Thursday, 31 December 2015

15 of 2015!

 Yup, I am officially one of "those" bloggers who is about to hit you with a wealth of 2015/2016 blog posts. I couldn't resist and after my blogging game has been seriously hit or miss all year I wanted to do a nice round up of all the things I've been loving this year for you!

First up is the by Terry Touche Veloutee Concealer - this has saved my bacon daily for most of this year and it's still going strong. I've reviewed it in full here but it's a bit like a hybrid of the Touche Eclat and NARS Creamy Concealer, you get a fair bit of coverage as with a normal concealer but it's also brightened up my under eye area. It's been a life saver for me during my first Trimester of pregnancy when no matter how much I slept I still felt and looked exhausted.

Next is the Rimmel London Exaggerate Full Colour Lip Liner, it's actually more of a homage to the fact that I'm using any form of lip liner at all, I like the Rimmel Exaggerate ones as you don't have to sharpen them and they're good value for money but something I'm looking to invest in more in 2016 is high end Lip Liners to see what difference they make.

Anastasia Dip Brow Pomade was something that I wanted to try for a while and on my birthday in October I finally treated myself, I thought I'd got it made with my Stila Eyebrow Pen however I find this slightly nicer to use and creates a more dramatic look. You can build it up if you want stronger brows or if, like me, you prefer to look quite natural then you can do so with a light hand too.

It wouldn't really be truthful for me to not include at least one pregnancy product, the Clarins Tonic Oil has been my most luxurious pregnancy product so far, it's my 5 minutes of luxury every morning whilst slathering this on my bump. It's expensive but so worth it and I've not got any stretch marks yet!

Another Clarins essential is their Instant Light Lip Perfectors, again I haven't put my entire collection here as I think I have about 5 or 6 now but these are perfect for popping on quickly if I've forgotten to do anything or if I just want a quick and natural look. There is a full review of them here and I will be posting on their new colours for 2016 very soon. I don't think I'll ever get enough of these and I know they'll be perfect for next year when I'm a busy Mummy!

Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish must be on most people's ultimate favourite lists, it's just the perfect hot cloth cleanser and one that I always keep in my collection. It never breaks me out and always leaves my skin looking polished and ready for the day. The full review is right here and I know that it'll be something I use throughout 2016 too.

Next up is a purchase that I actually made quite late into the year however have fallen head over heels for.. It's the YSL Luxurious Mascara. It gives me thick, full lashes and doesn't drop or go grey-ish throughout the day. I got it in a Christmas Set in early November and you can read the full review of that here if you wish but I am still yet to review it separately.

For my birthday I also treated myself to the Zoeva Rose Gold Brush Collection, unfortunately I'm struggling to keep them all clean at once long enough for to take photos and write up a review but I use them every single day. I sometimes forget that I have certain ones and find it in my pot to be pleasantly surprised!

I decided in the summer that I needed to invest in a good moisturiser, falling pregnant meant that my skin went a erratic and I put my trust in Origins to sort me out. I wasn't wrong to as the GinZing moisturiser has not only lasted me absolutely ages (and I still have loads left). I reviewed it in full back in June (gosh I can't quite believe I'm had it that long!) and I'd still say I have over half left.

When the Clarins Everlasting + Foundation launched earlier in the year I had a little play with it in store and then didn't think much of it. That is until I was sent some and I must say it's probably my most used foundation since. Some people find it a bit drying but I personally use a good moisturiser (see above) and primer and find that it's fine!

The Stila Stay All Day Liquid Eyeliner is one of those products for me that I actually have a back up in case the one I use spontaneously runs out for any reason. No liquid eyeliner has come even nearly close to the longevity, ease of use and depth of black that this one offers, but you can read more about all of that here... 

Perfume is another thing that I've really been getting into over the last few months, when I worked in a department store you have pick of the bunch every day and I fell in love with loads but it wasn't until later in the year when I really developed my collection. I bought the Jimmy Choo EDP because I really liked it as an every day fragrance but it's taken me by surprise with how much I've fallen in love with it.

The Clarins Ombre Matte Eyeshadows have featured so heavily in my both my day-to-day looks and when I'm going out. The staying power is incredible and they blend into one another so so easily. I actually have almost the entire collection of these but 2, 4 and 6 are definitely my favourites.

This year I was determined to find an exfoliator that I loved as much as the Clarins Gentle Refiner but that wasn't as pricey and the N Spa Brightening Micro-Derma Scrub is definitely that. It's not quite as effective, luxurious or gentle as the Clarins but it's such a fraction of the price that I can overlook it for every day use. It's another thing that I've now realised I've never done a full review of!

I seem to have saved the best (and my favourite of my favourites) until last - the Soigné Nail Polishes. I only own 2 other polishes that aren't by this brand and that's because I'm sat waiting for Soigné to bring out a deep plum and purple colour. Hopefully they'll come next year and I can have a completely Soigne collection!

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Thursday, 17 December 2015

My Perfume Collection

A slightly different post from myself today as I thought I'd share with you my favourites from my perfume collection! After working in a cosmetics department over Christmas last year I seriously fell in love with different fragrances for the first time in my life. I'd never normally been bothered by perfumes but after being surrounded for them and being able to try them at my leisure I fell in love with all of the above and have slowly added them all to my collection over the past year. Armani Si Intense was first introduced to me in Stansted Airport before I think it had really been released into the shops properly and it's safe to say I was hooked from the first time I sprayed it. It's deep and sexy and lasts for absolutely hours, it's rather pricey but you only need a small amount at the start of the day and it will see you right through until home time. I tend to reach for this on date nights or for a night out as it's a very mature scent as opposed to being particularly pretty. Next up is certainly the "prettiest" scent of them all, Signorina by Ferragamo. Again it's the EDP (I don't tend to wear Eau de Toilette as I find it doesn't last on me) and I actually bought the Eleganza version of this for my Sister to wear on her Wedding day. It's a light and pretty scent but still lingers nicely, I love putting on a certain scarf of mine that I think will smell like this forever. If any of these could be "my scent" I think I would chose this one as it's so simple and uncomplicated yet gets me so many compliments. Next up is Chloe's signature perfume, it's quite a strong one and I'll admit it took me a couple of wears around the department to decide whether I loved it or loathed it but in the end I fell head over heels. This one has real staying power and I find that I get compliments on my perfume even at the end of the day, for that reason I chose to wear this on my Sister's big day and will continue to do so on every special occasion as I know it'll last and last and I won't have to even think about needing a top up. Lastly is Jimmy Choo EDP, I think that this one is actually James' favourite of the lot, it's very sweet but still a deep and sultry scent, I reach for this mostly for work as it's similar to the Armani Si Intense but not quite so... intense and feels a bit more work appropriate. Plus it's nowhere near as pricey so I don't feel as guilty using it just for work or a day out shopping. I can always smell this on my clothes in my wardrobe if they've not been washed since (I'm talking jumpers, not vests and things!) so it's another for good staying power. There's definitely a theme with my collection that they all last all day (or night) long and I suppose I was lucky enough to only purchase those that I had tried and tested. For that reason I'd definitely recommend going to any cosmetics department and asking to try them and go off shopping for the day before making a purchase if a long lasting scent is important to you. They're also all fairly strong scents as I like to be able to smell it on myself, even if that does mean overloading people near me! so if you're into a scent that will last on you on all day then any of these are made for you!

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Tuesday, 15 December 2015

AEOS Optimal Essentials

AEOS Optimal Essentials Kit* £68 -  If you're looking to splash the cash this Christmas on someone you love and want to treat but know that they won't treat themselves, then this skincare kit is the one for you. It is pricey at £68 but the quality of the skincare inside is fantastic as is sure to make whoever you decide to give this to (if you can bare to part with it!) truly pampered skin. I know of a few ladies myself (I'm looking at you, Sister) who could do with being exposed to some fabulous skincare and would refuse to buy it for themselves without giving it a thorough go first and what better way to enable someone to do that than by gifting them 11 luxury samples (generous samples at that I might add) for them to try, and fall in love with. I also think when buying luxury skincare that it's a bit of a risky one really, you don't want them to think it's the bees knees but then not be able to afford it, so perhaps don't go giving this to your 16 year old cousin if you're going to cause a headache later on when she wants the full sized products! However if you know it's sustainable for them to carry on using once they've given it a go then why not? I also make it clear when gifting something such as this that if they do really like it, to let me know and I'll be sure to snap it up for them on andy upcoming birthday's or Mother's Day. AEOS is a brand that I didn't know much about before they ever so kindly sent me this however after trying each product there isn't one that I don't like! They're super luxurious and remind me of being at a spa but in the comfort of my own home. I tend to keep them for real pamper nights when the other half is at work and I can really indulge myself (so maybe a good idea for a new mummy who could do with some "me" time?). I think that the list is endless of people you could get this for and the fact that it comes so beautifully presented makes it a fantastic present this festive season. 

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Sunday, 13 December 2015

New Mum Questions Pt 2

I'm not sure if you guys liked my first "New Mum Questions" post but I received some really good answers on twitter and personally via text to all of them that definitely put my mind at ease. I'm not sure how many more of these I'll do (probably at least another one as I nowhere near know enough yet!) but you can find the first one here. I knew as soon as I wrote that one there'd be another as I've never felt so out of my depth but I'm very lucky to have you guys to help me muddle through this!

1. Maternity Leave, when is too early? - At the moment I'm scheduled to leave my full time job two weeks before I'm due to give birth, it fits in fairly nicely that I have to use one week as "maternity leave" (as it has to start on a Sunday and I'm due on a Friday, it's the minimum that I could take) and one week as holiday, but will two weeks be enough and am I asking too much of myself? I want to be as fair to my employer as possible and not just have to give up at short notice but then I want to keep as much of my maternity leave to actually be with my little girl.

2. Maternity Bras - At what point should I start using one? Plenty of my normal bras still fit me fine even though my boobs have grown astronomically. Am I doing myself harm in not wearing a maternity bra from a certain point in my pregnancy? I'm not uncomfortable and I don't want to be wasting money prematurely.

3. Cot Bumpers - They look absolutely beautiful and really set off a nice cot bed but are they safe? I've read a few articles saying that they can be bad for the baby (although I'm not sure why) however if I'm placing her at the foot of the bed and therefore away from the head where the bumper will be, what's the harm?

4. Spa Days Yay or Nay? - I will hold my hands up and say that I'm verging on addicted to spa days, I have at least one already penciled in for next year but ideally want one fairly close to having my baby to relax me when I'l probably be feeling most uncomfortable. But when's the closest to my due date that I should be going? I'd like to go in my 2 week maternity leave and possibly wouldn't go on my own just in case (oh look at that Mum, you'll have to come with me).

5. Stocking up Vs Over loading - We've started stocking up on nappies and wipes but how many will we need? At the moment we have 72 of the first size and 48 each of the next two sizes up. I don't pretend to think that'll be enough of either but also don't want to be left with loads too many if she's grown so quickly out of them.

6. Baby Bouncers - I know of some Mum's personally that can't live without their baby seats that either gently bounce or rock their little one to sleep but I've read in a few books to be wary of the baby becoming dependent on them to drop off. We're not really in a financial position to be splashing the cash on things we won't use but if it's best for the baby then we're not so hard up that she'll have to go without. I just don't fancy walking around rocking her to sleep every time she stirs.

7. Shaping up for labour - I actually got into a really good routine before falling pregnant and was super happy with my figure, obviously now it's a little rounder in the middle but although I've only put on 6lbs in weight (at the time of writing this on the 5th December, that is) I definitely don't feel as physically strong or "tight". Am I safe to do exercises such as squats, lunges, leg raises etc. Are stomach exercises bad now? Obviously swimming is my exercise of choice but unfortunately we don't have our own pool at our house and I want to come up with a nice little regime that I can do every night before bed.

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Thursday, 10 December 2015

Clarins The Essentials Eye Make-Up Palette

Clarins The Essentials Eye Make-Up Palette* £35 - First of all sorry (not sorry) for the fact I've obviously used this palette before photographing it, quite simply, I wanted to use it on my sister's wedding day so I couldn't resist! When this arrived on my doorstep I was a little nervous opening it. The exterior isn't what I would call luxury as I'm sure it's made from hardened card as opposed to plastic which did make me wonder just how portable this is. Having said that, this has since survived the trip to Oxford for the aforementioned wedding and also to my friends for my office Christmas party and it's not got any marks or signs of being battered about! I was pleasantly surprised, however to find that it comes with a brush that's actually really rather good! I hate transporting brushes as well as palettes around as you can guarantee I'll either forget to take it with me, or forget to bring them home again but this one is double ended meaning you get a fluffy blending brush and a finer detailer all in one. If you weren't fussed on using too many colours you could do your entire look with just this palette and brush alone. The colours themselves are wonderful, they're neutral but the purples and pinks add a little something to them that I don't really have in any other palettes. I find that I reach for this on both normal Saturdays when I want something simple for the day time and also ready for a (rare) night out to celebrate Christmas or a date night with my fella! The darkest colours could also be used as an eyeliner. This would make a wonderful Christmas Present for either someone that you love dearly (It is £35 after all!) but also for someone who you perhaps didn't know so well such as a Sister-in-law or a pricier Secret Santa, the colours are non-offensive and there are combinations in there to suit absolutely everyone so it'd be a really safe bet whilst still being extremely luxurious and, as always with Clarins, fabulous quality. I know I'd certainly be thrilled to receive this in my stocking!

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Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Yves Saint Laurent Luxurious Mascara Christmas Gift Set

Yves Saint Laurent Luxurious Mascara Christmas Gift Set £18.75 - I actually stumbled across this way back when in October/November if my memory serves me correct, I was on the hunt for a new mascara after my old faithful Stila Glamoureyes had run out and thought I might try a more high end product. I've has Benefit and Clarins Mascaras before but never something from YSL. Truth be told, I've never actually owned any YSL make up in my life! This time of year is always wonderful for gift sets and if you were eyeing up any of your high end favourites, it's always worth finding out whether or not you can get a few added extras thrown in for free. The mascara itself is wonderful and I've used it religiously every day since purchasing it however I'm going to review that separately later on so I shan't go into too much detail. The one included in this set is the Luxurious Mascara to give a False Lash Effect, I personally don't usually go for the "false lash" look as my lashes are super long anyway so it's easy for them to end up looking like spider's legs however if I'm brutally honest with you, I had this put on me whilst a girl in House of Fraser did my whole face ready for a date night that I really couldn't be bothered to prepare for myself (I was upfront and honest with her that I wasn't actually looking to buy, just feeling pregnant and lazy and could she possibly do my makeup as the store was quiet? Speaking as an ex-counter manager myself, it's not a bad thing. I'd have loved someone to kill time with some days!) low and behold, however, she got a sneaky purchase out of me. I also got a sample of their latest foundation (also doing a full review on that later) however wasn't sold there and then so decided to just go for it. At the time I think I paid £25 for it however I've just seen that on Debenhams it's only £18.75, so you're getting a bargain on the mascara and two extra samples for free! The little extras are their "Top Secrets Toning and Cleansing Water", it looks similar to many that I've seen before however is a little greasy for my liking. It'd be fine if you were removing your makeup and going straight into cleansing etc but for me I just didn't enjoy it and much prefer my Garnier £4.99 version. You also get a New Top Secrets Instant Moisture Glow which reminded me much of the Illamasqua Radiance Veil, again for me it didn't wow me enough to want to go and purchase it. It's lovely underneath a foundation if you do want that extra glow however I'm fairly lucky that pregnancy is doing that for me, and for free! I'll keep it handy for post-baby when I'll be desperate for a pick me up but for now, it's one product I could kinda live without. The obvious bonus if you're buying this as a gift is that it looks so much more substantial than just the mascara on it's own. I know from experience that buying makeup can sometimes make it look a little lacking in the packaging department and often go way over budget buying extras to make the present look more appealing. This just looks like a little bit more than a tiny mascara box and you never know, it may give them ideas for presents in 2016 (I'm looking at you, pesky mother's who always say they don't want anything!). I know that I cheekily bought this for myself and I have been loving it on the run up to Christmas however it would make a wonderful gift for either a friend, sister or your Mum on the big day and the mascara itself is also fabulous. 

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Sunday, 6 December 2015

22 Week Bump-Date & Gender Reveal

How far along: 22 Weeks & 2 Days
Days until due date: 124 days
My bump: Getting bigger now, it seems to have gotten "rounder" too.
Weight changes: I actually weighed myself out of curiosity the other day and found that I've only put on 6lbs since getting pregnant. 
Stretch marks? Nothing new so far!
Cravings: Still loving my eggs, but I find I have one-off random cravings such as Diet Coke and as much pasta as you can throw at me.
Sleep: Dreadful, the slightest thing wakes me up and I spend all day exhausted. I can only really sleep when I'm on my own in bed but I keep having nightmares and waking up wanting James. 
Symptoms: I'm still struggling with big meals, I feel starving hungry but then am full after a few bites. I'm also really groggy (probably due to the lack of sleep) and aches and pains are becoming more frequent.
Best moment this week: We actually found out the sex a week ago now but I've only just found the time to grab my laptop and write an update! They're in a little routine for movements now which is quite reassuring and James can feel them kicking away too, which seriously melted my heart. 
Worst moment this week: Trying to think of a name, we just can't agree! We have plenty of time though so not to worry, I'm also finally bursting out of my normal clothes and I think I only have until just after Christmas before I'll have to ditch them for something roomier. 
Miss anything? Not having to carefully think of the wriggle room in each outfit, sleep and pate!
Maternity clothes: I own a few pairs of maternity trousers but as nowhere near me seems to stock maternity wear in store I'm struggling to find a style and fit that I like. I'm not regularly wearing maternity clothes yet but I don't think it'll be long!
Movement: We can both feel them kick now and sometimes it's like I can feel that they're turning over or just generally wriggling around. Gender: It's a girl! After a really disappointing anomaly scan where they couldn't see and therefore wouldn't say for sure, James kindly paid for us to go just two days later to The Brayford Studios where they confirmed that we definitely have a daughter on the way!
Belly button in/out: In
Mood: I've started doing irregular bit of exercise and swim at least once a week, I also want to do some squats and things but need to research into what's safe. I always feel more positive the more active I am and maybe it'll help me sleep better.  
Looking forward to: Her cot-bed arrives on Monday and today we received her Angelcare device. I love that it all seems to be coming together and can't wait for the January sales to go and raid Kiddicare and Ikea to finish off her furniture. 

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Thursday, 12 November 2015

New Mum Questions Pt 1

 Although it was a conscious decision to start trying for a baby and we both felt 100% ready, I've still found myself overwhelmed with different questions. Some of them ridiculous (asking if babies needed jabs before they went outside like a puppy was a particular low point) and some of them truly terrifying. I'm very lucky to have some magnificent mummies follow me on twitter and instagram and I often post a question and get so much support back but after deciding this weekend that we really need to crack on with some of the bigger purchases, I found myself sat in the coffee shop with my head swirling full of questions that could prove costly if I got it wrong! I've already named this post "Pt 1" as I'm sure it won't be my last one but these are the questions that I've been pondering so far, so if you know the answers or can direct me to any books or website that will help me - please do!

1. Grobag vs Blankets - We think that we'll be using a co-sleeper for the first 6 months during the night, and although I've seen babies in cots with Grobags, I've never actually seen a baby in a co-sleeper (probably because I've never been in the room when a new mum has been asleep next to her baby...). Can I use a Grobag with a co-sleeper or will it be too big to fit in?

2. Co-Sleeping with the Co-Sleeper - Something I've seen a few Mums that I know have trouble with it getting their little one to transfer into their own bedroom after 6 months in a Co-Sleeper, something I want to try is having the baby in the Co-Sleeper whenever I'm also in bed, but for their naps during the day have them in their cot, in their room. Is this a terrible idea?! Or might it help my baby differentiate between night-sleep and day-sleep and hopefully help with the transition later on?

3. Expressing into the "wrong" bottle - I'm fairly set on expressing once the baby is here. As much as I can't wait to breast feed, I don't like the thought of James missing out on essential bonding time. I want to use the Dr Browns bottles as I've heard really good things, but they only seem to have a manual breast pump and I want to use the Medela Swing Electric Pump, can I mix and match bottles to pump?

4. Car Seat & Prams - I think this may have been answered on my Instagram however - do I need to have the matching car seat to my pram? James is keen to use the base and only have to take the car seat out with him (I'm less so, I think Carrycot's look cuter!), so do we have to have the right one or do they all clip in to each other?

5. High-Chair-Gate - Essentially, we can't decide on a high chair, I long for a Tripp Trapp but James wants a more modern Joie Mimzy. It's the only thing we really disagree on so do we have to decide now? Surely the baby won't start weaning for a good 6 months so do we even need one until then? It may just give us some extra breathing space (and time for me to convince him that Tripp Trapps are a fab investment!)

6. Nursing Chair vs Arm Chair - When we found out we were pregnant and started planning our nursery, we instantly said that we'd source most of it from Ikea and in particular, have a Poang chair for nursing and reading. We've since been warned that it'll be no good and you need a specialist nursing chair with high side, is this true or will it be okay with a nursing pillow to support baby?

7. Books Books Books - I've always been a bit of a swot and love learning, so if anyone can recommend any good books for after the baby is born (I'm good with pregnancy books but beyond giving birth I'm clueless) then I'd really appreciate it, I think we'd lulled ourselves into a false sense of having loads of time but we're nearly half way through already and neither of us know what to expect in those first few days!

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Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Travelodge #Bloggerslodge | Review

When my sister announced that she would be getting married in Oxford, my bank balance instantly groaned and panic set in about where I was going to stay for the entire weekend. We live just over 3 hours away from Oxford and the hotel that they chose to get married in was pricey to say the very least so we knew we couldn't afford two nights there and there didn't seem to be many more reasonably priced hotels within the area. Luckily, this blog never fails to surprise me and I was so kindly offered the chance to spend a night in the Oxford Peartree Travelodge* the night before the wedding.

The Oxford Travelodge is ideally situated (for us anyway) as it was straight off of the road we took into Oxford, meaning that we didn't have to hunt around for it at all. We did end up going round the roundabout three times as no word of lie, it is the very first turning, blink and you'll miss it. But that could well be because it was gone 8pm and James had done a full day at work before driving for three hours. I was slightly worried that getting into the City Centre the next morning might be a nightmare but James took it upon himself to go for a hunt around very early in the morning whilst he let me sleep to find his bearings. We were literally 10 minutes away from the venue meaning that whilst it saved us valuable time the night before and meant that we didn't have to faff around in a city centre in the dark, it also wasn't so far out that we then felt we have a massive journey onwards the next morning.

In terms of quality, it was a Travelodge. They've improved over the past 5 years since I started using them for training courses (I'm still haunted by a cracked mirror with what looked like blood on it in the Milton Keynes branch back in 2011) and the bed was comfy, however "breakfast" was a bit of a stretch in that it was a breakfast box with essentially a yoghurt and some cereal in, not really what we were expecting and certainly not enough to last us until the Wedding Breakfast at 3pm. Similarly it meant that we had to leave the hotel to feed ourselves that night however, like most Travelodges, it was surrounded by a service station that luckily had a KFC, M&S and Starbucks in, or there was a restaurant in the neighbouring Holiday Inn.

It was clean, the staff were friendly and the bed was comfortable. The pillows were far too soft but that's a matter of opinion so I never hold things such as that against a hotel. What more do you want from a hotel really? Travelodge's are a fantastic choice if you just need somewhere to get your head down for the night either before a flight or holiday, or if you're away on business. I wouldn't necessarily stay in one for a romantic weekend away purely because they're not overly stressless in terms of then having to find other places to eat and I think it's a general rule of theirs that they are never placed centrally, they're usually found on the outskirts of a town or city and for £50, you can't go far wrong.

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Sunday, 8 November 2015

18 Week Bump-Date!

How far along: 18 Weeks + 2 Days
Days until due date: 151 days
My bump: Growing nicely and looking more and more like a baby bump every day!
Weight changes: We've decided that I'm going to step off of the scales, the hospital and midwife will weigh us when they need to.
Stretch marks? Nothing new so far!
Cravings: I still crave eggs all of the time but James has made me take a step back from eating 2 a day!
Sleep: I think today I'm going to invest in new pillows and I have a Dreamgenii pillow on the way to hopefully help me sleep better and not keep kicking James out of bed. 
Symptoms: I still can't eat as much as I used to and my mood swings are becoming terrible. I'm also getting ridiculously crazy dreams.
Best moment this week: Feeling lots of movement in the second half of the week, after feeling so poorly and a scary Tuesday afternoon, it's a welcome feeling to know that they're wriggling around in there. 
Worst moment this week: 4hrs in A&E! When I went to my Doctors about my stinking cold (which I had to basically curl up and power through with no medicine, not fun) I mentioned that I hadn't felt baby move in four days which was unusual, after speaking to my midwife on the phone they advised that I go to hospital but as I'm only 18 weeks the labour ward refused to see me and A&E didn't have a scanner or doppler on hand so it involved a 4 hour wait for someone to finally decide who was going to see me! Luckily all was okay and they were possibly being lazy due to my feeling so poorly but I'll be glad to turn 20 weeks and know that then, the labour ward will just accept me up there and scan me should I have any concerns. 
Miss anything? Wearing whatever I want! Eating big meals
Maternity clothes: I think I definitely need to invest in some maternity jeans as my trusty black leggings from Dorothy Perkins are now a tad uncomfy to say the least! 
Movement: The movements are definitely getting stronger and I'm sure that they feel more like kicks than just butterflies now. I just can't wait until James can feel them too, pregnancy can be quite tough on the guy sometimes, I hate feeling like James is being left out!
Gender: Unknown as of yet but we've received the date for our second scan and we can't wait to find out! 
Belly button in/out: In
Mood: Still not completely settled but definitely better, I'm forcing myself to go swimming today and I think it's going to really help me feel more positive. 
Looking forward to: I'm still (not so patiently) waiting to find out the sex of the baby so that I can do some serious shopping, I'm also looking forward to James being able to feel his little bundle of joy kicking away too.

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Thursday, 5 November 2015

Newborn & Pregnancy Wishlist

I am a serial shopper at the best of times and what better way to celebrate the expectant arrival of my first child than to go on a good old shopping spree! I've managed to keep it fairly tame in terms of actual purchases for these first four months as we've put ourselves on a ban until we find out the sex in terms of clothes and want to wait until after Christmas to buy the bigger items. That hasn't stopped me looking though and every spare minute either at home or on my lunch break is spent trawling through various websites lusting after items for when they make their appearance!

1. Birds on a Wire Curtains - John Lewis - £55 - I actually wanted these long before I found out I was pregnant as I generally love the design of them. I had heard a few bad reviews that they're not great at blocking out the light however a friend of mine has them and has assured me that they'll be fine, especially as we have a blind as well.

2. Angelcare Video, Movement & Sound Monitor - £165 - We agreed when we got pregnant that we wouldn't be spending fortunes on unnecessary products and gadgets however one thing we want to splurge on is the Angelcare monitor, James is keen on the video aspects as our floorboards are quite creaky in our spare bedroom so it will save us having to enter the room to check on them and my feelings on the movement mat are - why wouldn't you have the technology if it's available?

3. Dr Brown's Deluxe Electric Steriliser - £58 - One thing that I need help with is sterilising, there's so many different ways of doing it that I'm not sure which is the most efficient. Also, do I have to use the same brand steriliser and the bottles I intend to use?

4. Sleigh Cot Bed - Kiddicare - £249 - J is adamant that we don't need an extravagant bed however I think this is one thing I'm going to put my foot down and pay for on my own if needs be, it looks so sweet and I'm happy to invest a bit more if it'll last them to being a toddler.

5. Dr Brown's Starter Kit - £17 - I've heard through so many Mummy friends on twitter that Dr Brown's bottles are the best for stopping colic, I want to breastfeed however plan on expressing enough for at least one feed a day so that James can have some vital bonding time too.

6. Dr Browns Microwaveable Steriliser Bags - £7.99 - We spend a fair amount of time at James' parents at the moment and I can see that it'll only ramp up more once the baby gets here, I can see that these will be useful to have in our changing bag for any emergencies.

7. GroBag - £27 - I think the jury may still be out on whether people love or hate these but I think that they're a great idea. You can ensure that they can't kick their covers off (one of the main reasons a baby can be disturbed other than needing a feed, so I've read) and you know they'll stay snug all night. I would like some more opinions and reviews on them though so please do send them my way!

8. Dreamgenii - £48 - Fairly pricey for a pillow however I think this is getting more and more necessary by the day (or night!). They're so versatile to keep you comfy in every way possible and can be used after the baby is born to help with feeding too.

9. Meleda Swing Maxi - £180 - Never in my life did I expect to be writing a wishlist and include a breast pump but when I think about James missing out on feeding our child I feel so guilty. Expressing was something that made me feel uncomfortable personally however I'm getting more used to the idea now and I've heard fantastic reviews about this.

10. Mamalicious Skinny Jeans - £40 - If someone wants to give me an unlimited discount code for Mamalicious then I will love you forever, it's the only site where I have loved almost every single piece and the clothes look like they're for young women rather than brooding hens. These jeans are also discreet enough to be able to wear with long tops after the baby is born.

11. SnuzPod Co-Sleeper - £169 - Co-Sleeping is something that's really important to us as a couple, the preservation of my sleep is something that will be vital and I've read such wonderful things about these SnuzPods, it'll also match our bedroom furniture perfectly so will look stylish whilst providing us with a wonderful solution to night feeding.

12. Silvercross Wayfarer Pram Set - £695 - I've had my heart set on a grey pram for months now, don't ask me why but no other colour seems to match up. I'm adamant not to buying any big items that are gender specific as this is hopefully our first child of at least two, although this is limited edition and slightly pricey, I've fallen in love. I pity anyone who tries to part me from this pram.

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Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Stila Custom Contour Duo | Review

Stila Shape & Shade Custom Contour Duo £31 - I first had a play with this product back in March when Stila launched it in the UK, I immediately enjoyed trying different things with it but I'll admit that it wasn't as easy as it looks! I personally use this after I've applied my foundation as I just find it easier to then blend it in with my just used foundation brush to even out the colour, but I know that others prefer to do the contouring before and then use their foundation to blend it all in together. Doing it in the latter way I found that I ended up with too much product on my face at one time and it was all too easy for me to get in a complete muddle. When doing my foundation first and contour second, I always end up with around three or four different brushes on the go so I'm glad that I stocked up on buffing brushes recently, I bought the One Step Complexion Brush to accompany it specifically, it's not strictly the one that Stila would advertise (they do a Custom Colour Brush, but it's larger and I found it harder to control where the product went) however when I worked on the counter I found this easiest to use with this product. The large end still comes to a nice, neat point meaning I can really get in the hollows of my cheeks (or what hollows I have on this round face of mine!) and the smaller end is perfect for down the sides of my nose or to further define my chin.
In terms of the colour, you have to be conservative with this. I immediately reached for the medium when my samples arrived at the counter however it was laughably too dark for me and the "highlight" part was darker than my actual skin tone. Stila are quite good usually in catering for all skin tones and I've always been impressed by the range that their foundation covers, however they could probably do with bringing out an even fairer version for those paler than myself (I'm no tanned goddess however I'm also certainly not the "fairest" of them all, so anyone paler than myself may struggle). When I purchased this last month I opted for "light" and I still don't feel that the highlighter really makes a huge difference and I often opt for an alternative to highlight my cheekbones. The bronzer element is also quite warm toned, which again may be an issue if you're on the paler side, or if you're like me and are quite yellow toned naturally. I can get away with it, but my contour isn't as deep as I'd perhaps like it for fear of looking orange as opposed to chiselled. 
Price wise, my opinion is that if it's the perfect colour for you, then the £31 price tag is worth it, you get a considerable amount of product for your money so if you know that these are the only two colours you're going to need for your desired contour, then you're set for a long time. However if you're like me and your skin tone changes considerably throughout the year and you could possibly do with a few other options, you may want to opt for one of the many multi-colour palettes out there for this price. The reason I purchased this over any others was two-fold, 1. I'm a sucker for a brand name that I know and love, and although my head told me this wasn't the best value for money, I'd tried and tested it and knew that I'd get on with it, and 2. I couldn't find a high street cream contour palette, and all of the others were just as pricey, so I decided to stick with what I knew. Would I recommend this to you? Yes, if you could try it out beforehand. If you have a Stila counter near you then definitely check this out, it's got a beautifully creamy consistently that's not too wet but still super easy to blend and it will last you way longer than you should probably keep it for. However if you're taking a bit of a risk on it or you're not sure what colours you'll need for a contour, I'd possibly urge you to go for a bigger palette with more colours in. 

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Monday, 2 November 2015

Weight gain during pregnancy - fighting my demons.

There's a chance that I'll be alone in writing this post and I suppose that's always the risk you run when blogging, however when I was writing my 17 week bump update, having to write down my weight gain struck a chord with me. I've always struggled with my weight and it's fluctuated quite a lot over my adult years and has always been something that I've had to consider.

If you know me personally then there's a chance you'll know that I battled with an eating disorder during my teenage years, I dropped down to a size 6 and my dog ballooned from essentially eating all of my meals to avoid me from doing so. My poor Mum did everything she could to get me to eat but I was a typical sneaky teenager and in the event that the dog didn't even want my food, my en-suite toilet would always help me out. I never got to the point of making myself sick but the food wouldn't pass my lips in the first place. I survived basically off of one jacket potato a day and a few mini rolls, I won't exaggerate and make out like I had the worst case of Anorexia known to man, I lead a fairly "normal" life and it was only because I have a heart deficiency that I become poorly.

Fast forward to my turning 20 and I was in an unhappy relationship and turned the opposite way of eating too much and steadily gaining over three stone in weight. I've never made it a secret that whilst working my way back down to 10stone (a distant dream now after just being generally lazy for a few months), I've had to fight some demons and maintain a healthy diet and gym regime rather than skip meals and make excuses again. I think it's in my genetics to struggle with my weight as my Sister leads an extremely active lifestyle in order to stay a size 8 and the moment I step away from the gym the weight will all too easily pile back on again.

Skip ahead again to being the grand old age of 23 and pregnant with my first child. My first trimester wasn't easy and from around 6 weeks I was floored with fatigue and food aversions, my gym regime was halted instantly when my heart defect reared it's ugly head again and James and I agreed to adopt an approach of letting me eat whatever the baby let me keep down, which wasn't a lot. Now, I don't eat unhealthily by any stretch of the imagination, a lot of eggs and fish and I like my potatoes in almost any form, but I'm also not a salad eater so needless to say it's inevitable that now my appetite has returned, so has my weight gain.

For the first time in my pregnancy, last Friday I gained weight. 3lbs in two weeks, which is a fairly rapid weight gain in my eyes, and although I know it's probably the baby (or that fact that my boobs are quite frankly, massive!), I just can't shush the demons in my head that are telling me to cut back on the calories again. I don't actually eat any more than the recommended amount for someone at my stage in pregnancy but I can't help but feel guilty for putting on weight. I compared myself to some other bloggers and I've actually not put on a lot compared to most at my stage in pregnancy but seeing those scales worryingly close to that 11st mark is quite frankly, terrifying me.

I'm desperate to get back into a gym routine and I'm hopefully starting with some swimming and building it back up to some treadmill and cross trainer sessions here and there. I have overwhelming Mum guilt that I don't want to be one of those Mum's that uses pregnancy to eat themselves out of house and home and then has masses of weight to lose once the baby is born, but at the same time the ghosts of my past means it's hard for me to find a balance. I desperately want to do what is best for my baby which means that I will obviously gain weight, even my extremely slight Mother In Law told me that she gained two stone whilst pregnant, but how do I silence the niggles that tell me I should cut a few meals out here and there to stop those scales from creeping up?

This is a totally rambling post and I'm not sure it even has a point other than, being pregnant is hard no matter what your background, but being pregnant and being terrified of gaining weight is a complete head-****, I feel guilty for wanting to lose weight because I know that would be so detrimental for my unborn child but how do you silence nearly 10 years of bad eating and dieting habits when nothing can stop those pounds from piling on? Even if this post helps one person to realise that they aren't alone in feeling like I do, then it will be a success and if you think I'm the worst Mum in the world then please keep it to yourself because just like every first time mother, I'm trying my very best.

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Sunday, 1 November 2015

17 Week Bump Update

Happy Sunday everyone, I've just checked back through my archives and I'm really sorry to see that this is my first ever bump update. I'm so sorry that I've been so rubbish at keeping up with my blog, time moves so quickly when you're pregnant and weeks have passed by in the blink of an eye! I'm hoping to get into a routine of posting these every Sunday for you however I think I may have to knock YouTube on the head for now. As much as I adore doing it, I can't do both and I want to focus my efforts on my original passion, my blog.

How far along: 17 Weeks + 2 Days
Days until due date: 158 days
My bump: As you can see above, my bump is definitely starting to form. I've actually opted for wearing tighter jumpers just to highlight my bump and stop me from looking like I've just had a big dinner but it's nice to have a bump that doesn't disappear every morning and grow throughout the day!  
Weight changes: Pre-Pregnancy 10st 8lbs, now 10st 11lbs so +3lbs! 
Stretch marks? The ones that I already had on my hips are starting to hurt a bit and get worse so I've stepped up my game with my Clarins Tonic Oil and Stretchmark Cream, however nothing to report on my tummy just yet. 
Cravings: Eggs, Eggs and more Eggs! I have two dippy eggs practically every single day and I can't get enough of them. Some have criticised me for it but honestly, they're safe as long as the chicken has been immunised. Unfortunately James has banned me from eating the ones we were getting from his Dad's chickens just to be on the safe side but now we buy Happy Eggs from the supermarket that are all red lion stamped. 
Sleep: Sleep is still a huge issue, we had our 16 week Midwife appointment last week and she seemed a little concerned that I'm struggling so much with my sleep so I'm to keep an eye on it for another week or so then maybe be referred to a Doctor. 
Symptoms: Feeling full, I find that although my appetite has returned, I feel full so much quicker. I used to be able to polish off a roast dinner and still pick over the leftovers however now, my portions are half the size and then I can't eat for hours! Poor sleep as mentioned above however the headaches are seeming to get better. 
Best moment this week: Listening to the heartbeat. I hadn't got my hopes up that the Midwife at my Doctor's surgery would let us listen to the heartbeat as I know not all Doctor's are the same, however she was able to and it was so strong! James only recorded 4 seconds of it but they are the most precious 4 seconds in the world. 
Worst moment this week: Mum guilt! I've only been to the gym once in the last 12 weeks and I'm starting to feel really guilty, I had totally planned to get up and go swimming today but I seem to have been hit by a cold so that's out of the window too. I'm also struggling with gaining weight but I think I'll do a post on that exclusively. 
Miss anything? Sleep, still. I love my sleep and I love sleeping next to my Man, we've had two full nights sleep next to each other in about 3 weeks and I miss him terribly. 
Maternity clothes: More so with trousers than tops, as I said above I'm actually enjoying my tops looking stretched and making it obvious that I'm sporting a baby bump however my work trousers are really uncomfy by the end of the day so I have invested in a few maternity pairs for the days when I'm feeling particularly bloated. 
Movement: Oh yes, they can be quite the wriggler when they want to be. I had a spa day at Forest Pines on Friday and they were wriggling about the entire way through my massage. 
Gender: Unknown as of yet but we've received the date for our second scan and we can't wait to find out! 
Belly button in/out: In

Mood: Erratic, I love this little baby more than anything in the world but it's safe to say that I am sick and tired of the smallest things seeming like the end of the world. I think a lack of sleep and an overload of hormones are contributing to me not knowing whether I'm coming or going. 
Looking forward to: Still seeing my bump grow and finally finding out if we're pink or blue! I'm making some fabulous Mummy friends and over the past two weeks some fantastic ladies who I already considered friends have announced that they're also expecting so I feel so lucky to be in fantastic company!

So that's 17 weeks, I can't believe it's been 5 weeks since I announced my pregnancy already and how fast it's all going. I've got a few ideas of some different posts coming up that I hope you'll enjoy and my target for this next month is to keep up with my blog and get back on my fitness wagon! 

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Thursday, 15 October 2015

Clarins Gentle Refiner Exfoliating Cream | Review

Clarins Gentle Refiner Exfoliating Cream £25 - If you hadn't guessed already, I am a massive Clarins fiend, they are by far my favourite brand not just for skincare but also for makeup too. One of my best friends is a Counter Manager for one of my local counters which means I get some great insider info on what really will sit my skin however the little beauty photographed above needed no introduction to me. I don't know when I first tried this, I probably stole some from my sister at some point well over 6 years ago but I have always coveted it as my holy grail of exfoliators. The beads are so fine yet so jam packed that you know you're really exfoliating your entire face and also means you don't have to scrub as hard to reach everywhere. It's so gentle that it can even be used dry (not something that's ever appealed to myself personally but it's a pretty good testimony to how soft it is). The ba-zillions of teeny tiny beads means that it leaves my face superbly smooth and as though no dry patch has been left untouched and I can be confident that I won't step out of the shower (I always exfoliate in the shower, I don't know why) and suddenly see a little cluster of flakes that it's failed to whisk away. 
The only downside to this is the mixture of the price tag and it's size. I'm currently using a budget version of this although which doesn't have quite the same amount of grains however the size of the product is twice the size for half of the price. For £25 (£26 in boots!) you only get 50ml which really doesn't go too far. I've actually run out of this for the time being however I will definitely purchase some more as soon as their doing a Gift With Purchase (why anyone would buy anything high end without a GWP is beyond me) but I think with my impending arrival on the way I'll have to keep this solely for emergencies and special occasions. 
Much like the product itself, this review will be compact and to the point. If you want a highly effective exfoliator that's going to scrub away any nastiness or dry patches then this could be the one for you if you can bear the price tag. I've always been told that you're only supposed to exfoliate once a week, twice maximum so as to not damaged the elasticity in your skin however even on that basis it won't last you very long. Similarly if any of you can recommend a high street dupe for this that has a large amount of fine grains then please so sling it my way. I can't stand exfoliators that feel as though they only have 5 or 6 beads per dollop and I end up using far too much of the product just to make sure the job is done. Claris, you've still got my heart when it comes to exfoliators, however I'm not sure that my wallet agrees. 

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Tuesday, 13 October 2015

NARS Dual Intensity Eye Palette

NARS Dual Intensity Eye Palette £45 - I'm always one to buy these innovative new things and get suck in by sales spiel but then sit and wonder how on earth I'm actually going to get any proper use out of it. I was slightly worried that this might be the same with this Dual Intensity Palette from NARS, although if I'm going to be Intense anywhere then it will be on my eyes but it was still quite the impulse buy. I have a single one of these in "dione" which is a beautiful metallic silver/grey that gives a bit of "oomph" to my black smokey eyes. Now I have the full palette I can find a use for almost every single shade bar maybe the burgundy. With my sister's upcoming wedding however this palette has risen to the challenge on giving her a slightly more dramatic version of her every day makeup look, using the palest of nudey colours I simply add this to an otherwise matte look on her eyes and it gives her the tiniest bit of sparkle and lift that it needs to scream "bridal" yet "sophisticated".
I was super nervous to try mixing this as a base colour and putting darker ones into the crease, usually it's the last thing I add just using my ring finger on the inner corner to middle of my eye however I was worried that as an all over base it might mix with the matte shadows and look clumpy. Obviously I should have had more faith in NARS as it did no such thing, it simply acted as the perfect all over base and allowed me to create a soft smokey look over the top. We as bridesmaids are wearing Navy dresses so I'm keen to find a way to possibly incorporate that shade into our looks although I think that may be a step too far for the bride who wants everything to look natural. I was also a bit dubious that this would be anything but natural, even in the nudest shade, however once mixed with soft browns to the crease it looked really pretty and soft. 
Personally, I think I'll end up using the darker colours either dry or as eyeliner as I can't see me being too adventurous these days with my makeup, however with all of the seasonal and Christmas parties coming up you never know, they may all get a look in at some point!
Do I think this is worth the money? Most definitely, it's a luxury product and it's not meant to be anything less, it's versatility means you get twice the usage out every single colour and the performance of the shadows themselves is, as expected, flawless. It doesn't crease like some wet-and-dry shadows can do and it doesn't look like a paste or clump either and it's staying power is fantastic. Whether or not I'll repurchase it is another question, as someone who is probably going to be keeping things simple for the foreseeable I'm not sure I could justify such a huge amount again on a product that won't get too much of a look in. 

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