Travel: Our Trip to Iceland

Chris turned 30 last month so I decided to plan something special to celebrate him getting old (haha). We have both always wanted to go to Iceland so this was the perfect excuse to go - the week before he opened a present to reveal an Iceland guidebook and last Wednesday we made our way to explore this beautiful part of the world.

We booked all of our transfers and excursions through Gray Line and I can't recommend them highly enough. Everything was so well organised and ran super smoothly. When we return, we'll probably hire a car and go exploring a bit more but for a first visit, using Gray Line tours were perfect. We absolutely loved Iceland - it was such a calming, lovely place to visit. Here is what we got up to:

Where we stayed

The Fosshotel Reykjavik hotel. Try the Alda or The Borg Hotel if you want something more fancy, but we really liked the Fosshotel. We were a ten minute walk from the centre, all of the tours did pick-up from it and the breakfast buffet was great. Definitely go for a deal where you get breakfast included as it's one less cost to think about!

What we did

Blue Lagoon. Of course! No trip to Iceland would be complete without a trip to the Blue Lagoon. I'm going to do a seperate post with tips on it, but it was probably my favourite thing that we did. It is absolutely beautiful and is just so relaxing. Usually I get a little impatient in a spa but we stayed in the water for a good three hours. 

Golden Circle Express Tour. The sights on the Golden Circle are a must - first stop is ├×ingvellir national park which is where the boundary between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, second is the breathtaking Gulfoss Waterfall and third is to see the active Geysir called Strokkur. It's a long tour with even the express tour taking 6 hours, but is well worth it and I enjoyed some great coach naps between the sights! 

Northern Lights Tour. I included this as we were going to be on a Northern Lights Tour but it got cancelled as was too cloudy every night we were there. Boo. A reason to go back!

Exploring Reykjavik. On our last day we mooched around the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik. It's a lovely little city with such a chilled vibe. When we first arrived and went out for dinner I could feel how tense and stressed my whole body was - you become so accustomed to the London hustle and bustle, and you need to step out of the bubble to really relax. Iceland is the perfect place for this. We wandered around the harbour and went into the Harpa Concert Hall which is just incredibly beautiful and an amazing piece of architecture.

Where we ate

Le Bistro - this is a really cute French restaurant which is super cosy and looks out to the main street so is great for people watching. Chris had french onion soup to start and I had the salmon for my main, he had a lamb shank. As you'd expect, their seafood is fantastic so definitely give it a try.

Rossopomodoro - this was a nice Italian place - I had a pizza which was delicious and Chris had spaghetti. It was ever so slightly cheaper (more on the prices later!) than the other restaurants too.

Caruso - our favourite restaurant of the three, this was a gorgeous cosy place with live music and set in a traditional looking Icelandic building. Chris had surf and turf which was so good (I don't even like lobster that much but this was amazing) and I had a herb-crusted salmon dish. Delish!

We also had lunch at Barber Bistro (also nice!) and a gorgeous hot chocolate at an Artisan Bakery called Sandholt.

Other things to know

♥ Iceland can be extremely cold. We were actually really lucky and although we went very prepared we didn't need to wear much of the warm clothes we'd brought - I think it was colder in the UK whilst we were there! Our walking boots, and waterproof cosy coats were invaluable though. I'd definitely be as prepared as possible for the cold and bring thermals, thick gloves, a fleece snood, good hats and obviously walking boots and a big warm jumper.

♥ It is mighty expensive! I couldn't believe how expensive Iceland was - it was eye-watering at times and London now feels like an absolute bargain! An average main course is £20 and even for a cheap lunch (such as a soup or sandwich) it will cost you around £10. 

Wedding: 10 Things That Happen When You Get Engaged

It's been a few months since I got engaged (read our engagement story here) but I wanted to share a few things that I noticed after he put a ring on it...

1. Your hands and nails won't know what's hit them - they will look the best they've ever looked. So many people were looking at my ring so I was constantly painting my nails and applying hand cream! Cue a few months later and if someone asks to see it I have to do an awkward claw hand to hide my chipped nail polish.

2. You become an absolute pro at telling your proposal story, and also feel sorry for your desk buddies at work who have heard you telling said story about a million times!

3. Wedding magazines quickly become your new best friend. I never thought I'd be interested because of the wealth of information you can find online, but I've found myself buying every magazine on the shelf! 

4. On a similar vein, wedding blogs are also a new addiction. My Bloglovin' feed is filled with real weddings and they're my favourite posts to read. 

5. For the first few weeks you'll be so paranoid about losing your ring or damaging it. To be fair, a few months down the line I still feel like that! It's a lot of money on one tiny finger!

6. The ring, champagne and bride emojis will be used to excess.

7. You will look at the wedding budget and flit between "it's only one day, lets not go overboard" and "it's the one day that you get married with everyone you love in one room, let's order all of the confetti and doves to carry the rings!"

8. Google Docs will become your saviour

9. You will marvel at how excited everyone is for you and how much love you feel. It's quite overwhelming!

10. Prepare for ALL of the questions. When are you getting married? Where are you getting married? Are you thinking big or small wedding? Have you chosen Bridesmaids? One person even asked if I'd thought about where I'd be getting the alcohol from - we'd only been engaged a couple of weeks!

Life: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea

For Christmas last year I bought my Mum a treat for us both to enjoy - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea at One Aldwych. Last weekend we finally found the time to go and I can't praise it highly enough. We had such a lovely time!

We were seated in the upstairs area of One Aldwych, overlooking The Lobby Bar (perfect for people watching) and were taken through the sumptuous looking menu. We were told that we could try as many different teas as we wanted! Obviously I went for the English Breakfast but Mum did try the chocolate tea which was unusual and delicious!

We were each delivered a big pot of tea, and our savoury 'course' arrived - our favourites were the tomato tarts and the leek and stilton quiche. As we were coming to the end of the savoury, our waiter asked if we wanted any more of anything so we asked for more of these and he happily obliged. The service was outstanding - probably the best service I've ever had!

It was then onto the best part - the sweets! As you'd expect from a Charlie and the Chocolate Tea there were some amazing treats. From the golden chocolate egg filled with cheesecake, to the homemade candy floss with a secret flavour that you have to try and guess (I got it right and was very smug). It felt sparkly, and fun, and truly indulgent. Even better was that there was a constant supply of tea.

Once again, we were asked if we wanted more of anything but we were getting so full by this point that we just couldn't eat anything else! We were given boxes to put our leftovers in so we could take them home and enjoy them later when we had a bit more space in our bellies!

We had an absolutely fantastic couple of hours at One Aldwych. We felt very spoilt and the waiters were just incredible. If you want to treat yourself, or want to buy a lovely gift for someone then I highly recommend the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea!

Food: My Favourite Healthy Recipe Books

I love curling up on the sofa and looking through my recipe books. My book buying habits have changed a lot since the Kindle arrived a few years ago and so it's rare that I buy actual books, however I love to have a good stash of recipe books in the house, if only for how pretty they look on a shelf!

Here are three of my favourite 'healthy' cookbooks; Get The Glow by Madeleine Shaw, Deliciously Ella Every Day and Eat.Nourish.Glow by Amelia Freer. 

Deliciously Ella Every Day is Ella's second book and is just as fantastic as the first. It's filled with plant-based, gluten-free and dairy-free recipes divided into sections such as breakfast, easy weekday dinners, batch cooking and of course, smoothies. I love Ella's recipes and have made so many of them - there are some ingredients that you wouldn't usually have in the house (like tahini and apple cider vinegar) but once you have them they will last you ages and they pop up in lots of recipes.

Eat.Nourish.Glow is by Amelia Freer who is nutritionist to lots of celebrity clients. This first book explains her 10 steps for losing weight, looking younger and feeling healthier. This is far more of a text heavy book but it's so interesting and divided into the 10 steps which makes it feel far more manageable! There are a handful of great recipes at the back of the book too. 

Get The Glow is popular blogger, Madeleine Shaw's first book. The first part shares her six-week plan for how to 'get the glow' and to help you ditch the sugar and junk foods, and the second section includes 100 brilliant recipes which are all simple to follow. I like how lots of her recipes include meat as I tend to find that most 'healthy' eating books are focused on a vegan or vegetarian diet. The book is beautifully illustrated too.

I hope you find this useful and do let me know which healthy recipe books you recommend as I'm always on the lookout for new ones!

Beauty: Eucerin Hyaluron-Filler Range

Meet the new Hyaluron-Filler range* from Eucerin- a range of six anti-ageing products.

The word 'hyaluron' attracted me instantly as it's one of those words which is often talked about in the beauty and skincare sphere. Hyaluronic Acid is a substance which is formed by skin cells and one of its key functions is to retain moisture. As we age, the skin's natural ability to produce Hyaluronic Acid depletes and wrinkles start to form and deepen.

This range from Eucerin contains two different types of Hyaluronic Acid to help target and plump up the appearance of wrinkles. 

There are six products in the range - an eye cream (I love the packaging of this product!), two day creams - one for dry skin and one for normal/combination, a night cream, a concentrate (the 6 vials - this product is designed to work with the day cream) and a CC cream.

I can't comment on the long term effects of the products but so far, so good. They feel really pleasant to apply and have that traditional, fresh skincare product scent which always makes you feel like it's doing your skin lots of good! The only product I'm not so keen on is the CC cream - it's not bad, it's just a little average. My favourites are the day cream and the eye cream.

Prices start from £16.50 and you can buy the range from Boots.

Beauty: The Original Beauty Blender

If you're a regular reader of my blog you'll know that I had bought the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge as a cheaper alternative to the Beauty Blender and I really liked it. I didn't think about buying the original BB until I was talking to a group of beauty obsessives who were telling me that the Beauty Blender was in a whole different league to the dupes and just had something different about it. 

I was sold and ordered it from BeautyBay the very next day for £16. I've been using it every day since then and I am totally convinced. The Original Beauty Blender is amazing! I drench it in water, dry it with a towel and then use it to apply my foundation and concealer by bouncing it on my skin. It is so quick (a lot speedier than when I used the RealTechniques version) and leaves a gorgeous natural finish. 

I am a total convert and now want to buy it in all of the different colours!

Beauty: Herbal Essences Daily Clean Shampoo

A few weeks ago I was devastated (a bit of an over exaggeration but I was totally gutted) to learn that my favourite hair build-up shampoo had been discontinued. After posting my dismay on Twitter it was clear that this was terrible news to quite a few other people too! This magical shampoo was the Boots Expert Build-Up Removal Shampoo; a bargain at around £4 and worked brilliantly. It left my hair feeling so clean and free of product and was a regular in my haircare regime.

At this point my hair was in dire need of a good build-up removal shampoo (do you ever feel like that? Like your hair is so full of gunk? I blame my silver shampoos!) so I was on the look out for a new product and after a bit of google action I noticed that this offering from Herbal Essences kept popping up - the Herbal Essences Clearly Naked Daily Clean Shampoo

It's a bargain at only £2.35 and claims to smooth and moisturise hair whilst gently cleansing unwanted residue. It's silicone free with no parabens and has a lovely strawberry and mint scent. You can also use it daily if you like so can be an every day shampooo.

So the verdict; I LOVE this. It did everything I wanted and more. I found that although the Boots shampoo was amazing, it did leave my hair a little fluffy whereas this leaves it very sleek but feeling totally clean. I am already planning to repurchase this and am so happy to have found a great alternative to the Boots Expert version!

Do you rate any other build-up removal shampoos?

Beauty: Rimmel Lasting Finish Kate Moss Lipsticks

55 My Nude on the left, 56 Boho Nude on the right

55 My Nude

56 Boho Nude

55 My Nude on the right, 56 Boho Nude on the left

When I saw that Kate Moss had a new Rimmel collection available sharing her favourite nudes and reds, I knew I had to go and check it out. I ended up walking out of Boots with 55 My Nude and 56 Boho Nude. I only planned to buy one but it was buy one, get one half price so two purchase just had to be made.

Firstly, how gorgeous is the packaging? It's so pleasing to look at! MyNude is my favourite of the two and is more of a pinky nude, whereas Boho Nude is more of a brown tone- I think you can tell the difference in the swatch photo more. They are both a gorgeous formula - super creamy and applies like a dream. They don't last for ages but are OK for a 'drugstore' lipstick. 

I highly recommend these and am now tempted to buy 54 Rock N Roll Nude!

I can't find them online at Boots but you can purchase online from Superdrug here.

Life: The Best Water Bottle by HydrateM8

I am so in love with my new water bottle. It's by HydrateM8* and as you can see, it has the times of the day down the side so you can make sure you monitor your water intake. As well as the handy measurement system, it's a great water bottle and has one of those brilliant straws that suck water up super easily.

I keep mine in the office and since having it, I have been drinking SO much water. It's been an absolute game-changer for me. I always struggle to drink enough water which is probably why I get headaches and feel tired a lot, but this makes it so easy and it goes down super quick. It also brings out that competitive element of keeping up with the times. 

The downside is that it's making me need a wee a million times a day! But I'm hoping that my bladder will get used to it so I'm not having to visit the bathroom as much.

The HydrateM8 bottles are fairly pricy at £13.99 but so so worth it - the website also has super quick delivery - mine came the day after ordering!

*This post includes affiliate links

Beauty: My favourite summer scents

Gosh, I am so sorry for going a bit AWOL on my blog. Life has been busy recently and I seem to have lost my blogging motivation.

But I'm back today, and sharing a couple of new perfumes which I have been loving this summer. The first is Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder, a limited edition perfume which comes out every summer. I have had my eye on it for a while and decided to buy it at the airport before we went to Florida in April. I love it when a perfume reminds you of a holiday or a moment in time, and so wanted this to be my holiday scent. 

It smells divine - described as a sun-drenched blend of Bergamot, warm Amber and Vanilla combined with creamy Coconut it is a scent which is so completely 'summer' in a bottle. It smells like sun cream, holidays, sunshine and happiness. I am quite obsessed.

The second perfume I am rather enjoying is from the Rosie for Autograph beauty range in Marks & Spencer. It is called Summer Rose Eau de Parfum and is a light, airy but fruity scent. It smells very rose-like to me but isn't overpowering at all. It's also really handy in this size as easy to take with you on travels.

What perfumes have you been loving this summer?

Life: 5 Ways to Keep Positive

Photo from Unsplash

I have always been a glass full kind of girl. I find that having a positive mental outlook helps me so much with dealing with difficult situations. I am a worrier though and like to stress out about the smallest of things- luckily Chris doesn't worry about anything and has a very straightforward outlook on a situation which helps me. He said today that if someone asked us to drive from A to b in a straight line he would go straight there and I would go all around the houses. A very accurate description of us!

Anyway, here are five things that I do to keep myself feeling positive:

1) Always look at the bigger picture. This is a big one for me - sometimes I will worry about the smallest thing and I have to remind myself that it really isn't a big deal. It's good to take a step back and ask whether I will be thinking about this a year from now, and also to think about how in the grand scheme of things my life is so teeny tiny in comparison to this huge, amazing world that we live in. It sounds strange but I like to look at these images from the Hubble Telescope as they are amazing, and just show how small we all are. If something small goes wrong at work does it really really matter? 

2) Appreciate the little things. Life has lots of big moments, but so many more smaller moments which make it happy and wonderful. It's important not to focus to much on the next big life thing and to really appreciate a weekend away with friends, a hot bath after a long day or those times when you laugh so much you cry. 

3) Appreciate your life in general. I remember listening to a TED talk which looked at happiness and said that if you appreciate your life, rather than look at the negatives you will feel so much more content. It sounds simple and it really works. Every day I feel thankful for my life and feel so fortunate to be happy, healthy and to have loving family and friends. I really try not to take my life for granted.

4) Learn what makes you happy, and do it again and again. I've realised over the past couple of years that hanging out with my family and spending time with my lovely friends makes me so happy - and so I make sure I do this as much as possible. I think that's why we've been to Florida so much- it's guaranteed happiness so why wouldn't you do it as much as you can?! The beauty of being in my late twenties is that I've realised what is really important! 

5) Take care of yourself. It's so important to look after yourself and to take time to make sure you're doing ok. I like seeing friends and having evenings out but I also need a few nights a week where I just stay in and 'recharge'. It's ok to say no to stuff.

Beauty: Current Favourites

Happy Sunday everyone! I am having a lovely chilled weekend although my sunbathing plans were scuppered thanks to the weather forecast not being so accurate - boo. Anyway, I haven't shared my favourite beauty products in a while so here is what I'm loving at the moment;

Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gelthe hype around this product is true. It's an amazing cleanser. It removes make-up easily and leaves my skin feeling so super soft. Unfortunately (for my bank balance) I think I'll be re-purchasing this for a long time. £29.50 here

Vichy Dermablend Foundation - this is the foundation I've been using every day without fail. It's a very full coverage but makes my skin look so flawless. It lasts all day long and doesn't need any retouching. This shade (25 Nude) is perfect for my summer skin tone too. £18 here.

Maybelline The Falsies Push Up Drama Mascara - I actually stole this mascara from my sister's make-up stash as I tried it and loved it. It gives my lashes so much lift and makes them super black and glossy. The only negative is that it's quite tricky to remove. £7.99 here.

Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Pink Souffle - this is such a beautiful lip colour and so easy to apply. It's a creamy formula which doesn't leave your lips feeling really dry (like a lot of lip stains). Really need to buy more of these! $14 here.

Bourjois Healthy Mix Concealer - I am a huge fan of the Bourjois Healthy Mix range and this hasn't disappointed. I've been using it under my eyes and on blemishes and it works a treat. It also smells gorgeous! £7.99 here.

Becca Skin Perfector in Champagne Pop - this is another product that I've been using every day without fail. It gives the most perfect glowy peachy highlight and lasts all day. £32 here.

Beauty: 8 steps to a DIY facial

I love having a facial, but sadly don't have half as many as I'd like (oh to have one every week) so doing a DIY at-home facial is the next best thing. I often have pamper nights where I put on face masks and have a bath, but it's sometimes nice to do a 'proper' step by step facial. Here is my how-to guide. Enjoy!

1. Remove your make-up, if you are wearing it.

2. Get a flannel, run it under warm water and wring out. Place over your face for a couple of minutes to open up your pores.

3. Cleanse your face thoroughly, by massaging it into your skin with small circular motions. Rinse off with warm water (never use really hot water as it will agitate skin). Do a double cleanse if you fancy it! 

4. Massage an exfoliator gently into your skin.

5. Fill a bowl with boiling water and hold your face over the steam, holding a towel over your head to keep the steam directed to your skin. This will open your pores and get your skin prepped for your face mask.

6. Apply a face mask of your choice (I always go for a clay mask when doing a facial) and leave for 15 minutes before rinsing off.

7. Use a toner, and then finish off your facial with your favourite moisturiser