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23 February 2015


Last week, my boyfriend and I jetted off on a last minute holiday to Amsterdam as life became a little too hectic and we both deserved a little break away. Taking a well earned holiday from home life is one of the best decisions I've made in a long time!

We stayed in Amsterdam for three nights and our four days there were packed with sightseeing, eating at local restaurants and spontaneously travelling to the south of Holland.

Our sightseeing excursions included Anne Frank's house, the Heineken Experience, Modern Art galleries and a visit to the various museums along the Red Light District. After we had explored the city for two days, we jumped on an early morning train and quick bus transfer, to Efteling Theme park in the south of Holland (more information and photos can be found on Jan's blog HERE). Our week was packed full of activities and I loved every single minute of our adventure away.

I would love to visit Amsterdam again in the future!

Heineken Experience 
Heineken Experience 

En route to Efteling theme park

Selfie in the Red Light Secrets Museum

13 February 2015

Win Your Wedding | Forth One Cash For Kids


A couple of weeks ago, my Dad and his partner, Aileen, spontaneously entered a competition called 'Win Your Wedding'. Annually, my local radio station (Forth One) pay out over £20,000 towards a competition winner's dream wedding. It is a very exciting ordeal - over 300 couples apply for the competition and are then shortlisted to a final 6. There is a twist to the competition though... in order to win, each couple has 12 days to raise as much money as they can for 'Cash for Kids'. Cash for Kids is an Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife based charity who raise money to help children who are disadvantaged through poverty, are sick, or disabled. 

To our surprise, my Dad and his partner have been shortlisted and now the clock is ticking towards the deadline - we have 12 days to raise as much money as we can! 

Dad and Aileen have a lot of exciting things planned for the next 12 days including lots of charity can shakes at popular shopping venues around the city and my Dad has booked a full body wax and head shave in order to raise money for the charity (ouch)!

It's all for a great cause and they need all the help they can get. If you could spare anything at all, it would be appreciated immensely!

For more information about the 'Cash For Kids' charity, click HERE.

To visit Dad and Aileen's profile on the Forth One website, click HERE.

To support Dad and Aileen and to DONATE to CASH FOR KIDS, please click HERE.

Thank you so much!

11 February 2015

Aqua Spinning | #SHHealthyHabits

At the beginning of the year, I was very kindly offered to take part in an Aqua Spinning class in association with Simply Health as part of their Healthy Habits campaign. I woke up to an email about 'Aqua Spinning' one morning and had to re-read the email a couple of times - cycling underwater?! At first I thought it sounded really cool, but many thoughts popped into my head. How do the bikes sink to the bottom of the pool? Does the workout hurt? To be honest, I'm not much of an exercise enthusiast. I remember visiting the gym once last year and spend most of my spare time either blogging or generally doing everything else that doesn't involve exercise, but if there's one physical activity I do love, it's to swim. 

My summer holiday memories are packed with episodes of 'Aqua gym' sessions every morning and afternoon. I LOVE these activities abroad and I've always fancied doing something similar back home. So, when I was contacted, of course I couldn't miss out on the opportunity.

My Saturday evening at the Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh consisted of meeting a whole group of lovely bloggers and a 45 minute underwater spinning class. I absolutely loved every minute of it!

I must admit, before the class I was extremely confused about what to wear. It would seem silly to ride a bike bare footed, and of course my trainers would get ruined underwater. I also wasn't certain how far underwater the bikes would be. I imagined the bikes only half-submerged into the water - enough to just give our legs a good workout. It turns out, they were fully submerged and a swimming costume was definitely on the cards.

We were supplied with special underwater shoes and an option of wearing some gloves to make our arm work out a bit more intense.

When we walked into the pool room, we were met with a bunch of bikes on the pool surface. We were taught how to adjust our bikes - there were certain requirements such as adjusting the saddle to meet our hip to make it more comfortable when it came to the spinning class. We were also instructed to choose how difficult we would like our workout to be. As a beginner, I probably should have opted for the easy setting, but I was feeling determined and propped my bike up to the medium notch.

When we were all prepared, our instructor determined the depth of the pool. This was based on the height of the smallest person in the room, 1.4 metres. The lifeguard set the pool depth and we all watched the bikes slowly submerge into the water.

We swam over to our bikes, strapped our feet into place, chose our music play list to work out to (80's hits) and off we went!

The 45 minute class didn't just focus on toning our legs, as you might suspect. We were moving around in all sorts of positions - standing up on the bike, sitting down and moving our arms everywhere (this involved episodes of 'accidental' splashing - which was a LOT of fun!). We also attempted the 'recumbent' position, which involved floating our bums behind the saddle whilst treading water with our arms to keep our heads on top of the surface. I must admit, I didn't quite get the hang of this and had to put one hand on the saddle to balance myself, but it was still a quirky way to change things up a little.

At the end of the session, we were prompted to sprint on our bikes as fast as we could for 2 minutes (we had worked our way up to this by doing 10 second, 20 second and a minute sprint interval beforehand). I started to get quite out of breath doing this and I could really feel the effects on my legs. 

After our sprint, I noticed something that has made me fall in love with the latest Aqua Spinning craze. Usually when I visit the gym, I always feel a little ill mid-way through a workout. I build up a sweat and genuinely make myself feel a bit sick from over heating too much - this is the main reason I'm not a gym enthusiast. When it comes to Aqua Spinning, however, the water is constantly cooling your body temperature as you work out and I absolutely loved that element of the workout. 

I'll definitely be investing in some more Aqua Spinning sessions at the Commonwealth Pool. Classes run Monday - Thursday and I would thoroughly recommend them.

For all the Aqua Spinning details and statistics, Simply Health have written a great post you can check out HERE.

Thank you Joe Blogs and Simply Health for kindly letting me have a go at Aqua Spinning!

9 February 2015

Full Coverage Foundation Routine

After battling with acne since my early teens, I've slowly began to realise which products suit my skin type best. Since my skin is oily and acne prone, I've always opted for foundations/BB creams for oily/combination skin. However, I realised one main ingredient found in 'acne-prone' foundations is 'salycylic acid', which my skin has not reacted to well at all in the past!

I've stuck by oil-free BB and CC creams over the years as I thought they were my only option. Most heavier coverage foundations I came across almost always contained salicylic acid. 

Throughout my Roaccutane treatment back in 2013, my dermatologist encouraged me to use a mineral foundation to cover my blemishes. Mineral foundation? A powder to cover spots? I never thought for a million years a powder-based makeup would cover all my imperfections. But - I was wrong!

After a bit of researching and a few recommendations of products from twitter followers, I've finally come up with a full coverage foundation routine that is friendly to my sensitive skin and I'm absolutely delighted with the results!

No makeup vs foundation
I currently do not have any active breakouts on my face. My skin is very oily and I have a lot of acne scars from previous breakouts (as you can see in the left image). For me, a perfect foundation is one that is oil-free, contains SPF and does not contain salicylic acid.

The foundation routine I have fallen in love with consists of five products (clockwise from the left):

Real Techniques Multi Task Brush

First, I apply some of my Nivea Oil Free moisturiser as a base. I find this product really helps hydrate my skin without it feeling greasy. It also absorbs into my skin really quickly so I don't have to wait for it to dry for too long before I move onto the next step.

I then apply some of my L'Oreal True Match Concealer to any problem areas. Primarily, these are my under eye circles, redness around my nose and any hyperpigmentation on my cheeks and around my mouth. I use my finger to dab the product into my skin. For any sensitive areas and places where I don't want to rub the concealer in too much, I'll use my ring-finger to do this as it has the lightest touch.

I love this concealer. I find the yellow tone really helps cancel out all my red areas and completely camouflage any breakouts. I have read this product is oil-free so it would be perfect for anyone who has acne prone skin.

The only problem I find is that the range of shades L'Oréal had on their stand was a little disappointing. There were only three shades of this concealer in my local Boots and I find the lightest shade (Vanilla) is a shade too dark for my skin. I just have to be careful not to apply too much, otherwise it can look a little orange!

Finally, I apply my L'Oréal Paris True Match Foundation all over my face, concentrating it mainly on my cheeks to cover any imperfections. I love this foundation as it looks so natural used on its own, or can be part of a full-coverage makeup routine applying concealer underneath. When I'm feeling lazy, I'll sometimes just wear this foundation alone without anything underneath. I can always add another layer for more coverage.

I'm not particularly a huge fan of the brush that came with the foundation, so I tend to use my Real Techniques Multi Task Brush to apply the product in dabbing motions.

To complete the look, I dust over my makeup with some Rimmel London Stay Matte powder. This helps my makeup stay in place all day and prevents any oiliness from creeping through during the day.

This is the finished look!

Let me know if you've tried any of the products I've mentioned in this post. I'd also love to hear what your current foundation routine consists of in the comments!
Copyright @ Alix Staines.