Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

A Review: Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light

Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light
Shampoo & Conditioner

What Do I Think?
Putting my irritation and dislike for the cheesy accompanying advert for these products aside, the Pantene Aqua Light shampoo and conditioner are really pretty darn good. They actually do what they claim, that is to wash your hair with virtually no weight, and leaving no residue. The scent is clean and fresh, and I hate to say it, but if you do happen to 'make a swish', the scent wafts pleasantly throughout the day. They are free of hair coating silicones, and the lightweight formulation of both the shampoo and conditioner leaves my hair feeling soft, pretty shiny and very clean - literally squeaky clean in fact. I do find that because the shampoo is much lighter than those I normally use, my hair does tangle a lot more when wet {it's pretty long now, mid way down my back, so is prone to tangling}, but it's nothing that can't be fixed with conditioner and a wide toothed comb. Despite being lightweight, I find that the conditioner is still nourishing and my dry ends drink it up thirstily. This definitely won't cure dry, split ends, cutting them off is the only thing that will do that, but it cares for them as well as it can in the meantime. 

Where Are They Available?
Pantene products are available from most UK supermarkets, pharmacies and drugstores. You can probably buy online too, but check Google/their website for more info!

How Much Do They Cost?
The shampoo retails at £4.69 for 500ml, and the conditioner at £4.69 for 400ml {prices obtained from the Boots website}

Would I Recommend Them?
Yes, I really enjoyed using these products. Ultimately, they left my hair feeling clean and soft, which is the primary goal of a shampoo and conditioner, no?! I'm using {yet another} set of products up, but whenever I next see these on offer I think I'll snap them up.

Star Rating:

Disclaimer: I had free sample sizes of these products, that I obtained from some website, somewhere on the world wide web. I am not affiliated with Pantene in any way, and as ever, all words and opinions are my own. 

Monday, 28 November 2011

Jamie's {edited and somewhat late} birth story 23.08.10

A birth story certainly doesn't make for easy, quick reading, so please, if this is not your cup of tea, do not feel obliged to read it. I have a separate blog about Jamie, but for now it's private, for family and close friends only. 15 months ago {yes, it really has been that long already}, I published my birth story on said blog, and have pondered about posting it here ever since. I'm not sure why I've suddenly decided to share it with you, but for anyone who might be interested, or for anyone that it might help, here it is! I've edited it down {the original version is seriously long}, and tried to keep the gory details to a minimum. If you're going to read it, grab yourself a biccie, a brew and get comfy...

"The birth of a baby creates a family"

4 days overdue, my long awaited contractions finally started at approx. 02:30 on the 22.08.10. I'd had a couple of false contractions for a couple of nights previously, so I waited in bed for a while before realising that actually, these were more painful, coming every 10 minutes and were probably the 'real deal'. Knowing they could go on for a while yet, and that I'd need my energy, I tried to get some more sleep and dozed in between contractions for about an hour. Very soon they were beginning to come more regularly, between 5-10 minutes apart, so I started using Contraction Master {highly recommend - this now comes as an iPhone app} to time the frequency and length of each contraction. I held off for as long as possible, but eventually woke Colin once the contractions were coming on a lot stronger and lasting for approx. 45-60 seconds each, at about 05:30. He called labour ward at 06:30, who instructed us to wait until the contractions were every 1-2 minutes before coming in. I had a warm bath to try and help with the pain - it didn't - and, like a woman possessed, decided I simply had to shave my legs(!) before faffing around for a while until {a very nervous} Colin practically marched me out of the door at 08:00.

The hospital is literally minutes away from our home, although that didn't make the journey any less uncomfortable for me {having contractions in a car, whilst sitting on a towel 'just in case' is not something I enjoyed, that's for sure!}. Once on the labour ward, I was shown to a room where I bounced on the birthing ball, concentrating on breathing through each contraction, whilst Colin tried to distract me with games on his iPhone. An internal examination revealed I was 4cm dilated, coping well, and we were told that I'd be examined again in 4 hours. My BP {blood pressure}, temperature and pulse were fine, as was Nugget's {as Jamie was then called}. For some reason, not that I was complaining, I got moved to a bigger room at approx. 10:30, which had a bath in it that I planned to utilise later. Upon arrival I'd filled out my menu choices {with trepidation}, and come 11:45 I was *treated* to a 'roast' dinner on the NHS.

The next internal examination at approx. 10:45 revealed I was still between 4-5cm dilated, and that Nugget's head was quite high up. The midwife explained they might need to break my waters, if, in 4 hours time, I had not progressed any further. She gave me a sweep {not as painful as I imagined it to be} at 12:30 which prompted the contractions to come on a lot stronger. The midwife needed to monitor both mine and Nugget's heartbeat, so I was confined to bed for a while, although it was quite interesting to see the peaks on the graph each time I had a contraction - Colin could tell which ones had been especially bad {if my squeezing of his hand hadn't been enough of a give away}. I eventually asked him to get the midwife because I was really struggling to breathe through the contractions, which were just so exhausting. I had a bath but it did nothing and I was just in so much pain - nothing I've ever experienced even comes close. She suggested I give gas and air a go, so I tried a few puffs, however all it succeeded in doing was making me feel woozy - it did nothing for the pain, so in the end I just resorted to breathing techniques again.

At approx. 18:45 the midwife broke my waters, which upped the anti on the contractions, making them even stronger and more frequent. Despite feeling exhausted myself, I was very aware of Colin at this point too, who felt so redundant not being able to do anything except provide his hand for me to grip like a wrench each time I contracted, and try to keep me sane. I'm thankful {as I'm sure he is too} that just him being there helped me so much, and that I didn't even feel tempted to call him any nasty names! I suppose I should have guessed, but after a relatively smooth and easy pregnancy, things definitely began going a bit off kilter during labour, and at this point my BP, temperature and pulse sky rocketed.

By 19:45 I really just could not take any more pain {I'd gone from 02:30 to now with no pain relief whatsoever}, so asked begged Colin to get the midwife again. She explained my choices were either Pethidine or an Epidural, and after talking us through each one, left us to think for a minute. After a chat with Colin, and a couple of awful contractions, I decided upon an Epidural. Looking back, I'm incredibly proud of myself for lasting with relatively no pain relief for so long, I didn't think I could be that focused or robust {anyone that knows me probably didn't have much faith in my threshold for pain either}. It was a busy day in the delivery suite but thankfully the anaesthetist was free to see me almost immediately, and set about getting me prepared. My veins are an absolute nightmare, but after numerous failed attempts to get a cannula into my arm, they could get to work on the Epidural. I was really nervous and had started shaking, but sat as still as I could, clinging onto Colin and breathing through the contractions {women really deserve awards for this, sitting still when you're in labour is not easy}. After a failed first attempt, I finally felt the cooling {if somewhat odd} sensation of drugs being pumped into my body. The relief wasn't as instantaneous as I'd hoped, but it certainly took the edge off. Yet another internal examination at 20:45 revealed I was still only 5cm dilated and Nugget's head was still too high - my heart literally sank. I had a top up of the Epidural at 21:30 which relieved the pain a great deal, and was hooked up to a syntocinon drip in a bid to re-regulate my contractions and bring on labour.

The midwives changed shifts around this time, so I was introduced to a new one, who was really lovely and helped me to stay calm and informed. At 22:45 I had the third Epidural top up, and was informed that they were struggling slightly to differentiate between mine and Nugget's heartbeats, and that they needed to fit an electrode to his head in order to properly monitor him. The midwife had concerns I may have had labour induced pre-eclampsia due to my raised BP, so bloods were taken and I was given medication to reduce it. Shortly after, a doctor came in to see me and the suggestion was made that if there was no change in my dilation by 01:45, I would need to consider a C-Section.

At 23:45 I had the fourth Epidural top up, and was a lot more comfortable, barely feeling contractions - complete bliss in comparison. Nothing much happened and I know I was very sleepy because I don't remember much, just constant clock watching and monitoring of my BP and pulse, and a fifth Epidural top up at 12:45. At 01:45 {now 23.08.10} yet another internal examination revealed that I was now 8cm dilated {hoo-bloody-ray}, but Nugget's head was still too high, and it was confirmed {as we suspected} that he was positioned back to back. Foetal movements had also reduced which the midwife seemed concerned about. By then I was genuinely physically and mentally exhausted, starving hungry and I just wanted our baby out. The midwife explained that the doctor thought we should wait another two hours and see how I progressed, but she knew that I was really considering a C-Section because I'd simply had enough, and we could tell she thought it was the best option too. I was beginning to feel the contractions again, so after speaking privately to Colin, expressing my concerns about waiting another two hours and potentially progressing no further, I thought a C-Section was best. I knew that I was just so exhausted, when push came to shove {literally}, I physically wouldn't be able to. After an incredibly long, hard and emotional day, we made the call for Nugget to be delivered by C-Section. 
I was immediately prepped for theatre, introduced to the operating and anaesthetist teams and signed the relevant consent forms {although I really had no idea what on earth I was signing given the state I was in}. Colin donned the sexy scrubs and I was taken into theatre and given the anaesthetic through the Epidural, and a series of drugs through the cannula in my hand. My memory {especially now} of the whole experience is very hazy, I had the serious shakes, and I kept dozing in and out of consciousness, but I clearly remember Colin stroking my head, reassuring me, and then feeling lots of pushing, pressure and tugging in my stomach area. At 02:54 on Monday 23rd August 2010 we heard those precious newborn cries for the first time, and I was overcome with relief and emotion. Our beautiful baby boy, Jamie Mark Paul Thatcher, was born {I'm crying now, reliving this}. He weighed in at 7lb 4oz (a lot smaller than everyone thought, given my huge bump!) and Colin dressed him with a little help from the midwife. He was brought over to me for a cuddle, and I just couldn't get over how perfect and real he was. I remember being surprised at how much hair he had, and how tiny his fingers were! 
No amount of 'One Born Every Minute' episodes can possibly prepare you for the overwhelming sensations at meeting your baby for the first time. It is without a doubt the best moment of my life.

As it turned out, Mummy really does know best, and I'd made a good call eventually opting for a C-Section. The umbilical cord was wrapped around Jamie's neck twice, and he was indeed positioned back to back, both of which could have caused problems had I tried for a vaginal birth. Throughout the whole 9+ months of pregnancy I'd {perhaps naively} not once seriously considered the need for a C-Section, but I honestly know that I made the best decision and don't regret it for one second.

In comparison to my post-birth experience, labour was a walk in the park. I don't want to go into too much detail, I'm feeling pretty euphoric after re-writing this, but I had to stay in hospital for 5 days, was very ill and anaemic from blood loss during the operation, and hated every second of it. I was eventually {after 3 days of awful headaches, dizziness and sickness} given a blood transfusion and felt better almost immediately. My saving graces during that time {aside from Jamie} were daily visits from Colin and my family, and another two new mummies on the post-natal ward, who have now become two of my very best friends - we laughed and cried together, keeping each other sane. Coming home from the hospital was, without a doubt, the most surreal experience of my life. I felt like I'd been away forever {I'd certainly been through one hell of an ordeal}, and hobbled around in pain, not knowing where {or how} to sit, or what to do with the perfect little baby sleeping soundly in his carseat. My recovery felt quite slow at the time - never underestimate just how hard on the body a C-Section is, it's major surgery - and I was on various medication and painkillers for approx. one month after the birth, to regulate my BP and iron levels.
Despite a 24 hour labour, a hellish 5 day ordeal, and weeks of very hazy memories, I would do it all again in a heartbeat. You know why? Because Jamie is SO worth it.

Spotlight On: bareMinerals Lipgloss

 Bare Escentuals 3 Piece Bare Bakery Lipgloss Collection
Apple Butter, Cherry Pie, Heartcake

I'm cursing myself for throwing away the packaging this bareMinerals lipgloss trio, it was really adorably cute and retro, however in one of my {ever more frequent} de-cluttering sessions, out it went. These three lipglosses have a bakery/cake theme, are all aptly named and even smell like cake - what's not to like?! - {for what its worth, if you lick your lips you'll get less cake and more lipgloss taste, duh}. I really like the colour selection of these lipglosses, you get a bronze/red, a pink/red and a pale pink/nude.

{Jamie typed this for you: 4eqq11111111122wqa\\}

I've not tried many bareMinerals products, but whenever I pass their counter in a department store I'm always drawn in, like a moth to a flame, to "ooh" and "ahh" over the impressive display of mineral eyeshadows and blushers. 

Now, I'm not going to sugar coat it {see what I did there...?!}, these lipglosses are super sticky, and there will be definite 'hair stuck to lips in wind' moments if you wear this outside, but I'm not overly bothered by that. As you can see {from the swatches} below, the shades are pretty well pigmented, and retain their colour when applied to the lips - I have naturally very pigmented lips, and these colours show up well on me. These lipglosses have a small brush applicator, rather than your standard {my preferred} doe foot, but they do actually apply quite smoothly and allow for manageable control of the amount of product. The finish is glossy, but very wearable for daytime, and compliments a plethora of lipsticks.
L-R: apple butter, cherry pie & heartcake

This set is available to buy from the QVC website, and retails for £19.76 {the site currently states this is 'waitlist' only, but I have been reliably informed new stock is imminent}.

Disclaimer: I was sent this lipgloss trio for review consideration purposes. I am in no way affiliated with bareMinerals, and as ever, all words and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

A Review: Denman Natural Bristle Brush

 Denman Ultimate Natural Bristle Brush

What Do I Think?
Denman hairbrushes are somewhat iconic in the beauty industry, and are a brand I would associate with good quality, good value products. Some time ago, when suffering from post pregnancy hair loss woes, I was contacted by the PR company for Denman, who suggested I give one of their natural bristle brushes a try. A brush with natural bristles {what a tongue twister!} is significantly more gentle on the hair than your standard hairbrush, with each bristle spreading the hairs natural conditioning oils down the shaft. My hair tangles a lot when wet, so I always use a wide toothed comb after washing, then style it using one of my three hairbrushes {a standard brush, a wide toothed brush, and this Denman natural bristle brush}. I have fine hair, but a lot of it, and, once dry, I tend to have to brush individual sections separately. Ultimately though, my hair is left smooth and sleek, and I would say the natural hair loss {when brushing} is significantly reduced, and the condition noticeably improved. This is one of the only brushes that has never caused static in my hair, and I definitely feel it is less abrasive on my brittle hair {for those wondering, after almost 15 months post pregnancy, my hair loss is 'almost' back to normal}.

Where Is It Available?
Denman brushes are available instore and online from larger Boots stores and John Lewis.

How Much Does It Cost?
Prices for the Natural Bristle Brushes start at £13.75, and I believe the size I have (medium) retails for £15.65.

Would I Recommend It?
I think perhaps if the bristles themselves were a little longer, so as to brush through thicker sections of my hair, then I would happily elevate this to 'HG' status. However, for the most part, I tend to use this in conjunction with other hairbrushes, although I would most definitely recommend investigating natural bristled brushes if, like me, you suffer from hair loss/brittle hair.

Star Rating:

Disclaimer: I was sent this Denman brush for review consideration purposes after a conversation about the specific requirements of my hair. I am not affiliated in any way with Denman, and as always, all words and opinions are 100% my own. 

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A Review: Lee Stafford Poker Straight 'Night Patrol'

Lee Stafford Poker Straight
Night Patrol

What Do I Think?
I've never really felt as strongly compelled to write a review about a product as I have for this one. I'm not here to sing it's praises, far from it in fact. I'm here to shout from the rooftops about how pointless this product is. I've not really much an impression about Lee Stafford, but of the few products I've used before, I like the fun, pink packaging, and I am also quite partial to the sickly sweet smell {not for everyone I'm sure}. A personal bugbear with this particular packaging is the use of abbreviations and 'text talk', with the word before being spelt as "b4"...urgh *shudders*. Apparently, this product, to be used on dry hair before you go to bed, contains Style Memory™ - "a long lasting control polymer that smooths the hair and helps it stay in place overnight". What utter nonsense. All this product does is spray a light mist of scent over the hair. That. Is. It. This product embodies all that I intensely dislike about the beauty industry - the ability to sell just about anything, regardless of whether it works or the ludicrousy behind it's concept. I honestly do not know what possessed me to purchase this initially, way back when, but I wish I'd not wasted those pennies! Has anyone else ever tried this, and laughed in the face of it's failings?!

Where It It Available?
I have since discovered that this Lee Stafford product is now discontinued {I wonder why?!}, so this is no longer widely available.

How Much Does It Cost?
As above.

Would I Recommend It?
No way - short and sweet! I'm not purposefully attempting to 'diss' Lee Stafford products in general, but this product really is embarrassingly pointless and pretty shambolic!

Star Rating:

Disclaimer: I initially purchased this product with my own money. I am not affiliated in any way with Lee Stafford, and as ever, all words and opinions are my own. Apologies for the standard Google image, my bottle of this is now going in the bin!

Monday, 21 November 2011

A Review: HD Brows

HD Brows High Definition Brows

What Do I Think?
I know, I know, you're probably all sick to death of seeing HD Brows, but here I am, adding my two cents worth. For anyone who might not know, HD Brows, in a nutshell, is pretty much what it says on the tin {plastic packaging}: a palette of shadows for defining your eyebrows. There are three different shade varieties, Bombshell for blondes (the palette I have - see below for swatches), Foxy for brunettes/redheads and Vamp for really dark hair. Each palette contains four matte shades, tailored to a specific hair colour, which you can also use to create a smokey eye shadow effect too, if that's what takes your fancy.  Although I will probably stick to using it for my brows, I like that versatility in a product. The compact also has a handy little mirror and brush (although mine came without!), which is good if you're the type to 'define on the go'. I'm quite fortunate that although sporadically wayward and sometimes slightly sparse, my brows are naturally quite defined and have a decent enough shape - aided only by begrudged plucking now and then! However, recently I have found myself wanting to know what they'd be like a little fuller. Although I am a blonde, the older I get, the more heavily I have to rely on the bottle (of dye, not wine, in this particular instance), and my eyebrows are actually pretty dark (even compared to my natural roots), but even I had to be a little careful with the shades in the Bombshell palette. The shades appear darker on the brows than in the pan, on me at least, and after some practising I've found the best colour combination for me is a mixture of the three lightest shadows, applied with an Inika slanted brush and a light touch.  From what I have experienced, these shadows are pretty resilient and smudge resistant - good job too, because no one wants to find that their eyebrows are halfway down their face by lunchtime!

 Sunlight, no flash

Natural daylight, no flash*

Where Is It Available?
These palettes are available online from HD Brows.

How Much Does It Cost?
The HD Brows palettes retail at £19.95.
Would I Recommend It?
I must be honest (as ever) and admit that I wouldn't purposefully go out to purchase a brow palette, however I have used this product for what it is intended, and will continue to do so. What I will say is that these shadows are almost a little too pigmented, although I know that is where the 'HD' concept comes in, and a light hand is most definitely needed if, like me, you want your brows to still look natural, just slightly more defined. If you're crazy about your brows, then I would say you will more than probably adore this product!

Star Rating:

Disclaimer: This product was provided by PR for review consideration purposes. I am not affiliated with HD Brows, nor am I being compensated in any other way. All words and opinions are, as ever, 100% my own.
*No, that's not a bad case of fake tan, just a combination of odd angle and an inappropriately placed shadow. How RUDE! 

Sunday, 20 November 2011

NOTD: Nails Inc 'Black Taxi'

Admittedly not the most exciting NOTD, after-all, a black nail polish is a black nail polish. This is a thick, good quality and opaque black polish, that dries to a high gloss finish. A word of warning with this though, if you do two relatively thick coats {which is my usual application process} it does take a v e r y long time to dry, so make sure you allow plenty of time.

I'm a big fan of black nails, I think they look very sleek and feminine, and obviously go very well with the vast majority of outfits. The perfect accompaniment to my Little Red Dress last night, this is definitely more of an autumn/winter shade, and looks great paired with an accent glitter nail if that so happens to tickle your fancy too.

What is your favourite brand of black nail polish?

OOTN: Little Red Dress

 I'm SO awkward at posing!

Dress & Belt - Apricot {via New Look}
Tights - Matalan
Shoes - New Look
'L' necklace - Accessorize
Earrings - Warehouse
Bracelets - Warehouse
Clutch Bag - Oasis

I've provided links to all current season items.

I really loved my outfit, I felt very comfortable in the dress, and it most definitely skims the less desirable mummy tummy parts that I try to hide. I will say though, as much as I love the dress, the fabric has already gone a bit bobbly by the hips, where I was obviously holding my clutch, and it pulls VERY easily. 

Like the bad blogger I am, I neglected to take a photo of my make up, but for what it's worth, I wore:

MAC Peachykeen blush

HD Brows in Bombshell*
Natural Collection clear mascara

MAC Satin Taupe e/s
MAC Print e/s
No7 Stay Perfect e/s in Mink

Benefit Her Glossiness Lipgloss in 'didn't hear it from me'



Perhaps somewhat annoyingly, I've linked to products I've previously reviewed/mentioned. Products marked with an * were provided for review consideration purposes. All other items were purchased with my own money, or in the case of the NYC Chroma Face Glow was won in a blog giveaway!

What's In My {Night Out} Bag?

As promised in this post, here is my What's In My Bag, the Night Out edition! Colin and I went on a rare night out yesterday evening, to celebrate one of our bestest friends impending birthday. We had a fabulous time, kicked off with pre dinner drinks, a lovely Italian dinner which left us stuffed silly, then {plenty of} post dinner drinks at the local boozer!

Behold, my beautiful, sparkling Night Out clutch bag:

Behold, it's {not so beautiful or sparkling} contents:

The bigger the bag, the more junk I tend to carry on a night out, but thankfully, I opted for a compact clutch last night! I could have done with some room for a pair of flats {I wore 5 inch heels, ouchie}, but we live and learn...right?! I'd say judging by my hangover, the sentiments in that last statement are incorrect!

Colin was in charge of the pennies last night {thank you British Gas refund!}, hence the lack of purse/money/cards! I did take my ID, just in case, but didn't need to use it - at 25 I guess I look old enough now?! My clutch contained: my camera {on it's last legs I think, the photo quality was awful so I hijacked my friends all evening instead!}, tissues {this cold just will not shift}, my iPhone, blotting papers, MAC Peachykeen blush, MAC MSF Natural, Benefit Her Glossiness lipgloss, MAC 168 brush {horrifically dirty!} and Ecotools Powder brush.

The bag, for those wondering {which I hope you are, for it is indeed very beautiful}, is current season from Oasis, and will also be featured in my OOTN post, coming up next. I initially purchased this bag for Franky's Bride To Be Tea Party, and will also be rocking it at her January nuptials. For a clutch, it's a really decent size, and it also has a chain strap should you so wish to use it.  

Friday, 18 November 2011

Thursday, 17 November 2011

What's In My {Daily} Bag?

It seems that e v e r y o n e in the blogosphere, has, at some point, bowed down to the immense pressure that is the 'what's in my bag' tag, whether in video or blog format. I'd like to offer up something a little 'different' for my take on this now infamous tag...the Mummy version!

Behold, my daily handbag:

Behold, the contents of said daily handbag:

That's correct, I now call my, admittedly very beautiful baby changing bag a handbag. Avid followers may remember this gorgeous bag as one of the amazing gifts I received at my {surprise} baby shower back in July 2010. I recall lusting over this bag for so long, and stressing to Colin, when he visibly paled at the price of it, that this was going to be my handbag for at least the next 2/3 years, so it just had to be beautiful. I hate to say it Colin, but, I told you so!

Luckily for you, dear followers, photograph taking opportunity arose the day after I had cleared out and replenished the changing bag {removed the crumbs, multiple pairs of baby socks, and half eaten packets of baby crisps}, but this is most definitely, at the very least, what I carry around on a daily basis when Jamie and I leave the house. The bag itself is from the brand Pink Lining, and I believe this particular 'Blooming Gorgeous' style was exclusive to John Lewis at the time of purchase, for between £70-£80. As an aside, I would definitely recommend this bag to Yummy Mummies, it's roomy enough for all that I've shown above, plus spare clothes/more food, it has two thermal bottle holders along with a plethora of pockets.

For those interested, a brief rundown of the contents: co-ordinating travel size changing mat and wet bag - containing nappies, nappy sacks, Metanium and Bepanthen nappy ointments, baby wipes, antibacterial wipes, teat sterilising wipes, Jamie's comforters {Bedtime Bear and Henry}, MY scarf, tissues, hand sanitiser, Sophie la Girafe, a spare spoon, a pen, Jamie's beaker, some emergency snacks - a fruit pouch, raisins, Fruit Flakes, x2 Humzingers, x2 books, MY purse, MY iPhone and MY Carmex.

My beloved handbags might be collecting dust in the top of my wardrobe, but at least I'm not hauling around some ugly monstrosity in their place. I &hearts: my changing bag...honestly, I do!

Colin and I are actually socialising, sans baby, this weekend, so if I am not too hungover remember, I'll take some photos of what is in my 'night out' bag for your perusal.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the brands/companies mentioned in the post, all photographs and words are, as ever, my own. If you would like a review of any products/brands featured, just ask in the comments!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Monday, 14 November 2011

Beauty on a Budget #2

MUA (Make Up Academy) Professional Eye Palette
Heaven & Earth

I have to confess that long gone are the days of meticulously blending numerous shades of eye shadow together, focusing on crease and outer corner shading. Now that I am hard pressed for time of a morning, if I wear eye shadow it tends to be a wash of colour, or on a good day, a wash of two colours blended together. Simple. No fuss. Job done. Onto the nappy changing..!

I have a fair collection of eye shadows, despite streamlining my collection, ranging from high end (mainly MAC) to drugstore, and I honestly couldn't pick out just one favourite. It's not all about the high end when it comes to eye shadow, in my humble opinion, and the majority of my 'go to' shades are actually drugstore brands. You can also find cheaper alternatives (dupes) to most high end shadows in the drugstore too.

MUA are one of the latest budget brands to hit the high street, exclusive to Superdrug (UK only I believe), with the majority of their standard line starting at £1 per product - yes, that's lipstick, eye shadow, lipgloss, nail polish etc all for a mere £1 each! From what I have tried, I'm notably impressed with the brand, the quality and obviously the price. Lack of pigmentation or durability is usually the downfall of cheaper, drugstore make up brands, but I can honestly say I do not think this is the case at all for MUA. 

Alongside their main £1 range they also offer a Professional collection, from which the Heaven & Earth eye palette originates. The professional eye palettes consist of 12 shadows, retail at a mere £4 and there are various different palettes to chose from (approx. 6 from memory). 

Natural daylight, no flash

Heaven & Earth, as it's name might suggest, contains 12 earth toned shimmery eye shadows, that are all REALLY well pigmented, and apply smoothly to the eye. I find that, despite my oily skin and without the use of an eyelid primer, these last all day with no creasing, fading or fall out. What's not to love?! If you do want to get a little more creative, they are easy to mix and blend, and the shades complement each other beautifully.

I've included swatches for of all the shadows below, as they appear in the palette, for your perusal.  

Please click the photographs to enlarge if necessary.

 Natural daylight, no flash

Sunlight, no flash

This palette really is perfect for me, it's such an effortless yet versatile collection of wearable neutral shades, and it only costs FOUR POUNDS! For TWELVE eye shadows! I must admit, I was initially sceptical about this brand, but I am so blown away by MUA, and really want to gradually extend my collection of their palettes especially. You really are getting a lot of bang for your buck here! 

Disclaimer: I purchased this palette with my own money, all £4 of it, and I am not affiliated with MUA in any way. All words and opinions are my own, as ever. I even went outside on a crisp but sunny autumn day to take these good quality photos for y'all.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

NOTD: 17 Magnetized Nail Polish

  17 Magnetized Nail Polish

I have literally purchased this nail polish today, with my Advantage Card points from Boots, so this NOTD is hot off the press - coming straight to you, typed by a slightly tacky nailed me! The photos were taken on my iPhone in artificial lighting, so might not be the best quality, but I couldn't hang about until morning!

Magnetized nail polishes are one of the latest trends, and although I don't normally buy into these often superficial fads, I was decidedly intrigued enough to warrant using my sacred points! Although I wasn't sure how to use it at first, after a couple of bodged attempts, I quickly got the hang of it, and was really quite impressed with the results - especially from a low price drugstore brand. Thumbs up to 17!

'How to use'

Apologies for the poor iPhone quality photo, but I wanted to include a photo of how to use the magnet part of this nail polish. The magnet is ensconced in the (removable) cap of the nail varnish, and should be hovered (as shown above) over a coat of the polish whilst still wet - be careful not to touch the actual nail. The good points about this nail varnish for me are that it is opaque in one coat, dries SUPER fast and is also a gorgeous shade worn alone without the magnetized effect. If you'd like a closer (better quality) look, watch this helpful video from the Boots website. As detailed in the video, holding the magnet at different angles will result in different directional patterns - although I'm yet to try this!

These retail at £5.99 (17 is exclusive Boots), and there is currently a 3 for 2 offer on all 17 products. There are 4 Magnetized shades available: teal (although this is what I have, and the label says green), blue, lilac and gun metal - I'd happily have all four if funds permitted.

I'm sure the magnetized trend is not for everyone, but I quite like to be little bit different with my nails, and I think this will definitely be a conversation starter. 

What do you think about the Magnetized trend?

Disclaimer: As stated, I purchased this polish myself, with my Boots Advantage Card points. I am not affiliated with Boots or 17 in any way, all words and opinions are my own.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Yummy Mummy Survival Guide #1

I've been in this {Mummy} business for long enough now (approx. 14.5 months) to be in a position to offer up my two cents worth on what I think it takes to be a Mummy. I'll be dishing out my rambled thoughts in a series of (hopefully) humorous and honest posts - this being the first, tentative, toe in the water dipping.

#1 To be a Mummy you need: a sense of humour

Being a Mummy (and a Daddy too, but I obviously can't write from that perspective), although being the best thing since sliced bread, can be a tough old job, and probably the most valuable piece of advice I can give you, is, when all else fails, laugh. 

You will most definitely spend a fantastic proportion of your life as a Mummy laughing, whether that is real, honest to goodness, tears rolling down your face, belly aching laughter, or sheer despairing at the ripping your hair out, stressful, painful fact of it all laughter.

Being able to laugh both at and with the situation, not only gives you plenty of ticks in the 'good Mummy' boxes, but it sure as hell makes you feel better. One of my favourite sounds in the entire world is children's laughter, there is honestly nothing I like more than hearing it, so what are you waiting for, lead by example. With all the good will in the world, sometimes our children are just here to test us, and whilst you might be feeling tired {on the brink of exhaustion}, grumpy {stretched to the limit} and fractious {close to breaking point}, shrug your shoulders, and just...l a u g h. What might initially start out as partly contrived, fake laughter, one day you'll realise you're actually physically laughing, and enjoying it.

When your precious baby looks up at you with elation and glee, clapping their chubby little hands together, after proudly knocking down your building block tower {masterpiece} that was, quite frankly, worthy of a place in an art gallery...laugh.

When your baby stumbles and falls, bumping their head on the side of the table, despite your many warnings and repeated uttering of the word "no", scoop them up, kiss the bump better, wrap your arms around them and...laugh.

When your baby spits out/throws yet another of your painstakingly prepared, delicious home cooked meals, shaking their head defiantly, refusing to open their mouth no matter how many attempts you make to try and entice them, take a deep breath and {internally}...laugh.

When you're about to step out of the door, after a mad rush to clamber together enough nappies, baby wipes and {mostly} healthy snacks to support an entire army, your baby suddenly adopts that red, scrunched up poo face and a smell so vicious and vile begins to emanate, and you just know you've got a horrendous poo explosion on your hands...laugh.

When you've spent hours {OK, a few hastily snatched minutes} primping and preening yourself for a rare night off from Mummyhood, possibly even sporting a new dress or top to ceremoniously mark the occasion, you stop to give your precious baby one last kiss and cuddle goodbye and are left with a trail of puke dribbling down your shoulder or sticky hand prints down your tights...laugh.

When that very important, but admittedly not very enticing, utility bill you've been searching high and low for, so that you might attempt to actually pay it on time is suddenly found, ripped into oblivion in the depths of the toy basket...laugh.

When that competitive, arrogant and busy body Mum that you just can't escape {lets face it, unfortunately we all know at least one} makes yet another snide "oh can't he/she do that yet" remark about something her delightful little so and so has been doing for simply aggggees, take a deep breath and {internally}...laugh.

When your house is a complete and utter mess {despite being perfectly orderly a mere 10 minutes before}, to the point guests stare in open mouthed horror and gasp "I think you've been burgled", you smile begrudgingly and weakly offer up "it's been a tough few days" by way of excuse as they visibly shudder...laugh.

When your partner comes home after a long, tiring day hard at work, surveys the house whilst pretending not to be noting down the tasks you've failed to accomplish, and 'innocently' questions if dinner might be ready, while your blood boils at the audacity of their not congratulating you for keeping the baby alive and the house in one piece...laugh.

When on the receiving end of yet another {hopefully well intentioned} question about "when will you be getting a job then?" from anyone who isn't a SAHM themselves, and your complete valid protestations that bringing up your child IS your job, and a bloody important one at that, fall on completely deaf ears...laugh.

If there is one thing I've learnt, it's that Mummyhood is tough enough, so lighten up a little, and give yourself a laughter break. Who gives a monkeys about the laughter lines...what's another wrinkle between friends?!

NOTD: Ciaté 'Wait Until Dark'

I've featured Ciaté Paint Pots on my blog a few times before, and find them, for the most part, good quality and easy to use nail polishes. I forget now which (UK) magazine this particular offering from Ciaté came free with, but I really loved the dark, intense purple shade, with it's almost undetectable iridescent shimmer.

It's not apparent in the photograph (why doesn't that surprise me, NOTD's are frustratingly hard without the use of a decent camera!), but the shimmer in this is more noticeable in the bottle than on the nails, it's a subtle sheen more than anything. I really love the name of this polish too - 'Wait Until Dark' - it really compliments the shade.

This polish dries to a smooth and glossy finish, and is opaque with two coats. I do find the brush a little small on the Ciaté Paint Pots, however the handle and bottle are both easy to grip, which somewhat makes up for the slightly poor brush design.

Oh, and chipped thumbnail? What chipped thumbnail?!

In other news, I'm featured over on Modesty Brown's excellent blog today - well and truly baring my (superficial beauty) soul in her Friday beauty confessional feature. Please do let me know what you think...! 

Also, I urge you to please go and check out my good friend's blog (Mum/Me), and her most recent post about an incredibly important issue - being breast cancer aware.


Those we have lost, and those who continue to fight so bravely for us, think of them with nothing but pride.

Lest We Forget

Thursday, 10 November 2011

My {mini} Benefit Army

Benefit Mini's
Posietint, High Beam, Benetint

I love me a good magazine freebie, and over the past couple of years (UK) Glamour has most definitely upped the anti, and received high praise indeed. Many of the Nails Inc and Benefit products I own have found their way into my collection from their temporary sticky adhesive home on the front cover of Glamour. As an aside, I'm really impressed that Glamour don't forget their magazine subscribers, and unlike many other magazines, you still receive the free gifts.

I featured the Benetint and Posietint cheek stains in FOTD posts back in the summer, (after getting them free with Glamour) and although I expected to hate their liquid/gel consistencies, I fell a little bit in love, and quickly made my way through the minis. Recently, perhaps a consequence of not renewing my annual Glamour subscription due to lack of funds, I was sent a promo code enticing me to get 6 issues for £6.00, with a GWP of three Benefit minis. Unable to afford to purchase full size bottles, I (as if by magic, or a handy twist of fate) found £6.00 in my PayPal account, and decided to take advantage of the offer. 

Admittedly, both Benetint and Posietint can be a little hard to work with, although I genuinely find it differs from day to day, and sometimes they will apply perfectly, first time, whereas other times I end up with big streaks of unblendable colour on my cheeks! Temperamental application issues aside, I do really love these products, and am happy to be using them again for days when I want a longer lasting flush of colour.


High Beam is a creamy liquid (not runny) highlighter, in a beautiful shimmery pastel pink pearlescent shade (try saying that when you've had a few glasses of Rose!), that adds a subtle and delicate sheen to your cheekbones or browbones (or anywhere else you decide to apply it for that matter). I normally tend to steer well clear of anything that ADDS shine to my face, being oily skinned after a few hours I tend to have enough 'natural shine' in abundance, however I find that if used sparingly High Beam is bearable, simply providing a barely there highlight.

My camera found capturing this an impossibility, even when swatched on my hand, so for now you'll have to suffice with Googling if you want to see how it actually looks on the skin. Apologies. So, there we have it folks, my {mini} Benefit Army!

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Benefit or (UK) Glamour in any way, all words and opinions are my own.