Recipe | Choc Chip & Raisin Oaties

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

For some reason, I had a strong urge to do some baking yesterday and ended up making these delicious choc chip & raisin oaties. I sent Dan to work with them, but of course I had to taste test one first ;)
They're somewhere between flapjacks and cookies but they are 100% delicious and so simple to make.
I adapted the recipe from one in a cookbook I own, and they turned out better than I thought they would! They're soft and chewy and the sweetness of the raisins and choc chunks mixed with the warmth of the cinnamon makes them perfect for a rainy afternoon. Serve with a glass of milk or a mug of warm tea for the ultimate treat.

175g Butter, softened
100g Demerara Sugar
175g Soft Brown Sugar
1 Egg, beaten
4 Tbsp Water
375g Oats
140g Plain Flour
1 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
2 Tsp ground Cinnamon
handful juicy raisins
Handful Dark Chocolate Chunks

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius / Gas Mark 4. Line a baking tray with some grease proof paper.
2. Beat the butter and sugars together in a large bowl until soft and creamy. Add in the egg and water and continue to beat - your mix may look a little 'sloppy' at this stage.
3. Mix in the oats, flour, salt baking powder and cinnamon and combine thoroughly. Your mix may still be a little sticky, but this is necessary.
4. Drop in your juicy raisins and choc chunks and mix until combined.
5. Roll a tablespoon of mixture into your hands to create a ball, drop it onto your grease proof paper and gently press it down with the back of a fork. Repeat this with as many as you can fit onto your tray, while leaving a reasonable space between them - I fit 8 at a time.
6. Bake in your preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, You want your oaties to be soft but no longer sticky as they will harden a little once removed from the oven.
7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

It really is that simple. You could add different spices or fillings to these to make them more to your taste - let me know what you think!

The Love/Hate Tag

Thursday, 23 July 2015

I was recently tagged by the gorgeous and oh-so sweet Bianca Of Ditsy Sprinkles to complete the Love/Hate challenge and I'm just now getting around to doing it!

The Rules

Simply list 10 things which you love and 10 things which you hate - and nominate 10 blogger friends to complete the tag next!

| Ten things I Love (in no particular order) |

1. My Son. He is so perfect. My dream come true. 
2. OSTs. There's something so amazing about listening to something composed for the big screen!
3. Superhero Movies. It's so exciting to get lost in a world where anything could happen!
4. Autumn. Beautiful colours. Cosy evenings and homely food.
5. Makeup. Creating a million-and-one looks and a worlds worth of products to try!
6. Tom Hanks. Well, because, the man's a legend.
7. Baths. They're so relaxing - especially with some music, candles and a bath bomb or two.
8. America. Land of the free and home of the brave. I love anything American and dream of travelling it someday!
9. Christmas. Family, Friends, decorations, movies, food, gifts - what's not to love?
10. Love. It's so beautiful to be in love and to see people in love. Every kind of love is precious - I learned this especially since having my son

| Ten things I Hate (in no particular order) |

1. Negativity. Yes, I realise the irony in hating negativity - but I just don't have time for it!
2. Bullies. If you don't like someone, don't be in their company. No need to be a nasty s**t.
3. Being forgotten/ Feeling invisible. Especially when you try so hard with some people.
4. having no signal. Ugh. The most frustrating thing - especially when you are trying to send an email!
5. Arguing. Its such a waste of time.
6. Saying Goodbye. When you know you wont see them for a while, it's hard to let go.
7. Animal cruelty. Is there really any need?
8. Football. Ugh, what a drag.
9. Fish. Bleugh.
10. Being hungry! I get that 'hangry' thing waay to easy :')

| Bloggers I Nominate |
1. Lauren | LaurennHobbs
2. Meaghan | XoxoMeaghan
3. Emma | LemonNailFiend
4. Sinead | Dreaming Again
5. Sarah | Sazbomb
6. Felicity & Lauren | PrettyPoshOhMyGosh
7. Amber | SweetWordsPrettyPictures
8. Natalie Ann | PetalPoppetBlogs
9. Holly | Empfire
10. Bethany | Simply Bethany

Have fun girls and let me know when you have completed your posts so I can read them! And for my non-blogger friends, what are some of the things you Love/Hate?

Forward Thinking | Autumn Accessories

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

When living in England, it is never too early to think about the colder months and get prepared. Hell, even the shops have started their summer sales and are bringing in the A/W'15 lines.
Autumn is my favourite season and, as much as I am enjoying this 'heatwave' we are having, I don't think its a bad thing to be thinking ahead to crisper days when leaves have changed colour and started to fall because, god knows, it can change in so much as a day!

It's also smart to be stocking upon autumnal pieces ahead of time, as you can save yourself a ton of money. Many stores throw the odd A/W piece in amongst the end of their summer lines in sales, so rummage through and see what bargains you can find. I'm not suggesting that you go buy a whole new wardrobe yet - just pick up some essentials and staples which will see you through the season transition and into the full swing of the autumn.

I always turn to longline slouch cardigans and I got these two from Primark for a bargain price. (Similar here and here) They work well with jeans and dresses and will keep you nice and cosy when the weather turns and the evenings draw in. I am in love with rusty burnt orange tones in the Autumn as they reflect the colours of the environment perfectly.

I also love to accessorise with statement jewelry. Autumn fashion can be much more watered down and 'plain Jane', so I think its smart to invest in some eye catching pieces to set your look off. I love this layered chain necklace which I picked up in Primark for just £2 (Similar Here) - I always opt for gold accessories during the Autumn as they compliment the tones of the fabrics beautifully.
I am also crazy for this twisted chain necklace which I picked up in the TOPSHOP sale for just £2, its so different to anything I own and I think it will look gorgeous with some rust shade nails - like this Barry M Gelly one!

Boots, Boots, Boots! You'll rarely find me without a pair of boots on during the Autumn/Winter months and I have picked up a couple of bargain pairs already!! You might have seen these Missguided Reptile print ankle boots in my 'Sales Wishlist | Shoes & Bags Edit' post.. well, I'm pleased to tell you they are just as beautiful in real life and super comfortable - and they have been reduced even more to just £10! The black and white reptile print not only makes them on trend but also makes it easy for you to match them to any outfit!
I also picked up these adorable cut-out buckled Chelsea boots from Hidden Fashion for just £7.00 - and this is the regular price! They have tons of great pieces at bargain prices and these boots were just one of my favourites. They are super comfy and will look great styled with dresses and tights when Autumn rolls around. They are great for adding a little height without crippling your feet!

Hats are another item I always seem to select during Autumn Winter. I just feel like there is something about them that really pulls an Autumnal outfit together. This wide brim fedora from New Look (similar here) is just perfect for that finishing touch and the woolen finish gives it a very Autumnal feel. I love to wear hats this time of year as they are great for hiding that inevitable wind swept hair and they are super cosy too - as well as being a perfectly appropriate shelter from that pesky fine rain!
You can also accessorise your hat with feathers and buttons to give it a more personal touch - something I am planning on doing with mine sometime soon!

I just cant wait to see what beauty and makeup lines will be available - I am addicted to deep berry lips and golden brown eyes, as well as rich jewel toned nails in the Autumn/Winter. Last year Barry M and MakeUp Academy really impressed me with their A/W lines and I cant wait to see what they will pull out of the bag this year!

Have you stocked up on any A/W staples yet?

Blogging | My 5 Top tips

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Image; Pinterest

Let's face it, blogs are a dozen a dime nowadays and, although my little blog is by no means a favourite of many, I have learned a thing or two along the way.
It's important to be able to stand out - the amount of blogs I come across with a plain white background, some italic black font and a small logo is unbelievable. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with this, of course, each to their own, I just think it is nice to keep to your own style rather than copying what every other blogger is doing because it seems trendy.
So, I have rounded up my 5 top tips for everyone who is thinking about starting a blog - or updating their current blog,to take a look at.

Be Passionate
There really is no point in starting a blog if you are not passionate about the subject you are writing about. If you are blogging for the sake of it then your posts will be half arsed and your readers will grow bored of them.You need to find a topic that excites you and is always fresh - for me, that's beauty. There is always something new to discover and I love it. The more you love your subject, the more it will show through your writing and the further you will go!
Another thing I want to mention is, that you shouldn't start a blog because you think you will get lots of free things sent to you. As a blogger, you do get things sent to you, but it takes time and work to gain trust and a relationship with brands and you have a responsibility to honestly review the things you have been sent - they aren't free gifts.

Good Photography is a Must
I have read lots of blogs since starting my own, and almost immediately I came to understand the importance of good photography - I'll be posting a separate piece on how to get good photography later - it is paramount; not only to draw in readers, but to help them understand your posts.
I've only come across a few blogs that had zero pictures of an item they were reviewing and I thought 'wait, what? You expect me to understand the shade of lipstick you are raving about without actually showing me?'. You just cant do that with a blog.
Pictures need to be clear, in focus and interesting - not only to make your blog look good, but to excite your readers too.

Publish during the week
Readers are more likely to visit your blog on Tuesdays and Wednesday studies show, with most hits between 9:30-11am. Early morning between 7am-9am is when people are checking their feeds (Instagram, facebook ect) and their emails, so aim to post just after that time slot.
You are also less likely to get readers on the weekends as people are busy doing their own thing rather than being sat at their PCs or on their phones so try not to publish your posts on these days.
Its a good idea to get your posts ready whenever you have the chance, of course, just try to publish them at the times when you know you will get the most readers and traffic to your blog!
Don't forget to promote those posts to your social media pages with direct links and hashtag keywords - which will make it easier for new readers or companies to find you, for example, when publishing a beauty related post, I always make sure to include the #bbloggers hashtag so that other beauty bloggers and beauty lovers can find me. If you are publishing a fashion piece try using the #fbloggers hashtag!

Don't compare yourself
There are plenty of other blogs out there that started around the same time or after mine did which have higher numbers of followers and readers, but I've learned to not let it bother me. There was a time when I would question what I was doing wrong with my blog or what it was missing, both of these questions have a simple answer; 'nothing'. Each blog will grow at its own pace. Of course some bloggers have much more time to put into their blogs than others so they will inevitably grow faster, and some bloggers have contacts in the right areas which can help spread the word, but fast paced growth doesn't always equal success.
It has taken me 2 years to achieve just over 300 Bloglovin' followers, 600 Twitter followers and 470 Instagram followers, but I am happy with that, I know that people are reading my blog and that makes it all worthwhile.
I have learned that reaching out and joining blogger programs is a really good thing to do, too. EtailPR and The Blogger Programme are a couple of my favourites. You can also find out which brands are looking to work with new bloggers by searching results for the hashtag #bloggerswanted on Twitter!

Give yourself a break
Don't blog if you don't feel like it, your work just wont be as good. Everyone needs a break once in a while and your readers will understand and be right there for you when you make your triumphant return. They'll appreciate the honestly and it lets them know that you are human too - not just a blogging machine!
When I was pregnant my blog really took a backseat and I didn't publish any new posts for about 6 weeks, but when I came back, I was super enthusiastic and bursting with ideas - I got a new layout designed for my blog by 'love from be' and I re-designed my header and posting style.
It's a good idea to keep a diary for your blog. I know some bloggers also keep a schedule of which posts they will publish on which day and although that works great for them, it just isn't for me, I prefer to keep it casual with a notebook which I scribble down ideas into and slowly work my way through. I also have a box at home which is my 'Blogging Box'. This way, if I buy or get sent something to review, I know it will be safe and I know where it is when it comes round to reviewing it!

I hope some of you have found this useful - but let me know what your top blogging tips are too!

Photography | My 5 top tips

Monday, 20 July 2015

Picture; Pinterest

Good photography is essential when blogging - it helps your readers to understand what you are talking about and creates an excitement in their minds.
I don't have the best photography skills by any stretch of the imagination, but I have picked up some useful hints in my blogging journey, and the best bit is you don't need expensive equipment! Just a creative eye and some patience will make all the difference!

Lots of Light
Good lighting is the key to creating an excellent photo. Lots of light will mean a clear, bright image with good focus - the trick is to know which angles to use the lighting from. I always take my photos in front of a window to make sure I get natural lighting - the best kind. But to make sure I don't end up with dark spots in some corners of my pictures I also use a SAD sun light.
For those days when I don't get around to taking pictures using natural sunlight, I use my at home lightbox. Dan bought me this to help me out since I am mostly busy caring for Elias during the days now. It is fantastic as it comes with a range of backdrops and powerful lights to create a brilliant, professional finish to my images - without the price tag.
I love using photo editors such as picmonkey (online) and modliv (phone app) to make sure my photos are the best they can be - I can alter the lighting to make it the optimum and I can also add definition to my images to make them come together as a whole.

Interesting Angles
Angles are also very important when taking your images. You should consider which angles will best display your subject and try to be creative - rather than just taking all of your pics head on. I like to get low down by my subject (usually beauty products) and lay them out in different positions and take numerous photos. Some products will photograph better at different angles, so its best to just play around and see what you come up with. Its also good to try out different angles when trying to get a close up or 'macro' shot, I like to lay the subject on its side and put some other objects in the background (which I keep blurred) to build a more complete image.

Backgrounds are such fun and something I have recently only discovered the power of - they can really help to show off your subject and can make an image much more attractive to the eye. I have had fun using picture frames, fabrics, even magazine cuttings for my backgrounds, but you could use anything - try to think about something that could relate to your subject to make the picture more 'whole'. For example, if you are photographing festival accessories you could use grass as a backdrop, or if you are photographing shower gels you could use white tiling and carefully placed bubbles - the list is literally endless so get creative; you could even start a pinterest board to help you get inspired!

Crisp & Clear
Lots of bloggers use professional cameras to take their images but I am happy using my Sony Xperia Z1 compact phone - the camera is fantastic and it has so many functions and setting to help me get the lighting right, as well as selecting which parts of the image are in focus and which are not. The main point here is, whatever equipment you are using make sure your image is in focus. Lighting will play a key part in this but when you are taking that picture make sure everything is as you want it and select your main focus point - and keep it in focus. If you dont get it right the first time then snap, snap, snap away until you do.

Be Patient
Taking the perfect image is an art - it doesn't happen the first time. It can be frustrating to get all of your images just as you want it and then the sun dissapears and casts it all into darkness, or to have arranged your subject what feels like a million times over. But remember, Rome wasn't built in a day, and your picture will need to be taken more than once - but it will be worth it. Just be patient and note down what works - next time you can refer to your notes and you will be done much quicker!

Below is an example of a photo using all of all the points I have listed. I have angled the products differently - one upside down  and one correct way up. It has a fitting background to match the 50's vibe of the products and it is clear and in focus. You can see that the image is perfectly acceptable the way that it is, but I have used Picmonkey to crop and add more light to the image to make it more vibrant and eye catching.

Do you have any tips that help you take the perfect snap?

Sale Wishlist | Accessories Edit

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Navy skinny bow belt // Faux Suede fedora // Brushed Gold studs // Chain twist necklace // Layered necklace // Tan Faux leather belt  // CircleStone cuff // Black tassel belt // Lipstick in 'Suspected' // Denim shirt collar bib // 

Accessories are a must, whatever the season, and to complete my sales wishlist trio (see my others here and here) I have put together a collection of some of the sales bargain accessories I'm lusting over.

This cute bow belt will add a perfect finishing touch to any dress and when teamed with this gorgeous faux suede fedora it will have the ultimate autumnal feel.

I am all about statement accessories during the autumn, as I feel the clothing can be a little more 'plain', so accessorising is always something I try to do. This layered necklace will look amazing over any t-shirt or dress, giving it a more chic look, and I am so in love with these brushed gold studs - they will look darling on those windy days when you just have to tie your hair back.
I have already picked up this bargain chain twist necklace as it was just too good a deal to leave. I think it will be beautiful for adding some glam to the more plain clothing I tend to wear during the autumn and I think the burnt orange colour makes it even more seasonally appropriate.

Keeping in with the belt theme, I feel like you can never go wrong with a tan belt. They look great with denim and works well to break up patterned garments, too. But, if you're more of a black belt girl then this tassel one is just perfect too, the tassel keeps it on trend and less 'ordinary'.

I always opt for darker lips when the colder seasons come around and I am loving 'Suspected' by Topshop beauty, which you can pick up at a steal price in their sale. I think berry lips look gorgeous with brown or golden smoky eyes.

I have never tried collar bibs before, but they are something I have always admired and, as this one is so affordable, I think I will finally try them out. I just love the look of these under a cosy sweater and accessorised with collar clips or a sort collar chain.

How do you accessorise in the Autumn?

Colgate Secret Summer Smiles Event + Video

I've been blogging a little over 2 years now and I've never been to a blogger event - I know, shame on me. I've just never been invited, I'm just now learning the importance of networking and Twitter, but, anyway, I was so excited to be invited to the Elle, Cosmopolitan and Colgate secret Summer Smiles party to celebrate the launch of the brand new Colgate Max White Expert white - the first toothpaste of its kind which includes 0.1% hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth in just 5 days!

I traveled up to London alone as Dan had to stay and watch Elias, but I didn't mind. I took my iPod and enjoyed all the sights out of the train window, from country meadows to big city sky scrapers, it was a nice journey. I love the excitement of reaching London, you get a sense of adventure and freedom and the views of the gigantic buildings and the famous landmarks is just so exhilarating!

I continued on by tube to 'Embankment' and made my way to the gorgeous 'One Horse Guards' venue - having to stop and ask a police officer where the heck I was going *facepalm*!

I was a little early to the party which gave me the opportunity to walk around the beautifully kept area - little did I know the venue was right across the water from the London Eye, how amazing! Once it was time I made my way back to the party and was greeted by the wonderful Georgia of Cohn&Wolfe, she is such a friendly person which immediately made me feel more comfortable - I'm not a shy person by any means but it can be quite daunting entering a room full of people you don't know alone. Thankfully, Georgia made it  much easier for me and introduced me to beautiful Olivia and a few of the other bloggers that had been invited to the event.

It was so lovely to finally connect with the authors behind some of my favourite blogs including Lauren of PrettyPoshOhMyGosh (who is just as beautiful in real life, I might add!). We chatted and were invited to try some 'Oppo' ice cream - which, unbelievably, has less calories than an apple! I know what you're thinking - some more bland health food - but no way was this one of those! I tried the salted caramel variety and it was every bit as good as Ben&Jerry's and left me absolutely addicted. We also sipped Prosecco and nibbled some amazing canapes!

Inside the venue there were some areas set up in which you could have your hair and makeup done professionally - I took full advantage of this and chatted with Amanda Grossman, makeup artist to the stars, about how to get my brows on point. She was so friendly and beautiful and gave me some amazing tips, as well as recommending some must have products. I also got the chance to speak with Dr David Bloom - a Harley street dentist - about the best way to improve the stains on my teeth. He was so helpful and gave me some brilliant advice!

Lisa Snowdon was also attending the party and she gave us a lovely speech, as well as her top tips for a whiter smile - which included wearing a brighter lipstick!

The venue was decorated so beautifully with red uplights, copies of Elle and Cosmo dotted around, a DJ and some gorgeous signage and photo op points! I really liked the friendly atmosphere and the different backgrounds of the people in attendance - everyone had a story.

At around 7o'clock I was taken off to a separate room to film my very own video. The room had been set up as a beauty corner, with the most exquisite vanity table, professional lighting and a few cameras. I had a mic attached onto my dress (something fun which I had never experienced before), and a couple of cameras pointed onto me as I filmed my 'Top 5 Summer Essentials' video. You can see the video at the bottom of this post and on my Youtube channel.

After filming my video I chatted to some more bloggers and soaked up the beautiful sights off of the terrace as the sun set over the Thames. I, sadly, had to leave the party a little early to make sure I made my train home, but as I left I was handed the most amazing goody bag filled with beautiful treats and surprises. My personal favourites were the M.A.C lipstick in 'Relentlessly Red', the Nails Inc. Polish and the Colgate electric toothbrush - as well as the Max White Expert White toothpaste itself!

I had such an amazing time and made some wonderful new friends. The whole experience was so positive and has left me addicted and so excited for my next blogger event. Thank you so much to Georgia for inviting me along and to the lovely ladies I met for having me and introducing me to the wonderful world of blogger events! I hope you all enjoy my video!

Gerard Cosmetics 'Buttercup' Lipstick

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Gerard Cosmetics is a brand I have only recently discovered but I have quickly fallen in love with many an item on their gorgeous website.
One item in particular is the beautiful 'Buttercup' Lipstick from the Jaclyn Hill collection - which I just couldn't resist buying.

Each lipstick costs $19 (around £12) and, although this is a little more than I would usually spend on one item, I really wanted to try this and I had a coupon ('Foxy' - still valid) which entitled me to 10% off my order. Much to my surprise, delivery to the UK was free and only took about 4-5 days from ordering to arrival! I was a little worried about having to pay customs taxes but it turned out that I didn't have to, so all in all a very reasonable ordering process.

Each of the Lipsticks available from Gerard Cosmetics is encased in a luxurious and decadent golden chrome tube with the shade name clearly displayed on its base. The formula of the lipstick is ideal - buttery and hydrating!
'Buttercup' is a perfect rose nude with a satin finish which I have enjoyed wearing as part of my everyday make up look almost everyday since owning it. I find the wear time of this lipstick is very reasonable - giving me around 3-4 hours before having to re-apply and I also love that all of the Gerard Cosmetics lipsticks are scented with their signature 'Creamsicle' scent!
The pigmentation is also strong which is something I always look for in a lipstick, I hate having to apply multiple layers just to get the colour to show and, luckily, this is not the case with 'Buttercup'. It is noticeable from the first application and is oh-so dainty!

Overall, a wonderful piece of makeup which I am pleased I took the chance to order and try. I also found that Gerard Cosmetics had wonderful customer service though both their website and their Twitter page, with friendly staff and fast response times.
I cant wait to order again - I am seriously lusting after the 'Brow Bar To Go' and the '1995' lipstick. But this time, I think I'll take advantage of the 3 lipsticks for $29 bundle!

Sales Wishlist | Coats & Jackets Edit

Monday, 13 July 2015

Beige cocoon Jacket // Faux Fur Blanket wrap // Cropped Draped trench jacket // Sleeveless coatigan // Longline tailored coat  // Geo Print duster

There is nothing better than wrapping up in a nice warm (fashionable) coat in the cold months and heading out shopping or for a hazelnut hot chocolate with friends.With this thought in mind, I have been browsing the online sales looking for an A/W coat or two!

Much to Dans' dismay, I have loved blanket wraps for quite some time now and I think this faux fur adorned one is just perfect. Its much more wearable than the picnic blanket style one I already own and the fur addition makes it look much more expensive than it actually is. I can imagine throwing this on with some black jeans and the black stiletto ankle boots mentioned in my 'Boots & Bags' edit.

I have never owned a 'coatigan', but I have noticed them getting more and more popular and I'm wanting to try one out for myself. What better excuse to do so than picking one up for half the cost in the sales?!

I also think this Geometric print duster coat is so gorgeous - I think its the perfect way to rock  patterned looks during the colder months without being too OTT!

Have you picked up any bargain fashion pieces in the sales yet?

Sales Wishlist | Shoes & Bags Edit

Friday, 10 July 2015

Structured tote //  Reptile Print ankle boots // White Mini Box Bag // Leather Tassel Block Heel // Strappy Peeptoe Sandals // Stiletto Ankle Boots // Lace Trim ankle socks // Tan structured tote // Black structured tote // White Block Heel Chelsea boot // Ankle strap cork wedges // 

The sales are in full swing and, like most girls, I have been window (or screen?) shopping for some bargains I'd really love to take advantage of!
I'm already thinking about Autumn and what I'll be wearing, so I've kept this season and the season transition in mind whilst browsing the online stores and I've seen some perfect things - look out for my accessories edit and my coats & jackets edit coming next week.

I always turn to boots in the A/W so I think its smart to buy a few good quality pairs now whilst they are on the cheap. I am especially in love with the white pair, I think they are so different and will look great with black jeans.
I have to admit I have already purchased the reptile skin effect boots as they are so cool and I couldn't risk waiting in case my size went out of stock. I'm going to have to pick up a pair of the cute lace trim ankle socks, too as they look so cute with ankle boots and give them such a girly touch - especially when worn over plain back tights.
I think the tassel block heels and the white cork wedges are great transition pieces as they can be worn with dresses in the warmer months but also with jeans as the weather starts to cool down.

As for the bags, I think the paneled structured tote is great as the different tones give it dimension and means it will be suitable with a range of outfits and accessories. The Tan and Black totes aren't technically in the sale but I think that at such a bargain price they are definitely worth a mention.And, this white mini box bag is so cute - it would look great with those white ankle boots, don't you think?!

Have you picked up any sales bargains yet? Let me know as I am looking for things to take away on my honeymoon with me in October. We.We are thinking Paris, so I am going to need to stock up on warm staples!

Essence 'The Nudes' Collection

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Nudes. They're everywhere right now and what I enjoy most about them is that there is a shade for every skin tone.
Budget makeup is another love of mine and I've recently discovered brand 'Essence' - available in Wilkinson's and some Superdrug stores, as well as online here .

I have been on the hunt for a perfect nude lipstick for sometime and as much as I love my MAC 'Velvet Teddy', just wanted something a little more affordable. So, when I noticed the Essence Nudes collection, I picked up a few bits to put to the test - can you believe that all of this makeup came to less than £12?!

Long lasting Lipstick Nudes
I picked up shades 03 'Come Naturally' and 05 'Cool nude'. These are swatched on my skin above - I prefer not to swatch on my lips as natural lip colours can vary quite drastically and I don't want to mislead anyone. 03 'Come Naturally' is my favourite of the two as the pink hues suit my skin tone better.That isn't to say that I don't enjoy wearing 05'Cool Nude',though - I think the purple undertones would suit darker skin tones beautifully!
These were just £2.30 a pop and I have to say I am very impressed.
They're not quite as long lasting as I had hoped but you do get a good couple of hours wear before you have to re-apply.They have a smooth, moisturising formula and don't dry the lips out -though I do always suggest applying lipbalm before any lipstick application.
I am in love with the sleek, matte packaging and the shade name is clearly labelled on the bottom of each bullet to avoid confusion. I also think that the Essence 'e' logo embossed onto the lipstick itself is very cool!

There was an impressive selection available for these,but I opted for 05 'Soft Berry' and 06 'Satin Mauve'. They were just £1 each and are brilliant - again, swatches are pictured above.
06 'Satin Mauve' is my favourite and it compliments my 03'Come Naturally' lipstick perfectly.They glide across the lips smoothly,with no drag and help my lipstick to last longer and apply more neatly.

Nail Polish Nudes
Even though I have a thousand-and-one nail polishes, I couldn't help but pick up a few of these to try. There were lots in the collection but I tried shades 02 'I Nude It', 03 'I'm Lost in You' and 05 'Pure Soul'  for just £1.80 each and all swatched above, each with 2 coats.
I like the brush which comes with these as it fans out nicely and applies the polish evenly.
I think shade 05 'Pure Soul' is a great base for a french manicure or would look beautiful worn alone for that natural look. Shade 03 'I'm Lost in You' is a little darker than most of the nudes I've tried, but it is gorgeous nonetheless and I think it would look even better with a tan. 02' I Nude it' is more of a block ivory shade which looks great with gold accessories.
The wear time of these was around 2-3 days with a top coat,so pretty average!

Overall,a fantastic, affordable collection with lots of choices and pretty packaging!

What Ive Learned Living in The Country

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Clanfield. Country Village, 250 years old. Estimated Population 4000. Consists of fields, farms, a small church and a village hall.
Dan & I have lived in Clanfield for around 18 months now and, before we moved, I had only ever lived in the city. Now, don't get me wrong, I love the city as much as the next girl, but the country has always appealed to me more, it's a simpler, more friendly life and I have learned a lot in my short time here.

Free Range is the only way
When living in a small village, it is so important to support the local community. And, with farms-a-plenty around us, its not hard to, either. I have always bought free range eggs from the store but since moving to Clanfield, we have always bought our eggs from a local farm where you can pick up 30 for £2. Let me tell you, there is nothing like a truly freerange egg - You may have to rid the shells of stuck on feathers, but they taste oh-so much better! We also try to buy most of our meat from the local butchers and its nice to know that all of the pubs and restauramts in the surrounding area buy local too. Farming is, sadly, a dying trade, so I like to support the local farmers in anyway I can - plus I have loved getting to know the farmers wife on my trips to 'Charity Farm'
You can also pick up homegrown flowers and herbs on a walk around the village, people sell them right on their doorsteps!

Boots are best
I'd owned a pair of cowgirl boots for New Look for years and even though they were worn to the bone I couldn't bear to part with them. While they weren't practical working boots I loved them so much, so when Dan offered to take me shopping on my birthday this year for a pair of authentic Justins (see them here) I was overwhelmed with excitement! I finally have my very own pair of mustang hide cowgirl boots and they have barely left my feet since February!
Living in a village means there are lots of fields around and if the rain doesn't make mud then tractors are leaving it everywhere so boots really are a necessity (at least, that's what I tell myself!).

Being social is a must
When we first moved to Clanfield I had quit my job, we had no internet, no TV license and I didn't know a soul around me *Cue worlds smallest violin solo*, so it was a very lonely time.
Moving to such a small community is hard as everybody already knows each other and any newbie is always going to be the odd one out.
Thankfully, our landlord & landlady live on the property just behind us and they are the kindest people you could know, we often joke that they are the village celebrities as they get along with everybody - so as you can imagine it didnt take long for me to be introduced to some of the wonderful local folk. I am not a shy person by any stretch of the imagination, but Clanfield doesnt really boast a young community so it was hard to find like minded people but my landlady made short work of it and I owe her so much for that. She has invited me to lunches, chairty events and much more so I can now say I know a handful of friendly faces around here!
Having Elias has helped too as it has forced me to get out into the community more, I take him on walks and meet lost of nice people - one in particlar has become a firm friend; another farmers wife who has a baby just 5 weeks older than Elias, I enjoy going to a weekly baby group with her in the next village where there are lots of other young women who we have made friends with.

Dont be afraid of powercuts
Adjusting to a country house was strange - in our house we have an old fashioned electric machine which you have to keep topped up with £1 coins, or else *pooof* the electric switches off! I'ts always a mad rush to make sure that our cupboard is stocked up with £1 coins or we know we wont be eating or watching television that night, haha! There are also a lot of power cuts - I'm not sure why this is but when its winter and the light evenings are no more, its always a worry that the lights will cut out and I'll be plunged into darkness. There are no street lights around, either, so night time is literally pitch dark!
The only way I have managed to overcome the fear of the powercuts is to know that they never usually last more than 15 minutes and then everything comes back - that, and save work regularly on the PC!!

You Need a Car!
Although there is a couple of little convenience shops in the village, there really isn't a lot you can without a car here. At first, I was afraid to take the car out as I didn't know my way around anywhere and the country roads are real narrow, but I've gotten used to it now and I prefer country driving over motorway driving any day! Its actually quite exciting driving through the country as you never know when you are going to see a deer, a fox or even hares and I love driving past the horse fields at sun down - its beautiful! Driving has opened up a lot of options for me here, as the neighboring villages offer a lot more entertainment than ours, which gives me much more to do!

Everyone has a story here and I'm sure I have much more to learn about country living, but I am enjoying my time in Clanfield so far, and have a whole new appreciation for the farmers and community members that work so hard to keep small villages like ours welcoming and thriving.