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Thursday, 31 October 2013

October Empties

October Empties Beauty Blog
Happy Halloween! I can barely believe it's time for my October Empties already - I know it's a cliché, but the year is almost over! I'm sorry things have been a bit quiet on the blog over the last few days - as regular readers will know I've started my new job and whilst it's only part-time, I've been working some hideous shifts starting at 6am so it's taking a little bit of adjusting to. Hopefully, heading into November, things will become a little more regular. On that note, here are the things I've finished up this month; I'm pretty proud of myself, it has to be said; I've made a considerable dent in my stash, although I have also had a little skincare splurge on Asos so I'm probably no better off in terms of space.. Oh well!
October Empties 3
Aapri Exfoliating Facial Scrub Cream This is a lovely thick, scrubby exfoliator which you can really feel working - which I love. However, I'm starting to edge away from such harsh exfoliators in favour of gentler options and chemical as opposed to physical exfoliators, and have only been using this once or twice a week as opposed to every day or two, like I was previously. I do still like it, though, and will probably repurchase if I see it in the shops again.
Repurchase? Probably.
Arora Pink Grapefruit Body Butter I really liked the fresh, fruity scent of this body butter and it was perfect for moisturising my legs after a shower to stop them getting dry and scaly - yum! It's also a super bargain at Superdrug for under £3.
Repurchase? Maybe - I've switched back to my beloved Naked Coco de Mer body butter for now as I feel it's richer and more moisturising, which is just what I need for the cold weather.
Mitchum Powder Fresh Anti-Perspirant Another staple for me, this is the best deodorant I've ever used and I wouldn't be without it! I've not tried the Powder Fresh version before (I've always stuck to unscented products so as not to irritate the eczema under my arms, but now that's under control I'm being a bit more adventurous!) but did enjoy using it for a change, so I'll probably alternate between this and the original.
Repurchase? Already have.
Superdrug Tea Tree Pore Strips Again, I really like these and think they do a great job of helping to clear out all the congestion that can build up in my pores, whilst smelling pleasingly of tea tree - lovely! These are often on offers such as 2 for £4 so they can work out as a pretty good bargain, too.
Repurchase? Probably, although I've got some T-Zone ones to try first.
Superdrug Cotton Wool Pads These aren't very interesting, really; I use them for nail polish and eye make-up remover, they do the job, they're a good price, there's not much more to say.
Repurchase? Most likely, although I do just tend to buy whatever. I think I have some generic brand ones from Bodycare to use next.
October Empties 2
Sally Hansen Acetone Free Nail Polish Remover I wasn't massively enamoured with this nail polish remover; it did the job but wasn't anything special and didn't feel like it was doing much for my nails, despite its claims of vitamins and chamomile.
Repurchase? Probably not, as I don't tend to stay loyal to nail polish remover unless it's incredible.
Soft Touch Naked Starflower Body Wash I still adore this body wash, and this must be about my sixth bottle - it smells gorgeous and doesn't dry my skin out or irritate my eczema. I love it! It's also fab as bubble bath which the kids love, as it produces tonnes of bubbles which again, smell beautiful.
Repurchase? Already have.
Naked Volume Shampoo My favourite Naked shampoo, this smells amazing and doesn't contain SLS making it eczema-friendly. My hair does seem to get greasy a little quicker using these shampoos than those which contain SLS, but that's a side-effect I'm willing to take for the itch-free - and I can always combat it with liberal usage of Batiste!
Repurchase? Yes, already have!
Tresemmé Keratin Smooth Conditioner I found this lurking, two-thirds used, at the back of a shelf, and decided it was time to finish it up. Whilst I do like it and did find it conditioned my hair well, I won't be switching from my Naked conditioner permanently for a couple of reasons, namely the silicons in the Tresemmé - since switching to this, I've noticed a huge increase in the number of spots on my chest, back and shoulders, which I did noticed reduced when I first switched to Naked. You have to remember that hair products affect your skin, too, and so I won't be repurchasing this.
Repurchase? No.
Batiste Tropical Dry Shampoo It wouldn't be an Empties post without my trusty Batiste! There's very little to say on this, really; I love this scent and always stock up when it's on offer.
Repurchase? Already have!
October Empties
Alpha H Absolute Eye Complex I really enjoyed using this eye gel, which didn't irritate my sensitive skin and felt as though it was leaving my delicate eye area well-hydrated. It's quite pricey so unfortunately repurchasing isn't on the cards at the moment, but I'd definitely consider it in the future!
Repurchase? Maybe in the future.
Avon Super Extend Eye Accents Mascara I think this is the first mascara I've ever actually finished as opposed to it drying out and becoming unusable! I really liked this Avon offering, it added just the right amount of length and volume to my lashes for everyday wear. I'm not a fan of really over-the-top lashes but for me, this is perfect for an everyday look.
Repurchase? Maybe, but I have quite a few mascaras in my stash, so not for a while!
17 Photo Flawless Primer I don't think I was too keen on this when I reviewed it but I have to admit it's grown on me over the last couple of months whilst I've been making an effort to use it up; it doesn't help keep my skin matte, which is what I really want from a primer, but it does create a lovely smooth base for foundation and help my make-up last longer, which is definitely a plus.
Repurchase? Probably not, I'd rather try new primers in search of my Holy Grail!
Witch Blemish Stick This is pretty much a staple in my evening skincare routine, I feel like it helps any blemishes to heal faster, although it can sting a little especially if used near the eyes.
Repurchase? Already have!
Origins White Tea Moisturiser I received this as a gift; it's not something I'd have chosen for myself and to be honest, not something I think is particularly suited to my skin-type. I have oily skin, and I feel like this is aimed at more mature, drier skin-types. I've been using it of an evening after my cleanser and any blemish treatments and serums. It does hydrate the skin well, and it smells beautiful, but for me I think it's just a little too heavy, and it leaves my skin feeling quite greasy and dull by the morning. It's not a bad product, it just isn't suited to my skin.
Repurchase? Not any time soon; maybe in a few years when my skin is more mature and more in need of this type of product.
L'Oreal Studio Secrets Skin Mattifying Primer This was the first primer I ever bought and at first, I wasn't impressed; it didn't really help control shine or mattify my skin at all, which was what I wanted from it (and what it claimed to do!) However, in the last third or so of the bottle, I've found that using slightly more product helps with that, and while it's still not perfect, it does give a really lovely base for foundation and does a great job of hiding my pores, so it's definitely gone up in my estimations!
Repurchase? Unsure - I'll say maybe, because I did like it, but it doesn't completely give me what I want from a primer which is shine control.
So, they're my October Empties! What have you finished up this month? Have you tried any of these products? Are you celebrating Halloween?

Remember to check out this month's Featured Advertiser, the wonderful LaylaD Beauty, for gorgeous natural skincare and cosmetics!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

NOTD: Halloween Nail Art

With Halloween just around the corner, and today being Halloween Fancy Dress at work for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought it was the perfect time to share my Halloween nail art for this year! This was actually super easy to do, although I should have waited a bit longer for my base colours to dry, as the nail art pens did snag the purple a little..
I started with OPI Nail Envy as a base coat, then alternated OPI's 'Gargantuan Green Grape Matte', which took three coats, and 17 Lasting Fix Nail Polish in 'Woo Me', which was okay in two. I wish I'd used a slightly brighter purple but oh well - you live and learn! Then, I used my Barry M Nail Art Pen in Black to draw in the cobwebs, by first adding three or four straight lines for the main "spindles" and then filling in the strands in between with slightly curved lines. I gave the design a few minutes to dry before finishing off with JACAVA London's UV Inhibiting Top Coat* for a glossy shine, which sadly meant to matte effect of the OPI polish was lost. I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out, although I'll admit my right hand is not this neat!
Spider Web Nail Art
Halloween Spider Web Nail Art
Cobweb Nail Art NOTD
What do you think? Will you be doing any nail art this Halloween? What's your favourite type of nail art?

Remember to check out my Featured Advertiser this month, the wonderful LaylaD Beauty, for gorgeous natural skincare and cosmetics!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Focus On: Tucci Clothing

I was recently contacted about Tucci Clothing*, who stock some of the most popular names in mens' and women's fashion, ranging from Barbour to Firetrap, and from Ted Baker to Ugg; they also have some pretty good sales meaning you'd be hard-pressed not to grab a bargain! I've put together a little wishlist of some of my favourites which you can see below:
Tucci Clothing Wishlist
1. Melissa Incense Wing Cream & Black Glitter Court Shoes, £90
2. Ted Baker Madigan Drape Front Blue Coat, £299
3. Toms Novelty Pink Tamin Knitted Espadrilles, now £24
4. Ted Baker Izzie Oil Painting Floral Black Dress, £139
5. Ted Baker Dega Black Floral Etching Dress, now £84
6. Ted Baker Eysis Coral Pink Shoulder Detail Top, now £42
7. Guess Clerra Retro Black Satchel, £145
[Broken links removed, apologies for any inconvenience caused.]
I love the glittery wing detail on the Melissa court shoes, it's super pretty and girly without being too over-the-top. The bright blue of the Madigan coat is idea for dull, drizzly days which need cheering up a little; I'd pair it with an equally bright red top, skinny jeans and bright green ballet pumps for a lovely, simple outfit. I've never been a great lover of Toms (I'm convinced they'd make my feet look even bigger) but I have to admit, I do love the Aztec-esque pattern on this pair and at just £24, I'm sorely tempted. The floral print of the Izzie dress is just gorgeous and the dress would be a real eye-catcher. The Dega dress is equally as pretty and very smart; the ideal office dress, or I'd even wear it for an interview. I really like the shoulder detail on the Eysis top, which would easily dress up or down, and the coral colour is stunning. Finally, I couldn't resist the little leopard-print insert on the Clerra Satchel, which looks big enough for all my essentials and has a shoulder strap as well as handles - a must in my bags as I have to have my hands free!

[*Please note this is a sponsored post.]
This month's Featured Blogger is the beautiful Sophie Jane.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Review: Nivea Daily Essentials Regenerating Night Cream

Nivea Daily Essentials Regenerating Night Cream Review
I picked up Nivea's Regenerating Night Cream for Normal & Combination skin as the most budget-friendly option available in Superdrug, which was sort-of suitable for my skin-type (mega-oily). I've been using it for around three weeks now and wanted to give my verdict!
Nivea Daily Essentials Regenerating Night Cream Packaging
The product comes with outer packaging consisting of white cardboard which gives all the product information. The packaging claims, "Nivea Daily Essentials Regenerating Night Cream enriched with Vitamin E, Lotus Extract and Hydra IQ: Provides intense moisture. Supports the skin's regenerating process during the night with its caring formula containing Provitamin B5. The formula with Vitamin E and Lotus Extract supports your skin's moisture balance. See and feel beautiful skin; the skin is intensively moisturised and regenerated, looking refreshed and feeling soft in the morning." Hydra IQ is claimed to "Support your natural moisturisation via the skin's own water channels, promoting water flow between skin cells", which I'll admit sounds good but I'm not sure, practically, how you'd know..
Review Nivea Daily Essentials Regenerating Night Cream
Contained within the cardboard outer packaging is a deep blue glass jar with a plastic screw-cap, which is foil-sealed for hygiene purposes - like! The jar is lovely and heavy, making the product feel more expensive than it really is, although obviously it has its drawbacks where travelling is concerned. I'm disappointed, however, that the jar itself just has the name of the product and doesn't give you any other product information like ingredients or usage instructions, meaning once you've disposed of the cardboard you don't have any of that information.
Nivea Daily Essentials Regenerating Night Cream
The cream is a lovely thick, white texture which feels really rich and moisturising on the skin, taking a couple of minutes to sink in fully. A little bit goes a long way, I've barely even scratched the surface of my jar and can see it easily lasting eight or nine months. I've been following the application instructions, massaging it in small circles each evening after cleansing; although my skin is left moisturised and I haven't suffered any dry patches or tightness since using this, I don't feel that my skin looks refreshed in the morning - actually, it looks extremely oily, even within a couple of hours. Granted, my skin is oily as opposed to normal-combination, which is the skin-type this product is recommended for, but even so I have to admit I was a little disappointed.
Nivea Regenerating Night Cream Ingredients
[Ingredients: Aqua, Glycerin, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, 
Triisostearin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Isopropyl Palmitate, Glyceryl Glucoside, 
Hydrogenated Coco-glycerides, Methylpropanediol, C12-15 Alykyl Benzoate, 
Synthetic Beeswax, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate,
Nelumbium Speciosum Flower Extract, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Carbomer, 
Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Trisodium EDTA, 
Benzoic Acid, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Linalool, Limonene, 
Geraniol, Benzyl Alcohol, Citronellol, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, 
BHT, Parfum.]
The ingredients are on the whole pretty good as far as I'm concerned, although I'm a bit miffed at the "synthetic beeswax" - where does that come from, synthetic bees!? Aside from that and the inclusion of Methylparaben (a preservative), there's lots of good stuff - moisturisers like glycerin and shea butter, and quite a few natural extracts, making it skin-friendly.
In all, Nivea Daily Essentials Regenerating Night Cream isn't ideal for my skin type, which in fairness to the product is definitely "oily" as opposed to "Normal to combination" - otherwise, this is a decent product especially for the price point, leaving my skin well-moisturised and with really nice packaging. The Regenerating Night Cream is available from Superdrug, at £3.00 (normally £3.99) for 50ml, and Boots, priced at £4.35. I won't be repurchasing as I'd prefer to try a different product which might suit me better, but for the target audience I think this is a lovely little product and would definitely say it's worth a try!
Do you like Nivea's products? What's your favourite night cream? Do you have any recommendations for super-oily skin?

Remember to check out this month's Featured Advertiser, the wonderful LaylaD Beauty, for gorgeous natural skincare and cosmetics!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Recipe: Carrot Cake

Recipe for Carrot Cake
My boyfriend came home on Monday with a craving for Carrot Cake. So, on Tuesday, I decided I'd make Carrot Cake - for the first time ever! I tweeted asking if anyone had a recipe and the lovely Polly sent me a link to her favourite recipe, which I mostly followed. This is my slightly tweaked version; I added extra cinnamon and less salt, and used my own recipe for cream cheese frosting (although I'm sure Polly's is lovely!)
You'll need:
150g Plain flour
225g Light brown muscovado sugar
180ml Oil
2 Large eggs
1tsp Baking powder
1tsp Bicarbonate of soda
½tsp Salt
2tsp Cinnamon
100g Sultanas
300g Grated carrot (approx. 3 medium carrots)
Carrot Cake Recipe 1
Preheat your oven to 180°C and grease a deep 7" cake tin. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and salt into a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Carrot Cake Recipe 2
Slowly beat the oil into the sugar and eggs until combined; it'll look a little greasy at this point, like in the second photo above - don't worry, the flour absorbs that! Gradually add in the dry ingredients, mixing until smooth and well incorporated.
Carrot Cake Recipe 3
Then, fold in the sultanas and carrot. Transfer to the prepared cake tin, and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean - mine actually took an hour... Leave to cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
50g Unsalted butter, at room temperature
300g Icing Sugar
125g Full-fat cream cheese, cold.
Beat the butter until soft, then add the icing sugar and beat until combined. Add the cream cheese and beat until light and fluffy - be careful not to over-beat, though, or the cheese will split and the frosting will become runny. Once the cake is completely cool, spread the frosting over it and lightly dust with cinnamon.
Carrot Cake Recipe
Carrot Cake Recipe Slice
This is a lovely carrot cake, really moist and flavourful, and the cream cheese frosting offsets it beautifully; it's perfect for afternoon tea with a nice hot cuppa! If you have a go at this recipe, I'd love to see how you get on!
Do you like carrot cake? Do you stick to recipes religiously, or tweak them according to what you have in?

Remember to check out this month's Featured Advertiser, the wonderful LaylaD Beauty, for gorgeous natural skincare and cosmetics!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Top Five Autumn Lip Colours

Top Five Autumn Lip Colours
As the seasons change, so too do make-up preferences; following on from my Top Five Autumn Nail Polishes a couple of weeks ago, I decided to put together my Top Five Autumn Lip Colours! I've tried to include a mix of products so there's something for everyone.
Autumn Lip Colour Swatches
(Left - Right): 2True Colour Drench Lip Gloss shade 10; Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm 
Stain 'Honey'; Clinique Lipstick 'Wow Violet'; Topshop Lip Marker 'Berry'; ELF Lipstick 'Voodoo'
Top Five Autumn Lip Colours Lip Swatches
(Top-bottom in lip swatches above):
ELF Lipstick in 'Voodoo' This is a lovely creamy lipstick which is comfortable to wear and nicely offsets a neutral or smokey eye for that deeper lip look which is very much an A/W trend. This is the only ELF lipstick I own but I like it and I'd definitely buy more from them!
Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in 'Honey' I think this is a perfect colour year-round, but I've included it as it's always nice to have a downplayed option, when you don't want to look overdone; this is the perfect "no make-up" lip shade for me, as well as being really lovely to wear. Again, I don't have any other Revlon balm stains but I'd like to get some!
Topshop Lip Marker in 'Berry' I don't know how long I've had this but I love the colour - the name sums it up perfectly, it's just a beautiful deep, rich berry shade which is perfect for the cooler weather. Being a marker, it stains the lips slightly which makes it super low-maintenance, too - perfect! You can see this has become quite hard to apply in its old age, and sadly goes on very patchy, so I don't wear it as much as I'd like anymore - time to replace it!
Clinique Lipstick in 'Wow Violet' This is another typical A/W shade, and that's not a bad thing - again, it's a lovely deep shade, I wouldn't call it violet but it's definitely edging towards purple. I love this for evening with dramatic eye make-up!
2True Colour Drench Lip Gloss Shade 10 I'm not a lipgloss fan at all, so you know this one must be pretty special to make my top five list - which makes me a bit sad it doesn't have a proper shade name, just a number! It's a lovely deep colour which is really easy to wear and, most importantly for me, isn't sticky in the slightest. It doesn't last very well, being a gloss, but does fade nicely to a pretty, slightly shiny tint.
So, they're my top five Autumn lip colours! What are your favourite lip products for Autumn? Do you change your make-up throughout the year, or do you have a staple look you tend to stick to?

Remember to check out this month's Featured Advertiser, LaylaD Beauty, for gorgeous natural skincare and cosmetics!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

NOTD: Surreal Polka Dots

This is a really simple NOTD where I fancied something a little different than just plain nails, but nothing time-consuming or complicated! I started with Nail Envy as a base coat, followed by two coats of Maybelline's 'Surreal', which I seem to have posted about a lot - probably because I love it! I then used a medium-sized dotting tool to make a border of dots around half of each nail, using Models Own 'Snow White'. I finished with a coat of Jacava London's UV Inhibitor Top Coat* to protect my design and give a shine, and this is how it looks:
NOTD Surreal Border Polka Dots
Polka Dot Border Nail Art NOTD
What do you think? Are you a fan of simple nail art? What's your favourite top coat?

This month's Featured Advertiser is the wonderful LaylaD Beauty; check them out for gorgeous natural skincare and cosmetics!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Review: W7 Rock & Roll Eye Shadow in 'Terracotta'*

I was recently sent a few bits and pieces to try and review by the lovely people at Xtras, one of which was W7's Rock & Roll Eye Shadow in the shade 'Terracotta'*. W7's Rock & Roll Eye Shadows consist of loose pigment powder eyeshadow, in an easy-to-use roll-on format; I tend to avoid loose pigments because of the mess I invariably make, so I was intrigued to see how I'd get on with this apparently fool-proof packaging innovation!
W7 Rock & Roll Eyeshadow Terracotta
W7 Rock & Roll Eyeshadow Terracotta Review
The packaging is simple but doesn't feel cheap or flimsy; a clear glass container with a black plastic screw cap and a plastic roller-ball applicator, meaning you can easily see which shade you've picked up, as well as how much product is left. W7 claim: "These foolproof roll-on eye shadows come in a wonderful range of shimmering metallic shades to complement any eye colour. Simply roll directly onto the skin, and blend to suit using your fingers, or a blending brush. Voila!"
I've been doing just that, rolling over my lids and using a blending brush to blend out so as to avoid harsh lines and uneven pigmentation. I'd expected that a powder product wouldn't be very easy to roll onto the skin, but I couldn't be more wrong on that front; the pigment dispenses easily and evenly over my eyelids with minimal pressure, making it quick and easy to apply. One swipe (top swatch below) gives a subtle, shimmery look, whilst the colour can easily be built up with multiple swipes (bottom swatch below) to achieve a more intense effect. My one complaint would be that I have experienced quite a bit of fall-out, but honestly I'd expect that with a loose pigment at the best of times.
W7 Rock & Roll Eyeshadow Terracotta Swatch
I've not tried this over an eye primer yet and honestly, I don't feel the need to; even without primer, the pigmentation is excellent and the lasting power is one of the best I've ever come across. I've not experienced any creasing at all, and the colour looks just as it did when I applied it after ten hours' wear. That's pretty impressive, especially for me and my super-oily lids, which usually crease shadow within about thirty minutes! 'Terracotta' is a lovely mid-brown shimmery shade, which looks lovely with my hazel eyes but which would suit most eye colours and skin-tones well in my opinion. It's easily wearable both for everyday, and built up to a more dramatic look for night-time. (Please do excuse my brows which are in desperate need of some attention!)
W7 Rock & Roll Eyeshadow Terracotta2
W7 Rock & Roll Eyeshadow Terracotta1
[Ingredients: Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Dimethicone, Methylparaben, 
Propylparaben, Tin Oxide. May contain: Mica, CI 77891, CI 77491, 
CI 75470, CI 77510, CI 42090, CI 19140, CI 77742, CI 22007]
The ingredients aren't amazing, what with silicon (Dimethicone; notorious for blocking pores) and two parabens, but I wouldn't expect much more from such a budget brand and in honesty, I'm not too bothered as my facial skin is thankfully less sensitive to parabens than elsewhere on my body. Nonetheless, it is something to consider if you like to be careful about what you're putting on your skin!
Overall, I really like this eyeshadow; it makes loose pigment a lot easier to work with, the colour payoff is great and the lasting power is amazing! I'll definitely be looking to pick up a couple more shades of these. W7 Rock & Roll Eye Shadow is available from Xtras, priced at £1.99.
Have you ever tried a roll-on eye shadow? What's your favourite eye shadow format? Do you like this shade of eyeshadow?
[Please note this product was sent for my consideration for the purpose of a review.
As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own and 100% honest!]


Sunday, 20 October 2013

My Kitchen

The lovely Emma from Supper In The Suburbs has organised a bit of a collaboration between a few bloggers, including myself, where we introduce you to our kitchens. It'll come as no surprise to regular readers that I spend a lot of time in my kitchen, as I love cooking, so I was well up for letting you all have a nosey round what is probably my favourite room in the house - the kitchen was what sold the house to me when we were looking for a place to live - I couldn't have coped with a tiny, poky little kitchen with no cupboard space! So, without further ado, meet my kitchen:
My Kitchen 1
My Kitchen 8
I love that the room is really bright and open, meaning there's room for myself and my boyfriend to cook even whilst two small children want to "help" and/or just play somewhere close to us. There's loads of cupboard space behind the lovely white doors, and I had a great time deciding what would go where when we moved in. I've not taken photos of the contents of all the cupboards as a) most of it isn't very interesting, I'm sure everyone has pasta, and b) I really need to go shopping, there's not much in there at the moment... However, this is my baking cupboard. I love the silicon teacup cupcake moulds, although the silicone is ridged which makes them a nightmare to wash, so I usually use cupcake cases too! Ours were from B&M Bargains but you can find similar on Amazon.
My Kitchen 2
We have Scrabble tile magnets on the fridge, which we use for leaving notes, or more usually for playing word association games, which is what's happening here. We also have a few cute little magnets which I made, and on the side of the fridge is some of the kids' artwork. The awesome Union Jack bin was my boyfriend's housewarming present to me when we moved in - I love it! It was from TKMaxx but again, you can find similar on Amazon.
My Kitchen 9
I have an assortment of tea tins which came from various charity shops and junk shops, which house our rather extensive tea collection. My best friend decorated this teapot for me for Christmas last year, and the amazing hand-knitted cow tea cosy was a birthday gift from the same friend for my 21st - she's called Myrtle (the tea cosy, not the friend...)
My Kitchen 5
The Kitchen Devils knife block was a Christmas present off my parents last year, which I got rather over-excited by on Christmas morning, scaring my Nan just a little. In my utensil pot, you can see my wooden spoon Jess which was made, you guessed it, by my best friend. Also in this corner we have a marble slab which we rarely use (because it's too heavy to lift to clean it afterwards!), a lovely little spice rack which was a gift off Rob's grandparents, and a set of speakers because who doesn't love dancing round the kitchen to Fall Out Boy of an evening!? Oh, and yes, that is a real-life iPod Classic there, which does actually still work. I know.
My Kitchen 3
I have a little collection of cacti on the windowsill; I say collection, it's actually a pair these days - Nicholas and Carlos. They're kept company by my cow-shaped soap dispenser (gift from same best friend, can you tell why we're friends yet!?) and my Mr Potato potato brush, along with exciting things like washing-up liquid, kitchen paper and cloths. Also, a liquorice allsorts mug - it's amazing, but horrible to clean, so I'm intending to use it as a plant-pot holder. I did have some herbs on the windowsill in the summer, but they've sadly passed on now *sob*
My Kitchen 4
This wonderful baking pinny with a hen-shaped pocket and WOODEN SPOON HOLDERS was made for my 22nd birthday, from scratch, by hand, by the same wonderful best friend. I've been too scared to use it so far, but isn't it amazing!?
My Kitchen 7
On the wall, I have an Emma Ball weekly planner (source: same best friend) which I use to plan out our dinners for the week - I write down who'll be around each day, then fill in what we'll eat, so I know what I need to buy when I go shopping, and what I need to get out of the freezer in the morning.
My Kitchen 6
My recipe books don't actually live in the kitchen as there isn't much free counter space, so they live on the shelf in the living room. My favourites are the Dairy Diary Just One Pot Cookbook, the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, Cake Days, Home Sweet Home, and Curry. I also have a scrapbook which I use to keep random recipes together - cut from magazines, picked up on cards from the supermarket, or written down by various friends and family members for us.
So, that's my kitchen! I hope you enjoyed the little tour, and if you'd like to link up there'll be more details on Emma's blog at some point today! Please do link up if you've done a similar post as I'm really looking forward to having a peek at other people's kitchens and I'd love to see yours in there :)
What's your favourite room in your house? Are you a fan of handmade gifts?

This month's Featured Advertiser is the wonderful LaylaD Beauty; check them out for gorgeous natural skincare and cosmetics!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

My Blogging Routine

I often find myself wondering whether other bloggers have little habits and routines like I do, so I decided I'd put together a little post about my blogging routine, how I like to keep myself organised(ish), and the bits and pieces I have around my desk for while I'm blogging! I'm super-duper nosey, so if you've done a post like this (or post one in the future!), I'd love to see it - please do leave a link in the comments.
My Blogging Routine 1
I tend to blog from my desk, as years of University work mean this is where I can concentrate the best. I often light a candle whilst I'm writing, it's just nice to indulge every now and again; this isn't a fancy candle, I think it was from Poundland! A nice hot cup of tea is an essential for me, my house is freezing so I often cosy up in a blanket too. Is that weird?! An obvious essential for blogging is my laptop; I've had this since I was 17 and I have to admit it's developed some "quirks" recently - it's definitely seen better days! I'm trying to save up a little bit from my new job so I can afford a new one, and have been looking up some Acer laptop reviews for its replacement.
My Blogging Routine 2
I'm a massive lover of colour-coding and always have been, everything in my diary is colour-coded from hours at work, to to-do list items, phone & credit card bills, my boyfriend's days off, birthdays... Everything! I have a pad of sticky notes on my desk which I use to jot down ideas and things I need to remember to do - photos, sponsored posts, reviews, collaborations and guest posts - which, again, is colour-coded. I also have monthly planners on the wall above my desk so I can see what's happening and what I need to do at a glance - I love these fab bright ones from Tomkat Studios, and again I'm obsessive with my use of coloured pens... I like to write in my hours at work so I know when I'm free, as well as what posts I'm planning to publish when. Sometimes these are the same every month, for example I always publish my Empties posts on the last day of the month. It also helps make sure I'm not posting too many reviews, sponsored posts etc., as I can see at a glance what's been posted when.
My Blogging Routine 3
The top drawer of my desk contains things like products I'm currently reviewing, camera cables, and the wallpaper samples I use as backgrounds for my product photos - you can request these for free from B&Q's website, which is what I did! I also have a stack of magazines on the pull-out shelf of my desk, which I tend to use for inspiration; I don't think I'm a naturally fashionable person, so I need it! If I'm blogging about a particular product, I tend to have it on my desk so I can check ingredients and product information as I write, because I like to include as much information as possible about each product. I usually start writing a review as soon as I get a product, writing about its packaging, claims and ingredients. Then I add in first impressions as I begin using it, photos as I get chance to take and edit them, and longer-term thoughts after using the product for a few weeks. This means I usually have a good few half-written posts in my drafts, so I know what I'm supposed to be working on!
My Blogging Routine
Do you have any particular blogging routines or habits? Have you ever posted about your blogging routine or blogging area? I'd love to see if so, so like I said, please do leave me a link in the comments!

[*Please note this is a sponsored post.]
Remember to check out the wonderful LaylaD Beauty for gorgeous natural skincare & cosmetics.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Review: Born Pretty Store Watch*

I was recently contacted by the lovely people at Born Pretty Store to ask if I'd be interested in reviewing one of their Women's Watches. I hadn't known before that BPS sold watches, but after a quick browse through their site, it became clear that they do a whole host of lovely watches at great prices; eventually, I decided on the Hollow Star Style Dial Quartz Wrist Watch in white. The watch took about three weeks to reach me, which isn't bad considering it came from Singapore, and postage is free worldwide from the BPS store! As you can see below, it came all securely packaged, wrapped up in foam and in a lovely little gift box which would be perfect for giving as a present - especially with Christmas just around the corner! (There, I said it!)
BPS Watch Packaging
Born Pretty Watch Review
Inside, the watch itself is much better quality than you might expect for its modest pricetag; it's quite heavy and doesn't look or feel cheap or flimsy in the slightest. The band isn't made of leather, but I wouldn't expect it to be for this price, and of course that fact makes it more vegan-friendly (not that I'm vegan; sorry, but bacon!). I have quite skinny wrists and the strap fits me well on the second hole, so it should fit a wide range of sizes with ease. It looks quite big on the wrist, which I like personally, but it doesn't seem too masculine because of the colour and the star dial.
BPS Watch Review
I really like the star shape of the dial, I've not seen anything else like it and think it's really eye-catching and unusual! The glass over the dial isn't domed like I expected but faceted, which you can kind of see below; again, I think that's quite unusual and I really like it. I'm also loving the rose-gold tone of the hardware, although I'm kind of disappointed that the buckle doesn't match - again, though, I'm not too put out given the price of this watch.
BPS Watch
BornPrettyStore Watch
The Star Style Dial Quartz Wrist Watch is available to purchase from Born Pretty Store, priced at £4.94 with free postage worldwide; it's available in five colours, including white (as shown), red, black, pink, or brown. I'd definitely recommend Born Pretty Store for great-value wrist watches, and they've very kindly offered readers a 10% discount code which can be used on all full-price items in the store; just enter the code JESSSC10 at checkout!
Did you know Born Pretty Store sold watches? What do you think of my choice? Have you shopped with BPS before?
Please note, this product was provided to me for the purposes of a review;
as always, all thoughts are my own and my review is 100% honest!

Remember to check out the wonderful LaylaD Beauty for gorgeous natural skincare and cosmetics!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Six Mini Reviews #2: Clarins, Etude House & Caudalie

I'm back with the second installment of my mission to get rid of Sample Mountain! I refer to it as Sample Mountain but it's actually spread between my bathroom and my bedroom; it's really more of a mountain range than just one mountain.. Specifics aside, here are the next six samples I've managed to use up.
Six Samples 2
Clarins BB Skin Perfecting Cream (Shade 01 'Medium') This was far too dark for me, even mixed with copious amounts of moisturiser I'd struggle to look natural with it even in the depths of summer. On top of that, it felt kind of sticky on my skin like it didn't blend in or "set", and even powdered over it went shiny very quickly. Not for me!
Deborah Milano 5 in 1 BB Cream (Shade 01 'Fair') This suited my skintone almost perfectly. The sachet contained enough for one generous application, and I was very happy with the level of coverage it gave, covering unevenness in my skintone without feeling heavy on my skin. It had a semi-matte finish which powdered nicely to a matte finish and lasted well on the skin, and it also has a beautiful, sweet and almost floral scent which I really enjoyed.
Etude House Wonder Pore Freshner I ordered this sample size off eBay for about £1.50 including postage, and have been using it as a toner after cleansing in the evening. I don't feel like it's made the slightest bit of difference to my skin, to be honest, and won't be repurchasing this.
Caudalie Vinosource Moisturise Recovery Cream I'm not 100% certain where this dinky little sample tube came from, but I've really enjoyed using it of an evening; despite being aimed at dry skin, it's not made my oily skin feel greasy or congested, but has hydrated nicely with a beautiful scent. I wouldn't repurchase, but only because I'd prefer to try a product aimed more specifically for my skintype, to see just how good it can be!
A'Pieu Essential Source Collagen Skin Treatment
A'Pieu Essential Source Collagen Skin Treatment I'm not sure where this sample came from either, and I'm not entirely certain what it's supposed to do; the information on the sachet isn't very useful  to me as I don't speak/read Korean(!) and I wasn't able to find much by Googling, either. I used it as a kind of serum of an evening, and didn't notice any effects, although I'm sure it would have helped to know what I was looking for! It's not something I'd buy again without knowing at least what it's supposed to do... I'm also intrigued to know what the 'Contains 38%' on the front means? Any suggestions, anyone!?
Glamglow Super-Mud Clearing Treatment I've previously tried Glamglow's Youthmud Mask and have to say I preferred that to this Super-Mud option, which just felt a bit.. bleh.. in comparison - there was none of the tingle which I really liked with the Youthmud, and the exfoliation was minimal; it's essentially just a glorified, over-priced mud mask in my opinion, and I don't think one sachet (= one use) is enough to notice any long-term effects from it, either. If I was going to buy a full-sized Glamglow mask, it would definitely be the Youthmud and not the Super-Mud! (Mud has stopped sounding like a real word now...)
Have you used up any samples lately? Have you ever tried one product from a brand, loved it, and then been disappointed when trying their other offerings?

Remember to check out the wonderful LaylaD Beauty for gorgeous natural skincare and cosmetics!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

NOTD: Blueberry Flowers

I've actually not been wearing nail polish for the last week; I just haven't got chance to paint my nails, what with starting my new job and looking after my step-kids. I finally got time on my day off yesterday and decided on a little bit of nail art; I started with OPI's Nail Envy followed by three coats of Barry M's 'Prickly Pear' from the Gelly Hi-Shine Range. Then, I used a small dotting tool to create a flower in the corner of each nail with Jacava London's 'Blueberry Muffin'*, before finishing off with Jacava London's Top Coat with UV Inhibitor* for a gorgeous glossy shine.
Blueberry Flowers NOTD
Blueberry Flower NOTD
I think my dots would have looked better a little closer together, but I still like how this turned out; perfect for a subtly yet still girly look!
Have you done any nail art lately? What's your favourite nail art design?

Check out the wonderful LaylaD Beauty for gorgeous natural skincare and cosmetics!

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