Saturday, 24 October 2015

EXPENSIVE MISTAKES

Going on about how much you love something is one thing but I think there's just as much value (if not more) in saying that something hasn't worked for you, especially if you feel as if you're in the minority as I do in this case! I don't write too many negative reviews, I often think that leaving things unsaid is as good as a negative review but in this case I wanted to give my 2p because there are so many rave reviews out there of these particular products.


Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray £9.00
Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara £19.00
Dior Star Foundation £32.50


Honestly, it does break my heart a little bit when I spend money on something high end and it doesn't work out for me, although it does tell me that 'you get what you pay for' doesn't always apply. These three products cost me over £60 which isn't the kind of money I can afford to be laying out to not like the product but I guess you win some, you lose some.

Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray - Rather than actually hating this product I have more of a 'meh' feeling towards it; it just doesn't really do a lot for me. I've been using it to try and prolong my makeup during the day rather than on a night but it just doesn't seem to be doing its job. Maybe I picked the wrong one? Maybe 'de-slick' would have been a better option given my oily skin, even my husband mentioned that my face looked oily the other day so it must have been bad! All I can say is I'm glad I bought the smaller sized bottle.

Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara - What annoys me more about this product is that I recommended it to my step-sister because I'd seen so many people rave about it but it turns out that I don't actually think it's that great! The first time I opened it I wiped all the excess product off the wand because there seems to be a heck of a lot on there to begin with but it still didn't make any difference because after that every time I took the wand from the tube it was caked in product making it really difficult to apply it evenly. Unless you've got time to use this really carefully it clumps really easily and is just generally hard to use. 

Dior Star Foundation - Unfortunately with this I fell victim of another beauty counter advisor advising me against what I originally went to buy (which I'd used before!) and I stupidly went along with her and came home with a product that was a shade darker than I would have liked, it doesn't give me the coverage I wanted and there's no real oil control at all. It'd be more suited for someone who just wants to even out their skin tone, I need to cover blemishes and this just doesn't have the ability I don't think. 



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Friday, 23 October 2015

PROSECCO COCKTAILS & PROSECCO CRISPS

I went round to my friends house the other night for a candle party (the best kind!) and just to have a bit of a wind down after a hectic week. I went round armed with drinks and was nicely helped out by Aperol and the ingredients of their Aperol Spritz cocktail. It's actually really simple to make; only 3 ingredients and no shaking required you just pour and drink! It does say to use a larger glass but because I didn't have one at hand I used a champagne flute...

- 3 parts Prosecco
- 2 parts Aperol
- 1 splash of soda

So it really is as easy as 3, 2, 1! 



If you didn't already know, Aperol is an Italian Aperitif, bright orange in colour and with a unique bitter orange kind of taste. It pairs really well with Prosecco because it makes a really refreshing drink without being sickly sweet as some cocktails are; I really enjoyed it because it gave my usual drink a bit of a different edge. The ease of actually making the cocktail is a winner for me too because there's so many out there which involve buying 5 or 6 different ingredients whereas you can get the ingredients for this for under £25 and your bottle of Aperol would still last a fair while.

Along with some nibbles like the funky crisps we had (like the Tesco Finest Prosecco and Elderberry flavour), Aperol Spritz is the perfect cocktail to bring along to your friend's house!

Have you tried Aperol Spritz?


ALWAYS DRINK RESPONSIBLY
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Monday, 19 October 2015

HEALTHY EATING TECH YOU NEED IN YOUR LIFE

Obviously you can follow most healthy eating plans without the aid of any kitchen appliances (aside from a kettle, an oven and possibly a microwave) but there are some which make life quite a bit easier. 

You've probably already heard of the Tefal Actifry, I've had mine for 3 years and I've made countless batches of Slimming World chips in it because it saves so much messing around. Without an Actifry, Slimming World chips involve par-boiling then oven baking and turning and I still don't think they turn out as good. Obviously chips aren't the only thing you can cook in an Actifry but that's the main thing I use it for.


It's so easy, you just cut your potatoes in to chip strips (I always leave the skin on because I'm extra lazy), spray them with Frylight, add whatever seasoning you like (in my case this time it was salt and cajun seasoning) and then set them to cook for around 35 mins for a full load. The Actifry turns them periodically and cooks them to perfection, I don't even know what it does to them but it's bloomin' good. The timer tells you when the time is up and you just serve them straight from the bowl. 

The newest addition to my kitchen is the Tefal OptiGrill* which is ideal for cooking all different kinds of meats and you can also grill potatoes and vegetables on it. On the face of things it looks a bit like a George Forman grill but trust me, it's so much more...



The Tefal OptiGrill uses sensors to identify the thickness of the meat and adjusts the cooking time accordingly. There are 6 different meat settings (burgers, poultry, bacon, sausages, red meats and bacon) as well as a setting for frozen foods and a manual temperature setting. To begin cooking you just select your desired setting, leave it to pre-heat then add your product, close the plates and leave it too cook how you like it. It identifies and adapts to the thickness of whatever you put between the plates and cooks it to perfection.

At each stage the OptiGrill tells you that it's complete and the indicator light changes colour accordingly. I'm so impressed by the whole thing and how easy it is; just being able to pop stuff in there and taking it out when it's cooked perfectly suits me down to the ground. I've managed to ruin so much food by over cooking it and not turning it when it's under the normal grill but this cooks everything evenly on both sides and leaves all the flavour in there. The fat drains into the drip tray at the bottom (although in SW Burgers case, there's very little fat). 

I thought that frozen burgers would be a test of how well this cooked things as it's so easy to char frozen foods whilst leaving the middle still cold. To set it going on the appropriate setting I pressed the 'frozen' button then the 'burger' button and then pressed 'OK', after the pre-heating stage it was good to go and after trusting it to cook the burger to 'medium' without looking at it once I lifted the top plate to reveal a perfectly cooked through burger which was juicy and flavoursome. I didn't add any oil or even Frylight as the plates are non-stick and the burgers didn't show any signs of sticking at all. The best thing about this is that if you can't fit everything on one cooking you don't have to wait for it to cool completely and reheat you just set it to pre-heat again (which doesn't take long at all) and do the cycle once more (one cycle of cooking should be enough for between 2 and 4 people depending on portion size). 

I was a little concerned about the cleaning process as I remember that my old George Foreman didn't come apart very well to allow for it but this is the total opposite; the plates unclip easily and can be washed in a dishwasher or manually as long as you don't use abrasive scrubbers.

I'm so impressed with this gadget and I would honestly recommend it to anyone regardless of whether you're healthy eating or not because it's just so easy to use and it produces such tasty meat! It retails at only £100 from Debenhams and I would say that it's well worth it, especially if you struggle to know when meat is cooked because this does all the hard work for you! 

Do you fancy either of these healthy eating gadgets?

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Sunday, 18 October 2015

AN ODE TO BATH & BODY WORKS

Ah Bath & Body Works, the elusive store which has all us British women lusting over their products, but I've been lucky enough to get myself over to America recently armed with my list of most wanted products (with a baggage allowance in mind, of course). If it's your first time in Bath & Body Works you might want to set aside an hour or so out of your day to immerse yourself in all it's fragrant goodness, seriously there's so many different products and scents it'll take you a while to take it all in. I spent a good amount of time on the website before I went to America so I could get an idea of what I wanted because it's so easy to get carried away in there, without further ado this is what I picked up on my last trip:

 Travel Sized Fine Fragrance Mist 3 for $12

I got some full sized versions of these last year and still haven't got through those but I couldn't resist getting some of these smaller versions in some more autumn-y kinds of smells. I've started using Marshmallow Pumpkin Latte already and it smells beautiful and they last surprisingly well considering they're just like a body spray.  


Hand Sanitizers 5 for $6

I know there are lots of people who are obsessed with these and you can buy them on eBay for a little more than they retail for in a store but I decided to grab 10 while I could. You may have noticed that they've changed the bottle to a shorter, wider design which I actually think is better because the product seems to be easier to get out. The Cocoa Mint is a particular favourite of mine but I'm going to try and save it until December to use around the festive period.

 Marshmallow Pumpkin Latte Shower Gel $12.50
Black Cherry Merlot & Marshmallow Pumpkin Latte Hand Soap $6.50 each

I totally missed out on some great deals with these, I should have got 2 more shower gels which would have meant that they worked out at just over $8 each and I could have got 4 hand soaps for $18 but because I bought them on separate trips to the shop I never took advantage of the deals. Which is why you should always have time to browse or have a very good idea of what you would like! The foaming hand soap is lovely to use, it's very gentle on your skin and they both smell incredible.

Scentportable Fragrance Refills 4 for $10

A Scentportable is a clip on base for these little cartridges, they're great for fragrancing cars or other small spaces and you can get them in lots of different designs. I can see that I'll be buying more refills on my next trip!

Black Cherry Merlot 3 Wick Candle $22.50

I've never actually owned a 3 wick candle before so when I saw that they were actually on special at 2 for $25 I got one for myself and one for my friend who wanted a 'Leaves' one so they worked out at an even better price. The fragrance is powerful enough to fill a room and it has a clean burn which can last between 24-45 hours, I'd definitely get another one of these. 

So isn't it about time you came to the UK, Bath & Body Works? I hate having to bulk buy all my favourite stuff!

What would be on your Bath & Body Works wish list?



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Saturday, 17 October 2015

OCTOBER BLOGGER BEAUTY BOX

If you haven't already heard, Blogger Beauty Box is a monthly box with contents sourced by one of our very own beauty bloggers: Vix Meldrew. She works very hard to try and get the best brands, both new and existing, to get involved with the box and it's only £10 delivered which is at least £2-3 cheaper than other beauty boxes on the market. But just because it's cheaper don't think that quality has been compromised, this month (October) the box contained 3 full sized products and 2 deluxe samples which I think is fab. 


Blogger Beauty Box, £10 (find out more details)

Puriskin Resurfacing Formula - I was quite excited when I saw this in the box because it mentions the ability to help improve the appearance of skin which has been damaged by acne, stretch marks, burns etc. I make no secret of the fact that I suffer with acne (both active and scarring) on my face and back (at almost 25 I do wish it would do one!!) and I have weight gain stretch marks so I'm looking forward to seeing what this can do.

Elizabeth Grant Supreme Essence of Torricelumn - Not gonna lie, I'm a bit confused as to what this actually is; it says to apply before moisturiser which makes me think that it's a serum. It claims to have powerful anti-ageing properties which I know should be something I should probably start thinking about but in all honesty I don't think this will be for me unfortunately. 

John Gosnell's The Original Vitamin E Cream - The design of the little tub was the first thing that drew me to it; it's got a retro feel to it, simple and no fuss. On first impressions the cream is really light, easily absorbed by the skin and has a subtle but pleasant fragrance. I'll definitely be giving this a proper test run, fingers crossed my skin agrees with it!

Xenca Perfection Lipstick - The packaging of this reminds me of Tarte lipsticks, it's kind of like strong cardboard which is quite fitting as Xenca is an organic brand. The colour 'Candy' really isn't my shade, as you can probably imagine it's a light pink which isn't something I'll ever wear which is a shame because the pigmentation and formula of the lipstick is actually quite nice. 

P&G Organic Facial Cleansing Oil - Another natural and organic product this cleansing oil is packed with peach kernal, sweet orange and lavender and smells beautiful. A little obviously goes a long way and it's easy to apply with the dropper, I reckon this will be another product I'll have a go with because I've ready reviews which say that it helped to calm their acne down!

In terms of value for money I'm very impressed with the Blogger Beauty Box and I think Vix does so well to curate so many products from a wide range of brands. Obviously not all the products in the box impressed me but isn't that what monthly boxes are all about; finding out what you do/don't like?! 

If you fancy receiving a box then all you need to do is follow the Blogger Beauty Box Twitter and look out for the announcement, the November box is available now and there's not many left so get one while you can!

Do you think you'll treat yourself to next month's box?

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Friday, 16 October 2015

YOOHOO! MAIL STATIONARY BOX

I've always been a little bit obsessed with nice stationary; I always made sure I had nice note books for college and university and a new set of pens still gives me a sense of excitement that only a stationary lover can understand. So when I heard about YooHoo mail stationary boxes I knew I had to try one for myself; YooHoo mail is run by a lovely lady called Gemma who designs every piece which lands in the monthly boxes so it's nice to know that some real thought and effort has gone into these and you can really tell with the quality of the stationary. 

Each monthly box contains a mystery selection of creative paper products from greetings cards and art prints to gift tags and colouring-in prints. So naturally, I was excited to see what would be in October's box which came through my letterbox just recently...




What I think I love most about this months box is that I've been able to fill my emergency card drawer with some beautiful greetings cards. I'm a bit rubbish at remembering birthdays and just sending cards for occasions in general so I always end up taking a trip to the late night supermarket and paying over the odds for a bog-standard card so to know that I'll have some actually nice back ups for the next upcoming birthdays is really handy. 

The postcards probably won't be used in the strictest sense of actually sending them anywhere, I actually prefer them as decorative pieces. You could easily pop them into a frame and use them as typography art for your wall. Every piece is printed on beautiful quality card and paper and all the designs are eye catching and unique; I think a stationary box is such a good idea because chances are you'll actually use most if not all of the contents.

You can either buy a one off box for £12 + £2 P&P (£5 for outside the UK) or you can get a 3 month subscription for £36 with free P&P and you can also send it directly to someone as a gift. You can still get October's box which is the one I received or you can wait until 7th November and order a brand new mystery box. There's also greetings cards and art prints available to buy on the YooHoo! Mail website, my personal favourite is this one, no need to ask why! 

Is a stationary box something you'd be interested in?

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Monday, 28 September 2015

THINGS I WISH I'D HAVE DONE WHEN I WAS YOUNGER

I've always tried to pride myself on having no regrets, I've always said that I've done things my way and that's been the only way for me, I've often not taken advice because I've been adamant that I need to make my own mistakes. But I'm nearly 25 and I've finally realised that there are probably some times when I should have taken advice...



I wish I'd gone out more - Freshers week should be the time in your life when you can just go out every single night and not feel one bit of guilt about it, however I was on tablets for a latent form of tuberculosis which meant that I couldn't drink any alcohol at all so Freshers was a bit of a drag for me because it was like being at work; being surrounded by drunk people while I was totally sober. Even after I came off the tablets I didn't really go out much because I felt totally out of my comfort zone, I'd put weight on and I just didn't feel confident at all, which brings me to my second point...

I wish I'd never put weight on - Obviously we all know how nice pizza and chocolate tastes but when it becomes your staple diet along with copious amounts of red bull and full sugar coke, obviously your waistband is going to suffer. I put on 2 stone between September and December 2009 and I just kept putting more and more weight on as the years went by. It made me unhappy, I totally lacked confidence and I basically became a hermit for 3-4 years until I eventually started Slimming World in 2013. I know everything happens for a reason but I really do wish I'd not put all that weight on, I would have probably gone out more and I wouldn't be left with horrid stretch marks!

I wish I'd had braces - When I was 13 I was told that I needed braces, which was fine but the only snag was that I would need 4 teeth out. The thought of having teeth out without just a local anaesthetic absolutely scared the living daylights out of me but now in my adult life I really wish I'd have got some braces when I was young and now I'd have nice straight teeth. Instead, I now really need to consider paying to have something like Invisalign braces from the Centre for Advanced Dentistry Yorkshire to correct my teeth because I don't think normal braces would look great in adult life!

I wish I'd concentrated more at college - I could have definitely got better grades at college which would have stood me in a position to apply for better university courses. I really wanted a B in History but instead I ended up with a C because I was lazy and didn't concentrate anywhere near as much as I should have; I never really revised and just did the bare minimum really.

I wish I'd done a different degree - Retail Marketing Management is all well and good but I feel like it restricts me so much now as to what jobs I can consider doing. Although I learned a lot of transferable skills during the course I wish I'd have had more time to think about it and thought about it in a more rational way to give me more options. If I could do it all again I'd probably do a History degree because I'd now love to be able to teach it but alas! I can't because I don't have the right degree!

Are there any things you wish you'd have done differently?

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Sunday, 27 September 2015

3 FILMS YOU NEED TO SEE IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY

You may remember that way back in January I confessed that I had a massive crush on Denzel Washington and because one of his most famous films was on TV the other night I decided I wanted bring you 3 of the best films I've ever seen which just happen to have the man himself as the leading role.


Flight (£3.00, Amazon- The beginning of this film puts Denzel's character, Whip Whitaker, into a less than favourable light as he wakes up next to a very attractive young lady, snorts a line of coke and steps out of his hotel room in his pilot uniform. Using drink and drugs to feel 'level headed' he sets off on a fateful journey from Orlando to Atlanta when the plane malfunctions and he is forced to make a crash landing which, however skilful, still ends in the loss of life and serious injury. His blood is tested and comes back positive for alcohol and drugs so the investigation begins to determine whether Whip will serve a sentence in prison for manslaughter. Strangely enough, this also turns into a bit of a love story too, it's well worth a watch (even though Piers Morgan manages to get his head in at one point!). For all you Netflixers it's on there for your Denzel viewing pleasure.

Man on Fire (£3.00, Amazon) - This was probably the first film I watched with good old Denz in it and I remember absolutely crying my eyes out. If you've never heard of it, it's centred around the kidnapping of a young girl in Mexico City and Denzel plays the role of John Creasy, an ex-CIA agent who lost his way in life, who was hired to protect her . When she's taken he sets upon killing each and every person who was involved in her kidnapping. It's a classical gritty, good vs. bad kind of film that tugs at your heart strings on more than one occasion. Rotten Tomatoes have only rated it 2/5 so I can only come to the conclusion that they have no idea what they're on about. 

The Equalizer (£5.00, Amazon- I think this one has to take the title for my favourite ever Denzel Washington film. Released in 2014, he plays a somewhat mysterious character with a form of OCD and an apparent sleeping problem who meets a working girl who he quickly realises is involved with set of Russian gangsters. You can imagine how the story goes as he goes from a quiet reserved man to showing off his particular set of skills to help the girl out of her situation and bring the Russians to justice. It keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout and ends in the most spectacular way, involving Denzel and a set of DIY tools. 

Do you have a favourite Denzel Washington film?

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Saturday, 26 September 2015

SLIMMING WORLD ONION BHAJI LOAF RECIPE

Who doesn't love a good onion bhaji, especially on a Saturday night?! There are obviously healthier choices on an Indian takeaway menu but there is a way that you can be 100% Syn free but still enjoy Indian food. For your main meal you could have a Slimming World Chicken Tikka Ready Meal and either as a side or a starter you could have some of this onion bhaji loaf with a yoghurt and mint dip...


Onion Bhaji Loaf
Ingredients:
- 1 tin of Asda 'Chosen by You' Chickpea Dahl (make sure it's Asda, don't substitute it without checking the Syns first because some brands are quite high in Syns!)
- 1 Packet of Bachelors Mild Curry Savoury Rice (if you can find the old style packaging in somewhere like Pound World or B&M Stores buy that, otherwise the new version which you'll find in normal supermarkets is actually 1.5 syns for the pack)
- 3 onions, sliced
- 3 eggs

Method:
- Cook the rice as directed on the packet
- In the meantime fry the onion in Fry Light until soft & pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees
- Beat 3 eggs and add the Chickpea Dahl and rice and mix together
- Transfer into a loaf tin and put in the middle of the oven for 40 mins
- Slice and serve (you can eat it warm or cold!)


Yoghurt & Mint Dip
Ingredients:
- Fat free natural yoghurt
- Colman's Fresh Garden Mint Concentrate

Method
- To be honest you can experiment and do this to your own taste, I just emptied the pot of yoghurt into a ramekin and added the mint concentrate to taste.

As I say you can eat the onion bhaji loaf hot or cold so it's perfect to serve as part of a meal or as a something to snack on, I enjoy it either way and it's so easy to make which is a bonus!

Is Onion Bhaji Loaf something you'll be trying?

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Friday, 25 September 2015

PERRICONE MD NO CONCEALER CONCEALER REVIEW

Perricone MD has been a brand that I've been wanting to get my hands on for a while now, so when I finally got to try something from their No Makeup Skincare range I was proper excited to see what it was like. 

The idea behind the No Makeup Skincare range is that it isn't about just putting a blanket colour on top of your skin, it's about giving you a better version of your own skin by brightening and diffusing imperfections. It's versatile enough to be able to use to conceal, prime and highlight whilst also providing a high factor of sun protection (SPF 35).

Perricone MD No Concealer Concealer* £29.00 (Beauty Expert)

It comes in a simple but classic metallic looking tube with a traditional doe-foot applicator, Perricone MD is all about the science behind good products rather than presenting them in fussy packaging and I think this reflects that perfectly. 

The first thing that strikes me about this concealer is that it has quite a strong smell to it which I'm not used to in makeup products; it smells medicated but that does disappear when you've applied it. The consistency is silky and not too thick so it is perfect for using around the eyes and on spots which may have gone a bit dry. The fact that it's 'one fits all' won't appeal to everyone obviously but for my skin colour it's pretty good, I just can't use it for highlighting because I don't think it's light enough. 

I actually have found that my favourite use for this is as an eye primer, because it's silky smooth and provides a really good base for eye shadow. I have tried it for covering blemishes but the coverage just isn't enough for me especially when I'm having a bad day although as I say it works brilliantly around the eyes for dark circles and also for concealing minor imperfections. 

It's by no means cheap at £29.00 but it's skincare and anti-ageing properties makes it much more than a regular concealer and it's versatile enough to do a number of different jobs in your makeup routine so when you look at it like that it's actually quite good value and there's actually 18% off on the Beauty Expert Website today with the code BEAUTY18

Do you have a favourite high-end concealer?

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Thursday, 24 September 2015

ALL GOOD THINGS COME TO AN END

I love empties posts, because it's alright telling everyone how good a product is but what better way to show that you liked it than to show the empty bottle. I for one wouldn't carry on using something I really hated so here's what's ended up empty in my house over the past month or so...


The Body Shop Raspberry Shower Gel - Unfortunately this isn't available anymore because it was part of one of their limited edition collections but I really hope they bring something similar out because this smelt so nice. I'm not keen on the Body Shop bottle design because I find them really hard to squeeze and getting the last bits of product out can be a real pain but the product itself is really nice!

The Body Shop Banana Conditioner (£4.50) - I really wanted to try out the shampoo as well but they are constantly out of stock of the banana hair range so I just had to grab what I could because I'd heard such good things about it. Again, this smells incredible, proper banana-ery. It's not cheap by any means at £4.50 but this really is gorgeous and does a decent job of conditioning my hair so it's definitely worth picking up if you can get a bit of discount! There's actually 40% off on the Body Shop website at the moment so it's well worth a look especially for picking up essentials like this.

Soap & Glory One Heck of a Blot (£12.00) - This has been a bit of a saviour for me in the humid weather because my oily skin goes into overdrive so this has helped to keep my makeup on for just that little bit longer without looking really shiny. Quite sad to see this go but I'm going to use up the rest of my Rimmel Stay Matte and then decide where to go from there because although I do like Soap & Glory's answer to a finishing powder I still want to see what else is out there. 

Label M Rejuvenating Oil Mist* (£21.20) - You might remember me talking about this at the beginning of August when I'd been using it a couple of weeks and I declared my love for it because it's very good for damaged hair like mine. It's lasted around 2 months even though it's not a massive bottle so the price tag doesn't seem too bad when you put it like that. I would recommend this to anyone who finds normal oil products too heavy; because this is a spray it distributes the product more evenly without weighing down your hair. 

What have you finished lately?

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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Wrapping Up Wish List

I'm all about the layers this autumn/winter season and I've been on the lookout for a nice cape/poncho for a couple of weeks now because they're so versatile. I had one a couple of years ago and wore it to death so I'm so pleased they're back this season. I want one that's not going to resemble a picnic blanket too much and one that's going to go with a number of different outfits while keeping me warm and not being too hard to keep on my shoulders. Sounds like I'm quite specific doesn't it? Well these are the ones that I've found just recently and I can't decide which to go for...



1. Madam Rage High Neck Poncho £26.00 (New Look) | 2. Knitted Navajo Strip Wrap £30.00 (Oasis) | 3. Dark Grey Roll Neck Fringe Hem Poncho £24.99 (New Look) | 4. Black Stripe Poncho £22.99 (New Look) | 5. Grey Cable Poncho £60.00 (Warehouse) | 6. Vanessa Check Oversized Cape £18.00 (Boohoo) | 7. Checked Colour Block Wrap £16.00 (Tesco) | 8. Colour Block Cape £30.00 (Warehouse)


Which one would you choose?


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Monday, 21 September 2015

Easy Ways To Make Your Bedroom More Luxurious

With winter on its way, now's the time to take luxury to the next level in your bedroom. While temperatures may be set to take a tumble, some simple additions to your sleeping space will ensure you stay snug and comfy this chilly season. 


Top your bed with a feather and down duvet - For sheer indulgence, it's hard to beat a feather and down duvet. This natural filling is effective at trapping the heat of your body, helping to keep you warm on even the iciest nights. Meanwhile, because they're so airy, these duvets are surprisingly lightweight, even if you go for a high tog. Bear in mind though, if you're prone to allergies, you may be better off opting for a micro-fibre filled duvet instead. This bedding is similar to traditional feather and down designs, but, as soft furnishing specialist Julian Charles highlights, it is anti-allergenic. Whichever duvet you decide to go for, make sure you encase it in a soft, sumptuous cover. 

Treat your feet with a high pile rug - If you have wooden floors or your carpet's looking a little threadbare, a quick fix for winter is to position a high pile rug underfoot. As well as being much cheaper than laying an entire carpet, this transformation to your flooring is simple and takes a matter of moments to complete. As a general rule, the thicker and softer the rug, the better. For the ultimate in cosiness, consider buying a sheepskin or faux sheepskin rug. Watch out though, if you're placing it on top of wood, make sure you add a strip of anti-slip material or rug underlay to ensure the new addition to your room doesn't slide around each time you stand on it

Layer your lighting - Nothing can sap the feeling of luxury out of a bedroom quite like bright, harsh lights. So, if you rely on one main illumination in your room, now could be the time to make some changes. Firstly, if you don't already have them, try installing dimmer switches on your ceiling and wall lights, and think about adding at least a couple of lamps with different watt bulbs. This will help to ensure you can set the perfect ambiance in your room, whatever your mood. 

Light some scented candles - Last but not least, why not introduce some scented candles to this space? The reassuring flicker of these small flames can bring an instant feeling of warmth, and you can choose from an array of fragrances that are perfect for winter. Perhaps you'd like to fill your room with the scent of spices like star anise, nutmeg or cloves, or for a hit of nature you could opt for pine needles, fruits or flowers.

With a little imagination, there are plenty of ways to make your room more luxurious. The best thing is, as long as you know what you're doing, you can revamp your bedroom even on the smallest budget. 


*Guest Post from Julian Charles
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Friday, 18 September 2015

My Guilty Pleasure

Has anyone ever felt victimised by the face wipe haters?

*raises hand*

If your answer was yes then I'm here to tell you that you're not alone in your love of face wipes. We're told time and time again by beauty and skincare gurus that face wipes are bad, they're the root of all evil and you should only swipe your backside with them not allow them anywhere near your face. I'm here to tell you that if they work for you, stop feeling guilty about using them.



I struggle with my skin, I make no secret of that but I can have breakouts whether I've got the most stringent skincare routine with 4323 steps or I've just been wiping with a couple of face wipes. And although I can totally see why bloggers don't advocate the use of face wipes as part of a skincare routine, I honestly don't think they should be like a swear word in the community!

There are times in my life when I just do not have the patience for doing a full facial massage with a proper cleanser, I don't want to have to look around for a freshly washed face flannel and I sure as hell don't want to get into bed to discover that I've missed a bit of oily cleanser which is still under my jaw. And you know what, I don't want to have to feel guilty about it.

My favourite wipes have to be Witch ones, I have a bit of a routine now where if I'm doing my proper cleansing routine with oil cleanser I will wipe a couple of Witch Hazel soaked cotton pads as it's actually a natural astringent which can help with acne so it makes sense to me to use Witch Hazel based wipes. Witch wipes are moist (yep I said possibly one of the most disgusting words in the English dictionary) and they do take make up off so they tick the boxes for me; don't get me wrong they struggle with taking heavy eye makeup off but which wipes don't struggle with that, I will admit that only a proper cleanser will deal with that.

Are you too scared to admit you use face wipes?!

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Thursday, 17 September 2015

Sweetie Shower Time

I love a good gimmick when it comes to bath and shower products, I'm a sucker for anything fun and fancy from Lush and I'm always drawn to the weird and wonderful fragrances, especially anything sweet, so when I heard about the new Imperial Leather Sweets collection I kept my eye out for it. I happened to see them on offer in Tesco for just 85p each so I decided to get one of each for research purposes, obvs. 


The 4 sweetie fragrances are Fruit Salad, Sherbet Lemon, Marshmallow and Spearmint so all quite retro kinds of sweets; the colours reflect their scent and each of them does actually smell like sweets. I think Marshmallow is my favourite of the four because it's more of a soft sweet scent, the only problem is that it always leaves me craving Flumps when I've used it! The Fruit Salad one is also pretty unmistakable, it's kind of tropical and really does smell exactly like the sweets (I was never actually a fan of them but I really like the smell of this). Spearmint does obviously smell like spearmint but to me there's nothing really special about it; if I'd have been picking a minty scent for a Sweets collection I would have tried to make it a creamy minty smell like a mint humbug but this is like lots of the invigorating mint scents already on the market. Of course, there has to be a least favourite and mine is the Sherbet Lemon, again it does smell like sherbet lemon but in my opinion it smells too much like lots of other shower products on the market. 

In terms of the cream formula it doesn't lather too much if you just use your hand but they're great to use with a shower puff. My skin isn't left feeling tight after washing and I love being able to smell whichever scent I've used even when I've got dried. In my opinion though the main reason why you would buy these is for the fun fragrances, not for their skin nourishing properties. 

If I was going to recommend one that you should definitely pick up if you're in Tesco it would have to be Marshmallow with Fruit Salad following in close second. These were actually £1.85 in Tesco a couple of weeks ago which I think is way too expensive; I would begrudge paying that for these but at 85p/£1.00 I don't think you can go wrong. They're fun, they smell good and they get the job done in the shower. 

Have you tried any from the Imperial Leather Sweets range?

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Saturday, 12 September 2015

Veet Wax Strips Giveaway

The end of summer is upon us, even a hope of an Indian summer is slowly withering away but that doesn't have to mean that you let your leg hairs grow to that of a yeti! We all know what an absolute pain shaving can be so any excuse to not bother with it is a good one but I'm giving you the chance to win some Veet Wax Strips to try to help keep your legs and body hair free with minimum fuss even into the autumn/winter months



a Rafflecopter giveaway

I've tried to keep this as simple as I possibly can because I want all my readers to be able to enter if they wish regardless of how they read and follow my blog!

Terms & Conditions

UK residents only

The competition will run until 12:00am Sunday 27th September 2015

A winner will be selected at random using only entries entered via the Rafflecopter widget

The winner will be contacted via the email address used to log in to Rafflecopter, if the winner fails to respond to the email within 28 days I reserve the right to redraw.

The winner must be willing to share information about their address which will be passed on to the prize provider who will send out the prize; I cannot be held responsible for any unfulfilled prizes.


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Friday, 11 September 2015

Sleep-Wake Cycle with Neom

At some point in our lives we all struggle with sleeping or waking up, in fact I dare say that I struggle with waking up every single morning unless it's for a holiday or something like that because let's face it the hum-drum of normal life isn't always the most inspiring thing to get you out of bed in a morning so there are times when you might need a little helping hand to relax you to get to sleep or to energise you in the morning even before you've had your first coffee...



Chances are, you've probably heard of Neom Organics; they're well known for their beautiful natural wax candles which envelope your rooms with the most gorgeous scents (I was so disappointed when they discontinued my favourite candle!) but I recently got to try the mists from their new collection and I had a sneaky feeling they weren't going to disappoint. They've brought out these nifty little on-the-go spray mists which are simple to use but using a careful blend of essential oils they've created two powerful little aids to help you get to sleep and feel energised the next morning. 

The 'Burst of Energy' energy boosting on the go mist* is designed to invigorate your senses with grapefruit, lemon and rosemary. A spritz of this above my head whilst breathing deeply for a few seconds leaves me feeling a lot less groggy and gives me the motivation I need to get on with my day. 

Similarly, the 'Tranquility' Perfect Night's Sleep Pillow Mist* is made with a blend of lavender, sweet basil and jasmine to create a light yet effective fragrance to help relax your mind and muscles to create the perfect environment for sleep. I personally have definitely got more use out of this than the energy boosting one, purely because I find it more effective; the fragrance is so relaxing!

Not only are these two little spritzes perfect for awakening your senses and then winding down they also leave your room smelling beautiful without being overpowering. You could be forgiven for assuming that anything with lavender in will be too much but I think the pillow mist really does have the perfect blend of essential oils to make the lavender an asset rather than an overpowering scent which I think it is in a lot of pillow mists. 

These might look like tiny little bottles but you can get up to 100 applications from each depending how liberal you are so for £8.00 each I don't think these are bad priced at all considering that Neom is a high end brand. You can buy these and lots of other products from the Neom Organics range from Beauty Expert (who also offer free delivery, winner!)

Do you have any favourites from the Neom collection?

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Thursday, 10 September 2015

6 Cornish Towns in 15 Hours

Travelling is quite a massive part of my life, I work hard but I try and make sure that I make time to enjoy life aswell. Being self-employed (or indeed employed to any degree) can mean that you have to use time off very wisely and make the most of every single free minute. You might have seen on Twitter that I've had a really busy summer (which is why Girl Up North has suffered a little bit over the last few months) so I've been itching to have a few days away now it's quietened down a bit.

I've been wanting to do Cornwall for a while now, I've heard lots of people rave about how beautiful it is and the weather is often far better than what we get up north so Jason and I decided to take the plunge and book into a hotel for a couple of days. A couple of days sounds a bit mental considering that it's a 6 hour drive on a good day but we were both so desperate to get away it didn't matter.

We set off at 12.30am on Tuesday morning, straight from the pub to get a good run down to St. Austell which was our base for the couple of days and we arrived 6 hours 5 minutes later at 6.35am. We knew we wouldn't be able to check into the Premier Inn so we grabbed some breakfast and had an hours snooze in the car before we set off on our travels at 9.30am. This is where it became a bit of a whirlwind.

First stop was Newquay and the beautiful Fistral Beach




It's true what they say, Cornish beaches really are stunningly beautiful. Fistral Beach is a surfers haven with up to 4ft waves perfect for riding (not so much on the day we visited, it was pretty calm). I couldn't believe how clear the water was, it was honestly like being somewhere in the Mediterranean. I can totally understand why this gets so busy on a hot summers day. Thankfully it was quiet when we visited probably because it was still fairly early in the day and most of the kids had gone back to school. I expected Newquay to be very commercialised but I was pleasantly surprised and would definitely want to spend more time here.

Next we moved onto one of the places on my travel bucket list; Land's End






If you ignore the massive commercialisation of Land's End, (and it is very commercialised, presumably because it's actually privately owned) the views out to see are quite breath taking and to think that directly across sea the next bit of land you'd hit would probably be America is quite fascinating. There is a way to escape the commercial aspect of Land's End; you could do a coastal walk but we just took the obligatory photo of the sign and pressed on.

We did consider going to the Minack Theatre but when we saw the massive walk up there we decided to give it a miss as the only real reason we would be there would be to take a photo and move on.

Next stop: a rather cloudy St Michael's Mount


When the tide is low you can actually walk over to the island but as you can see the tide was pretty high so we looked and took a photo from afar. We did grab a quick overpriced drink from the little shop there but moved swiftly on to our next destination which was St. Ives.







You could easily spend at least half a day in this lovely little picturesque town. With it's narrow streets it's not advisable to take cars down there so we parked at the leisure centre and took advantage of the £1 shuttle bus there and back; after seeing how steep it was we decided it was the best couple of quid we'd spend in a long time!

The harbour is beautiful and the streets are full of quirky little shops, restaurants and obviously pasty bakeries. I may have partaken in a Cornish pasty or two, be rude not to wouldn't it?! When the sea is right you can hire your own boat and take a little trip around the harbour or you could hire a deckchair and soak up the sun on the bit of beach.

St. Ives marked the last place we would visit on our first day and we finally checked into our hotel at around 5.30pm, had some tea and got some much needed sleep.

We woke up the next morning and decided to take it a little bit easier; Port Isaac was our first calling place, the home of Doc Martin.






Port Isaac was a beautifully quaint little place, again with very steep, narrow roads which you had to walk down. You can jump on a bus to take you around the Doc Martin sights or you can grab a freshly dressed crabs from one of the popular little seafood shops. We both found Port Issac really beautiful and you can take another short coast walk where there's some stunning views out to see.



Our final call of the day and indeed the break was Padstow. Slapped quite hard by the hand of Rick Stein it's another commercialised little town which is very popular with tourists desperate to get a taste of what they think is Rick Stein's handy work either from his Fish & Chip restaurant/takeaway, posh seafood restaurant or little patisserie. We gave all three a miss, settled for a quick coastal photo and a short walk around the Lobster Hatchery and headed back to our hotel for some food and a well earned rest.

After realising that we wouldn't get in anywhere for tea we decided that another nights stay in St. Austell wouldn't be very productive so we set off homeward bound at 8.45pm to try and ensure another clear run home; we were home in our own bed for 2.30am which was absolutely heavenly.

We both really, really enjoyed our few days away and we've found some places that we'll definitely visit again (Newquay, St. Ives and Port Isaac) and some that we probably will never see again but I can safely say that even though we crammed a lot in in a short space of time we loved every minute and it was just what we needed.

Where are your favourite places in Cornwall?

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