Monday, 27 October 2014

HUGE haul - Primark, Topshop and Next

I rarely get time to shop these days, so a couple of hours being let loose yesterday resulted in a serious spending frenzy. I started in Primark - the only way to go in that shop is first thing in the morning, when it's still empty and stocked up on hangers, pyjamas and slippers. I was especially proud of the slippers - cosy toes - but all of the items were pleasingly Christmassy. Last year, I made the huge mistake of not buying the items when I first saw them. I didn't make the same mistake twice. Red tartan and reindeers ruled the shopping basket. Very pleasing indeed.

I also picked up a kilt, a Christmas jumper (obviously - and it plays music. Classy) and a Frozen t-shirt. Eldest daughter is soon to be having a Frozen-themed birthday party, so I thought I'd better join in. I also picked up a few hair turbans - good presents - and another pair of cosy toes for my sister, living in Japan and therefore probably Primark deprived. 

The Christmas candles were also piled high on the shelves, so I choose the winter berry one to try. If nothing else, the tin will look nice when the candle runs out. 

Following my epic session in Primark, I hot footed it to Topshop. My student discount is in the final few weeks, so I need to be making the most of that - the black skirt and the mint tunic are both sparkly and spot on for the forthcoming festive season. 

Finally, I need some boots for all these new clothes I've bought. I really wanted some over the knee boots and these ones from Next are an absolute bargain at under £60. 

Now, all I need is somewhere to go...

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Review: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser

As I get older, my skincare routine is increasingly important to me. I'm not going to lie: I've gone from a very badly behaved 20-something that regularly fell asleep with all full face of make-up to someone that's almost addicted to the double cleanse in the evening. 

I picked up this La Roche-Posay cleanser when we were in France, mainly because I'd forgotten to pack my usual cleanser. I hadn't used anything from La Roche-Posay before and I didn't really know what to expect. 

I tend to use either oils or balms for the first step and then micellar water - so the consistency of this cleanser was somewhat unexpected - it's a very light lotion - almost milky. I wasn't sure how much dirt it was really removing until I went in with the micellar water - there was almost nothing on the pad. 

Massaging the cleanser onto your face is really very therapeutic - it smells very fresh and almost makes your skin 'glow' - it feels radiant when you've finished. I personally use my muslin cloth to remove any residue that's left, but you can just pat it dry - it doesn't need to be rinsed apparently. I'm never too comfortable what that approach - I need to get rid of it to assure myself the dirt has been removed. But whatever works for you. 

I've also subsequently found out this brand is particularly effective for sensitive skins. I don't have sensitive skin - but I absolutely love this cleanser. If you've got any other recommendations from La Roche-Posay, do let me know. 

It's currently on offer at Boots - get it while you can. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Review: Tarte lights, camera, flashes statement mascara

I'm always jealous of people that have really long eye lashes. This includes my one year old son, who seems to have been particularly blessed in that department. Although I have flirted with eye lash extensions, that is a lengthy, tedious process that ultimately only looks good for about a week before they start to fall off and generally get itchy. Not a great look.

So, when a mascara promises to ''lengthen, curl and magnify for an intensified look proven to increase lash volume by 752% instantly', it would be rude not to try it. (And, yes, I know that length and volume are not the same thing, but anything has to be better than nothing...)

The brush is surprisingly short and, well, sparse - I was expecting something a bit fuller to produce these 700% better lashes:

Tarte tells me (via the website, not in person) the brush is 'custom-engineered' and 'dual-molded' to boost even the skinniest lashes. I'll be honest, I wasn't that optimistic. But, and it's a big BUT, I was wrong. I'm guessing that because the brush is fairly sparse, it means it doesn't clog up on way too much mascara - thus blissfully avoiding the dreaded clumpy look. We all know what I'm talking about. Two coats and bingo - much longer looking, more volumised lashes. I have no idea if it's 752% more volume, but it's definitely an improvement, and that's enough for me.

Best of all, this lasts all day, doesn't flake and doesn't give me panda eyes in the afternoon. And as an added bonus, the provitamin B5 (a derivative of vitamin B) helps treat and lengthen the lashes. Allegedly.   

This version isn't waterproof, but it does take a decent eye make-up remover to get it off at night. Possibly that's the beeswax - but given that ingredient is supposed to naturally stimulate collagen production, I'm not going to complain. 

If you're in the US - you lucky things - get yours here, but if you're in the UK, you'll have to settle for the 4-1 version - that's next on my list to try. Let me know if you do first. 

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Another year older...

My kids were definitely way more excited about my birthday than I was. But, you do have to embrace their enthusiasm - it means nothing to them that I'm crashing beyond the wrong side of 35. And, I have to admit, their enthusiasm was infectious. 

I was very well looked after - and the presents weren't bad either! The in-laws outdid themselves: a KitchenAid? Seriously, I didn't think we'd have one of those for years. And someone else who knows me well gave me the Bake Off cook book. Rest assured the KitchenAid has already been put to good use - and no doubt more on that will follow!

I got a few treats from the fantastic Hamman range at Rituals. And Mr. M outdid himself - flowers, a Longchamp bag and a session with a personal stylist (admittedly I think he's still compensating for the now infamous accidental donation of my entire wardrobe to charity).  

All this, combined with a family dinner and Sunday lunch with friends all made for a very enjoyable time indeed. I'm almost looking forward to next year. Almost. 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Courgetti - taking the 5:2 world by storm

Courgetti - or coodles, as The Londoner calls them - is taking the world by storm. Or, probably more accurately, it's impressing anyone on the 5:2 diet as a tasty alternative to pasta that has very few calories. It's a winner. 

(Admittedly, that might not be the case if you don't like courgette. But then, who doesn't like courgette?)

Today was a fast day, and I had 300 calories to play with for dinner. This ended up not even being close - a mere 205 calories. Now, you can't complain at that. 

To recreate it, you'll need (for one person):

1 courgette (40 cals)
1 small onion (6 cals)
1 slice bacon (65 cals)
1 garlic clove (4 cals)
1 tsp olive oil (40 cals)
1/2 can tinned tomatoes (50 cals)

Start by frying your onion and garlic in the olive oil. When translucent, add the bacon and fry for a couple of minutes to colour.

Add the tinned tomatoes and season. Bring to a simmer.

While the tomato sauce is cooking, prepare your 'courgetti'. For this, simply wash your courgette and then use a julienne peeler or spiralizer to create the ribbons. I use this one for the job. You'll be left with a whole heap of courgetti:

When the tomato sauce is cooked, add the courgette and heat through. Don't be tempted to over cook it - it won't take long, especially if you're like me and like it to have some bite (or be al' dente if it was pasta). 

Absolutely delicious, and a real fast day winner. On a non-fast day, I might add pesto and cheese. Yum. Either way, it's so good it definitely won't be restricted to fast days. Try it!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Beauty review: Kiehl's Micro-Blur Skin Perfector

I've been a convert to primers ever since I discovered Garnier's Perfect Blur - it basically smooths out the skin and works wonders on those pesky pores. And while in my post-pregnancy state, Garnier's Perfect Blur was working wonders, more recently it's not been reacting so well with my skin. In fact, it tends to form a bit of a film, which is very unattractive.

Enter Kiehl's Micro-Blur Skin Perfector. As you'd expect, Kiehl's bill this product as skin care, rather than make-up, because it includes lipo hydroxy acid, bark and lentil extracts that apparently will refine pores and lines over time. I can't attest to that, but I can tell you that the water-base means it skins into skin without creating a clogged-up feeling.

It also is made with hydrating glycerin and has a smaller content of silicon polymers than many other primers - again, all good. On me, it doesn't look like much on its own - and certainly doesn't have the same impact as Perfect Blur (which makes a massive difference on its own). BUT - and it's a big BUT - the real difference is after you've applied your foundation. It obviously creates some kind of based that significantly improves how the product sits on my skin. It is brilliant - and easily as good, if not better, than Perfect Blur. 

Moveover, it feels much better on the skin - and that can only be a good thing. It costs £23, so more expensive than the Garner one, but it's worth it - and if the long-term skin care claims are correct then all the better.