JC Writes: Life Lately – 10 Happy Things #2

Photo 13-12-2014 7 57 14 pm

Woo I actually love sitting down in the evening to reflect on the past couple of weeks and write about some happy things which have happened. I am currently in a hotel room as Paul is at his Christmas do watching Don’t Tell The Bride, eating salsa and Doritos and having a good twitter chat, so I am feeling cozy and ready to write.

1. Serial. Oh serial. It ended on Thursday and I thought the last episode was fabulous. It really summed up the whole series and left a very satisfying ending. If you haven’t listened to serial, then please do, I think it is one of the most creative and well produced radio shows that I have ever listened to.

serial-social-logo

2. I tweeted on a twitter chat the other day that it is so typical that the posts I looove writing and think are really cool are normally the ones which no one reads (I was thinking of my recent gin post) and I had so many people reply saying the same thing happens to them! Made me laugh that we bloggers have the same problems.

3. I had a vegetarian Christmas dinner party! One of our friends Sam is a vege and as there were only three of us, I thought it was worth it to keep the whole meal vege. For starters I made zucchini and haloumi skewers (which were so good, I need to make again!) along with some squash samosas, then for mains I made a caramelized onion and goats cheese tart, along with roast potatoes, stuffing, gravy and vege. I was really happy with how it all turned out and we had a delicious Christmas Red Velvet cake which Sam made for dessert which is up at the top of the blog.

Photo 13-12-2014 5 40 09 pm

4. We made it back to Honest Burger! It really isn’t far from us, it took us 40 minutes to walk back which is a nice way to walk off the burger. The burgers there are some of my absolute faves, the burger is so soft and juicy and I could probably eat about 5.

Photo 17-12-2014 6 14 52 pm

5. Anything glazed apple for the body shop, I am obsessed!

6. We watched black mirror during the week and I thought it was fab. I really like how they present issues which are so believable that they may exist in the future. I watched the first season on netflix too which I also really enjoyed so give them a go if you want something different to watch.

7. On the topic of TV, we finished season 2 of Dexter! I really enjoyed it, I find it so nice and easy to watch. I think I need a bit of a Dexter break but I will definitely be watching season 3 in the new year (though some people says season 3 isn’t as good?!).

8. I had a few ‘down days’ this past week. They don’t happen too often but sometimes it hits and I just feel a little blue for no particular reason. I always just focus on the fact that they will soon pass and are most likely hormone and sleep related, so I just try and take a little bit more care of myself (pizza, house and chocolate orange on the couch was just what was needed).

9. I went to a lovely blogger meet up at Winter Wonderland on Thursday and it was so much fun! The girls were all so nice and it was great to go out and have a chat surrounded by all the Christmas lights and having a mulled cider.

Photo 19-12-2014 8 54 06 pm

10. I am now on holiday for a whole 17 days and it is only a few days until Christmas! Perfectly ideal.

What has made you happy recently? What are you excited about for Christmas?

JC xx

 

JC Receives: 2014 Beauty Secret Santa!

I have previously taken part in some internet secret santas, through reddit. I had a couple of successful ones but then it seemed each one I took part in I would either not receive anything back at all or just get something with obviously only cost about $2 (I once got a plastic dinosaur keyring..). I know that it isn’t all about receiving, but it gets disheartening after awile so I gave up on that. Once I saw a secret santa in the blogging community organised by fatbeautyx, I immediately jumped on it as I knew that the blogging community wouldn’t let me down. And I was right, it was awesome! It was also great to be able to go out and pick out some of my favourite beauty products to send to another blogger (of which I was so tempted to keep myself!!).

So what did I receive? Lots of goodies which I will share with you! First it came in the cutest Santa box, which I will totally be reusing, probably to store some of my nicer Christmas decorations. And there were lots of goodies underneath the paper!

IMG_1453

 

We got to put a little wishlist together of what we loved, mine included, mascara, neutral eyeshadow, red lips and nail products so you can see it already that they have pretty much nailed it.

Starting with the nail stuff, there were two super cute nail kits – one with nail files and one with little implements, clippers etc., these are always appreciated as I seem to constantly loose nail clippers! They are probably all in a little box that I so smartly thought of organising them in, never to be seen again. There was also one of those little bags of happiness which I think are such a great little stocking filler, you can always have a bit more good luck!

make u[

 

Onto the make up, lots of things I am very excited about! First comes the eyeshadows, I received the Maybelline Diamond Glow which I was very excited about, just look at those shades! They are gorgeous and they are different to the shades in my naked palettes. I also finally got some eyeshadow brushes so these will definitely be used.

Now the second item was one of the Rimmel Scandel Eyes eyeshadow pencil, now this might sound familiar as I have previously on this blog voiced my disappointment on this product. However! Someone did comment on that saying that their one was much more pigmented and actually went on the eyes, so maybe I had a dud one. And I am happy so say that is the case! I immediately popped this on my eyes and it looked fab. This is going to become a firm favourite.

Next I received the Maybelline Illegal Lengths mascara, which I was very excited to try as I swear this is the mascara I used when I was like 14?! So it will be very interesting to try and compare with my recent purchases. I really like my current Bourjois Volume 1 Seconde mascara so I will crack this open when it is completed.

IMG_1459

 

Finally, I got this gorgeous red lipstick! I don’t have many true reds, so this will be a great addition to the collection. This is so long lasting as well, both on the lips and the swatch on my hand lasted for over a day. I think this may even be my Christmas day lipstick.

Have you been in a Beauty Secret Santa? Are any of the above your favourites?

JC xx

PS make sure you enter my blogmas lush giveaway, it is the last day today!!

JC Celebrates: Festive TAG!

IMG_1369

So I haven’t done a tag in months! And over the past couple of weeks I have been tagged in a few festive/ Christmas/ Winter themed tags so I thought it was time as it is blogmas to get round to completing one. Not sure which tag this was but they all have the same gist right? The lovely bloggers who tagged me were Levi Jade, Miss Pond  , The Vegan Taff and Mummys Beauty Corner so definitely check them out and give them some festive love!

1. What is your favourite Christmas Movie/s?

I really enjoy both Love Actually and The Holiday. I do like the super cheesy Christmas-y ones occasionally, but I do prefer the happier ones which just happen to be set at Christmas. Though I haven’t had chance to watch either this year, I hope I will soon. I also have a cute Christmas Novella to read which I think is a nice edition, as I don’t often read Christmas books.
beach
2. Do you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
Always on Christmas day. They may not be in the morning, as not going to lie, I enjoy a sleep in whenever I can get them including Christmas. We do tend to spread them through the day and as there are only 3 of us this year, I expect I can open them whenever I like.
3. Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?
I have had many fab memories of Christmas, I have had them all over the place – New Zealand, Australia, America, Manchester, and London. They always manage to be special. I love the traditional ones with all my extended family up in Manchester, and I loved the not so traditional ones with my parents in New Zealand where we went out to the beach and for a fancy meal instead of Christmas dinner. It’s just nice for everyone to have some time off and all be a bit jollier.
4. Favourite festive food?
Trifle for sure. And not even like nice, homemade trifle, like Birds out of a packet trifle. I’m pretty sure I can eat a whole one in one sitting. Also chocolate oranges (I am trying to set a record of mentioning them throughout blogmas) and pigs in blankets.
trifle
5. Favourite Christmas gift?
I always get epic gifts so there are heaps! I think some of the most special have to be off my grandad, he facets as his hobby so cuts his own stones, then has them set and given to us for gifts – talk about the best DIY ever! I have some amazing one of a kind jewellery made by him including rings and necklaces which I will love forever.
 
6. Favourite Christmas scent?
Pine is a good one. I do like candy canes too. I have been burning the Icicles candle by yankee recently which I have also been loving!
IMG_1351 
7. Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?
We used to always go to the movies on Christmas eve. Especially when we were younger, I think it helped calm us down and keep us entertained rather than getting hyped up! We saw all of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbits so far on Christmas eve, and hopefully see the third one this year.
8. What tops your tree?

At the moment there is a just a star on it from tescos, nothing too exciting.

IMG_1354

9. As a kid what was the one (crazy, wild, extravagant) gift you always asked for but never received?
This is such a tough question. I would always ask for animals or pets. In fact, I still ask for them but I have yet to receive any. A cat would be perfect thanks!
10. What’s the best part about Christmas for you?
Definitely just hanging with the family. I don’t get to see them enough and as they are always dotted about the globe, Christmas is usually a time to come together. Except not this year, my parents and sister are going to the Great Barrier Reef, so isn’t that typical. Pass me the trifle please!
Now I will tag a few people, but I totally understand if you don’t have time to do this post so I am mainly tagging you so that whoever is reading this will check out your amazing blogs and share some festive love once more:
Aisling at aisybee
Rosie at Eat Read Glam
JC xx
PS make sure you check out my lush giveaway, only two more days to enter!

 

JC Experiments: No More Skincare? An Update

You may remember that back in September I wrote a post about how I was going to stop using skin care. It has now been a couple of months so I think I am qualified to give an update on how my skin has been doing. As a reminder I cut out all facial products, using only eye make up remover to take off my make up (I don’t wear any base make up) and a Simple Protecting Moisturiser with SPF 30 in the mornings. So how has it been?

I have to say that the first few weeks were bad, like really bad. I had the worst break out on my chin and jaw line that I have ever had. Honestly I FREAKED OUT. I thought maybe the skin care I had been using had really been keeping a much worse problem under control. It was pretty difficult at this point to not throw myself back into lotions and potions in an attempt to sort it all out. But I resisted and very luckily, these spots soon went away (though leaving some red marks behind which I find so annoying!). I think this was what many people call a ‘purging’ phase, when my skin just chucked out all the worst of it from the previous few months.

But honestly, that was by far the worst of it. After that going into November, my skin started to chill out. I have now had a couple of months where my skin has been really, really good. Now, it isn’t back to my perfect high school days where I got about 1 spot a year, I am still getting little spots here and there. But I think it’s important to note that they are just the ‘little red on top of the skin go away’ quickly kinds of spots, I have only had 1 serious spot since that initial break out – at that time of the month.

I’m afraid I was a bit useless in taking pictures, because really, who wants to take pictures of spots? But here is a photo from this weekend where I have no face base make up on, other than some concealer under the eyes!

Photo 14-12-2014 9 33 17 am

So what are my conclusions? To be honest I’m not sure. I do think that stopping the skin care did help my skin and caused less break outs, but I also think my hormones were to blame for a lot of it. Now my hormones seem to have calmed down as well, everything is getting back to normal. All I can say is that with lots of skin care I got more spots, and now with no skin care I get less – so it’s obvious it wasn’t doing much for me.

And now, as I was useless of taking pictures of my skin, here it is with no make up on at all, very early in the morning (yeah polar bear)!

Photo 06-12-2014 9 59 36 am

Now comes my slight dilemma in that one, I want a new moisturiser as I do like the one I’m using but it isn’t ‘ideal’. And two, I also want something to hydrate to put on in the evening as I am getting a bit of dry skin now we are getting to the depths of winter. But I’m worried! I don’t just want to start throwing things on my face again – I think I am going to try one product at a time, and use it for a prolonged period rather than for a week or so. I have also been considering picking up some La Roche Posay Effeclar Duo just to put on my chin to see if it can keep that area under control at the rest of my face has been behaving perfectly! What do you guys think? I will of course keep you updated!

JC xx

JC Cooks: Winter Guinness Beef Stew

IMG_1436

It’s not often that I am home all day on a Sunday, and even less often that I feel like cooking when I finally am. But last weekend a few things got cancelled and with the rain pouring outside we decided that it was the ideal day to stay cuddled up inside. And what better thing to go with that than a delicious stew bubbling on the stove for part of the day. Now this stew does take a wee while to cook but it isn’t too labour intensive really, set it all up then a stir every now and again.

You really are rewarded for the time you take to make this dish, it is so so good. It honestly tastes as though you have put lots of ingredients in when you really haven’t. This was originally made for me by my sisters boyfriend and as soon as I had it, I knew I needed the recipe – so all thanks go to him! It was originally made with potatoes but as Paul and I am on a sweet potato kick (check out my soup here!) so we decided to have it sweet potato and it was really good. Next time you have a Sunday afternoon at home, do give this a try.

Ingredients:

IMG_1424

 

1 big bottle of Guinness

1 Onion (diced)

2 Carrots (diced)

2 sticks of celery (diced)

2 Tbsp tomato paste

Half pack of bacon lardons (or as many as you like really!)

400g diced beef casserole

Beef Stock (if needed)

Handful of flour

2 sweet potatoes

IMG_1428

 

First you will need a big pan which will fit all of your ingredients. Toss the beef in the handful of flour until it is coated then throw it into the pan on a high heat. We just want to brown the meat to bring out the flavour so just keep it up really high and toss occasionally for about 5 minutes until you get the meat that lovely brown colour above.

Remove the beef from the pan and set aside. Leave all the juices you can in as these will contribute to our gravy. Next throw the lardons into the pan and get them cooking for a couple of minutes. Then add all of your diced vegetables. Sweat your vegetables and bacon into the pan until it starts to soften, after 10 minutes add the tomato paste.

IMG_1429

 

Mix your tomato paste in and leave to cook for another 5 minutes.

Add your beef back into the pan and then pour your bottle of guinness in. Take it up to the boil then immediately turn the heat right down (I had it on 2 out of 10 on my cooker).

IMG_1431

 

Pop the lid on and leave it for 2 hours and 15 minutes. Give it the occasional stir and make sure it isn’t boiling, it should just be slightly bubbling away. If you notice you are running low on liquid then add some beef stock but I didn’t need to.

After that time, chop your sweet potato and add it back into the pan. Leave this for another 45 minutes.

IMG_1433

 

After three hours in total it should look something like this, everything should be soft and falling apart and the sauce turned into a gravy. Dish up and tuck in – this makes about 4 servings along with some crusty bread.

I don’t understand how this tastes so damn good, especially considering I don’t really like Guinness at all when it is fresh – but after being cooked for 3 hours it is a whole other story!

What have you enjoyed cooking this winter?

JC xx

JC Travels: Paris in November

Oh Paris – the romantic city, where you see everyone go in the movies! I have been to Paris once about 5 years ago in the depths of winter, it was so cold and I was so ill prepared that the majority of the photos I have from it, I have a giant black scarf wrapped around my head in some attempt to keep my eyes and nose warm. Earlier in the year when I noticed there was a bit of a Eurostar sale on, I thought it was time to tackle this huge city again and what better time, than over my birthday when I had booked time off work, so Paul and I booked our tickets and waited!

Now I do like the Eurostar, flying is always such a stressful, anxious time for me so the thought of just jumping on a train was much more preferable! I remember when I first went on the Eurostar I was amazed by it, but I do think that the Virgin trains to Manchester are actually nicer – I’ve been spoilt! The café to buy drinks was also terrible, Paul went off to buy me a birthday beverage in England, and by the time he came back we were in France, not ideal.

Photo 14-11-2014 12 15 38 pm

However, we arrived in the late afternoon feeling awake and excited! We were staying in one of the outer suburbs so grabbed some metro tickets (which is a bargain compared to the London tube, though definitely not as nice) and headed to the hotel to dump our stuff. Now the previous time I had been to Paris, I have lasting memories of not being able to find anywhere to eat and wandering about aimlessly, so I had asked Paul to book us into a couple of restaurants. The first was on the Friday evening so when we were ready we jumped back on the tube to the 18th arrondisement, now I have to say the 18th district of Paris is not the nicest, it is the red light district but we persevered and wandered about through some very dark back streets and ended up at Sacree Fleur. And oh my, it was amazing! It was a steak restaurant which had amazing reviews on trip advisor, firstly we stuffed ourselves on the free French bread, you just don’t get free bread in London anymore! Then dived into a couple of fillet steaks which were cooked amazingly – may have been on the rare side but tasted delicious, along with 3 sauces and some potatoes. We rounded off the meal by sharing some sorbet. Honestly, if you are in Paris this place is worth the trek.

10385280_10152768690193260_4947002907244146185_n

It was only about 8 by the time we finished so we decided to head down to see the Eiffel Tower. It is a spectacular building, especially in the dark as the lighting really highlights the huge metal work. I’m not the biggest fan of tall buildings so we wandered about and had a walk along the river before heading back.

10686746_10152768690458260_8171170633036124243_n

Saturday was my birthday! Woohoo, I have written a little post on it here. But essentially, I started the day with a fresh Pain Au Chocolat and it just got better from there. We decided to go for a walk through the centre of Paris and see what took us, so we headed to Notre Dame. This is a really beautiful church with gorgeous gardens near by the river, we had a wander around, going in to look at the impressive vaulted ceiling. After a quick detour to Sephora (of course!) we went to the Louvre. The Louvre just boggles my mind it is so huge and so full of gems (plus free if you’re under 26!), if I had a few days I would spend hours just wandering the halls. As we didn’t have that much time, we went around the History of the Louvre and then the huge Egyptian wing, as I do love anything Egyptian. It was then amazing to wander the halls and look at the beautiful ceilings. We popped our head in to the Mona Lisa, but to be honest I have never been too impressed with it and the hall is always stuffed full of tourists so we headed out.

1610839_10152772475388260_5757442913411719232_n Photo 15-11-2014 2 30 11 pm

After a rest, we headed out to our second amazing dinner, this one was just on the bank opposite the Notre Dame and it was amazing! I had prawns with avocado, then duck and we shared profiteroles for dessert (though to be fair I was too stuffed to eat many!). Following a wander around the river to walk off our amazing food, we went back to the hotel – an amazing birthday!

Photo 15-11-2014 6 36 12 pm

Sunday was our final day and we were getting the Eurostar at 8pm, after a very lazy morning which may have again involved Pain au Chocolat, we decided to go to the Paris Catacombes. Now I had heard such great things about the catacoumbes, which is essentially a giant ossuary in one of the quarries under ground Paris. But to be honest, it creeped me out quite a lot! You had to queue for about an hour to go in, then you headed deep down underground (which made me feel a bit claustrophobic) then just through mountains of bones. It isn’t the most enjoyable of experiences but I’m glad we went as it was interesting to see.

1505065_10152772484208260_5260722514933845850_n

After the bone saga, I needed to do a bit of retail therapy so we got the metro to the Champs Elysee, by now the weather was getting pretty dreadful for the first time on the trip. But when we came out of the metro, we found the Paris Christmas Market! I do love me a Christmas market so we had a walk around and up to the Arc De Triomphe. I stopped off on the way at the biggest Sephora I have ever seen and a French pharmacie where I picked up some goodies – you can see my whole post on what I grabbed here.

10801616_10152772486703260_1890047841863642265_n

Following our walk, we headed back to the hotel to collect our stuff and jumped back on the train to England. Now I did really enjoy my trip to Paris but overall it isn’t my favourite of the European cities, it is a bit too touristy and it just doesn’t hold the magic which I get when I was in places such as Prague and Barcelona. I think 2 days was an ideal amount of time and would be wary to suggest any more – the sites are beautiful but if you are heading to Europe definitely stop off but make sure you go a bit further afield!

JC xx

JC Sleeps: Cozy Nights In

bed

Its winter guys, the nights are long, the days are short and a lot of animals know it is the time to go into hibernation. I like that concept! I think this time of the year is where I spend the most time either cuddled up on the couch or nice, warm and cozy in bed (is it just me or is it just so difficult to get out of bed in the morning at the moment? Even when my alarm goes off at 7.30 it is pitch black!). Anyway, I thought I would share my ideal cozy night in and what I do to make sure I get all the sleep I need.

First comes the comfy clothes, as soon as you get home, comfort should be the first factor – we are trying to wind down here after all. I suggest a Christmas or winter theme as that always makes things just that bit better. Lately I have been rocking my Winter leggings which I have mentioned previously, some form of Christmas jumper, and of course some slipper socks – these have pom poms on and are awesome.

pompom

Next is the warm drinks, I mentioned in my last post about chocolate flake tea. It seemed to intrigue a lot of people but it is an ideal winter drink! The tea is made of tea leaves, chocolate, cocoa and flavouring – I have it with hot water and just a dab of real milk which I very rarely drink now I am on soy milk. I find it gives a much less sickly and heavy hot chocolate fix and really helps me relax in the evenings before bed.

Now the best bit, we need to make sure the bed is ideal. I mean if you are not 1000% comfortable in your bed then you won’t be getting the best sleep you can. I was inspired by Argos range* of luxury duvets and duvet sets to get my bedroom ready for the winter. To me, finding a good duvet is tough, I hate sleeping when it is too warm. I need a duvet which keeps me warm but also circulates the heat and doesn’t make me too hot. I picked the Slumberdown Bouncy duvet which is fab, not only does it keep us warm but it is so springy! I love the feeling of a big thick duvet in the winter.

IMG_1447

As for sheets, you need something that feels nice, but you also need it to look good! After moving in with Paul a few months ago, we have been in a bit of duvet set limbo. He had lots of grey and neutral sets, and I had lots of overly girly covered in pink flowers sets, so I decided we needed a combination of the two – a neutral colour but a more interesting pattern. I really love this duvet set and to complete my new cozy bed, I accessorized with a few cushions which you can find here. 

pillows

Now once in bed, not going to lie, I usually indulge in a bit of youtube watching to really switch my mind off thinking about work. My favourites lately have definitely been Lily Pebbles as I mentioned in my Life Lately post, Miss Budget Beauty as she is actually so relatable and lovely to watch, and Megan Rienks – I love that she just had a nose job and is still doing vlogmas all the way through it.

Then after I finally switch the youtube off, time to sleep! What are the essentials you need for a good nights sleep? What do you think of the new bed set?

*This post was in collaboration with Argos but of course all opinions are my completely my own.

JC xx

PS Don’t forget to enter my Blogmas Lush Giveaway here!