Saturday, 23 August 2008

Fabulous Fridays: Surfers are hot.

I'm an impressionable sort, and often when I'm in Boots or wherever, I'll get hypnotised by a product that promises me the world. John Frieda Beach Blonde Ocean Waves Spray did just that. 'Get tousled, surf-chick hair!' it exclaimed. 'Ooooh,' I said. 'Twist hair into ropes and it will try in surfy ringlets!' it promised. 'Oooooh,' I said. By the time I read about the summery coconut fragrance I was clutching it madly and checking how many advantage card points I had left.

The thing with Ocean Waves is that it cost £5, and I was at university. Spending £5 on a hair product that was probably designed more for girls with fine, straight hair was a massive extravagance. But I did, and I was hooked.

I discovered Ocean Waves before I found Sunsilk, so this was back when the only curl-enhancing product I used was VO5's Curl Boost Spray. For crunchy curls you can snap in two.

Ocean Waves was legendary. My hair dried in soft, neat curls, without a hint of crunchyness or stickiness. And it smelt amaaaazing. And it came in this blue, two-toned bottle, which looked like the sea. The main ingredient was saltwater, so it really did recreate how great your hair always looks on holiday. Even MY hair looks good on holiday.

But because I saw it as so expensive, I used it sparingly, and would only buy it when I was occasionally flush, or had saved up my advantage card points to the value of £5. And then suddenly it wasn't there anymore, and I had a dribble in the bottom of my last bottle. So I looked, and looked. And googled. And there was that word again... 'discontinued'.

Surf sprays are trendy again this year and I can't help but hope that John Frieda will see a gap in the market and relaunch Ocean Waves.

AND THEN... while googling for the picture for this post, I stumbled across many a website bemoaning the loss of Ocean Waves, and found that John Frieda had released an alternative, Brilliant Brunette Starlit Waves, in 2006, which from reports was JUST as awesome. Which was then recalled after about a year, with a promise that a new, improved version was on the way. Which has never surfaced.

So there IS hope. I've emailed John Frieda to find out what the current status is. Knowing my luck with awesome products being discontinued, though, it'll probably turn out that v2 has been discontinued permanently too, and I'll have to kick myself forever that I could have replaced My Favourite Lost Product Ever (with a version more catered towards my hair colour!) and didn't know, so it came and went. Wah.

Still! Possible alternatives:

Garnier Surf Spray
I tried this on wet hair, without Sunsilk, and it made hardly any difference. It did not look good. I tried it on wet hair after Sunsilk, and my hair dried nicely. But then, Sunsilk generally makes my hair dry nicely, so I am not sure how much Garnier actually did. Smells nice, though, and it's cheap.

Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray
...is £12, which is kind of expensive for something that may not work. Comes very highly recommended online though, and I'm beginning to suspect that this is the natural predecessor to Ocean Waves.
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Thursday, 14 August 2008

In which I am a cake making supremo.

This weekend was my niece's 5th birthday, and a momentous occasion it was. Seeing as my niece is super cute and funny and adorable, it was basically like a national holiday in our family. I even didn't mind that much that my sister let her phone me at half past 8 in the morning, knowing full well that I hadn't got to bed until nearly 4am.

The best thing about having a small female child to buy gifts for is that suddenly you have an excuse to buy all the toys you really wanted when you were little, and it becomes way less about your niece and more about 'Well, I want to play with that.' The other thing is that you sometimes get to indulge your culinary prowess and make exotic birthday cakes.

Ever since last year when my sister announced that my niece - who I will henceforth call ER, as that is the (very) short version of her name - wanted a pink fairy castle cake, and I said 'I could probably work out how to do that...' I've been the designated cake maker for ER's birthdays. Well, last year's and this year's, anyway. It's kind of nice, because you get to be super creative with it, and you also get to try stuff out that you probably wouldn't have got a chance to (although I do still want to create the Land Of Chocolate cake for one of my birthdays. Maybe next year. I'm thinking about making 27 a big old shindig, as 26 kind of passed with a whimper. And even though it's a whole year away - seriously, my birthday was like two weeks ago - I'm now contemplating doing party bags, because I kind of think it would be amazing.) AND you also get to indulge your inner child by making the cake you probably wanted when you were 5. Or 8. Or 20. Or 26. And so on.

This year, ER said she wanted a cake with five fairies on, and I started thinking about how to do it. Drawing fairies on with icing would be hard and they would look sloppy, so I thought about making little 3D fairies out of card. But they would have been very basic and... kind of sloppy, again. So! I present to you a picture story about how I did ER's cake what I did.

I drew some fairies with the aid of paper, a pencil and a little bit of help from my Flower Fairies book (it's for artistic research, shut up!).

Then I scanned them and printed them out so they were all the same size and slightly smaller. Then I flipped the image and printed them out again. Then I got out my trusty watercolour pencils and coloured them all in. The drawing and colouring of the fairies took around two full evenings.

I also made wings, which took two long evenings in itself. But I forgot to photograph them, so more on them later.

The day before the party, I went out and spent around £10 on sweets. It doesn't look like much in the picture, but it was - the paper bag was full of about £3 worth of pick 'n' mix.

I spend about three hours cutting out the fairies with a stanley knife and fixing them to wings and kebab sticks. The wings, as you can see here, were all coloured by me, and have been cut out to match each other (which took ages). Each fairy has four wings - because the silver middle bit is actually sandwiched between two pieces of card. This seemed like a good idea at the time, but took bloody ages.

Here is all of the fairies together! They're double sided which ended up not being that necessary as most people only saw the front of the cake. Next time, that's worth remembering.

I make the cake! Which is frankly huge. The reason these pics are so dark is because it was like 10.30pm.


The next morning, I make a vast quantity of icing, and permanently dye my fingers blue from combining blue and yellow food dye to get the right shade of green. The icing takes over an hour, and I was really running out of time which is why this is basically just a bowl of icing sugar because I got too stressed after that point to take more pictures.
Then I get to decorate! Which is the fun part. It's hard to see from this angle, but the fairies are running over the cake to get to the little pool of sweeties.

Which is meant to be a well, as you can see better from this picture.

Slightly closer angle. I love the little clusters of pink rocks, which are actually Millions. Delicious chewy sweets made of mysterious chemicals. And the mushrooms! Which are those mushroom sweeties, but there was too much pink so we dipped them in red food colouring.


Final photo, at the party. Check out the mini balloons! Water balloons, in fact, which took a surprisingly long time to knot together after they were blown up. But they were what most people commented on.

And from above.

Next year, though, I am very tempted to get her a cake from the supermarket. Or maybe offer to make her a surprise cake and just do a cut-out of a number 6 and cover the whole thing with sweets.

Like cakes? Who doesn't! Check out Cake Wrecks.
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Friday, 8 August 2008

Fabulous Fridays: Fizzy raspberries, bitch.

When I was 13 or 14, everyone started wearing perfume. And there were a handful of brands that everyone seemed to wear. CKOne, Noa, Angel, Ralph and this little multicoloured trio.

Way back when, Les Belles de Ricci brought out three perfumes. Liberty Fizz, Almond Armour and Spicy Delight. I must admit that I've never tried two of the three, but Liberty Fizz - the green and pink one - was, and still is, my Favourite Perfume Ever.

I don't know much about scents so, as much as I'd like to talk about the woody accents or jasmine extracts, I'd be talking utter rubbish, so let's not go there. Liberty Fizz smells like fizzy raspberries. It is a sweet scent, yet with a very fresh, green scent beneath it. The first spritz reminds me of Impulse o2, the greenest, fizziest body spray known to (wo)man, a smell which will forever remind me of teenage holidays in the sunshine. Then as it sinks in, the sweetness lingers - a gentle pinkness, like... well, I summed it up best up there. Fizzy raspberries. You know when you've just finished a jug of Pimms and you're fishing out all the fruit, and because it's been immersed in lemonade all day it's absorbed the fizziness somehow? This is the smell of that sensation.

It's quite a subtle smell - it doesn't linger like some perfumes. Which I sort of like - you know you're not going to be that person wafting their way through the office, making people choke as they pass. I also sort of don't like it, because it means you need to reapply come lunchtime. But you probably should anyway.

Liberty Fizz is the perfect perfume. Fresh yet sweet, sweet yet not cloying, young yet mature... perfect. And it comes in a pretty bottle.

I have at least three bottles stored away, because the only places you can buy it now are obscure independently owned perfume shops (I know of one in Hemel Hempstead, and one in York) and Ebay. It comes highly recommended, but don't get too attached... you never know when it'll be gone. But I believe it was discontinued 4 or 5 years ago, but it still kicks around - if you want it badly enough, you'll find it.

PS: If you are a perfume expert and know of a scent that smells similar to Liberty Fizz, please let me know. I know eventually I'll have to face up to the reality that it's gone, gone forever. Like everything awesome.
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Saturday, 2 August 2008

Unfabulous Fridays: Damn you, Longoria!

Sigh.

As you know, I am really rather precious about my hair. I spend a lot of time and money making it not look like the fuzzy hairball it naturally is. And, having found my first grey hair at the tender age of 19, applying hairdye every couple of months is part of the process. But it's cool - I've been dying my hair since my mid-teens when I wanted to look like Claire Danes in My So Called Life, and I'm pretty expert at doing it without completely wrecking the bathroom.

(When I was around 15, I was dying my hair red and dripped some dye onto the wooden toilet seat. It sunk in immediately and was there for about five years. Lesson learned.)

Also, throughout all the applications of hairdye I've learnt that red hair only looks good for about two days after you've washed it and then it goes orange and super dark hair makes me look like a goth. An unhealthy goth. And then I found that Medium Golden Brown is basically the perfect colour for me, as it is close enough to my natural colour that when it grows out you can't tell it's been dyed, but gives it a pretty auburn/chestnut hue that makes me look less like a sweet little dead girl.

Tonight, I tried out the newest L'Oreal - Excellence or something - in Medium Golden Brown. Eva Longoria's been advertising it all over town and flashing her glossy hair and teeth and going on about how you only need to leave it on for ten minutes and then you'll look beautiful and shiny. Right.

I left it on for maybe 3 minutes longer than it said... and it's black. Or as close to black as it can get. I look ill. And I am not happy. I may be washing my hair several times over the rest of the weekend.

I should have been suspicious from the start of a hair colour that only wanted to be left on for ten minutes - it obviously had a hell of a lot of pigment in it. It is not a good look.

I hope all your hair falls out, Longoria!
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