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Sunday Summary #35

Life

It has been my last full week at home before I go back to work so I have been enjoying some fairly chilled out afternoons, cooking, reading and making the most of my last few lie-ins.

This weekend, despite being rather cold, grey and rainy (autumn anyone?!), has been really fun. Yesterday, I went for lunch then to watch Bristol City play…and sadly lose. Then Ian and I watched The Martian and forced ourselves to stay awake to cheer on Mo Farah – I’m going to miss the Olympics when they finish.

We finished watching the second series of Scandal and it just got so bad we have abandoned it and aren’t going to watch Series 3. A shame, as it started well but just got so far-fetched in the end. We have started watching a British drama called The Five and so far, it is gripping.

Today, we went for burgers then to watch the new David Brent film, Life on the Road. It was hilarious and moving in equal measure – the song lyrics especially make me cringe and laugh.

I am off on holiday next week with Ian and one of our best friends so have been busy researching things to do and see. We are doing a mini-Scandinavian cruise stopping off in Sweden, Estonia, Russia and Finland and I cannot wait!

We had some sad news this week too – our village pub, The Muddy Duck, which we go to on a weekly basis is closing down. We were gutted when we read the notice on the door and Ian was on about moving as we love having a good pub in the village! I’m hoping a buyer is found soon and it doesn’t have to close but I am so sad it is changing hands and have so many good foodie memories there.

Our new bed arrived this week and it’s copper! I think it looks beautiful and I will write up a mini room tour in a few weeks when our new furniture and accessories have arrived…copper and leaf prints will feature heavily.

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Finally, I listened to Nadiya Hussain’s Desert Island Discs (last year’s Bake Off winner) and it moved me to tears. I already loved her but hearing her talk about the struggles she faces as a British Muslim and how she deals with it in such a dignified way was very moving.

Food

Is it just me, or do you find a food that you love then eat nothing but that until you are sick of it?! Well, I have discovered this honey flavoured Greek yogurt and have had it with blueberries every morning for the past week and am so obsessed I have 4 more tubs of it in my fridge.

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Alongside the yogurt, I have also been having these rose and pineapple flavoured toasted sesame seeds my friend Lucie picked up for me at a food market. These seeds are delicious and really go with my new favourite breakfast.

Beauty

I had a big clear out of my nail varnish collection this week and blogged about it. I honestly thought most people had this many bottles too but a few comments on social media have alerted me I have a bit of a problem!

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I’m not usually that fussy with shower gels – I tend to pick something that smells nice but this one from Dove is lovely to use. It is so luxurious and creamy and my skin feels really soft and moisturised after using it.

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I had managed to rack up a fair few Birchbox point (little tip – always do the quick reviews online to add to your points total!) so bought myself another tube of Model Co More Brows. I love this stuff as it not only adds colour to my fair brows but also contains microfibers to fill in any gaps.

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Fashion

I blogged about my new summer sandals this week and have been wearing them all trying to decide which are the comfiest pair to take on holiday with me next week.

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I ordered some new rings this week. I flit between gold and silver jewellery and I love these chunky, silver cut-out rings.

Latest Purchases #99 – Summer Footwear

Over the past few months, I have bought a few new pairs of sandals to add to my summer wardrobe so thought I’d round them up and put together a little footwear haul. They’re mainly casual but I also invested in one summer party/ wedding essential.

First up, a pair of leopard print mules from La Redoute. I loved these sandals since seeing them on one of my favourite bloggers, Hannah Gale, and when she tweeted that they had gone into the sale (£9 – bargain!) I felt it was meant to be. These have a leather sole and the straps are lovely and soft.

Next, a pair of sliders from Matalan. I am obsessed with sporty sliders (currently trying to decide between some Adidas or Nike ones on ASOS) but I wanted a slightly smarter pair to wear. These black patent crocodile print ones with a chunky platform are perfect and so comfortable.

About a year ago I bought a pair of snake-print crossover sandals from Primark and I have worn them to death. I have said to Ian I wish I had bought multiple pairs so when I saw an exact copy on the La Redoute website, I had to have them. These are undoubtedly better quality than my Primark offerings and I know I will get a lot of wear out of them.

This summer, I went to a wedding and suffered the unfortunate incident that other women will understand…the sinking heels! After awkwardly standing and walking on grass, trying not to let my pretty heels sink into the lawn, I swore I would find a pair of shoes I could wear to summer weddings and parties that wouldn’t do this. A pair of wedges was the obvious choice and these tan suede ones from La Redoute are perfect. The straw, espadrille-style base means they aren’t too dressy and the colour means they will go with most things.

This next pair were a Primark steal and I love them! They are a soft black suede covered in these gold studs with an ankle tie. I like how these look on and they are really comfy too.

Finally, I know Birkenstocks can invoke a love/ hate reaction but I live in mine over the summer. I picked up these snakeskin-print ones from Primark and they have the softest suede sole which makes it feel like you are putting on a pair of slippers. They do have a funny grip on them though – I almost went flying when I walked across the tiles in our conservatory so just a word of warning!

So, 6 pairs of summery sandals which should see me through until Autumn rolls in.

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My Nail Varnish Collection

One of my jobs this summer was to have a thorough sort through of my vast collection of nail varnishes. Now, before we go any further, I must admit that I have somewhat of a problem when it comes to buying bottles of polish. I cannot pass an Essie counter without swooning and when I couldn’t close the lid on the hamper I keep my bottles in (yes, I have a nail varnish hamper!) I knew I had to have a good sort out.

Nail varnish doesn’t last forever and I knew I needed to get rid of some that had gone a bit gloopy and try to streamline my collection a bit.

So, here was my collection in all its glory (don’t judge!)…

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I decided I needed a plan of attack so I sorted the bottles into reds, purples, greens, nudes, bright pinks, black and greys, blues and glitters.

Then it was a case of swatching every shade to check the formula was still good and that I really loved the shade. I managed to get rid of 40 bottles of nail varnish which I will pass onto my mum and friends.

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Here are the bottles that made the cut:

The Reds

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You cannot beat a classic red and I think these bottles cover everything from deep, vampy reds to bright orange-tinged corals. Sadly the bottle of Barry M red nail varnish I wore on our wedding day had gone a bit gloopy so I am allowing a temporary lifting of my nail varnish spending ban to repurchase it.

The Greens

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I managed to cut these down to my absolute favourites – I had so many pastel mint greens. The Barry M one on the bottom row is a concrete-effect textured one that I like to wear a lot.

The Purples

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I don’t feel like I wear purple that much on my nails so I was a bit surprised to see how many I had! The two Revlon shades on the top row are part of the Chroma Chameleon range and are really stunning shades.

The Bright Pinks

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I had about 5 shades the exact same tone of pink so I picked my favourite formulas here. The Seventeen bottle on the top row is a 10-day wear nail varnish and is really long-lasting.

The Black and Greys

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Again, I was surprised I had 7 black nail varnishes (a throwback to my goth days! Ha) so only kept the ones I love. I think the Chanel nail varnish is the most expensive one in my collection. I also love the pale grey Ciate bottles on the bottom row.

The Blues

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I was on a search for the perfect navy blue nail varnish for years so had quite a few in my stash. I love the bright blue from Nails Inc on the top row and it was a freebie I got with some toothpaste years ago!

The Nudes

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It seems that a nude shade is my weakness as I had loads to sort through. I just think a peachy nude shade looks so clean on the nails, especially if you don’t feel comfortable wearing bright colours. My all-time favourite nail varnish from Nails Inc, Porchester Square, is  in the top right of the picture…I actually had 3 bottle of it!

The Glitters

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For someone who prefers to wear glittery nail varnish around Christmas, I have managed to collect quite a few bottles. I have had the Ciate advent calendar for the past few years and that always contains a fair selection of glitters. Some of these are just top coats whereas others are an actual glittery nail varnish. My absolute favourite nail varnish in my whole collection is in here: the rose gold OPI shade on the 3rd row.

The Nail Toppers

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I do like my nail art and I had 10 bottles of Ciate nail toppers ranging from mini pearls to sequins to glitter. Sadly, I decided to get rid of all the loose glitters. While they look amazing on the nail, they are just too fiddly and no matter how careful I am, I end up with glitter absolutely everywhere!

So, apart from the odd bottle I have hanging around the house, this is my new pared-down nail varnish collection. I know I still have way more than I need but everyone has a vice and this happens to be mine. The other good news is that I can now close my hamper!

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Recipe – Peruvian Lamb

I have rediscovered my cooking mojo this summer. I’m really enjoying flicking through my recipe books for inspiration then spending an afternoon in the kitchen, making something delicious.

My good friend Cat bought me an amazing Peruvian cookbook ‘Ceviche’ after we visited the restaurant of the same name in London and it is packed with vibrant, tasty recipes with lovely photography too.

This recipe is a bit of a twist on a lamb stew and is cooked in beer! You also make a delicious pesto/ sauce from fresh coriander and orange which gives a real zing to the dish. I had the rest of this for my lunch today and it was so tasty.

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Ingredients

A good glug of olive oil

About 1kg of lamb – I bought two trays of diced lamb leg with plenty of fat on

2 onions, roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 chilli or 1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

A handful of fresh coriander – I used a whole mini plant bought at the supermarket

The juice of one orange

1 bottle of beer – I used Corona

400-500g of new potatoes, cut into quarters

1 red pepper, thinly sliced

200g of broad beans or peas

Salt and pepper

How to make it

  • In a large pan or casserole dish (I used my big Le Creuset) on a medium heat, add some oil and brown the lamb on all sides.

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  • Set the lamb aside and in the same pan, add the onions and gently fry until soft

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  • Next, add the garlic and after a few minutes stir through the chilli and cumin

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  • Return the lamb to the dish and stir well so that the meat is coated in the spices

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  • Season well with salt and pepper
  • In a mini-blender, blitz together the coriander and orange juice (keep a few sprigs of coriander for decoration)

  • Add two-thirds of this sauce to the meat then pour over the bottle of beer…obviously treating yourself to a bit first!

  • Bring to the boil then simmer on a low heat with a lid on for one and a half to two hours – the meat will be falling apart after this
  • Add the potatoes and red pepper and simmer for another 20 minutes to half an hour until the potatoes have softened

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  • Add the beans (mine were frozen) until soft and the rest of the orange and coriander sauce
  • I found I had to reduce the sauce slightly by increasing the heat for about 5 minutes
  • Serve on a bed of fresh spinach or with some quinoa…and another beer!

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Beauty Review – August Birchbox

This month’s Birchbox arrived not in the usual cardboard box but encased within a cool grey make-up bag. It is made of the same material as scuba suits and I received the hot pink zip (there are four colour options). It’s a good sized bag but the pale colour and material does show every mark on it. I’ve had mine in my handbag for a week and it already looks a bit grubby.

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Onto the contents…

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Seeing as there was no box this month, the magazine was folded up inside the bag which I didn’t particularly like. There isn’t really a theme this month but everything is meant to have a summery twist.

One product I knew was coming was a Marcelle eyeliner in the shade Mulberry. I had preselected this purple shade and despite not knowing the brand, this seems a lovely deep, shimmery shade and is also waterproof.

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I have received so many Parlor items in Birchboxes and have to admit I’ve never really been blown away by them. This month I got a Volumizing Lifting Spray which doesn’t really seem very well suited to my hair type.

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I like the brand Anatomicals and am currently using a face wash from them. I received The Buff Stuff Citrus Body Scrub which smells amazing.

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Next, an item from Balance Me, another brand I like. This is the Radiance Face Mask. I am a little overloaded with face masks to try out after buying an Origins set but this clay-based one looks nice.

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A bit of a strange one next – an Anti-Bacterial Cleansing Gel from Merci Handy. I do use these but I have much nicer scents from Bath and Body Works which I stock up on every time I go to the States. This one smells very strongly of chemicals on the hand which makes me think it may be quite harsh on my skin. I’ve also found the design of the bottle means it can leak a bit – not a great product.

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Finally, a tiny sample from Nude. I received their Perfect Cleanse Omega Cleansing Jelly which sounds lovely but there’s no way you can get a good feel for a product from a sample this small.

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Overall, I’m quite unimpressed with this month’s Birchbox. None of the products really excite me that much and I think a few of them are pretty poor too. Hopefully September will be better!

Sunday Summary #34

Life

I spent the whole of yesterday thinking it was Saturday, hence why my Sunday blog post is a day late!

We have been camping this week. We went with both sets of parents (and George the Jack Russell) to a lovely little campsite near Tewksbury and had a lovely time. I love sitting outside and chatting over wine and cups of tea as the sun sets. We visited Ledbury for a wander and my Mum and I enjoyed a cream tea in the sunshine.

However, there is nothing like getting home after spending a few nights in a tent. I ordered new bedroom furniture this week and our bed arrives in a few days…I’m very excited about it!

We have really been enjoying the Olympics this week, especially Mo winning after tripping over – amazing stuff. I’ve also been continuing to watch Sex and the City (onto series 3 now) and both Aiden and Trey have just arrived on the scene.

I started reading The Death of an Owl whilst camping and so far am quite enjoying it.

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Food

I love cooking when camping and my Dad brought a huge pan of his chicken cacciatore for us to enjoy with some fresh crusty bread. The next night, we had rib eye steaks…much tastier than the awful boil-in-the-bag offerings I ate during Duke of Edinburgh camping!

 

I have become obsessed with scones lately and in my opinion, you should always have jam then cream.

I bought some new pasta bowls this week so had to give them a whirl with a big ol’ portion of pesto pasta.

Finally, we held a BBQ yesterday which was delicious…especially the cold sausage sandwiches we had for supper!

Beauty

This week, I began using a new shampoo and conditioner set from OGX. I love the coconut smell these have and, although they felt a bit heavy on my hair when using them, they left my curls looking great.

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I only use face wipes very occasionally and camping is one of those situations! These Ole Henriksen ones were in a recent Birchbox and I really enjoyed using them. They were really refreshing and did a good job at removing make-up.

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Fashion

My Mum and I spent some time wandering around Ledbury, looking around the boutiques and I treated myself to this new ring. I love the pale blue colour and it has been a while since I wore a statement ring.

 

Before and After – The Guest Bedroom

This bedroom was actually finished ages ago but a) I never got around to writing a blog post about it and b) it looks even better with our new carpets so here is the makeover of our guest bedroom (with a lot of help from my mum and dad!)

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When we moved in, this room had a rather interesting colour scheme. The walls were alternately painted a dark and pale blue which did nothing for the room and I didn’t think the two shades complemented each other either.

We spent the best part of a week painting layer upon layer of white paint onto the walls which really freshened things up and made the room look much bigger and brighter.

I decided on a grey, pink and copper theme so painted one wall (the wall the headboard of the bed would go against) grey and broke this up with some framed prints.

We already had a pine bed, drawers and bedside tables which I think kind of go with the copper-tones of the room.

Accessories were really important to bring everything together. I didn’t want the pink touches to make the room too girly, so we just stuck to some pink and white striped bedding plus a few candles.

The copper came from these gorgeous beside lights and a copper lampshade. My dad also bought us this copper fan.

Finally, some finishing touches in the form of this cool circular mirror hung on a leather strap, some framed artwork (we got the New York pictures last summer when we were there and the Japanese prints were a present), a pink and grey cushion, a pretty blind, a pink chevron rug from Urban Outfitters and possibly my favourite thing in the room which is this lovely pink, grey and white chevron blanket which Ian’s Mum kindly knitted for us.

This room looks onto the back garden and our friends and family always tell us they had a really good night’s sleep in here. Ian and I have thought about having this as our main bedroom too at times, just for the view of the trees you get when lying in bed!

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