12/04/2017

Health & Fitness: Cracking My Mini Egg Addiction with a Little Help From Slissie

Slissie diet aid review
Slissie diet aid review
Slissie diet aid review
Over the past few months I've been trying to make some healthier life choices. I've been heading to the gym regularly, eating better and attempting to cut down on all my favourite sweet treats. Including Mini Eggs, which you'll know pains me greatly as they are one of life’s greatest pleasures (only a minor exaggeration, the love is real). So when Slissie asked if I fancied giving their slimming aid a try, it seemed like a great time to do it.

Slissie is a portable device that releases appetite suppressing flavours, which are designed to help distract you from eating the things you want to avoid (aka Mini Eggs). It's not a diet in itself but more of an extra bit of willpower - something I know I need a hand with every now and again. The science behind it suggests that by smelling and/or tasting specific flavours, it can actually help to reduce cravings and appetite, therefore aiding you in your weight loss journey.

To use the Slissie, you simply attach one of the flavour pods, push the button down, release and suck the tip gently. It’s a little like a vaping device, only minus any vapour – you just get a burst of your chosen flavour.

My starter pack came with super mint, vanilla and fruit flavour pods, although there are other options like milk chocolate, chocolate orange and mint chocolate. Out of the three I preferred the super mint flavour, as it felt quite refreshing and I’ve often chewed gum before to help supress any sweet cravings. I’d be interested to give the chocolate flavours a try as there really are times when all you want is a giant bar of Galaxy and just the flavour might be enough to get rid of the cravings!

I found the Slissie quite easy to use, although you do have to remember to keep it charged up regularly in order not to be disappointed when you have a bad sweet craving! The flavours themselves were a touch on the artificial side, but the concept itself is really good and I have definitely noticed I’ve been reaching for less sweet stuff over the past few weeks. As an ex-smoker, I found it an odd sensation to use a device that reinforces those old hand to mouth behaviours that I had when I was smoking, but I don’t think it would be an issue for most people. I will happily carry on using mine over the next few months and then gradually try to remove it once I feel more confident I can keep my sugar monster at bay.

A three week start kit from Slissie costs £39.99 with refills costing £12.99 for three. You can find Slissie on their website. You can grab 20% off all starter kits with the code KAT20.

Have you ever tried Slissie? Is it something that you’d consider using?

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15/03/2017

Mother's Day Gifting and a Letter To My Mum

Mother's Day gifting with Getting Personal
Mother's Day gifting with Getting Personal
Mother's Day gifting with Getting Personal
Mother's Day personalised sign
First of all, I want to apologise for the recent radio silence. I’ll go into the reasons behind all that in another post at another time, but it’s safe to say life is a little different for me than it has been previously. I haven’t been in a head space where I felt I could write, or take photos or think about lipstick. But I’m coming back slowly…

Today though, I want to talk about my Mum. My amazing, wonderful, beautiful Mum. Who has always been there for me whenever I’ve needed her. From the one fateful drunken night she will never let me forget where she slept on my floor to make sure I was ok, to always supporting my ever changing interests, even if it did mean a Saturday morning drama club for many, many years. She’s always been there, even if it’s just to sit with me in silence in tough times and let me know things will be ok.

I’ve teamed up with Getting Personal as part of their #MadeByMum campaign. Getting Personal make some really lovely personalised gifts and in advance of Mother’s Day (26th March people, 26th March) I wanted to share a little bit about them and a few stories about my own Mum.

I am notoriously rubbish at sharing my feelings with people, even my own family. Saying ‘I love you’ doesn’t come easily to me and I often try to show it through actions, rather than those three little words. So when Getting Personal asked me to choose three things that my Mum has taught me over the years, so they could turn it into a special piece of art, I was really excited. Mum – if you’re reading this blog post, it’s probably spoiling your Mother’s Day gift surprise…

For me, three of the key things she has taught me were to ‘be myself, be loving, be brave’. To never pretend that I’m someone I’m not and to feel confident in who I am. To be loving – to friends, to family, to random people that need a little kindness. And to be brave – brave enough to forge my own path in life, to stand up for what I believe in and be unapologetically me.

I wouldn’t be half the person I am without this amazing woman and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve enjoyed getting to know her as an adult. It feels like a very different relationship, but one that I will treasure forever. I know life hasn’t always been easy for her, but she has always come through it and come out just that little bit stronger.

If you love the look of my print, you’re able to order them directly from the Getting Personal website. If you’re quick, it should arrive in time for Mother’s Day and I suspect they will be a very popular gift choice. There's a whole selection of special gifts for Mums, so you'll be spoiled for choice!

What three things would you say your Mum has taught you? Why not get involved and share your thoughts in the comments below or on social using #MadeByMum. You can also see the lovely campaign video Getting Personal created below.


Oh and Dad, you’re beyond awesome too…

*written in collaboration with Getting Personal

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14/02/2017

Too Faced Sweet Peach Oil Lip Gloss

Too Faced Sweet Peach Lip Oil Glosses review
Too Faced Sweet Peach Lip Oil Glosses reviewToo Faced Sweet Peach Lip Oil Glosses review
There's been an awful lot of coverage about Too Faced Sweet Peach collection but while both the palettes are getting a lot of love, I think the lip glosses are getting overlooked in favour of their more instagrammable counterparts.

I'm not usually a fan of lip glosses but the oil in the title of these had me really intrigued. Turns out they sit somewhere in the middle and are a peachy, sweet, joyful treat for your lips.

There are eight shades in the range to choose from, each of which is lightly tinted in peachy/pink shades. There's enough colour to make you feel like you're wearing something other than a plain old gloss, but not so much that you'd worry about doing it without a mirror on the bus.

I suspect the peach scent will be a bit of a divider - I know of at least one reader that thinks it's too sickly, but I actually love the smell. It reminds me of the peach sweets you get at a pick n mix stand and you know what, that's more than fine with me.

Like the rest of the collection, the packaging is super cute, with the peach theme carrying through on both the gloss lid itself and the cardboard outer. I'm finding it strangely satisfying that the outer packaging matches the colour of the gloss inside - a small point but one that makes my inner organisation geek very very happy.

Like most glosses, they only wear for a couple of hours before needing a bit of a top up, but the mix of oils in the formula means that they're very hydrating and will allow you to get away without a lip balm.

As with the rest of the collection, these are limited edition, so grab one quick before they go (they're £16 each). You can find them via Debenhams or direct from the Too Faced website; just hear in mind the latter comes with some quite hefty postage fees as they ship from the US.

I'm loving the 2017 launches from. Too Faced so far - add in the recent Skinnydip and Kat von D collaborations and I think they're really bringing out some exciting stuff. I can't wait to see what the rest of the year brings!

Are you a fan of Too Faced? What do you think of the Sweet Peach collection?

*contains PR samples
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12/02/2017

Glossybox La Mer Special Edition Box

Glossybox La Mer limited edition box contents and review
Glossybox La Mer limited edition box contents and review
Glossybox La Mer limited edition box contents and review
Glossybox La Mer limited edition box contents and review
It's safe to say Glossybox really know how to do a collaboration box. Previous boxes included NARS and Harvey Nichols and this time they've got a totally amazing one with luxury skincare brand La Mer.

La Mer are one of those brands that I think we've all heard of but are often out of budget for a lot of people. Created by Dr Huber back in the 50s, it's a brand that focuses on the healing energies of the sea. Dr Huber's Miracle Broth features heavily in all of the products, providing moisture, smoothing, radiance, smoothing and regeneration to the skin.

The special edition Glossybox contains 6 of their cult products, and gives you everything you need for a complete La Mer skincare routine.

Inside the box you'll find:

The Cleansing Micellar Water 30ml
The Treatment Lotion 5ml
The Eye Concentrate 3ml
The Revitalizing Hydrating Serum 5ml
The Moisturizing Cream 7ml
The Intensive Revitalizing Mask 15ml

I'm looking forward to trying lots of these properly over the next few weeks - I popped the mask on over the weekend and was really impressed with how much brighter my skin looked after just one application.

In total, the contents are worth £118, based on a cost per ml price, however you can purchase the box for £35 if you're a Glossybox subscriber or £40 if not.

Demand is set to be really high for these - there are 2000 boxes available, so if you'd like to get the chance to purchase one, you need to sign up to this list in advance.

The boxes will be released on 20th February and will be available while stocks last (not long at all if it's anything like the NARS ones!).

What do you think of this special edition Glossybox? Will you be ordering one?

*Contains PR samples
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10/02/2017

Valentine's: Pierre Marcolini Chocolates

Pierre Marcolini hearts chocolates for Valentine's Day
Pierre Marcolini hearts chocolates for Valentine's Day
I think it's safe to say you all know I'm a bit of a chocolate fiend. When I first started working in London, one of my pay day treats to myself was a pit stop at Godiva in St Pancras and a special box of chocolates to savour over the next few weeks.

While I can easily devour a giant bar of Dairy Milk with no minimal effort, sometimes you just need something that little bit more special to savour. With Valentine's Day fast approaching, I wanted to share a few treats from Pierre Marcolini. They'd make a beautiful gift from your boyfriend/girlfriend but an even better one from yourself.

Pierre Marcolini are a luxe Belgian chocolatier brand (founded by Mr. Marcolini himself) that not only make some of the tastiest macarons I've ever eaten, but they also have an impressive selection of amazeballs chocolates. These are the kind of chocolates that you want to keep hidden and not share with anyone. The ones you eat slowly so you savour every delicious mouthful and feel very sad when the box is finally empty.

Inside these colourful hearts are six different flavours of truffles. You get three each of: dark chocolate ganache with raspberry pulp, passion fruit milk chocolate ganache, lime white chocolate ganache, salted butter caramel, praline crisp with nougat and praline crisp with pistachio. Although they're very rich, the raspberry especially has a lovely fresh finish to it and I suspect I could demolish a LOT of the salted caramel given half a chance. I virtually had to wrestle one of the pistachio truffles away from my boyfriend so I could get a taste – he adores anything chocolatey with nuts in, so this was a clear winner for him.

Their special Valentine's collection has been given a super cute makeup in terms of packaging, with illustrations from Parisian designer Séverine Assous. It features very cute drawings of everything from Wonder Woman to Little Red Riding Hood and adds a nice edge to the more traditional boxes hidden underneath.

The 18 Heart Collection costs £19, but there’s also a very cute little two heart box (filled with the raspberry truffles) available in stores for £4. There’s a couple of stores in central London, but the UK website will also ship nationwide.

I’m off to finish the rest of my chocolates. See you soon!

*contains PR samples

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09/02/2017

My Ultimate Valentine's Gift Picks

Valentine's gift ideas - Kiko heart shaped lipsticks
Valentine's gift ideas - Crabtree & Evelyn biscuits
Valentine's gift ideas - Lola's Apothecary bath and body products
Valentine's gift ideas - Liz Earle Candle
Valentine's gift ideas - Ban.Do pens
My ideal Valentine’s day involves steak, gin and a sh*t load of chocolate. Oh and some Fleetwood Mac on the go. It doesn’t matter whether you’re single,  coupled up or meeting up with friends – Valentine’s Day is a great day to treat yourself. I’ve pulled together a few ideas for some gifts I think you’re going to love, whatever your romantic situation.

Kiko’s 'Matte for You' Valentine's collection is what actually makeup dreams are made of. There’s a very definitely pink and heart them going on, right through from the super soft face brush (which has a red heart in the centre) to the ridiculously pretty heart shaped lipsticks. The lipsticks are the highlight for me. Not only are they rich in pigment and lovely to wear, but the heart shape gets so many cute points it’s not even funny. There are five shades in total, with each one costing £6.90. I’d recommend grabbing a spare or two as you might want to keep one just to look at. Ahem.

Chocolates are a failsafe for any occasion, but especially on Valentine’s Day. Hotel Chocolat is always one of my favourites as they have a great selection for all budgets. If you want a box big enough to share, the Valentine’s Sleekster is a great option. It has 27 heart shaped truffles inside, in a mix of nine flavours. The Salted Caramel Kiss is my favourite, closely followed up by Passionfruit Cream and Illegal Gianduja. There are three of each chocolate, so if you’re feeling charitable, you could share 50:50 or using my preferred method: 2 for me, 1 for you.

Following on with the food theme, Crabtree and Evelyn’s Rose & White Chocolate biscuits are the perfect accompaniment to a post-dinner film on the sofa. The rose stops the white chocolate from being too sweet, while giving just a hint of the Turkish delight taste I always get when I eat rose-flavoured food. Yum. £5

I spotted these Ban.Do pens when I was killing time in John Lewis at St Pancras while waiting for a train (they have such a good stationery selection!). They cost £12 for three, which makes me want to do a *little* cry, but with slogans like ‘you're better than unicorns’ and ‘you rule so hard’ on them, they’re basically the motivational pickup everyone needs from time to time. Plus they look great in flat lays, so bonus points there.

For an indulgent bath and body treat, I urge you to get some Lola's Apothecary products in your life. This beautiful range is handmade in small batches and features lots of natural ingredients and rich essential oils. The duo you can see here is from their 'Delicate Romance' collection, which as you might be able to guess from the rose petals inside the (very Instagrammable) bottles, is rose infused (along with lots of other good stuff). The dry body oil is amazing for all skin types and works well as a Massage Oil, and the Bath & Shower Oil gives off the most amazing aroma and is one you'll really want to savour. The special Valentine's gift set contains both of these products, plus a small bar of luxury chocolate, for a special price of £75. 

Finally, is it even Valentine’s Day if there’s not at least one scented candle involved? Liz Earle’s Rosemary & Rock Rose candle blends subtle rose with fragrant rosemary and I was surprised at how well these two combine. If you steer clear of rose scents because they’re too floral, I think this would be perfect for you as it has a lovely herby note to help balance out all that rose.

What are your plans this Valentine's Day?

*contains PR samples
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08/02/2017

Let's Talk: Why I Stopped Taking the Pill For the Sake of My Mental Health

Why i stopped taking the pill for the sake of my mental health
There's been a huge amount of news over recent months about a male contraceptive trial that recently had to be stopped due to a small number of subjects feeling depressed. As a woman who spent virtually 50% of her life taking the pill, it amazes me that more isn't said about the side effects it can have. I've read a lot of articles recently from women who have all stopped taking the pill for various reasons but the majority seem to have been for mental health.

I started taking the pill when I was 16. I was one of the 'lucky' ones - the first one I took seemed to work well for me and as such I never ended up changing it. Like a lot of girls who are given the pill, it was Microgynon 30, one of an older type of pill and what I now know as one of the cheapest to prescribe. But it worked well enough for me and I carried on taking it religiously for the next 15 or so years.

Now, having taken something for so long, I never really thought I had any side effects from it, but looking back now I can see that I did - I just assumed they were part of my personality rather than a by product of the pill!

I would get horribly anxious around the time of my pill break and have horrible hot sweats for the few days my 'period' came. And for the past 12 months I just had constant cycles of feeling so unbelievably down, even when everything in my life seemed to be going pretty well.

About six months ago I was a few weeks in to generally just feeling terribly sad - I remember talking to a friend about it and saying I couldn't understand what was happening to me and that I just didn't feel right or like myself at all. She recommended speaking to my doctor, which was always my fallback plan, but I will always try to take things out of my life before adding more in and after reading a lot of things about the pill and depression, I thought that stopping it seemed like a good first try. (Note: I'm not advocating not going to your GP if you are concerned about how you're feeling/possible depression/mental health issues. That would have been my absolute next step if this hadn't worked for me.)

Nearly six months on I can say I feel so much better and that I wish I had done it much earlier. I don't profess to feel happy every day, but I feel more like me and less like there's a giant black cloud constantly hanging over my head. I've also realised that I'm not quite as much of a moody bitch as I initially thought - I think the hormones from my pill were making me a LOT worse and it's only now I'm no longer taking it I can really see the difference. Sadly the pre-period hot sweats have remained (sexy) and my skin is a bit oilier than it was previously, but I'll take those any day over the way I had been feeling.

It's been a bit of an adjustment in my personal life as I have a long term boyfriend, but the inconvenience of other contraception pales into insignificance to the positive difference not taking the pill has made to my mood. When I  started out as a 16 year old girl on the pill for the first time, I didn't really have a plan long term or get spoken to about many other options. It was just the one that seemed to be offered at the time.

Hormones are funny old things and will affect different people in different ways. If you're not sure the pill or injection or whatever is working for you, don't be afraid to swap or change or stop altogether. You might try lots of different methods before finding one that works for you. Or maybe you'll have a long-term relationship with condoms as they feel like the best solution overall. It's all totally personal and you need decide what's right for you as an individual. And what works now, might not in 5 years time. So don't be afraid to re-assess.

I'd love to hear your thoughts/opinions on all of this - have you experienced something similar?
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06/02/2017

Primark PS Pro Makeup Brushes

Primark PS Pro Makeup brushes review
Primark PS Pro Makeup brushes review
Primark PS Pro Makeup brushes review
The Primark beauty section keeps going from strength to strength. I featured their PS Pro Oval brushes a few months back (great Artis dupe!) and I'm pleased to see they're back in stock again. On top of the oval range, they've launched a bigger selection of your more 'typical' types of brushes and I wanted to share my thoughts on the ones I think are well worth a purchase.

With prices starting from just a couple of pounds, you'd be forgiven for thinking that they might not be much cop, but you'd be wrong!

The majority of the brushes have a decent-weight plastic handle, with a metal ferule and synthetic bristles. The fan brush and a concealer/detail brush have a chrome handle and there's also a retractable kabuki brush that's perfect for popping in your handbag.

For me, the stars of the show are the large powder brush, foundation brush and the angled eye brush - all three feel far more expensive than their true cost and give an excellent finish to makeup. The pointy nature of the foundation brush allows you to get into smaller areas as well as give an even finish all over. While the powder brush is pretty large, it's perfect for finishing products or larger washes of bronzer and feels super soft against the skin. I've been using the angled eye brush for both gel liner and for my brows and it works equally well on both - I'd recommend buying two of these so you don't have to keep cleaning it in between uses!

One brush I really wanted to love but just didn't was the fan brush. I have a bit of a thing for these kinds of brushes - they feel so nice when you waft them over your skin (just me?!) but this one shed a lot of fibres and didn't feel as soft as the other brushes in the range. It does look super pretty in a flat lay though, so there's that. Hashtag blogger cliche.

Overall, they all washed up pretty well (fan brush aside) and retained their shape and softness nicely. As far as I'm aware, the brushes are all cruelty-free and there are ten in total in the range (so a few more than I have here).

Given the price of these brushes, I think they're such good quality - definitely comparable to some of my Real Techniques brushes and around half the price! They range from £2 to £5 and are all available to buy separately so you won't waste money on purchasing sets that you only want half the brushes from.

They're in stores as we speak and I believe will be a permanent part of the collection, but you never know with Primark - things can tend to sell out pretty quickly!

Have you tried any Primark makeup/brushes before?

*contains PR samples
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02/02/2017

NIOD Dermal Science Skincare QVC TSV Friday 3 February

NIOD dermal science skincare set QVC TSV February 2017
You may have seen me rave on about NIOD Photography Fluid last year - this little beaut is like an Instagram filter for your skin and if you don't have it already, it needs to go on your wishlist pronto.

NIOD are the super science brand from skincare geniuses Deciem. They've got a very special TSV offer coming up on QVC tomorrow, so if you're a fan of the brand or have just been keen to learn more, now is the time to buy. For £49, you get four of their cult products, which have a total value of £140. It's an impressive saving and will run for 24 hours only, from midnight on 3rd.

Each TSV contains four full-sized products: NIOD Copper Amino Isolate Serum, 15ml, NIOD Multi- Molecular Hyaluronic Complex, 30ml, NIOD Fractionated Eye Contour Complex, 15ml and NIOD Sanskrit Saponins, 90ml. I'll have some more detailed reviews on each of these over the coming weeks, but I've tried to give you a high level look at each one here. There's an awful lot of detailed science behind the brand and each product is targeted at a different need, so for more information, head over to the NIOD website.

NIOD Copper Amino Isolate Serum, 15ml - this comes in two parts that you mix together before your initial use to help keep the product as fresh as possible. It targets skin ageing and starts to show results in just 5 days. Expect more radiance, a more even skin tone and less visible pores. 

NIOD Multi- Molecular Hyaluronic Complex, 30ml - contains different 12 types of hyaluronic acid for maximum plumping. HA can often be tricky to absorb into the skin due to large molecule sizes, so having multiple types in one product gives a greater level of hydration and plumpness. 

NIOD Fractionated Eye Contour Complex, 15ml - there are 28 different technologies packed into this little bottle, all designed to target ageing around the eyes. I'm super excited to try this one as I'm quite conscious of the fine lines that are creeping in around that area and this promises to give results very early on. 

NIOD Sanskrit Saponins, 90ml - an intense cleansing balm, SS is based on unrefined Ayurvdeic plant surfectants that cleanse the skin without any of the traditional modern technologies. It contains no sulphates, oils, esters or micellars and can be used by all skin types. 

You'll find this special set online and via the QVC channel tomorrow, Friday 3rd December for 24 hours only. Don't miss out! You'll be able to purchase via this link from midnight (it will show as sold out until then). 

Are you a fan of NIOD? Which of these would you most like to try?

*contains PR samples 
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01/02/2017

3 New Lip Launches You Need To Try This Month

3 new lip launches from GOSH, MUA and Lipstick Queen you need to try this month
3 new lip launches from GOSH, MUA and Lipstick Queen you need to try this month
If you looked in my bag right now, you'd probably find at least 4 lip products. I'm not saying I have a problem or anything, but a girl needs choice, right?

There are a whole load of great new lip launches coming this month, so I thought I'd pick out a few that you need right now. Expect to see a few more lipstick orientated posts coming soon - the obsession (and great products) continues!

First up are the new Liquid Matte Lips from GOSH. These launch next week and come in eight new shades from candy pink through to deep plum. The matte finish is comfortable on the lips and not too drying; they also last for absolutely hours! My favourite shade is Candyfloss, which is a pretty nude-pink - I've been wearing it a LOT over the past couple of weeks! They're £8.99 each and exclusive to Superdrug.

I adore the novelty of colour-changing products but there haven't been a huge amount hit the high street. MUA's Luxe Unique Lip Gloss is a glossy treat that adapts on your lips to give you an individual shade. The gloss goes on clear and will give a subtle pink colour for most people - it's not a highly pigmented product, but gives a nice touch of colour and is something you could easily apply on the go. It's also £3.50, so it's a really budget-friendly way to try a color-adapting product. Look out for this in Superdrug when it launches later this month.

The news that Lipstick Queen were releasing liquid lipsticks actually made me squeal. They call these 'elastic mattes' as they're lightweight in texture and don't feel as though they're sitting heavily on your lips. The Vitamin E formula makes them really easy to wear for hours on end and although you'll need to reapply after eating, they last really well otherwise. I've got the See Ya nude shade here, but there are five others to choose from (ruby red Sayonara is also calling my name). Pigmentation is excellent and you only need a gentle swipe to get a full coverage application. £22 each

Do you like the look of  any of these new launches? What's your current favourite lip product?

*contains PR samples
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30/01/2017

Fashion: the Vintage Faux Fur & My Top Tips for Buying Vintage Clothes

Outfit - vintage faux fur coat and tips for buying vintage clothing
Outfit - vintage faux fur coat and tips for buying vintage clothing, Dior Sunglasses
Outfit - vintage faux fur coat and tips for buying vintage clothing
Outfit - vintage faux fur coat and tips for buying vintage clothing
Outfit - vintage faux fur coat and tips for buying vintage clothing
Outfit - vintage faux fur coat and tips for buying vintage clothing
As part of my ‘do more stuff’ resolution this year, one of the things I wanted to do was add a few more fashion posts into the blog. I am SO uncomfortable in front of a camera, which makes things a bit hard when you’re a blogger, so I’m determined to get over myself and my self-consciousness somehow.

A weekend meetup with two other lovely bloggers from Kent (say hi to Laura and Kirsty) seemed like the perfect excuse to practice my poses and I have to thank Kirsty for taking these amazing photos. And the lots of direction on how not to look like a total fashion blogger fail (so thank you Kirsty!).

Vintage clothes have been a big part of my life for years now. As well as being a huge 60s/70s music fan, I adore the clothes and even spent a couple of years selling them at vintage fairs across the south east.

My current new love is this vintage faux fur jacket, which I found in a seaside charity shop for the grand sum of £14. Not only is it in great condition for something that’s 40-odd years old, it’s also seriously cosy and perfect for the freezing weather winter seems to be bringing right now.

You might recognise the dress from an old outfit post. This Zara beauty gets a lot of use from me and to be honest, I’m kind of pleased to see it still fits after all the cheese I ate over Christmas!

My Furla bag and Dior sunglasses both come from different shopping trips to Bicester Village and the shiny boots are a Primark sale bargain. I am kicking myself right now for not buying a backup pair as they are ridiculously comfy and cost me £10. £10 for leather boots. What an idiot.

If you love the look of vintage clothes but aren’t sure where to start, I thought I’d give you a few of my top tips for a successful purchase.

Ignore the size: depending on the era, you’ll find most pieces are at least one size smaller than modern day clothes, so it’s worth checking out things that are a few sizes bigger than what you’d be normally, as well as around you usual size. Don’t be put off by needing an 18 when you’re usually a 14 – measurements have got a lot more generous since the 70s! If you’re buying anything online, get the measurements instead of the size – that way you can measure yourself and make sure it will fit.

Check the condition – there are things you can easily fix (or pay someone else to if sewing isn’t your thing), like missing buttons, linings that need a few stitches or a hem taking up. Things that have stains, especially around the armpit area, often don’t come out (sweaty pit stains will literally NEVER come out), so although the piece might be a bargain, unless you’re happy with them how they are, it’s usually best to leave it behind. Suede and faux fur coats can pick up a bit of a musty ‘old’ smell to them and are a nightmare to dry clean, so a gentle bit of febreeze inside the lining and a good few hours outside on a washing line will help to refresh and remove the worst of this.

Look at the labels – if you’re unsure of how old a piece is, do a bit of investigation on the labels. The majority of things listed as ‘Made in England’ are generally vintage, as are anything that says ‘Made in West/East Germany’. St Michael is an old name for M&S clothes, Horrockses made beautiful dresses all the way back to through the 50s and beyond and there are lots of old logos online for brands that have been going for years so you can roughly date the piece you’re looking at.

Wear what you love – the best bit about vintage clothes is that you’ll normally be the only one who has one! Check in charity shops, thrift stores and vintage specialist stores. eBay has a huge amount of vintage, but you’ll need to trawl to find the best stuff that’s not at a ridiculous price. Judy’s affordable vintage fairs are always good and have great sellers, so I’d highly recommend visiting one if they come to your city.

Are you a fan of vintage clothes? Let me know if you’d like to see more fashion posts on the blog!
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26/01/2017

Beauty Pie: Introducing the New Budget-Friendly Beauty Concept On the Block

Beauty Pie budget friendly makeup subscription review
Beauty Pie budget friendly makeup subscription review
Being totally up front: I am bit bored with subscription boxes. Although a treat through the post every months is lovely, I think the money would often be better spent on one thing you really want as there's often a lot of repetition in brands featured and products you might not use.

So when a box of Beauty Pie goodies arrived a few weeks ago, I was quick to write it off as a similar subscription-style service. Which was wrong of me. Bad Kat for being so quick to judge.

Beauty Pie is actually a totally different concept. Created by a team that have worked in the beauty industry for many years, they're giving you access to products at cost price. You have to pay a monthly subscription fee of £10 in order to be able to do this, but in return you’re able to order products at incredibly cheap prices compared to their 'non-member' price.

They say that they provide high end products at factory prices, removing the usual markup that you get once a product hits a typical brand counter.  With typical markups often being almost 12 times the actual cost price of a product, it’s easy to see why these kinds of savings might attract people to Beauty Pie, but I wanted to see if the concept really stands up when you take a closer look.

The products themselves do seem really good. I was sent a sample box to trial and was impressed with the quality of formulations – the One Powder Wonder in particular was a standout, as was the FutureLipstick (these come in satin and matte finishes). While the packaging is pretty basic, it’s functional and does the job, but won’t win any Instagram awards. Interestingly, it also feels very light as they’ve taken out any heavy glass tubes and added weights that sometimes crop up in packaging (all designed to give a luxury ‘feel’ or make up feel like you have lots more product!).

Price-wise, a Beauty Pie Smart Powder Blusher has a ‘Regular Price’ of £18, but a Factory Cost of £2.51. Likewise, a lipstick has a 'Regular Price' of £20, but members can purchase for £2.24. You’ll need the £10 per month membership in order to purchase at the lower prices and this doesn’t include shipping and handling costs, so the price can rack up if you’re not careful. You’re also tied into to a subscription for a minimum of three months, so you will need to order quite a few products to make it good value.

Depending on membership level, you are able to buy a certain value of products every month (upto £100 of ‘regular’ price products from the £10 a month membership) which works out to around 5 products a month. The selection at the moment is quite basic, although Beauty Pie are looking to expand this and also branch out to skincare and beauty tools as time goes on.

At the moment, I’m not sure how popular the service will be – there are so many great products on the high street from budget brands like MUA, Makeup Revolution and the like that I think it’s questionable whether or not paying a monthly subscription would be good value in the long run.

Although you do get some great formulas with Beauty Pie, and the ingredient lists are VERY similar to large named brands, I don’t think I will be giving up my high end hauling ways just yet. For me, the high price tag often justifies the luxe packaging and a emotional connection of buying into a luxury brand. As many of the cheaper brands are also owned by the parent companies of the luxury ones, there’s also something to be said for crossover in product technologies as it filters down to the high street.

I’m excited to see how Beauty Pie will be expanding shade ranges, product lines and most of all, the skincare. Decent quality, budget skincare is hard to find at the best of times, so if they can crack that, then I think they’ll be on to a real winner.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Beauty Pie concept – is it something you’d be interested in signing up to?

*contains PR samples
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23/01/2017

Food: Barbecoa St Paul's Review

Barbecoa St Pauls review pit beef
Barbecoa St Pauls review drinking champagne
Barbecoa St Pauls review menu
Barbecoa St Pauls review devil's cornbread
Barbecoa St Pauls review short rib croquettes
Barbecoa St Pauls review view
Barbecoa St Pauls review pork scratchings
Barbecoa St Pauls review cocktails
Barbecoa St Pauls review rump steak
January is typically the month of salads and self-restraint, so after a few weeks of trying to eat more veggies and less cheese, it was high time for a bit of a treat and some serious amounts of red meat. The team over at Barbecoa asked if I'd like to come down and give the restaurant a try, so I was more than happy to oblige.

Barbecoa is one of Jamie Oliver's creations. It's a meat eater's paradise with an in-house butchers and a great mix of steaks and slow-cooked meats. Everything is cooked in its own special way, using a whole host of different methods from bbq pit smokers, to Japanese Robata grills, right through to an Argentine grill.

We visited on a Saturday lunchtime when the restaurant was reasonably quiet. It's situated in the middle of the One New Change development next to St Paul's Cathedral, so tends to be much busier during mid-week when the area's full of city workers.

A lot of the tables have an amazing view of the Cathedral, which is a great backdrop for a lovely meal, although the glass facade can mean it gets a bit hot on sunny days!

After kicking things off with a glass of fizz, we ordered some nibbles while we waited for our mains. Crispy pork scratchings with a grownup ketchup dip, beef short rib croquettes and a portion of the Devil's cornbread.

The scratchings were lovely and crispy and not too greasy and the slow cooked beef inside the croquettes made me do Homer Simpson 'mmmmm' noises. The dip they came with was pretty spicy, something not mentioned on the menu, so if you don't like chilli, then maybe swap for something else. Devil's Cornbread is a very sexy mix of hot cornbread, jalopenos, westcombe cheddar and nduja sausage. It was absolutely to die for - hot, cheesy, salty and delicious. The only warning I'd give is that it is incredibly filling, so you might want to share between more than two people to make sure you have room for everything else!

When it came to mains, we decided to try both sides of the menu. I went for a rump steak, served with white beans and mushrooms and my lunch date had the pit beef with grits. We knew the pit beef would be slow-cooked, but seeing it come out on the bone was a lovely touch and it just melted in the mouth (that'll be down to the 16 hour cook time!).

My steak was lovely and lean, slightly under the medium rare that I asked for, but full of flavour and very tender. The white beans were a bit meh, so I left most of those, instead focusing on the sides we'd ordered as extras.

We got a bit over excited when it came to ordering sides and ended up with four. Oops. Go hard or go home, right? The broccoli with miso was the highlight for me, as was the truffled mac and cheese, which was one of the best I've had for a long time. The creamed greens with crispy shallots was also a tasty treat, if a little bit too rich for my liking. The fries were a bit of a let down - they were dry and lacking in flavour, so we left most of those and focused on the gooey, creamy mac n cheese instead!
Barbecoa St Pauls review
Barbecoa St Pauls Snickersphere dessert
Barbecoa St Pauls Snickersphere dessert
By this point, we were both feeling pretty full, so decided to share a dessert. Enter the Snickersphere. This bad boy has all you could ever want for a dessert - crunchy peanuts, salted caramel, chocolate...It was amazing. As it has a nice salty twang to it, it stopped it being too sweet and I would happily go back another time and order a whole one to myself.

We finished off with a Bourbon Peach Tea cocktail each - sweet, fruity but with a nice bourbon twang to it.

Overall the service was great - not too intrusive, but there when you need it and the waitress we had seemed very knowledgeable when we had questions about the menu.

For me, this is definitely a treat meal kind of place. You're looking at around £70 per person for 2 courses and a couple of drinks, but I'd happily go back again for a birthday dinner or special meal. The view really adds to the 'special' feeling of the place, so if you can get a window table, then make the most of it! There are very limited options for vegetarians (I think I saw one veggie main), so it's a spot for the carnivores among you.

Have you tried Barbecoa before?

*we were guests of Barbecoa, honest review as always
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18/01/2017

5 Current Winter-Proof Skincare Heroes

winter skincare saviours
My skin is really not loving winter. I mentioned earlier in the week (in this post) that it can’t decide whether to be oily, dry or both at the same time right now and don’t even get me started on the giant spot that has taken over my jaw line. Sexy. I think it’s that delightful combination of central heating/cold weather/a minor chocolate addiction post-Christmas that refuses to die all coming back to haunt me.

So I’m switching up my routine a little to help settle my skin down and get it back to normal. I’ve picked out a few of my current heroes for different concerns, so if you’re feeling like your skin could do with a bit of a boost, keep on reading…

After getting a *minor* bollocking from a lovely Elemis lady at a facial the other week about my lack of exfoliation, I’ve gone back to my trusty Pixi Glow Tonic to help get rid of those dead skin cells. I always feel like I need to exfoliate more in winter, but as much as a love me a good scrub, the Glow Tonic is so much more gentle and perfect for virtually every skin type. A quick sweep on a cotton pad once a day is all you need – use it in place of a regular toner and be prepared to be disgusted at how much it removes (note: a grey cotton pad = all those lovely dead skin cells. And possible mascara residue).

Even if you don’t normally like a balm cleanser, I swear to god, you will love Oskia’s Renaissance Cleansing Gel . It’s refreshing yet hydrating, thorough but not stripping and even gets off waterproof mascara. I tend to ration it to the mornings so my tube lasts a bit longer, but you could use this day and night and not need another cleanser at all. Massage in a couple of pumps to dry skin, emulsify with a little water (it’ll turn into a milk consistency) and the remove with a warm flannel. Lovely.

When it comes to moisturising in the day time, I try to avoid anything too heavy so my makeup doesn’t slip off two minutes later, but hydrating enough so the dry bits on my cheeks don’t end up feeling tight. Antipodes Manuka Honey Skin-Brightening Light Day Cream is my current love – the Manuka Honey is not only great for calming and soothing, but it also helps to add radiance and hydrate at the same time. There’s an eye cream in this range which is also amazeballs for day or night.

If you’re skin is feeling a bit stressed out with all the temperature changes or in need of some TLC, then you definitely need to try Skinceuticals Phyto Correcting Masque. It’s packed full of botanicals that help to calm and soothe the skin, reducing any redness or heat you might have. It can also be used post-procedure if you’ve had IPL, laser treatment or other clinical treatments, so is a great one to have on standby. I tend to use this one or two times a week when my skin is feeling particularly flushed or stressed out (it really helped reduce my snow/windburnt cheeks after walking home in last week’s blizzard) but it’s also great as a regular treatment for anyone with sensitive skin.

I don’t know how I made it to the age of 32 without trying Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate and I’m quite frankly kicking myself right now. Overly hyped products often tend to be a lot of hype and not much else, but this is sooooo good! Press a few drops into skin before bed and you’ll wake up with super soft, nice plump skin. I’ve also been putting a few drops on my horrible dried-out hands as an overnight moisture treatment and it really helps!

What are your current favourite skincare products? Have you tried any of these?

*contains PR samples
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16/01/2017

The Ultimate Winter Foundation Combo

the ultimate foundation combination
the ultimate foundation combination
Confession time- I was pretty much ready to write off Bare Minerals BarePro until I gave it a try in this combo. Powder foundations can be tricky at the best of times, so making it work for you is so important. 

If you have dry to combination skin, I think you'll love this little duo. My skin is having a weird time in winter and can't seem to decide whether it wants to be oily, dry or both at the same time (yay) so finding a decent base that doesn't go patchy AF in two hours is hard. 

Right now I'm loving layering these two bad boys together. I pop on a layer of my trusty Dermalogica Redness Relief Primer first and then a layer of Ganier BB cream in the extra light shade. I find it works best done with your fingers and then finished off with a buffing brush for a flawless finish. As it's a BB cream you won't get a full coverage but it gives a great even tone and can be built up in areas if you need it. 

Then the Bare Minerals BarePro comes in (I'm shade 01 Fair). A light layer of this applied with a small powder brush (I use Real Techniques Contour Brush) helps set the BB cream in place but also gives an extra touch of coverage where you need it. I like to leave a little glow left so don't go too heavy on the powder but you can customise by adding more or less depending on how glowy you like it. It lasts really well throughout the day, lasting around ten hours before I need a bit of a topup. 

I'm so pleased I tried this combination; I suspect the Bare Minerals would've ended up in the bin otherwise!  

What's your current favourite foundation? Have you tried either of these before? 

*contains PR samples
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