Things I Love #1: a pre-holiday beauty haul

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Yep – I’m totally jumping on that ‘things I love’ blogging bandwagon. Because a) I love reading them and b) it’s just way easier than reviewing one single product at time (honest truth guys).

This month, I’ve mostly been buying things for my summer hols – excited face. I’m on a self-imposed ‘only-pack-what-you-need’ mission this time though. Don’t worry, it won’t last – I’ve already bought 2 of pretty much everything and a whole lot of miniature things that will most likely end up being dumped in the hotel bin by the end of the week away, as per.

However, there are a few things I know I will definitely not regret taking one little bit. These beauties are worth every penny and precious inch inside the suitcase (soz extra pants)…

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Palmers Coco Butter Natural Bronze: It’s that time of year again. Yep, so long jeans and tights and hello bare legs. As much as I hate my pasty skin though, I am actually sick of fake tanning. It just takes up so much time that I could be you know, watching Eastenders or drinking gin or something. However, this little product is the game-changer. I always moisturise post-shower, so why didn’t I think to get one with a tanning product in it before?! Two birds and all that. This gives an excellent, very natural colour. I applied it two nights in a row and I’m still tanned in all the right places five days later. It doesn’t fade as quickly as a proper fake tanning product (because it’s a moisturiser maybe? Who knows), but it does take slightly longer to blend in. And I have got some dodgy lines going on on my wrists. And there is a slight orange hue to the palms of my hands DESPITE washing them in what felt like 90 degree water for ten minutes afterwards. Other than that, this is a definite winner.

Avon anti-ageing facial suncreen, SPF50: If you know me, then you know that my biggest fear in life (after spiders. And the dark) is getting actual sun on my face. Aside from the fact that I can’t afford the amount of botox it would require to fix a sun-damaged face right now, I also have extremely fair skin. And no one needs the agony of a burnt face. Trust me, I’ve been there. This was a complete bargain, and while it’s quite a small bottle a little does go a long way. It rubs in nicely and as it’s oil-free it actually creates quite a good base for foundation. This will be coming everywhere with me over the summer months, in place of my usual daytime moisturiser.

Soap and Glory Hand Dream Super Cream: Handcreams, in my opinion, are always a bit hit and miss. If they smell nice they you can guarantee they’re so perfumed that they’ll actually dry your hands out even more. If they work then they’re either greasy and take ages to absorb, or smell really clinical. Soap and Glory are breaking that mould though, and this is a particular favourite of mine from their range. it sinks in quickly, and while it’s not the most hydrating hand cream I’ve ever used, it does the job well and has a long list of extras that some other brands don’t. Plus, I’m a total sucker for the packaging.

Barry M Sunset Daylight Curing nail varnish in Peach For the Stars and topcoat: Have I ever told you about the time I got married and my gel nails peeled right off? No? Well the long and short of it is that shellac, apparently, does not agree with my fingernails. I’ve tried four times now, but every time I’m left with peeling, dry nails after four days, max. Not only is expensive, but it’s annoying too – I don’t have the time to be painting my nails constantly. However, this little invention from Barry M’s new range looks promising. I haven’t actually tried it yet (see what I mean about nails taking time?!) but am hoping to give it a good read test on holiday. If it works then I’ll be buying the whole range, for real.

Botanics Radiant Youth Super Serum: This was a complete, 100% I-don’t-need-it-but-it’s-on-offer-so-I’ll-buy-it type purchase. And for once, it’s one that’s paid off. I quite like the Botanics range, and I was in the market for a new serum anyway, having used up my regular No7 one (that I’d had on go since Christmas, no less). Anything with the word ‘radiance’ in it is always guaranteed to get me interested – who doesn’t want more radiant skin, I ask you?! Anyway, this stuff is great – light and easily absorbed, I’ve been using it twice a day on clean skin and it is starting to make a difference – especially in reducing the size of my pores. Winner.

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Hometown tour: Rye in Spring

One of the things I am constantly told by people whenever I tell them where I live is just how lucky I am to live there. And I really am. Rye is so beautiful. I just don’t always have the time to appreciate it in all its beauty.

However, last week in an attempt to help with one of the many projects I’m currently working on, I took to the streets of my hometown, camera in hand to capture Rye in all its mid-spring glory. I crept out early; the streets were quiet, with just a few early birds going about their daily business.

I knew I had to be quick – the sky was thick with the threat of rain and the wind was picking up with every corner I turned, filling the air with the sight and scent of cherry blossom in full bloom.

It’s in these quiet moments that I appreciate where I live the most. I should really get out more often…

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Where does the time go?

Is a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. Because in between working, watching Eastenders and drinking the odd G&T or two, life has been slipping by at an alarming rate.

There has, of course, been more to life than the above – but trying to explain it all in words would take too long so I’ll keep it short and sweet and show you what’s been happening around here for the last few weeks instead…

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Celebrating my lovely nan’s 82nd birthday. I wish I’d captured more of this to be honest, but the 3 glasses of post-dinner Prosecco did me in and we all ended up asleep. // Alfie, the only 10 year old dog I know that still thinks he’s a puppy // Easter treats from my mum // And Easter drinks with the girls // A little Hema haul. Y’all know I can’t resist one of those at least once a month! // Styling a super colourful wedding. That cake was something else in real life. // Random Thursday night dinner and drinks in town. Something we don’t do often enough! // A hand tied bouquet for a best friend’s birthday – more on that coming soon! // Healthy food – I’ve always loved eating this way but been trying to find some new recipes recently and this one was inspired by possibly the BEST M&S salad I’ve ever had // Styling the Inspired Bakes stand with Jenny from Bellaboo and Beau, as well as holding styling sessions for brides at the Excel Wedding Fair; a lot of hard work but also a lot of fun // Some well deserved post-wedding fair champagne! // Styling a very simple and sophisticated wedding in London last weekend // Updating the kitchen for Spring/Summer with some bits from Asda – more on that in another post soon // Super pleased that my wild flower seedlings are doing so well – can’t wait to see what comes out of the mix soon! // Yeah, more cushions. I’m not even sorry.

Nearly all pics, bar the very first few, have been taken from my Instagram account which you can find here.

Spring Fashion 2015: (mostly) monochrome

I think it’s fair to say that, despite STILL having to de-ice my car this morning, it is officially Spring now, right?

And I couldn’t be more relieved. I’m over eating winter food for another year, over de-icing everything in living sight, and most definitely over wearing chunky knits, ankle boots and seven hundred strategically placed layers.

Which probably explains the overwhelming urge I’ve got to go on a wardrobe purge/new clothes binge IMMEDIATELY. And also because, you know, Spring fashion is good this year; for once it feels like it’s attainable – and, for the most part, 99.9% of what’s currently in fashion now has already been in fashion at least once, if not two or three times before – so you’ve probably got the basics for this year covered.

The only key thing that sticks out about this year is that lilac seems to be the accent colour shining through. Whether you love it or hate it, you can’t escape it this season. Personally, I doubt I’ll be wearing it much when it comes to clothing, but lilac nails, shoes and bags? Yes, yes, yes. I need you all.

Here are a few of the things I’ll be looking to add to my wardrobe over the coming weeks:

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1. That New Look clutch bag. YES on so many levels. Not that I use clutch bags more than approximately 4 times a year these days, but that is not important. At all.

2. Because I’m ever the optimist, there is a bikini on the wish list this year. This one is from M&S, a shop I’ve recently discovered I spend a disproportionate amount of time in. Is it because they’ve upped their game in all areas of style? Or is it because I’m not actually 21 anymore, despite what my brain regularly tells me? Who knows. Who even CARES when the stuff is this good.

3. If I buy just one thing from this list it will 100% be this skirt, from Next. The shape and length are perfect and it’s one of those rare items that I can genuinely see being a wardrobe staple that can be worn all year round.

4. I’m struggling with my addiction to gold jewellery at the moment. I’m literally drowning in the stuff. So it’s no surprise that this little gem from Z for Accessorize made it onto my wish list. And maybe then made it into the shopping cart. And is maybe winging its way to me as we speak. 

5. I’m loving jackets at the moment. And I’m aware I’m majorly late to the party with the whole jacket thing, but there’s something about this little number from Primark (obviously) that is calling out to me. Again, is it my age?!

6. Anyone else still loving the whole illusion skirt trend? Good, me too. Because I’m hoping to wear this on the holiday that I’m holding out for at some point this year. Knowing me, I will probably wreck it with fake tan/food/drink/nail varnish/all of the above within three hours of owning it, but seeing as it’s another Primark number I will more than likely just buy two anyway.

7. I’ve got a weird obsession with blouses/oversized vests like this one (which if from F&F, btw) at the moment. I don’t know why either, it’s just something that has magically happened over night – much like the M&S/jacket obsession. But, again, this would be a great piece to add to a holiday wardrobe to cover up on the beach/wear for a casual day sight seeing (see, positive holiday vibes are in full force: HINT HINT HUSBAND).

 

Monthly roundup: January 2015

Looking back over these photos makes me realise just how long this month has really been. When I get to the end of each year I can never really remember what happened all the way back in January, and it’s little wonder; it feels like it’s been about 9 weeks long.

I think this year it’s felt particularly drawn out though, because for the first time in about 6 years I’ve been struck down. Yep, the plague I was boasting about avoiding all over the Christmas period finally got me and I spent a very sorry week on the sofa drinking tea and snivelling. I think I got dressed a grand total of once that week, and that was only because I had to drag myself out of the house for a blood test.

Anyway, here are some of the highlights of the month, as captured by Instagram (mostly):

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(1) I always get sucked into buying Christmas decorations in the January sales. It kind of sets the tone for next year’s tree/house decor. These were from Matalan and Wilko’s and cost less that £10!
(2) Working at a wedding fair. I love meeting brides and grooms and chatting about their wedding plans.
(3) I love pink tulips. These were just the pick up I needed after a week of being ill, and reminded me that Spring is just around the corner.
(4) The first thing I do every morning is check my Timehop (anyone else loving that app? I’m completely addicted!) and this week it reminded me that this time three years ago I was trying on wedding dresses for the first time. This one obviously didn’t make the final cut, but the temptation to put it on and pretend to be Kate Middleton for five minutes was just too great.
(5) So last week I finally started my course in wedding floristry. I booked it back in July 2014 and have been itching to start it ever since. Hands down, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself and will hopefully add another string to my bow when it comes to wedding and event styling. Last week we made wired corsages, next week it’s bridal bouquets!
(6) Dressing a wedding yesterday with the snow coming down outside. It didn’t last, but looked magical while it was there.
(7) Ending the month on a high at a Great Gatsby themed 21st birthday party. You can tell you’re getting old when you spend more time at the chocolate fountain than you do at the bar.
(8) Starting a new month in style: with home made egg and bacon muffins and tea. Partly because I’m trying to cook more when possible, but mostly because we were too hungover to actually drive.

Interior lust: Cobalt Blue

While I’m not one to wish my life away (hello thirties, I hear you calling me), I did spend a vast proportion of 2014 wishing for 2015. Why? Well 2014 was the anticlimax of what had been a brilliant year before. If 2013 was the party, then 2014 was the hangover; I just couldn’t shake that feeling off and, stupidly, I planned absolutely nothing exciting to make me feel better. Not even a holiday.

So this year is going to be different. I have SO many exciting things to look forward to this year, and one of which will be moving house. We’ve lived in our current house for nearly seven years, and while I’ve loved it and it’s been perfect so far, it’s definitely time to move on. And I absolutely cannot wait to get decorating.

Our move is a way off yet, but that hasn’t stopped me obsessing over how I might decorate the new spaces we’ll call home. And one of the things that’s surprised me during this ‘research’ process (i.e. Pinterest, Pinterest, Pinterest) is how much my tastes have changed in seven years.

Some of the principles I’m keen to adopt when decorating our next house include clean lines, cosiness and a streamlined colour pallet that works throughout the entire house. And a heavy part of that colour pallet will, surprisingly, be blue.

Having lived in a small house for seven years, cobalt would never normally be my first choice when decorating – but the prospect of moving somewhere bigger means I can experiment more with colour. Here’s how I’m thinking cobalt might work – inside and out…

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No7 Beauty Advent Calendar: the best bits

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So by now we all know that I love Christmas. We also know that when I say I love Christmas, what I really mean by that is that I just love the run-up to Christmas. Sure, the big day itself is exciting and I love it, but I love the three weeks leading up to it and all the build up that brings even more. Especially when it comes to advent calendars.

Advent calendars are a tradition that’s hard to break. Yes, I know I’m probably the wrong side of 25 to be having one still, but every year I end up with one. Except for this year, when I actually ended up with four (completely by accident, I might add); two of the chocolate variety (obviously) and two of my new yearly tradition – the beauty variety.

After the success of last year’s You Beauty Advent Calendar, I bought another this year. At £50 for nearly £200 worth of stuff I thought it was a no-brainer. Except this year’s has sorely disappointed me. Either last year I was under a wow-this-is-amazing haze of lust for beauty advent calendars, or this year’s really IS a let down, but either way I’ll be reconsidering my options with that one next year (FYI, the samples were tiny this year and it felt like there were a lot of ‘filler’ products between the really good ones. Just my opinion there though!).

But not content with that, I also succumbed to the hype of the Boots No7 Beauty Advent Calendar. I couldn’t get my mitts on one of these for love nor money last year, so there I sat this year, poised over every single social media outlet, anticipating its arrival online. And I got one. And you know what? It’s actually pretty damn good. At £35 it’s cheaper than a lot of other beauty advent calendars out there and the mixture of sample sized products to full size is actually pretty well mixed. AND it goes up to Christmas Day, where a lot of others stop on Christmas Eve. I’ve still got three more windows to open, but seeing as I’ll be taking a little break over Christmas (and, you know, because when else can you use your Christmas tree as a photo backdrop?!) I thought I’d share my favourites with you now…

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Of all the products so far, these are the ones I have been using daily and will definitely be replacing once they’ve run out. In no particular order of favouritism, here’s what they are:

1. No7 Gel Look Shine Nail Varnish in Deep Wine: This could not be a more perfect product for me. I established around the time of my wedding that I actually can’t wear gels at all – within 48 hours of getting married my wedding manicure had all peeled off, and the ones I had after my honeymoon didn’t last much longer either. My toes are fine but my hands, it seems, are not so compatible (something to do with having oily skin, apparently!). So I love a good fake gel polish. This is one of my absolute favourite colours – I wear red all year round, but more so at Christmas time, obviously. At 4ml it’s not full size, but still big enough to get a fair few uses out of all the same.

2. No7 Nail Effects Nail Varnish in Disco Ball: Again, another great inclusion. Whether it’s fingers or toes you can’t really go wrong with sparkles, and this will definitely be making an appearance for New Year’s Eve.

3. No7 High Shine Lip Crayon in Daydreamer: I’m not much of a lipstick person on a day-to-day-basis, but this might mark the start of me trying a bit harder where that’s concerned. This is a generously sized sample that will last (me, at least) a long time and is the perfect nude shade – essentially it just enhances your natural lip colour and adds a bit of shine. Best part about it? It’s not sticky like lip gloss and doesn’t smudge like lipstick; it’s more the consistency of a lip balm, just a nicely coloured one.

4. No7 High Shine Lip Crayon in Delicate Pink: Again, another generously sized lip crayon. This one’s a light pink colour, with undertones of blue (great for making teeth look whiter, evidently!). I quite like how bold this is, so I’ve been building it up for a stronger look, but it can equally be used to create a more subtle hint of colour.

5. No7 Stay Precise Felt Tip Eyeliner: A full sized product that’s had so much use already that I’m having to ration myself in case it runs out over Christmas and I’m stuck without a replacement! The pigmentation is really strong and once it’s on there’s no smudging or flaking.

6. No7 Stay Perfect Metallic Eyes Pencil in Blackest: Contrary to the name, this is actually a very dark brown (yeah, I’m confused about that one too). I’ve been opting for brown eyeliners and mascaras for a while now; they’re slightly more subtle than black but still create that smoky effect perfectly. This has tiny flecks of silver glitter running through it, so is great for adding some sparkle to your eyes without going OTT. On the other end there’s a smudging brush, which is handy. The only thing I can’t work out is how to sharpen it – can you even sharpen a crayon?!

7. No7 Protect and Perfect Intense Night Cream: I adore the Protect and Perfect range, and at 25ml this is a pretty generous sample of face cream. I definitely believe the hype around this product; my skin certainly looks fresher and tighter when I use it, so it’s been nice to have a good quality night cream to treat my tired skin to in the run-up to Christmas.

8. No7 Skin Illuminator: At 10ml you’d be forgiven for thinking that this sample won’t last long. However, you’d be wrong – a tiny dollop of this goes a long, long way. The directions state to use under foundation for a ‘natural glow’ but seeing as I create my own glow on a daily basis anyway thanks to the wonder that is oily skin, I’ve been using this as more of a highlighter instead. Although not strictly a highlighter as such, when applied over blusher or just above the brows this does a fairly similar job by creating a nice subtle shimmer. Definitely one I’ll purchase in full size once it’s run out.

Despite there being the odd thing I wasn’t so fond of (eye make up remover, body lotion and shower creme, I’m looking at you here) and despite the fact that not one but TWO of the items were missing from this advent calendar (a mistake swiftly rectified by Boots when I contacted them), I will definitely be buying this one again next year.

Anyone else bought a beauty advent calendar this year? Got one you’d recommend me trying for next year? Or were you as disappointed as I was with the You Beauty offering this year?!