Budget Date Ideas

Thursday, 21 September 2017

As much as Johnny and I enjoy going out for nice meals together and heading out to the cinema, that can sometimes get a little pricy and if you're like us and you're on a budget too, you also probably feel that. We've gotten very good at finding things to do that are really purse-friendly literally making both of us 'cheap dates'. 

Go For A Walk

Yeah, I know. This sounds pretty lame. But on a crisp, autumn Sunday morning, it can be lovely to go for a stroll together. It's a great way to catch up with one another, take in some fresh air and enjoy each other's company. Johnny and I are very lucky to live so close to the Thames Path (we have an access point to it through the carpark of our building!) so we can very easily just go for a walk up there all the way up to the Thames Barrier. We also live very close to a park, which is also perfect for walks. We're hoping to get a furry edition to our little family next month so we will have no excuse but to go for lots of walking dates!

Watch A Film Together

Put your phones to one side, pick a movie, get the popcorn and a blanket and spend the afternoon watching a film. We just recently added the movies onto our NowTV package so this is something Johnny and I have been doing quite recently. We watched 'Meet The Parents' the other night and we had some Krispy Kreme doughnuts and it was so nice -  although trying to ignore our phones for two hours did prove pretty difficult. The snacks definitely help though! And, if you're feeling like throwing a little bit of cash around then order a Dominos - or any other takeaway of your choice.

Have a Mario Kart Tournament

Johnny and I recently invested in a Nintendo Switch and we love to race each other on Mario Kart. Pick a video game of your choice and get competitive - but not too competitive, don't be throwing controllers at the TV screen and stuff like that! Whether it's Mario Kart, Just Dance, Call of Duty or The Sims that gets you excited, play with your S.O and just have a good ol' time! Get some boozy beverages and then, if you're anything like me, your swearing when you fall off of Rainbow Road will get very, very creative. I have been known to call Johnny a 'f*cktrumpet' before! 

Dates don't have to be fancy dinners, fine wine and expensive outings! As long as you're having a great time with the person, cost shouldn't matter. Johnny and I love doing these things together, so I hope I've given you some inspiration for future dates with your S.O!

And, if you don't have an SO, then you could always try online dating! Finding people in your area can be difficult, so try out some area specific dating sites like; this Kent dating site, this Norfolk dating site, this Hampshire dating site and this Oxford Dating site. Using these sites is a surefire way to make sure that special someone isn't miles away! 

*This post was kindly sponsored by the aforementioned dating sites!*

Autumnal Nude MAC Lipstick Picks

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

MAC Lipsticks

I have been wanting to do a post about my MAC Lipsticks for ages, but I couldn't decide which ones to feature - I have so many that I certainly couldn't feature them all! However, I decided as Autumn approached, I would do two MAC Lipstick posts: one with Autumn Nude lipstick picks and one with bolder lipstick picks! So, without further ado, here is a low-down on my favourite Autumn picks!


Syrup was the second ever MAC Lipstick I bought. I purchased it in the MAC shop in Covent Garden during a school trip and I was never actually charged for it as for some reason, the money never went out of my bank account, so I always like to call this my first freebie. It's a lustre finish and it's the most gorgeous mauve pink. It's one of those lipsticks that you can just swipe on without even having to use a mirror and it ties together any look. I always reach for this, whatever season it is, but I particularly love it during the autumn because of it's purple undertones - it almost acts as a berry shade without being too in your face and that really appeals to me as someone who doesn't really like to wear the brightest of shades all the time. Syrup is creamy, sheer but buildable and perfect for this time of year.

Velvet Teddy

Everyone and their dog has this lipstick, or at least has heard of this lipstick. I unashamedly bought this just after Kylie Jenner announced that it was one of her favourites, sceptical of whether or not it would suit me. However, I think Velvet Teddy would honestly suit anyone. It's a perfect brown-orange nude that gives you that desired 90s glamour. The formula is matte but it's a really creamy matte that's exceptionally opaque and one swipe does enough to get you a really solid colour. It's really easy to wear and you obviously can - and should - wear this all year round but weirdly, this lipstick matches a scarf I have so perfectly, and that's why I see this as more of an Autumnal shade. 

Fleur De Force

I love this shade. Seriously. It's in my top 5 MAC Lipsticks of all time. When Fleur announced that she was creating her own MAC shade, I knew I'd love it as I buy so many lip colours based on her recommendations and I was not disappointed with this one. It's the most beautiful browny-pink nude and while it was released in Spring of this year, I knew I'd get the most wear out of it from September onwards and I was right. I've been wearing this nearly everyday since the weather started to get a little colder. It is quite similar to Velvet Teddy in colour, but it's slightly lighter and pinker and is a cremesheen finish, rather than a matte. I did a whole post on this lipstick when it first came out in April, which you can find here.

From L-R: Plumful, Fleur De Force, Syrup, Velvet Teddy

I bought this lipstick after I heard Estee Lalonde talk about it constantly and honestly, it's the most perfect Autumn shade. It is called 'Plumful' but I would call it more of a raspberry shade. It's quite sheer upon first application which is why I added it into the 'Nude' Edit, rather than the brights one. However, as you can see from the swatch, it's very buildable if you want to go for a more intense look. I prefer this colour in it's balmy state; it adds a lovely pop of colour to a look without being too intense. I want to thank Estee for recommending this shade as I've used up one tube of it already and am now halfway through a second; I love it for this time of year.

There we have it. My autumnal nude lipstick picks. Stay tuned on my blog for more autumn lipstick picks, and maybe a eyeshadow one if you're lucky. What are some of your favourite autumn lipstick shades?

My Favourite Podcasts: Part II

Sunday, 17 September 2017

A few months ago, I did a post detailing my favourite podcasts and since then, I've listened to a hell of a lot more and while the ones I previously mentioned are still firm favourites, I felt like a little updating was required. 

All of August and now into September, I have been obsessed with Gilmore Guys. Anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with Gilmore Girls and it is one of my all-tine favourite TV shows and so why I hadn't listened to Gilmore Guys sooner, I don't know. I listened to these on the bus to work everyday and now I listen to them on the commute to uni. They're exceptionally long - each episode averages around 1 and a half hours - which means one lasts me a whole three trips to uni and back. The hosts, Kevin and Demi, are so funny and they have a wonderful selection of guests, including Scott Patterson (who plays Luke Danes!), Liza Weil (who plays Paris Geller!) and even Lauren Graham (who, of course, plays Lorelai Gilmore!). Now when I watch Gilmore Girls, I can't help but add in the "choo choo!" in the theme song, and sing "la la, la la, special guest" when that jingle plays on the show.  If you love Gilmore Girls like I do, then you will just love Gilmore Guys. 

Episode to start with: Episode 1, Season 1 

I've been really into true crime podcasts this month and Black Hands: A Family Mass Murder shot up the iTunes charts last month so I just had to try it. It's a very interesting New Zealand-based podcast following the 1994 murder of five members of the same family. In this podcast, Martin van Beyen rifles through the evidence to essentially come to the conclusion of whodunnit. It's a well put together podcast, with 911 calls, courtroom clips and much more. The episodes aren't too long and I love to listen to them while I'm cooking dinner or popping out to the shops or something. If you love podcasts like Serial, then you will be hooked on Black Hands.

Episode to start with: Episode 1, House of Horrors

I'm a huge fan of Estee Lalonde and always have been ever since I started watching beauty YouTube in 2012 - and I've even met her. When I found out she was making a podcast, The Heart Of It, I was elated. So far, only one episode has come out but I am already obsessed with it. I love how Estee has been tackling the big issues and not shying away from them like some people with her platform would do. In the pilot, she openly talks about protest and the woman's march, as well as interviewing the 19-year-old American girl who wrote the poem 'Nasty Woman' in light of Donald Trump's insults to Hillary Clinton. I can't wait to see where Estee takes this podcast next; it's a good amount of fact and opinion. 

Episode to start with: Episode 1, Protest

Everyone and their dog has listened to Serial, so it really needs no introduction. Serial investiagates the closed case of the murder of Hae Lin Mee in 1999 Baltimore, which her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was convicted for. Sarah Koenig sorts through all the evidence, talks to Adnan about the case extensively and tracks down new evidence via interviews with Adnan's and Hae's friends at the time and explores the theories surrounding the case that Adnan is innocent. Serial season one was incredible; I was totally hooked and wanted to find out so much more about Adnan's case and was extremely excited to click the next episode. However, I tried to get into Season 2 but couldn't. It just wasn't for me and I think that's a shared opinion across the internet (as far as I can see!). If you like True Crime, you will love Serial!

Episode to start with: S01 Episode 01 - The Alibi 

I'm always looking for podcast recommendations so leave yours in the comments below. What podcasts have you been loving recently? 

Bianco43 Greenwich Restaurant Review (Date Night)

Thursday, 14 September 2017

It was Johnny's 20th birthday a few weeks ago and so we decided to go out for a really nice meal/date. We chose Bianco43 which is an Italian restaurant chain that I believe is exclusive to London. While the food was incredible, some of our experience was a little lacking...

Firstly, let's start with the wine. I never used to be a snob about wine (as a student, you kinda can't be!) but now I know what I like, and unfortunately what I like is a really nice, dry Sauvignon Blanc and at quite a lot of Italian restaurants, they don't really offer that. Honestly, the wine we went for was complete piss. We both went for a carafe which is 500ml and I think mine was £12 and Johnny's was £15 and quite honestly, it was utter piss. It was far, far to sweet for me but also it kind of burned the back of my throat like vodka which decent wine isn't supposed to do. I think I've been spoiled by bottles of wine that are £20 on Ocado, but my point still stands: don't order the cheap wine from here!

The menu was really nicely done on this newspaper style and very varied with lots of choice. They claim to be the best pizzeria in London but Johnny and I went for risotto as it is really a firm favourite of ours and Johnny makes a mean one, so we are always interested to see what others are like in comparison. We didn't get a long time to ponder the menu, however. The waitress was very, very pushy, coming back to the table every 2 minutes even though we said that we weren't ready yet and hadn't decided. I think they were really pushing for a high turnover and wanted to get people in and out as fast as possible but on a special meal out like this one, it was kind of bad that we felt rushed and pressured. 

The food however was delicious. We both went for a rosemary and pancetta risotto which honestly had the best texture and consistency with the crisp and salty pancetta, the buttery and rich rice and the floral taste of the rosemary. We both polished the meal off extremely quickly due to how completely delicious it was. My mouth is watering just looking back at that photo and while it might look like nothing special and just a packet of Uncle Ben's, it was truly mouthwatering and one of the best risottos I've had to date - apart from Johnny's of course!

When it came to the bill, it was a lot more than I expected it to be and that was due to a 12.5% service charge. I really didn't want to pay due to how pushy our waitress was, and how she essentially pushed our table into the rear wall just to make room for another one, while we were sat on it and enjoying our food! However, I'm too nice of a human to ever refuse a service charge and unwillingly handed over my debit card to the waitress who'd slammed my chair into a back wall. I really despise service charges as someone who always leaves a tip. They're super Americanised and really unnecessary, and this is coming from someone who used to work in a restaurant.

If you're heading off on a date and want a reasonably priced Italian with delicious food then I suggest Bianco43 for sure. And, if you're looking to wine (well, maybe not here...) and dine someone but can't find anyone in your area, you can always check out these area specific dating sites; there is a Northampton dating site, a Bristol dating site, a Kent dating site, an Aberdeen dating site and even an over 50s dating site for all you golden oldies!

Overall, I really enjoyed our meal out at Bianco43 in Greenwich. However, the service was pretty poor and the wine was really bad (but that's probably just my snobbery) but I'd love to go to another branch of it, order a pizza and maybe stay off the vino! 

*This post was kindly sponsored by the aforementioned dating sites!*

My Haircare Essentials

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

I really don't do a lot with my hair. I'm completely crap at any kind of styling, hate washing it with a passion due to the fact it's so thick and nearly always have it tied up in a messy ponytail or bun out of the way. However, my hair is still really healthy and I do look after it. Here are the things that my weave could not live without.

Garnier Ultimate Blends Shampoo & Conditioner with Coconut Milk

I freaking love this Garnier combo! I picked it up on a whim because it was on offer in Boots and I'm so glad that I did. I've always been an Aussie Miracle Moist girl for as long as I can remember - but this Garnier Ultimate Blends with Coconut Milk makes my hair feel so soft, so shiny and takes about three days before it feels really greasy, which is a nice change. It's official name is the "wholesome nourisher" which is exactly what this does to your hair; it makes it feel pampered and nourished and leaves it feeling so clean. Both the shampoo and conditioner work really well together although I will say this - the conditioner is exceptionally heavy so a little definitely goes a long way! This stuff also smells amazing due to the coconut milk. I really recommend this to anyone with hair like mine.

Coconut Oil*

My hair gets super greasy really quickly so when someone suggested using coconut oil in my hair, I was really sceptical. However, I recently got send some from and I was really pleased with how it made my hair feel. I just warmed it up in my hands and ran it through the ends of my hair while it was wet and let it dry naturally and the effect was insane. I've never felt my hair feel better. Coconut oil not only makes your hair feel nice, but it's also really good at keeping your hair healthy. Since I use heat on my hair quite a lot, keeping it healthy is really important to me as I don't want it all falling out - I have no idea how much a hair transplant costs but I have a feeling that it's not cheap! But something that is cheap is coconut oil, so there really aren't any negatives of using it. 

Argan Oil* also gifted me some Argan Oil, which was extremely generous of them. I'd never used this on my hair either due to the whole oil thing but again, I was pleasantly surprised when I tried this out for the first time. It keeps my hair so soft and healthy, and I use it in the same way that I use the coconut oil. I usually alternate between the two when I wash my hair as I don't want my hair getting used to one oil and then not benefitting from it. I really love using oils in my hair now and I'm so glad that sent me these goodies to try as I never would have bought them myself!

BabyLiss Ceramic Pro 230 Straighteners 

Johnny bought me these straighteners for my birthday and I really can't fault them. My hair is naturally very wavy and thick but I prefer the look of it when it's straight, so when I have the time, I always straighten my hair in the mornings. These straighteners do the job really well as well as being really aesthetically pleasing for someone who adores the combo of blush pink and black like me! These straighteners have heat settings up to 240 degrees, heat up really quickly and also cool down really quickly. I use them mostly to straighten my hair but sometimes, if I'm off somewhere really special I'll curl it using these - and the appropriate heat protectant on my hair as well which is very important. If you're looking for some basic but really effective straighteners that won't break the bank, I really recommend these! 

As I said, I'm no expert in haircare but these are just the things I use to keep my hair super healthy and happy. Honourable mentions also go out to my TangleTeezer and my hairdryer, those things are also a complete godsend! 

*This post was very kindly sponsored by The Harley Street Hair Clinic!*
*This post also contains products gifted to me.*

Approaching Brands As A Smaller Blogger

Thursday, 7 September 2017

If you're 'small' in the blogging community, like I am, it sometimes can be really daunting to approach brands for fear of being ignored, sounding unprofessional or just not knowing what to say at all. I found approaching brands really scary at first but now I've gotten the hang of what to say, I've started to bag myself a few sponsored posts and a lot of samples. Today I will be sharing with you my top-tips on approaching brands as a smaller blogger.

Get Yourself a Media Kit

As soon as I got myself a professional looking media kit, I felt like brands took a lot more notice of me. It clearly lays out all of my information and stats, as well as highlighting other brands I've worked with and what my blog is all about. My media kit is a graphic which was made by the wonderful Emma Drury and I really recommend her services - she's very reasonably priced and her graphic design skills are mad. I really think a media kit is important in making you look professional and also it means you don't have to re-type your stats every time you're writing out an email. I'm not going to post my media kit but if you want to see it, you can always drop me a DM on Twitter and I'll happily show you what it's like!

Follow A Decent Email Structure

Whenever I email brands, I follow the same usual structure. I start by introducing myself and linking my blog - that's really important, don't forget that! I then talk about how much I like the brand but I usually don't lay it on too thick - I just mention maybe a few products that I like from them or explain why I like the service they provide. I then go on to explain what ideas I have for a collaboration - this could be post ideas or specific products I'd like to review for them. I give a brief over-view of my stats but indicate my attached media kit has a more comprehensive breakdown of my platforms and then finish the email with something suggestive - no, not like that! That's not how I get collabs, people! - like 'I look forward to hearing from you soon' and sign my name, with my social channels linked underneath it. I find this to be a good structure to use as it shows interest in the brand without kissing ass and is nice and concise. Remember, PRs get a shit-tonne of these emails so you don't want to ramble!

Get Over The Fear

Always remember that the worst a brand can do is say no. More often than not, I get a very polite 'sorry but we are not looking to collaborate with anyone at the moment' email, which is a little disheartening but fine. It's better to email them though as brands are going to say yes to you - and remember, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take (did I really say that? Bleugh!). Don't let the word 'no' scare you! Think of it as applying for a job: you wouldn't not apply for your dream job on the off-chance you wouldn't get it, would you? So don't worry, breathe in and out and press that send button! I've only ever had one PR being downright rude to me before, and they're not a common breed!

Stop Thinking You're Not Good Enough

Brands and PRs look at your content, not just your numbers. Even if you are small, that doesn't mean they're not going to want you. More than ever now, brands are looking at things like engagement, quality of content, photography etc. I was terrified to reach out to brands for a long time because I was so caught up comparing myself to huge bloggers in the industry that I completely lost all confidence in myself and forgot all my strengths. Don't fall into this funk; your blog is a representation of your personality so it's individual to you. Trying to be like or comparing yourself to others will only dishearten you, or turn you into something you're not. Brands love individuality and if you get that across, you're almost guaranteed a response.

It may seem super daunting to approach brands, but just remember that you are unique, awesome and by far good enough. Take the shot; drop them an email and see how it goes! You may be pleasantly surprised! 

Achieving Clearer Skin with T-Zone

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

I had been eyeing up the T-Zone Charcoal & Bamboo Range for a very long time so you can imagine my delight when T-Zone offered to send me across the entire range for me to review. If you know me, then you know that I'm a budget skincare fiend and develop a slight eye twitch if I have to fork out a lot of money on skincare, so the fact that nothing in this range is priced above £5.99 really made my bargain-hunter heart sing. Not only are they reasonably priced, but also really good quality products that work - well, for my skin anyway. 

I suffer terribly with blackheads; as soon as I get rid of them, more appear. I'm not 100% sure what I am doing wrong, but these products have really helped to keep those pesky blackheads under control, and they've also helped with my blemishes. It's incredible to me how many gems you can buy in Superdrug or Boots for a fraction of the price of something you'd pick up at the Liz Earle counter, and often they work in the same way or even better. 

Black Peel Off Mask || £4.99

I won't lie to you, I was absolutely terrified to use this mask. I've seen all the videos of people peeling off these types of masks and crying because it hurt so much. However, I had always wanted to use one because I wanted to see if it actually worked and pulled all of the gross dirt and impurities out of my skin so this was the first thing I tried from T-Zone. I rubbed a thin layer of this mask across my whole face and waited, nervous that in just 10 minutes I'd be in a world of pain. When it started to peel a little, I began to take it off my face and it wasn't nearly as painful as I'd thought it would be. The only place where it tugged a little was under my eyes, so I think next time I do the mask I will avoid that area completely. However, it cleared my skin right up, pulling out all of the disgusting black and white heads that normal masks just can't get to. I was really impressed by this mask and how soft it made my skin feel; I'd definitely recommend it. 

Ultra Purifying Face Wash || £3.25

I have been using this face wash every. single. day since I received these in the post, morning and night. It smells so clean and fresh, and it makes my face feel so clean. I take off all my make-up with a Micellar water first and then lather this up and rub it into my face in circular motions. I've never had a face wash like this, which makes my face feel so clean and fresh and matte straight after use. It's the perfect thing to use for a double cleanse because it's so quick to use and it also makes the perfect in-shower morning cleanse. I've even got Johnny to try this out and he really likes it too; I'm slowly encouraging him to have a decent skincare regime and I think that he likes that this face wash is black - maybe it feels a bit more meta for him. 

Self Heating Mask || £4.99

This is 100% the standout product from the range for me. This mask is insane and I am so sad that you only get four sachets in a box because I want to smear this stuff on my face every single day. I've never tried anything self-heating before but I'm definitely going to delve into this side of beauty now; it's the strangest but most wonderful sensation. You wet your face and then rub this magical, grey liquid into your face and immediately it starts to heat up. It's not at all uncomfortable; it's incredibly relaxing and refreshing. It's also a really easy solution to masking. You only have to leave it on for 1 minute, meaning your face feels like it's had all the benefits of a face mask but without the 20 minutes of standing around trying not to touch things with your face. I have used all of these now but I am definitely going to be purchasing some more. 

Deep Cleansing Face Scrub || £2.99

This scrub is really nice and feels really deeply cleansing. I leave this one in the shower and use it 3 mornings a week and it's really kept my blackheads down. The scrub is not too harsh either - some drugstore scrubs really strip the oils out of your face and can make your skin even worse but this one is really gentle and makes your skin feeling so refreshed. Again, this is another one that Johnny has adopted into his skin-care regime. I think it's probably just because I left it in the shower and it's convenient for him to use but he's given it very positive reviews too so you've got four thumbs up from the Rennard-Wells household, T-Zone!

Black Cleansing Wipes || £2.99

Honestly, the Black Cleansing Wipes were probably my least favourite part of the range but I'm not really a wipe kind of person so that's no surprise. They're really cool looking (they're black, I mean c'mon!) but I really just don't use wipes on my face. I did try these out regardless and they did feel nicer than some other wipes (they didn't burn my eyes or anything like that, like some wipes I have tried in the past in the same price range) but I think I'll be saving these for taking swatches off the back of my hand and popping in my handbag just in case. 

No-Shine Papers || £2.99

During the summer, I always have blotting paper in my handbag just in case my nose gets a little shiny and I need to do some make-up salvaging. When I saw that this range had some blotting papers in it, I was really pleased. They're always really useful to have lying around. I really like these blotting papers; not only are they black, but they are really good at absorbing any excess oil when you get a little bit shiny and don't make your make up look cakey at all. They're also in such a handy little pouch which keeps them dirt free and makes them so easy just to slide into your bag on days when it's a little warm. I've found these to be so useful when out and about!

Nose Pore Strips || £3.99

The only strips like this I'd tried before were the Biore ones and I was really impressed by those; there's something extremely satisfying about pulling them off and seeing all the dirt that they've pulled out of your face. When I saw these in my little goody box from T-Zone, I did a little happy dance. Again, this is another product that I convinced Johnny to use and he loves them too. You just moisten your nose, stick one of these on and wait 10-15 minutes for the magic to happen. These, I feel, are stickier than the Biore ones. You need a lot of water to make them stick but for these, they stick really easily. The stickiness is also useful because it helps pull more dirt and impurities out of your face. My nose has never felt so clear after using these; they're quick, easy and for the most part painless. I will definitely continue to use these, and Johnny will too! 

I completely fell in love with this affordable skin care range from Superdrug, and I can't wait to continue using it and watch my skin completely clear up. Nothing in this range is above £5.99 which means it's perfect if you're on a budget. I highly recommend T-Zone products - if you're in the market for new skin care, you should definitely try this.

*This post was kindly sponsored by T-Zone, however all thoughts and opinions are my own!*

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