vendredi 27 février 2009

A few guilty pleasures

I'm following in the footsteps of Ruggy13 with some of my guilty pleasures...

1. Gossip Girl
It's with good reason that New York Magazine gives its Gossip Girl blogs the tongue in cheek tag 'Greatest Show of our time'. The outfits, the dialogue and of course - the real star of the show..New York City, I love it all.

2. Ambrosia Rice Pudding
I think I could eat this every day. It might turn me into a pudding if I did. So I try not to.

3. Baths
I try to save money and energy but I do love a bath, especially as our bath is ancient so it's deep and long enough for a tall girl like me.

4. Crime Novels and TV
I am totally fascinated with police procedural crime novels and TV shows. I watch and read them all. Law & Order marathon? My idea of heaven.

5. I'm going to copy Ruggy13 and also say not going to the gym. I used to live in a building that had a free gym - I could cope with that, but I refuse to pay for one. Instead, I walk really fast everywhere. So far, it seems to be working.

6. Bags and Shoes
I have far too many of both - but I love every single one, and each and every single pair. Any I fall out of love with go straight to the charity shop.

I'm tagging anyone else who'd like to join in on this one

P.S. Shhh... just on the hush hush, but now that I read those back - I don't think I'm that ashamed of any of them. I'm going to mull this one over - there must be some more I can happily reveal, safe in the protection of anonymity...

2True makeup

Since I'm on a major economy drive at the moment I'm continuing my experimentation with cheaper 'drugstore' makeup. Today we hit rock bottom on the super-cheapo scale with 2True - and I mean that in terms of cost, not quality.

I believe this is only sold in Superdrug, and is crazily cheap - most things in the range seem to be under £2 and there seems to be an ongoing 3 products for £5 special offer going on. I bought an Effortless Eyeliner, some Glossywear Nail Polish in no.9 and an eyeshadow Dazzler (sound familiar?) in no.3:

I haven't tried the nail polish yet, but on closer inspection I have a feeling it's not going to be quite what I wanted - it looks very glittery and sparkly and I want a more 'fingertips clad in shiny metal' effect, but we'll see.

I haven't been getting on well with my fluidline lately - probably due to my cheap brush not being up to the job. Hele helpfully recommended the idea MAC brush I need, but I'm going to see if I can make any headway with a cheaper liquid eyeliner and if so might swap my fluidline on MUA. So far, so good with this one - though why is it one eye is always better than another. Practice, practice!

The Dazzler is of course a pigment/dazzle dust wannabe, and for one pound something I wasn't expecting an awful lot, but I'm pleasantly surprised with this. The colour is areally pretty grey-ish mauve and it suits my dark brown eyes. I think the colour intensity isn't probably as strong as other brands, but still, I like it and it does a good job.

Excuse the shaky line - I'm not doing the eyeliner justice at all, it's just what happens when you have to draw it with your wrong hand (which also happens to be the 'camera hand')!

Has anybody else given these cheap delights a test run?

jeudi 26 février 2009

Barry M Nail Paint

I know there are quite a few Barry M products that get a lot of love in the blog world but their - or his should I say (I've no idea of this brand's history but I realised I always think of it as being run by Barry Manilow...) - nail paints are wonderful in my opinion.

I have four of these and I'm impressed by them all, and for under £3 you get a lot of bang for your buck. They go on nicely and the intensity of colour is so good you can make do with one coat if you're in a rush. I love the chunky simple no frills bottle too.

The nail paints come in a every colour imaginable, but my favourite colour of all so far has to be no.279. The ultimate bubblegum/Pepto-Bismol/Barbie pink. Nice flat colour without a hint of glitter which means your nails look almost plastic when they're painted. Yup, that sounds odd, but I like the effect. Suitably trashy, it never fails to lift my mood.

Anyone else out there love these?

mardi 24 février 2009

Oscars Fashion

I totally adore Oscars night, though this year I haven't got round to seeing nearly enough films so instead let's focus on the fashions. The - pictures below. There seemed to be a good variety this year - all long dresses as usual but we had bright colours, nudes, black, white and even Whoopi Goldberg in leopard print. There were fishtails galore, and a lot of sequins around.

Here's a selection from NY Times' great slideshow.
Black dresses:

Marion Cottilard, Vanessa Hudgens in Marchesa, Diane Lane in Dolce & Gabbana and Beyonce
I feel like Diane Lane is hands down winner in the black fishtail category. Marion Cottilard looks gorgeous, but I keep remembering how much more amazing she looked last year when she won. She was wearing that mermaid-esque Jean-Paul Gaultier dress - perfect dress, hair and makeup and she just looked exquisite

White dresses:
Taraji P Henson in Roberto Cavalli, Miley Cyrus, Jessica Biel in Prada, Anne Hathaway in Armani Prive.
I'm guessing Jessica Biel rocked up late, chose the last dress on the rack and didn't have time to do her hair. Seriously - what was that look about? I love the effect of those massive sequins on Anne Hathaway's dress..though I'm not convinved about matching your dress to your skin colour so closely.

Blue and purple:
Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys in Armani Prive, Freida Pinto in John Galliano, Natalie Portman in Rodarte.
Queen Latifah I think it just one of the most beautiful women around, and she really looks gorgeous in this colour. In fact, I love all these dresses - perfectly chosen.

Silver and nude:Kate Winslet in YSL, Meryl Streep in Alberta Ferretti, Tilda Swinton in Lanvin, Evan Rachel Wood in Elie Saab.
Kate Winslet looks perfectly groomed as ever, but I preferred the dresses she wore to the BAFTAs and the Golden Globes. Meryl Street is textbook 'how to look stylish over 40'. Tilda Swinton still managed to wear something unsual, but not as contraversial as last years dress.

The reds:

Virginia Madsen, Heidi Klum in Roland Mouret, Amanda Seyfried, Amy Adams in Carolina Herrera.

Hmm. Usually I love red dresses - though none of these really grab me all that much.

Silver/light grey:
Marisa Tomei in Versace, Penelope Cruz in vintage Balmain, Sarah Jessica Parker in Dior
Beyonce in Armani Prive.

Now normally I'm nota huge fan of big pouffy dresses, but there's something about Penelope Cruz in this that is wonderful - I think her hair looks a little retro, and appropriate for the dress and I feel like she should be walking down that red carpet with Gregory Peck on her arm. I love it. SJP...a little OTT?

And how about Angelina Jolie vs. Jennifer Aniston?

Much was made in the papers of them both being at the Oscars, though surely they've both been at the same public event before? Angelina never looks bad,but this really is a little dull. I know she doesn't go sparkle or bling, but I just a dash of colour? Jennifer Aniston looks gorgeous in the Valentino dress which suits her simple personal style, yet still has a bit of interest to it. And I love her slightly scruffy, yet perfectly groomed hair. Beautiful.

Which dress was your favourite?

lundi 23 février 2009 know it?

On Sunday I was on my way to the MAC store in Westfield having decided finally to buy an 'expensive pink' eyeshadow, which has been on my wishlist for ages. My route took my past a shop called Inglot which I hadn't noticed before. It looked sleek, full of beautiful colour and most importantly, relatively empty of people. So I stepped in to find out more.

Googling them now I can't find an much information about them online at all apart from an Australian website for them). The SA said they're a Polish brand who've been around for many years but have only come over to the UK relatively recently. There seemed to be a very generous selection of colours for everything, plus they sell brushes, cases etc.

They do a 'freedom system' of palettes - you buy a palette (there are various sizes) and pick and mix the colours to go in, much like you would with a MAC pro palette. The small round pans fit into my MAC palette, but don't stick yet, so I'll try sticking magnets on them and see if that works. It seems you have to buy a palette when you buy the pans, but prices are very reasonable £11 for 3 eyeshadows, £15 for 5.

I found a pretty good 'expensive pink' dupe, plus a highlight colour and a beautiful irridescent purple which seems to be similar to 'satellite dreams'. The pigmentation on these seems to be good at first try, (dare I say as good as MAC) and if this proves to be the case, I'll be back to stockup on more as I'm loving the price.

Have you tried any Inglot products?

vendredi 20 février 2009

In and Out

It seems Friday appropriate.

Glitter and Gloss
- spring cleaning my wardrobe ( hello Oxfam) And how much space is there now!
- Waitrose mini poppadoms
- The lengthening days
- Joining the library and conquering my book-buying addiction
- Sticking religiously to Liz Earle Cleanse&Polish - I seem to be all glowy at the moment

Grime and Grossness
- Hunting for a new flat - so stressful!
- Hen party will be fun, but so much to organize
- My haircut being a good inch too short
- Still not resolving my issues with gel brush required?

Have a lovely weekend one and all

mercredi 18 février 2009

Everyday goodness

I just got my first tag from Llyangel's first tag!

Current favourite everyday products. (Who said list-making was something that gave only men pleasure?)

Shampoo: I'm eeking out the last of my beloved Ri-Ci-Ka Oeuf et Rhum (yes you read that right) - used to buy it in Sephora, but no longer available anywhere. Disaster
Condtioner: I don't condition..
Styling products: Charles Worthington Big Hair stuff
Shower Gel: Neal's Yard Rose & Geranium
Body moisturiser: Nuxe's Huile Prodigieuse
Deodrant: Dove
Fake Tan: I don't. Trying to learn to love my 'porcelain' natural colour!
Cleanser: Liz Earle's Cleanse and Polish
Eye makeup remover: Johnson's baby oil
Exfoliator: For body - L'Oreal's Exfotonic
Primer: None
Foundation: I flick between YSL Perfect Touch and MAC Select Tint
Foundation brush: MAC 187 or a MAC-alike 190 from the Body Shop
Concealer: one from the Barbara Daly range for Tesco!
Powder: Don't use it very often, but when I do, I have a cheap and cheerful one from Wet'n'Wild
Blusher: Milani Luminous (the famous NARS dupe) or Redhead MSF
Bronzer: Still on a bronzer hunt...
Highlighter: BeneFit High Beam
Eyeshadow base: UDPP,which I vow never to buy again until they change their bottle, the swindlers!
Eyeshadows: I have an NYX trio I love, Stila Cassatt, Satin Taupe
Eyeliner: MAC Fluidline, though I'm falling a little out of love with this lately
Eyelash curler: a gold Revlon one
Eyelash base: They make eyelash base?!
Mascara: Lancome L'Extreme
Lipstick: Stila Ariel, Clinique Waterviolet
Lipgloss: Lip Fusion in Bare
Nail Colour: OPI Lincoln Park After Dark or Cajun Shrimp

Tagging Lazula, Tabitha and Gail (apologies if I'm doubling up)

mercredi 11 février 2009

Quick and easy tote bag

Yesterday I went to a Hobbycraft store, which is pretty much heaven on earth for me. I find it impossible to leave without scanning every shelf of every aisle and came away with a groaning shopping bag full of delights. I've been looking for a while for bamboo handles so I can make a little tote bag. There's a wonderful simple tutorial here on Little Birdie Secrets and I've been saving some Amy Butler fabric to make it. In the spirit of the recession, I plumped for wood effect handles in the end which were a fraction of the price of the beautiful bamboo effect ones.

And here is the end result - it won't carry an awful lot as the fabric's lighter than I should have used (upholstery fabric next time as instructed) but I feel sure it'll get a bit of use nonetheless.

Have you had success making tote bags?

vendredi 6 février 2009

In and Out

I love these in and out lists that everyone's doing. Seems like very Friday thing to do. Edible theme today

Cupcakes and Macaroons:
- Gossip Girl
- Oats So Simple when there isn't time for proper porridge
- Rediscovering long lost lipsticks lipsticks
- Homemade hats
- Miami Ink

Mayo and Mustard:
- Feeling cold all the time
- Mobile phone bills
- The pub of fools downstairs making a racket till the small hours every night
- The cost of train tickets
- My latest MUA swap still not arriving

Warm Glow

I've been on a mission for a while to fnd a blush that suits me and that doesn't make me look like a ruddy-faced farmer (no offence to the farming community). Whenever I buy anything (makeup in particular) I tend to do obssessive research beforehand, so for makeup this means time spent on MUA and Specktra both of which are amazingly helpful for gathering opinions, reading reviews, seeing swatches and asking for advice.

I want a blush that's the right shade for my NC20 complexion, and with a touch of shimmer, but not glitter, and something that's generally going to give me a warm glow look.

I went int MAC with a firm shortlist - Blushbaby, Soft+Gentle or Dainty, and of course came out with something completely different - the Redhead MSF from Brunette, Blonde Redhead:

The blurb from the MAC website says: "Limited-edition Mineralize Skinfinish specially created for the Brunette Blonde Redhead Collection. Each offers a colourwave of four shimmering shades in a range of light to dark. Use all over the face to create a low/sheer luminous finish or apply in tones of light and/or dark to highlight, contour or add dimension to eyes, cheeks or brows" and it's a slightly wince-inducing £18.60 is gorgeous. I like the stripes of different colour giving you some options, but mixed together they create a beautiful shade. Applied right on my cheeks, they give a kind of warm glow - as thought you're lit from within is how I saw someone describe the look. There's a subtle sheen, which helps give some definition to your cheekbones and the overall effect is gorgeous.

The stripes swatched individually vertically with the horizontal one across the top being a general sweep over all the colours. They range from bronzey gold to peachy pink, or as MAC would say "gold to salmon pink degradé":

I really love this, and as long as I can recreate the way the sales assistant applied it, I will be a very happy bunny.

mercredi 4 février 2009

It's all about the brows

Something I always notice about other women is their eyebrows (or lack of) - the shape and how groomed they are. There's such variation. Eyebrows have been affected by fashion just the same as clothes, hair and makeup have been over the years from the beautiful eyebrows of Audrey Hepburn to the overplucked pencilled in lines of Pamela Anderson. It seems like nowadays we've come to a place where a healthy individualism is allowed.

Personally I'm in favour of a bold brow and I salute those women who wear their eyebrows full yet shapely with pride, like Erin O'Connor:

and Natalie Portman:
and Jennifer Connelly:
And of course, here's Audrey Hepburn whose eyebrows were exquisite and such an integral part of her look:

There are any number of ways of taming those brows - wax, thread or tweezers all do the trick. A whole generation of women plucked theirs into near obscurity leaving only a pair of tadpoles, flitting across the forehead remaining.

The famous Anastasia of Beverley Hills has become eyebrow groomer to the stars and now even has her own line of eyebrow products with powders, pencils, tweezers and even stencils to help you achieve the perfect arch to frame your face. Her website says her training as an architect gave her a new approach on the subject, and she considered the concept of 'the golden ratio' and applied it to her work in the field of beauty.

The key is to go cautiously as you work - keep checking your brows are symetical and embrace their natural curve. I read that you have approximately 250 hairs per eyebrow so it's well worth devoting some time to upkeep and maintenance and your face will thank you for it.

How do you keep your brows in check?

lundi 2 février 2009

Sniff sniff

Perfume will be a life long love affair of mine, but I have yet to find a true love who I will stay faithful to. From when I was 12, I had a lovely French penpal who's mother was a typically chic and stylish French woman and who bought me my first ever bottle of perfume - Amazone by Hermes (not a bad way to start). A whole new world opened up. Amazone seems almost impossible to find these days, but at that time it seemed to me like a very grown up perfume, miles away from the sweet Body Shop ones my friends would wear, and so I loved it.

I remember years ago reading a quote in a newspaper article about the power of perfume, and after much googling I finally found it. Attributed to Joan Juliet Buck, the editor of French Vogue, talking about the scent of narcissus absolute: "Just a drop on each wrist and two in the bath were enough to send silver running down the walls. It set the world throbbing out of control when I wore it. I became a little weird". Now I ask you - how can you argue with a scent that will do that?

I'm in the midst of moving so a large number of my perfumes are in another house, but this is what's currently in heavy rotation...

from the left (and with thanks to Now Smell This and for their breakdown of ingredients):
Apres l'Ondée by Guerlain - I sought this out after reading Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love where one of her characters wears it and finally bought it in the ridiculously OTT Guerlain store on the Champs Elysees. I love that it's a real oldie - created in 1906 and described by Guerlain as 'a rural landscape suddenly bathed in sunshine after rain'. To me it smells of violets, and moss and more like walking in the woods after the rain. It also has iris in it which is always delicious in a perfume.

Tabarôme by Creed - this is another real oldie, first created in 1875. It's technically for men, but I've often been drawn to men's fragrances. It smells of sandalwood, patchouli and tobacco with other spices. Smelling it makes me think of an old library, leather armchairs and an open fire. It's not as old man-y as I'm making it sound though and I've had compliments when I've worn it quite often. It's a bold one though - love or hate.

Eau de Cobson by Corinne Cobson - I think this is technically a unisex one. It's fresh and peppery with grapefuit and bergamot. I love this, but have no idea if I can buy it again as ordered it from a random catalogue many years ago.

Lolita Lempicka - this is a youngster at only just 12 years old. I originally bought this on a family holiday to France when it was quite new and to this day my family all love it when I wear it as it reminds them of happy holidays. An uncharacteristic choice for me, this is sweet and edible smelling. Lots of vanilla is the first thing that hits you. It also contains notes of some of my favourite smells - violet and vetiver. It makes e feel cosy to wear this if that makes sense; plus the little violet apple bottle is adorable.

Cristalle by Chanel - this was created in the 70s and is another fresh green smelling scent. Mandarin, jasmine and lemon. I've been through countless bottles of this as I love the fact it smells citrus and fresh but has a hint of floral to it as well. This is a real classic that I'm sure I'll never stop wearing.

Opone by Diptyque - I will never forget my first visit to the Diptyque shop in Paris...heaven. The candles currently seem far too expensive to justify, but the perfumes last for a long time and are perhaps a better investment until the pound rallies. I secretly rather love the pretentious description they give this one as it really sums it up perfectly: "rounding the cape where spices are grown, under full sail, bound for fragrant gardens of roses and saffron" Spicey rose is just what this smells like, and the spices somehow turn the rose into a very different creature as I never thought I'd find myself wearing a perfume based on rose.

Michael by Michael Kors - descibed by the man himself as "glamourous but simple" which sums it up perfectly. It's very warm and it's the kind of perfume I think that men really like as it's not too complicated, and likeable on first sniff. It has tuberose, peony and tamarind so it's flowery but a little spicey too. It's close to my heart as it has special memories since I bought it and first started wearing it when I lived in New York *sigh*

Infusion d'Iris by Prada - generally I hate buying a perfume that's not already well established and especially one I actually see being launched. Mostly this is me being a snob and not wanting to wear what everyone will be wearing, plus I generally like perfumes with a bit of history. However, I can't resist the scent of iris, so I was sold. It also contains mandarin, cedar and neroli. I read one reviewer describing it has having "a quiet elegance" and this really sums it up beautifully - it makes me think of beautifully groomed women with immaculate make up looking effortlessly stylish wearing cashmere and silk.

Mitsouko by Guerlain - 1919 this first made its first appearance and it is now a hugely well loved classic. Bergamot, peach, jasmine moss and vetiver are some of the components, but for me it's the smell of vetiver and moss that dominate. I don't find this to be at all floral smelling on me. I picked up a bottle on the spur of the moment as it was incredibly cheap and I'd always been curious. On first squirt I hated it, but I persevered and have grown to like it more and more. Much like my feelings on Martinis. You've got to work a bit to get there but it's worth it in the end. I still question whether I'm enough of of a woman yet to wear it - give it another 15 years though and I might start wearing it regularly, with pearls (and I definitely don't mean that in a pejorative way).

What's your current favourite perfume?