Wednesday, 30 September 2015

BUILDING A FAIRY HOUSE


Fairy House In Garden

When Ocean Finance got in touch to ask if I wanted to build a house for fairies (to highlight the fact that some of their customers use their financial lending services to enable them to build their own dream homes*), the childish part of me jumped at the chance. I actually got ridiculously excited as I most definitely wanted to create a dream home for all the tiny fairies in my garden to live in. Who doesn't love fairies?!

How To Build a Fairy House



Seriously though, this would be a great activity to do with children. I got a ceramic plant pot for the house itself from my local garden centre. I've given it a pink painted rim as I'm told that fairies adore pink. Luckily enough, fairies are the same size as dollshouse dolls, so getting some furniture and accessories for them to use isn't difficult. I got all the items for my fairy house on eBay in the dollshouse category- including the door, doormat, keys, picture frames, tea set, cutlery, tiny bird and cakes.

Dollshouse Picnic

Dollshouse Teaset

I thought it would be nice to set out a picnic for the fairies, so I cut a small square piece of fabric for the picnic blanket and added some little plastic flower cabochons (also from eBay) to decorate the surrounding grass. Finally, I sprinkled some fairy dust (gold glitter) over the stone path I created and on top of their house to welcome them on their arrival.

I can't wait to go to bed tonight so I can check if they've eaten the cakes in the morning! Do fairies leave footprints?

*This is a collaborative post with Ocean Finance. I have never used Ocean Finance as a customer, so I can't endorse their financial services. Always seek advice from an independent financial advisor before applying for and accepting loans, credit cards or mortgages from any company.

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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

BOOKS I'VE BEEN READING

Book Jackets

I have another batch of books that I've finished reading, so I wanted to share my opinions on them with you. It's a mixed bag of thrillers and chick-lit, with some that are defintely worth picking up yourself and some that are definitely worth avoiding.

The State We're In by Adele Parks
This is a really boring novel. It also has the most terrible ending- like the author just couldn't be bothered to write anymore so just plucked the strangest of happenings out of thin air. It's a human interest story about how decisions in love can affect the rest of your life and it follows the lives of several people who are all more connected than they, at first, realise. None of the characters are likeable and you don't really take anything away from having read this book.

The Memory Game by Nicci French
I didn't think I would enjoy this book as it isn't aimed at my age group; but I did. The narrator and protagonist is an elegant woman in her late 50s, Jane Martello, who is going through a divorce. The story is about the disappearance, decades ago, of her best friend Natalie and how it has affected her and her family's lives ever since. During a house renovation, Natalie's body is discovered buried in the back garden and Jane sets out to try and work out what happened to her by remembering more about the events of all those years ago. The story isn't so much a thriller, but more of an exploration of the human mind and of how experiences during childhood shape us. The premise of how Jane uncovers lost memories isn't very believable, but this didn't stop me from enjoying what is a very telling book about the human condition.

How To Get a (Love) Life by Rosie Blake
I do like a classic chick-lit novel for easy, enjoyable reading. This isn't a deep or intelligent book with a riveting story, it's just good entertainment. In it we follow Nicola, a permanent singleton, who is set a challenge by her work colleague to find a date by Valentine's Day. It takes us through her disastrous dating experiences until she finally gets the man of her dreams; who, as it happens, didn't actually need to be found.

The Year of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond
This is a quiet unassuming book with a great story about human life. Nothing big or exciting happens; it's simply a well-written tale about the nuances of human life and how we deal with adversity. It's set in a small rural village and tells the stories of three 40-something women who meet at a time when they all need one another's friendship. I found it a very uplifting read.

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes
I loved this book! Marian Keyes' writing is incredibly funny and I laughed out loud on many occasions. It's narrated by Stella Sweeney, an Irish woman in her early 40s who got a rare disease that caused her to be unable to move any muscle in her body. She was mentally fully awake, but could do nothing but blink. The story shifts back and forward in time from when she was hospitalised, to soon after her recovery, then several years later too. It's packed full of Irish humour, but is also very thought-provoking. You really connect with and root for Stella; empathising with the various problems in her life. I would love there to be a sequel to this as Stella is such a brilliant three-dimensional character.

Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes 
What can I say about this? It is literally the most disturbing and disgusting story that I have ever read. It's also incredibly unbelievable and far-fetched. I loved Elizabeth Haynes' Into The Darkest Corner novel; but you just can't connect with or understand her characters in this one at all. They are very one-dimensional. I can't really go into too much of the story without giving it away; but it involves a lot of rotting corpse descriptions and an investigation into why there are rotting corpses in the first place. It's supposed to be a thriller, but it doesn't thrill- it's just an unnecessary, gratuitous depiction of what happens to our bodies after we die. It has actually made me worry about the writer's sanity- who could think up a story like this?

If you have any novel recommendations yourself, leave them for me in the comments!

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Monday, 28 September 2015

END OF SEASON FASHION SALE PICKS

End of Season Fashion Sale Picks

Lots of stores have great sales on at the moment to mark the end of Summer. It's not all bikinis and flip-flops however- if you look carefully there are some great pieces that will work perfectly with the Autumn and Winter trends. I've rounded up my favourites for you; but hurry, as they'll go quickly!

Tall Black Suedette Fringed Waistcoat, Was £17.99 Now £9.00, www.newlook.com |  Rust Belted Wrap Sleeveless Blazer, Was £22.99 Now £14.00, www.newlook.com | Twist Back Shirt, Was £40 Now £15, www.warehouse.co.uk | Check Co-Ord Skirk, Was £38 Now £15, www.warehouse.co.uk | Yumi 70s Tile Jumper, Was £50 Now £35, www.houseoffraser.co.uk | Petite Print Red Shell Top, Was £28 Now £14, www.wallis.co.uk | Large Check Sleeveless Jacket, Was £33 Now £19, www.wallis.co.uk | Brown Faux Suede Shift Dress, Was £45 Now £20, www.riverisland.co.uk

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LANCOME OMBRE HYPNOSE STYLO EYESHADOW STICK IN TAUPE QUARTZ

Lancôme Ombre Hypnôse Stylo

The Ombre Hypnôse Stylo eyeshadow sticks (£18) are a new release from Lancôme. If you are a fan of the By Terry Ombre Blackstar sticks (£29), you'll love these for just over half the price. I've been trying out shade 03 Taupe Quartz and I love it.

Lancôme Ombre Hypnôse Stylo in Taupe Quartz

You can create a gorgeous eye makeup look in seconds with these cream shadow sticks. They look great on their own, blended out across the eyelid, and you can also use them as a liner thanks to their pointy tip which you can maintain with a built in sharpener. Once you have put these on your skin, they literally won't budge until you use a good waterproof eye makeup remover. This makes them incredibly long-wearing (mine stayed put all day), but it also means you have to work quickly in blending them.

Lancôme Ombre Hypnôse Stylo in Taupe Quartz Swatch

Taupe Quartz is a brown-grey colour with a pretty luminous finish. Like all of the other 8 shades in the line-up, it is highly pigmented but feels very light on the skin. This is a great shadow for easy daytime wear, but can also be built up or layered with other colours for a more dramatic night-time look.

Do you like the look of this?

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Saturday, 26 September 2015

THREE STYLISH ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY THINGS TO DO IN GLASGOW

Blythswood Square Afternoon Tea

Take Afternoon Tea In A 5-Star Environmentally Responsible Hotel
The Blythswood Square Hotel in Glasgow is one of the most green and environmentally friendly hotels in the UK. The renovation of this old building into the luxury palace with historic features that it is now, was done with the latest green building eco innovations. Advanced technology was implemented which reduces the carbon emissions of the hotel by over 43% compared to similar buildings. They have a renewable energy supply, a rain water harvesting system and environmental appliances that reduce their energy consumption. They also serve a beautiful afternoon tea in the hotel's Salon for £28pp that includes a delicious selection of sandwiches, fresh scones and dainty cakes. We all like to eat out, but here you can do it somewhere committed to helping our planet.


Pollok House Glasgow

Picnic In The Park Downton Abbey Style
Experience some of Glasgow's history as well as enjoying the great outdoors. Pollok Country Park is a vast area full of woodlands, rural areas with Highland Cows and pretty walled gardens. It was once part of the Old Pollok Estate and was the ancestral home of the Maxwell family. After enjoying a picnic on the grass, visit the world famous art gallery The Burrell Collection or the historic Pollok House; both situated in the park. Plus, if you join the National Trust for Scotland while you are there, you'll be helping to preserve its legacy.

Granny Would Be Proud Vintage & Craft Fair Glasgow

Shop Stylishly but Responsibly
For a unique shopping experience, you need to head to Glasgow's twice monthly vintage and craft market Granny Would Be Proud held at Hillhead Bookclub in the West End. It's the perfect place to spend a Sunday afternoon and you can find out their upcoming dates on their Facebook page. There are stalls selling vintage clothing and accessories, plus cute crafts such as candles made with recycled teacups. Nothing is wasted or thrown away here.

This post was sponsored by Triodos Bank, but all opinions are my own. Triodos are one of the world's only ethical banks and they make money work for positive environmental and social change. They are currently running a Facebook competition to win an eco break in Amsterdam and you can enter here.

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Photo 1 Credit- Blythswood Square / Townhouse Company
Photo 2 Credit- Wikimedia via Creative Commons License
Photo 3 Credit- Granny Would Be Proud Facebook

Friday, 25 September 2015

AFTERNOON TEA WITH LIZ EARLE MBE

Liz Earle MBE

Afternoon tea with Liz Earle

A few days ago I went for afternoon tea with Liz Earle in the beautiful penthouse suite at Glasgow's 5-star Blythswood Square hotel. She was visiting to showcase the latest Liz Earle products, the special 20th anniversary packaging to celebrate the brand's birthday and their Christmas gift offerings.



Lots of delicious, delicate, botanical-themed cakes and savoury treats were served as we listened to Liz talk about how she built up her business, what inspires her and about her new Liz Earle Wellbeing magazine project. She made a wonderful comment about internet and blog trolls that I think is just perfect: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, comment".



She also talked about her love of plants and flowers, and about how that is the basis of the Liz Earle brand. Her hot cloth cleanser, the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish, has achieved cult status. She recommends that if you do even one thing to look after your skin, make it this. It's suitable for all skin types and is packed full of natural plant-based ingredients. I'll be doing a full review of this soon. She also introduced us to the new Liz Earle Superskin Face Serum. This smells wonderful, like a Spring bouquet, and contains powerful botantical extracts to lift, firm and even out the tone of your skin. Again, I'll be doing a full review of this soon.



At the moment, I just want to share with you some photographs from the event, as everything looked so beautiful and Instagram-able. There are some stunning Christmas gift sets for you to drool over too...

Liz Earle Christmas 2015
Liz Earle Candles

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Thursday, 24 September 2015

MY FAVOURITE AUTUMN LIP COLOURS

Autumn Lip Colours

Autumn is fast approaching, and it calls for a darker lip. Berry and Marsala tones will be in everyone's makeup bags this AW15 and I've been busy organising my stash to rediscover my favourite cold weather-appropriate shades. These five lip colours are perfect for the new season...

Sleek MakeUP Pout Polish Perfect Plum
Sleek MakeUP
Sleek MakeUP | Buxom
Buxom | Cargo Cosmetics

Sleek MakeUP Pout Polish Lip Gloss in Perfect Plum, £4.49, Sleek MakeUP
I got this quite a while ago in Superdrug, but if your store doesn't have one you can get it on the Sleek website. This conditioning lip balm is heavily tinted. It is very creamy instead of being greasy and sticky like a lot of lip balms, and you can apply just a small amount for a light wash of colour or apply lots to make it opaque.

Buxom Full-Bodied Lipstick in Menace, $21, Bare Escentuals
I picked this up at Sephora in the US. It is more of a purple-toned berry and looks stunning. It is very hydrating and has lip plumping effects without the annoying tingling. It's very highly pigmented and glossy, so I'd defintiely recommend using a liner with this.

Bite Beauty | Stila
Cargo Cosmetics | Bite Beauty
Cargo Cosmetics Essential Lip Colour in Bordeaux, £13, Debenhams 
This lipstick is a very dark purple-toned berry, so I wear it as part of an evening look. I'd say it is semi-matte, but it's very hydrating and lightweight. It packs a real colour punch too, and is very long-lasting. 

Bite Beauty High Pigment Pencil in Rhubarb, £33.50, Amazon
I got this from Sephora in the US, but I have found a UK store on Amazon offering it for £33.50. This is the closest of all my lip colours to the 2015 Pantone colour of the year Marsala- a muddy brown-toned red. As the name suggests, this is very pigmented. It has a creamy moisturising matte formula that is long-lasting and doesn't dry out your lips.

Stila Colour Balm Sonya Swatch
Stila
Stila Colour Balm Lipstick in Sonya, £16, Beauty Bay
This is a lot pinker than my other picks, and sheerer too. It still has a muddy autumn tone to it though and I love this for during the day when I don't want a high-impact lip. It's a cross between a lipstick and a lip balm, so expect lots of lip nourishing benefits with the added colour of a lipstick. It contains Peppermint Oil to soothe irritated lips- perfect for when the cold sets in.

Which of these is your favourite?

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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

DESK & STATIONERY ORGANISATION WISHLIST

I know I'm not the only one to have a keen interest in storage. After watching Lily Pebbles' LA Container Store vlog and seeing Khloe Kardashian's pantry tour on her new app, there are so many storage solutions that I am coveting at the moment. I thought I'd share my current storage and container wishlist with you for organising my desk and my stationery...



I love the metal open-fronted stacking bins from Slingsby, as these would be perfect for storing all my different coloured notepapers in for easy access. I do love a nice handwritten note! Also, the plain white desk tidy from Ikea would make a great place to show off all my fancy pens.

Stickers are the best, and I have a constantly growing stash. The slim flat drawer organisers from Lakeland would be a handy way to group them into categories- labels, planner stickers, decorative stickers etc. I promise you I am not mad.

I also collect a lot of pretty notecards, but then hate 'wasting' one by having to write in it (does anyone else feel this?). The star print desk organiser from A Place For Everything would be a good place to keep them so I can flick through to find one to begrudgingly send to someone. A Place For Everything actually has a dedicated craft storage section on their online store. I need their ribbon storage hanger to keep all my washi tapes on- with this I can gaze at them all and get to them easily. 

Press releases and lookbooks are very helpful, but the hard copy ones are also the bane of my life. They get everywhere! Some clear literature dispensers (like the ones above from Slingsby) stuck on the side of my desk would be the perfect way to keep them all together in one place.

Finally, all those spare staples and roll of sellotape have got to go somewhere and this cute 4-tier stacking box from Habitat would be a visually attractive place to keep them.

Now you know all about my weirdness, do you want to be friends?

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Tuesday, 22 September 2015

AW15 70s BOHO TREND AT DEBENHAMS

Debenhams AW15 press day

Last week, I attended the Debenhams AW15 press day in Glasgow. Just a quick glance at the fashion displays told you what trend Debenhams were picking up and running with this Autumn/Winter- 70s boho (as seen on the catwalk from Burberry Prorsum, Matthew Williamson and Anna Sui). There is definitely the hippie element in there, but this season's hippies are doing their thing in rich and sumptuous fabrics such as suede and silk.

Nine by Savannah Miller AW15

Nine by Savannah Miller AW15 Duffle Bag

I am loving this look, and I fell in love with multiple items at the press day. Bang on trend is the new collection from Sienna Miller's sister. Nine by Savannah Miller just screams the 1970s with its fringing, feathers and fabulous fabrics. I love her khaki green duffle bag with beaded embellishments (£89). 

AW15 Fringing Designs By Faith

Faith are also a surprising winner on the accessories front this season- their fringed bucket bags (£65) are to-die-for, and check out those boots (£75)! I'm not brave enough for them to adorn my feet, but praise to those who do decide to rock them.


Dress- Red Herring, £32 | Gilet- Red Herring, £38
Top- Red Herring, £26 | Gilet- Red Herring, £49
Coats and jackets this season are, not surprisingly, predominantly of the faux fur and sheepskin varieties. Sleeveless ones layered over warm knits are going to be everywhere. You'll also notice that the colour palette is all part of the marsala family (burnt oranges, browns and muddy reds). As dictated by Pantone, marsala is definitely the colour of 2015. The dark orange tweed-style coat with faux fur collar (£59 from Red Herring) will keep you warm and stylish all through the next few months.

Red Herring, Coming Soon

Vintage floral and Native American Indian prints on light floaty silk and chiffon tops and dresses are everywhere too, and Debenhams' own brand Red Herring have produced some amazing pieces. I also love this orange floral print top from H! by Henry Holland (£35) and this deep pink one from Star by Julien Macdonald (£45). These are perfect for layering to get that classic 70s retro look, especially if they have a pussybow neck thrown in for good measure.

Do you like the 70s boho trend for AW15?

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Monday, 21 September 2015

RICHARD WARD ANTI-AGEING ARGAN 10-IN-1 STYLING SPRITZ

Richard Ward Anti-Ageing Argan 10-in-1 Styling Spritz

I've been trying out a recent addition to the Richard Ward haircare Chelsea Collection line-up and I wanted to share it with you. The Anti-Ageing Argan 10-in-1 Styling Spritz (£5.99 from Waitrose) launched in July and is a very useful multi-purpose spray product. The man behind the brand, Richard Ward, was even Kate Middleton's hairdresser.

This spray doesn't have the formulation I imagined it would before I tried it. I was expecting a mist, but it actually squirts out small dollops of a light cream, which you then have to toussle through your hair with your fingers. It is very strongly perfumed with a musky scent of Blue Agava and Cacao, which normally I wouldn't be able to put up with; however the fact that this has so many different styling benefits in the one product, I'm prepared to deal with it. Most people will probably love the smell, but I am very sensitive and fussy with scents.

Richard Ward Anti-Ageing Argan 10-in-1 Styling Spritz Review

You apply this on to damp towel-dried hair and it...wait for it... plumpifies, volumises, heat protects, bodifies, repairs, conditions, holds, smooths, de-tangles and de-frizzes. Its main ingredient is, of course, argan oil for its rejuvenating and repairing properties. It has made my hair extra thick and glossy after blow-drying, and I have been able to do away with my usual conditioner and heat-protecting spray when using this. It's a definite time-saver! If you want healthier-looking and more manageable hair quickly, then I would definitely recommend trying this low-price product out.

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Friday, 18 September 2015

GET BENEFIT COSMETICS' AIR PATROL DURING HOUSE OF FRASER BEAUTY CONFIDENTIAL

Benefit Cosmetics Air Patrol

Earlier this week, I was invited along to my local House of Fraser in Glasgow to check out what was happening at their latest Beauty Confidential event. House of Fraser run these public ticketed events several times a year during their Beauty Confidential promotional periods. There's champagne and goodie bags for ticket holders, as well as the chance to watch makeup masterclasses from major brands such as Lancôme and get great deals on products.

House of Fraser Beauty Confidential

The current Beauty Confidential period is running until Tuesday 22nd September, so if you are at a loose end this weekend or already planning a shopping trip, you know where to head. Basically, if you take one of House of Fraser's favourite beauty products (from the list above) to the till along with one of your favourite products not on the list, you'll get £10 off of the whole transaction. I wanted to share with you my pick of what to buy!

Benefit Cosmetics Air Patrol

Benefit Air Patrol Cushioned Tip

Benefit Air Patrol Swatch

If you are a Benefit Cosmetics fan, you need to check out their latest launch Air Patrol (£21.50, or just £11.50 with the Beauty Confidential offer, from www.houseoffraser.co.uk). This is a BB eyelid primer with SPF 20. You apply it with a soft cushioned tip, which can even suck product back in if you dispense too much! Air Patrol evens out the skintone on your eyelids, and helps any eyeshadow you put on top to really 'pop' and last all day. It also protects the skin on your eyes from sun and environmental damage, which is great as this is such a delicate area.

Have you bought any interesting products through House of Fraser's Beauty Confidential promotion this month?

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