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5 Ways to improve your morning routine

  1. Bye Bye Broken Sleep 

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This may be unpopular among those of you that love a good lie in, and I do admit I am rather partial, but many health experts suggest that as soon as you wake up in the morning you should actually get up rather than turning over for another snooze. You telling your body to go back to sleep after you’ve woken up in the morning, is no different to waking up in the middle of the night. That broken sleep pattern will only make you feel overtired during the day, so as soon as you wake up give yourself a little time in bed, but then get up – go watch some TV or check your emails and see how much more wide awake you’ll feel.

2. Get Your Lemon On 

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Forget grabbing sugary fruit juice or a coffee on your way out the door – water with lemon is the way to go. Hollistic websites suggest that it can improve your mood, boost your immune system, help clear your skin and can aid in weight loss. Plus – if you don’t leave the lemon in for too long – it tastes pretty nice too. Millie Mackitosh has been quoted saying that she drinks this every morning, so why not give it a go?

3. Pick Yourself a nice 8 Tracks Playlist

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I am an 8 tracks obsessive, ever since my flatmate introduced it to me last year I have probably played over 50 playlists. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s basically the Tumblr of music websites, instead of sharing photos members share playlists with hash tags. So you could search: #folk #indie #nightout #gettingready – whatever you wanted really. My favourite is #morning because it’s full of playlists with exactly the right songs to get me out of bed and in a good mood for the rest of the day. My favourite morning tunes are: On My Way – Rusted Root; Banana Pancakes – Jack Johnson; Don’t You (Forget About Me) – Simple Minds; Put Your Record On – Corrine Bailey Rae; Home – Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and Sunday Morning – Maroon 5 – among many others!

4. Shovel down a half decent breakfast 

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As I believe I have said before in this post. I LOVE breakfast. It’s easily my favourite meal: toast, cereal, eggs, pancakes, teacakes, yoghurt, porridge – the opportunities are endless and I honestly love nothing more than a long weekend breakfast. Sorry for the cliche, but I’m a big believer that it is indeed “the most important meal of the day”. If I don’t have a good breakfast in the morning, I’m basically a zombie before I have anything to eat that day, and then I crave coffee and bad food. Start your day with egg, they’re a great source of protein and will help keep your energy levels high throughout the day.

5. Splash your face 

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Since I bought my beloved Arbonne Cleanser I have been washing my face a lot more in the mornings, I find there’s nothing like a splash of cold water in the face to really wake me up for a 9am lecture. Washing your face with cold water in the morning helps to reduce any swelling under your eyes from the night before, and it naturally brightens your face by increasing blood circulation. Pick cold water over warm if you can bare the shock in the morning, it might be just what you need to start the day on the right foot.

Thanks for reading. Do you have any tips for getting out of bed, particularly on these chilly mornings? 

Harriette

Lazy Sunday | Things I’m Loving At the Moment

It’s Valentine’s Day weekend and as such I have decided to write a Things I’m Loving post. Here’s a list of the little things I am obsessing over at the moment….

ACCESSORIES | Olivia Burton Winter Garden Leather Watch

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I have been absolutely head over heels in love with Olivia Burton watches ever since I wrote my Top High Street Watches post, back in god knows when. Her designs are simple and delicate, and I always planned one day to invest in a really beautiful watch. I’ve had some really horrible news this week, which I’ve really been struggling with, and my mum and my boyfriend have been really amazing supports on the phone in reassuring me that things are actually ‘going to be ok’. Anyway, I came home on Friday to a parcel from John Lewis and my wonderful mum had sent me this lovely surprise with the note “Just a little something to cheer you up, Love Mum”. I nearly started crying right there, because it was so sweet and thoughtful and the watch itself is so chic and elegant. I am absolutely in love, I can’t stop looking at it. I would definitely recommend having a look at her collection on John Lewis or ASOS, as she does a really great range of watches, some at pretty reasonable prices.

EATS | Hot-Cross Buns

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It’s that time of year again where there are hot cross buns all over the supermarkets, and although I have never liked them before, I am becoming a bit obsessed. Get me a hot cross bun, a cup of tea and a book at the weekend and I will be happy. They’re so yummy and so cheap to buy! I’m very excited to do a little Waitrose shop soon and see if I can pick up a few different flavours – cinnamon and raisin here I come!

FACE:  No7 Makeup Goodies

IMG_0127I’ve had a pretty hectic couple of weeks, with lots of Uni work to do, and as a result my makeup situation has gotten pretty dire. I ran out of foundation completely on the day I planned to go into town to restock my makeup bag, and ended up covering my face in the last smidgen of concealer I could find – not a good look. It was rather embarrassing, when the lady at the makeup counter asked me what base I had used that morning: “Ermm…”.  On the search for both foundation and concealer, I was hoping there might be a good deal in Boots. It was the Buy One Get One Half Price deal at No7, which caught my attention, and of course the added luxury of finding a lady to help me find my perfect shade without too much effort, was too good to pass up.  I ended up walking away with the Beautifully Matte Foundation and the Instant Radiance Under Eye Concealer, both of which match together beautifully. And it only came to £20, a little bit more than I might usually spend, but so far I’m really happy with both products so that’s good news, and of course having proper makeup doing its actual job is always nice.

HAIR: Schwarzkopf Essence Ultime Crystal Shine Shampoo and Conditioner

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On this journey to get myself back to some kind of normality (just trying to make myself feel more like myself really) I have also had my hair done – as the roots of my blonde highlighted hair where almost covering the whole top of my head, making it look more like I’d just dip-dyed the ends blonde, as opposed not having enough time/money to sort my barnet out. I did, however, read a comforting snippet in Fabulous Magazine, which was talking about how roots are in, so that was nice for a week or so. But I am happily blonde again, the split ends have been trimmed away and my mother (again the wonder that she is) has found me the best shampoo and conditioner set. I’ve actually had this set since Christmas, but I sadly forgot to take it back with me to Uni and as a result we have only just been reunited. It’s the Schwarzkopf Essence Ultime Crystal Shine Shampoo and Conditioner developed with Claudia Schiffer and it is absolutely divine. The scent is a bit hard to put my finger on, it smells quite like coconut and vanilla, and completely like you’ve just had your hair professionally washed in the salon. And it feels like that too, really sleek and soft and light – I am completely in love. The shampoo and conditioner set themselves, do come in at about £10 together, fully priced (fingers crossed for some deals soon), which is expensive when I consider that I usually try and stick to more around the £3-£5 mark, but for a little treat or if you’re got a bit of cash to spare I was totally recommend these products – they literally make me feel like Claudia Schiffer after I’ve blow dried my hair, hair swishing adverts here I come!

WEAR: BDG Mom Jeans 

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I’ve been on the search for a pair of light denim Mom Jeans for a while now, so with Urban Outfitter’s tempting me with £10 off offer, I had to try a pair on. Then of course I had to buy them, just to see if they would potentially go with any of my tops at home – I can always take them back after all…. Although not quite as soft as my faithful black Topshop pair, these jeans are super comfy, and not too tough around the tummy area, which is nice. They’re a great colour for spring and are currently making me feel summery already, even if they do still have the labels in…

That’s my list of things I’m loving at the moment, what are you loving right now? 

Harriette

Lazy Sundays | Wandering around Bristol

Lewis popped down to visit me two weeks ago for Reading Week so we decided to go to Bristol. As it’s only about £10 and an hour away on the train it’s a pretty convent place to visit and there’s quite a lot to do. I had a quick google of things to do online and decided we should try and head for St Nicholas market. Luckily it’s a pretty straight walk from the station and we managed to find it without too much standing and staring at maps, looking touristy. I really loved the Market, it reminded me a lot of Camden, with the wonderful smells of street food and all the bright colours of market-stall selling. I was very tempted by the Eat-a-Pita stand, which I had read was one of the best places to eat in Bristol and by Pieminister (which is a new food outlet edition to campus this year, and one that I am obsessed with!)


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The Market was a lot bigger than we originally thought, with and assortment of shops selling books, records, vintage trinkets, haberdashery, chocolate and jewellery on one side of the food bit, and an indoor market selling everything from birthday cards to hot sauce on the other. I left Lewis in a few of the record shops and went in search of vintage finds.

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One of my favourite shops at the market sold homemade homeware items, most of which had a really cool, unique map theme. There where picture frames, bunting and ceramic decorations, all made using all fashioned maps and they looked really cool. I had to go and get some money out – as I never seem to remember that these are not the type of shops that take cards, and bought a really sweet ceramic heart for my bedroom

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There were a few other great stalls, including one with beautiful handmade jewellery – pendant necklaces and engraved bangals like the type that you might find on Etsy, and one that sold the most wonderful smelling candles. I could easily have spent about £50 in one go. Not to mention the really cool vintage shop on the edge of the market. Round the back of St Nicholas there was also a registry office, where a couple were getting married and we stood with the rest of the crowd and watched them come out to huge cheers and windswept confetti from their friends. It was a pretty cool moment.

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On the look out for jeans we then headed towards Cabot Circus, which if you don’t know is a really big shopping centre. Lewis found some jeans in Next and of course I dragged him around Mango, Zara, Pull and Bear and Topshop. Feeling pretty starved, we decided to go for lunch at Zizzi’s. I chose to sit outside, which was a bit of a mistake but the food was really good. We shared Carmelised Onion Garlic Bread and then I had a salad with butternut squash, chicken skewers and dough sticks and Lewis had a pizza. It was really nice, but that didn’t stop us picking up free Pumpkin Spiced Latte’s outside Starbucks – I mean, they were free.

We wandered around Cabot Circus a bit more and back over to St Nicholas Market and then headed back to the train, passing on our way a Sardinian restaurant, which looked amazing. We had a quick peak at the menu and saw that they sold Ichnusa, a beer made on and named after the island and had some sauces made with Mirto – a spirit made from berries that grow on the island. I was so excited to tell my friend Giulia about it, I think she’s planning a trip already.

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Overall, we had a really great time in Bristol. I’m sure there’s a lot more to do and I think we will definitely go back, especially as it’s not too pricey. There were a lot of cool looking shops and places to eat, so you could easily spend a day there just wandering around.

I hope you liked this post, have you ever been to Bristol? Are there any other great things to do?

Harriette

 

Lazy Sundays | University Instagram Snaps

I’ve been at back at Exeter for about 7 weeks now, and away from blogging for about 4. So I thought this was a nice, little, easy update on how things have been going recently.

Working from the top down, I’m so happy to be back in Exeter as it has all of this beautiful countryside! The image featured above is of my walk to University, which is really lovely when the weather is nice and pretty horrible when it’s not. | I was lucky enough to review some amazing Arbonne products during Fresher’s week – you can read my blog post about them here. Since trying them out I have HAD to buy both the primer and the cleanser and absolutely love both, my skin has never looked so good! | Ofcourse, I had to get my hair sorted when I got back to Uni, as I’d just sort of let it grow out over the summer. Getting it cut and coloured was just what I needed – even if it did come with a horribly big price tag….

I went home briefly for an orthodontist appointment about 3 weeks ago, and picked up these lovely bits from Sainsbury’s – the TU clothing section is definitely not to be underrated | Here I am with my two lovely housemates Giulia and Anna, out for Giulia’s birthday at a really great cocktail place called Urban Underground, I was about two cocktails down at this point and wearing my new Topshop leather dress from the summer sale | The next two are a few of my cooking innovations, inspired by the wonderful Londoner – if you’ve not checked out her blog yet, the food stuff in particular is amazing! Here I have made her Dip n Share Eggs, and her Tommy Tart.

Next up is the typical “mug of tea” photo. I was procrastinating heavily whilst reading for my course and made myself a cup of Peppermint Green Tea to help fend off my cold. I got this mug for my birthday and I absolutely love it, it’s by Sophie Allport who makes a range of mugs with different patterns on, and different phrases printed on the inside.| Lewis came to visit me for a week, during his reading week and we had a really wonderful time. The first image is from St Nicholas Market in Bristol [ which is a must-see and reminds me a lot of Camden] and the second of course is from Halloween. I went dressed as a creepy doll and Lewis went as a zombie, with his very own homemade blood stained T-shirt . | The final picture is from my favourite restaurant Bill’s, where we had an amazing brunch [just looking at that image again is making me hungry] and I drank so much tea because that teapot filled about 8 cups – bliss.

I hope you enjoyed this little post, it’s something a bit different. From now on I will be posting on here every Sunday and Tuesday, so if you liked this post make sure you look out for more! 

Harriette

 

Brightening up your Uni Room| Blaze On Chelsea Rose Fairy Lights*

So yes, I have returned to University, Year Two is well and truly on it’s way #scarythought #wheredidallthetimego #universitygoesquicklykids. But with starting again has of course come a lot of changes, I have moved into a lovely new house with some of my lovely girl friends and so far we are very pleased. The house is a lot more homey than a typical student house I would say, although not much warmer! As a result we – a bunch of 19/20 year olds – have all turned into a group of 80 year old ladies, shuffling around in slippers with our dressing gowns on, clutching cups of tea in our hands. We collectively drink more tea than any household I have ever know, and at the moment get through about 4 pints of milk a week. Skipping on a little bit, I have both loved and loathed the process of doing up my wonderful new bedroom, which is a lot more spacious than last year and so less disastrous when a certain 6ft 5″ boyfriend comes to stay. Of course it’s been nice to make it feel homey, adding all my little bits that I’ve collected over the years, but at the same time I have felt the pressure (among the other lovely girls rooms in the house) to make mine different. I came across Blaze On on a search for fairy lights. They make the most delicate and beautiful fairy lights in all different designs: stars, lanterns, hearts, roses, animals etc. so I was instantly intrigued. I really love putting up fairy lights in my room because they look nice, and can help a room feel warm and cosy. Every so often I just have those days were I really need to relax, and switching on some fairy lights, putting my candles on and sitting down in bed with a good book or a Netflix series just makes me feel very calm and satisfied. Blaze On themselves are a really great ethical brand. All of their products are handmade in Thailand with over 20 home-run businesses, who are paid for their skills so they have enough money to support their families and educate their children. They “purchase FairTrade and ethically sourced products wherever possible and practical,” and “prioritise suppliers whose environmental practices take into consideration the well-being of both the planet and the community“. All of the boxes that the products come in are recycled, and customers may look at a full guide of all of their resources online, if they want to know exactly what goes into making that product. Sounds good right? IMG_4363 IMG_4365 IMG_4366 I personally find post very exciting, and as this was actually the first piece of post delivered to my new house that wasn’t books for my course, I was literally skipping to the front door when my flatmate said there was a parcel for me. I feel like Blaze On take the parcel thing pretty seriously too, as my fairy lights were beautifully wrapped in orange tissue paper with a little handwritten note saying they hoped I would enjoy them and a complimentary daisy tea light (yes!). Blaze On sent me these beautiful Chelsea Rose Lover’s Bouquet fairy lights [there are a range of different colour combinations so it’s worth checking them out] and I was really excited to put them up on the beam above my bed. Unfortunately, student problems prevailed and so I had to wait a couple of days and buy some damage-free clear plastic hooks that I could stick onto the wall in order not to upset our landlord. Previously, I have tended to use either cellotape (classy, I know) or drawing pins to fix up fairy lights, but I bought the Command Decorating Clips with Clear Strips and I have been totally converted. Admittedly, it was slightly more than I wanted to spend on little hooks and they are a bit tedious to actually apply, but the way they just hold the fairy lights exactly in place and don’t randomly fall down in the middle of the night is great. IMG_4409 IMG_4418 IMG_4390 The roses themselves are really intricate, made from hand-screened mulberry paper with individual leaf-stemmed petals, and as they are mounted on a wire, they can be displayed in an open or closed position like real roses. Basically, they are just pretty fancy, they look absolutely wonderful even when they aren’t on as the colours are so pretty. And if you’re a student like me, you needn’t worry about it affecting your electricity bill as the warm white LED bulbs make them extremely energy efficient. So you don’t have to feel so guilty about accidentally leaving them on.  The only major criticism I would make is I wish they had a little on/off switch on the wire, as it’s a little easier than having to plug them in every time you want to put them on. IMG_4400 IMG_4408 IMG_4397 Overall, I absolutely love these fairy lights, Blaze On is a really cool brand, with a great ethos and the fairy lights are incredibly well made and look really beautiful. They have certainly brightened up my new bedroom and I’m sure they’d look great in any Uni room. Harriette Disclaimer:This product was provided to me free of charge from the company in order to review it. However the opinions expressed in this review are independent and my own. For a full disclaimer please see my PR/ Disclaimer page.

The No Nonsense Skincare Products*

This week, coinciding with my Fresher’s Week back at University, I have been lucky enough to test out some lovely new skincare products! I am a huge skincare fan and so I was very excited to try out a totally new brand that I hadn’t heard anything about before. If you have read my review of Sweet Cecily’s Lipbalms, then you might know that I am becoming very fond of beauty products that contain natural substances and companies that try to avoid nasty chemicals and animal testing. What is this magical new brand? One word. Arbonne.

Arbonne is a very unique beauty company, both in its set up and the products that it creates.The brand itself is not available in retail shops, but relies on the work of independent consultants like the lovely Emma Tellesey (@ArbonneEmma) who promote the company and its products, cutting out the middle man and thus making sure that you get more for your money. The consultants themselves benefit from commission on the products that their clients buy, and other perks like a large discount on all the products etc.

As previously mentioned, Arbonne products are free from nasty chemicals and animal testing, which is a great bonus as they are much better for your skin and your conscience. Although priced at a premium rate, they are considered to be high-end in their quality, with their unique, patented formulas.

Emma gave me the Arbonne FC5 range to test out, which she said is generally aimed at younger people’s skin.

IMG_4296 Cleansers + Toners IMG_4299 I tested out two cleansers, the Purifying Cleanser + Toner for Oily/Combination Skin and the Hydrating Cleanser + Freshener for Normal/Dry skin. As my skin is pretty fickle, I felt that both were pretty similar.

Generally I am used to using a cotton pad with my cleanser and toner, which involves little more effort than moving to and from my desk, however, with these products I actually had to wash my face, which I found made me feel a lot more awake first thing in the morning. Both cleansers contain natural products like fresh strawberry cells and golden jojoba, and they smell really fresh and clean and soapy, which was really pleasant.

Both cleansers were really nice to use, they were smooth and lightweight on my skin and foamed satisfyingly when rubbed onto my face so I felt like I was getting a really good clean. The end result, after only using a pea-sized amount of product was that my skin looked brighter, cleaner, fresher and more awake. Being a bit of a cleanser girl, I was really impressed with how little I had to use and how healthy and awake it made me look and feel.

Day Lotions  IMG_4304 IMG_4305 The two Day Lotions I tried, were the Oil-Absorbing Day Lotion and the Nurturing Day Lotion, both of which contain SPF 20. They both come in handy pump bottles, so that it’s easy to only use the small amount of product that you need. I was however, put off a bit at first as the white colour and thin consistency made it look a lot like suncream, which gave me the impression I’d be rubbing for ages before it actually sunk into my skin.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to find it blended into my skin really quickly with the same fresh, cucumbery, slightly floral scent that the cleansers had, prompting my boyfriend to cuddle me and tell me that I “smelt great” – always a bonus. Although I don’t think of my skin as particularly oily, I much preferred the Oil- Absorbing Day Lotion to the Nurturing one, as I found it left me with a wet, oily finish that I didn’t really like. It did however, make my skin look rather radiant and glowing, so that was pretty nice.

Night Cream

IMG_4302 IMG_4303The Moisturizing Night Cream I think probably got overshadowed by all of the other products that I was trying at the same time, and had I the time to test it out on it’s own, I probably would have got a better idea of what exactly it does. What I did get from it is that it uses ingredients such as fresh mango cells and olive leaf extract and has a much more floral and soothing scent than the other products in the range. Just like the other products, only a small amount is needed to completely cover the face and neck, and after applying my skin looked and felt really soft and healthy.

Primer

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I would argue that I have definitely saved the best until last. This primer is hands down the best one I have ever used (though I have to admit I have not tried a large variety of premium primers). It is absolutely fantastic! Just like the day lotions, again here the pump bottle comes in really handy as it makes sure you don’t waste any product – and one or two pumps is definitely enough which is great.

The primer itself has a gel-like texture, which instantly feels smooth and nourishing on the skin. It immediately reduced the redness on my cheeks and around my chin, and gave me a really healthy dewy glow so that I was happy to wander around the house all morning wearing it just on its own.

The true magic of this product however is revealed when you apply your foundation over the top. Typically I only use high street foundations, but with this primer it looked absolutely amazing. My skin literally looked photo-ready, as if my makeup had been done by a professional, absolutely radiant, mattified and pore less. And one major bonus to add, is that the texture of the gel works to smooth out the under-eye area and so I didn’t experience any of the usual concealer residue lines in the creases under my eyes. I was really, really impressed with this primer and I definitely think it’s one for my wish list, just because I think it can make even a cheap foundation look really expensive and well-applied.

The Round-up

As a whole I was very impressed with the FC5 range from Arbonne and the wonders that it did to my skin. All the effects were very positive: some little dried up spots, which generally would take ages to go away were gone within two days of using these products, and a few horrible little spots that threatened to move in around my chin area shrunk back to little bumps and disappeared. Miracle!

The top two for my wish list are definitely the cleanser and the primer, as I felt I could really see what they were doing – another benefit of Arbonne of course is that you get to trail the products in advanced to see which ones best suit your skin, but also so you can see what you’re paying for.

Although the products themselves are certainly more expensive than I would usually pay, I really do think that you get what you pay for, both in how far the products themselves actually go and in the visible results. My skin has looked disappointingly dull and lifeless ever since.

Have you ever heard of, or tried out any Arbonne products? Which ones did you test? 

Harriette

Strong Not Skinny

The word “role model” is often banded together with the idea of fame or celebrity in modern media, as the majority of big bloggers might be only too aware. Writing a blog that becomes very popular, or appearing in a reality TV programme can mean that an individual comes to be regarded as a role model, and that of course comes with the heavy burden of responsibility. A role model’s lifestyle, dress code and eating habits can easily be picked up by an eager fan, and this is where debates about good and bad role models arise.

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Made in Chelsea star Millie Mackintosh was criticised at the beginning of last month after sharing a photo of herself on Instagram and Twitter at a photoshoot. The uncaptioned photograph, showed Millie wearing a silver bikini, highlighting her slim, muscular frame. This Instagram picture quickly sparked outrage as Mackintosh’s husband, Professor Green retweeted the photo onto his own Twitter account, adding “#thinspiration”. Experts (according to The Daily Mail) criticised the couple for encouraging young girls to starve themselves. Despite Mackintosh’s prompt reply to her husband’s joke, highlighting that her message was actually one of “fitspiration”, the media soon caught hold, with the uploading of the photo and Millie’s “role model” status even being debated on popular ITV programme Loose Women.

As a young (just about still teenage) girl, who has followed Millie’s Twitter for a good year now, I would have to respectfully disagree that she is in anyway a bad influence to young girls. There are a plethora of horrendous and harmful images available to young people on the internet with the label “thinspiration” – often used by pro-anorexia groups – but this isn’t one of them. Mackintosh’s “strongnotskinny” message, which she promotes heavily both on her Twitter and Instagram pages, encourage healthy, clean, eating and plenty of exercise. Despite her slim frame, it is her strong body which she is promoting, a body far away from the skin and bones look incorporated in most “thinspiration” images.

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It is a sad and indisputable fact that the majority of women and increasingly, younger and younger girls, will at some point, or maybe several points in their lives think about losing weight. However, adding tone to you body, can give the illusion of lost weight without getting to an unhealthy stage. By acting as a role model for young girls, celebrities like Millie Mackintosh – who children should be made aware, are generally slim as part of their job description – are at least sending out a message that strong is the way to be, not skinny, whilst at the same time promoting the empowering idea of improving your body for yourself.

I have never been a girl who’s been desperate to lose weight. Of course I’ve had my moments of “Oh my God, my jeans don’t fit!”, but generally I’m quite lucky that I’m mostly happy with myself. Recently however, I have felt inspired to exercise at least 3/4 times a week, trying to add a bit of tone to my tummy, but also, in the hope it might have other health benefits, such as giving me more energy. Since going to Uni and being able to pick my own food, I’ve always tried to eat well. I’d rather make all of my meals at home from scratch and go for the occasional meal out than eat a ready meal [mostly because they taste vile]. If I can swap a potato for a sweet potato, I will and if I can have slightly more veg and meat on my plate than carbs I will.

Personally I don’t believe in dieting, as I really don’t think it’s sustainable. But making little lifestyle choices, like cutting out bad food and trying to eat more eggs and apples and low-fat yoghurts makes me feel like I’m doing my body a favour. And ofcourse, I’m not good all of the time. I absolutely LOVE bad food. Yesterday I had lunch out, came home and ate 6 profiteroles…. I’m not denying my body food in the slightest, I’m just trying to think more and more about what I’m putting into it.

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In the way of exercise, I am working on strengthening my body through cardio and strength exercises. I’ve been enjoying using Davina McCall’s Body Buff Workout Video, which provides a range of warm ups, workouts and strength exercises allowing you to focus on key parts of the body, as I’m going on holiday soon I’ve been focusing on my “abs”.

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We also at the moment have in our house a spinning bike, which my Dad borrowed from my Uncle in order to train for a cycling race. I was slightly reluctant to give it a go, as  I had previously read a tweet from a female comedian (I’ve forgotten who) that spinning is very much like being punched in the v***** – nice. I have to say the seat is not incredibly comfortable on our old model, but I’ve found once I’ve got all my gear on and found a great workout/pop/r&b playlist on 8tracks I’m pretty good to go AND it helps me mix up my workout if I need a change from Davina.

Personally, I think I’ve been really inspired by Millie’s #strongnotskinny mantra. To me it’s a really important and empowering message to send out to young girls, that if for what ever reason you want to slim down [although I do not believe in doing so if it’s unnecessary] then at least go about it in the right way, with a healthy diet and exercise, to strengthen your body rather than weaken it. Celebrities like this, should be encouraged to spread such a positive message about looking after your body. Hopefully when girls who watch Millie strutting her stuff in her Louis Vitton, look up to her as a role model, and admire her body they will be inspired by the her happy, healthy, balanced lifestyle.

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I hope you liked this post, to read Millie’s reaction to the media attention surrounding her Instagram photo click here.

Harriette

Sweet Cecily’s Cocktail Flavoured Lipbalms *

I really love finding new beauty brands, and Sweet Cecily’s is certainly one of my favourites so far. I stumbled across the brand at the beginning of the year, when I recieved their Mojito Lipbalm in a goodie bag at the Bristol Bloggers Meet. I was instantly intrigued by the small metal tin, with it’s quirky, vintage-style label and by the company itself.

As a student, I love a good cocktail and so the idea of a cocktail flavoured lip balm is definitely my kind of thing. I was very excited, when I saw that Cecily had tweeted to ask if any bloggers would be interested in trying their new “mystery flavour’. However, as well as just receiving the brand new Espresso Martini Flavour, I was lucky enough to find out I’d been sent another Mojitio Flavour Lipbalm and a Pina Colada Flavour Lipbalm alongside it.

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Sweet Cecily’s products are unique, they are all 100% natural – with no Parabens, Petrochemicals, harmful preservatives or SLS. None of the products, nor any of  the ingredients are tested on animals, and they are all made by hand in the North Yorkshire Moors. Sounds dreamy right?

One of my favourite things about Sweet Cecily’s lip balms, except the bold flavours and natural goodness, is the packaging. Each small, handy-sized lip balm tin [ which is no bigger than a 50p piece – cute!]  comes in it’s own coloured cardboard sleeve. The labels are also really sweet, with their circus style “C” logo on the front, and the intricate details, such as the lime and mint leaves on the Mojito Lipbalm and the pineapples on the Pina Colada version.

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The lip balms themselves are made from great natural products such as Shea Butter, Beewax, Almond Oil, Cocoa Butter and Sunflower Oil. The product itself inside the tin is hard like wax, rather than creamy like some other lip balms, but when rubbed with a finger the balm melts giving you a thin layer of oil, giving a light but nourishing application. As mentioned previously in a post, I much prefer this lip balm texture to some of the thicker,wetter ones, as they tend to leave me feeling all sticky. On the other hand, if you prefer those cream lip balms that are a bit more like a gloss, this might not be for you.

Now on the the flavours…

Mojito Flavour Lipbalm

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I’ve owned this Mojito Flavour Lipbalm for about 6 months now and I absolutely love it. The smell and taste is absolutely spot on, a kind of minty, lime, which reminds me every time of drinking homemade Mojito’s at my friend’s birthday party. Yum!

Pina Colada Flavour Lipbalm

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I’ve never actually had a Pina Colada, so I can’t really say how accurate the flavour of this one is. But I do really like it, it’s got a really sweet, fruity scent, with a hint of coconut.

Espresso Martini Flavour

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Here it is – the brand new Espresso Martini Flavour! The packaging for this lip balm is still being created Cecily informed us via Twitter. However, for now the little label with it’s white background and typewriter font got me all excited as it felt like I was sampling a top secret product.

I’m not a big coffee fan, but I really do love the smell of coffee and for me this lip balm is spot on at capturing that. It smells quite a lot like a coffee truffle, which is really nice. I even caught Lewis trying some as he loves coffee, and he really liked it!

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Overall, I think that the Mojito Lip balm is still my favourite in the Sweet Cecily’s collection, as I really like the minty, citrus taste. But I am looking forward to using these other flavours as well, and maybe trying a new ones. As well as these ones, other Sweet Cecily’s Lip balm Flavours include: Strawberries and Cream, Banoffee, Chocolate, Lime and Mango and Earl Grey Tea. At only £2.95 they’re pretty reasonably priced.

I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more Sweet Cecily’s products, I’m really excited to see what else they’ll come up with. With these great flavoured lip balms, I’ve got my fingers crossed for some candles. You can check out the Sweet Cecily’s range here at www.sweetcecilys.com.


If you’d like to find out a bit more about Sweet Cecily’s and about the lovely lady behind it all, you can read my interview with Cecily about starting up the company here.

Harriette

Summer Staples *

The benefit to being a June baby, is that my birthday comes right at the beginning of the summer, just as I’m itching to get my hands on a new summer wardrobe. I’m pretty good when it comes to summer clothes, as I tend to invest and keep items for a number of years. This year however, my clothes selection was in need of a serious update. So here are a few of my Summer Staples for 2014….

The Bold Playsuit

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I really love a good playsuit in the summer. They are so easy and light to chuck on and they can be easily dressed up or down for day to night looks. There also tends to be a wide variety of choice, on the hunt for a bold floral playsuit I was over-whelmed by the variety of choice in a range of different shops. I did however, immediately fall in love with this sunflower pattern from Pins & Needles at Urban Outfitters. It’s made of a beautiful silky material that’s lightweight and the colours are really bold and summery. I found that it hung on me a lot better than other playsuits, as I have somewhat of a boyish shape some playsuits tend to be a bit baggy around the top, but this fitted perfectly. I especially love the scalloped detailing of the neckline, which adds a pretty, feminine detail to this lovely playsuit. Dressed up with my big floppy hat and round sunglasses, I felt a bit like an old school hippy in this and I can definitely see it easily teamed with a pair of wellies ready for the festival season. 

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This is another playsuit that I got from Topshop a little while ago now in the Easter holidays. Like the one above, the pattern makes it easy to wear just on it’s own in the daytime, and it can be easily paired with a leather jacket and some lipstick for a smart casual night time look. I have worn this playsuit endlessly since I first bought it and it is certainly one of my favourite items of clothing.

The Floral Shorts/ Skirt 

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Summer florals are always a major trend at this time of year, and so I thought it was about time I got my hands on some summery bottoms. This skirt from Topshop for me ticks a lot of boxes as it’s not just floral but it’s also a lovely vibrant red colour. I am somewhat guilty of sticking to the same old colours… black, white, grey and the occasional pink or green. So this year I’m really trying to make an effort with colours and bold patterns that I might not usually go for. For me, this skirt is ideal as it can be paired with so many different outfits and accessories. Here, I have worn it with a little white crop top from Topshop, my Cleated New Look Sandals, my Forever 21 Round Sunglasses and my Floppy Topshop Hat.

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I featured these Daisy Print Culottes in a recent OOTD post and  I absolutely love them. Although they are black and white, daisies are my favourite flowers and so when I first picked these up in Topshop I knew I had to have them. Here I’ve paired them with a pretty, little, black scalloped vest top from Topshop. I really like this top, it’s much prettier and more flattering than a regular vest top and yet it easily goes with everything. Like my dark Topshop playsuit, these shorts are great in the day time but also can look really smart for drinks out with the girls, or date night.

The Striped Tee

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Nautical is in this summer. The classic blue and white striped top is certainly a summer essential in my book, again mainly because it’s so flexible. Here I’ve worn it with my red skirt, but it also goes brilliantly with denim shorts for a cool dressed down look, or it looks great with a good old pair of dungarees. This long-sleeved number has lasted me a pretty long time, as it goes well with a pair of Mom-Jeans in the winter or a leather skirt and also works for those colder summer days.

The High-Waisted Denim Shorts + The Cropped Top

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High waisted denim shorts and cropped tops are a match made in heaven for me. I am a big fan of anything high waisted as they give a lovely flattering vintage feel to any outfit. Cropped tops are always out in force during the summer and I have to admit I love them, but I tend to shy away from them. Although they are often pretty and summery, I find they can be unflattering if not worn with the right items of clothing. I certainly don’t have a wash board stomach and so I’m rather reluctant to put too much of it on show. I got these shorts last year from River Island, they’re a lovely light colour and of course can be easily paired with pretty much anything. I picked this cropped, vintage-style, floral top from Urban Outfitters in the sale, as I thought it was really cute and pretty. Together I think they just make a casual pretty outfit, without showing off too much skin.

The LWD

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Forget the LBD when summer comes around it’s all about finding the perfect Little White Dress, that’s pretty and feminine and shows off your holiday tan. I found this dress recently in Topshop and thought it was just what I was looking for. The two-tiered detail gives this dress a nice tailored look. And the scalloped edges and crotchet pattern give it a pretty, feminine style.

The Gladiator Sandals 

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I tend to buy a new pair of ‘summer shoes’ (generally sandals) every year, mainly just because once I get a pair I wear them religiously for the whole summer. These Chunky Cleated Sole Gladiator Sandals caught my eye a while ago in New Look. I was impressed by the cleated soles and the gold strap details, which I think make them look much more expensive that £24.99. The chunky soles are much better for your feet than really flat sandals, and the zip down the back is handy for easily slipping them on and off without all the fiddling with little straps. I’m confident that these are going to last me a good couple of summers.

2014 Summer Staples I have yet to acquire….

co ords and two pieces

Top to Bottom, Left to Right  : 1| Pins & Needles Floral Lace Crop Top and Lace Trim Shorts – £24.00 + £22.00 (Urban Outfitters).  2| Lexi Large Floral Bandeau + Shorts Co-ord Set – £20.00 (boohoo.com).  3| Ribbon Floral Co-ord Cami – £14.00 + £16.00 (BANK Fashion).  4| Vintage Renewal Floral Crop Top + Skirt in Blue – £28.00 + £28.00 (Urban Outfitters).  5| Bold Floral Shorts and T-Shirt – £32.99 + Out of Stock (Oasis).  6| Reclaimed Vintage Bralet and Shorts in Floral Print – £32.00 + £35.00 (ASOS).  7| Reclaimed Vintage Crop Top and Maxi Skirt in Floral Print – £30.00 + £50.00 (ASOS).

Kimonos

As Numbered: 1| Kimchi Blue Scarf Print Kimono Jacket – £55.00 (Urban Outfitters).  2| Denise Floral Woven Kimono – £15.00 (boohoo.com).  3| Parisian Yellow Leaf Print Tassle Hem Kimono – £24.99 (New Look).  4| Ribbon Floral Fringe Kimono – £25.00 (BANK Fashion).  5| Tropical Bird Kimono – £40.00 (Oasis).  6. Printed Waistcoat with Fringes – £12.99 (Zara).

 

Got your eye on some summer staples, but not quite enough funds?  Check out Raise.com, a new website which allows users to buy reduced gift cards, which you can buy here. AND you can sell your unwanted gift cards too. 

Harriette


 

* This post was originally written as part of Raise.com ‘s Closet Swap Campaign.

Birthday Celebrations in London

For my birthday last week, Lewis took me to London for a surprise meal out. I’d just got back from University so it was really lovely to get a spend a bit of time just the two of us and it was easy enough to hop on the train and stay over at Lewis’ student accommodation for the night. It was a nice day so we went to Covent Garden for a wander round. I love Covent Garden because there’s always something going on, whether it’s the decorations in shop windows or street entertainment.

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Here’s Lewis proving that he’s a 6ft 5″ big kid….

He wouldn’t tell me where we were going for dinner so I found it a bit difficult to decide what to wear. He just told me it was a sort of casual, cool place as opposed to a posh restaurant. In the end I decided to wear my new skirt (that he bought me as a birthday present) from Topshop and an Urban Outfitters top.

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Top – Urban Outfitters

Skirt – Topshop

Leather Jacket – H&M

Bag – River Island

Necklace – Republic

Shoes – Topshop

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I was so excited when I turned round a corner and saw Jamie’s Italien and Lewis told me that that was where we were going. I’ve been going out with this boy for two years now and he definitely knows how to impress. I was tempted to ask to sit outside as the little chairs and tables and lovely flower beds looked really inviting, however it was a little bit chilly so we decided to stay inside. The interior had a really cool warehouse feel – a bit like an old wine cellar – and cosy lighting. They had really cool copper taps in the bathrooms swell, which probably impressed me more than it should have.

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Of course I was very excited to get my hands on the menu. I’d purposely skipped lunch so I could enjoy every mouthful – knowing that Lewis would pick a good place to visit. There was certainly a lot of choice available, so I was pleased that I didn’t have to decide right away. Lewis went for a “Jamie’s Own” Liberta Beer, which he said was very nice. I was tempted to go for a cocktail but settled for an non-alcoholic Refresher, [fresh lemon, elderflower cordial & cranberry juice, topped with lemonade] which tasted amazing.

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After scouring the menu for a while, we both went for The Jamie’s Italian Burger [prime British chuck & flank steak with smoked mozzarella, mortadella, balsamic onions] and Funky Chips with fresh garlic and parsley. When the food turned up it was huge – of course Jamie Oliver isn’t know for making delicate little dishes and so I should have expected a good healthy plate of food. It tasted SO GOOD. The chips in particular were my favourite.

I said to Lewis if I could go back in time like the guy in About Time I’d go back and eat that meal a couple more times. I didn’t understand why in the film, he didn’t use his power to re-eat anything. We all have those moments where we eat something amazing and then feel sad when it’s all gone don’t we?

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I have no idea how I had room for dessert, but I couldn’t pass up trying this Raspberry & Chocolate Rippled Pavlova. My nan makes the BEST pavlova in the world, but sadly I haven’t had one in ages so I thought I’d give Jamie’s version a try. It was pretty nice and I especially liked the raspberry sauce, however I think my nan’s is still my favourite. Lewis opted for the Epic Homemade Brownie which was really rich and yummy.

After dinner we were both pretty full so went for a wander around The Strand to stretch our legs. Then we walked back across the Waterloo Bridge. I have been jealous all year of the fact that Lewis has this amazing view that he gets to see everyday on his walk to University.

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We were both quite tired after dinner so we ended the evening watching the last couple of episodes of Breaking Bad together in bed, a great end to the night as far as I was concerned.

The next morning I was eager to get up and out as we had to get the train back home at two, so Lewis and I decided we’d go back to Chelsea.

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We’d been to Chelsea previously and really enjoyed it. There’s a great range of shops and cafes on the Kings Road, and loads of pretty parks and fountains. Sloane Square in particular is wonderful to explore, and it was lovely to just sit and relax in the sunshine and people watch – there’s certainly a lot of people to be watching in Chelsea.

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Dress – Topshop

Leather Jacket – H&M

 Floppy Hat + Shoes – Topshop

After we’d wandered around the shops for a bit, we took a walk slightly off the main road and had a look at all of the beautiful rows of houses. I was particularly impressed with all of the well kept flower boxes.

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We stopped for a bite to eat at My Old Dutch, a really cool pancake place that I’d been to once before with my best friend and her family when I was 11 and really wanted to take Lewis too. The pancakes are pretty big (although admittedly they looked considerably bigger aged 11) and you can pick from the menu or customise your own. Lewis went for the simple, sweet ice cream and maple syrup choice and I chose a savoury pancake.

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It was sad to get the train home as I love London and I’d had such a wonderful couple of days with Lewis, but I felt like we’d managed to fit quite a bit into our day and a half and I was grateful to him for organising it all. Now I’ve just got to get my plans together for his birthday….

Harriette

Photo Credits: Lewis Foster