This makeup range is so good and looks so luxurious and expensive, I almost don’t want to call it ‘budget’. Actually, if I’m being truly honest it’s more of an in-between brand, somewhere in the middle of the mass market bands and the more expensive prestige brands. However you look at it, the new products from Autograph look, feel and act like products you’d expect to find at a big department store beauty counter – at a fraction of the price. Let’s dive in…

I was recently sent a selection of the new Autograph makeup collection to test by the lovely people at Marks & Spencer. I’ve been a fan of this makeup range for a while, so I was more than happy to have a play with their new and improved items. The first thing that struck me is how gorgeous they all looked, the packaging is simple yet stylish, every product feels substantial and functional but in a very elegant way. At a glance, I’d say they have more than a passing resemblance to the Bobbi Brown products, which is no bad thing in my book.

On further testing and getting to know the products I can tell you that they’re not ‘all style over substance’ either, each product feels luxurious and lasts the distance. For example, the Hydrating Foundation is moisturising and nourishing on the skin, and gives a beautiful satin smooth, dewy finish that lasts the day. And at £16, it’s half the price of a prestige alternative.

I was also impressed by the Colour Balm Lipshine sticks that glide on effortlessly and give a lasting pretty, glossy finish. These little beauties are £10, which means you can afford to get a few!

Other highlights for me were the gorgeous primers, I tested the Luminosity Radiant Skin Primer (£12.50), which gave a beautiful ‘lit-from-within’ finish to my complexion and the Hydrating Confidence Boost Primer (£12.50), which nourished my skin and helped make sure my foundation stayed put for the whole day.

One last mention has to go to the Lasting Colour Luxe Quad Eyeshadow, which looks and feels two or three times more expensive than it’s £10 price tag. The colours are strong and blend easily for a beautiful eye look, they also last all day  and have a lovely luxurious texture. I was sent Rose Mix (as seen in the pictures), which is really fresh and pretty but I also love the look of Mocha Mix… I think I may have to pop that onto my Christmas list!

If you’re on the look out for some new makeup, do yourself a favour and check out the new Autograph collection before going off and spending a small fortune at the big beauty counters. For the same amount you could walk away with a basket full at M&S.

Disclaimer: These products were sent to me to try with no obligation to review. 

Infinite by Forever - anti-ageing kit

Every now and again a parcel arrives in the post that makes me really sit up and take notice. This particular box of goodies did just that when they arrived gorgeously packaged in a big white luxury box.

‘Forever’, who are famous for their amazing aloe vera based products have introduced this new, premium anti-ageing skincare range called Infinite by Forever. The product formulas combine natural ingredients that work together to restore moisture, stimulate healthy collagen levels and basically reduce all signs of skin ageing.

This new luxury range of four products includes a hydrating cleanser, a beauty supplement, a firming serum and restoring crème.

What’s great about this range is that it targets ageing from the inside out, and the outside in. The three skincare products are designed to hydrate the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while the oral capsules help to enhance your inner skin beauty. With four very targeted products this range promises to have all your skincare needs met in one simple little kit.

Having read all about the products and their claims, I was eager to dive in and get testing. Here’s what I think…

Hydrating Cleanser

This light-weight milk cleanser glides on easily, rinses off in seconds and left my skin feeling clean, fresh and well-nourished. It has naturally derived ingredients including; apple extract, apple amino acid and cocoa fatty acids that work together to increase skin hydration and gently washes away any trace of makeup, pollution and oil without being too harsh or drying.

Infinite by Forever - Hydrating Cleanser

Firming Serum

This clear serum is very light and fluid (almost like an oil) and literally melts into the skin. The texture is luxurious and feels like a real treat to apply – my parched skin literally drank it up every night! It targets all signs of ageing with a clinically proven three-amino acid complex to increase firmness and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It’s easy to see why this little beauty won a silver award at the recent Pure Beauty Awards for best new premium anti-ageing skincare. For me this is the star of the range.

Infinite by Forever - Serum

Restoring Crème

Next we have the day cream, which comes in an interesting little pump pot. This impressive cream is made up of over fifteen skin conditioning ingredients that left my skin feeling moisturised, nourished and smooth. Using this daily is said to reinforce the skin’s natural barrier, hydrate parched skin and reduce the appearance of ageing. I must admit that my skin did feel incredibly soft and velvety smooth each time I used it, so it must be doing something right.

Infinite by Forever -

Firming Complex

Now this is where this skin care kit takes an unusual twist, with a beauty supplement that helps target the appearance of premature ageing from the inside. These little capsules combines vitamin C to promote healthy collagen production, biotin for healthy hair and skin and marine collagen to give structure and tone to your skin. I can’t personally say that I saw a massive difference in my skin from taking these tablets but as they’re working together with the other skincare products it is difficult to be specific.

Infinite by Forever - Beauty Supplements

On the whole I found this kit a pleasure to use and my skin did feel hydrated and soft at the end of each day. At £165, it’s is not the cheapest option on offer but if you’re looking for a holistic approach to anti-ageing and a range with proven results, I’d say give it a go! You can buy the Infinite by Forever range online here.

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

five tips for a brighter winter

Okay, I know the run up to Christmas is fun and full of glitz and excitement but it’s also easy to fall into a bit of a funk on dark days and cold nights, wanting to stay in and basically hibernate until spring. I know I feel like that most winters, I miss the heat of the sun on my face and the carefree feeling of not needing to wrap up warm to venture out of the house.

Don’t get me wrong I love Christmas and the promise of snow (although I only want a dusting and it needs to be gone in a day or two) but there’s no denying it, winter can turn me into a bit of a Debbie Downer.

That being said I have a few tricks up my sleeve to keep me focused on the good things and embrace all the positive elements of November and December.

1.             When the weather is bright and sunny, go out and enjoy it!

Yes, it’s still cold but I know that some vitamin D will do me (and the kids) the world of good. My body runs cold which is why I find it difficult to go out (unless I have to) at this time of year – but I always feel better for a good walk around the park or a day at the coast. There’s something about being out in the cold air that makes coming home so much more satisfying.  It also gives me much more energy for the rest of the day, and leaves me feeling happier and contented.

In these pictures I’m wearing a silver coat from Lighthouse, which is quilted (on the inside) for warmth and 100% waterproof, so it’ll keep me warm and dry when I’m out on these cold walks.

2.             Light a winter/ Christmas candle or two

I know I bang on about candles all the time but they honestly brighten my mood in a matter of seconds. I don’t know if it’s the warm light or the subtle aroma (probably both) but I instantly feel better once I’ve lit a candle or two. At the moment I’m loving this candle I picked up from TK Maxx (okay, I may have picked up a few of them) for £7.99, it smells amazing with the aromas of frosted pine, which is my idea of the perfect Christmas scent. It’s fresh, yet comforting and of course very festive.

3.             Watch a good Feel-Good Christmas Film

This is real guilty pleasure territory here, I’m such a sucker for a good, cheesy Hallmark style Christmas Movie. You know, the ones you’ll find on Christmas 24 or every day (at the moment) on Channel 5. I know this is not for everyone but honestly don’t knock them until you’ve tried one. There’s nothing that gets me into the Christmas spirit more than watching a girl called Holly or Faith or Hope find her Christmas Wish or Festive Love (or both) in a beautifully decorated house or “Inn” in a small American town. These films are my winter soul food.

4.             Go to bed early

For some reason I get so much more tired (and then run down) at this time of year. I don’t know if it’s the cold weather or the central heating but I’ve noticed that I need more sleep during the winter. So in the interest of feeling brighter in the day, I’ve made a promise to myself that I won’t stay up late for no good reason, like I do the rest of the year. I need my sleep and I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure I get it!

5.             Hot Chocolate – with all the trimmings

Now I’d happily drink hot chocolate all year long but the reality is, I don’t. For me hot chocolate is what I drink in winter when I need a comforting liquid pick-me-up that I know will warm me up in seconds. I don’t drink normal tea or coffee so for me the only options are warm Ribeana, mint tea or hot chocolate. However, hot chocolate is the one that makes me feel happiest and content. For the king of all hot chocolates this winter head to Hotel Chocolat for their amazing Salted Caramel & Clementine Christmas Hot Chocolate (£9). It had me at ‘Salted Caramel’ and of course I have to add the whipped cream and mini marshmallows for the best pick me up in a mug possible!

So if you’re feeling sluggish this winter, take a leaf out of my book and get out and about… and when you get home burn some candles, while watching a good film with a mug of hot chocolate.

Warm Blackberry Squares

At this time of year there’s nothing better than a good old fashion pudding and these warm blackberry squares have to be one of my all time favourites! They’re warm, moist, and just what I want to eat when I’m snuggled up on the sofa on a cold evening. Add a splash of custard or a scoop of vanilla ice cream and I’m in pudding heaven. In my opinion, this is comfort food at its very best!

With the Blackberry season coming to an end you could substitute the blackberries for blueberries – or any other berries for that matter.

Warm Blackberry Squares

Warm Blackberry Squares

Ingredients

175g unsalted butter,

150g caster sugar

150g self-raising flour

2 eggs

3 tablespoons milk

100g ground almonds

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

A pinch of salt

200g blackberries, quartered

icing sugar, for dusting

Method

Warm Blackberry Squares

1) Preheat your oven to 160oC

2) Grease a 12-hole cake tin. (a round muffin tin will work if you don’t have a square one)

3) Cream together the butter and caster sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the self-raising flour, ground almonds, eggs, vanilla extract and salt, then mix well.

4) Carefully fold in the chopped blackberries (you don’t want them to bleed too much) then divide the mixture between the twelve holes.

Warm Blackberry Squares

5) Bake for 30-35 mins, depending on your oven.

6) Once baked, carefully take the cakes out of the tin and place on a wire rack to cool. I like to serve the cakes while they’re still warm. For added decadence, serve with double cream, a slash of custard or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

These little squares stay moist for a few days and can be popped into the microwave for 30seconds to ensure they’re always warm when you eat them!

Warm Blackberry Squares

An Extra Tip: This recipe can be made into one big cake if you prefer, just double the cooking/oven time.

Last weekend was all about Poppy’s 5th birthday. We had such a great time that I thought I put together a little picture post of  my favourite snapshots from the weekend. So here you go, a taste of our weekend, which included ice-skating, fireworks and a certain little doll.

Opening Presents

Ice-skating with Baby Born in Wonderland

The light at the ice-skating venue was a little tricky so these pictures are unfortunately grainy but we had such a fun time that I wanted to include them anyway.

Birthday Cake 

Poppy’s big party is this weekend, so I’m making her ‘real’ cake today but on her birthday she was more than happy with her favourite Colin the Caterpillar cake from Marks & Spencer – and so was everyone else!

The Day After…

Happy Birthday my beautiful brown eyed girl xxx