Sunday, 29 March 2015

Healthy Chicken and Sweet Potato Curry


Since I started blogging last year I have very rarely blogged about anything other than beauty and I think it’s time to change that. Now again I will post about another passion of mine – cooking!  Cooking is something I absolutely love doing and used to do all the time in university. Since starting full time work 9am – 6pm I have found it hard to prepare meals from scratch, but now I have moved into a new flat I am determined to be more organised and stop making excuses!

One of my all-time favourite healthy recipes is this chicken, sweet potato, spinach and lentil curry. Surprisingly I found it in one of the many student cook books I had in uni, I can’t find the book now but luckily I’ve made it so many times I know the recipe off by heart so I thought I would share it on my blog.


Ingredients:

1 tablespoon of coconut oil

4 tablespoons of curry paste

450 - 500g chicken

2 sweet potatoes

120g red split lentils

One or two cans of coconut milk

500ml chicken stock

400g spinach

juice of 1 lime

Optional:

1 green chilli

As you can see from the ingredients it is such a healthy recipe and it’s not complicated to make at all. It is also really good value, all the ingredients are reasonably priced and go a long way – probably why it was recommended for students on a budget! I’d say this recipe makes enough to serve four people, what I normally do is divide it up into containers and then take some to work the next day for lunch and freeze the rest for dinner on other days. It still tastes gorgeous after being frozen and defrosted which is a big plus for me!

Here’s how I make it:


First, heat the coconut oil then add the curry paste and cook for around one minute until hot, just be careful not to burn the paste! Then add the chicken and cook for five minutes to seal. 


Add the diced sweet pototoes and lentils and coat them well with the paste. 


Then add the coconut milk and stock. The reason I have said one or two cans of coconut is because it really depends how much of the other ingredients you have, it is easy to make this curry too watery so you want to experiment with amounts of coconut milk and stock until you get the consistency you want. For this I added one and a half cans of coconut milk. 

Bring it to the boil and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20-30 mins. 


You will see the curry start to thicken as the lentils work there magic. You can always add more coconut milk or stock if you feel necessary at this point.


Once the sweet potato and lentils are tender you can add the spinach. Allow it to wilt for 3-4 minutes then remove from the heat. Then squeeze in the lime juice and scatter over the green chilli if you want some more spice (I personally leave out the green chilli unless I fancy a bit more of a kick!).


There you have it! A gorgeous and extremely healthy curry which is quick and easy to make. You can serve it with rice, I normally go for brown rice as it is better for you then white rice. Let me know what you think - have you tried anything like this before? Have you got any healthy recipes to share with me?
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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

U Spicy Cosmetic Brush Set


I first came across U Spicy when I saw Carly from Carly’s Beauty World reviewed them on her blog. The brushes looked amazing and such a good price! Carly’s blog is one of my favourites and I love her reviews so I knew when she said they are good brushes that they must be worth a try. I have been wanting to expand my makeup brush collection for a while now. I normally buy a brush now and again from either Real Techniques or Mac, but they can be quite expensive so my collection isn’t expanding fast. I want to experiment with different types of face brushes so I thought this brush set from U Spicy would be perfect.


U Spicy have a few different makeup brush sets available to buy on Amazon here and the one I went for is the 10 cosmetic brush set. This contains 10 brushes all for the face and only costs £12.99 on Amazon! As soon as I saw them I fell in love with the gorgeous packaging. The brushes came in a purple and gold box with a pull out draw and each brush was individually wrapped in protective plastic. I thought this was quite impressive to have high quality packaging like this when you are only paying £12.99.


As for the brushes themselves, I absolutely love the design. The black and gold gives an expensive feel to them and they are definitely a bit of a Real Techniques dupe. When they arrived there was a bit of a plastic smell to the brushes which worried me a bit, but it states on the instructions to wash them and let them dry naturally to eliminate the smell and this definitely worked.

Another great point about this set it that it comes with a user manual which has pictures, names and details of what each brush can be used for.


Larger brushes from left to right:

1.  Tapered Brush – for applying liquid or cream foundations in harder to reach areas of the face.
2. Round Brush – for blending mineral products onto the skin
3. Angled Brush – for adding brusher to the cheeks
4. Flat Angled Brush – for blending foundation or contouring
5. Flat Brush - for applying liquid or cream foundations to flat areas such as the forehead


Smaller brushes from left to right:

1. Precision Tapered Brush – for adding blush or highlighter
2. Precision Angled Brush – for applying bronzer to sides of the nose or hollows of the cheeks
3. Precision Round Brush – for applying eye shadow base or primer
4. Precision Flat Angled Brush – for precise application of concealer
5. Precision Flat Brush – for stippling concealer

The quality of the brushes is really good for the price. I find some cheaper brushes can feel rough on the skin but these are very soft and feel lovely on the skin.  You can also apply a good amount of pressure and they feel strong and sturdy – for example when stippling foundation. I’m not sure how well these brushes will last long term – I worry after a few washes they might start to lose some bristles or the metal might split from the wood, but this is probably to be expected for the price – and I’m just being  skeptical!

I’m really happy with these brushes as there’s such a range of choice, they pretty much cover every kind of face brush you could need! I think these would make a great set for anyone looking to start experimenting with makeup brushes as you can work out what kind you like without spending too much money. The lovely packaging they come in means they would make a lovely gift too.

Have you heard of U Spicy before? Do you like the sound of these brushes?



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Thursday, 19 March 2015

W7 Eyeshadow Palettes 'In The Buff' and 'In The Night'


Just in case you haven’t come across W7 before, they are a makeup brand with an aim to provide affordable, but good quality makeup. I think their presence and popularity in the blogging world is fairly recent, as I seem to be seeing lots of reviews everywhere over the last few months. Their products are most definitely affordable, I was shocked how reasonable their prices are when I looked on their website. The feedback about W7 seems to be pretty positive overall, but I knew I had to get my hands on some of their products to find out for myself.

I have to say to start with, it’s not the easiest brand to get hold of, their products are stocked in ASDA, TKMaxx, Next, Peacocks and Fragrance Direct, but only in selected stores. I luckily found these eye shadow palettes in TKMaxx a few weeks ago. It seems the design of every W7 product is based on that of a high end product, as you can see these palettes look suspiciously similar to the Urban Decay palettes and a lot of others seem to be based on the look of Benefit products. This doesn’t really bother me that much as I can understand that they are trying to appeal to those who like the high end products, but I’m sure a lot of people would see this as a downside as they are not being very unique and original. At the end of the day I don’t really mind too much what they look like as long as they are good quality products to use.


These palette retail at £9.99 in most places, but in TKMaxx I managed to get them for £5.99 – absolute bargain! The packaging isn’t amazing, the tin case is quite flimsy, although it does protect the eye shadows which is the main purpose. They each came with a double ended brush, which isn’t really great at all, I haven’t used them. It would be too good to be true to expect a good quality brush for that price, so I don’t see this as a negative.


The first palette is called ‘In the Buff’ and contains a gorgeous mixture of matte and shimmery nudes and golds. What I do like is the effort W7 have gone to with naming each eye shadow individually – as I sometimes find with cheaper brands they just refer to the shades as numbers.

The shades above from left to right are Buff, Camel, Sand, Dust, Chocolate, Topaz, Earth, Storm, Silk, Wave, Thunder and Onyx. This palette is most definitely a dupe for Naked 2, the colours are almost identical.

The second W7 palette I picked up is called ‘In The Night’. As soon as I saw this I fall in love with the smokey colours, it features some stunning purple and silver shades which are perfect for an evening look.

The shades from left to right are Dusty, Wonderland, Summer, Atlanta, Abracadabra, Top Hat, Razzamataz, Lady Luck, Laura E, Party Pooper, Gate Crash and Bologna.

The quality of these eye shadows is very impressive considering the low price tag. The pigmentation isn’t as good as that of the Naked palettes, but it is good enough and you don’t find yourself having to use lots of product to get a noticeable result. I have found wetting the brush before applying the eye shadow really helps, especially with the darker purple shades, it allows me to create a really bold smokey eye. The eye shadow lasts well throughout the day, I wear some of the nude shades to work during the day and they stay on all day without moving out of place.

Overall, I am really impressed with these eye shadow palettes from W7. There is such a good selection of shades so you can create so many different looks from only one palette and only spending £9.99!


There are a couple of others available and next I’d really like to try the ‘In The Nude’ palette. Have you tried any of these? What do you think?

Find out more here: http://www.w7cosmetics.co.uk

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Saturday, 14 March 2015

MooGoo Oil Cleansing Method


In my last post I mentioned I went to the #nyLDNmeet back in January which was my first blogger event and so much fun. At the event we were lucky enough to attend a presentation from the Australian skin care brand MooGoo, who have recently expanded to the UK. MooGoo are a company focused on providing completely natural, safe products and without using any harsh chemical based ingredients. I was so excited when I heard this, as my skin can often be quite sensitive and I always prefer to use natural products where possible.

MooGoo have a really interesting story on how they came about, which explains where the name and packaging design came from, in case you were wondering what it has to do with cows! It all started when an udder cream that was made to heal cows’ udders and keep them in prime condition was found to be full of skin repair ingredients for humans.

Since then, MooGoo have developed this cream making it suitable for human consumption and much lighter and non-greasy. As you can see from the pictures, they have greatly expanded their range of skin products to help with a wide range of skin and scalp problems.
During the presentation we were introduced to all of MooGoo products and how each of them work. One of the really great things I noted at this point was how MooGoo list all of their ingredients on the packaging of each product and tell you about everything included. Since doing some exploring on their website, I have also seen how they explain in great detail what each ingredient is and what it does. I think this is something more companies should do, it makes me feel much more confident with putting a product on my skin when I know exactly what is in it.

After the presentation we were each asked to choose a product we would like to try out. There was one in particular that caught my eye and I knew straight away I wanted to get my hands on the Oil Cleansing Method*. This is a formula made from a mixture of different oils with the aim of clearing problem skin and preventing breakouts. There are four available each for a different skin type – normal, dry, combination and oily.


I went for the formula suitable for oily skin. Before this, I have always been worried about putting oils onto already oily skin. However, after the lovely MooGoo team explained, this formula has a high percentage of drawing oils, which draw out old oils and dirt from the skin. I was really interested to try this out and see whether it would actually work for me.

This can be used everyday to wash the skin and the most effective way to do so is to massage the oil onto your face while in the shower or washing and leave on for around a minute before washing off. You can still apply moisturiser as normal afterwards.

After using this for the first time I could feel an instant result. First of all, it smells gorgeous and so refreshing - my skin felt so clean. After adding this into my morning shower routine for a week, I could really start to see a noticeable difference. My skin felt smoother and I am sure it has cleared up my pores around the nose area which can often be a problem. As for whether or not it has really reduced the oiliness of my skin, it is hard to try as I always use primers and mattifying moisturisers on my face as well.

The instructions advise that if you want more of a deep cleanse, another way of using the oil is to massage it onto the face and apply a warm cloth over the face for a few minutes which warms old oils in the pores and helps rinse them away.

I have tried this a few times and the results are amazing. As soon as I washed it off, I felt like I had been given a full facial. The oil smell gorgeous when it warms on your skin and my face felt so soft and clean after rinsing off. I did this whist lying in the bath and it was honestly the most relaxing experience. It felt similar to doing a face mask, but the process is more enjoyable, easier and less messy.

Although using it on a day to day basis is good, I really recommend doing the deep cleanse wherever possible as the results are instant. I have been trying to do this in the evenings in the bath before bed.

As I said earlier, MooGoo list each and every ingredient and explain what each one does. This Oil Cleanser for oily skin contains the following; Jojoba Oil, Oryza Sativa Bran Oil, Vitis Vinifera Seed Oil, Ricinus Communis Seed Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Tocopherol (Natural Vitamin E), Polysorbate 60, Geranium Maculatum Oil, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Oil, Juniperus Communis Fruit Oil.

These can all look rather scary when listed like that, however you can read what exactly what each one does on their website here. This has reassured me so much about what I’m putting on my skin and they do this for every product they stock. This shows to me that they are a company that genuinely care about their customers and making sure they are happy with what they are using, as they have taken the time and effort to explain everything on their website.

I am so impressed with this Oil Cleanser and so grateful I was given the chance to try it out. I’m pretty confident in saying I will be repurchasing it when it runs out! It retails for £16.90 which I think is really reasonable considering how high quality the ingredients are.

Do you like the sound of MooGoo? Visit their website here for more information.


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Monday, 9 March 2015

Macadamia Deep Repair Mask

Macadamia Deep Repair Mask
Macadamia Deep Repair Mask

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to go to my first ever blogger event which was the #nyLDNmeet. I was so nervous before I arrived, but it was such a great day, I got to meet so many lovely bloggers and had such a good time! A great bonus at the end was the wonderful goodie bag we received – so many brands contributed and it was so generous. I am still in the process of testing out all the samples that came in it, but one of my favourite’s so far is definitely the Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque.

I have to admit, I am a bit lazy when it comes to hair masks, I don’t do them nearly as often as I should. I just never seem to find time, which is bad as I’m blonde and use bleach my hair can get dry/ damaged and would often benefit from a hair mask. Receiving this Macadamia Deep Repair Mask sample definitely motivated me to start using hair masks again and I couldn’t wait to try it. I actually can’t believe I haven’t tried it already as I have seen so many great reviews about it – and now I can definitely see why.

I don’t think I’ve ever used a product on my hair until now that has given me such a great instant result. I started by wetting my hair and applying the mask, then I put my hair up in a shower cap and left it in for around half an hour. The packaging actually says to leave it in for seven minutes, but I know from experience that the longer you leave a hair mask in the better! I was nervous to leave it in for more than half an hour just because it was the first time I used it, but next time I would leave it in for as long as I can – at least an hour if not longer.

The texture is so thick, which makes it so easy to apply – it doesn’t drip anywhere and is completely mess free. It also smells amazing, after washing my hair felt so clean and refreshed, I felt as if I’d just come out of a salon! You only need a really small amount when applying, a little goes a long way. This is great as the full sized product is a bit pricey, so at least you know it will last awhile. I have managed to get two uses out of the sample I received.

After washing out the mask my hair felt so smooth and moisturized. It was so easy to brush through which is a big plus for me as I hate trying to brush my hair when it is tangled and feeling like I’m pulling it out – I didn’t have this problem at all, it makes detangling much easier.

After doing some reading about this hair mask I could see it contains macadamia oil, argan oil, tea tree oil, chamomile oil, algae and aloe extracts. They all sound wonderful and definitely explains the great results I got from using this. What worried me slightly about the amount of oils in this mask was the potential for my hair to get very greasy quickly after using it. However, I didn’t experience any problems or any noticeable different in how quickly my hair got greasy.

As you can probably tell, I am really pleased with the Macadamia Deep Repair Mask and am so grateful I got to try out this sample and find out what I have been missing! I am definitely going to be buying the full size and I think my hair will love me for it.

Have you tried this hair mask? What do you think?

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