ABQ London- Breaking Bad Bar Experience

Hello,

If you’re a TV show fan like myself then you would have definitely seen or if not, heard of the television king that is Breaking Bad. A show all about a chemistry professor on his mission to pay for his own cancer treatment through the production and distribution of crystal meth, which leads to some… interesting scenarios.

I watched the show about 3 years ago and was completely blown away with the quality of the production, script writing and the performances by the actors on the show. Who doesn’t love Bryan Cranston?

As me and my best friend, Ellen, are both huge fans of the show we decided that whilst we were in London for a short break, we’d visit the Breaking Bad bar which we’d seen a friend post photos of a few years ago.

The bar is located in Cambridge Heath, close to the Cambridge Heath overground. Although we found it easier to just hop on the tube, get off at Bethnal Green and do the 10-15 minute walk to the bar. Make sure you leave plenty of time to get to the bar, we ended up having to run in 21 degree heat to make our time slot!

Once we arrived, we found the infamous RV, which was already blasting music and were greeted by energetic staff who were hyping the energy up. After we clambered inside our yellow jumpsuits and felt like true cooks, we stepped inside the RV to be greeted by insane decor. A array of little tables with metal drums to sit on, a massive Heisenberg wall feature, mood lighting and scientific apparatus. Fitting in about 25 people into one RV, they made fantastic use of the space they had.

On arrival, we were met by Z and Becks who, along with the rest of the staff were always in character and helped us feel at ease and made sure we were making our drinks correctly.

We were given two Mojito’s with an extra twist as a welcome drink as the drink list and mixing were explained. We then got a choice of what drink we wanted to make for ourselves first. Being prosecco lovers, the Wendy Martini was a certain pick for us.

With the Wendy Martini, we first had to infuse the alcohol through funnels and beakers. Possibly the most fun/tastiest part of the whole night was then creating white chocolate bubbles by blowing into a beaker filled with a concoction of food science goodness. After, we served up the drinks and maybe overdid it with the amount of bubbles we scooped on!

By this point we were already pretty tipsy (hence the bad photography, I’m sorry im incapable of using my camera at the best of times and a few drinks don’t help).

Our second choice of drink experiment was ‘Blow’. We asked which drink was the strongest and that’s how we came to pick this particular mix. When the ingredients arrived, Ellen and I gave each other a suspicious look…we were definitely in a Breaking Bad bar. But don’t worry it’s just sugar and all part of the fun.

Once we’d finished our drinks, we took a few pictures, had a quick chat to the staff and the lovely couple we were sat opposite too before taking off our jumpsuits and heading off into the night (onto another bar…and then another…and then my head was down the toilet bowl).

We had an absolutely fantastic time at ABQ London and I’d highly, HIGHLY recommend the experience, especially if you’re a fan of the show! Great atmosphere, lovely staff and a whole lot of fun making the drinks. It’s definitely amazing value for money!

You can find the link to their site and more information here.

Thanks for reading,

Chanel

x

 

 

 

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Arctic Monkeys: ‘Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino’ Album Review

Happy Friday!

It’s here, finally after what seems like a century of waiting, the Arctic Monkeys have released their 6th studio album, ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’.

I’m a big fan of the Arctic Monkeys, especially like most of us, the AM album released in 2013. I really can’t find any faults with that album, it definitely is musical perfection, sonically and lyrically and it’s one of my favourites of all time. I’m also a fan of their earlier stuff too, when the band were more interested in the goings on of South Yorkshire and the booming indie-rock scene.

I was headache-inducing excited for the release of this album and discussed every song with a good friend who is also a Monkeys fan. We’d bought tickets to the tour so had high hopes for what we were about to listen to.

Quick disclaimer as usual, I am no music expert nor do I know anything about the technicality of it. I am simply a music listener and lover and all of what you’re about to read is completely my own personal opinion.

The album presents 11-tracks with a collective time of 40 minutes, which is standard for an Arctic Monkeys album as they’ve all been a very similar length.

THE REVIEW:

Track One – ‘Star Treatment’:

My instant thoughts within the space of the first thirty seconds of the song was that it was insanely Bowie-influenced, very ‘Space Oddity’, which is definitely not a bad thing and brings a whole new sound for the band. Of course, Alex Turner delivers on the lyrical front as always and his falsetto sounds great. I’ve definitely missed his voice over the last few years they’ve been MIA.

Track Two – ‘One Point Perspective’

This is going to make people mad, but when I first heard the piano at the start I thought it was ‘Hard Knock Life’ from the Annie soundtrack…

Getting past that, the piano continues across the track and mingles with smooth guitar to create an almost old sort of arcade type sound. I also caught the lyric, ‘they come out of the cracks, thirsty for blood’ which makes me think of the reference to vampires in the band’s first album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not with the track, ‘Perhaps Vampires Is a Bit Strong But’. It could be a nod to their first record or I could just be reading into it more than I should.

I especially liked the guitar solo on this track, we don’t get that much from the guitar on this record but it was very welcome in One Point Perspective.

Track Three – ‘American Sports’

Firstly, if you haven’t listened to the album chronologically then I highly recommend you do so. The transitions between the tracks are seamless.

Continuing the space theme, which Turner said was ‘sci-fi’ inspired in his BBC Radio 1 interview, American Sports carries on with the 70’s sounding piano effects. However, without the lack of heavy electric guitar and booming drums it makes me question whether die-hard Arctic Monkeys fans will enjoy or appreciate this new sound or whether it’s maybe just a bit too different.

Track Four- ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’

By the fourth and title track, I was expecting a high energy, jump around typical Monkeys song but instead they’re firmly sticking to the smooth, synthy sound. I feel like this track could fit easily into a slick-crime movie soundtrack. Alex’s falsetto sounds perfect once again, he’s got such a lovely tone to his voice that fits in with the tranquil vibe of the album.

Although, if I’m being completely honest, for a title track this song disappointed me.

Track Five – ‘Golden Trunks’

Upon the first few notes of the song I was once again hoping for an upbeat song, which by this point my expectations of getting any form of the ‘Arctic Monkey indie rock’ they’re so well known for was quickly dying.

Golden Trunks to me is quite an eerie track with the use of the synth. It’s almost Pink Floyd  ‘Dark Side of The Moon’ influenced. I enjoyed the backing vocals on this track they complemented the music nicely.

Track Six – ‘Four Out of Five’

On first listen of the album, this track was my favourite. I feel like this is the track where Alex’s vocals are the most clear and you can appreciate his lyrics the most. Once again, this album to me is extremely 70’s inspired. From the musical style to the references within the song, for example I caught that Alex mentioned ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’ which was a music based TV show popular in the 1970s.

I like the play on the ‘four stars out of five’ with the album surrounding a hotel theme. This track to me, if you removed the synth and pushed the bass more is the most similar to the style of music on AM.

Track Seven – ‘The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip’

…is it even an Arctic Monkeys album if there’s not at least one song with a long title?

When Alex said he was inspired by the piano for this album, it’s blatantly obvious. Actually, this song isn’t awful, it has it’s redeeming points, the lyrics are great (as per) and the vocals from both Turner and the other band mates sound lovely but it’s just…similar to Golden Trunks to me. I had more hope for a song with a title as fun as this one.

Track Eight – ‘Science Fiction’

Upon first listen of the album, I didn’t really care much at all for Science Fiction but on a second listen it’s actually a lot more interesting than I initially thought.

This track has a handful of musical influences from different genres. Straight away I pick up on 70s funk and soul with the use of the bass guitar which is accompanied with synth as the song progresses which reminds me a lot of the Ska/Reggae genre (think Ghost Town by The Specials). I think this is a track I’ll find myself listening to quite a lot.

Track Nine – ‘She Looks Like Fun’ 

This song is also interesting, the way the vocals slip from higher notes to a deeper spoken voice during the chorus gives it a darker flair. The best part of this track once again for me is the lyrics. Otherwise, this song is probably a skip for me.

Track Ten – ‘Batphone’

I absolutely adore the lyrics on this track, god bless Alex Turner. This track is one of my favourites on the album, sonically it flows beautifully and breaks into a short guitar solo. If this song was on an earlier album, I think it would have definitely been a stand out track. It makes me a little sad that because the album is all quite similar sounding, this track might get lost in the comparison the rest of the record.

Track Eleven – ‘The Ultracheese’

The final track, ‘The Ultracheese’, is the gem of this record. The slow, melodic track has no synth which has pretty much wrapped its fingers around the rest of the songs on the album and it’s great to just hear Alex singing beautiful lyrics, honestly and with emotion. I can imagine this track will be a favourite for a lot of people who maybe aren’t completely sold on the rest of the space themed album.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

After waiting with baited breath for five years for Arctic Monkeys to release new material, I’m a tad disappointed by Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.

I completely understand that bands evolve and try out new genres, especially Arctic Monkeys but with this album I feel like they’ve lost the indie-rock influences they’re so insanely popular for. Don’t get me wrong some of the tracks on the album are beautiful and Alex’s vocals and lyrics are top notch as always. I just feel like the songs could be more varied in their sound as I think they’re all pretty similar.

I worry that the fans won’t be too impressed with the album so I’ll be interested to see the feedback on Twitter from those that have listened to the record and bought tickets to the shows.

Thanks for reading,

Chanel

x

 

 

 

 

 

Anne-Marie: ‘Speak Your Mind’ Debut Album Review

Hello Friday!

It may only be a few hours into Friday but the new Anne-Marie album is out and so the weekend starts right now!

Once again, a disclaimer before I begin. I am no music expert nor do I know anything about the technicality of it. I am simply a music listener and lover and all of what you’re about to read is completely my own personal opinion.

Anne-Marie, British singer/songwriter first began gaining popularity in 2016 with the release of her single, ‘Alarm’, which received huge radioplay across the country only spurred on more by her collaboration with Clean Bandit and Sean Paul on ‘Rockabye’.  After the success of her first single, Anne-Marie continued to release ‘Ciao Adios’, ‘Heavy’ and most recently ‘2002’. ‘FRIENDS’ collaboration with Marshmallow also gained the singer her first top 5 hit featuring as main vocals.

With her raging success over the past year and a half, Anne-Marie’s debut album ‘Speak Your Mind’ has been highly anticipated until its final release date on 27th April 2018!

The standard album features 11 racks and the deluxe album has 17 tracks, taking the album to one hour long:

THE REVIEW:

Track One – ‘Cry’:

The first thing that struck me with this track is the interesting choice of instruments heard straight from the second the song starts. I can only describe it as a sort of ‘carousel’ fairground sound and when I’d seen that Jennifer Decilveo had produced and co-written the track, who also worked on ‘Cry Baby’ with Melanie Martinez then I instantly understood the carousel feels I was picking up. I really think this is a great track to open up the album with. It’s perfect pop and Anne-Marie already shows her vocal flexs.

Track Two – ‘Ciao Adios’

I won’t talk too much about the tracks which have already been released as singles but Ciao Adios has been my favourite so far from Anne-Marie. I think I speak for most of the British public when I say I’ve sang along aggressively with ‘Ciao Adios, I’m done!’ eventhough directed at nobody!

Track Three – ‘Alarm’

Anne-Marie’s first single which I remember hearing and loving the electric, almost static sound to the verses. I think Anne-Marie sounds great in this song and it’s no surprise it was such a hit for her. A Banger!

Track Four – ‘Trigger’

The first thing I wrote down in my notepad about this track was ‘Tropicano’. I can definitely hear the tropical influence on this song from the get go. The build up to the drop is so pleasant amongst the mellow house influence and there’s a good chance this could be a future single, especially for summer. This song in particular reminded me alot of the kind of sound Camila Cabello has gone for since leaving Fifth Harmony and it’s more than working for her!

Track Five – ‘Then’

Ok, on first impressions this track is my favourite on the entire album. Anne-Marie shows a softer vocal yet still keeps a tropical vibe. The lyrics are a bit on the sad side but it’s not a complete ballad eventhough it easily could have been. I feel like this song is super easy to listen to and the slight slow down of tempo is needed after the first five tracks. This track to me is the highlight of the album.

Track Six – ‘Perfect’

If this track isn’t the fan favourite, I’ll eat my own shoes!

The message on this song is the defining factor of the track. The track is not musically outstanding but as it is lyrically strong, I can image the fans screaming the words back to Anne-Marie at her live shows. Especially the nod to LGBTQ+ with the lyric ‘I’ll love who I want to love, ’cause this love is gender free’. This song is probably close to Anne-Marie’s heart and so it should be. A great song with an even better message!

Track Seven – ‘FRIENDS’ ft. Marshmellow

Another single from the album and her most popular in the charts so far. This track fits Anne-Marie’s vocals to a T and I’m not shocked at all it’s done so well and will probably continue to do so. Catchy and dancy.

Track Eight – ‘Bad Girlfriend’

Don’t laugh….but when I first heard this song the only thing I could think of was The Sugar Plum Fairy. I’m not sure if it’s intentional or not but if it is then it’s absolutely genius juxtaposition of the lyrics and the sweetness of the beat. I think the broken vocals on the chorus are an interesting choice which I maybe wouldn’t have chosen for this particular song but I’m not a music producer so I can’t really comment. To be totally honest, when I saw that Nick Monson had worked on this track I thought I’d be obsessed because I’m a huge fan of his work with Gaga, but this time I’m not totally sold.

Track Nine – ‘Heavy’

Anne-Marie’s 3rd single from the album I believe (If I’m wrong please correct me). Although still using a tropicano beat which is extremely popular right now, Anne-Marie uses softer vocals and I the distinctive tones to her voice.

Track Ten – ‘2002’

The most recent single release from the album, 2002 is another easy listen to pop song which Anne-Marie is flawless at producing. Before I’d even gotten halfway through this track I could tell Ed Sheeran had written on it, it’s very Sheeran-esque. That man is a gold mine for pop smash hits. Can’t be forgetting Julia Michaels who also co-wrote the song and I think you can hear her backing vocals along with Sheeran in the chorus.

Track Eleven – ‘Can I Get You Number?’

The Reggae influence on this track hits you straight in the face as soon as the beat starts and it certifies the album as a summer must have! This song honestly makes me feel like I’m in Hawaii dancing with a pina colada in one hand and wearing a grass skirt. It also could easily be a Little Mix song but Anne-Marie does just as good a job!

Track Twelve – ‘Machine’

Another one of my favourite tracks on the album on first listen! More mellow house beats, this song brings interesting storytelling and talks about issues in society (‘If I was a machine, I wouldn’t be affected by violence on the television screen’). Anne-Marie’s vocals sound as sweet as a nut on this track and the robotic vocal touches at the end of the chorus tie in nicely to the title of the song.

Track Thirteen – ‘Breathing Fire’

Carrying on the mellow dancey vibe of the album onto the deluxe tracks, Breathing Fire is another one of my favourites and it makes me just a little bit upset that it missed out on making it to the standard album tracklist. The soft house influence on this track mixes so super nicely with Anne-Marie’s breathy vocals on the chorus which matches the title of the song. If any DJs get a hold of this track, which I’m sure they will, the remixes will be absolute FIRE!

Track Fourteen- ‘Some People’

By the fourteenth track, I’m desperate for a piano ballad. This isn’t it but it is the start of the softening of tempo on the album. The lyrics of this track really strike me as massively intimate and personal, like I almost shouldn’t be listening as if it’s a diary entry by Anne-Marie.

Track Fifteen – ‘Used to Love You’

Now we’ve hit the slower songs on the album, the lyrics are a lot more personal and Used to Love You presents the record as a tale of growing from heartbreak and learning self love once again and I’m all here for it. This is without a doubt a girl power anthem. But, who hurt you Anne-Marie, gal?

Track Sixteen – ‘Peak’

Stop the press! We have ourselves a piano ballad! Finally and it’s everything I hoped and wished for. Anne-Marie’s vocals are absolutely stunning, this girl has pipes! The lyrics on this song are heartbreaking, ‘I was in love, I thought you were too’, are stand out for me. I bet the fans will go crazy for this track and I once again wish it was in the standard album to show people exactly how emotionally raw Anne-Marie can get! Love, love, LOVE!

Track Seventeen – ‘Rockabye’ Clean Bandit (feat. Sean Paul + Anne-Marie)

Ok so do I need to even talk about this track because everyone and their mothers have heard this one. An absolute bop and pretty much all I listened to in 2016!

Final Thoughts:

For such a highly anticipated debut album…this is really as good as it gets. Anne-Marie and her co-writers and producers smashed it out the park with this record and it was 100% worth the wait. From production to lyrics, this is another solid debut from a female artist from the UK!

Anne-Marie is going to have huge success from this album and all of her other projects with DJs and producers for a long time I’m sure. This album is perfect for summer and I’m super impressed with how much involvement Anne-Marie has had in every album of the production of this record, I bet she’s insanely proud!

Thanks for reading,

Chanel

x

 

 

 

Legally Blonde The Musical UK Review

Hello!

The sun was absolutely glorious in the UK this weekend and we got all of three days to enjoy it before the clouds have made their return. Typical.

This weekend I went to see Legally Blonde The Musical at Sunderland Empire on their UK Tour. I’ve been a fan of the musical for going on six years now and was massively excited when my friend bought me tickets for my birthday.

First of all, I’m a big fan of theatre. Musicals especially, so my expectations for this show were a little higher than it probably should have been after years of watching the poor quality video on Youtube and screeching along to the soundtrack.

One thing I must say about this show is that, for a travelling musical, the stage set up and quality of the performance was top notch. I’ve been to a few touring musicals and the show never has the same magic as a proper West End production but Legally Blonde blew me away!

Lucie Jones, who I saw many moons ago on the X Factor tour, played Elle Woods and she did an absolutely fantastic job! As well as insanely great vocals, Jones quirky approach to Elle’s character played out perfectly alongside the ups and downs of Little Miss Woods, Elle’s time at Harvard. Although, Laura Bell Bundy, the original Broadway Elle is a firm favourite, Lucie really lived up to the role and made the show very special.

My favourite character in the musical is Paulette, the beautician with dreams of finding the perfect Irish man. Played by Eastenders actress, Rita Simons, Paulette’s husky tones and loud personality were definitely recognised on stage, especially during the performance of Ireland which was one of my highlights of the entire show!

Of course, all of the cast were amazing and you can really tell they have a close bond not only as colleagues but as friends which comes across in making the performance the best they possibly can.

My highlight of the production, which I’m sure is loved by all audiences, has to be ‘There! Right There! which is both hilarious and wildly impressive. I also still can’t get over the Whipped into Shape routine, how on Earth Helen Petrovna skipped like that and still carried top vocals is beyond me!

Overall, if you’re going to see Legally Blonde in the next few months then you are in for a treat! I’d definitely go and see it for a second time!

If you’re interested in buying tickets then the link for the tour is here

My last blog post can be found here

Thanks for reading, see you soon!

Chanel

x

BotF: My Perfect Colour – Primark Perfect Finish Foundation Review

Hi!

Happy Saturday, I hope you’re all well!

A month or two ago I started a series on my blog called Battle of the Foundations and since then I’ve sort of neglected the idea a tad because my skin has just had problem after problem and I’ve not really strayed away from my beloved Nars Sheer Glow.

However, Primark have been making a statement in the beauty community and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on their foundations and try them out. I tried their foundation stick and their velvet finish foundation in the My Perfect Colour collection but I wasn’t overly keen on the formula so instead I went back and picked up the perfect finish foundation.

Primark? Who are they?

Primark are a retail store who opened up the doors to a store in Dublin in 1969 and have since became THE biggest name in UK and Ireland for affordable fashion, homeware and accessories.

PS… My Perfect Colour, Perfect Finish Foundation

The foundation claims to be medium coverage and have a semi-matte finish. It is also dermatologically tested and contains vitamin E, which gives the product anti-ageing properties. I also googled to see if Primark are cruelty free and they are! Yipee!

The Review

Make-up free!

As always, here is a photo of me without makeup on so you can see the current state of my skin before I applied the product. I moisturised with Nivea Visage Day Cream and then applied NYX Professional Makeup #NOFILTER Blurring Primer. I apply the foundation with my damp Real Techniques beauty sponge.

I picked up shade ‘Porcelain’ as I used the next shade down for the velvet finish foundation and it made me a little orange, which isn’t hard when you’re as pale as I am!

The foundation applied smoothly over my skin and a little goes quite a long way which is surprising considering the price of the product. I was frightened it was going to be too drying and stress out the drier areas on my face but it honestly applied like a treat.

Unlike most higher end foundations I’ve tested, the Primark formula really impressed me with how it didn’t really settle in the fine lines I have under my eyes and around my forehead. I also added the Revolution Conceal and Define Concealer onto my blemishes and then applied Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder and I didnt feel like the foundation moved at all or flaked off. I added the rest of my makeup to see how it dealt with the pressure of my terrible contouring skills.

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After applying the rest of my makeup

Overall, I would HIGHLY recommend you go out and try one of the My Perfect Colour foundations from Primark because the quality of the product for the price is INSANE. This foundation is honestly better than some of the really established makeup brand’s foundation that I’ve tested! It lasts fantastically, isn’t too drying and applies beautifully.

The coverage is actually pretty full, I have quite a few spots of hyperpigment so I always want to make sure that they’re covered and this product is buildable so I was able to achieve that. The only downfall the foundation has is that I’m inbetween shades so the porcelain shade is a little too light but I can just use bronzer to darken it a smidge.

I’ve been looking for a foundation to wear when I’m not using my NARS and I genuinely will be reaching for this product! I can’t believe it’s only £2.50!

If you want to see my other posts in the Battle of the Foundations series just click on the product below:

Battle of the Foundations: The Ordinary Foundation Review

Battle of the Foundations: Dermacol Make-Up Cover Review

See you again soon,

Chanel

x

 

Month in Music: March

Happy Wednesday!

Only two more days until the weekend, hurray!

Although, we’re 11 days into April I want to go back a few weeks and talk about all of the great music I’ve been listening to throughout March. I’ve reduced the size of the playlist from 20 songs to 10, just to make it a little easier to narrow down my favourites.

March brought a lot of musical goodness! I went to see both Niall Horan and Sam Smith on their world tours and they were fantastic. I reviewed Sam’s tour on one of my latest blog posts which you can find here if you’re interested!

My picks this month are very male orientated and I’m desperately waiting for the females to snatch back the charts crown (Ariana, Rihanna, I’m look at you gals). Without further ado, here is my top five from March:

My top 5 songs of March are:

  • John Newman – Fire in Me

I’m a huge John Newman fan, his first album ‘Tribute’ was played to death in my house when it was released, so you can imagine my excitement when I seen he had a new single. Fire in Me does not disappoint! It’s a proper feel good song that you can shout out loud and has so much power behind the lyrics, especially following Newman’s hiatus to focus on his health. I’m very excited John is back and I can’t wait to hear more from him!

  • James Bay- Pink Lemonade

Although James Bay has changed his style of music slightly to a more edgy, indie rock influenced sound, I still am a huge fan, if not more than ever. Pink Lemonade is so easy to listen to and enjoy, I’ve been playing it constantly and the bridge really adds an extra element of drama to the song. It works so well and I’m obsessed.

  • Sam Smith – HIM

Since seeing Sam at the end of March, all I can do is listen to HIM. I liked it before tour but hearing it live and the crowd singing along had me immediately playing it the second I got home. The choir in the background of the track add a gospel feel to the song which mirrors the play on word with HIM in relation to both God and a homosexual relationship. It’s such a fantastic song and it might have made it to my favourite track on the album. Oh and of course Sam sounds insanely good as always.

  • Years & Years – Sanctify

THEY’RE FINALLY BACK! I’ve been waiting for new music from Years & Years since the release of Meteorite for Bridget Jones’ Baby and as soon as they dropped Sanctify, I picked up my phone and gave it a listen. I’m glad they’ve stuck to their electronic style music as I think it really suits Olly’s vocals. Waiting on more, boys!

  • Todrick Hall & Jade Novah – Play

Todrick’s last release ‘Straight Outta Oz’ blew me away. It was absolutely incredible, from the cinematography to the genius references to Oz in the lyrics, I couldn’t praise it highly enough. When I seen he was releasing another visual album, Forbidden, I was eagerly waiting for the upload. If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend you go and watch it here right away. It’s spectacular, Todrick and his crew are insanely talented. It was hard to whittle down my favourite from the album but Play features both Todrick and Jade and they sound great together.

If you want to listen, I’ve made up a playlist on my spotify which you can listen to here.

I also have a January and February music picks which you can view by clicking on the links.

Until next month, happy listening!

Chanel

x

 

 

Tomato Soup Cupcakes Recipe

Happy Easter!

Over the last few days my social media feeds have been brimming with baking goodies, from Easter mini egg cakes to Creme Egg brownies and I’ve definitely been bitten by the bake off bug.

Instead of going with the traditional recipes, I decided to try something a little bit different and I spotted this Tomato Soup Cupcake recipe in my The Hummingbird Bakery book and thought why not give it a go.

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in The Hummingbird Bakery ‘Life is Sweet’ book

I know what you’re all thinking…that is disgusting Chanel, why would you even want to eat such a monstrosity! However, the book describes the taste as a ‘kind of carrot-cake’ flavour and I completely agree, you can definitely taste the slightly spiced resemblance.

Here is what you’ll need:

Ingredients

Cupcakes: 

  • 115g (4oz) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 285g (10oz)  Caster Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 270g (9 1/2oz) Plain Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground Allspice
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 60ml (2oz) Water
  • 295g (10 1/2oz) Tin of Condensed Cream of Tomato Soup
  • 18 muffin cases

Frosting:

  • 100g (3 1/2oz) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 240g (8oz) Full-fat Cream Cheese, cold
  • 400g (14oz) Icing Sugar
  • Ground cinnamon for sprinkling on top!

The recipe says it makes 18 but I managed to get 21 out of the batch and was left over with loads of icing too!

STEP ONE:

  • Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F)/ Gas mark 4

STEP TWO:

  • Line the muffin tin with the muffin cases

STEP THREE:

  • Use a freestanding mixer with paddle attachment or a hand held electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy (the recipe recommends mixing for 5 minutes on a medium-high speed)

STEP FOUR: 

  • Pop the eggs in one at a time, on a lower speed and making sure you have all the mix from the side of the bowl

STEP FIVE:

  • In a separate bowl combine all the dry ingredients (plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, allspice, cinnamon and cloves) and then mix into the wet ingredients. The recipe says to mix on a low speed but I thought my mixer’s lowest speed was still too fast so I just used a wooden spoon to mix.

STEP SIX:

  • Add the water and the condensed soup to form a batter (the smell is extremely strange and off putting so bare with it)

STEP SEVEN: 

  • Spoon the mixture into the cases until about 3/4’s full and bake for 20 minutes. Leave to cool when on a wire rack.

 

LEAVE TO COOL COMPLETELY BEFORE PUTTING ON THE FROSTING OTHERWISE IT’LL JUST SLIDE AND MELT OFF.

STEP EIGHT:

  • To make the frosting, beat the butter and then add the cream cheese and icing sugar. Mix slowly to begin with otherwise the sugar will spill everywhere. Then mix on high speed for three minutes to create a creamy texture.

STEP NINE:

  • Pipe the icing onto the cupcakes and sprinkle with a little bit of cinnamon.
The final product

These cupcakes are delicious and not dry at all, I was worried when mixing in the soup that the consistency looked too thick but they baked beautifully and have been gobbled up by my family.

Special thanks to Tarek Malouf for making this inventive recipe which was definitely an experiment as well as a baking venture. You can check out his website here or you can purchase The Hummingbird Bakery, “Life is Sweet” recipe book here.

If you want to read my previous blog post you can find it here

Thanks for reading!

Chanel

x

Dealing with Trauma whilst at University

Hi!

I hope you have all been well and are looking forward to the warmer weather ahead which we have had a teaser of over the last few days!

As my post ‘The “C” Word: Talking about Cancer’ was received so well, I decided to write more about my experiences with the disease and hopefully help people who may be going through a similar situation.

My Experience:

When my Mam was first diagnosed with cancer, I was in Semester One of my final and most important year of university. I immediately moved back home to support my family and decided that I couldn’t continue living in a different city whilst my loved ones were going through the heartbreak. As I studied at Sheffield Hallam University which meant I lived a 2 hour train journey from my home in Newcastle, the idea of commuting was a) not affordable and b) inefficient.

At first I was ready to drop out, forget my education and focus on what was happening at home, but my parents wanted me to continue with my study and I also couldn’t let all my hard work in the last two years go to waste.

I emailed my tutor to explain how I was unsure of what to do and was passed onto the student advisors of my university department. The advisors were incredibly helpful and understanding of my decision to attempt studying from home, although I was warned the inability to attend lectures and seminars may affect my grade.

The extenuating circumstances benefits differ from university to university, some may get special consideration of grading and other offer extensions. I was hoping that my university may offer some sort of compassion consideration when grading my papers as I was not really in the right mindset to continue writing essays at the same standard as I was producing whilst studying in Sheffield. However, I was grateful for the extensions as it gave me more time to balance my time.

I continued writing and submitting essays which I hoped were to my best ability and was rewarded with great grades despite only having the support of the online powerpoints and the fantastic help of my coursemates who I wouldn’t have been able to complete my degree without, as some of my lecturers were not exactly cooperative. One even went as far as to say I wouldn’t achieve my potential at home, which when I passed with the exact grade I wanted made me a very smug graduate.

Although I studied from home, I worked really hard and tried to be as involved as I possibly could to make sure I had an equal chance of achieving the best grade under the circumstances.

My Top Tips

University is an incredibly stressful time and the additional pressure of trauma or upset can cause an array of issues both mentally and educationally. I’ve compiled some tips of how to go about studying through difficult times:

  • Communicate: Talk! Talk to your tutor, talk to student advisors, talk to the support team, talk to anyone that will listen! Part of getting through the struggle is sharing your problems with people who can give you advice and understand just how hard it is. Most universities offer student wellbeing plans which allow you to meet with specialists and talking therapies who may be able to help find ways around obstructions in your study. If you have any issues with assignments or exams then talk to your tutors, they’re there to support you and in most cases will provide further explanations with anything you might find difficult.
  • Apply for study benefits: As discussed earlier, extenuating circumstances can give you more time with your assignments, easier examination environments and support with disability and welfare limitations. Applying for these benefits may lift some weight off your shoulders that could make your life just that little bit easier.
  • Find Resources: If you’re working from home it’s likely that you’ll become lazier with finding resources, mostly because you aren’t in short distance of the university library. However, resources and references are what makes essays reach the top grades as it proves that you’ve researched the subject and allows you to present a better understanding. If you are living away from your university but are in reach of another university, you can apply for day or visitor passes for most uni ran libraries. E-books are also a lifesaver, especially for dissertation work.
  • Work Hard: If you’re determined to get your degree then I’m sure this tip is a given. It is true that the more effort you put into your work, the more reward you will get out of it. Also, it’ll feel so good walking across the stage at graduation knowing you did you best.
  • Have breaks: Finally, don’t forget that you’re going through a rough time and you need time to relax, spend time with your mates and step out of the study circle for a few hours. It’ll not only keep you from bursting from stress but it’ll do you the world of good stepping away from the screen or the books for a little while and then reassessing everything through fresh eyes when you come back to it.

I hope this has been interesting and if you’re struggling through a hard time at the moment just remember that you’re only human and as long as you’re doing your best then you can be proud of what you achieve. Please remember to talk to who you need to to get the help which will provide you with the best chance of reaching your full potential. You can do this!

Thanks for reading,

Chanel

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Sam Smith: The Thrill of It All 2018 World Tour Review

Happy Friday!

On Wednesday night, my Mam got to cash in her Mother’s Day present of tickets to see Sam Smith on his latest world tour ‘The Thrill of It All’ (suitably named after his chart topping 2017 album) and of course I went along with her. We are both huge fans of Sam and were super excited that he had chosen to grace the North- East with his talent for one night only.

Unfortunately, due to traffic we missed the support act Bruno Major but I’ve read nothing but positive feedback on Twitter about his performance.

I originally missed the standard ticket sale and was absolutely gutted when I seen the event was sold out as I knew how special it would be for my Mam to see him sing live, but thanks to Twickets we managed to get fantastic seats at face value. A service I would highly recommend if you’re looking to purchase tickets and don’t want to get ripped off!

Firstly, I want to just take a minute to talk about how gorgeous Sam’s staging is. The triangular catwalk protrudes into the seated crowd which makes the concert seem more intimate and personal. Joined with a triangular shaped structure which moves and adapts to suit the mood of the music, the stage is simple but really captivating. Definitely a nod to ‘less is more’ and allows Sam’s talent to shine without any whimsical distractions. One more thing, I love how Sam has his band and backing singers with him on the forefront of the stage and doesn’t just shove them to the back with poor lighting.

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(including the very excited women in front)

Sam really allowed his personality to show during his time on stage, sharing snippets of personal stories about songwriting, talking about his family and all of the times he had spent in Newcastle (big up Powerhouse!) Me and my Mam both came to the conclusion that he’s a lovely lad who shows genuine passion for his art and who we want to have a glass of prosecco with!

As for Smiths’ vocal ability…it’s on another level. This man can SAAAANG. As Sam said himself, his music can be a little bit depressing but he definitely used the upbeat tracks to his advantage with the whole crowd on their feet dancing to Disclosure feature ‘Omen’ and In The Lonely Hour bop ‘Restart’.

When Sam chose to slow the pace down a bit with the dramatic ‘Writing on The Wall’, ‘Lay Me Down’ and the very heartfelt ‘Scars’, the audience respectfully sat and listened, singing along during the chorus’ or when prompted.

During the encore, Sam sang ‘Palace’, one of my favourite tracks from the album and was joined by his backing vocalist Lucy, turning the song into more of a beautiful duet which was without a doubt a highlight of the show for me.

Sam looked amazing and owned the stage creating a relaxed atmosphere which all ages enjoyed. If you’re going to the show you have so much to look forward to and also to help you out I’ve added stage times and the set list to the bottom of this post.

Thanks for reading,

Chanel

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If you’re going to the show here are the stage times (what we experienced) and set list (found on Setlist.FM)

Doors: 6pm (may change depending on venue so check on their website/ Twitter)

Bruno Major: 7:45pm

Sam Smith: 8:45pm

Show Ends: 10:30-45pm

Baring in mind these are all subject to change depending on the venue/the artist.

Setlist (may also change):

  1. Burning
  2. One Last Song
  3. I’m Not the Only One
  4. Lay Me Down
  5. The Best Things In Life Are Free (Cover)
  6. Omen
  7. Nirvana
  8. I’ve Told You Now
  9. Writing’s On The Wall
  10. Latch
  11. Money on My Mind
  12. Like I Can
  13. Restart
  14. Baby, You Make Me Crazy
  15. Say It First
  16. Scars
  17. Midnight Train
  18.  HIM
  19. Too Good at Goodbyes

Encore

  1. Palace
  2. Stay With Me
  3. Pray

 

 

 

 

Better than GHDs? Cloud Nine Hair Straighteners Review

Hello,

Sorry I’ve been a little MIA these last two weeks but I unfortunately had to deal with the passing of a family member which has been very upsetting and I’ve needed the time to support my loved ones.

Today I bring you a new topic that I’ve yet to explore on this blog which is all about hair! Now I am not the best with my hair, I have thick, long auburn hair which is a nightmare to style without professional help so I usually just straighten it and that’s about as far as my skills stretch.

I used to have naturally curly hair but with years of straightening and blow drying my hair,  I’m left with a sort of frizzy mane with the occasional kink.

I’ve always been a huge fan of GHDs and used their products since I was in high school and I wasn’t really aware of a brand which topped GHDs in terms of quality and popularity. Until my parents bought me a pair of Cloud Nine straighteners for Christmas.

Cloud Nine? Who are they?

Cloud Nine are a haircare and styling brand which was developed by the creator of GHDs, Robert Powls. Launched in 2009, the brand pride themselves on allowing their clients to adapt their tools to cater for their own hair needs. The ceramic and smart technology used in the products promote healthier and happier hair, which sounds ideal to me! Cloud Nine don’t just stop at straighteners, they also have a curling wand, revolutionary heated rollers and a super savvy hairdryer.

The Review: The Touch Iron

The straightener I have is The Touch Iron which was developed in 2015 and claims to be the world’s fastest heating straighteners and they’re definitely not lying! The blades take seconds to heat up and all you have to do is tap them together to get instant heat.

I used a little bit of oil through my hair before blow drying and then sprayed all over with a heat protecting spray in preparation, just to try and keep my hair as less damaged as possible.

Here is my hair before I used The Touch Iron:

 

and after a quick 15-20 minutes of straightening, my hair looked so much sleeker:

My favourite feature on these straighteners are how quick and easy it is to change the temperature from 195°C to 165°C for anyone with finer hair, by clicking the blades together three times.

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The Touch Iron is only £115 which is in the same price range as the typical GHDs but I’m already seeing the benefits from using Cloud Nine, especially in terms of my hair feeling healthier and less damaged.

If you want to find out more about Cloud Nine or The Touch Iron then you can find their product range at https://www.cloudninehair.com/ 

Thanks for reading,

Chanel

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