Monday, 29 September 2014

OUTFIT: Dem Autumnal Layers

Vest & Boots: Peacocks, All other items: H&M

In the past few months I've been a good grown-up and bought a lot of things that could be considered mundane. For example, carpets for the entirety of the upstairs and going all out and getting the cambelt on my car changed on top of a full service.

Two things that cost me a lot of money, but that make me super happy. (or rather, way happier than they probably should)

After those splurges, I thought it time to spend a little bit on things that make me feel good in myself rather than my property.

Cue a massive shopping spree.

I didn't spend as much as I thought I would. Instead of aimlessly adding things to my basket, I considered where, when and what with I would style the items. So unlike my eighteen year old self going for the trendier type pieces, I went for basic. Good colours, good textures, good practicalities, multipurpose.

Oh, hey middle age, didn't see you right there!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

WEEKENDER: September

September, you have been good.

We had last week off work and although it felt like we did very little, we actually got a ton of stuff done. Autumnal walks, visiting Harrogate Flower Show, harvesting and prepping the allotment for next season, catching up on a load of sleep and precious spoon times with the cat and, of course, baking.

All in all, a bunch of my favourite things.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

READ: Lolita

Lolita has sat on my bookshelf, unread, for at least eight years. 

I tried to read it a few times over the years, but the writing style is one that you've just got to be in the mindset to read. This is set about sixty years ago and Humbert Humbert is maybe about fifty so he uses old, rich, poetic language which is a bit of a mouthful.

Humbert Humbert nearly has it away with his first love at the age of thirteen when she is just eleven and since then has wanted that play of events to happen again, despite him rapidly ageing and the situation very illegal. He bumbles his way through life and a wife in Paris and numerous hospitals for the insane, before hopping across the Atlantic to live in America where his initial plans fall through. He ends up living with a woman he could do without and her young daughter - Dolores (aka, Lolita).

Despite the actual weird perverted plot, the book is immensely addictive to read. I can't put it down. The way it's written is as though Humbert Humbert is talking in my head. The writing flows beautifully. It's a rose tinted, humorous, romantic novel.

I'm still only about a third of the way in, but I'm so curious to see what happens!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

LIFE: Make your home Pinterest worthy

This is a desk that my mum bought me around ten years ago from IKEA.

It's pale blue with a pull out white shelf for a keyboard. All in all, not exactly Pinterest worthy, but I create all my best work sat right here.

Yes, I also have a random dowel next to my vase. No idea.

I feel that sometimes interiors are a bit of a competition. I've noticed a lot of bloggers are now posting up pictures of immaculate areas of their homes sporting items that cost more than a monthly pay packet for both me and the Lad combined. Recreating something like that is just not possible for us.

Or is it?

I like a bit of a bargain. Some of the items I've seen in blog pictures recently are the high priced version of exactly the same thing in a cheaper store. Being savvy about home purchases is where you can create the look you want in your home without blowing all your cash. 

My favourite places are local charity shops . They have some beautiful furniture at great prices in them. In one such shop, I saw a white desk. Identical to mine, but white. At first I didn't realise, but when I did it made me look at my blue one with fresh eyes.

All I did here was grab a cuppa and bash some cheap roses from Morrison's in a glass to take this photo. I doubt it'll be on Pinterest any time soon, but the simplicity and organisation in it makes me proud. I'd pin dat.

And aside from £2 for fresh flowers, it was completely free. Winner.

Other places to consider for an awesome home:
And remember to sign up to newsletters. You'll get first dibs on any sale items and will usually get promotional codes emailed directly to you.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

HOW TO: The Red Lip

In my whole life I've worn lipstick, maybe, three times? Once when nude was really in and I looked albino with the all the powdering and the nudeness. The others for the Christmas Party in December last year and a leaving party way back in April. So I've never worn lipstick on the daily.

Until now.

You know those times when you don't really want to make an effort? Can't be arsed to wash your hair? Can't be bothered with hours of blending foundation and concealer and whatever else?

Well, this happened to me today.

I watched the latest A Beautiful Mess video and I saw one of the girls with awesome bright lips and peachy cheeks to match. I was like - yupp. So I gave it go.

I haven't washed my hair today, haven't brushed my teeth. If I didn't have to go down the shop then I'd still be in my pjamas. But, the red lip detracts from all that, doesn't it? The effort to put on the lipstick outweighs the lack off effort everywhere else. I hope.

Well, in any case, it's pretty simple and took me about five minutes to do.

1. Moisturise and Illuminate. Healthy skin doesn't just happen. Usually anyway. Give yourself a solid base to work with by hydrating that skin and faking the glow - something I reckon most people have to do on the colder mornings.

2. Conceal. Everyone has blemishes, even on a really good skin day. I have major dark circles, despite having slept super well this week, so I popped a bit of a correcting concealer under there and on any pimples I have which means the base is complete!

3. Blush. I used the blush on my cheeks where the highest points of my natural flush. Then I took what was left on my fingers and brush and swept a bit under my brows. I saw a lady do this once and it ties the face together really well so I thought I'd try it too.

4. Brows. Still natural, but bolder than usual. This evens out the bold lip once you're finished.

5. Liner and mascara. Create a very simple, very basic black line to pull the eye outwards and wake them up a bit. Don't bother with the tightline, just whack on some mascara and that's your eyes done!

6. The Lip. I chose a slightly orange toned lip. I have two to choose from, the other being a tad darker, but the orange keeps the look fresh and simple.

Voila! Now I can spend the rest of the day inevitably smudging it about.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

LIFE: Rejection

We regret to advise that you have not been successful in being progressed to the next stage in the recruitment process.

Unfortunately, due to the volume of interest that our roles generate, we are unable to provide feedback.

I applied for a job. As you do. I got this rejection letter the other other day. As I think a lot of people do. In a way it's good I got a letter informing me that I hadn't got through. But, still.

Do I feel gutted? Yes, yes I do.

Will life go on? Yes, course it will.

Rejection, in any way, does not make the world stop. Even when it feels like it. There's a bright side to everything. 

Can't have a shadow without the sun (just like you can't eat a full cooked breakfast and not be happy).

True dat.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

LIFE: 5 things every potential cat owner should know

I am first and foremost a dog person. My first ever memory is of our two old Labradors sticking their faces in right close to mine. When I was about thirteen, we got a cat. What a game changer that was. Nowadays, the Lad and I have two cats. Both black and white. One boy and one girl.

1. Cats love people
Cats have a bad rep for hatin'. Some cats really do hate, but you can usually tell from wherever you're getting yours from whether the cat likes people or not. Both our cats seek us out on an evening to curl up next to us, push their ways in front of whatever book or blog we're reading and dribble in ecstasy when we finally give in and rub their ears. 

2. Cats are good mates
If you're crying in front of the TV at a baby advert - a cat will be there wondering why you're raining on its back. If you're storming about wanting to punch someone in the face - a cat will stay out of your way. If you just want to eat a whole tub of ice cream - a cat will help you. There's nothing better than a cat best friend.

3. A cat will poo anywhere it wants
All of my family have cats. All of those cats have chosen to poo somewhere other than the designated kittylitter area. My dad's loves to occasionally dump it's load in the bath tub. My mum's has a penchant for TV wires. One of ours loves a good rug. Despite having a litter tray or even a door to the outside world, a cat will, at some point in it's life, choose to poo elsewhere. It's not just your cat - every cat will do it.

4. Treat your cat like a kid
Don't baby it (well sometimes, maybe, okay then), but give it clear boundaries to adhere to. I'm not saying it will stick to them all the time, but if it knows it's not meant to do something then the chances are it won't take the piss. Our cats know:
Not to go upstairs without invitation
Touch any kitchen surface, excepting the floor and a designated chair
Scratch anything that is not the scratching post(s)
Meowing does not mean food
Big eyes does not mean food

On the whole our cats do abide by these rules. Sometimes it doesn't work. The younger of our two tries to slink upstairs to have a mooch about and a roll on the beds, but if he catches me watching him, he'll pretend to sniff the bottom step and saunter away. I know that if/when I'm not there, he'd have a right good time rolling about, but he knows he's not meant to. And we keep all the doors closed when we leave the house - ha! in your face Cat!

5. Quality time is better than no time at all
You might worry that working shifts/having full time work/other commitments would mean that you are unsuitable for getting a cat. Wrong! I know the Cats Protection have some fairly high standards, but cats really don't need that much time with you. As long as the time spent with you is quality time, everything is A-OK. On a morning I have a quick hello, feed, scratch and rub down whilst I have my breakfast on a morning. On an evening I might brush the older, more long haired one whilst the younger one dozes on my lap. One to one, or even one to two, time makes them feel loved and in return they'll make you feel loved as soon as you come home.

When you're not at home, a cat will probably be lounging about, eating and licking its bits so when you finish work it's ready for the mad half hour to begin!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

HOW TO: Get a perfect cat flick

This is my eye. My deep set eye.

(I know my brow skillz aint that great, okay, lets just say the editing didn't go in my favour.)

Focusing on the eyeliner then...

I've tried a lot of techniques to get 'the perfect liner' on my droopy eyes. I'm twenty four, but my eyelids wouldn't look out of place on a seventy four year old.

The best way of finding a technique that suits you, is to try them all. None work for me. My eye shape is just not quite right for any of the ones I've found to make my eyes look lifted and bright. 

Below is a step-by-step guide (if you can really call it that) to how I apply my liner every day. Hallelujah to my discoloured naked eye area!

1. I blob a bit of black on the outer edge of my eyelid. Not particularly close to the lashes - we'll tidy that bit up later.

2. Drag the colour further up the eyelid to about half way making sure the line thins towards the centre of the eye. I then use whatever's left on the brush to bring a bit of colour down into the other half of my eyelid, petering it out as I go. Using the outer corner of the blob I made first, I make a line outwards from my eye to create a basic flick. It makes my eye look droopy, but Step 3 corrects this.

3. Thicken the flick and drag along the lashes upward. At this point you can make your flick higher, longer, thicker, thinner, lower, whatever. I usually drop the bottom slightly to create a subtle curve to it, add a little length and point the very end upwards - my puppy eyes look less droopy then and the flick reaches beyond my natural crease line so it's visible wherever I'm looking.

4. Take either a liner pencil or liquid liner (I find either of these easier to use than gel at this point) and run it along the tightline/waterline of your top lids making sure there's no patchiness. Add some mascara and you're done!

TOP TIPS: if you make a mistake using liquid liner, get a cotton bud, wet it with your mouth and then wipe away. If you're using a gel, use makeup remover and wipe away with a clean, dry cotton bud.

I also notice that in the first picture I'm looking downwards and in the last picture I'm looking up a bit so it's not an exact science-y How To, but hopefully you get the gist. 

Friday, 12 September 2014

REVIEW: Battle of the concealer

Collection Lasting Perfection - I have this in Fair. It's a little too light for me, but the next shade is a little too dark so the Fair does me good. It blends out well, especially over blemishes. Wouldn't use it under my eyes as it's too cakey for my likeing on those parts of my face.

Collection Illuminating Touch - This is a regular on my daily face. I'm not a great fan of the application brush, but a couple of twists get out enough product and lets me get it precisely where I want it before allowing me to pat it in with my fingers. Coverage is excellent and I use this as an allrounder.

Origins Plantscription - I've had this in two shades and both suit my skin for different areas. Currently I'm on the lighter of the two and it fits well with the rest of my fairly light makeup. It's superb for under the eyes and on smaller acne scars. Maybe not so great for long-time coverage of angry spots. The darker shade works better on my blemishes.

Revlon Colourstay - This is a nice creamy, peachy toned product, great for under the eyes to hide my dark circles. Quite a light, but buildable coverage. If you wanted, this would work as a light foundation. Good texture to it. Very similar to the Origins concealer, but for a fraction of the price. 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

REVIEW: PRO:VOKE Touch Of Silver

When I first went back to my beloved blonde, I wanted to ensure that no brassiness came through. A quick look through the haircare aisle at my local supermarket lead me to these.

My blonde hasn't faded one bit since I had it done about three months ago. Admittedly, I did blast it. The colour I chose was meant to be brown, but it took much, much lighter. Although my hair is still super blonde, it sometimes looks a bit dull and needs livening up a bit.

The range works well together, like any range of products, they're meant to. However, the only one I think really works as it claims to is the Twice Weekly Brightening Shampoo. Despite trying to see a difference when I use the others, after I use this dream product I get really lovely comments about my hair from people at work, including customers. For me, that's a big giveaway as to whether a product works. 

Men. At work. Noticing hair? You're onto a winner there.

Overall it's a pretty average range of products. It's obviously not going to keep the blonde looking as fresh as it was when it was first done, but it'll help a smidgen. Still on the fence as to whether the normal shampoo and conditioner work 100%, but if you want a cheap pick-me-up for sad looking blonde hair, the Brightening Shampoo is the one for you.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014


1. My happy place is our back bedroom. It's always the warmest, brightest, quietest room of the house.

2.  If I feel any sort of extreme emotion, whether I'm super angry or really sad, I find a spot where I can lay down or sit so the only thing I can see is the sky. Nothing really matters in a blue abyss.

3. I collect old fashioned sewing machines and vintage suitcases. Very juxtapose items really as one represents travelling and the other is as homely as you can get, but hey ho, there you go.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

LIFE: Gardening in a small space

You might have guessed from the title and the picture, but just to make it clear, the Lad and I are both keen gardeners.

If you'd asked me about gardening five years ago, I would have pointed at some pansies in the Homebase garden centre and bashed a load in the tiny raised bed we had out the back of our student flat and said 'good job.'

I think that was the last time I bought some pansies.

We moved to our current home about 3.5 years ago. It has a 10x35foot space at the back. After putting a shed at the end and creating a substantial chicken run for our two feathered friends, we're left with about 10x20 foot of garden. At one time we had a nice border down one edge and a lovely lawn. Then one day I woke up, went out and dug the whole thing over.

It was one of the most liberating things I've ever done*. British homes are subconsciously rated on their class status by the state of their lawns. Bet you've never really thought about it before, but I also bet you'll agree.

We started to fill our massive bed with flowery plants and shrubs.

A number of people questioned my decision to get rid of our grass. How will you upkeep it with full time shift work? Won't the chickens destroy it? You'll not have room in your green bin, surely? How will you entertain people now? and my personal favourite: Why?

The answer to all of these things is: grass is the most maintenance needy plant you can ever put in a garden, so why would I want to keep it?

- If I have time to cut the grass every week in the height of summer, I'll have time to potter about pruning a few straggly offshoots of plants every couple of weeks or so. (Something I can also do whilst it's raining)
- Chickens scratch, eat and shit on grass making it a not very nice place to entertain or enjoy - with shrubs, they scrat about the bushes and find worms, slugs and other lovely treats before leaving some excellent manure to be swept underneath afterwards**.
- All my garden waste goes into the chicken run for them to rummage about in whilst I'm at work so we rarely use our green bin at all.
- With all the foliage and flowers around, it's a haven for insects and animals. From tiny spiders  and butterflies to blackbirds and hedgehogs, we have them all!
At first we also thought it would take a lot of work, but it really doesn't. Just bash the plants in (like you would a pansy), but instead of having a few months of flowers and foliage, there's years worth of potential in them. And you don't have to lift a finger for the most part. Just let them do their thing!

The best thing about not having grass in the garden? 

It's a beautiful place to come home to.

* If you were worrying that I have a severely un-British relationship with grass, think again. Our lawn at the front of our house is what dreams are made of. I'm so proud of my edging that I show pictures of it to customers at work. Yeah, I take it that far.

** Some publications will tell you that chickens do not destroy plants that you have purposefully planted, but our chickens make a bee-line for those plants. Especially alpines. And especially the plants I really don't want them to eat. Although we let them roam the garden occasionally, we do not make it a habit of letting them out all the time. Hence why we put our cuttings in the run so they still get a good varied diet, but our plants do not suffer. It's also why we've given such a large portion of our outdoor space towards their run so they can flap happily about without disrupting our garden.

Friday, 5 September 2014

LIFE: 5 home jobs for September

1. Deep clean your kitchen.
Hearty meals require little planning and preferably just one Le Creuset pot. Clearing the cupboards out, giving them a wipe down, replacing any cracked/encrusted/disgusting pans in the process will help create the best homemade meal in the shortest time possible.

2. Buy your basics
Whilst everything's out of the cupboards, now's the time to see what's out of date, what's running out and what need's to be put on the next shopping list. My last shop included salt, olive oil, oxo cubes, flour, sugar and Stork butter. The main base ingredients for main meals and desserts alike.
In the same way, check levels of washing up liquid, washing detergent, room sprays, wet wipes etc, and bulk buy. You'll be spending a lot more time indoors over the coming months than the ones just gone, so make sure it's a prepared, clean environment!

3. Empty your shit drawers
I have eight shit drawers (drawers I shove anything and everything) in our living room. Recently I've cleared out three. Baskets are probably the best investment here. That way it's easier to group things together whilst tidying up and makes finding things quicker afterwards.

4. A lick of paint
The best way to freshen up a home is to repaint. Not necessarily with a new colour, but a quick once over with the same colour to get rid of any marks and scuffs can really rejuvenate a whole room. 

5. Change your bedding
This year I'm going mental for bedding. It's weird how just a different fabric, texture or colour can change the whole feeling of a bedroom. I've chosen neutral colours to help us relax, but you could go for bold and beautiful. I also got us a throw for over our tootsies on a night. It's a visually nice, but also practical addition to our usually bare bedroom.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

REVIEW: Daylight Bulbs

I've been thinking about getting a daylight bulb for a while now. 5:30am starts aren't so bright any more and with our house undergoing a bit of an overhaul I thought that it's about time I invested and made our house a home that functions to meet our early morning needs.

I bought this one from amazon for £6.99.

First impressions are that it reminds me of a flourescent strip light like the ones in hospitals or underground carparks. It's so stark and bright in contrast to a normal lightbulb. It's crazy good though. I'll come out of the main bedroom and be like 'why have I got the curtains closed and the lights on in here when the sun's up?' to then realise it's not the sun shining through the back bedroom, it's this bulb.

It's much easier to do stuff with this light on. Everything seems ten times clearer. It's kinder on our eyes. It manages to light up everything, even usually dark corners. It wakes me up faster on a morning. It's easier to spend time on the laptop. Way better for applying makeup correctly. 

Despite it's bright starkness, once I'm in the room it seems normal. Not too bright, not too stark.

All round this is a great buy.

For £6.99, this particular one is a mid range model. Daylight bulbs start from about £3.50 and range upward of £19 depending on the fitting, wattage and brand.

Plan of action: kit out the remaining rooms with daylight bulbs whilst not injuring my bank balance too much.

(Got to keep some moolah spare for a Boots haul, amiright?)

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

LIFE: Gaining hobbies.

I go through so many phases of what I like to do. Sometimes it's gardening. Sometimes it's reading. Currently, I've started cross stitch again.

I have a love/hate relationship with all of my hobbies. I love them for about two weeks then that's it - focus elsewhere. Done.

I think I like sewing in green. It's a good colour. Easy to see. Cross stitch is so time consuming that it completely absorbs everything else that matters into itself. One wrong stitch and the world has caved in.

Amongst the other household revamps, I'll be creating a arty piece for our blank kitchen feature wall (not much of a feature wall at the moment, like). This is just one bit of that.

Be awesome when I'm finished. Hopefully, anyway.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Hello September

I've been waiting for this month. After the heat of summer, the beginning of fall is the best feeling (almost, ever).

Layering, boots, hats, steamed up windows and crispy leaves. Gets me so excited just thinking about it.

This time last year I was dreading it. The cold, that is. I was hating constantly. Don't know why. Just was. That feeling crept into me about this time and didn't fade until six months ago when I started oh, hello jo. 

This year is different. I'm excited. For what, I don't quite know. But, it's a tingling in my fingers and a couple hundred butterflies in my belly.

I feel good about the next six months.
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