Monday, 22 September 2014

Combining Two Of My Favourite Things Nails And Reading - A Review Of How I Nailed It By Leighton Denny*

When I'm not blogging, cooking or pampering myself, more often than not you'll find me curled up with a book or my Kindle. I've loved reading ever since since I can remember and devouring a new book has to be one of my greatest pleasures. To be honest I'll pretty much read whatever is in front of me from chick lit, to Shakespeare and the classics but my real love has to be non-fiction. I love reading about different people, different times and real life events. Thanks to the eternal student in me I'm a bit obsessed with true crime books, and history books, and maybe I'm just nosey but I'm also a huge lover of autobiographies.

Recently I was given the opportunity to combine two of my greatest loves reading and nail polish, and review the Kindle version of nail technician to the stars, Leighton Denny's autobiography, How I Nailed It.

As you probably know I'm a bit of a QVC fan and that's how I first became aware of Leighton Denny, and his products. I have to say I'm a fan as I'm sure some of these photographs show. 

His products aren't the cheapest by any means but by and large they do exactly what they promise. As a brand you don't always get the new cult texture or finish when it comes to nail polish but what you do get is a range of classic and fashion colours,and products that have that real professional touch. 

I'd be hard pressed to pick a favourite colour from my collection - maybe Inkjet that you can see here but I love so many of my Leighton Denny shades it's hard to choose. My favourite product from the range isn't a polish at all though, it's Leighton's cult crystal nail file. You can read my full review here but believe me there is a reason why one of these is sold every 15 seconds around the world!

So yeah, I'm a fan, I'm ashamed to say though despite knowing a little of his background, and life in Bradford through QVC, I thought this book like so many autobiographies might be a little bit frothy and self indulgent but I was very, very wrong. After reading this book there is no way you could describe it as self indulgent, it's a thoroughly honest memoir illustrating a fascinating life so far with lots of ups and downs and twists and turns. 

I'm not going to go into too much detail as I would definitely recommend you read it yourself but this book proves, that if you work hard enough you will achieve what you want. Throughout his life he's overcame an awful lot of obstacles that would have made a lesser person give in, including dyslexia, family problems, violence and issues with acceptance but he's came out of the other side a stronger person.

Above all this book highlights his tremendous work ethic, something which he obviously inherited from his dad. Showing his first indication of his entrepreneurial spirit at the age of just 14 with his own fancy dress hire business, Leighton has never been frightened of hard work or taking risks, from working in his own salon, to working for other people and being a mobile technician, he's always worked hard to get what he wants. 

Not resting on his laurels as well as the nail line, he's now also branched out into lip colours, self tans and now fragrance. He's definitely not afraid of taking on new challenges, and despite the fear of spreading himself too thinly and becoming a jack of all trades and a master of none, he's determined to be as successful as he can in any venture that he takes on.

Yes the book does have a bit of froth, where he talks about some of the celebrities that he works with such as Joan Collins, Jade Jagger, Dita Von Teese and Geri Halliwell but you never feel as though he's bragging. If anything he still seems slightly overawed by the opportunities that have came his way, and often by the people that he now considers his friends.

I have to say I'm even more of a Leighton Denny fan after reading this book. His journey so far has been a hard and fascinating one that just proves his own strength and determination to be somebody. To quote his dad "you fake it until you make it", meaning you should always chase your dreams to be who you want to be -  good advice for all of us I think. Recently he was awarded an MBE for services to the beauty industry, proving that hard work really does pay off, and that it really does pay you to shoot for the moon.

Leighton Denny - How I Nailed, previously a number one best selling autobiography, is available from Amazon in both Kindle and paperback versions. The current Kindle price is £6.07 and the paperback price is £9.70.


Thursday, 18 September 2014

A Late But Epic August Haul Featuring Primark, Yankee, Make Up Revolution, Maybelline And More - Picture And Word Heavy

I want to start off this post by saying a huge thank you to everyone that's entered my giveaway, and I want to say a huge hi there, and thank you to everyone that's followed and commented as a result. Although I haven't had much of a chance to reply to your comments I've really enjoyed reading them and it's been very interesting finding out what kind of posts you like reading. One of the most popular types of posts by far is. unsurprisingly the haul post! I have to say I love writing them too, mainly because they give me an excuse to go shopping lol. They do take a bit of time and effort to write though especially when you buy as much stuff as I do :) so yet again I find myself apologising for a late monthly haul post, but better late then never, here is my August haul :)

I didn't buy too many clothes in August partly because I'm trying desperately to cling onto the last breaths of summer, but I did pay a couple of visits to Primark but I just stuck to jewellery and accessories, starting with some socks.

Despite being in my 30's I'm still a sock girl at heart and I couldn't resist these cute Minion ones. I introduced my mum to Despicable Me last month and she loves it as much as I do. It never fails to make me smile and I am hoping these socks will have the same effect.

As well as my Minions, I also picked up some ankle socks with some frill detailing. I bought them to wear with my Clarks brogues but I'm not sure that the cute girly approach works for me. Never mind they were only £1.50. As well as the socks I also got a bargain double duvet (not pictured it's just a duvet!) and this necklace which I've wanted for ages.

This was £6, which I don't think it particularly cheap for Primark but imagine what you would pay in Accessorize or Top Shop! I love the iridescent pastel colours of the stones.

Despite buying quite a bit of stuff throughout August the bargain hunter in me definitely lives on, and throughout the month I spent quite a bit of time both in Poundland and Poundworld. As well as numerous fruit snacks I made just one other Poundland purchase, and it was another jewellery item from their Purple Ivy range.

If your a new reader, you should now that I'm a little bit obsessed with bows, I'm not sure where it comes from but I love them be it on clothing, accessories or on jewellery. This gold tone necklace features lots of tiny little golden bows. Love it and it was a real bargain for £1

I've said it before I definitely don't have the same affection for Poundworld as I do for Poundland but last month I managed to pick up a few things. I'm a bit of an instagram and twitter aholic and whilst checking out my feeds I started to see lots of pictures of the Revlon Parfumerie Scented Nail Polishes. Now I'd wanted to try these for quite a while but the £6.99 price tag put me off a bit, but after a little bit of investigation work I found out that they were being stocked in branches of Poundworld.

They had lots and lots of colour to choose from but I had to limit myself a bit I just bought 3 for me and one for a pressie. The shades I went for were Spun Sugar, African Tea Rose and Moonlit Woods. I haven't had a chance to try them out yet, but I'll be sure to show you when I do.

You've already seen my other Poundworld purchase in my giveaway post but I'm mentioning it again because I think it such a fabulous idea. I bought one of these on ebay quite a while ago now and I think there great. I paid about £4 or so then which I thought was a bargain as I'd seen them for as much as £16 + before but for a £1 I think they're fab. I'm going to alter mine up and maybe use one for hair things and maybe one for bracelets and chunky necklace I haven't decided properly yet but I will show you when they're sorted.

To be honest I need more jewellery storage I have so, so much of it, I'm a bit obsessed actually and after a few months break I've quite a few jewellery purchases from ebay both for me and for Mummy Lou. The first item is something else that you've already seen a fab bright statement necklace.

Annoyingly I only paid 99p for it including postage from this seller, but when I decided to buy another one, it had gone up to £1.89 and now it's gone up to £2.25. Very annoying but the quality is nice and I would easily have paid more for it.

I also bought a couple of turquoise and silver items - they always claim to be real but from the price I'm never convinced - first up I got this lovely elasticated bracelet. I love my bracelets but I'm such an old lady lately I'm finding them impossible to fasten, so I love the fact that I can just slip this on and off. It was just 99p with postage from this seller x

I also bought this necklace which works really nicely with it x Again it was just 99p from this seller x

I'm all about a bargain at the minute and last month I had a little day out with my bestie. Due to her job and my health we don't see as much of each other as we would like but it's always a sign of good friendship that you can pick up where you left off. The main purpose of the day out was to see her new house but we also went for coffee at Chester Grove Garden Centre, To be honest I've seen better garden centres but the cafe is nice and I had some lovely gluten free crumble cake. We had a little look round afterwards and I found a whole load of reduced Yankee Candle Melts / Tarts. These normally retail at around £1.49 but they were on sale at just £1 each. I got four, two Bahama Breeze, one White Gardenia and one Vanilla Lime. I love the melts you get a real hit of fragrance even after just a few minutes.

It wouldn't be a Lou Lou haul without a bit of Superdrug shopping and my goodness I did quite a bit of that last month- first I got the Make Up Revolution Ultra Eyeshadow Palette in Flawless. You can see a full, first impressions review of the palette here and of course you can win one in my giveaway here x

August saw the launch of a Make Up Revolution stand in my local Superdrug and of course it would have been wrong not to pick up a few bits. First of all something I'd wanted to try for a long time - their nail polishes - I went for two shades, Adore a lovely creamy, lilac and Cupid In Disguise, fabulous iridescent, oil on water taupey shade. Due to some nail snappage and a fight with a drawer I haven't tried these yet, but I'll definitely stick a nails of the day post up when I do.

Next up another single eyeshadow - I'm a bit obsessed with these and I'm planning a blog post so you can see my collection swatched side by side , I have a lot of the nudes and browns and both shimmers and mattes and as you would expect they're pretty fabulous. The latest addition to my collection is Good Life, a shimmery, taupe, brown.

Now I only have a couple of Make Up Revolution lip products in my collection and to be honest this is the one area that I'm a bit mehh about when it comes to the brand. Again I'll review everything in due course but one product I love, and one I well don't. Never the less having an opportunity to play with some products in the flesh I fell in love with one of their matte lipsticks, Beloved

Again swatches to come, but this looks to be a lovely, bright pink with just a hint of warmth. It looks quite scary in the bullet, almost like a bright coral here but irl it's a lot more wearable.

My final Make Up Revolution product for August was something basic, and not that interesting but I have oily / combination skin and despite the fact that they aren't as popular as they once were I need a pressed powder in my make up bag at all times The Make Up Revolutions Pressed Powder retails at a pretty bargainous £2. There are four shades to choose from and I went for one of the lightest Porcelain.

I've got enough Make Up Revolution products to do a full base product post now, so keeping checking back to see a full review of this and some of their other face products.

I admit it I am a bit obsessed with Make Up Revolution at the moment, but the opportunity to have a little look around Superdrug I did buy some bits from other brands including Rimmel.

I know, I know another lip tint, balm thing! but what can I say I obsessed with these as well at. I also went through a phase of being a bit obsessed with whole Keep Calm thing so these Keep Calm balms definitely appealed. There are 5 to choose from and I went for Keep Calm And Play - 040 Rose Blush.

It looks an absolutely terrifying coral colour in the bullet but like all of these balm tints, you just get a mere hint of colour (not even enough to justify a swatch in this case!) which enhances your natural lip colour. It has a pleasant slightly, sweet rose aroma but unlike a lot of similar products I don't think this feels that moisturising.

It's confession time - I'm totally lazy and useless at eyeliner - I just don't have the patience for it, and I barely ever wear it now - something that I'm sure several brands and PR's waiting for reviews will testify to. Recently though I became intrigued by the new Benefit They're Real Push Up Liner. It seems to be one of those products that you either love or hate though so I wasn't really that keen on shelling on £18.50. Whilst reading my usual array of blogs and tweets though I happened to read that the Maybelline Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner Pen was very, very similar and actually slightly better for a much more affordable but still slightly spendy £8.99. Hmm I thought about it for a while and decided to raise the issue on a recent #bbloggers twitter chat. A couple of lovely ladies replied and said they liked it so I took the plunge.

In the flesh it looks pretty, damn close to the Benefit offering, the silicone tip is very similar and it has the same twist up action. I'll be honest and say I haven't had the chance to try it on my eyes yet but I'll definitely add it to my list of upcoming eyeliner reviews and let you know how I feel about it soon.

The final item in my Superdrug haul was something else that you've seen in my giveaway post. I definitely went shopping with a one for me, one for you philosophy. Despite my age I'm still a bit of a Hello Kitty fan and I found these super cute tweezers on a clearance rack for just 49p x It would have been wrong not to buy them :)

I only made only other real beauty purchase in August and that was from Avon. I get so mad about brush marks with metallic nail polishes, that you think I would stop buying them but I don't. I decided to try a colour from Avon's new Metallic Effects range and the shade I went for was Jade Reflection.

It's sort of a metallic taupey, khaki, quite hard to describe and photograph but I can't wait to give it a proper try out on my nails, brush strokes and all!

Although the magazine freebies appear to have slowed down on the last month or so there are still a few out there and in August I picked up a couple of magazines with free gifts in them. InStyle came with a mini set of Ren skincare items. I've had the same set from them before so I guess they must have had some spare and Marie Claire came with a mini Ghost Eclipse fragrance roller ball.

Whilst it's not a fragrance I would have bought I actually quite like it's depth and complexity, and I'm a huge fan of the roller ball style applicator. Slim pickings for August but the October issue of InStyle actually came out on the 30th August so whilst it's still in store I can just about include it in my August haul :)

It was actually a pretty decent freebie too, you get a a 50ml bottle of the L'Occitane essential oil shampoo and a 50ml bottle of the matching conditioner, together worth about £10. I haven't tried their haircare before but I'm a huge fan of the brand so I can't wait to give them ago.

The final bits that I acquired in August came courtesy of a lovely, fellow North East blogger, Becca from Polkadot Notebook. For my birthday so kindly gave me a few bit including a mini FCUK Signature Body Spray, which as you know I love. Being the lovely person that she is she sent me some other FCUK signature minis x Thanks Becca x You're a star x

So that was my very late, and very long and in depth August haul x I haven't managed to film a haul video to accompanying post so I hope that you will forgive me x  Hopefully I will be resuming normal video uploads soon x Thanks for reading and of course if you have any questions on any of my purchases please leave me a comment xx

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

...And I'm Back...

Over the years I've thought a lot about various career changes, but something I'd never really considered was magic, but lately I seem to be getting pretty good at this disappearing act thing. I blog for a few days, promise the world and then I disappear lol.

Well as per usual my latest disappearance was health related. I've spent the last week and a bit battling a pretty nasty case of gastroenteritis. That's pretty much all the gory details that you're going to get but I've actually been pretty unwell. Thankfully I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm still feeling tired, sore and weak and I'm by no means firing on all cylinders but I'm starting to feel a bit more human.

I've had quite a bit of time to think whilst I've been lying in my darkened room, and whilst bemoaning the fact that I was missing some fabulous local blog events, I tried to think positive and look forwards instead of looking back and feeling sorry for myself. My blog was constantly in my thoughts, surely a sign of how much it means to me now, and as a result I've got lots of exciting new ideas and plans for the future, and of course for my blog. Like most things in my life it's going to be a work in progress, so I'll keep you posted on any potential changes but in the meantime, please, please bear with me. It's going to take me a little while to pull myself round after this little set back, so posting may be a bit all over the place till I catch up and sort myself out so stick with me if you can. I'm aiming for at least one new post this week but fingers crossed I might manage a couple x 

Thanks for reading and thanks for following and of course do't forget to enter my giveway x I really appreciate all your entries x 

Friday, 5 September 2014

Foodie Friday - What I Ate In August

As you may have gathered from Tuesday's weight loss summary, food's being a bit of an issue for me over the last month. Try as I might, I'd have real problems sticking to any sort of healthy eating regime. This mini review of the things that I ate probably doesn't look too bad in isolation but yet again it was the picking and grazing that caused the problem, not to mention a change in the weather which lead to me craving naughty things.

Main meal wise one of my aims was to be a little bit more experimental with my eating, by and large I think that was a bit of a fail but I did make some old favourites including a huge batch of Diet Coke Quorn.

I served one lot with gluten free pasta, and the other portion with my homemade egg fried. I didn't have any frozen peas though so instead I used some frozen mixed vegetables which made a nice change. I've had a few requests for the Diet Coke Quorn recipe, and whilst there are lots of different variations on the internet, I will stick my version up in a week or so for anyone who is interested x

Whilst Diet Coke Quorn is rapidly becoming one of my mum's all time favourite dishes, in August I also made two more of her favourite meals, starting with my Hot Potato And Quorn Saute.

I try not to make this too often because of the calorie content but it's such a tasty dish, that really fills the salty, savoury cravings that being a vegetarian, I often get. It also contains sweet corn which I absolutely adore, in any format or any dish so it's always a winner with me :)

Something else that I try not to make too often because of the calorie content, is my Broccoli, Stilton And Walnut Pasta. The reduced section in Tesco came up trumps again though, with a huge head of Broccoli and a bargain piece of Stilton. I tried to reign in the recipe a little bit by using Garlic Fry Light instead of olive oil though, and I replaced the walnuts with pecans because that's all I had. It really doesn't matter I always try to make do with what I have before going out to buy specific ingredients.

One habit which I seem to have got into over the last few months is making mounds of cheesy nachos. The homemade salsa is healthy enough but combine it with a pile of corn tortilla chips, and a mound of grated red Leicester and you're asking for trouble. I did make smaller portions than normal, using individual baking dishes so maybe I deserve a bit of credit.

August was very much about the homemade and the homegrown. I'm luck enough to have two lovely uncles who both have enough land to keep chickens and grow all sorts of yummy fruit and vegetables. Last month one of my uncles came over with bags, and bags of yummy homegrown fruit and veg - green beans, onions, parsnips, apples, turnips, cucumbers, tomatoes, beetroot and rhubarb you name we've had it and with another batch this week, we're well sorted for the winter. My mum started off by blanching the veg for the freezer and by pickling the beetroot. After hating it throughout my primary school years I'm now a bit in love with beetroot and a jar of home pickled beetroot can not be bettered. I love it in sandwiches and in salads and straight out of pan when it's still a bit warm.

My mums big love is rhubarb, and whilst some of it was stewed and popped in the freezer, and it went without saying that she whipped a lovely gluten free rhubarb crumble - yummy!

I mentioned in my last foodie roundup that my mum had made a mountain of homemade strawberry jam, well in August me and Mummy Lou made a slightly healthier version of a cream tea.

The gluten free sultana scones didn't quite rise as planned but they still tasted delish when we served them with some strained low fat Greek yogurt, and spoonfuls of the sweetest, most summery tasting jam you've ever tasted. It's probably more like a preserve, than a jam but I guarantee it's was nicer than anything you can buy in the supermarket.

Fruit was a bit of a theme in August and as well as consuming plums, peaches, nectarines, grapes and pineapples, I also ate more than my fair share of bananas, and in August I made my super easy Banana Nut Bread, which is a great way of using over ripe, soft, brown, bananas.

This is a really versatile recipe where again you can add what you have or what you like and leave out what you don't.

I also used a couple of overripe bananas up in one of my favourite ways - I made a smoothie / milkshake. I just put 1 past it's best banana, into a blender with a glass of semi skimmed milk and some frozen fruit and gave it a zap till it was smooth. It tastes so fresh and it's really filling for not a lot of calories. Obviously you could add yogurt or ice cream to thicken it up but it's fine as it is.

Despite the fact that the weathers cooling down a bit I've still been all over cool and icy drinks. I made a few trips to both Starbucks and Costa and I tried my best to try something different from my usual Mocha Cookie Crumbles and Raspberry And White Chocolate Creamy Coolers.

First up is Costa's Strawberry And Lime Cooler - I have to say I was a touch disappointed by this. It was very, very refreshing but the lime totally dominated it was very tangy and very zesty, and you could barely taste the strawberry :(.Great on a hot day but not something I would necessarily order again - hence I had another Raspberry And White Chocolate Creamy Cooler last week hmmm, you win some you lose some I guess

My Starbucks experience was a better one, and to be honest I knew if would be. Having already enjoyed a Banana Yogurt Frappuccino I knew that I would love the Red Berry version and I did. You get the hint of the berries, and the freshness of the yogurt and unlike a lot of frappuccinos and coolers it wasn't too sweet. I'm not sure how long these ones are going to be around for but I do know that for September only you can get limited edition orange, and strawberry yogurt frappuccinos, so I'll definitely be making a Starbucks trip this month for at least one of those, and for a Pumpkin Spice Latte, would you believe I've never had one before? 2014 is definitely going to be the year that I lose my PSL virginity :)

Although I now live quite close to a Starbucks, I still can't justify jumping in the car every time I get a coffee urge and recently I discovered a little gem in Poundland of all places.

Mokate Ice Frappes are perfect ice coffees with out the faff. Each pack comes with between 10 and 12 sachets of iced coffee mix, all you do is mix it with some milk and some ice. You can do it by hand but I put mine in the blender or use the Bamix to get rid of the lumps. It's actually really good, and you don't need to add any sugar or anything else if you don't want to but I've been adding the occasional dash or Monin caramel or hazelnut syrups to give it a more coffee shop feel. For a £1 I think there a great buy for that coffee hit when it's too hot for coffee.

The rest of the items in August's foodie review are all what you would class as naughty. Being a vegetarian for more than 18 years now one of thing that I've missed the most are jellies. So many still contain animal ingredients and pork or beef gelatine. Things are getting better though and recently both M&S and Tesco have introduced their own vegetarian jelly sweets but up until recently the jelly sweet of the masses was completely alien to me. What am I talking about? Haribo of course! I have never, ever eaten any form of Haribo. On a recent trip to a larger Tesco and to Poundland though I found some vegetarian Haribo - hurray! Jelly sweets are back on the menu - The sour fizzy laces are amazing but the jelly beans have stolen my heart -mmmm sugar rush!

Speaking of jelly, the last thing I want to show you is a something that I discovered recently - Weight Watchers Sugar Free Jelly - amazing, vegetarian jelly that's less than 30 calories for the entire packet. The only thing is though it seems to have disappeared almost as quickly as I found. None of my local supermarkets have it any more, and my local Tesco was selling it off for just 9p a sachet, needless to say I bought the full display box full :( Grr it's always the way isn't it - can anyone tell me if it has been discontinued or if not where I can find some, I'd be really grateful x Also if their are any other vegetarians out there what jelly do you out? I know some of the trifle mixes contains veggie jelly but it's so hard to find a good one nowadays, I really thought I was onto something with these Weight Watchers ones, never mind :(

My final foodie highlight of August was a real blast from the past Funny Feet - The strawberry ice cream shaped feet were one of my first ever childhood, food memories. I distinctly remember eating them in my grandmas kitchen when I was teeny tiny. They seem a bit smaller now,  they're not quite as soft as they were and they don't feature a joke on the stick anymore but the taste really took me back nearly 30 years - how scary is that!

So they were my August eats, lots of good things, lots of not so good things, and some okay in small doses things. I already have quite a few things that I'm planning to eat and cook in September so hopefully I'll have lots of new things to show you next month x Happy Eating and Happy Drinking xx
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