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I didn’t really want to call this a ‘haul’, but ‘things I got from Sephora recently’ doesn’t seem quite as catchy. Anyway. My Aunt & Uncle from the states came over to visit us recently and my Aunt, being the amazing woman she is, asked if I wanted anything bringing over. Here’s what I got.

Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick ‘Berlin’ – The first thing on my list was a liquid lipstick by Kat Von D and I am 100% on board with the hype around these. Yes, they’re inevitably drying, but my god, they don’t half stick around. I like that it doesn’t crumble or fade at the edges either, which is something that’s put me off liquid lipstick in the past. This colour reminds me of my all time favourite lipstick, MAC Crosswires, and coupled with its long-lasting properties, it gets a HUGE thumbs up from me.

Boscia Detoxifying Black Charcoal Cleanser – I had to get a cleanser didn’t it?! This is slightly different to the cleansers I usually use in that it’s a wash-off. Boscia are a brand I’ve had my eye on for ages so I decided to go for their most loved/highest rated product, the Detoxifying Black Charcoal Cleanser. I tend to use it in the morning when I’m short on time. It leaves my skin feeling clean, fresh and balanced, without any tightness. I really like this stuff and wish I’d have ordered a bigger bottle instead of the travel size in hindsight.

Farmacy Hydrating Coconut Gel Mask – I looove a sheet mask, especially when it’s from a brand I’ve not come across before. Farmacy are part of Sephora’s ‘scouted’ section where they put indie brands in the spotlight. I’ve only used one of the masks so far, after a long old day of celebrating. I think the reason my skin looked so good the next day was down to this bad boy that I left on for 40 minutes before bed.

Madame CJ Walker Coconut Oil – A new hair oil, again from Sephora’s scouted section. I’ve only used this once to date and I’m not sure I’m a fan. I’m really fussy with hair oils (so far the only one I’ve ever repurchased is Moroccan Oil) and on first use, this one just didn’t cut the mustard. The smell is sickly sweet vanilla and it didn’t leave my hair feeling anywhere near as nourished as my usual Moroccan Oil. Maybe it was just a bad first go, so I’ll persist to see if it manages to win me over.

Milk Makeup Hydrating Oil Stick – This caught my eye as it’s an oil in stick form. It smells heavenly and I’ve been using it by swiping it across my forehead, nose and cheeks then massaging it in. It’s an interesting concept, and I think that this might be a format we might start to see more of, but this one from Milk (a brand I LOVE by the way) just wasn’t hydrating or nourishing enough for me. Again, this is just my very first impressions, so things might change, but in the meantime, I think I’ll stick to using it add a slight sheen to my cheekbones for a super fresh makeup look.

Physicians Formula Eye Booster 2in1 Liquid Liner – Not from Sephora, but I had to include it. I think this was probably one of the first things I ever blogged about on here, which is a testament to how long I’ve loved this liquid liner from Physicians Formula. It has a calligraphy-style brush meaning it doesn’t ‘drag’ when you go over bits you’ve missed and the tip is so fine that it’s almost impossible to mess up dramatic cat flicks. Simply the best liquid eyeliner I’ve ever come across.

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AMSTERDAM GUIDE (1)

Amsterdam is probably one of my favourite city breaks I’ve done so far. The food was amazing, the architecture and canals stunning, and I absolutely loved the bike culture. I didn’t take many photos from our trip, I concentrated mainly on the video below which was so much fun to put together.

Without further ado, here’s what we got up to/what we’d recommend.

WHAT TO DO //

  • Heineken Experience – I’m not going to lie, this didn’t really sound like my cup of tea, but it had excellent reviews and most of the group  really wanted to visit. I’m SO glad we went because it was brilliant. I honestly wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. I’d highly recommend buying your tickets online otherwise you’ll face a monster queue once you get there.
  • Bike Ride in Vondel Park – We spent a good 4 hours cycling around the main park in Amsterdam. I believe it’s Amsterdam equivalent to Hyde Park. There are a few different bike rental businesses dotted around the edges of the park – ask a local and they’ll point you in the right direction. There’s also a cafe that you’ll spot if you do a few laps around the outer edges which is well worth a visit for a cold drink and some nibbles.
  • Red Light District – We had to visit out of curiosity. It’s so bizarre. We went on the first night, and we’re glad we did it, but we didn’t go back. I think once you’ve seen it once, there’s really no need to go back, unless, well, you know…
  • Ice Bar – A little bit cheesy, but you know what, it was actually really fun. The staff there were hilarious and let us basically take over at one point. It’s about £12 to go in, but you get two drinks included. Like I said, a little bit cheesy and absolutely no different to any other ice bar in any other country, but still very fun.
  • General wandering – Amsterdam is a great place to discover by foot (as with most places). We didn’t get a single metro/bus. I’ll be honest and say that we spent most of our time drinking in lovely looking bars we stumbled across when wandering up and down the canals.

WHAT/WHERE TO EAT // 

  • TED’s – We LOVED this place. We very nearly broke our rule about not eating in the same place twice because of this little spot. It’s a lovely, healthy breakfast joint and most of us ended up ordering the Triple Omega – smoked salmon, avocado, poached eggs and sourdough. Delicious.
  • Envy – I mentioned this in my what & where I’ve been eating post, but it definitely deserves a second mention. We did the 6-course chef’s tasting menu, which was both fantastic and faultless.
  • Buffet Van Odette – A really lovely bistro type place. I ordered the Onglet (one of my favourite cuts of meat) and it was absolutely perfect. We had lots of sharing dishes to start, all of which was SO GOOD. Very reasonable too.
  • Getto – This is a bar/burger place where each burger is named after a drag queen, so totally up my street. The burgers were good, but not amazing. I’d come back to Getto for drinks, but maybe not food.
  • Ecole – This was a place we stumbled upon when we couldn’t get a table in Bakers & Roasters (sadly we didn’t get a chance to visit, as it was always packed) so we ended up at Ecole. The staff were so friendly in here. The food was lovely (we had the best bittenballen in here) although the waiting time was a little slow.
  • Bitterballen – Deep-fried deliciousness served in most places. An absolute must try!
  • Waffles – When in Holland and all that…
  • Stroopwaffles – Two biscuit type waffles stuck together with delicious caramel.

WHERE TO STAY //

We stayed in the City Park Apartments in the Helmersbuurt area. It’s a little bit of a walk into the main center (you’re talking 20 minutes) but I actually preferred this. The surrounding neighbourhood was more authentic and less touristy than other parts we visited. There was also a great little cafe across from the road from us called Cafe Bosco which we all really rated for drinks and nibbles.

As for the apartment itself, it was a little bit difficult to find at first, but we figured it out eventually. The apartment was big, roomy and we each had a bed (there was 6 of us) which was the main criteria when we were looking (we didn’t want anyone on a sofa/sofa bed). It was a little bit style over substance, but on the whole, it was really clean, the beds were super comfortable and they even left us a little welcome present of stroopwafels!

Next up when it comes to travel is Brussels, we’re visiting there on the second May bank holiday so if you have any tips/recommendations please do shoot them over!

 

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beautytalk

I can’t even begin to tell you how thrilled I am to be writing this post. It’s been in the making for what feels like forever, and finally, I can talk about it!

I’ve always been a huge fan of podcasts. You might have heard me mention them in my Life Lately posts, but I tend to listen to podcasts 4-5 times a week, mainly on my commute to and from work. As I discovered more podcasts, I noticed that there wasn’t really a podcast that focused specifically on beauty. I had a chat with my good blogging pals Lex and Jemma and it’s with huge excitement that I can announce that today we’ve launched what we believe is the UK’s first podcast that’s 100% dedicated to beauty – Beauty Talk.

We’re very much getting to grips with how everything works, so no doubt you’ll notice some bugs (be that on our website, or social media etc) but hopefully, we’ll smooth everything out over the next couple of weeks. Our very first episode is now available to listen to on iTunes, Stitcher and Soundcloud. We would be thrilled to hear what you think so please do get in touch with us either through our Twitter handle @beautytalkpod or our email beautytalkpodcast@gmail.com.

Wish us luck!

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Well here’s a post I never thought I’d write! A year ago I said to Joe “who would ever want to have porridge for breakfast? It’s like eating gruel. I can’t think of anything worse!” Oh, how things have changed. I’ve become a full-blown porridge convert and am absolutely kicking myself for not trying it sooner.

I think the main reason for my change of heart was that when I’d made porridge previously, I’d been doing it all wrong. Well, not wrong, but certainly not right. I now make mine 1 part oats, to 2 parts nut milk and I cook it really low and slow. The nut milk gives it a much nicer texture than water (I’m not a fan of normal dairy milk in anything other than tea/baking, it reminds me of being force fed milk at school) and also gives it a much better taste. My favourite nut milk at the moment is hazelnut milk. It gives it a slight Nutella taste. Also, cooking it low and slow seems to make it sweeter, which I really like.

Then it’s time for toppings! I now have a cupboard just full of wanky health food supplies things to top my porridge with. Here are some of my favourites:

  • Nuts – all types, just don’t go overboard with them, otherwise, the calorie count starts to rack up.
  • Fruit – I tend to use bananas or frozen fruit. Tesco now have frozen bags of raspberries, blueberries, mango, strawberries, all of which are much cheaper than their fresh counterparts.
  • Cacao Nibs – I KNOW. Deliciously Stella would be ashamed, but these little beauties are perfect for adding crunch and a chocolatey taste. They’re quite bitter if you eat them on their own, but when added to things like porridge they’re HEAVEN.
  • Coconut Flakes – I LOVE coconut, and if I wasn’t bothered about the fat content I’d make my porridge with full-fat coconut milk all  the damn time. Just thinking about that has got me salivating. Anyway, coconut flakes are how I satisfy my coconut cravings. If you want to be proper fancy, try toasting them off in a dry pan.
  • Seeds – Yeah I know alright, I’m that person who now eats seeds. They do add texture and crunch, though. My personal favourites are sunflower seeds.
  • Protein Powder – I do this at the weekend for a treat. Add a tablespoon of chocolate protein powder (I use That Protein blissful brown rice and cacao super powder because it has no synthetic chocolate taste – mainly because there’s nothing synthetic in it!) to my porridge whilst it’s cooking. Then I top with strawberries and *might* also add some cheeky Nutella.
  • Honey/Maple Syrup – Becuase you’ve got to have a drizzle of one or the other!
  • Dried fruit – My favourite is goji berries. I’m hating myself as I write this, but it’s true, they’re chewy and tasty!

Any suggestions to top my porridge with? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

HOW TO MAKE PERFECT PORRIDGE

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kobox-boxing-fitness-class-london-chelsea

KOBOX is a relatively new fitness class that’s cropped up on Chelsea’s famous King’s Road. It’s just a stones throw away from my office, so I decided to sign up to their introductory offer with a couple of girls from work to fit in some lunchtime boxing sessions. Here’s how I got on.

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ABOUT // KOBOX’s tagline is ‘fight club meets night club’. It’s a 60-minute high intensity workout based around boxing. There’s loud, pumping music, hence the night club aspect, and it’s safe to say that after a session you’ll be absolutely exhausted, at least I was anyway!
THE WORKOUT // To start there’s a quick 5-minute warm up which involves sprinting and jumping around the studio. Then it’s on to the main workout, which is split into 2 parts – bag work and strength training. When you book onto a class you have to pick either a wall or a bag spot. Dependant on how many people are in the class you’ll be split in half so that half do bag work, whilst others do strength training. You then swap over after each round (there are 4 rounds in total). Bag work involves getting your gloves on and doing a ‘punch by numbers’ workout, which is projected on the wall. You’re walked through the 3 basic punches at the start of each class (jab, hook and upper cut) and the whole time you’re punching the instructors come round to adjust your technique – they’re very attentive and knowledgeable, at no point did I feel lost.
The second part of the workout is strength training. If you’ve not done any strength training before then you’ll probably find it a little challenging – think one-legged burpees, squat jumps and other body weight exercises. Some strength training rounds also use equipment like skipping ropes, medicine balls and weights. I’ve only started strength training in the past few months and I really struggled with some parts of the KOBOX workout, but the good news is you can take a short break if you really need to. Finally, there’s the cool down and stretch. I should probably also mention that when you arrive to your first session they give you a pair of KOBOX branded wraps to wear under your gloves which are yours to keep.
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THE VENUE // It’s bloody snazzy! It’s located at the back of small shopping mall on King’s Road (next door to Gap). The nearest tube is Sloane Square. It’s clearly had a fair amount of investment judging from the simple, but beautifully designed studio. Everything is super clean and the changing rooms are fully kitted with complementary towels and REN toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, body wash). There’s also a smoothie bar and a proper boxing ring for 121 sessions. The studio itself is dark, has the latest equipment and neon lighting. It’s very cool and definitely gets you in the mood to do some serious punching!

 

PRICING // I’m not going to lie, it’s eye-wateringly expensive. We did their introductory offer which was 2 classes for £25. If this was the normal price I’d be going every week. Unfortunately, it’s £20 PER CLASS. Yup, you heard that right. I mean I know it’s Chelsea, but having such a high class price will undoubtedly put people off. You do get all the fancy extras such as your own KOBOX gloves, towels etc. but it’s not enough to justify such a high class price to me personally.

 

VERDICT // Amazing class that was challenging and fun, but on top of my gym membership and yoga classes there’s no way I can justify an extra £100 a month for just 4 sessions. Definitely one for the wealthy!

 

KOBOX, 020 7589 8746, http://www.koboxlondon.com/
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