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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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Travel Guide – Washington DC

We spent 5 days in Washington DC this summer which felt just right to visit the various iconic monuments and museums dotted around the capital city. Whilst this wasn’t my favourite US city, it is definitely worth a visit and was a lovely ending to our most recent trip.

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EAT

Luke’s Lobster

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I became a little bit obsessed with lobster rolls on our two weeks away and we had a great early evening dinner at Luke’s Lobster where we had crab, prawn and lobster rolls with a few sides.

Shake Shack

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We had an awesome burger here that definitely lived up to the hype.

Oyamel

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We ate at this Mexican restaurant and had an amazing meal. I am used to Mexican street food-style places like Wahaca but this was a much more refined version of my favourite dishes. We had fresh guacamole made at our tables, margaritas and some great fish tacos.

DO

Visit the Newseum

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Probably my favourite museum of our whole trip, the Newseum is just fascinating. I love the ins and outs of the media and seeing how different events are reported around the world and this place had such interesting exhibits. My favourites were the Vietnam War, 9/11 and the Pulitzer Prize winners gallery. I even had a go at some news reporting in the interactive gallery!

Walk through the Sculpture Garden

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We stumbled upon this quite by accident on our way to a museum but it is a lovely little park to have a wander through. The Roy Lichtenstein ‘House 1’ is very cool to view from different angles.

Go and watch The Nationals

We’ve been to see a couple of baseball games in America now and although I’m a little fuzzy on some of the rules, the atmosphere is always great! It also feels like you are doing something non-touristy and on certain nights, there’s a fireworks display after the game and who doesn’t love some fireworks?!

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Take a Bus Tour

We found that Washington DC was very spread out so trying to do everything by foot in the August heat was impractical. We bought tickets for a 2-day hop-on/ hop-off bus tour which took us all over the place.

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Hang out in Georgetown

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My favourite district in DC, this place is so cool and doesn’t feel like a city at all. Im just annoyed we found this on our last day as I would have loved to come back. I did quite a bit of damage in Sephora here!

STAY

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We stayed at the Hyatt Place Hotel and had a bit of a mixed experience. The hotel itself was amazing; probably the best we stayed in during our two weeks away. The room was modern and had a cool lounge area, the staff were ridiculously helpful and there was a really tasty free breakfast option which we took advantage of. If I could pick the hotel up and drop it in a slightly more central location, it would have been perfect. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the nicest area, especially after dark, which just took the shine off our stay.

TIPS

Watch House of Cards before you go!

This brilliant political drama on Netflix gives a great insight into the inner workings of Washington DC and meant we knew quite a few of the famous landmarks before we went.

Travel Guide: Philadelphia

I want to start today’s blog by wishing my lovely husband a Happy 31st Birthday!

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I like to think of Philadelphia as New York’s friendlier, leafier and artier little sister. It is rich in history and was actually Ian’s favourite stop on our East Coast road trip this summer. We both loved our three days here and managed to pack a lot in! Here are my recommendations for a long weekend in this beautiful city.

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EAT

Chifa Food Truck

Found at the Spruce Street Harbor Park, this Peruvian-Japanese fusion may sound like a strange combination but it works brilliantly! We had ribs, chicken wings and fish tacos (pretty much my three favourite foods!) and they were all delicious.

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Franklin Ice Cream

Something of a Philadelphia institution, the ice cream selection was amazing and scoops are served in these cool cardboard boxes too.

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Reading Terminal Market

One of my favourite places in the city, this huge market houses so many different food shops and restaurants, you can get a great meal here. We stopped off for breakfast where I had a hot, buttery pretzel, followed by a doughnut!

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Campo’s

You cannot go to Philadelphia and not have a Philly cheesesteak and my tour guide assures me Campo’s does one of the best! I cannot claim to be an expert but it was pretty damn good.

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The Foodery

Like beer? If so, then you will love this place. Ian and I worked our way through several craft ales and I know we would be here on a weekly basis if we lived nearer! We ate here too which was tasty but the fridges full of beers are the real stars.

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DO

A Bus Tour

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Yes, you will look like a total tourist but we felt that there was so much history in this city and we wanted to find out as much as possible without having to walk around with our heads in a guidebook. We saw things we probably wouldn’t have seen had we just explored the city by foot and our tour guides were all local so we got some good bar and restaurant recommendations from them!

Swing in a hammock at Spruce Street Harbor Park

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My favourite place in the city! We walked here on our first night and it was amazing to sit by the river as the sun set with cocktails and a selection of food trucks to eat at. You get a fantastic view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and if you’re lucky, you will find a free hammock to relax in.

Visit the Eastern State Penitentiary

If you fancy a slightly alternative museum then you will love this derelict prison. It was quite spooky in places but I loved wandering around with my audio tour, finding out a bit more about this fascinating site.

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Run up the ‘Rocky Steps’

It’s just got to be done!

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STAY

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We stayed at the Doubletree by Hilton which I would highly recommend. It was very central, had amazing views from the corner windows and you also get warm chocolate chip cookies when you arrive!

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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Travel Guide: New York

Another new feature I thought I would add to the blog following my recent travels was a little series of ‘Travel Guides’. I tend to write a really long, picture-heavy post after I have visited a new place and I thought these mini guides could be a quick read with my highlights including where to eat, what to do and where to stay.

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First up, New York, one of the most vibrant, exciting and fun places to visit. No matter what your interests, there is a never-ending amount of things to do including walking tours, sports, art galleries, shopping, sight-seeing and an amazing variety of places to eat. I have only been to this city twice so this is by no means an exhaustive list but just a few recommendations.

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EAT

Argo Tea

Dotted around the city, these tea shops offer delicious beverages with several free tasters in store!

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South Street Seaport

A very cool district full of great bars and restaurants. We happened upon the Smorgasburg food market when we were there and had some amazing lobster rolls and local beers.

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Tick Tock Diner

Standard, American diner serving great pancakes and other breakfast items.

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Gansevoort Market

A little foodie mecca with some amazing choices for lunch – it is a perfect stop once you have walked The High Line.

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Ellen’s Stardust Diner

Good for breakfast with singing Broadway-trained waiters – a really fun start to the day!

Iguana New York

This Mexican restaurant was next door to our hotel and did the best margaritas.

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Grand Central Station

Not only is the station itself a must-see in my opinion, but there is a great little food court on the lower level which includes Shake Shack, Magnolia Bakery and a lovely soup bar.

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Katz’s Deli

A New York institution, endure the queues as the pastrami and beef brisket sandwiches are worth it!

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DO

Visit Central Park

It’s huge so you can make several visits during your stay and see a different area each time. We went running here in the mornings, strolled in the afternoons and even came for a picnic but there are also outdoor concerts, play areas, a boating lake, sculptures and an outdoor swimming pool in the summer…a beautiful oasis amongst the skyscrapers.

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See a Broadway Show

There is a booth in Times Square where you can get discounted tickets for shows the same day and we took advantage of this to go and watch ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’ for my 30th birthday. Times Square at night is a sight to behold too.

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Buy a CityPASS

If you plan on doing several of the major tourist attractions then it is worth looking into this ticket booklet to save some cash. My Mum bought me mine for a birthday present and we ended up visiting the Empire State Building (twice!), the Natural History Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the 9/11 Memorial Museum and a ferry tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, all of which I would recommend.

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Walk The High Line

Once an abandoned railway track, this elevated walkway takes you through wild gardens, art installations and food vendors with great views of the local neighbourhoods.

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Go Kayaking on the Hudson River

The Manhattan Community Boathouse offers free half hour kayaking (which is about how long my arms could take!) in a couple of locations. We went at sunset and it was such a fun thing to do!

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STAY

If you want to be near to Central Park and the buzz of Broadway and Times Square, then I would recommend staying at The Ameritania. The staff are incredibly helpful if you need directions or a recommendation, the rooms are clean and modern and there is  a Starbucks over the road for chai tea and free wifi!

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TIPS

Buy a MetroCard for getting around the city. We bought a 7-day card for around $30 and definitely got our money’s worth using it several times a day. The carriages are also air-conditioned which is a godsend in the summer!

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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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Dismaland

This weekend, Ian and I braved the crowds and visited the latest ‘bemusement’ park in the South West, Banksy’s Dismaland.

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Hotly anticipated tickets meant the website crashed so for the opening weekend, you could just turn up and try your luck. Having missed his last exhibition in Bristol, Ian and I were determined to see this one down the road from us in Weston-Super-Mare so set our alarms and after a swift 3 and a half our wait (!!!) we were in!

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As soon as you stepped inside the once-derelict Tropicana building, the experience started with in-character staff giving you a very gloomy greeting. My first impressions were of a sad, tired, ageing seaside resort  with a dilapidated castle as a centre point and various attractions dotted around.

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We visited the art galleries first of all which were incredible. A mix of sculpture, art installations, paintings and a whole model village; the subversive art genre was very much alive. My favourites were the tattooed ornaments and the cross-stitched car.

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We spent the next few hours wandering around, watching some short films in deckchairs, riding the big wheel, eating pizza, visiting the exhibits and having a go on both the carousel and rotating caravan.

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Having grown up in a seaside town that is dependent on a holiday park, I loved the social commentary behind a lot of the exhibits here. It was great that there were a variety of artists’ work here and as I would say is normal, there were pieces I enjoyed and others I didn’t. It was refreshing to be able to see these works of art in an alternative setting and despite the rather lengthy queue, I felt once inside the organisers got the numbers just right and there was no queuing or having to wait to do anything.

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I believe that it will be ticketed entry from this week onwards and although I cannot say that anyone else will ‘love’ these pieces of art, I do recommend a visit here, simply to experience the originality of the whole concept and you can go for fish and chips afterwards on the sea front! x

Travel Diaries – Washington DC

Washington was our fourth and final stop on our East Coast road trip – you can read Part One and Two of our New York trip and all about Atlantic City and Philadelphia by clicking on the links!

Day Eleven – Thursday 6th August

I couldn’t have left Philadelphia without running up and down the ‘Rocky Steps’ so I dragged myself out of bed early, put on my trainers and ran out to the art museum, up those famous steps, posed for a quick pic with Sly then headed back to our hotel room to pack our bags again.

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We caught a bus to Washington which was fine (it had free wifi!) then taxied it to our hotel – you know it’s going to be an interesting ride when you tell the taxi driver your hotel address and he asks you “Where’s that?”

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We stayed in Hyatt Place and we loved the room. It was a pretty new hotel and had a lovely little lounge area to chill and watch TV and a really modern, cool bathroom. We weren’t that impressed with the area our hotel was in. NoMa is apparently very up and coming but I just don’t think it was quite there yet and although it seemed quite vibrant in the daytime, it didn’t feel the best place to be walking about at night.

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We decided to head out and do some exploring that afternoon so walked down to the Capitol Building (which was stunning but covered in scaffolding!), wandered through the parks, saw the Washington Monument and had a great dinner of prawn, crab and lobster rolls – yum!

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Day Twelve – Friday 7th August

After breakfast at the hotel, where I tried my first ever ‘biscuits and gravy’, we spent the morning at the Newseum, a museum dedicated to the media. Outside, there is the front page of every main US State’s newspaper as well as some from the UK, Spain, Brazil, China, France and so on.

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This was a fascinating museum and there was such a good variety of exhibits including the Berlin Wall, the history of comic strips in newspaper, a huge archive of the most important headlines over the past two hundred years, a September 11th exhibition, the challenges journalists face in different parts of the world, the dogs of the White House (loved this one!), the Washington Nationals and my favourite which was all about the Vietnam War and the influence the media had on changing public support for it. There was also a section where you could record yourself as a news anchor on screen which was really fun! This was probably my favourite museum of the whole trip (OK, maybe joint favourite with Ellis Island in New York and the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia!)

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We refuelled with some chicken wings and pizza before a wander through the Sculpture Garden on our way to the Museum of American History. On paper this place looked cool but it was very much aimed at a younger audience so we only did a couple of exhibitions…obviously the one including food and a visit to Julia Child’s kitchen!

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That evening we caught the metro over to the Nationals Park to watch a baseball game. This was so much fun especially the firework display at the end of the game.

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Day Thirteen – Saturday 8th August

After a few days in Washington DC, we started to realise how huge and spread out it was so in order to cover it all and not add to our blister count, we bought tickets for another hop-on/ hop-off tour bus. Whilst it wasn’t as good as the Philadelphia one as it was a recording and felt a lot less personal, it did take us everywhere and also to places and memorials we probably wouldn’t have gone otherwise such as Arlington Cemetery and the Pentagon which are over the water in Virginia.

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Lunch was my first ever Shake Shack and was as good as I had hoped! That afternoon we visited the Vietnam and Lincoln memorials before heading to Chinatown for happy hour cocktails and an amazing Mexican meal where our waiter made our guacamole at our table…I grilled him for his recipe!

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Day Fourteen – Sunday 9th August

Our last full day in America! It was Liverpool’s first match of the new season and I read about a Liverpool supporters’ bar not too far away from us. We spent the morning there and it was such a good atmosphere and a chance to chat with some locals too. We left a bit tipsy and realised it was still only about midday!

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That afternoon we went to Georgetown, one of the oldest parts of Washington and one I’d heard was a bit less touristy and cool. I loved it here and wish we could have spent longer wandering around the shops and trying out the bakeries and bars. We had a really nice lunch here (ribs!) before hitting Sephora where I got so excited running up the stairs that I tripped and fell! I was so embarrassed and ended up overspending to hide my shame – like in that episode of Sex and the City where Carrie falls over in Dior and ends up buying loads to make up for it!

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We spent our final night packing, eating doughnuts and watching Sons of Anarchy and I also cracked open my new Essie polish to try out!

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Luckily our flights home were a lot less stressful than when we left the UK, although I suffered with horrendous jet lag for the next few days and was a bit zombie-like most afternoons!

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So that is the end of this ‘Travel Diaries’ series. I think you can probably tell we had an absolutely incredible couple of weeks and I feel a bit lost now I don’t have something to spend my spare time planning for…I may have to get our next trip booked soon! x

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Travel Diaries – Philadelphia

Philadelphia was our third stop on our East Coast road trip – you can read Part One and Two of our New York trip and all about Atlantic City by clicking on the links.

Day Nine – Tuesday 4th August

I started our final day in Atlantic City with an early morning run along the Boardwalk. It was so quiet with just a few people wandering around with their morning coffees and papers and the mist rising around the hotels.

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For my 30th birthday, I had decided to treat myself to a designer handbag. I had seen a few the day before but decided to sleep on it and before we left Atlantic City, I nipped back to the shops and ended up buying two!

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Bags packed, we were back in the car and heading to Philadelphia. It was only about an hour away and I got some Bruce Springsteen on when I saw the city in the distance.

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We found our hotel and received the best welcome…warm chocolate chip cookies. I think I ate mine in the lift as I was getting hungry! We stayed at the Hilton Doubletree and it was probably our favourite hotel in terms of location as we were so central. The room was gorgeous too – two double beds and a great view.

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We dropped our car off, grabbed a sandwich and started exploring. My first impressions of Philadelphia were good – very leafy, friendly and lots of sculptures, fountains and open spaces. As we were only here for two nights and Philadelphia is full of history, we decided to jump on a bus tour so we could see as much as possible of the city. We chose one with a real tour guide as opposed to a recording and it was a great way to find out a bit more about the place.

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After a quick change, we headed out for dinner. I had read about this really cool park down by the river so we walked over and it was amazing! Spruce Street Harbour Park is full of hammocks, benches, fairy lights and food trucks…what more could you need?! We got there and watched the sun set behind the Franklin Bridge with cocktails before indulging in fish tacos, ribs and chicken wings. We ended the night with ice cream in one of the hammocks – such a perfect evening!

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Day Ten – Wednesday 5th August

The next morning, we went on to Reading Terminal Market for breakfast. A great little foodie find, this market has everything to buy and some amazing little places to eat too. I had the best pretzel ever and an ‘Elvis’ doughnut which contained peanut butter icing, banana icing and bacon (and I wonder why my jeans now don’t fit!)

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After my healthy start to the day, we went to the Eastern State Penitentiary. You may not think an abandoned prison would be top of the to-do list for most people but this was such an interesting place to visit. After being left abandoned for years, it has been half-renovated so the public can visit yet see how it has decayed over time. It was quite creepy in places and the audio guide was so interesting covering the beginning of the prison, daily life for inmates, religion, death row, famous inmates (including Al Capone’s luxurious cell) attempted escapes, solitary confinement right up to present day issues such as gang violence and the death penalty.

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There were also cells dotted around the place that had been dedicated to various art installations which added to the experience – I would highly recommend this slightly alternative museum.

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It was lunchtime so we had to sample one of Philadelphia’s most famous exports…a Philly Cheesesteak. There are so many opinions on which is the best but we opted for Campo’s and oh my they were amazing!!!

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We spent our final afternoon having a final wander around the city, cooling off in fountains before indulging in some craft beers, more chicken wings and fish tacos for dinner. We went to The Foodery which has hundreds of different beers…Ian was in heaven! x

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Latest Purchases #86 – US Drugstore Haul

I ended up buying quite a bit of make-up and skincare items when we were on holiday so decided to split them into a Sephora Haul (coming next week!) and a kind of high street/ drugstore one. I tried to stick to brands that either aren’t available in the UK or products that I hadn’t seen on the shelves in Boots or Superdrug before. I think I was fairly restrained as I could have added a lot more into my basket!

First of all, not strictly a US purchase but one I used every day on holiday after buying it in Duty Free. This perfume from D&G is my first perfume from the brand and I really like it. I’m rubbish at trying to describe scents but I thought this was fruity and summery and every time I smell it now I think of our holiday.

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Next, a few bits I picked up in Bath & Bodyworks. I love this shop and if I wasn’t so worried about our luggage allowance, I would have treated myself to some of their candles too. I always have one of these scented hand sanitizers in my handbag so picked up some new scents – I picked some lovely summery ones but the ‘Napa Valley Sunset’ is my favourite as it is wine-inspired!

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Some Essie nail varnish next and I managed to narrow this down to three new shades; Chillato (a pastel pistachio – I blogged about it here), Where’s My Chauffeur (a turquoise-blue) and Golden Nuggets (a gold glitter).

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Another nail product from Sally Hansen, the Salon Effects Nail Stickers. I have tried these before and they are really good. They sit on your nails just like nail varnish and I loved this cool geometric pattern.

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Some lip balms next and the first one is from from Eos in Coconut Milk. I really like the formulas of these and the little egg shape it comes in!

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I also picked up a Burt’s Bees Rose Tinted Lip Balm. I thought this would be a chunky colour stick but the cardboard packaging was just for show and it’s just a regular little stick. There isn’t much colour pay-off from this but I always find this brand to be good quality so look forward to using this.

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This seemed a fun product next from Chapstick with a double ended, duo-flavoured stick.

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I wanted to try a few things from the brand Milani and read glowing reviews of their baked blushers. I picked up Corallina which is a beautiful rosey coral pink with a gold shimmer running through it. I think it looks beautiful although the lid cracked in my suitcase so I won’t be taking it in on my travels. I noticed a rattling sound when I picked this up and found a little mirror and brush underneath which is quite handy. I have swatched this and it is very glowy so can double up as a highlighter too.

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I also bought two eyeshadows in different formulas. Bella Cappuccino is a satin matte formula in a warm, medium brown with a hint of golden shimmer. I wasn’t sure what ‘satin matte’ would be like (surely it’s one or the other?!) but it’s actually a perfect description for this formula. I wouldn’t say this isn’t hugely pigmented and is slightly on the chalky side but a good ‘base’ colour for me.

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However, Bella Bronze is a different story! This is a metallic eyeshadow in a deep bronze with a beautiful coppery shimmer. The formula of this is so soft and buttery and it blends really well too. Of the two, I would definitely buy from the metallic range again.

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Another brand that we don’t get in the UK but has some real gems is Wet n Wild. I decided to try out one of their mascaras and there was so much choice! I opted for Megaplump and will let you know how I get on.

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I also picked up a blusher in the shade Mellow Wine. It may be a tad on the dark side for me – I will have to apply this with a light touch! This also contained a little brush, although like the Milani one, it doesn’t feel amazing quality.

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People seem to go mad for the Wet n Wild eyeshadow palettes so I picked up a small one named Silent Treatment. It contains three eyeshadows, embossed with ‘browbone’, ‘crease’ and ‘eyelid’ to use all three together – very handy for those less confident with a smoky eye. These are lovely eyeshadows although the darkest shade is a bit glittery so more of a night time look for me.

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I also wanted to try a lip product from this brand and am really into chunky lip pencils at the moment so picked up a Megaslicks Balm Stain in the shade Red-ioactive (I love the name!) This is so pigmented and although it applies with a gloss, after that has faded you are still left with a really strong wash of colour – I like this a lot.

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Carrying on with the lip products, NYX is another brand that was on my list to try so I bought one of their butter glosses in the shade Peach Cobbler – maybe it was just for the name?! This is a pretty peachy coral colour sitting somewhere between sheer and opaque and as it is a gloss it gives a very lush finish but is a tad sticky.

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Finally, a little trip down memory lane with a good old faithful mascara. I saw this at the till for a couple of dollars so thought why not?! It was only when I opened it that I realised I had picked up the shade Royal Blue. However, coloured mascaras seem to be having a bit of a comeback worn at the tips over black mascara so I shall give that look a go with this mascara.

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Phew – I am so excited to start using these items and seeing which ones will make it into my daily routine! x