Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Instagram: April 2014


a spot of afternoon tea • wedding selfie • so many stripes • grandparents' new cat • homemade croissants • yellow roses • the greek yoghurt ben & jerry's ice-cream tubs are amazing • homemade focaccia • dissertation hand-in • spring haircut • blossoms • the best jumper ever • LVNDR heart ring • banana and nutella french toast • last lecture selfie • sunday reading

This month has gone by in a flash. I've been so busy with the last month of university that my social life has definitely suffered! I'm definitely changing that in May - I think I deserve quite a few drinks if I'm honest. I handed in my dissertation, which I've gone on and on about but it requires just one more mention before I shut up about it forever! I officially leave uni next Tuesday, and graduate in October, then I have to start looking for post-grad jobs - so scary, I don't even know where to start! As you can see, I've been coping with the stress by copious amounts of baking and ice-cream. My weight is on the up. I need to get back on the shred in May! I also attended my cousin's wedding which was rather eventful - the less said about that one, the better. On the animal side of things, I found out that my grandparents took in a stray cat recently and went to visit because it was my grandad's birthday. The cat is called Molly and she's not shy at all; that photo was taken within a few minutes of meeting her - jumped right up on my lap and stayed there for ages. I forgot what it's like to have a cat around but, bloody hell, she moults like crazy so I do not miss that! Meanwhile, Tegan had her spring-time bath and haircut. I think you'll agree she looks so cute, bless her. I also did quite a lot of shopping this month, but then again what else is new?

How was your April?
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Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Sunday Edit #1

Hello everyone, I hope you're all well and have had a lovely Easter! I've been thinking for some time about doing little life updates on the blog. Aside from the monthly Instagram posts, I wanted to check in from time to time and let you know what I've been getting up to. 

So I introduce to you my new series - The Sunday Edit.

Now I'm not the most exciting person, and I don't go out all the time or get invited to PR events etc, so these type of posts may not be a weekly occurrence. However, I feel like I don't really reveal much about myself on this blog. I mean, it's been live for over a year now, so perhaps I should allow you lovely followers a snippet into my life.

So what exactly have I been up to this week? Well, after months of academic torture I finally handed in my dissertation. I felt like it was 11,175 words of pure rubbish at first, but then I had a bit of a think on it and a few days after (with the help of lots of Easter chocolate) I suddenly felt a whole lot better about it. The dissertation itself only counts for 20% of my overall degree and I'm currently averaging a mid-high 2.1 so hopefully it won't be so awful that it'll bring my grade down! I'm feeling quite melancholic about university at the moment. I've got two other assignments to hand in over the next few weeks and then my university "career" is finished. I have had the best three years of my life and have met some wonderful people who I know will become life-long friends. I've also learned a lot about myself, as cheesy as that sounds! Another exciting thing that happened this week was receiving my graduation letter and promptly booking my guest tickets for the big day. It's not until the end of October which means there is a huge wait, but I'm so looking forward to that too!

Now that university is almost over and my dissertation is out of the way, I can finally read books that I actually want to read. Don't get me wrong, some of the books I've had to read for my degree have been really enlightening but there's something about reading for pleasure that is second-to-none. I like not having a deadline to work to and taking my time to absorb the words on the page. The same goes for creativity. Being an English and Creative Writing student completely sucked all creativity from me. Before I started my degree I wrote something every day, even if it was just a couple of paragraphs, but as soon as there was a deadline I suddenly couldn't write anything! It was so unbelievably frustrating. Now that I don't have that kind of pressure I hope to write a lot more - and that also includes blogging! Writing aside, I've got a pile of books that are waiting to be read. This week I've been absolutely loving Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It's a fantastic thriller with mysterious outcomes. I won't give anything away here, as I'm still in the process of getting through it, but I will say that it makes for very interesting reading. I'm aware that there's a film in the making, but apparently it's only going to be loosely-based on the book. I do hope it does it justice though!

Another thing that I've been really into the past few weeks is baking. I've been pretty stressed lately and I find that it has become a bit of a creative outlet when writing fails me. I'm so proud of my efforts! I think you need to give yourself time out to relax, whatever it is that de-stresses you. I turned my hand to savoury bakes and decided to make bread and croissants. I've never made either before so I was chuffed with how they both turned out! I made two focaccia breads for a family dinner - one was sea salt and olive oil, the other was rubbed with garlic - and they went down very well (I popped a photo up on my Instagram is you want to see my efforts). And at the start of this week I attempted homemade croissants. Let me tell you something, you need a lot of patience in order to make these little treats, but with the help of Mary Berry I persevered. It was quite a repetitive process because you have to roll out the dough with butter and then chill for hours at a time. All in all, it was over six hours before I even got to the baking. My parents really liked them, and I was super happy that they resembled actual croissants. When I have some more free time, I will definitely attempt them again. I'm thinking of dedicating one day a week to take some time out and bake. I hope I can stick to that! Perhaps I should open my own bakery one day?

What have you guys been up to this week? Also, let me know if you think these types of posts are a good idea. I was thinking of posting recipes here too. I want to branch out a little more! I would love to know your opinions!
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Monday, 14 April 2014

Avéne Soothing Hydrating Serum

I haven't got much experience with serums. In fact, up until I was sent the Avéne Soothing Hydrating Serum* by Escentual I hadn't really incorporated one into my skincare routine. I usually just cleanse, tone and then go straight in with my chosen moisturiser. However since this welcome addition I can honestly say that I have observed a noticeable difference in my skin.

The Avéne Soothing Hydrating Serum is just one of a whole bunch of dermo-cosmetic products based on Avéne Thermal Spring Water. The Avéne thermal spring is located in Southern France and has been used for over 40 years to produce clear and bacteriologically pure water from the depths of the mountains. The water has a pH value close to neutral which is great because that makes it free from any nasties that will damage the skin. It also has a low mineral content and incorporates essential trace elements and silica, leaving a thin softening and protecting film on the skin. These exceptional properties make it ideal for treating sensitive, irritated or damaged skin, which it soothes, comforts and softens.

It all sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Now that the science bit is out of the way, I thought I would share my experience with this spotlight product. I've felt a bit of a change in my skin type recently, going from predominantly dry to more of a combination, so this serum is helping some. The product is water-based but light and oil free so it's suitable for all skin types, especially those with sensitive skin (as it claims). Its gel-like consistency means it's easily absorbed and instantly hydrates. I apply this morning and night after cleansing and toning, and before my day/night moisturiser. It feels so light, cool and nourishing on the skin, and doesn't leave a sticky film on your face. As an added bonus, I think that it would make an effective alternative to after-sun as it contains such soothing properties. Heed my advice: keep this serum to hand in the summer months! 

It comes in simple packaging and has a great no-fuss pump which is really handy too. The bottle is made of thick glass so you can see how much actual product you have left - another plus!

Have you tried any Avéne products? Do you use a serum? If so, which is your favourite?

Avéne Soothing Hydrating Serum retails at £17, but can be bought from Escentual at the discounted price of £14.45

*PR Sample
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Thursday, 10 April 2014

ZARA Stripes

Hello everyone, hope you're all well! Oh look, a rare fashion post from me... I have to say that ZARA is so on point with their clothes right now. I've managed to feed my nautical striped top obsession some more, but I also recently bought a gorgeous black chained sweater from their online store which I'm also loving!

I'm not really sure why I've suddenly acquired all of these horizontal striped tops and dresses but I've been gravitating towards them whichever shop I seem to go into. There's something about them that makes them super easy to style. Whether that's pairing tops and knitwear with a pair of jeans (Topshop Joni's are my favourite), a midi skirt, black leggings, or a leather skater skirt; to wearing striped dresses with tights or, even better, barelegged. Plus, stick on your favourite red lipstick and you've got instant Parisian chic. What girl doesn't love that?

Each garment is so comfortable, breathable, and looks effortless. From left to right they are:


Which styles are you absolutely loving at the moment?
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Monday, 7 April 2014

Have a Lush Easter

Another month, another Lush haul! I bought so many bath time goodies the last time I visited my local store, and I'm sure you're all aware that they do some fabulous seasonal collections. I didn't want to go too crazy, because these products do have use-by dates and I don't have time to have a bath nine times out of ten. I do love a nice hot bath to relax in, but I just wish I could have more of them!

Lush's Easter collections always bring a bit of sunshine into your day. I mean, just look at how bright and sparkly they are! Deciding on a few spring treats from this year's selection, I'm certainly looking for a Lush Easter break!

This huge bath bomb contains a secret treat, and I do love little surprises. Immaculate Eggception comes in two different colours: yellow or pink. I chose the pink for obvious girly reasons. You crack open the shell to reveal a mini bath bomb - either a chick or a bunny. I think the pink one has the chick and the yellow one has the bunny, but don't quote me on that one! Once all the bits are in the bath, they leave your water a lovely coral colour. Both variations share the same ingredients, and these include grapefruit oil, fair trade vanilla absolute, and lemon oil. All in all it makes for an uplifting, refreshing scent.

After seeing a demonstration of just how many bubbles these carrots make, I just had to pop them in my basket. I've used these bubble bars by swishing the whole bunch under the hot tap and in the bath, but you can also untie them and use each carrot separately. It doesn't matter either way, they last ages! I love the smell of them too - really fresh but difficult to put my finger on. I looked up the product on Lush's website and I was surprised to see that they described the scent as "tropical" and then "blackcurrant". So I'm still a little confused fragrance-wise, but I really like it nonetheless! Bunch of Carrots contain sicilian lemon oil, bergamont oil, and buchu oil (that's your blackcurrant scent derivative!) Carrots in the bath, who'd have thought it?

The Bunny bubble bar was inspired by the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. It's such a cute little creation, I think you'll agree. On the outside it's chalky white but underneath and inside it's lilac. It smells of vanilla and is so easy to crumble into a running bath. It's full of rich oils and butters to leave your skin soft and conditioned after a good old soak in pink bubbles. It also contains blue cornflower petals which adds another dimension to bath time.

Last but not least, the Golden Egg. Even though it is billed as a bath bomb, I would get two uses out of this by cutting it in half and using it as more of a bubble/sparkle bar. As you can see it's very sparkly! It fizzes out slowly compared to other bombs and is actually described as a cross between a bath melt and bomb for a luxurious golden bath. It boasts 22 ingredients, 10 of which are completely natural (the other 12 are safe synthetics), and includes cocoa butter, sweet wild orange oil, bergamont oil, and olive oil. It smells delicious too - a gorgeously sweet honey fragrance that stays with you after submersion. If you don't like a bit of glitter then perhaps steer clear of this one, but you could try other products with similar fragrances like the Honey Bee Bath Bomb, or Honey I Washed The Kids Soap.

I'm always really impressed with Lush. They are incredibly creative and their staff are always so wonderful, friendly and helpful. While nothing beats a chocolate egg, I'm sure a themed bath bomb or bubble bar would be a lovely gift for someone this Easter!

Have you tried any of the Easter collection?
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Friday, 4 April 2014

Lauren's Way Darker Than Dark Glam Tan

Ah, fake tan... If you know me - or have seen a picture of me - then you know that I'm pretty pale. I struggle to wear a foundation darker than vanilla, and I don't tan naturally after a day in the sun. I don't burn either! I've tried a few fake tans in my time, and I have to say that I really don't enjoy applying them, mostly because I'm too lazy and too messy to get it right. I was, however, intrigued by the Lauren's Way collection as so many beauty bloggers have mentioned nothing but good things since its release. Curiosity got the better of me on this one and a couple of months ago I bit the proverbial bullet.

LW Darker Than Dark Glam Tan is billed as a long-lasting self-tan spray formula that can be used on both the face and body. The spray bottle allows for easy and even application, which immediately appealed to me as I'm always worried about applying too much at a time. And nothing's worse than a patchy, dodgy tan! Darker Than Dark provides the skin with a deeply bronzed colour which develops over the course of eight hours. As with any fake tan they recommend shaving 24 hours beforehand, and using a body polish (or an exfoliant) and moisturiser on any dryer skin (elbows, knees, ankles etc). A couple of spritz onto a tanning mitt (sold separately) and you're good to go, working with circular motions over the skin to avoid any streaks. I gave my body and face one coat of product in less than twenty minutes - back and all! It dried within 60 seconds of applying so you can get dressed and go about your day. I was a bit worried about the tan's development at first - my face looked rather orange but once I had a shower I was left with a lovely summer glow! You can even apply more if you desire a deeper tan.

I don't fake tan very often so I wouldn't say I'm an experienced tanner, but I'm off to my cousin's wedding tomorrow and really wanted a bit of colour. I have to say that having a tan really does make you feel better! People around me noticed it too - the girls at work said they prefer me with a tan. I don't know whether to be offended at my paleness, haha. All I can say is that I'll definitely be tanning more, especially in the summer. I do love that beautiful glow it gives. LW gets a big thumbs up from me!

Lauren's Way Darker Than Dark Glam Tan retails at £19.95 and is available from the Lauren's Way website.
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Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Afternoon Tea at Bill's

The prospect of afternoon tea has always been something that I've absolutely loved. Quintessentially British, there's nothing I like more than sitting down to a pot of tea and delicious slice of cake in the afternoon. If I could do it every day I would, but I think I would be the size of a house. For a belated Mother's Day treat, I took my Mum to Bill's in Chichester with the promise of tea, finger sandwiches, and cake. We were soon lost in chatter and making yummy noises!

Tucked away in the town's butter market, Bill's is one of the most laid back restaurants I think I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. Its main area is located upstairs, and is spaciously decorated with a very lived-in style. It was just my thing. I have to say that the staff were so lovely and attentive too. I'm really glad I didn't book a table for last Sunday because apparently the place was heaving, what with it being Mother's Day. Luckily on a Tuesday afternoon it was pretty quiet, and therefore the atmosphere was so much more relaxed. There's nothing I hate more than dining in a busy restaurant, being rushed through the meal and then practically pushed out the door. Well nothing of the sort here.

We grabbed an empty booth after being told that we basically had the run of the restaurant, and provided the staff with our tea order. We decided on the Breakfast Tea, which was really delicious and not too strong-tasting (I like mine quite milky, sorry not sorry). What's great is that they have plenty of other tea options for you to choose from including peppermint, camomile, spiced chai, fresh mint, and green tea.

Presented with a tall cake stand almost gave me giddy feelings, and I'm sure it wasn't just because I hadn't eaten since breakfast. It made afternoon tea feel so proper! From finger sandwiches to scones, we really were spoilt for choice. But you can bet that we scoffed them all between us! We decided to work our way up, starting with the finger sandwiches, which were scrumptious. Classic cucumber and cream cheese; egg mayonnaise; tomato, ham and English mustard; and smoked salmon - each morsel was worth it! 

Next, we shared a cranberry and pumpkin seed flapjack, a slice of chocolate fudge cake, a mini lemon meringue pie, and a mini strawberry cheesecake. Oh my goodness, I can't rate them enough. Everything tasted so good! The triumph of the tea had to be the warm fruit scones with homemade strawberry jam and clotted devonshire cream. Talk about indulgent! Now, I'm a jam-then-cream girl. I'm not sure whether that's Devon or Cornwall style but nothing will change the way I choose to demolish my scones! Is there a proper way to eat them? I'm not sure, how do you guys eat them?

Bill's also have a fabulous service in the form of grocery shopping. If you're dining upstairs, there's an order menu which you can tick off whether you would like any treats to take home with you. They gather the goodies from the old school sweet shop downstairs while you eat, and add it onto your bill at the end. I couldn't leave without buying a bottle of their pink lemonade and some jelly babies - I'm such a sucker. I bought my Mum a jar of plum, pear and apple jam (was so tempted to buy the strawberry jam as well after tasting some!) and I bought some toffee cookies for my Dad.

All in all, it was a lovely afternoon out and my Mum really enjoyed herself which was the main thing. I also chauffeured her around in my car for once so she basically didn't have to do anything but relax and have a good time. The afternoon tea was £9.95 per person, and Bill's even offer a champagne afternoon tea at only £12.95 per person, which is a pretty great deal if you ask me!

What did you get up to for Mother's Day?
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