Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The Dabbling Duck



Date ideas are an endless challenge. We’ve lived in the same town for most of our lives apart from three years away in Bournemouth which means we can walk the back streets blindfolded. There are lots of benefits to living in the same town for a long time, but it also means we have pretty much exhausted every option for date night we can think of. We’ve recently started travelling a little further out to find new and interesting things to do with our days off. Surrey is a beautiful county and we have been guilty in the past of living in our little home town bubble. On a lazy Sunday afternoon last weekend we drove to the little village of Shere to a very cute café called The Dabbling Duck.


Sundays actually aren’t so lazy for me. At this point I had already been off at aerial hoop class and returned with copious amounts of bruises. Dom was just waking up as I came back and suggested we go off on an adventure to somewhere a little further into the country. I cant recommend TripAdvisor enough for date day ideas. Trying to look at your local area as if you are are tourist is a great way to discover places you may have over looked before or make you see old hangouts in a new light. 



After a little Sunday drive we parked up and emerged in the countryside. There was so much green and the sun had even come out. We walked for all of thirty seconds and arrived at a pretty, old fashioned building with 'The Dabbling Duck' hanging up outside. It was very busy, unusually so for what you might expect a village café to be but they still had room for two. The interior is decorated with kitsch plaques and signs that kept us busy laughing and pointing the best ones out to each other. They do have a full menu with locally sourced ingredients but Dom and I chose to do the grown up thing and go for coffee and cake instead because everyone knows sugar doesn’t count on dates.



There were lots of lovely flavours but in the end we both went for the Salted Sticky Toffee cake. It was so fresh and delicious with lovely little fudge pieces and saucy swirls on top. At £3.50 a slic it was a little bit pricey, but I'm all for supporting local businesses and it was well worth the money spent. We probably should have shared a slice as neither one of us could finish, the size of the cake was huge! Dom did suggest this but I decided I wanted my own because Miss Piggy is my spirit animal. The lovely ladies that were working were so sweet and wrapped up our unfinished cake slices to have the next day. I can't fault the staff at all, kindly chatting and smiling, they made the atmosphere really light spirited.

We had the best time just talking and eating cake. We don't get a whole lot of time to just be together so simple dates are often the best. What are your favourite date ideas?
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Sunday, 24 April 2016

Matte Liquid Lips that don't cost a Kylie



I would love to fight it out with all the other girls to get my hands on the Lip Kits by Kylie before they sell out each time. However at $29 a kit, they are a little pricey and I'm buying a house so expensive make up is an expense I have to limit. They have had rave reviews and you do get two products in each kit when you include the lip liner but until my makeup allowance increases, I have been testing alternatives that don’t break the bank.


Revlon Ultra HD Matte LipColour

I bought three of these, two in the shades Addiction and Devotion, both of which are pink pigmented shades, one much more of a night time colour than the other. The other one is called Seduction and is in a nude 'your lips but better shade'. They apply like a lip gloss, first liquid then drying a little, creating a matte look. They do smell strongly of a sweet berry scent, which I know some people are not a fan of but is also quite common in liquid lip products.  

The colours come out beautifully and very true to the product in the packaging. I must give them a ten out of ten for staying power, they lasted through a whole roast dinner and that’s really talking! The range is quite simple, but they do have a lot of fun spring colours and hopefully will bring out some more shades soon.

I would recommend using a lip liner as the applicator is not very precise and it can be tricky to apply the product in even layers. It can also be kind of tricky to top up throughout the day as it doesn't go on evenly. However, overall I loved these as a matte liquid lip product and I do intend to go back and pick up a few more shades.


Topshop Velvet Lips

I first purchased the dark red shade of these a couple of years ago after reading a review (can’t remember who, sorry for not crediting!). It instantly became a hit. It is my favourite deep red lip look and looks absolutely gorgeous.

Again, similar to the Revlon products, I don’t have much love for the applicator and the Topshop version dries very quickly so fixing mistakes can be quite tricky. The other big disadvantage to this product is how drying it is on your lips. A few seconds after application you will feel it start to set and harden which feels horrible. It's like having your life force sucked out through your lips by the Mummy. However, I have always been one who was happy to push through it for the perfect red lip and cant seem to stop myself from going back to it. Another major issue with this product is that if you drink or eat anything at all it will become flaky. Topping up over the flaky cakey product is a big no so maybe don’t use this if you’re going out for a meal…

The Topshop Velvet lips do come with a few issues but they look amazing on your lips and the colours are flawless. I would still buy more and will definitely keep wearing these but mostly just for special non eating occasions.

So there are my two liquid lip products that are both cheaper than a Lip Kit by Kylie. Do you have any dupes or just liquid lip products you think are good? Have you tried the Kylie lip kits, what do you think?
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Tuesday, 19 April 2016

101 in 1001


I am a goal orientated person. I like to be an over achiever, I like to be in the pursuit of excellence, so this challenge fit my personality perfectly. I've seen it on a few other blogs, my favourite list being Becky's, and knew I had to make one for myself. 

Start Date: 19th April 2016
End Date: 15th January 2019

Personal

1. Raise £2,000 for MS Society
2. Become an organ donor
3. Plan a holiday for my Dad
4. Get my own cat (or two)
5. Get a tattoo
6. Get married
7. See Taylor Swift perform
8. Write a letter to 30 year old me
9. Send care packages to my friends (0/25)
10. Save £5,000 for the future
11. Be a bridesmaid for one of my favourite people
12. Wear shorts in public
13. Send flowers to my Mum
14. Get an address book
15. Write out our love story from my view as a gift
16. Keep a gratitude list

Home

17. Buy a house
18. Host a family Christmas
19. Get a dressing table
20. DIY some ladder shelves
21. Create my very own office space
22. Build a cookie house at Christmas
23. Print and frame special photos
24. Invest in some art from a student artist
25. Have people over for dinner
26. Buy some coffee table books
27. Build a backyard bar
28. Make an ‘UP’ style mail box

Blog

29. Publish a post every day for a whole month
30. Attend a blogger meet up
31. Host a blogger meet up
32. Collaborate
33. Earn a little bit of money from blogging
34. Get on an editorial schedule
35. Meet some internet friends IRL
36. Write for somewhere other than my own blog
37. Leave nice blog comments on other blogs at least once a week
38. Develop a new blog post series

Hobbies

39. Learn to Snowboard
40. Start a scrapbook of adventures
41. Learn to use a camera on Manual
42. Take some French lessons
43. Perform with my Aerial Hoop
44. Do a tandem Skydive
45. Learn photoshop
46. Learn to knit and make hats for the Big Knit
47. Read 50 books (8/50)
48. Make a patch Denim Jacket to fulfil the dreams of 13 year old me
49. Make my own Halloween costume
50. Watch 250 films I’ve never seen before (11/250)
51. Bake something from Pinterest

Health & Fitness

52. Do the splits
53. Run 50 Park runs (7/50)
54. Try a pole fitness class
55. Complete the Pretty Muddy course for Cancer Research
56. Do a Tough Mudder
57. Master 10 chin ups
58. Make my own healthy snacks
59. Run a ½ marathon with my Dad
60. Run a marathon in a different country
61. Quit coffee!
62. Go to a spin class
63. Master cool headstands at yoga
64. Get my own Aerial Silks and practise practise practise
65. Go sugar free for a month
66. Cycle London to Paris
67. Get an eye test
68. Make smoothies for breakfast for a month
69. Keep up a skincare routine

Travel

70. Go to Innocent unplugged
71. Go to Coachella!
72. Go to Iceland
73. Go hiking in Ireland
74. Ride rollercoasters in Florida with my family now we are all grown up
75. Visit Vietnam
76. Go on a city break
77. Complete 10 activities from the ‘tired of London Tired of life’ Book
78. Spend the weekend in Brighton
79. Visit on mystery location that will be decided upon reaching the airport / train station
80. Make it to somewhere north of Leeds
81. Go to a Christmas market
82. Go away with friends
83. Go snowboarding on real snow
84. Visit a castle
85. Visit my Goddaughter in France

Other

86. Donate to a Kickstarter campaign
87. Do something special for NYE
88. Take on a digital detox
89. Shop with new smaller brands
90. Go to a cat café
91. Meet a giraffe
92. Graffiti something
93. Go to Fashion Week
94. Buy coffee for a stranger
95. Donate some of my clothes
96. Go to Star Wars Day
97. Go back to the Harry Potter Studio Tour
98. Touch something that’s been to space
99. Donate to stranger’s JustGiving campaigns 
100. Encourage someone else to take a risk
101. Make a new 101 list

Look out for lots of updates over the next 1001 days on how I am getting on. If you are doing 101 in 1001 too I'd love to see your lists.
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Friday, 15 April 2016

Spring Favourites


We are half way through Spring, although the weather in England might have you thinking otherwise. Despite the sad weather, I am still feeling all things Spring so I thought I would share my top favourites of the Season so far. I haven’t included any make up products here as I shared my current make up bag staples a couple of weeks ago. I’m hoping the rest of April and May will allow for some picnics and outfits without tights, but there’s a fair chance I’m just dreaming.


If you read my post on 48 hours in Seattle, you will understand that my love obsession with Starbucks runs deep. This jumper was on sale for £10 and I have either had it on or in the wash since it got here. I do love a good slogan jumper and it’s perfect for slouchy jeans days and it’s become my go to for casual Friday at work. I know you might think it strange to include a jumper in my Spring favourites but it’s still coat weather here and the thunderstorms aren’t quitting.



Sadly my last purse died a death involving a broken clasp. The silver lining of this tragedy is that it’s given me permission to get a little spendy and buy a new purse. It is so pretty and floral and perfect for spring. River Island always does great detailing on their accessories and this purse is no exception with golden bar and square details. The lilac colour is my new obsession and I want everything to be that colour including my clothes, shoes and car.


I usually live in heels or my gym trainers. Flat shoes are usually reserved for driving and trips to Tesco. Since injuring my hip late last year I have been reduced into flat shoes on the regular. I really wanted something pretty that I could wear with dresses that would still look professional enough for work. These shoes from New Look have come to the rescue. They make my stumpy / wide feet look semi normal and very spring appropriate. Thank heavens for New Look wide shoe range, they have made my life a million times easier when it comes to sandals and flats. I don’t have a problem finding heels but this new injury has me investing in sensible shoes.



This month I went to my local library. I know, I’m slipping more and more into Nana territory but they let you read books for free! This is a day to day guide of what to do in London for an entire year. I have so many bookmarks in here of what I want to do and places I didn’t even know existed. There’s lots of interesting rooftop things involved. Also the illustrations are really sweet and keep the Brit theme going throughout the whole book. Look out for some London themed adventures on here.


So that’s my Spring Favourites so far, what are yours?
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Sunday, 10 April 2016

10 signs you’re addicted to black and white monochrome outfits


1. Your Asos wish list includes no colour. Black and white only

2. You refer to different shades of black and white as ‘Charcoal’ or ‘Ivory’ to convince yourself and others that you wear more than just monochrome

3. Your Instagram theme is exclusively black and/or white and so is the theme of all of the people you follow

4. A splash of colour would mean cream or grey at the most

5. You alternate between 10 outfits that are basically identical with varying pieces of white and black and monochromatic patterns

6. You’ll happily shop in the work wear section simply for the great selection of white shirts and black trousers

7. Even your handbags and accessories are monochrome

8. You have a couple of pink or blue items shoved down the back of your wardrobe that you thought you might wear but never ever did

9. Your childhood style icon was Cruella Devil minus the animal cruelty and bad attitude

10. Your Christmas jumper is black with a Snowman. No red or green please

11. Your favourite filters are Moon, Willow or Inkwell

12. It’s not just a faze like the emo thing you tried out for a week in school

It’s okay though, you look cute in monochrome!
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Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Books to keep you up at night


I can be a bit of a book worm. I am a fairly quick reader but the problem I have is that when I read, I like to stay in the bookiverse for hours. I can sit down and read a book cover to cover and not bother coming up to the perils of reality. I can stay up all night to find out what happens next. This can be problematic when it comes to the crossover with weekdays and real life and grown up responsibilities. However, I also think it is a wonderful thing to be engulfed so completely by words. I’ve recently got back into reading and started flying through books so I thought I would share what I have been loving from my bookshelf.


I really enjoy books like this that take you through different time zones. You will follow Nora through the present, a few days before the current timeline, and parts of her teenage years. They all piece together to create a gripping story that will have you turning pages all night. The whole book starts simply with an invitation to a hen party and escalates dramatically from there. I don’t want to say too much more than that, it gets fairly creepy and dark at points but makes a brilliant story that keeps you guessing.

Read if: You’re travelling


This was big hit last year and you’ve probably seen it everywhere. I personally love a mystery, you can tell from this list that it’s my favourite genre. This book follows a problematic woman who watches a couple from her commute each day and makes up stories about them. It’s all very innocent until the woman she has been watching goes missing and she becomes tangled up in the investigation. Girl on the Train is a slow burn in terms of storyline and I’m not convinced it lives up to the hype but it’s still definitely worth reading. The characters are hard to feel for, especially Rachel whose perspective you read from. However, the story is what kept me going with this book. It’s unpredictable and follows an interesting set of patterns that don’t let you jump to conclusions like other books in this genre often do.

Read if: You’re looking for a before bed kind of book


This book is intense. I’m giving away zero spoilers but I read this entire book whilst on holiday over two plane flights and nights where everyone else was asleep. Nineteen minutes is a really dark read about the events occurring before and after a school shooting. This a powerful story that has real application to past events, it is almost painful in parts but completely gripping. You read this from multiple perspectives and it’s a great example of perception not always aligning with the truth. This is another book that skips through time lines and gives you an interesting back story that feeds into the events of the book.

Read if: You’re looking for something that will stay in your mind

Let me know if you have any book recommendations, especially dark mysterious ones! 
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Saturday, 2 April 2016

Asos Spring Edit


Spring has finally started making its way to England and I for one am ready to rid my jeans and jumpers in favour of dainty dresses and shorts. I have collated 18 things from Asos in preparation for warmer weather. I know this list is slightly optimistic for the usual April forecast, but a girl can dream and honestly, who can resist cute Asos dresses? Asos is one of my favourite places to shop because they are constantly adding new things and I can impulse buy them from my bed...

All the links are below in case you need an excuse to shop.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18
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Friday, 1 April 2016

48 Hours in Seattle


Seattle is my city of dreams. Starbucks is a big deal in my family and when offered the chance to spend two days anywhere in the world I chose to visit this beautiful, rapidly growing, and endlessly interesting place. I could have easily spent weeks exploring but if, like me, you only have a little time, here are what I consider to be the must see places.

Pike Place fish market

Probably the most obvious place but a must see in my opinion. We did this first thing in the morning on the first day. You’ll spot the sign immediately. There are lots of charming little shops and of course plenty of fish throwing to see here. On dry days it’s nice just to plod around down here and maybe even head further down the waterfront to places like the big wheel.




The First Starbucks

Hands down the best coffee I have ever had. I’m not sure if that is just psychological but I really enjoyed it. I has my usually Skinny Caramel Macchiato and chatted away to the very friendly staff. The store itself is tiny with no seating so don’t expect to spend all day in here. You will most likely have to queue but it’s full of history and store only memorabilia. My mug from here is still my favourite. I actually found out while we were there that this isn’t actually the original store rather a replica that was built across the street from the original that sadly doesn’t exist anymore. I still loved it, and any Starbucks lovers will enjoy the hype.



The Roastery

The Roastery is the Starbucks tell all where you get to see how the coffee is really made. It’s beautifully decorated and filled with machines that show you the work behind every cup. They also have super-secret limited edition Starbucks cards from here that they only give you on request. The coffee is of course brilliant but it’s not your typical Starbucks menu and they are happy to explain they roast / bean types to you. Coffee lovers go forth!


Space Needle

Another tourist attraction but years of watching Grey’s Anatomy moved this way up my list of things to do. It’s probably the most recognised symbol of Seattle after Pike Place Fish Market and it didn’t disappoint. This is not a cheap attraction but the view from the top is incredible. Seattle is very versatile in its skyline, featuring skyscrapers, suburban neighbourhoods and a wealth of trees. Seeing all this from up high was the best. We went in March but I can imagine that the queues get much bigger in peak tourist months.



Helicopter ride

Another not cheap thing! Honestly this was a lifetime highlight not just a high part of this trip. If you have the time and funds to do this, get out there and get it done. We got to see everything we didn’t make it to in our two days but from up high. Our helicopter pilot was very knowledgeable and gave us a great city tour, he even pointed out Bill Gates’ house! Going past the space needle was the best part for me, we were so close it felt like a dream.


Walk the city

This is a beautiful creative place. Walk as much as you can. The streets are full of art and interesting buildings and places. Sure you could take the metro, but taking it all in is how you discover little hidden gems. We were very lucky with the weather and saw beautiful sunshine for the entire time we were there. I’m aware that this isn’t the case for most of the year but if you don’t mind getting wet it will be worth a stroll through Seattle city.

Rooftop bar

Wanting to rest your legs? Find one of the several rooftop bars that will serve you cocktails whilst you look out over the water. Many of these will show off sights like the Waterfront Big Wheel which lights up at night and changes colour every few seconds.




Comicon

Being that I wasn’t the organiser of this trip I had no idea it was Comicon the same weekend we were in Seattle. I wish we could have got the opportunity to go but to be honest strolling through the city surrounded by Storm Troopers, Wonder Woman and a Dalek was also very cool!

I could write for hours about my time here and why I loved it so much but as you only have 48 hours to spend there, I have kept this post short and sweet just like your trip. Always happy to chat Seattle so feel free to tweet me @NatalieGrundie if you want to know more about my favourite place!
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Current Make Up Bag Staples


First let’s take a second to enjoy the beauty that is my new make up bag. Thank you to the brilliant friend who decided to gift this to me, I am so grateful to rid myself of my old slightly grubby sack I used to use. I am a beauty lover. I didn’t get into make up until I was around twenty, before then my only real experience was too much black eyeliner at 15 and too much blue lipstick at 5. I think this is why I like to switch up my routine so much. I missed the awkward mis-matched foundation stage and now I want to try all of the make up all of the time. My bank balance however, does not agree with this make up testing strategy. I do tend to find favourites and make them stick, so I thought I’d share with you a few of the products that have claimed their place in my make up bag… at least for now.

Real Techniques brushes
I’ve had a couple of these before but I’ve recently fallen back in love. The blush brush is my personal fave and not just because it’s pink and looks perfect on my dresser. The shape of the head makes it perfect for applying to my cheeks. The whole collection is beautiful, easy to clean and fit for purpose. These are great long lasting brushes that have yet to disappoint.

Soap and Glory Solar Powder
I know I am late to the game here. I have been a long-time lover of their bath sets but I am new to the cosmetic side of their range. I have super pale girl skin, so bronzer for me = less is more than most. This is a highly pigmented bronzer that shapes my face perfectly. I’m so happy I found this product. I rate it much better than the Bourjois Chocolate bronzer which I used for years before trying anything else.

Kiko Eyeshade Quad 101
Kiko is running the world right now. They are hitting out collection after collection of great, well packaged cosmetics. This is part of the regular staple eye shadows and comes in a pretty matte black compact. The four colours come out lighter than you might expect, the lightest being useful only as a base colour or a highlight. However, the other three colours combine to make a pretty purple / crimson eye that I love wearing this time of year. They have great staying power and I have had so many compliments on this particular look.

Benefit That Gal
I got this in my benefit ‘12 days of parties’ advent calendar. It makes my skin look so pretty and dewy and I’m completely obsessed. This is the perfect product for transitioning to spring now that we are starting to get a few peeks of sun.

Bare Minerals Blush
Like the Benefit That Gal, this is one of those products I love to use to transition from Winter to Spring make up. This blush is highly pigmented and comes out in a bright, fresh pink that brings a lot of colour to the face. Pasty girls beware, you do not need a lot of this to get that flushed look (and I mean HOT flush if you have a heavy hand!). It look me a lot of blending the first time to get rid of all the excess product and bring my cheeks back to a normal blush colour. I’ve mastered this now and would recommend to any bright blush enthusiast or light handed pale face. 

Topshop Lipstick in Drive
Topshop lipsticks are like a collector’s item for me. They can do no wrong. Drive is the kind of shade you wear on the weekend because you wouldn’t get away with wearing it to work. That’s why I love it. I don’t have anything else like this in my collection. It’s a pink/purple hybrid with a shimmer that draws all of the attention to your lips. I know that now it’s spring I should be reaching for my peachy pinks but I’m just not ready to give up on this vibrant favourite of mine.

That’s everything I’m currently keeping long term in my make up bag, but with all the new releases this year I doubt any product is safe!
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