Wednesday, 4 March 2015

One of my favourite meals back in the days of eating meat has to be Fajita Wraps; a perfect Friday night treat to load your wrap with as much filling as possible, and then scorn yourself when it all drips down your arm to the plate because there's too much Crème Fraîche melting against the chicken and peppers - oh the joys!

The only snag with not eating much wheat or meat anymore is that you can't have moments like that, unless you get a moment inspiration of how to recreate such a feast but with healthy veggie ingredients instead - so behold the Fajita Cabbage Wraps, just as messy but minus the drips! Big cabbage leaves are a fabulous alternative to the regular wraps as they hold their shape and can get quite a bit of filling in the bigger the leaves, so what are you waiting for?! Kick the weekend off with total deliciousness...

Ingredients (serves 4-6)
Large and Medium Cabbage Leaves | Quinoa | Mixed Veg - Peppers, Courgette, Aubergine, Onions, Mushrooms, Carrot | Parsley

1. Select your cabbage leaves, wash thoroughly and then cut off the stems so you don't get any tough bits. Pop them to the side until later as these cook very quickly for the texture and structure you need!

2. Dice some red onions and brown off in coconut oil, adding in the mixed veg (you can use pre-cut frozen veg if you have any, it makes timings so much quicker!) to soften. Once everything is cooked through, pop the cabbage into a steamer for 5 minutes on a medium heat, and stir in the quinoa and parsley to the veg to heat through and flavour.

3. When the cabbage is still a little tough but cooked, pop them on a plate and start loading up! Add the filling into the middle and spread equally so you can fold up the wraps into little packages - super cute and great to shovel in your mouth quicker, no?

Little parcels of veg and grains that you can keep filling up on all night - what a perfect way to start the weekend! Just like fajitas, you can set these out on the table for people to make themselves whilst you watch a film or chat, and you get even more creative by adding in some sweet potato, avocado, lemon, spice - falafel even!

Friday night messy treats, what could be better?!

Are you a fan of fajitas or wraps? What is your Friday night treat? Will you be making this recipe for the weekend?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

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Monday, 2 March 2015

There are those days when you have all the time in the world to get your face contoured like Kim K and your eyeliner perfected into a dream feline flick, but then there are those others when you're late, in a rush, or have been surprised with a 'we're going out get dressed' situation, in which make-up becomes one of 'GET IT ON QUICK!' before you're forced out the door.

PANIC ARGH - what on earth do I do?! In those tense moments, I find a natural finish to cover the basics works best; spruce up the luminosity, tame the brows, add some life to your cheeks and slick on your lipstick so everyone thinks you were ready hours ago. So what are my essentials that help me get from 'I woke up like this' to 'we flawless'? Well there's a few, but they all work quickly so to get your face looking as best as it can be with the time you have.

A base that adds life and brightness to your skin can be a quick fix when you're in a rush as you'll look more awake and fresh than something matte that may not blend as well quickly. For me, Clarins Beauty Flash Balm acts as both a primer and brightening base which helps speed up the process, and then an easy to blend glowing formula such as NARS Sheer Glow only needs a pump with some quick buffing to even out the complexion and give you healthy looking skin. Conceal with an easy to dab on product like NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, and then quickly more on the brows. 

Now there's not too much time to fuss but you don't want to go OTT, so I find a product with a spoolie and easy-to-blend wax perfect in this scenario; Sleek Eyebrow Stylist shapes and combs through the hair whilst the wax is easy to blend into sparse areas and fills in quickly for a natural, full finish. Quickly prime the eyes - I love Urban Decay Primer Potion - and use something easy such as the Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks in Copper or Khaki to smudge on some colour and pat out for a subtle but eye-catching hint of shimmer. Quickly curl if you have time or skip if you're really rushing, and go for a lengthening, volumised formula such as Maybelline Lash Sensational to make your eyes look more awake immediately.

Time to pop in some easy to wear colour! Contouring can take some time so either add a flush of bronzer or a pink coral across your cheeks to add some depth against your eyes and lips - I love to use the Sleek Face Form as it contains both and is highly pigmented so you only need a light swish. Slick on your favourite balm, which at the moment is Hurraw! Lime Lip Balm, and then add an easy nude on top such as Chanel Rouge Coco Mademoiselle that doesn't require a liner and is easy to top up if needed.

Et Voila! Quick, speedy, but everything gets covered. Even writing this felt ultra speedy, so it shows what you can do in 10 minutes if you need to get ready fast. A lot of the products too are easy to use on-the-go so if you're really tight for time, slip them in your bag and do it on transport (or a toilet, whatever is closest, and won't have you looking like Bridget Jones on the way to the Lawyer Event with Darcy).

As much as it's nice to spend time contouring and perfecting lipstick, sometimes the speedy looks can surprise you - a natural glow with some fuller brows and understated lips and eyes always looks lovely and it's just the simplest way to refresh when you're on a time-limit - plus you can surprise everyone else by being ready first due to your speedy beauty hacks and easy to work products. 10 minute beauty - done!

Do you often have to rush your makeup? What are your basic beauty essentials? Are you one to rush your makeup or take time perfecting?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

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Saturday, 28 February 2015

February has crept to an end once again, and in exactly four weeks and one day I will be turning 21. Even typing that makes me freak out a little bit, how has a year passed so quickly? Am I meant to be an adult now? Even Buzzfeed is questioning me with my age and maturity (apparently I'm having kids next year; well, you send me Harry Style or Niall Horan and we shall see) but all realistic circumstances, the big 21 hopefully marks a great year for even greater opportunities - Elle Magazine told me back in 2013 that 2015 was the year I would start to travel, move, study, and work more so here's to some plane hopping!

But without getting ahead of ourselves too  much, let's rewind over out second month of the year and see what picks have made the hot-list and what amazing things have been achieved - let me tell you now, there's been a few!

Again, the skin clear-up is on-going, and I'm hoping by now that my skin has calmed down from a breakout purge thanks to Elemis Herbal Lavender Repair Mask mixed with the Aesop Chamomile Concentrate Masque. The reason for mixing these two together is because whilst the Aesop mask does clean out most pores and calm anything angry but manageable, it sometimes doesn't quite reach the full clear out you want - which is where Elemis comes in. This second clay combination helps to pull out the clogged and trapped impurities whilst Aesop calms, soothes and cleans. I can live with the first so-called eruption when it promises a future of clear skin.

Having a clear base for once has made foundation a real dream to apply and there are two that have been tickling my fancy this month; firstly, the ever faithful NARS Sheer Glow which has a great semi-matte formula that gives you a natural glow without looking too slick and always makes me look a bit more 'golden' which is perfect for the weather right now. On the other end of the spectrum is Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk* which is a perfect skintone match to even out the paleness, with a good balance of glow and liquid formula; it is very runny but it blends seamlessly into the skin despite needing slightly more product than Sheer Glow.

Burberry's 'The Birds and The Bees' has been a huge love of mine for SS15 and after re-watching Anna's recreation of the look, I figured that under foundation glow-enhancing products is what I needed in my life; shopping my stash proved useful as my old fave Benefit Watt's Up Highlighter is the perfect golden glow stick to pop across the tops of the cheekbones, nose, and forehead to get that 'lit from within' vibe. Blend it out with your fingers and you're good to go!

I can tell you now that my next favourite is going to be popping up a lot from now as it truly is the best lip balm ever. As I said in my Lip Loving post, the Hurraw! Raw Lime Lip Balm is 100% vegan, raw and natural products, and it truly nourishes the lips. The lime taste is great - just don't eat it - and keeps your pout looking perfectly pretty all day long.

For something that lasts all night long - 'aall niight, aall niight' - I've been loving a good few mugs of Pukka Herbs Night Time Tea to make my body and brain relax after a day in front of the computer. The blend of lavender and limeflower makes me really chilled and helps my mind settle (a bit) before sleep - unless I scroll a bit too  long - and it's something nice to look forward to most evenings for a wind-down.

Finally, a big one this month as the first week of February seemed to be one of my hitting some big milestones! Firstly it was a year since my COMPANY feature was published, then I hit 100,000 page views on my blog followed by 1,000,000 views on my G+ page, and THEN I reached 500 followers on Bloglovin and 1000 on Twitter - phew! This was all within a few days of each other two I was on a permanent high and almost wept a few times at how well my blog was doing, and definitely allowed me to take *some* time off to enjoy the path I was starting to follow. 

So with that in mind, I want to thank you all for reading, following me on all my social media, and giving my work support and love that I could have only dreamed of a few years ago. You're all babes, and you're helping me to work towards an awesome end goal, whatever or wherever it may be - who knows, maybe I'll be blogging from Italy or America soon! ;)

Have you achieved anything this February? What has been your favourite beauty pick? Are you set to fulfill any goals this year?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

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Friday, 27 February 2015

My favourite thing about Fashion Week is, ironically, the beauty trends. Yes, I fawn over Burberry every year and there are so many collections I love, but I always trowel Instagram, Vogue and blogs for the backstage looks and upcoming lipsticks I will inevitably add to my list. NYFW and LFW are my personal favourites, and now that it's all come to a close I think it's time for a round-up of the most seen looks on the catwalk, plus some of my favourite styles from the past two weeks.


Most Popular Trend 1: Fresh, Natural, Frosted and Wearable

Praise the beauty gods again that we have another season of fresh and flawless beauty! Firstly, Jason Wu departed from his usual sleek up-do to create effortless free waves that looked like you'd slept on last night's curl for a natural bounce. The make up itself was so fresh and simple you could hardly tell it was there - matte yet luminous skin, slightly enhanced lashes (probably a brown mascara would work best for this look) and just a quick groom of the brows. Nothing on the lips, a true 'I woke up like this' look.

Slightly natural was Alexander Wang due to the use of a grey-toned contour and pale matte skin, but the grey eye contour really gave a deathly edge to this look. If you're looking for something more wearable, Altuzarra used the same skin finish with painted pale lips, slicked back buns, and a gorgeous cold lid that blended silvers and coppers for a subtle frosted and contoured lid. Derek Lam was similar, instead going for an updated ponytail and taupe eyes for a more wearable modern look.

Charlotte Tilbury worked her magic at Donna Karan to create a flushed cheek look with the use of lipstick, subtle lined eyes and groomed brows to offset a natural pink-brown lip - definitely my kind of look! Similarly at Vera Wang there was a strong look of luminous skin, brushed up brows and subtle contour and flush to give models that lovely natural edge.

Most Popular Trend 2: Dramatic Eyes or Lips?

Have one, have both! There's a definite continuation of SS15 bold lip trend in this season's collections, but it's all gotten a bit dark to contrast the luminous skin base created. DvF stuck to the natural skin trend with contouring but made sure lids were covered and blended into a deep black smoke paired with lengthening mascara and soft liner - modern grunge that looks a bit more wearable. In the other direction, 3.1 Phillip Lim built upon the statement red lips of SS15 by using a deep, tainted rust red without liner to give an unkempt cool to the models.

The dramatic winner for me? Marc Jacobs. Totally winning my dramatic make-up side, a deep purple-berry lip with an off-matte finish contrasted the grey-brown smokey lids perfectly. The eyes were dramatic, feeling very defined and powerful whilst not being too much, and the berry lip is one to suit every complexion.

Other Notable Trends
Glitter Lids and Lashes - Caroline Herrera and Rodarte both showcased the glittery and sequin studded lashes for a new take on the trend, adding in some 'wow' for a more technical eye-catching look. On the other side of the spectrum, both Victoria Beckham and Zac Posen turned to creamy metallic eyes for a subtle yet effective shimmer for an added depth of colour on a flawless base.


Most Popular Trend 1: Prim and Proper Natural Beauties

It's safe to say that the British totally rocked this trend - we know the meaning of a true English Rose (and a complexion reddened by the windy cold weather) and so many designers pulled it off with an effortless edge. Topshop Unique took full inspiration from the typical 'just stepped inside' lady and showcased a trend full of windswept waves, natural sunshine-induced freckles, and perky pink cheeks.

Jonathan Saunders also went for a natural look, but hinted at more of a subtle glow and pink hint than Topshop. With taupe-brown lips for contour and colour against a pale lip and full groomed brows, this was definitely a more post-Summer day glow to work into the autumn season and reflect the royal toned colours seen in the collections. Similarly, Christopher Kane continued the bronze gold smoke and contour in his collection, however the focus was more on pale skin, fresh yet contrasted in porcelain rather than sun-kissed.

Most Popular Trend 2: Natural with Depth

Still quite fresh but leaning towards rebellious school girl, Erdem kept the brows dark and straight whilst lining the tightline and outer-edges slightly of the eye with black kohl for a smudgy yet defined finish to contrast the 60s fashion collection presented. The skin was matte to reflect the matte eyes and look more even, as seen as well in Giles which went one step further to combine the orange-gold smoke but also create a deep purple-hue black on the lips. I personally love a dark lip and this will be an interesting and bold look to pull off in the autumn months, and although it may seem scary I think it's quite easy to pull off with the mix of gold, fresh skin, subtle contour and defined shape. Both collections omitted mascara, so three cheers to easy eye make-up removal!

Finally following suit - and of course, knocking it out the park thanks to Wendy Rowe - Burberry created the easiest to wear modern 90s/00s smoke to define and reflect the eyes. It's a great transition from their SS15 Birds and The Bees look for SS15, switching from bold lip to eyes without making it took stark - the brown/grey/taupe is so nice washed over the lid - tried it already - and the semi-matte/luminous skin really offsets it perfectly. The nude lip makes it daytime appropriate, but a dark nude or red lip will take you straight into the night.

AW15  has definitely nailed it in my opinion, and I'm so glad to see the continuation of flawless, natural skin bases with bold lips or eyes, groomed features, and colours so effortless and easy to wear that they can relate to a much wider audience. Every collection appears to flow seamless from the previous, and all reflect the emergence of women who want to look classic and chic but have the comfort and ease of putting their beauty bits to work without too much fuss. Features look striking and enhanced, cheeks look glowing and fresh, and hair is so easy to recreate you'll be thankful for those extra minutes in the morning. Fashion Week, you've done me proud.

Are you a fan of Fashion Week? Who is your favourite designer? What beauty trends are you liking and looking forward to?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

If there's one thing I've learnt about food, it's that it isn't always perfectly presented - cakes rise awkwardly, tarts bake more on one side, heck even garlic crisps up in an instant! Personally, I like the slight homemade touch it gives; it shows you've got your hands in there and you've made a whopping big comfort food meal that will leave you satisfied for hours, which is certainly the case with today's recipe.

Jacket potato - the ultimate quick comfort food that fills you up with carbs and lovely toppings. Since going off regular potatoes, I haven't had a true jacket in months, but when you want to take an old classic and reinvent it you have to go with your gut - literally. Crispy skin, fluffy insides, and a delicious topping to blend all the flavour together, what more could you want?

Obviously you can make what ever topping you please, but I've incorporated some vegan cheese for those who want to enjoy that creamy texture without the dairy (it's surprisingly good) and a delicious spicy quac with a twist to give you a truly filling meal to dine in delight.

Ingredients (serves 2)
2 Large Sweet Potatoes | Olive Oil | Pink Himalayan Salt
For the Guac  1 Large Avocado | Cucumber | 2 Spring Onions | Mixed Veg - Peppers, Courgette | Quinoa | Chilli Flakes | Cayenne Pepper | Parsley
For the Cheese  3 Tsp Free & Easy Cheese Flavour Sauce Mix | Almond Milk | 2 Small Red Onions | Corriander

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200c, and line a baking tray with foil. Wash and cover the potatoes in oil and salt, rubbing in until it becomes textured, and bake for an hour drizzled in the left over oil.

2. In a bowl, mash together the avocado with the spring onions, cucumber and parsley. Take a frying pan and add in your mixed veg (can be frozen) to some coconut oil and the spices. Cook until soft and then mix in the veg with the guac, leaving the oil in the pan for later.

3. When there is 20 minutes left on the clock, mix up your cheese sauce. Add in the 3 Tsps and just cover with milk, allowing it to thicken and then adding in milk until the right consistency and amount. Fry off the onions in the remaining chilli oil, and then stir into the sauce with some corriander.

4. When the potatoes are nice and soft but crispy on the outside, remove from the oven as carefully as you can! If they fall apart, that's cool, they'll be lovely and fluffy for mashing in the toppings. Cut the potatoes in half and fluff up the inside, and then pile on the two toppings onto each potato to mash and mix in. Make sure it piles high and if it falls off, even better! Now serve up and slice up a section so you can get a taste of both.

There's just something so pleasing about being presented with a plate of comfort food piled high with topping. I'm quite happy to exchange my old love of cheese and beans for a heavy ladle of avocado-quinoa-quac - uh I'm practically salivating over here, it looks so perfect for my carb-feasting needs. Yes it may not look the best, but that adds more to it's charm and I can gladly inform you that both of these were demolished in less than ten minutes by everyone at lunch!

Homemade food that's quick, easy, and pleases everyone - that's the best kind of meal. No rush, no fancy things, just a bit of coating and some quick topping before it all transforms into the perfect meal. Let it all fall apart, let the oils, butter or cheese go everywhere - better for wiping up at the end - and enjoy your meal with satisfaction. Get those forks at the ready, it's dinner demolition at it's finest!

Are you a jacket potato fan? Do you meals that look homemade or something a bit more 'presented'? What is your topping of choice?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

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Monday, 23 February 2015

This year I've made it my goal to get my skin in shape - after years of bad habits and bad products, and still  dealing with flareups I couldn't leave alone, I decided that with it being a new year and turning 21 soon I should be treating myself, and my skin, better.

I've almost got the skincare down, there's just a few more products I want to invest in after I finish scraping the current remainders out of their tubes - Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm, Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel, and Alpha H Liquid Gold are among the very long list of must-haves I'm hoping to stock up on soon *come on N.Dulge Points!* - but one of the best ways to get my skin in tip top shape is the weekly face mask. I absolutely love steaming my pores open, getting a declogging formula in there and sitting back for a few minutes whilst it gets to work, and the results are always good - so good in fact my skin is looking just as clear and in good condition as it was when I was about 12; that's a long time to be having ups and downs with skin and beauty!

But back onto the face masks, and over time I've whittled my collection down to a few key brands and essential picks that just always do the job properly and have helped my skin look alive and clear instead of a bit gross and blotchy. One of the things I was never quite good at was exfoliation, it was either too much or none at all so now I like to do two types of exfoliation masks per week - firstly, the Quick Fix Exfoliating Scrub Mask which is just like your old school scrub except it works a little bit deeper to get out those blackheads. I like to do this after a shower so my pores are open just a bit - not after an intense steam as it can be quite harsh - and it helps to buff away the dead skin cells and clogged plugs whilst I massage it in quite firmly with my hands so it's not too abrasive. Leave it on for 10 minutes and it will have bought out all the soap scum and grime from your face whilst giving it a little polish - sorted. For more of a renewal for my skin, I like to use the REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask - don't let the marmalade texture put you off, it's bloomin amazing, and is more of a peel that contains Lactic Acid to take off the top few layers of dead skin to reveal your natural glow, whilst combating the deeply clogged pores by helping to just ease them up and out; definitely more of one to reveal your healthy skin than clean the pores but both work together to get things out and moving!

Another skin classic from REN is their Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial* and it's such a great quick fix in the morning; the Vitamin C helps lift those dull grey areas into the light and also reduces the appearance of imperfections so it's great on those lingering blemish marks. I've found it really helps give a quick boost of softness and smoothness to my skin which is nice without having to wait around for a while, and it feels boosted and plump for the day ahead.
Finally, the one that sets to get in there and clear out those pores good and proper, and is all a new firm fave in my collection, is the Aesop Chamomile Concentrate Anti-Blemish Mask. This sets immediately  which is hard when you've got a cup of tea to drink but the quicker it gets started, the quicker those blackheads are out of there! Because my skin has been good as of late, I've not experienced it dragging up all the 'lying in wait' spots but it has definitely dried up and bought out any plugs or lingering spots I have that were just waiting to be prodded - gross I know, I'm sorry - which makes it great not only as a clearing up mask but also an intensive spot-treatment; just dab a bit on the inflamed or bumpy area and overnight the chamomile will have drawn out the impurity, calmed any redness and significantly reduced the size of your spot. I use this once or twice a week to keep my pores clear of any dirt and build up, and I have to say I'm impressed so far as it really dries out spots and gets the T-Zone looking clear, and you don't need a lot on your face so the price tag is pretty reasonable - thank you Aesop! (update: mix this with Elemeis Herbal Lavender Mask and everything will come up, in a good way! It's also perfect to pop on redness and blemishes to stop you from touching them, letting them heal.)

So what's next? Well there's a few bumps and bits that I'd like to clear up and get rid of, but right now I'm so happy with how clear my skin is looking. No blemishes, no red marks, no angry spots or deep plugs, and I can go out just wearing a lipstick if I so fancy - I have actually done this, and got hit on by an old man, so it seems to be working pretty well (even if the target market is a few decades off....) Finally after years of stripping cleansers, chemical solutions and even antibiotics, I have a skincare routine to give my face some peace of mind, and a facial clear-up team to rival that of yours truly devouring a bag of almonds - pretty swift let me tell you. Skincare goals, you're looking good.

Have you got a favourite face mask? Do you have any skincare or beauty goals this year? Will you be trying any of these brands?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

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Saturday, 21 February 2015

On average, I eat about 1-2 avocados a day - depends on what's for lunch or dinner, but more often than not, avocado makes everything in a meal better. What was once my most feared food is now my best friend that I cannot live without; slathered on rye bread as butter for my sandwich or toast, another texture and flavour to my quinoa salad, or the perfect flan topping with onions and mushrooms - I've just gone and made myself very  hungry - but what is my body benefiting from with all this avo-consumption? Am I slowly turning green? Is it too rich to eat in my diet everyday? Should I avo-break?

Well, I thought about it and suddenly it occured to me that I should write down all the health benefits of my favourite foods to share, so that I can see what exactly my body is absorbing every day and you can find out why you should be giving it a go too!

1. Adding avocado to a salad that contains carrot increases your body's absorption of beta-carotene by 200-400% as beta-carotene is fat soluble - um, amazing!

2. Avocado generally has a rep as a 'high fat' food which is true in that 85% of its calories come from fat, however  it is filled with good fats! Avocado contains properties that reduce inflammation and support the inflammatory system in our bodies, and also contains a large proportion of oleic acid which helps our digestive tract form transport molecules for fat that can increase our absorption of fat-soluble nutrients. As it is a mono-saturated fatty acid, it can lower your risk of heart disease, plus trick your brain into feeling full!

3. Speaking of feeling full, with avocado being 40% fibre and 27% of your RDA you'll be satisfying your hunger quickly and shifting some stuff in there - gross, I know, but essential.

4. Depending on the ripeness of the avocado, it can help regulate blood sugar!

5. If you're a veggie then good news - avocado contains 4g of protein which is more than any other fruit!

6. Avocado is a low-carb friendly food as at 160 Calories a serving, it only contains 9g of carbs which 7g of it is 'net carbs', technically classing it as a superfood.

7. At 14g of Potassium a serving - something we're not getting enough of - it is higher in the nutrient than bananas!

8. If you don't want to eat it, you can put it on your face as avocado's mono-saturated fats help produce and contain moisture in the epidermal layers of your skin - give me a facial ASAP.

9. Alongside almonds and other high-fat healthy foods, avocado can help you lose weight due to the fatty acids being used as a slow burning energy source. If there was ever a reason for me to eat more avo' and almonds then this would be it.

10. Finally, avocado contains omega-3 which can help if you don't eat a lot of fish in your diet - all the more guacamole for you to make and enjoy!

Are you an avocado fan? Would you avo consider more of it in your diet? Do you avo fruit or veg you used to hate but now love?

Lots of Love - and excuse the bad avo puns!
Lauren x

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

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Friday, 20 February 2015

If there's one drawer in my make-up stash that's overflowing slightly too  much, it's the lipsticks; I'm a sucker for a pretty red, purple, nude and even a lip balm or five, so when the 3 for 2 offers roll round at Boots or my Space NK vouchers are calling out from my purse, I'm pretty partial to buying a few new bits that will make my lips rock.

There may be a few too many similar shades, but let's be honest each one is different in it's own way - keep telling yourself that Lauren  - and I've definitely been able to pick out the most-loved formulas from the bunch that will go with me everywhere, plus the lip care products that keep my pout in perfect condition. So sit back and get your pen ready to add some of these lip lovers to your wishlist - you won't be disappointed...

Let's start with the base, because everyone wants soft smooth lips that make application a dream; if your lips are a bit flaky or dry, just a gentle scrub with an exfoliator and flannel will soothe any dry areas and leave you with a supple base, which will need a lot of lip balm on top to protect the new skin. I personally like to use something organic and natural that will be kind to my skin in the long run, so for an intense overnight treatment I use the PapayaGold PawPaw Moisturising Balm* which contains Active Manuka Honey 20+ meaning it contains a much higher level of active healing properties to draw healing fluids and nutrition to areas that are wounded or a bit delicate, giving them essential moisture and a bit of a medical pamper whilst you sleep. Another benefit to the balm is that it's suitable anywhere on the skin, so if you have eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis then I can 100% vouch for this product to clear up your irritated and sore dry areas - my hands feel uh-mazing  finally!
Another lip balm that I use throughout the day is the Hurraw! Lip Balm* which is raw and vegan friendly - can I get a huge woop?! Before I finally got my paws on this, I read that in our life time we will all consume seven pounds of lip product, which considering a large proportion of it isn't natural or that great for your insides, is pretty gross, so making a switch to a daily lip balm that is vegan, raw, gluten-free, organic, and has a basis of oils including coconut, jojoba, olive and cacao butter plus  some insanely great infused flavours is just a no brainer in my opinion. I'm absolutely loving the fresh Lime flavour in the morning, and I'm already eyeing up Vata, Pitta, Kapha, and Cinnamon for my collection...

So we've got a base, and to make my lipstick look even more super duper I do like to line my lips - it really does help your lipstick last longer and they can even be a great shade to wear alone with some balm for total ease. A nude, a brown, a pink and red are essential liners to have in your collection, and I personally love drugstore brands such as Rimmel for theirs as they last all day and have great pigmentation with no drag, but I am eyeing up a few from MAC including Stone and Soar - who isn't after Soar these days?!

As much as I love a liner, I'm a much bigger fan of the lipstick, so here's where we get into some real lip loving. Now, nude shades tend to be 'my lips don't exist' or a bit too pink, but I've found a happy medium that looks fabulous over a brown, nude, pink or even red liner, and of course on it's own - the Chanel Rouge Coco Lipstick in No.5 Mademoiselle; this is a bit creamier than the normal texture I'd usually go for, but it is a bit more matte and hydrating than MAC Sheen Supreme formulas - which personally all go to edge of your lips and slide everywhere with minimal even coverage. The colour is a lovely pink/brown with a lavender base which makes it much more suitable to natural lip colours for that hint of something without making it a huge deal to touch up during the day, and the design of the lipstick itself is gorgeous - a sleek black case that clicks so no lost lids or smudged colours, plus it's a great shape to apply to the whole of your mouth.
Chanel's lip prices are quite consistent with other luxury brands so if you're looking for a shade that you'll wear every day with a comfortable, full-proof formula that definitely try the Roge Coco range.

On the more budget end of the spectrum but still just as high-quality are the Sleek True Colour Lipsticks, which I have absolutely fallen for. Very similar in consistency to Chanel but with a few more bright and bold shades which are fun to rock and experiment with, I particularly love Loved Up* which is an awesome blue-based pink, as well as the Chanel dupe Liqueur*. As I said the formula is similar to Chanel, being a bit matte and highly pigmented but with a bit of cream to keep your lips hydrated through the day, you can't go wrong with these on a budget.
If you want to get a bit more experimental though, Sleek also have these great Lip 4 Palettes which are perfect for the budding make-up artist in you - you can mix and match 4 shades and formulas to create your own signature pout, and I love using the Showgirl* palette to create a deep yet bold pink - if you've read this post you'll know that I find it hard to wear pink sometimes, so this palette is a dream to create my own wearable shade!

For something a bit more balmy but with big pigmentation, then you need the Revlon ColourBurst Matte Lip Balms in your life. These apply like a dream with a natural coverage that really injects some colour, and I couldn't live without Sultry for gorgeous everyday lips, or Audacious for a really easy way to wear a bold orange. Usually a matte finish is very bold, clingy, and in an orange can look a bit much during the day without the right make-up to compliment, so the fact that the Revlon balms are matte but softer in their coverage and colour make this loud shade easy to throw on and re-apply during the day, plus it's very easy to use over or as a base for other shades - 10 points for multi purpose lipstick!

Finally, the brand with all the shades at a mid range price, packing a punch with the mattes, is of course MAC; I cannot fault the formula of their best-selling lipsticks and the colour is exactly what you want. Russian Red will forever and always be my perfect red - blue toned, matte and long-lasting, non-drying, goes with everything, you really can't get much better! Morange is another fabulous shade which is perfect under Revlon's Audacious if you want to tone it down, or think SS15 and let it take centre stage with bold brows and natural skin - it really brightens and adds warmth to the face. There will always be at least ten shades of MAC Lipstick on my wishlist, and their dark purples and reds are forever flawless in coverage and longevity - an essential for every woman's make-up bag.

Lipstick problem? What lipstick problem?!  Hopefully this has given you some formula inspiration, and successfully added at least five new lipsticks to your wishlist - apologies now for any enabling, but how can you resist?! Lips are such an easy way to project your personality and brighten up your smile with a splash of gorgeous colour, and natural lip care will make your lips feel and look even more magnificent in the long-term so it's all worth the investment - and overflowing lip drawers

Now please excuse me whilst I open up several tabs for Sleek, MAC and Hurraw!, it seems I have some more lip loving to catch-up on...

Are you a lipstick fan? What's your favourite brand or shade? Are you a convert of natural lip products or Manuka Honey?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

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Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Sometimes it's good to be naughty, but naughty doesn't have to mean going overboard and having regrets in the morning oh no; sometimes, naughty can be good, delicious, and down-right mind blowing that you can see yourself indulging in said naughtiness on more than one occasion during the week - or day, if you're a true bad girl ;)

This week's naughty contender is by no means a total sinner, and it's a twist on an old childhood classic that makes you want more than you can manage; the Jaffa Cake with a Twist combines three layers of taste, texture and true decadence that keeps your taste-buds tingling and totally satisfied - a chocolate lover's heaven. What's even more exciting is that this cake has a healthy twist (of course) which shouldn't surprise you, so you don't have to feel that  guilty then you're on your second cake for the night - I won't judge you, you're a true hero!

Another great edge to this bake is that can absolutely make it your own - don't fancy the fruit and nut tiffin base? That's fine! Use digestive biscuits, Rice Krispies, Oreos, just nuts, Ginger nuts, maybe even Puffed Quinoa Cereal - the possibilities to make it unique are endless, so get your Jaffa juice going and delve into something saintfully sinful...

Ingredients (serves 5 large cases)

For the Tiffin Base   40-45g Dark/Dairy-Free High Quality Chocolate | Almonds | Pumpkin Seeds | Cacao Nibs | Cranberries | Pistachios | Rolled Oats
For the Cake   50g Dairy Free Butter | 50g Sugar (I use either XyloBrit or Biona Rapadura Sugar) | Valencia Orange Flavouring | 45g Rice Flour | 20g Cocoa Powder | ½ Tsp Baking Powder | ½ Tsp Minvita Aguaje Powder | No-Egg Egg Replacer
For the Ganache   20-30g Dark/Dairy-Free High Quality Chocolate | Almond Milk | Sweet Freedom Choc Shot

1. Melt the chocolate in a bainmarie until just it starts to become liquid; make sure it's all melted to perfection and leave off the heat whilst you chop up any large nuts or components for the base.

2. Stir in the nuts/seeds/base into the chocolate until combined and the chocolate covers all the chopped pieces. Spoon the mix into a lined muffin tray and press until level and forms a crumb base. Allow to cool and set to one side.

3. The idea behind this cake is that all the ingredients are the same weight as one egg; if you want to make double then use two medium eggs to find the weight in grams and use the measurement for all the other components. In a new bowl, weigh out and cream together the butter, sugar and orange flavouring.

4. In another bowl, weigh out all the dry ingredients and sift half into the wet mixture. Using the No-Egg, make 1 whole egg and another ½  to equate the mix, and stir into the mix. Add the remaining flour and comine until gloriously gooey and chocolaty.

5. Spoon the mixture to cover each tiffin base and level out, and then cook in a pre-heated oven at 180°c for 30-40 minutes - make sure the cake is not a mousse texture when taken out, and leave to bake longer until it becomes more cake like - this is due to the egg, but is completely okay!

6. Keep the cakes in the tin, and melt the remaining chocolate to combine with a splash of milk and Choc Shot until a ganache forms - it should be glossy and thick enough to spread but be firm. Blob in the centre and spread out until it covers the top. Take to cool, and then decorate with cacao nibs before tucking in!

Chocolate levels are in overload, but it's so worth it. The level of texture and flavour help make such a rich and dark pudding easier to eat, with the crunchy bottom packed with nuts and seeds lightening the flavours whilst the cake retains a gorgeous moisture against the orange flavouring that tastes just as good as a Jaffa Cake, and the chocolate top just seals in all the flavour and creaminess to make this cake one of pure satisfaction.

If you're wanting a more sophisticated sweet treat, then these will tick many boxes - health(ier) ingredients mixed with the darkest high quality cocoa and cacao that compliments the orange, cranberry and pistachio perfectly. I'm practically salivating.

So long Jaffa Cakes, you're naughtiness levels just don't reach the leagues of these delicious goodies. Tip your halo just slightly with this rogue treat that will make you convert to the dark (chocolate) side of life - now, to use my powers for good or evil......

Are you a fan of Jaffa Cakes? What is your saintly or naughty treat? Are you practically licking the screen (because I am)?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

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