Saturday, 29 November 2014

Christmas Gift Guide | Lifestyle

As soon as Boots have their 3 for 2 on Christmas gifts (like in September or whatever) I'm all over that, and have all my Christmas shopping done months in advance. I don't like shopping near Christmas, ok, well I mean I don't like going out to the shops. I ventured out on Black Friday to pick up some hair dye in my town, and I didn't expect it to be as manic as it actually was, lets say this, never again. However, I am a super fan of the online offers they have, and I may have got a little giddy and purchased a few things. Black Friday and Cyber Monday give great opportunity to start your Christmas shopping if you haven't already done so, but you have to be careful, a lot of the time you aren't actually getting a bargain; stores just up their RRP prices looking like they are offering a super discount on products. 

Anyway, I'm a big fan of online shopping, in fact I pretty much do all my shopping online. It's simple, easy, and I love ASOS Premier and Amazon Prime for free next day delivery. Those two online retailers have pretty much everything I need, and I always check out them first. 

So here is a little gift guide for you, of a few bargain items that you might wanna buy for the lady in your life. Or check that, treat yourself to.
1. The Schoolbook of Joy: Body Shop £15.00 (Save £5 with Black Friday offer - code TREAT). I love the Vanilla Brûlée collection, so yummy. 
2. Bad Hare Day wash bag by Casey Rogers: Presents for Men £16.99. This is the ideal size for me to take to China! 
3. Lily X Coffee Collection phone case: Iconemesis from £5 (currently with 50% off for Black Friday) (available for different phones). This is my all time favourite phone case. 
4. Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium, 30ml gift set: Boots £44. This perfume is absolutely gorgeous, I would love a bottle for Christmas, although my dad has bought my mum this beautiful gift set for her birthday so I may just have to occasionally borrow it...
5. Zoella Blissful Mistful 45ml: Superdrug £8. I bought this after seeing the Twitter hype for her new beauty range, and I must admit I am pleasantly surprised and absolutely adore this, for £8 it's a bargain.
6. Frankie Magazine 2015 diary: Frankie Press $26.95 (around £14.85). I pre-ordered mine so have it in my safe possession this year, they sell out very quickly! Such a big hype on Twitter for these beautiful diaries. 

Neon Florals | Fashion

This black and neon pink floral print dress caught my eye on Simply Be a month or two ago. I was really unsure to how it would look on me, would it fit right because it's not fitted but flared? Will it be long enough for me? What will the material be like? Is it going to be really bright? Well I thought I would add it to my basket as I was buying a t-shirt anyway. 

It arrived the same day I was taking outfit blog photos and I thought, well I might as well try it on; and it was simply perfect. The collar is beautiful, the swing dress fits me well, and the length is almost to my knees. Brilliant. I paired it with my bright pink coat and totally fell in love. They are the perfect autumn combination for those days when you would rather stand out in the crowd than fall into it. The dress will look fantastic with collar clips rather than a necklace. I'm really looking forward to finding different ways to style it through winter. 

At £35 I don't think it's broken the bank either, although I'm normally a cheapskate thrift shopping and going to Primark as often as I can!

Pink blazer - River Island - (old)
Gold triangle necklace - New Look - (old)
Neon daisy shirt - AX Paris (via Simply Be) - £35

Monday, 17 November 2014

The Winter Pale Lip.

It's not often I have a particular beauty obsession, normally just a cosmetic brand, but lately I've started coveting lipsticks. It's an honest obsession, I just need lipsticks. I only have five MAC lipsticks but I want more, I feel like I need a collection of these, they are just beautiful. I feel like my lipstick collection is growing rapidly at the moment, and it seems to be the staple piece of my make up bag that I actually wear. 

These four shades seem to be my go-to winter shades, and I never would have imagined that I would be drawn to such light pink and purple shades. Yes I know I've featured Up The Amp on the blog previously as a go-to shade, but I haven't written about the other three. I've bought the other three shades, Angel, Snob and Japanese Maple in blog sales whilst I've been waiting for the others to come, hence why I own three shades which are quite similar. To be honest most of the time I can barely tell Angel and Snob apart. I'm not that make up obsessed yet.

For some reason I just can't get enough of these lighter muted and neutral shades. Is is just me with a nude obsession this winter? I did stock up my collection with a few Sleek lipsticks for the winter months, but they haven't even been out the box yet. Oh, and I've just added to my collection an iridescent Barry M lippy. I can't wait for that to arrive! 

Saturday, 15 November 2014

New You | Weight Loss

A few months ago, before I had another ME relapse (hence my lack of blog posts and social media appearance), I had the opportunity of trying out another diet plan. This time I tried the New You weight loss plan. Again this is a very low calorie diet, but what I love about this plan is that you can have four meals as opposed to most plans which only offer three. That extra little something during the day made a whole lot of difference. 

I was quite overwhelmed when the package originally arrived; the products are so bright and uplifting and were beautifully wrapped in pink tissue paper. Everything felt really personalised and that gave me the extra incentive rather than the feeling of dread. The packaging alone really encouraged me to see the diet through, pulling out a cute sachet for a meal made me smile and kept me going. I also really enjoyed filling in the 'drop a jean size' journal too, there's something about stationary and keeping a journal that keeps me going. This is however designed for those doing a four week plan instead of a week's plan like I did, but this would certainly be an incentive to watch my weight loss and keep going. 

New You have such a wide range of products, and they have more meal flavours than I've seen with similar diet plans too. The diet bars were my favourite, and because you could have four meals a day, having a diet bar felt like a naughty little treat. My favourite was the chocolate cream cookie bar, simply divine. With other very low calorie diets (VLCD) you tend to only have shakes or soups, but New You offer porridge, soups, shakes, hot meals and the diet meal bars. Not only do they offer the standard plan products, but you can also get water flavourings, tea and breath strips. When I received a couple of packets of the breath strips in my package it made me realise that New You have such a caring ethic, it's the little things that really do matter and they have thought it through. Anyone who has a tried a VLCD diet that takes you into ketosis will know that you do get bad breath quite often, and these were such a lovely touch. 

They also offer 'ketosis friendly' snacks too incase you fancy a little something extra, these are designed so that you can have an extra nibble without coming out of ketosis. Such snacks include wafer bars, nuts and hot chocolate. 

I received a week's worth of products to trial, and a few of my favourites were the beautiful banana shake, the heavenly hazelnut shake (I had this warm!), the chicken noodle curry, and country cottage pie. All were very yummy! New You even popped in a pink lemonade water flavouring that tasted delicious! 

The nitty gritty: I did the diet plan for a whole week. I felt pretty confident with my week and it brightened my day when I saw the packaging, this really kept me going. I loved the fact you could eat four times a day too, having the diet meal bar was an extra pick me up and felt a little naughty on occasion. I did weigh myself both at the beginning and then end, and I lost 7lb during the week. Would I do this plan again? Most definitely. The fact I can eat more and snack made it so much more appealing than three shakes a day! 

They offer various packages, from one week up to eight weeks, and other packages of bulk meal buying in-between. The one week package costs £41.99 which includes four daily meals plus snacks! You can check out the meal plans here, and why not check out all their replacement products? I know you'll be pleasantly surprised. 
*A week's diet plan was sent to me free of charge for review, all opinions are my own. 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Christmas Dress Wishlist

It's a bit late for a 'wish list Wednesday' post as today is Thursday, but I've been having a little think of Christmas party dresses. I'll be in China for Christmas and New Year so won't really be attending any parties and won't have enough room in my suitcase for anything fancy to wear. We have to pack light this time as neither me or my hubby fancy dragging along three suitcases and hand luggage (we're going for the best part of a month). The thought of it ultimately makes me shudder. 

So here are a few of my favourite picks at the moment. 

The first dress is a Simply Be double layered jacquard dress. I absolutely adore this. I think it would suit my (pear shape) figure as well. And metallics, right up my street. This is currently available on their site for £60.  

Second we have one of my favourites, the George at Asda all over sequin dress. I'm a massive fan of George in general, and they can't go wrong in my book, so finding this little beauty at £25 is an absolute steal. Plus it comes in several colours. I just love this dusky rose number. Available in store and online here

My third choice is this stunning number from New Look's Inspire collection. I spotted this first going on to the shelves last month in my local store and fell in love. I would definitely have bought this if I was going anywhere this year. Skater dresses are my favourite, and the hint of metallic thread running through is just perfect. Yet another steal, and the cheapest of the bunch at £22.99! Available in stores (if New Look still has Inspire!) or online here

Have you found your ideal festive dress yet?

Monday, 10 November 2014

Chinese Beef Curry

I know this recipe isn't for a regular curry, but I couldn't really think of anything else to call it. It's fondly known at home as simply beef and potato but that didn't sound luxurious enough for the blog. This is one of my favourite Chinese dishes (from the mother in law) that I cook at home. There are several variations you can make of this dish, dependent on your taste or the flavour you want to achieve. I don't like spicy food so this is the perfect alternative to an Indian curry. 

The last time I made it, I decided to try it out in my new Tower Housewares' electric pressure cooker to tenderise the beef I used. Normally I make it with steak but it can get expensive, and for a family of four I decided to try a cheaper cut of meat which worked really well. I've since become really obsessed in using the pressure cooker and have tried lots of other dishes too, especially beef hotpot and another Chinese curry! It's great for this time of years with stews. You can pick up a pressure cooker from Tower Housewares from as little as £49.99, a household essential in my opinion. 

You will need: 
Beef - you can use any cut you wish. 
Potatoes - I normally use 4 or 5. 
Bunch of spring onions. 
Soy sauce - either light or dark, I normally use dark for the colour.  
Rice to serve. 

1. To start you will need to heat up a pan with oil, add the sliced ginger, half a bunch of sliced spring onions (the rest are to serve), and a tbsp of cumin (or more dependent on taste). Add your diced beef to the dish and brown. 
2. Add the browned meat and spice to the pressure cooker with soy sauce, water (up to the relevant fill mark), and diced potatoes. I put this on for 35 minutes and leave it to it's own devices. You can cook this in a wok the same way.
3. After the 35 minutes is up, add the diced tomatoes to the dish and leave on the 'warm' setting for another 10 minutes so that they cook a little. 
4. Serve with white rice, and add the rest of the sliced spring onions to garnish. 

As a variation, you can also add tomato puree and red wine if you fancy. I forgot the tomato puree when I made this last, and didn't add the wine as I made a couple of portions for Dexter too. 

It is a really simple dish, but full of flavour and a nice alternative to your usual Chinese takeaway dishes in the UK. 
*The electric pressure cooker has been sent for review from Tower Housewares, all opinions remain my own.