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Sunday Catch-up #43

Hello and Happy Sunday! I went back to work this week and the dark nights are closing in. I don’t mind too much though as I had a great time at a fireworks display, started Pilates again after a month off and later today Ian and I are off to watch Josh Widdicombe and grab a spot of dinner.

This week I have been…

Making: better use of my time

Going: to watch Josh Widdicombe live (tonight!)

Wearing: black tights…my winter essential

Eating: a delicious steak dinner (with a side order of mac ‘n’ cheese!)

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Drinking: dessert wine with my salted caramel pudding

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Reading: the final draft of my essay…it’s done!

Watching: American Horror Story – we finished Narcos (amazing series!!!) and so far we’re not that convinced by AHS

Buying: some treats from Birchbox

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Planning: some healthy meals for the week ahead

Cooking: a delicious chorizo, cherry tomato and spinach omelette for my breakfast yesterday

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Baking: nothing so far but I plan on trying out a toffee apple crumble recipe later this week

Writing: blog posts

Favouriting: this amazing video from Lisa Eldridge about make-up through the ages

Working on: clearing out our spare bedroom

Trying to decide: what colour to paint my nails today

Wishing: the rain would stop

Enjoying: firework displays

Needing: more candles!

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Feeling: well rested after two lazy lie-ins this weekend

Giggling at: how much this guy needs his coffee in the morning!

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Latest Purchases #92 – A Birchbox Haul

I was looking to up my skincare routine now that the weather is getting colder and the heating is on. I suffer from quite dry skin in the winter so looked to the Birchbox website for a couple of new items to try out. Of course, my search for skincare soon led to other things and before I knew it, a large box had arrived on my doorstep full of goodies, followed by a second order using the free shopping points I had earned from the first one!

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First up, the two items I actually needed: moisturising cream.

I bought this jar of Aquaporin Plus by Bluemandarínes, a 24-hour hydrating cream. I always think a glass jar adds a little bit of luxury and this cream is rich yet sinks into the skin quickly and has a beautiful, delicate floral scent. I think this would work as a day or night cream.

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I also picked up a jar of Melting Moisturising Cream by Akane. Upon further reading, this brand uses the Akane red apple tree from Japan which has antioxidant properties and is perfect for normal to dehydrated skin. Whilst also quite a thick, rich cream, this has an almost matte finish which I think makes it perfect for use in the morning before makeup.

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On the few occasions that I wear my hair straight, I have been struggling with some fine, wispy pieces of hair that seem to want to curl up again so I was after some light hairspray that would hold these flyaway hairs down without a heavy, sticky feeling. Montibel·lo is a good haircare brand and I bought their Flexible Hold Finishing Spray. It sounds like exactly what I’m looking for and this huge bottle should last me a while!

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I really like the brand Weleda and their all-natural approach but I had a few hit and miss products from them this time. The one I loved was the Wild Rose Creamy Body Wash which smells amazing and is just a really lovely shower gel.

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I also picked up the Oat Replenishing Shampoo and Conditioner which I’m just not a fan of. The shampoo was fine and I will use that up but the conditioner was so thick and heavy and it left my hair really matted and unmanageable.

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Finally, I earned enough points to splurge on a luxury product I just love. At £28 for a little 30ml bottle it isn’t cheap but the Make Up Base by RMK is amazing. This milky formula sinks into the skin so quickly and leaves you with a soft, flawless base. I use this base with glowy and matte foundations and it really helps them last. I first tried this as a sample through Birchbox and it was only when it ran out that I realised how much I love it and it has actually replaced my silicone-based primers like Benefit POREfesstional as it feels much kinder to my skin.

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Overall, a pretty successful haul and I’m hoping my skin thanks me for it! x

Mani Monday – Nails Inc Stafford Street

A simple mint green manicure this week – a look I like to wear at any time of the year. I had wanted to try out the new Gel Effect formula from Nails Inc for a little while so bought the shade Stafford Street. It came in the new chunky style bottle although you can remove the wide lid and use the thinner inside lid for a steadier application. I really love the thick brushes that these new bottles have which mean less brush strokes when applying.

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This is a pale pastel mint-green colour that looks almost blue in some lights. I liked this colour so much I actually used it on my toes too.

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As expected for a Gel Effect product, it was quite a thick formula. The good thing about this was that it was very pigmented so I only needed to use two layers however the thickness meant that it dried very quickly so you have to act fast when applying it.

The finish of this nail varnish was great – really glossy and quick-drying. You could get away without a top coat but for longevity, it always helps to add one.

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Nails Inc offer many of their shades in the original or Gel Effect formula, so which would I go for? That’s a tough one because the finish and longevity of the Gel Effect is better but I did find the formula a little difficult to work with and prefer a less thick formula. There’s really not too much in it for me if I’m being honest!

Stylist Live 2015

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Months ago, one of my best friends Lucie messaged me asking if I fancied going to Stylist Live. I’m always up for a weekend in London with my girls so said yes and last weekend we took ourselves off to the Business Design Centre in Islington for the day.

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Upon arrival, we were handed our free tote bags by none other than Dawn O Porter and Edith Bowman (!) before grabbing a glass of free champers and exploring. The venue looked great with iconic Stylist covers hung from the ceiling. I have to admit that I’m not an avid reader of Stylist but I love the fact that their magazine incorporates so much more than just beauty and fashion such as food, art, travel, interior design and all this was reflected by the stalls and talks on offer.

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There were so many wonderful speakers over the four days that this event was on and in an ideal world, I would have liked to come every day! My friend Amy went before me and saw Caitlin Moran speak which I am very jealous about. (She wrote a great review on her blog too!)

We had tickets to see Nigella speak so headed straight there and enjoyed a talk on what food means to her, her take on the latest clean eating trends (just don’t mention juicing!) and there was  also a Q&A session.

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Afterwards, we decided to scope out the venue and stalls. There were beauty treatments and hair styling on offer, book signings, food stalls, make-up stands, gin tasting, candles, stationary, homeware…I was in heaven!

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I didn’t go too crazy but did try my very first Crosstown Doughnut (pumpkin and lemon – bloody delicious!), bought some beautiful Rituals foaming shower gel as well as this amazing goodie bag from Clarins.

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Priced at £20 for the event, I picked up a pretty coral leather make-up bag which contained some Pure Melt Cleansing Gel, a little pot of Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch, some Skin Perfecting BB Cream in 01 Light, a beautiful Blush Prodige in Soft Peach, a tube of Be Long Mascara in Intense Black and a tube of Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector in 01 Rose Shimmer. Along with this bag, I received lots of samples too.

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I am also considering signing up for this monthly postal service from Katie Leamon. This stall had the most beautiful cards, prints and stationary and it would be such a treat to get a monthly delivery full of goodies to use. It’s not that cheap but I love the idea of supporting a new designer so I may give the Christmas edition trial run.

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Around lunchtime the queues were huge for the food places in the venue so we decided to get some fresh air and head down the road to a lovely Spanish restaurant for some grub.

When we returned, we attended the fashion show which showed 5 autumnal fashion trends and was fascinating to watch. We had planned on attending a few more talks but these were in very small rooms and sadly filled up very quickly.

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Overall, I really enjoyed this event. There was a great mix on offer and I loved that there were talks and shows as well as the shopping aspect. As with all first-time events, there are improvements to be made – I would have more selection of places to eat and drink and also ensure the talks were hosted in larger rooms as they filled up too quickly. Would I go again? Yes – it was a lovely girly day out and I came away feeling very inspired and discovered some great new brands.

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Mani Monday – Nude and Rose Gold Glitter

We did it – we finally caved and put the heating on meaning the cosiness factor has doubled in our house! I admit I had a hot flush about an hour after we turned it on but I always think it signifies a turning point in the seasons.

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This week’s manicure is an old favourite teamed with a newbie (which may be my new favourite glitter polish.)

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I began with a couple of layers of Innocent by ELF. This is one of my favourite nudes and I think it really suits my skin tone.

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To add a bit of sparkle, I applied a couple of layers of a new Essie glitter polish. A Cut Above is from Essie’s ‘Luxeffects’ range and has a good mix of larger, hexagonal pieces mixed with smaller glitter pieces suspended in a clear polish. Described as a ‘pink diamond’ colour, this is a beautiful rose gold when applied and I think it looks great with a nude base.

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Sunday Catch-up #39

It has been a funny old week for me. I’ve spent a lot of it dosed up on painkillers and the rest of it feeling stressed and busy. We all have these weeks so I made sure to switch off this weekend as we spent it with Ian’s family. On the way home tonight we stopped off at the ‘Farm Shop’ service station near Gloucester which was amazing and what I think every motorway stop-off should be like…those cakes!

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This week I have been…

Making: a start on my Christmas shopping!

Going: to see Ian’s family this weekend

Wearing: tights and boots

Eating: soft foods after a very painful root canal treatment

Drinking: a cold root beer

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Reading: Cosmopolitan magazine for the first time in ages and thinking I prefer blogs now

Watching: the finals of GBBO and Doctor Foster…gripping stuff

Buying: some midi dresses from Boohoo

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Planning: my half term

Cooking: a trio of mini pies from the farm shop for dinner tonight

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Baking: dark chocolate and cherry flapjack

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Writing: more Instagram posts about pretty skies

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Favouriting: cuddles with this little guy

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Working on: my to-do list

Trying to decide: what series to start next now that we have finished Sons of Anarchy…we’re thinking of Narcos

Wishing: there were more hours in the day

Enjoying: soup season

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Needing: a good girlie weekend (roll on Saturday!)

Feeling: stressed and not liking it

Giggling at: the new Snapchat features!

Mani Monday – Geometric Nail Wraps

I have been looking forward to using these Sally Hansen nail wraps since I bought them in America this summer. I have heard that the staying power of these is great and I love the cool geometric black and white print.

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The design is actually called Pitter Pattern and the box comes with 16 strips, a cuticle stick and mini nail file. My nails are short enough that I can make one strip cover two nails so I get double my money’s worth with most sets of nail wraps!

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These were really simple to apply and tidy up using the nail file. I like the fact these little extras were included in the box.

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I decided to do a bit of a test and see if a layer of clear nail varnish would make these nail wraps last any longer. I applied a topcoat to my left hand and although it didn’t make a huge amount of difference, it was right hand that experienced a chip and a bit of peeling first but not until 6 days after application.

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The staying power of these Sally Hansen wraps are amazing and I am already eyeing up my next design to try out!

Beauty Review – September Birchbox

It cheered me up no end to come home and find the latest offerings from Birchbox waiting for me in my front porch. I have recently had a bit of a sort through all of my beauty products and I really do think the Birchbox items are some of the best.

This month, you could choose your box design as they had special ‘Birthday Boxes’ to mark Birchbox’s five year anniversary of starting in the States. I wasn’t too fussed about which box I got, but this balloon design is very cool.

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A product from Benefit is always a good inclusion for me! This time, it was a mini stick of the POREfessional: License to Blot. I use the primer from this range so will be interested to see if this oil-blotting stick is as good. This claims to mattify shine after application for up to 6 hours. I don’t have very oily skin but on warm days, I could probably use this.

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Next, a ‘Beauty Wash’ from Beauty Protector. This is just a shower gel which smells pleasant enough but definitely isn’t something to get too excited about.

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I also received a lemon and sage-scented body butter from Bliss which sounds lovely. I’ve used a face wash from this brand before so look forward to trying one of their bestselling products.

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I haven’t heard of John Master Organics before but this bottle of their citrus and neroli detangler looks and smells great. I do suffer from knots and tangles (#curlyhairproblems) so this sounds like it will be great for me.

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Whilst on the subject of hair, the ‘Beauty Bonus’ this month was a Birchbrush, their version of the Tangle Teezer. Now, I don’t actually brush my hair so won’t get any use from this but I’m sure I can find a friend to pass this onto.

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Finally, I received a Cheeky Lip Pencil in the shade Humble Brag by the brand Laqa & Co. One of my all-time favourite lip colours is from this brand so I was really pleased to get another product to try out. This pencil is for lips and cheeks, although I can see myself using it predominantly on my lips. It is a creamy, dusky pink when applied and finishes to a creamy matte.

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Not a bad month for Birchbox although when I saw it was a big birthday edition, I did have high hopes for something a bit more special. I think my favourite products are the lip pencil and the detangler but (with the exception of the hairbrush) the rest will definitely be added to my stash! x

Avoiding the Back-To-Work Blues

I’m sure at some point we have all felt the Sunday-night blues, especially after a really fun weekend with friends. Well, multiply that by about 20 and that is how a lot of teachers feel after the summer holidays…the struggle is real people!

Now, I should begin by saying that I absolutely love my job and the people I work with but I also love my time off so I spent this week feeling a weird mixture of excitement, dread and anticipation. After four days back in work, two with my new class, I can safely say that I am back in the swing of things but it made me think about what I do to avoid this feeling. I often joke with my friends about having the Sunday-night blues, so here are a few tips that work for me:

Food

Obviously, food would be mentioned! I like to spend Sundays getting myself ready for the week ahead. I usually go shopping, cook a big, tasty one-pot dish that will keep us going for a few nights, make up my breakfast for the next day (overnight oats is a fave) and a salad for lunch. It just means that I don’t have to rush around the next morning or worry about what we’re having for dinner. I made a chili con carne this week and we had it one night with rice, the next night as burritos and the final night as quesadillas.

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Exercise

Not everyone’s idea of fun or relaxing but there is something to be said for releasing those endorphins. A long walk (with a stop off at your local pub or coffee shop!), a run, a session at the gym or some at-home yoga or Pilates can work wonders for your mood.

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Pamper

I like to spend a good chunk of Sunday night treating myself to a bit of a pamper session. This can include a long bubble bath, face mask, hair mask, manicure, pedicure or a fake tanning session. Dedicate a bit of time to yourself to ensure you start the week feeling good.

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Sleep

A good night’s sleep is going to make everything seem a bit better on Monday morning. There’s nothing better than freshly-washed sheets for me and a comfy pair of pjs. Try to turn off your phone/ laptop and read before bed to really switch off.

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Diary Dates

Ensure you have something in the diary to look forward to if you feel a bit blue on a Sunday night. It could be a mid-week dinner date with your friend, a spa day, a cinema trip or a weekend away, but having a fun event on the horizon can be really motivating.

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Get Organised

Sometimes, I find that I worry because I think I have forgotten to do something. A simple to-do list, either on your phone or on some beautiful Paperchase stationary, does the trick for me. Even if my list is huge, having it all written down means I can prioritise and feel happy there isn’t a really important task I have missed.

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I hope that this post is useful as I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way from time to time. x

Hand Luggage Beauty

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I feel like I really got it right with my carry-on make-up bag on our recent trip to the States. My skin suffers on a longer flight and rather than spend the first few days of my holiday battling with parched skin, I decided to try a few in-flight treatments that meant I landed feeling fresh and ready to go.

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I used my Birchbox clear plastic bag as it meant I could see everything, it was small (so I couldn’t overpack!) and it met the airport security requirements.

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First up, handcare. I always carry a little bottle of anti-bacterial hand gel and the scented ones from Bath and Body Works are my favourite. To give a little moisture, I am currently loving this Subtle Violet hand cream from L’Occitane.

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In terms of skincare, I didn’t bring any sort of cleanser as we had an early morning flight and I wasn’t wearing any foundation or base product. During the flight, I applied several layers of REN’s Instant Firming Beauty Shot, a great little serum and I had a few blemishes, so used Balance Me’s Congested Skin Serum too. This Vitamin E Face Mist from the Body Shop is a must-have holiday product for me as it is amazing at administering a cooling, refreshing blast in the heat and I like to spritz my face after a few hours on the plane when the air starts to feel a bit stale. I also popped in a travel-sized bottle of Benefit’s Dream Screen so I had some SPF to hand when we landed in the sunshine.

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Finally, some lip products. I applied the Body Shop Lip Butter constantly and brought two lip options for when we landed – a L’Oreal nude lip and a Bourjois statement lip depending on how I felt.

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