Simple Vanilla Sponge Cake

Sometimes I get a bit fed up of fancy-icing, complex-flavour type cakes and want something that's a little bit more traditional. Vanilla is just about my favourite cake flavour and this cake is super moist and just the right level of sweet. This is the first cake I baked with my Wilton Bake-Even strips, hence the lovely flat finish. This cake is really really simple to make and follows a basic 1 : 1 : 1 ratio with the flour, butter and sugars. Add a few eggs and a little vanilla essence and you're done! I opted for a dusting of icing sugar but strawberries and cream would also work really well, either as a topping or as a victoria sponge.

170g self raising flour
170g baking butter
170g caster sugar (I opted to switch half for a golden caster)
3 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp baking powder

one. preheat oven to 180C and prepare your baking tin, I opted for a springform cake pan
two. combine all ingredients in bowl to form batter
three. pour batter into prepared pan and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and springy to the touch
four. allow to cool for ten minutes before inverting onto cooling rack
five. cool completely and decorate to taste

Maybelline Dream Flawless Nude: Ivory Review

My first thoughts when I first opened up this foundation was how on earth do I use it? I'm not sure I've ever seen such a weird looking applicator before, I'm much more used to a pump or just a bottle. The Maybelline Dream Flawless Nude foundation comes with a little teardrop wand type applicator that according to the bottle you can drip onto your finger(?) but I ended up using it to dab foundation on my face which I then blended with a real techniques stipple brush. You can pick the foundation up in Boots for a very reasonable £5.99, and I got it on a 3-for-2 deal.

Other than the bizarre applicator, I found the consistency of the foundation to provide good coverage, though it is very thin and sheer. Ivory matches my skin tone well (e.g. isn't orange) and it's easy to build up a couple layers for thicker coverage. I've been wearing this to work on a near daily basis and it lasts fairly well nearly all day, but I am one of those people who always has their hands on their face so that's probably me being more at fault than the product itself! I used this without powder or primer and it wasn't overly cakey or super shiny, both of which always put me off heavier foundations. I'd recommend this to people looking for something in-between a BB cream and a proper full-coverage foundation.

Lush Hello Gorgeous

Last weekend I was lucky enough to spend the day with my lovely friend Sophie (who has just started her own blog called High Tea!) at Cribbs Causeway Mall in Bristol. We have lots of similar interests when it comes to shopping so we ended up dividing our time between homeware, bakeware and beauty; and Krispy Kreme of course. I ended up making a couple purchases in Lakeland and ASDA but my main buy of the day was a personal treat from Lush! I've always wanted one of the gift sets and they seem good value for money so I opted for the Hello Gorgeous box, which retails at £22.95 and includes five different Lush products.

I'll have to admit I was a little disappointed that the Gorgeous moisturiser was just a teeny sample pot, but upon trying it I'm quite glad I don't have a big pot to get through; I'm not overly keen on the scent and it just isn't moisturising enough for my skin, unlike the Celestial moisturiser I've tried before which would definitely be a rebuy. The Rub Rub Rub shower scrub is my favourite skincare item in the kit, it smells gorgeous and is a little less harsh than the Ocean Salt one I've used before meaning it can be used more often. This is a full sized pot and I can imagine it'll take me a while to get through. The last of the skincare items is the Vanilla Dee-Lite lotion, I love vanilla scents so this one is definitely a winner and great to top up moisture in my hands, this will likely go in my bag for work as the soap in the bathrooms is harsh on my skin. Again, a full sized product that should last a long time and smells creamy and delicious.

I was so excited to try out my Sakura bath bomb, but a little disappointed with the results. It was a lovely extra in my box but I wouldn't pay the £3.35 for it on it's own; when I buy Lush I expect lovely scents, bright colours, sparkly water and this one just made it a little milky and.. kind of softer? not a rebuy here. On the other hand, I adore my The Comforter bubble bar and I want one in every colour/scent, it turned my bath water a beautiful pink shade, produced loads of bubbles with only a quarter of the bar and smelt amazing. I don't want a bath without one now! I have my eye on the Ultraviolet one for my next visit.

Maybelline The Falsies (Waterproof) Review

A few weeks ago I was reading up online about make-up use-by dates and noted with horror that I hadn't actually bought a new mascara, foundation or blusher in close to three years. This meant my most-used pieces were in dire need of replacement (and it was no surprise I was breaking out really!) so a trip to boots resulted in a mini make-up haul. Maybelline is one of the brands I trust the most on the high street; it's cheap but tends to be high quality and it's a brand I'm used to using as well. I've dabbled with higher end (read: EXPENSIVE) brands in the past and not had as good results.

After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing I opted for The Falsies mascara in Black Waterproof. In Boots it retails at £7.99 but there was also a 2-for-3 offer on which brought down the price a little. My previous mascara was also Maybelline with a very similar wand, a little curved, but the effects of this one are much more dramatic. One coat for work (as seen in the photo) darkens and curls my lashes nicely. There's not much to complain about with this product as clumping hasn't been an issue thus far, despite the brush looking like it picks up too much to apply sparingly. I'd recommend this mascara for anyone with very pale or short lashes as this really improves lash visibility well.

Bits and Pieces

I was inspired by the lovely Georgina at Makeup-Pixi3 to put together a post about the little things around my home - I'm a fan of cute, kitsch and geeky things and I think my flat definitely reflects that! There's always little trinkets and objects that make me smile, whether I bought them myself or they were gifts from others. I can't wait to have a bigger flat or even a house so I have more room to spread out and I'm able to add little touches to a larger area; I'd particularly like more bathroom space and one with actual access to daylight as there's some lovely little accents my bathroom was much too dim to take photos of. Anyway, here are the bits and pieces that keep make my flat a happy place;

Rich Cinnamon Chocolate Bundt Cake

My usual stipulations for cake is that it has to be light, fluffy and really easy to eat a lot of. This time around I decided to try something a bit different and made a heavier, richer cake. This wouldn't be as easy to eat first thing in the morning (cake for breakfast? noooo, never done that...) because it's super rich, heavy and very chocolate-y with a hint of spice but it would make an amazing dessert cake with cream or ice cream, especially after warming in the microwave. This is the first time trying 'goop' pan release - which I tried after finding it on I Am Baker - with my bundt pan and it worked brilliantly, so much better than the usual spray I use. The cake came out clean first time and I'm regarding it my new miracle baking helper.

200g baking butter/marg
200g golden caster sugar
50g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
75g cocoa
280g self raising flour
1 tsp vanilla essence
0.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp cinnamon/ginger
40ml whole milk
royal icing, cocoa powder and water for icing

one. preheat oven to 180c and prepare bundt pan (I used goop pan release)
two. beat together butter and sugars, adding eggs one at a time
three. mix in vanilla essence, cinnamon, ginger and milk until well combined
four. sift in flour, baking powder and cocoa together and combine with other ingredients until thick batter is formed
five. pour mixture into pan and spread so vaguely even; drop pan on counter/floor a few times to ensure all air has come out
six. bake in oven for roughly 45 minutes, after 30 minutes tent some foil loosely over the top to prevent overcooking the base of the cake
seven. remove from oven and allow to cool for ten minutes before inverting pan onto cooling rack
eight. if icing, mix royal icing with a quarter of the amount of cocoa and add water gradually until a moderately thick paste is formed, ice onto cake whilst slightly warm so it sinks in a spreads further.