Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday Night Song #17

I haven't done one of these in a while, and tonight I'm going to stray from my usual brand of one-hit-wonders/classic rock/80s. I updated my iPod this week with the most dancey songs I could bear, because as much as I love my Power Ballads, I really don't find power walking inspiring while Patrick Swayze is crooning in my earbuds.

I've been hearing this tune on the radio a lot lately, and I loved it instantly - even if the start does remind me a little bit of that horrible Holly Valance song from a few years back.

Here it is - Breathing by Jason Derulo. And as a bonus, he doesn't go "Jasonnnn Deruuullloooo" at the start. Always a good thing. Poor oul' Jason recently escaped being paralyzed when he landed on his head during a rehearsal for his new tour - here's hoping he makes a speedy recovery.

S xx

Bloglovin' now available

If you follow this blog via GFC and you're not a blogger user, you can now follow by e-mail or by using Bloglovin' (which I don't understand AT ALL). Heaven forbid you should miss a rant or nail picture ;-)

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>


S xx

Nail Polish Obsession Tag

Hi! As ye know, I love tag posts - and this is a brilliant one that I've really enjoyed thinking about. I was tagged to do this by the lovely Sunshine Rose, and you can read her answers HERE. Here are mine!

What's your favourite nail polish company?
For quality and brushes, it has to be Sally Hansen. The brushes make application so easy and the polish is always flawless. They also have fabulous products like Insta-Dri - I first tried it when I won a giveaway over at Viva Adonis, and I've since bought another bottle. I'd be lost without it! A close second is Catrice - for a budget brand, the quality and lasting power of the polish is amazing, and their Limited Edition collections are brilliant. Here's a sneak peek at the polishes from their next two upcoming collections (coming Feb-March 2012):
Left: Nymphelia Collection. Right: Female Collection. Both available Feb/March 2012.
Glitter or no glitter?
Definitely glitter. I absolutely love glitter nail polish, and the more sparkle the better! What turns me off glitter is the removal process - I know that there are loads of hints and tips out there, but no matter how I do it, it's still time consuming and messy. I tend to send my glitter polishes into hibernation at this time of year - I'll dig them out again at the end of summer.

OPI, China Glaze or Essie?
I think all three are a bit overrated, to be honest (although whoever names the OPI polishes should be knighted). I don't have much experience with Essie, the brand just doesn't appeal to me. I suppose if I had to pick, I'd choose China Glaze - I like the quality of the polish and they have some fantastic colours. Their latest collection has me a bit baffled all the same - why anyone would need a nail polish collection named after a dystopian movie where young teenagers fight to the death is beyond me.

When do you change your nail polish?
That depends entirely on my mood - some weeks I change it every day, and other times I leave it until it's chipped beyond belief. This has been a chippy week.

What's your favourite colour on your nails?
This is my most favourite nail polish ever. It's "It Blue My Mind" by Catrice - which was flippin' discontinued. I was gutted when I realised that it had gone, but a quick look through the stand a few months ago provided another new favourite - "Blues Brothers Vol II", which is essentially the same polish (give or take a wee bit of shimmer). It's a gorgeous electric blue, and it's a polish that even himself has commented on - a rare and momentous occasion indeed.

Darks or brights?
Darks, definitely. I think dark nail polish suits any length of nail, whereas bright polish can sometimes make my fingers look really stubby if my nails are short. Saying that, I do like a nice mint cream every now and again, and I will be trying to brighten up a bit for summer.

What are you wearing on your nails right at this moment?

Angelica Holiday Fun and Models Own Wah Smash-Up in Silver. I haven't worn a crackle polish in ages, and I love this one because it has a hint of glitter in it without being too in-your-face. The Angelica was in my Christmas box from my sister, and I love it - it's a gorgeous pinky purple, and I don't own any other polish like it - it reminds me of Sindy dolls, for some weird reason (I always preferred Sindy, she was WAY cooler than Barbie).

Matte nails - In or Out?
I don't know. I love matte topcoats over dark polish, and I still love the YSL Tuxedo Manicure (click for my swatches & short tutorial). Again, it depends on my mood!

French Manicure?
I hate it. With a strong fiery passion. I have nothing else to say on this subject, next question.

Favourite Winter Colour?
My favourite colour for Winter is a dark berry red colour - I particularly like Barry M Red Black and Nails Inc Victoria. Both resemble Chanel Rouge Noir, which is one of my lemmings - but I can't really justify it when I already own both the Barry M and the Nails Inc.

I really enjoyed doing this post, and thanks again to Sunshine Rose for including me in the tag! I'm not going to tag anyone, feel free to do it and I'd love to see your answers because I am unbelievably nosy.

Have a great Saturday!

S xx

Friday, January 20, 2012

Review: Babyliss Pro 230 Radiance Sleek Straightener

I picked this up late last year, but wanted to use it for a couple of months before voicing my opinion on it. Here's my opinion: When this packs in, I'm buying another one. It's the best straightener I've ever used, and that includes GHD's. Firstly, what am I talking about? This:

This straightener has many notable features: Ceramic Titanium Plates, the option to use steam, temperature control (from 170c to 230c), and detangling comb fins that can be set at different levels depending on your hair type. It also comes with a heat protection wrap, which acts both as a heat protection surface and a storage bag.

I know that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so here's why I love this so much: I have incredibly thick, naturally curly hair that is prone to extreme frizz. Spit on it and it turns into an afro. Don't believe me? Here's a shot of my hair in all its natural glory - dried naturally and brushed. Brace yourselves.

See? Big ball of fuzz. Now I know I could spend ages blow-drying it with such-and-such product and special nozzles, blah, but seriously - I haven't got the time to do that a couple of times a week. I wear my hair up a lot, but when I want to wear it down - well, I'm not going to go anywhere with it looking like the above!

Behold, after only 30 minutes (amazing how quick this thing is, it used to take me nearly an hour to straighten my hair with my old one) - and using no product whatsoever.

On average, it stays straight a good 2 days when I finish off with a tiny bit of hair oil or serum on the ends. I've been using this at LEAST twice a week since I bought it, and my hair hasn't suffered at all. It's not fried like it was when I was using the GHD, and it's not brittle or breaking. I'd still recommend the use of a hair treatment once a fortnight - or a leave-in conditioning treatment (L'Oréal do good ones, in little tubs - find them beside the shampoo & conditioner in any supermarket) once a week.

I only wish I had this as a teenager, my ponytail was so thick that I could never wind a scrunchie round it more than twice.

Verdict: Well worth the money (I got mine on sale last year, I can't remember the price) for those of us who are prone to frizzing.

S xx

Monday, January 16, 2012

Recipe - Low Fat Broccoli and Cheese Quiche!

Hey guys! This year, I've promised myself that I'm going to experiment with food more. My Mum gave me Donal Skehan's excellent Kitchen Hero cookbook at Christmas, and I sat down with it today and had a look through. I've had cookbooks in the past, but to be honest I always just look at the pictures, think "oh that looks lovely", and then close the book. Today I wanted to try at least one new recipe, and tweak it to suit my own taste. The one I chose was the recipe on page 73, for "Individual Broccoli Quiches". These are vegetarian, and I thought that it'd be an easy recipe to start off with. Here's the original ingredient list from the book:

225g Plain Flour, plus extra for dusting.
A pinch of salt.
125g Cold Butter, cut into small pieces.

1 Head of Broccoli, broken into small florets.
3 Large Eggs.
300ml Double Cream.
Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper.
150g Mature Cheddar Cheese, Grated.

The first thing I did was to halve all the ingredients - the original recipe makes 6 mini quiches, but I just wanted one medium-sized one (I'm the only one at home who will eat it). I'm so happy with how mine turned out, especially as I was a bit wary of all the substitutions that I made. I divided my quiche into quarters, and if you're following Weightwatchers pro points like myself, each quarter made to my recipe has 6pp. I had a quarter for lunch with a salad:

It filled me, and kept me going until dinner this evening. I'm going to use the rest as either lunch or an evening snack during the week. Here's what I used, along with the ProPoints values for those of you who want them:

100g Plain Flour - 10pp (I used Tesco)
Pinch of Salt
50g Low Fat Spread - 5pp (*Note. On my spread, it said 'not suitable for home baking, but this still worked. I daresay it'd be a disaster in a cake, but for pastry, it's fine.) (I used Aldi Kilkeely Gold Light)
1 Tablespoon Water

1/4 Pint (142ml) Skimmed Milk - 1pp
1 Medium Egg - 2pp
60g Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese, Grated - 5pp (I used Aldi Ardagh Reduced Fat Cheddar)

Plus: Low-Cal Spray.

Put the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the butter, and rub until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the water over, and mix to form a ball of dough. Wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

Blanch the broccoli in a pan of boiling water for 1 minute, then drain. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4/180c/350f.

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface, lightly spray a baking tin with 1-2 sprays of low-cal cooking spray, and line a baking tin with the pastry. Prick the base with a fork and bake for 10 minutes in the oven or until golden.

Whisk the egg and milk together in a bowl. Season with salt & pepper. Add the grated cheese and the broccoli. Mix the filling together well, place in the tin over the pastry, and return to the oven for 35-40 minutes until the filling is set. Here's what mine looked like before cooking:

PP Values: NOTE: These values are based on the ingredients I used. Please check your own brands!
Pastry: 15pp
Filling: 8pp
Whole Quiche: 23pp
Per Quarter: 6pp

I thought it was lovely, if you try it, enjoy!

S xx

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A New Year Catch-Up!

Hey guys, if you're still reading this blog despite the fact that I've gone AWOL for the past few weeks, then bless you - your support is much appreciated! What can I say? Real life got in the way again. Christmas itself was quiet, but the first few weeks of the New Year have proved to be just... well, mental. I haven't had time to scratch myself. Also, I've been having computer issues that would test the patience of a saint - huge f*ck off to the last man who "fixed" my laptop, and huge thanks to the lads at Creative IT Computer Solutions in Mullingar who got this baby going again within a few days of me leaving it in. Little stars, ye are.

So, now - what's been going on while I've been internet-less? Has anyone made any interesting resolutions or taken up any new activities or lifestyle changes? For me, I only have one resolution, and it's one I've robbed from good ol' Willy Shakespeare:

That's it. Sure, by the time 2013 rolls around I'd love to be driving on a full licence (okay, just driving then), married (I am actually engaged, that's not me going into psycho "must find a husband" mode), and at my goal weight (whenever I have the balls to find out what my goal actually is). But I know this - my chances of achieving any of the above are greatly increased by being honest and true to myself.

I promise, I'm not going to go all philosophical now. Back to the silliness. I bet you're all dying to know what I've been up to, right? RIGHT? *tumbleweed*..... I'm going to tell you anyway. Here's... an update of stuff that's happened since Christmas.

1. Storage Wars.
I bought a storage unit for all my nail polish in Aldi, it's in stores now and it'll cost you 5.99 of your finest almost-defunct European coins. I will get my Ikea Helmer one day, but until then, I can finally store my polishes vertically. A momentous occasion indeed.

2. Teething Problems.
I thought that when my son got all his teeth, that would be the end of it. No more crying, no more toothaches, no more sore gums. Ah, how naive I was. He recently lost his first tooth, and oh - rejoice! Two teeth are coming up. In places where they're not supposed to be. This does not a happy house make.

3. Telly Addict.
Since I've been internet-less, I've watched seasons 1-3 of True Blood, every single Harry Potter movie in sequence, and all ten seasons of Friends. What I have learned from this: Even though I love True Blood, I still maintain that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the best vampire programme ever created; I think I have a strong crush on Professor Snape; and Friends only gets funnier the more you watch it.

Time well spent, I think you'll agree.

4. Read All About It.
I won't lie, I won't pretend that I've been perusing the literary classics. The first... eh... book... I tackled was a Mills and Boon Christmas Special, which was a bit meh (aka - no riding). No interest in the baby-daddy ones, sorry Mills & Boon. The next one was a polar opposite - it was Chasing Justice by Kerry Max Cook. If you have never heard Kerry's story, I recommend you check this book out - it's an unbelievable honest and  at times harrowing account of Kerry's 22 years of imprisonment for a crime he didn't commit. I read the whole thing in one sitting - I couldn't put it down. This isn't for the faint of heart or those with weak stomachs - but it is an unbelievable story, one that ultimately ends on a hopeful note. Recommended!

The last book I read was Whisper Falls by Toni Blake - I'm halfway through this at the minute, and it's a much better standard of 'romance' novel than Mills & Boon. I don't even know whether to call it Romance, Chick-Lit (HATE that term) or just fiction - it's a gorgeous little novel about the sweet creative girl next door who gets herself involved with the hard-ass tattooed scary biker with a heart of gold and a soft fuzzy side (not literally, because that's going into a whole different kind of romance) - all in all, it had me at "biker".

5. Weigh to Go
I had my first Weightwatchers meeting of the New Year on Jan 5th - I was pleasantly surprised to learn that even with all the wine-ness of Christmas and the tin of Celebrations, that I'd only put on two pounds over the two weeks. I kicked it up a notch last week, got back into my walking, and tried as best I could to stick to my daily points and a varied diet, and on Thursday I was down 2.5lb - that's the Christmas weight gone plus another half a pound. I'm now in the New Year at a size 16 and weighing 14 stone 1.5 lbs - this time last year I was a size 20-22 and almost 17 stone. It's easy to look on the negative side of things, so I'm giving myself a he-uge pat on the back for my achievements so far and I'm looking forward to updating this with an even better result this time next year.

So - there you go. Throw in a sciatica flare-up, a sick father-in-law, two funerals, back to school mania, the OH being away a lot, a wee bit of down-in-the-dumps-ness, copious migraines, and you have my January so far. I've a couple of things coming up during the week - lipstick reviews, nail polish swatches, ramblings, recipes and a few other bits and bobs.

Thanks for reading, guys. Sincerely.

S xx