Friday, 31 May 2013

'Beam Us Up Scotty...!'


Well there's another half term gone by! My hubby had today off work and we'd booked to take the kids to see Star Trek Into Darkness (before we realised it was going to be such a glorious day!). All I can say is 'Into Darkness' did not disappoint - WHAT A MOVIE!!

Hubby and I are huge 'space movie' geeks (having grown up with the original Star Trek series) and we were seriously more excited than the kids.  We'd prepped ourselves suitably a couple of week ago by revisiting the original Star Trek remake.  I was literally enthralled (sat there with my popcorn) and didn't want to come back down to earth (no pun intended!). Can't believe one minute I was on the edge of 'Space...the final frontier...' embroiled in the adventures of Captain Kirk, Spock and co and now I'm at home cooking chilli ...

Here's a trip down memory lane for all you fellow old 'Trekkers' out there ...

Until we meet again my friends...'Blog long and prosper...!'

'Jen out...' x

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

NOTD - Top Shop 'Stage Dive'

Bonjour ...

I bought this polish a couple of weeks ago from Top Shop (obviously) in 'Stage Dive'.  I do love a good orange and it was just love at first sight ... (also bought a top which looked really good on the hanger but when I got it home it made me look like a sack of potatoes so that's going back!).

Anyway - got Stage Dive out in the sunshine over the weekend ...

This is my first nail polish from Top Shop and I found the consistency a little watery when applying and the first coat was pretty streaky. Still can see some faint streaking after the second coat but I don't think it looks too bad and may well be down to my useless application technique!   It was pretty standard 'drying time wise' - 10 mins or so? It didn't last terribly well unfortunately and had chipped within two days (I've now bought a new top coat so will try it out and see if I have better results).

To be honest though - I'm so head over heels in love with this colour - it's verging on fluorescent but not quite. It's just a lovely bright, sunny, happy colour and it cheers me up every time I look at it - sad but true! As you can see I applied it when the sun was shining over the weekend, now were back to normal with grey skies and pigging rain I'm going to need some 'bright nail therapy' more than ever!

Stage Dive is priced at £5 and you can check out the rest of the Top Shop Nail Varnish range right here.

Have you tried any Top Shop Polishes? What's your favourite nail varnish for 'bright nail therapy'?

Jen x

Monday, 27 May 2013

Vichy Aqualia Thermal Serum - Review

Hope you've all had a good Bank Holiday - at least the weather behaved itself for once!

The Vichy Aqualia Thermal Serum is something I broke my spend ban over a few months ago - (sorry!) I'd sort of slipped out of the habit of using a serum within my routine and was desperate for some extra hydration in the midst of the extended cold winter. According to Vichy the serum is meant to intensely hydrate and fortify sensitive skin, contains Thermal Spa Water and is enriched with hyaluronic acid ....  

The serum comes in a transparent glass bottle with a (very easy to use) pump. It has a light silky gel/lotion texture which glides on and is instantly refreshing, cooling and soothing on the skin. The fragrance is fresh but not overpowering.  It can be used day and/or night either on it's own (I imagine for very young or oily skins - obviously neither apply to me!) or under your usual moisturiser.

Initially I just used at night under my Emma Hardie night cream (I only need one pump of serum) and found that it alleviated that all too familiar 'tight'  feeling over the cheeks.  I then stopped to try out a different brand of skincare (as you do) and after a while started to see the difference in my skin, obviously a combination of things, the change in skincare, the continued cold weather and I was also ill with a heavy cold/cough at the time and basically my skin just looked and felt rubbish.

I therefore returned to my usual routine including the Vichy Aqualia Serum and my skin feels a lot better.  I'm not sure about the '24 hour continuous hydration' element - at the moment I'm having to use this both morning and evening as I feel my skin needs it.  I can tell if I've forgotten as I use a lot more moisturiser and the 'tight' feeling returns but it definitely helps with plumping my skin up and keeps it feeling comfortable for the day. (Obviously I realise I need to drink more water to help with the overall situation, something I'm particularly bad at when I'm not at work.)  I've used it over the eczema prone areas on my face which are still flaring up now and again and it hasn't irritated my skin further.  It seems to have been one of those occasions when you don't realise that something is of benefit to your skin until you stop using it?

At £17/30ml (which I don't think is a bad price) I'll most probably repurchase - it's a good product for me to keep within the old skin routine and would be particularly refreshing to use throughout the summer. I'd also like to try out some of the other products from the Vichy Aqualia Thermal range.

Do you suffer from de-hydrated skin? What products do you use to combat it?

Jen x

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Great Hair Dilemma ...!


It's got to that time again where I'm due for my hair cut.  (I have a young friend at work who has the most accommodating hair - she has it cut and coloured approx twice a year and it still looks ok in between  - how is this possible?!)  I have to cut/trim every 8-10 weeks - my hair is so fine the split ends are more apparent and I really can't leave it any longer - it just looks like a proper pigs ear otherwise!  It's reaching down to my shoulders now and true to form all the usual dilemmas have arisen ...

Should I have it lopped off (again)?
Should I have one last blast at growing it and laugh in the face of thinning mid lengths/ends?
Should I have it highlighted (again) or do I go with the semi-permanent I had last time - and if so do I let Phil (my poor old long-suffering hairdresser) apply it or have a bash at colouring it myself?  Going au naturel is not an option any more - I don't have masses of grey but where I do have them they stick out like a sore thumb!

So ... after a couple of weeks of deliberation I've more or less decided to go for the chop (sod this growing lark!), just need to keep enough length to be able to pin/tie back in a fashion!  Of course in a perfect world my hair would look something like this...

...with a grown out fringe, bit of bedhead 'unkempt' theme going on...

and/or this...

... choppy fringe with warm caramel highlights, not too 'done'...

I know it's not everyone's cup of tea but the undone thing is perfect for me. My hair (and face) just doesn't suit anything too contrived.  I'm much more comfortable when I'm a bit mussed up - which is just as well really!

Last time I had a heavier fringe cut in though I ended up looking a bit like this...

Not that I've got anything against old Velma mind...just not the 'look' I'm after at my time of life!

And without the correct shaping/layering/styling products/tools I could end up looking like this...

Again - no offence to Hazel O'Connor - loved her in the film Breaking Glass and I was totally in love with the young and cheeky Phil Daniels at that time ... see below...

Went off at a tangent then - sorry - anyway going to sort my appointment out, and hopefully I'll not have changed my mind again before I get to see old Phil (my hairdresser that is and not Phil Daniels!) ...

What's your biggest hair dilemma?  How often do you have your barnet cut/coloured?

Jen x

PS Thinking of getting a 'styling tool' to help sort out the mop in the mornings, maybe something like this? Any thoughts? What 'tool' do you use in the morning - any recs for me (no rude answers please!)?

Monday, 20 May 2013

Liz Earle Offer On QVC Today!


Just wanted to let you know that QVC 's Today's Special Value is from Liz Earle (as if you hadn't already guessed that!) ...
The Liz Earle 8 Piece Instant Radiance Collection


  • 1 x Cleanse and Polish (100ml full size) 
  • 1 x Instant Boost Skin Tonic (50ml travel size) 
  • 1 x Skin Repair Moisturiser (50ml full size) 
  • 1 x Brightening Treatment Mask (50ml full size) 
  • 1 x Gentle Face Exfoliator (50ml travel size) 
  • 1 x Lash Definition Smudge Proof Mascara (8ml full size) in Black 
  • 1 x Sheer Lip Gloss (5ml full size) in Mallow 
  • 1 x Healthy Glow Cream Blush (2g full size) in Rose 
  • 1 x Botanical Essence No.100 (2ml) - sample
  • 2 x muslin cloths

The collection is priced at £44.98 plus P+P and looks like amazing value!   All you need to choose is which option of Skin Repair Moisturiser to go for and whether to have single or auto delivery (every 90 days - in which case you'd receive a different colour of blush and lip-gloss with the set).  You can check out full details/options directly from the QVC website here.

Will you be treating yourself to a bit of Instant Radiance 'Botanical Style'?

Jen x

Friday, 17 May 2013

Love On My Mind and Indian Food!


How is everyone ...?  Been trying to get over the heavy cold that I succumbed to last week - these things do have a tendency to hang around and leave you depleted of energy once they get a hold.  Anyway, I didn't visit the gym for a week whist I was ill - that's a long time for me - so forced myself to go Tuesday night for a gentle workout.  I wasn't very enthusiastic on the treadmill I have to say ... until I heard this tune on my I Pod ...

Freemasons - Love On My Mind ...

Always loved this since it's release in 2005 - good grief 2005 - only seems like yesterday! This is a track that would have had me up on the dance floor of any club in my day ... not that I tend to 'do' clubs anymore ... nowadays it just gets me up on the treadmill...

So - enough of clubbing and back to reality!  As my youngest brother G left to return home to France this week, the other decided to turn up for a few days, so we were treated to a lovely meal Wednesday night when  Gourmet Gorman cooked for the family. Tandoori Pork, Chicken Mulligatawny and my Grandpa Richard's 'Devil Chutney' - (tomatoes, onions, chillies, mint and coriander I think!).  

All I've seemed to want to eat recently is Indian food - it's the only thing I've been able to taste...and I can confirm that all of the above tasted bloomin' marvellous!  Thanks Gourmet Gorman!

Have a great weekend!

Jen x

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Balance Me Rose Otto Body Balm - Review


I was recently contacted on behalf of Skin Nutrition - sister company of the Nutrition Centre.  Both companies are based in Cheltenham and are beauty and health retailers offering - between them - a range of natural/organic skin and body care together with vitamins, minerals, supplements and remedies. In fact the Nutrition Centre is actually celebrating "40 years in the nutritional supplement world" and have launched a new website which you can check out (and give feedback on) right here!

Here's one of the products I received - Balance Me Rose Otto Body Balm...

I think most of us are familiar with Balance Me products one way or another - their philosophy is "beauty that works naturally" and the company aim "to address and resolve every day skin conditions and concerns (without causing new issues in the process) and bring skin back into balance."    

Now I realise it resembles a pot of solid candle wax but don't be fooled my friends...!

Initially, I must say I wasn't sure this would be totally suitable for everyday use. In the main - pampering 'after-shower' time for me is a treat (Mums will know where I'm coming from).  I rarely have time to hang around rubbing stuff in - it  has to be a quick fix!  However - I was surprised at how easily the balm melts once warmed in the palms of your hands and then literally glides on in no time at all. The trick is to use just the right amount - you don't need loads - too much and it gets a little greasy (but too little and you end up dragging on your skin).  Used in the correct quantity it leaves skin soothed and silky with a veil of subtle scented rose and it makes me want to touch my arm all evening as it's so soft! (erm ... that would get me some weird looks I imagine!)

I've also used the balm as a concentrated overnight hand treatment. Having had a heavy cold recently -incurring all the necessary 'extra' hand-washing - my hands have been going through one of their extra-dry phases.  At times like this my hands can be quite sensitive to products which are overly-perfumed or cosmetic as such - natural products suit best and don't irritate them further. This has therefore been ideal to slather on last thing and let sink in overnight.  It seems to have done the job as my hands haven't started cracking and bleeding this time round!

The Rose-Otto Body Balm is priced at £20 per 170ml pot - which is more than I would usually pay for an 'everyday' body moisturiser. However - given that you only need a small amount at a time it should last for quite a while so will be something I'll probably put on a Christmas/Birthday list!

You can check out Balance Me products and other organic/natural ranges together with current offers on the Skin Nutrition website here and for vitamins, minerals, supplements etc visit the Nutrition Centre on their new website here.

Have you tried any Balance Me products - which is your favourite?

Jen x

Sunday, 12 May 2013

April Favourites and Empties ...


Better late than never... some empties, some favourites ...

Ojon Damage Reverse Shampoo and Conditioner - a duo I've been using on and off for a while (nicked it from my mum!). Tend to save it as a treat for my poor old hair - full review to follow.

Marks & Spencer Essential Extracts Coconut Hand and Body Lotion and Shower Gel - £1 each for pity's sake - you just can't go wrong - brilliant every-day shower gel. Body lotion sinks in really easily - both do their job and smell great - will re-purchase without a doubt. Did I mention that they're only £1 each?!

Impulse Loving Words Body Fragrance - I usually pick up a couple of cans of Impulse whenever they're on offer at £1 and always carry one in my handbag for a quick spritz! I'd like to say it's an ideal fragrance now that Spring has arrived as it fresh and fruity - but of course we've had our 2-3 days of sun and warmth ... (not that I'm bitter or anything!)

Revlon 'Just Bitten Kissable' Balm Stain in Honey - been a favourite for a while and is always in my handbag, so much so that the writing has worn off the tube. Really want to try out another lip stain - you can see my full review of this particular shade here.

17 Va Va Voom Mascara - great volumising mascara - full review here. Unfortunately it's been used for a while and dried up so will have to chuck. Would re-purchase as it's really well priced at £6.29 only I don't need any more un-opened mascaras just yet! Am I getting sensible in my old age?

Avon Glimmerstick Eyeliner in Cosmic Brown - this is a re-purchase and is coming to an end. It gets used most days if I'm honest for definition on the upper lid whether on it's own or mixed with another colour. It glides on dead easy, doesn't drag the skin and stays put all day. Had this in 'Blackest Black' as well (and seem to have lost it - very mysterious!).  Great price at around £6 (but usually on offer for less) so will re-purchase again.

Nivea Soft Moisturising Cream - kept this at work in my desk drawer to use as a hand-cream. Smells good, hydrates and softens. Will re-purchase but only when I've used up some of the other myriads of hand creams dotted around our house!

This is a favourite with me and the kids (and the girls at work too!) - hot bubbly chocolate - what more could you want?

So that's this month's lot - do you reckon by next month's Favourites/Empties we may have actually have had some decent weather for more than a few days?

Jen x

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

NOTD - Barry M Gelly Nail Paint - Watermelon


When I first looked at the Barry M Gelly Nail Paints - this is the colour which grabbed me immediately - don't ask me why - it just did! Somewhere between a deep blue and green the name 'Watermelon' must relate to the skin and not the flesh of the fruit...

Unfortunately I didn't find application very easy! The polish is pretty thick and you have to load the brush with just the correct amount - too little and it streaks, too much and it goes all over the place (for me anyway). I'm no 'experienced nail-painter' so I really had to take my time with it (something I don't have a lot of) and still managed to make a mess - is it just me?  It didn't last too long once on - it's meant to be a chip resistant formula but the ends were showing signs of wear and tear after a day and a half (with a top-coat). Also - just seemed to take a bit longer to dry than a standard polish - ah well.

Just as an aside is that this is the 'one' I took down to London with me for the Daniel Sandler Make-Up Masterclass - which can read about here. I painted my nails in the middle of the night knelt on the bathroom floor and managed a much neater job than the few times I've used it at home in broad daylight - so what's that all about then - are one's powers of concentration and dexterity heightened at that time of night or what?!

I do love the colour of 'Watermelon' though and the glossy 'vinyl-look' finish so I will be persevering (have another colour to try anyway) to see if I can improve my technique with it and add a bulletproof top coat - which I've still to buy. If anyone has any tips on how to apply this polish correctly and keep it chip free then please share - cos I ain't giving up just yet!

Have you tried the Barry M Gelly Nail Paints? How did you manage?

Jen x

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Percy & Reed 2 Piece Perfect Blowdry - Review


This is the Percy & Reed 2 Piece Perfect Blowdry kit I purchased just before Christmas from QVC,  when it was on offer at around £22 (ish).  Includes 'Superstar Supersized Bodifying Cream' and 'Smooth, Sealed and Sensational Volumising No Oil Oil (for fine hair)'.  I've been using them both on and off since December (but more on than off I must say) and as you can see there's still loads of the oil left.

I use the Bodifying Cream just as it says 'on the can', it works best for me with a smoothing shampoo and conditioner.  It's more of a lotion than a thick cream and between 1-2 pumps is all I need for my barnet (I happened to use far too much on one occasion and it did seem to weigh my hair down somewhat so quantity is key!) - spread through from roots to ends as per the instructions - it's good that you can place the product exactly where you want - instead of spraying half of it into the air! It works to create either a smoother blow-dry or a more undone rough-dry (Alexa Chung style - which is my favourite!). It leaves my hair with natural movement, volume and shine but no sticky or crispy residue as it doesn't 'freeze' the style in place if you know what I mean - so you can still run your fingers through your hair - always a bonus!

I don't think No Oil Oil needs much introduction - it's probably the best known product from Percy & Reed so far do you reckon? More of a serum than an actual 'oil' in texture, it can be used before blow-drying to help smooth and protect the hair - I didn't find that it added loads of volume for me this way - especially when used it with a smoothing shampoo and conditioner. However - it did make my hair super-shiny and 'swishy' and my friend actually told me my hair looked in fab condition - turn up for the books!  I've mixed it in with the Bodifying Cream (as Percy & Reed have suggested) and this works best for me. I then get the volume but also extra glossiness. Have also used a little extra as a finishing product as it's great at taming any frizzy, dry ends. It super-concentrated so you only need the tiniest amount.

Don't get me wrong - my hair is still very 'bad hair day' prone but this is a good combination of products for my fine, frizzy, thin hair - both perform different duties and married together they work really well for me so all in all a worthwhile kit.  And  - as with all the Percy & Reed products I've tried they smell amazing!

You can check out the Percy & Reed Bodifying Cream and No Oil Oil on their website here or in the 2 Piece Perfect Blowdry kit from QVC here.

What are your favourite hair products of the moment?

Jen x

Friday, 3 May 2013

Happy Anniversary Mr G!


Slight hint in the title there but it's our wedding anniversary today - 16 years ago it was a scorcher of a day and we were all relaxing after the meal and getting ready to dance the night away to various corkers including the following ...

Faithless - Insomnia ...

Slight dilemma over tonight ... my hubby's football team (his one other true love!) have a home game - he has a season ticket for pity's sake - missing one match surely won't matter, today of all days (and especially as they are particularly useless at the moment!). I told him so in no uncertain terms. It then turns out that the girls at work are going out into town tonight - the weather has improved and I haven't had a good night out in ages, I really fancy joining them for a few drinks and a boogie! Hubby has told me to go (so that he can go to football!).

After much deliberation we've decided to get the family round (my brother - also 'G'! - is home from France) and have Chinese with beer and wine - didn't fancy being stuck in town later on with hoards of disgruntled/elated football fans (will probably be the former!).  Turns out I'm driving the lads to pick the Chinese up so they can have a pint or two while we wait - I obviously have my uses...

Few pics from today...

Mum has surpassed herself again with our Anniversary Cake/Hubby surprised me with flowers!
We treated ourselves in HMV today (Trevor's collection is for me!)/I treated myself yesterday!

Hubby and brother 'G' have stocked up for the night!

What would you have done on your wedding anniversary - sent hubby to the match/gone out with the girls or spent a 'romantic' evening with a takeaway and the footie on the TV? 

Have a great weekend!

Jen x

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