Thursday 24 August 2017

Enjoying The Last Days Of Summer Whatever The Weather*

When you're a child the days seem to drag, weeks seem like months and summers seem to go on forever. When you're an adult though the weeks and months tend to blur into one, and your life seems to be flying by at a million miles an hour. It hard to believe it, but this weekend is the last bank holiday for most us in the UK, till Christmas. What a scary thought, and with the children going to back school soon, and college and university starting up again, for many of us this weekend probably signifies the unofficial end of summer 2017.

Unusually for the UK, the bank holiday weather forecast doesn't actually look that bad, especially if you live in the south of England, but come on lets be realistic, in this green and pleasant land of ours we're never far away from a shower of rain. Although we've had the odd nice day, by and large this summer has been a bit of a washout. I'm still praying that we're going to get the Indian summer that the newspapers keep promising us, but in the meantime we need to use a bit of that British resolve and make the best of it. So this bank holiday weekend, put your latest DIY project on the back burner, crank up DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince and Summertime, on a waterproof speaker like the Panasonic Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker and enjoy the long weekend, and the last days of summer, whatever the weather.

Unlike most people in the UK I'm not the biggest fan of barbecues but if the weather's decent a bit of al fresco eating is the way to go, so get outside and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. Get the music blasting, chill down some bottles and cans, and some soft drinks, or maybe even make up some jugs of Pimms or cocktails if you're feeling fancy. and then prepare enough food to feed the 5000.

Pop some potatoes wrapped in foil in the barbecue coals, then make or buy some nice salads, breads and accompaniments, and then fill your barbecue with enough sausages, burgers, chicken, and chops to feed the entire street.

In order to host a good barbecue though don't forget to provide a few vegetarian option for both vegetarians and people who are trying to stave off the meat sweats. As a vegetarian I've been to barbecues before and the only thing that I've been able to eat is the salad - not ideal. Thankfully there are loads of barbecue friendly, veggie options available including steaks, burgers and sausages, just cook them indoors or make a foil parcel on your barbecue to keep them away from those meat juices.

If you want to be a bit fancy though and really impress your guest then why not treat them to a veggie kebab or two. Kebabs always look so impressive but they are so easy to make, stick some things on skewers, add some sort of marinade and then pop them onto the grill. The possibilities are endless but why not try adapting my Lentil, Roasted Vegetable And Halloumi Salad recipe. Serve the lentil and rocket mixture on the side, and pop chunks of pepper, courgette, and halloumi on to some skewers, and then brush with olive oil, lemon zest and thyme leaves and then grill until the cheese has browned slightly, and the veggies are charred - simples and a bit more exciting than a burnt sausage!

Let's be honest though, as I've just said when does the British weather ever cooperate. The weather forecast promised fine weather so you plan for a barbecue or a picnic and then what happens? well the heavens open and all of your plans go out of the window! So what do you do? well like with all things you should have contingency plans, so if it rains, bring that picnic or that barbecue indoors.

Put on some summer themed tunes, and light some candles to set the scene, then if you can, move your furniture to sides of the room, and spread out either a paper table cloth or a picnic blanket on the floor. Get some cushions to sit on and some cozy throws to wrap yourself in, and then bring out some cactus, flamingo, or pineapple themed napkins, straws, glasses and paper plates, and bring out a board game or two, and before you know it you'll have forgotten all about the rain

It goes without saying that whatever your were going to cook outdoors, you can cook inside on the oven or grill, but why not impress your guests and be a little bit more experimental with you indoor picnic fare. Have a little look online at sites like BBC Food and you'll be sure to find lots and lots of summery recipes. to take both your indoor or your outdoor picnic to the next level (I'm loving the sound of the Ploughman's Cheese And Pickle Tart!). At the end of the day who cares if it's raining, with the right setting, music, food, drink and company, does it really matter that summer is nearly over?

Although I'm not planning either a big get together, a picnic or a barbecue this weekend I'm definitely going to have a good time regardless of the weather, and I'm going to take some time out to listen to some good tunes and enjoy some good food. Do you have any big plans for the bank holiday weekend? Let me know in the comments x

*Sponsored Post

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Creightons Creme de Coconut & Keratin Shampoo And Conditioner*

Whether you're a new reader or whether you've been with me since the start. or even since somewhere in the middle, then you'll probably have already established how much I love beauty products. I'm a real beauty junkie and I love trying out new products and new brands.

Although I do repurchase certain things (mainly skincare) you could never describe me as loyal. I don't repurchase a lot of products now and I'm always on the look out for the next miracle product or the next big thing. You may have already realised that one of my weaknesses is hair care. When it comes to beauty products I'm not a snob, and over the years I've probably tried hundreds of different hair care products at all different price points, and I'm a firm believer that price and quality doesn't always go hand in hand.

When it comes to haircare I've loved products at both ends of the price spectrum, and I've disliked as many expensive products as I have cheap ones. In most cases I'm of the opinion that you don't always get what you pay for, it really is horses for courses and sometimes it's worth giving things a go especially if they are at a more affordable price point.

Over the next few months I have a lot of hair care reviews coming up on the blog, and in an attempt to provide something for everyone, I will be reviewing some high end products and some more budget friendly options. I know a lot of people love their high end and salon hair care products but in this day and age, high end hair care can often be an expense that some people just can't justify so today I'm start off by talking about two products, that definitely won't put a dent in your wallet.

Being a proud Brit, I love supporting British brands and one such brand is Creightons. Even if you have haven't heard of them I can pretty much guarantee that you will have seen at least a few of their products in both bricks and mortar stores and online. They produce a wide range of skin, body and hair care products that are all manufactured here in England. Their haircare line is particularly impressive when you consider that the majority of products in the line start at just £1. A lot of their haircare products also remind me a lot of some of the more mid range, salon and stylist driven brands all be it at a much lower price point. Creightons hair care line contains a variety of different products including shampoos and conditioners for both blondes and brunettes, as well as products for frizzy hair, curly hair, and for hair that is lacking in volume; They also have an Argan oil based range and a Coconut based range for people with drier or coarser hair

Quite a while ago now I was sent a couple of different shampoos and conditioners to try, I will be reviewing two products from the Beautiful Brunette range in a future post but today I'm going to talk about two products from the Creme de Coconut & Keratin range.

Both the shampoo and the conditioner come packaged in basic but practical, easy to squeeze plastic tubes, with a secure flip top lid. The shampoo comes in a brown tube and the conditioner comes in a creamy white tube, so it's easy to see exactly which one you're picking up and using when you're in the shower

This range is specifically designed for drier hair types, and both products contain a blend of 3 specially selected ingredients, coconut, keratin proteins, and vitamin E. The products are designed to hydrate, indulge and nourish the hair, whilst at the same time leaving it stronger, smoother and more manageable. The ingredients sound good as do the claims but just how good can a shampoo and conditioner that cost just a £1 a bottle be?

Creightons Creme de Coconut & Keratin Moisturising Shampoo - 250ml

First up the shampoo, and this particularly shampoo, contains a blend of coconut milk and keratin, alongside all of the other ingredients that you normally find in a shampoo such as water, and foaming agents (in this case SLS).

The shampoo itself has a slightly runny, gel like texture, and clear and slightly opalescent in colour. It took a little bit more shampoo than what I would usually use, but thanks to the SLS it lathers up into a really nice creamy foam, that rinses out easily and left the hair surprisingly smooth, and not as dry as I'd expected. If you had an oilier hair type then you could probably get away with just using the shampoo, but I felt that I needed a little bit more hydration so I generally used it alongside the accompanying conditioner

Creightons Creme de Coconut & Keratin Nourishing Conditioner - 250ml

Like the shampoo the conditioner also contains a blend of coconut milk, and keratin (the protein naturally found in both hair and nails) as well as Vitamin E, for that extra conditioning, nourishing boost.

The conditioner itself is a slightly pearlised, off white in colour, and it has a rich, creamy texture. It's thick and creamy but it's still easy to apply and it's easy to massage in and comb through freshly washed, damp hair.

The packaging doesn't really tell you how long to leave it on, so normally I just left it on for a few minutes, before rinsing. Despite it's creaminess it was easy to rinse out in the shower, and almost instantaneously I could feel the difference in my hair, it feel smoother and less tangled even when it was wet. When I left it to dry naturally it was definitely less frizzy, and it definitely felt softer, more controlled and more manageable.

I think that these two products just scream summer, not only are they perfect for when your hair might be feeling a bit dry and parched, but the creamy coconut scent also make you think of summer and tropical beaches even when it's dark and rainy outside. I have a love / hate relationship with coconut fragrances and flavours thanks to a bad experience with a certain coconut and rum based beverage, but I was okay with this fragrance, it was creamy coconutty and sweet but it wasn't too sickly.

Despite my opinion that paying more money doesn't always mean a better product I've got to be honest I was pretty sceptical as to whether these two £1 products would do their thing, but these products actually really surprised me.

As well as smelling great they also left my hair feeling clean, and well conditioned, and looking smoother and less frizzy. If you're not a fan of SLS and sulfates in your products then obviously these two products won't be for you, but personally I didn't notice any irritation or dryness, on either my hair or on my scalp.

The only real difference that I noticed with these products compared to say some similar, higher priced products was the amount that I needed to use. I think I'm in a minority but I'm one of those people that normally uses way more shampoo than conditioner, but with these products I actually finished both of the product at the same time, which is very unusual for me.

Whilst I can't guarantee that I'll repurchase either of these products, I definitely wouldn't be adverse to using them again. For the price I think that these products are pretty decent and they prove, at least to me, that you really don't need to spend a fortune on shampoo and conditioner. Creightons Creme de Coconut & Keratin Moisturising Shampoo and Creightons Creme de Coconut & Keratin Nourishing Conditioner both come in 250ml tubes and retail at around £1 a tube from various retailers including Asda, Primark, Wilko and Poundland. Are you a fan of budget haircare ? or is there such a thing as too cheap? Let me know in the comments x

*Press Samples 

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Nails Of The Day - OPI What's With The Cattitude?

I can't believe it's been 2 weeks since I last posted where on earth has the time gone! Technically you could argue that I've been a bad blogger for not posting but that isn't strictly true, I've uploaded a few You Tube videos, I've taken lots of photographs and I'm working on some upcoming posts, and I've been reshooting pictures and updating some of my older nails on the day posts.

I mentioned my issues with Photobucket in my previous post, and over the last couple of weeks I've been starting to redo some of my older nail polish and recipe posts, it's definitely a work in progress but thankfully most of the posts just need new pictures and a tiny bit of a rewrite - this particular one though needed a bit more work so I decided just to scrap the original and start it from scratch.

I originally shared a nails of the day featuring OPI What's With The Cattitude way back in 2010. The colour I believe was a limited edition release that came out with the OPI's Shrek Forever After collection.

Made in OPI's famous cream formulation, What's With The Cattitude? is a beautiful pastel blue shade with just a hint of turquoise. Like a lot of cream formulations, and white based colours, this one did have a tendency to streak , so I needed three applications to achieve full coverage on some nails. As a result it took a little bit longer to dry but it was worth the wait for the super glossy, long lasting finish.

This colour is perfect for the spring, and summer months, and it's a must have if you have a tan. This polish won't be the easiest one to track down now unfortunately but you can usually find something similar if you shop around. I haven't worn this shade for years, but now thanks to Photobucket (grrr) I've rediscovered it, and I've realised exactly why I bought it, and why I used to love it so much? Are you a fan of pastel blue nails? Let me know x 

Tuesday 1 August 2017

Life Lately, Photobucket And Trimming My Stash - July 2017 Edition

Well I'm back with yet another apology - July was another month that just never seemed to get going for me and as a result my blog took another hit and sporadic and patchy posting resumed. It's not that I haven't been working on the blog I really have - I've taken a ton of photos, I've done a lot of research and product testing but I just haven't managed to get the words on the screen, again!

As well as being in the middle of a huge CFS, Fibromyalgia flare, a lot of things have tried both my patience and my energy over the last month. First of all we've had the decorators in, which always creates havoc, stress and disorder and secondly I've had to deal with total stupidity of Photobucket!

For those of you that aren't in the know, Photobucket is a photo hosting site, you can upload your pictures, store them safely, and then share them online, or you can print them off or create all sorts of personalised items. Sounds good doesn't it? Well it used to be ! - when I first started blogging over 10 years ago now, using a third party hosting site like Photobucket was one of the only ways to add photographs into your posts, so that's what I used to use. Nowadays it isn't something that I use that regularly but it's still there hosting a lot of the pictures from the first few years or so of my blog. Fast forward to last month and Photobucket decided that if you want to continue using their service to use your pictures on other websites then you need to pay nearly $300!!! Needless to say that ain't happening so I'm currently having to weed through all of my blog posts (numbering nearly 2000 now) and either edit or delete all of the posts which included images from Photobucket! I know a lot of bloggers who have routinely deleted a lot of their early posts but I'm not one of them, every post has made me the blogger that I am today, but thanks to Photobucket I really don't have an option anymore. I'm basically having to delete all of the posts with pictures that I can't replicate, and I'm going to have to re shoot and redo a lot of my original nails of the day posts, and a lot of my early recipe posts. It's so frustrating and it's something that I really could have done without. Like so many things it will be an ongoing process so I'm going to apologise in advance for the dead links, page not founds, and lack of photos that you'll no doubt find littered throughout my blog. Anyways before I combust with rage and frustration lets get back on point and take one final look back at July 2017, and take a look at my July beauty empties!

Philip Kingsley Elasticizer - 75ml
Kueshi Anti Cellulite Booster Anti Cellulite Lotion - 150ml
Jack Wills Hope Cove Ladies Luxury Body Scrub - 200ml
Weleda Pomegranate Creamy Body Wash - 204g
Hei Poa Pur Monoi Tahiti Tiare - 100ml
Australian Bodycare Tea Tree Oil Body Wash - 200ml
Weleda Pomegranate Regenerating Body Oil - 100ml
Purederm Botanical Choice Exfoliating Foot Mask - 1 Pair
Freedom Pro Studio Brush Bath Sanitising Brush Cleanser - 100ml
Percy & Reed Hair Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Overnight Recovery - 30ml
Lush Snow Fairy Shower Gel - 100g
Bath & Body Works Winter Candy Apple Body Lotion - 295ml
Lush The Comforter Shower Cream - 250g

Total - 12 Items 

At last something to be happy about, July proved to be my most successful month of 2017 so far. I managed to finish 12 items, including quite a few bits that I'd forgotten about and rediscovered. No make up again, and for a change no skincare, but I still managed to finish a nice mix of body, and hair products

1. Philip Kingsley Elasticizer - 75ml

I haven't done a favourites or a products I'm loving right now video, on my You Tube channel for ages now, I definitely need to remedy that and one product that I will definitely be featuring will be Philip Kingsley's famous Elasticizer. Originally invented for the goddess that is Audrey Hepburn, this stuff really is a miracle worker. Apply it to damp hair before you shampoo, leave for at least 20 minutes, and then shampoo out, and your hair will be transformed! My hair is rubbish, and it has been for several years now, it goes through phases (thanks to certain products) where it's passable and then it starts falling out and generally looking like crap again. I've used this product sporadically for a few years now but over the last few months I've been using it a couple of times a week and I really can see a difference. I'm still losing hair but my hair definitely feels stronger, and more resilient, and it looks shinier and healthier. This is the original fragrance free version but you can now get various fragranced versions, including my favourite, the Geranium and Neroli and the new Coconut Breeze scent which is perfect for holidays.

2. Kueshi Anti Cellulite Booster Anti Cellulite Lotion - 150ml

This was a product that came in a Glossybox many, many moons ago and it's something that I've been using for the last few months now. Like most people  I'm pretty sceptical when it comes to cellulite products, I don't see how rubbing a bit of cream on your bum and thighs is going to magic all of those lumps, bumps and dimples away, but I'll still keep products every now and then in the vague hope that they will make a difference. This was just a white, cream, it didn't have much of a scent and apart from adding a bit of moisture to my wobbly bits, I didn't feel as though it was doing anything, and I certainly couldn't see any difference in my thighs.

3. Jack Wills Hope Cove Ladies Luxury Body Scrub - 200ml

Me bad - I recently discovered a whole Jack Wills gift set in my wardrobe that I'd completely forgotten about! I love the Hope Cove scent and unusually for body scrubs that come in a tube, this one was actually pretty decent. You know my usual gripe with body scrubs is that they aren't scrubby enough, well despite being in a cream / gel base this one was actually nice and scrubby and it's one that I would happily use again. This particular scrub came in one of the Boots Star Gift Christmas kits, but if you don't want to wait till Christmas, there are still a couple of Jack Wills bits of the Boots website and there are also a few beauty bits on the Jack Wills website x 

4. Weleda Pomegranate Creamy Body Wash - 204g

This is the first of two, coordinating Weleda products in the this list, and I'm slightly embarrassed to say that both of them were well past their use buy date. They still smelled okay though and the texture hadn't changed so I thought I better use them up. This vegan shower gel, had a lovely creamy texture and a fruity yet powdery scent. Full of natural, good for you ingredients, a little went a long way and produced a lovely creamy lather which didn't feel drying on the skin. If you're looking for a nice shower product from one of the worlds most established and best known natural brands then this could be something worth trying. If you don't fancy the idea of the Pomegranate scent, Weleda offer several other scents including Wild Rose, Lavender, and Arnica, and you also use them in the bath x

5. Hei Poa Pur Monoi Tahiti Tiare - 100ml*

From one rediscovery to another, and this was a product that I actually reviewed on the Zuneta website. Zuneta were one of the first online stores that really understood the power of the blogger, and several of us were actually featured on their website reviewing products that they'd sent us. It was fun to do, it got us noticed and we got to try lots of new products, those were the good old days and unfortunately in some cases things change, Zuneta is now part of Love Lula and my original post has gone for good so here's a quick summary of what I thought. This is basically a solid coconut oil in a bottle, fragranced with tirare and gardenia, you warm it up in a bowlful or sink full or hot water until it returns to a liquid and then you can use it as a body moisturiser, on the hair as a styling oil, or as an intensive conditioning treatment. It smells fabulous and a little goes a long way. This product isn't that easy to find in the UK so Amazon is probably your best bet, I really liked this but Elemis Exotic Frangipani Monoi Moisture Melt just edges it in to second place, when it comes to solid melting, multipurpose oils.

6. Australian Bodycare Tea Tree Oil Body Wash - 200ml

This isn't the most exciting of products but it's a staple in my bathroom cupboard. Crammed full of natural tea tree essential oil, this gel textured body wash has a refreshing, almost Eucalyptus type scent. Being an antibacterial wash it's perfect for any areas of irritated skin, it's great if you have any body odour issues, and it's a must have if you have pets, for cleaning scratches on them and on yourself! This stuff is brilliant for making you feel really clean, and it's great for using before and after hair removal, and if you heading to somewhere warm and toasty on holiday this summer, then the mosquito's hate it!

7. Weleda Pomegranate Regenerating Body Oil - 100ml

This Weleda product is a perfect accompaniment to the shower cream that I've just shown you. I think I got this product in a beauty box and as you can see it was well out of date. Thanks to the dark glass bottle, and good storage though, it didn't smell or feel any different. Designed to be used on ageing and slackening skin this oil had a lovely fruity, citrus scent. It was quite a thick oil but it felt nice on the skin and it didn't take too long to absorb. If you like body oils then Weleda is definitely a brand that's worth looking at, they have several other varieties in their range, including lavender for relaxation and Birch for cellulite and skin firming.

8. Purederm Botanical Choice Exfoliating Foot Mask - 1 Pair

Despite liberal applications of foot cream, and body butter, at the beginning of July my feet still looked dry and crusty and they were crying out for even more TLC. After seeing these in a few posts and Instagram pictures I decided to place a little Amazon order, and attack my dry feet head on. I've tried a few of these exfoliating sock treatments now and these ones are by far the best ones that I've used. I used to get them in Primark but the only place that I've seen them recently is Amazon. The idea is simple wash your feet, put the socks on a relax for about an hour, then wash your feet and wait for the magic to happen. It usually takes about a week and then your feet will start shedding like a snake sheds its skin. It's gross yet fascinating at the same time, and at some point you'll definitely feel as though you want to slather your feet in cream but you need to persevere and embrace the crustiness for a little while. Mine have just about finished peeling now and bar a few stubborn bits on my heels my feet are at least 80% better than they were a month ago.

9. Freedom Pro Studio Brush Bath Sanitising Brush Cleanser - 100ml

There are a lot of things that I have no patience for when it comes to beauty, hair removal is one of them and so is brush cleaning! I have an awful lot of make up brushes so I'm one of those people that uses a brush once and then puts it to one side to wash. so I usually end up with dozens and dozens of brushes to wash. I know I should probably wash them as I go but I never do and as a result I make my life so much harder. Over the years I've used a variety of things to clean my brushes, including face wash, and baby shampoo, and various specialist brush cleanser but nothing I've used has come close to this. From the TAM Beauty stable, this is from their Freedom line, and it is hands down, the easiest and nicest smelling brush cleanser that I've used. It's basically a solid brush soap, and all you do is swirl a damp brush into it to create some lather, squeeze, repeat and rinse and your brush is clean. It really does work and it also cleans sponges and beauty blenders like a dream. I've got a couple of other brush cleansers to use but this one is now a staple in my beauty regime.

8. Percy & Reed Hair Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Overnight Recovery - 30ml

Another hair product and this time something that was not only completely new to me but something that is also pretty new to the market. This was something that I got in July's Birchbox (see my unboxing video here) and I couldn't resist trying it out straight away. From the hair geniuses at Percy & Reed this is basically an intensive conditioning treatment, that you apply to dry hair just before you go to sleep. You then give it a few minutes to soak in and then you can go to bed without the risk of any residue getting on your pillow. Then in the morning you just shampoo it out and you're left with shiny, bouncier and more manageable hair. I actually really liked this, it left no residue on my pillow, it smelled lovely and I really think that it made a difference to my hair. I'm obviously devoted to my Elasticizer at the moment but I would potentially buy this product again.

9. Lush Snow Fairy Shower Gel - 100g

Ah Snow Fairy, this is probably one of the cult beauty products of the last 10 years or so and rightfully so. This sweet, sugary shower cream is fun, girly and it is crammed full of sparkles. I love it and so many other people do to. Thankfully I have another couple of bottles to last me till Christmas when hopefully Snow Fairy will be back, making it's annual festive appearance in stores.

10. Bath & Body Works Winter Candy Apple Body Lotion - 295ml

Cry! Well bar half a bottle of hand sanitizer, this is the last Bath and Body Works Winter Candy Apple product that I own. Yes it's another Christmas item, but as I've said previously this scent for me works all year round. You get a hint of festive spices mixed with apple, and most surprisingly pineapple. A little of this creamy body lotion goes a long way, both smoothing and fragrancing the skin. Again Bath and Body Works is a brand that isn't that easy to get hold of in the UK, but The Bath And Body Shop do have a decent selection of products and they also have a few Winter Candy Apple items x 

11. Lush The Comforter Shower Cream - 250g

Finally I'm saying goodbye to another Lush product, and sadly it's also one that Lush are saying goodbye to as well. When I had my bath tub, the Comforter Bubble Bar was one of my favourite products. I love it fruity blackcurrant, berry scent. Thankfully not long after I lost the bath, Lush introduced The Comforter Shower Cream so I could still get my Ribena esq fix. Personally I find this shower cream a little bit drying on the skin but I love the fragrance and I've really enjoyed staining the shower cubicle purple when I've used it! As I've said this product is on Lush's latest goodbyes list so if you like this product you better get a move on and stock up while you can.

So they were my July empties x If you have any questions on any of the items that I've mentioned then please leave me a comment and I will try to get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks for reading and thanks as always for sticking with me x

*Press Sample