My 5 Most Popular Posts of 2014

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So the end of 2014 is nigh, a time for celebration? Closure? Reflection? 

I thought it would be interesting to look back over my most popular posts this year, so follow me on my reminiscent jaunt.


1. L'Oreal Elvive Fibrology Review | Before & After

Arguably unsurprisingly, my two-part review of L'Oreal's Fibrology range came out top. I imagine the claims of thick, beautiful hair for drugstore prices were just too much temptation!

2. Weight Loss Wednesdays: Thinspiration | Fitspiration

Here I posted my top 10 tips to motivate you throughout a weight loss journey. I possibly need to read up on these myself.. but I'll be restarting the weight loss series in 2015 so keep a look out for that!

3. Pharmaclinix Product Review

Back in January I was kindly sent this fantastic moisturiser to review and it's been a bit of a saviour in the cold winter months.

4. What's in my Handbag

I'm the type of person that loves reading these posts on other blogs; if you are too then here's mine!

5. Project 10 Pan

The beauty equivalent of a Spring Clean, this is my account of the idea I first heard via Laura.


If you blog, what have been your most popular posts of 2014?


New Year's Makeup Tutorial (Fab for Hooded Eyes)

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The end of 2014 warrants some sparkle and more than my usual 'barely there' face. This makeup look is classic, super simple and stress free, leaving more time to bring in the new year with some gusto!



First, base. Although quite wordy, in real time, the 'face bit' only takes around 5 minutes.

I'm layering my bases to maximise 'smooth-skin-nosity' and 'photoability' without caking on foundation. Party season or not, I like my skin to feel weightless and not bogged down with product.


First off is Loreal's Studio Secrets primer. Jam-packed full of silicons, it smooths out uneven textures on the skin's surface and takes the edge off any shine. 

Next is Stila's HD Beauty Balm. Although it took me a while to get used to the scent, this has now become a mainstay in my beauty artillery. With very little coverage, this hero makes my skin super plump and hydrated, evens out my skintone and buddies up with the aforementioned primer in the smoothing and anti-shine department.

Foundations prepped, time for a little coverage. And that comes in the form of Chanel's Vitalumiere Aqua in 40, I can't speak highly enough of this stuff. A few dots swept in with fingers just where I need it, so pretty much just a dash across my rosy cheeks. 


For tinting and setting purposes, Seventeen's Define & Conquer Kit. A fat brush aids application; a light sweep of the lighter colour down my nose and across the tops of my cheeks, and the darker colour through the backs of my cheeks and temples. My aim with this is minimalism, I don't want it to be detectable.

Face done, onto eyes. 



Even easier than the base, I start with Chanel's Illusion D'Ombre in Fantasme. I sweep this snowy, super fine glitter fairly messily and definitely liberally across my eyelids, then top with the equally fine champagne glitter from No7's In The Navy trio (a fantastic mini palette). 


For a little extra sparkle (why not, it's Christmas), on with Collection's Glam Crystals liner in Funk. Curl lashes, a generous coat of Chanel's Inimitable mascara and show my brows some love with a quick groom and touch up.


And if you can't wear some false lashes at this time of year, when can you? I've gone for Eylure's Naturalite's. 



Finally, lips. 

I need something easy and long-lasting, so liner is the perfect cheat. Outline, then fill in, blot and reapply. Done; a matte-to-velvet finish that won't come off unless you want it to.


And c'est fini. A minimal-effort look that's in perfect keeping with a celebratory year's end.

Have a Happy New Year's everyone!



The Perfect Boeuf Bourguignon

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This hearty, French stew is the ultimate comfort food for a winter's evening. (For something a little lighter, try these delicious Chilli Chicken Wraps.) It might require a little effort and preparation but boy, is it worth it. There are countless recipes around for this classic but this is mine, with some extra tweaks to maximise taste divinity.


Here's what you'll need:
(Although there's no need to be precise with the recipe, if you like more bacon, simply add more)

2 ox cheeks (here's my first tweak, you can use a more traditional cut like chuck or shin of beef but ox cheek a) is full of flavour, b) have the most unbelievable melty texture and c) they're absurdly cheap.
150g bacon or pancetta lardons
250g chestnut mushrooms
A smallish onion, chopped
A largeish carrot, chopped
A stick of celery
A glass of red wine
A tbsp of tomato puree
1l of good beef stock
A few sprigs of fresh thyme, a sprinkle of dried will do and a bay leaf
250g chestnut mushrooms
20 or so button/pearl onions or little shallots.
A handful of garlic cloves in their skins
A splash of balsamic vinegar
A squidge of butter and a dash of olive oil

And here's the method:


First, start off by getting yourself a well-loved, cast iron casserole pot. Pop it upon the stove and fry off your bacon until it sizzles. Toss in the chopped carrots, onion and celery with a little olive oil to help them along and a sprinkling of thyme.


Fry for 5-10 minutes or until they start to get some colour. Set aside.



Next, cut your ox cheeks in half and toss in seasoned flour. Crank up the heat and brown in the pan with a little more olive oil. This is an important moment; browning the meat gives the stew it's flavour so get some good colour on those cheeks, then set aside with the veg.


Deglaze your pan with the wine making sure to scrape all the charred goodness off the bottom. Reduce the wine slightly to take the edge off the alcohol and add your stock and tomato puree. Boil rapidly for a couple of minutes then you can turn off the heat. Add your meat and veg back into the pot, top with herbs, on with the lid and into the oven at 140-150 degrees C.

As Nigel Slater says, a boiled Bourguignon is a spoiled Bourguignon, so these little ox cheeks require long and slow cooking, I leave mine in a low oven for anything up to 6 hours, arguably the longer the better, but 3 hours should do.

Whilst your Bourguignon is cooking away, you can get on with some little extras for extra flavour.

The onions:


Peel your teeny onions and add whole into a frying pan with some olive oil and a little seasoning. Fry on a medium heat to get some colour on them then turn down and cook them through. At the end of their cooking, (a knife should pierce them effortlessly) add a knob of butter and a splash of balsamic vinegar (another taste tweak). Reduce until the onions are coated in a sticky, dark glaze.

The mushrooms:

Chop your mushrooms into halves or quarters and fry in a little olive oil and butter.

The garlic:


Throw your unpeeled cloves in a stainless steel pan with some salt and olive oil. Cook on a low heat until soft, just like roast garlic and you can squidge them out of their skins. These caramelised, confit cloves are fully delicious squashed into the stew.


 When your meat is tender and yielding, and falls apart at the slightest prod, your Bourguignon is done. Toss in your onions, mushrooms and garlic and cook for a few minutes, so all the flavours get to know each other.



Serve with buttery mash, toast with persillade or really, whatever you fancy.

The Best Things About Christmas

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1. Christmas music

I love the jazzy stuff; Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, The Christmas Song, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, the dulcet tones of Mr Buble.. doesn't it all just fill your heart with joy?? And who doesn't love whipping out Mariah Carey and Chris Rea at Christmas time :)

2. Nigella

I really just want to be her friend or pet or some kind of acquaintance just to live at her house at Christmas. Her Christmas series' go on the tv every year and aside from the amazing, full-fat food she lavishes upon her viewers, I love that her house is bedecked in fairylights, her library of cookbooks is aspirational and even the background music is fabulous.

3. Christmassy drinks

Gingerbread lattes, mulled white, snowy white hot chocolates, spiced apple warmers, the list of delicious Christmassy flavoured drinks seems endless. It's one of those joys that seem to spread around the highstreets' cafes and tea shops once a year and is something I pounce upon. And yes it's a small joy but hello, Christmas cups.

4. Fairylights everywhere! (not just in your room)

Adorning the streets, on all trees (mandatory you understand), under cloches, on your nails, on the dog..

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5. The Coca Cola ad

The beginning of Christmas to me is December 1st or the first viewing of the Coca Cola ad, whichever comes first. It's the magical moment you know that Christmas has really begun.

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6. Christmas films

Love Actually. Every year. Religiously. #ToMeYouArePerfect

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7. Gingerbread houses

Every year so far, it's never actually me that makes this, I tend to gaze upon them in awe and stick to less intricate baking but this year I am fully set on having a go myself. I'm going to get a gingerbread dog in there somehow..

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8. Christmas markets

There's not much better to get you in the Christmas mood. If you can get the time, Germany or Austria have amazing markets. Cologne, Vienna, Salzberg are superb. If you're looking for something closer to home, Winter Wonderland is a firm favourite and Birmingham is also great.

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9. Presents!

Waking up to a Christmas stocking stuffed full of goodies at the end of your bed. I don't think that childish glee ever really leaves you. And buying them too. Late night christmas shopping under all the twinkly lights is dreamy.

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10. Spending time with loved ones :)

Merry Christmas everyone!



Winter Wonderland, London

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Having explored Bath's festive offerings (in this post), we couldn't help ourselves but to pop into central London to soak up more. And what better greeting to start off the day than a moustache-d train?




As with every excursion, food first! We headed off to Borough Market, mainly because I needed to get my hands on some famously incredible donuts, which, fear not, I'll share with you in two ticks.








Borough only gets better around Christmas time. Fresh-from-the-field produce, street food stalls serving hot, tasty morsels and yuletide stands of knick-knacks and vats of steamy, mulled wine.



We picked up Shoreditch-style salt beef sandwiches on rye, your very own New York deli fare in the heart of London and incredibly morish. 





Next, Bread Ahead doughnuts. Arguably the best in London; light-as-a-whisper dough smothered in sugar, the first, obnoxiously full with thick vanilla custard, the other with a caramel creme topped with almost bitter, homemade salted honeycomb.






With bellies full, off we went to inhale Christmas at Winter Wonderland. And it's quite the spectacle.






Fairy-lit stalls lining the walkways, brimming with trinkets, furs, candles, handmade gifts and of course, warming food and wines. I couldn't help but be taken with these sweet little porcelain domes. 





Then adjacent to the market, the funfair, full of towering and quaint rides in equinumber, the ice rink and more donuts, churros and cuddly toys than you could shake a stick at.


Finally, a whistlestop tour to Oxford Street; every year I'm sucked in like a bluebottle to the twinkly lights strewn above my head, it feels like I'm in a magical other-land..

Have you been to Winter Wonderland?

Where is your favourite place to go at Christmas?




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