Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Essie Haul

I love nothing more than buying a new nail polish, and Essie is one of my favourite brands. Just the sight of their stand with it's endless range of gorgeous colours makes me feel excited! However, I don't get so excited at spending £7.99 on a nail polish, especially when there are so many cheaper options - it's hard to justify, and therefore so far I've only bought a few special colours. 

I heard a while ago through the blogging world that Fragrance Direct offered cheaper Essie polishes, but by the time I got there they had sold out. A week or so ago I decided to check again, and found happily that they were back online! Not only that, but a colour I had been looking for everywhere - Bikini So Teeny - was available! At £1.99 each, this was too good a bargain to miss, so I snapped up three polishes, and here they are...

Essie nail polish

I've tried out all the colours so I can give you my first impressions...

Bikini So Teeny is a perfect lilac-blue colour, for which I have bought many dupes, none as good as this one! It's a really creamy consistency, easy to apply - it's possible to get away with wearing one coat, although two is perfect. 

Tour De Finance is a hot pink colour with a slight purple shimmer, which doesn't show up particularly well in most lights. I've been wearing it on my toes and it is a nice polish, but there's nothing really to differentiate it from any other hot pink nail polish - nice, but not exciting. 

Finally, To Buy Or Not To Buy has actually turned out to be my favourite. This is an absolutely beautiful pale lilac colour with a blue iridescent shimmer. It's a really unusual colour and looks amazing with a tan, but I can imagine it would also suit those with paler skin tones. I really like it and have been wearing it non stop!

What do you think of my purchases?  


Monday, 29 July 2013

Strawberry Tarts, Ice Cream Cupcakes and a very British BBQ!

This weekend I was back in my home town, and for lunch on Saturday my sister, her boyfriend and I popped down to Belgique for lunch. If you've never been, Belgique is a string of gorgeous little cafes selling cakes and deli items, and offering quite a comprehensive menu of brunches, lunches and delicious snacks. We spent quite a while happily staring through the window and drooling over the counters. Don't you just want to eat all of them?

Eventually I plumped for a strawberry tart, which was absolutely delicious. 

I didn't want to eat too much, as we were hosting a barbecue later that day, but looking at all those delicious cakes gave me the baking bug. As soon as I got home I started flicking through recipes online, trying to decide what to make. I settled on ice cream cupcakes - cupcakes designed to look like traditional '99s! Unfortunately, our little local Tesco didn't stock any flat bottomed cones, so I decided just to make them in cupcake cases. I went with two different icing colours, for strawberry and vanilla, and mixed them too to give a couple with a raspberry ripple effect. Then I added the flakes!

What do you think? 

By the time I'd finished it was time to head upstairs and get dressed for the barbecue. All day the sun had been shining happily so I got ready in my summer best, including my favourite new flower headband!

But hang on...what were those clouds overhead? I peered out of the window to see a threatening grey sky as my guests started to appear up the driveway. Surely it wasn't going to rain?! 

The boys had just lit up the barbecue when the heavens OPENED. What were we to do? Give up? Slink inside with our tails between our legs and order a pizza? 

Never! As only the British can, we persevered, umbrellas in hand! Although when I say we... us girls may have hid inside with our wine! In the end, everyone settled in the living room with their hard earned food and we had a great night of eating, gossiping and listening to music. 

Who needs the sun, eh? Having said that, I think my boyfriend might check out the forecast next time...

Friday, 26 July 2013

Nail Art For The Lazy

As I mentioned in my little haul post here, I decided I needed some R&R last weekend. One thing I always like to do when I’m at home relaxing is spend some time on my nails. I love nail art, but never seem to have time to do it – I’m always so busy rushing from one place to the next that I barely get the time even to paint my nails!

I decided to see if there were any designs that I could do quickly which would still look cute. The first one I tried was a simple polka dot nail. I painted my nails pale yellow using Models Own Lemon Meringue. Then, instead of wasting time using a dotting tool, I used the Models Own white nail pen to add little white polka dots. Obviously, they’re not as neat as a dotting tool, but I think this still gave a pretty neat effect, and it took about 10 minutes!

You still have to wait for the nails to dry, however, and again this is a luxury I cannot always afford. I decided to try out some nail wraps, and picked out a couple from Boots in different designs. The ones I’m wearing here are the Elegant Touch Envy Wraps in Patterned Colour Wash. These are designed to last up to 10 days – great for people who never get time to do their nails – and allow you to essentially ‘stick on’ your nail art! I thought they’d be fussy and difficult to work with, but they’re actually really easy. I stuck them on in front of the TV, and here they are! They're a bit raggedy here because I hadn't finished filing them, but they soon smoothed over.

I'm really impressed as they're still on now! I’ll definitely be picking up some more nail wraps in different designs. There’s hope for this nail art lover yet! What are some of your tips for speedy nails? 

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Now You See Me…

I haven’t been to the cinema for ages, and I didn’t realise until we got there how much I love the whole experience. We bought our tickets, then like an excited child I hit the pick ‘n’ mix section. (I haven’t yet told my Mum that by sensibly banning me from pick ‘n’ mix as a child, she’s made it all that more exciting for my adult self!) Once we’d loaded up on fizzy strawberries, chocolate covered raisins and cola bottles, and we’d spent an insane amount of money on a bucket of diet coke, we went in.

 Now You See Me Film

I’d been really looking forward to seeing this film for ages, and it didn’t disappoint. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I’ll just give you the basic premise – four magicians, each with slightly different skills, are brought together by a mysterious person and given various magic shows to perform – the first one being to rob a bank vault. This obviously attracts the attention of the police force, as well as a man who exposes magicians, and a fast-paced thriller ensues as each tries to stay one step ahead of the other.

Now You See Me Film

The film is brilliant – the plot twists constantly, so you never know what’s going to happen next, and it’s also genuinely funny in places. I have a shameless geek crush on Jesse Eisenberg (also of The Social Network and Zombieland), which added to my enjoyment! If you enjoy films like Oceans 11 or 21, I think you’d really enjoy this. A mystery with a little bit of magic – what’s not to love? Get yourselves down to your local cinema, now – and don’t forget the pick ‘n’ mix! 

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Tower Of London Summer Party

When I was a little girl, I always wanted to be a Princess. I’d have long, curly blonde hair, a big pink dress, a handsome Prince – and a huge ball at a beautiful castle, surrounded by all my family and friends.

Tower Of London

Well, this summer I got at least part of my wish. I was lucky enough to be invited to a summer party through my work, at a castle – and not just any castle. The Tower of London.

This beautiful, historic building stands on the Thames, was built by William the Conqueror, holds the Crown Jewels and is one of London’s major tourist attractions – and they now also hold corporate parties in marquees erected in their grounds.

Tower Of London
Ready to go

My friends and I got ready with Prosecco and traditional British strawberries to accompany us! I wriggled into my favourite black party dress (a pretty cheap number from Forever 21), added my highest black heels and my favourite turquoise necklace, and off we went for a night of playing at princes and princesses.

Tower Of London

We arrived to find a huge marquee had been erected at the bottom of the tower. Girls in their summer party wear spilled out into the evening clutching complimentary glasses of wine, the men in suit jackets and open collar shirts.

Tower Of London

I went in and found the marquee much bigger than I expected, lit with purple sparkling lights. There was a large array of food on offer, and I grabbed a burger as ever – not a food for princesses, perhaps, but it kept me happy! 

Tower Of London

The décor was lavish, glamorous and beautiful – a perfect setting. The wine flowed and the attentive staff were always on hand to provide refills. 

Tower Of London

I didn’t take many photos, as obviously it was a work event, but we enjoyed a photo booth with a number of silly props, drank, chatted and danced the night away. 

Tower Of London

It was a fantastic evening of fun in an amazing historical location and if you ever get the chance to go, I couldn’t recommend it more! 

Tower Of London


Monday, 22 July 2013

A New Look Haul For Y’All

I’ve just had the most relaxing weekend of 2013. After the drama of Turkey and the highs of Rock Werchter, my boyfriend and I decided what we needed most of all was a rest. We holed up at my house with a bottle of white wine, some books, the Game Of Thrones boxset and enough BBQ food to feed a small army. Our only vague plan was a trip to the cinema (to see Now You See Me, which I’ll review for you tomorrow!)

On our way back from the cinema, however, I realised my shoes were very much about to give out. A quick trip to the shops was in order.

new look shoes hipster

New Look is my first port of call for shoes, especially basic ballet slippers. They might not last that long, but they’re only £7.99, and the more expensive ones I’ve tried from TopShop and River Island really don’t last long either! I picked up a sensible black pair for work, and a shiny gold pair to add to a bit of interest to boring outfits.

new look shoes hipster

While I was there, these cute black ankle boots caught my eye. In the winter I love wearing boots with black tights and skirts or dresses. It’s not exactly winter now…but it crossed my mind that when I was looking for boots last winter, they’d all sold out! I decided that as these weren’t expensive, I’d grab them now, and save them for the colder months (which knowing English weather will be here all too soon!)

new look shoes hipster

On the way back to the till, I passed the jewellery stand. New Look have a couple of little independent jewellery makers as well as their own brand stuff, and one of them had a sale on. I grabbed this really interesting Aztec-style necklace for just £2! I think it will look great with a plain T.

new look shoes hipster

I’d also been looking for some finger tip rings and hadn’t been able to find any anywhere. I found these, with some silver and some rose gold, for £3.99 and I love them!

new look shoes hipster

I was happy with my bargains and we wandered home…to find out I was up to 200 followers on my blog. I just want to say how grateful and happy I am, thank you all for following me, and I appreciate every single one of you!  

Friday, 19 July 2013

Turkey – Sun, Sea…and A&E!

I have been known to suffer from the festival blues. I’d come home, refusing to cut off my ribbon wristbands, and sit at work sulking all week, staring out of the window dreaming of muddy fields and messy hair and cider and freedom. Not this year, I decided. This year I would avert the end of festival blues by planning a holiday to start immediately afterwards. The first proper holiday my boyfriend and I have ever been on, due to work commitments over the last two years, and I wanted it to be special. We decided to head to Alanya, in Turkey, for six days of recovery under the sun. I didn’t want to do anything except lie by the pool or on a beach with a cool drink in my hand. Perfection. A few celebratory drinks at the airport, and we were off!

Alanya is a little harbour which curves around the Turkish south coast, on the Mediterranean sea, with a castle at the top and a little strip running downwards, speckled with pretty restaurants and the usual assortment of touristy shops and bars with neon lights. Our hotel was about as close to the beach as I think it’s possible to be! Here's a look at the view from our balcony...

I’ve always been a sea baby and I couldn’t wait to dive into the waves. Our hotel was basic, but spotlessly clean and the staff were friendly. The days began to run into one as we spent them happily together, lazing under the baking sun.

About the most adventurous thing we did was play mini golf. Look at my boyfriend making a howler of a shot…!

I look much more professional don't you think? 

Yet somehow he still won!

We recovered in hammocks, gratefully recovering in the shade.

It wasn’t the sort of place where you had to get wildly dressed up for dinner, so in the evening I would grab a floaty summer dress, my boyfriend would put on a shirt and we’d head out.

The cove was beautiful at night, with the sun setting over the sea and the lights from the harbour flickering across the bay. We ate sea food and Turkish meats and cheeses under soft lights.

We did go to the bars once, but as you can tell we weren’t massively keen!

As cheesy as it sounds, I preferred just to sit on the beach at night and talk happily with the person I love.

On our last night we headed to the harbour for a special dinner. Calamari, mixed grills, haloumi cheese and pasta were shared, along with big glasses of wine, before we headed happily back to the hotel, planning to fly back the next day.

Then, at the last minute – disaster struck. Ian woke me in the night to say he wasn’t feeling very well, and the next thing I knew he was being sick. I told myself it was just food poisoning, and tried not to worry, but several hours later I knew something was very wrong. Ian was still being severely sick and couldn’t seem to speak to me. When he managed to stammer out that he was having trouble breathing, I ran to the reception and tearfully begged them to call a doctor. They took him straight to the hospital. I sat in the ambulance, terrified. Nobody spoke English so I couldn’t find out what was wrong. When we arrived they rushed him straight in to see a doctor. I absolutely cannot fault the Turkish medical system – they were amazing. We didn’t have our travel insurance certificates on us, but they let me sort everything out over the phone. We were given our own spotlessly clean room, with en suite and a sofa bed that I was able to stay with him on.

It transpired that Ian was suffering from severe gastroenteritis and dehydration, potentially caused by food poisoning. I followed him into illness, although never as severe, a day later. We were forced to delay our flights home by two days and finally arrived back to England on Tuesday, upon which I wanted to kiss the ground!

One lesson  this has taught me is to always make sure you have good travel insurance. Luckily my boyfriend had decent insurance through his work, and they were absolutely fantastic – they rearranged our flights and paid the medical bills with no problem at all. I absolutely dread to think what kind of a mess we’d be in if we hadn’t had insurance – I’ve always seen it as a bit of an annoying cost before, but it’s so worth it! We're both fully recovered now and happy to be home.

That explains therefore why I’ve been away for so much longer than planned, but now I’m back and have some great posts planned for the coming weeks! I hope you’re all well and enjoying the sunshine!
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