Spring Empties 2017

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Empties blogs are something I always love doing because I find it so satisfying to bin the rubbish I've been hoarding!

This empties haul is a bit smaller than usual because I've been trying hard in 2017 not to buy things I don't need.

I got a Monzo card to keep an eye on my spending, set up standing orders to various savings accounts and tried harder to save.

Its actually going really well but it means less items to review!

Here are the items I've used up.

Merlin approves...

Oral B White
Colgate Max White
I'm going to review these two together; I usually just buy whatever whitening toothpaste is on offer. I don't really notice a difference between each one so I can't recommend either of these really!
I have repurchased the colgate one though, just based on taste!

Body Shop Oils of Life
This is a sample size but I really liked it. I usually use BioOil on my face at night, but I did enjoy this while it lasted.

Yes to Grapefruit Pore Perfection Night Treatment 
I really loved this, especially as it is such a hygenic dispenser, but I haven't repurchased it because I'm trying to use up other products. It lasted for ages though and I recommend.

Clean & Clear Deep Action Cream Wash
If you've read my empties before you know I love this. I've tried other things but this just works the best. It reminds me a lot of the Liz Earle Cleanser but is WAY cheaper
I've repurchased obviously

Body Shop - Vitamin C
I love this facecream and have bought it a few times, but I am currently trying out the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream. I bought it as a treat in early February and haven't even gone through half of it yet (which is good as its SO expensive). But I haven't noticed that much difference and I think I might go back to this Vitamin C one or try the L'oreal Extraordinary Oil Cream as I love their oil cleanser.
I've gone off track...I would recommend this Vitamin C facecream :)

Je t'adore Aromatics Shampoo
I got this in my beauty advent calendar and...I'll be honest...I used it to wash makeup brushes. I just don't like mini shampoos!

Bath and Body Works Beautiful Day Hand sanitiser
You can't beat Bath and Body works hand sanitisers. At the moment I am using the Mad About You one which is my favourite scent, but this one was lovely too.

Batiste Blush Dry Shampoo
I've repurchased this because its my favourite dry shampoo. It smells clean and is really cheap!

Rimmel Scrub
My friend www.iamaneesha.com recommended this scrub and its so gritty and amazing! It says pre tan exfoliater but I just use it regularly and I love it. I'm trying to use up some others, but I would repurchase this. 

John Frieda Conditioner
I bought this stuff because its meant to be like the conditioner you get when you dye your hair with box dye. It was good...but I wouldn't repurchase it again as I prefer a shampoo and conditioner that match.

Origins Clear Improvements Mask
I liked this mask, because it gets really tight on your face and doesn't crumble off like some. But I wouldn't repurchase it because the Bobbi Brown one is SO much better as you can see all the oil its pulling out of your pores!

Camomile Body Shop Balm
I love this stuff so much, but as I mentioned above, I've been using the L'Oreal Extraordinary oil and I think I prefer it

Nivea Pearl & Beauty Deo
I like the smell of this, but I usually use roll on because its better for you, so I haven't repurchased.

Sephora x2 masks
I love these Sephora sheet masks. Mummy Haworth got me these because she read my blog and knew I liked them - how sweet is that.

Kiko Makeup Setting Spray
Eugh I hated this, I didn't even use it up. Its an aerosol setting spray and it smells like alcohol. Not good!

And that's it! No makeup this time!

Planning the perfect Hen Do

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

This year I've been lucky enough to be involved in two Hen Dos.

I was bridesmaid to my friend in March and helped plan her Hen Do in February and I'm due to be Maid of Honour to my best friend Katie in June, so I planned her Hen Do for the end of April.

Hen Do planning can take up a serious amount of time and can be quite stressful so I thought I'd blog some of my best ideas and tips!

1. Organise in advance. 
I started to plan Katie's about 9 months in advance. You need to make sure everyone can put the date in their diaries and also save up, because Hen Dos can be spenny!

If you're finding accommodation for say 20 people you need to find it in advance because its harder than you think! I tried AirBnB but actually ended up renting a house through Trip Adviser which I didn't even know you could do.

Also if you're booking an activity for a big group of people you need to do it in advance. We chose a Lazer Quest verison of paintballing for one Hen Do and an inflatable Water Park for the other!

2. Speak to your Bride. 
This sounds obvious, but get an idea of what she wants. Even if she wants a full on surprise and to know no details you need to know things like, does she want to go abroad, will her friends be able to afford it, does she want a weekend in the country or a week in Vegas. You don't have to give the game away by asking these questions, but it is important to know what you're dealing with. You don't want to contact everyone and suggest a week in Vegas costing over a £2,000, when they can only afford £200.

3. Use social media.
I would recommend making a facebook group or event invite. That way you can put all the information in one place and people won't have to search back through their emails.

4. Set a budget early on. 
This kind of relates to number 2. But I would set out from the get go what you think the price will be and give people deadlines for payments. A £50 deposit for example to confirm they're coming and then £50 a month for the next four months (assuming your Hen Do costs £250 in total).

5. Make a spreadsheet.
My spreadsheet for Katie's Hen Do has six tabs! It started with one and has grown a lot over the past seven months.
In case you wondered, the tabs are:


The Attendees tab includes columns for every payment due and when and the total each person owes as well as things like, are they driving? So I know how many cars will be on the drive of the house.

The Budget list is self explanatory. It has the total cost of every single thing we're doing from taxis for the night out to the parking costs at the activity. That way you can divide the total cost by the number of attendees. It also shows what I've paid out personally so far etc.

Itinerary, is obvious, its the itinerary of the weekend with every detail including timings and what everyone needs to bring for each activity.

(In case you really want some inspiration, here is my itinerary)

Games, this tab has all the games I want to play including which ones are Mum appropriate (if the Mum's are coming) and which are for the evenings when the Mums aren't there.

Checklist, this has a checklist of all the things I need to do before then Hen Do so that I can tick them off and know what is outstanding.

Menu, on one evening we are going out for dinner so I wanted to have everyone's menu choices in advance so I could inform the restaurant.

6. Work out whether you're covering the cost of the Bride. 
All these points sound very money orientated don't they! Its just really important to work these things out as people can be very sensitive about money and some people have different opinions.

I am of the opinion that the Bride shouldn't pay for anything. UNLESS you're going abroad or its a really expensive Hen Do.

Both the Hen Dos I organised were weekends in the country and to cover the cost of the bride was between £15 per person and £25 per person. It obviously depends on the number of attendees and the cost of the whole Hen Do, but I think the Bride shouldn't pay.

7. Games
Work out what games you want to play at the Hen Do. These were the ones I organised:

Mr and Mrs: Always a favourite at Hen Dos and always really fun. You basically film the soon-to-be-husband answering a number of questions. You then ask the Bride the same questions at the Hen Do and then play the Groom's answers to see if they get the same ones!

I did two lots of Mr and Mrs. A Mum appropriate one and then a non-Mum appropriate one with questions like "What is the strangest place you've had sex together".... and if the Bride doesn't get the same answer as the Groom she has to drink!

Guess the Bride's Age: I tied in with the Mother of the Bride for this one and got about 12 photos of Katie through the years. Then the Hens have to guess Katie's age in those photos. The one with the most correct won a prize.
Because I'm glam I gave Burberry makeup for prizes... oh heyyyy. (Obviously I didn't include that in the cost everyone paid for the weekend!)

Pass the Parcel: Such a hit! For the 7 months running up to the Hen Do I gathered up makeup, face masks, nail varnishes (from Twitter giveaways and just shopping) and made a pass the parcel. Everyone loves a Pass the Parcel!

Wedding Dress out of loo roll: Another standard Hen Do game. Remember to order loo roll with your food shop and then split the Hens into teams. Again I gave prizes for the winning team.

Pinata: Who doesn't LOVE a pinata. I had an arts and crafts day with the other bridesmaids and made brunch and we made a pinata. Get the biggest balloon you can and paper mache it. Then decorate. Leave a hole at the top and fill with sweets. I recommend using sweets that are in wrappers (like Maoam) and don't pick boiled sweets as they smash when you hit them!

Also, post Hen Do, I would recommend making your Pinata much thicker than we made ours...and don't use a hockey stick. The Pinata didn't last long!

Pin the willy on the groom: I made this on paint and printed it A3. Then cut out a willy for each Hen with their names on. The one who pins the willy closest to the correct spot wins a prize.

The Bride to guess her Hens from Baby Photos: Get a baby photo from each Hen and stick them up on a big piece of card. Then the Bride has to guess who is who. If she gets it wrong she drinks!

Fancy Dress: I planned for the Bride to wear fancy dress on the night we had in at the house. So the other bridesmaids and I made a fancy dress outfit for her. Really fun to all get together and make things and the extra effort was really appreciated. We all dressed up in outfits beginning with K and Katie had to guess the theme. Everyone made so much effort and it was so so great.

You also obviously need willy straws, a blow up man (with the groom's face stuck on) and a veil, just because it isn't a hen do without them!

8. Invitation
I tried to go above and beyond and think of extra details, so I made an invite for the Bride. It was two pages with the first page below. And then the second page just had a list of what to bring - no other information as the details were a surprise! I then stuck the pages back to back on card and posted it to the Bride's house.

I also did the same for the Hen's and had the second page contain all the details for the Hen do and the address and itinerary. For that one I just posted the invites on the Facebook Group rather than post it to each Hen's House!

9. Treasure Hunt
I tried to organise a Treasure Hunt for Katie to find each of her bridesmaids before travelling down to the Hen Do...but logistically it wasn't going to work as I needed to go early to set up the house. I think it would be a really nice idea though.

So instead I made a flip book of 7 clues for Katie to guess the postcode and posted this a week before the Hen Do so she had a few days to work them out.

10. Rooms
If you're staying over night somewhere I think its wise to think in advance about who is going to share a room with who. You don't want to arrive and just tell people to choose their rooms as it might be like PE at school where someone gets picked last! Especially if some people don't know everyone.

I made signs for the doors of each room with who was staying in each one.

11. Make a pack
This sounds a bit geeky, but make a pack of all the things you'll need. I printed out a copy of my spreadsheet so that I knew how much every activity was costing (as I was paying on the day for lots of it) and also printed out the answers to all the games. That way it was all in one place.

Also remember pens and paper for everyone if you're playing games that they're needed for i.e. Guess the Bride's age.

12. Food Shopping
If you're staying somewhere then you're probably going to be doing a shop. I would do this in advance and make sure you get the slot you want for the day. In terms of things you need to remember, a couple of things I thought of are:

Kitchen Roll and Dishwasher tablets - (these are usually provided in houses but you always need more with a big group!)

Paper Napkins (if you're having meals in)

Coffee and Tea - (in case the house doesn't provide them)

Snacks - I ordered sweets and crisps as well as Pain Au Chocolat. We were going straight from a walk to a water park so I bought croissants as an in between snack and I think it was appreciated!

Alcohol - I would order however much your budget will allow and then also everyone to bring a bottle. If people just need to bring a £5 bottle of fizz then the won't really mind paying for that as well as what they're paying for the Hen Do....but it added 16 more bottles of fizz to the fridge in my case!

Plastic Glasses - If you're staying in a house I would check in advance how many champagne glasses are provided. There were only going to be 9 in mine and 19 people so I ordered plastic ones and we wrote everyones names on them with a sharpie which meant everyone just had one glass for the weekend that they could wash and reuse.

Last night snacks - For the first Hen Do I did this but the second one I didn't. If you're coming back from clubbing, chips and pizza is always a great idea!

13. Pre-Order
If you're going to a restaurant try and preorder food ... it makes life MUCH easier!

14. Down Time
I recommend factoring in downtime. I had quite a strict schedule which we actually managed to stick to, but make sure you give people time to just sit and chat. No one wants to be active every minute of the day (especially if there are hangovers!) and the Bride will want to chat with everyone.

Also if there are specific times when people need to leave the house by a certain time. Give them warnings. i.e. we need to leave in an hour. We need to leave in 10 minutes.

It takes much longer than you think to manoeuvre big groups of people!

15. Don't stress
Finally and I think one of the most important things is don't stress. You want to have fun too and your Bride will want you to have fun.

I was a bit stressed in the week up to the hen do making sure I had everything sorted, but the day before I just decided that if there were dramas and things went wrong I couldn't do anything about it and I was just going to try and relax and enjoy it.

And I loved it!

Blogging Update: Where have I been?

Thursday, 4 May 2017

I haven’t blogged much in 2017.

I don’t know what it is but I’ve just lost the love for it. It’s coming up to my three year anniversary on the 20th May and what I blog about has changed a lot (plus my photography skills have vastly improved!!)

I've posted 353 blogs in those three years which equates to 9.8 per month... a hell of a lot!

I started my blog as a kind of therapy for the breakup I was going through. I had gone from being someone’s fiancĂ© to someone single overnight and it was a very strange feeling. Being suddenly single in the world of internet dating opened up Tinder and Bumble to me and I started by blogging my dates.

This changed into blogging about makeup and beauty (something I’m passionate about) and also travel (another passion of mine).

I don’t ever want to write a blog just because I think I have to post twice a week and I found myself doing that at the beginning of this year; buying makeup products just to review them and finding taking endless photos and typing all the content a chore. 

I don’t want my blog to be like that, because I think you can tell when someone’s heart isn’t in it.

Another aspect is in November I joined the gym which I didn't expect to love as much as I do. I spend any free evenings there and therefore don't have as much time to blog.

I'd love to do fitness blogs, but I don't want to advise people about their health when I'm not qualified to.  

Also blogging about dating has got me into trouble in the past; you don’t want to date someone and them worry you’re going to write about them!

Plus I can hardly advise about dating…clearly I haven’t had that much luck in the past three years because I’m still single.

But I have learnt so much more about myself. I am confident on my own and don’t need to date anyone to be happy and that is an amazing feeling.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this... I don’t want my blog to end but I just want to blog about things I’m really passionate about.

So there might be less blogs per month, but hopefully they’ll be ones that are interesting and you enjoy reading them :)

Perhaps they'll be more focused on travel with the odd beauty one thrown in and a gym class I love or a fitness event I went to that I really want to tell you about.

Stay tuned because I really want to rediscover my passion for blogging and I hope you all understand that

Indian Food in London! Veeraswamy

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

In April 2016 I had one of the most amazing holidays I've had... exploring India!

You can some of my blogs on my trip here

One of the things I loved most was the food. I just cannot get enough of proper indian food.

Not a chicken korma that you'd get delivered from your local Indian... but proper Indian food!

In the summer my friend Anurag said that he would take me for proper Indian food in London to satisfy my craving, so we went to Veeraswamy

It looks over Regent Street and is right by Gauchos on Swallow Street. I've never even noticed it before but must have walked past it numerous times before.

Veeraswamy opened in 1926 which is the year the Queen was born... so its pretty old. In fact its the oldest Indian restaurant in the UK

If you go on a Sunday you can have two courses for £30 or three courses for £34...We did two courses for £30 and I just asked Anurag to order whatever food he thought was good!

The only disappointing thing is they don't serve Pani Puri - my favourite Indian dish. I suppose that is more of a street food...but I love it!

Angara Chicken Tikka

Khada Bhaji Pav

Look how happy I am with these starters!

Another great thing about Indian food is you can get loads of Vegetarian options. When we went for lunch I wasn't vegetarian, but I have been for 7 months now and know I could still eat amazing food

Travancore Chicken Biryani

Malabari Monkfish Curry

Plus of course some naan and rice...not that we really needed the rice because of the biryani!

The food was absolutely delicious but I didn't come away from the meal with that sluggish feeling you get after a takeaway curry! That's how you know its gooodddd.

Definitely a restaurant for a special occasion as its a bit pricey once you've had wine but it was worth it!

Youtube Made Me Buy It and My Favourite Youtubers

Friday, 31 March 2017

I watch a lot of Beauty Youtube vidoes.

While I get ready in the morning, on the train sometimes and if I'm just chilling on the sofa.

I love them... but watching them definitely has an affect on my bank balance as there are so many products I want to buy!

Below are some of the things Youtube made me buy.... and fortunately I love them all!

EX1 Invisiwear Foundation - Chloe Morello made me buy this. I remember her raving about it after having bought it in London on a trip. I LOVE it and have it in a couple of shades. It isn't sold in Boots or Superdrug but you can get it online or at the Oxford Street Topshop

Make Up Forever HD - Desi Perkins and Nikki Tutorials made me buy this. I've seen lots of people use it and I love it. It has good coverage that is buildable and they have loads of shades. I wore it to a wedding last weekend and it lasted all day and looked natural.

Maybelline Fit Me Concealer - LustreLux made me buy this. I remember her comparing this to the NARS Creamy Concealer which is one of my favourites and preferring this one. In fact I've seen a lot of Youtubers use this. Its a really good concealer that is pretty cheap!

Soap and Glory Kick Ass Powder - Leyla Rose made me buy this. She always uses it and its her favourite setting powder.... and now its one of my favourites too!

Kiko 208 Water Eyeshadow - I think Carli Bybel once compared this to MAC Whisper of Guilt and I've always wanted that. This is always sold out in stores so when I saw it a year ago I nearly bought two! I wish I had!

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Pomade - I have seen so many people use this but one that stands out is Rachel Leary. She is one of my favourite UK Youtubers and I've followed her for ages. I'm glad she's finally getting noticed in the Youtube world and if you go to your Sleek counter at Boots you'll be able to see her face! This pomade has staying power and serious pigmentation.

House of Lashes Glue - It think it was Lustrelux or Desi Perkins who raved about this. It is the strongest lash glue I've EVER used. I got mine online as you can't get it in store in the UK and it was so worth it. Plus it doesn't smelllll!

Kat Von D Lolita - I think Casey Holmes recommended this one and I'm glad she did. I love this colour and Kat Von D has serious staying power.

MAC Blankety - This is another Rachel Leary recommendation and it is the perfect nude. Not too much but gives a nice colour and sheen to my lips.

Maybelline Divine Wine - Stephanie at SMLx0 recommended this a couple of Christmas' ago and I love the colour. Its a perfect deep winter red.

And those are a few of my "Youtube Made Me Buy It" Favourites.

You've also kind of got a list of my favourite Youtubers. I've missed a couple out so here are my favourites and their links. 

My list has grown quite a bit since I did this blog in June 2014!

Nicole Guerriero - one of my FAVOURITES (and she loves cats). She does insane Halloween makeup

Casey Holmes - the sweetest Southern girl with epic makeup skills

Carli Bybel - such a beautiful Vegan from Jersey. I've bought her palette and her clothing from Missguided

Desi Perkins - gorgeous JLo vibes, I have her Quay sunnies and I love her

LustreLux - best friend of Desi (above) who I actually watched first. She makes me laugh and I love her makeup. Her lookbooks (and Desi's) are amazing.

Rachel Leary - she's from Guildford which is an area I know well. I've watched her since the beginning of her channel when she had the dodgiest orange lighting. She's come along way and is amazing at full glam.

Iluvsarahii - This girl is amazing and has always been more of an Instagrammer than a Youtuber but recently moved over to Youtube.

Makeup Shayla - another girl that used to just do Instagram. She works out ALOT and I love watching her workouts as well as her beauty tutorials.

Kayley Melissa - for amazing hairstyles with loads of braids

Chloe Morello - she's an Aussie who salsas... plus she has incredible skin without makeup so I think she's great!

Nikita Dragun - A recent follow. She's a trans woman (I hope that's the right term) who looks GORGEOUS and has the most amazing wigs.

Chrisspy - I mostly watch her for her wig tutorials and amazing halloween looks.

Foxy Locks Girls - for hairstyles using clip in extensions. This is the brand of extensions I use and love and I never would have known how to do a ponytail with extensions without them!

SMLx0 - I've followed Stephanie for the longest I think and I like her because she's a similar colouring to me so her makeup choices look good on me too!

Obviously all of these photos below to the above ladies and I'm not taking credit for them. Hopefully they won't mind as this blog is raving about them!

Recipe: A delicious Vegan Tagine

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

I made an epic tagine for Mummy LWFS the other day so I thought I'd let you have the recipe as I haven't done a recipe blog in a while.

In case you didn't know I went pescatarian at the end of June last year and am trying to be as Vegan as possible :)

I therefore made a Vegan tagine

You will need:

1 carrot (peeled)
1 parsnip (peeled)
1 courgette
1 stick of celery
1 clove of garlic
1 red onion
1/2 head of cauliflower
2tsp of cumin
1.5tsp of ras al hanout
200g passata
1 veg stock pot
a pack of couscous
40g almonds
2tbsp honey (and yes I now realise this isn't vegan - so swap it for agave if you like)
a handful of pomegranate seeds

Preheat your oven to 200C

Start by chopping up a carrot, a parsnip and a courgette. Cut them in half down the middle and then into cm wide pieces.

Then slice up a stick of celery.

Peel a clove of garlic 

And slice a red onion into thin half moons

Then chop up half a cauliflower head into florets

Or if you're fancy chop up two of these dragon looking cauliflower

Sprinkle with 1 tsp of cumin, salt, pepper and oil.

Put the cauliflower in the oven for 25mins

Put a large saucepan over medium heat with a bit of oil. When the oil is hot put in your onion, carrot, parsnip and celery. Season and cook for 5 mins with the lid on.

After 5 minutes add in a tsp of cumin and 1.5tsps of Ras al Hanout

Then crush your garlic clove into the pan too

Add a 200g carton of passata

A vegetable stock pot and 300ml of water

Simmer of 10 mins

While that cooks make your couscous, I just use a packet one that you cover in boiling water and cover with clingfilm. Put it to one side.

After 10 mins add in your courgette to your tagine and simmer for 10 more minutes

Whilst that simmers away you can make some honeyed almonds... which I have just realised makes this vegetarian not vegan! I always forget about honey.

If you're a vegan leave this bit out!

Measure out 40g of almonds

Roughly chop the almonds

And put 2 tbsp of honey in a pan

Once this is hot stir in your chops almonds

Cook for two minutes in the honey and then pour out onto a plate to cool


You will burn your tongue..which is what I did

At this point your tagine should be cooked and you can stir in some spinach until its wilted.

Your cauliflower should now be ready and its time to assemble everything

Put half the couscous in each bowl.

Add some tagine

Top with the cauliflower

Sprinkle over some pomegranate (the best way to get it out of the skin is cut it in half then hold it over the bowl and whack the back with a wooden spoon)

Then add your honeyed almonds

And you've got a delicious vegan (plus honey) tagine

This was super yummy and pretty easy.

Serve with a large glass of red wine 

But I say that for everything!

Made With Love By The Dutch Lady Designs