Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Surprises from Australia...

I went on holiday to America earlier this month (read more about that later), returning home to a very exciting parcel waiting for me, sent all the way from Australia. Seeing the Australian postmark, I knew who it was from, despite never meeting them and not knowing what it contained. Mysterious hey? Well, I'd been contacted to see whether I'd like to take part in a blogger swap with an Australian blogger. Of course, I jumped at the chance to receive a surprise parcel filled with Australian goodies - it was down to my partner whether those were things that represented Australia, or whether they were items that you purely can't get in the UK. 

I was paired up with the lovely Renée, a blogger who lives just outside Melbourne. We were matched up because we're both lifestyle bloggers posting a little bitta everything, plus we both love to travel. I was really pleased to have Renée as my partner and couldn't wait to see the gifts she'd choose for me. Opening the jiffy bag, I saw a ribbon wrapped bundle and a letter written on beautiful Kikki K stationery. I've seen Australian brand Kikki K's stationery online before and wish they were sold in the UK, such lovely paper sets and planners!

Renée had sent me the most wonderful letter - almost two full pages of beautiful purple handwriting - explaining her choice of gifts. I was overwhelmed with the thoughtfulness and time that had gone into her selection. She explained about her knowledge of the UK and our temperamental weather, so included a super soft wooly scarf which will be perfect for when our short summer disappears and the chill returns. I feel like Renée may have noticed the lack of colour in my previous outfit posts, combined with the general colour theme of my blog and chose the perfect colour scarf for me - black! It's so soft and amazing quality, I can't wait to put it to good use in the colder months. Accompanying the scarf was, another item in the perfect colour palette, a Melbourne purse. Renée's letter told how she bought this purse in Melbourne's Laneways - a bustling maze of shops and cafes housed in little alleyways filled with street art. Josh and I visited Australia on our travels last year, so Renée's tales of shopping for my gifts bought back some lovely memories. The purse really is going to take me straight back to the crazy, cool city that is Melbourne every time I use it.

Renée and I were paired up for the campaign by Austravel, who have created an interactive map showing the similarities and differences between UK and Aus destinations sharing the same names - it even shows the street views of the two places. My little town of Cheltenham is featured on there! I was very pleased to see that Cheltenham, UK was almost 15°C hotter than Cheltenham, Aus... but then it was 5am and winter in Australia, so I'll let them off.

Thank you so much for the wonderful gifts, Renée! I can't wait to see what you thought of my parcel for you x

Monday, 15 June 2015

Getting ready for a summer wedding

Summer is here already and I can't believe how fast the past year has gone. In August last year I was bridesmaid to Josh's sister, Sarah. When Mira Showers* asked me how I'd get ready for a special occasion, whether that's a summer wedding, day at the races or even just a BBQ with friends, I knew exactly which event I was going to write about.

We started the day with a light breakfast of fresh fruit, warm pastries and, of course, an obligatory glass (or two) of prosecco. After jumping in the shower, using a body scrub to reinvigorate and washing my hair, I used a frizz resistant serum to ensure it stayed silky smooth and styled all day. I chose to style my hair with loose waves, to match the boho festival theme of the wedding. It was the perfect theme for Sarah and her husband, Max, both seriously laid back music and festival lovers. For me, leaving plenty of time to get ready is key for a special occasion - it means you're not stressed and rushing around at the last minute, which is never a good start! I like to shower, then relax for a while in my dressing gown with a cuppa, before getting dressed and doing my hair and makeup. Mira have an amazing selection of showers and shower heads to make getting ready easy and leave you feeling calm yet invigorated. My favourite is the 360 shower head, with four different functions to choose from. Rain, burst, cloud and storm - you're bound to find your perfect shower with that selection!

Once we were ready, it was time to get dressed. The bridesmaids dresses were by Little Mistress and I had mine altered by Sarah's aunty. I had to have four inches shopped off the bottom, plus an inch or two taken off the straps too, but that meant it fitted me perfectly, despite losing a little of the pattern from the bottom. They were the perfect dresses for the wedding theme, matching the bright colours and flowers scattered throughout the church and reception venue.

It was so much fun getting ready and helping Sarah get ready too, before sending her off to the church in the VW camper van. I really feel like the girly getting ready part before a wedding is a huge part of the day, especially when you're a bridesmaid! It was a lovely ceremony at the church, followed by an awesome afternoon and evening at the reception. There were two amazing bands, fun summer fete style games, delicious food, lots of gin and so much dancing. I can't believe they've almost been married for a year, it really has flown by!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

'Gine the aubergine: crochet pattern

aubergine eggplant crochet pattern
my first try at crochet amigurumi blog

'Gine is my first ever attempt at crochet. So what did I decide to make for my first project? An aubergine... oh yeah I did.

Josh and I decided not to get each other birthday presents this year, because we had only just returned from travelling on my birthday and we were a little short of both money and time. To make it fair, we said we'd do the same for Josh's birthday this year too. As happy as we both were with cards, friends, family and fun evenings - I still wanted to give something to Josh on his birthday. Instead of buying a present, I decided to make him something. So the obvious choice was his favourite vegetable (and emoji) - the aubergine!

I've wanted to learn how to crochet for ages, so this was the perfect starter project. I found the free aubergine crochet pattern here (via the wonderful platform that is Pinterest). I really enjoyed learning something new and creating this little cutie, so I've already started working on a few more crochet projects. The pattern was easy to follow and quick to create - it's so cool to see something developing right before your eyes.

Have you ever tried crochet? What was your first project? I'd love to find any amazing crochet/craft blogs or patterns, so please leave me your favourites in the comments!

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Barry M - Daylight Curing Nail Paints

Barry M Sunset Daylight Curing Nail Varnish review
Barry M Sunset Daylight curing nail polish swatches

I recently won these Barry M Sunset Nail Paints in a competition on Twitter, it was such a lovely surprise to hear I'd won in the middle of a normal working day. I've had Shellac manicures before, so hearing that these polishes should look and last the same as salon polishes cured with a UV light intrigued me. Seeing as I'd been lucky enough to receive the full set, I thought I'd put them to the test and see if they're any replacement for expensive gel manicures.

Barry M recommend applying two thin layers of colour followed by a layer of the daylight curing topcoat. I followed instructions, but found that the two thin layers did not leave my nails as opaque as I would like, so added a third layer to create a more solid shade. I found that the layers dried really quickly, which is great for me, as I'm pretty impatient when painting my nails.

I love the vibrant colours in the range. For my first mani I chose Peach for the Stars, the bright coral pink shade, second from left in the top photo. It's a beautiful shade and leaves a really high shine, much like a Gelish or Shellac salon manicure, as well as a super smooth finish.

I've heard a couple of comments about chipping with these polishes. I found that they lasted well for a couple of days - even doing the washing up - but then started to chip around the edges following that. So they're not quite as long lasting as they may claim, or as long as a salon manicure, but for a five pound polish - they're not too bad. I love the super smooth, shiny finish they give - and if that chips after a couple of days, then that's okay with me. 

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Brush off April showers: top tips for frizz free hair

How to keep hair frizz free
All products: Just My Look*

We're halfway through April and, so far, we've remained relatively unscathed when it comes to April showers. Apologies, if I have now jinxed the nice weather and we're cursed with thunderstorms for the rest of the month... umm, oops. I'm not taking any chances, so I've prepared myself with armfuls of products to keep hair frizz free during the supposed rainy season.

The super-duo that is the Tigi Catwalk Oatmeal and Honey shampoo and conditioner is first on my list of key products. This huge double pack is great value for a start, not only that but it smells amazing too. I may have almost licked the shampoo in the shower, but managed to resist. Just. It's a seriously moisturising set, making even my super heat damaged hair silky smooth to the touch. Beginning with these products is a great starting point to beating the frizz.

In my opinion, a hugely important step in minimising fly away hair is reducing damage and preventing split ends. I've used Tangle Teezer brushes for a few years now and I really do think they're a brilliant product. Running one of these through your hair after a shower is, not only, pain free but reduces breakage too. 

Once the knots are smoothed out, I run a dollop of Tigi's Bed Head Control Freak Serum through the mid-lengths and ends. You can't really see from my photo, but the serum itself is a shimmery green product... I love it. But don't worry, you're not left with a headful of glitter, it's very subtle in the bottle and doesn't transfer to hair at all. Applying this before blowdrying and styling my hair has been a lifesaver recently. It ensures that my naturally curly hair stays straight all day, even if it comes into contact with damp weather.

Finally, I seal everything in with a spray of Tigi's Spoil Me Defrizzer which, pretty much, does what it says on the tin... quite literally. By the time this goes on to my hair, it's already dry, styled and straight... I just want to make sure it stays that way. This product prevents static while conditioning the ends of the hair to ensure that any damaged, split ends stay slightly weighed down and don't become flyaway. It's a versatile product, that could also be used on curly hair to define waves and reduce frizz. 

A combination of these wonder-products has resulted in my hair remaining super soft and smooth all day long, even if I do get caught in the occasional drizzle. What are your top tips for silky smooth hair?

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Ultra Brow - the ultimate eyebrow palette by Makeup Revolution

Ultra Brow Makeup Revolution review
Makeup revolution ultra brow kit swatches
makeup revolution fair eyebrow palette swatches review
Ultra Brow - Makeup Revolution (Fair-Medium)*
Swatches as product appears in palette

I don't fill my eyebrows in - but purely because I hadn't yet found a product that doesn't look unnatural on my fair eyebrows. Despite my hair being a mid-auburn/brown, my eyebrows are light and more suited to someone with much fairer hair. Most people manage to do it perfectly, despite having lighter eyebrows, but for some reason I always turn out looking like a pantomime Dame. Even Benefit's fairest Browzings kit hasn't worked out for me and, usually, Benefit can do no wrong in my books.

Makeup Revolution have bought out another amazing product, possibly solving my eyebrow issues! Ultra Brow contains one fair eyebrow pencil, four powders in varying shades, two tinted waxes, an arch enhancing cream, highlighter, tweezers and brush applicators. They've pretty much covered all bases with this nifty little kit. 

I'm so impressed with the powder shades which, as you can see from my freckled arm, range from a lightest of light, barely there blond shade to a light-mid brown - perfect for any lighter complexions and hair colours. The brown wax is a little darker and I'll be using this sparingly, but the lighter wax could easily be applied over the top of a powder to set the product. The arch enhancing cream (long, thin product in top right of palette) is genius, neatening up your arch after you've finished splashing coloured powder over your brows - it's the perfect end to your eyebrow routine. 

Yet again, I'm really impressed with Makeup Revolution's newest release. I'd definitely recommend checking it out if, like me, you've so far struggled to find your perfect brow shade - look no more! Based on the range of colours in the fair-medium palette, I'm sure that the medium-dark and dark-black palettes are just as impressive.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Lifestyle: a new job

I'm always curious about people's real lives, outside of blogging, so I thought I'd write a little update on my new job role... 

As you may well know, I returned from travelling in December 2014 and Josh and I moved back to Cheltenham after Christmas. Josh picked up with his work as an event logistics manager straight away and I promptly started looking for a new marketing job. I was incredibly lucky, as after only 2 weeks of searching, I spotted, applied for and was offered my ideal job!

For the last couple of months, I've been settling into my new role as Social Media and Marketing Executive at Whittard of Chelsea - specialists in loose tea, coffee and luxurious hot chocolate. I'm really enjoying working with the team at Head Office. It's different, in some ways, from my fashion PR and marketing background but it's a great brand to work for, with amazing products and there are some very exciting plans in the pipeline!

If you love excellent tea, coffee or hot chocolate as much as me, then you can find Whittard of Chelsea's social media accounts here: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram

Working with the products every day, means that I've developed a wish list as long as my arm! I've collated a few of my favourite products below, including the lovely White Rabbit mug that I have my morning tea in, plus a couple of my favourite drinks and other tableware...