Wednesday, 30 April 2014

April Overview

I've really enjoyed the month of April, I've really been getting organised and creating a healthy balance between seeing my husband, family/friends, work and blogging, something I've really struggled to do since Christmas. I've actually really enjoyed writing and haven't been feeling like I have to blog, which I think has come across in my writing and has led to an increase of you wonderful people reading my blog!

One of my April highlights was that I managed to meet up with The Bournemouth Bloggers again this month which was lovely and I got to take part in a clothes swap. It was lovely to see everyone again and I hope we meet up again soon.

I have also got to work with some lovely brands this month and have loved my key necklace from Lily Charmed and I have been taking better care of my hair by using the Save The Blow Dry (review coming up soon!).

Despite the fact I'm meant to be spending less money, I've bought some lovely items this month and have been making the most of spending my free time over the Easter Bank Holiday stuffing my face with chocolate and watching Disney films!

Whilst I've not been doing that I have been working hard making my friends Wedding invitations which I finished just the other day. She came over the other night after work to collect them and her and her husband to be are thrilled with them! It was so nice to see her smiling face when she saw them all completed!

I'm also working towards reaching my goal for purchasing a new camera - I'm still undecided as to which one to get as I've never owned a DSLR before so if you have any words of wisdom, please share them in the comments below!

What have been your April highlights?


Monday, 28 April 2014

April Favourites

I love when favourites time comes around as I get to share with you my top picks from the previous month. This month, the weather has perked up a little which means it's time for ballet pump season to begin. The ones in the photo above are my second pair of Topshop pumps that I picked up recently for £16. They're really comfy and the light colour means they can be paired with practically any outfit.

I picked up a Benefit They're Real Mascara Mini after my friend at work couldn't believe that as a beauty blogger I hadn't tried it. Now I can see what I've been missing! It really does make my lashes full and and stand out. I've had several people comment on my eye make up since I started wearing this so it's obviously making more of a feature of my eyes.

This month I have mostly been sporting Model's Own HyperGel polish in Naked Glow. It's quite a subtle nude shade so I've been able to get away with wearing it at work without attracting too much attention. I'm really liking nude shades recently so I expect I will be picking up a few more shades soon!

I picked up MAC's Fix+ over a year ago now and never really had much love for it until now. I think as the weather has hotted up a little I'm noticing that my make up hasn't really had as much staying power. Since I've been using this though, it's got much better.

Finally, I've been using my Steamcream as my moisturiser this month. It has a light formula and dries really quickly so it's been great to use before applying my make up in the mornings.

What products have been your April favourites?


Sunday, 27 April 2014

This Week I...#17

This week has been a lovely short week at work as I had Bank Holiday Monday off. I spent the day being lazy, planning blog posts and watching Gossip Girl. I'm only on season 2 so I've got a long way to go but it was nice to get back into it again.

On Wednesday this week, my friend and work colleague Michelle and I held a bake sale to raise money for dementia patients at the hospital we work in. We managed to rope in quite a few of our work colleagues to make cakes too, I sampled the one on the left which was lovely, and I made the ones in the middle photo for people to purchase. The sale was a big success and we raised a grand total of £48.48. Every £5 that was raised buys a pair of slippers for a patient so we raised enough to buy 9 pairs (and a little left over to go towards the next pair). We felt quite proud of ourselves, I love being able to do my bit.

On the blog this week I have mostly been talking about nail polish! I wrote about my favourite nail varnish brands in my nail polish hall of fame post and reviewed Nails Inc Baker Street. I tried to incorporate a little bit of lifestyle this week too by chatting about my top tv picks at the moment which I am going to make into a monthly feature. I can't wait to watch the season finale of The Following on Tuesday. I have no idea what is going to happen!

Next weekend I am off to London with two of my lovely friends, we are planning on visiting The Tower of London, doing a spot of shopping and generally getting our tourist on!

What have you been up to this week?


Friday, 25 April 2014

Nails Inc: Baker Street

As we are now almost heading into May I think it's an acceptable time to start bringing in the brights. I got this in my Nails Inc Christmas Cracker set in the Boxing Day sales. It's a bright cobalt blue polish called Baker Street. (On a side note, I love that all Nails Inc polishes all have lovely London street names).

According to the Nails Inc website, Beyonce reportedly wore this shade when she first ventured out after the birth of Blue Ivy...well if it's good enough for Beyonce!

It's got an amazingly glossy finish which weirdly reminds me of patent shoes I was never allowed to have when I was younger! The above photo was taken with two coats applied but I probably could have got away with one. I would still recommend popping a top coat like Seche Vite over the top to help it last though.

It's a great vibrant shade which I will be showing off on my nails over the next few months!

Have you ever tried Baker Street before?

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

High Street Nail Polish Hall of Fame

I doubt that it's any surprise that I am a huge nail polish addict! I have way too many! I've not counted them up for a long while but I'm sure I must be into the hundreds by now.I've picked out a few of my favourite brands to talk to you about today, sort of like a little awards ceremony for nail polish featuring several different categories!

Best all round quality - Essie
It will probably come as no surprise to you that my favourite all round nail polishes are Essie. I love the shades, names, the pretty bottles, the size of the brushes, the consistency and longevity (is it possible to name anything else!) The only thing I don't particularly like is the price but this is actually good for me as it limits how many I buy and makes sure that I get good use out of each and every one!

Best budget range - Barry M
At £2.99 or £3.99 each, these are definitely the most purse friendly polishes. I have found that they can be a bit hit and miss, some I love, some I hate. I'm yet to try the most recent silk collection which is a collection of pretty pastels. I love the Gelly polishes and frequently wear Pomegranate and Dragon Fruit.

Best shade range - L'Oreal Color Riche
I love popping into Boots and heading for the L'Oreal stand and just staring at the beautiful array of colours (does that make me weird?!) In my local Boots (as I'm sure most Boots) they're all arranged in colours of the rainbow and this just makes me want them all! At £4.99 each it would be possible to buy all of them eventually!

Best collections - Models Own
Pastel, neon, firework, speckled egg, velvet goth, hypergel...need I go on? I haven't come across a brand with so many different collections as Model's Own. I usually end up buying at least one polish from each collection, and then go back for more!

Best fashion brand polish - Topshop
 I struggled to come up with a name for this category, but what I wanted to get across was my favourite polish that you can buy in a high street store. I've tried Accessorize and Primark etc but Topshop is just miles ahead in the polish stakes. The bottles are attractive and stand out in my collection and there are lots of colours to choose from. At £6 there a little on the expensive side but in line with brands like Model's Own and Essie.

What are your favourite nail polish brands?

Monday, 21 April 2014

On The Box | 001

Considering I call this blog a beauty AND lifestyle blog, I always seem to post more of the former, so I'm making a conscious effort to share a little bit more lifestyle starting with my current top telly picks this month!

001//The Following - Season 2
The Following is definitely my current favourite show! I'm always wanting more every time an episode ends. This is currently the second season and I believe they have already commissioned a third, which I am already excited for. The plot follows Joe Carroll, a brilliant and charismatic but psychotic serial killer. Whilst in prison, he communicates with other killers on the outside who become his loyal followers (spoiler alert - he escapes) and create havoc on the streets. FBI agent Ryan Hardy is on the hunt for Carroll and his cult but quickly becomes obsessed with all things Carroll.

002//Game of Thrones - Season 4
If you're not watching Game of Thrones, then why not? Admittedly, we didn't get into it until the third season as we found seasons 1 & 2 on the sky store and started watching and were instantly hooked. The show is based on the books written by George R.R. Martin and follows seven noble families fighting for control of the mythical land of Westeros. There are lots of naked ladies, fighting, death, blood and sex. What more could you want?

003//Wreck It Ralph
So far I have watched this film a grand total of 18 (yes, that's not a typo - eighteen times!) I don't know what it is about this offering from Disney that keeps making me watch time and time again. Wreck it Ralph is a story that follows Ralph, a video game villain that wants to be good. He sets out on a quest to win a medal which has major implications on the other arcade games where he lives. It's amazing, feel good Disney with sly adult references that will keep children (and adults!) amused for hours.

What have you been watching lately?

Sunday, 20 April 2014

This Week I...#16

Happy Easter everyone! I hope the Easter Bunny visited you and brought you lots of lovely chocolate! This week's, This Week I post comes to you a little later than my scheduled posts. I've actually been at work this morning covering a shift for someone who couldn't do it. I haven't worked a weekend day in over two years (once I got a promotion at work they no longer required me to work weekends) so it was a little odd going in and doing all the jobs I used to do. Although it wasn't all bad as the Easter Bunny decided to pay us a visit and gave every one of us who was working (which must be at least one thousand people) a little creme egg each! How lovely!

This last week I have been working the late shift again but managed to squeeze in a quick Starbucks on Monday with my friend Kayleigh. The weather was lovely so I went for a Frappe. I couldn't resist snapping the beautiful blossom on the trees on my way to work either, which looked so lovely in the sunshine (compared to today which is dismal and rainy!).

This week I have also been working on some wedding invitations for my friend and work colleague who is getting married in August, so I have been spending my mornings waiting for parcels and making beautiful washi tape bunting for her invites which you can see in the top photo on the left. Also, I tried an amazing hot chocolate, I don't normally like hot chocolate that much as I hate lumps in the bottom (yes, I'm weird!) but this Cadbury's Wispa offering is AMAZING! It was on offer in Tesco's for one pound something and if you can pick some up, trust me you won't regret it!

On the blog this week I have been talking about a beautiful Barry M nail varnish shade called Pacific. It reminds me of a mermaids tail for some reason which prompted me to watch The Little Mermaid again. I also posted a handy guide for Twitter chats this week and shared my thoughts on VO5's Argan Oil.

This week I followed these blogs:

What have you been up to this week?

Friday, 18 April 2014

VO5 Miracle Concentrate Argan Oil

It's not often I talk about haircare on IIAV (Yes, I am giving my blog one of those oh so cool acronyms!) so I thought I would dedicate a post to an item of haricare that I am currently loving. Admittedly, I bought this a long long time ago on one of my many Boots hauls, popped it aside and then forgot all about it! When we moved house last summer it made its way back into my product stash and back into my heart.

I have really thick dark brown (and sometimes grey) longish hair, work colleagues envy it, I hate it. I always wanted curly hair and try to curl it at every opportunity however this isn't always a viable option, especially as I take an extremely long time to get ready in the mornings! Most days all I do is give it a wash, blow dry it and straighten it. 

I've been popping a few drops of this onto my hand (literally a few drops is all you need) and then running it through my hair whilst it's still wet then blow drying it. It's made my hair really silky and smooth so much so one of my work colleagues is obsessed with running her hands through my hair every time she sees me!

As you can see from the photo I've only just made it to the top of the label and I've been using it for weeks now! The little pipette applicator makes it really easy to dispense a small amount into your hand.

Even though I bought this a long time ago, it's still available in Boots stores and online and is priced at £5.19 (which I think is actually cheaper than what I bought it for originally!) 

Have you tried this before? Or do you use any other types of oils in your hair?


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Twitter Chats | Who, What When and How...

When I first started blogging I didn't even have a Twitter account. The thought of it really confused me, what are these hashtags everyone's talking about?! How do I @ someone in a Tweet? Maybe I'm too old to join Twitter?!

But once getting to grips with the basics, it opened up a whole world of friends, celebrities and of course blog chats to me. It's been a really useful tool in increasing my blog readership, page views and I've met some lovely people and done some amazing things because of it (see this post here for one of those!).

There are so many Twitter chats out there to join in with whether you're a beauty, lifestyle, fashion, food or parent blogger or all of the above! Basically, at different times throughout the week, usually for an hour, groups of bloggers from all across the world join in and talk to each other and share their blog links, simply by writing a tweet and using a specifically designed hashtag (#) somewhere in their tweet - yes it really is that easy!

Here is my example...

To see what other people are saying in the chat, I do a search for the hashtag for that hour, for example, if it was the beauty bloggers chat I would type #bbloggers in the search bar, then everyone who has written a tweet with that hashtag will come up!

Here is a little list of some of the chats I join in with...

#fbloggers - fashion bloggers chat 8.00-9.00pm GMT

#craftblogclub - a chat for those who love to craft 7.00-8.00pm
#fblchat - fashion, beauty & lifestyle chat 8.00-9.00pm

#lbloggers - lifestyle bloggers chat 7.00-8.00pm
#bbloggers - beauty bloggers chat (no topic) 8.00-9.00pm

#fbloggers - fashion bloggers 8.00-9.00pm
#bloggersWLW - weight loss chat 8.00-9.00pm

#beautychat - a chat about all things beauty 7.00-8.00pm

#socialbloggers - talk about social media and promoting your blog 6.00-7.00pm
#tbloggers - teen bloggers 8.00-9.00pm

#pbloggers - parent bloggers 9.00-10.00pm
#foodbloggers - food bloggers chat 8.00-9.00pm
#lbloggers - lifestyle bloggers 7.00-8.00pm
#bbloggers - beauty bloggers 8.00-9.00pm 

I'm sure a lot of you will be familiar with this already but hopefully you've found this post useful!

Do you take part in the Twitter chats?

Monday, 14 April 2014

Barry M Aquarium Collection | Pacific (The Mermaid Shade)

As soon as I had heard that Barry M was releasing an aquarium collection I was desperate to find out if they had what I call The Mermaid Shade (Barry M call it Pacific, but I like my name better!). Something about this colour reminds me of Ariel from The Little Mermaid and I knew I had to have it. 

On release day (which was a few weeks ago now) I was on a late at work so I dragged my Mum out for a little shopping trip. The collection was released in Superdrug before Boots and we haven't got one in our local shopping centre so I specifically said that I wanted to go to another nearby town so I could get this. Usually this branch of Superdrug has everything I need as the town is mostly populated by older people! Obviously they had it and it now part of my ever growing collection!

Originally I had my eye on Topshop's Eclipse nail polish, which is pretty similar but is £6 instead of Barry M's offering at £3.99 and personally I prefer Barry M's colour more (plus I now have another £2.01 to put towards my next one!).

The colour is beautiful, but you have to build it up, the above photo was taken with three (yes, three!) coats. It's so pretty though! As with all Barry M's polishes, they last a few days before they start to chip. I usually paint my nails on a Friday after work and they're still looking lovely before I have to remove it before work Monday morning.

Have you bought any of the Barry M Aquarium Collection? What do you think to this colour?


Sunday, 13 April 2014

This Week I...#15

By the looks of the picture above, it looked like my week this week consisted mainly of food! Definitely not a bad thing! I celebrated with some of my work colleagues this week, if you read my last This Week I post you might have seen that I passed my portfolio for work, so my friends wanted to take me out for dinner. I had the choice of where we went so obviously I opted for Nandos! One of my friends had never been before so I was determined to introduce her to the deliciousness of Nandos! Afterwards, we browsed some shops (I managed to go to Boots and not pick up anything! What?!) and popped into Sainsbury's to look at yummy easter eggs and try to find an amazing peanut butter hot chocolate drink which they didn't have! This then prompted me to try several other Sainsbury's in the area (yes, I am that obsessed!) until I found it! It was definitely well worth it - if you love peanut butter, you will love this!

This week my family and I also celebrated my Dad's birthday, it wasn't a milestone, but we usually all get together as a family at birthdays and eat lots of nice food. My Mum always puts on a good buffet (the best one is at Christmas!) My sister was also home from uni so it was good to see her again!

Yesterday I spent the day shopping with my other sister, we originally were just going to pop to a few shops at our local shopping centre, but because we couldn't get what we wanted we ended up going to town as well. I picked up a few bits from Topshop and Primark which I will pop into a post which will hopefully be up this week!

On the blog this week I got the opportunity to review some beautiful jewellery from Lily Charmed, who officially released their polished collection of charms this week. I have been wearing my silver key charm necklace non stop, in fact, it hasn't left my neck all week! I also popped up a post all about the Bournemouth Bloggers #bloggersclothesswap event I went to last Saturday and posted about my current favourite drugstore foundation!

This week I liked these posts:

This week I followed these blogs:

What have you been up to this week?

Friday, 11 April 2014

My New Favourite: Drugstore Foundation

I've been on the hunt for the perfect foundation for what seems like an eternity. I've tried multiple brands, prices and formulas but none have seemed to have that wow factor. With funds being extremely tight this month, due to multiple bills landing on the doorstep, I took to the recent Boots 3 for 2 offer where I picked up this little number - the Rimmel Match Perfection Foundation in Ivory for £6.99.

So far, I've been quite impressed with this, I've been using it for just over two weeks now and it's providing me with just the right amount of coverage for this lovely spring time weather we have been having. When dispensed from the pump (is it weird that I actually love having a pump that comes with my foundation? After so many now don't come with one - why?!) it has a lovely consistency. It glides across your face, covering all the right areas without being too cakey. The only little niggle I have with it, is that it likes to bind itself to my eyebrows so cue some strategic removal with make up wipes!

It applies really well with the fingertips and with my RT brushes and blends really nicely to give good even coverage. As a glasses wearer I also find that this doesn't seem to gather around the little grippy bits on my nose!

I picked this up in the shade Ivory, which I think is the lightest shade in the range as I'm pretty pale and I think it's perfect for my skin tone.

Also, weirdly I have to mention the smell of the foundation, some people might be put off by it but I actually really like it, it's hard to describe it so I would recommend taking a whiff of it next time you're at the Rimmel stand!

I'm pretty gutted I didn't pick up another one of these when they were on the 3 for 2 offer but at £6.99 it doesn't exactly break the bank - presently I am one satisfied customer!

Have you tried this foundation? What do you think?

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Bournemouth Bloggers | #bloggersclothesswap

Last Saturday I was invited to a local blogging event hosted by the Bournemouth Bloggers. This event was a little different to any I have been to before as it was a #bloggersclothesswap. I don't claim to be a fashion blogger in any way shape or form! I wear the same clothes to work week in/week out and only have a few pieces I wear routinely at the weekend. Since I left my job at Topshop to work at the hospital, clothes have made their way down the priority list of things I need to buy. However, I was able to take along a few pieces for my fellow bloggers to try.

I tagged along with my blogging buddy Becca who I met up with in Bournemouth town before hand (so I could quickly pop into Tesco's and pick up a copy of Frozen on Blu Ray - am I the only Disney fan who hasn't seen it yet?). The event was hosted by Hannah and Rosie at The Orange Rooms. I hadn't actually been to The Orange Rooms in Bournemouth before as when I used to go clubbing (yes - I realise I sound old now) it was called something else (Empire, maybe?)

We had the upstairs bar area to ourselves which is decked out with an Alpine theme. I just love the sign that says about moose breeding season! Hannah and Rosie were already there cataloging the items they already had and we added our items to the pile. Each of us were given a tag with our name on it and given stars which corresponded to the value of the items we had taken to swap. For example, I took along a pair of Topshop shoes which originally cost £30 so I was given 3 stars on my card. I could then use these stars to purchase another item which had the value of three stars or three items which had the value of one star etc.

Once everyone's items had been checked in, we had a quick get to know you session where everyone introduced themselves and their blog and gave an interesting fact about themselves. Then it was time to browse the items! We could wander round, pick things up and try things on, then when you found something you liked, Hannah checked off the value of the stars on your card. I managed to get a top for work and a coral Topshop cardigan which I'm looking forward to wearing this spring/summer.

After we were all swapped out, some of us headed downstairs for some food and a good ol' chat. Becca and I spied some sweet potato fries (check out the massive one I got in my box!) and polished off a chocolate brownie and ice cream each after! It was nice to catch up with everyone again as I hadn't seen them for so long and I hope we can meet up again soon!

Have you ever been to a clothes swap event before?

Monday, 7 April 2014

Beautiful Jewellery from Lily Charmed

I was recently sent some gorgeous jewellery from the lovely people at Lily Charmed* who contacted me to see if I would be interested in reviewing some pieces from their silver polished collection which is officially launched today! Lily Charmed was launched in 2011 by Marcus Pearce and Lucy Lee, and named after Marcus' charming daughter, Lily. They specialise in creating personalised pieces which have more thought and sentiment than pieces you can buy off the shelf.

When you visit the website you are given the option to create your own necklace or bracelet or choose one which is ready made. I went with the create your own option as making it fully customisable is much more fun and unique. I chose a 45cm sterling silver necklace to start with and then added a singular silver key charm. Lily Charmed love that every gift is personalised for the recipient and this is very true in my case. For those of you who don't know, I got married two years ago and changed my surname to Keyes, on our wedding day my parents gave us a pair of silver decorative keys which now hang on the end of our bed and ever since then I have collected little trinkets with keys on including, cushions, mugs and even my diary - so when I saw the key charm I knew I had to choose it! I also chose the wishbone charm in silver. The thought behind this charm was it never hurts to wish and aspire for things and when I look at this it will remind me to keep pushing to achieve my dreams.

You can add multiple charms to the same necklace or keep them separate, you can also purchase the charms individually so if you have a friend or relative who is building their collection you can add to it at any time. I personally like one charm to a necklace as I don't like things too busy but the beauty of these is that you can add as little or as many as you like. Each charm is also available in two finishes, matte and polished. Mine are both in the polished finish, which I think gives them that little extra sparkle!

When my package arrived the next day, I was definitely impressed! When I pulled them out from the envelope I couldn't help but think aww they're so cute! I almost didn't want to open them. The box is a wonderful idea to store the necklace, (and the neat freak inside me thinks they stack really nicely!) inside there is a message card which frames the charm you choose and also shares the meaning behind your gift. I thought the message which was written on my card was very thoughtful and the personalisation was a very nice touch. You can change the colour of the insert card as there are several colours available although I think the teal is nice as it matches the colour of the Lily Charmed logo (another neat freak quirk!).

The price of the products varies with each different necklace, bracelet and charm combination but every design is affordable and would make a fantastic gift for a friend or loved one. I'm going to have to hint to hubby for a few more I've got my eye on!

You can find out more about Lily Charmed by following them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Have you heard of Lily Charmed before? What do you think to their pieces?

Sunday, 6 April 2014

This Week I...#14

Today's post is a little bit late as I had to hot foot it to PC World this morning as my anti-virus software had run out on my computer. Obviously I ignored the warnings saying it was expiring soon and thought I would deal with it on a later day...but hey ho, it's done now for another year!

It's been a busy week for me this week with another week of late shifts at work leaving me with early mornings to do various bits and pieces (read: be lazy at home). On Monday, I took advantage of a special Mother's Day offer at my local beauty salon (even though I'm not a Mum yet) and had a full body massage - it was just what I needed to relax me (little did I know that it was going to be a bit of a busy week ahead at work. I probably could have done with it on Friday instead!).

In other work news, I received my Institute of Biomedical Science Certificate of Achievement Part I certificate (what a mouthful!). I finished my portfolio in December and sent it off for approval and after my manager contacted them to find out what was taking so long, it was discovered that my certificate was lost in the post and I had actually passed in January but they sent me a replacement and I can now proceed to Part II so I can become a proper registered Science Technician!

This week I also crossed off another item on my 30 before 30 list when I went for my first ever brow wax. I've always been a little dubious that my brows would look awful but after chatting to the lady that did my massage on Monday I was talked into coming back and I'm really glad I did. I love the shape of my brows now and finally realised how awful they looked before!

This weekend has also been eventful as I attended the Bournemouth Bloggers #bloggersclothesswap. It was great to see old friends (and new faces) again as I haven't been able to attend an event since the Southampton Meet Up way back in August last year! I've got a post coming up on the event so I won't spoil it by talking about it now, but I had a fun afternoon clothes swapping and catching up.

As I've been so busy and not had internet for a few days I haven't really followed any blogs or liked any posts but I've got a list of local bloggers I need to check out/follow so look out for them on my This Week next week.

What have you been up to this week?

Friday, 4 April 2014

Lush: Sweet Lips Chocolate Lip Scrub

I didn't realise how important it was to essentially prime your lips before wearing lipstick. I mean you prime your face before applying foundation, so why not your lips as well?

My Lush Sweet Lips lip scrub has been pretty much a neglected product until now but I have slowly but surely been making sure that I add it into my daily routine. I like to take a little bit and rub it into my lips before I have my daily shower.

As you can see from the photo above, its a sugary looking product which you basically rub all over your lips to exfoliate them and remove dead skin cells. I like to use it before showering to make sure that I've got it all off but you could lick if off if you like! The flavour I have is chocolate but I don't think Lush actually stock this one anymore. They do have a bubblegum flavour though which I've heard is quite scrummy! At £5.50 a pot they're great value for money as they last forever and have a really long expiry.

Using it has definitely made a difference when wearing my MAC lipsticks which can sometimes be a little drying. I've also found that it's increased the wear time before having to reapply. My lips just generally have a better feel too, I'm quite excited about popping on my summery glosses soon!

Have you tried any of the Lush lip scrubs?