My only real vice is and always has been chocolate. When it comes to chocolate I’m a complete addict, I’d happily munch my way through a bar of chocolate every day (and I’m not talking about those little bars). So it’s no surprise that the Too Faced range of ‘chocolate makeup’ has always been on my beauty wish-list.

After being sent the Semi Sweet Chocolate Bar eye palette and Dark Chocolate Soleil bronzer, the first thing that struck me was the amazing smell! Each one is scented with an enticing smell of sweet chocolate, which is subtle and dreamy, without being too strong or overpowering.

In case you were wondering, yes, there is actual cocoa in the powders. Cocoa powder has amazing skin care benefits so it makes perfect sense that Too Faced would add chocolate to these ‘delicious’ products.

This cute eye palette has been designed to look like a bar of chocolate (which I love) and is packed full on 16 different shades. Each colour works well together, from; warm caramels, strong mochas, deep chocolate and frosted blueberry, giving you countless options to create a wide verity of different looks.

Too Faced eye shadows are famous for being highly pigmented and these are no exception. Each shade is deep in colour and glide on effortlessly. They also blend easily and last the whole day without fading or creasing.

The shades inside the Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar Eye Palette are…

(warning: don’t read if you’re hungry!)

1. Licorice (matte)

2. Coconut Crème (matte)

3. Nougat (matte)

4. Truffled (matte)

5. Hot Fudge (shimmery)

6. Cocoa Chili (shimmery)

7. Pink Sugar (shimmery)

8. Puddin’ (matte)

9. Blueberry Swirl (shimmery)

10. Peanut Butter (matte)

11. Frosting (shimmery)

12. Rum Raisin (shimmery)

13. Mousse (matte)

14. Caramel (shimmery)

15. Bon Bon (shimmery)

16. Butter Pecan (shimmery)

I’ve been using the matte Coconut Crème with the shimmery Hot Fudge and Cocoa Chili for an effortless smokey eye look, but honestly I’d say that any combination would work well together.

The bronzer is equally good and long-lasting. It’s perfectly chocolaty in colour with no orange or gold undertones. I have the Dark Chocolate shade, which isn’t as dramatic and scary as it sounds. It’s a beautifully matte powder that creates a very real-looking sun kissed finish with no shimmer – and doesn’t look orange in any way. It’s very similar to Benefit’s Hoola bronzer but in a more durable compact and of course with the delicious scent of sweet chocolate. Also, the cocoa powder nourishes your skin to eliminate any dry patches or redness.

If you’re looking for a gift for any chocoholic, beauty junkies – I highly recommend you take a look at this range!

The Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar Palette (£39) and Chocolate Soliel Bronzers (£25) are available from Selfridges, Debenhams and other online retails.

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Something’s been troubling me lately, actually it’s been playing on my mind for a while but have never thought to write it down, until now…

I’m constantly surrounded by amazing mums, these mums laugh with their children, play with them, feed them, keep them warm and love them unconditionally but given the opportunity most of these women beat themselves up for not being good enough.

I was out last night at a Mother’s Meeting event with H&M and the conversation (as it inevitably does, when mothers get together) came down to our kids and parenthood. Again and again, I heard these amazing women say things like “I work too much”, “I get too frustrated”, “I’m always on my phone”, “I feel guilty for…”

If I’m being honest, I have some of these worries too. I often lie in bed wondering why I got so angry with the girls or why I didn’t make more of an effort to read with them, that ONE night. But maybe we‘re all asking the wrong questions and focusing on the wrong things. What if we asked ourselves “Do my children feel safe and loved?” or “Are my children happy?”.

The answers to these questions are always YES, which is all that really matters. After all, who cares if we had chips and chicken nuggets for supper? They ate it all up and loved it. So I didn’t read with them tonight, I’ll do it tomorrow night and the night after and the night after that. Is it bad that Lili and Poppy watch TV every morning while I lie in bed for an extra half hour? Well, I did the same as a child and I turned out just fine.

The main thing for me is that my girls look back on their childhood and remember that we had fun and that they were loved. I want them to remember our crazy kitchen discos and silly family pile-ups, singing way too loud in the car and massive group hugs.

I think we all feel the pressure to be a ‘perfect parent’ but who is the ‘perfect parent’? Nobody, because it’s a myth, a fairy-tale, a figment of our Instagram-fuelled imagination.

So let me ask you… Are you a good mother? Don’t measure yourself against an unrealistic perfect persona that doesn’t exist. If you’re still reading this post, I can tell you that you almost certainly are! I know this because you love your children, because you do whatever it takes to keep them safe, and because when they fall and hurt themselves or feel sick it’s you they want. Nothing makes them feel better than a hug from you.

At the end of the day, the perfect parent for your child is YOU because nobody will love them like you do.

 

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I love reading these kind of posts but never really do any of my own, so I thought I’d rectify the situation with a ‘loving lately’ post. Life can seem so mundane and full of boring routine at times, so it’s nice to remind myself of the little things I’ve recently discovered and now love!

Beauty products and makeup always make me happy but when I find a great new product… well, lets just say that makes me very happy! And that’s what I’ve got here, a collection of absolutely gorgeous products that I quite literally want to rave about, from; lipsticks to foundations, bath products and an absolutely brilliant new hair styling wand.

So here goes… what I’m loving lately…

Laura Geller Fifty Kisses Lip Locking Liquid Colour (£17)

I think these may well be the holy grail of long lasting lip colour! The liquid colour glides on easily and then sets, locking-in the vibrant colour without drying your lips. The colour is incredibly strong from the pure pigment formula that literally ‘satays put’ all day or all night. I was out the other night and noticed that despite having bright red lips (from using one of these beauties), there were no lipstick marks on my drink glass. These gorgeous colours are Ruby Romance, Makeout Merlot and Pink Pucker. They’re all dramatic and give a beautifully polished finish.

Clarins Everlasting Cushion Foundation (£31)

Here’s a very different kind of full coverage foundation! It’s long-wearing, hydrating and gives a velvety soft, dewy finish that I absolutely love. All blemishes and imperfections are blurred away but your skin can still breathe and feels comfortable. What I love most about this foundation is that it feels light and soft on the skin, despite offering a good level of coverage. These two things don’t normally go hand in hand, there’s usually a trade-off but not here. It also has an impressive SPF50, which is another big plus for anyone (like me) concerned with the ageing effects of the sun, at any time of year.

REN Atlantic Kelp and Magnesium Anti-Fatigue Body Range (from £14)

Oh my goodness! This range is absolutely gorgeous. I’ll do a dedicated blog post with the full range soon but had to mention them here too because I’m simply in love with these luxuriously uplifting products, that smell amazing! REN Atlantic Kelp and Magnesium is a range designed to de-stress and re-energise your body and mind. Each product is infused with REN’s Anti-Fatigue Essential Oils that is both refreshing and calming – and my idea of bathing heaven. Your mind is refreshed from the spa-like aromas and your skin is left hydrated and soft from the marine based ingredients.

REN Atlantic Kelp and Magnesium Anti-Fatigure Body Range

Lee Stafford Wonderball Wand (£29.99)

I’m normally pretty lazy with my hair, I either give it a quick blow-dry and leave it or take my straighteners through the ends for a more groomed glossy finish. I’ve never got on with curling wands, I find them fiddly and my hair always falls out as I’m trying to curl it around the wand. However, this clever little wonderball wand makes things a lot easier as my hair can’t slip out because of  the balls. I simply wind my hair around the wand and the strands fall into the grooves, giving me a pretty boho wave that I love. At last I’ve found a curling wand I can actually use! The ceramic barrel is also infused with coconut oil, which is transferred into the hair through the heat.

Lee Stafford Wonderball Wand

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little roundup, please let me know if you have and I’ll make it a regular feature.

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You may have noticed that I’m pretty big into my face oils and serums. In fact, my husband says I have an unhealthily obsession but that’s just his way of telling me I have too many little bottles of potions on my dressing table. It’s true, I especially love oils and serums, I love how my skin drinks up the goodness and I really love how my skin feels afterwards. I recently raved about the new Clarins Double Serum and now I’m about sing the praises of another new and equally brilliant skin elixir; the Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Oil.  At £65 for a 15ml bottle, it may be on the luxury side of the market but it is seriously good.

Okay, let me tell you more about this little bottle of skin goodness. The Pro-Collagen Marine Oil is a replenishing facial oil made from a trio of skin renewing seaweeds (Padina Pavonica, Golden Seaweed and Roaring Water Kelp) that deliver maximum skin hydration, and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Another big ingredient in this beauty elixir is White Poppy seed oil, which is used to plump up the skin’s moisture levels, leaving your complexion looking super fresh, youthful and radiant.

How To Use

Simply warm up 3-4 drops in your hands and massage the oil over your face and neck every morning and evening, under your usual day or night cream.

Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Oil

My Opinion

Yes this is a big luxury, there’s no denying it but if you’re after a real skin treat, this is it! The gorgeous blue and green glass bottle holds an elixir so precious, you almost want to keep it on the dressing table and admire it forever. However, this is an oil you need to use and an oil your skin will thank you for, it’s literally superfood for your skin.

I’ve been using this day and night for the past few weeks and love the way my complexion now looks and feels. Each morning my skin feels super soft and fresh which is an amazing transformation from a few months ago.

So yes, in my opinion it is worth the money. Go on, pop it on your Christmas list as a special skincare treat.

Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Oil

Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Oil is available from the Elemis website, Look Fantastic, Debenhams as well as many other online retailers and department stores.

Disclaimer: These product was sent to me in exchange for an honest review with no expectations.

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Making healthy meals for the family is not as straightforward as it sounds, meal planning and food shopping are only the beginning. To make things a little easier over the past year I’ve been using HelloFresh (on and off), which has changed the way I think about meals and food in general. For those who’ve never heard of HelloFresh (where have you been?), it’s a flexible food subscription, meal kit that’s delivered directly to your house. Each box is packed with food for delicious meals, along with detailed recipe cards. The ingredients have all been measured out for you, so all you need to do is follow the instructions and create exciting, tasty meals.

Here are ten reasons why we love the Hello Fresh Family Boxes

Here are ten reasons why we love the HelloFresh Family Boxes…

  1. You don’t have to worry about food shopping or meal planning; it’s all done for you.
  1. Each home cooked meal is healthy, delicious and well balanced.
  1. They’re perfect for cooks of any level and ideal for older children who want to start helping in the kitchen.
  1. As everything is measured out precisely, there’s no (or very little) food waste.
  1. They’re a brilliant way of learning new recipes and adding some variety to your family favourites.
  1. The children get to try new flavours, and it’s a great way for them to learn about different foods from around the world.

Here are ten reasons why we love the Hello Fresh Family Boxes

  1. You can pick 3 or 4 meals from a choice of six each week, and you can stop or pause the subscription at any time.
  1. The meals cost at, as little as £3.99 per meal – which is cheaper than eating out or getting a takeaway.
  1. Hello Fresh meals have encouraged us to eat more at the table as a family. Making mealtimes, family time.
  1. Every recipe is packed with flavours your kids will love – as children rigorously test each recipe before it’s given the green light. Each recipe also has a little flavour twist for us adults who have a more adventurous taste.

 

This is just one example of the delicious meals we’ve enjoyed over the past few weeks…

CREAMY CHICKEN CURRY with Green Beans and Fluffy Rice

Ingredients

1 Onion

200g Green Beans

30g Tomato Purée

1 tin Diced Tomatoes

15g Garlic Purée

4 Chicken Breast

300g Basmati Rice

600ml Water for rice

1.5 tsp Sri Lankan Curry Powder

1 Chicken Stock Pot

1 small pot of Double Cream

100ml Water for curry

Instructions

  1. Peel and thinly slice the onion into half moons. Trim the tops from the green beans and then chop each one into four pieces. Thinly slice the chicken breast widthways into 1⁄2cm wide strips.

 

  1. Pour the water (amount specified in the ingredient list) into a large saucepan with a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil on high heat and then add the basmati rice. Stir and then cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, 10mins. Once the 10mins is up, remove from the heat and leave for another 10mins (or until the curry is ready). TIP: Don’t take the lid off as the rice will finish cooking in its own steam.

 

  1. Heat a drizzle of oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir and cook until browned, about 5mins.

 

  1. Add the onion to your frying pan, stir together and cook until the onion is soft, 5-6mins. Add the garlic purée, tomato purée and Sri Lankan curry powder. Stir together and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the diced tomatoes, chicken stockpot and 100ml water . Stir to dissolve the stockpot and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the curry has thickened slightly, 10mins.

 

  1. Once the curry has cooked for 10mins, add the double cream and simmer for 5mins, then add the green beans, cover with a lid (or some foil) and simmer until the beans are cooked, 5 more minutes.

 

  1. Fluff up the rice with a fork and spoon into bowls. Divide the curry between your bowls.

This mild, creamy curry was a big winner in our house. Even Iris (who’s 18months) loved it. This one is now firmly on our favourites list along with Cheesy Tomato Orzo, Pizza Burgers, Mild Sausage Chilli and Gnocchi Bolognaise.

Here are ten reasons why we love the Hello Fresh Family Boxes

Disclaimer: We were gifted a one month subscription in exchange for this review but I have also paid for some boxes as I really do use this service.

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