Monday 28 October 2013

Recent Travels: Turkish Delight

Sorry I've been absent from blogging, travel called!

I have recently spent a week in Turkey to indulge in some Autumn sunshine.
I was lucky enough to win this holiday via a competition. I was able to choose from 4 destinations; 2 of them being somewhere I'd already visited, so being someone who likes to sample new places, I chose Turkey as both my boyfriend and I had never been there before.

The competition included everything from the accommodation right down to the all inclusive food and alcohol (although we did sample other restaurants as well).

Having only returned from Florida in July, my bank was shouting at me for going on holiday again, so spending money was a little limited. Because it was a freebie, my boyfriend and I decided to make this holiday as cheap as possible so we benefited from that fact. We booked 2 trips via our rep, and the rest of the days were spent taking it easy, or taking a trip on the bus to nearby Olu-Deniz, where there was a gorgeous lagoon to be admired.

Stormy Day

We took a trip to a place called Saklikent which is famous for it's canyon. We sat at a restaurant table in a gorge which I absolutely loved. The view of the canyon along with the gentle trickle of water around was so peaceful and relaxing with the suns rays beaming down.

A Cosy Restaurant that we discovered

Top of The Ghost Town

One evening we took a trip to Kaya which is Hisaronu's Ghost Town. It had a lot of history there (which I actually quite enjoyed reading about). Although I wasn't expecting to be doing any hiking whilst I was there!

A lot of Turkey is in the mountains so everywhere you looked there was a really nice backdrop. Its a really pretty country when you get in the right areas (one part in particular looked a lot like English countryside!).

It was a nice Autumn break and a nice change of scenery (especially for a freebie!)

Where to next?


Saturday 19 October 2013

Fashion: Skater Dresses | Daytime Wear

When you're reading this I'll be sat under a palm tree sipping cocktails in Turkey... jealous? I thought so! ;-) I only have this post scheduled for whilst I'm away due to time constraints, but please do keep seated.. I'll be back before you know it, with lots of holiday snaps!

The last month or so I've pretty much ruled jeans out of my daily wardrobe. I have only really been fond of skinny jeans, and as I've put weight on, I'm becoming more and more self conscious in them. I wore a pair yesterday for the first time in around 4 weeks and I didn't feel comfortable at all in public. I decided that my self confidence is at its best when I'm in pretty empire line or skater dresses. Not only do they hide a multitude of sins but I feel so much more feminine and girly in them, a place that I like to be.

So, as I'm beginning to completely rule jeans out of my wardrobe for the foreseeable future, I need to invest in a few more skater dresses. Due to the season change I am looking for dresses that have long sleeves (which is quite hard I tell thee!) that I can throw a chunkycardigan over the top and pair with either leggings and tights, with a pair of boots, and I'll be good (and confident!) to go.

Here are a few that I'm liking at the minute.. I'm not too sure about the one in the top left hand corner due to it being a midi.. I'm small so that will probably come to my ankles, leaving me clueless on how to style it! But I loved the colours and floral-ness of it too much to not include it!

Skater Day Dresses


Friday 18 October 2013

My Debenhams Dream Bedroom

I could spend hours browsing websites, finding pretty little things to go in my dream home. Shame there's always a dream price tag that comes with it.

When I heard that Debenhams were holding a competition (here) for us to create our dream room, it gave me the perfect excuse to get designing... again!

The rules for the competition was to spend a maximum of £5,000 in  Debenhams and showcase your dream room via your blog.

I decided to focus on my dream bedroom by going for a Parisian style theme with a touch of shabby chic-ness, so think mirrors, crystals, jewels, candles and lights and you're almost there. I've added a small touch of pastel pinks to break up the neutral colour scheme so that it adds a soft romantic vibe.

I'd start by wallpapering one feature wall with this Stone Jaquard Wallpaper, which is £16 per roll (x 2) . I think the floral pattern is feminine yet sophisticated with the colour tones, and would balance out any clinical appearance that may be created from the rest of the room, which would be painted with a 2.5lt tin of Matt Isle of White paint by Graham & Brown, £19.99.
I think the Grey Montgomery Curtains match perfectly with the wallpaper, and will again, break up the 'whiteness' of the room. These start at £76.
The Litecraft Madonna Chandelier, I think would be a fantastic focal point of the room, I've always wanted an expensive chandelier and think this would tie into the theme of the room perfectly with its delicate jewels and beads. I can really imagine this twinkling at night! This retails at £269.10.

Base Total = £397.09
The bed area I think is a vital point to any room. It's the largest item of any bedroom and usually takes centre stage, therefore its important to make it a talking point!
The Debenham's White Swirl Bed Frame I thought went perfectly with the shabby chic-ness of the room, adding a little uniqueness with the swirled frame, instead of the basic divan bed. This double bed retails at £425.
Where do I start with the White Atoniette Bedset? How adorable is this? The ruffles alone sold it to me. Everything about it is so pure and elegant. A double set is £65, with the pillow cases being sold separately at £28 a pair.
The Betty Jackson silver metallic zig-zag cushions (£35 each) I thought would offer a welcoming contrast to the other floral feminine items of the room, but still keeping within the silver/white colour scheme. I would have 2 of these sat on the bed, with the Accessorize White Oriental flower cushion sitting in the middle to soften things up (£18.40 each).
I would complete the bed area by intertwining these Debenhams pearly string lights (£24) on the headboard to offer a warm romantic glow in the evening.

Bed Total = £630.40
On either side of the bed I would place a Debenhams White Burlington Bedside Chest (£500 each x 2) which would hold a variety of things. I think its important that both people who are sharing the bed have access to a lamp for obvious reasons.. there's been numerous times when I've wanted to sleep but my partner has wanted to read but has no lamp! I'd place a Silver diamant table lamp on either side (£45 each) along with a John Rocha metal lace tealight holder (£7) on each bedside chest. Because I'm a bit of a clock watcher, I would place this pretty Debenhams Silver cut out diamant mantle clock (£16) on my bedside chest. I think its the perfect size for this area and ties in perfectly with the theme. On the opposing chest I would pop this designer white metal decorative mirror (£30), which would reflect any flickers from the candle to create a warm cosy vibe.

Bedside Chest Total = £1,150

Every woman needs her vanity area, whether she sits at it every day or it just stands there looking pretty, I think its a nice addition to any bedroom where a woman is concerned!
This gorgeous sleek Debenhams mirrored dressing table (£240) adds pure Parisian vibes to the room (lets think about the cleaning aspect later!). The silver hinged dressing table mirror by Julien McDonald (£40) I thought matched perfectly with the dressing table, adding a Venetian vibe.
I always like to see light against glass mirrors, so the Crystal Chandelier lamp (£60.72) will help satisfy that love!
Yet another candle, the white fairy dust candle (£15) will create that gorgeous soft flicker against the glass. Also the pastel soft pink tones will tie in with the other items that offer minimal colour within the room.
I don't think any room is complete without some floral goodness, so this roses and twigs vase (£18) offers that feminine yet mature elegance.

Vanity Total - £373.72
Its not until I was in a hotel room a few months ago that had a sofa in that I realized how good it would be to have a chill out area in your bedroom (if you are lucky enough to have the space). I don't like to retire to my bed until I'm ready to go to sleep so having somewhere to relax and read a good book before bed would be really nice. I found this Debenhams silver velvet snuggler chair (£660) which I thought was the perfect size for a bedroom. It looks really comfy and matches the colour scheme to a tee. I would use the same oriental cushions (x 2 = £36.80) as I did on the bed, just to tie it all together. I would also place this designer cream faux fur throw (£48) over the arm of the sofa to again, tie in the colour scheme. It would also be handy to have there for any chilly nights!

Chill Out Total - £744.80

Matching the bedside chests, I would invest in this Burling Triple Wardrobe (£1560) to house all my clothes! I liked the fact that there is a full length mirror on this as well which would come in handy for those outfit checks!

Wardrobe Total - £1560
To add a very accessories, I would place this Floral Printed Canvas on the wall (£19.99). On the windowsill, these glass candle holders (£5.50 each x 2) would take centre stage, and would sit alongside 2 gorgeous 3x3 white photo frames (£9 each x 2) which would hold photos of me and my partner. In one corner of the windowsill will sit this pretty Bombay Duck 3 tier cake cup stand (£52) which would house my jewellery, filling the cute teacup with my rings.

Wall/Windowsill Total - £100.99
After all that hard work decorating, my first night in my Parisian themed bedroom would be celebrated by sticking with the French theme and indulging with the Debenhams Cava and Diamonte Flute Set (£30) and some luxury chocolate from Debenhams Chocolate Library (£13) (although hands off the sesame seed one, that's mine!). I'd just have to be careful not to make a mess on my gorgeous new white bedding!

Celebrate Total - £43.

If you do the maths right, you'll realize that I have spent a total of..... £5,000. Right on target! What are the possibilities of that?!
My diamonte flutes say 'Cheers!'
All prices subject to change, depending on sales etc.

Sunday 13 October 2013

American Beauty Giveaway!

A couple of months ago you may remember I hosted a small competition after picking up a few beauty goodies on my trip to Florida that you guys had requested. Admittedly a tad late, but I announced the winner of that giveaway last week and she still has not come forward, therefore I'm giving you the chance to win them all over again! This time via Rafflecopter...


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!

My Travel Cosmetics - How to pack lightly

In a few days time I am lucky enough to be jetting away once again for a week in Turkey.  I've been to many places around the world, but Turkey hasn't been one of them, so I'm excited to explore a new country!

Over the years, whether it be abroad or weekends away on home grounds, I feel like I have almost got the knack of how to pack lightly (which as us females know, is pretty hard when it comes to all of our 'essentials!'). I've exceeded my luggage limit on several occasions on the way back from my holidays (luckily they've never said anything, but its always that 'what if'?). I've also lost track the amount of times my boyfriend and I go on weekends away in the UK but decide to take the train. The same thing happens - we have to check out of our hotel room in the morning, but our train isn't till the evening, so we are left with 2 holdall's, as well as extra shopping bags that we've accumulated over our stay, lugging them around the city all day till our train arrives. Its not fun.

Today I've got some good tips on how to save on space and luggage weight to make room for all those gifts on your return home!

This blog post is going to be purely on make-up, so if you are wondering where my fragrance, deodorant or exfoliator is, that's for another post!

This is my current travel bag and I love it. Its only a cheap Primark one which I picked up in the Spring time, but I love how bright it is and how much it fits in. If I was going on holiday for 2 weeks I would have to take another cosmetics bag alongside this, but generally, for 1 week this normally does a good job at housing both my cosmetics and all my other toiletries as well.
For my 1 week away in the heat, this is what I will be taking with me, which if I'm honest, I think is pretty good going for someone that wears make-up every day!

Lets take a closer look... (if you're observant enough you may notice an added item that wasn't in the 'group' photo, brownie points to those that spot it!)

From L-R - MeMeMe highlighter. I love highlighters on the cheekbones on holiday after a day of tanning, I just feel like highlighter and glowy skin are meant for each other!
Rimmel Lasting Finish 25hr wear foundation. I know some may think this is quite heavy for a sun holiday but sometimes my skin plays havoc so its for the times I'm feeling a little less confident!
Collection2000 lasting finish concealer (which is hiding!) 
Givenchy Mascara (so tiny!)
Collection2000 Fix Me Up make-up fixer
(A very battered) Urban Decay primer
Dr Jart's BB Crème for when I'm feeling fresh and flawless!
One for the lips - Kate Moss' Lipstick in No3 (My fave!)
Laqa & Co lipstick
Burts Bee's lipbalm (I wear lipbalm almost every day because my lips tend to get a little sore without it)
Collection2000 waterproof mascara for those swimming/beach days!
Rimmel Apocalips lip laquer in 'Apocaliptic'
In the forefront is a snippet of Rimmel's 'Stay Matte' pressed powder to keep that shine at bay while away!

Mica Belle Cosmetics - Mineral Bronzer
Beautiful Movements - Prime and Create Face Primer

Blink & Go Eyeshadow Palette

Blink & Go Blush
Top Tips on how to pack lightly
Flexibility. Packing lightly requires you to be fairly flexible. If you are someone that is dedicated to a certain brand and specific holy grail products that you struggle to venture away from, you may find this a little difficult. Luckily there are lots of travel bottles to decant your products into, but at times you are going to hit barriers whereby decanting is not an option. Luckily I'm always open to new products. My Blink & Go Eyeshadow & Blush palette above isn't the most ideal due to the shape of the pans and the awkwardness it creates when trying to dip your make-up brush in, however I need to pack lightly, so it's mind over matter! (In an ideal world I would love to take my Urban Decay NYC Eyeshadow Book everywhere but its just not practical...)
Save miniatures. I am subscribed to 2 beauty boxes so I am in constant flow of small travel sized products. If I know that I am due to go away, I will put certain products aside in order to save them for my trip, no matter how appealing they are and the fact that I want to use them right there and then! If you are not subscribed to any beauty boxes, save miniatures that you receive as gifts, maybe at Christmas or Birthdays. You may get a free sample of something in a magazine that is the perfect size for travel, or even as a freebie from a beauty counter. If you think you will use it.. save it!
Type of holiday? Are you venturing into the sun or is ski-ing more your thing? Either way, think about where you are going and the duration and the activities you may be partaking in. For the most part, it wont change a great deal, but for example if I was going ski-ing, I certainly wouldn't be taking my waterproof mascara, so we're down 1 product already! Duration is also an important one - for example my miniature Givenchy mascara probably wouldn't see me through 2 weeks so I'd upsize to a larger one.
Doubling up. There are many products out there now that are 2 in 1, 3 in 1, and sometimes 4 in 1... lipglosses with colour at one end and a clear gloss at the other, or a lipgloss and cheek tint in 1. Moving a little off cosmetics and more into toiletries but shampoo and conditioner - buy 2 in 1, will save you so much weight! My doubling up product for my make-up is my Blink & Go palette - 1 layer is THE perfect array of colours for either a golden or smokey eye, then the 2nd layer provides me with 2 blushes. This means I don't have to carry lots of individual pigments with me which is fab. I am however more of a bronzer girl, so I dug in my stash of minis and found a tiny mineral bronzer, perfect! Also, are you going on holiday with anyone alike? Maybe a sister or a female friend whose also into make-up. Compare lists and see if there is anything you can share. Come to an agreement whereby you both take different things then put them altogether once you arrive. (This definitely comes in handy with the more heavier hair items such as hair straighteners and hair driers etc! Although no fighting on whose having them first!).
Decant. I'm sure many of you would have seen them by now - Primark do a stash of travel sized bottles for all your lotions and potions, with stickers as well so you don't forget what product is what. I'm almost sure they are only £1 so definitely wont break the bank! Or if you happen to use up a mini bottle - save it, rinse it and re-fill it with your own product to save you money.
Be Mindful. So, you've just purchased your favourite body crème. Its that delicious that you want to take it on holiday with you too, however the bottle is a little big and bulky. Its 2 weeks till your holiday - start using it now and stop when you think you have enough product to last you on your holiday. That way, you're not taking a full bottle of body crème with you, knowing full well you'll only use half of it! More weight that you don't need! Try do this with as many products you can.
Bin It. This applies more to every day toiletries such as shampoo's/conditioners/sun lotion.  Going back to the first pointer of trying to be flexible, you've just bought some herbal essence shampoo and have used 3 quarters of it on holiday and its now home time. Would you be prepared to throw it away in order to gain some weight & space in your luggage for all those extra souvenirs you've bought? Bringing £20 BedHead shampoo would be a little more difficult in parting with! (Now can you see why you need to be flexible?!). Also, with certain products (i.e. sun lotions, face cooling mists etc) these have an expiry date on them - check them before you depart from your destination - ask yourself will you be going on holiday before the expiry date hits? If not, throw them! I find it so liberating being able to throw products away at the end of my holiday, knowing that my suitcase is becoming lbs lighter and I'm getting further away from getting charged from exceeding my luggage limit! (Oh, and the fact that I can do even more last minute shopping!) ;-)
 Research. Check out what your hotel offers before you go. Going back to point #1, most hotels offer complimentary soap, shower gel and hair products. Could you make do with their offerings? I know the shampoo certainly wouldn't cover my hair with the amount of it so I like a back up, but for the shower gel, its something worth considering if you know they will get replenished every day. Research also comes in handy for hair driers. I hate taking my hair dryer with me, but a lot of hotels have started to include this in the room now (as well as travel irons) so check them out!
These are the rules I follow each time I go away on my travels.. I hope these have helped some of you in order to pack lightly for your next trip!

Saturday 12 October 2013

Lifestyle: Instagram it October! Days 1 - 12

So a few weeks ago you maybe remember a post I did saying that I am going to be doing the 'Instagram it October' challenge. I did this in August and quite enjoyed it, so decided to do it again this month. For those that are new to this concept, its quite self explanatory, but you take one photo a day (possibly the 'highlight' of your day) and upload it to Instagram, then share your monthly highlights on here.. simples!

The last 12 days have been fairly quiet, hence why a lot of my photos consist of food, which have quite clearly been the highlight of my day! But I promise the next 2 weeks will be interesting - I am about to travel to sunnier climates, and then shortly after my return I'm heading to London...
Top Right - Nothing like starting a new month off with a trip to probably one of the nicer restaurants in town whilst having a good catch up with an old friend.
Top Left - Chinese buffet
Bottom Left - My favourite statement necklace, love it.
Bottom Right - Indulging in one of my first ever lattes (yeah, I'm a little slow on the bandwagon!)
Top Left - Getting the slow cooker out for the first time this season and making stew and dumps!
Top right - Sorting through allllll my body creams and forcing myself to do a 'shop my stash!'
Bottom Left - Nail Art (the blue looks two different shades but I promise its not!)
Bottom Right - A nice surprise card and chocs from my boyfriends sister, thanking us for our help with a problem she's enduring at the minute.

Top Left - A slice of cake at work - Our works building has recently moved to a brand spanking new site/building, and a new café has just opened in there that are baking cakes on a daily basis - We can go in and request what we would like to be baked for the next day (far too convenient for my liking!). Me and a few of the girls have had a few naughty slices of cake this week mid afternoon, and this was one of them. Whats worse, the cake is only 60p a slice. Wowzers. Willpower is seriously going to have to kick in here!
Top right - Erm, more food (this is going well isn't it?!) - Ben & Jerry's Icecream - I used to love this but actually found this rather sickly.
Bottom Left - A freebie after I made a boohoo purchase. A nice weekly treat!
Bottom Right - My Glossybox that arrived today! Not too happy with this one, the sizes are a bit of a let down.

So that's the last 12 days! Its safe to say I've been a bit of a fatty!

Have you been up to anything exciting this October?


Friday 11 October 2013

Interior Design: My Future Hallway Decor

My Dream Hallway

Ever since moving into our first home I have had visions of what i'd love my hallway to look like. I think hallways are an important part of the home because its the place that guests encounter first upon entering your home, and if you're house proud like me, you'll want them to have pleasant memories of their first impression.

We currently have laminate flooring down the hallway and cream carpet up the stairs and landing. We have a very typical neutral colour scheme going on of creams and light browns which we havent really done anything with since moving in over 2 years ago.

My ideal hallway would be carpeted with a thick cream carpet (very impractical but very luxurious and whilst I havent got children....!). I would go for a silver grey tone floral wallpaper with mirrored accessories. I have been eyeing up the parisian drawers for too long now.. this would pop in the corner of my hallway and be home to the lamp, candle and jewelled bowl which would come in handy to pop house keys in when entering through the front door. Having the lamp on and candle lit at night, reflecting off the mirrored table I think would create a really soft romantic aura.

I cant wait to get cracking!

Thursday 10 October 2013

Recipe: Cake in a Mug - Blogger Carnival

I'm not an avid baker by any means, in fact over the last few months I'm realizing that in fact I'm a fairly poor baker, and much better at cooking! However I do still enjoy to bake when the mood takes me, and I have been known to quickly whip something tasty up if we're lacking sweet treats in the house. Sometimes however, I don't have the time to spend hours baking, so when I came across this competition from Whittard to show your 'cake in a mug' skills, I thought it was a win-win situation - a competition entry and cake for me in one!

I delved into my cupboard and chose the biggest mug I could find and got to work!

I used a recipe from my ever growing 'sweet tooth' Pinterest board and adapted it slightly to suit me and my chocolatey needs!

4 Tablespoons of Self Raising Flour
4 Tablespoons of Sugar
2 Tablespoons of cocoa
1 egg
3 Tablespoons of milk
3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 Large chocolate bar, chopped (this was my substitute, you can use anything... nuts, fruit etc)
1 Large mug
1 Tablespoon
And a microwave to cook it in!
Combine the flour, sugar and egg together. Add cocoa, followed by oil and milk. Thoroughly mix. Add the chopped up chocolate (you can add as much or as little as you like). Mix well.
Pop it in the microwave for 3 minutes... watch it rise, wait for it to *ping* and there you go - a 5 minute sponge cake. Scrummy!
'Decorate' it as you wish - I popped some whipped cream on top (which very quickly disappeared and melted from the heat!) but was still delicious! I also popped some left over chocolate chunks on top of the cream.. can't have any going to waste now!
I really was impressed with this... it tasted very similar to the Cadbury sponges that you can buy. The cake was really moist, and the chocolate chunks really did help, giving a gooey melted mess inside, and surprisingly it wasn't sickly. The cake was that big I had to end up sharing it (which is something very rare with me and chocolate!) so next time I'm going to choose another mug! 

This is something I'll definite revisit in the future for a quick fix when I'm craving something sweet!

Have you ever made a cake in a mug before?

(This post is an entry to the Whittard of Chelsea cake in a mug Blogger carnival)

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