Wednesday, 31 December 2014

What I was gifted this Christmas

I hope you've all had a lovely festive break and managed to spend some time with family and friends and recharge your batteries a little. I, for one, have been eating my weight in home-made mince pies and loving it.

I received some truly lovely gifts this year and thought I'd share a selection of them with you on here as my last post of the year. I know some people detest Christmas gift posts or find them a bit yawn but I personally love seeing what other people have been gifted and sharing in a little bit of their joy. To me it isn't bragging or showing off, any more than any other posts that showcase your life or possessions is. (Anyone else cringe at the phrase 'showing off'? It remind me of being little and your Mum accusing you of just 'showing off' in front of your friends! Nothing will put you in your place quite like it.)

So that said, here are some of things I was lucky enough to be given by loved ones this year :)

I went fairly light on the beauty related wish list this year and focused on a few things that had really caught my eye. I know the Clarisonic is the only face brush for lots of people but the Clinique Sonic System sounded like a much better fit for my skin. I was so excited when I unwrapped this and the accompanying face wash from my boyfriend. I haven't tried it out yet (still on its inaugural charge!) but may do a full post on this once I've had a few months to get used to it.

I need more neutral eye shadow like a hole in the head but the Urban Decay Naked2 Basics palette caught my eye. Have used it a few times already and LOVE it. I appreciate the matte shades but can't help but think it would benefit from one shimmer in there.

Yes celebrity perfumes are gimmicky but this Beckham 'Signature' perfume is one of my winter favourites. A nice mature scent and the longevity is reasonable as well.

This beauty box from Latest In Beauty is one of my favourites they've done. There isn't a dud product in there. Definitely keep an eye on these releases if you like that sort of thing. There's always something exciting about a 'goody bag' of things!

And onto the non-beauty related.
I received quite a lot of things that I can 'do' this year, which is fine by me :) Lots to keep me busy in the coming months. The Great British Bake Off Everyday cook book has some great recipes in it which range from everyday to fancier ones featured on the show, all with really clear instructions. Very user-friendly. I've ear marked the savoury crackers as one of my first to try.

My love of stationery continues with this pretty notebook and pen from my sister. Now I just need to 'assign' it to a task/topic and I'm good to go.

My boyfriend added to my Pandora bracelet with a sweet little silver hedgehog charm which I've already added. It's filling up nicely now and most of the charms have a little meaning or memory behind them which makes it very special.

You can't go wrong with gift vouchers and I will be waiting until after the dregs of the sales have been cleared away before I trot off to spend these in H&M.

And lastly was one of the most thoughtful gifts I received this year. Sewing is a skill my mum has passed on to me and I tinkle here and there with things but, despite having been bought a sewing machine a few birthdays ago, I'm yet to make anything from scratch on it. Mum took herself off to John Lewis and picked out two patterns that she thought I'd like and the material and zips so I'm ready to go with my garments. I have this skirt you can see here with the checked material and also a plain navy shift dress to make. Mum's also promised to help, which I'm definitely going to need! Can't wait to get started on a grey January weekend.

So there you go. What did you get for Christmas? If you've written a post then please link it below as I'd love to see!

All that remains to say now is...see you in the new year!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Hello December!

The cold has set in and it's officially winter weather now, so here's what awaits me in December...

1. Long weekend away. Mark and I are heading to the Scottish highlands next week for a 4/5 day mini break away. I know it's going to be pretty chilly but I am really looking forward to it. I'm thinking fresh air, walks and cosy pubs. We have sorted our flights and car hire but not booked any accommodation as yet so need to get that sorted this weekend. I've been taking a laid back approach to planning the trip but have found a few things that we definitely want to tick off on our trip.

2. Seeing friends. The festive period means that everyone's workload is a little more relaxed and there will be more time to spend having wine and catchups with friends. One of my best friends lives in Seattle and is coming back home for Christmas so I cannot wait to see her. Yes we keep in touch with Skype and Whatsapp but you can't beat a girly chat over cups of tea.

3. Work Christmas lunch. This is always a very indulgent affair - my company goes big on the Christmas do. Essentially write off the day from 12pm onwards and expect to take on ample amounts of food and wine courtesy of the boss. I see it as my reward for the year's hard work! The Christmas meals can be a bit awkward in places but are generally a good laugh and a chance to see the rest of our geographically spread out team. And get a good rousing speech from the boss. Leave for home before the remaining guests move on to the next bar or pub and you're normally onto a winner.

4. Time to recharge. We have a fairly generous 'work from home' policy in our company for the Christmas Eve to New Year period. So although I will still be doing work, I can't wait for the much needed opportunity to slow down my pace of life for a couple of weeks. I could do without the daily commute to/from London and the lack of daylight hours for a short while. A good opportunity to reflect on things and recharge the batteries ready for the new year. I'm sure I'll be going stir crazy by the end of it though!

5. Christmas. I couldn't really get away with writing this post and not mentioning the big 'C' word. Yes I am looking forward to Christmas and all the festivities and nice-ness. I'm not full of seasons greetings just yet though. I will reserve full excitement until around the second week of December when it 'feels' more Christmassy to me. I am looking forward to Christmas shopping, everyone being that little bit nicer, yummy food, board games, family time and festive films. I just can't embrace it all yet. Baby steps.

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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Autumn Lipstick - Topshop Beguiled

Despite owning more lipsticks than I could ever wear on my face, I've never had any of those dark classic autumnal shades before. It's not something I would spend a high end amount of money on and none of the high street offerings have grabbed me.

Enter Topshop's lipstick in 'Beguiled'.

My first darker shade and my first Topshop lippie, bought on a complete whim, and I have to say I love it.

It's fairly purse-friendly at £8 and the shade is spot on for me - dark and berry enough to look different from a classic red lip, but not so dark that it's intimidating to wear out.
And, the most important bit for me, it actually wears well. This doesn't mean it's budge-proof (because it's not) but the stain of colour will stay even if you don't reapply and I didn't get the dreaded patchy wearing off line. The formula is more satin than a true matte, but I think this helps make the shade a bit more wearable for those who are dabbling with the darker hues. And don't be put off by the slight shimmer in the stick - this is all but gone when you actually swatch the colour.

All in all, a good effort from Topshop.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The quarter-life crisis

Later this week, on 15th November, it is my birthday and I will be turning 25. Twenty Five.

Age has never really bothered me before but this one just doesn't sit right with me. I can't make my peace with it. 25 is the real deal. University is now a long way behind me (thank goodness) and I'm meant to be forging my own way in life. I'm supposed to be fully fledged.

In plain speak, 25 is the age where you start to get your sh*t together. Isn't it? But the path of life is not smooth, or at least not direct, and being an adult isn't always as perfect and brilliant as you imagine it will be when you're growing up.

Your mid twenties are when you start to question things in your life and constantly re-evaluate. You question your career path, your living arrangements, your salary, what you spend your money on,  whether you have enough hobbies, whether you have the right hobbies, how much you're saving in the bank, your relationships, your fitness schedule (or lack of), your personal style, how your life compares to your peers', whether you're making the right impression. And whether your hair style is short enough to be taken more seriously but still long enough to be flippy and carefree and to convince people you're still a cool twenty-something. Unless that last one's just me...

Of course when I'm saying 'you' I'm really saying 'I' and 'my'. Yes my friends, I think I'm having a bit of a quarter life crisis. (Well, a quarter might be optimistic as realistically I am unlikely to live to the grand age of 100, but probably best we don't dwell on that).

Maybe I'll get back to you next week and tell you that I've got over it already and am embracing my age and ready to tackle life with less unsurety. Or I might still be floundering. We'll see.

For now I say bring on the birthday as, although I'm not looking forward to the number, I am looking forward to the fun. And the wine. Definitely the wine.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Hello November!

These posts have been a little bit forgotten in recent months but I'm back with a round-up of what awaits me in November.

1. Late Halloween. Although Halloween was technically in October (and I did make Halloween cookies, carve pumpkins and feed trick or treaters actually on the day) I will be having my spooky evening a day late with Mark. We're going to get in some yummy food, light the pumpkin and my festive ghost candles and curl up with some scary tv and films. Once we've watched the Halloween themed X Factor, obviously... I love horror films but we don't end up watching many of them, so it's the perfect excuse. Even if I will then make Mark go upstairs and turn the bedroom light on for me before I can go up...

2. Bonfire Night. Autumn festivities are actually my favourite of the year (yep, even more so than Christmas, shock) and I'm looking forward to wrapping up in so many layers that I resemble the Michelin man and standing in the cold to watch the local fireworks display. Sadly they've done away with the bonfire and sparklers now, but it's something I've done every year and makes me feel nostalgic.

3. My Birthday! I didn't realised this had come around so soon until a friend asked if I'm excited for it and then I realised it's in 2 weeks! No idea what I'm going to do for it but it's on a Saturday this year so I need to get thinking. So far though I am rejecting the age I'm going to be turning. Getting older doesn't usually bother me at birthdays, after all it's unavoidable. But 25 just doesn't quite sit right with me yet.

4. A mini-break. Although we haven't long been to Corfu, the flight vouchers we got as compensation for our troublesome journey do have a time limit for use so we are thinking of taking a mini-break after my birthday for a long weekend somewhere. We're thinking outdoorsy with cosy clothes and things to explore.

5. New colleague. We have a new colleague joining us in November and I'm really looking forward to it. We're quite a small team in our office so it'll be really good to have someone new in to freshen things up a little. I'm going to be their line manager so they will also be lightening so of my workload which is a relief and I'll get some management experience. Hopefully all will go smoothly!

So that's it for me I think. What will you be getting up to in November?

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Corfu Holiday : Last of the summer sun

Earlier this month I went off on a last-minute holiday to try to catch the last of the summer sun before Autumn really took a hold. My boyfriend and I picked Corfu, mostly because that was the deal that came up which best suited our dates, budget and preferences. There wasn't much more to it for this holiday. We wanted to be able to switch off and relax for a week and spend some time together without any life 'stuff' to deal with.

We had a bit of an unfortunate start to our holiday as Corfu had been experiencing some pretty terrible weather the week before we were due to arrive, and the island was still very stormy that morning. As we were approaching the island for landing, surrounded but thick grey clouds, the plane was actually struck by lightening and the weather was too poor to land so we whisked off again straight away and were rerouted to Athens. The Captain on board assured us that a lightening struck isn't uncommon and doesn't harm the plane as they're designed to dissipate the energy through the clouds safely. It was a bit of a shock at the time though! We then sat around in Athens departure lounge for hours whilst the plane was having the compulsory post-lightening checks done before we could take off again. Sadly though our plane never got okayed to fly again and our flight was cancelled until the next morning. We were put up in a hotel overnight and brought back to the airport the next morning for our flight to Corfu...which was successful this time. All a little inconvenient at the time (and was a shame to lose a night in our nice hotel that we'd booked) but we were happy to be safe and sound and have since been compensated with flight you can't complain too much!

Stray dog beach friend; frizziest hair and favourite holiday dress; pre-boat trip accidental matching in 'nautical' white; garden and beach view from our room

In all honesty, we spent the majority of our time at the hotel beach and didn't stray any further than a local boat trip. Beach/hotel-based holidays are not usually our 'thing' but we needed a week of zero stress so it was what we had in mind when we booked this trip. Our days basically consisted of: breakfast, beach, lunch, beach, pool, bit of hotel room time/getting ready, dinner, bar, bed. The food was all included in the price we had paid and was of a really high standard - not your usual dodgy buffet - so we never needed to venture out for dinner, and enjoyed getting a little bit dressed up for it. 

Old-school MAC Disney lipstick in Toxic Tale; milk maid braids were my beach go-to to keep my hair out of my face and out of the sea; my childish breakfast of choice complete with complimentary prosecco; sad faces at home time

We sunbathed, read, skimmed stones, played around in the sea and people watched. A lot of people watching. It turns out the beach is prime location for this. We also bought sea inflatables and spent a lot of time floating around and trying not to get dragged out by the tide. Very mature. And Mark got bitten by a fish - hilarious.

The low-maintenance routine mostly suited us for the week, although I was getting itchy feet by the 4th/5th day! Certainly didn't need any longer unless you were going to explore a bit. It did seem a shame that we didn't really see much of Corfu, but you can't do everything in 6 days and we can save our usual adventuring for another trip.

Thanks for having us Greece :)

Monday, 6 October 2014

Off on holiday :)

Tomorrow morning (very very early!) I am heading off with my boyfriend to Corfu for a week to catch some late season sun and I cannot wait.

Bring me the all inclusive drinks, the infinity pool, sandy beach and the sunshine.

I'll catch up with you again once I'm back. In the mean time, I'm sure I'll be lurking on instagram with the obligatory 'looking out over tanned knees into the sea' shots. Except my tan will be fake as I'm not blessed with bronze goddess skin. Not even on holiday.

See you soon!

Image from

Friday, 3 October 2014

We went rock climbing

Last weekend I went indoor rock climbing. Yep, I did.

It seemed like something fun that my boyfriend and I could try out together and I was a bit inspired by Anna’s weekly vlog from a few weeks ago, so I booked us in before I could change my mind.

We booked in for a taster session so we would be able to learn the very basics and just have a chance to actually get on the wall and have a go. Which we did. It was a lot of fun as well as a challenge. One tip, even if you’re not normally scared of heights: don’t look down! I was quite impressed with us both as we managed to get to the top of two of the walls (Mark obviously went first to set the standard...). It certainly felt like an all body workout using your legs, arms and core, and really wore me out more than I thought it would. My arms and shoulders really ached the next day!

So that’s that. Unfortunately we didn’t take any photos (so you don’t get the amusement of seeing me dangling from a rope) but I think we will be going back again at some point to learn some more of the basics and have another go. I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for something new to try out either on your own, with friends or as a couple. It’s one of those things that you don’t need to be amazing at in order to give it a go. And you might just find a new hobby.

Right, what can I have a go at next?

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Week in Photos

So here's what I've been up to lately, according to Instagram... And it appears to have involved a lot of food!

1. Wearing the first summary outfit of the. I forgot I'd bought this summery mint boucle skirt back in the depths of winter in the sale and had stored it away until I could wear with bare  legs.

2. Speaking of legs, I needed fake tan to get mine out.

3. I met up with one of my best university friends who I haven't seen in far too long and we went to a really tasty Italian tapas-style restaurant near work. The food was so nice.

4. Reorganising my wardrobe. This is the 'before'.

5. Kindle and pasta as my lunchtime companions.

6. I bought my first kimono having had my eye on this one from New Look. It wouldn't typically be my style, but I just love them!

7. I adored these sandals even though they are horrendously tacky. Sadly they had to go back because the sizing was so bizarre/crap (foot wouldn't go through straps...). BUT I have since found and bought a nicer and higher quality pair for a better price :)

8. First time at Jamie's Italian. Very nice, although not tastiest pasta I've ever had.

9. Trying out a peel off face mask. Love the novelty.

10. Picked up this cream shirt from Zara to brighten up my summer outfits a bit.

11. Afternoon cocktail. A but naughty but very much appreciated.

12. More food. Sorry.

13. I had my brows threaded for the first time at Blink. Full post to come...

14. Giving a lot of love to the Primark sandals. Perfect summer shoes for work as they're not too high but look smart and are surprisingly very comfy.

15. Rooting for England in World Cup. Seems like such a long time ago now...

16. My first taste of Itsu. So yummy but so far away from my office.

17. Kimono number 2. I love the colour but unfortunately so do those little black flying bugs that are everywhere in the summer. Not really an item for the outdoors it turns out.

18. First BBQ of the year and these are the delicious cocktails my friend made, with gin, elderflower cordial, apple juice and fresh mint. So nice and refreshing. Complete with cute straws.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Hello July!

June has flown past quicker than you can say suntan lotion and somehow we are already in July, which will be a bit fuller for me than last month. So here's what July has in store for me and what I'm looking forward to in the month ahead... 

1. Live music fun in London. Mark and I managed to get some of those sneaky, super cheap tickets to the British Summer Time gigs in Hyde Park this month so I'll have the chance to hear some live music which I haven't done for a while. We're off to see Arcade Fire tomorrow, which is mostly for him. I know it's not the cool thing to say because Arcade Fire are super trendy, because they're just not really for me. I'm sure it'll be a fun atmosphere regardless and I get my own back on Sunday by dragging him along to see McBusted! Cheesy? Very. But I have a soft spot for McFly and they remind me of my teenage days. They should both be fun days out anyway. Fingers crossed the sun keeps his hat on!

2. Birthdays. My step-dad is turning 60 later on this month and then a day later is Mark's birthday, so lots of celebrations. It should be a fun (albeit expensive!) week or so that I'm looking forward to. Just need to get those pressie ideas sorted now...

3. Spending limit. After a huge clear out and purge of my wardrobe last month I bought myself a few things I needed (and a few I didn't need) to fill the gaps in my summertime wardrobe. Several shopping bags, a few online orders and 2 kaftans later and I'm all shopped out. Coupled with the expensive month I'm likely to have actually doing things in July, I'm not going to be spending any more money on myself for things I don't need until next payday. Because I actually don't need anything. Unless it's broken or has run out, it can wait.

4. Fitness and improved diet. Now that I'm finally feeling better and have a clean bill of health I'm trying to fuel my body better and get in some exercise for my overall well-being as well as that predictable goal of summer toning. It's early days yet as I committed to this a grand total of 2 days ago. But we're on day 3 and going strong so far. This week I am trying to be particularly strict with putting good things into my body and will probably ease off slightly once I'm into the swing of things. I have to say though, I haven't felt any hungrier or less satisfied after having salads and fruit instead of sandwiches and crisps. And I went for a run last night for the first time in months (having previously convinced myself that running just isn't for me and resigning myself to the cross-trainer) and it was the best run I have ever done on that route. Something just clicked into place. Feeling pretty good about all of this at the moment so am hoping to maintain some of it throughout July. Weekends are off-plan cheat days though. Obviously. So don't judge me by my weekend food instagrams!

5. Pre-wedding 'do' #2. My mum, sister and I have a day planned in London as a nice pre-wedding day out. So a very sedate and Mum-friendly sort of hen do I suppose. We have afternoon tea and shoe shopping on the cards. With Nikki living further north and all of us with busy/conflicting work schedules we don't get to see each other as a trio very often so I'm really looking forward to it. I'll remind myself of those sentiments when we're in our 6th crowded shoe shop and Nikki is agonising over what shade of cream the heels she's holding are.

And those are the main things for me this month. Looking pretty positive all round. 
So come on July, let's be having you.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Little Makeup Haul ft. Ben Nye and MUFE

My favourite foundation has been nearing the end of the bottle for a little while and last week we were approaching crisis territory with only a few drops left. (Yep sure, I have other foundations. But none of them are as good as this one. I know you understand). Reaching the end of my beloved Make Up For Ever Face & Body Foundation is always a bit of a pain as there are very few stockists in the UK. It's just not a brand we sell here for some reason.

However, one place you can get it is Guru Makeup Emporium which has one store in London and a very handy website, from which I have bought my last few MUFE bottles after running out.

I was tempted by the other brands on the website to add to my order though and after doing some research settled for a couple of the infamous Ben Nye loose face powders. As I was already paying postage for my foundation I told myself it made more sense to buy more things.
Terrible logic.

Although the super famous product is the Banana powder due to Kim K's permanently flawless face and Instragramming of herself all powdered up, I don't think the yellow tone would work for my complexion and, having done a bit of online research, I wanted something that would be an all-over setting powder for me.

I went for the Ben Nye Luxury Powder in Buff and the Neutral Set Colourless Powder, both of which have some really strong reviews. These are supposed to be really good at keeping the shine at bay due to the fact that the brand's roots are in theatrical makeup which is what sucked me in as, come lunchtime, I do suffer from the shine. I have only had a dabble so far so can't comment yet on whether they live up to their reputation, but I'll update when they've spent a bit longer in my makeup bag.

Neutral Set, 1.75oz £5.50; Luxury Powder in Buff 1.5oz £9.95

The powder is really finely milled and the tubs come with sifters at the top which are handy but I'm sure will not prevent a powder mishap in the near future. Having said that, I won't sob too much over any spillages as you do get a lot for your money in comparison with high end brands.

Make Up For Ever Face & Body Foundation in shade#20 £29.95

This foundation has truly holy grail status with me after discovering it on my year abroad in France. It's pricey but to me it's worth it. Get the foundation right and everything else falls into place much more easily.

So there's my little shopping haul from last week. If you're interested in either of these brands then I really recommend the stockist Guru Makeup Emporium. Items are always packaged up carefully and usually arrive the very next day. Perfect if you're nearing the panic stage at the end of your favourite foundation.

If you'd be interested in a full post on the foundation or powders (once they've had a fair trial obviously) then I'd be more than happy to oblige so just let me know in the comments :) Oh and I'd love anyone else's thoughts on the Ben Nye powders or any other bits from the range that you think I should try.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Week in Photos

So here's what I've been up to recently, according to Instagram...

1. I made a New Look sale order a couple of weeks ago before I went away and finally got a chance to wear this blazer last week. Part of me loves it and part of me thinks it looks a little prim. Hmmm

2. I met up again with the lovely Ellie from Mantra Pixie and we had a lovely little chat and catch up. And we ate some seriously good food. Patty and Bun was closed (sob) so we ended up in Burgers and Cocktails instead and both the burgers and the cocktails were yummy. Bubblegum gin? Yes please.

3. A little bit of lunch time shopping...whoops. In my defence, House of Fraser had a brand sale event on at the time and I didn't keep everything I ordered.

4. I normally meet up with my two best friends regularly for dinner/coffee/cocktails but we thought we'd switch it up with a lovely sunny breakfast date last week. I was full until well into the afternoon after the eggs benedict and copious amounts of tea and juice.

5. Cracking out a different (and much neglected) scarf here, but it didn't last long. Although it's pretty, these floaty/chiffon type scarves are just a bit too light weight to be practical.

6. Lunch at Bill's and I wasn't feel too hungry so opted for the salad (plus sweet potato fries which you can spy in the background there...). Such a nice salad with plenty of yummy bacon and avocado and no skimping on the dressing. Probably not THAT healthy but definitely tasty.

7. So last week I got back from a work trip to Kosovo. I've never visited a Balkan country before and it was great. Everyone in Pristina was so friendly and the bars had a fun atmosphere. Oh and we visited an actual bear cute! I took this snap whilst doing some work on our apartment balcony in the morning sunshine. It was a really good trip but I was ready to come home at the end of the week...too much time with one colleague can be a little wearing after a while!

8. Cinema trip to see Maleficent. I really enjoyed this and thought Angelina Jolie was a great casting. I imagine some of the effects would have looked great in 3D, but having to wear 2 pairs of glasses to watch a film just doesn't  really appeal.

9. Back to my favourite summery scarf but with bare legs! The sun finally has its hat on here in the UK. I am an eternal jeans wearer but thought I should try to switch it up a bit so slapped on a bit of faux glow and went for a dress. It's made me realise I was a bit hung up on not getting my legs out ever and pushed me towards getting a couple more dresses for work and play. Now I just have the (surprisingly difficult) task of finding something that isn't bum skimming. I'll keep you posted...

On to the next weekend now!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

A box of brilliant beauty goodies

A couple of weeks ago an email from Latest in Beauty dropped into my email inbox advertising their latest box of make up and skincare goodies - the British Beauty Blogger Dream box. None of the beauty boxes from this website have caught my eye in a while but, having had a quick look, this one was mostly full of items I really wanted to try (as expected really, as it was put together by a blogger!) and for £19.95 it seemed great value so I snapped one up.

Quite a few products were crammed in and there was a handy little booklet telling you what each product was for which is always useful with this sort of goody box, where it isn't always clear how to use every item. 
There are no obvious duds or filler items here but there were some clear star products that I'm most excited to try out.

La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water. Essie Nail Polish. 
Benefit it's potent! eye cream. Bee Good Honey & Wild Water Mint 3-in-1 Cleaning Water.
LOLA Make Up Kabuki Brush. L'Occitane Divine Lotion.
Charlotte Tilbury K.I.S.S.I.N.G Lipstick sachet. Bourjois Cream Blush.
Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara.

Particularly I can't wait to use the mascara (which is a full size tube!), the Benefit eye cream (which I've heard great things about) and the L'Occitane lotion (which is something I'd never have bought otherwise). The kabuki will be perfect for some serious powder buffing too.

And here are the other bits and pieces which I'll enjoy using too.

Kneipp Herbal Baths oils. REN Satin Perfection BB Cream.
Makeup Revolution Awesome Eyeshadow & Eyebrow Palette.
Elemis Treat Your Feet Foot Cream. Roger & Gallet Gingembre Rouge perfume.
Janjira Hand Wash.

The eyeshadow palette shade that I received is a bit bright for me but I'll use some of the neutral shades at least, and the REN and perfume samples are great for travel. I may just have to gift the bath oil to a friend as we only have a shower in my house, so I won't get any use out of that one!

I'm yet to try out any of the bits but if anything impresses then I'm sure it'll pop up in a post on here. If you want to know how I got on with anything in particular then just let me know.

The British Beauty Blogger Dream box has now sold out (was definitely one of their best offerings!) but if you want to take a look at the contents for yourself and what they're all used for then you can see it on the Latest in Beauty website here). FYI: I bought this myself after receiving their standard mailing list email promo. If you like trying new brands/products or just like the excitement of being send a goody bag of things then it's worth keeping an eye on what they're coming out with as some of the boxes are really good (last year's Glamour edit box!) and these ones seem to sell out pretty sharpish.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Hello June!

Yay the official summer months are finally here! (Although you wouldn't know it from looking out the window).
So here's what June has in store for me and what I'm looking forward to in the month ahead... This one's short and sweet.

1. Kosovo work trip. Yep work are sending me off again on another adventure next week for 5 days, although this time I'm not going on my own and will have some travel company so that will be nice. I feel really lucky to have been able to do a little bit of travel with my company this year, especially to places that I otherwise might not get the chance to visit. On a more shallow level, I will also enjoy the slightly warmer weather and the opportunity to browse in Duty Free at Heathrow.

2. Getting life back on track. I feel like I've developed a few frayed edges over the last 5 weeks or so and I need to regroup and pull everything back on track. A few things have gotten a bit disorganised and I'm finishing work each day feeling like I have a million things that need doing at home but not getting very much done. I have felt constantly tired and a little under the weather which hasn't helped either and has just left me feeling a bit bleh lately. So there are a few places I can start: I need a big tidy up and reorganisation in my bedroom and with my wardrobe. Never underestimate how good this can be for the soul. My floordrobe irritates me every time I have to rifle through for what I want to wear that day. Generally leading to me wearing 5 outfits mix and matched and on rotation. The next thing that needs immediate attention is diet and exercise. I had this in a good routine but due to holidays, hen weekends and general illness, for the last 4 weeks I have not been pulling my weight. Figuratively and literally. Time to sort it out and get less lazy. I'm sure my body will thank me for spending less time with the junk food and more with the cross trainer. Any ideas for continued inspiration? I'd love to hear them.

3. Summer officially starting. I am looking forward to spending more weekend time outside, wearing less layers and having more pub garden lunches. I do love the early summer, I think it's probably my favourite time of year, so I can't wait for it to come into full swing. It must have gone to my head as, dare I say it, I might even be convinced to watch some of the World Cup with the boyfriend. As long as cold cider or Pimms is provided.

So that's all for this one. I don't have many plans in place yet for June but I think that's okay. It will give me more time to re-focus on myself and feel like I'm back on my A game.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Week in Photos

So here's what I've been getting up to over the last couple of weeks, according to Instagram. Bumper edition.

1. Knowing that we were off to Center Parcs and would be spending some time in the pool and spa I went on the hunt for some new swimwear. I wanted pretty but functional, so I wouldn't have any mishaps in the water rapids.
2. I've been getting my fake tan on. I've used good and bad and a full post will be coming soon, but I always go back to this cheap but cheerful option.
3. Discovered a new favourite Starbucks drink: Refreshas. Probably definitely not worth the money but they are nice.
4. I spent a lovely long weekend on Brighton beach for my big sister's hen do. It was such beautiful weather for it and I really did have such a fun weekend and got some bonding time with my sister. Roll on the wedding!
5. My diet has really suffered from having a slightly hectic schedule for the last month. Less pizza must be consumed in June.
6. Finally re-organised my foundations and squeezed them all into this makeup bag. I need to remind myself I only have 1 face. I do not need all of this and cannot (I repeat, cannot) buy any new foundations for the foreseeable.
7. Scampi and chips on the beach. P.S. What you win by not getting sand everywhere you then lose in sheer painfulness on a pebble beach.
8. I have been wearing this bright scarf constantly lately. A strappy camis. Refusing to give in when it's still a bit rainy and grey.
9. Best tshirt ever. Fact. I am even wearing it as I type. It's from River Island and is the perfect level of slouchy without having to upsize. Good neckline too and not see-through. And only £12. I want more, but none of the other colours are for me.

10. Here I am on hen do night #1 with obligatory 'Maid of Honour' sash. Loved it!
11. Celebrating a friend's birthday with cocktails at our usual bar in town.
12. The wind is doing us no favours here but after Brighton withdrawal Mark and I popped to the seaside over the Bank Holiday weekend. We did chips and ice cream and a slush puppy, cos you have too. Also spent far too many pennies on the 2p machines and winning me a purple minion!
13. It seems like aaages ago now but I jetted off on my own on a work trip since my last update. It was really good but was happy to be home afterwards.
14. This was one of the few bits of 'organised fun' that we took part in at Center Parcs. Other than this we mostly cycled around exploring, enjoyed the outdoors, had fun in the pool, relaxed in the spa and drank lots of Prosecco. Bliss. It was so nice to just get away and have time to relax. I'm quite a naturally hectic person, so even at the weekends I don't really 'chill'.
15. As I'm sure you've noticed, I rebranded my blog. I Buy Pretty Things is no more and I am now to be found on all platforms as Girl Chat Blog. I really like the fresh new look and feel reinspired with my blog.
16. Have been doing a little bit of shopping. New Look sales are my weakness. But it doesn't count if it was already hovering in your 'wish list' at full price before it got reduced, right?
17. Self-indulgent instagram here because I liked the picture. This was hen night #2
18. We rounded off the Bank Holiday weekend yesterday with a trip to Westfield and of course a Pinkberry. Sadly they've done away with my favourite strawberry but passion fruit wasn't a bad replacement. The salted caramel one was so good too! I resisted any actual shopping (my debit card let out a sigh of relief because pay day cannot come soon enough this month) and we just picked up some new work bits for Mark and his new role at his job :)

Phew, that was a long'un. If you made it this far, well done! I won't leave it so long next time.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Welcome to Girl Chat

Hi everyone. Welcome to Girl Chat.

The new blog and all the stuff which accompanies it are finally up and running and I am really pleased with the result. As you can see, I've got a new layout as well as a new name and it all feels much more streamlined. It better projects what I want my corner of the internet to be.

So what do these changes mean for you, the reader? In one way, not a lot. I will still be blogging about the same things I have been for the past 6 months or so, mixing up shopping posts, life updates, weekend adventures, makeup or skincare spotlight pieces. And everything in between.  So content-wise I haven't changed.

However, I am planning on posting more and putting more time into my posts and the accompanying photography. Hopefully. Time is that ever-elusive commodity, so we can't make any promises, but now that I like the feel of my blog a whole lot more I feel more inspired to fill it with lots of content. Content which has the right 'feel' to it. I want this blog to be full of all the things you would chat with friends about.

Secondly, all my social media usernames have now been brought in line with my new blog name. So if you followed me before on Twitter or Instagram then you will still be following me, I'll just be under the name 'girlchatblog'. I'll be keeping my old Twitter name active for a while though for anything that slips through the net.

So that's it, I'll keep this one short and sweet. If you're a regular reader then have a click around and see what's new. I've added a couple of pages and included all my social media and contact links so it's all a bit more user-friendly. Of course, if you notice any glitches then please let me know.

Otherwise, I'm really pleased with the new name and the new look and I hope it makes it a more friendly blog read for you :)

What do you think?

Monday, 12 May 2014

Blog Rebrand

I have had a blog rebrand on the brain for a while and I'm finally taking the plunge and changing the name of my blog so that it is more in line with the direction of the content that I want to post. With that change I will also be giving my layout a fresh new look which I am quite excited about. Now I just need to make sure my content and photos can keep up! I will also obviously be updating my various social media accounts to come in line with the new blog name, so I am under the same username everywhere. That way everything slots together nicely, I am easy to find on more than one platform and it all comes together nicely in my brain :)

I'm announcing this before the big change for 2 reasons:
1) To let any regular readers know that in a week or so my blog will be going invisible for a few days whilst I make the relevant changes. I haven't disappeared into the ether and I will be back :)
2) A new name and new avatar/profile photo means that I will most likely pop up in your twitter/ Instagram feeds and you'll be like 'erm who is that?' Well if that's the case...IT'S ME! So please don't delete me thinking I'm a stranger invading your timeline. I will pop a post up on here as soon as the changes are done though so I can introduce you all to the new look for what is currently 'I Buy Pretty Things'.

So that's all I needed to say really. Here's to much more blogging in the future!
See you on the other side.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Beauty Haul

I did a little bit of shopping in Boots the other day, fuelled by the fact that I had run out of a few items, but also by the fact that Boots had some offers on. But then, Boots always has one offer or another running.
Here’s what I got:
My night cream just ran out, which was long awaited because it was a bit pants to be honest. I bought this Nivea Rich Moisturising Day Cream to replace it and, although it isn’t a specific evening formula, so far it has seemed pretty good at moisturising more deeply.
Toner is something that I don’t go wild about, I just want it to feel refreshing and to have a nice clean scent. The Nivea Refreshing Toner fits the bill and was inexpensive, so a winner all round if you just want something functional like me.

The L’Oreal products were slightly more unknown territory. It’s not one of my go-to brands, except for the L’Oreal Superliner which I used to use religiously. Fed up of having liquid  eyeliners transfer, smudge and flake away before it’s even home-time, I decided to go back to my old faithful. The L’Oreal eyeliner line-up is slightly more confusing these days though, with 3 products that all ultimately look the same. I bought the Black Lacquer as it looked most similar to the old packaging I used to buy, with the blue font. It is a good eyeliner and it out-performs the felt tip pens but sadly it’s not ‘the one’. 

On a whim I then opted for the Telescopic mascara which I am still yet to try. Finally is a product that I had really high hopes for but am really disappointed with. The L’Oreal Nude Magique Eau De Teint was, on paper, everything I look for in a foundation. Light weight, long-lasting, water based formula, and a matte-satin finish. Unfortunately the result on my face was not the same. At only 20ml it is a pretty stingy offering and ends up at the expensive end of the high street brands. The colour range is also not great. I bought the lightest shade and, although this was okay for me it would be too orange toned for people who are actually fair-skinned. The formula is not long-lasting enough for me and doesn’t wear well on my skin, leaving me looking a bit washed out and shiny. Not a great one for me. I’m sure I’ll bring it out for a bit of air time every so often but it is definitely not a contender for everyday wear. Not for me anyway.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Hello May!

Yes I'm a little late to the party on this one but I AM here so that's what counts. In my books May is the perfect spring to summer month, so here's what awaits...

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1. Three day weekend. Need I say more? If every weekend was three days the long the world would be a better place. A day for fun, a day for bits that need doing and a day for relaxation. Except I ignored the last two and just did the first this time around.

2. I am off to Center Parcs next week and cannot wait. Yes it a holiday in the UK and yes it might be rainy and chilly, but I don't care. I haven't taken a single day of annual leave yet this year so we are just looking forward to having some outdoorsy chill out time together.We will be bike riding but we're also booked into the spa, so I think we've found a balance. Now I just need to decided what spa treatment to treat myself to.

3. The day after we get back from forest living I will be straight off to Brighton for my sister's hen do weekend. I've never been on a hen do and am quite excited, also obviously because it's extra special as it's my sister. I missed her last trip home so am looking forward to seeing her. And we never get to spend a night out together so it should be fun. Fingers crossed for no rain and the outfit I have in my head will not go well with soggy weather.

4. Busy month at work. I probably end up saying this every month, but it really is a busy time at work for me at the moment so what with having time off I will have to be on top of it all. I did get a little pay rise at the very start of the month though, so I will be doing a silent yay me and using it as motivation to power on.

5. Finally I am hoping to get back into fitness. I picked up a bit of a fitness routine a couple of months ago but over the last 3 weeks it has fallen apart due to work trips, other commitments and not being that well. I want to pick it back up in May. Need to be in shape in case I do ever get that holiday abroad this year. Naturally, I have bought myself new sports bras as motivation...

Monday, 21 April 2014

Got Myself a New Makeup Bag

I’ve been on the lookout for a new makeup bag for a while now. I wanted something transparent, so I could see what I was looking for without hunting for it or tipping everything out, but I didn’t want it too big/too small or too cheap looking. I never saw anything that ticked those boxes so my makeup has been left looking sad in its current state.
Then I saw the perfect solution in Next when I was browsing at clothes I definitely didn’t need, so picked it up straight away.
And here it is. Yes, definitely a boring purchase and potentially a boring post subject. But I’m very pleased with it, so humour me.
I keep my everyday makeup in here (which I switch things in and out of every so often) and there’s room to throw a few extra bits and pieces in when I need to, for example if I’m taking a couple of lipstick choices with me for the weekend or plan on adding some eyeshadow to my makeup for the evening.

Next had some lovely other makeup bags of various sizes too, so if you’re in need of a new one that’s reasonably priced then it’s definitely worth a look.