SUGAR, DARLING?

BY NANCY WHITTINGTON-COATES


I'm not quite sure why I've not really written about perfume on the blog before when it's one of my life long loves, perhaps because it's such a passion that I'm not sure that I can write about it eloquently enough. I just adore how scent can evoke such strong feelings and memories, make you feel safe and happy or on the reverse anxious or scared.

I personally tend to two extremes when it comes to perfumes - either something sweet and candy like or something dark, smokey or spicy. I adore rich, unusual scents and these can be hard to find from the most popular and easily found scent brands so I just love to come across lesser known and independent perfumers where I can find something not many others will be wearing. One brand that I have been desperate to try for quite some time now is LVNEA, a Canadian company based in Montreal. To give you an idea of what they do and why here is an extract from their website:

"Lvnea explores the spaces between the natural world and that of the ethereal. With a focus on pure plant essences and unexpected aromatic combinations, raw materials from rare natural extractions are sourced from around the world to evoke distant memories and awaken unwritten desires.

Each scent begins as a distinct story, transforming the conceptual into high olfactory art. Traditional French parfumerie techniques are juxtaposed with luxuriantly minimal design, creating scents that are at once reminiscent of another world, yet deeply familiar."

Reading this it it easy to see why I fell in love with LVNEA before I had even tried any of their creations and simply had to get my claws on them.


As I didn't know which scent I would love the most I decided to order the full Botanical Perfume Sample Set ($56.00) and I'm so pleased I did. You can select 4, 6 or 10 of them rather than the full set if you so choose but of course I went for the full set of 15 scents. The shipping was only around $10 too which was really reasonable and I had to pay a customs charge of £12 when it arrived so it wasn't too bad at all. When it arrived I spent a good hour just smelling them all and was transported into a magical world of emotion and nostalgia, it was just lovely and worth every penny!

I've tried and tried to narrow it down to just one scent to order a full size bottle of but I can't decide which to go for. My favourite four are:

MOURNING RITUAL: church incense, dead roses, black velvet, and powdered resins

CUIR FÉTICHE: botanical leather notes with agarwood, saffron, and incense

NUIT DÉSERT: cedar leaf, smoke, and jasmine

SPIRITUUM - sacred galbanum, patchouli, oakmoss

If you would like to read the scent notes of all the fragrances you can read through them here.


I have honestly got so much pleasure from this set and I would so recommend you treat yourself to some of their products if you adore complex, unisex, magical scents like I do. Next on my list to try are the solid perfumes and ritual bathing salts. Which of the fragrances do you think you would like best?

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I so love when a brand adds a plus size line, don't you? In all honesty I wasn't aware of In The Style likely because they didn't offer plus, but back in November they added their Curve range and very kindly sent me three pieces to try out. I'm really impressed with all three, so much so that I did a try on video for my YouTube channel too that you can watch below!

I love that they go to a size 28 and would say that all three pieces are generously sized so if you're a size 30 I'd definitely recommend giving them a try anyway. The prices I think are very reasonable and I know I'm going to get a lot of wear out of all three be it on the weekend, in the office or in the case of the jumpsuit on a night out.







Make sure you check out my video below for more info on each piece!



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*This post contains items that were gifted for review. For more information head to my disclaimer page.

I recently read an article that talked about how people have 'uniforms' - outfit combinations that we wear variations of over and over again, feel most comfortable in, feel our best in. Working out what your 'uniforms' are will apparently help you become a wiser shopper as it shows you what you are actually likely to wear often and so avoiding those spur of the moment purchases that sit in the back of the wardrobe never seeing the light of day. Most of us have those including me, so I started thinking about mine.

The thing I probably throw on most often is a nice midi skirt, some trainers and a sweater or tee with a fun design. It looks put together, but is really low maintenance and low effort really! As you know mixing glam and casual is my thing so it seemed natural to wear this Joanna Hope Glitter Skirt (£16.50 on sale) with one of my favourite pairs of shoes the Knot Detail Slip Ons by Sole Diva (£22.00) both of which I found at Simply Be. They just seemed like the perfect accompaniment to this lovely Embroidered Velour Sweater by Very (£14.00 on sale) with its delicate blossom and crane design.

I also love to mix a fancy dress with a casual jacket like a bomber or go full on glam with a frock , bold makeup, cute shoes and sometimes some crazy headgear like a little hat or big flowers. What are your 'uniforms'?


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This my friends, is a holy grail beauty product. And I do not say that lightly.

I have had bad skin since my very early teens - enlarged pores, oiliness, blemishes, acne, dry patches, the lot. As you can imagine in this nearly 17 year period I have tried so so so SO many products to try and correct all this and nothing has ever done the trick, nothing even remotely affordable anyway. Merumaya have genuinely changed my life. 

My first experience of their products was last Summer when I was given a tube of their Melting Cleansing Balm that I wrote about in this post and is still my favourite ever cleanser. It is glorious in its own right, but followed up with the new Retinol Resurfacing Treatment (£33.50*) this really is game changing skincare.

I've been using this beautiful cream every evening for two months now and the change is incredible. My blemishes and acne are practically gone with only a few patches popping up when my hormones kick in once a month. My skin is much smoother and plumper looking and a lot less red and best of all the texture and appearance of my pores is massively improved, especially over the tops of my cheeks where they were most prominent and have now shrunk away. 

The cream is rich and luxurious but not too heavy so it feels great on your skin and it smells divine. I wear this as my night cream after cleansing and each morning I wake to see more improvements. I have to admit I was a bit nervous before about using a retinol product as my only other experience with this vitamin caused uncomfortable inflammation and sensitivity to my face. My fears were put to bed however when I read more into the formula and other ingredients and how Merumaya have developed a retinol treatment that is safe to use every day. 

I won't go too much into it but basically to combat the harsher side to retinol (Vitamin A) the cream also includes :
- Aroleat Samphira which assists and allows it do its work without causing irritation as well as evening out the skin tone and regulating the amount of oil your skin produces
- a peptide blend called Matrixyl 3000 which improves lines and aids skin repair
Mediacalm taken from a plant root which is incredibly calming to even freshly shaved skin
- two molecular weights of Hyaluronic Acid which helps your skin retain moisture and create more beta defensins which prevent spots
Squalane which is a component of the skin's lipid barrier and so supports and reinforces it's natural moisture retaining properties

I am not exaggerating when I say that this product has increased my confidence levels massively. I've always been very aware of my large pores and blemishes so now that I have found an effective routine that combats them I feel so much happier, not to mention being able to wear lighter coverage foundation. 

I just can't wait to try out their cleansing brush and luxury facial wash that I ordered today, I'll surely be sharing my views on those soon too!

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*This post contains items that were gifted for review. For more information head to my disclaimer page.

If there's one thing I absolutely love it's a cosy pub with a relaxed atmosphere, lovely interior styling and a damn good menu. Recently my husband and I were invited along to The Queens Head in Belton which is a prime example of such an establishment, nestled in the heart of a lovely Leicestershire village and glowing like a beacon on the windy, rainy Friday evening that we visited. I didn't realise until we were leaving but the pub also has four rooms if you would like to stay overnight as well as meeting room facilities and a really great looking feasting menu should you want to host a party!

We were welcomed into the nice airy dining room and handed our menus which to my pleasant surprise included a small gin menu. The attention to detail was great and the selection of wines very well rounded - clearly care had been taken with all of the available drinks down to having different types of tonics to suit each gin. I ordered a rhubarb gin with elderflower tonic and Pete went for a nice glass of red while we perused the menus.


Unsurprisingly Pete went for the pub's version of a scotch egg. A perfectly soft centered duck egg was cloaked in black pudding and breadcrumbs and fried, served with a mustard mayonnaise that was both creamy and tart and so worked perfectly with the rich egg and blood sausage. Now my husband has tried a lot of fancy scotch eggs in his life and he said this was one of the best, the flavours being perfectly balanced and everything working together including the peppery leaves on the side.


I'm a sucker for a good caesar salad and so was toying between this and grilled sardines for my starter but the fish won out in the end. The four fat Cornish sardines were grilled to perfection, fresh and delicate with a bold dressing of parsley, garlic and lemon gremolata sitting upon a piece of toasted bread that soaked up the delicious juices and oils. This is a great classic starter with a zesty twist that I would definitely order again.


We both had quite a hard time choosing a main course but eventually Pete popped for the gnocchi with wild mushrooms, parsley and walnut pesto. As you can see from the picture above this was a really decadent and rich plate of pasta but again really fine tuned. The gnocchi was pillowy and not at all stodgy and the mushrooms retained a little bite which was a great contract to the squidgy potato dumplings. I think pesto is one of those culinary alchemical marvels that is perfect as it is, but is extra wonderful when given a little tweak such as here where the pine nuts were replaced with walnuts giving an even deeper nutty taste.



At the recommendation of several people I decided to try the rib eye steak with triple cooked chips and a watercress salad. I'd heard really great things about the meat served here which is supplied by an award winning butchery based in nearby Derbyshire called Tori and Bens. I really wasn't disappointed - the meat was buttery and flavourful and had the most wonderful texture which is only gained from expert ageing and the fact that it was cooked on a bbq grill enhanced the experience with that lovely lightly charred and caramelised taste. Eaten with a touch of garlic and herb butter and a little watercress this really was a dream of a main course and if that wasn't enough the triple cooked chips were to die for. Again a picture paints a thousand words and you can clearly see how crisp and gorgeous these babies were, as were the crisp onion rings we ordered as a side.


I won't lie, we were both feeling pleasantly full at this point but I just couldn't resist trying the homemade waffle with juicy cherries jubilee and vanilla ice cream. I'm a big fan of waffles and pancakes and the like but this was different to what I'm used to, in a good way of course. It was far lighter than I was expecting and relievingly wasn't heavy or doughy, so didn't overpower the sweet-sour cherries and luscious ice cream.

Feeling more satiated than me thanks to his bowl of gnocchi Pete decided to go for a light pudding of lemon sorbet doused in limoncello with little homemade langues du chat style cookies. I'm not a huge fan of limoncello but I must say this was such a great combination and I wondered why I'd not seen it before, the icy tart sorbet adding the perfect second citrus layer to the sweet lemon liqueur.


This was a wonderful meal and the atmosphere at The Queens Head was just right for a relaxed Friday night with tables of couples and friends around us all enjoying a few drinks and a great dinner. We'll definitely be heading back to try the roast dinners one Sunday and as it's only a 15 minute drive from our village it may well become a bit of a regular excursion for us! 

Thank you so much to The Queens Head for asking us along to check out their wonderful establishment, we can't wait for our next visit!

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*This meal was complimentary in exchange for my review, but all opinion are entirely honest and my own. For more information head to my disclaimer page.
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