Wednesday, 30 April 2014

April Favourites


Anyway, now that's over with shall we get on with my April favourites?

This month I've been trying a few products that I've had for a while but have been languishing sadly at the back of my drawers. Shopping the stash, ladies, it's always a good thing!

I'm a big highlighter fan these days and in the run up to summer I've been really enjoying the NYX Liquid Illuminator in Gleam, which is a peachy golden highlight. Now the sun is finally making an appearance I've been wanting to give my face a little bit of a bronzed glow and this product is perfect. Big thumbs up from me.

Maybelline Color Tattoo Eyeshadow in Bad to the Bronze has been my absolute eyeshadow staple this month. I've barely used anything else on my lids and this shadow has completed converted me to the joys of cream eyeshadows. It doesn't crease, it lasts FOREVER and looks amazing - I've worn this pretty much every day in April and I don't plan on stopping any time soon.

YSL Babydoll Mascara in a travel size that I got in one of the Sephora boxes I picked up on holiday last year. My my my, this mascara lengthens like crazy, yo! I'm not joking when I say this doubles the length of my lashes and, while it doesn't particularly volumes, it fans my lashes out to avoid the dreaded clumps.

Spring has sprung! It's time for Essie's Mint Candy Apple to rear its lovely head again and I've been wearing this on my nails throughout April. The formula's great, the staying power makes me happy and it's such a fun, bright colour - it makes me smile every time I give myself a new mani.

I've been using the Nars Eyeshadow in Bali a few times a week and I'm in love. But! I haven't been using it as an eye shadow, oh no no no. I've actually been using it on my brows and it's the perfect shade for me - it fills them in and makes my whole face look more put together, without giving me the scouse brow look that's happened before when I've tried to use an eyeshadow to fill them in...

As I've been wearing quite a toned-down eye throughout April I've been experimenting more with lip products and my favourite of the bunch is the Buxom Full-On Lip Polish in Dolly. As it's a gloss I've been applying it on top of a number of lipsticks and it's such a versatile product - I love it. It gives a creamy, shiny finish to any lip colour and it looks gorgeous over more neutral colours, like Nars Dolce Vita. The only downside is that my boyfriend recoils in horror every time he kisses me and his lips start tingling, ha!

Now the weather's getting brighter I've replaced my heavy wintry perfumes with lighter, fruity fragrances that are perfect for the warmer weather. I've been wearing a few different perfumes this month but my favourite new discovery is the Forever 21 Rollerball in Coconut. Trust me, this smells incredible and I always get compliments when I wear it. And it was a total bargain, obviously.

Benefit Cha Cha Tint has made me step outside my comfort zone of powder blushers and dabble with cream and liquid offerings and I'm very, very quickly becoming a convert. I love the natural finish this gives and it lasts allllll day long - perfect.

Tresemme Keratin Smooth Shampoo and Conditioner are my favourite two products of the month, for sure! I only bought these two weeks ago but they have made *the* biggest difference to my hair. I've really been struggling with my hair lately - it's just all a bit blah, gets greasy quickly, my scalp is feeling super dry and my ends were not looking good. After I used this combo a couple of times I cannot believe how much nicer my hair is looking - I shared a few pics of my hair last week because I'm so chuffed! The only thing I'd say is that the conditioner isn't the most amazing out there when it comes to detangling but as long as you use a good hair mask once a week you're good to go.

So there you have it, those are my favourite products from the last month. Quite a variety but I love all of my picks and fully intend to keep using them for a long time to come! What are your favourite products from April? Let me know!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Princess Hair

I like how red my hair looks in the sunlight!

So, as part of my Day Zero project I want to experiment more with my hair. My hair grows quickly and it's pretty long at the moment, so I feel like I should make the most of it and style it a lot more than I currently do. And so, here's my first look, which I've dubbed princess hair! I used a shed load of volumising spray and then made loose waves with my Babyliss curling wand. After curling I sprayed my hair with hairspray and ran my fingers through the curls to loosen them a bit - and, hey presto - princess hair!

This style actually stayed in for the next three days, despite sleeping on it, walking the dog in the rain and copious amounts of brushing - so I'm really, really impressed to see my hair can actually hold a curl! Who'd have thunk it?

I wore this look for a date night with my boyfriend and I really like the natural but put together effect it gives. On my eyes I've got Urban Decay Virgin on my brow bone and the Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze on my lids, plus lashings of YSL Babydoll mascara. To fill in my brows I used a spot of Nars eyeshadow in Bali.

Then on my face I've got Rimmel Match Perfection foundation on, with Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, plus Benefit Posie Tint on my cheeks. To contour a little bit I used my trusty DuWop bronzer (which I've now hit pan on, booooo) and I've got Benefit Watts Up on my cheekbones and down the bridge of my nose.

On my lips I popped on a slick of Nars Dolce Vita and a Buxom lip gloss on top for a little more shine. And that's the whole look!

Monday, 21 April 2014

National Smile Month FotD

So, April is National Smile Month so I thought I'd post up a themed picture before the month is out. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with my mouth, with it being my most prominent facial feature and all. My lips are biggggg and while I've embraced them now I used to hate the way they looked - I actually begged my mum for reduction surgery when I was an early teen, ha!

I've come from hating my smile to liking it a lot more as I've got older so, to celebrate National Smile Month, here's a picture of my big ole grin in full effect! And if anyone's wondering my lipstick is Nars Dolce Vita, with a Buxom lip gloss on top.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

More Doggy Photos!

So I know not everybody out there is a fan of dogs but, well, I am so prepare for another instalment of dog walk photos!

We had family visiting last weekend so after a huge Sunday roast we headed off on a family dog walk with our dog (Bertie), my mum's dog (Ernie) and my uncle's dog (Star). We had a lovely mooch through our village, across the fields and then down the canal to get home; it was a gorgeous day and it always makes me smile to see the three dogs playing together. Love those pooches!

Anyway, I took a few photos and I love some of them so much I wanted to share them with you. What do you think?

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

My Day Zero Challenge!

I've decided to do the Day Zero project. I've actually been planning on it for ages but it's only now I've finally organised myself enough to write my list. I was inspired by my dear friend Carole, who just finished hers and managed to complete everything - how amazing is that?

In case you haven't heard of Day Zero there's some info below, but basically it's a challenge where you write a list of 101 goals you want to achieve in the next 1001 days (roughly 2.75 years). But here are the official guidelines from the Day Zero website:

Day Zero started out with the catchy challenge of completing 101 things in 1001 days. This has been enormously popular with tens of thousands of people getting involved and sharing their lists. We now offer many more types of challenges, but here are the original guidelines for the challenge:

The Challenge: 
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days. 

The Criteria: 
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on your part).

Why 1001 Days? 
Many people have created lists in the past - frequently simple challenges such as New Year's resolutions or a 'Bucket List'. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organising and timing some tasks such as overseas trips, study semesters, or outdoor activities.

I've been working on my list for the last week or so and I'm ready to get going! I haven't actually got a full list of 101 things, I'm only on 76 at the moment, but I've decided to add the rest as I think of them, otherwise I'll just end up with some rubbishy things I added to try and bulk it out. That's fair, right?

So anyway, without further waffle, here is my list of goals I'm hoping to achieve in the next 1001 days:

Every time I complete a goal I'm going to photograph it and document here on here for you all to see. I'm really, really excited about this challenge and I can't wait to show you how I get on!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

A Day in the Life: Productive vs. Unproductive

I see these daily diary posts on blogs and I'm always shocked at how productive everybody seems to be. Man, in comparison I'm an absolute sloth! It got me thinking that my productivity really does depend on the day - some days I'm on fire and by the next day I can be all burned out and completely slack off.

As a freelance writer my days vary wildly and it's quite an unstructured lifestyle. Luckily I love working from home and I work well as my own boss but while I'm getting things up and running I don't have work to do every day, which is where the particularly unproductive days come in!

I did a comparison of two daily diaries: one 'productive' day and one 'unproductive' day. I haven't edited my activities at all - this is an honest look at exactly how I spent a couple of weekdays, eek.

                Productive                                                            Unproductive

07:10 - Got out of bed and had breakfast                       08:30 - Got out of bed
07:45 - Took my boyfriend to the station                        09:00 - Took the dog out
08:00 - Walked the dog                                                  09:30 - Sat on Facebook and Twitter 
08:45 - Did stretches, two sets of squats and a cycle      11:00 - Watched a Catfish marathon and spent
09:30 - Sat down to work                                                          most of it smdh
10:00 - Cleared out my email inbox                                13:30 - Went on Pinterest and felt depressed
10:30 - Wrote 1500 words                                                          about my lack of crafting skills
12:30 - Had a break for lunch                                         14:00 - Made a chicken and camembert
13.15 - Wrote 2000 words                                                           sandwich for lunch. Contemplated
16:00 - Scheduled blog posts for the following day                     making another one. Didn't
17:00 - Picked my boyfriend up from the station             14:20 - Felt guilty about not doing any work
17:20 - Prepared dinner                                                             on my novel. Distracted myself by
18:00 - Sat down for dinner                                                       watching South Park
19:00 - Chilled/watched TV/read a book                        16:00 - Decided to become a yoga guru. Hurt
22:00 - Took the dog out for the last time                                   my hamstrings doing downward
22:30 - Bed time!                                                                       facing dog. Raged
                                                                                      17:00 - Picked my boyfriend up
                                                                                      17:20 - Debated the pros and cons of getting a 
                                                                                                  Chinese for dinner. Eventually went
                                                                                                  to Sainsburys and bought burrito
                                                                                       19:30 - Sat down to eat burritos/watch TV
                                                                                       21:00 - Raged when my favourites didn't go                                                                                                                                               through on Masterchef
                                                                                       22:30 - Got into bed and watched Family Guy
                                                                                       23:10 - Went to sleep

So there you have it! Some days I'm a writing machine, other days it's just a big of pile of fail. But hey, at least next time you have an off day you know I'll be there in spirit, eating camembert sandwiches and Pinning crafts I'll probably never make.

Friday, 11 April 2014

My Own Body Inspiration

When it comes to healthy eating and getting fit I think we all get a bit carried away when we picture our 'ideal bodies'. I know once I get on Pinterest and start checking out Victoria's Secret Angels I'm left a bit deflated because, in all honesty, I'm never going to have Candice Swanepoel's legs. Feeling disappointed about my body before I've even started a fitness regime is definitely not a healthy mindset to have, so instead of looking at celebrity bodies that I'd love to have, I've started focusing on what I know my body can look like.

I've always been quite curvy, whether I was a size 12 at seventeen or the size 18 I am now, so aiming for a boyish, lithe figure is unrealistic and only sets myself up for disappointment. However, aiming for a toned, hourglass body is definitely something I can achieve, as it's the body type I had a few years ago when I was fit and healthy. My legs have always been my least favourite feature - they're short and have always been big, even when I was at my fittest and worked out five times a week they were big. But they were toned and strong and that's something I've grown to love - though now there's some fat to work off before any muscle tone makes an appearance!

What I'm trying to say is that we should be realistic when we're imagining our ideal bodies. If you have an hourglass figure you're probably never going to look like Cameron Diaz, likewise if you have a banana body type (straight up and down) it's unlikely you'll end up with Kardashian curves - it doesn't make you any less beautiful but I think embracing your natural body shape is important, and it keeps your goals realistic and stops you setting yourself up to feel like a failure. 

I do have a folder on my computer of 'body inspiration' pictures but I'm also trying to look at my own body as inspiration. I've dug out some photos of myself from a time when I was very fit and healthy and I was surprised by how much I love the figure I had back then - all I remember about my body from that age was worrying that I was 'fat', which makes me so sad now, because looking back I think my body looked great and, man, I'd love to have the stomach I had in the bikini picture at the end of this post!

My body looked like that a few years ago, so I know obtaining that body shape is a realistic measure of what I can look like again; I just need to put a whole lot of elbow grease in and work hard, which I'm excited to do.

Plus, we need to keep in mind that photos of our own bodies haven't been airbrushed to death!

Do any of you look at old pictures of yourself for inspiration? What do you think of using yourself as inspiration, rather than celebrities?

My new body inspiration? Myself, at age 20!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Nars Sheer Lipstick in Dolce Vita

I'm a relative newcomer to Nars, it has to be said. I haven't tried out many of their products but those I have tried I'm a big fan of. I've got a primer sample knocking around in my make up drawers that I haven't dipped into yet, but after falling in love with this gorgeous lipstick I'm keen to try more from the brand.

This is quite a sheer formula (as the name suggests) so it's not a great pick for anybody looking for a powerful pop of colour, though if you're after a 'your lips but better' shade then I'd definitely point you in the direction of Dolce Vita. Perfect for the day, or for a more natural look on a night out, Dolce Vita is a soft dusty rose colour that glides on easily and evenly and has an impressive wear time.

As this is more of a sheer colour I found it didn't dry my lips out at all if I had a slick of balm on underneath, and lasted for about four hours before I had to touch it up. I love this colour, it's subtle and pretty and has already become one of my staple lipsticks. Based on this lippie, I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for other lipsticks from Nars - maybe a brighter offering next time!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Life Lately

So, things have been a little quiet around here lately, haven't they? Since I finished my job three weeks ago I've been making lots of plans, working on a bunch of projects and finding my feet as a full-time self-employed writer!

It's a lot of work to set yourself up as a freelancer and there's a *lot* of waiting around - but the positives are amazing and being able to pursue something I love makes it clear that I made the best decision I could have when I decided to go for it. It's still a bit scary while I waiting for the money side of things to become more regular - but I'm waiting for a couple of contracts to come in and I should be able to relax and just enjoy things soon. I have to keep reminding myself I've only been doing this for three weeks - it definitely takes most businesses a hell of a lot longer to become established, so I'm pretty proud of how far I've come already!

Anyway, that's all the boring work stuff out of the way. So, what have I been doing with my time when I haven't been writing and following up leads? Well, cooking mostly! I've always been a big lover of cooking but it's only in the last year I've really started experimenting with flavours and creating my own recipes. I've cooked so many yummy treats lately and I think my Instagram is quickly becoming dominated by food pictures rather than make up and beauty!

Some of my favourite new recipes are the chocolate nutter butter bars I posted up the other day (still addicted to this!), as well as healthy home made KFC-style chicken tenders, Mexican shredded chicken and the most amazing potato, chive and bacon frittata. Yum, yum, yum. ALL the food! So, yes, cooking has been occupying most of my free time and my boyfriend has been my chief taste tester...lucky for him, I think.

I've made some progress on my novel that I'm really pleased about; I'm approaching the 20k mark and, although I wish I was writing faster, I'm proud of what I'm creating. There's no better feeling in the world than pouring your heart into something and it turning out even stronger than you hoped.

So, that's life lately. Cooking, writing, business-developing. It's all go-go-go and I'm loving it.

Home-made KFC // Perfect cream tea // Cheeky half in the pub // FotD