Thursday, November 28, 2013

Clinque Deep Comfort Body Butter Review

Clinque Body Butter Review

I received Clinque Deep Comfort Body Butter as a Christmas gift last year and I'm ashamed to say it's sat hidden at the back of my bathroom shelf until now. Returning from holiday and ready to start a new body product I opted for the body butter thinking a heavier cream was needed for the colder weather.

My first impression was bemusement that this product, to me at least really does feel like butter, creamy butter but butter nonetheless - it even has the lemon shade we are familiar with. Thankfully there is not the greasy feeling you experience with butter of an edible kind.

Moving on from the food comparisons Clinque's Body Butter is a lovely product to use and makes my skin feel soft and hydrated after applying, especially in those dry spots such as the knees and elbows and sinks into the skin without leaving residue so I can easily pop clothes on after application.

The only negatives I can find and these are personal ones are firstly it's lack of fragrance. We all know Clinque are famous for leaving out the typical irritants from fragrancing their products but when applying body lotions in a luxurious manner I want a scent, especially when applying of an evening. Of course if you want to avoid fragrances this body butter is definitely for you and certainly not a deal breaker for me. The other is I find it can take some time for me to apply. Lotions which are thinner in consistency are easily distributed over the body but I find this butter needs constant dipping and applying to cover all the areas. For example I'll need to dip into the tub 4 times to do my calves alone, front and back of each leg and so on. Not that this should be a problem as this is a large 200ml tub so will certainly last some time.

Do you have any thoughts on body versus lotions?

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Review | Radox Shower Therapy

You will have seen Pink Grapefruit & Basil Uplifting Shower Gel* from Radox in my September empties post here and it's highly likely it'll be appearing in a future post as I took another bottle of this with me to Las Vegas last month. I'm a big fan of the scent of pink grapefruit and this shower gel leaves my whole bathroom filled with its scent. Having abandoned my favoured L'Occitane Almond Oil Shower Gel during faux tanning this has been used when shaving my legs and I'm still receiving the same results so it's a win all round.

And did you know... Pink grapefruit oil, due to it's bright aroma, can energise and uplift the spirit and basil is a sign of love and devotion between young couples in some cultures? As well as apparently sniffing pink grapefruit when you're hungry stops any cravings.

During some Summer sniffles I turned to the Key Lime and Peppermint* as the menthol and peppermint mixed with lime was just what I needed when a day ahead of work was going to be a struggle and I revisited it again this month when my cold reappeared and I was feeling pretty grotty.

I'm yet to try Mandarin and Lemongrass* although as a big lover of citrus scents and a big thumbs up for the others this can't fail and lemongrass is traditionally used to spruce up dull looking skin so I think it'll be just what's needed at the moment when the weather is on the chillier side.

I think I've said it before I've always been slightly snobby towards my shower gel ranges but being lucky enough to try a lot of Radox products since blogging and I've not had one let me down yet - it's definitely opened my mind to trying high street brands.

What are your favourite shower gel scents?
*PR sample

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Molecule 01 Fragrance Review

Molecule 01 Review

I'm not much of a perfume floozy and stick to what I know (Chanel Coco Mademoiselle and Vivienne Westwood Boudoir in case you're wondering) but I do like discovering new fragrances particularly when they are slightly 'underground' and I'm not in danger of smelling like every other girl on the underground. Molecule 01 was one such fragrance I had to try.

I purchased Molecule 01 by Escentric Molecules a few months ago intrigued by its Lynx effect type claims. Molecule 01 is simply made from one molecule, compared to the hundreds and thousands in other perfumes. You will be unable to smell this on yourself apart from on it's initial spritz on the skin and then it will disappear and work with your own pheromones to create an individual scent that is, according to claims irresistible to every man, woman and child. 

I read the reviews of people stating they had been stopped in the streets to ask what they had been wearing, men were falling at the feet of wearers and I decided I couldn't not try this product. Unfortunately on it's initial purchase I was somewhat disappointed. Where were the men trailing behind me? It was a bit of an anti-climax especially when I receive a lot of compliments on the perfumes I do wear and to date had not had one on Molecule 01

Not one to give up I literally sprayed Molecule 01 daily waiting for just one person to pass comment - and then like buses two came along at once. I jumped into my friends car last week and was greeted with 'you smell amazing what are you wearing'. The next comment was Saturday when I popped round a friends for drinks. As we exchanged a kiss on my arrival I was told 'you smell nice'. At last, eureka!

Finally I have the justification this fragrance works for me maybe not quite the swoon worthy effects of others but that may lay in part to my smoking habit and the good news is Molecule 01 is working with my skin to create a good scent. I've heard some people use this to layer on other perfumes which I'm both interested and scared to try so shall keep you posted.

I picked up my bottle from Cult Beauty and if you're London based and can get to Liberty they are a stockist if you wanted to try for yourself. It's not cheap and you have to be mindful that you may not get the instant effect desired and you are unlikely to receive the gratification of smelling it on yourself but if lost for Christmas ideas for certain members of the family - Molecule 01 can be used by men and women - this is fun idea that will have everyone talking.

Are you intrigued by Molecule 01?

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Week 47 // Bruno, Burgers and Butlers

The past week has been one full of non stop activities with friends and family which I thought I thought I'd go into a little more detail on beyond the instagram snaps you'll have seen popping up as I've gone along.

Captain Phillips
Tuesday evening a friend and I had plans to go to the cinema. She asked if I'd like to see Captain Phillips and despite not being too enthusiastic I was happy enough to see what Tom Hanks had to offer. I'm so glad I did, the film was fantastic. The first 5 minutes I thought to myself this is boring and then suddenly I was gripped in a story that saw me shouting at the screen and literally sitting on the edge of my seat. To summarise the film centres around Captain Phillips and his ship's hijacking my Somalian pirates; the first time this had happened to an American ship in over 200 years. Of course as with any film based on true events there are conflicting stories as to whether Captain Phillips version of events is realistic but nonetheless as a film it was one I enjoyed and would recommend to everyone

Bruno Mars
Many months ago a friend at work was booking tickets to see Bruno Mars and invited me along after I expressed my interest in the concert. I haven't been to a concert in ages and if I'm honest I'm not what I'd describe in any way as a music lover. Of course I enjoy listening to music but I'm unlikely to put the radio on at any other time than when I'm driving but Bruno Mars is one of those artists whose every song I enjoy.  

We had standing tickets at the O2 which suited us perfectly. We were quite happy to enjoy the music and took our positions at the back of the area so we could watch the whole stage whilst drinking beer and dancing around. It was a fantastic concert and Bruno and his band reminded me of a trendy modern day Jackson Five as they danced and sung around the stage. I was worried that there would be the odd song I wasn't familiar with having failed at my homework of listening to his album but I surprised myself with knowing more than I expected. Such a good night and if you ever have an opportunity to see Bruno live I'd grab the chance.

Birthday Shopping
Tomorrow is my nephews birthday so as he was staying at my parents last week I decided to take him up to Westfield so he could pick some presents from the Disney and Lego stores. Our first stop was The Disney Store so he could get the dolls from the forthcoming cartoon Frozen. We had spent Friday evening with him showing me trailers for the film on You Tube that even I can't wait to watch it. He loves the Prince dolls from Disney so he went straight for Kristoff and was quite adorable and insisted we had to get the Anna princess doll for my niece. Unfortunately the other 2 characters were sold out but I managed to pick up Elsa yesterday during a second trip to Westfield and now it's just hunting down Hans this week - check me out knowing all the character names!

Sunday morning I woke up to a text from my hungover friend Lisa simply saying 'I need burgers". I'd spent the evening with friends drinking French Martini's (vodka, chambord and pineapple juice - try it people it's amazing) myself so I was feeling a little jaded too so off to GBK we went. I chose the Camemburger filled with camembert, truffle mayo, onion jam AND a hash brown. A fantastic combination that I suggested any burger lovers try immediately.

The Butler
The final activity of my week was another trip to the cinema with another friend to see The Butler. Ben is a huge fan of politics (he introduced me to The West Wing; have you seen it? If not watch it immediately) so it was a must see for him and we're both uber fans of Oprah Winfrey and when she is in her first film for 15 years you have to go and see it. 

The film is simply amazing with the finest acting I have ever seen. The issues tackled and language are difficult to watch at times and you can't believe that these things happened as recently as they did and what people went through but there are also lighthearted and comedy moments which make this a truly fascinating story.

Like Captain Phillips this is 'inspired by' rather than a documentary on the life of the butler who saw eight presidents during his time at The White House and one of the saddest part of the real story is that his wife died on the eve of voting for Barack Obama and seeing his victory. This is another must see for everyone.

So that brings Week 47 to a close and here begins Week 48 - exactly one month till Christmas Day. This week is even more exciting for me as I'm off work for 5 days. I have lot's planned that I'm sure I'll share with you along the way so don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

And don't forget if you'd like an extra gift from me under the tree next month you'll have to enter my US drugstore beauty giveaway here 

How have you spent your week?

*this post contains affiliate links

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Intensive Hand Cream Review

Palmer's Cocoa Butter Intensive Relief Hand Cream* £2.99 link

A week or two ago I was lucky enough to be invited to an event held by Palmers Cocoa Butter and what a fabulous event that was. We were pampered with manicures, hand massages and plied with creamy caramel cocktails, macarons and met the lovely PR team.

As if such a luxurious evening wasn't enough I travelled home carrying a heavy goodie bag filled with many of the products to try for myself at home. I don't know about you but I was slightly ignorant that Palmers Cocoa Butter had such an extensive range of products. Of course I was aware of their famous Cocoa Butter body lotion and the Summer hit Natural Bronze Body Lotion but so many other products were not on my radar.

It'll come as no surprise to you that I dived straight for the hand cream as the first product to try. This is the perfect hand cream for the Winter when hands become extra dry in the colder temperatures and it has been especially formulated with oats and soy that will soothe irritated hands.

Whilst my hands aren't particularly dry I can't speak to those claims but I can tell you how much I'm enjoying using this hand cream. Firstly it's thick and creamy unlike many hand creams which can be thin and/or watery but it doesn't smother the hands so they're left greasy. In fact it feels like it dries quite quickly but unlike the L'Occitane hand cream I review last week (which you can read here) it doesn't leave them dry but extremely moisturised.

For this reason of course it passes my mug test (you know the one, can I pick up my cup of tea without fear of it slipping out of my hand) but I don't feel I need to constantly reapply as the moisture is retained. That said of course every time my colleague at work puts her hand cream on I reach for mine.

I've worked my way through many hand creams this past year and this is definitely going to the top of the list - and even better it's so cheap. If you need to find something extra to pop in someones stocking at Christmas I'd give this the thumbs up and without any fragrance it'll compliment men and women.

If you're a fan of the Palmers Cocoa Butter range of products let me know in the comments what your favourites are as I can't wait to dive into the rest of my goodie bag.

And don't forget if you haven't already done so pop over to this post and enter my US Drugstore Beauty Haul Giveaway

*PR Sample

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What's on my face // Cheering myself up

Before I went off to Las Vegas I put myself on a spending ban knowing full well I would be spending more than enough in the likes of Sephora and Walgreens. Of course this was easier said when after a bad day at work I decided to cheer myself up with a few purchase in Superdrug.

My chosen cheer me up beauty buys were L'Oreal's Eau de Teint Foundation, Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipstick in As You Want Victoria (of course!) and a Sleek Blush in Antique. As is often the case with week day purchases I don't find the time to experiment with them till the weekend when I tend to pile them all on at once - as well as a few other products from my stash including Mac Omega, Cranapple Liner, Bare Minerals Lash Domination Mascara* and Chanel Illuminating Powder.

It definitely made a change to sport a full face of make up on a lazy Sunday and I'm pretty pleased with the choices I made.

*PR Sample

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Winter Project // Winter Accessories

It's week two of The Winter Project and today's topic is Winter Accessories. For me there's no greater accessory than the Winter coat although over the years I've found the hunt for the right one to be harder than the search for the perfect man.

There were a few false starts to my coat search this year until I faced facts and accepted that unless there was a belt involved any other style would not suit me - there was a particularly disappointing episode in Marks and Spencer where should the designer had seen how badly I made the coat look they would've been horrified.

In addition to a belt I decided that I wanted a colour other than black but it still had to compliment my daily black wardrobe and of course not clash with my brightly colour bags I carry. My online search led me to the Tokyo Cowl Coat from Oasis and whilst initially I gulped at the price tag (I hate spending money on coats no matter how frequently they're worn) his add to shopping bag and was so glad I did.

This is one bear of a coat and is so snug and warm as it wraps round me like a blanket but with it's flattering addition of a belt helps accentuate my waist and compliment my figure and the huge cowl neck is going to be a blessing when the biting winds start. I've yet to need it on my daily commute into London (nothing worse than overheating on the crowded central line) although have worn once or twice over the weekends and it looks great with jeans and my gold converse which proves it to be a very multi purpose choice which I'm really pleased with.

The fact that I dithered over spending £98 on a coat you will be shocked that I then spent $88 on a scarf from Juicy Couture. It was a completely impulse purchase made in Las Vegas, in part when I was told of the discount they were offering that day and that it was the last one in the shop - oh and I can never resist animal print. Most of my scarves are of the thin variety and I justified its purchase in my head as a necessity and I can only say I don't regret its purchase for a second.

There are reports of a cold spell heading to these parts over the next few days so who knows it may be time to bust out the coat and scarf combo - I must confess part of me hopes so.

Don't forget to check out what winter accessories other Winter Project bloggers are talking about today by using #thewinterproject on Twitter. 

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Review // Trevor Sorbie Volume Big Hair Powder

Trevor Sorbie Volume Big Hair Powder* £6.29 link

You have a mixed review from me today on Trevor Sorbie's Big Hair Powder. I say mixed as whilst the product works and I might use it again I'm not it's biggest fan but let me tell you why in some more detail.

Usually I'm armed with Batiste Brunette Dry Shampoo to give my hair some oomph at the end of the day if I'm heading out after work but on this occasion I decided to reach for the big hair powder I received in a goodie bag some months back at a Trevor Sorbie event.

First things first I'm a brunette so any white powder product is always going to leave me some cause for concern - I spend a lot of money dying my hair to hide the odd grey that shows up so well against my dark brown so adding extra is not needed. Unfortunately this powder did leave a grey-ish tinge in the roots. I acknowledge I may have been a little heavy handed but due to the texture it is difficult to work in. Brunettes beware but blondes - you're in luck.

The texture of the product instantly made my hair feel tacky, literally like I had product residue left over from a previous styling experience which I did not like. As I mentioned this product was initally applied prior to heading out from work and I instantly panicked that instead of fluffing up my hair I'd reduced it to a lank greasy mess.

Thankfully when brushed out it didn't look too bad as you can see in the pictures above (at least I hope you think it doesn't look bad) but it didn't quite give me the volume I had hoped and I spent most of the evening paranoid about the stickiness of my hair. The powder clings to your hair and really does create that matting effect so there will be no running your fingers through your locks whilst using this.

I didn't think it would be fair to post a review after simply trying this out once, especially as I had learned a few lessons about my heavy application and looked for a few extra tips and tricks online so last night when I got home from work I went in for another try.

This time I popped the powder in sparingly and worked it through the hair at the root so that I would avoid my grey scalp - mission accomplished although I still felt it was obvious there was 'something' in my hair.

Again there was the similar tacky texture and no running my fingers through my hair but on this occasion I really appreciated how much volume it applies. As I was in the safety of my home I was braver and really gave my roots a rub and scrunch and the volume from this product is pretty amazing and I imagine if I really gave some thought and attention to styling my hair with the powder I could achieve some amazing results.

Similarly if I were looking to backcomb my hair and create a marvellous up do of some description this product would really come into its own and is definitely the product I'd use to help me out. In fact when I was bored of creating volume in my hair I played around with popping it into a ponytale with some lift at the front and it worked very well compared to the usual scraped back look I rely on. I imagine using this product for styling your hair 'up' would actually help do a lot of the work and make things much easier for you.

The other downside to this product it is really hard to wash out of your hair. A couple of days later and I'm still conscious of the sticky matted texture from the product and I even used an oil treatment overnight to help break it down but beware you will need to do some serious washing to get rid.

So there you have it, for hair down I don't think is a product I'll be reaching for but I'd suggests the blondes amongst us give it a try and if I'm brave enough to tackle an up do this Christmas I'll definitely be reaching for the big hair powder and suggest you do the same.

I'd love to hear if you've used this product yourself and what your thoughts on it were - am I going wrong or did you have similar experiences?

*PR Sample

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Book Review | Coco's Secret by Niamh Greene

At last it's time for another What I'm Reading' post having finally finished reading Killer Queens at the weekend. With this in mind and acknowledging my change in reading habits of late I've decided to make some changes to the format.

Instead of trying to force 'What I'm Reading' each week I'm going to change it to a monthly book review post. I enjoy sharing what I've read with you all and this should enable me to give a proper review of what I am or have read that month instead of repeating what you can easily find on Amazon before I've even so much as turned a page.

To bring us up to date Killer Queens is a worthy read for anyone who loves the fantastical nature of chick lit. Reading Killer Queen was like a fictional version of the Daily Mail and made me smirk as it was pretty obvious where the inspiration for many of the royal happenings came from. This would be the perfect holiday read and if you're not into the Christmas books that are coming at us from all angles I'd definitely grab this one for your reading over the turkey sandwiches this Christmas.

And the new book that is accompanying me on my journey to work when I managed to put down my iPhone and stop refreshing my Twitter feed is Coco's Secret. Any book that has a staring role of a vintage Chanel handbag gets a thumbs up from me so I hope it meets my expectations. A full review will be yours in a few weeks time so please pop back to catch up.

As always please share with me your book recommendations and any thoughts on either of these books mentioned.

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Week 47 // What I'm Reading: Coco's Secret

At last it's time for another What I'm Reading' post having finally finished reading Killer Queens at the weekend. With this in mind and acknowledging my change in reading habits of late I've decided to make some changes to the format.

Instead of trying to force 'What I'm Reading' each week I'm going to change it to a monthly book review post. I enjoy sharing what I've read with you all and this should enable me to give a proper review of what I am or have read that month instead of repeating what you can easily find on Amazon before I've even so much as turned a page.

To bring us up to date Killer Queens is a worthy read for anyone who loves the fantastical nature of chick lit. Reading Killer Queen was like a fictional version of the Daily Mail and made me smirk as it was pretty obvious where the inspiration for many of the royal happenings came from. This would be the perfect holiday read and if you're not into the Christmas books that are coming at us from all angles I'd definitely grab this one for your reading over the turkey sandwiches this Christmas.

And the new book that is accompanying me on my journey to work when I managed to put down my iPhone and stop refreshing my Twitter feed is Coco's Secret. Any book that has a staring role of a vintage Chanel handbag gets a thumbs up from me so I hope it meets my expectations. A full review will be yours in a few weeks time so please pop back to catch up.

As always please share with me your book recommendations and any thoughts on either of these books mentioned.

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CLOSED / US Drugstore & 200 Follower Giveaway

Whilst I was in Las Vegas last month I naturally hit one or two drugstores to do some beauty shopping and one or two duplicates of my purchases ended up coming home with me so I could not only treat myself but you too.

I have recently hit 200 followers on Bloglovin and with Christmas around the corner what better time to  literally share some blog loving (yes I really made that pun!) than now.

So before we get onto the boring bit of what you need to do to win this selection of US drugstore goodies let me tell you what you are in with a chance of winning.

The Wet n Wild Comfort Zone Palette 
A US drugstore brand famed for they're highly pigmented eyeshadows this is palette filled with some excellent Autumnal colours

Seche Vite Top Coat
Do I need to say more, yes this is easy to come by in the UK but dare I admit I purchased this for $5 - a third of the price us Brits are charged

Essie Nail Colour in The Lace is On
I fell in love with this colour after having a manicure at a blog event prior to my trip and I'm sure you will too

L'Oreal Infallible Eye Shadows in Amber Rush and Bronzed Taupe 
Another blogger favourite but only available in the US - this is your chance to see what the US bloggers are raving about

Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso
Another blogger favourite but a brand only available in the US yet now is your chance to give this gorgeous peachy blush a try for yourself

Maybelline Baby Lips in Pink Shock
I think I'm right that the Neon Baby Lips have yet to reach the UK so here's your chance to get ahead of the crowd

Marc Jacobs Lipstick Pen
Every beauty blogger needs a pen in the shape of a lipstick right?

Coach Coin Purse
Coach is certainly not drugstore but a brand I always associate with my trips to US outlets. I hope you enjoy stashing your coins in this bright pink purse to look fabulous when making your next UK drugstore purchases.

If all those items sound like something you'd like to receive as a pre Christmas treat all the usual Rafflecopter instructions are below. The giveaway will run from today until midnight on 18th December which should enable me to post the items out to you receive before Christmas Day (fingers crossed Royal Mail). For postage reasons and the nature of the products this giveaway is open to UK bloggers only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Review // Barking in Essex

Last night I took a trip 'up West" to see Barking in Essex with some friends from work. It was a last minute decision with my ticket only being booked the night before and I was lucky enough to pick a great seat too.

So on to the show. Firstly if you are not a fan of strong language and in particular the 'C' word this is not for you. It was the second word uttered on stage and littered the dialogue throughout. 

Featuring an all star cast including the fabulous Sheila Hancock and comedian Lee Evans each actor were able to hold the stage. This is not a show with multiple acts, changing staging or any song and dance routines so each of the actor had to be at the top of their game. Sheila Hancocks delivery of a witty line was exceptional.

About an Essex family and their criminal activities it was great fun watching Keeley Hawes speaking in something other than her usual well spoken tongue and f'ing and blinding with the rest of them.

I laughed throughout the performance although I must confess that the second half lost something of it's lustre, it pretty much turned into the Lee Evans show. I'm not a fan of his style of comedy and his character was very much the usual performance you are used to from him; silly faces, walks etc so I was never going to be bowled over by that.

With a dark twist and sudden ending you are left wondering 'what happens next' which was nice to the usual song and dance finales of my the musical I usually veer to on theatre trips. 

If you're look for a good belly laugh, can find some special offers for tickets (we found ours here - remember to apply the special offer) and need something to do one evening and fancy a trip to the theatre I'd definitely recommend this show.

I'd love to hear from anyone who's been to see Barking in Essex and what you thought and even more so, what should I see on my next trip to the theatre.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Review // Elle McPherson Rotating Dry Body Brush

Elle McPherson Body Brush* £26.66 link

On a whim  a few months ago I decided to buy a body brush noting all their benefits of exfoliating skin, increasing circulation and maybe even reduce my cellulite. Unfortunately it sat hanging in my bathroom unused so when I was sent the powered body brush that promised to be faster and more effective it was time to get body brushing.

Body brushing isn't the most exciting nor pampering of beauty tasks but it is one worth giving some attention to and Elle's rotating body brush certainly makes for a quicker experience.

The body brush comes in two parts which easily slot together, then you hit the power button and away the rotating bristles go. The design of the brush itself makes it easy to hold but I do find I'm a bit clumsy with my brushing in something similar to patting your head whilst rubbing your stomach.

The brush is firm and the rotation likewise and you can immediately see the blood flowing and rushing to the surface. I wouldn't recommend this for those with a sensitive skin as it could be quite painful I imagine as whilst it doesn't cause me any discomfort or irritation you're certainly aware of the friction on your skin.

I have found myself in a routine of giving my body a quick once over before popping into the bath or shower and only wish I could find someone to tackle my back as I think that would be fabulous after a hard day.

A major plus point is no need for batteries and you simply give the body brush a quick recharge when necessary so it's going to be with you for some time - maybe this is the perfect Christmas gift for that person you just don't know what to buy them?

Are you a body brushing fan, let me know in the comments.

*PR Sample

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Winter Project // Favourite Winter Nail Colour

Without a doubt Rouge Noir by Chanel is one of my favourite nail colours. If I'm in any doubt of what colour to choose for my nails or what will go for a particular outfit I defer to this shade and it regular makes an appearance throughout Autumn and Winter - it's the nail equivalent of the little black dress.

I find this colour looks even better now my nails are in a shorter natural state and as I type this Sunday evening when I usually change my colour for the week ahead I know what bottle of polish I'll be going for tonight.

A deep dark burgundy red it's the ultimate in sophistication to warm you through the colder months. I know Chanel aren't renowned for their lasting colours but I don't care, one night with Rouge Noir is enough for me - are you a fan?

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Monday, November 11, 2013

The Book Lover Survey

As I'm still working my way through Killer Queens I thought I'd post the Book Lover Survey tag today having enjoyed reading it on Laura's blog

Do you remember how you developed a love for reading?
Not remember as such but I do always remember having my nose in a book. My mum tells a story about how I would repeatedly get the same book out of the library each week until eventually she had to buy it for me.

Happy memories of reading for my are from my childhood when I would stay over at my nans. She would wake in the morning, make herself a cup of coffee and read a few chapters of her book before starting the day and when I stayed we would sit side by side in bed our noses in books - she also introduced me to Mills & Boon which were her favourites.

Where do you usually read?
I used to speed through books on my daily commute to work although lately this is less so due to my iPhone addiction and ability to scroll through Twitter and read blogs on the go - hence why Killer Queens is taking so long.

Do you prefer to read one book at a time or several at once?
I've never quite understood how people can have 2, 3 or more books on the go at any one time. I only read chick lit which are not the most difficult to follow but I think even I would struggle to keep up with everything that was going on.

That said in addition to my commuter read I may have a non-fiction book that I will read a few pages of whilst in bed. At the moment I'm browsing through Bobbi Brown's make up books.

What is your favourite genre?
As I mentioned above I read Chick Lit. I especially love those that are set in rich and luxurious environments such as those from Lulu Taylor, Tasmina Perry and the like. I might dip into a an autobiography occasionally and I remember during my younger years I loved books by Martina Cole or Patricia Cornwell but now I like a light hearted read with some escapism.

Is there a genre you will not read?
I'd never say that I wouldn't read any genre but I know the style of book I like, there's always an ongoing list of books I want to get through so I wouldn't waste time trying to read something that wasn't for.

Do you have a favourite book?
I have only ever re-read two books in my life and they were the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella and Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews. Again many years ago I would scour boot sales and charity shops for the varies series by VA and devour them. They were all variations of the same story really but I used to love them - writing this it might be time to go for a third read.

What is your least favourite book?
I can't say there is one that sticks out. As I've already mentioned due to the volume of books I want to read I don't waste time with anything I don't like. If I'm not sucked into the story on a journey to and from then I tend to give up as I'll only avoid taking it out of my bag and end up spending unnecessarily on a magazine to read.

What is the longest book you have ever read?
I don't think that I have read anything particularly long in book terms. I did try to read Gone with the Wind once but couldn't get into it despite it being one of my favourite films and that was rather lengthy - does that count?

What was the last book you brought?
Killer Queens at the airport on my way to Las Vegas last month.

Do you prefer library books or buying books?
I'm a huge advocate of my local library, both praised for the staff for keeping them open and saving myself pounds in the process. A few years ago I discovered that my library had a free online ordering service. I now get all my books and dvds from them. It works exactly like Amazon and I'm even able to pre-order new releases. The system is linked to all local libraries in the county so the catalogue is vast. I recommend everyone looks into their own libraries system as it could save you some much needed pennies in the new year.

What are you currently reading?
My recent purchase Killer Queens.

So there you have some background on my reading habits, I'd love to know yours

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Review // L'Occitane Immortelle Brightening Hand Cream

Hand cream is fast becoming one of my favourite beauty products. I have a long running joke with my mum that she needs to flash me her hands to remind me of the necessity for using hand cream - and so far it's working.

If you catch my empties posts you will know that I go through an awful lot of hand cream. There are tubs and tubes located in handbags, draws and my desk at work and I have reached the point that I cannot bear the feeling of having dry hands particularly after washing them.

I'm a big fan of L'Occitane products and their shea button hand cream is a top seller but when I saw an offer on their Immortelle Brightening Hand Cream I thought I'd give that a try - sadly I was disappointed so let me tell you more.

I purchased this hand cream due to it offering SPF15 to help protect hands but more so because of it's claims to fill out lines and smooth the skin so it appears more even and any age spots are reduced. I'm quite lucky that I spent a large part of my younger days avoiding the sun so I don't have any great skin damage but prevention is as good as a cure so the say.

Whilst these claims are great I just don't think I'm going to use this product long enough to confirm or refute them. The texture of the cream is to me simply unpleasant. As soon as I pop the cream on to my hands I feel like it instantly sucks any moisture from them and is ridiculously drying. Whilst this is great for my 'can I pick up a cup test' my one major dislike is having dry hands so using a product that does the opposite of what I want isn't for me.

I have tried to persevere with using this cream but I'm afraid it's time to give up. Funnily enough I was chatting with Carissa last night and she had exactly the same thoughts so I'm glad I'm not alone but would love to hear if anyone out there loves this cream and it's a definite hit for people who do not enjoy hand creams and lotions that leave hands too greasy.

I think my next hand cream purchase might just have to be the Laura Mercier sampler available from Space NK here let me know if you've any experiences with these and pop all your hand cream recommendations below.

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy - Is it worth it?

My mum and I hadn't been on a holiday together for over 3 years, our last trip being to New York which you can read about here if you're interested. Over those 3 years when mum had discussed returning to NY I always suggested Las Vegas instead as despite her protests I knew she would love it just as much as our Manhattan shopping trips. My prayers were answered when a friend of mum's announced her plans to marry in Vegas so we were able to time our trip so we could attend.

As a sweetener I decided to upgrade our flights to Premium Economy to add a bit of luxury to our trip and thought I'd share my experience with you. Before I departed beyond the standard information on Virgin Atlantic's website stating how many inches extra leg room etc there was very little to be found about what you experienced for your upgrade and I was nervous that it would meet expectations and prove a worthy expense.

I checked in online in the normal way although had left it rather late to have any choice of seats. This actually worked out rather well as we had 3 seats at the back of Premium Economy and no one behind us to kick our chairs (row 19 for info).

Our arrival at Gatwick was where the real 'premium' experience began starting with our own designated bag drop. Whereas we would usually be joining the lengthy queue in economy this time we walked straight to a counter and dropped our bags. It was amazing to have the whole formal check in process completed in minutes.

We were then directed to our own security area which might never be a completely rapid experience but was still far quicker than usual and suddenly there we were in the land of duty free in the time it would have usually taken us to check in our luggage.

Premium flyers do not get access to any lounges with their tickets which I think is a little cheeky so we decide to follow our extravagant theme and book into Virgin's V Lounge. For £20 this was a great extra I'd recommend. The simplicity of walking up to a counter and helping yourself to a coffee, having your breakfast (full english fyi) popped on a plate and handed to you was such a timesaver and made for a far less stressful experience than dashing round duty free, queuing at Starbucks or waiting on table service. Away from the hustle and bustle of the terminal it was a perfect sanctuary to sit and read the papers or magazines available.

As we were in the V Lounge whilst waiting for our flight we missed the opportunity to board the flight early - not a bad thing when you're due to sit on a plane for 9 hours. On arriving at our seats we were handed a glass of champagne to enjoy whilst settling into the comfort of the significantly larger seats. We all took a moment to swing our legs back and forth marvelling at the room in front of us. As an indication of the leg space I was able to walk past my aunts seat when I needed to get out into the aisle without her moving - something that could only be achieved in economy with some clambering.

Obviously the main cost of your upgraded ticket is your leg space during the flight and one or two small extras like the champagne on arrival etc. Another is you will eat your meal off of china plates with 'real' cutlery - think Wimpy compared to McDonalds!

Again for our return flight I left it late checking in online so were limited with seat choices and as I was accessing everything on my iPhone I was unable to look at the seating map and locate where on the plane we would be sitting. As it happened my mum and I were lucky (poor auntie) and seated in the first row of the upper desk of the plane (row 20 for info).

If you have flown on the upper deck of Virgin planes before you will know that even in economy the window seats have a storage compartment which you can put your feet up on. Because of the extra leg space in premium I was able to pop my feet on this storage space and lay out full for the whole duration of the flight.

Also to note that when we headed to security at Las Vegas airport there was only economy and 1st class entrances. I asked a member of staff where premium flyers should go and he directed us to the 1st class queue so remember to ask at your departing airport.

So the big question is; was it worth it? The cost of our upgrade was approx £300 each and this is no small amount but I felt it was worth every penny and if I were flying long haul for this length of time again I would certainly hope I could book into Premium again as it made for a quicker and less stressful process. Of course I am speaking as a single person and appreciate if you are a couple you will be talking of an extra £600 and if a family of far much much more and it is something to consider on the cost of your holiday but you are quite literally buying time and space.

To further given you an indication of costs and how you could maybe make it work for you I have recently priced up a return trip next year for myself. The cost of staying at MGM Grand and flying premium works out the same price as the economy flight and accommodation at Caesars Palace. When you think you only sleep in your rooms and most of the known hotels in Vegas are of a high standard which is more important to spend your money on.

I hope you found that useful if you've ever thought about upgrading your flights but never quite sure whether it'd be worth the extra expense or could justify the costs. If you have any questions I haven't answered pop them in the comments below or feel free to tweet me @florenceandmary

I'd love to hear about your experiences flying premium economy with other airlines or shorter distances and whether they are comparable to Virgin.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Review // Heaven Skincare Wipes

I'm here today with a facial wipe review and it's not a scathing one - who would have thought it.

As you know my skincare routine has improved massively this past year due to both my new found 'beauty blogging' and maybe more importantly my skincare appointment with Caroline Hirons (which you can read about here) but I must be honest there are some times when I've climbed into bed without the usual  first step of using a cleansing balm and a flannel and with all the will in the world I'm not climbing out from under the covers. Usually in these instances I'll reach for a micellar water stored in my bedside draw but last night I reached for the Heaven Skincare Wipes I recently received in a goodie bag following an event.

First impressions were the size of these wipes. Compared to the regular brands we might be familiar with they were twice the size and much thicker. Next was a scent of peppermint which I enjoyed. A swipe with the wipe left a slight tingly on my skin but I felt that they were cleaning my skin and even removed my mascara. I reached for my Clarins eye make up remover to remove final traces but I could have easily preserved with the wipes to do the job.

I did follow the use of facial wipe with Heaven Skincare Cleansing Milk from my in flight kit which you can read about here and then my usual toners, serum and night oils and didn't feel like I had scrimped on my skincare routine for a lazy alternative.

Now here's the good bit. I'd actually started to get a spot that day but the next morning I woke and it had gone. Now I'm obviously not putting this down to the facial wipe but I am saying that obviously my skincare was throughly cleansed enough and the use of the wipe had not been to my skins detriment and I was interested to read on the Heaven Skincare website that the use of peppermint oil in the wipes is to keep blemishes at bay - so maybe it did help?

Heaven Skincare wipes are the creation of Deborah Mitchell who herself doesn't agree with facial wipes but recognised the fact that for some people, specifically her daughter enjoy the convenience of them so together they created a product that in my opinion works.

There is no hiding from ingredients with this product and they are there for you to see on the packaging - chlorine, paraben and artificial colour free which makes them pricey than your cheaper alternatives but at £7.30 for a pack of 30 and useable within your usual skincare routines they are definitely getting the thumbs up from me.

Will I use them on a daily basis? No. Will I use them for travelling and lazy days? 100% yes. When I factor in the cost of cotton pads and micellar waters they actually will probably work out a cheaper alternative.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on facial wipes, are you a fan or someone to steer clear? And if you'd usually keep away are you tempted to try these.

*PR Sample

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Recipe // Sweet Potato & Chill Soup

2 tsp olive oil
2 onions
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 - 2 red chillies
500g sweet potato
500g carrots
2 pints of vegetable stock

Fry the onion and garlic until soft then add the remaining ingredients
Cover the pan and bring to the boil then simmer for 20 mins
Blend until smooth and serve with a dollop of creme fraiche

I can't remember where I got this recipe from as it's just scribbled in the back of a notebook but I'm going to hazard a guess it's a weight watchers one for when I'm trying to be good.

Like last weeks pumpkin cookie recipe which can be found here there are a few ingredients and the most strenuous task is cutting up all that sweet potato. You may have noticed I love a quick, easy and delicious recipe.

This makes up a massive batch so there is plenty to freeze for even lazier days when you want something even quicker but far better than reaching for a tin of soup and perfect for warming up after tonights firework displays.

If you have a simple, quick recipe for me please share.

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Monday, November 4, 2013

The Winter Project

Anyone that was following my posts for #theSOproject will know that things went slightly astray towards the end. Between work and my holiday time escaped me to keep up with the schedule but I do plan to update the posts in due course - and as soon as I can find a long enough period of time to get my photos taken with the darker days let alone evenings.

Enough excuses and on to the new blogger project, this time called #TheWinterProject. Again the posts will go live on Tuesdays with the first tomorrow on our favourite Winter nail polish and the following weeks will look like this,

Week 2 Favourite Winter accessory
Week 3 Favourite Winter scent
Week 4 Christmas present ideas
Week 5 Favourite Christmas accessory
Week 6 Favourite products for a Christmas make up look
Week 7 Christmas OOTD

For anyone wondering where this week's What I'm Reading post is I'm still working my way through Killer Queens which is only taking me longer to get through because my commute has been accompanied by friends the past week. And allow me a fan girl moment as I express my excitement that Rebecca Chance tweeted me last week!

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Friday, November 1, 2013

October Empties

October Empties

First of the month can only mean one thing and that's Empties time so here is my round up of this months products.

Herbal Essence released this conditioner back in the Summer and I picked it up with my weekly shop from Tesco when I was in need of a new one. Firstly it smells amazing and was perfect to use throughout the Summer - it seemed to last forever. I would happily repurchase although I tend not to be too brand loyal with my shampoo/conditioners. You can also see another conditioner from L'Oreal. This is the usual bottle that is supplied with my hair dye which I purchase on a regular basis. 

I received L'Oreal Tecni Art Crystal Gloss in a goodie bag from an event some months ago and have been using it pretty much daily since. This product contains anti-humidity and anti-frizz protection against 'external agreessions' so was perfect throughout the Summer. I always used a spritz of this after blow drying my hair but can't really say whether it did or didn't make a difference. I may repurchase but once again there are so many hair products on offer that I enjoy flitting between brands.

Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir Bath Oil is my ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE product ever. A friend brought this for me many years ago and I've repurchased ever since. I did have the lovely glass bottle but I smashed the topper and I couldn't justify paying the extra money for a replacement and it's plastic bottle for me. Of course it's the product that counts. At first I was disappointed that there were no bubbles in my bath but the smell is what keeps me going back. This bath oil is what I will use before a night out or when I need an extra pamper. I love how the smell fills my whole bathroom and lingers long after the bath has been emptied. This is most definitely at the top of my Christmas list for 2013. 

Another bath time favourite is Molton Brown's Eucalyptus Bath & Shower Therapy. I always reach for this when I'm having a few sniffles and it's just the treat I need to clear the airwaves whilst laying back in a soothing bath. Again another request for the Christmas list this year I think. 

And the final bath time treat in mini size is Elemis Sharp Shower and Bath Oil. This is another handy pick me up when feeling low as it has the uplifting scents of peppermint and spearmint. Another product I'd happily repurchase.

I reviewed L'Oreal's Eye Make Up Remover in this post so I won't go into too much detail other than say that this product works well for me against the higher end brands and I will repurchase once I have used up Clarin's Eye Make Up Remover that's currently outstanding. I just wish they'd change the packaging!

Hydraluron is a blogger skincare staple and it's highly likely you'll have all heard of this serum you apply before your moisturiser to aid locking in moisture. I don't find this the nicest product to apply due to it's tacky finish and I can't quite pinpoint whether it's working for me. My skin is in pretty great condition these days but I think that's due to having a skincare regime at all when before I wasn't even using face wipes. I did use this on the plane during my recent travels but again was it this that led me to arriving fresh faced or the fact I was applying moisturiser every couple of hours. I think it's highly likely I will repurchase at some point but I'm going to spend a couple of weeks without in my regime and see if I notice any difference.

I picked up Pretty Quik Nail Polish Remover to take on holiday with me. It's small size, cheap price and simple 'dip and twist' suggestion made it very travel friendly. I actually didn't change my nail colour on holiday so it wasn't until my return I gave it a try and it was useless. I was wearing red nail polish which I appreciate is always a difficult one to remove but in the end I actually had to pull the sponge out of the pot and use it as I would a cotton pad and even that took more effort than I'd like. I didn't have the highest expectations for this product but I thought it would at least manage one use.

And finally it's two perfume's that were finished this month. A bottle of Chanel Mademoiselle from my twist and spray and you know is a favourite and staple of mine and Paco Rabanne Lady Million. Luckily I was able to pick up a roller ball of Lady Million in the US so I've already got my replacement for that and I'm well stocked up on Chanel till at least the end of the year.

Don't forget to share any impressions of these products if you've tried them, give me any recommendations or simply tell me what you've used up this month.  

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