BLOGS I’M LOVING | RETRO FLAME

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There are some blogs that I read and whilst I enjoy immersing myself in their world, it is in fact just that, a totally different world. I’m not denying that I enjoy learning about their latest designer purchases but beyond that I sometimes struggle to relate to them as a reader.

Erika Fox is no such blogger. Her blog is largely focused on affordable, hight street fashion and she does a sterling job at proving that you don’t have to break the bank in order to look a million bucks.

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To my great delight she also has a YouTube channel where she produces a range of videos from vlogs and apartment tours to outfit videos. 

Originally from Ireland she is in fact living proof that if you have a dream, to move to a big city and establish a career in something you’re passionate about, then you can do just that. In fact she has produced several blog posts and Q&A videos on her experience of relocating and is always so willing to provide any information and answer any questions if you’re wanting to do something similar.

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What with her impeccable and sophisticated style and signature red hair, this lovely lady from The Emerald Isle is a shining example of what you can achieve through hard work and determination.

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So, if you’re like me and are always on the look out for a new blog to add to your reading list then I can’t recommend Retro Flame more. What’s more, if at the moment you can only dream, like I can, of moving to The Big Apple, then you can vicariously live through Erika for now.

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Zesty and Herby Green Vegetable Soup

This recipe actually came into being by accident a few Sundays ago.

I was faced with a random selection of leftover vegetables in my fridge, it was tipping it down outside and all I wanted to do was snuggle on the sofa with something warm and hearty. Aside from being very filling and comforting, this recipe is so quick and simple to make.

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Ingredients

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp mixed herbs

1 tsp vegetable stock powder

5-6 small new potatoes

1/3 cup of macaroni – or other small pasta shapes

1/2 courgette

Handful of mangetout

2 stalk black kale

1 lemon

Handful of basil

Water – enough to cover all the ingredients

Handful of frozen peas

Teaspoon of dairy-free pesto

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Mince the garlic and roughly chop the vegetables.

Add to a pan alongside the herbs, vegetable stock powder, pasta shapes, basil, enough water to cover and the juice of one lemon.

Simmer until the vegetables are cooked, only adding the frozen peas in the last 3-4 minutes.

Dish up into a bowl and add a dollop of pesto on the top.

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Lusting After: Ted Baker

If you’re ever in the market for a classic, tailored, good quality piece to add to your collection wardrobe then you should most definitely turn your attention to this reliable British brand.

CORNELA: Pleated Velvet Midi Dress

My eyes were instantly drawn to this. Perfect for a special occasion when you want to unleash your inner hollywood film star.

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NATTAA: Wool Wrap Coat

Normally I play it very safe when it comes to choosing a coat: camel, black or navy. I know some, like my Mum, would say that wearing a pale pink coat in the wet and muddy months is completely impractical but the little girl inside me can’t help but be attracted to anything pink. The belt also helps add more structure to the shape of the coat and nicely cinches you in at the waist.

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LILLOU: Bow Tie Cotton Top

This season may be all about statement sleeves, mainly bell, but this top offers a different take on this season’s trend. Dress it down with blue jeans and white plimsoles or smarten it up with fitted trousers and brogues.

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CEILYA: Frilled Cotton and Silk-Blend Roll Neck Jumper

Roll necks aren’t always revolutionary in terms of style but the frilled neck on this piece gives it a chic and dainty look.

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JULEY: Textured A-line Skirt 

For as long as I can remember, Ted Baker have been forerunners in creating the ultimate statement skirts. As beautiful and bold as they are, special occasions aside, the majority of us don’t really have any need to purchase such statement pieces.

This skirt however is a great alternative and when I first scrolled onto it I instantly thought: Chanel. Chanel-esque, with the same quality, but half the price.

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SORIKAI: Circle Lock Suede and Leather Small Cross Body Bag

Not only does the rich tan or oxblood colours of this bag scream autumn but its classic style means it’s most certainly a piece that you’ll be able to grab over and over again. I’ll take both colours please.

 

VYSTA: Colour-block Leather and Suede Trainers

I’m all about comfort when it comes to footwear, otherwise I buy a pair of shoes and they sit in my wardrobe for months because I don’t to put my feet through a round of blisters and soreness. These are a more sophisticated and chic take on the average trainer, and surprisingly, these three colours sit really well together.

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OOTW: Outfits Of The Week

Monday was all about the layers.

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Shirt: Fat Face [similar here]

T-shirt: GAP

Scarf: ZARA [similar here]

Trousers: GAP [similar here]

Boots: Gabor

Tuesday wrapped myself up in this oversized jumper all day.

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Shirt: H&M [similar here]

Jumper: ZARA

Jeans: M&S

Shoes: Converse

Wednesday finally cold enough to wear my gilet.

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Jumper: ZARA

Shirt: GAP

Jeans: GAP

Gilet: Mint Velvet

Boots: Gabor

Thursday nothing exciting to see here:  jeans, shirt and flats.

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Shirt: GAP [similar here]

Jeans: M&S

Shoes: Dune

Coat: Next – This coat is upwards of 4 years old, so no chance of it being available anymore.

Friday smartened up jeans and sweatshirt with this patterned coat.

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Jumper: GAP [similar here]

Jeans: GAP

Coat: ZARA. Yes, that is this coat.

Shoes: Clarks [similar here]

The theme of this week was most definitely comfort. I was just having one of those weeks where I felt bleh all week.

 

 

Everyday Makeup Routine

Now, in an ideal world I would have someone here to help take artsy shots of me doing my makeup and proper close ups. I live alone and only have two hands so alas there will be no fancy shots here, but instead a simple honest breakdown of the products I use and tips I’ve picked up over the years.

I also struggle with extremely poor lighting in my flat, wood panels, parquet floor and brown bathroom tiles are not ideal when trying to achieve good lighting! The before and after pictures were taken in the same light so that the true effect of the makeup can be seen.

Products:

Baby wipes

Estée Lauder Double Wear in sand

Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Flawless Wear Concealer in light/medium

No7 Perfect Loose Power in translucent

Real Techniques Powder Brush 1401

The Body Shop Honey Bronze Bronzing Powder 

Estée Lauder brush – part of a gift set

No7 Match Made Powder Blush in peony mist

Estée Lauder Eye Shadow Palette – part of the free gift set that I received years ago so it isn’t actually for sale.

Benefit Gimme Brow Volumising Brow Gel in medium

Benefit They’re Real Mascara  in black

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I always tie my hair up and put a hair band on: This avoids getting makeup in my hair and ensures I blend my foundation right to the edges of my face.

Having applied my moisturiser and primer, onto the back of my hand I squirt roughly three or four pumps of Estée Lauder Doublewear. 

This foundation really does provide flawless coverage, but it is requires a lot of blending in to ensure it is evenly distributed over the skin and there are no dark patches. I also always take it down to the base of my neck too as no one wants the classic jaw bone foundation line.

I then apply concealer to my under eyes and over any patches that need extra coverage. I have quite a few acne scars that need more than just foundation to cover them.

At this point I use a baby wipe to wipe any excess foundation off the back of my hands, from my eyebrows and my lips. Then I wash my hands properly with soap and water as this prevents me from getting foundation over all my makeup products.

To set my foundation I apply loose powder all over my face and then (attempt) to lightly contour my face using bronzer and the Estée Lauder brush. I’ve only recently tried my hand at contouring and as such have yet to buy a suitable brush, but a tip I’ve learned is to push the sides of the brush into a thinner shape (see below) as this simulates the look of a line. After this I apply blush to the balls of my cheeks but make sure to sweep it across the cheeks.

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I then apply a lighter shade of eyeshadow to my lids, two small dots in both corners of my eyes and a little sweep under my bottom lashes to brighten my face up a bit.

All that’s left is to apply my mascara and brow gel. Both of the Benefit products I use on my brows and lashes are incredible. My brows stay in place all day and the mascara is the only one I’ve found that doesn’t drop during the course of the day.

BEFORE                                            AFTER

 

BEFORE                                                 AFTER

BEFORE                                            AFTER

I hope this was relatively useful, and if not at least you can join me and laugh at the fact that I have voluntarily put pictures of myself in my worst state on the Internet for all to see: No bra, no makeup and baggy pjs!

Diet Update

It’s two years since I went pescatarian and for the past seven months my diet has been around 90% plant based. I say 90% because there are times when a friend has taken me out for afternoon tea or my granny has forgotten and cooked me a piece of salmon along with everyone else. I’ll be honest, in those situations I don’t have the heart to decline what has been so lovingly placed in front of me. I’d much rather spare someone else’s feelings than my own.

I’ve always been fascinated by this way of eating and have spent hour upon hour watching countless YouTube videos, Netflix documentaries and reading books – How Not To Die being my bible. It’s hard not to be lured in by the glowing and radiant appearance of people who eat a healthy plant based diet. They look and say that they feel phenomenal. And I agree, they look great and seem to have such a zest for life.

So I decided to see what it was all about. I’ve never enjoyed eating meat and dairy wasn’t hard as I’ve been lactose intolerant on and off all my life but eggs and fish are where I struggle. Of course, this is made easier nowadays by the plethora of vegan substitutes now available. Linda McCartney sausages are my all time favourite and Alpro Soy Vanilla Ice Cream is better than the real thing in my opinion. That being said, I started this journey in order to become a healthier version of my former self so I don’t eat these things on a regular basis.

When I first started I fell into the trap of thinking that I could eat endless amounts of anything as long as it was wholegrain, cue the two bread rolls (with dairy free butter and jam) as an afternoon snack, the midnight snack bowls of all-bran cereal with handful upon handful of raisins. I gained weight. Not a tremendous amount but my jeans that once were loose were now snugger than ever. I also didn’t feel particularly great either, didn’t have a lot of energy and felt like nothing could satisfy my never ending hunger.

That’s when I decided to properly put my mind to it and read the advice of qualified scientists and nutritionists. Enter the likes of Dr Michael Greger, Dr Neal Barnard, Dr McDougall. Their theories and research are astounding, I challenge anyone to not read one of their books and not feel compelled to make a change, no matter how big or small. Thanks to their guidance and knowledge I’ve now managed decipher what foods work for me and what don’t. I eat a lot of leafy veggies, potatoes, beans and pulses, nuts and oats. I tend to steer clear of bread and white pasta as they don’t really satiate me and as a result I could probably eat a family size serving of pesto pasta in one sitting and not think anything of it.

There is something else that I wanted to touch on: Animal welfare. I didn’t feel I could write this post and overlook the primary reason most people choose to stop consuming animal products. Whilst I genuinely find the idea of eating another living thing somewhat repulsive, it’s sometime easy to forget that side of it when you’re presented with it to eat. I know that probably doesn’t make a lot of sense for some people, I doesn’t really for me now I’ve said it out loud. I would never call myself a vegan because besides from the few occasions I eat fish and eggs, I wear leather and I can’t guarantee that every beauty product I own hasn’t been tested on animals. I think it’s unrealistic to suddenly dive in head first with a change as radical as this one and I don’t think it’s right that people are chastised by hardcore vegans because they wear leather. Instead people should be praised, as any change, big or small, towards living a life free of animal products should be celebrated.

I commend people who suddenly decide to commit to not consuming animal products anymore, that’s really an amazing feat. Of course if I really wanted to do it then I could, there’s nothing stopping me. However I know myself, and I know the best way for me to stick to something is not to rush into anything, and instead slowly incorporate it into my life so that it’s sustainable in the long term. No one knows you better than you, so always do what’s right for you and don’t be discouraged by anyone else’s comments or feel that you have to label yourself.

So, onto a lighter note: What changes have I noticed within myself?

  • Stronger nails
  • Shiny, thick hair
  • Clearer skin – this isn’t to say that I still don’t get spots but they’re a lot less angry and frequent
  • Improved energy levels. I am no longer a victim of the classic 3pm blood sugar level sump.
  • Eating a wider variety of foods
  • Cooking a wider variety of recipes
  • Lower food bills. Think about it, a £0.46 tin of kidney beans vs £3.50 for a chicken breast.

 

What I eat:

Breakfast

Oats: Microwaved // Baked // Overnight // Homemade museli // Stovetop

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Flaxseed/cinnamon/cacao powder/nutmeg

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Banana, grated apple, berries, nectarine, raisins, pear, plum, peach, dates, courgette*

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Water, almond milk, coconut and almond milk, oat milk

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Agave nectar, golden syrup, coconut sugar, choc shot

*If I’m feeling extra peckish then I add grated courgette to bulk up my oats, extra greens and you can’t even taste it.

A combination of all of these things form my breakfast 95% of the time. Other breakfast items I reach for are:

Toast + dairy-free butter// jam/marmalade // almond butter/banana // avocado/tomato

Fruit salad and yoghurt

Parfait – yoghurt + granola + fruit

Lunch

Leftovers

Salad: Lettuce, cucumber, pepper, radish, beetroot, spring onion, sweetcorn, apple, any leftover veggies

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Starch/Carbohydrate : White potato, sweet potato, quinoa, brown rice, white rice, couscous, buckwheat, pearl barley

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Protein: Beans (borlotti, cannellini, kidney, black), chickpeas, tofu, falafel

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Dressing: Balsamic/mustard, hummus, dairy-free mayo, white wine vinegar

Dinner

Stir-fry // Stew // Lentil casserole // Nourish bowl // Curry // Veggie Pie // Sausages and mash // Chilli // Burrito bowl // Soup //

On the whole I try to keep my diet pretty clean, i.e. not eating a lot of processed foods – during the week anyway, weekends are a different matter entirely ;). As such, I use ingredients in their whole, natural state and incorporate them into making veggie/vegan twists on the classics i.e. Veggie shepherd’s pie, lentil casserole, bean chilli etc.

I’ve included some snaps from my foodie Instagram account for your perusal.

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If anyone has any questions/is more curious about my transition so far then please ask away. I almost wish I had been able to ask someone questions when I was considering eating a more plant based diet.

Also – if anyone has any blogs/vegan foodie websites that they turn to then please let me know, I’m always on the hunt for new recipes.

Empties

I’ll be honest, blogging when you’re on a budget is tough.

There was a time when I would idle my money away on the latest trends and beauty fads but reality struck and I was suddenly faced with having to pay rent over spending £60 on the latest moisturiser. In the spirit of this I decided that instead of writing a post based on my non-existent latest purchases I would turn the focus on products that I’ve recently run out of. I seemed to run out of lots of things in a small amount of time over the past few weeks, does that happen to anyone else?!

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  1. First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads

This isn’t the first, nor will it be the last time I sing the praises of these exfoliation pads. Gentle but effective, these pads manage to get every last scrap of makeup off my face – even when I think I’ve washed it all off.

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2. Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm

In the realm of beauty wonders I feel that this product has fallen at the wayside somewhat. It is barely spoken of today but was all the range two or three years ago. I have stuck with it though as it melts even the toughest foundation, Estée Lauder Double Wear I’m talking about you, straight off your face.

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3. Body Shop Aloe Soothing Night Cream

This is another product that I’ve been using for years and years. It isn’t oily or sticky on but gentle and soothing on the skin. Absorbs really well and doesn’t leave you feeling like you don’t want to put your face on your pillow, no one wants that after a long day at the office.

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4. Body Shop Seaweed Oil Balancing Toner

The fact that the bottle I have is the old version of this product is testament to just how long it lasts. The minute this hits your skin you can instantly feel its cooling and soothing properties.  I tend to use this first thing in the morning if I don’t wash my face straightaway or after a workout to wipe away droplets of, well, sweat (there’s no pleasant way of saying that).

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5. Batiste Dry Shampoo Tropical – Coconut & Exotic

Firstly, the smell of this is d-i-v-i-n-e. I honestly buy this specific type just for the smell alone. There are times when I’ve used this in the morning and forgotten to put perfume on but you wouldn’t know thanks to this.

Smell aside, this product is the ultimate life saver for adding a bit of volume, and removing a bit of grease, from my hair.

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6. Benefit Gimme Brow

This will revolutionise any otherwise naked and scant brow. I know some find it on the pricey side for such a small amount of product but it’s just phenomenal. It’s long lasting and as well as giving my brows definition and volume I also find that it sets them in place for the day.

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Now to decide which one of these I can’t live without the most and go on a little Boots trip…