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Friday, 22 August 2014

Things I've done: Chester Zoo

One of our favourite places to go to for a day out is the Zoo. Our nearest is Chester, who do a lot of conservation work so I like to support them, and of course we love having a look at the animals. Me and my husband have both had a bit of time off work in the past couple of weeks so we took a trip there on Thursday. The weather wasn't brilliant but it did mean that it wasn't overly busy despite it being the school holidays which is a plus point! I thought I'd share some of my favourite photos :-)


Have you visited your local zoo? What is your favourite place to visit for a day out?

Em x

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Things I've done: Warner Bros. Studios London

 Last weekend, me and my husband went on a little trip to London. Partly because we just wanted to go for a little getaway and partly because we've just had our 1st wedding anniversary and we got engaged in London, so we thought a little trip there would be appropriate. We booked a package deal with train tickets, 2 nights in a lovely 5 star hotel and tickets to see Warhorse (which was very good by the way, if you haven't seen it!)

We had also booked tickets for Warner Bros. Studios London for the Saturday, which was AMAZING. I'm not exaggerating when I say it felt quite magical to delve into the world of the Harry Potter films. I thought I would share some photos...


My favourite parts were having the opportunity to wander around Diagon Alley and the Great Hall, as well as seeing the huge Hogwarts model they used for some parts of filming. Our tickets were the £40 kind. You can get in for £30 per adult, but for £40 you get a digital guide (a little screen with headphones that gives you extra info and video clips you wouldn't otherwise see about each stage of the tour) as well as a very nice souvenir book. We thought it was worth spending the extra since we would most likely not be going gain, or at least not for a very long time anyway. Something to note is that you have to book your tickets online or over the phone and either pay for them to be delivered or pick them up on the day (we chose the latter), you can't buy them at the venue. I took A LOT of photos (well over a hundred!) so I have just shared a select few here (it was so hard to narrow them down!).

Have you visited Warner Bros. London? What did you think?

Em x

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

New Forever 21 Jewellery bits

As I mentioned in my last post where I talked about the Kiko makeup I picked up, I was in London Friday til Sunday. I popped into the Forever 21 on Oxford Street too and got some jewellery bits. I really like their jewellery and have got quite a few things from there. We do have one nearby but the London branches are obviously bigger and have more selection. Of course I had to throw a couple of statement necklaces into my basket...the obsession continues haha.

The plaited, beaded necklace was £7.40 and the other, more sparkly one was £14.90. The bow earrings were only £1.50 each so because I liked them so much I decided to get them in both gold and silver so they will go with whichever other jewellery I am wearing. I love how they have actually been 'tied' from the metal they are made of-super cute I thought! 

What do you think?

Em x

Monday, 18 August 2014

Kiko Goodies and First Impressions

This weekend me and my husband took a little trip to London. I've seen Kiko popping up on a few blogs and it looked insteresting so since there are no stores anywhere near me, I made a point to make a stop there on Friday. You can order online but since I'd never tried the brand I thought I would wait and be able to try out the products in person. I ended up in the Oxford Street store, which seemed quite busy and popular. I was just left to my own devices in there and ended up with swatches going up my arms after running out of space on my hands haha. I must say I quite liked that the sales assistants just said hi and didn't pester you unless you asked them something. I'm really not fussed on pushy sales assistants who try to sell you all kinds of things you didn't go in for-I would much rather just be left to have a look around.

So this is what I came away with...


1. Top pairs blush in shades Raspberry Rose and Peach. This is from their latest limited edition collection for Autumn/Winter, Daring Game. The products in compacts all have card themed, white packaging with a decent sized mirror. The blusher duos contain one matte shade and one slightly shimmery shade.


2. Water Eye shadow in shade 200 Champagne (although they only have the number on the packaging-I prefer it when companies have the shade name too because it's easier to remember if you want to purchase more of the same product in different shades or repurchase the same one). These are meant to be used wet or dry, but this shade already has a gorgeous metallic sheen used dry, so I imagine it would look almost like foil used wet. There is also a mirror in these but I don't think I'll be using it as it is obviously small, being inside a single eye shadow.  I love the 3D moulded design of the shadow. Available here for £8.90.

3. Invisible lip liner. There's nothing fancy about this, but I thought it was a very useful product to own and was good value at £5.90. I like to use a lip liner in case of any bleeding/ smudging with brighter or deeper lipstick shades, but I sometimes feel like using a coloured liner makes my lips look a bit 'too done', if that makes any sense. Available here.

4. Smart lipstick in shades 911 (left) and 906 (right). These are a slightly sheer but buildable formula with a creamy feel, which makes sense since they are advertised as being a 'rich, nourishing lipstick'. These were a bargain at only £3.90 each so I decided to try a couple of shades. Available here.

5. Sun Lovers blush in 03 Brazilian Pink. This is a baked type blusher split into 2 sections.  You could use each one on its own or mix them. This is from the Summer collection I believe, 'Life in Rio' and it has been slightly knocked down in price to £10.40 from £14.90 so assume it won't be around for much longer. It's available here.




Below left to right: Smart lipstick 906, Smart lipstick 911, water eye shadow 200 champagne (dry)

Picture below top row: Top pairs blush peach and raspberry rose (top)
Picture below bottom row: Sun lover blush brazilian pink each half separate then mixed on the right)

Overall, I really like the texture of the lipsticks and the water eye shadow so far. The eye shadow has a lovely metallic finish and if I'm remembering correctly, reminds me of something Estee Lauder did not too long ago (only cheaper!) The blush products I picked up don't seem overly pigmented but I actually like that in a blush. Being quite fair skinned, a blush that is super pigmented can sometimes be a little trickier to deal with and take more time to get right and blend out. They are not overly glittery or shimmery (which I can't stand in blushes). I like the packaging (let's face it, this does influence whether we will buy products or not). My initial impressions are good so hopefully I will continue to like the products I picked up once I've tested them out a bit more.

Have you tried any Kiko products? Are there any you would recommend?

Em x

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

My make up bag: handbag edition

Here is a little look into the make up/ beauty essentials I like to keep in my handbag. I know plenty of people who don't carry any of these things and carry tiny handbags, but I must say that my 'emergency kit' has saved the day several times for not only me but other people. Certain things like lip products change from time to time but the rest stays pretty much the same. It may seem like quite a lot but it all fits into a reasonably compact make up bag. It's also worth noting that I don't generally like to carry anything too expensive around in case it goes missing, apart from if I'm wearing a more expensive lipstick that I would obviously want to top up with the same colour.

  1. Make up remover filled cotton buds. These are amazing if you get a bit teary, or have a mascara mishap. I unfortunately inherited my mum's sensitive eyes that run with the slightest bit of sun or wind, so these have come in handy on a few occasions!  You just snap one end and the make up remover runs into the other end ready to use. I think the particular ones I have are discontinued, but you can find similar here for £3.99.
  2. L'occitaine hand cream. I'm not particularly fussy on which hand cream lives in my handbag, apart from the fact that I don't like it to be too heavy or sticky for daytime use and I like it to be small. L'occitaine' travel sizes fit the bill.
  3. Hand sanitizer. Again I'm not fussy here but I always like to have some on hand.
  4. La Roche Posay Thermal Spring Water spray-available here for £4. I like to have some sort of refreshing face spritz on hand, particularly in the Summer months. It can cool you down even over make up and also helps take away the powdery look of any make up touch-ups.
  5. Anti-perspirant. I'm currently carrying the Nivea invisible kind, but any travel size spray will do. Especially in the Summer months or if you have long work days-everyone needs to freshen up sometimes!
  6. Blotting sheets-mine are Kleenex at the moment as although these have been discontinued, I like them so much that when I saw them for 29p a packet in home bargains I bought about 20...literally. This obviously only applies if you have oilier skin.
  7. Compact mirror-self explanatory
  8. Invisibobble. These are great for getting your hair out of the way without leaving a mark and they're also very secure. Alternatively, any other hair band you'd like but you can find invisibobbles here.
  9. Maybelline fit me foundation stick is handy for touchups. It glides on smoothly even over make up I'm already wearing if a coverage top-up is required, plus it won't spill in there as it's in stick form. Available here for £8.99.
  10. A neutral-pink blusher. Something not too bright that will go with most makeup-currently I'm carrying a no. 7 one in the shade soft damson.
  11. A miniature blush brush (mine is a very old one by The brand TIGI)
  12. My touch-up powder of choice-Collection perfecting minerals foundation-£4.99 here. My main reason for choosing this is the convenience of it being in a brush already-for super speedy touch-ups and to save space.
  13. Clinique high impact mascara in a gift with purchase size-I usually throw in any mini size I have to hand.
  14. Maybelline baby lips lip balm (in foreign packagain and from poundland!)-or any other lip balm alternative you like.
  15. Maybelline baby lips electro in shade strike a rose-easy to slap on and go with a hint of colour. Available here for £2.99.
  16. Soap and Glory Sexy Mother Pucker gloss sticks. Do I need two of these in there? Probably not but the shades nudist and bashful are very well used and battered. Available here for £8.
  17. The Body Shop colour crush shine lipstick in shade 18 sunset romance-one of my current everyday favourites. £10 here.
  18. Nail file-I carry one at all times. This one comes in a case-you get the case and 4 files I think for £1 in Primark-bargain!
I'm off for a long weekend away on Friday morning so I might well do a post about the make up and toiletries I take with me. Which beauty products do you carry in your handbag?

Em x

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Current Favourite: Evening Clutch

Here is my current favourite clutch-studded bow amazingness! This is from the brand Dune but it was another of my TK Maxx bargains a few months back. Bags in Dune are on the expensive side compared to the rest of the high street but I bagged (no pun intended haha) this for £24.99 instead of £55.

 It has a chain strap long enough to sling over your shoulder inside. Sometimes I will leave the house using a bag as a clutch then get fed up and get the strap out-sometimes a clutch just gets in your way when you're doing your thing on the dancefloor! It's not too small either-I can't be doing with the sort of clutch that's so small you can just about squeeze your bank card and phone in it. Living in England, I often like to squeeze a compact brolly in-no point it getting glammed up if you're going to get wet, right? I also love that it's black as it goes with most outfits.

The bag is still available on the TK Maxx website here.

What do you think? 

Em x

Friday, 8 August 2014

Summer Favourites: Carvella Kurt Geiger gladiator wedges

You know you love a pair of shoes when you decide you must have them in more than one colour! Which is exactly what I did with these Carvella Kurt Geiger gladiators. I actually got both of these pairs as birthday presents back in May. I saw them online a month or two beforehand and may have dropped one or two hints to my husband but couldn't decide which colour I most wanted. I eventually asked him to order me the black pair when he agreed to get me them, thinking that I may buy myself the white ones later. However, he had spoken to his mum who was looking for present ideas and she got me the white so I ended up with both pairs :-)

Anyway, I love how these can be dressed up and down. They look great paired with Summer dresses and maxi skirts, jeans of an evening outfit. They have enough of a heel that they give me a bit of height but not so high that that have me hobbling around after a couple of hours (I make no secret of the fact that I just can't 'do' 5 inch heels for the whole night like some girls seem to be able to!). They actually have not 1 but 2 straps that fasten round your ankle so are very sturdy and your feet are well supported. Then there's the thing that caught my attention-the beautiful studding detail.

I believe the style is called Kenneth, although I'm not sure whether they will be still available.

What do you think? Do you have any Summer shoe favourites?

Em x

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Murad Oil Control Mattifier SPF15

I have found myself relying on Murad's oil control mattifier a lot lately to keep the Summer oilies at bay. I have combination-oily skin that's more normal on the cheeks and an oily T-zone but it can turn into an oily nightmare when I'm trying to keep make up on my face in Summer.

I first discovered this product when Ruth from A Model Recommends blog recommended it so highly and since then I've been hooked. It's a product that I only tend to use in the Summer, as I can afford for my skin to have a bit more moisture in the cooler months and I must admit that my skin does seem to get 'used to it' after a few months (i.e. the oilies start to creep in a bit quicker). Of course this isn't a problem if I give my skin a break from it in Winter.

That aside, this stuff really does keep me matte. I sometimes blot/ powder once during an (8 hour-ish) day while wearing this but often, not at all. For me, that is pretty amazing. I have genuinely not tried any other mattifing product that keeps me matte as long as this (and I've tried a lot over the years). It was quite revolutionary to me that I could stay matte for so long! It also gives me enough sun protection for day to day errands, going to work etc (of course, I would wear an actual sunscreen if spending any length of time in the sun). 

So...what do Murad claim the product does? 'Reduces shine on contact, controlling oil production and protecting your skin, to give a perfectly matte complexion for up to 8 hours'. Personally, I'd say it lives up to the claims.

The only drawback is the price-I have seen it for anything up to £37. Feel unique currently sell it for £33.30 with free shipping here. Look out for offers-I've never paid full price for this so it does happen. I actually managed to find my most recent tube in TK Maxx for a bargainous £12-box still sealed (yep...I love that place-my branch had quite a few Murad products in!) Having bought it before, I snapped it up. To be honest, although it's pricey, 1 tube gets me through the whole Summer. If you've got super oily skin and nothing else will control it during the Summer, I'd say it's worth the price tag to buy once a year if your budget stretches to it, even if you have to pay full price.

What do you think? Have you tried it or can you recommend and similar products?

Em x

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Hand creams-reviews and comparisons

It occured to me when purchasing another hand cream that I have a bit of a collection going on, although 1 is almost gone. I thought I would write down a quick run down of them, why I like each one and what each is best for.

Nivea Expression Hydration is just what it says-it sinks in very quickly but as a result is not by any means the most moisturising. This one is great for on the go though, if you want a quick bit of moisture but be able to use your hands without them being all slippery!

Vaseline Healthy Hands and Stronger Nails sits somewhere between this and a heavier hand cream in my opinion. It still sinks in quite quickly, just not quite as quickly as the Nivea, but gives a bit more moisture. I'm not too sure about the stronger nails part but it can't do any harm, right?

Carex hydrate and protect has antibacterial action combined with a lighter weight hand cream so I figured this would be good for my handbag, especially because I found it reduced down to 67p in Asda. I'm not so bothered about throwing it in a bag because if it goes missing, it's not the end of the world.

L'occitaine 20% shea butter hand cream is a little heavier and more moisturising than the 3 above and I feel like it takes slightly longer to sink in but I wouldn't describe it as greasy-a medium level of heaviness if that makes any sense. This is a bit of a cult product and is more on the expensive side but you can regularly get the travel sizes that are regularly £8 free with magazines (I'm pretty sure I got this one with Glamour, which costs £2). Bargain! The thing I love most about L'occitaine hand creams are the smells. This one is jasmine which I love, but I've tried loads of other scents in the past and liked them just as much.

Lanolips Rose-Balm Everyday is the one that's almost empty due to it living on my bedside table since I bought it. I tend to use a heavier hand cream most nights before bed. This one is definitely on the heavier side and leaves residue that's almost sticky, so it's not one I'd recommend for daytime use. Would I buy it again? If I found it on offer, yes (which I did when I bought it). It's a good hand cream and has lasted a long time as a little goes a long way, but I don't love the powdery rose smell.

Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Concentrated Cream unscented is also a great bedtime option. I like that there is the option to buy unscented-I do like nice smelling hand creams but I would rather unscented than a smell I don't like, After all, 1 smell isn't going to please anyone's nose! A little goes a LONG way with this one so don't be tempted to overdo it. It's very moisturising and particularly good or the Winter months I find.

Crabtree and Evelyn English Honey and Peach Blossom ultra moistursing hand therapy is the newest to me and is a pricey one, but I found it for £4.99 instead of £15 in TK Maxx. My local branch had quite a lot of C&E products so it may be worth a look! I would say the texture of this is quite similar to the L'occitaine, and also like L'occitaine they do different scents. I'd say it's a medium level of moisturisation so useable in the daytime if you don't mind waiting just a couple of minutes for it to sink in.

Have you tried any of these? Are there any other hand creams you would recommend?

Em x

Friday, 1 August 2014

Nail Polish Storage Ideas

I have been wanting to make my nail polishes more neat, tidy and organised for a while now. I did buy this nail polish holder a while ago. It's great, but just isn't big enough for all the nail polishes I have any more and at £24 a go now (super expensive for what is essentially a plastic box!) I wasn't about to buy another. These would be a good option if you don't mind the price tag and you maybe only have enough polishes to fill 1 (48 or less) , but what I think I'm possibly going to use it for now is to keep my current favourites in, and rotate them in an out of my other storage.

So, I began by having a sort out of all my polishes.

This is what the bulk of my polishes looked like before...jumbled up in a cardboard box and half of them were neglected because I couldn't see what I had. 

The first stage of my sort out was to organise them by colour. I put them into groups of pale-medium pinks, brighter/ darker pinks, blues and greens, purples, corals/ peaches, reds, neutrals and golds, silvers/whites/blacks. Like this...

Our bed was covered! haha

I had been thinking about what I could use to store the main bulk of them when I realised that the boxes I already use to store hair bits like rollers and things would be perfect. They are actually made to be shoe storage boxes and are made of clear plastic with a hinged lid that clips shut-perfect because you can see everything inside. They are also deep enough that even my tallest polishes that have never fitted upright in anything else before fit in.  Oh and they cost a whole 89p from Home Bargains-so cheap and handy! I'm sure you can get something similar other places too if you don't have a store near you.

I put them into the boxes in their colour groups. In some boxes I put more than 1 colour group, splitting the box in half, just depending how many I had in each group. This sort out helped me to discover that I clearly have a problem with hot pink polishes! I filled an entire shoe box with pink alone. I will not be buying any more pinks for a while haha. Now the boxes look like this...

I think you'll agree that it's much more manageable to grab the 'pink box' or whichever colour I fancy and choose a shade now they are organised like this rather than being in a big jumble. In total, I have 3 boxes full (plus 1 empty box so I have room to buy more...not that I should be doing...but you know...just in case lol).

I also wanted to show you how I store my nail art bits and basics like top and base coats, polish remover etc. This has stayed the same as I really like how they are stored. What I use is designed to be an art box and it is also clear plastic. It i made by the company Daler Rowney, who make art supplies. I love that when you open it, there are 3 tiers-a deep section in the bottom and 2 shallower ones. This means I can keep smaller nail art bits where they can be seen. I bought mine from an art supplies shop but you can find it on ebay here.

What do you think? How do you store your nail polishes?

Em x