Saturday, 26 March 2016

*EASTER GIVEAWAY!!* Kiehl's Creme de Corps

   Kiehl's is one of my favourite skincare brands, with a vast range of ailment-curing plant-derived products which look and smell gorgeous. Any time I step into a Kiehl's boutique, I'm instantly excited by their creams, oils and serums, and I love that they also stock a good range of hair treatments!

   The Creme de Corps Body Butter is one of their most popular products. Ideal for gifts, or even a treat for yourself, this Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Butter is simply luxurious; it features smooth shea and jojoba butters, botanical lipids and vitamin A producing beta-carotene. Free from parabens, glycols and silicones, this deliciously moisturising product is perfect for sensitive skin.

   At £36, I can wholeheartedly admit that this is not something I purchase often. It's more of a treat than an every day indulgence; however, I am happy to say that I'm able to give one of these body butters away to a lucky reader! Just enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter widget below - and good luck!

   Open to UK residents only. The winner will be contacted within 48 hours of the competition ending. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, the prize will be passed onto the next winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Perfect Easter Cocktail

   Easter is the perfect time to relish in the start of spring, take a real break from work and enjoy some downtime with your family and friends. As it's a four day weekend, it's also a great time to enjoy a few delicious, homemade cocktails with fresh ingredients and crisp seasonal flavours.

   Instead of reaching for a simple glass of wine, spice things up with some fruits and sodas to create a cocktail with a difference. My current favourite wine to use in one of these cocktails is Freeman's Bay Marlborough Sauvignon* which is only £35.34 for a case of 6 from Aldi; this New Zealand wine carries the aromas of lime, gooseberry and passionfruit. I like to pair it with a creamy seafood chowder or Thai fish cakes to complete a beautiful spring meal; however, in a cocktail it's great to enjoy on its own as an aperitif in the garden with friends.

   Try out this fruity cocktail for a delicious drink with a difference - even better, make a pitcher to share! Here's the recipe:

White Sangria


1 bottle of Freeman's Bay Marlborough Sauvignon
Philippe Michel Crémant du Jura to top
1 green apple
1 red apple
15 red grapes
1 stone fruit destoned and quartered
3 strawberries halved
1 punnet of raspberries
Soda water to top


1) Add all the fruit to a large jug or pitcher and lightly muddle using the back of a wooden spoon.

2) Pour over The Exquisite Collection Limestone Coast Chardonnay and stir to combine with the fruit. Refrigerate for 1 hour or ideally overnight.

3) Take the cold mixture from the fridge pour into a wine glass and add cubed ice.

4) Top with Philippe Michel Crémant du Jura or soda water for a lighter drink.

Decoration / to serve
Garnish with fresh mint springs or fresh basil leaves for a more Mediterranean feel.

Tasting notes
This simple yet tasty cocktail can be made well ahead of time and served on the day. With Aldi’s White Sangria you can use a range of fruit, allowing you to have fun coming up with different taste combinations, and can easily scale it up to share with large parties.

* Gifted for review

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

3 Affordable Makeup Brushes to Add to Your Collection

   Sometimes, affordable products can perform as good as, if not better than, expensive ones - so don't disregard them! We've seen how Bourjois' Healthy Mix foundation comes in close comparison with Chanel's Vitalumiere Aqua, and how MUA's 12 Shade Undressed Palette is scarily similar to Urban Decay's Naked Palette - but what about makeup brushes?

   I've put together a review of three affordable brushes, all of which have the same function and are available from

1. So Eco Multi-tasking Brush*, £7.50

   So Eco creates eco-friendly and cruelty-free brushes - a great vegan alternative. These brushes are manufactured using sustainable bamboo handles, recycled aluminium and synthetic taklon bristles. The packaging is 100% recyclable, and features environmentally-friendly vegetable inks.

   The brush itself performs well with liquid foundation and powder foundation. Its soft bristles are ideal for dispersing product evenly, with minimal waste - plus, the white bristles mean that its easier to see how much product is left on the brush.

2. Real Techniques Buffing Brush (part of Core Collection, £18.99)

   By now, we're all familiar with the successful and extensive range of Real Techniques brushes available at affordable prices. Created by MUAs for use by people of all skill ranges, these tools are a standard addition to any collection.

   The Buffing Brush, part of the Core Collection, is a great all-rounder. Its weighted handle is packed full of strong, synthetic bristles; however, I would say that it's perhaps too sturdy for applying products like loose powder. I tend to use this more in the winter months for applying a heavier foundation - this is where it performs best!

   Although you might think that £18.99 sounds expensive, just remember that you're getting four brushes in the Core Collection - that works out to just over £5 per brush.

3. Brush Works Multi-tasking Brush*, £6.99

   Like the So Eco and Real Techniques brushes, the Brush Works Multi-tasking brush features soft, synthetic taklon bristles.

   It's incredibly lightweight, which is perhaps a nod to the fact that it is a very inexpensive product; however, it still performs well with light liquid foundations and powders.

   This is great as a starter brush for those who are testing out their skills in makeup on themselves - I wouldn't recommend it for professionals, but it would be ideal as part of a gift set for teenagers!

* Products gifted for review

Monday, 14 March 2016

March 2016 Period Box | Unboxing

   If you haven't already received your March PeriodBox yet, here's what to expect:

- Your preferred sanitary products
- 1 Clipper hot chocolate sachet
- 1 Super Seeds Pumpkin 9 Bar
- 3 Pukka chamomile, vanilla and manuka honey tea bags
- 1 bag of Perry Court Farm apple crisps
- 1 set of Evolve Organic Beauty body wash and lotion
- 1 Flipz London 'We Can Do It' illustration

   PeriodBox is one of my favourite subscription services; if you haven't seen my original post about the service, click here for a read. 

   This month's design product focuses on March 8th, which is International Women's Day - a fitting theme for a box to suit women's sanitary needs! A neat little illustration, created by Flipz London, depicts the iconic 'We Can Do It!' American wartime poster.

   The food products in PeriodBoxes are always an unusual delight - usually, I wouldn't pick up a packet of apple crisps for myself, but these were a great little snack to eat on the Tube! The chamomile, vanilla and manuka honey tea bags were like a hug in a cup, and the Clipper hot chocolate is a firm favourite. The pumpkin seed 9 Bar posed an interesting combination of flavours, but it was great for a quick energy boost.

   For a fresh-scented and wonderfully soothing beauty product, the Evolve Organic Beauty set is ideal. I love the packaging - looks gorgeous on my bathroom shelves - and the products themselves provide a soft, smooth finish.

   Build your box right here.


Tuesday, 8 March 2016

International Women's Day: Who, What and Why?

   International Women's Day marks an important occasion for women across the globe, celebrating a number of elements including women's economic, political and social achievements throughout history. However, this day is not only a celebration, but a message to the world that we, as a gender, still have a way to go before complete parity. 

   I've put together a brief guide on International Women's Day, its history and why it still matters today.

   First established in its current form in 1911 by German Marxist theorist and women's rights activist, Clara Zetkin, International Women's Day was supported by 100 women from 17 countries to promote equal rights, including suffrage, for all women.

   Prior to this, a Women's Day was organised by the Socialist Party of America in 1909 in New York, followed by an International Women's Conference in 1910 in Copenhagen.

   Since 1996, the UN has created a theme to each International Women's Day, bringing to attention matters surrounding violence against women, HIV and AIDS, access to education and more. 

   In 2016, the theme is 'Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up For Gender Equality'. This focuses on the UN's goal to end poverty, combat inequalities and promote prosperity whilst protecting the environment by the year 2030. Use the '#PledgeForParity' tag to get involved on social media.

    Why is International Women's Day still important? Because gender equality has not yet been achieved in all countries. British women may have got the vote in 1918, but Saudi Arabian women only received the right last year. Only 19 heads of state, out of a possible 196, are women. More than a third of women have experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives.

   Although these figures are an improvement in comparison to the world fifty years ago, there is still progress to be made - and it's up to everyone (not just women) to make these changes to achieve equality.

   What do you think of this year's IWD theme? What would you like to see altered in terms of women's rights? How are you celebrating this day? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, 7 March 2016

How to Keep Up Your Energy Levels at Work

   We all know what it's like: come 4pm that energy slump kicks in and our screens start to get a little blurry, eyelids a little heavy and our chairs all of a sudden begin to feel a lot more comfortable than usual. Now would be a great time to have a little afternoon nap but, of course, that would be a sure fire way to get a disciplinary - so how can we avoid that snoozy feeling and keep our energy levels up throughout the working day?

   If you're in good health and get a reasonable amount of sleep each night (and by reasonable, I mean an average of 7 hours) your energy levels are usually based on what you eat - or don't eat. Succumbed to a greasy fast-food takeaway for lunch? Skipped breakfast? Knocked back a few energy drinks? You're probably going to feel the effects later in the day. A few small changes in your diet can make a huge difference; so it's time to swap out those saturated fats, refined wheats and sugary drinks for foods which support sustained energy!

What to Eat

   British Dietician and Nutritionist, Dr Sarah Schenker, has identified several foods which possess the perfect attributes to keep your energy levels up throughout the day. These foods deliver slow-release energy, leaving you fuller for longer and less likely to snack on unhealthy foods. These are:

Edamame Beans
Wholegrain Basmati
Chia Seeds
Nut Butter

   Combine any of these to create your perfect meal - with your favourite seasoning, of course - and you're so much more likely to stay alert and perform well, not just during working hours, but well into the evening. Pop a few of these ingredients into your basket next time you go shopping, and see what you could create! To get you started, here are a few quick recipe ideas:


   It's the most important meal of the day, so why not make it super tasty as well as energising? This recipe for Yoghurt Rice with Oranges and Almonds is an exotic, fruity and sweet bowl of goodness:

Serves 2

Preparation time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 5 mins

1 large orange
1 tsp of dark molasses sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
4 tbsp Greek yogurt
2 tbsp almond flakes

1.    Heat a pouch of Tilda Pure Basmati rice according to the packet instructions, transfer to a mixing bowl and allow to cool
2.    Peel and thinly slice the orange, place the segments on a plate, sprinkle with the molasses sugar and allow it to melt in
3.    Stir the cinnamon in to the yogurt and then gently fold through the rice.  Add the slices of orange and sprinkle the almond flakes over the top


   Now for a dish that is sure to fill a whole in the middle of the day or, even, as a delicious evening meal after work. Craving savoury? Try this mouthwatering Edamame, Broccoli and Cashew Nut Stir-Fry:

Serves 2

Preparation time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 40 mins

50g cashew nuts
1 tbsp olive oil
200g edamame (frozen soya beans)
200g broccoli, cut into florets
1 garlic clove, chopped
1⁄2 red chili, chopped
2 heads of pak choi
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
Juice of half a lime

1.    Cook the rice according to the pack instructions
2.    Meanwhile, dry fry the cashew nuts in a small pan for 1-2 minutes until lightly toasted.  Stir continuously to stop them from burning
3.    Bring a small pan of water to the boil and add the edamame/soya beans, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside
4.    Heat the olive oil in a wok, add the broccoli and fry for 2-3 minutes, until starting to soften. Then add the garlic, chilli, beans and pak choi and fry for another 2 minutes
5.    Season with the soy sauce, sesame oil and lime juice and fry for 2 minutes. The broccoli should be tender now.  Drain the rice and stir through
6.    Scatter some final cashew nuts over the top to serve


Put down the chocolate bar and reach for one of these Nut Butter and Rice Balls when you get peckish - you won't regret it!:

Makes 12-16 balls

Preparation time: 25 mins
Cooking time: 2 mins

4 tbsp peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
1 tbsp clear honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp ground flaxeed
2 tbsp coconut flakes

1.    Heat a pouch of Tilda Pure Basmati according to the instructions
2.    In another large bowl, cream together peanut butter, honey and stir in vanilla extract
3.    To this bowl, stir in ground flaxseed, coconut flakes and hot rice
4.    Stir until well combined; the mixture should be thick and sticky
5.    Use a spoon to scoop out even amounts and roll into balls
6.    Store in an airtight container in the fridge

Friday, 4 March 2016

How to Avoid Devaluing Yourself as a Blogger

Being both a blogger and a professional writer for separate publications (my blog is my own publication, but I was also a writer for a print magazine under an established publishing house), I can’t help but notice the changes in tone that I come across from the various people that contact me throughout the day.

During both my day job and my blogging time, I’m in contact with PR and marketing people as well as small business owners; however, the way they speak to me depends on which publication the matter regards.

As a journalist, I’m always spoken to in a professional manner - I have made a few friends with some very lovely PR people, in which cases the conversation is more casual, but the tone is positive and therefore results in a positive transaction. I am always addressed by my name (apart from when I am sent a generic mass email containing a PR newsletter) and the email will always finish with a formal conclusion such as ‘Kind regards’ or ‘Sincerely’ if I do not know the sender, or ‘Best wishes’ or ‘Many thanks’ if I do.

I will always reciprocate polite manners, and if the email doesn’t contain any of the above, I tend to ignore it. Seems harsh, but if someone doesn’t take the time out of their day to address me by name in an email containing information that they wish me to write about, then why should I take the time out of my day to write about it. My parents always told me that manners go a long way and, for me in a professional capacity, that is entirely true.

It seems that, generally, I’m treated with respect as a journalist.

So, why should I be treated any different as a blogger?

Any industry professional who is up to speed with the way that marketing and advertising has evolved within the past five years understands that blogs have become a very useful tool for reaching target audiences. Blogs have reached such a high level of influence that they’re now on par with magazines; thus making bloggers just as influential as journalists (much to some journalists’ chagrin, but not mine).

Hence, if bloggers are such important tools, why is it that I’m not always treated with the same respect that I am as a journalist?

To take one example into account: I was recently contacted about placing an advertisement in my sidebar. The sender did not address me by name – funny, as my name is clearly stated in several places on my blog (as well as in my email address itself) – and the email concluded with an apathetic ‘Thanks’ followed by the senders first name only. This isn’t just rude; it’s also unprofessional.

After researching the company to check if it was a legitimate request, I gave the sender the benefit of the doubt and replied with what was a very reasonable quote for a month’s worth of sidebar advertising. I was then asked to cut my quote by three quarters – by which point it was not even worth the time it would take to place the advert on my blog – and told that ‘there would be a chance’ that my rate would go up if they saw results by the end of the month.

Needless to say, I didn’t bother replying. If I was to be spoken to in a rude manner regarding a matter which devalues entirely a blog that I spend a huge amount of time working on and perfecting, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I wouldn’t be in the most agreeable mood.

However, I didn’t always think this way. Before I became a journalist, I would let people talk to me like this because I thought that’s how you were talked to as a blogger. Becoming a journalist has actually helped me understand that I shouldn’t allow myself to be communicated with in this way – and you shouldn’t either.

(NB: I also meet some very lovely, polite and professional people who I collaborate with positively as a blogger – the above is an example of an extreme situation)

To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, I’ve written up a few ways to make certain that you don’t end up devaluing yourself as a blogger:

Never go below half of the amount that you quote for work

Going below half your ratecard quote (the standard rate that you give to potential advertisers) is unsustainable. For those who ask, take an initial 20% off ratecard; if it's a particularly special company that you'd really like to create a relationship with, offer them an introductory rate of 30% off.

Always ask for the specifics when entering into a deal

Cover your back when entering into any deal. It might seem like an easy collaboration at first, but they may want to to add in specific links, anchor texts or even images that do not fit in with your blog's style.

If you've had a phone conversation with a potential advertiser or sponsor, make sure that you get the specifics in writing before moving forward. Shoot them an email ensuring that they confirm everything that was agreed.

Alter your work at YOUR discretion after publishing

It's rare for a collaborator to make major changes to your work after it has been published. If they're paying for a sponsored post, they may want to tweak a few things (a keyword here, a link there); however, if it's unpaid editorial (i.e. a post that you've written in your style, with your opinions, of your own accord), you have the right to alter - or not alter - at your discretion.

Remember that this is your blog, and you control what is posted on it.


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Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Are you a DINKER? I Know I Am.

   No, I had no idea what this meant either - give yourself a pat on the back if you did - but after winding down a procrastination-driven path during today's lunch break, I found that it describes my #LifeGoals perfectly.

   'DINKER' is an acronym which stands for 'Dual Income, No Kids, Early Retirement'. It was coined in the eighties when it became more socially acceptable for women to have careers instead of staying at home, looking after the children and cleaning (*massive eye roll* - this period in time should have never existed but, alas, it did); so it began that there were more and more young couples deciding to pursue the career lifestyle rather than fulfilling the social norm of reproducing in their twenties and parting ways as professional equals.

   In today's world, more and more couples are choosing to live the childless lifestyle. Just look at the comments section on any Buzzfeed article surrounding children: hoards of DINKERs talking about how having no children enriches their lifestyles. Consider the possibilities:

- Saving yourself approximately £230,000 over 21 years
- Not having to deal with teenage angst, boyfriends and bullying (because you've been through that and don't want to do it again)
- No pressure to get tied into a boring-but-safe job for the rest of your life
- Going out for dinner whenever you want, and not having to organise a babysitter (or pay for one)
- Travelling abroad for your job 
- Going to over-25s hotels on holiday and eliminating the annoyance of screaming children while you're relaxing by the pool
- Not having to go through 9 months of back pain, morning sickness, cravings and other pregnancy-related gumph 
- Not having to go through labour

   I think it's safe to say that there are many positives to not having children, and I'm tired of people giving me a look of shock and confusion when I say that I'm not interested in kids. Maybe my feelings will change in another five, or even ten years - but for now, I'm completely content earning a living, enjoying my free time and having minimal responsibilities. Does that sound selfish? Probably, but I'm not hurting anyone by not having kids.

   Now, I'm obviously team DINKER, but is there a way to have children with both parents achieving fulfilling careers? 

   Do I even have to answer that question? Uh, okay. Of course there is. In fact, it was this article on the Huffington Post that made me want to write this blog post in the first place. Basically, a clueless LBC presenter implied that women can't be good mums at the same time as having a flourishing career.

   I can't stress enough that this is, in fact, wrong. Just look at Kay Burley, who actually commented upon the incident using herself as evidence of a successful working mother: founding member of Sky News, journalist, author and mum. What a woman, right?

   For good measure, let's also consider Michelle Obama, Angelina Jolie, Victoria Beckham, Shami Chakrabarti, Stella McCartney, Emma Thompson, Aung San Suu Kyi, Carol Ann Duffy... need I go on? Millions of women around the world are succeeding in their careers, as well as being loving, nurturing and all round brilliant mothers. And why shouldn't they? If you want something hard enough, you will do all you can to achieve it - if that means having kids and fulfilling your dreams as a girlboss, then so be it.

   Besides, who ever told a man that he couldn't raise kids at the same time as maintaining a successful career? No one. That's who. So why should it be any different for women?

   In regards to the above bullet points: of course women with children can do all these things and more (apart from avoiding the pregnancy-stuff, that's kind of standard) - but to have the best of both worlds requires a strong will, resilient mind-set and the motivation to be both a career woman and a wonderful mother. I guess I haven't acquired those attributes yet.

   I may be a DINKER for now, but I'm 100% pro working mothers.

   What are your thoughts? Do you have children and a successful career? Or one or the other? Let me know in the comments.
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