Saturday, 26 April 2014

Caramel Nutella Swirl Banana Bread

Give me banana bread at any time of the day, and I will eat it. I love it. It's just so good. It's like bread, which I love, but it's sweet, which is even better. Earlier today, I couldn't decide what to bake until I saw the beautifully brown bananas sitting on the windowsill just waiting too be mashed and shoved into an oven in the form of banana bread. Then something magical happened... I remembered the giant jar of Nutella I'd bought at the end of lent (to be honest I never forgot about it because Nutella but it sounded cool when I worded it like that). 

I changed the normal banana bread recipe I use (for no particular reason) so there's slightly less sugar - more than made up for by the addition of caramel and Nutella - and I added an extra banana because they looked quite small so I felt bad for them. 

One of my favourite things is eating banana bread (almost) fresh out of the oven, when it's all warm and comforting and loving and amazing. Is it bad I think I'm emotionally attached to baked goods? Now, I should probably take a slice (or five) of this and escape upstairs to do some of the revision that I promised myself I would do today...

Recipe (makes one loaf):
  • 125g butter, soft
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 or 5 ripe bananas, mashed
  • Nutella
  • Dulce de Leche
  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC. Grease and line a 9"x5" loaf tin.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla extract.
  4. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mix, and beat gently.
  5. Mix in the mashed bananas until all combined.
  6. Pour half of the batter into the prepared tin.
  7. Dot spoonfuls of Nutella and caramel on top of the batter, and swirl gently using a toothpick/skewer/knife. Don't worry about being stingy at this point - more is less.
  8. Pour the remaining batter on top, and repeat the Nutella & caramel dotting and swirling.
  9. Bake for around 65-75 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out pretty much clean. You may need to put foil on top of the banana bread after 45 minutes to prevent burning.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Easter Egg Chocolate Chip Cookies

LENT IS OVER! I can eat all the nice food again! I've been doing that since Sunday, and now I do feel a little bit sick. It's worth it though... However, I didn't actually get round to opening my easter egg until today (mainly because there's so much other chocolate in the house), and I only opened it today to use some of it in these! I was originally planning on making chocolate chip cookie bars, but when I got to the baking stage for some reason I decided cookies would be better (I was right). These are now my favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe!

The cookies are really moist and gooey and yummy and all the of things you want a chocolate chip cookie to be. Well, a leftover-easter-egg-chocolate-chip cookie. It's so nice to be able to bake again, and I am really looking forward to making my way through the loooong list of recipes I have piled up! Plus, I need something to reward myself with after 5 whole minutes of revision... 

I go back to school tomorrow for my last three weeks of school EVER! That is scaaaary, I feel so old. Almost a grandmother. After that, it's two weeks of study leave before my exams start, and I'm guessing a lot of panic baking will take place. I cannot wait for these exams to be over! Especially English, I hate it so much. And Geography. And History, sometimes. Anyway...

Recipe (makes 24):
  • 170g butter
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 egg & 1 yolk
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 200g chopped chocolate/chocolate chips (I chopped up half of my easter egg and some mini eggs)

  1. Preheat the oven to 165oC (unless chilling the cookie dough).
  2. Cream the butter and sugars until fluffy and pale.
  3. Beat in the egg, yolk and vanilla until well mixed.
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  5. Add the flour etc. bit by bit to the rest of the mix, beating slowly.
  6. When the everything is just combined, stir in the chocolate.
  7. You can cover the dough in cling film and leave in the fridge if desired (apparently it makes the cookies come out nicer) but as the butter in this isn't melted it should be fine. I left mine in the fridge for about 15 minutes while deciding whether to make cookies or bar cookies!
  8. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
  9. Make balls of cookie dough using about a dessert spoonful of mixture for each cookie.
  10. Place the balls on the tray, and press down lightly.
  11. Bake in the oven for 7 minutes, before turning the heat up to 180oC for another 3 minutes.
  12. Take out of the oven when the edges are just starting to turn golden brown.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Easy Zebra Nail Art Tutorial

I love to procrastinate. I love it so much. So, as it's time to revise for the most important exams of my life (so far), it makes sense to break out the nail varnish, kick up my heels and watch a few episodes of 30 Rock. I'll do some geography notes when this episode ends... IN 5 hours time. As I painted my nails mid-Chaucer note making, I had to rope in my mum to let me do the step-by-step photos on her. I know this isn't exactly the most amazing/intricate nail art design, but I think it looks great. Plus, any excuse to make a gif...

Step 1: Paint your nails white (or any light colour). I used Model's Own in Snow White.

Step 2: When dry, use a black nail art pen/sharpie to outline small triangles on the nails.

Step 3: Fill in the triangles with the black pen.

Step 4: Repeat! Also, when it comes to top coat, I found that even after letting my nails dry for ages the top coat still smudged them, so I would advise going without. Especially if you use a sharpie. Here's a funky gif to illustrate the process!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014


These are a permanent feature in our house. I have no clue when the actual tulip season is, because it is constantly tulip season here. Either way, it's great. Except for this year, as I've miraculously developed hay fever and have to avoid all flowers (incidentally, it's a great excuse to sit inside and watch tv...).

Monday, 14 April 2014

The Future

A photo I tool from the Pearl Tower in Shanghai. Sometimes it's good to get a different perspective.

I think about the future a lot. I'm only 18, so I should probably be running around living life to the full etc, but recently I've found myself getting all worried and anxious. 

It sounds stupid, but I'm scared to grow up. I'm scared to move away to a big city in September (as long as I get in), I'm scared to say goodbye to all my friends once we leave school, I'm scared I've applied for the wrong course, I'm scared I've decided to go to the wrong university, the list could go on...

The whole concept of being old freaks me out. It worries me that I won't be 18 forever, and that one day I could be 85, sitting on my own regretting all the choices I've made in life (I really hope that doesn't happen though...). I think my recent anxiety has stemmed mainly from A Levels and the massive changes my life is going to experience in the next few months - I hate change - but also the concept of death.

Death is not something I'm comfortable with. Not in the slightest. I don't believe in an afterlife, so it completely weirds me out to think that any second, anyone could be knocked off the Earth by some freak accident or an illness, and that once they die, boom, life is over and everything they ever did ceases to exist (unless it exists in other people's consciousness). 

Anyway, the point of this post (it's not just a post to worry my mum - seriously, Jane, I don't need an intervention it's cool) is mainly for me to confront my own anxieties, and to just think them through. It's good to have a blog sometimes, it's like talking to yourself or a diary but on the internet and letting the whole world see it... 

I find that whenever I'm getting particularly scared or worried, which doesn't happen very often because I generally employ a mental blockade of puppies and kittens to distract from the 'deep and meaningful' thought path that my brain is going down, I have to rationalise what it is that's making me feel that way.

With school, I have to remind myself that it's all my own making - I can decide who to stay in contact with, I can decide how well I do in the exams (mostly). With university, I have to remember why it is that I chose to do History over Architecture - this one really helps because I remind myself of all the bad things about architecture that came up on Google. 

The main thing I've found is that, yes, I hate change and growing older and the future and anything that isn't lying in my bed eating chocolate and watching Tina Fey or Amy Poehler, but that the future really is down to me. You can't live your life being scared of what opportunities you're missing by making one decision (e.g. thinking of all the people you're not meeting by going to one university instead of another), but rather you have to embrace the adventure.

I feel like I'm being very cheesy and cliche, but to be honest this post is mainly here just for me to look at when I'm getting all worried and stuff - future me, remember: if everything sucks and does go wrong, don't blame the decisions you made now. They were made with the best intentions. Just get a bar of chocolate, cry for a little bit, then book a trip around the world. 

Being scared isn't bad. Being scared is good - it makes change more exciting (as long as you don't get so scared that you stop... That's never good, just keep going).

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Spring Wardrobe Wishlist

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Homemade Almond Milk

Almond milk is a healthier, vegan alternative to cow's milk, and it's a great substitute for milk if you have issues with dairy products. I use almond milk (when I have it in the fridge) in banana pancakes, and although I really dislike the taste, when mixed into other foods you can't fast it at all - half the calories of milk, but with the same end result! 

I made my own recently, and it was way better than the stuff you buy in the shops! Making it yourself means you can add anything you want to it, or you can leave it plain and simple without any unhealthy additions!

Recipe (makes about 300ml):
  • 100g almonds
  • water

  1. Soak the almonds in about 2 inches of water for at least 24 hours, covering the bowl. I left mine for about 2 days (mainly because I forgot).
  2. Drain the almonds, and rinse them.
  3. Put the almonds, with about 200ml of water, in a blender.
  4. Blend until smooth.
  5. Strain the almond milk into a bowl - I used a fine sieve, but some people recommend a cheesecloth if you have one. I found that I needed to press down on the mix to get all the milk out.
  6. Reblend the leftover almond meal (I did this to ensure I got all the almond milk I could).
  7. Strain it.
  8. Keep the almond milk in a sealed container in the fridge.
If you are going to add any additions, add them to the blender in between steps 4 and 5.

You could add honey, cocoa powder, agave syrup, dates... The list is endless!

If you're planning on using the almond milk in pancakes, I highly recommend Chocolate Covered Katie's banana pancakes recipe (it is my go-to for a good breakfast).

Friday, 11 April 2014

Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser

I hate my skin. Well, I hate the texture of my skin - that sounds really weird when I say it like that. I have this 'chicken skin' thing on my jawline (as well as my neck, my arms...) and it makes it really hard for foundation to blend into my skin. Therefore, I need a pretty good primer to allow me to actually wear foundation, and so I'm on the lookout 24/7 for decent, drug-store primers that don't cost the earth. This one, from Maybelline, is pretty great. 

I don't really care about my pores that much, but I did notice a difference on my nose when I used this, so that ticks that box. The best thing about this primer is it's smoothness - it feels just like the higher-end ones with silicon (e.g. Smashbox photo finish) and it makes your skin silky smooth. I love that feeling! The primer itself is completely colourless and is like a clear gel, which rubs into your skin really easily. I find it keeps foundation on for most of the day, and it allows my foundation to blend into my skin really easily!

This is definitely a great primer if you're looking for a cheaper, good-quality product and don't want to fork out on the really expensive ones! 8/10, well done Maybelline.

Thursday, 10 April 2014


Warning: watching these may give you a bit of a headache. Or just make you very hungry (at least, they're making me hungry).

I am immensely proud of myself. I can make gifs! Well, I found an app in the App Store called GIFBrewery that makes the gif for you, and I used that. But still... I can make gifs. They may not be of the highest quality (I'm working on it), but this is making me about TEN THOUSAND times more excited for the end of Lent, even though I'm already past any normal level of excitement to be able to bake again.

Last night I was babysitting, and because there was nothing good on tv (Wednesday night tv programmes, sort yourselves out), I made a list of all the food I could think of that I want to bake and create and all the recipes that don't even exist yet - that's right, I'm actually going to be doing some real creative stuff. The list has about 70 things on, so I think I will be reversing any positive health gains made in Lent preeeetty quickly. #noregrets

I also want to improve my photo styling and post content, so hopefully there will be gifs featured in future recipe posts (I just love watching them, so pretty), and also prettier photos. But... don't quote me on that, I still have A Levels to do. 

I really cannot wait to bake again, why do I do this to myself... For the next week or so, my posts may be littered with references to sugar/chocolate/pizza/chips/etc just because my brain will be obsessing over them. Apologies in advance! (sorry not sorry)

P.s these gifs are from a video I made a few months ago, which you can find here (my bad on the audio situation). Hopefully I'll be doing some more videos soon as well!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Easy Emoticon Nail Art

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple of years, or you are yet to convert from anything other than a Nokia brick phone, you'll be aware of emoticons/emojis. I really love them, and seeing as I'm tucked away in a cold room with no human contact (I hate exams) I thought I would alleviate the boredom temporarily by creating some new friends for myself - I have developed a procrastination talent like to no other.

What's brilliant about this nail art is that 1. it is so easy you can do it with your eyes shut (almost) and 2. there are so many possibilities of what to do! 

For this, you'll need: yellow nail varnish, a black nail art pen (or black sharpie, see this instagram done with sharpie), and various other sharpies if you so wish.

Step 1: Paint your nails yellow.

I painted Model's Own in Luis Lemon over two coats of their Snow White polish.

Step 2: Using a black nail art pen/Sharpie, paint two blobs on your nails for eyes, and a ) for a mouth. I found the best way to do this is to wait for the nail varnish to dry completely (it really does have to be as dry as possible) and then use the pen quite quickly. This way, it's super fast and doesn't get too thick. I practiced on paper before my nails, making it easier when I did it!

You can be as creative as you like, and use sharpies to add in bits of colour (e.g. tongues, tears, cheeks, hearts).

There you have it - the easiest nail art! 

What's your favourite nail art design?

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Rimmel Scandaleyes Rockin' Curves Mascara

I was given this mascara as a present a couple of months ago, and I pretty much forgot about it until a few days ago - but I'm glad I found it! This mascara is one of my new favourites (that's saying something).

The brush is big, very big, and it has a curve to it which makes it slightly different to others on the market. I like the largeness of the brush, it allows it to coat all of your eyelashes in one quick sweep. The mascara itself is very black and dark, and works to volumise (apparently this isn't a word according to spellcheck) and lengthen eyelashes. The formula doesn't flake off during the day, which is a huge plus for me! The only issue I have with it is that it can be a bit too thick, and can go very clumpy. To rectify that, I just brush through my eyelashes with a lengthening mascara to even out the clumps. 

Overall, this mascara earns a 7/10 in my books, and I would definitely recommend it if you're looking for thick, black eyelashes.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Homemade Applesauce

For someone who loves baking, and sugar, and all things unhealthy, I am finding Lent surprisingly easy. I thought that by now I would have suffered at least three sugar-related breakdowns, but it seems that the amount of coursework I had distracted me enough so that I only had coursework-related breakdowns. That's a success in my book.

Anyway, despite succeeding in Lent (I'm saying I've succeeded now even though there's time left because, well, go me I've done it for this long), I still miss baking and creating and eating and eating food that isn't bread. So, I thought I'd make a nice, healthy food that I can snack on without too much guilt, and one that I can possibly use in baking - I have my eye on some applesauce brownies, but I'm unsure about whether they can actually be classed as healthy... They may have to be.

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy and quick this was to make, so if you have some apples lying around, make this! I am having to stop myself from eating the whole jar right now...

Recipe (makes one large jar):
  • 5 cooking/bramley apples
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of half a lemon (omit if you don't like lemon very much)
  • 5 tbp water
  • 50g soft brown sugar (can be omitted if you're really healthy)
  1. Peel, core and dice the apples.
  2. Put apples, water and lemon into a large pan. Cover with a lid and place on a low heat.
  3. After about 5 minutes, add the sugar and stir.
  4. Leave to simmer until the apples are mushy (should not be longer than another 5 minutes).
  5. Remove from the heat, and stir vigorously to remove any lumps. You could even use a potato masher or a blender to make it really smooth - make sure it's cool enough if you want to use a blender.
  6. Allow to cool, place in a jar/container and try not to consume in one sitting.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Maybelline Fit Me Foundation in Shade 115

It has been a while since I reviewed anything, but as I constantly spend my time on beauty blogs I thought I should maybe return to the original aim of this blog - baking and beauty. Also, I bought this foundation and I fell in love, so I thought I should share!

I spotted this on a recent trip to Boots, and the packaging caught my eye - simplistic yet stylish. I was a little apprehensive at the shade choices, the two lightest shades on offer were 115 and 120, which were completely different in colour, tone etc so I opted for the lighter one. Definitely the right choice! The foundation gives a medium coverage, and stays around on your face for most of the day, which makes it a winner in my book. I find that it gives my skin a slightly dewy look, something I love especially in Spring when you want to look a little bit fresher. It blends into skin really easily, and I can't think of any downsides if I'm honest!

Overall, I think I'd give this foundation a solid 8/10, which is pretty high in my books! I have to say, I'm loving Maybelline at the moment (watch out for some more reviews soon).

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Multigrain Loaf

It's been a while. Sorry. Coursework definitely got the better of me over the past few weeks, however that is now over and done with (thank God) and so I just have the great task of revision to focus on! Although, there is still time to make bread. Because why wouldn't there be. It's bread. It's necessary for efficient revision. 

This was part of my bread-making mission during Lent (I've made a whole two loaves of bread... Not too impressive oops) and it was pretty damn tasty. Even though I had Nando's straight before, I still made space for a slice (or two) of bread. Definitely worth it. 

I've forgotten the recipe for this, so please accept my apologies for a lack of everything at the moment! I am planning on actually posting things over the next couple of weeks during my holidays, so watch this space... Also, prepare for the post-Easter baking boom. I cannot wait.