Amazing salted caramel brownies

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I recently baked the best brownies I’ve ever baked.. twice! These salted caramel chocolate brownies are chocolatey oozy goodness that you really need to try. They are pretty quick to make and so far loved by all who’ve tried them, definitely a recipe I will keep to hand for the future.

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Ingredients:

200g butter

4 eggs

160g plain flour

60g cocoa powder

1x tin of Carnation caramel

1 tsp of flaked sea salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

300g dark chocolate

300g

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Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C

A 30cm x 20cm non-stick tin is recommended, lined with greaseproof paper.

Step 1

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Break all of the chocolate into chunks, add to a bowl with butter and melt over a pan of simmering water. Make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

Step 2

Remove the bowl from the heat, whisk the sugar into the melted mixture.

Step 3

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Add the eggs and vanilla extract, whisk until light and bubbly.

Step 4

Sieve the flour and cocoa powder into the mix, then gently fold, be gentle so as not to knock out the air.

Step 5

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Pour half the mix into the tin, spread evenly. Then spread the tin of caramel over the mix in the tin, sprinkle evenly with the salt.

Step 6

Add the rest of the chocolate mix to the tin, then bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

After the 20-25 minutes the brownie will still be soft, this is fine. Just take out and leave to cool completely in the tin.

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This is a Tanya Burr recipe, it’s available in her recipe book.

 

Let me know what you think, Ali xx

 

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Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder

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“You’ve paid how much for nothing?!” a quote from one of my best friends after I told her I’d just bought a translucent powder for £38 (insert monkey covering its face emoji here).

I purchased the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder, probably the most I’ve ever spent on a single piece of makeup, no, make that definitely the most. To some of you, that might not be much, but for one powder it was to me. But, I was in SpaceNK and thought why not?!

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This wasn’t quite as a compulsive buy as it sounds, I’ve actually heard good things about this powder so wanted to give it a try. The lady in the shop helped me pick the right one for my skin tone, so the palest one of course.

I LOVE it, I actually love it. It’s described as “a wardrobe of six universal finishing powders that recreate the most exquisitely flattering light.” Honestly, that’s a true statement, I have to admit I read that and though psssht yeah right, but it really is amazing. I use the powder after foundation just like you would with any other translucent powder, I tend to use my biggest brush to get the best coverage. It sets foundation really nicely and just gives my face this really nice glow. Since using it, I’ve actually had some comments about my complexion and how good it looks recently, and that to me means this is a winner and is here to stay!

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I have been using it every day for almost a month and it still looks almost untouched. It definitely gives you the money worth. Try it 🙂

Ali xx

 

 

 

I have heard many good things about Hourglass’ lighting powders, so when I found my self in Space. NK recently I couldn’t help but pore over the pretty make up and was parti

Mascara & hairbrushes

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Just a little review of a couple of things I’ve been using recently; I left my most favourite hairbrush at my Mum’s house a while ago so had to find a replacement to use in the meantime. All my others are round brushes or just used for styling rather than every day brushing. I decided to try out the Leo Bancroft Detangle Brush. The main reason I picked this is because it’s purple, I am notorious for losing / forgetting my hair brush and I thought as it’s bright purple it would probably decrease the chances of this happening. Turns out not only is it good for that, but it’s actually a really decent hair brush.

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I like it because it’s completely made out of plastic, it’s all one piece rather than having a cushion with the bristles attached. Being totally plastic means it’s really lightweight, which is perfect for me as I take a brush with me wherever I go. Also, it means it is SO easy to keep clean and it dries within a minute. I have really thick hair, so often find that brushes don’t make it all the way through to detangle it, but this one really does the job. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking to try something new.

Next up is the new Rimmel Volume Colourist Mascara in black; I have used this for just over a month now and would buy it again. I like to try different mascara’s and as usual I was a sucker for it being a new one. The first thing I noticed about it is the shape of the tube, it’s shaped in a way that gives great grip so is easy to open and hold. (I don’t know if it’s just me but I’ve dropped many a mascara mid-application in my time.)

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The unique selling point of this mascara is that it tints your lashes over time, why has no one done this before?! I am a red head who has practically invisible eye lashes, so sans mascara I look ill, this could be the answer. I’ve tried semi-permanent eyelashes before and loved that you wake up looking ready for the day, but hated the fact you can’t rub your eyes, ever. Anyway, over the first two weeks of using this mascara daily I definitely noticed that my lashes were becoming darker and staying that way. It was working! Not only were they darker when mascara-less but when I was wearing the mascara they looked great; full and really long. Also, due to it having a plastic brush it means it gives a really nice clump free finish.

My only negative thought about this mascara is I found that in the morning, after removing it the night before there was still A LOT of black on my eyes. I’m used to there always being a trace the next day, but this was almost as if I hadn’t removed it in the first place. I assume this is due to it tinting my lashes. Other than that I really like this mascara and at only £8 it’s good value for money.

So that’s two products I would recommend for you. I am of course in the process of trying out others, so expect more reviews 🙂

Ali xx

 

Bungeeeeeeeeeeee!

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So, on Saturday 28th May I did a 300ft bungee jump with UK Bungee in aid of Macmillan Cancer, I managed to raise £285 for Macmillan Cancer thanks to my generous friends and family. I had originally booked to carry out my jump at the end of April, Easter weekend, but due to hurricane Katie it was postponed until the end of May. Meaning I had a whole extra month to worry about it! But I did it 🙂

I have previously done two jumps in New Zealand, but both were only 140 something foot, so less than half the height of this one. I have to say I was made to feel a lot safer here though, my harness was checked by four different people, and I was asked if I had any jewellery, anything in my pocket, any chewing gum etc. at least ten times, just to make sure. I was ready to go.

On our way up, I was told that when we reached the top I had to shuffle over to the edge, NOT holding on, rest my arms on the bars and then would be counted down, 3, 2, 1 and I was to jump. I agreed to all of this, but when we reached the top I was too busy looking through the holes at how high we were to realise we had stopped. I was told not to look down, but to look straight ahead at Windsor Castle. This, made it worse as I knew Windsor Castle was many miles away and I didn’t want to be able to see it!

Anyway, I was up there so I stood up, whilst holding on, as it was quite windy and I didn’t want to fall over, shuffled over to the edge, where the door was now open and held on tightly. I was reminded not to hold on, just to rest my arms on the bars, so I did. Tom then said, “right, no hesitation, 3, 2, 1, go” and I just put my arms out and went! It was brilliant, he didn’t even give me chance to think about it. The free fall felt like it lasted forever, and then the harness kicked in and I knew I was safe.

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About to jump

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Jumped!

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Hanging out

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Phew 🙂

I am hoping to do something similar at least once a year, so will start planning my next adventure soon. Perhaps a sky dive or maybe paragliding or something else exciting!

Ali xx

Been a while

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I haven’t written in a while, so thought I would give a little update. I have been on holiday and just busy seeing friends and family, but I am getting back into my blog. 🙂

My first post was about winning the competition with Garnier, this has now taken place, I was in Superdrug stores across the country and it really was fantastic. I posted on Facebook & Instagram asking if anyone saw me in there to take a picture and tag me in it, the response was brilliant. I got lots and lots of tags, so was really pleased about that.

For any of you who haven’t seen, this is the photo that Garnier decided to use of me:

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Garnier also used all of us on their Instagram page which was really cool to see, they posted a couple of videos and photos. This was my fave; we all look genuinely happy and I think they are lovely pictures.

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Just wanted to give another big thanks to Garnier for making it happen, it really was an amazing experience and definitely gave me something to talk about!

Ali xx

Weekend baking

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I wasn’t feeling too great this weekend so decided to do some baking to cheer myself up. I’ve seen quite a few YouTubers and bloggers make Tanya Burr’s cookies and have wanted to try them for months, so this is what I decided to bake. What I love most about the recipe is for quantity of chocolate it just says “large bar”, I got a really large bar, 360g of Dairy Milk to be exact, plus a large Milkybar.

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Here is the whole recipe:

200g butter – needs to be softened

300g caster sugar

1 large egg

27g self-raising flour

75g cocoa powder

dash of milk

large bar of milk chocolate

large bar of white chocolate

large bar of dark chocolate (Tanya’s blog says this is optional and I didn’t add)

It’s a pretty simple recipe; first step is to cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. My butter had been out of the fridge for a few hours but it really wasn’t soft enough, I made the mistake of trying to mix it with my electric whisk and it went absolutely everywhere! So I then carried on with a wooden spoon, it took ages and gave me arm ache, soo use really soft butter.

Next – crack the egg in, then add the dry ingredients; flour and cocoa, mix it all up to form dough.

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As you can see my dough was dry so I had to add quite a large dash of milk to make it all stick together. Lastly, the most important ingredient; chocolate. I decided to just use milk and white chocolate in mine, not because I don’t like dark chocolate, in fact I really do like dark chocolate, but because I had such a large bar of milk chocolate I didn’t think I needed any dark. As it turns out there was more than enough chocolate in the cookies.

I baked them three per baking tray, then one on its own. The recipe makes ten large cookies I didn’t want to crowd them and let them get stuck together. They do cook in eleven minutes as per Tanya’s recipe, but are really gooey and you do have to leave them to cool for around half an hour before eating. So gooey that I couldn’t even transfer them to my cooling rack as they were just falling apart. Shame, I had to eat that one! After half an hour when they had set a little i moved them onto my wire rack to completely cool. I have to say they are actually the nicest cookies I’ve ever baked, and I’ve tried many recipes.

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After baking these, I was still in the baking mood, so I measured out all the ingredients to make a whole wheat loaf in my bread maker, I didn’t want it to bake that night as it was already 9pm and the bread takes at least three hours, so I set my machine to bake the bready ready for 9:15 the next morning. I haven’t been so excited for it to be morning in a long time. I awoke to the smell of bread baking and it was so good. I took Bella out for a walk and when we got back it was ready and the house smelt just like a bakery. I had a slice straight out of the machine, dripping in butter, what a lovely start to my Sunday. I was definitely feeling better after that.

Ali xx

March Favourites

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Following on from my new found love of lipsticks, I went looking for some more to try. I spotted a really pretty pink colour in the Maybelline section, and as I’ve not really tried many Maybelline I decided to get it, and whilst I was there I picked up their Super Stay 24 hour foundation in 10 ivory. When I got them home, I opened the lipstick only to find that it’s actually a lip gloss! Silly me. The picture below will hopefully make you understand why I assumed it was a lipstick not a gloss, oops. However, I have been wearing it anyway and it’s a lovely shade and lasts well. It’s got a wide brush which I haven’t seen before, which actually makes applying the gloss easy. I’ll just have to find another lipstick to try instead. The foundation is nice, it stays on my skin well, but I think it’s slightly the wrong shade for me. As a general rule I tend to go for the lightest possible, which is usually ivory, but this is slightly too dark. I am a pale skinned red head, and so need the lightest shade available.

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My Benefit roller lash mascara ran out, so I picked up the Rimmel Wonder’full mascara with argan oil. As I wear mascara pretty much every single day I thought one with argan oil would be good to try as I know argan oil is good for hair, so must be good for eye lashes too (right??).  Turns out, it’s a really good mascara, doesn’t flake, goes on easy and comes off easily too. Really pleased with that purchase. Plus it’s in a metallic-y coppery tube which you know, pretty packaging.

Until recently, I only ever had one foundation brush; this one is actually from Primark. It’s the one and only beauty product I’ve tried from Primark, and I was pleasantly surprised. Basically, I had a Lancôme posh one and the handle broke, and it was really annoying to use, and I was in Primark one day saw this and thought, hey why not give it a try. My Lancôme one is now in the bin! I have since purchased another, but this one definitely deserves a mention. It’s great, the application was great and it’s easy to wash.

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The Benefit World Famous Neutrals eyeshadow kit was actually a Christmas present from my big bro, I’m lucky; he has bought me a Benefit make-up kit for the past few years now. Chris, if you’re reading this, keep going please, I love them. This one I have been using since Christmas, but more so now it’s coming into spring and I want to use more neutral colours. It has two cream eye shadows in little pots and then four powder eye shadows. My favourite thing about these kits is that they come with a little tips and tricks booklet to give you a day time and a night time look, I usually try them out but then do my own thing with them too. All the colours are lovely, but the two I’ve used most are “no pressure” one of the cream eyeshadows and “thanks a latte” one of the powders, both are a neutral browny and go really well together.

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I have been using a pressed powder to set my foundation for quite some time now, and it ran out, so my Mum recommended me the No7 Translucent Perfect Light pressed powder. I love it! It makes the one that I had been using look cakey, this one has really light coverage, doesn’t cake my foundation, and just leaves a really nice finish. I would highly recommend this one. Thanks Mum!

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I use the Maybelline Baby Lips Hydrate lip balm every morning when I put on my makeup. I use it to stop my lips being dry and it seems to stop the foundation from sticking to them, which is always a bonus. I also usually apply a lip balm or Vaseline prior to using lipstick or gloss, and this works perfectly for that.

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The Garnier Ultimate Blends body hydrating lotion is another freebie I got from my photo shoot, I used it throughout March and I really noticed my skin feeling soft. Also, it smells really good. Similarly to the Rimmel mascara this contains argan oil, it also has camellia oil. Camellia oil is renowned for its softening benefits. Plus, it’s new, so can’t really go wrong with this one! This is for normal skin, I would usually go for a dry skin lotion so wasn’t sure if this one would be moisturising enough but it definitely is. It smells exactly the same as the Ultimate Blends shampoo in the same flavour, so if you use the shampoo and the lotion you smell like a dream all over.

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Lastly, a bit of an odd one, it’s erm, soap. Basically I buy hand wash that’s on offer; as long as it’s anti-bacterial I’m not too fussy. But, this, this is something else. Part of the Carex Care+Plus range, (I think it’s new) is the argan oil (again) & cocoa indulgent hand wash, and oh my goodness it smells delicious! It literally smells like you have just dipped your hands into a batch of salted caramel chocolate, but at the same time it isn’t too sickly sweet. They do a strawberry laces and chocolate orange one but I found those to be too sweet smelling. This one is spot on. So much so I had to buy another one that wasn’t on offer to photograph as we had used the other one all up and I didn’t mind. This is a big recommendation.

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That’s it for my March favourites, it seems I picked a few that contain argan oil this month, that wasn’t on purpose, but it has shown me that I like it. I’m looking forward to trying some new products in April, and I’ll be on the lookout for some more argan oil.

Ali xx

 

 

 

Eastery things

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I know I’m a little late, but I wanted share my Easter weekend fun with you. I took Bella to stay at my Dads for the long weekend. On Good Friday morning I packed up the car, with her “help”, (which is basically her running back and forth to the car trying to eat my bags.) and off we went. Upon arrival my Dad was cooking a roast lamb and immediately insisted I made the roast potatoes. So I left the unpacking of the car to a little later and got started on the potatoes. They were yum!

As soon as we get in the general area of his house Bella starts to get excited, she starts to whinge and tries to get out of the car, she really enjoys staying at his house. He loves it too, though sometimes he pretends he doesn’t like it all that much. As she is rather large now she tends to get in the way a lot, especially if you’re not used to having her around.

Anyway, I had really wanted to bake some hot cross buns in the whole time leading up to Easter so that’s what I set about to do that afternoon. I brought all the ingredients with me just to make sure I had them all.  Before I started I didn’t realise quite what was involved with making these, all in all it took me about five hours! After the mixing and kneading, the dough required to be left to prove for around an hour, which gave me enough time to pop to the shops to pick up an icing bag and apricot jam that I had forgotten. I made it back in time to split the dough into twelve buns, which then were left to prove for another hour. Eventually they were crossed with the flour and water mix, popped in the oven and baked. After being glazed with warmed apricot jam we had one with a cup of tea. Lovely!

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I met my three best friends on Saturday morning for brunch; I was starving as I’d been at the park with Bella for an hour already. The rest of the day was chilled until I went to visit my mum and younger brother’s house for dinner with my elder brother and his fiancée. Me and Mum were then going to a family friend’s for drinks and nibbles. It was a lot of fun; we ended up staying til 1:30am! I don’t get to see my friends and family as often anymore as I moved away to Warwick.

It’s fair to say I was tired on Easter Sunday! This time I took Bella with me to my mum’s, this was her first visit. Now, my Mum’s house is quite small and there is a cat, so a couple of issues. Plus Bella is THE nosiest dog I’ve ever known, for about an hour, no exaggeration, she sniffed the entire house. She did settle down whilst we ate our Easter roast beef, but not for long.

We came back early Easter Monday morning, and I went out to Wagamama for a late lunch whilst Bella caught up on her sleep. I love bank holiday weekends, it’s such a good time to catch up with friends and family, and to eat lots of chocolate. I’m using this weekend to relax and catch up on sleep.

Ali xx

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Happy Birthday Bella!

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Bella is 1! I can’t believe it! In celebration I decided to bake her a dog friendly birthday cake, I have shared the recipe below. I’m really proud of how far she has come along in the last year, her behaviour has improved massively and she has such a great personality. She actually manages to make me laugh on a daily basis; I can no longer picture life without her in it. (Taking it over)

So, for the cake you will need the below:

1 egg

65g peanut butter

60ml vegetable oil

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

80g honey

135g grated carrots

120g wholemeal flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

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First step set the oven to 180°C and grease a cake tin

Second step, mix the egg, peanut butter, oil, vanilla and honey together in a bowl

 

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Next, add the grated carrot and mix well.

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Then sift the flour with the bicarbonate of soda into the bowl and fold into the mixture. I found that the wholemeal flour didn’t sift very well; I had to use a spoon to get it through the sieve.

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Lastly spoon into the tin and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.

This is the first time I have made a cake like this, and I wasn’t sure it was quite done after 40 minutes, but I think it was. My cake tin was a bit too big for this mix, so when it had cooled down I cut it into the shape of a bone.

I gave Bella a little taste of the off-cuts and she seemed to enjoy it. To be honest, she will eat pretty much anything. The only thing I’ve found that she won’t eat is lettuce. There is a little video on my YouTube channel of it if you want to check that out.

Here is the finished cake 🙂

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If you make this please comment and let me know if your dog likes it. I’ll be spoiling Bella on her birthday with some new toys, a bone to eat and of course a little bit of cake.

One more of Bella, watching me patiently making the cake and using her biscuits as decoration.

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She is so cute!

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Ali xx

 

Rimmel Super Gel review

 

Hi, this is my first review of a product on my blog, here goes… I have decided to review the new Rimmel London Super Gel nail varnish. I picked to review this particular nail varnish for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because it’s new, and I am a sucker for anything new or that I haven’t tried before. This counts with pretty much everything, not just beauty products. New chocolate bars, new bread, new shoes, new TV programmes, just anything new, I want to try it.

Secondly, I picked this nail varnish because it is a gel nail varnish that can be used and applied without a lamp. Sounds good to me!

So, I applied the nail varnish, two coats of the nail varnish followed by two coats of the top coat as directed on the bottles. So far so good, it went on easily, dried quite quickly, and even after all four coats it didn’t feel any different to when I would wear my usual nail varnish. I even managed not to smudge it.

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Usually, nail varnish lasts a day or two max on my finger nails. This is mostly my fault, I carry on as normal; cleaning the kitchen, bathroom etc. without gloves. I know this is a big no, no, I do have gloves, I just think I’ll only wipe the side down, it will take me a minute, it will be a faff to put on gloves. But my hands and nails are paying the price.

Anyway, this nail varnish managed to survive for a whole week and a little more! In my opinion, that is fantastic. Ok, so it didn’t quite make the “up to 14 days” as promised on the bottle, but I’m sure it would have lasted so much longer if I hadn’t cleaned anything or done any washing up. BUT I am genuinely impressed. I will be investing in a further colour to try out. I resisted until I had seen what one was like.

Photo of what my nails looked like after one week; not the best, but I promise this is what they usually look like after 2 days.

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However, I must add, I applied this to my toe nails at the same time, I think it would last a year on them (if they didn’t grow of course). It really is sturdy stuff. Go and give it a go.

I hope you like my first review, let me know if there are any other products I should try out, I am happy to use and test new products.

Ali xx