Boots beauty must haves - free gift with purchase

Is it just me or are beauty gift with purchases getting bigger and better every year? If you're jetting off on holiday soon or need to stock up on some summer essentials then the Boots beauty must haves box might be of interest:

 Boots beauty must haves - free gift with purchase


From today, Thursday 30th June until Sunday 3rd July, Boots beauty must haves box is free when you spend over £50 in store or online.

Inside you'll find: 
Mark Hill XL volume amplifying serum
Champneys citrus blush enlivening body lotion
Soltan once face moisturising suncare cream SPF 30
Soap and Glory arch de triumph
Botanics all bright purifying scrub
No 7 airbrush away primer
Plus a little booklet of vouchers
 
The box contains over £50 worth of make up and skincare and with the holiday season coming up the products will come in so handy for a mini break. I'm particularly looking forward to trying the Soap and Glory eyebrow pencil which has become somewhat of a cult favourite and is said to be a good dupe for Anastasia brow wiz.

And if you're looking for recommendations for what to buy? My top 3 picks would be Bumble and Bumble Sunday shampoo, Piz Buin refreshing sun mousse and Maxfactor false lash effect mascara!

Will you be taking advantage of this offer? What are your summer beauty essentials?

OPI Having a Big Head Day

As much as I like to experiment with colour, sometimes you can't beat a classic. For a recent manicure I was immediately drawn to OPI Having a Big Head Day and it's reminded me just how much I love a glossy red nail:

OPI Having a Big Head Day, Monica Vinader small stacking ring

Part of the new limited edition Alice Through the Looking Glass collection, OPI Having a Big Head Day is a classic true red with a gorgeous creme formula. Two coats is enough for a glossy even finish and it's one of those shades that looks super sophisticated and goes with everything. With an OPI top coat the nail polish was seriously long lasting and when I had to remove it for an interview 8 days later there was only very minimal tip wear.

On a little side note how gorgeous is the Monica Vinader small stacking ring? It comes in a few stone and metal combinations but I couldn't resist the classic rose quartz with a rose gold band. It's simple but pretty and I always seem to get compliments whenever I wear it. Definitely one of my favourite jewellery pieces this summer and I've already got my eye on some their rose gold bracelets and earrings for my next purchase. 


Have you tried any of the OPI Alice Through the Looking Glass collection? What are your favourite jewellery pieces?

Three new cleansers to try

Over the years I've learnt to really invest in skincare. A good moisturiser is essential but make up removal is just as important and recently I've been loving these three cleansers:

Clinique, Antipodes, Garnier, Clinique take the day off towlettes, Garnier micellar cleansing water, Antipodes grapeseed butter cleanser, Review,
Three new cleansers to try - Clinique, Garnier and Antipodes

Antipodes grapeseed butter cleanser, Antipodes, Review

As soon as I get home I like to take my eye make up off and Garnier micellar cleansing water is the closest dupe I've found to the cult classic Bioderma (currently £3.33 here). A clear unperfumed liquid, I simply apply onto a cotton pad and it works like a magnet to attract any dirt or make up. I find it super gentle yet effective and within a minute all my mascara and eyeshadow is cleansed off. There's no need for any rubbing and it leaves my skin feeling comfortable and hydrated.

On days when I'm wearing particularly heavy make up or before exercise I like to use Clinique take the day off micellar cleansing towlettes (£16 here). Each cloth is soaked in the gentle cleansing liquid and it does a good job of removing any foundation or eye make up prior to my evening routine. Compared to a lot of the other cleansing wipes I find this to be kinder on the skin and resealable packaging makes it nice and convenient to throw into my gym bag. 

Finally I always like to end the day with a thorough balm cleanse. Antipodes grapefruit butter cleanser has small seeds to gently exfoliate and melts into the most beautifully scented oil (currently £22.49 here). I like to really work the balm into the skin and you can almost feel the make up melting off. Unlike a lot of balm cleansers it doesn't emulsify so takes longer to wash off with a flannel but the upside is that my skin is more thoroughly cleansed and it always feels soft and nourished afterwards. 

Have you tried any of these three cleansers? What are your summer skincare essentials?

Indian Accent, New Delhi - Restaurant review

After an incredible 10 days in India it seemed only right to end the trip with an equally amazing meal at the award winning Indian Accent in New Delhi:

Indian accent, New Delhi
 Gongura masala prawns, butter popcorn upma, crispy curry leaves


To start with we were treated to a few amuse bouche and although rather simple to look at both dishes were absolutely bursting with flavour. The cheese puffs were a real delight with melted salty blue cheese encased in the most delicious doughy naan. The soups were equally as moreish and I could have happily eaten an entire bowl for starters.

Ghee roast mutton boti, roomali roti pancake, chutneys 

Chicken tikka quesadilla, swiss gruyere and pink peppercorn raita

There was so much choice on the menu and after much deliberation we went for the chicken tikka quesadilla and ghee roast mutton boti for starters. The quesadilla was a fun modern take on Indian cuisine but the real star of the show was the mutton pancakes. Inspired by one of my favourites, the Chinese duck pancake, the mutton was so tender and melt in your mouth and we all loved assembling our own with it's selection of toppings and sauces.


After the starters came another surprise, a light and delicately flavoured fruit ice lolly served in a mini sauce pan. This was the perfect palate cleanser and allowed for a quick catch up before the arrival of the mains.

Stuffed tandoori paneer, sarson saag barley


My only complaint was that service could be a little slow and cocktails didn't arrive until after our mains. It was worth the wait though as they had some delicious concoctions and we went for a mixture of traditional favourites and more exotic Indian flavours. All very refreshing and a lovely way to toast the evening.

Chettinad chicken keema, curry leaf lemon seviyan, sago puffs

With two branches in New Delhi and New York, Indian Accent aims to take you on an unique culinary journey with ingredients from all over the world. Where possible seasonal and organic ingredients are used and everything is modern but with enough traditional flavours and techniques to remind us of old favourites. Everything is designed to be shared and we all really enjoyed our selection of mains, with the rich chicken keema being a real favourite around the table.


A special shout out to the bread which had a real bite to it and was so chewy and delicious. Perfect for tearing up and scooping up all the flavoursome sauce. Authentic Indian naan breads are much thinner than the ones we typically get here in the UK supermarkets and are baked in a tandoori oven for the best flavour. I've since found a good restaurant in London that does something similar and needless to say I'm now obsessed!

Walnut chocolate brownie, salted chikki, boondi cheesecake

Dessert was chocolate brownie and it tasted as good as it looked. A thin layer of creamy cheesecake sandwiched between 2 moist layers of sponge, garnished with caramel sauce and sticky little bites of honeycomb. A rich and decadent end to the meal.


And our final surprise of the night. After dessert we were presented with this colourful tray of petit fours, featuring a four Indian sweets. I wasn't such a fan of the tamarind sweets or the black aniseed balls but the fruity jelly and mini rose and nut crunch bars were super moreish and it wasn't long before they were both polished off.

Overall a really lovely evening and the perfect way to end our holiday. India thank you for being such an incredible country and I really hope to visit again in the future!
Have you ever been to India? What are your favourite Indian restaurants in the UK?

Clarins instant light lip comfort oil review

Since discovering the benefit of oils they've taken over my skincare routine, from cleansers to moisturisers and now my latest obsession, the Clarins instant light lip comfort oil in Raspberry:
 
Clarins instant light lip comfort oil in Raspberry, Review, Swatches

In cold weather especially I tend to suffer from dry lips and the Clarins instant light lip comfort oil has been such a lifesaver. It comes in 3 shades - honey, raspberry and a limited edition red berry for summer. They are all very sheer but I preferred the fruitier scent and slight pink tint of the raspberry oil. The formula feels instantly soothing and is a clever blend of mirabelle plum, jojoba and hazelnut oil to help plump, nourish and add a subtle shine to the lips. 

I've always favoured lip glosses and Clarins instant light lip comfort oil combines the ease of a gloss with the extra skincare benefits of an oil. It comes with a sponge doe foot applicator which deposits just the right amount of product and I don't find it to be too sticky. If anything it's similar to a balm and just feels very comfortable and moisturising on the lips. I tend to use Clarins instant light lip comfort oil alone but it can also be layered over a lipliner or lipstick for extra shine and nourishment.

Overall I think the Clarins instant light lip comfort oil is a great make up/skincare hybrid. Considering how much I love skincare oils it makes sense to use one on the lips too and the gloss style packaging makes so convenient to carry in my handbag and touch up during the day.


Have you tried Clarins instant light lip comfort oil? What are your favourite lip products for summer?

Visiting the Taj Mahal and my top tips

When we were planning our visit to India the first place on my list was Taj Mahal. One of the most famous buildings in the world, the Taj Mahal was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife and it's even more impressive and beautiful in person than in photos:

 Visiting the Taj Mahal


We arrived around midday and if you're anything like me and love wandering around and taking photos then I would definitely recommend getting lunch first. There's nowhere to buy food inside and it was easily 6pm by the time we left. 


Entry is 530 rupees foreigners and 40 for locals. With the ticket you also get a bottle of water and a pair of shoe covers for the tomb. There are separate security lines for men and women so if you're going as a couple or group I would recommend standing somewhere obvious after or arrange a meeting point beforehand. 

The monument is surrounded by 4 gates and is completely hidden from the outside. We went through the Great gate and as you enter you're treated to the most beautiful view of the Taj Mahal standing proud in the sunshine perfectly framed by the arches of the mosque.

The Taj Mahal is cleaned every few years with clay to keep the marble white and at the time of our visit 3 of the towers were undergoing works, hence all the scaffolding. There are also acres of gardens to walk around and the the lawns directly in front are so beautifully manicured and felt surprisingly peaceful despite all the crowds.


We had a tour guide as part of our package and it was fascinating to learn all about the history and architecture as we walked around. The Taj Mahal is often said to be the ultimate symbol for love as the emperor built it as an monument to his wife who died during childbirth and the entire building took 22 years to complete.

Both the emperor and his wife are buried in the Taj Mahal and as part of the visit you can go inside and see a mock up of the tombs (the actual tombs are underground). Be aware though that it's a complete contrast to the beauty of the build outside. It's very dark and crowded and I found it quite claustrophobic with guards constantly blowing their whistles and pigeons flying around - my least favourite part of the day.


The entire Taj Mahal is made of marble with different semi precious stones filled down and over layed to make a beautiful pattern. The marble is actually stained with henna then delicately handcarved before the stones are placed in and cleaned. The art of this has been passed down directly through the generations and there are only a few handful of craftsmen in Agra. As part of our tour we were taken to a local workshop and it was fascinating to see how this was done but beware they are very pushy about you buying a souvenir. 


For our visit to the Taj Mahal we made a day trip from Delhi where there are plenty of trains available throughout the day. Because of timings in the end we opted for a private car which costs about £70 and I would definitely recommend as they pick you up and drop you off at the hotel so it's a lot more convenient and comfortable. It's around 4 hours each way though so be prepared to spend a lot of time in the car.

Overall I'm so glad we made the trip to Agra to visit Taj Mahal. As beautiful as the photos are it really doesn't do the monument justice and there's nothing like standing there taking in all, seeing the marble sparkle in the sunshine and soaking up the atmosphere. Without a doubt the highlight of my entire trip!

Have you ever been to India? What trips are you looking forward to this year?

Revlon SS16 new launches

Spring/summer is always one of my favourite times of the year. The sun starts to shine, holidays are just around the corner and make up brands launch all their exciting new season colours. For SS16 Revlon have brought out a range of make up brushes and a new compact, as well as extending the colours of some of their most popular lip products:

Revlon, Revlon SS16, Revlon colorstay, Revlon brushes, Revlon balm stain

Revlon, Revlon SS16, Revlon balm stain

Starting with the new line of make up brushes - there are 7 in total and they range from dense face brushes to a spoolie and comb for defined brows. They have a rather interesting geometric plastic handle which is designed to stop the brush rolling around and being so lightweight they're a great option for travel. My top 3 picks would be the fluffy powder brush, soft blush brush and the smokey eye brush which also comes in rather handy for eyebrows. 

ColorStay fans will be glad to hear that the liquid foundation now comes with a pump and there's also a new 2 in 1 compact make up and concealer, which being a cream formula is ideal for travel or for touching up during the day. I've yet to try the compact as the shade to too dark for me but the liquid foundation is a great option for everyday wear. I'd say it's medium to thick coverage, dries to a semi-matte finish and lasts well throughout the day with only a few powder touch ups needed to stop the shine in my t-zone. 

Finally the 3 products that I'm most excited about. Revlon were one of the first high street brands to bring out lip pencils and I loved the balm stains for their ease of use and subtle colour. For SS16 there are 2 new shades, Lovable a really gorgeous peachy pink and Irresistible a more natural nude. There are also a few new lipliners and I think the Blush shade will be especially popular for the current on trend Kylie Jenner look. You can also see some of their other lip colours on my Instagram page.


Have you tried any of the new Revlon SS16 launches? Did any of the products catch your eye?

Life lately - May round up

Another month over and I can't believe we're nearly halfway through the year already! May passed in a blur of blogging, events and interview prep and ended with the most incredible four day trip to Berlin. I'll be blogging more about the trip soon but for now a look back over the rest of the month:

Berlin - May 2016

The weather finally got warmer in May and we were able to enjoy some lovely drinks and cocktails outside. Aspall kindly sent over some of their new Waddlegoose cyder and I invited a few friends over to try them out. The boys very much favoured the classic slightly tart apple cyder but I preferred the three berry version. With a blend of blueberry, blackcurrant and raspberry it's fruity, light and very refreshing, perfect for a lazy summer afternoon or for an evening BBQ.

 A new blog design

I've been wanting to make over Peonies and lilies for a while now and after months of indecision finally settled on a new design from Pipdig. It's completlely different to what I had before but I'm loving the sleeker magazine like design and it's really helped to motivate me again. I'd love to know what you think of the new look too!


Once a week I usually meet the boyfriend for lunch in Central London and Pho just off Oxford Circus is my new favourite. There's a huge variety of noodles and salads to choose from, everything is freshly prepared and full of flavour. It's hard to find something relatively healthy around central but both our dishes were packed full of vegetables and I loved the light delicate sauce that came with my Bun noodles and pork spring rolls. Service is quick and prices are very reasonable so I would definitely if you're looking for somewhere new to try.

The perfume bar

Towards the end of the month a rather exciting email landed in my inbox. The Perfume Shop had set up a Perfume Bar at Mahiki and I was invited down to discover their fragrances over a cocktail and some sweet treats. I went for a Thierry Mugler Angel inspired colada which was seriously yummy and the chocolate covered coffee beans are surprising moreish. Perfume wise I've always been a fan of DKNY so it was no surprise that my favourite is the new Be Delicious Electric Citrus Pulse, a fruitier take on the original with notes of blackcurrant, passionfruit and jasmine.

10k Hyde Park run

After a few blips earlier this year I feel like I've finally got back into running again and recently have managed to do 10k around Hyde Park every weekend. It's not always easy to motivate myself but I feel so much better afterwards and I've managed to achieve a few personal bests too. Next on my target is to keep the speed up and maybe do an organised race too.

How was your May? Did you get up to anything exciting?
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