New Skincare Favourites

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

I feel like I haven't written about beauty in a while (apart from my Body Shop giveaway - which ends this Thursday!) and I've actually been trying lots of new products but just haven't got round to writing about them - terrible blogger alert.  I've picked out a couple of my current favourite skincare items for you though, these are all products that I've only really got into using in the last month or so and they are already becoming firm faves.

REN is one of my favourite skincare brands and I've tried almost all of their cleansers now (some have just been mini samples) so when I saw that they had a new Hot Cloth Cleanser I knew I had to give it a go.  I've never given in to the Liz Earle Cleans & Polish hype, although I have tried the Superdrug Vitamin E one which didn't really blow me away (it's a perfectly good cleanser, I just don't love it).  I'm enjoying the REN version so far though - firstly, it has a lovely rose scent which I find really calming, especially when using it at night before bed.  I like how it leaves my skin feeling really soft and moisturised too, much nicer than with a foaming cleanser.

I was also really impressed with how well it takes off makeup too - up until a couple of days ago I was using it after removing makeup with cleansing water as to be honest, I didn't really expect it to be able to remove makeup to the same extent.  The other night I was feeling lazy so decided to just use the hot cloth cleanser to take off my makeup and was seriously impressed - I just used one pumps worth of product and it took everything clean off (even my mascara).  Since then I've been using it as my makeup remover and then following up with the REN clay cleanser as a "double cleanse" in the evening and it's working really well.

Facial oils and serums are one of those products that I've only really started using since I began reading and writing blogs.  It was a big enough step getting me to actually start using a moisturiser on a daily basis (yep), so it feels a bit like I'm in the big leagues now I'm using facial oils (oooh check me out with my fancy skincare routine).

I made a bit of an undignified entrance into this new world though by completely hashing my first use of the Body Shop Vitamin E oil.  I ended up putting faaar too much on, my face was basically like an oil slick and after 2 hrs it still hadn't budged so I had to wash it all off and start again - fail! Since then though I've learnt that a little goes a long way and have been adding a little drop to my moisturiser at night and applying it that way.  I feel like it gives my moisturiser an extra little boost and my skin always looks all fresh and glowy in the morning when I've used it the night before. As it contains vitamin E it's also supposed to help protect the skin against the damaging effects of the environment and premature aging and believe me, I'm going to need all the help I can get (turning 30 in 8 months people....).

Like the Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanser, Hydraluron was one of those products that I heard so many bloggers rave about last year but I somehow avoided giving in to the hype.  When I went on a Scottish bloggers holiday in November though I tried a little bit of Kirsty's and was really impressed by how amazing it made my skin feel.  I think she must have remembered this as for my birthday in March the wee gem bought me these Hydraluron Masks and I have been absolutely loving using them as a proper skin treat.  As they are sheet masks you look completely ridiculous wearing them - I won't frighten you with a photo, although I did send Kirsty one via Whatsapp so no doubt that's been banked for some future embarassment.

The masks are basically coated with a thick layer of Hydraluron moisturiser, so your skin gets a huge moisture boost - perfect if you're suffering from dry skin.  You're supposed to leave the mask on for about 10 minutes although I tend to leave it for around half an hour but if you don't really like the feel of something sitting on your skin then you might not be able to stand it for this long.  Afterwards you can rub in the excess product like you would a normal moisturiser - it has a lovely cooling, gel like consistency so you're not left with a horrible sticky feeling and it sinks in fairly quickly.

So that's what I've been enjoying using on my face over the last couple of months - do you have any recommendations for things I should try?

Day in the Life

Friday, 25 July 2014
7.30am - I get up after my third alarm (the first two, 6am and 7am, are really just to gradually wake me up, I have no intention of getting up earlier than 7.30!), go to the bathroom to brush my teeth, wash my face and put in my contact lenses.  

7.45am - I like to lay out all of my makeup for the day before I start applying, that way I don't forget anything (if I'm really tired it's quite possible I could accidentally leave the house without doing my eyebrows for example).  I then give my hair a quick brush through with my fingers and pin up at the sides, ready to get dressed.

8.15am - All dressed and ready to go.  Today I'm wearing a sweatshirt from Dorothy Perkins, a skater skirt from New Look, and a necklace from Rings & Tings*.

8.30am - Waiting for the bus to work on a foggy July morning.  Catching up on Twitter whilst sitting at the bus stop on my lonesome.

9am - Starting the morning at work off by switching on my laptop, pouring myself a glass of water, and then checking through my emails.  The background on my work laptop is a photo I took in Copenhagen in March.

1pm - A couple of my colleagues go out for a walk in the sunshine at lunchtime but being the cool kid I am, I decide to spend my lunch hour catching up on my Youtube Watch Later playlist instead.  Outside is overrated people.

3pm - I spend the afternoon writing work schedules for the next month for each of my clients.  These outline how we plan on spending our retainer time during the month so the team know what needs to be done.  I'm also listening to old Ricky Gervais XFM show podcasts to keep me going until the end of the day.

5.30pm - After work I head along to Primark to find shoes and a bag for a wedding I'm going to on Friday.  I also pick up a couple of things for my cousins' birthday as I'm going up to Aberdeen for her 40th next weekend.

7pm - Whilst dinner is cooking I'm outfit planning for the wedding.  The shoes and necklace were bought at Primark and I think they go pretty well with my new ASOS dress, but I'm still undecided on the bag.  I didn't find one in Primark so I'm trying to match it up with bags from my collection.

8pm - Dinner is served!  Tonight I made a beef casserole with red wine, spinach and peas, served with roast potatoes and yorkshire puddings.  During dinner we watch The Chase which we recorded earlier - this is pretty much our routine every evening - we're Chase addicts!

8.30pm - One of my favourite time saving activities is washing my makeup brushes whilst I'm in the shower.  Seriously, it's multitasking at its finest.

9pm - My skin isn't great at the moment so I'm relying on my trusty Origins Out of Trouble mask to work its magic before the wedding tomorrow.

10pm - Like most evenings, I spend the majority of the time watching TV.  Tonight we watched The Honourable Woman which I'm really enjoying (Hugo Blick is just ace, his previous show The Shadow Line was one of the best British shows I've seen in recent years), followed by The Secret Lives of Students which is equal parts fascinating and infuriating (some of them are frustratingly naive).

11pm - Aaaand finally, time for our current obsession - a bit of Curb in bed.  It's just so bloody good, Larry David you are my hero.

I took inspiration for this post from a similar series by the blogger Becky Bedbug.  If you find this sort of post interesting then make sure you're subscribed to my Youtube channel as I'm posting pretty regular "follow me around" type vlogs these days. 

Being Tourists in Glasgow

Monday, 21 July 2014
These days I find myself through in Glasgow quite a lot, but it's mainly for blogging events or to meet friends for drinks, so the other weekend Blair and I decided to stay for a few nights and be tourists.  We stayed at the Citizen M hotel where we spent his birthday a few years ago.  This is one of my favourite hotels in the city, it's just so cool!  I'm not going to say much about the hotel itself as I wrote a full review post about it last time, but I'd definitely recommend it if you're looking for somewhere to stay in Glasgow.


We travelled through early on Friday afternoon and after checking into the hotel we went for a wander round the shops (couldn't resist the pull of the big Primark).  We'd originally planned on going to a museum but we would have only had an hr to look around before it closed so decided to just have a fairly chilled day on the Friday, leaving the proper touristy stuff to Saturday & Sunday.  After shopping we went to Meat Bar for dinner, I loved the decor here - it felt a bit like being in a ranch in the wild west ha!  B went for a burger and I had a pulled pork sandwich - it was nice but I've had better (the chips on the other hand were great).  We went back to the hotel for some drinks at the hotel bar before watching The Raid in  our huuuuuge bed (free movie database, woo!).

The next morning we had a bit of a lie in (because, hey we're on holiday) before getting the bus along to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.  There's loads to see here as it's such a huge, stunning  building - and like all Glasgow museums it's free to enter.  One half of the building is the museum with sections on natural history (animals!), Scottish history, armoury, Egypt, and other world cultures.  Halfway through we had a quick tea and cake stop in the cafe to refuel before tackling the art gallery side of the building, this is where I snapped that photo of the hanging faces piece, pretty cool eh?  


Once we were done with Kelvingrove we went for lunch at La Vita Spuntini, an Italian tapas place on Byres Road.  They have a cheap lunch deal where you get 3 tapas for £6.99 so we shared mini pizza, pasta, meatballs, roast potatoes, arancini,  and chicken wings - it was alright, nothing amazing but pretty decent for £6.99 (and the staff were all really chatty and friendly).

By this point Glasgow weather started to get the better of us so we decided to spend the afternoon on a bus tour rather than wandering around in the rain.  If you've read some of my other travel blog posts you'll probably know that we're quite fond of a bus tour when we go on holiday, haha - I just think it's a really good was of getting a quick overview of the whole city and you can then always go back to the bits that you want to see more of.  

Saturday night we went for dinner at Bread Meats Bread, another place I'd been looking forward to as I'd heard lots of good things about it.  I went for the smoked beef brisket and sweet potato fries and it was maaaasssive, but so good.  With full bellies we turned down the desserts menu and instead went back to the hotel to get some drinks from the bar and take them up to the room so we could watch the world cup final in bed (yaaay Germany).  

The next morning we got up pretty early to pack up and check out, leaving our cases at the hotel so we could see a bit more of Glasgow before getting the train home.  Firstly we got a bus out to the Riverside Transport Museum which a couple of people had recommended.  This is a really fun museum with lots to look at like a life sized street, subway, trains, buses etc - also you can get on a tall ship outside which was pretty cool (turns out you can actually get married on the tall ship!).  Once we'd had our fill of transport we got the bus back into town and went for brunch at Cup Tea Lounge which is in a really lovely old building just off Buchanan St.  I went for pancakes and bacon which was nice but it could have really done with some syrup or something as it was a bit dry.  


After brunch we picked up our cases and got the train back to Edinburgh, stopping off at my parents house to pick up our car (as my dad had been giving it an MOT) and have a few drinks in the garden in the sunshine.  It was a really nice little weekend, and it was good to be able to see the other side of Glasgow that isn't just bars, restaurants and gig venues!  If you're subscribed to my Youtube channel you've probably already seen that I vlogged the whole trip, but I've also linked it below if you fancy seeing our weekend in action :)

What I've Been Eating #4

Saturday, 19 July 2014
Mmmm time for another food post! If you follow my Slimming World Instagram account then you've probably seen all of these meals before as I try to post a photo of my dinner every day, although I have been slacking a bit recently (tut tut).  I'm still pretty much sticking to my staple of meat, potatoes and veg, but I have managed to keep quite a lot of variety within that so it's not felt too samey.  If you're following the Slimming World plan (or just trying to eat fairly healthily) then hopefully this gives you some meal ideas to try.

This is a good example of a meal that I've adapted slightly to fit with the Slimming World plan.  Fajitas is one of Blair and I's favourites but wraps are pretty syn-full so while I made B a regular fajita dinner I omitted the wraps from mine and served the chicken and peppers on a bed of salad leaves instead. Served with half a pouch of Uncle Bens mexican rice (1.5 syns), a dollop of salsa, and a sprinkle of cheese (which was my healthy extra A for the day).

Pre-made burgers and sausages are generally a no-no on Slimming World, but I've recently discovered a company called Joe's Sausages who sell really low fat sausages & burgers online.  You have to make a minimum order of 8 packs, so I did a bit meat shop (hehe) and got a bunch of different sausage and burger combinations delivered, all for the total cost of around £30.  As far as I'm aware all of the foods are syn free, although don't quote me on that.  In this example above I'm having a pork & apple burger on a wholemeal bun with a bit of low fat cheese (my healthy extra's A & B for the day), served with chips and stir fried baby corn and mushrooms.  The burgers were ace, really moist and tasty - you totally couldn't tell that they were low fat.  

This was the meal I made for Kirsty and I when I had her over the other week.  It's a recipe called Diet Coke Chicken, which sounds disgusting but it actually tastes really good!  You basically just cook chicken, onions and peppers with a can of diet coke and passata, and the end result tastes a bit like a sweet barbecue sauce.  Yum yum!  I served this with roasted herby new potatoes, and roasted asparagus.

I took this cajun chicken recipe from the Slimming World magazine - it's a super easy one and tastes bloody great.  Just take a couple of chicken thighs and drumsticks, spray with one cal cooking spray and sprinkle over cajun seasoning, stick in the oven for about 45 minutes and it's done.  I served with corn on the cob (also sprinkled with the cajun seasoning) and potato wedges (again, just sprayed with one-cal cooking spray and baked).  The meal has a bit of a summer BBQ feel to it, and in fact you could cook the chicken and corn on the cob on the BBQ if you wanted.

Yep you can still eat a cooked breakfast on Slimming World, thank god, haha!  I used a couple of syns on the potato scones and the tomato ketchup, but the bacon (fat trimmed), scrambled eggs, mushrooms, and toast (1 slice wholemeal as my healthy extra B for the day) was all freeeee.  The best way to start a weekend.

Another great weekend staple is the Sunday roast (I actually cooked this on a Tuesday, but don't tell anyone), and again you can still eat this sort of thing on Slimming World.  I realise this whole post sounds a bit like an ad for Slimming World but it's just because it's pretty much always on my mind now when I'm making meals so I can't help it, haha.  I cooked the chicken breast in a roasting tin, sprayed on both sides with one cal cooking spray and seasoned with salt, pepper and dried herbs.  I used some syns on the mini yorkshire puds (2.5 syns each) and gravy, but the roast potatoes were just made with the one-cal cooking spray so were totally free.

In one of my other "What I've Been Eating" posts I talked about the KFC "fakeaway" recipe where chicken is dipped in egg and then in smash granules to make a kind of low fat batter, and this is a slight variation on this as I've added lemon juice to the egg to make lemon chicken.  Served with a baked potato (finished off in the oven so it's all soft in the inside), some grated cheese (my healthy extra A for the day) and asparagus and thin stemmed broccoli.

Lastly, I wanted to show you how I've been trying to incorporate fruit into my diet recently.  I'm not really a fruit fan - I love fruit flavoured things, but there's something about the fleshy texture of fresh fruit that I really don't like.  I know it's good for me though so I've been trying to force myself to like it recently and have found that adding fruit to other things makes it a bit easier.  Here's some examples of how I've done that - the top one is apple added to a toffee mullerlight yoghurt, and a little squeeze of honey, this was my breakfast the other day when I had a day off.  The final photo is mixed seedless grapes with a few sprays of light UHT cream and a teaspoon of Choc Shot (1 syn).  I can't say I loved either of these, but it wasn't unpleasant, which is a start!

Do let me know in the comments if you've got any other tips for trying to make yourself like fruit….I'm determined to start enjoying it!

Beauty Throwback Thursday: Body Shop Strawberry Giveaway

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Something a wee bit different for you today, it's a beauty themed throwback Thursday!  Like most teens in the late 90's I was OBSESSED with The Body Shop.  It was my brand of choice when it came to any sort of bath or body product, and I'd love nothing more than wandering around the store breathing in that sweet sweet smell.  My absolute favourite scent from there was the Strawberry range, I'm sure I even used the body spray as a perfume - so good! 

I was recently sent some items from The Body Shop for review and the minute I opened the package I was overwhelmed with the scent of my youth.  Don't you just love when a scent can transport you to a time in your past?  Speaking on which, I'm not even 100% sure that this was from The Body Shop, but when I was younger I had a tropical scented body spray that I used allll the time and whenever I caught a whiff of it somewhere in the years following I'd immediately feel like I was back in the 90's.  Man I wish I could find that again, it was amazing.

Anyway, I digress.  As I said, I was recently sent a couple of items from The Body Shop, most of them from my favourite Strawberry range.  The Strawberry Body Butter, enriched with fair-trade shea butter has a delicious strawberry cream scent that sticks around on your skin for hours.  As it's a body butter it doesn't quite pass my "does it sink in quickly" test but I use this more as body treat rather than an every day moisturiser so I don't really care that it needs an hour or two to properly sink in.  It leaves my skin feeling super moisturised even my annoying dry patches.

I was also sent a Strawberry Gift Set which contained a travel sized shower gel (which I'm definitely taking with me on my upcoming weekend in Glasgow), a heart shaped soap, and 2 mini shower puffs (again, ideal for travelling).  I'm tempted to take the soap to work with me so I can have strawberry scented hands every time I go to the bathroom, haha!

If you're a fan of The Body Shop Strawberry range too then you're in luck as I've been given some extra goodies to give away.  All you need to do is follow me on Bloglovin (using Rafflecopter below) and you could win a Strawberry Body Butter and Gift Set of your own.  Good luck!

Filling Station - #FSMoments

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

As I mentioned in my June Highlights post, I recently attended 2 events at the Filling Station in Edinburgh.  The first was a cocktail masterclass at their Omni Centre restaurant.  This was a sort of warm up event in the lead up to the reopening of their Royal Mile restaurant at the end of the month (more on that in a bit).  

The cocktail class was a really fun night, we were introduced to mixologist Andy Pearson who gave us good chat about cocktails (obvs) and about what goes on behind the bar at the Filling Station.  It was interesting to hear that everything is completely freshly made (no pre-made mixers here lads) - I'll be honest and say that I previously associated the Filling Station with cheaply made, low booze, party type cocktails (you know what I mean….pitchers of really sickly sweet so-called cocktails that contained probably 2 shots of alcohol), but that's definitely not the case.

We got to sample a couple of different drinks from their extensive menu, and as it was a masterclass some of us even went behind the bar to try mixing some up ourselves.  I went up with a couple of other girls to make a cocktail that Andy made up on the spot based on our alcohol suggestions, it got named the "Edinburgh Handbag", and if I do say so myself, it was damn tasty (don't ask me what was in it….peach vodka, raspberries and something?).  All in all it was a really good night and I'd definitely go back for a few drinks next time I'm in the Omni (their frozen daiquiris are awesome).

A few weeks later a group of us went up to the Royal Mile Filling Station for their grand reopening.  Now, I always want to be completely open about my experiences at these type of events - regardless of whether or not it was a free night - and if I'm honest, I have mixed feelings about this one.  

The main reason for that is the food - now it wasnt that it was awful, it just wasn't anything special.  For starters we were given sharing BBQ style platters with bbq chicken wings, ribs, blue cheese chicken strips, boston prawns, and spicy calamari.  This was a bit of a fried food fest and everything felt a bit dry and overcooked unfortunately (especially the calamari which was really rubbery and dry).  In comparison though, the sharing platters we got at the Omni were really great so I think it was probably down to the fact that the place was really busy so food was being churned out as quickly as possible .  I can't really give them allowances for that though to be fair as if you go on a Friday or Saturday night it would be just as busy.

Things got better when it came to mains though - I had the Pulled Pork Burger with skinny fries and it was really nice, the burger wasn't greasy, the pulled pork was moist and had a lovely barbecue flavour, and the chips were good.  The only negative point I could make is that, emmm…..I didn't actually order it, haha.  I had asked for a pulled pork sandwich but I blame the mistake on the insanely loud band that we were unfortunately seated behind, as I think our (very lovely!) waitress just misheard me.

We ended up getting moved actually as the band were so loud that we couldn't talk to each other.  I get that it was a launch party, and obviously they were trying to show off the full potential of the place as a restaurant and a live music venue (and the band were really good!), but there is definitely a difference between party atmosphere and nightclub atmosphere...

Anyway, I realise that makes me sound like a party pooper so I'll move on, haha.  After our mains we got to order some desserts and as usual this was my downfall at events like this.  My eyes are always bigger than my stomach (and that's saying something)!  I went for the Mint Oreo Sundae and it was really nice but I only managed like 3 spoonfuls before I had to stop.  After the burger and the (pretty greasy) starters, ice cream was just a bit too much for me unfortunately!

Overall I'm not completely put off going back to the Royal Mile restaurant, I just wasn't that blown away by the food or the event itself.  I think some of it could just be down to teething problems though and the fact it was a really busy night.  I realise it sounds really ungrateful to moan about issues like loud music and the food (which I didn't pay for) not being anything special, but I don't want to just gloss over that stuff and focus on the good bits just so I don't hurt the feelings of the people who invited us.  I know I'm really lucky to get to go to things like this, but it's still important to be honest.  The bottom line is, if I wouldn't recommend a place to a friend then I'm not going to give it a good review just because I got a freebie, and I think that's only fair on my blog readers.

Like I said at the start though, I did really enjoy the Omni Centre event, and the food there was a lot better so I would definitely go back there and I'd recommend it to a friend.  I just perhaps wouldn't rush back to the Royal Mile.

Origins Plantscription Foundation Review

Sunday, 6 July 2014
Origins Plantscription Foundation

Origins Plantscription Foundation Extra Light

You know how sometimes you'll buy something, use it once and decide you don't like it, stick it in a drawer and forget all about it until one day you decide to give it a try and discover that actually, it's amazing?  Well that happened to me the other week with this foundation.

About a year ago I had a bit of a spending spree on the Origins website (I did a haul post about it at the time) and on a whim, picked up their Plantscription Foundation.  As I'm a pale mary I ordered the lightest shade they had (called Very Light) but once it arrived and I used it I discovered it was faaaaar too dark for me.  Boo hoo.

I was really annoyed at the time as I'd basically spent almost £30 on a foundation that I then couldn't use, but I just shoved it to the back of my makeup collection and moved on.  Fast forward a year though and one day I decided to give it another try in a bid to switch up my foundation routine.  I'd pretty much been rotating between the Chanel Vitalumiere and Estee Lauder Double Wear Light in the new 0.5 shade and was in the mood for a change.  After spotting the Origins bottle at the back of my drawer I thought I'd give it a go, mixing it with a light foundation to make the colour match a bit better.  

Origins Plantscription Foundation Extra Light Swatch

Origins Plantscription Foundation Extra Light Swatch

Origins Plantscription Foundation Extra Light mixed with Estee Lauder Double Wear Light in 0.5

On application I was genuinely taken aback at how good it looked!  It gives a really lovely dewy finish, and the coverage is that nice balance between too light and too heavy.  Since then I've been using it on a regular basis, always mixing with my Double Wear Light in 0.5 although if by some miracle I manage to get a bit of a tan this summer then I might not need to lighten it up.  The staying power is really good too, with it's normally pretty much still in place at the end of a working day, and if I wear it on a night out then with a bit of powder it stays put all night.  It's also classed as an "anti-aging" foundation so it suits my aging skin…..hahahaha, oh how I wish that was a joke.

I'm not 100% sure if I'd repurchase due to the colour match thing (if they would bring out aa Very Very Light then that would be great, haha), but if you're less milk bottle white than I am then it's worth a go, as apart from that the foundation is great!