Thursday, January 28, 2010

Shopping online at

I needed to replace my REN cleanser recently and were having a 20% off sale on many of their lines, so it was the perfect excuse to add a few more things to my basket.

REN Calendula and Arctic Berry Ultracalm Cleansing Milk - I think this is my third or fourth bottle of this, so it's safe to say it's a favourite. Removes makeup perfectly, leaves my skin smooth, soft and perfectly calm.

Philip B pH Restorative Detangling Toning Mist - I'm almost finished my MOP Pear Detangler, which I use on my hair when I don't bother with conditioner, so I thought I'd try something new for a change. Haven't used this yet, but will report back when I do.

Philip B GWP - this came free with the Detangling Mist and includes Light-Weight Deep Conditioning Crème Rinse, Scent of Santa Fe Balancing Shampoo and Drop Dead Straightening Baume. I haven't used any Philip B haircare before, so I'm looking forward to trying these out.

Guinot Hydra Tendre Soft Wash-Off Cleansing Cream
- I used this years ago and really liked it then, so thought I'd try it again. Unfortunately it's not just the packaging that has changed - they've also added a horribly strong fragrance too it, which I hate in facial washes. The hazards of shopping online without trying something first...

RMK Creamy Foundation and Super Basic Liquid Concealer - The Creamy Foundation has been a favourite for a few years and is a replacement buy - this is gorgeous on and very comfortable for winter skin. The concealer is a new one - I've tried it out once so far and like it a lot. Very pigmented, but still creamy and easy to blend and lasts all day.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Wrap yourself up in Isabella Oliver

After I posted about Isabella Oliver maternity wear in December, Lucy at Isabella Oliver very kindly offered to send me their Wrap Around Top to try out. I received the top in Plum, which is a very pretty colour and I also love the Sea shade, pictured above (it would be great to see the Scoop Tops also available in these lovely jewel shades).

When I first took this out of the package, I wondered if I'd need a kitsuke, or kimono dresser, as the top looks something like this before you put it on:

However, once you get down to it, it's not too difficult to learn how to wrap the long strips of fabric around your bump and then tie at the waist. You can tie at the side, front or back, according to your preference and while it's easy to wear, it's also a nice option when you want something a little dressier than the Scoop Top. I've been wearing mine with a cami underneath, as it is fairly low cut and I need an extra layer in the current weather. This is also helpful if the wrap around strips separate a little while you're wearing the top and you don't want to risk displaying your bump to the world.

Normally priced at €85, the Wrap Around Top is currently 15% off in the Isabella Oliver sale.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Elle and Vogue in February

Buying magazines is a fairly routine activity, but for some reason I still get a thrill when I pick up a new magazine each month, particularly when there is a lovely cover and the promise of new Spring fashion inside (especially in the middle of The Big Freeze). Today I picked up the February UK editions of Elle and Vogue and both are especially beautiful.

Elle has the edge, I think. Natalie Portman looks lovely and I love what she's wearing, but it's the muted tones of the cover that look fresh and particularly appeal to me.

Vogue jumped out at me for a different reason. Although I don't think I love that dress by itself, the colour combination of lilac and hot pink is really eye catching and full of promise that the snow, ice and slush will soon (I hope) disappear and be replaced by the colours of Spring.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Shiny happy things on an icy cold day

Neither snow, nor ice, nor ungritted secondary roads could conspire to keep the lovely UPS man away today and so I happily took delivery of this box today - can you guess what might be inside?

Maybe the inside of the box will give you a better idea...

And what did this magical box of happiness from Orla Kiely contain? Well, first there was a Tiny Teacup Print Midi Sling Bag in Ink:

And then, the gorgeous Rowan Leather Zip Handbag in Navy:

Apologies for the totally non-arty and unstyled pictures, but I was so excited that I was in a bit of a hurry to take them so I could play with the bags. Maybe later I'll get around to some better ones. The Midi Sling is the perfect size for weekends and shopping and the Rowan will make a great everyday work bag, with plenty of sections and pockets for sorting out the clutter I carry around with me on a daily basis. And until the baby arrives and I can justify getting my hands on the gorgeous new Multi Scribble Stem Print Baby Changing Bag, I'm sure I'll fit plenty of nappies and wipes into it too!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mmmm, cake...

At this time of year most people seem to be making an effort to eat healthily and exercise, but I've decided that cake is a January requirement, what with the cold and the snow. And I always feel better about eating it when I've made it from scratch myself.

This weekend I had some dark chocolate to use, so flipped through the Chocolate section of Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess and settled on the Store Cupboard Chocolate Orange Cake, mainly because it looked so easy.

And it was. You just need to melt down the butter, then mix everything else into it and hey presto, you've got your cake batter. I used Bonne Maman's Three Fruit Marmalade, which gave the cake just a hint of citrus, so don't fear this if you're not a marmalade fan. I'd definitely try this again with a raspberry or cherry jam either. Or maybe apricot.

Keep an eye on this in the oven if you try it, at 50 minutes it was just beginning to look a wee bit overdone on top, but it turned out fine. It might look a bit dry in my photo, but it actually has a nicely balanced texture and is a good cake when you don't want lots of fancy icing or anything like that.


125g of unsalted butter
100g of dark chocolate
300g of good quality orange marmalade
150g of sugar
a pinch of salt
2 large eggs
150g of self-rising flour

Melt the butter slowly in a heavy-bottom saucepan. When it's almost melted, add chocolate pieces, stir and take off the heat. Stir with a wooden spoon, until chocolate has melted.

Add the marmalade, sugar, salt and eggs. Stir thoroughly (it's okay to leave small visible chunks of marmalade in the batter).

Add sifted flour, stir and pour into a buttered and floured 20-22 cm loose bottomed cake tin or 2lb loaf tin.

Bake at 180˚C/350.F/Gas 4 oven for 45-50 minutes, until the cake has set (test with a knife or wooden stick). Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.