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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, and consuming with a conscience

March 30, 2016

Bold Lips

As a lover of lipstick since my early teen years, it has taken a lot of trial and error to work out what I like and what suits me but there's still some colours I just want to be able to wear that I know I probably can't (namely deep browns and bright pinks - I look *too* fake and practically plastic in both). That being said, I think a bold lip can be such a nice way to experiment and make a look feel very different. If you're thinking of wearing a plain white tee and a pair of jeans, a red lip can always give it another dimension - so why not some other colours?

Another colour I've loved to wear for years is black. There's just something about it with some really polished contour, highlight and brows that looks so nice, but I'm always the Worrier Wendy who keeps that colour solely for Halloween because I don't have the confidence to wear it any other time. It used to be difficult to get your hands on bold lip products for a cheaper price tag, but now brands like MUA and Makeup Revolution are making it easy - so how do you wear them?

My favourite, fool-proof way is definitely to play the rest of your look down. I think as long as you don't go to town too much on the blush or bronzer, and you don't make your eye makeup too heavy, you'll never run the risk of looking clownish or ready for a stint in front of Ru Paul's judging eyes.

A great brand for experimenting with this idea is Nyx Cosmetics. Nyx are one of my favourite affordable brands as their products are great quality and for pretty low prices. Their lip products include some of my all-time favourites, but their Liquid Suede Cream Lipsticks were something I'd previously not tried. These lipsticks are your typical matte velvet formula that has been popular amongst most brands recently. The difference between these ones and other brands? These Suede editions come in some really vibrant colours - from violets to the most summery oranges. I picked up two shades that I'd always wanted to try - a bright orange (Orange County) and a cement grey (Stone Fox). I was pleasantly surprised to see that both colours actually worked on me (I think?) and gave a great finish.

These liquid lipsticks have your typical doe-foot applicator but its weirdly extended which can sometimes help or hinder application depending on how precise you are. The weird doe-foot applicator aside, the product itself applies effortlessly but be warned - it takes an eternity to dry! I've applied Orange County before and seen it still be tacky and attempting to sit a full 20 minutes after I originally put it on. Once they do set however they do actually have the finish of suede so the name certainly suits. The wear time on these isn't the best, I would say if you're wearing them for a party or a night out, you'll be relatively fine, but once you start drinking and eating, they will flake a great deal. They're quite drying and due to such a high pigment in their colour, they do settle into the natural creases of your lips easily and can flake if your lips haven't been moisturised beforehand. Although they might not be the most convenient lip product as once they begin to flake, they're so thick and hard to set that reapplying would just create a mess, I would definitely suggest you give them a go if you need to do some bright makeup looks for photography, fancy dress, or just for short dates!

- A.
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March 28, 2016


Yellow is my favourite colour but I often find it a really difficult colour to wear. Being a pale yellow-toned girl, it can often wash me out or even worse, blend in my skin tone too well *shudders*. That being said, there's one shade of yellow I always gravitate towards and that is mustard. I love mustard coloured jumpers, mustard woolly beanie hats, mustard nail varnish... And now this dress. This gorgeous boho dress will be beautiful in summer but I haven't been able to resist wearing it now. With an under slip, a good coat and some boots, its instantly ready for spring.

It's my birthday tomorrow!!! I never used to get excited about birthdays as a teen, but I seem to be getting more giddy the older I get. I'll be turning 25 which makes me want to vomit and it is inevitable that the questions like "where are you going with your career? when are you having a baby? when are you getting married?" are going to start rolling in, so I'm going to carry on wearing my cowboy print pajamas whilst eating nutella out of the jar, watching Disney movies so everyone takes the hint. I'm still not ready to adult yet.

New Look Suede Jacket | H&M Dress | Topshop Fringe Bag | To Be Announced Western Boots via Urban Outfitters

- A.
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March 25, 2016

Chicken Thigh Curry & Cauliflower Rice

Hello you wonderful people! Today, I thought I'd share with you a favourite meal in the Amy & Matt household and it is, of course, something spicy. This is the first ever meal Matthew cooked for me when we started dating and it has been a favourite ever since. You know those meals when someone said you're having that tonight that just make you go *yaaaasss*? You betcha, it's one of those.

This chicken thigh baked curry might not be the most convenient of curries as its not out a jar, but its definitely worth the extra effort - it tastes amazing. We tend to have it with cauliflower rice so it's not too bad for you. Matt cooked it up and I tried to get some photos and details from the chef himself to give you some guidance on what you're supposed to be doing. It's a recipe from River Cottage but has been tweaked here and there!

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

What you'll need:
- 2 heaped tsp cumin seeds
- 2 heaped tsp coriander seeds
- 1 heaped tsp fennel seeds
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp ground fenugreek
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 large green chilli, roughly chopped
- 1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, roughly chopped
- 3-4 tbsp sunflower or groundnut oil
- 4-6 chicken thighs (depending on how many mouths you're feeding)
- 400g tin of tomatoes
- 400ml tin of coconut milk
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

... The beer is totally optional ingredient that goes straight to the chef, of course.

To prep & cook:
1.) Toast the cumin, coriander, and fennel seed in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes max until they leave the kitchen smelling delish. Then throw them into a pestle and mortar and grind them up until a rough powder is formed then mix in the turmeric and fenugreek.

2.) Next, blitz the onion, garlic, green chilli, and ginger in a food processor. It should create a thick coarse paste and keep it to one side. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over a medium to high heat and add the chicken thighs. Season them and make sure the skin is fully brown all over. Then transfer them to a large roasting dish or chilli pot and make sure they're lying skin-side up.

**Masterchef Matt's pro tip: If you're trying to de-skin fresh root ginger,
use a teaspoon to scrape off its coat - it'll make your life easier!**

3.) Whilst those are sitting waiting, reduce the heat your frying pan is on and add the spice mix from the pestle and mortar to the leftover juices and oil from the chicken. Lightly fry the mix for a minute or two then add the paste from the food processor. Fry for about 5 minutes and stir occasionally until the paste is soft and reduced slightly. If the mixture sticks to the pan at any point, don't hesitate to add a little more oil!

**Masterchef Matt's pro tip: heating up your dry spices in a dry frying pan helps wake up the natural oils in them and therefore creates more flavour. Adding a teaspoon of coarse salt to the mix also helps whole spices break down easier to release more flavour**

4.) Next, preheat your oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4, ready for the chicken. Add your tinned toms and coconut milk to the unclean food processor and blitz it together. Add this to the frying pan mix and leave it to simmer - don't be alarmed if its quite pink to begin with! Stir the sauce constantly and add a teaspoon of salt and some pepper before pouring the sauce over those chicken thighs you have waiting in your roasting dish/chilli pot. Make sure the sauce has coated all of the chicken pieces but also make sure there's not too much sauce sitting on top of the chicken - if you can't see the chicken skin then it won't go nice and brown in the oven!

5.) Place the chicken dish into the preheated oven and let it bake for 1 hour or until the chicken has browned nicely on the top and is cooked through. Make sure you don't cover the chicken (e.g. with a lid or tin foil) and baste the chicken a couple of times during its 1 hour cooking time, just to keep it juicy. Lastly you need some rice ready to soak up that lovely sauce. By all means use your usual basmati, but if you want a slightly healthier, less carby version, grate or food process a whole cauliflower (depending on your portion sizes, a whole cauliflower will suit maybe 2-3 people. If you're having naan or poppadoms, go ahead and make it stretch to 4). Add a teaspoon of oil to a pan on a medium heat and throw the grated cauliflower in there. Move it around until it crisps up and fries - and there you go - healthy rice without any rice in sight!

And there you have it! This recipe is a goodie if you're cooking for a group of people or even if you're just making it for yourself - the sauce keeps for a couple of days in the fridge or just put it in some tupperware and stick it in the freezer so its quick and easy to make the next time. Thanks to Matt for being the superstar chef for this post!

- A.
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March 23, 2016

5 Spring Favourites

I thought about sharing some favourite products on here and realised I had a lot to sift through. Trying to condense it down to just 5 products was tough but it was surprisingly to see that when I really thought about it, lip products and mascaras didn't even come close to making the cut (and I would say those are the two things besides my eyebrow products that I need!). Surprises aside, I picked out these guys for a few reasons, and I'll let you know them all. They're all pretty well suited to the fact that the weather is starting to warm up a little bit and we're starting to get a little sun too, so if you need some ideas for some Sprin makeup must-haves, look no further!

Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer (£4.19) - I honestly feel like this concealer never needs an introduction or explanation amongst the blogging community because it is that highly talked about and loved, but its all for a good reason. This bargain priced concealer has been a firm favourite year-round for me since I started wearing makeup. It's thick but not *too* thick, it doesn't go cakey, it conceals both dark circles and spots/redness really well and yeah, its under £5. I think its especially great for Spring because no matter what, it always manages to keep me looking fresh and awake and if you prefer to wear less makeup when the months get hotter, this is a great option for just applying a product where you need it instead of wearing a full face. Best concealer is best.

The Balm's Mary Lou Manizer Highlighter (£17.50) - Again, this is a product that is raved about constantly but it truly is amazing. This highlight is a golden shimmery powder which suits just about everyone. I particularly like it because its a subtle golden highlight compared to the typical pinky or silver shimmers that you often find in more highlight formulas. Being yellow-toned, the golden shimmer is a nice match and this highlight in particular is just so nice to wear. You need the smallest amount and it will highlight wherever you want beautifully meaning you get quite a bit of product for your pennies. I also really love The Balm's packaging and this compact is fab as its mirror is pretty huge. Highlight is a staple piece of makeup for me in every season, but it is especially nice during the typically dewy and fresh Spring months!

Bourjois So Laque Ultra Shine Nail Polish (£5.99) - Although I'm loyal to Barry M as being my go-to for nail polish shades and formulas, Bourjois definitely come a close second. I often wear quite varied and bright shades of nail colours, but my absolute favourites to wear are always the more classic earthy and monochrome tones - as well as reds - which is something Bourjois do really well. With that being said a colour I usually don't get along with is pink. I'm just not a *pink girl* but this shade, "Beige Glamour" is beautiful on the nails. Its a really dusky rosey pink that gives nails a bit of a more mature finish. This deep blush shade is something that seems to be trending in the fashion world for Spring and new releases recently, so why not team your outfit palette with your nail colour too?

Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation (£3o.oo) - I know, I've picked a hyped product again but again I will argue why it deserves the hype it gets. This is probably my most high coverage foundation that has been used again and again and I can confidently say it is comfortable to wear and does a great job at keeping the promises it makes. Although I try to wear a lighter base these days, especially in the warmer months, this is my go-to for days when my skin is just not playing ball or when I have things like weddings or other special occasions to attend. The thick formula not only does a great deal at concealing any imperfections or blemishes, but it doesn't really need a primer, it helps us oily-skinners stay matte for longer, and the shade range suits pretty much every skin tone imaginable. Although its a thicker consistency, its a foundation that can be applied sparingly and still look great, its certainly buildable, and yeah it helps the oily girls but I have dry-skinned pals who rate this stuff too.

Natural Collection Blushed Cheeks (£1.99) - And from one price range to the other. This blush has again been a favourite for as long as I can remember enjoying makeup. Natural Collection are available at Boots and do some great affordable pieces. My favourite product of the brand is their blushers. They have 5 different colours which will all suit most people and they're so affordable. My favourite shade at the moment coming into Spring is Peach Melba. It's what you'd expect - a lovely peachy shade - but its not too orangey or coral toned and is quite pink too making it a really wearable and versatile colour no matter what makeup look you're going for. Despite being cheap as chips, I don't find these blushers to apply patchy and they don't look or set chalky making them truly a steal. If you haven't checked out this line, definitely hit it up for the warmer months and I promise there will be a shade in there that appeals to you for Spring.

What products are you loving for Spring 2016?

- A.
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March 21, 2016

Smart Casual

The weather is starting to fair up which means the thread-bare tees are working their way into my wardrobe again and I can finally just wear nice bras and burnout tee combos - what a winner!

I've also been loving this fedora I picked up in an Asos sale after Christmas... The colour is really complimentary to most outfits and the blue accents make my grey-blue eyes pop bright blue which is always a nice bonus. It's a soft felt brim which makes it much more comfortable to wear than my trusty rigid black fedora so I'm definitely going to be opting for this lighter alternative throughout spring.

Vintage Blazer (similar) | H&M Tee (similar) | Asos Skinny Jeans | Asos Fedora | Asos Men's Satchel | Asos Loafers

- A.
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March 18, 2016

Beamish Museum: Part One

During the February half term, I decided to visit home and see family and friends whilst I knew I had free time to burn. Whilst I was home both my mama and brother were off work and school too so we decided to spend a day at Beamish Museum.

Beamish Museum is literally 10 minutes away from where I grew up but believe it or not, I can only ever remember visiting the place once and that was on a school trip many moons ago. It's a huge open-air museum which has little villages, farms and high streets set up to make you feel like you're actually wandering through history. The park consists of areas ranging from the early 1800's to the 1940's and have staff and volunteers working and acting throughout the museum. You can wander into a 1900's dentist and talk to the dentist himself about the procedures and equipment, or you can go and pet the pit-ponies and ask the farmers about how they used to go down the coal mines and help lug the coal to the surface. It's such a surreal place because it does make you feel like you've entered a time warp. The museum doesn't have a lot of areas that are laid out like your stereotypical museum - e.g. with notice boards of information. This means you have to rely on interacting with the staff and volunteers if you want to find out information or are particularly intrigued in anything. This is great especially for kids as they get to talk to someone rather than be bored trying to read endless amounts of text. You can have a 1900's style lesson at school, visit the village hall and listen to an old mining band, or you can sit and get warm by the fire as you listen to 1940's radio play. It's definitely an experience I'd recommend.

Beamish Museum TransportTram StopBeamish BusWaiting for the TramGeeseDanny BoyWee BirdsMetal ScrapsHay ThereBarrelCattlePiggy

The greatest thing about Beamish is that tickets are annual. Once you've paid, your ticket is valid for 12 months and you can visit as often as you like. The museum has a range of different things on each month so the park is never boring to visit. I can't wait for summer because I'll definitely head back to take advantage of the picnic areas and the gorgeous views. That's really what this post is all about as despite the grey, freezing cold, overcast weather, I did get a few photos that I thought truly showed how lovely the place is.

TractorBarnCarBeamish Home1940's HomeShelter

As I said, I had a really great visit and so much so, this post is going to be in two parts. When writing this post, I was trying my hardest to whittle down the photos I chose to add but I just can't - I really want to add to this blog how wonderful this place is, so if you're interested and I haven't bored you to death, stay tuned for part two which will being coming soon!

- A.
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March 16, 2016

Lush: Bella Fruta

I think it's always a safe assumption to make that all of us on the internet love a good Lush product or two and we all certainly love a good haul - so here's a little post to fill that bath bomb shaped void that you may have been experiencing lately. Today's post features a gift set box from Lush which I received way back at Christmas from Matt's familia. As soon as I was handed my gift bag of goodies, I could smell something powerfully sweet and had my fingers crossed it was some Lush-ness (and low and behold, it was. Matt's mum is a gift-giving queen). I received the Bella Fruta set which is a set I've never seen before so I was intrigued to find out what it included - guessing by the packaging, I knew it was going to be citrus-y, fruity, and summery all rolled up into a few products.

So, let's get down to the individual products and I'll start with the only soap in the set - Layer Cake. You get a 120g bar (approx. £3.50 to buy separate) and having tried this product before, I was happy to see it in the set. It's a soap made from 5 real fruit juices (white grape, orange, pinapple, blueberry, and raspberry) and has a very berry and zesty scent to it that I imagine most people would find pleasant to use - especially those who may struggle with or not like floral scents. I've never thought any of the Lush solid soaps are anything to write home about, but they're nice to use and always smell good. So far so good.

Next up is the bath oil, You've Been Mangoed. This wee £2 product is deceiving as you think it won't *do* that much but boy oh boy, "good things come in small packages" certainly applies to this. Run this little solid oil under your running tap for a bath and watch it melt away to create a buttery soft soak which leaves your skin feeling pampered and nourished. As you can imagine with a bath oil, it can make your hair greasy so if you're not wanting to wash your hair afterwards, keep it pinned out of the way, but other than that, the combination of different butters (ranging from shea to avocado) and the zesty lime scent, it's a lovely little cheap product that can make a bath feel just that wee bit more *special*.

Keeping with the avocado butter theme, the next product - and one of my faves to see in this set - is the Avobath Bath Bomb which is available individually for around £3.50. This is one of my all-time favourite bath bombs from Lush but I think it is often overlooked by many people as it's not all sparkly and multicoloured but don't let it's Plain Jane ways fool you. Although I mention time and time again about my oily skin, my body skin (if you can even call it that) tends to lean more to the dry side due to being constantly exposed to products to fight acne. Therefore a bath bomb like Avobath is a welcoming treat as it helps dry skin feel nourished and hydrated once again with its ingredients of avocado butter and olive oil. It also smells insanely good. As a girl who sways to the sickly sweet side of the scent spectrum, no one is more surprised than me that a bath bomb which smells of lemongrass and bergamot is actually one of my faves I've ever tried.

Probably the most pleasant surprise and favourite product in this gift box is the Brightside Bubble Bar. Retailing at £4.95 for the full size, this mini offering was a good chance for me to try a bubble bar I'd never paid much attention to in store. First off, this smells amazing. It essentially just smells of oranges but there's just something about it makes it smell delicious. As I've said, I tend to love the more sickly sweet scents, but this is such an uplifting bright scent I think most people would love it. The bar creates a great amount of bubbles and it also turns your bath water brighht orange - how much more sunshine and happiness could you ask for in a relaxing bath can I ask?

Another surprise love from this set is Fun in the shade Red which is apparently an online exclusive colour! This stuff looks like the greatest thing for bathtime for children but it's also kept me very happy, too. This isn't particularly because I am a big kid (although, that might be part of the reason,) but really it's due to the fact that it again, smells amazing and zesty which a great pick-me-up for your mood and it is a great option for creating bubbles for baths or for using as a shampoo. Although it is aimed at kiddies and is essentially playdoh for the bath, don't overlook this £5 product because I guarantee if you buy it, you will use it and you won't be disappointed.

Okay now lastly let's discuss the product that doesn't quite float my boat - the African Paradise Body Conditioner. This product is usually almost £20 for a 225g tub and I'm not entirely sure I'd ever repurchase it. The idea behind Lush body conditioners are exactly what they say on the tin; you smooth them over your body whilst in the shower, rinse, and then you're left with soft and silky skin much like your hair feels after a conditioning treatment! The idea behind them are great (especially if you're a lazy Lizzie like me and can't really be bothered to daily moisturise your body!) as they are very rich and plump the skin up so dry skin or dull skin sufferers, these guys will definitely sort you out. Although the idea and effect of it is great for an indulgent skin treament, I just couldn't agree with the smell. A mix between floral, sweet and spicy is just not something my nose particularly likes so if you like more mature smelling scents instead of those bubblegum candy teen scents that I still adore, this may be the one for you. The alternative body conditioner, Ros Argan is a little cheaper (at £16.50) and is yep, you guessed it, jam-packed full of argan oil and rose scents therefore this may be a one for me to try!

Have you tried any of these products? What did you think of them?

- A.
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