Sunday, 3 May 2015

- April 2015 Favourites...

Freaking out that it's already May? Yep, me too.

You might remember that last month I posted my first monthly favourites post (here). With the end of April nearing, I looked back to see if I had loved enough things to create another similar post, and, well, it looks like I have.

Let's start off with some beauty bits I've been loving. I recently posted about my hair care routine and featured the Rene Furterer Lissea Leave-In Smothing Fluid* I was kindly sent from Escentual. I couldn't not include this in my favourites post as it has seriously changed my hair. It's a lot softer, smoother and more manageable, plus the scent of this product is divine! Moving on to makeup now is the Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser. I was pretty late joining the bandwagon for this, but I'm so pleased I finally have. It's lightweight, blends beautifully and conceals dark under-eye circles wonderfully. You can read more about my base products in my 'Ditching Foundation' post here. Lastly for beauty is the Superdrug Cocoa Butter & Vanilla Body Butter which was included in my generous competition win a few weeks ago. I'm always a bit hesitant when it comes to cheaper body butters as I tend to assume they'll be sticky and will take an age to absorb. I was wrong. This stuff is MAGICAL. It absorbs instantly, skin is left feeling super soft and it smells heavenly! The hint of vanilla is just right, rather than that overpowering sickly sweet type.

You may have seen I've recently been upping my fitness game, and I've been absolutely loving H&M sportswear at the moment. These full length leggings fit like a glove and the lightweight fabric is perfect when I'm out for a run. Whilst I'm a huge fan of Nike sportswear, I just can't justify the price when there are great high street alternatives. I've also spotted that New Look have released a new sportswear range too! Next, it's no secret that I've been loving loafers lately. I finally took the plunge and purchased these beauties, and it's safe to say, I'm in love. I opted for a nude pair as I love how chic they look and my wardrobe was lacking a pair of classic nudes.

Beauty and fashion aside, I thought I'd also throw in some random favourites. You've probably seen 'Life after Life' feature in some of my Instagram snaps as I've been trying to decrease time away from a screen and increase time with my nose in a book. It's about time I finished this read and I'm so pleased I made the effort to. It will feature in my next 'Good Reads' post so keep an eye out for more. In that Instagram snap, you will also see I've been enjoying Pukka teas. Pukka Herbs is one of my all-time favourite tea brands not only for their incredible taste, but also the beautiful packaging. I'm a big fan of the 'Clean Green' and 'Peppermint & Liquorice' flavours, but recently I've delved into the 'Lemon, Ginger & Manuka Honey' one and can't get enough!

Speaking of yumminess, you may have seen my recent tweet about mixing peanut butter and half a banana into porridge, rather than plonking it all on top. Seriously, if you're a peanut butter lover like me, try it! New favourite breakfast...

What do you think of my April favourites? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 1 May 2015

- April International Degustabox...

Another month, another Degustabox*! If you haven't seen my previous posts about this subscription box, Degustabox is a monthly service full of food & drink goodies. At just £12.99 (inc. delivery), it's a great way to explore different products you might otherwise bypass. There's usually 9-14 surprise items, most of which are new to the market.

For April's box there's an International theme, which I think is a great idea as small, thoughtful touches like this really add something to a product/service in my opinion. The provided flyer has cute little images, as well as mini flags beside each product and their descriptions to show its origin/inspiration.

As always, Degustabox have kindly provided me with a discount code to share with you: simply type 'BI49Q' when registering to get £3.00 off!

*Spoiler alert* I think this International Box may be my favourite yet, which is a strong claim as I have loved many in the past, but see for yourself what's inside...

Barry's Tea (Ireland), RRP: £1.75
Debeukelaer Cookies Bakery (USA), RRP: £2.00

Tea & cookies?! Feel free to let me know of any better combinations *wink face*. Barry's Tea is a family owned Irish company dating back to 1901, and in this months Degustabox is 40 of their signature Gold Blend teabags. It's strong, flavoursome and downright tasty!

Speaking of tasty, hello cookies. Inspired by traditional bakeries in New York, Debeukelaer have created a delicious range of cookies. Arriving in a box of 4 and individually wrapped, these Creamy Cookies have a melting nougat cream centre. I've tried similar ones before to then find the filling had solidified. Thankfully, this wasn't the case with these as the centre was smooth and gooey and mmmm. Plus, look at that newspaper print packaging?! Adorable. Also available in 'Brownie cookie' and 'Crispy Cookie' flavours.

Veetee Microwaveable Rice (erm, there's an image of Earth so, worldwide? Nom, rice), RRP: £1.49 (each)

There's nothing worse than the rest of your food being cooked and ready to be demolished, yet your rice stills needs a few more minutes (well, there is, but y'know). These Veetee packs of flavoured rice are convenient to have around as they only take two minutes to cook. I received the 'Spicy Mexican Style' and 'Peri Peri' flavours, which I'll probably add to wraps or stir-frys. There's also a Mushroom flavour available which I was pleased not to receive because, mushroom, *vom*, but each to their own...

Schwartz Recipe Mix (India), RRP: £1.08 (each)

Degustabox seem to have an ongoing partnership with Schwartz (yay!) which makes me super duper happy as their products are a great way to add flavour to a meal. These recipe mixes are perfect to use when making a homemade curry and really affordable. I'm looking forward to trying both of these out - there's also Rogan Josh and Biryani mixes available.

Cirio Supercirio & Tomato Fillets (Italy), RRP: £1.20 & £1.69

Chopped tomatoes are pretty much a kitchen cupboard staple, so these Cirio double concentrated tomato puree pots and can of tomato fillets are welcome additions. Francesco Cirio was a pioneer in preserving tomatoes in tin cans in 1856, and these products provide a snippet of Italian flavour to your cooking and taste buds.

Nando's Groove Cut Potato Chips (Portugal), RRP: £0.69 (each)

Nando's have released a range of crisps?! Say whuttt! When it comes to Nando's, I am a wuss and definitely a 'mango & lime' kinda girl. You'd think after travelling I'd be able to cope with a bit of heat, but nope, na-da. If anything, I've reverted back to my wuss levels. I happily munched my way through the Peri-Salted packet, but think I'll be passing the Spicy Chicken & Sizzling Hot ones on to the strong and brave. I think it's really good that Nando's have branched out into the world of crisps, and I also really enjoy that they're 'groove' cut. Crinkle crisps/chips are always better. Fact.

Kinder Chocolate with Cereals & Choco-Bons (Italy), RRP: £1.55 (each)

Yummy, yummy mouth-watering treats! I'm very pleased to see chocolate goodies rather than sweets in this month's box. Kinder is one of my favourite chocolate brands and both of these melt in the mouth. The Chocolate with Cereals have a milky filling with a bit of wafer(?) and the Choco-Bons have a creamy centre that contains hazelnut pieces - NOM!

Scheckters Organic Energy drink (South Africa), RRP: £1.35
IdrinkQ Enhancement drink (Germany), RRP: £1.49 (each)

When I think of energy drinks, I tend to think of red bull/monster/relentless - bleurgh. Not a fan. This Scheckters drink, however, is slightly more appealing as it's 100% natural and contains ingredients I actually know of and like, such as: organic lemon juice, pomegranate juice, elderberry juice, and ginseng. The included organic energy blend is made up of green tea, guarana and green coffee extract and is said to improve alertness and increase physical performance.

As mentioned, I'm always wary of drinks that contain ingredients I've never heard of/don't know much about. Therefore, I'm not sure how I feel about these IdrinkQ drinks which are said to help you think smarter (I'm already smart thanks, lol JKs but srsly). Containing two active ingredients: Vitamin N and L-Arginine, I think I'd rather do a bit more research before trying these. If anyone's given them a go, I'd love to know what you think in the comments below.

Wonjo Hibiscus soft drink (The Gambia), RRP: £2.50
Kingfisher Lager (India), RRP: £2.00

"Oooh hibiscus drink... wait, hibiscus is a flower?", said me when I saw this drink. This non alcoholic drink is made from the hibiscus plant which is rich in vitamin C, calcium and magnesium. Hibiscus is used in traditional folk medicine and is believed to treat urinary tract infections, cardiac diseases and help lower cholesterol. It's said to contain high levels of antioxidants and basically, screams HEALTH. I was pleasantly surprised by the taste of it, it's sort of like sangria but not(?). This is the original flavour, but it's also available with several different added ingredients such as: ginger root, Moroccan mint, spices and apples.

When registering for Degustabox, you can select whether you want to receive a non-alcoholic drink (in this case, the Wonjo just mentioned), or an alcoholic one. For this month's International box, the alcoholic option is a bottle of Kingfisher lager. This is apparently India's No.1 selling beer and is brewed for over 150 years. It tastes light, refreshing and almost citrusy - perfect to come home to after a long day!

I hope you've enjoyed looking through what the April International box contained, and hopefully you can see why it's probably my favourite yet. The theme, in my eyes, is a winner and there's a great mix of drinks, snacks and cooking ingredients, rather than focusing on just the one.

If you've been umming and ahhing whether to give this subscription box a go, I'd definitely say this is the time to take advantage of the £3.00 discount code mentioned in the opening of this post as this really is a great box to start out with. I'm excited to see what Degustabox bring next as this is a hard one to match/top!

What do you think of this month's themed box? Let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

- The Shirt Dress ft. Repertoire Fashion...

shirt dress

For me, the best part about blogging is the relationships you form, not only with fellow bloggers, but also with people behind the name of brands. Since blogging, I feel I have created and maintained numerous relationships, and I can't be thankful enough to be a part of such a friendly community/industry. I'm sure a lot of you know the feeling when an email makes you truly smile.

One such email was that from Sense PR, asking if I was interested in collaborating with Repertoire Fashion. I had heard of them before and, after taking another peek at their website, I jumped at the chance. Repertoire Fashion are a designer outlet that stocks a wide range of labels ranging from the well-known, such as Barbour, to the more hidden gems.


After a good peruse, I decided to go for this Velvet by Graham & Spencer Grey Challis Print Jordy 02 Shirt Dress. Shirt dresses have been catching my eye a lot recently, so I decided to take the plunge and go for it. And boy, am I glad I did. This has quickly become my favourite wardrobe piece. Ever ever.

Rimmel Cheeky Girl nail polish
Shirt Dress: Velvet by Graham & Spencer, Repertoire Fashion, £149.95* Sandals: H&M, £29.99 Nail Polish: Rimmel Sweetie Heart Velvet Matte Pastels in Cheeky Girl, £3.99*

The style of shirt dresses, as well as the versatility of this particular print, really does make them an all occasion piece. As you can see, I wore it on a sunny day spent strolling around parks and picknicking, but it would also be perfect for an evening meal and drinks out.

When trying various shirt dresses on, I've often found them to be a tad too short - something I often experience being around 5'8. So when I tried this one on and saw it rested at a decent place on my thigh, I was more than pleased. The collar, double chested pockets, roll up sleeves and drawstring waist all finish this piece off beautifully.

H&M marble sandals

You've probably seen me bang on about my new beauties from H&M, but the swooning at that marble-patterned heel hasn't stopped yet (and probably never will).

Along with the gorgeous dress, I was also very kindly sent a small selection of further treats (which I posted on Instagram here), including a Rimmel nail polish from their new Sweetie Heart range. These polishes have a matte finish, and the shade Cheeky Girl* is the perfect white with a hint of pink. Whilst the formula isn't the easiest to work with compared to other matte releases, once you've found a way to make it work, the end result is worth it. I knew immediately it would compliment the challis print of the dress perfectly. And remind me of ice cream...

This shirt dress is the perfect classic, floaty piece, and a definite Summer staple for me. Repertoire Fashion really is worth adding to your list of sites to browse in your spare time. Even better, they've provided a discount code for me to share with you all: simply type 'STYLESUNRISE' for 10% off!

What do you think of this outfit? Let me know in the comments below!