Weekly Wants #12 [Back to School]

Although my second year at university doesn't officially start for nearly another month, my tenancy for my new house officially starts next week (terrifying!), so the shopaholic in me is pretty much heading into overdrive - I've already penciled in a trip to Ikea to buy my new bedding & storage (am I the only one who finds these things exciting? I could live in Ikea!), and this, naturally, has become an excuse to start thinking about stocking up my closet, make up bag and stationary drawer.
Aside from the obvious autumn basics - a thick, warm coat, a cosy pair of boots (or two!), a soft knitted scarf - there are a few things I just can't do without once term starts up. 

Nothing screams 'back to school' at me quite like a classic satchel, and whilst I already own a couple of these River Island versions, I'm a huge fan of the new variations they've got for A/W, so I pretty much have to get my hands on this beauty - a little more than I'd ideally spend on a 'high street' bag, but I can't fault River Island on quality or style.

Whilst I love a good night out as much as the next student, a huge part of my semesters are spent in my bedroom, writing some assignment or other, until the early hours of the morning, taking a quick nap, and then heading to my lectures, so a comfy lounge set is pretty vital for me - and I've been a huge fan of David & Goliath's offerings for a good few years.

I feel like the Missguided blazer is a pretty obvious choice, from me - it's gorgeous, the perfect shade for autumn/winter, and can be thrown on at the last minute to turn any outfit from 'hi, I just rolled out of bed' to 'hot mess' - a huge bonus the morning after the night before! 

Does anyone have a Dodo Pad? I have quite a few friends who swear by these diaries, but have never taken the plunge - would you recommend them?

What are your 'back to school' essentials to kick off a new school year?

Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Gel Liner [Review]

I've had some pretty surprising compliments on my eyeliner lately; I'm a bit of a self-professed eyeliner newbie, so it's not something I'm really used to (not that it's not welcome!), but, after L'Oreal's Super Liner (reviewed here) quite literally fell apart when I went to use it one morning, the lovely Mel recommended I try Maybelline's 'Lasting Drama' Gel Liner, and I haven't looked back.
As you can (hopefully!) see from the above picture, 'Lasting Drama' is an extremely pigmented formula, and as a result, you really don't need much product to get a rich, dramatic line; the fact that the formula is so smooth and creamy also makes the application process a breeze (and that's coming from someone who couldn't get a liquid line straight if her life depended on it!), and means that, should your eyeliner skills be slightly-below-average, it's very easy to fix any imperfections with a cotton bud, completely smudge-free.
I'm also a huge fan of the brush included with the eyeliner, as it couldn't be more perfect for creating precise lines; whilst I love a winged look, I'm all about thin lines that don't overshadow my eye make-up, and the gel brush in this set allows for just that - of course, it's vital that you keep it clean, and I'd recommend wiping it with a face wipe after every use to make sure those lines are as thin as possible!

The one thing I am always a little skeptical about, when it comes to gel liners, is the staying power - whilst I can't confirm that it lasts for the 24 hours it claims to (I really can't think of a situation where I'd need an eyeliner to last that long, honestly, but I'll let you know if one comes up!), for the 12-18 hours a day I do wear it, it stays completely opaque, and even the wings don't smudge; whilst this might not work too well for anyone looking for more of a 'smokey' look, it's ideal as far as I'm concerned, and I'll be sticking with it for a long time!

Would I recommend it? In a heartbeat!
Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Gel Liner retails for £7.99, and is available at both Boots and Superdrug.

Spinach, Feta & Red Pepper Filo Quiche [Low Cal Recipe]

Bank holiday weekends in my little world are a laid-back affair; rolling out of bed slightly later than is usually allowed, a little too late for breakfast, so you make it brunch, instead. Spend the day watching rubbish TV, Disney movies, doing one or two little DIY projects...maybe bake.
This 'quiche' is perfect for a bank holiday weekend; it takes just over half an hour to whip up, and tastes great either cold or re-heated the following day.
I know shortcrust pastry is more traditional for quiches, but I personally find filo pastry a lot easier to work with (or, as one of my friends said to me this morning: 'you're Greek, don't you use filo for everything?') - it does have quite a bad reputation as being 'difficult', but as along as you take it out of the fridge about five minutes before you need it and work quickly, it's pretty simple to use.
The filling itself is simple, but delicious; of course, you can mix it up a little, use whatever you have in your fridge, but I'm a huge fan of the spinach/feta/red pepper combination. Fresh spinach is best, if you have it, but you can use frozen (as I did, this time around!) if you happen to have some.
For the version I'm sharing, the process is pretty simple - it's just a case of chopping some onions and peppers, sautéing them with your spinach, and stirring the cooled mixture into some beaten eggs, and feta, before pouring it all into your filo crust and popping it in the oven. 

Simple, but delicious. 
Spinach, Feta & Red Pepper Filo Quiche:
Serves 4. 

  • 3 sheets filo pastry
  • 320g frozen spinach (or a bag of fresh)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 60g feta cheese
  • 4 medium eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°, gas mark 5. Line a 8-inch springform cake tin with the filo pastry; start by placing one sheet into the pan, and pressing it lightly into the creases, ensuring there are no gaps; don't worry if there are small tears! Do the same with the second sheet, placing it in the opposite direction, so the two form a cross-shape in your tin. Now, using the third sheet, fill in any gaps in the base or sides of the pastry, tearing it if you need to.
    Be sure to break off any pieces of filo which hang over the sides of the tin, as it'll be much harder to do once the quiche has cooked!
  2. If you're using frozen spinach, defrost it according to the information on the package; about 5 minutes in a 750 Watt microwave. Set aside.
  3. Dice your onion and bell pepper. Lightly spray a frying pan with oil, and cook the onion on a medium heat until it just turns transparent, about 3-4 minutes, then add the bell pepper and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Add the spinach for about a minute, combining the ingredients, then remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Whilst the filling is cooling slightly, crumble the feta in a bowl - I find the best way to do this is to 'mash' it with a fork (technical term!). Crack the four eggs into this mixture, beating them into the feta. Now add the slightly cooled spinach mixture, and combine.
  5. Pour the filling into your filo pastry case, and place the quiche onto the middle shelf of the oven for 25-35 minutes, until the quiche is completely firm all the way through, and the filo pastry is crisp.
How are you spending your bank holiday? Do let me know if you try this quiche - and you can check out my other recipes here!
This quiche contains 260 calories per slice, based on four servings per quiche.

Fresher Fix: The University Checklist

This time last year, things were very different for me; having just received my a-level result, I'd just got into my first-choice university, and, after a little celebrating, reality set in - I wasn't prepared, in the slightest. I had things to buy, accommodation to finalise, boxes to pack and flatmates to try and track down via the fifty different 'Fresher' pages my university had on Facebook.
I trawled Google for hours looking at list upon list of 'fresher necessities', and, being a bit of a list-making junkie, eventually, I decided to make my own; and, seeing as I know a lot of the bloggers I've been talking to on Twitter etc seem to be preparing for the big move into Fresherdom, I figured I'd share my university packing list: the basic items you'll need for your first year on campus
You can download the full list in a PDF document to print off for yourself here.
If you're anything like me, your university bedroom will pretty much be the center of your universe during term time - studying, bonding with your flatmates, Skyping with your family, it's really your space, so it's important that you make sure you take everything you're gonna need to be comfortable - from clothing and bedding to home comforts and noticeboards!
  • Alarm clock
  • Bedding - some universities provide duvets and pillows, but most expect you to bring your own, as well as bed sheets, duvet covers (at least two of each, you'll be washing your own!), blankets and pillow cases; the Argos value range has double duvets from £9.99 and are pretty good quality - I have this one and it's lasted me so far!
  • Clothes - go without saying, but I'd suggest taking mostly A/W stuff for the first term, and collecting your spring & summer clothes when you're home over the Easter break.
  • Doorstop - wedging your door open when you've unpacked lets everyone know you're ready to socialise!
  • Extension cable
  • First-aid kit -this is a pretty important one, when Fresher's flu starts making the rounds, you'll be pleased to have some vitamin c tablets & paracetamol, and plasters and Savlon always come in handy.
  • Hangers
  • Hot water bottle
  • Laundry bag/basket
  • Noticeboard - some university rooms come with these, but make sure to bring pins - they were sold out everywhere for a good few weeks at the start of term near my campus, nobody had remembered them!
  • Room spray - you're not usually allowed candles on campus, and those rooms can get stuffy.
  • Sewing kit - for ripped dresses & missing buttons
  • Sleeping bag - in case you have friends to stay!
  • Storage boxes
  • Wall calendar
  • Waste bin - again, sometimes these are provided
  • Weekend bag - for those trips home/to visit friends!
  • Home comforts - photographs, trinkets, posters, tickets, anything you think will make you feel more comfortable in your surroundings! Take some white tac with you, as blu tac may stain your walls! My fairy lights were the first thing I unpacked, and they seriously calmed me down.
Personally, I couldn't bare the thought of having catered accommodation for my first year away from home, so opted for a flat with a full kitchen, meaning I had to buy all the pots, pans, utensils and cutlery needed to survive for a year - whilst it's certainly a more expensive post-a-level shopping trip, I think it's worth it, especially if, like me, you like to cook and bake.
  • Baking tray(s) - I'd recommend at least 2, in case you're ever cooking for others.
  • Bottle opener - I had to include this for the beer & cider drinkers out there, but personally, I never used mine, and actually forgot I had it!
  • Dishware - bowls, side plates, dinner plates, glasses and mugs - you probably don't need a full set of four, but I'd recommend about 2 of each, in case you break one! 
  • Cutlery - Get a set of four, they will go missing! This is the one I have, from Ikea - 16 pieces for £1.50!
  • Can opener
  • Colander
  • Flask - for early morning lectures!
  • Cake tin - if you're into baking, this'll come in handy come your flatmates' birthdays!
  • Frying pan 
  • Saucepan
  • Wok - will come in handy to make stir-frys (one of my Fresher staples!) or if you'd like to try my cheer me up tacos!
  • Pyrex dish - works for brownies, lasagne/pasta bakes, and casseroles.
  • Spatula
  • Tongs
  • Wooden spoon
  • Knives - when it comes to knives, I'd say it's best to opt for two or three more expensive, better quality knives, rather than the 'value' knife blocks which contain 5-6 that may well fall apart on first use. Ideally, you only really need a bread knife, chef's knife and parring knife.
  • Chopping board
  • Pizza cutter - I went without, and found myself saying 'I wish I had a pizza cutter' at least five times throughout the first term.
  • Oven gloves
  • Tea towels
  • Kitchen scales & measuring cups - for the bakers and calorie counters out there!
  • Tupperware 
  • Food bags & clips
  • Any dried food you can take with you - in case you don't get to shop on the first day!

What you need to take with you here really depends on whether or not you're sharing a bathroom. I was lucky enough to get an en-suite shower room, so I stocked up on all the toiletries I'd need to last me the year - doubles of shower gels, body lotions and shampoo all made their way to university with me, which made budgeting in term time miles easier; I'd recommend it if you're in the same position!
  • Bathroom scales
  • Towels - two bath towels and two hand towels - you might want to take a couple of old towels if you dye/bleach your hair etc.
  • Flannels, two.
  • Body lotion
  • Cosmetics
  • Cotton wool pads
  • Deoderant
  • Exfoliators
  • Face wash 
  • Face wipes
  • Moisturiser
  • Razor & blades
  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Toothbrush & paste

As silly as it might sound, with all the stress of moving and meeting your new flatmates, adjusting to life away from home, and battling Fresher's flu (yes, you will get it!), it can kind of escape your mind for the first week or so that you're actually at university to study - so make sure you take all of the essentials with you, as the stationary shops on & around campus tend to sell-out of the basics pretty quickly at the start of term!
  • Academic diary - you're not going to be constantly reminded of your deadlines, so it's best to make a note of everything.
  • Cellotape
  • Desk tidy
  • Folder(s) - I used one per term.
  • Highlighters 
  • Hole punch
  • Pencil case - along with pens, pencils, erasers, and a math set if you need one.
  • Post-its - I can't live without a pad of these.
  • Printer & spare inks - I got an all-in-one printer from Amazon (here), because it worked out cheaper than paying 5p per sheet at the campus library - some lecturers expect you to take lecture slides to make notes on, so it's a worthwhile investment!
  • Pritt stick
  • Scissors
  • Stapler & staples
  • Superglue - it sounds stupid, but I used mine so much!
  • USB sticks
There are a couple of essentials you're going to need for your first few weeks as a Fresher in a new city; whilst they're not all completely necessary, they may just make the transition to life at university a little easier.

  • CV copies - if you're intending to work through your first year, you'll want to get applying ASAP, so having CVs to hand is a huge bonus.
  • Exam certificates - I was never asked for mine, but they might be handy to have, depending on your degree.
  • Housing contract - as well as any details about your rent.
  • Local map - A-Z maps cover most cities, and you can order them online here.
  • Passport & photocopies - you'll need your passport (or driver's license!) for ID, and photocopies come in handy for job applications etc. 
  • Student finance letter - you'll need to give this to your university when you enroll, so they can process your tuition loan.
So, I hope this list helps anyone who's heading off to university this year - where's everyone going? Did you get into your university of choice?
And, to everyone who's already attending or has graduated, how did you go about deciding what to pack when you moved out?

Skinkiss Caffeine-Infused Tights [Review]

I have to make a bit of a confession: when it comes to weight loss and 'toning up', I'm a complete sucker for anything that offers a bit of a quick fix or helping hand. Don't get me wrong, there's no substitute for healthy eating and exercise, but sometimes, the allure of a product which might help those 'trouble areas' is far too great, even if they far too often fall a little short of their claims.
When I heard about Skinkiss' caffeine-infused tights, though, which claim to have microcapsules of caffeine woven directly into the fabric, releasing them into the legs to improve the speed at which they burn fat, I just knew I had to get my hands on a pair.
The pictures above should give you a rough idea of the opacity, or you can (just about!) see me wearing them here.
I do have one slight issue with the tights, which I feel the need to mention before I go onto the results; I tend to wear tights ranging between 30 - 100 denier all-year round (yes, even when it's this hot), just because I feel they're slightly more flattering, but Skinkiss' caffeine tights are sheer.  So thin, it took me about ten minutes to put them on for the first time, in fact. Whilst it's not enough to stop me from wearing them, I'd definitely like to see a more opaque version, especially for the upcoming winter months.
Aside from that, I do have to say the price was a bit of a downside for me - with three pairs to a pack, each pair of tights clocks in at just under £8.50 each - a bit steep, considering each pair only contains enough caffeine to last five washes!

Results? I have to say, I started noticing a difference in my legs' toning on pretty much the second or third day of wearing the tights, but was a little skeptical that it might all be down to wishful thinking, so I waited until I'd been wearing them for a little longer to take measurements.
Reviews on the tightsplease website claim losses of anything between 0.5cm to 1.5 inches, and whilst this did seem a little 'too good to be true' to me, after 2 weeks of wearing these tights for about 10-12 hours a day, I've lost an inch off of my hips! Although I've been sticking to my healthy eating and pilates, this is definitely more than I'd ever expect to have lost over 14 days, so I'm pretty happy with the results - let's just hope it stays off if I stop wearing them every day!

Skinkiss Caffeine Infused Tights are available in both black and nude from Tightsplease, and retail at £25.48 for a pack of three (*).

Weekly Wants #11

Am I making my current obsession with peplums a little too obvious? I must have tried on at least three different peplum skirts so far this week, as well as two dresses - I haven't committed to actually buying any of them, yet, as I'm not sure how I feel about anything so flared on my pear-shaped frame, and, naturally, the peplum tee from Topshop that I've been lusting over isn't in stock in any of my local stores, so I'll have to just keep bookmarking them until I can summon the courage to make a purchase. 

I'm seriously into building up my collection accessories at the minute - with the weather being so unpredictable lately, I figure starting to switch out my jewellery, bags, and shoes for the impending winter is probably the best place to start! I'm a big fan of gold tones for A/W, so I couldn't resist adding one of the new MAC nail lacquers into the mix - I'm so eager to try out the new collection - just me? 

I feel like I'm on a continuous quest for the 'perfect' nude blazer, I can never seem to find the right tone for my complexion, but I have to admit, the above one from Forever 21 looks like it might tick all the right boxes...

What's your 'starting-off point' for your A/W wardrobe?

A Line in a Song [Outfit Post]

Jacket: Primark
Tee: H&M
Trousers: New Look
Necklace: Forever 21
Bracelet: Sevinoma

I noramlly avoid trousers like the Plague as I'm a bit self-conscious of my hips & thighs, but I grabbed these New Look skinnies on a whim last year and fell head-over-heels for the flattering cut; I'm hoping they'll have something similar this season, as I'd quite happily stock up on a range of colours (am I the only one who does this when they find an item they adore?).

This whole outfit was really just a bit of a 'throw on and go' look for me, honestly; I usually spend a little too much time on choosing an outfit every morning, but I'm feeling a bit under the weather today - barely wanted to drag myself out of bed - so I reached for my trusty Breton tee, which I find pretty hard to go wrong with.

Weekly Wants #10

Is it terribly obvious that I'm on the lookout for a new dress, this week?
One of my closest friends is having an 'indoor garden party' to compensate for the seriously temperamental weather, and everyone's been instructed to 'dress as though we're having a proper summer' - which means I get to buy myself a pretty dress, attempt a neutral make up look, and do my best to look pretty after a journey that'll probably involve struggling with my umbrella just to get to the venue.
Right now, I'm just trying to work out which one of these three gorgeous dresses to settle on...first world problems, eh?

Has anyone tried the new(ish!) Lush 'Emotional Brilliance' range? I'm dying to try out their lipsticks, but £14.50 does seem fairly steep for a brand new range of products - can't help the feeling I'm better off sticking to my trusty MAC lipstick collection, but I'd love to hear if anyone's tried out any of Lush's new venture.

I have a bit of an obsession with shoe-boots at the moment, so when I spotted this gorgeous pair from Runway Shoes, I knew I had to have them - here's hoping I don't end up looking like Bambi learning to walk when I get them on!

Has anyone tried either the Lush 'emotional brilliance' range or anything from Pixi beauty? I'd love to hear your experiences, as I'm on the fence about ordering some bits from both of them!

Stila 'One Step Correct' Primer Review

My skin does not like primers.
As far as relationships go, they're a match made in hell, the kind of couple that wouldn't look out of place on Jeremy Kyle.
...with one exception.
Sephora's 'tricks of the trade' anti-shine primer was my saviour. My skin's knight in shining armour (and yes, this metaphor's becoming a little odd, I think I may have to drop it now...) - but tragically, impossible to find in the UK (even eBay let me down)! And, ever since, I've been on the hunt for something to fill the primer-sized hole in my heart (well, make up bag).
Seeing as ELF's mineral-infused primer left me more than a little cold earlier this year, I decided to opt for a slightly more complex formula, and Stila's 'one step correct' primer is just that, containing three formulas; one green-based, to minimize redness, one purple, to resurrect dull-looking complexions, and pink, to illuminate the skin.
I'll admit, applying the primer for the first time was a bit of an alien concept; as you can (hopefully!) see from the pictures above, the three components of the formula first come out separately, and it's down to you to swirl them together evenly before applying to your face. Not a huge issue, but not exactly ideal if you're in a bit of a rush.

As for the formula itself?
Whilst I can't deny that the three colour-correcting shades left my skin tone looking a lot more even than I think I've ever seen it, minus foundation, I have to admit, it left my skin a lot oilier than I'd have liked, and I definitely wouldn't have been able to leave the house without a good few coats of face powder - again, not great if you're looking to get ready quick, and it does mean that powder has to be constantly reapplied throughout the day, but honestly, it's almost worth it for the huge improvement in skin tone.
What it's not worth is the £24 price tag, as far as I'm concerned, and it's for that reason that I won't be repurchasing it once this bottle runs out.
Stila 'one step correct' primer is available for £24 from some larger Boots stores, or through the Stila online store, here.

Part of Me [Outfit Post]

Dress: AX Paris
Necklace: Forever 21

When I first started this blog, and started sharing some of my outfits with the Blogosphere, I was in a bit of a style rut, and I had one real goal; to try and get myself out of my comfort zone, fashion-wise, and try out some looks I wouldn't normally, and this dress is a perfect example of that.

I umm-ed and ahh-ed over experimenting with the cut-out trend for a while, but finally decided to take the plunge on my birthday (instagrammed here), and am firmly in love - I do so love it when a risk pays off!

What's the biggest 'fashion risk' you've taken lately? Which trends, if any, are you on the fence about?

Weekly Wants #9

How perfect is this gorgeous nautical number from Wal G at Topshop? I've been toying with the idea of buying it for a week or so now, but seeing as I've sold a couple of items on eBay this week, I think I'll be taking the plunge later today and snagging it before it sells out; besides, then I can definitely justify purchasing the Accessorize friendship bracelet, as it matches it perfectly in my mind. I've also managed to justify nabbing myself one of these gorgeous hard phone cases from Topshop, because a) they're seriously practical for a night out, and b) I'm putting in an order already, it'd be rude not to...Shopaholic, me? Never!

I'm actually quite desperate to get my hands on Alpha-H's 'Liquid Gold' after reading about a thousand glowing reviews all over the Blogosphere - not sure if Beautybay is the best site to buy it through, seeing as QVC has the supersized option has much better value, but it seems like such a huge bottle for a first-time purchase...

Now, don't mind me, I'm just off to go and do some serious damage to my bank balance.
Alpha-H; worth the price tag? And am I the only one who finds any way possible to justify purchases...?
Blogger Template Created by pipdig