Red Velvet Swirl Cake | Product Review and Recipe

Anyone who's been following my blog, Instagram, or Pinterest for a while has probably noticed my obsession keen interest in baking. However, having just started a new job in retail, I don't have as much time as I'd like to indulge the interest, and it's been a little frustrating.
That's why, when I was contacted on behalf of Betty Crocker about trying out some of their cake mixes(*), I jumped at the chance; I'd used them once or twice during my time at university, but never got to experiment with them much, so I decided to try out something a little different: red velvet swirl cake.
For this little creation of mine, I used two full-sized Betty Crocker mixes; the red velvet and classic vanilla, which meant I opted to make two cakes (!) instead of one. I hadn't tried the red velvet before, but I knew the vanilla mix was very light, so I didn't really worry about one being too dense and sinking, like I would when marbling any mix I'd made from scratch.
Anyone who's used any of the Betty Crocker mixes before knows how easy they are to whip up; all you have to do is empty the mix into a bowl, throw in a few eggs, a splash of water, and a teaspoon or two of oil, and you're ready to go. The process for this wasn't much different; I simply mixed the two batters up separately, then poured half of the vanilla mix into the bottom of a greased cake tin, topping it with the red velvet mix. Obviously I then had to repeat this process, as I had enough for two cakes.
Personally, this is my favourite part of any 'swirl cake'; the swirling. All you really have to do is grab a butter knife and drag it through the mixture until it starts to look...well, swirl-y (yes, that is the technical term). Then, it's just a case of baking them, and that can be slightly different from the instructions; generally, when you're mixing two different cake mixes, it can take an extra 10-15 minutes to bake both of them all the way through, so keep an eye on them!
...and that's it! A pretty impressive looking (and sounding!) cake, in a matter of minutes' work. All of the fun of getting creative in the kitchen, without any of the measuring, weighing, or mess. And the Betty Crocker mixes are so rich, light, and moist, that they're honestly better than some that I've made from scratch.
Plus, red velvet and vanilla swirl is officially my new favourite cake flavour, I'd seriously recommend you all try out this 'recipe'...and definitely let me know if you do!

Do you ever use cake mixes to save time? What's your favourite?
Betty Crocker cake mixes (*) retail for about £2.25, and are available from all good supermarkets.
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Autumn/Winter Transitional Nails: Five Favourites | Swatches

five favourite autumn (fall) winter transition nail polishes; Models Own 'Ibiza Mix'; Barry M 'Majesty'; Models Own 'Concrete Mixer'; Essie 'Island Hopping'; Revlon 'Smouldering', swatches and review
L-R: Models Own 'Ibiza Mix'; Barry M 'Majesty'; Models Own 'Concrete Mixer'; Essie 'Island Hopping'; Revlon 'Smouldering'.

I. Love. Autumn. Winter will always be my favourite season (even though I'm a summer baby), but there's something about the crisp coolness of autumn that I just can't help but adore. Naturally, I also love the transition in beauty products; coppery smokey eyes, bolder lips, and of course, autumn nails. If you've been reading on-thebias for a while, you probably know I'm completely obsessed with nail polish, so I've chosen my 5 favourite shades for the transition between autumn and winter, just for a little 'A/W inspiration'.
five favourite autumn (fall) winter transition nail polishes; swatches of Models Own 'Ibiza Mix'; Barry M 'Majesty'; Models Own 'Concrete Mixer'; Essie 'Island Hopping'; Revlon 'Smouldering'.
L-R: Models Own 'Ibiza Mix'; Barry M 'Majesty'; Models Own 'Concrete Mixer'; Essie 'Island Hopping'; Revlon 'Smouldering'.

1. Models Own 'Ibiza Mix': This is a gorgeous, dense, multi-coloured, glitter from the 'Hed Kandi' collection. With huge flakes of gold, teal, copper, and lilac, in a translucent grey base, it's perfect for filling the gap between summer's bright colours and the sparkles of the festive season. I'd recommend a base colour if you're looking for full opacity, though.

2. Barry M 'Majesty': From the Royal Glitters collection, this muted gold is very wearable for most skin tones, and is so gorgeous for this season. It's textured, so is pretty durable, even on dry or brittle cold-weather nails, and applies like a dream - fully opaque in two coats, and fast-drying, what more could a girl ask for?

3. Models Own 'Concrete Mixer': This is one of those gorgeous muted shades that nearly every brand has its own version of (OPI's 'Did you 'Ear about Van Gogh?' and Essie's 'Playa Del Platinum' spring to mind). As the name suggests, it's a muted cement-coloured grey/green hybrid, and is very wearable - if you're a fan of nudes and neutrals in the summer, this should be your go-to fall nail colour choice, for sure.

4. Essie 'Island Hopping': Although this was released in Essie's 'Bahamas' Spring/Summer collection a few years ago, I only ever think of this muted mauve as an autumn shade. If you're fair, like me, or just don't favour darker tones, this is a happy medium between the dark purples which are more popular at this time of year, and the pale shades you'd be wearing in summer. Like some Essie polishes, it's a little thin, so you may need three coats to get full opacity, but the colour payoff is worth it!

5. Revlon 'Smouldering': This is a new addition to my collection, and it's already a favourite; it's an iridescent grey/blue colour with metallic undertones, and I think it would easily take you through to winter, too, paired with a sparse glitter. I can't even do this colour justice with words, just do yourself a favour and pop into your nearest Boots to check it out, it's so gorgeous.
What are your favourite autumn nail colours?
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How I Got the Red Out of my Hair | Colour B4 Product Review & Before and After

Colour B4 hair colour remover review
I was a redhead for about a year, before the usual tell-tale signs of hair colour boredom started to show up; every day seemed like a bad hair day, I started pinning a thousand different hair colours and styles to my pinterest board (here), and spent about 10 minutes of every Boots trip gazing longingly at their selection of hair dyes. It was time for a change.
Naturally, I panicked: I'd struggled through a period of too-dark hair colours for a good few years, and anything that was going to cover the vibrant red my hair had been for 12 months was going to have to be pretty dark. I cringed at the thought of bleaching my whole head. Salons were not in my sales advisor budget. And then I came across Colour B4 Extra Strength in Boots.
The before and after; one application of Colour B4 Extra Strength.
Disclaimer: This is not the colour I left it, obviously.

Colour B4 doesn't bleach the hair, but aims to take it back to the lightest colour it was pre-dye, by doing something complicated-sounding which involves shrinking the molecules of dye. I figured it was better than a) dying my hair black, or b) bleaching it all, so decided to give it a shot.

The application process is really simple: you mix the two solutions in the kit together and apply it all over the hair, then leave it to develop. It smells absolutely vile, I can't lie - kind of rotten-egg-ish (and that's not an exaggeration, I wish it was), so keep a window open. The only difficult part is the rinsing; the process involves rinsing the hair for 10 minutes continuously, then applying a 'buffer' (included), before rinsing for another 10 minutes. Needless to say, it's not fun, but at least it gets the job done.
Having very light hair (read: natural ginger, right here), getting all that pigment out was never going to be easy, but I was very pleasantly surprised by Colour B4, and the product really did get me back to my pre-dye colour (as you can hopefully see above).
Colour B4 retails for £9.99, and is available from Boots stores, or on their website, here.
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