Sunday, 30 November 2014

Current Beauty Favourites: Rouging Up & Winter Nuttiness

This is actually my first 'favourites' post- I just felt quite excited about the few beauty bits I've picked up recently- all in the last week or so in fact! First up is Herbal Essences' Clearly Naked Shine Shampoo, this is on offer at the moment in Boots for half the normal price, so I obviously had to give it a try. Because I have really thick hair, every now and then I have to use a clarifying shampoo to reduce build-up. I was drawn to this as it is paraben free, plus I have used Herbal Essences in the past and find their shampoos really lightweight. Just as I'd imagined, my hair dried really soft, shiny and oil-free. The white tea and mint smell is subtle but gorgeous too. I find Herbal Essences scents always stay on your hair up until you have to wash again.

Just as I like to regularly remove residue from my hair, I love to put on a face mask, every two weeks to a month, to rejuvenate my skin. These ones by Montagne Jeunesse remain my firm favourites as I find them really luxurious for their price. I've tried a lot of them, but I spotted these two which I've never seen before: the Go Nuts Mud Mask, and the Candyfloss Scrub. I have so far put on a bit of the nutty one- that's another amazing thing about these products; they're so thick and such good quality that I only use a quarter to half a mask at a time. This one was one of their thickest and when I took it off after fifteen minutes, my face felt brilliantly smooth. All blemishes had been sort of neutralised, any dry skin moisturised and my face had this lovely glow to it. I would definitely recommend these masks; especially for girly pamper nights!

Another moisturising product next- Rimmel's Wonderfull Mascara with argan oil. I've had my eye on this since it came out fairly recently- and now I've got it, it doesn't disappoint. The flexi brush is really wide but with spread bristles so you can get all your lashes clump-free. The result is a pretty, fanned effect. I also love that there is argan oil in this, as I'm quite precious over my eyelashes (I worry whenever they fall out, usually due to stress). I often gently rub Vaseline onto them before bed, but now I feel I don't have to worry as much. Having just taken my make-up off, my lashes do feel silky soft.

Another eye product that I'm enjoying using is Benefit's They're Real ! Push-Up Liner. I actually got this mini version free with December's Elle. I'm not big on eyeliner; I usually buy cheapies to tide me over as I only put a tiny bit on for everyday, if any. And I am awful at liquid eyeliner, although I love the cat eye look. So this Benefit one is a nice compromise, as it's supposed to be a lot easier to apply than standard liquid liner. Once I'd worked out I had to remove the little cap that comes on top of the applicator, it was fairly simple to apply. You twist the bottom of the liner until the matte gel comes to the top. The shapely but small brush makes drawing a line across your eyelid much steadier. I liked the overall look, though obviously the miniature version won't last too long!

Now onto lips! I finally bought Kate Moss by Rimmel's Matte Lippy in 107, after looking for it for about a month. YouTubers especially are going crazy for this shade! I think it does look different on different people's lips- on Faye of Faye's Fix for example, it looks slightly purple tinted, yet on me it comes out as a vampy dark red. I lost my old red shade by Kate though so I'm more than happy to have this as a replacement. It comes out pretty thick on your lips and I had to blot a couple of times- another tip is to use a cotton bud to accentuate your cupid's bow- but overall I love it. It's a classic, glamorous hue but one that can be worn for something as dressed down as shopping. That's where I wore it today (above)!

The second lip product I snapped up today was this amazing Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Lip Balm, which I found in Primark for £1.50! I hoped and prayed on the way home that it would taste like the real deal, and it so does. This is peanut buttery, chocolatey goodness in a lip salve; how could anyone not want that? The quality too is fab; my lips feel rid of their dry patches and cracks and I can still taste the flavour, two hours since I put it on and I had a bath in between. My favourite product of all of these. It would also make a cool stocking filler!

What products are you adoring at the moment?

Bomb Cosmetics: Deck the Halls Blaster Bath Bomb Review

'Deck the halls with holly, and fill your soul with Christmas cheer', says Bomb Cosmetics about this particular bath fizzer. I decided to pick this up while in Fenwicks a few weeks ago. I've been waiting til December is firmly on the horizon to use this in a bath and feel really Christmassy. On my shopping day I intended to go to Lush, for obvious reasons, until I came across a super cute and temping Bomb Cosmetics stand. Plus their bath bits were priced amazingly- this one being just £2.29. 
Bomb Cosmetics as a brand promise to be utterly against animal testing, to use entirely natural ingredients and to recycle wherever possible with their packaging. They believe in the power of natural oils, and everything is lovingly handmade, which gives you the reassurance that you're using something good for your body.  

The snowman-topped blaster bomb I couldn't resist has a slightly spicy scent of holly berry, black pepper and marjoram oil. As soon as I bought it, a tantalising smell of Christmas just wafted from my shopping bag and all the way home, where it filled my bedroom with the sweet scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, berries and a teeny bit of orange. 
Before I got into my bath, I had some setting up to do to make my soak ultra stress-relieving. I put my festive pyjamas on the radiator to make them warm for when I got out, I lit my Yankee 'Snow in Love' candle, put my Disney mug of liquorice tea on the table by the bath and got my festive read ready- a feel-good chicklit called "Kiss Me Under the Mistletoe" by Fiona Harper. 

I then added my blaster to my bath; it broke off easily underneath the running water, making that addictive fizzing sound. Although the smell really permeated the bath, there were no chunks or colours in the water, which I prefer as I like to wash my hair in as clean a water as possible. The subtle, lovely fizzing noise remained throughout my whole bath, which was about twenty five minutes and overall I just felt so relaxed with this bath bomb in there. My skin definitely felt smoother and nourished in the water and when I got out the bath too.
The only negative I would say about this bath product is that when I tried to save a chunk for my next bath, it visibly began to evaporate, even if slowly. I tried to wrap it in a plastic bag and keep in a cooler place, but it got sticky and messy, so I dried it off and put it in the rack that sits in the bath after my water had drained. Bad mistake! I went looking for my bath bomb the next day, only to find it had disappeared- clearly melted. So yes, that was very silly of me. Does anyone have any tips for storing half-used bath bombs or melts?

The Chilly Millie, £2.29

Bomb Cosmetics have some adorable products, from bath creamers to bath brulees and soaps, and all have such pretty names. Their floral bud products look so sweet and more expensive than they are. If you're looking for more festive bath treats, I've personally got my eye on the 'Chilly Millie' and 'Cool Tide' blasters. There was also an incredible gingerbread man, bath mallow in Fenwicks when I went in, but it doesn't come in a wrapper so I went for this cellophane-wrapped bath blaster at the time. I think I am going to have to go back and get this one though, as I have a slight obsession with gingerbread men!

Let me know your fail-safe ingredients for the perfect winter soak! 

The Cool Tide, £2.29

Friday, 28 November 2014

Christmas Spirit

There is nothing better than getting into cosy pyjamas, all fitting onto the one sofa and watching a feel-good festive adventure with the family. Here are five of the best (and then the very best) Christmas films... in the order they could be watched in the run-up to Christmas!

5. Love Actually. I think Love Actually can be watched sooner than December, and I actually watched it the other day with my best friend (though I need to put it on again as we have a tendency to just chat and before you know it, the film's over!) I love Richard Curtis as a director; Notting Hill, Four Weddings & a Funeral and About Time are three other amazing ones of his. Love Actually though is just the best mixture of heartbreak and hilariousness; it's down-to-earth, relatable and inspiring, not to mention it has SNAPE and Hugh Grant in it. I'm not that keen on Keira Knightley and I find Andrew Lincoln's character (Mark, Keira's stalker!) so odd now as a Walking Dead fan. But my favourite characters and story lines are Colin Firth and his lover Aurelia, Hugh Grant and Martine McClutcheon (I don't know how you could not love their relationship!) and little Sam and the singing schoolgirl Joanna. The scene where Sam runs through the airport to say goodbye to her is just amazing in every way!

4. The Santa Clause. I love this film as it's one I remember watching when I was a lot younger with my sister. You know when you have those family friend Christmas get-togethers; well I always remember watching this, with a bowl of sweets and the fire. I really like Tim Allen and couldn't picture anyone else in the role as Santa. If I had to pick a hole, I don't like the step-dad, but then you're not meant to!!

3. Christmas with the Kranks. I literally adore this film and I don't really know why, because some would say it's a bit naff! It's not what you'd call a classic, but that's why I like it! I guess I find it a bit different and it's still so funny even though I've watched it like 100 times. I also like it because I remember watching it with Matt for the first time when we'd only been going out a little while and I just felt really happy! My favourite bit (sorry for the spoiler!) is definitely when Nora goes to get the hickory honey ham and after all she goes to to get the last one, it rolls under the lorry and gets squished! I like the neighbourhood too and how they all join together to make Christmas great- it's got a nice message.

2. How The Grinch Stole Christmas. I never really watched this as a kid- this was a film that grew on me! Jim Carrey is so good I always forget it's actually him, I almost think of the Grinch as an actor himself! His voices are hilarious and WhoVille is such a cute town- they should make a replica. I love the tiny cars! The Grinch as a boy is so sweet too; I find it tragic when he cuts himself shaving and gets laughed at! Matt's Mum recently bought me an early Christmas present- a Grinch tee from Abercrombie and Fitch and I absolutely love it!

1. Elf. Christmas basically wouldn't happen without this film. We watch it at least a few times in the run-up! "You smell like beef and cheese, you don't smell like Santa. I just like to smile, smiling's my favourite. Buddy the elf, what's your favourite colour?" Enough said.

The very top (watch on Christmas Day):

Home Alone 1 and 2. Again, I didn't watch these when I was a kid, but Matt's family got me into them! They're just the ultimate Christmas holiday films, as they're so retro and they have a really cool, old-school Christmas soundtrack. YouTube 'All Alone on Christmas' now!! Macaulay Culkin is an idol. The original Home Alone is the best, but the sequel isn't too far behind. These and Elf make me want to go to New York even though I've said it never appealed to me. Home Alone 3 is terrible though!

I also put my Christmas list up the chimney this week!! Despite writing it ages ago, I waited to put it on the fire as Matt kept moaning it was too early! Although I've definitely converted him in my Christmas excitement this year. Usually he won't dream of watching a Christmas film until December hits, and he is likely to leave finding my Christmas presents until two weeks before, but we've watched Gremlins which counts, and he's already got me five gifts, so he says!

The whole putting the Christmas list up the chimney is a tradition my family have done since my sister and I were teeny tiny. We would always flick through the Argos toy catalogue and circle what we wanted, then we'd make our lists. My sister used to put the funniest things, that used to frustrate my parents so much, as they were clearly impossible- things like: "to fly" or "super powers". With the flying wish though, my parents actually attached a propeller thing to my little sister's cycle helmet and gave her some pretend (obviously) wings. I remember her wearing them and jumping off their big bed all excited and then just falling! It sounds sort of cruel now but it was cute that she even got to try! Mum said the sweetest and easiest thing I ever put on my list was a woolly hat with a pom pom!

Anyway, back to 2014... on my Christmas list this year are:

-Black converse, something I've been missing for a long time!
-Two books: "How To Be Parisian" by Caroline De-Maigret and "Us" by David Nicholls.
-A new fluffy dressing gown and woodland-y slippers
-An ASOS ribbed polo neck in khaki.
-A beautiful pair of burgundy heeled leather boots that I've spotted in H&M!
-A vintage suitcase that I can make into a cat bed! I've seen these loads and I'm always looking for a cheapy one that I can do up, paint and line with a Liberty-esque fabric. I think it would look adorable in my room at the foot of my bed and Georgie cat and Toby cat would love it.

Image from
To be honest, the best Christmas present I could have, and I'm sure many others feel similarly around this time of year, is my nanny back after she passed away in the summer. Some days I feel guilty for even thinking about enjoying Christmas without her this year, and that presents are so trivial. They are, but at the same time, gifts are part of many people's Christmases and as long as you realise that material things aren't the be all and end all, then it's fine and nice to want to treat loved ones once a year.
I'm so pleased as well with the gifts I've managed to find so far for friends and family! Except I'm struggling to organise and separate my 'to buy' and 'bought' lists!

What have you asked for this Christmas?

Sunday, 23 November 2014

A Huge Catch Up Under London's Lights

Yesterday I met up with my three best friends from university in London townn.  
It was amazing to all be together again and have a massive natter over pizza, especially as the last time all three of us were altogether was last December! After our lunch, we wandered up Oxford Street, stopping at the Disney Store- an obvious must. They'd converted the whole downstairs into a scene from Frozen, complete with scandi wooden beams, whole crates of Olafs and a life size Sven the reindeer! Disney's Christmas tree decorations and baubles this year are so cute- I especially loved one of Cinderella's glass slipper with Gus and Jaq sitting in it.

We wandered past Selfridges, and though we didn't have time to go in, we admired their endless window displays. I think they're really quirky this year, with lots of woodland creatures, a magical sweetie grotto and this incredible Sleeping Beauty inspired scene with a golden spinning wheel and gifts caught in a frosty spider web. It felt so Christmassy walking up Oxford Street, with all the illuminated windows and giant elevated baubles over the road, and that addictive sweet smell of nuts toasting in the snack stands on the pathways. Naturally, we ended up making our way to Winter Wonderland. We entered through the Marble Arch side, where the big wheel is this year, and there wasn't a queue unlike when we came last year. However I do prefer arriving from the Hyde Park entrance, as you can see a peek of all the German festive market stalls and it looks a lot more magical.

We didn't go on any rides, rather just had a lovely, slow wander and finished up with a hot chocolate at a characterful German bar right next to the ice-rink and acoustic Christmas tunes. Finally it started to get dark and with it came all the twinkly lights.

 I find there's just not enough time when you go up to London for the day and so I'm planning to go again with my family and Matt just before Christmas to make sure I can browse all the adorable handcraft-y stalls properly. I got the train home with my friend Rea, and we got a Starbucks at the station- I tried a Honey and Almond Hot Chocolate and it was delicious; not too sweet but with festive, comforting flavours. I definitely recommend!

This has been just a bit of a chatty post really! I hope you're having fun in the run-up to Christmas. To me it's a time for catching up with special friends and family.

Will any of you be heading to Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park? 

Friday, 21 November 2014

The Unlikely Hiding Places of Toby Kitty

I feel like this is slowly turning into a pet blog... but I thought this was just a fun little feature, plus it's about time I give one of my cats some loving as Gen the labradoodle does get most of the attention on my social media! The title of this post is inspired by a book called The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by the way- such an amazing, compassionate book written by Rachel Joyce so go check it out!
So, my youngest kitty cat, a ginger tom called Toby, loves to hide, or attempt to hide. He will crawl or try to fit into anything, but bags and boxes are his absolute favourite. It's like he thinks he's invisible and protected when he's in something, even if it's actually open and he's totally exposed to cuddles!! He's really cuddly sometimes, but always on his terms and he's very independent. Whenever we go shopping, it's guaranteed that within five minutes of our bags being through the door, he'll be in one. He is so adamant to stay in them too, that once we even hung a shopping bag he was in on a hook on a back of a door, and he didn't even flinch in there! Some of the following hiding places are appalling, but don't get me wrong, he's pretty sneaky. Our animals sleep downstairs at night, but often he'll wake me up purring all over my face about three in the morning, as he's been hiding under my bed, in my wardrobe or somewhere really strange. Another of his regular places is the ironing basket! I hope you enjoy these pictures of my wonderfully weird but super cute kitty.

Standard Toby behaviour
Yes, he made my clothes all fluffy!! This was when I'd just got back from uni - he was straight in there!
We can still see you Tobes... just noticed he's on my lovely Jack Wills shirt, which was a
 Christmas present! This was probably on Christmas Day!

When he was a bit smaller, he loved to watch people bath !
In Bella the tortoise's house!
Hiding from grumpy George, my other kitty!
Ultimate fail!
Finally! He's part concealed! 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Celebration Chocolate Muffins

An extra special chocolate-y recipe for a winter's evening in!

I had a craving for my usual chocolate muffins this weekend, but I wanted to add something a bit different to them. That's where the few remaining chocolates out of a big festive Mars' Celebrations tin we had came in. The muffins turned out especially yummy as the chocolates melted inside, giving a gooier mix than usual.They sort of came out like brownies, but that could never be a bad thing! Something a little more regal compared to your basic chocolate chips!

You will need:

(Makes 9)

275g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
75g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
110g butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
8 fl oz milk
60g cocoa powder
10 Celebration chocolates 

Never forget to lick out the bowl!!
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees (gas mark 6) and place nine muffin cases (deeper cases than cupcake cases) in a baking tin. Sieve the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder together in a large bowl.

2. In your main mixing bowl, separately mix the eggs, sugar, butter, milk and vanilla essence until smooth. Fold the flour into this egg based mixture.

3. Chop your chosen Celebrations (the Mars and Milkyway melted particularly nicely, while the Toblerones gave a crunch!) up into little squares, then throw into the mixture and stir in, gently so they don't completely disintegrate!

4. Divide the mixture between the muffin cases and pop muffins into the oven for 20 minutes! I left mine in a few minutes too long- the first time you check them and they look really gooey around the edges, just take them out otherwise they get slightly firmer and not as fondant like! 

5. Devour with a good cup of tea or a glass of mulled wine like I had! Light a candle, grab your latest magazine and sink into chocolatey pud heaven. 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Bath Time For Genevieve

Autumn Sundays for us are a day for roasts, curling up in front of the telly and muddy dog walks. Today, Genny was in for a special treat, as we decided she really needed a bath (having escaped having one for a good few months!) 

Genny loves getting as dirty and disgusting as possible in rivers, ponds and the sea. Clearly baths are a slightly different story as they're all clean and fresh and fruity smelling! It was a struggle to get Gen into the bathroom, but once she was in she stood patiently while all the pond dirt was scrubbed away!! Just look at the colour of that water. Then for the fun bit (for Gen!) - she goes absolutely crazy when she gets out. She seems to think that by sprinting all over the house, shaking her coat ridiculously fast (cue a shower you didn't need) and rubbing herself against everything and anything, that she'll miraculously become dry! Bathing seems to make her even more hyper than normal! Finally she settled down in front of the fire with her teddies and some gravy bones to dry off properly. 
                I'd love to see your doggies. Please leave links to any pet-friendly blogs!

Preparation for a soon-to-be very wet puppy!
Real puppy dog eyes!
Drying off with bear, tiger, donkey and hedgehog!
Roast dinner: roasties, chicken, mangetout, carrots, mashed swede,
 stuffing, butternut squash, parsnip and yorkshire pud!

What do you get up to on Sundays?