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Latest Purchases #109 – A Huge Sephora Haul

This is a really long time coming but these are some of my favourite posts to read and watch online so I didn’t want my photos to go to waste.

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This little haul is from October when we went to Boston. I sent Ian back to the hotel and told him I would be some time and spent a lovely hour or so pottering around Sephora, testing things on the back of my hand, blagging some freebies and eventually making a few choice purchases.

First up, a set of the Sephora Cream Lip Stains. These are mini versions of their bestselling matte lip creams and I think you get a really nice selection of shades. I got Always Red, Infinite Rose, Blackberry Sorbet and Cherry Blossom (it’s fairly easy to work out which is which) and I think I have all bases covered from a deep, vampy berry, to a bright red, to a casual nude. I have a few other shades in full size and I really like them. They are slightly drying but the staying power is worth it.

I bought a Sephora Highlight Lowlight Face Contour Duo which is a chunky crayon, in the shade Light. I know contouring seems to have had its day now but, done with a light hand, is a great way to bring some subtle definition to your face…no crazy Kim K sculpting going on here. These shades really suit my skin tone too.

I really wanted to try the CC Cream from IT Cosmetics but they didn’t have my colour. I did however pick up the Bye Bye Under Eye Illumination, a brightening concealer for the under eye area.

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I am yet to try anything by Sunday Riley (it may have something to do with the price of some of the products!) but I picked up a miniature of Martian Mattifying Melting After-Gel Toner. This is an ‘essence’, a product currently taking the beauty world by storm, and looks a great post-cleansing boost which prepares your skin for foundation.

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I was relatively restrained with nail varnish and just picked up one bottle from Formula X. This monochrome nail topper in Chaotic is similar to a L’Oreal one I have almost used up and looks great over a variety of bases.

I bought a set from one of my favourite brands: First Aid Beauty. I have tried all three products inside this set and loved them all. The Ultra Repair Cream is wonderfully hydrating, the Face Cleanser is gentle yet effective in removing make-up and the Facial Radiance Pads tone and brighten with a wash of glycolic acid.

My two final products are both from the ‘Sephora Favourites’ set which I get really excited about! These are boxes filled with a collection of themed products and allow you to try a variety of brands and items for a really good price.

The first box I picked up was called Beauty Sleep and all the products were designed to be applied before bed and left to work their magic overnight. Inside was: Blue Moon Cleansing Balm from Sunday Riley, Sleep Tight Firming Night Balm from Farmacy, Splash Absolute Hydration Replenishing Sleeping Mask from Algenist, a Sephora Pearl Sleeping Mask, Cell Renewal Night Cream from Caudalie, a Wild Rose Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial by Korres and an Anti-aging Power Eye CreamAnti-aging Power Eye Cream from Origins. Phew!

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I am really excited to try the Sunday Riley balm as well as working my way through the various night creams and masks. Bought individually, these items would cost almost $120 but this box was just $30 which I think is excellent value.

Finally, I bought the Trending: Beauty’s Most Coveted box which contains all the products currently being raved about on beauty blogs and websites. A lot of these products are quite high-end and expensive so this was a great way to try them out for a fraction of the price.

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I received: a nude BeautyBlender, Becca’s Shimmering Skin Perfector in the shade Moonstone, Ka-Brow from Benefit, a Luna Play from Foreo (a facial cleansing brush in case you were wondering!), an Urban Decay lipstick in the shade 714, a GlamGlow SuperMud Clearing Treatment, a NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in the shade Custard, a bottle of Tarte’s Rainforest of the Seas Marine Boosting 4-in-1 Mist, The Edgiest Kohl Shadowstick in Black Viper by The Estee Edit, another of the Kat Von D Tattoo Liners in Trooper, a Cover FX highlighter stick in the shade Bubbly, and a pot of Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder (plus  powder puff).

The sample sizes are really good and I can’t describe how excited I am to try some of these products! I have been wanting to try the Becca highlighter, the NARS concealer and the Laura Mercier powder for such a long time but never seemed to get around to buying them.

I had no idea what the Luna Play was beforehand but am intrigued to give that a go too as well as trying out the GlamGlow mask which I have only heard amazing things about.

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The only downside to one of these sets is the colour selection. Both the Benefit brow product and the NARS concealer are a touch too dark for me. I can still use them both (maybe with a tan!) but they wouldn’t be my first choice of shades.

So, I did get a bit spend-happy but I am so pleased with everything I bought, especially the two ‘Sephora Favourites’ boxes. Now to start trying everything out and hopefully finding a few new favourites!

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2016 – The Year of Travel

Rather than write a month-by-month account of this year like I did in 2015 and 2014, I decided to focus on one aspect of this year I have loved…travelling.

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Ian and I have been lucky enough to have several exciting holidays this year and all of them hold really special memories from dancing in a Russian nightclub at 1am to drinking mojitos on the streets of Havana to zip-lining through the Jamaican rainforest to sailing around Boston Harbour in the sunshine!

UK

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Not all of our trips have been abroad this year – I love exploring the UK just as much. We had several fun trips to London in 2016 (my favourite being for New Year’s Eve when we went to watch ‘Wicked’), took a mini-break in Wells, went camping in Tewkesbury and celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary on the beach in Devon

Cuba

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Probably my favourite destination of the year, the days we spent in Havana were amazing. I have wanted to visit Cuba ever since I studied Caribbean Literature at university and it was such a fascinating trip. We wandered the streets drinking mojitos and daiquiris and admired the beautiful classic cars cruising along. I am desperate to return.

Jamaica

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We spent a day here and it was as cool and as chilled-out as I was hoping. We went through the rainforest on zip-wires before enjoying jerk chicken and Red Stripe beers on the beach.

Grand Cayman

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An interesting place to visit and a beautiful destination for a beach holiday. I didn’t see much more than the beaches but we certainly had a lovely, relaxing day here dipping our feet in the Caribbean Sea.

Mexico

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We had a great tour of the island of Cozumel where we squeezed in a chocolate factory, the beach, tequila tasting, an artisan market and fish tacos and margaritas! It has pushed mainland Mexico to the top of my to-visit list.

France

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I spent a long weekend in a beautiful house for my best friend Cat’s hen weekend earlier this year. Maybe not the best-planned trip, but we enjoyed an awful lot of cheese, champagne, macarons and a day in Aix-en-Provence.

Berlin

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Ian and I had a mini-break here and experienced our first (and disastrous!) AirBNB. Despite a rocky start with our accommodation, we had a fab time exploring the city, stopping off at several beer gardens.

Sweden

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A couple of days in Stockholm have started off an obsession with the Scandi countries, somewhere I hadn’t really visited before. We didn’t have long here but did get to visit the Vasa Museum, eat cinnamon buns, wander through the Old Town and see a beautiful sunset.

Estonia

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I finally made it to Tallinn and it was as beautiful as I had hoped. Quaint, cobbled side streets, castles and lovely, old buildings, I really liked it here.

Russia

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I never thought I would be visiting Russia but we spent a day exploring St. Petersburg and I was really taken with it. It is a spectacular city, with vast, iconic buildings steeped in Russian history. We managed to see most of it plus a good amount of people watching on the main street through the city, the highlight being the stunning Saviour of the Spilled Blood Cathedral.

Finland

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I absolutely loved Helsinki. We stumbled upon several small markets and wandered along the port. I fell in love with the interior shops and am determined to return and savour some of the local restaurants.

Boston

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Our final trip was a week in Boston. We love visiting the States and both really enjoyed Boston. It was a cool time of year to visit to experience Halloween and the run-up to the presidential elections and we managed to watch an ice-hockey and a baseball game as well as sampling a lot of lobster and local craft beers.

That was actually a really fun post to write as I love looking back through old photos and remembering when and where they were taken. I really do believe that travel broadens the mind and money spent on adventures and experiences is never wasted. Here’s hoping for many more escapades in 2017! xxx

Latest Purchases #101 – US Drugstore Haul

The pound-dollar exchange rate was pretty poor when we were in Boston (thanks Brexit!) so we didn’t do a whole lot of shopping. I tried to only buy things that we couldn’t get in the UK and one afternoon, I had a browse around our local CVS store and came away with this little pile of goodies.

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First up, the base products. I am always on the hunt for a new foundation and I got these two from the Maybelline ‘Fit Me’ range. I went for the Dewy and Smooth and the Matte and Poreless foundations which cater for dry to oily skin. I have tried both and like them but I don’t like the fact that you have to pour the product out – I would much prefer a pump.

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I also bought this BB Cream from ELF. I liked the fact this had SPF 20 in it and will be great for those days where you just want to wear a light base. This also has a pump in the lid!

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Another ELF face product was this Illuminating Face Primer. This is very golden and definitely needs a light touch! You could actually use this as a highlighter on the cheekbones or, as it recommends, mix a little into your foundation for a bit of extra glow.

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Onto lip products now and with the colder weather, mine are already suffering! I really like the EOS lip balms and I bought the Blackberry Nectar flavour.

I also picked up a bumper pack of Carmex lip balms in Cherry and Winter Mint flavours which should keep my chapped lips at bay.

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I bought a new Maybelline mascara. I have used their Great Lash version for years but haven’t seen the Blackest Black colour before.

I also got an ELF mascara with a regular and waterproof end.

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I broke my spending ban on nail varnish with a new bottle from Essie. Metallic nails seem to be having a moment and I love this shade, Good as Gold…expect a post on Monday!

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I am a fan of the Milani blushers and picked up another one in the colour Berry Amore. This is a dusky pink shade baked with swirls of gold.

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Also from Milani is this Color Statement Lipstick in Teddy Bare. I don’t have a colour like this dark nude and I think it is quite seasonal. I have tried it a few times and it is creamy, well-pigmented and smells like watermelon.

From ELF, I bought a Matte Lip Colour in Tea Rose. It isn’t a drying matte formula and I like the long, thin ‘pen’ it comes in.

I think I was having a bit of a moment by the ELF stand as I also got an eyebrow kit. This is a gel and powder duo which I haven’t used before but will enjoy experimenting with!

Finally, I bought a Maybelline Color Tattoo cream eye shadow in Bad to the Bronze. This is quite a warm, taupe bronze as opposed to an orange-toned one and the pigmentation and staying power is excellent. I wear these eye shadows on their own or as a base colour and they don’t crease like many other cream products.

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I was really happy unpacking this selection of items and now comes the fun bit of testing them all out!

Travel Diaries – A Week in Boston (Part Two)

Day Four

Our fourth day in Boston started with my first ever cronut! Man, this was delicious.

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We got the train to Salem which was about 40 minutes away. I have to say that we were both kind of disappointed by it. You would think that Salem, a place renowned for its spooky heritage, would be great around Halloween but it was all a bit try-hard and tired. There were some street performances which were fun to see and the graveyard and memorial sites were interesting but there were too many witch museums and haunted houses – all claiming to be the original/ scariest/ most authentic.

We had a walk along the coast before visiting Salem Beer Works. Here we did two beer flights, working our way through some East coast beers and some seasonal specials. I had a delicious cinnamon beer and a fruity one with real blueberries floating in it. I think there was a fairground and parade that opened in the evenings in Salem which may have been better to see.

After returning to the city, we found a bar to watch the Liverpool game then headed to TD Garden for our first ever ice hockey game. We were watching the Boston Bruins who are meant to be quite good but ended up losing. However I was happy as we got to see a fight within the first few minutes followed by regular scuffles throughout the game!

Day 5

The next morning, we were up and out early for a tour of Sam Adams craft brewery…yep drinking before 10am! This was a great little tour where we found out a bit about how the brewery started and worked our way through some samples.

Afterwards we got the T to Chinatown and had the best lunch. We ordered a Mongolian hotpot which came in a split bowl filled with two different types of stock, placed on an electric hob on the table. Separately, we had plates of fresh vegetables, raw prawns and beef, cooked rice and some noodles which you drop into the stock and allow to cook. This was a bit messy but a really fun lunch!

We did a spot of shopping that afternoon then headed back to TD Garden, this time to watch Boston Celtics. This was our first basketball game and it was really fun. There was a bit more atmosphere than the previous night (and it wasn’t as cold!) and we won too! We also had free t-shirts as it was the first game of the season.

Day 6

Our last full day started with a big walk along the river. We had some lovely  views of the city and wandered down Charles Street to Boston Common to enjoy pumpkin-spiced lattes in the park surrounded by squirrels.

We decided to have a final blow-out seafood lunch and I had read good things about The Barking Crab. We started with clams and prawns in garlic butter then I had a lobster roll and Ian had a mixed seafood platter. You really do have to indulge in seafood in Boston – it was so fresh and tasty.

I had been building up to a Sephora visit so I sent Ian back to the hotel and indulged in an hour of me-time, coming away with quite a hefty bag which I will share soon!

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For our last night, I had booked us tickets to ‘Rise of the Jack ‘o’ Lanterns’: an art exhibition made entirely of carved pumpkins. We went out for Mexican first then headed to the show.

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It was really amazing to see the skill involved and the exhibition took place in a darkened room which really added to the atmosphere – I took a lot of photos…

Day 7

We were travelling home today so spent the morning packing before a trip to the Boston Public Library. This is such a beautiful building and it had a really cool map exhibition too.

We had our final meal at 5 Napkins Burgers where I had one of the tastiest burgers of my life topped with smoked onion and rosemary relish and melted gruyere cheese…wow!

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I don’t feel I can write about a trip to America without mentioning the result of the elections this week. In the UK, Trump was presented as a total buffoon with Hillary as the voice of reason but when we were in the States, the constant adverts on TV painted a very different picture with Trump being a ‘true American’ whereas Hillary was a ‘criminal’ following the email scandal. Ian and I even remarked that it looked like quite an even race between the two of them which is why I wasn’t totally surprised at the result.

However, that isn’t to say that I am not completely gutted at the result either. I hope Trump has enough skilled, sensible and experienced people around him to keep him in check but bigger than that is the message of sexism, racism and homophobia that I feel has triumphed. Polls have shown that young Americans mostly voted in favour of Hillary so you can only hope this is just a four year blip in the history of a country that I truly love to visit.

Sunday Summary #44 and #45

Life

I’m back after a packed week in Boston! We had such a good time there and I am already writing up some blog posts from the trip and reliving the food and fun times. A big thank you to my parents who popped up while we were away and finished laying the tiles in our porch, put fresh sheets on the bed, left flowers and a huge vat of homemade soup for us…just what you want after a night of no sleep! It is back to reality today though as I am back to work tomorrow (no idea how I am going to get up in the morning #jetlag) and need to unpack but first, my Sunday Summary from the past two weeks.

Finally, the new series of Black Mirror is here! Ian and I love this show and it is such a cutting, dark look at society today. So far, we have seen the first three episodes and cannot wait to watch more.

I just can’t sleep on an aeroplane so I tend to binge-watch films. On this trip I managed to watch six: Finding Dory, The Shallows, The Boss, Money Monster, The Jungle Book and the new Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. I mostly picked easy-to-watch/ children’s films but Money Monster was really good (and has George Clooney in!)

Sadly I missed the final of GBBO but have now caught up and had a little cry when Candice won. I’m also still enjoying The Apprentice too.

Food

I have most definitely indulged this week! America just goes so over the top for Autumn and put pumpkin and spices in everything…beer, doughnuts, cheesecake, pancakes.

Ian bought me a bottle of the new Pumpkin-spiced Baileys which I have enjoyed on ice, in coffee and as a milkshake. If you like the Starbucks drink, you will love this.

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You can’t go to Boston and not indulge in seafood. We had great clam chowder and lobster when we were away which we just don’t really do in the UK.

We visited a couple of breweries in America and enjoyed some lovely craft beers. My favourites were a pumpkin-spiced beer from the Octoberfest beer festival we visited and a blueberry wheat beer from Salem Beer Works which came with a handful of fresh blueberries floating in it.

Finally, I tried my first ever cronut and it was goooooooood!

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Fashion

While we had lovely, sunny weather in Boston, there was a definite chill in the air so I lived in my ASOS parker, my tartan scarf (River Island) and my Wolf Academy beanie hat.

I have been looking at leather backpacks for ages and finally bought one when we were away. I like that it is practical yet still smart and I think it will be great for future city breaks.

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Beauty

I did my first autumnal manicure using this lovely deep, berry shade from Nails Inc which actually lasted the whole week with only one chip.

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I suffer with dry skin after a flight so I decided to try and combat that by slathering my skin in Weleda’s Skin Food which I love. I am adamant it smells just like gin and tonic but it really works and gives your skin a real moisture boost.

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I also gave myself a mini facial when I got home yesterday using REN’s Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask which I find revitalises dull, tired skin.

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Finally, one of my highlights of our trip was a visit to Sephora. I actually went twice as got so overwhelmed the first time I left with nothing! I did get a bit spendy but I had budgeted for a few treats and will share them soon! Sidenote – I know we are meant to be getting Sephora in the UK soon and I kind of have mixed feelings about it. Yes, it will be great to have all the brands here but it will take away that excitement you get at visiting a store when on holiday.

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Mani Monday –Pink Glitter Tips

I’ve got an interesting juxtaposition going on right now as I’m writing about pink nails whilst watching England play and drinking a beer…I like it!

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This week, I have been having a bit of clear out and I found a Wet ‘n’ Wild nail varnish I bought in the States last summer that I hadn’t got around to using yet. I don’t think I’ve tried a nail polish from this brand before although I’m also not quite certain what possessed me to pick up this Barbie pink shade as it is not my usual style.

I bought the shade Candy-licious/ Rose bonbon (not too sure why it has two names!) which is a creamy bubblegum pink. I love the thick brush this has which makes for really quick easy application. The quality was good too – I used three thin coats but probably could have got away with two.

This formula has a really glossy finish and the colour is quite striking. I wanted to add a little something so decided to add some graduated glitter tips using Essie’s A Cut Above. This rose-pink glitter is a favourite of mine and I like the fact it has large and small glitter pieces.

This is a tad bright for me if I’m honest but I like the colour and formula so think I’ll probably just wear it on my toes in the future. It would look great with a tan! x

 

2015

On the final day of 2015, it feels only right to look back at the year gone by before starting afresh tomorrow!

January

Ian and I had a low-key start to the year at home, drinking cocktails and watching Jools Holland before a brisk New Year’s Day walk.

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I started my ‘Sunday Catch-up’ series on my blog to round up my week as well as sharing my current favourite books, TV shows and podcasts. I also started writing in my 5-year journal.

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In the kitchen, I made a pearl barley risotto, parma violet cupcakes and held a pitta pizza party!

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Finally, I celebrated 11 years with Ian and we booked our summer holiday to America…a good start to the year!

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February

February saw one of my most stressful weeks at work after getting ‘the call’ and Ian completed the Bath half marathon.

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We treated ourselves to a weekend away and managed to fit in a trip to Windsor Castle and a meal at Heston Blumenthal’s pub, The Hind’s Head in Bray, where I had the most beautiful gin and tonic I have ever seen!

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At home, I finished tweaking our new drinks trolley and cooked a salmon quiche, coca cola cupcakes and some chocolate cherry cheesecake brownies.

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March

In March, we ploughed on with the last few rooms in our house that needed decorating and I painted our spare bedroom.

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Ian and I enjoyed a fantastic 5 course tasting menu at a local pub and went on some more country walks.

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We headed to London too to celebrate our friend’s 30th with afternoon tea.

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I got a bit obsessed reading Alexander McCall Smith’s books and made some noodle soup, more quiche and ravioli from scratch.

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April

It started to warm up in April and we enjoyed our first drinks sat outside.

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I carried on with some home improvements, putting up new blinds, buying rugs and painting my window frame the brightest yellow I could find! I also got a bit obsessed with Lily Flame candles.

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We had a great time at a German beer festival at Alexandra Palace, enjoyed cocktails and schnitzels at Boopshi’s and a great meal at Wahaca.

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At home, I perfected my ‘Carluccio’s Pasta’, experimented with overnight oats and quinoa and made a very Instagram-worthy chorizo and kale hash.

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May

May was a jam-packed month!

I visited Kilver Court with my parents, Hampton Court with my school and Liverpool for a family party.

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To celebrate the year we all turned 30, my best friends and I treated ourselves to a spa day.

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I discovered two of my favourite foundations and enjoyed picnics and pizza dates.

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In the kitchen I made a raw salad, baked mini Victorian sponges, tried nasi goreng and perfected arancini balls.

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June

One of my highlights this year was a surprise weekend away in Manchester to see one of my al-time favourite bands, The Movielife. We ate Mexican food, drank cocktails and danced away reliving our teenage years!

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I went sugar-free for a week which was interesting but a real challenge.

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We helped out at our village fete and celebrated with my best friend as she turned 30 on a boat!

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Ian and I also added some vintage finds to our home and I cooked fish tacos and sugar-free banana pancakes.

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July

July was spent celebrating more birthdays and enjoying a comedy festival.

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Ian and I set off to New York to begin our American road trip. We loved our 5 days in NYC and did loads! I turned 30 too!

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August

My favourite month of the year! We spent the first two weeks in America travelling through New York, Atlantic City, Philadelphia and Washington DC. It was an incredible fortnight and we will have fond memories of it for years to come.

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As well as our holiday, we did a spot of dog-sitting, I went to watch Bristol City play with my bestie and visited Banksy’s Dismaland.

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I had plenty of time to potter about in the kitchen and made Sicilian sardine pasta, chowder, peanut butter bites, spiced chickpeas, coca cola chicken and a white chocolate chai tea loaf.

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September

I wrote about my ways to avoid the back-to-work blues as my summer holidays came to an end.

Ian and I went to Bath Chili festival, enjoyed a bonfire, spent the day at a beer festival to celebrate his birthday and had a brilliant time at Go Ape.

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On my blog, I wrote a set of Travel Guides for the American cities we visited and at home I cooked a chickpea stew, a chicken couscous salad, a prawn risotto, bakewell cupcakes and my best ever sandwich.

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October

In October, Ian and I ate at the new Burger and Lobster restaurant in Bath, had our last BBQ of the summer, went to watch Avenue Q and enjoyed a seasonal tasting menu at our local pub.

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I went for facials with my friend Cat then met friends in London for 2015 Stylist Live. In less fun news, I had root canal treatment too!

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At home, I made pumpkin pies, a sausage and beer casserole and some chocolate and cherry flapjacks.

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November

In November, Ian and I joined the gym amd are trying to keep it up. I went to Cambridge for my annual Thanksgiving with my uni friends.

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We went to see Josh Widdicombe and Chris Ramsey live and on the blog I shared our front garden makeover.

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December

A funny month this year and not filled with my usual festive posts. I made Ian an ale advent calendar and enjoyed Ciate’s latest offering.

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We had lovely Christmases with both of our families, eating great food, drinking too much and opening some wonderful gifts.

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And so another annual round-up comes to an end. I think my highlight would definitely be our America trip this summer but keeping a blog really does help you remember all those other moments that made 2015 a really good year.

Whatever your plans, have a lovely New Year’s Eve and a great start to 2016! x