"Betty Leopard": April 2012

Thursday, 26 April 2012


I recently received an email from a PR company about the relaunch of the Biore skincare range.
While I've known of the brand for a long time, I don't think I've ever used any of their products before. However, as I am becoming increasingly obsessed with skin care, particularly more' age appropriate' skin care, I was intrigued by this relaunch.

The press release begins;
"Blemishes? Blackheads? Tired of cleansers that fail to effectively cleanse your skin or leave skin dry and irritated?"

To be honest, yes I am. I still suffer from outbreaks even though I'm in my mid-20s, and the cleansers I always relied on as a teenager are now too harsh for my skin and can often make my blemishes look worse.
Biore claim their products will help "break the cycle of problem skin" by "working effectively" to "remove dirt without causing an imbalance in natural moisture levels" and also "fitting in to our hectic schedules".

There are seven products in the range, available from Boots and Superdrug amogst other places: Bioré® Deep Cleansing Pore Strips £7.99, Bioré® Makeup Removing Towelettes £3.99, Bioré® Ultra Deep Cleansing Pore Strips £7.99, Bioré® Blemish Fighting Ice Cleanser £4.99, Bioré® Warming Anti-Blackhead Cleanser £4.99, Bioré® Pore Unclogging Scrub £4.99 and vBioré® Combination Skin Balancing Cleanser £4.99. 

Now, obviously, I'm not going to take the word of a press release for granted, and I wouldn't expect you too either! (Especially not one that equates 39.15% to 'nearly half', I'm a scientist and would lose any credibility if I made a similar claim in my work!).
But, never fear dear readers! I have been sent a couple of the products to try out; the make-up removing wipes and deep cleansing pore strips. I've always wanted to try the pore strips, so am particularly excited I get to give these a go. I'll be playing with the products over the next few days before I write a review of them for you.

Biore also now have a YouTube channel with videos about a couple of the products; the pore strips, make-up wipes and balancing cleanser. Here's the pore strip video for you to find out a bit more about them before I let you know what I think.

Have any of you ever used Biore products before? What did you think?

Hope you are well,

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Adventures of Aslan the Lion Dog

Not a Narnia story I'm afraid, but a post about how my boyfriend Pete and I rescued a stray Chow-Chow in our local park.

It was while we were walking our own dog Alf when we first saw the Lion Dog. He was so furry and looked so much like a lion it was hard not to notice him. He wandered past us and continued on down the path, and it quickly became clear that there wasn't anyone with him. Both Pete and I are great animal lovers, and Pete is a bit of a dog expert (having studied wolves for years and working at our local Blue Cross rescue centre), so we decided we should follow and get hold of the Lion Dog as no-one else seemed to care that he was clearly alone.

Aslan The Lion Dog - Their tongues are supposed to be that colour, it worried me too :/
Unfortunately, it turns out Chow-Chows are naturally suspicious of strangers, which made getting hold of him quite a task. We must have pursued him for 20 or 30 minutes before he began to get too hot and tired to keep ahead of us. Alf wasn't massively helpful either, as every time we got near Aslan (as Lion Dog came to be known) he would try and rush at him to play/defend us and scare him off. Eventually, he did give up and sat down in a really muddy ditch to cool down.
I held Alf a good distance away while Pete approached Aslan to get hold of him and read his collar. Aslan was still a bit wary, but eventually let Pete take hold of him collar and read his tag. We rang both numbers on the tag with no answer, but left messages to let the owner know we had found their dog. We did consider phoning the local Dog Warden, but instead felt it would be better to keep Aslan with us and take him home until his owner got in touch. As we don't generally carry a spare lead, we put Aslan on Alf's lead and I used my studded belt looped through Alf's harness to walk him. We must have looked pretty ridiculous :/
We got Aslan back to our flat and tried washing him down a bit in the garden, as he had got quite a lot of mud in his lovely long fur. Fortunately it was a nice day so we stayed outside with the dogs as our flat isn't huge and Aslan was a pretty big dog. Alf wasn't too sure he liked having a new big dog on his property, but coped pretty well all-in-all. The owner rang us back a bit after 5pm after she finished work. She was quite flustered as our message was the first she knew of her dog having wandered off. He had clearly escaped from the back garden where he had been left.
Turns out his name was actually Bailey, but I still prefer Aslan.

Me, Alf and Aslan
I think he liked me :)
Alf wasn't too sure about having another dog in his garden
Pete and Aslan
He was a beautiful dog, and very friendly once he knew we were ok. I kinda missed him after he had gone. Although, I am glad Alf is only small, a dog that big would take some getting used to - he almost pulled me over on a few occasions. He was a bit slobbery too, which I wasn't a fan of, my jeans went straight in the wash :/ And all that hair! I have enough trouble coping with mine, I'd hate to think how much care that mighty mane would need.
Alf was definitely glad when Aslan had gone. Jealous little pup :)

A few days afterwards, Emma, Bailey/Aslan's owner, came round with a bottle of wine, huge box of Thornton's chocolates and a toy and some treats for Alf, to say thank you. While we really didn't do it for any reward, I wasn't going to turn down chocolate! Maybe we should rescue dogs more often....


Saturday, 21 April 2012

Hannah Banana: THE Vegan Cake Lady

Recently, I was lucky enough to win a competition run by Hannah Banana Bakery to celebrate her reaching 2000 Facebook followers. My prize was a 9 inch cake of my choice!
Hannah Banana Bakery is based in Southampton and is run by Hannah who single handedly creates beautiful  cakes, cupcakes, cakepops, cookies, cheesecakes, wedding cakes and even chocolates, that are all vegan and can also meet other dietary requirements such as being gluten free, sugar free or soy free! I have followed her on Facebook for a long time and her cakes are always amazingly creative, beautifully decorated and consistently receive fantastic reviews. In March this year she even won first prize in the Vegan Cupcake category at Bournemouth Cupcake Camp!
I am super envious of her, not only because her cakes look and taste better than mine, but because she started training and setting the business up while still finishing her PhD - I'm in the final 9 months of my PhD and I can't imagine doing anything alongside it, I only just manage to squeeze in blogging!!

For my prize I selected a red velvet cake with 'cream cheese' frosting, but it was a hard choice as she has a fantastic range of yummy flavours. It wasn't for a particular occasion, I just love cake, so booked my prize in for the earliest available time (as a one-woman show, and being in high demand, she can get quite busy so it's wise to make a booking well in advance!). I collected my cake, I'm not sure but I think all large cakes need to be collected, but her smaller treats can be posted, even her cupcakes thanks to some pretty ingenious packaging!

The cake was beautifully presented and came in a great box that I am totally going to reuse, she even finished it off with cute little red heart sprinkles and a 'Made with Love' ribbon. My cake was very simple so is by no means any measure of her talent (check out the gallery on her website to see just some of her amazing decorating skills!), but I still loved it!
Obviously, with a cake, looks are important but are far from everything. Some people may be suspicious of vegan cakes, but you shouldn't be, especially not if they're made by Hannah. Honestly, if you didn't know, I doubt you would notice any difference between a vegan cake and a 'normal' cake. The texture was great, not heavy or cloying, really moist and very, very yummy - I could probably have eaten a whole bowl of the frosting (not that the cake wasn't good, but I bloomin' love frosting!!). I had intended to share it with work colleagues, but instead my boyfriend and I polished it off all by ourselves  :/ (over a few days, not all in one go).

Hannah is really lovely and so hard working, and she produces great results! I will definitely be buying cake from her again, and will recommend her far and wide. If I can come up with a good idea, I would love to commission her to make my birthday cake :)
I'm also going to be lucky enough to learn some of Hannah's decorating skills, as she's been kind enough to donate her time to run the cupcake decorating at my WI group, the Sotonettes, next week. I am very excited.

Hannah has a blog where you can keep up to date with her new cake recipes and ideas, her seasonal creations and events where she will be selling cakes. She also posts vegan recipes on Lasthours.org.uk - here.
Thank you so much Hannah! I tried to think of a good Bon Jovi reference to get in here somewhere, but I just couldn't make it work :/ Hannah- her cakes are tres bon (jovi).........

Hope you are all having a good weekend,

PS. Apologies for the lighting in the pictures, my flat is so dark but my flash is so bright :/

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Vintage Nation

Vintage Nation, from the people behind Judy's Affordable Vintage Fair, is being held at Brighton Racecourse on Saturday June 9th 2012 (10am til 11pm).
I really want to go, but at the moment, haven't found anyone to come with me, so I thought I'd put some feelers out to see if any of you lovely people would be interested.
There will obviously be vintage shopping, but also vintage cars, live music, vintage hair styling and make-up, burlesque, a village green (brought to you by Crabbies), a man-made beach, G&T's, champagne, DJs, dancing and the promise of fireworks!
Check out both the Facebook page and event.

Let me know if you're interested, or already going! I think it looks like a fantastic day out :)

Friday, 13 April 2012

Get the Look (Beauty)

Last week I put up a post about Look Beauty finally being available online, having launched their own website.
I've been waiting for Look Beauty to be available online pretty much since in launched towards the end of last year, but no Superdrug near me stocked it and , despite regularly asking, they never got around to putting it on their website. So, when I heard they had got their own website, I headed straight over and started picking out things to try!
While I haven't been able to try or even see any of the range 'in the flesh', I've seen and heard plenty about it online - through both the Look Beauty Facebook page and other blogs.
I was most keen to try out their Nail Pop nail polishes, as I'm a bit of a nail polish addict, and their Double Hit Lip lipstick and gloss, as I liked the novel combination of lipstick and gloss in one product. In the end I ordered 2 Nail Pops, one in a pinky-coral shade called Ribbon and another in a purple shade called Flares, and a Double Hit Lip in Pink Punch, a bright hot pink :)
Delivery was really quick, especially as we've had the epic Easter Bank Holiday weekend, and it was nice to get my hands on my products so quickly! They arrived a few days ago now, so I've had a bit of time to play with them. As I was one of the first 100 people to place an order through the site I also received a free Stretch Factor mascara!

The nail polishes were the first thing I tried out. It's been ages since I last painted my nails, partly because I'm a bit bored of all the colours I have and don't think any of them are particularly Spring-y. I like these two shades, they feel quite spring appropriate but without being too pastely, I'm still not convinced I can pull of pastels. The polishes have quite a thin consistency, not that that's a bad thing, it's easy to start off with a thin coat and then build up. I often find I make an awful mess with thick polishes anyway. I got a good opaque finish in 2 coats still. They dry really quite quickly and have a really high gloss finish, although I would be interested to see them under a matte top coat too. I only painted them yesterday, so they haven't had to suffer much wear and tear, although I did do the washing up earlier and they're still fine!

I bloody love the Double Hit Lip!! The colour is fab and the product is easy to use. I was expecting the lipstick to give a bit more of a matte finish, but I still like the slight gloss it has. I've been wearing the lippy with gloss over the top all day and have only reapplied once, after lunch, so it's standing up quite well. It definitely wouldn't last long in kissing situations though :/ I think, personally, I would always use the two together, but you can easily mix it up between just lipstick, just gloss or combining them.

The mascara is also really nice. I don't actually change mascara brand a lot, I've been using Max Factor Masterpiece or Masterpiece Max for ages. I like the formula, the brush and the finish. I often can't get on with mascaras with standard brushes anymore. The Look Beauty Stretch Factor has a variation on the Max Factor type brush being made of plastic 'spikes' rather than the more traditional bristles. I find I get a more even application, fewer clumps and better lash definition with these brushes. The Stretch Factor brush is also a bit strange having longer spikes on one side, for upper lashes, and short on the other, for corners and lower lashes (I presume anyway). Given how devoted I have been to Max Factor, the fact that I'm impressed by this one is actually a really good sign!

Please excuse my awful eyebrows :/
So, overall, I'm really impressed with Look Beauty. I will be making many more purchases in future (maybe not this month though :/). Has anyone else checked out their website yet?

On another note; what do you think of the slideshow? I was just messing around with new features I found on Photobucket, is it too much?

Hope you're well,

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Books I Love: One Day

I might be a bit late to the party on this one; but I love this book!
I hadn't heard of it before the movie came out, as much as it pains me to admit it. At first I wasn't keen, I'm very resistant to jumping on band waggons, but in the end it just sounded like too good a read. It's taken me a while to get through it, not because I haven't enjoyed it but because I struggle to find time to read. If anything, I've gone out of my way to make extra time to read it because I enjoyed it so much!

I obviously won't go into too much detail, as I don't want to spoil it for anyone. The book tells the story of two characters, Emma and Dexter, on the same day every year from the day of their graduation from uni and for 20 years afterwards. They remain friends but develop their own lives and go through all the things you would expect in life; partners, jobs, friends, marriages, children, highs and lows. It was so well written and I found I really related to so much of it, being someone in my mid-twenties trying to find my place in the world. There is also so much emotion in it, as I said, both highs and lows. In one part, it was so sad I was on the verge of tears and had to put the book down.
I would recommend this book to everyone. The balance of the male and female characters means I think both men and women could really engage with the story. If you're not a reader, I guess I would say see the movie, although I haven't seen it myself. I'm afraid I am one of those people who almost always thinks the book is better than the movie, so I'm torn as to whether I want to watch it or not. I'm also really not a big fan of Anne Hathaway, so it seems unlikely. But I really love the story, so I still might crack.
Have you read One Day? Any other book recommendations? I've got back into a bit of a reading habit!

Hope you are well,

Friday, 6 April 2012

Take a Look (Beauty)

Some of you may know that I was beginning to get quite annoyed at the fact that Look Beauty, the cosmetics range launched by Look magazine, wasn't available in any Superdrug store near me or on their website.
As such, I was really excited yesterday when I heard that Look Beauty had launched their own website :) I headed straight over and bought two nail polishes (in a pale pink and lilac shade) and one of their Double-Hit Lips, a combination of a lipstick and lipgloss, in hot pink.
I've heard good things about the range from bloggers who do live near a Superdrug stocking the products, so I'm really keen to get my hands on some and try it out for myself.

Nail Pop in Ribbon, Double Hit Lip in Pink Punch and Nail Pop inn Flare

If you've also been deprived of Look Beauty by your local Superdrug, I really recommend you head over to the website - here. They currently have £2 off their lipsticks and the first 100 orders through the site will receive a free mascara (I've no idea how many orders they have had so far though).

Have you tried any Look Beauty products before? Will you be now they're available online?


JolieBox March

In the comments made on my last GlossyBox post, I kinda came to the conclusion that beauty boxes weren't all they were cracked up to be and that I'd probably be better off putting £10 in a jar every month then buying myself something I actually want.
Despite that, so far, I have still held on to my last remaining beauty box subscription - JolieBox. 
At the end of last year, the French company JolieBox took over the UK beauty box service Boudoir Prive. The  first JolieBox came out in December and was very impressive, including a full size OPI shatter polish, New CID lipgloss and concealer brush amongst other things. There was no box in January due to the takeover. The box in February wasn't as amazing as the December box, but with a cute Jane Iredale lip and cheek stain and Macadamia Oil Deep Repair Masque, it was still better than GlossyBox! After my disappointment with GlossyBox, I was fully prepared to be disappointed and want to cancel JolieBox as well. 
When it arrived I was really pleasantly surprised! Four really usable, full sized products, from great brands plus a cute little JolieBox makeup bag mirror. 

I received a Yardley Body Wash in English Lavender, Eyeko Eyeliner in Plum, an LCN Nail Polish in a pearlescent white shade and a Davines Authentic Moiturising Balm, as well as the little mirror.
I love all of these products. 

Yardley are a great, long standing British brand renowned for luxury bath products, so it's pretty hard to complain about receiving a full size bottle of their body wash - especially as I love the smell of Lavender, it's so relaxing!

I received another Eyeko eyeliner in the February GlossyBox, but fortunately this was a different colour. Called Plum it's a purpley-red brown shade, I'm not sure when I'll use it, but I like it. 

I hadn't heard of LCN Nail Polishes before, but I love nail varnish and there are very few colours I wouldn't be able to find a use for. While the shade I got doesn't knock me off my feet with excitement, it's certainly a welcome addition to my collection.

I also had never heard of Davines before receiving this box. The balm can be used on you body, face or hair for intense moisturisation. So far I've only used it on my arms. It smells nice and applies really easily, but I don't understand why you're supposed to wash it off after applying it?

The box also contained the first issue of JolieMag, a small magazine produced by JolieBox with features about new beauty products and trends. I liked the magazine, it was well put together and was interesting to flick through. It was nice that it wasn't completely full of high end products that I'd never dream of buying, and the feature introducing some of the JolieBox team was a nice touch.

As I really liked this box, I'm holding on to my subscription for at least another month, but am prepared to cancel if the next box isn't as great. 
I do have one question though. What's the bag all about? All the items come inside a bag inside the box that characterises beauty box services, but I don't see why.

Does anyone still care about Beauty Boxes, or was it just a fad that has passed? I think if/when I fall out with JolieBox it'll be the end of my dealings with beauty boxes, at least for a while. I still really like the surprise of receiving a box of goodies in the post and finding out about new products, but the thoughts about saving the money and putting it towards something I know I want and will enjoy - it's not like I don't have a wish list as long as my arm!!


Thursday, 5 April 2012

Jeepers, Creepers!

I've developed a bit of an obsession with creepers. At first I wasn't really sure I liked them, now I'm pretty sure I love them!
There are also loads of new takes on the creeper format that have helped grab my attention - creepers, patterned creepers, flatforms, wedge creepers. The fact that I have been so poor and can't even remember when I last bought shoes probably hasn't helped, even the sight of some basic black ballet pumps could probably send me into a shoe lust frenzy right now!!
There are two specific pairs of creeper style shoes that have made it onto my wish list, they're both very different styles (and prices) which makes them so hard to choose between!

I expect the leopard print flatforms are much more practical, both for my bank balance and for actually wearing. As gorgeous as the wedge creepers are, I'm not sure I could walk in them - it's not the height as much as the thickness of the sole. I've heard creepers can be difficult to get used to, and I'm a little worried they'll make me walk like an absolute goon!
I've got a little bit more money at the moment than I've had recently, so some new shoes may be on the horizon - the wedges might be a bit too expensive for now though :/

There's also part of me that wants to go back to good old trust converse hi-tops. I practically lived in the things through uni, but gave up on them after my last pair self destructed in favour of more girly flats and pumps. Looking through old photos today, I really miss having such a good go to shoe!

None of these are very spring/summery are they? I'm not a big fan of my feet, so the idea of sandals or anything strappy is a bit of a non-starter for me!

Does anyone own any creepers? What are they like for walking in?


I've been a very bad blogger lately, sorry!
Between working and my WI commitments I've had very little time or energy for blogging :( Any blog energy I have had has gone into setting up a blog for my WI, to be honest, it's ended up looking better than this one! www.sotonettes.wordpress.co.uk

Despite my poor commitment to this blog, yesterday I passed 100 followers! I wanted to thank you all so much, from my first follower to my most recent ones. It means so much to know that you read and enjoy my blog. I've built up quite a lot of ideas for posts I want to write, so hopefully I'll be a more regular blogger and deserve your following again.
In the next week or so I hope to put together a little giveaway to celebrate passing 100 followers and thank you all for your support :)

I hope you have been keeping well,