French Connection #CantHelpMySelfie Newcastle Event

I am not one of those people who takes loads of selfies. Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-selfie, per se, I just scrutinize photos of myself WAY too much already, so if I was snapping them constantly I'd probably have some sort of selfie-induced breakdown. Not good.

However! When my fellow NE blogger Chloe told me about an event French Connection were planning in a few of their stores across the country - including Newcastle - entitled #CantHelpMySelfie, I forgot my selfie-shyness and signed up immediately because it sounded downright awesome - goodie bags, hair and makeup, goodie bags...oh, and did I mention goodie bags?!

Chloe sadly couldn't make it, so my friend Fi and I arranged to meet Kayleigh, another lovely NE blog buddy and all go along together. When we arrived for our pre-booked slots, we were told to choose any outfit we liked from the store to put on before going upstairs for hair, makeup and the dreaded selfie. Now, in theory choosing any outfit you want sounds fabulous - in my mind I was skipping through the store, grabbing armfuls of gorgeous dresses - but in reality, under the pressure of choosing something that would stand out on camera, it's actually really difficult! In the end I went for this yellow jumper, since I'm drawn to anything yellow - a bit like a wasp, now I think of it. I don't really want to compare myself to a wasp. Anyway, I liked the yellow, so I went for the yellow. I was just thinking that a statement necklace would top my outfit off perfectly but I'd stupidly not brought one, so Kayleigh kindly lent me her gorgeous CandyRocks necklace to wear for my selfies.

While we were browsing, there were canap├ęs and drinks, along with beautifully decorated cupcakes from Pet Lamb Patisserie to enjoy. We then headed over to the hairdo area where stylists from Regis were waiting to preen us. My only requirement for my 'do was MAKE IT BIG. And they did! I skipped the makeupping from Benefit because I really don't enjoy having my makeup done by someone else - it's the whole hands-near-face thing - so, I was ready for my selfie!

Kayleigh getting primped by Benefit

I was shown to a curtained booth and given a mobile to take my selfie with. I decided I'd just bite the bullet and take the bloomin' things - if they were horrid, they were horrid. It's not like anyone else would see them anyway (I'd heard mention of them being in the window, but I guessed this would just be for a moment, and since it was after 8pm by then I thought the chances of more than a handful of people seeing it were slim, so I could live with that.)

Anyway, carefree selfie taken, I waited for Kayleigh and Fi to take theirs, and we then decided to go in for a group one too. We were on a selfie-roll.
Fi and Kayleigh ready for their close up

After we'd changed back into our own clothes (there was a small part of me that thought French Connection might just say 'Oh, just keep your outfit!'. Sadly not.) and grabbed our goodie bags (which contained lots of lovely things including Gingerbread Tea from Twinings, some yummy chocolates, beauty goodies and a copy of Stylist) we wandered outside to see if our photos were in the window. As they appeared (all the pics were on a slideshow), we ran to the window to vote by pressing our hand against the picture (I then discovered that the selfie with the most votes wins £1000 to spend instore). Just as I was thinking there was no way we'd be able to vote enough times to even be in with a chance of winning, a member of staff casually mentioned that the pics would be in the window until 27th May. UNTIL 27th MAY. I felt ill, and it was nothing to do with the cupcake I'd just scoffed in under five seconds. My carefree selfie would be out there for all of Newcastle (well, those passing French Connection next to Monument who happened to glance at the window when my photo was on) to see. Oh.

Frantic voting

Turns out the pics are also on the website and can be voted for here also. So I'm kind of resigned to my selfie being 'out there' now. Either way, the event was really fun and we had a great laugh choosing our outfits and getting ready for our close ups. I also think the event reintroduced me to French Connection, as it's not somewhere I shop often anymore, however I spotted loads of gorgeous pieces instore that I'll definitely be going back for a closer look at. I just won't be taking any photos of myself while I do.

It's a Hair Thing - Neal & Wolf Indulgence Redefined

I think I'm a little bit obsessed with hair products. Having had my hair long, short(ish), blonde, dark, red (although I'd really rather forget that as it looked AWFUL on me), straight, curly (I'm talking about YOU, oh great perm of 1991)....well let's just say I've had a few 'looks'. I've had my hair dyed dark for around 2 years now and in general I much prefer it this way - it feels healthier and thicker. But! I still struggle to keep it looking shiny and soft - it can look dull. Admittedly I do use a LOT of products and styling tools on my hair which isn't great, so I'm always on the hunt for products that work for me. (repeats mantra: I WILL have Cheryl Cole hair).

I've found a few shampoo/conditioner combos I like recently, in particular the Essence Omega Range, but I still like to live life on the edge and change things up occasionally, shampoo-wise. So I was thrilled to be able to try the Indulgence Redefined Collection* from Neal & Wolf. The set contains RITUAL Daily Cleansing Shampoo, RITUAL Daily Conditioner and HARMONY Intensive Care Treatment. First impressions - these smell AMAZING. I can't put my finger on it, but something about the smell reminds me of holidays and makes me want to book flights immediately. The first time I used these, I was in a hurry so just used the shampoo and conditioner. I did notice my hair felt really soft after I dried it and the amazing smell remained - hoorah! Over the weekend I decided I'd indulge a little more and try the treatment....and wowza, what a difference! My (normally dry) ends were soft and smooth, my hair felt bouncy, shiny and healthy. The products feel really luxurious too which I love - I felt like I'd had a real treat. It actually reminded me of products an expensive hairdresser used on me once when I had my one and only appointment with them a while ago, before I realised that £150 is crazy money to spend on my 'do.

This set costs £25.95, so isn't cheap - I think I'll be keeping this to use for special occasions when I really want to pamper myself. You can see the rest of the Neal & Wolf range here - I already have my eye on ELEVATE and GLOW as they claim to give the big, shiny hair I'm after, and I'm guessing they smell as gorgeous as the products I tried, too.

Have you tried Neal & Wolf?


*these products were kindly sent to me to try by the lovely Emily who represents Neal & Wolf. Thanks again Emily! :) x

Girl v. Cake Part 2...

So a few weeks ago I posted about the multiple life-enhancing benefits of cake, in all it's glorious forms. I also took on the difficult task of testing out some of the best cakes the North East has to offer (no need to thank me). Now we're a few weeks down the line and I'm pleased to announce that I have continued providing this much-needed cake sampling service and now have a few more local cakelicious treats to tell you about.

Champagne Afternoon tea at Cafe21, Fenwick, Newcastle

Afternoon tea is always a winner for me (although I've noticed I rarely like the sandwiches served) - I love the little cake stand the whole thing comes on, and it feels like such a decadent treat. Throw in champagne, and I'm in heaven! The champagne afternoon tea in Cafe21 costs £30 for 2 people and includes a selection of sandwiches, scones and cakes. The champagne was lovely, as were the freshly baked scones, but there were a couple of things that let this experience down for me - firstly, we weren't served our tea until after we'd finished our food, and had to ask for it. Although we had champagne, I would've preferred tea with my scone. Secondly, we weren't told what anything on our afternoon tea stand was when it was brought over. As I'm a picky eater, I like to know exactly what I'm eating, or I'm liable to spit it across the room if it's something I don't like (and that could get embarrassing). And lastly, when our bill arrived, a 20% 'service charge' had been added. I am not a fan of  service charges - if I want to tip, I will - although I would expect one if we were a large party. Except we weren't; there was three of us. Hmmm.

Cream tea at The Great British Cupcakery, Newcastle

I'm so happy this place isn't anywhere near my daily commute. If it was, I think I'd be cupcaking it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I've popped in a few times to pick up a treat to bring home, but a few weeks ago I popped in with Chloe from New Girl In Toon for a cuppa and a natter. I decided to go for the cream tea, which is £3.95 and includes a humongous jam and fresh cream filled scone, and a pot of tea. I'm smiling on the photo, but about ten minutes later I was almost crying as I couldn't finish my giant scone, as delicious as it was! The only thing with GBC is, as it's a small place, it can get really busy so particularly on a Saturday afternoon it might be difficult to get a table. You can pre-book if you're having the afternoon tea (which I haven't tried, but there were a few people enjoying them whilst we were there and it looked AMAZING).

Vintage tea and cake at VIP Teas, High Spen, Rowlands Gill

Firstly I have to say that I can't believe this little gem is literally a five minute drive from my house, and I'd never been before! Now that I know about it, I'll probably be in every week. Everything is home baked and there are different treats each day. Tea is served in gorgeous vintage teapots with lovely china cups which all add to the vintage tea party theme. I had a cheese scone followed by the Galaxy Chocolate cake (savoury then sweet -I'd call that a balanced meal) and both were delicious. It was around a fiver for that and a pot of tea so great value too. A lovely little place, well worth a visit.

If anyone has any recommendations for great North East cake places, please let me know - I'm always willing to go above and beyond in my quest to review cakes :)

Summer Statement Necklaces - Our New Venture!

So before I took my blog break, I mentioned that I had been working on an exciting new venture which is partly why this blog had gone bit unloved for a (short!) while. I'm happy to say I'm now really getting back into my blog-swing again; on Saturday I attended the Bloggers Teaspoon event in Newcastle organized by the lovely Rachel in aid of Lupus UK and had a fabulous afternoon, eating cake and chatting with some other lovely NE Bloggers.

 Anyway, the aforementioned venture is now fully up and running!

I have to admit, I do love a good statement necklace. The brighter and more eye-catching the better - think TOWIE (I've already confessed I'm a secret TOWIE addict). On the most recent series some of the girls were filmed wearing some real beauties, but I couldn't seem to find anything similar on the high street - not at a reasonable price, anyway! So, my friend Andrea and I had the idea of starting up our own statement jewellery business - that way, we could buy loads of gorgeous necklaces and maybe sell a few, too!

So, after much deliberation about names....CandyRocks was born! We've already sold at a couple of events and recently started up our Facebook page and so far, it's going amazingly well! The hardest part is resisting buying everything ourselves! :)

Rocking White Russian at the Bloggers Teaspoon on Saturday :)
Anyway, if you too love statement jewellery, please pop over to our page and give us a like, we'd love to see you there! 

US Beauty Haul - Sephora, Victoria's Secret and More....

So firstly...I'm back! Yes, I am back to the world of blogging after my short, but much needed, break. I now feel completely out of the loop, like I'm starting from scratch again (gah!) but never mind.

Anyway, I haven't just been sitting staring at the walls while I've been on my blog-hol, I've been off in Florida, panic-shopping my way through the outlet malls, stopping every once in a while to scoff massive burgers or look for 'gators. (There weren't many to be found in the malls, admittedly, but we did see some in the Everglades which was freakin' awesome). So, as is my usual way whenever I visit the US, I spent almost 2 hours floating around Sephora, testing just about every product they stock(and this was a small store). I was actually quite restrained with my purchasing in this occasion, since I'd pretty much blown all my money earlier that day on the cutest Kate Spade bag, plus two Coach bags. Oh, and a purse. And some jeans. You get the idea.

 Meet Your Match Kit
I was lusting over this little beauty online a couple of weeks ago so when I spotted it instore I whipped it into my basket immediately. I love, Love, LOVE the favourites kits Sephora do so well; they contain mini versions of some of their best selling cosmetic brands which is perfect for a tight arse like me who doesn't want to spend a fortune on a product I'm not sure will work for me. This kit contains lip products from Bite, Tarte and Hourglass, along with matching Deborah Lippman, Formula X and Nails Inc nail polishes. So cute, and only $25. Bargain!

Boscia Blotting Sheets
I can't find these exact ones on Sephora's site, so the above link is a similar product. I love blotting sheets, ever since my teenage Body Shop papier poudre years I have been obsessed with them. Particularly when I'm somewhere hot (usually not in the UK, obvs) as they are the perfect way to get rid of shine on my t-zone without having to cake on powder. These were $10 and the 100 sheets in here will last me all summer.

Urban Decay De Slick
This is a smaller version of the fabulous setting spray, which I've actually become a little bit obsessed with. Before I used this I always wondered whether a setting spray would actually make any difference to the longevity of my slap. Well, I can wholeheartedly confirm that it does. When I use De Slick over my makeup, I find that it lasts right until the end of the day without going patchy or sliding off, which can sometimes happen. This small sized version is $14 and perfectly handbag sized.

I have wanted to try this for SO LONG. I've read loads and loads of amazing reviews but couldn't bear to part with fifty quid for a face mask. Even this small, trial sized version is £25 in M&S (eeek!). Luckily Sephora had this for $19, which is way more reasonable. I've used it once so far, and I do like it; it certainly tightens and brightens, but I'm not completely sold yet. I'm going to keep trying it for a bit longer then I'll do a proper review.

Marc Jacobs Lip Gel in Moody Margot
There are two reasons I bought this: 1) the tube has a really cool magnet lid which I could fiddle with for ages, and 2) it's THE MOST PERFECT NUDE LIPSTICK EVER.
The lip gel goes on like a dream - smooth, almost like a lip butter but really highly pigmented, and has amazing staying power. And did I mention I love the packaging? Oh, I did. This was a fairly expensive (but so worth it): $30.

Precision Pore Cleansing Pad
I'm always looking for gadgets and gizmos that claim to help clean deep down into the pores, at a reasonable cost (I just can't bring myself to fork out for a Clarisonic). I've tried facial brushes (too harsh), and muslin cloths (no real effect), so thought I'd give this little rubbery contraption a whirl. It's actually really good! I use my trusty Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Cleanser and massage it into my face using this pad. When I've rinsed, it really does feel like I've had a good, deep ( but not harsh) cleanse. And this was only $6! Brilliant.

Sephora Brush Shampoo
I dropped this into my basket while waiting in line to pay (darn you, little treat-y things littered around the tills designed to make us spend more money! Grrr). I'm not sure why, as I have a perfectly good brush cleanser already. Anyway, this works well, removing even DoubleWear easily. It's not amazing, but as brush shampoos go, it's ok. This was $7.

Cute little samples.
I love this about Sephora. I really wanted to try Hourglass Immaculate Foundation so got a sample of that, as well as a moisturizer and my favourite Chanel Allure perfume. Yay!

So, in addition to my Sephora goodies, I also picked up a couple of Victoria's Secret lipsticks. The shades I got are Risk Taker (a bright pinky-red) and True, a nude-pink shade. Both are gorgeous, so moisturizing and last really well. Best of all, these were $3 each. I only wish I'd bought more!!

I also bought this gorgeous Michael Kors trio from a Cosmetic Company Store outlet. I love the colours and since I haven't seen these anywhere else I thought I'd grab one. This was $20.

I did buy a couple of other bits from Walgreen's including a Covergirl foundation, but I'm trialling that right now so a full review will follow soon.

What do you think of my US beauty purchases? :)