What's in my Bag?

Wednesday, 30 January 2013
What's in my Bag | Cocktails and Daydreams: A Beauty, Fashion and Lifestyle Blog
I've seen a few people do "What's in my bag" posts (most recently Charlene) and as I was packing my bag for work on Sunday afternoon I thought I'd take a few photos and do a quick post myself.  This is pretty much what my bag looks like on a normal Mon-Friday when I'm at work (with added lunch which I stick in before I leave in the morning). 

Whats in my handbag

Whats in my handbag

Whats in my handbag

As well as the usual bag staples like wallet, phone and keys (not pictured as they live beside the front door) I also carry with me;

  • an umbrella (this is Scotland, it is an essential)
  • diary
  • notebook (for writing shopping lists or blog ideas on the go)
  • some pens
  • emergencies bag (the "love is in the air" bag has things like paracetamol, indigestion tablets, tampons, plasters etc -basically a mini first aid kit)
  • carrier bag (the strawberry is one of those fold out bags - my mum gave me it and it's quite handy to have)
  • Figs & Rouge lip balm
  • Lipstick (I don't carry much makeup in my bag as I have a makeup bag in my desk at work with pretty much everything I'd need - so I tend to just carry whatever lipstick I'm wearing that day)
  • Hand sanitizer (got this in a Glossybox last year - it has a nice lavendar scent and is good for a little freshen up)
  • Breath freshener
  • Card wallet (for my work business cards)
  • Hair bobble & hair pins (so I've always got one handy when I go to the gym, as I always forget to pack a bobble in my gym bag)

The whole time I was writing this by the way I had this stuck in my head.....

January Haul: Primark & Topshop

Monday, 28 January 2013

Large Primark brown paper bags

I went for a wee post work shopping spree at Primark the other night (going in the evening is soooo much better, the shop is half empty and is tidy, and tiny queues for the changing rooms and checkout) and managed to pick up quite a lot of stuff.  I know how much everyone loves a Primark haul post (I do too!) so here's a bunch of photos for you to feast your bargain hunter eyes on.

I was actually planning on doing this haul as a Youtube video but after doing a wee test with my camera I discovered that the sound quality is pretty crap so I decided against it.

Primark cream lace front cardigan
lace front cardigan £12

Primark cream lace front cardigan

This cute wee crochet/lace cardie will look nice over spring/summer dresses

Primark studded shoulder purple jumper
jewel sweater £8.00 

Primark studded shoulder purple jumper

This jumper actually caught my eye as I was on my way to the escalator and I ended up buying it without even trying it on.  I've had it on like 3 times in the last week and a half though, so it was definitely a good impulse buy!  It's a lovely soft cotton and the diamantes really dress it up nicely.  They also had it in a pinky purple so I might go back and get that too!

Primark denim shirt dress with lace back
lace back shirt dress £10

Primark denim shirt dress with lace back

Primark denim shirt dress with lace back

LOVE this dress - it caught my eye the minute I walked into the shop.  Will probably have to wear it with a white vest underneath as the lace back is completely see through - although it will also go nicely with the cream cardi I bought too.

Primark black daisy top dress
daisy organza skirt dress £15

Primark black daisy top dress

This is a nice going-out type dress that looks more expensive than it is.  The top half is fitted and then it has a lovely floaty layered skirt (the back is plain black).

Primark coral hooded top

Primark coral hooded top

I've already got this hoodie in lilac and it's perfect for throwing over a t-shirt at the gym (I like that I can stick my iphone in the pocket so when I've got headphones on the wire isn't getting in my way).  The one I picked up didn't actually have a price tag on it so when I was at the checkout the girl was like, ah I'll just put it down as a fiver - it was probably supposed to be a bit more than that so I got myself a bargain!

Primark strawberry jam and toast pyjamas
toast & jam pyjamas: top £3.50 bottoms £5.00

Primark strawberry jam and toast pyjamas

Primark panda pyjama top
panda pyjama top £3.00

I definitely don't need more pyjamas but I was pulled in by the cuteness!  I couldn't find trousers to match the panda top but just bought it anyway - and the toast and jam ones are totally cheesy but I like them!

Onto the accessories now.  I went in with the intention of buying a new bag for work but was actually quite disappointed with their range - normally I find loads of bags that I like but this time it was a bit "meh".  I quite liked a few of the small overbody bags, and lots of the clutch bags, but that's not really what I was needing.  When I started looking at the jewellery though I stumbled across a display with some black and white bags and accessories and this black one caught my eye.

Primark large black tote bag
black tote bag £12

Primark large black tote bag

I realised that I don't actually have a plain black bag at the moment, so thought this would be ideal for work as it looks quite professional, has plenty room for my lunch and notebooks etc and at £12 it was a pretty good deal.  I did have to look through about 5 different ones before finding a bag without scratches all over it though - so annoying when that happens, the bags have clearly been getting chucked about all over the place so are covered in marks.

Primark black quilted tablet cover
quilted zip tablet cover £4

Primark black quilted tablet cover with acer aspire

I've been looking for a netbook cover for ages and recently discovered that my wee netbook has pretty much the same dimensions as an ipad which has made my search so much easier.  This one caught my eye when I was looking in the bag section - it's nice and classic looking, and is the perfect fit for my netbook.  And only £4!

Primark cream studded skinny belt
spike stud skinny belt £2.50

Primark 3 pack bracelets
3 pack friendship bracelets - £1.50 each

Primark 6 pack rings
6 pack rings £2

I picked up these jewellery bits as most of my jewellery at the moment is pretty chunky - like big bangles and huge statement rings - and is really impractical for work as it just gets in my way when I'm typing at my desk (my bracelets are forever clunking on the desk).  These are nice and simple and shouldn't bother me too much for day to day wear.

Primark limited edition mint and purple necklace
dipdye chain necklace £3 (was £8)

Primark limited edition mint and purple necklace

This is one of my favourite purchases - I saw it before Christmas but was put off by the £8 price tag (I know, what a cheapskate) and the fact that I wasn't sure it would go with any of my outfits.  When I was in last week though I saw it had been reduced down to just £3, and given that I've also picked up a purple jumper that I knew would go perfectly with a mint dress I had at home I thought it was meant to be.

 Mint and purple outfit

I also bought a few things on the Topshop website recently so thought I'd "haul" (urgh I don't really like that word, but it seems to be thing to call these posts and it's what people search for...so "haul" it is) that too.  Nothing too exciting really - some socks on their 3 for £8 deal, a lip crayon in a gorgeous bright pink, and a lipstick in the coral shade called "whimsical" (I've been lusting after this one for ages after first seeing it on Kate from gh0stparties' blog).  Really impressed with the lipsticks so far, so will probably write a proper post on them soon.

Topshop socks and makeup

Topshop lipstick whimsical and pink lip crayon

What have you been buying recently? 

WW Recipe: Beef and Guinness Casserole

Saturday, 26 January 2013
Time for another Weight Watchers friendly meal idea - this time featuring a version of one of my all-time favourite foods - the steak pie.

This comes in at around 9 ProPoints per serving (plus an additional 6 points if you're adding some pastry) so it's not the lowest of meal options but if you have a low points breakfast/lunch then I think it's perfect for a big Sunday dinner.

I forgot to take photos AGAIN so I've stuck in a picture of a similar (but non low-fat - check out the massive bit of pastry!) beef & guiness pie I made last year instead.

Weight watchers beef and guinness casserole recipe

Ingredients (serves 4)

500g lean beef chunks (ideally braising steak)
2 onions
4 carrots
175g mushrooms
450g potatoes (peeled and in chunks)
2 vegetable stock cubes dissolved in 300ml hot water
1 pint Guinness
1 teaspoon thyme


1) Spray a large pan/casserole dish with low fat cooking spray and brown the beef

2) Add the chopped carrots and onion and heat for 3-4 minutes

3) Add the stock, Guinness, mushrooms and thyme and season well.  Bring to the boil and then place in a dish in a preheated oven (180C) for 2 hours.  Alternatively, cook on the hob with the lid on for the same time (this is what I did).

4) Serve with potatoes and a small serving of puff pastry

The original recipe actually tells you to add the potatoes into the dish 1 and a half hours into cooking - but I made a summer casserole earlier in the week and did this and the potatoes were really hard, even after cooking for nearly an hour.  So to avoid horrible hard potatoes I decided to make healthy roasties instead.  

To do this I peeled and cut the potatoes into large chunks then boiled for 20 minutes in salted water.  After draining I shook them in a colander to make them fluffy then added to a roasting tray which was sprayed with low fat cooking spray.  I then sprayed the potatoes too and sprinkled with salt and pepper, then roasted in the oven for 45 minutes.  Hello yummy fluffy roasties!

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NTAs 2013: Best Dressed

Thursday, 24 January 2013
It was the National Television Awards last night so naturally one of the first things I did this morning was check out the red carpet photos to see what everyone was wearing.  As always seems to be the case with British award ceremonies though (with the exception maybe of the BAFTAs), there seem to be a hell of a lot more bad outfits than good ones (why do soap stars not know how to dress themselves properly?!).  I've managed to find a few that I liked though and have shared them below.

All images are taken from Look and you can see their full gallery from the awards here.

Caroline Flack
Laura Whitmore
Ashley Roberts

Ella Henderson

Samia Ghadie

Nikki Sanderson

Jacqueline Jossa
And finally - oooooft hello Mcfly!

Makeup Wishlist

Tuesday, 22 January 2013
Just after Christmas I bought myself some new makeup storage - I'd been wanting shelves like this for aaages and when I was out sales shopping I popped into Homebase (as I was sure I'd heard people say they had got them from there before) and after searching almost every aisle I eventually stumbled across exactly what I was looking for.  A few days later I started organising my makeup in them, and they now sit nicely on top of my chest of drawers (along with my jar of brushes).  

I know compared to a lot of beauty bloggers that doesn't look like a lot of makeup - but compared to what I used to have it feels like lots to me!  So I'm going to try and stop myself buying any more for a few months* - unless it's something I run out of, or it's a type of product I don't already have.  

Being a bit of a beauty addict these days though I still kind of feel the urge to buy something new so I thought I'd make a little wishlist instead so it's like I'm doing some virtual shopping without actually having to spend any money (perhaps doesn't make a great deal of sense, but oh well!).  

So here's my current makeup wishlist - I might buy some of these in a few months' time (or some might go on my birthday wishlist for March) but for now I'm just going to look and not touch!

I want to continue building my Real Techniques collection and the Setting Brush is next on my list.  Also I've decided that I'm going to give in and finally buy the Benefit Hello Flawless foundation - got really excited recently as I saw it was £15 on ASOS but it wasn't in my shade :(  And finally - OMG how beautiful is the Guerlain powder?!

*Ooops, actually just remembered that I bought 2 lipsticks from Topshop online the other day, they just haven't arrived yet!

Extracts #1: Sep '96

Sunday, 20 January 2013
As I was tidying up my room the other day I came across my box of old diaries and ended up spending about 2 hours just sitting reading through them and cringing at my former self.  I intermittently kept a diary from when I was about 11 up until my early twenties - so I've got entries that range from me talking about building a den in the woods with my friend, to moaning about my dissertation, and lots of talk about boys/men!  

It got me thinking that it might be fun to occasionally publish some of these old diary entries as a new feature on my blog, so that's what I'm going to do.    The exact words from the entry are in italics, with my comments in normal font.  All names have been changed (in bold) on the off chance that old school friends or people in real life end up reading this!

First up is the oldest one I have which is from 1996, when I was 11, and is an adorable little homemade leaflet complete with front cover drawings.  I only actually wrote in this for a few weeks in the September (the 96/97 on the front was perhaps a bit ambitious) and as you will discover, none of the entries were particularly exciting!  As they are all pretty short I've written up a couple - hope you enjoy this little step back into my past :)

Sunday 8th September 1996

Dear Diary,

Today we didn't go swimming (we used to go as a family every Sunday morning) so I got a video from the Spar (ahh the good old days when you could rent VHS from the Spar!).  It was Mighty Ducks.  When I was halfway through it Clare phoned me.  She came round and we went out on our bikes and went on a cycle.  When we came back we played hide and seek.  At night time Linda babysat.  We played consequences (easily entertained) and then I watched some of the Mighty Ducks.  I went to bed at 9.15pm.

from Lynne

Monday 9th September 1996

Dear Diary,

Today at school Laura was off Anna said she was sick or something.  We had an assembly and sang a song about litter (I totally remember this - a boy had to dress up as a crisp packet!).  When I came home from school I went to country dancing.  I don't know if I will go back or not.

from Lynne

awwww bless

Monday 16th September 1996

Dear Diary,

Today we went to Strathclyde Country Park it was excellent ("excellent" lol).  We went to the shows and Nikola and Dad went on the big wheel.  At night I went to line dancing at Gorebridge (such a cool kid!).  The dances were really fast.

from Lynne

Friday 20th September 1996

Dear Diary,

Today I went to the beach with Donna, Jane, Viv and Debby we climbed on the "at your own risk" bit it was kinda scary (awww).  But it was fun.  I got they bangles things (great English there - if I remember rightly they were coloured rubber band bangles that everyone had those days) and at night we went and looked at a new suite.

from Lynne

Monday 23rd September 1996

Dear Diary,

After school I went to country dancing.  It's alright.  Mandy is still acting stupid.  Nik and I had a hoola hoop contest.  We drew.

from Lynne

One thing I've learnt from this is at the age of 11 I didn't know how to use commas - lots of mini sentences all over the place where a coma would suffice!

REN Micro Polish Cleanser

Saturday, 19 January 2013
I recently repurchased my favourite REN Clarifying Clay Cleanser and as always got to pick a couple of samples to try (this is why I always buy REN products direct from their site, as you get some great little extras like this, and 10% off your favourite product!).  One of the samples I picked was the Micro Polish Cleanser.

This is a cleanser and exfoliator in one that claims to leave the skin looking purified, renewed and radiant.  It comes from their Radiance range of products, which is also where the Glycolic Radiance Renewal Mask (my favourite) is from, and contains papain from mexican papya, glycolic acid, and amber microbeads. 

hello ickle bottle!

It smells reeeeally fruity (which will be the papaya extract) and kind of reminds me of the St Ives Apricot Scrub that I'm sure everyone used to use at some point - although the REN Micro Polish Cleanser feels slightly gentler on the skin (the St Ives one was a bit rough for me).  I've been using this a few times a week after cleansing, massaging into my face in a circular motion then wiping off with a damp muslin cloth.

I really like the finish this gives my skin - my pores look evened out and my complexion definitely looks a lot brighter, basically as the name suggests it looks like my skin has had a good polish!  

At £20 for a 150ml bottle it might sound a bit pricey for an exfoliator, but having used A LOT of different exfoliators in my time this is definitely one of the best I've found - and you only really need a little bit at a time (I've used the little sample bottle about 4 times and there's still some left) so one bottle will probably last for ages.

WW Recipe: Chicken & Broccoli Cheesy Bake

Thursday, 17 January 2013
Time for another tasty but healthy dinner recipe from Weight Watchers that I've used recently.  The Chicken and Broccoli Bake with Cheesy Crust is just 5 ProPoints per serving (although I think my version was probably close to 7 points as I used a bit more cheese, and it wasn't low fat).  This is definitely one I'll be making again - it went down well with me and B (in fact he even took some to work for lunch the next day, so that's praise indeed!).

I actually remembered to take pictures this time too which is useful!

Weight watchers chicken and broccoli cheesy bake recipe ingredients

Weight watchers chicken and broccoli cheesy bake recipe
mmmm cheesy goodness!

Ingredients (serves 4)

150ml chicken stock
300g skinless, deboned chicken (I used breasts)
3tbps rosemary
1 jar Weight Watchers Roasted Garlc Pasta Sauce
I can chopped tomatoes
150g raw broccoli (chopped)
60g low fat grated cheese


1) Heat the chicken stock in a pot until simmering then add the chopped chicken and rosemary and simmer for 5 minutes.

2) Add the pasta sauce and chopped tomatoes then simmer for 10 minutes until reduced slightly.

3) Add the broccoli and simmer for a further 2 minutes.  Then spoon into a large dish and top with the cheese and a handful of breadcrumbs (you can make your own by blasting 2 slices of wholemeal bread in a processor but I just went with golden breadcrumbs that I had in the cupboard).

4) Stick under the grill for 2-3 minutes until nice and golden.

I served with salad and some brown micro rice (Tilda courgette and roasted pepper) - it was really filling and tasty, it didn't feel like I was eating a healthy meal at all.

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Golden Globes 2013 Best Dressed

Monday, 14 January 2013
Happy Monday everyone!  It was the Golden Globes last night - as I'm a sad wee 9-5er I didn't stay up to watch it live but I've been watching Youtube clips on my lunch break today from the ceremony (mainly Tina Fey and Amy Poehler lols).  So chuffed that Homeland and Girls got much deserved gongs!  Also, great to see Adele again - does anyone else find it hilarious that she is one of the biggest stars in the world at the moment and we still don't know the name of her baby??  Just goes to show that you can be famous and have a private life, and that you don't need to court the press in order to keep people interested in you.

Unsurprisingly, one of my favourite things about award ceremonies is checking out everyones outfits, so I've pulled together a quick post of who I think were the best dressed last night - let me know if you agree!  Pretty much all the ones I've chosen fit the same theme of sparkles and embellishment - I'm definitely a sucker for sequins!

All pics taken from heatworld.com - click here to view their gallery of ALL the dresses from the 2013 Golden Globes.

Isla Fisher

Kaley Cuoco

Kerry Washington

Kristen Bell

Mayim Bialik

Julianne Hough
That Julianne Hough one is probably going to be all over the worst dressed lists but I actually love it - it's a bit "Big Fat Gypsy Weddings" but the top half is so beautiful I kinda forgive the foofy bottom half!