Cupcakes #recipe #vanillacupcakes #buttercream

I have been meaning to share this recipe for ages as its the one I get asked about most! This recipe is adapted from a "Primrose Bakery" one but I found theirs although delicious to be just a bit too "cakey" without a cup of tea.

How to Ice and Decorate Cupcakes. #tutorial

Ok so for the Buttercream Recipe see

Cupcake and Vanilla Butter Cream Recipe.
How to Ice. 

Now you can just spread the butter cream on which I prefer because its not too much but piping is easier and prettier if I'm honest but that's the OCD in me. 

So for a piped cupcake you will need.

  • A piping bag - I use disposable as they are cheap and no washing up!
  • A nozzle - I normally use a Large Star tip.

Cut a small bit off the end of the bag an place the nozzle inside. Pull the nozzle out of the bottom and cut a bit more off if more room is needed. Do this carefully, the nozzle should be snug because when you apply pressure it will pop off.

Then curl the top of the bag over on itself a few times at the top to make it easier to put the buttercream in. Then using a big spoon transfer the buttercream into the bag - if you find this fiddly you can put the bag into a large glass to hold it up while you spoon in the buttercream. Then twist the top of the bag around a few times making sure all the air escapes. READY.

Hold the cupcake in one hand and the piping bag in the other. Place the nozzle flat to the edge, of the cupcake, squeeze out some buttercream and move in a circle around the edge, go round twice like a "Mr Whipy Ice Cream" into the middle. Then pull up and away from the cupcake to make the peak. It will take practice mine were awful at first but you get comfortable how to hold them for you, how much pressure to apply etc -just have fun!

TERRIBLE technique but had to take a pic and pipe at the same time...you get the idea.

Then decorate with whatever you want, do each cupcake as you go or the icing starts to dry and sprinkles etc wont stick.

You can get all sorts of decorations and sprinkles now even just at the supermarket but I sometimes make mine if I cant find something special and its really easy!

Petal Paste - this is like fondant but drys much harder
Icing Sugar

I CANT find my box of them at this moment but this is my favourite one got it from ebay.

Sprinkle or dust some icing sugar into a mould.
Work some petal paste into the mould.
Carfully peel out -might need to use a knife
Tidy up or cut off any stray edges.
Leave to dry, ready for decorating.

Tah dah like grown up playdough.


Mother Days Guide. #Dads

Unfortunately this year the husband will be away for Mothers Day so I wont exactly be getting the day I wanted but I feel its my duty to do a guide for the Dads, especially with little ones out there so the Mums, Mams, Mammys, Grandmas, GG's and Nanas get exactly what they deserve.

Now men folk I know you don't get it but there are 3 reasons this is important

1. We know your not bothered if you even get a card on Fathers day, in fact for at least the last five years my hubby has said in reference to every birthday and Christmas "Your present to me is not spending money...if I want something I will get it"....yeah we are NOT like that we want the stuff. Simple.

2.Having to ask for something is as appealing as being a professional nappy changer...oh wait we kind of are. So get your imagination out and your surprise on. The surprise is the most important bit.

3. We have earned one day in a whole year. I know this exact argument is going on right now between parents the world over "Who does more, who has it harder" but just face it Dads we do....even if we just win more in the worrying stakes alone.

Repeat after me. Happy Wife, Happy Life.

I'm not saying this should cost loads of money NO no this really is one of the days where the thought does count more, however I might as well give you all the options.  

Step one: DO NOT FORGET. "I've been busy this week" or "I didn't realise it was this weekend" wont cut it and trust me sneaking off to write out the card on the actual morning or a mad dash to the supermarket will have bad side effects...maybe months from now. I guarantee you she is thinking "You had a whole years notice?!". Santa cant forget or be late and neither can you.     2 weeks today folks.

Step two: We want a lie in. Not a wait until the kids wake us up and then we have to wake you up, remind you its mothers day, push you out of bed and then you all make more noise than a brass band for the next few hours. NO. You need to listen for sounds of life from the crack of dawn then quietly get up with the kids, and keep them entertained for a couple hours....quietly.

Step three. Breakfast in bed. Even tea and toast will be much appreciated, croissants, pancakes, egg and bacon will be even better. Please note though we don't want to share so drop and leave also unless your going to do the dishes as well then don't cook. 

Tip. My kids love this type of thing so getting them to help and even making a place mat or a "room service" card for Mummy to make her brekkie requests and the little ones play waiter.

Here is a printable one.

Step four. Get a card. Buy it or get the kids to make it ...best thing in the world.

Easy home-made card. Adore it.

Step five. Get a present. A bunch of flowers, chocolates, wine or jewellery (maybe keep the receipt for that one) all gratefully received...at least one per child though. Just saying.

Personally love all the spring blooms really cheap this time of year as well.

Major Bonus Points.

Personalised gifts, Save, Spend, Splurge.
Make a canvas print maybe with their hand and footprints on. This will be messy  but its cheap the canvas and paints both from Wilkos cost a few pounds VERY effective.

Hand and foot printed crockery. There are loads of these shops around hopefully full of Dads, the hubby tells me the staff are very helpful to make your gift. One of the best things I've ever received. 
We used Hotpotz in Whitley Bay very helpful.  

Finger print jewellery is not cheap but uber cute no matter the age of the child...I'm hoping for some!
 A local retailer is Smallprint-Newcastle

A Meal.

Us Mammas love not to cook and even more we love not to do the dishes. So a meal out on the day is always nice or one of my favourites, Afternoon Tea somewhere special.

This is Jesmond Dene House...epic.


These are the type of things we physically find hard to book guilt free for our selves so are much appreciated as it forces us to pamper ourselves....its like us buying you derby day tickets.

Really nice smellys, go safe with things you know she likes or go for something luxurious. I personally love all the Elemis range....been asked for specifics. The body oils, hand lotions and shower cremes are lovely as are Molton Brown products and Jo Malone Candles all big treats.  

A voucher for a Pedicure, Massage etc. Gel Manicure is the in thing. Cal Gel is my favourite but Bio Gel and Shellac are good too.

A whole spa day?....be still my beating heart.

Free Time.

Its ironic on a day that we are celebrating being a Mother we don't actually want to be around our kids the whole time. So a few hours peace and quiet would be one of the best gifts going....we are fickle like that.

Mothers dream.

So go on spoil your Mam and tell her you
 love her, life is short!

Ash xox


Hair Tutorial. How to curl with a Straightener. #curlyhair #glam #sandrabullock

I must say this is my "go to" hair doo for a night on the tiles but when I saw Sandra Bullocks Oscars style I thought hers just seemed much ....nicer and had to up my game for my own posh night out blog here Oscars and Glam Nights.
 After I posted a photo on instragram and said she was my inspiration, one of her fan sites sent me this picture!!!

I was so chuffed and I've since had several requests for this hair tutorial. I will say now that I am NOT a hairdresser I have worked in salons but as a Beauty Therapist but I learnt how to do this from my hairdresser Steph at Jem. I much prefer it when she does it...isn't that always the case though, but that's not always an option, so I will show you how I do it at home. 

As usual I had no one around to take pictures so it was a bit of a nightmare, I apologise for the quality, lack of make up and ridiculous faces being pulled now. 

Here goes nothing!


Products - from the start to the finish, it is important that you pick the correct products for your hair and for this style volume will be needed. I wont go into brands as I'm a bit of a product whore and like to change about but personally my hair is very thick and frizzy so I used my normal "smoothing" shampoo and conditioner or it would have been out of control but if you have poker straight hair I wouldn't use conditioner on this style as it will just employ gravity to drop the curls immediately.

Hair sections - I couldn't do this with a straightener for ages and used to straighten it and then use a curler...I know backwards. However my mistake was the size of the section I was curling, what I thought was a small amount actually needed to be halved. I thought it would take forever to do smaller sections but I was curling the larger sections a few times so it works out quicker if you do it right the first time.

You will need

Wash your hair, towel dry and comb out any tangles with a wide comb.

7am no make up...delighted.

Apply some product through the hair that protect again heat and add volume - something like a volume cream/mousse is ideal. This is essential for volume, hold and texture.

Section your hair off below the ear - I did this in 5 layers for an idea of amount and I just used a bobble to hold the rest of my hair up in a twist....told you I'm not a real hairdresser.

Take a round barrel brush and dry sections of the hair by twisting the brush round and pulling down the hair...can be tricky but after a few sections you get used to it. It wont look pretty now but this will give loads of volume at the roots.

Keep taking down sections and drying them like that until its all bone dry. Have your straighteners hot and ready.

Next week HAGRID!

Then start again and using a comb section your hair off in a layer below the ear. Take a small section of the hair.

This is wrong.
 Its too much, it shouldn't be loads wider at the top

This is right. 
More like a ruler, even at both ends.

Place the starightner at the top of the section, close it as normal but then twist it around 180 degrees so the hair twists.

Then pull down the hair, the way I would describe it is like curling ribbon on a scissor edge. I also hold the end of the hair section taught until the straightener travels to my fingers. Then release.

You should have a smooth curl. I then with each curl twist it round my finger just to set it a bit more. If your hair is very straight naturally I would also hairspray as you go but I just spray each layer rather than each curl. 

Just keep going until the whole layer is curled. Then let down another layer, section, curl, repeat and keep going to the last layer.

When you get to the top and last layer decide where you want your parting. Personally I wear mine in the middle so I always do this even though this style is on the side. I prefer to curl it completely with a middle parting then when I comb it over on a side parting it has a bit more volume again. 

Part on the side, pull over and comb with your fingers at the top. If yours is a little frizzy or needs extra smoothing feel free to run the straighteners over the front bit. If your hair is long enough like mine sweep the rest over one shoulder and use a few pins at the nape to secure.


Nah right side.

For the true Sandra Bullock style use a bit of smoothing cream or serum to finish and make extra sleek, don't over do it though or it will be too greasy. Give a final spritz of hair spray. 

This is for my Granddad who says "You can smile with your teeth in photos you know!"

Thanks for watching, hope it all makes sense but feel free to contact me with questions.

If you really cant manage it and fancy a treat all the girls at Jem can hook you up for about £20 so get in touch here.

Ash xox  


Oscars and Consulate Dinner #glamorousnights

In case you didn't know I LOVE the Oscars! Every year I either stay up or set my alarm and get up to watch it. I hear the actual ceremony is quite boring but if ANYONE ever needs a date Im there! I love all the glamour, seeing what the stars are wearing and being a Movie addict (seriously I had so many points on my Odeon card the other day I could get 6 people in for free) I love to see the actual awards too. This year I was gunning for the Wolf of Wall Street as I absolutely loved it and went to see it twice. Now I know its not a "serious" film but I really hoped Leonardo DiCaprio would win the Best Actor gong....because he is. The man has deserved to win five times over but still no statue, in fact I think now his standard of acting is so high people just take it for granted....or the rumour that he got busy with the wife of someone on the board of the Oscars thus sealing his fate could be true as well. I had joked that "12yrs a Slave" would win for PC points as historically films that are more serious, true life, Arty, heart-breaking or generally uncomfortable to sit through always win over films people would actually pay twice to see at the cinema because they just cant wait for the DVD release.

Look at the Twilight Saga I cant tell you how many times I have watched those films on hung over Sundays but they have never even been nominated for an Academy Award and yet you couldn't pay me to see "The Artist"....call me a cretin I don't care. I'm  only throwing it out there how about giving Oscars to films people actually like? I had also laughed about the fact Mathew McConaughey would win purely for losing 4st...I've done that twice though babe and as Tina Fey epically joked at the Golden Globe awards "Or as women call - getting ready for a movie part". However on the night (well 5am from my bed) I couldn't take it away from him, he truly had earned it and was my second favourite...in fact I usually hope they all win as I cant bare to see the "perfectly disappointed faces". I have also post joking comment started watching -True Detective - and therefor well and truly caught up in the "McConaissance" myself so it is "Alright, Alright, Alright" with me that he won after all.

I thought Ellen was the best host ever, that selfie was pure genius and the fact that all the stars just piled in, no wonder its now had over 2 million retweets...I might even get it framed. I also thought everyone looked stunning, apart from a Bjork style "swan mess" I hate it when they tear the stars apart, well I should say womankind, it makes me sad to think how long they probably took to get ready and as of yet its hard get VPL with a Tux so men cant really go wrong. I did notice that everyone was looking super skinny though even one of my favs for being so normal, Jennifer Lawrence looked thinned out or maybe had 3 pairs of spanx on...seriously the pizza Ellen hilariously provided was a life or death situation for some. I cant decide just which body part I would have given to go to the Vanity Fair after party but well done to all the winners and  I didn't have to wait long for my own dose of a glamorous evening....

Its not a well known fact but my mother in addition to her normal job is the "Swedish Consulate" and actually "President Consulate" too. Last night was their Annual Dinner and although originally I wasn't going because she was too nervous about making a big speech to 250 people, 3 people dropped out at the last minute. So with 24hrs notice me, my brother and his girlfriend all stepped in. I didn't have time to get something new, get a spray tan or lose 10lbs you would think I was literally going to the Oscars myself. I decided to recycle one of my favourite Ralph Lauren Dress's, breathe in and took so hair inspiration from another of my favourites Sandra Bullock.

 Now don't worry if your not sure what I'm talking about with Consulates, it all had to be explained to me too when she took the position but if your not sure.

"Due to the high level of interaction between countries in our interconnected world of today, diplomatic offices are needed in each country to aid in and allow such interactions to occur

. The result of these diplomatic relationships are the embassies and consulates found in cities worldwide"

"Consulates (and their chief diplomat, the consul) handle diplomatic issues like issuing visas, aiding in trade relationships, and taking care of migrants, tourists, and expatriates."

So the dinner is all of the Consulates and Ambassadors of the European country's in the North East getting together, networking and improving business links to our area. Did you know that Swedish companys alone brought £2 million of revenue to our area last year. So this dinner is very important to the North East trade links and I was very proud of the mother bear who gave a marvellous speech. There were two other speakers who were also very good and had some amazing facts about our region, it was a fabulous night and I was also very proud to be a Geordie.

Ash xox  

Can you imagine....

Bless him.

Naughty but funny.

Hair icon.

Which one?! 

DKNY and Topshop.

Me and the brother. 

Mother bear.