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2012

December 31, 2012

L-R: The view from the cottage in St Ives// Charlie loving the wrapping paper this Christmas// Chris and I on the beach in Cornwall in August// my sister, brother and Chris in Center Parcs// watching the amazing Opening Ceremony for the Paralympics// with Charlie pooch// JLS concert// my bro and I visiting my sister at Uni in Norwich// London's Southbank

2012 has been a good year. Chris and I settled into life in London and it was a great year to be living here with the Queen's Jubilee and Olympics. I wasn't excited for the Olympics before they began but the moment the Opening Ceremony started I was engrossed and found myself staying behind at work with everyone to watch the games. The Paralympic Opening Ceremony was incredible to be at and we also went to watch the Wheelchair Basketball which was fantastic. Even watching the highlight shows now make me really emotional! Bring the Olympics and Paralympics back!

It was the first year for a long time that I didn't have a holiday abroad but I did visit a few new places in 2012. I went to St Ives with friends; Center Parcs in June and then Cornwall in August for a camping holiday. They were all brilliant holidays and I have some great photos and memories from them all.

I hope everyone is looking back happily on 2012. I'm excited for what 2013 will bring and hope that everyone has a great evening welcoming the New Year tonight!

2012 Favourites - Other Beauty Products

December 30, 2012
Other faves

1. Timotei Golden Highlights Shampoo & Conditioner // 2. Leighton Denny Crystal Nail File // 3. L'Oreal Paris Color Riche Nail Polish // 4. John Frieda Luxurious Volume Thickening Blow Dry Lotion // 5. Essie Nail Polish in Mint Candy Apple // 6. Neom Tranquility Bath Foam // 7. Tweezerman tweezers // 8. Liz Earle Botanical Essence No. 15

This is the final post sharing my 2012 favourites and these are the products that didn't quite fit into the other categories. Looking back at the year the stand-out hair products have to be the Timotei golden highlights shampoo and conditioner which are the best products for blonde hair that I've tried and am still loving. The John Frieda blow dry lotion is also brilliant- simply spray into the roots before drying your hair and it gives a really boost to your hair. 

I have really tried to get my nails into better condition this year and this has been mainly done by constantly painting my nails. I was lucky enough to be try a range of the L'Oreal Paris Color Riche Polishes and was so impressed with how easy they were to apply. The colour above is Sassy Pink and is a really Barbie polish- love it! 2012 was the year that the Essie diffusion line came to Boots and Mint Candy Apple was one of my most-worn colours. A final nail product is the Leighton Denny Crystal Nail File- it is the best nail file I have used and I am not surprised that it is award winning!

Neom's Bath Foam was an absolute delight to try this year. Although it didn't give me the most bubbliest of baths it filled the whole bathroom with such a soothing lavender scent and felt like a real luxury to use. Another scent I have hugely enjoyed is the Liz Earle Botanical Essence in No.15- it is a spicy, oriental fragrance which I have worn most days this winter. 

The final product is my Tweezerman tweezers. I have had these for a good few years now and I will always use them- in my opinion they are the best tweezers you can buy and they always do the job!

2012 Favourites - Make Up Products

December 28, 2012
Make-up faves


1. Rimmel Wake Me Up Foundation // 2.  Liz Earle Signature Foundation // 3. Smashbox Blush Rush in Silhouette // 4. Maybelline FitMe Concealer // 5. L'Oreal Paris Super Liner Gel Intenza Eyeliner // 6. MAC Patina eyeshadow // 7. Revlon Colourburst Lip Butter in Raspberry Pie // 8. MUFE Smoky Lash Mascara

Here are the eight products that I have picked as my make up favourites for 2012. It was a tough one as there are so many products that I've been loving! I have tried a few foundations this year but the Rimmel and Liz Earle offerings were the stand-outs for me. Both give such great dewy coverage without feeling heavy on the skin. Another great skin make-up product is the Maybelline FitMe concealer- it is very similar to the much loved Collection Lasting Perfection but FitMe has the edge for me as it seems to have more of a light reflecting quality making it great to use under the eyes.

MAC's Patina eyeshadow is probably my all time favourite eyeshadow- it is so flattering and can be easily worn in the day or built up for a more dramatic night-time look. It's a colour that suits everyone. The L'Oreal Gel Intenza eyeliner is a liner I keep coming back to it- it's a really silky black which doesn't dry up and has been going in my make-up bag for some time now! The final eye product is the MUFE smoky lash mascara which seems to get better the longer I've had it- it creates volume and length with no clumping- perfect!

My most worn blush over recent months is the SmashBox blush in Silhouette- it is a really natural colour that adds a gorgeous glow- it is perfect for Autumn/Winter.The final make-up item is the Revlon Colourburst Lip Butter in Raspberry Pie. This is a recent discovery and I adore it. I don't usually wear a dark colour on my lips but I've been enjoying wearing this with just a sweep of black eyeliner. The texture and feel of the lip butters is lovely- I brought it into work for our Christmas party and everyone was trying it!

What have been your favorite make-up product this year?

Neom Christmas Wish Diffuser

December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all had a lovely day and truly indulged in all things festive. This post may be a bit too late as we're now moving into post-Christmas fun but I still wanted to share as I am in love with this diffuser from Neom.

This Christmas Neom Luxury Organics released a Christmas Wish Candle and a Christmas Wish Reed Diffuser* with £1 from every sale of these two products going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The Reed Diffuser is a beautiful blend of ginger, mandarin and frankincense and smells absolutely divine. We have been using it at my parent's house where I have been spending Christmas and it has filled our living room with it's gorgeous aroma of sweet fruit and warming spices.

I've never really tried a diffuser before, as usually prefer a candle but I'm definitely going to be buying them more as was so impressed at how effective it is. To use it you simply insert the reed sticks into the bottle, which then absorb the oil blend and gradually diffuse the scent into the home.

The diffuser lasts up to 6-8 weeks with eight reed sticks so at £37 it is not cheap, but you do get your money's worth (compared to the candles which I use up ridiculously quickly). Really really recommend this offering from Neom!

2012 Favourites - Skin and Body products

December 22, 2012
Skincare

1. Organic Surge Daily Care Face Wash // 2.  Original Source Orange & Cinnamon Shower Gel // 3. Liz Earle Gentle Face Exfoliator // 4. Bioderma Crealine H20 // 5. Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre // 6. Flannels/face cloths // 7. Jergens Original Beauty Lotion // 8. Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish


I really like looking back at the year and thinking about the products that have really stood out. Some of the above have been favourites for some time now and others are more recent, fabulous finds. There are three  cleansers/make-up removers that have really stood out to me with the first being my trusty Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish. I always go back to this cleanser and really like using it with a face flannel. I have enjoyed using their special edition Rose and Lavender version but I think the original is still my favourite. Bioderma Crealine H2O is my favourite ever make-up remover and I use it every night to remove eye make-up. My Mum is also a convert although her bottles don't go down half as quickly as mine! Finally, the Organic Surge face wash is brilliant- it has just been given an EcoCert Certification (basically means it is a environmentally friendly cosmetic product) which is great and I find it so refreshing and hydrating. 

I have tried some fantastic moisturisers this year (Liz Earle SuperSkin and Organic Surge Blissful daily moisturiser are other stand-outs) but Embryolisse has to be my winner. It's such a simple but effect product and I love how it feels on my skin. I need to buy a big old tube of this! Favourite exfoliator is another Liz Earle product- their gentle face exfoliator. This feels so gentle on my skin but does the job of making it lovely and smooth. I use it twice a week.
 
The washcloths stand out amongst the lotions and potions- I used to use muslin cloths, and still do from time to time but after Caroline Hirons' talked about using a face flannel on her blog I decided to buy two packs from Primark (so cheap!) and have been converted. 

My final two favourites are the Original Source Orange & Cinnamon shower gel which I don't need to say much about other than it smells amazing. The Jergens body moisturisers are also a great find- I'm not really fussy about body lotions but these are really moisturising and absorb easily into the skin.

What are your favourite skin and body products from 2012?

100 Things: 81-90

December 19, 2012
I am almost finished with my 100 things that make me happy series (probably about 3 years later- it has taken me some time!) and as it is almost Christmas I thought I'd theme this one to fit the festive period. Christmas makes me so happy- today in work we all sang Christmas carols with mulled wine in our hands and it was so much fun. I hope the next two days at work go quickly so the real festivities can begin!

All credit to Sofia's Journal for the 100 Things idea.

81. Giving gifts


 82. Decorating the Christmas Tree


83. Christmas carols

84. Christmas lights

85. Snuggly winter clothes

86. Christmas dinner

87. Christmas parties


88. Elf!
 

 89. Beautifully wrapped presents


90. Looking forward to a new year

Glamour Mag Freebie- The Body Shop Gift Card

December 09, 2012
Body Shop

Snowman washball (£3- link) Reindeer washball (£3- link)  Animal Lover Soap Gift (£5- link) Tea Tree Skin Clearing Lotion 15ml (£3- link) Vitamin E Moisture Cream 15ml (£4- link) Mango Soap (£2- link) Seaweed Clarifying Toner 30ml (£3- link)
 
The January issue of Glamour Magazine (available to buy now with Rita Ora on the cover) comes with a free Joy Card from The Body Shop- it is hidden in the magazine so don't panic if you can't see it on the front of the magazine! Each card comes charged with either £3, £15 or £100 and you can use it towards anything in-store. I've had a quick read of the bumpf on the back of the card and it has to be used in one single transaction so if your purchase is worth less than the amount then you don't get any change, or any value left on the gift card.
 
I'm excited to see how much is on mine (£100 please!!) but I'm sure that most of the gift cards will hold the £3 value. After looking on their website there are lots of great products for around that price so I've picked some of my favourites. I adore the Snowman and Reindeer washballs!
 

Top Winter Skin Savers from M&S Your Beauty

December 08, 2012
This week I paid a visit to an M&S press event to see all of the fantastic beauty products that they are now stocking. I was amazed at how much they've grown- in addition to their own products they now sell so many other brands, many of them which are very well known (Leighton Denny, Murad and NUXE to name a few).

The event was attended by Malvina Fraser who is the M&S Your Beauty Skincare Ambassador. She  shared  her top favourite winter skin savers which are all available from M&S. Here are some of the products I was most interested in...

 
♥  Filorga Sleep & Peel  Night Cream- Containing Filorga’s patented anti-ageing nctf® formulation and hyaluronic acid alongside 6 varieties of hydroxy-acids (aha and bha) of different molecular sizes this unique night cream guarantees progressive and controlled exfoliation. As a result, the skin is intensely smoothed and brightened, and complexion irregularities are reduced. £54 for 50ml




♥  Murad® Age Reform® AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser- Polish away dullness and impurities to revitalise your complexion and reveal, brighter, healthy looking skin. Boost your skins hydration with Sodium PCA and jojoba seed oil, Reduce irritation and inflammation with licorice extract Enjoy clarity, brightness and improved cell-turnover thanks to a trio of gentle exfoliating acids. £34 for 200ml
 


 ♥ Pure Anti-Ageing Super Active Overnight Oil- This overnight oil softens, nourishes and restores tired skin to help protect against the visible effects of ageing. Free from parabens, silicones and mineral oil, gently massage into face and neck at night after cleansing and toning. Can be used under your usual night cream or on its own depending on your skin's needs or used as a treatment. £6 for 12ml

 

♥ Skyn ICELAND® Pure Cloud Cream- Light-as-air daily moisturising cream provides intense moisture and healing relief for super-sensitive skin. Helps relieve irritation and discomfort to skin that's been damaged by harsh weather or cosmetic procedures. Contains skyn ICELAND's proprietary biospheric complex of pure Icelandic glacial waters, arctic berries and pure oxygen, as well as 5% sodium hyaluronate to moisturize without feeling heavy or greasy. £41 for 50g

 

November Favourites: My Top Three

December 01, 2012
♥ Original Source Orange & Cinnamon Shower Gel - I absolutely adore Original Source shower gels- they are cheap but have the best, strongest smelling scents. I love their lime shower gel as it feels like you are washing in lime starburst sweets! Yum. Whilst I love the more refreshing scents, the Orange & Cinnamon is a winner for the winter months and it has been used up very quickly in the flat.

 ♥Lotion Yon-Ka - in November I have been loving this toner from Yon-Ka. It is a really refresing spritz which can be used after cleansing, as a make-up touch up or as a refreshing boost. I have also enjoyed using it after applying my make-up to help it 'settle'. I am a big fan of spritz toners- I can get lazy with the toning step and often don't do it but a spritzer is such little effort that I find myself always reaching for it.

Timotei Golden Highlights Shampoo and Conditioner - this has definitely been my favourite set of hair products from November. I've had fantastic results on my highlights since using them and you can read my glowing review here.

Rob Ryan Cosmetic Bag

November 30, 2012

As you know from a previous post of mine, I love the artist Rob Ryan. He is a British visual artist who is famous for his detailed paper cut outs. I was really excited to find lots of beautiful Rob Ryan products on the online boutique website, Amara which specialises in luxury gift ideas, wedding gifts and lovely interior design ideas for the home.

The Cosmetic Bag* caught my eye straightaway. I was in need of a new cosmetics bag/wash bag to take away with me and I love the fact that this is oil cloth as well as being a beautiful design. It carries the 'this bell with ring' design which is just so cute and colourful. As you can see the lining is blue and it also has a handy zip-up pocket inside. The bag is a good size so can fit a lot of products. I actually used it last weekend and packed it full of make-up, plus toiletries and even my toothbrush! 

After seeing all of the Rob Ryan merchandise available I want it all NOW, notably the His n' Hers mugs and the "Hello Egg" Egg cups.


The Perfect Poached Egg

November 28, 2012
My favourite way to have eggs is poached. I love two poached eggs for breakfast and they are usually saved for a weekend treat. I wanted to share my foolproof method of making a perfect poached egg- I can't find a link to where I originally found this but I think it was a Jamie Oliver idea.

I love poached eggs but I could never get on with the usual methods of dropping the egg into simmering water- the egg would end up messy and breaking and it was just a disaster. So without further ado here is the way I do it...


Simply get a mug and tear off a good piece of clingfilm. Cover the mug with the sheet of clingfilm and make a well in the middle.

Drop your egg into the well. Sometimes I will make a larger well and drop two into it to save on the clingfilm but this weekend I just went for the standard one egg.

Then just create a parcel around your egg so it looks like the above (it reminds me of winning a goldfish at a fair!) and twist the clingfilm at the top so it is secure.

Drop your egg into a saucepan of simmering water and leave it for 5 minutes (I find this makes the perfect runny egg). When you take it out just cut off the top part of the clingfilm which will allow you to peel the rest of the clingfilm off- be careful as it can be hot. Also make sure you take off all of the clingfilm as I've been known to leave a bit on- Chris wasn't too pleased!

And that is it! So simple and so delicious!

Revlon Sweet Boutique

November 26, 2012
L-R: Raspberry Pie, Berry Smoothie

L-R: Raspberry Pie, Berry Smoothie
L-R: Berry Smoothie, Raspberry Pie


Even though the Revlon ColourBurst Lip Butters* have been raved and raved about, I was yet to try one properly until last week when I was sent two of their berry shades- Berry Smoothie and Raspberry Pie. When I first took off the lid I was a bit doubtful about liking the colours as they looked very dark (as you can see in the second photo). I needn't have worried though as the colour is quite different when actually used and not as intimidating as a lipstick formula.

The Berry Smoothie shade is really lovely- it's quite natural and sheer so is great for applying on the go. It's a great daytime colour- your lips but better! The Raspberry Pie is much more pigmented and I had to be careful when applying it in fear of creating a clown effect- I absolutely love this colour though, especially for an evening. I think it would look fabulous with just a sweep of black liner and lots of black mascara. I was really impressed with these- they feel so lovely on your lips and aren't drying in the slightest.

The title of my post is the Revlon Sweet Boutique because following it's amazing success this summer it is being re-launched in time for Christmas! Revlon will be giving away 100 lip butters every day until the 4th December- all you have to do is like their Facebook page to be in with a chance of winning.

Revlon's lip butters are currently £7.99 from Boots.

Louise Thompson Collection

November 24, 2012
Louise Thompson


It's no secret that I absolutely love Made in Chelsea (see my post on Caggie and Millie here) and think series three has been brilliant so far- so much drama in every episode! I was really interested when I heard that Louise had launched her own collection on the Goddiva website (after googling it further I discovered it was actually her second collection). The collection includes lots of dresses, sequins and a few jackets thrown in there too. I'm not sure if I would actually buy from the collection- there's nothing I am in love with although this embellished top is quite cute. 

Would you buy anything from this range? More importantly, are you a MIC fan?!

24 Days of Christmas with Liz Earle

November 22, 2012
Liz Earle have joined the array of brands whom have brought out an extra special Advent Calendar this year. Their 24 Days of Christmas with Liz Earle calendar* allows you to enjoy a botanical treat every day of the festive season. Behind each door awaits a mini skincare, bodycare, haircare or fragrance treat to help keep you pampered throughout the festive season.

It is not cheap at £100 but when you break it down, each product only costs £4.16 (to be precise!) so it is a fantastic way to try a range of Liz Earle products. Also- extremely fun too and much more healthy!

In the advent calendar you receive (look away if you want to be surprised!): 

♥ Cleanse & Polish 30ml with 1 muslin cloth  ♥ Instant Boost Skin Tonic 50ml  ♥ Skin Repair moisturiser 15ml ♥ Superskin Moisturiser 15ml  ♥ Superskin Concentrate 2ml rollerball  ♥ Daily Eye Repair 5ml  ♥  Smoothing Line Serum 5ml ♥ Eyebright Soothing Eye Lotion 50ml ♥ Gentle Face Exfoliator 15ml ♥ Brightening Treatment Mask 15ml ♥ Intensive Nourishing Treatment Mask 15ml ♥ Orange Flower Botanical Body Wash 30ml ♥ Nourishing Botanical Body Cream 30ml ♥ Superbalm 5g pot ♥ Orange Flower Hand Wash 30ml ♥ Hand Repair 15ml ♥ Foot Scrub 15ml ♥ Foot Repair Moisturiser 15ml ♥ Energising Body Scrub 15ml ♥ Energising Body Wash 15ml ♥ Botanical Shine Shampoo 50ml ♥ Botanical Shine Conditioner 50ml ♥ Botanical Essence No.1 2ml

You can buy the calendar here and also keep an eye on Liz Earle's Pinterest page for the chance to win a festive treat every day- all you have to do is repin their festive pins every day throughout December to be in with a chance of winning every day.

And finally- a big thank you to my lovely Dad for taking the photos above- even if he did open a few of the doors like a naughty Elf.


Product Rave - Timotei Golden Highlights

November 20, 2012
I had to write a post raving about the Timotei Golden Highlights shampoo and conditioner. These are fantastic and I am about to make a bold statement by saying that these are the best shampoo and conditioner designed for blonde hair that I have ever tried!

Timotei claim that this set, infused with 100% natural camomile extracts, will bring out golden highlights and reveal the true shine and beauty of blonde or highlighted hair. These do exactly what they claim to do. I have used many products for blonde hair in the past and find that the ones which have camomile in do the best job at making it brighter so was pleased to see that this was a key ingredient. 

After using these Timotei products I can tell such a difference with my hair- my hair looks blonder and the highlights look so much more defined. It also looks really shiny which is quite difficult to achieve with blonde hair sometimes. I used this one night and then the next I used another brand (just for normal hair) and could tell straightaway that my hair didn't look as bright or shiny as after using Timotei. I could rave about these all day but instead I will stop and if you are blonde or have highlights to go get these hair products.

Here is a photo of my hair after using the shampoo and conditioner- I know it's hard when you can't compare but bear in mind that I haven't had my hair highlighted since July!


You can purchase them for Superdrug for a bargain price of £2.99 each for the set (there is a buy one get one free offer on). I will definitely be stocking up!



Neom Scent with Love Travel Candles Christmas Set

November 17, 2012
In October, Neom launched their range of limited-edition Christmas sets- Scent with Love (see what they did there?). The range includes a Body Care Gift Set and Home Scenting Gift Set but the one that caught my eye was their Travel Candles set*.

The set includes four travel sized Neom candles in their most popular scents:

Real Luxury - Lavender, Jasmine and Brazilian Rosewood. This is their best-selling scent of all time and labeled the cashmere blanket of the collection.

Invigorate - Grapefruit, Bergamot and Lime

♥ Tranquility- English Lavender, Sweet Basil and Jasmine
 
Harmonise- Pine, Cedarwood and Eucalyptus   

Neom candles are absolutely fantastic- they fill the room with their wonderful fragrance and I love each of the scents in the travel set. It would make a great Christmas present (to yourself too, ahem) as it gives you a chance to try a few different candles. The set costs £55 and can be purchased from the Neom Organics website

Chocolate and Raspberry Muffins

November 15, 2012
To celebrate a team member's birthday at work we always have half an hour that day (or a day close to it) for tea & cakes. It's basically what it says on the tin- we drink tea and eat cakes! We are quite a keen team of bakers and so there are always some lovely treats on offer and for the most recent tea & cakes I decided to bake these chocolate and raspberry muffins. 

I knew that I wanted to bake something with raspberries in and after a quick google I decided on this recipe from another blog (with a few tweaks). It was so simple to make and they tasted absolutely divine- especially straight from the oven. The combination of the zingy raspberries goes so well with the chocolate. I included lots of chocolate chips and lots of raspberries but you can play around with the amounts if you want less, or more of either. Let me know if you try it or if you know any other great recipes with raspberries!

Ingredients for 12 muffins
6oz Plain Flour
1.5oz Cocoa Powder
2tsp Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
4oz Caster Sugar
4fl oz Vegetable Oil
1 Medium Egg
5fl oz Milk
150g Raspberries
75g Dark Chocolate cut into small chunks
75g Milk Chocolate cut into small chunks

Method

1) Pre-heat the oven to 180°c and place your muffin cases into a baking tray

2) Put all of the muffin ingredients except for the raspberries and dark/milk chocolate into a medium mixing bowl.  Stir until just about mixed together.

3) Add the raspberries and chocolate chunks and mix gently

4) Evenly distribute the muffin mixture between the 12 muffin cases.  Bake on the middle shelf in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Not on the high street - personalised gifts

November 13, 2012

Not on the high street

♥ Leather Bound Notebook (link) ♥ Initials Phone Cover (link♥ Enamel Storage Tin (linkHeart Chalkboard (link Christmas Sack (link) ♥ You're The Best Apron (link)

Discovering Not On The High Street was a revelation- it is my favourite website at the moment, especially with Christmas being less than two months away (hooray!). I had heard it mentioned before (my friend is getting married and it's great for wedding stuff) but had never investigated properly. I'm so glad I did as it's just got so many lovely things! I especially like all of their personalised goodies and so thought I'd share some of my favourites. I LOVE the personalised Santa sack!

I may do similar posts with gift ideas for different people so let me know if you'd be interested in seeing these!

October Favourites: My Top Three

November 11, 2012
♥  Smashbox Blush in Silhouette - I have totally rediscovered this blush since receiving it back in February- it is perfect for the Autumn when you want more of a neutral but warm glow to your cheeks. It adds a really natural but gorgeous colour to the cheeks and is extremely wearable.

♥ Jelly Pong Pong Supermodel Stain in Slenderella - another blush in my favourites this month but I had to include the Jelly Pong Pong lip and cheek stain as it is just so lovely. I use a tiny amount and gradually build it up- it's really easy to blend and creates a natural pink flush. I always wear it on days when I am only wearing a little make-up (foundation, mascara and blush) as it adds instant pretty-ness.


♥ Liz Earle Botanical Essence Eau De Parfum No 15 - this is the most perfect fragrance for Autumn. It is a spicy oriental scent but is not overpowering in any way (something I have found before with other fragrances). I have been wearing this for most of October and love spritzing it into my scarf so I can smell it throughout the day.