Nugg Mermaid Marine Peel Off Mask*

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When it comes to beauty products, I have the attention span of a gnat. I fall in love with products, then, when the newest product is released, I tend to pop my favourites in the cupboard whilst I play with the newbies. It’s not a habit I’m proud of, and often means, when I go back to play with old favourites, they’re all dried up, or past their best. Which is why I just love the Nugg Mermaid Marine Peel Off Mask. Packaged in a chunky cardboard tub, each application is completely fresh, as you mix together the packaged ingredients with water, then apply.

Designed to tighten, de-puff and soothe skin, the mask has a thick gloopy consistency when wet, which dries to rubber-like finish. After slapping on a healthy dose of the mask, it takes about 20-30 minutes to dry down, after which, you get all the fun of peeling it off!

Afterwards skin feels tightened, smooth and soft – the perfect pre-party treat!

Nugg Mermaid Marine Peel Off Mask is priced at £9.99 and is available here.

Christian Breton Sweet and Delicious Lip Balm*

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Is there a worse feeling than having dried out lips? I certainly don’t think so! I can’t stand that hot, tight, rough feeling you get when you’ve been out and about in cold weather, so to try and compensate, I’ve been wearing lip balm like there is no tomorrow!

fullsizeoutput_16bdMy newest acquisition is Christian Breton’s gorgeous Sweet and Delicious Lip Balm. Packaged in a chic, surprisingly hardy compact, complete with interior mirror. It’s the most gorgeous  candy pink on the lips, but it applies sheer, giving lips a dose of rosey colour, as well as a much-needed hit of moisture!

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I can’t get over how good the balm smells – it’s sweet and fruity without feeling faker overpowering. A fun, almost sugary strawberry flavour means it’s super pleasant to reapply the balm on the go, whilst the rich formula nourishes parched lips. It also leaves a subtle shine behind, so I have been using it in place of my regular lipsticks and glosses.

Christian Breton Sweet and Delicious Lip Balm is priced at £36 and is available here.

 

Bea AHA Rejuvenating Wands*

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Now that we’re in the depths of winter, I’m on a mission to keep my skin as soft and as bright as possible. Cold temperatures, central heating and all the fun of wind, rain and snow, can leave skin looking and feeling way too dull. So, to compensate, I got my hands on Bea’s AHA Rejuvenating Wands.

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The pack contains ten individual-use wands, all neatly packaged up, so the ingredients are as fresh and as potent as possible for when you want to use them. You can use the product once per week, although do think ahead when using the wands – since they are designed to remove the top layer of skin – a day or two after use, you might get a few patches of dry skin. It’s nothing to worry about, and a gentle exfoliation, followed by a generous dollop of moisturiser leaves skin looking and feeling brand new!

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When you crack into the wands, you can see a large swab, absolutely saturated with product. After thoroughly cleansing my face and neck, I swipe the wand, in an upwards motion all over my face and neck (anything left over gets swiped over my décolletage) and leave the product to dry down. It does tingle a little, but it’s not uncomfortable, and once it’s all dried down, I apply a generous layer of hydrating oil, then head to bed. Over the following days, skin is noticeably brighter, smoother and less congested. It’s all the results of a great facial, packaged within a cute little tube.

Bea AHA Rejuvenating Wands are priced at £60 for 10, and are available here.

Urban Decay Troublemaker Mascara*

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When it comes to mascara, I’m a go big or go home kind of a girl. By which I mean, I’m either wearing no mascara at all, or I want a formula thats super black, volumizing, lengthening – a real all rounder. So, when I heard about Urban Decay’s newest offering – the Troublemaker mascara, which promises to be both sex-proof and super black, whilst fanning out and lengthening lashes, whilst giving them a dose of real volume.

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To make sure no lash is left out, the brush is made up of alternating long and short bristles, with the longer ones almost acting as hooks to acts as a comb. I’m a girl who likes a few layers of mascara, and this one gets better with each coat. Seriously dramatic – it’s a mascara which lasts all day, and never smudges or flakes. And for the claim of sex-proof? Well, I’ll leave that to you to find out…!

Urban Decay Troublemaker Mascara is priced at £19.50 and is available here (UK) and here (US)

Lunch at Franco Manco Oxford*

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When I was down in the Cotswolds last month, we took a day to drive through to Oxford and spend the day at the Ashmolean Museum. It’s somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for years, and I am happy to say, it did not disappoint! We spent the whole day weaving from exhibit to exhibit – the museum has everything from Egyptian mummies to modern art, so as you can imagine, there was a lot to see!

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So to fuel up, we headed around the corner to new Oxford spot Franco Manca. The restaurant only opened up a couple of months back. Located in the centre of town, it’s a roomy spot, which was filled with a mix of students, locals and tourists, all munching on Oxford’s best pizza.

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If you are a student, Franco Manca has an incredible offer currently going on – every Monday & Tuesday, students can receive a No Logo beer or Aperol Spritz on the house when you buy any pizza! Just use the buzz word ‘Brixton 2008’ & show your student card. This is running until 31st December, so there’s still tonnes of time to enjoy!

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As we perused the menu, we munched on Green Olives (£2.35). I love how simple the menu at Franco Manca is – mains consist of 7 main pizzas, as well as a few daily specials, and some salads.

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We were absolutely famished after day spent at the museum, we couldn’t resist starting off with a Garlic Bread with Mozzarella (£4.95).

Served piping hot, it was the definition of melty, cheese and garlic-y goodness! We shared one between two of us, and it was a seriously generous portion! Made with the same slough rising sour dough as the pizzas, it was a perfect start to the meal.

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In what can only be classed as something of a review fail, neither of us could resist Pizza 6 (£7.55)- which comes with tomato, cured chorizo [dry + semi-dry] & mozzarella. For some reason I developed something of a chorizo habit on the trip, and the promise of it on a pizza was too much to resist.

Franco Manca cook their pizzas in wood burning ovens which reach temperatures of up to 900 degrees, so when they get to the table, they’re piping hot, and covered in the most glorious of toppings.

Ours, topped with copious slices of chorizo was equal parts cheesy and spicy. I just loved how the meat was quite thickly sliced, so you could really appreciate all that great flavour. The wood stove gives the crust a delicious flavour – and Franco Manca want to make sure you eat them all up! If you’re not usually a crust lover (which, admittedly, I am) you can order a selection of homemade dips to enjoy!

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Even though we were absolutely stuffed from the main course, we could resit in indulging in a little Italian dessert. As with the menu for the main course, the choice of dessert is wonderfully simple – for us though, there was only one choice – a classic tiramisu (£3.95) to share!

Presented simply, the slab of pudding was an airy cloud of whipped cream and boozy sponge. Topped with a dusting of cocoa powder, we savoured spoonfuls of it with coffee, as we planned our days ahead. It was an absolutely wonderful way to refuel after a day spent in Oxford’s best museum!

You can find out more about Franco Manca, and see their menu here.

Beating my coffee habit with Clipper Teas*

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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

CLEAN: Six Piece Reserve Travel Spray Layering Collection*

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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)

Estee Lauder Matte Perfecting Primer*

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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)

Dinner at The Garden Restaurant, Tewkesbury Park*

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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.

 

A Christmas Party at Zen Lifestyle, Edinburgh*

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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

 

 

Urban Decay Naked Heat*

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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)