Monday, 30 January 2012

TAG: 7 Deadly Beauty Sins


Everyone and their Mother seems to be doing this beauty TAG at the moment {or meme if that's what you prefer them to be called}, and since I'm laid up in bed with a bad back I figured it's something I can easily join in with.

GREED
Most Inexpensive and Expensive Product?
My most inexpensive product {that I constantly repurchase} is my clear mascara from Natural Collection, which retails for £1.99. I use it as a setting gel for my brows - why spend more than £1.99?! I also really rate the MUA Heaven & Earth eyeshadow palette, containing 12 shades, which retails for £4.00! My most expensive products are probably my Chanel Illusion D'Ombre {in Illusoire} and Chanel Glossimer {in Bagatelle}. I won both of these in giveaways {I know, I know, I'm lucky}, but I think they technically still count, right?!

WRATH
What Products Do You Have A Love/Hate Relationship With?
I have to say lipstick. I love lipstick, I love the hundreds of shades and finishes, from various brands and for various prices. However, I just can't find a lipstick that doesn't end up drying my lips out, even when applied over a really nourishing lip balm. I've tried high end and drugstore and all seem to have the same effect. That said, it won't stop me wearing them, it just irritates me, a lot!

What Has Been Hardest To Find?
I've never really sought out to find a product, or to hunt it down regardless of where that hunt takes me, or costs me, so I'm not sure how to answer this one! I did really, really lust after MAC Ripe Peach blush for a while after it was released, and Benefit Cha Cha Tint too, but I'm managing just fine without them! There are a couple of nail polishes I'd really like from Sephora, but living in the UK that's not likely to happen anytime soon.

GLUTTONY
What Are Your Most Delicious Beauty Products?
Most of my lip products smell good enough to eat, and I have to physically restrain myself from licking and biting at my lips like a woman possessed after application! Some of my body lotions and bath bubbles honestly smell d i v i n e too, and I thoroughly enjoy enveloping myself in their comforting deliciousness!

SLOTH
What Beauty Product Do You Neglect Due To Laziness?
The honest answer is probably make up remover. I've got really slack at removing my make up each night, and if/when I do, it's generally only using the No7 4in1 face wipes! Fortunately, my Liz Earle morning routine more than compensates for any night time laziness! I also just can not be bothered faffing around applying face or eyelid primers, it's an extra step that I quite frankly don't have the time or inclination for.

PRIDE
What Beauty Product Gives You Most Confidence?
Mascara, most definitely. With concealer as a definite close second these days. I honestly FEEL better when I'm wearing mascara, it's not just a physical thing, it's as if it wakes me up psychologically too! Also, now that my skin is clearer and more even in tone, I'd have to attribute my Liz Earle products to my confidence.

LUST
What Attributes Do You Find Most Attractive In The Opposite Sex?
Personality, 100%. Yes, you need to have some degree of physical attraction, but honestly, for me, a guy could be as hot as the sun but if he's no personality or character, I'm so not interested! Luckily I've a gorgeous hunk of a man so I don't need to worry about this stuff anymore...although, Ed {Westwick}, if you're in the area, call me ;)

ENVY
What Item Would You Most Like To Receive As A Gift?
Beauty wise, Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb perfume, it's so darned expensive but I've wanted it for so long now, I'm not sure how much longer I can last! Non beauty related, a house please!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

A Review: Nanoblur

 Nanoblur
Look up to 10 years younger in 40 seconds

 What Do I Think?
I'll begin this review by saying that I would imagine I'm not exactly the target market Nanonblur have in mind, being in my {mid} twenties. Having said that, I am aware of my skin beginning to show it's first signs of ageing, and am keen to take preventative measures when possible. There was much hype surrounding Nanoblur - I believe it sold out in minutes - at it's release in Boots in October 2011, after all, a product that claims to make you look 10 years younger in just 40 seconds, well, that's something. Although, do I really want to look as if I'm in my {mid} teens again...I digress. I suppose the crux of this review is, does it work? The answer, in a not so simple way, is yes...but, there is always a but! As the name would suggest, to me at least, this product can only give the impression of younger looking skin, by blurring the lines and wrinkles on your face, creating the illusion of smoother, and therefore more youthful, looking skin. As the nano part suggests, it does this pretty quickly. My issues lie with the way it makes my skin feel, rather than how it looks. If I love a product enough, then I am prepared to forgo the less-than-perfect aspects of it, but I'm still on the fence with Nanoblur, I have to admit.

 

As you can see, the product itself is a completely unassuming gel like consistency, white with a vaguely herbal, medicinal scent. It sinks into the skin instantly, but leaves a slightly furry feeling residue on some parts of my skin, although on other parts it just feels very smooth, and slightly tight. It is very mattifying, which adds to it's smoothing effects, creating that illusion of younger, firmer skin. When I initially began trying this, I didn't use foundation, but from other reviews I've read, there are only specific types that will work well in conjunction with Nanoblur, others I'm afraid, will leave a clumpy, patchy mess {this is designed to be applied under powder, or over liquid foundation). If I apply even slightly too much, my concealer clumps and visibly sits in my fine lines, creating the exact opposite of what I'm attempting to achieve. Therefore, I've decided to give this a miss for the moment, especially now I'm enjoying wearing foundation that gives a flawless finish. I shall wait until I'm looking even more old and haggard, and try again.

Where Is It Available?
Nanoblur is available to buy instore and online from Boots in the UK. Check their website for more stockist and product information.

How Much Does It Cost?
A 30ml tube retails for £19.99.

Would I Recommend It?
Based on my current usage {none}, and my initial, inconclusive thoughts, I don't feel able to make a satisfactory recommendation. What I will suggest however, is that if you wish to try it out for yourself, by all means do, and please let me know how you get on.

Star Rating:
Unrated

Disclaimer: Product was provided as part of a Twitter giveaway I won, hosted by the Nanoblur PR company. I am not affiliated in any way with Nanoblur. Some links may be affiliate links.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Recipe: Rich Vanilla Cupcakes

I think I've blogged a recipe for vanilla cupcakes before, but who cares, there's never, ever such a thing as too much cake! Whilst Jamie napped this morning, my Mum and I whipped up a batch, along with some rather failed, burnt oat and raisin biscuits...but the less said about those the better!


You'll need:
175g self raising flour
pinch of salt
125g unsalted butter, softened
175g caster sugar
2 large eggs, at room temp
1/2tsp vanilla extract
3tbsp semi skimmed milk, at room temp
Method:
Preheat the oven to 180. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Put the butter into another mixing bowl and beat until pale with a wooden spoon or electric mixer. Gradually beat in the sugar, then beat until light and fluffy. Beat the vanilla and eggs together, then add to the creamed eggs and sugar. Gradually add in the flour and milk, alternately. Beat everything a little bit more until really well combined. Spoon the mixture into muffin cases (should make approx. 12), and pop in the oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch. Once baked remove from the oven and put onto a wire rack to cool. Once cool you can decorate these however you wish, we opted for buttercream icing, PLENTY of sprinkles and some chocolate buttons. Eat and enjoy :)




  P.S. Are you hungry yet?!

Disclaimer: Original credit for this recipe goes to the 'The Great British Bake Off How to Bake' book, I just adapted the method slightly!

Friday, 20 January 2012

A Review: Herbalife Radiant C Daily Skin Booster

Herbalife Radiant C Daily Skin Booster
Gel-cream

What Do I Think?
I've blogged about Herbalife products once before {back in 2010!}, and was pleasantly surprised by a brand that was previously an unknown to me. One of their more recent skincare offerings comes from the Radiant C line, designed to make "your skin feel alive by giving it the burst of energy it needs". The Daily Skin Booster is a gel-cream formula, to be used as a serum under make up, and is designed to "improve the skins texture and helps to brighten dull, tired-looking skin". Upon initial application, my first impressions were mostly positive; the product is easily dispensed from the tube, had a nice delicate fragrance and a velvet like texture when applied to the face. It absorbed instantly into my skin and my make up applied just as nicely after use. However, I'm disappointed to report that this really had no longer term effect on my skin whatsoever, and I really had high hopes following on from my first thoughts. I didn't notice any trace of a brightening effect, and my skins texture was only temporarily improved, directly after application. There was no real longevity to the smoother texture, and no visible effects to my skin after well over a month of continuous, daily use. On the plus side, it didn't irritate my skin at all, and it made no difference, positive or negative, to the staying power of my make up, or the oiliness of my skin. 

Where Is It Available?
Visit the Herbalife website for product and purchasing information. 

How Much Does It Cost?
A 30ml tube retails for £24.20.

Would I Recommend It?
I personally think this product is a lot of money for something that, for me, delivered no obvious or visible results. In theory it's a great product, and it definitely excited me when trying it out, but it simply did not deliver. Perhaps my skin was not the right candidate for this product, if you have tried it {or any other Herbalife products}, please do let me know how you got on. 

Star Rating:
 1/5

Disclaimer: This product was provided for review consideration purpose. I am not affiliated with Herbalife in any way. As ever, all words and opinions are 100% my own unless otherwise stated. Some links may be affiliate links.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Recipe: Leek and Parmesan Risotto

Although time consuming and fairly labour intensive, risottos are one of my absolute favourite meals, both to eat and to cook. I wouldn't necessarily recommend making a risotto if you've just got home and are starving hungry, but if you've a little more time to spend, and enjoy seeing a meal come together before your very eyes, they are a great, filling and tasty thing to cook.

You will need:
25g butter
1tbsp olive oil
4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 leeks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves {or a generous tsp of lazy garlic}
150g arborio rice
1 glass white wine {+ 1 for you to drink!}
750ml chicken or vegetable stock {I used half of each}
25g grated parmesan

Method:
Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat, and add in half of the butter and the olive oil. 

Once the butter has melted, add in the spring onions, garlic and leeks, and cook until softened {approx. 5mins}. 

Pour in your rice, and stir well to ensure a good coating. 

 
Pour in the glass of wine {not the one in your other hand, that's for you to drink!}, and bubble until the liquid has reduced. 


As with all good risottos, the key is to add your stock slowly but surely, adding a little each time, stirring occasionally, until absorbed, then repeat until all of the stock has been added, and the rice is tender. 

Forget to take a photo, stir in the remaining butter and the parmesan cheese, then serve.

Disclaimer: Credit to this recipe goes to BBC Good Food.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Lust list #1

I don't know about you, but I only ever get a new perfume for birthdays or Christmas, it's always a luxurious treat that I can never justify purchasing for myself. I've smelt a lot of wonderful scents on other people recently, and it's got me to lusting over some of most coveted scents all over again. Being a penniless shopaholic, I'm nearly always lusting after something, whether that be fragrances, clothes, beauty products or items for my home, so I'm going to feature Lust Lists every now and then, just to get it out of my system!

Without further ado, here's my Lust List #1

Armani Code Pour Femme
{available here}


 Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb
{available here}

Paco Rabanne Black XS
{available here}

 Yves Saint Laurent Cinema
{available here}

 Dior Hypnotic Poison
{available here}


I really don't have a 'signature scent', as much as I wish I did. I tend to go for more musky, woody or spicy scents, but as you can see from my Lust List I've got no real preference - if I like it, I wear it! Now I'm thinking this list was a bad idea...I want them all!

Whilst I was browsing the world wide web for scentspiration, I stumbled across this eBay listing, for a can of Lynx for Girls! What do we reckon, genuine or fake?! It's certainly got some interest on eBay already, with a fair amount of bids and it's ending soon! I can't quite make up my mind, surely we would have heard about this if it were real, after all Lynx is a pretty big powerhouse brand?!

What perfumes are you currently lusting after? What is your favourite scent? What do you think about Lynx for Girls?!

Disclaimer: Some links may be affiliate links. I am not affiliated with the websites or perfumes mentioned, these are just what I chose.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Funny how things turn out...

I am a thinker. A daydreamer. A {wannabe} philosopher. I'm more than probably an awful procrastinator. Thoughts pop into my mind at the oddest of times, and I simply have to write them down, before they drift off into the black hole that is my memory. Like now. Tonight, I was finally getting around to ordering the photos I need in order to finish Jamie's baby journal, and pouring over the newborn photos of my precious son, delivered an onslaught of nostalgia. It got me to thinking, it's funny how things turn out, isn't it?

For example...

...I never even considered that I would give birth to my firstborn via a {emergency} Cesarean section. It wasn't that I was anti c-sections at all, quite the opposite in fact {whatever needs to be done to get the baby out, happens}, I just simply, and naively, had not given a huge amount of consideration to the possibility that I could need one. As it turns out, I did, and you know what, I don't regret it for one second {click here to read my birth story}. The thought of having a second child has {obviously} crossed my mind, and if necessary, I would be more than happy to have another c-section {and no, not because it's 'easier' for anyone thinking that, I can tell you, it is not bloody easier, the recovery is long, hard and painful for one thing...but if deemed medically necessary, I'd have one}. Funny how things turn out.

 First family photograph post c-section 

...I swore I would never use the word 'naughty' when disciplining Jamie, unless his behaviour absolutely 100% warranted it. However, in the heat of the moment, despite rigorously attempting to train my brain not to say the one thing that is naturally on the tip of my tongue, I've said it. I felt awful. I have nothing against parents that chose to use this word, if there is one thing I endeavour to be as a Mother it is non-judgemental of what other parents chose to do, I simply wanted to try and use alternative words in it's place. You see, I don't believe a child, especially one so young as Jamie, is capable of being 'naughty', I don't ever want my boy to think he is 'naughty'. His behaviour may have been what could typically be defined as 'naughty', but he is not. I'm only {less than} 18 months in, so I hope that I can continue to work on myself and my disciplining methods, and lessen myself of the guilt I've let myself feel for doing something I said I wouldn't. Funny how things turn out.

"Oops, I've been busted raiding Mummy & Daddy's sweetie box *cue 'butter wouldn't melt' face*"

...Whilst I'm on the subject of things I said I wouldn't do, I suppose I should mention TV. I can't abide seeing children with their faces pressed against the television screen, toys and books lying neglected on the floor around them. However, that image is one that has played out in my house on numerous occasions, although I hasten to point out there is no case of neglect here, simply 'mummy needs'. As in, "Jamie darling, Mummy needs a wee, right now, so CBeebies is going to babysit you for a minute, OK?!". Thankfully, 9 times out of 10, Jamie would much rather read a book or play with one of his favourite cars than watch the TV, but my goodness it has been an absolute lifesaver at times. When a poorly baby greets me at an ungodly hour of the morning, sometimes the only thing that can fix it is a dose of Calpol, Mummy cuddles and Peppa Pig, "oink oink". Besides, if our kids don't watch TV, how else will our homes get filled up with the associated memorabilia?!* Funny how things turn out.

 
He's gotta lotta love for Peppa Pig!  

...I'm ashamed to say it, but at times {depending on who I'm with/how relaxed I am}, I have a tendency to adopt a rather potty mouth {totally unrelated to potty training, just FYI!}. I know, I know, I'm old enough and ugly enough to know better, but these things happen, no one is perfect. However, one thing I swore blind {unavoidable pun intended} that I would never do, was swear in the presence of my child. Or any child for that matter. I have. It made me feel like a terrible Mother, and a terrible person. Change can't happen overnight though, and I am working very, very hard on this one...I suppose daily interaction with a very little person doesn't necessitate the need for swearing, it's just the adult presence that sways me. Funny how things turn out. 

Funnily enough, I couldn't find a suitable picture in my archives to document swearing...! 

...I was absolutely adamant that I wouldn't feed my child a diet based on sugar and salt. And I don't. But, I do give him sugar...and salt. In moderation. If he's eaten up all of his lunch or dinner {or is at Nanny's house!}, as a treat he might be allowed some chocolate or some Hula Hoops. To state the obvious, this treat will follow a healthy and nutritious meal, with fruit/vegetables. Because kids, that's what it's all about, being sensible and eating in moderation, whether you are big or small {Soo from Sooty & Sweep taught me that - if you would like to be educated too, click for Part 1 and Part 2. See, I watched TV, and it didn't do me any harm!}.** Funny how things turn out.

"Mmm, chocolate birthday cake!"

You know what I think? Parenting is hard enough, and there are plenty of people out there ready to make us feel guilty at every turn. So what if you've broken a few of your own rules?! As long as your child is happy, loved and healthy, then just roll with it. It doesn't matter how somebody else parents, as long as you are happy with how you parent. Now, I'm off to bed, because I promised myself that, as a Mother, I would always make sure I got my 8 hours sleep a night. Funny how things turn out.

* For what it's worth, and I hope this doesn't lose me any yummy mummy points, I actually have a soft spot for Peppa Pig. But, ssh, don't let anyone know I told you that. Or else I'll put you on the naughty step. Oh bollocks.
** I wholeheartedly apologise for breaking every rule in the book with this paragraph. As well as always eating in moderation, you should never start a sentence with the words 'and', 'but' or 'beacause'. But I can. Because I'm a Mother. And I said so.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

This weekend I have...

...attended the most perfectly beautiful wedding, and witnessed the marriage of two of my very favourite people, Franky and Carl, both utterly head over heels in love.



...admired the stunning bride and THAT incredible wedding dress and coat.

...been in the overwhelming presence of true, true love.


...fallen in love with the bride and groom all over again.

...admired the super cool venue, and just how well it complimented both the day and the newlyweds. It was breathtakingly beautiful weather too, crisp and frosty but with the sun shining down.


...lusted over THE Choo's!

...marvelled at what astonishingly good wedding planning skills the bride has, the attention to detail was just amazing, and portrayed the newlyweds {and their guests} perfectly.




...dabbed tears from my eyes during the hilarious but emotional, bride, groom and best man speeches.  

...been blown away by the incredible photographer, Eliza Claire. I struggled to capture the true essence and beauty of the day, but I just know Eliza's photos will seriously wow you all.

...blushed when receiving complements on my pink dress.


...thoroughly enjoyed the retro Photobooth and Popcorn that arrived after the ceremony and wedding breakfast.
...shared an emotional moment or two with the bride.

...eaten like royalty, and indulged in some utterly delicious cake.


...slipped off my heels to join the bride in some riotous dancing toward the end of the evening.

...felt truly honoured not only to know and love two very special people, but to have shared in their wonderful wedding day.

...hugged the bride tightly goodbye before she and her husband bid their guests farewell and left hand in hand, with huge grins of pure elation on their faces.

...fallen into bed and reflected on what was an utterly fabulous, beautiful, and perfect day.

...realised that watching one of your best friends get married is simply one of the best feelings in the world. Seeing the new Mr & Mrs catching glimpses of each other brought a tear to my eye, it was such a great privilege to witness those moments.

Let's raise our glasses in a toast:
Franky & Carl
14.01.12

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Recipe: Philly Leek & Bacon Pie

Philly Leek & Bacon Pie
Serves 4

You need:
700g potatoes, peeled and chopped
olive oil {a good glug}
2 large leeks, trimmed and chopped {I used 4 thin ones}
5 thick rashers back bacon, roughly chopped
200g Philadelphia Light with Chives
10g breadcrumbs mixed with 1tsp dried mixed herbs {you could use fresh herbs, and you'll probably want more than 10g of breadcrumbs too!}
75ml semi skimmed milk
 
Method:
Boil the potatoes until soft and ready for mashing.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large {preferably non-stick} frying pan. Add the bacon pieces and leeks. Cook gently until the leeks are soft but not browned.
Drain the potatoes and mash them with half the Philly {you could also add milk/butter if you really wanted to}.
Add the remaining Philly and the milk to the leeks and bacon*. Heat, stirring until the Philly has melted and made a nice creamy sauce.
Spoon the mixture into a pre-warmed ovenproof dish and top with the mash. Top with the herb breadcrumbs and place under a hot grill until golden.   

TOP TIP: 
Whenever I'm making breadcrumbs {in my food processor}, I always do more than I need, then stick them into a sandwich bag and pop into the freezer. Then the next time you need breadcrumbs, you've saved yourself some time :)

*I personally will add a little more milk and Philly next time I make this, it was a touch too dry for mine and Colin's liking. Of course, the real test will be to see if Jamie approves ;)
Disclaimer: Credit for this recipe goes to the Philadelphia iPhone app/website.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

A Review: VO5 Beyond Blonde

VO5 Beyond Blonde
Shampoo and conditioner
 
What Do I Think?
I can honestly say, I think this is the first time in my 25 years that I've ever used VO5 shampoo and conditioner. I'm not sure if they have re-branded all of their products, but the bottles photographed above are certainly new{ish} on the market, and are much more quirky and stylish than their previous counterparts. Emblazoned upon the front of each bottle in the new VO5 line is the phrase "adaptive haircare technology", that supposedly "adjusts to you, giving the right level of nourishment for your hair", although whether that is true or not I couldn't possibly say, I don't know how it would change for someone else's hair?! However, what immediately struck me upon reading the bottle was the inclusion of an enriching "essential 5 oil blend", including avocado oil, argan oil, apricot oil, grape seed oil and jojoba oil, alongside the extracts of honey and chamomile also found in this particular shampoo and conditioner duo. It sounded like exactly what my hair needed, and the Beyond Blonde range also claims to "remove dull, brassy tones", "brighten and refresh" as well as "nourish, strengthen and add luminous shine" - phew! Certainly, packaging blurbs aside, my hair feels really clean, well moisturised and nourished as a result of using these, and I was impressed with how effectively both performed - the shampoo lathers really well (that'll be the SLS though!) with only a small amount, and the conditioner is surprisingly nourishing despite its dubiously thin consistency. Regardless of it's desperate need for a colour refresh, I do think these products have helped my hair to retain what's left of the brighter blonde, and the brassy tones certainly haven't got any worse.
 
Where Are They Available?
I know that these are available in Tesco, and I believe also in Superdrug and Boots, but I am struggling to find accurate stockist info online.
 
How Much Do They Cost?
These are currently retailing at £3.48 for 500ml in Tesco {which is where I initially purchased mine, via a half price offer I believe}.
 
Would I Recommend It?
Yes, I'm thoroughly enjoying using these products, and the effects they are having on my hair. It's left soft, shiny and manageable, whilst smelling great too - and you all know how much I like my hair to smell nice!
 
Star Rating:
4.5/5
 
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with VO5 in any way. All words and opinions are 100% my own. Some links may be affiliate links.

Monday, 9 January 2012

A Review: Soap & Glory 'iFoam'

 Soap & Glory 'iFoam'
Ultra creamy body wash

What Do I Think?
According to Soap & Glory, you'd be wrong if you think iFoam is 'just another shower gel', essentially this product is double action; a shower gel and moisturiser in one, for the lazier ladies, or as I prefer to call it, time pressed, amongst us. On paper, what's not to love?! I'm full of good intentions to moisturise daily, but its usually easier said than done in practice, especially with a toddler who unknowingly interrupts most of my morning routine. A shower gel with "built in lather layers" that "release moisture molecules when massaged" sounds like the perfect antidote. However, I just can't love this product, as much as I wanted to. Although undeniably creamy and foamy, it leaves my skin feeling tight and itchy, albeit slightly softer, and I'm not massive on the scent either - grapeseed oil and orange oil. However, I do LOVE the name {Colin thought it was brilliant!} and the easy to use, retro packaging, so it's not all bad!

Where Is It Available?
Soap & Glory products are available to buy instore and online from Boots and Harvey Nichols in the UK.

How Much Does It Cost?
Whilst writing this review, and in my search for cost information, I have realised that this product must have been discontinued. There is no listing for it on the Soap & Glory website, but I did find from other online reviews that 200ml retailed for £4.50.

Would I Recommend It?
Personally this is not for me, however if it sounds like your idea of heaven in a bottle then it could be have been perfect for you! I'll use my bottle up, but even if I could, I wouldn't be repurchasing this one.

Star Rating:
1/5

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Soap & Glory in any way. As ever, all words and opinions are 100% my own unless otherwise stated. Some links may be affiliate links.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Spotlight On: Liz Earle 'Cleanse & Polish'

Liz Earle 'Cleanse & Polish'
Hot cloth cleanser

Liz Earle, an iconic skincare {and beauty} brand that I doubt many of my readers will have escaped hearing about. I myself have previously blogged about a handful of the infamous skincare products, albeit a little inconclusively at the time. I was right about one thing in my previous review, I would be back, and here I am, giving Liz Earle a whirl, #2!

My skincare routine, whilst practical and cheap, was leaving me wanting more, knowing that my skin was not at it's optimum, and I knew that there was really only one brand I wanted to turn to. Liz Earle. You see, when something is good, it just works. It might not necessarily proclaim it's success loudly from the rooftops each day, but as I've said before, the minute you stop using it, you realise just how darn good it was. Ever since I branched out into other skincare products and routines, I've known, deep down, that Liz Earle was 'the one' with the best long, and short, term results. I suppose the saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" is quite apt in this situation. I now know that, until the next time I wonder "what if...", these are the skincare products that I will be using, no matter how much the cost may wound me*.

Anyway, enough dithering around, let's get on with it shall we?! For those of you whom have been living under a rock, Liz Earle is an amazing skincare company, who focus on 'naturally active skincare', using only the very best, and where possible, all natural ingredients. Liz Earle also happen to have the best customer service that I have ever experienced, be that ordering online, or when communicating with their help or PR teams. Every single person behind Liz Earle, from what I've seen, cares not only about the brand, the products and the ethos, but about their customers. The service is quite simply, sublime. 

The product that I think is now pretty synonymous with the words 'Liz Earle' is Cleanse & Polish, a hot cloth cleanser that {with the aid of a muslin cloth} gently removes every single trace of make up, leaving your skin looking and feeling perfectly clean. I'm always amazed when something works so effectively, I suppose the cynic in my is always expecting there to be a catch, a glitch somewhere perhaps, but with Cleanse & Polish, I've yet to find one! It contains soothing ingredients such as rosemary, chamomile, cocoa butter and eucalyptus essential oil, which do give it a slightly herby, almost medicinal scent, but one that is also very pleasant and comforting.

I will admit, I am no angel, I don't always use Cleanse & Polish at night to remove my make up {despite knowing I should}, usually I use face-wipes, and sometimes, *shock horror* I just can not be bothered. However, without fail, I have been using this every single morning {in the shower, but as directed on the bottle}, not only to remove whatever the face-wipes {or I} left behind, and even that commitment has been enough to make a noticeable difference to my skin. To me, it just looks healthier, more radiant almost, even on my really haggard days, and I'm more confident about my skin without make up. The gentle exfoliation that the muslin cloth provides is perfect for every day, and necessitates the need for any harsh abrasives. 

To me, it's a no brainer, Liz Earle, particularly the Cleanse & Polish, is WELL worth the hype.   

Disclaimer: This particular product was provided in consideration for review purposes. I am not affiliated in any way with Liz Earle. All words and opinions, unless otherwise stated, are 100% my own. Some links may be affiliate links. As stated in the review, I already owned several Liz Earle products prior to receiving this.
* I would like to reassure you that no children or partners will go unfed or unclothed in the quest for perfect skin, but perhaps a certain blogger will. Oh, what sacrifices we make!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

A Review: Soap & Glory 'Sugar Crush'

Soap & Glory Sugar Crush
Body Scrub

What Do I Think?
Two Soap & Glory scrub posts in one week, well golly gosh! As a lover of exfoliators, there was no way this scrub from Soap & Glory was going to pass me by. Sugar Crush contains brown sugar {obviously}, sweet lime, almond oil and macadamia grains, which goes some way to explaining why it just smells SO darn good. As you would expect from a sugar scrub, this is wonderfully scrubby and grainy, and it really feels as though its {gently} sloughing off each and every dead skin cell from your body. My skin honestly feels divine after I've used this, and really moisturised too, thanks to the {non greasy} almond oil residue. This is a great scrub to use on those bleary eyed mornings where you just can not wake up, the zesty zing of the lime adds a refreshing, but not overpowering, extra dimension to the otherwise sweet and musky scent. Although one of my pet peeves with really grainy scrubs like this is having to delve your fingers into the deep tubs, ending up with gunk under your nails, I have to admit, in complete contradiction, I love the fact that this tub is so large! It would be easy to go OTT and use too much of this in one go, but if you can manage to restrain yourself and use sparingly, a little actually goes a surprisingly long way. I'm really quite in love with this product, and would happily use it every single day, if only I could afford such luxuries! Instead, I shall save it for the specialist of special occasions.

Where Is It Available?
Soap & Glory products are available to buy, instore and online, from Boots and Harvey Nichols in the UK.

How Much Does It Cost?
A 300ml tub retails for £8.00 {FYI: I think the lid is now pink rather than blue}.

Would I Recommend It?
Oh yes, yes, yes! This scrub is simply brilliant, it smells incredible and is just such an indulgent pleasure for the perfect pamper session. Go on, try it, you won't regret it!

Star Rating:
5/5

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated in any way with Soap & Glory. All words and opinions, unless otherwise stated, are 100% my own. Some links may be affiliate links.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

A Review: John Frieda Full Repair range *EXCLUSIVE*

John Frieda Full Repair
 Full Body Shampoo & Conditioner; Perfect Ends Deep Infusion; Protecting Root Lift Foam

What Do I Think?
This new hair care range from John Frieda is completely hot off the press, meaning I had no preconceptions or prior knowledge of the products. According to the bottles, the Full Repair range "revives overstyled hair", and "weightlessly repairs" "for damage from heat and colour", with "Inca Inchi Oil rich in omega-3" {these products are, obviously, safe for colour and chemically treated hair}. A quick word on this Inca Inchi Oil {only explained on the Perfect Ends packaging} - grown in the Amazon rainforest, the Sachi Inchi plant holds {apparently} the secret for eternal beauty, and being rich in restorative omega-3, is a non greasy oil that infuses the Full Repair range. The Full Body shampoo and conditioner claim to detangle strands, helping to reduce the risk of snagging when you brush {I only ever use a wide tooth detangling comb on my wet hair}. The shampoo lathers up really well, with only a small amount needing to be used {thumbs up for being more economical}, although I've found that it doesn't detangle quite as much as the bottle states. I do have fairly long hair, that is very prone to tangling, so if we're going to get technical, in comparison to some other products, this is probably a 5/10 in tangling terms! The conditioner is a slightly thinner consistency than I expected for a 'repairing' product, and slightly more gel like than cream in formulation. I only condition the mid-end lengths and tips of my hair, but I don't need to use too much product in order to get a thorough coating. It rinses out well and leaves my hair feeling nourished, but not entirely weightless. Both of these products smell really pleasant, clean and fresh, something I've grown accustomed to with John Frieda products. Another product in the range is the Full Repair Perfect Ends Deep Infusion, that helps to revive over styled, damaged hair whilst also protecting it from further damage, designed to be applied to clean, wet hair. I put approx. 1 pump onto my fingers {it's like a very runny serum/oil in consistency} and concentrate it on my dry, brittle, 'crying out for TLC' ends. As it says on the bottle, this actually is weightless but still adds shine and nourishment where it's needed - a welcome discovery, believe me I very rarely put any products in my hair. As you can see from the above photograph, there is a fourth product in the range, the Protecting Root Lift Foam {a mousse}. I tried this twice, it was shockingly awful both times, therefore I won't be using or mentioning this again! Now, although I've talked about the products at length, and am confident to say that my overall impression is a positive one, I feel it's important to mention the state of my hair - its VERY overdue a cut, colour refresh and TLC - think dry, brittle ends, frizz, dreaded brassy tones - all in all, it's unhealthy. This is down to a combination of abuse from colour {vicious circle}, heat styling and lack of funds to warrant frequent cuts. I fear I might need quite a bit lopped off to repair it, BUT using products such as these WILL help and I HAVE noticed a difference, however my levels of repair are unobtainable from products alone. It's also worth mentioning though, that despite the lacklustre condition of my hair, it's still very soft and relatively shiny, which I suppose is testament indeed to the strength of these products. 

Where Will It Be Available?
 At the time of writing, this range is not yet available in the UK {but I believe it is in the US}. I imagine the usual John Frieda stockist information will apply when the range is fully released here.

How Much Will It Cost?
As above, I've no information as of yet. If I remember, once prices are released I'll update this post for future reference.

Would I Recommend It?
Yes, if your hair, like mine, is crying out for a much needed helping hand, this could be the perfect John Frieda range for you. I don't love it as much as the Sheer Blonde range, or perhaps even as much as my VO5 Beyond Blonde, but that's not to say I don't like it. I'll definitely continue to use these products and will definitely repurchase (when on offer!). The Perfect Ends Deep Infusion is a fantastic extra nourishing product that gives your hair a boost too. A word of caution again though with the mousse - don't waste your money here!

Star Rating:
4/5 

Disclaimer: I received the entire range from Cosmopolitan {UK} magazine. I was amongst those picked from their group of VIP testers. I have not been asked to write this review. My thoughts on the products have been documented via a questionnaire. I am not affiliated with John Frieda, and as ever, all views and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

A Review: Soap & Glory 'The Breakfast Scrub'

Soap & Glory 'The Breakfast Scrub'
Oat, shea butter and sugar body smoother

What Do I Think?
I received this tub of heavenly smelling Soap & Glory loveliness for Christmas {from my brother-in-law-who-is-not-yet-officially-my-brother-in-law, kudos to him}, and have had to almost physically restrain myself from trying to eat it every time I unscrew the lid. I'm not kidding people, this smells incredible! It's key ingredients include sugar, oats, shea butter, honey, bananas, almond and capuacu bio scrubs {whatever they are!}, plus a brand new maple fragrance *licks lips*, what's not to like?! Aside from smelling great, and definitely enough to have you hungering for breakfast before you've even stepped foot outside your shower of a morning, this scrub is packed full of scrubby goodness, that really buffs your skin effectively, whilst still being gentle. There is only one slight negative to this, and I really am clutching at straws, but I've found that as I'm rubbing the scrub onto my skin, the yummy smell disperses a little, leaving behind a slightly burnt aroma - not my skin you understand, but as if something was formulated quite right? It doesn't bother me particularly, because it doesn't seem to linger on the skin, and it certainly does not detract from the scrubbing powers. This scrub really leaves my skin feeling noticeably softer, looking healthier and the results are surprisingly long lasting too. You will notice I've only scored this 4/5 below, my reasons being the price *ouch* and the aforementioned slightly odd scent upon application {I'm hoping mine was just a bad batch}. This was a fantastic gift though, very 'me', and I am going to ration it like a crazy lady so as to make it last forever...!

Where Is It Available?
Soap & Glory products are available to buy, instore and online, from Boots and Harvey Nichols in the UK.

How Much Does It Cost?
A 300ml tub retails for £9.45 - pricey indeed.

Would I Recommend It?
Yes! If you don't mind parting with the best part of a tenner for a super duper scrubby dubby experience, and if you adore Soap & Glory, then this will most definitely be the highlight of your breakfast!

Star Rating:
4/5

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated in any way with Soap & Glory. All words and opinions, unless otherwise stated, are 100% my own. Some links may be affiliate links.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Recipe: Thai Green Chicken Curry {with coconut rice}

I'm a big fan of Thai curries, red or green, I find the flavours fragrant and delicious but the spice a little more subtle, whilst still retaining a healthy amount of kick. Thai green curry is fast becoming one of my favourite dishes to make, it's pretty foolproof if you *ahem* cheat by using a jar of pre-made curry paste too! 
 
 Thai Green Chicken Curry
Serves 2

You will need:
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast fillets, cut into 2cm chunks
200ml coconut milk {1/2 a can}
1 small aubergine {or in my case, chuck the mouldy one away and sling in some frozen green beans instead}
1 small onion, finely diced
3tbsp Thai green curry paste
120g long grain rice {I used some with wild rice in too}
1 garlic clove {or 1tsp lazy garlic}
1tbsp vegetable oil
200ml vegetable stock {I actually only used 100ml in the end}

Method:
Dice your onion, garlic and chicken {and any fresh veg you might decide to use}, weigh out your rice, pour out 200ml of the coconut milk and prepare your vegetable stock {I use the Oxo reduced salt version so that Jamie can eat the same meals as us - although he didn't even attempt this one}. Heat the oil in a large {preferably non-stick} frying pan, then cook the onion and garlic until soft {approx 2mins}. Add in your curry paste, mix well and fry for approx. 2mins - it will spit like a b*tch, so pull your sleeves down! Add in your chicken and chosen veg, stir well to coat with the curry paste and cook for approx. 5/6mins or until the chicken has browned. Stir in the coconut milk and stock {as aforementioned I only used 100ml, I didn't want it too runny}, then simmer for approx. 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once you've done this, stick your rice on to cook too. After 15mins or so the sauce should have thickened slightly, and the chicken and veg should now be thoroughly cooked. 

 Coconut Rice
Serves 2

You will need:
120g long grain rice
200ml coconut milk

Method:
Cook your rice as normal {I weigh it out in the saucepan, add COLD water, bring it to the boil with the lid on, then reduce the heat right down to simmer with the lid slightly off until the water has gone - this method should leave you with perfectly cooked rice. I only ever stir my rice with a fork too, a tip I picked up from Jamie Oliver, pukka}. Pop your coconut milk into a {preferably non-stick} small saucepan, and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and stir constantly until the milk has reduced down to about half the amount. Drain the rice when cooked if necessary, then pour the coconut milk over and mix well. Serve with your Thai green chicken curry, and enjoy an indulgent but delicious meal!
Sorry for the awful iPhone pic!

 I wouldn't normally make this rice when serving with such a creamy and indulgent sauce, however the recipe only called for half a can of coconut milk, and I hadn't meal planned for another meal that I could use it up with, oops! It was very filling, but also very yummy...perhaps not the best start to the 'I need to lose a few lbs to fit into a tight dress in 2 weeks' healthy diet. Hmm...OH WELL!

Oh, and just because I can, here's a quick photo of my littlest man cleaning up after his dinner this evening *too cute*:


Disclaimer: I adapted this recipe from the original HERE. I adore this website, it's a very much used recipe source for me when planning cheap but tasty family meals.