The Tea Leaf Co*

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With Storm Caroline taking the country by storm this weekend, I’m not going to lie, I’ve been hiding inside, enjoying copious amounts of tea. One of my new favourite brands to sip on has been The Tea Leaf Co – a company which prides itself on celebrating the history of tea, as well as providing absolutely delicious options. I’ve been testing out four of the available 15 options, and I’m not going to lie – I’m obsessed!

All of the teas come packaged in sturdy little tins, which makes storing them in the cupboard an absolute breeze, and the screw-top lid means that the tea inside stays super fresh. The first of the options I tried was No 10 Apple & Cinnamon. I’m an absolute fiend for anything spiced at this time of year, and I was not disappointed. A teaspoon full popped in my tea pot created a brew which was rich and couldn’t agree more!

Royals & Rogues is the brand’s Earl Grey mix, and is a witty nod to the Boston Tea Party. I’m partial to a cup of Earl Grey in the morning – and this is a heavenly start to the day! The Tea Leaf Co’s mix includes a generous dash of bergamot oil (and how beautiful are the tiny little petals included in the leaves) so I drink it black, with a slice of lemon.

No 07 Ti Kuan Yin is perhaps the most exotic of my collection – an Oolong tea with notes of Orchid, it’s a luxurious way to enjoy something of an afternoon pick-me-up! It’s named after the goddess of mercy Ti Kuan Yin who, legend has it, appeared to a farmer in a dream and gifted him a single, precious tea shoot to plant. It’s gorgeous with a dash of honey if you need something a little sweeter.

Whenever things are feeling like they’re getting a little too much, I’ve been turning to No 26 Lotus Jasmine. A fabulous Green Tea with Jasmine, it’s an incredibly soothing, delicious choice. The Tea Leaf Co’s offering is created through an intricate and time-consuming process that dates back more than 1000 years, and it’s a wonderfully fragrant treat!

The Tea Leaf Co teas start at £4.99 per tin, and the whole range is available here.

Made by Coopers – Sleepy Head*

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At this time of year, when Scotland receives approximately 3 hours of sunlight, it’s easy to feel like an early night is an easy option. Run a bath, light a candle, and in theory, I should be more than ready for bed. But sometimes when I’m super busy, tense or stressed, I can find myself in bed, staring at the ceiling for hours. No matter how many audio-books, documentaries or podcasts I listen to, it can take a while to drop off, so in an attempt to get a full night’s sleep, I’ve been turning to Made by Cooper’s Sleepy Head Spray.

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Every evening, before slipping into bed, I’ve been misting my sheets and pillows with a light mist of Made by Coopers Sleepy Head. It’s a gorgeous scent – a mix of lavender, chamomile and frankincense all work together to relax and calm you. It’s such a lovey spa-like touch, and it’s been sending me right to sleep in record time.

You can pick up Made by Cooper’s Sleepy Head is priced at £12 and is available here.

Too Faced Matte Chocolate Chip Palette*

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When it comes to present-buying, I can, admittedly, take it quite seriously. I like to make sure that my gifts are something that the recipient wants, but that they’re also something a bit fun and different. So, if you’re in the market for a fun stocking-stuffer or secret Santa gift, you can’t get much better than Too Faced’s Matte Chocolate Chip Palette.

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First off, I know we’re not meant to judge a book by it’s cover, but this palette is the cutest! It’s dinky, it looks like a chocolate bar, and it smells like cocoa powder. It’s also a fab collection of colours, which should suit most skin tones, and work with palettes currently in your stash.

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For such a small palette, the colours are incredibly well thought out. There are a mix of warm-toned neutral browns, with some pinks, a blue and a khaki in there too.

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On a daily basis, I’ve been sticking mostly to the left side of the palette. The mix of browns and taupes is perfect for a neutral, everyday makeup looks. All of the shadows in the palette are buttery soft, with a great colour payoff. They do throw up a bit of fall out, but they’re so easy to blend that it’s not a big deal.

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The right hand side of the palette has the more dramatic shades in the palette. I tend to smudge in the darker shadows for a subtle liner. I also love the light pinky-purple shade over the lid, with a taupe blended into the crease. It’s a fun update to my regular neutral choices.

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It’s not just a great gift though – I’ve been using it on a nearly daily basis. The shadows are so pigmented, and they last all day, so it’s a perfect choice if you’re looking add a little cuteness into your regime!

Too Faced Matte Chocolate Chip Palette is priced at £22 and is available here

Bare Biology Lion Heart Pure Omega 3 Fish Oil*

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At the time of year, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. With Christmas shopping, work, parties and suppers, it can feel like you never have a second, and is it just me, or is everyone battling a cold? Over the past month or so, I’ve been trying to take better care of myself. I’ve upped the vegetable intake, I’ve been to the gym , and I’ve also introduced Bare Biology’s Lion Heart Pure Omega 3 Fish Oil into my morning routine.

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As a rule, I’m a bit of a dry person – my hair, my skin, my nails, they all need a bit of TLC, so when I read about the benefits of Omega 3, I knew it was something I needed to add to my diet. Most people can benefit from adding a bit of Omega to their diet – the supplement can work against the threat of dementia, heart disease and even depression. Not only this – but it has some serious beauty benefits too! On a more superficial basis, the healthy fats inside the capsules help skin, hair and nails all grow and regenerate, and it’s a great secret if you’re looking to up your natural glow!

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What I just love about Bare Biology’s Lion Heart capsules is how small they are! The recommended dose is 4 per day, although you can take 2 per day if you’d rather, so a tub can last you up to two months! I tend to take all four capsules in one go, purely so I don’t forget later in the day. They’re flavourless, and unlike every other fish oil supplement I’ve taken before – you never get nasty, fishy flashbacks.

If you’re looking to add a little Omega 3 to your diet in 2018, a single pack is priced at £28.50 and is available here.

Restoration Cafe Christmas Menu*

I’m not sure about you, but at this time of year, I’ll do pretty much anything to get out of the house. Work in a coffee shop? Peruse the overly full stores packed with Christmas shoppers? I think it’s probably just me trying to enjoy the few hours of sunlight we get per day, but possibly the best use of a day I can think of? A trip to Dalkeith’s Restoration Yard!

Last night we headed through to the Restoration Cafe to try out their new Christmas Menu. I’ve written about Restoration Yard before, and honestly it’s an absolute haven at this time of year. Children can play on Fort Douglas (i.e. the country’s coolest tree house) and you can shop to your heart’s content in the store – they have a beautifully curated section of home wears, fashion and stationery as well as incredible food hall stuffed full of goodies. I feel like a kid in a candy store every time I visit, and my wish list grows considerably each time!

The whole of Restoration Yard is decked out for Christmas – it’s all twinkly fairy lights, pompom garlands and decorations.

The Restoration Cafe pride themselves on offering a seasonal menu full of locally sourced produce, so when I had the chance to sample the new Christmas Menu, I knew it was going to be great! Served Monday-Friday, until December 24th, the choices on offer mix traditional favourites with dishes which are sure to impress!

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After a busy day, we were both absolutely famished when we sat down, but the staff were so accommodating, bringing crackers to the table, and letting us decide what took our fancy.

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The Baked Pear and Stilton Tart sounded too good to resist! A beautifully thin, crisp pastry held chunks of spiced baked pear and melting stilton. A real update on a classic flavour combination, the addition of the peppery salad and mustard dressing was delightful! The pears had been delicately spiced, lending the dish a thoroughly festive flavour, and I’m sure it’s something I’ll be trying to recreate at home soon!

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I opted for the Confit Duck Ballotine, which came alongside caper berries, beetroot and a port syrup. This was an absolute masterclass in winter cooking.

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The duck was perfection – moist and flavourful, and the combination between it and the earthiness of the beetroot was divine. The caper berries were a welcome addition of tartness, whilst the port syrup leant some sweetness.

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We moved onto main courses, and of course, we couldn’t not order the Turkey. A real celebration of everything traditionally festive, the Ballotine of Turkey wrapped in Parma Ham, served with pork and sage stuffing was a real show stopper.

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Piled high on the plate, the turkey was the star of the show! Wrapped in a crisp blanket of Parma Ham, and filled with the most delicious sage-y stuffing, it paired perfectly with the spiced cranberry sauce, and was perched above the most delicious candied carrots and roasted Brussels sprouts.

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Since Dalkeith source their produce locally, I couldn’t resist the Roast Breast of Pheasant. Served on a mushroom, chestnut and bacon ficasee as well as the most delicious roast potatoes and Brussels Sprouts, it was a tasty alternative to the more traditional turkey offering.

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The meat was delicately flavoured, and worked with the rich sauce, and felt perfectly seasonal! If you’re looking for a bit of a change from the norm, I’d seriously recommend it. It’s the absolutely perfect choice for a hearty winter supper!

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Since we were going for the full festive experience, we couldn’t not order the Christmas Pudding! Served in a creamy brandy sauce and topped with an orange compote. Since I’m a real fan of spiced, wintery puddings, this was absolute heaven! The Christmas Pudding itself was abosolutely heavenly – super moist, and wonderfully  fruity! The fresh orange compote gave the dish a hit of acidity and freshened up what could be an incredibly rich dish.

We finished off with a couple of hot drinks (since I’m such an adult, I couldn’t resist a Hot Chocolate. It was such a dreamy evening, and the absolutely perfect start to the festive season. The food was, as always at the Restoration Cafe, absolutely incredible, and I would seriously recommend heading over to check it out!

2 Courses are priced at £20 per person, while 3 courses are priced at £25. You can see the whole menu here.

 

Festive Afternoon Tea at Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh*

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If you’ve been in Edinburgh recently, you’ll know that the city is quite the fan of Christmas. From the famous Princes Street Market, to the new light attractions in George Street, there are so many spots to celebrate the festive season, but perhaps the most luxurious spot to toast Christmas is Edinburgh’s Waldorf Astoria, who are hosting a Festive Afternoon Tea all through December.

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Hosted in the hotel’s iconic Peacock Alley, the Festive version of the tea comes with a glass of mulled wine, as well as tea and it has to be one of Edinburgh’s most beautiful spots!

Peacock Alley has been transformed with towering Christmas trees, and the whole hotel is decked out with nutcrackers and ballerinas – it’s absolutely stunning, and it’s the place to be if you want to take those festive photos!

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You can enjoy the Festive Afternoon Tea from £40 per person. You can see the whole menu here

RapidShield Eyelash Daily Conditioner*

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A couple of months back, I decided I didn’t need to wear mascara every day in life. Coming from someone who wore the black stuff to the gym, this felt like more of a big deal, but it’s been weirdly freeing. Just spending the day working at the computer or dashing to the gym – no black panda eyes to wash off at the end of the day! Of course, if I’ve got a meeting or day out planned, I love wearing mascara, but if I don’t need to wear it, now I won’t.

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Which brings me neatly onto RapidShield i.e what I wear on non-mascara days. Designed to protect lashes from pollution, makeup, makeup tools and other daily beauty treatments that can weaken lashes, you can use it under mascara, but I tend to keep if for days when I’m keeping my makeup low key.

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I’ve been using RapidShield for the past month or so, and I’ve noticed that my lashes look longer and fluffier. They also feel so much stronger – before using, when I took my mascara off each night, I’d get the odd lash or two falling on my cheeks, but since I’ve been using the product, I can’t even remember the last loose lash I had!

RapidShield is priced at £28 and is available here.

Kiko Cosmetics release new range of sheet masks*

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It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of face masks (spoiler alert, I’m wearing one as I type this) and sheet masks often top my favourites. I love the fact that you can pop one on cleansed skin, relax for twenty minutes then you’re good to go. They’re usually the least fuss to use, and they’re a life-saver for travel, and there is a mask to suit every skin issue you can imagine!

The newest I’ve been loving coming from affordable makeup brand Kiko Cosmetics. Answering a whole range of skin complaints, the masks come individually packaged, and you can even pick a few fun options – like the panda one, which hydrates skin complete with a printed face! The others I’ve tried are gel masks – they come in two pieces to easily mould to the contours of your face.

Kiko sheet masks are priced from £3.90 each and are available here.

A Night at Eleven Didsbury Park*

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Whenever I’ve got a weekend free, and not too many plans, I typically tend to head down south, and end up in Cheshire. It’s a gorgeous part of the country, with beautiful countryside, postcard-perfect little villages, and surprisingly good shopping (one of my favourites is Selfridges at the Trafford Centre). A few weeks back, when were were heading up north from our stay in the Cotswolds, we figured we’d add a pitstop, and sped a night at the glorious Eleven Didsbury Park.

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For all the times I’ve visited Cheshire, I don’t think I’ve ever been to Didsbury, but it’s a charming spot – very residential with beautiful Victorian houses. It’s also close to Manchester airport, as well as the Trafford Centre, so if you want a little mini-break prior to jetting off, or if you’re in the mood for some retail therapy, this is a perfect spot to visit.

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We were staying in a gorgeous Eclectic Villa Room, which included a sumptuous super king sized bed, separate sitting area, bathtub and even a dressing room! We had been driving up from Oxfordshire on the day we arrived, so having such a gorgeous room to arrive to was an absolute dream.

We had enjoyed supper in Alderley Edge, so the first thing to do was draw a hot bubble bath and relax a bit. The bath is tucked into the corner of the room, and is the perfect spot to read a book and unwind.

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The ensuite bathroom was equally luxurious, with a roomy rainfall shower, and it came fully stocked with lush Temple Spa toiletries and plenty of fluffy towels.

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After an absolutely heavenly night’s sleep (seriously, the bed was insanely comfortable) we headed downstairs to enjoy breakfast. We kicked things off with a freshly squeezed orange juice and some fresh berry smoothies.

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We couldn’t resist ordering a full English breakfast. With sausages, scrambled eggs, bacon, mushroom, tomato and black pudding, it was a perfect way to set ourselves up for the long drive up north.

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I opted for the Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on an English Muffin. Light and fluffy eggs went perfectly with the salmon, and it was a delicious end to our little stay-cation!

Thank you so much to Eleven Didsbury Park for having us! You can find out more about the hotel here.

Blaq Meteor Shower*

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Now that we’re in the midst of holiday party season, it’s never been more important to keep everything in tip-top condition. The fake tan is out, and to make sure my glow looks as natural as possible, I’ve been exfoliating and moisturising daily. My current go-to is Blaq’s Meteor Shower, a black, glittery scrub, which leaves your skin feeling out of this world (sorry, I had to).

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Like all of the Blaq products I’ve tried, Meteor Shower is filled with activated charcoal to draw out toxins from the skin, leaving it looking its best. Blaq have also included a smattering of sparkle in the scrub, which stays on skin post-shower, leaving a gorgeous glow.

Blaq Meteor Shower is priced at £19.95 and is available here.

Nyasa Luminosity Illuminating Super Serum*

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Even though we’re getting what feels like 3 hours of daylight a week, I’m keen to keep my skin looking as bright and as healthy as possible. There’s nothing quite as unflattering as a dull, dry complexion, so in an attempt to stay glowy throughout the winter months, I’ve introduced Nyasa London’s Luminosity Super Serum into my daily routine.

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Every morning, prior to moisturising, I pat a few drops of the serum into clean, dry skin. It’s got a lightweight consistency which disappears into skin, and I follow up with my regular moisturiser. The serum is designed to boost cell turnover, as well as protect skin from environmental pollutants, tackle fine lines and hydrate skin. It’s a real multitasker, but the effect it has on skin has been seriously noticeable.

Nyasa Luminosity Illuminating Super Serum is priced at £80.00 and is available here