Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Recent Empties: January 2016

I know, I know - we're only half way through January. But I've already got through what seems like a mountain of products. In a bid to be a little kinder to my skin (and hair!), I've been trying all sorts of little gems in the first fortnight of 2016 - and so far, so impressed.

Here's what I've managed to get through already...

Tony Moly Pomegranate Sheet Mask - I picked this up back in August - it already seems an age ago - whilst on holiday in the US. I'd heard a lot about cutesy Japanese brand Tony Moly (via Lisa Eldridge's ever popular YouTube channel) and thought that for about £2 a pop, these sheet masks seemed a bargain. I'm so glad I gave it a try! The pomegranate mask was literally sodden with skincare goodness - and felt a real treat when I popped it on my face while having in the bath one morning. Cooling and refreshing, it left my skin feeling great - and for just £2! Can't be bad.

Dermalogica ClearStart Foaming Face Wash  - A friend recommended Dermalogica - in particular its ClearStart range - some time ago now, so I thought I'd finally give the brand a go via a quick and easy starter pack. Costing about £25, the kit included this foaming wash, a moisturiser and a few treatments for blemish-prone skin - just what I needed! This cleanser has a gorgeously natural scent, doesn't lather up too much (lathering = dry skin) and has really helped calm down my usually-angry complexion. So far, so impressed!

The Body Shop Pomegranate Softening Cream Cleanser* - In the past, I've tended to use harsher exfoliating scrubs on my face, but having found myself with a few new products in my bathroom cabinet I thought it was about time to try something different. This Body Shop cleanser is creamy, soft and, above all, very gentle. I've been alternating it with the Dermalogica face wash (above) and, I have to say, despite the odd tingle to the skin post-cleansing, it's a real winner in my book.

Kerastase Ciment Anti-Usure Hair Conditioner - Since having my hair stripped, bleached and transformed from jet black to red in August last year, it's needed more than your standard Boots and Superdrug-bought shampoos and conditioner. My salon recommended this Kerastase range and I haven't looked back; it's brought some real gloss back to my hair and for that reason alone I am truly thankful.

BLEACH London 'I Saw Red' Temporary Hair Colour - A fail-safe product in my new haircare collection, this BLEACH London temporary hair colour costs little more than £5 and is ideal for those weeks when you're too booked up to make it to the salon for your usual colour. Give it a go, I was seriously impressed by how well it livened up my colour between appointments.

So, what's got your vote so far this year in terms of products? Any favourites?

*Sent for review consideration. All views are my own and 100% honest, as always.

Monday, 28 December 2015

New Year's Eve Beauty: New Lippie? Check. Under-eye Concealer? Check....

...spare pair of tights just in case you ladder the ones you're wearing? Oh, is that just me...

 The truth is, you've pre-planned your New Year's Eve night out right down to a the nail polish you're wearing on your toes.

But what of the day after? Have you laid out your PJs for when you roll in at 6am and can't find your front door, let alone your pajama drawer?

Have you thought about handy 'hangover cures' and cancelling all your plans for New Year's Day? No one wants a 9am wake up call on their hands, after all.

Preferable to that is a day spent watching Netflix in bed. Or, you know, a long soak in the bath, a face mask slathered on to relieve your dull, tired skin.

Introducing KORRES' Party Survival Kit, then...

I've had this to hand for the past few years running. It's perfect at this time of year as it contains everything you'll ever need to perk yourself up post-party.

With five miniature treats - including shampoo, shower gel, a cleanser, moisturiser and body milk - you'll be able to revive your complexion and start feeling a little more like yourself again.

The best bit? It's only £19 - and just £10 if you act fast and make the most of the early January sales.

Have you tried anything from the Greek brand KORRES*? What do you make of its products?

*Sent for review consideration

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Fitness Must-haves for an Active New You

Notice I don't say an active 'New Year' in the title of this post - because let's face it, while we all have good intentions, we rarely see out our resolutions to get fitter in January.

That said, keeping on top of the old gym game is important to me - and after joining a couple of years ago and shedding over a stone in weight, I'm eager to get back to going a little more regularly. More than the weight lost, going to 5+ classes a week, just made me feel better. I fast became stronger, fitter and healthier in general.

With that in mind, I'm bringing you some fitness-related gifts you might like to look at for the gym-aholics in your own life. After all, Christmas is now mere days away...

Top left: yoga mats by La Vie Boheme, top right: gym gear from Fabletics, bottom left: Sketchers*, bottom right: the famous Fitbit.

I'll start with my go-to gym item at the moment - and believe it or not, it's the humble yoga mat. Sure, some people may dismiss yoga as 'a bit washy washy' but I've found myself getting really into it. I have Adriene over at 30 Days of Yoga to thank, too. She's devised a really good beginners' month-long yoga programme, which has pretty much converted me to a yogi.

After suffering more than few carpet burns from bending, stretching and contorting my limbs whilst on scratchy old rug in our spare room, I decided to splash out and buy a yoga mat. Mine is just a bog standard '15 quid off Amazon' job, but I love the one pictured above my La Vie Boheme. Are you a fan, too?

Of course, you can't do yoga - or anything else vaguely active for that matter - without the right gear. And I have my eye on more than a few bits and pieces over at Fabletics. It's a really great site, jam-packed with all kinds of cool - and great value - gym wear which works via a handy subscription service. Take a peek.

Moving's got to be a pair of Sketchers and a Fitbit, hasn't it? My mum is umming and ahhing about treating herself to both after rave reviews from a work colleague of hers - and I have to say I'm thinking the same too. Not too sure about the pink and purple Sketchers here, mind - I'd also go for a different coloured Fitbit to the one seen above - but I'm definitely thinking about making both these my next fitness-related purchases.

What about you? What are your fitness plans for the New Year ahead?

Given the recent success of the humble trainer in LFW collections would you perhaps be interested in writing a short entry on style and fitness this winter, or just their practicality and comfort and linking to their Women’s sketchers category?

*Collaborative post

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Sneak Peek: A Taste of the Caribbean at Huddersfield's Turtle Bay

Don't get me wrong, I love winter. It's my favourite season, in fact. For me, hot cocoa and central heating are an absolute match made in heaven and I enjoy few things more than cosying up for the night, drink in hand and trashy TV on the box.

But I have to say, this year summer felt like it came and went in a flash and as a result I've since been pining for a bit of sun on my skin and a chance to head outside without shrouding myself in layers.
Cue Huddersfield's soon-to-open Turtle Bay restaurant, then. It offers a taste of the Caribbean (no sun here, I'm afraid - but plenty of rum cocktails!) here in good old Blighty and a chance to feel, well, like you've hopped aboard Doc's Delorean and headed back to summer.

Along with a handful of food and lifestyle bloggers, I was invited (thanks, Faith PR!) to take a sneak peek at the venue and tuck into some delicious Caribbean food. Who was I to say no?!

So on a cold and miserable Tuesday night I headed down to get a glimpse of what has got to be the most exciting thing to happen to Huddersfield since this went viral.

Left: a glimpse at some of the graffiti, top right, scotch bonnets (they'll take your head off!) and bottom right, the bar
Joking aside, though, as an honorary Huddersfieldian (is that a thing?!) I'm chuffed to say there's plenty going on round here - and the restaurant (the most recent for the chain) is just one of a few great places sprouting up lately. I can't wait to try out this tea house, for one.

Inside, Turtle Bay has that low-key Caribbean 'ting' down. It looks brilll - all bright colours, quirky graffiti and a cool bar (brimming with Red Stripe and more bottles of rum than you can shake a swizzle stick at) smack bang in the centre of what looks set to be a new favourite eatery for the town.

Arriving at the venue, it was lovely to be able to roam around and take in what they've done to the place - resident Hudds folks tell me the venue, formerly Cotton Factory, looked a stack different before - taking pics, and generally having a good snoop.

With delicious rum cocktails thrust into our hands by the very attentive Faith PR, it was time to learn a little more about Turtle Bay and its beginnings. 

So, what about the restaurant itself then? Colin Scott - the company's development and training chef and the man in charge of us rowdy blogging rabble - did a great job of telling us all about the restaurant and the food while keeping things light and entertaining.

We discovered that Turtle Bay is about capturing the soul of the Caribbean, not just about the food - and certainly not about creating a completely authentic dining experience. While there's plenty of attention to detail here, Colin did tell us the menu has been tweaked a little. After all, every one's idea of authentic Caribbean food is different - even in the Caribbean itself.

The night was a culinary blur of delicious delights; a hearty help-yourself affair to a host of dishes and a chance to learn more about Caribbean specialties and cooking techniques.

On the menu on the night was a tasty kidney bean rice dish, curried goat and the best - and spiciest - jerk chicken I've tasted. I didn't dare try it with this though: an authentic - and hot! - Caribbean sauce.

I could go on and on telling you all about the cooking techniques and the delicious dishes on offer, but instead I'll leave you with some facts:

* It ain't Carribean food unless it's cooked in a 'Dutch pot'. It's the equivalent of a stewing pot for us, but apparently, for Caribbeans at least, it's a tradition they swear by. It 'just doesn't taste the same' if it's cooked in anything else
* The jerk chicken we know and love, isn't truly traditional. Jamaican jerk is actually a method of cooking pork, but as chicken is more readily available today, that's what you'll most commonly see on restaurant menus and at street food bars
* Jerk seasonings include scallions, onions, scotch bonnet peppers, salt, thyme, allspice and black pepper
* Caribbean rum cocktails will make you very light-headed. Ahem.
* Rum, pineapple, cake and coconut ice cream make an absolutely winning team.

Food very much gobbles, we left few short hours later we left the venue, full to the brim with delicious Caribbean delights and back out into the cold autumnal air.

I might well be dreaming of summer, but I know I now know I'll be able to stave off any withdrawal symptoms with a reservation here.

And if you're thinking of getting yourself along there too, get booked in fast. If that food and those cocktails are anything to go by, Turtle Bay is going to be swimming with visitors. You heard it here first.

Are you in Huddersfield, or close enough that you can pop along to Turtle Bay when it opens? There's a VIP event tomorrow night (Thursday, October 29), organised by those lovely folks over at Faith PR. Send them a cheeky email via the site's contact page and I'm sure they could add you to the guest list if you ask nicely enough.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Christmas Gift Guide: For Her

I don't know about you, but the Christmas build up starts as early for me. It doesn't matter how old I get; in fact, I seem to become more enamoured with the festive season with each and every year.

Where as a little 'un, Christmas for me was about presents and only presents (probably!), now it's all about food and family. Only kidding. And presents!

So, because I know some of you out there get as excited as me in the run up to December 25, I'm bringing you a quick rundown of some of my favourite gift ideas for her. Well, let's not generalise here actually; I know more than a few chaps who love baking, for one. And well, who am I to judge a fella who likes a bit of foundation.

With that in mind, I'm coming atcha with a mid-priced selection of gifts I hope you'll love...

1. Vintage Glass Cake Dome - With the Great British Bake Off back on our screens (how is it nearly the grand finale already, though? Sob), I've been upping my own baking game and whipping up all sorts in the kitchen. Check out my Instagram account for some of my latest bakes, including a pretty delicious-looking bundt cake that looks like a doughnut. As I hate having to mess around with tin foil when it comes to wrapping up a cake; I don't know what I'm doing wrong but it always ends up ripped to shreds (the foil, not the cake). So I'd love a glass cupcake dome like this - and I think you would too.

2. Penhaligon's Perfume Gift Set - I rarely, if ever, watch QVC, but the other day I got word of a show featuring my all-time favourite fragrance brand, Penhaligons. Well, of course I had to tune in. Some 20 minutes later and I was on the site purchasing a fragrance and body lotion combo for myself, while my other half re-purchased one of his old faithfuls, too. If you've yet to try the brand's beautifully heady perfumed concoctions, this miniature Penhaligon's fragrance collection offers the perfect way to give it a go without paying full whack for a bottle you might not like.

3. Ankle Boots - For me, Christmas is as much about the wintery season that comes with it as it is about the big day itself. I love the build-up, particularly in term of clothes. For me, few things are more exciting - sad, I know - than pushing my summer clothes to the back of my drawers and dusting off big, cosy jumpers and autumn/winter boots. I've already spotted a pair I like the look of over at Jones the Bootmaker; they've got a whole host of gorgeous ladies' boots to suit all styles - and leg shapes! I particularly like these Madison ankle boots; the perfect heel height and ideal to slip on with all kinds of cosy autumn outfits. I. Can't. Wait.

4. Korres CC Cream - Lately, I've been paring back my beauty routine to include a host of simpler products. While I'm getting older, I realise that simply piling on layers and layers of foundation just isn't going to cut it. So I'm embracing my fine lines and instead wearing a lighter base. I'm a big fan of Korres' Wild Rose CC cream, which offers all the coverage I need without swamping my often blemish-prone skin. Give it a go if you're looking for something a little less weighty for the winter months, too.

5. Make-up Bag - For me, no Christmas would be complete without a brand new cosmetics bag. I think I've had one every year since I've been old enough to wear the stuff, and it almost seems like it wouldn't really be December 25 if one of these wasn't waiting under the tree. I don't know; there's something quite nice about getting a new cosmetics bag, isn't there? I love adding my newly-purchased winter make up to it as it really does beat chucking a couple of half empty mascaras and an old lippy into a stained, well-used make-up bag. I love this one by the Handpicked Collection; simple and stylish, it's feminine without being OTT.

So, tell me (because I'm nosey like that) what's on your Christmas wish list this year? Got your eye on anything on the list (above), or spotted something cool and quirky elsewhere?

* Collaborative post. All views are my own
Bella Lulu Ink Blog