Monday, 24 December 2012

'Twas the night before christmas......

......and all through the house..........women everywhere were screaming at others to stop eating chocolate before they made themselves sick, were frantically trying to defrost the turkey with a hairdryer and wondering if wrapping the last presents in newspaper would make them look 'green' rather than 'you ran out of wrapping paper for my present didn't you?'.  No? OK then just in my house.

Actually I've not done too badly this year and I am lucky that my brother and his wife are hosting Christmas dinner.  So everything is done, the presents are wrapped, the house is cleaned, beds are made for those family staying at mine, food is in the fridge and we're good to go as they say.
The rest of today will involve sitting on my butt, painting my nails and stuffing my boat with chocolate.

For those of you who read my post on Loss you will know that last year was a very bleak Christmas for my family, but this year we are going all out Christmassy and celebrating.  Celebrating life and togetherness and the fact we are lucky enough to be able to have a Christmas - many can't.

So what I really want to say in this post is, Christmas can be an excitingly fantastical period, but I know that not everyone has such a festive time.  Those who are struggling financially, those who are home alone, those who are grieving, the homeless, the list could go on and on so I just want to say to all of you who are regular readers of my blog (I thank you) and also those who stop by and comment (I also thank you), that whatever situation you find yourself in this Christmas, I wish you from the bottom of my heart a time filled with peace, love and joy.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Loves and loathes - November

Ok so I know it's hurtling towards the end of December and I'm really late with my November loves and loathes but life just got in the way, but here goes.  First up are my loves:
Yankee Candle - Snow in Love
This Snow in Love Yankee Candle has been burning away on my desk this past month, so much so it has literally burned away! There wasn't even a teeny bit left so I could light it for its photo opportunity.  If there ever was such a thing as real sugared snow, then this would be it.  Divine.
Chai Latte by Drink Me Chai
Next up is this Chai Latte.  I'm a bit late coming to the whole Chai Latte phenomenon and I didn't discover it until I was in Australia in September 2011 when my gorgeous friends introduced me to the joys which are Chai Latte.  Before then I didn't even know it existed and I was adamant that we didn't have this in the supermarkets back home.  Once returned from the great land that is Oz I went on a mission and found this in my local Waitrose (I have since discovered it in Asda too!).  It does say just add water, but so does the hot chocolate I favour and I always make that with semi-skimmed milk, so I made this the same way and it is perfect.  So creamy and warming.  I truly believe this tastes just as good as the chai lattes you can get in any of the well known high street coffee chains.
Marks and Spencer stag scarf

My last love for this month is this gorgeous stag scarf from M&S.  I first spied it on Kats blog Doesmybumlook40 and I liked it so much that I not only treated myself to it, but I got one for my Sis-in-law for her Christmas pressie, in the other colourway which is a deep pink with orange stags on it.  The photo here shows it more as a yellowy/gold, but in the flesh I would say it is more mustard.  This thing is HUGE and so so warm.  I love the vibrancy of the colours just perfect for slinging on over a cute black jersey dress or some black skinnies.  It is enough to brighten even the dullest of days.
Tresemme 24 hour body

So now onto loathes.  This is my one and only loathe for this month.  OK loath is too strong a word, it's more of a dislike and it's the Tresemme 24 hour body blow-dry lotion.  I picked this up when I was in a hurry as I needed something small to pack for my trip to Amsterdam.  You can read more about my trip to Amsterdam here.  I've used Tresemme's shampoo and conditioners over the years and felt they've been alright, nothing exciting but they do the job and as this came in a little bottle and I was in a hurry I thought that will do.  It's a clear lotion with a pump spray. You just spray into the roots of towel dried hair and dry as normal.  It did leave my hair fairly shiny but not sure it lasted 24 hours, the body seemed to drop after a few hours and the term 'blow-dry lotion' to me is a little old-fashioned.  It reminds me of being a Saturday girl in a hairdressers over 20 years ago!  I don't know whether this really did anything more for my hair than a regular blow-dry with a decent brush would have of done.

So that's it for this month.  Not many products but then I've not had too much time on my hands for trying out new things what with Uni and Christmas approaching.

So what have been your loves and loathes this November?  Is there anything you think I really should try over the coming months?  Let me know in the comments.

Saturday, 15 December 2012


This date last year my life changed forever.  On the 15th of December 2011 my Mum died.

This post isn't about pity, it's about loss, it's about my Mum, it's about me and hopefully it will help someone out there who has just been bereaved or who is going to lose someone very dear very soon.

My Mum was only 66 when she passed away.  Now some of you reading this may think this is old, but I can assure you it isn't.  My Mum still worked full-time, infact more than full-time, she was always on the go and had a memory like an elephant.  She was shy and reserved until you got to know her.  She had a wicked sense of humour, an amazing singing voice and she was a tiger who would do anything for her children, regardless of the fact we were all 'fully grown'.  Above all this she was a Mum and that three letter word says it all.

I had only been back from Australia for 3 weeks when I got the phonecall that would change my life.  At 7.30pm on 14th November Mum called me and she couldn't get all of her words out.  I was sure she'd had a stroke.  (I worked for many years in stroke rehab, I know all the signs), but what I didn't know, was that day my Mum had been to the hospital, by herself, and had been diagnosed with a brain tumour.  That phonecall from my Mum is embedded into my memory forever.

I had to have her admitted to A&E against her will, which is one of the hardest things I have had to do.  Being in A&E and hearing her unable to recall her date of birth, what month we were in or who the Prime Minister was was heartbreaking (these are all standard questions Doctors ask when someone is admitted with confusion).  This was the lady whom everyone went to to get a date from or to clarify information, as I said above she had the memory of an elephant.  There she was; my Mum, but my Mum was already gone.

She was an incredibly private lady, hence the reason she was alone when she went for the MRI scan.  Didn't want to worry us and all that, you know how it goes. Stubborn as a mule and infuriating as hell at times.  But it wasn't until the next day, 15th November, that we found out that Mum hadn't had a stroke but instead she had a brain tumour, but that wasn't all.  The tumour which orginally looked like a primary cancer, was infact a secondary tumour and she had primary lung cancer.  Options were really limited, none of them would cure her in the long term, they would prolong her life and that was all, and we ran through all the options of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery and a mixture of all three as well as palliative care.  Mum was put on a high dose of steroids to reduce the inflammation around the brain tumour, and this improved her speech slightly, it was only the inflammation which had given her intermittent speech problems over a couple of days which was the indicator that something was wrong.  Other than feeling a little tired, Mum had no pain and felt normal.  So to receive a double cancer diagnosis not only hit us as a family for six, it totally floored my Mum.

We are a family who are very spread around, not just within the UK but worldwide.  Having to phone my Mum's sisters, my cousins and other family, friends and my Mum's employers knowing those phonecalls would change their worlds forever was one of the most harrowing things I have gone through (and I can tell you I have experienced some harrowing things in my time).

The doctors predicted we had months if Mum didn't have any treatment.  We had ONE month, one calendar month that was all.  Mum wanted treatment which surprised us all.  She was always the sort of person who said "well when your times up, your times up", but then again none of us know what choice we would make when we are delivered that fateful news.  But the cancer wasn't going to wait for the surgery to take place.

I can remember standing in the side room which Mum was in, by this point she was totally unresponsive, I staring out of the window seeing all the Christmas lights, the party revellers in their finest, was screaming inside "MY MUM IS DYING, why isn't Christmas cancelled".  But as much as you hate it at the time, life goes on and it is a constant cycle which we all live through but I wish we would talk about death more.  It will happen to all of us.  It is the only sure thing.

Somehow you go onto automatic pilot, eating, sleeping, I did the Christmas present shopping for my nieces and nephews, and Mr B.P.'s family.  I put up family and I fielded calls from others wanting updates.  I showered and put on make-up, arranged a funeral.  Afterwards I looked back and couldn't believe I had done all those things and more, but believe me you do and you will when you find yourself in a similar situation.

Mum passed away in the early hours of Thursday 15th December 2011.  I live 45 minutes drive from the hospital.  I missed her passing by 10 minutes.  I was heartbroken, but I knew my Mum wanted it this way.

A whole year has passed now.  Sometimes it feels like yesterday, sometimes it feels like her passing happened in another lifetime, time is a funny old thing.  I miss her everyday but it does get easier.  Life will never be the same, how can it be?  Especially when you lose someone so intrinsically linked to your very existence.  But you do learn to build a different life without that special someone in your life.

Grief too is a funny old thing.  You will find some days you feel absolutely fine, other days it takes your breath away.  You could be in the middle of the supermarket, watching your favourite soap or in the shower or something could remind you of them, a smell, a phrase, a song on the radio, but ride that grief it is all part of the healing process.  Your body and mind has to heal, give it time and don't be hard on yourself.  I learnt to accept the times when I felt awash with grief and just accept it.

I can remember feeling as though my breath had been taken away.  Losing Mum was so painful it physically hurt.  I now know the true meaning of being heartbroken.  It is a physical pain within your chest.  Something which is as simple as taking air in and out appears to be an insurmountable task.

In my experience people will do things which will amaze you.  Those you thought would be there for you almost ignore your bereavement, which can feel like another bereavement all over again, others will give you the widest shoulders to lean on.  Take all the support you get.

Also I have an NHS background, I know how it works but I beat myself up for months after because I felt I hadn't asked for enough, pushed enough, got the equipment in place which I knew would make Mum more comfortable.  Please don't do this to yourself if you find yourself in a similar situation, when you are the one who has become the eye of the storm, you forget everything going on around you.  No matter your background you become the patients carer, you have so many plates to juggle you are bound to drop one or two, it doesn't mean you have failed in their care.

Many would say my Mum had a good life and a good death.  Yes she died safe and warm and relatively pain free in a hospital bed and we had a months 'warning' of her impending demise.  But it doesn't matter how long you have or how they pass, a loss is a loss is a loss and you will feel that same pain no matter how it happens.  Be kind to yourself.

There are so many things I miss about my Mum, far too many to list here and I am so sad that she passed away many years before she should have but I'd much rather have had the 40 wonderful years I had with an amazing Mum than many more with a feckless mother.

The firsts are always the hardest.  The first birthdays - theirs and yours, Mothers day, Christmas the list goes on, be kind to yourself on those days but  you do get through, I did.

Last year as you can imagine, Christmas was the bleakest of times but this year, we as a family, are joining in all the festivities and being thankful we have a wonderful support group around us.  Christmas means different things to us now but we will still celebrate.

As for my Mum I just want to thank her for making me the strong and independent women I am today.  I know without her love and guidance I would not be the person I am.  I love you Mum.

As lovely as it is to get everything on your Christmas list and I know I've written my fair share of lists, at the end of the day presents really don't matter.  It's the people you share it with and the memories you make, as cliched as that sounds it is true. So when people ask me this year what is on my Christmas list, my answer is always the same; 5 more minutes with my Mum, just 5 more minutes.

Friday, 7 December 2012

7 little days

I've had a good week this week, apart from panic over a uni assignment which I thought I had finished but decided I wasn't happy with, so spent most of the week re-writing it, it HAS been a good week.  Why did I decide to do a degree, at my age I ask you! So I just wanted to share some of the things which have made me smile and be thankful for this week. Sometimes we just need to step back and count our lucky stars.  So in no particular order:

Mr B.P. having a good week business wise and surprising me by taking a couple of days off. (This is as rare as hens teeth).

Buying our Christmas tree.  This is a monumental decision in our household.  I have Christmas tree O.C.D. and it has to be perfect, but when I get the right one, I am happy happy happy!

Going with Mr B.P. on a rare day off to see a humungous Christmas display and acting like a couple of kids.

Chai Latte, thank heavens for Chai Latte

The soft (and sometimes not so soft!) snores and the funny little sighs of my little mutt as she curls up next to me whilst I watch a bit of the old T.V.

Making Mr B.P. a hot chocolate with all the trimmings (the sort of hot choccy you need to 'drink with a spoon') and seeing the glee on his face!

Waking in the night to find my kitty-kat curled up beside me, purring gently.

Talking to my best friend over in Australia, twice on the phone for over an hour each time.  God I miss that girl.

Mr B.P. making my dinner twice this week, TWICE! (this is also as rare as hens teeth).

All in all I can't complain over my lot this week, how about you, how has your week been?

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

NOTD - midnight skies

After a couple of days wear, please excuse the wearing tips!
This polish isn't really called midnight skies, I made that bit up! It's actually a mix of Sloe Berry with a top coat of Guinea by Front Cover.
But midnight skies is what it reminds me of. After all the terrible rain and subsequent floods we have recently had in my neck of the woods, we are now being blessed with some of the most beautiful crystal clear nights.  The sort of nights where every sound is amplified because it is so crisp, with purple-blue skies lit with thousands of stars, the sort of night where you just know you will wake to a beautiful frost.  So this is why I've called this NOTD midnight skies as it just reminds me of those glorious nights.

These polishes came in a gift set last Christmas from my sister-in-law, actually I 'blame' her for seriously getting me back into different polishes and I've been steadily building my collection of metallics and sparkly topcoats over the past 12 months. I store my polishes in a couple of old Glossyboxes!

So what nails are you rocking this festive period and what do you think I should try out next?

Friday, 30 November 2012

Winter warmer a.k.a the quickest soup ever

This is the quickest soup I have ever made (apart from opening a tin that is!).  This chorizo and chickpea soup takes 10 minutes in total and serves 2.  You will need:
400g can chopped tomatoes
110g pack chorizo sausage (unsliced)
140g/5oz wedge savoy cabbage
sprinkling of dried chilli flakes
140g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
1.  Put a medium pan on the heat and tip in the tomatoes followed by a canful of water.  While the tomatoes are heating, quickly chop the chorizo into chunky pieces (removing any skin) and shred the cabbage.
2.  Pile the chorizo and cabbage into the pan with the chilli flakes and chickpeas, then crumble in the stock cube.
3.  Stir well, cover and leave to bubble over a high heat for 6 minutes or until the cabbage is just tender.  Ladle into bowls and eat with crusty or garlic bread.
And that is it, that's as difficult as it gets!  The great thing about this soup is you can make it as spicy as you want by increasing the chilli flakes or just leaving them out all together if you don't like the spice.  I have also made this soup with spring greens and other green veg which I have had to hand, it is that versatile.

Enjoy x

Saturday, 24 November 2012

The Christmas Tag

I saw this over on the lovely Sarah from Life in a breakdown's blog and she in turn came across it on Makeup Pixi3's blog.  I just love a good old tag so here's my tuppence worth!

1. What's your favourite thing about Christmas?
It's so difficult to choose one thing.  I would say time off and spending it with family and all the longstanding traditions we have.  Eating lots of things which aren't so good for you but which taste Oh So Good! The twinkly lights, the smell of the Christmas tree.  Even cooking the Christmas dinner, I love it all!

2. What's your favourite make-up look for the festive season?
Loads of glimmer and shimmer.  Lots of smoky eyes and deep rich nail colours are usually what I go for over the Christmas period.

3. Real tree or fake tree?
Oh it has to be real for me.  I know I would save myself a fortune in the long run by investing in a really good artificial one but there is just something about a real tree.  We always had a real tree when I was a nipper, apart from when I was really really small and we had a very trendy white fake one (it was the 70's!), so I guess my love of real stems from there.  It's a big tradition in our house, Mr B.P. and I go out together to get said tree.  I do lots of "that one" and he pulls it out of the big pile and stands there, holding it whilst I ummm and arrrr and say "no that one".  We get there in the end!  But it's real all the way.

4. Giving presents or receiving presents?
It has to be giving.  I love shopping for others, getting something which (I hope) they'll love.  Spending time wrapping it just so.  It's a ritual for me and I just love to see others faces when they open their pressies.

5. Do you open your presents morning or evening?
It's usually a little bit of both.  We like to draw it out so it lasts all day!  We'll open a couple during breakfast but the main ones wait until after lunch which we usually sit down to eat at about 2.30pm. So it can go on until late afternoon.

6. Handmade Christmas cards or bought?
Have to admit to sending bought ones here.  Although I do love to receive a handmade one.

7. What's your favourite Christmas film?
That has got to be It's a Wonderful Life.  (Is it weird that Jimmy Stewart plays the main lead in both of my all time favourite films?!)  But if I'm looking for a bit of light hearted humour, you can't go wrong with Elf.

8. What's your favourite Christmas food?
This is a bit like the first question.  There is just too much too choose from!  We always crack open a tin of Quality Street and I love a mince pie (or 3).  To be honest, I love it all - yep even the sprouts!

So that's my Christmas tag!

I tag - ALL OF YOU!
Leave me a comment below and a link so I can read all about Your Christmas Tag

Friday, 23 November 2012

magazines + freebies = what's not to love?

I, probably like many of you, like magazines, but blimey aren't they expensive? OK so I don't have any subscriptions to any mags and so I know I could save myself some pennies there, but as I'm a magazine whore and don't stay faithful to any particular publication it's probably six of one half a dozen of the other.  But what I do love is when a publication I like to read has a freebie (usually of the beauty related variety) and if it has then I'm all over it like a rash.  So I thought I would share with you some of the freebies I've collected over the past few months.
Lets start with the Jemma Kidd Instant Lift Skin Perfecting Primer.  Now I have a love/hate relationship with primers, some days I think they aren't worth the money and other times I think they are worth their weight in gold.  I think it depends on what foundation I am using on any given day. This primer retails for £14, I got 10ml worth of product but I am unsure how much you get for your £14 hard earned pounds.  Jemma Kidd say this has a natural tensing agent to lift and firm your skin and help decrease wrinkles.  If I was looking to choose a primer, that would sell it to me alone!
This primer is of quite a watery gel consistency and a little goes a long way.  I found on application it left my skin quite tacky.  Although once my foundation was applied it wasn't affected by any tackiness which had been left by the primer and just felt as my foundation normally would.
Excuse my bony looking knuckles here!!!
I, like many, have combination skin and I usually have to blot or powder my t-zone several times a day but I found this primer definitely helped with this and I didn't need to powder my face more than once a day when using this product.  Would I recommend this primer? For sure.

Next up is the Super Extend Extreme Mascara by Avon.
This costs £10 and I got a full-sized freebie.  I prefer to wear a black-brown mascara and if I was splitting hairs I would complain that freebie mascaras tend to come in black.  But like I said that's splitting hairs.  Unlike many of my other make-up products (high end), I am not bothered where I buy my mascara or who it is made by.  As long as it lengthens, thickens, separates and doesn't clump and is easy to remove (don't ask for much do I?!) then I am happy.  Avon say take even the shortest lashes to new heights, lengthening mascara with lash-lifting brush visibly lenthens top lashes by up to 87% (tested on 25 people), doesn't flake, clump or smudge.  There aren't wrong there; no flaking or clumpiness and my lashes looked doll like pretty plus it was a breeze to remove.  Would I buy this mascara?  The answer is no because I just can't stand those rubbery wands and this mascara had one of those.

Murad is next.  Now I know Murad is a tad expensive for many but I believe with their products you get what you pay for.  This is their Essential-C Cleanser which retails at £10 for 45ml or you can get the larger size of 200ml for £34.  The freebie I got was 45ml.
Murad say this antioxidant cleanser neutralizes free radicals and restores moisture.  My skin felt thoroughly cleansed after using this cleanser without it leaving my skin dry.  If you like orange this cleanser is for you, it smells just like Haliborange vitamin tablets which I used to have as a kid and loved!  Would I recommend this cleanser? Yes.  Would I buy it? For sure.

Lastly we have Benefits Benetint, which is their original rose-tinted stain which was developed in the 1970s.
Now I don't have many Benefit products so I was keen to try this.  This freebie was 4ml and 12.5ml retails for £24.50 so this was a good way of trying out a cult product without having to fork out a lot of cash for something which may or may not suit.

The thing I liked about this the most, was the scent; Oh My it smells of turkish delight which I love.  This is also the first cheek stain product I have tried (it is also a lip stain but I've not tried it on my lips yet).  Gotta say I wasn't a big fan.  Don't think it was of the product itself, more the type of product.  I think stains, in my very limited experience, are quite a faff.  Although this is a pricey product, a little goes a long way so you are probably getting your moneys worth in the long run.  Would I recommend this product?  If you love stains and turkish delight then go for it.

So, are you like me and choose the magazines with the freebies and if so what have you been collecting lately?


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

take my breath away

Sometimes when we are dealing with the drudgery of everyday life, we forget the beauty around us.

I spend a huge part of my life hold up in my study.  I love this room, it has all the 'pretties' I love in one place (I may even do a room tour of it one day) but my desk does face the wall, with my back to the window.

A few days ago, after a particularly long day, I let out a long sigh, got up and stretched my aching bones, turned around and was greeted by this.........
..........Mother nature you can always take my breath away.

I just thought to myself WOW! For me there is just something about the changes in the sky which knock me sideways.  I love sunrises and sunsets and everything in between, for me it is mesmerizing.

What things have you seen recently which have taken your breath away?

Monday, 19 November 2012

Ladies, I need your Mac help!!!

Ladies, I need your help!!!  I'm about to put an order into Mac for a few bits and pieces and whilst I am there I thought I would get two more eyeshadows to complete my palette and I just don't know which to choose (insert whinny voice here!)I guess you're wondering "why doesn't see just go into her nearest Mac store and choose something?".  Well ladies my nearest Mac is about an hours drive away, right in the centre of a big town and quite frankly I just can't be bothered.  Lazy I know but hey.

This is what I have so far, please excuse the grimy interior of my Mac pallette, disgusting I know but it does get (ab)used on a daily basis.
Top row L to R - Vanilla, Shroom, Kid, Wood-winked, Satin Taupe
Middle row L to R - Naked Lunch, Omega, Amber Lights, Stars 'n' Rockets, Fig. 1
Bottom row L to R - Sumptious Olive, Copperplate, Carbon
As you can see, oh God I'm going to say those two little words - HIT PAN  - with Vanilla and Omega, I love these two and they feature regularly in my day to day face so will re-order but what on earth should I get to fill those two lonely little spaces?

I am considering possibly Filament, Electra, Silver Ring or Knight Divine, but am not sure which to go for, if any of the ones I've mentioned above, so your help is desperately needed and greatly appreciated!

Just for info, I am fair skinned with blonde (natural of course!) hair and dark blue eyes.

So what do you think I should go for, what colours can't you live without and why?

Saturday, 17 November 2012

A day in the life of................ dog!!!!!!

So get out of my pit normally about 8.30am, although as today was SATURDAY and my aunty had stayed over, I had a reprieve until about 10.00am.  I love kipping, this is where I can usually be found......
......shhhhh it's the humans bed, they don't know I sleep here sometimes!!

Off out to say hello to the neighbours......

......well gotta keep up with the gossip.
Time for a bit of my 2nd favourite hobby (after sleeping)
Back home again, neck some grub then out to do a spot of gardening...... was a weed - HONEST!
Had enough of that, time for abit more of this......
......ahhhh a ball, that's more like it!

Back home for a spot of housework......
......ooohhh not a good look, that's what the human says you get when you put your snout in the cats litter tray!

Time for a bit more of this.  This is where I can be found, sleeping in the study whilst the human is at her desk working.
Off out to do a bit of stick hunting, this one will do nicely thank you very much!
That job done, it's back home for some grub and lots more of this......
......which is usually where I can be found from about 9.30pm onwards!

Note from my human: It's a dogs life hey! Hope this made you smile on this autumnal Saturday afternoon!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

So what's in a blog?

That is the question, do you know the answer?

I have read various blogs for a very long time, but it is only in the past month that I decided to dip my own toe in to the water and lay myself out there for all to see. I'm still not quite sure why I've done it.  I am a shy and very private person by nature.  So to put myself OUT THERE in such a public manner is quite alien to me. Maybe it's because I saw some beautiful blogs which inspired me and I hoped I could in turn inspire others.  I don't know.

I, like many of you, have my favourite blogs and each one I generally follow for a different reason.  Sometimes it's the photography which draws me, sometimes it's the content and the way it's worded, other times it's because I follow that blogger on youtube, but one thing I do know is I LOVE IT whenever bloglovin' lets me know one of my favourites has written a new post.

But why do some blogs appear to get such huge followings?  I'm not naming any names but you see some and the layout of their blog isn't the best, the grammer and content leaves a lot to be desired and they are just a bit eurgh, but still they appear to have some kind of cult following.  Is anyone with me on this one?  Likewise I see many blogs out there which have been going for a while and they really should have more followers because they are just fab.

Don't get me wrong I am in no way jealous of the big blogs, I am way too long in the tooth for that and I don't think I would feel comfortable with thousands of followers.  I am happy that anyone is interested in and is following my blog at all. I'm not even sure where this blog will go, it's still in its infancy.

So really the answer to the question that I am looking for is, what makes you follow certain blogs?  Is it because the blogger is a similar age to you? Is it because they appear to have a similar lifestyle and interests to you? Is it because they are big in the blogger/youtube world? or that blogger is someone you aspire to emulate?

I would love to know your thoughts.

Monday, 12 November 2012

NOTD - Essie 'Dive Bar' review

Dive Bar by Essie

If you've read my previous posts or follow me on Twitter you will know of my love of Essie nail polishes.

I first saw a tweet by Rachael from Made up of regarding this polish and as it was on 3 for 2 at Boots at the time, I rushed in and got my mitts on this.

In the bottle it is the most gorgeous of gorgeous shades.  It looks like the colours of a peacock or spilled oil, all glistening emerald greens, petrol blues and iridescent purples.  Unfortunately I found it does not translate as such onto your nails.  Yes the colour is shimmering with high shine, yes it IS a stunningly beautiful shade.  In some lights it looks blue and in others green, but where is the purple?  As Essie describe this colour as a mysterious blackest blue with shimmer I should have known that there was to be no purple in it and I now believe, after showing the bottle to Mr B.P., that it is just an illusion of light against glass. What a total shame!
After 2 days a little tip wear on ring finger

This shade is so glam and I would have been chuffed if it appeared in the bottle as it does on my nails, but as it doesn't and as I just can't get that gorgeous purple hue out of my mind, for me this is 'nail fail'.

I think to make it work for me I am going to have to layer it with a shimmer/glimmer top coat to keep me happy.  What would you guys recommend as a complimentary top coat?

Do you have any 'nail fails'? Which polishes did you rush out to buy only to be disappointed?

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Autumn yumminess

This is one of my all-time favourite easy dinners for autumn, so I thought I would share.

Roasted butternut squash with bacon, serves 2, prepare 10 minutes, cook 60 minutes.

You will need:
1butternut squash, halved
1tsp olive oil
6 tbsp creme fraiche
3 rashers smoked bacon, roughly chopped
1 and a half tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
half a tsp black pepper, coarsely ground

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.  Cut the squash lengthways then scoop out the seeds.  You can toast these if you want but I never bother - I'm a lazy bum.  With a small knife, deeply score the flesh in a crisscross pattern.  (Make sure you do deeply score the flesh otherwise it'll take until next autumn to cook - slight exaggeration I know but you get the picture.

2. Place the 2 halves on a baking sheet, cut side up, brush with the oil and season lightly with salt and roast for 35-40 minutes until the flesh feels quite tender when pierced with a knife - to be honest I find I have to roast it for longer than this as I like my flesh pretty pulpy but each to their own.
Before roasting

 3. Spoon the creme fraiche over the 2 pieces of butternut squash and scatter with the bacon, parmesan and black pepper.
Looks a bit anemic here but trust me!
4. Return to the oven for 15-20 minutes until the topping is bubbling.
As you can see I just serve it up with a simple salad garnish.  It's quite a filling meal and sometimes (ssshhhh) I use more creme fraiche, parmesan and bacon than stated.

So give it a bash if ya fancy.  Will guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Blooper - so glad this wasn't for a youtube video as when I was carefully sliding it onto the plate, the flipping thing slide off the spatula and landed top down.  Creme fraiche, cheese and bacon EVERYWHERE!!! (Hence the small amount of splattered topping you can see on the salad!).


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

i heart fall tag

So I was tagged by the gorgeous Sarah over at Ample Curvature to do this tag which has been doing the rounds on Youtube and blogs recently.  If you haven't seen Sarah's blog pop over and take a peek, it's fab!  As a brit I call Fall Autumn, so please don't get confused if I drop the odd Autumn in here and there lovely North American viewers!

Right lets crack on with it...

1. Favourite fall lip product?
I get really dry lips in the Autumn, like many others, from a drop in temperature and the good old heating coming on, but I have been loving my Figs and Rouge 100% organic lip balm which came in my Glossybox a few months ago.
I'm a sucker for anything organic and this cherry and vanilla balm goes on sooooo smoothly and is really hydrating.  Unfortunately I've been forgoing any of the beautiful deep plum and burgandy lip colours which are so popular this A/W, for if you've read my previous It's all about Meeeeeee post you will note I have the six month smiles braces.  Which for those who don't know is like traditional train track braces but they are clear.  Which is great but they stain oh so easily.  You know what it's like when you get a smear of lippy on your teeth, well imagine what it looks like on clear braces - Nice (not!).

2. Favourite Fall nail polish?
Currently I am in love with these, Essie's Bahama Mama and Models Own Hot Stuff.
Two coats of Essie and a slick of Models Own and you get this.
The Essie polish is such a bang on the money colour for this season and with the coat of Models Own which gives a gorgeous red, green, golden shimmer it reminds me of fallen leaves on a crisp autumnal day.  I am loving this so much I think it will get much wear over the party season.  It's a pretty good wear time as well considering it has a glitter topcoat; 3-4 days which is about the same as my normal polishes.

3. Favourite Starbucks Fall drink?
Hmmmm I don't really frequent Starbucks.  Purely because my nearest one is a good 45 minute drive away.  I do have a Costa Coffee about 10 minutes down the road and I stick to my usual latte or Chai latte if I pop in there.  Boring I know!

4. Favourite Fall candle?
Ahhh now candles, unlike Starbucks, are my thing!  I do a lot of work and study from home so I usually have one candle or another burning away on my desk and I do like to stick to seasonal scents.  I've just come to the end of my Mandarin Cranberry Yankee candle and on the good word of the lovely Rachael over at Made up of  (check out her blog too if you haven't already) I picked up Yankee's Honey and Spice candle.  Oh my! If you like toffee apples, sticky toffee pudding, caramel and pecan pie, this will be right up your street.  I got it earlier today and have been burning it nonstop.  If you like sweetness with your spice, try this candle, you will not be disappointed.
5. Favourite Fall scarf or accessory?
This one is easy.  I got this beautiful teal scarf from Boden's A/W sale either last year or the year before.  I just love the richness of its colour and it is so warm.
6. Haunted house, haunted hay ride or haunted corn maize?
I know what these are and that they are big in the states but Halloween isn't such a big deal in the UK (yet!).  Also I don't like to be scared, I'm not a big one for scary movies etc so I would have to say Haunted house.  I saw the film Children of the Corn a few years back and almost peed my pants so Haunted corn maize would be bottom of the list!

7. Favourite Halloween movie?
As I mentioned above I'm not a great one for scary movies but I would probably have to say the original Halloween film.  The one from 1978 starring Jamie Lee Curtis - "A psychotic murderer institutionalized since childhood for the murder of his sister, escapes and stalks a bookish teenage girl and her friends while his doctor chases him through the streets" - yep that movie.  I watched it as a teenager, not in 1978, blimey I'm not that old!  And the memory of it has stayed with me ever since.

8. Favourite candy to eat on Halloween?
I am a sweet toothed kinda gal.  I do love the Haribo sour (can't remember their full name) sweets, but any sweets/chocolate is fine by me and I am a sucker for toasted marshmallows dipped in melted chocolate - ummmmmmm.

9. What are you dressing up as for Halloween?
Well as Halloween has been and gone, I'm abit late with that one.  But I didn't dress up at all as I was busy flying back from Amsterdam on the 31st.  Think I would've struggled to get through security if I had dressed up though ha ha.

10. What is your favourite thing about fall?
I like it when Mr B.P. and I have a rare, (very rare) day off together and you get one of those really crisp autumnal days, with a beautiful clear blue sky, with just a nip in the air.  I like to wrap up warmly, take our dog for a walk through the fallen leaves and maybe stop for a hot chocolate enroute and then come home and curl up on the sofa with either a good book or film.

So what about you lovely readers?  I tag all of you.  Let me know all about your I heart Fall tags.

Friday, 2 November 2012

It's all about MEEEEEEEE

Just some random facts about little old me!

  1. I have braces (again).  I am doing the six month smile system to re-straighten my gnashers. I am two months in. It seems like forever but I know it will be worth it.
  2. I am terrified and I mean terrified, break out in a cold sweat kind of way, by submarines and any type of machinery which is underwater.
  3. I was once propositioned by a very famous and very married man (please don't ask whom as I won't tell out of respect to his wife)
  4. Spring is my favourite season.  New growth and the possibility of things to come.
  5. I make the best bread and butter pudding in the world - FACT!
  6. I have very short hair - think Michelle Williams.
  7. My nickname as a child was Flossie, named by my Mum as she said - if I didn't have my head in a book then it was in the clouds.
  8. I fail miserably at getting a sponge cake to rise.
  9. I have a little O.C.D. when it comes to the styling of my home.
  10. I play the piano - BADLY!   

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Loves and Loathes - October

Whoah two posts in one day, I must be cooking on gas!  OK I know this is a bit late for October but if you've read the post below you will see I've been globetrotting!

Anyway, this is something I am going to try and do at the end of each month - my loves and loathes. It will be a random collection of all things I have liked and disliked for that month, so it could include, films, books, food, drink, fashion, make-up - pretty much anything goes.

Ok lets get too it......
First up is my read - South Riding by Winifred Holtby.  There was the adaptation of this on telly last year I think, starring Nathaniel Parker.  I'm usually a read the book first, watch the film/adaptation later, kind of gal but when this came out on t.v. I am ashamed to say I hadn't heard of it, so watched it, totally enjoyed it and when I saw the book in my local bookshop thought I have to read it.

'When Sarah Burton returns to her hometown as headmistress she is full of ambition, determined to create a successful school and to inspire her girls to take all they can from life.  But in the aftermath of the First World War, the country is in depression and ideals are hard won.  Lydia Holly, the scholarship girl from the shacks, is the most brilliant student Sarah has ever taught, but when her mother's health fails, her education must be sacrificed.  Robert Carne of Maythorpe Hall stands for everything Sarah despises: his family has farmed the South Riding for generations, its position uncontested.  Yet Sarah cannot help being drawn to this proud, haunted - and almost ruined - man.  South Riding is a rich, panoramic novel, bringing vividly to life a rural community on the brink of change'.

I would say if you've seen the adaptation and liked it then you will like the book even more.

Yankee Candle in Mandarin Cranberry.  This is such a nice mix and I've been burning it since the end of summer (when did summer actually start let alone end?!) as it is the perfect blend of summer and autumn scents.  I started burning this after reluctantly putting away my Wax Lyrical Cottage Garden candle, which is my favourite candle of all time.

My final love is Yves Rocher Instant Anti-wrinkle Moisturizer.  Like many I got this in my October Glossybox  I have found it to be a really fresh scented easily absorbed moisturiser.  Although not so sure about the Anti-Wrinkle properties LOL.

My one loath of the month is MUA's Undressed eyeshadow pallette.  I know this is big in the beauty blogging world and is a great price at only £4.00 (currently £3.00) at Superdrug but there just weren't enough matte shadows in it for me and worse still I 'think' I might have be slightly allergic to it.  I've used a couple of the colours a couple of times and both times it has made my eyes water slightly.

This means I am very reluctant to use it again.  I have only used a couple of the colours and swatched a couple of others, so I am GIVING THIS AWAY!!!!!! If someone out there would like this then just drop me an email with your details and I will pop it in the post to you.  Don't all rush at once but first come first served so to speak.

So what have you been loving and loathing in October?


So I have been M.I.A. for the past few days.  My reason being??? I have been having a fantastic time in AMSTERDAM!!! with Mr B.P. and friends.  This was our first time in Amsterdam and I have to say I loved it (except for the bicycles).  Sorry the pics are so grainy but I didn't take my fancy-shmancy camera with me so the few photos I did snap come courtesy of my blackberry.

We stayed near the Jordaan area of the city so we were right in the thick of it, which meant we were able to walk everywhere.  If you haven't been, and I didn't know before we went, but Amsterdam isn't really a car friendly kind of place. Over 50 percent of transport is undertaken by bike and boy are they mental on those two wheels!!  I could be wrong but there doesn't appear to be any kind of right of way at the junctions and they will ring their bell before quite happily ploughing you down!! I got used to it but Mr B.P. had a few near misses!
So I have to say the 'bike issue' is the only thing I can think of which I didn't like about the city.

The Amsterdamers are generally a very attractive and very tall race, at only 5'3" I felt very small!!  They are also very sharp dressers in an understated "oh this old thing I just threw on, when actually I planned my entire outfit for a very long time beforehand" kind of way.  With lots of very muted colours.  I don't remember seeing much bright and/or patterned clothing at all.  I love to see how different countries dress and their trends don't you?

We did all the usual touristy things (minus the drugs) and basically had a fab old time.  I can highly recommend a walking tour of the city.  The one we went on was free, just donations at the end.  We had a lovely guy called Julian who was actually Australian but who had fallen in love with a dutch girl back in Sydney and had followed her back to her homeland - not in a stalky kind of way!! and now 3 years later they are happily ensconced together in Holland.  He gave us a real insight into true Amsterdam.
I didn't manage to get many pics of the inside of the apartment we rented (too busy out having fun!) but it was very cool.
There is great food, shopping, nightlife, culture and fun to be had in Amsterdam (ooh hark at me I sound like the tourist board!).  So if you haven't been I would highly recommend it, it's only 1 hour flight away and most of the dutch appear to speak english which is a bonus!

So have you been to Amsterdam? If so what did you think? And where do you recommend we head to next?