Saturday, 6 December 2014

LIFESTYLE: CHRISTMAS MARKETS AND CHOCOLATE SPREE














Christmas Markets are one of my favourite parts of the festive season, and each year me and my boyfriend take a trip to the Manchester Markets for chocolatey food and hot drinks. This morning we took a trip to The Lowry, an outlet mall near Manchester to do some shopping and check out the Victorian markets that had been set up for the past week. I didn't actually end up buying anything, but took advantage of the area to take some outfit pictures! While wandering around the Victorian fair, I came across a handmade bath product company - Flicker and Fizz. I'm a huge fan of Lush, so I just had to have a good look. There was a super cute "pick and mix" bath bomb selection, and a range of bath bombs made to smell like some popular perfumes! I saw one made of my mum's favourite scent and just had to get her some for Christmas. Aside from bathbombs, they had lots of different bath products and I wish I'd picked up a few more things. Flicker and Fizz also have a website where you can order online too, so definitely check it out! The ladies who worked at the stall were also so lovely and said they'd be checking amyjanealice out - so hi if you're reading!

Once we'd finished at the Lowry, we drove into Manchester. I didn't end up buying anything in Manchester too; the crowds were ridicuolous! We had a walk around the Christmas markets are indulged in some chocolate waffles and pancakes. It was all a little crazy busy there too so we didn't spend too much time there. After attending the Manchester Arndale After Dark event, I won an £100 spending spree at Hotel Chocolat so I was so excited to get into the store and pick out some treats. Aside from gifts for Christmas for other people, I of course had to get some chocolate for myself too. White chocolate is my favourite so I made sure to stock up on plenty of that, and I also picked up a Dipping Chocolate set where you can melt some chocolate and dip in the little nibbles such as marshmallows and breadsticks. I'm thinking of using that set with my family on Christmas Eve!

It was a bit of a busy and rushed day, but I love spending time with my boyfriend regardless of what we do. What do you think of me including more lifestyle posts like this? I recently invested in a new camera and have been loving experimenting and taking pictures of everything, so I hope this isn't too picture heavy!









Thursday, 4 December 2014

BEAUTY: SPECTRUM BRUSHES FOUR PIECE CONTOURING FACE SET



I'm sure as most of you do too, I have a huge thing for makeup brushes. I've got that many that some of them don't even see the light of day. In fact, in the next week or so I'm going to switch my brushes round and change the ones in my everyday makeup bag so that I'm getting my use out of them all. This however, didn't stop me buying more brushes... After asking you all in a #bbloggers Twitter chat what your favourite brushes are, one brand that I hadn't heard of before popped up a couple of times in my notifications: Spectrum. As soon as I opened up their web page, their brushes caught my attention. Pink handles with purple and blue bristles? Sounds crazy, but it works. In their Black Friday deals, I managed to snap up the Four Piece Contouring Face Set and a couple of their eye brushes, but there will be a post on those seperately. The brushes arrived in some gorgeous purple plastic zip up bags which I can use again for travelling or for carrying them around in my handbag, and there was also a really lovely personalised note!

Having a very round face means contouring is essential, and it's something I'm really trying to work on. So, a set dedicated to just that sounds perfect for me. Spectrum brushes are all hand finished, vegan and animal friendly. Composed of high quality synthetic hair, the brushes are lovely and soft. The four bruses in the set are: the Flat Top Buffer to achieve an even all over coverage using either cream or powder foundation, the Domed Buffer which creates an airbrushed finish to your skin, the Angled Blush to add depth to your cheekbones and under the jaw and finally the Tulip Powder which you can use for highligher on your brow bone, nose and chin or to contour your cheek bones, hairline and temples. There is a brush for everything you need to create the perfect base, but they're also incredibly versatile meaning you can get creative with your uses for them.

I used the brushes for the first time today and am super impressed!  My favourite has to be the Flat Top Buffer. It buffed my foundation in really quickly and easily, leaving no streaks or patches. The Angled Blush was also perfect for applying a bit of colour to my cheeks. There was slight smell of paint when I opened the bag from the handles of the brushes, but this soon disappeared after being aired for a short while. Before using the brushes, Spectrum advise that you wash the brushes. I found that they washed really well and still stayed nice and soft. There was no fallout either which I was very glad about.

The set is still currently on offer at £24.99, which is just over £6 per brush. I'd advise you get hold of it as soon as possible; I can't see it sticking at that price for very long! Aside from their primary use, applying makeup of course, the brushes will also be a great addition to your makeup brush collection due to their style too.

LIFESTYLE: THE CHRISTMAS TAG





1. What is your favourite Christmas Movie?

This is such a hard question. One of my favourite things to do during this time of year is to snuggle up on the sofa with a hot drink and watch a Christmas film (or three). Of course there are the obvious ones like The Grinch (which I can pretty much quote word for word), Elf, The Santa Clause, Love Actually etc, but I think my absolute favourite has to be The Polar Express. There's just something about it that makes me feel all warm and festive, and even makes me shed a tear or two!

2. Do you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?

I open the majority of my presents on Christmas morning, but there's been a little tradition in my family where my mum and dad give me and my sister one small present to open on Christmas Eve. It's almost always a pair of festive pyjamas. I remember when we were younger we'd both have a bath and our parents would tell us to keep our bath robes on until we'd opened our presents, though we never clocked on it's because they were pyjamas until it happened a few years in a row!

3. Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?

Each year we decorate the house after my dad bringing home the real Christmas tree to "The Christmas Album". It is a bit of a tradition now, but I have some lovely memories of spending time with my family while belting out the Christmas classics. Another Rule family tradition that was kind of expected by family members when they came round for Christmas dinner were the quizzes. My dad is a huge quiz fan, and has appeared on a few TV quizzes himself, so on Christmas day after dinner we would all sit in the living room and play different kinds of quizzes in teams. We don't really do that as often now, but it always brings a smile to my face when I think about it. A more recent memory that still makes me well up was from last Christmas. Usually my boyfriend begs me to tell him exactly what presents I want but last year I decided no, he can come up with a few surprises. Well surprise me he did! He had managed to buy things I actually loved, wanted and had mentioned to him in the past (so he does listen!). I ended up crying over his genorosity and the fact that he really does know me better than anyone.

4. Favourite festive food?

It's not so much a 'festive' food but I love the soup and buttery bread rolls I have as a starter during Christmas dinner. There's also the pork, apple sauce and stuffing muffins I get from the Manchester Christmas Markets! Oh and I can't forget the brandy snaps, also from the Christmas Markets.

5. Favourite Christmas gift?

A Playstation 2 with The Sims. 100%. I can distinctively remember ripping open the wrapping paper with my sister (it was a joint present) and squealing and running around giving hugs and kisses to everyone. I'm sure my mum and dad had to drag me off the PS2 to get ready for our family coming round...

6. Favourite Christmas scent?

It has to be my mum's homemade Christmas cakes which fill the house with the smell of fruit, brandy and homemade baking. We also have lots of Yankee Candles dotted around the house. Whereas I love the sweeter smells, my mum prefers quite woody and fruity fragrances, so I associate Christmas with a mix of smells. But, the smell of a real Christmas tree (a Christmas requirement in my house) is just the best.

7. Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?

Aside from the pyjama tradition I mentioned before, this year will be my fourth Christmas that I have been with my boyfriend George. Though we don't have Christmas dinner together, he always picks me up from work and comes round for a few hours on Christmas Eve to exchange presents and just relax together, before coming round to stay over on Christmas Day evening to get an early night ready to hit the shops early on Boxing Day before seeing family! 

8. What tops your tree?

Over the years we've had various homemade angels, made by either me or my sister in school. Some of them have been quite scary really... but now we have a more tasteful angel that my mum chose.

9. As a kid what was the one (crazy, wild, extravagant) gift you always asked for but never received?

I always asked for a horse. Like my parents would be able to wrap that up under a tree... Now I ask for a more up to date method of transport: a car.

10. What’s the best part about Christmas for you?

I love being able to relax, eating food and binge watching Christmas TV with my family. There's just something about Christmas that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside; the Christmas music, the decorations, the cold nights while you're tucked up warm inside. It's definitely my favourite time of year. 

Sunday, 30 November 2014

MANCHESTER ARNDALE AFTER DARK: THE EVENT

If you read my previous post, you'll know all about the Manchester Arndale's latest event, After Dark. The actual event took place on Thursday night and it was amazing. Each blogger who attended the event had been given a retailer, from where they would buy a Christmas party outfit. Mine was River Island and I was spoilt for choice! From silver metallic midi skirts to gold glittery dresses, there was so much to choose from. The outfits couldn't be revealed until the night itself so it was so great to see all the girls in their glitzy partywear. Victoria from In The Frow also attended the event and was a judge in choosing the top 10 party looks; it was lovely to meet her after reading her blog and watching her videos for so long.






RIVER ISLAND OUTFIT: Embellished top (in store) / High waisted leather look pencil skirt / Chain belt (sold out in black) / Gold cuff / Gold earrings

 Image - Manchester Arndale

Image - Manchester Arndale

After arriving at the venue and being handed a lovely glass of prosecco, we were able to mingle and get to know one another. There were both new and familiar faces at the event, and it was good to meet other northern bloggers. Once everyone had arrived, we made our way to the hair and makeup artists for a mini makeover. I loved having the opportunity to have my hair styled differently than I would do myself. After the makeovers we changed into our outfits. I had chosen something I wouldn't even try on usually, so I was really excited to put it together with my accessories and heels and see what it looked like! 

Dom, of Dom & Ink, was illustrating us bloggers throughout the night, and having worked with Dom for a few years now I know how amazing his work is and couldn't wait to get in line to get mine done. We even got to take them home with us after them being displayed during the night, so mine is definitely getting framed! Dom's illustrations really are one of a kind, and he's also a published author. Check out my review of his first book here, and keep an eye out for his second book set to be released next year!

At the end of the night, all of the bloggers gathered together to take some group and individual shots which would be used to judge the best looks, and I love how they turned out! The judges chose the top 10 looks from the night and even though unfortunately I wasn't chosen, I'm not surprised; there were so many gorgeous outfits to choose from! However, by voting for your favourite outfit, you can win £100 to spend in the Ardnale! Just click here to have a look at all their outfits in their wonderful glory, and to vote for your favourite.

This event was so different than any I've been to before and I had an amazing time. It was a great way to meet other bloggers and to get some Christmas partywear inspo! What do you think of my outfit? Is this something you'd wear? Don't forget to vote for your favourite outfit for your chance to win!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

THE PERFECT PARTYWEAR: MANCHESTER ARNDALE AFTER DARK

Manchester Arndale have hosted some amazing events over the past few months and their next one really will not disappoint! I was so excited to receive an invitation to the After Dark event which will take place tonight. 25 bloggers have been selected to attend the event and each of us were allocated a certain store within Manchester Ardnale. I was super excited to receive River Island! Tonight, a panel of judges including Victoria from In The Frow will choose their 10 favourite party outfits which will then be displayed in the shopping centre. The public then get the chance to win their favourite outfit by voting for it!


Last week I headed to River Island armed with a gift card that Manchester Arndale had so kindly given us to choose my perfect party outfit. One of the lovely members of staff helped me pick out lots of different pieces, from skirts, to trousers, to shirts, to crop tops to dresses. I tried plenty of different outfits on, and after a lot of uhming and ahhing and exchanging, I finally settled on my perfect party outfit. I'm so excited to wear it tonight. It's something quite different than I'd usually wear but I thought, what better time to try something new than for a Christmas partywear event? The outfit won't be revealed until tonight, and be sure to check out my post about the event on the 1st of December for more info on how you can win your favourite look from the night!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

STYLE SUNDAY #1: TARTAN, FUR AND TWEED




This tweed coat with a fur collar has been an absolute must have, staple, holy grail, number one, whatever you want to call it piece in my wardrobe this Autumn, and I know it will carry me straight through the colder months into next year too. I think it's so classic and wearable, and keeps me nice and cosy in the miserable Manchester weather. Smock dresses are something I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with smock dresses. At first I wasn't a big fan as I found they made me look quite short and stumpy, but over time I've grown to like them a lot more. Especially since the gorgeous Sophie Belle has been posting lots of OOTD's with smock dresses; she's really made me want to go out and buy loads! This dress was only £10 from Primark, so you can't really complain. 

Aaaah, the Le Pliage, my new favourite belonging. I bought this in early September to use for university after a bit of umming and ahhing, and I am so glad I took the plunge! It's made of nylon with a real leather flap which you fold over the zip and secure in place with a metal popper. Due to the material of the bag, it can look a little floppy if not filled properly, and as it also folds up into a little square for travelling purposes, it does tend to carry creases in it quite often. However, none of these things put me off the bag. I'm in love with it. It's sturdy and strong, goes with everything and really pulls together an outfit. I'm looking at getting it in another colour soon actually!

Thursday, 6 November 2014

PICTURE PERFECT MEMORIES

I've always loved decorating my bedroom with pictures or posters. From rebelling in my younger teenage years by plastering the walls with pages from my favourite Kerrang! and NME magazines to now, sticking photos to the magnetic back of my dressing table. While getting ready in the mornings I love being able to look at the different pictures and remembering that day, or looking at the shot from 'Rita' at Alton Towers and not quite believing yours and your boyfriend's faces could quite look like that... 


PicStick* offer magetic photos in sheets of nine for only £9.50 which you can upload straight from your phone, Dropbox, Facebook or computer which means you don't have to faff around saving them all in one location. Also, they have free delivery! So in all it's just over £1 per photo, who could argue with that? I made nine photos of me and my boyfriend George throughout the years, as it was coming up to our three year anniversary and thought it'd be a nice little collection to treat myself with. These make great gifts too, or maybe you took some great shots on holiday and want to showcase them at home. With Christmas just around the corner, maybe PicStick will be the perfect place for you to sort some presents out. Especially as they're creative, personal and thoughtful too!

Friday, 24 October 2014

MEET THE TRENDS: THE EVENT AND GIVEAWAY

You may have seen my post introducing Meet The Trends and telling you all about my exciting consultation with the three bands I was the blogging ambassador for: Smashbox, Ojon and Bumble & Bumble. If not, don't worry! You can read it here. So, earlier on this month Manchester Arndale hosted Meet The Trends, a catwalk showcasing new season looks from the centre's most popular fashion retailers including Warehouse, New Look, All Saints, G Star and Bank. The main trends shown on the catwalk this weekend were:

The Check List - check prints in monochrome, Houndstooth and tartan patterns
New Vintage - Faux fur, glamour and chic vintage shapes
Berry Blaze - Mulberries, scarley shades and raspberries
Mirror Metallics - Amping up the glitz and glammer for both day and night

It's so hard to choose one favourite trend from over the weekend but I'm a huge sucker for berry shades and monochrome patterns, and who doesn't love a bit of chic vintage?! I loved seeing the different looks put together by the various retailers and I definitely got some A/W fashion inspiration throughout the day!

All Saints


Warehouse
Warehouse
Aside from the catwalk, pop-up beauty stands were also scattered around the area from Smashbox, Ojon, Bumble & Bumble, Paul's Hair World and Supercuts who were offering hair and beauty advice, the opportunity to try out new and iconic products with mini makeovers and even some free goodies to take away with you. Luckily, the Smashbox, Ojon and Bumble & Bumble stand was set up just outside where I work, so after I had finished my morning shift I quickly ran over and the very talented Sophie from Bumble styled my hair with a lovely vintage roll and a bit of volume. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to meet the lovely ladies from the three brands at both the consultation and the main event and I'll definitely be popping in to see them in Boots for a natter and to pick up some of my fave products from them!








As promised in the title, there is a very exciting giveaway, yay! You may have read in my previous post about my consultation, and one of you lucky lot is going to win the same experience I had. The lovely ladies at Ojon, Bumble & Bumble and Smashbox will give you a hair and beauty makeover suited to your taste and style. You will get the opportunity to try out a few of their items, and maybe even find a new holy grail product! I found the whole experience so rewarding as I picked up loads of tips and tricks, which I've been using every day. To win the makeover, here's all the info you need:

1. Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to gain entries.
2. You must be based in the North West or willing to travel if not as the makeover will take place in Boots on Market Street in Manchester.
3. The giveaway will run for two weeks and the winner will be contacted by email. If the winner doesn't reply within two days, another winner will be chosen.
4. All entries will be checked to ensure they are valid and competition pages do not count.
5. Good luck! I honestly had such fun at the makeover. All the staff were super helpful and talented, and really knew their stuff. I wish I could do it all over again!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The event was a huge success; it was really great to see how busy the Arndale was and how much of a buzz the event created around the centre. Thank you to Manchester Arndale and the three brands for asking me to be their Blogger Ambassador and all the exciting opportunities this involved. I can't wait for the centre's next event!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

MEET THE TRENDS: INTRODUCTION AND CONSULTATION

I'm a huge fan of Manchester Arndale events. Just last week there was a city wide student event, the Manchester Student Takeover, as I'm sure you know if you're from the North West. Manchester Arndale was buzzing with activity. From major discounts to DJ's to complimentary gift cards, there was something for everybody. So, when Arndale contacted me telling me all about the upcoming event Meet The Trends I was instantly excited and intrigued!

Manchester Arndale invites the city's shoppers to view Autumn 2014's top fashion looks at Meet The Trends, which takes place tomorrow and Saturday in the city centre at Exchange Court between 12 and 6pm. Every 30 minutes there will be a showcase from a different retailer from the shopping centre along with interactive pop-up beauty stands from Boots No.7, Paul's Hair World, Supercuts, Clinique, Ojon, Smashbox and Bumble & Bumble where visitors can receive hair and beauty advice, mini makeovers and some goodies!

The Manchester Arndale Street Team will also be out and about around the city centre over the two day event hunting stylish shoppers who will receive VIP invites, a special treat AND the chance to sit on the FROW of the catwalks. As if all that wasn't enough, everyone that attends Meet The Trends will be in with a chance of winning £100 on one of the trends. Wow! Simply collect an envelope at each show which will contain a number. The winning number is shown at the end of the show and you can collect your prize from the retailer.

I'm so lucky to have been chosen as the Beauty Brand Ambassador for Smashbox, Bumble & Bumble and Ojon. Eeek! On Tuesday I went to Boots to meet the lovely ladies who work for the brands and was able to try out some of their products in a hair and beauty makeover. My hair was styled in "The Tuck", one of the seasons most fashionable trends from the catwalks. It's something totally different than I would usually go for, but I love it! It was also really interesting to be able to learn all about Bumble & Bumble's different hair products and what the best way to use them is. There's definitely a few things added to my Christmas wishlist...

Smashbox then got to work on my makeup, talking me through what is best for my skin type and colour, what colours I should use to contour, how I should fill in my brows to suit my face shape while answering a few questions I had. I love winged liner, always have, so that a must-have for the look. Though when it came to everything else, the super talented MUA decided what was best and I ended up looking completely different than usual. That day was particularly long, with me going to university for three hours after the consultation and then work for four hours after that and I'm pleased to say my makeup had stayed exactly where it had been applied that morning! I was so pleased and it was my first real experience with Smashbox and now I know I definitely need to add a few of their products to my makeup collection.






I had a natter about all sorts of things with them and tried to collect as much knowledge about hair and makeup as possible, so that *hopefully* I can re-create the look from this day. I'm so excited to attend the actual Meet The Trends event tomorrow and see what amazing things Manchester Arndale have come up with for this event! I hope to see you there.

Monday, 6 October 2014

THE MANCHESTER STUDENT TAKEOVER


Photo credit - Carl Sukonik 






Tuesday night saw a huge student takeover of Manchester's City Centre with exclusive shopping discounts, competitions and entertainment, and I was super excited to go on the press tour of the event (after some much needed retail therapy of course)!

Before the event I met up with Alex and enjoyed a nice frappucino from Starbucks (absolute fave) before heading to Lush to pick up a few goodies. Manchester Arndale very kindly gave us a gift card to use at the event, and so I put mine to good use by purchasing The Sacred Truth face mask and Rock Star soap. Two of the lovely members of staff gave me lots of information about the different types of masks and what would be best for me, and even did a little demo on the back of my hand so I could get a rough idea of what it would be like on my face. The mask made my skin so soft, I couldn't stop rubbing my hands together! Lush also had an offer running, where if you bought any product you would be given a student survival pack consisiting of a couple of products. I received the Carrot soap and a Vanilla Dee-Lite body lotion. The soap isn't something I would usually pick up but I'm looking forward to trying it out as it smells quite sweet, and the body lotion was a real hit with me because I love the smell of vanilla! As if the goody bag wasn't enough, Lush were also giving a raffle ticket to each person that bought something which entitled them to make their own bubble bar. I hadn't done anything like this before and so I was really excited. According to the lady who was running it, I was a real natural. Go me!

Afer we had finished in Lush we met up with Megan and made our way to Topshop. From past experience I know how crazy Topshop can get on student night, so we quickly made our way round, picked up a few bits, didn't bother trying them on and then joined the very long queue. I picked up a two scalloped crop (ish) tops in burgundy and white, a grey slouchy tee and some burgundy scuba material cigarette trousers. Unfortunately the trousers didn't look great on me so I sadly had to return them, but they would be a great piece for Autumn!

Later on in the evening it was time to head to Harvey Nichols for the 'Beat The Buyer' competition. Entrants could dress a model of their choice in any of the pieces on offer from this season. The looks were then photographed and entered into a competition where the winner would receive two tickets to Harvey Nichol's fashion show where their own look would be on the catwalk. It was so interesting to that even though everybody chose from the same selection of pieces, the looks were all different and tailored to the individual's style and taste. The last stop of the night was House of Fraser, where Mille Mackintosh made a personal appearance at the launch of her fashion collection. We were given the chance to have a photograph with her, receive a signed photo and have a quick chat. It would have been nice to have the opportunity to spend some more time with her and maybe ask a few questions about her collection, but there were plenty of other people waiting in line so we only had a couple of minutes.

I had such a great time at the Manchester Student Takeover, just like I always have at Manchester's student shopping events. There was so much going on, from pop up DJ's in the streets, live catwalks in St Ann's square, complimentary beauty treatments in Selfridges and up to 30% student discount in stores around the city centre, it was hard to cram everything into the time I was there! The first city centre wide student takeover was definitely a huge success and I'm already excited for what they will do next.

Manchester Arndale are hosting another event, Meet The Trends, on the 10th and 11th of October so look out for a very exciting post on that coming up next week! Did any of you attend the Manchester Student Takeover? What did you think?