31 March 2014

#rainbownailsblog - green

It's green week for the #rainbownailsblog project, and quite a fun one for me because for some reason a lot of my favourite polished happen to be green of varying shades, and this one - A England's St George - might just be my absolute number one! Such a gorgeous, deep, rich colour - would you believe that's only one coat?!
a england st george

I'm not sure if it was the shade name or the mystical colour that made me think 'dragon scales' but that's the look I've attempted to recreate (I always feel like I have to make it clear what I was going for, in case it's impossible to tell from the pictures - I never said I was good at this!). I drew on some haphazard scales (yes, I see that they are all different sized across the nails.... I did that  on purpose... for a really good reason.... I'm just not telling you what that reason is.... yeah).

green nail sparkles

Having done that I remembered this very glittery Nail Rock pot of sparkles that I received not long back in a Birchbox and it seemed like a grand time to crack it open! As this pretty much coats the whole nail and I didn't want to hide away the gorgeous green that had inspired me in the first place so opted to make this a feature nail instead.  It comes with a clear polish that you paint on then just dip your nail into the pot and the sequins will stick to the wet coat!
I was a bit worried about them all falling off but 24 hours after first sparkling up, I still seem to have a pretty solid covering of them on my nail (though not as thick as that first one!), with the only 'bald patches' being quite near the tip - and since I seem to chip polish like crazy at the best of times, I don't think that's too bad. I can imagine trying to get this off would present quite the challenge though, especially if you had it on all your nails!
And that's my green! Next week is orange and as usual, I'm short of ideas - if you have any inspiring suggestions send them my way!

30 March 2014

Sunday Soak - Bomb Cosmetics, Castles In The Sky

Last weekend we took our annual trip to one of Haven Holidays finest UK caravan parks, this time finding ourselves at Blue Dolphin on the Yorkshire Coast. March isn't always the ideal time for caravanning in the North of England like, but I always figured the massive discounts to be had by booking for the first weekend of the season instead of in the height of summer (where you still can't guarantee good weather anyway!) make up for the slight chill factor, and I always pack plenty of blankets!

This year though, I thought we'd do alright - the winter generally has been pretty gentle on us up here, and the weekend wasn't looking too bad at all, the sun was even shining! That was of course until we tried hitting the beach.... now it was never going to be sunbathing weather, but thought a nice little wander and some sandcastle making would really help that 'we're on holiday' vibe.... til it started snowing! Snowing! On my beach holiday!

I wouldn't have minded so much if we'd  had any when we were supposed to, but no - an unexpected flurry in late March after none all winter was not what I had in mind!

Anyway, so far this has pretty much all been a long winded introduction to this weeks soaky thing - Bomb Cosmetics Sandcastles In The Sand.

sandcastle for the bath

Since I was more or less denied any sandcastle making on my holiday, this is pretty much the bath-time equivalent. It's so cute, and smells just like holidays! (By which I mean it smells of coconut and pineapple - reminiscent of suncream and sunshine, so not really like many British holidays I've actually had!)

Unfortunately this cute little fella doesn't seem to be available on the Bomb Cosmetics site anymore, but there's an insane amount of stuff on there to choose, mainly priced between two and three pounds for the bath stuff. 

Now I just need better weather! 

27 March 2014

Online Pharmacy Fun with Farmaline

When I was offered the chance to try some exciting European Pharmacy products from Farmaline, I obviously jumped at the chance. Instead of picking an item directly from the online store, I discussed with the lovely Philippe what particular hair and skin concerns I had, and let the professionals recommend something! 

Though my skin is far from perfect, its my hair that is the main source of my beauty related troubles. I explained to Philippe about my thick, dry, curly and generally quite unruly hair, and I was pointed in the direction of the Rene Furterer Karite Intense Revitalising Cream.

Best products for thick curly hair

As a dry-haired lady, intense conditioners are right up my street so I was very happy to take the recommendation! This silicone free hair mask contains a boatload of shea butter, as well as quince pectin grains for smoothing and moisturising. The instructions suggest leaving it on for 2-5 minutes before rinsing it off but I've left it on for anywhere up to 20 minutes at  a time depending on what I'm doing at the time (I get easily distracted!). Its a lovely smelling cream, and not bad looking either - I know it doesn't really make an actual difference but the nice yellow colour of this makes a change from the usual white of many of the similar products I've used. The fact that the product itself isn't overly shiny makes me trust it more, though I cant exactly tell you why! 

french hair care for dry hair

This has done absolute wonders for my hair! It just really feels in much better condition for having been using it, and so it looks better too - still a little wild (I think it always will) but much softer and more well behaved! It's £14.15 for the tube but I've already got several uses out of it with plenty left, and for the results it gives me it's a price I'm more than happy to pay! I can definitely see this being part of my hair-care routine for a long time to come!

french beauty products

I also mentioned that my skin veers towards the dry side in my emails with Philippe, who kindly popped in a couple of extra bits to help with that too. The Biocyte Hydrating Mask is definitely amongst the most fun masks I've ever tried! when you take the sheet out of the packet it feels a bit like wet gooey paper... unfold it and peel off one layer of the backing paper and you can stick it to your face (it has holes for all the important parts like eyes!), then peel off the backing paper on the other side and you are left with a weird gel-like mask.

Once I got the hang of it it adhered pretty well to my face so I could just go about my business with it on (though I was in the house alone, didn't want to scare anyone!) I left this stuck to me for around 20 minutes, after which I was a little reluctant to take it off since I'd gotten so cosy with it - you can really feel the moisture soaking into your skin! I wasn't sure if you were supposed to rinse your face after removal but I felt like I needed one so that's what I did, followed by a little pat dry! This mask boasts hyaluronic acid, elastine and collegen amongst its ingredients, so it should come as no surprise that this gave my skin a much needed boost - it left me feeling much softer and more supple! Unlike the hair mask though, unfortunately for me the price is a bit more of an issue here - this is £8.36 per mask and while the results were impressive, they weren't impressive enough for me to fork this out on a regular basis.

french skincare

Also in my little box from Philippe was a sample of this Galenic Intense Moisturing Elixir - a skin product so light it doesn't feel entirely dissimilar to just putting water on your face, but instead of drying my poor skin out like water does, it gives it a super extra hydration kick! 

I also received a Farmaline lip balm in my little box - and though I'm always very happy to have lip balm I'm afraid I've already lost this one to my son! It's a lot less girly-looking than many others I own so he feels a bit cooler using this one... I did get to try it a couple of times before he pinched it though and found it very creamy and moisturising! 

Farmaline, a Belgium based online pharamcy, specialise in making those 'hard to find' brands a lot easier to find! As well as those brands every one has heard of but might not be able to get their mitts on (La Roche Posay, Bioderma), they carry a whole range of brands that are new to me at least, like all the ones included here! Shipping is free over 75 euros too, so I might have to try out a couple of new brands again when the time comes to re-stock my new favourite hair mask! Not only that, but they seem a dab-hand at recommending the right products for your skin and hair woes - give it a go on twitter and see what they think you'd benefit from! 

Tea at Lewis and Cooper, Northallerton

After a mini-panic the other week about haw far behind I had fallen on the tea trail, I figured I needed to get my skates on so I pulled out the map to see what took my fancy! I spotted a little cluster of tea spots in Northallerton and, being unfamiliar with the town, thought I'd just head up and see which I came to first!

deli and cafe northallerton

The first one I came across was Lewis and Cooper, and I was so excited by the prospect of the little tea room upstairs that I even managed to walk past all the delights on display in the downstairs Deli! (The same can not be said for my way out, where I couldn't bring myself to leave without at least picking up a thing or two!)
lewis cooper northallerton tea

I obviously opted for a nice pot of tea - which came with extra hot water for topping up, as well as frequent offers of a fresh pot but I had more than enough to be going on with! I figured since we got there about lunch time I should actually have some proper food instead of just diving straight on in with the cake! I was tempted by the 'Yorkshire Rabbit' - an absolutely dreamy concoction of local cheese and other good stuff melted on a toasted muffin. Simple pleasures are often the best and this was a taste sensation, strong and tangy and just a little bit spicy. There's also the option of having this with bacon which I reckon would be pretty amazing! I also love the fact that I was asked if I wanted any dressing on my salad, instead of them just loading it on regardless. I love a nice fresh salad but I'm really not into dressings and sauces and creams, so it was grand to have the opportunity to eat this unencumbered with unnecessary extras!

fancy cheese on toast

The cake selection was amazing - but for me it had to be the Honey and Lavender cake! Huge as it was delicious, dense and moist and served with a little pot of cream on the side. This took some eating after the 'Rabbit', but I'm not one to be beaten by cake! Fortunately for me, my tea-companion for the day was so I also got a good taste of the White Chocolate Orange cake at Lewis and Cooper too. This again was really tasty, the sponge itself lighter than my one, but with icing so deliciously sweet that I think I might have struggled to finish the whole thing too - one slice of this to share would be pretty spot on though!

pretty cakes in northallerton

If you are ever in Northallerton I can heartily recommend popping into Lewis & Cooper, and if you can't make it to the tea room you can always say hello on twitter or treat yourself to some yummy bits from the store

26 March 2014

Bellevue Tea

I was recently sent some lovely teas from Bellevue Tea, which I have been enjoying at work for the last few weeks! 

The little boxes of tea they sent are so handsome; neat and compact with clear, bright packaging, the teabags individually wrapped 'for freshness' (but doesn't this always make them just feel a bit 'fancier' too, like you are drinking them while staying at a nice hotel?)

rooibos and english breakfast teabags

I was sent two boxes of tea bags, the English Breakfast tea and the Rooibos. The English Breakfast is a great 'everyday tea', and has become a go-to for when the fancy flavoured ones we've been enjoying recently were a bit too much. I asked my brother what he thought of it and his assessment was clear and to the point, so I thought I'd share it with you: 'When it comes to 'normal' tea, the only real distinction is whether its a good one or a rubbish one. This is a good one'. Bellevue were a bit more poetic with their description: 'The robust character and warm colour of the high grown Kenyan tea, from the cool slopes of Mount Kenya, is perfectly balanced by the lighter, more fragrant Sri Lankan tea. A delicious and truly fortifying blend, to be enjoyed at breakfast and throughout the day'.

I deemed this good enough to be my only source of tea on a recent family weekend away (a weekend full of tiredness and coldness, where tea was not only a source of pleasure but an absolute necessity), demonstrating my absolute faith in this particular blend to get me through! 

tea bag with tags

The English Breakfast was an absolutely grand every day brew, but I loved the Rooibos. I've only ever really dabbled in rooibos before, but out of all the plain, non-flavoured rooibos I've tried, this might be my favourite... maybe something to do with the fact that this seems sweeter than others, but a 'natural' seeming sweetness, rather than an artificial sugary taste!

Though I generally have milk in tea where applicable, I'm more than happy to drink this rooibos (red bush) without, as it has a real sweet smooth taste even without it. It's a calming cuppa too, great for bedtime (no caffeine!) or just for helping get through stressful work days!

nice big tea cup

As well as these nicely packaged tea bags, I was also sent a pack of their loose Very Berry tea. On opening this pack I was hit with the strongest, loveliest berry scent, and was pleased to see a great amount of real dried berries in here. When left to infuse for a few minutes, this concoction results in the most vibrant red colour and maintains that juicy aroma. Sadly, this one just isn't really for me - the hot berries taste just reminded me a bit too much of blackcurrant lemsip to be hugely enjoyable! Not bad, by any stretch, but my least favourite of the three here. If you are into fruity berry teas though this might be right up your street! 

bellevue very berry

Since mainly drinking loose leaf tea at work over recent months, I have been running the risk of becoming a bit of a tea snob, so I very much appreciate the reminder that you can still get a grand old brew out of a teabag! There's a whole range of teas, both in and out of bags, available from Bellevue, who you can say hello to on twitter here

25 March 2014

Barburrito and Amigos Masterclass

Last weekend I had the very exciting opportunity to pop along to Barburrito in Leeds for a Burrito-making masterclass, with Amigos tequila flavoured beer to wash down our creations! 

Amigos tequila beer

We got settled on our stools in the otherwise-closed Boar Lane branch of Barburrito (that's a new one if you are already familiar with the more established site on the Headrow), where we met Kate from Amigos who introduced us to our featured beverage for the evening! Now, much as I was excited to try this, I was also a wee bit wary. I like beer, and I don't have anything against Tequila, but my only attempt at this two-in-one drink effect was an unappreciated room-temperature bottle of 'Desperado' at a house party in my youth. I just wasn't keen. But thankfully Amigos is a much more palatable option! 

best beer to drink with burritos

A fat wedge of lime helped any initial fears as I thought the juicy addition would take the edge off any unpleasant taste, but Amigos proved highly drinkable - so much so that I was happy to ditch the lime and enjoy the fresh flavour of subsequent bottles! 

Around the same time as I polished off my first bottle, we were presented with a tasting tray of the burrito ingedients! I bravely (or foolishly) went straight in for a dip of the hottest salsa, which may have slightly affected the taste of everything that came after it! The idea was to try and spot the individual flavours in the filling pots, but after salsa-ing my tongue it was a bit harder for me identify any delicate flavours for a while!

whats in a barburrito

Though the intricacies of everything were lost on me, I definitely got a broader sense of what tasted good - which was pretty much everything! This also helped narrow down which of the ingredients I might want to chuck in my burrito! 

After a burrito-folding practice session - which I was really bad at - it was time to get down to business and put together something I could actually eat. When it came to fold mine, I was still really bad at it, so I did have to get a bit of help from one of the lovely Barburrito professionals, who made it loo like it wasn't the trickiest thing in the world! I have a wealth of respect for the staff here who apparently serve up one of these bad boys every 25 seconds - it took me longer that that to figure out what meat I wanted in mine, nevermind wrap the whole thing up into a nice little bundle! I don't think they'll be offering me a job anytime soon....

burrito blogger event

Saying that, it turns out I make a delicious Burrito, so maybe they should offer me a job after all? People might have to wait a bit but some things in life are worth waiting for! 

While we all finished up eating we had a chance to learn a bit more about the brand. One of my favourite things about Barburrito is that they opened their first branch in Manchester - its always exciting to get something 'first', instead of brands moving up north after being settled in London for some time first. That's not my absolute favourite thing though, that has to be the taste - yum! 

I had so much fun learning about and eating burritos, and learning about and drinking Amigos, in a cosy, friendly blogger environment - and I have been craving another burrito since I left so I'll definitely be back! 

24 March 2014

Happy Mothers Day From Monsoon

Mothers Day is one of my favourite days of the year. I love to go off adventuring with my pair, and even though we don't always do anything too far  different to a lot of other weekends we just always seem to have a good time. I don't know if its because they are on special behaviour because they think they have to be, or because I appreciate them that much more when I'm reminded to, but somehow it all comes together beautifully and has led to a some of my favourite days out.
I always cherish my mothers day presents too - which at this stage are happily still hand-painted items made at school: glitter covered cardboard picture frames, hand crafted paper flowers, and lots and lots of lovely drawing and paintings!
I'm sure it wont be long before they are too 'grown up' to make me gifts, but thankfully Monsoon are on hand to make sure there are still loads of lovely gift options that will be (almost) as well-appreciated! I asked my two what they would pick for me and these are their choices:

They know I love owls so I guess the Owl Decoration (£5) was a fairly obvious choice, and the Slate Heart Coasters (£8) are so pretty too!

If, on the otherhand, I were to pick one of Monsoon's fab gifts for my own mum, I reckon these sweet Butterfly Trinket Tins (£7) would be right up her street!

And to get us right in the mood, Monsoon have also put together a nice little video of some sweet kids being sweet. I like to pretend to be a hard-hearted old thing, but this made me go 'Awwwww'

 Have you got any great ideas in mind for Mothers Day gifts? Anything you are hoping for yourself?

* Sponsored Post 

#rainbownails - Pink

Week three of #rainbownails gave me pink to consider, and inspiration didn't come easily but I though I'd have a go at this little cupcake design I'd seen about (yes, they re supposed to be cupcakes if you couldn't tell!)
cute simple nail art ideas

While being far from perfect (especially since it took me a day or two to photograph and you can see a bit of wear and tear on there already!), they were not that difficult to do and I was quite pleased with the way they turned out! I've always said the tastiest cakes aren't always the best looking ones anyway...!

cupcake nails

Of course all good cupcakes need sprinkles to I added some glitter to my pink frosting!
Don't forget to leave me your links if you are joining in! Any good suggestions for next weeks green theme

23 March 2014

Sunday Soak - Bay Rum Bath Bomb

This is my first attempt at scheduling a post so hope it turned up in the right place ok!

I'm always very excited to find new bath places and on a recent trip to Northallerton on the tea trail (more on that soon!), I spotted this cute little shop called 'Bath Before Beauty' and obviously I was drawn in to pick up a bomb or two!

Bath Before Beauty Northallerton

I was hit by the amazing aroma of the shop on opening the door, and a quick peruse of the available options provided a range of fabulous sounding scents for me to choose from such as chocolate orange, honey and cinnamon (these also came home with me!) and this one - Bay Rum.
Not my usual sugary sweet scent of choice, but I figured this would be as close as I'm going to get for a long while to tropical island relaxation!

rum bath

It fizzed up nice and orange when it first hit the water, with the blue of the bomb coming out next but when it all settled down there wasn't much left in the way of colour. I'd have preferred the scent to hang around a bit longer/stronger but I know some people find that quite overpowering so this might be right up their street, but the water was left nice and soft and this was overall a very pleasant bathing experience! Plus, at £1.90 per bomb these compare very well price wise with competitors!
I can't see that Bath Before Beauty have a website as such but you can see their products on their facebook page and make an order that way, or try dropping them a line on twitter!

20 March 2014

Oh No, Not Another Tag!

That there Hayley at Tea Party Beauty created this lovely tag and is making me do it. Not that I argued too much against it or anything, its just that this kind of thing makes it really obvious that I'm not as clever and funny as most of you lot, but I suppose if you haven't figured it out yet then it wasn't going to stay a secret for long! So here we have it, the Not Another Tag Tag.

Blogger Tags

You've made it BIG & bagged some VIP Fashion Week tickets. You lucky devil you. But in your rush to get there & get yourself noticed you forgot your VIP Passes. The guy on the door says he will cut you a deal, you can go in only if you sacrifice either your Front Row seat, backstage privileges or goody bag. What's it gonna be? 

I think I'm being quite unorignal here as every one of these posts I've read has said the same thing, but I'd have to say goodbye to the those front row seats! That way I can hide from pictures myself wile still getting the goodies and the gossip!

You're making a new Subscription box, what 4 items & which dreaded perfume sample would you include in it? 

Maybe a couple of 'universally usable items - that don't really depend on skin type or colour preference to use, as I see a lot of complaints about that sort of thing - so, nice lip balm, and hand cream? I know folk like make up in these things so for the same reasons as before I don't think you can offend too many people with a black mascara... and then tea, obviously. Perfume wise, since I've been do nice so far, and since the perfume isn't gonna win me any friends anyway, I'd put in something a bit more divisive (rubbish).... isn't there a One Direction perfume out? That might do nicely!

What's your biggest blogging bug bear? The one thing guaranteed to make your blood boil & have you screaming/eye rolling at your laptop?

I know it might seem petty to some (and hypocritical to others) but poor use of punctuation drives me bonkers. I know mine is far from perfect, I litter my posts with superfluous punctuation marks just for fun.... but I do use it! It's those long paragraphs that are just one unbroken sentence that I find so hard to read!

No more joining in Twitter chats only slightly relevant to your blog. You can only join in one blogger chat a week for the rest of your blogging days, which one's it gonna be & why? 

I was struggling a bit with this one as most of the chats I know are only 'slightly relevant' to my blog, until I read Faith's answer to this and she reminded me of the #30sbloggers chat, which I've only ever fully joined in with once (I don't make the chats as often as I'd like) but really enjoyed!

'Fess up, do you actually own any MAC? If so what don't you like about the product? 

I do! I own one solitary MAC lipstick. It's 'Captive' and I do actually love it, it's my most-worn lipstick. My least favourite thing about it is the price!

The blogging Gods ban arm swatching, which body part will you swatch on now? 

I'm guessing hands either count as arms or its too boring an answer to count? When hitting the avrage Boots store I don't have easy access to that many body parts so I'm just gonna have to say 'face' - just draw all over my cheeks with lipstick like a crazy toddler. Or actually try stuff out in the right places?

You can no longer have Yankee Candles & Perfume Bottles in the background of your shots, what other inanimate object will you choose?

My pictures are never that well presented anyway, anything in the background comes under the category of 'general household mess' so I'd probably just keep that up!

Your blogs Instagram is it for cats or meal shots?

Well 'meal' might be a bit strong, but mine is mostly made up of food. But if I had a cat it might be a different story

And that's it for now! Hmmmm who to tag? Simone, Daniella, Ellie, Another Ellie, and Alley!

19 March 2014

Vivid Please! Snail Mail Swap

I've been meaning to post about this AMAZING swap package I recently received but haven't got round to it till now. It's the one I received from the Vivid Please Snail Mail Trade, and is one of the most exciting boxes the postman has ever brought me! 

To show everything off I've split my gifts into categories - first I got some tea based goodies! I love the 'fancy a brew' tea towel,... though it might be a bit too nice for mopping up my usual spills, I'll have to try to thing of a less messy use for this! My little cross-stitch 'i heart tea' plaque has pride of place on my desk at work (I'm using to drop hints to my colleagues about putting the kettle on!), and the PG Tips monkey cards really made me smile!

And where there's tea, there should be cake - the card on the right contains a genuine 1967 recipe card for Marshmallow Gateau, which sounds amazing and I definitely want to make soon! Biscuits are almost as tea-friendly as cake and the print celebrating the humble Malted Milk - the best of all the basic biscuits - has gone down a treat at work where this statement is very much supported!

I love cute stationary too - who doesn't!? The 'Adventures...' notebook is one of the cutest things I've ever seen, and the stickers - isn't he a handsome kitty? - are fantastic. The little lady has already stolen the folding Party Animals cards! 

I can't believe I'm still going as this gift must have surpassed the £10 budget a long time ago already, but there's still more amazingness!

I was just looking at the Cath Kidston hand creams the other day and convinced myself not to get them as Id just picked up another handcream from elsewhere that day, so I was very happy to see these in my box - having three means I can leave one at home, one at work and stick one in my bag for when I'm inbetween the two!

Finally, I was highly excited to open this last little box - a set of Bomb Cosmetics chocolate bath products! I love Bomb, I love baths and I love chocolate so this little lot should keep me going for a good long while!

cath kidston hand creams

Oh goodness, no that wasn't 'finally', - I also got a big bag of Cadbury's Mini Eggs, but unfortunately they didn't quite make it to the photographing stage, they were far too delicious! 

The only bad thing about my package is I still don't know who sent it so I can't give the HUGE thank you they deserve,... so if you somehow happen to read this - THANK YOU! I absolutely love everything! Big thanks also go to Vicky at Vivid Please! for organising the trade in the first place, make sure you keep an eye on her blog for details of another one! 

18 March 2014

Day Tripper - Bloggers Day Out in Liverpool

Last weekend, using the Chic Networking Fashion Event there as an excuse for our visit, we took a little blogger road trip to Liverpool! Myself, Hayley and Sammie piled in the car Sunday morning to head over to meet Roxanne, who had promised to show us around.

Things to do in liverpool

We made sure we got there plenty of time before the event was due to start so we could have a little wander around. After the Beatles-themed soundtrack to out journey over, it was decided a visit to the infamous Cavern Club. We spent a bit of time taking photos outside like the gawpy tourists we were for the day before heading inside for a drink!

beatles cavern club

Since it's not everywhere you can get yourself a Beatles inspired cocktails, Sammie and I treated ourselves to a 'Ringo's Rum Drum' apiece which we sipped merrily as we checked out all the Beatles memorabilia on display.

beatles cocktails - Ringo's Rum Drum

It was too nice a day though to stay cooped up in a dark basement, no matter how iconic a basement it may be, so we headed out to explore some more of the city. We headed in the general direction of the hotel that was to be the venue for the event, but since we still had a bit of time to kill went for a nice wander along the waterfront.

It was my first time in Liverpool, and I don't know if was just the effects of the unexpectedly sunny weather, but I thought it was surprisingly lovely. Though there were some very glamorous types about - I've never felt so short and pale! 

Soon enough it was time to head into the hotel for the event - it was held at the very swanky Hilton and as well as the fashion show, there were numerous little stalls set up for some of Liverpool's local businesses. We had a good look around before it was time to take our seats for the show, and it's not often I say this but some of the sparkly, feathery customised items on display were as eye-catching as the cupcakes! 

Then it was time to be wowed by the latest collections from some of the areas most exciting designers and boutiques - there were some seriously gorgeous stuff on display from the likes of Mode Mwah, Lola Loves and The Dressing Room - no wonder everyone in Liverpool looks so glam! 

It was a great excuse for a trip out and a fab time was had by everyone! I'm definitely hoping to go back again and get to know the city a bit better! 

17 March 2014

#rainbow nails - yellow

It's week two of Rainbow Nails, which means YELLOW! 

This coincided perfectly with the arrival of this gorgeous little bottle from Fairypants who have just developed this exciting new range of vegan nail polishes. These are not only entirely cruelty free, but adhere to a strict 'nothing nasty' rule, meaning main nasty chemicals often found in nail polish wont be found in these! 

yellow spotty nail polish

The picture above is the back of the bottle, so you can see the full effect of the gorgeous buttery gold colour, but the front has this cute little sticker with the shade name and the brands fairy mascot. The application is nice and smooth, helped out by a fairly wide brush which makes it easy to get on in one go. This was pretty much opaque in two coats but I used three just for an extra solid finish. Chips started to appear on day three, which is fairly standard as I put my poor fingernail tips through a lot of typing and I always forget to apply a topcoat!

vegan beauty products

The idea of the little black glitter speckles is apparently to make your nails look like birds eggs, but (you know how my mind works!) it reminded me more of lemon poppyseed cake, so I thought I'd finish off my manicure with a 'drizzle' of white icing/polish - its a bit messy but so are many of my cakes!

These polishes should hopefully be available soon from fairypants.co.uk for £3.99 which is a great price for a product of this quality even without the extra chemical-less and vegan friendly bonuses. I know a lot of cruelty free bloggers struggling for brands they can use so it's great to have another one on the list! They've got some amazing sounding lip balms too - and you can get 15% off with the code '2014'!

Next week is pink and I'm struggling for inspiration so if you have any ideas or can think of any pink things I'd love to hear your suggestions!

16 March 2014

Sunday Soak - Feathergills Violet Bath Salts

I've had this little packet of Violet bath salts since the middle of last year, but have been putting off using them because I didn't want to lose that lovely violet smell I get every time I open my 'bath stuff' cupboard! Still, in my aim to use up some of the things I've had longest I thought it was about time I put these to their proper use and get them in my bath.

Feathergills Products

I actually bought these on a day trip to Hebden Bridge last year, in the coolest little shop 'Feathergills Emporium'. While their products can be bought on line, I do recommend a visit there if you get chance - not only is the emporium itself great for finding fabulous little nicnaks in a vintage setting, but is also home to 'The Blitz' 1940s style tea room - very cool!

perfect bath after a hard day

When I read 'salts' on the front of the package, I expected something a bit grittier but this is just a nice soft sweet-smelling powder. I think I've mentioned before that the Violet is one of my favourite bath-time fragrances and this really does have a lovely scent. Unfortunately I found that, though the scent has remained strong sat in my cupboard all these months, it didn't seem to linger loo long once it hit the water, and there was very little in the way of transference of the fragrance to my skin afterwards which is a shame.

I somehow managed to miss the very clear instructions on the front of the packet telling me to add 2 heaped tablespoons, convinced myself there were no directions and just poured a bunch in, where I was very pleasantly surprised to find it turned my water a pretty shade of pink. 

Though this wasn't expensive (£3 for 4 baths worth, if you read the instructions) I'm not sure I would buy it again for my bath - though it was nice enough the scent didn't stick around as long as I would have liked, and it didn't seem to have much of an effect on my skin or any other 'extra' bonuses like that, but I would definitely keep a bunch of these around the house to make everything smell nice - like sticking them in my drawers to make my clothes smell good like my grandma used to do!

15 March 2014

Afternoon Tea at Bettys York

It's been a little while since I've updated my 'Tea Trail' progress, but fret not, I haven't forgotten or abandoned my little project - just fallen behind a little!

My most recent tea-based excursion was to the mighty Bettys Café Tea Rooms in York. This is the one that I've walked past most often yet never actually visited, the queue outside serving as a barrier between me and tea. Having held it up in my mind as the pinnacle of all tea rooms for so long, it really was about time I actually went in to see if it lived up to my expectations!

best afternoon tea in yorkshire

Because I managed to get there on a week day, the queue wasn't quite an intimidating as ones I'd seen outside there on weekends (though don't be fooled into thinking it's going to be a short wait as the queuing continues inside!) Though we did get to peer around the shop while we waited and those gorgeous cakes on display definitely helped get me excited!

amazing patisserie counter

Tea-wise, I just went for the Bettys Tea Room Blend, which was full bodied and flavourful and served beautifully as always in classic Bettys silverware. I love how they always ask if you would prefer your tea with milk or lemon, its not sommething I've been asked anywhere else and it always makes me smile, though I can't really say why.

Tea poured from silver tea pot

The sandwiches for me are always the most problematic part of an afternoon tea, as there seems to be always one out of the (usually) four on offer that I'm not keen on (salmon, it's always salmon!). I usually just keep quiet and hide the offending fishy bits under a napkin or something but since the standard Bettys offering consisted of two sandwich options I'd rather avoid (the salmon, of course, and egg mayonnaise - not for me!), and out lovely waitress was so charming and accommodating I thought it couldn't hurt to ask about alternatives.

And our charming and accommodating waitress charmingly accommodated me by offering to swap them, so I ended up with: Cream cheese and cucumber, cheese and chutney (I think it was Wensleydale and I think it was apple chutney, but I can't quite remember!), roast chicken, and roast ham. The sandwiches were SO full! I don't think I've ever had such well-filled sandwiches - that looks like four or five layers of thick ham there? Really really tasty too! Best afternoon tea sandwiches of the trail so far!

Clotted cream scone

The scones were steady-away.

tiny bettys cakes

My cake selection was rather special - I don't know if the chocolatey thing at the back there had a technical name and Ill be entirely honest, I cant actually remember what it was... that's what happens when I leave it a few weeks between eating and posting I guess! I'll make sure to at least take notes next time! Though I do have an inkling it was chocolate orangey? I definitely remember it was very nice, though not as nice as the other two bits. The raspberry tart was amazing, so light I felt like I could just go on eating it forever, with fresh juicy raspberries - just sweet enough to not feel too naughty! The pistachio macaroon was equally as delightful, crisp on the outside, soft in the centre - a real treat! I meant to pick up more of these from the shop on the way out but totally forgot - so will have to go back sometime soon! 

We were sat downstairs in the 'basement', which was good because I didn't have to feel bad about taking my time while looking at the queues waiting for me to finish with the table, and because I caught a good glimpse of 'Bettys Mirror' where soldiers stationed around York in the war years engraved their names with a diamond pen. The mirror remains on display as a tribute to their bravery, and is a lovely reminder of the history of this old place.

I'm very happy to report that after years of dreaming of it, Bettys York did not disappoint! But it'll be a hard act to follow for the next place on my list!