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My ‘surf holiday’ essentials

On a whim I booked a holiday to go surfing in Portugal which is approaching imminently. As pay-day cometh very soon (the only day of the month where I raise my hands to the sun in quavering praise akin to Rafiki with a lion cub) I thought you all might like to know what is on my shopping list:

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1) Serena 50s Palm Tree Dress – currently on offer in Fat Face and perfect for those casual nights out in the summer sunshine
2) A good book – I’ve been recommended The Book Thief (helpfully) and Dr Seuss Green Eggs & Ham (unhelpfully) … any suggestions appreciated (!)
3) Topshop earrings – Love the colour pop of these earrings which will set off a tan perfectly
4) Relaxed prints – Adore this entire look… from Urban Outfitters
5) Cute, flat sandals – Like these ones from Nine West
6) A slogan tee – LOVE this from FCUK… makes me feel ‘naughty-cal’

Are you getting paid soon, or perhaps going on holiday? What are you planning on spending?

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How to revise (and not go crazy)

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From – http://zulaikhahatta.tumblr.com/page/6

It seems at the moment that everyone is studying. My little sister is currently in the middle of studying for her A-Levels; I wrote this mainly with her in mind. My best friend is also coming to the end of her degree, another studying for a law post-grad.

It is no little understatement that I hated revising. I generally hate any form or period of time where I’m trapped indoors so the self-enforced social exclusion killed me.

I’m also not very good at long periods of concentrated thought. My mind wonders, I doodle; half an hour later and I’ve drawn an exquisite picture of a dragon rather than my actual work. Unfortunately, pictures of dragons count for nothing in an actual exam (although my Physics AS level – which I spectacularly failed first time round – I gave up half way through and drew a sketch of the guy to my left – which got a big ‘beautiful’ in red pen) so I’m here to give you a couple of hard-earned pointers to help you concentrate and focus on revision. And most importantly, not go mental.

1) Rome wasn’t built in a day
Start early. Trust me.

2) But if you need to build Rome in a day…
We’ve all been there. The sheer Oh-My-God panic followed by despair and gibbering, head scratching and flailing.
Let it wash over you then stop. Yes, you should have started earlier – but no, you can’t invent the time machine. So sit down and write a clear plan of the key points you need to know or cover before your exam. Assign time for each slot. Then learn like a mother. At this point, procrastination isn’t an issue as you should be sufficiently terrified.

3) Look after yourself
When you’ve not seen the sun for 5 days straight there is a very high chance you feel & look like a sh*t sandwich. Don’t give into that feeling. Some days I used to wear nothing but pyjamas all day and eat yesterday’s Chinese takeaway – and then wonder why my concentration was shot. Thing is, if you’re knee deep in a pit of self loathing you will be worrying about the effect of said Chinese on your waistline rather than chemistry… No need to get glam, but make sure you’re scrubbed and clean every morning and dressed – so you wouldn’t feel ashamed if you had to run out and get milk.

4) Life doesn’t stop
Ok, don’t go on a huge bender every night. But if you know you’ve got a heavy one coming up, plan for it in your schedule. If you’re more hungover than a fraggle on crack you aren’t going to want to do calculations at 9am. Similarly don’t let socialising or the gym slip – you’ll need those endorphins for when you feel like textbooks are eating your soul.

5) Finally, it doesn’t really matter..
Honestly, it really doesn’t. As a World Class Olympian of worrying, I can honestly tell you that most of the things that keep you up at night aren’t actually that important. The things that really matter are your family and friends and your general well being – everything else is white noise. A good exam result might mean a easy career path – but a bad one can be character building. Do your best and accept that ‘what will be will be’ – no matter how badly or well it goes.

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Take a moment: May

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Click the jump for FEELINGS, EMOTIONS and all that other stuff, direct from the month of May…

When I first started writing I really didn’t want to blog about personal things if I’m totally honest, but they say writing is a form of exorcism for the mind. With that considered, I thought I’d write a monthly update (originally named Take A Moment by yours truely) as a catch-up on what has been going on. I’ve put these updates as ‘after the jump’ text – so if you don’t want to read them, you don’t have to.

If I cast my mind back a mere couple of months ago it seems phenomenal to see how far I’ve come and how much things have changed for me. I’m now solo, living in central London with new flatmates and a new job – but previously I was coupled up, shacked up and heading nowhere fast.

I don’t really want to write in great detail about my previous relationship – but although I miss the security, I am glad in a way that I had the strength to end it. However comforting something might be & however much you care about the person, if it saps your energy and makes you feel small & insignificant it probably isn’t a good thing. Illusion and time are powerful blinkers.

It has all served to make the last month sharply more real; like the optician switching the lenses at an eye test. “Which is clearer?” I can’t shake the fact that I’ve not really been living life properly and to the fullest for a long time. Everything feels more real; from a simple walk to work to choosing what I’ll have for dinner. A couple of days ago, I booked a holiday solo to Portugal to surf; something I never would have dreamed I’d have the confidence to do before.

Everyone has said to me – meet someone new, go dating, meet up with exes or old flames or people that nearly-where-but-never-happened – but to be honest the one thing that this has taught me is that isn’t what life is about. Which isn’t to say that boys are out of the equation either, but more to realise that partnering up with someone should not be a life goal, however pressurised I’ve felt into doing it by others in the past. I want to just be me – and if someone thinks I’m awesome enough to come along for the ride, I’m not going to tell them to go away just for the sake of it. (Isn’t it the case that people seem to fall into two camps – the omg-you’re-25-your-ovaries-are-wasting-away and men-are-the-devil-FEAR-THEM…)

I’m hurting too – friends have abandoned me (the perils of dating within a set social circle) and people I thought would stand by me have shown their true colours. After living with someone for two years, you are amazed to find how many buddies have dropped off the face of the earth and how few people have stuck by you. I don’t blame them. Wherever I go next, I will never let someone forceful deprive me of my friends or define who I am. I have good days and bad days – days where the hours roll by and I seem to be stuck in a constant inertia, and days where I’m genuinely happy & productive. I’m not going to lie, today hasn’t been the latter, but I feel immeasurably better after writing this.

So now is a time for healing, for licking wounds and patching up grazes; for looking after myself and making the best of myself. For the first time (in what feels like 5 years – two relationships back to back) it is time to actually figure out what it’s all about. Yes, it scares the bejesus out of me, but I hope it will be a marvellous adventure.

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Honey glazed Paprika sticky ribs

The weather in London has been absolutely beautiful over the weekend – but I’ve been somewhat of a homebody over the past couple of days, staying in with the windows open. I’m not sure what has come over me as I’m normally the outdoorsy type, but as we’ve got a balcony I’ve been making sure to eat all my dinners there.

Anyway, Saturday had rolled around and I found myself hankering for a good, old fashioned rib ‘n’ burger mashup. Without a to-hand American diner, this was the next best thing. This is a great little recipe if you have a barbeque on the go, but if not never fear – you can use a griddle pan or a wide-bottomed pan with good results too.

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Firstly buy some good quality pork ribs with lots of meat round the bones. I got a good deal on mine from Sainsburys, but if I had my time again I’d definitely walk down to my local butcher, The Ginger Pig.
Cover them with garlic salt, and leave to come to room temperature. If you can, sit them, packet still on, in a warm, shallow bottomed roasting tray full of hot water – this will soften the meat. Garlic salt can be grabbed at most supermarkets, but I’d advise you make your own – mash 2 cloves of garlic with rock salt and a little bit of olive oil.
Next for the cooking. Heat olive oil in the pan (or stoke the barbie) and coat the ribs with Paprika. Wait until the oil is smoking and then add the ribs. Give them the once over so the outside has caught, then turn down the heat.
Next, drizzle Agave Nectar onto your ribs. Coat one side first, allow to cook, then spin over and repeat. Use agave nectar if you can – it’s low GI and doesn’t burn like honey does – not such an issue for barbeque cooking, but I don’t want your kitchen smoked out!
Now leave the ribs to do their funky thing in the pan – or leave a man to, er, ‘man’ the barbeque (nothing pleases a man more than waving a pronged instrument at a smoking barbeque wearing a dodgy apron – TRUST)
Now, ribs aren’t the healthiest thing for your waistline, I’m not going to lie. So we’ll make it a bit better with a healthy salad.
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This is a thai-inspired fusion salad, with mango, rocket, chillis, cherry toms, cucumber and a healthy drizzle of lime juice. It’s zippy and HOT and the perfect partner to the fatty, honey-fied ribs.
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All you need to do now is lovingly plonk the ribs ontop of your salad and serve with a big glas of wine (or in my case, raspberry & cranberry juice as I’m off the booze)

What do you think of my first recipe? Would you like to see more on my blog?

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Montagne Jeunesse – Skin Heroes

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When I was contacted by Neil from Montagne Jeunesse I simply could not say no to a cheeky review – as these products literally were the first ever beauty & skincare product I ever bought. I distinctly remember being 15 and going into Superdrug and being bowled over by the beautiful ladies with fruit on their faces and desperately wanting to be them (!) Now I’m a little older and wiser and keen to see how they measure up to more premium products.

This range are called their ‘Skin Heroes’ – their strapline “With great power comes great skin” was a little nod to my geeky side which made me laugh. They are suitable for veggies and use all natural ingredients. I actually had no idea of their green credentials which really impressed me!
1) Shine Control mask – The smell of this one is delicious. I had to stop myself from eating it (I doubt it would have been pleasant) my skin felt really taught afterwards and the little treatment moisturiser afterwards was lovely.
2) Breakout mask – This comes in a 2 step treatment of mask, then moisturiser. This is possibly my favourite of the bunch, as I really love a deep-cleansing mask that you can feel working. It also features one of the more daft pictures of the bunch – the girl looks thoroughly embarrassed to have flowers and leaves on her face!
3) Pore De-Clog strips – I prefer these to my normal Biore ones as they really do draw out the blackheads (not that I get them… ahem) I also am pleased about the minimum packaging involved – many brands would do well to learn from this!
4) Dry Skin mask – This really felt like it was hydrating my skin. Although I think if anything I suffer from combination skin, I reckon if you had dry, saharah desert skin this would be a gem
5) T-Zone Peel-Off – For me this was my least favourite. I could feel it working, but more to the point I really didn’t enjoy the whole peeley-skin thing (!) But if you don’t mind looking like a swamp monster, then you’ll probably really like it.

You can buy the Skin Heroes Montagne Jeunesse range in ASDA. They are very reasonably priced, and if I’m honest more sensible to buy than a huge bottle of premium gunk that you use once or twice and then is consigned to the back of the cupboard. I speak from experience!

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BLOG HOLIDAY

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You may have noticed that I’ve stopped posting. Sorry! I’m on somewhat of a blog holiday at the moment.

This was sparked by me being taken advantage of by a cowboy designer who promptly ripped off another lovely bloggers layout. It was all very upsetting and led to people being snarky. Deciding that I was going to take something positive from this mess, I took the initiative to do something I’ve wanted to do for ages and change my blog name  – and Love Mealie was born.

Love Mealie is the sign-off I write on most of my emails, so I thought it would be super cute to have as a blog name. It’s much more personal and much more about me. It’s somewhat of a rebrand, so for the minute my blog posts have headed back to draft so I can make them more relevant and beautiful. I hope it will lead to a more focused, enjoyable reading experience 🙂

The lovely Faye Marie (aka my personal angel) is redesigning the entire look of this ‘ere blog – so please check back from time to time, and subscribe on Hello Cotton and follow me on Twitter where you’ll be the first to know when everything goes live.

Thanks again for sticking with me 🙂

LOVE mealie x

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French Connection Spring/Summer 2012

Just a super quick post to share with you all the looks currently bouncing around at one of my fave high street stores – French Connection.

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I adore French Connection – I wear and continue to wear every item I’ve bought there. Alongside GAP, Vero Moda and Warehouse, I think it makes up the ‘brand identity’ of my wardrobe. I opt for simplicity, subtle pattern, fun colours, cut and comfort above high-end fashion.

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Spring and Summer are what French Connection do best in my opinion. The combination of happy colours and figure-friendly cuts mean this blogger is chuffed with every purchase. We’re not just thinking of cost here – I know FCUK products are often a little out of the price-range of most students and first jobbers, but I promise you – save up for a couple of key pieces and you’ll see their value in cost per wear. I’m still wearing a £70 dress that I bought over 5 years ago. 5 years! – and I swear I wear it at least twice a month.

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You can see three distinct trends here – monochrome, which comes into it’s own every Spring as us working folk rush to replace our warm-weather work wardrobe. Then a cute, playful look with warm colours, and a more directional, sport-luxe inspired set with cooler colours. A note here – avoid recreating sports luxe with cheaper brands, especially in these colours. It can veer into cheapness, so I’d always recommend a premium brand like FCUK.

Have you got your eye on a high-street store with fashion forward style? Perhaps you’d like me to do a feature? Let me know in the comments!

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NARS Douceur review

Once I found out that I’d got a new job I immediately went out and purchased a couple of make-up pieces that I’d been burning to buy for ages. NARS Douceur was top of my list. I don’t know if you recall my February Favourites video, but in it I talk about having major contouring issues and was using a not-fit-for purpose bronzer.

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Douceur means ‘softness’ in French, and I bought it largely on the strength of a review I read from Meg at Lipssofacto. Once I opened the gorgeous packaging I was shocked to find this dark, ruddy brown powder staring back at me. Zut Alors… I thought this was supposed to be subtle!
Panic over *breathes sigh of relief* Meg was absolutely right. Once I swatched the product on the back of my hand I realised that it is extremely subtle, soft and beautiful. I didn’t take a photo as the light conditions weren’t quite right, but click here to see some fab swatches and blush comparisons from Modesty Brown.
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Once on, the product really comes into it’s own. I honestly think that it would suit most caucasian skin tones, and even with my yellow, sallow skin it made me look fresh faced rather than overdone. I’ve got quite a rounded face naturally, with little definition – but look what a difference it makes on camera!

It’s a really strange colour – a sort of magic-potion if you will – turning from that strange, earthen brown in the pot to a mixture of flattering pinks and browns.

As you can see, it has really sculpted my face, without looking too ‘done’ – I really love this product, and it was worth every penny of the £21 pound I spent.

You can buy NARS douceur by clicking here.

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Lisa Shepherd event & reader offer

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When the lovely Hayley from London Beauty Queen emailed me to let me know about a beauty event that she could no longer attend, I was overjoyed to discover that she wanted myself and Tamsin from Little Glitter to go in her place!

We rocked up to the newly opened Lisa Shepherd salon near Oxford Circus. I’ve popped some photos up of the simply awesome interior. I really love the fact that the salon pops with colour. For too long hair establishments have stuck to the same-old black ‘n’ chintz look that is so outdated – I really like the zing of the yellows, reds and lighting.

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The Lisa Shepherd salon is run by the simply lovely Jason Cocking, who I’ve popped a little photo of on the left. A very talented chap who has styled the hair of Cat Deeley, Nigella Lawson and the Olsen twins (there were little squeals of delight in the room when this fact was revealed!)

Jason gave us a little insight into the ‘mane menu’ offered at the London salon – a trend-led set of services that show off the skills of the hairdressers and really help you to look your best and most fashion forward!

One of the things Jason talked about was the ever popular dip-dye, and the more modern take on it that Lisa Shepherd offer. Instead of a block, one-size fits all approach, they take into account your face shape, hair type and skin colour and create the dip-dye of your dreams!

Jason was absolutely lovely, and you could tell that he was ever so passionate about hairdressing. It was really lovely to see and I thought he was a sweetheart! I can honestly say that I have no doubt that he will be winning London hairdresser of the year very soon.

I plumped for a very perfect finish, which was a cut and style and a little helping hand from one of the experienced hairdressers in the salon. My lovely lady (who I’ve forgotten the name of, which is really annoying as I want to grab her the next time I visit) took one look at my hair and said that I didn’t need to get the back cut, but just a little shaping at the front. I believe this is the mark of a good hair dresser – most see my hair and just want to whip the scissors out, but she understood that I was growing mine, and just needed a little more volume. With a snippety snip of the scissors and some styling (using a product I’m going to review later!) my hair was turned from dull to darling!

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A very happy face because I got my hair ‘did’ at Lisa Shepherd!

Bingo! Here I am! You can see the shaping she created in the front and the volume. I really loved what she had done and I was ever so happy with it!

She suggested that I should try a dip dye and I have to say I am tempted! Maybe I shall be visiting next pay day, and I’ll share the results if I do!

NOW – The lovely people at Lisa Shepherd have allowed me to share a fantastic offer with you all! If you call to make an appointment and quote my old blog name Tigerlily Blog, you will recieve 25% off any treatment and a complimentary shampoo & conditioner! I’d seriously recommend paying them a visit – this is a great offer and I honestly can say they really take into account *you* as a person, rather than treating you like an object. This is something I’ve yet to find in another London salon!

Will you be visiting the Lisa Shepherd salon in London? Perhaps you’d like to try a dip-dye! Do let me know if you go!

 

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Recycled Beauty Box Give-Away

Hi everyone! I’ve been watching the beauty box trend grow with interest. I don’t think I could afford one myself, but I think it’s a great idea to get people involved with brands that they might not have heard of before. So many new start-up brands can’t afford the blanket advertising that the big ‘uns can, so in my mind this levels the playing field a little.

Recycled Beauty Box Give-Away

To celebrate… well, life, in general, and my blog, I wanted to create my very own beauty box to give away – but with a twist. Everything in it will be a ‘recycled’ product – either something I’ve been sent or bought that I’ve not used, or only used the tiniest bit of.

I see so many people selling their once-swatched products in blog sales that I thought I should give away some things for free that hopefully one lucky winner will love! I know it’s not the most ‘glam’ prize, but I’m all about saving the earth and so I thought it would be appropriate for my first give away. Don’t worry, I’ll be checking the dates of everything!

Just as a disclaimer – I don’t mean to be cheap – I’d love to be able to afford some new bits and pieces for you all – but on my current wages I can barely afford to sort myself out! Soon I promise! But in the mean time I thought why not give away a recycled beauty box to say thank you 🙂 Plus recycling is so much better for the planet than throwing things away – and it’s a great idea for you all to get swapping beauty products!

Now! For the rules!

1) To enter, subscribe to my Facebook, YouTube or Hello Cotton. Each will gain you an entry. So if you subscribe to all 3, you get 3 entries!

2) Please leave your email address / twitter handle / YouTube name or whatever you entered with below 🙂 You have to comment so I know you’ve entered!

3) I’ll announce the winner exactly 1 month from now, on the 6th April, on my blog. I’ll contact you first via email!

It really is that simple! I’ve got my fingers crossed for you 🙂

EDIT –  I’m not doing twitter entries because it would be too fiddly to work out! Please leave a comment here to show you’ve entered 🙂

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