Friday, 28 August 2015

Foodies Festival, Edinburgh

Every year Edinburgh is fortunate enough to play host to one of the largest and most vibrant culinary celebrations within the UK.

Hello Foodies!

Having never attended this glorious event for whatever reason, I was delighted to partner with Vita Coco as a blogger and guest for the day. I flip-flopped my way down to Inverleith Park on a beautiful Saturday faster than you could imagine to sample their wares and soak up a little sunshine.

I was greeted by a retro-chic Stella Artois van who were dishing out glasses of pear and elderflower cider to welcome guests upon arrival. FYI, on a hot Scottish summer's day something like this goes down quite the treat. Met by a sea of exhibitors, food stalls and deck chairs, I immediately knew that I was in for an incredible day.

Whilst the park was heaving with guests all primed and ready to celebrate the latest offerings within Scottish Food and Drink culture, there was still an overriding sense of relaxation as everyone kicked back their shoes to recline on deck chairs, bask in a few rays, sip some pimms or a glass of prosecco, chat with friends and listen to some live performances.

Eat, drink and merry? You bet!

The signature Pimm's teapot stood out amongst the masses like a refreshing homing beacon serving up tall glasses of liquid sunshine to ensure that you could hang loose and be cool at all times.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed at Foodies from brownies, fudge, beverages, spreads, to chutneys, chilli, cakes and macarons but there was something there to tickle even the most troublesome taste buds.

The event was also proud to showcase some master-classes/tasting sessions on a variety of themes which you could easily sign up for at one of the many tents dotted around the site.

Timing is everything, and I was lucky enough pop by to catch Treacle's own barman and master concocter Mike McGinty share a little bit about Scotland's impressive contribution to the gin scene. He also enlisted his mum as a glamorous assistant to help him create a gin based "East India Punch" with a melody of tasty ingredients such as lemon, orange, darjeeling tea, gin and a home made peach and cardamom sugar syrup.

Seriously, you had me at gin cocktail.

In the blaze of the Edinburgh sunshine, I had the pleasure of spending some time with the lovely ladies from Vita Coco, who were far from coconut shy. Treating event guests with a tempting snack of popcorn cooked in their very own coconut oil, they were happy to explain more about the wonders of the product and the countless ways in which you can enjoy it in the kitchen or on your beauty counter.

Keep your eyes peeled as the blog will be serving you another in depth post about Vita Coco. Coming right up!

If you are yet to grace this incredible event be sure to pop a reminder in your diary for next year so you can snap up some tickets and be first in line.

Take your hubby. Grab the Mrs. Call a friend or steal a baby or dog and bring them along as it is an amazing event for all the family. I had such an enjoyable afternoon and it was so encouraging to rejoice in the creativity and innovation of our delicious nation.

Once you pitch up at Foodies, I have a hunch you will find it rather morish. See you next year...

How do I connect with Foodies?
Twitter: @foodiesfestival
Instagram: @foodiesfestival

Monday, 17 August 2015

I can't get no sleep

Never been famed for being the world's deepest sleeper, I know more than most that it can be a tad tricky to unwind at the end of the day.

Finding it hard to catch those vital "Zzzzs" recently as you hop on the train to Bedfordshire? Consider these few pointers we can all use to get a better kip:

1. Can the caffeine

You know me. No-one appreciates a hot cuppa as much as I do, but I think those who scrap their caffeine intake after dinner hours might be onto something here. This doesn't have to be a boring endeavour, trust me. That time after your evening meal is the perfect window to swap your countless lattes or bucket-sized mugs of Tetley for something a little more zen. Favourites include Teapigs Chocolate and Mint*, Tea Pigs Apple and Cinnamon*, Twinings Buttermint or Teapigs Super Fruit*, for that night-time fix. Believe me, these are delicious options when you wanna live life a little more sans caffeine.

2. Digital Cleanse

Ok, I hold my hands up. I am self-confessed Iphone/Ipad/Instagram/Twitter addict, especially since starting the merry adventure that is "There goes Claire," but sometimes we have to be a little more disciplined when it comes to winding down.

Use of artificial lighting and electronics right up to the point we lay down for some shut eye is one of the top offenders killing our sleep life. Not only are we generally sleeping less, but as technology and connectivity increase, the overall quality of sleep that we receive on an average night is falling. So, whilst maxing out our "blue light" kick during the day is key, overdoing it in the evenings is a total no-no. So turn off your lights, pop on some candles and help your brain chillax in preparation for drift off...

3. Get your "suds" on

I can go for months without indulging in bath products, but when the mood strikes you can find me hitting up Lush in a heartbeat and leaving with an armful of bath bombs and other relaxing treats. There is something to be said for taking a dip in the evening and tweaking it with a little of what you fancy. Love it when bath time gets creative? Pick up something from the Lush store full of fizz and colour. However, if the very thought of rinsing glitter out of your tub breaks you out in a cold sweat, there are plenty other options out there for you to find the right fit.

I have really been enjoying some beautiful oils from Scottish aromatherapy gurus, Beatitudes. They were kind enough to send their "Joy" and "Peace" bath oils* along with their increasingly famous "Skin Salvation" face oil* so that I could put everything to the test. These are now proving to be vital bathroom essentials and I enjoy incorporating them into my evening routine.

Just set the taps running and pop a few drops of the "Peace" oil into the water and swirl. It really is that simple. Packed full with essential oils like Ylang Ylang, Lavender, Mandarin, Petitgrain and Cedarwoood, this doesn't simply smell incredible but it will leave your skin supple, smooth and hydrated without leaving you feelin' all grease lightening. There is something extra special about inhaling the aroma as you relax to further soothe any aches and pains.

If you prefer something a little more uplifting then reach for their "Joy" oil. It is brimming with citrus fragrance and essential oils like Orange, Mandarin, Petitgrain, Grapefruit and Bergamot to bring back a little of your perk. All that is left is to accessorise your bath with a book, cup of something fruity/herbal or a small glass of vino and you can enjoy your little safe haven retreat chez moi..

4. The "wind down"

Everyone enjoys hiding a couple of sidekicks on their night stand. I heartily recommend browsing just about anything from This Works (if you are not familiar with their products already.) I have been reaching for their Deep Sleep Pillow Spray*, Sleep Balm or Deep Sleep Stress Less Roll On. A spritz or two of their pillow spray before you hit the hay will have you nodding off in no time at all. This happy blend of lavender, vetivert and wild camomile will help you drift off into natural slumber and leave you feeling rested, awake and refreshed. Use either their balm or rollerball from the same range to rub into your pulse points for an extra boost. They come in a helpful travel sizes so they are ideal for taking on the road or in the air on any trip.

5. Settle petal

A new addition to my night time routine is the Beatitudes Skin Salvation oil. This is best applied using a short facial massage to ensure that the product is properly absorbed and it feels jolly nice too. If you suffer from a tight jaw or an achey-breaky face, this little ritual works on some acupressure points and really does help things feel nice "n" loose. On the plus side with ingredients such as Rosehip oil, Vitamin E, Oat Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Squalene and Black Cumin Seed Oil it promises to nourish, rejuvenate and lock in moisture which are glad tidings to a girl with a normal/dry complexion. As an added bonus it also contains the anti-aging properties like Rose, Neroli, and Immortelle.

So basically I will look 25, right?


This puts me in the right head space to try and get some rest. If you feel like going the extra mile you could always pop on a sleep mask, which is often not as ridiculous as it sounds. I travel quite a lot so there is always one within easy reach. Mine is from Daydream and with super soft material and many fun prints to choose from it is something to consider for your collection. They come with a cool pack to soothe tired/sore eyes and you can even stick it in the machine to make it sparkly and clean.

Give some of these a try. What are your top tips for relaxation or getting a good snooze?

*I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes only. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.*

Friday, 14 August 2015

Emma Hardie meetup

Emma Hardie is no stranger to the beauty blogging scene. She has made many an appearance on some of the posts I religiously follow, so when I was contacted to ask if I wanted to meet up with the skincare queen herself to talk through her range and find out more about the latest release, I literally leapt at the chance.

Cue fan girl moment.

Off I popped to Edinburgh's own Hotel du Vin...Fancy schmancy. We all huddled into one of the luxurious rooms within the hotel to escape the festival crowds and gain a little bit of solace whilst relaxing with Emma and chatting about all things skincare.

Ok, I'm feelin' zen. Tell me more?

One thing rings true as we swooned over a table brimming with lotions, potions and serums: Emma is passionate about natural skincare and treating your body well, which is further enhanced by her personal story of healing and journey to well-being. By stripping things back you really can stick to a few holy grail products and incorporate them into your daily routine. All that is left to do is stand back and witness some pretty impressive results.

Whether you are looking for balms, creams, cleansers, oils or masks, Emma has something to satisfy every need. Stand out products include her Moringa Cleansing Balm and Instant Radiance Mask if you are looking for a beautiful way to remove all traces of make-up or a weekly skin boost.

Emma was excited to introduce a new product from her range, the Protect and Prime SPF 30. This launch is truly a multi-tasker's dream! You can apply it on clean skin, on top of your normal skin care favourites or under make-up with promises of illumination and a soft-focus effect. Unlike other SPFs on the market, this has a light-weight feel without a chalky consistency or leaving a greasy residue on the skin surface.

With ingredients such as Mongongo Oil, Oat Extract and Vitamin E it also offers sun protection and helps to fight signs of ageing, sun damage and environmental exposure. A perfect choice for those "no make-up" days or an ideal base for a light make-up look. It is practically begging me to take it on holiday, and I very much look forward to road testing it next week in Berlin. I can always use something to pep my skin up and protect it from harmful rays (not something to immediately worry about living in Scotland).

With Emma, the results and reviews really do speak for themselves, so you would be wise to head on over to her site and perhaps pick a few early Christmas stocking fillers. She has now rolled out the range to Marks and Spencers so you can also pop a little treat into your trolley when you go for the weekly shop. Sneaky. I won't tell...

Where to purchase?
Marks and Spencers
Liberty London
Space NK

(for a full range of UK stockists, check here.)

Friday, 7 August 2015

Sara Hill Makeup

Meet Scotland's very own Sara Hill.

The Person

Who is she, I hear you ask? You better believe the hype. Take it from me, this woman is putting Glasgow and Scotland firmly on the map within the creative sector. A self-confessed "Jack of all Trades" she can be seen turning her hand (or brush) to anything that provides further outlets for her creative expression. Artist Director of a dynamic and successful Make-up Academy, Magazine Editor, Celebrity Make-Up Artist and now proud product pioneer behind "Sara Hill Make Up" it is easy to see exactly how she is leaving her mark. If her career in industry were a child, it would be packing its suitcase and heading off to university by now... Suffice to say that she knows what she is talking about.

I was fortunate enough to visit her Studio in central Glasgow for a sneak-peek at the beautiful show room and to share in her latest launch of the cosmetic range. And all this with a glass of fizz? Ooh, fancy.

The Pad

On first impression, I can see that Sara Hill doesn't only "do" make-up, she fully engages in her creative space. The studio is a white-washed wonderland packed with quirky decor, trendy lighting, retro pieces with a modern twist, copper accents, product "play-area" and personal DIY-projects that have been incorporated into the final look of her unique, small-but-perfectly-formed HQ.

Sara isn't afraid to roll up her sleeves and get handy with a tin of spray paint or work with small companies with big ideas. For example, her central display stand for eyeshadows and lipsticks is made from re-purposed old wood from skirting boards and this rests upon two dog cages, now spray painted with a copper finish and interwoven with greenery. Complete proof that if it doesn't already exist, you can totally make it happen. I get the feeling that this woman knows exactly what she wants and has a knack of creating it out of thin a magician.

So, do I have your attention?

The Purpose

Sara's approach to make-up is a happy blend where artistic flair meets a firm grounding in make-up artistry. Her product range has been in development for a solid five years which is reflective of her perfectionist character and need to get everything just right. Combined with her vast industry experience, this makes for a happy pairing. She clearly takes a lot of pride in her brand and works with only the best suppliers to create flawless bases and bold eye/lip combinations for editorial use or simply for your daily look.

She is keen to shy away from layering make-up on to camouflage natural beauty and by talking to her it is clear that what she craves most is for people to play to their strengths. What eye colour do you have and what makes that "pop"? You have a beautiful skin tone, what shades fully complement your natural canvas? Bambi lashes? Fantastic. Take a long look in the mirror and pick out some highlights that are unique to you, and that is the perfect place to begin your journey.

There is real sense that this brand is not heavy on the "hard sell". Sara creates a sense of freedom and fun with her products and wants you to feel right at home as you discover her range and what may work best for you. I adored the "product play area" where you can try on different shades and finishes to your heart's content at the large vanity table. Her helpful team are on hand to provide guidance with your choices or handy hints for application but there is no feeling that someone's eyes are constantly over your shoulder, and that is what I really love.

Sara and her team want you to feel free to create your own style using her range and find the best version of yourself.

The Print

As with all best ideas, it is always smart to get things down on paper, right? Welcome HOPE ST. Another branch of the Sara Hill empire. This publication offers cultural expression within the fashion industry via a team of highly skilled influencers. It is as much a visual spectacle as it is a joy to read. A style handbook for those who like to veer a little "off piste" and a team that embrace dynamic, innovative thinking whilst remaining grounded and refreshingly honest with their readership. A vibrant voice that challenges the creatives of today and inspires those that are to come. The future looks bright for HOPE ST, and you can pick up your copy at WHS Smith or a number of individual stockists.

The Products

Her base was the original "baby" and things took off from here. I am currently trialling the Velvet Sheer foundation for myself and enjoy its liquid-y texture, light, smooth and hydrating finish. Perfect for a little coverage where you need it or build this up in thin layers. Sara then branched out into colour and this is celebrated in her playful range of lipsticks, lipglosses, pigments, glitters and eyeshadows.

The bases and lip colours are packed full of good ingredients such as Vitamins A, E, B5, Panthenol, Soy Bean Extract, Shea Butter, Avocado and Jojoba. So whilst they look visually stunning you can also rest assured that you they are being kind to your skin. Yes!

I have personally tried a few items from the range, so here are my top picks:

Luxury Face Primer-I haven't used many primers in the past but this is a lovely skin treat to use after skincare and under your normal base. It leaves that "lit from within" glow that all beauty aficionados crave. Perfect for those casual make-up days to give a hint of dewiness to your complexion or to act as a smooth base for your usual foundation routine. This primer keeps things radiant and will help your face feel fresh from 9 til' 5 and beyond.

Lipstick (shades Valentina and Dozen Roses)-Lip products are where Sara starts to come into her own. If you are after a sheer wash of colour or something neutral there are plenty other avenues to turn to. She simply wants to have fun with it and has created a selection of vibrant choices to completely transform your look. "Dozen Roses" is a deep rose shade in a creamy matte formula that leaves a strong pop of colour with a hydrating finish. Don't be afraid to opt for matte, as these lippys will ensure that the moisture is locked in with no flakes or crumbles. "Valentina" amps things up a notch with a deep cerise pink.

Blush (shade Orchid)- Blush is amongst my favourite of all beauty products. This soft rose, baked mineral blush is highly pigmented and gives instant radiance for a fresh face.

The Pop-Ups

Keep your eyes peeled, Sara Hill are planning some pop-ups shops in a town near you. Top locations are Aberdeen, Edinburgh (of course) and London town. Make sure to follow her to keep up to date so that when she rolls in, you will have your purse ready...

There you have it.

I have high hopes for all happenings on Hope Street. So, when are you going to visit or what will be in your first order? Time to make-up your mind...

Where do I go for more info?
Sara Hill Make Up
93 Hope Street
Fourth Floor
Rm. 308
Central Chambers
(Opposite from Central Station)

Twitter: @sarahillmakeup
Instagram: @sarahillmakeup
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