Thursday, 20 August 2015

Occasion Dresses on a Budget

There's nothing I like better than to dress up in a nice dress to go to a party, I bought a beautiful dress for my best friend's engagement party at the beginning of this month and it's given me a bit of a bug for pretty dresses I think. I'd got myself into a bit of a rut of buying quite plain 'nothing' dresses for whenever I went out anywhere and it felt so nice to be wearing a dress that really stood out of the crowd. I will admit though, that finding a dress wasn't an easy task; I must have spent hours and hours trawling through different online stores and then I spent a day in a shopping centre so it did end up being quite time consuming so I've put together a collection of some of my favourite dresses for different special occasions to save you some time if you've got something coming up on your calendar:

The Ball/Prom

When you think prom style dresses I think you automatically think they're going to cost an absolute fortune but they don't have to if you shop in the right places. There are hundreds of prom dresses under £100 to be had on*; here's a selection of my absolute favourites...

I love how this one is cut; because it falls lower I think it would be so flattering if you're conscious about the bottom part of your stomach (I know that's the part of my body that I'm insecure about) and it comes in over 30 different colours.

This also comes in over 30 colours but I think that white is really beautiful, I'm really into grecian dresses and I love the embellishment detail on the straps of this one. 

Again we've got a bit of beaded embellishment going on here, I absolutely love the cut of this and the simple skirt teamed with the beaded top.  

The Wedding 

You've got to be careful not to upstage the bride and I definitely wouldn't recommend wearing white at a wedding; luckily, ASOS have been very helpful and they've put together a collection of wedding guest dresses and there's some real beauties...

Dusty Pink Floral Pencil Dress (£52.00)
I'm loving floral prints because you don't have to spend as long considering accessories I don't think, as you can see on the model you could team this with a pair of simple black strappy shoes and I'd probably wear quite a simple fascinator.

Drape Midi Dress (£55.00)
I think this is my favourite of the 3 from ASOS, I love the colour and the drape effect.

Off Shoulder Printed Dress (£70.00)
This is quite different to what you normally see with it being a 'high-low' kind of hem but I really like it and I like the print.

Where are your favourite places to get occasion dresses from?

*Post in collaboration with

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Friday, 14 August 2015

A few of my favourite things

It's been a while since I've done a proper favourites post on Girl Up North and I got to thinking the other day and realised that there was definitely a few products which stand out from the crowd that I've been going for again and again just recently. Aside from the haircare products that I mentioned the other day, here are some of my current beauty favourites:

Bath & Body Works Champagne Sparkle Hand Sanitiser (£1.99, eBay)- I know it's kind of annoying when bloggers mention stuff that you can't get hold of easily here in the UK but these little hand sanitisers are actually widely available on places like eBay and they're not too extortionately priced. I bought 5 when I went to Florida in May and I've been using them really sparingly so I have enough to last me until my America trip in October. This Champagne Sparkle one is gorgeously sweet and has little sparkly bits in which magically disappear when you rub your hands together. 

Clarins Instant Light Lip Perfector (£19.00, Boots) - I've been loving this for a good while now and I realise that I need to buy the full size because it's my go-to lip product for casual wear; it's barely there but leaves a lovely sheen on the lips and keeps them feeling soft and moist. 

The Body Shop Camomile Silky Oil Cleanser (£11.00, The Body Shop) - This is my second bottle, and I love everything about it. It melts away makeup including eye makeup (although it does sting a bit if you get it in your actual eye, I don't recommend that), it's gentle and my skin reacts really well to it and it's in a pump bottle which makes for perfectly simple dispensing. Winner!

Naked Basics 2 Palette (£20.70, Feel Unique) - I'd toyed with the idea of this for a long time because I'd heard it was better than the first Basics palette for people with fair skin. I snapped this up from Beauty Bay for an absolute bargain of about £13 and I've never looked back; I wear it almost every day and I honestly didn't think matte shades could work well for me but they really do with this palette. 

MAC lipsticks (Twig & Velvet Teddy) (£15.50, MAC Cosmetics)- I fell out of love with MAC lippies for a while because they put the price up and I realised that you could get equally as nice lipsticks for a lot less money but then Twig and Velvet Teddy came into my life and I had to change my opinion because these two shades are my go-to ones 8/10 times that I wear lipstick. I love Twig for going out and I love Velvet Teddy for more casual wear, yep they're expensive for what they are but these are an absolute must for me in my collection.

YSL Black Opium Perfume (£38.00, Fragrance Direct)- I wrote about this when I bought it with my Quidco cashback and I've loved it ever since. I'm trying to use it carefully because I'm running out fast and I really want to be able to buy another bottle with my next lot of cashback because then it feels free, haha! It's a quite a strong but beautiful scent, especially for night time, it's the perfect floral oriental fragrance I think.

What's on your list of favourite things at the moment?

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Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Summer Scenting with Fresh Fig

In all honesty if you'd have asked me last week what a fig smelt like I wouldn't have been able to tell you, I've eaten them a couple of times but I never had them down as a fragrance of choice for anything really. However it would appear that Fig is a hot scent for lots of summer collections this year; The White Company have released their 'Fresh Fig' home scenting range and The Body Shop now have their Italian Summer Fig bath and body care collection.

The White Company are known for their beautiful homewares and candle collections so I knew they wouldn't disappoint with their latest fragrance: Fresh Fig. It's a strong fruity/citrus scent which totally envelopes the room when it's lit; even the Signature Candle* (£20.00) packs a punch when it comes to filling a medium sized room. The jar is clean and simple which is my perfect kind of decoration; I don't like too much going on and because the candle is filled with high quality mineral wax to ensure it burns cleanly without leaving that horrible black soot on the rim of the glass. In the same Fresh Fig collection they also have a reed diffuser, a four wick candle and a room spray so if you like the scent you could choose a product to suit your needs.

If you like fresh, summery scents then the new Italian Summer Fig collection from The Body Shop should tickle your fancy; it's fresh and green which is perfect if you aren't keen on the usual sickly sweet summery scents. Paired with the refreshing soap-free Shower Gel (£6.00)*, the Body Butter (£13.00)* is beautifully thick and leaves your skin feeling soft and silky for hours whilst building up the fig fragrance on your skin. I love using Body Shop body butters when I've just got out of the bath/shower because they just melt into warm skin and I know that I can give the product a little time to soak in before I have to put any tight clothing on. 

I love it when brands come up with different ideas to break the mould of what we usually expect from summer fragrances and Fig definitely won't disappoint if you're looking for something a little different to scent your house or to get your shower routine into the swing of summer.

Have you ever tied any Fig scented products?

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Thursday, 6 August 2015

Hair Styling Products for Dry/Damaged Hair

I've been really quite impressed with the condition of my hair just lately and I've put it down to a few products that I've been using for the past couple of weeks. Blonde hair can be a real pain to keep in good condition; my hair has often looked quite dry, split and damaged because of the heat styling/bleach that I've subjected it to. Obviously there's no denying that you can't actually 'repair' hair once it's split but you can reduce the appearance of split ends and keep it in as good condition as you possibly can to try and prevent further damage. 

Schwarzkopf Weightless Dry Oil Mist £4.05 £2.70 - This is the perfect finishing spray for me, a little bit like Tigi Haute Iron Spray but better and a sight cheaper. Getting any kind of shine on blonde hair is difficult but this makes my hair look and feel really healthy, it really is weightless but it makes my hair feel perfectly silky smooth after straightening. 

Schwarzkopf Dry Shampoo £4.05 £2.02 - I always say that no brand could get me away from Batiste when it comes to dry shampoo but this puts up a good fight. It's not as powdery and heavy, it smells nice and it does the job just as good if not slightly better. 

Schwarzkopf Heat Protection Spray £4.05 £2.70 - I went through a stage where I didn't use any heat protection at all before straightening and I could really tell a difference in the condition of my hair. Not only does this offer protection up to 220 degrees I also think it helps to keep my hair straighter for longer.

Label M Rejuvenating Oil Mist* £24.95 - This has fast become an important step in my hair routine, I spray this on wet hair before drying it and it is better than any serum or oil I've used in terms of how  smooth my hair is even before I've straightened. I think it's probably to do with the spray which means that it's more evenly distributed as opposed to a blob of serum/oil which is often concentrated on a certain part of your hair. Obviously I don't use this on my roots but for the ends of my hair I really think it's making a massive difference. It is a little bit pricey but I've said it before, for a product that works I don't mind paying!

The first three Schwarzkopf products are on offer at the moment in both Boots and Superdrug so if they've caught your eye then now would be a good time to buy them before they go back up to full price; I know I'll definitely be stocking up because I've totally fallen in love with all of them! 

What are your favourite hair products at the moment?

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Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The Kitchen Tea Rooms, Howden

So far this month it would seem that all I've done is eat out, last week I think I ate out every single day which is brilliant for my taste buds but not so much for the Slimming World scales at the end of the week (I took the hit of a 2lb gain this week, so I'm trying to reel it back in!). Anyway, one of the reasons I was eating out was because it was my Nana's birthday. Me and my mum wanted to take her somewhere she'd never been before for lunch so after a little think we chose The Kitchen in Howden.

I'd hazard a guess and say that most of you probably haven't heard of Howden; it's a small town in East Yorkshire within easy access of York and Hull (the M62 is literally a mile or so away so it makes it really accessible from any direction). The Kitchen in Howden is actually a second shop which was opened after the roaring success of the one opened in Snaith (a small village near Selby) so I knew it had to be decent if it was popular enough to warrant two shops!

The Kitchen is a shop and a tea room offering absolutely loads of choice both to eat in and takeaway, judging by how busy it was for the whole time we were in there, it's obviously just as popular with take away orders as it is with people wanting to eat in. There's so much choice even for take away orders and the dessert cabinet looks absolutely incredible!

After a short wait for a table we were seated together on a table for 4, we got the menu out and had a browse for what we fancied. As much as I was very tempted by the afternoon tea I ended up trying to be good; I ordered a Salmon and Prawn Salad and a Skinny Latte however because it was my Nana's birthday I encouraged her and my Grandad to go for the afternoon tea, purely because I wanted to see what it was like.

Everything was brought to our table swiftly by the waitress who was really friendly and attentive, I was so impressed with the little touches from the word go:

Everything from the flowers in the milk bottles in the middle of the table to the little milk churn they served milk in and the spoon which was designed in such a funny way to make it rest on the side of the latte glass, it set the scene perfectly for what was to come. The only trouble we had was fitting everything on the table because it was a fairly small space for 4 people but we managed, we just made sure we got rid of the bits we didn't need once we'd used them.

When the food arrived I couldn't believe the size of the salad for a start, I usually find that salads are a little bit lack-lustre in most places but The Kitchen made one of the most impressive salads I've ever tasted in any eating place.

The bowl it was presented in was absolutely huge and it had some lovely little additions like a small pot of olives and some homemade bread with cheese and peppers (served in a little plant pot - too cute!). The fresh cooked salmon was absolutely divine and there was more than enough to leave me feeling full when I'd eaten it, for £7.95 I thought it was very reasonably priced and it was so tasty.

Next, onto the Afternoon Tea which was very impressive indeed.

(Mum and Nana failed miserably at getting out of the photo, but look at my Nana's face, she looks made up doesn't she, haha)

What you see here is for two which is priced at £18.95, again very reasonable and around what I would expect to pay for Afternoon Tea of this standard. I assume that every one served is different in terms of sandwich fillings and which selection of cakes you get but there'll always be a scone with jam, cream and butter in the middle. Of course if you have any allergies or intolerances I'm sure The Kitchen would be happy to tailor your food around that.

For the sandwiches there was fresh salmon and cream cheese, ham and salad and cheese and pickle (I think, I obviously didn't eat any of them and to be honest they were demolished before I had a chance to look at them properly, I'm lucky I got a photo!). I thought the bread made a nice change to traditional crustless sliced bread although my Nana said it was a little too stodgy for her by the time she'd finished (my Grandad's answer to that one was 'well you didn't have to eat it all, did you?' haha!).

The second shelf had two traditional home made scones with a pot of cream, butter and a mini jam jar full of jam (argh, all the cuteness!). The cream was beautifully light but really nice and creamy, no complaints or areas for improvement whatsoever on this bit!

The final course was the selection of homemade cakes; there was a huge fruit tart, some chocolate brownie and two squares of caramel slice. A nice little choice so you could have a taste of each without being over-faced by it. I was surprised my Nana and Grandad ate it all but the fact that they managed every little bit is testament to how nice it must have been! If you wanted, you could upgrade your afternoon tea to include a glass of pink bubbly each which would take the price to £29.95.

Overall I was well impressed with The Kitchen and I will definitely be visiting again; if you are considering a visit I would recommend ringing to try and reserve a table especially if you're thinking of going on a Saturday as I imagine that will be their busiest day for eating in the tea room. We were there on a Thursday and it was still very busy, but I guess you have to expect it when the food is this good!

You can take a look at their full menu and find their full address on their website.

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