30 Dec 2015

December catch up

I'm back! I'm blogging again and feeling very rusty, but thanks for sticking round. This has been a crazy few months, with thesis madness, family time and lots of prep for Christmas but I think I'm starting to see a little break in my week where I can get some blog posts written down!

I thought to kick off, I'd catch you up on my Christmas

I had lots of Christmas meals, as expected. I went out with my doctorate cohort - these are my best girls! We tried to take a selfie but it turns out we aren't able to. Concerning as we qualify in 9 months



We went out for Christmas/Hannah's birthday on Christmas Eve Eve


Hannah (middle blonde) made this amazing Jamie Oliver Jaffa Cake!


I then went to the traditional Secret Santa on Christmas Eve - we've met up outside One Stop at 7 for years but I haven't done it for the last few years. It was great to get involved again!



Christmas day was lovely! It was different this year as my dad isn't well, but was still really great to hang out with my family and get spoilt! We've already agreed to have another Christmas in a few months when he's better!




My brother James has just got his own house and keeps calling mum for recipes so I made him a cook book on Blurb  - it was super easy, I used their software and cook book templates, then got all my family to email me their special recipes. I then cooked as many as I could and photographed them and put it all together. Blurb do the binding and post you a real cook book!


I also knitted him a badger head from the Sincerely Louise faux taxidermy knits book  with a top hat handmade by The Curious Panda


On Boxing Day, Sam and Teddy came home from Dover and we had our Christmas, and inevitably Ted was dressed up!


Overall lovely Christmas break. It's been wonderful to catch up with people, get some DIY and Thesis written and do lots of knitting and snuggling up with tea! 
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6 Dec 2015

Lazy Sunday Snuggles Set-up

Some Sundays I feel so exhausted from everything, I just need to set up camp on the sofa to knit, nap and hang out with the pets. I thought I'd share my set up with a few treats from Flamingo Gifts. As you can see, I've turned this side of the lounge into a little den! If you're struggling for Christmas presents for a snuggler in your life, check out the things I've listed below! They're reasonably priced and super-sweet!


What I'm snuggling with this weekend: Faux fur throw from Primark, Storage bag with my knitting in from Sass & Belle, Fox cushion from Sass & Belle, Cat microwavable cosy, real cat - adopted, world map flask by Wild and Wolf, seagull mug and lemon curd candle from Flamingo


My boyfriend jokes I'm the only person in the world, but I love seagulls - they're my favourite bird! They remind me of the sea and hanging out with my family in Weymouth as a kid. The lemon curd candle is really fresh and sweet - a lovely balance which doesn't feel sickly! Plus the thermos means I don't have to get up repeatedly to get more tea!


Button the cat seems to like the microwavable cat plushy, but Teddy the dog hates it! He keeps trying to push it off the sofa or bury it under blankets!

What's your lazy Sunday set up?
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30 Nov 2015

#secretstylist - Blogger Secret Santa and Come Dine With Me!

A little while ago, the lovely guys at House of Fraser emailed me to see if I'd be part of a blogger secret santa. Being a huge lover of this type of swap, I immediately agreed. A few weeks later, I was posted some lovely necklaces - Lonna & Lilly Set of Three blue necklaces.

I wore them out at the weekend for another round of Come Dine With Me with my friends. The WhatsApp discussion before dinner was around wearing our pyjamas to dinner - I think a lot of us were feeling tired in the pre-christmas rush!


I wore: Pyjama top from Accessorize, leatherette leggings from Long Tall Sally, cranberry suede heels from tReds (which are down to £4.99 at the moment in almost all sizes and are the MOST comfortable heels I've ever owned!), Erika Knight "Rib Wrap Cardigan" which I finished knitting that afternoon, and the necklaces! 




I teamed it with my favourite makeup look for winter - MAC Face and Body Foundation and MAC powder on top, MAC Pro Longwear concealer on spots, and Bourjois Healthy Mix concealer around eyes.   Maybelline liquid eyeliner in Matte finish, Benefit Roller Lash Mascara, MAC casual colour blush in keep it loose and MAC lipstick in Sin 


The necklaces were lovely, I loved the layering look, although I had to get lots of help from Sam to get them to line up perfectly! It would have been easier if they were one clasp at the back for me! I loved them though and the girls said they were really dainty and cute. They were a great colour for me, and I love gold over silver so are great for my wardrobe! Thank you very much to my secret santa, they are very me!



Dinner was lovely as usual! We had a fancy feast of cheeseboard and beer tasting for starter, pies for main course with the most yum cauliflower cheese, and sticky toffee pudding for pudding (from this Jamie Oliver recipe which was just DELICIOUS! It was lovely and casual, with everyone bringing chairs, drinks and lots of gossup!


Next Come Dine with Me is supposed to be me so if you have any great ideas please let me know! I need recipes which can be cooked in a tiny kitchen, hopefully in advance!
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24 Nov 2015

Review: MAC Studio Conceal and Correct Collection: Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation

A little while ago, Debenhams sent me the MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation to try out. This easy to apply compact promises to conceal and correct all in one, making makeup easier to apply on the go. 

The Packaging: 




The foundation comes in a standard MAC black case, but it has a clip which makes it easier to open, and means it stays shut better in my bag! The pan containing the foundation flips up to reveal a sponge which can be used for top-ups. The lid has a good sized mirror in making application on the train easy!

The Foundation: 
So this is my face with the right half covered in the foundation, applied with the sponge. As you can see, it gives a good level of coverage and but reflects light so my skin doesn't look flat and dull as with some other powder foundations.

It applies easily - this is colour NC15 which matches my cooler, light skin. I would recommend going into the shop to get colour matched as there is a huge range of colours and skin tones which can be matched - for example, neutral, warm, cool or combination skin colour tones (represented by N, NC, or C letters) and then how light or dark your skin tone is (represented by the numbers).


As with all powder foundations, when you apply it thickly all over you do get a matte base, but this has quite a velvety texture rather than a powdery one. I know from my oily skinned teenage years that some powder foundations gather around creases around my nose and mouth and look really powdery, where as this looked very fresh for most of the day, with a top up on the train home. I also felt it kept me from getting too oily during the day and held well, fading off naturally rather than too patchily. I also felt it was very light and my skin could breathe all day - I haven't had any spots from using it.

It did conceal my spots well (check out my chin spot which you can't see), but I chose to put a lighter covering on my nose so my freckles still showed through, giving a more natural look.


Overall, I really like this powder. I've found it really versatile and have been applying it with a big fluffy brush over my liquid foundation for the day, and then popping it in my bag so I can top up before I go out after work. Also, I've found it reacts well to having concealer and bronzer layered up on top of it, including gel and liquid blushers which don't cause the powder to roll up or go cakey.

The foundation costs £19.50 and is available from all MAC retailers including Debenhams. Remember if you want to win this product for free, enter my MAC giveaway which closes at the end of the month!
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14 Nov 2015

Cooking my way to a healthy smile! A fancy sausage and mash recipe

A few weeks ago, some bloggers were set the challenge of creating a recipe which was great to keep your smile healthy! 



In my mind this meant just no sweets, however we were sent some guidance on what foods were good for our teeth from Simply Health. I didn't realise the teeth-cleaning properties of some foods! 



and we were sent some Abel & Cole boxes with these foods in, which Teddy immediately tried to claim for his own. I think he could smell the sausages and chicken! 


On Sunday evening, I decided to whip up a meal, using some of the key ingredients. Looking through the list, we realised that the apple and celery ideally had to be raw for the tooth-protecting qualities to work so we decided to focus on the other ingredients and make a yummy sausage and cheesy-leek mash with carrots and spinach dinner. Here's the recipe:

Sausages and Cheesy-Leek Mash with Carrots and Spinach

You will need

  • 1 leek
  • 1 onion
  • 4 potatoes
  • cheese
  • butter
  • milk
  • sausages (these are Abel and Cole gluten free ones)
  • Cute carrots
  • Fresh Spinach 
  • Gravy granules

How to:

1.  Preheat the oven to about 180 degrees. Chop the leek up and fry it in a little butter and salt until going golden. Put to one side


2.  Peel the potatoes and chop into chunks. Put them on to boil (I used a pressure cooker) until mashable

3.  Meanwhile, simmer the carrots for 10 minutes and put the sausages in the leeky frying pan on a medium high-heat



4.  When the sausages look cooked all over, stick them on the bottom shelf of the oven. Drain the carrots and put into a roasting tin, drizzle on a little honey if you like and put them in the top shelf of the oven. 

5.  Chop the onion and put in the sausagey frying pan, fry over a medium heat until soft. Add in some water and simmer for about 5 minutes before adding in the gravy granules to taste.

6.  Heat a small frying pan, add a tiny bit of butter and wilt the spinach for a few minutes until it looks really green and glossy


7.  Drain and mash the potatoes with a little butter and milk. Grate a big handful of cheese and chuck it in along with the leeks for a tasty mash. 

Serve and enjoy, remembering the cheese and spinach are good for your smile! And having yummy comfort food makes you smile too! We had lots left over for lunch the next day. Plus the mash alone would be great fried the next morning with ketchup! 


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12 Nov 2015

Review: Waterproof sn"Ugg"ly boots - sheepskin boot wellies! + Discount Codde

It's wintery, wet and rainy out there and I'm having to come to terms with dog walking in the winter (e.g. buy a waterproof coat and suck it up). A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Cuckooland.com who told me they had waterproof, UGG style sheepskin boots.


These fluffy beasts are the Blackfox Waterproof Sheepskin Style Wellies from Cuckooland.com and cost £34.95. When I got them last week, I immediately thought "well they're not going to be actually waterproof". They look and feel almost exactly like UGG boots (except heavier). They are made of a PVC material which is textured like sheepskin, and have a really furry, super warm lining. 

To test them, I did what any good scientist would do - found the biggest, most flooded local river and went for a paddle with the dog. As I said, I don't own a coat so I am wearing my boyfriend's! I've got one on the Christmas list already! 


Teddy is learning about water - he's still quite nervous but if he sees another dog in the water he's straight in! 


If you'd like a pair to get you through the winter, I have a 10% discount code for you all! Just enter LAURENLOVES10  at checkout for your discount



 Happy Splashing!
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9 Nov 2015

MAC Cosmetics Giveaway!

I've been blogging for about 5 years now, sometimes fairly infrequently due to my doctorate, and you guys have stuck around. I've really treasured all your comments and the chats on Social Media, you've made me smile and kept me going in the depths of thesis hell. To say thank you, I thought I'd run a classic blogging giveaway - MAC makeup!


I was recently given a John Lewis voucher and thought I would love to use it to give back to my readers! So, would you like to win £30 of MAC Cosmetics for your Christmas present? Have you had your eye on a lovely lippie? Desperate for a new eyeliner? Want to grab yourself a new foundation to see you through the Christmas parties? Here's your chance!

What would you choose? Velvet Teddy lipstick and Spice Lipliner to create the perfect Kylie Jenner lips? A new lippie and eyeliner? Maybe a duo palette with two eyeshadows or a new foundation?



Enter the giveaway below and win a prize. Each way you enter will increase your chances of winning. Once you've entered, head on over to the John Lewis website to pick what combo of things you would like! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Please note: The contest will close at midnight on 30th November 2015. Entries will be checked and the winner will be contacted before it is announced. This giveaway is open to UK entrants ONLY. Any entrants from other countries will be discounted. I can either post the voucher, or order the items chosen on the John Lewis website (if in stock) and have them delivered to you. This giveaway is not supported by John Lewis - it is a voucher I was given. 
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8 Nov 2015

DIY Beauty Products with #MiraMessMakers

On a lazy Sunday, I love nothing more than a pamper. The clever guys at Midas Touch Crafts recently teamed up with Mira  to create some "recipes" for beauty products using things you might have around the house. We were sent a range of recipes, but I tried out the lip scrub and scrubby face mask ones - combining my loves of baking and skincare! 



How to: Make a lip scrub

This is an easy one - combine some brown sugar (the scrubby thing), with a little coconut oil (for moisture), some honey (to bind it all) and some cinnamon for flavour



Mix it all together and label your little jar!



How to: make a face mask and scrub
This scrubby face mask uses wholesome and yummy ingredients! Get a handful of oats, add some cinnamon, honey to bind it all and a squeeze of lemon. Doing some research, it seems that honey and cinnamon are really great acne fighters as they have antibacterial properties. Lemon is contested - some saying it's good for acne, some saying it makes your skin too sensitive. Maybe give it a go and see how it works for you. Mix them all together and try not to mistake them for overnight oats (although it looks yummy)



You can also burst some vitamin E capsules and pour them in for more skin-soothing benefits if you want to sit with this as a mask for 10 minutes before you scrub


If you're after some DIY pampering this weekend, give these recipes a go and let me know how they work for you! Happy scrubbing! 


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6 Nov 2015

Review: Body Shop Drops of Youth Range #BloggersSkincareGuide

Firstly a disclaimer: I'm a cynical person. I've never bought anything in The Body Shop before because part of me felt if it was so natural and good for the environment, it probably wouldn't do anything to my skin. I would like to state here, that I was very wrong.

Since the weather has changed, my "approaching-late-twenties" skin has been suffering. It's irritable, dry in patches and looking really dull and grey. I have been attacking it with face masks and acids but nothing seems to do the difference. Coincidentally, I was sent some items from the Body Shop Drops of Youth Range to test out a little while ago. I have been trialling the Drops of Youth Concentrate, Bouncy Sleeping Mask, eye concentrate and Wonderblur and really feel they have made a huge difference!


The Drops of Youth Bouncy Sleeping Mask is an amazing. verging bizarre product! It's an overnight face mask, which is something I've not tried before and delivers a huge dose of moisture overnight. In the tub, the texture is like cornflour gloop from school - a really thick, self-levelling cream when left, but becomes firm and bouncy when you touch it! You apply it by scooping  little out with the spatula, and then massaging into your face. You don't need very much as it can be very thick and a little goes a long way. You then leave it to settle while you get ready for bed and it soaks in, going clear and leaving a slightly tacky texture on your skin. Overnight, it works its moisturising magic, and in the morning my skin looks plump, brighter and there is no residue on the pillow. I am incredibly impressed and think I'll keep up the twice a week regeime for the lovely glow. It's £24

Wonderblur (£17) is a blurring primer which reduces the appearance of pores, fine lines and some wrinkles whilst moisturising. This is a lovely little primer but takes a while to get used to the right application. I put some on to demonstrate the blurring to my boyfriend. He then put too much on and had a peely face for the rest of the day.

The Drops of Youth Concentrate (£25) was a surprise find! Most concentrates I have which give a boost of moisture are really shiny and really only suitable for the night, however this is mattefying! It took me an embarrassingly long time to work out how to use it - the lid has a little pump button on the top. Inside the lid is a glass pipette! When you press the pump, the pipette sucks up the concentrate so you have a perfect "dose" of product. 2 drops tends to cover my face, and soaks in instantly to give a matte finish. I use it under my normal Clinique moisturiser and I have genuinely seen a difference in my skin - my makeup goes on much more easily and my skin is more radiant. It looks plumped and fresh and I only need a little highlighter under my eyes. Super pleased!

Finally the Drops of Youth Eye Concentrate (£19) - another product which required a PhD to understand! This is a refreshing, smoothing eye cream with a small pump and a cool, metal rollerball which delivers the product. It dries with a  highlighting effect, making my eyes look less tired and with fewer wrinkles and reduced eye bags. The cold metal roller makes eyes feel refreshed in the mornings and helps concealer apply more smoothly. After working for hours and hours on my research and placement recently, I definitely need to conceal my tiredness!

Overall - I am honestly, completely blown away by these products. They are just fabulous. Perfect for my skin type - the beginnings of fine lines yet still oily and spotty in some ways. They are really light and apply beautifully. After a really stressful week, these have made me feel and look so much fresher. Absolutely worth the investment if your 20-something skin is grey and thirsty, even if you have always had an oily skintype.
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2 Nov 2015

Halloween Wedding!

At the weekend we were lucky enough to be invited to a Halloween Wedding! Emma is one of Sam's friends from school, but we all met again at a wedding earlier in the year and got invited to Emma and Chris' wedding on Halloween in Dover. 

The bride and groom looked amazing, complete with a pumpkin bag from Yoshi 

I wore an ASOS bardot midi dress (£20) which I felt quite self conscious in! and Sam wore a lovely red Farah shirt from ASOS 



 There was an abundance of pumpkins and a nightmare before Christmas wedding cake







I don't know what happened to the camera in this photo!

It was a great night, meeting lots of Sam's friends and old school friends. We had such a lot of fun! Thanks again Emma and Chris for inviting us
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