Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Spending Ban - January - April 2013

Twelve Little Rules to live by....

So I need to get saving some money.  I'm planning two potential holidays and they simply won't happen if I keep living my current lifestyle and spending like an idiot (how many nail varnishes do I really need?).  

My ban actually started a week ago but shall run until April and then I'll take stock, see what I've saved and re-evaluate.  Hopefully by then I'll have enough to get my train/plane fare sorted and feel like an adult with some proper savings for once.

The Rules:

1. Will not buy anything I don't need, be it shampoo, body lotions, make up* etc (if I run out completely that's fine, but I will have enough to keep me going for quite some time).

* aside from the Archie MAC collection where I shall have a little splurge.

2. No new books - I realised quite shamefully that I have yet to read around 50% of the books I own.  I have enough to keep me going!

3. No clothes until I've reached my desired weight and most importantly NO PYJAMAS.  No matter how cool/cute/snuggly they are.

4. No red wine (I have quite a habit) unless I've been invited to a house party and then I can take a bottle.  

5. No DVDs/Box Sets - again I have enough to keep me going.  I've not even started Dexter Series 1 nor the set I got for Christmas.  And in the meantime, I've unfrozen my Love Film account to keep me going.

6. No meals out each week - another waste of money that could be saved and not good for the waistline.  I shall instead have 1 cheat night a month where I can make the most of it.

7. Concentrate on my guitar lessons and yoga, reading, writing and generally things I can do indoors that won't cost me money.

8. Make the most of working in London and visit all the art galleries and museums that I can - free AND cultural (I kicked this off last week with a visit to the Saatchi Gallery).

9. Save a set amount each month (on top of the savings from all the stuff above) and not use it as an excuse to have a pot to 'dip in and out of'.

10. No magazines - I have books I need to get reading and magazines are not helping me be constructive (and show me pictures of things I convince myself I need).

11. No Pret/Itsu/Pod/EAT lunches - I shall be making and taking my lunches to work.

12. No homewear buys for the sake of it - only things I really need, nothing decorative!

If I think of anything else I'll add it in after - these rules are to share with you guys but also to act as a reminder about what I need to focus on and why.  

Anyone else having a spending ban?  Would love to hear about it.

(Image Source: Blunt Card)

Monday, 28 January 2013

NOTD: OPI Liquid Sand

My friend Kat and I had a day out to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford (blog to follow later in the week).  I wanted to choose a nail varnish the would fit the occasion (yes, I am that sad) and I decided on this.  OPI's Liquid Sand in 'Stay the Night'.

Initially when I tried the first colour in the set I wasn't won over, but this shade has done it for me.  It's a charcoal black and hopefully you can make out the little red sparkles - it reminds me of embers in a fire place.

(Stay the Night)

Rather than buy the bigger bottles that OPI do, I always get the mini set they bring out with each collection.  This one comes with the four colours from the Mariah Carey range (why they chose Mariah I have no idea, but there you go).  The shades include a bright blue 'Get Your Number', a bright purple 'Can't Let Go', a red 'The Impossible' and as above 'Stay The Night'.


The varnishes weren't as matte as I was hoping and most people have commented 'ooh love the sparkles' which wasn't what I was hoping for.  I think if I want that truly matte effect I'll have to plump for the Nails Inc Concrete.  But these Liquid Sands have great staying power and take a lot of effort to chip.  Of course the removal isn't much fun but they last for a while and look great.  All in all I'm glad I didn't go for the full size versions but for a little play around now and then they are perfect.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Urban Decay - Oz Palettes - UK Release Date

I almost spat my wine out!! I have just read from a very good source on Twitter, that the Oz Palettes will be released next week.  In case this was some sort of cruel trick, I headed over to Debenhams and sure enough, found this beauty of a picture and the confirmed release date of 29 January:

(Photo from Debenhams - Release date 29 January)
As mentioned in my previous post there are two palettes:

Glinda Palette:

Tornado - a vibrant deep purple shimmer
Aura - 2 in 1 shades: iridescent white with blue and iridescent white with red
Magic - Pinkish purple
Illusion - Pale Peach
Oz - 2 in 1 shades: Gold with gold glitter/Silver with silver glitter
South - Warm pale grey shimmer

This set also includes a super-saturated high gloss lip in 'Glinda' and a travel size eye pencil in a deep eggplant colour.

If the bad witch thing is more your style there's this:

Theodora Palette:

Broken - a pale cream satin
Beware - Warm brown
Bewitch - Dark charcoal brown
West - Deep metallic brown
Spell - 2 in 1 shades: black satin with green/gold shimmer and gold metallic
Jealous - 2 in 1 shades: pale green and dark green

This set also includes a super-saturated high gloss lip in 'Theodora' and a travel size eye pencil in black.

So which set will you buy?

I might just have to flip a coin.  Either way I'll post up more pics when it (they..... *cough*) arrive.

Photo sources: Debenhams/Temptalia

Benefit High Flyin' Glosses - A Review

This was a treat for myself before Christmas which I have shamefully just opened (a spending ban will certainly make you take stock of what you've got).  The box set contains mini versions of the Benefit Lip Gloss Collection, which were brought out to be perfect partners for their collection of Powders.  I'm a sucker for packaging so of course these won me over right away.

Whilst the colours are lovely, the staying power of these glosses isn't great.  You certainly couldn't drink and eat and expect them to still be in place.  There isn't much pigmentation in the first 3.  I call theses 'sheers' and they have a light glittery finish.

(Left to right: Dandelion, Sugarbomb, Hoola)

The final 3 below have a stronger impact colour wise, but even on the lip they don't leave that block colour look.  They would be perfect for summer and I expect I'll get more use out of them in the coming months.  My particular favourite being the Coralista.

(Left to right: Coralista, Dallas, Bella Bamba)

If you are looking for a lip gloss with a nice stain then look elsewhere, but if you want something light and love that sticky lip gloss feel, then these are perfect.  Plus extra points simply for the cute tubes.

Note: I'm realising quite quickly what bad lighting I have in my house and promise to take better pictures and dig out my proper camera, in time for my next posts.

Take care all x

The Liebster Award - and the nominees are...

So the Liebster Award - what on earth is it, I thought to myself??  So I googled it, with pretty big ideas/dreams in my head.  I've only ever been awarded a colouring book for winning at 'Simon Says', back in the dark ages, when I was a young un.  So thank you to Hannah for nominating me and making me feel like an Oscar Nominee for just one day (I used to have such dreams)!

Please check out Hannah's blog (http://www.trustinvogue.blogspot.co.uk/), I'm loving reading it and was especially pleased to see that she's a Leeds girl (I worked in Leeds years ago, before moving down South).

So, the Liebster Award - what is it exactly?

The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers, a kind of pat on the back and encouragement to those who have less than 200 followers and might be thinking 'why am I doing this'?  This award shows them that people are indeed reading.  Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest and so on.

So what are the rules to the award?

- Answer 11 random facts about yourself
- Answer 11 questions from the person who nominated you
- Nominate 11 new or newish blogs and make 11 questions for them to answer

Here are 11 random facts about myself:

- When I was a little girl I ran away from my mum in a crowded place, only to be rescued and returned by the actor Oliver Reed (may he rest in peace).
- I'm a Bee Keeper in London.
- I can't stand it when people half mix tomato ketchup with mayonnaise - the sight of it makes me heave.  In fact just writing about it sets my teeth on edge.
- I've lived in 26 different houses.
- I have a growing issue with pets (currently I have 3 cats, 1 dog and planning the next).
- I have shamefully never passed my driving test (I just can't do it!).
- When I was very young I had a crush on Kenneth Williams.  I was devastated when I found out that not only was he gay (I never stood a chance) but also that he was dead (kind of puts an end to things).
- I'm a secret Gamer (PC Games, X-Box - love them).
- My favourite book EVER is The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.  Every woman (and even the men!) should read this.
- I love trashy TV, particularly 'Revenge' and 'Made in Chelsea' but my major love is horror movies.
- I once had a date with (read: we 'made out' in a bar in Leeds - classy) one of the cast of Emmerdale - but the name of who it was dies with me (it's too humiliating to admit).

As requested, here are my answers to Hannah's questions:

1. What's your biggest fear?
Losing my teeth (a recurring nightmare of mine)
2. What's your lifetime ambition?
To travel the world - a common one I know, but I live to travel (I'm slowly getting round to visiting all the places on my list).
3. Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years time?
Much older - depressingly so.
4. Chocolate or Sweets?
Today? It has to be Chocolate.
5. If you had to take an object with you to a deserted island, what would you take?
Egyptian Magic Cream
6. If you had the opportunity to claim lots of money but lose your blog, would you do it?
Depends how mercenary I was feeling on that particular day - but today, I'd keep the blog.
7. Who inspires you?
My lovely friends
8. Do you prefer Summer or Winter?
Winter - I'm in my element right now!
9. What's one item of clothing you can't live without?
10. Would you rather be famous, or the best friend of someone famous?
Never famous (despite the imagined Oscar win)
11. If you could, would you go to the past to see your ancestors, or would you travel to the future?
Without a doubt I'd have to go back to the past - and find out where it all went so wrong!

and my 11 questions to my nominees are:

1. What's the most embarrassing thing that's happened to you?
2. Dogs or Cats?
3. Your house is on fire, what do you grab?
4. What book are you currently reading?
5. Best beauty buy of 2012?
6. What's top of your ambition list for 2013?
7. What is something you do differently than others?
8. What are you most grateful for?
9. What is your favourite childhood memory?
10. Who is your biggest style crush?
11. Would you rather be Dorothy or the Wicked Witch of the West?

Thank you to all the people who are following me, read my blog and especially to those that post - it's appreciated much more than you know (although I'm sure you do know).

My nominees: (apologies if you do happen to have more than 200 followers, but I'm new to this and slowly building up the blogs I follow) - I only wish I could nominate everyone, but here are my 11:

Samuel - www.samueljamesmorris.com
Ellie - www.thebeautycave99.blogspot.co.uk
Libby - www.cherrytruth2.blogspot.co.uk
Isabel - www.blondieslens.blogspot.co.uk
Heva - www.hevastyle.blogspot.co.uk
Helen - www.fragile-bird.blogspot.co.uk
Sophie & Olivia - www.12tea-cups.blogspot.co.uk
Jill - www.alittlesoapbox.blogspot.co.uk
Rebecca - www.florencefinds.com
Alice - www.ahandfulofalice.blogspot.se
Louise - www.swirliciousbeauty.blogspot.co.uk

Happy blogging to all! x

Friday, 25 January 2013

Recent Home Buys & Spending Ban

For a while now I've been planning a spending ban.  I've armed myself with a book on how to stop shopping/spending like a mad woman (it may seem obvious to some, just don't buy stuff! But I'm from the school of 'but I need it' and 'just this last thing and then I'll stop'), a budget planner and a strong will to use up all the beauty products I've convinced myself I need (no more until they are all gone).  I will then be able to save for the holidays I plan on taking this year.... I hope.

Anyhoo, before this ban was in place (as of today, Friday 25 Jan, until say March (or whenever MAC see fit to release the Betty and Veronica range in the UK)) I bought a couple more home buys.

Big project this year: revamp my home.  Photos up, as and when it's finished.

So here are the latest additions:

As mentioned, I love things with animals on, so obviously I couldn't  resist these.  By the way, if you are concerned (as is my husband) that my house is going to start resembling an Ark, then you would be completely right.

The cushion is a soft suede and around 42cm x 42 cm:

(Tiger Kitty Cushion - Culture Label/Ohh Deer.com)

The coasters -also from Culture Label:

Anyone with any recent home buys to share, I'd love to see them (animal related or otherwise).

Take care x

Magnesium Flakes - A Review

WOW! What a bath!

Recently, since starting the Harcombe diet I've been reading a lot about nutrition and in particular how your body absorbs, processes and uses vitamins and minerals.  Sadly it seems I've been lacking in some essentials so after a bit of a Boots haul to stock up on vitamin C/zinc, garlic tablets and omega 3 fish oils I then started reading about magnesium.

The main thing that piqued my interest with magnesium is how having the correct levels can treat insomnia and whilst I've been sleeping better on this diet (bye, bye Nytol) I still struggle from time to time with waking up in the night.  I also suffer from anxiety and it appears magnesium is also beneficial for this.  The fact that magnesium can also help with ageing of the skin (along with many other things) is a big bonus.

I've read that eating lots of leafy greens and nuts is a great source of magnesium but taking a supplement can also help (of course go steady with this).  As I'm in danger of rattling I looked into transdermal magnesium (basically absorbing it through your skin).  As the skin is our largest organ it's recommended that we bathe in it!

So - I found these in Libertys (they are also available on Amazon) and gave them a try tonight.

(Bag O'Flakes)

(Handful of the flakes)
Directions: Run a bath and drop in roughly one cup of the flakes.  Wait for them to dissolve and dive in.  It's that simple.

How do I feel?  Well, I want to give it another couple of baths (it's recommended you have 1-2 magnesium baths a week (and avoid using shower gels and bath products with parabens in, in the meantime) however, after my first try I feel as if I am floating on a cloud.  I always take hot, hot baths (not great I know) so I'm used to feeling slightly tingly afterwards, but this feeling is something very different.  The best way I can describe it is I feel icy tingles all over my skin, it's very pleasant and relaxing and I feel very peaceful and almost floaty.  Roll on bedtime, I have a feeling I'll be sleeping well tonight.

(Important note: I am not a dietician nor am I a nutritionist   The views above are based on research I've done in various books, on the web and my own personal view about this particular product alone.  Any concerns, always consult your doctor)

Sunday, 20 January 2013

OPI Oz Collection (and Urban Decay)

As if I couldn't be excited enough about the MAC Betty and Veronica Collection I now find out that OPI are doing a collection inspired by the upcoming movie 'Oz The Great and Powerful'.  The movie alone is enough to give me dry mouth (it's got James Franco in it for crying out loud) but check out the photos I've sourced from the net, below:
(Must own them all)
(The complete collection)

The collection comprises 3 glitters, a liquid sand and 4 creams.

Then to tip me over the edge I discover that in Spring 2013 Urban Decay are bringing out two make up pallets, based on Theodora (a dark collection) and Glinda (a lighter collection):




Are you a Theodora or a Glinda kinda girl?  Or can a woman be both? (I certainly like to think so).


(pictures sourced from fashionmagazine.com)

The Harcombe Diet Phase 2 and Me Time

This weekend I devoted some much needed me time to myself.

I've been on Phase 2 of the Harcombe Diet for over a week now and I really needed a weekend where I could avoid the temptation of food and to also have that perfect excuse to catch up on my new Made in Chelsea Box Set (I'm obsessed) and catch up on sleep.  I struggle with sleep but since starting this new way of eating, it's slowly becoming something that I find much easier.  Just goes to show that what you put in can affect you much more than you realise.  I've not been an angel - I've had a couple of bottles of nice red wine which you are allowed (ok, they say in moderation but I've never been good at that where red wine is concerned) but even with this, I haven't cheated once food wise and I'm feeling quite smug.  I'll do another weigh in shortly and report back on how it's going.

I've recently purchased some exciting cult beauty products which I'll be reviewing in upcoming posts (pic of one, below).  I shall also be undertaking a spending ban for February and March, as I've more than enough stuff to get through and I'm desperately trying to save money for a flight so I can have a good holiday later this year.  My excitement for the upcoming ,MAC Archies Girls' range is palpable and I need to get stashing some pennies aside so I can pretty much help myself

(One of the products I've bought and shall review soon)

Watch this space.... and take care x

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Pressies from Kat - Plus Reviews

Had lunch today and a long overdue Christmas present swap with my friend and fellow blogger Kat (www.talesofapaleface.com).  We decided to set a budget and knowing full well what each other loves this is the result:

Top Shop Socks (Penguins)
Diptyque Mini Candle (Feu de Bois)
Lush (Sandy Santa Scrub)
Aromatherapy Associates - Sample Bath Oils x 3 (Revive, De-Stress, Relax)
Top Shop Polish (Mercury Rising)
Babycham Set (with glass)

I am one happy lady!



I'm a massive Diptyque fan, have been for quite some time.  This candle is my current favourite.  A deep,  smoky, woody scent that is reminiscent of camp-fires   I shall be keeping it by my bed and burning it each evening.  A good tip that I've learnt is the glasses can be reused once you've finished.  Either for tea lights or as pretty little storage jars.

Aromatherapy Associates:

(The Little Mermaid)

I used the 'Relax' (above) in my evening bath (Ariel joined me, pictured above floating in the oil).  The smell spread throughout the whole of the downstairs of my house, it was quite a delight.  A really heady mix of Lavender and Ylang Ylang.  I used the Lush scrub also and my skin feels smooth as silk, no need for a body lotion tonight.  I'm looking forward to trying the rest of the oils out.

Top Shop Varnish:

NOTD: Mercury Rising.  OK, I know I should use this as a top coat with another polish but I fancied just trying it out on its own.  As usual the photo doesn't do it justice as the glitter flakes are a mix of black and amber and a lighter coloured beige.  It only took two coats to get a relatively even coverage and I'll be keen to see what it looks like on top of another varnish.

Lush Sandy Santa:

Never one to wait, I used this tonight.  WOW!  I forgot how much I loved Lush products.  Now this is what I a call a scrub!!  Not one of those namby pamby ones you get with little bits floating around in a mainly liquid base.  This was a full on sandy/sugary/salty scrub which had that familiar lush smell, which really took over the bathroom.  My skin was pink when I'd finished (I might have gone too far) but it felt smooth as glass.  As this was a seasonal product I will have to ask the staff for an equivalent.  Highly recommended.

Babycham Set:

Last but not least - I'll be adding this glass to my Babycham collection - now all I need is a little deer and I'll be in vintage heaven.

Thanks Kat xx

Sunday's Pyjamas - Cath Kidston

These Pyjama bottoms were a Christmas present from my mum and she got it spot on.  So far as I know they don't do a matching top but I do wear these sorts of things on a Sunday when I'm relaxing, reading or catching up on the week's TV.

I'm not a massive fan of Cath Kidston but there is the odd thing here and there that I fall in love with, including these:

Apologies for the slightly blurry pictures.  The Pyjamas themselves come up quite short in the leg - this isn't an issue for me as I'm only 5ft 3 but for you taller ladies, they would be rather cropped.  They are however, super soft and I shall be relaxing with some guilty pleasure TV viewing, in these little beauties.  Who can resist teeny cowboys?


Phase 1 Complete - Weigh In

I completed Phase 1 of the Harcombe Diet on Friday and began Phase 2 Saturday morning.  I celebrated with fruit, 85% dark chocolate and a lovely creamy curry (all Phase 2 friendly of course).  It was an exciting day.

But let me share with you the good news - after 5 days of following the plan to the letter, I am pleased to report that I've lost 8lbs.  Yes, that's not a typo, 8lbs! I am still in shock and more spurred on than ever to continue with my new way of eating.

I've just come back from a Sunday lunch at Pizza Express where my friend and I exchanged long overdue Christmas gifts.  I had the chicken salad and a glass of red wine and I wore my jeans which a week ago didn't fit. Happy days.

Here's to Phase 2 and continued weight loss.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Phase 1 - The Harcombe Diet

Tomorrow will be my last day of Phase 1 on The Harcombe Diet.  Whilst it's restrictive, thankfully it only last for 5 days and I've found it much easier than I thought I would.  My sugar cravings were particularly intense yesterday and all I could think about were giant slices of cake, but I soldiered on and drank plenty of water and woke up this morning feeling much better.

Phase 1 cuts out all sugars, even the natural sugars found in fruits and processed carbs.  The list of foods you are allowed may be varied but for someone like me, who isn't exactly a whiz in the kitchen I found this quite difficult.  Vegetables are unlimited (except for mushrooms, you can't eat these), salad vegetables are again unlimited and you can eat as much meat and eggs as you like.  You are advised to stick to 3 meals a day however, with a snack in between if you genuinely feel peckish. 

Condiments are out, so no salad dressings as mostly these will contain sugar, even mayonnaise is out despite the fact this diet doesn't limit fats, for Phase 1 you are limited to Natural Yogurt (the full fat type, not the fat free).  I've lived on chicken salads with a yogurt dressing and mostly eaten bacon and eggs or omelettes for my dinners.

I'll be weighing myself on Saturday to mark the end of Phase 1 and as I enter Phase 2 a whole world of foods will open up including fruit, cheese, cream, brown rice and pasta, potatoes, the odd bit of 85% chocolate and best of all red wine (I'm a red wine junkie) although in moderation of course.  I'm going to struggle with that bit!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Best Home Buys this Month

Two things I've bought for my home this month which I had to share with you.

The first beautiful item is this amazing Silver Glass Pineapple from Rocket St George.  It was love at first sight and I spent 2 months on the waiting list before it came back into stock.  One of my projects this year is to revamp my living room and this is going to take pride of place... er, somewhere. But I had to have it.

The second is just something little but once again, I fell in love.  I bought this coral glass from Zara Home.  I'd originally planned to get 6 of them for my cocktail bar, however, the glass is quite thin and I imagine simply dropping an ice cube in would shatter them so I bought the one and decided to keep it on my bedside table, with my little trial sample products in (and where I can stare at it and sigh contentedly).

(Under the Sea)
I'd love to hear about what home buys you've fallen in love with - I'm always looking for more inspiration.

Take care.

NOTD: Essie - Ballet Slippers

I have a nail varnish addiction and have only just started using Essie.  I'm very impressed.  This colour isn't my usual thing as I'm more into brights but I couldn't resist the name (the names are always a big pull for me).  I had to apply 4 thin coats to get an even coverage and please excuse the yellowy light in the photo, the finished effect is much whiter looking. I am however, very pleased with my purchase and after a heavy day of using a keyboard, no chips!  Which Essie colours do you love?


MAC - Archie's Girls

I could not be more excited about this one - browsing the web I discovered that MAC are bringing out a new collection entitled 'Archie's Girls'.

Anyone who was a fan of these comics growing up (I might be giving my age away here) will share my glee.  They'll be available in the states soon and in the UK a little later (if what I read is correct).  I cannot wait to get my hands on anything they have to offer.  I was always a Betty fan myself. Anyone with more information? I'd love to hear it!


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The Harcombe Diet

DIET ALERT: One of the things I'll be posting about regularly on my page, is my attempt at the Harcombe Diet.  To sum it up this diet cuts out sugars and processed foods and I'll keep you posted on my progress.  This might be my 150th attempt at finding a successful way to eat, after falling off the wagon too many times to mention.  Since my wedding, just over two years ago, I've gained a fair bit of shall we say 'comfort weight'.  Another resolution this year (and one of the most popular ones) will be to lose it.

Day 2: So far it's a cake walk (cake!) - I'll post when I have something exciting to report.

In the meantime, here's a picture of the book for those who may not heard of it.

(Real Food)

First Pyjama Purchase of the New Year

The best way for me to start the New Year, is with the purchase of Pyjamas (or in this case a new nightshirt).

My best friend and I popped into Top Shop, after roaming Oxford Street looking to spend some money and she homed in on this gorgeous nightshirt. One thing about me - I'm a sucker for anything with an animal on and she knows it!  I was at the checkout in minutes and a few hours later relaxing in bed in this bad boy. I like to buy a few sizes bigger so it's more of a night-tent but it's so very comfortable and the cotton is really thick, so should withstand many washes without looking too old.  Highly recommended, if you love you sleepwear as much as I do.

(Werewolves of London)

First Blog - A Test

A little test to see if everything is up and running and little photo of my cute dog for good measure.