Sunday, 19 February 2017

My Journey To A Confident Smile: Bugs Bunny, Tinsel Teeth, Gaps & All!

Smile Design at Ewan Bramley Dental Care North Shields, Before Cosmetic Dentistry

Forget the Chanel Jumbo that has been on my wishlist for countless years; the best accessory that I will ever own is my smile.  Handbags may come and go but a winning smile never goes out of fashion and I've chosen to invest in mine.

Over the last few months I have been on my own exciting Smile Design journey with Ewan Bramley Dental Care in North Shields.  This is the most sophisticated dental technology on the market which enables you to see the results of cosmetic and corrective dentistry before committing to the treatment.

This coming week, I will be having the dental work done which will enhance my smile to its best potential and give me the look that I've always wanted for my teeth.  Enhancing my smile is a big commitment for me, as it would be for a lot of people which is why I decided to photograph and track my progress and review the service from start to finish on my blog.

I'm hoping that these posts will help others out there that are considering a cosmetic or corrective dental procedure.  It isn't a decision that I have taken lightly and I mean it when I say that this is something that I have wanted for as long as I can remember, which is a great starting point for this post.


Ewan Bramley Dental Care North Shields

I believe that your smile is powerful; it is your secret weapon for confidence and it can convey and evoke so many emotions.  It has the power to light up a room, create a great first impression and a last memory.  Smiling changes not only how you feel about yourself but how others see you too.  It is one of the kindest gifts you can give someone and this makes it a timeless asset.

Smiling and smiling confidently are two very different things and your teeth play a big part in this.  Some people are blessed with a Hollywood smile but for a lot of people, this is far from reality.  A lot of dental issues are picked up as we grow up and are corrected in childhood but some of us still have dental hang ups as adults or experience insecurities with our teeth as we age, often through inefficient care.

I hated my teeth when I was a child and although I was mostly a bubbly, happy character, I didn't have the sense of self that I do now to feel confident and open about my body and features.  My teeth were the one part of me that I was the most self conscious of aesthetically and this really affected how I saw myself and how I smiled.  I remember the top row being the worst as my two front teeth were considerably larger than the rest of my teeth but especially compared to the two either side of them and they were all really spaced out.

My two front teeth stuck out like a sore thumb because they weren't straight; I didn't just have a gap between them but a whopping great inverted V shape with one tooth looking like it was trying to escape out of the right hand side of my mouth and the other being far too preoccupied with what was going on with the left.  I couldn't bite into an apple, food would easily become lodged in the spaces between my teeth and this big gap felt really sensitive to cold food and when you're an active kid that loves chasing after the ice cream van, that's not a feature that you're looking for with your teeth.

Kids can be so cruel and I remember being told that I was Goofy and had Bugs Bunny teeth on one too many occasions which only heightened the way I felt about them; self conscious and embarrassed to smile.  I wasn't judgemental  of others as a child and that's something that I'm really thankful to my parents for by the way that they brought me up.  It's funny because I would never have thought badly about someone else who had teeth like mine, bring it up or pick on them about it, I was just concerned with how I felt about myself and the aesthetic of my own teeth.

Although its awful to think of myself as a child having an insecurity about a part of my body, I'm proud that I wasn't one of those kids calling someone else for how they looked.  Those values and morals have stayed with me as an adult and even now when I say that I don't like something, I mean in relation to me and it is not a judgement on anyone elses appearance.  Life is much less of a headache when you learn to let go and leave each to their own; you do you and I'll do me.

Another thing that was instilled in me as a child was the importance of taking care of my teeth.  I didn't have really sugary drinks (I remember my mam feeling particularly horrified when she discovered the sugar content in Sunny D and that was promptly banned from the fridge), I had regular check ups at the dentist and always thoroughly brushed my teeth.  As a result, I have never really had any major problems with my teeth, they've always been strong and a healthy shade of white, even though they may not have looked as I would have liked them to.


Smile Design at Ewan Bramley Dental Care North Shields, Before Cosmetic Dentistry

By the time I reached my teens, I was hell bent on having a brace to align my teeth and close the gaps and thankfully my dentist agreed.  I was referred to an orthodontist who fitted me with one of the metal train track braces with the colourful elastic bands on.  I was lucky in that there wasn't much bullying for having a brace in my comprehensive school, perhaps because a few of the cool kids had them and I was actually quite looking forward to getting it on because it was something that I had wanted for so long.

In the week leading up to having the fixed brace fitted, I did become a little apprehensive and wondered if I was doing the right thing as it was going to be on for up to 2 years.  I'd heard someone say on the TV that having a gap between your two front teeth was unusual and lucky and I remembered hesitating for a split second, wondering if I'd regret closing the gap but I quickly reassured myself as it wasn't just the gaps that I didn't appreciate but the whopping great angle that my two front teeth sat at.

I remember the day that I had my brace fitted vividly.  I think my dad worried I'd be picked on for having the brace too, as I'd already been a victim of bullying because of my weight and a lot of the films that were around at that time featured American schools with kids getting called names such as brace face and tinsel teeth, although I think that was more of a UK term.  Plus, he knew that it would hurt; after all, no pain, no gain.

In an effort to console me, before my appointment he treated me to one of the first ever camera phones which was silver and  matched my new silver teeth incredibly well.  I'd like to think that the pink and purple elastic bands complimented the whole ensemble perfectly!

Smile Design at Ewan Bramley Dental Care North Shields, Before Cosmetic Dentistry

Each time I had the brace tightened, I'd be in a lot of pain for days until it eased off and I got used to it.  While I knew that it was for my own benefit, I hated having the brace on.  Food would get stuck in it easily, especially cheese, so I was always very self conscious of eating, my teeth were very sensitive, my jaw would ache and my mouth would feel sore at times and the little metal bits on my teeth would scratch the inside of my gums, often causing them to bleed.

Another thing that I hated was that the metal train tracks were glaringly obvious to the point where my teeth looked black when I smiled for photos... so guess what?  I stopped smiling with my mouth open in photographs which changed how confident and happy I looked because I was awkwardly trying to conceal the braces.

Most photos that I have of this time with my mouth open are ones that have been taken when I've been caught off guard such as this absolute beauty above.  Talk about a throwback!  It was taken at one of my best friends 14th birthdays when I was two thirds of the way through the treatment; my teeth had been straightened and it was just a case of closing the gaps.

The treatment had been successful in a shorter time frame than expected and I was able to have the brace removed after 18 months, I think it was the day before my 15th birthday.  I was told that the gaps hadn't fully closed but my teeth were straight, in line and as close to having no gaps as I was going to get as my teeth weren't big enough for my mouth.  I was given a clear retainer to wear at night and that was the end of it.

I left the orthodontist feeling on top of the world and vowed to wear the retainer every night forever and ever amen.  Of course that didn't happen and after about a year or so the clear retainer disappeared to the back of a drawer never to be seen again.  However I did continue to take great care of my teeth in terms of brushing and going to the dentist regularly.  It felt great to be able to bite into something without getting it stuck between my teeth or having increased sensitivity to cold things.


Smile Design at Ewan Bramley Dental Care North Shields, Before Cosmetic Dentistry

Braces have changed a lot since then and I know of many people who have had the train track braces as adults but they've been white and much less noticeable, better still, almost invisible braces are available now which seems like a much better option.  I'm so thankful that I was able to have the brace on because it made such a massive difference to my teeth, how I felt about my smile and my confidence which I think is really important to you when you're in your teens.

When I was 19 and had moved to a different area, I switched from the NHS dentist that I had been seeing previously to a highly regarded private dentist as they were the closest to me.  I noticed that there was a significant difference in the service and treatment options with private dentistry compared to an NHS dentist which I wouldn't have realised before had I not changed practice because the dentist who I had always seen previously had been fantastic.  We're so lucky to have the NHS in the UK with a range of free dentistry options for those under 19 and in full time education and for those who are pregnant, etc but there's only so much that can go round so naturally more options can be come available to you when you're paying for the service and at a higher quality.

While I was paying for the dentist myself, I placed an importance on my dental health and kept some money each month from my job while I was at college and university to pay for it.  I've taken good care of my teeth over the last 9 years, had any treatment that I've needed and had biannually hygienist appointments.  I've been so happy and confident with my smile but there was always one little thing that was niggling me and that's the gaps and the smaller teeth either side of my two front ones.


Smile Design at Ewan Bramley Dental Care North Shields, Before Cosmetic Dentistry

All of the photos you see here are of my teeth up to date (aside from the brace photo).  I'm happy in myself and happy with my smile but I always knew that if I had the opportunity to enhance it then I would do.  When I first joined the private dentist at 19, I asked about veneers to give me the smile that I wanted but I was advised to wait a while until I'd had some other necessary treatment first and then we could look into it.  When that time came, I was advised that 10 veneers would give me the look that I wanted but it was very costly and something that I would need to consider at a later date when I could realistically afford the treatment.

I broached the subject again before my wedding as by that time I had heard of  other options becoming available that could help me including a clear brace treatment called Invisalign and also of a fixed brace option that is applied to the back of the teeth, as well as the option of veneers.  My dentist had changed at this point to another dentist within the same practice but he advised against treatment as my teeth were fine as they were, just slightly spaced which can be beneficial for brushing.  Plus the cost had increased further and its a big outlay if you don't know exactly what you're going to look like afterwards, whether you'll like it or if you would think that it was worth it.

Three years on and I still think about having dental treatment when I look at my teeth in the mirror.  I've looked around for other options but its hard to know what information to trust.  When it comes to something as important as your teeth and ultimately your smile, it is so important that you find a dentist that openly wants the best treatment for you and a service that is going to be able to achieve that aim.


Ewan Bramley Dental Care North Shields

Towards the end of last year, I discovered Ewan Bramley Dental Care near Newcastle in the North East and the revolutionary service that they offer.  With a free Smile Design consultation, I could find out all of the dentistry options that would be available to me including invisible braces and veneers and I would be able to see a mock up of what my teeth and smile would look like before making a decision on what treatment I wanted to go ahead with, if anything.  As well as this, their top private dentistry is comparatively more affordable than others around, especially for invisible braces which they have the technology to make on the premises rather than outsourcing and they offer interest free finance too.

It all sounded too good to be true but after having a look on their website, I really liked how friendly, open and honest they appeared as a business; first impressions count, even online!  I had a look through the different pages covering the vast range of dental treatments that they offered with plenty of before and after pictures which showed the fantastic results that they had achieved with their patients.

I gave them a quick ring to book my Smile Design consultation and my mind was put at ease by the knowledgeable person that I spoke to.  She knew all about the consultation so was able to explain exactly what to expect, filling me with confidence and excitement for my first appointment and the start of my Smile Design journey.

The rest as they say is history!

I'll be sharing every step of my journey with you from the Smile Design consultation next Sunday where I'll talk through the appointment, the options given to me and why I chose the treatment that I decided to go for, to the procedure itself and the aftercare.

If you love the sound of Ewan Bramley Dental Care already, then you can give them a call on 0191 303 7872 or get in touch on their website to book your FREE Smile Design consultation.

How confident do you feel about your teeth and smile?  Did you wear a brace as a child?

Have you had any cosmetic or corrective dentistry in the past or is this something that you would consider having in the future?
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Friday, 17 February 2017

How To Nail The Pastel Trend This Spring Without Looking Too Girly



Spring is in the air and its so close I can almost taste it!  The days seem to be getting a little brighter and I don't know about you but I'm so happy about it.  I love the cosy evenings that Autumn/Winter brings but it plays havoc with my energy levels and don't even get me started on trying to take blog photos in natural light.

I'm excited about all that Spring has to bring from the warmer days that are lighter for longer to the daffodils in my garden and the fashion.

This year, bold stripes and utility styling is IN along with, you've guessed it pastels!  There's so many ways to get the look with pastels from the uber girlie to the soft and subtle.  In today's post I'll show you how to nail the pastel trend with some gorgeous new pieces from Esprit.

First up, we have the subtle look; ideal for those who aren't drawn to pastels but are fashion conscious enough to acknowledge this repeated trend.  The EDC Stretch Jeans here have contrasting stitching in pastel pink as a decorative accent on the pockets as well as pink turn ups to the ankle.  This is about as subtle as it gets when it comes to pastels and the mid grey wash ensures that you can still create an edgier look with these jeans.

Fancy stepping it up a notch?  Then the pastel High-Top Trainers here would look awesome with skinny jeans or leggings.  With fold over cuffs and a mix of materials, they're effortlessly stylish for that model off duty look and come in three colour ways.

Sticking with the high top trainers and adding the EDC Ultra Light Down Jacket, here, in pastel pink or blue would create a gorgeous pastel look that's bang up to date with the current trends.  The 90s came back with force in 2016 and they're here to stay this year so this sporty puffer jacket would not only be fashionable but practical too.  Fancy a walk anyone?

If sporty and casual isn't your style then EDC Blazer Coat in a cotton blend here is the perfect option.  Available in pastel pink and blue, this piece gives you the option of wearing it to work to keep you warm on chillier spring days, over jeans and a roll neck at the weekend a la InTheFrow or over an LBD at night for a pop of colour.

Whatever your style, you can work pastels into your wardrobe by adding a couple of key pieces.  Stick to fabrics that you feel comfortable in and cuts that give you an added confidence boost.

How would you wear the pastel trend this spring?  Which is your favourite piece from Esprit?
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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

January Degustabox PLUS a discount code!

Degustabox and discount code

Another month, another Degustabox and this moth was fabulous for new discoveries for the WLL household.  Especially for Pappa WLL who grabbed the Fruitella Strawberry 30% Less Sugar (£1.25) and consumed them before I even had a chance to take a snap of them.  I must remember to keep the box hidden until everything has been photographed next month!

If you haven't tried these then you really should.  Fruitella have squeezed even more juice into the sweets making them extra fruity but the sweetness tastes really natural in that they're not too sweet and really natural too!  They're so yummy, even more so than the normal Fruitellas which my dad bought a bag of after having these ones and in all honesty, I prefer the 30% less sugar ones; plus they have no sweeteners and only natural flavourings and colours which gives them two thumbs up from me!

Finn Crisp Snacks in seeds and sea salt Degustabox

If you haven't heard of Degustabox before then seriously, get to know!  Its a fantastic subscription box for foodies where they will deliver 10 to 15 food and beverage items to your door every single month.  You can sign up for 1 box (and get it at a LOW price if you use my code below) or you can subscribe and also gift the box too.

There's a variety of household and emerging brands inside which gives you the change to try something that you may not have considered before which is exactly what happened to me this month with Finn Crisp (£1.89).  I had the wholegrain rye variety with seeds and sea salt on top and there was a leaflet inside with lots of serving suggestions on it.  I've been firmly back on the avocado band waggon this month and I just cannot get enough of making guacamole as a dip.  These are PERFECT to dip in!

Yushoi Snapea Rice Sticks in coconut and chilli Degustabox

Unfortunately since the choices inside are a surprise every month, you may find yourself not liking some items.  For me that was the Yushoi Snapea Rice Sticks (£1.79) in the coconut and chilli flavour.  I knew I wouldn't like these as soon as I saw them as I also had them back in my October box in the lightly salted flavour and they weren't for me.

I tried putting them out while we were watching a film one night to see if my dad and hubby would like this flavour but they didn't go down well with them either, such a shame that they went to waste!

Popchips Ridges in Smoky Bacon Degustabox

Instead, it was the Popchips (£1.99) in the smoky bacon flavour that appealed to us the most.  I've had Popchips before as they've been in a few goodie bags at events and if I ever have Starbucks for lunch then I'll grab a bag but I haven't tried the ridges variety before.

They're absolutely delicious; big on flavour and have just the right amount of crunch to them.  They're popped rather than fried and only 99 calories per serving which is great news for me as I've really changed my lifestyle over the last year and I'm all about balance these days.

Quinola Mothergrain express quinoa with split peas fair trade degustabox

When I saw the  Quinola Mothergrain (£2.49) Express Quinoa with split peas, I knew that it would be something that I'd enjoy and I wasn't wrong!  It heats up easily in the microwave (and it can also be enjoyed cold) and is great to serve with chicken and roasted veggies which is how I enjoyed it.  Having pouches like this in my food cupboards makes life so much easier for me as I'll save a little of dinner the night before and heat it up the next day with a pouch of this for lunch.  Its quick and easy and keeps me fuller for longer.

After trying the Quinola Mothergrain quinoa, I've since repurchased it from Amazon along with the spicy Mexican flavour which is also delicious.  I love that the quinoa mix is gluten free and a great source of vegetarian protein.  I pay attention to my macros now and sometimes struggle to hit my protein so being able to have something other than meat to boost it is really handy, not to mention tasty!  I'm sure you'll be pleased to know that this brand is organic and fair trade too which is great as not all quinoa is, sadly.

Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer in Scottish Raspberry Degustabox

Now if any of you know my dad then you'll know that he's quite partial to a Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer (£1.39) so when I saw that there was a Raspberry flavour included in the Degustabox this month, I knew he'd have to give me his verdict.

He said that while he would always be loyal to the original, the Scottish Raspberry flavour was a welcome change to mix things up and the taste was crisp and authentic rather than sickly sweet in the way that some drinks such as flavoured cider can be.

Aspire Drinks Degustabox

Generally speaking, I tend to stick to low calorie drinks day to day so the zero calorie, zero sugar and zero fat Aspire Drinks (2 x £1.45) cans fitted perfectly in with that.  I received the Mango Lemonade and Cranberry flavours and I have to say that they're both really great.

They combine good-for-you active ingredients such as Premium Green Tea, Guarana Seed Extract, Vitamins B and C, Ginger Root and L-Carnitine which they claim to help to deliver sustained, healthy energy and mental focus. For me, I focused on how they tasted as they're still a drink I would enjoy every now and again as I mostly consume water.  They have a sparkle to them but they aren't gassy and they have a gentle flavour to them; nothing too sweet or overbearing which makes them really enjoyable and easy to consume.

Both flavour varieties have no calories or sugar in them, making them ideal for if you're watching your weight or blood sugar levels.

Fancy giving them a go?  You can get 20% off using promo code ASPIRE20 on their website until 5th March 2017.

Protein Boost Chocolate Flavour Degustabox

The number of times that I go to the gym varies week on week depending on how busy I am or if my neck is particularly sore but generally speaking, I'll go at least twice.  I'll usually go home afterwards, shower and have a protein shake (I'll be talking about the protein powder that I use in a fitness blog post soon) but the one thing that I struggle with is having a protein shake straight after the gym if I have errands to run before I go home.  I never take the powder and my shaker out with me as its just easier to keep it all in the house so discovering the Protein Boost (£1.29) drink in this months box has been great for me.

The Protein Boost drinks are available in chocolate or strawberry, of which I have the chocolate flavour.  The drinks are designed to be grab and go in their own single bottles which is ideal as it is already made up and I'm not having to decant some of my usual protein powder into a bag and mess on in the car.  Each drink is fat free, has no added sugar, is less than 150 calories and has 20g of protein in it, which is again, great news for me as it ups my protein macros for the day.

I loved the chocolate flavour as it was rich and chocolatey but not too sweet which my palette can't seem to handle these days.  I used to love having a Pepsi Max on the odd occasion and now I think its far too sweet for me!  I'll definitely be picking up the strawberry flavour to try and repurchasing the chocolate Protein Boost.

We Are Little's Flavour Infused Coffee Natural Island Coconut Degustabox

One of my favourite products this month has been the We Are Little's Flavour Infused Coffee (£2.99) in the Natural Island Coconut flavour (also available in French Vanilla).  This is a granulated 100% arabica coffee that you add hot water to to make a delicious hot coffee drink, lightly flavoured with coconut.  My husband has been enjoying this black but I do like a drop of almond milk in mine as I've never been a fan of black coffee.

The taste isn't too strong and the coconut flavour takes a little of the bitterness away from the coffee.  I do enjoy mine with a little sweetener from Natvia as I'm really not a fan of coffee on its own.  The coffee itself is only 4 calories per cup without milk so adding the zero calorie sweetener and healthy almond milk makes this a really delicious drink that is healthy enjoy to be able to enjoy daily!

You can pick up a jar from Sainsburys, Waitrose, Holland and Barrett and Wholefoods but if you shop direct from their website, you can get 20% off with the code Degusta20.

Nativa Natural Sweetener Degustabox

Speaking of sweetener, I actually received my tub of Natvia (£4.99 for 200g) in this months Degustabox and it really is life changing.  Ok, so its not going to change my life but it'll certainly make it a whole lot sweeter!

This is a granulated/powder sweetener that you can buy in Tesco.  It is just like sugar and the usual powdered sugar sweetener substitutes except it tastes different in that it has the really nice fresh sweetness to it.  I bought a pot of Truvia towards the end of last year and ended up throwing it away as it was vile; it had such a chemical, artificial, bitter aftertaste that I couldn't stomach it at all and hated the way it changed the flavour of the food I was eating or the drink I was consuming.  Natvia doesn't have that awful taste at all; it isn't quite the same as sugar but its not far off, its really finely ground and it doesn't leave a bitter aftertaste in my mouth.  Plus its from all natural sources and has zero calories per serving.

Natvia, you rock my world and I'll certainly be repurchasing you!

Chosan Hibiscus Drink with Fiery Ginger Degustabox

This months Degustabox was really heavy on the drinks so I was bound to find one that I didn't enjoy and that was the Chosan Hibiscus Drink with Fiery Ginger.  The flavour wasn't to my taste which doesn't surprise me as ginger gives me heartburn!  However I do love that the company donates at least 5p from every bottle of Chosan sold to African food producers to improve their quality of life.  In such a money driven world, its great to see businesses giving back.

Pips Real Hot Chocolate Coin Degustabox

Another drink item that came in this months box was the Pips Real Hot Chocolate which arrives as a chocolate coin that you place in a pan with 200-250ml milk on the hob and stir until the chocolate is melted and the milk is as warm as desired.  I was really happy to see this in there as Pips is actually a really small brand, lovingly made by an artisan maker in Wales.  I love to support those kinds of companies over the big brand names when I can.

The drink was so easy to make and while they actually suggest making it using milk and indulgent double cream, I actually made mine with almond milk and found it to still be deliciously chocolatey, just not incredibly creamy which is perfect for me.  The chocolate coin is free from nuts, gluten and dairy and made with vegans in mind, plus it can be made with any kind of milk so regardless of whether you're a dairy drinker or not like I am, you can still enjoy the warming chocolatey goodness!  The coin has a minimum of 54% cocoa dark chocolate within it and it works out at 122.2 kcal per coin calorie wise so while it is a treat, it is certainly better than many other hot chocolate drinks out there!

Inside the little bag, there was also a loyalty card that you can fill up with stickers when ordering from participating retailers and when placing online orders from the Pips website.  Its a way of them giving back to their customers as the more completed cards collected, the better the rewards.  I love it when companies reward their customers loyalty.

Chia Shots Degustabox

This month I tried my hand at making chia seed pudding thanks to Degustabox as this months box contained two sachets of Chia Shots (2 x £0.66) one in the dark colour and one in the white.  I really surprised myself at how much I enjoyed it.  The texture is a little strange to begin with but actually it is really filling and delicious depending on what you flavour it with.  I'll do an Instagram post sharing how I make it next time I have it so stay following me for that!

The only thing that I haven't been able to try from this months box yet is the Gourmet Live Yoghurt from The Collective as there was a voucher inside for a free pot of the passionfruit or raspberry flavour and I haven't had a chance to redeem it yet.  I think I'll be going for the passionfruit one when I do... yummy!

Degustabox and discount code

Love the sound of this months box or Degustabox in general?  Then head on over to their website to order.

If you're a newbie, enter the discount code 88AHT to receive your first box for only £5.99 with FREE delivery!

What item tempts you the most from this months box?  Would you prefer more drinks or food items in your box?  Do you like snack foods or ones that you cook with?
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Monday, 13 February 2017

Get Ready With Rimmel For Valentine's Day!

Rimmel Magnifeyes eyeshadow palette, volume colourist mascara, provocalips, scandaleyes bold eyeliner makeup look #getreadywithrimmel valentines day

The month of February is all about love and romance, especially for Mr WLL and I as we celebrate not only Valentine's Day but our anniversary of being together too.  We're old romantics and love to spoil one another, dress up and go on a date night or away for the night.

This Valentine's Day we're going to the cinema to see 50 Shades Darker and then to Prezzo for their Valentine's Day menu.  Going to a chain restaurant for something like Valentines would never have really interested me until last year when a last minute change in our work schedules meant that we were together in London on Valentines.  Without a reservation anywhere, we took a risk in going out and stumbled upon the great offer on food and prosecco that Prezzo had on.  We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and so are going back this year to see if it is just as good.


Rimmel Magnifeyes eyeshadow palette, volume colourist mascara, provocalips, scandaleyes bold eyeliner makeup look #getreadywithrimmel valentines day

I'll be sharing the outfit that I wear on the day over on my Instagram but I already know what makeup I'll be wearing as I'll be drawing inspiration from the look that I wore in this post.

The emphasis in this makeup look was on my eyes with winged liner and blended gold eyeshadow and on my lips with a bold red lip.  I used some really affordable makeup products from Rimmel London which are great if you're on a budget or simply not wanting to invest in higher end makeup and in this post, I'll be sharing my thoughts on them.

I've been trying out lots of products from them this winter and found some real favourites that I would definitely recommend; check out my posts on their Scandaleyes Reloaded Mascara and Eyeliner and The Only 1 Matte Lipstick to get you started.

Rimmel Magnifeyes eyeshadow palette, volume colourist mascara, provocalips, scandaleyes bold eyeliner makeup look #getreadywithrimmel valentines day

Lets kick things off with a bang; the Rimmel Magnif'eyes Eye Contouring Palette in Keep Calm & Wear Gold which is absolutely fabulous and rivals a lot of higher end eyeshadow palettes, especially when you consider the comparatively lower price point.

The palette contains 8 complimentry shades with a mix of shimmer and matte finishes that can be used to create a multitude of different eye looks.  The shade range is more than sufficient for a daytime eye look and can be built up easily for a more intense, night out makeup look.

There's a mirror in the lid and a double ended sponge that I'll not use in a month of Sunday's but its the eyeshadows themselves that really matter and these ones are fabulous.  Buttery soft, very pigmented and easy to blend.  There is next to no fall out with them, making application very straightforward and tidy.  Plus, the colour intensity lasts all day without fading or creasing.

I've used this so many times since I got it and will continue to do so, including on Valentine's Day!

Rimmel Magnifeyes eyeshadow palette, volume colourist mascara, provocalips, scandaleyes bold eyeliner makeup look #getreadywithrimmel valentines day

Whenever I apply my makeup, I always like to define my eyes with eyeliner and mascara; without them, I do vaguely resemble a potato.

Liquid liner is my weapon of choice as I love the super black look that it creates.  I usually choose felt tip styles but instead gave the Rimmel Scandaleyes Bold a try.

The formula of this liner is perfect as it creates the super black look, glossy finish and insane longevity that I love from an eyeliner.  Since it is waterproof, it doesn't transfer or smudge throughout the day either which is important to me as my eyes can water if it is windy.

However I don't like the applicator at all.  Rimmel say that it has an innovative ball tip for a bold look but I just don't get it.  To me, the ball makes the product hard to work with and I can't achieve the wing that I like to wear as easily with it.  Instead, I would recommend the Scandaleyes Micro Eyeliner which has a very black, long lasting formula but with a very easy to use, short and fine felt tip applicator nib.


Rimmel Magnifeyes eyeshadow palette, volume colourist mascara, provocalips, scandaleyes bold eyeliner makeup look #getreadywithrimmel valentines day

Rimmel Magnifeyes eyeshadow palette, volume colourist mascara, provocalips, scandaleyes bold eyeliner makeup look #getreadywithrimmel valentines day

Sadly the mascara that I used didn't live up to expectations either.  The Rimmel Volume Colourist Mascara is designed to instantly give the appearance of fuller, longer looking lashes but I actually found that it made my lashes look even shorter than they are as it didn't seem to add any length or volume to them.

The bristle brush wand is designed to be tapered to grab every lash and coat it with blacker than black pigments that actually claim to darken bare lashes with two weeks of use.  In theory, this is a fabulous idea but in practice, I didn't find it to work and saw no difference to the colour of my own lashes with consistent use.  The formula seems as though it is far too wet and runny as the mascara smudges easily.  I found that it really dried my lashes out and when I tried to apply a little more, the brush was getting caught on my lashes which felt scratchy and uncomfortable.

I wouldn't use this mascara again and would instead opt for the Scandaleyes Reloaded Mascara which is far superior.


Rimmel Magnifeyes eyeshadow palette, volume colourist mascara, provocalips, scandaleyes bold eyeliner makeup look #getreadywithrimmel valentines day

The product that surprised me the most however was the Rimmel Provocalips.  Quite honestly, I don't know where these have been all my life; how have I not tried them before?!

Provocalips are Rimmel's 16 hour kissproof lip colour and boy do they mean it.  The lip product is dual ended and really easy to apply- simply coat the lips with the colour and leave them apart for a minute until the colour sets, then add the clear side to lock in the colour, add moisture and shine.

The colour payoff is incredibly intense, highly pigmented and very opaque which is a bold change for me as I do tend to wear more nude shades on a day to day basis.  While the high impact colour is definitely a plus point to these lip products, it is their longevity and comfort that I am most impressed with.


Rimmel Magnifeyes eyeshadow palette, volume colourist mascara, provocalips, scandaleyes bold eyeliner makeup look #getreadywithrimmel valentines day

I don't know about you but I tend to associate long lasting lip colours with very drying matte formulas.  Provocalips have a glossy finish and the overall product isn't drying or tight feeling on the lips in the slightest.  It is very comfortable to wear all day long and quite a surprise really when catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror 10 hours after applying my makeup to still see my lip colour looking perfect.

I do find that after eating and drinking, the glossy top coat isn't as shiny so I need to top it up a little after a meal but the lip colour itself doesn't budge at all; no smudging, no transfer, no bleeding and it really is kiss proof.

Removal isn't as easy as some lip products but that's totally understandable given the longevity of the lippy.  To remove it, I use my Clarins Instant Eye Makeup Remover on a cotton pad, followed by lightly pressing a warm flannel over my lips to take away the excess lip colour and that usually does the trick.

Rimmel Magnifeyes eyeshadow palette, volume colourist mascara, provocalips, scandaleyes bold eyeliner makeup look #getreadywithrimmel valentines day

Rimmel Magnifeyes eyeshadow palette, volume colourist mascara, provocalips, scandaleyes bold eyeliner makeup look #getreadywithrimmel valentines day

Its clear that the stand outs from this look for me are the Rimmel Magnif'eyes eyeshadow palette and the Provocalips as they're bold, long lasting and highly pigmented which is exactly what I want for my makeup on Valentine's Day.

While the eyeliner and mascara aren't for me, I love that there are others from Rimmel that I really enjoy using instead which goes to show the variety of their makeup range.  It is great to find an affordable brand that cater to so many different styles, meaning that you can shop a whole look from them if you wanted to, rather than having a mascara from one brand and an eyeliner from another.

If you're looking to try out some Rimmel products, Boots have a special deal on at the time of writing, which will enable your money to go f

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What are your favourite drugstore products?  Which Rimmel products would you recommend to me?
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Friday, 10 February 2017

Luxury Valentine's Day Gift Guide For Her & Him | Perfect for Anniversaries, Birthdays & just for saying I Love You too!


Valentine's Day is fast approaching and for all you love birds out there, I thought I'd put together a gift guide to making shopping for your loved one that little bit easier this year.

Whether you're buying for him or her this Valentine's Day, this luxury gift guide will help point you in the right direction to spoil your other half.



I'm hoping that I don't cause offence when I say that I have never been one for tacky gifts such as 'horny devil' cuddly toys as I think that they're a waste of money, at least for me and my hubby as it would just get shoved in a drawer and forgotten about.  We love to treat each other on Valentine's Day with a lovely gift, something sentimental (I'll not share that on here as I think it is down to the individual) and a date day or night.

What we buy/ how much we spend and where we go/what we do varies every year depending on where we are at in our lives but our golden rule is that we only buy for one another if the item is great quality, useful, can be treasured or enjoyed and something that the other person would actually want.  Otherwise, what is the point?  Whether you're spending 80p or £80, we don't like to buy something just for the sake of it.

With that in mind, lets take a look at my top luxe Valentine's Day gift recommendations for men and women this year.

Chocolates





Chocolates are the way to many a heart.  If your loved one has a sweet tooth then I'd suggest checking out the Valentine's Collection from luxury chocolatier, Godiva.

There's no denying the beautiful presentation of their chocolates but the intricately detailed illustrated boxes are my favourite.  Created exclusively for Godiva by the artist Sarajo Frieden, they have a mix of pink hues that are romantic, loving and perfect for giving with love.  The design is available on many of the Godiva chocolate boxes for Valentine's Day, including the heart shaped boxes.  Everything looks more romantic and special when its heart shaped, right?

This is the 14 piece chocolate heart which contains 12 Godiva favourites for all tastes, including their classic white, dark and milk chocolate hearts and their dark Tourbillon 85, as well as two limited edition chocolates.  These are Strawberry Shortcake and the deliciously sounding Crème Brulée; in all honesty, I cannot wait to gift this to Mr WLL so that I can pinch these two when he opens the box!

Perfect on their own or as an accompaniment to another gift, you simply cannot go wrong with chocolates!


Fragrance



I'm sure you will all know by now that fragrance is my guilty pleasure.  Scent is so powerful and can evoke many memories, so gifting a bottle of a new fragrance at a loving, romantic time can ensure many reminders of happy memories.

Lots of my favourite fragrance houses have released new perfumes just in time for Valentine's Day.  My favourite being the Annick Goutal Tenue De Soirée Eau De Parfum which comes in a stunning 100ml bottle or 50ml bottle adorned with a gorgeous purple pompom that could be used as a bag charm or keyring.

The beautiful packaging certainly gives this fragrance the WOW factor but it is the perfume inside that counts and it certainly doesn't disappoint.  Ideally gifted to the glamorous, go-getter who likes her fragrance to last all day, this womens fragrance is sweet, addictive and sexy.

Tenue De Soirée is a gourmand, chypre fragrance, contrasting fresh top notes with a silky heart and an addictive base.  If the lady you're gifting for loves the scent notes of iris and patchouli then this is the perfume for her.



However if you're buying for a Narciso Rodriguez fan then let me point you in the direction of their latest fragrance as it is sure to delight.  Narciso Rodriguez Fleur Musc is a brand new release that is available in Selfridges until it goes on nationwide release on 17th March.

This is a floral chypre scent that sits directly between a floral fragrance and a musc scent for the most sensual, intriguing, warming and free spirited effect.  Having loved other Narciso fragrances, this one was a real surprise for me as it still has that signature musk heart but the combination of other fragrance notes really is something different for them.

With top notes of spicy pink peppercorn, a heart of musk, rose and peony and a base of woody patchouli and soft amber, this perfume is unlike anything else that I've smelt before and certainly an ideal fragrance for a woman who loves to stand out for all the right reasons.  Plus, the gorgeous deep pink bottle couldn't be more perfect for the month of love.



A fragrance that I suspect will be incredibly popular this Valentine's Day is the brand new Jimmy Choo L'Eau.  It was only released at the end of January however because of its immediate nationwide launch, it is easier to buy on the highstreet and online than the Annick Goutal and Narciso Rodriguez perfumes above.

L'Eau is described as being the expression of a glowing sensuality. It combines citrus fresh top notes of bergamot and hibiscus flower with a fruity floral heart of nectarine and peony and a sensual base of cedarwood and musk.  The effect is distinctly feminine and one which I think many women across the board will love so if you're unsure of which scent to buy this year, I think that this one is a pretty safe bet.



Two new fragrance releases that are guaranteed to be really highly sought after this year are from Paco Rabanne who have updated another two of their most popular fragrances; Olympéa for the ladies and Invictus for the men.

Ladies first...

The new Paco Rabanne Olympéa Intense Eau de Parfum is everything that was loved about the original fragrance and more.  The same structure remains with an emphasis on even more of its most desirable fragrance notes, especially the creamy salty-vanilla, to create a sensual oriental scent.

With top notes of Brazilian Passionfruit and red raspberry, a floral heart of vibrant passionflower and orange flower and a base of alluring musk and cedarwood, this fragrance smells much more rich and deep than the original.  The salty-vanilla softens the scent and gives it a creaminess that I didn't notice as much with the first Olympéa.

Shop it in store and online from many of the most easily accessible stores including Boots, The Perfume Shop, John Lewis and Debenhams.  There is a 30ml, 50ml and 80ml bottle available which means that most budgets will be covered and you can also choose the size to suit the persons tastes and lifestyle.



For mens gifting this year, I'd recommend the Paco Rabanne Invictus Intense Eau de Toilette which is another personal favourite of my husband and the scent that I'll be gifting to him this Valentine's Day.  Out of the two new releases from Paco Rabanne, I'd say that this one is the most unlike the original.  It does have a similar scent but it is far darker and less sporty fresh.

Invictus Intense has top notes of black pepper, orange flower and laurel leaf blended into ambergris, whisky cream and salty black amber.

The overall feel for this fragrance is sexy and seductive rather than sharp.   It is very masculine with prominent notes of amber and whisky.  I think for some, this will be an evening scent and one that would be ideal for a man in his twenties and thirties.  For my hubby, he likes to wear something like this all throughout the day as smelling great is important to him even when at work.

Just like Olympéa Intense, Invictus Intense is readily available on the highstreet and online.



For younger women in their late teens and twenties, the Ghost range of fragrances are a great option as they smell beautiful but don't break the bank.

My top pick has to be Ghost Deep Night which is a perfume that I have worn since I was in my teens.  It is a fruity floral fragrance that is perfect to wear all throughout the day and night.  With top notes of cereus and rose, a heart of peach, apricot and white wood and a warming base of amber, vanilla and musk, it smells more expensive than its price tag and it doesn't smell generic or sickly sweet.


Deep Night really stands out as a beautiful fragrance and my favourite of all perfumes that would be thought of as being more affordable.



Beauty



When it comes to Valentine's Day gifting, I tend to find that makeup and skincare are often overlooked in the cosmetics department in favour of fragrance which seems to be an easier choice to make for a present.

However choosing makeup and skincare needn't be difficult.  If you'd like to treat your loved one to some makeup, I'd recommend heading along to a counter in a department store and show the sales assistant a photo of the person you're buying for that best represents them.  They'll be able to take a look at their skintone, hair, eye colour and the makeup that they currently wear and suggest a range of products that should suit them.

I'd suggest sticking with lipstick and blush as a safe bet or a product that is universally suited such as the Paul and Joe Primer.

The Paul and Joe Beaute Spring 2017 Collection which you can read about in this post, was designed with romance in mind and there are plenty of makeup items to suit all, in beautifully whimsical packaging.  My favourites are the Russian Blue cat shaped lipstick which adapts to the individual wearer and the Pearl Foundation Primer which will not only delight because of how beautiful it is but because it is highly covetable and collectable too!

Another option for lipsticks would be the Lancôme L'Absolu Rouge lipsticks which have been reinvented and released in new luxe packaging that features the signature Lancôme rose on the top.  The packaging reminds me of some Chanel and Kiko lipsticks which open in a similar way; for the Lancôme ones, simply click the rose and the lipstick slides out.

There are 36 shades in matte, cream and sheer formulas.  I bought a few of the original L'Absolu Rouge range years ago and loved them but these are even better because of the luxury packaging and the range of finishes to choose from.  I have the shades 393 Rôse Rose which is a matte, 202 Nuit & Jour which is sheer and 132 Caprice which is a stunning red in a cream finish; the perfect lipstick to wear on a Valentine's date night.



The lips are the key focus of a lot of women right now when they're doing their makeup and if your lady is one of them then I think that the Skyn Iceland Plumping Lip Gels would make a thoughtful gift, perhaps along with a lipstick or gloss.  These are available as a pack of 5 treatments so they're a gift that she'll be able to enjoy far beyond Valentine's Day.

Each sachet is a high powered, one use treatment that works to plump, hydrate and reduce lines around the mouth with the aim of giving them a more youthful  and more defined appearance.  I'll be reviewing them in full on my blog soon but after the first use, I loved how smooth and hydrated my lips felt... perfectly kissable!



For those who like to take care of their skin, I'd highly recommend checking out Foreo, the skincare and anti-ageing device.  They have created a fantastic range of cleansing devices suitable for all skin types from normal and sensitive through to mens skin.

For ladies, the Foreo Luna 2 is absolutely ideal.  Opt for the pink device which is for normal skin, unless you're aware of her skin being particularly acne prone or sensitive.  This is Foreo's best selling cleansing device and after trying my own out since before Christmas, I can definitely see why.

During clinical trials, its T Sonic cleanse has been found to be able to remove 99.5% of dirt and excess oils as well as makeup residue.  It clears out the skin far deeper than regular cleansing alone, for example by using a micellar water on a cleansing pad, and while it is doing this, it exfoliates the skin to remove dead skin cells and refine the texture of the skin.  This enables the skincare products that are used after cleansing to penetrate the skin on a deeper level and to therefore be more effective.

For the gentleman in your life, Foreo have created the Foreo Luna 2 for Men which is the essential grooming device I bet your man never knew he needed!  I tend to find that many men forget skincare as part of their routine and think that it begins with shaving but really it starts before they've even thought about getting the shaving gel out!

The Luna 2 for Men works in only one minute, which is great for if you're trying to convince your partner to begin a proper skincare routine.  It works to deeply clean the skin while preparing it for shaving.  The silicone bristles on the device leave the skin exfoliated and conditioned which enables a man to achieve a closer, smoother and more comfortable shave with reduced razor burn.  Not only is this great for their skin itself but it will also save them money as it can double the life of razor blades.

However the options for beauty gifting this Valentine's Day don't stop there as I have two gorgeous pieces from my own collection that would make ideal gifts.


Charlotte Tilbury Gift Magical Mini Makeup Brush Set Image

For the ultimate in luxury beauty gifting, it has to be Charlotte Tilbury who are one of my all time favourite beauty brands.  From the packaging to the product inside, their pieces ooze vintage glamour so if you're looking for a luxe gift that is guaranteed to impress, then look no further.


Charlotte Tilbury Gift Magical Mini Makeup Brush Set Image

The great thing about Charlotte Tilbury is that they make gifting an absolute doddle, with a well organised website and counter that makes choosing what to buy someone straight forward and stress free.

There is a dedicated gifting section with plenty of categories to help narrow down your choice but let me narrow that down further with two of my favourite top picks.


Charlotte Tilbury Gift Magical Mini Makeup Brush Set Image


Charlotte Tilbury Gift Magical Mini Makeup Brush Set Image

For the girl who loves to travel or who is always on the go, my top pick would be the Magical Mini Makeup Brush Set.  Housed inside an Artdeco inspired rose gold and crimson faux leather case are 4 essential makeup brushes which are small in size but big on performance.  Theres a Powder, Blender, Smudger and Precision Brush which are great for applying makeup to the face, eyes and lips.

I took this to the Maldives with me and only needed to take one extra brush which was my flat top kabuki foundation brush, so for a woman who travels for work or leisure, this set would make a useful and beautiful Valentine's Day gift.  Plus it will enable her to carry her brushes out and about with her without fear of them damaging the inside of her bag.



For the woman who loves to take care of her skin, the award-winning Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream is my ultimate recommendation.  While it is available in a 50ml size pot, my advice would be to wow your partner with the LIMITED EDITION giant 150ml version; if you can't splash out on Valentine's Day, when can you?


Everything about this cream screams luxury from the beautiful outer packaging to the ultra luxurious rose gold pot that will look stunning on any dressing table.

The incredibly hydrating and anti-ageing Magic Cream is suitable for all skin types.  The fabulous formula will work wonders on skin of all ages too as it is designed to enable you to cheat the appearance of a good nights rest.

Whether the person you're buying for is at university spending their days partying and feeling hungover, burning the candle at both ends running a business or being kept awake through the night with a baby, 8 hours sleep is something that I'm sure they'd love to be able to cheat!


I have been trying this cream out over the last month and I'm so impressed with it.  I'll have a full review up on the blog very soon but until then, if you have someone special to buy for or even for it you would really like to treat yourself, then go ahead.  You'll not regret it!


Accessories & Jewellery




Now if you really want to give the gift of luxe this Valentine's Day, you cannot go wrong with Chanel.  Pieces from this luxury designer are certainly an investment, regardless of what you purchase but do keep in mind that you're buying a high quality gift that will last for years to come and be treasured forever.

For Valentine's this year, Mr WLL has treated me to a Chanel card holder.  I've loved this style for a long time now and thought that I'd share it with you in this post as it would make a fabulous gift.  Small leather goods are ideal as gifts as they're not as costly as larger pieces, which can be a very costly mistake if you don't pick a style the other person likes, and they're something that can be used every single day too.

Particularly if the person you're buying for doesn't have too many high end SLGs, then I'd suggest opting for a style that they can use everyday and really enjoy without worrying about damaging it; luxury pieces are bought to be used and enjoyed after all, especially smaller pieces.  If you're buying for someone who is into their luxury pieces and already has staples in their collection then of course, I'd suggest indulging in a seasonal piece, a playful colour or a more precious leather but for those just starting their collection, I think that classic is the best way to go.

I'd recommend that you choose caviar leather as it is the most durable and pick black as it'll not absorb the colour from dark materials in bags and clothing.  Select the hardware that best matches the metal of the bags that they tend to wear the most or that they prefer the most if buying for a man who rarely carries a bag.



Just like accessories, jewellery is often a popular choice for Valentines and anniversaries too.  The selection available for women is so vast that I'm sure you'll have no trouble finding a piece for the girl in your life.

Instead, I wanted to shine the light on mens jewellery for once as I often feel as though it is overlooked.  The focus tends to be on a watches but actually there is a fantastic range of jewellery available for men if you look in the right places.

My suggestion for this Valentine's Day would be the Links of London Venture Black Leather Double Wrap Bracelet which I actually bought for Mr WLL for his birthday.  He didn't think that he was into jewellery last year, then tried a cheaper alternative to this bracelet from River Island, loved the look and wanted something that was higher quality and longer lasting.  We searched the Metrocentre high and low but none of the items we found compared to this one as the quality, style and fit was far superior to anything else that we had found in a similar style.

This bracelet is very minimalist so it can be worn with a multitude of different looks during the day or at night.  It is made from a buttery soft Italian leather, interwoven to create a gorgeous bracelet that wraps around the wrist and fastens securely with a sterling silver, smart push button closure that is subtly adorned with the Links of London logo.  This is the double wrap bracelet which enables your man to rock the layering trend with one single piece but it is also available as a single wrap bracelet too.


For The Home



The last, but by certainly no means the least of my gift recommendations has to be for the home.  I don't know a single woman who doesn't love candles or beautiful home accessories and the Vera Wang for Wedgewood Love Knots Tea Light Holders in gold (also in silver here) tick both of those boxes.

These elegant tea light holders come as a set of two, making them ideal for a small table setting or having them out on display.  They come with a couple of tea lights inside the box so can be used straight away to set the mood and help to create that beautiful candlelit look that is perfect for a romantic night in.

You'll be able to see how gorgeous they look when lit in my Instagram video and how they look equally as beautiful when not in use in these photographs.  That's the sign of superb quality and style which is exactly what you get from the collaboration of two powerhouses; Wedgwood and high end bridal wear designer, Vera Wang.

The design is classic and timeless with their simple stemmed shape, silver plating, glass surround and delicate love knot adorning each holder.  The love knot design is available on many more items as part of a wider range from Vera Wang and Wedgwood.  Perhaps the person that you're buying for already has something from the line or maybe you used something from the range at your wedding and would like to purchase another piece to not only say 'I Love You' now but to remind the person that you're buying for of that special day.

Either way, the Love Knots collaboration is sure to have something beautiful to gift this Valentine's Day so do check out the Amara website to see the full range.



Of course these gifts are not just for Valentine's Day, they'd make great presents for a birthday or anniversary too whether you're buying for a man or a woman.

I hope that this gift guide has given you a little bit of inspiration for when you're next shopping for someone special and if its this Valentine's Day, then I hope the day is special for you and filled with lots of love.


Love & Be Loved 



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Which gift would you love to give or receive this year?
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