Afternoon tea and a day trip to Windsor

One of the great things about living in London is that beautiful places like Windsor are only 30 minutes away. So on Saturday I made my way to Paddington, hopped on a train and met up with 2 fellow bloggers (the lovely Aysha and Safira) for afternoon tea, shopping and of course plenty of touristy photos:

Windsor castle

Windsor - I love this painted phone box
 Afternoon tea at The Harte and Garter

 Cream then jam or jam then cream?
(I'm firmly in the cream then jam camp)

 Afternoon tea - our selection of delicious cakes and brownies

For lunch we opted for afternoon tea at The Harte and Garter hotel - seeing as Windsor is a town so steeped in history and tradition it seemed only right to go for something so quintessentially English. Although I don't get the chance to go very often, afternoon tea is one of my favourite treats, think warm comforting cups of milky tea, crustless finger sandwiches, raisin scones with clotted cream and jam, and to finish off a plate of deliciously sweet cakes and brownies.

For some reason they kept overfilling our tea pots which made for a rather messy table, but otherwise it was a really enjoyable meal. The sandwiches are always my favourite part of afternoon tea, and on this occasion they certainly didn't disappoint. We had a selection of smoked salmon with cream cheese, thick cut ham and mustard, egg mayonnaise and of course the classic English cucumber. They were kind enough to give us a couple of extra smoked salmon sandwiches too, which went down a real treat.

 Windsor shopping centre

Windsor & Eton train station

Sadly most of the shops had shut by the time we finished catching up, but with historic buildings and St George's flags up everywhere it was still such a pretty place to walk around. All too soon though, it was time to catch the train back home but all in all it was a really lovely day out. If you're ever looking for a day trip somewhere close to London then I'd definitely recommend Windsor and although we didn't go on this occasion the castle would be really nice in the summer too.

Have you ever been to Windsor? What's your favourite place for afternoon tea?

Love me beauty - April 2014

Whilst I love my surprise beauty boxes it's nice to be able to choose sometimes, a concept which Love me beauty have perfected since their launch last year. This April I've gone for menu 3, which contains 4 products as well as a gift voucher for a food based subscription service:

Love me beauty, Love me beauty April 2014

Love me beauty, Redken, Neal & wolf, Models own, Betty Hula, Hello fresh

Impressively there are 3 full sized products this month - Neal & Wolf daily cleansing shampoo, Models Own nail polish in fuzzy peach and Betty Hula secret wonder oil roller ball. Even the sample size of Redken colour extend conditioner is pretty generous and would last a good few washes (there's nothing worse than a mini sample that you can't try out properly).

The fifth item is a £25 off gift voucher for Hello fresh, a food company which delivers recipes and the ingredients you need straight to your front door. I've been making a real effort to cook more so not surprisingly this is my favourite item this month. Looking at their website they've got some great recipes (eg steak with spinach and cous cous, chilli cashew prawns and sea bream with potatoes and tomato concasse) and I can't wait to put my gift voucher to good use with a trial of their classic box.

Are you a Love me beauty subscriber? Which box did you go for this April?

The Spring edit - haircare, bath and body

With the sun starting to shine through and temperatures hitting the high teens I thought now would be a good time for part two of my Spring edit, this time focusing on haircare, bath and body:

L'oreal fibrology, Philip Kingsley one more day dry shampoo
 The spring edit - haircare

YesTo, Yardley Jade, Escada taj sunset
The spring edit - bath and body

As you know I like to switch up my shampoo and conditioner and this month it's all about the new L'oreal fibrology range (here). With long fine hair it's always been a struggle to achieve extra volume with just shampoo and conditioner alone but after a few uses the new fibrology range has done just that. The key ingredient is Filloxane, which basically penetrates into the hair fibre and expands it, giving you thicker more voluminous hair. It's a cumulative effect so the results won't be immediately obvious but over time it definitely builds up and the good news is the extra thickness lasts even of you don't use the products for a wash or two. 

In between washes I like to use a dry shampoo and at the moment I'm really liking Philip Kingsley one more day (here). Compared to the likes of Batiste and Tresemme it disperses a finer mist, goes on more transparent and doesn't leave behind that horrible chalky feeling. A must have if you have combination hair like myself. 

Moving onto bodycare - I was recently introduced to the YesTo range (here) and since then 2 of their products have made it into my everyday routine. The grapefruit rejuvenating body wash smells so fresh and citrussy that it's now my go to product in the morning. With such fruity notes you can't help but feel more refreshed and happier after using it. The carrot body butter on the other hand is packed with moisturising ingredients but is still light and quick absorbing on the skin, perfect for warmer days when you want something hydrating but without the stickiness.

Finally a new perfume and an old favourite to alternate between. With notes of peach, bergamot, jasmine and ylang ylang Yardley Jade (here) is fresh, clean and unobtrusive, perfect for the office or more formal occasions. Escada Taj sunset (here) on the other hand is fun, flirty and packed full of tropical fruits (mango, nectarine, orange and coconut). My go to choice for parties and days out with friends. 
Have you tried any of the products above? What are your spring essentials?

Glossybox April 2014 - sweet treats

Time for another Glossybox review and this April it's all about sweet treats for Spring/Summer:

As always, the products come beautifully presented and I must say I much prefer the new glossy pink design. There's the mini magazine too, which this month includes features on finding the perfect boyfriend jeans, mini mascara reviews and a hair tutorial as well as the usual expert Q&A and interviews.

Of the 5 I'm most excited about Monu warming ginger massage and body oil. I love massage oils and with extracts of ginger, lemongrass and orange this smells incredible. I'm looking forward to trying MeMeMe beat the blues pearl pink highlighter too. I've heard it's a good dupe for Benefit high beam and with summer coming up I could certainly do with a good cream highlighter in my collection.

The other products are Tresemme cleansing dry shampoo (which will come in really useful), Emite make up lip brush and Sunsense UK daily SPF50 which is probably my least favourite product this month. I'm super fussy about facial sunscreens and looking at other blog posts I would have preferred the He-Shi tanning gel instead.

Overall I think there's a good mix of products and although it's not the most exciting of boxes, it is a well thought out and useful one none the less. Glossybox turns 3 next month and as they've been consistently good recently I'm looking forward to seeing what surprises they've got in store for us.

For more information and to sign up for your own Glossybox, click here.

Are you a beauty box subscriber? What did you get in your box this month?

Bourjois rouge edition velvet lipsticks

Going into Spring/Summer, it seems the trend for matte lips is as big as ever. However as someone who loves the longevity but struggles with the formula, imagine my excitement when I found out that Bourjois were bringing out rouge edition velvets - basically a long lasting matte lipstick but in a more moisturising liquid formula:

Bourjois rouge edition velvet lipsticks

Bourjois rouge edition velvet lipstick swatches
Bourjois rouge edition velvet lipstick swatches 

Unlike traditional lipsticks, Bourjois rouge edition velvets have more of a cream formula and goes on like a lipgloss but dries to form a long lasting matte stain on the lips. I wouldn't say it's quite 24 hours, but they certainly lasted well through a morning of eating and drinking. Usually with matte formulas my lips are crying out for some balm, but these felt almost undetectable on the lips and I didn't find myself needing to top up any more than usual.

All together there are 8 Bourjois rouge edition velvet lipsticks, ranging from classic reds to bright pinks and peachy nudes. Shown above are 04 Peach club, 02 Frambourjoise and 08 Grand Cu. I found the doe foot applicator easy and precise to use and all 3 shades were super pigmented. Bourjois have always had knack for picking on trend yet flattering lip colours and they certainly haven't disappointed with this latest launch. Next on my list to try is 07 Nude-ist, which I'm really hoping will be a my lips but better shade that I can use for work and more casual occasions.

Bourjois rouge edition velvet lipsticks, RRP £8.99, available now from Boots.

Have you tried the new Bourjois rouge edition velvet lipsticks? What's your favourite lip colour this season?

March favourites - beauty and lifestyle

A rather belated set of beauty and lifestyle favourites this month. Although March was a good month for many things, long hours at work and endless commutes meant that sadly I couldn't blog as much as I would have liked to. Thankfully I've got a bit more time off this April and after a weekend playing catch up I can't wait to start posting more regularly again. Here's what I've been enjoying this last month:

Noble Isle, Balance me, Real techniques, Benefit benetint, L'oreal, Pantene aqua light
March beauty favourites

Twinings cranberry and blood orange tea, Twinings strawberry and raspberry tea, Twinings fruit teas,
March favourites - Twining fruit teas

In a bid to keep my hands soft and moisturised I've discovered 2 new favourites - Noble Isle rhubarb rhubarb hand wash and Balance me rose otto hand cream. Inspired by the Yorkshire triangle and with notes of rhubarb, juniper berries and rosemary the handwash is subtly sweet, but at the same time herbal and green. A posh grown up scent which adds a touch of luxury to an otherwise everyday routine. The hand cream on the other hand is quick absorbing and non greasy but still contains almond oil, shea butter, beeswax and lanolin to keep my hands soft and nourished.

Make up wise I'm still loving everything in my Spring edit, but a new product is the Real techniques retractable kabuki brush. The brush is densely packed and super soft with a smart design which means the bristles are always protected when you put the lid on. My only criticism is that the lid doesn't click into place and it would come off quite easily should I just throw it into my handbag. Instead I've been keeping mine in my make up bag where it's come in really useful for liquid foundations and powders.

In addition to my Spring edit, for the lips I've also been loving Benefit benetint (mine's a little Glamour sample). It's a gorgeous cherry red shade (swatch here), which layers up beautifully and leaves behind a long lasting stain. Because it's such a light liquid it's not drying at all and only needs a slick of lip balm every few hours or so to revive and add some gloss.

Haircare wise I've been loving L'oreal extraordinary oil and Pantene aqua light nouishing mist. Because the ends of my hair are dry and damaged I've been using the oil to nourish and add shine and the mist to lightly condition and detangle in between washes.

Finally I've been obsessed with Twinnings fruit teas this month. There's just something so comforting about sitting down with a hot drink and my 2 favourite flavours are Cranberry & blood orange and Strawberry & raspberry. It's a nice change from the traditional breakfast teas and because they're caffeine free it can be enjoyed any time of day. The blood orange one in particular is really refreshing and coming into the summer months it'll make a lovely iced tea too.

Have you tried any of the products above? What were your March favourites?

Ciate dolls house giveaway

Now that it's officially British summer time anyone else looking forward to ditching the winter blacks and embracing the brighter pastels of Spring/Summer? I always found nail varnish one of the easiest ways to brighten up an outfit which is why today I've teamed up with Cohorted to giveaway the much raved about Ciate dolls house collection to one lucky winner:

Ciate dolls house collection
Ciate dolls house collection giveaway

For those of you that haven't yet heard of them, Cohorted is a collective beauty shopping website (much like Groupon) where you team up with other shoppers on a certain item, thus buying in bulk and driving the price down for everyone - the more people that get on board, the cheaper the product will be. Current sales include the Urban Decay naked 3 palette, Diorshow mascara and Clinique clarifying lotion, with maximum discounts ranging between 50-61% of the RRP. You can request products for future Cohorted sales too.

So onto the giveaway, one lucky reader will win this Ciate dolls house collection - 5 mini semi-matte pastel shades housed in the most adorable doll house gift box. For your chance to win simply enter using the Rafflecopter app below. UK entries only please and this giveaway will end on April 13th.

Good luck and happy Spring!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

March empties

Can you believe we're now a quarter of the way through 2014 already?! It's crazy how fast time goes by these days! Since my last empties post I've been trying to have a bit of clear out and with the help of some mini samples managed to get through 10 products this month:
Organic surge, SPC, Tommy Guns, Noble Isle, Balance me, Elemis
 Ted Baker body wash
So...? dry shampoo
Organic surge hand and nail cream
Elemis cleansing balm
Bath and body works shampoo
Beauty cycle pressed powder
SPC bath and massage oil set
Balance me eye cream
Tommy Guns shampoo
Noble Isle scented candle

As always there's a good handful of daily essentials. I'm a big fan of citrus scents and even though the Tommy Guns shampoo wasn't designed for my hair type it actually worked really well. I'm still going through haircare like crazy at the moment so will definitely be giving some of their other shampoos and conditioners a try.

Another new favourite was the Balance me eye cream. With hyluronic acid, cucumber and aloe vera extracts it felt very hydrating and soothing on the skin. The light texture works well under eye make up too. Thankfully I've still got another sample tube or two to get through before I need to invest in the full sized version.

Other favourites included the Organic Surge hand cream, Elemis cleansing balm and SPC bath and massage oil set. I'm going to be putting the Noble Isle candle tumbler to good use as storage for my cotton pads too. Of the 10, I probably won't bother repurchasing Ted Baker body wash, So dry shampoo or Beauty cycle pressed powder. Not because I didn't like them, but simply because I have plenty more to get through or have other similar products that I prefer instead.

During March, I've also come to the realisation that I'll most likely be moving out later this year, so need to clear out as much as possible. I've got a lot of beauty box samples to use up too so hopefully there'll be plenty more empties posts to come. Fingers crossed I'll be able to get through a decent number so don't have to take them all with me! 

How did you get on this month? Any tips for clearing out/decluttering?
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