Sunday, 28 December 2014

2014 At A Glance

So its quickly come round to that time again where we begin to look back and reflect on our year, on ourselves and what we have achieved or maybe the things that we haven't achieved.  Mostly I find the end of another year to be a bit of a bitter sweet moment: I'm excited for the new year ahead and for the prospects of a fresh start and new ventures that lie ahead but I also find it quite sad that another year of my life is about to end.

I've long since abandoned New Years Resolutions, and because I'm usually always thinking way ahead of myself,this year I decided to set a sort of bucket list of '25 Before 25' instead. I definitely found this a more fun approach to setting myself goals as it wasn't like resolutions where you basically just set yourself up for failure year after year.

And so when I think back on my 2014, I have to say that it was certainly a successful, healthy and eventful one. When you can glance back on a year and honestly say to yourself that you achieved something, were fit and healthy and did things that made you happy I think its safe to say it was a good year.

The game changer? Qualifying in my profession, starting my own business, quitting a job that made me miserable and starting one that brings me such an amazing sense of satisfaction and purpose. Doing a job that I enjoy and can be proud of has changed so much for me. I feel at ease and like my life is finally going down a path that it was made for. I'm more confident in myself, my abilities and I've done things this year that I never would have dreamed of doing before. I feel grateful to have had the support of everyone around me in my ventures, in letting me take a few risks and hopefully continue to watch them pay off.

I was lucky enough to go on two holidays this year, it was the first time I had been abroad since getting the dogs in 2011! I also got to see Taylor Swift perform her Red Tour at the 02 back in February - I LOVE Taylor so that was amazing. I spent quality time with my loved ones, celebrated quite a few big events with my family over the course of the year, dad won some money on the lottery in January and took us all out for a lovely meal, then my mum turned 50 in the summer and we also had a pearl wedding anniversary in 2014.

Something I never imagined I would be able to do, but did this year and that was learn to crochet. I've watched my mum crochet on and off all of my life and have always thought it beautiful. Over the summer and thanks to much patience from her, this cack handed leftie somehow managed to pick up the art of crochet. It was so rewarding when I finally got it - I've loved making things for myself and to give to other people its been a really lovely skill to learn and hopefully it will be something that sticks with me.

I know that sometimes its easy to take things for granted, but looking back at this year has made me realise that I have so much to be thankful for. I wish that I could learn to better appreciate every single day the health of my loved ones that are all at arms length to me. Next year may not be so smooth sailing, but I will try my hardest to remind myself of the enormous sacrifices my family are about to make. I live in the hope that my parents' utter selflessness will be worth it in the end.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Lipstick | Envious

Tis the season for red lipstick! Although you probably know that I love supporting a red lip all year round but what better time than on the week of Christmas? If you caught my recent festive lipstick post earlier this month you may have already seen this Estee Lauder lovely pop up and I realised that I hadn't done a full write up on this gorgeous lipstick. I purchased this back in September on my holiday and it quickly made its way into my stash of elite favourites.

This is the first lipstick I own from Estee Lauder and its safe to say that this ticks all of the boxes for me. Firstly the packaging is so sleek and subtly sophisticated with its navy and gold duo, not to forget the satisfying 'click' of the magnetic lid when you close it away. The formula of this lipstick is so dreamy and exactly what I look for in a lipstick - its creamy and comfortable on the lips, very pigmented and I'd say its fairly long wearing especially if you use a lip pencil with it (FYI Mac Cherry is a lovely one to use with this.) Although this has a soft texture that is very moisturising and kind to the lips it isn't one of those colours that slides off in an instant - never desirable with a bright red.

The colour is a stunning shade of scarlet red that completely fulfills that classic red lip look. As this isn't a matte shade it has a slight sheen that is very beautiful as it effortlessly adds a bit of fullness to the lips. If you want to see this swatched check out this post. For a lipstick of this quality that ticks so many boxes, it does come at a small price however I would say that for any red lipstick lover this should definitely be in your collection as it is worth every penny. This is a gorgeous lipstick to wear for daytime or will equally glam up any evening makeup look, and I definitely think that this is going to be my Christmas day lipstick choice for 2014!

QOTD: Will you be supporting a red lip this Christmas?

Friday, 19 December 2014

Winter Break In The Forest

This morning I returned home from a short midweek break with some of my family. We stayed in a big log cabin that sleeps up to eleven people so as you can imagine it was nice and cosy. For England, this December has been exceptionally mild so we were lucky to enjoy some warmer temperatures for our stay in the forest. It was dry all the week and the sun even made a few appearances while we were there. I've never been on one of these forest break type holidays before but I knew that I would enjoy it a lot. It was lovely waking up each day in the midst of all the trees and nature - the peace and quiet was unbeatable. It was so nice to relax and not have to do very much but enjoy ourselves, we explored the woods getting some well deserved fresh country air, ate yummy food, sat in front of the fire one evening in Christmas jumpers, built dens (I watched!) and there was also a hot tub to relax in, which one little family member particularly loved! I'm now feeling nicely refreshed and thankful to have had the chance to go along with my family and enjoy a special winter's break.

QOTD: Have you ever done a forest break?

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Collective Boots Haul

Quick little Boots Haul for you today. This is a collective haul of items I've picked up across the last few weeks or so with lots of drugstore gems that I've been meaning to try out for ages now but haven't got round to up till now.

You will see soon in my next empties post that I finished another bottle of my trusty Garnier Eye Makeup Remover. Instead of just replacing it when I last returned to Boots I finally decided it was time to switch and try out the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water which is supposedly a good dupe for Bioderma which I've had in the past before. After EssieButton introduced me to Revlon Colorstay Gel Envy in Up The Ante I was desperate to get my hands on a few more from the line, and after waiting patiently the larger Boots store nearest me finally get them in stock - I think they are new to the UK. I picked up the three shades Queen of Hearts - a deep red, High Stakes - a dark green and Wild Card - a bold blue. I love the formula and staying power of these polishes. On the topic of nails, and a purchase inspired by the lovely Tasha was the Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover, I've left you a link to her blog which I love but I'm pretty sure Tasha spoke about this product in either a YT video or blog post and its been on my Boots list ever since!

Then I've made two makeup purchases from Boots recently the first being the  Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm in Elusive Insaisissable which is a pretty pinky nude shade. I actually got this as something to put on my lips for when I'm at the gym. And lastly another blogger inspired purchase was from Annabel another blog which I love to nosey through, and I was actually after the new Bourjois Volume 1 Second Mascara in Ultra Black, but my tiny little local Boots didn't have that and I decided I would opt for the regular 1 Second Mascara as I've heard its just as good. Sometimes you can't beat a good drugstore mascara - I'm excited to have a good play around with this over the festive season.

QOTD: Have you purchased anything from Boots lately?

Monday, 15 December 2014

Book Recommendation: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Today I've got another book recommendation for you, and its the perfect addition to cosy up to on these chilled winter's evenings. I read The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey a couple of years ago now and I'm currently a third of a way through it for the second time, which just goes to show that I enjoyed this as I only read books more than once if they're particularly good.

The Snow Child is set in 1920s Alaska, and I feel that the storytelling of the harsh, freezing conditions of where it takes place are particularly what make this story so vivid. The descriptions of the setting are so realistic in places that it almost leaves you with a shiver - definitely one to take to bed with a hot water bottle and a candle burning nearby! The narrative focuses around two characters, a married couple in their struggle to start a new life somewhere and escape the reality that they are unable to conceive a child together. However the unexpected presence of a child that arrives with the freshly fallen snow changes things forever for the couple.

In addition to the vivid descriptions of the snowy Alaskan land , what also makes the story is the fragile, sadness of the characters. You can really feel the lifetime of heartache in each page and at times it makes for a very touching story. Despite the sadness there is also an overwhelming feeling of hope to the story and it takes on an almost fairy tale like edge to it with the mystery of the little girl in the snow, you are often left asking is she real or is she some magical creature? This book is ultimately about survival and keeping the hope alive when all else is against you. Its also about family and love and what becomes of love after the saddest of outcomes.

I really love this story as its almost like a fairy tale in a way with its magical twists and turns that leave you turning the page for more. Its a very moving, sweet tale of a family formed from unexpected circumstances. And because of its snowy setting it really is quite a lovely book to read in the winter.

QOTD: What are you reading at the moment?

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Christmas With Jo Malone

In the lead up to Christmas I really enjoy taking a nose at everyone's gift idea posts and videos on YouTube, however rather than adding another one to the mix I thought I would do something a little different. With just a few shopping weekends left I thought I'd sneak in my own little selection of gift ideas, now if you've been reading my blog for a while now you will probably know that I'm a bit of a Jo Malone lover so these are a selection of little luxuries that any beauty lover would enjoy receiving. 

Pomegranate Noir Bath Oil | £17 | Link
With all of the ideas there is the theme of travel sized items however if you really wanted to push the boat out you could always opt for the full sized option to make a really special main gift idea for someone. However the travel sized Pomegranate Noir Bath Oil would make a lovely luxurious stocking filler, it comes in its very own little Jo Malone box with the festive red ribbon, as do all the items mentioned below so you wouldn't even need to do any wrapping. I recently reviewed the fragrance of Pomegranate Noir, and for any Jo Malone lover I think the bath oil would be a beautiful gift for an added element of pampering. The addition of the bath oil will also layer the fragrance making it last even longer.

Travel Candle Collection | £62 | Link
As part of the Christmas gift sets there is a travel candle collection with three delicious winter inspired scents. I think that this set would be ideal for anyone who loves their luxury candles or it would even be ideal for someone who maybe hasn't tried any of the Jo Malone candles, like myself as you can sample a nice little selection of the scents this way. The three scents are the famous Pomegranate Noir, Incense and Embers and also the gorgeous Christmas scent which is released each year Pine & Eucalyptus.

Also new in and for a limited time only are the collection of 9ml fragrances, which again are a perfect idea for maybe those who are new to Jo Malone as this way you can experiment around with the different selection of scents. Equally these sets are just as gorgeous to any Jo Malone lover as the idea of them is to encourage fragrance combining so you can really have a play around with the exquisite scents to find your own unique combination. These sets come in two different ways you can opt for the selection of five 9ml of the normal colognes or you can go for the set of five cologne intense bottles which I have to show you here.

Cologne Intense Collection | £82 | Link
I believe that this is the first time that the Cologne Intense range have been released in travel size editions, and there is a lovely selection of the line to enjoy. This set includes: Tuberose Angelica, Saffron, Dark Amber and Ginger Lily, Oud & Bergamot, and Velvet Rose & Oud which I have also reviewed before. Either of these sets would make such a beautiful gift to any luxury beauty lover/ perfume addict. I think that the way they come presented is just stunning too, inside the box there is like the red snowy effect, so beautiful.

QOTD: Have any of these gifts tempted you? 

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Favourite Festive Lip Products

Swatches taken in natural daylight
Its no secret that red lipstick is my thing. I love a good red lip and there really is no better time to support this look than during the festive season. The holidays are almost upon us and weather you're looking for that perfect party lipstick or just something bright and festive to get in the mood I've got a few considerations worth a mention. Now minus Rebel, colour wise I'd say all these reds come in at the same family of like a 'cherry red' which are by far the most flattering shade as they sit nicely on most skintones. This is also like your traditional Christmasy red so it's very apt for the season, whenever I'm wearing one of these lipsticks I always feel so much more confident I love the way they transform your look. However what is different about these lipsticks is their finish and how they feel and last on the lips.

I know that from the swatches these look very similar but on the lips they all look quite a bit different, for example the Estee Lauder 340 lipstick gives a beautiful sheen to it that gives an almost gloss like quality to it. The finish of this lipstick reminds me a little bit of an amplified cream from MAC as its very opaque without being too drying. Russian Red from Mac on the other hand is very matte and has no shine what so ever to it so its extremely long wearing, although a bit of careful preparation before hand would be useful before wearing this lipstick.

Chanel 104 Passion, an all time favourite of mine - sits somewhere between both the Estee Lauder and Mac lipsticks. It has an ever so subtle shine to it while still remaining quite a matte lipstick. This is a really comfortable to wear red. I don't often go for gloss but the Dior Addict Ultra Gloss is beautiful to layer over a red lipstick for that ultimate festive party look as its slightly glittery - if you can't wear glitter in the run up to Christmas when can you? Lastly Rebel from Mac isn't what you would call a conventional festive lip look as its definitely more of a purply red but its such a stunning lipstick, and I wore it on Christmas Day last year and its again one of those instant confidence boosting colours.

QOTD: What are your festive favourite lip products?

Sunday, 7 December 2014

On My Face #3

What's On My Face: Winter Party Edition


I haven't done a FOTD type post in ages now and I thought what better time to talk about a load of makeup products than when the party season is in full swing. These above are some of the products I used to create a winter party appropriate look last night and will probably continue to repeat throughout the month for the remainder of celebrations left to come.

I started with a little sample of MAC's Prep + Prime for my base, I really like this and will no doubt end up buying the full size when it runs out. The Prep + Prime is unlike the primers I have tried before in the way that this feels quite soothing almost like a second moisturiser rather than that odd texture of my Porefessional from Benefit. For my foundation I stuck with my favourite Nars Sheer Glow which is what I will usually reach for on a evening out or when I'm making a bit more of an effort with my makeup. I've written a review of the foundation here if you're interested to hear more of my thoughts about it. Normally I would have popped a bit of powder ontop but my skins pretty dry at the moment so I set it with spray at the end instead.

To brighten my under-eye area of course the Touche Eclat from YSL came to my rescue, I like to apply this with a beauty blender type sponge I think the one I've got was just a cheap one from Superdrug as I don't own a proper beauty blender. To warm my face up I always rely on my Nars Laguna Bronzer, I take this on a big Real Techniques powder brush and dust it to all the areas of my face that would naturally get more colour. For a touch more colour and a tad of shimmer I used MAC Warm Soul which is a gorgeous rose gold blush, full post here. And to highlight I used Nars Copacabana Illuminator which I will also link a full review to here.

After priming my lids I went in with MAC Sumptous Olive eyeshadow which is a stunning hybrid of gold and khaki green. This is a lovely shade for those who are perhaps a bit like myself fearful of 'colourful' eyeshadows because it isn't an out there kind of green due to the golden tones. This is quite shimmery which added to the festive green colour makes it an ideal option for a winter party makeup look. I did last minute decide to go in with a bit of liquid eyeliner which I didn't photohrapgh. For mascara I used YSL Babydoll Mascara which is gorgeous for nights out as it makes your lashes so black and dramatic. Brows are always left to Anastasia Dip Brow Pomade which I've confessed my love for here.

Finally the star of the show for me was my latest Nars Audacious Lipstick Audrey. Audrey is the perfect red wine coloured lipstick, its definitely unlike the other red lipsicks I own as its quite deep and almost leans berry toned. Quite a lot of deep reds have that brown undertone to them which I'm not really too keen on but I think Audrey is still more of a red but sits more on the red berry toned scale of things. Its quite a vampy red which I love and it definitely makes a statement. Again the formula of this lipstick is incredible - so opaque in like one swipe. And just becuase I'm a bit of a perfume junkie I thought I'd include my choice of scent for a typical winter party and that is Jo Malone Velvet Rose & Oud - a delicious evening fragrance that I've also reviewed before on the blog here.

QOTD: What products will be on your face for the winter party season?

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Fragrance Focus: Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir

Swoon. Its the ultimate scent of the season. Pomegranate Noir by Jo Malone. If you've never had the pleasure of smelling it, just imagine Christmas caught in a bottle and you'll be somewhere along the right tracks. This is just about the most festive, nostalgic smelling cologne you could possibly imagine. Pomegranate Noir comes under the 'fruity' category according to Jo Malone, but I personally think its more of a woody scent. To me this is very earthy and recalls memories of walking through a forest of pine trees on a chilly winter morning.

It reminds me so much of all the rich spices of Christmas that send me straight back to my childhood and of the excited anticipation of festive celebrations.The pomegranate keeps the cologne very fresh and zingy, although its quite a heavy intoxicating scent the zestiness stops it from being dragged down by the woody notes. I would so recommend this scent to all the festive lovers out there as this truly captures the scent of Christmas and winter. This is such a classic perfume that you could go back to year after year after year and it will still evoke those sensual feelings of the season. Ideal for men or women, and I love layering this with English Pear and Freesia to give it a lighter and more laid back feel.

Pomegranate Noir is everything and I know I'm going to be wearing this all month long especially leading up to the festivities, I'm look forward to wearing this when doing my Christmas shopping and wrapping my gifts for loved ones and then especially on the big day to truly soak up what is the most wonderful time of the year.
QOTD: Do you love Pomegranate Noir?

Monday, 1 December 2014

Manicure Monday: The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector

Today's Manicure Monday post is less about the nails and more about the hands - I'm featuring a fabulous cream that I've been using recently that has reminded me of the benefits of taking care of your hands. Now I don't know about you but applying hand cream is something that I only ever do when the mood strikes - and that is usually in the depth of winter when I suddenly notice that my hands are shot to bits from the bitter cold English weather. Well actually, its the beginning of December now and so far we've been pretty lucky with cold spells this winter I'd say. However the minute it does turn colder, my hands are usually the worst area thats hit. So I'm pretty happy that I have this product from TBS lined up ready to prevent that from happening to me this winter.

Apparently suitable for 'Very Dry Skin' I've applied the Hemp Hand Protector all over my hands and cuticles which get very tender and yucky at this time of year, and most hand creams sting like hell when I do this to these delicate dry areas however this one didn't. Its got a very soothing, non greasy texture that sinks in to the skin effortlessly and doesn't leave you there with sticky feeling hands and fingers...The smell is something that you get used to, I have to admit I'm not the biggest fan, it isn't what you would call an unpleasant scent but its not particularly appealing either. However I can look past the smell for what it does to my hands. I'd almost say that it has a medical smell to it, its sort of fresh in that clean medicine sort of way, thankfully the scent doesn't really linger for long anyway.

I received this as part of a gift set, but individually the Hemp Hand Protector currently retails at £11 for this huge 100ml tube and in my opinion I think its pretty good value for money as this stuff really is amazing. A tube this size will literally last you forever as a little goes a long way. Alongside the smell only other downside to this product I would say is that I'm not really loving the design of the tube, it gets very tatty looking plus I generally prefer hand creams which come with a flip on/off lid rather than screw tops as I find them less faffing around.

This hand cream has dramatically helped my hands look and feel so much better. Our hands are one of the main parts of our body that is most often on show, so I don't think that it takes much to look after them whether it be with a manicure or keeping them from being dry and sore - our hands can say a lot about us so I'm striving to keep mine happy this winter. I would 100% recommend this product to anyone, whether your skin is very dry or just needing a bit of attention I can guarentee this product will be of good help to you.

QOTD: What's your saviour product during the winter?