31 January, 2013

Monthly Favourites: January

This month's favourites may as well be called 'winter survival kit' because these are the products that are keeping me going through this horrible weather!

jan faves

Nivea Irresistibly Smooth Body Lotion
I absolutely love this body lotion; it's brilliant on your legs & arms but I use it mostly on my neck. That might sound a bit strange but as soon as the weather turns cold I get such a dry neck & this stuff is perfect for keeping it moisturised.

Nivea Express Hydration Hand Lotion
This is the newest addition to the bunch, it's brilliant & a winter must have. See my review here :)

LetiBalm Lip Balm
This italian lip balm is one of my all time greatest finds! It costs about 6€ but it last aaages & is so moisturising on your lips - I stock up on this stuff every time I go to Italy.

Boots Traditional Skin Care Moisturising Cream
I like to use a really rich moisturiser on my face at night & this Boots Traditional Skin Care moisturiser is perfect. It only costs about £3 & comes in a huge tub + you don't need a lot to moisturise your whole face. Exactly what your poor face needs after a tough day out in the cold.

L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream
This is another holy grail beauty product. I'm already on to my third tube of this hand cream this winter, it's so good. It has a bit of a funny smell (it reminds me of talcum powder) & immediately after applying it your hands are a little greasy but after a minute or two the cream has sunk in & your hands feel beautiful & soft. I like to use this on my hands before I go to sleep.

Burt Bees Pomegranate Lip Balm 
Burt Bees sure do know how to make a good lip balm + this pomegranate one smells gorgeous. I love the stick as it makes application really quick & easy plus it's the perfect size for your handbag.

Optrex Refreshing Eye Drops
Finally, I don't know about you but turning the heating up in the house has made my eyes really dry & so these eye drops are a godsend. Thank you, Optrex!

Have you used any of these products? What are your winter 'must haves'? Let me know, I'd love to hear what keeps you looking good in this coooold weather :)


30 January, 2013

Wah Nails @ Topshop Oxford St

Last week I went to London for the day to see my lovely friend & whilst we were there we decided to treat ourselves to a manicure at Wah Nails. I'm sure most of you have heard of Wah already but they are based on the ground floor of Topshop on Oxford Street & specialise in nail art.

When you go in there's a wall of designs to choose from...


I decided to go for polka dot bows with tuxedos on my ring fingers & my friend had a different design on each nail :)

nails col

Altogether my manicure cost about £30 BUT what we weren't told is that by not having the same design on all of our nails there's an extra £5 charge. We were pretty annoyed with being lumped by the extra fiver but I was really happy with my nails & a week later they're still going strong!

We also had a mooch around Topshop - well it would be rude not to! & I bought a sweatshirt by ...And Finally & some Jamie skinnies (I tried on the Careys which I had previously been lusting after but they didn't look as nice as I was hoping + when I looked online today they'd disappeared from the website, how strange!) I was also absolutely loving the new Topshop cat bags, you can't beat a bit of feline features on your shopping bag :)


Have you had your nails done at Wah Nails? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below :)


29 January, 2013

Quick & Easy Brownie Recipe

So, after watching numerous episodes of The Great British Bake Off, & marvelling at the wonders that the bakers create, I decided that on Sunday afternoon I would go all domestic goddess & bake something of my own. I used the hight priestess of baking, Mary Berry's, recipe because if anyone knows how to make a good brownie, it's Bezzer!


To make this little beauty, & a few of his brothers & sisters, you will need:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 275g of softened butter (or margarine, I used marg')
  • 100g of self-raising flour
  • 375g caster sugar
  • 75g of cocoa powder
  • 100g of chocolate chips
  • a mixing bowl
  • electric whisk or a manual whisk & a strong arm
  • baking tin (I used 24cm x 20cm x 6cm)
Start by adding the butter, flour, caster sugar, eggs, cocoa powder, & chocolate chips to a mixing bowl. Mix really well until all the ingredients have turned in to a beautifully smooth brown mix.
Then spoon the mixture into a greased baking tin, gently pushing the mix into the corners of the tin, & put on the middle shelf of a preheated oven for about 45 mins (180ºC normal over, 160ºC fan oven).
Check after about 30 mins & if the top is looking crispy, loosely cover it with foil to stop it burning whilst it continues to cook. 
After about 45 mins poke the middle with a skewer or sharp knife, if it comes out clean it's cooked, if there's cake mix on the end give it a little bit longer. 
Once cooked, leave to cool, then cut into equal squares & serve!

When mine were finished they looked like this...


Yes, I may have tried one or two before they were fully cooled but that's just the excitement of baking for you :) 
Enjoy with a nice cup of tea: perfect!

tea & brownie


28 January, 2013

Monday Review: Nivea Express Hydration Hand Lotion

This Monday's review is the type of product which falls into my 'essentials' category when it comes to winter: hand cream. With the cold weather outside, the cosy temperatures inside & the hokey cokey that's played with gloves coming on & off throughout the day, your hands can become very needy. I, therefore, never leave the house from October until March without some good hand cream & this one is a little beaut: Nivea's Express Hydration Hand Lotion (100ml) £2.03 at Boots.


What Nivea say...
Nivea Express Hydration hand lotion provides fast absorbing long-lasting moisture leaving hands soft and fresh, without that sticky feeling. This ultra light formula with natural sea mineral hydrating complex absorbs almost instantly. With regular use, the improved formula with Hydra IQ supports the skin's own moisture supply keeping hands intensely moisturised even after frequent washing.

The first thing I noticed about this cream was the smell, it's a very soft fragrance but it's so nice. I'm also quite weary of liquid creams as I feel like they never seem to sink into your skin, however, as soon as I began to rub the lotion into my hands it was absorbed very quickly leaving no greasy or sticky residue. I don't agree that your hands stay moisturised even after you've washed them, I always have to reapply the cream after I've washed mine, but I may just have super dry hands - who knows?

Overall Rating...
I would give this hand cream 
Despite needing to reapply it after washing my hands - I'm yet to find a hand cream that doesn't need regular reapplication - it doesn't bother me at all. The smell is really lovely & it takes seconds for the cream to sink into your skin, perfect for when you're on the go & your hands are in need of a boost of hydration!

Have you tried this hand cream? What did you think? I find that all of Nivea's products seem to have a really nice smell to them & they aren't over-perfumed, definite winners in my book :)


25 January, 2013

Friday I'm in Love: Most Wanted #3

Other styles may come & go but I think the skinny jean is here to stay; long live the skinnies! I absolutely love my Topshop 'Leigh' skinnies (they go with everything), I love them so much that I've been considering buying another pair exactly the same, until I saw Leigh's new cheeky cousin Carey (£45); hello, lover!


For me, Topshop jeans have always been, & probably always will be, the best fitting jeans (for my body shape) that I have ever found & so, with this in mind, I am hungry to try a pair of 'Careys'.

Some people may think that £45 for a pair of jeans is a bit pricey, but if you look at the price as cost per wear they pay for themselves. Black skinnies will go with everything & are therefore, in my opinion, a wardrobe staple & worthwhile investment. I love the Carey's high rise design & cheeky ripped knees (nothing wrong with a bit of designer wear & tear in my book) & they come in black, bleached stonewash & classic denim mid-blue: poifect!

What are your thoughts on these jeans, and other Topshop jeans? Are you a fan of Moto denim? Let me know in the comments below :)


21 January, 2013

Monday Review: MUA Gel Liner

It's Monday again which can only mean one thing: another review! This week's is another MUA product: their Gel Eyeliner, £3.

Mon Review MUA gel liner

What MUA say...
They are intensely pigmented and super slick and come in four shades, from the classic black of ‘Underground’ to the beautifully bold blue of ‘Tribe’ and are completely smudge-proof once the product has dried. And the most exciting bit of the product is the unique brush applicator, which is cleverly hidden in the lid, which has been designed so you can create an array of long-lasting looks and styles [...].

MUA, were you talking about another product when writing the blurb for this? 'intensely pigmented'?! In the image above I included a swatch that I did on my arm, as you can see the line is messy & completely non-pigmented. When I tried this product along my lash line I couldn't - no matter how hard I tried - get a clean, straight, totally black line, & I'm no gel/liquid liner novice, having worn the stuff for the best part of 10 years. I also tried the liner along the waterline of my eye - having seen makeup tutorials suggesting that a gel liner on the waterline will last a lot longer, & give a much stronger colour, than a kohl pencil. Immediately the product started to float across my eye, leaving it red: very disappointing.

Overall rating...
I'd give this product 
It's hard to find any positives about this eyeliner. Yes, the brush is quirky in the way that it's hidden in the lid but the brush itself isn't great. 
Once again this is another MUA product that really doesn't deliver (see my review of their equally awful concealer pen here). It's such a shame because I've always found their eyeshadows, blushers & lipsticks to be brilliant, I've also been impressed with their new line of makeup brushes (review coming soon). For the money you pay for their products I'd always say it's worth taking the risk, however, this one just didn't pay off.

Have you tried MUA's gel eyeliner? What did you think? Have I just been landed with a bad batch? I'd love to hear your thoughts :)


18 January, 2013

Friday I'm in Love: Most Wanted #2

I'm a huuuge fan of sweatshirts, especially at this time of year; they're warm, cosy & a fun, casual way to liven up a winter outfit. This week's Friday lust list contender: ASOS's 101 Dalmatians Print Sweatshirt, £30.

dalmatian jumper

What's there not to love? It's cute & fun & right up my street :) I like that from a distance it's not really obvious what it is, looking a little bit like a geometric pattern, but ho no! it's dalmatians! I'm a big fan of the Topshop 'GEEK' sweatshirts (£29). I think they look so warm & over-sized & fabulous but I just wish they said something else on them, am I the only one?

What are your thoughts on sweatshirts, yay or nay? Let me know in the comments below :)


16 January, 2013

Published Writer?

I was recently lucky enough to be asked by Travel Mole magazine to write a piece for them. I don't know how far I can really say I'm "published" but it was really exciting to see my words (& face) in print & so I thought I'd share it with you guys :)

Screen shot 2013-01-12 at 18.36.54

If any of you didn't see me tweet the link to the article, and you'd like to read it, you can do here.

Have any of you ever had the chance to write something for a publication? or would you like to? Let me know in the comments below :)


14 January, 2013

Monday Review: Enrapture Amplify Jumbo Waver Unboxing

The first Monday Review of the year is a product that I received for Christmas, the Enrapture Amplify Jumbo Waver, £74.99 at Boots (during the Christmas period all electricals were half price so I decided to promptly add this to my Christmas list!)

wavers col

I'd read loads of reviews of the Enrapture Totem Styler & wasn't sure whether to ask for that or the Jumbo Waver, but I decided that seeing as I already have GHDs, curling tongs & hot rollers that can all curl my hair I don't have anything to "wave" it so OHAI Jumbo Waver!

What Enrapture say...
Amplify your hair and create a rock, beachy or mermaid look with big tousled ‘s’ waves. With superior titanium plates the jumbo waver gives even heat-distribution so you can add volumising texture to any hair length.

My thoughts...
When I first opened the box I thought the waver looked a bit terrifying! It's really big & when I was using it my wrist & hand started to ache a bit with the weight, it wasn't awful though & I think with a bit more practise it wouldn't be a problem. I was impressed with how quickly they heated up, however, I was a bit miffed that there was no real indication of how hot they get; there's a dial to turn the heat up or down, but I would prefer to know the actual heat as I know my hair can take around 210/220ºC with my GHDs whereas I've no idea how hot the max on these babies is.

I was impressed with how quick it was to do all my hair, no more time-consuming than curling it or using hot rollers, & the result looked really good; not too crimper-ish. After about 8 hours of using the wavers my hair still looks almost exactly the same, without having used any products such as hairspray or mousse.

Pic results...
Before & after


Overall result...
I'd give the Jumbo Wavers 
All in all I'm really impressed with the waver, it was easy to use & the result looked really pretty. I hate my hair looking too 'done' so this was nice: messy-ish waves without looking like I'd been dragged through a hedge backwards/not brushed my hair in days; boho chic at its best :) 
I do think they're a bit pricey when they're full priced, it's a lot of money for something that you may only use for nights out, but keep your peepers peeled for more half price discounts/promotions!

Have you used any products by Enrapture? What did you think?


13 January, 2013

Tag: You're It

Taaaaag! You all know how these go & last Sunday the lovely Danielle at misssunshinesparkle.blogspot.co.uk tagged me in the 'tag you're it' tag.


The rules are:
- Every tagged person has to tell 11 things about themselves 
- The person who has tagged you asked 11 questions, answer them
- Ask 11 questions for the 11 blogs you're going to tag
- Mention the blog that tagged you but don't tag back

11 things about me:
1. I sleep with my book/kindle & the latest copy of Elle next to me in my bed (obvs not if someone's stopping, but the other side needs filling when it's just me!)
2. I have a slight obsession with online shopping, it's soo addictive!
3. I love cats, my cat Maggie is a proper babe :)
4. I'm only 5ft 5 but have size 7 feet
5. I love violent films, a couple of my faves are True Romance & American Psycho
6. I love trashy tv, anything to do with the Kardashians, Made in Chelsea, anything on E! you know the score
7. I am currently working at a travel agents, which I love - researching incredible far off places all day isn't too shabby!
8. My favourite perfume, which I wear everyday, is Chanel 'Chance'
9. I'm a sucker for new beauty products, especially ones that won't break the bank, MUA I'm looking at you!
10. I love to travel & last year went to Italy 4 times, Dublin & Munich once, + a good handful of trips to London & other lovely places around Blighty
11. I love musicals & cannot wait to see the Les Miserables film when it comes out. I went to see the live show in London in the summer & it was incredible.

Danielle's questions for me:

If you had to pick one nail polish colour that you had to wear for the rest of your life what would you choose?
Probably Nails Inc 'Elizabeth Street', it's a really subtle pinky nude & looks good with everything.

Whats more important, a good hair day or a good makeup day?
Definitely a good makeup day. It does make me sad when my hair's not looking too great but I think makeup is more important to me.

What's your most embarrassing moment 
Umm... it's not exactly falling over in front of everyone embarrassing but it took me 3 attempts to pass my driving test which was a bit embarrassing.

What is your best feature?
I'd say probably my legs, they're the one part of me that has always been fairly skinny :)

If you had superpowers what would you choose?
I'd probably choose the ability to see things & remember them without having to keep looking/revising, you know like when Derren Brown taught someone to scan read books & they could remember everything? Like that :)

What's the 3 beauty items that you couldn't live without?
Foundation, mascara & liquid eyeliner.

What is your one wish for 2013?
To be back in the same country as my boyfriend, we've been living apart for the last 18 months & it's horrible!

What's at the top of your beauty wishlist?
There's quite a few things but probably at the top are a pair of Shu Uemura gold plated eyelash curlers.

What inspires you to blog?
I love having somewhere that I can share all the things that I love online. Interacting with other bloggers also inspires me, seeing them write about things that they're passionate about & just the general creativeness that other bloggers show, from their blog layout to their photography, some people do it all so well.

What is the most used app on your phone?
Probably facebook (shockingly) or whatsapp.

If you could place yourself in any reality TV show, which one would you choose?
Made in Chelsea without a doubt. I probably wouldn't be posh enough but I'd be up for a parrrdy :D

If you could treat yourself to anything in the world what would you buy? (money being no object)
A house/flat for me & the Ital :)

My 11 questions for others:
1. What's your favourite foundation?
2. What camera do you use to take the photos for your blog?
3. What do you spend the most money on: makeup, your hair, clothes, shoes, or accessories?
4. What's your favourite blog to read & why?
5. Where's your favourite place that you've ever visited on holiday & why?
6. Do you own a designer handbag?
7. Have you ever had a haircut disaster?
8. What's your favourite beauty product?
9. If you won the lottery what's the first thing you'd buy?
10. Who is your style idol & why?
11. What is your most important New Year's resolution?

The bloggers I tag are:

11 January, 2013

Friday I'm in Love: Most Wanted #1

A new year means new regular posts so welcome to my weekly (Friday) lust list, all the things that I've seen & been umm-ing and arr-ing about buying (we all do it :)) So to begin, welcome this little beauty, the Topshop Oxblood Fedora, £25.

fedora heart


I don't know if I'm really a "hat person" (I feel like I have a big head haha) but I think fedoras are such a stylish simple way to brighten up an outfit. What are your thoughts? Any of you currently rocking a cheeky fedora? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below :)


09 January, 2013

2013 Book Review - January: The Great Gatsby

A new year & a new book post, first up The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

gatsby collage

Many of you will have already read it, perhaps at school, perhaps for pleasure, but it's likely that you've come across it before (especially with the Leonardo DiCaprio/Baz Luhrmann film looming in the distance). For some reason I'd never got round to reading it before, but I'm so glad that I finally have. Not only is it fairly short, making it satisfyingly quick to read, it's also jammed full of beautifully written prose. The fact that it's quite short adds to this, I think, as it means that you get a full-fat meaty narrative; and the narrative itself is so addictive, after reading the first two chapters I couldn't put it down. At times it was a lot more unnerving than I thought it would be, I don't want to spoil any of the plot for those who haven't read it, but Gatsby wasn't at all like I'd imagined, I found reading about him occasionally quite uncomfortable. 
All that being said though, I thought it was an incredible book & if you haven't read it DO! 

Have you read Gatsby? What did you think? + if you haven't already, have a gander at the trailer for the upcoming film, I think it looks amaaaazing.


08 January, 2013

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Highlights of 2012

I've been in Italy since before New Year & although I'm sad to be back to reality in grey old Blighty, I'm so excited to get blogging again!

2012 was such an incredible year, not just for me but I think for everyone; it was the year that it was certainly cool to be British (although when has it not been?) The jubilee, the Olympics, the announcement of a royal baby, the list is endless!

Below are a few of my pictorial highlights from my year, let me know what your highlights of 2012 were in the comments below. + Does anyone have any resolutions that they're determined to stick to?

2012 2
L-R visiting the British Museum // Halloween // the Jubilee // Summer Ball // Graduation // fringe-y times // Summer in Pescara // the Ital's graduation // OOTD // NYE in Italy // London 2012 Olympics // Christmas // visiting Dublin // being in Munich for my birthday :)

Happy 2013, everyone!

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