Health and Fitness: What’s Working for Me

As you may remember, one of my New Year’s Resolutions (and probably almost every other person’s) was to be healthier.  And I finally feel like I have gotten into a really good exercise and health groove.  I gave up on the 30 Day Shred, sorry Jillian.  It just wasn’t fun, I didn’t look forward to it, I didn’t enjoy doing it and I think it was also a bit too hard on my joints.  It is a really high intensity program and I don’t think it is for everyone.

So what am I doing?

Zumba Fitness-On Tuesday and Thursday, I do Zumba for 20 minutes and 45 minutes on Sunday.  I bought Zumba Fitness 2 at the beginning of the year and its so much better than the first Zumba Fitness for the Xbox Kinect.  I really look forward to doing it, there’s a much better selection of songs and different Zumba instructors and backgrounds.  It also tracks how much time you have Zumba’ed, calories burned and your accuracy.  The songs will get stuck in your head and I often find myself dancing around while making dinner breaking out the Zumba moves!

Yoga-Zumba is great for cardio, but I wanted something to help tone and strengthen.  That’s when I started 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene after reading about it through Vivianna Does Makeup.  First off, I love Adriene!  Her videos are so easy to follow and she has a very go with the flow vibe, “find what feels good” is her mantra.  I do yoga on the days when I’m not doing Zumba.  Heels almost touching the floor for downward dog now!


Healthier Eating-I have made two main changes to how I eat in my bid to be healthy.  My husband and I eat pretty ok anyway, we both enjoy cooking so we make almost all our meals ourselves.  My problem is mostly at work.

I don’t eat breakfast during the work week, I just am not a breakfast person and usually subsist on coffee and tea until lunch, not good.  So I have started bringing smoothies to work so that I can drink my breakfast.  My go to smoothie is one banana, 1/2 cup of orange juice and 1 cup mixed frozen fruit.  I use my Blend Active to make smoothies, which you can read about here.

Also for lunches, we have started buying chicken breasts, marinating in a bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and herbs to put in salads.  The key to enjoy salads I think is variety.  We also keep of plethora of salad “extras” to spice things up, beet root, picked onions, cucumber, seeds, hard-boiled eggs, avocados, cherry tomatoes, peppers, etc.  Pick from a few of those items, spinach, salad leaves, and a bit of dressing and you’re good to go, a nice healthy lunch.

So between the smoothie and my lunch, I at least know I’ve had two healthy meals for the day!

Healthy living has become a huge focus in the blogging world recently.  Have you tried anything to live a healthier lifestyle lately?


DKNY Dreamsicle

I’ve amassed quite a large perfume collection, especially for someone who didn’t really “get into” perfume until 2 or 3 years ago.  My first proper perfume was DKNY Be Delicious, which is still my favorite of all the DKNY releases, but I have to say that Dreamsicle almost manages to pip it to the post.

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First off, the packaging.  Gorgeous.  And the light peachy colour feels so spring like and reflects the perfume inside perfectly.  I did try all 3 new releases at Boots, Cool Swirl was my least favorite, not quite as sweet as the other two, Tutti Rooty was nice, but a bit too sickly and Dreamsicle is a light and fruity peachiness that isn’t really like anything in my collection.

The description read as:

“The refreshing treat opens onto juicy mandarin and lush raspberry, dipped in mouthwatering blackcurrant for a vibrant splash of indulgence. The alluring journey lingers as exhilarating green apple harmoniously blends with dazzling accents of peach nectar and apricot sorbet. The background envelopes cedarwood heart and blends with a rich swirl of creamy sandalwood and balmy vanilla beans to create a blissful feeling of undeniable seduction.”

Which sounds lovely and poetic, but I mostly smell the peach.

I think this will definitely become my signature scent this spring, it’s such a nice and appealing scent.  I would definitely urge you to get down to the shop and have a whiff of all 3!


Product Review: Maybelline Dream Flawless Nude Foundation

Purchasing the Maybelline Dream Flawless Nude Foundation was definitely influenced by quite a few different vloggers and bloggers raving about this product.  Foundation is definitely something that I like to chop and change as I haven’t found my Holy Grail formula yet, but this one is almost there except for one small issue.

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First off, this is a super thin formula, a little thicker than water.  I had just fallen in love with the Beauty Blender when I purchased this, but it is definitely not made for sponge application and you will literally just soak up all the product.  I like to dab some on the back of my hand with the absolutely ridiculous “dropper” (which I’ll get to in a minute) and then apply with the Real Techniques Buffing Brush.

The “dropper”, which isn’t really a dropper as you can’t suck up product with it, is a bit ridiculous.  You don’t need much of this foundation, but I still need to dip and dab like 5 times to get enough with the stupid little applicator.  I suppose I could pour it out, but then I’m afraid I’d get too much.  But still it is a nice foundation so this isn’t a deal breaker.

The one issue is that the lightest shade is slightly too dark for me which is a huge bummer.  I just wish they had a better shade selection.  Once its blended out and powdered, its not too made, but it’s just not a good match.

PicMonkey Collage

Bare skin on the left and foundation on the right, you can see it gives a nice even, natural looking coverage.  It really is a lovely silky foundation!

Have you tried Maybelline Dream Flawless Nude Foundation?  Thoughts on the dreaded “dropper”?


Current Skin Care

I think I’ve finally found a skin care routine that I really like and have actually been repurchasing the core products rather than chopping and changing (although trying new things is always fun!).  So here are the products I’ve been using for my winter skin care routine:


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Soap and Glory Off Your Face Cleansing Cloths-Shame!  I know, the evil cleansing wipes!  But I promise I’ve actually been using these a lot less.  Now that I work out 3 times a week, I’ll take a shower after and remove my makeup with my daily face wash.  So these are just for in a pinch, but they are very nice as far as face wipes go.  I got these in my Soap and Glory holiday giftset, they’re very wet and sturdy, not sad little, half dry wipes.  They are alcohol free and contain glycerin so they moisturise as well as exfoliate.

Dr Jart+ Clear Away Gel-I received this little gem in my January Birchbox, I love Dr Jart+ products!  This is a gel that has tiny little exfoliating beads to smooth the skin and help refine pores, I use it about twice a week to get rid of any dead skin cells.

Olay Essentials Refreshing Face Wash-This is just a nice simple, no frills face wash.  Both the mister and I use it, it cleans your face, doesn’t dry out you skin, what more could you want?


2015-02-08 11.45.50Simple Kind to Skin Soothing Facial Toner-This is the one product that I kind of bought on a whim and probably won’t repurchase.  I prefer the Boots Botanics All Bright Cleansing Toner, which is more of an exfoliating toner (its supposed be a dupe for the Pixi Glow Tonic), however the small Boots near my work doesn’t carry it.  So I picked this up instead, it’s alcohol free which is a plus, but not particularly exciting.  I do find it still makes my skin feel a bit tight.  I’ll use it up until its gone and then go back to my Boots Botanics toner.

Boots Botanics Skin Calming Day Cream SPF 15-If you’ve read my blog any amount of time, you will definitely have seen this before.  I love this moisturiser, this is probably like my 8th or 9th one.  It gives my dry skin the perfect amount of moisture with the added bonus of SPF, love this stuff.

Boots Vitamin E Gentle Eye Cream SPF 15-Can you tell I like Boots skin care yet?  This is a simple and effective eye cream and it’s cheap to boot!  £2.50 for this baby, you just need a small amount, I pat a bit around my eye area with my ring finger before applying my face moisturiser.  In the winter I also have been using this around my nose when the skin has been chapped there.

Have you used any of these products?  Is your skin care routine constantly changing or do you have your old stand bys?



Earlybird Tastebox

I saw a promotion on Facebook a few weeks ago for Earlybird Tastebox, basically like a grazebox, except the Tastebox comes with 5 snacks, a dip, and tea.  They are currently running a promotion for £1 for your first box (or you can use my sharecode, mandy-2008, to get your first box free!).

Some other differences from grazebox are that you can’t look at what snacks come in the box before you receive it, so it’s kind of a crapshoot.  If you do receive something you like or don’t like though, you can rate it so you either don’t receive it again or receive it frequently.

2015-01-26 16.35.15Sorry for the rubbish photo, I really hate winter lighting!

As far as the actual snacks, I was really pleased with my selection.  Here’s what I got:

Minted- This was probably my favorite snack in the whole box, dark chocolate buttons, pecans, and mint sultanas, super yummy!

Seedy Surprise Crunchy-This one had a bit of weird flavour to it, won’t get it again.  It had apricot kernels, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

Nutty Galore-I really liked the pistachios in this snack, it also had almonds and sunflower seeds.

Happley Appley-Another favorite, dried apple slices that came with a pot of almond butter for dipping!

Bollywood Sticks-Bombay, chilli cashews, and peas, this was spicy and satisfying!

Darjeeling Early Grey Tea-I wasn’t that excited about the tea, until I opened the pot up and saw it was Teapigs brand!

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The company is fairly new and from the sounds of it, has lots of improvements and changes in store for the future.  For example, I think a snack rating system may come into place and they are looking to introduce a healther gym snack box so I think we can expect good things from this company!

Although the packaging isn’t as pretty as graze, I think the snacks are on par if not better.  And you are getting an extra snack as you only get 4 with graze and the tea (especially Teapigs brand!) is a nice inclusion as well.

So if this sounds like something you’d like to try, go to and type in my sharecode mandy-2008 for your first free box (can’t beat free food, haha!).

Have you tried a snackbox subscription before?


My New Love: The Beauty Blender

I finally received a much-anticipated package this weekend.  If you saw my January Birchbox review, you will know I signed up with the sole purpose of getting the free Beauty Blender and cleanser for new subscriptions.  Upon opening, my first thought was, ” Wow, this is really small.  Who would pay £26 for this thing?”.  Now, obviously you don’t need a gigantic sponge to apply your makeup and the sponge does get quite a bit bigger after you dampen it, the little sponge just didn’t seem to warrant the price tag.

And I’m still not sure it does, when this thing dies on me I might have to go for the Real Techniques version because as much as I love it, I don’t think I’d want to part with £26 for a little pink makeup sponge.

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The arrival of my Beauty Blender was quite timely because my work has just installed new LED lights throughout the office.  Going from an office space barely lit by flickering computer monitors to bright white lights everywhere is not very flattering on a 6:30 am makeup job while you’re half awake in a dimly lit bathroom.  One of my coworkers kept asking me if I was too warm until I realised I might have been a little heavy-handed with my blush application that morning.

Normally, I apply my foundation with my Real Techniques buffing brush, but as soon as I starting applying with the Beauty Blender, I knew I definitely preferred it.  You dampen the sponge and squeeze it out and lightly “bounce” the foundation across your skin.  It gives a nice sheer, even cover that you can build up by layer.  I think it would definitely work best with liquid foundations.  Also great for blending in your concealer with the pointy end.  I did notice I needed to use more foundation than with my brush (might be because of the foundation laden state of the brush though, shame on me, wash your brushes!).

Overall, it’s a winner.  Non-streaky flawless speedy application.  Looks great under LED lights.

Have you tried the Beauty Blender or its subsequent knock offs?  What’s your opinion on the price point?


January Birchbox Review

I’ll be completely honest, the only reason I ordered a Birchbox was because of the promotion for the free Beauty Blender and cleanser for new subscribers.  So I’ll be getting the £26 Beauty Blender and cleanser in addition to this box for the price of £12.95 (less £3.50 through Quidco), not bad if I do say so!

2015-01-17 13.31.02The theme for January is Women’s Health and although I don’t plan on subscribing for any more boxes after this (I am still trying to use up all the samples from when I got Glossybox), I thought this was a really good box and much better than the Glossybox offerings.

2015-01-17 13.32.51Birchbox Pilates Band-This was the Birchbox exclusive product, I am definitely a fan of Pilates workouts so might have to have a look on Fitness Blender to see if I can find some workouts that incorporate the band.

Stila Lip Glaze-These lip glazes seemed to get raved about all the time so excited to give this a go, looks a bit glittery for my liking though.

Electric Hair Hydrate Shampoo-My hair is always in need of some extra hydration, especially in this cold winter weather so can’t wait to try this product out!

Dr. Jart+ Clear Away Gel-I love the Dr. Jart+ brand and was absolutely thrilled to see a full-sized product!  The Clear Away Gel is a gentle exfoliator that refines pores and the texture of skin.

Embrace Matcha Green Tea-I was actually really excited about this sample.  I love drinking all kinds of tea, but haven’t tried matcha yet, it’s packed with antioxidants and supposed to be really good for your health.

Agave Healing Oil Treatment-Probably the least exciting product in the box.  I tried hair oils before, but they all seem a bit too heavy for my hair.  I did just get my highlights done today so might use this to give my hair a bit of extra TLC.

Activbod Cooling Finish Lotion-This menthol packed lotion is supposed to help you re-energize after a workout.  I’ve been really good with my New Year’s resolutions and have been doing Zumba 3 times a week so looking forward to trying this out after a post workout shower.

Finally, a little booklet was included with 12 healthy challenges to try, anything from tips to get more sleep to exercises to try with your Pilates band.

Overall, a really good box with some new products for me to try out!  I think this was a really nice theme to have for January and the products really seem to fit in.

Have you tried any of these products before?  Are you subscribed to any beauty boxes?