Friday, 30 November 2012

Questionnaire about blogging

Hiya lovelies!

I saw a post over at Imperfectly Painted and Steph had asked and answered some questions about blogger identity. She does 'Talk it out Tuesday' each week to talk about subjects that matter to her and they're always thought-provoking for me. I thought it was an interesting debate and wanted to chip in. Here are her questions:

Who are you as a blogger? Hmm. I'm just a late thirties, glamour- and bargain-obsessed woman who likes to write about make up, life, my health and occasionally clothes. I'm just a normal woman in many respects - I have problem skin, I have wrinkles, I'm ageing, my monobrow is trying to take over the Universe, not just my face. Then there are bits that aren't so 'normal' - I'm fat and I'm disabled. So I'm Mrs Average with a side order of something a bit kooky and mangled! :)


I'm a blogger who blogs for my sanity. I've always had a need in me to write, ever since I could first grab a pen. If I wasn't writing here, I'd definitely be writing about something else, somewhere. The urge is too great not to. So I blog partly for my own good and partly to share with you. I hope that comes across. I LOVE hearing from my readers and always answer back. If I haven't answered a comment, my email notification has failed! Every comment I *know* I've had, I reply to.

What are your goals for your blog? A small, but loyal readership. I think if I had huge numbers I'd feel worried by the responsibility of it, probably down to my anxiety. I like knowing exactly who everyone is when they comment on my blog. You're like the friends who live in my pc! :) Other than that, I'm pretty much a 'take it as it comes' person so I just look forward to writing better, finding more content and interacting with everyone as much as possible. I haven't got a huge disposable income so there's not as much content as I'd like on the blog, but I do my best.

What type of relationship do you want with with your readers? A friendly one! I'm really bubbly and friendly in real life and I hope some of that comes across in my blog. I'm not here to preach or tell granny how to suck eggs, but if I've found something out that might be helpful to someone else, I'll share it gladly, even if it only reaches one person. If there's a delicious bargain to be had I'm keen to shout about it. Also, I sometimes write deep and meaningful stuff to help me process things and also to get across it's OK not to know everything. Sometimes just asking yourselves the questions is enough. It all leads to growth and learning and I think that's good for us all.

Do you want to be more than just a blogger? I don't think so, no. Blogging is my hobby, and that's the beauty of it. If I was being paid, it'd probably suck all the joy out of it. Having have said that though, I am considering writing a book. Many, many people over the years have told me that I have a way with words and should write a book. I'm considering writing my autobiography and I'm considering serialising it on my blog. Am I mad?! I've had a rollercoaster life full of highs and the lowest of lows. I've escaped childhood poverty, had three pretty serious accidents, lost loved ones, lost babies, lost my good health, but gained a husband, lifelong friends and a new appreciation of the simple things in life.

Where do you stand as far as other bloggers blogging on the same topic? Well, there are two ways this can go. There's blatant copying and ripping off of other people's entire blogs wholesale (even down to personal photos!) which I've heard about, and that's just abhorrent. Then there's getting inspiration from a post, just like I did here from Steph and posted this blog with her express permission. I think as long as you credit the person you're inspired by in your post, say how you were inspired, link to the relevant blog and make the blog you've written about it have your voice, then it's OK.

So, fellow bloggers or else blog readers, what do you say about blogging, bloggers and the whole shebang?

I'll tell you a bit about how I read blogs. It's my favourite part of the day. After our tea, hubby makes me a cuppa. I put my feet up and drink my tea while I read blogs for an hour or two. I love it. It's 'me' time. I read nail blogs, make up blogs, fatshion blogs, lifestyle blogs, and some that have a little bit of everything. It's just like reading a couple of dozen mini magazines. The variety of it is the beauty of it, for me. That and drooling over sparkly things, of course!

Over to you.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

MUA and VIVO make up are made by the same company

Hiya dolls!

**EDIT** August 2015, the VIVO website no longer exists and is no longer for sale in Tesco, as far as I'm aware.

I noticed this evening that inexpensive make up brands MUA (Make Up Academy, which has its own website and is also for sale in Superdrug stores in the UK and on the Superdrug website) and VIVO (which has its own website and is also for sale in Tesco stores) come from the same beauty wholesaler. I noticed because I made a VIVO order tonight (I was lured in by the 3 for 2 offer) and also chased up a hugely delayed MUA order.

The paypal names matched up - FB Beauty Ltd. They're a beauty and perfume wholesaler with an address in London (probably for tax purposes) and offices in Cheadle Royal. The Paypal payments I made to both VIVO and MUA go to the same man, Martin Wormser. A quick search of the Companies House website revealed he is director of FB Beauty, who supply make up for people including the make up spin offs for the TV show TOWIE; as well as Accessorize and Look Beauty. *EDIT* they also make Famous Makeup as when I ordered from them my Paypal receipt was from FB Beauty. FB Beauty is part of an American company called Wormser Corp. Wormser Corp are a company who design and make whole ranges of make up and perfumes for brands. Wormser Corp have offices in New Jersey, California, Texas, UK, Germany and Shanghai, according to their website. Their factories are in China.

So far from buying English products, we're actually buying products made in China, with the money going to the US, just so you know. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but it's nice to know where things come from.

Did you know a lot of different make up brands are made by the same company? Does it bother you?

This is just another reminder for me to find out the provenance of things before I buy.

I don't feel great about people toiling away in Chinese factories, probably for a pittance and in horrid conditions. It raises some uncomfortable questions. I hope these people are getting a fair wage. Do we know enough about where things come from? Are our clothes made in sweatshops or do workers get a fair wage? Are we adding to pollution in these high-volume manufacturing countries?

Playing Devil's Advocate, you could say if everything wasn't made in China, it'd only be somewhere else. What's more important - a bargain or moral/social responsibility? I have all of the questions and none of the answers, I'm afraid. I'm trying to live a kinder life but I'm more confused than ever. I think asking myself uncomfortable questions is good. It's OK for me not to know all the answers. I think the important thing is I still ask them of myself and question what sits right with my own beliefs and morals.

When you can buy a lipstick from MUA for £1 and a lipstick from VIVO for £2, is there a difference in quality or are we just paying for better packaging? Not necessarily. I find the MUA lipsticks to be slightly drying, whereas my favourite VIVO lippies are always in my make up bag as they're so moisturising. When it comes to some things like eyeshadow, the MUA shades are so smooth and pigmented already, you could argue why spend more than £1 for a single or £3-4 for a palette unless something else is the selling point? For instance I really enjoy the sexy animal print Famous Makeup packaging and don't mind paying a bit extra for it, and if they have different colours on offer to MUA or VIVO then I'll happily snap them up. Really, I'm just so glad these affordable make up ranges are all cruelty free.

I don't hold anyone else to account over their beliefs and never would. I believe in agreeing to disagree if no common ground can be found. I believe your opinion is just as valid as mine is, even if we differ. A bargain is always a bargain and times are tough right now. We all make our own decisions and live with them. What sits right with you is really none of my bees' wax, unless of course you want to chip in with a comment.
 
By the way, if you were wondering if VIVO is tested on animals, I did some research here on the Tesco website (PDF - do CTRL+F 'animal testing' to find the relevant patch of text to see for yourself.) It says: We do not support testing on animals for cosmetic or household products, and do not carry out or commission such tests on our own-brand products or the ingredients they contain. We support the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experimentation (FRAME), which seeks to end animal testing.
Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Models Own Mirrorball collection

Hello pickles!

Here I am with a quick look at the Mirrorball collection by Models Own.






I will have some nail swatches for you next week.

Sorry there have been no make up or outfit posts in what seems like fuh-revver. The honest truth is, my new anti-depressants are kicking the crap out of me. I'm sleeping for about 12 hours a day. I put on make up about once or twice a week, just enough so I don't scare children and animals. I'm dressing for comfort rather than style at the moment. I'd much sooner be happy and tired than depressed and anxious, but I'm hoping things will improve once the days get longer. We have almost another month to go until the shortest day (Dec 21st) and after that the days will get longer. Hopefully a little more sunshine will pull me out of this funk. Being ill for the last week hasn't improved my energy levels. Even though I feel like crap I really need to get back into yoga to make myself feel better. Nail posts are easy when the rest of you looks crap!

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Models Own Wonderland collection in ACTUAL daylight!

Hi loves!

Shocker - Sun shines in England! Wahoooo!

Since the sun has been out today I decided to paint my nails and take some proper photos of the Models Own Wonderland collection. Given enough daylight I'd take all my photos in the glorious sunshine, but this is the English autumn. This means people are Vitamin D deprived and I'm reliant on flash or high ISO shots instead of good ol' beautiful daylight. You can't beat it. I plan to make myself a lightbox soon to beat the crappy Autumn/Winter light with the new daylight bulbs we bought. Anyhow, onto the photos.

I used 5 different colours to layer over. Thumb to pinky - e.l.f. black, Nails Inc St James, La Femme pink 147, Barry M teal, MAC Rocker.

Thumb to pinky - Blizzard, Jack Frost, Northern Lights, Snowflake, Southern Lights (all by Models Own.)

How do you cope when there's little sun? I find vodka quite nice. Hahaha! ;)

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

A recent e.l.f. order

Hello loves!

I made an e.l.f. order recently when they had some freebie or other going on over Halloween. All photos can be clicked to see larger images.

Here we have:

Studio cream eyeliner in Plum Purple 4.7g £3.75
Studio Pressed powder in Porcelain 9g £3.75
Studio Matte lip colour in Rich Red 1.8g £3.75
Studio Eyeliner and Shadow Stick in Green/Moss Eyeliner: 0.24g/ Shadow: 0.86g £3.75
Studio Baked Eyeshadow in Burnt Plum 3.5g £3.75
Studio Baked Eyeshadow in Enchanted 3.5 g £3.75

Burnt Plum and Enchanted are gorgeous pigmented shades I absolutely love. 

Things I don't like - the pressed powder. It's chalky and far too dark for me. Never mind, you can't win them all!

Thing I like - the baked eyeshadows are fab, so is the matte red lip colour. I have other colours of the matte lip colours and they last ages. The green eyeliner/shadow has a subtle sparkle which I love. The cream eyeliner is super long lasting - I had to scrub my wrist to get it off after swatching.

Have you bought anything from e.l.f.? If so, what's your favourite?

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Review: Superdrug Anti-Ageing Moisture Mask

 Hello lovelies!

I hope you're well. I am not so well (still) and my chest infection is giving me stabbing pains in my lungs now. So not fun.

I tried a new face mask out on Sunday and it is FAB! It's the Superdrug Anti-Ageing Moisture Mask (what a tongue twister!) and it has Vitamin E, cranberry, raspberry, blueberry and pseudo collagen to lock in moisture. It isn't a mask that sets hard, you just apply it to your pre-cleansed and dried face and neck for 15 minutes then wash it off with warm water. It smells kind of herbal and fresh. It's not an overbearing smell at all and I liked it. At 15ml there's more than enough product to do your face and neck.


Because of Fibromyalgia my skin is so dry. If I forget to moisturise, I get forehead dandruff when I scratch it because my skin is *that* desperately parched. Prior to putting on this mask I'd not taken good care of my skin for a couple of days and was highly dubious it would leave my skin soft and moisturised. I was wrong.

It made my skin as soft as a baby's bum and totally restored the moisture level. My skin looked 'healed' somehow, like it had taken years off me. I couldn't stop poring over my face in the mirror! My skin looked plump and fresh. Like a tool, I forgot to take a photo of 'after' but trust me when I say if your face is parched, you could do a lot worse than use this face mask.

I have incredibly sensitive skin, and although my skin was slightly red when I took the mask off at first, it wasn't at all sore or irritated and seconds later the redness went away to leave me with a fresh, glowing, healthy look. My skin still looks better than usual, although my forehead dryness has returned (as expected.) I will use this mask weekly to give my skin a bit of a boost. If you're going out to a Christmas party or other special event, this would make an excellent addition to your beauty routine, as it'll make you look fantastic! It's 99p from Superdrug stores and Superdrug.com.

10 out of 10 from me! This product was bought with my own money, as ever.
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Consumerism, happiness and the bigger picture

Hiya dolls.

Ryan Hurst, (who played Opie in my favourite TV show Sons of Anarchy) posted a quote on Twitter yesterday which was such a truth bomb to me. Here is the quote:


Immediately, I thought of my own situation, my own love of spending. Buying things cheers me up, but sometimes I don't even look at the things I've bought for weeks afterwards. The act of spending cheers me up. I might go as far to say that it's a buzz, a turn-on, an addiction. Admittedly I'm an absolute cheapskate, so the sums of money I spend aren't vast, but I still feel out of control. I think that is key.

I've long hypothesised about the reasons why I have this enormous well of sadness within me which requires regular topping up with things I don't really need. I remember writing a post about it on MySpace about 5 years ago. At the time, I was surprised when people commented on it to tell me they felt the same. Their 'solace' or 'crutch' might have been something else other than spending - cigarettes, booze, sex, drugs, gambling - but people told me they felt a similar black hole within themselves.

I have a few theories about my own situation.

1. I was brought up dirt poor. And I mean dirt poor, so poor we sometimes couldn't eat. Almost everything was second hand or worse. As well as being poor, we were a single parent family, which was frowned upon in those days. People talk, and my family's situation was known by everyone at my schools and it was a massive stigma to have people know you don't have shit and you don't have a dad in your life. As soon as I could legally leave school I did and went into work as soon as possible. I needed money and I needed not to feel broke. I'm not entirely sure if that feeling has ever left me. I think I subconsciously surround myself with things to try to prove to myself I'm no longer poor.

2. I left home aged 19. I'm not going to bore you with my entire childhood/teenage woes, but I had to get out of my home because I was at risk of violence - both sexual and physical - at the hands of my mother's live-in boyfriend. Although I moved away with my dad and brother to start a new life, they both went back to our home town after a couple of years and I stayed behind. My entire family is 90 minutes drive away. Of course, it could be a lot worse with increased distance but I've never really had a family there when I've needed them because of my youthful desire to escape my own life. My escape from bad times came back to bite me as I've pretty much had to get by on my own, aside from periodic visits back home. I'm sure this sense of isolation has a lot to do with my constant need to 'top up' my happiness bank with a seemingly never-ending supply of new things.

3. I've lost two babies. My spending habit has definitely increased since my last ectopic pregnancy. I long to be a mum and I think a certain amount of my emptiness stems from that.

Let me go off topic for a bit to explain a bit more of where I'm coming from in the purchases-don't-always-make-us-happy line of thought. 

Sometimes all it takes is someone else's viewpoint on things to start off a whole new thought process. About the time I had to give up work due to ill health (2008) I wrote a post on Facebook saying how useless I felt not being able to work, for being a burden on J, for ruining the dream of us getting a mortgage, etc. (You can see how much I'd bought into the consumer 'dream' - feeling deflated at not being able to saddle myself with 25-30 years of debt!) A friend of a friend commented on my Facebook status that day and what he said resonated with me. He said something along these lines: We all work (men and women, regardless of if we have kids) to pay for gadgets, foreign holidays and God knows what else so we don't feel inferior to other people. As well as working hard for the things we need - food, shelter, clothes etc, we work hard for things we don't actually need to be happy. If we have kids we often let other people bring them up in daycare so we can get back to the slog and not only are we often miserable because of this cycle, but our kids can suffer for it in lack of time spent with their parent(s.) He said his wife stays home to look after the kids by mutual agreement, he works, they make do with what they've got and more importantly, they're happy with what they've got. It was a conscious choice to make less money collectively and feel richer for it. Obviously it could equally go the other way with the man staying home, the point is that some things are more important than money. Yes, I said that! He said I shouldn't HAVE to work unless we really need the money, much less beat myself up for being a 'failure' for succumbing to illness, and that we're conditioned to feel our only worth is through working ourselves half to death to buy things we don't really need.

In all the years of my life up to that point I had never considered that there was a choice other than slog fuelled by need + consumerism. It had never occurred to me that even a well person could choose to do less work if they chose, and that was entirely OK, and hell - might even be beneficial to their mental and physical well-being. I had never thought in my entire working life that there was an alternative. I lived to work, I didn't work to live. I don't even know where this overbearing work ethic came from, I just had it. It came to me as easy as breathing. That is the culture in this country. You work all the while you can, and when you can't, you're considered washed up. Sucks put like that, doesn't it?!

Some time after that Facebook comment opened my eyes I read an article about young Dutch women, many of whom choose to work part time in order to have a better quality of life, to be able to bring up children, do housework, read, garden, do volunteer work, or chill on the sofa all day if they so desire. A commenter on the article I've just linked sums it all up by saying "We design our financial needs according to how we want to live our lives." In other words, they decide how much money they need to get by on, then they do as much or as little work they need to achieve that, realising that some things are more important than money. They could work more and have more but they choose not to. Wow. Another group of people who find there are greater riches than money in life. That was another eye opener for me.

I think at the heart of my constant want for sparkly things, and a lot of the problems we face in society as a whole are brought about by us losing sight of what's really important in the grand scheme of things: family, love, time to be with friends and loved ones, time to pursue other interests, time to work on ourselves as people and an increased level of happiness caused by all those things (and more besides). Surely the essential thing at the heart of a life enjoyed is happiness? We all deserve to be happy. Money or things are not the keys to happiness in themselves. In fact our search for them can be directly the cause of our unhappiness if we lose sight of the bigger picture. As the quote at the top of the post says in so many words, no end of things you don't need will ever be enough. Things cannot sate you, not for long, which is why I'm always looking for my next fix. Experiences sate you, your family and friends sate you, and focusing on being a good person makes you feel whole. Your 60" TV can't give you a hug when you feel down, no more than my enormous collection of make up can. And yet I still yearn....

I honestly believe the key to achieving happiness is the ability to throw off the shackles of what we 'should' be doing. We need to stop comparing. We need to connect to ourselves and find out what is really important to us. This can be hard to do when social conditioning screams BORN! WORK! DIE! everywhere we turn.

The honest truth is that in the English-speaking world, anything other than total self-annihilation from hard work is frowned upon. It's work for the sake of work and nothing else in many cases, as if the world will implode if you have a Friday afternoon off. I know, I burned out in spectacular fashion after 17 years of hard slog (in the worst jobs imaginable) because I didn't know any other way. Do I have any of the things I worked so hard to buy for all those years? No, only ill health and life experience.

So what now?

I'm a blogger, and blogging is almost always about the purchase of sparkly new things, especially beauty/fashion blogging. I'll probably still be showing you things I've bought to cheer myself up, which essentially makes me a hypocrite, I know....but I'm a mindful hyprocrite who will be doing some delving into myself to try to 'heal' myself in other ways. I don't know the answers, and don't know if I ever will, but I'm  searching for them.

I am mindful of always wanting. If I spend less time wanting things and I'm sure I'll be happier. In reading blogs, especially beauty and fashion blogs, it's so easy to crave what someone else has. I want to switch the emphasis in my thoughts over to be being glad for what I've already got - a lovely husband, a loving (if barmy) family, a roof over my head, food in the cupboards and clothes on my bones.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with working hard if you really want that 60" TV and that holiday to The Maldives if it makes you really, genuinely happy. Working hard for the things you love is an admirable quality. Treating yourself to nice things and wanting nice things isn't bad in itself. We all deserve treats. I can only talk from my own viewpoint, which is from the position of constantly buying little things to supplement my happiness and feeling out of control because of it. This is why I feel I need to work on myself.

What are your thoughts?

I haz a stupid

Hiya loves.

Urgh.
Urggghhh.
Urrrrrrrrggggghhhh. 

Let me get that out of the way.

Have you ever done something so monumentally stupid you want to hit yourself around the head? This morning, distracted by watching Oliver James videos on Youtube, I chugged a couple of max strength cold and flu capsules then left the house to go to my hairdresser. There's nothing like incisive social commentary to make you forget to eat! ;)


Within half an hour of being at Helen's (my lovely hairdresser) I was drenched in a cold sweat and feeling incredibly ill, to say the least. She kindly made me a sandwich to try to stop the damage in its tracks, but it was all for nought. In the cab on the way home, the taxi-driver-come-rally-driver took the corners like he was in Grand Theft Auto, and as soon as I got into the house I threw my bag and keys down and headed to the porcelain throne to yak up. That was over 8 hours ago, and despite passing out for 2 hours after being sick, I still feel so nauseous. I have a big bucket at my feet in case I need to be ill again.

The moral to this story is PLEASE make sure you eat before taking any kind of tablets you wouldn't normally take (unless they specify they must be taken on an empty stomach.) I wouldn't wish this will-I-be-sick-or-won't-I-be-sick feeling on anyone.

Regular posts should commence from tomorrow, if I've recovered. Mondays are normally my days for working away into the small hours scheduling posts (so I have at least one post a day for the coming week), but not this week.

What's the silliest thing you've ever done?

Don't be afraid to share - when I was a toddler I shaved my tongue! (Yes, it bled like hell!) Another time when I was a kid I struck a Swan Vesta match off my teeth (see, they really can be struck off of anything, as they claim!) and burned the inside of my lips really badly. Now, whatever you've got to tell me can't be worse than that, surely?! :)

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Instagram photos up to 18/11/12 & catch up

Hiya all!

Thanks to those of you who 'de-lurked' to tell me a bit about yourselves. I've made sure I'm following you all and look forward to getting to know you.

I haven't taken any exciting photos this week, I'm afraid - I didn't really go anywhere exciting.

Air plane trails.

Peeks of my tattoos.


This fella was in the gardens of a nearby cancer centre.

I was amazed by the size of this wall.

This mini bridge or arch looks pretty cool.

Face mask time.

I has an ill.

This evening's reading is sorted.


Graze goodies.

Tonight's lovely sunset.

The sea today was like a pond.

Catch up

This week we bought a daylight simulation bulb for one of the lamps in the living room as sunshine has almost become a thing of the past in our English autumn. It's bloody brilliant! It makes such a difference, so much so we've just bought two more. Daylight bulbs are great for crafts, photography and people with S.A.D. I know it'll make such a difference to my blog photos. I won't have to do a week's worth of posts in one go whenever the sun appears now. I can take photos whenever I like! This makes me very happy, blog-obsessed twit that I am! :)

---

I properly succumbed to a cold yesterday. I'd started to feel a bit off last Saturday. The feeling of being slightly under par came and went until yesterday, when the full-on snot monster emerged. In the period where I was feeling unwell on and off hubby had a full-blown cold, so we had to cancel our planned trip to Manchester this weekend. He's feeling much better now, and I'm feeling pretty rubbish. Even though I'd known my cold was coming for a week, I'd hoped it wouldn't fully come out, but it did. Hey ho. *Hopefully* it'll be my only cold for the rest of the year.

I hope you've had a great weekend!

Have you ever tried daylight simulation bulbs, or do you live somewhere with no shortage of sunshine? (Go on, make me jealous!)

Thanks for reading.

Festive Models Own & Nails Inc NOTD

Hiya lovelies!

Here is my latest NOTD using Nails Inc St James (which came free with the December issue of Glamour) and Northern Lights by Models Own (from the Wonderland Collection.)


Northern Lights is so pretty. You can buy it on its own or as part of the Wonderland Collection with 4 other sparkly polishes and a clear polish for £20.

Although their polishes seem expensive at £5 each, you get 14ml which is a really generous amount. If you buy polishes singly (not from a collection) it's £12 for £3 so you save £3, and if you buy 5 you pay £18 and save £7. Not bad.

What would you wear on your nails for a festive mani? 

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Lurk-No-More!

Hiya lovelies.

Lovely Natalie did a great post recently where people who don't comment on her blog could come forward and answer a few questions about themselves and de-lurk. I thought it was a great idea! I hope you don't mind Natalie, but I have borrowed your idea and added a couple more questions because 7 is my favourite number.

If you're reading, I'd REALLY like to get to know you a bit, so please don't be shy. It's also a great way for other people to find out your blog/social networking links ;)

Here are a few questions.

1. Where do you live? (You don't have to be specific, just the country is fine.)
2. What did you want to be when you were a child?
3. What really makes you happy?
4. Name one of your favourite songs.
5. Who inspires you?
6. What's your favourite breakfast?
7. Please leave your blog links (and/or Twitter/Instagram/Tumblr etc if you'd like.)


My answers - just to get the ball rolling - are:

1. On the S.E. coast of England, 5 minutes walk from the sea.
2. I wanted to be an author. Still do!
3. Photography makes me really happy, be it on my DSLR or on Instagram. Add cats, dogs, babies and sunshine into the mix and I may just die of happiness.
4. Why did I put this?! It's a hard question. OK, Dear God by Avenged Sevenfold. It's in my head from listening to it earlier.
5. My mum is my biggest inspiration. She brought up 2 kids at a very young age with virtually zero money on her own. My greatest wish is to win the Lotto so I can tell her she never has to worry about money again for another second.
6. My favourite breakfast is one I probably only have three or four times a year. A full English breakfast - bacon, sausages, eggs, tomatoes, toast, hash browns, mushrooms and a big cup of tea to wash it all down.
7. Well, obviously this is my blog but you can follow me on Twitter @xloveleahx and I'm @lovelehblog on Instagram. Alternatively see my links right at the top of the page on the right hand side.

Please tell me all about yourselves! Feel free to answer the questions even if you comment regularly, I'd love for my readers to get to know each other a bit.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Barry M polish swatches - teal, copper & gold mine

Hiya dolls!

Here I am with 3 Barry M swatches for you from my recent order.

These are 3 coats each. I had no problem with the formula at all. Gold Mine has gritty gold glitter in a black base. This would need a top coat to even it out and stop the glitter catching on your clothes. Teal is a lovely peacock is-it-green-is-it-blue shimmer shade. Copper is my favourite of the bunch because there's more to it than copper. You can see flecks of pink or red in there as well. It would make for an excellent layering polish.


Barry M is available from their website, from Superdrug and from Boots.
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Tutorial: Glitter nail polish removal using tin foil

Hiya lovelies.

I thought I'd do a tutorial on how to remove stubborn glitter nail polish using tin foil. I love glitter nail polish and rarely wear anything else, so learning about this method was amazing. It really works!

Firstly, you will need:
Nail polish remover
Tin foil
Two large cotton wool pads
Scissors


Firstly I cut each large cotton wool pad into 5, then I take some tin foil and cut it into 10 sections. I've done square sections before, but this time I did long thin sections. I think squares are easier, but you could just as well tear off odd shaped chunks as long as they're big enough to cover your finger.

Wet a section of pad with nail polish remover. Apply it to your nail. Cover with tin foil, making sure the wet part of the cotton pad hasn't moved and is still over your nail, then scrunch it all in place.

Do your whole hand. Wait a couple of minutes then move the tin foil backwards and forwards over the nail between your clenched thumb and forefinger, as if you were revving up a motorbike by rotating the handlebar. Don't hurt yourself, but don't be too gentle either. The more times you go backwards and forwards the sooner the nail polish will come off. I probably twist mine about 10 times before removing the foil. Some nail polish may still remain around the edges of your nail.

Extract the cotton pad from the foil and use it to remove the rest of the polish from your nail. Do your whole hand and TA-DA! Virtually hassle-free polish removal. I get all the polish off one hand before starting on the other as it's hard to move your fingers once they're covered in foil. 

I must say as someone who has weak and useless T-Rex arms and hands because of Fibromyalgia, this technique saves me loads of pain. My hands cramp up painfully after a few seconds of grasping something tight (do I hear sniggering at the back?!) so constantly rubbing away trying to get stubborn glitter polish used to be a right arse ache. I used to avoid doing my nails because of it. If you know anyone who loves sparkly nail polish but hates the removal, this could be the answer to their prayers.

Have you ever used the tin foil method? Do you like glitter nail polish? 

I think I'm a glitter junkie. If something doesn't sparkle, I'm not interested!

ADDITIONAL TIPS USING TIN FOIL AND NAIL POLISH REMOVER.

While I'm on the subject of tin foil, scissors and nail polish I have a few tips for you.

1. If you have a sticky residue on your scissors from repeatedly cutting tape and it's making your scissors stick to everything, remove the stickiness by running a piece of cotton wool covered in nail polish remover over the scissor blades a few times. I usually do this with an old cotton wool pad after removing polish so I get more bang for my buck.

2. If your scissors are going blunt and you don't have a knife/scissors sharpener, fold a decent sized piece of tin foil in half 3 or 4 times (making sure the folded piece is as long as the blades of your scissors so you sharpen the whole length of them in one go) and chop through it with your scissors until you have nothing left. This will sharpen your scissors a treat.

3. At this time of year when heating bills go through the roof, you can get more for your money with tin foil and cardboard. Cover one side of a piece of cardboard (cut to match the size of your radiator) with tin foil shiny side out and place it behind the radiator, foil side facing into the room. Then instead of vital heat going towards the wall, it'll be reflected out into the room and you should see a saving in fuel costs over time as well.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed my tips.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Homemade Christmas. Pt 1 - felt tree decorations.

Hello lovelies,

It's that time of year when there's always too much month at the end of the money in our household. There are 3 birthdays to buy for this month, Christmas is around the corner and the Mr is becoming a right nag!

I've been quite open in this blog about my addiction to spending. When I'm feeling crap, there's nothing which cheers me up as much as the thought of pretty new things. However, the Mr's spreadsheet of shame listing my purchases is a stark reminder of my weakness, and if there's ever a time to cut back on silly spends, it's now, when my time and/or money needs to be spent on Christmas presents.

I'm thinking of ways to make Christmas presents without breaking the bank. Here are a few ideas I've had and I will cover each one in a separate post.



I love making things from felt to give as gifts at Christmas. These little Christmas tree decorations are lovely little stocking fillers. I'm no great shakes in the sewing stakes, but I gave some of these as gifts last year and they went down well. I love receiving home made gifts because I know they've had more thought put into them than something picked up from a shelf, and I love to give thoughtful gifts too. Each decoration took me about an hour to make.

This board on Pinterest has lots of ideas of things to make out of felt for Christmas.

I get all my crafty bits and pieces from Josy Rose, which is an absolute joy for the craft-addicted person like me.

Have you ever made a gift for someone at Christmas?

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Small Barry M order and about eyelid primers

Hiya pickles!

When Barry M had a 20% off voucher code recently I bought a few bits and bobs.


I thought I'd see if Darling Girl glitter glue works on other loose shadows other than their own (it was the nearest primer to hand) and the answer is a resounding yes. 


You can see you get a more vibrant shade over the glitter glue.


DD102 is a multi faceted burgundy-black colour. Patted on you see more of the burgundy (which they spell burgandy), but swiped on in a circular movement, as I did to swatch, you see more black. To get the most stunning results from this complex colour you'd be best to use DG glitter glue like I did here - or another good eyelid primer - and pat on the shadow, rather than swiping it on, using a flat 'lay down' brush for example. A lay down brush is simply that, a brush to lay down/pat shadow on with. It is not used to blend colour across the lid. You'd need a separate blending brush for that. A primer facilitates being able to pat on shadow to emphasize and bring out complexities, as it has a slightly sticky finish for the shadow to adhere to.

With complex colours like this one, you can actually achieve two looks using the same colour. You could lay down colour over your lid with a flat brush making the most of the burgundy shift in its un-blended state, then you could use a fluffy blending brush (using a windscreen wiper movement) in the crease of your eye which would show up the black tones. As well as Barry M, many indie companies do fabulous multi-toned loose eyeshadow, Darling Girl Cosmetics being the best of the best in that field in my opinion.

Whilst I'm on the subject of primers there are several eyelid primers available. Sometimes they're called eyeshadow primers. Same difference, I say. I use Too Faced Shadow Insurance sometimes, which is another fab eyelid primer. It retails for about £16.50, but I picked my tube up on ebay for about £6. It slightly improves the look of my eyelids (my upper lids near my brows tend to look a bit bumpy from the constant plucking of my wannabe monobrow) and you don't have any immediate rush to apply shadow, like you would with say ELF's eye primer. elf's primer is very effective with a view to longevity (as are TFSI and DG glitter glue) but you have to work fast and it does mean blending well is more laboured. TFSI is a good all rounder. DG glitter glue looks like PVA glue and takes about 30 seconds to dry. You only need a tiny amount of product, literally the tiniest squeeze of the tube will do both eyes.

PROS & CONS

Darling Girl glitter glue Pros - really makes shadows pop, inexpensive ($6.75), a little goes a long way, non-irritating (to me.) Cons - none found thus far. (This is my newest primer so I will report back in a couple of months.)

TFSI - Pros - available in many finishes, non irritating (to me), smooths the lid, a little goes a long way, lasts on the eye all day. Cons - expensive if bought through proper channels.

elf primer - Pros - cheap (£1.50), non irritating (to me), available in many finishes. Cons - dries pretty solid, you have to work fast, blending is a bit difficult.

I haven't mentioned one of the most raved about eye primers yet - Urban Decay Primer Potion, because it irritates the bejesus out of my eyes. I'm cry like a hayfever sufferer within 2 minutes of applying it and it doesn't stop until I take it off. Out of the 3 primers I've mentioned, the elf primer is the most similar in consistency to UDPP. Obviously for the reason it affects my eyes so badly I can't recommend it, but many people get on with it just fine. With all things, personal trial and error comes into play here, so have a try of a couple of primers depending on your budget and see how you get on.

Do you use eyelid primer? Have you tried one you'd like to recommend me?

I'll have swatches of the 3 nail polishes for you soon.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

A brief look around my adopted home town

Hiya lovelies.

After my productive doctor visit on Monday, I decided to go for a very long walk to capitalise on feeling so happy. Here are some shots out and about. None of these will be in my Sunday round up of photos, so don't worry, you won't be seeing them twice! I took so many photos Sunday's post will be huge unless I spread it out.
There are lots of palm trees where I live.
This house was built in 1832.
What a view they must have from that house!
This is Clock House - one story high from the road, but 3 stories high at the back.
I'd love to see inside!
You can see the sea shining like diamonds at the left back of photo.
Lots of lovely leaves everywhere.
A last lingering look at Clock House.
Moarrrr palm trees!
Sit a while?

The writer of King Solomon's Mines stayed here for a while.
Wow!
A local church.
I really love living where I do. It's a constant source of inspiration. There's the sea, the Old Town, the country park, and loads of glorious little microcosms to explore.

Tell me, what do you love about where you live?

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Breathe in, breathe out...

Hiya everyone.

Herein lies a personal post about anxiety and depression, so feel free to skip it and come back tomorrow when there'll be a happier tale to read.

Still here? Thank you.

Today I pulled my big girl panties on and went to see my GP about some issues which have been bothering me for about 3 years. I *think* I had my first panic attack about 3 years ago. At first they were rare, and in exceptional circumstances, like one time when I was walking with a heavy limp and a guy (who had been heading in the opposite direction) saw me, stared like a loon then started following me home. Or the time the lights went off suddenly in the cinema and I thought I'd gone blind, as ridiculous as it sounds. (I have poor light-to-dark adaptation in vision, so I could barely see an inch in front of my face.) Or the time I had a panic attack on Christmas Eve because I'd left my brother's girlfriend's and my dad's Christmas presents at home and I had to face the crowds to get more gifts.

Then they started to get more common, and going out of the house on my own was a strain. If anyone in the street got too close (why is it some people insist on climbing up your arsehole when you're out walking?!) I'd have a panic attack. Sometimes I knew when one was coming and could breathe my way out of it, and sometimes I couldn't.

This morning, in the queue waiting for the doctor's surgery to open (the only way to get an appointment) I had the mother of all panic attacks. I was in a cold sweat, my heart was racing, I couldn't breathe, and I felt so, so sick. I thought I might have to throw up in my handbag.

I had a 2 hour wait to see the doctor but it had to be done. I kept myself calm by reading magazines. Thankfully the waiting room was pretty empty so there was no immediate panic. I went into the room with my list of things written down and said I'd been wanting to come to see her about these issues for a long time and it's not easy for me to talk about this stuff. I just started spitting it out, now or never. The doc printed off a couple of questionnaires about general anxiety disorder and depression, I filled them out, and then she asked me a lot of questions to get to the bottom of things. As I spilled out the things that have been bothering me for so long I started to cry to the point where I was unintelligible. The doctor was there with a box of tissues and was so understanding. She asked why I feel so vulnerable in public and I said it's because of having Fibromyalgia and CFS. Before I was ill I was as strong as an ox and never feared danger, because I could handle myself. Now I'm so weak I can barely squeeze toothpaste, so of course I worry when I'm outside alone.

She said there's probably an element of grief in my depression and she hit the nail on the head. I DO grieve for the 'me' I was before. The one who had a busy job, people depending on me, people looking up to me, people always coming to me to sort out problems as I knew how to solve just about every damn thing that went wrong. I said I took such a lot of comfort from being damn good at my job, even if that's egotistic. She said not at all, a person takes so much self esteem from doing a job well and not being able to work now is bound to affect me. I think that needs to be thought about, dwelled on and dealt with. I didn't ask Fibromyalgia and CFS to come into my life, but here they are and they're not going anywhere, so I need to put the 'old' me to bed and just accept the way things are now. That is easier said than done, especially when the public perception of disabled people is so poor and the ConDem government are doing their best to demonise the sick and disabled to justify their swingeing cuts (instead of focusing on the real problem - greedy bankers and corporate tax evasion - end mini rant!) Not feeling utterly useless is something for me to work on (pardon the pun!) but I think my head will be a better place if I can manage to grieve for what was and move on.

The upshot of today's doctor's visit is I have been put on some medication to help me with the depression and anxiety, and have also been put down for some cognitive behaviour therapy to help me cope.


Hopefully the future is looking rosier, and OF COURSE I'm an idiot for not going to see the doctor earlier.

If there's something you need to see the doctor about desperately, please don't follow my example and wait until you're at breaking point.

Get someone to go with you if you need support (frankly I'd have gone to the GP MONTHS ago if someone had volunteered to come with me), ask the receptionist on the phone if you can get an appointment in advance (if like me you normally have to queue outside to be seen - uber stressful!) and aim to see the most compassionate doctor in your surgery to talk about any mental health issues you may have. Luckily my doc has scheduled in my next appointment with her so I don't have to queue up with the hordes next time.

IF you ever see a GP who is not compassionate (about any issue) and is rude, report them to the practice manager and ask to see another doctor in future. I'm on my 4th GP in the same surgery after seeing some absolute pigs over the years. Each and every person absolutely deserves to be listened to, to be treated with respect, to be believed, to be helped, no matter what your circumstances are. 

I will report back on how I get on over the next few weeks on the new medication.

Massive squishy back rubbing hugs to anyone with mental health issues.

Leah
xoxo


Thanks for reading!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Colours of Autumn OOTD

Hiya lovelies.

On Saturday I went to the park with hubby to take in the changing colours of the season. I wore an outfit with Autumnal colours.




There was no one in this section of the park at all when we were about to start taking photos, and then an endless stream of people appeared as soon as hubby pulled the camera out. These photos were taken in dribs and drabs while about 20 people strolled past at their leisure. You can almost see my clenched teeth as I'm thinking 'If you're not going to eff off then at least bloody hurry up!'


I sprayed my hair with dry shampoo before leaving the house and forgot to brush it out. Oops! The funny thing was I made a point of showing hubby a massive white streak where I'd sprayed it too close and I still forgot to brush it out. D'oh

Cardi, Simply Be
Mustard jumper, Sainsburys.
Maxi skirt, Simply Be
Dull hair, unbrushed out Batiste (ha!)

Have you visited your local park to take in the lovely colours?

I love the contrast in the leaves - the greens, the browns, the oranges, the reds. So lovely.

This is the first year I've ever got into Autumnal colours like mustard. The older I get the more connected I feel to the seasons if that makes any sense? I'm sure as winter draws on I'll probably find myself drawn to more jewel colours like reds, purples, teals etc. I find my desires to wear colours corresponds to the colour of my skin. For example, in summer when I'm brown I love to wear khaki, burnt orange, beige etc. as those colours suit my warmer skin tone. In winter when I'm more ghostly, jewel colours seem to suit me better. Does anyone else crave wearing colour like this or am I just a weirdo?!

Thanks for reading!

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