Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Beauty review

NYX stay matte but not flat powder foundation

I've been testing this out for a while now, its a very high coverage, coloured powder that does what it claims to do. It gives you a medium to high coverage, depending on how much you use, and gives the skin a matte finish without the chalkiness and 'flatness' that a lot of other powder foundations can give. I've used this as my foundation, dusted over concealer which works very well for oily skin, as well as using it as a setting powder over liquid foundation, the latter gives a super flawless look and is perfect for nights out, or days where you know you're going to be wearing make-up all day and need it to look perfect right to the end.

NYX soft matte lip cream in 'Berlin'

Ever since NYX launched in Boots stores I've been looking at their lip collections almost daily. I bought a few of their soft matte lip creams because the formula is fantastic. It is a little drying, but not as drying as something like the MAC retro liquid lips or the Kat Von D ones. This gives a velvet finish and although isn't completely transfer proof, stays on the lips for many hours without touch ups, and its so affordable! I got 'Berlin' which is a beautiful warm toned brown, 'Dubai' which is a cool toned brown, and I still love 'Copenhagen' I got a while back with is a deep, dark berry tone.

Loreal telescopic mascara

I've been trying to find mascara's that match up to the Benefit rollerlash for a while now, and when it came time for me to buy a new one I remembered how much I loved the L'oreal telescopic back in the day. Its similar to the rollerlash in that it has a very thin, plastic brush that is slightly curved. This gives a lot of length, seperates lashes well and if you build it up gives decent volume too. I must say it doesn't hold a curl as well as the rollerlash, so if you have stubborn, straight lashes like me and you're looking for a big flutter of a curl, this is not the one.

Loreal Super liner perfect slim

Its hard to make me stray from my favourite Kat Von D tattoo liner, but this is definitely up there with the best of them. The felt tip is super sharp and thin so you can achieve a very precise flick and the thicker base of the felt tip means you can build up the cat eye quickly and easily. The formula is good, it doesn't smudge, but it isn't waterproof. Its very dark but its not carbon black, works well over eyeshadow and you can layer it without product build up.

The Body Shop vitamin E aqua boost sorbet

I wasn't massively impressed with this moisturiser, that's not to say its bad, just not enough moisture for my skin. Its a 'sorbet' which essentially means its a light-weight gel texture. This smells lovely and sinks in fast making it ideal for summer mornings, however I think this would be suited much better to people with very oily skins.

L'occitane Vanille and narcisse eau de toilette

I really didn't need any more purfume's, but I walked into L'occitane one day, smelt this, and knew I had to have it in my life. It has an intoxicating madagascan vanilla base and a subtle blend of spices that results in a beautiful scent. The bottle is also very understated but chic, On days when I'm not wearing this scent, I sometimes pick the bottle up just to smell it. Addictive stuff.

Maybelline nail polish in City Smoke

I actually tried this when I was staying over my friends house and needed to borrow a nail polish. Its not something I would usually be drawn to but I got so many compliments that day on the colour that I went into Boots and picked up one for myself. City Smoke is a muted, duck egg kind of blue, it looks amazing on all skin tones, and the formula of these colour show polishes are also pretty decent in longevity, 4 days without chipping.

Maybelline Falsies Volume Express mascara

I hated this mascara, now keep in mind that mascara is a very personal thing, we all have different lashes and different things we want from a mascara. I have a lot of lashes, but they are short, very straight, stubborn lashes that almost refuse to curl, so I'm looking for massive lift and separation. Its not a plastic brush (which I prefer) and is 'spoon shaped' not curved so much as slightly not straight? this did nothing for my lashes, it didn't lift, it didn't hold a curl, or separate, it gave good volume but that just wasn't enough for me.

B Nourished advanced serum

I've been testing this product for months now, and can say with confidence that it really delivers on its promises. This plumps up the skin and reduces fine lines (also wrinkles apparently but I don't have any of those yet to test this on) I have deep laughter lines around my mouth and this has definitely smoothed them out. Its high in good oils like Linseed, cotton, and contains Hylauronic acid for long lasting hydration. It has a silicone slip to it but I don't mind this, as it sinks in pretty quickly. I'm hesitant to recommend this product because it has 'Alcohol Denat' (De-natured Alcohol) high up on the ingredients list. Alcohol in beauty products gives long term dryness and causes irritation to the skin. Brands mostly add alcohol to their products so that they sink in faster and the texture is more lightweight. I'm enjoying this serum and it does what it says it should do, but I won't be re-purchasing.

Snow Fairy shower gel

I'm teasing you with this one, because Snow Fairy is only available at Christmas time (From September to December). I try to get my hands on one every Winter but its usually sold out before I can get in store. I was lucky enough to get one this year for Christmas. It smells of cotton candy, its a very sweet fragrance but not overpoweringly so. If you want something similar, The Comforter shower cream is just as lovely, with a more fruity scent to it.

Good Things Manuka honey exfoliating body scrub

This is a great body scrub for the price point. It as Shea butter, glycerine and royal jelly to soften, walnut shell powder and pumice for gentle yet effective exfoliation, I like that the gel is thick, so it really grips to the skin, and doesn't just slide off your legs in the shower like a lot of other body scrubs do. and it smells good too.

Lumi Drops by GOSH

I've mentioned this before I think, but I'm still in love with this liquid highlighter. added to the high points of the face, it gives a very subtle glow, but mixed in with foundation (my favourite method) it adds a natural radiance to the skin that make's you look lit from within. A star product.

Revolution Vivid baked highlighter in 'Pink Lights'

Although its name begs to differ, this is definitely a lilac toned highlight, I saw it on my friend and I just had to have it. Its very similar in texture and finish to the MUA undress your skin highlights. They are not kidding when they say vivid... this gives the most intense shine to the skin, its packed with iridescent shimmer for serious glow, no chunks of glitter here. This would suit all skin tone except the very dark. You can also really pack this on for an out of this world, TOWIE style highlight, great for nights out. A lilac highlighter is so unique (although there's a beautiful one by Sleek as well). Highlighter is still enjoying its moment in the spotlight as a hero product, and there are more and more affordable highlighter releases to be seen, this is something truly special.

NUXE Reve Del Miel lipbalm

I got this recently because the beauty community have been obsessed with it for years now, and although its ridiculously expensive for a lip balm (£9.50) it is a very good formula. Its a very thick textured cream that smells faintly of honey, it adheres to the lips and stays on for hours and hours, even though eating and drinking, and sinks into the lips over time. I put on a thick layer and night and wake up with the softest lips ever. This is definitely a luxury product and not something you need, there are amazing lip balms on the high street like the Blistex relief cream, but this feels like a treat to use.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Weekly Inspirations

StyleLikeYou on Youtube

This is an incredible series I discovered on Youtube, the premise is they get someone to sit in front of a camera and with some very simple yet powerful questions, they slowly spill out their soul. It reminds me of why I love reading so much, because you get to see a little part of someone else's inner life. Its seriously addictive stuff, I've made my way through every single one of these videos (it took me weeks) they can't produce these videos fast enough for me.


A thought provoking speech on the lifelong issues that come with procrastination.


The Hateful Eight

This was a film I'd been meaning to see for what feels like forever, I finally saw it and of course I loved it. Tarantino can do no wrong, the film was full of suspect characters, greediness, violence and a million different sub-plots. I wish there were a few more locations in the film, its primarily shot in a carriage going through a blizzard and a cafe in the middle of nowhere. Although this was probably done intentionally to make the main focus be about the individual characters.


This came out last year, its about two women who fall in love in the 1950's, Its very sad and realistic, but I like that, even though I wanted things to work out for them it shows the backwards reality that they lived in at the time.

The Hunger Games Mockingjay part 2

This couldn't have concluded in a more epic and satisfying way. The action was immense, there's a semi-twist towards the end that really shows how far katnis is willing to go to protect the people. A brilliant end to an amazing series.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Writing a novel

When I'm writing or editing, the two things I find myself staring at around the room most are my cat, and the window, for some reason both are endless sources of inspiration for me.

Writing a novel is a tricky business, it takes time a lot of time, hard work and dedication. It can be stressful when you have this perfect idea painted in your head but cannot translate it into words. You have to really want to write a novel, because it is one of the most time consuming, mentally straining things you can inflict upon yourself.

So why would you want to write one you might ask? I've almost finished the last (seriously the last) edit of my novel, and I feel very proud of it, its a strange but amazing feeling. I believe everyone has a book in them, and if you want to write one, you can - and should.

1) Characters

The first thing you should start thinking about before putting pen to paper is your characters, the more you think about them and what they are like, the more you will get to know them and be able to flesh them out as believable people. Keep a log for each character and try to do one at a time, what is their favourite cocktail? what political party would they belong to? are they lazy/frustrated/miserable/happy go lucky/artsy/serious. Note it all down, When you feel like you know that character inside and out, move on to the next.

2) Read 

Read a lot. The biggest teacher of writing are books so you need to read as much as possible. Read everything, magazines, trashy books, fantasy, science fiction, murder mysteries, etc etc. You learn as much from reading bad writing as you do from reading good.

3) Plot plot plot

A novel is nothing without a plot. Plan exactly what is going to happen to your characters. Some people like to write and just 'see what happens' but that is exactly what I did, and I wouldn't recommend it. This technique will give you infuriating writers block on a weekly basis. If you don't plot, you will get stuck later on. Plotting makes the writing easier because you know where you're going with it.

4) Write everyday

This is difficult to do, everyone's busy and writing takes up a lot of time, but just like you have to make time to read, you also have to make time to write. You could spend that hour train journey on the way to work writing, you can write at the hairdressers, at the gym, on the toilet (you get the idea) Write when you're tired/hungover/bored/happy/sad. You have to treat it like a job, even if you wrote a chapter a month, that could be a novel in a year.

5) Get off the internet

You will get distracted, we live in a society that has a thousands different useless things trying to grab your attention at once. You need to focus, disconnect the wifi if you have to, turn your phone off, and write. I literally have a sign which hangs on the wall that reads 'For fucks sake Amanda get off the internet and write' it works.

6) Dialogue

This is something many writers struggle with, because there are so many different ways of speaking, so how will your characters speak? When I first started writing dialogue my characters sounded stiff, false, and not at all believable. I realized I wasn't thinking about my characters and how they would actually speak, in relation to their personalities. The things that affect your speech most I think are personality, friends/family, and your environment. Read your characters dialogue out loud, does it sound right?

7) Edit like a butcher

This is one of the most brutal parts of being a writer, "Kill your darlings" is an apt phrase for this point. No one wants to cut out a sentence (or sometimes a whole chapter) that they worked really hard on, you poured your heart and soul into it, you are emotionally attached to it, but you can't be. You have to be ruthless enough to cut out anything that doesn't work for the story. I've cut sentences, paragraphs, characters, plot lines and a lot of dialogue, because it hasn't worked, it kills me to do it but I know it must be done to make the story as good as it can be. I have been through 4 serious edits, how many you do depends on how lazy you are the first time you edit. Get someone to proof read it when you think you've finished.

8) Don't give up

Or if you do, don't give up forever. I shelved my book for many years and even when I picked it up again I would go through periods of getting pissed off at myself for not being able to explain random plot points, or not knowing how to end a chapter, and drop it again. Other things that put me off were the difficulty of editing. Write when its hard, write when its easy, and always stop when you feel you could keep going, it will make it easier the next time you sit down to write again.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Afternoon Tea at Patisserie Valerie

There's something unashamedly indulgent about afternoon tea. You lounge around with endless cups of tea (or for me, coffee) and eat cute miniature cakes and finger sandwiches until you're too stuffed to move. Its one of my favourite things to do ever because it merges two of the best past times, eating and socialising.

I went with my little sisters while they are back home from uni. We eat our weight in adorable treats and buzzing from the sugar and caffeine, caught up on all the things we had missed in each others lives.

We ordered a cappuccino, a Mocha and a pot of green tea (very good green tea says my little sister, and she is the green tea expert).

When the clotted cream arrived I got very excited. There are few things I love more in life than a scone smothered in clotted cream and jam.

The cakes are all miniatures of existing cakes in their collection. I particularly loved the chocolate sponge, two thin layers of sponge anchoring a thick wedge of creamy, chocolate ganache. The purple thing was something like solidified blackberry yoghurt? not my favourite. The Victoria sponge was very nice but we thought the jam inside was a little overly sweet.

The smoked salmon sandwiches were amazing, good quality salmon and not too much cream cheese. The one I really loved though was the chicken and roasted red pepper, tender chicken and a little hint of spice to it.

These mini quiches were amazing, I wish they were bigger/there were more of them, I tried to do the sisterly thing and not eat them all (secretly eat them all)

The most important part - at least in my opinion - the scones. They were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, you get a selection of plain and raisin, I loved them both.

The carrot cake was lovely but I had to pick the walnuts out (I hate walnuts) and it could have had more frosting, otherwise it was good, just the right level of spices.

The afternoon tea is £25 for two or £12.50 per person. You also have the option of adding Prosecco for £5 extra. We paid for 3 people but this was a lot of food and we ended up having to take a third of it home. They give you unlimited tea/coffee, so take them up on that perk and get plenty of re-fills. The staff in the Kingston branch were all very lovely and accommodating. Go hungry! it may not look filling because everything is miniature, but trust me, it is. In the branch we went to there was also a spacious outside area so you can sit in the sunshine, weather permitting.