Tuesday, 31 May 2016

May Favourites


I always look forward to the end of the month for two reasons. One is pay day (thank the lord) and the other is favourites posts! The format is a very popular one and I really enjoy having a nosey at what people have been wearing, buying, reading, watching and eating that month. In fact, I like them so much I've decided to start doing them myself.

Admittedly, I decided this about half an hour ago, and the above photo definitely reflects the horribly autumnal drizzle that's been hanging around all day. You really wouldn't know its June tomorrow! This month has been a weird one for me with a few ups and downs, but it's ended in mine and Mat's birthdays and some good old-fashioned boozy BBQ fun with our friends so it's not all bad!

So, without further ado, here's what I've been loving in the month of May:

That 70s Show

It somewhat passed me by when it was actually aired on TV as I was slightly too young, but I recently discovered That 70s Show is on Netflix in its entirety and boy did I miss out. Even Mat finds it hilarious, which is saying something considering he can't stand most of my TV choices (but seriously, what's wrong with a bit of Pretty Little Liars every now and then?). It's nostalgic not only for its 70s vibes but also for looking back on the young cast, which includes Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis. I'd recommend a marathon to anyone needing a bit of a pick-me-up!

HydrateM8 Infuser Bottle

My bezzie mate Sophie bought me this as part of my birthday present and I love it! I'm a big fan of lemon water but in a regular bottle its a pain to try and squeeze them in and then have to try and get them out too, so the chamber will make that much easier. It's also a whopping 900ml and features little markers on one side to remind you when to drink and when to refill. I've been a bit lax with my fluid intake lately despite being a lot more active in the gym, so this will help get me back on track!

Parlor Detangling Spray

I received a sample of this delicious smelling stuff in my April Birchbox and I have to say it might be worth purchasing the full size. Having had my hair bleached and chopped recently I'm keen to treat it as gently as possible when it comes to styling, and the almond extract in this really helps my tangle teaser slide through without any breakage.

New Look Cold Shoulder Top

I'm not usually that into summer style, but the current off-the-shoulder and cold shoulder looks are so beautiful and boho that I couldn't help but get on the bandwagon. I picked up this white number in New Look yesterday and love the floaty fit and black embroidery, but annoyingly I can't find it anywhere online! This one and this one are similar, plus I also purchased this black one from ASOS last week. They look great with jeans but also with denim shorts!

Dr Pawpaw Balm

I first heard about Paw Paw balm when a friend brought some back from Australia and was absolutely raving about how much it had helped her chapped, sunburned lips. After winter weather and way too many a matte lip product just about did mine in I purchased a tube and haven't looked back. I now apply it for half an hour prior to putting on lippy, to act as a conditioner, and it's improved my once flaky lips no end. You can also use it to tame and condition brows, among other things.

Clinique Anti-Blemish Clearing Gel

I've spoken recently about a few new products that had been helping my currently very spot prone skin (read: mild adult acne which I really didn't think I'd still have at the ripe age of 24), but this is the one treatment that I always go back to when I need a breakout to clear up fast. It's very drying on the spot itself but not harsh on the surrounding skin.

Mac Velvet Teddy

I finally picked up a Mac Velvet Teddy lipstick in the airport when we left for Amsterdam, and I can really see what all the fuss was about. It's a gorgeous nude colour and the wear is excellent. If it's a bit out of your price range for a lipstick, then Rimmel's 08 Kate Moss shade is probably the closest I've seen to a match, if a little cooler in tone and not quite as long lasting.

Have you tried out any of the above? What have your favourites been this month?
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Thursday, 19 May 2016

Amsterdam on a budget

City breaks are notoriously difficult to pull off when you only have limited funds, but that doesn't mean it's not doable! Last week I headed to the Dutch canal city of Amsterdam for a 4 night break with eight of my friends, and it's safe to say our funds were fairly limited.

To save on initial expenses we got our return flights via Easyjet for £50 a piece and stayed in an ibis Budget hotel just outside the city. The hotel wasn't glamorous, but it was clean, comfy and convenient. And our big savings didn't stop there. I thought I'd share my top tips for enjoying yourself here without breaking the bank.




Hit the streets

Amsterdam's beautiful canals and many different neighborhoods make for great wandering. We admittedly did spend a fair amount of our walking time getting lost, as unfortunately our guide map was a bit out of date, so maybe hit Google Maps up if you're trying to find something specific! Walking is a great way to save on transport, however the many trams and bus services are also affordable.




Pre-book popular attractions (and seek out free ones)

Our trip was very relaxed and more about drinks and suspicious brownies than it was museums and galleries (although the Sex Museum was a head turner and I'm now scarred for life), so I'll definitely return to Amsterdam just me and Mat to explore popular attractions like the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum by ourselves. We did notice a lot of queues for the likes of the Anne Frank and Rembrandt houses, which are open to the public but as a result unbelievably popular. For these I'd advise pre-booking tickets online. Be careful to go directly though the attraction and not a third party seller or you could end up paying a hiked up price.There are plenty of free things to do too that cater for all tastes.

One attraction that we all really loved was the Heineken Experience. for a mere €14 we were there for about two and a half hours and it was much more than just a brewery tour. On arrival you're given a bracelet with two tokens attached, which to our delight could be exchanged for beers at various points on the tour, and in the brewery itself staff were on hand to tell us all about how the famous lager is brewed.

There are tonnes of things to do within the building, from pulling and bottling your own pints to playing PS4 and testing out the power of your rugby tackle, plus (of course) a gift shop. We also sampled an exclusive new brew that's yet to launch here in the UK and it was delish.



Seek out a cheap beverage

If, like many, you're visiting Amsterdam for a bit of a knees up, you'll probably get a shock when it comes to the beer prices. They can be in excess of €7-8 per glass and the metric system gets you slightly less bang for your buck per milliliter, too. By being a bit more adventurous with our bar choices, keeping off the beaten track we found some more reasonably priced places. Our favourite was Wonder Bar, which is a very relaxed, cosy place we returned to three times. We also hit up a Lidl and a few mini-marts during our stay as the weather was so nice we were able to sit outside.

I have to admit that doing somewhere like this on a budget really had me worried before we arrived, but we ended up discovering that, being the relaxed, chilled city that it is, Amsterdam is relatively friendly to the tighter purse strings!

Are you planning to visit any time soon?
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Saturday, 7 May 2016

Sticks'n'Sushi


Last night I was invited to try out the brand new branch of Sticks N Sushi in Cambridge. I enjoy Japanese cuisine but tend to stay firmly over on the meaty side as I'm not particularly into fish, so I was interested to see how their menu measured up for someone like me.

Before we get to the food, let me say that a lovely job has been done on the decor - chic and modern, not too dark, not sterile. It was just right for the setting. So much so that I forgot to turn away from my plate and take a decent snap of the room! This is where the restaurants Danish origins really show themselves - Nordic regions really know how to do their interiors.


Our waitress was extremely attentive and explained in detail what everything was as we were unfamiliar with some of the dishes - idea for a fish phobic such as myself! They also had a range of Japanese drinks available, including beer which Mat seemed to enjoy!

Our menu was a preview so although we could request not to have certain items it was then up to the chef what to provide us with. I decided to be brave and only request that we didn't have salmon (yuck!), and we were very impressed with the range available.


After a delicious starter of tempura prawns (known here as Ebi Bites) and edamame we were presented with a few different dishes, some fishy and some not. I plucked up the courage to try the Sashimi dish which was yellow tail tuna, and was pleasantly surprised! My favourite by far though was the bacon-wrapped scallops - again I'd never tried these before but the flavours were just beautiful!



Dessert was also a highlight. We were served a miniature cheesecake and a rhubarb sorbet, which although small really packed in the flavour. I believe you can order these individually or choose a selection (I know which I'd go for!).

A special shout-out should also go to the restaurants feedback forms, which take the form of a story in which you fill in the blanks. It was actually quite a fun activity - a great way to hold the customer's attention and get yourself some reviews!


The full menu at Sticks N Sushi Cambridge is available from today. You can check it out here.


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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Cutting your hair shorter




The last time I got a drastically different haircut was about three years ago. I got a heavy block fringe cut in, found it hard to style and then a few months later also got my long lengths cut to shoulder length. It wasn't a great cut, done at a high street salon by a girl that openly admitted she had a whopping hangover. I hated the blunt finish and my then dyed black colour washed me out and sort of made it look like a wig.



So I did what I tend to do after a bad hair decision and decided to go almost a year without a haircut. It got very long, quite thick and heavy and generally a bit lifeless. After finally deciding to visit my friend Phie's home salon and get it tidied up I began thinking about chopping it all off.

I used Pinterest as inspiration for my lob-style chop, as there are tonnes and tonnes of images on there that helped me describe my ideal cut. It also made me want to go in for a lighter tone as my natural hair is quite dark. We settled on a 'sombre' style for this, which didn't take long at all as it had been so long since I last coloured it. That's definitely something to bare in mind as if you have residue from previous dying still in the hair the finish will be much more orangey. I could've gone a bit lighter but we played it safe to start with.

As someone who has always had a bit of a fear of the hairdresser's chair I can safely say I'm so glad I put my trust in Phie. I'm glad I bit the bullet after wanting to for so long and looking back at older photos like the one above I feel like a totally different person! Although I'll need it cut a bit more often it's so much easier to dry and style. I'd recommend a long bob to just about anyone as it's feminine but very 'put together' and tidy looking even when styled with loose curls.

If you're mulling over getting yours cut, my advice is to find lots of inspiration online and book in with a stylist you can really trust.

Have you had a dramatic restyle recently? Did you cut yours even short than mine? Let me know in the comments below!
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