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Sunday, 31 March 2013

March Empties

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Happy Easter! I hope you're all having a lovely day and haven't entered too much of a sugar coma. I can't believe it's the end of March already - we're a quarter of the way through the year! 2013 is flying by much faster than I would like, I wish it would slow down a little. I had a slow start to the month and didn't manage to finish up many products, but had a bit of a flood in the last week or so, so I did actually finish about as many products finished up this month as I did in January and February.

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Soap & Glory Clean On Me This was one of the products in the Best of All set I got just before Christmas, and I've gone through this bottle so fast I didn't get round to reviewing it in full. I've read so many rave reviews on this but I wasn't overly impressed; it smells nice but the ingredients aren't great and I think, for what it is, it's quite expensive. I'd use this again if it came in a set, but I don't think I'd seek it out myself.
Repurchase? Probably not.
Gillette Satin Care Radiant Apricot Shave Gel This featured in last month's Empties, it's one of life's essentials really. There's not much else to say, I get through about a can per month and tend to stock up when it's on offer - I recently found it in Bodycare for £1.99 so bought a few cans then.
Repurchase? Yes.
Tresemmé Keratin Smooth Shampoo I didn't feel like this shampoo really did anything for me above and beyond what I got from the conditioner and the Deep Treatment Masque; added to the fact that it contains SLS, which I'm trying to cut out, and it's probably not one I'll buy again. It did its job but it's not the best shampoo I've ever used, and I did need to shampoo twice for my hair to feel properly clean.
Repurchase? No.
Nail Polish Remover There's not an awful lot to say about this really, it was just a cheap bottle of nail polish remover from Bodycare a couple of years ago - although I paint my nails usually at least three or four times a week, I don't seem to go through remover very quickly! This was effective in removing nail polish and even got rid of glitter with a minute or two soaking.
Repurchase? Probably not, purely because I just buy whatever remover is available. I already had a spare bottle in the cupboard, so that'll keep me going a while!
Percy & Reed No Fuss Flawlessness Dry Conditioner I bought this aaages ago through sheer curiosity and hated it. I've eventually got it finished, but I don't hate it any less. First of all, it's not a "dry" conditioner like a dry shampoo; you don't need water, but it definitely comes out of the can wet. Secondly, the SMELL. Oh my God. Don't breathe near this! Thirdly, the mess; you'd expect this to be a pretty fuss-free product (given its name and all...) but I found it impossible to spray this on my hair without getting it on my skin/clothes/the walls, where it left weird white blobs. And finally, I think it's massively overpriced for what is, essentially, a leave-in conditioner. I've got a Schwarzkopf one that's just as good (and far less messy, and much nicer-smelling) for a third of the price.
Repurchase? Not on your nelly.

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Tresemmé Keratin Smooth Deep Treatment Masque It's not the first time this product has featured in my Empties and it won't be the last, because I love it! I alternate between this and my Macadamia Masque but honestly I don't think there's much between them, despite the massive price difference. I stocked up on this when Boots had a Tresemmé offer on a while back, so I have another pot to go at.
Repurchase? Already have.
Soap & Glory Sugar Crush Body Scrub Another Soap & Glory product I never got round to reviewing. I'm on the fence about this one; sometimes I love the fresh, citrussy scent, and sometimes it's just too much for me. That aside, it's a nice scrubby scrub and did what it said on the tub. I'd just like to reiterate what they say about not using on damaged or freshly shaved skin - my God it stings!
Repurchase? Probably not; there are other S&G scrubs I prefer.
The Body Shop Almond Body Butter I absolutely love this, it's so thick and moisturising, I have to wait a few minutes for it to soak into my skin but it smells like marzipan so I don't care! I got this in the 70% sale in January so it cost me about £4, it's more than I can justify spending at full price but on those kinds of reductions, I just can't say no!
Repurchase? Yes, but not full price. I'll probably buy a few next time there's a good sale, now I know how much I love it.
No7 Time Resisting Day Cream This was part of a gift set I received a couple of Christmases back, and has largely been ignored due to the anti-aging aspect; I associate anti-aging products with thick, heavy creams - not what I want for my oily skin. Nonetheless, I gave this a go, mostly to get rid of it to be honest, and I've found it makes quite a good base for make-up, didn't break me out and hasn't made my skin any oilier. All in all, this is a nice moisturiser and something I'd look at buying a full-size of in a few years. One thing I HATED was the pot it was in - it seems so un-hygienic and it's damned near impossible to get all the product out because it's a ridiculous shape!
Repurchase? Maybe - if the full-size comes in a better container.
Liz Earle Exfoliator I'm not really sure where this sample-sized product came from but I used it to plug the gap between running out of my previous exfoliator, and purchasing a new one. First things first, the smell; it's an extremely strong botanical smell and whilst I know some bloggers love the scent of Liz Earle products, it really puts me off. It's not unpleasant as such, just overwhelming. That aside, this is quite a nice exfoliator, a nice thick cream with reasonable scrubby-ness.
Repurchase? No, because of the smell and it being so far out of my budget.
Aapri Exfoliating Scrub Cream I'm totally gutted to have finished this as I can't find it in my local Poundland anymore and I really did love it - it's so hard to find exfoliators that are "scrubby" enough for my dull, oily skin, but this was perfect. That said, I'm taking it as an opportunity to try out some more chemical rather than physical exfoliators, as scrubbing away at your skin can be horrible aging. 2013 is going so fast that I think that's something I ought to be worrying about!
Repurchase? Sadly not as I can't find it anymore.

What products have you used up this month? Have you tried any of these? What were your thoughts?


Saturday, 30 March 2013

Ten Day You Challenge #4: 7 Wants

Today is the fourth installment in the Ten Day You Challenge; you can check out my Ten Secrets, Nine Loves, and Eight Fears if you enjoy this post! I'll be sharing Seven Wants today.

1. Clear skin. I've struggled with my skin since I was about thirteen and although it's not bad now compared to how it used to be, I still suffer from blackheads and extremely oily skin, and frequent outbreaks of spots. Since I started blogging, I've learnt a lot about skincare and the best ways to look after my skin, and it is improving all the time, so I'm hopeful I can achieve this want soon!
2. Someone to pay off my student loans would be nice. I'm not so worried about the loan for my Undergraduate degree, since repayments on that are based on income (meaning I'm not currently paying anything!) but my MSc required me to take out a bank loan which I have to start paying back two months after I complete the course, regardless of my employment status and financial circumstances - I'm starting to feel the pressure on that one!
3. Sort of related to #2, but I'd like to have more money. Partially because I like to buy nice things, but also because it can be a struggle at times, as a young couple renting our first home together, to make ends meet. I'd like to be saving up for a deposit for a mortgage but that simply isn't possible at the moment.
4. I want to be fitter than I am. I used to run quite a lot, but with one thing and another (my dissertation; breaking my foot...) I got out of the habit and I'm only now, almost a year later, making the effort to pick it back up. I'm literally starting from scratch again with my fitness and it's quite disheartening, I was never the quickest runner but I used to be able to run five or six miles at my own pace, and now one is a struggle.

5. I want to know what I want to do with my life! I know vaguely that I want to do something in Neuroscience, but it's such a vast area that that's not really a lot to go on - and knowing where I ultimately want to be would be really helpful in terms of knowing where to look for jobs, placements, volunteering opportunities and work experience...
6. Children. I touched on this in my 8 Fears, but I really, really want children one day. I plan to wait for a few years as I'd like to be able to give them a stable home, so I'd like to have a good income and/or a reasonable amount of savings. I'd like two or maybe three kids, but I'll need about thirty if I use all the names my boyfriend and I have agreed we'd like!
7. A better camera. This is one of those things I plan to invest in once I'm working full-time, but at the moment I'm using a cheap Fujifilm point-and-shoot which I bought off eBay. I know there's only so much a camera can do for your photography skills but I do feel like my photos would be a lot better with more settings to play with and a better lens.

So there you have my Seven Wants. I was a bit unsure what route to go down with this, and loved Jess's idea of using it as an excuse for a Beauty Wishlist, so I hope you've enjoyed my mixture!


Friday, 29 March 2013

NOTD: Easter Eggs & Easter Bunnies

Since it's almost Easter, I thought I'd have a go at a spot of nail art. I started off with two coats of Barry M 'Strawberry Ice Cream', then used an Allura Nail Stamping Kit with the plate P32 to stamp "Easter Egg" designs onto all nails except my thumbs. I think P32 is meant to be pretty French tip designs, but it worked well for stripey Easter eggs too! This is the first time I've used a stamping kit but I got the hang of it quite quickly, and it wasn't too difficult to do on my right hand as well. I started on my ring finger and you can see I didn't scrape enough polish off the plate, but I quickly corrected that and I'm pretty happy with how the others turned out. I stamped using Essie's 'Tour de Finance', and topped off with a coat of Models Own 3-in-1 topcoat.
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I then drew the Easter Bunnies onto my thumbs, freehand. I started by drawing a circle in white using my Models Own Nail Art Pen, then added two stripes for ears using the striping brush. After this had dried, I added in eyes, nose and mouth with my black Nail Art Pen, and finished off with a swipe of pink down the middle of each ear, using my pink Nail Art Pen. Again, I sealed it with a coat of Models Own topcoat.
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What do you think? Will you be attempting any Easter nail art? Have you ever used a stamping kit? I think I'll pop up a little review of the three kits I picked up, and a quick tutorial on how to use them, so keep your eyes open for that!


Thursday, 28 March 2013

Focus On: Lashes of London Neo-Nature Collection

Lashes of London's new Neo-Nature collection features a gorgeous mix of floral pattern and pastel colours,  making me wish Spring would get its act together so I can stop wrapping up in six layers and start wearing pretty dresses again. You can win an item of your choice from the collection on the Lashes of London Facebook page, so I thought I'd put together a post of my favourite pieces from the collection!
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Vella Chiffon Mini Dress, £55, available in Blue, Mint, and Pink.

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Lazarus Floral Trapeze Dress, £40
Austique Lace Blazer, £70

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[Click image to be taken to the competition page]
Have you entered Lashes of London's competition? Which is your favourite piece from the Neo-Nature collection?


Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Wish List: Spending Ban Edition

My spending ban is almost over now (April 1st, I can shop again!!), and I promised I'd share updates and haven't. I'm actually pretty pleased with how I've got on - I caved and bought a sausage sandwich on the way to Uni one day last week, and I did buy Marie Claire for the free Neal's Yard hand cream. In my defence on that one, I resisted buying it on the 28th February because I'd convinced myself it was March 1st, so I could have had it legitimately and missed out because I'm a fool! Oh, and there were the three nail stamping kits I bought in Poundland after seeing Terri post about them... Otherwise, I've been good, and resisted buying a fair few bits and pieces. My proudest moment was definitely going to Superdrug for an exfoliator and buying only the exfoliator! Here are a few of the things I've been lusting after! First up, beauty products:

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1. Tonymoly Egg Pore 3 Set, around £18. I can't remember where I first came across this, but having Googled around and read a few reviews, it sounds perfect for clearing out and shrinking the massive, congested pores around my nose and giving a smooth base for makeup. Not that I need any more primers...
2. Sleek Blush in 'Mirrored Pink', £4.49. I spotted this on Amy's blog and it's a beautiful shade. I need more blushers like I need a hole in the head, but this is just so gorgeous! Check out Amy's swatches and you'll see what I mean, it's beautiful.
3. Urban Decay Naked Flushed Palette, £20. I don't actually own a bronzer, but I really don't need any more blushers or highlighters. Nonetheless, this is a beautiful palette and I love the idea of having all three products in one go; perfect for travelling!
4. L'Oreal Color Riche Nail Top Coat Confetti, £4.99. I've seen this on so many blogs and I love the effect it gives! I have so many glittery top coats, but this is a little bit different since it's matte. Diamond Lurex has also caught my eye, so I expect a couple of these will be making their way home with me at some point...

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1. New Look Blue Animal Print Jacquard Skater Dress, £29.99. I have plenty of dresses, but I love the print of this and can't wait for Spring to finally get its act together so I can wear pretty dresses and even, maybe, God forbid, bare legs!
2. Topshop Branch Floral Tea Dress, £46. I think this is over-priced for what it is, as Topshop's items often are, but it is really pretty and I do love me a good tea dress. Green is one of my favourite colours to wear and I'd love to invest in this for the summer!
What have you been lusting after lately?


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Ten Day You Challenge #3: 8 Fears

Like Jess, I wasn't sure whether this is meant to be things I'm scared of in everyday life, or fears for the future, so I went with a bit of a mix of both. Have a peek at my Ten Secrets and Nine Loves posts, if you enjoy getting to know me a little better!

1. I have a really weird thing about the texture of food. I can't stand slimy, lumpy, or squishy things. Custard, mousse, and jelly all creep me out; I also can't stand the skin you get on milk, it gives me shivers thinking about it. Blergh!
2. I sometimes get really claustrophobic; I actually don't mind small spaces at all, and love caving, but places like train stations and trains can really freak me out, especially if I'm tired or stressed anyway. It depends a lot on my state of mind, because I've never had a problem at concerts even when I'm in the front row at McFly.
3. I'm absolutely terrified of losing my mind; it sounds silly, but I can't imagine not having control over myself or not being who I am. It probably has a lot to do with having studied Psychology for five years, but I definitely come out as an introvert on the test of would you rather be alone and sane, or with lots of people but lose your mind? I'd rather have my mental faculties and be on my own, any day!
4. I have this weird fear that I'm not going to be able to have children, which would tear me apart. For years, I said I'd never have kids, and all of a sudden something changed and I really, really can't wait to be a mummy. The fact that my boyfriend has two gorgeous daughters doesn't help my broodiness, and the thought of being told I can't have children makes me feel ill. I don't know how I'd cope!
5. I have a problem with balloons, mostly the fear of them bursting. I have no idea where this came from, because I was fine with them as a child, and I have no problem with sudden loud noises, but I get really edgy when people are throwing balloons around etc. This becomes a problem at parties, especially because drunk people seem to think it's hilarious to throw balloons at people who are scared of them...

6. I also developed a fear of clowns some time between childhood and now - never used to have a problem with them but now I find them really creepy. I'll be great at children's parties! I went to the circus a couple of years ago with my housemates and they had clowns having custard fights... It was like my worst nightmare, I hid behind my hoodie!
7. On a similar theme, I actually find Moomins quite creepy. I'm not sure why.
8. I've struggled to come up with a last fear, but realised I have a weird thing about losing my belongings. I'm constantly feeling my pocket to check my phone and keys are still there, I check in my bag repeatedly to make sure my purse is where I left it. It's not necessarily a bad thing because I've never lost a phone, purse, or my keys, but I'm a little obsessive about it..

What are you scared of? Any tips for overcoming trivial fears like custard?!


Monday, 25 March 2013

NOTD: Party Girl

Today's nails are quite a simple pairing of a nude polish with a multi-coloured glitter top coat, but I'm really enjoying it for a little change. This is two coats of Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine 'Lychee', with one coat of Technic 'Party Girl' dabbed over the top - I did struggle to get a reasonable amount of glitter onto my nails but it's not too much fuss to dab rather than paint and that seemed to work well. I got 'Party Girl' in a Technic set for Christmas so I'm not sure if it's available to purchase on its own, but it's just a typical clear base with small hex glitter particles in blue, green, silver, and red. This has lasted two full days so far without a single chip, which is really quite impressive by my standards, especially when I've been at my mum's, playing with Tyler. I like this polish all the more for its name, since Party Girl is a McFly song ;D
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Do you own any of the new Gelly Hi-Shine shades? Do you like using a glitter top coat to add a bit of sparkle?


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Using Up Leftovers #1: Casserole

Following on from my Tips for Roast Dinners post, I thought I'd share a few of the ways I like to use up my leftovers, starting off with a lovely, warming casserole. This would work with most meats, I tend to use it with pork. It's basically as simple as dicing your leftover meat, throwing it in a casserole dish with some vegetables, and covering the whole lot in stock before simmering in the oven for an hour an a half. We like to have it with some bread to mop up the tasty juice, too.
Pork Casserole Ingredients Leftovers
Here, I've used leftovers from a roast pork shoulder joint, along with pearl barley and red lentils. Chunky chopped vegetables include carrots, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, and butternut squash, and I've also thrown in a red onion for good measure. I've covered it all with about a litre of hot vegetable stock, a pinch of chili powder, and some black pepper, then popped in the oven at 180°C for 90 minutes; it's an idea to check on your casserole halfway through, to make sure you don't need to top your stock up and to give things a bit of a stir.
Ta-dah! My 2-litre casserole dish makes enough for four, or two twice - sometimes we have it for lunch the next day, or sometimes I use my hand-blender to whizz up half with a bit more stock into a tasty soup. Leftover leftovers ftw!
Pork Casserole from Leftovers

How do you like to use up your leftovers? Are you a fan of casserole?


Saturday, 23 March 2013

Ten Day You Challenge #2: 9 Loves

This is the second part of the Ten Day You Challenge; check out part one, Ten Secrets!
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1. McFly. No secret to anyone, I absolutely love them.
2. Neuroscience. Well you'd hope so, given my choice of Masters subject, but I find every aspect of the brain fascinating. I'm not gonna lie, I also like the reaction I get when random people on trains ask what I study!
3. Books. I've always loved reading, and even though I've got a Kindle now, you still can't beat a proper book in my opinion!
4. Hills. I love walking and the outdoors, and growing up with the Cumbrian countryside on my doorstep, I was always going to love hills!
5. My family. I've got a lot closer to both my mum and my brother as I've got older, and get on really well with them both. I'm not so close to my dad but I still love him!
6. Words. I love words, I love reading, writing and talking, and I really really love big words. It's part of the reason I love Neuroscience so much; I get to use words like 'oligodendrocyte' and 'neuropsychopharmacology' on a daily basis!
7. Hedgehogs. They are SO CUTE. I really want a pet hedgehog, Becky from MilkBubbleTea has one named Pickle and he's adorable!
8. Tyler. I love my puppy, he's so beautiful and so cuddy :)
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9. Rob. My lovely boyfriend. It's hard to say how much he means to me but I love him for always being there when I need a cuddle, and for bringing me chocolate at appropriate times of the month without me even having to ask!
What are you loving at the moment? I hope you're enjoying this challenge on my blog!


Friday, 22 March 2013

Ten Day You Challenge #1: 10 Secrets

I spotted this little blog challenge over on Jess's blog, Lovely Jubbly, and thought I'd give it a go as a way of sharing a bit more about myself, since my 25 Facts post was quite popular and this is the sort of post I love to read on other blogs! If you'd like to complete the challenge, help yourself to the photo and leave me a link!

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1. I have a bit of a habit of self-sabotage; leaving things to the last minute, not revising for exams, putting off taking CVs in after seeing jobs I know I'd love. I'm not sure why I do it, but I'm working hard to overcome it.
2. I didn't have my first boyfriend til the age of 16, after my Mum had all but given up on me, I think. She spent quite a few years trying to set me up with a range of my brother's older friends, but I just wasn't interested in having a boyfriend for the sake of it, and was embarrassed by the whole thing (as was my brother. And his friends.)
3. I have a bit of a thing for Gordon Ramsay. I love him!

4. When I was at Primary School, I was massively in love with a boy in my year. One day in PE, we were playing rounders and I missed a throw to the bowler, so he told me to throw it to him next time as he was closer. The next time I caught the ball, I threw it straight to him... And bounced it off the back of his head because he wasn't even looking at me! My teacher told my mum because my aim was (and is!) so bad, I couldn't have done it if I'd tried, and my mum still mentions it - to be fair, it was hilarious!
5. I have been known to eat whole packets of Jaffa Cakes in one sitting - that's packets, plural, not just one...
6. I'm really flexible and I can put my legs behind my head. It runs in my family, my brother can do it too, and it's actually really annoying if I get cramp in my calves or thighs, because it's almost impossible to stretch my muscles far enough to stretch them out!
7. I never used to take the nail polish off my toes - I literally used to just paint over it with a really thick coat, until it was thick enough that it just sort of chipped off of its own accord. That's really gross!
8. I am absolutely, completely terrified of childbirth. I'm fine watching it, hearing about it, fine with other people doing it, but when I have children I'll be having C sections. I'm not sure if it's to do with the fact my mum was in labour with me for three days before having an emergency C section or what, but the thought of giving birth makes me so anxious. Not happening.
9. Although my dream is to work in Neuroscience, I'd be equally happy to be a stay-at-home mum and housewife. I know it's not cool and my friends tell me I'm anti-feminist, but I just love cooking, baking, cleaning, and children.
10. My blog is a secret! I've not told anyone I know in "real life" about it - not even my mum or my boyfriend. I'm not really sure why, I think I'm just protective of it!

If you've already completed this challenge, or plan to, let me know so I can come and have a read! Do you have any deep dark secrets?


Thursday, 21 March 2013

Get Dressed For Less: Interview Outfit Under £50

As a Masters student whose decision to return to full-time study was swayed in no small part by the prospect of another year with a Student Discount card (I kid you not!), the thought of graduating scares me. I can't imagine having to go about my everyday life without asking in almost every shop, "Do you do student discount?" (whilst smugly thinking, I know you do, give me my 10% off!). All is not lost; discount codes are available to the non-student population, and although they can sometimes be a bit harder to track down, I've recently discovered a website which makes it easy. NetVoucherCodes gathers together what seems like thousands of codes, all ready for you to browse through and see what you can save. To make it even easier, you can search by category, for example "Fashion & Footwear", or you can search for a specific shop if you've seen something you like and want to save!
I was challenged to put together an outfit for under £50 - it sounds difficult but with NetVoucherCodes, it becomes a breeze! For example, I can use the code 8130 to get 25% off everything at LaRedoute. Since I'm looking at graduating and applying for real, grown-up jobs, I decided to try to put together an interview outfit.

Interview Outfit 50
Black Knit Dress, La Redoute, £39 £29.25
Innocence Grey Sequin Cardigan, New Look (sale), £24.99 £10
Monochrome Patent Detail Court Shoes, New Look (sale), £22.99 £11
Okay, so I allowed myself to go 25p over-budget for the sake of those shoes, but the fact that they tick the monochrome trend box so perfectly, not to mention being the ideal finishing touch to my interview outfit, makes me think that's okay. The fact that I've saved over £35 in putting this together, makes it doubly so in my book!
Do you like to use voucher codes when you shop online? Have you found any good discount codes for your favourite stores?


Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Tips for a Successful Roast Dinner

I've just recently started cooking roast dinners by myself; I've been helping my mum with the family Sunday Roast (rarely on a Sunday!) since I was young, and occasionally did a roast dinner with my housemates whilst at Uni, but I've never been responsible for the whole whack before. It's actually really easy as long as you get your preparation right, so I thought I'd share a few tips to keep everything running smoothly.
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  1. Weigh your meat and check roasting and resting times. Often, this information will be on the packaging if you buy from a supermarket, or there are handy online calculators which will help you work things out.
  2. PLAN. Decide what time you want your meal to be ready, and work out how long everything will take to cook. I mean EVERYTHING - meat, potatoes, veg, Yorkshire puddings, gravy, everything. Write it down. Then you can work out, backwards, what time you need to get things cooking. For example, to serve at 6pm, you might put your meat in at 3.30pm and take it out at 5.30 to rest for half an hour. Your potatoes and tins for Yorkshires might go into the oven as your meat comes out, your carrots would go on about 5.45 as your Yorkshires went into the oven, and your broccoli would go on about 5.55, at which point you make your gravy and carve your meat. Write down a schedule of what time everything needs to happen, and it's surprisingly easy to have everything ready at the same time!
  3. Be realistic. If you only have two shelves in your oven, you won't be able to roast two trays of vegetables plus your meat plus your Yorkshires. Take into account resting times, as this can give you a handy half-hour of oven space - I use this time for my Yorkshire puddings!
  4. Pop your plates in the bottom of the oven for ten minutes. The last thing you want is for your hard work to have gone cold before you can even serve it because you're putting it onto cold plates.
  5. Prepare all your vegetables, so that they're ready to just throw in the steamer or boiling water as their time comes. This means peeling carrots and parsnips, chopping broccoli and cabbage, and making sure it's all thoroughly rinsed. You can also cut down roasting times by par-boiling first; I get my potatoes roasted in about half an hour by boiling them for five minutes beforehand, this way they're cooked through and crispy in less time.
  6. The trick to Yorkshire puddings is to get your oil really hot. I use a silicon muffin tray for mine, pour about 5mm of olive oil into each hole, and heat in the oven for a full 15 minutes before pouring in my batter. Pour the batter in and return to the oven as quickly as you can - the batter should fizz and spit as you pour. After that, keep the oven door SHUT or you risk them sinking.
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Have you ever cooked a roast dinner by yourself? Is it something you'd like to try? Let me know if you have any questions, I'll try to help if I can!


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Easy Healthy Lunch

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This was my lunch yesterday; I absolutely adore salad and find it so easy to eat healthily in the summer when I can eat salad ALL THE TIME. It's so quick and easy to make, super-duper cheap, and ideal for popping in a Tupperwear box to take to work or Uni as well. Yesterday I had two slices of honey roasted ham, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, beetroot, lettuce, orange pepper, feta cheese cubes, lettuce, and a hard-boiled egg. I also added a bit of dressing made from lemon juice, olive oil and wholegrain mustard. I like to mix things up with leftover chicken or turkey, spinach and watercress instead of lettuce, various types of cheese, carrot, coriander, couscous or pasta, apple... There are so many options and it's so much nicer to have something fresh and delicious like this, than a soggy tasteless sandwich which you just know is packed with fat, sugar and salt. You can literally prepare this in the time it takes to boil an egg (about ten minutes starting with cold water, if you're unsure!).
Anyone who claims they don't have time to eat healthily, or they can't afford it - SALAD. This costs about £1.40, compared to £3+ for a pre-made sandwich, you could make a whole week's worth of salad lunches for the cost of two days' sandwiches!
Do you love salad? What are your favourite things to include? Do you take lunch to work, or buy it there?


Monday, 18 March 2013

NOTD: Gelly Gradient

This is not my first attempt at gradient nails, but it is my first attempt that's looked anything like how I wanted them to! It's harder than it looks but I think I've just about got the hang of it now. I started with one coat of Barry M's Gelly Hi-Shine 'Blueberry', which I love on its own or with glitter (man, I miss how long my nails were then!). I then used a makeup sponge, painted half-and-half with 'Blueberry' and 'Blackberry' and the excess dabbed off on some paper, to sponge a gradient onto each nail. You need to wiggle the sponge around a bit to get the best gradient effect, I find. This is definitely one of those things that takes a few goes to get it right. It's also one of those things that will make an unholy mess of your cuticles (see the first photo!), which no amount of dabbing with cotton buds will fix. But it's pretty! I think the finished effect is worth the effort.
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What do you think? Have you tried gradient nails? Do you have any tips to share? What would be your ideal pairing? I've tried (with less success!) yellow-orange-red, and a pale pink-hot pink gradient, but there are loads more I can't wait to try now I've got the technique almost down!


Sunday, 17 March 2013

Review: B. Refined Exfoliating Cleanser

Having finished my backup tube of Aapri Exfoliating Scrub Cream, I popped into Superdrug to pick up a replacement, and managed to leave without breaking my spending ban, which I was pretty proud of! I've not heard much about new skincare brand B.; I read a review of their Micellar Water on Amy's blog, but that's it, so I was intrigued to have a look at the stand and see if anything took my fancy. I really like how their range is split up based on age groups; I'm in Skin Phase 1, which is aimed at 20-30-year-olds and is meant to "help enhance skin's youthful appearance and protect against first signs of aging." There's a handy Diagnostic Tool on their website to help you choose the right Skin Phase for you, if you're not sure.
I picked up the B. Refined Exfoliating Cleanser, which was £5.49 for 125ml, a really good price... if it works! Having done a bit more reading since I purchased this product, I really like B.'s ethos, and find them appealing as a company. I'll definitely be interested to try some more of their products, which also include a make-up range I really like the look of. "We’re here to give every woman the knowledge and tools to feel her most beautiful every day. Our skincare and makeup is specially formulated to really work and is designed to be easy to use and understand. It’s our vision to be part of what makes you and your life beautiful. Live life beautifully."

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I love the packaging of this product, which is sleek and white, with a flip cap which is easy to use with wet hands. This product claims to, "Gently polish the skin surface to reveal a smooth, bright complexion. Ideal for normal to oily skin. B. Refined is a creamy dual-action exfoliator that helps combat dull skin. Deep clean action - Salicylic Acid gently removes impurities and unblocks pores. Smooth skin - Microbeads buff away old skin cells and help refine the skin's surface. Dermatalogically approved. Massage gently into damp skin and then rinse with warm water. For best results, use B. Refined twice weekly before your favourite B. Day Cream."
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This is a white cream with a very fine grainy texture; you can't really see in this photo, which should give you an idea of how fine we're talking! Despite this, my skin does look smooth and glowy after using, so I have to conclude that it works. Using it on dry skin gives a slightly scrubbier feeling, which I do occasionally just because I like the feeling; I do find myself using it most days, rather than the recommended twice a week, but I do have very oily skin which gets dull quite quickly. The product has a nice scent, it's not heavily fragranced but just a gentle, skincare-type smell which is pleasant when using. Overall, I enjoy using this Exfoliator and can see myself buying it again, as well as trying some other products from the range!
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B. Refined Exfoliating Cleanser is available exclusively from Superdrug, priced at £5.49 for 125ml, along with the rest of the B. Skincare range.
Have you tried any of B.'s products? Will you be keeping an eye out for them now?


Saturday, 16 March 2013

Review: Montagne Jeunesse Blemish Mud Masque

I'm still working through a lovely bunch of face masks which Montagne Jeunesse very kindly sent me to review quite a while back now - today, I'm sharing my thoughts on their Blemish Mud Masque.
This masque comes packaged in the typical Montagne Jeunesse sachet, with lovely images of the product in use which, sadly, I always find are a little misleading! According to the back of the sachet, this masque will help to, "Enliven your skin and combat unsightly blemishes with Aloe Vera and Willow Blemish Mud. Our special blend of Aloe Vera, Willow, Rosemary and Witch Hazel naturally targets your problem areas for a clear and clean complexion."

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This Masque is a lovely thick cream, which feels cooling and refreshing on the skin and spreads out nicely. I applied this right up into my hairline as I've been getting a few nasty little spots there recently - don't worry, I had a shower afterwards! I have to say, this is one of my favourite Montagne Jeunesse masques in terms of consistency and application.
I wasn't so keen on the scent; I can't quite place it and I wouldn't say it was unpleasant, but not as lovely as some of their masques smell. As the masque dried, I found my face becoming quite tight and itchy, but as soon as I applied warm water to rinse it off, this was absolutely fine. My skin was left feeling soft and clean and I did notice a reduction in the number of blemishes I had over the next couple of days, so I do feel that it lived up to its claims. It's not a miracle worker, but then what is? In terms of blemish-clearing products, you could definitely do worse, though.
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Like all of Montagne Jeunesse's products, the Blemish Mud Mask is BUAV-approved, suitable for vegetarians, and uses natural ingredients wherever possible so you can be sure you're putting the best possible ingredients onto your skin.
Montagne Jeunesse's Blemish Mud Masque is priced at £1.09 for a single-treatment sachet, and is available from Boots, Asda, and other large retailers.
Are you a fan of mud masques? Will you be trying this one?

(This product was sent to me in return for an honest review. As always, I have given my own thoughts and opinions.)

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Novica Win | Orchid Necklace

You might remember me mentioning in my recent wins post that I was lucky enough to win a $50 Novica voucher from Lauren; after umming and aahing over the site for literally days, I finally chose this beautiful necklace, which was shipped to me all the way from Thailand, in a gorgeous patterned drawstring bag and complete with a little card telling me about who made it. You can read more about Danai, the artist, on Novica's site - he uses actual flowers in his work, they're gorgeous, and fascinating to read about, so do have a look!
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Thank you to Lauren and Novica for this gorgeous prize; it's the perfect piece for pairing with a plain top or dress to add a little something special, as I don't own anything else like it. I love it!


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Review | Tresemmé Keratin Smooth Shampoo & Conditioner

My review of Tresemmé's Keratin Smooth Deep Treatment Masque is one of my most popular posts of all time, so I thought it was about time I got up a review for the Shampoo & Conditioner from the Keratin Smooth range! I've been using this duo for a couple of months now and have got on pretty well with them; presented in the standard Tresemmé plastic bottles with snap-cap dispensers, these are easy to use with wet hands and make getting a decent amount of product out fairly easy.
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L-R in bottom photo: Shampoo & Conditioner
"Want hair that’s smoother, straighter and easier to style? Use Tresemme Keratin Smooth Infusing Shampoo, specifically formulated to leave your hair gorgeously sleek and manageable."
The shampoo is a pearlescent, white colour with no strong scent, which lathers well in the hair. I don't find that one use is enough to leave my hair feeling clean, though, so I tend to shampoo twice each time I wash my hair. I don't mind this except that it means I get through shampoo a lot faster than I do conditioner. That aside, I have to say I'm not massively impressed with this shampoo; I don't feel it makes any difference to my hair above what the Conditioner and Masque are doing for me. In addition, the shampoo contains SLS, which I'm trying to cut out at the moment to help my eczema.
"Tresemme Keratin Smooth Restoring salon-quality conditioner nourishes each strand to leave hair smooth, shiny and manageable."
The conditioner is another story - a thick, white product, again with no real scent, this spreads really easily through the hair. I tend to apply to the bottom third of my hair, then run my hands through the middle third, avoiding the roots. I leave this on for a couple of minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Unlike the shampoo, I do feel like this adds to the Masque, leaving my hair soft and smooth after every wash and maintaining the work done by the Masque, which I use once a week.

Overall, the conditioner is a product I'd consider repurchasing in future, although the shampoo didn't wow me, as well as containing SLS, so I'd probably pair the conditioner with a different shampoo. Neither of the products compares to my love for the Deep Treatment Masque, however, which I'm still using religiously once a week. Maybe I'd have noticed more of a difference from the shampoo and conditioner if I'd not already been using the Masque, but for me they're not essential - just a nice extra.
Tresemmé Keratin Smooth shampoo and conditioner retail at £4.99 each for 500ml, and are available from a range of retailers - Boots and Superdrug often have good offers on them, so they're definitely worth checking out!
Have you tried the Keratin Smooth range from Tresemmé? Do you like to use matching shampoo or conditioner, or do you prefer to mix and match different ranges? The Heat Protecting Shine Spray is next on my list of products from the range to try!!


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

NOTD: Jade Stone & Aqua Violet

I have quite a few Models Own nail polishes which I've never used; I decided this had to change, and ended up pairing two coats of Jade Stone with an accent nail of Aqua Violet over the top on my middle fingers. I find Models Own polishes can be a bit hit and miss in terms of formula but these were both fab, Jade Stone could have been a one-coater if I'd been more careful, and neither had any problems with streaking or dragging. Aqua Violet looks lovely over Jade Stone and gives a lovely blue/green flash, with a dusky sort of lilac in direct light - it's hard to describe, but it's pretty!
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What do you think? Do you like Models Own polishes? I'm super excited about the new Fruit Pastels collection, a range of gorgeous pastel shades with fruity scents - they sound amazing!!

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