Wednesday, 20 July 2016

My Happy Place

By far the best way to spend the weekend is a leisurely bike ride by the sea side. I have always loved to cycle and since getting my beautiful Bobbin Brownie bicycle last year, I look for every excuse to take it out for the day. As someone who doesn't drive (trust me, the world is better off without me behind the wheel of a car), my bike gives me a sense of freedom that I am not usually accustomed to.

I love that my husband and I can jump on our bikes and go exploring for the day. We can pack up a yummy picnic which I can put in my basket or my pretty new bicycle panniers and set off for the whole day. If we get bored of the local area, we can easily take our bikes on the train and go slightly further afield.

Our favourite bicycle route is the bike path that runs parallel to the seafront. Once you get passed the crowded touristy areas, the seafront is calm and picturesque, with only the occasional fellow cyclist and a handful of local dog walkers, even on a beautiful sunny Saturday!

No matter how stressful the weeks seem to be, as soon as I get on my bike the worries fall away and I get that fun child-like sense of adventure and freedom that only a bike can provide.

 This is my happy place.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

A New Hobby - Pottery Painting!

My husband and I first tried pottery painting whilst on holiday at Center Parcs and we loved it instantly! We each painted a mug and we still use them more than three years later. They are a special reminder of our happy holiday.

Recently, with an empty weekend ahead of us, we did a bit of Googling to see if there was a pottery painting place nearby and came across a cute little cafe just a couple of towns away. I gave a friend a call and we set up a double date to paint some pottery.

Mark is an artist and takes part in local exhibitions, and I used to paint a lot when I was younger so we both love finding new hobbies and creative outlets. We do however, have very different styles. I like to paint detailed patterns, whereas Mark creates amazing landscapes and sometimes even fantastical scenes.

The cafe is a lovely place where you can relax and paint for hours. There is no studio fee, you just pay for the item you paint, whether that's a mug, bowl, vase, tea pot or figurine (ranging from about £5 to £30) and they provide all the paints and tools you need. You can also buy coffee, tea, milkshakes and cake, which is a great bonus.

The items and the paint have a very chalky texture which dries very quickly. You need to paint at least three layers to prevent it looking patchy. Once finished the cafe will glaze and fire your item in the kiln. This gives the item a beautiful smooth and glossy finish and also transforms the colours so that they are much brighter and bolder. They do provide you will a guide as to what each colour will look like when it is finished so that you can plan your design accordingly.

My friend and I are both creating a set of four bowls each. I have decided to use the same colours but with a different design for each bowl. She has decided to do the same design but change the colours for each of hers. Mark is painting lots of different objects and creating wonderful new scenes for each one (the latest is a bowl with a giant octopus/Kraken hanging it's tentacles over the edges of a ship - I don't know where he gets these ideas from!)

The finished items are so lovely and bright and glossy! I am currently completely addicted to pottery painting and have been more times than I should admit over the last month. They even have a ladies night every couple of weeks, where you can bring your own wine and nibbles. This week my friend and I will also be dragging my mum along - I can't wait to see what she creates!

These types of places are very family friendly so if you're looking for a new weekend or rainy day activity for the kids, or if like us, you don't have kids but you just like painting, I would highly recommend seeing if there is a similar cafe in your local area.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

The Body Shop Radiant Argan Oil

This oil has to be one of my top 3 products from The Body Shop, and being a The Body Shop employee, that is certainly saying something! (If you're curious number 1 would be the Vitamin E Serum-In-Oil and number 2 would be the Camomile Cleansing Balm, I think I'll have to do an updated skincare post soon). Just to clarify, The Body Shop never ask me to write about their products, I do so only when I feel particularly passionate about one.

The Body Shop Radiant Argan Oil is made from Community Fairtrade Argan Oil from Morocco. It is a beautiful and lightweight dry oil that can be used on the hair and body. Due to the fact that it is a dry oil it does not leave the skin feeling overly greasy and it absorbs quickly leaving a healthy radiance and super-soft skin.

I do love The Body Shop Body Butters but they can take a little longer to dry, and when the mornings are cold who wants to have to stand around naked waiting for moisturiser to absorb? That's why I love this oil. You can easily spray it over the body (no having to scoop thick creams out of tubs with your hands), rub it in to the skin and get dressed.

This oil however, is equally perfect for use during the warmer months because of the radiant look it leaves on the skin. Perfect for spraying on the legs and arms when wearing a summer dress to make the skin look healthy and youthful.

The Body Shop released a whole Argan range last summer with oils, shower gels, body butters and scrubs, all with a lovely relaxing spa-like scent, but this liquid oil is my favourite!

Have you tried any of The Body Shop Argan range?

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Illamasqua Semblance Multi Facet Palette

Illamasqua is one of those brands that I have always wanted to try but have never really had the opportunity to do so. I have always thought of them as a premium and professional brand catered more to makeup artists than to your average beauty hoarder, and because there are no Illamasqua beauty counters near me I haven't had the chance to try/swatch any of their products.

A recent(ish) birthday and a very lovely sister have now changed that and I am now the very happy owner of the Illamasqua Semblance Multi Facet Palette! I love palettes like this as they have a variety of products in them (not just eyeshadows) which makes them ideal for travel.

The Semblance Multi Facet Palette has one blusher, one highlighter, one cream contour, four eyeshadows and one brow powder. I could take this on holiday and only need to take a foundation, concealer and mascara for a full face of makeup.

My sister was concerned that she had bought the wrong one for my skin tone (as I am very pale and cool toned) but it is more versatile than it looks.

The cream highlighter on the top left (Mirage) is a warm toned gold based peach and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to make this one work for me, but actually it is a very sheer highlighter which blends nicely in to my skin tone to leave a lovely subtle sheen which catches the light beautifully for a soft glow. I also like that I can just apply this with my fingers to the top of my cheekbones, very easy!

The pink blusher on the bottom left (Hussy) is very pink! Hot pink really, with warm undertones and it is very pigmented. I do need to apply this one with a light hand to avoid over doing it so I just use a stippling brush which helps to control the pigmentation. I love how it warms the face and it would be perfect for the summer.

The one product I wasn't really sure how to use is the cream contour (top middle) in shade Hollow. It is quite a tough formula and needs some warming to help it blend and as the pan is so small it is difficult to get a brush in there. I do also need to be quite careful with what contour shades I use because I am so pale. Actually, I like using this as a cream eyeshadow base. It is a subtle skin-tone colour so ideal for this job and the almost-matte finish makes it perfect for layering eyshadows over the top. 

The eyeshadow shade under the contour (Slink) is my favourite in the palette. It is a gorgeous champagne colour that really brightens the eye. I like to sweep this all over the lid and use a little of the brown in the top right (Thunder - the brow powder) blended in to the crease to add some definition. The black eyeshadow (Obsidian) is great to use as an eyeliner along the top lash line and I use a small angled brush to wing it out. I really like using a powder as an eyeliner for a softer look in comparison to a liquid or gel liner.

It is difficult for me to pull off the pink eyeshadow (Dizzy) on the eyelid but I actually like using it as a lovely cool toned light pink blusher (which makes this palette even more versatile as I have two blush options!) I love the colour of the bronzey-copper eyeshadow (Tango) on the bottom middle, it is beautiful and very pigmented. Warm toned coppery eyeshadows like this can be quite hard to wear due to the pink/red undertones of my complexion but with a cool toned eyeshadow blended in to the crease and a lovely thick black liner I can balance it out and make the most of the colour.

I absolutely love this palette, it is perfect for travel and I may take it with me to Amsterdam at the end of the month. It has certainly made me want to try more makeup from Illamasqua.

What Illamasqua products would you recommend?

Thursday, 1 January 2015

The White Company - Seychelles Home Scenting Set

Christmas and New Years is over and now all we are left with is the cold weather, but I have found the answer to the January blues, this stunning home scenting set from The White Company. As the name Seychelles suggests, this scent is a luxurious beach holiday in a candle, room spray and reed diffuser form.

The notes are Amber, Vanilla and Bergamot and the combination creates a beautiful, warming and exotic fragrance which fills the room without being over-powering.When the dark and cold weather inevitably gets me down this January I will simply light this candle, close my eyes and dream of far away places, hot beaches and delicious cocktails. 

This home fragrance set includes a 50ml reed diffuser, a 15ml room spray and a 75g votive candle and costs £30.00.

This is my first product from The White Company so I'm afraid I can't compare it to their other scents but if their other fragrances are anything like this one then it won't be my last! I was very lucky to receive this set as a Christmas present from my sister as, due to the price, I would be unlikely to buy this set for myself. 

I love that this set has three different products. I leave the reed diffuser in the living room for an ongoing fragrance and then when I want to make the scent stronger I can use the spray, or light the candle to create a nice atmosphere.

Have you tried any of the candles and fragrances from The White Company? Any recommendations?

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Body Shop Colour Crush Nails - My Picks and Nail Art

I was so excited when The Body Shop launched their new nail polish collection last month. The Colour Crush Nail Colour Collection was introduced with 24 shades, although a couple of new ones have now been added for Christmas. The formula of these polishes are fantastic, you only need two coats of colour and they are very fast drying. They are long lasting especially when used with the base and top coat and that has been tested with the processing of a rather large retail delivery!

These are the shades I have so far. As an employee I was allowed to choose one when they first arrived in store and I went for the lilac shade called A Grape Affair. I get so many compliments when I wear this shade, it is lovely and bright and perfect for all seasons.

When pay day arrived I decided to pick up three more and chose the pastel green shade called Mint Cream, the dark vampy red/purple called Deeply In Love and the Top and Base Coat. I already know that Deeply In Love is going to be the one I reach for almost daily this autumn/winter.

Not only are the shades and formulas great but these polishes are also 100% vegan and animal cruelty free.

Here is an attempt at some nail art. I decided to try a simple floral design using A Grape Affair on all my nails and then painting the flowers with Deeply In Love and the leaf detail with Mint Cream. I used a thin nail art brush and used a Natural Collection White nail polish shade to highlight certain areas of the design to add some depth and detail.

I absolutely love the shades I have so far and already have a few more on my list of things to buy this pay day!

The nail polishes are only £5 each and you can see the full range here - link

As an employee I received one shade for free when the collection was launched but bought the other three with my own money using my staff discount. I have not been asked to write about these products but chose to do so because I enjoy using these products regularly.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Vichy Dermablend Foundation - Complexion Perfection?

The Vichy Dermablend Foundation promises to be a full coverage corrective foundation for blemish prone skin. After watching a Lisa Eldrige video about covering spots and blemishes with this foundation I knew I just had to give it a go and happened to find it on sale at Feel Unique.

The good thing (at least in theory) about Feel Unique is that they send you a small sample sachet to try before you open the product to check that the colour is correct, allowing you to return the item unused if the shade is not right. I say in theory as I ordered shade 15 Opal and they sent me a sample of shade 30 Sand. Not so helpful. So I had to open the full sized product straight away.

The foundation applies beautifully and does have fantastic coverage, concealing spots and redness to the point where I don't need to worry too much about concealer afterwards. Pretty impressive.

The finish is slightly dewy which I prefer to a matte finish so I was very happy on first application. Unfortunately the shade is a little too dark/yellow for me and I believe that this is the lightest shade that they do. However, to be honest, if they did have a lighter shade I don't think I would bother purchasing another one, as the biggest disappointment was how the foundation wore throughout the day.

The coverage is excellent in the morning when first applied but by mid-afternoon it had a habit of sliding off my face, revealing problem prone areas of the face far too much for my liking, certainly not the 16 hours coverage the packaging promises.

I did try setting it with powder to see if it made a difference (which I don't like to do too often as I have dry skin) but I'm afraid it still let me down. I had very high hopes for this foundation but it just didn't deliver and I am yet to find a foundation which stays in place perfectly all working day.

Any long lasting high coverage foundation recommendations??

Monday, 29 September 2014

How To Smell Like A Strawberry

I took full advantage of my staff discount last week and stocked up on some delicious smelling goodies from The Body Shop! I know that the strawberry scent is generally a big hit with the younger customers but I just can't resist the gorgeous sweet and fruity scent. I want to always smell like strawberries and these products will certainly help.

The Strawberry Shower Gel lathers up really well, especially when used with a bath lily/loofah and it leaves the yummy strawberry scent on the skin after your bath or shower. To keep my body nice and moisturised and to layer the strawberry scent I then use the Strawberry Body Sorbet which is a lovely lightweight non-greasy all over body moisturiser with community fair trade aloe vera. The sorbet texture has a very refreshing and cooling effect on the skin, perfect for summer in particular. As the weather gets a bit cooler I will switch to the Strawberry Body Butter but apparently we are in for a late burst of summer in October so this one may be in the rotation for a while!

The final strawberry product I bought was one of the new mini hand creams. Made with community fair trade shea butter from Ghana the strawberry hand cream is a gel-cream formula which absorbs in to the skin really quickly and leaves the skin lovely and soft. It is also the perfect size to keep in my handbag, as my hands get very dry especially in autumn/winter and it's nice to moisturise on the go. All of these products include cold-pressed strawberry seed oil which really helps the scent to last.

What is your favourite scent from The Body Shop?

Although I work for The Body Shop I have not been asked to write this blog post and the products were bought by myself with my staff discount.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Most Beautiful Brush Ever?

When I left my last place of work they were very generous and gave me a gift voucher for John Lewis as a leaving present. I went straight to the John Lewis beauty department on their website to drool over the possibilities! (After saying thank you of course).

I decided to buy something luxurious that would last for years which would always be a nice reminder of my time there. After deciding that the Real Techniques Blusher Brush was better suited for bronzer I have been on the look out for a new blusher brush and I had heard amazing reviews of the Japonesque brushes.

This Japonesque Pro Blush Brush is £28 so it's not the cheapest choice but as I had a gift voucher and because it was a leaving present I decided to treat myself.

I really can't describe just how soft this brush is, far softer than any other brush I own (with a much longer handle too). Even when washing, the brush hairs feel like silk in the water.

The brush picks up a perfect amount of product and the softness of the hairs diffuses the colour and blends it perfectly on the cheekbones. The size of the brush is actually relatively small in comparison to my other blusher brushes which allows for a more precise application, which could also be used for highlight and contouring.

It has shed a couple of hairs in the few weeks that I have had it, which is a little disappointing but not to the point where it would be a problem, and I still think it is the most beautiful brush I own. It is a real pleasure to use and I wish I could pick up a few more from the Japonesque brand. But almost £30 for one brush really is a lot when there are some fantastic and more affordable brands available.

I absolutely love this brush and I know that I will use it for a very long time, so thank you again to the lovely people at my last place of work for letting me choose such a beautiful present!

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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Rediscovering A Past Love...

When I was younger I absolutely loved to paint. I would shut myself away in my room for hours at a time with a blank canvas and get lost in the process of creating a piece of art. I loved it so much that I went to University to study History of Art and Architecture. After uni I continued to paint and eventually convinced my boyfriend (now husband) to try painting as he was great at drawing. He had an amazing natural talent for it and has been painting ever since. He now regularly receives commissions and is paid to paint in his spare time. He was so passionate about painting that it was like I had passed on the baton and lost my own motivation. I let him take over and stopped for a while.

Jane Eyre Flees Thornfield
But a couple of weeks ago, after maybe two or three years, I decided to pick up the paintbrush again. I forgot how much I loved it. It is a wonderful escapism and time seems to move differently with a paintbrush in hand. I find myself thinking about painting the way I used to and inspiration has returned. I don't know if this new found motivation to paint will stick around but I hope that it does.

I know that my husband and I have very different painting styles, although I would like my paintings to be realistic, they are not and instead I will embrace the style that I have.

I sat down with my sketch book a couple of weeks ago and decided to just paint from my imagination.

I took inspiration from my favourite book, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and painted a scene of Jane lost in the moors after she flees Thornfield. I am reasonably pleased with how it turned out considering that I am out of practice and am contemplating painting a series all based on the tragedies of Jane's life. I am currently planning a scene in the red room when Jane is a child living at her aunts house. Or maybe I will paint scenes from some of my other favourite books. If I do decide to continue I will post some updates on here.

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