Things I’m Loving

Hello there! I’m back with something a little different today. I thought I’d share some of the things I’m currently really liking. If any of you follow me on twitter you might have heard the news that I will be graduating with a 2:1 English degree. My ceremony is on Tuesday (i’m excited and nervous and everything in between!). I have finally applied for my masters place in English research, so hopefully I’ll hear back about that really soon! For now, here are a few things I’m loving:

1) Water (and a good water bottle to transport it in!)

Yes. I am aware I just said water. But I really, really am loving it at the minute. As you may know here in the UK we’ve been experiencing some glorious weather, so keeping hydrated  has been very important. I recently purchased an Apana glass water bottle with silicone protective sleeve from TK Maxx. This was reduced to £7, and I’m really glad I opted for it. Admittedly, the colour isn’t quite what I’d usually go for, but I have to say I’m loving the inspirational positive messages imprinted into the silicone sleeve. This also has the added bonus of protecting the bottle from scrapes or knocks. I am used to using plastic bottles, but drink flavours always seem to permeate the surface leaving a noticeable change in the scent of the bottle, which i find pretty unpleasant. Glass doesn’t do this, and so I’m hoping it won’t leave me feeling disappointed!

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It’ll be great for throwing into my backpack on busy days. The only downside so far is that when full the bottle is considerably heavier than a plastic bottle. However, it’s a price I’m willing to pay! See if you can grab one for yourself over at TK Maxx.

2) Graduation Presents

Because my boyfriend is also graduating this year, I thought I’d treat him to an new leather wallet. The one I picked is by a brand called Osprey. I’ve had one of their handbags previously, and I know they are great quality. The wallet is really sleek and smart, and was an absolute bargain compared to the RRP: £16.99 instead of £80! Again, nip toTk Maxx. They have a great selection of things in there. Be prepared to hunt for the things you want; sometimes there’s no duplicates of items so be prepared to look…I promise with perseverance you will unearth some bargains!

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I like the fact the wallet comes in a smart presentation box, and I’m hoping it will make a lovely gift.

3) Natural Lipsticks

I’m usually really into my brightly-coloured lipsticks. I have a particular love of bright blue-based reds, and usually go for ones that are matte in appearance, like Revlon’s matte lipstick in Really Red. I’m also a big fan of Revlon’s matte colourburst balms, in particular Standout; a gorgeous deeper toned red that applies easily and feels amazing on the lips. I have also tried a few from Bourjois; two Rouge Edition Velvet lipcolours in Grand Cru and Personne ne Rouge, and one of theirRouge Edition lipsticks in shade 13, that has a satin/slightly glossy finish. All of them are gorgeous, and I love the opportunity to flaunt a good red lip whenever I can. However, since graduation is coming up, I decided I needed something fuss-free and fairly neutral so I wasn’t having to touch-up my makeup often. So, after what felt like hours swatching lots of neutral or ‘my lips but better’ shades, I settled on a few items from Bourjois: two Color Boost crayons and a Sweet Kiss Gloss.

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As I have mentioned, neutral lips aren’t really something I tend to go for. I have fairly pigmented lips naturally, and find a lot of nude shades in particular make me look really washed out. These neutral colours however may have just changed my mind…

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I’m not too sure whether this photo is completely accurate in terms of true-to-life colour (the first picture with all three is pobably the most accurate in terms of colour representation), but this is the colour Incognit-rose. It is a cool-toned rose gloss, that has a creamy, high-gloss finish free from glitter/sparkle. This is very much a MLBB (my lips but better…I’m becoming a bit obsessed with that phrase at the moment!) gloss, or at least it is for me and my pigmented lips. It isn’t overly ‘in your face’and it doesn’t make a huge statement, but what it does do is provide the lip with a polished, well-put-together look. It’s just enough to make you feel made up without feeling overtly so.

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I think the packaging is really smart, and I really like the applicator that comes with this gloss as it is a little brush.You don’t need to take much time applying it because it’s pretty fool-proof and very easy to do. Bourjois claims that it gives long-lasting hydration of !0 hours, and whilst i think this is a fairly overly-exaggerated claim, the formula is hydrating and moisturising, and doesn’t at all dry me out. The gloss does have a slight scent, though; all I can liken it to is a slightly fruity, sweet smell. It isn’t at all offensive but it’s definitely something to consider if scents in cosmetics annoy you. Lastly, it isn’t super sticky (hooray!) but your hair will probably stick to it if it so happens to become attracted to your lips, particularly in blustery weather. I used to LOVE Lancome’s Juicy Tubes, but when wearing them my hair was constantly stuck to my mouth. When I was sixteen I used to save up my pocket money and spend it all on one tube of their Juicy Tube gloss. Juicy tubes are SUPER sticky, and even to this day I can’t really tell you why I continued to purchase them. Hopefully i won’t get into the same sticky situation with this gloss!

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Above are the two Colour Boost lip crayons I purchased. When I spotted these I couldn’t help but think of Clinique’s Chubby Sticks; they look fairly similar, have the same sheer yet buildable coverage and pigment and they are even packaged in a similar way in a twist up stick, so no sharpening is needed! The main difference with these though are that they’re a fraction of the price. I’d LOVE to try a Chubby Stick, I really would. But at the minute I cannot justify spending up to £17 on one. These sell for £7.99, which is far, far cheaper in comparison. Bourjois claims that these also have 10 hour-moisturisation properties, but they also have an added SPF of 15 and have ‘waterproof colour’.

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This is the darker of the two lip crayons and is in the colour Sweet Macchiato. It is a mid-tone warm brown, with no shimmer or sparkle. When first applied the texture is creamy, and has a subtle gloss and sheen to it. Though this sheen wears off, the colour does slightly stain the lips and so leaves them pigmented for longer. These feel incredible; they feel like a really hydrating lip balm, or what Bourjois label the ‘bare lip sensation’. The colour is almost verging on a brick-red shade when layered very intensely, but i prefer to wear it sheer for a flush or colour. I’m really impressed…can you tell that neutral colours are growing on me?!

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Finally we have Proudly naked, which I think is my favourite of the two. This is very natural looking once applied. It is definitely MLBB: it makes me feel like I’ve made an effort, even if all I’ve managed to do is throw a bit of blusher on my face. Again, this lacks shimmer/sparkle but does have the gorgeous subtle sheen as seen in the Sweet macchiato shade.

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Here are all the shades side-by-side. As you can see they’re all very similar but I recommend each one. I’m really going to have difficulty deciding which to wear on my graduation!

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Here’s just a quick swatch of all three on the back of my hand: the top one is the Sweet Kiss gloss in Incognit-rose, the second is the Color Boost in Proudly naked and the third is the Color Boost in Sweet macchiato.

Now, I know it seem a little bit extravagant to have bought all three, but Boots right now have 3 for 2 on selected Bourjois products, as seen here. Considering I was willing to pay £16 for one of Clinique’s lip pops in Bare pop, getting all three Bourjois products for just short of £16 is a pretty good deal.

I’m sorry this post has been so long, but I hope all of the above things have given you some inspiration! I hope you’re enjoying the start of the weekend whatever you may be doing!

Heather x

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The Body Shop Haul

Hi there! if you’ve been reading recently you may have seen me mentioning some products I recently purchased from The Body Shop. During exam season  neglected myself a bit so thought some pampering goodies were needed. I used to love The Body Shop when I was younger. It was always a place I’d visit with my friends when shopping in Manchester, and we used to love picking up everything and smelling it! As much as I loved doing this, I never really had the funds to treat myself to anything, apart from the odd lip balm or two. Believe me, I used to have a HUGE obsession with lip balm and I did always like the scents and formulas of The Body Shop ones, but now I’m older I can justify spending a little more than the £2 I parted with at the age of fourteen, so I thought I’d diversify a little and try something new. Some of the products here are ones I’ve been using since Christmas. My boyfriend treated me to some products as part of a Christmas present, and ever since I’ve been dying to get my hands on some more products.

The Body ShopMy first visit to The Body Shop resulted in a few purchases to celebrate the end of my assignments. Self indulgent? Perhaps. But that didn’t stop me.

I’ve always had acne prone skin. Acne used to be something i had all the time growing up. It wasn’t just the odd pimple either, but loads and loads of painful, swollen, red bumps all over my face. It wasn’t a nice thing to contend with. I got the usual acne-related insults, the usual advice: ‘well if you stop wearing make up/wash your face it will go away!’ and people feeling the need to point out my acne as if I didn’t know it existed. My acne wasn’t just unsightly (or so i was led to believe) but it was extremely painful. Every time I moved my face it hurt. It was embarrassing and really not something i wanted to deal with. I tried a range of spot creams/washes, but of course my acne was more than just the odd spot so needed medical treatment. I used antibiotics, a vinegary liquid called zineryt, duac, and finally-whennothing else worked, they put me on a contraceptive pill that is usually prescribed for moderate-severe cases of acne called Dianette. I’m so glad to say that my skin is clear now. One of the biggest misconceptions about acne is that it’s caused by lack of cleanliness. This always frustrated me incredibly: believe it or not I had one of the most thorough skincare routines during my acne, and I always made sure i cleansed, toned and moisturised twice a day. My acne was hormonal, and as a result I still get the odd spot or two at certain times. But thankfully, for now at least, it’s under control. With all this in mind I decided to go for a skincare range that helps acne-prone skin, and The Body Shop do just that: their Tea Tree range.

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The first thing I picked up was the Tea Tree skin clearing wash. I was looking for a great, affordable wash to remove make up and keep my skin clear in the process and this really fit the bill. It smells very strongly of tea tree, which is no problem for me because I love the scent, but this is definitely something to keep in mind. It cost £5, but I know that the Body Shop have a lot of deals and voucher codes on so it’s just a case of looking around! I have been using it with a complexion brush, and mine is by a company called Spa Sister and was purchased at TK Maxx for £3.99. The idea is that it exfoliates and buffs the skin while using a cleanser, almost negating the need for a facial scrub which can sometimes be a little harsh. The bristles are soft enough so it’s not uncomfortable to use, yet stiff enough to remove any dirt or make up.

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It almost looks like a big toothbrush for you face, but do not fear; it’s really easy to use, especially with my hemi hand as it can be used mostly one-handed. I tend to wet my face, spread some of the facial wash on my skin, and buff the brush in circular motions upwards and all over my face and neck. I do avoid my eyes though; you’ll want to use a flannel or soft mitt for that. Then I just rinse my face with cool water to remove my make up, rinse the brush and leave to dry, then pat my skin dry.

This technique has really been working. It removes more make up than a standard make up wipe, and the tea tree leaves my skin feeling very refreshed.

Now, when I initially bought this, I didn’t have a toner, so I went on to apply the moisturiser without toning. However, I have now acquired one, so I sweep The Body Shop’s Seaweed Clarifying Toner across my  face before moving onto the moisturiser (I’ll explain my acquisition soon!)

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This moisturiser is very light, and like the wash, it smells very strongly of tea tree. It feels really refreshing on my face and absorbs quickly.

Next in the range is the Tea Tree Pore Minimiser. I bought this in place of a primer as it said it would make a great base for make up. It does feel great under my foundation, however I wouldn’t say It noticeably minimises my pores. It is a great addition to my routine, though. I’m already noticing my skin is less oil and less likely to break out as a result of using this range, which is really great!

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My next visit to the Body Shop was to buy my boyfriend some treats. He struggles with dry skin, so I decided to get him a set of the Seaweed range and this is where the toner comes in!

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I bought the Seaweed Purifying Facial Cleanser, Seaweed Clarifying Toner and Seaweed Day Cream in a set, which saved a total of £8. Drew said he didn’t mind about having the toner, so I decided to try that instead. The toner isn’t harsh on skin, and yet leaves it feeling very refreshing whilst removing the last traces of my make up. Drew is using the cleanser with The Body Shop facial brush, which you can find here: http://www.thebodyshop.co.uk/skincare/accessories/facial-brush-with-lid.aspx . I asked him what he thought of his new goodies, and before now Drew hasn’t really used anything but soap on his face! He said: ‘it’s amazing…smells really fresh and leaves my skin feeling really clean. The brush is a good size to use, it gets everywhere you need to and because of the brush, you don’t need to use lots of cleanser so I can see it lasting. The dryness on my face is also improving and I think using both the cleanser and moisturiser is helping that.’ Result!

I also picked up the Mango Hand Cream. I’ve heard great things about the mango scent and I tried my friend’s Vineyard Peach hand cream and knew I needed to get one!

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This hand cream is very light, absorbs quickly, and has a gorgeous summery scent. It’s perfect for putting in your bag for a burst of freshness during the day. Really impressed!

On the day, The Body Shop was giving 30% off to new members of their Love Your Body scheme. Buying the card cost £5, but you got a 50ml body butter and a free gift that was worth £23 (approximately…I can’t quite remember!). Either way. It was a great deal. Now I’ll get 10% off on every purchase when I present my card which is a  lovely bonus. I chose an olive body butter as the 50ml gift as it’s a scent I haven’t tried before.

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The scent is very subtle, and the texture of this butter is quite thin in comparison to others from the range. It’s quite fresh feeling and very easily absorbed. To compare, I also have the raspberry, coconut, satsuma and grapefruit butters that I’ve purchased previously/been given.

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The grapefruit butter is slightly thicker than the satsuma, and has a really zingy scent that smells fresh on your skin. The satsuma is just delicious-smelling, and is really lovely applied in the morning. It absorbs very quickly, and leaves a subtle scent for most of the day. In comparison, the coconut and raspberry butters are much thicker in consistency and really take time to work in. Raspberry is quite sweet, but not too sweet that it’s overpowering, and the coconut smell reminds me of holidays sat in the sun with a cocktail. Bliss! All of them are extremely moisturising, and I received another 50ml satsuma butter in the free gift which was very well received!

I also love the Body Shop’s beautifying oils. I apply them to my arms and legs for a little added sheen when I’m wearing short sleeved tops or dresses, and I apply a small amount to the ends of my hair when I get out of the shower and before my hair dries. I have the moringa scent, which has subtle floral notes, and the satsuma scent which is lovely and fruity. They absorb far quicker than the body butters, without feeling at all greasy.

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This gift had a fair few products in it, all wrapped up with a lovely shower scrubber, or ‘lily’, as they call it. I received a small bottle of the Rainforest Shine, a small Coconut shower cream, small peppermint foot lotion, 30ml absinthe hand cream, 50ml pot of satsuma body butter and a full size shea butter lip butter. I was amazed that I had so many new things to try!

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All of these products have completely fulfilled my expectations. The Shea butter lip butter is creamy and hydrating, perfect for applying before bed time. The foot lotion smells subtly of peppermint but keeps my feet moisturised and soft after a long day. I haven’t yet tried the shampoo or shower cream, but both smell absolutely lovely and I’m hoping they’ll lather up nicely and leave me feeling fresh and clean. The thing that surprised me the most was the Absinthe Purifying hand cream. The smell is extremely fresh and long lasting. It’s difficult to explain, but if you’re not keen on fruit scented hand creams then I suggest you pick this up. Again, it absorbs quickly leaving my skin hydrated but not greasy.

Overall I’m so incredibly pleased with my purchases. I feel so much better now that I’m taking a little more care of myself. I just have to stop myself from buying any of their Virgin Mojito or Green Tea range…they both smell incredible for summer! I hope this is a useful review, albeit a long one, but let me know if you have anything to say about the Body Shop or their products!

Hope you’ve had a great Monday,

Heather x

A few thoughts

Hi all! Things have been super busy (third year is pretty stressful as it turns out) so I apologise I haven’t blogged sooner. I don’t have the time (or at least when I do have the time I spend it drugged up to my eyeballs on analgesia) so apart from working and writing and studying I haven’t really been up to a lot.

I do have to say though I’m feeling so positive with regards to the anxiety and depression. As well as having counselling, I’ve started a low dose of fluoxetine (better known as Prozac) and I feel this has helped my moods immensely. I’m no longer panicking about little things, I’m no longer crying in the street, and I’m feeling really positive which is wonderful. Of course I still have anxious moments but no way near as intense as they were a few weeks back. The other day I walked through campus and for the first time in maybe a year or possibly longer, I felt genuine happiness. I noticed things I wouldn’t usually notice. The daffodils looked so bright and gorgeous and everything was sunny and wonderful. It was a fantastic feeling and I forgot you could feel that way.

My counselling has come to an end as we feel I can carry on without it (at least for the time being). It was a really great thing for me, and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to have it. It’s worked wonders, and it was rather emotional having to say goodbye to my counsellor. Together with my medication, it’s really changed my life for the better and I’m hoping for sunnier, positive days from now on. I’m under no illusions it will take time. I know I’ll be on my medication for months and possibly longer, but despite some of the side effects (the worst being I can’t take my tramadol with it which is bad on painful days) it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Last night I went to my lovely friend Amy’s birthday meal and get together. Amy is one of the loveliest, kindest and most wonderful people I’ve ever met in my life. She has such a sunny disposition and always brightens up your day. It was wonderful to spend some time with her and all her friends. We went to Roots which is a Caribbean bar and grill, and I had coconut shrimp to start and a Trinidadian jerk chicken roti for the main course. Alcohol was off the cards as I’d had a lot of painkillers yesterday, so I had a fruit punch instead which was refreshing and lovely. The food was okay, but not as amazing as we’d all hoped which is a shame. Another thing that was really off-putting was the music: it was so loud I felt like I was eating my dinner in a club! I think it’d be great for a few rum cocktails, but I perhaps wouldn’t go again for a meal out. We did go back to Amy’s for tea and cake, which was by far my favourite part of the evening. It was great to have a good natter and a cuppa!

That’s really all that’s been going on over here. I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend and a great couple of weeks.
Look after yourself,
Heather

Happiness is…

The 10th April was a happier day because:

1) I woke up early and enjoyed the peace the early morning brings

2) I headed into uni and managed to read 4 journal articles and finish a novel I’ve been reading

3) it was another gloriously sunny day, and I love the way the trees look when the sun is shining

4) I treated myself to some candles

5) I made it through today without panicking, and this felt like a big achievement.

How has your Friday been?
I hope you’re looking forward to the weekend,
Heather

Day 2 of ‘Happiness is’…

On the 8th April:

1. Feeling like I’m getting somewhere with planning assignments and getting on with my dissertation

2. My first ice cream of the summery/spring season

3. A gorgeously sunny, beautiful day (so much so I didn’t need my winter coat)

4. Reading by the flickering light of my candles

5. Cooking a ‘fancy’ macaroni cheese (even if I did burn my wrist in the process…ouch!)

I hope you’ve had a wonderful Wednesday.
Heather

Happiness is…

In an effort to keep my mood up and hopefully get out of this horrible, low, blue stage (something I hoped would have passed by now, but I’m struggling to shake it) I’m aiming to focus on some happy/lovely/funny moments or things i’ve encountered during the day. I’m aiming for five things/moments/times that have been particularly lovely, no matter how trivial. For instance I take great delight in my morning coffee as it’s a thing of joy and a happy start to my day (somewhat silly but definitely true). Hopefully this will be a fairly frequent (if not daily) occurence but the phrase ‘famous last words’ springs to mind as I write this.

Reflecting on 7th April 2015:

1. my frothy coffee in the morning; the buzz of caffeine, the bittersweetness

2. the beaming sun and blue skies as i walked around campus

3. talking to friends about silly things whilst preparing my dinner (whilst watching them knit)

4. listening to Sylvia Plath’s interviews which filled me with joy (her voice is so different to what I’d expected, yet so eloquent and wonderful and beautiful to listen to)

5. skyping with Drew as I haven’t seen him in a while. It’s always comforting to see a familiar face.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this will be a regular feature, eh? We could all do with a little reminder of some happy times.

I hope you’ve had a wonderful Tuesday,

Heather

Something beautiful

Hi everyone! It’s currently 7.30 pm and I’m already sipping on a gin and tonic. This week has been hectic; I have been working from 8am til 5.30pm (at the earliest) and I’m completely exhausted. I work as a holiday club assistant, and though I love the job, it can be really tiring looking after nearly 20 children from the ages of 6 to 15. Still, it’s an amazing job and despite my lack of energy I’m so grateful to have it. Though kids can be hard work, they’re so lively and vivacious. I long for the days when I’d run in the grass, carefree and clumsy, getting completely and utterly covered in mud and grazes. Children take pleasure in the simplest of things and it’s such a joy to observe.

I’m currently back in my student house attempting to relax. Shortly before my week at work I visited Whitby for a couple of days. There’s something so utterly restorative about the sea. I’m not sure whether it’s the fresh air, its vast beauty or the things that accompany trips to the seaside (chips, ice cream, a kaleidoscope of coloured sticks of rock) but the trip, albeit short, was a thing of beauty and bliss. How I longed to stay. I did take a few pictures though, but be warned because I’m by no means a great photographer. The horizons may be slightly wonky but I tried to capture at least a minuscule glimpse of the beauty of the place. If you’re ever near, I suggest you visit Whitby. It’s a delight.

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I hope you have a relaxing bank holiday weekend, and a peaceful Easter if it’s something you celebrate.

Heather