Thursday, April 25, 2013

Find Your Perfect Foundation - Let's Touch Base

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If there's one beauty product that can transform your looks. it's foundation. No other make-up will look good on your face unless you get the base right.

Not only can the best formulas disguise every flaw, they also work in harmony with our skin, evening out our skin tone and reflecting light to make us look younger and brighter.

Here in Part 1 of "Let's Touch Base" I share some expert tips on applying and choosing the right foundation.

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  • LIQUID Suitable for all skin types.
  • CREAM Good for medium to full coverage.
  • MOUSSE Light in texture.
  • POWDER Can be used dry for a lighter feel, or wet for extra coverage.
  • STICK Like a concealer stick, but softer texture. Quick and easy to use.
  • MINERAL POWDER Loose powder applied with a big brush. Great for speedy application.
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  • LIGHT-DUFFUSING Contains pigments that reflect light. Great for older skins as it gives a youthful glow
  • OIL-FREE A water-based product with little or no moisturising elements. Perfect for oily skin.
  • MATTE Flat and powdery texture that combats shine. Good for oily skin.
  • SEMI-MATTE A good all-rounder. Softer coverage that hides imperfections.
  • PORE-MINIMISING A liquid format that controls oil production. Best for oily skin.
  • TINTED MOISTURISER This gives a hint of colour and evens out skin tone.
  • ALL-IN-ONE Sometimes called wet-to-dry or cream-to-powder, this is a foundation and powder in one that goes on wet and dries like a powder. A brilliant time-saving product, and mess free.
  • TWO-IN-ONE Comes in a compact. Use dry as a finishing powder, or wet the sponge for fuller coverage.
  • DEWYThis has a moist finish but wont mask imperfections. Great for younger, blemish free skin.  
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You know your own skin type better than anyone. If your skin is dry, look for a foundation with added moisturiser and avoid powder formats. For oily skin, pick out ones that are mattifying.

If you need help opt for a department store with lots of cosmetics brands as the assistants will be happy to guide you.

Once you have determined the format for you, think about the level of coverage required. A light foundation or tinted moisturiser works best on young skin, or skin with few blemishes. Medium cover is a great all-rounder, and full cover is best for women with a skin problem such as rosacea or scarring that needs camouflaging.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Low Fat Chicken Korma

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My friends at Light Films Ltd have been dieting since the beginning of the year. They have lost almost 4 stone between them, by following the Hairy Dieters Book they received as a Christmas present. I have followed many diets in the past and all of them work for me, it's just having the ability to stick at it. Then I slip back into old habits, and the weight slowly creeps back on.

"Rich, creamy chicken korma is usually forbidden territory if you're watching your weight, but we'd hate you to miss out so we've come up with our healthy chicken curry recipe. Add extra chilli if you like."

4 fairly small boneless chicken breasts )about 600g/1lb 5oz)
freshly ground black pepper
25g/1oz low-fat natural yoghurt
1tbsp sunflower oil
2 large onions, chopped (400g/14oz prepared weight)
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
20g/3/4oz piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated
12 cardamom pods, seeds crushed
1tbsp ground cumin
1tbsp ground coriander
1/2 heaped tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp hot chilli powder
1 bay leaf
4 whole cloves
1 tbsp plain flour
small pinch of saffron
2tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt, plus extra to season
3 tbsp double cream
fresh coriander, roughly torn, to garnish (optional)

Over 2 hours preparation time

30 minutes to 1 hour cooking time

Serves 4

294 calories per potion (without rice)

Cut each chicken breast into eight or nine bite size pieces, season with black pepper and put them in a non-metallic bowl. stir in yoghurt, cover with cling film and chill for a minimum of 30 minutes but ideally for 2-6 hours.

Heat the oil in a large, non stick saucepan and add the onions, garlic and ginger. Cover and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes until very soft and lightly coloured. Stir the onions occasionally to prevent sticking.

Once the onions  are softened, stir in the crushed cardamom seeds, cumin, coriander, turmeric, chilli powder and bay leaf. Pinch off the ends of the cloves into the pan and throw away the stalks. Cook the spices with the onions for five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the flour, saffron, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, then slowly pour 300ml/1/2 pintcold water into the pan, stirring constantly.

Bring to a gentle simmer, then cover and cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the pan from the heat, take out the bay leaf and blend the onion mixture with a stick blender until it is as smooth as possible. You can do this in a food processor if you prefer, but let the mixture cool slightly first.

The sauce can now be used right away or cooled, covered and chilled until 10 minutes before serving.

Place a non-stick frying pan on the heat, add the sauce and bring it to a simmer.

Add the chicken pieces and cream and cook for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through, stirring regularly. Exactly how long the chicken takes will depend on the size of your pieces, so check a piece after eight minutes – there should be no pink remaining.

Adjust the seasoning to taste, spoon into a warmed serving dish and serve garnished with fresh coriander if you like.

If you would like to learn more about Light Films and follow them on their visit to Cannes Film Festival, join them here 


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Coffee and Walnut Cake

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Makes two 20cm (8inch) cakes, which can be sandwiched together to make one layer cake.
175g unsalted butter, at room temperature
175g golden caster sugar
3 large eggs, free-range or organic
175g self raising flour, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee mixed with 2 tablespoons of boiling water

For the syrup
1 tablespoon instant coffee
50g demerara sugar
55ml boiling water

To decorate
1 1/2 batches of Coffee Buttercream Icing 
10-12 walnut halves

For a most delicious coffee cake, inspired by one of Delia Smith's recipes. Combined with coffee buttercream, it is a coffee-cake connoisseur's delight.

Preheat the oven to 170°C (fan)/190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. Grease and baseline two 20cm cake tins.

In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth, which should take 3-5 minutes using an electric mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for a few minutes after each addition. Add the flour and baking powder and beat well.

Grind the walnuts in a food processor for about 30 seconds or so - they should not be too fine. Add the coffee and ground walnuts to the batter and mix again but no more than 3-4 seconds. The mixture should have a marbled effect and it is very important not to over mix or you will take all the air out of the cakes.

Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until raised and golden brown. Insert a skewer in the centre of one of the cakes - it should come out clean if it is cooked.

Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool in their tins. Make up the syrup by combining the ingredientas in a jug and stirring well to ensure the sugar dissolves completely. After 10-15 minutes, prick the sponges with a fork, brush on the syrup and leave it to soak in.

When you are ready to ice the cakes, carefully turn them out of their tins and peel the greaseproof paper from the bases. Place one cake on a plate and spread a thin layer of coffee buttercream over it. Place the second cake on top and use the rest of the buttercream to cover the upper surface. Decorate with the walnut halves around the edge.

Run 5K Challenge for Race for Life

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Not only am I good at finding excuses for not exercising, I am also a serial yo-yo dieter. I have counted points and calories, had red days and green days, filled days with eating cabbage soup. I've even tried pills and potions, they all work in the beginning. As for the long run, I find eating out and the odd glass of wine more appealing.

What I needed was a challenge!

My Nanna and Grandad have recently both got over cancer. I decided that Race for Life was for me, especially seeing as my local gym were starting a running group. 

I have ran in the past, I started with my cousin last year, with a promise to myself that I would run with my sister-in-law whilst visiting her in Australia. This soon went to the wayside as I heard about her heroic 100K run to help raise awareness for Anorexia. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Lemon Cupcakes

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These fresh lemon cupcakes are always very popular in our house. Make sure you use really plump juicy lemons for maximum zing!

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Makes 12 regular cupcakes

110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g caster sugar, preferably golden
2 large eggs, free range or organic
150g self raising flour, sifted
125g plain flour, sifted
90ml semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon sour cream
Grated zest of 1 lemon (you need 1 teaspoon)

Preheat  the oven to 160°C (fan)/180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 and line a 12-hole muffin tray with the appropriate size cupcake cases.

In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth, which should take 3-5 minutes using an electric mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for a few minutes after each addition.

Combine the two flours in a separate bowl and combine the milk, lemon juice and sour cream in a jug. Add one-third of the flours to the creamed mixture and beat well. Pour in one-third of the milk and beat again. Repeat these steps until all the flour and milk have been added, incorporating the lemon zest with the last third of flour. Don't worry if the mixture starts to curdle: simply add another spoonful of plain flour and beat well.

Carefully spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling them to about two thirds full. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until slightly raised and golden brown. To check they are cooked, insert a skewer in the centre of one of the cakes - it should come out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave the cakes in their tins for about 10 minutes before carefully placing on a wire rack to cool. Once they are completely cool, you can ice the cupcakes with lemon buttercream and decorate with a sugared lemon slice )you'll find pots of these in the baking aisle of most supermarkets) or a little finely grated lemon zest. 

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bridal Shoot with Wedding Sparrow Blog

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On Sunday I worked alongside Sara Russell from Wedding Sparrow Blog. Sara had asked me to join her team down south, in the New Forest, Dorset. Sara wanted me to provide hair and make-up for a bridal campaign to launch Wedding Sparrows New Blog at the end of April. I got to feel and lust after the most amazing Claire Pettibone dresses from the Spring/Summer 2013 range. Bo Boutique provided stunning flowers for the day, whilst Aneta Mak shot the most breathtaking romantic pictures, surrounded by gorgeous scenery and wild ponies. I cannot wait to show you all the final images once Sara's blog has launched and hopefully get to do it all again in the very near future. 

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The pictures above were taken with my mobile phone. They do the dresses no justice at all so I have posted some pictures below from the Claire Pettibone Spring/Summer Collection.

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How to: 5-Step Skincare Regime

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Most women know what they should be buying and most women are buying more and more products. Always searching for the best cleanser or the perfect moisturiser. This is great news for all the companies out there that are happy to let us stock up our cupboards with half finished products as we buy the next new product that promises us the world. Did it ever occur that maybe its the way the products are being used? Do you still use cleanser on a cotton pad? Don't worry you haven't done anything wrong but this is exactly what my mother taught me when I first started cleansing, and carried on that way until my best friend started working at Neal's Yard, and informed me on how to use the products properly. I am listing a few of my favourite items, but I am telling you. It's not just about the products it's about how and when you use them too!
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Using the cleanser of your choice, use your fingers to press the product all over your face making sure you also reach the areas around your nose and around your chin. Try not to rub cleanser onto your face as this can encourage removal of skin cells that are not ready to fall off. A muslin cloth can be used for a light exfoliation when removing the product using luke warm water.

Step 2: TONER

Toner comes next as it’s main purpose to remove anything you missed during cleansing. Cover a cotton wool pad with product and sweep over face reaching all areas. Clean any excess product with a tissue.

Step 3: SERUM

Serums contain all the clever scientific stuff and it’s a step that shouldn’t be missed! Use a small 5p sized amount and use the palm of your hand to massage into the face. A serum with antioxidants in will give you bonus points!


Eye cream is one of those products that lots of people use but the majority use wrong. Take a tiny bit of product onto your ring finger and pat it lightly around the orbital bone (which is just under where you’d put concealer). Do not apply it right up by your eye as this will damage the sensitive skin and cause puffiness.


The final step before bed… moisturiser. Use a generous amount, enough to cover all areas. Use upward motions with your hands to rub in. So there you have it, the correct order and how to apply. Now all you need is to decide which products.... I will be doing reviews on my favourite products so please keep coming back.