Time For Family

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Last Sunday before I made the slog back to university and immersed myself back into the life of books, essays and lectures I had just enough time for one last family dinner before I left. And what a dinner it was.

I am exceptionally lucky that my home is in the lovely Hertfordshire and we are spoilt for choice when it comes to lovely places to eat, but this time we went for the firm favourite of Hermitage Road. The restaurant which is a converted music concert hall is hidden away up a tiny average looking entrance and winding staircase, But when you enter it leads into a massive light filled space which is the epitome of “shabby chic” providing the perfect background for a special occasion or casual breakfast.

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After thinking I couldn’t possibly eat anymore they brought the dessert menu out which is my ultimate weakness, so I couldn’t help but give in to a dark chocolate and salted caramel mousse with hazelnut brittle. I mean come on even the sound of it is making me drool. WP_20140907_14_33_43_ProWP_20140907_14_35_35_ProWP_20140907_14_35_44_ProWP_20140907_14_36_48_Pro

The staff were so lovely and accomodating and as we finished the dinner with a celebratory bottle of champagne, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed at how full and content and loved I felt. Soppy I know. After walking out with the high that only comes after a great meal, it further deepened my love for the place and if you’re in the area I highly recommend it!

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The Bronzer That Will Keep You Glowing All Autumn Long

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I’ll admit until I started properly getting into makeup in the past two years I thought bronzer was the devil. I had seen too many bronzer gone wrong scenarios when the dirty streak look had appeared and was convinced that I, as a pale ginger, was the epitome of who bronzer was not made for. Not to mention the fact that I’d never been able to find one to fit my skin tone. But oh how wrong I was. With my Birchbox a few months ago I received this bronzer from Collection 2000 and I’ll admit although I am usually dubious of the cheaper makeup brands in terms of quality, but after experiencing the greatness of their lasting concealer, I had high hopes for the brand.
From the outlook, the mix of darker browns with peachy pinks, as well as the stereotypical warm tan colours of typical bronzers makes it look a lot less daunting to a bronzer virgin like myself. So I armed myself with my favourite MAC 168 brush I set about applying it to my cheekbones as well as around the corners of my face, chin and neck. And it was great. I mean really, really great. The mix of colours in the palette means that instead of one block colour swatch, it mixes together to create a more natural looking contour on the skin, not to mention the pigmentation is perfect to make it easy to build depending on how strong a sculpted look you want.                                                                                                                                         But the best part of the whole thing, is the fact that when I went back to buy another after having finished my first one, I headed to Boots to find it was £2.99. So whether you want to keep your tan looking fresh or whether you just want a little bit of a holiday glow, with a price tag like that what are you waiting for?!

Winter Wears

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As the nights slowly grow darker earlier and the jumpers start being pulled out, it’s a sure fire sign that Summer is on its way out and Autumn’s here to stay. So to make the most of the sunshine while it lasted I grabbed my dress and hat and headed for the river. With my Topshop lace dress providing the pop of colour that will carry me through the dark winter days and the lace detailing around the middle and neckline, makes it the perfect dress to go from day to night.

My excitement when I found this hat in Topshop was uncontainable as my larger head means I had long accepted the fact the no hat ever did, or ever would look good on my head until I placed this miracle of millinery on. With H&M providing the perfect black pumps, and the bag I’ve nicknamed Mary Poppins thanks to its ability to fit everything and anything I need to carry in it, it’s my perfect come rain or come shine outfit. So bring on Autumn, whatever you have it store, I’m ready for you!

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Don’t be frowny, make some Brownies!

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Brownies must be the ultimate guilty pleasure food, I mean think about it, when have brownies ever been offered and someone’s said no? Never I bet, and if you answered yes then maybe get that person checked out as they are definitely an alien. Brownies are the type of food where there’s a type for everyone, whether you like them gooey or firm, from dark to white chocolate,with Oreos or nuts, brownies are the easiest pleasing bake there is.
Mine are adapted from Sam Stern’s book (who is great for simple, tasty dishes that aren’t too intimidating or contain crazy ingredients), and his “truffle bars” provide the most gorgeous gooey snacks.

I substituted all dark chocolate for half and half with some milk chocolate, just because I prefer a slightly less rich taste that you get from all dark chocolate, but without the sweetness that all milk gives. I also used slightly less vanilla extract as I was using vanilla paste which is much more potent than the liquid form. This is something I would definitely recommend being careful about as depending on the quality of the vanilla extract you’ll find you might need slightly more or less than suggested. But the good news is that this gives you the perfect excuse to taste some of the mixture as you go along!

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So there they are! While the original recipe suggests some piped icing over the top I prefer them with a light dusting of icing sugar or even with some fresh berries and vanilla ice cream for a delicious chocolatey, refreshing pudding. I hope you all like the recipe and if there’s anything you’d like  to see me bake in the future then comments would be much appreciated!

Gemma xx

New York, I Love You

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So this year I turn the grand old age of 21 and as I am an extraordinarily lucky girl my parents have surprised me with a trip to my favourite city, New York!

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I was lucky enough to visit the city before as part of a school trip and since then, as well as a exposure to TV shows such as FRIENDS, Gossip Girl and Sex and the City, I became obsessed. Having experienced all the tourist sites last time, I can’t wait to visit again and make the most of the city by visiting all the best places that are slightly off the beaten track. Not to mention the makeup, food and clothing brands that I’ll be able to pick up that aren’t available over on this side of the pond. Also since I’m going to be there for New Year’s Eve, I am looking forward to hunting down the perfect place to wave in the New Year, as well as celebrating the holidays with my family.

Far be it from this post simply being a post of bragging, I would love to know if any of you have any recomendations or tips for me, and I can’t wait to share the multiple photos and posts that I will inevitably take while I’m out there!

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Lets Do The Time Warp Again- Rocky Horror Picture Show MAC Collection

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I remember the first time I ever watched Rocky Horror Picture show, I was shocked, confused but most importantly obsessed. Full of time travel, sweet ingenues, murder, science and tranvestites it was like nothing I’d ever seen before. If you haven’t seen the film I highly recommend it, just because it’s one of those films so unlike anything else that even if you hate it, you’ll be glad you saw it.

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Considering it’s firm placement in pop culture history, not to mention the dramatic makeup looks featured in the films, I’m surprised it’s taken this long for a makeup collaboration. But to celebrate its 40th anniversary MAC Cosmetics have teamed up to release the collection just in time for Halloween on October 2nd, to ensure your crazy scientist transsexual, colourful, crazed time warper or ghoulish Riff Raff looks will be perfected come party time.

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With prices ranging from $17.50 for lipsticks and lip pencils, to $44.00 for the eye shadow palette, as well as the range featuring everything from pigments to powders and blushes, there’s something for everyone. No news yet as to whether it’ll be available in the UK stores but fear not it’s available online so until then you’ll just have to “shiver with antici…..pation”.

Argan Oil…. In a Mascara?!

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Like the majority of girls who’s hair has a tendency to frizz, Argan Oil has been my best friend for a loooong time. But while it provides perfect smoothness and separation on my unruly hair, is it something that I really want on my eyelashes? This is the idea behind Rimmel’s new mascara, that the Argan Oil will work its magic on those pesky lashes that are determined to stick together as well as stopping as the mascara formula itself drying and forming clumps on the lashes.

I have to say from first look I am a big fan of the brush with its plastic and incredibly tightly packed bristles, which are my personal favourites in creating a well defined lash look. With first application it certainly does seem to live up to it’s promise, with my eyelashes receiving an even coating as well as a subtle, yet defining separating lash look.  It’s upon further applications though that the mascara starts to shows it’s flaws. The Argan Oil formula which works so well in stopping the lashes clumping together, works against itself when you try to build up the colour and definition of the lashes. If you try to persevere and build up the mascara on the lashes, the sheer volume of product you have to apply means it inevitably starts to clump together, defeating the main purpose altogether, without really building up volume.
Although this is a flaw for those of us that do like a fuller lash look, it provides a great base coat to ensure lashes are separated. As a girl that swears by using multiple mascaras at once, it really isn’t an issue for me to refer back to my Benefit or Revlon favourites that ensure the build up of volume I’m looking for. It is also a great mascara for low maintenance makeup looks, as it lasts all day with no smudging and gives a great boost to lashes when aiming for a natural look.