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Latest Purchases #57 – Back to School Buys (An ASOS and Primark Haul)

Today’s haul is a nice mixture of fashion and beauty buys. I have called it my ‘Back to School Buys’ but really it was more a case of me getting myself organised before work kicks in again and I find myself with much less free time than I have been used to this holiday!

First up, my ASOS goodies. My ‘uniform’ so to speak for work tends to be a dress with tights, boots and a cardigan in the winter and leggings and sandals in the summer. Therefore, when I buy a dress, I usually try to make sure it will look good the year round with either of these combinations.

I LOVE this floral skater dress from Oasis. I like that it has three-quarter length sleeves and the darker colours with a pop of neon mean I can wear it to work or dress it up with heels for a night out.

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I also bought this floral and striped dress with a Peter Pan collar from River Island. I think it is the perfect colour for Autumn although unfortunately the sizing is huge so I am returning this for a smaller size…never a bad thing!

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Obviously now is a great time to pick up summery items for next year as the shops begin to promote their Autumn/ Winter range and this little black strapless sundress will be great for holidays worn over a bikini. At £7 it was a bargain too!

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As well as the dresses, I also picked up a few beauty items.

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Top of my list was a bottle of Dr Bronner’s Magic Soap, another product that beauty bloggers seem to rave about! These 18-in-1 formulas claim to wash everything from your hair to your sink but I wanted it as a make-up brush cleaner and when I saw there was a rose version I had to have it.

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I also decided to try a shade from the Rimmel Apocalips in Aurora. There was so much hype when these were released that I wasn’t sure it would live up to it. However, I was pleasantly surprised! Aurora is a reddish-coral shade which I wore out to dinner earlier this week. The colour pay-off is great and it applies with a great glossy finish before it dries to a creamy matte. I found it lasted well too so would be great for those times when you don’t want to be constantly reapplying your lippy. I think I will be picking up a few more shades in this range!

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I spotted two Barry M nail varnished in the sale too. Surprisingly, I don’t really have that many glitters or nail toppers and these two looked like they were packed full of glitter.

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I bought Yellow Topaz Glitter from their Jewel range, a formula packed with gold hexes and tiny holographic pieces. I also got Pink Sapphire Glitter, with pinky-purple hexes and silver bars.

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After a dentist appointment earlier in the week, I decided to pop in to Primark for a few bits to cheer myself up. I went at about 9am and it was lovely and quiet – much nicer than the usual crowds!

My main aim was to buy a few more sporty/ work-out items for Pilates and PE lessons. I tend to associate work-out gear with comfort and can sometimes end up wearing slouchy jogging bottoms and loose-fitting t-shirts which can look a little scruffy. While comfort and practicality are still my top considerations, I thought I could do with smartening up my sporting attire!

First up are these jogging bottoms. Slightly fitted so not too baggy, these have a cool leopard print design but aren’t too loud either – exactly what I had in mind!

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To pair with these, I bought a loose-fitting t-shirt. I will probably wear this with jeans too as I love the details such as the folded sleeves, slightly sheer material and distressed effect on the fabric.

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I also picked up a gorgeous white, glittery jumper to wear before it’s time to pull on the thick woolly tops. This looks great over jeans and will be ideal to layer up as it gets colder.

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Finally, a pair of cute slippers to replace my flip flops around the house.

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I was surprised at how much the Primark beauty stands have grown in recent years. They now have a whole make-up line as well as stocking various bath and beauty products from other brands. I also love looking at their false nail designs although I’m not really a fan of wearing them so it’s purely for some nail art inspiration!

I picked up a few things from this section:

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Some cute nail files with a floral and owl print

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Hair ties

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And Primark’s version of the Beauty Blender. I usually apply or blend my foundation with a brush but I have heard so many bloggers rave about these egg-shaped applicators that I thought I would give it a trial.

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Finally, I picked up some jewellery. I love the look of layering up several more delicate bracelets and these black and gold ones will look great together. There are some really pretty pieces in this set and for £2 you just can’t go wrong!

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Looking back on this post, I ended up buying more than I thought…isn’t that always the way?!

The sun is shining today so I am going to pull on my running shoes and head out before undoing my hard work with some cupcakes I plan on baking later on! x

Recipe – Tuna and Mixed Bean Salad

This week, my mind has been on back-to-school matters and my thoughts soon turned to food (obviously!) and more specifically my lunches. Now, I’m partial to the odd sarnie but taking in sandwiches every day can soon get very dull and so I am always looking for ways to keep my lunches healthy and interesting.

When we were in Majorca earlier this month, I tried a delicious tuna and bean salad and was determined to try and make my own version when we got home. Despite it being a salad, there are actually quite a few store-cupboard ingredients which means that it is something you can make even when you’re running a bit low on the fresh stuff.

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I really love this simple recipe as it’s colourful, fresh and full of different flavours and textures – one of those meals where every mouthful is different. As always, feel free to add or omit certain ingredients – I am planning on adding some cherry tomatoes, green olives and diced cucumber to my next batch, simply because that’s what I have in the fridge!

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Ingredientstuna6

1 tin of tuna

1 can of mixed beans (mine included chickpeas, soya beans, black eyed beans, pinto beans, kidney beans and aduki beans)

1 small can of sweetcorn

1 small jar of black olives, sliced

1 small jar of cornichons or gherkins, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons of capers

1 red pepper, diced

Half an onion, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

A drizzle of olive oil

Mayonnaise (optional)

How to make it

  • This is a real ‘throw it all in a bowl’ kind of recipe! Drain, chop and mix your ingredients together in a large mixing bowltuna8
  • Season well with salt and pepper, drizzle over some olive oil and if you want, add a few tablespoons of mayonnaise

It really is that simple! I plan on making a big bowl of this on Sunday night to see me through the first few days of school.

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This Week’s Nails – Porchester Square

Today is the last ‘proper’ day of my summer holidays so I am spending it doing a bit of school work and trying to get myself back into work-mode again.

I have been trying to hold on to the fact that it is still August and we just might have a few more warm and sunny days in store for us but I actually found myself wearing proper boots for the first time in months when we went out for dinner last night and my mind started wandering to warm tights, scarves, apple crumbles, pies and blankets on the sofa…are we there yet?!

As I am often being told, I have too many a lot of nail varnishes in my stash but there are certain ones that just stand the test of time and look good no matter what the season and no matter what colour or nail art design is on trend.

My go-to great shade is Porchester Square by Nails Inc, a colour they have now labelled one of their ‘Hero Shades’ and one that inspires a lot of dupes from other brands. It is hard to describe this beautiful colour as it can look grey, nude or a lavender lilac depending on the light.

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This is one of the few shades I own that I actually repurchase once it has run out and although I have always used the regular nail varnish, I am keen to try Nails Inc’s gel effect version too.

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As you probably know by now, I couldn’t leave this as just a plain manicure so I highlighted two nails with Barry M’s Confetti Nails in Marshmallow. These delicate pink iridescent strands look soft and almost feather-like over the grey shade and the combination of the two give a very wearable manicure.

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The ‘confetti’ can dry slightly raised on the nail so a good layer of Seche Vite seals the look and also gives it a smooth and glossy finish.

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What’s your ‘hero shade’ for nails? x

Restaurant Review – The Stable, Bath

Well, wasn’t there some drama in the Bake Off last night?! My best friend Lu came over for a catch up so I made us veggie burgers and sweet potato wedges and an incredibly sickly chocolate cake to get us in the mood for the icy stares of Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood…anyone think Mezza Bezza has turned in to such a villain this series?!

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I wish I could accompany these pictures with a lovely recipe but to be honest, I had a very lazy bake thanks to good old Betty Crocker!

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Today’s restaurant review is actually from a visit a few weeks ago but it was that good I still remember every bite!

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The Stable is a South-West chain of restaurants specialising in three things: pizza, pies and cider. Whilst I love a menu bursting with tempting dishes to order, I also admire a restaurant that has the guts to limit themselves to a few items but done incredibly well…it seems to be working for all these burger chains that are everywhere at the moment!

Located in the old Hole in the Wall restaurant, The Stable is cosy and has a really friendly and relaxed atmosphere. I visited with my Mum and Ian for dinner and we managed to get a booth for optimum people watching.

We started with a cider each and the menu for these was pretty impressive. My Mum opted for something sweet with berries, Ian had some true Somerset Scrumpy and I chose a ginger and chili sweet cider which was delicious.

The menu was so tempting but in the end Ian and I ordered pizzas and my Mum had one of their pies.

The pizzas have an amazing sourdough base and the toppings are really inventive and much more interesting than your usual options. I had The Lamb Roast which included roasted lamb, goats milk cheddar, thyme-roasted sweet potato chunks, caramelised onions, tomato and mozzarella. This reminded me of a really good flatbread and it was honestly one of the best pizzas I have ever had.

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Ian surprised  me slightly by going for a veggie option, The Fitzwilliam. This was topped with herb-roasted potatoes, Bath blue cheese, caramelised onions, spinach, tomato and mozzarella. We swapped a slice of our pizzas and his was really good too.

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Like me, my Mum is a fan of a good, hearty pie and she ordered the Chicken, Leek and Ham with a thyme crust served with chunky potato wedges, salad, chutney and a seriously good picked onion. The pie was really good but it does feel like they have taken something traditional and hearty and tried to make it a bit posh by putting it on a trendy serving platter with some salad…what’s wrong with good old mash and gravy?!

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We also had unlimited bowls of salad and didn’t realise until the bill came that Tuesday nights had an offer which meant a pizza or a pie and a cider was just £10!

Overall, I cannot recommend this place enough for a good pizza and a pint of local cider. If you go on Tuesdays you get a bit of a bargain but for the quality of the ingredients and range of drinks, I would eat here any night of the week! x

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A Spot of Upcycling

I popped in to school yesterday to start getting my classroom in order for the start of term. It made me realise just how quickly these summer holidays have gone by but also how much I have managed to squeeze in to them – 2 holidays, many catch-ups with friends, days out and (with the help of my lovely Mum) I managed to finish redecorating two rooms in our house…not too bad!

I have to admit that the novelty of owning a house and being able to redecorate it has kind of worn off now I have realised what hard work it is. However, once the more demanding jobs of sanding, prepping and painting the walls are done, I can move onto the part I love; filling the rooms with the perfect accessories!

Obviously there are some things we had to buy, such as new carpets and bedding, but I love looking around the house at pieces of furniture and items we already have to see if they would work in a new space. I managed to find a new home for our striped armchair in the hallway and am always moving pictures and pieces of artwork around the place.

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There were two specific items I needed to finish off our entrance hall and bedroom and they were a telephone table and a chair. Luckily, I had two unloved and unused pieces around the house which would be perfect once they had had a lick of paint and it would also save me the time and money of having to source them new.

The table was an old coffee table we had in our last flat which was a rather boring pine colour and had been moved from room to room since we moved as I tried to find a place for it.

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The chair was a really basic one from IKEA. Again, we bought it as a set of 4 in our old flat but I have since been given some nicer ones by my parents so this one was living in the spare bedroom underneath a pile of blankets.

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I began by giving both items a good sanding down with some sandpaper. This helped to get rid of any grease and grime and also gives the primer something to grip onto.

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Once sanded, I gave the table and chair a wipe over with a damp cloth to remove any excess dust or powder.

The next step was to paint on a couple of layers of wood primer. I used white for both pieces as it’s a good base even if you are going to paint a different colour on top.

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The table then received two layers of white gloss and I also removed the old plastic feet that were attached. If you look really closely, you will probably see a few brush strokes but I don’t mind that it isn’t completely perfect!

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I wanted the chair to be a matte grey so I actually used some of the paint we had left over from decorating the hallway. This worked really well and was the exact shade I wanted.

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And here are the two items of furniture in their new homes…

The telephone table looks great in the hallway and is a handy place to put keys and post when you come through the door.

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The chair is in our newly decorated bedroom and is handy for leaving clothes on although I am determined it won’t become hidden underneath things I can’t be bothered to put away!

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I’ve just realised that this post kind of sounds like we have several spare rooms full of lovely furniture…we really don’t! Nevertheless, I do think that when you decorate, your first stop shouldn’t be the internet to buy new stuff – just have a quick look around the house for any bits and bobs that could be upcycled or even just moved to another room to save you a bit of time and money.

Beauty Review – August Birchbox

…which I have actually gotten around to reviewing in August this time!

This month’s Birchbox theme is ‘Away We Go’ with a focus on those summer getaways. I think this is a relevant theme for the month of August and I found that I took several of my Birchbox ‘minis’ when we went away recently.

Here was my first peek at the contents…

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Straight away, you’ll notice that instead of the usual drawstring bag, there is a handy clear plastic make-up bag. This is ideal for travelling and I will definitely keep this safe for the next time we fly.

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First up, a cream eyeshadow by Wild About Beauty. I had heard of this range as I know Louise Rednapp is one of the founders and I love this product. I received the shade Matilda, an antique gold colour which is exactly the kind of shade I would have chosen myself. This has a nice satin finish and you can build up the colour easily.

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Next, a ProGenius Treatment Oil from Nude. I don’t currently use a facial oil but as it seems summer is all but over, I think this will be a great skin saviour against the cold and central heating.

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I am already using a product by Number 4 from a previous Birchbox but this Super Comb Prep and Protect is a leave-in conditioner and detangler which is perfect for my hair type.

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The hype over CC creams has died down now but I still like to try different ones and I like the fact I got two of these little tubes so you can get a few decent applications from them. This CC Cream from Supergoop! has an SPF of 35 and claims to smooth fine lines and even out skin tone.

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Next, the BrightenUp! Face Rejuvenator from Vasanti. This is an exfoliator which smells lovely and doesn’t appear to be too abrasive on my skin either.

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Finally, the ‘little extra’ from Birchbox this month comes in the form of Chapter One of The Proposal, a novel by Tasmina Perry. I’m not sure what I think about this inclusion to be honest. I am an avid reader but there is no way I could just read one chapter of a book then put it down which is such an easy way to get me to buy the whole novel! I currently have a stack of books to work my way through so I may put this to one side until I am feeling bereft of good reads!

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On the whole, I am really pleased with this month’s offerings. I will definitely use all of the products and there is a good mix of hair, beauty and make-up items.

I also noticed that in my Birchbox account, I had about £30 accumulated in points from my monthly orders and reviews and a chunk of it was about to expire so I managed to pick up four lovely beauty items from their shop for the grand total of 84p!!!

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Recipe – Chocolate, Cherry and Banana Bread

Rainy weather like we are experiencing today calls for comfy clothes (preferably pyjamas!), good TV and lots of tea and cake.

I was facing that age-old problem of what to do with some rather sorry-looking bananas when I decided to make some banana bread with a twist. I love this cake – it always turns out really moist and you can kind of kid yourself that it is somewhat healthy because it has some fruit in it!

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Banana bread also works well with lots of different flavours and the twist I went for this time came in the form of dark chocolate chips and some glace cherries. This is delicious eaten whilst still slightly warm with the choc chips still melted but equally delicious for breakfast the next day like Ian and I did this morning!

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Ingredients

125g of butter or margarine at room temperature

250g of golden caster sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

250g of plain flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

4 ripe bananas, mashed with a fork

100g of dark chocolate chips

100g of glace cherries (I bought halved ones but you can buy whole ones and roughly chop them)

A generous pinch of granulated sugar

How to make it

  • Begin by preheating your oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 4 and greasing your loaf tin
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until smoothbb4
  • Add the eggs one at a time and combine
  • Next, add the vanilla extract
  • Now add the flour and baking powder and mix well
  • Stir in the mashed bananasbb5
  • Finally, stir in the chocolate chips and cherry pieces (I like to do this final step by hand rather than using my Kitchen Aid)bb6
  • Pour the mixture into your loaf tin and give it a few bangs on your kitchen counter to knock any excess air out of itbb7
  • Next, sprinkle on a good pinch of granulated sugar to give your loaf a lovely crunchy top
  • Bake for around 50 minutes until golden brown then leave to coolbb8
  • Enjoy it warm or cooled and if you’re feeling really indulgent, top with some chocolate spread

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