21 September 2015

Beside the lake, beneath the trees...

There's really nothing better than switching on your 'Out of Office', leaving work behind you and taking a long visit to a beautiful place. That's exactly what I did last week and, by gosh, was it needed. Sometimes you can be so entwined in the day to day goings-on of life that you don't realise how anxious and wound up you're feeling (well, actually, I did know. I feel permanently stressed at the moment, but that's another story). So there really wasn't a better time to take a few days off and enjoy what England has to offer. 

I love the Lake District. For one reason or another, there are always those places that make their way into your heart and never really leave. The places that make you wonder 'What is it like to actually live here, is it as wonderful and magical as I think?' (the answer, unfortunately is probably no). I'm like that with Paris as well. I've never been (I WILL one day) but it has a special place in my heart, full of whimsical notions of baguettes in my bike basket, strong coffee sipped whilst catching up on today's news in a quaint little cafe by the roadside and delicious, juicy Steak Frites with a glass of good French red. 

I digress - The Lakes. What beauty they behold. The sight of vast lakes against the wondrous backdrop of steep mountains, formed millions of years ago, seemingly for us to enjoy and revel in. It's all I can think when I'm surrounded by hills and mountains: 'Just think how these were formed. I find it astonishing! The world crashing together and forcing up great mounds of earth; a small knock compared to the bigger mountain ranges, but magnificent all the same.' 

I've been to the Lake District a few times, my mum even lived and worked there in her younger years (I think that adds to why I love it so much), and each time I enjoy it more and more. There's not much shopping (unless you love a good mountain-wear shop), but there are some lovely restaurants around (Villa Positano in Bowness-on-Windermere and The Lighthouse in Windermere to name a couple) as well as, of course, some magnificent walks. The main one we did this time was up Wansfell Pike. It's not the biggest summit in the Lakes (that's Scafell Pike) but if you take the road from Ambleside, up Wansfell and carry on around to Troutbeck and circle back to where you started, you're in for a visual treat as well as a good workout. 

I'd recommend the Lake District to anyone, especially if you've never been before. I live in a relatively flat part of the UK and sometimes forget that these sorts of places exist in the UK. We're always looking for somewhere more exotic with the biggest hills, the brightest skies and the warmest sunshine to get away to, but sometimes it's those places close to home that can mean the most. 



26 March 2015

Meet The Kittens


Everybody loves a bit of fluff, right? So I thought I'd share the newest addition to our household; meet Victoria Sponge and Battenburg. We adopted these two beauties from Cats Protection at the beginning of February and I am in love! I haven't had cats before but the boyfriend has and I've always wanted a feline friend, so when we saw these two sisters on the website we just had to go and see them. We weren't decided whether to get one kitten or two, I would have been happy either way, but now that we have both of them I couldn't imagine it another way. They love to play together and it's good because they keep each other company whilst we're at work. 

They were both abandoned in a cardboard box when they were very little, and so they had been in the care of cats protection for about three months by the time they went up for adoption. They were riddled with worms and fleas and had generally not had a very good start to life, so as soon as we went to see them and they were both being a bit timid, we knew they had to be ours. 

They've been with us for about five weeks now and are totally settled in, in fact Sponge is currently sat right next to me on the sofa as I write this, looking very content indeed. There have been a couple of trips to the vets since with Sponge as she has had a few issues with her teeth, but we're glad to say that it's nothing serious and will her teeth will just need a good clean every year or so. 

If you're thinking about getting a kitten but are unsure, I would say go for it! They are so easy easy to look after, just a bit of food, a bit of cleaning up after them and that's it (apart from the cream carpets needing hoovering a lot due to their being black)! 


These two pictures above are of Victoria Sponge, Sponge for short. She is the bigger of the two and was the most outgoing from the outset. The first to go out adventuring and definitely keen for a nibble on your fingers, she's the more independent of the two and is happy for a cuddle and stroke, but only on her terms!

Favourite things: Dreamies, nibbling your toes in bed, running away from you in the morning because she wants you to chase her!
Dislikes: the hoover

The next three pictures are of little Battenburg, or Berg for short. A little petite kitten who is full of love! She stayed in the carrier that we bought her home in for about four hours, at which point we had to evict her because we didn't want her getting used to it. The following two weeks involved her running to the nearest hiding place, which was under a chair in our lounge, and rarely being seen. She has come on leaps and bounds though, and is now keen for an adventure and a play with her sister. She is really affectionate and loves a good stroke of the head.

Favourite things: licking your face in the morning to get you up, investigating things, eating!
Dislikes: being picked up





Do you have kittens or cats? Tell me about them - I am a converted cat woman! 

P.s. Apologies for the overload of animal photos. Normal service will resume. 

23 March 2015

How are the New Year's Resolutions Going?

Back in January I, like everybody else, wrote about the new year's resolutions that I am hoping to keep this year. In order to try and stick to these I've written them on my fridge, written about them here, got them on the notes in my phone and promised myself I would do a monthly update on how they're doing. 

Well, as you can probably tell, I already failed at one of those by not posting this in February. Whoops. But alas, February is a short month so that's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it. Let's recap what the resolutions are:


Number One: Be More Productive 
Now, I actually don't think I'm doing too bad at this one. This wasn't just about blogging more, it was about doing more with my time off instead of just watching YouTube videos (anyone else guilty of that?). Don't get me wrong, many an evening has been spent working our way through 24 (SO GOOD) but I have also been using my time to do other things. Tonight, for example, not only am I writing blog posts, but I also have home made granola baking in the oven. How much more productive can you get? 

I also baked Mother's Day Biscuiteers inspired biscuits (if you haven't seen their website then you should go. Now.) which took pretty much an entire Saturday (you can see the result of that here). Oh, I also forgot to mention we got kittens at the beginning of February so they've been taking up a lot of my time being generally adorable as well. 

So, I mean, I haven't been finding the cure to cancer or anything, but that's ok. 

Number Two: Cook more from cookbooks
Technically not me doing this, but mainly because I get home later than the boyfriend from work, but we have been pretty adventurous with our food which is great. Cooking is something I love to do and if I had more time in the week I definitely would. It is still a goal I need to work at. 

Number Three: Do one new thing every month
January I went to Prague with my four best friends which was amazing. Please take me back. In February - does getting kittens count? It's a difficult one to judge because everyone does new things pretty much every day, so whether I count the big things or the small things it depends. I can't think of a big thing off the top of my head for February, or indeed March, but I think that's just because my head is filled with other things at the moment. And I can smell burning granola. 

Number Four: Read 50 books
Now, I really have failed at this one so far. As in, I haven't actually read a single one. Terrible. Terrible. Terrible. I think I mentioned 24? Watching it until we really have to go to bed and then falling into a coma as soon as head hits the pillow - not very inductive to reading. Need to work on this ASAP and nourish my mind. 

Number Five: Get at least two rooms in the house completely finished
This is a work in progress, we have actually chosen paint colours so that's a step forward. Now we just need to buy it and then, you know, paint the walls or something. I'm confident this one will be achieved but it's not something that's going to happen overnight. 

Number Six: Learn to play five songs on the Ukulele 
Errrr. Yeah. 

So there we go, a bit of a recap and a chance to assess my progress. I actually thought I was doing better than I actually am before I wrote it down. It's ok, it's only March (23rd - oh god) so there's still a pretty good chunk of time to get all of these done before Auld Lang Syne is sung across the land once again. 

Tell me - how are you doing with your new year resolution?

26 February 2015

How your garden grows...


Since moving into the new house, I've really wanted to start growing our own herbs and, eventually, vegetables in the garden. I went down the whole cactus route (they've been very popular recently, haven't they?) and I love these, but obviously there's not much you can do with a cactus apart from look at it. So I wanted to start growing some herbs indoors that we can use in cooking.

I'm not overly green-fingered, but I am really looking forward to getting the garden sorted out when the weather allows, so for now some cute pots in the windowsill more than suffice. The pots we bought were from a local garden centre, but I'm sure that these are available from other places, or if not, something very similar. The pots came with the necessary seeds and compost so all we had to do was follow the simple instructions and Bob's your uncle! After about 5 days we saw shoots coming through the basil and chives, the parsley took a little longer but we now have some healthy stems popping up. To be honest, this is as much about the growing process as it is actually using the herbs, and I have definitely found that I am genuinely excited to check them every couple of days to see how they're getting on! You know you're getting getting old when herbs excite you!

At the moment our garden is just mud filled with rubble left by the builders so that's great. We decided not to get it turfed as we've decided to go for more of a courtyard style garden with paving and maybe some decking, with lots of pots and maybe some raised beds around the side. If any of you have any tips or tricks when it comes to choosing great potted plants that don't require a great amount of upkeep but add a nice amount of colour/texture, then I'm all ears.

I'm sure I'll be updating the blog with pictures and progress over the coming months so keep a look out!

22 February 2015

Clinique 'Hefty Highlight'


There has been a lot of talk about this and its contouring counterpart, Curvy Contour, since it was announced that Clinique were going to be releasing them. Part of the sculpting duo, the highlighter is a creamy, almost pink pearlescent highlighter to use along cheekbones, as an eyebrow highlight, collarbone highlight etc. I've used a few of these before, most notably one from The Body Shop which I have had for (far too many) years but that I just find myself reaching for time and time again because it gives such a beautiful, dewy but not shiny sheen to the skin. The Body Shop one leaves the skin feeling slightly tacky, which generally I don't mind but sometimes I find that this can go slightly patchy on my skin, so I was hoping from the Clinique one that it would be a slightly less tacky finish.



Luckily, it still manages to give a beautiful sheen to the skin, slightly less so than others I have used, but doesn't feel sticky and adds a beautiful glow. I, as well as many others, am always looking for the ideal set of products to create that barely-there, glowing from within skin look, and having combination to oily skin, this can be difficult. Often times when I use products, say a BB (CC, DD, EE blahblah) cream that is meant to look dewy and healthy, I just end up looking like a grease ball (or at least feeling like I do, people do often say I look nicely dewy but I just feel oily) and having to powder away any sheen I did have. At the same time, I'm not the biggest fan of powder highlighters as they are no where near as natural and I just haven't found one that can really achieve that same look as a beautiful creamy highlighter can do.This one is definitely so far so good. I find that it lats all day, even when I'm at work from 8.30-6, and I find the colour very flattering on my pale skin. I'm not sure how it would look on b=more tanned skin as it is definitely quite pink, but I would certainly recommend this if you're on the lookout for a new highlighter. 


As for the contour I haven't yet managed to get my hands on this as it was sold out when I purchased the highlighter and I haven't yet had a chance to pop to any others. I definitely want to give it a try though so I'd love to know your thoughts if you've got it. I am quite pale and the swatch I tried in store did seem pretty orange but I'm sure with enough blending it could look beautiful. I bought mine from Debenhams and it costs £19. Let me know your thoughts!

19 February 2015

A Healthy Kick-Start


As part of my new year's resolutions (and probably 75% of everybody's) I want to be a bit healthier. On the whole I would say I've got an OK diet. I don't drink fizzy drinks, eats packets of crisps or eat sweets and chocolate everyday, but I could definitely learn some better portion control and overall feel a bit happier with my diet. I've always liked a good herbal tea, so when the opportunity to try the Boo Tea 28 Day Teatox I jumped at the chance.

Now don't get me wrong, I know that simply drinking 2 cups of tea a day isn't going to make up for that entire pizza you eat...but every little helps and so I thought I'd share my boo-tea experience with you!

First things first, taste. Absolutely lovely and nothing off-putting at all. That is is you're used to drinking both mint and green tea. The day-time cleanse honestly just tastes like a slightly more interesting green tea, not overly sweet, not overly bitter, just tasty and easy to drink. The night-time tea has a slight minty taste to it - think peppermint tea - but there is a bit more 'earthy herbalness' (I know they are not words) to it. Still very easy to drink and, even if you weren't a big herbal tea drinker, I'm pretty sure you'd get used to it pretty quickly. 

Now for how I felt it went. Well, with the night time tea, you drink this every other night for the 28 day period as this does has an 'affect' the next morning. This is most certainly TMI but hey, this is what a detox tea is all about right! So yes, night-time tea every other day and you will feel really very cleansed the next morning, but don't worry, there's nothing worrying and you won't be running to the toilet! The main factor leading to this as far as I know are the senna leaves which are a known diuretic (seriously TMI). 

The day time tea is drunk everyday for the 28 days and, whilst it doesn't have as much of a noticeable affect as the night-time tea, you still feel good drinking it and I'm sure they work really well together. In terms of weight loss, I don't currently own a pair of scales so I couldn't tell you, but I do feel like my stomach is flatter and generally feel good having done it. Unfortunately there won't be any before and after pics in my post, I'm definitely not body-confident enough for that, but I would certainly recommend this if you want something to give your healthy eating an extra boost!

Have any of you tried the Boo Tea Teatox? Let me know what you thought of it below! 

12 February 2015

Home Inspiration

I mentioned in a previous post that towards the end of last year I moved into a new home with my boyfriend and it is my mission this year to get at least two of the rooms in the house completely finished. Now, we were going to start on the lounge pretty soon and already have paint swatches and mood boards going on, but at the moment it seems like we never have a free weekend to even begin thinking about putting plans into action! As far as creative inspiration goes, I think I have a more clear idea of what I want the home aesthetics to be (although maybe he does too but I just don't let him get a word in edgeways!), and here are just a small handful of the images that I've come across through numerous trawls of Pinterest and interior blogs. 


1. The colour scheme and shelving here are what drew me to this particular set-up. The all-white palette with a little bit of green coming from the plants looks fresh, clean and still interesting. 


2. How much do you LOVE this? I was particularly drawn to the poufs because the geometric pattern really brings interest to an otherwise very simply room. The shelving again is absolutely stunning and beautifully dressed and the dark wood side table is perfect. 


3. Can you see a trend running through here? Love the tree, love the pop of blue in the cushions and love the rug. This is just perfection. Also, I love the penguin cushion. 

Which is your favourite? Do you like this sort of interior styling? I'll keep you updated on how we end up doing our living room and I hope it will turn out something like any of these! Have a great day!

17 January 2015

Review: Nip and Fab Glycolic Fix Pads

Of all the beauty and skincare products that I've tried in the past year, this is the one I would recommend time and time again. I love Nip and Fab as a brand and can definitely say that everything I've tried from them so far I have really liked. These Glycolic Fix Pads, however, are something else. I use them every morning and evening (may be a little excessive but it seems to work for me) and they leave my skin glowing, smooth and with significantly reduced pores. When used everyday they have dramatically improved the overall texture of my skin, eradicating any of those annoying slightly bumpy patches that I sometimes get on my chin a couple of days after exfoliating. 




My skin is normal-combination and not particularly sensitive and I don't find that they sting at all or feel too tingly, in fact I do find them quite soothing on the skin which is most likely thanks to the 'blue daisy' ingredient which claims to soothe and calm. Obviously if you are prone to sensitive skin it may be worth looking around for some more reviews of these to see what others have said about them. 

They are pretty affordable, you get 60 pads and they normally cost £12.99 at Boots (they are actually on offer at the moment with 1/3 off, but they're sold out online so get down to your local Boots ASAP!). So if you use them once a day they'll last you two months, or if like me, you use them twice a day they will last you a month. It might seem like quite a lot of money for something to only last a month but really that's only 3 or 4 trips to Starbucks that I am sure is easy to skip ;) 

I would whole heartedly recommend these pads to anyone looking for a quick and easy way to get refreshed and brightened skin in a swipe. Let me know if you've tried these and what you thought of them! 

p.s. Apologies for the shoddy photography here, I haven't quite gotten into the swing of taking pictures again yet. I will find another prop that isn't a cactus for my next one.

12 January 2015

Brilliant Books To Read This Year

I read quite a few books last year and read some absolute stunners, but below are a few of my absolute favourite reads of 2014. I'm hoping to do a lot more book reviews this year, so let me know of any books that you would highly recommend. 


I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith

My favourite book of 2014. It follows the story of two young girls, sisters Cassandra and Rose, living in beautiful, if slightly dilapidated, Godsend Castle with their father, Mortmain, mother-in-law, Topaz (an eccentric hippie who was a great secondary character), their younger brother Thomas and their house-helper, the handsome young man Stephen.  The story is not overly fast-paced, but I like a slow read and this one just managed to really touch me. There were a couple of paragraphs in particular, towards the latter end of the book, that I adored and bookmarked...

"Once I got used to the idea of being alone by 
myself for so long, I positively liked it. 
I always enjoy 
the different feeling there is in a house when 
one is alone in it, and the thought of that 
feeling stretching 
ahead for two whole days somehow 
intensified it wonderfully."

The main story follows older sister Rose who becomes romantically involved with the wealthy heir to the castle when he comes from overseas to visit. There is romance, some twists and turns, as well as an abundance of love, compassion and a truly relatable plethora of feelings. I recently read a review of this book on The Guardian that said the below, and I absolutely agree:

'This book was such a wonderful, enchanting and unpredictable read that by the end of it I felt like I almost was Cassandra'. Perfect.


The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood


A recommendation from Jean @ Bookishthoughts on YouTube. She speaks with great passion for her love of Greek and Roman myths and legends, and studies the classics at university (possibly doing her masters now if I am correct?). She's got an easy to listen to Scottish accent and you can tell she just loves reading. Definitely go and check out her channel if you're into books at all. 

She recommended this book for some more easy reading from her favourite subject, and it was fantastic. This tells the story of Odysseus' travels after the Trojan War, but from his wife Penelope's perspective as opposed to his. Atwood, with her usual stunning writing, gives Penelope a magnificent, feisty and entertaining voice - it's a brilliant read, especially if you know even a little bit about the original myth. 

There is also a chorus of singing maids who were, in the original story, hung for their part in the myth and who tell their side of the tale in an interesting and fun way. This book is humorously written, interesting and easy to read. I would highly recommend. 


We Have Always Lived In The Castle, Shirley Jackson


How beautiful is this book cover? This is a Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition and is absolutely stunning in real life. Written by Shirley Jackson, an author renowned for her creepy, dark and often sinister fiction, We Have Always Lived In The Castle follows the story of Merricat and Constance, living in Blackwood Castle. Merricat offers a slightly unhinged narrative throughout as the heart of the story is revealed and the reason the neighbours of the nearby village are so hostile towards them comes to light. 


Merricat, Constance and their Uncle Julian have, over the years, developed rules and routines that enable them to feel safe and protected, however, with the arrival of a distant cousin, Charles, things at Blackwood Castle turn awry. The end of the book is filled with a dramatic final few scenes and you are left feeling thoroughly disturbed and unnerved. Definitely give it a go if you like a mystery full of suspense and a slowly developing plot. 

Let me know if you give any of these a go. Do go and look for some reviews on t'interwebs because Lord knows I'm not great at describing books. 

I hope you had a great Monday!

N.B. I would not recommend reading I Capture The Castle and We Have Always Lived In The Castle at the same time, or even near each other. I made this mistake and found myself getting the two mixed up. They are both stories about sisters living in a castle. Just a heads up.

7 January 2015

Goal Number One

My list of new year's resolutions is ever growing at the moment. As soon as Boxing Day is over I always want the new year to be here and to clear away the detritus so we can all start afresh with renewed enthusiasm, and this includes compiling some, probably unachievable, goals for the new year. I have already written six of these in the post below, and already have another to add to that list...


I want to be kinder. I want to be more mindful of people and of people's feelings and I want to stop judging people or jumping to conclusions about people before I know or understand them better. This is a goal I will achieve this year. I will definitely need some sort of book or app to help me do this so any recommendations would go down well. I'm not an inherently horrible person, not at all. I think if you asked people who knew me they would say I was kind, or at least nice, but I know I could be kinder and more giving. Sometimes I say things, even to my friends, that just kind of come out of my mouth before I've really processed them (my girls from uni, my best friends, will know what I mean if they're reading!). Whenever this happens, and someone takes offence or things I'm being short or cold, I can honestly say I never intend it to come out that way. 


I want to stop this happening and be more aware of what I'm saying and how I'm saying it. But it's more than this as well, I want to change my thinking. I admire people that appear to get along with everyone, can easily strike up a conversation and are always accepting. I do think that having the natural ability to do these things is a big part of it, but I'm sure that this can be learnt too. I am not sure that this is a quantifiable goal, in fact I'm sure it isn't, but it is one that I think I'll know if I achieve or not. 

I'll keep you posted. 

6 January 2015

GOALS

Number One. Be More Productive.

Number Two. Cook more from cookbooks. Jamie, Nigel, Mary, Tom.

Number Three. Do one new thing every month. January - going to Prague. 

Number Four. Read 50 books. Minimum.

Number Five. Get at least two rooms in new house finished completely. 

Number Six. Learn to play 5 songs on my ukulele. Part of being more productive. 

5 January 2015

A BRAND NEW START



Dear World,

What a fantastic thing having a blog is. It has been a year and a half since I last posted on my blog, and yet it has been on my mind almost every day since. What a strange thing this is. A blog is not a living thing, technically, it does not speak to you or comfort you, and yet it feels like something that is there in the back of your mind, waiting with open arms until you're ready to come back, ready to start writing and speaking and sharing. 

It is one of my biggest goals this year to BE. MORE. PRODUCTIVE. In the past two years I have developed a habit of being very unproductive. I watch YouTube videos any time I have a few minutes, or hours, to myself. I find it hard to remember what I even used to do without YouTube? I love watching them, and I won't stop altogether, but I need to use my time more wisely. This is where my blog comes in. I used to love blogging and it became something I was very proud of. It will probably never be the biggest, the best, or the most well subscribed, but it is something I have done and it allows me to be creative. 

I still love beauty and make up. I've worked for BareMinerals and Liz Earle, as well as working in the fabulous Liberty of London with the best beauty hall out there. Beauty will always be my biggest passion. I also love books. Books have become more and more important to me in the past year. Sometimes I do go through phases, maybe a month or two, when I won't read, mainly due to being too busy (genuinely, I've moved three times in the last year and a half and started three new jobs - I'm indecisive) but I have increased my collection and have discovered, in particular, two incredible books that have stayed with me since reading them. Books are something I am very keen to incorporate more into my blog, books are beautiful and inspiring and I hope some of you will think so too.

A revamp is in progress, but as I am sure you know, this can take some time to get it perfect and I wanted to get a post up today. TODAY. But please know that Duck and Egg will be coming back with a new look very soon.

Everyone says it, not everyone does it. This is the start of good things. I will remember exactly how I feel NOW and use that feeling to make this blog into what I want it to be.

I hope to see you here throughout 2015.