Friday, May 30, 2014

How to make candied/crystalized violets

One of my favorite things about May is the surplus of sweet violets that covers my back yard. While I do love just seeing them, I also like to use them in culinary senses.  One way I make use of them is in candied or crystalized violets. This can be quite a long process, but makes beautiful decorations for cakes etc.
First, you want to pluck some sweet violets as close to the head as possible. DO NOT use African violets or any flower that had been sprayed with pesticides. When I doubt, do not use them and instead buy the edible flowers you can often find near the salad greens in large grocery stores like wegmans, trader joe’s etc.  Then, wash your flowers well and place on some paper towel stem side down until dry, about an hour.
When they are dry, take the white from one egg and whip with a fork for a minute or until foamy (or there is a layer of foam on top). Then, take a plate or try and cover with a layer of sugar (I used a dinner plate and about ¼ cup sugar). This needs to be pretty finely ground sugar, I find using brand name sugar like domino’s works well, or you can buy caster sugar in the baking isle. Then, spread the foamy egg white onto the flower petals, both front and back. I just use my finder for this. Then, place them face down into the sugar and spread some more sugar on top. In total I used about a half cup of sugar.
Once all of your flowers are covered (I did about 50) place them on your counter for about 24 hours or until completely dry; they will be fragile and “crispy”. Depending on how much moisture is in the air where you dry them they can get stuck to the sugar. I use a fork and carefully break up the sugar under each flower. Store these in a dry, sealed container until you would like to use them.
Try this recipe with other edible flowers like pansies or rose petals! I hope you enjoyed this recipe!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sephora by OPI Review and swatch: It’s bouquet with me

Sephora by OPI has been discontinued for over a year now but they have reappeared at by local Big Lots. The colors available were mostly sparkles
and this one was my favorite. I got it for $1.80; the original price was around $10- $12.

It’s bouquet with me is a dark pink and silver fine glitter polish suspended in an extremely sheer purple (nearly clear) base. In this photo I applied three coats for good glitter coverage; you can still see my nail lines underneath. This polish would also be a great glitter topper.

The glitter went on smoothly; it wasn’t thick or gloopy. I think this is good color for summer and is a great deal on top of it! If you haven’t checked recently, head over to your local Big Lots and see what you can find.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Brief Performance Review: Billy Elliot

I had the opportunity to go see a great musical that is very popular right now: Billy Elliot. The musical is about a young boy in a poor mining town in the north on England who want to become a ballet dancer. This musical is full of dance, quite quality and technical dance at that. The boy who plays Billy Elliot is absolutely fantastic; he had to dance so many times in the course of the show and sing on top of that; he must have an extraordinary amount of stamina.  The story had comedy, emotion, and historical reference. One of the main points of the show is a miner’s strike and their hatred of Margaret Thatcher; this is made more poignant by being in London and surrounded by people who actually lived during Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister.

Overall, it was a very nice show to go to with a very interesting plot. Make sure you go with a liberal companion though; it criticized conservative government and has many references to homosexuality. (so like, a person you would take to a musical). 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Review and Swatch: Rimmel Sweetie Crush nail polish in 011 Violet Swizzle

With summer comes new limited edition make up collections to the drugstore. The new Sweetie Crush collection from Rimmel London is putting two trends together: pastel nails and textured polish. The colors and the display was so cute (and the price was good too!) so I decided to pick up my first textured polish. The collection has five polishes: yellow, green, pink, blue, and purple.
Violet Swizzle is a very light pastel warm pink violet. On the first layer it appears almost white, with a second coat the purple becomes noticeable. I applied a base coat and then two coats of color for this swatch. The texture is distinctive (like sandpaper or, for the theme, sugar crystals) but not so rough to be irritating. The polish also applied surprisingly smoothly and dried extremely fast.
The bottle only contained .27 oz which is less than most polishes that have around .5 oz or so. The price though was quite cheap and reflected this: $2.25. The size also doesn’t bother me because how often do you use up a bottle of nail polish? The bottle itself is also cute with the retro awning design on the top; I only wish it had been printed on or went the whole way around. I also managed to get this for only 85 cents. The price was 2.25 but I had a $1 off rimmel coupon and then since I am a rite aid gold member I got a further 20% off!

Overall, this is a really cute color and texture for not very much. A great addition to your summer line up!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hair update: foam rollers

I was finally able to try foam rollers and they work so much better than pin curls for me! I think this is because they make a more durable curl which is more mold-able. This mean any flyaway curls can be mixed in with the others and creates a firmer, more stable and consistent hair style. These pictures are after about 15 minutes of brushing out. My pattern was extremely simple: pieces of hair about 1-2 inches rolled under. Nothing fancy!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My new hair cut: feelings and styling

Since about 2007 I’ve been growing out my hair. I’ve had regular trims of a few inches and in 2011 I had straight bangs cut in, but I haven’t had a cut with “style”.  After much deliberation and a self-enforced waiting period of four months while I was in London, I decided to get what is a type of adapted middy haircut.  The middy is a style worn by women in the 1940’s and in conducive to vintage styling techniques. It is essentially a tapered (“U” shaped) cut with a lot of face framing long layers.

Right after it was cut, my hair stylist curled it with a curling iron under for me which gave it its initial look which I was very pleased with.  Unfortunately though, it doesn’t seem to work very well with vintage techniques for some reason. I tried to pin curl it carefully, but the ends still stuck outwards making it more 80’s than anything instead of under. I do not know if I wasn’t careful enough when curling, if it was cut wrong, or if my natural bit of wave is throwing things off. I have had luck with hot roller sets and a curling iron. I haven’t retried the pin curls or foam rollers because I’m afraid to have my hair look horrible and then go to work like that.  Hopefully sometime soon I’ll have a day off where I’m not too tired the night before and try out these other techniques.
One thing I am very grateful for though, is that I can wear this style straight. Many people online, everyone it seems from the fedora lounge, kept saying that the middy or even an adapted longer version was not a “wash and wear” hairstyle. This means that you have to curl it to look nice. For me though, it looks perfectly fine straight which makes this style easier to deal with.

Overall, I’m not quite sure if this was a good idea. I really hope after some more trial and error I will be able to pin curl again because I hate using hot products on my hair and wouldn’t like to bring hot roller with me to college.  Otherwise, I’ll just be growing these layers out then.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Simple Apple Galette/ Tart

I’ve never had success with pies, but I do have good results with this basic tart recipe I’ve slightly adapted from Martha Stewart’s “Pies and Tarts”.
2 apples (I use pink ladies or any slightly tart baking apple)
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp. butter
Egg wash made from one egg and milk
I sheet puff pastry
The puff pastry is wear I move a bit from Martha. Her book recommends making your own puff pastry and using a 9 inch round. I don’t often feel like spending 12 hours or more to make a huge batch of pastry I have to freeze, so instead I but it pre made and frozen. I simply thaw a sheet when needed.  I also keep it rectangular as not to waste the pastry.
First pre heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Then cover a cookie sheet with parchments paper. Cover it with parchment paper, dear god! If you don’t cover it you are going to spend your afternoon scraping a hard sugar layer from your tray, trust me. Then lay out your 9in square of thawed puff pastry.
Now, take your two apples and cut them in half and core them, do not peel. Then, slice then thinly as possible. I like to use a mandolin for this and then a slice the whole pieces in half to make half moons. Watch your fingers.
Prick your puff pastry with a fork all around except for a ½ inch border. When in doubt be generous with the border otherwise your juice will leak out later.  Then spread ¼ cup of your sugar in the pricked area, not the border!
Now arrange your apple slices around the border and going in overlapping each slice and each layer.  Then take your egg wash and brush it only over the border. Now, take your last ¼ c. sugar and drizzle it over the apples. Lastly, cut your butter into little pieces and dab on top of your tart. Don’t get them too close to the border or it might leak out.
Cook for about 20 minutes in your preheated oven, then enjoy!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Review and Swatch: Wet n’ Wild eyeshadow trio in 335 “silent treatment”

I’ve heard good things about this eyeshadow trio online; mostly about the third color. Since I never had a trio from this brand I decided to try it out.
This palette had three colors: the browbone which is a champagne color, crease which is black with rose gold glitter and eyelid which is a complex lavender/grey/taupe color.

The first color is very light, shimmery, and a bit sheer. This is a basic color that I will use as a highlight. The middle color’s payoff is a bit sheer and patchy. This color applies better when patted on, not swiped. The color reminds me of MAC Black Tied but with different colored glitter. The third color is the real winner in this set. All of the eyeshadows have the velvety texture found in wet n’ wild, but this one really has the great color payoff you can find in the brand. The color itself it so complex, I’ve never seen one like it.

browbone applied to inner eye, eyelid to outer 2/3s and above crease; crease applied to outer third and crease

Overall, the first two colors are a bit basic and kind of “throwaways”, but decent if you have no other colors like the. The third is fantastic, and depending on your budget may be worth the entire $3 of the palette. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Trip Review: Borough Market

One of the famous food markets in London is Borough Market. The closest tube station to this market is London Bridge; coming out it is to your right. You can either turn right towards the wall and go into that entrance, or you can turn the first corner and hit the market that way.
The market is full of fresh fruit and vegetables, organic butchers and various specialties when it comes to meats and confections. There are also a good amount of food stalls. The market isn’t that large, but you will miss a good part of it if you do not go down all the winding alleys in the market. There is also the “green market” which had mostly cooked goods and the food stalls.
While I was there I bought some chicken livers (not bad at 7 pounds a kilo; I bought about 2 pounds worth and it was enough for two meals) at a stall called “the ginger pig” and a steak and kidney pie for lunch. I got it at Pieminister. The pie was the “Kate and Sidney” and came warm with gravy on top for 4 pound 50. The filling was fantastic, tender and with good flavor. The crust had that British quality of being solid and a bit bland and meant to just keep the filling in. The gravy for me was a bit “meh”, it was just a generic beef gravy for all their pies involving beef.  This stall was also near the famous toasted cheese stall, which my flat mate had been thinking about but it didn’t look that great and was a bit much for 5 pounds.

Overall, I’d say borough market is a good place to stop by if you happen to like hand pressed olive oil and pigeon breast and are south of the river. If you are planning to spend your entire evening or if it is really out of your way, maybe try to check out another of the many markets in London. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Review: CK One mascara

In 2014 for your birthday if you are an ulta member you get a present! The gift this year is a full sized CK One mascara. To me, this seems a better present than what Sephora usually gives which is two sample/travel sized products. This calvin klein mascara retails for $18 and is exclusive to ulta. While the outside packaging says “Happy Birthday” the tube inside is no different from any one bought regularly.

The color is “true black” and is supposed to have a “Precision curved brush and patented lycra technology amplifies, shapes, and lifts every lash for maximum volume. Customize lash looks with a unique twist brush applicator. Select definition or volume with a twist of the cap in this all-in-one mascara.” When you twist the top of the wand it twists and contracts, but doesn’t stay that way to it is awkward and near impossible to hold it twisted and apply at the same time.

The packaging itself is very classy and slim; it reminds me of a rollerball fragrance.  The mascara’s scent itself is very subtle; more so than most mascaras. It contains 0.31 oz of product; my standard Maybelline “the rocket” contains 0.3 oz so that seems standard. I like this type of wand for applying mascara; it had stiff plastic bristles which I feel really comb through my lashes. Strangely, even though the mascara is marketed towards volume; I fell that it lengthens more than gives volume. My main complaint though is that it doesn’t keep curl at all. Within minutes; my lashes go straight again after I first curl my lashes and then apply this mascara.  I have this problem with most mascaras that aren’t waterproof.

Overall, this is decent mascara that lengthens lashes but does little for volume or curl. The twisty cap is just a gimmick and doesn’t do much so I’d advise buying a good drugstore mascara for under $10 like Maybelline’s the rocket instead.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

British Fashion: Eyebrows

I have been observing British fashion and style; I especially like to do this on the tube (subtlety of course!). One thing that I noticed quite early on is the British trend of bold eyebrows. I’ve found that Americans are not that fond of bold eyebrows; they are much more likely to pluck their eyebrows thin and not fill them in. Here in London though, eye brows are often quite large and always strongly defined. They are usually filled in very dark and often have a defined square or round edge drawn in with pencil.

The strong brow may be because of European fashion trends and British models (I am talking about you, Cara Delevingne!), and I have to say I have mixed feelings. I like a strong defined brow, but as with all trends, some people do it sloppily or go overboard. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Review: Batiste Dry Shampoo in Oriental

Many beauty bloggers online rave about Batiste dry shampoo as if it’s some sort of a miracle; it for me it had to be for the price in the US. For a single can of this stuff it costs $8 for the 200ml size. In the UK, on the other hand, this only costs about 3 pounds which, even with the conversion rate, only comes out to $5, so I decided to buy some in the UK. Also, I don’t believe you can get the “oriental” scent in America. I already use some dry shampoo upon occasion, Suave brand, so I was curious to see how this compares.
The scent of this one is pretty strong and distinctly floral; the website describes it as “fruits, flowers, and rich coconut.” While it is nice for me, someone with a sensitive nose will think it’s too much and let’s just say I would not want to spray this is an enclosed space. But just the two spritzes I did for my head didn’t cause too much scent.
I used this a few days after I last washed my hair which left my hair a bit limp and my scalp just slightly oily. I sprayed this on the roots of my hair about an inch or two from my part on either side. My main surprise was the sheer amount of volume I got. My suave does a good job at absorbing oil but never gives me this much volume! I did notice a slight lessening in the oiliness of my hair around where I sprayed the dry shampoo.
Overall, I really do enjoy this dry shampoo, but it’s debatable for me if it’s worth the $8. Since this is not a “lifesaver” product for me I will probably go back to Suave when this is out unless I find a can cheap at Ross or T. J. Maxx.