Thursday, 19 September 2013

The Lost Ones

At the bottom of my many makeup bags lie beautiful products long forgotten, neglected, forsaken. In my defense I don't necessarily relegate items on purpose... They just sort of end up lost among the many other products I purchase as the weeks roll by. Alas, no more! When rooting around for products to take to my fiance's this week (we're living together, alone, just the two of us for the next three weeks. No, we're not that traditional, we just both happen to live at home still, together really as we see each other every day, but I digress!) I stumbled upon some forgotten gems that I couldn't believe I'd abandoned over the past year or so. These babies are all amazing! I'm taking them out of retirement and giving them another hoorah. 

How I love this foundation! I think it ended up archived because there's only a teeny bit left in the tube and it's really quite expensive so I must have been saving it for a 'special occasion'. I wore this every day last Autumn and Winter after receiving a tube for my birthday, and it's just brilliant. It gives fantastic full coverage without looking at all heavy or cakey, and it feels so smooth and luxurious. If I recall correctly it does require quite a lot of blending as the palest shade ('Cream Ivory') is a little too yellow toned for me, but I can live with that. It also requires powder to set it, or you run the risk of mid morning shine, but again I can live with that, as the coverage and finish is incredible! I've now got my eye on a Laura Mercier primer and Laura Mercier Oil Free foundation as I reckon these might be a brilliant tag team for keeping me matte all day long. If you're looking for more of a luminous finish, you can't go wrong with Silk Creme. 

This is definitely more of a Winter base for me, as it can make me a little shiny when worn during the summer months. It gives quite light coverage but is creamy enough to look and feel satisfyingly 'thorough', and when teamed with a good concealer this is a great option for when you want a healthy 'glow'. The colour ('Light') is perfect and not at all orange or too yellow, and it lasts well throughout the day when set with a light dusting of powder. I really like this for when I don't want to wear as heavy a base as usual, and after watching Lisa Eldridge's video on covering acne prone skin, I'm convinced that a lighter foundation paired with a targeted heavier concealer might be the way to go for faking flawless skin!

I'm usually a light pink or peach blusher kind of gal but this caught my eye after seeing it mentioned on a blog post (bad blogger here, I can't remember which blog... Sorry!) I've wanted to experiment with a darker blush for a while but didn't want to spend lots, so went with this Seventeen bargain. It's only now it's Autumn that I can see myself reaching for this more, and I was pleasantly surprised to test it out again recently. It adds a nice depth of colour without being too 'plummy' or chalky and it's been fun to discover that I can actually pull off colours other than your standard pinks and peaches! I find Seventeen makeup to be great quality considering the purse friendly prices and I may just have to have a peek at the other shades on offer. 

Now, there is absolutely no excuse for letting this blusher brick slip through the net as it's super gorgeous and works like a dream at brightening up my tired, pale morning face. I haven't seen many reviews of Superdrug's B. makeup and skincare line but I've made quite a few purchases and the quality of every product has been brilliant. I love all of the five shades contained in this blusher compact, from the deepest pink for adding a pop of colour to the white shimmer strip for highlighting. Not at all overly shimmery, this gives a really healthy glow and works in every season. I can't wait to use this throughout Autumn/Winter, it really is a hidden gem and it's also so pretty to look at! The handy mirror is a nice touch, too. 

I went through a serious eyeshadow palette phase last year and one of the beauties I picked up, and then swiftly discarded, was Sleek's 'Storm' palette. Until recently I've been all about the neutral eye and never ventured into the world of colour, so I just didn't really get much use out of this beautiful selection. However! When I cracked this open a few days ago and saw the cranberry and pink shadows I was hooked! I'm absolutely obsessed with all things pink, pomegranate, cranberry and plum when it comes to eyes at the moment and I'm so glad to have rediscovered this. To be fair there are also quite a few nude colours in this and they're all shimmery which is my weakness! I'm loving the forest green shade as well. A successful palette all around!

I think I have more lip products than any other beauty item and I was thrilled to find these bad boys hidden away in my stash. From the top we've got RevlonSuper Lustrous Lipstick 'Cherry Blossom' (£7.49), MUA Lip Colour Tint 'Crazy In Love' (£3) and Bobbi Brown Rich Lip Colour 'Pick Peony' (£19)

Don't let the red bullet deceive you, as 'Cherry Blossom' is actually more of a fuchsia pink when applied. I like to blot this after applying to create more of a stain effect and it's going to be one I reach for frequently throughout Autumn. 

I picked up a couple of MUA's Colour Tint lip crayons a while back and forgot all about 'Crazy in Love' but I'm now head over heels for it. Again, I like to blot this one to give more of a stain, although it can be layered for stronger intensity. Colour wise it's a lovely raspberry red colour with touches of pink, and it makes my teeth look whiter which is a plus! 

I received 'Pink Peony' as a birthday present almost a year ago and it's so different to all of the other pinks in my collection. Bobbi Brown describe it as a 'medium toned pink' and it's a lot brighter and stronger when on than in the bullet, so I tend to prefer it to for evenings. It makes a welcome change to my current reds and berries obsession! 

I've spilled my stash, let me know what hidden gems you've found in yours! 

Baci e abbracci, 
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Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Nostalgia alert! First Time tag

I'm so nostalgic that there was no chance I was passing up on this wonderful tag! 
I love nothing more than flipping through old photo albums and creating memory scrapbooks, so a First Time blog post is right up my street. I'm also an avid genealogy buff, my love for all things nostalgia reaching as far back as the late 1600s, all in the name of family research! I read through Megan's post with glee, hoping she'd tag me and she did! Thanks doll :) Be sure to check out her post to find out who Sassy Precocious is..! With a name like that I bet you can't resist a peek!

First best friend

In nursery my best friend was a girl named Sinead. I remember spending countless mornings standing together in front of the art table, painting our hands blue and giggling the whole time before being sternly told to rinse our hands off at once! I also remember Sinead's family owning a pub which I thought was pretty cool, as there was always so much room to run around and play. 

My first 'proper' best friend was Alice, who is now my maid of honour! We grew up on the same street and became friends when we were about six before falling out of contact for a few years until we were about twelve. We've been inseparable ever since and have had some interesting adventures together! From our first time drinking alcohol (and suffering an almighty hangover that I haven't repeated since) to supporting each other through heartaches and cheering each other on when falling in love, we've been with each other every step of the way and she's more like a sister to me than a best friend. We speak in our own bizarre language of accents and random noises, which never fails to annoy my long suffering fiance, although he's so used to it now he understands what we're saying even when it sounds like nonsense! I'm so glad I'll have Alice by my side on my wedding day as I know she'll be the best support a girl could ask for. Plus, she's sure to give a rocking speech! 

First kiss

My first kiss, if you can count a quick peck on the lips as part of a very tame game of spin the bottle as a first kiss (!), was with a boy who lived in my neighbourhood. I must have been about eight or nine and our parents used to celebrate New Year's Eve together every year with a bunch of other families from the neighbourhood. To say I was excited would be an understatement, as I was head over heels for this boy and felt on top of the world after! This was a crush that continued long into my teenage years until I realised it wasn't going to be reciprocated *sobs* Still, at least I got my first kiss!

First concert

I'm pretty sure my first concert was to see the Spice Girls when I was in primary school. I went with my best friend at the time, Rebecca, and our mums and we had a blast! I was so excited I didn't sleep the night before and ended up feeling really ill on the day, but I pulled through and had the time of my life. It was right before Geri quit (still traumatised, by the way) so we got to see all of them strutting their stuff. I was a HUGE Spice Girls fan and had all their albums and singles on tape. I made it my mission to learn every word of every song and my friends and I devised all sorts of ridiculous dance routines during break time at school! 

One of my favourite Spice Girls related moments was when I got to try on Geri Halliwell's costumes. Definitely still up there as one of the best days of my life! My Dad worked at the auction house where she auctioned off her Spice Girls outfits and I was lucky enough to be invited to try on a selection of her clothes, including the famous Union Jack Dress. Strangely, her clothes fit me which is a bit worrying as I was about nine at the time! I had an absolute blast and took a ton of seriously cringe worthy photos (evidence below). When the Spice Girls reformed a few years back my friend Lisa booked us tickets and so I got to see them perform live again, and it was seriously the BEST night! I completely lost my voice from screaming and singing along, and I burst into tears countless times from sheer excitement. See, told you I love a bit of nostalgia!

First celeb crush

I must have been quite a logical child when it came to matters of the heart as I didn't 'believe' in celeb crushes. I figured I'd probably never meet them so what was the point?! I did fall head over heels for Zac Efron when High School Musical was released when I was 16, although that was less of a 'crush' and more of an appreciation of his fine form *sigh* I still think he's pretty hot to be honest, he only gets better with age! I was heartbroken when he split with Vanessa Hudgens, as they were the perfect couple and Troy and Gabriella were supposed to be together forever! Yes, I know I'm mixing up real life with fiction, but, in the words of HSM3, 'I want the rest of my life to feel just like a High School Musical' *sob* 

First job

When I was 14 my stepmum's friend offered Alice and I a leaflet dropping gig for her estate agent company. We were paid £20 to walk around South West for two days straight, dropping leaflets in peoples' letterboxes, and it definitely counts as one of the worst jobs I've ever had! Not only did it rain the whole time, but the leaflets were stored in flimsy cardboard boxes, which quickly disintegrated in the rain, meaning we had to shove leaflets in random Sainsburys bags which we took from a Sainsburys local. It was absolutely awful, although at the time £20 seemed like enough to make it worthwhile!

First phone

I had your average brick phone to begin with, when I was about twelve, one that sent texts and received calls and that was about it! I remember constantly running out of credit texting my friends in the evening after school, much to my mum's annoyance. I then progressed to a small Samsung flip phone when I was a teenager which I thought was awesome as, duh, it was a flip phone! I ran up a huge £150 bill one evening on the phone to my first 'boyfriend' (we saw each other three times in the space of two months before deciding to 'go on a break'!) which my Dad wasn't best pleased with! Now I have an IPhone and am predictably, boringly addicted to all of it's wonderful functions. I take all my blog pictures with it and am constantly on Twitter and Instagram chatting to friends and fellow bloggers. It's crazy how much time I spend on my phone! It's sort of difficult to remember what life was like without it...

First music I bought

Tape wise, the first music I bought (or rather, was given) was the Spice Girls Spice album, as well as various other pop albums such as B*Witched and Steps. The first CD I remember owning was Corona's 'The Rhythm of the Night' which for some reason I was obsessed with! I also remember absolutely loving an M People album, haha, eclectic taste I guess! I've always loved buying CDs and even though I have an ipod I rarely use it, to be honest. I have shelves packed full of CDs from the past fifteen years or so and I can't bring myself to discard any of them, even the weird random singles and CDs that came free with magazines! I'm just not one for downloading, I love the feel of a new CD in my hands and I always enjoy leafing through the booklet that comes in each case (even better if the words to the songs are included!)

First tweet

Before my current Twitter account I had a different one but decided to merge the two. I have no idea what my first tweet was! I'm pretty sure my first tweet on my current account was about tarot, as I started the account primarily to tweet and blog about tarot. There are too many to scroll back through!

First makeup 

I've always been a makeup obsessive, and I remember buying Shout magazine from the age of 8 primarily for the free makeup attached! I had a peach blusher, Collection 2000 frosted pink lipstick, black eyeliner pencil and Collection 2000 black mascara, to name a few freebies. Before my magazine obsession kicked in I had makeup from Woolworths, usually linked to a brand, such as a Polly Pocket fuchsia pink lipstick and a pack of pink and red peel-off nail varnishes. When I first started buying makeup with my pocket money it was usually from Spectacular (remember the white nail varnish?!) and Secret Weapon at Superdrug, home of the glittery green hair mascara and gold flecked roll-on body glitter. I also had quite a collection of 99p fruit flavoured roll-on lipglosses from the local market and of course various hand-me-downs from my mum, including a L'Oreal mascara that I remember being obsessed with, and a shimmery beige Rimmel eyeshadow that came in a plastic maroon coloured case. I also loved Collection 2000 products, especially the lipgloss wands, clear mascara and eyeshadow trios. Who didn't own the blues, browns and greens palettes?! 

First word

I just asked my mum what my first word was and she replied 'I have no idea', which says a lot really... Second child syndrome! I have a baby record book somewhere but I can't find it, so who knows?! Haha, my mum is the best mum ever but she's not overly sentimental or nostalgic, much like my grandma. I'm not sure where I get it from!

First pet

Now, this one I do know! My first pet was a goldfish who I named Armband. The story goes that I was about three years old and my parents asked me what I'd like to call my new pet. I immediately said 'Armband' and the name stuck. Hey, it's sort of logical! It's water related, at least!

After Armband I didn't have another pet until I was about eight, when we adopted a little black and white cat who we called Dusty. He was the greatest cat ever, I promise you, he was truly the best cat in the whole world. He was so gentle, snuggly and calm and he loved sitting on my lap for cuddles. Unfortunately he developed a string of health problems later in life, including going blind, but you couldn't tell! He still prowled around outside and moved around the house as usual, using his ultra incredible sense of smell to guide him! He passed away a few years ago and I've never felt heart break like it. I think it's because pets are so innocent and sweet and just lovely that it hurts in a very unique way when they die. I cried for days and still get a little upset now and again but I'm eager to adopt a little kitten as it's so nice having a little creature wandering around the house! Pets are the best, I can't imagine never having another one. 

Right, that's me done! I'd love to see the following bloggers have a go at the First Time Tag as it's so much fun and I'm such a nosy person that I'd love to read more tales of nostalgia! In fact I'd love to read any and every First Time post so if you're not 'tagged' don't let that put you off! Go ahead and get nostalgic, and leave me a link to your post!

Michaela from The Life and Times of Michaela Lydon
Becci from Only Becci
Meaghan from XOXO Meaghan
Jessica from The Mod Mermaid

Baci e abbracci, 

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Monday, 16 September 2013

Eight of Pentacles

The Eight of Pentacles from the Robin Wood Tarot Deck
Tarot Weekly Draw is a one card approach to exploring the tarot. Every Monday morning I shuffle my cards, cut the pile three times, reshuffle and choose the card at the top of the pile. The card that comes up contains a message or energy for the week ahead. 

The Eight of Pentacles

The suit of Pentacles relates to the worlds of work, study, the body and health, all things earthy and 'solid'. To me, the Eight of Pentacles is the homework card, a card that indicates a period of dedicated learning, practice and hard work. 

The young boy on the card is fully absorbed in the task at hand and is willing to keep on going with his pentacle making. With every pentacle he makes he sharpens his skills a little more. He recognises that success is not always instant. While he has managed to successfully complete six pentacles already he is determined to finish the job and complete the full eight. As the old saying goes, 'slow and steady wins the race'!

This week looks set to be one of consistent and satisfying hard work, work which you are willing and prepared to undertake, necessary to move yourself forwards in your goals. Whether this applies to the world of work and study, for example dedicating time each day to a particular project in order to make it the best it can be, or to your health and body, for example consciously deciding to make healthier choices at each mealtime or to go for a short daily walk, it's important to remind yourself that being consistent and taking things at a steady pace can prove the best way to make progress. 

This week I'm determined to make a start on my uni reading list before my course kicks off at the beginning of October. The pile of Shakespeare plays sitting by my bed looks more than a little bit overwhelming but I know if I take it one day at a time and spend a few hours in the morning or afternoon reading through one play at a time I should be able to read them all  before the course starts. I'm also on a bit of a pre-wedding health kick and am aiming to go for a twenty minute walk every day as well as eat more fruit and veg with my meals. Small changes like this should help me feel my best as well as maintain my weight for the first dress fitting in three weeks' time! I've never been one to panic about my weight and I know that making small, consistent changes is the best way to maintain a healthy approach, and I'm willing to fully engage myself in doing so. 

If you're facing a project this week or have a goal you're working towards, the Eight of Pentacles serves as a reminder that consistency, determination and the ability to see how the smaller steps fit within the 'grand plan' are key to achievable success. Do your homework and remember that practice makes perfect! Now is a time of focus and concentration, of avoiding distractions. You can do it!

What do you see in the Eight of Pentacles?

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Sunday, 15 September 2013

Beauty | Weekly Roundup

Another week has flown by and it's really starting to feel like autumn outside! I'm sitting here with my slippers on, cup of tea in hand and a bottle of Olbas Oil at my side because, alas, I've gone and caught a cold. That hasn't stopped me from getting outside and enjoying the colder weather though! This morning Chris and I had a hearty full English breakfast at O'Neils followed by a brisk walk through the park on the way home, where we spotted some deer and snapped a few pictures of the autumn leaves. I love how crisp the air feels! 

This week I've been focusing on cultivating a good base for the colder months, testing out primers and reaching for skin brightening highlighters. Rimmel Fix & Perfect Pro Primer (£6.99) has been my go-to, with its creamy and not at all plastic-y texture being suited perfectly to the colder weather. It definitely helps anchor foundation and concealer, although it doesn't quite have the staying power of my trusty Revlon primer. Keep your peepers peeled for my primer comparison post, coming soon! Seventeen Skin Wow! 3 Way Highlighter (£5.99) (review here) has been my brightening tool of choice this week. I dab a little highlighter fluid across my cheek bones and brow bones before blending gently with my fingers, and the lovely white-silver tone picks up the light beautifully. The frosty finish reminds me of Christmas, which really isn't that far away now! Beauty Christmas lists at the ready!

Due to my cold I haven't been sleeping much at night, so an industrial strength concealer has been top of my makeup requirements! Another beauty bargain, I've been seriously impressed with Seventeen Phwoarr Paint Heavy Duty Under Eye Concealer (£5.49) which has the same thick yet blendable texture as Benefit Boi-ing concealer, my all-time favourite for covering dark circles. Phwoarr Paint is a truly brilliant dupe and I'd even go so far as to say I prefer it to Benefit overall due to the purse friendly price! It also works wonders at covering spots and blemishes and the formula doesn't melt or slide, which is more than can be said for my MAC Studio Finish Concealer, unfortunately. I'm really intrigued by Seventeen's other recent primer and concealer releases, as I bet they're just as impressive. 

I've been favouring a quick and easy neutral eye, reaching for Topshop 'Sable' Kohl Pencil (£4) and Maybelline the Rocket Volum' Express Mascara (£7.99). The texture of Topshop's liner is extremely soft and so easy to blend, and it's a beautiful rich dark brown shade which I tend to prefer to lighter, redder browns. It's great for adding definition when smudged with my ELF blending brush, or with a cotton brush if I'm at Chris's without all of my tools! I picked up Maybelline's the Rocket on a bit of a whim as I've been trying to find my perfect mascara, and after my bridal hair & makeup trial last Saturday I've realised I've been applying mascara incorrectly for a long, long time! No wonder I've always been so fussy! I apply this one looking down, as in not looking in the mirror at all, which sounds slightly dangerous but the results are so much better! I no longer suffer from transfer on my eyelids, and Maybelline the Rocket gives incredible volume with intense black colour. I'm hooked! I've also invested in a pair of Superdrug Eyelash Curlers (£1.99) which are brilliant at opening up eyes and adding some shape to lashes before sweeping on mascara. 

As for lips, I've been crushing hard on the new Rimmel Colour Rush Balm (£5.99) range. Pictured is 'Keep Mauving', a gorgeous autumnal deep berry shade that I can't get enough of. I've used this every day since purchasing and I can't recommend it enough, from the gorgeous berry colour to the sweet vanilla scent and truly long lasting colour and shine. My lips feel moisturised and soft, essential when battling a cold! Alongside the Soap & Glory Gloss Stick range these are my favourite lip crayons. I also picked up a brighter red shade which I'll be reviewing soon. Just gorgeous!

In terms of skincare I've been working hard at balancing my crazy skin's needs, what with the sudden drop in temperature and turning on of central heating. Face wise, I've been using La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo (£13) after reading rave reviews, and it really does seem to be helping calm blemishes without drying my skin. In the mornings I use this before applying primer, skipping moisturiser as I find it moisturising enough by itself. It gives a comfortable matte finish, a perfect base for makeup. In the evenings I let it sink in before applying a light layer of moisturiser for added hydration. While I wouldn't call it a miracle cure, Effaclar Duo is working well at maintaining balance and soothing inflammation, especially around my troublesome chin area. 

Body wise, autumn and winter inevitably see me reaching for Jergen's Ultra Healing Extra Dry Skin Body Moisturiser (£5.99), which my Mum discovered on a trip to Michigan a few years ago. She came home with a huge bottle shortly before the launch of Jergens lotions in the UK, and when we saw that their Ultra Healing lotion was on sale here we stocked up! This handy little travel size tube actually came free with a magazine many months ago but I've got a big bottle with a pump dispenser in the bathroom, ready to be slathered on post-bath. Lightly scented with a balm like texture and fast drying formula, this lotion is the ultimate in winter comfort as it gives long lasting moisturisation and isn't at all sticky or tacky, which is essential when pulling on tights or skinny jeans! 

I hope you've had a wonderful week and are having an enjoyable, relaxing Sunday. Which products have you been reaching for over the past seven days or so? I'd love to hear your recommendations!

Baci e abbracci, 
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Saturday, 14 September 2013

Anxiety Diaries | A year on

This time last year I came across the quote above and clung on to it instantly. I liked the idea of it, of following your dream instead of fearing the repercussions of doing so, but it's only now that I believe I truly understand what it means. It's easier said than done, following your true path and committing yourself to the hidden ambition buried beneath layers of expectation and conformity, but it is so very worth it once you reach the point of having nothing to lose and decide to start the journey of self discovery. 

Last October I took a job as a Careers Information Officer in a university careers service. I felt it was time to move on from working in a school, in the school I had attended as a student. I had been there for ten years and felt stifled. It was time to move on and try something new, and an admin role seemed like a good option. Regular 9-5 hours, a significant pay rise and a great job title to put on the old CV. My parents were proud of me, my fiance was proud of me; I was proud of me, as I'd somehow managed to walk into an interview for a role I'd never done before, only to be offered the job that same evening. I felt as if I had really achieved something, and I liked how 'adult' it made me feel. I was entering the world of 'real work', of offices and high heels, of meetings, deadlines, managing diaries and scheduling appointments. I'm an organised person, in fact I love organising. This role was perfect!

By January I was on what would become long term sick leave and I couldn't see myself returning. I'd been given a huge opportunity, and I was doing well in my new role, yet I couldn't get through a day at work without sitting in the toilets crying and trying to steady my racing thoughts. I felt lost, confused and utterly useless. I began to feel like a dead weight. If I wasn't able to contribute financially to my future with my fiance, if I wasn't able to hold down a job, what exactly was I bringing to the table? I didn't want to disappoint anyone; I didn't want to have to tell my parents I was incapable of going to work like everyone else, that I would look at commuters on the tube and think 'how the hell are you doing this? Why aren't you desperately trying to escape?' It was a constant screaming inside my head; I looked at the world in muffled confusion. I didn't understand why I couldn't feel content. What did they know that I didn't?

By April it became clear I wouldn't be returning to work. My boss was extremely understanding and supportive throughout, ironic because I was convinced he must think I was incapable and unintelligent. My colleagues were kind and supportive, a fantastic team to work with. I was readily accepted into the team, I was more than able to fulfill the requirements of my role and yet I couldn't go back. I think a part of me felt I needed to hit some kind of rock bottom in order to 'allow' myself to start from the beginning, peeling back the layers covering my real dreams and ambitions, and starting over. I needed some sort of rebirth and my brain wouldn't let me go through this process while holding down a job and getting on with the everyday 9-5 expected of me, that I expected of myself. Anxiety snaked itself around me and wouldn't let go. 

Quite often during my time off I'd sit on my bedroom floor, candle lit for meditation, crystals in my hands, pleading and then begging the world for some sort of 'sign'. 'Please, please, send me a sign. Show me what to do. Show me where to go. I'm lost, I'm so lost. Help me.' Have you ever read those true life stories in magazines? The ones where some sort of divine intervention occurs, an Angel appears and suddenly, suddenly, the path becomes clear? I wanted that. I wanted it so badly I'd sit crying, shaking with fury and hopelessness. 'This isn't fair. This isn't fair.' Why wasn't I getting a sign? Why couldn't I hear anything?

Instead of taking the time I needed to work on getting myself better I applied for a new job immediately after resigning. Perhaps the problem was the environment I was in. Maybe I didn't suit an office job; I missed interacting with people, with children in particular. The answer was clearly to return to the classroom. I applied for and was offered a job as a Teaching Assistant in a lovely nursery. The children were fantastic, the staff welcoming and friendly. Within a month I was signed off sick again, and eventually I was faced with either resigning or being fired for breach of my probationary contract. I resigned, and then there I was, finally facing rock bottom with nowhere to run away to and nowhere to hide. 

I felt a strange sense of relief. I had nothing to lose. I had everything to gain. I was ready to ask for help. So began the journey of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and counselling. I think realising and accepting that I had nothing to lose was crucial. I no longer had to maintain the facade of a successful career. I no longer had to pretend I was like everyone else, content and confident in their jobs. I was a mess, but I was also free because I had time to work on myself and sort through my unhealthy thought patterns. I was blessed and lucky to be able to do this and not have to worry about paying rent or managing a household. In many ways it was the best thing that could happen to me. My anxiety was there for a reason, and I was finally ready to listen. 

I've spent the past three months peeling off the layers of expectations, anxieties and insecurities I've developed and adopted from others over the past twenty four years. We all have people in our lives who love us dearly and therefore worry about us. Sometimes they can't help but voice their concerns in the hope that you'll alleviate them and promise them a brighter outcome. We like guarantees. I've learned that it isn't my job to do this; I can't make someone feel at ease with my plans and my hopes and dreams, and I no longer think that this complete support has to come before my success. I'd love it if everyone stood behind me confidently in my plans to develop my tarot reading business and become self employed, but I understand and accept that people have their own sets of worries and anxieties based on their own life experiences. I'm allowed to say 'I disagree'. I'm allowed to say 'I hear you, but I don't wish to adopt your worries.' I can both love and respect those around me and love and respect myself at the same time. 

Now that I have a clear idea of what I'd like to do for a career, of what my vocation is and how I can build upon it and develop it, I no longer feel the need to take on everyone else's worries and 'prove myself' before I've even started. I have nothing to lose, and I have a choice. I can either throw myself back into the 9-5 that isn't at all aligned with my dreams and purpose, in order to have a 'stable job' and 'guaranteed income' or I can throw my energy into living out my real dream and living with peace of mind. Either way, nothing in life is guaranteed. Success, failure, both are a part of life, but I really want to try and follow my dream and see what happens. I know I have a chance at success because I'm telling myself I do. I believe I can do it. I might not know anyone personally doing the same thing, but that doesn't matter! I know myself, and I know now what I'm capable of. I know what I'm here to do.

None of the experiences I've had over the past year have been a waste. I decided to develop my tarot skills as a way of having something outside of work to focus on, something positive. My heart knew where it was leading me; I just wasn't ready or able to accept it fully at the time. It turns out I didn't need an external 'sign' to come along and rescue me, either. I firmly believe the universe knew where I was headed and was gently nudging me along, and I now feel able to draw upon my own self esteem and self belief in order to give myself a 'sign'. I can rescue myself through self discovery, and that's an empowering realisation in an ongoing battle with anxiety. 

'Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it'. I am no longer afraid of accepting my path and listening to my heart. When you begin to do so, doors open, opportunities appear. I no longer feel I need to alleviate the anxieties of those around me by conforming to their ideals and beliefs. It took hitting rock bottom and having nothing to lose to make me realise that I have absolutely everything to gain. If someone suggests, either explicitly or implicitly, that you can't follow your dream and speak your truth, ask yourself 'says who?' What makes their doubt more valid than your belief? 

If you are afraid of following your dream you will walk around with a heavy feeling in your stomach that never quite settles. Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it, and feel true lightness in your heart. 

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Thursday, 12 September 2013

Review | Seventeen Skin Wow! 3 Way Highlighter

A picture of Seventeen Skin Wow! 3 Way Highlighter

Decisions, decisions! Where do other bloggers get their gorgeous floral patterned blog photo backgrounds from?! My latest attempt is this pretty Laura Ashley notebook from good old WH Smiths, although as much as I like it, it does sort of clash with my blog's pale blue colour scheme a little! Still, it came in handy for some impromptu snaps of beauty booty this afternoon so I'm not dismissing it as an option just yet... On with the review! Here we have one of Seventeen's newest releases, Skin Wow! 3 Way Highlighter (£5.99 at Boots, not online yet), a pearlescent white/silver liquid highlighter. Seventeen have released a whole host of priming, concealing and correcting products and this one really caught my eye. Who can resist a pretty highlighter?! 

To be honest this is more of a 'first impressions' post as although Seventeen advise that Skin Wow! can be used in three ways I've only really been using it one way, that of a post-foundation and post-blusher highlighter applied to the cheekbones and brow bones to catch the light and add a healthy glow. You can also use it as primer before foundation, or mixed with foundation to create a more dewy finish. Because I have quite shine prone skin and because this product is really quite shimmery I'm not particularly keen on either of these ideas but don't let that put you off! I'm sure it could work wonders for others, and I might even give them a go myself as you never know until you try!

A picture of Seventeen Skin Wow! 3 Way Highlighter
Handy pump applicator
A swatch of Seventeen Skin Wow! 3 Way Highlighter

A picture of Seventeen Skin Wow! 3 Way Highlighter
Blended slightly
A picture of Seventeen Skin Wow! 3 Way Highlighter
Blended fully
Skin Wow! 3 Way Highlighter comes housed in a sturdy transparent plastic bottle, meaning you're seeing the actual product from the outside, and it has a handy pump applicator for easy distribution. You can also twist the applicator off and pour it, if you so desire! The liquid itself is quite a thin consistency but not too runny, and it dries very quickly so it's best to work fast when applying. I've found dabbing it on lightly with my fingers works best, followed by blending in a little more with a small blusher brush. 

A white and silver based highlighter with a very slight touch of pink, this works well on my fair skin tone although it does me look a little washed out if I apply too much. Less is more with this! As I mentioned above, it does dry quickly and is quite tricky to blend once set, so I'd advise starting with a teeny tiny amount and building on it in light layers. As long as I use a little at a time (one small pump is more than enough) this works well at catching the light and illuminating my cheekbones and brow bones. I also apply a little dab along the centre of my nose which helps give the illusion of a healthy glow all over. 

Unfortunately there are a few downsides to Seventeen's Skin Wow! 3 Way Highlighter *sad face* As it's very white in colour it can be a bit tricky to judge how much is needed at first, and because it dries so quickly it can appear a little patchy in places, so I really wouldn't slap loads of it on at once. It also has a tendancy to make large pores look even larger, so I make sure I avoid applying it anywhere near the sides of my nose or forehead, something to bear in mind if you're going to use it as an all over primer perhaps? While it doesn't really rival its more expensive counterparts such as Benefit's range of liquid highlighters, it's a decent purse friendly highlighter that I'm sure I'll get a lot of use out of.

I also purchased Seventeen's new Phwoarr Paint Heavy Duty Under Eye Concealer which I'll be reviewing soon. Keep those peepers peeled!

Baci e abbracci,
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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Review | Elemis Frangipani Monoi Salt Glow*

Hands up if you're a body scrub fanatic? Yep, me too! I usually reach for Soap & Glory, my favourite high street range, but when the opportunity arose to test out the wonderful Elemis Frangipani Monoi Salt Glow* from the Sp@ Home Body Exotics range I couldn't resist. I've always been hugely impressed with Elemis bath and body products, particularly their Frangipani Monoi Shower Cream which I was lucky enough to receive as a gift from my fiance last Christmas, and so I knew it was likely I'd fall in love with the newly released Skin Softening Salt Scrub. 

Aiming to gently exfoliate skin through the inclusion of mineral rich salts and hibiscus plant, as well as deliver a long lasting moisture boost via the scrub's soothing coconut oil base, Frangipani Monoi Salt Glow is a truly luxurious body scrub perfect for a spot of me-time pampering and indulgence. Clearly I'm not the only one who thinks so, as my tub's contents has been mysteriously decreasing in size ever since I left it in the bathroom! 

I couldn't write a review on this without at least attempting to convey the wonderfully rich, warm aroma of the Frangipani range. Aaagh it smells amazing! I'm not brilliant at describing fragrances but I figured I'd play a little game of word association and hope for the best (!): 


Some more 'technical' words would be 'Tahitian Monoi Oil' and 'fragipani flowers' but in case you're not sure what such a blend would smell like/feel like, word association is surely the way to go! Needless to say, it smells divine. Rich, full, heady and delicious, a seriously luxurious fragrance that lingers long after my bath, both in the bathroom and on the skin. I love it when products leave a subtle scent after rinsing, and this is no exception. 

Admittedly the somewhat hefty price tag of £36.50 might cause a few wide eyes, but the tub is a generous size (480g) and a little really does go a long way. Plus, it really does work. I like to scoop out a small handful of scrub while in the bath and massage it on to my skin gently in small circles, starting at my feet and working my way up to my arms. While the product doesn't 'lather' as such it does have a creaminess to it that makes it easy to spread and massage on to the skin with no dragging or scratching. The scrub particles vary from super fine to larger pieces but they're comfortable and not at all irritating. I was instantly struck by how softening I found the scrub to be, noticeable even on wet skin. The bath water develops a lovely soft, slightly oily texture meaning you feel very much cocooned in moisture. Upon rinsing with warm water my skin feels noticeably nourished and smooth, meaning that once dry I can skip body lotion without risking tightness or dryness on problem areas such as my legs and upper arms. This nourishment lasts, unlike some bath products that claim to lock in moisture for a long period of time yet fail to follow through.

The tub the scrub is housed in is super sturdy and although it looks like glass it's actually a strong plastic that holds well and shouldn't break if you happen to drop it on the bathroom floor. The metal lock keeps the contents secure and it looks pretty darn lovely on my bathroom shelf! 

While expensive, Elemis Frangipani Monoi Salt Glow is well worth the price in my opinion as it's such a treat to use and should last a long time (so long as my mum stops pinching it!) Speaking of my mum, after trying it for the first time she came downstairs, a look of amazement on her face, before exclaiming 'Imy, feel how soft my skin is! It's a miracle!' A truly impartial nugget of praise from my mum there! If you're looking for a pampering product that delivers high quality results and is a joy to use, then this is definitely something to try. Remember, it's only three months until Christmas..! 

Browse Elemis Frangipani Monoi Salt Glow and other products in the range here

Baci e abbracci, 

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* PR sample. Review is entirely my own, as explained further in my Disclaimer.

Wedding | Bridal hair and makeup trial

On Saturday I had my first bridal hair and makeup trial with the wonderful Siena Powloski, a London based professional Makeup Artist who has a wealth of experience in all sorts of fields including television, editorial and bridal. The day was an absolute blast and I thought I'd write about my experiences in case any brides to be are reading and wondering what to expect from a bridal trial (and all those reading who aren't necessarily getting married... I've always been wedding obsessed so don't be shy!) 

Siena arrived with her fully loaded hair and makeup kit, enough to make any beauty blogger jealous! We began the session by chit chatting about my makeup likes and dislikes. I had some pictures to show her of the type of looks I wanted to try, and Siena also had some photos on her iPad for me to browse through while she set up. It's absolutely vital to have a think beforehand about the look you're going for. Things to consider include the style and shape of your dress, the decor of your venue, the colour scheme of your wedding, and your usual makeup routine. All of these will help you build a picture (or pictures!) of what you envisage yourself looking like, beauty-wise, on your big day. 

Siena asked me some questions about my skin type and any concerns I had about my makeup, and then we got started with the makeup trial. From base to eyes to lips to cheeks, Siena talked me through each step, showing me her chosen products and explaining why she chose the products she did. I was able to ask questions throughout and she really put me at ease with her confident and thorough approach. 

Siena working her magic!
Once the makeup was applied and we'd gone through any queries I had, Siena moved on to hair. My hair is extremely fine and often looks quite lifeless, so it was decided that tongs were a huge necessity! Siena created a range of different looks based on pictures I had shown her taken from various bridal magazines. We tried up dos, down dos and everything in between! Below is a selection of styles we tried... Although I'm not sharing the final style as some things need to remain secret until the big day!

How gorgeous are these hair styles?! They proved very popular when I uploaded a few pics to Instagram! I love the twisty detailing, and somehow the design makes my crazy coloured hair look not quite as crazy as usual! I've been growing my highlights out since last December as I didn't like how light blonde my colour had become. My next wedding related task is to have a hair revamp, getting my dry ends trimmed and sorting out my colour in time for the big day. I still want to be blonde but a more natural honey blonde as opposed to bright blonde. Still, my roots could look worse at the moment!

I had such a fantastic day and picked up all sorts of makeup application tips and tricks, as well as a huge wishlist of products I really want to buy before the big day! Siena is really open to using products you already have in your collection, so for example if there's a foundation you know works well for your skin type she is more than happy to apply it for you, so long as it really is the best choice for your skin. She has a huge kit of products herself and extensive knowledge of what works best and why, so don't be afraid to loosen the reins a little! 

I think I'd quite like to squeeze in another makeup trial nearer the wedding date as I've got a few more ideas and 'tweaks' I'd like to try, indecisive bride that I am! Below are a few more pictures from the trial, I hope you can see just how talented Siena is, although I couldn't bring myself to go so far as to post a 'before' photograph as my skin is in serious need of some TLC at the moment!

If you'd like to contact Siena you can do so on Twitter @sienapowloski and on Instagram @sienapowloski. She offers makeup and hair styling for all occasions, from glam night out looks to bridal to everything else in between, so do give her a follow and check out her portfolio! I'll be calling on her again for my hen do makeup and I can't wait to see what she comes up with!

Baci e abbracci, 
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Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Life | Who am I?

Last night I went into total blog meltdown. I was trying to set up Google Analytics by tampering with my blog's HTML and of course, rookie that I am, I didn't save a copy of my template first. While deleting a piece of coding I somehow managed to delete lots of other things that rendered my blog's mobile template somewhat ruined. All of this was happening late at night, meaning I was tired and irritable before I even started! As soon as I realised what I'd done the tears began to flow and they just. Would. Not. Stop. 

I know, I know, way to make a mountain out of a molehill! I was so exhausted and so full of anxiety and so devastated that I had potentially ruined my blog design, which had taken me such a long time to create and perfect. It seemed like the biggest mountain EVER. My fiance tried to calm me down but it was no use at first. It suddenly hit me with full force just how much my blog means to me and the thought of it being ruined near about broke my heart. 

After the drama died down (with the help of my fiance and Megan from Little Miss Average who seems to be able to help with any and all techie questions!) I was struck by the importance I place on my blog and the way in which I feel it represents me. It gives me a sense of purpose and a sense of achievement, and I felt that if it disappeared, so would the 'point' of the last few months during which I've typed away consistently, day after day. I emailed myself the question 'Who am I?' and began brainstorming responses, sort of like a game of word association. The following isn't a poem as such, as when I write poetry I like to get really stuck in with poetic devices and techniques. I'd say it's more of a statement, unedited, as it came to me at the time. This is who I am. 

I am a writer.
I am a healer.
I am a student.
I am a teacher.
I am a partner.
I am a friend.
I am family.
I am an observer.
I am a participant.
I am a creator.
I am every word I've ever written.
I am every word I've ever spoken.
I am every word I'm yet to write.
I am every word I'm yet to speak.
I am every experience I've hidden.
I am every experience I've shown.
I am a descendant.
I am an ancestor.
I am a fact.
I am a thought.
I am silence.
I am noise.
I am music. 
I am the dullest dust.
I am the brightest star.

OK, so it might not exactly be the most profound list! It was spontaneous. It gave me a boost. I'm so attached to my blog because it's a form of expression and it's where I turn to when I'm feeling any and all emotions. Sad, happy, excited, anxious, scared, fearless. I come here and I write and I feel that I am 'me'. Yet at the same time, reading through my list, this blog isn't me. At least, it's not the only thing that makes me 'me'. If I ever manage to ruin my mobile template again, or mess up anything else on the Bluebird & the Robin, it isn't the end of the world. I still exist. I can figure things out and carry on being me while doing so. It's only a molehill!

The moral of last night's drama? Don't sweat the small stuff even when it seems huge! I got a good 'poem'/'statement' out of the experience, felt a true sense of accomplishment when reflecting on what my blog means to me, realised that these moments aren't the end of the world, and the support I got from my fiance and Megan was amazing. 

My blog is fine now! *Phew* I am fine. I am still me. 

Baci e abbracci, 

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