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Anyone who knows me, knows I have something of a coffee habit. It’s a rare day that I don’t pop into Starbucks for a vent latte, and I’ve been known to pop in for a second on particularly hectic days. I know all that caffeine can’t be great for you, so recently, I’ve been making a real effort to introduce teas back into my routine.

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Clipper very kindly sent over a trio of minty options, and I cannot tell you how addicted I’ve become to them! I’ve been starting my mornings with a cup of the Organic Green Tea & Mint, for a refreshing kick-start to my day. Ii’m not going to lie – a latte still tends to sneak in if things are busy, but I’ve been finding the Clipper teas far more refreshing.

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The range of teas and flavours that Clipper offers is incredible, so even if mint isn’t quite your (tea)bag, there will be something for you! All of this lovely new tea, obviously necessitated the purchase of a lovely new mug! I’m obsessed with this Anthropologie option. It’s much bigger and more colourful than my regular options, but I’m just obsessed with the pink ombre and the gold rim!

Clipper teas are available here and the mug is available here

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When it comes to fragrance, I’m admittedly picky. I don’t like anything too fruity, too floral, or in any way too much, so CLEAN Reserve fragrances are often a perfect choice. Designed to make you smell good, rather than of something, the scents take their cues from nature and life, and are beautifully simple. Most of the range is unisex, and the simplistic feel lends itself to layering, allowing you to create your own bespoke fragrance.

Right in time for Christmas, they have released the Six Piece Reserve Travel Spray Layering Collection. A pick of six of the range, all of which can be worn together or on their own, it contains some of my all-time favourites!

One standout in the collection is the Sueded Oud, after spending some time out in Dubai, I thought I never wanted to smell an Old based scent again, (they tend to bombard you with it in the mall), but this is absolutely glorious. Slightly sweetened, it’s a surprisingly subtle take on Oud, which smells beautifully warm and comforting, rather than overpowering.

The set contains Sueded Oud, Blonde Rose, Rain, Warm Cotton, Citron Fig and Sel Santal, which lets you experiment with the fragrances to your heart’s content (plus the dinky bottles are not only adorable, but super handbag friendly!)

CLEAN: Six Piece Reserve Travel Spray Layering Collection is priced at £39.00 and is available here (UK) and here (US)

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If you’re anything like me, days are getting increasingly busy, and nights are just as hectic! All that running around is certainly great fun, but it means that the time I can spend on my makeup is down to an absolute minimum, so a great primer in the morning is a real must have!

F1ivV295Qga1ar9guWGVfw_thumb_25c42Estee Lauder’s Matte Perfecting Primer is an absolute godsend for keeping skin looking as flawless as possible. Even though I like skin to have a dewy look, when you’re running around in the ‘delightful’ Scottish weather, it can leave you looking and feeling a little bedraggled, so a little of this in the morning is the perfect way to keep looking as tidy as possible. In the morning, after using my regular moisturiser, I smooth a pea-sized amount on using my fingers, then apply my foundation or tinted moisturiser as normal.

Unlike a lot of primers, Estee Lauder’s doesn’t leave skin feeling dried out or tacky. Instead, it just creates a flawless base, which lets makeup sit beautifully, and although it eradicates shine, it never leaves skin looking cakey or dry.

Estee Lauder’s Matte Perfecting Primer is priced at £22.50 and is available here (UK) and here (US)

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After driving down from Edinburgh to Gloucester in a single day, it’s fair to say we were ready for a lazy evening on our first night at Tewkesbury Park. Rather than going out and exploring, we’d booked in for dinner at the hotel’s Garden Restaurant.

Occupying most of the bottom floor is the newly renovated Garden Restaurant. A stunning mix of colours and filled with the most glorious velvet seats and sofas – it looked like something straight out of Pinterest! Seated by the plate glass windows, we were able to enjoy the most stunning sunset over the golf course as we perused the menu.

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The first of the starters to catch our eye was the stunning Beetroot and gin home cured salmon gravlax (£6.95). A colourful medley of salmon, fennel, mouli, and appleslaw, it was a wonderful mix of earthy savoury with bright, zesty notes.

The accompanying pumpernickel toast was a delicious accompaniment to the freshness of the dish, and it was such a delicious way to start the meal.

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For my starter, I opted for the World Cheese Award Winning Cerney Ash Goat’s Cheese (£6.95). It was an absolutely beautifully presented plate, and I just adored the creaminess of the cheese with the balsamic glaze.

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The balsamic pearls burst in the mouth, giving little explosions of flavour, and the ripened figs were the perfect accompaniment. I could have eaten this all evening – and I’ve gone hunting for the Cerney Ash Goat’s Cheese in Edinburgh!

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Since we were sharing a bottle of red, we opted for red meat main courses.

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Since it’s in season, I couldn’t resist the Loin of fallow deer venison (£24.95), and I’m so glad I did! The venison was perfection – rich and tender, it was paired with a venison bolognaise, confit potatoes, kale, and a blackberry jus.

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It was such a warm, wintery dish, and was perfect for fueling up after the long trek down south. The mix of rich meat and berries is a real favourite of mine, and the addition of kale and the confit potato was inspired!

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To lighten up our rather indulgent choices, we opted to share some Seasonal Vegetables (£4.95). A mix of broccollini, carrots and runner beans, they were such a yummy accompaniment!

I managed to sneak a mouthful of 8oz Sirloin of Hereford beef steak (£24.95), and I have to say, it was incredible! The steak was perfectly cooked – charred on the outside and rare on the inside, and it was wonderful with the hot and crispy hand cut chips. The fresh watercress gave a peppery hit to the dish, and the cooked mushrooms and tomatoes were delicious!

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Even though we were absolutely stuffed, the meal had been so heavenly, we couldn’t resist sharing Sticky Toffee Pudding (£6.95). Presented to the table warm, with a brandy snap and honeycomb ice cream, it was a heavenly way to finish the meal!

The whole meal was an absolute delight – and one of the highlights of our whole trip! From the stunning dining room, to the fabulous waitstaff, who couldn’t have been nicer and more helpful throughout the night! You can find out more about the restaurant here.

 

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Now that Christmas party season is in full swing (seriously, how did that happen?), Friday night felt like the perfect opportunity to pop into Zen Lifestyle on Hanover Street to experience one of their Christmas parties.

The spa itself is a haven in the centre of Edinburgh – all high ceilings and orchids. You can step from George Street, heaving with Christmas shoppers, and the moment you enter the doors, it’s all left behind.

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I popped in on Friday night, packed full of beauty-lovers, there were Zen-tinis on offer care of Rabble, as well as some incredible beauty offers. As I pondered some potential Christmas presents, everyone buzzed around, enjoying the atmosphere.

I had no idea that Zen Lifestyle stocked so many incredible brands – there were gift packs from Murad, Elizabeth Arden Professional and Neom.

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I fell absolutely in love with the Christmas Wish candles – they’re just the thing for creating a cosy atmosphere in the run up to the big day! Unfortunately I had to rush off to meet friends for supper, but I was very kindly sent on my way clutching the most generous of goody bags – I’m sure I’m going to pop back in and pick up a few bits and pieces!

You can find out more information about Zen Lifestyle here

 

 

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Since the nights have gotten longer, I’ve been loving wearing a slightly more dramatic eye look at night. As someone who lives in a subtle smokey brown during the day, it’s an easy thing to build on, and Urban Decay’s newest Naked palette – Heat is such a versatile addition to my collection.

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Packaged in undoubtedly the most eye-catching packaging of the NAKED line up, it’s not a palette which you’re going to lose in your stash. Like the rest of the NAKED options, you get 12 shadows and a double ended brush.

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The shade choice in the palette feels like the most dramatic of any of the NAKED palettes. With a majority of the shadows falling into the rusty, burnt red category, if you’re looking to warm up your eye looks, this is the palette for you!

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The left hand of the palette has the few cooler tones, with shadows which feel more like base choices. The lightest shade, Quince gives a beautifully subtle sheen in the inner corners and on the brow bone. Chaser is a perfect all over lid choice, whilst Sauced gives lids a hint of warmth and definition.

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The middle of the palette has some of the real show-stoppers! Whilst Low Brow, is the perfect liner shade, smudged into lashes for casual definition, Lumbre is a metallic rose chrome made for creating a show-stopping look. Perhaps the reddest shade in the palette is He-Devil (I’ve not been quite brave enough to give this one a go yet), Dirty Talk is a bronze-based shimmer which is super blendable, and Scorched feels like a pinker version of Dirty Talk.

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The palette finishes up with some of the deepest, most sophisticated shades you can imagine. Cayenne is a warm, russet-toned orange, whilst En Fuego is an almost beetroot red. For some dramatic definition, I am obsessed with Ashes – the rich plum shade feels incredibly grown up. The final shade, Ember, is a smokey eye in a single shadow. Reserved for evenings when I want to go all-out, it’s a real showstopper.

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As with all eyeshadows from Urban Decay, the colour payoff is great, and they’re all easy to blend. The double ended brush is easy to wield, and even though I tend to stick to my regular shadow brushes, it’s always good to have a spare! Also, the huge mirror is such a godsend for when you’re in the mood to do your eyes on the go!

Urban Decay NAKED Heat is priced at £39.50 and is available here (UK) and here (US)

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When it comes to fragrance, I am admittedly rather predictable. If it has white flowers in the mix, chances are I’m going to be a fan. So, when I was in Space NK the other day, picking up a few bits and pieces for Christmas, I found myself at the Diptyque fragrances, and I fell absolutely in love with their Do Son scent.

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Named for a Far Eastern beach resort, Do Son is the kind of rich tuberose I just adore. Even as an eau de toilette, it packs quite a powerful punch – soapy and clean, I love this for the colder mornings – it feels incredibly indulgent and comforting to wear, and a quick spritz lasts all day long.

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As the perfume dries down, notes of Orange Leaves and Pink Peppercorn become more apparent. It’s a beautifully balanced scent, and once I’ve become absolutely addicted to!

Diptyque Do Son is priced at £64 and is available here (UK) and here (US)

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If you’re anything like me, a sniff of anything alcoholic, made of carbs, or even just a late night, can leave my eyes looking puffy and feeling hot. So, when I caught sight of Kiko’s new Fall 2.0 Eye Contour Mask, I had to give it a go.

Packaged like a regular sheet mask, this one covers just the areas around your eyes, leaving you looking not unlike a superhero when you’ve got it on. Working to soften and energise skin, the mask leaves you looking and feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Kiko’s Fall 2.0 Eye Contour Mask is priced at £3.90 and is available here.

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I’m not sure about you, but in Edinburgh, temperatures have taken a sudden plunge. Where a week or two ago, I could run around in a sweater, now I have to grab a parka. As a result, I’ve been trying to keep as much moisture in my skin as possible.

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One of my tactics has been to introduce Boots Botanics’ Hot Cloth Cleansing Balm into my regime. Packaged in a simple little white screw top jar, the balm is made with 97% organic ingredients, and it feels seriously premium to use. Every evening, I take a small amount of the balm in between my fingers, warm it up a little, and work it into my face. I pay close attention to areas like my eyelashes and eyebrows, as it gets makeup off incredibly easily.

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After working the balm into my face for a minute or so, I use a warm, wet, clean flannel, and take everything off. I finish off my cleansing routine with a few swipes of Micellar Water. With ingredients including rosehip, the cleansing balm leaves skin feeling soft and smooth, and, most importantly, it locks moisture in. I don’t have to wake up with parched skin, and it eradicates every sign of makeup – no more waking up with mascara on my pillow!

Boots Botanics Hot Cloth Cleanser is priced at £8.99 and is available here.

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I’m through in Edinburgh most days, and end up in Bruntsfield regularly, which means I’ve driven past The Apartment Bistro hundreds of times, and every time, I’ve wanted to pop in. Just yards from the King’s Theatre, it’s a perfect spot to pop into for a pre-theatre supper, and it’s wonderfully cosy, if you fancy a longer, more indulgent dinner.

We visited on a rainy weeknight – starved from a busy day at work, and was welcomed into the cosy restaurant. Lit with tea lights and twinkling fairy lights, it was exactly what we needed to relax – and we got to grips with the menu.

To start we shared one of their Chunky Healthy Skewers with halloumi, sweet potato, pepper & courgette, zaa’tar lemon dressing (£12.70). I have to admit, I was obsessed with halloumi when I was at uni, and for some reason, I haven’t really eaten it since. This brought back my love for the stuff! Skewered with roasted sweet potato, the mix of salty, savoury and sweet was absolutely delicious.

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Alongside the skewer was a flat bread, potato salad, coleslaw and greens. It was a fabulous way to begin a meal. Over mouthfuls of warm, melting cheese and potato we discussed plans for the weekend, and vowed to recreate the dish at home.

For mains there was no resisting the 80z Flat Iron steak (£17.40). Served with hot and crispy fries, parmesan & rocket sauce, and a pepper sauce, it was a hearty portion. I managed to sneak a few of the fries, and they were delicious!

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We had opted to share a portion of Sautéed Greens (£3.30) to go along with our mains. A hot, buttery mix of cabbage, it was a perfect accompaniment to our meaty mains.

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At this time of year, it’s impossible for me to resist venison when I see it on a menu, so when I spotted Roasted Venison Haunch, Hasselback potatoes, Confit Carrots, Baby Onions & Bacon, Gravy (£17.40) there was no other option.

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The whole dish felt like autumn on a plate! The venison was rich and tender – cooked medium rare, it melted in the mouth, and was just perfection. Paired with the sweet potato mash underneath, the confit carrots and hasselback potatoes was exactly what I needed on a cold Edinburgh night!

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I loved the baby onions and charred cauliflower – it’s a combination which isn’t used nearly enough!

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After all of the delicious mains, we were well and truly stuffed, but one look at the dessert menu ensured we couldn’t leave without sampling something. We opted to share the Lemon Tart (£5.70) – deliciously tart, with a gloriously custardy filling, the tart was perfection. I just loved the addition of the crystallised peel on top – it added a wholly new texture to the dish, and I could have easily demolished the entire thing!

Thank you so much to The Apartment Bistro for a fabulous dinner!

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When it comes to brushes, I like to keep everything as simple as possible. On a daily basis, I tend to keep it to a bronzer and eyeshadow brush, and if I’m feeling fancy, I’ll throw in an eyeliner brush. But when it comes to doing my makeup properly, I need a few more tools.

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My new favourite, for days then I want to look more polished, has been Kiko’s 2.0 Angled Face Powder Brush. It’s called a blush brush, but honestly, it’s more like contour-by-numbers. The angled brush slides into the hollow of my cheeks, and gives a naturally sculpted look with exactly zero effort!

Kiko Angled Face Powder Brush is priced at £14.90 and is available here.

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