Thursday, 15 November 2012

Essie Sand Tropez - A nude autumn colour

On my last visit to the Essie shelf, I was originally on the hunt for Essie's Miss Fancy Pants, which is part of the autumn 2012 collection. I find the colour looks quite similar to Chanel's Frenzy, a light taupe or beige mixture with a hint of dusky rose. I love nude colours on my nails and the Chanel nail polishes may be truly beautiful, but they are rather pricy. Since Essie is mostly a good option in terms of quality and price (€7.95), I liked the idea of buying the Essie version of the colour.
Unfortunately, Miss Fancy Pants was already sold out. It seemed to be the most popular colour in the autumn collection, since all the other five colours were still available.
Once there, I thought I might as well browse the rest of the Essie shelf. And of course, I did not leave the drug store empty-handed. I opted for a colour that is quite similar to Miss Fancy Pants, but a bit lighter - Sand Tropez.

Essie's Sand Tropez
The polish was easy to apply and not too liquid. The individual brush strokes did not create lines in the polish I had already applied to my nail. The polish spread evenly across my nail, forming an even surface. After applying one coat, the polish already looked quite opaque. So if you're in a rush, it is not absolutely necessary to apply a second coat. However, I went for a second coat, which intensified the colour on the nails.
I also love Essie polishes, because they tend to dry quite fast. This is also the case for Sand Tropez. After around 15 minutes, I was ready to go.

I really love the classic and chique lool it gives to my nails. I think you could wear this colour all year round and it suits nearly every outfit. It is definitely work-appropriate, but at the same time, you can also wear it for a night out or even with a casual outfit - a true 'allrounder'.
Although the name of the polish calls up associations of summer and beach, suggesting a 'summer nail polish', I would personally go for more pink or rosy-toned nude colours like Essie's Ballet Slippers or Sugar Daddy in spring or summer. Nevertheless, I think Sand Tropez would still be well wearable and look pretty during these seasons.
However, for autumn and winter, Sand Tropez is just perfect for me.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Autumn time = Needlework time

When we returned from summery Australia about a month ago, we were confronted with the cool and fresh autumn weather back home.
I didn't take me long to switch from Australian summer to German autumn/winter mode, because I simply love the cold season too much.
Since the outside temperatures felt even colder than they actually were with my body still used to an average 25°C in Australia, I felt that I had to dig out my coat and scarf.
While shopping, I stumbled across loop scarfs or 'snoods' in nearly every store. I've always wanted a snood, but unfortunately, the ones I found in the stores were made of 100% acrylic wool and cost around €30, which I found quite expensive, considering the fact that it is a cheap material.
So the only option was to knit one myself. My last knitting project was quite some time ago, since I have been giving all my craft-related attention to my sewing machine for the past 2 years. I went to a local yarn shop where they sell all kinds of yarn as well as knitting and crocheting accessories.
I went for a yarn in a warm red, brickwork colour, which is made of 85% new wool and 15% camel's wool ('Camello' by ggh GmbH) and perfectly matches the colour of my winter coat. I bought five 50g balls to make sure I would not run out of yarn half the way though my little project.

 Before starting to cast on the stitches, I read up on some snood knitting projects on other people's knitting blogs for some inspiration. I originally had the idea of including cables in the pattern, but I decided against it, because I was not sure whether you could actually see the cable once the scarf is slung around the neck. I decided to keep the snood simple and alternated between two knit and two purl stitches (rather classic, I would say).
I used a thick circular needle (8mm) and cast on 90 stitches. After knitting four rows, I started alternating between knitting and purling. When no more than half a ball out of the five was left, I knitted four rows again to make sure that the ending matched the beginning.

In the end, it only took me one or two hours each day to finish the snood, all in all probably five nights while watching the telly. I think it was worth the effort, because I love the result. The snood is warm and snug and is not as scratchy as scarfs made of pure or acrylic wool, thanks to the camel's wool.

After finishing the snood, I felt I had to go back to a sewing project, which had been lingering on my to-do list for quite some time. It's my cousin's birthday this week and she invited us for a birthday breakfast on Sunday. She likes handcrafted home decor and 'all things nice', so I was planning to sew her a Christmassy sofa cushion (I hope she won't read this blog post before Sunday). I bought a normal 50cm x 50cm cushion at Ikea to use as a filling and sewed the case around it.

The chequered fabric with the small Christmas trees and stars well as the plain beige fabric and border had been waiting to be processed for nearly two years now and I thought they would be perfect for the purpose.
I used biscuit cutters to give the centre applications the right shape. I sewed them on the centre piece of fabric by using a very narrow zigzag stitch.

I hope she likes her present.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Sweet Chilli Sauce - the result of an abundant chilli harvest

This year, I was blessed with an abundant chilli harvest. I've been growing chillies in the garden for a couple of year now, sometimes with results that were not worth mentioning. This year, however, I discovered the 'Chinese Five Color' in the online shop where I usually buy all sorts of seeds and seedlings to grow in the vegetable patch. I loved the idea of having five colours of chilli on one plant and I also find the plant itself really pretty.

The plant seems to have been a good choice, because the amount of chillies it grew was enormous. And with autumn being in full swing now, I had to pick the remaining chillies from the plant to prevent them from going bad. But what to do with a pile of chillies? After some web research, I came across this very easy recipe for sweet chilli sauce. It is really quick and the result is absolutely yummy.

2-3 chillies
1 tsp sea salt
180ml water
120g sugar (I used brown sugar)
60ml vinegar (I used rice vinegar)
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp water

Put all ingredients, except for the corn starch and 2 tablespoons of water, into a high bowl and blend either with a hand blender or food processor. Bring mixture to the boil and let it simmer for around 5 minutes. In the meantime, mix the corn starch with the water and stir well. Slowly pour the starch mixture into the boiling chilli sauce and keep stirring to allow the sauce to thicken.
Pour the hot sauce into twist-off glasses or bottles by using a small funnel and allow it to cool down.

The sauce tastes great with chicken, turkey or any Asian-style or inspired dish. It has a nice mixture hotness from the chillies, which is sweet and fruity at the same time.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Cookie Monster Cupcakes

Last week, I made some Cookie Monster Cupcakes for one of my colleagues, because it was his birthday. The idea of baking Cookie Monster Cupcakes for his birthday grew in my mind after he had told me about the Cookie Monster's version of Carly Rae Jepson's "Call me maybe", which was retitled "Share it maybe". He thought it was absolutely hilarious and showed me the video on YouTube. And I have to admit, it's really cute.

Cookie Monster Muffins

So, here is how I made the cupcakes. You can use any type of cupcake or muffin as a base. Simply go for your favourite recipe. I decided to make some lemon cupcakes, because I like the combination of lemon and cococut.

Ingredients for lemon cupcakes (makes 12):

300g plain flour
175g sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
150g soft butter
Lemon flavouring (as much as you like)
175ml milk

  • Preheat your oven to 180°C. Insert your cupcake cases into the muffin tin.
  • Mix flour, sugar, baking poweder and salt in a bowl.
  • Mix eggs, butter, milk and flavouring in a second bowl using an electric whisk.
  • Add the mixture of the dry ingredients to the egg-butter mixture and carefully mix the two together by using a spoon.
  • Spoon the dough into the muffin tin and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Let the cupcakes cool.

Cookie Monster decoration:

What your need:
125 g icing sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice
Desiccated coconut
Blue food colouring
100g marzipan paste
25g chocolate
12 biscuits (your favourite type)

What to do:
  • Mix the icing sugar and lemon joice. Add some more lemon juice if the icing is too thick.
  • Pour the desiccated coconut into a bowl and add some food colouring. Stir well and make sure that the flakes are evenly coloured. If you are not satisfied with the colouring result, add some more colouring.
  • Take a cupcake and dip the top into the icing mix. Let any excess drip off. Then dip the cupcake into the coconut flakes, carefully movng it around to ensure that all spots on the cupcake are covered with coconut flakes.
  • Remove the cupcake from the coconut flakes and place it on a tray to dry.
  • Repeat the procedure until all cupcakes are covered in blue coconut flakes. Let the topping dry.
  • In the meantime, devide the marzipan paste into 24 equal portions. Roll each portion between your hands to form a small ball. For each cupcake, take two balls and place them on the top of the cupcake. Carefully push them onto the surface of the cupcake to form the eyes of the Cookie Monster. They should stay in place without having to add extra icing sugar.
  • Melt the chocolate in the microwave (careful, do not overheat). Dip a toothpick into the chocolate to take up a very small amount on the tip of the toothpick.
  • Carefully dip the chocolate on the marzipan balls to form the pupil. Repeat for each eye.
  • Take a knife and insert the tip into the cupcake where you want to place Cookie Monster's mouth. Take a biscuit and insert it into the small hole you've cut.
You're done! Enjoy!

Monday, 13 August 2012

Mango Beautifying Oil by The Body Shop

I first read about the new Beautifying Oils by The Body Shop in a blog post more than a month ago, but I can't remember which blog it was. However, the girl in the blog loved the oil - I think she got the Pink Grapefruit oil - because it helped her get rid of the dry skin on her shinbones. She also loved the scent of the oil.

Since I also suffer from dry skin on my body, especially my elbows, I thought I could give it a try. I also liked the idea that the oils are completely natural and do not contain any silicone like most oil products that are currently available for skin and hair.

I decided to buy the mango-scented oil, because I simply loved the smell. I also liked the other scents, but I loved mango the most.
The other scents available are: coconut, moringa, shea, cocoa butter, sweet lemon, strawberry, satsuma, pink grapefruit, olive and chocomania.
 According to The Body Shop, the oils are "pure beauty in a bottle." They contain "a lightweight blend of nut oils including Community Fair Trade marula oil" and are to give "instant hydration and a shimmering finish."
The label on the bottle says that the oil can be used to moisturise, smooth and illumnate body, face and hair.

I've been using the oil for several weeks now and I love it. I use three to four drops on my hand, rub both hands together and apply it on my elbows.
I have also started using it on my face, because one day, after I had used a peeling mask, the skin on my face felt dry and tight even after having applied my moisturiser, which is currently Clinique Moisture Surge. I thought I'd accept the risk of my skin breaking out, which often happens when I use too oily products. But that didn't happen at all.
The oil leaves a slightly oily feeling on the skin, but does not result in the skin looking greasy or oily. The oil seems to sink in quite quickly and the tight feeling goes away immediately. However, I would only use the oil on my face at night, because I think that in the morning or during the day, a foundation would not stay in place if applied on top of the oil.
I will definitely continue using the oil as a relief on my face whenever the skin feels particularly dry or tight. I could image that the oil will come in handy in winter when it's colder. 

The scent is not as intense as that of the Body Butters by The Body Shop. Of course, you can smell it after applying the oil, but it fades after a while. Thus, it is still possible to apply perfume when having used the oil, which I would not recommend in combination with the Body Butters. Their scent is definitely more dominant and their sweet fruity scent mixes with the fragrance of your perfume.

In general, I would highly recommend the Beautifying Oil by The Body Shop if you have dry skin or dry patches both on your body and face. I like the texture, the scent and the way it moisturises my skin without causing breakouts. I haven't used it on my hair so far because I do not tend to get dry hair, but I might give it a try on the ends of my hair only to see whether it makes my hair look greasy.
Since a small amount goes a long way, the price is not too bad either. The bottle contains 100ml or 3.3 fl. oz and costs €10.00 in Germany and £9.00 in the UK. Give it a try, you won't be disappointed!