Tuesday, 24 June 2014

What's inside my suitcase? // Canaries

If everything has gone to plan, I am currently stretched out on a sun lounger in the Canary Islands. Technology will take a back seat until I get back, so I scheduled this lil post in advance! Here's a few of the things that will be packed neatly rammed into my suitcase:


Topshop white wedges - perfect for dressing up outfits in the evening
Boohoo stripe crop - looks great worn on top of a bikini on the way to the beach / pool
ASOS white skater skirt - high waisted and goes with EVERYTHING
ASOS blue skater skirt - the most beautiful baby blue colour
 - Urban Outfitters kimono - quite literally the comfiest thing I've ever worn. Great for the evenings when it cools down or by the pool
Tresemme Keratin Smooth range - to (hopefully) protect my tresses from the humidity
Urban Decay Naked 2 palette - I don't own any other eye shadows and I don't need to - this set has everything you need
- New Look peach dress - I'm turning into such a girly girl... WHAT IS HAPPENING
New Look sliders - I've seen these in so many magazines lately and finally tracked them down. The ideal pool side shoes
- Urban Outfitters kimono - another poolside / evening option. Now sold out
- H&M black tube top & blue dress - basics are always useful and can be dressed up with accessories
Benefit Laugh with me Lee Lee fragrance - summer in a bottle.
New Look diamante flip flops - satisfies the magpie in me

I'm boring and have gone back to the same place as last year! It's such a chilled resort and I rate it very highly for food. Long time readers know how important food is to me ;) See when you I get back!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Debenhams press day - 18th June 2014

I love reading about press days and have always wanted to go to one, but the ones I'm invited to are usually during the day. As I work full time, I always seem to miss out. When Debenhams sent me an invite to their latest - evening - press day it was music to my ears. Jamaican themed, the event would celebrate the launch of the SS14 Call It Spring collection. I've written about my admiration for Call It Spring before, so I jumped at the chance to go with one of my best friends as my +1. Alison and I arrived to summery tunes, summery nibbles, summery drinks and well, summery everything. The collection was beautifully presented alongside Martini glasses, neon coloured cups with curly straws, and friendship bracelets. We were in shoe heaven:


They also had an AW preview which looks to be very promising indeed:



Honestly, I can't pick out one single favourite item from the collection. It would be a close call between the hi-tops, black ankle boots, black courts with the gold chain anklets, the iridescent shoes... damn it, I loved it all.

Sadly the savoury food was gone by the time we got there :'( But we had some lovely pineapple and coconut cake and fruit skewers with our drinks (fruity ginger beer concoctions).


Complimentary beauty treatments were also available that evening. We didn't tan or get our hair done, but we did line up to get our nails done. Nail polish wise, the lady literally had every colour under the sun. Although I did question who on earth gets their nails painted bright yellow. The neon yellow one reminded me of when you're walking home with an Indian takeaway and the curry leaks and stains the bag that shockingly bright yellow colour! But the lady laughed and said that people actually do chose that colour. And that it 's nicer than how it appears in the bottle. Alison went for a gorgeous dusky mauve / grey colour, whereas I chose a pastel blue:


When we left, the lovely people of Debenhams gave us a goody bag to take home. Each bag was unique. Alison had a sparkly tiara / hair piece in hers, whereas I had sunglasses. We both had the same pretty scarf though:


The bags were chosen at random - so I found it funny how the blue of my sunglasses matched my recently painted nails:


Thanks for having us Debenhams!

#JaJaJaJamaica

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Why you don't need to go to the gym to be healthy

With holiday season upon us, many of us will be striving for the perfect beach body. However gyms are costly affairs and not all of us can afford it. L&G recently conducted a survey and found that when faced with financial difficulty, one of the first cuts that people make is their gym membership. However there are other ways to have a glowing complexion, stay in shape and generally be healthy. And it doesn't have to cost the earth. Here's my guide to living a healthy lifestyle on the cheap: 

1) Go for a walk - walks are not only good for the body, but they're also great for the mind. I find that if I visit a picturesque place, this will keep me distracted for hours and I'm more likely to walk a farther distance.


2) Get that vacuum cleaner going - studies show that with regular housework you can burn 50,000 calories a year!

3) Sex - exercises every muscle in the body and keeps your heart rate up. As if we needed an excuse(!)

4) Buy less takeaways - make your own! Takeaways can be packed with salt, so by making your own you can control what goes into it. Whilst I do still indulge in takeaway pizza every so often, there's nothing better than creating your own pizza dough:


5) Cut back on booze - drink in moderation. I only drink occasionally now and my complexion is so much better for it.

6) Find out about free clubs / groups in your area - look for ads in the local paper or enquire around at work. My company offers free activities like football, tennis and yoga. I attend the yoga classes and it's had such a positive impact on my physical and mental health.

7) Don't deprive yourself - if want that doughnut, have that doughnut. If you deem something is "forbidden" you'll keep snacking on rubbish - and lots of it - to satify that sugar craving. Save yourself a lot of time and torture, and just have the doughnut. Having one once in a while doesn't hurt anyone.


8) Borrow fitness DVDs from family and friends - rather than going out and spending money, I've had a night in before with friends and we've done one of those dance-yourself-fit DVDs. It's a great laugh. Remember, laughter releases endorphins - "feel good" hormones.

9) Get an early night - studies have shown that staying up late can affect the way your body burns fat. It's important to get a good night's sleep as this is the time when your body repairs core muscles. An article I read the other day suggested that staying up late with a" blue screen devise" such as a smartphone or laptop, could induce hunger pangs making you prone to late night snacking. Allocate time before bed to "wind down". Switch off the electronics, treat yourself to a relaxing bath, light some candles and read before bed. This is as change I've made lately and I feel better for it.


10) Make simple changes to your diet - reduce the number of sugars you have in your tea. Order hot chocolate without cream. Go for tomato based pasta sauces rather than creamy cheese based ones. But as I pointed out in bullet point number 7, remember not to deprive yourself. You can still eat these things, just in moderation. I still eat biscuits like no one's business however I make sure I have fruit and unsalted cashews with me at work to snack on when I hit my afternoon slump.


11) Take the stairs - I rarely take the stairs at work, but it's the best way of toning those glutes!

12) Never skip meals - especially breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It establishes your energy and blood sugar levels for the day. Porridge is great as it will slowly release its energy across the morning, keeping you fuller for longer, so that you're less likely to indulge in as many snacks before lunch.



13) Bring a packed lunch rather than buying on the day - that way you can control what goes into your food. Lots of people mean well when they go for a salad - however most shop salads / restaurant salads aren't that low fat because of the high sugar levels in the dressing they use. I prefer to create my own salads and wraps, using a splash of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice for flavour.


How do you keep fit?

Sunday, 15 June 2014

DIY Father's Day gift // honeycomb

I don't know about your parents, but whenever Mother's Day or Father's Day swings round, both my parents don't want a fuss and tell my sisters and I to save our pennies. It's a nice sentiment, but why wouldn't you spoil your parents rotten on that special day? Rather than splashing out on an over-the-top gift, I try and think up a thoughtful one - I like how home made gifts are so personal.

Back to Father's Day. My Dad is partial to a bit of honeycomb so this year I decided to make him some from scratch. I'd heard that it is a devil to make and that the mixture can ruin in seconds. There aren't many ingredients, It just takes patience. Mix when you're told to. Stop mixing when it says to. How hard could it be? I don't think I did too badly...



Seeing your creation turn a lovely golden colour is very satisfying. The kitchen was filled with a lovely aroma not too dissimilar from honey. Reacting with the bicarbonate of soda, the mixture bubbled and expanded. Immediately you pour into a tray lined with greaseproof paper and leave to set overnight. Once set, cut into pieces. I wrapped mine individually as they were quite sticky.



Honeycomb done, I grabbed the mug I'd bought for Dad earlier in the week. He's a huge Dad's Army fan so whenever I see any Dad's Army merchandise I have to get it for him. I decided to present the honeycomb inside the mug. Job done.


The mug cost under a fiver and the ingredients for the honeycomb, barely anything at all. Plus I have lots of syrup and caster sugar left over which I can use for other baking projects. So there you have it. A DIY Father's Day gift idea that doesn't cost the earth. Obviously you can adjust to your dads' tastes with regards to the vessel and what it contains. And if you're not big on baking, you can usually find bags of those old school pick 'n' mix sweets in most shops now.

What have you got planned for Father's Day?

Monday, 9 June 2014

Here today, scone tomorrow

One thing I love about being British is our tea and cake culture. Whilst I'm not fussed by tea, cake is something I'll always have time for. I experienced my very first afternoon tea a couple of years back, and since then, I've not looked back. As much as I love a good afternoon tea, it can be quite a costly experience. With tiny sandwiches looking up at you on your plate, it's not great value for money. Nor is it an experience I'd recommend if you have a big appetite.Whilst I fully advocate taking the time to treat yourself every now and again, you just can't beat a DIY afternoon tea. Craving scones, this weekend gone seemed as good a time as any.

The scone recipe I used is an old family one. The measurements, ingredients and oven temperate did require some guess work (what on earth is cream of tartar?!). The recipe wasn't the most decisive of recipes and seemed to offer you choices such as "8-12 tablespoons of milk". Erm... what?! Despite going for the largest possible measurement of flour and the smallest in milk, my dough was like no dough I'd ever seen before. More the consistency of porridge, it was never going to roll out with a rolling pin. Which is then when the recipe was taken into my own hands - it became "inspired by" rather than taken literally.




The scones turned out beautifully. But it was luck and guess work rather than any actual skill



Topped with home-made jam, it was a marriage made in heaven. Clean plates all round!


Friday, 6 June 2014

#3 Make your mark, Primark

Busy times in recent weeks meant I didn't have a chance to see one of my best friends around the time of my birthday. Long overdue a catch up, we went for food (pics and review coming in another post soon!) and then a spot of shopping along Oxford Street. I find Primark a bit like marmite - but I do like the London Tottenham Court Road store. It never disappoints...


I couldn't believe my eyes when I first laid my eyes on this necklace in Primark. Two questions I instantly asked myself were: 1) "how is this from Primark?!" and 2) "how is this only £5?!" An absolute bargain and will literally go with everything.


I know we're supposedly in summer right now, but as it's grey and raining constantly in London, I saw no harm in adding to my jumper collection. You ALWAYS need knitwear in London. I loved the embossed, textured print. The jumper itself has quite a baggy fit - so you may want to size down. Mine is a UK size 6 and is still very roomy.


I'll come straight out with it: I don't actually wear anything to bed. TMI? But I saw these and was drawn to the red and white shorts. I do worry now I've got them home as they look like short shorts - but I've gone a size up so they should be doable. I liked the embossed 3D effect of the popcorn on the top but fear that after a few goes in the washing machine, this may not have the longest life... I really loved this set as the whole cute-cartoon-food-with-a-face motif reminded me of David & Goliath's tees ...but at a fraction of the price. You just can't go wrong with £5 pyjamas. These will be perfect for my travels later this month and in July.


There are times where I really surprise myself. This was one of those times. Heaven knows why I was drawn to this particular sweater. Maybe it's the nostalgia of having loved this show back when I was little. Which then developed into a horse phase where I started horse riding lessons and spent every weekend at the stables. I guess it just brings back happy memories.


I needed a pashmina for a wedding I went to recently and this scarf I found in Primark was amazing value for money. You can easily spend up to £20 for such an item in a department store - but guess how much I paid? £3. Yes, you heard correctly. £3. It was a bit creased but a quick iron soon fixed that. There's a generous amount of material there - so it also makes a perfect scarf on early morning commutes and can be draped around me as a shawl at work when the air con gets a little much. Which is often.


I have holidays booked later this month and in July and am starting to look around for some summer pieces. When I saw this playsuit, I thought it would be perfect to wear poolside or for a day at the beach. The vertical stripes are really flattering and although it is yet ANOTHER monochrome addition to my wardrobe, at least there's some gold sparkle on it for good measure.

Have you found anything nice in Primark lately?

Monday, 2 June 2014

Claire's rainbow speckle nail polish

When I fancy a new nail polish, I must admit, Claire's isn't somewhere that usually springs to mind. When I think of Claire's I think of jewellery and things perhaps aimed at a younger audience. How wrong was I?! Think about it. Claire's Accessories. Accessories is a broad term - it can extend to bags, hair accessories and so on. But never once did I think it would extend to beauty and nail care.

I was talking about this with a friend who exclaimed: "but Claire's does brilliant nail varnishes!". Apparently ones she purchased at school are still going strong to this very day with none of them drying up or becoming 'gloopy' like you experience with other brands.

Curiousity got the better of me, and I went to investigate the Claire's Accessories branch near my office. Whilst there were some corners with One Direction fan memorabilia, tutus, and pink fluffy boas for miniature sized people, I was delighted to find that Claire's caters to a far wider age range than I originally thought.

What I'm sharing with you today is a couple of nail polishes I picked up that I'm pretty excited by. Firstly because of my friend's sparkling recommendation of how durable they are. But secondly because of the price - a mere £2.50 per bottle. Considering these are comparable in size to the Models Own nail polishes, these are an absolute bargain of a price.

The colour I was drawn to is a speckle / confetti kind of nail polish. It was so unusual and unlike anything I'd ever seen before:


They have another colour variety too but I went out of my comfort zone and went for the neon coloured one, which is great for summer and for giving your outfit a pop of colour. I also purchased a white nail polish to use as an undercoat. And here's the final result:


Other hands will flock to admire... *poke*


The nail polish spreads like a dream. Time will tell how long they last before chipping, but so far I'm impressed!

Do you ever shop at Claire's Accessories?