Saturday, 7 December 2013

Life Update|A Londoner on loan to Sydney

As you can probably tell from a) the title of this post and b) my recent Instagram snaps, I recently bid the beautiful London a very tearful and emotional goodbye. The decision to leave was not an easy one but with a rather handsome and wonderful Aussie boyfriend, the move was inevitable and one that I knew I would never regret.

It has been 5 weeks since we arrived now and after a shaky month of wondering if we would ever find a nice apartment, stressing about finding a job and, perhaps most difficult, attempting to survive on picking up free Wi-Fi (hence the radio silence here!), I think we are finally settled. It definitely hasn't been easy and we both miss the UK a ridiculous amount but, with the plan to stay here for a year before returning, I am excited for the coming months.

I can't wait to share with you all my adventures and, most importantly, my Aussie hauls and beauty finds. But for now, a round up of the last few weeks...

1 The absolutely beautiful Michael Kors purse that my wonderful colleagues bought me for a leaving present. They know me so well - I absolutely love it and it goes perfectly with my bag. 2 A mountain of goodies from a beautiful family friend. I packed these with me for the 24 hour flight and boy did my skin thank me for it. I landed in Sydney with skin that looked a lot better than I felt! 3 I had a few days at home after I finished work to spend time with my family and was surprised with these beautiful flowers from one of my incredible friends from the office. Cue another huge sobbing session! 4 If they hadn't been generous enough already, 2 of my team mates surprised me another present - An Australian survival guide. Mountains of chocolate, lots of Aussie paraphernalia and this beautiful palette. It has traveled the miles with me and it's now an everyday stable.

1 A final weekend with my oldest best friends from school was finished off with brunch at The Breakfast Club. It was truly delicious and a perfect way to say a short-term goodbye. 2 After an incredible leaving party with work, we made it to Duck and Waffle for breakfast at 5am. It was perhaps the funniest, saddest and most surreal meal I have ever had; not to mention delicious. If you're ever in London and get the late night munchies, this is the place for you. I'm already looking forward to a reunion night out followed by a trip here next year. 3 A perfect last Sunday spent with my family and dearest friends. My beautiful 9 year old niece is my favourite person in the entire world and when she started to cry when saying goodbye, it completely broke my heart. Lots of Skype sessions are getting me through until I can see her for cuddles again! 4 A photobooth snap from the aforementioned leaving party with the aforementioned Aussie paraphernalia. I think it sums up the night perfectly....

1 I made it! A day trip to Manly polished off with a little pot of heaven. 3 More delicious food - this time it was heaven on a plate courtesy of Pancakes On The Rocks - an absolute must if you are ever in Sydney! Thankfully I have a gym in my new building as otherwise I might return to the UK a few stone heavier than when I left.. 4 One of my favourite days here so far. A perfect morning of watching the boys surfing at a deserted beach. It truly cemented the 'Aussie dream feeling', even after a 6am wake up call.

So, what's next? A 25th birthday, a sweet new job (literally) and a run in with Russell Crowe. Watch this space....

Monday, 7 October 2013

LookFantastic Haul ft. Benefit, Redken and Korres

I received a little performance related bonus through work a few weeks ago and as part of this I had a few pounds to spend at one of my favourite beauty sites - LookFantastic.  Along the lines of FeelUnique et al, this hub stocks a huge array of beauty products - the classics and newly hyped - with most at a reduced price compared to the RRP.  There are literally hundreds of brands and thousands of products to swoon over but these were the ones that worked their way into my basket:

Redken Extreme Anti Snap - £12.64 (RRP £18.85)
I spoke about this product way back in 2010 in my Hair Routine post and although my love affair with extensions has faded, my feelings for Anti Snap remain as strong to this day. Used post-shower after I've combed through my wet hair, this gorgeous smelling treatment helps to keep my ends in tip top condition, whilst leaving no sticky residue. For a hot tool addict like me, this is truly a holy grail product and one I will repurchase time and time again.

Korres Jasmine Lip Butter - £6.40 (RRP £8)
I have to hold my hands up here - I already have far too many lip products and definitely didn't need this but I'm a girl and have heard lots of good things about this so resistance was futile.  I was lured in by the milky finish and moisture enhancing formula and so far, it's living up to its promises. 

DUO Lash Adhesive - £7.95 (RRP £10)
After watching numerous YouTube videos, I purchased a tube of this on a whim many moons ago. What can I say?  Once you use this glue, the tiny vials you get in eyelash packs will never be the same. This stuff is of industrial strength and will ensure your lashes last the whole night, even if you don't. Try it; you won't regret it.

I finally caved and spent £20 on a pair of tweezers. I haven't given them a whirl yet - Cara has inspired me to grow out my brows - but I am sure they will be as wonderful as everyone says they are. Fingers crossed.

Benefit Sun Beam - £19.50
Never one to get along with High Beam, I didn't think it's younger, sunkissed sister Sun Beam would work for me either. Oh, how wrong I was. This highlighter is a dream to apply, blends seamlessly and leaves the cheeks with a beautifully delicate, golden glow. Although a summer favourite to enhance bronzed features, it works just as well now my tan has faded and can tell this will be an all-year-round favourite.

Benefit They're Real - Deluxe Free Sample (Worth £9.50)
Although Benefit products aren't discounted on LF, currently when you buy any two products from the range you get a free sample of their cult mascara. I've wanted to try this for a while but I'm always a bit reluctant to splash out on new mascaras as I have a trusty MaxFactor favourite. Will this give me the eyelashes of my dreams?  I'll let you know...

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

A European Adventure| Part 2 - Nice & Monaco

After a few hours sleep in the world's comfiest bed, 5am rolled around far too quickly and once again we were on the road.  Baguettes and the most delicous pain au chocolat in hand, we boarded the 7am TGV bound for Nice.  The 6 hours passed quickly - with the help of a mountain of sweets and our iPads filled with rom-coms - and before we knew it, we arrived in Nice as the midday sun was beating down.  A quick change, a swift application of the all-important SPF and we were on the beach.

Mitch, the classic Aussie beach bum, was in heaven.

I have to admit, we were slightly disappointed with the beach.  It was nowhere near as pretty as we had hoped and walking along the promenade it felt like we could have been in Blackpool on a good day.  But the weather was incredible and after a nap in the afternoon sun, we freshened up and set out on a mission to find the best night life in town.  What we ended up finding was Wayne's and, if you're a backpacker in Nice, that's exactly what it is.  Hot, sweaty, and so much fun.  This place was packed to the rafters with people of all ages, from all walks on life, who just wanted a good time.  And as we stumbled out in the early hours, the walk home through the beautiful old town was a welcome change from the usual London sights...

The following morning we dragged our ourselves out of bed and onto the next train set for Monaco. 40 minutes later, we stepped out of the station and were immediately immersed in the billionaires' playground. With rows of yachts, each one larger than the other, it's incomprehensible how there can be so much money in such a small area.  Hands up who wants to chip in for one of these bad boys?!

We didn't hang around the port for too long and hot-footed it to where the real action is - Monte Carlo.

To reach the town, you have to walk along the edge of a main road before entering into a tunnel which runs underneath the Maritime Alps. You then enter a strange, eerie corridor before being met with a lift. We were sure we had taken a wrong turn somewhere until the lift opened and we were thrust into this:

It was a blur of fast cars, beautiful people and the most incredible views. It almost felt like we were walking around a movie set - like everything was real but completely ridiculous at the same time.  We had a little flutter in the casino, sat & watched how the other half live and then did the only logical thing - sought out the largest ice creams we could find from Café de Paris and set off back for Nice. Italy was waiting for us...

Monday, 30 September 2013

A European Adventure| Part 1 - Paris

Way back at the start of this year, Mitch and I decided this summer we would partake in a little European adventure.  With M being Australian and itching to see more of Europe, we bought 2 inter-rail tickets and set about devising a route.  With only a 2 week holiday window and an almost daunting list of possible destinations, we decided that Italy, via France, would be our focus - endless sunshine, miles of beautiful coastline and an unlimited amount of was the obvious choice.

I won't lie, the planning of the trip was quite time consuming.  We had to work out a few months in advance where we wanted to stop, how long we would spend in each place, what the transport links were like etcetc but this was all necessary if we were to secure accommodation in high season (mid August).  As such, we finalised our plan around the end of June and then all we had to do was count down the days.

Finally, August rolled around and we set off like two happy campers with our backpacks and travel pillows eager to reach our first destination...

The beautiful and magical Paris.

Unfortunately, our arrival was neither beautiful or magical.  We had chosen the day that the Parisian heavens decided to open and rain for the first day in six weeks.  Needless to say, we were not happy bunnies.  By the time we had navigated the way to our hotel, our backpacks were soaked through and our flip-flop clad feet (we had high hopes) were more than a little bit cold and wet.  However, after steaming mugs of hot chocolate, plates of syrup covered pancakes, a hot shower and a well deserved nap, the sun was (sort of) shining and we were ready for adventure.

With only 8 hours or so to explore the City of Love we had our work cut out for us - we tackled the metro system, avoided the pick-pockets and also managed to meet up with one of my oldest friends who is now a total Parisian glamour puss.  It was a grey but glorious day...

Arc de Triomphe

Jardin des Tuileries
The Louvre
Pont des Arts - Lovers' Bridge
Sacré-Cœur Basilica
The Eiffel Tower

Every night, when darkness has fallen over the city, the Eiffel Tower is set alight with hundred and thousand of twinkling white lights.  On the stroke of the hour, the usually bustling Trocadéro stills and every single person is mesmorised by the sight.  To say that this was my favourite part of the day, would be an understatement.  For 5 minutes, everything was calm, the sky had turned into the perfect pastel backdrop and I got a glimpse into the magic of Paris.

The only thing to top this day?  A giant nutella crepe and a huge fluffy bed.  And you can see how excited I was about that..... 

Friday, 22 March 2013

New In|NARS Phone Case

For the past few weeks I've been searching high and low for a new phone case.  As a girl who knows what she likes, I was starting to get frustrated as I couldn't find 'the one'.  Until one day last week when I scrawling through pages and pages of eBay listings, I came across this beauty...

It's pink.  
It's beauty related.  
It's in homage to one of my favourite brands.  

I bought it immediately.  

Well, it would’ve been rude not to…

Since ordering this around a week ago, I’ve noticed that I’m definitely not alone and the nail polish/phone cover trend is definitely become a blogger favourite.  Most of the cases I’ve seen are Chanel – a quick Etsy search brings up thousands – and I can feel one of these may be in my possession sooner rather than later…  A designer beauty injection for less than £20?  What’s not to love?!


Friday, 22 February 2013

Product Rave|Soap & Glory Sugar Crush

Soap and Glory.  Three little words that will always bring a smile to my face.  I’ve been a fan for years and I’m yet to find a product I don’t love.  So when my sister gifted me their Sugar Crush Body Wash , I knew instantly it would be a permanent addition to my collection. 
If their original Clean On Me shower gel is the subtle, pretty and sensible one, Sugar Crush is the loud, brash and vibrant younger sister.  With lime extracts and secret ingredients such as ‘COOLCAPSULE™X’ and ‘Kiwi Water Juice’, this shower gel pulls an intense punch and definitely wakes you up in the morning.  It foams, it lathers and best of all, it makes your bathroom smell like a sweet shop – definitely a winner!  And my original fears that it wouldn't be as moisturising as its predecessor were unfounded - my skin was left just as smooth and soft due to a large helping of veggie oils which, although hardly sound glamorous, absolutely do the job.
It’s safe to say, Soap & Glory definitely didn’t disappoint again and at a cool £6.50 for 100ml, it’s a love affair that is sure to continue!   Sugar Crush, welcome to the family…
What are your favourite Soap & Glory products?  Could you start a shop with your collection like me? xxx

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Battle Of The Cleansing Gels|Clarins vs No7

For a number of years now, my – extremely glamorous – Mother has been a fan of Clarins Pure Melt Cleansing Gel .

As such, I have also been a fan for years; always stealing it every time I’m at home.  Its unique formula – gel to oil to milk – ensures every trace of make-up is removed easily and without irritating my annoyingly sensitive eyes.  The result is beautifully cleansed skin that is soft, plump & radiant.  The only downside?  A £19.50 price tag. 

Now don’t get me wrong, it is by no means the most expensive cleanser out there but as a poor student/struggling London grad, this has always been somewhat out of my price range and I therefore left it as a little ‘at home treat’.  Until now…

No7 has long championed high quality skin care at high street prices (remember the stampedes for Protect & Perfect?) and they show no signs of slowing down.  Their offering – Beautiful Skin Melting Gel Cleanser
is pretty much the perfect dupe and comes in at a sweet £9.  Couple that with their regular £5 off skincare vouchers and you’re on to a winner!  But how do they compare?

In a highly accurate scientific experiment, I used Clarins on one half of my face and No 7 on the other.  The result?  Almost identical. 

Both products have exactly the same gel consistency which, when applied to a dry face, turn into a light oil which literally melts away make up.  Once water is applied to the face, both oils turn into a milk ensuring your face is left thoroughly cleansed and hydrated at the same time.  In short, to the naked eye, these products are more or less, exactly the same.  Both feel the same and leave my skin clean, soft and radiant.  I have to admit the Clarins did remove my mascara slighter more easily but it is by no means a deal breaker and is definitely not worth an extra £10.  I mean come on – that’s enough to buy another Essie and still have change left over; what more could a blogger want?!

Have you tried either of these products?  Do you like to try high street skin care or do you think you always get what you pay for?  Let me know!


Wednesday, 6 February 2013

New In|Michael Kors Hamilton Saffiano Tote

I mentioned in my weekend post that on Saturday I took a little trip to The Bullring.  With a very unexpected tax rebate cheque burning a hole in my pocket, I was in the mood to splurge.

Within seconds I was immersed in the handbag section like a moth to a flame.  And a further few seconds later, I was in love.  

Michael Kors - you did it again....

This is the beautiful Michael Kors Hamilton Saffiano Tote - a winning combination of matte black leather and chunky gold hardware that I was unable to resist.
It's the absolute perfect size for work or play and with the Birkin inspired padlock and adjustable sides, it's more than roomy enough for all your essentials.  The interior is lined with MK embossed fabric and boasts 5 pockets of varying size to ensure that even a girl like me, who throws her entire life in her handbag, can find everything at ease.

It’s safe to say that I’m in love and will be a very happy girl walking down the road with Michael on my arm ;).

Are you as big a fan of Michael Kors as I am?  What would you treat yourself to with some unexpected cash?  Let me know!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

A Weekend in Warwickshire

As much as I love living in London, Warwickshire will always be my home.  I make the journey back as regularly as possible and it's always my favourite weekend of the month.  Two full days surrounded by family & friends, home cooked food and delicious treats, what's not to love?!

My favourite sale find from Zara - black suede and gold studs...a match made in heaven.

I love getting ready on Saturdays - no stress and no time constraints.  My trusty Boots tongs gave up on me a few months ago so my hot tool of choice is now the amazing Enrapture Totem Styler.  I use a 3-2-2 combination to get the curls above.

Some of the pretty bits and bobs I left in my room rather than take to London.  The Scrabble print was a beautiful handmade birthday present from one of my very best friends.

Mother Bear and I took a trip to the Bullring and I picked up a few back ups of my favourite black Leigh jeans.  Unfortunately Topshop seem to have changed the fabric and they don't look as nice but I managed to find two pairs of the old style so I'm stocked up for a while!  And with the monochrome trend in full swing I couldn't resist a stripy skater dress; perfect to throw on for work with ankle boots and my trusty leather jacket.

I also made a pretty special and rather large purchase in Selfridges but I'll leave this for a later post all of its own....

The weekend was finished off with a delicious treat in one of my favourite pubs in Warwick - thick hot chocolate, lashings of whipped cream and a more-than-generous handful of marshmallows...what more could you want?!

What did you get up to this weekend?  I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday night xxx

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

My Weight Loss - Tips & Tricks

This year, along with a ridiculously high proportion of the country, I made a resolution: to lose weight.  Generic and obvious I know but I decided this would be the year that I finally get the body I’ve always wanted, in a healthy way.  So far, I’ve lost 6 pounds of my 14 pound aim and I couldn’t be happier.  It hasn’t been easy but it also hasn’t be ridiculously hard so I thought I’d share with you my tips and tricks – calories, exercise, chocoholism and all!

It’s all in the maths

At the end of the day the simple fact is this: in order to lose weight you must burn more calories than you consume.  It really is that easy – if you burn off more than you consume, you WILL lose weight.  Now as humans, we burn calories every day just by living and as such, we all have a BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) which is, simply put, the number of calories you would burn if you just lay in bed all day.

You can work yours out here.

Once you have that number, you can use the Harris Benedict Equation to work out your daily calories needs based on your lifestyle and level of activity.

As there are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat, you will need to reduce this daily number by 500 to lose 1 pound a week or 1000 calories to lose 2 pounds a week, which is the recommended maximum. 
The important thing to remember is that as you lose weight, your body will require fewer calories so you may need to check your numbers every so often to ensure you are not consuming more calories than necessary.

Sounds easy, right?!

Keeping Track

It is all well and good working out the figures but keeping track is one of the hardest parts.  That’s where my little miracle comes into play – MyFitnessPal.

This genius app/website keeps a log of your meals, snacks, exercise, weight, measurements…basically everything you could ever want.  You can also tailor your profile to how many calories you want to consume to ensure it is personal to you.  However the best part is the barcode scanner – simply scan your food and it will log all the nutritional information immediately – doing all the hard work for you.

Food – Where to get your calories from

Once you’ve worked out how many calories you need, it really is up to you where you get them from.  You could use all 1,200+ on 5 chocolate bars however you will soon realise this won’t give your body the fuel it needs and you’ll end up tired, miserable and completely un-motivated.

I therefore stick to the ‘1 ingredient rule.’  My favourite phrase being: ‘If it came from the earth or it had a mother, you can eat it.’  That means no processed ready meals, no sauces full of rubbish, no fizzy drinks packed full of sweeteners  – just healthy food that I can identify all of the ingredients in. 

Obviously nobody can be perfect 100% of the time which is where the 80/20 rule comes in – allow yourself to be naughty 20% of the time and you won’t crave all your favourite foods and risk giving in.  For example, I eat chocolate every day (I am a true addict!) – in the form of a Freddo or other snack size favourite; 100 calories isn’t going to tip you over the edge.

Exercise – How to work your calories off

Obviously you can reduce your calories purely by food however if you want a truly lean body, this probably won’t be enough.  Muscle requires more calories to maintain that fat meaning that once you’ve built muscle, your body will use up more calories even when sitting watching the TV.  Also, burning calories off means you can eat more – it really is a win/win situation! 

My favourite free workouts are found on Fitness Blender – this site probably deserves a post of its own.  It’s like having a personal trainer right there in your room and there are so many videos to choose from you will never get bored.  My personal favourites are the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts and with videos ranging from 5 to 90 minutes, there really is no excuse not to work out every day.

If, like me, you’ve avoided exercise your entire life, this won’t come overnight but it does become easier every day.  They say it takes doing something 21 times for it to become a habit – give yourself 3 weeks of doing a small workout every day; trust me, you’ll never go back.

Extra Tips and Tricks

There are hundreds of amazing fitsporation accounts on Instagram.  Trust me, when you’re craving a pizza but log onto your timeline to photos such as the below, you suddenly don’t want that junk anymore.

Look Good
It’s shallow but true – having great workout gear will make you feel better about things.  Who ever felt great in an old t-shirt and pair of worn out leggings?!

Simple but so effective.  Lack of sleep can lead to the production of cortisol in your body which aids fatty deposits around your abdomen – the most dangerous area to carry fat.  Working out will allow you to sleep better which will reduce these levels – another win/win.

Losing weight is really hard but hopefully some of the above information will help you on your way.  
What are your favourite tips?  Any amazing workout DVDs you have found?  Please comment and let me know!