Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Current Beauty Favourites


Well well well, haven't I been an inconsistent blogger lately! Apologies for my extended hiatus but with college, work, Christmas and everything else in between on the go, I found myself with little to no time to devout to my blog :( Today I'm back with a little spiel about some current favourite makeup gems. The past few months I've discovered some great products I'd like to share with you all. Perhaps this post will give you a little inspiration for a fresh New Years Eve look, or simply to add a few new bits to your makeup collection. Bonus points: most are cheap and cheerful! Without further ado, here are my recent finds. Hope you enjoy :) 

First up is a beautiful new addition to my perfume collection, 034 "Oliva" from the perfume bar, Ydentik, situated at 35 Princes Street Cork. I've spoken of my love for this perfume bar before and "Olivia" is another scent that does not fail to impress. Although I will always remain staunchly loyal to my beloved 212 "Fierceness" (an almost exact replica of Abercrombie & Fitch's,"Fierce"), I have been reaching for "Olivia" very frequently over the past few months. To me, it is vaguely reminiscent of Jo Malone's, "Wood, Sage and Sea Salt" in that it has very fresh top notes but has a certain spicey/woody undertone which gives a slight masculine feel, something I adore in a perfume. I have the 35ml bottle, which is the perfect handbag size and affordable at €14.99. If you bring the bottle back, refills are two euro less, an added bonus :) The staff at Ydentik couldn't be more helpful and can even combine scents to help create your perfect perfume.

 Over to a few base favourites now and first up is Garnier's "Moisture Match Illuminating Light Lotion". I loved this moisturiser from first application. It's non-greasy, fast absorbing and with a subtle but beautiful fresh citrus scent. Enriched with SPF 20, Vitamin E and light reflecting pigments, this product claims to make the skin look more radiant and I really feel it does. I usually apply this twice a day, just before bed and again when I wake up. It's light enough to apply under make up and really enhances whatever foundation you use over it. At around eight euro it won't break the bank either!

Over this moisturiser, I have been applying the Bourjois "Radiance Reveal Healthy Mix" foundation in No. 52, "Vanille", which I think may be my favourite foundation of ALL time (bold statement, I know!) It just gives a beautiful, natural look and gorgeous glow whilst providing a flawless medium coverage. It makes you look like you lead a life of eight or more hours sleep every night without fail, practise yoga every morning and live on a diet of kale, quinoa and goji berries, whilst concealing the truth: excessive caffeine consumption, the fact that one too many celebration tins disappeared over Christmas and a sleep deprived reality! As good as this foundation is, I don't agree that it lasts the 16hrs  it claims and if you have oily skin, I don't think it would be a good match as it does come up very dewy. All in all a winner though!

 For an under eye concealer, I've been loving the Maybelline "Eraser Eyes" in the shade "light". This concealer claims to be anti-aging and certainly does deliver great coverage. Unlike my diet, it actually does contains goji berries!

 Coffee and copper have been a recurring theme in my makeup for the past few months and the products above are the main players! Coffee coloured lips seem to be ubiquitous at the moment and Rimmel's "Coffee Shimmer", combined with their "Cappuccino" liner achieve the look perfectly. The latter is a great dupe for Mac's "Styled In Sepia", but for a fraction of the cost! Jumping on the copper bandwagon, Mac's pigment in the colour "Copper Sparkle" certainly unleashes my inner magpie! It can be applied all over the lid, or simply in the centre of the eye and would, in my opinion create the perfect New Years Eve makeup look! For obvious reasons, it's best to do your eyes before your base when working with this product! It does get a tad messy! Tie the coffee/copper theme together by using some of Revlon's Highlighting Palette in the shade 030 "Bronze Glow", which is a great dupe for Bobbi Brown's Shimmer Bricks.

Another makeup look I've been sporting recently has been Mac's "Heroine" lipstick, a little bit of eyeliner and lashings of mascara! "Heroine" is a bright purple lipstick (as you can see!) and a matte formula, my personal favourite especially if it's a bold colour. It's not actually as scary as it seems in the bullet and looks beautiful on. I've been really liking it lately, especially when I wear it with a light grey turtle neck. What I love about "Heroine" is that it's really versatile; it looks great in winter, but equally I think it would be lovely in summer with a tan and just a white tee shirt.
Being somewhat of an eyeliner newb, I've found that Soap & Glory's "Supercat" eyeliner helps me achieve a semi-presentable cat-eye flick. This cult product stays in place for the whole day and really is a true carbon black. It has a felt-tip style applicator which makes the whole affair a bit easier, although not "foolproof" if like me you're prone to having a bit of an unsteady hand!
For mascara, I've been using  L'Oreal "Miss Manga Punky". A word of warning with this one, it's a bit of a marmite product! The formula is very wet, which can get a tad messy if you don't leave it to dry for a minute or two. What I love about this mascara is the length it gives. It really gives a doll-eyed, wide awake sort of look. Especially when I use it in conjunction with the Maybelline "Lash Sensational Lash Multiplying" mascara it gives such a dramatic effect. I've gotten some lovely compliments lately about my lashes, and "Miss Manga Punky" is certainly the one to thank for that, not my genes!

That's about all for the moment, thank you so much for reading. I hope everybody had a lovely Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year to you all. Thank you to everyone who has supported my little blog since it started. I know I am only a small fish in a very big pond, but I appreciate the support so so much.

Lots of love,
Amy. x

Monday, 26 October 2015

“Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems” (Sadness, Inside Out, 2015)
It’s never easy or enjoyable to write about things that affect you, especially if like me, you’re an intensely private person.  It is however, sometimes necessary. As I have hinted at before in previous blog posts, I’m not the most easy-going humanoid to have ever graced the planet. I have always been a worrier, but there are periods when this becomes greatly intensified. Living in a state of constant anxiety, being so highly charged, is a vulnerable place to be.  Like an exposed cliff, you leave yourself open to erosion. I think in Ireland, there is still a kind of hush hush attitude existing around mental health issues. Whilst pockets of conversation have opened up about depression, anxiety remains somewhat hidden in the shadows. In my opinion there is a wide misconception about anxiety, with many people believing it is synonymous with fear or worry. Coming from someone who gets extremely anxious, believe me, it greatly supersedes worry. I often find it cathartic to read papers pertaining to anxiety and found one definition particularly enlightening. Alan Hunt defines fear as “a realistic anxiety, an immediate response to fear or danger, and anxiety as a non-immediate apprehension”. This illuminates why sometimes the trigger(s) for anxiety may be unclear.  I think the stereotypical British “stiff upper lip” mentality exists in Ireland too, albeit in a less eloquent format! How many times have you reciprocated a question of how you’re doing with the blasé “Era sure I’m grand” response, when often this couldn’t be further from the truth.  I have to give a chuckle when I hear (often but not always) an elderly person talk about a person with depression or anxiety saying, “Poor man his nerves are at him”. This seems so misguided and highlights that as a culture we supress more difficult issues, such as mental health with broad sweeping statements.
With this underlying tension regarding such issues, it makes the subject difficult to broach. When I, on occasion, manage to put my stubbornness aside for five minutes and muster the courage to talk to someone about feeling anxious, I find it difficult to articulate the emotion.  Talking about it makes me more anxious, but equally not talking about it makes me feel like I’m going insane. It’s exceedingly tough to try and vocalise your convoluted thought processes to someone else when often you yourself can’t untangle the web. Overthinking really is a bitch (excuse the language, this blogpost is rated 12A).  The other issue that talking to someone else creates is a fear on their behalf. Whilst I understand that they are wary of saying anything that will further exacerbate your anxiety, “I don’t know what to say to you” is the statement I fear above all else. I’m not looking for sympathy or some miraculous solution, simply reassurance; a reminder that life and emotions are transient. Although this anxiety, a constant noise in my head, will probably never fully disappear, it is comforting to be reminded that calmer periods follow a storm.
October has been one extremely testing month for me, which is what inspired this blogpost.  Primarily, college seemed to get exceedingly difficult out of nowhere. Essay tittles seemed to amplify in complexity and deadlines all fell together. Compounding this was the pressure of the weight of these marks, a treadmill of thought stressing that these marks help to determine what degree I get: DON’T FUCK IT UP, AMY!  replaying in my head 24/7. There was little to no time for breaks and I felt completely frazzled, my brain stretched to its absolute limits.  Feeling overworked is certainly a trigger that heightens my anxiety. It surfaces a fear of underwhelming myself or other people. Although I managed to get all my assignments in on time, this did not serve to quell my anxious mind, as the knowledge that this is only the beginning of the workload began to creep in. Stress in college is only one of the things that heighten my anxiety. Other things may include: conflict, making mistakes, or certain social situations. A lack of sleep has made the situation considerably worse this month. Whilst I have not yet found a method of coping with anxiety, I have found some things that help diminish the feelings of panic. I include them here for the benefit of my fellow nervous nellies:
  • When you’re in a state of panic, try this: Look around you and find five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear and two things you can smell. This is called grounding and certainly helps me when I’m at my worst.
  •  Lavender is your friend. Use and abuse it.
  • Download the Calm app. It’s free and includes a variety of really calming nature sounds, like the beach and the rain. You don’t need internet to use it, which means it’s readily available whenever you need it. It also includes a guided mediation, which isn’t really my cup of tea but it may suit some people.
  • Whilst my cynicism and stubbornness prevents me from engaging with those preachy self-help/change your life type books, I have always been a fan of TedTalks. They seem more normal, more realistic and often help me gain a little perceptive. Below are three  of my favourites:  Hibernate, Adapt or Migrate (Summer Beretsky); Be The Warrior, Not The Worrier (Angela Ceberano) ; The Power of Introverts (Susan Cain)
  • Music serves as an instant de-stressor. I have spoken before about my affinity for Keaton Henson, in particular his orchestral album Romantic Works. Specifically the piece Elevator Song” helps soothe me. Another calming song I play on a loop is “Those Days” by KAASI. Conversely, I find motivational music helps me get out of an anxiety slump where I can often feel useless. I have mentioned their work before, but Public Service Broadcasting really does the job here! My top uplifting tunes from them are: "London Can Take It" , "Spitfire" and "Everest"
I hope this post hasn’t been too rambly, or self-indulgent! I understand that so many people feel this way, which is partly my reason for writing this. Thank you for giving it a read. Until next time,
Amy. x

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Current Favourites
As August closed in and we begin to jump into the chaos that is September, I thought I'd share some of my favourites from the past few weeks. I have to confess that I'm not too sad to see the back of the dismal summer. Whilst the hiatus was reasonably enjoyable, I have to admit the novelty wore off quite quickly for me. I'm a creature of habit and crave routine and the sharpness that it restores in me....I know, WILD, right? ;) Without further ado, I'll crack on with my little discoveries over the past few weeks.
First and foremost, I think we can unanimously agree on the brilliance of US presidential candidate, Donald Trump on the quality of his articulate, intelligent debates of recent times. Not to mention his adulation of women ("slobs", "dogs" etc.) and how this greatly serves the feminist cause....
I am of course being facetious classing Trump as a "current favourite". It seems absolutely laughable that Tump, who's agenda for America seems so misguided, compounded with the fact that he has been forced to declare bankruptcy four times, is actually being considered as a serious contender. In many ways, following the debates he has given has been a guilty pleasure of mine, because there is something quite fascinating about how ludicrous the situation is. It's pretty dire when you can genuinely class his hair as better than the quality of his debate...
Anyway, tangent aside, time to get cracking on my actual current favourites! Fashion wise, my go-to dressy outfit of late has been a co-ord set from Missguided. It features white shorts with a deep red floral embroidery around the border  and a crop top with a split back in the same pattern. I absolutely love this outfit as I think it looks far more expensive than it actually is. The shorts were just €14 with the top coming in at €28 and free delivery to boot. I wore this outfit on a staff night out as well as last night showing my face to Fresher's Week! I decided to pair it with rose gold jewellery as I think it compliments the burgundy detailing well. I simple wore a delicate necklace, a watch from Penneys at €9 and rooted out a suitable clutch.
Now, when it comes to skincare, I have to admit that I'm far too lax. If there's an option to use a face wipe, nine times out of ten I'll give in. I have been marginally better recently however and it's all down to a cleansing oil I've been obsessed with, the Úna Brennan Super Facialist Vitamin C+ Skin Renew Cleansing Oil jeez, that's a mouthful...Full of some really nourishing, natural ingredients, like olive, grapeseed and rosehip oil, this cleanser is a real tonic for the skin and leaves a velvet like texture once removed. I normally don't like the feel of oil products on my skin, but I can put up with this one for the results it gives. When it comes in contact with water it turns into a milky consistency too, so it's pretty bearable! Like the other ranges by Úna Brennan, the Vitamin C+ products really don't disappoint and leave a nice radiant finish. Whilst it is a great make up remover, I have been using a separate cleanser to remove my eye make up, because I do have quite sensitive eyes. For that task, I've been using Lancôme’s Bi-Facil Makeup Remover (a recent present from my legend of a granny!)  This is a bi-phase product, so just needs a bit of a shake before applying some to a cotton pad and using all over the face. I just use this as an eye makeup remover and have absolutely been loving it, because it doesn't sting or cause any redness to flare up around the eyes.
Y'all better let me finish before you deem me as crazy when you hear my next favourite, it's the Nivea Men Post Shave Balm, which I have been using as a primer! Although this sounds very bizarre, it actually kind of makes sense as it contains glycerine, an ingredient in a lot of primers. YouTuber,  NikkieTutorials pioneered this ingenious idea and so many people have followed suit. Last month I decided to jump on the bandwagon and give it a go and I was surprisingly impressed. Not only is it less expensive than a lot of primers, I really felt it made my skin feel more soft and made my makeup go on very evenly. Whilst some people are put off by the notable masculine scent, I actually really like it, although it does not linger long once you apply your makeup. Give it a go if you're in the market for a new primer :)

The stunning beauty blogger and YouTuber, Fleur de Force, has recently launched a false eyelash collection in conjunction with Eylure and the results are uh-mazing! I have tried out the individual lashes and absolutely love them in terms of comfort, wear time and just how natural they look. Undoubtedly individual lashes take a little more time to apply then strip lashes, but they are a lot more lightweight and last much longer. A thumbs up from me!

Another new(ish) favourite collection of mine are the Kate Moss Nude Range from Rimmel available in six shades. I have loved the Kate Moss lipsticks forever and the nude collection certainly didn't disappoint. The shade I have been sporting recently is no. 42, more of a peach toned nude. The formulation of these lipsticks are amazing, really creamy and last a decent length of time. They have a slight sweet smell, but nothing too offensive and the packaging is also b-e-a-utiful, which I know shouldn't matter, but it somehow does! A great price point at €6.99 from Boots as well.

Onto slightly more random favourites now and the star find has to be Choc Shot from Sweet Freedom. Described as "liquid chocolate", I couldn't agree more...this must have been sent from the Gods! I've been putting it on everything from fresh berries to porridge. It's such an enigma to me that this can be categorised as reasonably healthy (the only ingredients are natural fruit extracts; apples, grapes & carob, water, cocoa, rapeseed oil and natural chocolate flavour ) because it tastes like liquidised chocolate brownies.....running to Dunnes this second, I bet? ;)

A second sweet favourite of mine is the Lindt salted caramel dark chocolate. As soon as you open this, the scent of it hits you and there's no turning back! There's just something about that classic sweet/salty combination that just can't be beaten. A necessary purchase to make those soon to be upcoming essay deadlines mildly easier! Speaking of back to college, I also invested in some of the Penneys rubber hair ties, which don't leave a kink in your hair when you take it down #winning #girlboss

The tv series that I binge watched in August was the gripping thriller starring Jamie Dornan and Gillian Anderson, The Fall. Set in Northern Ireland, it centres on a married bereavement counsellor, Paul Spector (Dornan) who appears to have the perfect life, both domestically and professionally. The reality couldn't be more opposite however. Spector is quickly established as a lethal individual who thrives on elaborate killings, always selecting female victims of a similar profile. He continues to avoid detection and his addiction spirals out of control. Each episode of The Fall ends on a cliff-hanger; it's the classic "just one more episode" type series that's well worth a watch. Both Dornan and Anderson prove phenomenal actors and the sub plots and themes picked up throughout the series reflect some of the grievances of the country, abuses in the church, violence in the North etc.
Last, but not least, I've really been loving chilled out music at the moment. Kiiiiinda deep-housey! Check out my top five tunes below:
 That's all from me :) I hope you enjoyed this weeks post and thank you so much for reading,

Monday, 24 August 2015

Music Speaks: Part One
With the risk of sounding cynical, clichéd or old fashioned aside, I have to stick by my guns and confess that the lyrics of most popular songs of the recent decades just don't do it for me. What makes so many songs a hit it appears, is how it's produced; how it's artificially moulded into being a catchy duplicate of last weeks number one. Everything sounds the same, nothing feels authentic, lyrics fade into insignificance. Before I continue, let me clamber off my high horse for a moment and admit that I am only a mere mortal, there are days where I listen to Carly Rae Jepsen, Selena Gomez and Rihanna, or on a bad day all three in succession! I am a complete novice to the technicalities of music, having never taken up an instrument nor able to hold a pleasant note in my life (Don't you just loath those people that insist "Everyone can sing?!") That being said, when I discovered Keaton Henson, a London based musician, several years ago, I instantly fell in love with his music.  For someone who is passionate about language, his lyrics feed the soul. Every word has a poignancy, an elegance and a sincerity brought to life and enhanced by the fragility of Henson's voice. Many people have likened him to the late Jeff Buckley and indeed the two have a notable "hauntingly beautiful" characteristic to their music and distinct voices.
Until I heard Henson's music, I could never really empathise with people who felt 'moved' by music; I was always wowed by the talent of certain musicians and thoroughly enjoyed listening to music, but that was about the extent of it. When I stumbled across "Small Hands" a few years ago, I instantly fell in love with the song. Something about the arrangement of it, the sincerity of the lyrics and the unique voice was my first fix of what was to become a burgeoning addiction. As I listened to more songs from his debut album "Dear", I was not disappointed. They all shared the same raw, pure quality. Many of the tracks have a sombre tone, most having been inspired by a relationship that soured, one which Henson was heavily invested in. Unrequited love is a well hashed theme of so many songs, but Henson's brutal honesty and articulate lyrics makes everything feel very fresh. Critics of his music are quick to tar his albums as a "depression session", but I feel this is an oversimplification. Sadness can often have a certain beauty.
When Henson released his third album last year, I was taken aback to discover it was orchestral. I expected not to like it as much as his two former albums, but was pleasantly surprised to find it is equally as beautiful, equally as moving. I travelled to London to an intimate gig in which Henson performed songs from "Romantic Works" and was moved to tears (it was the smoke machine, I swear!) Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to see him perform in the National Concert Hall in Dublin, where Henson performed songs spanning his three albums and I genuinely think I have a new found appreciation of life! Hehehe! I joke, but it was seriously intense, an amazing night. What makes Henson even more special, is that he suffers from acute anxiety and stage fright; he is unassuming about the immense talent he has and appears to be such an authentic person. He writes and creates for the love of his music and art, not for the fame or the capital. Below are a collection of images inspired by my favourite lyrics from his songs, unedited; just natural like his music :)
Miss your small hands in the palm of mine,
The fact they're good at making,
Miss you sitting up incessantly
And the fact you're always waking in the night
 Work to leave some part of you on this earth
There's something about the simplicity of this lyric that just sticks. It says a lot in just a few words. To me, it could mean simply leaving a legacy of kindness. To leave a legacy of kindness is an amazing thing and should never be underrated. Kindness has such wonderful ramifications, it radiates out from a person which is why this image is inspired by the lyric.

Hold me tight in your arms, give me glimmers of hope,
Do not love me though
One of my favourite of Henson's songs, "Strawbear" articulates the difficulties of allowing oneself to be fully loved, or perhaps committing to someone who you don't truly love. The speaker assumedly sees himself as a teddy bear, unable to be fully functioning in the relationship. The metaphor used is very clever as the teddy connotes affection and warmth, yet it is not a sentient being and cannot reciprocate the love given to it.
My body's weak,
Feel my lungs giving up on me,
I'm worried it might just be
Something my soul needs
 Like the two intertwined branches, sometimes you can get inextricably linked to a person. You build such a connection to them that they almost become a part of you. They become a necessity rather than just a desire.
Does his love make your head spin?
 Of all Henson's songs, this seems the most personal. It addresses the new man of the woman who he was in love with. It's mournful and pining, but at the same time accepting and not spiteful. It's heart-breaking as he details  how well he knew her and how much he loved her.
This stunning piece of music is my favourite track from Henson's orchestral album. It has a slow build and becomes very uplifting. Anytime I listen to it, I become quite reflective. To me, the song is about growth and positivity, about moving upwards.
I do hope you have enjoyed this week's post. Thank you so much for reading (well done if you made it to the end!)
Love always,

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Awkward Turtle Alert


This week I confess that I have found myself enveloped in a feeling of inadequacy; unshakable and corrosive. Author Dorris Lessing once said “when writing about oneself one is writing about others”, which is why I feel it may be cathartic for me as well as possibly beneficial to others to articulate this feeling of inadequacy. For some unbeknownst reason I have always drilled into myself the idea that speaking to somebody else about your worries and those subterranean issues/anything deeper than trivial conversation to be weak. Although I know this is a standard I only employ for myself and would never label anyone else as less than for reaching out to another, it remains immensely difficult for me to follow suit. Old habits die extremely hard, which is why I am using the outlet of my blog as a personal pensieve.

Newton’s third law tells us every action has an equal and opposite reaction, so what caused this feeling of dissatisfaction to descend over me like a very grey and unwanted cloud? Well my fellow socially awkward turtles, it was of course a series of social gatherings. I want to preface this by explaining that whilst I would definitely class myself as an introvert, this does not mean that I am incapable of being an outgoing person on occasion. I can only speak for myself and what I find accelerates my anxiety and sometimes this in itself can be a murky issue to define. Sometimes I will find myself getting anxious in a social situation I envisaged as being unproblematic, other times events that I dread turn out to be perfectly fine and enjoyable. Amongst friends and a certain network of people who I click with, I think I am very outgoing and chatty, but frequently when I’m around new people, people I haven’t seen in a long time, or people whom I deem superior to me, I withdraw into my little turtle shell. When I get like this, I feel paralysed. I fear I come across as disinterested or dismissive when in reality I’m internally panic stricken. I often think of anxiety as like being in a car that accelerates from 0-100 in five seconds; blitzing down a motorway when you’re not even in the driver’s seat and feeling completely out of control.  I know there will be people reading this that really cannot empathise with the feeling at all. To those pure extraverts, my anxiety and the feeling of inadequacy that often ensues is an anomaly, like when people tell me they don’t find Friends funny or don’t like Stephen Fry; it simply cannot be comprehended. On the odd occasion I have tried explaining why I find some social situations difficult, it’s reciprocated with a non-committal shrug of the shoulder and a clichéd “Ah these situations are all part of life” type phrase, which only serves to further exacerbate my feeling of frustration towards myself. Why can’t I just get over it and not care about what people think?

In the space of a week, I found myself in numerous situations where I felt awkward and uncomfortable. An unexpected situation arose whereby extended family where all gathered together and the inevitable “so what are you doing with yourself?” type questions ensued. I immediately felt talentless, dull and painfully self-conscious. As I have gotten older, I seem to have lost the ability to small talk. I find it absurdly difficult to talk about myself to new people or acquaintances, instead I do my best to quiz them about themselves and often feel like I’m grasping at straws in an attempt not to look idiotic. My social ineptitude felt further highlighted when I looked around the room at the ease at which others seemed to converse. In particular I paid attention to the confidence some of my female relatives had. Everything just appeared so effortless, their beauty, their demeanour and their ability to express an opinion without fear of judgment or worrying about looking stupid. Is this profound confidence a gift from birth or is it FedExd to you on your 21st birthday in a box with a red ribbon? If the latter is true, I’d like to request priority posting on mine, please.

I think perhaps the worst part is the personal ramifications after these social events. The anxiety lingers even when I am removed from the discomfort of the event. Even though I know it is futile, I find myself replaying the situation over and over and over in my head. Dissecting every minute and beating myself up over perceived stupid remarks I may have passed, or scolding myself for not making enough of an effort to converse; I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

I’m afraid this post is lacking in the inspiration department, but if I crack the code on how to master these social situations, I shall let my fellow awkward turtles know ;) Perhaps this blog post is the first step to success, admitting that I have a problem! Perhaps like the old story of the turtle and the hare, us awkward turtles will finish first in the race to becoming a contented, carefree socialite ;)

Until next Monday,

Love always, Amy. x

Monday, 27 July 2015

Snack Attack!
This week's post is three really speedy, really simple snack ideas to keep hunger at bay. It's no secret that I have a major sweet tooth, so two of the three are splendidly saccharine ;) If a Buddy the Elf style diet is something you too could conform to, then I have got you covered! Fortunately, these three recipes are actually healthy to boot. The first is a homemade Nutella (yes, you read that correctly!), a deliciously creamy banana ice-cream and homemade  almond butter that will save you a fortune. Switch on your inner Nigella and keep reading for the details!
Homemade Nutella
I dread to think how many jars of Nutella I have polished off in my twenty years...it simply is a staple in my life. When I came across a recipe for homemade Nutella by food blogger and author, Ella Woodward, I was instantly intrigued and wary in equal measure. Intrigued because I was in awe at the thought of having the power to make it myself (I thought such an ambrosial product could only be crafted by seven angels, precisely three squirrels and formed only at the full moon :P) Wary, because I was expecting to be underwhelmed, unable to reach the level of perfection of the afore mentioned Nutella Gods. I was staggeringly impressed when I decided to give it a go. Dare I say it, it's even nicer than the shop bought one! The recipe is taken from the book (my bible!) Deliciously Ella. I have been reading her blog for years and purchased her book about a year ago, raving to friends and family about it. All the recipes are super tasty and don't really require any wacky ingredients that you use once and then it's at the back of your cupboard forevermore! Plus, she's an absolute babe and never ever comes across as preachy or condescending to her readers. Below are the three ingredients for her Nutella recipe.
2 mugs hazelnuts (375g)
1/2 mug maple syrup (150ml)
3 tablespoons raw cacao powder
Preheat your oven to about 200 degrees (180 for fan). Bake the nuts for about ten minutes, this not only enhances the flavour but also makes them easier to blend. When they cool, whizz in a food processor until they totally break down and add the cacao and maple syrup. When these are combined, gradually add 150ml of water...and that's it! The recipe makes a large jar and is perfect on toast, rice cakes or on apple slices.
Banana Ice-Cream
WHERE HAS THIS BEEN ALL MY LIFE?! (my thoughts the first time after making this!) Jokes aside, if you haven't tried this, do give it a go. It's so simple, I feel a bit pathetic calling it a recipe! All you need for the basic version is frozen bananas. Two per person is normally an ideal quantity. Simply chop them up and place in freezer bags overnight. Whizz them in a food processor to create banana ice-cream. It really is the most wondrous piece of wizardry I have ever experienced! The frozen bananas break down into a really thick, creamy consistency and taste delicious. You can create so many flavours, yet the basic version is just as nice. Add cacao for a chocolate ice-cream, frozen raspberries for a berry alternative, or go mad and make three batches; a plain, chocolate and berry to create a Neapolitan masterpiece! Fresh mint or a vanilla pod are also great options. It's also a great way to use up bananas that may be getting over-ripe. Like my compadres, Kevin, Bob and Stuart, I'm a little banana obsessed and what could be better than them in ice-cream form?
Below, I created a cinnamon version, just by adding a teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the frozen banana mixture when they were fully blended and then blitzing for two seconds. On top, I added a chopped naked bar, a dash of sweetener and a dollop of almond butter and it was life changing!
Almond Butter
Last but certainly not least is another staple in my life, my beloved almond butter (side note: if you pronounce the 'l' in 'almond', sort your life out, it's silent!) This couldn't be easier to make, but does require serious willpower not to demolish in one sitting *throws awkward shifty look. All that's needed is almonds and rock salt and it tastes exactly like the Meridian one, but for a fraction of the cost. If you haven't tried almond butter, but you think you won't like it because you don't like peanut butter, give it a go. It's a much more subtle flavour; I don't really like peanut butter, but adore almond butter! It's perfect on toast, rice cakes or, my particular favourite, on sliced pink lady apples or on dates (don't knock it until you try it!)
A 150g bag of almonds makes a small jar, but you can make this in big batches if you wish. it will store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. To make, simply pour the almonds onto a baking tray and bake at roughly 180 degrees for about five-six minutes (if making 150g. Increase time slightly if making a larger quantity). Add a sprinkling of any rock salt you want to the food processor and when the nuts are cool add and blend until smooth.

I do hope you have enjoyed this week's post. Until next Monday,

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Three Ways to Style a Maxi Skirt
So recently I did something remarkably brave in my books.....I risked wearing a maxi skirt despite being somewhat vertically challenged! I've loved maxi skirts for ages and purchased one from Boohoo last year but never wore it. I always thought you had to be a 5'9 Glamazonian to pull one off, or risk looking Amish. I think if you're on the shorter side, it's better to wear a maxi skirt on your waist rather than on your hips, to elongate your legs and make you appear taller. I particularly love this one from Boohoo for €11 because it's really comfortable to wear and the contrasting waistband is quite flattering. I have it in grey, but it comes in a variety of colours :) Have a look here. I don't claim to be particularly fashionable at all, but here are three ways I've styled mine over the past few weeks.
Look #1

Top-Topshop Skirt-Boohoo Sunglasses-Penneys
Here I've styled the maxi skirt down, pairing it with a simple scalloped tee from Topshop and a pair of Converse. I love Topshop basics because they're always made of really comfortable fabrics and look effortlessly cool. I also think one of those contrasting varsity style t-shirts with the contrasting piping at the collar and sleeves would be really cool with this look :)
Look  #2

Top-Topshop Skirt-Boohoo Heels-Penneys
To dress the skirt up, I've teamed it with some peep toe orange sandals and a plain string crop top, again from Topshop. I wore all gold jewellery, with a statement bangle and a dainty necklace. Especially when worn with a tan, this look has a kind of a tropical feel to it, even if you're only in Costa Del Cork ;)
Look #3
Top-River Island Skirt-Boohoo
For more of a sophisticated oh you think you fancy look try adding a delicate blouse, a red lip and a soft up-do. This outfit was inspired by the ever flawless Emma Watson, as she wore something very similar to an event last year:
That's all for this week, thank you for reading and I do hope you enjoyed. Until next Monday,

Monday, 13 July 2015

Get Ready With Me

One of my closest friends turns 21 tomorrow, so to celebrate we all went out last Saturday. This week's post is a get ready with me, detailing everything I wore to transform me from a drab duckling to a more sophisticated signet (quite the Wordsworth, I know!). Just think Princess Mia's Paol-over in The Princesses Diaries ;)

Rewind to the night before, where I tried to get a bit of a faux-glow going on using the Cocoa Brown "One hour Tan Mousse". As an avid tanner, I'm definitely late to the game with this cult product. This was only my second time using this tan and I have to say I'm quite impressed. I do prefer the Rimmel "Sun Shimmer Self Tan Mousse", but Cocoa Brown does the job too and is quite long-lasting. It generally lasts about 5-6 days on my skin and once applied with a mitt is completely streak free. I also like that it gives different depths of colour, i.e. wash off after one hour for a subtle glow, after two for more substantial colour, or after three for more intensity. On this occasion, I opted for more of a deeper colour because it was somewhat of a special occasion and because the colour of the dress I was wearing was quite pale. I also decided to give my makeup brushes a long overdue speedy clean, using the PS Love This "Makeup Brush Cleanser". This gem was only €2.50 from Penneys a few weeks ago and it gets the job done very quickly! I also used some conditioner to keep the bristles soft and let them to air-dry overnight, ready to use for the next day.

So for makeup, all of this went onto my face! Check it out:

I'm not a professional makeup artist by any stretch of the imagination, so take what I'm saying in this section with a generous pinch of salt! I wanted to go for a natural look makeup-wise to in keep with the soft, feminine vibe of the dress. To achieve a nice glow to the skin, I used one of my favourite foundations, Lancôme's "Teint Miracle" in the shade 01. This foundation claims to immediately brighten the complexion to deliver a fresher, more flawless look and also offers some sun protection with an SPF 15. I love the result it gives, certainly a brighter dewier look, however I know isn't for everyone. I have combination skin so love the radiance this makeup delivers, but if you lean more towards the oily side, I would say definitely avoid! It does not give a matte finish at all! The coverage of this foundation is very good, I would say medium and quite buildable. I didn't use any primer on this occasion, just used two pumps of the foundation and blended it in using the Bobbi Brown "Full Coverage Face Brush". I've been using this brush to apply my makeup for about two years and it's served me very well! It evens everything out and certainly speeds up makeup application because of its large surface area. Also the bristles are so soft, so it's a dream to use :)

 I set that in place using Bourjois' "Healthy Balance Powder" before moving on to contouring. To add some slight definition to the face, I used my trusty Sleek "Face Form Contour Kit" in Light. This trio is a great three in one to define the face using the matte bronzer, a beautiful pearlescent highlighter to use on the cheekbones and then a gorgeous deep pink blush with subtle flecks of gold with delivers a really natural looking hint of colour and warms up the face. For a bit more illumination, I also used my Mac Vanilla Pigment, just under the brow bone and in the inner corners. The Mac pigments are really versatile and can be used to highlight, as an eye shadow or even a tiny amount mixed in with a lip balm to give a sheen to the lips. They also last a seriously long time and a little goes a long way (I've had my one for about two years and plan on having it for another twenty two!) To fill in my eyebrows, I used the shade, "Faint" shade from one of the Urban Decay palettes and also the Rimmel "Brow This Way" in the darkest shade but applying it very lightly and just at the end of the eyebrow for a more natural look. Even though I'm blonde, I always opt for darker eyebrow shades as I find the lighter ones have such a warm tone to them and always end up looking ginger once applied! I applied a thin line of eyeliner and some mascara, before adding some false lashes. For lips I used a combination that I've been obsessed with lately; Mac lip liner in the shade "Dervish" and "Twig" as my lipstick. This one is such a wearable colour, as if applied lightly it gives that clichéd, but true result, "your lips but better" and if applied more opaquely adds a lovely deep pinky/brown hue and warms up the complexion. I used just a hint of Clarins "Instant Light Lip Perfector" in the shade 01 "Rose Shimmer" just to the centre of the lips to add a slight sheen....and voila, that's makeup done!

 I  kept my hair and nails very simple, just running my BaByliss "2285U Curling Wand" through the ends for a bit of softness and applying a few coats of Essie's "Neo Whimsical" to my nails. As a topcoat I used Sally Hansen's "Miracle Cure, which is just a clear nail strengthening treatment. When I can actually be bothered to rob this off my mum and apply it, I actually find it makes a difference. My nails are a bit pants and are always breaking, but this stuff actually gives them a bit of strength! I'm actually really impatient when it comes to doing my nails, so I'll go to any lengths to get them to dry a millisecond faster *queue vigorous dancing to Eye of the Tiger ;) The Essence "Express Dry Spray" might just be a bit of a placebo effect, but I do think it helps!

The dress I wore was a one I picked up in the Zara sale a few weeks ago for around thirty euro. It kind of has a Yoko Ono vibe to it, which I like :) It's still available on the website.


*Friends were recruited via the pink pages.

Thank you for reading, I do hope you enjoyed! Until next Monday,


Monday, 6 July 2015


                                                          90's Throwback

Through a child's eyes the world is a playground; life is laughter and merriment. An assemblage of comical and bizarre anecdotes is distinctly associated with the word childhood for me; a word with such joyful connotations even to think it provokes an infectious smile. Being a 90's child, this week I've been reminiscing about what kind of books, films, music and activities I enjoyed whilst growing up and thinking about all the questionable fashion choices I made (most notably plastic 'high' heels in a variety of garish hues). I've had a ball letting my inner child lose for the week and jumping on the 90's express train. Have a read for a complete blast from the past!

A plethora of amazing books, films and music kick-start nostalgia for my childhood and I've been delving into some this week! The works of Enid Blyton, in particular The Famous Five, were a staple during my early years. I loved immersing myself in the world of Julian, Dick, Anne, George and of course Timmy the dog in the adventures they would get up to and hung on my father's every word as he narrated them in his colourful voice. There is something very comforting in recalling the stories you were read as a child, like catching up with an old friend you haven't seen in years. The familiarity is soothing. Later on the works of Noel Streatfield and of course the hallmark novels of the decade, Harry Potter, captivated my attention and fuelled my love of language from an early age.

Of course a post about the 90's would be nothing without some seriously cringey music that you hate to love! "90's music" and "guilty pleasures" are pretty much synonymous and this week has been a continuous stream of  Destiny's Child, Usher and N-Sync. The playlist I've been blaring was created by bloggers Anna Gardner and Lily Pebbles entitled "Anna and Lily's Teenage Throwback"; too good not to check out!

When it comes to my favourite films, Mrs Doubtfire is a tough one to knock off the top spot. It really exemplifies Robin Williams at his comedic best, a blend of witty one liners, flaming intelligence and just the right amount of slapstick. I've seen it so often I can practically recite the entire film off, yet it still doesn't lose its charm. It also recalls some amazing evenings spent with one of my best friends which makes it extra special.

If there are two things that taste like my childhood (aside from sand-laden baguettes at the beach!) it's Angel Delight and Coke floats! No birthday was complete without Angel Delight, so artificial and brightly coloured it was but so delicious. This week has taught me that some things never change....my affinity for the bizarre magic powder has not faded!

Most of my youth was spent outdoors playing rounders, "Tip the Can", "Hide and Seek" or "Stuck in the Mud". There was nothing quite like the exhilaration of running around in the fresh air with friends, throwing oneself into these so-called 'games' with a fervent passion, believing their outcome was of the upmost importance. This week I recruited some of the troops to come and look daft with me...it has to be done sometimes!

Finally, as far as outfits went this week I've been indulging my toddler fantasies and wearing everything from scrunchies to whimsical frilly socks! When I think of 90's fashion, I immediately think double-denim, as sported by Britney and Justin circa 2001. The trend needn't be that tragic however, if you mix the tones of denim. Here I'm wearing a Topshop denim waistcoat from their vintage range and a New Look high waited skirt.

Grunge is another trend that springs to mind when you think 90's. Doc Martens, crop tops and check shirts help give the pretence of "cool", even if like me you're far from it ;)

That's all folks!
I do hope you enjoyed. Until next Monday,
                                                                 Amy. x