Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A Tribute to 2013

1. In Hong Kong with my boyfriend's family 2. Time's Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong 3. 2013 was the year of short hair for me! 4. Beautiful Metro posts in Paris 5. St. Paul's Cathedral, Macau  6. Hong Kong 7. Posing with the Seine and Eiffel Tower in Paris  8. Me and mum at breakfast in Paris, taken by an adorable waiter-- this is our only photograph together from the trip :-(  9. Made a vow to use my camera more this year, and I think I stuck to that.

This time last year I had never left England and believed that I didn't have enough power to change my own life. 2013, however, proved to be a year of enlightenment for me, beginning with my first journeys abroad. In March, I visited Hong Kong and spent two weeks completely exposed to a new culture and a new way of living-- they were two of the best weeks of my life. I even had the chance to spend a night in Macau, wandering the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral, eating authentic Portuguese food and losing myself in the casinos of the City of Dreams.

In August, my mum and I visited Paris. Unbelievably, this trip was the first time she had ever been abroad; after all, we only applied for our passports last year. She loved every single moment of it and I love 2013 for being the year that we both had our eyes opened by travel. 

2013 is also the year I became a fully qualified Teacher of English. This is one of the biggest achievements of my life so far, but despite the amazing feeling that came after delivering lessons my kids enjoyed and the way some of them looked up to me as their teacher, I felt as though I wasn't ready for it yet. Of course, this is what then led me to make the hardest decision of my life early on in the year-- I left the profession without knowing what was coming next. Now, I work in Editorial at one of the most prestigious academic publishers in the country, and every morning when I get in to the office I genuinely cannot believe that I'm there. 

So there it is, my panegyric on 2013 and everyone and everything that came with it. 

Happy New Year.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Glossybox: December 2013

Caught up in the Christmas chaos spirit as I was, I completely forgot to post about this month's Glossybox. After opening my first box last month, I felt slightly let down by the mediocrity of the contents and considered cancelling my subscription. However, on seeing the beautifully packaged December box, with a suitably Christmassy design on the front, I was hopeful that things would change for the better.

Unfortunately, I'm still feeling slightly disillusioned. I received a Schick Razor blade for sensitive skin; a Seche Vite nail polish in Blanc; Maybelline Colossal mascara; a Beautiful Movements lip gloss; and a couple of Rich Skin Food samples.

Thoughts? As a girl with a lot of dark hair, the razor will come in useful, so that's great. I love my Seche Vite top coat so it's nice to see the brand in my box, but... who wears white nail polish? Mascara is always useful, so that was nice to see. Those samples though? ABOUT A YEAR OUT OF DATE. Glossybox sent out an email about this, and Yin Yang are offering disappointed Glossyboxers a complimentary product, but wah... I can't be bothered with the kerfuffle.

I haven't cancelled my subscription yet but I'm really struggling to hang on here. Some others seem to be getting a better selection of items in their boxes, so I'm hoping that thus far I've just been unfortunate and my time will come... soon.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Lost in the Dark.

This is me right now.

This dark-at-four-o'clock thing? I cannot. I want nothing more than to fall into a five-month period of hibernation the minute the clocks go back, and I'm sure that the people who have to deal with me on a day-to-day basis during these winter months must feel the same.

It's no secret that I hate summer (or at least, I hate the way it makes me feel) but I would give my last peanut butter cup to not have to fear for my life whilst walking to work and back in the dark; to not have to watch the sun set at 4pm; to be able to walk the rescue dogs on a warm, sunny day.

I wouldn't mind a perpetual spring, where I could still hide myself inside of coat, but have a lot more light in my life. 

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Review: Essie Luxedo and Merino Cool [Autumn/Winter Nails]

Essie Luxedo and Merino Cool
It's really happening. I'm fighting The Fear™ one day at a time and breaking out the dark nail shades; I actually wore Essie's Luxedo for  FOUR WHOLE DAYS in a row last week, which is a feat to behold  for me. Being a deep purple/black shade, I'm a big fan of Luxedo as it's a little less feminine than black polishes with berry undertones— something which I'm definitely not ready for yet. 

Another Essie polish that I've had for a while but have recently started paying attention to again, is Merino Cool. This is such a chic and unique mulberry colour, which oozes sophistication whenever you put it on. It also helps that, like Luxedo, the staying power isn't too shabby either. 

Now that I'm combating The Fear I'm pretty excited to see what else is out there for me. Maybe in a couple of months time I'll be a new woman. A new woman wearing Revlon Red. Ha!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Glossybox: November 2013

Left to right:  Vichy Idealia Life Serum samples; Emite Make Up Micronized Eyeshadow in Dams; Yves Rocher Cacoa and Pistachio Hand Cream; Elegant Touch Rapid Dry for Nails; and Scholl Dry Skin Exfoliator 
After considering a subscription for a while, I finally decided to sign up for Glossybox. When the package turned up at work I was INCREDIBLY excited, because who doesn't love getting a box of surprise beauty products every month? 

Admittedly, I wasn't that thrilled when I opened the box because I could easily purchase 60% of these items from Boots, and probably wouldn't even do that if I had the option. The Yves Rocher hand cream smells quite nice and lord knows I could do with a dry skin exfoliator right now, but I expected something a little more... exotic. Alas. I'm sure I will get some use out of these products, but I hope that things get a little more exciting next month. 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Review: Revlon Chroma Chameleon in Pink Quartz [Autumn/Winter Nails]

Revlon's Chroma Chameleon in Pink Quartz
I've been a big fan of metallic polishes ever since I permanently borrowed Revlon's 24k from my moma couple of months ago (see image under the cut), so imagine my excitement when I came across Revlon's Chroma Chameleon collection which consists of the most intriguing duochrome varnishes. As usual, in careful consideration of my financial situation, I only picked up one of the colours, and that colour was Pink Quartz.

As you can see from the image above, Pink Quartz is a delicate combination of pale pink and smooth, mellow gold. Out of all of the colour combinations, I thought that I would get the most wear out of this one as it is simultaneously subtle and stunning when you catch it in the right light.

In terms of application and longevity, the formula is quite runny but the colour builds up well enough after the second coat, which makes application average enough. And lasting power? It's fine, but nothing to write home about. On the whole, I suppose that this polish makes up in colour what it lacks in technicalities. And I think that's fine by me for now.

*Not to worry, I can spell. I've spelled 'mom' this way ever since I can remember; the British English spelling makes me cringe.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Review: Barry M Textured Nail Effect in Lady [Autumn/Winter Nails]

Barry M Textured Nail Effect in Lady
At the beginning of October, Boots released Barry M's new Royal Glitters Collection, which I imagine is a bit of nod to the RoyalFamilyFever the whole world seems to have been experiencing of late. Baby Whatshisface aside though, I'm quite a big fan of this collection, which is made up of five feminine shades with a textured, glittery finish. Not feeling the need to purchase every single colour, I chose the one which appealed to me the most-- Lady.

Lady is a crisp, sparkling glitter polish, which pays an uncanny resemblance to snow. The textured effect adds depth and dimension to the effect, but it can be easily glossed over with a good top coat. I think this is the perfect winter shade if you want to mix things up a little, but be warned... As is typical with textured and glitter polishes, this is infuriatingly difficult to remove. I'm sure we've all found, however, that we quickly forget the pain and agony of removing glitter polishes, and find ourselves doing it all over again. A bit like childbirth, I suppose. Uh.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Review: Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream

Winter is coming, and cold weather means dry hands, crusty cuticles and hoards of White Walkers. In an attempt to combat the second of these afflictions, I started using Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream, which is the consistency of a waxy, hard-set balm with the pungent citric odor of bathroom cleaning products. Needless to say, I'm not a fan of the scent, but the product itself does a fair enough job of keeping my cuticles calm and moisturised. 

Having used this for a while now, I don't feel the urge to rave about it like quite a few other people; I like it, but I probably wouldn't buy it again-- not at £5.99 anyway. Now that I have a desk job, I'm finding that I moisturise my hands quite often, and that it's actually proving to be more effective than the cuticle cream. I mean, never before have I pulled off my gloves in public and NOT felt ashamed about the little dry patches between my thumbs and forefingers. In others words, just get a hand moisturiser and use it-- that way, you have soft cuticles AND hands, without smelling like one of those tree-shaped air fresheners. 

...Unless you're into that sort of thing, of course.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Innocent Big Knit

Teddy kindly offered to model one of my little hats
Last week I decided to learn how to knit. I became inspired by some work colleagues at my new job (this is a whole other post in itself) who are taking part in the Innocent Big Knit. If you don't already know what this is, it's a joint campaign between Age UK and Innocent drinks where they are asking people to knit tiny little hats for Innocent bottles in order to raise money for vulnerable older people this winter. For every innocent bottle sold, 25p will be donated to help the cause. Of course, you can also donate as much extra money as you would like, but I think that the Big Knit has definitely made me more aware of something I wasn't as aware of before. And of course, it has inspired me to take up knitting. Learning to knit was rage-inducing; I had to stay very far away from my boyfriend whilst learning to cast on, otherwise I don't know what kind of terrible things could have happened. It all worked out all right in the end though, and I'm getting ready to send my hats off before the October 31st deadline. Tiny hats all around!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

'The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs.' -Charles de Gaulle

Bad day at the office and everyone else thinks you're rubbish? Dog loves you. Bad haircut that won't grow back for years? Dog loves it and actually thinks you look better than ever. In the midst of a winter vomiting bug with stuffed sinuses thrown in just for a laugh? Dog isn't aware of airborne diseases and wouldn't mind even if he was. I love dogs. I find it incredible that they can come to love you so unconditionally

Unfortunately, I live in a rented flat and work all day, so having a dog isn't really an option for me right now. This is incredibly depressing and I'm going to work something out; surely there are people out there who work all day and own dogs, too? People have kids and still go to work, right? I'll bring my dog to canine nursery if that's what it's going to take.

Until I get it all figured out, I've taken to visiting a rescue centre nearly every weekend, where I can spend time with all kinds of dogs that are waiting to be re-homed. I fall in love every time I visit, and it's very hard to leave when after being with them for a couple of hours, I've convinced myself that they're mine.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Oops, I did it again...

I never thought that I would become addicted to cutting my hair, but here I am with an actual, proper, real-life bob. Ta-Dah!                                                                                                                                                                     

Saturday, 14 September 2013

What I'm Wearing

1. TOPSHOP. Pink Long Sleeve Oxford Shirt, £30.00; 2. OFFICE. Educated Loafer in Black Nubuck, £58.00;
. CAMBRIDGE SATCHEL COMPANY. 15" Batchel, £130.00; 4. TOPSHOP. Heart Motif Oxford Shirt, £34.00;
5. Generic black cigarette trousers

For as a long as I can remember, my style-- or extreme lack thereof-- and sense of self have been in a state of constant flux, but for a while now I've been into very simple, clean-cut clothing. I love wearing shirts and cardigans with clean, neat lines and no fuss, so it's very exciting that this kind of look seems to be trending at the moment. I think I was one of the only kids at school who actually enjoyed wearing the full shirt-tie-blazer uniform every day, so maybe I'm channeling my teenage self by falling for something so similar...

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Review: L'Oreal EverRiche Nourishing and Flowing Conditioner and Mask Pot

Although I've never bleached or coloured my hair (though I did have it chemically relaxed when I was about 15-- big mistake),  it's naturally very curly and I use straighteners on regular basis, which means that it isn't in the best condition. I spend a lot of time feeling guilty about my hair, so I'm always looking out for new products which will make me feel slightly less horrible about what I'm doing to it. A couple of months ago I started hearing good things about the L'Oreal EverRiche hair products, so when I saw that they were 2 for £9.99 in Boots I was quick to finally give them a go.

One of the big selling points of these new L'Oreal hair products is that they are free from sulfates*, which have come under attack in recent years because they can create frizziness and damage coloured hair, amongst other things. I certainly know that there's a whole supergroup of curly-haired girls who swear by a "No Poo" shampoo regimen to maintain sleek and healthy curls, so there must be some truth to the anti-sulfates movement. I think that the lack of sulfates would probably be more noticeable in shampoos due to the lack of lather, but I didn't buy the shampoo so I'm afraid I can't comments on that part of the line!

The Conditioner: This particular conditioner is targeted towards people with dry and fine hair, which I think it quite similar to my own texture because although my hair is quite dry/coarse I think that it could be considered fine despite having LOTS of it, so this sounded perfect for me. The texture of the conditioner is creamy without being sticky, and it left my hair feeling moisturised and smooth without weighing it down. Another big plus is that I absolutely love the sweet coconut/vanilla scent of this conditioner. I would definitely purchase this again.

The Mask: Honestly, I've only used this mask once, but I feel quite disappointed by what I've seen from it so far. It feels creamier in consistency than the standard conditioner, but I didn't see or feel any major results either on application in the shower, getting out of the shower, or drying and straightening my hair. It just didn't seem to do anything at all for me. However, I am going to give it another go because it claims to 'Protect from dryness', so it may be that it works over time as opposed to giving immediate effects. We'll see.

*Sulfates, most notably, create that lather in household products and shampoos.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Review: MeMeMe Little Angels Collection

I was around 18/19 when I really started "getting into" make up, and two of the first few products I bought alongside my trusty black kohl, were a lip tint and highlighter from MeMeMe Cosmetics; I think I originally sought after these because they appeared to be a cheaper alternative to Benfit's benetint and high beam.  I remember quite liking the products at the time and a couple of weeks ago I found myself wanting to try them out again, so I ended up buying the Little Angels Collection which contains the tint and highlighter which I'd tried before, and two others which I hadn't. And oh man... How I wish I didn't bother... 

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Review: Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara

At a Bobbi Brown event that I went to a few months ago, one of the MUAs suggested that you should avoid putting mascara on your bottom lashes because it can close the eye and, in short, doesn't do anybody any favours. I had to ignore that professional advice, however, because the very act she was warning us against was in fact an integral part of my make-up routine. Granted, I can understand why she would recommend such an omission when I think back to all of the dark 5am mornings where I've tried to apply bottom-lash mascara with a wand the size of a bumblebee and come out of the whole experience looking altogether pandalicious... but that hasn't stopped me yet.

This is where Clinique Bottom Lash comes in. This company clearly understands the mental and physical struggle* which people such as myself have when it comes to putting mascara on your bottom lashes: standard mascara wands are too big so you end up getting products all over the place, and where a non-waterproof mascara might be fine on your top lashes, it just isn't going to cut it on the bottom lids which are more susceptible to moisture. So when I discovered Clinique Bottom Lash I couldn't believe my eyes because, joy of joys, it has a miniature wand which picks up just enough product for precise application, and a smear-resisting formula. Perfect. 

Honestly, it pained me to pay £12 for 2ml of mascara, but I've got to admit that it does give a much cleaner, defined and smudge-free result in comparison to the unavoidable mess that I normally create when trying to achieve a similar look with a standard-sized mascara. I do like this product very, very much; it fulfills its claims and my needs wonderfully.

But would I but it again? Perhaps, if I had more of a disposable income. It's just too expensive to become a regular staple in my routine right now. I guess I'm just going to have to learn how to be EXTRA careful with my regular mascara wands in the future. Alas...

For more pictures of the wand and application, check out the link below!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Introvert Blogger

Studies have shown that, indeed, introverts are more likely than extroverts to express intimate facts about themselves online that their family and friends would be surprised to read... They welcome the chance to communicate digitally. The same person who finds it difficult to raise his hand in a lecture hall of two hundred people might blog to two thousand, or two million, without thinking twice. Susan Cain, Quiet, p. 63.

I'm currently reading Susan Cain's Quiet and it's helping to make me feel a little less inadequate about being an introvert. My mum recently confessed that when I started training to be a teacher, she was slightly concerned about whether or not I would be able to hack it, probably as a result of my being intrinsically shy and a bit of a wallflower. I've said it before and I'll say it again: fake it 'til you make it. I owned my classroom, and my introversion didn't get in the way of that; in fact, I quickly found that I'm quite the performer when teaching and actually recited the entirety of Valerie Bloom's 'What Fe Call I'' in patois, much to the amusement of one of my year 8 classes.

Normally, however, I do spend a lot of time mentally preparing myself for situations where my typically introverted personality traits just aren't going to cut the mustard, and I do prefer quiet nights in more than your average extrovert, but Cain does a good job of reminding me that I'm not rubbish just because I'm inherently quiet.

I thought that the quotation above would be perfect for sharing in the blogosphere because I can recall a huge number of bloggers/vloggers who have 'confessed' to either introversion or problems with social anxiety (note: both are not mutually exclusive; you can be one without experiencing the other). I find it interesting that despite these traits, we are still willing to share ourselves with hundreds/thousands/millions of people online... and enjoy doing it.

Image credit: Drew at toothpastefordinner.com 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Review: L'Oréal Glam Shine Stain Splash in 200 Princess

L'Oréal Glam Shine Stain Splash in 200 Princess. RRP: £7.99.
Back in April, my friend Natalie gifted me a lovely box full of various cosmetics and amongst them was the L'Oréal Glam Shine Stain Splash in 200 Princess. I've been developing quite a liking for more intense lip colours of late, so Princess was a nice surprise; although I have to admit that I'm not the biggest fan of glossy lip products because I accidentally eat my hair enough as it is without added gloss to maximise the stick factor. So, has Glam Shine changed my mind?

The good: 
  • This is a very high-shine product, and once you build the colour up to your liking, it's incredibly striking and glamorous. 
  • Sleek packaging which gives a satisfying click on closure.
  • Staying power is fine until you start eating or drinking. As noted, this is a stain so while the gloss may disappear after a couple of hours, some colour does remain. 
  • According to others who have tried them, these are a good dupe for the YSL Glossy Stains.
The bad:
  • There is something about the sweet/mildly fruity scent and taste of this product that I absolutely cannot stand. In theory, it is so mild that it should be inoffensive, but it grinds my gears so much that I'm driven almost to the point of not wearing it.
  • Initial application looks streaky and inconsistent when I apply it, and I found that I needed to apply about three layers to get an opaque, even colour. 
  • I found that as the product began fading away I was left with a dreaded rim of colour around the lips-- not a good look! Perhaps this could be managed with a lip primer, though. Natalie keeps recommending that I get one, but I've yet to find anything affordable! 
L'Oréal Glam Shine Stain Splash in 200 Princess.
Overall, I would say that Glam Shine hasn't really changed my mind about glosses and I am far too intimidated by the colour to wear it out of the house just yet, but I do feel that this would be a great product for people who are after glossy and vibrant lips.

Sunday, 25 August 2013


A couple of weeks ago I wrote an anxiety-ridden post about me and my mum possibly going on holiday together, lamenting the situation and acting altogether ridiculous about the entire thing. As it transpired, I did actually end up booking a holiday for us despite all of the drama, and at 12:10pm on August 16th we were on our way to Paris while my mum was celebrating travelling on a plane for the first time in her life. It was wonderful. I loved the architecture, the language, the food  and the people. But most of all I loved that my mum was finally outside of England and enjoying somewhere new.

I also have to say that my stint on Duolingo and 3 years of secondary school French went a fair way towards helping me understand maps, menus and occasionally, Parisians; in fact, my first French utterance-- Parlez-vous anglais?-- endeared our taxi driver so much that he proceeded to exclaim his love for me and blow kisses through the rear-view mirror. It was at that moment I began fearing for my life. I quickly found myself disregarding the 81p overseas charge whilst texting my boyfriend 'If anything happens it was the taxi driver' and started planning my rolling escape from the car.

Needless to say, the Taken scenario which I dreaded-- and thought might actually occur during that taxi ride-- did not come to fruition, and we both had a brilliant weekend away. Click below for a small selection of the photographs I took!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Hong Kong Compilation

Now that I have a bit of free time on my hands, I finally got around to making some sort of sense out of all the little videos that I took whilst away in Hong Kong. So, here it is!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Cool Stuff: Hong Kong Cup Covers

I'm about to talk about Hong Kong again, okay? While I was there I noticed a trend of people owning little hats for their cups, and naturally I needed to jump on the bandwagon. During a day trip to Stanley, which is in the Southern District of Hong Kong, I found THE cutest cup covers which are also very practical. Some of the covers I saw were hard plastic and acted just like a saucepan lid for instance, but the pair we bought are silicone and actually form an airtight seal around the cup. I love these covers because they can help to keep your drink warm for slightly longer, keep bugs out, and most importantly, brighten up your day with their presence-- JUST LOOK AT THEM:

Look at that suction! The yellow cat cover is Jonathan's and the pink rabbit is mine ^_^

Monday, 5 August 2013

Hong Kong Hair Accessories

When I went to Hong Kong earlier this year, I couldn't help but be amazed by the variety of hair accessories that I found in their drugstores. There were so many USEFUL products that I had never seen before and I did feel a little bit bitter that we hadn't reached a similar level of innovation and creativity in the UK. Needless to say, I couldn't resist and must have filled at least 1 kg of my luggage allowance with hair accessories alone. So, here's a run down of a few of my favourites.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Review: Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Rendezvous

LOOK AT THAT FACE. Just look at how bloody jovial I look. Do you want to know why? REVLON KISSABLE BALM STAIN IN RENDEZVOUS-- THAT'S WHY. I've already given you the run down on a few of the other Just Bitten shades I own (here and here), but Rendezvous is the most recent and one of the most daring to find its way into my stash. I've had a bit of a thing for orange lip products since I dabbled with Revlon's Tutti-Frutti Lip Butter early last year, so after about twenty seconds of deliberation, I figured that the only thing to do was to go ahead and pick up Rendezvous, too. Click below to read more.

Monday, 29 July 2013

The Anxiety Monster

So, you know how I had never been abroad/experienced life outside of England before I went to Hong Kong earlier this year? Well, my mum has never been away either and it has come to the point where she is sick of being a travel n00b and would like ME to do something about it. There is an issue here, however, in that I am absolutely terrified of us, naive and alone, going away and finding ourselves in some sort of Taken scenario without Liam Neeson to save us. I mean, I DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW ONE GOES ABOUT BOOKING A HOLIDAY. I'm having to take deep reassuring breaths as I type this because the thought is making me queasy. 

There is a famous, philosophical saying which sometimes helps me through some of my worst anxiety attacks: fake it 'til you make it. I am one of the most anxious, tightly-wound individuals that I know, but I faked it all the way through my Teacher Training course and now I can stand in a room full of teenagers and not give a flying figurine what they think of me. See, what I'm trying to do here is type myself into feeling a little less sick and a little more positive about this potential holiday.

To tell you the truth, my anxiety is a learned behaviour and it is possible that my mum will talk herself out of the whole thing without any input from me. We'll see.

Image credit: I don't know! If you own this spot-on illustration, drop me a comment and I'll make sure you're recognised!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Review: Avene Thermal Water Spray

Avene Thermal Water Spray 30ml -- £3.15 at Boots
Right now in England, it's the kind of hot where you can't sleep at night and you spend all day festering in your own perspiration no matter how hard you try to stay fresh.  I've never been the biggest fan of summer, but as per everything in my life, I think that's a result of my own insecurities-- but that's a whole other story. Anyway, I have been trying everything and anything that I can to stay cool; I've even taken to soaking my clothes in water WHILST WEARING THEM.

Alongside soaking my clothing, I've also been using Avene's Thermal Water Spray in an attempt to manage my suffering (don't fret-- I'm being tongue-in-cheek hyperbolic). Avene describes the product as an 'essential soothing care product' with 'comforting and refreshing action' to keep you cool and comfortable in summer or when travelling.

My boyfriend finds it hilarious that I'm paying £3.15 for a product which is, essentially, pressurised water with a few extra vitamins and minerals thrown in. Honestly, this isn't too far from the truth, but I have found that the Thermal Water Spray does actually do everything it says on the tin. I've spritzed it on razor burn and it works; I've used it to 'de-powderfy' my face after make-up application and it works; but most importantly right now, it is perfect for cooling me down in this weather. I usually spray it all over my face and body when I'm feeling a bit icky and it makes me feel instantly fresher, which I suppose is something to do with the evaporation process taking some of the heat away from my body.

So, do you need this? I don't know. I'm wondering whether you would get the same effect if you filled up a travel bottle with tap water. Maybe I'll give it a go, but something's telling me that Council Pop won't soothe the dreaded razor burn like this seems to do.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Review: Barry M Textured Nail Paint in Ridley Road

Textured nail polish has boomed into popularity over the past few months, with Nails Inc. allowing you to commit a denim on denim on denim fashion faux pas with their 'Denim Effect' nail paint; while Ciaté, aiming for opulence and extravagance, devised textures like soft velvet and bubbly caviar.

Ridley Road by Barry M is quite tame in comparison but is still just different enough to save you a seat on the bandwagon. It's a vibrant mint green colour which pays homage to Essie Mint Candy Apple and is bound to be a popular colour for the second summer running. But is this particular polish worth the hype? Click the link below to find out more.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Feeling a little... under the weather?

Exhibit A: My second roll of the week. Note to readers: Invest in some proper tissue; I'm currently sporting the 'Sandpaper Nostrils' look.

Picture this: It's the 8th of July and before I can even utter the phrase "I hate this heat", I realise that I'm coming down with the mother of all colds and there's nothing I can do to stop it. So here I am, sat at my desk with palms resting on a laptop that is overheating like my body, while lamenting the fact that I've got a chest full of mucus and a nose that could run itself to Tahiti and back if I let it. I've been trying ever so hard to avoid any self-pity, but I suppose this post is a testament to the fact that I've failed in all attempts at that. 

I suppose, if nothing else, I've become quite adept at making tissue plugs to stop various leakages. Hideous isn't it? 

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Tony Moly Peach Hand Cream

So I'm just sitting around thinking about Hong Kong again. I miss being there, going to new places, finding out new things and feeling like I was doing something worthwhile with my life and my time. I'm thinking about it again now because I finally found my Ruby Woo lipstick which I thought I had left there somewhere. I was almost disappointed to find it. There was something quite nice, and admittedly quite ridiculous, about thinking "Well, I've lost my very expensive lipstick in Hong Kong, I guess I'm just going to have to go back and find it..." Alas. 

Speaking of cosmetics and Hong Kong and all of that kind of thing, I didn't actually bring much back with me. I imagined myself walking through the equivalent of Boots and Superdrug, sweeping my arms across the shelves, knocking EVERYTHING in sight into my basket like a woman possessed. That didn't happen, however. Don't get me wrong, though; I'm pretty sure I visited every SaSa, Colormix, Watsons, Mannings, etc. store they had in Hong Kong, but I found that I was able to resist. It's like that stuff didn't really matter to me any more because I had discovered a new place and new people and other things I had never seen before. 

I did stumble upon some pretty irresistible hand creams though. They're both from Tonymoly and they are possibly the most beautifully scented creams I have ever smelled. They are both shaped like the fruits they smell like, and I still can't believe how to true-to-life the scents are-- I love walking around all day smelling like apples and peaches. They cost 55HKD each, so about £4.50. Just look at this packaging:

For anybody interested, you can click here to buy the handcreams at YESSTYLE for £8. Womp. 

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Review: GHD IV Styler

For Christmas last year Jonathan gifted me my first ever pair of GHDs: the IV Salon Styler, which I reviewed here. I had coveted a pair of GHDs for a VERY LONG TIME--probably since an obsession which begun in a girls' bathroom sometime during secondary school-- and I wasn't disappointed when I was given my own pair. The IV Salon Styler is brilliant at tackling my thick and naturally curly hair, and I manage to get through the whole straightening process very quickly thanks to the added width; HOWEVER, 6 months later, with hair that is probably over 6 inches shorter, I felt that the original IV Styler would suit my CURRENT needs better. 

So, why's that then? There are two main reasons:

  • Getting to the root of things: The GHD IV Salon Styler has more of a 'lip' either sides of the plates, which makes it SLIGHTLY more difficult to get close enough to the roots. This probably isn't that big of an issue for most people, but because my curls start immediately at the roots, there are some very curly areas which require very close contact. I feel that the original IV styler is much better at this due to the less pronounced lip on either side of the plates.

  • Combating the Curl Problem: I HATE completely pin-straight hair (on me). I love a little curly and movement towards the ends, but due to the rectangular shape of the IV Salon Styler, it is nigh impossible to produce anything more than a subtle wave, which, I found, dropped within 20 minutes. The original IV styler has a more petite curved barrel which makes for easy and effective curling! 

Half Term Happenings -- Photographs

Beautiful 1950s-style kitchen in Basildon House. There was actually somebody making shortbread here but alas... Bloody coeliac.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Review: MAC Chile Lipstick

A beautifully matte, beautifully chilli, paprika-looking red. I'm not sure what made me pick this lipstick up because it looks bloody intimidating standing there on the shelf in all of its bright red glory... but I'm glad I did. I feel like Chile compliments my skin tone well, and somehow manages not to look like too much while still being stunningly vibrant. I like to pat a little of this on and rub it in for a more casual look, though. I don't know if I'm quite ready to leave the house with a full-on red lip just yet. Give it time.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Gluten Free Goodness @ The Hummingbird Bakery -- Making Coeliac Disease Bearable!

Red Velvet 'Made Without' Cupcake @ Hummingbird Bakery
Update: I no longer eat Hummingbird Bakery's 'Made Without' range because the cakes are not guaranteed to be gluten free  (this is a disclaimer many establishments offering 'made without'  or 'gluten free' food stand by) and I was glutened on a later occasion after eating one. It's a real shame. 

First of all, let me tell you this: I experience feelings of unadulterated joy any time that I discover gluten-free food products which don't taste like they're made of cement. For example, the first time I squeezed Genius bread in Tesco and the dough actually bounced back with the vitality and spring of a loaf full of gluten, I stared at my mum with glistening eyes, mouthing the words "I can't believe it's gluten-free". So you can imagine the hysteria that ensued when I tried my first 'Made Without' Hummingbird Bakery cupcake on Portobello Road in London's Notting Hill. 

I walked out of the tiny little shop with my tiny little box and it's tiny little handle, and it wasn't until I got home to Reading about two hours later that I took my first bite. The combination of the sweet but not-too-much-so butter and cream cheese frosting, alongside the perfectly moist and springy sponge base sent me into a teary-eyed frenzy of amazement. Could this really be gluten-free? Could it? Update: Apparently not! 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Birthday Box

I received this fantastic little box of beauty surprises from my friend Natalie who shares my love of all things beauty~ [check out her blog here]. She is definitely my biggest enabler when it comes to buying things; I ended up spending money that I don't have at a Bobbi Brown event because of her (yes, all her fault, nothing to do with me and my lack of self-restraint), but that's another story entirely. It was so lovely to receive this after the very strange and difficult couple of weeks I've been having. 

Review: Inglot Eyeshadows

It was through the grapevine that I first heard good things about Inglot, the affordable make-up brand developed by chemist Wojtek Inglot. Bloggers before me have praised the brand for its beautiful packaging and the great quality products at prices which aren't going to make you feel the nauseating, and all-too-common, Buyer's Remorse™. I didn't feel sick at all when I left Inglot with five shadows (£4.50 each) and a palette (£7) to store them in. Not one little bit. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a good sign. 

Left to right: Matte 328; Matte Square 357; Matte Square 327; AMC Shine 21; Pearl 421. Total £30
The London Westfield store is quite minimalist with a counter in the centre--if I remember correctly--entirely dedicated to eyeshadows. On entering, you grab a magnetic slab which you fill with products of your choice as you wander around. Despite how practical this sounds and feels at first, I couldn't help but feel slightly concerned about the logistics of the whole process: now, providing that you get to the product first, you're good to go; if, however, somebody has already picked the product up, there's a chance that you may never have known it was there for the duration of their/your stay in the store. Somebody stop me if I'm missing something here, but I feel that the more popular the brand becomes, and thus the  busier the store, something's going to have to give.

As usual, I decided to pick neutral colours which I knew I could turn to no matter the occasion. Matte 328 is a great highlight/base colour for me; Matte Square 357 is also a good base colour or a crease colour if I want something very subtle; Matte Square 327 is a great crease colour for me,  while AMC Shine 21 and Pearl 421 are good for when I want something a little more interesting.

The colour pay off from each of these shadows is very impressive. My swatches below don't really do the products much justice, but I'm just going to go out on a limb here and say that the Inglot eyeshadows that I've tried could probably hold their own against higher-end brands like MAC and Bobbi Brown. I mean, I'm sat here comparing Matte Square 357 to Bobbi Brown's Cocoa, and if I didn't know any better I would say that both products were from the same brand.  If that's not recommendation enough, I don't know what is.

Inglot AMC Shine 21
Left to right: Matte 328; Matte Square 357; Matte Square 327; AMC Shine 21; Pearl 421.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

NEW HAIR: Mid-Length, Subtle A-Line Bob

It was last Saturday when I sat in Birmingham City Centre's Toni&Guy, shouting "JUST DO IT BEFORE I CHANGE MY MIND", whilst bracing myself for the shortest haircut I've ever had. I felt a nauseating mixture of excitement and fear as Lolly (brap brap) cut off inch after inch of my hair.

It was the backlash from my mum that I feared the most. As a perpetually short-haired woman, she has this thing where she lives vicariously through my hair, and I knew this would be devastated if I lost more than an inch at the hairdressers. I did it anyway. And do you know what the worst thing is? It was her birthday.

But hang on. PLOT TWIST. Turns out that rather than taking away the life that she gave me, SHE ACTUALLY QUITE LIKED IT. As do I. It feels like a new me. I feel like I'm "supposed" to have short hair... or something. The only thing is, I'm not sure sure what to do with it half the time (styling tips for mid-length hair, anyone?) and I've heard that styles like this are pretty hard to maintain. 

Hopefully I won't end up regretting the pants off of this decision. Fingers crossed.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Nail Polish Shopping in Hong Kong: Sellotape for Swatches

Whilst in Hong Kong I stumbled upon a really cute cosmetics brand called Tonymoly and ended up in one of their stores on Victoria Peak. I'm not a fan of being 'bothered' whilst I'm shopping, but about 30 seconds into browsing nail polish, a saleswoman came up to me and slapped a strip of clear sticky tape on the back of my hand.

WTF, right? ...But wait.

She then proceeded to ask me which colours I liked and started SWATCHING THEM ON THE TAPE. Such a simple idea, and yet so fantastic. Many times I've bought a nail polish thinking it was something it turned out not to be. Boots, Superdrug, John Lewis, Debenhams... Where are my strips of tape?

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Hong Kong

Visiting Hong Kong was one of the most amazing, insightful and cultural experience that I've ever had in my life.

On the first night, I cried myself to sleep wondering how I would make it through the next two weeks; I realised quite quickly that I was suffering from culture shock. Hong Kong is an interesting place in that one moment you feel as though you are in London, and then next, somewhere where very far away from that, and very different. 

I stayed in Heung Fa Cheun with Jon's family for the duration of the trip. Everyday we did something different. We caught the ferry to Cheung Chau island and after half an hour of feeling more nauseous than ever before in my life we spent a day exploring and eating a lot of fish balls. We went to Macau, watched the BRILLIANT House of Dancing Water show and stayed the night in the incredible Hard Rock Hotel after wondering around the casinos.
Blake Pier in Stanley

On the 3rd or 4th day I went with Jonathan and his family to a cemetery on top of a hill at the border of China, to pay worship to their ancestors as part of the Chung Yeung Festival. I felt incredibly privileged to be there with them, but also slightly like I shouldn't have been. It's something that I'll remember forever, though: eating boiled goose eggs and pork on the edge of a mountain while people all around us burned paper replications of worldly goods for the dead.

Strolling through the beautiful Stanley, catching the Peak Tram to the highest point in the city, and bustling and haggling my way through the markets in Mong Kok are also things I will never forget. I may have purchased a replica designer handbag which I still feel guilty about now. I was literally grabbed by a stall owner wanting me to buy her embroidered product. And I did. I ate a lot of interesting food, often saw  the fried faces of various poultry items staring up at me while I ate, and muttered expletives at my coeliac disease while eating things that I knew were filled to the brim with gluten. Afterall... YOLO.* 

* I began using this for humorous/satirical effect, but I'm finding that it's actually becoming an embarrassingly permanent fixture in my vocabulary. 
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