Scaramanga Vintage Leather Satchel

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Scaramanga Medium Vintage Leather Satchel 15in
Scaramanga Medium Vintage Leather Satchel 15in
Scaramanga Medium Vintage Leather Satchel 15in

There isn't much in the bag world I covet more than a cute satchel. I love something that's effortlessly thrown across my shoulder; big enough to hold everything I need on a daily basis; easily accessible to have a good rummage - but also want something that isn't too bulky, especially when I'm navigating the tube during rush hour.

Lifestyle brand Scaramanga was founded in 2006, and its products are inspired by traditional artisan craftsmanship methods. The brand has a strong ethical attitude to the manufacturing of its products, working with producers and suppliers in traditional artisan and craft industries, particularly focusing on small and family-run businesses. Their ethics policy is actually very in-depth and really interesting to read in general, you can find it here if you're interested in the ethical side of fashion.

I was lucky enough to win one of their competitions recently, the prize being the beautiful Medium Vintage Leather Satchel with Front Pocket. The 15in bag is the perfect size - big enough to fit books, tablets, day-to-day essentials and even a laptop without feeling overstuffed, but also compact enough that it doesn't get in the way. Although the buckles can be a bit fiddly, they're great for security - alternatively, it's easy enough to just slide the strap through the clasp if you need to get things out quickly. The small front pocket is great for storing little items - perfect for lipsticks, hair grips, gum and the million other things I usually find floating around at the bottom of every handbag.

Design-wise, this is a bag that definitely stands out - the antique leather look gives an instant vintage feel without the 'battered' look that actual vintage bags often come with. Each bag is actually handcrafted by Scaramanga using semi-tanned vegetable leather which can cause variances in colour, shade and markings - so no two bags are EXACTLY the same, something I think is pretty awesome. The inside lining is a bottle green shade, a nod back to the classic 'school bag' style - but much cooler.

Usually the Vintage Leather Satchel retails at £90, which is a bit more than I'd usually spend on a bag but definitely very affordable for the quality and the knowledge you're supporting small businesses and suppliers. However, at the time of posting, it's actually down to £65, even better! This quirky investment daily bag is definitely going to be a staple in my wardrobe - and the excellent quality means it'll last me for years and years to come.

What do you think of Scaramanga and their range of bags/satchels?
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Maybelline: The Nudes

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Maybelline The Nudes Eye Shadow Palette Urban Decay Naked dupe
Maybelline The Nudes Eye Shadow Palette Urban Decay Naked dupe
Maybelline The Nudes Eye Shadow Palette Urban Decay Naked dupe

Ever since the phenomenon of the Urban Naked Palette range happened, nude shadow palettes have popped up from a huge plethora of brands, from high-end to high street. Sometimes, I find people comparing every nude palette to Naked a bit tiring – how many times can a palette be ‘duped’? So for a while, I actually got pretty bored with the multitude of nude shadow boxes making their way onto shelves and into blog posts. Thanks to this, when I got my hands on Maybelline's The Nudes Palette, I wasn’t particularly excited – I’ve tried and owned a fair few neutral shade palettes, and to be honest I tend to go for the more dramatic shades in similar palettes. However, I was actually pretty impressed with The Nudes and have been using it loads recently to create some lovely summer-friendly eye looks.

The Nudes palette features 12 shades – seven shimmery ones and five mattes. I do actually prefer the shimmery colours to the mattes, especially for summer – the finely milled shimmer glitter particles in the shadows are subtle but react really well in the light. My favourites are definitely the darker gold and copper-bronze shades. However, the mattes are great for a more understated look if that’s your thing – it’s not mine, but I’ve been using them as a base shadow, and the black is great for lining eyes with for a smudgy, rock and roll look.

I was pretty impressed with the level of pigmentation in this palette – the darker shades in particular – although the lighter matte shades do need a bit more building up. They also have a really good staying powder, I was impressed at their ability to last a whole day without ending up faded or smudged all around my eyes. The texture of the powders is actually softer than I was expecting for ‘drugstore’ quality eyeshadows – not quite as silky as you’d get with pricier brands, but they don’t feel ‘cheap’ or bad quality.

The size and sturdy, locking case of the palette means it’s brilliant for slipping into a handbag to transform a daytime look into something more fun for an evening out, and for £9.99 it’s definitely not a bad purchase and I’ll be using a lot of the shades on a regular basis.

Are you a fan of neutral eye shadows? What's your favourite palette?
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Jet Pack Blues

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I'm absolutely loving this Motel Topi Dress in Daisy Print at the moment - and thanks to the wonders of ASOS, it came from desktop to door in less than TWELVE HOURS. Yup, their next day delivery service now has a deadline of midnight - I put my order in at around 11pm on Friday, and at 10.30am on Saturday there was a knock on the door. Amazing. I ordered another dress too which I LOVE, but the zip was faulty so I've sent it off for an exchange. This one's perfectly great in the meantime though - I love how it'll be great for bare legs and sandals in the summer, then black tights and a leather jacket when it gets cold again.

The past weekend was actually a bit of an odd one, where none of my plans actually seemed to work out. After a long day of work on Saturday, I was supposed to be heading out for a Sunday picnic then catching the recording of Dave Gorman's new series of Modern Life Is Goodish - but typically, nothing went as planned. The weather was too rubbish for the picnic, and it turned out by the time we got to the venue for Dave Gorman, they'd reached capacity. Boo.

However, thankfully the day was still pretty fun - Conor and I swapped the picnic basket for a Sunday roast in a local pub, and then I had some Pimms tins and a catch-up with my friend Emma, who I hadn't seen in ages! I'm absolutely awful when things don't work out and get into a bit of a grump about it all, but usually after I've had a stew and a strop, I'll find something equally as awesome to do.

The next couple of weeks are going to be super busy for me as well - I'm off to Liverpool with work on Thursday, hopefully having the rescheduled picnic at the weekend, then the following Friday I'm off to 2000 Trees festival to do some press, which I'm really excited for! I'll be popping this dress in my bag to take with me - it's comfy, practical and stylish, which is just what I'm looking for!

Are any of you up to anything exciting over the coming weeks?
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For The Love Of Festivals

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music festival wristbands Download Hit The Deck

The fantastic Laura over at Six Out of Ten recently posted her thoughts on why music festivals aren’t her thing, and I wanted to share a slightly different perspective. My view on festivals is completely the opposite – I can’t get enough of them!

I've been a dedicated festie camper for 11 years now, and can't see myself stopping any time soon. This year, I've already rocked out in the mud at Download, and I have 2000 Trees, Hevy and hopefully Reading still to come! As a reluctant but somewhat functioning 'real adult', I definitely don't feel like I've passed the age of enjoying festivals. Despite the sometimes-dodgy portaloos, cold chewy noodles and general lack of showering, I'm perfectly happy pitching up a tent and roughing it for a couple of days in exchange for a great atmosphere, top-notch music and being surrounded by some of the greatest people I know.

Perhaps some of it might be down to the kinds of festivals I go for – just the idea of camping amongst a 20-strong party of lairy teens gone wild celebrating finishing their GCSEs at V Fest sort of gives me hives. But the festival scene is changing and there are other options for festivals everyone can enjoy beyond the big players. There are more and more 'boutique' and smaller festivals cropping up all over the country, with a completely different crowd attitude to the bigger behemoth fests. If you're looking for rock, 2000 Trees and Hevy both have incredible lineups and smaller capacities - and at the latter, you can 'glamp' for the weekend for less than the cost of a mainstream fest with their Safari Tents (So, so hyped for this).

Sure, there are definitely negatives to attending a festival – Pryers Solicitors created the infographic below to demonstrate the kinds of injuries people could fall victim to, particularly if they’ve never experienced one before. But for me, the pros definitely outweigh the possible cons.

I’ve definitely experienced my fair share of minor festival injuries – even though I tend to prefer dancing around further back with my pals to full-on moshing these days. At Download 2008, I managed to get knocked over during August Burns Red and sprained my wrist – but after a quick trip to the lovely First Aid team, my biggest concern was getting back to the main stage in time to jump around/dance/cry to Jimmy Eat World. But apart from that and lots of bruises, in 11 years of festival going I’ve managed to come out relatively unscathed.

If you are off to a festival this summer, do make sure you look after yourself and don’t push your own limits. Keep an eye out for those around you, and if someone falls over in a pit or looks like they're struggling, pick them up or help them out. If you're 'down the front', you'll probably get people crowdsurfing over you - it kind of comes with the territory. If you feel uncomfortable, it's okay to move back - you'll still have a great view of the stage (if not a better one!).

I think what it all boils down to with festivals for me is the community aspect – at the likes of Download, the sense of being part of something awesome is so strong amongst my fellow festival-goers. Yes, there’ll be a few bellends throwing cups of wee around, but unless you stick to the confines of your four walls, you’re bound to encounter a minority of idiots wherever you go. Obviously, seeing my favourite bands is a huge draw, but this year I probably would have given Download my first miss if it wasn't for the great group of friends I go with. Generally, I find the alternative/rock music community to be one of the most inclusive and welcoming groups of people – whether you’re 15 or 50.

My advice for anyone contemplating going to a festival this summer? GO. One thing I regret every summer is not being able to go to as many festivals as I'd like. Succumb to the fact that everyone will be a bit pongy, seek out the best independent food stalls, avoid awkward tent sex any time after the second day and dance until your wellies break. Don't expect a luxury holiday experience by any account, but if you embrace the atmosphere, look out for yourself and others - chances are, you might just have an excellent time.

Are you a festival lover or hater? Let me know your best festival stories in the comments!
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My Three Product Night Time Skincare Routine

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Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate, Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation, Nuxe Reve De Miel

So on Monday, I posted my current morning skincare routine, consisting of three products that I use on a daily basis to wake up tired morning skin. When it comes to night time, nourishment and replenishing are the two important needs that I want my skincare to cover, and at the moment I've found a great little trio for doing this.

I gave Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate a relatively positive review already here, and it's a product I've grown to adore and actually use religiously since. As a result of adding this into my routine long-term, my skin's never felt and looked better. It's an oil, rather than a serum, and the lavender scent is great for creating a relaxing bedtime mood. Infused with botanical extracts, I wake up with fresher, more radiant looking skin after using it.

The Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation Moisturiser* is fantastic for adding extra hydration to my skin overnight. Consistency-wise, it's heavier than a day moisturiser and doesn't sink in as quickly - but it provides the nourishment my skin needs throughout the night in order for it to be plumper and softer in the morning. Although I do like it a lot, the price tag does put me off repurchasing slightly - but for now it's doing an excellent job as a daily night cream.

I find that overnight my lips tend to dry out quite a bit, so to avoid waking up with them cracking and chapped, I put on a thick layer of Nuxe Reve De Miel lip balm. It's a lot thicker than most lip balms I've tried - more of a paste consistency, which means it's great for overnight protection and moisturising.

What are your night time skincare essential products?

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate, £36 (30ml) // Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation, £47 (50g) // Nuxe Reve De Miel, £9.50 (15ml)
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Easy, Healthy Breakfast Ideas: Overnight Oats - Vanilla & Strawberry

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Healthy Breakfast Overnight Oats Vanilla Strawberry Recipe
Healthy Breakfast Overnight Oats Vanilla Strawberry Recipe
Healthy Breakfast Overnight Oats Vanilla Strawberry Recipe

Weekday breakfasts are one of the hardest meals for me - I don't get up early enough to make myself anything more than a pretty unfulfilling slice of toast, and there are limited options for breakfast-al-desko that aren't either super-dull or ridiculously unhealthy. However, when I discovered the insanely simple Overnight Oats recipe, it completely changed how I see morning munching. Great for those in a rush as it takes about five minutes to prepare the night before, it's a healthy breakfast that tastes amazing, keeps you full until lunchtime AND looks appetizing as heck!

35g plain porridge oats
1 pot of MullerLight Vanilla Sprinkled with Dark Chocolate (or similar)
Chopped fruit - I opted for strawberries and banana, but you could use anything you like

Making up your overnight oats is ridiculously simple. Take a jar (I just used a medium-sized one we had in the kitchen), and layer your oats, yoghurt and fruit on top of each other - then simply pop them in the fridge overnight. During this time, the oats absorb the yoghurt and the fruit infuses itself into the mixture. Then when you're ready to tuck in the next morning, just stir it all together in the jar and enjoy!

If you're a fellow Slimming World-er, it's absolutely perfect - the oats count as your Healthy Extra B, and everything else is completely Syn-free! Even if you're not, it's still a great way to get some goodness into your morning before you've even settled down to getting any work done. The best thing about the recipe is it's incredibly versatile - you could add blueberries and raspberries, or diced apple and peach. If one flavour of yoghurt gets boring, there are so many other flavours you could add in - try MullerLight Banana and Custard with your strawberries, or their Skinny Cappucino for a much healthier morning 'coffee' fix.

Have you tried making overnight oats? What's your usual breakfast favourite?
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My Three Product Morning Skincare Routine

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Morning Skincare Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Body Shop Vitamin C Glow Boosting Moisturiser

When it comes to skincare, I've tried a LOT of products - like any blogging beauty fan, I'm always on the lookout for the next 'holy grail'. I find things I like quite a lot, and rarely end up settling for one routine for any length of time. However, for the past 3-4 months, I've managed to put together both morning and night time skincare routines that really work for me, using products that I plan on repurchasing and using for a long time to come. Keeping it simple is super important if you're time-pressed, and I've managed to get both day and night skincare down to three products that REALLY work for me.

Today is all about morning skincare! As you can probably tell from the packaging, I'm a bit of a fan of orange-scented products in the morning. Being the absolute worst morning person ever, having zingy products that wake me up as well as being great on my skin is a priority - and all three of these have lovely citrus smells that get me as ready as I'll ever be to face the day.

I've already given a full review to the amazing Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Collagen Booster serum, and it's still a firm favourite that I use pretty much every day without fail. The Vitamin C ingredients work wonders in smoothing out my skin, and it sinks in super-quickly - a must for speedy morning skincare. I've definitely noticed long-term benefits from regular use, with my skin looking tighter and brighter. Although I've heard mixed reviews of this, I personally absolutely rave about it to anyone who asks - it's easily the best daytime serum I've ever used.

The Body Shop's Vitamin C Glow Boosting Moisturiser* is something I featured as part of my Five Tips For Happy Skin post, and I really like its lightweight formula - something I always look for when it comes to a daytime moisturiser. It keeps my skin feeling soft, looking nourished and glowing throughout the day.

Finally, I'll slap on a little bit of The Body Shop's Vitamin C Instant Glow Enhancer. It makes a great, bright base for makeup, giving me an inner glow with or without foundation on top. Initially out of the tube, it looks thick, but using a tiny bit all over the face (particularly around the tops of my cheeks) makes for a great instant boost to grumpy morning skin.

I'll be posting up my three product night time skin routine later in the week, so check back to see three more awesome products that deliver! If you want to keep up to date with the latest posts on Mini Adventures, why not follow on Bloglovin?

What are your morning skincare essentials?
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Inspiring Books: Amanda Palmer - The Art Of Asking

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Amanda Palmer The Art Of Asking
Amanda Palmer The Art Of Asking

I’m one of those people who tends to devour books like a hungry lion ripping through meat; my eyes skipping across the pages as I long to discover where the plot leads and how the story unfolds. Sometimes, though, I stumble upon a rare book that I pore over – stopping and re-reading to let it all sink in, questioning what the words on the page are trying to tell me and how I relate to what's in front of me. A book that completely captures my imagination, my emotions and makes me reflect and think.

The Art of Asking is one of those books.

For those of you who don’t know who Amanda Palmer is (although you totally should as she's super rad), she’s a musician/artist/activist/general all-round badass chick who seems to be best known for her time in the (wonderful) Dresden Dolls and raising $1.2 million on Kickstarter to fund her album Theatre Is Evil. The latter led to her being asked to give TED talk which spread like wildfire online, and The Art of Asking followed. A memoir of sorts but also a personal reflection on art, society, love and much more,  her beginnings as a human statue through to being put under the spotlight of the media and record company pressures.

Amanda is an incredibly fascinating, engaging person – from her complete dedication to creating art that truly represents her, to the grassroots growth of the Dresden Dolls, to her unwavering commitment to treating fans as friends. There are also moments within the book when she reveals her uncertainties, mistakes and perceived flaws – something that’s hard to find in the glossy world of today’s media. The section on Amanda's time as a living statue is particularly well covered, and the concept of 'gifts' is really interestingly mused upon - and all relates back to how we as human beings are often so adverse to asking for help.

Amanda Palmer The Art Of Asking

What makes The Art of Asking so very special though, beyond just being a fascinating insight to the world of such an interesting creator and person, is the beautiful and sometimes brutal moments of honesty presented within the pages. Her openness is incredibly inspiring and fresh, which makes the whole book a really personal and powerful read. Amanda’s worries about the thoughts of others, her experience with abortion and her close relationships are frankly addressed, with complete soul-bearing raw emotion. However, as dark as some of the moments in the book are, much of the book gives a sense of joy and happiness, as Amanda empowers fellow humans to embrace 'The Art of Asking'.

Amanda has a rare ability that many people in the ‘spotlight’ seem to lack – inspiring others to embrace their inner self, truth and emotions. There are so many women out there who other women regularly proclaim they want to BE – but Amanda provides a different kind of inspiration. Instead of presenting a perfect image cropped into little boxes on a beautifully filtered Instagram, she reaches out to people, valuing making connections with ACTUAL PEOPLE over projecting a neat, pretty-pretty lifestyle. She embraces the imperfect, the messy and the unusual with an open heart and mind, and truly has a passion for her art and the people that inhabit her world.

For anyone who has an interest in creating - be it through art, music or just putting SOMETHING out there into the Universe - this is an absolute must-read. In fact, even for those without a creative bone in your body, READ THIS BOOK. I really hope that in years to come, I can pass my well-thumbed copy down to children, relatives and friends, and that it speaks to them in the way it speaks to me.
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