15
Apr
2015

The Summer Wedding Dress

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Like most women, an invitation to a wedding sparks one initial thought…what to wear? It all depends on the weather, whether it’s a day or evening wedding, the venue and then there’s the question of makeup. Summer weddings are always my favourite because you generally get good weather and it’s a chance to wear something colourful and fresh. Gone are the days when you had to pay through the nose for a wedding outfit. There are so many options on the highstreet and online and you really don’t have to spend a fortune to get something unique and flattering.

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ASOS Premium Placed Floral Peplum Bandeau Dress (£65)

I have been invited to a wedding by some good friends in Ireland and since it’s at the end of May, I wanted to find something that would befit the occasion. For me, peplum dresses can go one of two ways; they can either be very flattering or they can make you look larger. It all depends on where the peplum is placed, the structure of the dress and the type of material used. Luckily in the case of this gorgeous ASOS Premium dress, everything came together nicely to create a very chic, feminine and flattering cut.  The v-shaped neckline is cut just right so it’s not inappropriately low in the chest area – something which I always have to be careful of being a lady with a larger chest! Whenever I checked the site, my size always seemed to be out of stock. But I was determined that this dress was ‘the one’ so I stalked the page for the next few days and noticed that the stock was being replenished regularly. I waited and waited and pounced as soon as I saw my size in stock.

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I’m so glad I did because I absolutely love everything about this dress, from the high quality fabric to the beautiful shades of blue, purple and turquoise in the print. It nips in at just the right point for me and the back of the dress sits in the perfect position for me to wear a good strapless bra. The print is really unique – it reminds me of a watercolour painting. The bodice is slightly boned to ensure the dress retains it’s structure and also to add a bit of shape and support.

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I’ve already decided I’m going to wear my hair up with this dress because I think the strapless effect would be lost by wearing my hair down. I just need to figure out what style to go for…a messy bun, a chignon or a ponytail? I haven’t quite decided yet and I’m not very adept at styling my own hair when it comes to putting it up so some practice may be required before the time! I think I’ll also keep the accessories to a minimum given the busy print. Anything too cluttered would just take away from the dress.

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I’ve already decided which lip colour I’m going to be wearing because I’m sad like that! I wanted something that would contrast nicely with the colours in the dress and also something that would be moisturising to wear all day long. I picked out the YSL Rouge Volupte in no.31 Fuchsia Tourbillon – a rich hot pink that has a nice sheen to it. It’s a lovely summery shade that pops nicely against the dress. I think I’ll keep the skin glowing and the eyes quite paired down and let the lip colour do the talking.

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14
Apr
2015

Healthy Eats: Paprika Chicken with Garlicky Kale and Crispy Tandoori Chickpeas

Sometimes I struggle to think up new and fresh ideas for sides when cooking chicken or steak. Sticking to a healthy eating regime is all about keeping things interesting and full of flavour. As soon as I saw a post from the Minimalist Baker on instagram of a garlicky kale salad with crispy tandoori chickpeas, I knew it would be delicious. Not only does it look amazing but it tastes fantastic too! Kale isn’t the most interesting food on it’s own but add this healthy dressing and all of a sudden, you want to eat truckloads of the stuff! You don’t even need a lot of the dressing (I thin mine out with a bit of water) because it’s packed full of flavour. You could probably add the same dressing to spinach, rocket or even broccoli salads.

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Serves 2

Paprika Chicken:

2 skinless chicken breasts
garlic salt
black pepper
1 heaped teaspoon smoked paprika

Sweet Potato:

1 large sweet potato
salt & pepper
paprika
dried thyme
dried rosemary

Garlicky Kale & Crispy Tandoor Chickpeas:

Refer to the Minimalist Baker’s recipe here.

Directions: Prepare the chickpeas as per the Minimalist Baker recipe and pop them in the oven at 200oC. Peel the sweet potato and chop into cubes. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a bowl, adding all of the seasoning to the oil and mix thoroughly. Add the sweet potato cubes and make sure they’re all covered in the seasoned oil.  Place the sweet potato cubes on a baking tray and bake for 25-30 mins. Place the raw chicken breasts in a freezer bag and flatten slightly with a rolling pin. This will help reduce the cooking time. Remove them from the bag and add all of the seasoning on both sides. Add a little olive oil to a frying pan and brown the chicken on both sides. Cook the chicken breasts on a low heat, turning a couple of times, for a further 10-15 mins. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the garlicky kale salad and set aside. Remove the chickpeas from the oven and allow to cool before serving.

11
Apr
2015

Clarins Aquatic Treasures Collection

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Every year I look forward to the Clarins summer makeup collection because they always produce the most gorgeous bronzer compacts with beautiful designs and absolutely gorgeous results on the skin.   This year is no exception and although I haven’t tried the bronzer yet, I’d bet a large amount of cash that it’ll be just as impressive and natural-looking as it’s predecessors! I still have last summer’s compact and I use it all the time. This year’s bronzing compact is embossed with a marine inspired motif and has a combination of 4 matte shades ranging from beige to terracotta.

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The Aquatic Treasures collection is said to be inspired by inspired by sea nymphs emerging from an intense turquoise sea with glowing, beautiful skin. The collection consists of the following:

  • Summer Bronzing Compact £30
  • Instant Light Radiance Boosting Complexion Base £26
  • Ombre Iridescente Eyeshadows £19
  • Truly Waterproof Mascara £21
  • Fix’ Make-Up £22
  • Waterproof Eye Liner Pencil £17

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But first I’d like to quickly take a moment to appreciate this gorgeous lightweight After Sun Shimmer Oil (£32). It has a non oily texture and contains flecks of golden shimmer for a ‘skin enhancing veil’. The ingredients include Hazelnut oil which soothes, nourishes and softens the skin and defends against dehydration. Vitamin E protects skin from external aggressors and essential oils of mandarin, grapefruit, ylangylang & tonka beans give the skin the scent of summer. It has a gorgeous iridescent appearance on the skin and will make your legs and arms look slimmer as well as adding a beautiful sheen. This would be the perfect product to go from day to night on holiday! You can even use it on the ends of your hair to prevent dryness.

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I’m already a fan of the existing Instant Light Radiance Boosting Complexion Bases and now there are two new shades – 04 Apricot and 05 Golden Bronze. They both look really pretty but the apricot is definitely the right shade for my squinting for achieving that summer glow. As you can see from the pictures below, the product is pretty pigmented so you really don’t need a lot.  You can either mix it with your moisturiser for a more subtle appearance or apply it straight over your moisturiser for a really glowy look. They help to achieve that radiant, ‘light from within’ appearance to skin. They also contain an anti-pollution complex so you’re getting some skin protection in the mix too. It creates a really nice base for foundation too.

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The collection also features two new iridescent shades of the cream to powder shadows. The two beautiful new shades are 01 Aquatic Rose and 03 Aquatic Grey. The Rose shade is the perfect everyday eye base for a neutral eye look but it could quite easily be worn alone with a flick of black eyeliner. Once you’ve blended them in, they don’t budge or settle into the fine creases in the eyes. The Aquatic Grey shade is a really pretty lilac-based grey that can be worn sheer or built up for a more intense colour.  I love these!

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NB – The mascara, eyeliner and the fixing mist are already part of the Clarins permanent line up. 

The Clarins Summer 2015 Aquatic Treasures collection and the After Sun Shimmer Oil both launch in May 2015.

9
Apr
2015

The Adelphi Kitchen

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90% of the time I like to stick to a healthy, balanced diet but now and again it’s a good idea to indulge yourself with a treat.  This week’s treat was a visit to The Adelphi Kitchen in Aberdeen. It’s somewhere I’d always wanted to go but never managed to get a reservation at the time. I had heard so many good things about so I was excited to see what they were all about. They specialise in charcoal cooked meat and seafood and the emphasis is very much on local produce and local food artisans.

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My first impression on walking in the door was how cosy the restaurant felt – there’s a very homely feel to it with a relaxed atmosphere and some creature comforts added in. I like the fact that the restaurant is quite small because that really adds to the intimate and cosy feel.  The staff who greeted us were extremely friendly, courteous and made us feel very at ease.  In fact the staff were so attentive to us throughout our visit that it really stood out in our minds.  Nothing was too much bother for them and everything was done with a smile and some friendly conversation. The decor is relaxed, with just the right mix of reclaimed-style wood and metal features and I was pleased to see the theme carried throughout the restaurant, even to the toilets where there was a rustic metal pale as a sink. You can see there has been real thought put into the surroundings and how they reflect the restaurants ethos as a whole.

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As soon as we scanned our eyes over the menu, it became obvious that we would struggle to decide what to have. There was a great range of choice and we ended up plumping for the Monkfish Scampi and Dirty Red Mac (which contained hot sausage and was topped with crispy shallots).  Both of which were absolutely delicious. I would especially recommend the Dirty Red Mac which was without a doubt, the best mac & cheese I have ever tasted! The flavours in both starters were well balanced and presented beautifully. We all eat with our eyes so it’s important the aesthetics match up to how it all tastes. As for drink, well I had the house Rose which was lovely and Chris opted for one of their Scottish Craft Beers from Brewdog.

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For our main meal, we had the ‘Rib of the Week’ and the another special, Hung Beef with crispy mac & cheese, chorizo mash and root veg.  Both main meals were cooked to perfection with amazing flavour combinations. The portion sizes are very healthy and we did find ourselves becoming VERY full by the end of the main courses! The beef used is of the highest quality and it really is testament to what Aberdeen has to offer. Although you will find beef on the menu for all restaurants, there’s something very unique about the way The Adelphi Kitchen do it.

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We wavered over whether to order dessert because we were both almost bursting at the seams, however we couldn’t pass up the opportunity of trying the Dark Chocolate Pot with Gingernut Crumble, Bourbon Cream, Drunken Cherries and Honeycomb. We ordered one to share and needless to say, we weren’t disappointed. The dessert was absolutely divine! Rich and indulgent and I’m not normally a fan of alcohol laced desserts but this one is very subtle.

The prices ARE on the more expensive side but the quality of the food and the brilliant service more than matches up to that. It’s fantastic to find a place that showcases the best Aberdeen has to offer, taking into consideration seasonal produce and local produce and brands. It’s a place for foodies who really enjoy top quality food and service with a relaxed and laid back atmosphere.

I think we just found our new favourite place to eat!

8
Apr
2015

Fitness Update & New Workout Gear

I do get asked a lot of questions about what kind of fitness regime I follow, particularly from new mums.  I by no means have the perfect figure or sky high fitness levels but I really do try to keep myself in shape, simply because it makes me feel good inside and out. I’ve had an especially hard couple of weeks with my dad being very unwell and in hospital so exercise has been one way of de-stressing and keeping balanced. I’m pretty happy with my arms and legs now but I’m still working on toning up my torso so that’s going to need some hard work before summer! Now that the evenings are drawing out, it’s now possible for me to go on an extra walk with the dogs so my daily fitness routine goes a little like this (5-6 days a week):

9:30am – 2.5 mile walk with the dogs and Conor strapped to me
4:00pm – 4,000m on the rowing machine
6:30pm – 3 mile walk with the dogs and Conor strapped to me
7:30-8pm – free weights, kettlebell, resistance and strength training

I still walk the dogs on my rest days but I have a rest from any weights or strength training.

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Shorts (£14) | Vest with built in sports bra (£12)

This week I also picked up some more fitness gear from Tesco because they really do have a great choice of colourful sportswear for women. They have a good collection of printed sports leggings that are a fraction of the price of the likes of Nike and Reebok. They also have great lightweight jackets for walking too.

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3/4 sports leggings (£12) | Vest (£8)

I’m always trying to challenge myself so at weekends I go for walks on the beach where there are lots of sand dunes to give the legs that extra workout. Sometimes we’ll go on hikes for about an hour where the terrain goes from one extreme to another.  Even small things like running up a hill instead of walking raises the heart rate and gives your body a bit of a challenge. It’s really about the small day-to-day things. I’m often asked where I find the time to workout but when you have dogs, there’s no excuse not to go out. You have to. As for the other aspects of working out, I just fit them in when Conor is napping or when Chris is able to watch him for me. Once you build these things into your routine, it becomes much easier. Splitting them into bitesize pieces during the day also makes it easier – grabbing half an hour here and there.

I’m currently looking for a new workout routine and was thinking of the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Workout. Have any of you tried it already? What did you think?