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Beauty Review – April Birchbox

Hello and Happy Saturday! It’s a sunny one and I was up and out on a run this morning to start the day. I have really been trying to get back into running lately as not only does it burn a few pounds but I just love how awake and energised I feel running through the country lanes with the sun on my face…I’ve even managed a few 6am pre-work runs this week which I never thought would happen!

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I arrived home to find this month’s Birchbox waiting for me on my porch which was a lovely surprise as I had forgotten it was coming. After a couple of average boxes in recent months, I am pleased to report that things are back on track and I think this is a really great box. I love the pink and rose gold box that this month’s goodies arrived in too! Here was my first peek at the contents:

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Now before I get into the products, I am going to have a moan about this week’s theme: ‘Royally Good’. I was slightly distracted by the beautiful pink and mint green design and thought this was a celebration of Britishness. Yet, when I had a read through the cards, I realised that the whole box was dedicated to the second royal baby?!?!

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Yes, apparently we are at fever pitch waiting for the new royal arrival so all products are introduced with the word throne/ rule/ crown/ queen thrown in for good measure. I guess this could all be seen as a bit of fun but the article that really annoyed me was the one that gave us an insight into what we could do if we were queen for a day which included lie-ins, pancakes, chocolate and a ‘pamper sesh’…hardly the most inspiring message for independent women!

Anyway, I have to admit that the reason I subscribe to Birchbox is not the for the accompanying literature but the products inside so here is what I received.

A Laura Mercier Foundation Primer. This is the third one I own and I love this item. It is a perfect base for my make-up and a cult product from a great brand.

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Next, a Bergamot Pear Body Milk by Korres. I love their skin products and think their scents are always a little bit different from what else is on the market. This is going in my travel bag for the summer.

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A foaming face wash next from Bliss. This looks like it will do a good job but I am quite wary of anything foaming as it is usually very drying. I think when I try this I will have to make sure I slather on some moisturisers afterwards.

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I am quite into a hair and skin mask treat on Sunday evenings at the moment and these single sachets are always fun to try out. I received a warming clay mask from Befine with cardamom, arnica and pomegranate. I have a few pomegranate products, which is a great antioxidant, and my skin seems to like them.

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A hair product next – Percy and Reed’s Smoothed, Sealed and Sensational Volumising No Oil Oil. A bit of a mouthful but an interesting product nonetheless! I quite like hair oils and while I don’t need any more volume in my locks, anything that can help tame the frizz is always welcome!

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Finally, a nail varnish which made me very happy! From Lola Barcelona I received a gorgeous coral shade in Rambla which brings back very happy memories of strolling down La Rambla on holiday in this city. I couldn’t wait to try this brand out so popped the polish on my toes. It wasn’t the best formula upon application and I needed three coats for full coverage but it has dried to a lovely glossy finish and looks great. I feel this is a great summer shade to wear with a tan.

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So despite a rather naff theme this month, I love April’s Birchbox. There isn’t one product I’m not excited to use and I have some welcome additions to my travel make-up bag for our July/August holiday! x

Recipe – Overnight Oats

So I have become one of those non-dairy, Kilner jar-using, superfood-eating people who prepares breakfast the night before and spends a small fortune on trendy seeds….£8 bag of chia seeds, I’m looking at you!

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In all seriousness, it isn’t as bad as it sounds. Weirdly, spending 5 minutes each evening sorting out my breakfast means my mornings are less stressful and I know I’m starting the day with something really healthy and filling. Overnight Oats are basically just porridge which soaks up the milk or liquid overnight and is served chilled with a shedload of fruit, nuts and seeds.

Ingredients

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My daily breakfast has an ever changing list of ingredients but the basics stay the same and I use a small cup to measure my oats out with double the amount of milk.

1 cup of oats (use chunky or steel-cut oats)

2 cups of milk (I love using almond milk for this)

A teaspoon of chia seeds

Frozen berries (blueberries and cherries are my favourites!)

Seeds (I’m currently using a mix of linseed, goji berries, sunflower and pumpkin seeds)

Nuts (I had a bag of mixed nuts in my baking drawer)

Flaked almonds

How to make it

  • In a bowl, jar or lunchbox, add the oats, milk and chia seeds

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  • Give them a stir and tip over a handful of frozen berries

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  • Pop this in the fridge overnight

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  • The next morning, give it another stir, add the seeds, nuts and top with flaked almonds

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Variations

The flavour combinations are endless here! I have been experimenting for the last few weeks and here are some winners:

  • A teaspoon of vanilla extract

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  • A drizzle of syrup, honey or dulce de leche on top

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  • Fresh mango

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  • Choc chips
  • Bananas

Any other recommendations for how to jazz up my oats? x

This Week’s Nails – Purple Dotticure

Ahhhh the sun has been shining all week and it has put me in such a good mood! I spent the afternoon outside with my class today and it was lovely to get some good old Vitamin D. I even managed a run after work today as the sun was setting…beautiful.

Today I wanted to share my latest piece of nail art – the dotticure. A fun look that can be achieved with some polishes and a dotting tool.

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I decided to go for a neutral base using one of my favourite nude nail varnishes – Lychee from the Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine range. I love this polish and would quite happily wear it alone.

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I decided to go with a purple theme going in a gradient from dark to light. I used Ultra Violet from Primark, Prickly Pear another Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine polish and Go Ginza by Essie.

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You can dip you dotting tool straight into the bottle but I prefer to dab some onto a piece of paper first.

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I started off with my darkest colour and did two rows loosely following the curve of my cuticles.

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I used Prickly Pear next to do one to two rows depending on how long my nails were.

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Finally, I finished off with my lightest shade and a layer of my Calvin Klein  Splendid Glaze topcoat.

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I really like this look and am keen to try a mint green version soon.

Room Revamps

My recent post on my new yellow wall (read it here) got me thinking about quick room revamps. You know, an piece of furniture, some artwork or a splash of paint that can give a room a new lease of life.

Whilst researching colour scheme and furniture for our newly decorated guest bedroom, I couldn’t help finding things for other rooms so thought I would share a few items.

A new rug can make a real statement in a room. I am growing fond of chevron and geometric print rugs and when I found this lovely grey and white one, I knew it would be perfect for our living room. The muted colours mean the pattern is not too loud but I think it is still a statement piece when you walk in to the room.

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We have recently had new neighbours move in which has given me a kick up the arse to get some blinds fitted in our kitchen and upstairs landing…it only took us three years!

I love the look of wooden blinds but didn’t want to lose any light in these two rooms and I’m not a fan of net curtains either. I think these William Morris inspired blinds are the perfect compromise. They are ‘semi-privacy’ blinds so offer just enough privacy without losing any sunlight. I really like the pattern on these and plan to have these fitted in our bedroom too.

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Two simple room additions that have completely transformed the spaces! x

Recipe – Chorizo and Kale Hash

This is a dish I created recently that brings together some of my favourite foodie items. I am a huge chorizo fan and am a firm believer that a fried egg makes most meals better! Add a big helping of guacamole and I am in food heaven.

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This is quite a brunch-style dish but we have enjoyed it for dinner. In fact, I’m cooking it again tonight and am tweaking the recipe slightly to see what it is like with sweet instead of new potatoes – I’m guessing it will be just as delicious!

I haven’t been too strict with amounts in this recipe – partly through laziness and partly because it’s a throw-it-in-a-pan dish and cannot imagine anyone weighing out potatoes and kale! The below amounts served two greedy people.

Ingredients

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About half a bag of new potatoes, quartered

A glug of olive oil

One red onion, chopped

Half a ring of chorizo, halved and sliced

2-3 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped

Salt and pepper

Paprika

About 100g (or a good handful) of kale with the stems removed and roughly shredded

Two eggs, fried

One serving of my guacamole

A sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

How to make it

  • Parboil your potatoes until they are just cooked then drain and set to one side
  • Heat the oil in your pan over a medium heat and add the onion, chorizo and bacon

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  • Light fry for about 10 minutes until the chorizo releases its lovely oils
  • Add the potatoes and cook for another few minutes
  • Season well and sprinkle over a generous helping of paprika – I think I also threw in a spring onion I had hanging around in the fridge

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  • Add the kale and cook for another 5 minutes until the kale has wilted and everything else is starting to crisp up

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  • Fry your eggs in a separate pan
  • Serve the chorizo hash with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and an egg  on top, with a generous helping of guacamole on the side

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My new favourite mid-week meal! x

Sunday Catch-up #15

Why is that holidays always seem to fly by so much quicker than a normal working week?! After a very busy Easter weekend, this week has been much more productive. I have been glued to my laptop getting work done and cooking up a storm in my kitchen. I am back to work on Monday so enjoying my last day of ‘freedom’!

This week I have been…

Making: a big jar of overnight oats with chia

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Going: to get my hair cut and coloured

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Wearing: sunglasses, finally!

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Eating: my lunch outside on the picnic bench

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Drinking: Brooklyn Beer

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Reading: the next instalment in ‘The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency’ series

Watching: the recap programme on Game of Thrones to refresh my memory ready for the new series

Buying: these beautiful copper lamps

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Planning: our weekends for the next few months

Cooking: a delicious chorizo and kale hash

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Baking: nothing this week :-(

Writing: non-stop…blog posts, reports, lesson plans, proposals, research notes

Favouriting: this eyeshadow eyeliner tutorial…a really subtle way to wear a flick

Working on: putting the finishing touches to our guest bedroom

Trying to decide: if it’s warm enough for a BBQ lunch today (I don’t think so but Ian is determined!)

Wishing: I had discovered this flavour earlier

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Enjoying: how bright my new yellow wall is when the sun shines on it!

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Needing: some pamper time with my girlfriends so we have booked a spa day for a few weekends time – lunch, facials, massages….we cannot wait!

Feeling: very pleased with myself after creating a near-perfect dupe for my favourite pasta dish

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Giggling at: the little dog down the road who keeps escaping and trots off along the road on its own adventures!

Restaurant Review – Wahaca, Islington

I have eaten in a couple of Wahaca restaurants now (and bought the cookbooks!) but I don’t think I have ever done a proper blog review so here is an ode to my favourite Mexican restaurant. It’s not a cuisine that we have very easy access to (the nearest decent Mexican restaurant to us is in Bristol) but one that I love…tacos, nachos, guacamole, pulled pork, margaritas – I love it all!

When I was in London recently with friends, we were going to try out Five Guys but when we saw a Wahaca next door, we quickly changed our minds!

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The brainchild of Thomasina Miers, Wahaca serves Mexican market food with the option of small plates to share or something a bit heartier. The thing that always impresses me is how fresh and vibrant everything tastes and the specials are constantly changing with the seasons.

We started off with cocktails and guacamole – my hibiscus margarita was great!

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Unable to choose just one dish, I went for some sharing options with Ian and my friend Hannah.  My highlights included:

Crisp quesadillas

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The most delicious fish tacos

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Sweet potato and feta taquitos

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Pork pibil tacos

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All utterly delicious and a great selection for vegetarians too…I can’t wait for my next visit! x

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