Style: Delicate Silver Jewellery

I've been searching for some simple silver jewellery for months and I can't believe it's taken me so long to check out the offerings on Etsy. For my birthday last year, I got these gorgeous pieces from Elephantine, and this afternoon, I've added a few more of Rachel's beautiful pieces to my wish list.

I like to wear simple silver jewellery to the office - currently my Links Sweetie bracelet and Tiffany teardrop necklace - but I want to add a couple of rings to the mix. Nothing I've seen has been small enough (I want some tiny, delicate bands) but good old Etsy has saved the day. I now just need to decide which to buy!

FavorJewelry Sterling Silver Droplet Rings (sold separately), £10.47

Oh, and a bracelet for good measure!

What kind of jewellery do you like to wear?


Body: Running

You don't have to go far to find someone whose list of new year's resolutions includes a commitment to exercise more. Over the past eight months, I've steadily built up a running routine which I've grown to love, and last week, I was so looking forward to heading out after work that even the wind and rain didn't put me off! It made me realise how far I've come in such a short time, and for those of you thinking about running in the new year, I can't encourage you more.

The trick is to start gently and build up your pace and distance over time. Although it can be frustrating, you won't be able to run a marathon overnight, so stick with it! There are countless running guides out there but this is a great place to start. I'm not a big fan of training with someone else, but Twitter has proved a great motivator. The fab ladies of the unofficial Twitter running club - @DANRIPEL, @NotesByJo, @LouOHare and @LdBackSecretary - are always there to motivate whenever I feel like skipping a session: thanks girls!

Starting to run outside at this time of the year can be challenging: it's tricky to motivate yourself when it's cold and dark, so a good playlist is imperative! Here are a few of my favourites that keep me going even when the rain's pouring. Saying that, if it starts snowing, just pass the Quality Street...

Drake ft. Rihanna - Take Care

Swedish House Mafia - One (Your Name)

Rihanna ft Calvin Harris - We Found Love

Cygnus X - Superstring

Kaskade ft DeadMau5 - Move for Me

Protoculture - Sun Gone Down

What are your favourite tracks to keep you motivated?


Inspiration: Colour Pop

Looking back on blog posts past, I've noticed a theme: everything is dark and dreary: bad Rachel. Perhaps that's suited my mood a bit this year, but 2012 needs to start with a pop, and to be specific, a colour pop! In future, you have permission to call me out when I slip into my 'but I love wearing black' comfort zone!

So, here goes: whack on your sun glasses for a little bit of my 2012 style and interiors inspiration:

Mary Katranzou's entire A/W 2011 show

Because this woman does colour and clashing like nobody else

Graham & Green and Missoni Home

I really can't justify £295 on a floor cushion, but if I stick to my resolutions, I may be making my own :)

Brights in the Boardroom

Because next year, black just ain't cutting it. This cute Christopher Kane number will keep everyone awake in even the most boring of meetings!

I'd team it with some beautiful blue jewellery like this YSL ring...

And then when the headache kicked in from all that colour, I'd check myself into the Amangiri resort in Utah to swathe myself in the comfort blanket of neutrality!

How beautiful does that resort look? I need to win the lottery...

Images: Christopher Kane dress and YSL ring - net-a-porter.com, Amangiri resort - amanresorts.com, Missoni cushion - amara.com, Graham & Green chair - grahamandgreen.co.uk, Mary Katranzou runway - style.com


Style: Winter Sale Shopping - What I *Hope* To Buy

Boxing day sales. The traffic's a nightmare, the queues are even worse, and the rails are packed with all the things you gasped at in horror the previous season. So what is it that lures me there, year on year? Well, last year, I made a breakthrough and now, I find myself excitedly wondering what I'll get my hands on this time around.

But as we know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, so this year, I thought it'd be fun to pull together a list of things I hope to buy, and then compare it with what I actually come back with. This could either be a triumph of good planning which will leave me smugly satisfied, utterly depressing when I return with nothing, or a complete eye-opener/waste of money when I buy the opposite of what I thought I wanted.

So, here goes:


Last year, I got a fabulous pair of Goldsign skinnies which I've lived in for the past 12 months. I got them from Selfridges for £100 (down from £265 - bargain). It'll be the first stop for me this year and I'm hoping for a pair from Hudson, Paige, Citizens of Humanity, Goldsign or Mother.

Paige jeans: selfridges.com

A Bit of Leather

I love me some leather. My beloved Theory shorts and ASOS trousers get far more outings than is appropriate for someone who isn't a member of a Whitesnake tribute band, and I'm looking to add to the collection. Zara have a couple of beautiful soft leather jackets at the moment, which I've tried on more times than I can count. Something always holds me back, so if I can pick up one that looks like a good buy, I may just be tempted. A well tailored dress and some studded accessories will never be turned down either.

Leather jacket: zara.com

Some Classic Courts

As I work in quite a formal office, a good pair of black heels never go amiss. They're not especially exciting, but give me enough height on the heel, and I can't argue with a classic. I'm not sure I'll be buying Louboutins, but I feel obliged to give you something pretty to look at :)

Black Louboutins: net-a-porter.com

And Something Showy

Some days, the black shoes just don't cut it, and who doesn't need a bit of Charlotte Olympia in their life?

Satin Charlotte Olympia pumps: net-a-porter.com


My style in the office is generally very tailored. I like an elegant, hourglass silhouette, and tend to favour pencil skirts and dresses, or sharply cut suits. Zara, LK Bennett and Whistles are my favoured workwear destinations, and I'm hoping to stock up on some chic dresses to take me through to summer.

Davina dress: lkbennett.com

A Cute Clutch

I'm desperate for a new clutch that's big enough to hold everything I need for a night out (the older I get, the more I want to take out with me!) Something classic with a bit of an edge is what I'm hoping for!
Alexander McQueen clutch: net-a-porter.com

So, that's what I want. Now let's see what I end up with! What are you hoping to buy?


Beauty: Shopping the Stash

Dear Readers, I'm a beauty blogger in crisis. I'm on a make up purchase embargo. 'How does that work?' you ask. It works when you walk into the Selfridges beauty hall and think that it's basically a better organised, staffed version of your own collection.

A couple of weeks ago, my lovely friends Hannah and Laura came to visit, and after Strictly Come Dancing, a bottle of champagne and several more of lovely wine, I pulled out the make up and commenced the makeovers. It's been years since I've done this, and it was a heck of a lot of fun. What was even more exciting for me was the list of products each of them left with, and that H especially was so delighted with her dark eye/nude lip combo that it became her Twitter profile picture (check her out @Jegon_Scott: and yes, I'm quite pleased with my handiwork, but then she was a beauty to start with!) I tried three very different looks on each of them, and it barely scratched the surface of what I own. It was at this point I decided that I needed to shop my stash, and in doing so, I uncovered some interesting themes:

1. I own seven, seven eyeshadows in what can only be described as 'peacock' shades. I am pale and like neutrals. I have never worn any of these eyeshadows, nor will I. They went straight into the bin.

2. My weakness is blusher. I have copious creams and powders, all in pretty much the same shade. I want to like creams, but the fact that most remain only slightly used suggests that powders are the way forward for me.

3. I'm a sucker for foundation, but since using face oil, I don't need it during the day. I'm therefore left with a lot: all expensive and too pale to pass on to friends. Bugger.

4. If ever I forget my eyeliner, I buy a new one. I like Rimmel's kohl the best. I have eight that I'm half way through, which means I could put one in all my handbags, and thus never have an excuse to forget them. I probably won't do this, so logic suggests I'll have 16 this time next year.

5. I repurchase Clinique's City Block SPF 40 the most of any make up product. Because I always buy a new one before the old one runs out, I have three tubes with a single application left. I'll probably get round to using these once the current tube runs out...

6. I like lipstick, but I never wear it. I own a lot. I think this means I need never buy lipstick again. Maybe.

7. Every lipgloss I've ever bought is exactly the same shade as MAC's Big Baby but none are as good. The only one that gets close is by Kiko which I used to buy in Palma. Thank goodness they've opened at Westfield, as it's a long way for a cute pout.

So, the aim after the initial cull is to work through my stash until it's perfectly edited and contains only the things I actually use. And, future self, trying something once does not qualify as a use: you've been warned! You may remember this, and how I covet a streamlined routine more than anything. It's nice to have a goal, however unrealistic :) And now for my current make up bag!

Clockwise from top left: Rimmel ScandalEyes mascara in Black, Estee Lauder Automatic Brow Duo in Soft Blonde, Estee Lauder Double Wear Eyeliner in Black and Brown (I only use the Black end), Liz Earle Skin Tint in Light, MUA eyeshadow in Matte, Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer in Porcelain, Rimmel Blush in Santa Rose, Bobbi Brown Corrector in Light Bisque.

Am I happy with the current selection? Hmm, pretty much. The two Rimmel purchases were from a day when - quelle horreur - I forgot my make up bag. The blush, I absolutely love, and will definitely repurchase. It's a gorgeous sandy, peachy shade which looks perfect just under the apple of the cheek. The mascara? Not so much. I tried this on a whim as I used to be a big Rimmel mascara fan, but over the past few years, Maybelline just edged them. I'm looking forward to this running out so I can finally buy Colassal Cat Eyes and rekindle my Maybelline love. The Bobbi Brown concealer and corrector are by far my favourite concealer combo ever (a review will be coming up soon). I'm telling myself I have to use up my old Armani and MAC products eventually, but really, it'll be a cold dead hands situation when it comes to my Bobbi stuff. The MUA shadow is a pretty plain shade, but it's so wearable for daytime and hello, £1?! Sign me up! The Liz Earle Skin Tint I *love* (what a surprise: Rachel likes a Liz Earle product!) and this could be a serious contender for the crown currently held by Clinique City Block. The Estee Lauder brow and eyeliner were both gifts from my Mum, and the brow pencil is a definite repurchase. As for eyeliner, well, I've got all those Rimmel ones to work through...

This has turned into a bit of an epic post, but you can understand how I need to share on the challenging subject of the make up embargo. 'I'm Rachel, and I'm addicted to make up'. Now altogether, 'Hi Rachel...'


Beauty: Slicker Than Your Average

It would be no exaggeration to say that I'm obsessed with oil products. Obsessed. As I'm currently on a make up purchasing embargo - more on that tomorrow - I'm seeking solace in all things skin and hair care. And when it comes to these glistening amber potions, who am I to refuse?

Since introducing an oil to my facial skincare routine, blemishes have become a thing of the past. Yep, even at *that* time of the month. It seems natural to conclude that skin prone to the occasional breakout is oily, and that adding more oil to the mix would be the last thing needed. I can't tell you how many times I'd see an article on facial oils that I'd read, re-read, read again, only to question a friend on it's efficacy with as many high-pitched 'really? Really?' moments as they'd tolerate. Not many, I can tell you. My long term favourite has been Liz Earle's Superskin Concentrate, but I recently scooped up The Sanctuary's Therapist's Secret Facial Oil during a 3 for 2 assault at Boots. So far, so impressive. I'm in love with the heady herbal scent of the Liz Earle version, but The Sanctuary's offering is a bargain at half the price of the full size LE oil (note: the LE oil in the pic is the travel size which is great for those wanting to try without committing).

Hair oil has become ubiquitous this year, almost to the point that I don't know how we functioned before it. I had long been dedicated to my Sunday hair ritual of coating it in olive oil, wrapping it in cling film and hoping that nobody popped over for an unscheduled visit, but the thought of using an oil pre-heat styling had me terrified that my hair would end up dry and fried rather than sleek and silky. In a not-unexpected revelation, hair oil wins my can't-live-without award as it's totally transformed my tresses. I'm a big fan of Shu Uemura, but when this bottle runs out, I have a few products with my name on them. The bottle second from left on the image above is my most beloved oil - Phytonectar - which was sadly discontinued this year. On learning this, I promptly ran to the local chemist and bought their entire stock, begging them to call their supplier to see if they had more (they didn't: sob). Phyto, if you're reading this, bring it back, please!

As for body, I alternate between Neutrogena Body Oil which is a beautifully rich, unfragranced sesame oil, and The Sanctuary's Massage and Body Oil, which is the usual concoction of potent ginger and spices, so perfect for winter. Both are incredibly reasonable, so there's no excuse for dry skin.

Now, I know what you're thinking: that's a lot of oil (and I haven't even mentioned the Rituals and Jo Malone bath ones!) You might be thinking it's enough to keep me greased up for a lifetime, especially now you know about my Phyto stockpile. Predictably, it's not enough, and I have my eye on some beauties to purchase in the new year:

1. Kerastase Elixir Ultime - Featured in The Bazaar Hot 100 Beauty List and that bottle is just what's missing from my dressing table

2. Moroccan Oil - Everyone who's tried this raves about it. It's this or the Kerastase. Or both...

3. REN Moroccan Rose Otto Bath Oil and Ultra Moisture Body Oil - It smells utterly divine and will be perfect for balmy holiday evenings

Do you use oil products in your beauty routine, and most importantly, what our your recommendations so I can add them to my shopping list :)


Reflection: Looking Back, Walking Ahead

It seems 2011 has been a whirlwind for everyone. For me, it began with uncertainty and ends with a desire to put into practise all the lessons of the year. One very significant chapter came to an end, and I feel like this year has been about learning how to be all over again. It's a bit of a surprise when that happens at 28/29 years old, but it's been both a challenge and a huge relief to let go of the reigns and just be.

Reflection comes as standard at this time of the year as resolutions to lose weight, learn a new skill, read more etc are scribbled down with vows that this year, we'll stick to them. I've had enough of setting myself up to fail, so here are my decidedly unambitious resolutions. You know what they say; aim low and you'll never be disappointed! :)

1. Now that I've finally given up my crusade to singlehandedly save books from extinction, I'll be stocking my new Kobo with all the classics I've been meaning to read, but never get around to lugging on the train. My cosy nights with Jane Austen have been a revelation!

2. Late nights with friends at various restaurants and bars across the capital will be replaced with cocktails and home cooking chez moi. I'm aiming for every dinner to look as inviting as the ones here.

3. I will get into a regular Shellac routine.

4. Although she'll need the patience of a saint, I'm hoping my lovely friend Al will teach me to quilt. This will be in exchange for the proposed fabulous food at resolution 2.

5. I'll grow my hair four inches for a summer of beachy waves.

6. I'm going to build the best capsule wardrobe known to man...and spend the savings made from not buying all the time on a bad-ass pair of Louboutins :)

7. Oh, and go on holiday more. The above photograph was taken last January in Palma. I need every month to look like that!

What are your new year's resolutions?


Style: The Alternative Bride

Although Christmas is just around the corner, the invitations for next year's weddings are already starting to land. The first date in my diary will require a bit of sari shopping - something I'm so excited for! The bride is anything but traditional, and will be eschewing the red typical of Indian weddings for something more 'her'. I've always known that, were I to get married, a big white dress certainly wouldn't be for me, but what would?

After spending the day swathed in a blanket and sneezing, I decided this distinctly unglamorous state needed a bit of something beautiful!

L'Wren Scott, £2430

Helmut Lang, £525

Ralph Lauren, £2850

Issa, £745

What would your dream dress be?

All images from net-a-porter.com


Inspiration: Black, white and plum

This afternoon has been dedicated to carving through the pile of fashion magazines that I've had zero time to read over the past few months. To my left is a pile of clipped images for the makeup inspiration file, and to my right, fashion. I stopped dead on the September issue of British Vogue when I reached the Master Class editorial featuring Freja Beha Erichsen and Arizona Muse. Every image is perfect, and I'm torn between adding the plum cheek to the makeup pile or the stunning monochrome styling to the fashion side. I think we need a hybrid pile: just divine.


Trend: Boardroom Bondage

If there was ever a trend to get me a little hot under the collar, it was bound to be bondage (if you'll pardon the pun). I need little persuading when it comes to pencil skirts, precarious stilettos, leather and a conservative smattering of hardware, all distilled down into something office-appropriate, I should add! Watching the Louis Vuitton A/W 2011 show earlier this year, I couldn't wait to see this trend making its way to the high street, although I'm not sure I could ever make thigh high boots and a sheer skirt work in the boardroom!

One of my all-time favourite fashion shows was Gucci S/S 2001, when fashion's King of fetish, Mr Tom Ford sent Kate Moss down the runway in some of the most perfect dresses I can imagine. Warehouse produced some similarly tailored dresses that year, one of which was happily snapped up for my 19th birthday. Yep, I caught the bondage bug early...

So, how to take bondage from runway to real life and stay stylish rather than street-walker? If you're taking this trend to the office, the key is not to show too much skin and to go for quality fabrics and good tailoring. If, like me, you're happy living in black, go for layers and a range of textures to give the look some depth and stay warm. Zips and studs are great details, but anything too heavy is best saved for a night out. My very conservative colleagues think my black leather Tory Burch bracelet with gold studs marks me out as a pervert, whereas I think it's pretty simple!

Here are my pick of the best pieces for a chic take on the fetish trend: the first one blows the budget, and the second are the more purse-friendly high street pieces. I probably wouldn't wear these entire looks to the office, but switch the leather jacket out for a simple black blazer and take away the gloves and you'd probably persuade me. I know what you're thinking...!


Clockwise from top left: Chloe Marcie bag - £1025; Helmut Lang leather dress - £810; Rick Owens leather and mohair jacket - £1005; Dominic Jones black gold ring - £265; Linda Farrow Luxe sunglasses - £400; Christian Louboutin Pigalle studded pumps - £695; Burberry waist belt - £295; Valentino studded leather gloves - £255 (All available at net-a-porter.com)

High street

Clockwise from top left: Miss Selfridge stud earrings - £8; Miss Selfridge leather and suede dress - £90; Topshop quilted leather jacket - £180; Miss Selfridge Sicily platforms - £50; ASOS feather clutch bag - £25; Dents leather and wool gloves (available from ASOS) - £38; Mango Barbados sunglasses (available from ASOS) - £23

Which look do you prefer? High end or high street?


Style: Winter Boots

I returned from sunny Mallorca yesterday: 30 degree heat meant that I've spent the past seven days in a bikini. Waking up this morning, I put on my favourite red pencil dress, a pair of black courts, rounded off with a camel mac and my Raybans. No tights, no gloves, no scarf. Big mistake! This evening, therefore, was dedicated to restocking my winter wardrobe, which started with these, ahem, practical boots.

I know, I know, the suede won't work with the rain/snow, and neither will the heels, but they're just so darn cute. Tomorrow's outfit with be a nod to 60s style icon and star of The Avengers, the gorgeous Emma Peel. Black roll neck sweater, black mini skirt, black tights and the boots. And before bed, I must, must, must dig out the leather gauntlets and chunky scarf. Winter is officially here!


Inspiration: Lindsey Wixson

I can't believe it was July when I last posted. Bad!

I'm looking out of the window at a beautiful, crisp autumn day, and my thoughts are very much fixed on crunching through golden leaves in the park and making the most of what's left of the weekend. I go on holiday on Wednesday, and despite my love of cool, bright autumn days, I must confess that the lure of 80 degree heat is not lost on me.

I'll be jetting off with the obligatory stack of fashion magazines, as the heat wave we experienced last week has pushed my winter wardrobe shopping back as late as it's ever been. I'm certainly not the type who can ever be motivated to haul on a heavy coat when the weather outside is sunglasses and sandals-worthy. And that's where Ms Wixson comes in. There is no way in hell I'll manage to look as cute as this throughout the rainy, cold British winter, but it's certainly what I'm aspiring to. Her makeup is utterly stunning, the clothes chic yet with an adorable quirky twist. Love, love, love.

Image courtesy of hanneli.com


Offer: 10% off at Clay & Blossom *and* free postage!

Lovely readers, is this gruesome weather depressing you? Work a little intense? Your summer holiday over that bit too soon? Well, The Beauty Hall and Clay & Blossom want to get you smiling again with a very special treat! How about 10% off brands like Phtyo, Xen-Tan, Lierac and my new favourite hair obsession, Macadamia Natural Oil? Oh, and did I mention free standard postage? No? Well, there's free standard postage, too!

To get your hands on some of the most fabulous products around, head on over to Clay & Blossom, fill your basket to your heart's content, enter the code 'Beautyhall' in the 'Coupon' box (as per the image below), and we'll zap 10% off and send your goodies out for free. Aren't we lovely? So, go on: spoil yourselves. The code is valid on all products and all brands on Clay & Blossom's site, so there's no excuse not to! If your other half/bank manager asks you why you needed any more products when your enormous parcel arrives, just tells them about the discount and that it would make very poor financial sense not to have bought so much. Simple economics!

And if you're not already following them on Twitter, go and show them some love here!

Small print: Offer is open to UK residents only: sorry to those of you overseas! Promotion closes on 4th August. This is an exclusive offer for readers of The Beauty Hall so please don't re-post or advertise the code through any other channel. If you'd like to advertise this offer, please do so by linking back to this post. Any questions about advertising, drop me an email.


Review: Macadamia Natural Oil haircare

I'm sure none of you are in any doubt about how deep my haircare obsession runs. When you were born with the kind of hair that does what it likes, when it likes, you find that life becomes some sort of Lord of the Rings-style quest for the perfect product. Even when I find something amazing, like a certain hair oil, I still can't help but try other products in the hope that I'll one day be frolicking around in corn fields like the girl from the old Timotei ads...

So, it's with very great excitement that I proclaim Macadamia Natural Oil products the best shampoo, conditioner and treatments I've ever used. Yep, that's better than Pureology, better than Kerastase, better than Rahua (need I go on?). My hair is naturally pretty dry, and this gorgeous, fresh-scented, light yet ultra-nourishing range has left my hair sleek, glossy and with that shampoo-ad swish we all crave. It's not cheap (the shampoo is £15.45 and conditioner £17.99 from Clay & Blossom) but a little of these argan and macadamia oil elixirs go a long way: really worth the investment for those of you whose tresses need a little TLC.

If you're interested in trying Macadamia Natural Oil, The Beauty Hall will have an exclusive discount code for Clay & Blossom's website which will be live at 9am tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Small print: discount will be available to UK readers only and will be live from 9am tomorrow


Nails: The Caggie-Cure

Don't cry, Cags! Your nails look fabulous!

Those of you who watched Made in Chelsea will no doubt have noticed Caggie's multi-coloured manicures, and anyone with as many bottles of nail varnish as me will see this as a perfect opportunity to get some use out of them all!

My day job is far too straight-laced to get away with this Monday-Friday, so welcome to the weekend and some nail-creativity! I know: I live the craziest life!

First, the polishes. From left to right: No. 17 Lasting Fix in Pink Grapefruit, Barry M in Cobalt Blue, Revlon in One Perfect Coral, Barry M in Berry Ice Cream and Barry M in Mushroom.

And now the finished look!

Will you be following in the footsteps of mani-muse Caggie or will you be sticking to something more simple?


Eat: Beautiful Brownies

After a hugely busy and slightly draining day in the office, the last thing I wanted to do was come home and fulfill my promise to bake brownies for my colleagues, but I'm so glad I did. Despite needing to go and buy everything, including the electric whisk and brownie tin, it's been a very worthwhile exercise, and licking the bowl has been my greatest pleasure this week! Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, you've saved me from hitting the gin!

The top picture shows the finished result (they're seriously the best brownies I've tasted) and the bottom picture shows the mixture just before it's baked: I was sorely tempted just to stick my face into the goo and eat my way out.

If you fancy being nice to your colleagues, friends or family, or just want to gorge yourself on chocolately goodness, you could do a lot worse than these! Enjoy!

Cocoa brownies - makes 16.

170g butter

200g caster sugar

100g light muscovado sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g cocoa powder

50g plain flour

¼ tsp salt

100g walnut halves or chopped chocolate (optional)

Heat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3. Lightly grease a 22cm x 22cm x 5cm brownie tin and line with two strips of baking parchment. Let the strips hang over the sides of the tin by about 8cm – this'll make the brownies easier to remove when they're cooked.
Place the butter in a medium-size saucepan and melt it over a medium heat until it turns golden brown and smells slightly sweet and nutty. Set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl, and using an electric hand mixer, beat together the sugars and eggs until very thick and glossy – when you lift up the beaters, a ribbon of batter should stay on the surface of the mixture for several seconds. Beat in the vanilla and the browned butter.
Sift together the cocoa, flour and salt into a separate bowl. Gently fold this into the batter with a spatula, being careful not to overmix. Fold in the walnuts or chocolate chunks, if using, and scrape into the prepared tin with a spatula.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the middle of the brownies with a few moist crumbs attached. Place the tin on a rack and let the brownies cool completely. Lift them out of the tin with the parchment and cut into 16 squares.


Beauty: Liz Earle Colour

Oooh, oooooh! Sometimes email brings the best news! No, I haven't won a trolley dash at Jimmy Choo, nor do I think I'll be several million better off if I ping my bank details to my dear friend, the Nigerian prince. This is an entirely more beauty-related high. That's right, Liz Earle is launching a skin tint in September *scream*

You all know by now that LE is by far my favourite brand for well, just about everything, really. Since I started blogging, the number of LE products in my bathroom has steadily increased to the point where the only non-LE products I have are in there are my Jo Malone bath oil and my toothpaste (come on, Liz: surely an oral health line and branded toothbrushes aren't far off?!) That there will soon be a 'Liz Earle Colour' range is just far too exciting.

If you want to sign up to receive more information, you can do so here, but I promise to keep you posted as soon as I find out more! Are you looking forward to this launch?


Trend: Sequins

As I missed out on my friend's 30th birthday party, I'm taking her out for a glam night next Friday for some belated celebrations. Plenty of cocktails, a delicious meal, and partying until the sun comes up means one thing: a fabulous dress is needed. Enter this gorgeous little bit of glitz from Zara. It's love...

My outfit posts are looooong overdue so will get some snaps up of this one asap!


Beauty: Topiary, anyone?

Readers, I'm getting personal for a minute. Yep, it's time to talk bikini line. Ever since moving away from Manchester last year and leaving my beloved waxer behind me, I've been in a bit of a limbo. I've epilated (ouch), shaved (ingrown hairs, anyone?), Immac (whiffs) and tried wax strips (I'm hopeless). Was it mad to make a pilgrimage back North every four weeks to get the perfect finish and the gossip? I concluded 'yes' and resolved to find someone in London. Le sigh.

It was then that Ministry of Waxing came into my life. With branches in Covent Garden and on South Molton Street, they were perfectly located for a bit of post-work topiary. The bikini waxes are categorised from 'X' (a bit of a tidy up) to 'XXXX' (Hollywood), and I booked in for a 'XXX' which is a Brazilian in traditional bikini parlance.

The salons are pretty funky, and the girls at the Covent Garden branches all have amazing lashes from their sister salon, Browhaus (totally next on my list!). The waxers all go through rigorous training, so the result will be the same whoever you see, which is reassuring if your usual therapist is away.

The main selling point is the experience. You're taken to your therapist's room and they talk you through what to do, which is great for waxing virgins. It's always the little details that count, and you can't believe how impressed I am by the fact that they provide a little wet wipe for a bit of a freshen up. Regular waxees will I'm sure, like me, always carry one out of courtesy and to feel 'fresh' but the fact that MoW just put it out there is just one less thing you have to think about. The wax itself is perfect: the girls all confess to being perfectionists, so the tweezers come out to pluck any strays! They give great aftercare advice and advise you to monitor regrowth: if you suffer from ingrown hairs after the wax, they'll change the products they use next time. What more could you want?! Maybe a stress toy for those amongst you who need a distraction from the pain? Check! These girls think of everything.

Treatments start from £15, with the Brazilian priced at £39.


Body: White Tea and Toast

It's been a while, non? Life is still very up and down, and I'm hoping that blogging will help restore a bit of normality!

I have stacks of products to review, some of which have effortlessly slipped into my routine as though they've always been there. This White Bergamot body lotion from BSQ Naturals is one such product. The range won Best New Fragrance at the 2009 UK Beauty Awards and the beautiful delicate scent is probably the products biggest selling point: I find it utterly intoxicating and just so beautiful. Of course, we want out body lotions to be moisturising, and this rich formula doesn't disappoint. It's nourishing yet light, and just the perfect balance.

BSQ Naturals body lotion is available from House of Fraser Apothecary and online here for £16.


Reflection: Raise Your Weapon

*Puts down suitcase and switches the lights on...*

Ok, so my blog holiday didn't actually involve any kind of travel (more's the pity) but after a few weeks off, I've been feeling the lure of a bit of self-indulgent rambling. I have a stack of products to review (precariously balanced in the spare room, ready to tumble Jenga-style when I pick one out for use...), and I'll get round to all that, I promise. There have been a few fabulous discoveries while I've been away that I can't wait to share with you.

So, the non-makeup stuff. I've had a really odd few weeks that have seen a massive amount of change in my personal life. One minute things were up, the next spiralling way out of my grasp. For someone who thrives on being in control, it's been difficult to deal with, but not impossible. On the upside, that challenge of wrestling everything back into my hands has been a good one, however hard it's been to motivate myself to do that. I guess what I'm saying is that big changes always prompt a bit of introspection, a reassessment of what's important to you, and where your priorities lie. It's also a time when you really get back to yourself: you remember all those things you used to do and love, that somehow disappeared when you had more than yourself to think about (for me, rediscovering how much I love going out dancing until 4am has been my favourite). That sounds a little selfish, but when your world flips, it's good to know somebody's looking out for you!

There's a scene in Breakfast at Tiffany's where Holly applies her makeup and puts on her pearls before the letter that she knows brings bad news is read to her. Similarly, my beloved late Nana's saying: 'No matter what's going on, put on another coat of lipstick, hold your head up, and get back out there', speaks of a stoicism and a resilience in the face of adversity. Rather than let this blog and other things in my life fade into the darkness, I'm reapplying that lipstick, both literally and metaphorically, and switching the lights back on. The Beauty Hall is back in business...


Style: "When accessorising, always take off the last thing you put on"

Wise words from Coco Chanel. I could do with extending that quote to include, 'and put it away when you do take it off', but I don't think Coco was too concerned about the future plight of a messy jewellery lover.

Walking around the flat this afternoon, I realised that I hardly ever put my accessories away. I have so many, and forget what I do have. I'm the kind of girl who always has a pair of earrings in her handbag, necklaces in washbags, and forgotten bracelets lurking in luggage, waiting for me to fall in love all over again. To help me with my last minute accessorising, my home has become something of a showroom, and I was struck today just how much I leave lying around. The kitchen, the bathroom, on top of my work papers: scattered when I get in, ready to be grabbed when I go out. Here's what I found today:

Exhibit A: Chunky necklaces in the bathroom (black bead necklace is vintage and the orange wooden disc necklace is Miss Selfridge from a few seasons back)

Exibit B: On my desk. The wooden bead necklace is from Topshop and probably about eight years old. The gold swallow bracelet is current season ASOS.

Exhibit C: On my bedside table. The black and white bangle is again, very old Topshop, the wooden bangle is H&M, the gold ladybird ring is from Les Nereides and the earring is Accessorize - who knows where it's other half is...

It's time to look into some display-type storage so I get to enjoy these trinkets whether I'm wearing them or not!


Travel: Palma

Passeig des Borne, Palma

I know, I know: I've been gone for weeks, finally get round to posting and you're feeling a little neglected. Work has been mad, life even more so, and I've averaged about 5hrs sleep a night for the past three weeks. You're reaching for your violins, I just know it...

Skipping my pitiful plea for sympathy, forgiveness, and multiple comments telling me how much you've missed me (a girl can hope...), things are now looking a million times brighter and after a totally inspiring week at work, I'm kind of feeling like this weekend is a bit of a turning point for me. So 'yay' to that.

I mentioned in my last post that I treated myself to an SLR at the airport before we flew out to Palma. My case was already groaning under the weight of an unnecessary number of outfit options, but I have wanted one for so long with literally no time to go and pick one up, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Step forward my Canon 1000D. Entry level, baby-DSLR, but it is absolutely FABULOUS. My previous point and shoot was Canon, and although good, I just couldn't get the effects I was looking for with it, so I've been having great fun messing with all the settings, and generally acting like a mini Testino, minus the majority of the talent.

So, back to Palma. It's one of my favourite destinations. This is the fifth time I've been, and it seriously doesn't get old. The weather is great (we had three days of sun and temperatures of about 19 degrees - although of course it's changeable at this time of year), the food is fabulous, the shopping completely amazing, and the mood of the place is just so cool: laid back yet super stylish. It has everything I could want from a city break, and it takes two hours to fly from London, which is less time than it takes me to get back to Manchester. Hmm, where would I rather be?

Architecture fans won't be disappointed either. The city has an eclectic mix of contemporary and classic buildings, all of which sit in the imposing shadow of La Seu, the enormous gothic cathedral, a building of the kind of scale and beauty that you rarely see. I am a bit of an architecture geek, so was delighted to have my camera to record some of the more impressive sights.
Le Seu
I was thinking about getting into recommendations, but it's far too late for that, so instead I'll stick to photos and expect you to fall as deeply in love with the place as I am. If you go, stay at Hotel Tres and drink cocktails to the sound of birdsong in the medieval-meets-Bacchic Abaco. Friday night rose petals from the ceiling at midnight is worth the trip alone...

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