Thursday, 29 May 2014

Review: Bourjois Volume 1 Seconde Mascara

This mascara has only popped up on drugstore and supermarket shelves not too long ago and already it's received rave reviews left right and centre. I've even seen it compared to my ultimate holy grail mascara, the Benefit "They're Real!". At a fraction of the price, it seemed to good an opportunity to pass up on the chance to try this possible alternative!

Just as I thought I'd seen everything when it comes to different types of mascara wands, along comes this strange contraption. It's essentially a big rubbery brush, but in addition to that there are lots of tiny little rubber balls interspersed between the bristles. I can't say I've ever had the feeling that my mascara wand is in need of lots of little rubber bubbles, but hey, don't knock it till you've tried it!

On the lashes the brush feels very grippy and does a really great job at lengthening the lashes while still giving definition and separation. You can add a few coats if it's volume you're after, as it layers very well, but I usually go for just one coat.

Top: No mascara; Bottom: Bourjois Volume 1 Seconde Mascara
The finished result is a very defined and natural look, which I'm a great fan of. I can definitely see where the comparison to "They're Real!" comes from, even though I find the brush of the mascara wand to be a lot more difficult to maneouvre and as it doesn't have those little bristles at the top of the wand like Benefit's offering, it's a lot more difficult to get into the little corners.

Having said that, this is probably my favourite drugstore mascara I've ever tried and unlike the Benefit mascara, it comes in a waterproof version as well. It lasts well all day without flaking or smudging, and at £9.99 (currently on an introductory offer of £6.99) it's very purse friendly, too!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Review: ELF Angled Blush Brush

I find that, while they're all incredibly cheap, elf brushes tend to be a bit hit and miss. Their Kabuki brush is one of my favourite make-up brushes I ever bought, but unfortunately, this one is more of a miss for me.

The main problem here being that the bristles are just a touch too hard and stiff. They're by no means scratchy, but they tend to pick up way too much product and I end up tapping and swiping away loads before I'm comfortable enough putting this anywhere near my face. They also make blending incredibly difficult. There's a place for stiff bristles on brushes - on angled brushes or liner brushes, for example, where a clear and defined line is key. But the last thing I want is a clear and defined stripe of blush down the side of my cheek!

On the plus side, the brush has held up well to frequent washing and there's been hardly any splaying at all. Nevertheless, I think I'm going to be replacing this one with a Real Techniques brush very soon.

ELF Angled Blush Brush retails at £3.95 - you certainly can't complain about the price!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Review: TRESemme Platinum Strength Instant Rescue Shot

Even though TRESemme is not normally a brand I gravitate towards, I love the idea behind this little one pop hair mask. There are times when your hair just needs a little extra boost, but you don't necessarily want to invest into a whole big tub of hair treatments and for those times this is just ideal. It's like a face mask in a sachet, just applied to haircare.
The little mini tube has a lid that snaps off, so once it's opened you've got to use the whole thing, but I found the amount to be absolutely perfect for my shoulder length hair. If you've got short hair you would probably be able to get two applications out of it, although it might go a bit dry and crusty at the top if left opened for a long time.

I love a product that does exactly what it says on the tin and that's what this is. I smoothed the silky cream over my hair at the start of my shower, did all my other showery bits, stood under the water aimlessly for a bit (I can't be the only person doing that) and then rinsed it off. The results were smooth and nourished tresses and my hair ends in particular had really benefitted from the extra TLC.
I think this would be a brilliant product to pop into your suitcase when going on holiday and every last millimetre of luggage space is valuable.

The TRESemme Platinum Strength Instant Rescue Shot is an absolute bargain at £1.99 each.

New Look Haul

The warm and sunny weather we've had lately has made me realise that I don't have any nice summer dresses to swish around in, so that problem had to be solved with a quick trip to New Look. I find it so much easier to find clothes I like in summer than in the winter months. Everything is bright and colourful and happy - perfect for somebody like me who doesn't do "muted" or "understated" when it comes to clothes.

I love the loud, bold print on this dress and the cut is also incredibly flattering for my hourglass figure. It ties in at the waist and the foldover V-front gives amazing cleavage. I made it as far as the pub toilet after buying this and had to put it on straight away! The material is nice and feels cool and airy even in hot temperatures.

What do you do if you can't decide between two dresses? You buy them both! I wasn't too sure at first about this because of the longer sleeves, but it looks so much better when worn than it does on the hanger. The material is very stretchy, so it hugs every curve, while the loud print hides any bulges in places we'd rather not have them. When you come out of the changing room and your boyfriend says "This dress makes you look like Lana Del Rey" it would be criminal not to buy it.

I wasn't too sure about this floral headband at first, but now I'm so glad I got it! This is what would be considered a festival essential, but then I like to look every day as if I'm at a festival, haha.

And finally, no summer outfit would be complete without a matching pair of shades. I love the unique yellow colour on these and the amazing palm tree print on the sides of the frame. I feel like I'm instantly being transported to Miami wearing these!

What was the last thing you bought from New Look?

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Sample Summary #13

Full size: £59.00 for the eye mask / £54.00 for the eye cream
Rating: 2.5/5

This was a lovely little set of samples containing one application of a stick-on undereye mask, as well as a sachet of eye cream which lasted me a good week or so. The mask was an absolute pleasure to use and felt very cooling and hydrating while I let it work. Afterwards my eyes seemed a bit perkier and depuffed, but the effect had vanished the following morning. The eye cream was incredibly rich and left a greasy film under my eyes, so I could only use it at night. Otherwise my concealer would literally just slip straight off my skin. While they were both nice products, I don't think that the exorbitant price tag is by any means justified, hence the low rating.

Full size: £30.00
Rating: 3/5

This was really lovely and moisturising without being sticky or greasy at all. While I personally prefer my body lotions to be scented, this might hold a certain appeal to those who don't like their body products to overpower their perfume - or those who simply have a sensitive nose. Just like with the Shiseido sample above, my only problem with this is the price tag. I just wouldn't be able to justify spending £30 on a tube of this when I can get great body lotions or butters for a tenth of the price.

Full size: £48.00
Rating: 5/5

Every time I get a sample of this somewhere my eyes immediately light up. This serum is simply magical. It never looks better than when I apply this before my moisturiser every night. It's smoother, softer and skintone is more even. I swear that one day I'll invest in a full size of this, but till then I will relish every last drop of my sample.

Full size: £9.50
Rating: 4/5

I wouldn't necessarily call this an essential, but it's a nice little product to have on special occasions. It's shiny without being glittery or sparkly and has an amazing fruity scent that lingers on the hair for a fair bit after application. It doesn't weigh hair down or make it greasy as long as you're not overly generous. I'm not sure I'd purchase the full size, as it's not a product that's missing from my beauty routine, but I'll thoroughly enjoy using up the sample I've got.

Full size: £13.75
Rating: 4.5/5

This was such a joy to use! It instantly restored my damaged, bleached hair and made it incredibly soft. I'd even say my hair felt stronger and a bit thicker after using this, I'm absolutely amazed. I'd say it's probably a touch too intense for daily application, but if used every other wash it works a treat. This is one I want to get my hands on for the full size.

Full size: £28 for the Cleanse Balm, £23 for the Purity Balm and £16.50 for the Foot Balm
Rating: 4/5

I didn't expect to be quite as impressed with these little balms as I am, as the samples were quite small. The Cleanse Balm only lasted for four applications, but was coincidentally also my favourite out of the bunch. It dissolved make-up in a flash and left it feeling simultaneously cleansed, soothed and nourished. This is one I'll definitely be looking into purchasing a full size of! The Purity Balm works really great to deeply moisturise the skin. I apply it on my face at night and I'm not going to lie: It turns my face into an oil slick! Come morning, however, everything has been absorbed and my skin is wonderfully plumped and softened, but as it's so rich, one application every 2-3 days is usually enough.
The foot balm is my least favourite, as it takes a little bit of effort to work it in, but it's still a really, really lovely product!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Hello Fresh Food Subscription Box Review

In my April Love Me Beauty box I received a £25 money off voucher for Hello Fresh, a subscription box service that sends you all the ingredients you need to cook 3 or 5 meals a week from scratch. They include absolutely everything, from fresh produce down to little extras, herbs and spices, as well as detailed recipe cards with step by step instructions on how to cook your meals. While I always thought it was a brilliant idea, particularly if you're constantly faced with the trouble of figuring out what to cook, it was always the price that put me off. At £39 a week for three meals for two people, it works out at £6.50 a meal - when I do my regular shops our meals tend to work out at half of that, if not less! Without the voucher, I don't think I would have ever taken the plunge to try this service.

My first initial experience was not a positive one. Sign-up was quick and simple and I liked that you could swap over recipes that you knew you wouldn't like, so I could cater for my boyfriend's tastes, as he is an incredibly fussy eater. I was advised my box would come on Tuesday between 9 and 5 o'clock,  which was great as I was off work for the whole day, so could get my delivery and not have to do a food shop that day. Five o'clock came and no box.... Six o'clock, still no box. Eventually I gave up waiting and phoned customer service, who then told me that my box would be with me on Wednesday, as it was a bank holiday weekend - which wouldn't have been a problem, if someone had bothered to tell me. I was told by the man on the phone that they usually send out a text, but must have the wrong contact details. He didn't, however, bother with taking my contact details to check.

I got off the phone and I was fuming. Nobody messes with my food! I had to, err, make other arrangements for dinner that night (read: order a takeaway), and my box did eventually arrive early Wednesday morning.

Vegetables, baked goods, herbs and spices were packed loosely in the box while all the meat and dairy was wrapped with ice packs in a plastic bag lined with woolcool liners. I already know these from my weekly Abel and Cole deliveries and they work really great at keeping all your produce cool, so I know that even if I wasn't in all my stuff would have been fine till the evening.

These are the recipes I got in my box along with pictures of how it ended up looking when I made the meal.

Swingball Meatballs with Smoked Tomato Linguine

I made this recipe a day after receiving my box and unfortunately by that time the carrots had already managed to go mouldy! Thank goodness that I still had some carrots in my fridge that I could use, but I wasn't overly happy with my delivered vegetables not even being able to make it past the first day.
The actual dish was fairly easy to prepare, although it did require a lot more chopping than I would have liked. I tend to grate my carrot and I don't usually put celery in any of my tomato sauces, as I hate the taste of it. For the sake of following this recipe to a T, I left the celery in there and I admit that once it had cooked into the sauce it wasn't quite so bad. Unfortunately, I found the finished sauce to be quite bland, so I had to add what felt like a ton of salt and a gallon of hot sauce to improve the dish.
To be fair though, that's not something I blame Hello Fresh for, as I always have to add tons of seasoning to any shop bought ready meals and it's not really that much of a problem to add some spice to your food. The actual pasta was absolutely amazing - some of the best I've ever tried and the meatballs were very lovely as well.

Umami Burger with Rustic Chips and Rocket Salad

My boyfriend hates anything that's remotely healthy, so I had to leave out all the salad for him, but still he didn't enjoy his meal. Like I said, he's a fussy eater! I actually thought this was absolutely lovely! Adding garlic salt onto potato wedges is something I am forever going to do from now on. This is the first time I've ever used Umami paste and while it tastes absolutely revolting on its own, it did add a very special flavour to the burger. I've since also added it to mushroom sauce and it tasted absolutely divine! I think this was my favourite meal out of the three.

A Really Special Chicken Fried Rice with Pistachio and Sesame

This is the recipe I made last and by the time I'd gotten round to it (about five days after my box got delivered), the spring onions looked like they were on the brink of death and I had to throw half of them away. To further add to my annoyance, the recipe included way more chopping than I would have liked and I also found the cooking process very unnecessarily long-winded (for example: I would not usually wait for half an hour to cook chicken thighs in the oven before adding them to a stir-fry, but rather chop them up and fry them in a pan for five minutes).
I did really enjoy this dish in the end, although I had to add a lot of salt again to make it a bit less bland. As you can see on the picture above the portions on this one in particular were huge! I really struggled to finish my meal and that's even though I hadn't eaten since breakfast.

You certainly can't fault Hello Fresh on portion sizes. They are very generous and filling and although I had to add extra seasoning to pretty much all of my meals, I found them to be rather tasty in general. My boyfriend didn't enjoy any of them, but as I said, he's an extremely fussy eater who won't touch anything that's not meat, bread or cheese. Overall, the quality of the ingredients was top-notch, apart from the vegetables. For a box that's meant to last all week to include vegetables that go mouldy after a day is really not acceptable.

I think my biggest peeve with the box is the price. £13 a day for two people is just extortionate considering you've still got to do all the cooking yourself. Even if I was shopping in Waitrose or Marks & Spencer's every day I'm pretty sure I could feed us both for less than that. Hello Fresh did include a card with my box detailing how a comparable shop would be more expensive in pretty much every supermarket, but I just find that very hard to believe. Add to that my experience of rather poor customer service and you can see why I cancelled pretty much as soon as I got my box and won't be looking to resubscribe anytime soon. While I still think it's a great idea, the value for money just isn't there with this box.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Book review: The Genius of Dogs by Brian Hare & Vanessa Woods

Title: The Genius of Dogs

Author: Brian Hare & Vanessa Woods

Price: £8.99

Type: Non-fiction, Pop-Science

Pages: 282

It was while browsing a WH Smith before getting on a long train journey that I picked up my very first pop-science book. I'm usually much more drawn to fiction than to non-fiction, but the title just drew me in somehow. Every dog owner in the world will be able to tell you that dogs are lot more clever than what we give them credit for and I was hoping to gain a better insight into what goes on in my little puppy's mind from reading this book.

From the very first page I was hooked. The book is divided into three parts: The first one explores how dogs evolved from wolves, became domesticated and developed the kind of intelligence they are showing today. The second part shows the findings of some experiments that detail exactly in which ways dogs can be considered to be a genius and in which disciplines they can, let's say, be a little silly. Finally, the third part, labelled "Your Dog" delves into different breeds and how to train your genius dog.

I found the first part to be incredibly fascinating. I always wondered what had happened thousands of years ago, for a wild and pretty aggressive animal like the wolf to slowly but surely become man's best friend. Turns out that it's highly likely that it wasn't us domesticating dogs, but more that dogs domesticated themselves, seeing a chance of obtaining easy food and shelter in return for guarding their shared territory and helping humans in hunts. The book is full of facts and figures, but it is written in such a light and entertaining fashion, that it reads like a breeze without being at all overwhelming.

The second part dragged for me a little bit, as it detailed a ton of experiments which to be honest didn't show anything I didn't already know having owned three dogs already. We know that dogs react to pointing gestures and verbal commands, but I guess if you ever needed scientific proof of that, then that's where you get it.

The final part of the book was where I got quite frustrated. From the titles of the chapters I expected some practical insight into how I can best train my dog by tapping into the particular way her mind works. Turns out, it was nothing like that. The authors basically concluded that all races are equally intelligent and that dogs are really great. They did make a reference to their website, which offers exactly what I'd been hoping from the last chapter of this book... for a small fee of $38 a month. Needless to say, I felt cheated and a little scammed. A terrible end to what had started out as a great book.

Because I enjoyed the first part so much, but was a bit annoyed by the other two parts, it's quite difficult to give this book an overall rating. To be fair, my disappointment stems mainly from going into the book expecting some practical advice. As I mentioned above, this is the first pop-science book I've ever bought or read, so if all books in the genre are like this, then it's my expectations that were wrong. I'd probably say that if you're interested in dogs, then this is a book worth borrowing or renting from the library... but not to spend money on.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Love Me Beauty Box May 14

Just like last month, Love Me Beauty's menu choices for May didn't get me particularly excited, either. But seeing as I did end up positively surprised last time around, I opted against skipping the month and chose the third Edition, as I found that one the most appealing. I'll be honest from the start and say that there was no element of positive surprise when I opened this box and for the first time since the very start of my subscription (almost a year ago!) I feel disappointed with the contents of my box.

Full size: £13.50

This is probably my favourite product in this month's box. After getting rid of all the polishes in my collection that had become crusty and/or separated, I was left with a gaping hole in the "soft pinks" compartment, which this nail polish will fill nicely. I've never heard of the brand Nail Girls before, but I'm more than happy to give them a go. The brush is nice and wide and upon first inspection the polish seems to be nice and thick and non streaky. This product was featured in all three Editions.

Full size: £2.98

I didn't really fancy the mint or the ginger lip balm that was available in the other Editions (they're both tastes and smells that I don't really like), so I went for the deeply moisturising option instead. I always manage to lose my lip balms, so I'm happy to have another one to keep me going for a bit, especially seeing as Raw Skincare is yet another brand that's completely new to me. It has that typical natural lip balm texture, which is a little waxy and grainy, though it's fine once you've had a little bit of time to get used to it. I like that it's non-greasy, but I'm not sure it would really manage to rescue my lips if they were as dry as they get in winter, as it doesn't really feel all that moisturising.

Full size: £5.00

This product has actually genuinely annoyed me this month. While it's a nice design and I'm sure I'll find a way of using all three of the little notebooks, they just do not belong in a beauty box. I've always said that I like it when subscription services think outside the box a little bit, like when they included vitamin supplements for skin and hair, but this is just a step too far. If I wanted a notebook I'd go to WH Smith or Paperchase and I'd get myself a notebook. It's got nothing to do with beauty and is just a completely random space filler in this month's box.

Half a trial pack / Value: £3.25

On to the next disappointment. I was really looking forward to trying this pack of three balms, but my excitement diminished when I saw the size of the samples. They're just so tiny! I reckon I'll get about 2-3 applications out of each, which isn't really enough to judge a product's efficacy. Suti actually sell this trial pack on their website, but on there it comes with two face oils and a moisturiser as well, so I feel a little cheated out of half of the products, especially as it's advertised as being the full trial pack on the card that came with my box. To be honest with you, I probably would have preferred to just have one larger sample than those three tiny little ones.

3 Tea Envelopes / Value: £1.95

This is another product I'm really annoyed with this month. It's not the first time I've seen tea in beauty boxes and while I can see the connection if you're going for a "health and beauty from within" angle, it's okay if it pops up as an extra - but not if it's considered to be one of my beauty samples! Granted, I've wanted to try some Teapigs tea for a while, so I'm happy to finally have some to try, but I would have much preferred to have another cosmetic product in my box instead.

Total value: £26.68

This month's box gets a big fat, thumbs down from me. I can deal with the minuscule balm samples, but having not one but two products in my box that are completely unrelated to beauty has really annoyed me. Thankfully I'm really looking forward to using the nail polish once my nails have healed up a little bit, so that alone has made this box worth it for me. I guess we've been really spoilt with Love Me Beauty boxes over the last year. Every month there would be three to four full sized products and almost all of them were absolute hits, so it was only a matter of time before they started to not live up to their high standards. Box value has also been steadily decreasing over time and while I'm not one to only demand super high-end samples (not that I could afford to buy the products anyway), I do feel like I'm getting less bang for my buck lately. I really hope that Love Me Beauty will be back on form again next month.

Friday, 9 May 2014

NOTD: Rimmel Green Grass

It's been a while since I last did a nail post, mainly due to the fact that my nails have been incredibly weak and brittle lately and I didn't feel like drawing attention to all my snapped off finger nails by painting them any bright colours. Maybe it's time to get myself a bottle of Nail Envy to build them back up a little?

Either way, spring has officially sprung and that means there's no more reasons to hold back the pastels and the brights.

Rimmel polishes are highly underrated in my honest opinion. Their brushes are nice and wide which makes painting your nails a breeze and the formula requires no more than one coat on the darker shades and two coats on the lighter ones.

What I like in particular about this bright green shade is that it's quite a unique shade you won't find very often. Greens tend to be either very dark, or light and milky, but this is a really bright, in-your-face variation that just screams happiness and spring.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Face of the Day #05

I used to hardly ever wear lipstick, especially any loud, bright shades. They're just such high maintenance and not only do I end up with lipstick marks everywhere, the constant reapplication needed to keep bright lipstick looking good is just too much of a faff. However, my recent purchase of the bright orange L'Oreal L'Extraordinaire has changed everything (at least for now). I've never had so many compliments on my make-up as when I wear this lipstick. So I thought, sod it, if I have to deal with orange marks on my straws and more frequent trips to the bathroom to reapply, that's just a sacrifice I'm going to have to make. To balance out the bright lips I've kept it a bit more plain on the eyes with another new purchase, the much hyped up Rimmel Scandaleyes Shadow Paint in Rich Russet.


As you can see by the severely squished tube of Laura Mercier oil-free Tinted Moisturizer, there really wasn't much left when I did this look and by the time I'm typing up this post, it's sadly served its purpose and there's not another drop that I can squeeze out. For concealer I stuck with my trusted Seventeen phwoarr Paint - I don't think I'll ever buy any other concealer again (yes, that's a big, big statement right there). For cheeks I stippled on some Bourjois Cream Blush in 03 Rose Tendre - for a drugstore formula, this blush is pretty much unbeatable, even though the packaging does get a bit manky with time and almost all the writing wore off on mine already. For setting, I stuck with another old faithful, the Rimmel Stay Matte powder, dusted just along the T-Zone.


As my lips were pretty bright with this look, I kept the eye make-up a bit more simple with a slick of the Rimmel Scandaleyes Shadow Paint in Rich Russet. I just applied it straight to the lids with the wand, then waited for it to dry for a few seconds and eventually just smudged out the edges with my finger. You can use a brush for that if you want, but I find that fingers work just as well, if not better, as they don't absorb any product. While the Shadow Paint sets, I topped up my brows a little with my recent re-discovery, the Benefit Brow Zings in Medium. To top it all off, I applied one coat of the Bourjois Elastic Mascara on top and bottom lashes. I really love this mascara, but sadly it's starting to run a little low now, so it's going to be time to move on to a different one, soon.


On to the star of the show, the L'Oreal L'Extraordinaire by Color Riche in Tangerine Sonate. The main reason I don't mind faffing about with topping up my lip colour all the time is because this gloss/balm/lipstick hybrid does it all in one go for you. One slick and you've got colour and shine right on your lips - no need for two or three different products. At the same time it somehow manages not to be sticky at all, so no awkward hair in mouth situations there.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Review: Denman Grooming Brush

As much as I'm dreaming of investing in a Mason Pearson brush one day, it seems like there is always something I would much rather spend my money on than an expensive hair brush. So at the moment, I'm on the lookout for a decent drugstore brush and so far, this is the best one I've found.

My hair is thick and can get pretty tangled up in the mornings, so a lot of brushes just tug and pull on my roots. This brush has lots of long, stiff plastic bristles encased in smaller, short, natural bristles. At first I thought it wasn't actually doing anything, but it actually manages to smooth my hair out without any tugging whatsoever.

In the six or so months that I've had it, it's held up pretty well. It's still got all its bristles (unlike a lot of other cheaper brushes that I'd bought in the past) and it cleans easily enough as well. The natural bristles do make it a bit of a dust catcher, so I need to wash it about once every other week, but I've not seen any detriment to it (such as glue coming loose) from washing it.
But the best thing? Being able to brush my hair without having to pull clumps of hair out of my hair brush.

The Denman Grooming Brush comes in three different sizes: Small, Medium and Large. The one I've got is the medium sized one which retails at £9.79.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Review: Sienna X Polishing Body Scrub

As someone who is still completely terrified by fake tan (I'd rather embrace my pasty white paleness), Sienna X is not a brand I had anything to do with so far. But from what I've gathered there seems to be one key ingredient in getting fake tan on evenly and that is thoroughly exfoliated skin. So, as a result, a fake tan brand should surely know a thing or two about a good scrub, right?

Something I always look for in a body scrub is fine granules and a dense texture, so that the scrub doesn't just slide straight off your skin and down your drain. Thankfully, this Polishing Body Scrub ticks both of those boxes. It has a texture similar to sand, but suspended in a thick, creamy base. The scent is light and refreshing thanks to the lemongrass and ginger, but once you've washed the scrub off, the scent no longer lingers on the skin.

As it's a scrub aimed at preparing skin for self tan, there is no oily residue, which I know some people hate anyway. I prefer my scrubs to be more on the oily side to leave my skin nicely moisturised, but even if you don't fake tan this is still a good one to use on warm days when you don't want to be covered in anything sticky when you step out of the shower.

Lifestyle: How I Got Into Running

When I was at school, PE was by far my most hated subject. I couldn't wait to finally get out of school and not have anybody force me to run around in circles on a track or get me to do any other strenuous activity that I simply saw no point in. Fast forward a couple of years and I'm quite willingly taking out at least half an hour out of every other day to head outside, come rain or sunshine (though preferably sunshine) and run my heart out.

There are loads of benefits to running and there are tonnes of information on it, but I thought I'd just give you a brief overview of the things that got me into it and little hints and tips that I've picked up along the way.

The one thing that gets me to keep coming back to running time after time is the fact that it is just so damn convenient. All you really need is a decent pair of trainers, a sports bra and some comfy clothes and you're good to go. Over time, you might want to pick up a few extra bits here and there. In my personal opinion, a good lightweight jacket that you can just layer over anything else is a great investment and an armband you can strap your phone into and pop some keys and maybe a bit of cash in is also very helpful. Apart from that, it doesn't really matter whether your workout clothes are from Primark or Lululemon, as long as they're comfy and don't chafe, that's all that really matters.

Preparation is key
The number one rookie error which I was also originally something I did, is to just head out the door, go way too fast way too soon, exert yourself too much and then not want to go out again. There are lots of Couch to 5k plans available online, but if you're completely new I'd definitely recommend getting the free C25K app for your smartphone. At the start, all you have to do is run for one minute and anyone can do that! But, rather than having to check your times all the time to know when to take a walking break, the app will give you an audio cue every time you need to switch up your pace, so you can focus on your actual running form.

I also purchased two books to read up on all the running related basics and know-how and the one I would happily recommend to anyone who's new to running or even considers themselves an intermediate runner, is the Zest: Running Made Easy guide (available on Amazon here). It cuts straight to the point, offers easy to follow advice and has lots of motivational stories inside that keep you going on those grey "I-don't-want-to-get-out-of-bed" days.
The other book I went for is the Runner's World Complete Guide to Women's Running (available here). This one offers a lot of more in-depth information and is probably better suited for those who are a lot more committed and serious about their running. For beginners I find it to be a tad intimidating, as there is just so much stuff to get your head around.

Getting high
Occasionally, you might hear people talk about this apparent urban myth called a runner's high. Believe me, it's not a myth. Running will leave you feeling elated and incredibly proud of yourself for getting out there and doing something good for your health. From personal experience, once I've built up my stamina enough to keep going comfortably for at least 40 minutes, come about half hour into my run, I get a tingly sensation that makes me feel like I could literally carry the whole world in my little finger. It's tricky to describe until you've felt it for yourself, but it's a feeling worth putting all the effort in for!
Another thing that makes a tremendous difference is having a good, upbeat playlist to listen to. While it's nice to just shut out all the noise and run in silence from time to time, it's just so much more fun when you're pounding the pavement to a happy song!

Keeping motivated
I've had more gym memberships than I really want to think about (my last one lasted literally one month) and fitness fads come and go, but I keep getting drawn to running and picking up my trainers again and again. In part it's the convenience, in part it's also the monotony that really lets you clear your mind and come back relaxed and refreshed. Even though my job requires me to be on my feet all day long, I am actually more energetic if I've been on a morning run before work, than if I had an extra half hour in bed.
Another huge motivating factor is also continuously seeing your body and your fitness levels improve. I started out wheezing after running for a minute and with patience and perseverance I was soon averaging 15 miles a week. I really love the Map My Run app for this reason, as it lets you track your speed and distance via your phone's inbuilt GPS signal and it's just a great feeling to see your stats improve week after week.
Finally, the biggest and best motivator of them all is to sign up for a race! Be it a 5k or a marathon, just make sure it's a realistic goal and then you'll think twice about skipping a session if you know that race day is just around the corner. The actual feeling of running a race is indescribable. Basically, it's a lot of happy people in one place doing the best they can, often for a good cause raising money for charity - what's not to love?

These are just a few basic thoughts on what got me to be what I consider to be a "runner". Don't hesitate to ask any questions in the comments below and I'll try my very best to answer them!

Are you a runner?

Saturday, 3 May 2014

May Wish List

May Wish List
Ice Cream Print Short-sleeved Grey T-Shirt, Romwe, £11.05 // Blue abstract print maxi dress, River Island, £50 // Studded Denim Hotpants, Kate Moss for Topshop, £50 // Leaf Cuff Bracelet, Asos, £12 // Filigree Fine Stack Rings, Asos, £8 // Subtle Geo Midi Rings, Forever 21, £3.90 // Palm Leaf Print Side Split Tee, Topshop, £36 // Black floral print visor, River Island, £13 // Light green oversized sunglasses, River Island, £13 // Westward Studded Sandals, Forever 21, £16.90 // Pineapple Shaped Color Block Bag, Romwe, £12.89 

Everything is better in summer. The days are longer, it tends to be warm and sunny outside and  it feels like you get a lot more spare time to yourself. I find it almost impossible to be sad and mopey on a bright sunny day - it feels like such a waste of life! Likewise, it becomes more acceptable to wear bright and colourful make-up (neon pink nail polish, orange lips and lime-green eye liner anyone?) and the shops are full of bright and happy prints.

The one thing I'm definitely looking into getting this summer is a light, floaty maxi dress that I can just dance and float around in on warm days. But me being me, it's got to have some sort of loud print on it, otherwise it would just feel a little too "meh".

After my recent obsession with friendship bracelets (which is still going strong) I've now branched out into gold jewellery, mainly delicate gold stacking rings and there seems to be loads of choice in the shops lately, at bargain prices too!

Speaking of prices, it seems like Romwe have really lowered theirs ever since I last looked on their website. I remember them originally charging around the £50 mark for a top, whereas now most items are firmly under £30. I can see a big online order coming up soon!

As the weather's getting warmer it's also time to start looking for some appropriate footwear. It's already too warm for boots and I can't just live in my Converse all the time. Sandal shopping is always a bit of a dilemma for me, as I tend to only like pairs with ridiculously high heels, which I then wear once or twice, realise how much they make my feet hurt and then banish them to the back of my cupboard. This year, I absolutely refuse to even consider a pair of Birkenstocks, no matter how comfy/fashionable they might be. I have, however, spotted quite a few pairs with decorated, wrap-around straps which I find very pretty.

An honourable mention goes to those denim shorts by Kate Moss for Topshop. At £50 I would consider them to be at the top end of what I find to be an acceptable price for a pair of shorts, but how perfect are they for festivals? And even if I don't end up going to any festivals this year, I can at least wear them out in the streets and pretend like I'm at a festival...