My mate Cam dropped off a box of carrots and kiwifruit the other day. I have no idea where he got them from and, frankly, I’m too nervous to ask: I might get arrested. Suffice to say there were enough carrots in there that I’ve been whipping up enough carrot related dishes to the point I’m wondering if we’ll turn orange. That happened to my little brother once when he was a toddler. Crack up. Anyway, top on the lists of carrot culinary delights was my tried and tested cafe style carrot cake recipe that I’ve made on and off over the years (more years than I care to admit, cough. Shit. I’m old).
This is one of those recipes that’s been handed around and I love going to a mate’s house to find they’ve made it (unless it’s better than my version… Then I feel aggrieved). So if you’ve been on the hunt for a top notch carrot cake recipe, look no further, I’ve got you sorted.
This cake is moist, packed full of flavour and texture and super-filling (I know we shouldn’t be getting full on carrot cake, but good luck with that after you’ve made this). Yeah, it’s delicious. It’s also super healthy because it contains vegetables. Snort. Oh, it’s also beautifully decorated, if I do say so myself. As you may know I detest decorating cakes with a passion, so this is cake decorating at its best: Get some stuff and sprinkle it on. Easy and effective. Who can resist a pretty looking cake, especially when there is no art or skill to it?
Lastly, as with a lot of my recipes, this is definitely one where you can substitute ingredients. Don’t like walnuts? Use chopped almonds. Not a date lover? Use raisins or craisins or even diced apricots. Can’t be arsed with faffing around decorating the cake – just use shredded coconut. Or don’t decorate the cake. Let the icing shine. You get my drift.
I did some spring cleaning last weekend. Actually, that’s a total exaggeration. I blasted the front of the house with a hose to get rid of the cobwebs and then supervised the ten year old while he cleaned the outdoor furniture. After this burst of energy I moved on to having a makeup clean out and updating my makeup bag for spring. As you’ve probably gathered by now, I own a heck-tonne of makeup and regularly I put products on rotation, least I stick to the same ‘old look’*. The start of spring heralds a little more thought than my usual “oh, haven’t used this for a while, I’ll give this a go” efforts. In thinking through what I look for in my spring makeup products, I realised this would make a good blog post!
So, here’s five tips to get some spring in your makeup bag!
Lippy – Think BOLD
Four years ago I owned eight lipsticks and they were all. ,more or less, the same shade of nude. Honest – ask my husband!
These days it’s a different story: I am a raving fan of the bold lip and berate my former self for not getting my big girl bold lip pants on sooner. There’s something sexy and alluring about a woman that wears a bold lip. It’s also a statement of confidence and frankly, there’s nothing sexier than a confident woman. Oh and it’ll change an outfit: You won’t need new clothes. The first time I wore a bold lip, I won’t lie, I felt so self-conscious – I had to work up to it. But I broke through that ridiculousness: Now there’s no stopping me.
Lipstick colours are such a personal thing, I’d totally recommend rocking up to your local pharmacy or Farmers, looking for a sales assistant who has MAKEUP ON THAT YOU LIKE (this is important) and say “Please help. I want a bold lipstick. What would suit me?” That’s totes what I do and how I’ve found my two bold lip favourites (MAC’s Up the Amp and Body Shop’s Damson in Distress).
I’ll let you in on a secret too, if you are bloody knackered and look tired, a bold lip will detract from tired eyes: People will focus on your lips. (more…)
I’m already a die-hard fan of My Food Bag. So, when their new kid rolled off the block, Bargain Box, I was keen to give it a whirl. I’d already read a fair bit of hype and we were keen to see how it stacked up. What did we think? How does it compare to My Food Bag? Keep reading!
I’ve had to work really hard to cull this list down to ‘just five’ products for Lou’s Faves – August. It’s been months since I did one of these posts (on account of my blogging holiday which was crucial to allow me to ‘defrag’). Subsequently there’s a bunch of stuff I’m itching to share with you – so restraint was required! Here’s what made the cull.
Radiant Vivid Shimmer Brick – Makeup Revolution
Spoiler alert… This is headed for my Favourite products of 2016 blog post!
This shimmer brick was an impulse purchase back in June, while I was watching the Brexit drama unfold on the telly. After half a bottle of red to drown my sorrows (I’m first generation Kiwi, both my parents are Brits) I realised the value of the pound was falling plummeting against other currencies. This made it an opportune time to go shopping. Bloody ASOS had crashed, so I had a mini spend up (NZ$60) on Makeup Revolution’s website. Little did I know Beauty Bliss, here in En-zed, is a stockist. Opps.
I’ve often eyed up Bobbi Brown’s shimmer brick but the NZ$66 price tag makes my bum pucker, particularly as I don’t really need it. When I spotted Makeup Revolution’s shimmer brick version, I thought it looked like a good dupe and, for $5.40 I was willing to give it a crack.
Oh. I’m so glad I got it. I’ve worn the shimmer brick most days since it arrived and it’s seen my much loved MAC Soft & Gentle highlighter be banished to the back of my cupboard. How do you wear it? There’s a few options. I generally sweep a small blush brush through all five shades on the compact and dust it lightly on my cheekbone, where the light usually hits the face. The result is a gorgeous glow and I look more alive (as opposed to knackered after six hours sleep which is all I get far too often). I also wear it just as a blush and, get this, as an eyeshadow. Yup, I pack the colour (a mix, or sometimes just one shade) all over my eyelids, on top of an eye primer. Next, I sweep a matt brown colour through my crease: Good to go! Sorry, no picture of me wearing it, I can’t get a photo that does it justice. You’ll have to trust me!
Tip: If you have laughter lines/crows feet/wrinkles like me, make sure you pop this just on the cheekbones, not too high up under your eyes. Light sparkly products attract light – and attention… I dunno about you: But I don’t want to be drawing extra attention to ‘dem lines.
This winter will go down as the winter of mulled wine for us. I’ve been obsessed – both with the taste and the cooking smell that fills the kitchen. If we get invited over to a mate’s for dinner, I rock up with some. Nowhere to go? No worries, hubby and I will share a batch. Oh yes, I have all the hallmarks of a good pisshead. I’ve tried to give up alcohol but I’ve decided life is just too short and, frankly, I won’t bother again. I’ll try my best with moderation.
The thing with mulled wine is that you don’t really need to follow a recipe. I mix it up every time using whatever cheap (but grunty) red plonk I’ve found on sale. I’ve added bay leaves, cardamon powder, substituted mandarins for oranges, used lime instead of lemon. See? You can absolutely play around. On the note of cheap plonk, don’t dip into your bank account for a top shelf red – think cheap. I’ve also been playing around with the abundance of spices I have in my pantry. I’ve even added port (boom – it’s good) and on a different day, cider: I reckon you’d have to try pretty hard to go wrong (for Pete’s sake, touch some wood if you are a kitchen disaster).
The first time I had mulled wine was when I was 19 years old, living in the UK. I spent my first Christmas in London with four Aussie mates who were house-sitting. We were left in charge of a gorgeous home on the strict understanding that we were “not to break anything”. My mate Kate whipped up a batch of mulled wine and poured the boiling hot delicious concoction into beautiful crystal wine glasses… Which instantly shattered. She did this not once, but twice: Some would say she’s not a fast learner.
What happened? We spent Boxing Day trawling High Street Kensington searching for replacement crystal wine glasses (which turned out to be a wedding present…). As good bitches, we agreed to split the cost of the replacements between us and, of course, Sod’s bloody law, we couldn’t find exact matches, so we had to buy 12 new ones to replace the whole set. I can’t remember how much we spent, but, on account of earning £4.50 per hour in retail at the time, I ate two minute noodles for about a month afterwards coz I was so skint! Luckily I went on to live in Germany not long after: My sole experience with mulled wine was improved drastically and happier memories were lodged! (more…)
When I got an email from The Best Beauty Box Ever to ask me if I’d like to receive a complementary beauty box to review, I tried to play it cool, I really did…. Fail: I was jumping with excitement and my email reply had a number of OTT exclamation marks. I actually said YES PLEASE!!!! in capital letters. I’m so uncool.
I’ve had my Best Ever Beauty Box for nearly three weeks now and I’ve had the chance to give all of the products a jolly good test drive, Here’s my thoughts which are, as usual, honest and unbiased, albeit a bit too wordy. Sigh.
Wait: What the hell is a Beauty Box?
Ordinarily the concept with beauty boxes is that you sign up and, for a set fee each month, you receive a package of beauty products (which might be samples, or full sized products). Usually you end up getting a bunch of products at a much lower cost than if you buy the products individually which can amount to a significant saving. I’ve been chomping at the bit to to try a beauty box. However I’ve been reluctant to commit on more than a one-off basis. My reluctance also was because, often, you don’t know what products you are going to get. But wait: The Best Beauty Box Ever is different! How so? (more…)
This cheeseball recipe is another one of those recipes that I’ve made on and off over a decade. It’s a recipe I actually got off my Aunty Lois. She’s a great cook and one day I asked her what her best recipe was. She paused and then said ‘my cheeseball’ – naturally I begged for the recipe and lucky she obliged! I can’t help myself, I’ve put my own spin on it over time. It’s become a great ‘go to’ recipe, particularly if we have people call in unexpectedly or at short notice as it’s something you can whip up without too much difficulty for nibbles: I always have cream cheese in the fridge and some salami (that’s a staple in my son’s lunchbox). Note, in these situations I freeze the ball instead of chilling it in the fridge to speed things up.
Well, we’ve been on a reduced income since I started my new job and subsequently now work part-time, so frankly, pulling out an extravagant cheeseboard groaning with a stinky Kikorangi blue, vintage cheddar, double cream brie, cumin gouda, stuffed baby peppers and a selection of gourmet deli meats is no longer in my budget. That’s a bit of a bugger because a cheeseboard, as odd as this probably sounds for someone who loves cooking, is one of my favourite things to make, as well as eat, noting it’s not particularly conducive to being Weight Watchers friendly at the moment! Anyway, since we’ve been on a reduced income I’ve totes ditched the cheeseboard and, instead, pulled out this old school favourite cheeseball recipe a few times as a ‘nibbley dish’. It always lands well with the punters and you can serve it up with any cracker, or even a nice loaf of ciabatta, meats, anything goes. I love it on dried apricots tucked into a slice of salami, but I’m a bit random like that. On that note, there’s a heap of ways you can variate this recipe, be sure to check out the notes at the bottom of the recipe below.
Lastly, as the recipe below makes two balls (snigger… I’m so smutty and immature) I often keep one in the fridge (not rolled in nuts) and then stuff it into chicken breasts a few days later. I wrap the breasts in streaky bacon, pan fry them till they are golden on both sides, then bake them until the chicken is cooked. This is next level stuffed chicken breast – I promise.
Cough. April finished up a wee while ago… Sorry about that! Better late than never with my April faves blog post though, right?
Trilogy Age-Proof Nutrient Plus Firming Serum
Trilogy’s Age-Proof Nutrient Plus Firming Serum was an impulse purchase during Farmers Beauty Week. Usual story: My self-restraint sucks… The discount was too good to pass up. Standing at the Trilogy stand I vaguely recalled my friend Kellie had been waxing lyrical about a product from Trilogy’s Age-Proof range, only I couldn’t remember which one. So, I got this one. I’d heard nothing about this product, so I truly was flying blind.
I’ve been using this bad boy morning and night (after toning and before moisturising) all over my face, neck and decolletage for about six weeks and I adore it. Packed full of natural ingredients this is a lightweight serum that’s a nourishing pick-me-up for skin. What ingredients? There’s natural skin brighteners like green tea, licorice and mulberry. These extracts help to even skin tone so your complexion appears more radiant. You’ll also find hyaluronic acid, known as nature’s ‘moisture magnet’, which is deeply moisturising and plumps the skin. Trilogy, by the way, uses hyaluronic acid derived from a process involving the fermentation of wheat (that’s all getting a bit beyond me…).
The packaging alleges the serum will soften fine lines and wrinkles and I reckon it does just that. My face definitely looks plumper and softer when I’m wearing this, like it’s had a bit of an energy boost. Usually when I look at my face in the mirror, stripped bare, I think “dear God”. Lately I’ve been looking in the mirror when my face is all nudie thinking that I look a little better. Given I’m not using any new products in my beauty regime, it seems fair that this serum could be the culprit. Importantly for me, as I wear this serum under my makeup during the day, it’s non-greasy and absorbs well. My makeup sits ‘sweet as’ on top of it.
A repeat purchase? You bettcha. If you want a list of ingredients and the full product description, click here. Price: NZ$48.90 (I got it for less as it was on sale). (more…)