Thursday, 31 January 2013

A Month of #JanuaryJoy

This month I have been taking part in Florence Finds' #JanuaryJoy. Each prompt is designed to encourage you to do all the little things you enjoy but rarely make time for. I've really enjoyed following the #JanuaryJoy prompts and they have made my January full and fun.

Here's my round up:
  • 1 Resolutions were written here. A couple of days into 2013, but better late than never.
  • 2 I not much of a 'boozer' but January's been busy and I'm don't think I've had a dry week/month. Oops.
  • 3 We went for a Thai meal and cocktails for my husband's birthday. A mid week date night!
  • 4 We were in Harrogate and walked around Valley Gardens on the 4th but we managed lots of other walks this month, too.
No#4 A January walk at Crosby Beach
  • 7 I wrote about skincare here. I've since bought St. Ives facial scrub after reading peoples' raves.
  • 8 It feels like new music is downloaded in our house almost every day. I deliberately braved it onto M's i-tunes and pleasantly surprised myself!
  • 9 I didn't manage to do a new exercise but I have gone back to aqua run classes and still planning to get into yoga.
  • 10 More travel planning for the Thailand-Singapore adventure here. 
  • 11 LES MISERABLES! Me and my lovely mum had a girly day and went to the cinema to see Les Mis.
  • 14 No manicure. In fact, my Shellac lifted today and I ended up peeling the rest off. Naughty. My poor nails haven't had a treat this month.
  • 15 I wrote about a recently purchased travel book, "36 Hours: 125 Weekends in Europe", here.  

No#15 And books do, too
  • 16 A little bit of budget planning here.
  • 17 I didn't manage to get a hair cut or be brave enough to re-colour my hair, but I did write a hair related post here!
  • 18 Though not the first time I've thought about it, I took time to write this post about family planning.
  • 21 We made this vegetarian meal
  • 22 I am crafting at least part of my #HeartSwap gift. I also posted about the teacup candle I made as a Christmas gift here.
  • 23 Make memories. We went to Paris in October and earlier this month I'd used Photobox to create a Paris book. It joins the other holiday photobooks on our bookcase. 
  • 24 Its not the prompt itself that was enjoyable for this one, but I felt a lot better once I'd taken time to have a clear out and organise my make up, t-shirt and underwear drawers.
No#24 A very organised make up drawer
  • 25 Today we booked our flights for our Southeast Asia adventure. This definitely ticked the (planning to) go somewhere you have never been before.
  • 28 I didn't get around to baking bread, but I did find some tasty recipes that I'll have to make time for in February.
  • 29 Nothing like relaxing after work with a long bath and home spa.
No#29 All set up for my home spa
  • 30 This was aqua running night so I decided not to undo all my calorie burning! I've made enough other naughty things to eat this month though, including this Bailey's creme brulee.
No#30 Homemade Baileys creme brulee
All that is left of #JanuaryJoy is today's, no#31: Reevaluate.
I think I got through most of the #JanuaryJoy prompts at some stage during January and my month was all the better for it. Highlights include our date night meal, my Les Mis cinema trip with my mum, and the travel planning conversation which resulted in flight bookings last weekend. 

#JanuaryJoy has also motivated me to become a bit more involved in the online blogging community, and I've really enjoyed writing posts and reading what other people have been getting up to. A great idea from Rebecca at Florence Finds, thank you! I'm really glad I got involved. In fact, February may be a little empty without it!   

Have you been taking part in #JanuaryJoy? What were your highlights, and what is in store for you this February?

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

"While we devotin' full time to floating!"

Darlin' it's better down where it's wetter, take it from me! Up on the shore they work all day, out in the sun they slave away while we devotin' full time to floating, under the sea!
~ Sebastian, Disney's The Little Mermaid ~

All dressed up and ready to dive!
In 2011, I had my first open water diving experience and I absolutely LOVED it. We completed the first part of our PADI Open Water while we were in the Maldives as part of our honeymoon trip. It was amazing to be able to learn how to scuba dive together and we were lucky enough to see manta rays, reef sharks and so many beautiful collections of coral and fish. It definitely took a bit of getting used to and M had a bit of a facial hair + scuba mask issue, but in the end we were both putting our full trust in our regulatorsmaking hand gestures like pros, and making friends with Nemo's relatives. This little adventure into the underwater world has left with a bit of a taste for diving! 

You may have read that we recently book flights for a three week trip around parts of Southeast Asia. We plan to make stops in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Most nights now involve a Google search of something and the most frequent search we've made is where to dive? We've read that Koh Tao is the best of the Thai islands for diving, so it looks like this may be the place for us to complete our PADI and get a couple of fun dives done. So exciting! Ah, the daydreaming continues...

Have you completed any diving in Koh Tao? Do you have any dive school recommendations or any tips for accommodation?   

Monday, 28 January 2013

Once Upon A Snowy January Weekend

This weekend was lots of fun! What did I get up to?

  • Our big boss men approved our holiday time and so WE BOOKED OUR FLIGHTS (see here for earlier trip related rambles).
  • My best friend is getting married in less than three weeks. All very exciting! We braved the snow in our heels and went for a meal at Carluccio's followed by lots of dancing. My amazing little bowl of  amaretto chocolate cake (it had a suitably Italian name, but I can't remember it!) gets a feature spot here, as does the bride-to-be in all her hen do finery.
  • Saturday morning and afternoon was all about relaxing with a girly spa day and lunch. 
  • Home with time for a couple of episodes of The Wire and a hot chocolate.
  • A 30th birthday do, with a gorgeous cupcake tower.
  • Breakfast date with friends at the Tavern Co. Their 'American' breakfast, which comes with a syrup pancake on the side, is the best Sunday morning breakfast. I was too busy eating to remember to take a photo so this one is taken from Tavern Co. webpages.
  • A post-breakfast game of Articulate.
  • Curl up on couch for another episode of The Wire (nearly finished! Last two episodes of Season 5 to go).
  • Over to Manchester to see Davad Bazan in a small, intimate venue with a well stocked bar.

Take that, ice and snow. You couldn't stop our fun!

What did you get up to this weekend? Did the snow stop any of your plans?

Daily Bread #JanuaryJoy

#JanuaryJoy no.28: Bake some bread.

Until a couple of years ago I had only had one (failed) attempt at baking bread in a school home ec class. The recipe asked for a couple of tablespoons of water. I poured in the whole jug...

Image Source
How do you make good bread quickly? Well this website, Artisan Bread in Five, suggests making it in advance and then only needing to bake when you need it. Great time saver, but I think this misses the fun parts of knocking back and kneading. Rebecca at Florence Finds has also added a bread recipe which looks quick and simple. I think I'll have to give both a try.

I love flavoured breads, particularly rosemary based recipes. I've tried and tested Lorraine Pascale's Rosemary and Sea Salt Foccacia, with success every time. I have her book, but you can also get the recipe at BBC Food here. Really easy to follow, delicious, and there's nothing quite like the smell of rosemary through the house.
Our rosemary and sea salt foccacia, pre-oven

Bread bake to do list:
  • I'm going to add this Rosemary and Olive Oil Bread from A Hint of Honey to my list of breads to bake. 
  • For an American twist, I'm adding these soft pretzels from Life Made Simple to the list, too. YUM. 
  • Slow cooker bread. A friend recommended a recipe, so I'll have to give this a go at some stage.
What are your tried and tested bread recipes? 

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Crafting: Candles in Teacups #JanuaryJoy

Today's #JanuaryJoy is all about making time to craft. I love a good bit of crafting.
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My school friends used to get together for Craft Club every Thursday. It usually ended up with more wine drinking than cross stitching, but it was a weekly highlight. As our shift patterns and commitments changed, Craft Club sadly disbanded. I now craft alone (sob!) but find that it is a great way to de-stress. 

My current craft project is for my #HeartSwap partner (find out more about #HeartSwap at Skin & Blister's lovely blog here) so its all a bit hush hush, for now. Instead, I'll share one of my Christmas craft projects.

I decided to make my mum a teacup candle (Pinterest link) and discovered that:
  • It makes for an inexpensive gift
  • It is fairly easy to make
  • It will be very well received!
There's lots of candle DIYs around online, but here's how I made my teacup candle:

My mum and dad had a full Eternal Beau crockery service and it was always the 'special' set that came out for special occasions or when we hosted people for dinner. Around a year ago, my mum made the decision to sell the crockery so that she could have a bit of an update, but it was my feeling that it was also a sad thing for her. I was having a charity shop browse in October and came across a cup and saucer in the very same Eternal Beau range. I decided to buy it and find out how to make it into a teacup candle that she could keep to remind her of me, and of my dad. My mum has assured me that the teacup is burning down in the very fashion a candle should. Good news!

I am definitely going to make some more teacup candles in the future, not least because I have the remainder of a 1kg bag of paraffin wax to use up! I think the next adventure in candle making will be to add fragrance.

Anyone else made their own candles? Any tips for adding a fragrance?

Monday, 21 January 2013

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Thai Curry Sauce #JanuaryJoy

Today's #JanuaryJoy: Try a new vegetarian dish

Tonight's meal: Baked Sweet Potatoes with Thai Curry Sauce
Image from Tesco Real Foods
When we go our for dinner, my menu choice is almost always the lamb dish. I love hearty meat dishes and walking into the house to the smell of a beef stew bubbling away in the slow cooker. When we host vegetarian friends, there's usually a moment of 'what on earth do we cook?' panic, before realising that actually, we don't do badly for eating no-meat meals in our house. Pesto pasta is a good 'there's nothing left in the fridge' meal; I make a mean veggie moussaka; and warm squash rocket salad is a quick fix light tea. The problem is, that is pretty much our repertoire. Not very extensive. Lets see if this quick and easy mid-week dinner gets added to our vegetarian meal list! 

Friday, 18 January 2013

My Feelings on Parenthood #JanuaryJoy

When I decided to do start writing a blog last Autumn it was to help me to celebrate all the little things that happen day to day in my life. It was also to be a space where I could reflect, in an honest voice, about the things that are important to me.

#JanuaryJoy no.18 calls for a little bit of family planning. Becoming a parent must be one of the biggest transitions you can make. This post is an honest reflection on my feelings about becoming a mum.
Image Source
I guess family planning can mean making plans for your existing family. The phrase 'family planning' takes me back to school personal education classes, the talk about the importance of birth control, and giggles and blushes with friends. Now that I'm in the later parts of my twenties, it's much more likely that I am being encouraged to start a family than to be told about the merits of contraception! Even more so since I became a Mrs. How things change!

I have often tried to imagine the future 'mum' version of me. Mainly, I see my own mum and the parenting style she used with me and my younger brother. I think that I was a very lucky child, growing up in a family with two amazing parents who loved me and did their very best to make me happy. Childhood photo albums and home videos are amongst my most treasured possessions. After my dad died, just over 11 years ago, my mum had to raise two pretty vulnerable children, who sometimes tested her nerves. My mum is wonderful and I have so much respect for the way she dealt with the stresses of parenting us on her own. My mum is a parenting role model to me, and I hope I can give my children the love and happiness I had growing up. 

I am so excited about what the future might hold for me and about the family I hope to have. I look forward to all the shared moments that I read about on other people's blogs; the photographs that melt your heart. I look forward to getting M to pose for images like this (stubble included):
Image Source via Pinterest
I am so, so excited for the adventure that is parenthood. But, today at least, I don't feel ready. I know. It's been said before, and I don't know what I need to do/have/be in order to feel ready. I just know that I don't feel it, yet. What is it that makes a person feel ready? For those who make the decision to have a child and become pregnant, what prompts the decision in the first place? One of my best friends recently gave birth to her beautiful little daughter (read all about the baby shower here) and although she is wonderfully honest about the difficulties she is having as she adjusts to parenthood, she looks so content. Her and her Mr decided to start a family and, happily, all went well for them.

If I'm honest, I feel quite anxious about the responsibility of becoming a parent. That sense that you shape your child with each thing that you do. I think you have to have quite a sacrificing spirit, too. This sums it up pretty well: 
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There are other reasons: I've not long finished my PhD. I finally have guilt free, no work weekends for the first time. I'm on my first full time salary ever in a career that really isn't very female/family friendly. As I've admitted, I not good at 'doing the budget'. I have a growing wanderlust now that I have a few more pennies. Do these things sound selfish?

Is there a way for us to know if we are ready to become a parent, or is it more of an instinctive feeling? How do you manage the situation if one person is ready, and the other not? I cannot hand on heart say that I am ready to be a parent at the moment. If it happens naturally then I will embrace it and no doubt enjoy every crazy second, but there are two of us that will need to make the decision to start a family. M has been settled in his career for a few years and I think that a family is more appealing to him than it is to me right now, but we both know that right now is not the right time for us. I believe that when we do make the decision to start our own family, we've both got to be ready for the sacrifices that it might bring as well as the amazing fun that I read about in other people's posts.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Have A Good Hair Day #JanuaryJoy

Good hair days are usually feel good days. I'm a restless sleeper and rarely/ never wake up with 'good' hair. I thought I'd share some of the things I rely on to give my hair a helping hand!
    1. I've used the Aussie range of shampoos and conditioners on and off since I first started buying my own toiletries with pocket money. It used to seem like the biggest luxury expense. Of course, now I know its not such a luxury product, but I still love it. It always smells good, and leaves your hair clean and soft. Everything a shampoo should do, I guess.
    2. I have a 1l backwash size Kérastase Reflection Bain Chroma Riche. It smells lovely and is perfect for highlighted hair. I do find it dries out my scalp a little so I alternate with the Aussie products.
    3. Kérastase Nutritive Masquintense conditioning treatment is my miracle product. I leave it on for at least five minutes for super soft hair.
    4. The Remington Pearl Curl Wand has a temperature control, is ceramic coated to protect you hair, and comes with a glove to protect your hand. It's really easy to use and lets you create either big waves or tight curls depending on how much hair you take, how long you hold and what part of the wand you wrap around.
    5. Schwarzkopf OSiS Dust It powder which swells your hair cuticles at the roots, apparently, to create a backcombed volume which brushes out at the end of the night (or the next morning!)
    6. If I'm blow drying my hair straight, I'll put a small amount of Kérastase Oleo Relax serum onto the ends of my hair after towel drying.
    7. Kérastase Créme D'Huile Oleo Curl is lightweight, smells gorgeous and helps to define curls on wet or dry hair. Good for rejuventating curls on the second day.
    8. Good old GhD straighteners for straightening or beach waving my hair.
    9. Kevin Murphy 'Texture' comb. Big teeth. Perfect for getting rid of tangles.
    10. A SCRUNCHIE. If all else fails, a trusty shiny neon, polka dots, or tartan scrunchie will always be there to hold your hair lovingly.
    I'd love to know what other people do to tame their tresses. My hair's also got pretty thin over the past couple of years - any tips to get it thickening up again?

    Wednesday, 16 January 2013

    Thrifty Thinking #JanuaryJoy

    Money. I'm more than happy to spend it but I don't really like talking about it. Today's #JanuaryJoy on Florence Finds blog is about finances/ budgets and so there's a lot of blog talk today, and at the start of 2013, about how people manage their household spends.  
    Image Source
    We are a household of three: Me, M and our awesome cat, Jacques. We have a joint account where all bills and household spends come out (and Jacques' pocket money, naturally), a joint savings account, and then we each have our own personal account. Our salaries go into our own bank accounts and then we each put a significant portion  into the joint account, leaving a little to spend or save ourselves each month. 
    I've got to admit, I don't think I have or will ever be good at sitting down and 'doing the budget'. If there was ever a time to try this it was our wedding and, on reflection, I don't think we did very well at sticking to our wedding budget. It didn't matter, to be honest. We used a 12 months 0% interest credit card and paid it off as soon as we could, just as if we'd had the extra month or so to save for the wedding. That being said, I do want to try to be more mindful of where I am spending my money.

    STOP WASTING^ - NARA - 515503
    Image Source

    When I look at my own account, I've noticed that I am a chronic fritter-er. £2 here, another £1.67 there. I also love a good bargain. The problem: My love for a good deal combined with my fritter-y habits mean that I often end up with unnecessary bags of Home Bargains' finest or voucher deals that I could happily go without. Worse still, I often forget about voucher deals that I have bought and then they expire. Not such a good deal after all!

    Over the coming months I am going to try to make a conscious effort to cut down on the wasting of pennies. We just got an EngerySmart meter. I don't think this will help us cut down our bills dramatically, but I hope it will make us think about how we use power in the house. On top of this, I pledge to: 

    1. Use Shoestring Splendour's finance spreadsheet to get a better general picture of where our money goes.

    2. Be deal savy.

    3. Make greater use of my Quidco account, which gives you cashback for online (and some in store, including Cineworld) shopping.

    4. Take greater advantage of the free local music and gallery events.

    5. Plan meals more often and take my own lunches to work . 

    How do you plan to shake up your own finances? Have you got anything big to save for?  

    Tuesday, 15 January 2013

    Read a New Book: "36 Hours: 125 Weekends in Europe".

    Today's #JanuaryJoy prompt from Florence Finds is to read a new book. I love reading. When I was writing my PhD I found that I felt guilty reading anything other than research articles and sadly only seemed to read when I was on holiday, as a treat.

    Image Source via Tumblr
    Over the last year, I've started reading more and was bought a Kindle as a birthday gift. Like others, I had been a bit resistant to e-readers. I used to love going to the local library, browsing the shelves and finally, going home with a book and wondering who else had read this copy, how they had experienced the book. Although I'd loaned library books less and less over the years (and feeling a tad responsible for local library closures), I still like the romance of a paperback book.

    BUT, since getting my Kindle I've read so many books and, because it's so small, I tend to carry it everywhere I go. I now have lots of love for e-readers! I do try to buy my favourites in hard copy so that I can thumb through them whenever I want. I found a non-film cover, hardback copy of a favourite of mine, Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt, in a little London bookshop. Bought and happily added to the bookcase.

    I'm just into a book on my Kindle. I can't decide how I feel about it yet so, instead of a fiction, I want to write about a new coffee table book that's caught my attention.

    The New York Times 36 Hours: 125 Weekends in Europe.  
    Edited by Barbara Ireland. Taschen.

    This book was a birthday gift from me to M, and I'm pretty excited that it has been added to our bookcase!

    Image Source via Flickr
    Start with a bright front cover, fill with beautiful images of dream destinations, and provide short, practical itineraries to make the most of places across Europe. Surely this is the recipe for a perfect travel book?

    The book seems to be well researched and the content is organised so that you can go straight to the place you're set to visit, or just lose yourself in the photographs and illustrations. The book is colour coded and ordered by region (North Atlantic; South West; Central; South East; and Northern), and then separated by country. In the Northern section, you can get straight to planning your trips to Stockholm, Reykjavik, or areas of Russia, for example. In the South West, explore Paris, Tarragona, or Lisbon. 

    Each article has a short information box, called 'The Basics'. Your day is then broken down into smaller sections and the schedule mixes the hotspots with the little gems and hideaways. Of course, once a 'little hideaway' is announced in a publication from The New York Times, you wonder how long it will stay as such. Regardless, this beautiful book definitely has you dreaming about your next few years of trips.

    Books like this are great to have in the house, ready to open at any page, at any time. I was also lucky to get a copy of Young House Love's beautiful book for Christmas and I'm looking forward to soaking up the inspiration. 

    What are you reading? Any non-fiction books you love and would recommend? 


    What Weekends Were Made For

    For me, this weekend was just what weekends were made for: Long walks together, Scrabble, dancing feet, family and friends. Here's what I got up to.
    M had a day away from work, but only because he had an exam in the afternoon to pass. Well, the boy passed! Hoot-hoot! This meant we had the rest of the afternoon together and we went for a long walk around our local park, stopping at The Moon and Pea on Lark Lane for some food, hot chocolates and a game of Scrabble. The night was finished with more episodes of The [very addictive] Wire. 

    Image via xxbluemoonxx on Tumblr
    Day off spent in Manchester with mum and a cinema trip to see Les Misérables. One word: Amazing. I've not stopped singing! 

    Sun setting over Crosby Beach
    LAZY pjs morning, The Wire, boiled egg and soldiers. A walk at another favourite spot, watching the sun set over Crosby beach. Scouse, red cabbage and wine at the lakeside bistro. Back home, heels on and tissues packed, and out for lots of dancing to send a friend off on her travels in style! FIVE megamix got some airtime, and for about two seconds we pretended we couldn't remember the moves. Three seconds in, there was no stopping us.

    Pennington Flash Country Park
    A trip to pick up a drum pedal turned into an opportunity for another walk at a new spot, Pennington Flash Country Park, an extensive nature reserve about 30 minutes drive. Warmed up with cupasoup and hot Vimtos from the man-in-a-van, we had a good couple of hours exploring. We'll definitely be making another trip there, maybe when the ground's a little drier! Squeezed in another episode of The Wire, before heading to my mums for a Sunday dinner. 

    There's another weekend on its way, but this one's looking pretty empty at the moment. What to do? 

    What's your idea of a perfect weekend? 

    Friday, 11 January 2013

    Escape To The Movies #JanuaryJoy

    Image Source
    Today's #JanuaryJoy prompt is to go to the movies. Well, Les Mis is out today. Mum and I went to see the stage production when it was in Manchester a few years ago. I'm all booked to take my mum to the cinema tonight, and we will laugh and cry and sing. I hope the film adaptation lives up to expectations. I cannot wait!

    Thursday, 10 January 2013

    Dreaming of Thailand. #JanuaryJoy

    Today's #JanuaryJoy is to plan a trip. I love to travel and planning trips, or having them ahead of me in the calendar, helps to keep me motivated. We have been dreaming of taking a trip from Thailand to Singapore for ages and I'm hoping that this is the year we can save enough money to do it. I'm going to use today to do a little more planning (read: daydreaming) about our adventure. 
    When we first graduated university, me and M did the InterRail backpacking thing. We started in Chinon, France, where M's nana lives, and ended our journey in Riga, Latvia, where we stayed with M's uncle and his family. In between, we visited some brilliant places in Western and Eastern Europe, met some fun people and generally had a blast. 
    A more energetic me at Berlin Hauptbahnhof, 2006
    We've not been able to take such a long period of time to travel since, but we have always tried to take holidays where we can explore and get a feel for a different lifestyle or culture. Asia really appeals to me. The colours, the tastes, the culture. We plan to fly into Bangkok, and use overland trains and boats to travel through Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. 

    The Rakyat Express, train number 1 from Butterworth (Penang) to Kuala Lumour & Singapore, at a wayside station
    Train-ing in Thailand
    We also fancy doing some diving while we are in Thailand. We started our PADI qualification on honeymoon and it was an amazing experience. I felt privileged to be able to explore a new underwater environment, and it definitely got the adrenalin pumping! This is about all we've planned. There's lots more to think about, I'm sure.

    First, how long do we 'need'? I think the longest time we'll be able to take from work is three weeks. I hope this gives us enough time to 'taster tour' the area, staying off the post-uni/ gap year trails as much as we can. 

    Second, when do we go? I'm limited to travelling between July and mid-September. This might mean we'd be in some areas during the monsoon.  

    Third, where do we make our stops and where to stay?

    10 Alternative Experiences in Thailand | STA Travel
    Image via Lonley Planet
    I started a Pinterest board a while ago and used it to keep track of travel inspiration. I've not added to the board for months, but I'm going to get my adventurer hat back on today and start searching the web for travel tips. 

    Has anyone been to Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore? Anyone had experience of the overland train journey we're planning to take, or of any diving schools? 

    Any recommendations from anyone who stumbles upon this page would be brilliant! 

    Monday, 7 January 2013

    The Skin You Live In #JanuaryJoy

    Today's #JanuaryJoy was all about skincare. I confess, I'm often dirtying up my pillowcase with the day's mascara and my night cream some times stays in the drawer, unused.

    One of my resolutions for 2013 was to be more body friendly. If nothing else, today's #JanuaryJoy has made me think about what I use and like, and what I use because I'm simply used to buying it. If you love the product, I would imagine you're more likely to use it as you should.

    The Regulars.
    These are the things that get used, face or body, day to day:
    Vitamin C Daily Moisturiser SPF30

    • Body Shop Vitamin C daily moisturiser with SPF. In my opinion, you can't beat it. I've had samples of lots of different face creams, at different price ranges, but I seem to always go back to this one, priced around £12. 
    • Garnier Simply Essentials Sensitive make up remover. It does the job!
    • Johnson's Baby Oil. I get very dry itchy skin after bathing but using this all over, daily, has really helped.
    • Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector. May not smell pretty, but it is the best hand cream. 

    Skin treats.
    Basically when I remember to use them, which I pledge to be more often in 2013:
    Vitamin C Microdermabrasion  
    • Body Shop Vitamin C Microdermabrasion facial scrub. To be honest, I've used the same thing for ages because it gets picked up with my other BS things. I'd happily change this product to something that does a better job.
    • Boots Sanctuary Facial Oil. Lovely feel, sinks in quickly and has a spa-like smell. 
    • Boots No.7 Protect and Perfect eye cream. I do use this most days, day and night. It's light and makes my eyes feel less puffy. There may be something better out there though.
    • Boots No.7 Protect and Perfect night cream. Again, I do use this most days and it has only a light, fresh scent that doesn't overpower you as you try and fall asleep.
    It's funny what you keep using out of habit, but then there are so many things advertised it can be an overwhelming task to find something new that matches it's gimmick. I'd definitely welcome any recommendations, particularly any good facial cleansers and toners, and facial exfoliators.

    Any tips?


    A Merry Little Christmas 2012

    Christmas tree packed away and first 'proper' day back at work; I think it's finally time I acknowledged Christmas is over for another year! I've had a great Christmas, full of family and friends, good food, cocktails, and DIY festive treats. It's always sad when the last bauble is wrapped in its tissue, hidden until the following December, but we've got lots to look forward to in 2013 and I'm armed with a full January to beat any pre-Christmas blues!

    Friday, 4 January 2013

    Birthdays: A Good Excuse for a Midweek Date #JanuaryJoy

    Yesterday, my lovely husband turned 28 and we celebrated with a meal and cocktails at Chaophraya, a Thai restaurant. That's a (midweek) date night boxed off for #JanuaryJoy. 

    Today, we have the day off together and we're going to extend the celebrations with an overnight stay in Harrogate. I spent a few days in Harrogate with my mum during the Summer, and I'm excited to relax in the Turkish Baths with M and a eat birthday cake at Betty's. Yum!

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