Happy New Year, lovely readers. I’m planning on spending a lot of 2015 in my future office. I’m working on some exciting new projects and I’ve decided they need a nifty little nest to incubate from. Needless to say I’ve spent a lot of time on Pinterest designing the space and getting inspired. Some goals this year include learning Photoshop, doing a photography course, doing pottery again and if time allows, going for art classes. Bri Emery and her phenomenal Design Love Fest blog have inspired me to feed my urge to be more creative this year and I think the HP Sprout is a great tool to help get those juices flowing. I mean, this video just makes me want to make mood boards for days.
Check out Bri’s review of the HP Sprout below. Dang I’d do anything to get my paws on one of these bad-boys…
Summer is upon us and so are her festivities. If you’re in need of a beautiful dress for the Christmas parties, weddings and gatherings that the next few months hold in store, the Mungo & Jemima dress collection is ideal. I recently bought a beautiful floaty lace dress from Blackeyed Susan via their online shop and I’m impressed with the service, quality and fit. The lovely folks at Mungo & Jemima have offered one lucky brandslut reader the summer frock of her choice, as well as a nifty R500 voucher. Here’s what you need to do to get your paws on that prize…
How to win:
- Hop onto Mungo & Jemima, peruse their dresses and pick your favourite
- Then let me know which one you hope to win by sharing it on either facebook, twitter or instagram with the hashtag #MandJSummerDress and tag @brandslut_ (twitter) / @brandslut (instagram) and also @MungoAndJemima. You can name it, take a screen grab, photograph your screen, draw it, whatever.
- That’s it! You’ve got until midnight on Friday December 5th to enter. My winner will be announced on Monday the 8th.
- Fingers crossed!
Here’s a look at the dress I bought. I just love the little lace capped sleeves and also the low back. I think this dress would make the most exquisite bridesmaid dress with a flower crown and simple strappy leather sandals. Just saying. I tried to dress it down with some suede leather boots from Country Road.
You can check out some of the looks I’ve put together for the GAP Styld.By. programme here. And check out the new summer range in GAP stores now – it’s awesome.
I had the privilege of attending Susan Greig’s a Festive Feast cooking class this morning. It was a last-minute invitation to join some of my lovely new colleagues on a creative team-build and I had an absolute blast. Susan runs monthly and bespoke classes, but today’s Christmas inspired Festive Feast menu took us through the steps needed to prepare the ultimate Christmas lunch or dinner, including:
- A smoked salmon mousse wreath
- Herb and pine-nut crusted roast gammon topped with pomegranate seeds
- A Genoise turkey
- Balsamic and parmesan potatoes and parsnips
- The ultimate roast vegetables
- Peach salad with burrata, almonds and proscuitto
- Christmas pavlova
- Almond semifreddo
I know, right?!
The recipes she taught us were practical and simple and beautifully presented on platters emulating festive wreaths and wonderful abundant circular patterns. The best bit? Most of the dishes can be prepared in advance and are served cold (bar the turkey and the roast veg), which allows the host/hostess the time and pleasure of enjoying in the celebrations, sans sweat-beads and panic. I know I’ve been too scared to attempt a gammon or turkey (I always think meat is complicated to cook, so I avoid it and stick to what I know) and I’m so glad I now know what to do. Hell, it really ain’t complicated. Some of my favourites were the salmon mousse, the ciabatta turkey stuffing (I mean!) and the polenta-crusted roast parsnips. She also threw in a quick crackle demonstration (similar to brittle) for the semifreddo.
Susan teaches from her home studio and cooks using herbs and vegetables from her garden, one of the most exquisite gardens I’ve ever seen. Her veggie patch is my dream; really. Raised bed-boxes filled with everything any salad or meal could ever imagine. I walked around the gardens fumbling over my semifreddo and my iPhone trying unsuccessfully to capture the beauty.
Susan’s classes are extremely well priced at R350 + per class, which includes lunch/dinner of course as you get to taste the recipes she demonstrates. Great for a gift, a bunch of friends or a team-build. I’ll definitely be back for Susan’s Thai and Indian classes. And if you’re nimble and keen on trying out this limited time only Festive Feast class, there are two left – tomorrow and Thursday. So click here to book now.
Inspired by Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, these wheat, gluten and dairy free chocolate treats are out of control. Today they’re affectionately know as Loadshedding Tartlets because you can make them sans electricity, which is exactly what I did today – the perfect task for these dark times. So, I followed Jessica Sepel’s recipe somewhat, but improvised a little. This method is designed for a chocolate tart but makes for a great chocolate macadamia nut cup recipe. Here’s what you need:
- 1 1/2 cups of almonds
- 1/2 cup of shredded coconut
- 1/3 cup of coconut oil
- 5-6 fresh dates, pitted
- Pinch of Himalayan salt
- 1/4 cup cacao nibs
- 1/2 cup of carob powder (or cacao powder)
- 1/4 cup of molasses (you can use raw honey, agave or maple syrup)
- 1/4 cup of coconut butter or oil
- Macadamia nut butter
- 1 tsp cinnamon
1. Chop the almonds and dates into small pieces and combine all 6 ingredients of the nut crust (a food processor would’ve been easier, but I chopped and mixed by hand). Scoop out the crust with a spoon and place mixture evenly inside your cup moulds. Press down and place in the freezer while you prepare the chocolate filling.
2. You will need to melt the coconut butter/oil if it’s not already melted. Once the coconut butter/oil is melted, incorporate the carob powder, molasses and cinnamon. Keep the macadamia nut butter aside.
3. Take the tart crust out of the freezer and pour a little bit of macadamia nut butter into each cup. Then top by pouring the filling into each cup. Once the cups are filled with the chocolate, store in the freezer or fridge for up to an hour (keep them in fridge until you serve).
I was left with a lot of nut crust mixture, so I flattened the mixture onto a non-stick pan and made a second batch of filling for some squares. I left the macadamia nut butter out of this lot but they still turned out great. The perfect tea-time treat, or that little something sweet to end dinner off with.
Here’s the recipe in pictures…
Here are the squares I made using the left-over nut crust:
I’m really chuffed at how these turned out. They’re packed with goodness and are absolutely delicious. If you give these a whirl, let me know how how they turn out!
I got the most incredible hand-delivered gift from my friend Tam yesterday. The delivery was special for a lot of reasons; but namely because this gift was the physical realisation of her dream, her idea. She’s an amazing young business woman with vision and courage and this, her pet tech+fashion project Take Charge, is destined for greatness. Hand-made in South Africa using local leathers; Take Charge offers a range of purses, clutches and tablet covers with a built-in power source to ensure you’ve got an extra charge when you’re running low. I needed this recently when my phone died and I couldn’t contact Uber. The slim and sleek battery unit is USB rechargeable and concealed within the inside of the purse/bag. They’re also compatible with iPhone and Micro USB devices (Android, BlackBerry etc) and offer solutions for both men and women.
The bags are super well priced at R699 upwards, and my favourite part is they can be personalised for only R50. I mean, best Christmas present idea ever! Also great for client and corporate gifting. Here’s a look at my gorgeous new power purse…
Shop online now and avoid those pesky Christmas queues by clicking here.
I was recently invited to visit Pure Esthetics in Parkmore for a Skin Analysis and a set of lash extensions at Fabulash; both under the same roof. I’ve always wanted to do a skin analysis but have been a little nervous of the results. We’ve all seen those horrendous photographs that illustrate sun damage not visible to the naked eye. Yikes! I decided to put on my big-girl panties and go for it. After all, I’m not a spring chicken anymore and really need to start worrying more about what I put on and into my skin.
The Pure Esthetics skin analysis results look like this:
They use a tiny camera hooked up to a computer to photograph a small section of your cheek. The analysis then maps and ranks your skin according to the following criteria:
- Collagen fibers
A detailed graphic illustrates your skin according to each of the criteria above benchmarked against the ideal range for your age; and then finally a report maps out all criteria and your real age versus skin age. I’m 31 and my skin age is 37 – eish! Fortunately the two areas that have affected my skin’s age most, moisture and pigment, can be reversed by wearing sunscreen EVERY day and increasing the moisture within my skin cells. I thought that wearing a BB cream with an SPF in it was good enough – nope! And I now have the skin analysis results to prove it. Now, I’m not a person who lies in the sun without SPF 50 almost everywhere. I also don’t tan often at all. So it just goes to show how much damage is done driving, sitting in sunny offices, exercising etc. It really is a scary notion – the South African sun is strong, folks. I’ve now added wearing HelioCare Advanced Gel (SPF 50) every day beneath my BB cream. It’s a phenomenal gel sunscreen that doesn’t result in breakouts and is super moisturising.
On the moisture front I was recommended trace mineral drops. Apparently the lack of certain minerals in our body can affect how moisture is retained; particularly within the skin. I drink water non-stop throughout the day – so I’m not dehydrated. It underscores that we need to take a holistic approach to skincare. I’ve now started drinking 25 drops of these ConcenTrace drops each day and I’m keen to see if my moisture levels improve when I go back in a few months for a second analysis.
In terms of my over-all skincare regime, I’ve added 4 amazing products/ranges that are active and penetrate both the dermal and epidermal layers for optimum results and my skin is thanking me. I was horrified to hear about some of the expensive big name brands that only penetrate the top epidermal layer; ultimately not having much affect other than costing consumers a fortune. These are some of my favourite new products:
1. LaMelle Correctives CE Complex – Right now I’m only using the Correctives which you apply first beneath your moisturiser. This stable, high concentration ascorbic acid product delivers a rapid AND delayed release phase ascorbic acid into the skin over a 12 hour period without any skin irritation. Irrespective of skin age, improvements in wrinkles, skin texture, discolouration and firmness are achievable with regular use.
2. Neo Strata Renewal Cream - Formulated with 12% Gluconolactone, Pro-Retinol, Vitamin E and a Vitamin A derivitive; I use this at night to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, reduce pore size, improve elasticity etc. I’ve been using this at night for about 2 months now and it feels incredible on the skin – dewy and delicious.
3. Alpha H Liquid Gold - I alternate this with the Neo Strata at night and it’s difficult to describe how awesome this makes my skin feel; it really is liquid gold. This product contains Glycolic Acid and is a powerful resurfacing and firming treatment for diminishing wrinkles, pigmentation and sun damage. If you have very sensitive skin this might not work for you; so perhaps try to get your paws on a sample before you splash out. It tingles for a little and then leaves your face looking like you’ve just had a facial.
4. Acnevelle – Also from Lamelle, this is a skin supplement containing Zinc Picolinate and Nicotinamide and I take two tablets a day to work on my skin from within. I have a combination skin with some super oily and congested areas. I felt I needed something more than a topical solution to get to the root of the problem; and so far I think this is working.
5. Smitten Facial Cleansing Mitten – This little pink glove is life-changing. Wet with warm water and clean your face – no soap, nothing. The magical fibre it’s made from (I have no idea what it is but it’s different to any face-cloth I’ve tried) gets right in there and cleans away stubborn make-up and mascara. My skin feels and looks like glass afterwards.
Click here to book your Skin Analysis with Pure Esthetics.
After my skin analysis I was treated to a set of lash extensions by the famous Romy of Fabulash. I wanted a set of full but natural-looking lashes; something to enhance my natural pathetic eye-lashes. One thing I never leave the house without is mascara, mainly because I look like a mole without it. Here, proof:
I know, right?! Not a great look. Anyways, Romy’s work is meticulous and precise and the result was great. I also thoroughly enjoyed the process and foot massage whilst my lash extensions were applied. Here’s the result:
I’ve loved waking up with a full set of amazing lashes that require no mascara. You actually don’t need any make-up when your lashes look great. As a result I haven’t had to scrub my eyes to wipe-away stubborn mascara every day and I’m sure the skin around my eyes is better for it. I’ll have them filled next weekend; that’ll be 3 weeks since I had them done and they’re still looking fine. A few have fallen out, but that’s normal.
You can book an appointment with Romy, Thembi or Prudence online here.
Eep! I’m equally excited and terrified to share this. This is my first tutorial with dear friends Julia and Camilla of All Dolled Up. If you’re into make-up and beauty then you need to subscribe to their YouTube channel - I’ve learnt so much from this gorgeous pair. I’m often asked how I curl my hair and truth is it’s super quick and easy with a straightener. I know that sounds daft, I mean, curl with a straightener? But trust me. It’s all in the wrist-flick and once you’ve got the hang of it it’s a jiffy – you can easily curl your hair in 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how thick your hair is.
As mentioned in my tutorial above, I recently started using the Glampalm straightener and it’s a phenomenal product with a heap of great features; it’s also manufactured by the original GHD makers. Now, my first GHD is 13 years old and is still going strong; just to illustrate the quality of these products. They’re pricey (R2300) but worth every penny. The Glampalm has an auto switch-off feature which is a huge selling point for me. It’s just not worth fretting about whether or not you remembered to turn it off. Some other nifty features include:
Glampalm have very kindly offered a voucher code discount to brandslut readers – shop online here with code bs225 and receive R200 of your Glampalm straightener.
If you found this tutorial helpful, please do let me know by leaving a comment.
The pop-up picnic is a trend the world over; and it’s not going anywhere any time soon. The next on the social calendar is Mystery Picnics’ A Vintage Affair which promises to be spectacular. I’m giving away a double set of tickets to a Johannesburg-based reader valued at R800. The picnic takes place on the evening of Saturday November 29th (venue to be revealed at a later date) and tickets include:
- Two tickets to the Mystery Picnic at a unique location in Jozi
- Live Entertainment throughout the evening
- 2 chairs & a sharing table
- 2 mystery packs
- Access to the cash bar
- 2 Dessert packs valued @ R85 each
Pack your own picnic basket, or leave it to the organisers by pre-ordering one here. You’ll need to dress according to the theme and decorate your special place at the table.
How to win?
Hop on over to my twitter profile by clicking here and retweet my Mystery Picnic tweet. That’s it. Competition ends midnight on Sunday November 16th, winner will be announced on Monday the 17th.
See you there!
I’ve been using the new iPhone 6 for a couple of weeks now; enough time to write a short review on the things I love most. Here are my top 10 favourite features in no particular order…
1. It’s real skinny. I’m a sucker for sleek and skinny gadgetry that fits into my life in a non-intrusive manner. The iPhone 6 is just that. She’s a saucy skinny little minx at just 6.9mm thin with lovely soft new edges. They come in in black, gold and silver.
2. You can use your iPhone 6 with one hand. Riiiiiight. So, you’re probably thinking, “I can use any phone with one hand. Look ma!” But. A gentle double tap on the home button (don’t press) lowers the content on the screen so you can access it easily with just one hand. Nifty!
3. The battery lasts longer. I’ve been going to bed with 50% battery life, a huge improvement from the 5S. Sure, it’s bigger so it physically holds more charge, and the faster processor saves battery life, but you can also now see the battery draining culprit apps and switch those Bad Boys off. Go to Settings > General > Usage > Battery Usage. You’re welcome.
4. The camera is flippen’ amazing. Apple’s made both hardware and software changes to the camera. A new sensor promises faster focus speeds and better low light images; backed by a more powerful and efficient image processor. And of course, the screen has increased in size and resolution.
5. You can also take a selfie with a timer. Choose between a 3 or 10 second delay, get into your desired position/pout/flex and go! It’s actually a rad little iPhone 6 feature.
6. It has built in time-lapse and slo-mo video. I’m still waiting for the ideal time-lapse opportunity; but at least these features are built in and don’t need to be added via a 3rd party app.
7. You can hide the photos you don’t want your pesky mates to see. We’ve all experienced that awkward post side-swipe moment. You can avoid it now by hiding those photos. These will go into a, wait for it, folder called ‘Hidden’ within your albums.
8. Keep track of your health. The integrated Health app lets you keep all your health and fitness oriented information in one place on your device and under your control. It integrates with 3rd party apps like Nike + and Run Keeper to house all of your data within one tap. You can also create an emergency card with important health information — for example, your blood type, medical aid details or allergies, all available from your lock screen.
9. It has faster wireless far and wide. This is something I noticed immediately. The iPhone 6 has faster LTE download speeds and supports more LTE bands than any other smartphone. That means you can roam in more places and experience WiFi at up to 3x faster speeds. Yikes!
10. The bigger screen really is better. The increase from 4″ to 4.7″ really does make a difference, particularly when you’re typing. I didn’t think I needed a bigger screen, but now that I’m using it I don’t know how I lived without it. The Retina HD display on this bigger screen really does make for a brilliant visual experience. That said, the iPhone 6 Plus (5.5″) is just too big; for me at least. I like to run with my iPhone 6 strapped to my arm, and doing that with the Plus would be like strapping the telephone book to my arm. Nope.
You can get your paws on the new iPhone 6’s at iStore branches nationwide. If you’ve got any other nifty tips or tricks to share, please leave a comment on this post.