes of (incorrectly) trying to apply them, they just would not stick.  So I finally relented and carefully read the simple four step instructions and they finally stuck, (turns out they have an adhesive side but you have to take the backing off first. Who would have thunk?) After they have been applied all that needs to be done is a bit of filing on the nail tip to even everything out.
So all in all, another favourite because they are super easy, super pretty and super gentle on the purse.

Have a great day girls!

Renee x