Tag Archive: Technology

Dec 29 2013

Fashionista Barbie Bakes: Festive Cupcakes

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The festive period is one of my favourite times to bake, mainly because I have a little more time, but mostly because you can have a little bit more fun when it comes to decorating. I bake cupcakes and muffins all the time, sometimes chocolate, occasionally carrot cake, and lots of blueberry ones, but no matter what I love to have a recipe to follow, it is kind of like a safety net that reassures me along the way.

I have tried the cookbook stand, it never really stays put, I have tried using the iPad on a stand, but getting cake mix on the screen is annoying, so when I heard that the Microsoft Surface had a Bing Food & Drink app that you could literally use with a swipe of a hand I had to give it ago.

Armed with my cupcake recipe ingredients, I turned on the hands-free mode on the app, so I could literally swipe my hand in front of the web-camera to get the page to turn, so it was easy to see what was next on my recipe. Plus you can search through lots of different recipes, so I decided to try out a new cupcake mix, which turned out really well.

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Ingredients:

Cupcakes

200g unsalted butter, at room temperature – I like to leave out for at least an hour before

200g caster sugar

4 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

200g self-raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

Buttercream

300g unsalted butter, at room temperature

750g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Green food colouring

Decorations

Festive toppers, sprinkles, stars, glitter – anything goes

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 160°C/315°F/Gas mark 2-3, and line the muffin tine with 12 paper cases.

Cream the butter and caster sugar together until the mixture is pale and light. I use a free-standing mixer – the Kenwood K-Mix on a medium speed for about 3-4 minutes.

Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition, don’t forget to scrap down the sides of the bowl from time to time to make sure everything is mixed. Then add the flour, salt and baking powder, and mix together until combined. I use the fold setting on my free-standing mixer but you can easily use a large metal spoon or rubber spatula to do by hand.

Then using an ice-cream scoop or a table-spoon add the mixture into the paper cases and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the cakes spring back slightly when pressed, and when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

While the cakes are cooling, make the buttercream. Add the butter, icing sugar and vanilla extra to a large bowl and beat until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. When mixed well, add a couple of drops of food colouring, remember if you are planning to use two colours divide the mixture first, then remix until all the buttercream is the chosen colour.

You can either then decorate with a palette knife or by using a piping bag, I prefer a piping bag as it is more fun. Try using different nozzles to create different effects on your cupcakes.

Once you have added the buttercream decorate as you wish – I added Christmas tree, snowmen, penguins and polar bear toppers, as well as pink glitter dust, candy stars and silver balls – I basically was going for mini Christmas trees.

As well as these cupcakes I also made a cherry and raisin loaf, mince pies and honeycomb brownies – what are you favourite festive recipes?

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**Microsoft Surface was gifted to me as part of my participation in the Microsoft Loop**

Dec 17 2013

Technology: Acer Iconia A1

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I have always been a lover of technology and gadgets and it seems over the years I have been collecting tablets and laptops in all different sizes. I have the iPad that seems to be a great size for watching movies, I then have the Microsoft Surface which is perfect for working wherever you are with the handy keyboard, and now it seems I have found a tablet that is perfect to place in any handbag including my new Rebecca Minkoff beauty that has been my weekend bag.

I find that I blog in all sorts of places, whether in my office, on the sofa while watching a film, or out-and-about at a cafe, but my larger tablets sometimes don’t fit into my go-to handbag and that is where this Acer Iconia A1 has been perfect.

It is easy to use as it runs on the Android system, the same as my HTC One, which means that all the apps I use on my smartphone are easier to use on the 7.9″ screen – especially the WordPress and photo-editing apps such as Snapseed and VSCO Cam that I use. Plus it is great to use with Skype as it is hand-sized so easy to hold and it is lightweight. It also comes with 16GB memory, which is generally plenty, but it also has a microSD slot if you want to add more or in my case want access to large photos to add to the blog.

Like with my Android smartphone the Acer tablet is easy to organise all my apps, I am kind of a little OCD on keeping everything clean, so it is great you can create groups of apps – so I have all my social media favourites together and my photograph app, as well as information apps and my reading material. Going through all my favourite blogs on Feebly is so much nicer than on my mobile.

I have only been using the device for less than a week but this budget tablet really is great value for money. Granted it doesn’t feel as good as the iPad, the plastic casing feels a little breakable but I always think a cover is the best way to go, and it might not be as fast, but this little beauty did really well putting this blog post together!!!

Have you try out the Acer Iconia A1? Would love to hear your thoughts on this budget tablet.

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Also as it is Christmas, I thought it would be fun to dress up my Acer tablet with a live wallpaper that I picked up for free in the Google Play store – come on who doesn’t want a Christmas countdown as their background? Plus that 3D Christmas tree is so pretty!!!

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Want to find out more about this tablet? Then check out Acer Tablet Reviews to find out the pros and cons of this handy sized budget tablet.

**I was gifted this Acer tablet – but all opinions are my own**

Nov 28 2013

Technology: Staying Connected With EE MiFi

EE MIFI 2 Technology: Staying Connected With EE MiFi %tagBeing connected is super important for bloggers, it’s more than just having great contacts, of course that is needed, but keeping connected on-the-go is probably more important. I wrote a blog before London Fashion Week on my top tips for a blogger on the move and EE got in touch for me to try out their Huawei MIFi device, which can connect up to 10 devices from smartphones to iPads, laptops and even your WiFi enabled cameras all at 4GEE speeds. I have a 4GEE smartphone and I couldn’t go back to a normal phone contract, and now it seems I can’t live without my MiFi.

I used this little device throughout fashion week – I connected my iPad, my camera and even my mobile to Instagram pictures and videos, pin images to pinterest, write blogs, edit images, and catch-up with my e-mails, the news, and my social media feed while I was out of the office. To say it was a godsend is an understatement.

In the past I have tried mobile dongles but the connectivity has always been sketchy at best – this little beauty even worked in the middle of the Norfolk Broads – I was super impressed and it meant that I could be confident about doing my work without having to rush back to the office.

To utilise my new found internet freedom I decided to pimp my iPad out with a cute little keyboard, I know everyone is about embracing the touch screen but I just find everything easier and quicker when I can type it. I picked this Logitech keyboard up from John Lewis for £69.95, it was actually cheaper than buying it in the Apple store. As well as providing me with keys to type it also has a handy stand to make my iPad into a makeshift laptop.

Another great thing about connecting on the go – lots of teas, hot chocolates, and iced buns!!!

Have you tried out EE MIFi?

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**Thanks to EE for the loan**

Aug 11 2013

In Pictures: My HTC Mini Break

HTC mini break 7 In Pictures: My HTC Mini Break %tagHTC have brought out a tinier version of the HTC One, the HTC Mini, so to celebrate the launch of the new smartphone the technology giant took everyone on a mini break to the seaside, well not quite, more like a cool roof top in East London decorated out with stripes, beach huts, and deck chairs to play around with the handsets camera features.

The phone itself is very similar to my HTC One, the only real difference is the size of the handset, there are more differences obviously as it is a lower priced phone but nothing that is really  that noticeable. The HTC Mini still has all the great camera functionality of its big brother, you can still capture cool slow-motion videos, get Zoe to compile a highlight reel and it takes excellent pictures in low light, which was pretty much needed as the night of the event was less summery and more wintry, but thankfully it didn’t rain.

The event played with perspectives, with very over-sized deck chairs, giant sticks of rock, and ice cream cones set into the distance to capture as though you were picking it up, as well as tiny food served in mini deck chairs and beer served in tiny buckets. There were lots of photo ops around the rooftop, which were made even more entertaining with swing dancers, actors dressed as crazy American tourists and a giant bubble blowing artist, which was hilarious until I got soaked by a bubble exploding!!!

It was such a fun night, lounging in giant deck chairs, being mesmerised by the giant bubbles, launching hysterically at the so-called American tourists, and devouring the tiny food – I couldn’t get enough of the tiny jacket potatoes, and drinking gin from bone china tea cups.

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Want to see the bubble-blower in action? Check out this slow-motion video I captured on the HTC Mini:

[Pics/video: all taken on the HTC One Mini]

 

Jul 23 2013

Afternoon Tea: W London – Rock Tea

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A couple of weeks ago I was treated to a W London’s ‘W Rock Tea’ by Huawei for the launch of the world slimmest smartphone, the Huawei Ascend 6, see my review here of the phone, and with my love of afternoon tea I couldn’t help but savour every last bite of the incredible selection while learning all about the phone.

Inspired by the musical heritage of the Soho area, where the W London Hotel is located, this afternoon tea is a rock n roll tribute to the likes of Pink Floyd, The Clash, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Jimi Hendrick, and Fleetwood Mac served on a three-tier stand made of original vinyl records.

There seems to be a trend at the moment for themed afternoon teas, not that I am complaining I am a huge fan when they are done well like One Aldwych’s Charlie & the Chocolate Factory tea and The Sanderson’s Mad Hatters tea party, and I think the W London naming their delicious treats after iconic rock albums and songs fits perfectly with the cool interior of the hotel.

The Rock Tea has more traditional afternoon tea elements than it appears, there is just a rock n roll twist, for instance there are still finger sandwiches with egg mayonnaise, cucumber and yoghurt, smoked salmon and chicken fillings, plus scones and clotted cream, the twists come over in the well executed cakes such as the psychedelic purple marzipan aptly named after Jimi Hendrix’s song ‘Purple Haze’.

All of the cakes made an impact from the delicious ‘Cherry Bomb’ featuring chocolate, mascarpone and cherries to the light and tasty ‘Every Rose Has a Thorn’ jam sponge to the melt in your mouth chocolate and passion fruit ‘Sweet Emotion’ bites with glitter hearts that seemed to cover everything I was wearing.

As I was there for an event, I didn’t really relax and enjoy the afternoon tea like I would have like, I didn’t have with a cup of tea, and I didn’t get chance to try the scones – but what I did try I loved and I can’t wait to sit down in the glitter ball adorned bar and try again!!!

W Rock Tea is from 2-5pm at W London and costs from £25 per person

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**I was a guest of Huawei, but all opinions on the afternoon tea are my own**

Jul 23 2013

Technology: Huawei Ascend P6

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I am a sucker for a shiny new smartphone, with a great camera, sleek lines, and on the android platform, so when I heard about the world’s slimmest mobile from Huawei **well at the time of launch**, I was intrigued and excited to try it out.

You might not have heard of Huawei before, or for that matter be able to say it, I still have trouble but if you say ‘Wah-Way’ while grinning you are on the right tracks. Best to get practising as this Chinese company is one of the biggest networking and telecoms equipment manufacturers in the world and it is making a big push into the smartphone market.

The Huawei Ascend P6 is a sleek mobile, measuring just 6.18mm, which is slimmer than my current HTC One, and it weighs just 120g – so super thin, light and looks smart with its aluminium edge, which I have stupidly hidden by a cover on the pictures I took, and it kind of reminds me of an iPhone in its design.

As you will know I am a little bit of a HTC addict, my last four smartphones have been HTC, and I have gotten used to the way they work and their mobiles really have made it hard for a new smartphone to grab my attention but the beauty of this phone is that it used the android platform and made the switch vertical painless for me to test out as it pulled over all my settings from my current phone with ease.

Whereas this phone offers nothing new, it basically has the same features of the latest HTC, Samsung and iPhone, such as a good camera, it has an 8MP rear camera as well as a 5MP front-facing one that is perfect for selfies, it does have a few unique features like the ‘beautify’ auto facial-enhancing app, which edits your selfies – see my attempt below.

I think the big draw for the Huawei Ascend P6 is the price, you can get from £21 per month on contract – the one thing I will say though if like me you are on EE 4G then you won’t be able to use this phone as it only offers 3G. But if you are looking for an affordable smartphone with a great camera, that’s light and slim then this is probably going to be for you – plus when winter comes you can be using its ‘MagicTouch’ feature, which allows you to use your phone while keeping your gloves on.

I do wonder though whether the lack of awareness of the Huawei brand might go against this smartphone as it might put people off even trying – it is especially difficult with competition from HTC, Samsung, Sony, and Apple to stand out in this market.

Huawei ascend p6 1 Technology: Huawei Ascend P6 %tag Huawei ascend p6 beauty Technology: Huawei Ascend P6 %tag Huawei ascend p6 2 Technology: Huawei Ascend P6 %tag**I was gifted a Huawei Ascend P6, but all opinions are my own**

Mar 26 2013

Technology: HTC Windows 8X Review

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I have been a HTC lover for the past couple of years – starting with the slightly bulky HTC 3D, that took really cool 3D snaps that no one other than me could appreciate, then came the HTC One series where I found it hard to choose between the One X and the One S, basically the only difference I could tell was the size, and now I am testing out the HTC Windows 8X.

Whereas all the others had the Android platform in common, which I must disclaim now I adore, this cute mobile that seems to be perfectly sculptured to sit in my hand, features Microsoft’s latest software Windows 8 that I have to be honest I found a little hard to get my head around at first.

If you have Windows 8 on your laptop, are lucky enough to have one of the Microsoft Surface tablets or have had a windows-based phone before then this mobile will make so much sense, will complement your other devices perfectly and will be a dream I am sure, however, if like me you are still on an old version of Windows how this mobile functions might seem a little alien.

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But trust me it is actually easy to navigate around once you have customised the ‘live tiles’ on the homescreen that represent the apps. As well as having a colourful interface that can be changed to a number of different themes, I preferred the default HTC blue, you can also change the size of the ‘live tiles’ so the more important apps can be bigger. For instance I gave my e-mail the largest tile, and my social media apps the middle one, and the others such as the Windows/HTC store, music, text messages etc they were made into little squares. Once customised this systems makes a whole lot more sense.

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One of the major pitfalls for me with this mobile though is the apps, even though the store has lots to offer from games to practical apps, the ones I love as a social media hungry blogger – Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest just aren’t as good as on Android or Apple, and then there are some that aren’t even available to Windows users such as Pose and Instagram, which I am addicted to, and I find it crazy that there still isn’t a Windows app. Also sadly there isn’t Dropbox either, which connects basically all my life together from my mobile to laptop to main desktop computer, even my iPad and external hard-drive connect to it – Windows has its own SkyDrive but that would mean a full change over.

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I felt bad not liking it because it doesn’t have Instagram so I did hunt down a few alternatives, the first is Eyeem, a photo-sharing app that is not only on Windows but Android and iPhone, like Instagram it has the filters, I actually like this set up and the fact that images don’t have to be just square, however out of the 1,000 Twitter people I follow only one was on the social media network and none of my Facebook pals, which means it is a lonely picture site!

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Then there is Lomogram, a photo editing app that has more than 40 filters, tons of lightening effects and some cool borders. To be honest I actually like this more than Instagram with regards to the filters and you can easily share to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr – but Instagram is more than just filters.

HTC windows 8x notes Technology: HTC Windows 8X Review %tagThere are some things I did love though, the to-do list app that comes pre-installed is amazing, I am a list freak and the OneNote app is so easy to use, handy, and allows you do put little check boxes next to your list so you keep track of your progress. You can also access Office programmes such as Word and Excel with ease, which I love.

The other high-points were the one-touch auto focus on the camera, handy for snapping piccies on the move, and the ultra-wide-angle front camera lens, which makes for great piccies with friends. However, the camera isn’t quite up to the standards of the HTC One X it doesn’t do the 30 shots per second burst mode or panorama feature that I like.

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If you have had a Windows-based mobile before and loved it, you will find the HTC Windows 8X super, visually pleasing, and jam-packed full of technology that HTC does well. However, if you are part of the Android/iPhone gang then I am not sure whether the Windows 8X has enough to tempt you away. I really do feel this phone comes down to which system you feel comfortable using and sadly I am not ready to give up on my HTC One X, Android and Instagram!!! However, I might change my tune if I ever convert to the Windows Surface tablet!!!

HTC windows 8x back Technology: HTC Windows 8X Review %tag**My HTC Windows 8X was given to me to review**

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