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Celebrating KLM coming to Belfast


Pictured with fellow bloggers Els from My Feet Are Meant to Roam  and Jess from The Gap Year Guru

I sometimes pinch myself with the things I get up to with my blog. I love flying and enjoy nothing more than a long haul flight were I can switch off my phone. When KLM invited me on a special flight around Belfast on a 1930s Dakota D3 plane, I was so excited (and admittedly, a little nervous). The experience was a beautiful one and it's a memory I will take with me for the rest of my days. This was all in celebration of KLM coming to Belfast City Airport. Their flights to Amsterdam start on the 18th May. This makes Amsterdam not only perfect (and handy) for a weekend away, but a great airport for further international travel. I've yet to visit Amsterdam so I feel it's now next on my 'go to' list!

Thank you KLM for an amazing experience. See www.klm.com for more information on flights. 

The £1.99 lippies and £1.79 nail polishes you NEED



It can be so easy to go to Boots or Superdrug and be overwhelmed by makeup. I've been blogging for a long time and it still happens to me when lots of new releases come into the stores! However, one brand I constantly return to is a brand that I feel is really undervalued. NYC Cosmetics or New York Colour as some people refer to it, is sold in most Superdrug stores along with lots of independent pharmacies. Their product range is great and very affordable- their bronzers and mascaras are two products in particular that I feel I would pay twice as much for.

Like many brands, NYC are launching new products in May, just in time for the summer months. First off, 24 colours of fast drying polishes called "Shine In a Minute"* are launching priced at £1.79. The colours pictured are Statue of Liberty 601 (mint green), Upper East Side 103 (brown nude) and Hudson River 701 (royal blue). I love the colour range of these products- Upper East Side is my favourite from the range as it's the perfect nude that makes the hands look clean and long. The formula is fantastic- two coats, dries quickly and lasted 4/5 days with no chips (I use Seche Vite top coat). 

Secondly, expanding on their lip range (their lipsticks are great with LOADS of MAC dupes) with satin-matte colours*. One of my favourite lipsticks by NYC is one called Sugar Plum- a great pinky, everyday nude. Pictured is  Creamy Mauve 449 (pink), Smooth Beige 448 (70s nude) and Red Suede 452 (deep red). The formula of the lipsticks is fantastic with the red shade being particularly great- one slick delivers a punch of colour. These retail for £1.99 and are perfect for throwing in your bag or to match a certain outfit without breaking the bank.

Definitely try these products out when they launch in May- for under £2 you could easily update your summer makeup with a pop of colour.

*PR Samples

She wore green feathers




My friend keeps telling me everytime she sees a item of clothing in emerald green, she thinks of me. Although orange is my ultimate favourite colour, I prefer it in accessories and deep down, I know that green is the colour I suit best. It probably comes from being quite dark and "Irish" looking! I fell completely in love with this top when I saw it online*. It's part of the new Warehouse occassionwear range (£40) and I think it's a fabulous "all occasions" number.... it would look great with jeans for a few drinks, with blue trousers for a more formal dinner or wedding or even thrown over a bikini during the summer. It's a kaftan shape and cuts out over the shoulders and is a V shape at the front and back. I've teamed it with black trousers from Primark and shoes (that are easily 8 years old) from Zara. I can't wait to wear this top over the coming months. The print also comes in a beautiful dress that I have my eye on!

Thank you Warehouse for my beautiful top. If you didn't catch my post last week, this Saturday (25th April) is the Urban Garden Party in Warehouse Victoria Square from 12-6pm. 20% off, fab gifts and lots of inshore fun. Sign up for your exclusive 20% discount here: www.warehouse.co.uk/ugp.

*PR Sample

The verdict is in on the Michael Kors liquid self tanner.....



We all know and love Michael Kors for his handbags, watches, shoes and stunning clothes but did you know he also has a beauty range? I've been a champion of this range since it launched in House of Fraser Belfast last year. The stunning gold and bronze tones are perfect if like me, you love a classic beauty look. The bronzers in particular are one of my favourite things in the range.

I was intrigued by the liquid self tanner from the Michael Kors range* and when I had a search for reviews, I couldn't find much on it. It seemed to tick a lot of boxes on paper for me- amber-tinted, fast acting for a tan in under an hour and no biscuit smell but instead sandalwood and white floral tones. It all seemed a bit too good to be true so I put it to the test (and you all seemed very excited on social media about it!). 

The gold packaging looks fabulous on my dresser and for £19 you get 150ml of tan which seems great for a luxury brand (in fact, all of the Michael Kors range is very decently priced). The tan is a liquid formula and a little seems to go a long way. It almost turns into a gel formula when it's on the skin. I applied it using my hands with no mitt for this reason and washed my hands quickly afterwards. The smell of the tan is lovely and it applies a subtle hint of colour. It dries very quickly and the colour contiuned to develop. And the best bit? Yes it did actually change colour in an hour! It left my skin probably about 2/3 shades up from my natural colour making me look like I had a few days in the sun rather than glued to my laptop doing essays. This isn't a tan for someone who likes to be Kardashian dark but rather for girls on the go, pale skinned girls and those who just love a 'glow'.

I think this tan is perfect for anyone who really hates self tanning but loves a bit of colour as it's so easy to apply, has no tanning smell and develops beautifully. If you are like me and are a light to medium skin tone, this would be great for last minute parties (it looks FANTASTIC on legs and takes away the pastiness!) and made me feel just that little bit more put together.

Overall, a fantastic product that you should definitely try out. If you like Sun Shimmer but hate how matte it is, Clarins tan or Xen tan, this one is for you. 

Michael Kors Liquid Self Tanner costs £19 and is available in store at House of Fraser Belfast or online here

*PR Sample

Why SimplyBe offers more than you think





My mum has been a SimplyBe fan long before they had stores. She had often ordered me the odd item (usually underwear as they are fabulous if you are a DD+) but they are a brand that it is easy to dismiss if you have never visited a store. They are not a "plus size" brand but rather size inclusive running from sizes 10-30. This was something I also wasn't aware of but made me really happy. I love their ethos of being stylish at all sizes.

SimplyBe Belfast invited me into the store on Saturday morning. They were having a special event in their fitting room with some champers, snacks, discounts and makeovers by The Body Shop. They have THE BEST EVER. They are bright, airy, big and they have a magic mirror that you can take pictures of your outfits on (as mum and I did) and print them out or send them to social media. It's great fun. The girls who work in SimplyBe Belfast are so helpful. Their manager Colin, assistant manager Suzie and personal stylist were all so sweet and encouraging to not only me but to all the ladies who were popping in and out to the event in the fitting rooms. I tried on LOTS of items but above I am wearing some of my favourites. SimplyBe kindly let me select a few items to take home that I will be modelling over the next while on the blog. 

Below I've detailed the items and why I love them:

It's very rare that my mum and I will like the same thing, mostly because I'm 5ft10 and a size 14 and she's a very different height and build to me. However, I think we were both taken with the pattern and shape of this dress. The fabric is very stretchy, skims across the body but draws in the waist. The V neck isn't too low so it very flattering. On me it came up above my knee but came below the knee on my mum. It's a great wee "everything" number that would look great at a party, wedding or christening without you feeling uncomfortable. A size 12 fitted me comfortably in this dress. 

I totally fell in love with this dress- it made me feel a bit like Barbra Streisand at the end of Hello Dolly in the best way possible. I would never usually wear this peach colour but I felt it looked great against my dark hair. It reminded me of a lot of the Virgo's Lounge dresses and had a real nod to The Great Gatsby with a 1920s vibe. I needed a size 16 in this dress as I think it comes up a little bit smaller because of the huge amount of embellishment on the top. This dress is a real investment piece and would be stunning at a formal or dressy wedding. 

How gorgeous is this little bag!? I instantly fell in love (and had to take her home). In real life, it is more of an orange shade than red and is a fantastic dupe for the Celine Mini Luggage. The bad can be worn across the body or with the little handle. It's great for me as I've been trying to downsize my bags but this is still big enough to fit in all of my essentials including my compact DSLR camera. 

I was unsure of these trousers as I thought the print might make me look a little bigger but I was pleasantly surprised. The fabric is heavy and they are well made. They are a regular trouser fastening at the front but have a stretchy waist-band at the back. I can imagine these would be great for an office to party situation or for a casual day with some pumps and a denim shirt. These fitted true to size and a 14 fitted well.

I hardly ever wear shorts (largely because I'm 5ft10 and they literally look like a big pair of denim knickers on me!) but I loved this little pair that almost looked more like a skirt. The crochet detail on them is really cute and although they are cream, they are thick enough that you don't need to worry about VPL. These would be great for anyone heading away over the summer or for when the weather heats up here in the city. A size 12 fitted in these because they have a stretchy waistband. 

These might be my favourite thing I picked up from SimplyBe. I have HUGE problems getting jeans. I have a tummy, big bum but very slim legs. The Lucy style is high waisted but with a skinny fit. The fabric of these is incredible- it really sucks you in like a pair of Spanx without being uncomfortable. For the price point, I am so impressed by these and definitely would look to SimplyBe for jeans in the future. These are true to size and a 14 fitted perfectly. 

I spotted this co-ord set and it reminded me of Kim Karadashian's style. The fabric is very stretchy and worn together, looks more like a dress. The skirt really pulls you in at the waist and the top has a beautiful detailing at the back where it crosses over. I picked up the top as I have a fabulous outfit in mind to wear with it. Both of these pieces fit a bit bigger because of the fabric so I wore a 12 in both. 

The colour of this dress drew me to it instantly. I love pink with dark hair and this dress is the perfect formal dress for the upcoming summer balls. The length is very good on this dress (something that I can struggle with being 5ft10) and the dress sat very nicely. I am wearing a 16 in this picture but a 14 would have sat better. The dress is stretchy at the back and boned at the front. It would be fantastic for any bigger busted ladies that struggle with a structured dress.

Overall, I am so impressed with SimplyBe and would urge you all to give it go. You'll be surprised with the gems you find! 

P.S. If you caught me on Sky News yesterday, I was wearing a fabulous shirt dress from SimplyBe that I know I'm going to get great wear out of over the summer! I'm proudly taking part in the Stand Up Be Counted Campaign which you can find more about here


There's more than meets the eye to Stranmillis Village


Nails (before painting!) at Beauty Haven, Gotto Sports, Hugh Clawson at Canvas Galleries and Sinnamon

Birdcage goodness with a stunning pecan and pear salad, jam jar cocktail and a Sara O'Neill illustration in the loo!

I must be the only person in the world who managed to go to Queen's University for four years and didn't know Stranmillis Village inside out. Like Ballyhackamore, Stranmillis has seen major regeneration over the last number of years with new food outlets being a big draw. So knowing that I was a newbie to the Stranmillis area, a little tour was set up for me for the day. It was easy to park down a side street on a Saturday morning as many of the students had gone home for the weekend and the atmosphere in the Village was very relaxed. Below I have detailed the places I visit and the places I definitely want to go back to see. 

I was well aware of Sinnamon from my university days as they also have a branch on Botanic Avenue. Sinnamon is a great coffee shop for those who like to support local and you won't be left disappointed. The Stranmillis store is bright and relaxed. Their wide away of teas, coffees and sweet treats spoke to me early on a Saturday morning. I opted for some green tea from NI's very own Suki brand and a pain au chocolate. 

There are many salons in Stranmillis but on Saturday we opted to go to Beauty Haven. The salon has been in operation since 2005 and they are well known for their laser hair removal along with waxing, facials and other beauty treatments. My friend was with me and as I already had my nails done, she had a little file and polish in the OPI colour Tapeless Beach. The therapist Becca, was lovely and both of us had a good laugh with her whilst she was doing my friend's nails. And the best bit? 5 days on my chum is still chip free! They do a great range of skin treatments and I was very drawn to their skin peels to help the skin looking fresh. They would be great for this time of year to prepare the skin for the summer. 

There are also many other salons in Stranmillis but I particularly liked the look of Claire McIntyre Beauty. Their Decleor facials sound fabulous! 

Gotto Sports seems to be a Stranmillis institution. They sells all varieties of running and tennis shoes, rackets and lots of sportswear. My interest in the store was largely to do with their gait analysis that they offer for free so their customers choose the most suitable shoe for their sporting activity. As someone with orthopaedic problems (don't ask!), it's a topic I feel quite passionate about particularly for growing teenagers. We had such an interesting chat about the service and I saw first hand how the shoes could change someones running posture. I will be back to try out this service to make sure I'm in the best shoes possible for my own light running endeavours. 

After visiting Gotto Sports, we called into the art gallery next store. I was somewhat taken in by their fabulous painting in the window. On chatting to the owners, we found they have a great range of paintings by both established and up and coming artists. I loved the work of Belfast's own Deborah Toner (especially the fabulous hand sewed City Hall) and Hugh Clawson. Hugh's work consists of old fashioned receipts which then have famous NI buildings painted on top. I thought these were really interesting and would make a beautiful piece in any sort of home (see one above of The Merchant that I liked). 

Of all the places I heard most about in Stranmillis, it was undoubtedly Birdcage. I had heard tales of their (very large) jam jar cocktails and amazing chicken recipes. We visited for Saturday lunch and I loved the interior. It's really fun and was full of students and families alike. I opted for a pear, pecan and halloumi salad with a side of chicken brochette and sweet potato fries. I also had a non-alcoholic jam jar of apple, ginger and cranberry. The portions were absolutely huge and I was impressed by both the variety and affordability of the menu. It's a great restaurant that I will bring my family to in the future as it suits a variety of tastes. Also, their art will keep you amused! I loved the Sara O'Neill illustration in the toilet!

Thank you to all of the businesses in Stranmillis for making me feel so welcome.

Let me know where you love in Stranmillis Village below or by tweeting me @GemmaLEBond.

The hybrid makeup prep and boosters



The heat seems to be coming back our way. For women, I think there are two categories of us: women who run to the sun and women who have an utter fear as the heat makes the makeup slide off their face. 

I've tried lots of the prep products on the market and I've found the best four. I do LOVE primer but I feel that primer is great for pores/skin texture rather than keeping makeup on your face. The four products I have selected extend your makeup life or can refresh a tired face after a long day. All of the products are hybrid and serve multiple purposes- from a base to a moisturiser, a primer to a toner- all give you great value for money and you'll want to use them all year long, not just when the sun is shining! 

Pictured is a mini version that I picked up in the States that managed to last me for over six months. I have loved Strobe Cream for years. Somewhat like a dewy moisturiser, the hybrid product combines the best of makeup and skincare into one. The sheen is enough on its own on sun kissed skin or its great underneath an existing foundation as a primer for an all round glow. I've found this makes my foundation sit much better and allows the foundation to look like skin. 

This basically is a tinted version of Strobe Cream. It's perfect for girls who love a natural look or as a base for foundation if you love a super glam, stay in place makeup. The cream turns flesh coloured on application and is best for those who are more yellow toned. I've found this a great alternative to foundation in sunny weather but also is great for nights out when I need my makeup to stay put. 

I was originally very sceptical about this product as I didn't think it could deliver what it says but boy I was wrong. Perfect to apply under makeup to give some extra life to your foundation, great as a refresh spray half way through the day, a fantastic setting spray and a great summer cooling mist if kept in the fridge! The spray nozzle is really fine so a light mist coats your face, giving your skin some added moisture without silicone, alcohol and oil! 

A setting spray infused with rose water, this is a little heavier than the Smashbox but delivers a great result. I've found that I love to use the Smashbox as a primer and this as a refreshing spray. The formula controls shine and the scent is pleasant and calming. And the bottle is perfect handbag size making it's great for on the go, holidays and those last minute work to party Friday nights.

I recommend all four of the products but especially the MAC Strobe Cream and the Smashbox Primer Water as I think they would be great on all skin-types.

Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @GemmaLEBond if you have any hybrid products you love for the warmer weather!

*PR Sample

The Urban Garden Party is coming to Warehouse Belfast






I've been a fan of Warehouse for years. It started back when I was still at primary school and had a fascination with their canvas tote bags with the company logo on them. Now, as an adult I love Warehouse for their jeans, great occasion-wear and gorgeous accessories. 

Warehouse is definitely a changing brand and now at 23 years old, I see that it's probably one of only a few hughstreet stores that I could go into with my mum and we could both find something great to wear. Their style is very classic but still on trend. Above are some of my favourite pieces from the new range- I am loving lighter colours and the jumpsuit culottes! 

Right now, Warehouse have so many great summer pieces in. From things to wear on holiday to a wedding, their collection is wide-ranging. To celebrate their gorgeous new occasion-wear range, Warehouse has been having Urban Garden Parties all over the UK and they are coming to Belfast Victoria Square on Saturday 25th April. From 12-6pm, the store will be transformed into a urban jungle, with lots of greenery, limited edition illustrations by Lo Parkin featured in exclusively designed windows and a curated edit of show-stopping pieces. 

You can sign up to receive an invitation offering 20% off all Warehouse occasion wear and tokens that can be exchanged for personalised bracelets, goody bags and organic plants. All shoppers will have the opportunity to have their hair styled by Toni & Guy and can enjoy light snacks and refreshments throughout the day.

I don't know about you but I can't wait. I hope I will see you at there!

To sign up for your 20% off and tokens, click over to www.warehouse.co.uk/ugp

My favourite pieces from Clarins Aquatic Treasures Range



I do love a summer drop of makeup. Dewy, golden and bronzed are three of my beauty "buzz" words and the new Aquatic Treasures range from Clarins ticks all three. The range is all very non-fuss and perfect for the girl on the go. I've picked my top four products from the range and detailed them below. The full range hits counters next month (May) so be sure to have your eyes peeled. 

Limited Edition Aquatic Treasure Summer Bronzing Compact, £30*
Clarins produces a large limited edition bronzing powder every year and I've heard from their PR girls that it's always a bit hit. This one is bound to be the same. Firstly it's amazingly packaged- sturdy, durable and has a huge mirror. The bronzer is a matte formula and combines four shades that can be swirled together or used separately. This is a great colour for a range of skin tones and the more grey tones make for a perfect contour. I had my mum test this product (she is the queen of the bronzers!) and she loves it too. Overall, a fab bronzer that would see you through to next summer and for £30, I feel like you get a lot for your money. 

Limited Edition Instant Light Radiance Boosting Complexion Base, £26*
Primer? Moisturiser? Substitute foundation? Yes, this product is one of those multi-use products. I personally love the 05 Golden Bronze shade as it sits best on my medium skintone. There is also a Limited Edition 04 Apricot offering, along with the 3 permanent main line bases. I have used this below my makeup, on my cheekbones as a highlighter over makeup and up my legs for some major J-Lo shine! A little goes a long way with this product so don't be put off by the small tube. My only qualm with these is that they are definitely more suited to someone more yellow toned or with a tan. I had a more pink toned friend try out 04 Apricot and it wasn't for her. I suggest the 3 main line bases is you are more pink toned. But if you are similar colouring to me, go forth and purchase. 

Limited Edition Ombre Iridescente, £19*
You all know I'm a fan of any eyeshadow product that I can throw on (stick, cream) and these do not disappoint. Available in the shares 01 Aquatic Rose (pictured) and 03 Aquatic Grey, the cream to powder formula is so smooth and easy to work with. They don't crease, they blend beautifully and also make a great base for other shadows to go on top. I've been wearing 01 Aquatic Rose almost everyday since I got it. The colour just makes my eyes look more awake and makes me more pulled together. This is my definite MUST BUY of the collection. 

2015 has truly been the year of me trying out waterproof mascaras. Firstly, I love the packaging of this and the little dent in the brush makes it so easy to hold and get those little lashes. The brush is quite average but the formula is fantastic. I do stress that I feel you get the best results with this mascara if you curl your lashes. It has passed my cry test and doesn't make your lashes feel dry like many other waterproof formulas. Lovely big lashes, great for bottom lashes and lots of volume. A big thumbs up from me for this mascara- and the best bit is that this is part of their main line so you can buy it now!

Overall, a great range if you love a bronze, summer glow. Make sure to check it out in May!

*PR Samples 

SIMPLE STYLE OOTD



I've become truly obsessed with Pinterest and I seem to spend most of my time pinning examples of stunning simple, minimalist style. I really want to be a Swedish girl who only wears monochrome colours! 

In a little homage to the simple style I've been loving (and because of the gorgeous weather), I threw together this outfit. It features a mixture of items I've picked up over the past year but I think it's a great transitional outfit for this kind of weather. Firstly, my wedge heels are from DKNY and I picked them up last summer in Kildare Village. They were a truly great buy as they match everything! Tan wedges are essential for summer and I would encourage anyone to pick up a pair. My jeans are from Gap and I also picked these up last year (in the sale for £10!). Gap have a huge sale on at the moment so you might strike lucky. They are straight leg and as someone who usually wears skinnies, are a welcome change. I also like to roll the ends up when I'm wearing flat shoes and a tee. My top is a silk came from Matalan. They do these in so many colours and I've been wearing them constantly! My khaki duster jacket was another great bargain- £5 in TK Maxx's clearance rail! The clearance rail is an absolutely amazing place to visit if you want a bargain. The amount of stuff I've picked up over the years is unbelievable. But be prepared to hoke! Duster jackets are perfect for this weather plus they looks super chic over the most basic of outfits. My sunglasses are £1.50 from Primark. I really want the Kim Kardashian Celine pair but at over £200, I think I'll leave them for now!

I hope you've all been enjoying the sunshine and the holidays. Now back to the grind!

Pretty please Easter Bunny!

Ordinarily, if you asked me do I want a bar of chocolate or a packet of jellies, I'd fight you for the jellies. But Easter, like Christmas, turns me into a different woman. I want all the chocolate, in all varieties. I was lucky enough to attend the M&S Press Show in London back in January so I was given a sneak peak of the Easter ranges.  I think there is something that makes me think about my childhood with Easter- my poor grandmother would spend weeks making my Easter basket to carry to church! Now Easter eggs are very grown up and look great sitting in your living room (if you can make it to Easter Sunday!). I completely fell in love with the eggs Marks and Spencer had on offer this season. They are ornately made, beautifully packaged and taste divine. They remind me a lot of Hotel Chocolat which have a much higher price point and aren't are readily available. 

These are my two favourites that I'm hoping for from the Easter bunny. Both of these eggs plus lots of other treats (Belgian chocolate hot cross buns, hello!) are available in store now. 

1. The Giant Golden Lattice Egg, £40
This egg may be £40 but you get a huge 1.5kg of chocolate. More than that, the egg is absolutely beautiful and handmade by skilled Irish chocolatiers LIR. Each eggs takes almost an hour to make. Only 7,500 of these beautiful eggs are being produced, each with a limited edition number. Over eight people help create the finely piped milk chocolate lattice, four people dust the egg with golden lustre and four people place each individual chocolate bead on to the egg.So it's not only an Easter egg, but a piece of Irish art. This would be a great egg to impress the in-laws or the grown-up kid in your life. It's (almost) too good to eat- but after sampling it, I can safely say you'll have it scoffed in no time! 


2. The Artist's Egg, £12
If you want a fancy little egg for someone you love (or if you're like me, for your good self), The Artist's Egg is ideal. For £12 you get 300g of egg with some lightly spiced orange gnaches to share. This egg tastes great with a cup of coffee and definitely is the most grown up egg from th range.



I hope you all have a wonderful Easter, whatever you get up to.

Style Dupe: The Orange Court Shoe




Spring has sprung, and with that - an exciting new trend featuring bursts of bright orange!  We all know that orange is my favourite colour and it seems to be ultra-popular this season. With pops of citrus sprucing up always-popular monochrome looks being an especially en vogue fashion trend, Heatons are offering the perfect pair of orange heels to offer that perfect P.O.C (pop of colour) to take you from work to a night out on the town. 

These lovely orange Kurt Geiger court shoes are perfect for a night out, but at £99 are a serious fashion investment for your wardrobe.  Get the look for less with the a Heatons dupe - a lovely pair of almond toe courts in orange at a cool £15.  

I would team orange courts with an all black or white outfit for a simple pop of colour. They can cheer up the most basic of black dresses. These, an LBD and a statement necklace and you are ready to roll!

You can buy these fabulous shoes in store or online at www.heatonsstores.com. Get them before it is too late... I'm off to look in my local Heatons for them!