Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Laura Mercier La Petite Patisserie Travel Candle Trio

I've made no secret of my love of a candle or two flickering away, gently scenting the room and creating a calmer atmosphere. I'm sure I feel twice as relaxed with a candle. As I like to let them burn for a while, whilst I watch a film or get lost in a book, I don't tend to buy little candles like these in the Laura Mercier La Petite Patisserie Travel Candle Trio, as they get used up too quickly. However, I couldn't resist these in the Space N.K. sale, particularly as my two favourite Laura Mercier scents were included.

A set of three 2.5oz glass votives, each containing a signature Laura Mercier scent, this is described as the perfect set for travelling. It even comes with a little portable candle holder in a brown snakeskin design, to protect a chosen candle on the go. Even as a self-confessed candle lover, I can find no use for this; I don't really take miniature candles with me on my holidays, yet alone give them their own little case, and I didn't find the design of the holder appealing enough to display in my own house. I don't even know what I have done with it, and it didn't even last long enough to be photographed - I imagine I've binned it! Besides, I rather like the look of the frosted glass and pastel-coloured wax.

Each candle has a 20-30 hour burn time, which isn't bad really, and provides an opportunity to find out which Laura Mercier scents are for you. The candle burning in the pictures is Fresh Fig, a very fresh, but luxurious scent, perfect for this time of year. I knew I would love Almond Coconut Milk, as I love the hand cream; it's deliciously sweet, and although the coconut scent is not strong, it's just enough and compliments the vanilla-ish notes beautifully. My absolute favourite Laura Mercier scent however, is Creme de Pistache. It's the strongest scent (although they are all strong enough to be smelt without even having lit the candle - my bedside drawer smells divine from storing them!), and probably the one which divides opinion the most. My boyfriend loathes it! It doesn't really smell of pistachio, as it is far sweeter than it is nutty, so think pistachio cake or pistachio ice cream!

Overall, I'm glad I bought these, as they were a total bargain and I enjoyed trying out a few scents. However, my next Laura Mercier candle purchase is going to have to be full-sized, as I can't bear falling in love with a scent only for our time together to be over so soon! The only problem is, they only seem to release candles for limited times - I'll just have to keep my eyes peeled!

What's your favourite Laura Mercier scent? And is it just me who finds this concept odd - do you take travel candles away with you?

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Spring/Summer Watch Wishlist

I've had the same watch for a couple of years now, and however much I like it, it really has seen better days. I have been hankering after a new watch for ages, but have been trying to be good, so haven't splashed out. These are the pretties I'm dreaming about.
1. Kate Spade's collection includes about 98383 things that I want. I love the details here, like the little neon second hand.
2. I know this cute-fest from Marc by Marc Jacobs is old news, but it haunts my dreams. 
3. Such a beautiful colour from Vivienne Westwood.
4. At the more affordable end of the spectrum, I love the chevron print and bright shade of this Asos watch.  
5. Olivia Burton's website has me drooling for hours. I love the classic look of this one. 
6. Another one that I have wanted for an age, Marc by Marc Jacobs make such gorgeous watches.

I love all of these, and in my fantasy life I would buy them all and have the most fabulous and pastel-adorned wrist all Summer long. What do you think of these? Which is your favourite?

Friday, 25 April 2014

The Emma Bridgewater Factory in Stoke

About an hour's drive from where we live, in the heart of Stoke-on-Trent's famous Potteries, is a place I have loved visiting ever since I was a little girl. From painting my newborn baby sister's feet to stamp onto a plate, to taking friends there on my eleventh birthday, Emma Bridgewater's Factory always has been one of my ideal afternoons out. As a child, I just loved the painting, and would sigh when my mum spent hours perusing the seconds shop, but now an avid collector of the pottery myself, I could stay there all day long and be in my absolute element.

Making the most of having both my boyfriend and best friend off work at the same time as me, we popped up to Bridgewater, as I have always called it, for an afternoon of fun. I was hoping to take them on the Factory Tour, which runs most days, and is an interesting look at how the highly sought-after handmade pieces are created. However, with it being the school holidays they were fully booked, and I hadn't even thought to book a place. It was a little chilly for the walled garden, which they open in Summer, so however much I wanted to see the chickens and flowers, we decided on a spot of lunch and decorating. 

The cafe there is absolutely wonderful, and if you live nearby, I'd recommend popping in for that alone. It is lovely and cosy, with a stunning aga decorated in their signature spot pattern, and plenty of comfy chairs. The menu is small, but there is a wide selection of freshly baked cakes on offer, as well as the daily specials.The food is often made from the vegetables and eggs provided by the on-site garden, so is delicious and fresh. I once had the best quiche of my life there! This time we all fancied the chicken, bacon and mozzarella sandwich with barbecue sauce, which was delicious and not as heavy as it sounds. The cafe always makes me want to buy even more of their pottery, as it all looks so lovely together. They mix and match their own patterns freely, which might look odd if you only had a few bits, but when there are quite a few items it looks quite sweet mismatched. Apologies, by the way, for the lack/quality of pictures - I had forgotten both my camera and my SatNav, so the iPhone was having to be both, and the battery wasn't lasting long!

Next to the cafe is the seconds shop, where many items are sold at a greatly reduced price because they have a fault. The faults are absolutely tiny most of the time, and can actually be hard to find, so they circle them in a pencil that rubs off easily. I like to buy a lot of my pieces from here, as I don't mind the odd wobbly letter or speck of paint in the wrong place. It's nice to come and choose seconds for yourself though, for although they are sold online, I like to pick the most perfect pieces I can find. 

After lunch we popped across to the Decorating Studio. It used to be in the cafe, but it has its own little section now, which allows for a lot more space. They now have a central island where all the paint bottles are stationed, with shelves at the sides of the room with a wide variety of stamps in jars, sorted by category. They really do have a stamp for everything, from tractors to bees, dinosaurs to Daleks! I hadn't painted in ages and was really excited to get started, but we watched a little demo by a member of staff as the people I was with hadn't painted there before. She explained the basics, such as how to get the best out of the stamps, and reminded us to use the colour chart plate on the table, which showed how the different colours look once they have been fired. Some of them change quite a bit in the process, so it is important to use the chart.

It took a while of browsing the shelves before we decided which pieces we wanted to paint. The items aren't cheap, but the prices start at £5, so there is something for every budget. I decided to make a new bowl for our cat, as I had meaning to buy her one from there anyway, but thought a personalised one would be cuter. I wasn't brave enough to go freehand, as I'm out of practise, so stuck to carefully stamping letters, stars and hearts in pastel shades. The boyfriend was considerably braver, and drew the cutest Coraline onto an egg cup for me - I can't wait to see how it comes out! 

We paid £5 for delivery of our items, although there is the option to collect them yourselves, and although it is usually much faster, we were told to expect to wait a couple of weeks for them to arrive as this is a busy time of year for the factory. It's always a treat to get a big Emma Bridgewater box in the post, but with the added excitement of seeing how our creations look glazed, I really can't wait!

Have you ever been to the Emma Bridgewater Factory? Or do you own any of their pottery? I love my collection, and expect to keep adding to it forever!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Nuxe Contour Des Yeux Prodigieux Anti-Fatigue Moisturizing Eye Cream

Nuxe Contour des Yeux Prodigieux review

Another skincare product today, and yet again it has an incredibly long name! As I have started to notice a few fine (very fine!) little lines under my eyes, which are definitely there despite my boyfriend's insistences that he can see nothing, I decided a little while ago that it was high time I got myself an eye cream. In fact, I am amazed it has taken me so long, as I've always tried to prevent, rather than cure, the signs of ageing. 

I decided to go with a brand I've been getting into quite a bit lately, and ordered Nuxe's Contour Des Yeux Prodigieux Anti-Fatigue Moisturizing Eye Cream. Nuxe claim that the cream works to energise and de-puff the eye area, whilst turning back the clock on ageing, and those claims were enough to sway me. I didn't even read any reviews, which is rather unlike me, and just bought it on a whim. I'm glad I did, as however much I love reviews, sometimes I think it is nice to try something with no preconceptions about it at all. 

I really like the little pump bottle, as it allows me to dispense the tiny little amount that I need to apply around my eye. I think I would actually end up using more if I was having to stick my finger into a pot. The contents of the bottle is even better. It feels light and absorbs instantly, and really moisturises my eye area. I know it's working because I have noticed a big difference in how well my make up sits under my eyes - no more cakey concealer! I also think it has really reduced my dark circles, which I have been having for the first time in my life for the past year now. It's actually the only thing that has worked so far to improve them, so I'm delighted! I think that since using this, I look more awake and my eye area is generally a bit more perky. The cream also lives up to its claims of being suitable for sensitive eyes, and I am not left with tears streaming down my face for half an hour after using it. Nice one, Nuxe!

I'm really getting into a bit of Nuxe these days, have you any recommendations from their line? Or are there some amazing eye creams out there that I should be trying?

Available at £18.50 from Escentual.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Manicure Monday: Nails Inc Sprinkles - Pudding Lane

Nails Inc Pudding Lane
Nails Inc Pudding Lane review

I'm sure you'll have seen the speckled egg nail polishes that have been doing the blog rounds this Spring, which despite really wanting to, I couldn't love. They did however, remind me of a speckly favourite of my own, a polish that I've had in my stash for some time. Based not on mini eggs, but sprinkles, Nails Inc Pudding Lane is from their Sprinkles line which launched a couple of years ago. I love that they managed to stick to London street names when finding sweet-themed names for this collection! I kind of thought a polish called Pudding Lane would have red and gold shades though, as it was the location of the Great Fire of London. 

I don't have anything quite like Pudding Lane in my stash, with it's milky blue base and glitter mix of navy and gold. I love that a polish can be this loaded with glitter, without being a discoball; the glitter is slightly matte, making the polish totally wearable for everyday. 

The formula is really nice too, and applies beautifully. I've had this for at least a couple of years now, and although it is starting to thicken, it is by no means getting gloopy. I used two coats with no top coat for my pictures here (as I always do for nail photos, in the interests of fairness), but if you want a smooth finish you will need to use a topcoat to gloss things over, as you can feel the texture of the glitter without one. You can probably see that just from looking at the swatches! 
Nails Inc Pudding Lane swatch
Nails Inc Pudding Lane swatch

Although the Sprinkles line is now discontinued, the Nails Inc website are still selling a few of the polishes at a discounted price, so you do have a final chance to grab this one. I may even treat myself to one more from the range...

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Yankee Candle Bunny Cake

Yankee Candle Bunny Candle review
Yankee Candle Bunny Candle review easter

I can't even find the words to explain how much I wanted this candle. Regular readers of this blog will know that I have gone a little bunny-mad of late, as Spring-fever has taken over my mind and caused me to buy all kinds of bunny-themed accessories, but there was none I wanted more than the Bunny Cake candle. As a Yankee-lover anyway, I was taken in by its pink wax and promises to scent my house with vanilla and coconut. If there's one thing I love as much as bunnies, it's coconut. And cake. So yes, I needed this.  It was even on my Spring Wishlist a month ago. But there could be no better day to share it with you than Easter Sunday. 

As promised, this candle really does smell just like cake, but not in the overly-sweet manner of their Vanilla Cupcake candle, which is not quite to my taste. The vanilla is creamy and gentle instead, blending and balancing perfectly with the freshness of the coconut. I have no idea what coconut cake has to do with bunnies, or Easter, but it's my favourite kind of cake so I am not complaining. According to Yankee there's also some citrus in there, but it is very subtle. I'd never have noticed it on my own, and the candle certainly doesn't smell lemony or anything, but it might just be contributing to the overall freshness of the scent. It's the perfect Spring switch for Fireside Treats, which seemed appropriate somehow for Winter and Summer, but not quite right for this time of year, when no one really toasts marshmallows.

As with most Yankee Candles, this one burns beautifully and evenly, and lasts for ages. The big jars burn 110-150 hours, which is great value for money. You can burn this for hours and barely make a dent in it, which I love, as it means I'm never scared to use my Yankee Candles for fear of them being gone too soon. It also has a brilliant throw, scenting the whole room without being overpowering.  Although with that beautiful pink wax Bunny Cake would probably look best in my bedroom, I've taken to moving the jar around the house so that more rooms can benefit from it's delicious scent. Can you tell I'm obsessed?

Yankee Candle Bunny Candle review easter

More beautiful and delicious than any Easter egg, and it lasts far longer - I really am a happy bunny! Sorry, I couldn't help myself there. Sorry about the pictures too; there's nothing odder than a grown woman arranging a nightlight and some miniature bunnies around a candle and then photographing the scene, but I got a little carried away in my excitement. 

Are you a Yankee Candle fan? Which scents are your favourites? 

Friday, 18 April 2014

Review: Lulu's Time Bomb Trouble Shooter Neck Jaw and Chest Cream

lulu's time bomb neck jaw chest cream

Okay, so I may only be 23, but I am firmly in the prevention-before-cure camp when it comes to skincare, and am already taking into account anti-ageing qualities in some of the products I buy. My neck is one area I have always taken scrupulous care of, ever since I read in my mid-teens that the neck has very few oil glands, and so many women have lovely skin on their face but a crepe-y neck once they get old. Keen to steer clear of crepe, I always double moisturised my neck, doing it whenever I did my face or my body. However, for the last couple of months I have been using Lulu's Time Bomb's Trouble Shooter, a cream formulated especially for the neck, jaw and chest area. 
Lulu's Time Bomb Trouble Shooter review

If you are unfamiliar with the brand, Lulu's Time Bomb is a range of anti-ageing products created by Lulu. As in, "you make me wanna shout!" - that Lulu. I am not usually one to buy products from celebrity ranges, but these have been pretty well-received. Plus, my nana let me have this, as she had ordered it but wasn't using it (too loyal to her current brands!). My nana has far more beauty products than me, and indeed most small branches of Boots. Anyway, the range is available on QVC, and I would highly recommend shopping with them as their discounts and returns policy are excellent.

The first thing really worth mentioning is the packaging. I like the box, with its large lettering and bold promises, and I was really pleasantly surprised by the silver sphere within. Shaping it like a little bomb is a nice touch, and I liked the little numbers all the way around. 

The cream itself is really lovely. It feels a little thicker than the creams I usually use on my face, but not as thick as a body butter. It's a just-right consistency, that soaks quickly into my skin and leaves no stickiness whatsoever. My skin seriously absorbs this stuff like it's thirsty, and it really shouldn't be considering how much I have always moisturised it! The smell is really refreshing too, I think it is eucalyptus, but it isn't overly strong - I'm not left feeling like I've put Vicks vapo-rub on my neck! I also find it really hydrating and smoothing, which is probably down to the hyaluronic acid it contains; layered over Hydraluron, it has great moisturising power, and if I put in on before bed my neck does feel lovely and soft in the morning. 

I don't pretend to be any kind of expert in skincare, and I don't know if the ingredients list would make Caroline Hirons dance for joy or weep. Furthermore, I'm not really old enough yet to say if it really does reverse the ageing process. I can say, however, that it's a product I will be continuing to use, as I do feel that it has improved the skin on my neck, which feels smoother and sort of plumper. It is also, I personally think, a decent and affordable price for what it is (and means I don't have to use my more expensive face cream on my neck and d├ęcolletage!).

lulu's time bomb neck jaw chest cream review

Do you use any particular cream for your neck or d├ęcolletage? Or do you just do those areas when you do your face or body?

Lulu's Time Bomb Trouble Shooter Neck, Jaw and Chest Cream (£33) available from QVC.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Heart of the Home: Kitchen Wishlist

One of my favourite rooms in the house is the kitchen - or at least it was, until we moved. Our new kitchen is much bigger, but feels less cosy than the one in the cottage did. At least now it can comfortably house all of my baking paraphernalia and cooking gadgets. Luckily, I love buying kitchen accessories, and there's so many pretty options out there for cosying up the heart of the home.
kitchen wishlist lifestyle blog

1. I collect Emma Bridgewater pottery, and don't tend to buy from anywhere else, but I don't have any of their vases yet. This Rose and Bee patterned vase would look beautiful on my kitchen windowsill.
2.  I am sorely tempted by this Zara Home flower-shaped bowl, which puts me in mind of Tangled. I can just imagine Rapunzel eating her cereal out of it!
3. I've wanted a KitchenAid for so long, but can never decide if I'd go for Ice Blue or Pink.
4. For rolling out the prettiest biscuits and pastry (Cath Kidston).
5. As a great appreciator of a good pun, I think I need this (Etsy)
6. More Bridgewater, this time for filling with sweeties or little pastel-coloured meringues.
7. Another kitchen item I've wanted for a long time. I just love Alessi's quirky designs (John Lewis).
8. I love this bird salt pig from Oliver Bonas, I think it would cheer me up every time I saw it.
9. I've wanted a pink Roberts radio forever, because the kitchen is the best place for singing and dancing (John Lewis).  

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Lovely Little Wedding: The Weddings That Never Were

When I got engaged on a cold December night outside Brighton Pavillion three years ago, I knew exactly what kind of wedding I wanted. We'd get married back home, even though I imagined we'd still (and forever) live in Brighton.  It would take place just before Christmas, my favourite time of year, with white pumpkin centrepieces on the tables.There would be a cake from Choccywoccydoodah, to bring a Brighton touch to the proceedings, and creme brulee for pudding. I would get ready at my mum and dad's, and wake up in my old bedroom to have eggs florentine in the dining room, while we waited for our hairdressers, who we've used for eight years now, to arrive. Everything would be white, with plenty of sparkle. I even dared to dream that it might snow.
wedding mood inspiration board winter wedding white pumpkins
Unfortunately, the only image I could source was the flowers, as Pinterest/Tumblr can be naughty like that.
After I decided to train as a teacher, and we left Brighton to move nearer to our families, I started to worry that a Christmassy wedding would be tricky for someone who cannot pick and choose days off work. The Summer gives me six weeks off, so that would be a far more convenient time to marry. I must admit it was with a heavy heart that I waved goodbye to my Wintry wedding dreams. 

My next plan was to go for an old-fashioned countryside fairytale. I'd settled into my country-bumpkin life, and loved the idea of doing it all ourselves, in the village we live in (or at least very near to it). We even toyed with the idea of marrying in the little old village church, but not being religious, it didn't feel right. I wanted, in the absence of a stunning and enormous barn, a beautiful marquee in one of our neighbours' fields. I still liked the idea of a Choccywoccydoodah cake. I wanted pretty pastel colours, an ice cream van and a hog roast. I imagined arranging colourful flowers in mason jars, and my hair. Basically, I had recently discovered Pinterest. Most of all, I had actual dreams about bunting. 
wedding mood inspiration board summer english wedding
Sources I could find: flowers, watering can and more flowers.
As well as dreams about bunting, I had nightmares about rain, and a brief spell working in a wedding venue made me realise just how difficult, not to mention expensive, it would be to make some of these dreams realities. The idea of working that hard, and spending all that money, just to get rained on, was too much to bear, so I began to think of alternatives.

As you may know if you read this blog often, or follow me on Twitter, we eventually decided to let me live out my mermaidy dreams, and get married abroad. I get the sea, which I miss so much, the sun is almost certain to shine down on us, and we get to have a really special holiday/party with everyone we love. I never imagined that my idea of the perfect wedding would change so much, but I am totally happy and excited about the wedding we are planning. With the venue booked and the date set for next year, I hope and know the time will fly, and I can't wait!

I'm thinking of doing the odd wedding post as our plans develop, so le me know if you if you'd like to read that sort of thing! Do you have a clear picture in your mind of your dream wedding?

Friday, 11 April 2014

Easy Easter Candy Bark

I wanted to make a pretty Easter-y treat that would go down well with children, but needed it to be something that would take the bare minimum time and effort. I was planning on going down the traditional chocolate nest/mini-egg/fluffy chick route, but in the supermarket was struck by inspiration and decided to do some pretty candy bark instead. 

Candy bark is the easiest thing in the world to make, you just need to accept that you're going to be needing quite a lot of chocolate! I used white, mainly because I felt it would look prettiest with the Mini Eggs and sprinkles. Once melted, I poured it onto a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper, and let the fun begin. A few smashed up Mini-Eggs, a Haribo here and there and, crucially, a scatter of sprinkles and a sprinkle of glitter. It's not going to win any awards for sophistication, but hey, I enjoyed myself. An hour in the fridge later, and I just snapped it up into pieces randomly. You could cut it with a sharp knife, but I was just too lazy. 

white chocolate candybark recipe

If you fancy making a more grown-up version of this, there's so many variations you could try. It's basically one of those big slabs that Hotel Chocolat do. You could try bits of meringue and dried strawberries,or a sprinkling of cinnamon, some nuts, stem ginger, a pinch of chilli...You could add peppermint essence to dark chocolate, or hazelnut essence to milk chocolate. I fancy adding salty things, like mini-pretzels or salted nuts. The possibilities are endless. That said, I do rather like the Mini Eggs - it is Easter after all. 

easter treats chocolate

I had picked up these little Easter egg cellophane bags from Poundland weeks ago (in one of my little random nonsense hauls, as I call them) and was glad to find a use for them. They came with the ribbon and everything, in a pack of twenty. I was pretty pleased with them actually, and think the little goodie bags look really sweet. Considering it took less than fifteen minutes of my time, and the whole thing including setting took just over an hour, I think it turned out quite nicely. 

Have you ever made candy bark? What are your favourite treats to put in it? 

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

My first venture into Soap & Glory Make Up

soap and glory review kick-ass concealer glow all out the nudist
As much I liked Soap and Glory's body, bath and shower products, until very recently I had yet to put any of their stuff on my face. Their branding is a bit hit and miss for me, and much as I like the pink girly packaging of their body products, I look for something a bit different in make up. I don't love Benefit's branding either, I think I tend to like very sleek or very pretty high-end products the most. As you'll know if you saw my haul the other week, that all changed when a woman at a Bobbi Brown counter tried to convince me that I could not hope to conceal a dark circle without spending a minimum of £45, and annoyed me so much that I decided to try the Kick Ass Concealer instead. It was 3 for 2, so you can guess what happened next.

The Kick Ass Concealer itself, I am pretty impressed with. In all honesty, it is not The One and I still plan on getting that Bobbi Brown one, because I can't bear not  knowing (do other people get like this?). However, it was only about £8, and you get three steps of concealment in one nifty little compact, complete with mirror. Step 1, the main reason I got this, is a decent under-eye concealer with pinky tones, that does a great job of covering my dark circles. It does crease a lot if I use it under foundation, but if I use an eye cream and my foundation first it is fine. A smidge of Benefit's Stay Don't Stray and it...stays and doesn't stray, basically. It also has a brightening effect, which apparently is down to LightScrambling technology. Me neither. Step 2 is a concealer for blemishes, with a more yellowy tone. I am less excited by this, but then I have never been that excited by any blemish concealer in my life, so don't take it personally, S&G. Finally, Step 3 is on the top layer, and is a little pressed power with a tiny, adorable (yes, I find make-up adorable) powder puff for setting. This kit has everything you need for on-the-go concealment, and I am glad to have it in my arsenal. 

I bought the Sexy Mother Pucker Gloss Stick in Nudist, basically because Fleur de Force talks about it so much! I am beyond thrilled with it; not only is the formula non-sticky and hydrating, but the my-lips-but-loads-better colour is gorgeous. I can be picky about overly-sweet smelling lip products, but I love the chocolatey-vanilla scent of this. Big thumbs up. It has become my new favourite workday handbag essential.

Finally, I had trouble choosing my third, free item. I pondered over the brow products, but they didn't look too exciting, and I didn't want any more lipsticks/glosses. In the end, I went for Glow All Out, an illuminating powder in a flattering peachy shade. They didn't have the tester in the shop, so I took a risk and just bought it (I know, I'm wild). I may not be in love with the cardboard packaging, but I am loving its contents. This definitely isn't a highlighter, but unlike Soap and Glory, I would not recommend using it as an all-over face power - it may not be particularly shimmery, but you really would be glowing all out. A little dusting on the cheekbones and brow bone however, is really lovely and gives a sort of soft-focus glow, like Instagram. 

I am certainly open to trying more from Soap and Glory's make-up line, and feel silly for ignoring it for so long! I am really getting into a bit of drugstore make up lately, having always been more of a high-end girl. Are there any other products I need to try, Soap and Glory or otherwise? 

Monday, 7 April 2014

Manicure Monday: Fresh and Minty

mint nails spring pastels

I say minty, because I wouldn't necessarily categorise all three of these as 'mint'. Essie's Mint Candy Apple is of course the classic spring mint go-to, and I have mentioned it before on this blog. However, there are a couple of other shades in the same minty-turquoise vein that I love almost (maybe even just) as much. I've swatched them on either side of Mint Candy Apple, so you can see how they compare. 

When I fancy something brighter: Nails Inc Royal Botanical Gardens
A little bolder and brighter than Mint Candy Apple, this polish leans more blue/turquoise, although Nails Inc describe it as 'pastel mint'. This shade is almost like a neon pastel, and is therefore perfection with a tan. Formula-wise it's one of Nails Inc's better ones, as it doesn't chip too quickly, and although one coat looks streaky, the second coat sorts that right out.

When I fancy something darker: Essie Where's My Chauffeur
Why Essie can't make the formula of Mint Candy Apple as painless as this one, I do not know. Lovely to apply, with a far better wear-time, this polish has had a lot of use. I'm nearly halfway through the bottle, and that never happens. I think this shade is the perfect teal, just between green and blue, and with a glossy-creme finish that I just love. I also think this is the most flattering shade of the three.

nails inc royal botanical gardens essie mint candy apple where's my chauffeur swatches

Do you love mint and turquoise polishes? What's your favourite shade?

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Life lately.

I've been listing ideas for the blog, planning posts, and generally trying to overcome the slight bloggers' block I've been having. I am almost certain that using beautiful stationary helps, and I love my Lola Rose notebook.

You'd need a heart of ice (see what I did there?) to not love Frozen, and I have been impatiently awaiting the DVD release since I saw it at the cinema. I've watched it alone, I've watched it with my sister and I'm even taking it to work this week to watch it there. It's just so adorable and funny, I think it's one of Disney's best.

Wuthering Heights is one of those books I have always been meaning to read, as I do tend to enjoy books written in that time period, and it's a classic. I don't know why I never got round to it, but my boyfriend bought me the coolest copy - just look at the rough-edged effect on the pages - so I have finally got stuck in. I'm just over halfway through, and am thoroughly enjoying getting lost in the stormy, isolated Yorkshire moors. I also can't get the Kate Bush song out of my head - "let me in at your window-ohh-oh!" 

I am trying to eat a bit more healthily, as I don't always have the best diet. I am not a fan of salad, and as I have a pretty busy lifestyle, I'm guilty of grabbing food that's convenient rather than nutritional. Plus, when I do have time to cook, I just love unhealthy things like pasta and cheese! This week I've been eating lots of chicken and fish, with vegetables, brown rice and grains. My favourite dinner has been smoked haddock and cannellini beans, which I adapted from a Nigella Express recipe. It has been killing me not to bake though, and I am not sure a life without cake is one I am willing to lead...

Friday, 4 April 2014

L'Oreal GlamShine Stain Splash

Having fancied the YSL Glossy Stains for a little while, I thought that in the interests of saving money, I'd try out their drugstore dupe, L'Oreal's GlamShine Stain Splash. I've been buying a lot more drugstore make-up since getting into blogging, and I have discovered some real gems. This is definitely one of them.

The first thing I like about this is the packaging, although it did confuse me the first few times I used it, as the bottom part unscrews and contains the applicator, not the long gold top. The doe foot itself is angled and has a pointed tip, which I find useful for precise application. It also has a hole in the middle, which collects a small drop of the product and deposits it onto the lips. 

The product itself is a sort of stain-gloss hybrid, which can be left very sheer, or built up to opacity in a few swipes. It goes on wet and shiny, but when dries to a stain, with a slight glossiness to it. It is a little sticky, but not in a gloopy way like many lip glosses can be. More slightly tacky, which is what gives it such lasting power. Once on, it stays put really well, even after eating, and that swatch on my hand really didn't want to come off just by washing - I had to use Bioderma! The Stain Splash also commits that other lip gloss sin of having a strong scent, but once more, I'm letting it off because in this instance I really like the smell. It's kind of like fake cherries, and puts me in mind of pick and mix!

My only gripe with this product is the shade range. I had a hard time finding one I really liked, and bought it mainly because I wanted to try the formula, not because I had fallen in love with the colour. I got Princess, a pinkish cherry-red, that is far redder when swatched than it looks in the bottle. I do actually really like it now, as it is nicer on the lips than it looked in the shop, but it's not like I'm left desperate to try out all the other shades in the range. Rather, I'm left in love with the formula, and dying to get my hands on the amazing shades that YSL has to offer...sorry bank balance. 

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

March Favourites

I found it tricky to narrow down the products I have been loving this month to a few favourites, but I finally managed to decide on a little round up of products that have impressed me lately. 

It's hardly new or newsworthy, but just recently I have been absolutely loving the original Urban Decay Naked Palette; it's such a great range of wearable shades, and they've been gracing my lids a lot throughout March especially Buck, Toasted, Darkhorse and Sin, which have been my go-to shades. Excitingly (to me), I've finally taken the plunge and ordered Naked 3, which should be here any day now!

On the subject of eyes, I have always been a gel-liner girl, happy to fiddle and faff with a little pot and a brush in the morning. Since receiving my Eyeko London Skinny Mini Liquid Liner in February's Birchbox, I've been slowly reintroducing a felt-tip nib into my life, and have been really quite enjoying it. I do still prefer the look of gel, but this eyeliner is basically fool-proof, and has been a saviour to have on-hand for rushed mornings. Plus it lasts all day long. Much like Anastasia Beverley Hills' Dip Brow Pomade, the cult brow brush-on that has transformed my brows and made raindrop-induced smudges a thing of the past. This is not so great for rushed mornings, and takes a little longer than my old Benefit Brow-zings, but my goodness it has lasting power. I'm pretty sure this will make it into the Wedding Make Up Bag of Products That Don't Melt in August in Ibiza. 

Moving onto lips, and two products have been total game-changers in my life this month. The first is the famous Nuxe Reve de Miel, which you may have spotted in my French skincare haul earlier this month. I've already ordered another of these while they are still on offer, because I never want to be without it again. In an even more recent haul, I picked up Lush's Popcorn Lip Scrub. I'd been given the Bubblegum one as a gift, and loved everything about it except the smell, so decided on a whim to give this a whirl. Great decision - I am totally in love with the sweet and salty flavour combo, and kind of just want to eat the whole tub of this!

Last but not least, is the Percy & Reed It's So Cool Heat Protect Styling Mist. I have always disliked heat protector sprays, despite knowing how important they are, because of their tendency to dampen my hair, and leave it feeling sticky. Not this one. It smells really lovely, and really is a mist rather than a spray, meaning just the right amount is deposited to cover the hair without leaving any stickiness. It even makes my hair look glossier - win.

Have you tried any of these products? Do link me to your favourites posts in the comments - I really enjoy reading them!

Urban Decay Naked (£37), Eyeko Skinny Mini (£12), Anastasia Dip Brow Pomade (£15), Nuxe Reve de Miel (£9.50), Lush Popcorn Scrub (£5.50), Percy and Reed Heat Protect Styling Mist (£18). 
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