Friday, 31 January 2014

Nails, Nails, Nails

I've wanted to try stiletto nails forEVER, and finally went for it today. I normally get acrylic or gel with nail varnish designs, but with my impending holiday I wanted something really great. The finished result (I think the tips look like upside down lack hearts <3):

These are some of my favourites, found on Tumblr:

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Travel Bug

I've been lucky enough to travel to some weird and wonderful places during my semi-short life on the planet so far. The list includes the Caribbean, Egypt, New York City, Ibiza, Turkey, Cyprus and a handful of European countries. Next on the list, in two short weeks, is the West Coast of the USA landing in Seattle and exploring from there on. I'm prepared for cold, wind, rain, but also the trip of a lifetime. We might head very far South to Las Vegas or San Diego, but at the moment our itinerary is carefully blank (with a few exceptions made for meeting some lovely old friends).

Without a doubt, my favourite place so far to revisit time and time again has been Turkey. The people are fantastic, the food is great and they have a wide range of vegetarian options, and the weather is (kind of) guaranteed to be awesome. If your version of awesome is blistering sunshine, that is, and mine certainly is.

New York City comes a close second - how can anyone not love the city that never sleeps? I desperately want to visit there with my other half: since I've been twice I've managed to seek out some great places to go and things to do and can't wait to share those experiences with him.

My favourite holidays really mix the relaxation with the exploration. I love historical sites and museums, but also enjoy relaxing by the pool with a drink and some music. A good hotel is important (and by good I don't mean expensive, I mean lively, local, and comfortable) and access to a nice restaurant is something paramount on my list. I love trying local cuisine, so anywhere from street carts up has me pleased. I find you can gain the best holiday experiences from eating in local restaurants and chatting to the owners - they always have great stories to tell and tips about where to go next! I'm happy to rough it, but also love a bit of luxury.

Mountains, beaches, cities, countryside, who cares? Get me on a plane with a good book and limitless time to spend exploring and you have a very happy woman.

My travel bucket list (ever expanding):

  • Goa
  • Shanghai
  • Tokyo and Mt Fuji
  • Nepal
  • Athens
  • Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and most of Thailand
  • New Delhi
  • Easter Island
  • Kenya
  • Fiji
  • Marrakech
  • Changuu Island
  • Tanzania
  • .... I could go on forever...
Where's on your bucket list?

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Beauty Wishlist

One thing I plan on doing in Seattle is, naturally, shopping for beauty products! You guys have so many things that either I struggle to find or are significantly more expensive over here so I'm going to be stocking up. I better take an empty suitcase, thinking about it...

1. Of course, Naked3.

2. Philosophy everything.

3. Anastasia Beverly Hills eyebrow kits. 

4. Shu Uemura UV Under Base Mousse

Flight Reading

A little light reading for my holiday to the States next month! Well, for the 18-hour plane journey to be exact. I'm a quick reader, so I'll probably wind up buying four more books over there to flick through on the return (or I'll just sleep after 10 days of constant excitement).

I love mixing my holiday reading between fun and serious, and Tolkien definitely provides the serious. I haven't read The Silmarillion or The Children of Hurin, and I'm having to sit on my hands not to pick them both up at once. No, Louise, wait for the airport.

Mini Shopaholic I've read before, but it was just to adorable and funny to pass up. (Although I hope my child won't ever turn out like Minnie...) And even though I've seen the films many, many times I'm ashamed to say I never got around to reading the Bridget Jones novels. And now that Mad About The Boy is out, I feel it's time to pop the BJ Novels cherry and enjoy. I've actually started this one, so chances are I'll be picking out something else at Manchester airport with a guilty face at how much I've spent on 'holiday prep' - I needed those clothes and that new bag, OK?!

What should I read on the way back?

Monday, 20 January 2014

Lemon and Ginger Baked Cheesecake

I love to cook and bake, and recently I've had limited time to do either but on my day off last week I decided to finally bake that lemon and ginger cheesecake that has been in the back of my mind for weeks and made a trip to the shop for supplies.

I used a BBC Good Food recipe which I'm not linking to because, well, it wasn't very good. The quantities were all wrong and the method isn't one I would use again. I've made many baked cheesecakes in the past and will be using tried and trusted recipes next time!

For the base: ginger biscuits and digestive biscuits, mixed with melted butter and mashed to a pulp, then pressed into a greased circular cake tin with a loose bottom. For the cheesecake filling: cream cheese (I tend to use the cheaper stuff from the supermarket as it tastes fine and saves your ££ for more expensive ginger! Add mascarpone cheese then the juice of two lemons and the zest of three. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes on gas mark 4, and then garnish however you choose! I used a dusting of cinnamon and it worked so well!

NYX Review

When it comes to make-up, I've always been loyal to a few brands and never ventured much further. MAC, Topshop, and Benefit tend to get most of my money with the occasional visit to Maybelline for their awesome Baby Lips and Baby Skin products. But I've heard a lot about NYX and have been in need of a couple of lip liners for a while so I thought I'd give them a shot.

I ordered a gorgeous inky, glittery purple eyeshadow, a slim black eye pencil and two lip liners and now I am a NYX convert! The eyeliner goes on super easy, is pretty smudge-proof and is fine enough to do a cat eye but can also be blended into smokey lines if desired. The eyeshadow goes on well and is highly pigmented so you don't need to use a lot to get the intended effect. And both lip liners are smear-proof and the colours are great! I got  Deep Purple and Cabaret, both awesome! A hot pink is next on my list.

I also got two free nail polishes, one which I put on my toes that evening, and I love it! It goes on well and doesn't gloop or streak and so far it's pretty chip-resistant.

Verdict: NYX, you have a new regular customer!! I can't wait for payday!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Boots Haul

I have no money at all after an expensive Christmas, and should be saving for my upcoming trip to the USA next month but I accidentally wandered into Boots and shopping ensued. I shouldn't be allowed out without a minder.

In order, these are my new favourite products by a light year:

1. The Greatest Scrub of All by Soap and Glory. Great face scrub, one you can use daily.
2. Popcorn Lip Scrub by LUSH - delish!
3. Super Facialist Vitamin C Micro Polish Face Wash by Una Brennan.
4. Super Facialist Vitamin C Glow Boost Serum by Una Brennan.
5. Kabuki brush by Topshop - super soft!
6. New hair brush by Denman, now I understand the hype about these brushes. Go and get one!
7. Foundation brush by Topshop, again this is super soft!
8. L'Oreal Paris Studio Line #TXT Matte texture spray for people who like BIG HAIR.
9. L'Oreal Paris Studio Line Hot & Smooth heat serum.
10. My favourite faithful hair product, a Tangle Teezer!

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Inspiration for the Year

Make 2014 your year of action, of activism, of standing up for what you believe in. Care for others. Care for yourself. Adopt an animal or, if you can’t, foster. Donate to charity. Start a charity. Fundraise. Sign a petition, sign a thousand, make a banner, go to a protest or a sit-in. Travel. Get that tattoo you’ve always wanted, and that piercing you’ve been thinking about. Write. Write a poem, write a book, write a movie, write a blog. Run. Use your body, explore it’s limits. Paint a picture, take a picture, be in as many as you can. Make memories. Leave your phone at home, go somewhere removed from technology. Grow plants, grow food, live off the grid. Build a treehouse, a birdhouse, even build a house of your own. Laugh. Love every minute, even the hard ones, they teach you how to enjoy the simple ones. Sing. Dance every time you can. Tip your head back and smile at the sky. Because if you don’t, then who will?

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Welcome, 2014!

So Christmas and New Year didn't go off quite as I'd hoped! I had an excellent time, and I'm the biggest believer that Christmas should be a time for family and that presents should come secondary, so seeing my family and James's family together for the day was wonderful. But Christmas Day Eve I met with some form of nasty virus that I haven't been able to shake off since. New Year's Eve saw me in bed by 11pm and fast asleep when the ball dropped. New Year's Day? Spent on the sofa with my laptop (revived after six months of it in its grave) and Lord of the Rings on TV.

I have two resolutions for 2014. I rarely make them because I know I'm the worst person at sticking to them, but these two should be pretty simple:

  1. Give up coffee. (Exceptions may apply.) I drink far too much, and it's bad for me. Every time I want a cuppa, I'm going to replace it with tea or chai tea and try to detox. Wish me luck!
  2. Start a YouTube channel. I spent most of 2013 meaning to do this and recording a few demo videos, so 2014 is the time to suck it up and post them.

I did get some really lovely gifts and treats over Christmas, including lots of gorgeous candles, a ton of chocolate, and lots of beauty products to use in our newly-redone bathroom. Here are a few of my favourites:
The main theme in my living room is country chic, and I have plenty of hearts and candles littered around. This silver vase and candle holder are sitting in pride of place on the windowsill keeping the room warm on a night!

I LOVE these geek shoes from Topshop. Silver, shiny, comfy, cute... they tick every box.

Skull money box and My Little Pony from Urban Outfitters! Both in our office where the overwhelming colour is white. 

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope 2014 is safe, fun, prosperous and happy for each and every one of you! <3 <3