High End Beauty at Marks & Spencer

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Over a year ago I noticed that Marks & Spencer had upped their game in the beauty department. Gone are the days of Lavender hand cream and bath salts, and instead (at least in the larger stores) you can find a decent selection of high end beauty brands (and some more budget friendly too). More recently the available selection seems even better and it’s great place to shop for brands that can be otherwise difficult to come by unless you are lucky enough to live near a Space NK or Selfridges. I will list the full range of brands available at the end of the post, but I’ve picked a make up, haircare and skincare brand that interests me to demonstrate just how great Marks and Spencer can be for beauty obsessives!

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I’ve loved the handful of Stila products I have tried so am keen to try more. The brand is pretty easy to find online but what if you want to handle and swatch the products before you buy?. Yes, you can find it in some Boots stores but in those I’ve found it, they seem to stock a limited selection. My local M&S has the full collection. My favourite products are the ‘One Step Correct’ primer and the ‘In The Light’ eye shadow palette. I’d love to try the liquid liner. Let me know of any other Stila recommendations in the comments!

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I only recently discovered the brand Mio and it was by accident when I happened upon a free sample. I fell in love with ‘The Activist’ firming active body oil so purchased it when I had the chance to go into a Space NK (you can find a haul on my YouTube channel here). Now that I know I can pick up Mio products literally around the corner from my house I know I will be trying more from the range!

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I am yet to try any products from Living Proof but I will be now that I know I can get my hands on them! An American brand priding themselves on using ‘proper science’ to create hair products designed to give you beautiful hair. Co-owned by Jennifer Aniston who has been giving us hair envy since 1994 which is why I will be heading straight to M&S once my current hair care stash runs dry!

Full listing of brands available (according to the M&S website):

Alice & Eliza, Amazing Cosmetics, Ambre Solaire, Ameliorate, APTIVIA, Apothecary, Autograph, Barry M, Bliss, Blue Harbour, Burt’s Bees, Butter London, Collezione, Crabtree & Evelyn, Crystal Clear, Cowshed, Diega Dalla Palma, Dr Hauschka, Fake Bake, Filorga, Floral Collection, Florentyna, Formula, Fragonard, GLAMGLOW, Global Escape, James Read, Josh Wood, Jurlique, Korres, L’Occitane, Living Proof, La Maison de Senteurs, Leighton Denny, Limited Collection, Lola, Mamma Mio, MakerAide, Mio, Monotheme, Morgan Taylor, Murad, Nails Inc, Nature’s Extracts, Neal’s Yard, NUXE, Percy & Reed, Per Una, Philip Kingsley, Pixi, Pure, Pur Minerals, Ragdale Hall, Red Carpet Manicure, REN, Rituals, Rodial, Roger & Gallet, Royal Jelly, RUSH, Sampar, Shay & Blue, Skyn Iceland, STILA, St Tropez, Strivectin, Studio 10, Sun Smart, Swell, Tangle Teezer, T LeClerc, Ultrasun.

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Kurt Geiger Leather Zip Around Purse

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If you had said Kurt Geiger to me six months ago I would have thought of shoes, and shoes only. I had no idea they sold beautiful accessories, including purses. However, I was lucky enough to receive the ‘Leather Zip Around Purse’ in brown for my birthday and I have fallen so in love that I decided it needed it’s own dedicated blog post.

There are a few reasons this purse is perfect for me. Firstly, it’s leather. I can be unintentionally heavy handed so as much as I try and take care of all my possessions, they can get a bit ‘bashed about’, especially bags and purses. In the couple of months I’ve had the purse it has worn really well and I find the advantage of leather is even when it gets marked this can simply add to the character of it rather than make it appear ruined (like faux leather can). I also love the zip (there’s a sentence I thought I’d never write!) The reason being that as the name suggests it wraps all the way around the purse keeping everything really secure, but the ‘chunky-ness” of it adds to the overall look. I personally don’t like the look of a designer name plastered in huge letters across a product, and prefer a more subtle nod to the designer. I find the Kurt Geiger lettering to smart and understated. Finally, I am a receipt and loyalty card hoarder and there is plenty of room for these plus enough space for coins, notes and debit/credit cards too without having to cram everything in.

You can find the purse sold in various places including, of course, Kurt Geiger and department stores such as House of Fraser. Different stores seem to stock different colours but in addition to brown I’ve seen the purse in black, grey, pink, white and deep red. It retails for £85. For me, a great investment piece and a great alternative to the very popular Michael Kors purse which will set you back around £125.

5 reasons – I love Autumn

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While everyone else mourns the loss of Summer, the first week of September gets me all excited for Autumn (or Fall if you are reading in the US!) As much as I love warmer weather, barbecues and an excuse to eat ice cream every day, Autumn is definitely my favourite season in the UK. Something about seeing the trees shed their leaves feels like a metaphor for new beginnings and having things to look forward to. So today I’m sharing with you five reasons I love the beautiful season that is Autumn.

Time to get the boots out

I own too many pairs of shoes (hardly a surprising confession from a female!) but boots are definitely the favourite way to dress my feet. Wedge, heeled, flat, ankle, knee high, calf high and even wellies – I love them all!

It’s onesie season

Can you believe there was a time when onesies weren’t a thing?! Autumn is the time mine come out of storage and they don’t go away again until at least February!

Not long to wait for Bonfire Night 

Bonfire Night was a celebration I didn’t embrace as a child (mainly because I was a huge wimp and was scared of fire and all things related) but I have made up for that as an adult! I love wrapping up in a jumper, coat, scarf, gloves and (of course) boots and trampling through a field torch in one hand and hot drink in the other ready to “ooh” and “aah” at the fireworks displays.

Make up gets vampy

Obviously you can wear whatever make up you like no matter the weather but I love cracking out the vampy colours in Autumn. Plum lips, burgundy nails, and copper eye shadows are a few of my fave options. I uploaded a video to my YouTube channel creating just the look I’m talking about (linked here).

Strictly starts!

I have watched Strictly Come Dancing almost since the beginning. I love the “British-ness” of the format, the make up, the costumes and of course the dancing. After having had a brief affair with X Factor last year meaning I didn’t get into Strictly, I have seen the error of my ways and am ready to dedicate my Saturday nights to Tess and Claudia. Even better – it’s like a count down to Christmas!

What are your favourite things about Autumn?

Muscle Food – Lean Meat Bundles

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I’m a total carb-aholic so when I started to pay more attention to my diet in a bid to get healthy for my 30th birthday (you can read more about this here) I made a vow to up my protein intake for a more balanced diet. I’ve tried protein bars and shakes but just can’t stomach them so decided to stick to the old fashioned method of eating more lean meat. My husband introduced me to the website ‘Muscle Food’ and now that we have made a couple of large orders I wanted to share my thoughts with you…

Muscle Food is an online store selling, in their words, premium nutrition for healthy living. This means you can find lean meat, protein bars/snacks/shakes, fresh fruit and vegetables, supplements and even protein rich ready meals and pizzas on the site. For both of our orders we took advantage of a special ‘Groupon’ deal – a 70 piece meat hamper for only £49. This deal on Groupon, and others, pop up regularly but the Muscle Food site itself is still good value, especially if you buy in bulk. They promise all their meat is trimmed of excess fat, free from preservatives and has no added salt or water. They also seem pretty proud of their reputation – the website is plastered with endorsements from professional athletes and organisations such as the Organic Soil Association and the British Butcher Association.

Once placing an order, you choose a delivery date to suit you. The main issue for us here is the company does not deliver on the weekends, which is worth knowing before you place an order. Especially as this is not the kind of order you want left with a neighbour if you are at work when they attempt to deliver (you don’t want 100’s of pounds worth of ruined meat to return home to!) We just planned our orders around annual leave days. Handily, the company sends you a text in the morning with delivery slot (which as far as I remember was a few hours) so at least you don’t have to wait in all day.

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I was dubious about having meat delivered by a courier. I had concerns about the meat being kept refrigerated well enough especially as we made our orders in the height of English summer. When I answered the door to a standard cardboard box, my doubts weren’t initially eased! However, when we opened the box, the contents was super chilled. This had been achieved by a combination of cool bags and a thick layer of insulation. In hindsight this probably would have kept the meat adequately chilled for a few further hours, but I was glad to be home to receive the delivery just to be on the safe side.

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All the meat was vacuum packed. I was pleased to find a variety of expiry dates on the products. All the meat had at least a few days to go, and some had up to a week. It’s just us two in our household so clearly we needed to freeze a lot of the meat but if you are a larger family or eat a lot of protein on a daily basis there is time to spare without having to freeze anything. Our hamper contained a mixture of chicken, steaks, pork, turkey, sausages and bacon. Most of this was packaged in portions suitable for one or two people. However, there were two packs of chicken breasts containing 2.5 kg each. We learned the hard way, but if you get a hamper containing this I would recommend separating the chicken into manageable portions before freezing – we had a hard time defrosting 2.5 kg of chicken in one packet and then eating it all within the next 24 hours!!

The biggest surprise for me was the quality of the meat. Honestly, most of it tasted better than any supermarket or butcher bought meat I have tried before. The stand outs for me were the bacon and the beef steaks. I track my nutrition on My Fitness Pal and was amazed but pleased to see how low fat and calorie these were for the taste! The only disappointment was the sausages, which compared to the other pieces were just average and not much lower fat than standard sausages. But for a 70 piece hamper to only be let down by one of the items, you can see why we made a second order!

As I already mentioned, we have been impressed enough with Muscle Food to make a second order and I am now tempted to try out some of their other offers including the protein snacks and pizza!

Have you tried anything from Muscle Food? Let me know your thoughts in the comments…