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Beauty Review – October Birchbox

Another monthly treat to enjoy in the form of my October Birchbox. It seems they are sticking with the drawer format and I really look forward to seeing the design. This month was focused around star signs and seeing as I am a Leo, a fire sign, I received the FIRE box. It’s another fab design and I thought it was pretty cool that the stars on the box glow in the dark…did anyone else used to have the footprint stickers all over their ceiling that glowed in the dark?!

Onto the contents…

My first item was a Doux Me Spring Water Spray. I’m not joking when I saw that this is just a can of water. Yes, a can of water. I love facial spritzes but this is a joke! I also think the timing is odd…who needs a cooling face spray in October?! Not a great start.


Another spray now from Oribe. Their Dry Texturizing Spray is well-loved but I don’t use hairspray or dry shampoo in my curls so sadly will have to pass this on.


Something else for the hair from No4. This hair oil (with a really long name!) is much more up my street. Having coloured hair, I do use treatments to keep it from drying out so this hair oil will be a welcome addition.


Next, a body cream from Rituals. I love the products from this brand (their foaming shower gel is my favourite!) and the cherry blossom scent sounds divine.


I also received a matte lip crayon from Lord and Berry. I quite like their make-up and despite being a matte finish, this lip pencil is also quite creamy so doesn’t feel too drying on the lips. The colour is a lovely pinky-brown which I think is a great colour for autumn.

Finally, a very cheap-looking plastic eyebrow brush. I use these very rarely and this one does not scream quality at all.


Overall I have to say I’m a little disappointed by this month’s box. The eyebrow brush and water spray are some of the worst items I have received in a Birchbox however the hair oil, lip pencil and body lotion are lovely. A friend of mine was so unimpressed with this month’s offerings that she is cancelling her subscription. I’m going to keep the faith for a little longer and hope this was just a poor month.

Despite not being completely enthralled by October’s box, I did discover that I had accumulated enough points to order a Nuxe Rêve de Miel which is a Holy Grail lip balm item that is constantly out of stock.

This will be my last post for a week or so as Ian and I are flying to Boston tomorrow for a week of sightseeing, lobster rolls and my first ever basketball game!

Recipe – Grapefruit Drizzle Cake

I have a fool-proof drizzle cake recipe that I have made with lemon, lime, orange and now…grapefruit! Not everyone likes this fruit but it is floral and fragrant in this recipe and loses that sour, bitter edge.


175g of butter, at room temperature

275g of granulated sugar (100g of this is for the drizzle)

1 large grapefruit (you will need both the zest and the juice)

200g of self-raising flour

Half a teaspoon of baking powder

3 eggs

How to make it

  • Begin by greasing your loaf tin and preheating your oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 4
  • In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and 175g of the sugar


  • Zest your grapefruit and add the zest and half the juice to the mixing bowl (save the rest for the glaze!)
  • Mix in the flour, baking powder and eggs and mix well


  • Pour this batter into the loaf tin and bake for about 35 minutes until it is golden brown
  • Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool
  • While your cake is cooling, make your grapefruit drizzle by combining the remaining juice of your grapefruit and the remaining 100g of sugar
  • Turn your cake out onto a chopping board or wire rack and pierce the top of it with a small skewer or tooth pick several times


  • Carefully spoon over the grapefruit sugar drizzle, making sure the whole cake is covered and it starts to drip down the sides too

  • Allow enough time for the sugar drizzle to crystallise then cut into slices

Latest Purchases #100 – An ASOS Haul

Phew – 100 posts down equals an awful lot of shopping! Ian asked for something from ASOS for his birthday and of course I couldn’t buy his present without adding a few extra items into my basket…

First of all, I found two hats in the sale. I spent all summer trying to find the perfect straw hat and then these two popped up. They are quite similar but different styles; one fedora and one trilby. I love the coloured stripes on each one which I think make them unique.

Now onto the dresses!

I got this monochrome Aztec-print skater dress for work. It is comfortable, easy to wear and works well in summer with sandals or winter with tights, boots and a cardigan.


One of my favourite purchases now. I have been searching for a pinafore dress for ages and this tweed one was a real find. The material is so flattering on, it is warm and cosy and it has pockets. I plan on wearing this with a black polo neck, thick tights and ankle boots…bring on the icy mornings!

I really like the lace-up trend that has been in the shops this year but it can be problematic with a larger chest…nobody wants to wear a top straining to open! This dress has a hidden panel to preserve my modesty and is made of a lovely, loose, flowing material which means the lace-up front actually sits really nicely when it’s on. I have worn this to work but I think it could also be dressed up with heels for a night out.

Finally, I have a wedding coming up next month and most of my ‘wedding guest dresses’ are quite floaty and summery so I wanted something that would look OK with tights and a jacket as I don’t want to freeze! This dark dress has a cool graphic, floral print on it and it was exactly what I was looking for.

Travel Diaries – Tallinn

I used to get the Lonely Planet magazine and I remember reading an article about Tallinn which really made me want to visit. Ian and I love a European city break but I never made it to the Estonian capital. I was therefore very happy to see that Tallinn was a stop on our mini-cruise this summer.

Sadly, my initial impressions were not great due to spending almost two hours queuing up in the arrivals hall. Passports checked, we set off on foot towards the city ready to explore in the sunshine.

Tallinn itself has an Old Town then a much newer, modern section. Seeing as we only had a day there, we explored the Old Town. While it was beautiful, it was very touristy meaning I couldn’t help but feel like I didn’t get a real taste of what Tallinn is like for locals.

The city itself isn’t huge and felt to me like a smaller, quainter Prague. You can easily do the place on foot and lose hours wandering along cobbled streets.

We began by passing the wonderfully named ‘Fat Margaret’ before entering the old city gates.

Armed only with a basic street map, we visited St Olaf’s Church, stumbled upon a sculpture garden and popped into small, artisan shops before pausing for a drink and a spot of people watching in the main square.

I ordered a local drink of honey beer which was delicious.

Next, we decided to brave a climb to the top of the hill where we visited the beautiful Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and Toompea castle. The view over the city was stunning too.

We had time for one more drink before we left and Ian led us towards a brewery which looked like it would be great fun to visit at night.

It was a very short but sweet visit to Tallinn and it was definitely an interesting place. Part of me would like to return and spend a bit longer there exploring the rest of the city and some local cuisine. However, I do feel like we saw most of the older part of the city and, as pretty as it was, there didn’t seem to be an awful lot more to do there. A beautiful little city for a mini break and, who knows, maybe I will get to return one day and see a little bit more of it.

Mani Monday – Nude and Navy

After weeks of nursing my broken nails back to a decent length and condition, I can finally start painting them again. It probably did me good to have a break from weekly manicures to enjoy an overload of nail treatments but I’m also excited for a bit of colour again.

One of my favourite podcasts (which is coming back for a second series soon) is Lena Dunham’s ‘Women Of The Hour’, a feminist chat with a variety of women on issues such as friendship, work and body image. On her thumbnail, Lena has a really cool manicure so I decided to try and replicate it this week.


My Mum has just come back from Spain and as well as a bottle of tequila, she bought me a new nude nail varnish from a Spanish pharmacy which I was keen to try out. I’m not sure of the brand or colour, but I really like the colour and the brush was so thick it made it really easy to apply.


After two coats of the nail varnish, I grabbed this navy shade by ELF and a nail dotter to create a polka dot at the centre of each nail bed.

This is a very simple yet effective manicure that I am keen to try again with different colours.


Sunday Summary #43


I have one more week of term left which means a mad rush to fit everything in then we are off to Boston! If you are a regular reader of this blog then you will know my love for visiting America. I haven’t been to Boston before so am planning to fit in as much as possible and have spent a chunk of today booking us in for various things and, of course, finding the best place for East Coast chowder and lobster rolls!

Ian and I have been enjoying Scandi dramas a lot lately. We are watching The Bridge and also watched the film ‘The Keeper of Lost Causes’ last night which was great…any other recommendations?


I’m a real grazer so always looking for new snacks, especially healthy ones. Now these aren’t perfect but they are a bit better for you than crisps and taste delicious.


We had a really disappointing dinner out this week at the newly renovated Dandy Lion in Bradford on Avon. I don’t like to bash local businesses but this was slow service, coupled with a really bad burger and I won’t be revisiting to make the same mistake twice.



I bought a new pair of boots for this Autumn/ Winter. These black leather ankle boot have  cool tassle on side to add a bit of detail and look good with jeans or tights and a dress.


There are so many nice knitted jumpers around at the moment and I opted for this leopard print number from H&M. it is heavy enough to keep you warm, has a nice zip detail at the back and is a cool, loose boxy shape so looks great with a pair of black skinny jeans…I love it!


My nails are finally getting back to a decent length and condition so I decided to indulge in a bit of nail art. I spotted this nude and navy spotted look on Lena Dunham and am really pleased with how they turned out.


Finally, I have been using this Lancome duo this week and both are lovely. The serum is quite a wet formula but feels very hydrating. The moisturiser however is the real star. I think it is aimed at slightly more mature skin than mine but it leaves my face feeling as smooth as if I had applied a primer and my foundation sits well on it. I may keep an eye open for this at Duty Free next week…


Bristol Fashion Week Freebies

I know Monday is usually dedicated to a nails post but mine are in such a sorry state at the moment. I broke two of my nails during my 5K run a few weeks ago and they are only just starting to properly grow again.

In the meantime, I thought I would share the goodie bag I got at Bristol Fashion Week. I have to say that the fashion show was such good value for money. It was £9 and we got drinks and nibbles for the show, an excellent 45 minute catwalk presentation with several different looks and this goodie bag afterwards.

The bag itself is a handy tote that I will definitely use for my weekly shop.


Inside there was:

A Go Coco drink – I actually nabbed my Mum’s too as she doesn’t like Coconut water. I got a small banana shake drink and a big carton of plain coconut water.

A Lancome skincare duo consisting of a mini serum and moisturiser

A Specsavers glasses case and pen

A copy of John Lewis’style magazine


A sachet of toothpaste (a horrible way of packaging…what’s wrong with a tube?!)


A full-sized bottle of Ladival sun-tan lotion (a shame it’s such a low factor)

A mini packet of Jelly Belly beans


A Vichy foundation sample (which sadly looks a bit dark for me)


A mini Prada Candy fragrance

A La Roche-Posay eye cream


A Crunchie biscuit


I think my favourites are the edible items and the Lancome beauty bits…a nice little bag of swag!