Wednesday, 23 April 2014

BIRCHBOX APRIL 2014


This month I made a promise to myself to steer clear of any Birchbox spoilers or reviews in an effort to add a little extra excitement to my monthly delivery. All well and good in theory, but by the time our postman came round to my desk with my box it took a helluva lot of willpower to not rip it right out of his hands. Greedy.

Anyway, first up I'm putting my marketing hat on and getting a little bit geeky. I was really impressed by a nice little CRM initiative from Birchbox, which came in the form of an email pushed out to their subscribers encouraging people to select the shade of the nail polish they wanted to receive in this months box. A clever move as colour preference is so personal, plus it brings the consumer closer to the brand by involving them in the product selection process. Well played, B.

As for the box itself, it felt nice and heavy (thanks to the whacking great bottle of shampoo) and I must admit I squealed (out loud) when I spotted TheBalm was making an appearance. Besides that, I was reasonably pleased, but not overly smitten - I'll spell out why alongside my sample breakdown below.

THE CONTENTS

TheBalm Cosmetics 'How 'Bout Them Apples Cheek & Lip Cream'
Touted as an easy-to-bend cream that offers up a long-lasting pop of colour to cheeks and lips, this perfectly portable sample packaged up in their signature retro style sleeve was easily my favourite inclusion this month. A favourite brand in my beauty stakes, so I was sold way before my digits got anywhere near the pan, but the product didn't disappoint. Blended in with finger tips across my cheekbone rather than the apple of my cheek (I'm of the Wayne Goss way of thinking when it comes to blush placement), or patted onto the lips in combo with a dab of my favourite lip balm this delivers a juicy flush of coral perfect for Spring.

Lord & Berry 'Couture Kohl Kajal Eye Pencil'
Never one to sniff at a staple black liner, I was happy enough to receive this as I'm all out of pencil liners. However a quick swipe on the back of my hand was enough to tell me this is nowhere near pigmented enough to excite me - although it's handy for travel and I can build it up if necessary.

Color Club 'Gala's Gems Nail Polish'
A miniature from London based Spanish blogger Gala Gonzalez's collaboration collection with Color Club that features a range of pastel shades - unfortunately just not my cup of tea as I find that pearlised finishes have a bit of a Grandma edge to them.

TommyGuns 'Pomegranate & Orange Flower Shampoo'
Let's be honest, shampoos and conditioners are amongst the least exciting additions to these boxes - but I was happy enough with this as it's such a generous bottle and it smells great. It's touted as a refreshing shampoo gentle enough for all hair types, that protects and adds shine.

One Love Organics 'Skin Saviour Waterless Beauty Balm'
One of the biggest appeals of beauty boxes for me is the discovery of new products and this is one I'd certainly never heard of. It's described as a 'do-it-all' balm that removes makeup, cleanses and moisturises skin and I'm all for streamlining my product stash so I was curious here, but I just don't see it covering off all those skincare bases. I like an oily makeup remover to limit tugging on the skin, and a rich moisturiser that I can feel sinking into my skin - this has the consistency of a light balm and also smells kinda icky. Not one I'll be incorporating into my routine anytime soon.

Propercorn 'Fiery Worcester Sauce & Sun-Dried Tomato'
Popcorn has seen a huge revival recently and this little lifestyle extra made for a nice snack whilst I was testing out my new samples.

All in all, a reasonably successful offering from Birchbox this month, but unfortunately not enough to keep my subscription in place. I'm all beauty boxed out for now kids!
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Tuesday, 15 April 2014

BARRY M PERFECTS THE PASTELS

barry m pastel shades
barry m pastel shadesbarry m pastel shades
We've been treated to a trio of creamy, pastel polishes to adorn our tips by the ever reliable Barry M, in the Gelly Hi Shine finish we all know and love. These milky shades boast a glossy, opaque finish in two coats, and sit beautifully against skin tones across the board.

Huckleberry is a delicate baby blue (which I'm currently sporting against deep burgundy tootsie tip paint as I love a bit of contrasting coordination), Sugar Apple is a minted turquoise with strong notes of blue and is a cheaper (and arguably nicer) alternative to Essie's Mint Candy Apple, and to finish up Rose Hip is the prettiest strawberry milkshake toned light pink. 

They retail at £3.99, and Barry M is currently on 3 for 2 at Superdrug - a.k.a the perfect opportunity to bring some pastel lovin' to your polish line up.
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Friday, 11 April 2014

SPRING TRANSITION BOOTIES

boots for springboots for springboots for spring

If I have to spend this weekend scrolling through a Coachella saturated Instagram feed, I'm doing it strutting around in the most festival appropriate footwear I own. Next year I WILL go, though mostly so I can spend an extended period of time wearing fringed EVERYTHING (the dream).

Technically sandals (though caged enough to pass off as a boot) these stompers are my new go-to for the A/W - S/S transition. Faux leather, pointed toes, buckled ankle straps and an open woven pattern, they're the perfect match for jeans, leggings and little summer dresses alike. Bravo, Forever 21.

Give your feet a lil' breather, find them here (in camel or black) for £27.90
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Monday, 7 April 2014

THE DEW-MINATORS

dewy makeup
dewy makeup

Just lately I've been lusting for a dewy, bronzed up complexion. Perhaps it's because SS14 is creeping in, but a heavier matte base has been feeling a little dull and so I've found myself frequently reaching for my go-to 'glow' picks.

First up, MACs 'MSF' in 'Gold Deposit' - AKA a bronzing junkies kryptonite. Flaked layers of velvety high-frost metallic powder that buffs into the skin for an ΓΌber bronze glow. It's worth mentioning that a lighter touch is required for those of us with fairer complexions. Find it here for £22.

In need of a tinted-moisturiser-come-foundation? Benefit have got your back. 'You Rebel' gives medium coverage, SPF15 protection and packs a pretty powerful moisture punch in one swift swipe of a foundation brush. At it's best in combination with a tan (from a can, in my case), it's the my secret weapon for faking holiday skin. Find it here for £24.50, or here for the lighter shade.

For something even lighter on the skin, The Body Shop's 'All-In-One BB Cream' is my go-to. It deposits from the tube in a white cream packed full of pigment-filled capsules which burst when blended to perfectly match the skin. It's the ultimate 'no-makeup-makeup'. Find it here for £12.

My Holy Grail highlighter takes it's form in Benefit's 'High Beam'. A satin pink liquid formula that applies either across the brow/cheek bones as an on the spot highlight, or blended into the whole face for an overall glow. I like it blended into the triangle between my cheekbones and up to the corners of my eyes for a Kardasian-esque gleam. Find it here for £19.50 (full size, sample pictured).

Next up, my go-to under eye concealer for lighter coverage days. The Body Shop 'Lightening Touch' features light-diffusing particles and a gel formula that blends in for a 'concealer? what concealer?' look. I use the salmon shade to combat my dark circles, and there's never a caky, creased up eyelid in sight. Find it here for £14.

MACs 'Lustre Drops' in 'Sun Rush' is a bronzer that applies like liquid sun (their cheesy line, not mine). Subtler than Benefit's 'High Beam', I reach for this water-based, pearlised highlight when I'm after a gentler luminosity and tend to sweep it across my cheekbones and forehead with my fingers straight from the tube. Find it here for £18.

My last pick is Soap & Glory's 'Glow All Out Lumizing Face Powder' - the only powder in my collection that doesn't seem to dull out my complexion, instead lifting it to give a pearlised, pink toned lit from within glow. I tend to use it all over, but it also works as a powder highlight when packed on a little heavier across the cheek and brow bones. Find it here for £11.
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Monday, 31 March 2014

EASY PEASY WALL ART

wall stickers
wall stickers
wall stickers

I've been relying on wall 'stickers' to liven up blank student halls and neutral toned rentals for years now. Printed on vinyl, they are removable and reusable, and can be reapplied to any flat, dry surface. To be safe, ensure any fresh coats of wall paint have been given around a month to dry before applying.

There's an expansive range available on eBay, covering everything from pretty floral arrangements (this one is beaut) to Biggy Smalls silhouettes (amazing, find it here). Pick your ideal wall art and hunt for it on eBay with 'decal' added to the end of your search - you're bound to find something to your taste. Most sellers offer customised stickers as standard, so you can choose the right size and colour to match with your current decor.

My Audrey sticker has seen me through three different flats, and she's still going strong. To transport her around, I carefully peel the sticker off the wall, stick it to a black bin bag and roll it up. 

Find Audrey for less than £6 here.
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Sunday, 23 March 2014

EATS: MOROCCAN EGGS


This is the ultimate one-pot brunch bonanza. Eggs, chorizo, chipolatas, feta cheese and lots and lots of tomato all thrown into one BIG pan and scooped up with fresh, crusty bread.

You can adapt the basic recipe (essentially tomatoes and eggs) and throw in whatever's kicking around in your fridge if you're ever stuck for a tasty weekend breakfast option.


Here's what I used:

- 2 eggs

- a tin of chopped tomatoes

- a handful of chopped cherry tomatoes 

- a handful of chopped pepper

- a handful of chopped chorizo

- a handful of chopped feta

- a small handful of chopped corriander

- 3 or 4 chipolata sausages

- a loaf of crusty bread

- a dollop of olive oil

- paprika, garlic and salt to season


First grab a nice heavy frying pan, dress it with a splash of olive oil and heat on a medium-high ring. Once it's nice and hot you can throw in your chorizo and garlic (I used a teaspoon of the lazy kind, but you can be posh and crush up a clove if you fancy). 


Once the garlic has browned off, throw in in your chopped pepper and tomatoes (both cherry and tinned) - and be sure to cover up any bare bits, the hot fat will spit! 

Next add a (very) generous dash of paprika and a big pinch of salt, then give it a stir. At this point those of you with fiery palettes might want to take this opportunity to chuck in some chilli flakes (I'm too much of a wuss for that).


Add your chipolatas and turn the heat down a little, then let the mixture simmer for 15 minutes or so whilst the sausages cook through. You should expect the liquid to cook off to about half it's original volume.


Then throw in your chopped coriander and give it a good stir.


Now gently break your eggs over the top, leaving them for a few minutes to poach in the sauce.

Once they're just about done, crumble your feta over the top, giving it a few moments to melt in before serving up.


Add a few coriander leaves to garnish then grab a hunk of your favourite crusty bread and dive in.

If you have any left over, cover the pan with cling film and save it for a snack later that day - it's even better cold when all the flavours have had more time to sink into each other.

I found this recipe on Rosie's blog (adapting it just the tiniest bit). If her fantastic website has somehow managed to slip past your radar I suggest you find a spare hour to dive through her archives! She is my go-to for recipes, London hot spots and has the best blow out in town. 

I'll leave you an egg-cellent pun. 

That's all yolks.
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Thursday, 20 March 2014

BIRCHBOX MARCH 2014


I'm torn in two over this months Lulu Guinness branded Birchbox.

A string of Lulu Guinness teasers had instilled the highest of hopes in me and frankly a stick of branded rock wasn't quite enough to satisfy my expectations. Granted, subscribers are offered £20 off any £100+ spend in Lulu Guinness store/online but I'm pretty sure this will only be of use to those who already had an LG purchase in mind. I for one am extremely unlikely to use it and will likely pass it on.

On the other hand, there was some nice little picks in this months drawstring bag and my initial disappointments were swiftly replaced by an excitable bout of product testing. A nice little extra also included was a voucher for a free makeupper at Benefit to try out the new 'Gimme Brow' which has been received with rave reviews across the blogosphere.

To conclude my slightly rambled synopsis, despite initial reservations I'm pretty happy with this months Birchbox and my subscription remains firmly in place.

THE CONTENTS

Benefit 'Stay Don't Stray'
A tinted primer touted as a the solution to concealer creasing and eyeshadow fading. I tested it over a long day at the office combined with a post work dinner and have been pretty impressed with the results. I use a heavy concealer to deal with my dark circles and I definitely saw a improvement in creasing and wear time. Get your hands on it here.

Dr Brandt 'Pores No More Pore Refiner'
Don't get me wrong, I'm all about a primer - but is it totally necessary to include two in one box? Nonetheless a little luxe in the form of this Space NK resident is a welcome addition to my sample bowl, and initial impressions are good. Texture wise it's very similar to Benefit's 'Porefessional' and it appears to offer a similar wear time. Feeling particularly porous? Find it here.

Korres 'Citrus Body Milk'
In short, great packaging, a not-so-great smell. Honestly I'm not a massive fan of including shower/bath products in beauty boxes in general, and do tend to see them as a bit of a cop out. It's unfortunate that I find the uber natural/herb scent so off putting as I've heard great things about Korres and the packaging is fab. I imagine this might be better received by those with different tastes scent-wise. Find it here.

Molton Brown 'Rhubarb & Rose Replenishing Hand Cream'
Who can say no to a bit of Molton Brown? This was thrown straight into my handbag, and best of all it smells FAB. Touted as a fast absorbing, repairing and deeply moisturising lotion, it's sold out everywhere for now, but keep an eye out here if you fancy adding it to your collection.

English Laundry 'No.7 For Her'
Birchbox are dipping their toes into risky water here. Perfume samples are rarely well received in beauty boxes but I'm willing to make an exception here as it smells so good. It has top notes of pear and jasmine blended with gardenia, vanilla and sandalwood, and directly hits the mark between feminine and sophisticated. Love. I'd definitely recommend going wild with wrist sprays at your local counter, and you can find a handbag friendly size here (I've just bought one).

Candy Rock
This little lifestyle extra is representative of the fact that Lulu Guinness' SS14 collection was inspired by old school sweetshops. A nice touch, and something fun to have sat on my dresser for now, but I was hoping for something a little more..

If you haven't signed up yet, you can get your postman to deliver you a box of beauty picks from Birchbox every month for £10 + £2.95 P&P. Details here.
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Sunday, 16 March 2014

KICKS HAULIN'


Spring has finally dealt us a few rays of sunshine, and with the promise of warmer days comes that insatiable need for new season appropriate footwear. I've recently hooked myself up with a trio of shiny new shoes that cover off just about any occasion the next couple of months can throw at me, ready to feel enabled?


Staple black flats - the ultimate answer to any outfit brief.  Every girl needs a pair, and slinky mesh cut out sides give these versatile ballerinas from New Look an edge. They're sold out online but you can probably still grab them in-store - they were around £10 (ish). 


I'm a sucker for an ankle boot. Not-too-steep (but with enough height to slim out legs and ankles) and with a peep toe detailing that lets you show off your latest pedi, these suede offerings from Next are my new go-to power shoe. They work with every outfit option and are sure to carry me right through to A/W and beyond! I've got my eye on the black pair, and they also come in tan. Find them here for £55. 


Last up is my £10 Zara sale steal. Crisp white patent sandals that nod to the 60's - featuring a delicate ankle strap and cross over detail at the heel. They scream S/S and are the perfect height to cover anything from casual drinks to a full blown night out. They're sold out, but you can find similar styles on Zara's website

Have you been treating your feet recently?
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