Monday, 25 November 2013

Don't know what cha got until it's gone

Isn't it funny how you don't realise how good something is until you stop using it? The old saying " You don't know what you got until it's gone" is very true of two products for me at the moment. Last summer I bought my first bottle of Argan Oil after reading about it everywhere. Now in the last 18 months the market has really exploded with argan/morrocan oil and you would have had to live under a rock to have not seen or heard of it.

I wrote a blog post about the one that I bought from Boots last summer, and the bottle lasted ages and only ran out about 6 weeks ago. I used to use a couple of pumps on wet hair and then again when my hair was dry and styled. It was only when I ran out and stopped using it I realised just how much good it was doing my hair. My hair started to feel dry and I was finding it harder to get a comb through it and it was snapping quite a bit. So credit where credit is due, Argan oil you did a pretty good job.

I was out shopping and nipped into Boots and was looking around the hair care section. I wanted to buy a new bottle and ended up looking at all the big name versions of the oil. Argan oil seems to be in everything now. I walked back and forth between one product and another and couldn't decide on which one I was going to get. I finally settled on a Schwatzkopf Got2b oil-licious, it comes in sweet little 50ml bottle and I paid in the region of £4 for the bottle because I didn't want to fork out £13 for another bottle of what I had last time. Yes I was trying to be cheap, and it serves me right that I got stung, because I do not like this stuff at all!

From the first use I wasn't all that keen, but I wanted to give it a fair go before judging. I have been using it for about a month now and I am no more impressed with it now than I was after the first use. I don't want to sound like all I am doing is bashing this product, because I am sure there will be people out there who like it, each to their own and all that.

Firstly I am not keen on the smell of the product, so that instantly put me off. But of course you can't smell it on your hair so it's no reason to not use it. Fragrance aside, I just don't find the oil to do a very good job, the effect on the health of my hair is marginal, I use quite a lot at a time because a little does not go a long way with this product. The teeny 50ml bottle is going to run out pretty quick at the rate I am using it, so it is nowhere near the value for money that my original Argan oil purchase was. The other thing I am not a fan of is the bright amber colour of the oil, although it looks very pretty (having said that, I thought the oil would be clear and it was just the packaging that was amber) I have light blonde hair and it worries me to use something so coloured on it because I think it might make my hair colour look a little brassy.

My last point is that is just doesn't seem to absorb into my hair like the other oil did. I am always left with a film on the palm of my hand, no matter how many times I run my hands through my hair which I didn't used to get. My hair never seems as smooth when I have finished styling it and still always looks a little dry.

Dissapointing, I guess I should have just stuck with my original find rather than trying to save a few quid!

Ah well, lesson learned.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Cooking Up a Storm

I am gathering up my ingredients to make a vegetarian shepherds pie for dinner tonight. Shepherds pie is one of my all time favourite meals, so we will see how this veggie version measures up.

It has lots of healthy and tasty ingredients like lentils and beans, as well as using sweet potato and parsnip for the mash topping instead of just normal potato.

stories of an english rose

So I got myself set up in the kitchen with all of my ingredients and got started. The first thing I have to say about this recipe is that it involves a lo-ooooot of chopping. The leeks, carrots and mushrooms all have to be finely chopped, as does the garlic and the herbs. I am generally not a patient cook so this part of the recipe did bug me a little. 

It's quite a tasty dish, but I wasn't blown away by it, for me I felt that the flavour of Worcestershire sauce was quite strong and I'm not a massive fan of that. The sweet potato and parsnip mash on the other hand was so yummy.

stories of an english rose

Sorry this picture is so fuzzy, it was dark by the time is was cooked and I don't have great lighting indoors. If you are vegetarian, cutting down on meat or looking for some healthy meal ideas then this is worth a try. It is very filling and is full of fibre, just beware if you are not keen of Worcestershire sauce. 

This is a Lorraine Pascale recipe and if you would like to give it a whirl yourself here is the link.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Favourite Nail Polish

So it's the 1st of November! Not sure how that happened, this year has gone past so quickly. But it is officially mulled wine season now, and Christmas is just around the corner, it's so close I can taste it!

Back to the subject, I decided to blog about my all time favourite nail polish. I love trying different colours and have quite a lot of nail polish but for some reason I always tend to fall back on 3 colours that I absolutely love.

I find it a little amusing that I have just been harping on about how it is officially mulled wine season and I couldn't have picked 3 more spring time shades!

Beside the fact that I find these pastel colours so beautiful and cute, there are other reasons as to why they are my go to colours. I am a massive fan of OPI, most of my polish is by the brand and I love their colour range and how the polish goes on and lasts, so that is two good reasons why I wear these a lot. The other reason is that they are all pale colours so therefore can go on in a rush without me making too much of a mess, I can slap these on without too much thought and don't have to worry about how they will look or have to concentrate too hard to ensure I don't get the colour everywhere. 

I do love dark colours, but I don't like dark colours when I am short of time or I'm not in the mood for the long haul. I find dark polish is a time commitment, you need to have time and patience and be willing to sit down and take a while to paint your nails right. We all know that rushing a dark colour equals streaks, and flooded cuticles which is not a good look.

The 3 pastel colours can go on in one thin coat if I am in a real rush and will still look good but dry fast, and if I do get a little that has run onto the skin it won't be too noticeable until I can clear it up.

OPI Lucky Lucky Lavender

So first up is Lucky Lucky Lavender by OPI, such a pretty pastel lilac shade that looks so gorgeous when on. I wear this colour a lot and have had a lot of compliments on it, it is lovely for spring and summer and I just love it.

OPI Pinking Of You

Next is Pinking of You by OPI, this pale pink colour is so cute and versatile. I have had this for over 3 years now and have worn it so many times. I can pop on one coat for a really sheer and subtle look, it kind of gives a french polish look to your nails, or layer up a couple of coats for a really candy floss pink that looks amazing. 

Essie mint candy apple

Lastly is Mint Candy Apple by Essie, this is the newest of the three for me. I got this just over a year ago but have worn it countless amounts of times and always get compliments on how pretty it is when I wear it. I am slightly obsessed with mint green, it is my favourite colour so I was so happy to have a nail polish in this shade. What is not to love, it is such a super cute colour!! Essie nail polish goes on like a dream as well, and lasts for ages, and honestly you will usually only need one coat of this and it looks great without any streaks.

So that sums it up, my 3 all time faves. What are your favourties?

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Cozy Autumn Things

It has once again been a while since I have blogged, I am so busy at work I am just too tired to think about doing anything when I get home.

I am having a well earned break this week, I have been feeling a little run down and really need this time to just rest and build up my energy again. I am alone for the most part because B/F could only take one day, so I will be spending my time chilling out, watching T.V and catching up with some of my fave blogs and youtube channels. Not all that exciting really but it's just what I need right now.

It's the time of year I am thankful to be indoors curled up with a hot drink and a candle burning, the weather has been a bit depressing the last couple of days, so I was happy to have discovered a couple of winter tea's when I was wandering around the supermarket at the weekend, I wanted some nice hot drinks to have at home and saw Twinnings had a cherry and cinnamon tea and a camomile and spiced apple and snapped them up. I have since tried both, I am not so keen on the spiced apple and camomile, but the cherry and cinnamon is lovely. It is a perfect cold season drink with a hint of Christmas and great for giving me a hit of sweetness to try and stop me attacking the biscuits.

I am off to watch a film now and snuggle up with the little dog on the sofa.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Hello, is it time?

It's a funny time of year. Although it is still August which is officially a summer month, the early mornings could be mistaken for autumn. About 6.30am when I open the door to let Tino (little fluffy chihuahua) run outside and I step out on the decking to check there are no foxes loitering in the garden eyeing him up for their breakfast, there is a mist lingering over the garden and everything seems so incredibly peaceful. At that moment in time I get a flash back to autumn mornings when I was little and it gives me a comforting feeling as I blow "smoke" from my mouth into the crisp air like an excited child!

That autumn morning feeling soon fades away as the sun starts breaking through and burns off the whimsical mist revealing warmer weather, but the feeling inside me still remains.......... it's coming; my favourite time of year is on its way!

stories of an english rose

stories of an english rose

I know we don't tend to have a long hot summer in this country, but the weather has been warm for the most part since May, and I always find that by this time of year I start to grow excited about the prospect of colder weather, dark evenings and all that it brings. I love winter clothes, tights, boots and coats and enjoy wrapping up before heading outdoors. I adore cozy nights where the darkness surrounds you and the season begs for you to cook comforting meals and drink copious amounts of hot chocolate piled up with soft peaks of whipped cream and marshmallows. 

There is something about Autumn and Winter that encourages more time to be spent with friends and family, and traditions that make your heart smile. There is so much to look forward to, Halloween, Bonfire night and Christmas, and all those beautiful moments and memories that you can create. I hope you are all looking forward to it as much as I am!


Yes I am aware it is still August and the sun is now shining brightly outside, so I will move back to more current seasonal topics and wrap up the winter chat and place it in a little box until another day (not too far away).

It is a beautiful day, it's warm with a little breeze that is wafting the smell of lavender in from the garden and I am listening to the soothing sound of the water fountain. So I am off to live in the moment for a little while and drink this in the sunshine:

stories of an english rose

Have a beautiful summers day everyone!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Bank Holiday

And finally the sun comes out on our bank holiday weekend! I wanted to take a quiet moment this morning to sit and feel the warmth of the sun on my back and sip on a cup of coffee. Feeling that heat take over your body when the sun comes out to play is a rare pleasure and it has a way of making you feel incredibly relaxed and takes over your body like someone giving you a long and comforting hug.

It's also very nice to see the sun come peeping out from behind the clouds as there was nothing but rain after rain after rain on Saturday, the sort that billows down on every exterior surface and sounds like a thousand stampeding horses and all you can do is watch from the safety of your home for the fear you could possibly drown if you dare to walk outside! The rain was actually relentless and as I watched from inside as the pond started to reach the point of overflow and the fish would have been swimming around the garden, I was blissfully unaware of what was happening outside the safety of my four walls. My local area was becoming a bit of a disaster zone and reservoir, and brook banks were bursting sending water flooding everywhere.

Later Saturday night I saw the pictures of  flooded underpasses and people losing their cars under feet of water, and I felt the little tingle in the back of my throat as I realised the rain had caused a lot of damage to some peoples homes and businesses.

I'm sure the sun is being welcomed by a lot of the locals right now, even more so than usual.

It's funny how so often it takes something bad to happen before you appreciate what you have to be grateful for, and the simple things can put a smile on your face. I am smiling as I write this because I have glanced up at a vase of beautiful peach coloured rose that are just beginning to bloom. They represent love and appreciation to me because they were given to me by my boyfriend at the airport after I had spent a few days in Glasgow for work. He missed me and I missed him, and his thoughtfulness means more to me than he could ever understand because I wasn't lucky enough to have that at all in my past relationship, so I really don't take it for granted at all now because I honestly never thought I would have a love like this.

So for all of you reading this today, stop for a brief moment and think about some of things you are lucky enough to have, friends, a loving family, a beautiful relationship, freedom, and now spare a thought for those out there who aren't fortunate enough to have those things.

Enjoy the rest of your bank holiday guys!

stories of an english rose

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Fruity Pedicure

I have the day off and my toe nails were in need of painting as I managed to smudge my last pedi after putting shoes on too soon after polishing!

I wanted to do something summery because for some reason the last few days at work I have felt very autumn/winter and I have to keep reminding myself that it is still August.

I gathered together some bright nail bits and began a fruity little number : )

nail art, stories of an english rose

I grabbed Strawberry Margarita by OPI, I love this colour it's so bright and tropical, some NSI nail glitters in green and yellow, some fruit fimo canes and a striper (I didn't end up using this though)

I gave my nails a couple of coats of polish to get a nice even bright colour, I then sprinkled a little of the green and yellow glitter on the corner of my big toe nail where I was going to place the fruit slices. Lastly I arranged a couple of the fruit slices to the corner of the big toenails and capped it with some clear gel to keep it all in place. Instead of using gel you could use a good quality top coat and put on a couple of coats or else the fimo will come off too easily.

Voila, a simple fruity pedicure!

fruity nail art, stories of an english rose

Sorry it's not really close up, but to be honest I don't think anyone wants to see my feet in that much detail so I saved your eyes ; )

fruity nail art, stories of an english rose

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Wash Off Body Lotion

By now you must have seen the TV adverts for Nivea's new in shower body moisturiser. I know it seems like a crazy idea, a body cream you wash off!
I was a little confused at how this was going to work, I thought it was going to be like a shower gel that was supposed to be really rich. It isn't at all what you think, you are supposed to wash with a shower gel as normal then slather on this rich creamy lotion and rinse it off and voila, no need for any body cream!

It looks just like a normal white shower gel and feels like a normal shower gel when you rub it onto your skin, only it doesn't lather. It rinses off really easily and you don't even notice the product until you get out of the shower and have dried off and your skin feels like it would after a body lotion has sunk in. It is a clever little product, it makes moisturising your whole body quick and mess free, and you don't have to wait around for body lotion to sink in before getting dressed! And if you're anything like me, it saves you slopping cream all over the carpet.

It smells typically Nivea, same as their usual lotions and potions, is enriched with almond oil and really does make your skin feel lovely and smooth. Just don't try using it to shave your legs....... it just clogs up your razor.

nivea wash off body lotion
nivea wash off body lotion, stories of an english rose

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Disappointing Hair Masque

hair masque

A couple of weeks ago I picked up a tub of Pantene 2 min deep shine masque for about £2.69 because it was on special offer. I have noticed that my hair was feeling quite dry from about mid length down so wanted something I could use every wash to boost it a little. The product is for fine hair so it shouldn't weigh my hair down and make it really flat, I have used it every time I have washed my hair for the last four washes now and always leave it on for a little longer than 2 mins as well. It smells gorgeous, and the fragrance really grabs onto my hair and sticks around for ages, but it has just done nothing for my hair at all. It has made it look and feel no better than if I had used a normal surface conditioner : (

More than a little underwhelmed to say the least, maybe it would be better for someone who's hair isn't so dry and just wanted to give their hair a little treat.

Sorry Pantene, I won't be purchasing again.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Peaches and Clean

As much as I am a massive fan of soap and glory, I didn't choose to buy their cleanser to try it. I was quite happy using my No 7 hot cloth cleanser, but I ran out of that and am way too lazy so I didn't trundle off and buy any more so I dug out a bottle of peaches and clean I got in a Christmas hamper.

I am so glad I did though because I loved it from the very first time I used it, I love the peachy fragrance, how soft it leaves my skin, and the fact that it doesn't dry my skin out at all. My skin has responded really well to it actually, better than it ever did with the No 7 cleanser so I feel like it was actually quite lucky that I was too lazy to go and get another cleanser, or I might have never discovered how much I love this one!

It says in the description to pay extra attention to massaging it into problem areas, I always make sure I work it into my nose and chin really well as it is supposed to unblock and minimize pores. I have noticed a difference in my nose, it does seem to tighten pores a little bit and it works without making the skin on my nose peel as some other products have done in the past.

cleanser, soap and glory, peaches and clean

I was starting to run out of my new beloved product and had looked in the soap and glory section of 2 different branches of Boots and couldn't find any, so I began to wonder if it had been discontinued. I checked on the soap and glory website and it was still available so I hit a massive Boots in a shopping center to see if they had it and it wasn't there either. By chance I decided to wander down to the skincare section and it was there! 
Yes you may be thinking what an idiot I am for not checking there sooner, but I honestly thought that all soap and glory products were together, so it hadn't occurred to me to check anywhere else! So just in case you are thinking of trying this little gem, it will be with the skincare : )

Boots sell this in 200ml bottles for £8.00, I think it is well worth it.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Perfect Picnic Day

A few weeks ago I had a whole weekend off when the weather was beautiful, I spent the Saturday strolling around the shops and doing a little sunbathing, and froglet hunting in the garden. My pond has been alive with tiny little frogs and toads and they are adorable, and I have no idea why, but I find them fascinating, and love crouching round the pond trying to spot the little critters and letting them jump up and sit on my hand. 

The Sunday was reserved for my boyfriend and I to hike up to the local park and have a picnic and spend some time together. I wanted to make the picnic special and memorable, so I needed to make it look impressive.

I hit Marks and Spencer's for some posh picnic food, a sliced chorizo selection, sweet and sticky prawns, olives and anti-pasti, salmon and prawn terrine, a lovely loaf of cheese topped bread and a little bit of brie. I returned home to prepare the food and decided to display the meat, prawns and cheese on a wooden chopping board, decant the olives into a mini jar and put the salad into 2 kilner style jars to make it all look pretty.

We loaded it all up into some cool bags and strolled up to the park where I insisted that my boyfriend didn't look as I displayed the spread onto my new picnic blanket, he was very impressed with the effort I had put into the food and couldn't wait to get stuck in. 

It was an amazing afternoon and we enjoyed a little bit of music and a bottle of rose whilst laying in the sun stuffing our faces with yummy things! It's funny how something so simple can be turned into something special and amazing with a little effort to make it look pretty.

romantic picnic

Sunday, 4 August 2013

New Shoes

I bought a fab new pair of summery shoes I thought I would share with you. They had been calling to me for such a long time when I was walking to and from work so I finally tried them on and loved how they looked but also how comfy they were.

They are currently on sale at Marks and Spencer for £29.99 and they have lovely padding on the sole so they are super soft to stand on.

marks and spencer shoes

They are a really nice colour for summer and have the lovely cork looking heels, and pretty gold studs around the platform. I am really happy with them and have discovered how amazing Marks and Spencer's shoes are. They do half sizes and wider fit shoes but they are still trendy, so you don't have to sacrifice comfort for style Yay!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Magazine Subscriptions Rant

Now this is a little rant about something that has been bugging me for the last week. Last year I signed up for a yearly subscription with In Style magazine, I wasn't an avid reader of this magazine before but I was seduced into signing up because at the time they were offering £40 of Illamasqua make-up as a signing up gift. It does say in the small print that they gift is first come first served, so needless to say I didn't receive it. Disappointing, as I would have really loved it, but I signed up for 3 other reasons:

a) That I would get the magazine at a cheaper price
b) that it would come straight to my door every month
c) that it would guarantee that if there was an awesome freebie on the front I would get it.

So when I read in last months magazine that they were giving away a full sized Nails Inc polish I was really excited to receive mine! You can imagine my dissapointment when my magazine turned up this month WITHOUT the nail polish. The packaging was all sealed so it hadn't fallen out or been stolen, so I was left wondering what had happened. I decided to email IPC subscriptions to find out. I was shocked at their reply:

"In answer to your query regarding the covermount gifts that you have seen in store.  We do try to keep this to a minimum, but throughout the year we are approached by outside companies who want to advertise within InStyle; and request to insert covermounts/supplements in selected copies.  Due to the cost involved these are usually limited to small areas and sometimes specific stores.  If the company concerned are not prepared to cover the costs we are not in a position to insert these into our subscription copies. 

We are pleased to confirm though that the nails inc. nail varnish is to be included for our subscribers and this will be posted out to you within the next 2 weeks. "

So this raises two questions, firstly, if the polish was to be included for subscribers then why did my magazine turn up without it, because I am not convinced that they posted out a nail polish separately to every subscriber when they could have included it within the magazine packaging. So if you are a subscriber of this magazine, did you receive your polish? I honestly think that had I not emailed to complain I would have never received a nail polish at all!

Secondly, I am a loyal customer of the magazine, so why am I denied the free gifts they give away? This seems incredibly unfair and I am really annoyed about it. All magazine readers know it's a lovely little bonus when your magazine has a freebie attached to the front, it clearly helps the magazine fly off the shelves as well, often to people who may not even read it normally and will never buy it again until there is something else free with it.

They choose to take away the free gift from their subscribers who read their magazine every month, when we are really the ones that deserve a little thank you for being loyal customers!

What are your thoughts on this?

Nails Inc

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Special Hair Styles

I have been off doing a hair and make-up trial this sunny morning for one of my August brides. The trial went really well and Sam, the bride picked out a lovely low bun for herself and a side bun for her bridesmaids. They are going to look so beautiful!

Hairz n Graces

Hairz n Graces

Hairz n Graces

hairz n graces

hairz n graces

Have a lovey Bank holiday weekend everyone!