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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

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Sunday Catch-up #42

It has been a really good week. Despite not going away this half term, I have managed to make the most of it and actually feel quite ready to go back to work and face the manic Christmas term!

This week I have been…

Making: the most of my last day off with a huge lie-in

Going: for facials and afternoon tea with my friend Cat

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Wearing: pyjamas all day today

Eating: a 7-course taster menu at our local pub

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Drinking: rum cocktails

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Reading: over my essay several times (and finding more and more mistakes!)

Watching: Suffragette at the cinema (excellent in my opinion)

Buying: make-up after discovering Bath’s new Kiko store

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Planning: my next week of lessons

Cooking: a lovely prawn pasta dish

Baking: nothing this week

Writing: my essay

Favouriting: all the tweets about Jose Mourinho

Working on: getting through all the podcasts on my phone

Trying to decide: which peanut butter doughnut to eat first!

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Wishing: I could keep my house tidier

Enjoying: eating at Wahaca twice this week…I cannot get enough of their sweet potato and feta taquitos!

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Needing: to make my overnight oats for breakfast tomorrow

Feeling: happy with my new hair cut

Giggling at: seeing James Acaster live

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Sunday Catch-up #41

A real week of two halves as half-term started mid-week for me. So far, I have enjoyed a couple of lie-ins, lots of life admin and a fair few episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. My parents are staying for a few days, I have a few essay days scheduled then my friend Cat arriving and a comedy gig, tasting menu and a facial to enjoy before work takes over again.

This week I have been…

Making: appointments for a Neals Yard Facial

Going: to a pub in Bath during a student pub crawl (note-to-self: avoid in the future)

Wearing: hats

Eating: smoked salmon and eggs for a late breakfast

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Drinking: red wine

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Reading: In The Kitchen

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Watching: The Apprentice

Buying: memory-foam slippers…so cosy

Planning: essays (groan)

Cooking: my ‘Carluccio Pasta’

Baking: Pumpkin Pies!

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Writing: on my blog again

Favouriting: Fleur de Force’s America vlogs which are making me want to plan another trip there!

Working on: my ironing pile!

Trying to decide: what colour to paint our spare room

Wishing: for an extra hour in bed every weekend

Enjoying: pomegranates

Needing: to pick up the leaves currently carpeting my lawn

Feeling: relaxed

Giggling at: Gogglebox

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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Latest Purchases #91 – Handbags

Handbags have never really been my thing – shoes yes, stationary yes and nail varnishes oh yes! However, I decided that for my 30th birthday I would treat myself to a designer handbag to remember my birthday holiday to America and also to have a beautiful item to use on a daily basis.

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Not content with one handbag, I actually ended up buying two bags, one statement and one classic, but I have quite different uses for them.

First of all, I bought this bright blue leather bag from Nine West. I love this colour and think it will work all year round. It has a lovely slouchy style and a folded over front which I think adds a cool twist. The inner lining is also really pretty. I have been using this as my everyday handbag and find it is quite roomy.

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Secondly, I wanted a ‘timeless classic’ that I could use for years to come and I decided that a black handbag would always be in style. I had a serious shopping dilemma between a Michael Kors and a DKNY bag but the latter won and I have worn this beauty a couple of times now.

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I tend to save it for nights out or the weekend just to keep it feeling special. I think the black snakeskin leather with the gold hardware is just stunning and I love the fact is a very simple, classic shape that won’t go out of style.

Latest Purchases #90 – Dotcomgiftshop

Happy Saturday! Ian is working today so I snuck back to bed this morning with brioche and tea to read a few chapters of my new book and plan to spend the day baking, blogging, pottering and doing a little bit of marking.

A little while ago, I made another order at Dotcomgiftshop (which does the most amazing sales!) Here are a few things I picked up…

First up a fun new print for the kitchen. I like the retro style of this picture and of course the celebration of all things pudding! I was going to ask Ian to hang it this weekend but after almost falling out hanging some other prints midweek I think I may need to butter him up first!

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I have phases where I find cross stitching really relaxing to do as I watch TV (it stops me constantly checking my phone too!) and this ‘Home Sweet Home’ print is a very sweet project to have lined up.

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This metal sign made me giggle. I plan on hanging this in our utility room by the washing machine when we finally decorate it.

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I really like this next item – a pastel green herb house. I saw a similar style in IKEA recently and almost bought it but thought this was a little more unique. It comes with six plant pots with blackboard-painted signs for you to add the name of your herbs on. We always have fresh herbs on the go so this will be a lovely way to grow and display them.

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I can never have too many notebooks and this pretty pink and gold design is a happy addition to the collection.

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I also picked up this pencil box to try and keep my desk tidier at work.

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I love making my baking efforts look a little bit better by using pretty cupcake cases.

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I had to bin my old flask recently as it was leaking so this is a good replacement…perfect for filling with hot chocolate when we go on an autumnal country walk!

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We always need tea towels and I thought these apples and pears designs looked very Orla Kiely-esque.

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Clearly influenced by the same designer, I bought a new jar for storing our teabags.

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Napkins.

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Despite Ian telling me we don’t need any more tins, I couldn’t resist these pretty ones and they all fit inside the big one so they aren’t taking up too much room!

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Some washi tape in pretty gingham designs.

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Some metal candle holders that I plan on hanging in the garden next summer.

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Finally, my most middle-aged purchase (which I am secretly really excited about) is this little gardening set as my knees really hurt when I have to kneel down to dig and plant stuff!

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Travel Guide: Atlantic City

Next up in my mini-series of Travel Guides is Atlantic City. When people ask me which was my favourite destination from our recent America trip, I have said Atlantic City simply because I love the beach and being by the sea. I think ‘glitz and kitsch’ sums up this place pretty well and it has been known as ‘Vegas by the Sea’. I don’t imagine that you would fly from the UK solely to visit Atlantic City but if you are in New York then I would definitely recommend adding a few days by the beach onto your trip.

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EAT

Wingcraft

Possibly Ian’s favourite restaurant from the entire two week trip, specialising in chicken wings and craft beer. We ate here several times and every meal was great.

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Boardwalk Cupcakes

If you fancy something sweet then this bakery has an amazing selection of cupcakes – I had a red velvet cupcake which was delicious.

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Cuba Libre

Located in the Tropicana Hotel, this Cuban restaurant does a mean rum cocktail and if you are feeling adventurous then I recommend the 15-course tasting menu which takes you on a culinary journey of Cuba…just make sure you are wearing your loosest jeans!

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DO

Explore the Boardwalk

I think the first thing you need to do after you have checked into your hotel is walk the Boardwalk. This four-mile stretch is the heart of Atlantic City and you get beautiful sea views as well as seeing everything the city has to offer. There are nightly light shows, firework displays and performance art as well as a huge selection of shops and restaurants to choose from. The pink sunsets are beautiful too.

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Go to the beach

A huge stretch of white sands, you must spend an afternoon on the beach. The waves are huge so expect to get knocked over at least once!

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Gamble

There are several themed casinos along the Boardwalk so you really should pop inside and try your luck either on one of the roulette tables or with the high rollers playing blackjack. We weren’t very lucky this time around but you never know when you might win big!

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Enjoy the Fairground

Along the Boardwalk is the Steel Pier which has a great little fairground on it. Depending on how brave you are feeling, have a go on one of the rides.

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Shop

Atlantic City has the Tanger Outlet shops and we went a bit crazy! Here you will find your big-named brands like Nike, DKNY, Aldo and Forever 21 and all offer amazing discounts.

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STAY

We stayed at the Atlantic City Sheraton which was a couple of blocks back from the Boardwalk but right next to the Tanger Outlet shops which was fine with me! The rooms were really spacious, there was a Starbucks in the lobby and there was parking too. Whilst our stay here was fine, I think if we came again we would probably stay in one of the hotels along the Boardwalk simply because I love a sea view.

TIPS

One of the best days of our holiday was a day trip we took to Cape May, about  50 minutes away from Atlantic City. If you have a car, you must visit this town, voted the best beach on the Jersey Shore. The beach is stunning and we even spotted a pod of dolphins when we were swimming! My dream is to return here, rent one of the beautiful pastel-coloured houses overlooking the beach and spend the whole summer playing in the waves and exploring the area. We also paid a visit to the Cape May Brewery and worked our way through their various beers which was very fun!

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