Tuesday, 30 July 2013

July Empties

Well, this month has been far more successful than June was. Here are my empties:

Herbalife Radiant C Daily Face Scrub* - This face scrub was such a saviour in the heatwave, while I have been loving the hot weather the combination of city grime, sweat and suncream hasn't been the best for my skin. The smelled so refreshing and orange-y, made my skin feel super clean but was gentle enough to use every day.

Clean & Clear Exfoliating Daily Wash - Clean & Clear products do take me back to my teenage days...although despite being almost seven years away from being a teenager, my skin still sometimes likes to act like one, especially in the heat. I use this whenever my skin feels a bit oily and gross, it isn't at all drying like a lot of "teenage" products are and is always on offer in Boots too.

No 7 Hot Cloth Cleanser - Another skincare product.... I'd banished this to my "winter" stash but when I came back from my holiday my skin was so dry and this did a good job at removing my make-up without drying out my sun parched skin even more. I always buy a back-up when I have a No 7 voucher but realised the other day that I now have three of these to get though!

Aussie Mega Shampoo* - I was sad to finish this, it has my name on the bottle after all! This is my favourite Aussie range, the shampoo smells amazing with the original "Aussie" smell and it leaves my hair feeling so clean, again, much appreciated mid-heatwave.

Waitrose Ginger & Clementine Body Wash - I needed some new shower gels and these were 2 for £2 in Waitrose. I love the scent of this one and don't see the point of spending much more on shower gels when they just get washed straight down the plughole.

Yves Rocher Pineapple and Coconut Perfume - I've been using this in the hot weather as my usual Marc Jacobs perfume feels far too heavy. I love anything coconut-scented and the smell of this takes me back to teenage summers in France where I'd stock up on loads of these little €5 bottles.

Chapstick Apple - I have so many lipbalms so quite happy to have finished one of them. I love apple scents - this smelled a bit like Apple Sourz (this empties post is becoming full of teenage nostalgia) and it does the job nicely for around £1.

Benefit Posietint - This was free with Glamour magazine last year (I think). I've been wearing a lot less make-up in the heat but this feels so light on my skin so was perfect while the rest of my make-up melted before I'd even attempted to put it on my face. The pinky shade looked natural on my pale skin and it was easy to blend with a foundation blush for a quick rosy glow and to dab onto my lips as a lipstain.Considering using my stash of Boots points to buy the full-sized version of this.

What have you used up this month?

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Duck & Waffle

Duck & Waffle has been on my "to visit" list for a while. I wanted to go for a special occasion and it just so happened that I found a new job earlier in the month so finally I had a reason to visit (and to celebrate). On a hot Sunday afternoon, my parents and I headed to The Heron for brunch/lunch (it was 1pm but meal times are flexible on Sundays) on the 40th floor. Yes, the food was amazing, as were the views of the city which on a clear day stretched for miles but a definite highlight was the lift speeding up to the 40th floor with the streets getting smaller and smaller below us.

Approaching the Heron Tower from London Wall.
The brunch menu. Vegetarians be warned, the menu is quite meat (especially pork) heavy.
Duck and Waffle
We started with the roasted essex beetroot and house bread. Beetroot, goat's curd and honey comb was such a perfect combination, the goat's curd melted while we waited for it to cool down enough to be eaten.
Duck and Waffle
I broke my "bread ban" for a piece of the house bread - it tasted like like the perfect homemade bread that I only wish I could actually make.
Duck and Waffle
For mains, my parents opted for the signature "duck & waffle" dish. They enjoyed it despite it sounding like a rather odd combination.
Duck and Waffle
Close up. Duck eggs have huge yolks.
Duck and Waffle

 I was feeling less adventurous with my food choices so opted for the Colombian eggs (minus the spring onions but with smoked salmon) which were fluffy and perfectly cooked.
Looking east.
Feeling envious of the people eating outdoors at Sushisamba a couple of floors down. Yeah, it's on the list too.
Looking west.
Duck & Waffle definitely didn't disappoint. The food was great, our waitress super friendly and attentive and the views were pretty amazing. I'm already planning a return visit in the evening as the bar looked good and I think I need to sample some of the cocktails...

What is your tip for food with a view?

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Zippy Dress

Despite it being too hot to do anything other than lie in the park and melt (while attempting to finish my bookclub read on my Kindle) I have found myself shopping a little lately. Just a little. I popped into H&M after work and found a dress that I had admired at full price reduced to £10 in the sale. Meant to be. I couldn't be bothered with the sweltering changing rooms so bought a size up to be sure that I wouldn't have to return it and skipped off back into the sunshine to attempt some more reading:

Last weekend I headed to brunch with my parents at Duck and Waffle (more on that soon) - this dress was perfect as it's a little dressier than my usual summer dresses but still cool and easy to wear for another hot day in the city.  The exposed zip has been around for a while but I still like them and it makes dressing much easier, especially when my flat is doing a good impression of an oven lately. Living alone anything with a back zip or (even worse) back buttons makes dressing a bit too much effort for my liking anyway. The fabric is soft and silky and it definitely looks more expensive than the typical H&M offering, let alone a £10 dress.

What have you been buying in the sales?

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Hello, Heatwave!

So, it's really hot outside. My flat feels like living inside an oven and sweating is now a constant state rather than something reserved for my morning runs. But, I'm not complaining. I am 100% a summer person and have to keep reminding myself in moments of meltdown that this is definitely my favourite time of year.

I've enjoyed observing Londoners take advantage of the hot weather to "experiment" with their styles. While I won't be seen spending my office lunchbreak in a bra and pencil skirt (colleague bonding gone too far?) or walking across Tower Bridge in a bikini (the beach is about 30 miles down river) it is a chance to wear something a little different from my usual uniform of dress and cardigan/blazer/coat.

Top- Topshop; Skirt - Topsho. Need to tidy up my magazine pile.
Watch - ASOS, Bracelets - souvenirs from 90s holidays to Spain, Nails - Barry M Nail Effects in Ridley Road with a Misguided turquoise polish on the half moons

I bought this crop top back in March, when summer clothes had just hit the highstreet and I was already dreaming of hot sunny days in the park while still wearing 100 denier tights and a coat. Buying it cheered me up for five minutes and then it was consigned to my "tops" drawer, which rarely gets opened these days as I pretty much only wear dresses.

The heatwave saw me digging it out, partly due to having worn all of my dresses during the last two weeks. Crop tops remind of me of the mid-90s and desperately wanting to wear one to look like Sporty Spice (but probably not being allowed to). I don't think I have bared my stomach in public since those days so it took a while to feel "me" wearing this, I'm not usually one for bare flesh of any sort.  An unexpected advantage of being short is that a cropped top is never going to actually be that cropped so it wasn't as revealing as I feared. Extra modestly can be preserved by teaming it with a high waisted like this Topshop denim number.

Have you braved a crop top yet?

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Trust Me On The Sunscreen

With the weather in London being so amazing at the moment, suncream (or sunscreen but that sounds weird when said in a British accent) has become an essential part of my daily routine (my hairdryer and most of my make-up have now become optional).

We all know that suncream is important but its a product that can be hard to love or even like. Early childhood memories of being smeared in thick white cream on the beach provided a rocky start to my relationship with suncream but I've been determined to find ones that I enjoy using as I know its important and I'm vain and terrified of getting wrinkles or age spots. Aged leather may be a good look for a Mulberry bag but isn't one I want to be wearing on my face anytime soon. I try to think of that when my friends give me odd looks for whipping out my factor 50 in London.

Here are my current favourites:

1. Neova Z-Silc SPF 30 - I was recommended this during a consultation at Sk:n a couple of years ago as an everyday suncream that wouldn't irritate my sensitive skin or cause break-outs. Before purchasing this I'd only used suncream on my face on holiday as every brand I tried caused breakouts and left my skin feeling greasy. I try to use this everyday before make-up as the sun doesn't only damage our skins when we're on our yearly summer break (although I do cut myself some slack from November - February when I leave for and return from work in the dark). Once it has sunk it I forget I've even applied it and it doesn't feel like a chore to put it on my face every morning. I can't find this on the Sk:n website but Neova is available on Amazon (although it is quite pricey). 

2. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch SPF 100+ - Suncream might not be an exciting purchase but this is one of the products I was desperate to get my hands on in NYC last year after seeing it on US blogs. I picked it up on a spree in Wallgreens on my first day in the city, that's dedication to suncream for you! This is so nice to apply, it's not at all greasy and doesn't leave my skin feeling sticky and grimy in the heat. I've been using this since the heatwave started and haven't burned despite spending over five hours sitting in the sun at a BBQ and running two 5km races outdoors. I'm not usually one for sunbathing as my pale skin doesn't really tan but having been deprived of sunlight for so long I'm actually quite enjoying sitting out in it and topping up my vitamin D levels! I've not seen anything above SPF 50 for sale in the UK so I'll definitely be stocking up on this next time I'm in the US as it really suits my skin and definitely works.

3. Oy! Organic Young SPF 15 face the sun moisturiser - My Neova suncream is annoyingly in a 105ml tube so can't come with me on hand luggage only holidays. I purchased the Organic Young suncream at the Vitality Show as I liked the idea of it being natural and thought it would be less irritating to my skin. My mum and I used this on our recent holiday to Tenerife and we both loved it. It smells lovely, isn't greasy and is great for applying under make up as once its rubbed in it doesn't feel like you're wearing anything on your skin. Available on Green People's website here.

4. Soltan Baby SPF 50 - Drugstore suncreams are not usually my friend but I needed a small bottle for throwing in my handbag and decided to give this a try. I'm quite enjoying baby products in general at the moment (more on this in another post soon) and this is no exception. It doesn't irritate my skin like "adult" Soltan does, rubs in quickly and is great for popping in my handbag for top-ups. 

5. Ultrasun SPF 30 Face - I received this in a goodie bag from a John Lewis event last year but didn't open it until this year. The packaging looks quite functional and not particularly exciting so it remained in my samples box for a while. It promises to prevent skin aging and is fragrance-free so I decided to give it a go and loved it. I find this really moisturising so don't need to apply a separate moisturiser beforehand which saves time and it promises to prevent skin aging. I'll be taking this on my next holiday as its a higher SPF than the Organic Young product. Ultrasun is also available on Amazon

What is your favourite suncream?

Friday, 19 July 2013

Laura Ashley Vintage

In 1993, my five year old self witnessed my mother style a range of 90s trends. My favourite of which were her floral Laura Ashley dresses. Other 1990s fashions should probably stay in our memories only. As time passed, the dresses were banished to the back of the wardrobe but never put in the "charity" pile as they were just too pretty.

As I started to grow my own floral dress collection, I remembered the floral dresses from my childhood - they were retrieved from the back of the wardrobe and given the once over on the sewing machine (not by me I hasten to add). My mother shortened this dress as it used to be a midi-dress, a length that doesn't really work when you're 5'1" tall.

This pretty pink dress was perfect for wearing when the temperature hit 31 degrees last weekend.

Have you re-worked any vintage pieces?

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Battenburg Cake

I've mentioned before about my forays into the world of baking. I'm quite a newbie to it all but do enjoy a good challenge so when BakingMad.com asked me to try a recipe from their site I couldn't wait to get baking (and eating). I enlisted the help of my friend P (and his kitchen) and we started thinking of ideas for a spot of summer baking. I wanted to keep things simple with scones (surely everyone knows how to make scones?) or a cupcake recipe but P thought that we should make use of the marzipan that I was kindly sent and make battenburg cake. We adapted this recipe, substituting the cocoa and vanilla for strawberry flavouing and blue colour creator from my selection of goodies to give it our own spin.

I'm not going to lie; battenburg cake is very hard to make. It took a lot of time, involved a few scary moments when it looked like it was all about to go horribly wrong and required patience and skill in levels that I do not possess. But...it was fun (when I wasn't freaking out about it all going horribly wrong) and it ended up looking and, most importantly, tasting good. I did say that I liked a challenge:

How to make battenburg. You'll need a recipe, ingredients and your entire evening.
1. Dividing the baking tray into two halves in order to cook the two sponges.

2. Mixing the ingredients. This was the easy part. Mix, divide into two bowls, add colour and flavour to one and leave the other half plain.

3. Bake. Watch Arrested Development while waiting. Allow to cool. Go to buy food while cake cools as realise that this isn't going to be ready until after 9pm at least.

4. Assembly. Do not despair at uneven and crumbling cake. Butter icing and some neatening up will sort it all out. Promise. Trim off excess marzipan and eat it because you have earned it for your efforts.

5. Finished. Marvel at your creation. Take lots of pictures.

6. Eat. Wrap uneaten slices up for giving to friends to impress with your baking skills or for saving for later for when the inevitable sugar crash comes.

What's the most difficult thing you have baked?

Small print: I was sent the baking goodie bag c/o BakingMad.com, all opinions and baking "skills" are my own.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Insta-Updates: July

1. Breaking the magazine ban big-time. Summer freebies are always a winner.

2. Lunch at The Delaunay with my parents, salad hiding under cheese.

3. My first time trying corguette fries at Byron. I've never had a burger in Byron (starting to get burger bordom, anyone else feeling this too?) but would go back just for these.

4. Buying quarter-life crisis jewellery in New Look. I'm definitely too old for the ear cuff trend but do I care? Not really. Ok, maybe a little as I haven't actually worn it yet.

5. Pastel nails courtesy of the Glamour beauty giveaway. I never do pastels but liked how this made me look a tiny bit more tanned.

6. Tidied my room at my parents' house and found my 2003 diary. Ten years ago I was going to Linkin Park concerts and already berating myself for eating chocolate muffins.

7. Motel party goodie bag.

8. Eating sweets for dinner at the Motel event.

9 - 10. Dinner at Itadaki Zen, a vegan Japanese restaurant near Kings Cross. Udon noodles, vegan sugar free cupcakes (had to try them and wasn't disappointed) and soya milk tea.

11. Standard Zizzi choice, superfood salad.

12. Brunch at Christopher's. I had blueberry pancakes which came with maple syrup and blueberry sauce.

13 - 15. Swimwear themed fun, a lovely goodie bag and mini cupcakes at the Vevie event with Michelle last week.

16. I manage to complete a Nero loyalty card once a year so always get something ridiculously sweet to celebrate. Banana and caramel soya frappe.

17. Dinner at Tibits.

18. Marie Claire with a free Eyeko eyeliner and a free Elemis Serum with this month's Zest. Oh how we have failed the no magazines ban.

19. Love in the City. When the sun is out I really feel like I live in the best place in the entire world. The rest of the time I am planning my exit to sunnier climes.

21 - 22. Brunch at Delaunay - lots of coffee and eggs Arlington. Possibly the most perfect poached eggs I've ever eaten. 

22. Wimbledon snacks with friends - ice cream, berries, sprinkles and an upside down cone. Compensation for not being able to get into an outdoor screen but at least we avoided sunburn and had a giant jug of Pimms.

23. Matching my nails and dress.

24. Stylight goodie bag. Hello, new gym bag.

What have Instagramming lately? Let me know your Instagram user name in the comments below - I'm LilyLipstick.

Sunday, 14 July 2013


Sometimes, outfit photos are just too much of a faff. Especially when you've already texted a friend "On my way!" when in fact you are still engaged in a heels v. flats debate or when its 30 degrees outside and your main priority is "how long until I have a frappucino in my hand" (and the sauna like conditions of your flat have made not using a hairdryer seem like a very good idea). Real Life sometimes doesn't allow time for the tripod to be found, the camera to be set up and ten different outfit shots to be taken so here are some little Instagram outfit snaps which probably feature items I may have worn before, as occasionally happens in Real Life:

Sunday Brunch. Dress - Camden Lock Market, Jacket - H&M, Necklace - Vintage (via my mother).
Work Summer Party. Dress - Mango, Necklace c/o Stylight.
BBQ. Dress - Lipsy c/o Very, Sandals - M&S.
Midnight Cinema. Dress - Forever 21, Belt - Vintage (via my mother).
Wimbledon Final. Playsuit - New Look, Bracelet- Spain circa 1998.
iPhone cash throughout - Swash. Watch and rings - blogger's own.
How often do you take outfit pictures?

Friday, 12 July 2013

The Mascara Wardrobe

I collect mascaras. I have about 20 which is inexcusable but these are the ones that I have on the go at the moment, the "mascara wardrobe" if you will. Apologies for the lack of lash photos, they will resume once hayfever season is over.

17 Waterproof, 17 Doll'd Up, Covergirl Lash Blast Volume, George Lash Extend, L'Oreal Volume Million Excess
I needed a waterproof mascara for my recent holiday to Tenerife. Boots was out of my tried and tested Maybelline Great Lash Waterproof so I settled for this one. Like most waterproof mascaras, its quite dry and doesn't give a lot of volume but it does the job and is definitely sea, pool and sweat-proof.
My favourite budget mascara. I got this for £2 with a Boots voucher and I'm so glad I picked it up, despite not needing it. The curved brush is amazing for picking up every lash, it makes my lashes look super long and the curl lasts all day. It's almost as good as Benefit's They're Real but is a quarter of the price.
One of my favourite purchases from NYC last summer. This is available in Boots - CoverGirl is MaxFactor in the UK but it is double the price that it is in the US (not cool). Gives nicely volumised lashes and this has lasted ages without drying out.
This was in the goodie bag at the George event I attended earlier in the summer. I've not tried any other George make-up but this mascara is pretty good for a supermarket own brand. It's not particularly volumising but is a great "every day" mascara.
This is my second Volume Million mascara bur the first time I've tried the "Excess" variety. I'm usually really impressed with L'Oreal mascaras and this one doesn't disappoint. The brush is really flexible and coats every lash, it's super black and I've been asked a few times if my lashes are real when wearing this (they are!) which is definitely the sign of a good mascara.
What's in your mascara wardrobe at the moment? What do I need to try next?

Small print: The George mascara came in a goodie bag from a George event. I paid for everything else (apart from the L'Oreal which my mummy bought for me).

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Lunchtime Treats: Salvation Jane

Living and working in London means that lunchtimes are often a choice between Pret, Itsu, Eat and Pod. The same chains seem to spring up every few streets and its easy to get into the habit of getting the same lunch over and over again (I used to be addicted to the Superfood Salad in Pret, I realised I had a problem when I once had it four times in a week).

A few Fridays ago, Aisling and I decided to treat ourselves to a proper sit down lunch at Salvation Jane. I'd popped in for coffee a few times and it had been on my list to try the food. So glad that I finally got around to it, the food was amazing and it was definitely a nice we-made-it-through another week treat.

Aisling had the spicy pork burger which came with a side salad. I had one of the daily tarts (mushroom, parmesan and rocket) which came with two of the daily salads (carrot and feta and roasted vegetable cous cous). Aisling had a homemade lemonade and I got my caffeine fix with an iced soya latte.
Close up.
The choice of food was great - usually I struggle to find one thing on the menu I like the sound of but here I was torn between a few dishes. I also want a repeat visit to try one of the amazing looking cakes. Service was quick and we didn't feel rushed on an hour's lunch break. 

At around £14 each it's a little more pricey than a regular lunch but given that we had table service and the portions were far more substantial and satisfying than a humble sandwich it felt like good value for money for a city lunch and an end of week treat. If you're really looking to treat yourself than the cocktail menu looks pretty tempting. Maybe not a good idea if you are heading back to the office for a few more hours work before the weekend though.

What's your favourite working lunch?

Monday, 8 July 2013

Snack time: Garbanzo

Since I started working in a office, snack-time has become an essential part of my day. Around 4pm on weekdays I find myself suddenly sleepy, unable to concentrate and starting to think that my keyboard may make an appealing pillow.  This is the dreaded "4pm slump". Before working I had no idea that such a thing existed but, believe me, it really does. But, worry not, the 4pm slump can be beaten and it doesn't mean having to reach for chocolate or those Krispy Kremes your colleague brought in for their birthday that you've so far successfully resisted.

I always like to have some healthy snacks in my desk drawer so when I was sent some Garbanzo chickpea snacks to try I couldn't wait to put them to the test at 4pm. Garbanzo snacks are made from dry roasted chickpeas and come in three flavours: Bombay Firecracker, Thai Sweet Chilli and Tomato, Garlic & Herb. A 65g pack has only 88 calories (20 fewer than a two-finger KitKat) and you get a lot of chickpeas for your 88 calories! 

The Thai Sweet Chilli were my favourite - anything sweet chilli flavoured is always good in my opinion and these were just-right on the spiceyness scale. The chickpeas are surprisingly filling and unlike biscuits won't have you craving another, and another until half the pack has gone! As well as being a great desk-side snack, these would be perfect in the evening to replace crisps as a TV snack or to top a salad with for a satisfying crunch (I tried this with the Tomato, Garlic & Herb flavour and it was so good!). Despite being low calorie these are full of goodness, are high in fibre (so they keep you fuller for longer) and are naturally low fat, unlike many "lite" options which just replace the fat with sugar and additives.

Garbanzo snacks are available online here and and are also available at Holland & Barrett stores. At £1.19 per pack they are cheaper than running to Pret for an emergency muffin fix and for my readers Garbanzo are offering a great offer - two free packs for every order made. Simply quote GARB/02 in the notes section of the shopping cart.

Are you a snacker? And have you tried Garbanzo?

Small print: I was sent these by Garbanzo for review. All opinions my own and I ate them all myself, no sharing here.


Friday, 5 July 2013

A Day At The Cricket

For someone who used to have nightmares at the idea of P.E. lessons, I've become increasingly sporty in the last couple of years. More time than I like to admit is taken up watching sport and since signing up for a half marathon I spent a fare amount of my time in sportswear (although these outfits seem not to make it onto my blog somehow). I recently won tickets to see Oxford v Cambridge at Lord's and decided to treat my mummy to a day at the cricket:
Because this is still a fashion blog. Outfit: Joy dress, Vintage jacket, Mulberry bag, YSL Ring.
Our seats were in a private box with a great view of the game. When we arrived the sun was shining and play had just started.
Blue skies and the media centre.
The members' area.
Just before lunchtime, the rain started. Seeking warmth and food we found ourselves in the restaurant. Artichoke salad to start. Play resumed while we ate our food - my sort of sport watching.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that when presented with a two-course menu, I will opt for a main and a dessert (I don't see the point of starters). Chocolate mouse with salted caramel, caramalised nuts and dark chocolate straws.
The weather continued to be its usual British self. We headed to the museum to learn more about the history of cricket and so that I could make some new friends.
The rain was here to stay. The covers went out and the pitch started to flood. Typical. We called it a day on our cricketing experience and headed to Starbucks to warm up.
Based on my first experience of watching cricket, I think I like it. I may not understand all the rules quite yet but I'm sure I'll learn them in time. Visiting Lord's was a great experience and this felt like such a refined way to enjoy sport. I'll see you at Wimbledon next (I'll be on the sofa with a glass of Pimms as I wasn't lucky in the ballot this year).

Are you a cricket fan?

Monday, 1 July 2013

The Office

Can you believe that I've been working for almost two years? I still wake up some days thinking that I have missed the school bus. Now that I am making my way (hopefully) in the working world, its time to revamp my working wardrobe. This Oasis dress was actually chosen for me by my dad, he thought it'd be perfect for smartening up my image and work (it is and I love it!).
Dress: Oasis. Shoes: Dune
I love dresses as they are so easy to just throw on and go. Summer calls for bare legs and simple heels. I tied my hair back to show off the neckline on the dress and kept it simple with the accessories - sometimes a classic watch and simple diamond stud earrings are all you need.

What do you wear to work?
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