Recipe | Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

28 Apr 2013

 Way back in January, I posted about a handmade birthday box I made for my best friend, (check it out HERE) and I included some home-made Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. I promised to post the recipe on here, and its taken me till April to do so! I'm such a good blogger, clearly. But, seeing as its still hardly summer weather I think hot chocolate is still called for. :)

Firstly ingredients wise you need -

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
1/3 tablespoons sea salt
1 cup dry milk powder
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (I realise I used dark - I can't read okay..)
10oz dark chocolate

The recipe I used is American, hence the measurements being in cups but there are lots of conversion tables on the interweb. Or if you're lucky enough to have measuring cups like me, you're winning!

Firstly line a rimmed (very important!) baking tray with baking paper and set aside. Then you need to make the caramel, prepare for really pretty swirly colours and an amazing smell! Heat the sugar in a large pan over a medium heat, without stirring. Be patient with it and when the sugar begins to melt, slowly swirl the pan around to melt it without burning. Keep your eye on the pan, as it can burn in an instant! As soon as its melted to a deep amber colour remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the vanilla. It will spit, so wear an apron just in case! Whisk the caramel until smooth again and immediately pour onto the lined baking tray. You then leave it  to cool for around an hour and the hard part is over!

If you find that some caramel gets stuck to your pan, pour in some water and put it over a gentle heat. Once its warmed a little, the caramel should come off easily and melt in to the water meaning you can just pour it away and be left with a shiny pan. :)

Once its completely cooled, you need to snap it all into tiny pieces. I found the best way to do it was to jab at it with a knife - its quite a good stress reliever actually! You then need to turn a food processor on, and while running feed the caramel pieces in so they are ground into a fine powder. The food processor starts to ooze a caramel smoke at this point and makes a god awful racket, so you might want to warn anyone in the vicinity beforehand. Once its completely pulverised, it should look a bit like this:

You then need to add the rest of the ingredients, aside from the chocolate, to the food processor and whizz until smooth. Finally, add the chocolate to the mix and process until the mixture is a fine powder.

And, voila! You've made your own salted caramel hot chocolate powder! Which sounds mega impressive, but as you've just witnessed, is ridiculously easy! I hope you enjoy it :) The original recipe states to use three tablespoons mixed with milk - but I find that wayyy too much. So, I'd say its just up to personal preference. Also, side note - this recipe makes LOADS. Like LOADS. So make sure you have enough jars :)


Source: Adapted from Seeded At The Table.
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Afternoon Tea at The Ritz!

26 Apr 2013

For my birthday last week, my sister gave me the ultimate surprise day! Afternoon Tea at The Ritz!!! I was beyond excited, and when I finally found out where we going I exclaimed so loudly in the street that I think a passing girl may have lost a few lives. Oops.

We were booked into the 11:30 session and had a blissful hour and a half to eat and drink to our hearts content. Walking up the steps and through the revolving doors, I suddenly felt really nervous. Like they were going to figure out that I was actually just a commoner and would condemn me to the streets. But, I have to say everyone was really lovely and made me feel completely at ease. We were shown to our table in The Palm Court, which was beautifully decorated. The court was already quite full when we arrived and was soon completely filled. It was a lovely atmosphere, with resident pianist Ian Gomes playing delightful tunes on the piano.

We were first asked what tea we’d like to drink, I chose Earl Grey and my sister Katie chose Jasmine. The Silver tea pots were ginormous! We were practically swimming with tea by the time we left, and it really was the nicest Earl Grey I’ve ever had. I’m not sure anything else will compare now. Also, check out the swanky tea strainer!! Really want one of those now. Our cake stand was then filled with an amazing array of goodies. About 12 perfectly sized finger sandwiches, with amazing fillings (best salmon I’ve ever had!) and a selection of cakes. We had two Millefeuille’s (which I’ve wanted to try forever and were incredible), an amazing chocolate cake/slice/pastry/goodness and a macaroon topped with an amazing cream. The middle plate of our cake stand was empty, and we were informed that it would be filled with warm scones. Oh my.

I feel like the first half an hour of our time there consisted of us stuffing our faces, but the food really was incredible. By the time our scones were brought out (two plain, two sultana) I was so full but still couldn’t stop eating! There was an amazing strawberry jam and clotted cream to go with the scones – they really melted in the mouth.

I have to say also, The Ritz are definitely not stingy! They refill the sandwiches the entire time you’re there – seriously a winner!

Finally, after we felt it couldn’t get any better. A trolley came around with ‘pudding’. So we were having pudding, for our pudding. Why have I not done this before?! Pudding Pudding consisted of an amazing banana, passion fruit and coffee crème pot topped with chocolatey crunchy biscuity bits. We were also given a choice of either a slice of lemon or blackforest cake. I chose the lemon and it was divine!

It literally was such a wonderful experience – food aside, the atmosphere is great and its definitely fun to pretend to be posh for the day! As we left we popped in to the toilets to check them out, and we were given an individual hand towel to dry our hands! It was rather lovely! Haha Obviously taking pictures inside had to be done discretely - no getting out my Nikon sadly! But, I hope you like the snaps I took on my iPhone J

After this, we needed to walk off the excessive amount of food we’d eaten, so we had a lovely mooch inside Kensington Palace and gardens. We then wandered through the entire Kensington area, choosing all our future houses ;) Finally our last stop of the day was the Hummingbird Bakery – because we clearly hadn’t eaten enough cake. We sat outside as it was still such a gorgeous day and it was scrummy!

If you ever get the chance to go to The Ritz or are thinking of an extravagant place to go as a present, I’d seriously recommend checking out The Ritz. It was such a lovely day, so thank you Katie!! J Here’s the website to have a look;,default-en.html

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Review | Illamasqua Mottle Polish

22 Apr 2013

Oh my. Just oh my. This little beauty has been on my wishlist for so long, so I was superrr excited to unwrap it for my birthday. My lovely best friend Amy bought it for me, so special love to her :) Like NARS in my post last week, the polish popped my Illamasqua cherry so its been an exciting high-end week for me! :)

The polish comes from their I'mperfection collection, that I'm sure you all know about by now. I really love the idea of this collection, and although some of the products are really daring I'd love to try some of their blushes. Definitely on my wishlist next I think :) The polishes really stood out to me from the moment I saw the collection, mainly because they remind me so much of mini-eggs!! So if you're feeling withdrawal symptoms from the Easter chocolate season ending, this might be just the thing to curb your appetite. Okay, I'm lying to myself here, nothing beats mini-eggs - but this is a seriously pretty looking polish. :)

Green being my favourite colour, Mottle was the perfect shade for me. I love how fresh and springy it looks, perfect now that the sun is finally making an appearance in the UK. :) When I first applied the polish, the first coat seemed so sheer I was worried it wasn't going to look right, but after a second coat and a clear top coat it looked opaque, smooth and shiny.

The little speckled flecks of 'imperfection' really add a cute touch to the polish, and aren't chunky at all leaving your nails feeling smooth. I'd just like to add here, please excuse the really bad picture of the polish on my nails I was having one of those bad photography days, I'm pretty sure I took about 20 pictures and I still wasn't happy! This was the best of the bunch though, so I hope its not too bad!

As far as wear and tear goes, the polish stayed chip free for a good 3-4 days. Not the best polish for longevity, but definitely not the worst. I thought maybe the flecks have something to do with it?

However, I do have one tiny  bug bear. You may have been wondering why I took a picture of the polish half removed. Well, its because its sooooo bloody hard to remove the speckles!! They are seriously strong, and do not want to leave your nails at any cost! So, just a word of warning, set aside a little extra time just to remove the flecks! haha

Other than that minor annoyance, I'm loving having mini-egg nails and reallyyy want to try the other shades! Especially Freckle :) Let me know if you've tried the polishes and whether you had the same issue removing the flecks!

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A Beauty Lovers Birthday.

20 Apr 2013

My baby cousin Lilia helped me blow out my candles :)
Annoying middle parting - darn you!
So I am a very lucky lady :) It was my Birthday this week and my sister made me this amazing cake!! Aside from tasting superr yummy (coffee and chocolate with chocolate frosting - don't ask about the calories!) it just looks incredible! And, as it was completely make-up related - I thought you lovely readers might like a peek :) I think the brushes are my favourite - they just look so realistic!

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Review | NARS Isolde Duo

17 Apr 2013

Please ignore my unkempt brows!

The other day I was a naughty girl and I popped my NARS cherry. It was a brilliant moment and I have no regrets. (My bank balance might have something to say about it though.)

I've revered NARS for a while now, but just never decided on my perfect purchase - until I spotted the Isolde eyeshadow duo. I'd seen so many brilliant reviews of it, and with NARS I definitely knew I wanted one of their eyeshadows in my collection as they are just so beautiful. Isolde seemed the perfect shades that I could wear from day to night, so I popped along to Selfridges and had a little splurge.

Even the packaging with NARS is lovely; although I completely get what everyone says about the black case getting dirty really easily. Bit annoying, but its hardly going to stop me buying more NARS products! The eyeshadow itself is just so lovely, quite shimmery but not in a disco ball way and SO super pigmented. You really don't need to use a lot of product, which definitely helps justify the price tag!

I've been enjoying using the lighter shade all over the lid with the darker shade in the crease and outer corners of my eye. I find the MAC 217 is a really great brush to use for this - also a recent purchase which I'm loving! I haven't worn the shadow with a primer yet, and to be honest I don't think I'll ever need to. It doesn't crease on me at all and quite literally stays put all day. Brilliant shadow to use for a day out that rolls into the evening.

The shade is a really pretty warm coppery gold, and I think it would really compliment most complexions. The actual texture of the shadow is super soft and light - (it coats your brush with only the lightest dab into the pan, so be careful you don't coat your brush too much) making blending the product really easy.

I really love that the shadow is a duo, it feels better value for money and its really handy having two complimenting shades together. Definitely a go-to for travelling and quick looks in the morning. The only bad thing I could say about the product is that its made me want more NARS products!! I mean really, why are they so pretty?

Have you got any suggestions for NARS products for me? I might create a wishlist to curb the spending...;)

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Review | Revlon Lip Butter in Tutti Frutti

14 Apr 2013

Please ignore my tired eyes!
For an everyday burst of colour, the Revlon Lip Butter in Tutti Frutti is my perfect go-to. Its moisturising, easy to apply and fades evenly on the lips throughout the day. The Lip Butters have been seriously hyped in the beauty world and in my eyes they completely live up to it.

I bought the lip butter in Superdrug a month or so ago on one of their many offers and I've really enjoyed using it. Now its finally getting to spring weather I'm loving coral shades and this is just so perfect.

The formula of the lip butters feel so lovely on the lips - really moisturising and they leave your lips feeling smooth and soft. The colour is quite sheer but is buildable to create a really pretty corally-pink. I love this as it makes it so wearable in the day but can be built up for an evening look.

With the lip butter being such a moisturising texture, the colour fades evenly on the lips throughout the day and doesn't build up at the corners of your mouth like some lipsticks. It also makes it super easy to re-apply, especially on the go as you don't really need a mirror.

Basically I'm really enjoying it, and I'm definitely going to have a look at other lip butter shades. Any recommendations for me?

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Flashback Friday Vol #2: Class of 2012.

12 Apr 2013

The Family, Some Friends and The Boy <3
University is one of those places that you've either always dreamed of going to or couldn't think of anything worse. In my mind, University was always going to be a part of my academic life. I went to Bangor University in North Wales, 283 miles away from my London home and had the best three years of my life.

I'm not going to go into detail about my University experience (as I'm saving that for another Flashback Friday post) but on the 18th July 2012 I graduated with a BA Music (hons). To people who haven't been to University, donning a cap and gown for a day may not seem like a big deal - but in the midst of stressful dissertation writing it was quite literally the only thing that got me through. Okay, apart from copious amounts of chocolate. And cake. And ice cream. Ahem..

A lot of people say that Graduation is over-priced for what is essentially a handshake and a well done. But, to me its so much more than that! Its recognition with all your fellow students, that you made it through! All those all-nighters where you were killing yourself for not starting sooner, the mad runs down university halls to give in essays minutes before the deadline and living off super noodles - were all worth it! Because you now officially have letters after your name and you can throw your cap in the air and say AYYYO. (Please tell me you got that!)

Being at a Welsh University, my ceremony was a little different to most, with half of the ceremony spoken in the welsh language. Very confusing for all the non-welsh families sitting in the room, but pretty commonplace for us students! I must say - for anyone contemplating going to a University in Wales, don't let the bi-lingual side put you off! Its fun to learn a little welsh while you're there, and you feel like you're experiencing a different culture - even if it is just a long train ride away!

Essentially, I loved my graduation. I got to spend it with everyone I loved - my family, friends and boyfriend. There was also a lot of yummy food involved, and because my University looks a bit like Hogwarts I felt like a wizard with my gown on. Gryffindor House to be exact, as my University colours are red and gold. Winning I know. :)

Let me know if you've graduated and what your take on it was! It'd be really interesting to see :)

If you want to look at my last Flashback Friday post all about my American Adventure, you can see it HERE.

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Review | Sleek Rose Gold Blush

6 Apr 2013

Just look at it. Now look again. Its SO pretty. I literally am a tiny bit in love with this shade. I've totally got on the Rose Gold bandwagon, but only really with jewellery. It hadn't really occurred to me that my love for the colour could transfer into my love for make-up. It was winning times for me in Superdrug when I happened on this lovely blush though!

I've always heard good things about Sleek blushes and I do really like their eye-shadows so as soon as I set my eyes on this beauty I knew it had to come home with me. Also at £4.49 a pop, it was hardly rocket science.

I know I always talk about this, and in reality packaging really doesn't matter - buttt I do really like the packaging. It reminds me of NARS with the little black case, and I think it makes the products look a lot classier than the price they are.

The pigmentation of the blush is really good, you don't need a lot of product as it really does go a long way. It can look quite shimmery when you swatch it, but when blended out on your cheeks its not so apparent making it a great everyday blush. I think it gives a really radiant glow and I just really love it. I've worn it every day since I bought it and its definitely in my top 5 favourite blushes already.

Have you tried Sleek blushes? Or hopped onto the Rose Gold bandwagon? Let me know :)

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Review | Maybelline Colour Tattoo Cream Gel Eyeshadow

5 Apr 2013

I love the way eye-shadow can change a make-up look and it can look so pretty when done really well. But, I have to be honest I'm not amazing at eye-shadow and I do struggle a bit. Especially when I've got to leave the house in a rush - I would generally just not wear any but recently I've been feeling  like my eyes are lacking something.

I'd heard a lot about the Maybelline Colour Tattoo eye-shadows and being a cream gel formula I thought they'd be the perfect quick fix I'd been looking for. Naturally, I couldn't just buy one to try - so I picked up the cute pots in 35-On and On Bronze, 65-Pink Gold and 85-Light In Purple. They're only £4.99 each and they're pretty much always on a 3 for 2 offer in Boots so you can't really complain!

The texture of the eye-shadows are really nice, they feel so smooth and really glide onto the lid. The product is really pigmented too so you don't need to use a lot for each application. I dot the shadow across my lid before blending it out slightly.

As I expected On and On Bronze is my favourite so far, but I think that's partly due to it being the most neutral shade making it an everyday staple for me.

On and On Bronze
I think its a really pretty brown, without being too dark. The colour lasts really well all day and doesn't crease at all. Sorry for the really bright light in the swatch pictures by the way, I was sitting by the window and didn't realise quite how light it was until I came to write this post!

Pink Gold
Pink Gold gives a much subtler colour pay-off, but I quite enjoy that. Its a really feminine look so would look great in the spring (if we ever get warmer weather!) with a summery dress.

Light In Purple
I bought Light In Purple with an eye to using it more for evening looks, I think the colour just looks SO pretty sitting in the pan. I do really like it, but I think its my least favourite of the three. In saying that I have only had the shades for a couple of weeks so its early days yet.

If you are looking for a simple/quick eye-shadow look that you can guarantee will last you the day then look no further. These are really great, especially for the price! There is quite a wide range of shades, so I may have another look now I know they work so well for me.

Let me know if you've tried any of the other shades, any recommendations? I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! :)


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