Saturday, September 24, 2016

Ombre Cake

I haven't baked in so long, a combination of having our life in storage for a while and then work being so busy meant its been a while. So when I had a cheeky mid week day off and with my friend from work leaving the day after it seemed the perfect time to bake a cake!

I've wanted to try an ombre cake for a while now but its easily the biggest cake I've attempted and boy am I glad I set a whole day aside - I started at mid-day and was still icing at 9pm at night!

I decided given the quantity I was baking to not be adventurous with my flavour (one thing at once) so found a simple vanilla cake recipe and increased the ingredients per extra layer I wanted to make ( x 4 in my case.)

Once the ingredients had been mixed I then divided the batter evenly into 4 small bowls. To create the ombre affect I tinted the layers as follows, then placed each bowl into a greased pan.

  • Bottom Layer: 25 drops blue food colour and 3 drops red food colour
  • Second to bottom layer: 12 drops of blue food colouring 
  • Middle layer: 5 drops blue
  • Bottom layer: 1 drop blue. 

Once baked and cooled on a wire rack (I'm always so impatient at this stage!) I then stacked each layer with butter cream and then crumb coated the whole thing so it looked like this. Then left it to chill in the fridge for two hours. (Ignore the lack of food and ridiculous amount of alcohol in our fridge!)

After making the butter cream for the crumb coat, I split the icing into 2 and made a darker and lighter colour and piped in a rounded layer motion.

 The icing didn't go exactly to plan and its an area I want to continue practising but the inside turned out better than expected and most importantly everyone said it tasted nice!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


The 1st of July marked my 26th year on this earth and its been a good one, in the past year I've become a home owner, celebrated a year married to my best friend and got a promotion - I'll answer to Marketing Manager thank you very much ;)

So it felt right to mark the occasion with a party, I love hosting so it took place at ours and I always feel people let loose a little more at house parties - and boy did we laughed, drank & danced until the sun literally came up (sorry neighbours if your reading this!) it was the best night and I loved spending time decorating the house and catching up with friends.

I thought I'd write a list of 26 things I want to accomplish before I reach 30 as a fun thing to look back on so here we go:

1. Go to a festival (I've never been to one)

2. Go on a girls holiday with my friends from school (this is slightly cheating as we have just booked Marbella for next year!)

3. Buy a new car (I love my C1 but I don't feel like a grown up in it)

4. Travel more see my top destinations here

5. Finish decorating our house, including getting our dream bathroom fitted.

6. Progress further within my career either Senior Marketing Manager or look at a new challenge all together.

7. Go wild and splurge on something just for me as a treat whether that be designer handbag or a pair of Loubs.

8. Pay for my parents to go on holiday as a thank you for all they've done for me and Brett.

9. Start a family.

10. See my parents face when I tell them their going to be grandparents (to say they are keen is an understatement!)

11. See more of the UK I automatically think of abroad when planning a getaway but there's loads of the UK I'd like to visit - The Cotswolds being top of the list.

12. Change my hair, my hair is my security blanket, I've been growing it since an ill-fated haircut at 19 and now its long. Seriously long and has been for sometime I've never experimented with colours or styles and I think its time for a change in that department.

13. Feel happy in my own body, my weight has fluctuated a lot over the past few years and I'd really like as I head towards thirty to feel more comfortable in my own skin.

14. Stop being so hard on myself, I am my harshest critic, I feel I have to live up my extremely high standards and all the time and it can be exhausting, I hope as I get older I mellow more and don't feel the need to beat myself up over the smallest thing!

(wow this is harder than I though! 12 more to go!)

15. Go on holiday somewhere hot and scenic and rent a soft top and drive around and see the sights. I've always wanted to do this in either the south of France or route 66.

16. Keep practicing and get better at baking, I love baking and trying out new recipes but mostly I love the decorating, most of my baking accomplishments can be found on my Insta here

17. Be more patient, the word has never been used when describing me, back to point 14, I really need to mellow out and not get stressed quite so easily, hopefully I'll have that nailed by the time I turn the big 3-0!

18. Visit Harry Potter Studios in London, Brett & I are the biggest HP geeks and keep saying we'll go and never do!

19. Make date night a tradition, I love mine and Bretts date nights or weekends and I want to continue to make time for just us, life has been pretty hectic recently and its important to not get complacent with your marriage.

20. Help plan a close friends wedding, now that my wedding is over I'm itching to get back on Pinterest and plan another. Plus who doesn't love a wedding and when its a close friends its that much sweeter!

21. Get a dog - I wanted a dog for as long as I can remember but my parents weren't as keen on the idea, now me and Brett have our own place I can't wait to get a puppy of our own.

22. Celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary and start planning our vow renewal at 10 years - yes I'm already thinking about that and yes I need that long to plan it!

23. Buy our forever house and move closer to Ilkley (which is where Brett & I met)

24. Get more organised, I'm a pretty organised person anyway but recently I've dropped the ball on a few bits that if I'd of thought ahead or planned better I wouldn't have forgotten or been rushed for.

25. Get more confident when driving, I'm great driving where I know but as soon as I have to travel anywhere I don't know I get really bad anxiety and panic. I'd love to be fine driving somewhere new long distance.

26. Remember just how damn lucky I am and be more thankful and give back in someway.

So thats it - wow that was harder than I thought, I'm lucky I've achieved a lot of what I've wanted to do before I was 25, can't wait to see what the next few years hold!

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Highlighter Hero

Hi my names Ellen & I'm a make up addict.

I can't pass a Superdrug or Boots without "popping in" so when my birthday rolled around make up was top of my birthday list... and I was a lucky girl!

The Anastasia Beverly Hills Glow Kit was top of my list from seeing so many other bloggers rave about it and after lusting over insta posts of girls with cheekbones for miles because of this thing!

There are different kit colours available:

Sunburst – Bright, luminous gold with a metallic finish 
Golden Bronze – Sultry, warm bronze with a gold-flecked finish
Bubbly – Rose champagne with a pearlescent finish 
Dripping in Gold – Lavish gold with a vivid, reflective finish
Gleam - more of a blush glow than traditional highlight
Hard Candy – Mood-changing golden peach with a pink pearl reflective finish 
Mimosa – Radiant golden peach with a metallic finish
Starburst – Rush of cool pink with an iridescent finish 
Crushed Pearl – Glimmering pink and silver with a crystalized chrome finish
Sun Dipped - More suited to Olive or darker skin tones
Bronzed – Amber with a penny metal finish
Tourmaline – Warm taupe with a rose gold finish
Moonstone – Radiant quartz with a pearl finish
Summer – Luminous sand with a white gold finish

The kit is so highly pigmented and you only need a sweep for day but can be more build-able for night if your going for that wet highlight look favoured by the Insta elite! 

The colour lasts all day and gives a healthy glow - in short I'm in love!

The second addition to my already over flowing make up collection is The Make Up Revolution Radiance Highlighter Palette.

This is my first piece from the brand and has ignited a need to purchase more. The whole collection is so reasonably priced and so pretty! 

The palette is only £8 and part of the Superdrug 3 for 2 offer at the moment so theres really no excuse for me try more.... for research purposes for the blog obviously!

The colours aren't as highly pigmented as the Anastasia palette but at £31 cheaper its a great everyday alternative and the colours are still beautiful.

The final addition was the MAC All the Right Angles Contour Kit. This admittedly wasn't for my birthday but a gift from my lovely team on my last which was a day before my birthday. 

Its been a hectic weekend!

The kit contains a cream highlight underneath - perfect for under eyebrow highlight, plus powder highlight and bronzer on top. The bronzer is also perfect for my pale complexion a lot of all in one kits look great but the bronzer is always so dark and left unused. 

It's perfect size for travelling as its an all in one kit unlike the Glow Kit which is HUGE!

Whats your favourite highlighter? Any excuse to add to my collection!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Holiday Diaries: Sunset Gondola Ride

I don't say this lightly the Gondola ride is without a doubt one of the best experience of my life. Top 5 for sure (after wedding, engagement party and honeymoon in case you wondered).

A lot of people we spoke with said not to bother with a gondola ride as they are so expensive and you can get a similar experience on a water taxi or water bus. But after chatting to a colleague who said it was one of her biggest regrets after visiting the city I knew I couldn't take the risk.

I'm a big believer in going all out on a holiday, we had dinner at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, upgraded to our own private pool in the Maldives so in my eyes a Gondola ride was non negotiable and I'm so glad we did.

If you are planning on visiting Venice, the rides do increase in price on an evening and singing is extra, so if your on a budget I'd recommend getting one during the day - theres more than enough to choose from with Gondoliers easy to spot in their black and white striped top & straw hats.

We choose to start our ride at the edge of Sans Marcos so our Gondola passed under Bridge of Sighs, legend says if you kiss while you pass underneath your love will live on forever.

The ride was worth every penny as not only was it romantic but it also took us to quieter areas that we wouldn't of seen otherwise and the Gondolier pointed out key landmarks.

Including Casanova's house - if walls could talk ey!

We choose a half hour ride which was more than enough and meant we saw the sights, the sunset and wet our appetite for dinner when we were back on dry land.

Watching the sunset over Sans Marco's square from our gondola is an experience I'll never forget and one I can't recommend enough!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday #11

A positive outlook is a powerful one. 
Put on your positive pants and you can do anything.
Short but sweet this week, hope its a good one.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Holiday Diaries: The Best Tiramisu in Venice

I don't say this lightly but I have found the best Tiramisu in Venice, wait no the world. Tiramisu is my favourite dessert so I've done my far share of research for this post if you get my drift.

On our first night in Venice I ordered the magical dessert waiting with baited breath for holy grail of cream and alcoholic tang to hit me and I was bitterly disappointed. 

So on our first day in Venice when we walked past I Tre Merchant all was saved! Initially it was the hubby who pointed it out drawn by the colourful Macarons in the window but inside there was so much more than Macarons.

Spot the off duty Gondoliers! 

The shop doesn't look like much it reminds me of a Starbucks with the blackboards behind the counter highlighting todays fresh finds but everything else is authentic Italy. 

With fresh Tiramisu made in the shop every hour on the hour and not just the classic these food gods have made 25 fusion flavours of the stuff - I highly recommend Raspberry & white chocolate but nothing beats the original.

If you are in Venice please promise me you'll pay them a visit... and bring me back a tub!

I Tre Mercanti srl Campo della Guerra, 5364, 30122 Castello, Venezia VE

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday #10

I love #bossbabe on Pinterest its full of inspiring quotes for women seizing life by the balls and going after what they want and getting it.

This quote in particular really spoke to me today, whether its an environment - work or home or a relationship or friendship that is toxic cut them loose and watch yourself grow.

Speaking from experience life is so much better when that weight on your shoulders is gone if it/they don't make you happy then its not worth it.

Hope you have a "bloomin" lovely week!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Grounded Body Scrub Review

Coffee based scrubs have really taken off recently with any beauty blogger worth their salt posting a bathroom selfie covered in the stuff. I've always been a Soap & Glory Sugar Crush Body Scrub devotee but with Boots 2 for 3 offer on recently I thought it was worth exploring the pricer options and seeing what all the hype was about.

I may have picked up a few other bits... anyone else have an issue going into Boots and just getting what they went in for?! Tell me its not just me!

I'm a sucker for packaging but whats inside is just as amazing, the scrub is all natural packed with anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and extra virgin coconut oil which is great for sensitive skin like mine as its really moisturising. 

I have eczema and have to be careful what I use on my skin but unlike a lot of other coffee scrubs available it has no micro beads, paragons, fillers or chemicals and it makes my skin feel AMAZING and the smell, my god the smell. It stays on your skin all day and fills your whole bathroom. 

I choose the coconut version but theres also chocolate orange and grapefruit which I really want to try next.

You can use the scrub all over your body and face and Grounded recommend using it 2 -3 times a week and once buffed into the skin leave it on your skin for 10 minutes. 

2-3 times a week is a bit much for me I feel I get the same results once a week and 10 minutes is a long time to sit in the bath or shower and wait. So I tend to use it when I'm washing my hair and have a full pamper. Scrub first then, hair mask, facial, shampoo, condition and then wash off while the conditioner is working.

The scrub is a loose one so it is a messy affair, but easy to clean up with a quick rinse and doesn't stain. It'll probably be easier in a shower but until our new bathroom is fitted bath it is!

But so worth it, I've honestly never known a scrub leave my skin so soft and smooth. Worth every penny and I'm officially converted. 

I really want to try the Coconut & Lime face scrub from the range which no doubt will end up in my basket when I "pop into Boots for essentials" next.

You can get Grounded products from Boots or order online here.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday #9

I have caught the travel bug so much lately! 

After the most amazing honeymoon and our recent trip to Venice I can't wait to tick more places off our bucket list. 

I'm trying to squeeze in another holiday at the end of the year along with a holiday with the girls next year and a trip to New York with Bretts family to celebrate his mums 60th but I'm still desperate to clock up some more air miles.

 Here are my top 10 places I'm desperate to go to at the moment:

1. Miami
2. LA
3. Las Vegas
4. Mexico
5. Bora Bora
6. Bali
7. Santorini 
8. Japan
9. African Safari

I best get saving! Wheres on your travel list?

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Holiday Diaries: Piazza San Marco's

The second day of our trip we were up bright and early to make the most of our time, we hopped in the hotels speed boat and sped off to Venice snapping away as we went.

The boat couldn't stop directly at Piazza San Marco instead we docked at Fundament Nove which is about a 20 minute walk from San Marco. 

Initially I was a little worried about finding the square given how far away from it we were but I needn't of worried the majority of the big streets are signposted and the fun of Venice is getting lost in it and exploring all the side streets and random squares and sights along the way.

Every where you look theres another bridge or house that you just have to photograph!

We came across the most beautiful church and had to go in and look around, every part of it was so intricately designed from the marble pillars to the ceiling with portraits of different saints. I didn't know how Venice could top this sight but we went off in pursuit of more!

We stopped off for an obligatory gelato (strawberry & passionfruit for me and double chocolate for Brett) and carried on our travels.

After exploring we were rewarded by San Marco's square, the first thing that blew me away was the amount of people in one place and then the beauty of every detail on every building. 

The symmetry of this building is like a trick on the eye, at first I thought it was having work done and it had rendering on with a picture as I didn't think something that perfect could be real!

We explored, had lunch, explored, stopped for a Bellini, explored some more and had more gelato. 

We decided to hop on a water bus to Salute the home of Guggenheim museum and Santa Maria church, its one stop away and takes a few minutes and is well worth the trip.

Not only is the church stunning its much quieter with less people, certain streets we felt like we has the place to ourself which was a welcome break from the madness of the square.

We decided to head back to the hotel, rest our feet (they were killing after a full day of sight seeing - comfy shoes are a must for Venice) and freshen up before heading back into Venice for a sunset gondola ride. Without a doubt one of the best experience of my life which deserves its own post!