Lashes for days

Do you ever find a beauty treatment and wonder how you ever lived without it? For me, it was my lash extensions! Being a busy mum I barely have time to apply make up and I hate the tired eye look (who doesn’t?!) but finding the Nouveau lash extensions has solved that problem.

I have had my lashes applied twice now in Beauty Boulevard, Lisburn and both times I have had between 3 and 3.5 weeks out of my lashes which I think is fab!

It takes around an hour to apply the lashes and one of my favourite parts about them is how bespoke they can be. With different lengths and curls you can move from a soft, natural look to a fuller, more vibrant look with a stronger curl.

With working full time and managing a 9 month old it is hard to still feel glamorous (think baby sick, leggings and baggy jumpers) but the extensions have helped reinstate so glam back into my appearence, perfect for weekdays and the weekend. Thankfully they are also manageable with needing little to no maintenance as I just apply my Nouveau Lash & BrowConditioning Serum daily.

If you don’t want to worry about mascara anymore but still want awake eyes then definitely check out my before and after.

My Country Cottage Hallway Inspo

Recently I told you that we have submitted hopefully our last set of plans to build our dream home! Since submitting them I have been pinning away over on Pinterest and have become homeware obsessed all over again!

I thought I would share some of my hallway inspiration with you today but hopefully you can give me something in return… Who are your favourite interior designers? Where do you love shopping for homeware? Who are your favourite interior bloggers?

I need inspiration to keep me going!

Beauty Review: He Shi Pro Advanced Spray Tan Collection

Can you believe it has been a week since Belfast Fashion Week? Me neither! I was delighted to be invited along with some of the leading ladies in fashion in our capital city but I have to admit, with only a few days notice I didn’t know how I would get ready in time.

Thankfully the lovely girls from He Shi invited us to try out their new Pro Advanced Spray Tan Collection (this was a definite blogging perk!). He Shi promote themselves for only using high quality and scientifically balanced ingredients, and after hearing some rave reviews from other bloggers I knew I was in safe hands.

I headed to their head office for my spray tan the night before the West Coast Cooler high street show and was over the moon when I had the choice between 3 colour percentages 8%, 10% & 12%. I like a deep colour from my spray tan so I decided to go all out with 12%. The new Smart Tan Technology in the Pro Advanced range means it has advanced absorbing agents giving you that deeper tan with longer lasting results.

I was shocked by how quickly the tan was absorbed by my skin with my legs being pretty much dry by the time I was leaving. I loved the caramel tone to the tan which gave me an instant, beautiful colour making me excited for checking out the colour pay off the following morning. Thankfully there was no horrible smell to the tan something we regular tanners hate and my tan faded beautifully so no need to pull out the exfoliating scrub & mitt.

Belfast Fashion Week was awash was beautiful spray tans across St Annes Cathedral last Friday night and I am now a He Shiconvert. I have even been using their Rapid tan at home since (see below).

Have you tried He Shibefore? What are your thoughts?

Beauty Review: My Beauty Boulevard Back Massage & Scrub

What do you do to relax? People often look at me like I am crazy when I ask them. For some, their Friday night Gin might help them relax or their Saturday morning hockey session might help them blow off some steam but for me, it has always been relaxing beauty treatments.

From massages to facials, I love nothing more than switching off, breathing in those aromatheraphy scents and drifting off. It helps me think clearer, switch off my mind and just take some “me” time.

Thankfully the lovely girls from Beauty Boulevard invited me down for a back massage and scrub at the weekend – my perfect Saturday afternoon. I have been visiting the girls every month since Christmas for my nails and waxing so I knew I was in safe hands. They never fail to warmly welcome you and everything is done to the highest standard.

The entire salon is immaculately decorated throughout and the friendliness from Camille & Carolyn is evident from the minute you walk in.

Right on time and armed with a cup of tea I was ready for my massage.

With the soothing sounds and lavender scent in the background, my massage was the perfect method of relaxation this weekend. The treatment was totally tailored to me from the aromatherapy scent in the treatment room to the type of oil used (I chose a detox oil). Carolyn made me feel right at ease, checking in with me on pressure and comfort, leaving me extra time to relax post treatment and giving me my aftercare advice.

Beauty Boulevardoffer a range of treatments from acrylic nails to waxing, massages to facials and each treatment I have had has been as good as the last. If you are in the Lisburn area I would highly recommend them!

Choosing my career and my family

2018 is the year for women!

If you haven’t heard that statement already, you must have been living under a rock.

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein revelations and 100 years after we gained the right to vote, women have chosen this year in particular to grab hold of their voices, take a stand and acknowledge their pride for being a woman. For me, this year is about returning to work after my maternity leave and choosing my career and my family together – not one over the other.

CREATE A LIFE YOU LOVE

During my school years, one of my teachers often said this to us and it never really meant much to me. Create a life you love. Huh? Mrs, I’m just trying to grasp my way through A Level English Literature! When I started university however it all made sense. My years in university taught me how to become an individual, to have freedom to make my own choices and to create a life for myself that I would love.

I spent those first few years post university really finding my feet. After a brief stint pretending that becoming an Accountant was the dream (sorry to any Accountants out there but that definitely wasn’t the dream for me!) I fell into working for my current employer and it was there that I remembered what I went to university for in the first place – to help people. Three years on and I have went from the bottom of the ladder to the top of it and I am damn proud of that! Why shouldn’t I be?

You see, I love my job. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t easy. In managing a domiciliary agency we witness death, journey through a clients illness with them and their families, trek on through the bad weather and work the hours that no one wants to. You take the good with the bad. I have cried with staff and clients but thankfully laughed with them more, it is all part and parcel of the job, but I love it and sure as heck don’t want to give that part of my life up.

So for me, 2018 is the year for women and it is the year for me! It is the year that I become a working mama. My maternity ends in less than four weeks and while I cry every time (seriously, EVERY time!) I think of leaving my beautiful baby girl I can’t wait to get back into the world of work and to pick up where I left off. I have created a life I love and it includes babies and business!

Baking Up a Storm with Forestside Cookery School

Every once in a while you just need to do something different. Do you ever feel that? You are a bit stuck in a rut and want to try something knew? This is definitely the case with my baking. I love to bake but I am fed up baking the same things over and over again. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result, so I think we can safely assume my baking wasn’t going to taste any different unless I changed it up!

Thankfully mum felt the same, so for part of her birthday present I booked us in to the Forestside Cookery School. Situated upstairs in Forestside shopping centre, it is a culinary heaven, created and developed by Chef Stephen Jeffers. The luxurious custom built space has everything you could think of to create your culinary masterpiece and for a moment I felt like I was transported to the Masterchef kitchen.

From Asian cuisine to pasta making made simple, an Irish bread masterclass to takeaway classics, Stephen has developed a calendar of events to suit all tastes and skills.

Stephen’s passion for educating the public as well as transforming ingredients into delicious delights beams through his kitchen. His years of experience in the N.I. cooking scene is evident through his abundance of knowledge, tips and tricks and in the team of experts that he brings in to assist him. During our Saturday Bakery Class, we were treated to help from Stephen in conjunction with Irish Bake Off Winner Stephen Chisholm!

We started our baking class off in the cookery schools own dining room, sipping on homemade lemonade – a sure fire way to forget the horrific blizzard outside. Right on time, the man himself Chef Stephen Jeffers & his beaming personality, introduced us to the team and invited us to join him at our stations in his bespoke kitchen. You can’t help but get excited when you meet Stephen and see his kitchen, the equipment and the produce Stephen has for you. His enthusiasm is contagious!

I cannot stress enough how stress free this class is! Everyone knows how chaotic baking can be so baking three new creations in four hours is enough to create a pressure cooker catastrophe but Stephen and his team have their teaching down to a fine art. You won’t have to measure an ingredient, wash a dish or worry about messing up your timings – the team are on hand to help everything run smoothly.

The class runs in a clear and easy to grasp format. Firstly, the chefs demonstrated how to make the dough for our doughnuts. Not only do they show you and talk you through the process but they allow you to quiz them during the demo, making it the perfect opportunity to ask any of those burning questions you have. After the first demonstration, you head back to your station with your partner to recreate what you just watched, but you aren’t alone. The chefs are on hand the entire time watching and helping you if (and when, in my case!) something goes wrong.

During our Saturday Bakery Class we were also treated to a light lunch which consisted of Fennel soup that Chef Jeffers rustled up beside us! Our lunch was incredible and everyone was quizzing him for the recipe afterwards which he happily obliged!

The brilliant bit about these classes is the laid back nature. There is no pretentiousness. People are there to learn but most importantly to have fun and the chefs encourage that.

Days like yesterday make me happy for so many reasons. Not only did we get to work alongside two professional chefs but we got to have a bit of craic doing it! We can often become so consumed by the monotonous nature of our lives and fear stepping outside of the box but I challenge you to jump out of it. Book one of Chef Stephen Jeffers class and enjoy something new.

You can check out the range of classes available here.

Trialing the iMantara by Thai Square products

On a night like tonight you really need no excuse to relax. What else is there to do with Storm Emma & The Beast from The East rattling outside? My ethos for 2018 has solely been on taking more “me” time and relaxing more so I was over the moon when I was kindly gifted some of the iMantara range recently.
iMantara by Thai Square Spa was created to allow customers the opportunity to bring the authentic Thai spa experience to their own home with their opulent products.

Relax, restore and revive with expertly blended formulations that harness the potent natural power of botanicals, oriental essential oils, herbs and spices.

I was gifted three products.

1. So Sen Uplifting Jasmine Body Oil
This luxurious body oil, created from a blend of the Thai Jasmine flower extract, is intensely hydrating but more importantly hugely rejuvenating. Being on my feet all day, I flop into bed most evenings but this oil encompasses energy that helps to lift both the body & mind and is a firm shelf favourite of mine now.

2. Sublime Living Jasmine and Rachawadee Room Spray
Since the first spritz first burst into my home, people have commented on the scent showing me the natural power of the formulation. iMantara by Thai Square describe the scent as regal and they aren’t far wrong, close your eyes and you won’t think your in N.I.

3. So Sen Uplifting Jasmine Body Wash
The older I get the more I want to nourish my body and treat it kinder and the Uplifting Jasmine Body Wash helps me do that. It has helped treat my skin using the Coconut Extracts and Olive oil whilst being incredibly soothing.

We are so hard on our bodies and I think 2018 is only the start of me taking better care of myself. We focus so much on health and fitness but not on treating our bodies but the iMantara products have allowed me to do so, having a positive effect on my mind as well as my body.

If you fancy treating yourself, spritz your bathroom with the room spray, run a bath, use your body wash & apply the oil when you get out. I promise you will feel relaxed and rejuvenated afterwards!

Stuck for what to buy your Mum for Mother’s Day?

How do you show your mum just how much she really means to you? Becoming a mum, I have learnt how much mothers really do sacrifice for their little ones. It is a 24/7 job with the worlds craziest dictator for a boss, so how do you even begin to thank a mum for all her hard work. Personally, I love activity gifts rather than material ones. Experiences have always meant more to me than material possessions, so this Mothers Day I’ll be spending it doing an activity with my family rather than looking at my new gift.

With that in mind, here are my Top Five Gifts for your Mum this Mother’s Day.

  1. Cookery Classes

This weekend, mum and I are heading to the Forestside Cookery School. We will be spending four hours under the guidance of their passionate tutors baking chocolate brownies, doughnuts and lemon meringue muffins. Heavenly! Forestside Cookery School is one of many cookery schools in the Belfast area but it came highly recommended so we can’t wait to try it. If you aren’t sure what classes your mum would like best they also do vouchers!

2. Floral Class

I’m not really sure if I have ever heard of a mum that doesn’t like flowers, so why not treat her to a flower arranging class. The creators of my wedding flowers, House of Elliott Lisburn are hosting a flower arranging class this weekend specifically for Mother’s Day.

“we start off with lots of demonstrations and ideas and then you get to arrange a gorgeous arrangement and take it home to enjoy , morning class includes a light lunch and afternoon class includes afternoon tea , price also includes tuition all flowers and containers .”

3. Luxury Pedicure & Prosecco

Before Christmas, mum and I knew we needed some “us” time. It is always easy to get caught up in the chaos of Christmas so we booked in to Beauty Boulevard for their Luxury Pedicure and Prosecco treatment. They have launched the same offer for Mother’s Day and I can’t recommend it enough! It is the perfect pamper package to take some time out just the two of you!

The Luxury Pedicure includes:

Foot soak
Foot exfoilation
Foot mask
Heated booties
Nail tidy, file & shape
Gel polish

4. Relaxation & Pamper Heaven

I am forever raving about Skin Medi Spa and how I feel rejuvenated every time I leave Judith and her team. Why not treat your mum to The Perfect Glow Voucher and head down together for some relaxation. “Get get full body glow with Elemis lemon & ginger salt scrub and vita spray tan.” My idea of heaven!

5. Afternoon Tea

This Mother’s Day mum and I will be heading to The Merchant Hotel Belfast for their Afternoon Tea. The Merchant are well known for their amazing afternoon tea, so why not join your mum and take an hour out of the craziness of the city to enjoy some delicious food.

Whatever you do, make sure your mum feels the love this mothers day. Spend a little extra time making your card or spend the day together. Mums only get one day a year!

BUILDING OUR DREAM HOME: PART TWO

So the last time I blogged about building our dream home in Northern Ireland was June 2016! 19 months ago! Time really does fly in but honestly not a lot has happened since then. They do say self-building is a long process.

Shortly after we received word that our outline planning had been passed, things went on hold as I found out I was expecting Annie. We knew building was a stressful process and so was having a baby, so we didn’t want to add more pressure and stress into the pot! However, after passing the 3 month mark I got excited about the prospect of building our dream home for Baby Hill so we hit the ground running again!

In late March 2017, we submitted our second set of plans (our first set was for our outlining planning and our second then was what we actually wanted to build – the fun part!) We had no idea were to begin designing our home and spent many, many months creeping on houses on Property Pal and nosing around show homes. It took around 4 months before we designed, what we thought, was our dream home.

We knew we wanted 3 or 4 bedrooms, an open kitchen-dining-living room, a good room etc but beyond that we really didn’t have a clue so we needed help, and a lot of it! Thankfully my mum and dad have built two homes and they really became our guiding light in the entire process. Dad and my brother also work in the building trade so they were amazing in giving us ideas and inspiration on what might work and what might not.

Now they say the line of a self-build home never goes straight and boy are they right. Shortly before Christmas we found out that it is pretty unlikely we will have our plans passed. WHAT?! All that hard work and months of planning was down the pan! Somehow though, we weren’t disappointed. Yes, I know that may sound crazy, but after having Annie Carl and I quickly learnt what was our dream home as a single couple was definitely not our dream home as a family and we really wished we could have changed our plans.

Low and behold, this weekend we have finally settled on our ideas and designs for plans number 3. Can it really be third time lucky?! I will keep you posted!

My Current Skincare Regime: January 2018

If you are anything like me you love a good nosy around other peoples make-up bags and skincare shelf. I love seeing what products others love or loathe and ultimately trying the products they rave about!

Since having my Plasma Lift with Skin Medi Spa (you can read about it here) I have been much more strict with my skincare. Pre-January 2018 I was very laxidazy about cleansing before bed or applying my moisturiser daily but now I am religious about it and I can really see a difference.

With that being said, here are my favourite skincare products sitting on my bathroom self at this moment in time…

1. Image Ormedic Balancing Facial Cleanser

The Ormedic Cleanser from Image is definitely my favourite cleanser at the moment. It is a mild cleanser which aims to restore the skins balance. I find it very soothing on my skin, reducing redness and leaving it feeling lovely and soft.

Currently I use this as my night time cleanser.

2. Image Clear Cell Salicyclic Gel Cleanser

I use the Image Clear Cell cleanser every evening. It is a refreshing cleanser which foams upon meeting water to create a lather. It is this lather that is meant to “remove excess oil and sebum without stripping moisture from the kin.” The Clear Cell Cleanser exfoliates the skin using salicylic acid – salicylic acid has become well known in the past year through skincare specialists such as The Skin Nerd for being an acne fighting agent. This cleanser is one of my favourites as it helps to reduce block pores which I would suffer from around my T zone but also leaves my skin feeling soft rather than tight or dry as some cleaners with salicylic acid do.

3. Image Vital C Hydrating Enzyme Masque

This masque exfoliates the build up of dead skin cells but it is mild enough to use everyday. I use it once or twice per week (depending on my time) and remove it after around 30 minutes. It is nourishing to the skin in providing it with antioxidants and vitamins.

4. Image Prevention+ Daily Hydrating Moisturizer SPF 30+
I have never been a moisturizer lover as I find them very greasy on my skin but I don’t find this with the Image Prevention+ Moisturizer. It is light weight, easily absorbed by my skin and hydrating. I apply this in the morning after cleansing and applying my serum.

5. BIOEFFECT EGF Serum

I use the BIOEFFECT EGF Serum night and day after cleansing. It is on the pricier side compared to the other products but I definitely think it is worth it as my skin appears hydrated and healthy after application.

6. Image Vital C Hydrating Repair Cream

I use this as my night cream i.e. after using my Clear Cell cleanser and BIOEFFECT serum before bed. “This rich, reparative crΓ¨me quenches dryness, soothes redness and comforts irritated skin.” My skin feels nourished and protected when I apply this to my skin and it is the perfect night cream to apply before jumping into bed.

My experience of the non-surgical face lift

Good evening! After Christmas I had been so poor on the blogging front, mainly because our house was struck down by the dreaded cold, not once but twice! It’s safe to say if I see another runny nose, teary eyes or pile of tissues it will most definitely be too soon.

I always find after I have the cold my skin suffers really badly. As if the dry nose from blowing it too much isn’t enough (attractive eh??) but my skin always plays up for around one or two weeks after. After my first cold in December I really felt like I needed a pick me up. With the Christmas parties looming I did not fancy going with gloomy, dull skin so I was over the moon when Judith from Skin Medi Spa offered for me to have the Plasma Lift during a demo at her Christmas party.

If you have followed me for a while, you will know of my love for Skin Medi Spa and Judith in particular. You can read all about my Arvigo Maya Massage treatments with Judith here and here. So I knew I was in safe hands letting Judith perform the Plasma Lift.

The Plasma Lift is promoted as being the non-surgical face and eye lift. Its benefits also include anti-ageing and acne treatment. All without using surgery.. sounds great right? Being 25, I am not interested in invasive surgical procedures (just yet anyway) but I want to see results. Being a mum I want a quick and easy treatment with little to no downtime, so I knew the Plasma Lift was the perfect solution for me.

So how does it work?

Using nitrogen plasma technology (aka a machine in Skin Medi Spa) it works at, and below, the surface of the skin to generate new collagen and elastin fibres in order to improve skin tone, texture and laxity. The treatment is meant to bring clinical improvements immediately and overtime, perfect for me who always wants instant results and has no time to waste!

So what happened during the treatment?

It was surprisingly comfortable and pain free! I have to admit, I was apprehensive watching a previous demo and figured it was going to sting but not at all. The machine is linked to a small doppler (that’s what I am calling it anyway!) which moves over the surface of the skin performing heat blasts to each area. Overall it took no more than 20 minutes and afterwards a calming cream was applied to my skin to help reduce redness and the small burning sensation, which felt no more than sunburn.

What did I have to do?

Show up, have the treatment done, keep make up off my skin for 24 hours and moisturiser off for 72 hours. Not bad at all for a non-surgical face lift!

The results?

Instantly, my skin appeared slightly red and where the doppler had applied the nitrogen bursts was evident across the skin surface. My skin felt hot but no more than when I have had sunburn in the past. Around 3 days after the treatment my skin became very dry and parts began to peel but this is a positive aspect of the process and I knew this would bring around better results.

One week later – my skin was still a little dry but much less than 3 and 4 days post treatment. My skin appeared firmer with a slight change in tone.

Two weeks later – the difference in my skin was crazy! Tone had improved drastically with no dryness left. My skin appeared brighter and tighter.

The Plasma Lift definitely did give me instant results which I loved. I am a hugely impatient person so I loved being able to see improvements to my skin immediately and within days. The procedure was pain free and the burning sensation manageable meaning the benefits for me definitely outweighed the negatives. Would I have it done again? Definitely.

A huge thank you to Judith from Skin Medi Spa for inviting me to have the procedure done. You can check out Skin Medi Spa’s website here.

What is a cruise really like?

Our honeymoon really does seem like a lifetime ago now but we still look back on it with the best memories. We decided to try a cruise for our honeymoon, and at that point the best ship was Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. One week sailing around the Caribbean, what else could be better?

We booked the whole thing through Thomas Cook in Connswater who were incredibly helpful. With never having been on a cruise before, we didn’t really know where to begin but they had brilliant advice and made the process very simple.

We flew from Dublin to New York and from New York to Florida as our cruise departed from Fort Lauderdale in Florida. We decided to fly the day before our cruise departed and stay over in Florida for the evening to make sure we were on time for the cruise. When booking on their website, Royal Caribbean give you the option to add flights and a hotel stay before and after your cruise so it is much simpler than it seems.

On the morning of our cruise, our private transfer collected us from the hotel after breakfast and dropped us to the port. I will never forget the size of the ship. I mean, it was insane!

(When we woke up in Miami this amazing boat was docked outside our balcony!)

The joy of a cruise is that you have so many options for stops along the way. We decided for the Eastern Caribbean cruise as our stop offs were: 1. Labadee, Haiti 2. Falmouth, Jamaica 3. Cozumel, Mexico. If you have a bucket list filled with travelling a cruise is perfect for you as you can pretty much tick 3 or 4 cities off in one 6 night, 7 day cruise.

(Central park on the ship)

People often ask me how we spent our day on the cruise and honestly, every day is different. Our week went as follows:

Day One – we jumped on the ship (literally, we were so excited) and it really took 24 hours to get our bearings – it is that big!

Day Two – we spent the day at sea aka we had no stops. This let us sunbathe, relax, check out the restaurants and shops etc.

Day Three – we decided not to book an excursion in Ladadee, Haiti and just headed to the beach. After chilling on the beach we did some shopping around the market and were treated to a beach BBQ. That evening when we were back onboard, we went to the theatre (yes, like the West End) and watched Hairspray The Musical (much to Carl’s delight!)

(Haiti)

Day Four – we departed in Falmouth, Jamaica and joined our coach trip to head to the beach. This excursion included the coach to and from the beach, a BBQ on the beach and drinks all day. I can honestly say I have never seen a more beautiful location. That evening back on board the ship there was a market, kind of like duty free, so we shopped till we dropped!

(Jamaica)

Day Five – we spent the day at sea. Sipping cocktails by the pool, sunbathing, catching up on my books and that even watched a water show in the pool. The show was insane! These olympic divers are crazy, or as we say “they really needed their heads looked at!”

Day Six – saw us attempt snorkelling and speedboating in Cozumel, Mexico. This was the excursion we were most looking forward to and it really lived up to its expectation. Snorkelling in the sea together was the perfect activity us honeymooners although it is a miracle we didn’t get divorced after Carl nearly threw me overboard with the speed he was hitting in the speedboat! That night we were literally exhausted and we even slept through dinner! Thankfully room service is free so we had two steaks and cocktails delivered to the room. Thank you!

Day Seven – we spent the day at sea and enjoyed the craic with the other honeymooning couples at a honeymoon rendezvous on board the ships bar. With champagne and cake it was a lovely afternoon meeting other couples from all over the world!

Day Eight – we arrived back at Fort Lauderdale in Florida and departed the ship. As we were heading on the second part of our honeymoon we got a taxi from the port terminal to our hotel and waived goodbye to the best week abroad! EVER!

We loved our cruise with Royal Caribbean onboard Oasis of the Seas so much so we have another cruise booked for 2019! You would never know you were on board a ship (obviously apart from the fact that you walked on!) and we never even made it around all of the restaurants or activities during the week we were onboard. This is the perfect holiday for couples, families, young and old as there is so much to do onboard and when you depart at your stop off’s. We were spoilt for choice with food, drinks and excursions during our trip and can’t wait to our next cruise next year!