Wednesday, 27 May 2015

I am in love with a recipe; I hereby take myself off the market and bind myself to these heavenly Moroccan Harissa Sweet Potato Enchiladas, forever creating delicious enchilada babies until I can no longer stand in the kitchen constantly making yummy noises.

But in all seriousness, I haven't been craycray over a recipe in such a long time and from the moment this came bubbling out the oven, our house has gone a bit enchilada mad. I think it's the blend of Mexican and Moroccan spices, especially the Encona Moroccan Harissa sauce* which really packs a gorgeous spicy punch whilst being moreish and enjoyable. Usually I'm a fajita kind of girl, however this recipe by Cookie + Kate got me dreaming of sweet potatoes swimming in a succulent sauce, so off I went to produce my own version, and guys, you're never going to want to eat anything else.

As I eat primarily vegan, I've used a mix of dairy-free cheese mix and nutritional yeast, but if you're good with your dairy then you will want to load your enchiladas with as much cheese as humanly possible - it makes it taste amazing, as I've been told by my cheese easting family. Also, sour cream or yogurt tastes amazing with this for contrast as does some avocado, go crazy with your condiments!

Ingredients (serves 4, or 2 - if you're greedy)

For the Sauce
1 Carton of Chopped Tomato Sauce, preferably flavoured with Chilli or Oregano | 1 Tbsp Encona Moraccan Harissa Marinade* | 1½ Tsp Cinnamon, Coriander, Chilli, Sumac | 3-5 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast or Gluten Free Flour | 1 Tsp Coconut Oil | 1 Cup Fresh Tomatoes

For the Enchiladas
Enchilada Sauce | 4 Wholewheat Wraps | 1½ Sweet Potatoes | 4 Large Onions | 1 Cup Frozen Peppers | 4-6 Tsp Encona Moroccan Harissa Marinade* | Cheese for topping or Dairy Free Cheese Sauce Mix mixed with Nutritional Yeast | Almond Milk or Soya Cream

1. Dice your Sweet Potatoes and mix into a bowl with the Harissa sauce, leaving them to marinade in the fridge for an hour to really soak up all the flavour. If you're in a rush, you can just leave them to absorb the marinade whilst you whip up the sauce - I've tried both and it's still just as delicious!

2. In a pan, pop in the oil and spices, and let these simmer together to infuse and create depth of flavour. Turn to a medium heat after a minute and add in the chopped tomato sauce, stirring to combine the flavours along with the remaining marinade. After this has simmered for 5 minutes, add in the flour or nutritional yeast to thicken the sauce to a desired consistency, and then pop in your fresh tomatoes to soften and flavour. Leave this for about 10-15 minutes on a medium-low heat, and then take off the heat to stay warm.

3. In a frying pan, add in the chopped onions on a medium heat to soften and turn white. Now go fetch your marinated veg and get a whiff of that spicy goodness - not too much, it might make your nose tingle. Combine with the onions and cook until soft, and as you wait get mixing the cheese sauce.

4. In a separate pan, mix together the Nutritional Yeast and Dairy Free Cheese Sauce Mix with either milk or cream until you have the consistency you want - thick and oozy or thin and bubbling, the only time you can use those words and it sound mildly acceptable. Pop this to one side until you layer up the enchiladas, and then if the potato is nearly soft add in your frozen peppers to finish cooking.

5. Once all the filling is cooked and soft, turn off the heat and start assembling the enchiladas. Take half the tomato sauce and cover the bottom of your baking tray for the yummy base. Fill each wrap with the Sweet Potato mix (make sure you can close up the wrap, I know you, eyes bigger than the belly!) and lie them seam down so they are nice and tightly packed together. Repeat until all the wraps are lined up, and then pour on the remaining sauce before topping with your cheese sauce or heaps of grated cheddar if you're going all YOLO.

6. Pop in the over for 15 minutes, grilling afterwards if you want a crispier top, and then leave no time to waste - get serving these bad boys up with some avocado, yogurt, spinach and sink into a spicy succulent heaven that will make your tummy settle into the chair. You are most welcome.

I would apologise for making you salivating at your screen, but I honestly can't because I'm doing so myself writing this recipe back. When you need a really satisfying comfort meal bursting with flavour, something swimming in sauce, swirled with spice and healthy carbs, then you cannot beat these Enchiladas - I would happily eat these 2 or 3 times a week (maybe 4, more likely 5).

For a real foodie treat this week, throw some Moroccan Harissa in your basket, a couple of Wholewheat wraps, and come join the beautiful world of Enchilada unions - the best relationship you'll have this week at least.

Have you tried Econa Moroccan Harissa before? Are you a fan of Enchiladas? What is your ultimate comfort food?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more. 

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Monday, 25 May 2015

Using brushes for purposes other than their original design is a common concept in my routine - a buffing brush that's great for foundation and concealer? Pretty standard, or maybe the small shadow brush that's perfect for applying under-eye concealer and powder? That works a real treat.

However this new use I totally blame (or thank) Anna for, as until recently my MAC 187 brush was living a rather lonely life in a brush pot, not really right for blending in my foundation any more as it shed a few too many fibres - leaving me with some unfortunate facial hair - and not great with thicker formulas of highlighter or creams.

After watching a few recent videos on Anna's channel where she used the MAC 188 brush to blend in products, it got me thinking about whether my 187 brush needed a new purpose in life, and for me it's all about contouring - I can't get deep enough into those somewhat minimally existing cheekbones, and with most of my powder brushes being a bit too large to create subtle and soft hollowing I thought it was time to let the 188 brush work it's magic, and boy am I impressed!

Even though it has a slightly splayed head, the hairs aren't too densely packed which means you can use less product on the brush to build up a beautiful contour that stays within the area of the brush fibres, plus less product means less gets left behind on the brush and it keeps you using a light hand to blend it all into the skin. The finished result? A lovely defined shadow where God forgot to emphasise the cheekbones, slimming and adding definition to the face with a natural finish whatever shade of bronzer or powder you use.

MAC, I'm sorry I gave up on you, but you've proved yourself once again and made a crucial step in my routine a breeze. Now that I've got the ultimate brow and contour tools, maybe it's time to get working on those eyeliner skills.... one can dream.

Do you have a brush you use for a different purpose? What are your favourite contour products? Have you made any beauty rediscoveries recently?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

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Saturday, 23 May 2015

I like to think of myself as someone who has a pretty good memory and can pick out random facts at a few seconds notice, but it wasn't until I watched a few people's videos and thought about how I manage my time that I realised I'm probably not as mentally physical as I'd hoped; sure I don't really watch TV anymore, but I do spend a large portion of my time online working or conversing with others, leaving myself very little time to relax and indulge in activities, let alone expand my knowledge.

With this in mind (and thankfully having enough brain recall to remember so) I decided to reevaluate my time and get my head muscles worked out daily - cue deleting a lot of music and data to make space for quite a few educational apps on my phone. Now I'm not claiming to be the next Einstein, but since starting my new training routine I'm feeling pretty quick when retaining information and in trying out new hobbies which has been fantastic (especially in getting me off the internet every night), so how can you improve your memory and brain activity? Well, it's as easy as 1 2 3.....

Use brain training apps
The easiest way to get your synapses tingling is to download some apps on your phones for a morning workout - plus you can stay in bed whilst you do it so win/win right? I've been using Elevate and Peak daily, which both have free and pro version depending how hard you want to go on the training, but the variety of puzzles and tasks to complete is brilliant; you get to work different areas of the brain each day and can repeat games to build up your levels throughout the day, plus you can compare your score to the average of your age or a certain profession (I'm now on par with a nurse or lawyer which is amazing, watch out Judge Judy!). In 5 minutes you can make yourself alert and ready to absorb information from the day, what's not to love?

Discover the Word of the Day
I mainly wanted to improve my vocabulary and use of words through brain training, and finding out the Word of the Day helps you discover everything from the obscure to the much more articulate version of your favourite word (why say something is rubbish when words such as boondoggle exist?!) The Word of the Day app does what it says on the tin and allows you to see the previous words of the current month, plus the Dictionary app comes with an in-built Thesaurus and Word of the Day feature so every day you can easily find something new to expand your mental lexicon (that's the vocabulary or inventory of a person FYI, this is proving to be a very educational post indeed).

Reading, always reading
Another way to stimulate your mind is to read as much as you possibly can - from your favourite novel to a new recommendation from a friend, a broadsheet newspaper to study the views and opinions of the world around you to articles on historical events, set aside time to enjoy the language and escapism of words in front of you.

D-d-d-drop the bass whacka whacka
In all seriousness, tongue twisters and rapping are a great way to improve your speech and relax your mouth muscles! Both teach the brain and mouth to enunciate words and recall lyrics quickly, plus how impressive does it look when you can roll off some Eminem or Kanye without hesitation?

Research and write down things that capture your attention
Sometimes the key to improving your memory is to follow those random thoughts that pop in your head - who was the last Tsar of Russia? Why was Voldemort so evil? What was Hitler's background? There's so much information online that it's great to go delving into the archives of history and documented facts, especially when you want to go looking for it - I found that when I had to learn something for school that didn't interest me it was harder to retain information, however if it comes to me naturally now to look into, I'm more likely to retain the material, so whenever the opportunity arises to become more informed take it! Write it down, make notes, and you'll soon be engaging your knowledge more than ever.

Brain workouts, where you can stretch your mind from the comfort of your bed and memorise more grammatically correct sentences than One Direction lyrics - allow your memory to thrive and you'll soon be feeling more informed, engaged and intuitive when it comes to any topic of conversation. Just one more excuse to stay in bed for an extra ten minutes, right?

Do you engage your brain in any activities? What is your best method to improve your memory? How do you like to learn about new things?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more. 

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Friday, 22 May 2015

Thanks to a pretty good skincare routine and diet, my complexion has come a long way in a short space of time, however there are those instances when you eat too much of a good thing for the first time in a while, or it's that time of the month where your skin just breaks out - one big bag of nope if you ask me.

Some sort of weird mentality takes over in this skin interval and you go all crazy trying to sort your face out until it looks normal again, but alas the more you mess and pack on the longer it can take for it to heal, so I'm stripping it back to make sure my skin calms those breakouts quickly and easily.

Cleansing is always important to remove the dirt and oil from the day plus from the grime gathered at night as you sleep so I've been religiously using the MyChelle Fruit Enzyme Cleanser* which contains AHA to lightly exfoliate the skin and unclog pores, helping to remove excess sebum and encourage cell renewal to make those bumps and blocked pores get on their way out. Combined with the Konjac Sponge, my skin has been feeling more refined and clearer quicker which is fantastic!

Now this is a time where I go all out on the face masks, as it stops you from aggravating the skin by squeezing and helps everything ease along naturally. I'm a huge fan of chemical exfoliants and switch between the MyChelle Fruit Fiesta Peel* and REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask depending on what strength I need - the MyChelle Peel is 3 minutes tops as it has a 7% acid concentrate so is more of a deep peel to plump and refine the skin, leaving it very fresh and new whilst the REN mask can be left on much longer (up to 15 minutes) and gently reveals the fresh new skin underneath as it busts out those dead skin cells and blocked pores. I switch between the two every other day if my skin is crying for help and it definitely helps speed up the healing process - traits of an impatient person.

Another exfoliant based product but one that doesn't seem to promote itself as one is the La Roche Posay Effaclar Clarifying Toner* which helps to tighten the pores but also contains some chemical exfoliant to just give that light refresh to the skin. I use this in the mornings when I'm feeling oily or need an extra clean if I've not used a mask, and it's super gentle whilst meeting all its claims - just shame you can't buy this product on its own.

As well as using exfoliants, it's important to make sure your skin stays balanced and nourished so I like to end my routine with something that's going to keep my skin cared for during the day or night whilst helping to calm down the breakouts. When I'm having bumpy or oily skin, I always turn to the Clarins Lotus Oil which helps to combat excess oil production and provide nourishment at the same time, helping to keep my pores clear and skin soft.

Hopping back over to masks now and I've constantly been keeping my eyes peeled for ones that will detox and clarify my pores, so when the breakouts do come I love to leave on a mix of Aesop Chamomile Concentrate Mask with the Sukin Detoxifying Clay Masque*. The beauty of these products is they are both designed to be left on the skin for long periods of time so you can effectively (on a weekend) leave this to do its thing for a few hours as an intensive treatment, especially as the Sukin mask is very creamy and absorbs oil whilst drawing out impurities and the Aesop mask calms and clears pores, making them a dream team at banishing those blemishes.

Of course, I can't do a skincare post without mentioning my all-time favourite skin saviour - Egyptian Magic. During a recent breakout, I used this every night either on its own or mixed with the Sukin mask, and by morning my blemishes and breakouts had faded, calmed down and started to heal up in super quick time - I have to remember to reach for this for future cases as the naturally oily and balms consistency of the product may feel like it is just smothering the skin, however the 6 natural ingredients work together to boost the skin in providing natural healing properties from Bee Pollen, Honey and Olive Oil - get absorbing that goodness!

Finally, if you have one or two really raging breakouts that just need to be dealt with, make sure you have some Germolene at hand. Not the most natural product I know, but the antiseptic does keep any popped spots clean and can help reduce the risk of germs spreading from them to the rest of your face, pretty essential to get you looking fresh faced and fancy free in no time!

There is always a way to strip back your skincare to the essential fool-proof products, and obviously use them in moderation - a chemical exfoliant every day will probably make your skin more sensitive but of course, it is your skin so whatever works best for you - so make sure you give your skin the chance to breathe and recover, to which you'll be saying bye bye to breakouts in no time!

How do you deal with breakouts? Have you found a holy grail product to banishing blemishes? What is your routine for keeping your skin clear?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more. 

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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

If you hadn't noticed already, I'm pretty big on my healthy food and lifestyle - most of my Instagram snaps are of porridge, I have weekly food posts including some yummy recipes, and I've started posting healthy living tips and recipes of me actually making my favourite food on my YouTube channel all to inspire people to accessible healthy living.

Of course, it's a journey and process when changing your life around, especially when it comes to cutting out your favourite foods in favour of other alternatives, so with an updated version of this post I'm going to make your journey to a healthier lifestyle easy peasy breezy with a bit of lemon squeezy!

Start with small changes and alternative foods for prolonged success
Most of us have the desire for quick turnaround and success in a short-period of time (I am one of those people) but when it comes to a big overhaul in your life, slow and steady always wins the race. It can be hard and you'll be wondering why nothing isn't noticeably changing, but I promise you, from the minute you decide to commit you'll feel a change.
By switching to healthier versions of your favourite foods, your digestion will improve, you'll find more nutrients to absorb, and you'll also notice over time your skin clearing up, any headaches you used to experience diminishing, and also a bit more energy in your body to get you started in the morning.
You'll also notice that by swapping to alternatives and not cutting out entire food groups will make this journey a lot easier, as you'll still be technically eat the same until you become accustomed to rye bread over white, dark chocolate over Galaxy or even almond milk in your porridge - from there you can start to phase out certain foods, for example I don't have dairy anymore unless I really feel like it (generally when it's ice-cream or birthdays when you can treat yourself), nor do I have a lot of wheat or gluten. Admittedly at first this was because both were seen as bad for the bloat and body but now I really don't crave having bread or flour based things, but of course, on those special occasions I love some butter and bread (however I do pay for it the next day as my stomach is like WHAT IS THIS?!)

In short, switch around those foods to healthier alternatives until you can phase out some all together, and you'll be on the way to long-term happy health!

What do you really crave?
Dying for a bar of milk chocolate or a big cheesy pizza? I know, I've felt it, but is it really what you want? Now I'm not saying it like Amy does to Joey on Friends when he eats the pizza - 'a moment on the lips forever on the hips' please, stop - I mean it more in terms of whether you're craving sugar, carbs, or if it's just a trigger due to how often you used to eat something.
When I first cut out chocolate, my brain was constantly telling me that I needed it but most of the time I ate it because it was there and now I had nothing to fill the whole or repress the need for sweet milky goodness. Over time this does fade but snacking on a square of dark chocolate or some almonds - even porridge if you're super hungry and need a sweet kick - will help to phase out the mental side of wanting certain foods and make the switch easier. If you want carbs, try houmous with some carrots or whip up some Sweet Potato chips, or if salty crisps are your weakness go for some olives with a meal just to balance out the craving - of course, top yourself with water as you don't want a sodium deficiency!

Thou shalt not count calories
For years we were told that calorie counting was the way forward, to only eat X amount for break lunch and dinner to lose or maintain weight, and that anything over the daily amount was bad. Now from experience I've eaten under the RDA and probably well over, but now I don't care for calorie counting as I find it more repressive and restrictive than cutting out a food group. It's way more important that you're getting a balanced diet, filled with essential nutrients that give your body a source of vitamins, minerals, proteins and carbohydrates to function properly than deciphering whether you're 'allowed' to eat it because someone once said you can't have a 600 calorie meal for dinner and be happy - eat balanced, eat in moderation, eat clean, and eat happy!

Food is fuel!
I always jabber on about using food as fuel, but it's true - your body is a living, working machine and how you fuel it makes all the difference. Eating to enhance the performance of your digestion, brain activity, energy levels and even your joints relies heavily on what you consume on a regular basis, so think about what you can do to improve or even enhance the meals you're already making. Maybe you can add in more sources of protein from grains if you're needing to feel fuller longer, or maybe that sluggish feeling you can't kick needs the help of some peppermint tea and a few days without wheat to give your digestion a break - find the foods that will make your performance shoot off the charts and leave you feeling like a new person.

Clean eating and the 80/20 rule
This links in well with using food as fuel, as clean eating has been a big movement in the rise of healthy eating over the past few years and although some might not agree with it, I've found that clean eating works perfectly fine - of course each to their own, you have to eat how your body needs to be fed! Clean eating and 80/20 work together as 80% of the time you're eating clean foods such as your vegetables, fruits, grains and proteins, and then 20% of the time you're allowing yourself a nice little treat or indulgence, which for me might be a flan or maybe some dark chocolate, but it's important to let yourself 'chill' with foods regularly otherwise you become a wee bit crazy - remember, moderation, moderation, moderation.

If it's not there, you can't eat it!
The easiest way to cut out foods you want to avoid is by removing them from your sight - now I personally found this worked for me, so when I used to go on the hunt for chocolate and we hadn't bought any on our weekly shop, I'd instead eat some grapes or have some tea instead. Torture, somewhat, but you'll be less inclined to snack or fulfil the craving if you haven't anything to feed it with.

Eat seasonally when you can
Seasonal eating might not seem practical when you want strawberries in Winter, however it is a great way to save money and be environmentally friendly! To import foods out of season from across the globe costs some serious dollar, which is why in the winter certain fruits are more expensive than they are May-September, so if you can then try to pick your fruits, vegetables and grains seasonally to make your weekly shop cheaper plus have longer lasting fresh produce!

Chug chug chug
And by chug I mean get drinking that water! We are over 60% water so keep your hydration levels up by drinking 8 glasses of water a day, plus herbal tea has be known to fill you up quickly and the various flavours qualm a range of food cravings. Keep a big bottle of water with you and keep on sipping for clearer skin, better digestion, and better energy levels!

Hopefully this has given you a head start on shifting towards a healthier lifestyle, however if you do need more tips or recipe ideas then check out the playlist below of some of my food and healthy living videos from my channel (make sure you subscribe by the way, so much quality content). Don't forget to leave some questions or types of posts you'd like to see on the blog or filmed, I'm always listening to your ideas and anything to get me in the kitchen is good for me ;) Told you it would be easy peasy.....

Do you balance a healthy lifestyle easily? What kinds of food and health posts would you like to see? Do you find healthy and clean eating habits accessible?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more. 

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Monday, 18 May 2015

Even at the ripe old age of 21 - okay, it's not so old - I feel that I have a stronger sense of life around me than I thought I did three years ago, showing truly that with time wounds heal, experiences are had, and conditions change to make you a more rounded individual than ever before.

Recently a lot of my thoughts have been ones of reflection or regret, longing and wishing, so to get my funk back on I've gone back over what I think are the 10 most important life lessons I've encountered (and hopefully get myself from downtown dismay to Uptown Funk on a sugar high)

Love exists, even after heartbreak
Whilst your first heartbreak is excruciating, it's not going to be the last time it happens to you. People will come and go in your life, leave their mark and burn it into your memory so you never forget. However, you have the ability to love yourself, to find love from your family and friends, and one day find the other half of you who will be there to make you laugh until you cry, accept your weird habits, and make all those previous to them seem momentary and stepping stones towards something better.

School is valuable but experience is greater
As much as I think that school may have held me back in some ways, it taught me many things: how to make friends, how not everyone is great at science and that's okay, that learning about death is more interesting than Russia (a real reason for me taking Philosophy over History), but I have found my involvement outside of school has built me into a better person than I could ever imagine - I have participated in events that have knocked me, inspired me, made me feel successful and a failure, but I have found that I am the version of myself I want to be from it.

Never forsake your friends
Whilst I don't have the same friends as five years ago, it's still important not to set aside those who are around you now. For instance, don't let your work consume you - take a break and see your closest friends for a few hours to let yourself become human again; also, it's important when embarking on a relationship that you don't focus all your energy on this new love, remember your friends, the ones who have always been there for a cup of tea in the times previous. Find balance between your relationships, and you'll find balance in yourself.

Looking after yourself is #1 priority
Similarly to the last point, finding balance in yourself by looking after yourself is the most essential factor this life could give you. Look after yourself by finding your happiness, nourishing yourself, elevating stress that you and the outside world puts on you, put your health and mind first over anything else. When you look back on the last year, decade, period of existence, make sure you made yourself feel complete by caring about the most important thing on Earth - you.

Food is not a punishment, nor is your body a trash can
If you're hungry, eat; if not, don't. Enjoy food and its taste, its craft and how it can make your body do amazing things. You have one body, so make sure it can work for you by eating your fruit and veg, drinking water and herbal tea, and by finding sources of nutrients from natural and homemade meals. Enjoy that cake if it makes you feel good, just make sure you feel okay doing what you do. From experience, eating (or not eating, or not eating well) things that aren't that beneficial or supportive of you - whether it's a thought you have or because you haven't discovered a love of food as a source of fuel yet - will leave you feeling contrary to your beliefs, so think about how you can positively approach food and make those meal times a dream.

Don't change or tailor yourself for anyone
Seriously, it's more effort than it's worth. You're going to find a group of people so soon who will totally accept you and allow you to be that person you always wanted to be.

We all have the same hours in the day
Cliche, but true; an hour on YouTube might seem great but you could have done that 20 minute workout you were putting off three times now. Block off time for different activities, find out what duration of the day you function best and work to your strengths at each time. Want to work at 6am? Wake up, whip up some breakfast and get typing! Fancy doing some yoga at 8pm? Go for it girl, it'll make you sleep better too! Something big and daunting may only take 10 minutes, so make it all manageable and you'll find success in your day. If all else fails, make a list. Lists are great.

Work hard, play hard, but don't burn out
Something I always need to work on, as I will work more than I have to to make sure I am performing and achieving above what I need to just in case - but in case of what? Work if it makes you feel happy, and reward yourself with some downtime - go out for dinner once a week, make yourself a nice meal, whip up a hot chocolate and sit in bed with a podcast, allow yourself to have a break - I won't tell if you don't.

Laughter solves a lot, as does crying
I cry now and again, but I haven't full on sobbed since either arguing with someone in my family, losing a friend, or when David Tennant left Doctor Who - priorities. Letting yourself just release any built up stress, pressure or fears through a good old crying session feels amazing, you feel super refreshed and you'll probably be able to reflect a lot better on what was making you feel down; similarly having a fit of belly laughs can make your endorphins soar sky high, so pop on your favourite funny film, a YouTube playlist of things you shouldn't really laugh at but are too hilarious, or reminisce over old memories with friends - get your spirits lifted & you'll be able to achieve anything!

PJs, tea and rainy days are as good as the first day as Spring
We all look forward to the first appearance of spring and summer - the intensity of the sun on our skin that warms your bones, the feeling of finally going bare-legged (can I get a whoop whoop?) and throwing on some shorts or dress is the final liberation after a long winter, but similarly snuggling down into your favourite pair of pyjamas with a cup filled of your favourite brew gives you that feeling of comfort and relaxation that you cannot beat. Throw in a quiet rainy day and you have your few hours of calm to sit back and enjoy your time alone finishing those tasks you've had on your mind for days.

What are you 10 Life Lessons? Have you learnt more from experience? What advice would you give someone who wanted to live a successful life?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more. 

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Saturday, 16 May 2015

As promised last week, I've a few extra snaps of my weekend in Clevedon to share. The seaside escape gave me a chance to immerse in some landscape photography again - something I've missed greatly since finishing my course. A moody afternoon combined with disappearing landscapes and a personal re-eneacment of One Direction's You & I video - it was filmed on the Clevedon pier don't you know? - gave me the perfect opportunity to get snapping some atmospheric image to bring back my love of photography again.

The town itself is typical South West beach style, lots of small shops and cafes for tea overlooking the pier and sea. The day we visited was quite overcast, thus creating some gorgeous atmospheric images - a photographer's dream if ever there was one. The sea and sky merged into a bleak somber shade of greige, yet the pastel painted buildings lit up the edge of the pier and guided us along to the pier to look out into the horizon.

The pier is currently going under restoration, however it's still worth the visit and the £1.80 entry to help support a community's landmark as the view is lovely (even on a dull day). It feels ever so slightly like Brighton pier when you're walking along, feeling the waves and sea air whipping up around you in the only way the cold British weather could.

I made sure to grab my Niall photo opportunity by jumping up on the benches lining the pier, however the drop right behind them put me off making too much effort in my step - it's a long way down to the rocks below...

Despite the slightly cool and damp weather, my Misguided coat (similar here, and on sale) kept everything down to my legs protected from the wind - a brilliant piece to take you through our very varied seasons at the moment, so glad I picked this up, perfect for casual exploring and making a basic outfit look fifty times more stylish - always a perk when you live in stripes and jeans!

Weekends by the sea, you can't really get much better than that can you? This definitely gave me a taste for some more beachside trips once the weather starts to brighten up more, perhaps Brighton is on the cards again - definitely need to get my pier and photography fix as soon as possible...

Are you planning any seaside trips this year? Do you like my take on 1D's music video? What's your perfect weekend at home or away?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more. 

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Friday, 15 May 2015

I tried pretty hard not to buy into the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz hype, even whilst everyone else was singing the praises of both this and the Dipbrow Pomade, I was adamant to stay either low budget or just spend that extra time working a powder into my brows for a similar effect.

Then, one dreaded day, my Sleek Brow Stylist simply broke - the wax snapped clean off and what remained was a stub that couldn't even be wound up. Traumatised as any brow lover would be, I was resigning myself to the old powder and brush when the stars at Blow Ltd swooped in to save the day, finally pulling me onto the Anastasia bandwagon (there wasn't much struggle, I welcomed beautiful brows with open arms).

How does Anastasia Brow Wiz compare then? Seeing as I was so in love with my Brow Stylist, I was interested to see how it compared in term of the nib and colour, and honestly it knocks it out the park. Yes, Sleek is an amazing dupe, but if you love your brows then you will love what Brow Wiz can do in transforming them from meh to full, thicker looking natural beauties. Mine are quite dark but gappy in areas - thanks to the over plucking, don't do it guys - so I tried out Soft Brown* on Anna's recommendation as we're similar in colouring and brow shade, and it's the perfect dark yet ashy brown; you can fill your brows in easily thanks to the incredibly thin wax nib, creating very natural light strokes which ensure you never go overboard - one thing that could happen with the Brow Stylist unfortunately.

Aside from the fact the range of colours is pretty spot on, the wax is effortless to work through the brows, plus the spoolie is an absolute dream; the brush hairs are close together so you can really shape and brush through the colour, giving an even softer edge to the overall shape and arch guaranteed to make you feel like you have brows to (closely) rival Cara Delevingne or Lily Collins - my brows have honestly never looked better, and I'm now dangerously in Anastasia's debt until the end of time.

As if it wasn't enough for Blow Ltd to introduce me to my new cult brow product, they've given you lovely lot a special discount for their website! If you pick up anything from the Fast Beauty range, just enter the code BRITTONLOVES when you spend £50 and you'll get £10 off all orders - I've spied Fairy Drops Mascara plus the new Laura Mercier Foundations, so you won't be short of things to pop in your basket - pop in some Brow Wiz for me though please?

Brows deserve some loving, and if you want to make your look spectacular whilst being easy to fill in and shape, then you need to add Anastasia Brow Wiz to your wishlist right now. Once you go Anastasia, you can never go back....

What's your favourite brow product? Have you tried Anastasia Brow Wiz?

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more. 

Website | Flickr | Tumblr | Twitter | Follow my blog with Bloglovin | Instagram | Pinterest

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