Sunday, 28 February 2016

A Sunday Post / Three

Hey lovelies!
I'm back again with another Sunday Post, a mishmash rambling of what I've been up to over the last few weeks.

1. Even though most of the time the weather is horrible, we have been blessed with some gorgeous winter sunsets that I can't stop taking photos of. We took Daisy out for a walk after a particularly hideous day at work and it was lovely to clear the cobwebs.

2. I've not been getting enough sleep really and been burning the candle at both ends trying to cram everything in, so my skin has really paid the price. I'm hoping the products I mentioned as my must haves can help pull my skin back from the brink.

3. I do love nature in the winter, I'm fortunate enough to have some lovely surroundings where I can go for a walk at lunch time most days. I also travel a lot for work so when I'm in the car its nice to have something to look at.

4. I had a nice long weekend off last week where B and I went off to Staffordshire to help his parents move house. It's mad how much a place can evoke memories, I've only been about 6-7 times but I've always felt really comfortable and homely there, so I was sad to see it go. B of course grew up there so it's even harder. 
We took Daisy with us and she did amazing considering it was her first roadtrip. We went on a walk to a beautiful wooded area where I was taken on my first visit, and she loved it. 

5. The weekend in Staffordshire was lovely, if not busy, and then on the Sunday I caught the train to meet my Mum in Manchester for an overnight stay at the Hotel Gotham. I have blogged about this place before and had been dying to stay there! I'll be popping a post up over the next couple of weeks about our stay (for now I'll just say that one of their cocktails uses milk drained in coco pops - how amazing?!)

6. While in Manchester I ended up having a bit of a spending spree, which I hadn't planned on doing. I bought quite a bit from Zara which is one of my favourite stores, they had so much amazing new season stuff in. Primark was also pretty good, although I didn't buy too much from there this time. I could do a Zara haul if anyone would be interested in that?
Also, totes discovered a new fave drink. I'm a massive sucker for seasonal drinks, and I'm sure I'm like Starbucks/Costa's target customer! Starbucks new rose & pistachio mocha is the stuff of dreams.

7. I'm still trying really hard to keep fit I'm not really getting anywhere despite hitting my Fitbit target most days(maybe drinking sugary coffees doesn't help!) I really want to shift pounds by the summer and am considering slimming world, I keep hearing amazing things. I'm just really not happy with this flabby spare tyre I've developed lately. Add that to my spotty skin, and well, I'm looking a total dream! Haha :)

What have you been up to? I'd love to hear about it.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

The Oscars: Six Films To Watch

A bit of a different post for me this time, but with the Oscars looming this weekend, I thought I'd get into the spirit!
I'm a big ol' film buff, I absolutely love going to the cinema, or cuddling up on the sofa with a good movie and some snacks. Recently, I seem to have been able to indulge my love of film a lot and have managed to see several really good films over the last few weeks. 
And so here are my top picks from the nominations:

Bridge of Spies (141 Minutes)

I'm a big fan of Tom Hanks, everything he touches turns to gold. This isn't my usual type of film, it's a historical drama based during the Cold War, and is the true story of a lawyer who was entrusted to negotiate with Russia over the release of an American pilot in exchange for a Russian KGB spy the States were holding. It sounds a little heavy but it really isn't, my only criticism is that it's not particularly historically accurate (thanks Wikipedia!) but I guess they have to have a little artistic licence. 
6 Nominations: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Mark Rylance), Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Sound Mixing

The Danish Girl (119 Minutes)

This film is loosely based on the story of two Danish painters in the mid 1920's. Portrait artist Gerda asks her husband, landscape artist Einar, to stand in for a female model she's painting and while doing so it unmasks the realisation that he's identified as a woman all his life. He begins to dress as a woman and later undergoes sexual reassignment surgery. It's another amazing performance by Eddie Redmayne, but for me his wife played by Alicia Vikander really stands out and she deserves her nomination.
4 Nominations: Best Actor (Eddie Redmayne), Best Supporting Actress (Alicia Vikander), Best Production Design, Best Costume Design

The Hateful Eight (167 Minutes)

I love Tarantino films, he's one of my favourite directors, I just love the way he shoots film. This film is definitely on the long side, and it's also a tad controversial in parts (probably why Cineworld boycotted it) but personally I loved it. It's the story of eight strangers who seek refuge during a blizzard in a stagecoach stopover sometime after the American Civil War, and all end up somehow being linked to one another.
It's definitely a bit distasteful in parts (except as a Tarantino fan that's what I've come to expect from his films) but genuinely laugh out loud funny too, and Samuel L Jackson and Kurt Russell stand out for me.
3 Nominations: Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), Best Original Score, Best Cinematography 

The Revenant (156 Minutes)

I LOVE Leo and have done for his whole career. I was dying to see this film and I wasn't disappointed. It's very long and bleak (although beautifully shot, that scenery = wow) and gory in parts, but I was hooked. I was shocked to discover it was also based on a true story! Hugh Glass was a frontiersman and fur trapper in 1823 in Montana, and it details his struggle for survival and his determination for revenge on the man who killed his son.
The film is quite painful to watch, including the scene with a bear that everyone's heard of, and the fight between Leo and Tom Hardy is BRUTAL. But it's amazing and if Leo doesn't win an Oscar for this he may as well give up! 
12 Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Supporting Actor (Tom Hardy), Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Visual Effects, Best Film Editing, Best Production Design

Joy (124 Minutes) 

Admittedly, this is a strange one, It's again based on a true story, and is about a divorced mother who lives with her warring parents, competitive sister (and her ex-husband in the basement) who invents the Miracle Mop and becomes an overnight sensation and self made millionaire. The cast is brilliant, Jennifer Lawrence is so believable and watchable, and she's reunited with Bradley Cooper (who has a pretty small role) Robert DeNiro plays her father, and it's just a quirky, simple, lighthearted film. Especially compared to the other heavy films I've mentioned.
1 Nomination: Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence) 

Spotlight (129 Minutes)

Now THIS, is probably the best film I've seen so far, and I'll be surprised if anything manages to top it this year. This film is about the Boston's Globe's Investigative Journalism Team 'Spotlight' and their uncovering of the widespread child sexual abuse by the Roman Catholic Church. It's hard hitting, but so so gripping, I was hooked. Again it's a true story, and Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams are brilliantly cast. 10/10.
I hope this wins something!
6 Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo), Best Supporting Actress (Rachel McAdams), Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing

This post ended up being a bit epic! But this years Awards are shaping up to be good, and thats without all the amazing red carpet fashion too!

Have you seen any of these films?


Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Financial Fitness Goals for 2016

I'll admit it, I'm really not the best with money.
If there was a prize to be won for mad, irrational spending each and every month, I'd be the winner.
In fact, as Carrie Bradshaw once put it: "I've spent $40,000 on shoes and I have no place to live! I will literally be the old woman who lived in her shoes!"
But in fairness, there comes a time in all of our lives where we have to get smart about money, and for me, that's 2016.

I've set myself a few goals to better manage my money in 2016 and get my finances in shape.

1. Don't Spend More Than You Put In
This is really a no-brainer but the reality is that many of us live beyond our means. A sure fire way of getting ourselves into debt is spending more money than we have coming in each month.

2. Distribute Funds Across Different Accounts
I've learnt there's simply no point having all your money in one account, it's far more effective (and motivating) to have different accounts for different types of saving. 
For example, I have a current account, a savings account, a building society account, and I've recently taken out an ISA to save for a house. 
Arty studio apartment with windowboxes, be mine.

3. Set Up Standing Orders
I only recently left my cave and started online banking, and having access to apps has made me so much more organised with my money.
I no longer have to walk into a bank like the dinosaur I am to pay in money, now I can do it all from the comfort of my phone/laptop. 
My main goal for this year is to carry on paying into each of my accounts religiously every month to make sure I actually am saving, which is why I've set up standing orders.

4. Save, Save, Save
My ultimate goal is to be able to actually afford to buy somewhere of my own, without having to do so jointly. This year I'm working hard on saving (but obviously also still spending, we can't expect miracles) to make that dream a reality. 

5. Pay Off Outstanding Loans
One thing I'm eternally grateful for is that I've never racked up too much in the way of loans. 
I do have a student loan that I'd really like to pay off so I can put the money I'm spending into one of my savings accounts instead.

I was challenged to share my 2016 financial fitness by Credit Card Insider, a comprehensive resource helping the younger generation make wise financial decisions. 

Do you have any money goals for 2016?


Monday, 22 February 2016

Lush Haul - Winter Additions

It's been a little while since I had a good old Lush haul, and I've noticed I seem to have them seasonally (i.e. I only buy once in the Spring, Summer, Christmas etc) and so I guess this February one is classed as a Winter haul.
Anyway...these are the recent beauts I've picked up and can't wait to try:
(apologies for the photos but there just aren't enough hours of natural light in the day!)

This is my first kitchen product (I know, where have I been?) and I happened upon this one by chance while I was browsing online. As it was a special Valentine's edition it's no longer available, and I'm really looking forward to giving it a try and seeing how the kitchen products measure up.

This has been on my wishlist for a while, it just looks so pretty and i'm in love with how colourful the water looks on the website! Hopefully it won't be a let down as some of the very hyped products are. It's got quite a strong, unusual smell and I'm looking forward to trying it.

I absolutely adored this when they were released last year and I've hoarded one for a whole year just in case they didn't re-stock them! But thankfully they did and I just couldn't wait to get my hands on one again. I must admit I think they looked prettier last time, but it's still one of my favourite Lush products.

I've heard so many good things about this bath bomb, the reviews are amazing and it seems to be getting a bit of a cult following, I always love giving new products a try and this is one I keep looking at in store but never actually buying.

For quite a while now I've been wanting to try a few more Lush hair products as I always seem to stick to bath bombs and shower gels, I've had Big and Marilyn and loved both, and as I have the most dry, frizzy hair around lately, I shopped around and thought this sounded good. It's quite pricey compared to some products so I really hope it's as good as it sounds.

I was lucky enough to receive the Love & Kisses giftset for Valentine's Day which I can't quite believe, so I'll be doing a full review of that soon!

What do you think of my Lush goodies?


Friday, 19 February 2016

Skincare Products That Work For Me

Hi lovelies!
My skin is something I've always struggled with, and I've battled with acne since I was a young teenager.
Because of this, I've tried and tested hundreds of skincare products in my attempts to find something that works for me, and finally now years later my skin has started to improve (although its far from perfect) and I think I've finally managed to hone my stash down to a couple of products that really work for me.

Growing up I always loved The Body Shop, but as I got older I found myself drifting away from them, in particular their skincare. I tried this cleansing butter after recommendations, and I love it. It's so thick and creamy, and I apply it on top of my make up before bed and I feel it literally melt off. I usually use a hot muslin cloth to remove all traces, but it can also be used without.

I'd never heard of Liz Earle until a friend at work recommended it to me, and initially I loved it and it went a huge way in clearing up my skin. I still think it's a fantastic product and my skin always feel amazing after using it, but because of the price its something I only treat myself to now and again, I don't use it continuously, much as I'd like to.

I've raved about Naobay numerous times on this blog, and I only discovered it through subscribing to Glossybox. I love how the products are completely natural and paraben free; this one contains camomile and gotu kola and smells gorgeous as well as making my skin feel really fresh and clean.  

As I mentioned before, I really like Liz Earle products but I don't buy them regularly. I've had this exfoliator for quite a while now and it's my favourite out of all the ones I've tried (although I also love St Ives which is more affordable), its gentle and really makes my skin feel like I've shed a layer.

This is one of the most recent additions to my skincare regime, and I recently wrote a full review on it. I have (in my opinion) huge pores and this is helping to minimise them slowly, as well as gliding onto my skin and smelling amazing. I use this before my moisturiser and it just soaks in instantly. The only downside is the price, but I use it quite sparingly so hopefully it'll last me ages.

I absolutely love this moisturiser, because I have quite sensitive skin it really seems to agree with me, whereas a lot of moisturisers don't (Liz Earle for example) it's the perfect blend of nourishing but light, and makes my skin feel soothed rather than aggravated. It also contains aromatherapy essential oils which makes me drop off to sleep easily after using it.

Have you tried any of these products?


Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The Kinmel Hotel & Spa

I love my Mum dearly, and like a chip off the old block I've inherited her love of mini breaks, so when looking for a Christmas present for her, what could be more perfect than a spa day?

Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis will have noticed that I'm partial to a spa break, and the Kinmel Hotel & Spa (also known as The Kinspa) looked lovely, and is only around an hour away from us.

As I mentioned, this was a Christmas present, but we didn't go until last weekend, which actually made it nice to have something to look forward to. We were advised to arrive around 12pm so we would have time for our lunch as well as several hours to use the spa. This worked out perfectly for us, and after a quick tour of the impressive facilities and a change into our robes, by 12.30 we were sitting outside under the heaters, looking out over the gardens and waiting for our first course with a drink in hand. Bliss.

The offer we had was really good value for money and also included a two course lunch in the hotel's Thai restuarant, Chiang Mai. We were also given the choice of afternoon tea, but we were really pleased with our choice because our meal was absolutely delicious.
My Mum is allergic to shellfish and the staff were really attentive with her, going through the items on the menu with the chef to make sure nothing contained anything that might give her a reaction which was reassuring. We both opted for the Vegetarian Spring Rolls to start, and I had the Thai Green Chicken Curry with a strawberry smoothie, while my Mum chose the Sticky Thai Beef and Mango Salad washed down with a glass of prosecco. Both meals were fantastic, so much so that we decided to go the whole hog and also order a dessert - we both had our arms twisted by the Coconut Creme Brulee recommended by the waiter.

After we finished our lunch, we headed down to the spa for an afternoon of relaxing. I didn't take my phone with me for obvious reasons, so I took the below photos off their website. In all honesty I doubt I'd have been able to do it justice as it was without a doubt the nicest and most impressive looking spa I've ever been to!

The spa facilities are very modern and luxurious, with mood lighting surrounding the pool, and a tunnel leading to a hydrotherapy pool in the open air. The steam room and sauna are state of the art, as are the drench showers.
After we had happily whiled away a few hours, we headed upstairs to the Tranquility Relaxation Suite which was filled with loungers and blankets, magazines, a selection of hot and cold drinks and large windows overlooking the countryside. The room is also completely soundproofed so it's incredibly peaceful. 


At the end of the day I didn't want to leave, we'd happily have stayed overnight and all the next day too! 
It was a lovely way to spend the day and have some quality girly time with my Mum, and we both left feeling relaxed and pampered. We didn't have a spa treatment this time, but I'm sure we'll return and hopefully have one next time.

Are you a fan of a spa break?

Monday, 15 February 2016

Finding The Perfect Workwear Pinafore

I love pinafore dresses and have been on the lookout for ages for the perfect one. 
I just love the way they look, they can easily smarten up a plain long sleeved top, and are both smart and casual, depending on what you team them with.
When I was browsing through ASOS a few weeks ago, I came across this gorgeous one from First & I and I absolutely love it - it feels smart enough to wear for work, but also comfy and casual enough to not make me feel tooooo overdressed. I love the soft ribbed fabric, and it comes to just above the knee. At £20 it's definitely a purchase I was happy with, made all the more sweet by the fact that I hated myself in everything else I ordered! This dress is ideal for the office.

I sometimes find workwear a tricky one, and working in a mostly male orientated office I often find it hard to balance feminine with professional. This dress does the job perfectly, and I think for now I can call off the pinafore search.

Have you bought anything from First & I?

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Glossybox / February Review

Love is in the air...
Happy Valentine's Day!
It's the day of lurve, and Glossybox have definitely come up trumps with this month's box, filled with 5 goodies to get you feeling pampered and ready for a night of romance, whether it be with a loved one or just showing yourself some TLC.

MUA Power Pout Glaze Low Voltage Gloss

I wasn't overly excited when I first saw this as I'm not a big fan of lipglosses, but having said that this is pretty nice, I like the shade and I'm a fan of MUA in general. This was a pleasant surprise!

Nicka K New York 24hr Waterproof Eyeliner

Eyeliner is my desert island make up essential, but I mostly only use it in my waterline as I just cannot do a decent flick! This is described as being perfect for painting on a cat eye, and it is nice and precise, although me being generally cack handed doesn't help! I like the fact this is brown as it's a nice change for me, and a bit more subtle for everyday. 

The Vintage Cosmetic Company Floral Slanted Tweezers

These are possibly the prettiest tweezers I've ever seen, and I'm actually quite sad I won't be getting much use out of them as I get my eyebrows waxed and really hate plucking them. They are lovely to look at though, and ideal for those in-between waxes stages.

Wilkinson Sword Intuition Razor

I'm really pleased with the addition of this product, I think its fab. I love the fact this razor has a creamy soap to moisturise the skin prior to shaving, which will hopefully avoid pesky cuts and rashes!

Naobay Protective Hair Mask Volume Condition

I absolutely adore Naobay products and they are one of my favourite beauty discoveries. I've loved all the products I've tried from the range and was excited to try this, and it didn't disappoint. I really like hair masks to help soften my hair and give it a bit of TLC, particularly as I have such dry, frazzled ends.

Hope you all have a lovely Valentine's Day, whether you're single or attached!

What do you think of this month's box?

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