Thursday, 31 July 2014

Farfalle Carbonara with Pancetta | Recipe

I made this dish for dinner for my parents and younger siblings last night. They loved it and it's so simple and quick to make so I thought I'd share it with you guys.

Serves 4

What you will need:
455g farfalle pasta
12 rashers pancetta or smoked streaky bacon, roughly sliced
100ml double cream
1 egg
Sea salt and ground black pepper
3 handfuls frozen peas
2 handfuls grated Parmesan cheese
2 sprigs mint, finely sliced

What to do:

1. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet.

2. While the pasta is cooking, whisk the egg and double cream with a pinch of salt and dash of pepper. Once it is whisked, set it aside.

3. Heat some oil in a separate pan. When it has heated, add the sliced pancetta or bacon. Cook it until it is golden and crispy.

4. About a minute and a half before the pasta has finished cooking, add the peas to it. Mix them through and leave them for the remaining minute and a half.

5. Drain the pot containing the pasta and peas using a colander, keeping a little amount of the cooking water in a cup.

6. Add the pancetta and the egg and cream mixture to the pasta and stir it through. The heat of the pasta will cook the eggs in the mixture, but not to the point where they are scrambled so it will remain a sauce.

7. Add the finely sliced mint and mix it through the pasta.

8. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top and (once again) mix it through.

9. Serve and enjoy!

- Velvet Lilies x

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Monday, 28 July 2014

Fun in the Sun

The sun has finally decided to make an appearance where I live and the past few days have been glorious! It's been sunny and warm, with barely a cloud in the sky. When the sun comes out I, like a lot of other, aim to take full advantage of it and try to spend the whole day outside (with plenty of suncream and water, of course!).

I live in the country and am fortunate enough to have quite a big garden, full of lots of different flowers and plants (which I have to rather ashamedly admit, is thanks to my dad more than me!). I thought I would show you guys some of my favourite flowers, plants and views in my garden taken on a lovely sunny day.

I hope the sun has been shining where you are! :)
 - Velvet Lilies x

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Thursday, 24 July 2014

Simple Products | Reviews

Simple is a skincare brand which specialises in the care of sensitive skin. Their products contain only pure, skin-loving ingredients, and so don't irritate your skin.

I was in Boots last week and saw that they were selling selected Simple products at 3 for the price of 2. I had used two Simple products before - the eye-makeup remover and the rapid action spot zapper. I had really liked them so I decided to avail of the offer and picked up 6 products to try:

Simple Moisturising Facial Wash
Simple Pore Minimising Toning Cleanser
Simple Protecting Moisture Cream
Simple Deep Cleansing Face Mask
Simple Oil Balancing Exfoliating Wash
Simple Vital Vitamin Night Cream

Simple Moisturising Facial Wash

What it claims: Our moisturising facial wash is a perfect blend of multi-vitamins and a skin-loving ingredient to make your skin thoroughly cleansed and moisturised. Foaming and 100% soap free. Perfect even for sensitive skin.

What I think: After using this, my skin always does feel thoroughly cleansed and moisturised. It has the perfect balance between not leaving the skin too oily and totally drying it out. I use this every morning now and it always makes my skin (and me!) feel really awake. I also do agree that it is perfect for sensitive skin. I, personally, have very sensitive skin but this facial wash does not irritate it at all. 
I would give this product 5/5.

Simple Oil Balancing Exfoliating Wash

What it claims: Our Oil Balancing Exfoliating Wash is a perfect blend of active ingredients and witch hazel goodness to deeply clean and refresh your skin. Perfect even for sensitive skin.

What I think: I love this exfoliator because it's so gentle! It leaves my skin feeling so clean and clear. The fact that it is 'oil balancing' is great for people who have oily skin. It takes away the excess oils but doesn't make the skin feel totally stripped of all the oils - it leaves all of the necessary natural oils, so you have the perfect balance. Again, it's also great for people with sensitive skin because of how gentle it is.
I would give this product 5/5.

Simple Vital Vitamin Night Cream


What it claims: Our Vital Vitamin Night Cream is a perfect blend of multi-vitamins and skin-loving ingredients to restore and replenish your skin throughout the night. Perfect even for sensitive skin.

What I think: Straight after applying this, my skin normally feels quite oily and dull but a few minutes later the feeling begins to go away as my skin absorbs the cream. Normally, when I wake up the day and my skin feels smooth and moisturised, but once or twice after waking up my skin has felt a bit dull and tired - it's probably just how my skin absorbs each night and how it varies. Again, this product is great for sensitive skin and doesn't irritate at all.
I would give this product 3/5.

Simple Pore Minimising Toning Cleanser

What it claims: Our Pore Minimising Toning Cleanser is a perfect blend of multi-vitamins, skin-loving ingredients and gentle cleansers to help reduce the size of pores. Leaves your skin feeling refreshed and clarified. Perfect even for sensitive skin.

What I think: When I first applied this (before rubbing it in) I didn't really like the gel texture of it on my face. However, after rubbing it in, it felt more like a liquid, which is good for me. I find it very quick to dry on my face, which I love. It does the job of cleansing and clarifying my skin, however I haven't actually noticed a change in the size of my pores. The areas where my pores would be biggest are my forehead and my cheeks, just around my nose. I was hoping this product would make them smaller, but I haven't seen that happening. This Toning Cleanser is great for people with sensitive skin, as the gel consistency makes it very gentle.
I would give this product 3/5.

Simple Deep Cleansing Face Mask

What it claims: Our Deep Cleansing Face Mask is a perfect blend of multi-vitamins and skin-loving ingredients to draw out deep down dirt and elimate dead cells. Perfect for even sensitive skin.

What I think: This face mask leaves my skin feeling smooth and cleansed. It's perfect for sensitive skin because it cleanses gently - it doesn't actually dry so you wash it off while it's in a creamy state. I like this because it means you're not scrubbing at your face to get it off. I also like that you only have to leave it on for 3 minutes, so it takes almost no time at all.
I would give this product 4/5.

Simple Protecting Moisture Cream

What it claims: Our Protecting Moisture Cream SPF30 is a perfect blend of multi-vitamins and skin-loving ingredients with SPF protection to give dehydrated, tired and dull skin a boost of hydration while protecting it from UVA and UVB rays. The light texture absorbs quickly into your skin to rapidly replenish moisture levels for up to 24 hours. Perfect even for sensitive skin.

What I think: I think this is the best moisturiser I've ever used! I find that some moisturisers can leave my face feeling dull, heavy with product and really oily. This one doesn't at all! It leaves my skin feeling so soft and moisturised. The fact that it has SPF30 s amazing, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors.
I would give this product 5/5.

Do you guys use any of these products? Are there any products you'd like me to review or recommend to me? Make sure to let me know!

- Velvet Lilies x

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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

My Trip to Berlin

On Saturday 28th June at 7am, my tired but very excited family of six boarded a plane in Dublin headed for Berlin. We hadn't slept the night before, as we had to be in the airport for 5am and it took 3 hours to get to the airport, meaning we had to leave the house at 2am! I thought I would have been too excited to sleep on the plane, but my body didn't agree, seemingly. We arrived around 10:15am German time and got the train to the centre of Berlin, where the apartment we were renting was situated. After unpacking, getting a bite to eat and lying down for an hour or two, we decided to start exploring.

The first thing we saw, which was just down the road from the apartment, was Checkpoint Charlie, which was the crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War. We then went to see the famous Brandenburger Tor, or 'Brandenburg Gate' as it is known in English. I thought it was magnificent! It was very popular and there were tourists everywhere! I was glad I got to finally see it as I had heard so much about it from my parents, who had seen it on their honeymoon. We then went to the Fernsehturm, or Berlin TV Tower in English, which is absolutely GINORMOUS! We got the lift up to the sphere in the middle where there was a brilliant panoramic view of the whole of Berlin. It was breath-taking to see everything from so high up and to see the beauty of the whole city.

Brandenburg Gate
Berlin TV Tower
View of part of Berlin 203m (666 ft) above ground level

The next day we went to the aquarium, which contained not only fish but also reptiles and insects. I loved seeing all the different species and I even found Dory. No need to release Finding Dory in a few years, Disney, because she's at the aquarium in Berlin! The only thing I didn't like about it was the number of tarantulas because I hate spiders! We then went to Dunkin' Donuts for a bite to eat. It was my first time at Dunkin' Donuts and I was surprised to see the variety of doughnuts you can choose from! The doughnut I chose (white with multicoloured sprinkles) was definitely the best doughnut I've ever had.
My favourite fish from the aquarium called a 'yellow tang'

On Monday, we took the train to Potsdam, a small city at the edge of Berlin. As there was so much to see, we decided to take the City Sightseeing Bus around it. We saw the magnificent buildings and palaces and heard all about the interesting history of the town from the audio tour guide. We got off at the Sanssouci Palace and explored around Potsdam for a few hours.
Orangery Palace
Potsdam's Brandenburg Gate
With all that walking, we just had to stop for a Starbucks!

The next day, we went to Berlin Zoo, which contains over 1,500 different species of animal. We spent nearly the whole day walking around the zoo and looking at the different animals. There were so many! My favourite animals were the penguins and the dwarf mongooses. I'd never heard of a dwarfed mongoose before that day but when I saw them I instantly loved them. They are so small and cute and run everywhere! They're adorable! Another animal I loved was the polar bear. In fact, there was even one that looked like it was dancing, which was so funny!
A little Arctic wolf cub - how cute!
This penguin looks like he's just chilling out, loving life

On our last full day in Berlin, we visited the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum, which I found an incredibly moving experience. Sachsenhausen was a concentration camp used primarily for political prisoners from 1936 until 1945. It has now been established as a national memorial, of which you can take a tour and find out about the history of it. We paid for audio guides which brought us around the whole site, telling us the background story and what exactly happened during 1936 to 1945. Some parts of the tour I found quite emotional, because, although I'd learned about the war and concentration camps in history at school, actually being in one made it all seem so real.
The main entrance

The Obelisk Memorial

After another early start (thankfully not as early as our flight to Berlin!), we returned home safe and sound. I learnt so much from my short stay in Berlin, and saw so many interesting things. I hope one day I can go back and see and learn even more!

-Velvet Lilies x

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