Thursday 13 November 2014

Jennifer Lawrence Kills It in Red

Not sure I've ever seen a body-con dress look stylish before. Let alone a red one! Nonchalant vibe + coat + tousled hair + red lip + sunglasses = major cool points. Dress by Antonio Berardi. Sexy style all JLaw. 

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Pre-Christmas Buys to Get You in the Mood

I can't help but get completely sucked into any (chic) Christmas advertising that promises a season of roaring log fires, wintery walks, cosy knits and mulled wine. When my Boden catalogue arrived (complete with candy stripe spine) I couldn't help myself from cooing over the styling and telling my boyfriend how clever and beautiful it all was. If only I could live in a catalogue Christmas. 

The White Company is another brand it's impossible to resist, especially at this time of year. I want that White Company life where my family is enormous and we all wear matching cashmere and sit around in huge houses grinning at each other. 

Christmas in the Cotswolds may be nothing like The Holiday, but let's imagine owning Cameron Diaz's vast coat wardrobe and meeting Jude Law in the cosy local pub. Maybe a few cheeky pre-holiday purchases will help create a fantasy Christmas we can all enjoy...

Hush pom pom beanie | NARS nail varnish in Chinatown | Topshop link chain collar | Whistles Mini Jenny tote | Uniqlo duffle coat | Hush lace bra | Cire Trudon Nazereth candle

Thursday 6 November 2014

7 Product Winter Beauty Kit

The sudden switch to cold weather means it's time to rethink your beauty regime: say hello to hydrating products, autumnal scents and a few fun seasonal additions. Here are some of my current favourites.

I've been using this for years (it used to be called Omega 3 Night Repair Serum and cost £11 more for 20ml more product...) and find that whatever my skincare concern, be it spots or dryness, this always improves it by morning. Some complain about the smell but I love it (and I'm fussy). A winter must-have. 

Hugely expensive, hugely luxe. Silver hydrosol makes this skin-saver antibacterial and calming. I find its light texture works perfectly over face oils to provide an extra layer of moisture. Smells divine (and all natural: citrus, rosewood, geranium, sandalwood and patchouli). Pricey but multi-purpose and can even be used around eyes. 

Another old favourite and still my number one cleanser. Makes every face wash into a mini facial. I am trying to get to grips with facial massage and I like to use this in the evenings to take off my makeup and give my skin a good going over. A pot lasts forever so the cost is only slightly upsetting. 

Oh how I wish I could do a trolly dash in this store. I love to buy Jo Malone gifts for others and was lucky enough to receive this myself on my 30th birthday. Perfect for this time of year, it's fruity, spicy, sophisticated and a bit unusual. 

I think I've only been brave enough to wear this once or twice but the colour is fabulous. Nothing looks better than a red lip at Christmas and this dark, matte shade works well on those with yellow or neutral-toned skin. You'll need to apply a few layers and blot in between for maximum staying power. 

This lotion doesn't actually feel oily but gets its smell from almond oil and sinks into skin quickly. I like the pump dispenser and the fact it contains colloidal oatmeal, which is both calming and nourishing.

I got this free when I bought two other Rimmel products but to my amazement I really rate it. The brush allows very precise application and separates lashes easily. The effect is natural but buildable. Probably my favourite drugstore mascara in recent years and it costs £8. 

*Sample provided for review. 

Monday 3 November 2014

Hydrangea Valley at Trebah Gardens

Back in August we visited somewhere I'd been wanting to go to since seeing it on Gardeners' World (Friday night TV guilty pleasure alert). Trebah Gardens in Falmouth are sub-tropical gardens set in a beautiful valley that rolls right down to the Helford River. You can pootle down the various paths before hopping up some steps and onto a pebble beach with beautiful views and an ice cream shop.

August is the best time of year to see the incredible Hydrangea Valley, which was the main reason I wanted to visit. Hydrangeas are one of my favourite flowers and the valley was even better in person than it looks in these photos. The whole garden is a joy to walk round with a diverse selection of trees and plants and I can imagine it must look incredible in autumn too. There's also plenty of fun elements to entertain children, including a zip swing (which I may have had a go on.) If you're in the area, I recommend it.

Friday 15 August 2014

Review: Murad Essential-C Day Moisture SPF 30

I have a very clear memory of me, probably around 18 years old, sat on a train wearing full-on Boots Soltan factor 30 in the middle of winter because I had read that year-round sunscreen was the key to eternal youth. It felt so thick and clogging, and I already suffered from spots – no way was this going to last. My good intentions fell away, largely because I didn't like wearing the stuff on my skin. 

At 31, it's a lot easier to remain motivated about application because the tell-tale signs of sun damage are already showing in the form of pigmentation. I've been testing Murad Essential-C Day Moisture SPF 30* since the spring and can report that its sophisticated formula has cured my aversion to SPF. 

Murad believe that SPF can only ever provide 97 per cent protection against UV rays. Their MuraSol™ Antioxidant Defense technology is intended to close this gap via a blend of encapsulated antioxidants that create a barrier of free radical neutralisers to halt UV damage. Alongside 'next generation' Vitamin C, I found these skin-boosting benefits helped encourage daily application. The light cream sinks in quickly, hydrating skin and leaving no white cast. Although I might look a bit shiny for a few minutes, makeup applies easily (with no bobbling!) and the overall effect is juicy skin = happy Laura.

If you're in the market for a moisturiser that offers broad spectrum protection and which you won't seek to avoid wearing whenever possible, I highly recommend it. Murad also offer an excellent returns policy, where they will refund the cost of products which you feel don't suit your skin (see

*Product supplied for review. 

Wednesday 25 June 2014

SFSC Loves: Mini Boden Summer Collection

There's no bun in my oven (just toast and biscuits) but I do have a good excuse for some sneaky shopping: my boyfriend's brother and sister-in-law just had a beautiful baby girl. We're off to welcome the new arrival this weekend and, of course, a suitable gift was required. A perfectly-timed email advertising 30 per cent off and a brief perusal of the website had me hitting the order button, pronto.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

The Reality of Refurbishing a House on a Budget

Semihandmade doors on IKEA cabinets via Smitten Studio
Nineteen months ago we moved into our lovely little Victorian house; our heads full of ideas for how we would improve it. Nineteen months on, the reality it quite different. We have ripped out a cupboard and replaced the boiler (expensive and dull), had a fireplace made and half decorated the living room (we didn't remove the radiator as we want to replace it, same with the windows). And that's about it. The reality of refurbishing a house is that tasks need to be completed in a certain order and there's only so much you can do to a place before the money you have spent on it cannot be recouped on selling, let alone a profit made. We have really struggled to make decisions regarding what to change and what we can live with versus what is 'not worth doing'. As a perfectionist, this has been particularly difficult for me!

Two rooms we always knew required more major work are the bathroom and kitchen. We were gearing up to replace the bathroom, when the kitchen started deconstructing itself. Tiles fell off the walls, shelves collapsed and drawers fell off. Apparently the kitchen would be first. 165 Pinterest 'pins', multiple showroom visits, two trips to IKEA and many, many hours of research later we are nearly ready to start.

I always had in mind we might use IKEA cabinets with custom, painted MDF fronts. However, after our first trip to IKEA to inspect the new Metod kitchen range, I was not impressed. Instead, we visited all the 'big box' kitchen showrooms and got prices from local small businesses. After a £7000+ quote from a local kitchen maker, and a £4000 estimate for the Cooke & Lewis 'Carisbrooke' taupe kitchen (B&Q) that we quite liked, we decided to rethink. The thing about low- to mid-range kitchens is that they are all basically the same: particle board carcasses with foil-wrapped (melamine) cabinet fronts. I personally do not like melamine and its shiny finish and always had my heart set on painted doors (with dreams of a 'Plain English' kitchen on a budget). Back to IKEA we went. Having compared the interiors of many more kitchens I now thought their cabinets were fine for our purposes. The low prices, plus all parts being easily replaceable and the added bonus of so many organisational nicknacks sealed the deal.

Our kitchen is quite small: we are changing from a u-shape to a galley, putting French doors in leading to the garden, bricking up one doorway and moving another. There is also ongoing debate about taking the floor level down to match the adjoining room. By saving money on cabinets, we're able to complete this other work. We're not hiring a builder either. Instead, my electrician brother, my boyfriend and I will attempt to carry out the project with just the help of task-specific tradesmen such as bricklayers and carpenters. I have started clearing out the kitchen and we are setting up a temporary one in the dining room. Luckily, we also have a large under-stair cupboard where we can house our washing machine and tumbledryer. I will have the new dishwasher and fridge freezer we've bought set up in the dining room along with a microwave, toaster and kettle. Deluxe!

I intend to blog about the refurb process, so I hope you won't mind this type of 'interiors' content. Wish me luck and please cross your fingers that I have a new kitchen by around August/September. Here's some of my ideas and my Pinterest inspiration to keep you going until the before and afters! Please let me know if you have any tips for surviving a kitchen renovation.

The Look
Galley layout
Pale painted fronts
No uppers
Drawers not cupboards
White subway tile
Oak worktops
Engineered oak floor
Ceramic sink
Bespoke French doors

Thursday 22 May 2014

Three of the Best Hydrating Spray Toners

Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic | Clinique Moisture Surge Face SprayDermalogica Multi-Active Toner

I used to consider toner a waste of time; an unnecessary extra step in my skincare routine. However, I'm now 31, my skin is dehydrated and I can definitely feel the benefit of an additional layer of moisture. I love the feel of applying toner with a cotton pad but for ease of use and less wastage a spray bottle is best. Applied after cleansing I find I need a lot less of any subsequent products such as serum, oil or moisturiser.

I have been using all three of these toners and recommend them highly. You can always decant your favourite toner into a Muji spray bottle — perfect for cooling skin on hot days. I've also heard that the Clinique Moisture Surge is ideal for adding a touch of dewiness to an overly matt or powdered face.