10 Best Beauty Buys of 2013 | 2013 Favourites

It's incredible, how much can change in a year, and the beauty industry is no exception; 2013 saw the launch of a new breed of lip butters and stains in the form of Revlon's ColourBurst Lip Butters and Rimmel's Apocalips, another Naked palette (my Naked 3 review and some looks with the palette coming soon!), an explosion of textured nail polishes in the shape of Ciate's 'Chalkboard nails' and Barry M's 'Gelly' offerings, and a saturation of at-home hair dyes, namely L'Oreal's 'Wild Ombres' line and Bleach London's bleach and toner range, and it's been a pretty amazing time to be involved in blogging about the world of beauty, even if all the product releases have made choosing my favourite products for the year even more difficult than usual.

L'Oréal Paris Skin Perfection 3 in 1 Purifying Solution: Up until recently, Bioderma Sensibo H20 was my go-to make up remover, but L'Oréal's offering has quickly blown it out of the water (no pun intended); not only does one cotton pad's worth of the solution remove all traces of foundation and concealer, but simply wiping your eyes gently rids your eyes of eyeliner, mascara and eyeshadow quickly and painlessly - even for those of us with seriously sensitive eyes!
L'Oréal Paris Skin Perfection 3 in 1 Purifying Solution is available for £4.99 (currently on special offer for £3.33) at Boots, here.

Carmex Mint Moisturising Lip Balm: Winter is the worst time of year for my lips; they so often get dry, and applying lipstick can be a bit of a nightmare, but Carmex's lip balms are my absolute saviour (so much so that I have several around my home, just in case I can't find one). There are several different scents, but the mint version is my favourite, as it leaves your lips tingling, and I feel they look slightly plumper, as a result.
Carmex Mint Moisturising Lip Balm is available for £2.69 from Boots, here.

 La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo: This is one of the products I credit to clearing up my 'problem skin' (full review here); it's a little pricey, but mine has lasted well over a year, and it really is a 'holy grail' product.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo is available for £13 from Boots, here.

Maybelline 'Fit Me' Concealer: My absolute favourite concealer; medium-to-full coverage, and in a vast variety of shades (perfect for even my pale complexion). You can also buy matching foundation, face powder, and blusher to suit your complexion, once you know which shade is best matched to your skin tone, within the 'Fit Me' range. The full review, featuring both the concealer and foundation, is here.
Maybelline 'Fit Me' Concealer is available from Boots for £5.99, here.

The Body Shop 'Matte It' Primer: I have very dry skin, naturally, and winter does not help, which means I often have to overload on moisturiser just to keep it healthy. However, heavy moisturisers and foundation often don't mix well, and can leave my skin a little...shiny. I've tried various face powders to combat this, but nothing worked - until I stumbled across a review of The Body Shop's 'Matte It' primer, and I haven't looked back. It's incredibly light, but there's an immediately visible reaction on your skin as soon as you apply it; one which stays in place all day, so that I rarely even need face powder, any more, making my make up look far more natural.
The Body Shop 'Matte It' Primer is available from The Body Shop for £12, here.

Real Techniques Buffing & Contour Brushes: Although these two brushes are only available as part of the Real Techniques Core Collection, it's a completely worthwhile investment, as far as I'm concerned. The buffing brush is an incredible tool for creating a flawless base, without a cakey effect, and the contour brush blends both bronzer and highlighter seamlessly. The other two brushes in the set are pretty handy, don't get me wrong, but these are the stand-alone highlights, as far as I'm concerned.
The Real Techniques Core Collection is available for £21.99 from Boots, here.

Barry M 'Royal Glitter' Nail Paint in 'Lady': Hands down, my favourite nail polish of the year. The swatches (and full review) are here, but in summary, it's a snowy, glittery white, with a gorgeous frosted texture, and it's absolutely stunning.
Barry M's Royal Glitter collection is available here, with each paint retailing at £3.99.

Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette:  My favourite of the Naked palettes, so far; it's far easier to travel with than the other, larger, palettes, and comes in shades that work on both pale, and darker, skintones. It's also a cheaper alternative to the full-sized palettes, if you're worried about making the full investment for a larger palette. My full review is here.
Urban Decay's Naked Basics palette is available from Debenhams and House of Fraser stores, as well as House of Fraser online, here, for £20.

Rimmel London ScandalEyes Micro Eyeliner: I've seen a lot of mixed reviews on the two ScandalEyes eyeliners, and whilst I have no experience of the 'Thick and Thin' liner, the Precision Micro liner is one of my favourite eyeliners, ever. With an ultra-fine tip, it's great for maneuvering and creating winged lines, as well as creating more subtle looks. It will dry out faster when stored somewhere too warm, but then, most good eyeliners would. I have had no issues with smudging or rubbing, even on a night out, and the price point is pretty impressive, too.
Rimmel London ScandalEyes Micro Eyeliner is available from Boots, here, for £3.49.

Rimmel London Moisture Renew Lipstick in 'Coral Britannia': Anyone who's been following my blog for a while will know I have been in constant search of a good coral lipstick (finding one when you're as pale as I am is no easy feat), and I finally found one in the latest additions to the 'Moisture Renew' line, which were already my favourite formula of lipsticks. My full review is here, but the bottom line is that the Moisture Renew lipsticks are rich, creamy, long-lasting, and pretty vibrant, to boot, and this shade is absolutely gorgeous.
Rimmel London Moisture Renew Lipstick is available from Boots for £6.49 (but is currently on offer for £4.49), here.
Can you believe 2013 is almost over? Personally, this year seemed to fly by, for me - and although there were some incredible highlights, I'm definitely ready for 2014.
What are your must-have products of 2013? 
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Red Pepper and Risotto | Low-Calorie Recipe

Personally, I don't think there's much better to come home to on a cold, dreary evening than the promise of a warm comfort meal, and for me, the cheesy, creamy prospect of an incredibly filling risotto fits the bill perfectly. Unfortunately, some of the more 'traditional' recipes that have been floating around my family for decades are a little too rich, to enjoy often, so, as per usual, I took it upon myself to find a lighter alternative that I could enjoy as often as possible.
Risotto isn't a dish I'd recommend for any impatient cooks, and it's the kind of meal you really have to take some time to get right, but that's one of the reasons I think I enjoy making it so much - although most of the time when I'm at university or working, I'm a bit of a convenience cook with pretty plain tastes (I'm quite happy to live on vegetable couscous most of the time), I love being able to take my time over a dish, too, and this is definitely one of those meals.
As far as risottos go, this one's pretty simple, actually, and leaves lots of room for variation; it all starts with some vegetable stock (I make mine from cubes, but you're more than welcome to put me to shame and use fresh!), some diced pepper and onion, and a couple of servings of Arborio rice (please, please, please don't try this with regular rice; it might be perfectly edible, but it's certainly not going to be enjoyable).
Cook the pepper and onion (as well as any other veg you feel like throwing into the mix) through - I like to add a dash of chilli and paprika to give the vegetables a bit of warmth, and the fact that it gives the pepper such a gorgeous colour certainly helps. Add the Arborio rice, and remember: this is the easy bit, so enjoy it while it lasts.
Because soon enough, you're ready for the stirring. Now, there are a number of techniques for adding your stock to the rice, but I always abide by the same rule - adding a cup of the stock at a time, and allowing the rice to absorb the entire amount before even thinking about adding another. This particular method is a bit of a commitment - it certainly takes longer than a few other recipes I've seen, but it's probably the only reason my risotto somehow manages to come out edible every time, so I stick to it! This stage can take anywhere between 20-40 minutes, depending on how you like the texture of your risotto, but I like mine fairly al dente and it generally takes me about half an hour of constant stirring, pouring and tasting to get it to a standard I'm happy with; once you've done this, it's a simple case of adding your cheese of choice, and you're good to go!
Perfect risotto, every time.
Low-Calorie Red Pepper Risotto (Serves 2):
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 150g Arborio rice
  • 1L vegetable stock
  • 80g cheese (I use Weightwatchers' low-fat cheddar, but any good 'melting' cheese should work)
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp salt (I use low-sodium salt, but you're free to omit this!)
Have your stock simmering gently on the stove before you do anything else - it's vital that it stays as warm as possible whilst you're preparing the other ingredients!
  1. Lightly oil a large pan (I use Fry Light 'better than butter' 1 cal spray, about 10 spritzes should do); whilst waiting for the oil to heat in the pan, coarsely dice both the bell pepper and onion. Throw them both into the hot oil alongside the paprika, chilli and salt, and allow them to cook through slightly - about 4 minutes should be fine.
  2. Add the Arborio rice to the sizzling pepper and onion mix, thoroughly combining them over the heat for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Using a measuring cup (a small mug will suffice if you don't have one), pour a cupful of the vegetable stock into the Arborio and vegetable mixture, so that it's just covered by the liquid. Stir until the water is nearly completely absorbed, then add a second cup of broth. Repeat this process until the rice is cooked through, which should take about 30 - 40 minutes. You may not use all of the stock, so don't panic!
  4. When you're happy with the rice's texture, remove it from the heat and stir in your cheese, mixing continuously until it melts entirely into the risotto, then dish up ASAP - it's best steaming hot!
Calories: 394 per portion.
Don't forget to let me know if you try out the recipe!
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Tan Cut Out Ankle Boots | New In

Winter's coming; whilst the odd scattering of sunshine occasionally peaks through the clouds (in Kent, at least), there's just no avoiding the fact that it's slowly becoming colder, the days are becoming greyer, the nights darker.
Personally, I couldn't be happier with the onset of the colder months; despite being a July baby, I've always preferred being wrapped up in a scarf, wandering around under Oxford Street's Christmas lights, or snuggling up under a blanket with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate.
Whilst normally, at this time of year, I'd have started a list for all my Christmas shopping (only 13 weekends left to shop for your loved ones!), the promise of student finance next week meant a recent trip to New Look left me giving in, shamelessly, to the temptation of one of my biggest weaknesses; new shoes.
Don't get me wrong; these boots are wildly impractical; the heel won't do for icy streets (or the cobbled ones in Canterbury, really), and once we reach a cold snap in October or November, I don't doubt I'll freeze in these, due to the cut-outs…but honestly, all my intentions of buying myself some sensible footwear evaporated the second I laid eyes on these.
And, at £24.99 (not including student discount, for anyone else who's making the most of their NUS card before they lose the luxury for good!), who can blame me for being totally suckered in?
The Cut Out Panel Buckle Boots are currently on sale for £22.49, and are available in both tan and black, from New Look stores, or on their website, here.
What's your most recent 'impractical buy'?

Current Obsessions | Joules Duvets

As anyone who knows me (and/or follows me on Instagram) knows, I have a pretty severe obsession with homeware and interior design; I'm the girl who buys Elle Decoration, makes mood boards, and watches all the blogger 'room tours' on YouTube...despite the fact that, being a full-time student, I don't actually have a permanent residence, yet.
Naturally, this means I have to channel my obsession into more accessible options, and aside from hoarding candles/tealight holders, my biggest homeware obsession has to be duvets.

Right now, I'm actually a little torn between which of these four gorgeous offerings from the Joules range of duvet covers to add to my collection - I've always had white floral duvets, for as long as I can remember, so I'm leaning slightly toward the more vibrant aqua options, but beyond that, I really can't decide (which means I'll probably cave and order both). Fingers crossed I reach a decision soon, though - my university bedroom is in need of a serious makeover!
Joules' duvet covers range between £40-£55, and can be found on their website, here.
Are you a fan of homeware/interiors?
Or am I the only one who finds the prospect this exciting?
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Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate | Product Review

I've made no real secret of the fact that, for the past few years, I've been struggling with 'problem skin' (you can see the entire archive on my skincare here); however, as I mentioned recently (here), my skin's been on the up for a while, and I've found myself having to deal with an entirely new problem - scarring. Having read what felt like a thousand reviews for various overnight treatments, I found myself torn between Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate, and Estée Lauder's Advanced Night Repair Recovery Complex; naturally, the decision came down to price, and I finally took the plunge and ordered myself the Midnight Recovery Concentrate a few months ago.
Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate comes in a gorgeous midnight blue glass bottle (and that is what you call taking a concept and running with it!), and has a drop/pipette applicator, which means you don't end up wasting any of that precious liquid. The scent is vaguely herbal, but not particularly noticeable, and the liquid itself is a dry oil (think the scented oils you'd use in a diffuser), so your skin isn't left with that horrid greasy residue that a lot of overnight serums leave behind.
As for the effects? It's been a month, and the scarring has gone down, noticeably so - so much so that I now actually feel comfortable leaving the house without any skin make up on (unheard of, for me, from the age of about 13). I'll probably have to make my peace with the fact that I'll never have 'glowing' skin, but this product has been a miracle-worker for evening out my skin tone, and getting me my confidence back.
Would I recommend? Obviously, the high price point seems a little off-putting, but honestly, whilst I can't speak for everyone else, I know that the amount of 'drug store' alternatives I've tried for this very problem probably amounts to much more money, over the years - and I honestly believe this product is worth every penny. My skin is smooth, much more even, and feels healthier; no longer as dry as my many treatments and lotions have made it, over the years. I'd really suggest anyone with similar problems invests.
Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate has an RRP of £36, and can be bought from Liberty, John Lewis, or Kiehl's stores, as well as Kiehl's online store, here, or for the slightly discounted price of £32.95 from Fragrance Direct, here.
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The (Freezable!) Chocolate Chip Cookie | Baking Basics

In case you couldn't tell from my growing list of recipes, I love to experiment in the kitchen; baking, cooking, making cupcakes to order, dishing out homemade Christmas gifts, I'm all for trying new things - but I think it's pretty important to have the basics down, too. Few things are as soothing as a fresh chocolate chip cookie, straight from the oven, warm and just-soft-enough in the middle. They're the first thing I think of when my friends are looking for a bit of comfort food and sympathy, and with this recipe, you can make yourself a huge batch, and keep a few in your freezer, ready to be baked (or microwaved!), for any little 'comfort emergencies' (break-ups, bust-ups and over-emotional stess-isodes) that might spring up.
Any recipe that starts with taking a bar (or two!) of chocolate and breaking it into pretty huge chunks with a knife (carefully, though!) is going to be a good one. And the creaming of butter and sugar together doesn't exactly make it unappealing, either.
Cookie dough is pretty much one of my favourite things in the world; in fact, if you leave out the egg in this recipe, you can quite easily just munch on this with a few girlfriends, whenever you need one of those 'lets just pretend calories don't exist' evenings.
If you're not feeling quite that trashy (not that I'm knocking it, trashy's fun, every once in a while), you simply have to scoop the dough onto a lined baking sheet, and then either whip up a batch by throwing them in the oven for 10 minutes, or place them, still on the baking tray, into the freezer for about an hour - just until they're frozen enough that you can remove them all from the baking tray and transfer them to a food bag without them sticking together - then, next time you get a craving, you can bake fresh cookies, one at a time - perfect for if you just want a quick sweet treat, without having to make the whole batch!
The dough will keep in the freezer for about three weeks, and can be microwaved for about 2 minutes.
Chocolate Chip Cookies:
Makes 24 small cookies.

  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 350g light brown sugar
  • 400g flour (all-purpose)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 225g dark chocolate
  1. Preheat the oven to 170° (gas mark 3); chop the chocolate bar into large chunks, and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  2. Combine the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl, mixing thoroughly so everything's evenly distributed.
  3. Separately, cream together the butter and sugar, being careful not to overmix (this will make your cookies spread & go flat) - about 2 minutes by hand should do it; add the eggs to this mixture, one at a time, and the vanilla.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture, stirring until it's just combined. Then add the chopped chocolate, mixing just enough that the chunks are evenly distributed through the mix. 
  5. Use an ice cream scoop to get consistently even cookies, scooping 6 cookies about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet at a time; cook the cookies in batches, placing each newly filled tray into the middle of the oven for 10 minutes. 
  6. If freezing the cookies, place the filled baking sheet into the freezer, and allow to set for about an hour; then remove the dough balls from the sheet and place into a food bag, back in the freezer, for up to 3 weeks.
What do you consider to be your 'baking basics'?
When was your last 'emergency comfort food' situation?
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Macaroni Cheese | Recipe

Despite having what has been referred to, on many occasions, as a 'very Italian' name, I've always identified with my Greek heritage more than anything else, in all but one area; food.
Sundays, when I was a child, would revolve around my father, waking late on his one day off of the week, sorting through cupboards, delving into the back of the fridge, scraping together the leftover vegetables and whipping up a lasagne, or delving out the week's leftover cheese and weaving out a seemingly-elaborate risotto as an early dinner. Paired with the fact that, for most of my teenage years, I was a strict vegetarian, not something that agrees well with the traditional Greek cooking that I might've learned from my mother's family, it's no wonder that, when I first began developing an interest in cooking - for myself and friends - Italian cuisine was what I gravitated to, and it's always where I end up settling, when I'm in need of a little...comfort. 
There's a lot of debate, among (mostly Italian) foodies as to whether Mac 'n' Cheese is actually Italian, at all, but there are various members of my (estranged) family who might just hunt me down and throttle me for daring to suggest it's not based on a traditional version of Carbonara - so I'm going to leave well alone. In the interest of full disclosure, though, I have altered the original recipe, out of both practicality (the Fontina cheese my family claims to be 'vital' isn't sold everywhere), and taste (I found the full-fat cream in my original far too rich, and instead opted for an idea Nigella Lawson suggested, in her version; evaporated milk). Come to think of it, she also uses Red Leicester cheese - so much for my 'traditional roots'!
It's hardly a waistline-friendly meal, so I haven't ever bothered to calculate the nutritional information (I firmly believe the odd 'cheat meal' is good for the soul), but I am working on a healthy option, which I'll (hopefully!) be sharing in the next month or so.
Macaroni Cheese: (Including some adaptations from Nigella Lawson's version, here).
Makes 6 servings.
  • 250g macaroni pasta (I use white, just because it's easier to buy, but you're welcome to try wholegrain).
  • 2 medium eggs. 
  • 200g Red Leicester cheese, grated.
  • 200g mature cheddar cheese, grated.
  • 250ml evaporated milk (you can use cream, if you prefer a richer taste).
  • 3/4 tsp powdered nutmeg.
  •  1/2 tsp salt.
  1. Preheat your oven to gas mark 8, and prepare the macaroni; there should be instructions on your pack, but generally, you want to boil it in lightly salted (we're talking a teaspoon) water for about 12 minutes to get a nice al-dente pasta. It'll soften slightly in the oven, so just be aware.
  2. In the meantime, whisk together your two types of cheese, making sure they're fairly evenly mixed. I'd recommend doing this manually, with a balloon whisk, as it ensures the cheese is relatively coarse.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until they're just combined, then add the evaporated milk, whisking until it's just incorporated. Throw in your nutmeg and salt.
  4. Add half the egg mixture to your cheese, pouring it over the top slowly, and mixing well. When it's incorporated, add the remaining liquid mix.
  5. Once the macaroni's cooked, take about two tablespoons' worth of the water it was boiling in, and pour it straight into the cheese mix. Then, drain the macaroni and combine that, too.
  6. Pour the macaroni cheese mixture into a pyrex dish (mine's about 33cm x 24cm), and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the top starts to brown slightly.
I have to apologise for the rubbish pictures accompanying this post, but I wasn't really sure I'd bother to share the recipe until I posted on Instagram and there was some interest in it - sorry!
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The University Checklist, Revised (What to Take to University) | Freshers' Fix

A lot of us have been there: the coursework, the mock exams, the last-minute cramming sessions - studying for your A-Levels is intense, at best, and completely maddening, at worst. Add to that the pressure of writing personal statements, calculating your UCAS points, and getting your application in just after your AS exams, and it can feel like the two years between 16-18 pass by in a bit of a blur, like you barely have any time to stop and think, at all.
And then, when the exams are finally over, done, out of the way, there's the waiting - first choice university, second? Clearing? It's not until that's all done with that you can even start thinking about the fact that you're actually leaving home, and that's when, in my case, at least, the frantic Google-ing started; I must have typed in at least ten variations of the phrase 'things to take to university' and 'university packing list', before realising there just wasn't very much out there, in the way of practical, budget-friendly lists for Freshers about to head to university...so I made my own (you can read the original post here).
If you just want the list, you can download it here (or by clicking the PDF file, above), but in this updated version of my original post, I'm going to include some of the products I recommend, below.
I firmly believe that making your university bedroom as personal, and comfortable, as possible is one of the most important factors in making the transition from university to home easier, and because of this, most of the items I'd recommend are 'home comforts' - pictures, trinkets, that kind of thing.
  • Alarm clock (although, personally, I prefer the 'Sleep Cycle' app for iPhone, here, which makes waking up much less painful).
  • 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 £7.99 and they're pretty good quality - I have this one and it's lasted me well into my third year!
  • 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! I wouldn't recommend leaving this until you get to university, as they're always pretty much sold out for the first few months. eBay has a great selection, here, or BHS/Wilkinsons always have plenty.
  • 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. I'd recommend packing some good burn cream and anti-septic wipes, too, but Boots has a great range of pre-made packs, here, if you're unsure.
  • Hangers
  • Hot water bottle (although, personally, I've come to have a much better relationship with my electric blanket - Tesco Direct has the best selection, here, and you can get it delivered to your local store - or the one nearest your new university, for when you do your first shop!)
  • 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...they also come in very handy for customising your own t-shirt on bar crawls etc.
  • Sleeping bag - in case you have friends visiting.
  • Storage boxes - mine are the stackable variety from Tesco Direct, for moving (here), and linen storage boxes with lids from Ikea (there are similar ones here) to keep on display.
  • Wall calendar - although a lot of universities give them out.
  • Waste bin - again, sometimes these are provided.
  • Weekend bag - for those trips home/to visit friends! Besides, did you really need an excuse to buy this gorgeous creation?
  • 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.
I stuck with self-catered accommodation when I headed off to Kent for the first time, as I couldn't bare the thought of not being able to cook for myself, but feel free to ignore all the cooking utensils included, if you're going to be paying for breakfast & dinner.
  • Baking tray(s) - I'd recommend at least 2, in case you find yourself cooking for others. BHS actually have a great roasting set on sale for £9.99, here.
  • 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! Ikea's are only 85p (here), so may be worth picking up, just in case.
  • Dishware - bowls, side plates, dinner plates, glasses and mugs - you probably don't need a full set of four, depending on how often you plan on having your family visit, but I'd recommend about 2 of each, in case you break one! Whittard have the best selection, here, and always have offers on.
  • Cutlery - Get a set of four, they will go missing! Ikea sells 16 pieces for £1.20, here!
  • Can opener
  • Colander
  • Flask - for early morning lectures - personally, I've got my eye on this gorgeous one, from Starbucks.
  • Cake tin - if you're into baking, this'll come in handy come your flatmates' birthdays, but in my experience, having a few treats around to offer people never hurts.
  • Frying pan  - I prefer a smaller, personal-sized one, like this Tefal one from Argos, but there are cheaper alternatives, like this set of two, also from Argos.
  • Saucepan - again, I'd stick to Argos for this stuff - I have this set, and it's all lasted me very well.
  • 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, and John Lewis has some great choices (here).
  • 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!
I managed to nab one of the few en-suite accommodation options my university offers, so what you'll need really depends on your personal circumstances; I've tried to include as much as I could think of, though.
  • 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. I swear by the BHS range, here.
  • Flannels, two.
  • Body lotion
  • Cosmetics
  • Cotton wool pads
  • Deoderant
  • Exfoliators
  • Face wash 
  • Face wipes
  • Moisturiser
  • Razor & blades - do yourself a favour, and buy the largest possible pack of blades for your razor - you'll thank yourself, once the budgeting kicks in!
  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Toothbrush & paste
Stationary shops in and around campus tend to sell out of the basics pretty quickly, once everyone's over their Freshers' Flu, so do yourself a favour and stock up on the necessities before you leave.
  • Academic diary - you're not going to be constantly reminded of your deadlines, so it's best to make a note of everything. Personally, I think the 'DodoPad' range are the best available, here.
  • Cellotape
  • Desk tidy
  • Folder(s) - I use one of these giant Paperchase ones per term, for organisation.
  • Highlighters - do yourself a favour, and get the printer-safe variety, here.
  • 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 (or several).
  • 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.
I really hope this revised list helps anyone who's heading off to university this year; make the most of your year as a Fresher, because there's nothing else like it! Meet as many people as you can, try out as many societies and classes as sound interesting to you, and try not to worry about all the studying - it feels overwhelming, at first, I know, but it's not as bad as it sounds!
To everyone who's heading to university; what are you most excited about?
And to everyone who's already been, what would be your top tip for new Freshers?
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Mikas Pond Stacy Wallet by Kate Spade | New In

I think every girl I know is guilty of a fashion 'obsession'; shoes, scarves, rings...I even have one friend who collects various styles and shades of tights(!), and keeps them all lined up in a special drawer. Personally, though, my biggest love has to be handbags. Barely a month goes by where I haven't splurged on some new style or other that I just have to have. 
Because of this, I guess always came as a bit of a surprise to my friends when I reached into whatever gorgeous new piece of arm candy I was carrying that week, and plucked out the same, old, tattered River Island purse I'd been dragging around since I was 15. 
Luckily, though, I just had a pretty big birthday, and decided this was the best time to get a stylish upgrade to a slightly swankier wallet. After what felt like months of indecision (Miu Miu? Marc Jacobs? Mulberry?), I eventually settled on one of my favourite designers' offerings - Kate Spade's 'Mika's Pond' Stacy wallet, in 'Fresh Air' (or, as I prefer to refer to it, 'Tiffany-box-blue').
Like most students I know, I rarely carry cash around with me, and rely instead on debit cards, student cards, and loyalty cards to get me through my serious shopping addiction, so the 12 card slots that the Stacy wallet offers is pretty much ideal - and, being a part time Londoner, the ID compartment is perfect for Oyster card storage, so I don't have to fumble around in my bag when I'm about to hop on the bus or tube.
It's probably too soon to call it, but honestly, I think it might be love.

The 'Mikas Pond' Stacy wallet is available in the UK, for an RRP of £80, from Kate Spade stores (store locator here), or you can browse the selection online, here.
What's your most overlooked accessory?
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Malin + Goetz Acne Treatment | Product Review

When my 'problem skin' was at its worst, spot reduction treatments did nothing to help; having what feels like more imperfections than actual clear skin means that applying treatments to specific areas is just time-consuming and, more often than not, expensive.
Now, though, with my skin being in what might be its best condition ever (more on that in an upcoming post...!), treatments aimed at reducing nasty imperfections as they appear are vital, and I found myself on the hunt for something that could quickly and painlessly reduce nasty hormonal problems as quickly as possible.

After reading through what felt like a thousand reviews for spot reduction treatments with no real luck, I stumbled across a rave review of Malin + Goetz's acne treatment, and was instantly intrigued by the unusual application process; unlike most treatments, you don't shake the bottle before use, but instead use a cotton bud to bypass the clear alcohol solution at the top of the bottle, and apply the white, sulfur-based mixture that's settled at the bottom of the bottle to the offending imperfection. It leaves a fairly hideous white residue on the areas it's applied to, overnight, which then has to be rinsed off in the morning, so it's not always ideal if you're sharing a bathroom, but it doesn't leave your skin feeling dry or stinging after treatment, either.
Overall, I have to say I am hugely impressed with this offering from Malin + Goetz; although the price does initially seem a little steep, for such a small product, it's lasted me well over 8 months (although I only really use it for 'emergencies'), and it's a complete miracle-worker for getting those angry, red, or painful problem areas to reduce in size overnight - and without the dry, flaky, skin most spot treatments leave behind. Plus, if the solution ever dries out, just pouring a small amount of alcohol into the bottle soon refreshes it!

Would I recommend it? Definitely; for anyone who has uncommon, or hormonal spots, or has a habit of getting one or two huge imperfections once in a while. Not, however, if you suffer from more general 'bad skin' - although I do have a post coming up for those of you that applies to, in the next couple of weeks.
Malin + Goetz Acne Treatment retails for £16.50, and is available from Space NK stores, or on their website, here.
What's your favourite fast-acting treatment for pesky imperfections?
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