Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Beauty A-Z: B

My little Beauty A-Z is continuing this week, after a sprawling pause of about a month and a half. I have no excuse for such absence except for my own rather capricious nature and I'll thank you for looking the other way whilst I slide past, confident in the efficacy of my little subterfuge (which, of course, I just mistyped as 'subterfudge') of shouting 'LOOK OVER THERE! MAC'S HAVING A 90% OFF SALE!'

Mmm, fudge.

Let's get right on with it, shall we?

The letter B was, thankfully, not as taxing as A, so I came up with four products (four! four products! Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah! - said the Count from Sesame Street) which all begin with the letter B.

  1. Brows are something I hadn't even considered before September of last year; they were stuck at the back of my mind in a box marked 'way past due' and I wasn't ready to confront them just yet. One night, I filled them in (with a completely arbitrary and WRONG eyeshadow), just to see how they looked. 'Your face looks different, yet better,' remarked Kiwi, unconsciously (and thankfully) tapping into exactly what I wanted him to say. Within two days I'd visited MAC and had a lovely lady find me the perfect shade. Quoth Kiwi: 'I never realised how crap your eyebrows were before now.' Recently I've found, however, that you're supposed to shape your brows according to your face shape. Squirming paranoia struck and I questioned myself - had I been doing it wrong all along? What face shape am I? What noise does a giraffe make? Regardless, I'm trying not to worry. If I am, in fact, DOING IT WRONG, then I'm sure Kiwi will tell me. For now, I'm loving Shu Uemura's Hard Eyebrow Pencil in Seal Brown - it's the perfect brown for us brunettes and it has no red tones in it at all. It's natural for everyday and perfect for always.
  2. There is no room for ambiguity as to which drugstore brand currently owns my heart - it's Barry M,whose rainbow-coloured jars of magic dust allow for endless equations and combinations for the intrepid beauty addict. My favourites (both when I discovered them aged spotty-15 and now) are Peony (which is a dupe for Stars & Rockets from MAC) and Mushroom (a beautiful, slightly purpley taupe). However, I did acquire quite a good set of these and also loved Kingfisher (bright teal) and Pink/Gold (no need for an explanation, surely?). Their nail paints are also my favourite - I love that most of them are not sullied by glitter or shimmer and the range is so bright. Barry M feature on this list because they have set the benchmark for drugstore quality. Where else could you find a pigment similar in quality to MAC?
  3. My third B is for Blackout, one of my favourite mascaras from Dior. It's a super-black mascara which volumises my lashes and makes them look butterfly-fluttery and suitably carbon-eyed without much effort or concentration. Dior mascaras tend to divide the beauty community, and I've always been on the positive side of the fence. For me, this mascara just works. It doesn't need an essay or a text-wall of verbose prose. It just needs to be said that for me, this works. And that's why it's in my Beauty A-Z.
  4. Bellissima by NARS is not a 'wow' product. It's not going to swoop into your life in a colourful spasm and rescue you from yourself like a superhero. So, why is Bellissima up amongst the shining lights of my Beauty A-Z? Remember that fable, the one about the tortoise and the hare? Bellissima is the plodding tortoise who quietly chipped away at his task and ended up winning. For me, it is the perfect staple to throw on so I look groomed on days when my inspiration is subject to turbulence-please-return-to-your-seats-now. I love it because it's unpretentious and performs every time.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Flash Review: Revlon PhotoReady Foundation

Today's flash review is all about one of the most anticipated drugstore products of this year: Revlon's PhotoReady Foundation, the website of which perkily informs me that it's for poreless, airbrushed skin in any light. For the more impecunious of us, or the more fiscally-savvy, this foundation is supposed to be the answer to bridging the gap between low-end and high-end; the one quality product which won't break the bank. While I'm collecting my thoughts on this product for a full review, I thought a short review in 5 bullet points was a good way to go.

Photo from Ulta
  1. Disco dolly: Some people don't see it, but I'm used to having matte skin, so when I see flecks of glitter on my skin like I've bumped into a Glam Rock fanclub, I'm disappointed. I see what you tried to do there, Revlon, but the flecks of glitter (at least in my bottle) are too large and just end up looking like, well, glitter, instead of the dewy luminescence I wanted.
  2. Greased Lightning: I know, I know: this product is not designed to control those pesky oilies. However, an oil-free foundation should not make me more oily than any other kind. Even set with my Kryolan powder, I am dewy within 2 hours and oily after 7. After 7 hours it's anyone's guess - I can't sit with my face feeling that gross for much longer after that and end up cleansing my face off. Needless to say, this foundation is just not performing for me in the longevity stakes.
  3. Build me up, Buttercup: I was expecting medium coverage, and this is definitely not that. It's a sheer, buildable foundation which just disappears into my skin at first - I can go to town on the application of this and it still won't look heavy or cakey on my skin. I was only brave enough to try 2 pumps on my face (way more than necessary) and the result was even skin with a sheer foundation on it. However...
  4. Are you sitting comfortably?: This foundation, although at first blending effortlessly into my skin for the 'my skin but better' look, rears its ugly head a little later around the 4 hour mark, where it starts to look like it's sitting on the surface of my skin. It's not a good look and requires a kabuki and powder to fix it. Effort.
  5. Pump it up (sorry): Revlon have provided us with a pump for this foundation, and I'm happy - take note, NARS (and MAC).
Overall initial impression:
I like it. I'll cope. That's all I can say, really. With this foundation, I find myself having to think substantially more about which products I'm going to use on other parts of my face. MSFs are confined to the 'NEVER AGAIN' category after I was given a fetching metallic sheen which would never normally occur; matte blush seemed to be the only thing which would not exacerbate the 4-hour oilies. Bronzer was avoided and shimmery eyeshadows too. All in all, I don't think I'm going to be repurchasing - I don't especially approve of my foundation making a bid for freedom and sliding off my face around midday.

Stay tuned for a video review at some point!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Recent Ins and Outs

Just like the lovely Anna, I think you can all tell I'm getting into my blogging at the moment; I don't need to put a face on or think of interesting things on the fly and I love the process of writing my blogs (which are always harder than I anticipate they will be). I haven't done one of these posts in a long while, but here's a recent 'ins and outs' post of sorts.

- Spring cleaning: I recently cleared out my stash and I feel so much better about it - I no longer am irritated (and made to feel guilty) by the amount of makeup I'm not using.
- MAC Azalea Blossom Blush Ombre: I don't know why I like this so much, but I do I do I do. It creates this beautiful pinked flush on my cheeks which is really flattering with my Tippex-toned skin. I'm so reluctant to use it though, the product is so damn gorgeous.
- Models Own Nail Polish: I don't own any of these, but I have 5 (probably more) on my wants list. Models Own are currently holding a survey (located here) for which they'll give you 30% off your next order and enter you into a prize draw to win their 12 most popular shades. The survey is pretty quick and doesn't involve a lot of typing. I waaaant.
- Jack Bauer: Just like Anna I've been watching a hell of a lot of 24 - Kiwi and I have been renting the DVDs and rinsing through them like there's no tomorrow. We just finished series 4, and I'll admit we chanted 'Tony! Tony! Tony' when the lovely albeit oily-faced Mr. Almeida came out of alcoholism to help Jack and win his wife back. Thank God for the potato-shaped Jack Bauer.
- MAC Paintpot in Bare Study: LOVE this. It looks beautiful under any neutral eyeshadow and is the perfect eyeshadow on its own for lazy days and rainy days and Sundays.
- Sleek Pout Polish: I can't pick a favourite, it's far too hard. These are beautiful and moisturising and just pigmented enough that they look perfect for everyday. I like that they allow me to look groomed without the need for a lipstick, which rather takes the whole 'effortless beauty' thing up a notch, don't you think?

- Waiting for new collections to surface: At the end of each month, I'm excitedly waiting for new collections to be launched, collections I've been waiting for for 3 weeks after the US. This week it's Give me Liberty of London from MAC. I wish Youtube would stop torturing me with the haul videos.
- Berry Tones: I painted my nails a deep, beautiful red yesterday, and whenever I look at them they feel wrong. I'm trying to fall into step with Spring, but I'm woefully behind. Maybe I'll start with my nails. Though, grey would definitely be appropriate for April and its fabled showers.
- Adapting to seasons: As soon as the weather starts to change, everyone's out in their flipflops and sunglasses... except for me. There's some stubborn switch in my brain which stuffs its fingers in its ears and shouts 'LALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU' when the weather changes, and it allows me to go out in jeans and a thick sweater when the weather is definitely a lot warmer. Curses.
- Revlon PhotoReady: Oh, Revlon, you disappointment, you. You're okay but we're not going to be best friends any time soon...

Friday, 26 March 2010

Friday Five and my Friday Playlist

This week was one of adventures; Kiwi and I went up to London on Wednesday to have some good food with some friends and see Frank Turner play. He may be beardy and almost as old as my brother, but my crush for this man increases every time I leave one of his gigs floating on the happy glow and camaraderie he inspires. This gig, like all of his gigs, was a huge sing-along, with 3,000 of us singing our hearts out and knowing all of the words.
  1. Sleep Talkin' Man: This could well be an elaborate hoax, but it's the funniest blog I've ever read on the internet. It features the nightly ramblings of a very ordinary British man, as logged by his ever-suffering and diligent wife.
  2. The best t-shirt you'll ever find: The picture on it is of a robot riding a triceratops. If you don't think that's awesome then frankly I'm disappointed in you. Not only have you let me down, you've let yourself down and you've let your family down. (Not really.)
  3. xkcd: If you like a pictorial dose of geek, then consider this awesome web comic which is drawn entirely using stick figures. Some of the comics go totally over my head, and then there's the ones which make me spit out my morning tea with laughter (such as accidental flying sharks).
  4. Healthy breakfast muffins: These are awesome for a morning snack - they have very little added sugar and the sheer amount of fibre keeps me going until lunchtime. Unfortunately they are fairly high in sugar due to the dried fruit, but you win some and lose some.
  5. Auto-tune the News: The news. Auto-tuned. With a catchy tune and random people singing. Pure awesome.
This week's Friday playlist is all about the Frank. I'm going to allow myself this little indulgence, just this once, so all of these songs are penned by the illustrious Frank Turner himself oh Frank run away with me!:
  1. Long Live the Queen: This is a deceptively sad song which was written in memory of his friend, Lex, who was beaten by cancer.
  2. The Real Damage: The first song I ever heard by this man, and the first song I listened to on repeat.
  3. Reasons to not be an Idiot: If you're not double-clapping by the lyrics 'get up and get down and get outside' then you've missed the point.
  4. Once We Were Anarchists: A political tirade thinly-veiled by a rousing sing-song. This is one of the songs he's known for.
  5. Dan's Song: A song about Frank drinking beer with his friend Dan. Jaunty and jangly.

Thursday, 25 March 2010


I'm stuck in a playground hustle with myself in my little corner of the beauty world; a tiny chance encounter has led to an extended game of tag with an adversary rather difficult to evade. The eyes-wide-open slumber which allows me to slip past that realm of the beauty world I hesitantly call 'home remedies' is something I'm trying to rectify. For me, it is unfriendly terrain surrounded by barbed wire, peeling DO NOT ENTER signs and gun-toting soldiers trapped in a marching mechanism of to and fro.

There's just something that bothers me about home beauty and I've always been a prolific excuse-finder in order to avoid dipping my toe into those inked unknown waters; it's too messy, too time-consuming, it won't work, I bleat disingenuously, scrabbling for more excuses.

No more excuses.

Today, we're going to talk about honey, fabled food of Winnie the Pooh.

When I was younger, my absolute favourite type of bedtime story, aside from 'Frogs' Holiday' (some frogs in search of adventure get stuck in a laundromat instead) and 'There's a Nightmare in my Closet' (obvious), were the tales of Winnie the Pooh, a little bear with a definite predilection for honey.

This is what I'm reminded of, irrevocably, as I smear warmed honey on my face and gloop it onto my jeans...

But more on that later.

The first treatment I tried was a nourishing hair mask, which apparently softens and shines the hair. For this I used your average, prosaic clear honey. Mine was Tesco Value, nothing particularly special or snazzy.

I dubiously warmed it up in the microwave with a few drops of Sweet Almond Oil and then applied it to dampened, clean-ish hair and wrapped a warm towel around my head, feeling vaguely uncomfortable and sticky, but definitely quite fragrant. After about half an hour, I washed it out with shampoo and blow-dried in the usual way...

It worked! My hair was soft and shiny (and completely unstyleable because it was so soft and slippery, and I was amazed that something like honey could have provoked such an effect.

Tips for this treatment:
  • Warming your honey is optional, but it makes application easier. Be careful when warming it because it gets scaldingly hot very quickly.
  • Other ingredients you can add to your honey treatment: olive oil, lemon juice (for blonde hair) and rosemary oil (to stimulate hair growth).
  • Wash the honey out very well; this goes without saying.

My next quest featured active Manuka honey, which is a foodstuff gaining a rapidly growing following due to its alleged health and beauty benefits. According to those in the know, it can help soothe acne to stomach complaints, depending on the strength and usage.

Things you need to know about Manuka honey:
  • Unpolluted: The reason it's so useful and unique is because it is produced in a pollution-free environment in New Zealand, with flowers from the Manuka bush.
  • Honey-trap: It can prevent MRSA if used preventatively by applying honey directly to the wound at risk; it can also soothe and heal burns, insect bites, poison ivy... The list goes on.
  • The key is in the numbers: The UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) number on the front of your jar refers to the antibacterial quality of the honey. The higher the number, the higher the antibacterial content, although the optimum range is somewhere between 15 and 18, and anything below 10 is said to have virtually no effect.
  • Slather or swallow: I'm not being rude here *wink*. You can both ingest Manuka honey and use it on your skin - so if you've got a sore tummy then enjoy some on a bit of toast.
  • Cha-ching: It's quite pricey.
Opening the jar, I was struck by an antiseptic kind of smell, which was something I was not expecting. It has a waxy kind of appearance and although it's a set honey, the texture and appearance is nothing like what you'd expect.

I was primarily interested in its moisturising claims and opted for a face mask the first time around, warming the honey gently in the microwave and then maladroitly (and gingerly) slathering it onto my face.

I'm not going to lie to you and say it was a comfortable experience; it was sticky and awful and a gloopy, gluey mess.

Gross. The things I do for beauty...

After half an hour, I rinsed it off with some warm water and dried my face. At this juncture I'm not going to lie to you all and say I gently patted my skin dry with the skin of a unicorn and rainbow dust. I dried my skin with no particular attention to anything because I'm lazy and I'm probably going to end up with wrinkles anyway.

I just don't do pussy-footing around.

However, what I did notice, after committing grievous assault on my face with a towel, was how soft and happy my skin felt. The redness I tend to get on my cheeks was calmer and my face had none of the tight feeling which usually comes with washing my face.

As I presented a cheek (ooh-er) for Kiwi to feel, he boredly stretched out a hand without looking and groped blindly, only turning to inspect closer once he felt how soft and lovely my face felt.

If I manage to coax Kiwi out of beauty ambivalence, that's good enough for me.

...Though Kiwi might have just been happy to eat the remaining unused honey (as this rare photo I snapped of him proves).

The lesser-spotted Honey Monster in its natural state.

Another treatment I tried was for soothing acne and applied it topically in much the same way, though in much smaller areas. I often would leave the honey on overnight and redness around the offending area was often (but not in all cases) greatly reduced. Many sufferers of acne swear by this as a wonder-treatment, and I can see why; the honey keeps the healing and sore skin moisturised while gently fighting the bacteria which leads to infection and more acne.

My final use of Manuka honey was a bit more specialised: eczema. I woke up with an itchy hand one day 2 years ago and have eczema in varying degrees ever since. I applied some to a plaster (band-aid if you're across the pond) and left it on overnight on a sore, cracked bit of skin. When I examined it after arising at a suitably late hour, I was pretty astonished to find that the sore was all but healed and much less sore...

It makes you think twice about steroid creams.

So, things I've learned from this home beauty experiment:
  • Honey heats to dangerous temperatures very quickly.
  • Honey is surprisingly versatile in its beauty uses.
  • Manuka honey does live up to its hype.
  • If you don't want to roll around in sticky honey, there are Manuka honey lotions and soaps available.
  • The Manuka honey mask is incredibly gentle and moisturising on the skin - it's not harsh so you don't have to limit yourself to only once a week.
  • You do need time and patience (and to be careful!) with this - it's messy and inconvenient.

Manuka honey resources:

Flash Review: Diorshow Extase Mascara

Whilst I'm collating my thoughts for a fuller review late next week on the Diorshow Extase, I thought I'd post my initial thoughts here in a flash review, a list of five bullet-points to inform and enchant (maybe not enchant - but give me some poetic licence here).

  1. Too much like hard work: This mascara is not one you can apply quickly with no effort. The combination of the brush design and the thick formula means severe clumping unless you carefully wipe off the brush. Slow application does not tick my boxes, especially when I have to whip out my Diorshow Iconic to even out those clumps.
  2. It takes two: Diorshow Extase apparently has two uses: alone or paired with another mascara. I've used it both ways, but only accidentally because of the clumping problem. I'm a little bemused by a mascara which claims as one of its main selling points the idea of layering it with another mascara; people have been using this method for years.
  3. The secret ingredient: This mascara has a wonderfully perplexing blurb to accompany its release. It contains myriad special blahblahblahs and things which sound vaguely scientific, such as spherical-shaped Black Pearl Pigments for volume and SR38 Patented Ceramid for lash-strengthening.
  4. The butterfly effect: So, do all these special ingredients add anything to the effect of the mascara? Overall, yes. Although this mascara boasts many gimmicks to its ad campaign, the formula is really fantastic and lengthens my lashes without making them look too thin and brittle. It thickens just the right amount so as not to be too clumpy, but to give my lashes definition. It's lovely.
  5. Carbon-eyed Medusa: As expected with Diorshow mascaras, the formula is extremely black, but doesn't leave you looking like a raccoon by the end of the day and definitely doesn't flake.

Overall initial impressions:
Thus far I'm really impressed with this mascara but concerned by how time-consuming it is to apply and how messy my tube is getting from constantly having to wipe the brush off before each application. The formula is lovely - just the right amount of length and oomph. It's such a shame the brush lets it down.

PS: I dare you not to have 'It Takes Two' stuck in your head for the next hour.



Tuesday, 23 March 2010

3 Things Survey

Felt like a little fun tonight, so here's a little survey for funsies :)

Three names I go by:
1. Cami
2. Tinkerbell (thanks, Dad)
3. Camster

Three jobs I have had:
1. Waitress
2. Assistant to Headmaster of a posh private school for boys
3. Online Boutique Manager at Jetix Kids France

Three places I have lived:
1. Manchester
2. Paris
3. Santiago de Compostela

Three favorite drinks:
1. TEA!
2. Elderflower cordial
3. Apple and mango juice

Three TV shows I watch:
1. The Vampire Diaries (the shame)
2. MasterChef
3. Glee

Three places I have been:
1. Sri Lanka
2. Tunisia
3. The USA

Three places I would like to visit:
1. Japan
2. New Zealand
3. Thailand

Three people who text me regularly:
1. Kiwi
2. My dad
3. My brother (to ask what episode I'm up to in 24)

Three favorite old TV shows:
2. Clarissa Explains it All
3. Rugrats

Three favorite dishes:
1. My chorizo-chilli soup
2. Roast dinner
3. Tapas (I'm cheating here, I know)

Three makeup/beauty products I cannot live without:
1. Liquid eyeliner
2. Mascara
3. Red lipstick

Three things I'm looking forward to:
1. Seeing Frank Turner play tomorrow!
2. MAC launch of Give me Liberty of London (I'm sad...)
3. Kiwi and I getting our first kitten when we get our new flat :D

I tag anyone who feels like a little fun and lightheartedness tonight :)

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Things I'm going to be buying myself...

Marcia came up with the idea; a list of things I'm going to be buying myself at some point this year. A haul without a haul and with a completely foregone conclusion. A complete lack of surprise or whistling thrill for later when you click on my video and watch with an impassive expression as I parade my Pandora's Box of shiny delights that you've already opened. It's kind of like when a much more wide-eyed you opened those little tree ornaments shaped like Christmas presents and were disillusioned that they didn't actually contain anything inside (or was that just me?)

I guess you can count this as a 'current covets' post, too. Have at it.

YSL Teint Resist: Because this is where life is after Chanel Mat Lumière.

MAC Give me Liberty of London: After saying I didn't want much from this collection, I want I want I want.

Image property of Temptalia.

Lancôme Precious Cells Mascara: Because my disappointment over Lancôme mascaras is overshadowed by the ooh shiny.

Avon Anew Clinical Advanced Retexturising Peel: Mouthful. There's too many good reviews for me to say no.

MAC Art Supplies Lip Markers: Mark my words, I will be all over these.

Image property of Temptalia.

Addiction? What addiction? What are you currently coveting?

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Beauty Confessions...

The perfect veneer of the beauty world is often bursting with foregone conclusions and smoke and mirrors, with so many of us fooled by these conjurors' tricks and racing round-eyed for those new products and releases for the first test-drive. That's not to say, of course, that all of us bloggers and YouTubers involved in the beauty world are intellectually-challenged, rather, the juggernaut of the beauty community continues to steam through our consciousness with an army of flawless-faced wonders ever-cajoling and enticing.

These days, we expect a lot from those beauty products which attain 'hype' status before they even hit the market; we expect a multi-purpose easy-install model with value-for-money and perhaps an attached microwave-oven... and we want to like it as much as everyone else is. When I am clawed into buying a hype product and end up hating it, I almost prefer to remain reticent, sometimes; the internet is full of people waiting to tell you 'YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG' and that you were not, in fact, using the product in the way X, Y and Z people intended.

And that's not even mentioning the unmentionable: the broken rules beneath that glossy sheen, the beauty boundaries I keep transgressing with complete disregard for all of those rites and fits and sparks of habit-forming we're supposed to develop from an early age but that I missed the boat on.

So, here is a post dedicated to my beauty 'confessions' - the rules I knowingly break, the hypes I didn't get and the techniques I took too long to master.
  1. I'm a panic-buyer and hoarder: This is probably true for a lot of us beauty fanatics in the blogosphere, but when I find a limited edition product that I really love, I have this awful, unshakeable feeling which bubbles up inside me that I really, really need to buy another one. Or two. This happened with the Colour Craft collection and now I have two Smooth Merge MSFs, one of which is just sitting sadly not being used. While I'm a hoarder, though, I'm extremely good at having a huge, cathartic clear-out and when I get the urge, I am brutal with myself. There is one thing I cannot stand, and that is clutter. My panic-buying is always short-lived.
  2. I don't get Lush: I just don't. The smell of the store makes me feel nauseous and I just don't think their products are that good. I love their lip balms because they are like butter, but the scents they use in their products turn my skin into an unhappy, cracking red mass. The soaps everyone raves about just smell like 'ew' to me. Maybe I'm just not ready for the Lush revolution yet.
  3. I suck at applying false lashes: After a blissful lifetime of not indoctrinating myself into this particular beauty technique, I took the baptism of fire last September and applied my first pair. Disaster. Turns out, all that time I spent perfecting my liquid liner could have equally been useful for learning the secret to Bambi lashes. As it is, I'm a dab hand at liquid liner and end up with the lashes stuck to my hand rather than my eye. Shame.
  4. I never moisturise anywhere other than my face: I'm trying to rectify this with a bottle of Baby Oil in the shower, but the fact stands that I'm fairly lazy about moisturising anywhere other than my face or poorly hands. I wish I could remember to do it, but my skin never feels dry so I don't remember. Oh dear. I'm sure when I'm old, this will come back to bite me.
  5. I hate Woodwinked eyeshadow: I think Woodwinked is one of those over-hyped products which people assert will suit everyone, just like Orgasm blush by NARS. There is no one-size-fits-all with cosmetics, as I realised after I'd bought it, tried it on and looked like the victim of some kind of liver disease. Just terrible.
  6. I don't understand the hype over Fix+: What is this hype all about, really? I've fallen for this hype twice, and in my experience I only ever allow a cosmetic/beauty item two chances before it's out of my repertoire forever. It doesn't set my foundation or powder, it doesn't give me a dewy look, it doesn't add extra moisture to my skin. It IS refreshing on a hot day and it's useful for foiling pigments. It's essentially water with extra ingredients and I'm still sore I fell for that one twice.
  7. I never remember to throw away mascaras over 3 months old: I'm the forgetful type (but not when having a row with Kiwi - my memory is extremely acute for those occasions!) and never notice my 3 month grace period with my mascara is up. If the mascara looks okay and smells okay, then I forget until it definitely isn't okay. Horror stories aside, I've never had problems, and I suspect a lot of people do this too :)
  8. Until September I only owned 3 nail polishes: I only owned a red, a fuchsia and a nail strengthener... Working with food meant the rules were extremely restrictive, so no nail polish for me! I'll tell you now, I'm making up with this, having increased my small collection by 15 in just a few months. Oh dear... An obsession in the making.
  9. I fail at painting inside the lines of my cuticles: When I've just painted my nails, it looks like a toddler's been finger-painting. I appear to have neither the necessary creative faculties nor the motor control and just smear the polish haphazardly over my nails and hope for the best. It's not the best time for an obsession to take hold.
  10. I only learned to do my eyebrows aged 22: Just a couple of weeks before I started my YouTube channel, I was taught by a lovely and patient MAC lady how to fill in my eyebrows, and wondered why I'd never tried to do it before. Now, I feel like my face is incomplete without my brows being filled in, and can't believe I'd never learned before then.
Has anyone else got any beauty confessions to get off their chest?

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Subject-change Sunday: More tea?

As I've been gleefully exclaiming to all and sundry on my Youtube channel, yesterday I went for some Afternoon Tea (the very phrase conjures pomposity unlimited and therefore regally requires capital letters) at a very posh hotel in London with an intimidating dress code and a price list even more so. So finally, after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and wandering about the flat in semi-constructed and poorly-considered outfit choices, we finally managed to mobilise our troops and begin our expedition to somewhere a little different.

I held Kiwi's hand as we nervously shuffled past the doormen of the Connaught Hotel and crossed the threshold, half expecting to be rebuffed by a cross-looking moustache in a top hat and tails, or for the unsmiling host blocking our entry to our desired destination to tell us that we were unsuitably attired, or our reservation could not be located.

Feeling none of the bravado of Red Riding Hood, I felt a little lost in the woods as we were ushered to a seat and sat down before my seat was pushed in. Luckily there was no slapstick tumble to the floor, rather an awkward pause as I calculated the distance between myself and the table, and the danger of dropping one of those so-carefully prepared pastries into that unavoidable gap. I stood up awkwardly and let the nice lady with the grey suit push my chair in a little further.

Imperial Earl Grey, just the way my dad takes it :)

A waiter-sommelier appeared to allow us to consider our tea choices, elucidating each one with well-rehearsed morsels of syntax, designed to tantalise and tempt. Having tremulously made our choices after parsing his foreign syllables with difficulty, we sat quietly and waited for something to happen.

With a few minutes we were poured our tea in china teacups and we began to feel infinitely more relaxed; quite a few people in the neighbouring tables were Just Like Us and the only silver spoon to be found was jostling in the saucer with the teacup, and certainly not in one of the patrons' mouths.

...And so mindful were we of that tiny silver spoon and how one must stir their tea gently so as not to chink the sides of one's cup. And to expertly steer conversation clear of politics or money, and to keep said conversation no louder than the chink of the china we were eating from.

Part of the mysterious Kiwi's hand and a pretentious shot of a teapot.

In a rather ungenteel manner, we demolished the sandwiches as soon as they arrived, so sadly there are no pictures of our delicious tidbits-crusts-cut-off-thank-you-very-much. Our favourite was the smoked salmon and wasabi, delicious with a waspish sting. Next came the pastries expertly arranged on a tiered stand by a wind-up toy of a waiter who'd clearly served over-excited childish adults with chocolate smeared around their mouths before.

Kiwi's hand, more of; cake stand of joy with coca cola shot at the top; derrière of waitress.

A flirty slip of a thing in a shot glass quickly caught both our attentions and we narrowed eyes over the cake stand before Kiwi offered it to me in a most gentlemanly manner (I was going to be paying the bill, after all). It was coca cola jelly, pink grapefruit marinated in whisky and a vanilla foam. It tasted like a 10 pence freeze-pop; sugary and ridiculous but very delicious.

There were, of course, a few ill-informed mishaps lurking in delicious-looking guises; a fluffy choux bun with salted caramel turned out to be inedible and Kiwi's mouth twisted as he bit into it. He deposited the rest onto my plate, passing the blame like a sullen child. Nobody, however, could resist the warm scones - which we shall not be rhyming with the word 'cone' if you please - which were provided with a selection of jam.

Jam and scones-which-do-not-rhyme-with-cones.

Now, I like jam. Jam is good. It is good on toast, and sometimes in cakes. It is also good on crumpets. Jam, however, does not get me excited. Nothing prepared me for the pineapple and vanilla jam however, all confidently sunny and caribbean in its little glass pot.

... Let's just say we bought our own pot. It cost £10.

Take-home sachets of Connaught special blend tea and the jam of epic JOY.

That's how good it was.

Our gluttony was topped off with a couple of slices of cake; one chocolate and one lemon and earl grey tea. I didn't eat them; I was far too full of other postage-stamp sized tasty eats and bijou morsels. After waiting a fairly long half hour for the bill, we rolled out onto the street into a taxi like plump, lumbering beetles.

When asked later if Kiwi had enjoyed his lofty afternoon sat in the Espelette conservatory at the Connaught, he mused for a second, then replied: 'You can't really rave about Afternoon Tea, though... Only politely enthuse.'

And so we did and I am - ever so politely and quietly.

Next time we go, however, we'll definitely do it right and order more sandwiches. There's always a never-ending supply of sandwiches.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Friday Five and my Friday Playlist

Busy week again this week! I need to manage my time more efficiently so I can make more blog posts instead of starting with a fizz and then petering out like I've been doing recently. So, as I wait for my nail polish to dry, I'll try and start the ball rolling with a Friday Five post.
  1. Pixlr: If you've not found this yet and you have a blog, you need this. It's PhotoShop without the ridiculously expensive and large download, and best of all, it's free. It's really user-friendly for complete noobs like me who once got a D on a drawing of a lemon in Art Class, aged 11. Indispensable.
  2. List of MAC eyeshadow combinations: If you're feeling uninspired with your makeup, this section of the site MAC provides a list of lovely eye combinations organised alphabetically by eyeshadow name. You may need to settle in with a cup of tea and a snack; it's a very long list.
  3. Pomplamoose Music: If you haven't found this little duo on Youtube, then you definitely need to check them out; they make lovely covers of awesome songs and make you jump about with glee at how happy everything is.
  4. Cocosa: For those of you ladies in the UK who'd like an invite code to this fabulous site, please drop me a comment with your email address and let me know! It's an invite-only fashion and accessories sale site often featuring well-known designers with up to 60-something% discount. I know, I know, a discount designer site makes everyone think 'Hmm...' in a skeptical manner... But this one's excellent!
  5. Cake Wrecks: A blog about terrible cakes. If you're not already on this bandwagon, you definitely should be. Start from the Classics and work your way forward. If you're not crying with laughter by the time you get to either the carrot-straddling babies with mohawks, or the 'It a gril!' cake, then I must question your sanity.
My Friday playlist this week has been very happy and upbeat as my mind was preoccupied with organising the 4th anniversary of Kiwi and I (I know, vomit...) So I apologise unreservedly for those cynics out there, or those who had a bad week...
  1. Karen O and the kids - All is Love: This was the song used for some trailers of 'Where the Wild Things Are', a story I was never read when I was little and a lot of people find that strange. This song, however, is uplifting and cheerful and sickeningly wholesome. That doesn't stop me smiling whenever I hear it, though.
  2. Hall & Oates - You Make My Dreams: This song echoes how I've been feeling this week. I've been happy and jubilant and exactly like how Joseph Gordon-Levitt dances in the film '500 Days of Summer'. If you've not seen that dance scene, watch it now. And smile.
  3. Flight of the Conchords - Foux Da Fa Fa: This song is ridiculous and the melody is infectious. It's basically an amalgamation of every phrase you learned in high-school level French shoved into a song. With a bit of shimmying, casual jibes aimed at the French and one of my favourite (sadly lapsed) comedy duos.
  4. The Boy Least Likely To - Be Gentle with Me: I've seen this band only once (before they were really famous and their ticket prices doubled) and the gig was magical. They had bubbles and glitter floating around while we were wooed by ridiculously twee and sweet songs. This video features little stuffed animals playing xylophones and a jaunty, happy disposition.
  5. The Libertines - Don't Look Back into the Sun: This is 'our' song. It's my ringtone for when Kiwi calls me. I don't know why it's ours or how it came to be ours, but it's ours. I don't think it's a very good 'first dance' song, though...
Kisses, everyone :) Hoping to get some photos of our afternoon tea to post up for Sunday! Fingers crossed :)

Friday, 5 March 2010

Friday Five and my Friday Playlist

Phew! It's been a little while since I dusted off this old thing - I feel like I've been so busy - too busy to think about wording beauty-related posts! I have a little beauty project which I'm working on for the moment, so I'm looking forward to sharing all my findings with you on that front, but for now I'll do a Friday Five.

Just like those posts I do every so often on a Sunday (not every week because I want them to be good and I hate forcing a deadline on myself), I may do one of these every so often. It's basically an amalgamation of 5 links from all over the internet that I've been particularly enjoying recently and not necessarily beauty-related. I also purloined an idea from someone who I will link below to do a little playlist of my favourite weekly tunes, too. So, Friday Five:
  1. Young Me Now Me: People recreate photos from their childhoods later in life - funny, touching and lovely.
  2. Pretty Little Posey: This has been one of my favourite beauty blogs of late; Posey is witty and articulate and clearly puts a lot of effort into her blog and its content.
  3. This is the only level: It's no secret I like to game, but this game is a little different to what I'm used to. There's only one level to this game, which involves guiding the little blue elephant safely to the other side, but it gets harder and harder and you begin to get more frustrated as the jolly music continues to play on loop.
  4. Web Urbanist: Web Urbanist is fascinating and focuses on the idea of list-type posts bringing you the world's abandoned cities, weirdest animals and coolest art. It's one of my all-time favourites for nerdy reading.
  5. Astronomy Picture of the Day: APOD is one of NASA's creations and gives you a picture of the deep void that is space everyday. Just because not all people who like space go to conventions and dress up like Spock :)
Aaand Friday Playlist:

This week was all about travelling, packing, studying and trying to chill in between :)
  1. Neon Neon - Dream Cars: The first time I heard this, I realised I loved it precisely because it sounded like someone else: David Bowie. It's a lovely chilled Bowie-inspired number which makes me want to don some shoulder-pads and kick back in an 80's dreamworld.
  2. Regina Spektor - Edit: This is one of those few songs which I find it really easy to work to whilst bopping in time. It's a beautiful song with a lovely sort-of Tango of a piano solo in the middle.
  3. The Stranglers - Skin Deep: This song always motivates me and makes me walk with a spring in my step; I love the chords and melody. So euphoric.
  4. Frank Turner - Love, Ire & Song: Frank is one of my favourite musicians; his music is feeling without too much melodrama and at gigs he always encourages us humble audience members to sing along. This song is almost lullaby-like and chills me out after a long day.
  5. Gogol Bordello - Through the Roof 'N' Underground: I first found this song through the film Wristcutters: A Love Story, which is a really great film where people who commit suicide go to a sort of purgatory where you're not allowed to smile and everything is grey. It's the love story of Zia and Mikal, who meet there. This song puts a smile on my face with its hilarious frontman's singing whilst chilling me out.


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