Posts tagged Holiday

Jobs and Jaunts

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Hi everyone,

I thought it was about time I wrote a little post about why I haven’t been blogging as regularly lately.  As you may or may not know, in January I graduated from university with a Master’s degree, and since then I have spent MONTHS applying for jobs and attending interviews, whilst at the same time also working at my old job.  As I’m sure you can imagine, that took up quite a lot of my time, leaving very little room for planning and writing blog posts.  However, yesterday, after my eleventh interview of the year, I was finally offered a full-time job that I think I’m going to love.  The job will start in September and involves working with and supporting university students, and I’m really looking forward to it.  Now that that area of my life is getting some structure again, I hope that means I will be able to add regular blogging back into my routine, so expect to see more from me in the not too distant future!  I already have quite a few posts planned, featuring lots of fashion and food, so check back soon for those.

I’ve also just got back from a little trip away with my fiancé.  We can’t really afford big foreign holidays at the minute, but we both love nature and walking and suchlike, so we decided to go to Malvern for a while so we could go walking in the hills.  We both had a brilliant time and spent hours and hours hiking, which was incredibly tiring but also relaxing!  Whilst we were there we stayed in a gorgeous little private house called Uplands, which was cheaper than a B&B or hotel, but a thousand times nicer.  We’ll definitely be going back, and I highly recommend it to any couples who like their own space when they’re away!

Here are just a few photos from our trip…

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Naomi x

 

Dissertation = DONE

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You may have noticed that my blog hasn’t been as busy as usual over the last few weeks and months. That’s because I have been locked away in a room since June with a pile of books and my laptop, researching, writing and editing my postgraduate dissertation. I have been studying for a Master’s degree in Modern Literature since October 2011, and tomorrow I will be handing in a 20,000 word dissertation which signals the end of my time at university! Obviously I’m relieved that the dissertation is done and dusted, but I’m also sad that, after nineteen years in education, it has now come to an end. Having said that, I’m really looking forward to graduating and being able to think about the future. I’m hoping to find a graduate job as soon as possible so I can start saving up for a house, and of course I’m going to be dedicating a lot more time and effort to blogging, so you’ll be seeing a lot more of me!

But before all that, I need a little break, so on Tuesday my partner and I will be heading to Dublin for a few days. Seeing as I spent pretty much all summer cooped up inside, I can’t wait to get out and about doing stuff. We have quite a few things we want to do and see whilst we there, and I’ll be taking my camera, so expect to see a LOT of photos upon my return!

Have a great week everyone,

Naomi x

Chocolate Tasting for Millennium Hotels

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Last week I received a very special delivery from Millennium Hotels…  A goody bag stuffed full of Hotel Chocolat treats!  Millennium Hotels are a luxury hotel company who have many hotels and resorts in exciting locations all around the world.  To add something a little extra special to every room, they are currently trying to choose a luxury chocolate to place on their pillows for their guests, and I was asked along with a few other bloggers to help them choose by sampling each chocolate in the goody bag.  How could I say no to that?!  Here is what the bag contains…

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From Left to Right:

Smiley Lick.

Eton Mess Slab.

Salted Caramels.

Chocolate Gemstones.

Billionaire’s Shortbread.

Choosing a favourite out of these five delectable delights is very difficult (I am a chocoholic, after all), as they are all different, and all extremely delicious.  However, a decision has been made!  Read on to see what I thought of each one, and to see which one is my overall winner.

Smiley Lick

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The Smiley Lick consists of a disk of thick milk chocolate on a lollipop stick, which is happily adorned with a smiley face.  This one is fun to look at, fun to nibble and it really shows off the high quality of Hotel Chocolat’s chocolate.  The chocolate is extremely smooth and has a rich, sweet flavour.  I gobbled this up rather quickly in one sitting, and was left wanting more.  Delicious, but I don’t think it’s quite right for a hotel pillow as it’s a bit too bulky looking!

Eton Mess Slab

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The Eton Mess slab is absolutely beautiful to look at, as the pink chocolate swirled with cream and scattered with strawberry and meringue pieces makes it look like a work of art.  The chocolate itself is strawberry flavoured, with vanilla chocolate running throughout.  It isn’t as smooth as the milk chocolate as the real fruit bits give it a bit more texture, as do the little chocolate cookies hidden inside (which I wasn’t expecting when I first bit into it!), but it is divine!

If you have a sweet tooth then this is definitely for you – it smells and tastes just like a strawberry milkshake.  I can only handle a little bit of this at a time, but at least that means I can make the bar last and savour it.  This would be the winner if my sister had a say – it was her favourite out of all five choices.

Salted Caramels

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I have always enjoyed the contrast between sweet chocolate and salty caramel, and these are the best salted caramels I have ever tried – the balance of flavours is perfect!  When you first bite into the chocolate the caramel comes oozing out, and you are hit with a toffee sweetness which has a slight tang of sea salt.  These perhaps wouldn’t be to everybody’s taste, but I think they’re a very sophisticated little treat and I’d definitely have these again.

Chocolate Gemstones

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Hotel Chocolat’s Gemstones are made of white and dark chocolate drops, which have been fused together to create silky and shiny little spheres, which melt slowly on the tongue.  They might be small, but each one gives big flavour, with a creaminess from the white chocolate and a bitter edge from the dark chocolate which stops them being overly sweet.  Out of everything in the goody bag, these are the ones I keep going back to…  They’re very moreish!

Billionaire’s Shortbread

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Last but not least, Billionaire’s Shortbread.  These unusual truffles are made of milk chocolate, and have a caramel praline inside which has a lovely soft texture.  Each one is also sprinkled with little pieces of shortbread cookie, which add a delicious crunch to every bite.  These really do taste just like the dessert of the same name, but their delicate size makes them that little bit more refined.  My other half absolutely loves the Billionaire’s Shortbread chocolates and I think these would win if it was his choice!

Though I like everything in the goody bag, my overall winner has to be the Gemstones!  They might be the simplest chocolate of them all, but I think that would make them suitable for any guest to enjoy, and their beautiful taste and dainty size make them the ideal snack to nibble on throughout the evening, whilst you lounge in your comfortable hotel room.  Bliss!

Millennium Hotels

If you fancy a stay at a 4 Star Millennium Hotel (I know I’d love to stay at the London Mayfair hotel myself), now is a good time to book…  They are currently offering 30% off room rates until the end of March, and with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, this could be a lovely way to impress your loved one!  Click here to find out more, and don’t forget to treat them to some Hotel Chocolat chocolates too.

Naomi x

*The Hotel Chocolat Goody Bag was sent to me by Millennium Hotels for review purposes.  All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*

Holly Jolly Holiday Tag

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Evening everyone!

A couple of days ago I was tagged by Proper Sweetie in her Holly Jolly Holiday post (Thanks lovely!)  The post looked like a nice bit of festive fun, so I thought I would share my answers with you all and then leave it to you to take part if you want to.  So here, are the questions!

1. Do you start your Christmas shopping on Black Friday or wait until the last-minute?

I usually start my Christmas shopping in October, but this year I bought my first present in around August or September, which is early even for me!  I had pretty much all of my shopping done by the beginning of December this year, which I’m quite pleased with.

2. If you could be in any Christmas movie what would it be?

I would like to be in The Polar Express!  I watch it every year (I literally just finished watching), and I always think the roller coaster train track looks SO fun, and I would love to meet Santa and his reindeer.

3. Which do you like better: Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

This is a difficult one because I enjoy both for different reasons, but I’d have to say Christmas Day.  I like the excitement and anticipation of Christmas Eve, and all the preparation for the big day, but on Christmas Day I get to spend relaxing time with my family, exchange gifts, eat lots of food and play games, which is always a winner.

4. When does your family put up your Christmas tree and who decorates it?

We used to put the Christmas tree up during the first weekend of December, but for the past couple of years we’ve done it during the second weekend.  My sister and I decorate the tree together, and always have done, and my mum decorates the rest of the house.

5. White lights or coloured lights?

White all the way!  I think they look a lot classier, although having said that, coloured lights have been growing on me a lot more these last few years.

6. Are you guilty of peeking at your presents or do you like the surprise?

I LOVE surprises and I usually have a lot of willpower and manage not to peek, but if the presents are there I have been known (every now and then) to peek, which I am ashamed of!  People tend to hide them from me though, so it’s all good.

7. Would you rather live in a gingerbread house or in Santa’s Workshop?

I’d rather live in a gingerbread house as it’d smell lovely and I could always eat the walls if I got hungry, but I wouldn’t mind working in Santa’s Workshop!  That would be lots of fun.

8. Tell us your Christmas Eve traditions!

During the day, I usually help my mum or Grandma prepare the food for Christmas Day, depending on whose house we’ll be at.  This is done to Christmas CDs most of the time, and in between cooking I wrap last-minute presents and watch Christmassy things on TV.  In the evening I often go to my dad’s house with my sister and fiancé, and we have lots of food, drink mulled wine and play board games.  The latter will be happening on the 23rd this year though as my dad is working on Christmas Eve, so traditions will be changed a bit.

9. If you could be under the mistletoe with anyone who would it be?

My fiancé of course, and I already have as we have mistletoe at home this year!

10. What tops your tree?

A lovely little angel.  She has a red dress, gold ribbon, a halo, wings and long curly hair.  We’ve had her at the top of the tree for as long as I can remember.  I love her!  My sister and I argue every year about who will be the one to put her on top of the tree…  I usually win haha.

11. Can you name the 12 days of Christmas?

Aah!  Yes I can, I think!  I’ve been practising this by looking at ’12 days of Christmas’ Christmas cards, so as far as I can remember I know them all.  Too many to recite here though, haha.

12. Have you ever gone Christmas caroling?

No, in all honesty I never have.  I need to rectify this.

13. Do you countdown to Christmas? If so, how many days are left?

Yes I do!  I have an advent calendar every year, although this year is special as I have three.  A chocolate one at my fiancé’s house, a chocolate one at my house and my Ciaté Mini Mani Month.  How spoilt am I?!  Oh and there are 3 days left until Christmas, yay.

14. What are some foods and treats you can count on having every holiday season?

Well, in my family we have a VERY strange tradition (which I have been told is a Midlands thing), where we have pork pie, ham, bread and butter, pickles and tea for Christmas BREAKFAST.  Weird, right?  Being vegetarian I usually have Quorn ham instead of the meat though, and Quorn turkey roast for Christmas dinner instead of real turkey.

We always, always have After Eight Mints after dinner too, and a cheese board in the evening, and there are tins of Roses and Quality Street all over the house over the festive season.

15. How has Christmas kept its magic for you as you’ve grown older?

I’ve never really lost the magic, but I watch The Polar Express to give myself a top up!  I still get excited about the big day, and I still get a little bit sad when people say that Santa isn’t real (HE IS REAL, DAMN IT!)  Christmas is just such a lovely time of year.

I hope you enjoyed reading my Christmassy answers!  I’m not going to tag anyone in particular because I’d love all of you to take part, so if you want to copy this tag, feel free!

Are you looking forward to Christmas this year?

Naomi x

What To Take On Your Mini Break

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Summer is slowly coming to an end, but there’s still time to dash off into the sun for a last-minute relaxing mini break.  You’ve got your clothes sorted…  Bikini?  Check.  Sun dresses?  Check.  Something gorgeous for the evening?  Check, and you’re almost good to go, but there’s always the question of what toiletries and cosmetics to take, and what to leave behind.  If you packed all the big bottles and endless tubes of lotions and potions that you usually use then you’d need another suitcase, am I right?  So, in the name of making life easier for us all, I thought I’d take the opportunity to narrow everything down and come up with ten little solutions to this bulky problem, which will leave plenty of room in your case for your beach reads and novelty souvenirs – you can thank me later!

1: Basic Make Up

Vanity cases and make up bags stuffed full of make up are impractical and unnecessary when travelling.  This might sound ridiculous, but all you need to take with you for a fresh-faced summer make up look are five basic items – foundation, eyeliner, mascara, lip gloss and blush.  That’s it!  Don’t believe me?  Check out my Top 5 Summer Make Up Essentials post for proof that that’s all you need.

2: Nail Varnish

If you can’t afford or don’t want an expensive salon manicure before you go away then it’s a good idea to pack a bottle of nail varnish.  You never know when you might be invited out last-minute for a romantic meal or an evening at a bar, so choose a quick drying varnish that you can slick on in seconds before you leave.

I highly recommend Sally Hansen’s Insta-Dri Nail Colour in ‘Ruby Rush’.  It’s a deep, classic shade that will go well with any outfit, it has a wide brush for quick, even coverage and it is dry to the touch in just minutes.  It’s wonderfully chip resistant too, and a new favourite of mine.

3: Make Up Remover

If you’re like me, you probably have a bottle of make up remover for your eyes, one for your face, and a big bag of cotton wool balls and cotton buds that you use them with.  That’s a lot of bottles and bags to take on one little trip!  A great substitute to use for the few days you’re away are make up remover wipes, as they save space, are quick to use and can be thrown away once you’re done with them.

Kleenex recently brought out a range of make up remover wipes which are made of natural fibres and are gentle on the skin, yet very effective.  The ones pictured are specifically for eye make up, but they also make facial cleansing wipes.

4: Sun Lotion

Ever noticed that sun lotion tends to come in huge bottles that you’ll never get through during a two-week holiday, let alone whilst on a mini break?  Well, Hawaiian Tropic have solved that problem with their handy 100ml bottles of sun lotion!  They still contain the gorgeously scented, high quality lotion that the big bottles do – they’re just lighter and more compact, and the perfect size to carry in even the smallest of bags.

I’ve been using the Hawaiian Tropic Protective Sun Lotion SPF30 and I adore it.  The lotion not only protects your skin but softens it too, as it contains vitamins C and E, and is gorgeously light and silky.  It’s also ‘very water resistant’, which is great if you fancy a swim in the sea, but it’s still a good idea to apply it regularly to stay as safe as possible.  At £5.49 these mini bottles are a real steal.

5, 6 and 7: Moisturiser, Shampoo and Shower Gel

Now is a good time to raid your old beauty boxes, gift sets and collections of product samples.  All those little bottles and sachets of moisturiser, shampoo and shower gel that you never thought you’d use are actually the perfect size for taking on mini breaks!  Not only do they save space, but you might also discover a hidden gem amongst them which you can repurchase and carry on using when you get home.

8: Deodorant

Rather than packing chunky spray deodorants, why not take a roll-on deodorant instead?  They’re much kinder on the skin, and compact enough to carry with you.

A particular favourite of mine is Vaseline Aloe Fresh 24h Protection Deodorant, as it is long-lasting, the aloe makes it extremely moisturising and refreshing, and it doesn’t leave white marks on your dark clothes!

9: Disposable Razor

You never know when you might need to neaten up whilst on holiday, but taking a bulky epilator or home waxing kit with you is far too much trouble!  The solution?  Take a disposable razor!  Just because it’s disposable doesn’t mean it won’t do a good job, especially if you use Wilkinson Sword Extreme 3 Beauty Razors.  

I’ve been using these myself and they give an amazingly smooth result at a fraction of the usual hair removal cost (you get four for £3.99).  The three blade razor head is flexible so moves with the curves of your body for a close shave, and it even features a moisturising strip of aloe and jojoba to leave your skin feeling soft – not what you’d expect from a disposable razor at all!  They look and feel more like luxury razors, but once you’re done with them you can just throw them away so they’re far more convenient for travelling with.

10: Perfume

A great way to make the transition from a lazy day on the beach to a lively evening at a bar is with a beautiful fragrance, but who wants to be carrying a big glass bottle of perfume around with them?  That’s where Avon’s mini fragrances come in.  Avon now sell miniature versions of their best selling perfumes which are great for top ups throughout the day or, in this case, to take with you on a short trip.  You will find the full range on page 206 of Brochure 16, including 15ml Purse Sprays and 30ml Travel Sprays (how apt!), ranging from £5 to £7.50 each.

Wherever you’re going this summer, I hope these tips will help you know what to pack, and I hope you will Be Spontaneous whilst on your travels!  Why not do something you’ve never done before, and then share it with the Be Spontaneous crew on Facebook?  You could even win some amazing prizes in the process!

Thanks for reading,

Naomi x

*The Hawaiian Tropic Protective Sun Lotion SPF30 and Wilkinson Sword Xtreme3 Beauty Razors featured in the post were given to me by Wilkinson Sword for review purposes.  Everything else was purchased using my own money.  All opinions are honest and my own.  Some affiliate links have been used*

I’m Back, but am I Burnt? Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration

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Hello everyone!

After four days of camping near the beautiful moors of Dartmoor I am finally back in the shire.  I had a great time on my little trip with my dad and sister – I’ve been camping every year since I was born and I really love being close to nature and away from all the stresses of the city.  We spent a good portion of the holiday hiking on the moors.  We found a couple of stone circles and saw lots of wild horses, and of course some stunning views…

We also spent a day in the beautiful little Cornish town of Boscastle, browsing the shops and sitting on the cliffs overlooking the sea (which was very, very blue).  And, as you do, we ate a lot of decadent meals – not good for the diet but great for the soul :)

Whilst I was camping it was really hot and sunny – quite unexpected after two months of rain!  I’ll admit, I hadn’t really thought about buying sun lotion this year because of all the rubbish weather, but I recently received a free sample bottle of Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration lotion in the post.  So, before I set off, I chucked it in my suitcase to use if it was sunny… and as I said, it was.

On first impressions I love the look of this lotion.  The flower design on the bottle is pretty and the lotion itself looks different to the boring white stuff you usually see on shelves.  If you look closely, you can see that the lotion in the bottle is white, swirled with orange.  These orange swirls are the ‘hydrating ribbons’ that the packaging boasts, which are supposed to provide twelve-hour moisturisation.  When you squeeze the bottle the lotion comes out easily and the colours mix into a paler orange shade, as you can see below.

So… does this lotion protect AND moisturise?  In a word, yes!  The lotion is a wonderful consistency – not too runny and not too thick, so it rubs in with ease.  I noticed that it was absorbed very quickly so it didn’t leave any streaky white marks and didn’t rub off on my clothing.  The lotion has an SPF of 15, so I applied this several times a day to ensure that I was protected at all times.  I usually use SPF 25 or 30, so this did need more regular application, but it’s so lovely to apply it didn’t matter too much.  As you would expect, I didn’t burn whilst using this, not one little bit.  I did get a slight tan on my arms and chest though, but I’m not complaining.  But now for the real test, the hydration factor!  I didn’t use any other moisturiser whilst I was camping, which for me is unusual as I suffer from fairly dry skin.  However, the Silk Hydration did just the job :)  My skin felt so soft all day and night, even after a shower, and I didn’t suffer with any dryness.  I really wish you could buy the moisturising aspect of this on its own to use all year round because it really is impressive.

The absolute best thing about this lotion though is its scent.  It smells so light and fresh…  Slightly fruity but also floral, with a strong creamy overtone of sweet coconut.  The scent lingered on my skin all day, and I couldn’t stop sniffing my arm!  Haha.

I would highly recommend this lotion to anybody, especially if you suffer from dry skin and want something hydrating as well as protecting.  I’ve seen it around in lots of shops, including ASDA and Boots so it’s very easy to find, and it has an RRP of £14.99 for 180ml, meaning this 59ml sample bottle is worth about £4.99.  It may be slightly more pricey than other high street sun lotions, but I think the quality of the product reflects the price.  I for one would definitely invest in a bigger bottle.

Have you tried Hawaiian Tropic’s Silk Hydration sun lotion?

Naomi x

*I won this product in a 10,000 bottle giveaway and this is an honest review.  I am in no way affiliated with Hawaiian Tropic or any other companies mentioned*

Inside My Camping Make Up Bag

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Tomorrow morning I am heading off on a camping trip until Sunday.  This obviously means that I probably won’t be posting anything on Bewitchery for a few days, but worry not!  I have plenty of things to share with you once I get back.  In the meantime, I thought I would show you all what I will be taking with me in my make up bag.  I usually carry quite a big make up bag, but when I’m camping I only ever wear basic make up so I have downsized somewhat for this trip, as you can see below.  Foundation, a bit of blusher, eyeliner and mascara and a slick of gloss are all you need to take the rough out of roughing it!

The only tools I will be taking with me are a small make up brush (for face powder and blusher) and a pocket mirror.  And the make up?

Face MUA Matte Foundation in ‘Soft Sand’, MUA Pressed Powder in ‘Shade 1′, MUA Blusher in ‘Shade 2′ and Avon Colortrend Perfect and Hide Concealer in ‘Light’.

Eyes Avon Glimmerstick Eye Liner in ‘Blackest Black’ and Avon SuperCurlacious Mascara in ‘Black’.

Lips Avon Glazewear Lip Gloss in ‘Violetta Sparkle’ and Balance Me Rose Otto Intensive Lip Salve.

Have a great weekend everyone – see you when I get back!

Naomi xx

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