25 February 2013

Fast Diet Update #2

As I have mentioned before in this blog, I am trying to follow the Fast Diet (also known as Intermittent Fasting and 5:2). If you haven't heard of this diet before I explain the basic principles here or find more (professional) info on it here. To tell the truth I haven't been sticking to it very religiously recently and I have probably only done 2 fast days in a month - I should have fasted for a total of 8 days in that period. Surprisingly though I haven't put any of the weight that I had previously lost back on which I am very happy about! But I have been back on it this week and I thought I would share with you what I ate on my fast days this week in the hope that it might help or inspire any of you that also follow this diet. I split my meals into 3 - breakfast, lunch and dinner. I'm always on the go at work so I normally have to buy my lunches out so the choices I make are important. I'm also not too strict on myself, I don't count every single calorie to the digit and I make rough estimates so some days I may be over or under the 500 calorie allowance.

Day 1.
Breakfast: Small bowl of porridge made with water, a splash of soy milk and some blueberries. (aprox 100 kcals)
Lunch: Large bowl of vegetable soup (200 kcals)
Dinner: Corncake with a spread of light philadelphia, 1/2 a tomato and a tangerine (approx 150 kcals)

Day 2.
Breakfast: Banana and Coffee (80-100 kcals)
Lunch: Tuna Nicoise Salad (170 kcals - less if you skip the dressing, I used half)
Dinner: Poached egg on toast, 1 slice of smoked salmon and half a tomato, green tea (approx 250 kcals)

I'm starting to notice that "fast days" are getting easier. My body must be getting used to not having many calories on certain days. In fact, after a heavy weekend of eating and drinking I find I actually look forward to my fast days now. The only downfall to this is that at the beginning my stomach had shrunk and so I was eating less on my "feast days" too. However, my body getting used to this constant fasting followed by feasting means that on my feast days I have no problem stuffing my face. This week the goal is to be ever so slightly more restricted on my feast days too. I have also taken up swimming on the evening of my fast days. I find this keeps me busy so takes my mind off the hunger and apparently it is perfectly fine to exercise on fast days if you have the energy. I'm hoping to lose another 2lbs to add to the 4lbs I have already lost by the end of this week. I will let you know how this goes.

I plan to blog about this again as taking pictures of everything I've eaten has really spurred me on to be inventive with my meals and stick to the calorie limit! Wish me luck for this week.

Isobel x

19 February 2013

One Line a Day, Memory Book

My latest Amazon find is this a five year 'one line a day' memory book. I instantly fell in love with the idea of it whilst browsing through sketchbooks & stationary online. I've never been the type of person who's been able to keep a diary so the idea of summarising my day into an individual sentence is perfect for me. It's going to live on my bedside table, something constructive i.e. not twitter, to add my night-time routine. One line is feasible enough to keep up with (even for me) & I'm looking forward to having a record of memories that might otherwise slip away from me.

I love the layout of the pages, each date is set out on one page & has space below for you to fill in the present year. When it's finished you can see what happened on the same calendar date over the course of five years.

If you're interested in checking out the memory book its currently on sale from Chronicle Books at Amazon for £8 with free UK delivery link! They also stock a 'one sketch a day' visual journal which I love the concept of, but I'm too much of a perfectionist when it comes to drawing to commit to one every evening!

Harriet x

18 February 2013

Fitness Tip, Kettlebells

Up until now my experience with kettlebells has been limited to a few upper body exercises. I've never got to grips with the wealth of exercises you can do with them or trained with someone who uses them for full body strength & conditioning.

As of last week I started working out with a friend who has just set up a Personal Training studio & after feeling a major lull in my workouts & generally being quite unmotivated, in just a week I feel hugely re-energised & can feel my endurance returning. The exercises he has incorporated into my workouts have been a mixture of some I'm already familiar with & some that are completely new. The ones that have made the biggest impression have been the full body kettlebell moves. Kettlebell swings, alternating swings, the kettlebell clean & (the amazing but leg destroying) burpee-deadlift.

In just a week I can notice a big difference in my lower body tone & will definitely be using these moves in the run up to summer! Looking for toned lean legs & a pert bum? Try kettlebells! A lot of gyms will offer a kettlebells workshop or class (something I explicably missed out on during 3 years at Virgin Active) so if you're stuck in a workout rut I'd take full advantage of them!

If you are based in South London & looking to kickstart your fitness regime definitely check out Ed's boutique training studio the Apex Club! The full website will be up & running soon but there's currently a online booking system that you can use to book in your first free session. Ed has a wealth of fitness experience & know-how & has kitted out the beautiful space with everything you need to get a killer workout. Paired with brand new bathrooms & shower facilities it really is a bit of a fitness gem in the Vauxhall/ Stockwell area. Ed is now on twitter as of today so if you have any fitness/ health questions pop over and say hi!
Harriet x

16 February 2013

Valentine's Glossy Box

Yay, another lovely little treat waiting on my doorstep when I got home from my long weekend in Newcastle - a Glossy Box. This time it was a Valentines edition - supposedly everything in this month's box is to help you have "the night of your life".

So, what did I get? Much to my delight this box was a lot more makeup orientated that my last one. Inside was a mini Micabella Cosmetics mineral eye shadow in the shade Deep Secrets which is a shimmery brown colour. I did a little swatch on my hand and it's really heavily pigmented so I'm excited to test this one out properly. There was also a Balance Me Rose Otto Body Cream which smells beautiful and a MeMeMe Beat The Blues highlighter in "Pearl Pink" which I hear is a great dupe for Benefit High Beam. As well as these there were two lip products - Figs & Rouge "Rambling Rose" Lip Balm which seems nice and moisturising so far and a Miners "Cinamon" Lip Colour which I will probably get the least use out of as it is not a great colour for me (an in between dusty pink and brown shade) and it doesn't seem to apply very well. 

Hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know if you would like full reviews of any of these products.
Isobel x

13 February 2013

Liebster Award

We were very kindly nominated for the Liebster Award by Charlotte from The Beauty Board. Thank you very much and we would love to take part!

Liebster is a German word meaning kindest, nicest, beloved, endearing and welcoming. It's a word which has a positive meaning towards people. This award is given to bloggers by other bloggers. And the most important thing about this award is to share and grow the network and encourage new bloggers. The blogger who has been nominated should have less than 200 followers.

How it works...
Each person must post 11 things about themselves
Answer the questions that the nominator set for you, then set 11 more questions for the blogs you nominate
Chose blogs to nominate, then link them to your blog
Go to their page and let them know.

11 things about us:
1. We have known each other since we were 7 but only really became friends when we were 15 and bonded on a school trip to Germany.
2. When we were about 18 we got obsessed with Example (before he was famous) and followed his gigs around London.
3. We've been talking about starting a blog for years but only got round to doing it at the beginning of this year.
4. We live really close to each other in South London, have lived here our whole lives and will probably both never leave. 
5. We used to spend a lot of summers together in Crantock, North Cornwall which is Harriet's family holiday destination.
6. We both had our first job working in a bar when when we were 18. 
7. Our favourite drink is a gin & tonic with lots of fresh lime... preferably on a warm summers evening!
8. We both have a bit of an unhealthy obsession with coffee...especially from Starbucks (eek).
9. Isobel has a Canon 450D DSLR and that's what we take most of the pictures for our blog with.
10. We've both been traveling and would love to do more!
11. We're really enjoying blogging and hope we can carry on for as long as possible.

Questions for us:
1. What is your favourite make-up brand?
Bobbi Brown! Each time I walk past the Bobbi Brown stand at the moment something else finds its way into my makeup bag. I love their concept that everything should revolve around really great skin, & adore their colour range of lipsticks & blushes - lots & lots of pinks. (Harriet)
2. What is your favourite TV Show?
At the moment it's Peep Show. British comedy, 8 series and still going strong! (Isobel)
3. Are you planning on going on holiday this year? Where?
My Uni friends and I were flirting with the idea of spending a week in Spain this Summer and taking a cheeky little trip across to Ibiza for one night. This probably won't eventuate though as we suck at organisation! (Isobel)
4. What was the last gig/concert you went to?
In the summer I went to "SW4" a 2 day festival on Clapham Common in South London. Chase & Status headlined the 1st day and Skrillex headlined on the 2nd. A friend works in music so I managed to go backstage which was so much fun. (Isobel)
5. Who do you think is the most beautiful Celebrity?
Monica Bellucci, Marion Cotillard & Bar Refaeli- I couldn't decide between the three of these naturally gorgeous women! (Harriet)
6. What's your favourite Take-Away?
Such an easy one for me: Noodles! And my favourite place to get them from is Noodle Express which you should definitely try if you live in the South London area. (Isobel)
7. What do you do? Studying/Working? 
We both work! Isobel studied Graphic Design at Uni and would love to pursue it, at the moment she is working as a Nanny. Harriet has worked in retail for years and now is making the transition into fitness & nutrition.
8. Handbags or Shoes?
Handbags. I definitely have a bit of a handbag addiction, there might be a new naughty purchase coming up on the blog soon... I love shoes as well but feel like I get so much less wear out of them so they're harder to justify. (Harriet)
9. What is your worst beauty habit?
I definitely don't clean my makeup brushes enough. It's a terrible habit and in fact I feel so bad thinking about them all dirty I'm off to clean them right now! (Isobel)
10. What is your holy grail beauty product?
Following on from the first question; the Bobbi Brown corrector, I have repurchased this countless times. It completely erases dark circles & discolouration & has a great consistency that makes it invisible on the skin. (Harriet)
11. Favourite Junk Food/ Comfort Food?
CHOCOLATE! Not a favourite, rather an addiction! (Isobel) 

Questions for you:

1. Do you have a pet? What is it? Name?
2. What's your favourite City?
3. What's the one beauty product you couldn't live without?
4. If you had to leave the house with only ONE part of your makeup done, what would it be? Eyebrows/Lips/Foundation...etc?
5. Apart from being a blogger, what do you do?
6. What's your favourite High Street Fashion Store?
7. What's your favourite form of exercise?
8. Who's your favourite celeb & why?
9. What's the last restaurant you went to?
10. If you could only wear either rings, necklaces or bracelets, which one would you chose?
11. What do you consider your best quality?

We nominate:
Ou est la discotheque?
Comely Cobber
Samya Says
Charlotte Jackson

Lovely Weekend in the Toon!

So, this weekend I went up to visit my lovely friends from Uni in Newcastle. It was a weekend full of shenanigans...mainly, drinking red wine and catching up. Whilst there I met a lovely little Lion-head Rabbit called Costello. I just thought I'd include him in this post as he is SO cute. He belongs to my friend Jenna, who also has a blog. Sorry about the terrible picture quality, my phone is rubbish and I didn't take my camera with me!

We also ended up having an amazing breakfast on Sunday at The Butterfly Cabinet in Heaton. Despite having lived in Newcastle for 3 years I had never been before...and I have no idea why as it was so yummy. It doesn't look much from the outside but it has a really cutesy, quirky interior with vintage decor and eclectic trinkets. It has a very good reputation in Newcastle and we even had to queue to get a table! I went for the full works, full english, American style pancakes and a really naughty hot chocolate with whipped cream, marsh mallows and a flake (please don't judge)! To top it off my bill only came to a tenner - unheard of in London.

A lovely weekend re-living my student days! 
Isobel x

12 February 2013

Coffee Break OOTD

Jacket: Zara
T-Shirt: Topshop
Jeans: Primark
Shoes: H by Hudson

I've got the week off work (yay!) so I had a much needed lazy day. Keeping it casual as I just ran a few errands this morning and grabbed a quick coffee with Harriet...bliss. I got her to take a few snaps of my outfit before I head off for dinner tonight at a friend's house. I only got this jacket on Friday and have been wearing it all weekend as I'm totally in love. I'm really appreciating Aztec patterns being back on-trend at the moment and this jacket goes really well with these "red wine" coloured jeans too. 

Isobel x

6 February 2013

New Shoes

Fed up of ruining my boots & gym trainers pounding the pavements with my dog I finally decided to buy a pair of designated dog walking shoes.

Nike Blazers had been on my radar/ wishlist for a while (mainly due to the huge range of vibrant colours they come in) so I decided to kill two birds with one stone & try a pair out. Not owning a single pair of fashion trainers I wasn't convinced how wearable I would find these but I really love them.

They look great paired with skinny jeans & I love the classic retro design. I would definitely wear these out for coffee/ lunch, not just relegated to walks with my clumsy muddy pawed Rottweiler.

Today I went for very blue themed outfit & wore them with a Zoe Karssen tee & Vince jeans. An oh so simple, casual outfit made a tad bit more fun with these iconic shoes.

I got mine from Office for £69.99, they are the Hi Suede Vintage, in obsidian blue, deep royal blue. I love the neutral colour combination & think they will pretty much go with anything. Link!

What do you think of Nike Blazers & how would you style them?

Harriet x

5 February 2013

L'Occitane en Provence Haul

Harriet and I decided to make the most of a 20% off voucher I had for L'Occitane so we ordered a few things online to help us get through the coldest February London has seen in the last 28 years!!

Harriet and I both went for an Almond Shower Oil (£17.50) as she raves about it and I'm really into oils for my skin at the moment so I really wanted to try it. I also bought a HUGE jar of Repairing Mask for Dry & Damaged Hair which at £20 is kind of pricey but it should last ages and it's totally worth it. You can read a little review I did of it here. If you spent over £30 you could get a Comforting Winter Collection for just £14 which I thought was a nice little bargain and a great way to try out some different products without having to buy the full sizes for the full prices! It came in a lovely cream, knitted bag which I am going to keep as a winter essentials (lip balms, hand creams etc) that I take to work bag. In it came 6 miniature products from their Shea Butter range. Hand Cream, Foot Cream, Lip balm (which, by the way, I have tried already and is heavenly!), Ultra Rich Body Cream & Face Cream and an Extra Gentle Soap. Unfortunately L'Occitane have stopped this promotion but they've got some good offers on sets of their new Spring products at the moment. Harriet also bought a tried, tested and much loved Shea Butter Rose Petals Hand Cream (£8), I love the packaging of this one. 

Isobel x

What's in my Graze Box #2

This week in my Graze Box I got.....

Healthy Popping Corn
Salty popping corn in a bag that you can pop (no pun intended) into the microwave for a minute or so and come out with lovely warm, perfect popcorn. So easy to make! I've tried these microwaveable popcorn bags before but what's good about this one is it's just the right portion size for one person for a little snack.
Guilt Free High Tea: perfect pumpkin & ginger cake with an afternoon tea infusion
This snack is SUCH a good idea. There is a small slice of cake that comes with a tea bag so you can enjoy your cake with a cuppa. The little square of cake tasted just like the Jamaica Ginger Cake which I used to love as a child. It's labeled as "extra light" at only 76 calories which sounds promising but to be honest with you the slice is literally only 2 bites. The tea was very light and reminiscent of Earl Grey. Can't wait to sample the other 3 cakes they have to offer!
Copacabana: dark chocolate buttons, milk chocolate buttons & brazil nuts
Ok, so I can't give a fair comment on this snack as unfortunately being allergic to Brazil nuts (and Cashews) I couldn't eat this one. Which was such a shame as I could only eat 3 of the 4 snacks that came in the box. On the Graze website you can browse and rate all of the snacks they provide but as far as I can see there is nowhere on the website to say that you are a nut allergy sufferer. Obviously if you have a severe nut allergy then I wouldn't recommend the Graze Box as they have a lot of nut products and I'm sure there would be no guarantee that any of their products wouldn't contain nut traces. But what about someone like me who is just allergic to some nuts? I'm not going to scroll through over 100 products and individually "bin" nut filled items! I have to say I am a bit disappointed with this aspect of Graze.
Pina Colada: pineapple, coconut and mango
This one does as it says on the tin really. It is dried pineapple, coconut and mango pieces. It's marketed as super healthy, 1 of your 5 a day, vitamins & minerals etc...but to me it was just darn tasty!

Isobel x

Lunch in Borough Market

With a couple of hours to kill on a freezing Friday lunchtime I met up with my Antipodean, food loving friend Fiona for a wander round Borough Market. We got there early so had the market pretty much to ourselves before the crowds of hungry lunch-breakers descended.

I started off by getting some amazing fresh seafood for dinner that evening (mixed grilled seafood with samphire & sweet potato fries- delicious).

To do something about her numb hands Fiona stopped by this organic juice bar nestled in the fruit & veg section for a hot spiced pear juice. This was amazing, a perfect not-too-sweet warming drink to sip on a sunny but icy cold February day. Not my usual thing at all but I'll definitely be heading back for one of these next time I'm in the area.

After stealing most of Fiona's drink we joined the queue at Monmouth for a delicious flat white, sprinkled with a tiny bit of buttery demerara sugar. We managed to find a couple of stools by the window & happily sat & people watched as the market filled up for lunch.

Once we had worked up a bit of an appetite we headed to Roast To Go, the sandwich branch of the famous Roast resturant, where groups of hungry men were already waiting.

I went for the special, a mouthwatering hog roast with crackling & apple sauce. Fiona decided against the man-friendly meat options & went for some warm empanadas from an Argentinean stall. We ate our lunch walking round the rest of the market, perusing the daily offerings & making mental lists of things to try for next time.

Feeling very full we had a quick look at the sweet goodies at all the pastry stalls, but left empty handed, content just to look at all the amazing cakes on offer.

Fiona couldn't make a trip to Borough market without stopping by her all-time favourite cake shop Konditor & Cook. She nearly bought her second Lemon Chiffon cake of the month (which did look INCREDIBLE) but was very restrained & went for the guilt free option, a slice to go &...

...a long frosty walk down the South Bank into Vauxhall. Which effectively worked off some of our lunch & resulted in numb feet & very rosy cheeks. Fully restored for the afternoon ahead.

Harriet x

4 February 2013

Skin Care for Cyclists


This is a post about how to look after your skin if you are a cyclist. So, before you carry on reading, this isn't a post about anti chaffing creams or saddle sore. I just have some practical advice on how to take care of your skin when braving the elements on your bike.

I commute to work in London everyday on my bike (I ride a Dawes Ultra if anyone's wondering). That's not to say I'm a lycra wearing speed monster. It is the quickest and easiest way for me to get to work, I have been cycling for years and quite frankly, I enjoy it. My journey is about half an hour long, and let me tell you, it's not for the faint hearted. Blistering cold winds, biting rain, mud, pollution and even on occasion being sprayed with window screen wash mean that my poor skin takes a beating every morning and evening, 5 days a week. So here are some rules that I live by:

ALWAYS use Lip Balm
If you do nothing else, just follow this one rule. The skin on your lips is so thin and fragile. Before I cycle I use something like Kiehl's Mango Lip Balm (10) which actually claims to help protect your lips from wind and cold weather. And to soothe dry lips after a cycle I would normally use a medicated relief cream such as this one from Blistex (6).
Exfoliate Less
I personally feel for my dry skin, exfoliating once a week is too much. I find I want to be as gentle and as kind to my skin as possible. If you want a deep clean though I would recommend using a facial brush along with your normal cleanser like the Botanics Facial Brush (2) and for when I do exfoliate once or twice a month I like to use Origins Modern Friction (9) which is very gentle.
Wear an SPF
Instead of wearing sun block I normally try to buy foundations or BB creams that have SPF in them (it's a real time saver!) I always put makeup on before I get on my bike because I don't really work up that much of a sweat and I can never be bothered to carry my makeup to work with me. Also I feel like it provides a barrier between my skin and the weather, so that can't be a bad thing! At the moment I use Rimmel Match Perfection Foundation (5) and Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector BB cream (8). Lots of face creams now have SPF in them too so there is really no excuse...
Use Anti-Wrinkle Cream
Even though I am only 23 I am aware that my skin will line and age prematurely from being exposed to changing adverse weather conditions. It's always best to prevent rather than cure. Having said that, if you're young like me you don't need to spend a fortune on anti-wrinkle creams (yet) so something like Garnier Ultra Lift Cream (3) will do. Make sure to shop around as it is only £6.25 at Tesco compared to £9.79 at Boots!
Use a Cleansing Oil
This one is more about personal preference and again is about being kind and gentle to your skin. I feel by using a cleansing oil instead of a foaming face wash I am still keeping moisture in my skin whilst also being able to clean it. It took some getting used to but I really noticed a difference in my skin when I switched from a foaming face wash to Origins Clean Energy (7).
Repair and Restore
There is only so much you can do to protect and prevent damage to your skin. Apart from using a good moisturiser I like to bring my skin back to life with an occasional face mask like Lush Oatifix (1). I also really want to try Heal Gel Intensive (4) which is supposed to do wonders for "troublesome" skin. Personally I think face masks are far too expensive so you could try making your own at home!

I hope you enjoyed this post, please let me know if you are a cyclist and have any of your own tips and tricks!

Isobel x