Today, I was lucky enough to attend the Culture Cloud, Benefit Cosmetics brow make up demo, hosted by Lulu Guinness at their Covent Garden in central London. It was fun and informative session, where the audience learned how to properly apply brow makeup, and were introduced to the Benefits make-up range.
We are also given the opportunity to browse the new Lulu Guinness Spring/Summer Collection, here’s a highlight video –
For the event I wore my “Round Things” skirt, together with a striped top and a “Marcie” bag from Lulu Guinness. Unfortunately, the predicted 20 degree weather turned out to be a mini monsoon in reality. So as I write this, I’m loading up with hot cups of tea and any fruit which contains high levels of vitamin C. To think it’s June in a couple of weeks!
I fancied baking today, and spied a couple oranges in the fridge and a very tired looking coconut in the pantry which needed to be used quickly. However, I would recommend you use desiccated coconut instead, if you have a very sweet tooth, or wish to avoid hand grating a coconut.
Whole orange and fresh coconut cake
2 oranges, 1 to be used whole, 1 for decoration
200g butter, softened
3 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup vanilla caster sugar
1/2 cup freshly grated or desiccated coconut, plus extra for decoration
1 1/4 cups self raising flour
1/4 cup icing sugar, for decoration (optional)
Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4 (180°C/160°C fan assisted).
Grease and line with baking parchment a 22cm diameter round baking tin.
Wash the oranges and pat them dry with kitchen paper. Set aside one of the oranges. Roughly chop the other orange, and then using a food processor, puree the orange until smooth. Set aside.
In a food mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly add the beaten eggs, followed by the orange puree.
By hand fold in the coconut and flour to form a fairly loose batter.
Pour the batter into the cake tin, and level off the top to help even baking.
Place the tin on the middle shelf of the oven, and bake for 50 minutes. Check the cake is cooked with a skewer pushed into the centre. If it comes out clean then the cake is finished. If not, bake for a further 10 minutes and test again. You may need to cover the top of the cake with some foil to prevent burning.
Remove the cake from the oven and leave in the tin for 5 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
Zest long, thin strips from the 2nd orange. Juice the orange, ensuring any seeds are removed.
Sift the icing sugar into a small, clean dry bowl. Stir in just enough orange juice to make a smooth icing and then drizzle over the cake. Sprinkle the extra coconut and the orange zest on top. Allow to set and serve with a hot beverage, preferably a nice cup of tea!
Is Ed Sheeran’s dominance of the UK music charts a cause for celebration, or does it highlight the lack of diversity in the music industry?
Last week, much was said about Ed Sheeran’s remarkable feat of having no less than 9 singles in the top ten singles chart. News commentators made much of the phenomenon, and music industry experts celebrated the success of the British artist and his huge record sales.
Ed Sheeran is a great talent. He has achieved in his short career levels of success than can only be arguably beaten by the likes of Adele, Robbie Williams and Coldplay. A host of number 1 singles and albums, Brit Awards, Sheeran is a young man, dare I say, precocious talent with a very long career ahead of him. His reputation as a musician, singer songwriter of unique talent, particularly in an overly commercial world, is well deserved.
His dominance in the British Music Charts, in any other era, would rightly be a cause of celebration. However, the Music Charts today, in the time of instant downloads and streaming, have perhaps unintentionally shown one side of the industry’s personally, which if not checked, could signal its rapid demise.
In a world where civil liberties are more under threat than they have been in decades, 2017 has already seen children dying from starvation and families destroyed in war-torn countries. Many in these uncertain times turn to some form of escape, such as music, and therein lies the problem. In an industry which is still predominately run by white men, it appears that it’s true face is now being exposed by the one young, white male artist who has 90% of the top 10 singles in the chart.
Actually, it’s worse; Sheeran has no less than 16 singles in the top 20 chart. If it wasn’t for Chainsmokers and Coldplay, who are currently residing at number 7, Sheeran would have made a clean sweep of the top 10. The entire top 20 is dominated by White artists, with Katy Perry featuring Skip Marley, the sole female act featuring the sole Black artist, (who happens to be the grandson of Bob) at number 17. Chainsmokers, a 2 piece DJ outfit from the US, collaborating with Coldplay, a 4 piece British band. The entire top 10 therefore consists of 7 White male musicians – only 3 acts from just 2 countries. Hardly an endorsement of musical diversity.
While the talent of these artists is undeniable, I’m disappointed that there was little mention of the screamingly obvious lack of diversity. When there are so many musical acts, playing a huge range of genres in the UK alone, coupled with the current global political climate, it is more than worrying that there are so few different artists and music genres represented in UK music charts. It is even more worrying in Brexit Britain, that the captains of the music industry, still predominantly white males, are celebrating this, especially in the week of International Womens’ Day.
If after all these decades fighting for equality, today women are only represented in the music charts by Katy Perry, and people of colour are represented by a ‘featured’ artist, then we have a very, very long way still to go in terms of diversity in the music industry. I hope that 1 person dominating the charts in this way, is a fluke. I fear that this may signal the start of a more aggressive move towards exclusion, in the pursuit of profit and we will all be poorer if that continues.
Tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday, otherwise known as Pancake Day. This means that Winter is on it’s way out and Spring is around the corner. Shove Tuesday is one of those annual events which sneaks up on you suddenly, and then there is a huge panic to get those pancakes made. But this year, make sure your prepared and make these pancakes today and save yourself the hassle tomorrow.
Pancakes – recipe by Champagne Twist
2 extra large eggs
pinch of salt (optional)
200g plain flour
1 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for frying
In a large bowl or jug, add the eggs and salt if using and whisk for about 30 seconds. Add in the milk and stir until well combined. Fold in the flour until a batter, with the consistency of single cream, is formed. Then stir in the oil and set aside in the fridge for 30 mins to rest. Note; the salt adds flavour and helps to break down the eggs so that they are easier to whip. Personally, I tend to leave as much salt as I can out of recipes, especially if I know I may be using high salt or sugary fillings.
Add a tiny drizzle of oil to a crepe or frying pan and preheat over a medium temperature. Using a small ladle, when the oil begins to sizzle, carefully pour 1 ladleful of batter into the pan, swirling the batter around until it covers the inside base of the pan. Cook for about a 1 or so until golden brown, and then flip the pancake over to cook on the other side. Cook for a further minute.
When cooked, place the pancake on a plate and cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper. Continuing cooking the pancakes until all the batter has been used up.
After cooling you can place the pancakes with the greaseproof paper in-between each pancake into a freezer bag and freeze them for later use.
When you’re ready to use, simply take as any pancakes as you require and leave them to defrost overnight in the fridge.
Remember pancakes are not just for Shrove Tuesday. Pancakes are extremely versatile, and the range of sweet and savoury fillings are endless. These little beauties are ideal for creating last minute meals, or pudding treats when time is short.
Tomorrow I will post some suggestions for sweet fillings. Enjoy pancake preparation day!
Are you making pancakes for Shrove Tuesday? Please share in the comment section your favourite recipes and pancake fillings.
These are my top 5 YouTube Sites for 2016 (in no particular order) –
Kristabel Always interesting, and often thought provoking Kristabel’s YouTube channel has given me loads of inspiration during 2016 in the realms of travel, fashion and lifestyle.
Lorraine Pascale My favourite ever chef and one of the most multi talented and inspirational people ever, Pascale proves you can achieve your dreams and eat cake too!
At Home With Nikki If you love anything to do with home decor, you need to check out this youtube channel. Nikki plus Homes and Gardens to shame.
TED-Ed another highly inspiration and educational resource, Ted-Ed has 100s of videos covering a wide range of subjects – there is something for everyone.
The Resistance with Keith Olbermann – Keith Olbermann is a riot! If like me you were disappointed with the results of the recent US election, check out Olbermann’s posts. If nothing else he will give you hope for 2017.
Continuing with my monthly resolutions series, here is a preview of what’s coming up this February on Champagne Twist.
February has been designated design month. It’s going to be an exciting mix of fashion, crafts and home decor design. What do you hope to achieve this month? Do let us know in the comments box, and please subscribe for more information.
Check out the my 2017 resolution plans video below.
During a recent visit to Borough Market I came across a stack of Bergamot lemons. I knew that these lemons are a key ingredient in Earl and Lady Grey teas, but I had never seen them in the flesh, as it were. So I thought I buy a couple to see what all the fuss was about. I left with my purse £3 lighter, thinking that these lemons had better be the bee’s knees at that price.
Bergamot Lemon and Poppy Seed Loaf
225g butter or Stork margarine, softened
225g vanilla golden caster sugar
3 extra large free range eggs
225g self raising flour
2 tbsp milk or milk alternative
zest and juice of one bergamot lemon
2 tsps poppy seeds
Preheat the oven to 180c, 160c Fan or Gas mark 4
Butter and line a large loaf tin with baking paper or parchment.
In a food processor or mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until the mixture if light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one by one. I tend to beat the eggs separately before add to the butter sugar mix as this ensures that the egg white and yolk are fully combined.
Add the milk, seeds, zest and juice and stir until well incorporated.
Sift in the flour and fold into the batter.
Pour the batter into the loaf tin, making sure that it even.
Place the tin on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for about 40 – 50 mins. Check the loaf at 40 mins with a skewer, if it comes out clean the loaf is done. If not, then bake for another 5-10 mins.
Allow to cool in the loaf tin for 1o minutes, then turn the loaf out onto a rack to continue cooling. Serve with a cup of tea.