Friday, 30 August 2013

Singapore Part One: Rooftop Bars and Racing Cars

This month, I was given the most amazing opportunity to visit Singapore. We flew out to visit my dad's best friend, who lives and works in the country, and to be honest, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I have travelled Europe and visited America countless times, but I had yet to fly east to drink in the sights of Asia. I researched the country beforehand, trying to get a handle on the culture, the climate and the do's and don'ts of the island, but let me tell you, nothing could have prepared me for the wonderful city that greeted me. I was blown away by how fantastic Singapore was, so clean and well organised, brimming with decadent shops and opulent night life, as well as the kindness of the people that reside there. It is such a cosmopolitan city, and despite the bustling hawker stalls, and the streets teeming with city dwellers and tourists alike, never have I visited a city in which I felt more safe. Having been back on the British soil for less than a week, I am already considering looking for work out there, as it is hands down, one of the most fantastic places I have ever had the privilege of visiting. And after all of it, I couldn't wait to share my adventures with you!

First up, let me warn you that this might well be the world's longest blog post. Although I was only there for little over two weeks, we crammed an awful lot in, and although I have enough material to do a post per day, I don't really want to do it that way. Instead, I want to group into two posts covering the two weeks I was there, so sorry if it's a bit much, but I like it that way.

We flew out on the 9th August and arrived at around 5pm. Fresh of the plane, we navigated our way to our host's penthouse (I know!!), dumped our luggage, and hopped on over to Clarke Quay to experience some of the night life. We went for a leisurely dinner and lingered afterwards, waiting for the night to pick up, which it didn't take long to do. There's clearly a work hard, play hard kind of ethos going on here. We left rather early, as we were all still on English time, and struggling at this point, but according to our rather lively taxi driver, the night had yet to begin for him and the Saturday night party goers. He informed us that in Singapore, the clubs don't shut until 6am, meaning that people often don't head out until around 3! Now, I'd only been there for a few hours, but I already knew that I would fall in love with the Singaporean lifestyle.
One of the amazing views from the Flyer
Family pic! Dad blinked =(
View of the Formula 1 starting line from above.
The next day, despite our long flight and late night, we were up, bright eyed and bushy tailed, for our first venture into daytime Singapore. We first visited the Singapore Flyer, and it was lovely to be able to see the whole city and its impressive skylines from so high up. It was nice to get an overview of the city before venturing out to take in all the details. It was really just a better version of the London Eye to be honest. In fact I came to learn that most of Singapore is like an improved version of London. Having only been a city for 48 years, I think they must have just picked up the things that were working to a degree in other places, and ironed out all the kinks. It was all just so brilliantly organised. We also took a stroll down the Singapore Grand Prix track. I'll be honest, I wasn't all that excited, but my Dad and brother were like kids in a sweet shop. Each to their own I guess.
The fantastic Lantern Bar with a view of Marina Bay Sands behind me!
Of course, no trip to Singapore would be complete without a visit to the infamous Raffles Hotel, so in the evening, we head on over for the island's trademark Singapore Sling. Although it's 1930s-esque decor and delicious drinks were marvellous, I couldn't quite get past the mess! It's the norm there to snack on monkey nuts, and just discard the shells wherever you fancy, primarily the floor. It's just a sea of nutty debris - very distracting to a clean freak like me. So after we'd had our cocktails, we headed off to the less touristy, nut-free Lantern Bar atop the Fullerton Bay Hotel. Now, this was my favourite spot in the country. So elegant and sophisticated, much like the rest of Singapore, it housed the perfect atmosphere and breathtaking views of the bay. Touristy excursions aside, if you ever visit Singapore, make a point of going here. And while your at it, order a mojito. I've had a fair few of the minty beverages in my time, but none hold a candle to the one served here. Delicious.
Glow in the dark scorpions!! Avatar is real!
Me and my brother wearing fun gift shop hats!
After a jam packed Sunday, and some lingering jet lag, we decided to spend Monday by the pool, relaxing and recuperating, ready for the night ahead. Much to my delight, the apartment was conveniently located on Singapore's famous shopping street: Orchard Road. Whilst everyone else was having their lazy day, I stole the opportunity to sneak in an uninterrupted, blissful day of shopping. Oh, it was grand! I also discovered a Sephora and might have literally jumped for joy. I don't remember, it's all a wonderful blur of retail goodness. More on that later. In the evening, we mosied on over to the Night Safari. It was absolutely amazing to see so many beautiful nocturnal animals, and the nights are so warm there that it really was an extremely pleasant evening. Understandably, flash photography wasn't allowed, but sadly my camera is very poor at taking night time pictures without one. Such a shame as the safari was filled with so many beautiful creatures!
Not a great picture, but I really liked the lanterns!
On Tuesday, we spent the day ambling around the city, and made our way over to Chinatown in the late afternoon. We visited the most beautiful, vibrant and colourful Hindu Temple, at which we witnessed some kind of ritual, with a lot of people surrounding a man who was dancing with some type of vase on his head. I had no idea what was going on, but it was so mesmerising. If anyone know's what this was called, or what it symbolises, please do let me know, because it was absolutely beautiful and my 'Hindu vase dancing' google searches have so far been fruitless. I didn't take pictures, as I wasn't entirely sure whether it would be considered disrespectful, and I thought it best not to risk it. Afterwards, we went to get Chinese food (when in Rome) at a hawker stall, which I really enjoyed. The food was so cheap, something I wasn't expecting considering the decadence we had so far encountered. Alcohol is pricey though, which my liver probably considered a good thing. Even so, we had a couple of drinks and watched the people around us. When the sun set, the streets came to life, with market stalls flogging their wares to locals and tourists alike. It really was wonderful, and safe to say, my purse was rather a lot lighter upon leaving.
Wednesday night was particularly exciting as we went to see Stereophonics, who performed at Fort Canning Park. Now, I can't remember the last time I went to a concert that wasn't crammed with freshers, vomiting all over the place and forming dreaded mosh pits, like black holes growing larger and larger, sucking unsuspecting music lovers into the unknown, spitting them out dazed and concussed. Fun at the time, but I feel I've matured somewhat. This was a relatively small, but fantastically atmospheric gig which I absolutely loved. I actually didn't consider myself a fan until they started playing. I had no idea how many of their songs I actually knew. Needless to say, I was singing along, dancing the night away and having the time of my life. It was such a nice change from the English weather as well, to be outside at midnight and still be warm. Odd, but brilliant. 
This reminded me of the Hunger Games, so I had to pop it in.
My dodgy attempt at a panoramic photo. Safe to safe, photography is not my forte.
On Thursday, we ticked another box on the tourist to do list and visited the Botanic Gardens. I must say, it's very strange to find yourself in such a huge tropical oasis, when you know that you're smack bang in the middle of a city. The garden was stunning, and had lots of interesting sectors to it. My favourites were the Orchid Garden, orchids being the national flower of Singapore as well as my personal favourite bloom, and the Swan Lake, filled with an abundance of huge fish and darling little turtles. That evening, we head off to dinner at Ku De Ta, a restaurant at the very top of a building that is arguably Singapore's crown jewel: the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The view was spectacular, as was the food, a beautiful place to drink in both the wine and the scenery.
The pool bar.
Ready to go on our ATVs
That'll do me nicely, thanks
The boys on their jetskis
The weekend held a positively magical adventure - we went on a mini break. Yep. A mini break, whilst we were on holiday. Very extravagant. We travelled over to a place called Bintan in Indonesia. Although only a half an hour ferry ride, Bintan seemed worlds away from Singapore. A veritable island paradise, with white sands, dazzling seas, and all the rest, it was the perfect weekend. We spent both the evenings at the hotel's beach party, where I had the pleasure of meeting the owner of the resort, who was rather generous with the drinks, I must say, as well as finding some great friends in the hotel's event staff. Both the highlight and the worst part of the break was a knuckle biting ATV ride, which left me eaten alive by mosquitoes, and with a few too many grazes on my legs from a lot of rogue shrubbery. But it was all worth it, as we were taken to a secluded and untouched lagoon by the locals as a result, more than worth the week of angry itchy marks that erupted all over my legs. The only one of us with a camera at the time took a picture, and I haven't been able to get hold of it yet, but I'll add it when I've got it. It was absolutely mesmerising.

So, on Sunday morning we headed back to Singapore to commence our second weeks adventures. But more on that later.

Have you ever visited Singapore? Were you as enamoured with it as I am? Better yet, is anyone reading this from Singapore? Let me know!


Sunday, 25 August 2013

Book of the Week: Quiet

"Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pyjamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. The listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions."

As an introvert myself, I find it to be a fascinating subject, and so a book which sings their praises is something that I welcome with open arms. Quiet by Susan Cain is just that, an inside look at the psychology behind introverts and the qualities that make them wonderful. 

Now, I feel that I should define what an introvert is, for those of you that think that they are social recluses who hate everyone, a common misconception actually. An introvert is someone who uses energy to interact with other people, and then needs alone time to recharge, as opposed to an extrovert, who draws energy from socialising. That doesn't mean that we don't love being sociable, because I definitely do. I just find it a lot more tiring than an extrovert would. Also, I think that the most common misconception is that all introverts are shy. This is not at all the case. Shyness and introversion are not the same thing, although most would think so. As well as the introvert/extrovert spectrum, there are also the categories of anxious and calm. An anxious introvert would most likely be shy, but it is also possible to be an anxious extrovert (I can't think of anything more frustrating than wanting to socialise but being too shy to do so). I fall into the category of calm introvert. I'm in my element when working alone, I love to write more than I love to talk, and I don't like huge groups of people, but I feel relatively at ease talking to new people, I can discuss soemthing that I'm passionate about for hours, and I don't panic at the thought of interaction.

On to the book. One of first things that struck me is the amount of influential people who are introverts. I have always been aware that my idol, J. K Rowling is introverted, and quite proud of it, one of the many reasons I love her. But I didn't know that important figures like Rosa Parks, Sir Isaac Newton, Steven Spielberg, and even Dr. Seuss are also introverts! Another point that I found really interesting is that the most successful pairings are those of introvert and extrovert - Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. or Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, to name a few. Together they cover all bases, making them a force to be reckoned with, and this I find inspiring.

I also love how this book tells you the merits of an introvert. The society that we live in seems to think that being an extrovert is ideal, and the only way to get ahead, but this book flips that on it's head and discusses the qualities that an introvert possesses that make them just as valuable, if not more so in certain situations. An introvert, for example, can concentrate for an awful lot longer than an extrovert, and they do not make rash decisions, but focus on long term consequences. In some lines of work, like the stock market, the ability to think on your feet and make quick fire decisions is an important one, suited to extroverts, but in other fields, the qualities of an introvert are much more fitted. This book has been a godsend for me lately, as I have been job hunting, and it's really taught me about qualities I have that I didn't even realise were assets!

The book is filled with random titbits of information. I found myself audibly saying 'well I never..' on a couple of occasions. It's always nice to learn something new! For example, did you know that the human race are programmed to fear public speaking. When we were cavemen, if that many eyes were on you, they were usually the eyes of predators about to attack, so we either had to run for our lives (something I often feel like doing before a big presentation. I don't though.) or stand and fight. So, by nature we have to suppress the 'fight or flight' instinct that would have served us back then, meaning that we are actually hard-wired to hate it. Interesting, no? 

The book peters out a bit towards the end, with a whopping great chapter on how to deal with introverted kids. Now, I'm not a huge fan of children, so I couldn't really have cared less about this chapter, but up to that point, the whole book is fascinating. Totally worth picking up if you're interested in introverts. If you are an introvert, it will give you a lovely ego boost - you're brilliant, and you should know it, and if you're not an introvert, then I promise it'll change the way you think about them.

Have you read this book? Do you find the subject interesting? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Let me know!


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Mermaid Nails: Max Factor Max Colour Effects Mini Nail Polish

Tried to use the flash to see if you could see the (sea) green better. It hasn't worked, and the paint job looks worse for it. Never mind!
I love mermaids. Ariel, despite her frustratingly anti feminist tendencies, has always been my favourite Disney character. I love her red hair, and all of the glorious greeny blues and ocean hues of The Little Mermaid. As a child, I took my love for her quite literally and could often be found flapping around in swimming pools, with all the grace of a flailing salmon on a fishing deck, imagining my life as King Triton's youngest daughter. Throughout the years, I've managed to tone it down a little, but I do have red hair, and I still swoon over sea green clothes and turquoise jewellery. So when I saw my friend wearing this gorgeous sea green holographic nail varnish, I knew I had to have it. She told me that it was the Max Factor Max Colour Effects Mini Nail Polish in Dazzling Blue (she actually just said 'it's a Max Factor one' - I've embellished) and true to my crazed inner mermaid fanatic, I made a beeline for it as soon as I entered Boots the next day. A few weeks have passed since then, and I thought I'd write a review of this beautiful colour, now that I've gotten to know it a little better.

First of all, the colour! It's a holographic polish that claims to be blue, but there's definitely a lot of green in it too, and in certain lights, it has a muted gold hue. It's simply stunning, and very difficult to capture on camera I might add. You can only really see the blue in the pictures, which is a real shame. It's quite opaque too, one coat being satisfactory, but two coats giving it a wonderful shot of vibrancy. I've seen a couple of reviews claiming disappointment at the bad coverage and streaky finish of these polishes, but either they got one of the other, clearly more wishy washy colours, or they're wrong. Either way, I have no complaints about mine.

One niggle I do have is that it doesn't have very good lasting power, and it chips like a mofo. Granted, I do work in quite a hands on environment, so I'm forever chipping nails. Even the most hardy of varnishes look forlorn at the end of my shift, so maybe this would fare a little better in a less labour intensive workplace. But hey, you can't have it all, and I love the colour so much that I'm willing to overlook it.

Also, it'd be nice if Max Factor did these in bigger bottles. As the name suggests, these polishes are sold in teeny bottles and, although they're lovely for trying out new colours, I've tried it now, and I know I like it! I want more! 

Lastly, as a little side note, I have had my eye on Fishwife from Butter London for a while now, but alas, it isn't available in the UK. I think that this polish, although not really very similar, has the same kind of vibe to it, making it a fantastic alternative at a fraction of the price.They retail for £3.99 in Boots, the price reflecting the size, with a whopping 36 shades to choose from, if you're not a fan of this beauty (although if you aren't, what?!), you're bound to find something to suit your taste.

Do you have any lovely green polishes? Have you sampled the Max Factor Mini range? What did you think? Let me know!


Sunday, 18 August 2013

Book of the Week: Clockwork Angel

"One must always be careful of books," said Tessa, "and what is inside them for words have the power to change us."

The Mortal Instruments series, written by Cassandra Clare, has had very mixed reviews, but I, for one, loved it. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out that there was a prequel to my beloved collection! Now that I have devoured the first two published books and eagerly await the chance to read the third, here is some insight into Clockwork Angel, the first in The Infernal Devices series.

The books centre on Tessa, a shapeshifter who is uprooted from her New York home and sent to live in London, where she falls into the clutches of the evil Dark Sisters. There, she is rescued by a band of Shadowhunters (exciting! If you haven't read The Mortal Instruments, Shadowhunters are descendants of a fallen angel, and they are kind of like a big group of Buffys, sent to protect the world from demons and such), and thus her adventure begins. Turns out their enemies are building a clockwork army, who are murdering innocent people (not cool), and they must be stopped at all costs. It's gripping stuff, let me tell you.

The first thing that grabbed my attention was the fact that this series is set in Victorian England, as opposed to modern day New York. I love that! I love all the fashion and the language - men 'courting' women, horse and carts galore, and the outdated sense of what's proper. For example, Tessa thinks it odd that Shadowhunter women fight and wear trousers. Women in trousers!? Whatever next, eh? I always imagine the Dickensian streets and half expect the Artful Dodger to pop out and give us a tune whilst I'm reading, and I think it's brilliant. 

Another thing worth reading for is the abundance of references to The Mortal Instruments series. 'Well of course', I hear you cry, 'it's the prequel', but being the history junkie that I am, I love all of the intricate back stories, and the detailed family histories. I love all of the references to things that they don't know are going to happen yet. For example, in these books, Magnus Bane and Camille are still in the throes of their tumultuous relationship. For those of you that have read The Mortal Instruments, you'll know that this is a more than distant memory, so I really enjoy reading about it all in so much more detail. Might be a bit odd that I like that kind of thing so much, but I do, so there you go. If you do too, this is certainly a book for you. Also, backtracking a little, Magnus Bane is in it! The warlock was one of my favourite characters in City of Bones (along with Simon, bless him), so it's really lovely to get another dose of warlocky goodness. He is just pipped to the post for the position of favourite character in this series by William Herondale, who provides many a pithy line, and had me giggling throughout. It's worth reading just for his character, in my opinion.

Falling comfortably into the category of Young Adult fiction, these books are my guilty pleasure. I should have grown out of them by now, but I love them all the same. Controversially, the mixture of Victorian courtesies, Mortal Instruments references and the veritable feast of magic and mayhem put this ahead of the original series, in my eyes! Bit far, you might think, but if you liked City of Bones and the rest, this series is definitely worth a look.

Have you read this series, or The Mortal Instruments series? Looking forward to the movie? What are your favourite prequels? Let me know!


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Plane Beautiful: My In-Flight Skin Care Routine

It's that time of year again, when the week of British summer has made it's appearance, leaving as swiftly as it came. And if the sun is allowed to go on holiday, then so am I! That's right. I'm jetting off on a little adventure! Yippee!! And with a beast of a 13 hour plane journey looming, I thought I'd take the opportunity to talk you through my in-flight beauty regime. I love to pamper myself on a long journey, where I have nothing but time to kill. It may seem like a lot, but why not, I say? So here you are, my favourite products (all under 100ml, of course!) to treat myself with on that mammoth journey.

First of all, I don't like to wear a lot of make up to the airport. Beginning your journey bare faced makes it a lot easier to try everything out at duty free. Just kidding. But not really. Aside from that, I'm not a fan of how dry and dehydrated an aeroplane cabin can leave your skin feeling, and it's only magnified when you're all dolled up. You might look really glamorous, but your skin will hate you for it tomorrow! That being said, I hate being facially naked, so a light dusting of powder and a lick of mascara usually find their way onto my face.

I also wear light flowy clothing and layer it up. Not exactly skin care related, but circulation is paramount and also has an effect on your complexion. All hail the maxi skirt. Holiday appropriate attire, flowy flight piece and blanket, all in one.
Once on the plane, I make myself comfortable, much to my neighbours' annoyance, by spreading myself out as far as is socially acceptable (sometimes further, depends how rebellious I'm feeling that day) and unloading my various skincare bumph. First comes the preflight cleanse. I like to use Bioderma Sensibio H2O, as I find it quite gentle yet very effective, and it comes in the dinky 100ml bottle, perfect for travelling. I do this twice, just to make sure I've got every speck of product off. Also to kill some more time. I've used Bioderma a lot before, so I know my skin gets on with it. On flights, I'd definitely stick to what you know. An environment with amped up, dehydrating air is not the time to be testing out new products. You don't want to spend your holiday looking diseased because you couldn't wait to try out that new cleanser you got at duty free, which it turns out you're allergic to.
Moisture is key when flying, especially for the more thirsty-skinned among us, so my next step is to put on something intensely moisturising. I like to use a hydrating mask, but if you're slightly conscious of the odd stares, a thick moisturiser will do. The Origins Drink Up Intensive Mask is great because it's clear, (score!) there's no need to take it off in the 'morning', and it smells of mangoes. Yum! An overnight mask, it's perfect for long haul flights, even if you're not sleeping. I also slather on some eye cream just for good measure. I find Clinique's All About Eyes Rich to be really lovely and a moisturised eye is a less wrinkled eye, after all.
There are a few other things I like to have with me. These include a hand cream, my hands tend to feel the change in air pressure a lot more than the rest of me. I'm not sure why that is, but it's nice to have something to keep them nourished. I like the Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream because it's super concentrated, and you can get it in a tiny little travel sized tube, so you can easily slot it in with your abundance of face products. I also like to take something multi purpose, like Vaseline, so that you have one small thing to use on your lips, cuticles, and anywhere else you might want to put it. Finally, a facial mist or something similar, just to keep you feeling fresh. This year, I'll be packing my Anatomicals Spray Misty For Me Facial Spritz, which I very handily received in my July Glossybox.

All the while, I make sure that I'm keeping my skin hydrated from the inside as well as the outside, by drinking lots and lots of water. This comes with the added bonus of having to get up to pee every 10 minutes. Bit of a weird bonus, I know, but if I'm watching a movie or engrossed in a book, I often forget to get up and move about, something very important in preventing blood clots and DVT. If you're dying for the loo, however, you can't forget, et voila, added bonus.
When nearing the end of the flight, I just go through my usual skin care routine. I cleanse again, following with toner, for which I use the Michael Todd Blue Green Algae Antibacterial Toner, as I find it to be quite moisturising. Sensing a theme here? Last but not least, I put on some moisturiser. I really like to use the Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Sun Defence For Face, as it has a high SPF in it, so I leave the plane feeling fresh faced and ready to greet the holiday sun.

And there you have it. It might seem like a lot, both in terms of effort and the cumbersome addition to your hand luggage, but you aren't going to be doing much else during a long haul flight. You may as well fill your time with something beneficial, eh? Every time I travel, whoever I'm with makes fun of the ridiculous amount of products I have packed, but without fail, they will swallow their words and ask to borrow something. Yep, I'm that person. But I wouldn't travel any other way.

Are you going on any exciting holidays? Do you love any of these products? What do you like to do to keep your skin in ship shape whilst you travel? Let me know!


P.S. I've been super organised and written a load of posts which I have scheduled to post themselves over the next couple of weeks. They might work. They might not. We shall see.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Book of the Week: He's Just Not That Into You

"Don't be flattered that he misses you. He should miss you. You are deeply missable. However, he's still the same person who just broke up with you. Remember, the only reason he can miss you is because he's choosing, every day, not to be with you."

This week, I thought I'd review a book that I actually got this free in an edition of Glamour a few years ago, but have read numerous times since. I recently picked it up again for a quick peruse, and remembered how much I liked it, so here it is: He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo.

This was one of those rare occasions where I saw the movie before I considered reading the book. In fact, I probably wouldn't have read it at all if it wasn't a freebie, but it was sitting on my bedside table and I just threw caution to the wind and got stuck in. It's a very small, chatty book - I read it cover to cover in a couple of hours, and it's more a self help volume that the stories from the film are loosely based on, so don't worry if you've seen the film. It won't take anything away from the book.

Apart from the fact that it's such a quick read, the reason I have picked it up so many times is because it's just so liberating! The gist of the book is that if a man is interested, you won't have to make excuses for him. We're all guilty of it, chatting with our girlfriends about the fact that he's had to cancel your date because he has way too much work to catch up on, or that he's not calling because he wants to play hard to get. Nope, none of that, he's just not that into you. And although it's harsh, once you think about it that way, you waste a lot less time sitting by the phone, and a lot less energy worrying about why he hasn't called you back, and spend more time enjoying yourself with your friends and family and, more to the point, with guys that are into you. Now that's the dream, people. It's so refreshing to think of it from this perspective, and every now and then, when I need to remind myself that he might not like me, but that's alright, because I'm brilliant and someone better will come along, I read this book.

The tome is made up of chapters, all titled 'he's just not that into you if he's not calling you' and the like. Each chapter is then set up in the style of some kind of brutal agony aunt column, with a collection of letters from women with various excuses as to why their men are acting the way they are, each followed by Greg's replies, which all boil down to the fact that the guy is just not that into you. The set up of the book makes it very easy to flick through, and, because there's no storyline, you can just open anywhere and read a page or two. Now, we all know I'm rather partial to a good letter, so this book suits me down to a tee.

As well as this, my favourite fact about the book is that it's actually based on a Sex and the City episode - you know the one where Miranda adopts this as her mantra and feels all the better for it. I'm a huge fan of SATC (I consider myself a Miranda/Carrie hybrid, if you're interested) and you can absolutely tell that it has the same writers. It has all the same witty humour, and the blunt yet optimistic insights into the world of dating, so if you love the TV series, then I guarantee you will love this book.

So there you go. Chuck out your dating guides and get stuck into this baby because, unlike most men, it won't disappoint. I love to read it every now and then to remind myself not to take dating too seriously. Not everyone's going to love you, and you'll probably have to date a few too many toads in your life before you find your prince, but that's OK. Life would be so dull otherwise. And there's always the possibility that you're the exception, not the rule...

Have you read this? Seen the movie? Do you find it refreshing or depressing? Let me know!


Thursday, 8 August 2013

Peaches and Cream: My Favourite Blushes

My complexion is often described as 'Peaches and Cream' and funnily enough, that's exactly what I want from my blush. Controversially, I have never enjoyed powder blushes, instead always opting for the creamier textures. As someone who suffers from dry skin, I prefer a dewy finish, not the cakiness that a powder gives me, and I also find creams a darn sight easier to blend. As well as this, I always go for the more peachy shades. I own a couple of pinky tones which I wear every now and then, but I have yellow undertones in my skin, meaning the warmth of a peach blush versus the cool bluey tone of a pink suits me a hell of a lot better. And although I own rather more blushes than I will ever need, I find myself constantly gravitating towards these two bad boys. So here is a bit of a run down on my two favourite blushes.
Looking very well loved - sorry about that.

My absolute favourite blush is Maybelline's Dream Touch Blush in 02 - Peach. Technically not a cream, but a mousse, I use this product every day. It's very light, with a very subtle colour pay off, so if you like a bit of intensity from your blush, this one is probably not for you. However, for those with a paler complexion like my own, I find it to be the most natural colour I've ever tried. It's the most wonderful light peach shade, with a slight shimmer to it, negating the need for highlighter (although I often wear it anyway, maverick that I am), perfect for creating a dewy, delicate flush. I apply it with fingers, and the texture combined with the pale colour put this right up there as the most blendable, easy to apply blush I have ever owned. My blush idol, nothing else I have tried has can even hold a candle to this peachy wonder.
Again, apologies for it's grubby state.
My camera has completely washed the colour out here! Wahh! But at least you can get an idea of the dewiness, and I promise, it doesn't look exactly the same as the other one!

If I'm going for a more blush oriented look, I always use the Revlon PhotoReady Cream Blush in 300 - Coral Reef. It looks a bit daunting in the pot - hello clown make up - but on the skin, it's a lot lighter, although still providing a generous and beautiful wash of colour. Clearly, it's more dramatic than my first choice blush, but I apply it in the same way, using my fingers to build the product to the coverage that I want. It blends like a dream and I find it to be a very buildable product, which you can wear beautifully sheer, or as a vibrant pop of coral on the cheeks. I love the finish of this one as well. There's no shimmer in it, but it still leaves me looking beautifully dewy, the perfect product for creating that healthy, flushed glow.

Do you own either of these products? What are your favourite blushes? Are you a powder or a cream kind of girl? Let me know!


Sunday, 4 August 2013

Book of the Week: Gone Girl

"There's something disturbing about recalling a warm memory and feeling utterly cold."

I would just like to start this post by saying that I'm going to have to have a little bit of a rethink with this book of the week malarky. When I started this blog, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to write about one of my favourite reads on a weekly basis. I have now realised, however, that once a week is actually quite frequent, and I'm already struggling. At the rate I'm going, I'll have got through them all in a month or two, and then what would I do?! So instead, I've decided to shake things up a little, reviewing recent reads, what I have liked and disliked in past months, and I'll throw in a few choice morsels every now and then to keep you on your toes. Sound good? Great. Off we go.

So now that I've harped on about it, the first of my recent reads isn't actually all that recent. Never mind, eh? It's Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and it's brilliant. It was all anyone could talk about at the beginning of the year (aside from Fifty Shades of Grey, but we'll forgive ourselves for that momentary lapse in judgement, shall we?) and for good reason. Flynn's third novel, and soon to be first movie - exciting - tells the story of Nick and his wife, Amy, who disappears suspiciously on the day of their fifth wedding anniversary. Dubbed 'thriller of the year' by The Observer, the novel is jam packed with twists, turns and edge of your seat moments. Although I had a couple of issues with the story, the good heftily outweighs the bad, making it one of the best thrillers I have ever read.  

Now, to begin with, I should warn you that this one's quite a slow starter, but don't let that deter you, it gets really good! The twists are so unexpected and the plot so intelligent that, trust me, you'll be glad you stuck with it. It's difficult to say too much about what I liked in particular without giving the game away, and although I'm sure most of you will have read it or heard about it, I'm still wary of spoiling it for someone. Let's just say that the structure of the novel gives it one hell of a twist, and lends itself immensely to the reading experience. I'll leave it there. If you've read it, you'll know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, where have you been?! Get reading, sunshine.

I also admire the way Flynn writes, and how she constructs her characters. Everything is very real with her novels. There's no air of glamour to any of it, and the characters are all very flawed, to the point where if I met them in real life, I'd think they were terrible people, but somehow Flynn manages to make sympathetic characters out of them. As for the story itself, it's all quite gritty - financial strains on a marriage, media manipulation, none of it is particularly romantic, and I think the story that she tells is perfectly suited to her writing style, which I love.  It can be quite melancholy at times, very dry and pithy at others, but overall, very gripping and engrossing. Every element of the story sucks you in, and you'll probably find yourself missing appointments, or reading until dawn and wandering bleary eyed and exhausted into work the next day. In fact, you might want to wait until you've got a sizeable chunk of free time before you pick this up.

One thing I didn't like about the book was the ending. I hated it. I don't know how everybody else felt about it, but no. It was all wrong. Obviously I'm not going to tell you what I didn't like about it, as I have a sneaky suspicion that that might fall into the category of spoilers, but if you have read it, send me a cheeky message, I'd love to know what you thought about it! 

Overall, a fantastic read, chock full of shocks and twists. I loved it, and it's not often I say that about a thriller, I can assure you. I'm more of a Hazza P kinda gal, but Gone Girl had me hooked. I've also read Flynn's two other novels, and I would recommend both, particularly Dark Places, which has a kind of Amityville Horror vibe to it. However, if I'm perfectly honest, neither are as good as this one. Read it. You'll love it.

Have you read Gone Girl? Are you a fan of Gillian Flynn? What is your favourite thriller? Let me know!


Saturday, 3 August 2013

Crazy for Crayons: The Ramblings of a Lip Pencil Addict

Chunky pencil style lip products have been all the rage since Clinique first patented the Chubby Stick, and I'll be the first to admit that I pretty much hurled myself onto that bandwagon. Ever a fan of the Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains, and with Clinique's Chubby Stick Intense being my go to lip product of the summer (review here), I decided it was high time I expanded my collection of lip crayons with a couple of the Bourjois Colour Boost Glossy Finish Lipsticks. Needless to say, I'm already obsessed, and so here I give you a round up of my new and established favourites, weighing up the pros and cons of both Bourjois and Revlon to see who comes out on top. Enjoy!

Well, nobody's getting any points for innovative packaging. 
First up, colours. I think Revlon win in this department, with a total of seven colours to choose from as opposed to Bourjois' measly four. I only own one, Rendezvous, a beautiful and wearable orange. Bourjois do cover all the bases though, with a light peachy pink, a fuchsia, a beautiful red and a true orange. Something for everyone, I think you'll agree. I went for the colours Peach on the Beach, a pale peachy pink and a lovely subtle everyday colour, and Red Sunrise, which is actually a great dupe for my Heftiest Hibiscus Chubby Stick if you're on the lookout, only ever so slightly more pink. Didn't really need one so similar, but it was a moment of weakness, and you know what, I'm not even sorry.

The colour pay off on the Bourjois products is wonderful, it's staying power a bit less so, but still pretty good! It claims to last 10 hours which, lets face it, is an outright lie (tut tut Bourjois) but I find that it comfortably lasts about 4 or 5, although losing a little of its vibrancy by that point. The pay off of the Revlon products is very much the same, but a lot more durable. So one point to Revlon there.

The Colour Boost texture is a lot more glossy and soft in comparison to the Revlon products, but I think if you're in the market for soft and glossy, Revlon have their lovely Lip Butters. I prefer the consistency of the Bourjois Colour Boosts as I suffer with very dry, rather flaky lips, so I always welcome a bit of moisture. I do think this is a factor in their staying power though, as the more waxy formula of the Just Bitten Stains has rather more stick to it, as I mentioned before (the word 'stain' in it's name should have probably given it away). I can eat, drink and dance the night away and these babies don't budge. Although the Bourjois ones last a fair amount of time, they transfer a lot more easily onto glasses and whatnot, and do benefit from a top up or two. However I think that, for not having lips that look like I'm starting to rot, it's a price I'm more than willing to pay. But if you struggle with staying power, I think Revlon would be more up your street.

Also, a massive plus for Bourjois is the fact that their products have SPF in them!! Hurrah!! Factor 15 isn't really the highest dosage, but if, like me, you already have dry lips, sun damage is only going to make them worse, so I'll take every bit of help I can get.

Lastly, the smell/taste. It shouldn't be an influencing factor, but some people are a stickler for a good scent, so I thought it worth a mention. The Revlon products have a menthol kind of taste and smell to them, which I love. The Bourjois ones are more fruity, which I also love. Clearly I'm easily pleased, but if you're quite particular about that kind of thing, then this might be quite handy to know.

Overall, I think the Bourjois products have come out on top! Sorry Revlon, I promise I don't think any less of you. The only point they falter on is staying power, and to be honest, the thing I love most about these types of products is their ease of application. If I'm really concerned about the product staying put, I'll go for a lipstick and put a lot more effort in. That being said, I love and would highly recommend both products to anyone thinking of purchasing a chubby crayon style lip product. Although, let's be realistic, if you're reading this, you probably already own one. Both are usually available from Boots for £7.99, but if you're quick, the Revlon Just Bittens are on sale for £5.99, and Bourjois products are 3 for 2, with a free pair of sunglasses thrown in, which are actually rather nice. Bargain and a half, or what?

What are your favourite lip crayons? Are you Team Bourjois or Team Revlon? Let me know!


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