What I've Been Reading Lately: May Books Roundup

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

What I've Been Reading Lately: May Books Roundup
A round-up of the books that I've been reading this month:-
The Story of Junk by Linda Yablonsky
The Story of Junk by Linda Yablonsky

Contemporary / Drugs Subculture: "New York City. March 1986. The world is made of junk: junk bonds, junk food, junk powder. At least, that's how it seems to a woman in a downtown walk-up, where every day for five years she's been opening her door to people engaged in the culture of the moment."

From most pop culture books that I've read, the 80s sounded like a really bad time to be in New York if you weren't on heroin and a really bad time to be in New York if you were. I have no idea if either was true, but Yablonsky's The Story of Junk makes for a thrilling read nonetheless. 

Set in downtown New York, everything feels hot and dirty, and heroin is the drug of choice for many. For two young women in love, it starts off as a party/social drug but soon develops into a habit, which then takes over their lives as they turn to dealing it to friends and junkies. The cash is coming in thick and fast, but their world soon comes crashing down when a someone they know tips off a DEA agent and they get busted. But who was it?

The Story of Junk is a well-written, fast-paced thriller with plenty of dark downward spirals amongst the highs. It's gritty and very bleak in places (there's certainly no sugarcoating going on in here), as you'd expect which makes it a compelling read overall, but some parts felt a little rushed. [3/5]

 Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis
Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis

Horror / Contemporary: "Bret Ellis, the narrator of Lunar Park, is a writer whose first novel Less Than Zero catapulted him to international stardom while he was still in college. In the years that followed he found himself adrift in a world of wealth, drugs, and fame, as well as dealing with the unexpected death of his abusive father. Now he doesn't know who he is."

Ellis' characters are almost always the classic anti-hero types that somehow evolve into someone that you just love to hate, and his bitterly awesome satirical prose is addictive to read. Like a lot of his work, Lunar Park delves deep into the human psyche and uncovers some of our worst personality traits, yet this one is a real head-fuck on a level that's beyond a lot of contemporary stuff that I've ever read.

In Lunar Park, the author essentially becomes one of his own characters, in this bizarre mash-up of semi-autographical accounts, blended with some downright horror fiction. It starts off fairly normal enough (for a BBE novel anyhow), as the reader follows the life of a young critically acclaimed author (i.e Bret Easton Ellis) coming to terms with the pressures and pleasures of achieving such high levels of fame and notoriety in such a short period of time. The story then begins its downward spiral into despair as normal suburban living doesn't work out for the author, and instead, a dark psychological horror ensues with evil ghosts, a crazy demonic Furby (yes, really!) and even Patrick Bateman himself pops up for all the shits and giggles as the fictional Ellis' life turns into something resembling a living nightmare.

Lunar Park is a brilliant tale of the American suburban family dream going horribly wrong and fans of Ellis will no doubt lap it up just like I did. [4/5]

Cut by Patricia McCormick
Cut by Patricia McCormick

Young Adult / Mental Health: "Callie cuts herself. Never too deep, never enough to die. But enough to feel the pain. Enough to feel the scream inside. Now she's at Sea Pines, a "residential treatment facility" filled with girls struggling with problems of their own and Callie doesn't want to have anything to do with them."

As you may have already guessed by the title, the main subject matter revolves around self-harming and Cut is told as a first-person account by our protagonist, Callie. She's a 15-year-old girl who cuts herself as a way of coping with the numerous problems that herself and her family are trying to deal with. Callie's mum finds out about the self-harming and sends her to Sea Pines, a private rehabilitation facility for troubled teens. In Sea Pines, Callie's surrounded by girls who are seeking treatment for a range of problems such as eating disorders and substance abuse, and she's encouraged to talk about her issues in group shares, but Callie never speaks to anyone.

Instead, she just listens to the conversations around her, observing her surroundings, and it's from this perspective that we get to really know Callie and begin to understand what's going on with her. Crammed into just over 150 pages, Cut is a YA novel with a lot of substance and heart - you really feel for Callie and I was completely engrossed in the book to see if she gets better. [4/5]

Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk
Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk

Horror / Transgressive Fiction: "Carl Streator is a reporter investigating Sudden Infant Death Syndrome for a soft-news feature. After responding to several calls with paramedics, he notices that all the dead children were read the same poem from the same library book the night before they died."

Lullaby is the fourth book by Chuck Palahniuk that I've now read, and I'd say it's quickly become my second favourite novel by him after Fight Club

The story follows a journalist named Carl Streator, who is researching a feature on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. He unearths a pattern of deaths that have occurred after the children were read a seemingly innocent lullaby from a poetry book, and he quickly realises that this is how he accidentally killed his own wife and child over 20 years ago. Carl becomes hellbent on finding and destroying every single copy of this poetry book to prevent any more deaths, and teams up with a real estate agent who has also discovered this chilling fact and wants to help.

The pair embark on a crazy road trip, resulting in an absurd, fast-paced black comedy told in Palahniuk's much-loved satirical and often deadpan tone. It made me laugh and cringe at the same time, whilst being horrified at some of the events that unfold. Definitely one for all the fans of contemporary transgressive fiction who like their books sprinkled with a heavy dose of weird horror. [4/5]

Success by Martin Amis
Success by Martin Amis

Contemporary: "Bind two fosters brothers with ties of class hatred, sexual rivalry and unrequited love in a tiny London flat, throw in a disloyal girlfriend and a spectacularly unstable sister and you have Amis' answer to a modern-day Jacobean revenge comedy".

Having read a handful of Amis' novels, I was already familiar with his prose and the way that he often likes to take his characters (and the readers) on a journey to some of the most depraved parts of the human psyche. But Success was sadly a chore for me to get through as it lacked a lot of the dark wit and humour that I was hoping for.

The lacklustre storyline of the two foster brothers, both from wildy different backgrounds (Gregory from the posh, successful upper classes and Terry from the unlucky, weary working classes), has its ups and downs, but mostly feels too forced and contrived in many parts. Disappointing! I'd recommend reading Money or London Fields instead. [2/5]

What have you been reading lately?

For more book reviews, ratings and to see what I'm reading next, add me on Goodreads.

May Empties: Products I've Used Up

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

May Empties: Products I've Used Up
Another month is rapidly coming to an end, so it's time for me to dig out the basket that I keep all of my Empties in and share its contents with you all! Here's everything that I've managed to use up recently - a good mix of skincare and body care, and lots of favourites of course.

DHC Rich Eye Zone Care Pack*
I call these the 'superhero' eye masks because they cover most of the eye area including the lid - you can check out my original review here to see what I mean - and I think they're fantastic. This is the second pack that I've gone through, and although I do tend to reserve them for special occasions, they're great for any time that you need a quick fix to reduce puffiness and make you look more awake. Repurchase? Yes.

Conscious Skincare Pure Body Polish*   
A lovely and simple, but effective, fragrance-free body scrub that's made from just two natural and organic ingredients; vegetable glycerine and sugar. Does the job and does it well. Repurchase? Maybe - I generally prefer scrubs that have some kind of natural fragrance in them, but I did like the simplicity of this one.

STARSKIN Brightening After-Party Bio-Cellulose Second Skin Face Mask*
I've had the pleasure of trying out a lot of sheet masks from STARSKIN over the past year, and their Brightening mask is definitely one of my favourites. It does what it says it'll do and really helps to brighten and perk up a dull or tired complexion. I love the bio-cellulose material too, which makes it fit like a 'second skin', so no more sliding around or falling off! Repurchase? Yes. 

Kneipp Herbal Bath Back Comfort Devil's Claw 
Another favourite of mine - if I've overdone it with Yoga or Pilates, or simply had a long and tiring day, this stuff is amazing. It instantly relaxes and soothes your muscles, easing any aches and pains. My mum uses it for arthritis and it works wonders for her. You can get two baths out of one of these travel size bottles, so you don't need to use much of it to feel the full effects. Repurchase? I'm sure I already have one or two more mini bottles in my samples stash somewhere - need to dig them out! 

Aveda Stress Fix Body Creme*
This is a luxury pampering treat for dry skin and it has Aveda's distinctive Stress Fix aroma that's wonderfully calming and relaxing. It's a very thick body creme (much more like a body butter) and one that takes a little while to fully sink in, so it's something that I'll use after a long hot bath before going to bed. Repurchase? Yes. 
May Empties: Products I've Used Up
Antipodes Rejoice Light Facial Day Cream*
I've gone through countless tubes of this moisturiser and it's still something that I return to time and time again. This day cream contains Manuka Flower Oil which I find helps to prevent breakouts, and it's really nice and light to use during the warmer Summer months. If you have oily/combination skin that's also prone to being sensitive, it's a must-try. Repurchase? Yes.

Scentered Sleep Well Therapy Balm
I have a lot of problems with getting to sleep, so I often use some kind of aromatherapy product to help me to relax and switch off my busy mind. I really like these balms from Scentered, with this Sleep Well one being particularly useful for me. Repurchase? I'm currently using up a similar product from Tisserand, but I would happily buy this again in the future.

Bee Good Youth Enhancing Lift & Brighten Eye Cream
This eye cream is one of Bee Good's best products. It's seriously underrated, but it does an excellent job of keeping the under eye area feeling hydrated and looking brighter and younger. This may be my second or third tube! Repurchase? Yes.  

La Roche-Posay Rosaliac Micellar Make-Up Removal Gel*
Despite what its name may have you believe, this is terrible for removing makeup with, but it's a nice and gentle morning cleanser that helps to reduce any redness or rosacea. It's not a problem that I have often though (I tend to only get mild flare-ups of redness every now and then), so it took me a while to get through this bottle. Repurchase? Probably not - I think I'll just stick to a mild cream cleanser instead.  

La Roche-Posay Serozinc
I've used Serozinc on and off for a while now. It definitely comes into its own during the Summer months when my skin is naturally a lot more oily, and it does work really well at keeping my t-zone in check. I don't see much of a difference with its effect on blemishes though, but it's something that I like to have in my skincare stash as a cooling/mattifying spritz when the weather gets hot. Repurchase? Yes.

Which beauty products have you used up recently?

New In: Roxanne Campbell Summer Collection 2017 Nail Lacquers - Review & Swatches

Monday, 29 May 2017

Roxanne Campbell Summer Collection 2017 Nail Lacquers - Review & Swatches
Roxanne Campbell's latest Summer Collection of nail lacquers is a bright and cheery bunch - time for a new mani anyone?

A favourite name amongst the fashion-conscious, Roxanne Campbell has painted the nails of countless of supermodels on runways all over the world, so it was no surprise to see her launch her own brand of luxury nail lacquers last year. RC's line is cruelty-free and showcases a mix of classic colours with contemporary must-have shades. 

Her Summer Collection comprises of four beach-ready shades and I was thrilled to get my hands on a set to try out!

Roxanne Campbell Nail Lacquer in Snow Fight swatches
 Roxanne Campbell Nail Lacquer in Snow Fight*

Perhaps I'd been scrolling through too many sunny Pinterest posts recently or something, but the first colour that I wanted to try out was Snow Fight.  This stark white achieved opacity within just two coats and looks amazing against tanned or darker skin tones. I have to admit that I've only previously used white nail polish as an additional shade in nail art, but I'm really warming to what it looks like all over!

Roxanne Campbell Nail Lacquer in Violets Are Blue swatches
 Roxanne Campbell Nail Lacquer in Violets Are Blue*

This stunning bright blue was nearly opaque in one coat but I used two for good measure to get an even level of coverage. Violets Are Blue applied smoothly, dried quickly and has a lovely high-shine finish without the need for a top coat. A gorgeous blue for my nail polish stash.

 Roxanne Campbell Nail Lacquer in Sitting Pretty swatches
 Roxanne Campbell Nail Lacquer in Sitting Pretty*

Fans of hot pinks will love Sitting Pretty - a vivid bright pink that only needed one coat. Like Violets Are Blue, this one also has a glossy, high-shine finish and the formula was a dream to apply. I particularly love this shade on toes to jazz up a pair of plain flip flops.

Roxanne Campbell Nail Lacquer in Off To Jamaica swatches
Roxanne Campbell Nail Lacquer in Off To Jamaica*

My favourite of the collection is definitely Off To Jamaica. I always bright coral shades like this throughout Summer as I think they look particularly great with a tan, and this colour is no exception. The formula is brilliant like the rest of these nail lacquers - a must-have for sure!

The Roxanne Campbell Summer Collection retails for £40 or you can purchase the nail lacquers individually for £10 each. Available from roxannecampbell.com

What do you think of this collection?

Foodie Friday: The Best Sweet Potato Brownies with Chocolate Frosting (Deliciously Ella Vegan/Dairy-Free/Gluten-Free recipe)

Friday, 26 May 2017

The Best Sweet Potato Brownies with Chocolate Frosting (Deliciously Ella Vegan/Dairy-Free recipe)
If you haven't tried Deliciously Ella's outstanding Sweet Potato Brownies, you haven't lived. This is the new and improved recipe that she released late last year and it's by far the best sweet potato brownie recipe that I've tried so far (and I've tried a fair amount of them!).

When Ella Woodward brought out her debut cookbook Deliciously Ella, back in 2015, I purchased a copy like everyone else and loved the vast majority of her recipes. In fact, it's one of my most used cookbooks and my copy is starting to look a little dog-eared around the edges!

Like many though, I couldn't quite get the original Sweet Potato Brownie recipe to work for me - they always came out a little too dry or just not right texture-wise, so I was thrilled when I heard that she'd re-released it online last year with some changes. Her new and improved Sweet Potato Brownie recipe is the best one that I've used by anyone so far, and these brownies come out absolutely perfect every single time. 

They are incredibly fudgy, with such a rich, chocolatey flavour and best of all, they are so easy to make! You would not believe that they're dairy-free, gluten-free and refined sugar-free either, and they're suitable for vegans too. Be warned though - these brownies are seriously moreish! 
The Best Sweet Potato Brownies with Chocolate Frosting (Deliciously Ella Vegan/Dairy-Free recipe)
Ingredients (makes around 12-14 brownies):-
  • 500g Sweet Potatoes (about 2 medium sized ones)
  • 12 Medjool Dates (pitted)
  • 6 tbsp Pure Maple Syrup
  • 100g Ground Almonds
  • 2 tbsp melted Coconut Oil
  • 100g Ground Oats
  • 6 tbsp Raw Cacao Powder
  • Pinch of Salt

For the Frosting:-
  • 2tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 2tbsp Almond Butter
  • 2tbsp Cacao Powder
  • 1 tbsp Maple Syrup

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Peel the Sweet Potatoes, cut into small chunks and place in a steamer for around 20 minutes until they're nice and soft. If you don't have a steamer, you can boil them instead for the same results. Drain away any excess water and put them into a food processor, adding in the pitted Medjool Dates. Whiz for a minute or so until the texture is smooth.
  3. Place all of the remaining brownie ingredients into the food processor and whiz until everything is thoroughly combined. 
  4. Pour the mixture into a greased brownie tin and place in the oven. Bake for around 45 minutes, until you can pierce the brownie with a fork and it comes out dry. Allow to cool for a further 10 minutes and then transfer whole to a plate or wire rack to cool down completely.
  5. While the brownies are baking, you can make the frosting. Just add all of the frosting ingredients to a small saucepan and melt over a medium heat, stirring to combine everything. Once melted, pop the pan in the fridge for another 15-20 minutes to allow the frosting to firm up.
  6. Once the brownies are fully cooled (if they're still warm the frosting will melt again!), spread the frosting over and smooth out with a spatula to get an even coating. Cut the brownies into squares and enjoy!
These brownies will keep for about 5 days in an airtight container but I've struggled to have them around that long in my house! 

N.B - a word about buying dates. A lot of dates that you purchase in the supermarket come from Israel, but if you wish to boycott their products like I do for ethical reasons, you can easily find dates in Asian supermarkets if you have one near you or try a fair trade retailer. I purchase my dates from Yaffa which supports Palestinian farmers. You can find out more about the Check The Label campaign here.  This isn't sponsored - it's just something that I feel very passionately about and I like to share the info for anyone reading this who may not be aware of the issue.
The Best Sweet Potato Brownies with Chocolate Frosting (Deliciously Ella Vegan/Dairy-Free recipe)
The Best Sweet Potato Brownies with Chocolate Frosting (Deliciously Ella Vegan/Dairy-Free/Gluten-Free recipe)
The Best Sweet Potato Brownies with Chocolate Frosting (Deliciously Ella Vegan/Dairy-Free recipe)
Have you tried making Sweet Potato Brownies?

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Beauty Box: LoveLula Beauty Box - May 2017 review

Thursday, 25 May 2017

LoveLula Beauty Box - May 2017 review
May's LoveLula Beauty Box arrived last week, and it's a real treat for natural skincare and haircare fans this month. Containing five products; three of which are full-size and two that are travel sizes, May's box is worth £45 which is excellent value for money! 

Here's what I found inside:-

Ogario London Styling Mist (full size, RRP £16)
I featured this Styling Mist from Ogario London in a Christmas Party Prep post last year (check it out here), and my bottle is still going strong, so I'm pleased to have a back-up! This is a really great product for adding some volume and hold to the hair, but without any of the stickiness or build up that you get from hairsprays. One of the best natural haircare styling aids that I've come across so far.

Laidbare DIY Cleanser & Toner (full size, RRP £6.99)
I've had the pleasure of using of using this budget friendly, two-in-one cleanser and toner a couple of times in the past, and I'm a big fan of the Laidbare brand in general. Their DIY cleanser is a gentle but effective formula that also doubles up as a makeup remover too. Lovely and refreshing to use in the mornings!

PHB Gentle Moisturiser (full size, RRP £16.95)
PHB Ethical Beauty are a brand that I've been trying out a few products from recently, so I'm looking forward to testing out this Gentle Moisturiser that's formulated with Shea Butter and Apricot. It's suitable for sensitive and eczema prone skin which is perfect for me, and it gained a Highly Commended award in the Natural Health Beauty Awards last year for Best Eczema Range so it sounds very promising.

John Masters Organics Lavender & Rosemary Shampoo and Citrus & Neroli Detangler (2 x 30ml travel sizes)
Both of these are products that I've used in the past numerous times and I'm actually using a full-size of the shampoo at the moment which I'll be reviewing in full shortly, so keep an eye out for that. JMO's Citrus & Neroli Detangler is a brilliant product that does what it says on the bottle as it detangles and conditions without weighing the hair down. 

LoveLula Beauty Box* is a monthly subscription box priced at £13.95 with free postage in the UK. Visit lovelula.com to find out more.

Have you subscribed to LoveLula's Beauty Box?

Budget Beauty: Noughty Haircare - To The Rescue Moisture Boost Shampoo & Conditioner + Intensive Care Leave-in Conditioner review

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Noughty Haircare - To The Rescue Shampoo & Conditioner + Intensive Care Leave-in Conditioner review
Natural and SLS-free haircare need not be as expensive as you might think, as Noughty Haircare demonstrates with its range of budget friendly shampoos, conditioners and treatments.

As I like to try out different products all the time as a beauty blogger, my bathroom shelves contain a varied assortment of both high-end and budget-friendly items from an array of brands, and I generally love to mix them up to keep things interesting. When it comes to haircare, I've been using SLS-free formulas for a couple of years now and my hair (and my fussy sensitive scalp!) has certainly thanked me for it.  

One of the latest brands that I've been putting to the test are Noughty Haircare, who pride themselves on being 97% natural, cruelty-free, and all of their products are free from petrochemicals, parabens, sulphates and silicones. I have to be honest here, I've previously tried their Care Taker Scalp Soothing Shampoo & Conditioner and my hair hated them, but luckily it's been getting along with the To The Rescue range much better!
Noughty Haircare - To The Rescue Shampoo & Conditioner + Intensive Care Leave-in Conditioner review
Noughty To The Rescue Shampoo* (250ml, £6.99, link)
Noughty's To The Rescue range is aimed at people who have dry, frizzy and/or damaged hair, which sums up my hair type perfectly. It's formulated with lots of moisturising ingredients such as Olive Oil, Shea Butter, Argan Oil and Coconut Oil, to give dry hair that extra hydration boost that it needs. As I mentioned earlier, Noughty are completely sulphates and silicones free, so this shampoo won't lather up and you have to add a lot of water to it to get it to work properly, but once you get the right balance nailed it's a really good shampoo. It cleans your hair without stripping it and leaves dry hair transformed into much more manageable, smoother locks. That said, I would highly recommend washing twice with this shampoo, just to make sure that you've got everything properly rinsed out as it is very moisturising, so it can be a little heavy going for fine hair if you use too much of it.

Noughty To The Rescue Conditioner* (250ml, £6.99, link)
The matching To The Rescue conditioner features a lot of the same ingredients as the shampoo above and has a slightly thinner texture to it than traditional/mainstream hair conditioners. However, it still does an excellent job of hydrating the hair and was easy to rinse out. After a quick blow dry, my hair felt softer and smoother, but without being weighed down which I often find tricky as my hair is quite fine. I think this is a great conditioner to use for every day to keep your hair in check without overloading it.

Noughty Intensive Care Leave-In Conditioner* (150ml, £6.99, link
If you're looking for an affordable leave-in conditioner that's silicones free, this Intensive Care treatment is definitely worth a try. It contains Argan Oil, Shea Butter, Sunflower Seed and Sweet Almond Seed extracts to help strengthen hair, banish flyaways and frizz and keep it nourished for longer. I like to run a little of this conditioner through my lengths and ends as a finishing treatment and then I'm pretty much good to go for the day. It doesn't weigh down or over-hydrate my dry, fine hair, and a little goes a long way so one tube will last you ages, even with regular use or if you have long hair. 

Noughty Haircare is available from Superdrug and is currently on a 2 for £9 offer, in stores and online at superdrug.com

Have you tried anything from Noughty Haircare?

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Currently Loving: Pacifica Solar Colour Mineral Palette - Review & Swatches

Monday, 22 May 2017

Pacifica Solar Palette - Review & Swatches
Makeup palettes are a serious weakness of mine and I've fallen head over heels in love with Pacifica's coconut scented Solar Palette, which is full of shimmery goodness for the summer months ahead.

Despite being a fan of Pacifica's perfumes and their gorgeous candles, I hadn't properly looked into their mineral makeup range until recently. I decided to get my hands on one of their bestselling makeup palettes after seeing some rave reviews from a few other bloggers. I also think a palette is a great way to be introduced to a brand's makeup range that you haven't tried out before, as you can get a good feel for their formulas and test out a bunch of different products at the same time. Win win!
Pacifica Solar Palette - Review & Swatches
Pacifica's Solar Palette is described as a 'Complete Colour Mineral Palette for bright eyes and sunkissed highlights' which sounded perfect for me as I was looking for a new palette that was more Summer friendly. The packaging is pretty and functional - it opens up like a book, feels sturdy enough to travel with and has a strong magnetic clasp to keep everything in order during your travels. I was expecting to see a mirror inside though as it would have been handy to have one included, but I generally always pack a separate one anyway, so that's not too much of a problem for me.

The Pacifica Solar Palette consists of three cream highlighters, a mineral blusher, a mineral bronzer and six mineral eyeshadows, and everything by Pacifica is cruelty-free, vegan-friendly and free from nasties such as mineral oil, parabens, phthalates, petroleum, propylene glycol, SLS etc. When I opened up the palette, I could instantly smell coconut thanks to a natural coconut fragrance being included in the cream highlighter formulas, and the other products are also infused with Coconut Oil as well!

Let's take a closer look at the contents:-
Pacifica Solar Palette - Review & Swatches
 Cream Highlighters

The top row of the palette is where you'll find three shades of coconut-scented cream highlighters; Gold Dust (pale shimmery gold), Island Rose (shimmery rosy pink) and Pink Opal (pale light pink with a touch of shimmer). All three of these highlighters are very natural looking and subtle on the skin - they give you a 'bit of glow', rather than a megawatt beam of light if you catch my drift. They have a cream to powder finish and are really easy to apply with fingers - just dip in, dab on and blend out - super easy! 

Staying power isn't the greatest with these though, as I found they disappeared on my oily/combo skin after 2-3 hours, however, you can prolong this by an extra hour or so by using a primer underneath. For my light olive skin tone, I find that Gold Dust suits me the best for a gorgeous sunny glow, and I really like Island Rose as a pinky highlighter-meets-blush for when I just want a subtle wash of colour on my cheeks. Pink Opal, however, requires quite a lot of building up to show up on my skin, so I think that one would be better suited to paler skin tones than mine.
Pacifica Solar Palette - Review & Swatches
 Mineral Blusher & Bronzer

Underneath the cream highlighters, you'll find two large pans; a mineral blusher named Flushed Blush on the left, and a mineral bronzer called Bronzed Bronze on the right. The pigmentation of both of these really surprised me - with just two swipes I got an intense blusher and bronzer as you can see in the swatches above.

Flushed Blush is one of those classic peachy bronzy blushers with a fine gold shimmer running through it. It looks beautiful on and adds a lot of warmth and radiance - I love it! Bronzed Bronze is a light-medium bronzer and works well for adding a light contour and definition to the face, as well as a healthy looking, sun-kissed glow all over. As both of these are so pigmented, I'd recommend using them with a light hand for daytime wear, and then you can easily build them up for a summer evening/night time look later on if you wanted to.
Pacifica Solar Palette - Review & Swatches
Pacifica Solar Palette - Review & Swatches

The last two rows are dedicated to six mineral eyeshadows, all of which are shimmery, though some are more prominent than others. The eyeshadows are called Neptune (bold bright yellow), Glow (pale pastel pink), Treasure (metallic bronze), Coral (bright coppery coral), Mermaid Aqua (light turquoise with silver shimmer) and Sandalwood (rich brown with gold shimmer). 

My personal favourites out of these are Treasure, Sandalwood and Coral, the first two being the most pigmented out of the six. I also really like Mermaid Aqua and Neptune for something different, and both of these look really cool applied underneath the lower waterline for a pop of colour. The mineral-based formula for these eyeshadows is great - they feel buttery soft, apply smoothly and blend easily, with the exception of Glow which feels a little chalky and stiff. All in all though, I'm very impressed with this palette and I know that I'll be getting a lot of use out of it in the months ahead!

 Pacifica Solar Colour Mineral Palette* is priced at £33.99 and is available from LoveLula.com

Have you tried any makeup from Pacifica?

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Foodie Friday: Puff Pastry Veggie Pizza recipe #NationalVegetarianWeek

Friday, 19 May 2017

Puff Pastry Veggie Pizza recipe
In honour of National Vegetarian Week, I wanted to share a cheap and cheerful way to use up any leftover vegetables that you may have in the fridge, and turn them into a delicious Friday evening treat that you can share with your friends and family.

One of the very first things that I made in the kitchen as a child was a Puff Pastry Pizza. I loved the texture and taste of it, and it's something that I still make every now and again as a budget conscious student. A packet of fresh, ready rolled puff pastry usually only costs around a £1 or so from a supermarket, and it's often one of those items that you can find in every thrifty student's favourite spot - the 'discounted' section at the end of the day. Oh yes! In fact, I tend to buy most of my puff pastry on sale and pop it in the freezer to use at a later date.

A Puff Pastry Pizza is a great way to use up any leftover veggies that you may have, and being a pizza you can top it with whatever you like or have available - the toppings combinations are endless! It's also a fun way to get your kids in the kitchen (with your adult supervision of course) as anyone can make this, plus it only takes around 15 minutes to cook in the oven.

For the below Puff Pastry Pizza, I used some leftover Courgette, Spinach and Red Bell Pepper, and served it with a big salad. This made enough for four people, and you can reheat any remaining slices by popping them back into the oven for 5-10 minutes to enjoy the next day.
Puff Pastry Veggie Pizza recipe
Ingredients (serves 4 people):-
  • One pack of Fresh Ready Rolled Puff Pastry
  • 125g Mozzarella Cheese
  • 3-4 tbsp of Tomato Puree
  • A handful of your favourite leftover Vegetables (sliced or chopped)
  • Drizzle of Olive Oil
  • Dried Oregano or Herbs de Provence
  • Black Pepper (optional)
  • Fresh Basil Leaves (optional)

  1. Preheat the Oven to 220'C / Gas Mark 7, or follow your puff pastry pack instructions if different.
  2. Roll out the Puff Pastry onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof baking paper.
  3. Using the back of a tablespoon, spread out the Tomato Puree, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the pastry.
  4. Top with your Vegetables and the Mozzarella Cheese, spreading them out so that the pastry is evenly covered.
  5. Drizzle over a little Olive Oil and sprinkle on some Oregano or Herbs de Provence.
  6. Pop in the oven and bake for around 15 minutes.
  7. Garnish with some Fresh Basil Leaves and season with a little Black Pepper if desired. Cut into slices and enjoy!
Vegan? Many brands of ready made puff pastry are suitable for vegans (I know the Just Rol one is), just check the packet before purchasing, and either skip the mozzarella cheese or use a vegan mozzarella.

Puff Pastry Veggie Pizza recipe
Have you ever made a Puff Pastry Pizza?

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