Monday Muses | Rebecca Keegan

(PLEASE NOTE: Pictures that I share as part of Monday Muses will be a direct link to the original posted by said Muse for which of course, they are fully credited for.)

For this week’s Monday Muses, I thought I would bring it a little closer to home and introduce you to someone I have known since my school days (in other words, a LONG time ago!).

This is Rebecca Keegan – a Textile Design Graduate, self-confessed illustration enthusiast and lover of tea and cake (well who isn’t!)

This amazingly talented gal is inspired by all things nature – especially if it involves bears and forests!  Most of her work takes on Scandinavian/Nordic themes, which I just love and thinks it adds to her nature themes.  Rebecca uses a mixture of printing by hand and digital drawing to create her prints as well as the odd bit of laser-cut wood designs.

Here are a couple of my favourites:

Rebecca Keegan - Stack O Mugs - Monday Muses

Photo & Artistic Credit – Rebecca Keegan

Rebecca Keegan - Lost in the Woods

Photo & Artistic Credit – Rebecca Keegan

She also designed her own personal hair accessories for herself and her bridesmaids for her wedding day – fitting in with her woodland theme.  SO CUTE.

Rebecca Keegan - Laser Cut Wedding Hair Piece

Photo Credit – Rebecca Keegan

She sells her pieces online under the Hey There Bear name but she often gets involved in various craft fairs as well.  You can check out her Etsy Shop and her Society6 page if you want to check out and buy her cute, whimsical wares.

And if that wasn’t enough, she has also licenced some of her designs to be made into iPhone cases as well via Keka Cases!

Other Links for Rebecca Keegan

Don’t forget to check out my previous Monday Muses where we took a look at Miranda Yeo and Zoe Sees in case you missed them.

If you have enjoyed this week’s edition of Monday Muses then don’t forget to like this post and leave me a comment below (and give me a follow too using the links if you haven’t already!) 🙂

Until next time! x

Food | Health: Whipped Coconut Body Butter

Today’s post is a slightly different one – it’s another Pinspiration, but this time it involves using food for other health benefits (you know, other than eating).  I recently bought some coconut oil (you can find it at Holland & Barrett) to use for my hair and the odd bit of cooking.  My hair lately has not been in the best of conditions, so I wanted to give it a bit of a helping hand and condition the hell out of it.  I usually put it on all over my hair the night before, tie it all up and then the next day, wash it all out.  I have been leaving my hair to dry naturally 99% of the time, but I have noticed a difference into how much more tamed my frizziness is as well as how much more glossy and healthy my locks look and feel.

I love browsing through Pinterest to get some more ideas on how to utilise my coconut oil more and stumbled upon a few posts of making my own whipped coconut oil body butter (sounds yummy enough to eat!) – so I thought I would give it a go, and it couldn’t have been more simple!

Ingredients

Coconut oil

Vitamin E oil

A few drops of your favourite essential oil for fragrance (optional)

Coconut Oil and Vitamin E Oil

I actually skipped out adding the essential oil bit because I really love the smell of coconut oil, as its wonderfully tropical, but you only need a few drops if you do.  The Vitamin E oil I bought was a slightly cheaper one, as it’s not one you can consume (but if you want to go for a more expensive one that’s cool too!) and I wasn’t planning on eating my body butter (even if it sounds LUSH).  The added bonus is, that the Dr Organic range is against testing on animals – yay!

*Before you start, you need to make sure your coconut oil is in a solid state and NOT melted otherwise you won’t be able to whip it!

  • I started by scooping two tablespoons worth of coconut oil into a clean bowl.

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  • I then added a teaspoon of Vitamin E oil to the bowl.

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  • Then, I used my electric hand whisk (a free-standing one is also fine) to whip up the ingredients, until it was soft and creamy.

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  • I then scooped out my body butter and put it into a clean glass jam jar (you can use whatever you want, but I think glass jars are pretty and a great way to recycle).

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And TA-DA!  There’s your own homemade body butter!  I absolutely love applying this all over my body after I’ve showered, and really working it into the skin.  And with the added benefits of Vitamin E oil, which helps with dry, uneven skin and helps reduce the appearance of scars and stretch marks; I am noticing a huge difference in my skin!  I also apply it to my face in the night as well.  I think this would be a perfect gift idea to give to someone as it’s so quick and easy to make.IMG_6498

*Please be sure to do a patch test of all the ingredients first, in case you are sensitive to any of it – but so far I haven’t had any issues.

I also used some of my coconut oil to make these delicious flourless pancakes – a healthier alternative packed full of yummy goodness!

Have you tried to make your own homemade health and beauty products before?  Do share your ideas in the comments below!  And if you liked this post then don’t forget to give it a like and a follow using the links 🙂

Until next time! x

Monday Muses | Miranda Yeo

(PLEASE NOTE: Pictures that I share as part of Monday Muses will be a direct link to the original posted by said Muse for which of course, they are fully credited for.)

For Today’s edition of Monday Muses, we’re going to take a look at the talented Miranda Yeo (who also goes by the nickname ‘Snarkies’) who is a freelance character designer and a recent animation graduate.

Her Instagram holds a whole host of her character designs, which almost all of them follow a particular artistic style (think old school Disney – big eyes and dainty features).

Being a HUGE fan of The Lord of the Rings, some of my favourite work of hers to date are her recent drawings of the characters:

Animated dresses from the 2015 Oscars:

Some gorgeous ink-work:

View this post on Instagram

Playin around with some ink

A post shared by Miranda Yeo (@snarkies) on

And alongside those, she does a lot of cute mermaid sketches (which she posts using #MondayMerms):

View this post on Instagram

#inktober day 6, also #MondayMerms !

A post shared by Miranda Yeo (@snarkies) on

I think because I grew up on all things Disney, I can really relate to Miranda’s art style – she has a way of turning simple, delicate drawings into something that really has a great impact.  No two drawings are ever the same, characters always have something unique about the way they look and the way they are posed.  You can check out her Tumblr for more links to her social media profiles, Etsy as well as her portfolio.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about another wicked artist in this edition of Monday Muses, and please don’t forget to give it a like (and a follow if you’re not already)!  Don’t forget to give Miranda Yeo a follow on her Instagram and Tumblr if her passion has put a smile on your face!

If there are any other creatives out there that I should check out – be it an artist, musician, writer…then comment about them below with a link to their work – I love discovering new people all the time!

Until next time! x

Food | Baking: Flourless Pancakes

Today is a bit of an easy one, and it’s something that I saw plastered all over Pinterest and I thought I would give it shot! There is no specific “owner” of this recipe (not that I know of) and it is a healthier alternative to normal pancake recipes because it doesn’t use any refined sugar or flour – so if you go gluten free, this is something for you to try!  I also recently purchased some (fair trade) extra virgin coconut oil from Holland & Barrett, so was excited to use this to cook with!

Ingredients

1 banana, mashed

2 eggs

pinch of cinnamon (optional)

1 tbsp coconut oil, for frying

To Serve

Whatever you want!

  • In a bowl, mash the banana as well as you can before adding the eggs and then whisk together until everything is incorporated. (You can use a processor/blender if you want to make the mix as smooth as possible).
  • As there is no sugar in the recipe, I added a pinch of cinnamon.
  • In a frying pan, I heated the coconut oil and then added the pancake mix a little at a time to make smallish pancakes so that I could make a stack. (You can make them any size you want!)
  • After frying each pancake on both sides until golden brown, I stacked them up on a plate and served with some blueberries and a sneaky serving of maple syrup (not totally healthy after all, but shhhhh!)

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This is SO easy and quick to do, so it’s great for the morning to give you a boost of much needed energy and protein with the combination of banana and eggs, top with some yummy fruit and you’re good to go! (Goes great with a spread of Nutella too!) This is also a great recipe to try for Mother’s Day today and even the little un’s can help out!

I have pinned a lot of food ideas on Pinterest and I am only slowly starting to give the recipes a try!  Have you ever tried out an idea you have seen on Pinterest or Instagram?  Let me know in the comments below, and if you enjoyed reading then please like this post (and give me a follow using the links if you already haven’t!).

Until next time! x

Monday Muses | Zoe Sees

Hello!  It’s me again – that person that blogs for a bit and then randomly disappears because something else takes over their life for a while.  Yeah, sorry about that.  All I am going to say is that there are two weddings and an engagement coming up (pretty much one weekend after another) at the end of this month and into April, so it’s been a little hectic.  If you don’t already know, Desi clothes shopping – especially for weddings, is an extremely difficult palaver.  It involved two days in Birmingham and one in London trawling every single shop for outfits that 1) were preferably ready-made, 2) didn’t need alterations and 3) weren’t freaking hideous.  Suffice to say, we managed to get it done.  Ugh.

Moving on!  As you may have noticed from the title, I am doing another little addition which I have been wanting to do for a while.  I am one of those people that will spend a lot of time on Instagram simply admiring people’s artwork that they have been sharing – and I find it so nice to see so much creativity filling up my feed, that I thought I would dedicate a spotlight post on someone different every Monday that has caught my eye that I feel I should share with more people.

(PLEASE NOTE: Pictures that I share as part of Monday Muses will be a direct link to the original posted by said Muse for which of course, they are fully credited for.)

Today’s edition features Zoe Sees who is a cartoonist, illustrator AND a lawyer (talented or what!).  On her personal website she says “I believe that wherever words fail, a mildly disparaging cartoon can usually succeed.”

View this post on Instagram

🍃🍂🍁

A post shared by Zoe Si (@zoesees) on

Her Instagram has a combination of different artistic styles including ‘Slice of Life’ comics featuring a very cute version of herself and her partner:

View this post on Instagram

4 hours into weekend #HouseofCards binge. 📺🍕

A post shared by Zoe Si (@zoesees) on

Cartoon sketches of people she observes

Life-like sketches

And among her artistic posts, there are some of her cooking and baking feats and the odd selfie post, and if you’re lucky – the odd little video of a jam session (she has the sweetest voice).  She is one of those people that I feel are constantly brimming with such creative potential, and I always find myself looking through my feed for one of her posts – mainly because they are usually filled with such real life humour, that they genuinely make me chuckle.

You are also able to buy her work from her Etsy shop which features some seriously cute prints!

I hope you have enjoyed the first edition of Monday Muses, please don’t forget to give it a like (and a follow if you’re not already!) and hopefully I have introduced you to someone who was previously unknown to you!  Don’t forget to give Zoe Sees a follow on her Instagram and Website if her passion has put a smile on your face!

If there are any other creatives out there that I should check out – be it an artist, musician, writer…then comment about them below with a link to their work – I love discovering new people all the time!

Until next time! x

Exploring Britain | Wales: Ogmore-by-Sea

If you live in South Wales, then chances are you have been to Ogmore-by-Sea at least once.  I used to come here with my family when I was a little girl, and my siblings and I would have hours of fun playing in the little rock pools and building sandcastles.  Ogmore-by-Sea is a wonderful place to explore, and as you can see, I had quite a bit of fun fiddling around with the settings on the DSLR to try and capture some of the dramatic scenery that day.  As beaches and sea fronts tend to go, it was a little more chilly than it was in Cardiff, even in summer, so make sure to wear an extra layer or two!  If you have never been to Ogmore before, there are quite a few craggy rocks about before you reach the sand so sensible footwear is also a good idea (and not flip flops like I was wearing!).

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 If you couldn’t already tell, it was a VERY windy day at Ogmore.

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Although the pictures I took that day concentrate on the beach, there are actually quite a few different activities you could do in the area such as trails and walks, pony trekking (check out Ride on the Beach) and if you’re brave enough – swimming!  There are also two castles in the area to explore, Ogmore Castle and Candleston Castle.  There are also a few places to eat, namely a lovely little country pub called The Pelican in her Piety which offers up hearty home cooked food – just what you need after a long day exploring.  However, nothing beats watching the sun slowly sinking in the horizon whilst you’re wrapped up in warm layers a few blankets and a little picnic.  A great day out for all the family (and the dogs!).

More information can be found on the following websites:

Have you ever been to Ogmore-by-Sea?  What are your favourite beaches/sea fronts that you like to visit around Britain and why?  Do let me know in the comments below 🙂

Until next time! x

Food | Baking: Schichttorte

So, I was actually deliberating on whether I was going to share my latest bit of baking with you lot because I was actually very disappointed by the results (as I am a bit of a perfectionist) but hey ho, here is my attempt at trying out a schichttorte (yes, that 20-layered German cake from The Great British Bake Off).

This recipe is from Paul Hollywood and can be found on the BBC – Food Website.

Recipe

Cake

10 large eggs, separated

100g/3½oz unsalted butter

150g/5½oz caster sugar

1 large lemon, zest only

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

150g/5½oz plain flour, sifted

65g/2¼oz cornflour, sifted

oil, for greasing

6 tbsp apricot jam

Chocolate Glaze

50g/1¾oz unsalted butter

1 tbsp golden syrup

1 tbsp rum

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

75g/2½oz plain chocolate (36% cocoa solids), finely chopped

Vanilla Glaze

250g/9oz icing sugar

1 tbsp rum

½ tsp vanilla bean paste

1-2 tbsp milk

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  • After I managed to separate all 10 eggs after a little bit of difficulty, I then whisked the egg yolks using a hand-held whisk on high speed until the mixture became pale, thick and creamy.

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  • In another bowl, I creamed together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy.  I then added the zest of one lemon and 1 tsp of vanilla extract (but you can use vanilla bean paste if you have it) and mixed well.

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  • I added the whisked egg yolks and mixed well.  I then added the flour and cornflour (which I sifted together beforehand) in installments to make it a little easier to mix.

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  • In yet another bowl, I whisked the egg whites until soft peaks formed.

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  • I stirred one-third of the egg whites into the batter to loosen it a little and then I gently folded the rest of the egg whites into the batter.

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(I do have to apologise for the poor lighting in most of these pictures, it started to get dark outside when I started this and so struggled to get enough natural light in order to take nicer photos!)

  • I preheated the grill to high and then greased a 20cm/8in round springform tin with a little oil and lined the base with greaseproof paper.  I then spooned a little bit of the batter into the tin and spread it across the bottom evenly.

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  • I then placed the tin under the grill and kept a watchful eye over it for a couple of minutes until it was a light brown colour.  (As you can see, it went slightly darker than I wanted it to as my high grill setting was just TOO high so I had to turn it down).

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  • I kept this up over the next couple of hours and noting down which layer I was grilling by marking 1L, 2D, 3L, 4D etc. (L = Light; D = Dark of course!)
(At this point, I was knackered and boiling hot from standing in front of the grill 99% of the time and some of my timings started to slip a little – I will say however, that I had enough batter for 20 layers, HURRAH!).
  • After I finished grilling all my layers, I absolutely started to hate this cake but I left it for a little while to cool down before turning it out on to a wire rack.

(At this point I was wondering what the heck happened to my 20 layers).

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  • Nevertheless, I continued!  I melted the apricot jam in a pan and then pushed it through a sieve (I actually think 6tbsp seemed a bit much so I lessened the amount).  Using a pastry brush, I brushed the jam all over the top and sides of the cake.

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  • For the chocolate glaze, I began by melting the butter, golden syrup and vanilla extract in a pan (didn’t use any rum of course!).
  • IMG_4437After the mixture incorporated together, I finely chopped the chocolate (I couldn’t find chocolate that was 36% cocoa solids and so went with 70%, but in hindsight, maybe I should have used milk chocolate!) and after the syrup mixture cooled a little I added the chocolate and stirred until it had melted.  I then left the glaze to cool to a coating consistency.
  • I made sure to place some parchment underneath the wire rack holding the cake before pouring the glaze over the cake.

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  • For the vanilla glaze, I started by sifting the icing sugar into the bowl to which I added the vanilla extract and milk (no rum) and began stirring until smooth.  (For some reason I couldn’t get the glaze to thicken enough and in the end I was so hot, bothered and tired that I gave up and just used it.)

  • I then went a bit nuts with the drizzle, and because it hadn’t thickened enough, it sort of spread a bit too much…

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So, all in all I was quite disappointed by the end result, especially when I finally tasted it.  IT WAS SO DRY.  Oh, I wanted to cry, all that effort!  No need to eat your heart out just yet Paul Hollywood!  I think next time, I’ll stick to something a little less ambitious!

Have you ever tried something as ambitious as this cake and how did it turn out?  Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time! x

Food | Baking: Triple Chocolate Brownies

As much as I love trying to bake new things, I still love going back to some old favourites. This particular favourite is something I have made since I was 18, living in a rickety house in the Mumbles in Swansea with my two cousins. The recipe is based on Antony Worrall Thompson’s Triple Chocolate Brownies found on BBC Good Food Website – Triple Chocolate Brownies.

Recipe
275g/10oz plain (dark) chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
275g/10oz unsalted butter
85g/3oz pecans
85g/3oz milk chocolate
85g/3oz white chocolate
175g/6oz plain flour
1tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
1tsp vanilla essence
325g/12oz caster sugar

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  • I start by placing a bowl over a pan of water over the heat (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water.  I break up my dark chocolate into pieces (I used 300g of chocolate – why waste any!?) and add to the bowl to melt along with the butter which I chop up into small cubes.

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  • Once the chocolate and butter melted and I had stirred it through to combine, I removed the bowl from the heat (please be wary doing this, the bowl will be hot!) and added the sugar to the chocolate and stirred to combine.

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  • Next I lightly whisked the eggs in a jug and added the vanilla essence to the eggs.

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  • I then added the eggs to the mixture in installments and made sure to mix well after each addition (the mixture might start to separate whilst you’re doing this but don’t panic – it just involves a little elbow grease and continuous mixing!).  After this I then lined a tin with greaseproof paper which I lightly greased with some butter and as I have a fan oven I preheated the oven to 150C (the original method says 170C).

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  • In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder and then add this to the mixture in installments.  Gently fold the flour into the mixture well after each addition.

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  • Once all the flour has been folded into the mixture, chop up the white chocolate and milk chocolate roughly into different sized chunks (I used 100g of each – waste not want not!) and then add to the mixture and carefully fold them in.  You can add nuts such as pecans like the recipe suggests but I tend to leave them out unless it’s requested.

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  • With the help of a spatula, I pour my mixture into the greased tin and then using the spatula I attempt to even out the mixture in the tin.

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  • I the put the tin in the oven and leave it to bake for about 20 – 25 minutes.  You want to slightly undercook the brownies so that when you take it out, the top is firm but the inside should feel soft.  The residual heat from the tin will help gently cook the rest of the brownie without the use of the oven and give you a nice fudgy/gooey brownie.

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  • Leave the brownies aside while they cool and be sure not to cut into them straight away otherwise it will definitely fall apart.
  • Serve with a good helping of vanilla ice cream or double cream – YUM.

What brownie recipe do you use?  Does it have lots of chocolate in it or do you use healthy ingredients like avocado?  Do you put in nuts?  Let me know!  As you can see, there is no photo of me enjoying a midnight brownie as I made these quite late!

Until next time! x

Fresh New Look

If you haven’t already noticed, my blog has undergone a slight change.

Firstly, I have a new domain name – I did think about using a creative and/or obscure title (I did title my blog as ‘The Toasted Brunette’ for a little while) but in the end I stuck with using my name… well, a shortened version of my name anyway!  Let’s face it, ‘Samaiyyah Siddique’ is a tad too long and I only have but 25 years of experience of just about everyone getting the spelling wrong.

Secondly, I have moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress.  No offence to Blogger, I think it’s a great tool for beginners to use and plenty of well known bloggers still use it but personally I feel that WordPress offers me more.  My blog now has a clean, fresh look to it which will hopefully allow my writing and photos to take centre stage.

Thirdly, you may have spotted the sub-title now reads ‘Lifestyle | Food | Travel’.  For a while now, I have wanted to expand the contents of my blog as I seem to have been concentrating on the ‘Lifestyle’ genre more than I originally intended to.  

I absolutely love to cook, especially if it’s baking.  I will be hoping to do more posts about the things I cook and bake (including any kitchen mishaps) along with the recipes and method I use so you can also give it a go!

In case you are wondering, the cake below was a 4 tiered spiced apple birthday cake I made – it smelled like Christmas ❤

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Another passion of mine will be to start blogging about the places I have travelled to in a little series called ‘Exploring Britain’ which I aim to start soon as I have been to some wonderfully lovely places this year right here on my doorstep.  It will be nice to share that with you all as people often tend to overlook the things nearest to them.

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Now that I’m feeling more confident about how my new blog looks and feels, I am looking forward to churning out a lot more posts!

Super Gorgeous May – Day 1

I have decided to start doing a photo a day challenge called #SuperGorgeousMay which I have seen a lot of people participate in last month including my friend Rachel and it looked like a lot of fun so I thought I would join in and have a go!

Instagram user @SuperGoreous has posted the following photo a day challenges on her account.  These are the challenges for this month:

 

I will attempt the different challenges throughout the month of May on my Instagram account (@ubersupersam) but I will also try to blog about my photo a day each day if I can!

So let’s get to it!  Today’s challenge was to capture something that had ‘pretty packaging’.  A lot of people have been taking snaps of something makeup related so I thought I would do the same (after all it’s called ‘Super Gorgeous May’ isn’t it?).
I really love creating nude looks on my eyes as I don’t think colour suits my skin tone very much as I have really dark circles.  Urban Decay’s Naked range is amazing (in my opinion), the shadows are really pigmented and the colours are so pretty.  Even though they are nude colours I really think they help make my eyes pop and I find that it last all day!  I do love the packaging on the Naked 3 palette the best – it kind of reminds me of melting chocolate or silk.  I have always been a fan of Benefit and I love their little kit boxes you can buy as they have small samples of lots of different products that compliment each other and work together.  This is especially great if you don’t want to spend lots of money on just one product that you won’t use very often and instead can have a little bit of everything and they are the perfect size to pop in your bag!  The other thing I love about these little kit boxes is that because the packaging is so pretty, after you have finished with the products you can re-use them as keepsake boxes.  I just love the cute vintage feel you get from the Benefit range, I always want to buy something from the counter whenever I walk past because everything looks so tempting!

 

As today’s challenge was simply to do with packaging I have tried not to go into too much detail about the actual product themselves (but maybe I can do some posts in the future on those).
People mentioned in today’s post:
You can check out Rachel’s Instagram account on @rsgrey to see what she did for Super Gorgeous April and her blog http://nothingrhymeswithrachel.blogspot.co.uk
#SuperGorgeousMay is brought to you by @SuperGorgeous as mentioned earlier.  If you want to give it a go, do check out the hashtag and get snapping!