Saturday, 28 March 2015

Snack Inspiration: Bruschetta

Bruschetta is the easiest snack to make, and is incredibly tasty too. My love for antipasti will never falter and nothing sounds better than grilled bread rubbed with garlic, topped with olive oil and fresh tomatoes. 
The only problem with this snack is the garlic. Everyone knows the repercussions of eating something that's been made with garlic, but it's so worth it and your tastebuds will be so grateful for it!

All you'll need is:

- Italian bread (can be made with normal bread but this tastes better grilled, it's not labelled as BEST TOASTING BREAD for nothing!)
- 1 clove of garlic
- Basil and flat leaf parsley (not curly parsley, the Italians insist on flat leaf)
- Olive oil
- Tomatoes
- Salt & Pepper 

Prepare all the ingredients by dicing the tomatoes, herbs and garlic 

Firstly, grill the bread

Secondly, rub the grilled bread with the garlic clove 

Pour a generous amount of olive oil onto the grilled bread and add some to the ingredients 

Top the grilled bread with the tomatoes, herbs and garlic 

Sprinkle salt and pepper to season

All I can say to Bruschetta is I really love you, from my head tomatoes. 

Health benefits:

Tomatoes can thank lycopene for their vibrant redness: the lycopene contributes to healthy bones. High in anti-ageing properties, tomatoes are great for lowering cholesterol and are rich in vitamins A and C. 

Garlic - 
Filled with vitamins, potassium, iron and calcium and can combat sickness, reduce blood pressure and can improve cholesterol levels - all while making food taste a lot better. My great grandmother in Italy used to eat an entire clove of garlic a day because she swore by its health benefits (I feel only a little sorry for my great grandad, my nonna told me how her dad couldn't sleep at night because of this...) and the Italians have a great diet so I'm not going to question it. 

Olive Oil
Swapping butter alongside other less healthy fats for olive oil has been proven to help towards the prevention of a myriad of illnesses, diseases and ultimately, the effects of ageing. The Mediterranean diet (a diet of the longest-living communities) consists of olive oil consumption - and a lot of it. Olive oil can prevent cancers and heart disease too; so pour that oil everywhere! 

Some may wish to substitute bread for something with lower calorie content but 1, who really cares and 2, there are other foods you can eat less of in order to lose weight, and bread is not one of them my friend. 

Those who are wheat intolerant may wish to use gluten/wheat free crackers. 

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Beauty Desk

I've written individual posts about most products shown in the following photos and thought it would be a good idea to give a brief overview of some old, and some newer favourites. 

The product I'm most excited to tell you about is the Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré. I was going to dedicate an entire post to the one product but decided this post would be a lot more fun to read!

Benefit's Hoola Bronzer  I use this particular bronzer for when I go out and not so much for everyday wear. It's a fairly dark pigment and I tend to wear less  make-up during the day, so this is a product I usually refer to when I go out out. I use that phrase a lot - out out - but out and out out are two entirely different things so I need to differentiate between the two!  

The Body Shop Aloe Soothing Moisture Lotion SPF 15 - I'll be using this a lot more during the summer, with its SPF 15 this lotion will be perfect for protecting my face against sun damage. I was always so keen to acquire a tan a few years ago but now I've learnt about the importance of protecting the skin from UV rays. At first the lotion leaves a shade of white when applied, but this only lasts whilst the product sinks into the skin. 

Simple Eye Make-up Remover - The most gentle eye make-up remover. I love Simple products because I know the ingredients are all natural with no unnecessary ingredients - all pure and kind to sensitive skin.

The Body Shop Vanilla Body Mist - Vanilla is my all-time favourite scent. I love the Body Mist because it's not as expensive as other perfumes and still smells so good. 

The Body Shop Almond Kiss Nail Varnish - I have previously written a post exclaiming a newfound love for a Collection branded nail varnish, hailing it as the best nude varnish, but this Almond Kiss is a lovely shade. The only downfall is that it chips quite easily and doesn't last all that long. I also love the name of it: Almond Kiss - perhaps because I love almonds. (You're thinking, 'there she goes referencing food again!' and I promise if I could help it, I'd refrain. But the thought of food consumes my mind almost as much as I consume food...which is a lot/most of the time/ all day every day). I also love pistachio nuts but draw the line at wearing green nail varnish. 

Dr Organic's Virgin Coconut Oil Skin Lotion - A brilliant body moisturiser. I don't use this on my face as the scent is quite strong but it does its job very well in moisturising the skin. 

Mac Studio Face and Body Foundation - The only foundation I've ever truly been happy with. It isn't greasy at all and leaves the face with a matte finish. It isn't great at covering up blemishes but there are other products available out there to fulfil that job! The foundation gives a light coverage. I use shade C3, and am yet to find a foundation (that isn't ridiculously expensive) that outdoes my trusted Mac. 

Champney's Pillow Mist - I sometimes have difficulty in falling asleep. I've always been so envious of the people who can go straight to bed and fall asleep. Unless I'm extremely tired, it's always been a task. I find reading a book helps but if you're not a reader then relaxing pillow mist will help. There are so many on offer - chamomile and lavender are brilliant scents for this. 

Bobbi Brown Warm Eye Palette - Equipped with the perfect colours, this eye palette is the greatest. I only really wear eyeshadow when I go out for the night and the warm eye colours go really nicely with darker eyes. The Cool Eye Palette would work beautifully with blue eyes! 

Here it is! It's the Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré. I've heard a mix of reviews concerning this product with some questioning what the fuss is all about. I bought this about a week ago and wanted to test it for a few days to ensure that the review I gave was demonstrative of the product's true effectiveness. 

With the end of the semester of second year at University looming, I have a lot of work to hand in and exams to revise for. This has a tremendous impact on my skin and I've found stress contributes greatly to dryness. I wanted a cheap moisturiser that I could use a lot of, without feeling guilty about this overuse. The product is a light formula, with a clean, floral scent and will remind you of your childhood! The product claims to be a moisturiser, a cleanser, and a make-up remover; I find it does all three really well.

It leaves my skin feeling refreshed, smooth and cleansed. If you're going to use this as a primer/moisturiser prior to the application of make-up, I would advise you use only a little considering applying a lot of this cream really moisturises the skin, often leaving it only slightly oily. By oily, I don't mean clog up pores greasy, it just does an excellent job in moisturising any dry, flaky patches. 

It's been around since the 1950s and is said to be a makeup artist's favourite and celebrities' go-to product. Formulated in Paris, it's packed with mineral oil, aloe vera, shea butter, soy proteins and beeswax. What's great about this product is that it's ideal for sensitive skin due to its few ingredients. There are better moisturisers out there, but it's always fun to try something new. 

All I can say is, thank you France! 

Batiste in Oriental and Medium Brunette - I tend to wash my hair every day but when I start work at half 6 in the morning, leaving enough time in the morning to wash and blow-dry my hair is an almost impossible task. So for the early mornings when my face doesn't seem to cooperate with me, my hair is always keen to do as it's told with a little help from Batiste

Origins Modern Friction - I love Origins products but they're somewhat pricey. This dermabrasion formula works as a deep but gentle exfoliator and seeks to lessen the appearance of pores. It works really well and the consistency is similar to that of a clay-mask, with fine beads to remove any dead skin. 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Decleor: The Golden Brand

I was introduced to Decleor by my lovely mum. Decleor uses 100% natural and preservative free ingredients, which very few brands offer. With a strong ethos concerning the benefits of using aromatherapy and essential oils, Decleor will forever remain my brand of choice. 

The packaging is yellow and yellow is my favourite colour; it all makes sense.

The Decleor Aromessence Angélique Serum is probably my favourite product in the world of all beauty products ever to be made EVER. As with all Decleor products, it smells wonderful and you only need to use a minimal amount to cover the face. There's only one issue: Decleor have discontinued Angélique. Give me a moment... 

I'd be lying if I said I cried, but this was absolutely devastating. 'What will make me smell like a real-life spa now?!' I wept, but I managed to buy a few more bottles before they sold out. There are a range of similar Decleor Aromessence facial oils: Neroli, Rose d'Orient, Iris, Marjolaine, Mandarin, Ylang Ylang, White Oil and Excellence. 

Neroli - an oil serum to hydrate all skin types
Rose d'Orient - a serum to instantly soothe and calm sensitive skin types
 Iris - a serum for mature skin to help reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles
Marjolaine - a serum to intensively nourish dry and very dry skin types
Mandarin - a serum to correct and prevent the first the first signs of ageing 
Ylang Ylang - a serum to reduce excess sebum and shine for oily skin types
White Oil - a serum which helps reduce pigmentation and brighten dull skin
Excellence -  an intensely regenerative and restorative anti-ageing serum for more mature skin

For a while I tested Marjolaine, but it didn't compare to Aromessence Angélique Serum. I think I'm going to look into Neroli and Rose d'Orient. 

When applying any of the oils above, it goes a long way which means you don't need a lot; just a few drops should be enough to nourish the face - pay close attention to the cheeks, forehead and décolletage. 

Pictured below are some testers I am still yet to use, however the title 'Prolagène Lift' suggests the product is for more mature skin. When I don't get enough sleep, dark circles tend to form around my eyes and the Aroma Lisse transformed these dark shadows almost instantly. 

Decleor Aroma Night is a golden yellow balm and leaves skin feeling so smooth. I absolutely love balms because of their thick consistency - I really feel as though balms are most effective because they're so different from the usual moisturiser that are absorbed into the skin within seconds upon application. My mum and I both apply this at night and I awake in the morning with skin so moisturised - dry skin is completely banished! My mum has great skin for her age and so I didn't hesitate to start using Decleor. Some of the products are certainly on the more expensive end of the spectrum but the quality of all oils, balms and creams is brilliant. 

I bought this Intense Nutrition after reading some brilliant reviews. The comforting cocoon cream is an intense moisturiser and leaves my skin dewey. I apply this after I shower and don't apply any make-up for at least twenty minutes as I prefer to wait for it to fully absorb into the skin. During the winter, my skin becomes fairly dry but this cream fulfilled its duty and completely nourished and replenished my face - leaving no signs of dryness. 

The Decleor Soothing Micellar Water is perfect for removing all traces of make-up, and is a brilliant cleanser. No parabens and containing rose oil means the water is suitable for sensitive skin types. 

And if the products don't work for you the way you'd like them to, the packaging is still very pretty to look at... 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Anastasia Contour Kit

I presumed the highlighting and contouring technique would be quite difficult to master and I was partly right in thinking so! Everyone knows the magic contouring can achieve and I'm nowhere near an expert when it comes to make-up, but it's been a lot of fun following tutorials and using this kit. 

I ordered the palette from Cult Beauty and it arrived so quickly - in about two days! The Anastasia Beverley Hills Contour Kit has been one of the most commended contouring palettes and it's so clear as to why. You're essentially buying 6 individual products because each shade does a different job. 

(The name of the shades Banana and Vanilla were the two that persuaded me to buy this palette - if they're amazing in milkshake form they're probably going to be great as make-up too, surely?)

Presuming you have applied foundation/concealer, I used the following shades in this way:

Banana - Brushed under the eyes (the yellow pigment cancels out any purple)

Vanilla - Used to highlight (I used this to highlight the t-zone: straight down the bridge of the nose, above the eyebrows and brushed lightly over the chin)

Fawn -  Used to create a thin line under the bottom lip, once blended this will give the lips a fuller look caused by the shadow effect; brushed across the jaw line; brushed over the cheekbones - similarly to how you'd apply blusher; and down the outer edge of both sides of the nose (to decrease the look of the width of the nose if necessary)

Sand - Once all of the above has been applied, blend the shade Sand down the bridge of the nose, and across the brown bone (under the eyebrow) 

Java & Havana - Similarly to bronzer, use these shades in conjunction with one another to create the perfect pigmented shade to accentuate the hair line 

A fairly basic guide, but sometimes I get confused by tutorials and so I find outlining in the most simplest way is often better. Contouring is actually quite a scary concept because it can change someone's entire facial structure. I haven't used the palette a lot so far but I'm presuming powder is the easiest way to contour - I would make an absolute mess attempting to do this with liquid foundation etc. 

I'll stick to using this palette for going out out simply to acquire a healthy glow because if there's one thing I've learnt, it's that I can't really do make-up like the professionals... 

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Surf Spray: 50ml of the Beach

Tomorrow marks the official first day of spring and what better way to celebrate the changing of the seasons than to treat our hair to the taste of the beach. I've wanted to purchase some Bumble and bumble products for so long and finally plucked up the courage to spend some money on the brand. The brand is quite expensive but I've read endless reviews detailing the cost reflects the great quality of each product so I took the plunge and spent £9.50 on this 50ml of Surf Spray. Spending nearly £10 on a tiny bottle of 'salt water' sounds somewhat crazy but I think it's worth it. Plus, if you purchase from Feel Unique, you're likely to get 10% off. 

If this product was a human it would be an Australian beach dude, surfing the waves with a surfer fro. 

Prior to spritzing I did straighten my hair which may have affected the overall end result. I think tousled waves would work if the hair has been left to dry naturally after washing. Despite having straightened my hair, the spray left my hair will plenty of volume and a lot more oompf. A look only possible to achieve when at the beach!



What I particularly liked is that it volumised the hair in all the right places - it left the layers in my hair with a lot of bounce. 

I would guess that the length of the hair has an influence on the overall result. I think this product would work great with shorter hairstyles as opposed to longer. 

If you've never tried salt sprays before, I would suggest buying the smaller 50ml size like I did. The bottle is tiny (smaller than I had anticipated) but I think it's going to last a while. To achieve optimum results, the spray may perhaps work more effectively applied to wet hair, followed by the hair drying technique I'm sure everyone does - tipping your head upside down and blowing drying upwards. 

This surf spray certainly added texture to my hair and so for this reason, I think this will become my go-to product. 

Friday, 20 March 2015

International Day of Happiness

Today is International Happiness Day - can I get a woohoo! *Woohoo*

Working part-time in a hospital often makes you realise how important health is so if you're feeling a little down, remember to always count your blessings. 

Everyone knows that sometimes happiness is sitting under fringed umbrellas and wearing rainbow swimming costumes.
'No photos please' 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Guildford and a Trip to Bill's

Narrow cobbled streets are some of my favourite although when visiting Guildford for some shopping, don't do what I did and wear heeled boots. Stick with flats or trainers as the high street is very hilly!

My friend's birthday is coming up and we were on the hunt for a new outfit (any excuse for new clothes). We were left defeated by the high street stores and drove home with only one shopping bag - and that bag wasn't mine! I'm blaming the lack of clothing on the fact 1. there was no Zara (what an absolute nightmare) and 2. the shops must be in a state of confusion - who really knows how to dress during the transition from winter to spring? 

So many designer shops, yet so little money in the bank. I could have spent a fortune in Reiss but most items are well over £100 and I refrained with great, great, greeeeat difficulty. 

One thing that never lets me down is my best friend, food. And the food on offer did not disappoint; we arrived and headed straight for breakfast at Bill's. 

My beautiful little friend Felicity... And what a great backdrop for a photo by the way - the hanging chillies did it for me!

This is what I'd been anticipating the most: buttermilk and blueberry pancakes with maple syrup, bananas and strawberries. I could have eaten another three, no doubt about it. 

With so many drinks on offer, I nearly opted for the 'green smoothie', but I chose to go with the safe option and ordered a smoothie I knew I'd like: a strawberry and banana one!

Guildford has its very own Superga shop! Out of the beautifully colourful display, I still think I'd stick with a black pair and a white pair - although my heart is slowly being stolen by the beige/cream ones. 

Today I had my very first SNOG! And what a snog it was. I had mango pieces (I'm obsessed with mango) and strawberries. They're fairly expensive but the 'little snogs' are more than enough - any bigger and you'd get ultimate brain freeze!