Clarins Goodies

One of the worst parts of my job is the incessant temptation from the perfume aisles, the haircare section, and most of all, the beauty counters. However, on the flipside of that: one of the best parts is that I am newly au fait with what’s what, what I should be buying and what I shouldn’t, and most importantly, who’s on gift with purchase. There is pretty much always some beauty brand or other offering an absurdly generous gift when you buy and I’m always keeping my eyes open. I’ve been needing to buy a full-size version of my recently emptied eye makeup remover, so when Clarins were on gift, I didn’t waste a second.

IMG_1814

So like most companies, Clarins require you to buy 2 products, one being skincare, in order to qualify for your gift. My eye makeup remover qualifies as skincare, so I was left with the entire collection at my disposal. Now, I could have bought a second remover, but the little one I had already lasted me a seriously long time (I’m talking months) and having another full one sitting on my shelf for the next however long just did not seem like a very fun option. Instead, I found myself drawn towards Clarins’ new lip balm crayons. I had initially discounted them because I rarely/never wear lip colour of any kind and frankly I’m just a bit scared of it. But the lovely Jacqui persuaded me to try one, and now I amĀ hooked. To the point that I kept it in my handbag ready for top ups the whole time we were in Croatia, and I amĀ notĀ a girl who carries makeup around with me.

Lip Balm Crayon (in shade 02 “Creamy Pink”)

IMG_1819

IMG_1821

It’s a really subtle colour that matches my natural lip colour pretty exactly, but better, and it’s super moisturising too which is always good news with a really nice shimmery shine.Ā I’m so excited about my first successful foray into lip colour that I’m already eyeing up the other shades, so watch this space!

And now onto my gifts! You pick 3 of 9 possible miniatures, and they’re all great travel sizes – it’s such a great way to try new products without spending!

Water Purity One-Step Cleanser

IMG_1817

I’ve never had the patience for an elaborate makeup remover-cleanser-toner-moisturiser kind of bedtime routine – most days it’s a serious effort to brush my teeth. SoĀ this gorgeous fresh one-step product is pretty much my dream and I actually can’t believe I’ve never used it before. I got the version for combination/oily skin, and it is seriously fab: it has mint essential water in it and feels so fresh on my face, and leaves it feeling bright and clean. AndĀ best of all, you don’t need to rinse it off, which means I don’t even have to leave my room to apply it. I got a generous 100ml size in my gift but when it runs out I am already planning to repurchase!

HydraQuench Cream

IMG_1816

I’ve waxed lyrical about how much I adore my Elemis Day Cream, but sadly my travel-size version will soon be coming to an end (although it has lasted a SERIOUSLY long time) so I was very happy to come across this little gem. Like all Clarins products, it smells deliciously clean (I sense eucalyptus or cucumber maybe?) and I only need a tiny bit to leave my skin feeling refreshed and moisturised.

Exfoliating Body Scrub

IMG_1808

This one was my most off-kilter choice, but I’ve recently developed a bit of an obsession with lux shower products (thanks, Liz Earle shower nectar) and I’m pleased to report that this does exactly what it says on the tube and leaves my skin silky smooth and exfoliated – to the point where even the boy noticed how smooth I am right now. It’s a nice peachy colour (irrelevant but nice anyway) and it smells delicious – noticing a theme? Even if Clarins stuff didn’t work so well, I think I’d still be drawn to it for all those gorgeous scents!

I’ve also recently acquired a sample of Clarins’ new Hydraquench tinted moisturiser. If it’s half as good as the regular Hydraquench, this stuff will probably be a godsend for summer and I’m very excited to try it out!

Do you wait for GWP time? Clarins I think have actually officially finished their gift time, but some stores may still be offering it if they have stock left so it’s worth a look!

Advertisements

Afternoon Tea at the Talbot

So, as I said it has been a hectic, fun-packed week. After Russell Brand on Thursday night (highly recommend the show if you’re even the slightest fan and can get tickets to his tour!), some high spirited betting on the Grand National (I won nothing; mummy J put a wise bet on the eventual winner) and another fab meal at my old favourite The Pheasant, Sunday afternoon saw yet another activity: afternoon tea. We were initally considering Beckworth Emporium, but we always go there and so this time we decided to venture a bit further afield to The Talbot, in nearby-ish Oundle.

As towns go, Oundle is pretty picture-perfect and I couldn’t resist giving it the photoshoot treatment as we walked all of thirty yards from the car to the hotel.

IMG_1301

IMG_1302

IMG_1303

IMG_1304

IMG_1305

IMG_1306

IMG_1308

The Talbot itself is hidden away around a little courtyard and is a perfect blend of old and new – it reminds me a little bit of the Magdalen Chapter back in Exe, actually. We settled ourselves on comfy sofas, where there was an array of newspapers to dig into, and maltesers in little shot glasses to accompany tea and coffee. So far, so good!

IMG_1309

IMG_1310

IMG_1313

IMG_1315

IMG_1327

My mum and sisterĀ both went for their traditional afternoon tea. It is a little cake heavy (and doesn’t feature scones!) but looks impressive nonetheless and the jelly in little jam jars is an adorable touch if you ask me (excuse my sister’s discarded tomatoes!)

IMG_1320

IMG_1325

Gemma opted for a pork sandwich, but I made by far the best menu choice if I do say so myself and went for the Talbot Club, whichĀ is an “open sandwich” involvingĀ chicken, lettuce, maple-cured bacon and tomato – all topped with a perfect fried egg. It was quite possibly the best sandwich I have ever eaten.

IMG_1322

IMG_1323

The best thing about this sandwich is that it (hopefully) is super easy to recreate at home. I’m definitely planning on getting some avocado involved and making my own version. If you’re ever in the area and make a stop by The Talbot, I HIGHLY recommend this sandwich! We also ordered a couple of sides of chips which were hand cut, thick and generally delicious.

Service left maybe a little to be desired – relaxed at best, absent at worst, but overall it was a lovely, relaxed dining experience that perfectly fitted a slightly drizzly Sunday afternoon. And that sandwich!

Laura Mercier Second Skin & Benefit Brow Zings

So as I mentioned in my Spring Essentials post, I recently splashed out on a couple of new additions to my makeup collection.

First up, this gorgeous Laura Mercier “Second Skin” blush in Sweet Mandarin.

IMG_0995

IMG_0994

IMG_0990

Funny story: I actually had my heart set on buying Bobbi Brown blusher in Apricot, but they didn’t have it in stock and as soon as I tried out this one I knew I had to have it – I’mĀ allĀ about instant gratification! Anyway, I’ve never used Laura Mercier makeup before and I’ve been really impressed. The little compact is very sleek and perfectly sized for chucking in whatever bag you’re taking anywhere, and it has a little mirror too if you need to top up on the go (I am no stranger to doing my makeup on the train).

IMG_0997

In the tester pan it looked really shimmery and I was a bit worried it might be too much for everyday use, but actually it gives a really nice warm glow and it’s really easily buildable so you can go as subtle or as bold as you like. The powder is quite loose once you get a brush to it which has resulted in quite a lot of fallout, but I’m hoping that will stop when it’s not so new and full. It’s also nice and easy to blend – I don’t go for the “two pink stripes” look – and I’ve noticed it has great staying power. At Ā£20.50 it’s not cheap (I’m sort of kicking myself because I’ve been saying I’ll buy the similarly-priced Nars Orgasm for ages and totally forgot about it in the heat of the moment) but I think it’s pretty much an investment piece, as makeup goes (that’s a thing, right?!). I think it’s going to work really well with a tan, especially with the slight gold shimmer, so it’ll see me through summer as well – ideal!

IMG_0993

Unlike my impulsive blusher buy, Benefit’s Brow Zings has been on my wishlist for months. After they released Gimme Brow I wavered for a while, wondering whether or not to go for that instead, but in the end I decided that BrowZings offers a bit more flexibility in creating different looks and it will probably last longer. I have had it for a couple of weeks now and I honestly can’t remember what I did without it. My biggest worry with this was that a) it would be easy to go wrong and b) it would take ages in the morning, but it takes no time at all and it really makes SUCH a difference to your overall look.

IMG_1014

It’s all over the blogosphere, but just in case you haven’t seen inside one of these genius little kits before, you get a pan of wax (the darker one), which you use to shape/fill in and one of powder, which sets everything in place and makes everything a little darker. I’ve been using just the wax if I want a subtler look, or mixing them together, and adding more of the powder if I want to make a bit more of a statement. The brushes are really small which can be a bit fiddly but it also means that you’re unlikely to go horribly wrong and it makes it easy to keep things quite subtle. The set comes in 2 colours, light (which is more reddy toned, for if you’re a blonde or a redhead or even brown with reddier tones) or dark, which I’ve got, and it retails at Ā£23.50. I have a feeling this is going to last for aĀ reallyĀ long time and I am SO glad I invested – I have seen the eyebrow light!

The Beauty Edit: Spring Favourites

I deliberated calling this post “Confessions of a Reluctant Beauty Blogger,” because six months ago I would have laughed at the idea of me ever, ever writing about makeup. However, fast forward six months and a new job in, you guessed it, beauty, and now I’ve been well and truly sucked in. I can’t help but want to try my hand at a little beauty blogging, so here’s a little rundown of my current favourite products and go-tos.

IMG_1012

Benefit Hello Flawless Foundation (in Honey)

I have tried other foundations and I’m a particular fan of Clarins’ offerings, but in the end I always come back to this. Honey is a pretty much PERFECT colour match for me during late autumn/winter/spring, and lucky for me the next shade up (“beige” – GREAT) is also pretty perfect when I’m tanned. It’s very light and liquid-y but easy to build to get more coverage, and it has SPF and lets your skin breaaatheeee.

Benefit They’re Real Mascara

You’ve all heard the hype, best selling mascara in the UK blah blah blah but this stuff is seriously magical. I never really used to wear mascara ’cause my lashes are already fairly long & really dark but this makes them look INCREDIBLE, which is unfortunate because now I think I look bizarre without it on.

IMG_1011

IMG_1013

Bare Minerals Eye Colour: North Beach

I usually use darker colours on my eyes, but I’ve recently become obsessed with this eyeshadow. It’s a gorgeous nude/light pink-ish colour perfect for spring/summer days, and it is shimmery so it’s good for highlighting, too. It’s also nice and pigmented and lasts for ages, especially on top of a primer (I use Bare Minerals Prime Time in Pink Sugar, when I remember, although that is one glittery primer – I also have the Urban Decay Eye Potion). I’ve just looked on the website and sadly this shade doesn’t seem to be available anymore (booo) but I’d recommend Bare Minerals eye products on the basis of this one!

IMG_1009

Clarins Gentle Eye Makeup Remover

Pretty much the only negative about They’re Real is that it isĀ stubbornĀ and doesn’t like to come off easily – but it does leave great streaky black marks everywhere while you try. This Clarins stuff works like a dream at taking it off and it’s not oily or greasy or yucky at all. My little bottle is running out (negative: it is difficult to control how much comes out and I have often accidentally poured it everywhere) but I’ll definitely be repurchasing.

IMG_1004

IMG_1007

IMG_1008

Ciate (Mini) Paint Pot in Ivory Queen

I have an absurdly large collection of nail varnish and I fall in love with a new shade every week, but I’ve never fallen as hard as this. It is pure gorgeousness, pale pink with a perfect rose-gold tone. I got this in my Ciate Advent Calendar (still the best sale purchase I have ever made) but it is also available by itself and I suggest that everybody buys it immediately.

Ciate Speed Coat Top Coat

On that note, I have been seriously impressed with Ciate’s top coat. It makes the polish last way longer, keeps things nice and shiny and, most importantly, dries it super fast. I am notoriously bad at sitting still and waiting for polish to dry so this has been an absolute life saver.

IMG_1002

Elemis Maximum Moisture Day Cream

I really wish I hadn’t fallen in love with this cause it is NOT cheap but oh my God, it is gorgeous. It smells beaaautiful and it’s light and not at all greasy. I’m using it sparingly but this little tube has lasted me since Christmas and it’s not empty yet so a little does go a long way – maybe I can justify the price tag?

Moroccan Oil Light

Ages ago, my hairdresser recommended me the light version of this product. I reckon I could probably go with the regular/dark/heavy/whatever it’s called too – my hair is neither fine nor light – but regardless, this stuff is divine. I mostly like it for the smell, but it works perfectly to make the ends super soft and shiny. Again, I’ve had this little bottle sinceĀ lastĀ Christmas and although I don’t use it every day, it has definitely proved itself to be more than good value!

Also not pictured but amongst my very favourite products are my bronzer, which is a Sephora own brand offering in the shade Bora Bora, and blusher, also a Sephora special in the shade Healthy Rose. I am pretty devastated that I’m not going to be able to pick up another one of either of these anytime soon (why why why are there no Sephoras in the UK?!), but they are both gorgeous and pretty cheap so if you are going to the US or continental Europe anytime soon, keep your eyes open!

I did just splash out on a couple of new bits so depending on how I get on with this beauty lark, I might pop a review of those up sometime soon – what do you reckon??

Butterscotch Sunday Do Edible Cinema

So as promised, last night brought possibly our artsiest outing yet: an evening of Edible Cinema at the Bikeshed Theatre in Exeter (of course), presented by Butterscotch Cinema. It was a screening of Amelie – fun anyway – but made ten times better with the addition of an adorable little “hamper” – actually an old VHS case – with miniature dishes, to enjoy at specific points during the film. Sounds like a good night, right?

IMG_0477

We arrived at the Bikeshed to find it already buzzing with fellow English students and other artsy types (including one of Exeter’s most popular English lecturers, which made us all suitably giggly). I’d never been in before but the theatre-bar-coffee shop is seriously cool: it’s underground, and decorated with lots of bike wheels and various bits of art work. There was also live music and obviously the bar was open. Unfortunately our poorly bank accounts meant that we couldn’t partake in yet another cocktail, so instead we stood around, people watching and admiring our tickets, which were original photos from the 1940s. Here’s mine – doesn’t that man look lovely and friendly?

IMG_0476

Anyway, after about 20 minutes it was time to go into the cinema. We eagerly collected our “hampers” and little spoons and headed into the cinema. The screening was more or less sold out, which meant that they’d extended the seating beyond the usual theatre seats and created several rows of other, much less comfortable chairs. Obviously we ended up on these, which meant much fidgeting during the last hour or so of the film!

We had a few speeches at the beginning from the people organising the event and also a man from Love Local Food, the wonderful charity that benefits from the proceeds, and then it was time for the film to begin. As soon as the lights went down I remembered that a) I really, really don’t like not knowing exactly what I’m eating and b) after some unfortunate experiences last year, listening to other people eat makes me feel seriously sick. However, luckily the film kind of explained what we were eating – and, as we left, we discovered that everything was listed on the back of the VHS case anyway! Here’s what we ate:

IMG_0478

I have to say, I wasn’t a fan of the quail’s egg or especially the chicken jelly, which tasted like cat food. However, the four sweet offerings were all delicious – the raspberries were so fresh, they made me remember how completely bland your average Tesco raspberries are! I was a little bit suspect when I realised we were going to be eating coffee beans but they were covered in chocolate and were delicious, and the raspberry marshmallow was toĀ dieĀ for. I was seriously tempted to lick the inside of the cupcake case it came in, it was that good.

IMG_0474

As we all know I’m a huge fan of all food-themed events and so this was a fab and unusual evening out – and all for a good cause! The food was all locally sourced which is obviously great and you could really taste how fresh everything was. From an English student/general nerd perspective, it was also so interesting to see what points they’d picked out as suitable eating moments – it was a good way to look at the high points of the film. All those sensory moments!

We’ve since been trying to figure out alternative movies and plan out our own edible cinema experiences…so far we’ve not been able to get much beyond various Roald Dahl movies. The chocolate cake scene in Matilda, anyone? Pancakes?

Overall, I’d definitely recommend the Bikeshed. The cocktail menu especially looks amazing and I’m sure we’ll be checking it out very soon!

Brunch @ BTP

Our outing this week (actually the first of many – it’s another packed week in the Submarine household!) was a brunch date to Boston Tea Party with the English gang. Boston Tea Party is a chain based in the South West, and the Exeter branch is one of my very favourite places in the city. It’s also basically where our friendship was first cemented (we all bonded over our love for the place), so it seemed fitting to return there altogether now we’re big grown up third years.

IMG_0242

Downstairs, the place looks like your regular, slightly-above-average cute coffee/sandwich place, but upstairs is amazing: the highest ceilings I’ve ever seen, enormous windows, and an eclectic array of huge tables, squishy armchairs and quirky artwork. It’s exactly the sort of place that makes me want to sit down and write a novel, and it’s one of my favourite spots for people watching – we have been known to spot the odd English professor in there!

IMG_0245

Foodwise, BTP actually let me down today a little bit because I’d resolved to indulge a bit and order the pancakes, bacon & maple syrup (missing the States much?). However, the lady at the till told me they didn’t have any bacon. Obviously my mind immediately went blank and for a good few minutes I literally couldn’t think of any dish that didn’t involve bacon, but after a quick study of the menu I decided to get poached egg & ham on a bagel. Quite a weird combination, but I wanted my salty meat!

IMG_0243

Incidentally, I still can’t decide if I actually like eggs or not. I keep getting weird cravings for them but I’m never sure how much I enjoy them. These ones were really good though, the yolk was super runny so it reminded me of boiled egg and soldiers (pretty sure that’s the only way I used to eat eggs as a little’un). The bagel was also fab – I’m totally obsessed with really seedy bread products and this one fit the bill perfectly!

As I said, the atmosphere is very artsy and laidback and so we ended up sitting around and chatting for almost two hours before we dragged ourselves back out into the rain to walk up to campus and attend our various seminars and so on. Pretty much the perfect way to start the week, I’d say!

Hatt’s, Exeter

Over coffee a few weeks ago, two of my best English friends and I came up with an elaborate bucket list of places to go in Exeter over our final two terms here. On Wednesday night, we finally made a start on this list with a group trip to Hatt’s Cocktail BarĀ on Gandy Street.

hatts

The bar itself is hidden away underground and is essentially a cellar, all low ceilings, bare brick walls and equally low lighting. It’s split up into three separate rooms, all with various arrangements of comfy sofas, so it feels pretty intimate and cosy whether it’s super busy, as it has been when we’ve visited in the past, or empty, Ā like it was last night.

My favourite thing about Hatt’s, though, is the fact that they have 2 for 1 cocktails on Wednesday night. They’re only Ā£5.95 each anyway, no matter which one, which makes it an amazing deal. The only catch is that you have to have two of the same, but if you pair up with somebody or are in a big group you can obviously pair up and buy in rounds so you don’t actually have to drink the same thing all night.

The menu itself is not too adventurous but they have a lot of solid classics, as well as sections for “creamy and fruity,” “short and to the point,” and a variety of shooters. My personal favourites are the Tom Collins (so refreshing!) and the Exotic Passion, mostly because I can’t order it without a little smirk. This time around we also tried the Key West Cooler, which was definitely the prettiest we tried.

IMG_0198

Gorgeous, right? Unfortunately it didn’t really taste particularly special. It was like a weaker variation of Sex On The Beach, which I don’t generally like anyway, and sort of tasted more alcopop than cocktail. The others tried some of the shooters but seeing as we weren’t able to persuade them to come to Timepiece, Sophie and I called it a night so unfortunately I can’t report back on those. Next time!