Saturday, 31 May 2014

Meadowhall Ladies Night 2014

Meadowhall is one of the largest shopping centre in Yorkshire, offering the widest range of stores in the area all under one roof. A couple of times a year they hold special events where many of the stores will offer discounts and there'll be lots of other activities and promotions going on around the centre. I was very kindly invited to this years Ladies night as part of their bloggers panel (to be honest I'd have probably gone anyway, it was just an extra little push for me to go because the last Meadowhall event I went to was really enjoyable) so I went along to see what was on offer. 

It was the second time Meadowhall have hosted a Ladies Night, I didn't manage to get to the one last year I really did underestimate how big the whole event was going to be. To take advantage of all the discounts and events going on around the centre you had to register which then gave you a 'pass' on your smartphone which you showed in the various shops to claim your discount. So I registered at home and drove down to Meadowhall to be there for 5pm to meet the bloggers...

We met at Caffe Rizzoli (you might remember this from the Bloggers Breakfast which was held a few months back) for a glass of prosecco and a chance to chat with other bloggers and of course Beth who is Meadowhall's resident Fashion and Beauty advisor. I will always love Caffe Rizzoli, I would class it as a bit of a hidden gem in Meadowhall because although it's on a main thoroughfare it's not in the main Oasis food court so it could quite easily be missed. If you're looking for a relaxing bite to eat or even just a drink then you'll find this little prosecco bar on the ground floor right outside House of Fraser.


We were given a guide to the Ladies Night which had information about all the special offers and events which would be happening that night from 6-9pm, we were also informed that we would be meeting Amy Childs and we would be able to interview her if we wanted!! I'm not a massive fan of TOWIE but I think that Amy is a really inspirational woman, an example of why you should not judge a book by its cover because I think she is one smart lady. She has used the TV show as a stepping stone onto bigger and better things, she obviously realised that it would give her the break she needed to succeed. On the ground floor she had a pop up shop with clothes from her own clothing line as well as other Amy Childs branded products. She was there to showcase her collections, show off her brand new line at Dorothy Perkins and also to see her fans. 

We were taken to where she was sat, we were introduced as bloggers and the interviewing begun! I asked her what would be her must have item on a desert island, after a bit of umm-ing and ahh-ing she decided on mascara, she said she was loving YSL false lash effect at the moment (She wasn't wearing false eyelashes, all natural!). I also asked her what the best part of her job was, to which she replied 'meeting different people, meeting all my fans' she said that she didn't want to be a celebrity who refuses to have photos etc. which was lovely and she was really genuine with it. I haven't met that many celebrities but Amy was a real pleasure to speak to, she had so much time for us and she stood and posed  for a photo with every single one of us. It really made my night meeting her, I know I looked far too happy for my own good in my photo with her...


(yep, it's black and white because I looked horrendous next to Amy!)

After meeting Amy we walked to the 'Polaroid Dress' which is as it suggests; a dress made completely from Polaroid photos. I posed with Jemma from Bamboozle Beauty and our little faces were hooked onto the wire mesh which would eventually become covered in little faces... a world first apparently!




Next stop was the 'Beauty Spot' to see what was going on. This was under the 'dome' which is kind of like the centre of Meadowhall, right near the main entrance. Various brands such as Kiehls, Nails Inc, L'occitane (and loads more) were doing 'demonstrations' of their products. Unfortunately it was difficult to see anything properly and I didn't get anything done but there were ladies who were having their hair styled, their hands massaged and their senses tantalised which was the aim of the night - to be pampered and treated like a lady in between shopping while you drop! 

There were lots of fun goings on dotted around the centre including 'hot spots' where you connected your phone to bluetooth via the Meadowhall Ladies Night smartphone app to redeem special offers in that area, there was a half naked man advertising Diet Coke...


Grannies racing on their segway shopping trollies which was a bit weird but really funny, I only just managed to get a photo of this one before they sped past!


There was also lots of opportunity for shoppers to get involved around the centre, there was a hugely popular 'If the shoe fits' game where you went up on stage, chose a number with a corresponding shoe box, if that pair of shoes fit then you got to keep them! Lots of brands were involved in this and it was a hugely popular part of the Ladies Night, the queue was incredible. I really wanted a go and if I'd have been on the ball I'd have gone early but I just didn't have time to queue. 

It was a fab advertising opportunity for stores within Meadowhall and also businesses from surrounding areas; Doncaster Racecourse had a stand where they were giving away free Pimms and hats to try on and have your photo taken with. 

It was a great night for the shoppers in Meadowhall, it was really busy so the event had obviously pulled people into the centre who wouldn't have necessarily gone on a Thursday night and it gave brands the opportunity to show everyone what they had and of course to spend, spend, spend!! Judging by the success of this years Ladies Night, I don't think that this will be the last one and I am looking forward to seeing what other events they have planned for the coming months!

Did you attend this years Ladies Night, or did you attend last year?

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Tuesday, 27 May 2014

What I used: Skincare

I haven't done a skincare post in a good while so I thought I'd share with you what I used in Florida. Combination/Oily skin and hot weather really don't mix well so I like to keep skincare to light formulas that aren't going to sit heavy on my skin making it feel uncomfortable but I know that I still need keep my skin moisturised when I'm out in the sun a lot. Like I say my regime was minimal while on holiday so there are only 4 key players to show you...

(the bottles aren't intentionally wet, I wish they were wet for artistic reasons but really Jason just thought it'd be hilarious to splash me while I was trying to take photos!!)

The Bee Good Honey & Propolis 2 in 1 cream cleanser* was what I used every single day, morning and night to cleanse my face. The cream formula was a gorgeous consistency, not too thick but not too thin; after a minute or so of massaging this onto the skin it breaks down makeup and grime and makes it easy to wipe away with a cloth. It smells beautiful and has really agreed with my skin... full review coming soon! 

The Liz Earle Intensive Nourishing Treatment mask* is what I used once per week while I was away for an injection of moisture; I concentrated it onto the more dehydrated areas of my face and neck (my cheeks and jawline) and left it there for around 10 minutes. It doesn't dry solid like the clay masks I normally go for, it just soaked into the skin and I wiped away any excess product away after the 10 minutes. If you suffer from dry skin then I'd highly recommend this; it has the signature Liz Earle scent and is a nice luxurious skin treatment. 

My Moisturiser of choice was the new Melvita Nectar Pur Mattifying Balancing Fluid*. Thin in consistency, this provides just enough daily moisture without overloading my skin, it's great for a makeup base and I found that I had very little oil breakthrough even after hours of wear. I've been using it for a while now and it's really working for me, full review coming soon!

Finally I've included a product that I used on the flight there and back, if you've flown long haul you'll know what it can do to your skin and how it can make you feel. I remember when I went to New York a few years back, when I got off the plane in the US I felt totally rubbish and my face felt so tight and grubby. I prepared properly this time and made sure that I wore very minimal makeup (just a smidge of foundation), took it off about 2 hours into the flight and applied the Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate*. It smells absolutely divine and you only need a little bit to apply to the whole face to help nourish and rebalance your skin. I also rolled a bit onto my hands and just breathed it in, I found it helped me to relax and get a little bit of sleep before we landed into Sanford.

Like I said, my holiday skincare regime is simple but really effective. I'm now back in England and my skin is looking better than it's looked for years. I daresay the sun and relaxation helped too but these products really agree with my skin which is nice, I hate using something that breaks me out, but I haven't seen any signs of a spot all holiday!

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Monday, 26 May 2014

DD+ Swimwear with Boux Avenue

As you can imagine, with my weight loss came a new found confidence for my holiday; I could go shopping and literally pick anything I liked off the shelves because I knew there'd be a size to fit. Bikini shopping used to be really quite tiresome for me, I never thought I looked nice in anything so even the prettiest styles were wasted on me. However, no matter what size I've been I've always liked Boux Avenue lingerie and swimwear.

Luckily for me, there's a store pretty local to me in Meadowhall and I've always found the service in there second to none. I've had bra fittings in department stores etc. but they just don't match up to what you get in Boux Avenue. Everything in store is luxury, the layout, the smell, the fitting rooms and the service you receive, my husband came with me when I bought the bikini I'm featuring today and even he said it was the nicest shop he'd ever walked in (and he usually hates shopping!).

No matter how many times I buy from Boux Avenue I always try things before I buy, not only because I want to know they fit but also because I love their fitting rooms. They're so beautifully decorated and the lovely Boux Avenue ladies are always on hand at the push of a button to come and help with any fitting questions or general advice... and I won't lie I do like the fact that you can change the lighting in your own individual fitting room.


Regular fitting rooms and stores in general are known for having awful fluorescent lighting, however Boux Avenue give you 3 lighting options when you're trying on their gorgeous pieces: day, dusk and night because let's be honest you're very rarely in the cold light of day when you've just got your smalls on so you want to see how someone else (ie. your significant other) sees you. Because on this particular occasion I was trying on a bikini, I used the day setting but usually I use the dusk lighting which is much more forgiving and for me shows what I have in the best light possible.

Anyway... onto what I bought, I took in pretty much the whole of their DD+ collection of bikinis into the changing room because I just couldn't narrow it down. I'm a 36F so the theory that 'all big bikinis/lingerie are ugly' is blown totally out of the water because the choice in Boux Avenue really is big, meaning that there's something for everyone.

After spending at least 20 minutes trying on and deciding, I eventually settled on a beautiful red and white polka dot bikini with a halter neck and short style bottoms. It reminded me of Minnie Mouse, and seeing as I was going to the land of the mouse, how could I not choose this one?!


It was packaged beautifully which just adds to the total luxury that you get when shopping with Boux Avenue (you also get this gorgeous packaging if you order online) and it has their signature scent which you can smell when you take it out of the bag when you get home.


Santa Barbara Spot Bikini Top (£28) & Santa Barbara Spot Bikini Shorts (£16)

I personally much prefer shorts to bikini briefs because I just find them more comfortable, I also think that halter necks are most flattering on me because they give me the support I need without thick straps. The design of the Santa Barbara bikini reminds me of a retro pin-up style; something that Marilyn Monroe would wear. It's both comfortable and flattering whilst giving me full support and even a bit of a cleavage boost (not that I need much of one with my sizable chest!). 

Before I lost weight I would always air on the bigger side of things when buying any kind of clothing, swimwear or lingerie, but after having a proper fitting at Boux Avenue I actually found out that I was wearing a cup size smaller than I should have been but a back size bigger than I thought I was! So I was thinking I was a 38E when really I was a 36F, when I tried this on it fit so much better than any other bikini I had. It fit flush to my body in all areas so I could tell that it was a good fit, it also made my boobs look pretty good (even though I say so myself) because they were properly supported and not in a bra that was far too big!

Although this bikini was £44 altogether it was totally worth it, if there's one thing I think you shouldn't scrimp on its good fitting bras and bikinis. Wearing bras/bikinis which don't fit properly can be uncomfortable and potentially damaging to your body so if you haven't been measured for a while (or at all) Boux Avenue would be a great place to start, I can't praise their service enough especially in their Meadowhall store.

Boux Avenue cater for a wide range of sizes; from 30A up to a 40G in some styles and their knickers go up to a size 20. They also do shapewear, nightwear, hosiery and bridal bits... gah! I could honestly spend a fortune on their pieces, I love their Tori bras and I have my eye on their Fleure Floral Longline bra... so beautiful!

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*The Santa Barbara Bikini was part paid for with a complimentary voucher from Boux Avenue, the rest was paid for with my own money.
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Sunday, 25 May 2014

What I used: sun care

If you follow me on Twitter you'll know that I've just got back home from an amazing two week holiday in Florida, it gave me the opportunity to give lots of sun care products a thorough test. I don't use low factor products because I end up burning and it totally spoils my holiday, my absolute must haves for any holiday are a good facial SPF which doesn't make me greasy, an easy to apply one for my body which doesn't take an age to rub in, a lotion which I can use to target sensitive areas (such as moles) and finally some really good after sun products to stop my skin getting dry. 

So I took 5 products with me (strategically placed next to the pool in the above photo), everything I used this holiday was SPF factor 50; I get the impression that some people are under the illusion that factor 50 is only for children... in short, it's not.
 
First up there's Nivea Sun Protect and Refresh Invisible Spray* (£8.00), this is non-oily and quickly absorbed without any stickiness or white residue. It's so easy to apply, a couple of sprays and a quick rub and you're all set; it offers high UVA and UVB protection as soon as it's applied. It's easy and convenient to reapply during the day as you wish to and it did the trick for me; the main areas where I would usually burn (shoulders and chest) were absolutely fine all holiday.
I took 2 Eucerin SPF facial lotions; a mattifying one and a regular sun creme. I didn't actually use the sun creme on my face as I thought it would be too much for my oily skin, instead I used it on areas which I feel are more sensitive to the sun such as moles (I'm always really worried that they're going to turn into something sinister). The Eucerin SPF 50 mattifying fluid* (£16.00) is much lighter than the creme, doesn't leave any oiliness and it didn't break me out (I can pretty much guarantee that I'll break out in spots if I use regular sun protection on my face); for this reason it's especially good for combination/oily, acne prone skin. Eucerin SPF Face creme* (£16.00) is a lot thicker in consistency and takes a little longer to rub into the skin but it doesn't stay white for long and it didn't leave any residue on the areas that I used it. Eucerin is gentle enough to be used by those with skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis or those who have had minor peeling or laser treatments... the fact that it's perfume free means that it is suitable for even the most sensitive skin. 

If you are interested in any Eucerin sun products, you should probably wait till 1st June to buy them from Escentual because they'll have 1/3 off all French Pharmacy products!
Now onto after sun. I had two types, one which you use in the shower and an old favourite: an aloe vera one. The Nivea In Shower After Sun Lotion* (£4.13) is much the same as the Nivea In Shower Moisturiser that I use when at home; you wash as you normally would and then slather this on, gently massaging it into your skin as you go. I used this every single day after being in the sun and it kept my skin soft and moisturised without feeling sticky or having to wait for it to absorb before putting clothes on... these in shower products really are a saviour for anyone who hasn't got time to properly moisturise. 
 
No matter where I go on holiday I always take some kind of aloe vera gel with me because I think it does the best job at cooling and soothing any skin irritation quickly. The Banana Boat Aloe Vera Gel (£2.98) is an absolute bargain at the moment in Superdrug and it really does the trick for me, although I didn't burn while I was in Florida, I got bitten a few times and I had some minor irritation and dryness on my legs from shaving so I covered them in this and it felt better within five minutes of application. I would recommend this to anyone because it really does come in handy for all sorts of skin complaints.
So there we go, this is exactly what I took on holiday with me for sun protection and after sun care, is there a certain brand that you use time and time again or do you switch it up all the time?
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Monday, 5 May 2014

Facial & Skin Consultation at Kiehls, Meadowhall

Who knew that you could go for a facial-break whilst shopping in Meadowhall Sheffield? I sure didn't until I was invited for a complimentary treatment at the Kiehl's counter in House of Fraser. You can't really miss the Kiehl's counter when you walk into Meadowhall House of Fraser; it's on the first floor on the left hand side just as you walk through the door. They're known for their clean, no nonsense packaging so their little area within the beauty hall reflects this...







Tucked inside the first floor of House of Fraser there is a little treatment room which is booked out by various brands within the store to offer their customers treatments using their products. I was greeted by a lovely lady called Hannah and led to their cosy little room to talk about my skin; my current regime and any issues that I have. I explained that I cleanse every single night and every morning (with two different cleansers) and I always moisturise... if I'm in a rush and there's a step I miss out it'll be toner. Obviously as most of you know my main skin issues are that I am very blemish prone and I have an oily t-zone but quite dehydrated cheeks so this can make choosing skincare a bit of a problem.

After my little consultation the facial began, everything about it was so relaxing from the facial massage to the smell of the products and the tranquil surroundings (quite hard to believe that there was a bustling shopping centre literally metres away!). I could tell that Hannah was trained well; she knew what she was talking about and her technique was very good. I won't lie, I was so relaxed I almost fell asleep on more than one occasion! 

Obviously she chose the products to use based on what I had previously told her about my skin and this is what she came up with:

PREPARATION
- Blue herbal gel cleanser 
- Ultra facial oil free cleanser
- Calendula herbal extract toner
- Pineapple Papaya facial scrub

TREAT
- Rare earth deep pore cleansing masque
- Clearly corrective solution
- Ultra facial oil free lotion
- Powerful wrinkle reducing eye cream

PROTECT & REPLENISH
- Ultra light daily defence (SPF 50)
- Midnight Recovery Concentrate (recommended for night time use)

 Throughout the experience I never felt pressured into buying any products, it was very relaxed and I felt like Hannah was genuinely trying to help me in her recommendations (rather than just using hard selling techniques which can be very off-putting). Of course there were products which stood out to me more than others and in this case it has to be the Ultra Facial oil free cleanser and lotion as well as the Midnight Recovery Concentrate. 

The Midnight Recovery might come as a bit of a surprise because it's an intensive oil treatment; the comment misconception is that if you have oily skin you shouldn't use oil but I think the reason why I have blemishes on my cheeks is because over the past year or so I've stripped my skin of its natural oils on my cheeks meaning the sebaceous glands have gone into overdrive and caused breakouts. You only need a couple of drops of Midnight Recovery for your whole face because it's such an intensive treatment, however, it doesn't leave any oily residue at all in fact it actually feels more like a dry oil.

The facial costs £30 and lasts around an hour, but you can use the £30 to redeem against any purchase which makes the facial and skin consultation free - bargain! If you are struggling for a gift idea for anyone then I'd strongly recommend something like a voucher for a facial at Kiehl's because it can be incorporated into a days shopping and you could find your holy grail skincare product!

Have you ever had a treatment like this while you've been shopping?


*This was a complimentary treatment, this however does not affect my judgement, go and meet Hannah and the lovely Kiehls ladies for yourself, they're ace!

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Thursday, 1 May 2014

Accessorising with Kate Spade

I'm not one for worrying about getting hit by a bus because I haven't got matching underwear on, yet it would seem that I like to match the colour of my nails with my phone case! Let's be fair if you had a gorgeous phone case like this one, you might consider a little bit of hand-phone co-ordination.

Kate Spade case for iPhone 5s £29.95*

If you're familiar with the little spade logo at the bottom of the case then you'll know that it's by New York fashion designer Kate Spade. If you've been reading for a while then you'll know that I don't own a designer bag or a pair of designer shoes (I generally just spend time browsing them but never actually committing to buy), I prefer to spend less money but still have a few designer bits in my collection like my Marc Jacobs earphones. This particular case is for an iPhone 5s but you can obviously buy all sorts of nice designer cases for different phones. £30 might seem quite expensive for a phone case but you can tell how good the quality is; usually a case is just a piece of plastic which clips to the back of the phone but this one has a rubbery band which also goes around the phone to protect it to act as a kind of 'cushioning', like I've said time and time again, you get what you pay for!
The nail polish I teamed with the phone case colours is 'Lychee' from the Barry M Gelly paints collection, a gorgeous hi-shine nude shade which goes with most things no matter what season, and it's only £3.99 a bottle!

Do you own any designer pieces?

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