Six it up Girls!

Hello my darlings, it’s my favourite advent day today so I’m absolutely loving life.

It’s a day I’ve been waiting for, for 3 whole years!

It’s the day that Stila makes an appearance for the first time in the world of M&S advent calendars.

And it’s not a naff gift either, it’s bloody brilliant!

Yeah Charlottes product for day 6 is good too, but nothing can beat Stila today.

So today’s M&S item is a gorgeous pinky nude liquid lipstick called Perla, I don’t think I mentioned it’s by STILA.

This lipstick has their amazing ‘Stay All Day’ formula so it literally comes off when you want it to, and that’s it. It normally lasts through breakfast and lunch for me. There’s a bit of wear and tear after that but one top up throughout the day is better than any other lippy I’ve used.

And the colour is just perfect! Awesome for work or college, but teamed with a sexy smokey eye it’s also gorge for nights out too!

And what’s more annoying than being on a night out and topping up your lippy every 5 seconds? Maybe being barged on the dance floor every 5 seconds but that comes with the clubbing territory darlings.

So onto CT. today she has given me a miracle. A multi miracle to be precise.

This balm is very very good. I mean it’s a tip top product with LOADS of uses, and it’s brilliant at all of them. I’ve used it as a night cream, a mask and a cleansing balm. If a multitasking busy mum was a product, then she would be this.

This balm makes your skin sooooo soft. And you need the smallest amount (unless you’re using it as a mask, in which case go to town)

However, as good as it is… it’s doesn’t beat the lipstick. So M&S definitely win today. There’s nothing about this product that I can complain about. I don’t even mind that it’s a mini, I’ll take Stila whichever way I can get it 😁

Top tip; use a night cream (or CT’s multi balm if you have it) on your lips overnight before you put this lipstick on in the morning, that way your lips are supercharged with hydration, and the lipstick will definitely ‘Stay All Day’ 😘

See you tomorrow Beauties,

all my love, Sophs xo

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20 sleeps to go

Happy Tuesday beauties!! Yeah I realise I missed yesterday but I figured if I was going to have a day off, I’d do it properly.

That mainly consisted of eating mince pies and lounging around in the boyf’s hoody.

But today I’m feeling rested and refreshed, ready to talk Beauty. We have 4 gorgeous products to discuss, and they’re all absolute corkers I can honestly say.

M&S gave me a Gatineau Advanced Rejuvenating Cream yesterday, and a Rodial Dragons Blood Sculpting Gel today.

Both are perfect for levelling up your skincare regime. You literally can’t go wrong with these two. If you want younger looking, smoother skin… these are going to be your new best mates.

So, Gatineau. This cream is formulated with their famous youth activating molecule, Mélatogénine. Combined with marine collagen, you have the ultimate product to not only provide hydration for even the driest of skin types, but to smooth and firm your skin too.

It’s available to purchase for £86 per 50ml. Ouch.

The Rodial sculpting gel isn’t cheap to buy either – but again, it’s a real staple for any skincare regime that wants that plumped up, lifted look.

This is a treatment gel, so I’d use this before you moisturise to get the maximum results. I’ve been using this for a while and I always warm a pea sized amount into my hands first, then press into my face rather than rubbing it in. That way it’s going to penetrate the dermal layers rather than just sit on top.

And it’s only £1 cheaper than Gatineau so they are the pinnacle of luxury skincare products.

However I have given these 2 to my nan to try out (I did this last week), since her skin will show the full effects of them compared to mine, and she can’t get over how glowy and lifted her skin looks. Rodial has made her skin feel tighter and firmer, and the cream had just finished the job by smoothing and hydrating. Every box ticked!

Now onto Charlottes gifts over the last 2 days. Yesterday was a soft eye liner in the shade ‘Amber Moon’, and today was her brilliant Full Fat Lashes Mascara.

Now as gorgeous as these two are, for £150 I expected the makeup to be full size. The skincare and lotions I expect to be deluxe samples/travel minis but the makeup? A half size pencil and a deluxe sample of the mascara.

Slightly disappointed in that but that doesn’t hinder the actual products.

They are both absolutely gorgeous! The eye liner is super soft but stays on all day, and the mascara creates that volume to mimic a false lash effect. Perfect for any look.

Although, you can creat the easiest smokey eye on Earth by drawing a rough line along your upper lash line with amber moon, and smudging in with your finger or a brush. Then just apply two coats of the mascara and you’re good to go.

The thought of creating a Smokey eye look scares some people so this is a fool proof way to achieving it!

I think M&S win the last 2 days because the value of the product is super duper high, not to mention the size issue with CT’s products. Bit of a no brainer.

See you back her tomorrow for more advent opening darlings!

Lots of love, sophs xo

3 French Kisses…

Yeah okay this pun is an old fave of mine, but I couldn’t resist it. Plus who would be mad enough to turn down 3 French kisses at Christmas?

Not me!

So the 3rd doors of my gorge advents revealed 2 body care products this morning which actually work together beautifully.

M&S gave me a Nuxe Huile de Douche Prodigeux (scented shower oil) and Charlotte gave me her gorgeous Supermodel Body lotion. Which both give your skin the most spectacular glow!

So the shower oil isn’t a greasy oil, you’d wonder how that actually cleans your body if it was. It’s actually a beautifully perfumed, silky oil that turns into a luxurious milk when you apply to wet skin. Which is moisturising as you go! So if you’re a busy lady with no time to put your body cream on after the shower, this is the perfect product for you because it washes and moisturises all at once!

And since it’s winter and this horrid British weather draws every bit of moisture from your skin, keeping your body nourished and hydrated is a must!

Plus the gorgeous shimmer leaves your skin looking even more radiant and glowing! What a bonus, girls!

Now onto Charlotte’s Supermodel Body. Not hers specifically, I’m not sure you could bottle that.

This is a product she used to cheat the catwalk. She would use this on her models; applied down the front of the legs creates the illusion of being taller and having longer pins because it’s highlighting the centre, as well as on their décolleté and arms.

If you used this after using the Nuxe Shower Oil, your body will have so much glow you’ll be practically gleaming 😎

However, I personally I find this very similar to the Rosie lotion that we received on day 1 of advent, and that it is only a fraction of the price of CT’s. Plus in my opinion it smells soooo much nicer.

So M&S definitely win today, purely because the product is unique, worth the price and a lot more people will need it in their life.

Short and sweet today, see you tomorrow Beauties 😘 xo

On the First Day of Christmas…

So it begins.

I told you December was within touching distance didn’t I Beauties!

And what better day to fall on than Fri-yay, no less.

So the first day of Christmas brings many joys to my household. 1 of them being the glorious ritual of putting up the decs. So naturally the glitter has found every available surface to settle on, which my little puppy has discovered he likes to eat 😑

However my personal favourite ritual is the opening of the advent calendars. Beauty advents are obviously why you guys are here, but let me tell you my chocolate advent addiction is reaching an all time high (or low. Defo a low since I’ve currently got 3 on the go).

So hopefully you all remembered your preferred bevvy; boozy or not (shoutout to all you guys at work for the weekend reading this on your tea break 😘)

Now let’s get started! Kicking off with Charlotte Tilbury’s fabulous magic box.

Firstly I need to talk about the price. £150.

150 smackers for a 12 day Beauty box sounds like pure madness when it’s put like that. Plus the products are mainly minis too! Makes me wonder if I’ve got my money’s worth or not…🤔

This box doesn’t actually have the traditional numbered days of advent so I technically can’t really call it a calendar. However it does give you the freedom to pick and choose what drawer you open, and when. But I can safely say that box is definitely staying on my dresser as a beauty organiser once Christmas is over.

Just look how beautiful it is!! 😍

So box number 1 gave me the gorgeous gift of WONDER GLOW.

I’ve been using this as a base before my makeup mostly, since it’s a light textured moisturising cream; however it has the most stunning light reflecting particles which gives your skin such a stunning, glowy, healthy complexion.
l drop in with my foundation to give my look a bit of a lift.
uct! but i just wish they had made the size a bit bigger than 30 ml!

But as if 1 Beauty Advent was enough?!

My second box is from the one and only M&S.

Worth a whopping £250 (however you only pay £35) And with 25 Little houses of products, I know which box is already my fave.

So House number 1 opened up to reveal one of my personal faves. The Amazing Radiance Body Glow Lotion by Rosie for Autograph.

This lightly tinted lotion is beautifully fragranced using Rosie’s own perfume. Combined with its light shimmer, it gives any skin tone a gorgeous warmth and glow without looking streaky or orange, or making your clothes all gross and dirty! Just what everybody needs for this time of year when everything starts to look a bit flat and dull. My little tip would be to use on your décolleté for a flattering highlighted glow without the need for fake tan.

Both products are very impressive today! But M&S wins my vote since the product size is classed as a travel size (50ml) rather than CT’s Deluxe sample (30ml). I’d have thought for the price point, they might have been more generous.

Anyway I’ll see you all tomorrow Beauties, all my love, Sophs xo

Festive Series 2017

Welcome back beauties! Super glad to be writing to you all again.
And if I have any new readers then Hey! I’m Sophie and I have got you all covered with Christmas this year.
Gifts? yep. Baking? yep. Anything beauty related? double YEP.

So in my opinion you should go grab that box of choccies thats in your cupboard
(you know the ones your mum has reserved for crimbo) plus your preferred tipple (mines prosecco if you’ve got any spare, cheers ) then put your comfiest pj’s on and relax into my little bubble of festive coziness.

It’s been a long time since my last Festive Series so I have definitely ramped it up this year. You can all expect the most sexy, decadent baking recipes every week in December plus a mini daily blog comparing High-end vs High Street Beauty Advent Calendars.

And when I say I’ve ramped it up; I don’t mean Benefit, Clarins or Zoella. I’m talking full scale Charlotte Tilbury’s Naughty or Nice Magic Box. all £150 of it.

I know I’m mad, but I’m so obsessed with that brand I just couldn’t stop myself.

However good old M&S is still the staple High Street Advent, At a very reasonable £35!(Even though it’s worth £100 more than the CT box, I’ll explain all soon darlings)

So watch this space my lovelies, December is within touching distance! So come back on Friday the 1st for the start of all the festive fun!

See you soon, and don’t forget the prosecco next time 😉

All my love, Sophs xo

GINGERBREAD DOUGHNUTS! 

The third recipe of The December Project sees me going out of the box with baking… And not actually baking anything. I KNOW. This week sees the return of the inevitable Christmas Cake Curd from M&S plus I have had to be a real health guru (ha) and deep fry since the recipe is for…. GINGERBREAD DOUGHNUTS. And I don’t care what anyone says, baked doughnuts just aren’t as good as real, hot, fluffy, fried doughnuts. 

  
As gorgeous as they are and as wonderful as the idea of combining gingerbread flavours with a doughnut, I can’t take full credit. The idea for this recipe came from the one and only queen of the kitchen. In my house anyway. It’s my nan! 
So it was last week when I was a little stuck for inspiration, I wanted to do something new so I decided to ask my nan if she had any thoughts on what my recipe could be. She just instantly, barely giving me time to finish the sentence, yelled ‘CHRISTMAS DOUGHNUTS’. And thus, the inspiration for gingerbread spiced doughnuts was born. So nan gets the credit for thinking them up, but I can’t even take full credit for making them since I bought in my trusty work best friend Kelly (Instagram @kellyrusso19) to be my sous chef. And what a fantastic job she did.
  
So down to the nitty gritty; the recipe for these doughnuts is very easy, it just takes a hell of a long time inbetween making the dough and actually frying them. 

Ingredients

Yield: 20-24 doughnuts

For the doughnuts

  • 500g plain flour
  • 7g dried yeast
  • 4tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp light soft brown sugar 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 250ml warm milk
  • 50g melted butter
  • 1 beaten egg

For the frying/filling/coating

  • 2 litres vegetable oil
  • 350g golden caster sugar
  • 50g Demerara sugar
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • Pinch of ground cloves (optional)
  • Pinch of extra cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tub fresh vanilla custard (not long life)
  • 2 tbsp M&S Christmas cake curd

METHOD

I find it easier to use a stand mixer with a dough hook to mix up this dough since I can’t be bothered to knead dough for 5 minutes and ruin my nails. However you can just use a spoon to get it combined then knead it vigorously for 5-6 minutes on a lightly floured surface. 

  1. Measure out all your doughnut ingredients that I’ve listed above in the top list and whack them all in you stand mixer bowl and let it knead away with your dough hook attachment for 5-6 minutes. After this time it should have formed a ball and will look visibly smoother and when you pull it off the hook it will feel very elastic and bouncy. If you’re kneading by hand and it’s not quite elastic enough, persevere until it does. 
  2. Place the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with cling film and then a tea towel and leave in a dry warm place to prove for an hour until it has doubled in volume.
  3. Then make little golf ball size shapes with your dough, ensuring it is tightly rolled, and place them on a floured tray with lots of space inbetween each one. Now cover with a tea towel and prove again for about half an hour until they have puffed up.                    
  4. Now forget about the dough balls for now and concentrate on mixing your sugar, and custard filling. Measure out your golden caster sugar, Demerara sugar and spices of choice from the list above and mix them well in a shallow bowl.
  5. In a separate bowl pour out your custard and use a fork to mix in the Christmas cake curd well until there are no lumps.
  6. Next heat up your oil to 160-165 degrees celcius. Or if you don’t have a temperature probe just drop a small piece of dough in, and if it bubbles around the edge but doesn’t fizz rapidly then it’s good to go. If it’s fizzing, it’s too hot.
  7. Now fry your doughnuts in small batches for 2-3 minutes on either side. Then, working quite quickly, toss them in your spiced sugar to ensure it sticks. Then let them cool slightly before filling. 
  8. Then use a chopstick to puncture a hole in each of your doughnuts and wiggle it around to make room for lots of custard. Now fill a piping bag with your custard and fill each one.
  9. Plate them up and scoff them all before anyone else finds them.

MINCE PIE CUPCAKES

  
I think the real milestone that every person will experience in life is the moment their youth ends and the scary prospect of being an adult begins.When you actually take time to choose a bottle of wine instead of opting for the cheapest (it was lambrini in my case). Also when you’re relieved to hear that your friend has cancelled plans so you get to stay in and consume said wine.

Then the main milestone, the December when you go from hating a mince pie as a child to tasting one and thinking ‘there’s brandy in this, I like it’ and then continuing to inhale a box a day thereafter.

I make mince pies every year so I wanted to be a little innovative. I saw a concept of making a cupcake with a pie theme which was pumpkin pie cupcakes. So being the patriotic old Brit that I am I wanted to create a British version; none other than the Mince Pie Cupcake. And let me tell you now, these cakes are festive numbers that will blow your socks off. 
A buttery shortcrust pastry base nestled underneath a Beautifully spiced all butter sponge, a hidden surprise centre of luxury brandy laced mincemeat, topped off with a silky festive buttercream and cute little pastry leaves.

It sounds like a lot but each component of this cake brings something to the table. The crisp short pastry and tart mince combined with the soft cake and smooth cream – it’s a party in your mouth. But one of those luxuriously exclusive parties where everyone’s draped over a Chaise lounge elegantly whilst sipping a martini.

The yield for this recipe is 12 cupcakes but for the festive period I’m sure you’ll need more than that for a party so feel free to double all measurements to make 24-26.

Ingredients

For the Pastry:

  • 125g cold diced butter
  • 250g plain flour
  • 90g caster sugar 
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • Zest of 1 orange

For the Cake:

  • 175g butter or margerine
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 75g light soft brown sugar
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 3/4 tspn ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tspn ground ginger
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/2 tspn mixed spice 
  • Pinch of crushed sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk 
  • 12 tspn sweet mincemeat

For the Buttercream:

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 3 heaped tablespoons M&S Christmas Cake Curd
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Method

Making the pastry:

  1. Preheat your oven to 18oc/gas mark 4 and line a 12 hole cupcake tin with cupcake cases of your choice and a large baking tray with baking paper.
  2. To make the pastry rub the cold cubed butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then stir in the sugar, zest and salt, and combine to a dough with the egg, however do not overwork it! Once the dough has come together, roll into a ball and wrap in cling film. Then put the dough in the fridge for half an hour to rest up and relax.  
  3. Once the half hour is up roll out your dough on a floured surface and cut out 12 circles with a round cutter slightly bigger than your cupcake cases – just incase they shrink. Also, using your circle cutter, cut out 24 leaf shapes and use a knife to make leafy impressions that will bake into the pastry as it bakes. Place all circles and leaves onto your lined baking tray and egg wash the leaves but not the circles as this will cause them to puff.   
  4. Bake in the centre of your oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown on top. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool for 10 minutes
  5. Now put each of the discs into your lined cupcake tin.

Making the cake:

  1. Using a stand or hand held mixer, in a large bowl beat together the butter, both sugars, eggs, flour, baking powder, orange zest and spices for about 2 minutes until the mix is smooth and you can see the air bubbles popping. 
  2. Spoon your mixture into your cupcake tin with the discs at the bottom until each one is 3/4 of the way full. 
  3. Bake in your preheated oven for 20-22 minutes or until you can push them with your finger and the sponge just springs back naturally.
  4. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.

Making the Buttercream:

  1. While your cakes are cooling, in a large bowl and using your electric mixer, whip up your softened butter until it looks paler in colour and a lot smoother in consistency.
  2. Add your icing sugar in two stages, mixing well between each addition.
  3. Add in your Christmas cake curd and milk and whisk for roughly  30 seconds until well combined and fluffy. 
  4. Before piping your cream, make a small hole in each of your cakes using a small knife or spoon and spoon in a teaspoon of mincemeat.    
  5. Now pipe your cream using a piping bag and a nozzle of your choice, and decorate with your pastry leaves.
  6. Dust with icing sugar, for presentation purposes of course. 
  7. Eat them. Eat them all.   

So please give them a go! Bake them, upload your pictures on Instagram/Twitter and tag me! Let me know how this recipe worked for you! 

Instagram/Twitter – @soph__austin