Almost Autumn

Almost autumn

Ali and I took a walk today and I couldn't help noticing all the leaves beginning to fall. I am a cliché, I can't wait for Autumn. 

Almost autumn

I like to keep things casual these days, or maybe comfortable is the better word. 16 year old me would recoil in horror at the fact that I will opt to wear trainers 99% of the time instead of heels.

Almost autumn  Almost autumn

Almost autumn Almost autumn

Almost autumn

Almost autumn

Almost autumn Almost autumn

Dress: Simply Be (by way of Stephanie Dreams blog sale)
Shoes: Vans from ASOS (20% off code with this months ELLE, fyi)
Jacket: ASOS
Necklace: Glitterbomb
Bag: Sailor Moon by Samantha Vega via ebay

Almost autumn

Almost autumn

Almost autumn

I don't know what Lola was doing here, but it seemed to cute not to include. Thanks for reading!

18 Truths Of Having Blue Hair

Turquoise Hair


1. People will touch your hair often and without asking first. As if your hair will feel magically different to all other hair.

2. Lots of people will ask you if you are wearing a wig.

3. If you're out of teenage years people will assume you are getting your youth out of your system before turning 30. I can't tell you how many people ask me if I dyed my hair blue now because I turn 30 soon (apparently soon means three years). Why can't you have brightly coloured hair past the age of 30?

4. People will ask you if you're tired of spending an absolute fortune maintaining your hair (I'm not).

5. It will be assumed that you have no professional career goals.

6. Children will stare at you, and it'll be quite sweet.

7. Adults will stare at you and it will be really annoying.

8. Lots of adults will tell you how much they preferred your hair when it was "your natural colour" FYI my hair has not been it's natural colour since 2002.

9. Everything in your home/most of your neck and back and ears will be the same colour as your hair dye and after a short while you won't really care that much.

10. But if you do care, baby wipes will be your best friend.

11. Dark towels will be your second best friend.

12. You'll have to wash your hair with gloves on if you don't want bright blue hands/nails.

13. Wave goodbye to nice shampoos. You're using baby shampoo and you're gonna like it.

14. £1 tubs of argan oil deep conditioning masks from Home Bargains are like sweet angel kisses to your hair and you will be forever grateful.

15. Your hair will look a totally different colour in different light. Everyone you know will ask if you have changed the colour every time you see them or post a photo of your hair. It keeps things interesting.

16. You'll get really excited to wear colours that perfectly compliment your hair colour and get ready to trash anything that makes you look like a christmas tree/union jack/smurf (red is truly the devil).

17. You absolutely won't ever be able to avoid that person you can't be bothered to make conversation with because they've already spotted your hair radiating obscene levels of brightness from a mile away. Suck it up. Time for a lot of stop'n'chats.

18. It's all good because you wake up every day and immediately love looking in the mirror because you feel like a genuine mermaid and that's worth every pillowcase you own being blue.

Turquoise Hair


Honestly having bright hair is a blast, I've loved every minute of it and if you are wanting to and are able to do it I totally recommend it. I'm really lucky in that I am self employed and I work in a creative business so my hair colour isn't an issue. For anyone wanting to know more details about my transition to blue hair and my routine:

  • My hair has been dyed a lot of colours since I was around 14 but the colour I have used most often and for the last 5 years or so was black. Black dye, repeatedly. I hadn't even just been doing my roots, I'd just been bunging on a whole box of dye on all of my hair. This meant my hair had a huge build up of black and I'd never really thought my dream of having bright hair was possible. I decided to go lighter around March last year and it's been a really slow process but I am very grateful because it meant my hair is still in a good condition. It was bleached in highlights over around 11 months. 
  • I use La Riche Directions dye in Turquoise. I can't explain why but nearly every time I dye it it comes out a slightly different colour. The first dye done by my hairdresser came out a really sea green colour, and when I topped it up a week later it came out more of a bright blue. I just roll with it, it's generally in the greeny blue realm and I'm happy with that. Because my hair was lightened slowly in highlights I have a lot of different tones which makes it seem more natural...as stupid as that sounds. It's not all one flat colour.
  • I wash my hair around every 4-5 days and I top up the colour around every third wash. I mix 50/50 dye and conditioner. The roots of my hair fade a lot quicker than the rest and it's a pain. The length really doesn't seem to fade for me at all. The dye is £2.95 a tub on ebay so it's not expensive to top up and I just need to lighten my roots every once in a while at the salon the same as I have been doing for the last while with blonde hair anyway. The dye I use is really not damaging to my hair so I'm not worried about using it often like I would do with an ammonia dye. 
  • The products I recommend are Johnson Baby Shampoo and as above, the £1 tubs of deep conditioning mask from Home Bargains and Poundland. I use the ones in the brown and green tubs but they all seem to do the same trick. I also bought a massive bottle of Orofluido oil from amazon for around £10 and I use that after each wash. 
  • I really do use gloves in the shower because run off is pretty intense with these dyes and I don't want blue hands. I also bought around 1000 shower caps from ebay for £2 to keep me from getting dye everywhere when I am topping up. If I do get dye on my skin it comes off pretty easily with baby wipes and my Garnier Micellar water. 
I'll include some photos below, note that every photo in this blog post is unedited and using the same exact dye each time, luckily I love the colours but you can see a real difference in shade so be prepared for that. Happy dyeing! 

Turquoise Hair Turquoise Hair

Turquoise Hair Turquoise Hair

Turquoise Hair Turquoise Hair

Four nights in Amsterdam!

At the beginning of March Ali and I travelled to Amsterdam to spend 4 days exploring and eating! It was a bit of a celebration as it was ten years since our first date. A lot has happened in a decade, and since we haven't yet killed the other person it seemed as good an excuse as any to treat ourselves!

We wanted somewhere that was easy to get to from Belfast so that we could use our precious time off work enjoying ourselves and not travelling loads and being jet lagged. FYI it is a lot cheaper to fly to Amsterdam via Dublin than Belfast (please fix that, easyjet) so that's what we did.

Amsterdam 2015

The most memorable visit of the trip for me was the Anne Frank House. I grew up reading her diary and it impacted on me a lot. I have a great interest in WW2 and how people lived day to day during that time so it was a big moment for me to finally visit the house. It was extremely emotional but I would recommend it to everyone as a really significant  part of Amsterdam. For tourists it can be a city of excess and partying but I think it's really important to remember that 107,000 Jews were deported to concentration camps, with only 5200 surviving. To ignore the city's history is really doing a disservice to yourself. A lot of people are put off by the long queues but we found that by going just before opening on a Friday we only waited around 30 minutes.

Amsterdam 2015

Amsterdam 2015

Amsterdam 2015

We didn't do a lot of shopping but there were plenty of cute shops to poke around in. Lots of rummaging and clutter in a lot of Amsterdam shops so it really felt like we were on a treasure hunt. I loved them. 

Amsterdam 2015

Amsterdam 2015

We tried these delicious pastrami sandwiches in this little shop in the Jordaan. Delicious! 

Amsterdam 2015
Visiting the Cat Museum! 

Amsterdam 2015

Amsterdam 2015

Amsterdam 2015

Amsterdam 2015

I loved the architecture of the city, the many churches were stunning to look at but I mostly loved seeing all the different canal houses. They are so full of charm though honestly we couldn't believe how many of them were crooked and looked about to fall over! They look a little like a cartoon at times and I loved that they were all so different. 

Amsterdam 2015

We ate these donut like things called Kwarkbollens, I really recommend them! I dragged Ali back a few times to have them. Delicious! 

Amsterdam 2015

Amsterdam 2015

Amsterdam 2015

Amsterdam 2015

Amsterdam 2015

Amsterdam 2015

Amsterdam 2015

Amsterdam 2015

Amsterdam 2015

We took a day drip to Haarlem which is only around 15 minutes outside Amsterdam and you can get a train from central station. It's a beautiful little town. We went on a Sunday as it was our only free day and though it meant some things were closed (I really wanted to go on the tour of the Ten booms museum) it made for lots of peaceful strolling. If you look closely at the photo above you can see a little bench outside the black building. We sat right here and had a delicious lunch at the water's edge. It was blissful! 

Amsterdam 2015

Our base for the weekend really made the whole trip. It was just perfect and I wouldn't dream of staying anywhere else in Amsterdam now! We stayed at the new Hotel de Hallen in the West of Amsterdam. The whole building has been converted from a tram storage base to an amazing mix of hotel, food hall, cinema, shops and restaurants. 

The hotel were kind enough to upgrade us to one of their amazing apartments because we were celebrating, and it was so luxurious and new! The balcony you can see in the photo below was our bedroom, containing the biggest bed I have ever slept in! Oh how I wish I could go back! 

Amsterdam 2015

Right across the hall from our apartment was the Food Hallen. It's a wonderful mix of all different food booths and a bar. It was really nice to have this so if we were too tired for a fancy restaurant we could still pick up something interesting here and soak in the atmosphere. I ate a lot of burgers. 

Amsterdam 2015

Amsterdam 2015

Amsterdam 2015


I hope you enjoyed the photos, I really loved Amsterdam. The people were friendly, there were no problems with language as in Amsterdam nearly everyone speaks English so we could be lazy, and it was a really easy city to get around by tram or walking (just be careful of all the bikes!). Have you been to Amsterdam? What was your favourite part? 

Amsterdam 2015

Rainwear by Joules



How come the one day you want rain in Ireland it refuses to rain? I had all these grand plans to take photos of my new raincoat while splashing around in puddles but it was a glorious winter afternoon when I had time to take these! I was approached by Joules to create a wish list of some of their gorgeous rainwear. Joules is a brand I am fairly new to, it's been on my radar and they recently a store opened in Belfast (we tend to get things a lot later than everywhere else!). Their style is just my thing, bright colours, fun patterns and stunning florals. Their rainwear section is seriously making me wish for rain which just seems wrong since sun is so scarce here!


1.2.3.4.5.

I chose the Coast raincoat in my favourite colour which is bright green! It also comes in a light yellow, a gorgeous pinky coral colour I almost went for and navy blue. It's a lovely jacket, and it keeps me both dry and warm as it blocks out the wind. I also really love the stripy pulls on it and the striped lining, I'm a sucker for little details!

 

Now that I have gone on to the Joules website just now to get links, I have been sucked into their dresses section. Oops! Might have to treat myself! P.S. The awesome dino sweater is from H&M!

Benefit Rollerlash




I was lucky enough to be invited to the touring Benebus to preview the newest Benefit release a few weeks before the public. There were lots of lash hints in the invitations so I was pretty certain it would be a mascara and I was right!





I had been using Benefit Bad Gal for years, for as long as I remember! I love the curl it gives and the way the brush separates my lashes. I stopped using Bad Gal because I found it was smudging off under my eyes a lot basically any time I looked down. I switched to NYC Skyline and have really loved it but I use a LOT of Benefit make up already so was aching to fall in love with something new! They're Real Mascara is a big favourite with many people but for me I always found it didn't work - it resulted in clumpy lashes and I struggled to find any way of using it without making a mess.





So! On to Rollerlash! The unique aspect of Rollerlash is the curling brush. It is made with a special hook and roll technique modeled on old school velcro rollers to lift and curl your lashes. It also is made to be easily removed and it has a little grip in the bottle that is said to pull off any excess product from the brush.



There's a reason why this review is so late and it's because I have tried, and tried, and tried so hard to love this product. I LOVE Benefit, I swear by High Beam and I think I would be lost without Browzings. I have been using Benetint for nearly ten years. I don't like Rollerlash. I really wanted to, but it just does not work for me. I know as with They're Real there will be people who completely love it but for me it just isn't love.

Now, don't get me wrong this mascara achieves what it sets out to do. The brush does a wonderful job of curling my lashes though I am lucky enough to have quite long curly lashes already. The wand is really good, my problem is with the mascara itself. It grabs all of my lashes together into spidery clumps and it takes forever to dry. It also seems to me that far too much product still remains on the brush and I have to flick my eyelashes against my finger to remove it, which is messy.


I love my lashes to be fanned out and separated but this really does bunch them together. The mascara photographs quite well and looks really dramatic but up close I think it looks a bit cartoony and reminds me of my attempts at make up as a teen. Also, Alistair laughed at it because it was just TOO extreme.


I'm really sad that this mascara isn't for me, but my love affair with Benefit is by no means over. As I said, I know there are people out there who will love Rollerlash. Have you tried it? What do you think? If you want to give it a go, there's a free mini size in this months Elle Magazine.

Keeping cosy this winter!

I have a confession to make. I am addicted to buying homeware. The less useful and more pretty the better. I have little interest in things we actually need, but show me a string of birdcage fairy lights or another animal themed lamp and I am all over it. My pal Dawn recently showed me the Asda homeware catalogue and within a day I had already placed an order. It's somewhere I would never have thought of for homeware (there's not a store too close to me so it's off my radar usually). I shared the photo below of my goodies on Instagram and everyone was so impressed with the selection.


My own purchases: Rabbit Lamp //Pink Cushion // Mint Cushion // Birdcage lights // Items not linked are no longer available. 



You can imagine how excited I was to get an offer from Asda to try out some more of their home goods. Now, I had to try really hard not to buy another lamp and to be at least a little bit practical! Before we bought our home we lived in property owned by family, and everything in it was theirs. So when we moved, we had quite a lot of quick shopping to do. Ikea was our savior, and while our ikea items have held up well I have wanted to invest in some long lasting, quality items. A good down duvet like I used to have at my parent's house was high on the list.






So with that in mind, I chose a Fogarty feather and down duvet to try and let the impulsive side of me run riot with throw cushions that we really did not need but had to have, and some candles because for some reason when I became a homeowner I also became a compulsive candle buyer. Asda stock a great Yankee candle range at a really good price, and the Yankee Simply Home range seem to be the same thing as the normal range only cheaper. Win win.




I originally wanted the cushions in our initials but they were sold out, so I went for XO which I now think I prefer!

Do I like my new duvet? I love it. It is my new favourite thing and I tried deep fried cheese for the first time this week. So yes, I think it's fair to say I love it. It creates a warm, airy pocket of comfort over me and I am finding it nearly impossible to part with it in the morning. I would recommend it as a great investment for anyone who loves sleeping as much as I do, I also chose some gorgeous geometrical bedding from Asda in grey and yellow. This is a colour combination I clearly have a thing for as it's the same colour as our feature wall in the living room.





Although I was lucky enough to select these items for free, I woudn't recommend anything unless I really liked it. Do check out Asda homeware for some really unique pieces that won't break the bank, They also offer a free Click and Collect service in stores. Thanks Asda!

Recipe: Chocolate Fudge Cake






Hello all! I thought it was about time I shared a recipe here again. I bake so many cakes and hundreds of cupcakes a week now so I often find it hard to get time to share recipes or bake for myself! Last week I decided to bake a chocolate fudge cake for Ali and I to enjoy and lots of people wanted to know the recipe so here it is!

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Ingredients

Cake:
  • 200g good quality dark chocolate
  • 4 eggs
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 170g butter or Stork margarine (butter is preferable for flavour, but Stork still makes a deliciously moist cake so don't be afraid of using it). 
  • 370g plain flour
  • 1.5 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1,5 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
  • 400ml milk
Fudge frosting: 

  • 175g good quality dark chocolate
  • 250g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 200g icing sugar
Method:

Preheat your oven to 175 degrees celsius. Line and grease 3 7" sandwich tins.

  1. Cream your butter/marg and sugar
  2. Crack in your eggs and mix in with the creamed butter and sugar.
  3. Melt your chocolate using either a bain marie or microwave (in 30 second blasts, mixing in between until fully melted).
  4. Pour your chocolate into the mixure and combine until silky and smooth.
  5. Add your flour, bicarb and baking powder and combine. Scrape down the edges of the bowl and remix if needed.
  6. Gradually add your milk while your mixer or beaters are on low. Mix until fully combined. 
  7. Divide the mixture evenly between your three greased tins, 
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool on a rack for 20 mins before removing from tins. While you are waiting, melt the chocolate for the frosting and allow it to cool.
  9. Once the cakes are fully cooled you are ready to ice the cake. To make the icing, cream the butter and icing sugar on high until fluffy. Pour in your cooled melted chocolate and mix until fluffy and creamy. If you find this too runny then add a tablespoon of icing sugar until it begins to firm up enough to be a spreadable consistency. This isn't likely but if your chocolate isn't completely cool it could melt the butter slightly which is what you want to avoid.
  10. Apply the buttercream to each layer of the cake and then all around the outside with a spatula. I didn't do a crumb coat as it was just for us to eat, but if you want a really smooth finish then go ahead. Personally I like this cake rough and ready! Enjoy! It's delicious with some cream poured over it and a cup of tea to drink with it, of course.


Sainsbury's Treats for Christmas 2014.

I was lucky enough to be invited along to the Sainsbuys Christmas press day a few weeks ago. I do all of my food shopping, as well as a lot of business shopping there so I was excited to see more of what they had for us at Christmas.

Well, I was not disappointed. I left full of cheese and Christmas cheer. I had already eyed up some of their Christmas decorations but the food ranges were new to me and I certainly ate my share...and maybe a few others shares too.

I was most excited about these magical reindeer, I have already bought the little one for our home and I think they're just super cute. I also had already purchased the tree log candle holder back in October and I love it. I have one of Sainsburys red Christmas candles in it and I just can't put my finger on what the scent is but it reminds me of Christmases of my childhood. It's spicy but not the usual cinnamon and apple combo that you usually see around these months.





How cute is the little Robin candle?





On to the food! This year I am hosting Christmas with my family and it'll be the first time in over 30 years that my mum has not cooked Christmas dinner. No pressure then! I'll be making a huge list and a trip to Sainsburys soon to collect everything I need for the main dinner but I have now also been drawn to the wonderful selection of snacks they have available. For NI folk there is also a wide range of local produce to avail of and many of the brands have seasonal ranges. Alistair particularly enjoyed the glittery mince pies! My  favourite item (apart from all of the cheese of course) were the Juice Press season juices, They're great for something a little different from the usual Shloer and would be delicious warmed up or mixed with the tipple of your choice! I'm thinkin some spiced rum for me.



They come in 2 seasonal flavours: Apple, Pear, Cranberry and Cinnamon and the second flavour is Apple, Pear, Cranberry and Clove. I loved them and I have to say their plain orange juice is also delicious and not from concentrate.





We also stuffed ourselves silly on some Genesis and Howell House baked goods. Those yellow things? Pineapple tarts. Pineapple! I loved them.



The aforementioned cheese which I probably ate half my weight in. I love cheese.

Thanks Sainsburys for inviting me along and allowing me to almost eat you out of business. I'll defintely be heading your way for my Christmas shop.

Please note this post is NOT paid for or sponsored and all views are honest, I was so impressed. Do check out their Christmas range and let me know what you think!