A Halloween Lush Collection

You just can’t beat a seasonal Lush collection, and they’ve really gone for it on Halloween this year. There are little ghost jelly bombs, black lip scrubs and gift collections covered in cat faces. It was just enough to distract me from the fact that the Christmas collection is already in… I didn’t go too crazy as all bath bomb related bank balance damage needs to be reserved for Christmas, but here is what I did pick up…

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*Sparkly Pumpkin: It’s a classic. It’s also covered in glitter – but that’s part of the fun with Lush, right? It’s the bubble bar everyone expects in the Halloween collection – with juniperberry oil which is great for your skin, and lime oil and grapefruit oil, which are both very uplifting and I can never say no to a fruity scent. This year they’ve brought it out in pink is as well – though I’m a traditionalist so stuck with the classic.

*Bewitched: This black cat bubble bar will, I suspect, leave the bath water a very alarming black colour – but surely that’s acceptable at Halloween. It smells overwhelmingly of blackberry and includes woody olibanum oil and bergamot oil. The soft, big bubbles and spicy scent will be worth the black water…

*Monsters’ Ball: Now for the bath bombs, this one is enormous. I’m not quite sure of the obsession with pink for the Halloween collection (I guess it’s better than black), but this is a cute little Cyclops. It has lots of the same oils as the bubble bars, so would go really well with both. The olibanum oil in particular is meant to be very relaxing – even if you are left with one eye staring at you as the bath bomb fizzes away…!

*Pumpkin: Finally, how could I say no to a pumpkin bath bomb? This is essentially like bathing in pumpkin pie. With the sweet vanilla absolute and spicy cinnamon bark oil, it smells exactly like home baking and all things sweet and spicy. Maybe a bit sickly for some, but it’s not too strong or overwhelming. Ideal for a chilly, Halloween night.

A Few Favourites: April

April is a bit of a funny month. We’re so desperate for winter to be at an end that when spring comes along it’s very exciting and very pretty (all those pinks!) but, and let’s be honest here, it’s still so cold. We’ve had sunshine, we’ve had showers, we’ve even had snow.

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Despite the ever unpredictable temperatures, it’s been really fun in London this month. Tiarnan and I are on a mission to find our favourite rooftop bar, which has involved some great views and some great cocktails. We also spent last Sunday by the river cheering on the marathon runners, which was so much fun! I went home feeling so inspired I could have burst, and promptly signed up to a 10k in July. Training has started. Wish me luck…

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*Interiors magazines: I love a good flick through an interiors magazine. I live for the day I own my own house and can do whatever I wish to do with it. But until that day, I’ll just form detailed opinions on other people’s homes. LivingEtc is my favourite because it combines interiors with fashion, I love the style of their features and the whole design of the magazine is just beautiful.

*Origins Clear Improvement Mask: I’ve been loving face masks recently, and this is my favourite. There’s just something so indulgent about a face mask and no better way to pamper yourself. This one from Origins is a charcoal mask, which leaves my face feeling clean, glowing and just so soft.

*The White Company Pomegranate candle: This is a bit of a hangover from winter but I just can’t let go of it yet. It, admittedly, smells like Christmas but the scent isn’t overwhelming and even though I’ve burnt it a lot, it’s lasting amazingly. The White Company have an enormous range of scents and everything from tea lights to enormous pillar candles – there’s something for everyone.

*The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro: I’ve saved the best till last. I’m doing so much reading at the moment on my commute, but this is by far my favourite recent read. It is set in a declining Britain after the Romans have left, centering on an elderly married couple, Axl and Beatrice, as they set off across the country in search of a son they haven’t seen in years. It’s a thought-provoking, clever and ultimately heart-breaking story, which will stay in your thoughts long after you have turned the final page.

The Lazy Oaf Striped Tee

When in doubt, always opt for stripes.

It’s still a little too chilly to just don a t-shirt, but when layered up they are absolutely perfect for spring. And I just think this cute (and quite colourful) little tee is perfect for those sunny spring days.

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This striped find is from Lazy Oaf, a really fun London based label. They have a really quirky selection of clothing, which has a very quick turnaround with plenty of ‘new in’ items all the time (so if you love something – grab it!)

Their clothes use bright colours, bold patterns and are often inspired by cartoons. This is quite a tame offering from their collection, but I love the pop of pink around the neck and on the sleeves. There, unfortunately, aren’t that many sizes left for this tee, but they’ve just released this ‘killer whale’ version if you want to get your hands on one.

They aren’t the cheapest at £30, but the t-shirts are very high quality and the material is actually quite thick. Perfect for when you desperately want to dress for summer but the weather hasn’t quite caught up with you yet!

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Recent Purchases

I’ve accidentally been a bit spendy recently. Not necessarily an enormous shopping spree, but just a book here, a blanket there and a couple of clothing items… before you know it you’ve amassed a nice amount of new “stuff”.

I love shopping full stop, but seeing all of the spring/summer items arriving is just so exciting. Some colour! At last! I’ve made a new rule for myself (which one of these items does break but there you go) – I am only allowed to buy colour. I’m counting white as a colour because I love to wear white in the summertime (quickest way to look tanned), but grey and black are out. Summer is coming and we don’t need any bleak colours bringing us down.

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*Topshop blouse and skirt: So I fell into Topshop and accidentally bought some clothes – what’s new? I am so in love with this diamond pintuck lace blouse, I only ever really wear white in the summer, so to have a new white piece really makes it feel as though winter is at an end. It is perfect for spring because it’s not quite as warm as a jumper, but the long sleeves and high neck protect you from those unexpected breezy days. This Boucle A-line skirt is admittedly a bit more wintery, but at just £26 I thought it was a pretty good price for Topshop, and it’s perfect for when it’s still a little chilly outside.

*Books: I have been quite strict with my Kindle-only rule recently, but I had to get these two in hard copy. This Wind in the Willows is part of Penguin Threads, a collection of gorgeous paperbacks. There are all kinds of classics to choose from in these beautiful covers, from Black Beauty to Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. Wildflower by Drew Barrymore has been doing the rounds on social media recently and that was what drew me in, as I’m not a particular Drew Barrymore fan. I’ve just turned the last page and loved it – but you’ll have to wait for next month’s reading list to find out more…

*Oliver Bonas throw: Isn’t this throw just so beautiful and colourful? It feels safe with the grey and white base and I love the pop of neon. It’s such a fun thing to have on your bed in the summer, and it’s not too thick and heavy so you won’t expire beneath it. Oliver Bonas is one of my favourite shops to browse in anyway, but only recently have I noticed the homeware. The cushions and throws in their collection are really fun and colourful – they’re all on my wish list!

*NYC haul: Tiarnan went to New York last month, and I sent him with a (rather extensive) shopping list. He came back with the Bath & Body Works three wick candle in Watermelon Lemonade which I absolutely love. Oh why can we not have Bath & Body Works in the UK?! He also bought me the Victoria’s Secret Mayfair Pyjamas, which is still the classic shirt and trouser set – but in a lighter material. Perfect as we are going into summer, now it just needs to get a bit warmer…

A Lushie Easter Collection

Nothing can beat a seasonal Lush collection. Of course the Christmas one reigns supreme, but while we await that time of year a little spring collection is more than enough to lure me in. Spring may have sprung (just) but the evenings are still chilly enough to warrant an OTT bubble bath. Here’s the damage from my latest visit…

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*Bunch of Carrots: My absolute favourite – so cute and colourful! These are three reusable bubble bars to be used as long as you can make them last. The Sicilian lemon oil and bergamot oil make them wonderfully citrusy and uplifting, perfect for springtime.

*Big Bang: This bubble bar is another a citrus number, with tangerine oil that supposedly tones your skin as you bathe. It also has avocado butter to soften and hydrate, so no need for moisturiser after using this one.

*Pop in the Bath: This super cute bubble bar is described as the lemon drizzle scented piece of bathing confectionery. Again, it’s citrusy (there’s a theme here) but with a slight floral edge from the orange flower absolute.

*Mangnificent:  This soap is fruity tropical cocktail heaven. It has fresh pureed mango and dried mango slices to gently exfoliate the skin as well as all kinds of citrus oils to wake you up in the morning.

*Happy Hippy shower gel: This grapefruit wash is one of their bestsellers, and again supposed to snap you into action with its citrus “wake up” scents.

*Golden Egg: Could you ever do a Lush collection without glitter? This is Easter’s sample of the stuff, in a cute, toffee-scented egg which leaves your bath water looking like molten gold. It’s also packed full of cocoa butter and olive oil to leave your skin super soft.

*Which Came First?: This is one of their monster-sized bath bombs. You can crack it open to reveal a chick and enjoy three baths out of it. The vanilla makes this one just sweet enough,  but not overpowering.

*Humpy Dumpty: The second enormous bath bomb. This one you do just chuck in, and Humpty Dumpty’s outer shell will disappear to reveal a fried egg. This one is also really refreshing with Brazilian orange oil and bergamot oil.

Current Skincare Picks

I have never been that into skincare. A combination of limited funds and well-behaved skin (and a certain degree of laziness) meant I was never pushed towards the skincare counters in Boots.

That seems to have all changed of late, though. My skin is still well behaved and I am still quite lazy (minimal faff skincare is what I’m all about), but with a budget that stretches slightly further my interest has finally been sparked. So today I’m going to share with you my current picks and, for those still at the minimal budget stage, I’ve also got some less pricey alternatives that have been getting me by until now…

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*Bioderma: Everyone’s heard of it, everyone knows about it, most have tried it and with good reason – the stuff is fantastic. One swipe and your make-up is gone. I wouldn’t say it’s leaps and bounds beyond the other micellar waters around though. I have Bioderma now because I was in France at Christmas and couldn’t resist popping into a pharmacy for a bottle, but I also love the Garnier and L’Oreal alternatives. If you can’t get your hands on Bioderma, those are just as great.

*Pixi Glow Tonic: I rarely exfoliate with a scrub (that counts as a skincare faff). This is a toner but the glycolic removes dead skin cells and so also exfoliates. It really does leave my skin looking less patchy and healthy, and again just with one swipe of a cotton pad.

*La Roche-Posay Serozinc: I’m not entirely sure what this does exactly, other than feel really cooling and refreshing on the skin. I love to use this after the Pixi Glow Tonic to relax everything. Tastes horrible on the lips though – watch out when spraying!

*Dermalogica Skin Smoothing Cream: I only use this as night because it is quite a thick moisturiser, but it leaves your skin feeling beautifully soft and amazing by morning. It works wonderfully with the Glow Tonic, leaving your skin glowing and healthy while toning down any redness.

*Garnier Pure Active: This has been my budget moisturiser for years and I still like to use it in the mornings. It leaves the skin feeling smooth and prepped for make-up and it sinks in almost instantaneously – perfect when you’re in a rush!

*Origins Clear Improvement Mask: Face masks count as faffing, but they are such a treat every so often. I absolutely love this one. It’s a charcoal mask which really focuses on ridding any dirt from your skin, and my skin feels clean, glowy, soft and amazing after using it! For a budget alternative, the Una Brennan Super Facialist range of masks are great.

*Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment: This deserves all the hype it gets. It comes in quite a shockingly small pot for the price, but you only need a tiny amount so it really does last. It’s super hydrating but sinks in quickly and feels amazing on the eye area. For a budget alternative try Simple’s Kind to Eyes Soothing Eye Balm – very cooling and super cheap.

Little Luxuries to Get Through Winter

Let’s start with a bit of honesty. Winter is a bloody miserable time.

We fantasise about hot chocolates, log fires, building snowmen and fresh days with clear blue skies. Sometimes this is the reality. But there’s also the flip side – forgetting your umbrella, freezing on station platforms and a severe vitamin D deficiency. And on top of that, we’re punishing ourselves with New Year’s resolutions rather than hibernating as we should be. We’ve just had ‘Blue Monday’, and I don’t blame us for feeling a bit down.

So to cheer everything up, I’ve come up with a list of little luxuries we need to get through winter. They’re nothing too crazy, just small things to make life that bit more comfortable. Because after all, it is winter and we deserve a treat.

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*An enormous scarf: And by enormous, I really do mean enormous. I mean so big it could double up as a picnic blanket. I bought one last year when the cold in Newcastle just got too much and I haven’t looked back. They’re great as a scarf (obviously), but are also the best thing to travel with as they double up as a pillow or a blanket. This Christmas, I even snuck some presents home underneath it! I’ve currently got my eye on this one from Zara.

*Gorgeous knitwear: Spend that little bit more on your knitwear and you won’t regret it. Jumpers are my all time favourite thing (and I have far too many of them), but if you’re savvy and buy good quality ones, they will last for years. Topshop is my favourite place to buy knitwear, they have so many cool designs and aren’t astronomically priced. Top tip: try to avoid buying knitwear online, always test the quality before buying.

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*Luxurious handcream: Everything drys up in winter. Chapped lips and dry hands are, in my opinion, the absolute worst. Treat yourself to a lovely handcream and keep it on your bedside table or in your handbag so you actually remember to use it. The Soap & Glory handcreams are my all-time favourites, they sink in super quickly, are the perfect portable size and aren’t too pricey (yippee!). Cowshed is another gorgeous brand if you’re looking for something a little special.

*Scented candles: Nothing makes a home cosier than a scented candle. I have a million favourites, but The White Company candles are some of the very best. There’s a huge range of scents, from fruity to spicey to herbal to floral and you can buy everything from cute little tealights to enormous pillar candles. These medium size pillar candles are my favourite, they look gorgeous and smell incredible.

*A new cookbook: Winter is the perfect time for taste testing new recipes – we need delicious food for miserable evenings. Deliciously Ella Every Day landed on my doorstep last week, and I haven’t been so excited by a cookbook in a long time. It focuses on super healthy food that is quick to make with ingredients that are easy to track down and basic equipment. Whether you are mastering a veggie paella or a chocolate fudge cake, nothing warms the soul like food does.

Pamper Night Essentials

The best piece of fitness advice I have ever received was never make food your reward. 

Don’t tell yourself you can have a chocolate bar if you run 5k. Of course, you can have a chocolate bar after running 5k but you should eat it because you want to, not because you are “allowed” to. Eating by rules creates an unhealthy attitude to food and is just something to be avoided.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t reward your exercise though. With the amount everyone does in January – treats are definitely needed! Rather than food, I reward myself in several ways. I’ll buy myself a magazine, light a new candle or, if I have enough time, have a pamper night. So today I’m going to tell you all of my pamper night essentials, to help you drag your achy body through the rest of the month!

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*Bathtime treats: Lush is the obvious go-to here, but I’ve got some different goodies for you today. Bomb Cosmetics make beautiful, handmade bath bombs which use essential oils and natural butters to create amazing scents and leave your skin super soft. I also love the Oliver Bonas bath marble crackers, which I was lucky enough to find in my stocking on Christmas morning. These smell incredible and are brilliant for creating bath bomb cocktails. I love mixing and matching products to find the best bath time concoctions!

*Face masks: The ultimate skin treat, I always think there is nothing more pampering than a face mask. I love using packet ones that you can buy cheaply, as you can try all kinds of different ones rather than using the same over and over again. This particular one is a mud mask, which is my favourite kind. They leave your skin super clean, nourished and amazingly soft.

*Body scrub and cream: Even though it’s winter, having soft and nourished skin will always make you feel better, especially when you are hitting the gym. My current favourites are the body scrub and cream from Soap & Glory’s Sugarcrush line, the scent is a delicious mix of brown sugar and lime. The scrub particles are harsh enough to do their job but still feel nice on the skin, and the cream sinks in super quickly and is really nourishing. They are also pretty cheap, so you can’t do much better than these!

*Candles: An absolute must to create a calming and relaxing environment. My two favourites are Penhaligon’s and Diptique, both of which make the most luxurious candles. They are so strong you don’t even need to light them to scent a room! For slightly cheaper alternatives, The White Company make beautiful candles which don’t cost the earth, and Oliver Bonas make even cheaper ones which still look and smell amazing. If you don’t want to use a candle, then a room spray, pillow spray or reed diffuser are great alternatives.

*Go screen free: Switching off for an evening is the best way to relax, even if you get separation anxiety when you put your phone away. Instead of checking Instagram for the millionth time, read a book or a magazine. Or (my current favourite pastime), colour! I love the adult colouring books, especially the ones by Johanna Basford. I have her Lost Ocean book, and it’s such a satisfying, soothing and absorbing activity, it will keep you occupied all evening.

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A Few Favourites: December

Oh December, how I love thee. This month has been filled with mad shopping dashes, endless present wrapping, cosy film nights and countryside walks. And it has gone by all too quickly!

This year, we spent Christmas at home. For the last two years we have dashed off to Switzerland for a family Christmas, so to enjoy the festivities in Kent was a real, relaxing treat. It is strange to think that this time last year I was on the slopes (can it really be a whole year?!) and we’re having many a wistful conversation about going back. We will. At some point.

But until then, there’s plenty to do. Before December finishes we have Stars Wars to watch, plenty of leftovers to eat (it’s turkey sandwiches for the foreseeable) and 2016 to ring in.

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*Bluebird Tea Co.: December is the time for hot drinks, and this month I discovered the Bluebird Tea Co. They do the most amazing tea blends which are all so fun and inventive, but it was their Christmas collection that really pulled me in. I found Mulled Wine and Snowball in my stocking on Christmas morning (thanks Santa!), and my personal favourite is the Gingerbread Chai. They ship worldwide, so be sure to check them out!

*Christmas films: One conversation with my sister led to the discovery that she had seen pitifully few Christmas films, so I was soon on Amazon ordering the best ones. We’ve had many a cosy film night, but the highlights have to be The Holiday and Love Actually – it wouldn’t be Christmas without them! Aside from the festive offerings, we’ve also had a bit of a Richard Curtis/Hugh Grant extravaganza with Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and the Bridget Jones films. It’s been amazing.

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*Lush The Magic of Christmas: I’ve had many a Lush Christmas bath this month, but their reusable bubble bar, The Magic of Christmas, has been my favourite from the lot. Not only does it look adorable on a cinnamon stick, covered in glitter and complete with a bell, but it smells amazing. It also worked so well with some of their other bath bombs to create Lushie bath cocktails!

*Festive beauty bits: This month I seem to have fallen back in love with make up. I’ve been particuarly enjoying the Maybelline Lash Sensational mascara, which is as sensational as everyone says it is. I haven’t been parted from bareMinerals The Soundtrack eye palette, which is perfect for shimmery, festive looks and I finally got round to using OPI Red Fingers and Mistletoe, which is an amazing deep, shimmery red. I’m probably going to have to drag the festive make up into January, as I’ll just miss it too much otherwise!

*Big city life: I think there is no better time to see a city than at Christmas, and I’ve been lucky enough to be in London and Paris this month. In London we rode Boris Bikes around Hyde Park, ate festive food in many a restaurant, did yoga in the sky and went out for celebratory cocktails. In Paris we dashed around all the landmarks, perused the Christmas markets, drank coffee by the river and admired the Christmas lights. It’s been a great month!

Festive Make-Up Essentials

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With just five days until Christmas (eee!) I’ve started to pull out all of my favourite festive make-up items that are a bit OTT at any other time of year. Christmas calls for glitter, does it not? And even if you dress casually for the big day, it’s still fun to spend a bit of extra time on your make-up. Here are my favourite (mainly glittery) beauty bits and pieces for this time of year.

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First up, let’s talk eyes. One of the easiest ways to incorporate a bit of sparkle into your look is through eyeshadows. My absolute favourite eyeshadow quad for this is bareMinerals The Soundtrack. It has a deliciously creamy, matte champagne to use as a base and then three shimmer shades to play with! My favourite is the copper eyeshadow, and a wash of this all over the lid makes for a really easy, Christmassy look. For single eyeshadows, MAC All That Glitters (an absolute classic) and L’Oreal Pin-Up Pink are the best for a more subtle look with a hint of sparkle. And finally, bareMineral Prime Time, their brightening eyelid primer not only keeps your eyeshadows look amazing all day, but also adds a really nice glow.

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Moving on to pigments, because if you want to do glitter properly, they are the only way to go. I find them a bit of a messy faff usually, but for Christmas I’m willing to make an exception. I always feel that bareMinerals is such an underrated brand. Their foundations get a lot of hype, but their eyeshadows (both loose and pressed) are amazing. Here is a selection of the bareMinerals Eyecolour in (moving left to right) Flawless Diamond, Zany and Centre Stage. All three are beautiful colours, but zany is a bit more unexpected as a super glittery forest green. bareMinerals also do amazing gift sets for Christmas, and you can get great selections of their Eyecolours in them. If you are feeling a little more bold, look out for the Illamasqua Precision Ink. This one is in Wisdom which is a gold, glittery liquid eyeliner. They have a selection of crazy (and more conventional) colours, and you can create some really fun eye looks with them for parties and the festive season.

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And finally, it wouldn’t be Christmas without festive nail varnish! I always think nail varnish is so much fun to play around with and it’s really easy to build up a collection of your favourite colours. December calls for a classic red shade, and the best I’ve found is Essie Russian Roulette. It looks great on its own or as a base for glitter. As far as red glitters go, you can’t go wrong with Barry M Ruby Slippers – super cheap and super festive! For a more high end option, OPI always have beautiful Christmas collections. This is one of their’s from last year, Red Fingers & Mistletoes and probably my favourite festive nail colour, a stunning blend of red and gold glitter. If you aren’t a fan of red or just want to mix it up a little, gold, silver and copper are my favourite options. butter London have a great selection, but I love Champers (copper) and Posh Bird (silver). Sally Hansen Coat of Arms is one of the sparkliest shades I own and Essie Buy Me a Cameo  is a bit more subtle, and a beautiful rose gold shade. And if you’re looking for something a little different, Tanya Burr Cosmetics Under the Sea is an amazing blend of chunky blue, green and silver glitter. Perfect for New Year!

I hope this has given you some festive beauty inspiration, what are your favourite Christmassy make-up items? Merry Christmas, everyone!