Thursday, 30 April 2015

My Morning Skincare Routine - Updated My Morning Skincare Routine - Updated


I review a lot of skincare for julie-ellen and have cupboards full of the stuff so a product has to really perform if it's going to make it into my daily routine. I know a lot of you are just as obsessed about skincare as I am, so today I thought I would share with you my morning skincare routine.

Murad Essential C Cleanser

Morning Cleanser

In the morning I like a cleanser that is quick and easy to use, refreshing and cleans my face effectively without leaving it feeling dry or tight. The Murad Essential C Cleanser does all of that and more. It smells amazing, feels really soft and gentle on my skin and is packed full of antioxidants and vitamin C. Perfect!

Clarins Gentle Exfoliator

Daily Exfoliator

I never use a manual exfoliator, I hate the little scratchy bits and am convinced that they will damage my skin. Instead I like to use an acid exfoliator and my current favourite is the Clarins Gentle Exfoliator. It is perfect for the morning because it is so fast. I just quickly swipe this all over my face with a cotton pad and I am done. 

Healgel Eye

Morning Eye Gel

At my age, I would never skip this step. In the interests of saving time though, I like to keep the rich creams for night time. In the morning I love the HealGel Eye. One pump spread between my two ring fingers is more than enough for both eyes. I just pat it around the orbital bone and it cools, hydrates and depuffs my peepers. Niceee! 

 StriVectin-EV Get Even Brightening Serum

Brightening Serum

The next step in my routine is a serum. I always use at least one treatment serum before my moisturiser and after a long cold winter,  I am concentrating on brightening up my skin. I received the StriVectin-EV Get Even Brightening Serum in a GWP and having used it for just 3 weeks, I can honestly say that I have noticed a real improvement in my skin. My skin tone is more even, a couple of sun spots which I had on my cheek have noticeably faded and things just look generally healthier. (I have never suffered from acne but am reliably informed that this serum works miracles on acne scarring too.)

Zelens 3t Essential Anti Aging Cream

Morning Moisturiser

I have never loved another moisturiser like I love the Zelens 3t Essential Anti Aging Cream. Admittedly it is stupidly expensive but I honestly think it is worth every penny especially if you have dry or mature skin that is started to show signs of ageing. This product is super light and instantly absorbs into my face with no waiting time yet it leaves it feeling deeply hydrated and like velvet to the touch.

Grown Alchemist Vanilla and Orange Peel

My Daily Hand Cream

The last step in my morning skincare routine is the Grown Alchemist Vanilla and Orange Peel Handcream. It smells amazing and without a trace of oiliness leaves my hands feeling, soft, smooth and comfortable.

So there you have it - my morning skincare routine. Six products but it takes me less than five minutes to complete and leaves my skin looking and feeling its best. What more could I ask for?

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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

An Easy Introduction to SEO for Bloggers An Easy Introduction to SEO for Bloggers

An easy introduction to SEO which is specifically aimed at bloggers with no technical know how

Generally on julie-ellen, I write about the things I love - beauty news and reviews, with a little fashion and lifestyle for good measure. Occasionally I will even write about my efforts to lose  weight or to increase my health and fitness levels. Its all good fun! There is no doubt though that blogging isn't just about fun. As everyone who has tried it knows, writing a blog is incredibly hard work and in the 18 months I have been blogging I have had to learn  to do things I had no experience of before, like photography, editing, web design, negotiation, accounting and so on. I definitely do not hold myself up as any kind of an expert in these areas but hopefully I can help some of you by sharing the things I have learned. So I have decided to set up a series of posts called Working Wednesdays where I will share some of my thoughts on the more complicated areas of blogging and hopefully in the comment sections, you will share your experience with me too. 

Search Engine Optimisation

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation which describes how we can try to influence where search engines rank our blogs. I am definitely no expert on any of this stuff but I have learned a fair bit over the last few years of blogging so today I thought I would share what I have learned with you in this Easy Introduction to SEO for Bloggers.

Let the Spiders In  

The very first thing to do is make sure that you have given Search Engines permission to check out your blog. From your Blogger dashboard select Settings, then Basic, then Privacy. You will see two questions, answer yes to both and press save. Now the robots can check out your blog and decide how to rank it.

Content Really IS Key 

It is important to have at least 500 words in every post because Google robots may rank posts with less words than that lower than those with 500 or more. Also try to post often and most important of all, try to post regularly. Google will not rank you highly if it doesn’t think you are reliable.


Another simple thing which you can do to improve your SEO, is to add a blog description. Simply go back to the dashboard, select Settings, then Basic, then Search Preferences. At the top of the page you will see the words Meta Tags with a box which says Description underneath. Click edit, type in your chosen description and save. Think carefully about what you write. This is what will show up in the search engines' listings under your blog name. Aim for about 155 characters. Use keywords that are relevant for your blog. I have used Scottish, beauty, stylish, lifestyle and mature - all keywords I hope people may type in to find my blog. 


Before you even start to write your post, first decide what your keywords for that post will be. So for example if you are posting about your favourite pink lipsticks for summer I would suggest that your keywords might be those 3 words. ‘Pink’, ‘Lipsticks’ and ‘Summer’. Try to use those 3 words in the first and last paragraphs and maybe once or twice more through the body of your post.


Tempting as it might be to pick an achingly cool, cryptic title, it really is much better for SEO purposes to pick something very easy which uses your key words and makes it very clear to your readers what the post is about. So using the previous example, I would recommend you simply name the post something like ‘My Favourite Pink Lipsticks for Summer”.


These can be really important for SEO but on blogger all the hard work is done for you. Your first main heading is automatically your title so all you have to do is use the drop down menu and select Minor Headings for your paragraph headings. Thanks blogger for making SEO so easy.


Before you upload your images rename them using a title relevant to your post. So in my Pink Lipsticks for Summer Post I might rename each of my images with the brand and Lipstick name e.g Mac-flat-out-fabulous-jpg before I even think about uploading them.

Resize Your Images 

Loading speed is a significant ranking factor for search engines.  Never let Blogger resize for you. Use editing software, whether paid like Photoshop or free like Picmonkey and resize your images to the size needed for your blog. 

Title Text 

Once you have uploaded your renamed and resized images it is time to get serious with the SEO. Click on the image and you will see a menu that includes the option ‘Properties’. Click on that and you will get an ‘Image Properties’ Box with two blank fields. The first field is the Title Text. The Title Text should be descriptive. Something like An image of my favourite pink lipsticks which are perfect for the summer months. 

Alt Text 

This should be shorter and in bullet points. I like to either use my keywords or the same name I used when renaming the image. So if it was an image of all the lipsticks I wrote about in the post my alt text would be Pink-Lipsticks-Summer. For a single product I would use the brand name and shade number or description, for example Mac-FlatOut Fabulous-pink-lipstick.

Create a Custom URL 

Blogger automatically generates a URL for every post, but you should always consider whether you can improve it by adding in your keywords. To change your URL, simply click on the 'Permalink' button on the right hand side of the screen when editing 
your post and change the settings to 'Custom Permalink', this will then allow you to create your own URL. 

Search Descriptions 

I know I am starting to sound like a boring record but before you hit publish you should always complete the search description box. It doesn’t have to be long, in fact it’s better if it isn’t, just keep it short and too the point. Something like - A post about my collection of pink lipsticks, both high end and budget, bold and subtle, all different and all perfect for summer.

Use Links 

The final tip I have for you if you're serious about improving your blog’s SEO is to work on increasing your links. I have spoken in more detail about this in my last Working Wednesday post where I shared my Ten Tips To Increase Your Blog Traffic but it is really easy. You can improve your SEO by guest posting on other blogs, by linking within your own posts to earlier posts you've written and even by linking back to your blog from your various social media accounts. Simple so there's no excuse not to do it. 

So there you have it my Easy Introduction to SEO for Bloggers. I know it was a long one so well done for making it to the end. I really hope it helps. 
If you have any tips that would help the rest of us, why not spread the love by posting them below.
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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

W By Ted Baker W By Ted Baker

As the nights get lighter and the days grow warmer, I like to switch up not just my clothes and makeup but my perfume too. In winter I love to wear deep, dark fragrances but in summer I like something lighter, more floral but I do still like warm undertones. Girl's got to do sexy - right?

W by Ted Baker is the perfect summer choice. 

First of all can we take a moment to appreciate the super pretty packaging. The W gift set for women features Ted’s S/S15 Distinguishing Rose design - gorgeous. 

W is the ideal fragrance for summer, delicately floral with top notes of peony, rose petal, orchid and cedar, mid notes of tonka bean, musk and vetiver and base notes of amber and coriander. Ticks all of my boxes!!

The set is available from The Perfume Shop for just £14.99 and contains 30ml of Eau de Toilette, 100ml Body Wash and 100 mls of Body Lotion.  Perfect for layering!!

What fragrance will you be wearing this summer?

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Monday, 27 April 2015

Mondays Munchies - Chicken and Chorizo Pasta Mondays Munchies - Chicken and Chorizo Pasta

I am a carb monster. I love my carbs. I also love chorizo and I love chicken so it was only a matter of time till I came up with a way to put them all together in one dish. And it is DELICIOUS and super duper easy and quick to make. So I thought I would share it with you - cos I am nice like that....

  • First put about 300g of pasta on to boil. I like to use wholemeal pasta to keep my blood sugar balanced but it's a matter of personal choice.
  • While the pasta's boiling, fry 100g of chorizo in a non stick pan. There is no need to add oil, plenty will come out of the chorizo but make sure the heat is low, you don't want it to burn. Cook the chorizo for about 8 minutes, turning once half way through. Once cooked, remove the chorizo from the pan and put to one side. 
  • In the oil released from the chorizo, fry a chicken breast thinly sliced. . 
  • Once the chicken is cooked add your veggies. I like to keep it simple with just one diced onion and two sliced peppers but you could pop in any others you have kicking about the fridge.
  • Once the veggies are soft, add the chorizo back in and stir well. Sometimes instead of chicken I use King Prawns. I would add them after the veggies though, they only take a few minutes to cook.
  • Meanwhile test the pasta which should be ready to go. When ready, drain then add to the frying pan.
  • Finally add two or three tablespoon of red pesto and stir well. 

This recipe serves two greedy adults with enough leftovers for a couple of lunches. I like to serve mine with lots of freshly ground black pepper but you could add a sprinkling of parmesan if you fancied.

This tasty dish really has become one of Brian and I's favourite midweek meals. I hope you enjoy it too x
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Sunday, 26 April 2015

Controversy Corner - Fat Shaming Controversy Corner - Fat Shaming

Controversy Corner

I am a lifestyle and beauty blogger first and foremost. I started my blog to write about lipsticks, and learn how to photograph pretty things. That doesn’t mean though, that I am superficial and have a head full of glitter. I do have a brain, a mind that questions and a tongue that can and often does get me into trouble. This side of me is not the Jules most of you know but every now and then she wants to be heard. So let me introduce you to Controversy Corner - the space on my blog where the bolshier Jules gets the opportunity to say what she thinks about whatever topic takes my fancy. The views expressed in Controversy Corner may not always be the same as yours but that’s okay. We all are entitled to our own opinion and this is mine.

Fat Shaming

There has been a lot of chat this week about Fat Shaming. It started with Loose Women panellist and former singer Jamelia who stated that High Street stores should not stock plus sizes as they would encourage young people to continue to lead an unhealthy lifestyle. Instead Jamelia believes that young people who need larger sizes should be made to feel uncomfortable, with the inference that if they feel abnormally large they might be shamed into losing weight. As you might expect there was an immediate and ferocious twitter backlash with woman of all sizes responding with the #wearethey hashtag and tweeting photographs in which they looked fierce and fabulous regardless of the numbers on their labels.

Body shape is a very personal thing. I love the way clothes look on someone who is very thin but has curves. In my dreams, that would be my figure. Some people like a softer more rounded shape, some like to be really very skinny and some prefer a more muscular, athletic shape. Whatever your preference, how you look or aspire to look is obviously your business and none else’s. 

So far, so very obvious!!

Where it becomes less clear cut however is when the choices people make are damaging their health. I have a somewhat unique view as someone who has literally been at both ends of the weight spectrum. I have struggled throughout my life with various eating disorders. 

At one stage in my life I was super skinny but I got there by seriously restricting my food intake and had a ridiculously unhealthy diet. My periods stopped and I could barely run for a bus. Healthy? Not so much! 

And then came the stage where I was at a really healthy weight and to an onlooker would appear to have a very healthy attitude to food. I seemed to eat well - in public at least. In private I binged on huge quantities of super unhealthy food then purged it, sometimes many times a day. My teeth crumbled and my skin, hair and nails snapped. I was a healthy weight - but absolutely nothing else about me was healthy.

And what about now? I no longer purge (much) but I still struggle with binge eating and as a consequence I am overweight - substantially so. Obesity increases the risk of diabetes, strokes, heart disease and many cancers. I am pretty fit, can run 5k without dying but I don’t kid myself that the impact of my weight on my health is anything but damaging.

My point is that although I totally accept that it would be good for my health to lose 30 pounds, the truth is that as a size 16 I am probably the healthiest I have been since I left primary school. If however you tried to shame me into losing that 30lbs, the result would probably be a relapse into my old unhealthy ways with potentially disastrous consequences for my health.

Does that mean I want my daughter to be overweight like me? Absolutely not. My daughter has a beautiful slim figure with curves in all the right places and despite one little slip a couple of years ago, she has an incredibly relaxed attitude to food. She eats what she wants and because she has no issues with weight or food, over time she eats exactly what her body needs, a perfectly balanced diet. 

I strongly believe that whatever you think you know, you cannot make assumptions about someones health based solely on the way they look. Unless you are their doctor, you have no business passing comment on whether in your opinion someone should lose or gain some weight.

In answer to Jamelia, shaming people into losing weight will never work. Encouraging them to obsess about their size or weight will achieve nothing positive. What we should all be striving for is to forget about the numbers. For the sake of our physically and mental health we should all try to love our bodies enough to nourish them and treat them well. 

As I said at the start this is just my opinion. I am not a doctor, a nutritionist or a politician. Everything I have written is my opinion only. Your opinion may be different. If it is then you are entitled to hold it but why not share it with us in the comments below.
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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Five Blogs Everyone Should Follow Five Blogs Everyone Should Follow

Long before I was a beauty blogger, I was a huge fan of reading other peoples blogs. Every day without fail, I would spend hours pouring over my Bloglovin feed, reading all the latest beauty news, reviews and tutorials. Quite honestly, being part of the blogging community was one of the principal reasons that I started blogging. And even now that I have my own little corner of the Internet where I spend stupid amounts of time writing my own blog, there are still some bloggers writing posts which are just too good to miss. So today I thought I would do you all a kindness and introduce you to the five blogs that EVERYONE should follow

The Sunday Girl is literally always the first blog I open each day. I simply love everything about this blog, the images, content and writing style are all sheer perfection. I am continually awestruck by the industry of its author Adrienne who publishes multiple posts a day, every day. If you are interested in beauty and read blogs, this should be on your feed. What not everyone might know though is that Adrienne also writes another blog called Swedish Blue which is less about beauty and more about everything else. Love it and her. I am a bit creepy aren't I?

Expat Make Up Addict is another blog I would strongly recommend you visit this month. Written by Stacey a British expat living and working in Dubai, this blog is particularly appealing to those of us who lust after the more luxurious end of the beauty market. Stacey's hauls are the stuff of my dreams. If I won the lottery I would spend my winning on hauls like Stacey's. But I haven't so I can't. Instead I live vicariously through her blog. But Stacey doesn't just write about make up. Look a little closer and you will find some very personal posts on Expat Beauty Addict, beautifully written, sensitive, emotional pieces that will make you think about what life really means and other philosophical gems.

A Life With Frills  is another blog written by a Scottish blogger. Described by Laura Pearson-Smith the author, as a diary of a stylish life A life with Frills is a girly affair filled with pretty little treats. What I love most about A Life With Frills though is its honesty - if Laura doesn't rate a product, she will make that very clear. And if you like the way Laura writes on her blog, there is more to enjoy. Stylecation, is a luxury lifestyle Magazine founded and edited by Laura. But I warn you now, there is food porn a-plenty.

Liberty Loves Makeup  is the blog I go to on payday.  It is the blog I can never read without opening an app and beginning yet another wishlist. To illustrate my point, last night I read Liberty Loves Makeup and found a Nars lipstick called Julie!!!! Who even knew? But obviously I have to buy it right??? Laura the author is a temptress, an enabler who features ALL the best stuff. If you're on a spending ban this blog might be best avoided, but for everyone else this is a blog you HAVE to follow.


Through The Mirror  is a slightly more recent addition to my list of favourite blogs. Written by 19 year old Caitlin, this blog is so professional looking it is hard to believe it is less than five months old.  As with the other blogs I have featured, Through the Mirror features beauty news and reviews but it stands out for the quality of the images, and it's useful tips on how to improve your own blog. 

So there you have them, the five blogs I think everyone should follow this month. But there is room on my reading pane for more. So spread some blogging love. Which blogs do you recommend?
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Friday, 24 April 2015

Summer Jewellery - The Crocus by Gabriella Casemore at Jewel Street Summer Jewellery - The Crocus by Gabriella Casemore at Jewel Street

Picture of jEWELLERY bOX
Crocus Necklace in a Box
The Crocus by Gabrielle Casemore
The Crocus by Gabrielle Casemore
The Crocus by Gabrielle Casemore

Hasn’t the weather been amazing in the UK this week. I don’t know about you but as soon as there is the slightest hint of summer, I get the urge to revamp my entire life. I pack away all of my chunky knits and pull out my lighter, brighter summer clothes. My makeup gets an overhaul too and even the colours that I paint on my nails change from darks to brights and pastels. (If you are interested, here is my post on what the best dressed nails are wearing this Spring).
This year I was given the opportunity to take my annual wardrobe spring clean to a whole new level when I was sent the perfect piece of summer jewellery - a beautifully crafted necklace from the Crocus Collection by  jewellery maker Gabriella Casemore.

Gabriella Casemore is part of an ever growing community of skilled jewellery makers in the UK and proudly sources her materials and keeps all of her production here. She works from Hove but sells her collection through, through her own website and through select galleries and boutiques nationwide.

When I first opened the little gift box, I was instantly struck by the prettiness of this piece. Like so much of Gabriella’s work, it really showed the designer’s love of flowers, which makes it perfect for this time of year.  The strong but simple design of the necklace, which represents a crocus etched from sterling silver, has a freshness and an elegance that really appeals to me. Included in the very reasonable price of just £52 is a very fine sterling silver chain which suits the design perfectly but if you would prefer a more substantial look, the bale has been made big enough to accommodate a much heavier chain.

What appeals to me most about this necklace is that once on the neckline, it could stay there throughout the summer, becoming your signature piece. It really would work whatever the occasion, whether that is a day at the beach or a night on the town.  
If you are interested in this or any other pieces from the Gabriella Casemore Collection, you can find a wide selection of her pieces on Jewel Street.

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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Working Wednesdays - Ten Tips To Increase Your Blog Traffic Working Wednesdays - Ten Tips To Increase Your Blog Traffic

The Title Image - Working Wednesdays

Generally on julie-ellen, I write about the things I love - beauty news and reviews, with a little fashion and lifestyle for good measure. Occasionally I will even write about my efforts to lose  weight or to increase my health and fitness levels. Its all good fun! There is no doubt though that blogging isn't just about fun. As everyone who has tried it knows, writing a blog is incredibly hard work and in the 18 months I have been blogging I have had to learn  to do things I had no experience of before, like photography, editing, web design, negotiation, accounting and so on. I definitely do not hold myself up as any kind of an expert in these areas but hopefully I can help some of you by sharing the things I have learned. So I have decided to set up a series of posts called Working Wednesdays where I will share some of my thoughts on the more complicated areas of blogging and hopefully in the comment sections, you will share your experience with me too.

Every blogger wants to increase their numbers right? I know I do! I started this blog  as a hobby (some hobby, I spend more time on it than on my full time job!!) but it's such a compliment when people read what I write and enjoy it enough to come back. So for the last few months instead of concentrating on followers, the number I have focussed on most was my page views, the number of people who visit my blog both for the first time and my returning visitors. During these months, I have found some simple ways to increase  these numbers so today I thought I would share with you 10 tips to increase YOUR blog traffic.

Content - It might seem obvious but WHAT you write about really IS the most important factor. If you want to increase traffic to your blog, you need to offer something to your reader, whether that be information, advice or entertainment. In addition, you need to consider not just what people are interested in NOW but also what they will continue to be interested in this time NEXT year. If you get this right then the blog post you write today, will still be generating the same number of hits next year as it does tomorrow. 

Title - A killer title really can make a HUGE difference to the amount of traffic a blog post gets. There are two ways of looking at this. Some people like to keep it cryptic in order to catch people's attention in the hope that they will then visit their blog to find out more. Personally I prefer a more straight forward approach. I like the title of my post to make it very clear to my potential readers what my post is all about. That way my readers know what they are getting which keeps my bounce rate low. (But that's a whole other Working Wednesday) post. 

Appearance - Hey we are beauty and fashion bloggers - looks matter! But you don't need to spend lots of money to have a great looking blog. There are lots of things you can do yourself to make your blog attractive to your readers. For me the most important elements are a layout which is easy to navigate and a font that is comfortable to read. By making your blog visually appealing  to your readers, you will make sure they pop back for a second visit. 

Images - Blog Photography is another topic I will cover in much more detail in a future Working Wednesday post but it's such a key part of attracting visitors to your blog and ensuring that they become regulars, that I simply could NOT write a post on blog traffic without mentioning images. Whilst it is definitely NOT essential that you spend mega bucks on a posey camera and lighting, I would say it IS essential that you spend a bit of time (hell make that a LOT of time) learning how to take a decent blog photo. 

Promotion - Obviously no one is going to visit your blog if they don't know it's there so you really do have to get out and do some PR. Try to be a little creative in your promotion, Twitter's great but try other ways of advertising your blog posts. I will be writing a whole post about Creative Ways To Promote Your Blog in the next few weeks so look out for that. 

About Me - I like to know a little bit about the person behind a blog and their about me page is one of the first I head to. It helps me feel connected to the blogger which in turn encourages me to return. If you want to turn every visitor into a regular reader, one of the ways you can do it is to write a really attractive About Me page. 

Get Involved - For a long time after I started blogging I was convinced that the only people who read my posts were other bloggers. Nowadays the majority of my traffic comes directly from Google but a significant proportion of my readers are still have their own blogs. And that's hardly surprising. Who else would be as obsessed as I am with everything new in beauty? There is a strong community of bloggers out there and it's important to take your place in it. I've heard it said that the blogosphere can be cliquey and I have to admit some of its members bear a strong resemblance to the lead characters from Mean Girls,  but in my experience most are a really friendly bunch. It can be hard to just put yourself out there but make the effort and you will be glad that you did. Not only can other bloggers represent a significant proportion of your blog traffic, they can be your new best friends. After all, you all have something in common. Your passion for blogging!! 

Comments - A great way to get involved with other bloggers is to start commenting on your favourite blogs. And when I say comment, I do not mean, spam other blogs with your link. What I mean is that when you are reading a blog post that you enjoy, let the blogger know. If they write a positive review of a product you didn't get on with, share that experience. And when readers comment on your posts, answer those comments, start a conversation, build a relationship.

Guest Blogging - Another way to build relationships is to ask other bloggers to guest post on your blog. Hopefully they will bring some of their readers with them and they will like what they see and come back. You could also offer to guest post on other people's blogs. If those readers enjoy your post, they may pop over to your blog to read more.

Improve Your SEO - I will write a whole post about this soon but I really do recommend that if you are serious about growing your blog, you read up on SEO and learn how to use it to persuade google to rank you more highly. Since I have improved my SEO, I have increased my Google ranking and watched my page views increase significantly. Nowadays most of traffic comes from Google and that has made a huge difference to my blog traffic.

I hope you have found some of these tips helpful but now it is your turn. Why not help out your fellow bloggers and share your No 1 tip for increasing blog traffic in the comments below. 

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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

My Little Dream Box My Little Dream Box

My Little Dream Box

I used to be signed up for every beauty subscription boxes going but gradually I stopped them, one by one, as I tired of their sample sizes, repetitive choices and the sheer sameness of each to the others. My Little Box is the only one of the bunch to survive. Why? Because of its originality, because I never knew what to expect and because I still look forward to receiving it every single month. To be accurate, My Little Box is not just a Beauty Box, it is a whimsical collection of beauty, style and lifestyle pieces that never fail to make me smile, 

Contents ofMy Little Dream Box

This months box was called My Little Dream Box and it was as whimsical as ever. First out was the magazine though which as always was full of How To articles for hair and nails, and interviews with celebrities like Caroline Hirons who shared her skincare wisdom with us.

Contents of My Little Dream Box

I particularly loved these little fluffy clouds - the first with it's inspirational Disney quote...

Contents of My Little Dream Box

And the second hiding a secret, little gift...

Contents ofMy Little Dream Box

            This beautiful little coin bracelet - I looked it up, Belle Etoile means beautiful star - awww!

Contents ofMy Little Dream Box

And as always the box contained some lovely beauty gifts hidden inside their own linen pouch.

Contents ofMy Little Dream Box

A solid perfume stick, luxury face mask and highly pigmented lip tint for that berry stained look.

Contents ofMy Little Dream Box

The final treat hidden in My Little Dream Box was this Stamping Kit with its collection of inspirational sayings. Lovely to have and use in your notebooks or on envelopes to friends.

If you fancy treating yourself to the May edition of My Little Box, you can sign up at the My Little Box website for just £11 plus p&p. I am looking forward to mine already.
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Monday, 20 April 2015

Monday's Menus Monday's Menus

So if I was to share one tip for weight loss success it would be to plan, plan plan. Every week on a Sunday, I plan my food for the week and stock my cupboards with everything I need. And when I say everything, I really do mean EVERYTHING right down to the snacks I try to eat 3 times a day in addition to my three main meals. Eating so regularly means my blood sugar levels stay even and I rarely get hungry which really helps stop the cravings that used to sabotage every effort I made to lose this excess weight. I thought it might help me to stay on track if I posted my weekly menus here and might even help those of you on your own weight loss journeys.

So here is this week's plan.

Monday - Breakfast - Branflakes with a sliced banana and skimmed milk
Snack - Greek Yoghurt with seeds
Lunch - Warburton Thin topped with Light Philly and smoked Salmon with lots of crunchy salad on the side.
Snack - Handful of Nuts
Snack - Green Smoothie with Mango and Banana
Dinner - Sausage and mash - sounds naughty I know but I use very low fat sausages and make my mash with sweet potatoes. Served with a home made onion gravy, this is perfect comfort food.

Tuesday - Breakfast - Fruit with Greek Yoghurt
Snack - Carrots with Hummus
Lunch - Homemade Soup - this week's with be Split Pea made with a ham hough which I love and is very filling.
Snack - Banana
Snack - Smoothie with Yoghurt, skimmed milk and berries
Dinner - Chicken breast cooked in a foil parcel with spices and served with purple sprouting broccolli and brown rice. Stereotypically healthy food but it's one of my favourite meals of the week.

Wednesday - Breakfast - Greek Yoghurt with Honey and Seeds
Snack - Oatcakes with light Philly 
Lunch - Soup again.
Snack - Fruit Salad 
Snack - Green Smoothie with Apple and Carrot
Dinner - Sweet potato and spinach stew - this is a spicy vegetarian concoction made with a dollop of peanut butter - DELISH!

Thursday - Breakfast - Porridge
Snack - Large Orange 
Lunch - Leftover Stew
Snack - Oatcakes and Hummus
Snack - Green smoothie with Pineapple and Mango
Dinner - 3 bean chilli made with kidney beans, chick peas and butter beans and served with brown rice - I do love my carbs.

Friday  - Breakfast - Overnight Oats
Snack - Greek yoghurt and seeds 
Lunch - Leftover chilli 
Snack - Fruit Salad
Snack - Beetroot apple and ginger juice 
Dinner - Chicken and chorizo pasta 

Saturday - Brunch - Bacon medallions, low fat sausage, egg and beans 
Snack - Crackers and cheese
Dinner - Lentil Dahl with brown rice and Naan

Sunday - Brunch - Repeat of yesterday
Sunday Lunch-  Roast chicken with loads of veg and sweet potato roasties followed by fruit salad - YUM
Late snack - Hot Choc with a toasted crumpet and jam - lovely end to a delicious week.

If you would like any of the recipes I'm using this week or have any favourites you would like to share, please use the comment box below. 

Onwards and downwards xxx
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Saturday, 18 April 2015

Summertime Sandals from Jones Bootmakers Summertime Sandals from Jones Bootmakers

I love shoes. At the start of every season I like to treat myself and for summer, its all about the sandal. Who doesn't love a good summer sandal? Whether its a flat was invited to have a look through the Jones Bootmakers Spring Summer 2015 Lookbook and some of the sandals were just too good not to share. 

Gabor Eartha Casual Sandals

Gabor Eartha Casual Sandals - £70 - these are the perfect relaxed sandal for summer sightseeing.

Jones Bootmaker Hannah Casual Sandals
Hannah Casual Sandals £69 - these are the perfect choice for hot summer nights.

Jones Bootmaker Kate Casual Sandals
Kate Casual Sandals £49 - I LOVE these!

Gabor Karen Wedge Heeled Sandals

Gabor Karen Wedge Heeled Sandals £85 - everyone needs a pair of wedges this summer.

Jones Bootmaker Jasper Heeled Sandals
 Jasper Heeled Sandals £79 - I adore the woven upper.

Joanna Heeled Sandals
Joanna Heeled Sandals £79 - Aren't these pretty?

Jennie Heeled Sandals
Jennie Heeled Sandals £85 - the summer version of my winter boots.

If you want to check out the full range from Jones Bootmakers, you will find it here.
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Friday, 17 April 2015

NailBox Launches in the UK NailBox Launches in the UK

Nail box and Contents April 2015

Nail box and Contents April 2015

Nail box Polishes April 2015

Nails are such an important part of how we look. Nicely manicured hands just make you look so put together somehow. I love nothing more than treating myself to a new colour especially at this time of year with all the bright summertime shades. Click here to read about What the Best Dressed Nails will be Wearing This Spring/Summer.

The newest beauty subscription box to launch in the UK is the NailBox. 

Costing between £13.50 and £15.00 depending on your subscription package, each box will contain a total of five mystery items; three or four nail polishes, and one or two nail accessories. Each box is set to be delivered on or around the 21st of each month, perfect for brightening the last week of the month.

As you can see in my photos above, this months box contains the most perfect summertime shades from O.P.I., China Glaze, Revlon and Essie, as well as an Essie nail file - for less than fifteen quid - isn't that CRAZY value? With only 100 of these limited edition first boxes available to purchase, if you want one you will have to be quick. 

Available to purchase here.

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Sunday, 12 April 2015

GIVEAWAY - Origins Mask Marvels - Get your skin ready for summer... GIVEAWAY - Origins Mask Marvels - Get your skin ready for summer...

As the days get lighter and the weather heats up, it is not just my clothes that change, my makeup does too. Out go the heavy bases and dark purple lipsticks that I have been wearing all winter and in come tinted moisturisers, illuminators and light, bright lips and nails. 

I really love the look of summer, the beachy highlighted hair and tanned glowing skin but I know that to really pull it off, I have to make sure my skin is in tip top condition.
And thats where the Origins Mask Marvels come in.

This little set contains a mask for everyones skin, no matter what its issues are. Just think of it like a first aid kit for your face!

So what's in there?

Clear Improvement 
Origins say - When environmental pollutants, dirt and debris get under your skin, its waste-filtering system gets jammed, pores get clogged, skin looks cloudy. Nature's complexion clean-up crew gets to the bottom of skins overcast condition and clears the way for it to act its best. Activated Charcoal acts like a magnet to draw out pore-cloggers, White China Clay absorbs environmental pollutants, Lecithin dissolves impurities. Without all that "stuff" down there, skin "breathes a sigh of relief."
I like to use this mask once a week or so while I am relaxing in a hot steamy bath. I apply a thick layer, lie back with my eyes shut and let it do its stuff. It takes about 5 mins to dry and when it does, I just wash it away with a damp facecloth. This is a very hard working product, it rids my skin of any old skin cells or other impurities that can cause blemishes. Clear Improvement is a preventative mask which helps keeps my skin clear and fresh looking and if I miss a week I really notice the difference.

Out of Trouble 
Origins say - When skin is too-slick skin or when more pressing problems start to pop up, it's Origins to the rescue to keep skin out of trouble. Nature's trouble-shooters, including super-absorbent Zinc Oxide and Sulfur, calming Camphor plus skin-sloughing Salicylic Acid, rapidly respond to problem skin's plight with a three-part plan - sop up oily-shine, slough off sticky, dead cells, and sweep away irksome debris. Together they steer skin clear of slippery situations, refine rough texture and pull the plug on troublemakers to oust potential outbursts.
This is the mask I turn to when despite my best efforts my skin just isn't cooperating. Maybe a patch of spots have reared their ugly heads, or my skin looks dull or stressed. This product is my problem solver and I use it only in times of emergency. In just 10 mins this little mask can really help to clear the skin of blemishes and reduce redness and inflammation. It is also a lifesaver if your skin is seriously dry with rough or flaky patches. Out of Trouble has a weird toothpaste smell and is not the most pleasant mask to use but if you need to bring out the big guns and get your skin back on track, this mask will do the biz.

Drink It Up Intensive
Origins say - Skin depends on water for its youthful functioning. But all day long, skin loses vital moisture. And the busier you are, the more it loses. This intense moisture replacement mask with Avocado Oil and Apricot Kernel Oil deeply and instantly quenches compromised moisture reserves and builds a reservoir for tomorrow. Japanese Seaweed repairs skin's barrier to prevent future dehydration and signs of premature ageing.
This is my favourite mask of the three. Twice a week after cleansing, I apply a thick layer all over my face and neck and simply leave it to work its magic overnight. It is invisible so I don't scare my OH though to be honest this one is so good, I would use it even if it meant looking like Kermit the Frog. It has that wonderful, fruity smell so many Origins products do and its jam packed full of skin treats like hyaluronic acid to rehydrate the skin. I am no Caroline Hirons though, all I know is that when I use Drink It Up Intensive overnight, I wake up looking like I have had an early morning facial, with skin that looks plump and juicy - summertime magic!

These three masks can be bought separately  for about £23 for 100mls but the Mask Marvels kit contains 75mls of each one of them, meaning you are prepared for whatever skin emergency the summer may bring. 

To say thank you to you all for reading Julie-ellen and the friendship and support you have shown me throughout my blogging journey, I have a Mask Marvels kit for one of you, to help you perfect your skin for summer. All you have to do is follow me on Bloglovin', and on Twitter so I can let you know you have won.

Huge hugs and good luck xxx

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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