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Friday, 31 May 2013

May Empties

May 2013 Empties
This is sort of becoming my staple last-day-of-the-month post and I always find myself looking forward to writing them as it's nice to see how much I've managed to clear out during the month! I know I say it every month, but 2013 really is going FAR too quickly, we're practically halfway through the year already! Anyway, that aside, here are the products I've used up in May, along with what I thought of them. If I've reviewed a product in full previously, its name should link you through to the review.

May 2013 Empties
The Body Shop Vineyard Peach Body Butter This smells SO good! I love peachy scents and this was just fresh and gorgeous. It was lovely and thick, too, so the pot lasted me a bit longer than other versions have, whilst leaving my legs lovely and soft and smelling of peaches.
Repurchase? Yes, when it's on offer as I refuse to spend £13 on this stuff, no matter how much my skin loves it.
Origins Make A Difference Rejuvenating Treatment Again, I'm sorry to have finished this; I've been using it at night and it's been doing a great job of keeping my skin hydrated, but not an oily mess by the time I wake up which is usually the case. I think I have another pot of this stashed away so all is not lost, but for now I'm trying to use up some of my other moisturisers.
Repurchase? Probably, at some point.
Cutex Nail Polish Remover Another fairly boring product, I seem to have gone through this really quickly although that's probably due to painting my nails every other day whilst I've been meant to be revising/writing essays.. I like Cutex nail polish removers and have already repurchased this, although a different kind.
Repurchase? Yes.
Simple Deep Cleansing Face Mask I've become a bit disillusioned with Simple recently; the ingredients of their products aren't really as good as they seem to want us to think, and I don't like being mislead. I'm glad to have finished this - I didn't find it did much/anything for my skin, and it contains paraffin and parabens, which I'm trying to cut out of my skincare products. This isn't a face mask I recommend!
Repurchase? No.
No 7. Revitalising Hand Saviour I really liked this for helping to keep my hands soft and smooth; as I mentioned in my review, though, I probably won't repurchase it as I wasn't keen on the scent and have read reviews of other, similar products which are meant to smell much nicer. I don't think this is an essential product but it's certainly been nice to use.
Repurchase? Probably not.
Burberry Body Perfume Sample I think this was a freebie from the Burberry Facebook page and I'm not gonna lie - it's really not my type of scent. It's something I'd associate with much more mature ladies and just isn't something I'd choose, I've had to make myself wear this to use it up and haven't enjoyed it.
Repurchase? No.

May 2013 Empties
Batiste Tropical Dry Shampoo Another staple which appears month after month, Batiste and I are firm friends. This scent is perfect for summer, too! Let's be honest, I'm never going to not repurchase this, I'd be lost without it.
Repurchase? Yes - in fact I stocked up while it was half price in Superdrug!
Naked Bodycare Smooth Silky Conditioner I wasn't a fan of the shampoo in this duo but I did like the conditioner; I did have to destroy the tube to get the last five or six uses out of it, though, because as I mentioned in my review it has a very thick consistency which made it difficult to squeeze out, especially towards the end of the tube. I've now switched to a different range from Naked but I'll probably switch back the conditioner as I think I prefer this one to the new one. We'll see. I'll be reviewing the new set soon either way!
Repurchase? I think so.
Gillette Satin Shave Gel This shows up most months, it's a staple in my routine really, especially now Summer is putting in occasional appearances and I've been getting my legs out and dazzling everyone with my milky glow!
Repurchase? Yes.
Christina Aguilera By Night Perfume Dear me, I've had this ages - I kind of got bored of it and stopped using it for a year or so, but recently I've been making an effort to switch my perfumes up a bit more, and this has actually got finished up quite quickly. I've gone off it since I bought it - it's still a nice scent but perhaps something I've grown out of somewhat in the three or four years I've had it...
Repurchase? Probably not.
Origins VitaZing Moisturiser I'm gutted to have finished this as I simply can't afford to replace it at the moment and it's such a lovely moisturiser for summer! I love Origins products and this is one of my favourites, giving hydration without making my skin oily and providing a lovely even base for foundation - I even use it as a base on its own on good skin days, and the shade matches my skintone remarkably well, which is something I've not found with any other tinted moisturiser.
Repurchase? Not at the moment, sadly.
Naked Bodycare Volume Bodybuilding Shampoo This is the new range I've switched to, after the Smooth & Silky shampoo left my hair quite greasy. I have to say this product works for me much better, and once again if you're struggling with which products to choose, get in touch with Naked, as I found their customer service really helpful.
Repurchase? Yes.
So, there you have my empties for the month - I seem to have cleared out another nice little bunch, and I'm definitely beginning to see a dent in the mass of products on my bathroom shelves! Have you tried any of these products? What did you think? Have you finished up anything this month?


Thursday, 30 May 2013

Focus On: Warehouse

I've finished my exams! This is exciting and scary in equal measure - all that stands between me and an MSc is my dissertation! Fingers crossed that all goes smoothly and hopefully I'll be on track to complete it with Distinction by the end of August - for now, let the job-hunting commence... If any of you are doing exams at the moment, I hope they're going well!
I was recently contacted regarding Warehouse's new #DashForTheSun campaign, which I think sums up the British attitude to the sun pretty well - "What's that? A ray of sunshine!? CLOTHES OFF!!!!!"
I also thought I'd pick out a few of my favourite pieces from Warehouse at the moment, which turned out to be much harder than I expected - if someone would like to buy me one of everything, that would be fab! Until then, though, here are the pieces I'm most coveting.
Warehouse S/S13 Wishlist
2. Denim Spot Dress, £45
7. Lena Sandal, £32

How gorgeous is this maxi dress!? I think it'd be perfect for a summer wedding with some blue strappy wedges for a bit of added height - always helpful when you're a shorty like me! I love the cherry blossom print on the scarf, and the cut-out detailing on the shirt is really unusual. I've recently ordered a new handbag off eBay but I'm being tempted by every other bag I see while I wait for it to ship from China, and this lovely leather number is no exception - big enough for all the crap I seem to cart around on a daily basis! I'm also in love with the sandals, the black and gold is a classic combination and would go with everything - I'm thinking denim cut-offs, skinny jeans and floral dresses. The colour of the lace trim vest is also beautiful, so summery and would complete my sandal/cut-offs outfit to perfection!
Which are your favourite pieces from my wishlist? What did you think of the #DashForTheSun campaign?

[Please note this post was sponsored by Spreaditfast; this does not affect my views in any way and as always, my opinions and choices are my own!]

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Using Up Leftovers #3: Chicken Curry

Chicken Curry Recipe
Apologies for being a bit quiet on the blog over the last couple of weeks; as I mentioned, I had several deadlines in the space of a week and soon after had my final exams of my Masters course. My last exam, Statistics, is tomorrow, and I'm fairly confident about that one so I thought I'd find the time to pop up a quick post with a recipe for chicken curry using leftovers from a roast dinner; obviously you could cook chicken specially if you so wished!
Chicken Curry Recipe Leftovers
Start by shredding around 200g cooked chicken, peeling and dicing a large onion, a yellow pepper, 6-8 mushrooms, and two medium carrots. Fry the onion in a large saucepan with 1 tbsp olive oil for a couple of minutes, then add the pepper and mushrooms and fry for another few minutes, before adding 1 tbsp medium curry powder, 300 ml chicken stock and 300ml milk.
Chicken Curry Leftovers Recipe
Add the carrots, then turn the heat down and simmer for around 15 minutes, before adding the shredded chicken and simmering for another 15 minutes or so, until the sauce is reduced. Serve over rice - this makes enough for four people, or three if one of them is my boyfriend... It's lovely the next day warmed up for your lunch, too.
Let me know if you give this a go, I'd love to hear how you get on! What are your favourite recipes for using up leftovers?


Thursday, 23 May 2013

At Home: Bedroom Makeover with Laura Ashley

Annie is hosting a competition for bloggers in conjunction with Laura Ashley; for more details you can check out her post here. Basically, we've been asked to choose a room within our home which we think is in need of refreshing, then have a browse through Laura Ashley's range and decide how to brighten it up for Spring. I chose the master bedroom of my house; except for our bed, all our furniture is second-hand and whilst I'm grateful for it, it's definitely seen better days! We struggle for storage and our bedroom is also currently home to a heap of things which I need to list on eBay when I get chance, don't judge! This is how it looks at the moment...
My Bedroom Currently
My bedroom currently

And these are the pieces I'd like to add to it!
Laura Ashley Bedroom Makeover

As you can see, I'm a fan of the Clifton Dove Grey range; I think it's really simple and pretty, and such a classic colour scheme that it could easily be updated with new accessories over the years. I wanted plenty of storage as my boyfriend and I are engaged in a constant battle over wardrobe space - honestly, I think he has more clothes than I do and our wardrobe is falling apart. This one is smaller, so we'd both have to trim down our hanging items a little, but that's probably for the best. Currently we have a plastic drawer tower for socks, but it's also looking a bit battered (half the drawers are cracked..) and doesn't really fit with the atmosphere of the room I'd like, so an extra chest-of-drawers would replace lost wardrobe space and allow me to get rid of that. The blanket box would be perfect for storing clean bedding, sleeping bags and spare pillows, as well as providing somewhere to sit that isn't the bed; it'd look lovely under our window.
Finally, I chose these pretty blue curtains as they're simple and would match any colour scheme, adding a pop of colour to our neutral walls in this rented house but also eventually they'd fit perfectly in a house of our own. Our current curtains came with the house and have definitely seen better days (someone didn't take them down to re-paint..)
Have you entered this competition? Leave me a link in the comments below if so, I'd love to see what you chose! Which is your favourite piece from my selection?


Monday, 20 May 2013

Focus On: Charm Nest

Last week, I received an email from the lovely Greta who runs Charm Nest, an online jewellery boutique offering good-quality fashion jewellery at amazing prices! After having a browse through the site, I couldn't resist ordering a couple of pieces with the discount code Greta had kindly sent me; I chose the gorgeous Bright Pink Statement Necklace (£6) and the super-cute Green Heart Ring (£2).
Charm Nest Purchases
I thought I'd put together a little list of my other favourite items, since I could have quite happily ordered pretty much everything, and Greta has very generously provided a 20% discount code for readers; simply use the code 'blogger20', valid until the end of this month!
Charm Nest Jewellery Wishlist
8. Pearl Bow Necklace, £3.50

Which is your favourite piece? Will you be ordering from Charm Nest? I'd love to hear what you choose if you decide to treat yourself! Remember the code 'blogger20' will get you 20% off your choices until the end of the month!


Thursday, 16 May 2013

NOTD: Liquorice Papaya

I was lucky enough to win this Barry M Confetti Nail Effects in 'Liquorice' from the lovely Ashly and couldn't wait to try it out! I was doubly excited since this collection isn't actually available in shops yet. 'Liquorice' features black and white matte bar glitter in a clear base, and I decided to try it over 'Papaya' from the Gelly Hi-Shine range as I haven't liked that shade on its own - I don't think it suits my skintone. With 'Liquorice' over the top, however, it's a different story. I love it!
Barry M Confetti Collection Liquorice
The photos below show two coats of 'Papaya' topped with one coat of 'Liquorice', which was easy to apply and didn't require any fishing about in the bottle for glitter. You could easily get a denser coverage with two or three coats, or a sparser finish by scraping some off on the edge of the bottle before painting, depending on the look you're after. I can't comment on drying time for this as I finished with Seche Vite for a shiny, smooth feel.
Swatches Barry M Confetti Collection Liquorice Nail Effects
The Barry M Confetti Collection features five shades, including 'Marshmallow', a pink and white mixture, 'Dolly Mixture', peach, yellow and blue bars, 'Bubblegum', which contains blue and white glitter, and 'Sour Apple', a yellow and blue/green combination. These will be priced at £3.99 each and available from Superdrug on June 5th and Boots June 12th.
Will you be picking up any of the Confetti Collection? Which ones do you like the sound of? I think I'll be picking up 'Sour Apple' to add to my collection!


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Recipe: Cheesecake Brownies

Cheesecake Brownies Recipe

This is one of those recipes that I made once, absolutely loved, and then for reasons unknown have never made since. I decided yesterday that it was high time I made it again for my boyfriend to sample, and thought I'd share the recipe on here, too, so that you lovely lot can give it a go if you wish. This is actually a Hummingbird Bakery recipe which I've adapted slightly; the original recipe includes a raspberry cream topping, too, but in my experience that goes off very quickly and I didn't think we'd eat all these brownies quickly enough, so I left it out. I made a couple of other alterations based on what ingredients I had, too, and they worked perfectly!
Cheesecake Brownies Recipe
Start by placing 200g dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (or in the microwave, for 30-second blasts) until melted. Meanwhile, beat together 200g unsalted butter and 250g caster sugar until light and fluffy. Add three eggs, one at a time, beating between additions.

Cheesecake Brownies Recipe
Gradually add 110g plain flour, again beating until smooth. Pour in the melted chocolate, mix until smooth, and transfer to a 33 x 23cm baking tin lined with baking parchment.

Cheesecake Brownies Recipe
Beat 400g cream cheese, 150g icing sugar and 1/2tsp vanilla extract together, slowly, until smooth and thick. Add two eggs, one at a time, mixing all the time. Turn the mixer up a little higher so that the mixture becomes smooth and fluffy, but be careful not to over-beat or the cheese will split. Pour the cheesecake mix over the brownie in the tin and smooth with a knife.

Cheesecake Brownies Recipe
Bake in the oven at 170°C for 30-40 minutes, or until the cheesecake is golden-brown around the edges but still pale in the centre (a bit of wobble in the middle is okay, too!) Allow to cool at room temperature for half an hour to an hour, then transfer to the fridge for a couple of hours to chill. Slice up into squares - I made 15 fairly large brownies. These will keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container.

Cheesecake Brownies Recipe

Have you tried cheesecake brownies before? Does it sound like a good combination to you? Let me know if you give this recipe a go - it might sound complicated but it isn't really, honestly!


Monday, 13 May 2013

Recently | Purchases & Magazine Freebies

I apologise for being a little bit quiet on here lately; as I mentioned, all my deadlines for my final semester of my Masters course have been in the last week, along with a presentation which counted towards my dissertation mark, so I've been pretty busy with essays, reports, case studies, reviews and presentations! I posted my last assignment today, which leaves me with two exams to revise for and my dissertation to complete - it feels so good! I treated myself to a few bits and pieces in town this afternoon, as well as stocking up on dry shampoo as Batiste is currently half price in Superdrug.
Batiste Half Price Superdrug May 2013
Superdrug 3 for 2 purchases apocalips confetti maybelline
I mentioned L'Oreal's Color Riche Top Coat Confetti in my Spending Ban Wish List and I've finally tracked it down for £4.99 in Superdrug. I also treated myself to one of the much-hyped Rimmel Apocalips in the shade 'Apocaliptic'; one of the main reasons I don't wear lipstick as much as I'd like to is that I hate having to re-apply it, so I'm hoping this will solve that problem for me. This was £5.99 at Superdrug. Since there's currently a 3 for 2 across all cosmetics, I also came away with this gorgeous Maybelline Forever Strong Super Stay 7 Days Gel Nail Color in the shade 635 'Surreal', a super-pretty cornflower blue which I think will look lovely with the L'Oreal Confetti!
Lush Each Peach Massage Bar
Finally, I popped into Lush to pick up one of their massage bars. After a lovely assistant very helpfully explained what each bar contained and what they were good for, I eventually settled on Each Peach, which has a gorgeous fresh, fruity scent and was £5.50.
Magazine Freebies UK June 2013
There have also been some fab magazine freebies this month - if you're in the UK, you've probably seen these already, but I thought I'd share them just in case! First up, ELLE comes with a mini Benefit They're Real mascara; I'm really looking forward to finally trying this and seeing if it lives up to the hype. It's a 4ml size which honestly is fine - I don't think I've ever finished a full-sized mascara in my life! InStyle have collaborated with Nails Inc to release three exclusive nail polish shades; I went for 'You're A Peach', which is a gorgeous peachy colour as the name suggests, as I didn't have anything similar. The other two shades are a bright red and a pretty pale pink. Marie Claire this month comes with a choice of three Avon cosmetics products; lipstick, brow pencil or gel eyeliner. I went for the lipstick because I have a great eyeliner at the moment and I'm happy with my brow products, too. Marie Claire also came with a sample sachet of Avon's BB Cream.

Have you picked up any of these awesome magazine freebies? What have you been buying lately? Have you been busy with coursework like me? If so, I hope it's all going well!


Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Three Ways: Festival Cool

Following on from my Summer Essentials post, I have decided to embrace the fact that Summer is well and truly on its way; we are now into May, ladies and gentlemen, when and how did that occur!? In association with Equestrian Clearance, who sell equipment for horses at reduced prices including a great range of footwear, I've put together three "ways to wear" on a festival theme.* Now I've never been a "horse" girl but I'm most certainly a welly girl and no matter how great the weather, wellies are one thing you can depend on needing at any festival in the UK!

Festival Outfit Tie Dye Floral
Zebra Print Shorts, £23, Next
Pink Tie Dye Crochet Crop Top, £19.99, New Look 
Whole Lotta Rosie Headband, £20, Crown & Glory
Dublin rubber boots, £27.99, Equestrian Clearance
Although I'm all for patterned wellies, they're often cheaply made and simply won't stand up to tough conditions. As an added bonus, a plain pair like these black Dublin boots will go with any outfit you throw at them, making them much more versatile. By the time they're covered in festival mud, you wouldn't know whether they're patterned or not anyway! These zebra print shorts tick the monochrome trend box perfectly, will fit in with any style, and are a lovely, flattering mid-thigh length. I love the tie-dye crop top, it's a beautiful colour and will offset the shorts beautifully. This gorgeous floral headband complements the crop top so nicely and adds a little something special to the outfit.

Festival Outfit Aztec Print
Aztec Insert Denim Shorts, £22.99, New Look
Sleeveless Cut-Out Back Sun Top, £24, Topshop
Pieces Gai Necklace, £18, ASOS
Gold Star Outline Bracelet, £3.50, Delilah Dust
Cut-off denim shorts are a festival staple, and this New Look pair have a gorgeous Aztec insert which is right on trend at the moment. Paired with a plain top like this gorgeous green cut-out back number, all the focus will be on the Aztec detailing on the shorts. A statement necklace rounds this look off nicely, making sure the plain top doesn't look too plain or low-key. I also added a pretty star bracelet which I think goes well with the Aztec print.

Festival Outfit Animal Print Spikes Studs
Animal Instinct Cheetah Print Dress, £39, Oh My Love
Jewelled Spike Bracelet, £10, ASOS
This is a slightly edgier outfit and probably my favourite out of the three; we all know about my love of animal print! I'd keep this simple and let the dress do the talking, just adding a studded bracelet and maybe a quirky necklace like these peace symbol with little multi-coloured glass beads and a rosary-style tassle.
Other festival essentials include a cross-body bag to keep all your valuables with you, plenty of suncream, and toilet paper - it'll be worth making some extra space, trust me!
What are your festival staples? Which is your favourite of the outfits I've put together? Are you off to any festivals this summer?

[*Sponsored post.]

Saturday, 4 May 2013

The Guest Post Round-Up

As I've mentioned, I recently organised a Guest Post Swap, and now all the posts have been published I thought I'd share a little list of who wrote what and where you can find it! I hope you'll enjoy having a read through.
Amy wrote a post for Liz on how to change up your make-up for Spring, focussing on lighter looks and taking inspiration from the Spring catwalks.

Sophie wrote a post over on Beauty Queen UK, on her top lipsticks choices for Spring, which ties in quite nicely with Amy's post to help you update your make-up look!
You might have seen Adam's post on my blog, on his thoughts on ladies with tattoos. There's quite a debate gone on in the comments, so feel free to add your views into the mix.
Jenni wrote a post on Stilettos & Tequila on how to dress for a wet Spring day - something I'm sure all my fellow Brits will find endlessly useful!
Beauty Queen UK wrote a post on whether neon is the new black for Adam, looking at fashion, beauty and home trends.
Liz wrote a post over on Beau Maquillage on managing blogging around school/work etc., with some really good tips that I'll definitely be taking on board!

I wrote a nail art tutorial for Jenni on a simple Sunflower Nail Art inspired by the fact that the weather is finally starting to get its backside into gear in England!
Somdyuti wrote a piece on how to layer up necklaces for this season's "more is more" trend - again, some great tips if you've been wanting to try layering but not sure how to make it work.
And last but not least, Liv shared her top ten nail polishes for Spring over on Sophie's blog, Flirty Dresses. As a massive nail polish lover, I'm experiencing some serious must-buy issues reading this!
I'm definitely going to organise another swap in the future so if you'd like to be involved, please let me know either in the comments, by email, or tweet me, and I'll pop your details on my list for when the time comes!
In the meantime, be sure to head over and check out these fab guest posts, you might find a new favourite blog whilst you're at it!


Thursday, 2 May 2013

Top Five: Summer Essentials

Summer Essential Products Top Offers
Batiste Dry Shampoo As the weather warms up, things can start to get a little sticky, and it's easy for hair to become limp and  lank. I find Batiste the perfect way to give my hair a new lease of life, freshening up my roots and adding a touch of volume. The tropical version has a Coconut & Exotic scent which is perfect for summer-time and smells just like holidays!
Mitchum Anti-Perspirant Deodorant Every woman needs a deodorant she can depend on, and this is mine; I know it won't let me down and I can wear what I like without fear of the dreaded sweat patches ruining my favourite top or dress!
Cutex Nail Polish Remover In the summer months, I like to keep my toenails (and fingernails) in tip-top shape as you never know when they'll be on show! This means re-painting them every week, for which a good nail polish remover is a must. I don't tend to stick to one brand, simply choosing from what's available at the time.
Garnier Ambre Solaire Sun Cream I burn really easily, so suncream is a must-have for me. I've used Garnier's Ambre Solaire since I was a child, so the smell really reminds me of summer picnics and playing in rivers, and as an added bonus I'm not allergic to it! Especially with children in the house, it's a good idea to have plenty of suncare on hand.
Impulse Body Spray Even with the best deodorant in the world, it's always best to be safe in my opinion - you never know when there's going to be a competitive game of frisbee or an impromptu trip to the swimming pool, so a quick spritz of body spray is perfect to cover up any less-than-desirable odours and keep you smelling sweet.

Recently, I was contacted* by the lovely people at mySupermarket, a fantastic free website that makes it really easy to compare prices on loads of health and beauty products. They have a range of helpful features, including Swap and Save, which suggests similar products at better prices, and Savvy Buys, products which are currently better than 30% less than their average price over the last year. You can also set up Price Alerts so that you receive an email notification when selected products are on offer - really handy if, like me, you like to stock up while things are cheap! As well as helping you track down health and beauty top offers, mySupermarket also offer exclusive cashback on selected items, meaning you get paid for using their money-saving service - that sounds like a win/win to me!
Do you like to compare prices and shop around for your essential beauty products? Have you used mySupermarket before? What are your Summer essentials?

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