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Monday, 31 August 2015

Fancy vs Functional

I have a lot of my make up stored in the acrylic drawers from Muji (although I dream of having the space for a nice dressing table, maybe one day!). I still like having an everyday make up bag though because it just makes it quicker to get ready in the mornings. I like a good sized make up bag that I can see everything in. I like it to be big enough to have a few options and have some excess space to rummage around-if everything is tightly packed in, it can be hard to find what you're looking for without tipping it all out.

I was previously using a vanity case style bag from Primark but it had got so grubby and tatty looking that I needed a replacement. I recently picked up these clear make up bags from Superdrug, which are perhaps not the most attractive, but they're very functional. I love that these are clear PVC because I can see where everything is and where I need to reach in to get it, plus they are also wipe clean. I imagine that they'd actually be pretty useful for make up artists as well as for personal use. I am going to use the biggest of the 3 for my make up bag at home and the other two would be great for travelling with.

On the other hand, I have several much more pretty make up bags that rarely get used. I have a particularly pretty little one from that was a gift from the Ted Baker range at Boots, it's really beautiful that I'm scared to put make up in it...does this even make any sense? lol. I tend to use it for putting jewellery and accessories in when I'm travelling instead, to avoid the risk of things spilling on it.

How do you prefer your make up bag to be? Fancy or functional?

Em x

Friday, 28 August 2015

August 2015 Beauty Favourites

I can't believe it's already the end of August and time to tell you about my favourite beauty products again but here we go. I haven't really bought anything new this month as I've been trying to enjoy what I already have as well as saving a few pennies.

I bought the Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Overnight Purifying Gel (£14.95 but on offer via Boots for £7.47 here), near the end of July and it really has become a favourite skincare product. It is a gel that contains glycolic and salicylic acids to chemically exfoliate and zap spots and niacinamide which acts as an anti-inflammatory on the skin. I find that it's a great all round treatment for my combo-oily, spot prone skin when it's not feeling its best. When I use this at night, I wake up with much clearer, smoother feeling skin and any spots are vastly reduced overnight.

My most used lipstick this month has definitely been MAC Peach Blossom (£15.50 via Debenhams here), which is a pretty peachy pink/ nude shade. I find that it goes with most make up and is great for every day or in the evening paired with a smokey eye. It isn't the longest lasting due to its creamy finish, but I can forgive it that because it means that it feels nice and moisturising on the lips.

When I haven't been wearing that, I've been reaching for my Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector in shade 05 (£18 here). I'm not a big fan of lipgloss but these fall somewhere between a gloss and a balm in my opinion. They feel so nice and moisturising and give a sheer tint to the lips. This shade is quite peach but it comes across as a peachy pink shade once on the lips since the colour of your lips shows through it a little.

I just finished the mascara I was using til earlier in the month (which annoyingly, I forgot to include in my last empties post) and went back to an old favourite, Boots Seventeen Falsifeye HD Mascara (£6.99/ currently 2 for £8 here). To me, it's a great all round mascara. It gives me length, seperation and some volume in a couple of coats and looks quite dramatic on my lashes, which is what I like.

I've mentioned before how much I love this line of nail polishes but this month, the Maybelline Super Stay Nail Polish in 'Pink Volt' (£4.49/ buy one get one half price via Superdrug here) has been a favourite. It's been on my toes all month and my fingers for a lot of the month too. I just love a bright pink shade in the Summer (even if we haven't had much sun this year!).

I have gone back to my very well loved Clinique Cheek Pop in the shade 'Plum Pop' (£17 via Debenhams here) this month, and I still love it just as much as when I first bought it. These have such a nice finish on the skin. They are almost matte but just with a slight glow to them. I definitely wouldn't describe them as shimmery so they're great to add a slight glow on my more oily skin type without making me look oily.

What were your favourite beauty products this month?

Em x

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Ten Date Night (Or Day) Ideas

I thought I'd share some date night/ day ideas other than the standard going out for dinner/ drinks. We've been married for two years now (together for almost seven years) and I think it's so important to make time for each other. It's too easy to forget to engage in proper conversation and distracted by electronics. Of course, if you don't have a significant other, most of them would be fun to do with a friend, too (apart from number three...could get a bit awkward haha).

1. Visit your local zoo or aquarium. This is something that me and my husband like to do a few times a year and it makes a great day out for just spending some time together. In fact in the last couple of weeks we have visited Edinburgh Zoo (see my post about it here) and also our nearest one which is Chester Zoo. If you're from the North, I also like Blackpool Zoo, the Welsh Mountain Zoo and the Blue Planet Aquarium, which is on the Wirral.

2. Go for a Picnic. This does of course depend on the weather but it's something we love to do when we get some sunshine. You could go to a local park, beach, into the countryside or even just do it in your own garden. It's just a nice way to relax and it's a bit of a change of scene from having lunch/ dinner indoors, plus it doesn't have to cost the earth.

3. Speaking of things that don't cost the earth, there's nothing better than a cuddle on the sofa watching a DVD. This one is especially good in Autumn/ Winter, when we like to add a cosy blanket and if you fancy it you can add drinks/ snacks to the equation.

4. Be a tourist in your own city. I've always thought that people often forget about what there is in their own city. Have a look at trip advisor to see what you cold visit. Being from Liverpool, it's not too long ago that we visited Speke Hall (a lovely Tudor mansion and gardens to spend a few hours in if you're in the area).

5. Go out for brunch. A date involving food doesn't always have to be in the evening! This is especially good if you're both off work at the same time or it fits with your schedule. If you're in Liverpool, we love to visit The Tavern Company on Smithdown Road once in a while. The food is amazing, not overly expensive and they've won lots of awards, too!

6. Go for a's a great way to connect and best of all, it's absolutely free! This could be local to where you live or you could go somewhere else for a change of scene. We've recently hopped on the train to Port Sunlight and New Brighton (both on the Wirral), just for somewhere different to have a wander. Sometimes just having the chance to have a good chat is great.

7. Feed the ducks. This is sort of walk related really but on a Sunday, we often like to head to our local park for a walk and to feed the ducks. I recently learned that feeding them bread isn't actually the best thing for them (being fed it constantly is not a balanced diet and can cause deformities and other health problems). I'd recommend oats, tinned sweetcorn or defrosted frozen peas for healthy treats for them. Again, it's just a chance to spend some time together reconnect (which is the aim of a date, right?).

8. Do something your significant other loves to do. You're more than likely to have an interest or two in common but there's nothing wrong with having separate ones either. It's nice to try out what the other person enjoys. Not long after we got together, we 'traded' me going to a rugby match for my now husband coming with me to watch an opera. A few years down the line, I've been to more rugby matches than I could count and I actually quite enjoy it (what can I husband likes me to watch muscle-y men in small shorts running around haha...joking of course). He's also grown to enjoy going to the theatre and we've seen quite a few operas, musicals and other productions since.

9. Which brings me nicely to....go to the theatre or a concert/ gig. If you wanted, you could add on dinner or drinks to give you more opportunity to talk. This is another thing that can cost as much or as little as you like. It could be anything from a huge perfomance in another town with an overnight stay to some really good live music in a local pub. Addmitedly we've paid more for the higher priced seats when we've really wanted to see a specific show or thought it was worth paying the extra to sit further forward (e.g. The Lion King musical-amazing!), but we often book theatre tickets months in advance and often we're able to see shows for around ten pounds each, bargain! Use google to find out what's on near you.

10. Play mini golf. It might be childish, but it's fun! It's a chance to have a giggle and I feel like we sometimes need life can get quite serious and it's fun to let your inner child out. Our favourite is Championship Adventure Golf in New Brighton, which we sometimes hop on a train to.

What's your favourite thing to do on a date?

Em x

Monday, 24 August 2015

Beauty Empties and Mini Reviews #13

Yet again I've got a big bag full of empty beauty products. As I think I said in my last empties post, I have still been making an effort to use up those things with just a little bit left to get rid of some clutter.

Make Up
All I've used up on the make up front are two of my favourite day to day items that I repurchase over and over. The first is the Max Factor All Day Primer, which really helps to keep my make up on for longer and contains SPF20. The second is the Rimmel Stay Matte powder which does what it says on the tin. I use the shade 'Peach Glow'.

I've used up a whopping seven skincare items, which are mostly made up of repurchases but there are a couple I probably won't. First I have three make up removal products. The Garnier Micellar Wipes are not something I use all the time because I like to remove the bulk of my make up with the Garnier Micellar Water most nights, which is something I've also finished. The wipes are good for lazy nights or emergency make up removal after a night out when you're just too tired, but I normally still wash my face with a proper cleanser afterwards as it's far better for the skin. Alongside these, I use the Garnier Simply Essentials 2 in 1 Make Up Remover, which works great even on heavier/ waterproof make up and is something I repurchase all the time.

I have used up a couple of products from the Nip + Fab Glycolic line. The Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix pads are something I use most nights as an exfoliating toner and they help keep my skin smooth and clear. The Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Serum is stronger than the pads so gives a bit of a boost if you want to give your skin a good exfoliation. This is something that I used maybe 2 or 3 times a week. I have another one because I bought them on 3 for 2 and I will used it up. However, I'm finding that I'm using their Overnight Purifying Gel in place of it. I feel like it's slightly more effective as a treatment for my oily/ spot prone skin because it contains salicylic as well as glycolic acid. I think I'd repurchase that over the serum next time, although it's still a great product.

The Garnier Pure Active moisturiser is something I've used when I've been a bit spotty because it contains salicylic acid. It definitely works but I'm not sure I would buy it again because it contains a lot of alcohol. Since buying it, I've been trying to avoid products that are too stripping/ contain a lot of alcohol because they're not great for the skin. 

 Finally, we have the Simple Kind to Skin Eye Balm, which is a lightweight eye cream that sinks in quickly and is ideal for the morning when I'm applying make up afterwards. Another definite repurchase.

Hair/ Random 
I'm not entirely sure why I photographed my empty shave gel with the hair products but I did so here we go. I used up the Gilette Satin Care with a touch of Olay shave gel. This felt nice and moisturising. I would buy it again if I saw it on offer but I went for a cheaper one as a replacement. It was nice but I figure that if I apply a moisturiser afterwards (which I do anyway), the moisture in the shave gel doesn't make too much of a difference.

 For hair, I have a Batiste Dry Shampoo (no surprises there) and a Dove Nourishing Oil Care Conditioner. The Batiste Blush isn't my favourite scent (I picked it up when others were out of stock) but Batiste does a great job of absorbing excess oil, I just feel like you need to be sparing with it to avoid grey hair. The conditioner was quite nice and I picked it up for around £1 on offer. I wasn't that amazed by it that I need to run out and get it when I have others to use, but I would have no problem with using it again.

I have used up six bath and body items, the first being the Palmer's Cocoa Butter Moisturizing Body Oil. This is a great multi purpose oil that you can use as a moisturiser or in the bath. I might well purchase it again at some point but not just now as I want to use other things up first. Then we have an Imperial Leather 'Paradise Island' bubble bath, which I believe I picked up for around £1. I like to have a cheap one that my husband can put in the bath. That sounds really mean haha but I actually let him use some of my Aromatherapy Associates bath oil recently...not that he'd care to admit that to his mates lol. Generally though, he's not one for fancy bath products so something from the supermarket does the job and this one smells nice. Then we have four Soap and Glory items, all of which I love. I used up the Soap and Glory Sugar Crush Body Scrub, Righteous Body Butter, Clean on Me shower gel and Flake Away Scrub. I'd definitely buy all of these again, just not at the moment, again due to trying to use things up (especially bath and body products). They all smell gorgeous and work well.

Which beauty items have you used up recently?

Em x

Friday, 21 August 2015

The £2 Solution for Travelling With Make Up Brushes

While doing our weekly food shop at ASDA the other day, I spotted this 'Really Useful Box' as it is called. It came with a piece of paper with pencils on it rolled up inside so I'm assuming that's what it is designed for, but the make up junkie in me saw it and instantly thought it might work well for brushes!

The great thing is that since it is made from rigid plastic, your brushes won't be floating around with your make up getting squashed or damaged. As a bonus, when you get to wherever you're going, you can pop the lid off and use each half as holder to stand your brushes up in.

I will say that if you are someone who travels with loads larger of make up brushes, then it probably won't be big enough for you, unless you want to buy more than one. For reference, it measures just over 7 inches long and the diameter is just over 2 inches which is just big enough for my essentials. I managed to fit 3 larger face brushes and 4 eye brushes in, but I did put brush guards onto the larger ones to keep the bristles compact without them ending up with a funny shape (I got mine via Amazon here a while ago, if you want to find out more about them).

Overall, I think this would be useful for someone who travels with just a few make up brushes. You can find the 'Really Useful Box' tube here via the brand's website. ASDA don't seem to have them online but it's worth checking your local store.

What do you think?

Em x

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Getting Crafty: Anniversary Card

I love making cards and in my experience, people really appreciate the effort-it just seems a little more personal than a shop bought card. This is what I came up with for my husband on our recent wedding anniversary. I thought this swan 'couple' design would be appropriate.

I used the 'Riverbanks Revels' range by Helz Cuppleditch as the basis of the design and added some details using a heart shaped punch from Dovecraft, some pearl stickers, bows and letter stickers that were in my craft stash. I used some 3D sticky pads to create the 3D decoupage design. I already had everything I needed. You can find the paper pack I used for £4.99 via Amazon here and the decoupage pad here for £9.89, also via Amazon. I've had the punch for a while, too, but you can find the same one here via ebay.

What do you think?

Em x

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Beauty Wishlist

1. Rosehip BioRegenerate Fruit & Seed Oil Blend 30ml (£22 via Beauty Expert here). I have been meaning to try rosehip as a facial oil for a while now after reading about its benefits and the fact that Kate Middleton uses it (if it's fit for a princess and all that haha). It supposedly helps with scarring and I'm interested to see what it would do for the pink-red marks left by spots on my skin. Personally, I find the most annoying part about getting a spot is that the mark seems to take forever to fade. I've tried a couple of other facial oils without any problems with breaking out so I'm interested to see how this compares. You can get Rosehip oil cheaper, but this one claims to be more effective as it is a combination of rosehip seed oil and fruit oil. whereas most are just from the seeds. I've read some really good reviews about how it's really improved people's skin.

2. Zoeva Cocoa Blend Palette (£15.50 here) I love a good neutral eye shadow palette and I have seen so many good reviews on this one. I googled swatches and it looks so well pigmented and good quality for the price.

3. Urban Decay Smoky Palette (£38 via Debenhams here). I've seen so many reviews of this too but being honest, I wanted it as soon as I first heard about it. I actually don't understand why this is part of the 'Naked' line up (other than the brand trying to capitalise on the already well known range), because surely smoky shades, especially cool toned ones, are the exact opposite of what the word 'Naked' suggests. I love the quality of Urban Decay eye shadows, though, and I don't think you can go wrong with the Naked palettes as they work out to be great value if you think of the cost per eye shadow.

4. TheBalm Mary Lou Manizer (£17.50 but currently on offer for £14 here) is something that has been on my mental wishlist for quite a while now. My problem is justifying the purchase because it seems to be a more dramatic highlight from what I can tell. It looks gorgeous but I would probably only use it for evening wear and I already have a couple of stronger highlighters. But you know when you just NEED something? Lol. I love face products from this brand and I'm sure this would be no exception.

What's on your current beauty wishlist?

Em x

Monday, 17 August 2015

Edinburgh Part 4: Sightseeing

Arthur's Seat
On our final day in Edinburgh, we checked out and left our luggage with the hotel as we weren't going home until the evening. We decided to go out for breakfast then get some tickets for the hop on hop off tour buses that go around the city so we could get an overview of the things we hadn't already seen. There is a little ticket office right opposite the main train station in the city center and the buses stop right by it so it is easy to locate. We chose to just stay on the bus but you can, if you would like, get off at certain points to go into places then pick up another bus when you come out as they come quite frequently.

We paid £14 each and honestly I think that was pretty good value considering the information that the tour guide knew. I mean I know he probably does this on an almost daily basis but I was impressed with just how much he knew about the city. We saw the famous statue of Greyfriars Bobby, Arthur's Seat (you can climb up this but I think you'd have to be a pretty adventurous, outdoors loving type), Holyrood Palace and various other points of interest around the city.

The (very strange) parliament buildings!

Greyfriar's Bobby
After our bus tour, we had just a few hours left before catching our train so we went for a little wander around and sit down in the park areas in the city centre before heading back to collect our luggage. A little bit of time to just relax was nice after our busy few days! We saw a few things we either hadn't already come across or just hadn't had the chance to really look at properly...

Overall, we such a lovely few days in Edinburgh and I'd really recommend it. It'a a beautiful city that is particularly great if you like sightseeing and history-it's full of things to see and do!

Have you ever visited Edinburgh?

Em x

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Edinburgh Part 3: Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Mile and Doughnuts

On day 3 of our trip to Edinburgh, which was our second wedding anniversary, we headed to the castle. The way we walked to it seemed like a bit of a trek up a steep hill but it was worth it. We paid a little extra to get an audio guide each. There are little shields on the walls with numbers on and you type in the number and press play to listen to information about each part of the castle.

It was very interesting, particularly for my husband, who is a bit of a history geek haha. We saw the Honours of Scotland as they are formally known, or the Scottish Crown Jewels (which you're not allowed to photograph). There were lots of interesting statues to see and several little museums contained within the castle, one of which we walked around (all are free to enter once inside the castle). They contained all kinds of military related things and information about the history of the castle.

Some of the medieval punishments sounded more than a bit gruesome!

I must admit that I was a bit dubious about visiting the castle as someone who is terrified of heights. I've been to castles before where I have only been able to see half of it due to being able to see down! Obviously castles were usually built somewhere high for defence reasons so that's just one of those things. Although Edinburgh castle is up high and inside the grounds also goes uphill, I was actually fine and saw some great views of the rest of the city, so I wouldn't let it put you off if you don't like heights. A lot of it is quite enclosed feeling, with buildings around the edge of the grounds. I just stayed away from the very edge where it was just a wall between you and the rock face, not being quite brave enough to walk right up the edge! I did, however, get my slightly braver husband to take some photos from by the walls haha.

After we'd finished, we walked around the Royal Mile, which is the name for the roads leading up the castle. Edinburgh was originally just the castle and the roads that lead to it until it began to expand. Today, it is full of souvenir shops and places to eat, While we were there, it was super busy due to the Fringe festival, with people handing out flyers to tourists about various events and performers in the street.

These guys in the photo above were amazing gymnasts who were doing everything with nothing soft on the ground to land on-just on the pavement! We came across St Giles cathedral on our travels as well...

After being on our feet for most of the day again (boy did we do a lot of walking on this trip!), we decided to stop at the Krispy Kreme Cafe across the road from our hotel. We can buy Krispy Kreme doughnuts in Tesco where we live but this place was something else and I didn't even know they existed. They had every doughnut you could ever think of and since it was our anniversary, we decided to celebrate with some to take away and put our feet up for a while back at the hotel before we started to get ready to go out for the evening.

We finished the day with a lovely meal at Jaimie's Italian and a couple of drinks at a lovely little pub we found that had some really great live music.

All in all, a great anniversary!

Have you ever visited Edinburgh Castle? Are castles somewhere you like to visit?

Em x

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Edinburgh Part 2: A Day at Edinburgh Zoo

On the second day of our trip to Edinburgh, we visited the zoo. It was easy to get to by public transport because there is a bus stop literally opposite, where 3 buses that come from the city centre stop.

I love to support well maintained zoos who look after their animals well. In an ideal world, we shouldn't really have to protect species by breeding in captivity but those who destroy their habitats and hunt them in the wild make it a necessary evil if we don't want them to disappear. The more reputable zoos do a lot of good conservation work.

Anyway...I've wanted to visit Edinburgh zoo for a while, ever since my friend went there and saw the only pandas in the UK. We booked online in order to book a time slot to see the pandas. It doesn't cost any more to see them, but numbers are limited at any one time because they are sensitive creatures and the zoo respect this and want to limit noise and disruption. You can turn up on the day and hope there are some places left but on the day we went, there was a sign up saying they were only allowing those who had pre booked to see them as they were restricting numbers further due to a possible pregnancy. It's actually a very special thing for that to happen because according to the information we read in the zoo, female pandas are only fertile for 2 days per year-so you can imagine that panda babies are a pretty rare occurrence. We therefore only saw one of the pandas (I assume the female one was out of view for this reason). He was lying down, almost asleep when we saw him and he was so cute. I'm sure it's not the case but he just looked like a big teddy bear you could have a cuddle with haha. We couldn't go home without a little panda souvenir from the gift shop.

Edinburgh zoo is also home to the UK's only koalas. Unfortunately, the top photo is a little blurry due to the speed of the koala! I didn't have chance to switch my camera onto the right settings for moving objects (or in this case, animals!) because she moved so fast and was making her way up into the trees, when I knew I wouldn't be able to take a photo. I had no idea that koalas could move so quickly but apparently they can!

On the other hand, the one in the second photo was so relaxed and in such a deep sleep, all while balancing on a branch, that my husband actually didn't believe he was a real koala haha...until we looked closely and could see him breathing  and a small movement of his paw.

A third animal that I'd never seen before was Edinburgh's two pygmy hippos. They're another endangered species due to their natural environment being destroyed. They eat fruit and leaves from shrubs and trees and as you can see, I spotted one hungry hippo!

Just look at this cheeky penguin...what a poser! haha.

We went right the way around the zoo and saw lots of other amazing creatures, it was well worth the visit! These are just a few of the pictures I took.The only thing I would say is that I lot of the zoo is uphill (and really quite steep!). Me and my husband were exhausted by the time we'd walked round half of it and stopped for a break-I'd recommend that you factor in some time for a rest during your visit!

Have you ever visited Edinburgh Zoo?

Em x