Homemade Battenberg Cake - Mission #1 of 2014 Complete!

Hi guys!

I wrote in January in my Stereotypical New Year's Resolutions post that one of the things I wanted to do this year was bake a Battenberg cake. (I am not one for drastic, life-changing resolutions). Easter Monday was the day and it was a success! The recipe I used was Mary Berry's from her 'Baking Bible' which I got for Christmas and would highly recommend. Easter is all about springtime pastel colours and marzipan (think Simnel cake!) so with the extra day off too, it seemed the perfect time to give the Battenberg a whirl!

To make Mary Berry's Battenberg you'll need:

For the sponge:
100g caster sugar
100g softened butter
100g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
Few drops almond essence
50g ground rice (I used ground almonds and they worked fine)
Few drops pink food colouring (and yellow if you want extra-yellow cake like me)

For the outside:
225g marzipan
3-4 tbsp apricot jam (for adhering cake to marzipan!)

18cm square shallow baking tray + baking parchment

Heat the oven to 160 degrees/fan 140 degrees/Gas Mark 3 and line your baking tray with baking parchment. Mary suggests later on that you pour the two coloured batters into one tray and try to keep the line between them neat. I did not trust myself to manage this so devised a baking parchment wall half-way down the tin (proud of my efforts here).

For the batter, simply put all the sponge ingredients except the two food colourings into a large bowl and beat for around two minutes until smooth. Then divide the mixture into two and add a few drops of pink colouring to one and yellow to the other. Once they are all mixed and even in colour, pour the cake mixes into the two halves of the baking tray and level out. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes (mine only needed 30 mins so check colour a little earlier).

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Then, using a sharp knife, slice each of the coloured sponges into two strips of even size so that you have four strips that can create the chequered effect.

Gently warm up the apricot jam (only needs 10-15 seconds in the microwave) and brush onto the sponge strips to glue them together.

Roll out the marzipan to the length of the cake and wide enough to wrap around the whole cake. Brush warm apricot jam onto the marzipan then transfer the cake to the sheet of marzipan. Gently wrap the marzipan around the cake and seal on one corner. Trim the ends of the marzipan off either edge of the cake and you are done!

This cake was a fun challenge to make but definitely manageable and not too much hassle either. It tastes delicious and looks pretty too!

What did you get up to over the Easter weekend? Hope you enjoyed the time off and relaxed in the lovely British weather. Now to enjoy the four day week!


DIY Project! IKEA Make Up Storage Drawers

Hi guys!

Today's post is a little different from my usual but as part of my moving process I have been doing some DIY and wanted to share it with you - an easy way to upcycle some old furniture and create some brand-spanking new make up storage!

I have had these IKEA miniature drawers since I was much younger and recently collected them from my parents' house to bring to the new flat and give them a new lease of life! They still stock similar drawers in IKEA so if you get inspired then check them out here. You'll also need some white paint, a roll of masking tape, paint brushes and then colours of your choice.

My plan was to create a simple pattern using pastel pink & grey all on white - I want to say Scandinavian style, but that could just be wishful thinking! Painting them all white has given them a much cleaner look and I love the colours and triangle/chevron pattern.

The white took two layers to cover evenly and then I used masking tape to create clean lines for the coloured triangles. I started out with a random pattern then decided to paint three different layouts, each on two drawers so that there was some uniformity.

Brushes were leaving some streaky marks for the colours, so I switched to cutting up a washing up sponge and dabbing the paint on with that instead which worked a treat!

I am using these drawers to tidy up my bathroom work surface and store make up, moisturisers and hair accessories. They would also be perfect in an office space or to store jewelry, nail varnishes or anything else you can think of!

Are you a fan of this quick and effective DIY project? Do you like these kind of posts? Would love to hear from you here or on Twitter!


Birchbox UK April 2014 - Good Enough to Eat

Hi guys!

My April Birchbox successfully made it to my doorstep despite an address change and this month was a good'un!

 The theme this month is 'Good Enough to Eat' - Birchbox have apparently taken inspiration for April from "local food markets, the kitchen and all our favourite eateries". For a beauty box, a food-inspired theme may seem odd but actually I think it worked really well - lots of delicious fruity fragrances and one yummy edible item too. This month also saw Birchbox try something new where the customer can choose one of the products in their boxes (the shade of the nail polish). This was a good little feature, it made me feel like I was customising my box to my taste and also reminded me mid-month of my upcoming box so I could get all excited!

On to the contents!

One Love Organics Skin Saviour Waterless Beauty Balm - this is one of my highlights in this box. I had never heard of the brand but like their style, packaging and message. The balm smells incredible (think lemon sherbert) and rubs in without leaving any grease. This has become a handbag staple for me, you can use it for everything! The pot says you can use it as a cleanser or an all round moisturiser, it's nice on your lips, hands, face, elbows etc - I am a fan! This 15ml sample will go a long way and is worth £7.43.

Colour Club Nail Lacquer in Gold Struck - this was the customisable (new word?) item in the box, there were four colours to choose from online, all shimmery pastels and I went for this soft, rose gold shade. I think it will look gorgeous on beach toes in the summer! Can't comment on durability yet but not holding out massive hope, the instructions suggest using top and base coat to increase longevity which suggests they already know it could be an issue?! Comes as one in a pack of 4 normally, this individual shade works out as worth £3.75.

Campos De Ibiza Almendra Body Milk - unfortunately this is by far and away my least favourite item this month. Don't particularly love the packaging, the texture is fine, but the smell is nasty! Maybe it's me but it reminds me of old lady talc and cheap hotel shower gel - not something I want to be moisturising with... Definitely won't be rebuying although a good sized sample if you are a fan! Worth £3.14 for 38ml sample.

Propercorn Sweet Coconut & Vanilla Popcorn - I knew of this popcorn brand and have tried (and enjoyed) their savoury flavours so this was a welcome little treat. Had these at work and they reminded me of the scent of the old popcorn gel pen (anyone else know what I'm talking about? Anyone?!). The taste is actually really good, they are a low calorie snack and I also buy into the brand and packaging. No complaints here!

TheBalm Cosmetics How 'Bout Them Apples Cheek & Lip Cream in Pie - this item was a nice little surprise at the bottom of the bag which I really like. It's one shade of cheek/lip cream from a palette of six. I got the shade pie which is fine by me - it looks to be one of the most easily wearable colours and blends in well to my cheeks. I love the kitsch, vintage-style packaging and want to investigate what else TheBalm offer! Normally £26 for the palette so this single colour works out as £4.33.

Lord & Berry Silk Kajal Kohl Liner in Black - I somehow need to get a message across to Birchbox which politely asks for no more eyeliners in my box... Although I can see why so many people love having them to try out, I have come to the conclusion that I am just not an eyeliner girl. I mess it up, it looks heavy on me, it's a lot of effort etc etc etc (read: I'm too lazy). Anyway, as a product, this looks OK. It smudges off my hand fairly easily which would concern me if I wanted to wear it all day long but the colour is nice and I like the look of the brand. Not that bothered by this one, but not disappointed either. This sample is worth £1.50.

Overall, I actually really like this box, and it's worth a fair bit too. Love the postcards on the back of the tips, as well as the cupcake recipe and item highlights were the beauty balm and cheek/lip cream. What did you think of April's box? Would love to hear from you here or over on Twitter!


Sephora Pro Lesson Palette - Blue Eyes

Hi guys!

Firstly apologies for the total blog desertion - moving house and moving jobs and having no internet made it all a bit challenging! I am now (slightly) more settled so fingers crossed it will all pick back up again.

Today's post is all about a palette from big-dog American brand, Sephora. The Pro Lesson Palette for Blue Eyes is part of the Pro Lesson range which make it easy to learn new makeup techniques - and this one definitely has everything in place to make a day and night look really simple. It's a palette of six shades (three beige/natural and three for a navy smoky eye) and a black eyeliner pencil and comes in a handy compact with a big mirror (always appreciated!).

Not only does the Sephora palette label the shadows themselves as 1, 2 & 3 for order of application, it also has images and instructions right there, on the palette so you can't go wrong.

Natural trio for a day look

Navy trio for a smoky night look
I use the natural trio in this palette ALL. THE. TIME. The navy smoky trio I use less often, mainly because it's actually really pigmented so makes for a pretty bold look. All in all though, this is a really high quality, gorgeous palette of long-lasting colours (with helpful instructions!) and it makes me want to invest in some more of Sephora's delights when I am in New York this summer! (On that note, what are the top drugstore brands that I should pick up that aren't available in the UK please?!)

Hope you've all had lovely weekends, I did a massive IKEA shop and the flat is looking more homely and beautiful by the day - happy Mari!