Monday, 2 June 2014

Mids Blog Meet Hits Birmingham!



Hello lovely people. 

I hope you all had a great weekend. I did, because I went along to my second blogger meet up and had such a great time! The meet was organised by the lovely Emma from Frugally Peachy and Kelly from To Become Mum. I went to their last meet-up, which was the first ever one I'd been too, and they made it so much fun with their relaxed, friendly style. When I heard they were planning another one I was all "Count me in!!", and so I found myself popping off to Birmingham for a nice jolly and of course, some serious retail therapy as well...


Outfit Notes



White leather t-shirt - Missguided
Khaki printed joggers - Topshop
Bronze and black studded gladiator sandals - Office
Pastel chain necklace - Primark

Firstly, the outfit is always a consideration when you're going to be meeting a bunch of stylish bloggers, but as I was going on the train this time and wandering around the shops afterwards I wanted something comfortable, so I went with my recently purchased printed joggers. The loose fit makes them so comfy and airy!


I paired the joggers with this fresh, white leather t-shirt from Missguided, which you might have seen in an OOTN post recently. I'm loving this piece because its so versatile and yet the fabric gives it an edge as well. 

To lift the t-shirt, I layered on this heavy pastel chain necklace, which was a find from Primark that featured in the little spring haul post I recently did from there.


I didn't know how the weather would turn out, because its quite changeable at the moment, so I chose a light cover-up - this khaki drape leather jacket from New Look.


On my feet were a battered old favourite - my trusty bronze and black gladiator sandals from Office. Cost per wear, these must be one of the most economical things I've ever bought.

They are just literally so comfortable, and as you can see, I've worn them into the ground and had them re-heeled quite a few times. They're definitely on their last legs, but I can't quite bear to part with them. I knew they would be good to trot around town in, although I did also pack a little pair of flatties in case I had to make a last-minute dash to the train station!

What We Got Up To



The day started off bright and early with a train journey to Birmingham. I'd forgotten how much I like travelling on the train, there's something really relaxing about watching the green fields and city scapes slipping past from the window. The train was actually the one to Cardiff Central which made me so nostalgic for my student days! That's where I went to uni, and I've often sat on the same train making the journey home in term time breaks. It reminded me how much I need to go back and visit Cardiff -  I haven't been back since graduating and I bet everything's changed.

Of course I had to grab a coffee to get my day going - Skinny Caramel Macchiato, yum! I met up with Leah from Peaches and Smoke on the train up, which was really nice and helped the journey to go a lot faster as we were chatting away, laughing at the tea trolly man who was one of the most dedicated people to his job I've ever encountered. I wasn't quite as nervous about this one as my last blog meet because I knew a couple of people already, but travelling up with Leah was great -  it's always less nerve-wracking arriving with someone else!



The meet-up was held at a very cool and quirky venue called Cherry Red's on John Bright Street. It was full of great little interior design touches and the staff were so friendly. I ordered a Mexican hot chocolate to start off with, which is one of their signature drinks -  it was infused with cinnamon and chilli powder and was totally delicious. Definitely one I'll be trying to re-create at home!


I have to find out where they got this sign! We love Mary Poppins in our house - in fact, I'm pretty sure my husband's entire persona is based on Mr Banks, so this would be perfect for our new house (or renovated old one, as the case may be!). Emma also spotted some Elvis stuff she wanted to liberate so between us, they were lucky we didn't strip the place on the way out!


And then into the blog meet! I didn't get any of the emails in the run-up to the day, so I didn't have a clue what to expect or who was coming. But that was the best part of it all -  a day full of fun surprises!

It was so great to meet everyone. There were some familiar faces, like Emma who writes at Frugally Peachy about crafting, writing and some wonderful projects (inspiring stuff), Kelly who blogs at To Become Mum about her yummy mummy life with her beautiful little boy and the lovely Laura from Unloved Button, who I met at the last meet-up - I didn't get to speak to her enough though! And then I got to meet some new bloggers as well, ones that I've known through Twitter.

Caroline from Putting Your Life in Order -  I've become addicted to Caroline's blog and Twitter because she's so dry and witty, like that one hilarous friend who always has the perfect one liner. I recognised her straight away in person, whereas usually it takes me an age to link someone to their blog, even if I'm a regular reader.

I also met Laura from Life and Lipstick, who was a really lovely, bubbly girl -  we were all amazed when she said she's 27, she looks like a teenager (I need her skincare secrets). 

I was also a total stan because I realised Naomi from StyleFaceBeauty was there and I really love her blog. I've spoken to her a few times in Twitter chats but I was way overexcited to  meet her in real life because her style is so flawless- she's like one of those girls you want to be, but you're too busy spilling wine down your top and getting things wrong to match up.

And I was so, so thrilled to finally meet Kerry from KerryJustBeauty. I count Kerry as one of my best 'blogging friends', she's always unfailingly supportive and kind, we speak often on social media so it was incredibly exciting but a little odd to finally meet her in person. I must admit I bottled it a bit and went all quiet when she first walked in! I'm not normally like that but she was very gorgeous and looked so glam that I just went a bit shy - but she soon brought me out of my shell again!
L to R: Laura from Unloved Button, Emma from Frugally Peachy, Caroline from Putting Your Life In Order, a sheepish me, Kerry from KerryJustBeauty, Kelly from Two Become Mum, Laura from Life and Lipstick, Naomi from StyleFaceBeauty and Suzi from Xenca

So, once the over-excited introductions were out of the way, what did we get up to?

First, we had a talk from Jo about Weleda. Weleda is a brand I didn't know a huge amount about. Of course I knew all about its cult Skin Food cream, which is a celebrity favourite of Victoria Beckham and Jessica Alba, but I didn't know anything else. Jo told us about their holistic approach, even how they grow their own lavendar and calendula at the company gardens in Ilkeston, near my home town. 

They believe in a natural approach that leverages the best out of high-quality, plant based organic ingredients. I was struck by how beautiful everything smelt -  I felt like I'd had a day at the spa by the end of all the sampling and sniffing.

Jo told us all about their Calendula range, which was developed to care for babies, but has been totally hijacked by us adults who know a good skincare thing when we see it! She also told us about their Bath Milks, which sounded heavenly - apprently Simon Cowell buys the Citrus variant by the crateload and after smelling it I can see why. 

We also got to try some of their natural toothpastes -  a herbal one and a sea salt one which helps with sensitive teeth. The group were divided on their opinions of these -  some loved them, but for me personally I'll be sticking with the minty stuff! We also found out about their natural deodorants and Jo told us about all the nasty and dangerous ingredients that are found in female anti-perspirants, which made me think twice about the Sure Maximum I've been piling on in the mornings...

It was so much fun getting to play with all the products, and Weleda were kind enough to give us each a goody bag to take home. Mine had some of their Pomegranate Firming Day Cream in, which I've really been wanting to try. After hearing about the multiple uses for Skin Food, I'll be ordering some of that in the near future.

Kelly reading up on Weleda
 
 Me engrossed in some samples!









It was time for a spot of lunch then. All the food looked amazing, and I ended up ordering the American pancakes with syrup and bacon- super yum! I also had a cheeky little glass of rose - well, it was the day before my birthday so I figured I was going to treat myself.

After lunch, the very lovely Suzi from Xenca gave us a talk and demonstration. Xenca is not a brand I'd heard about before so it was great to discover them. They are a new British company focused on beauty and wellness through high-quality nutrition and products. Suzi started off by telling us about Eternity, which is their anti-aging line. They do a range of collagen powders and pills that are amazing for healing. Suzi shared with us that she'd had a car accident which triggered a condition called Fibromyalgia that had put her on her back, and a lot of her recovery was to do with taking the Collagen and Five a Day supplements. You could see how passionate she was personally about the company.

She also brought along her 9 month old son, Harry who was the best and cutest salesman I've ever met - she demonstrated how he drinks the 5 A Day Superfood Supplement in a cup of water, and seriously, he went mad for it. I've never seen a little one get so excited about something healthy!

We got to try a shot of collagen, which was really cool -  it doesn't taste of anything nasty, so it would be easy to take everyday, and we also tried a shot of the 5 A Day:


This was mixed with orange juice, hence the odd colour - but it was really nice. It added a sort of green, fresh taste to the juice that I quite liked!

Here's Kerry bravely downing her Superfood shot! I was really interested in all this, because to be honest, we spend so much on our face creams and things without ever thinking that it might be more important what we put inside our bodies instead. Fine lines have become a concern for me over the last year or so, so I bought some of their Collagen Capsules and I'll report back on how well they work!

Then, we moved on to Perfection, which is their make-up range. Everything is natural and free of chemicals - except the eyeliner and mascara, which they are working on replacing at the moment. There were some lovely colours on show -  these are the eyeshadow duo pots they do:


All the packaging is made of eco-friendly cardboard as well, which gives it a lovely feel.

I particularly enjoyed swatching their lipstick shades. Kerry, Laura and I all really liked this unusual pale pink shade, called Candy:


As a special treat, Xenca gifted us a make-up item of our choice, so that's what I went for. I'll be reporting back on that too! It's nice to try a new brand out and I like what Xenca stand for, so do check them out and support an ethical British company.

After some more chat, we were done with our meet-up and I had such a brilliant time.

Me forgetting to pout with Kerry

Laura and Naomi enjoying the meet up
Kerry and Laura showing lipstick shades


So what does a girl do when she finds herself in Birmingham with time to kill before the train home? Of course the only answer is "hit Selfridges and shop til you drop"!

Birmingham is such a fun city with a real buzz, it feels very different and much busier than Nottingham. I've visited a few times to shop there so its was fun to give it a go again.



How is it that even though we have most of the same shops at home, they feel so different in another city? I guess some of it is just presentation making you notice different things, but some shops do actually have different stock. I used to work in Zara and the managers there order from a 'look book' each season what stock they think will suit the local area -  so the one in Edinburgh will actually have different stuff from the one in London.


But the main attraction, for me, was the beauty hall at Selfridges. I was literally a kid in a candy shop, so it was great to be with people who understood just how excited a particular shade of lipgloss can make you...

Using the excuse of my birthday, I bought myself a few treats but I'll be saving those for another post.

Laura and Caroline check out the offering at Nars

We have a Space NK store in Nottingham so I can get Nars, but there certainly isn't the same range of shades available at Selfridges...I found myself wondering if I could pull off a pale lilac lipgloss...


Of course I made a beeline for the Urban Decay counter. I really wanted some of the Naked Skin foundation, so I'd pretty much decided before I got there that it was going to be mine. Naomi also showed me some of the Super Saturated Gloss which looked amazing - there was a metallic red just like Dorothy's ruby slippers -  what a shade!


And I was practically hyperventilating when I saw the Charlotte Tilbury counter! I am obsessed with her and her trademark 'Feline Eye', I watch her videos all the time and if I could have one wish, it would be to have a CT make-over. Of course you can order her products online, but I don't like ordering expensive cosmetics on the internet unless I've already tried them out in real life, so I hadn't bought anything from her range. I felt like I'd died and gone to heaven testing out her stuff.


They were also running the Selfridges Beauty Project which highlights hero products, so I had a good browse of that as well. But what did I buy? You'll just have to wait and see...


By the time I hopped on the train home I was really tired but I'd had such a great day, and I'm so grateful to Emma and Kelly for organsing it. It was great to catch up and to meet some lovely new ladies and I hope we get a chance to do it all again soon.

My lovely husband picked me up at the station and had made a delicious Biryani for dinner as well so what more could you ask for? Just about the perfect day! Here's to next time.

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4 comments

  1. Was lovely to catch up with you again on Saturday - I'm so glad you had a great day and the shopping looked pretty epic! Don't forget to link your post up to our #midsblogmeet linky on my post - look forward to the next one! x

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  2. Thanks so much for organising it Emma, it was a really cool day. Will pop the link up - I'm thinking your band tshirt idea is a winner for the next one ;) xx

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  3. A great post! Love your Selfridges photos. Haha, it's great that people think I am so young - I got asked for ID on Monday night as the man thought I was 17?!

    Laura x | Life and Lipstick

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