Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Space NK Goodie Bag: Favourite Discoveries



A few of months ago, I made some purchases from Space NK, and was lucky enough to receive one of their summer goodie bags along with my order. Every time I see these promotions on, I'm desperate to get my hands on them, but usually I can't justify spending an unexpected lump sum on beauty items I potentially don't need in order to get them. This time, however, it fell close to my birthday, so I took it as a sign and went ahead.

This particular goodie bag was jam-packed with around twenty iconic products, most of them in luxury sample size, and a few of them have slowly but surely made their way into my daily routine.

The best of the bunch is undoubtedly the ReVive Moisturising Renewal Cream - a rich, hydrating moisturiser, this hasfast become a bedtime staple, ensuring that I wake up with smooth and radiant skin in the morning.  This contains Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF), a revolutionary, Nobel Prize-winning ingredient exclusive to ReVive, which gently resurfaces and retexturises the skin as you sleep. I must admit, the effects of this little gem, as with many products, do seem to have diminished somewhat with time - the 'wow' factor  is never quite the same after those initial few uses - but that hasn't stopped me reaching for it on a regular basis. It has a pleasant, almost buttery fragrance, and is rich in consistency to the point that it feels like a real treat for the skin on application.Sadly, at £105.00 a pop for the full-size, this is not one that's going to be making a lasting appearance in my routine, but I've enjoyed experimenting with it, nonetheless.

If you're anything like me, you'll find that your eyes are the first part of the face to give away your age, so I was pleased to try out the Strivectin Eye Concentrate for Wrinkles. This little tube of goodness claims to fade fine lines and wrinkles in just eight weeks, so I am very much looking forward to finding out whether or not it can truly live up to its claims. In the meantime, it's pleasant to  use, sinks in easily and moisturises the under-eye area well. Again, this is a pricey one - £55.00 for the full 30ml. I'd be very reluctant to repurchase at this price, but if it really does the trick then I could more than likely be persuaded.

I've also been using the Caudalie C15 Polyphenol Anti-Wrinkle Serum, usually before my night cream before I go  to bed. You may notice a bit of a theme here - perhaps I'm feeling my  age. Dubbed the 'Anti-Oxidant Youth Shot', this product aims to block free radicals and visibly correct wrinkles. Now, thankfully I don't have many visible lines on my face just yet, so I imagine this might have more of an impact on more mature skin, but I enjoy knowing that there is an extra barrier beneath my moisturiser, protecting my skin from pollutants and other external aggressors.

Last up is my favourite bedtime companion. I'm a worrier by nature, and often find it hard to switch off for a long while after my head hits the pillow. Luckily, the This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray is now very much a part of my life, and you'd better believe that it does the trick. A couple of sprays of this delicate, lavender-fragranced miracle-worker and the stresses of   the day begin to melt away - I'm drifting off into a peaceful sleep in no time, and rarely wake again as I used to. It's a definite repurchase from me, even at £16.00 for the full-size.


The Space NK goodie bags are such a fantatsic way of discovering new products. Have you stumbled across anything spectacular from any of the previous selections?

xx

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Summer Holiday: Playa d'en Bossa, Ibiza

At the beginning of August, the other half and I jetted off to Playa d'en Bossa in Ibiza for a week of fun, sun and relaxation. Yes, it is indeed nearly October, but having been struck down with suspected glandular fever  straight after coming back, I've been out of action for some time. Better late than never, eh?

We had decided to go all-inclusive for a change, as we usually find  keeping tabs on our funds to be such a burden when trying to get away from it all and have some chill-out time, Money is, without a doubt, one of our biggest stressors in day to day life, so to be able to leave our wallets behind each day and eat and drink whatever we pleased without the worry of running out of funds half-way through, or coming home with a big bill to pay, was bliss.

The hotel we stayed in was beautiful. A newly refurbished four star, it turned out to be a great deal more impressive than it had appeared in the photos - a huge plus, as often it can be the other way round. There was a huge pool with chilled house music playing throughout the day, and we were more than happy to laze around soaking up the rays and making the occasional trip to the cocktail bar to grab ourselves a couple of Mojitos or Coco Locos. Lunch was served in the main restaurant, with plenty of delicious dishes such as traditional Spanish Paellas and salads on offer - not to mention the to-die-for desserts.

Afternoons were spent reading, then taking a dip in the sea, as we were fortunate enough to have direct access to the beach through a gate at the back of the hotel property. The water was crystal clear and the temperature literally couldn't have been more perfect, so it was the perfect time to cool off a bit before heading along the beach for a drink and a dance at the iconic beach club Bora Bora, or Jet Apartments, which was just next door.

Speaking of beach clubs, our hotel was located just a couple of minutes walk from Ushuaia.- if you've ever been to Ibiza before, or even thought about it, then you'll know all about this place, which puts on some of the biggest and best nights on the island - think David Guetta, Armin Van Burren and Avicii, We popped along ourselves to see Guetta and suffice to say he put on a pretty darn good performance. It was by far the best night out we had while we were away, but drinks prices were beyond ridiculous - worth considering if you're ever thinking of going!

Anyone who heads to Ibiza would be silly not to pay the beautiful Eivissa, or Ibiza Old Town, a visit. There is plenty to see and do, with pretty little streets lined with flower-adorned restaurants and shops and beautiful sea views - not to mention the lovely Spanish architecture.

Most people I know who have been to the island before seem to have stayed in San Antonio, but I'm so glad we chose Playa d'en Bossa. From what I hear, San Antonio is cheaper, but also a lot rougher, whereas where we were had just the right balance - we were close enough to a strip of bars along with famous nightclubs such as Space and Sankeys, but were also able to get some peace and quiet when we wanted it. In fact, writing this is making me ridiculously nostalgic, and I'm really tempted to go ahead and book us in again for next year! Let's skip these dull days and wintery mornings and head straight for next Summer, shall we!?


Have you been to Ibiza? Where did you go on your Summer holiday this year?

XX



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Summer Skincare Essentials



For me, Summer is all about August, and while many people around me now seem to have already resigned themselves to the fact that Winter is supposedly drawing in, I very much beg to differ!

Ok, so things might have cooled down somewhat, but last year we had sunshine right the way through until the end of October, and then some. Call me a wishful thinker if you like, but I think we've still got plenty of sunshine to come, and having only just finished this year's summer shopping I'm not willing to go digging out the Winter boots an coats just yet.

With this in mind, I wanted to share some of the skincare products that have been helping me through the warmer months - and incidentally, those which came away with me on holiday to Ibiza this month. I like to keep my skincare light and fairly basic at this time of year, while still maintaining a functional routine, but there are certainly a few types of products I tend to favour that I'd be unlikely to reach for in the winter. That said, there are also one or two surprises.

Ordinarily, I stick to a cream formula cleanser when the weather is good and I'm wearing less makeup than usual, as I find them to be highly effective at removing what I have got on my skin as well as leaving a fresh, clean canvas with no oily residue. Balms can be a little heavy for Summer, but this year I have kept right on going with the Ren No.1 Purity Cleansing Balm, and haven't looked back. This is one formula that is a pleasure to use, removing every last trace of makeup as well as soothing and moisturising skin after it has been assaulted by the likes of sunshine, salt water and sand. What I love about this one is that it leaves my skin feeling unbelievably soft, smooth and comfortable, all without that undesirable waxy residue that so many of its kind leave behind. It's a real winner, and it serves me equally as well in the Winter.

One thing I simply can't live without in the Summer- or perhaps just refuse to - is a facial spritz, and this year I've been carrying The Body Shop's Vitamin C Energising Facial Spritz around in my handbag. It's been an absolute life-saver during those uncomfortably humid afternoons in the office, and a quick spray over my face and neck has really helped to pep me up. The uplifting citrus scent awakens the senses, and makeup is instantly refreshed - what more could you ask for? It also provides a welcome shot of vitamins and moisture, and I tend to use it to wake myself up a bit first thing in the morning, straight after my cleanse.

Some days, I don't fancy using a moisturiser before bed, and a couple of drops of Raw Gaia Organic Cold Pressed Rosehip Oil* are the perfect alternative. Far from leaving my skin sticky or greasy, it sinks easily in, and packed with beauty-boosting vitamins A and C, along with essential fatty acids Omega 3 and 6, it certainly has the desired effect. As well as rejuvenating and nourishing the skin, I find that, when used a few times a week, my complexion appears more even and altogether brighter. It's also great for reducing unwanted pigmentation, so it's a must if this applies to you.

I'm keeping face masks and treatments to a minimum, as I don't find that my skin is quite as needy as it is in the winter and tends to do OK when left more or less to its own devices, satisfied with a minimal morning and evening routine. That said, I will whip out a secret brightening weapon from time to time, and that weapon, of late, has been the Apivita Pomegranate Face Mask. A light radiance mask, it's lotion-like on texture, and only a thin layer is required. Leave it for ten minutes, and hey presto - you've got your glow back. Granted, this is more of a 'keep your skin happy' mask than a problem fixer, but if you've got that happy medium down to a tee then this is your perfect partner.

Of course, these aren't the only products I have been using, but I've certainly pared down my routine for the timebeing and am quite enjoying the results. I shelve my trusty AHA toners when it's warm, as I deem it to be too much of a risk when the sun is out (you should ideally keep out of the sun for a week after use, so reaching for one on a daily basis is a definite no-go), but I've still been following up my evening cleanse with a generous sweep of Liz Earle Instant Skin Boost Tonic. I've also been trialing a fabulous new bedtime moisturiser, which I will be talking about very soon on the blog, and a rather nice serum, to boot. Again, both are light enough to use in warmer weather - I don't know about you, but I like to go all-out with pampering treatments in the Winter, so it's quite the contrast when I go back to basics.

Does your skincare routine chance in the summer? 
Do you have any essentials?

xx

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Review: 3-Day Obsidian Juice Programme


If you follow me on Twitter, you may well have heard me talk recently about my desire to take on a three-day juice cleanse. I had been curious for a while, and with a holiday looming, it was just the push I needed to give my health an extra boost, and potentially drop a few pounds in the process. I had gradually gained a few over the winter and hadn't yet got around to losing them - or, rather, I had been trying to do so since April, to no avail, which was a bit of a strange one for me, having never had problems in the past.

The main deterrent from taking the plunge into the world of juice cleanses was the extortionate prices I seemed to keep finding myself faced with, time and time again. I had purchased a juicer back in January, but it had broken after a couple of uses, and while I did enjoy making my own in the short time that I was able to, I have to admit that it's quite the hassle, and pretty time-consuming, to boot. It's amazing how much fruit and veg you can get through to make a small amount of juice - particularly if you haven't exactly splashed out on the best, as I hadn't.

Enter, the people over at Obsidian, who very kindly sent me over a three day cleanse to put to the test. They actually run a successful retreat in Spain - where you can book yourself in for a cleanse whilst enjoying relaxing activities that focus on the mind, body and soul -  as well as a juice cafe in Loughborough.

At only £55, Obsidian's offering is a fraction of the price you'd pay elsewhere, and while it still isn't exactly cheap as chips, I'd be willing to bet that if you added up all the money spent on pizzas, takeaways and other treats over the course of a month then it would heavily outweigh the cleanse. Something to think about if you're wanting to overhaul your diet.

The Obsidian 3-day juice programme consists of four large juices per day, all of which arrive at your door frozen so that you can allow them to defrost the night before you want to drink them. This is so handy, as the longer juices sit around, the more nutrients they lose. Keeping them frozen until the last minute means that they remain as packed full of goodness as they were when they were originally bottled - just don't forget to take them out of the freezer in time!

The juices I received were:


Detox - A delicious light juice with the zing of lemon and slight heat of ginger.
Cucumber, Celery, Apple, Lemon, Ginger, Beetroot
Calm - A lovely vibrant zesty red juice.
Apple, Lime, Beetroot, Carrot, Mint
Invincible - A simple 3 ingredient juice that's the colour of sunrise and leaves you feeling refreshed and alive.
Apple, Carrot, Ginger
Flush - Another 3 ingredient juice that's sweet and zingy from the addition of fennel.
Fennel, Apple, Lemon
Green Fairy - An easy green juice with cucumber to refresh.
Apple, Cucumber, Spinach
Spa - Deliciously sweet as a treat to your taste buds and body.
Spinach, Pineapple, Apple, Lemon
Mean Green - The king of juices and made famous by it's inventor Joe Cross.
Cucumber, Celery, Apple, Kale, Lemon, Ginger


Now, personally, I love juices, no matter how high the vegetable content, but I do know that some people may not feel the same. Luckily, each juice was utterly delicious, and all of them had a decent level of fruitiness about them for those non-veggie lovers amongst you.

I started my cleanse on a Saturday, and had been looking forward to doing so all week. Ok, so foregoing solids for three whole days was going to be challenging, but I couldn't wait to see how the process would make me feel - and, of course, whether any weight loss would follow. Unfortunately, I woke up that morning feeling quite under the weather, which was a bit of a spanner in the works to begin with, but I soldiered on, starting the day with a Detox juice before heading to the gym. At around 11.30am, I followed up with a Calm juice, and although both were delicious, it was a lot of beetroot to be getting on with! Later on, things started to diversify somewhat, and I sipped on an Invincible at 3pm, rounding off with a Flush at around 7.

On day two,I still wasn't feeling great - nothing to do with the juices, but a bit of an office bug I had picked up, it turned out. It seemed to have been doing the rounds, but luckily only stuck around for a couple of days. Day two was very much about the green juices, and I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed Green Fairy and Spa, which were my second and fourth juices of the day. To be honest, I think they were probably exactly what I needed, and the extra boost of vitamins and minerals had me feeling much better by the afternoon.

Day three fell on a Monday, and saw me sipping on a Mean Green along with another Green Fairy, Spa and Flush. I have to admit, I did cave in on this day and have a little something to eat in the afternoon as I was feeling a bit weak. Shameful, I know, but I couldn't risk not being able to get through the day.

When I woke up on the Tuesday, I felt fantastic. I was full of energy and had no trouble getting out of bed - and believe me, this is usually a problem! I was pleased to find that I had also lost 2lb, but also a little bit annoyed with myself for having given in to temptation the day before, as perhaps I could have lost slightly more had I not done so. I'm usually pretty good in the willpower department when I really set my mind to something, but the fact that I hadn't been feeling my best when I began had definitely played a part.

I decided to continue on a liquid diet for a few more days after the cleanse had ended, and surprisingly I found myself a lot less sluggish throughout the day. I drank juice for breakfast and lunch, had a third in the afternoon and then a vegetable-based soup for dinner, and as a result I've been able to lose another couple of pounds - score!

I'd really recommend the Obsidian juice cleanse if you're looking to try your first detox and haven't got time for the daily hassle of making your own. It's a really convenient way to try it, and as I said before, a lot cheaper than most. I thoroughly enjoyed each of the juices on the plan - even Flush, which I had been dreading due to my dislike of fennel. Actually, it proved me completely wrong, and was one of the best flavours of the lot. Other favourites of mine included Invincible (great for an afternoon pick-me-up) and Green Fairy, which is possibly the most refreshing combination I have ever tried.

If you fancy giving the programme a go then visit the Obsidian website, or give them a follow on Twitter (@ObsidianJuices).

                                                                                  XX

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Summer Scents: Potters Crouch Scented Candles



Would you look at these beauties?

I'm a sucker for a good scented candle, and the latest to join my summer collection are from a great new brand - or at least new to me - called Potters Crouch.

They were kind enough to send me over a couple of seasonal scents to try out - Lemongrass and Summer Fruits - and ohh was I excited when I ripped open the box to find this pair. Not only do they smell incredible, but they are absolutely beautiful, too. Housed in handy lidded tins, each one burns for around an impressive fifty hours, and I can confirm they smell absolutely divine.

Potters Crouch use only the highest quality natural perfumes and essential oils created just for them in Grasse, France. Add in the highest grades of wax available, and you've got some seriously long-lasting, strong-smelling candles.

When I say strong, I mean gorgeous - these have got excellent throw, and there is nothing heavy or potent about the fragrances. They scent my living room fantastically, and look amazing, too - how many candles do you know that come with a serving of pretty, glittery bits on top?

Priced at £8.50 each, they are much more affordable than some of the other big brands out there, and I'd say they more than measure up.

I'm really pleased to have been introduced to these, and will definitely be stocking up on some more come the winter months when I burn candles the most - I've already had a sneaky peak, and there are some delicious-sounding scents!

What are your favourite summer scents for the home?

xx


Monday, July 7, 2014

The Health Series: Molkosan Fruit


Probiotics have received a lot of press attention in recent years, with the spotlight very much focused on the all-round benefits they offer in the health department. Contrary to popular belief, there's more to them than just their effect on the digestive system, although this, in itself is a great reason to take them.
Not only can they help to support normal function of digestive enzymes, but they also have a whole host of other benefits, from boosting the immune system to improving mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Yep, that's right - it might sound unlikely, but there is a wealth of evidence showing intestinal involvement in a variety of neurological disorders. We have neurons in the gut as well as the brain, which produce neurotransmittors such as serotonin, and if the balance is upset then it could result in some unexpected issues.

Recently, I have added Molkosan Fruit* to my daily routine. Made from 100% natural fermented whey and rich in L+ lactic acid to supports good gut bacteria, a small amount (20ml) is added to a glass of water or juice and taken first thing in the morning. The tonic also contains added calcium, and is 
enriched and naturally sweetened with aronia berry and pomegranate, which are crammed full of natural antioxidants.  Taken regularly, it contributes to the normal function of digestive enzymes, making it a great daily tonic for digestive balance.

Unlike some supplements, this one tastes really pleasant - in fact, it's more or less like having a yoghurt drink as it tastes really fruity and quite creamy.

Now, personally I don't really have a problem in the stomach department, although I do feel a bit bloated on occasion. However, for those of you who do have 'troubles' in that area (and we are talking all sorts), this is a great option for restoring the balance.

I generally take Molkosan Fruit for its overall health benefits - it supports the metabolism, and should it have any effect on mood then I'm certainly not going to complain, as I'm the first to admit that a bit of help in that department wouldn't go amiss at times! I think this is probably the case for most of us, and so if we can prevent as well as aid any such issues then it makes sense to do so.

I've noticed that I am less bloated since starting to take Molkosan - funnily enough, I didn't really realise that this was an issue until it began to subside, so it just goes to show that we can become all too used to some things when actually, they are not necessarily normal - or if they are, we don't always have to tolerate them.

There are also other ways in which we can help our good gut bacteria to flourish. Eating a diet low in refined sugars and yeast and cutting down on wheat, while eating more foods containing inulin (artichokes, onions, chicory, garlic) and boosting your intake of short-grain brown rice can all do the trick, so if you're in need of an overhaul in that department then why not give it a try?

Molkosan Fruit is priced at £6.96 at www.avogel.co.uk


xx

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Summer Sunday Round-Up


Just looking back at these photos reminds me what a fantastic summer I've had so far. The month of June was packed full of great days out, delicious food and the best company, and fingers crossed there's plenty more of that to come over the next couple of months! The weather does seem to have taken an awkward turn this week, but in all honesty, a dreary weekend was fine by me, purely because it has meant I've got stuff done that I've recently been ditching in favour of enjoying the sunshine. Ok, so I'm not talking about the most thrilling tasks in the world, but they had to be done - plus, it's meant that I've had more time available for blogging.

Last week, we took a few days off work and made the most of the sunny weather, and we couldn't have timed it better if we'd tried. Each day was more of a scorcher than the last with azure skies and not a cloud in sight. We headed down to Padstow in Cornwall and did the infamous Camel Trail, a bike trail which starts in Weymouth and continues on to Padstow. It's about a 45 minute cycle, and it's a coastal path all the way, meaning we had stunning views across Cornwall as we made our way along it. As you can see from the photos, the sea was an absolutely amazing colour, and it serves as a reminder of just how beautiful the UK can be in the summer months. It was quite a nostalgic trip, too, as I hadn't done the trail for about fifteen years!

On arrival on Padstow, we chowed down on some of Rick Stein's posh (and overpriced!) fish and chips, which were delicious but cost us a small fortune! We wandered along the seafront before getting the ferry across to the beach, and being able to get my bikini on and lie in the sun to relax was utter bliss. Unfortunately though, we had to skip ice creams, as having overestimated the time for which we had parked back in Weymouth, we suddenly realised we were running late, and the cycle back was fraught to say the least! We made it back in the nick of time, and by then we had definitely earned our 99s!

We spent the rest of our break brunching at our favourite haunts and visiting local parks, castles and other pretty sights with picnics. We definitely had our share of cream teas and pink lemonade, too.

The same week, we were lucky enough to go and see Kasabian live, and it's safe to say they did not diappoint. Unlike some, they really pull it out of the bag when performing live, so it was great to have a dance and sip on a few ciders while we watched. I've seen them in the past at various festivals, but this time was definitely the best.

There are plenty of things coming up over the next few weeks, with more live music, friends visiting and holidays to look forward to, so after these dull couple of days have passed, long may the sunshine continue! I'll be sure to keep snapping away with the camera so that I've got some pretty pictures to share with you as we go along.


How have you been enjoying the summer so far?

XX
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