Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Garlic Sweet Potato and Spinach Mash || Autumn Recipes

Last night I cooked up this nutritious alternative to traditional mashed potato and it went down a storm on Instagram and Facebook so I thought I would share the extremely simple recipe with you lovely lot.
Sweet potato is one of my favourite foods - it's so versatile. It can be chopped into wedges to make fries (my boyfriend's favourite), baked and served with a variety of fillings, or boiled/steamed and mashed to create the ultimate in comfort foods. Not only are these orange spuds packed full of fibre, Vitamin C and potassium, they also taste amazing - just as nice as their white counterparts if you ask me, and according to experts, regular potato will cause blood sugar to rise around 30% more than sweet potato!

This recipe also contains spinach which, at only 7 calories per cup, is an excellent way to get one of your five a day as well as loading up on various nutrients - there's a reason why Popeye swore by this stuff. 

So, for this recipe you will need: 
- 3 medium sweet potatoes
- 130g of spinach (washed and trimmed)
- 1 clove of garlic
- a tbsp of butter (you can miss this out if you're being extra healthy)
- a tbsp of oil 
- salt and pepper to taste

  • First up, peel your sweet potatoes and chop them into small chunks (the smaller you cut them, the faster they will cook). Then pop them into a pan of salted boiling water and allow them to cook for around 30 mins. 
  • Peel and finely chop the clove of garlic.
  • When your sweet potatoes have around 5 mins left to cook (you'll know they're ready when they're nice and soft), add the tbsp of oil to a frying pan and cook the garlic for no longer than a minute - it will burn if you leave it cooking for too long on its own. After a minute, add in the spinach, making sure to coat it completely in the garlic oil. Your spinach should only take 1-2 minutes to cook.
  • Drain the sweet potatoes and mash them with the tbsp of butter, and add your spinach. 
  • Mash it all together and add salt and pepper to season.
Et voila!

I served the mash with some grilled cajun-spiced chicken and the two complimented each other perfectly! 
This recipe made enough mash for me and my sister, but we did have quite hearty portions so if you wanted to add a side of vegetables or salad and reduce the portions of mash, I'd say you could serve three or four people with this recipe. 

This is definitely the perfect Autumnal side dish, and will also be amazing comfort food on those cold Winter nights.

Would you like to see more of these kinds of posts on my blog?

Holly xo

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Empties #1

Considering the amount of beauty products I purchase and use on a daily basis, I thought I'd have done an empties post by now. The truth is though, like most beauty bloggers, I like to rotate my products rather than use the same ones every day, and old favourites can often be forgotten when that exciting new range is released that we all just have to try..
However, after a couple of months of collecting empty bottles and tubs in a box under my bed, I feel I've got an acceptable amount to dedicate a post too. Here I'll tell you about the products I've completely used up recently and whether I would repurchase them (or already have!).

Soap & Glory Sugar Crush Bodywash
I literally own every product in the Sugar Crush range. Why? Because the stuff smells bloody incredible! This is actually the second 500ml bottle of the bodywash that I've used up as it is the only thing I use in the bath or shower. The Sugar Crush range is made with lime oil which gives it its fresh citrusy scent. I like to use around 6 pumps of the stuff (thumbs up for the handy pump dispenser by the way) to create a nice lather and really enjoy the amazing smell. Now I will admit, this scent isn't for everyone - it is very very sweet which some people find off-putting (such as my mother and sister who prefer the Clean On Me bodywash from S&G). But for those who love a sweet citrus scent and like a fresh product that really wakes you up during your morning shower - this is for you. 
Repurchase? Already have. Two bottles. 

Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser
This award-winning cult cleanser has been my go-to day and night for months now. Liz Earle uses naturally active ingredients in her skincare range and this cleanser, containing rosemary, camomile, cocoa butter and eucalyptus oil gently and effectively removes every scrap of makeup whilst leaving your skin feeling soft, nourished and refreshed. Cleanse and Polish is in the form of a thick cream, which you massage into dry skin before removing with a hot flannel or muslin cloth. The original version smells slightly like vapour rub, in my opinion, but I don't find the smell off-putting at all. I love the pastel turquoise packaging, the pump dispenser (I do love a pump dispenser, can you tell?) and most importantly, the way it makes my skin feel. And I still can't believe that a cult product like this is only £13.25!
Repurchase? Already have, the minute my first one ran out. 

Bioderma Crealine H2O
I won't rave about this micellar water too much as I wrote a full review of it here, but I have gone through countless bottles of this since I first tried it. I've even got my 15 year-old sister hooked on it now, since I gently (ha) urged her away from makeup wipes. It removes my eye makeup swiftly and effectively, even when I'm wearing a dark smokey eye. It doesn't fair too well against waterproof makeup but I don't wear waterproof mascara anyway so I don't find this to be a problem. Love the stuff and I can't see myself ever going without it. It's not particularly easy to come across in the UK, but I've always bought mine from eBay and have never had any issues.
Repurchase? Guess what? Already have. 3 Bottles.

Rimmel Wake Me Up Foundation
I used this up quite a while ago now. This was my go-to highstreet foundation until I found one that totally blew it out of the water - the Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation. This foundation provides medium foundation, with quite a thick consistency. It also contains tiny glitter particles to give a more radiant appearance, though some people find this very noticeable. I've never actually noticed the glitter and did really enjoy the slightly dewy finish of this foundation. Like I said though, the Bourjois Healthy Mix has totally taken over as my favourite highstreet base. It gives me the most glowing, radiant and natural-looking skin and is definitely a contender for holy grail status. Sorry Rimmel Wake Me Up.
Repurchase? I did when this bottle ran out but since discovering an even better highstreet foundation, I doubt I will buy the Rimmel one again for a long time. 

Clarins Daily Energiser Cream
This cream has a gorgeous consistency, not too light, not too heavy, just very creamy - can I describe a cream as creamy? This daily moisturiser has a real luxurious feel to it, from the sturdy glass packaging to the heavenly scent. This cream is specifically made for younger skin, being aimed at women in their 20s and is non-greasy. It feels very light and refreshing on the skin and works really nicely under makeup. This cream retails for £21 which isn't bad at all for a higher end skincare range, though you only get 30ml of product. 
Repurchase? I'm currently using the Origins Ginzing Moisturiser but I would definitely consider repurchasing this in future. 

YSL Top Secrets Eye Makeup Remover
I received this 30ml sample size of makeup remover in a set with the YSL Touche Eclat and YSL Faux Cils mascara. It is a biphase solution, meaning it is made up of oil and water and needs to be shaken before each use in order for the two to mix together. This is an amazing makeup remover. It even beats my Bioderma in terms of speed of eye makeup removal. Literally a 2p coin sized amount of this solution on a cotton pad will remove even the most intense of eye makeup in around 10 seconds. The 100ml size of this makeup remover is £24 which is actually less than I thought it would be from YSL.
Repurchase? Knowing that it only costs £24, I actually would consider repurchasing this for times when I want my makeup removed in seconds or when I'm wearing waterproof mascara and Bioderma just doesn't cut it. 

Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer
This beauty blogger's favourite from Collection (née Collection 2000) needs no introduction. The Lasting Perfection concealer is incredible at hiding blemishes - a dab of this popped onto a spot is like waving a magic wand and popping the thing off your face altogether. It's that good. Some people find this a little heavy and drying for use under the eyes, but I use this every day to conceal my dark circles, and though I have noticed some creasing/dryness a couple of times, on the whole it works brilliantly and brightening up the area. Yeah the packaging isn't great, the print rubs off after a few uses, but for £4.19 and considering the quality of the product inside, I'm not going to complain. I must be onto my fifth or sixth tube of this stuff now. One of my daily essentials.
Repurchase? 100%, I don't ever want to be without a tube of this stuff in my makeup collection.

Have you tried any of these products? 
Which item/s will you always repurchase?

Holly xo

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Initial Makeup Bag

Since I invested in my Muji storage, I've never really been a makeup bag kind of girl. I store all my daily favourites in my Muji drawers on my dressing table and if I'm going out I'll throw a concealer, a lip product and maybe some powder/blush in my handbag and I'm good to go. Last week though I spotted a stunning black and cream initial makeup bag* on both Kate (gh0stparties) and Suzie's (Hello October) youtube channels and it really caught my eye. So when I was contacted by NotOnTheHighstreet (a website which sells items from creative independent businesses and one of the online stockists of the initial makeup bag) and asked if I would like to try some of their products, I knew straight away what I wanted to try out!

First of all, I have to point out that I ordered this bag at around 1.30pm yesterday afternoon and it arrived with my postman this morning. Now that is incredible customer service. The cute wrapping was also a nice touch. I just love the monochrome, simplistic style of this bag. It's very me. It's also the perfect size to fit in all of my essential products, as well as my favourite Real Techniques brushes - which tends to be where other makeup bags have let me down previously as they are too compact, and tend to squish my lovely brushes! The size of this bag couldn't be more perfect as it's also small enough to carry around in your handbag. The laminated cotton material of the bag means it will be easy to keep clean as makeup just wipes right off. There's also a small but handy inner zip pocket where you could store anything extra special or expensive.

I really couldn't be happier with my new makeup bag, and I think my makeup-carrying habits may be about to change now that I have this beautiful little thing, as I'm currently looking for any excuse to fill it up and take it out to show off. 

The Initial Makeup Bag by Alphabet Bags can be purchased for £17 and in any letter A-Z from

Holly xo

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Leopard Print Loving

In the past, I've always shied away from leopard print. I think it can look amazing when done properly but when done wrong.. there is something undeniably tacky about it. Head-to-Toe leopard print is a definite mistake, but one statement piece or an accessory in the print? That can really add something to an outfit. 
I've been dying to get my hands on a decent pair of fashionable trainers for a while now (mostly due to posts like this and this from the likes of JennaBarbara and Charlotte Martin - fellow geordie bloggers). I just love how a pair of trainers are always bang on trend, whilst looking casual and anything but try-hard. 
Now I have been saving up money from countless eBay sales to buy a pair of Adidas Gazelles, and that is still on the agenda, but when I spotted these leopard print lovelies in New Look, I picked them up without a second thought. 
These hidden heel trainers are made of faux suede material for a real luxe feel, and the simple black and leopard print combo makes for a seriously stand-out shoe. As one of my good friends pointed out, these are so not me but I just love them! They are a little out of my comfort zone and I like that. I wore these trainers to work yesterday and I had so many people comment on how much they loved them and wanted to buy them. They look great paired with skinny jeans or disco pants for a boyish/grunge look or with a dress or skirt to add a little androgyny to a more feminine outfit.
These trainers are £19.99 from New Look, though I did get 50% staff discount. I can honestly say I would have bought them for full price though as they stood out to me that much and 20 quid is more than reasonable for a decent pair of trainers! You can buy them online HERE.

A little loud, kind of tacky but definitely my favourite footwear of the month. 

Holly xo

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Illamasqua Sale Buys

Illamasqua is a brand I've always admired on my favourite blogs but had never tried out myself. Their unique collections and beautiful, sleek packaging had always appealed to me but as I had never seen an Illamasqua counter where I live (though I have a sneaky suspicion that Fenwicks Newcastle might have one), I didn't really know what I would buy as I prefer to have a good swatch and test products before I buy them. 
A couple of weeks ago, however, thanks to Gemma's post (Miss Makeup Magpie), I realised that there was a huge sale taking place on the Illamasqua website. After a quick browse of the remaining sale items (I was a little late to the party on this one I think), I had three products in my basket and couldn't wait to try them out.
First up, I bought the Medium Pencil in Fidelity which is a deep chocolate brown shade. Since I decided to swap black kohl for brown eyeliner a few months ago, my black pencil has only seen the light of day twice. For day-to-day eye defining, brown is just a lot more subtle and flattering paired with blonde hair and pale skin, whilst still making the eyes stand out as well as its black counterpart. When swatched, this Illamasqua pencil is creamy and smooth and can be applied in a thin line, or built up to create a more intense line, but I have to say when I applied this to the eye it didn't translate quite so well. The colour applied a lot lighter and not as smoothly as some of the other eyeliners I've used. It took a fair bit of building up to create the effect I was going for and even then it didn't look quite as intense as my usual eye look. I will try it a few more times though, maybe it just needs to be worn in ha. I only paid £5 for this eyeliner and it normally retails for £13.00, so I don't feel too disappointed.
I also bought a Pure Pigment, which is essentially a loose powder eyeshadow, normally packed with shimmer or glitter. Into The Gloss wrote a great post last week on pigments and how to apply them, you can read that here. Now at first, I was drawn to the Beguile pigment, which is a white shimmer with finely milled silver glitter running through it, but then I thought 'no Holly, that is too safe and you have too many shimmery white/champagne/silver highlighting shadows', and instead I picked Alluvium, which is a gorgeous navy shade with gold glitter. My picking this shade is down to Bobbi Brown's Navy & Nude collection, which I just think is such a stunning combination for Autumn and Winter. As I don't have any deep navy shades in my collection, I thought this would be the perfect addition - and it was only £5.00, down from £16.50! I used Alluvium to create a navy smokey eye with black winged liner and a nude lip last night, and I loved the way it turned out. I totally forgot to take a photo though, bad blogger! 
Finally, and the easiest pick from the website for me was the Cream Pigment in Androgen. This is a multi-use cream colour which can be applied to cheeks, eyes and lips. I had seen Androgen reviewed a few times and it was added to my mental wishlist immediately. When it arrived, I absolutely fell in love with it before I even used it. It is the most beautiful peachy pink hue, which is my all-time favourite shade for lips and cheeks. I tried it out last night and it really is love. It creates the most beautiful and natural looking flush, but can be built up to achieve a more intense colour if you prefer. This was reduced from £17.50 to £7.50 which just made the purchase that much sweeter. 
My first experience with Illamasqua was overall a very positive one so I can't wait to try more of their products and increase my collection, particularly their powder and cream blushes and the eyeshadow quads. I think it's brilliant that a high-end brand like Illamasqua do such amazing sales, giving everyone a chance to try their products at a less eye-watering price. They also offer free UK delivery on all orders, which is an excellent way to seal the deal.

L-R: Fidelity, Androgen, Alluvium Dry, Alluvium Wet

What is your favourite Illamasqua product? Did you pick up any bargains in the sale?

Holly xo

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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Go For The Glow

One thing that I always want from my skincare and makeup, no matter what season it is, is a glowing radiant complexion. So here are my picks of some of the best products for brightening the skin and imparting that lusted-after healthy glow. 

A new addition to my skincare routine and one that I have been yearning for since its release is the Origins GinZing Energy-Boosting Moisturiser. This light gel-cream is enriched with panax ginzing, chestnut seeds and coffee beans and promises to add radiance and visibly wake up tired skin. This moisturiser definitely delivers, leaving my skin with a healthy glow, before any makeup has even been applied. This stuff also smells amazing, very fruity and citrusy with notes of orange (which happens to be my favourite scent).

For a radiant, lit-from-within base, the best foundation I have found is the Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation. I only picked this up a little over a week ago and I have completely fallen in love with it. This foundation gives my skin the most beautiful and natural glow without looking shiny. I already own the Healthy Mix Serum from Bourjois which I also really like, but this new lightweight formulation which contains various fruit extracts to deliver radiance, hydration, energy and antioxidant properties is a definite contender for my Holy Grail highstreet foundation.

When skin is looking a little lacklustre, or you've had your face on all day long and need a quick makeup pick-me-up, a quick spritz of the Caudalie Beauty Elixir does the job quickly and effectively. This can be used as a setting spray, a spray-on toner or as a final touch to makeup to give that longed-for dewy look. 

When you've achieved your desired base, your glow can be intensified using highlighting products like the Mac Mineralize Skin Finish in Soft and Gentle. This beautiful baked highlighting powder delivers a stunning golden/champagne-coloured glow. This is the perfect highlighter for Summer as it is packed with shimmer and its golden tones look stunning with a tan to create that glowing bronzed look.

For those who prefer a creamier option, the Topshop Glow highlighter in Polished has a very lightweight, mousse-like texture which imparts a subtle creamy champagne shimmer to areas you want to highlight. Swept across the cheekbones, under the brow bones, in the inner corners of the eye and a dab above the cupids bow, this highlighter blends easily to emphasise areas which would naturally catch the light. I also think this would work well as a cream eyeshadow.

Finally, a post about achieving glowing skin wouldn't be complete without including the cult highlighting pen, the YSL Touche Eclat. Translating to 'Radiant Touch', this award-winning pale pink/champagne coloured highlighter has more uses than most people realise. Use it to outline the lips to create the illusion of a fuller pout, draw a line down the centre of the nose for a slimming effect or apply to the centre of the forehead and the temples for an instant face lift. The Touche Eclat also works well to brighten under the eyes as well as the eyelids and inner corners.

Six products, multiple uses to achieve radiant, healthy-looking skin with a natural glow.

What are your top picks for a glowing complexion?

Holly xo

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

July Favourites

July was hot. The UK was hit with the longest heatwave in seven years which meant jeans and jackets were replaced with shorts and sun dresses, and SPF products became top of the skincare priority list (I hope!). My sun protection pick was the Clarins Sun Wrinkle Control Cream SPF 30, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays (something we should all be checking for in our SPF products as both contribute differently towards skin cancer, sunburn and skin aging so a sun screen that only protects from one type of ultraviolet radiation is not offering you full protection from the sun damage). This cream is quickly absorbed, non-greasy and did a fantastic job of keeping my skin moisturised and protected from even the slightest sunburn! Job done. 
I took a little five day holiday with the family this month and there were three makeup products that I used almost every night and have continued to pick up most days since I got back. Firstly, my Inglot Freedom System Palette which I reviewed in full here - a completely personalised and hand-picked palette of bronzey neutral shades and a stunning champagne highlighting colour. These eyeshadows are by far the most pigmented in my collection, the texture is perfect and the shimmer is intense, making it the perfect collection of shadows to create a bronze smokey eye. 
On the creamier side of the eyeshadow spectrum, I've also been favouring the Maybelline Colour Tattoo in On & On Bronze which I feel like I've spoken about far too much recently but it is seriously such a brilliant highstreet cream shadow. Soft and blendable with amaaazing colour payoff, I can't believe I was ever without this product in my makeup bag.
For lips, an old favourite made a welcome return - the Sleek True Colour Lipstick in Barely There - the most perfect peachy pink shade which has a creamy and moisturising texture whilst being completely opaque on the lips (see full review here). 
This month I also discovered a new favourite nail polish range on the highstreet. The Rimmel Salon Pro range has a shiny gel-like finish and lasts really well on the nails. There is a great selection of colours available - I particularly like the collection that Kate Moss has designed for the range in which all the shades are named after music genre. My favourite this month was 'Jazz Funk', which is a deep rose pink. I liked it so much that I went back and bought another three colours from the range. 
Finally, this month a hair product has made its way into my favourites. The L'Oreal Studio Matte and Messy Shine-Free Fibre Paste is great for adding texture to my hair and giving it that messy, undone look. I think this particular product from the range is actually intended for men, but it works so well in my long hair. I just rub a small amount of product between my hands and rake it through the ends of my hair before blowdrying it roughly and it adds the perfect amount of grit and texture. Take a look at the effects of the Matte and Messy range here.

Have you tried any of these products?
What is your favourite product of the month?

Holly xo