Exploring my Tea Collection

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Like most Brits I love tea but it wasn’t until recently that I discovered just how many types of tea I currently own. I like trying new flavours – anything from black tea to white tea, green tea, fruit tea, decaf, infusions and herbal blends.

tea collection

my enormous tea collection!


I enjoy making tea with real tea leaves and regularly take my time having a tea break (and quite often cake too!) and love the custom of it all but I equally love having a quick brew first thing in the morning to start my day. I’ll quickly mention here that I do also drink coffee (my tassimo machine is a firm friend!) but tea is my go-to beverage on most occasions so that’s why I’m sharing some of my favourites with you.

At the moment I have around 30 different kinds of tea. This may seem extreme but I love to have a choice and often when friends and family go abroad they bring me some tea back to try as they know I love it so much! I have mostly a collection of teabag teas widely available in the UK including some instant tea from Whittards and also several loose leaf teas from Hong Kong.

Twinings, Whittards, Clipper and Bellevue

Twinings, Whittards, Clipper and Bellevue to name a few


My favourite flavour of tea is green tea with lemon – I know some find it an acquired taste but I think it’s so delicious! I also love a good Earl Grey but I have to be in the right mood to drink one. The best Earl Grey tea I’ve tried so far is from Bellevue and has a really strong bergamot aroma and deep flavour.

a few teapigs teas

a few teapigs teas


I’ve tried some more unique tea flavours recently – namely from Teapigs – as they have different ranges or types of teas recommended for different moods. Some I’ve tried and liked include Chocolate Tea (best of both worlds there!), Tung Ting Oolong (not pictured but described as being somewhere between black and green tea which I think is amazing if like me you love green teas but crave the traditional black tea flavour), Rooibos Crème Caramel – which is delicious if you have a sweet tooth and Yerba Mate which is super similar to Whittards Gunpowder Tea – both smoky and full of antioxidants to give you a boost of energy.

whittard tea selection

whittard tea selection


The flavours I’ve hated from Teapigs are popcorn which I just found a bit weird and liquorice and mint tea which I found sickly sweet and not nice in the slightest. You might like it if you’ve got a very sweet tooth perhaps.

I also have this selection box of teas from Whittards and I think it’s such a great way to try new teas so you don’t need to buy a whole box of tea and then if you don’t like it, it goes to waste. My favourite flavour from this selection is actually the gunpowder tea which I drink without milk and which has a sweet and smoky flavour.

Let me know if there are any particular teas you would like reviewing in depth. Do you have a favourite flavour of tea? Perhaps you don’t drink it at all?

May Favourites 2013 And Beauty Giveaway!

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It’s June again – it means it’s half way through the year, the summer is almost here and it’s my birthday month so there’s lots to be happy about :)

Throughout May I have been using a lot of new beauty products as the weather is crazy weird – one minute scorching hot meaning my make-up has been sliding off my face and the next minute so cloudy, cold and wintry I’ve been back wearing fluffy jumpers and curled up with a blanket and a hot cup of tea. I mention the weather as it seems to really affect my skin, let alone my mood, so on warm summery days I’ve been playing with more colourful eyeshadows and make-up items and on cooler days really making an effort with skincare and haircare instead.

This month I’ve been loving:
Michael van clarke 3 more inches pre-wash treatment
Michael Van Clarke 3 More Inches Pre-Wash Treatment

This has been a fabulous treatment to use when I’ve been out in the sun and has left my hair feeling much more manageable and in better condition after only a few uses. I can’t comment on whether I think it’s making my hair grow faster (which it claims to do) as I haven’t been using it long enough yet. I’m not keen on the fact it doesn’t really have a scent but my hair was left much smoother and softer after use.

Carmex Lip Balm

I’m normally a big advocate of vaseline but find my lips still dry out as I use it frequently and think my lips are used to the formulation so this little tube of mentholated balm is a treat. It’s very moisturising and I can feel it actually working (maybe that’s just me but I swear I can as it’s sinking in!) and it’s good for dry parched lips in the winter and dry, sun exposed lips in the summer.

mac face and body foundation
I’m absolutely loving this at the moment as this gives a light creamy coverage and isn’t too heavy so when the weather is warmer it doesn’t slide or melt off too much! It’s buildable if you have any areas that need more coverage but I’m finding this to be just perfect for my skin at the moment and it gives me a really healthy natural complexion.

H and M Lipstick Dare to Bare
h&m lipstick
I’d love to hear if you’ve tried any H&M make-up, particularly the lipsticks. Dare to Bare is a neutral nude colour with a hint of golden shimmer. It’s a light, creamy formulation and swatches completely differently from the colour in the stick! It’s a really pretty colour and I think it’s such a good colour to wear in the summer. If you like the look of this lippy scroll down to see how you can win one of your own :)

It swatches like this:
H and M Dare to Bare Swatchhm lip swatch dare to bare


Re-Gen Cream
Re-Gen Cream

I have started using re-gen cream as I’d heard it is good for reducing scarring and for brightening the skin. I’ve been using this in conjunction with Alpha-H Liquid Gold and it has made a big difference to the look of my skin and I really notice a difference in the morning if I’ve applied this before bed. It’s quite a cheap product too so a good complexion booster for sallow or dull skin.

Tangle Teezer Pink
Tangle Teezer

Now I’ve got a tangle teezer I’ll never go back to brushing my hair with a regular hairbrush! It’s really gentle on my hair and I also use it on wet hair and it’s completely pain free to use. I have been using a lot of new and nourishing haircare products recently but I feel using this has really helped improve the texture and condition of my hair for the better.

I’ve also been loving this month –
Music: Flaws by Bastille, Liquid Lunch by Caro Emerald, La La La by Naughty Boy
TV and Film: The Aviator, Fresh Meat, Waking the Dead
Food and Drink: Rocky road, Cocoa Orange Nak’d Bars, Bellevue Teas

h&m lipstick comptition

How to win a lipstick!
If you fancy getting your hands on the gorgeous Dare to Bare lipstick send an email to
e.randell@gmail.com with the SubjectDare to Bare” along with your name, address and email address which we will use to notify you if you win.

Competition is open to UK residents only.
Competition closes on Sunday 23rd June at 10pm (my birthday!!!).
One entry per household only.

The Body Reset Diet – Phase I: Review And Results

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51pi1rilqvl-_sx334_bo1204203200_If you know me, you’ll know I like ‘reviewing’ diets. Mostly because of my endless struggle with those few last pounds but also for my genuine interest in nutrition and how the food we take in affects our everyday lives – often more than we know. Recently I have been keeping up with the Kardashians or one Kardashian in particular – Kim. And no I’m not here to condone her *reasons* for being, ahem, “famous” or to discuss her recent pregnancy fashion faux pas (although seriously – what was she thinking with that highwaisted peplum skinnies and poloneck combo?!!) BUT oddly I feel I have more in common with Kim K than most other celebs as we share the same body type – curvy to the point if you put on so much as 3lbs you start to look chunky. So I started to keep tabs on her exercise habits and turn a new leaf by getting a bit more active.

Simultaneously I was looking for a new way to kickstart a bit of weightloss. Exercising was all well and good but I wasn’t even shifting a pound and was sticking 100% to a well known slimming group program. It was disheartening and I wasn’t seeing any difference no matter what I did. Then I got a lovely email asking if I’d heard of The Body Reset Diet by Harley Pasternak.

(I hadn’t) and if I’d like to give it a try (why not!). So I got my hands on the book and then discovered Kim K follows this diet along with other celebs like Megan Fox and Hilary Duff. Not another Hollywood diet I thought and my heart sank. But as I read the book I realised it’s not just another ‘diet’ – it’s actually good sound nutritional advice and it promised the things I was looking for – weightloss that shows, weightloss that won’t leave you feeling hungry and that you’re going without plus a minimal exercise program.

IMG_2556Berrypina colada
smoothies l-r: cucumber lime, berry, pina colada

The diet is divided into three phases and in phase one you have three smoothies a day and two snacks plus it’s recommended you walk 10,000 steps a day. Each smoothie (recipes given in the book) is made up of all the nutritional requirements your body needs like fresh fruit, milk and salad greens. The emphasis of phase one is on speed (each smoothie or snack takes less than 5 minutes to prepare), nutrition (fresh or frozen ingredients are pulped to allow for easy digestion of vital nutrients) and cost (easy to find ingredients are included in all recipes and costs significantly less than meal replacement products and no more expensive than everyday meals).

smoothies l-r: chocolate, sweet spinach, pb&j

If you don’t like smoothies then this diet is not for you – as with any diet or eating plan there are pros and cons but this is a pretty big necessity if you intend on following the plan! I anjoy smoothies, I tend to have them fairly regularly anyway so this wasn’t such a huge leap for me. Harley promises you won’t feel hungry on the diet because there is protein to keep you feeling fuller for longer in every one of your 5 ‘meals’. I was hungry on days two and three late in the evenings but after that my hunger subsided and I got used to having less but I didn’t feel like I was going without. And I liked the smoothies – as you can see here they all look vibrant and appetising – and they all tasted very nice. Each day in phase one was one white, one red and one green smoothie to make sure you get all your nutritional needs and I found them quick and easy to prepare plus I found them appealing and wantedto drink them.

raspberry lemon dropmaxwell mochaapple pie
smoothies l-r: raspberry lemon drop, maxwell mocha, apple pie

Nice tasting smoothies
Easy to find ingredients
Quick and convenient (you can make smoothies before work or going out and keep in a flask)
Suitable for people who are new to exercise or those who haven’t exercised in some time
Improved skin complexion and brighter eyes
More even energy levels
Walking is easy
Support is given for both diet and exercising effectively
I lost weight!

Not suitable if you’re a fussy eater
Preferably you need a blender so an extra cost (I already had one so didn’t make any difference to me)
You still need willpower and motivation – it wasn’t easy making dinner for everyone else and having something different from them each evening

During the first phase (5 days) I stuck to the plan 100% and found it easy to stay motivated and not be tempted by foods not incorporated in the plan. During this time I lost 7lbs which is a fabulous start to the diet and exactly the motivation I needed to keep up with the rest of the plan. Reviews and results for phases 2 and 3 of The Body Reset Diet will be up soon!

The Body Reset Diet is available now and is published by Simon & Schuster UK, priced £12.99.

Current Beauty Favourites

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In 2012 I had a spending ban on all beauty products and to instead use up my huge stash of make-up and skincare items and I did really well – I only bought things like deodorant and cotton buds etc that I needed but no new products (apart from 3 items from Rodial back in the sales – it had to be done) were bought! This year is a little different and I am buying a few new products each season but I’m not going overboard on new purchases like I used to. Progress has been made!

Obviously I am still using up my beauty products and now I have a few new items that I love too so here are a few beauty products that I am currently loving.

garnier bb cream

If you don’t know what a BB Cream is – it’s an all in one moisturiser with added vitamins and minerals, an spf, a hint of colour (somewhere between a tinted moisturiser and a foundation) and generally they smooth out and ‘blur’ skin imperfections. Garnier BB Cream is my life saver! I had tried a few BB cream samples and wasn’t too impressed – they made my skin patchy and really shiny but I went online and ordered the free samples from the garnier website and the first time I used it I was gutted I hadn’t found this product before! It is the perfect colour for me and smooths into my skin nicely, giving a light coverage. It gives a sheer and subtly glowing effect (not hideously sweaty looking!) and I love it for days when I want lighter coverage and weekends. I have had compliments on my skin EVERY time I’ve worn this so far and it smells really nice to boot. Needless to say when the sample ran out I bought the full size version. I have a guilty feeling for not using more Garnier products as a result.

boots extracts mango sugar scrub

This sugar scrub was part of a Christmas present and when I saw it was a set of mango products I was apprehensive of using them as I don’t like fake fruit smells in bath and body products but I was so surprised when I used this scrub – it smells sweet and sugary and naturally fruity plus it leaves my skin feeling very soft and moisturised from the ingredients of shea butter and mango. As it’s a sugar scrub the grains are fine and it really feels like my skins being scrubbed clean without any harsh abrasiveness. Big thumbs up for this scrub. I want to eat it. But I won’t.

alpha h liquid gold

This little beauty is Alpha-H Liquid Gold with Glycolic Acid and is for ageing or older skins but there is a huge group of younger women using this after discovering the wonderful effects it has on brightening dull or tired looking skin (which can happen to all skin types at any time of life) and reducing scarring – which was my predominant use for it to begin. My skin isn’t too bad but we all have problem areas and I wanted a product containing glycolic acid as I knew this was the best way to refresh and renew skin cells and reduce scarring and blemishes. But using this has done more than that for me – each time I use this on a night time, I wake up the next morning with glowing skin and I really notice the difference on days when I use this.

moroccan argan oil

Super amazing things happen when I use this Organix renewing moroccan argan oil intense moisturizing treatment hair mask. My hair gets all soft, sleek and shiny, it looks healthy and it smells incredible. I have been using this Organix product around twice a week and I see a huge difference in the condition of my hair every time I use it and it makes it much easier to style and manage. Everyone raves about argan oil as it has nourishing properties to restore and moisturise your hair so I think this is a pretty good inexpensive way to treat your hair on a budget.

Neutrogena makeup remover cleansing towelettes in night calming

Another product which makes my beauty regime a little bit easier are these Neutrogena makeup remover cleansing towelettes in night calming. They are super quick and easy to use after a long day if I don’t have the energy to do a full cleanse and polish ;) I tend to use two wipes which sufficiently cleans my skin of all make-up and they have a lovely relaxing scent which is nice before bedtime.

Soap & Glory's Hand Food

Another little favourite of mine is the 50ml version of Soap & Glory’s Hand Food which is perfect for chucking in your handbag and I use mine when out and about and then last thing at night. I love the fragrance and as with most soap and glory products it smells amazing, somewhere between floral and fruity, plus it’s thoroughly moisturising without being greasy.

samy fat hair thickening spray

I’ve been using this Samy Fat Hair 0 Calories Thickening Spray for some time on damp hair before blow drying to give some lift at the roots. But I hadn’t used it on dry hair until a couple of weeks ago when I discovered just how volumising it can be. (It does state on the bottle you can use it on dry hair – I was just in a routine of using it only on damp hair). Spraying it into the hair before and after drying is fantastic and I found using it even on dry hair alone was much more effective than just on damp hair. This has a yummy apple scent and is easy to apply in a spritz bottle.

So that’s the run-down on my most recent beauty product favourites – have you tried any of them and what are your thoughts? Share your current beauty favourites in the comments below – I’d love to see your recommendations!

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

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Mother’s Day is just around the corner on Sunday 10th March and each year I like to get my mum something a little out of the ordinary to the usual flowers and pot plants. Here is my alternative Mother’s Day gift guide full of fun and lovely gifts to show her how much she means to you.

Cath Kidston is usually my first port of call. How about one of these pretty bags – you could fill it with some of her favourite chocolates, books by her favourite author or some beauty products.

T-reat a tea loving mum to a monthly tea club subscription from Notonthehighstreet.com. Beautifully packaged monthly boxes of four different, delicious and high quality loose teas – delivered straight to her door every month! Now there’s no excuse not to have that cuppa and a catch up.

I love this sign (also from Notonthehighstreet) – buy it as a promise to spend more time with your mum. Or better yet, Mum’s buy it for yourself and use it to give your kids a daily reminder!

If you like the handmade touch why not bake some yummy cupcakes and present them in a special personalised cake tin or book a Baroque Cupcake Baking And Decorating Class you can enjoy together or with the rest of the family.

Lastly, to really spoil your mum how about some beauty gifts from premium brand L’Occitane.
To Mother’s everywhere, including my own, I hope you all have a wonderful Mother’s Day. And I hope this guide has helped with ideas for gifts and ways to spoil your mum :)
What is your favourite thing about Mother’s Day?

Arts and Crafts: Gift Ideas

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Christmas 2012 I decided to do gifts on a budget and turned my hand to making a few presents, mostly for the younger children (toys) and the adults (liquor!) and missed out the teenagers as it was a pretty hard task knitting x-box games o_O

Instead of foodie gifts (which I made the year before) I wanted to make some craft and home items so wanted to share them with you and hope they serve as a little inspiration 🙂 (Sorry for the rubbish photos, they were taken in a rush!)

I also made some limoncello, blackberry and raspberry liquor and hot chocolate jars for the adults which consisted of a decorated glass jar filled with a hot chocolate recipe mix and lots of scrummy marshmallows to melt into it 🙂

Do you make any special gifts for your friends and family? What handmade gift would you like someone to make you?

What’s next? You tell me!

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If you’re a regular follower of the blog you may have noticed that I haven’t been updating or posting regularly for a while. I’m really overwhelmed at the moment and have so many things I could write about I actually can’t choose where to start! But at the same time I feel really disheartened about the blog as the only comments I seem to receive are spam and as much as I write this blog for myself, it would be nice to know if someone is actually reading this, so if you are please leave a comment below saying what sort of posts and subjects you would like to see more of :)

Here are some ideas to get you started…
Make-up tutorials
Fashion hauls
Nail art designs
Skincare reviews
Jewellery collection
Beauty tips/Q&A

Please let me know if you’d like to see more! I’m heading towards my third blog anniversary next month and I’m hoping to run a whole host of competitions and fun things to celebrate. I really hope that I don’t have to give this up before I reach the 3rd year mark and I’d love to hear some advice if you are a fellow blogger (or not) about how to kick-start back into blogging properly and the type of content you’d like to see.

Skincare Interview with Annet King – Director of Global Education for Dermalogica

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On Monday I took part in an online interview with UK born Annet King from skincare brand Dermalogica. I was really looking forward to this as she is a massive skincare guru who has been with with brand for 15 years (and is now living in LA) so I was hoping for some good skincare tips and the interview did not disappoint!

About Dermalogica:

Dermalogica is currently available in 83 different countries, is 27 years old and owned by a husband and wife team, unlike many other beauty brands which are owned by conglomerates e.g. Procter & Gamble.

Dermalogica products promote the optimal health of the skin and combine science and nature within their ingredients and manufacturing.

Q & A to Annet King:

What are your must have products?

(for a lady in her 40‘s) The AGE smart line for treating ageing skin and skin resurfacing cleanser to use every other day.

Also c-12 concentrate – a serum to put under your moisturiser to reduce hyperpigmentation, pure light moisturiser with spf, pure night and the ChromaWhite TRx system.

Annet also recommends using an spf 30 and up (for all skin types)…and remember to reapply throughout the day!

What age should I start thinking about using skincare products?

You should start a skincare regimen as soon as you start wearing make-up, even if it’s just a gloss or mascara, you should learn how to take it off so anytime in your teens and tweens.

What products do you recommend for eczema?

A few are UltraCalming complex to calm and soothe and calming mist, which is also good for rosacea.

What mistakes do women make in their skincare routines?

Undercleansing and over moisturising! Double cleanse using a dual face cleanser or a light creamy gel for sensitive skin (twice a day so thats four cleanses a day!) Don’t use alcohol based toners after cleansing, they can lead to congestion in the skin and stripping the skin.

Using too much product – you need only a pea sized amount of foaming cleanser, a quarter size (the size of a 2p coin) for moisturiser, spritz toner of 3 spritzes and more sunscreen! Use a teaspoon for the face and shotglass for the body.

Good things about toners

– if you apply a toner before moisturising you use around 40% less moisturiser so you can save money. It is also the first layer of hydration – skincare is about layer moisturiser to seal it in. Toner is also good for moisturising your legs, the ends of the hair, used over your make-up and use on flights to stay hydrated on a plane.

Does Dermalogica have any cleansing wipes or intend to bring them out?

The cost price of cleansing wipes would be too expensive for the market but we have skin purifying wipes that help to control oil during the day that contains calming and soothing ingredients and that are anti bacterial.

What is the newest upcoming ingredient for anti-ageing?

Peptides which create chains of amino acids. They do have the ability to change the structure of the skin, increase collagen and elastin. And retinol which stimulates collagen and hyaluronic acid which helps to lighten pigmentation. And vitamin c, it helps pigmentation and stimulate collagen.

What do you recommend for a woman in her 20’s with combination skin who wants to get rid of spots and who is also concerned with anti-ageing?

Use a foaming cleanser, a toner, a treatment for spots and divide your face up into zones. Treat different areas differently – anti ageing eye cream, spot treatment, moisturiser and serum.

Annet is also supporting the campaign www.joinfite.org – putting 25,000 women into business around the world through opening or growing their own businesses.

You can follow both @AnnetKing and @Dermalogica on twitter.

*This interview is taken from a transcript from an online interview and therefore does not contain direct quotes*

Bizarre Beauty Secrets

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Below is a list of the Nations’s Top Beauty Secrets. There are lots here I have heard of and a couple I definitely hadn’t! Which do you agree with and what are your top beauty tips?
1. Drink 2 litres of bottled water everyday
2. Drink milk every day
3. Toothpaste on spots
4. Cucumber on eyes to freshen them up
5. Shave legs with hair conditioner
6. Sleep in socks filled with moisturizer for soft feet
7. Cucumber slices on eyes to reduce puffiness
8. Tea bags on tired eyes
9. Brush talcum powder through hair to freshen it up
10. Other
11. Pinching cheeks to give a natural blush
12. Hairspray on face to fix make-up
13. Nail polish in fridge
14. Lipstick on cheeks when you have ran out of blusher
15. Toothpaste on insect bites
16. Lemon juice to lighten hair
17. Spray hairbrush with perfume
18. Lemon juice on highlighted hair
19. Heat up eye lash curlers before using them
20. Cold teaspoons applied to eyes to make puffiness go down
21. Tea tree oil on ingrown hairs
22. Steam face in water with fresh herbs added
23. Sleep on back to avoid wrinkles
24. Keep nail varnish in fridge to make it last longer
25. Vaseline to smooth out frizzy hair
26. Add sugar to soap to exfoliate
27. Eat a jelly cube a day for strong nails
28. Mix a drop of serum with foundation to make skin look glowing
29. Lemon juice to whiten tips of nails
30. Hemorrhoid cream on under-eye bags
31. Super glue fingers nails rather than rip them off
32. Final hair rinse in vinegar
33. Whitening toothpaste to get rid of fake tan on palms
34. Use the cold setting on hair dryer to set mascara
35. Coffee as a body scrub to beat cellulite
36. Pouring milk in to the bath or on skin
37. Mash up avocado and use as a body scrub
38. Apply whisked eggs to hair to make it shiny
39. Hair removal cream takes off fake tan
40. Burst an evening primrose oil capsule and apply to spots to make them heal much faster
41. Brewer’s yeast mixed with water to bleach facial hair

*Study undertaken by www.modernmilk.co.uk by 2000 women.

30 Before 30 – No 19: Books on the bookshelf

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Considering that in the last three years I have read about as many books, number 19 on my 30 Before 30 list is quite a tall order. Logging into my GoodReads account, it shows I have been reading the same two books since May 2011. But in fact they have been sitting by my bedside, gathering dust. And on a weekly basis I look at them thinking, ‘I must read that tonight’ and then never get around to it.

Being a member of goodreads should help me accomplish reading through my list though – as it allows me to keep track of each book I read, ticking it off so to speak as I finish one and move onto another. It also allows you to connect with friends, see what they’re reading plus give and accept recommendations. If you want to join me and follow my book updates you can see my profile here.

However, when I made my 30 Before 30 list, I wasn’t aware of exactly how many books I have left to read. The total is twenty-one books. To read in 17 months and 2 weeks. Do-able? Well here comes the maths…
That works out at 76 weeks and therefore one book every 3.6 weeks (or 3 weeks and 4 days per book).

I think this sounds achievable as long as I keep to the deadlines and I hope as soon as I start reading again there will be some books I love so much I won’t want to put them down and will speed through them (for example several Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsellas which should make for light reading.)

Have you got any book recommendations for when I finish my list? Do you prefer to read good old fashioned paperbacks or are you a kindle fan?