Wednesday, 17 December 2014

A Taste of Birmingham: Cadbury Yule Log

Ooooh isn't this a tasty looking post... I was asked to make my own version of this festive favourite inspired by the best taste in Birmingham (not the Balti!) but Cadbury chocolate! My attempt probably isn't up to Paul and Mary's standards but I don't care, as it's very tasty and I've never even attempted to make any form of swiss roll before. This does have chestnuts in, so if you're allergic to nuts, fill it with a chocolate cream icing instead! If you give this a go, let me know!


For the chocolate sponge: 
- 175g caster sugar
- 6 eggs
- 50g plain flour
- 175g Cadbury's chocolate

For the filling:
- 150g chestnut purée
- 150ml double cream
- 50g mascarpone
- 75g cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped

For the icing:
- 100g icing sugar
- 200ml double cream
- 150g Cadbury's chocolate 

- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4 and line a 23x33cm swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper. 

- Melt the chocolate gently in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of water. 

- Separate the eggs and pop the yolks into a separate bowl. Whisk them up with the caster sugar until pale and thick. Stir the flour until combined and then add the melted chocolate. 

- Whisk the egg whites until stiff white peaks form - basically until it looks a bit like this. Don't overdo it!

- Combine the two mixtures by spooning the egg white a little at a time and gently folding them together with a metal spoon. Again, don't over mix. 

- Pour the cake batter into the lined tin and bake for 18-20 minutes until the cake has risen. The sponge should spring back when you press it. When it's finished, take it out and leave it in the tray to fully cool for up to two hours.

- To make the filling, whip the cream with a handwhisk then mix the chestnut purée and mascarpone until well combined. Then fold in the chopped chestnuts.

- Once the sponge is fully cooled, loosen it from the baking tray and then in a swift move that you may imitate from GBBO, turn the cake onto a clean tea towel. Peel away the greaseproof paper.

- Spread the filling evenly over the sponge leaving a 2cm(ish) gap around the edges. Then, starting at the longest edge, gently roll up the sponge. If you can't do it, your Mum/Gran probably can! (thanks Mum!)

- For the icing, gently heat the cream in a small pan until it's nearly boiling and then melt the chocolate into the cream (without eating any!) Then, sift the icing sugar and beat this into the mixture until it's smooth. Chill this in the fridge for an hour until it's in a spreadable consistency.

- Spread the icing over the sponge then dust with icing sugar to finish and take some photos with some holly leaves if you're feeling fancy. Enjoy!

*I was provided with a voucher to purchase the ingredients for
this. The original recipe can be found here.

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Monday, 15 December 2014

Snazzy Glasses: Scarlett of Soho

I was lucky enough to win a pair of glasses from Scarlett of Soho, an online shop selling super trendy frames! Buying prescription glasses online is a bit of a dubious prospect - how will I now what they look like!? How will I know if they fit? Worry no more! Scarlett of Soho have it sorted. Before you decide on a pair, you can pick up to four pairs of frames you like and they will send you them for free to try on at home. Once you've decided on the pair you like, you simply seal up the box and post them back - no charge. Then you go online and upload a copy of your prescription and use their funky app to work out your pupillary distance so the glasses are as perfect as possible!

All of Scarlett of Soho frames are prices at £97 each.

Pictured above are the frames that I chose to try on at home. (I only picked three) I'm so glad I chose to use this service before I chose my final frame as the ones I thought I would like, I really didn't! I chose the gorgeous Novak frames, which are an amazing shape and a tortoiseshell colour which is a little bit different as I always opt for black frames. They arrived within seven days which is really good considering they were making my prescription lenses too. They definitely 'work' - I can read the lecture presentations, ha! In all, I love my new glasses, they are snazzy. 

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Christmas in Birmingham: The German Market

Every year, Christmas descends on Birmingham and you cannot avoid it. Even if you aren't feeling festive, you'll be forced to if you go anywhere near New Street or Victoria Square. Harry and I went to the Christmas market last week for some (very chilly) festive cheer and I thought I'd share some snaps I took before my camera battery ran out, to get you in the mood!

If you've never been to the Christmas market, it really is an assault on the senses. The scent of Mulled wine, baileys hot chocolate and ginger bread comes at you from all angles and the plethora of lit stalls leaves you blinking. Depending on what day you go depends on how busy it is, but you can expect a few merry people on a Friday evening! (Never EVER go on a weekend unless you have you. Avoid it.) It's a vast market, you can spend a few hours wandering around. It starts on New Street and goes to Victoria Square then all the way to the Library of Birmingham, where the big wheel and ice skating rink is - I will go ice skating there before I leave uni! It's worth a visit as it's so pretty (albeit a little gaudy in places) and really gets you in the festive mood. And the food is amazing, from frankfurters to berliners to crepes to two pint glasses of German beer, you'll leave with a full stomach! The little craft market also has a lot to offer and you're bound to find a unique present for Christmas!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

7 day challenge with Magnitone Lucid

In terms of cleansing brushes, there is one very recognisable brand that has reigned supreme for the past couple of years - the Clarisonic. Slowly and surely newer brands are popping up offering the revolutionary cleansing method. I've been testing out a cheeky little hot pink cleansing brush for the past seven days. I'd never heard of Magnitone before and the Magnitone Lucid Cleansing brush is a new addition to their range, which include brushes for the body too! The Lucid claims to give softer, brighter and clearer skin in just seven days, which is a very bold claim. So did it live up to this?

If this whole cleansing brush thing is new to you, it really is as simple as it looks. You are brushing your face with what is really a chunky electric toothbrush. Weird right? What's so different about using my hands? Cleansing brushes give a much deeper and effective cleansing action as well as exfoliating your skin at the same time - the Magnitone Lucid has 10,000 pulsed oscilations per minute. That's a deep clean. What do you need to change in your routine? Absolutely nothing. The Magnitone works with your existing cleansers and moisturisers. Simply squeeze a little cleanser onto the brush and systematically work around your face for one minute (it even has a timer, woo!) Using the brush also enhances the absorption of your moisturiser and evens skin tone. So many benefits in a little brush!

So there's the claims and benefits out the way... Did it actually work? The answer is yes, it definitely did. Bearing in mind I've only been using it for seven days, my skin feels good! After the first use my skin felt a lot cleaner and a lot softer. For the first few days, Magnitone recommend using it on the sensitive setting, which is a little slower than the normal setting, just so your skin adjusts. The brush has a 20 second zonal timer and then automatically stops after one minute. You begin with the brush on your forehead and then move to each cheek - 10 seconds on each - then 20 seconds on the nose and chin. It's a very simple routine that I've been using with my normal cleanser (The Body Shop Seaweed Cleanser) in the morning and evening. I've gone through a mini 'purge' of spots which is to be expected. They disappeared after a few days as the brush just brings up impurities from under the skin. In the long run it should help keep blemishes at bay. My skin feels softer and looks more even in tone. It also absorbs moisturiser a lot better too, giving a better make up application. I can't wait to see the results after a month! 

You can buy the Magnitone Lucid on their website. I got the Limited Edition Pixie Lott brush, because it was hot pink, but they have some super cute colour options if pink isn't your thing! 

What are your thoughts on cleansing brushes?

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Merumaya meet up @ The Jekyll & Hyde

So last week I went to yet another little blog meet in Birmingham! This time it was organised by Lehka from skin care brand, Merumaya. It was at The Jekyll & Hyde bar in Birmingham, which has been on my 'to visit' list for a while so it was fab to have an excuse to go and have some drinks with some lovely bloggers. There were seven of us, so it was a lovely little intimate meet. Hannah and Tash were there who I'd met just last week at the #bhmbloggermeet. I also knew Hannah from A New Addition before from some other events. It was lovely to meet Selina, Vicki and Sammi too! 

The meet was very casual and relaxed. Lehka talked us through the brand and the products. Merumaya aims to provide effective and integrative skin care - stuff that works and is easy to pop into your routine. What I loved about the brand was their honesty - the percentage of every single ingredient is listed on their website. The products are gorgeous - they smell gorgeous and feel gorgeous! The Melting Cleanser was probably my favourite product we discovered. It melts off make up in an instant leaving fresh clean skin without stripping it of moisture. The Iconic Youth serum is their signature product. It's a light gel consistency that you apply before moisturiser (or on it's own) that gives the skin an amazing glow whilst combatting any signs of ageing. Obviously this isn't something I'm too worried about yet but Lehka told us that it's the things you do when you're young that effects your skin the most when you're older. So with skincare, prevention is better than a cure! 

Me and Tash / Me and Hannah

We got samples of all the products and I think you will be seeing them in a favourite things post very soon! I love them. The Jekyll & Hyde is a wonderful place - check out the cocktails served in top hats and tea cups! So quirky! I will definitely be taking a trip back there, it's a little hidden gem.