Saturday, 29 December 2012

Lavender & Vanilla Bean Teacake - with Taken By Surprise & Little Aowl

Afternoon tea is never complete without tea cup in hand and some sort of sweet treat! Be it with cookies or cupcakes, scones or macarons, taking time out for yourself is something we should all do more often!

So do yourself a little favour and take a break with this particularly delish baked goodie that I have been loving - Lavender and Vanilla Bean Teacake!

The perfect tea accompaniment, the gorgeous Ally from Little Aowl and I have been spending many a summer afternoon baking (and eating!) this super yummy and easy to make teacake. And because this recipe is a lovingly made creation of ours, we would love to share our foodie joy with you!

So before you start drooling all over your keyboard or smartphone, here's our recipe so you can enjoy this little treat next time you feel like a little me-time.

Lavender and Vanilla Bean Teacake Recipe

Ingredients - Cake
110g butter
1x cup caster sugar
seeds scraped from 2x vanilla beans
2x eggs
2x cups self-raising flour
1x cup milk
1 1/2 tbs edible lavender flowers

Ingredients - Tea glaze
soft icing sugar (about one cup)
1/2 cup water
pink food dye
1x tea bag Earl Grey
edible lavender flowers & pansies to decorate

1. Preheat oven to 180° C. Grease a 20cm round cake tin (a snap lock base release is best) and line the base with baking paper.

2. Pour milk into a small saucepan and add lavender flowers. Cook over high heat until the milk begins to stick to the sides of the saucepan, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until milk smells strongly of lavender. Don't let the milk burn! Then place the lavender-infused milk in a bowl, cover with cling wrap, and place in the freezer to cool.

Taken by Surprise Tip: Place bowl of milk over another bowl full of ice water to speed up the cooling process.

3. Using an electric beater, beat the butter, caster sugar and vanilla bean seeds in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, then beat well. The mixture should be wet and shiny.

4. Fold in half the flour into the sugar/egg/butter/vanilla mixture, and once combined, fold in half the milk. Add the remaining flour and milk, folding in gently.

Taken by Surprise Tip: Make sure to fold the mixture (a motion similar to if you are very slowly beating eggs with a fork) and not stir it. Be gentle, because if you knock all the air out with heavy handed mixing, your cake won't rise!

5. Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let the cake stand in the tin for 10 minutes, then let it cool completely on a wire rack.

6. Submerge the earl grey tea bag in the water in a small cup or mug. Squeeze the tea bag until the water turns a golden colour. Add one drop of pink food dye and the icing sugar. The consistency of the glaze should be thin (but thicker than water) and not quite opaque.

7. Pour the glaze onto the centre of the cake and let it spread over the top and down the sides. Use a butter knife to help spread the glaze evenly if required. Sprinkle lavender flowers on top, and place pansies in the centre. How pretty!

8. Serve alone or with cream, then it's time to slice that baby up and eat, duh!

What is your favourite thing to eat for afternoon tea? Let me know in the comments below!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Insta-X-Mas and Boxing Day Haul 2012

How weird does it feel now that Christmas is over? After months of planning, decorating and shopping, I feel kinda sad that it's all done for 2012. But it wasn't without some great memories, and you can see my Instagram-ed Christmas, which I was lucky enough to spend with my family. 

From Left - Right
1. My golden snowflake glitter nails 2. The Christmas tree at my uncle and aunt's house - I have NEVER seen so many presents in one place!! 3. The amazing chocolate-covered coconut ball tree 4. With my gorgeous cousins - we find it hilarious that we look nothing alike even though we're all blood-related! 5. The pink glitter ombre mani I did on my cousin 6. On Boxing Day with my girls.

Now a food baby and a whole lot of leftover wrapping paper later, I'm back at home and ready for 2013! And what better way to bring in the new year with shopping at the Boxing Day sales?! As per usual, guess who bought way more than intended...

The "Jessica" Dress - Parliament Clothing ($134.95 on sale)
I have a bit of a thing for peplums and graphic prints at the moment, so when I saw this dress, I pretty much fell for it right then and there! I love the white diamond print against the jewel-toned galaxy-esque background, and it's a really flattering fit. And it was called the "Jessica" dress, how more ME could it be! Should I wear this dress for NYE or my birthday? Let me know in the comments below!

C&S Dress - Valleygirl ($34.95)
I love the colourful print on this dress, and how the front (and back) have see-through black mesh. It's a really flowy dress, with a skater skirt, so I could definitely wear it at night or during the day. I was really impressed getting this for only $34.95 too, I would've thought a dress like this would have been at least $50! Should I wear this for NYE or on my birthday? Let me know in the comments below!

Skirt - Valleygirl ($24.95)
With the shiny material and leather waist, this actually looks much more expensive than it really was! This is such a versatile piece too, it could work for day, night, and in an office! My staple blue skirt has pretty much had it, so I thought this would make a gorgeous upgrade.

Mink Pink Scarf Print High-Waisted Shorts - David Jones ($44.95 on sale)
I have had my eye on these for a LONG TIME. Being a lover of high-waisted shorts and Mink Pink, I was super excited to see these on sale! I can see myself wearing these with a loosely tucked in tank top during summer, and with a chunky knit, tights and booties in winter!

Benefit "Finding Mr. Bright" Set - Myer ($45)
I have heard great things about Benefit's lip and cheek tints, and their highlighters, so I was so pleased to see a set that had all of them together! I tried on the Posie Tint at the Benefit counter, and it's a really pretty natural blush pink - really romantic and sweet. Plus how adorable is the packaging! While it wasn't on sale, the lady at the counter gave me a sample of the "Porefessional" primer, so I thought it was a pretty good deal.

Give Some Lip Liquid Lip Colour in "Cherry Pie" and Pout About It! in "Dark Angel" - Sportsgirl ($8.95 and $9.95 respectively)
What is it with me and dark lip colours?? It is summer here, so I should be rocking the corals and bright pinks and reds, but here I am buying more purple and plum shade reds. Oh well. I LOVE the way they look on me, kind of vampy and mysterious. And these two look great layered together!

Rimmel London Scandaleyes Waterproof Mascara - Priceline ($11.36 on sale)
I'm already a huge fan of the Scandaleyes mascaras, but I only just found the waterproof version! I saw the flash of blue at the Rimmel London counter, and couldn't believe I hadn't seen it before! It's about time I got myself a waterproof mascara too, what with it being the middle of beach season here!

Rimmel London Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Eyeliner Pencil in "Bright Blue" - Priceline ($6.96 on sale)
I don't normally wear pencil liner (definitely a liquid liner lady at heart), but when I choose to use a pencil, I almost always use blue! And this is a gorgeous bright cobalt blue, which I bet would look stunning under the lights at New Years or any party! 

Rimmel London Glam Eyes HD Eyeshadow Quad in "True Union Jack" - Priceline ($11.16 on sale)
I've had my eye on this quad for a while, and finally bought it! I love blue shadows and the pop of red would look gorgeous in a smokey eye. I already have the neutal "English Oak" palette and the "Black Cab" palette, but who could resist a colour combo as pretty as this??

Maybelline Colour Tattoo in "Too Cool" - Priceline ($8.36 on sale)
I've needed a white creme shadow in a while, and I'm already a fan of the Colour Tattoos. I find that using a white creme base with bright eyeshadows really help the colour pop, so I will definitely be using this with the more intense eye looks I do!

Mint Julips Lip Scrub - LUSH ($9.95)
Dry lips aren't pretty on anybody, so after a few glowing recommendations, I decided to pick up this lip scrub form LUSH. Mine tastes like mint chocolate (um, yum!) and it really does do a good job of buffing away at my lips for a smooth, lippy-ready pout.

Box Necklace - Colette Accessories ($3.95 on sale)
I love quirky jewellery like this, and I was stoked to see it wasn't even $4! I'd probably wear this with a plain top so it stands out.

And finally here is something really cool! My very first column in Girlfriend Magazine as the Rimmel Beauty Insider came out! Now to resist the urge to buy more than one copy...

What was the best memory from your Christmas celebrations this year? Did you find any good bargains from the Boxing Day sales? Let me know in the comments below!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

I have Taylor Swift's dress!

I really love Taylor Swift's style - she's quirky, relaxed, and oh-so feminine, and she always manages to look impeccable, on the stage or on the street.

One of her outfits that I reeeeeeally adored, was the purple dress that she wore on one of her Speak Now concert shows - it was a gorgeous flowy halter neck number, and when I saw it on MsDressy, I knew that I just had to have it!

Msdressy is a online store that specialises in custom dressmaking, and they have thousands of dresses to choose from, with a range of school formal, party, or any special occasion dresses.

And one thing that I thought was super cool, was that MsDressy also provide celebrity dresses - not the actual one of course, but very VERY accurate dupes for much cheaper! So going back to that Taylor Swift dress that I loved so much, MsDressy literally made it happen!

I ordered mine in sky blue, and when I opened the parcel a few days after ordering (these guys are fast!) I was so excited to see Taylor's dress - just for me!

I even channeled T-Swift with a curled ponytail and red lipstick - I had to look the part!

I would wear this for a vintage-themed or garden party - though it would also be super pretty as a bridesmaids dress for a beach wedding.

If you're interested in this dress, here's the shopping link, and you can choose from a whole range of colours and input your exact measurements so you know it'll be a dream fit.

Disclaimer: Dress was sponsored by MsDressy.
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