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Next Home Event: Belfast

 
I was delighted to be asked to attend a Next Home event to celebrate the launch of their new TV advert. I am a HUGE Next Home fan and a lot stuff in my home in from Next. They do really good lamps! We firstly went to the Next Home Store situated in Hollywood Exchange. Next is very affordable and they do everything from bed covers to sofas. This is a big store and always great to have a nosey about. Lots of gorgeous yellows and greens for Easter were evident in the store with lilac and purple being big trends for homeware. I was Instagramming from the event (@gemmalebond) so make sure to follow me for future events! Here are some of my favourite items:

I'm in the marker for a new mirror and loved these two. My shirt was from Gap.

We have the vase of this lamp... it's really glam!

I love these huge chairs and this cushion made me giggle!


Lots of lovely spring trends... I love the Smile, Laugh, Play vases!
Gorgeous Merchant ceiling
After we had a nosey in the store (and were kindly given some vouchers to buy some goodies) we all headed to the Champagne Lounge of The Merchant Hotel. The Merchant is one of Belfast's most famous and luxurious hotels so it was a real treat. We were given a look at the behind the scenes look at the making of the new Next Home advert. It looks like it took ages to make but the results were well worth it! It features a very cute dog and lots of amazing homeware (and a good Two Door Cinema Club soundtrack!). Watch it here:



I had such an amazing time at this event. It was probably the best event I've ever had the pleasure of attending. We had such a great time to catch up with fellow bloggers and have a good chat with the team from Next. Thanks a million Next. And what did I get from Next Home I hear you ask?
 
 
A new bed cover! Fabulous :)
 
G x


My Make-Up Storage

I posted a quick snap on Instagram of my makeup storage and everyone seemed interested to see how I store all my makeup. I have SO much stuff (I have a lipstick in every handbag, a makeup bag in my main handbag and a makeup bag for choir). I am trying to de-clutter and use up more products. The little bit of on the top (pictured below) is a piece from Amazon. I am using it for daily use products and things I am trying out. I'd like to think one day I'll just have this when I have all my holy grail products!

Storage topper from Amazon
 The rest of my storage is 2 x 3 stack A4 paper holders from Homebase. Lots of office stuff is perfect for storing makeup! I would love the "Kardashian" storage but it is very expensive for what it is. These drawers are really big and store my stuff well for me. 

Drawers from Homebase

I have the drawers (mostly) organised. The top drawer is face products, 2nd is eye products, 3rd is lashes and eyeshadows, 4th is lip products, 5th is nail polishes and 6th is more nail polish and over flow of face product (bronzers are very blunky to store!). It's great to be able to see what you have but I must admit that the drawers need a good clean every now and then because they get dusty or makeup gets on them easily. 

I store my brushes in a little Hello Kitty tin from Poundland. Not very glam but very handy! I love Real Techniques brushes as you can see! These stay beside my candle above some Benefit face kits (which are amazing but a pain to store!!).


Tell me how you all store your makeup!

G x

George at Asda| West Coast Cooler FashionWeek

West Coast Cooler FashionWeek always seems to come round so quickly every season. I attended the opening of this season which was a show by George at Asda. Belfast Fashion Week is being held in the Ulster Museum which is a great change for the show. Now, don't judge. I've bought some absolute gems from Asda in the past and more people should go for a nosey! Apprently Northern Ireland Asda stores have 40% more custom than the rest of the UK... we love a bargain! Belfast Fashion Week is always a fun time to hang out with fellow bloggers and I lots of laughs with my good friend Avril from School Gate Style. Asda had some amazing pieces, I particularly was taken by a few of the maxi dresses for the summer months (if they ever get here..Belfast weather, eh?). For the show I chose to wear something quite plain. I'd had quite a stressful day so it was a "get dressed and out the door" situation. I embraced the George at Asda theme of the night by wearing a monochrome black and cream shirt from their current range (with a black H&M vest underneath). I teamed this with Primark skinnies (which were £7 and actually fit quite nicely) and my new shoes from Nelly.com. Also how much has my hair grown since I got it cut!? WOW.


Let's just take a moment to appreciate my new shoes. I wanted orange shoes for so long and I spied these on Nelly.com for half price! They have SUPER spikey studs (which can double as a weapon if someone tries to attack me) and they are so comfy! I'll probably never have them off my feet.


I captured this great photo on my iPhone. Yes, you can call me David Bailey.


Avril was also wearing some pretty fabulous shoes last night... I think they were a wee M&S Special!



I hope you are all enjoying fashion week and all the coverage!

G x

Let's Talk About Nails




After a few years of acrylic nails and gel polish, the past few months have been a welcome rest for my little nails. I have quite good nails but I find that polish chips much easier on natural nails and that acrylic nails (strangely) were less hassle! I wish we had more places in Belfast that focused on just normal manicures rather than acrylic or gel nails! We need a cheap mani/pedi place like they have in every mall in the USA!
I have been trying to maintain short square nails. I have been a good girl and pushing my cuticles back every week though I think I need to invest in a cuticle balm to erase them! I picked up a bag of wooden cuticle sticks in my local beauty supply store for £1. I think there is about 20 in the bag so quite a bargain. I've also found that leaving my nails nail-polish free for a few days also makes a huge difference when I get round to painting them. I also buff them every few weeks. Make sure not to over buff your nails as it can make them thin! I file my nails with the Young Nails 150 files. I feel like these are the best file for me because they are quite coarse. Try and buy a good nail file as they can make all the difference to your nails- my BFF's mum swears by the Leighton Denny Glass Nail file (which I must get round to trying!). Remember like every part of your body, your nails need to breathe! Taking your polish, acrylic or gels off once in while and using cuticle oil, hand cream and a treatment such as OPI Nail Envy can make a real difference to your nails. I've also been loving Sally Hansen Nail Thickener for non-nail polish days and it also helps reconstruct the nail.
If you follow me on Instagram you will see that I love painting my nails. I'm not very into nail art (unless I ever get the WAH girls to do them!) and I like very block colours. At the minute I am loving navy nails (China Glaze make a gorgeous colour) and also orange nails (shocker, favourite new colour EVER). Also, as pictured, you can see I have been trying out the Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine polishes. These are supposed to imitate the sheen of a gel polish. I like them as they are thick and easy to apply. They are good value for money and the Lycee (a lovely creamy nude) is a perfect colour for all occasions. The Blueberry colour is also very cute for the spring season. Another thing I have been loving is the new Confetti topcoat by L'Oreal. There has been a lot of chat about speckled nails as a trend for this season and L'Oreal came up trumps with this topcoat. Pop it over any of your polishes to give a "salt and pepper" effect to your nails. This retails for £4.99 which is great and saves you on buying lots of new polishes for the S/S season! The only gripe I have with this is that it is quite hard to remove. I found I had to buff it off as the texture of it is quite coarse.
Make sure to follow me on Instagram @gemmalebond or my Facebook www.facebook.com/thatbelfastgirlblog to see what latest nail colour I am wearing.
What nail trends are you guys loving? Are there any great manicurists in Belfast I should try?
G x



Style at Stormont

Cue a long post... links to everything in black bold writing!
 
Tonight was a super glam and fab event at Stormont Parliament Buildings for Action Mental Health. They are a great charity and celebrating their 50th year of helping people with mental health issues. For this occasion, Stormont has chosen them as "Charity of the Year" and they held an amazing fashion show in the Great Hall to mark the occasion. All the clothes were provided and styled by House of Fraser Belfast and their amazing personal stylist Jemma, models by Style Academy, hair by Peter Mark and makeup by the lovely Paddy McGurgan and his team.
 
 
I was honoured to be asked to speak at the event to talk about my own mental health problems. I suffer from PTSD and it was the first time I'd ever addressed publicly that I had it. I was so scared but I got such a warm reception and it made me feel great. I am very proud to back a charity like Action Mental Health that would help anyone in the same position as me.
 
For the event I thought I would go all out glam- sure why not!? Speaking at Parliament Buildings and doing a Politics degree equated to me being very excited! I had my hair blow dried and set with Cloud Nine "O" rollers by Ashton from Capelli Company in Newtownabbey. I was so pleased with my hair- I love it with loads of body in it! My makeup was done by the main man himself, Paddy McGurgan. After my recent visit to his shop I was so excited to have him work his magic on me. Anyone who knows me well knows I am quite scared of makeup artists because I think I'm a dab hand with the old makeup brush myself, plus I've had so many bad experiences! However, Paddy made me look and feel a million dollars! A really sexy smoky eye with some false lashes was the way to my heart. He knows I love Kim Kardashian! My dress was kindly given to me for the night by House of Fraser Belfast (Thank you to Mark for sorting it out for me!). It is a JS Collection dress and I loved it because it was very flattering to my body shape. My jewellery was Stella and Dot- I wore the Soiree Trio ring and the Petra bracelet which were kindly given to me for the night by my lovely friend and Stella & Dot Stylist Patricia. I wore a very old (but comfy) pair of grey Zara heels.
 
Ready to rock and roll!
 
Selfie. Standard.

Close up!


With my friends Avril from School Gate Style and Stella & Dot Stylist Patricia
 
Thank you for inviting me to speak Action Mental Health. I hope my story inspired someone else to seek help or think about their own mental health.

G x

Eating Out in Belfast #1

I come from a family were we love to eat out. We're more likely to go out for Sunday dinner than cook one ourselves! I have a life long obsession with food and as I get older, I definitely have become more adventurous. This week I ate out in two fabulous places in Belfast and I thought I would share them with you.
 
Avoca Belfast
Last Sunday my friends Emma, Claire and I decided to go for a spot of lunch (after running frantically around the shops looking for Mother's Day presents). We ended up in one of Belfast's cutest shops, Avoca, which is based on what now is one of the most trendy spots in Belfast. With Paperchase, Cath Kidston and Jack Wills all facing Avoca on Arthur Street, it is reminiscent of lots of my favourite places in London. Avoca is a great place to visit for lots of beautiful Irish homeware as well as clothing, newly released Butter London polishes and a huge amount of sweet treats (such as Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Brownies) which are all available to take away. Buried upstairs are two eateries- one less formal one for a coffee and a fabulous salad bar and one which is a bit more formal but with a great kitsch feel. We opted for the more formal restaurant as we fancied something a bit heartier than a salad or sandwich. My friend Claire had an amazing meal of calamari. I'm a recent calamari convert and usually any where I go, it usually involves a few bits shoved in the middle of a plate but not at Avoca! Claire's meal came with a huge bowl of calamari which had been coated in breadcrumbs and fried with spring onion and chili. This was also served with a side salad and two dips on a giant cheeseboard. Needless to say, I wish I would have ordered this! I however opted for the pasta of the day. This was spinach and ricotta tortellini with a cream and walnut sauce served with shaved Parmesan. It was absolutely gorgeous and very filling. Emma had already had her family lunch before we went shopping so she opted for a smoothie of pineapple, coconut and mango and a lovely blueberry scone which came with jam, cream and butter. We also had some chips to share which are cooked in duck fat and were incredible! Overall, it was an absolutely amazing meal. The service was brilliant and the meal was very well priced. Avoca Cafe would be a great place for a family lunch or for a date- it's cute and the food is fab. I think I'll be returning very soon!

My gorgeous pasta

Yummy smoothie packed with fresh fruit!
 
 
House of Zen St. Anne's Square
Last night, we booked to go to House of Zen in St. Anne's Square (which is a beautiful area with the MAC and lots of yummy eateries) for my friend's 21st birthday. So us five girls ran (in the rain) to get inside to be met by an amazing interior. Very authentically Chinese but still very  modern.  We were seated at a booth which we really loved- there is nothing worse than a long table and feeling like you can't have a proper conversation! None of us had ever been to House of Zen before so we were excited to try it. We opted to share a bottle of wine before dinner and ordered some chicken satay, spring rolls and ribs to share for a starter. The chicken satay was particularly tasty. For my main meal I ordered rib eye steak rolls which were stuffed with asparagus (my favourite vegetable!) covered in a sizzling peppercorn sauce. I also ordered some salsa potatoes (which were more like potatoes in Peking sauce!) as a side. My main meal was so tasty and a very generous portion. All the other girls enjoyed their meals too. One of the girls ordered pork belly and it looked absolutely amazing! The service at Zen was great- someone laid napkins on our knees prior to the meal and we were given hot cloths to clean our fingers after our starters. Little touches like this really make such a difference when dining out. Our bill came in at just over £100 which for 5 people, a bottle of wine and some starters was pretty fabulous! If you love Chinese food, I urge you to try House of Zen. Their food is not atypical Chinese but it definitely delights the taste buds. The food was so good (and it also was a Friday night and I was starving) that I forgot to take pictures!

Also a special mention goes to the Northern Whig were we hit up last night after Zen for some cocktails... they are £4 all day on a Friday!
 
Any good recommendations of where I should try in Belfast soon?
 
G x

The Benefit University Tour hits QUB

I'm a proud Queen's University Belfast girl. I'm in my final term of my Politics degree so I'm both excited and nervous. Today I took some time out of my very busy study schedule to hang out with lots of lovely Benefit ladies for a great cause. Benefit is a great make-up brand and they love to try and give back so they teamed up with Women's Aid Ireland for a university tour around Ireland. Their final stop was Queen's University so they parked up the pink Benebus bus outside our Student's Union and set to work. The bus is so cute- like an ice-cream van that you can get your brows done in! I had my brows and makeup done which was my first time having both done by some Benebabes. Megan (who did my makeup and is based in the Debenhams Benefit) put some eyeliner on my top lashes which I NEVER wear but it made me fall in love a bit! After my little make-over, I took to the streets with a megaphone to "encourage" (ok, I might have shouted "Hey good looking" at more than one boy...) to promote what we were doing. Make-up, brows and cut price makeup items were all on the menu and ALL the profits were going to Women's Aid.



My makeup and brows
With Simon who drove the Benebus bus around Ireland!

In the evening, there was a little "party" up in The Space of the QUB Student Union. More makeup and brows only with champagne & cupcakes from Life is Sweet and our good friend The Lily Pink Bakery, a quiz (our team The Bella Bambas won!) and lots of good girly chat along with some advice from Women's Aid.


Well done to the team at Benefit for a fantastic event for a great cause. A special well done to Caoimhe- what a trooper!

G x

GlamGlow Review



 
I'd been reading reviews for months about a product called GlamGlow which is an exfoliating mud mask for your face. I love exfoliating my skin as I feel it makes a noted difference to how my skin looks and feels so I was interested to see how this would work for me. GlamGlow aims to give a glowing complexion for 3 days so I became very curious if it would do anything for me. I consider myself to have quite normal skin- a bit dry in winter and a bit more greasy in the summer months with the odd hormonal break out. My lovely friend's over at Marks & Spencer have just started to stock GlamGlow so they kindly sent me over a "Little Sexy" (15ml) to try out. It retails for £22.50.
 
The pros
This little pot has enough for I would say 3-4 faces of the mask. I applied it  when I came out of the shower and removed about 10 minutes later. It hardens and turns from a grey colour to an off white colour. It feels grainy and has a very distinct smell to it. A lot of people had reported it feeling very stingy but I felt it was more just of a "thermal heat" feeling than anything. I applied it with my finger tips and removed it with a warm muslin cloth. I definitely felt a huge difference in my skin- it felt smoother to the touch. I didn't notice a huge difference in how my skin looked until I applied my makeup. My makeup just sat beautifully and I felt like I had just had a facial. This product seems idea for all facial lovers. I LOVE facials but they require free time and the good ones are usually a bit pricey so GlamGlow is a fabulous alternative. I also used GlamGlow a second time but only applied it across my t-zone. This was a great way to highlight the areas of skin where I would have the most problems.
 
The cons
For £22.50 you only get 15ml of product which means it works out about £7.50 per use which is quite expensive. However, it is good compared to some high end brands. It can also be a bit tricky to apply with your hands. I ended up with more of it behind my nails than on my face! Using an old makeup brush (foundation probably would be best) to spread it evenly would be a great idea.
 
Overall, I liked GlamGlow. I like the concept of it and I liked the effect it gave. Would I re-purchase it? I don't know. I think it is definitely a great product to use prior to a wedding or formal and is a great alternative to a facial. I think I would re-purchase if I had something really important to attend!
 
Have any of you tried GlamGlow or are interested to try it now?
 
G x 

House of Fraser Belfast celebrates its 5th birthday!

House of Fraser in Victoria Square is opened 5 years this month. It's hard to believe! It's also really hard to imagine Victoria Square not being there either. Belfast was such a different city without it. To celebrate 5 years of House of Fraser Belfast I've picked my 5 favourite things about the store- let me know what yours are!

Mary Portas
A woman that doesn't need an introduction at all! Her range at House of Fraser has wowed me over the past year. It's a bit pricey but the quality is amazing- very classic fits and pieces which can be dressed up and down. Due to her famous hair, her signature colour is orange so there are always a few orange items in the range which makes me super duper happy. I'm currently lusting over this gorgeous orange dress- it would be so great for the Spring and Summer months. It's £135 but I think you would have it for years!





The Underwear Department
I love underwear (And I say underwear because let's be frank, lingerie has meaning of it being sexy and Spanx are anything but!). I always find it is a real "pick me up" when I feel a bit down! With brands from Wonderbra to gorgeous Biba undies, the underwear department can help you feel glam or sort out "bumpy" dilemmas. The girls who work in this department are so lovely and knowledgeable. It's a great place to visit if you are having trouble with a certain clothing item- whether you need a backless bra, a pair of Spanx or simply need re-fitted, the girls are there to help you! I've also picked up many a bargain bra from House of Fraser! I love this DKNY Bodysuit... pretty sexy for shape wear!
 
 
 
Shavata Eyebrow Studio
I have been having my eyebrows threaded for years. I am a real eyebrow enthusiast so I'm always looking for ways to improve mine. I would dabble between waxing and threading but after a recent trip to Shavata (which is based up in the corner of the beauty hall), I'm converted! You get to lie up on a very comfy leather chair and it feels private. I often hear the complaint of people feeling self conscious because it's in a department store but it feels like it's own contained unit. No one can watch you! If you have unruly brows or have never touched your brows, go and try threading! It can change the shape of your face and lasts much longer than waxing or plucking. You can read more about Shavata and their services and products here.

Laura Mercier
I have been wearing Laura Mercier makeup for about 3 years now and cannot image changing anytime soon. Their Silk Creme Foundation is the best coverage foundation I've ever used. It doesn't make your skin feel heavy and blends out beautifully. It cost £33 but I often would get about 6 months from one tube making it very good for cost per usage! I also am a big fan of their eyebrow pencil which looks like brow powder when applied! More than the brand, I love the girl's who work at the Laura Mercier counter in House of Fraser. They are so friendly and always offer to try any products on before I buy them! There are so many products in their range...I think I'll move on to the body care next!




Mango
Mango has been one of my favourite brands for years. Their clothes are amazing quality and very affordable. When I was younger, I used to love when we would go on holiday and get to go to a Mango. We sadly no longer have a stand alone store in Belfast but the department in House of Fraser Belfast fills my void! Everything from their tees to jeans and AMAZING going out dresses, Mango is a brand that I will continue to go back to. I also think it's a grand brand as it covers a huge age range- I've loved it from my teens and my mum in her 40s loves the stuff too. Kate Moss was in their latest campaign which is a fabulous endorsement! I love this Chanel style jacket which comes in for a fraction of the price of a real one for £79.99.
 
If you love the House of Fraser as much as I do, make sure to visit the store between the 6th-10th of March for exclusive discounts, giveaways and gifts with purchase on certain brands! There's also going to be live music in the store across the 5 days.
 
Happy 5th Birthday House of Fraser!
 
G x