Monday, 23 February 2015

Blogging for blogging's sake | Lifestyle

I had a fabulous weekend in Nottingham, catching up with an old friend and getting back to lots of creative and arty things. After having a long discussion with her about blogging, niches and direction I realised that I'm strictly blogging for blogging's sake. My blog posts are no longer personal, rich in content, and interesting. I know blogger's block is a thing, but I've probably been suffering with this for over a year, undecided where my blog should go and what my blogging voice actually is. I feel it's turned impersonal and I'm almost blogging for business purposes; I wanted to rebrand my blog to focus more on who I am, but I've had the realisation that Satchels & Pearls truly is a hobby, and my little area for release on the internet. 

As I said, I have lost my blogging voice so I've signed up on a few e-courses to help me bring myself back to my blog, and hopefully finding my niche on the internet. I'm also intending to use the fabulous means of Dexterous Diva in hope that I can start a small business as this has always been something I want in my life. That will be my branding. 

So a question to you all, what do you like or dislike about my blog? What do you feel you would like to see more or less of? I will honestly appreciate all your comments, and hope that it helps me find my blogging voice and passion again. 

Saturday, 21 February 2015

AirMotion Hairbrush | Beauty

I've been on the hunt for a new hairbrush since my old faithful Andrew Barton Argan oil hairbrush ran out of oil on the ends and started getting dragging on my hair, ouch. I still don't particularly fancy investing in a Tangle Teezer because they don't have a handle, it might seem silly but there is just something about a brush without a handle that doesn't grab me. Haha, I'm so old fashioned. 

Say help to the AirMotion hair brush*. 

Anyway, this brush is amazing on all accounts. First of all, yes, it has a handle; but it also detangles and smooths and straightens at the same time. It has three different lengths of bristles which helps to keep the hair in control and prevent snapping, something which is happening a lot with my hair lately due to over bleaching and heat damage. I'll never learn. Now something I've never seen before in a hair brush, a shock absorber. This is designed to help with wear and tear on your hair, so extra bonus points there. The brush is also contoured and has a non-slip handle making the whole overall experience of brushing your hair less stressful and a more pleasurable experience. 

Now I do love this brush, and I've thrown my AB one in the bin, and all the other rubbish £1 Primark ones I own too. I'm not that good with a hair brush and don't really know what I should have for my hair, so will basically buy as I see, but I would happily replace this brush when it breaks. Now the brush costs £11.95 which is a lot more than I would normally pay, but considering my hair wasn't ripped out and felt so much smoother when I dried it that I would pay for it. I'm getting older and my hair isn't in the condition it used to be ten years ago, and knowing me, I won't ease up on the dying either!
This post contains product samples.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Get Your Legs Ready For A Hot Short Summer | Fashion

This summer is looking to be hot, hot, hot in fashion. Shorts are getting short again so get ready to bare your gorgeous thighs and strut your stuff ready for the next heat wave. There are so many styles and fabrics that look great for shorts that if you are lucky enough to have the legs to wear them you are going to be spoilt for choice this coming season. With shorts really trending for the summer this year, there is work to be done to ensure your legs are up to the challenge of wearing them.

With so many different styles of shorts this summer, you could be forgiven for wondering where on earth to start. It may be safe to say that shorts are going to be everywhere and that you may well be able to pick up a bargain. Getting your legs in shape to wear them will be the first challenge, long before you buy your first pair of the year. Start with seeing to your diet. Check you are getting plenty of water and citrus fruits as it has been suggested this is a great way to prevent cellulite. As cellulite can affect our thighs as well as our hips and bottoms, prevention is probably better than cure.

Use a buffing brush or exfoliating wash several times a week to make sure all that dead skin that accumulates around our thighs all winter is well and truly gone. Use a good moisturizer with a hint of tan to be sure you are getting hydrated from the outside as well as the inside. The extra color will help if the sun suddenly gets hot without giving you a chance for a more natural color. It is best to fake it rather than bake it for most skin types and to avoid the risk of skin cancer too.

Shorts look great on thighs that are thin, but if your thighs aren’t toned, the wobble will really show if you are wearing shorts. Try stretches like those you can do in your Yoga classes, and also try some squats to help define the muscle shape. These are also great for creating some shape and definition to your backside. If you feel you are lacking a little roundness in this area, try wearing a long cotton shirt with your shorts to give the impression there is more there.

Women’s legs always look better in heels. There are some great sandals with a wedge or full heel out there this season. They will alter your posture to help you carry yourself in that classic, chic, and feminine way that naturally gives you some swing in your hips. It also lifts the calves and tightens the knees. If you do have any little jiggles and wobbles in this area, then make sure you are in heels when you wear your shorts. If you are blessed with fantastic pins, flat pumps look really cute. Think Baby from Dirty Dancing, and you are away!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Renovation: Update #3 | Lifestyle & Travel

Here we go with the third installment of my renovation update in China. These photos were sent to me last week, and the builders are most certainly cracking on! I can't imagine much being done over the next month or so however, as its Chinese New Year at the moment and work stops for a couple of weeks.

So where are we at now? Well you can definitely see such a major improvement in the kitchen! It looks so much brighter now we have white tiles on the walls, the concrete walls were awful and really made the rooms look drab and dark. That is something that really had to go! We've also had the windows replaced with new double glazed ones. The pipes have been cleaned up but unfortunately as they are owned by the government they aren't allowed to be enclosed in case they need ripping out. We couldn't manage to find white metro tiles over here, and there were massive problems trying to find plain white tiles. They have been really accommodating though and have cut large white tiles into smaller sized ones for the wall, bless. The balcony (cooking area) has completely been tiled too, making it easier to clean etc.
As you can see, the living room has undergone such a change. After being re-wired and re-plastered with fresh white paint applied, it looks amazing. 
I can't believe what a difference fresh white paint makes. I'm so glad I decided to have it all neutral, even though everyone disagreed and said I needed wallpaper and dark wood! I'm always right, haha. 

I can't wait for the next installment, and I'm eagerly awaiting the next set of photos! 

Enjoy The Celebrity Lifestyle On Vacation in 2015 | Travel & Lifestyle

For those of us who enjoy the finer things in life, finding the right vacation or holiday destination can be quite tricky. Many places you see in the brochure lack enough of the good stuff to keep us going for an entire week. The food needs to be special, not someone’s idea of what we like because of where we have come from. We want the best of what is loved by the locals. Then there is the accommodation. If our own homes are better quality and in better condition, we know we have probably wasted our vacation budget.

But there are some stunning places in the world to stay. Think about the luxury and opulence of Dubai. If you have Dubai money, then that is certainly a great place to stay. Sometimes, you can feel like you are not getting full value for money though, even when the accommodation is great. You want more, and quite rightly too. You have worked hard for your money, and that hard work really does deserve the holiday of a lifetime. You are there to make wonderful memories, and come home feeling and looking absolutely fabulous.

There is a little island in Indonesia that is earning an excellent reputation as the perfect holiday destination. Bali is somewhere that you can look up online. You'll find just enough information to know what you’re getting, but so little that you know it is still considered a 'secret' destination. It won’t be crowded, and you can experience a little exclusivity while you are there. Try searching for luxury resort Bali online now to see just how indulgent you can be!

Having a holiday designed around sheer indulgence, pampering and luxury can be incredible refreshing. If you have always gone for budget deals and felt a little hard done by, give luxury a go in Bali. This exotic island surrounded by living coral reef and white sandy beaches provides everything you could possibly want. Try snorkelling to see the reef and 1000 different species of fish up close. Watch out for the sharks and manta rays though!

Enjoy a daily massage and pampering session, and finish your afternoon with cocktails at sunset. You can truly feel like the most special person in the world, and that is just from the quality of service. Your accommodation could be so luxurious you may even feel like you are a celebrity. Bali is also a great destination for a detox. Remember the Julia Roberts movie Eat Pray Love? That was filmed up in the mountains of Bali, but the whole of this island is full of amazing landscapes. Just being there can make you feel instantly refreshed.

Wherever you stay in Bali, you can enjoy pampering and indulgence. You can also enjoy the local cuisine and wonderfully friendly people. The island is full of amazing sights and history too. Enjoy the temples, or take in the rice paddies. Whatever you do, make the most of all Bali has to offer you this year.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

#OOTD Ching-He Huang Dinner | Fashion

You may have seen from my previous valentine's day date night post the outfit that I was intending to wear for my dinner with Ching-He Huang, and here it is in all it's glory. Although I must admit I didn't have the cute white ankle socks or the gorgeous Accessorize camera bag (I need to go back and buy it in the sale in the Leeds store!). 
New Look Inspire black contrast collar skater dress - £22.99
A huge thanks to Faith from Music and Eyeliner for taking me to the NARS counter in Leeds, I've totally become a convert and their products are suppppppperb. I'm rocking satin lip pencil in Majella and it's probably the best suited red lipstick shade I've ever owned. I even went all out and bought a lip liner just for the occasion. I even managed to apply it all by myself, I think that's good going for someone who is a lip liner virgin! 

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Ching-He Huang's Chinese New Year Menu @ Harvey Nichols | Lifestyle

Last week me and the husband were lucky to grab ourselves last minute tickets to dinner with Ching-He Huang at Harvey Nichols in Manchester. Ching is my favourite celebrity chef, and she makes Chinese cuisine easy for me to cook, because let me tell you it's not that simple when you're doing it with your family in China! We have watched all her shows, and when she travelled China with Ken Hom they visited Beijing to find a specific duck restaurant, yes you guessed it, we had to follow them and went to the same restaurant. Not at the same time, I'm not that bad. It was delicious. 

So yes, Ching has designed a Chinese New Year menu that will be featured at Harvey Nichols restaurants over the next month, all based on the yin and yang concepts. And I must say, it was absolutely delicious. We were lucky to sample sharers from the whole menu, and I had to have both of the cocktails too. You know, for the blog. 
Not only did she design the menu we sampled on the night, she also gave us a little demonstration on how to make spring rolls too. We also had the pleasure of meeting her and having a long chat with her about food in China. She did even say that when she's next in our province in China she'll pop in and we can all cook together. I love this woman. Ching also signed out book and we were lucky to have a photo opportunity. 
Love cocktail (non-alcoholic, boo).
Happiness cocktail. 
Soy edamame and smoked tofu | spicy Sichuan pickle cucumber | five spice peanuts, cucumber and carrot 
Crab "pángxiè" 螃蟹 beancurd, micro coriander, spicy sweet chilli 
Longevity 'Misua' noodles, garlic salt, sesame oil, garlic flowering chives
Golden scallop and prawn wontons with micro coriander
Vegetarian spring rolls
Crispy duck and cashew lettuce wraps
Shredded poached white organic chicken in Sichuan vinegar oil with micro chives

The food was simply fantastic, and Ching is such an amazing woman. I was completely starstruck for most of the night actually. It was one of the most amazing nights in my life, I do love good food and great company too! 
I do look awful in this picture, but I still love it. 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Blog Sale | Beauty

So I have a million and one beauty products stashed away that sometimes I've even forgotten I own, I've decided that as I'm moving away (to a country with the strictest customs laws - I won't be able to take a lot of this stuff with me!) I'm going to have a simple beauty selection to take with me. Those are generally things that I use on a day to day basis; and the rest, the rest are here for you all to peruse in my blog sale!

I'm a silly buyer, so this sale will be long. But there are lots of bargains for you to get hold of at reasonable prices. All item usage will be shown, which to be honest won't be a lot (if any!). I've noticed a lot of stuff is still in it's packaging too. The sale includes hair dyes (and lots of them!), skincare products and lots of make up. 

Postage will be £3.90 second class signed for within the UK. If you buy more than one product postage will be the same (unless you buy lots of heavy items and I'll need to work that out). I don't ship internationally. Payment is to be made via PayPal and I will send you an invoice. Hope that clears that little bit up. Each item listed does not include postage, that is as I said above. 

Please email me at or Tweet me @michellexpan_ if there is anything you would like, I rarely check comments!

Also, I'm happy to accept reasonable offers, so go ahead and make me one!
Manhattan (European brand) Easy Match Make Up, skin tone adapting foundation in shade rose beige - £4 - used once. 
Manhattan Endless Stay Make Up, long-lasting foundation in shade rose beige - £4 - used once. 
No 7 Beautifully Matte Foundation in shade 40 cool vanilla - £6 - used twice. 
Holika Holika Aqua Petit Jelly Starter, primer kit, oil free. New. £5. 
Holika Holika Sweet Cotton pore cover powder/sebum control powder. New. £3. 
Nuganic Sun Base CC cream, SPF 50. Light shade. £5. New. 
Essence PureSkin anti-spot compact powder in shade 04 natural - £2 - brand new. 
Seventeen Miracle Matte pressed powder, for a matte flawless finish, oil free, in shade ivory porcelain  - £2 - usage shown, couple of times. 
Seventeen Phwoarr Paint heavy duty under eye concealer in shade fair - £3 - usage shown, couple of times. 
Rimmel Wake Me Up concealer in shade 010 ivory, £3, only used a couple of times. 
Benefit Professional. Both brand new. One 3ml, and the other 7.5ml. £4 for both. 
Etude House Color My Brows brow styling gel, shade 2, blonde/light brown. New. £2. 
Rimmel Brow This Way brow styling gel in shade medium brown. New. £2. 
Rimmel Brow This Way brow styling gel in shade dark brown. New. £2. 
Maybelline Brow Satin smoothing duo eyebrow pencil and filling powder, shade dark brown. £2.50. Used once. 
Kimmel Wonder'Full Mascara with Argan oil, extreme black. £4. New. 
L'Oreal Volume Million Lashes So Couture mascara in black. £5. New/sealed. 
Tony Moly gel eyeliner and brush in shade pearl brown. £4. New. 
Holika Holika Jewel Light eyeshadow, no shade - light mocha colour. £2. New. 
No 7 Stay Perfect Eye Shadow in shade cappuccino. £2. New. 
Make Up Revolution Palette Iconic 3. Used a couple of times, some shades untouched. £2.50. 
Make Up Revolution Redemption Palette Romantic Smoked, some shades untouched. £2.50. 
Make Up Revolution Ultra Blush Palette in Sugar and Spice. £4. New. 
Make Up Revolution I Heart Make Up Blushing Hearts triple baked blusher. £3. Used twice. 
Sold Make Up Revolution The One Blush Stick, shade dream. £2. Swatched. 
No 7 high shine lipgloss in shade glaze. New. £4. 
Me Me Me Coral Blossom lip and cheek tint. New. £2. 
Tiny Moly Tint Crayon in Neon Delight. New. £3. 
Sold Illamasqua Glamore lipstick in shade Naked. Usage shown, couple of times. £6. 
Sold Illamasqua lipstick in shade Flare. Usage shown, couple of times. £6. 
Sold Illamasqua Glamore lipstick in shade Minx. Used once. £8. 
Illamasqua medium pencil for eyes, lips, face and body in shade Thrash. Usage shown, sharpened once. Matches Flare lipstick. £4. 
Sold Illamasqua Lip Colouring Pencil in shade Woo. Used once. £5. Matches Minx lipstick. 
Sold Tanya Burr lipgloss in afternoon tea, used once. £3.
Tanya Burr lipgloss in aurora, new/sealed. £4. 
Sleek lipstick in Mulberry, new. £3. 
Make Up Revolution lipstick in shade Make It Right, used once. 50p. 
Sold MAC creme sheen lipstick in Sunny Seoul, used once. £6. 
Sold MAC creme sheen lipstick in Saigon Summer, brand new. £8. 
Sold MAC Ruby Woo, usage shown. £4. 
Sleek lipstick in Cherry, new. £3. 
Barry M lipstick in 151, usage as shown. £2. 
Barry M lipstick in 146, usage as shown. £2. 
Bourjois Rouge Edition lipstick in shade rouge jet set, usage as shown. £3. 
Tinted Cushion Lipstick (Korean brand) in shade neon orange. Used once. £2. 
Oriflame The One power shine lipstick in shade clover hazed. Used once. £2. 
Oriflamme The One colour unlimited lipstick in shade absolute blush. Used once. £2. 
Sold Holika Holika heartful moisture lipstick, no shade. New. £4. 
Barry M lipstick, shade 159 (champagne). New. £3. 
No 7 Moisture Drench lipstick in shade soft ruby, used once. £5. 
Sold Topshop lipstick in shade rio. Used once. £4. 
Make Up Revolution atomic lipstick in shade make me magnificent. New/sealed. £1. 
Make Up Revolution atomic lipstick in shade serpent. New/sealed. £1. 
Make Up Revolution lipstick in shade enchant. New/sealed. £1. 
Make Up Revolution lipstick in shade matte beloved. New/sealed. £1. 
Holika Holika aloe soothing gel. New. £5. 
Holika Holika soda pore cleansing oil. New/sealed. £5.
Etude House Moistfull Collagen cream and Super Collagen essence. New. £5. 
Tony Moly Appletox smooth massage peeling cream. New. £6. 
Tony Moly Panda's dream white magic cream. New. £6. 
Recipe spray essence water/toner. New. £4. 
Sold Bee Good honey & wild water mint 3-in-1 cleansing water. New. £5. 
Tony Moly shiny skin soap/sebum control and pore care. New. £4. 
Etude House sleeping pack. New/sealed. £4. 
Lush Hot Toddy shower gel. New. £2. 
Soap & Glory Endless Glove moisture mask and hand cream. New. £4. 
Pack of 3 Superdrug colour vibrance permanent hair dyes in shade 2:8 midnight blue. New. £5. 
Schwarzkopf Live Color XXL HD in shade 94 purple punk. New. £4. 
L'Oreal Feria pastel in shade S01 pastel pink panther. New. £4. 
L'Oreal Feria pastel in shade S02 pastel lilac lavender. New. £4. 
Schwarzkopf Live Color XXL HD in shade 91 raspberry rebel. Used once. £2.50.