July Snap a Day Challenge

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Taking inspiration from Sprinkle of Glitter 30 Day Snap (posting an image a day for the month of June) I've decided to do the same for July.  I actually really wanted to join in with the June series but thought it was a bit silly to start halfway through so am starting in July instead.

I loved reading Louise's daily posts (as well as fellow Scottish blogger Lynsey) - it's one of my favourite things about blogging, getting a little insight into peoples' lives.  It makes me feel like I'm a part of it somehow, like I'm getting a wee sneak peek into their day to day routine.  Like I'm sure I've said before....I'm incredibly nosy.

So starting on Monday I'll be posting a quick daily post featuring a snap from my day.  I'm notorious for starting things and never finishing them but I promise that I will try my very best to keep it up!

Current Skincare Favourites

Friday, 28 June 2013
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I don't seem to write many beauty posts any more which is ironic given that one of the main reasons I started this blog was so I could chat about makeup and beauty stuff.  Oh well, in an attempt to get back into the beauty blogging side of things I've written a skincare favourites post showcasing some of the products I've been loving on my face recently.


This first product is the closest I've gotten to a holy grail moisturiser.  Although to simply call it a moisturiser would be to do it a disservice, this isn't just a moisturiser (M&S lols), it's a rejuvenating treatment.  Origins Make a Difference + has a cool, gel-like consistency which makes it extremely pleasant to apply.  It feels so light on your skin and sinks in super quick leaving your skin looking refreshed and bright and feeling as smooth as a babys bum.  It's perfect for my oily skin - with most moisturisers I'm left with a greasy film and a horrible tacky sensation, but this does neither.  I apply it morning and night after cleansing and I love the effect it has on my skin.  My boyfriend has also taken to "borrowing" this of an evening - he never steals any of my beauty stuff so that's definitely the sign of a wonder product!  As you can see I'm close to finishing this tub and I'll definitely be repurchasing.


I was recently sent some products to try from a new skincare range from a brand called Ali Mac.  Ali Mac is a Scottish brand (tick) which specialises in organic, fairtrade products (tick) that are paraben free (tick), cruelty free (tick) and free from synthetic perfumes (tick).  It was the first time I'd been sent products for review and to be honest I was quite nervous that I wouldn't like them (fellow bloggers, what do you do in that situation? Write a bad review? Be constructive? Not write anything? And if the latter, do you contact the PR and tell them? So many questions!).  I needn't have worried though as I love both of these products!

First up the Chamomile Face Wash.  I've been using this every morning (switching to an Origins oil cleanser at night), working into a lather (you only need a tiny bit) and gently washing my face before wiping off with a muslin cloth.  It has a nice fresh scent which is sort of halfway between fruity and floral.  I also like that it doesn't lather up too much (similar to a paraben free shampoo - you get a bit of a lather but it's by no means bubble central) - I much prefer that to a soap overload.  My skin feels really refreshed after I've used it, and not tight or dry like some face washes do.

The face polish is probably my favourite of the two products.  It has quite a thick, almost lip balm like texture and has a lovely rose scent.  I've used this about 10 times in the last 2 weeks and as you can see in the photo I've barely made a dent so this jar is going to last for ages.  It contains natural sugars which exfoliate without feeling too harsh, and shea butter and argan oil which gives the polish a huge dose of moisturising power.  Even when I'm rubbing in the scrub I can immediately feel a smoothness on my skin, and once rinsed off it feels like I have a whole new face (bye bye dead skin cells!).


I picked this up in a recent Boots haul (as seen in my latest video) after my Bioderma micellar water ran out.  I went in search of a cleansing water and this seemed like the best value, with Vichy and La Roche Posay being twice the price.  I use this to remove my makeup at night before cleansing, and it does a great job of getting rid of every trace of foundation and even more toughest mascara (Benefit They're Real - which is a bitch to remove).  I only ever need one large cotton pad to do my whole face, so it's nice and quick to use.  There's not really much else to say to be honest, for me I just use it as a makeup remover so I'm left with a clean base to use cleanser, and it does the job, so yeah - win.


This mask has been my saviour in the past week.  It works a treat on hormonal breakouts - even after one treatment I can see a difference, with spots reduced and redness tamed.  It has a fresh mint/eucalyptus scent which I LOVE (eucalyptus is one of my favourite smells) but I know this is probably not to everyones taste.  The clay based mask needs just 10 minutes to get to work (similar to my other Origins fave - the charcoal mask).  I tend to apply it after cleansing and then once the 10 mins are up I gently rub it off with a muslin cloth.  As well as using on bad skin days I also tend to use this every few weeks as part of a pampering session.  I'm almost finished the bottle but will definitely be repurchasing!


Tempus Summer Menu Launch

Wednesday, 26 June 2013
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I recently went along to a summer menu launch at Tempus restaurant on George Street in Edinburgh.  This was the fanciest and most exciting blogger event I've been to so far - I pretty much couldn't believe my luck the entire time!  

I've been to Tempus a couple of times for lunch as it's quite close to my office, but had never been for a proper meal before so when I was invited to try out their new summer menu I jumped at the chance (I don't think I've ever answered an email quicker!).  So on the Thursday night me and my pal Euan (who guest posts at food blog Jemma Eat World) joined a host of other bloggers for what turned out to be a pretty special night.

When we arrived we were seated in the restaurant with a Sailor Jerry cocktail (don't mind if I do) and  welcomed by David Welch the general manager of the George Hotel.  He then introduced the head chef Stewart Jarvie who talked us through the new summer menu. Tempus aim to provide fresh, tasty food (one of the notes that I made during the night was that famous chef Martin Wishart comes here for his lunch - so that should be an indication of how good the food is!).

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We were given a sample portion of starters, mains and desserts to share between 2 people along with glasses of 6 different wines to accompany the dishes.  There was also a wine expert on hand (Neil Robertson from Bibendum) who talked us through each of the wines and explained how they complimented various dishes - it was really interesting, especially for a complete wine dunce like me (I like to drink it...but I know nothing about it!).  

Beforehand I'd assumed that the menu tasting would consist of small canapes so the fact that we had a proper taste of everything was amazing - we were all stuffed by the end!  The food was incredible - I've gone through each course below, and my mouth is watering at the memories!

Starters

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My favourites here were the mushrooms on toast (the brioche added a totally different flavour to your usual garlic bread) and the crispy duck salad which had a lovely smoky flavour.  I will admit I didn't touch the mussels (I left those to Euan) as I've tried mussels before and they are definitely not my cup of tea - but I did eat the smoked salmon which is something I thought I didn't like but it was actually delicious!

Main Courses

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Wow, these were all amazing.  Hard to pick a favourite (when I go back for a full meal - which I absolutely will be doing soon - god knows what I'm going to choose!) but I think I'd narrow it down to the pork belly (oh god it just melts in your mouth) or the burger.

Desserts

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I could eat that creme brulee allllll day.  I've never had a creme brulee with coffee in it before, it was unbelieveable.  The coconut ice cream was also a beaut.

After the meal we were all super excited to hear that we were to head up to the panoramic suite of the George Hotel for a glass of champagne.  As you can imagine, the views from here were incredible - Edinburgh I heart you!

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We ended up spending a good few hours up here sitting with a glass or two of champagne enjoying the warm evening, it honestly felt like we were on holiday.  Me, Kirsty, Gillian and Laura were the last ones standing (that's becoming a bit of a habit....) leaving at about 11.30 with full bellies and contented wee faces.

Like I said at the start of this post, this was probably the best event I've been to - we were treated so well and the food really spoke for itself.  I for one am already planning a visit with B for a meal soon - the only problem will be deciding what to eat!


Video: Collective Haul

Tuesday, 25 June 2013
Time for another haul video - this time it's collection of various shopping trips all combined into one big haul. I'm conscious of the fact that pretty much all the videos I've made so far have been hauls so I am going to try and film something a bit different in the next week or so (I quite like doing tags so if you see any good ones let me know!).  Watch this space...


Travel: Budapest 2011

Monday, 24 June 2013
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Bit of a dip into the past from me today.  I enjoy writing about what I've been up to, and I've previously done posts on holidays like my trip to Paris last year so I thought I'd share another holiday with you today from 2011.

Budapest was B and I's first abroad holiday together. We chose it after looking at what cities in Europe you could fly to from Edinburgh and narrowing it down to the places we fancied visiting.  I'll be honest, I pretty much knew nothing about Budapest so it was B who suggested it and after a quick browse on Google images I saw how pretty it looked and was sold.

It's a really lovely city - the architecture is beautiful and it's ideal for a romantic break as there are so many pretty places to go for a walk, or just sit and take in the views of the city.

Where we stayed

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Given my day job (online marketing for hotels) I'm pretty picky when it comes to accommodation so I spent a LOT of time researching hotel options before we finally made a booking.  We eventually settled on Lord Apartments as they looked nice and modern and were near a supermarket (Tesco!) and transport links (2 mins walk from a metro and the main tram line).  The apartment was ideal for us - it had a little kitchen area where we cooked all of our meals (we didn't eat out once so saved loads of money - even if we did pretty much eat bread, crisps, and pesto pasta every day, ha), a flat screen TV with DVD player (we brought a bunch of DVDs with us for watching at night), and an air con unit which was much needed!

As I mentioned, it was close to all the main transport links and we had planned on buying a 4 day travel pass so we could hop on/off trams, trains and metros the whole trip but we actually ended up walking pretty much everywhere as we discovered that we were fairly central (about a 10 min walk from the parliament and the river).

What we did


We're more city break sightseeing types than lounging at the pool beach holiday types, and B is a history graduate so our plans for the trip were to visit lots of historic places.  Budapest is famed for its baths but we didn't actually visit any on the holiday, to be honest it didn't really appeal to me (I'm not really the spa type!).

I'm a very organised person when it comes to a holiday so we had an itinerary all planned out beforehand and managed to make our way through everything on our list.  I've picked out my favourite bits from the trip, I'd definitely recommend checking these out if you're planning on visiting Budapest.

Memento Statue Park

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The statue park is exactly as it sounds - a park (well.....it actually feels more like a huge abandoned car park) full of statues of communist dictators many of which were removed from the city after the fall of the communist regime.

It's outwith the city centre so you have to get a bus out there which takes about an hour.  It's a really bizarre place, first of all it's in the middle of nowhere (we thought we'd got off at the wrong bus stop at first), and secondly it's quite an eery experience, especially if it's empty like it was when we were there.  I found it so interesting though seeing all the different statues and imagining them being in the cities (especially the MASSIVE ones).  It's brilliant for photo opportunities too - I love that one of me by the huge Red Army soldier statue, I look like a small child.

Cruise of the Danube

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A river cruise is a staple for me and B - every time we visit a city with a river we always end up on a boat, haha.  Like most of these places there are several river cruise companies to choose from, we went for the Duna Bella Legenda daytime cruise, it had audio commentary on headphones (in English obviously....my Hungarian is emm non-existant) and a free drink and took us along the river past the Buda and Pest areas of the city lasting about an hour and a half.

Hungarian Parliament Building

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You can go on a tour of the inside of the parliament building (when not in session) but we just went for a walk around the grounds.  It's a really beautiful building and there are some lovely well kept gardens too which were perfect for chilling out on a relaxing afternoon.

Chain Bridge

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A walk over this bridge is essential - it's a lovely little romantic walk, especially if the sun is setting or it's nighttime and all the pretty lights are on across the city.  

House of Terror


This might not sound like a fun holiday activity but the House of Terror museum was incredibly interesting and I'd definitely recommend paying it a visit.  It's part museum about the communist and fascist dicatorship in 20th century Hungary, and part memorial for the victims of the regime (some who were killed in the building).

Under 25s get in for a discount so if you're lucky enough to still be that young then it's a cheap day out (annoyingly as B's birthday is 7 months after mine he was still 25 at the time whilst I had to pay full price....like I was out with my toy boy).  As bad as it sounds, the best bit of the museum is the tour of the cells - again it's a really eery experience but fascinating all the same.

So there we go, that's my picks of Budapest.  I hope you liked this wee peek into my holiday past - I might dig in my travelling archives again at some point as this was quite fun (and it's made me even more excited about my holiday to Berlin & Frankfurt in September!).

OOTN: Flowers in her Hair

Sunday, 23 June 2013
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Urgh can I just start by saying that I am rubbish at coming up with titles for outfit posts so this is the best I could do (I was singing it to the tune of McFlys "5 Colours in Her Hair").

This is the outfit I wore last week on a night out in Edinburgh with friends (I'm not going to go into details but lets just say the outcome was the worlds worst hangover).  The black lace dress is from River Island last year and I have worn it to death (in fact I think I've featured it in 3 outfit posts on here so far).  I just love the shape of it, it's the perfect length for me (as my legs are a hell of a lot skinnier than the rest of me so I suit a mid-thigh cut), has capped sleeves, nips in at the waist, and the sheer neckline means it is the perfect midpoint between boring/tarty.

The coral cardigan is a fairly new purchase from Dorothy Perkins (it's now on sale btw).  I really like the pretty lace and gem detail,  it makes a nice change from a plain old boring cardie.

I wore my studded Primark ankle boots which are my favourites- although these do have annoyingly slippy soles so aren't the best option for an evening where you are planning on having a few vinos and going somewhere with shiny floors (you may for example find yourself skidding into a table of men with pints....not that that happened to me).

Accessories wise I went for a tan and crochet belt (Primark), sparkly coral ring (also Primark), and a tan over the body bag (Dorothy Perkins - old).  I also wore a Primark floral headband in my hair after adding loose curls with my Enrapture Totem Styler.

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I've listed the products below that I used on my face - going for my standard look of coral cheeks/lips and shimmery eyes.
  • Chanel Vitalumiere foundation
  • Rimmel Wake Me Up concealer
  • Chanel Natural Finish loose powder
  • Benefit Hervana blush
  • Topshop Crescent Moon highlighter
  • HD Brows kit (set with clear lipgloss)
  • Naked 2 YDK and Busted
  • Benefit They're Real mascara
  • Rimmel Exaggerate liquid eye liner
  • Topshop Whimsical lipstick

Benefit Stay Flawless

Saturday, 22 June 2013
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prosecco - a blogger event essential
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cute cushions
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canape time
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Stay Flawless demo
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my prize!
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cocktails at Dragonfly
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outfit of the night - all primark!

A few weeks ago I went along to my first Benefit Cosmetics blogger event at Hemma Bar in Edinburgh.  I've always been quite jealous when I've read other bloggers posts about Benefit events as they look like so much fun, and this one didn't disappoint!  The Benefit girls are all so friendly and lovely, and they know how to keep us bloggers happy - plenty of Prosecco and lots of makeup chat!

So why the occasion?  Well following the success of the Porefessional they are launching a new primer - Stay Flawless - and this one claims to make your foundation stay in place for a whopping 15 hours thanks to its magnet-like technology.  We each got one to take home and try, along with a bottle of their Hello Flawless foundation which had been colour matched for us on the night.  I'd actually been planning on buying the foundation anyway as my current fave (Chanel Vita Lumiere) is about to run out - so that was some brilliant timing!

As well as introducing us all to Stay Flawless (including a demo from makeup artist Lisa) there were also a few Benefit quizzes to see how well we had been paying attention and I managed to get my hand up quick enough for one question and won one of the makeup kits (including minis of some of my fave products like They're Real mascara and That Gal brightening primer).  

It was a really fun night - one of the main things I love about blogging is that you get to meet up with other people who share your love of sitting around chatting about makeup and all things beauty, and we certainly did a lot of that!  Afterwards Gillian and Laura and I weren't quite ready to end the night so we went out for some cocktails at Dragonfly along the Grassmarket (they were amazing - considering my love of cocktails I can't quite believe I'd never been there before!).  Bring on the next one!


Stay Flawless Review

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So as I said we all received a full size Stay Flawless primer in our goodie bags at the end of the night, and given its 15 hour staying power claim I thought I'd put it to the test one day and take photos throughout to see how it performed.  So coming up, lots of close up shots of my face (taken on my iPhone so the quality isn't perfect I'm afraid).

Stay Flawless Test #1


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The first time I tried the primer I applied it to my face directly with the stick in circular motions (as advised during the demo) before quickly applying foundation with my fingers.  I then used my trusty Collection concealer under my eyes and around some other areas of redness before setting with Chanel loose powder.

As you can see from the lunchtime photo my face looks pretty much the same as it did in the morning apart from the fact my blush has faded and my lipstick has rubbed off.  So far so good.  

Once I got home from work I did notice though that my foundation had started to rub off on my t-zone leaving my skin a bit shiny and makeup had started to settle in my pores  (although you can't really tell in the photo so I've put a close up below - excuse the brows, I've been getting HD brows done and I was warned not to touch the tweezers!).  

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To be fair though, it usually looks a hell of a lot worse than that so I could definitely see that Stay Flawless had given my makeup a bit more longevity than normal.

Not entirely convinced by the day 1 results I waited a week and did another test.  This time I took a slightly different tact and after applying the primer in circles I blended it in with my fingers (particularly around my nose and chin) before applying my foundation with my trusty Real Techniques Buffing Brush.

Stay Flawless Test #2

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Again by lunchtime my makeup still looks pretty good (although there was a bit of shine on my chin but I put that down to my greasy panini lunch).  By the end of the day however most of my foundation had rubbed off and my nose and t-zone look pretty shiny.  

For me I think this is a good product but unfortunately it just doesn't give me as long lasting a finish as the 15 hour tag promises.  Whilst my makeup stayed in place most of the day I think if I was going out after work I'd definitely still need to reapply my base (or at the very least reapply powder).  I think this has a lot to do with my oily skin type though as the product has quite a waxy feel to it so even after applying powder my face still had a bit of a tacky feel to it (even though it looked matte).  If my skin wasn't so oily though I can see this working much better - damn my tricky skin!  

Benefit Stay Flawless is in shops on the 29th June and retails at £24.50.  I was given this product for free however I was under no obligation to write a review and all opinions are completely honest.

Day at the Races Outfit

Thursday, 20 June 2013
Oh hiiiii – I’ve been a bit MIA for the last week which is mainly due to having an epic 3 day hangover which threw my blog schedule right out of the window. Aaaaanyway, I’m back now and have got a bunch of posts planned for the next week or so (and I’m officially off the booze for a while) so let’s get on with it eh?!

I’m quite lucky with social events at my work - we tend to have 2 big things and then a bunch of small events (like bowling or a pub quiz) throughout the year. For the 2 main events there’s a Christmas do where we go to a hotel for a party and an overnight stay (this year we’re at Blythswood Square – can’t wait!), and then the other thing we do is go for a day at the races in the summer.

This years’ race day is coming up next Friday and I can’t bloody wait. We’ll be in the office until lunchtime and then we’ll head down to Musselburgh Racecourse for an afternoon of betting and enjoying a few drinks in the sun (well, fingers crossed there’s sun!). Afterwards we’re coming back into Edinburgh for dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe followed by drinks along George Street. It’s a great opportunity for us all to socialise together away from the office, and based on previous years it’s always a good laugh.

I’m currently trying to plan my outfit and am having a bit of a dilemma as to how dressy to go- it’s not a special Ladies Day type event or anything so I don’t need to go all out, but I do want to be a bit more fancy than my usual day to day outfits – decisions decisions! I’m determined not to buy anything new as I’ve seriously overspent in the last few months, so I’ve done a bit of fantasy shopping and put together a Day at the Races outfit below.  I think it would actually work well for a summer wedding too.

I’ll make sure I do a proper outfit of the day post on the day so you can see what I actually end up wearing.
dress - miss selfridge - £55
blazer - topshop - £65
clutch - asos - £12.99
wedges - new look - £24.99
headband - crown & glory - £15


The post serves as my entry to the Casino Choice Dress for the Races competition to win £200 of ASOS vouchers.