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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Iluma Intense Brightening Exfoliating Powder Review*

Skincare is something I've really, really got into over the last few months. I now have some sort of actual routine with it and over time I've added in a few different products that have all done wonders for my skin. The latest being the Iluma Intense Brightening Exfoliating Powder from Image Skincare.
I actually meant to blog about this around Halloween as it contains pumpkin enzymes and it just made sense to talk about it then, but as couriers just don't like my flat it didn't arrive in time. No fault of anyone though really, sometimes things like just can't be helped but as it's a product that can be used all year round, it's definitely still worth telling you all about!

Image Skincare are a clinical skincare brand all about making sure you have the healthiest skin possible from their safe, proven ingredients and smart botanicals. Their Iluma Exfoliating Powder really intrigued me as it's nothing like I've ever used before! First of all I love the packaging. The packaging of a product is really important for me, if it doesn't look attractive I'm very unlikely to buy it but this is really striking and stands out because of the purple detail. It's very easy to hold and use and doesn't require much effort at all as part of your skincare routine. The way to use this is to shake a small amount into wet hands and activate it by rubbing them together, this forms a light foam and can then be gently massaged into skin. I tend to use this in the morning as it really wakes me up and leaves me feeling refreshed and then sometimes I'll use in the evening too along with my DHC Cleansing Oil and Indeed Labs products.
I love an exfoliater and always enjoy using them but as I'd never used anything like this before, I really had no idea how it would feel and what effects it would have on my skin, if any. The main thing this is supposed to do is remove any debris and oil from pores but also provide hydration and age-defying benefits to your skin. When first using this, I noticed immediately how much clearer my skin looked. I know it's not possible for spots and pores to go away after just one use but my skin really did look so much better, like there was a brand new layer if that makes sense. Not only did it look much brighter and healthier, it also felt it. My skin was genuinely so soft to touch and I really did feel that it had hydrated it and got rid of any bacteria. Everytime I use this, I straight away feel so much better about my skin, it just looks fresh and I can tell the product has actually done something! One thing I did like about this was the smell, which is unusual for a skincare product. It really does smell like cake! As it has pumpkin enzymes in it, it really does have that scent and even though I'm not usually the biggest fan of anything pumpkin scented, this is really nice. It is just like baked goods and who doesn't love that?!
Overall, I'm so impressed with this and it's been a welcome addition to my little skincare cabinet! This is definitely different to your usual exfoliaters but so worth trying it. It's a different way of adding exfoliation to your skincare routine that makes your skin look much brighter and healthier, and it also smells pretty amazing! What's not to love?

Have you tried anything from Image Skincare before?

*Product sent for the purpose of this post. I only work with brands relevant to me and my blog

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Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Influenster Voxbox - Real Techniques PowderBleu Collection...

I GOT MY FIRST INFLUENSTER VOXBOX! I felt like I had been waiting so long for this. I signed up to Influenster a while ago after I saw quite a few bloggers having success with it. If you're not sure what I'm on about, Influenster is basically another network that can get you working with brands and trying out new products, and to be picked all you have to do is complete as many surveys as possible and leave reviews on products you've used in the past. I'd just about given up on it as I just didn't seem to be getting picked for anything and then one day I had an email saying my Real Techniques Voxbox was on the way! So if you're unsure of whether to carry on with it, DO! I think people are just kind of picked at random so definitely stick with it.
I was so happy to receive this box as Real Techniques are my go to brush brand and I don't often buy new makeup for myself. I'd seen the PowderBleu collection online before but at around £22 a brush, they were just too out of my price range and I never thought I'd get the chance to try them. Luckily I was sent 4 brushes from the collection - Soft Complexion Brush, Soft Powder Brush, Soft Finishing Brush and Soft Shadow Brush, so let me tell you what I think of them all!
First of all, aren't they the most stunning brushes?! I love the dark navy blue colour of them, they are so striking and look beautiful in photos. You can also tell when you hold them how good quality they are, they are quite heavy but comfortable and the actual brush is so incredibly soft. I've been using all four of these as part of my makeup routine and they have all been brilliant. I use the B03 Complexion Brush first for my foundation and it applies it so well! It has a domed, dense head so is great for buffing and blending foundation onto the skin but it can also be used for powder too. When I use this I find my base stays for so much longer and at the end of the day my makeup is in a much better condition than usual.

The next brush I tend to use is the B04 Shadow Brush. I don't really ever wear eyeshadow but this can also be used for concealer and even highlighter. I've been using this to blend any concealer under my eyes and then I tend to go back to it later to dust a bit of highlighter over my cheekbones. I've found it's brilliant for both and now I don't know what I'd do without it as it's so versatile.
I then go for the B02 Finishing Brush as it's great for contouring! I don't know how but everytime it picks up the perfect amount of product and gently sweeps on. It's really good for blending and as it's such a soft brush it doesn't feel like I'm putting loads and loads on my face! I then sometimes use this for blusher too and then I'll use the brush I mentioned before for highlight. The last brush I use is the B01 Powder Brush which is perfect for adding that finishing touch to your makeup. I use this to apply a bit of powder everywhere and really blend in my bronzer and blusher and it's just excellent. Again as I've already said, as it's so soft and light I don't worry about applying loads to my face and it just buffs everything together so well.
Overall I just love these brushes! They are definitely the best I've ever used and are so worth the money. They are pricey but if you want to invest in some new makeup brushes, then these have to be the ones you go for. All of them can be used for a variety of things so you can get multiple uses out of them and they also just look extremely pretty and would be gorgeous on a dressing table!

If you want to give Real Techniques brushes a go, they are available at Boots and Superdrug and they have so many to choose from.

Are Real Techniques your fave too?

*Products sent complimentary via Influenster. I only work with brands relevant to me and my blog. Affiliate links used in this post

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Friday, 8 December 2017

Birthday Wishlist 2018...

I might have only put my Christmas Wishlist up a few weeks ago but it's actually my birthday at the start of January so I really wanted to do one for that too. I've got so many other posts planned for the final few weeks of 2017 so this had to go up a bit early. As I said in my previous wislist, I really don't expect much at all, I just love spending time with people and to be honest I'm not usually that much of a fan of my birthday. I'm feeling a bit more positive than last year though and I'm hoping it's going to be a good day!
I've found a few things online which I would absolutely love from places like Paperchase, New Look, Home Bargains and more so keep reading if you want to know what's on my wishlist.
My Mindful Mind Journal - I saw this book while I was in Covent Garden a few weeks ago and instantly thought it was something I need to have! It's a little journal that is all about embracing mindfulness and encouraging you to live in the moment, through various different prompts. There are sections for you to write about things you love about yourself, choosing a song and really listening to the lyrics and so many other sections. I just think it would be so interesting to go through and would make me have a bit of time out each day!

Black Boots - I recently bought a pair of black jeans which I haven't had for such a long time and now I'm desperate for some black boots to go with them for winter. I have a few other pairs of boots and shoes that go with my other jeans but I just don't think they go with the black and I'm a little bit fussy sometimes! I've found a few pairs recently that I like for quite good prices including these Suedette Slouch ones and these Western ones.

Red Tartan Scarf - Sticking with the winter theme, I'd love another chunky scarf. It's so cold at the moment and whenever I go out I like to be wrapped up well so a scarf is a must. I have a few already but one I don't have is a proper red tartan scarf and I just think they look so nice on. I'd love one a bit similar to this one from Asos but I know places like Primark do them for much cheaper.

Letter Board From Home Bargains - I've seen these letterboards all over for months and months now but I've always thought they are just too expensive and wouldn't be worth it. That was until I knew Home Bargains had brought one out for only £5.99! They look pretty big aswell and you can choose either copper or silver, and I would just love one of these for the spare room. I think it would make a pretty good blog prop too!

Susannah Constantine After The Snow Book - I'm really trying to get back into reading at the moment as I used to absolutely love it. I don't spend as much time now getting lost in a book as like most people, I'm just always on my phone, but whenever I do, I enjoy it so much. One book I'd really like to read is called After The Snow by Susannah Constantine. I saw an interview with her recently on Loose Women and she was explaining the story and I just felt like it was a book I had to get. I'm not sure why, it's just one I think would be so interesting and a really different one to what I have at the moment.

Paddington 2 DVD - I'm not sure if this will be out on DVD by the time my birthday comes around as it only came out in cinemas at the start of November but if it is, I would love it. I'm such a big fan of the films and the first one I put on quite a lot because it makes me so happy, so I'd love the second one too. I think it's one I could watch over and over, and it's just as good as the first!

Address Book - This might seem like a bit of a random thing to want but we desperately need an address book! Every year we have the same dilemma where we're not sure where we've written everyones addresses down so when it comes to Christmas cards and Birthday cards, it can be a bit of a struggle! I've literally just written them all down again in a specific notebook so hopefully we'll remember next time but a proper little address book would just be a bit of a life saver! I really like this one from Paperchase but to be honest any cheap one would do, an address book is just that isn't it?

Pop Tarts - Another one that might seem a bit random but it's kind of a tradition that every year either at Christmas or for our birthdays, me and George will get each other Pop Tarts. I've no idea why or how this started but we both love them and there are so many different flavours available now, that there is always a new one to try! To be honest I love the plain strawberry ones and chocolates ones a lot but they do have some amazing american ones now too which I'm never going to turn down!

Toblerone Fruit and Nut - I am a Toblerone fiend. I love it so much! I love it all year round but especially at Christmas. The milk and the dark ones are my favourite but I saw recently, in WHSmith I think, that they now have a fruit and nut one. I love Cadbury Fruit and Nut so I know I would love this. It's like two of my favourite things put together. I would love love love to try this.

Wicked Mug - I really don't need more mugs, it's actually becoming a bit of a problem but one I would really, really love to unwrap would be this Wicked one. When we went in January to see the show for the second time, I kept looking at these mugs but decided I didn't need it. That was until the end of the show and I thought no I have to have it, got to the counter and they had completely sold out. I so wish I'd just got one at the start now! They sell them on the official Wicked website so I would love to have it one day, even if not quite for my birthday as I do have a cupboard full already.

So, that's just about everything I could think of this year. After a pretty difficult year I'm just looking forward to 2018 and a good birthday, full of cake probably! By the way I just wanted to mention that I've been nominated for the first time in the UK Blog Awards! I am so, so happy about it and would be so grateful for any votes. If you would like to vote for me in the lifestyle category then follow this link and enter your details, but if not there are so many other wonderful bloggers nominated too!

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Thursday, 7 December 2017

How I'm Prepping For Christmas And A Hello Fresh Giveaway*

I'm sure I've said this in many posts over the last few weeks but how fast has this year gone?! I genuinely can't get over that we're in December now and Christmas is only a few weeks away. As Christmas is just around the corner I'm really trying to get sorted now and I've been prepping for a good few weeks so I've teamed up with Hello Fresh to tell you all about it! Keep reading to see how I'm preparing for the festive season and I also have a giveaway at the end of this post where you can win your own classic box!
HOW I'M PREPPING FOR CHRISTMAS
One thing I've been doing for a few weeks now in preperation for Christmas, is stocking up early! This is something I do every year and it just makes life much easier. Once the Christmas food comes out in shops, I start picking bits up each week in the food shop and I store anything I can in our spare room. It means that room looks like a bomb has hit it for a while but it's worth it. I like to get as many tubs of chocolate, bags of crisps, bottles of bucks fizz etc as possible, so not only are we prepared in plenty of time, it also spreads the cost out really well! I dread to think what our food shop would cost the week of Christmas if I didn't do this each year. I also like to get any frozen stuff we need a few weeks in advance so things like pigs in blankets, vegetables etc don't even really need to be thought about until the day. This means when we get our Christmas food shop we can just focus on all of the fresh stuff we need and we don't need to worry about things not been in stock and missing out.
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- Something else I like to do to prepare for Christmas and save as much money as possible is try and earn vouchers. I mentioned this in my latest money saving post but sites where you can earn money and vouchers for doing surveys is brilliant for this time of year. I've managed to get loads over the last few months and it's meant that I've been able to get bits from places like Marks and Spencers for absolutely nothing and it's been such a massive help.

- The last thing I'm currently thinking about now for Christmas Day is all of the timings for Christmas dinner! The food is one of the best bits of the day isn't it? so I want to get it right and I always like to try and out do the year before. I'm already thinking about what I'll be cooking first and what will need to defrost, just to make everything a little easier for me on the day. There's no doubt about it, making Christmas dinner can be such a stressful thing but it really doesn't have to be this year as Hello Fresh have put together a Cheat Sheet to help you with it all. Their Christmas Dinner Guide tells you everything you need to know about preparing the feast, including important timings and recipes for perfect roast potatoes, a delicious turkey and even a secret gravy recipe!
GIVEAWAY!
Now onto the giveaway which I'm sure wouldn't go amiss in the run up to Christmas.Why not take the stress off for a few meals of the week with Hello Fresh? No need to worry about popping to the shops or coming up with exciting meals, one of their boxes has it all sorted for you. All you have to do to have a chance of winning is enter the giveaway below, complete as many entries as you would like but the mandatory one is for you to go and download the cheat sheet. Open to residents of the UK and over 18's only.

GOOD LUCK!
Have you started prepping for Christmas?!

*Sponsored post. I only work with brands relevant to me and my blog

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Wednesday, 6 December 2017

My Christmas Nail Polish Picks...

Over the last few years I've done quite a few Christmas nails posts and as I just love doing my nails so much and changing things up, I had to do one this year too. First of all, I don't think the pictures below do any of these justice! The lighting was brilliant when I was setting everything up and then when I started taking photos, somehow the sun had started going down and they just didn't turn out how I wanted. Anyway, I hope this post is still okay and gets you feeling festive.

I'm going to start with Essie because it's just one of the best nail brands and I've loved them for quite a while now. Probably my all time favourite Essie colour and always my go to at Christmas is Toggle To The Top. It's a deep, dark red shade with glitter and it really does look gorgeous on. I think it's basically like red tinsel and glittery baubles in a nail polish, and even though glitter ones can be difficult remove sometimes, it's so worth it for a few days over the festive period. Another Essie polish I love is a little more subtle but it's Chinchilly. I absolutely love how this looks on. It's a chic grey shade and goes with literally everything. It's one of those colours that looks smart for work but also looks great with jewellery for a night out. If you're not into the darker reds and glitter, then this is the perfect winter colour for you. Now onto Nails Inc, and I am in love with their colour Chelsea Embankment which is a gold glitter. Is there a more festive colour than this? I don't think so. It just screams Christmas to me and I can't wait to wear this on my nails on Christmas Day. What I love about this is how easy it is to apply, how fast it is to dry and for a glitter, also how easy it comes off.
Another Nails Inc polish I'm going to be wearing for the first time this Christmas is the shade Victoria. This is a deep purple/red colour and it's probably the darkest out of all of these but I love a dark nail. If you're not into black nails but do love to go for a deeper shade during winter, then this is the one for you. It's got a lovely red tint that comes through and it's so glossy. One of the last ones I had to mention, even though I've spoken about it a few times on my blog before is Rock n Roll by Rimmel. This is just a classic red, and who doesn't love that? I have a few of these Salon Pro polishes from Rimmel and they are so easy to use. The brush coats nails so well and it really doesn't take long to give yourself gorgeous festive nails. Lastly, I have Black Cherries by Rimmel. This is a 60 second super shine polish so it's another one that doesn't take long to dry, and it's just such a favourite of mine. It's a little bit of a lighter purple than the Nails Inc one but still looks so pretty and personally I think it looks lovely with a bit of silver glitter polish on the tips or on an accent nail.
I love painting my nails all year round really, I don't think I ever have bare nails, but there's just something about putting colours like this on at this time of year. So many festive colours to get you in the mood for Christmas Day!

Do you like colours like this for Christmas? What's your favourite winter nail colour?


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Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Sebamed Skincare Review*

I've featured so many skincare products on my blog recently but none like what I'm talking about today. I was recently sent a few products to try out from the brand Sebamed who I'm still pretty new to. I first saw them on Instagram and then one day I had a message asking if I'd like to try a few bits out, erm yes please?! I'd heard very good things about them so I couldn't wait to put a few products to the test.
Sebamed was established in 1957 by the German dermatologist Dr. Heinz Maurer and since then they have just grown and grown, to the level where they are now recommended by dermatologists and skin experts worldwide. They sell a range of products but their most popular is the Classic Cleansing bar which, like all of their items, has been developed with the same pH level as healthy skin (pH5.5) which makes them suitable for the whole family to enjoy. I was sent three things to try, so let me tell you what I think of them all!

First of all I was sent the Hand and Nail Balm which is a bit of an essential in the colder months of the year for me. This moisturiser provides you with silky, soft skin and it really helps with supporting the regeneration of rough and chapped skin, something lots of people suffer with in winter. The first thing that impressed me about this was how fast it absorbed into my skin. One thing I don't like usually about hand creams is that they can feel a bit sticky and you're left wanting to go and wash your hands again but that didn't happen with this. A little bit went a long way and it soaked in really well leaving my hands feeling really smooth and soft. Something else with this is that the pH 5.5. formular protects your nails against drying. I haven't noticed a massive difference yet with this though my nails have definitely grown a little and haven't been breaking nearly as much so maybe it has made more of a change than I initially realised. Finally, I also really liked the scent of this. I was expecting it to almost be a bit clinical but it really wasn't. It was just like any other hand cream really and was very pleasant to use.
Next I was sent the Feminine Intimate Wash which I won't lie, I had never thought of buying before! When I first saw this I wasn't sure how I felt about talking about it on my blog, but really why not? There's no harm in talking about these things and it should definitely be open up to discussion. This Intimate Wash pH 3.8 is supposed to support the ecological balance of the natural micro-flora for protection against any infections down there and any odour formation. It stabilises the moisture and content of the skin leaving everything feel soft and soothed, and I have to say, it was really nice to use actually! I'd heard before that shower gels aren't really good for your pH down below but I'd not given it too much thought but now I'll definitely be reaching for this again and again. It's definitely made me reconsider what I should and shouldn't be using.
Lastly, I was sent the Lip Defense Balm, which I think is another product well worth having ready for winter! Dry and chapped lips don't feel too good so anything that can help with that is brilliant and this is the ideal product. Using intensive treatment properties of the plant extracts jojoba and rice bran, this lip balm, protects lips from dehydration aswell as alleviating any irritation and inflammation with vitamin E. It's a great balm to use all year round as it protects your lips in winter from the cold and also in summer against sun burn as it is SPF 30. I loved using this and I know it's going to be a handbag staple! It left my lips feeling so soft and moisturised and for £2.99 I don't think it's bad at all!
Overall, I'm so impressed with Sebamed and I'll definitely be continuing on with all of these products. As I've already mentioned, the hand cream and lip balm are brilliant to protect against the cold weather, and even better, they are both perfect to just pop in your handbag. These products have definitely made me think more about the sorts of skincare products I use and why it's important to go for those that encourage a healthy pH level. If you want to find out anymore info yourself or you'd like to try some of these, you can find lots on their website

Have you tried anything from Sebamed before? What do you think to these products?

*Products sent for the purpose of this review. I only work with brands relevant to me and my blog

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Monday, 4 December 2017

November TV, Film & Music Favourites...

I did a favourites post dedicated to just TV and film in September and I wanted to do it for November too because I've been watching so many different shows recently that I just had to mention them in a seperate post. I wanted to keep my usual monthly favourites more about beauty and other products this month so I thought I'd do this again but also I've added in a bit of music too because again, there has been so much I've been loving over the last few weeks.
Celebrity Hunted - I was hooked with this program throughout October and the start of November. It was one of those shows I looked forward to every week and I'm kind of sad it's over now. It was about a few different celebrities going on the run from an elite team of hunters and basically whoever made it to day 14 without being caught, won. It was for Stand Up To Cancer so it was for a very good cause and was just really entertaining. The celebrities involved were Steph and Dom from Gogglebox, Anneka Rice, Jay and Siva from The Wanted, and finally Spencer and Jamie from Made in Chelsea. I think my favourites were Spencer and Jamie, I don't think you'd expect them to do as well as they did and they seem like genuinely nice people!
Source
Fresh Meat - This is one of those shows I've been meaning to watch for such a long time and it's one a lot of people I know have watched, but it wasn't until November I finally decided to give it a go. It's a british comedy starring Jack Whitehall and it follows a group of students who are just starting university and are living in the same house. It's such a simple concept and not necessarily loads happens throughout but it's so funny and I'm really sad it's ended now! I got through all four series so quickly and I'm already feeling like I need to re-watch it!
The Apprentice - I don't know why but I look forward to a new series of The Apprentice every single year. I've enjoyed watching it for such a long time and this year is no exception. I actually think I'm enjoying it more this year because all the candidates are pretty rubbish, I really can't tell who's going to win it because they all just seem all over the place. At the moment I think my favourite is Elizabeth, so many people seem to have it in for her just because she's different but I personally find her funny and think she does know what she's talking about.
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Stranger Things 2 - I can't believe this is the first time I'm mentioning Stranger Things on my blog! Obviously most people have heard of it now so I won't even try and explain it, but to be honest it wasn't until series 2, that's just come out, that I understood why it's so popular. The first series for me was just boring and I couldn't really get into it until the end, whereas series 2 had me sort of hooked from the beginning. I enjoyed every episode and got that feeling at the end of each one that I needed to watch more. I put off watching the first series for such a long time because it was so hyped up but I'm glad I've now seen both and I'm looking forward to more!
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Paddington 2 - Ahhhh how could I do this post and not mention Paddington 2? You're all probably getting sick of me talking about this film but sorry I'm not gonna stop. As I've already said in a previous post I adored the first Paddington film, because BEARS and LONDON. I really, really hoped the second film would live up to it, and it did, I just knew it would. I saw a few tweets about how good it was before I went to see it so I went in positive, and left feeling so happy. The story is just as good as the first film, if not better, and it's hilarious but emotional, and just everything you want in a film. It's so heartwarming and one I already can't wait to have on DVD to watch whenever I like. If you haven't seen this yet, I really recommend you do, beware the end might make you cry though.
Murder On The Orient Express - We went to see this the week before Paddington 2, two very different films! and I thoroughly enjoyed it. You can see from the poster below what it's about, but it's such a brilliant story. I had absolutely no idea who did it for such a long time, every person seemed suspicious, but the twist at the end is incredible! I was genuinely so shocked and I did not expect the ending we got. I'm so glad we went to see it.
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Taylor Swift (Call It What You Want) - I'm not a massive Taylor Swift fan anymore, does anyone else still prefer her older music like me?! but there is one song I heard recently which I think is from her new album called, Call It What You Want, and I'm kind of obsessed with it. I'm not sure why, I just love it and I find myself replaying it all the time!
Niall Horan (All I Ask) - Out of all of the One Direction boys, I didn't think it would be Nialls solo music I'd be enjoying the most, for some reason. He's brought out a brilliant album though and the song All I Ask is getting played constantly on my phone at the moment. I just love it and I'm really tempted to get the full album!
Some months I really struggle when it comes to monthly favourites but in November there were just so many things I wanted to include, I didn't really have a choice but to split it into two! I really can't believe we're now in December. Where has this year gone?!

Have you seen any of the TV shows or films I mentioned?

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Friday, 1 December 2017

November Favourites - Benefit, Galaxy & IKEA...

This month I've decided to do what I did in September and post a normal monthly favourites and also one that's just all about tv and films. I had so much I wanted to feature this month but just couldn't possibly put it all in one post so I hope you enjoy reading them both, the second will be up on Monday!
Bloomtown Roll On Infused Oils - I have been loving Bloomtown Botanicals over the last few weeks. I mentioned their Christmas baubles in my womens gift guide, and inside the one I had was a Infused Oil in the scent Rose Garden. A few days before I got that I'd actually ordered one of these anyway as they did an offer where you got it for free and just paid postage, which I couldn't turn down really. The one I picked was The Grove, and luckily they're both very different scents. The Rose Garden one is a musk rose and white florals scent and The Grove is a blood orange and pink grapefruit scent. I love them both equally and as they are roll on they are so handy and are great to just be popped in your bag.
Rituals Shower Gel - A good few weeks ago now Rituals had a good deal on like the one I mentioned above, where you could get their Yogi Flow Shower Gel for free and just pay postage, which is amazing as this alone is usually £8.50 but I got it for about £2.99. Can you tell I like a bargain? I'd been wanting to try something from Rituals for so long so I had to get it. What I love about this is that it comes out as a gel but then when you rub it in it becomes a foam. A little bit goes a long way and it's a really decent sized bottle so I think it will last me quite a while. It has a gorgeous scent of Indian Rose and Sweet Almond Oil so it leaves me feeling fresh for hours and it's also really moisturising.
IKEA Peach Range - Ahhh peach scents are my favourite. I just love the sweet smell of peach candles so I got very lucky when I was last in IKEA. I actually thought I'd mentioned all of this stuff in a previous post but I can't find it anywhere so I must not have. Anyway, when I last went I went a bit peach mad as everything was so cheap, I couldn't help myself. I got a big candle which was £1.75, tealights which were £1.35 and also some pot pourri to replace the one we already had which was £1. IKEA is just the best. They had so many other scents to choose from too so if you're in need of some new candles, definitely keep them in mind.
Birchbox Brush Cleaner - I received my November Birchbox a few weeks ago now and so far I'm loving every single thing that was included. One thing I was really happy to see in the box was this Brush Cleaner, and it's just made life a little bit easier. I love cleaning my brushes anyway I just don't do it enough but now I have this, it's much quicker to do. All I have to do with this is add a little bit of soap, swirl the wet brush over it and rinse, and then leave to dry. It's really easy to hold aswell and I'm just so glad I finally have one of these!
Festive Galaxy Cake Bars - Cake bars are one of my favourite things anyway but festive edition?! even better. I've enjoyed the normal Galaxy Caramel ones for ages anyway but this year they've brought out a salted caramel version. There's not a huge difference but I really liked them anyway and I'll definitely be getting more while they're available. The cake, the chocolate and the caramel are just the best together. I think these were about £1 from Asda so definitely try and get some this year!
November has been one of my favourite months for a few years now and this one has been so nice. It started out a little stressful but now I'm feeling better than ever and I'm so ready for Christmas now!

Are you prepared for Christmas yet?

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Thursday, 30 November 2017

Sausage Cassoulet Recipe & Essential Cuisine Review*

Does anyone else absolutely love cooking in Autumn and Winter? I struggle a little through the warmer months as I never know what to make, but when the cold weather starts, I'm all about the casseroles, stews and slow cooker meals. Last week for the first time I decided to make a Sausage Cassoulet and it was the perfect warming meal we all need on a cold evening. So filling and so tasty. One of the ingredients I used was from Essential Cuisine, a brand who sell high quality stocks and soup bases to take your cooking from simple to spectacular in just a matter of minutes. These products apparently shave hours off chefs preparation time, so if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me! Keep reading to find out how I used one of the liquid stocks in this recipe.
Ingredients: to serve 2 people
6 cumberland sausages (I used Asda extra special ones which are the best ever)
4 slices of bacon
1/2 an onion finely diced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of baked beans
1 tin of butterbeans (drained)
250ml of beef stock
salt, pepper, garlic powder, mixed herbs, and you can also add a tiny bit of chilli powder if you like

Method:
1. First of all prepare your sausages, we grilled ours for about an hour and they were cooked perfectly, we also added the bacon for the last 15 minutes
2. While the sausages are cooking, for the sauce, start off by frying the diced onion
3. When the onion was soft, I added in chopped tomatoes, baked beans, butterbeans and gave it a good stir
4. I then added in my stock, I used 2 teaspoons of the Essential Cuisine beef stock with 250ml of boiling water but you can use normal beef stock cubes if you prefer
5. Next is the seasoning, I added in all of the above but it's completely up to you, and then I left to simmer for around 45 minutes
6. When the sausages and bacon were cooked, I chopped the bacon and added it in, and then I added in the sausages whole but you could chop those too if you prefer
7. After giving it all a good mix, it was ready to serve and we had ours with mashed potato but you could have it with just about anything
This meal was so easy to make, and was a great one to just leave to simmer and not really have to think about that much! It might not look very attractive but honestly it tasted delicious and I could have eaten it again the next day. It's one I know I'll be making a lot from now on. I loved adding in the stock from Essential Cuisine as it was actually a bit quicker than normal stock cubes. It didn't require much mixing at all and just added a lovely meaty flavour to the dish. What's great about these stocks is that aswell as using them as I did, you can also just squeeze in a little to any meals you're making for that instant hit of flavour. They are great to keep in your cupboard and just make life a little bit easier. If you would like to give these a go, they are £3.45 each and you can find out more about them on their website.

What's your go to winter meal?

*Products sent for the purpose of this post, I only work with brands relevant to me and my blog

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Wednesday, 29 November 2017

A Mini Weekend Away In London - Winter Wonderland, Christmas Shopping & Lots Of Food...

I'm currently sat writing this wrapped under a warm blanket, aching all over and feeling a little sad that our little trip away to London is already over. I hadn't spoken about us going back to London on my blog, in fact just a few weeks ago in this post I mentioned that we had no plans to go back for Christmas this year and we really didn't! That was until we knew George had to go one day for work and it required stopping over night, so we thought why not make a weekend out of it? It was all a bit last minute but so exciting. Just to be clear, I'm more than capable of being by myself at home, I just wasn't going to turn down an opportunity to go back to my favourite place! We travelled early Sunday morning so we had the full day and night to do what we wanted, then on Monday as George was working, I had a lot of the day to myself to shop and explore, and it was perfect. So if you want to know what we saw, what we did, and most importantly, what we ate, then keep reading!
Once we were checked in we headed straight to Piccadilly Circus so we could pop to Whole Foods. We can't have a trip to London and not make a visit. They stock Crosstown Doughnuts which are literally the best ever and we always get a few. This time we had the Chocolate Truffle one and a Glazed Vanilla one, both were dreamy. We then got on the tube to the Southbank which was a little odd actually as we usually stay right next to the London Eye, but we were in a different hotel this time. We had a lovely walk along the Southbank and there were so many festive stalls along it, they do such a good Christmas Market around this time of year and all of the food looked amazing. After that we headed for Winter Wonderland which was the main thing we wanted to do this trip.
We had planned on going last year but just didn't have time so it was a real priority this time. It was of course busy as you'd imagine but so worth going to. I think in the end we had walked around Hyde Park twice as it was just so big and there was so much to see, I was in so much pain with my feet afterwards, but I'd do it again tomorrow if I could. It's really expensive and most games and rides are at least £5 but you've got to have a go on a few haven't you? I actually won a cute gingerbread teddy from a hook an olaf game (doesn't that sound creepy?) which I'm sure will look nice somewhere in the flat once we decorate for Christmas. The main food we wanted to try, which we'd seen on Instagram a few days before was HALLOUMI FRIES. I'm just a bit addicted to cheese, especially halloumi so these were a must. I can't even explain how good they were. They were covered in a honey glaze, peppers, mustard, mint and something else too and everything about it was incredible. Everything about Winter Wonderland was great and I'd love to visit again next year. It was all so pretty, and there was still so much to see and do when we left so if you're planning a visit, prepare to spend a good few hours there! We then had a Domino's at the hotel, as they don't deliver to our flat at home and it's kind of tradition while we're in London to get one. I miss it already.
The next day I had a chilled few hours in the hotel getting ready while George headed to work, and then we met up about 11 at The Breakfast Club at Canary Wharf. I'd never been before but I'd heard good things and they really didn't disappoint. I went for the Banoffee Pancakes which had cream, chocolate sauce, toffee sauce, banana and maple syrup, and George had the Pancakes with Bacon and Maple Syrup. I think in the end I only had just over half as it was an absolute mountain and I seriously struggled but god it was good.
After that I then headed off by myself to do some Christmas shopping and I had such a chilled afternoon. I was thinking to myself that morning on the way to meet George how I had literally no anxious thoughts at all and how comfortable I felt, and it's such a huge difference to how I feel at home. Whenever I'm out here I'm always a little on edge and generally I feel some sort of anxiety every single time whereas there, nobody knows me, I can go wherever and feel comfortable and it was just incredible to have that feeling. Just walking around going wherever I liked, and feeling GOOD. I took myself to Borough Market first because again, a trip to London isn't complete without that. I finally picked up one of the nut brownies from Bread Ahead which I didn't get last time and instantly regretted! It was worth every penny. I also picked up a few other bits then went to Covent Garden. It is just the most beautiful sight at Christmas. Look at this silver reindeer! There are decorations everywhere and it made me feel so festive. I didn't get much from Covent Garden but it was still lovely, and I'd planned on getting a few things from Oxford Street anyway which was where I finally ended up.
I ended up meeting George on Oxford Street and we had the final few hours in London together which was really nice. I had a few vouchers to use which is always exciting so I headed to Boots to stock up on some makeup. I've just come to the end of my contour kit so I picked another one of those up, my current blusher is broken so that needed replacing and then I picked up my trusty Maybelline concealer. I then spotted this L'oreal Multi Masking Kit which I absolutely can't wait to use! I've been seeing these face masks everywhere but before I invest in a proper pot of one of them, I thought I'd give this a go and it was on offer which is a bonus. I then picked up a few Xmas presents and stocking bits but apart from that I didn't get much else, though that just means I have more leftover to spend now ;) After walking down the majority of Oxford Street and having a little browse in Selfridges we then decided to head for the train station. We didn't get the train home til about 8 so we were home quite late and so shattered, but it really was a lovely, little break.
I am so incredibly happy we got to go back because we really didn't plan on it, after already going two times this year, and I'd kind of come to terms with that! It might have only been short but it was sweet and for the first time I actually don't feel too sad about now being back, but more happy that we went. Of course as I said at the start I am a little sad and I'm sure as time goes on I'll miss it more and more, but right now I'm just so pleased we went and it really has made these last few months of the year! Also, I saw a few dogs and even got to stroke one at Winter Wonderland so you know, that kind of made it the trip of the year to be honest πŸ˜‚

If you've got to the end of this post, I hope you enjoyed it because I know it's very long and I've probably just rambled as I always do. I just love writing about our little trips away like this one. 

Have you ever been to London at Christmas? Are you planning on visiting Winter Wonderland?

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Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The BEST Christmas Films...

I'm back from another tiny little blogging break and I'm feeling all festive. I was away in London for the night so didn't get chance to post yesterday but it couldn't be helped and I'm so excited to get writing about our little trip. Anyway, aren't Christmas films just the best? I love snuggling up on the sofa with the duvet or a fluffy blanket, a cup of tea, and a festive film on the TV. I've done similar posts to this in the past but as Chrismas is well and truly on the way now, I wanted to do another and I have a few other films to add now. Let me know if you enjoy any of these aswell!
Elf - I really don't think there is a better Christmas film than Elf. It has been my favourite for so many years now, I've lost count. I remember looking forward to watching this each year when I was younger, and I'm still exactly the same now. Will Ferrell is amazing as Buddy the Elf and in my opinion it's probably the best film he's done, it's just hilarious and I laugh the same each time I watch it. It's fun to see his transition from the north pole to New York and working out how different life is, I think it's just such a nice story. I'll never get bored of it.
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Arthur Christmas - This film came out in 2011 but I only got round to watching it last year! I can't believe it took me so long, as it was a film I knew so many people loved. It's one of those films that now I've watched, I totally get the hype and I know it's going to be one I watch every single year. The story of santa missing out one child at Christmas and his son Arthur deciding to take it upon himself to deliver presents is brilliant and there's just something about it that's so heartwarming. It's a funny film but also little emotional, or it is to me anyway, I cry at most films! I don't think it matters what age you are, this film is just lovely.
Love Actually - Ahhh one of the best films ever! This film puts a huge smile on my face every single time I watch it. This has been one of my go to Christmas films for such a long time now, it's kind of tradition for it to be on ITV several times each year isn't it? I always end up watching it a good few times before the day and it always makes me warm and fuzzy inside. I love that each character has their own little story going on, the one with Emma Thompson and Alan Rickmans characters always makes me a little sad, but then the one with Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheons characters makes me so happy, the ending is perfect πŸ’›It's not Christmas without this film.
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Deck The Halls - I actually often forget about this film but whenever it's on the TV at Christmas, I like to watch it. I remember watching it a few times when I was younger, I'm not sure if we even went to the cinema to see it on Christmas Eve maybe, so it's always nice to watch it but it is one I forget about sometimes! When I saw it was on TV a few weeks ago though, I put it on straight away and enjoyed it so much. It's basically about two dads who compete with each other to have the best house at Christmas and the best decorations, and it has Danny Devito in it who is always funny. It's one of those films that really gets me excited for Christmas.
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Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause - This film always makes me think of Christmas Day. The Santa Clause films seem to be played most years on Christmas Day on BBC I think so it's kind of tradition to watch it while unwrapping presents or just afterwards. Last year we watched the third film and that's probably my favourite of them all, so I can't wait to watch it again this year. This is the film where Scott Calvin aka Santa has to try and hide that he's actually Santa and that he lives in the North Pole from his in laws. There is also Jack Frost who is wanting to take over the North Pole, so I definitely feel it's got a better story than the first two films. This is another one of those films that just makes me feel all fuzzy inside and I love sitting in my pj's watching this with a tasty breakfast.
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Nativity 1 & 2 - Lastly, the Nativity films had to be on my list! The first film with Martin Freeman will always be one that makes me laugh. He plays an under achieving teacher who doesn't get along with his new teaching assistant Mr Poppy (though the kids love him) and they basically have to do whatever they can to get one of his ex girlfriends back from America to help film the schools nativity, and he's also still in love with her. It's hiliarious in parts, the kids in the film are so talented and there is one in particular who just seems like a little star. The second film is just as good I think too. This time David Tennant replaces Martin Freeman as the class teacher and the story this time is that the class and Mr Poppy want to enter a singing competition and they kind of go and do it behind everyones backs and it causes a load of drama! Like the first one, it's very funny and I love each character. I'm still yet to watch the third film so I'll have to do that this year!
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So that's all the Christmas films I'm looking forward to watching again this year soon! I'm sure they'll be others too but these are my favourites. Do you like any of these too? What film always makes you think of Christmas?

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