Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Photoshopping about

Evidence that cabin-fever has struck.
Christmas time, family obligations paired with illness has meant that I have rather more time on my hands than expected. So apparently, when this occurs, I set out and try to acquire a new skill. I have had Photoshop loaded on my mac for ages, but really don't use it to its greatest capacity. Cropping and merging outfit photos pretty much represents my technical knowledge of the program, so recently I have been trying to broaden my understanding and experiment with some more techniques.
There are loads of tutorials on the tintaweb and I literally found out how to do the above by googling. I am still very much a novice but it is one of my new year's resolutions to become more competent with Photoshop and fashion some jazzy images. 

In other news, I am back to work tomorrow and am strangely relishing the thought of embracing a routine again. Late nights, even later mornings and eating food at anytime o'clock is all very well, but I am quite looking forward to regaining a sense of regularity again. This odd time in between Christmas and New Year feels like a week of Sundays and I am a habitual soul.
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Monday, 27 December 2010

Motto Monday

This photo is particularly poignant for several reasons. The mug was a Christmas present which I absolutely love. Mugs and mottos, two of my favourite things combined together in sweet, tea-beholding harmony. 

Secondly, today has been the first day since last Tuesday that I have been actually able to appreciate any of the above. All sensory pleasures have been severely lost over the past week due to a heady flu-like cold that has seriously made my Christmas rather dismal. Today is the first day that I have vaguely felt human again, and have been able to enjoy a belated festive feast. I don't wish to sound ungrateful, Christmas has still been wonderful for me as I have had family, warmth and lovely gifts to contend with, but I do feel sad that I had to spend Christmas eve in bed with a box of tissues and some VapoRub for company whilst all the seasonal jovialities could be heard beneath me. 

Whilst in a semi-comatosed state on the sofa, I have been watching the news and have been left dumb-founded at the scenes on Oxford Street and various shopping centres across the country, with the hoards of shoppers bracing themselves for the Boxing Day sales. I don't know if it is just me, but sales shopping does not instil an inch of excitement within me, more fear and trepidation if I am honest. I cannot think of anything I would want that much to pull me from the welcoming wonder of my house and make me trudge in the cold to queue and be barged left, right and centre just to save myself x amount on some more clutter I really don't need.

I am hoping to feel a lot cheerier tomorrow and plan to venture to my boyfriend's family for a Christmas gathering of sorts. I have hardly seem him over the Christmas break due to the heinous way I have been feeling, so it will be nice to take a drive over there, and go for a walk with the dogs and get some fresh air. His family have a lovely, yet mischievous dog called Milly which causes the utmost chaos whenever myself and said dog occupy the same place, as I never know whether it is me or the dog that is being instructed to sit down or stop barking!

I hope you have all had a glorious Christmas. 
A few to follow: Natalie, Kim and Lucy.
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Friday, 24 December 2010

twas the night before Christmas . . .

...when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

Dear All
I would just like to wish you, all my readers, a very special Christmas time. Whatever festival or celebration you may be observing, I truly hope it is filled with merriment, peace and happiness. I hope, in the midst of this frantic snow flurry we have experienced here in England, everyone has managed to get home for Christmas and can enjoy all the delights that the Yuletide, mince pies and the obligatory game of Charades. 
Thank you for all your support, kindness and forever sweet comments. You have made my first blogging year a joyful experience, and I wish you all the best of Christmas fun and fare.

So...there is nothing else really left to say, other than...

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"
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Thursday, 23 December 2010

Treating Your Tresses: Part 3

Freshly emerged from the shower, having winkled out the remnants of my current hair treatment, I thought it was high time I updated you all on the third and final product I have been trialling in my 'treating your tresses' series. I have previously reviewed the Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Extreme and a Shu Uemura Art of Hair Smoothing Treatment Mask.  The first being quite a disappointment, the latter bringing me and my hair much joy and delight! The final product to meet my tresses test was Kerastase Nutritive Oleo-Relax smoothing masque.

Kerastase have an applaudable army of products specifically targeted to treat all hair types and needs. This treatment comes from their Nutritive range. I personally love the garish tangerine packaging, and the colour co-ordinated treatment to boot. Your senses tell you that this product should smell sweetly of oranges and such, but it doesn't! It is pretty much fragrance-free.

This smoothing masque sets out to discipline dry, frizzy, unmanageable hair (aka my barnet) and it boasts anti-frizz properties to protect your hair from humidity-induced frizz and unmanageability. This treatment contains glucose, lipids and proteins for dry, sensitised hair, and promises to replenish hair with softness and suppleness for incredible shine.

The treatment has a lovely rich consistency and a real luxurious feel to it. I have been using it once or twice every week and have definitely felt a difference. I feel it has worked wonders on my mane, caressing my hair and leaving it silky soft. In particular, I have noticed an improvement in the condition of the ends of my hair and with this treatment, and the Shu Uemura, I have found the mission of blow-drying my barnet has been severely alleviated. My hair seems less frizzy and is left feeling smoother after styling.

So here is the final ranking.

3rd place - Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Extreme
2nd place - Kerastase Nutritive Oleo-Relax Smoothing Masque
and the winner is, without a shadow of doubt, Shu Uemura Art of Hair Shusu Sleek Treatment Mask

So there we go!
 I hope these reviews have helped you if you were contemplating any of these products. 
Let me know what hair treatments are your faves.
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Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The cream of the crop

I have been meaning to get around to posting this review for a while now, but I have been somewhat distracted by the snow and all the connotations it brings with it. Failing light being one of them. Winter time blogging is quite a bane and an ever pressing challenge to pounce upon any glimmer of light to take your required photos.
So finally, I can bring you my review on these two Liz Earle products I have recently been using.

The 'hand repair' hand cream is a wonderfully conditioning and richly-scented cream that really does offer relief to dry, cracked hands. This product is suitable for all skin types and is laced with Echinacea, hops and natural vitamin E. I would like to consider myself somewhat of a hand cream connoisseur. I do suffer from dry skin on my hands, and also troublesome cuticles, so have developed a rather unsettling addiction to applying and reapplying hand cream at any given opportunity.
I would say this hand cream falls into my top 3, along with Soap & Glory Hand Food and The Body Shop's Hemp Hand Cream. The treatment is not at all greasy and sinks in within seconds, which is a necessity when busily typing at my desk. I have also noticed a marked improvement in the condition of my nails and cuticles, and I personally love the zesty, slightly menthol aroma of the hand cream.  

The Body Cream is from Liz Earle's Superskin range, and sadly, I didn't love this product quite as much as I had hoped I would. Shea butter, organic rosehip oil and cranberry seed oil are but a few of the essences which make up this ultra-rich body cream, which promises to transform lacklustre skin into skin that is visibly smooth, plump and supple.
This cream is specifically dedicated to mature and/or very dry skin. Although I suffer from dry hands, the rest of me is rather well-conditioned, so I felt this cream was a little too heavy and rich for my liking. With such a dense concentration, it required some seriously committed massaging to allow the product to sink in completely. I ceased with the full body application, but I now specifically use this product for the conditioning of certain dry areas such as my elbows. Due to its concentration, you only need a small blob, so this product will definitely last a fair length of time. 

I would love to hear your views if you have tried either of these products, or are tempted to give them a whirl. I hope my review has been of some help, and as always, you can peruse the Liz Earle website for these products and many more...
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Monday, 20 December 2010

Motto Monday

Three wonderful cities I have had the pleasure to frequent, on one or many an occasion.
Being but a hop, skip and a train ride away, London is my haven and a place that I never tire of. I was there on Saturday, frantically finalising the finishing touches to my Christmas shopping. I have never actually been in Central London, underneath the twinkly lights in December when the snow has been falling and actually settling. So when we naively emerged from Oxford Street tube, inappropriately dressed for such a flurry, we were rather enraptured by the romantic notions of this wintertime blessing. This hand in hand feeling lasted from about Topshop to the corner of Carnaby Street until we both discovered that our fashion footwear was anything but waterproof. Soggy socks syndrome had struck.

Paris is only a fleeting memory for me, as I was taken there on a whistle stop visit by my father en route to Disneyland, a place I seemed to have much more of a veritable interest in as a ten year old or what not. I would like to return to Paris just to cast my own judgement on the capital. It is the type of place that is laced in such splendour, romantic nuances and iconic hints, I would love to experience its finesse as well as uncover the hidden, darker sides of the city.

New York, New York...those who have been reading my blog for many months will recall that Sophie and I were whisked off to the Big Apple early this year courtesy of Sleek Make up and Sophie's unbelievable bowling talent. Previously I had been acquainted with New York on the turn of my 18th birthday and I believe it was love at first sight, smell and beep of an inpatient taxi driver's horn.

This Monday Motto just made me think of all the places I have been and all the realms which I still yearn to go and discover...
Tell me about your favourite places. Oh and also, I am going to open up the 'few to follow' forum to you. So feel free to leave your link, or endorse any other blogs you think I may like, and you could be appearing on Motto Monday next week.
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Sunday, 19 December 2010

hot off the press

I just wanted to share with you a rather nice discovery I made this weekend regarding a certain glossy and a lovely fellow blogger.
Sammi, the girl behind Beauty Crush, is someone I have had the pleasure of meeting quite a few times at various events, and she honestly is a truly genuine, gorgeous girl. Therefore, a little squeal did emit when I saw her beaming face on page 100 of this month's Company magazine. 

Sammi was (tweet)interviewed by Company about all aspects of her blog, the wonderful opportunities it has brought, as well as make up tips and trends. It is a fabulous little piece and I feel particularly enamoured with it as Samantha mentions my blog and twitter within the article, as well as some other wonderful bloggers.

So really, this is just to say, thank you to Sammi, and if you are not au fait with her blog, then you can go and pay her a visit here.
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Tuesday, 14 December 2010

especially fur you

Last Saturday night posed a tricky conundrum! It was chilly, to say the least, but I was due to grace the town with my presence and celebrate festive tidings with my hockey team. Now I am not one of those girls that can flit out the door wearing next to nothing in sub-zero conditions. I see them scantily gallivanting around and a maternal air overwhelms me and I just want to wrap them up in a big coat and mittens and ply them with horlicks.
I therefore required some warmth up top, to conceal the goosebumps in between the bar-hopping. I unearthed this (faux) fur coat which I purchased circa 2004 from Miss Selfridge I do believe...
Asides from being rather chuffed it still fitted my no longer 18 year old frame, I was just thankful to have something snug to wrap up in, before embarking out into the chill. All my other coats and jackets were just exasperating me, either too formal, too scruffy or their total inadequacy to keep me warm.

I do love fur coats, and cannot help but give them a little stroke whenever I walk past them in a shop...just me??
I now have my eyes on this little number please (if it ever comes back in stock)

The other elements of my outfit:
top: H&M - skirt: H&M - Jewellery: Accessorize
Hair thanks to the O and a little side pinning.

Do you find wintertime outerwear a bit of a chore?
Are you a fan of the faux fur?
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Monday, 13 December 2010

Motto Monday

Tea really is the nectar of angels. I wish I could express the wonderment that is the humble cuppa, but the connotations of tea, and everything it stands for, are far too exuberant. 
For me, tea punctuates my day. It rises with me in the morning, greets me at work whilst trawling through my emails, comforts me through the 3 o'clock slump and kisses my forehead goodnight as I slip into a slumber. 
It always makes me chortle when you watch soaps and regardless of whatever devastating and life-destroying event may have just occurred, "let's put the kettle on" always seems to be the next logic step in regaining some sense of understanding and stability; echoing the cup of tea's almost medicinal qualities.
I'm a milk, no sugar kind of girl.

In other news, I have joined the masses and am running the daily gauntlet of sharpened elbows and unpredictable prams; I have commenced my Christmas shopping! Every year I confess to myself I will be organised and have everything wrapped up and smugly nestled under the tree by 1st December. Every year I fail. However, watching the hoards undertaking their Christmas shopping missions always saddens me slightly. I love Christmas as much as the next over-excitable soul, but sometimes the commercialism of the festival can just overwhelm me, and it makes me want to digress to a simpler and more peaceful time. I have very much been enjoying Kirstie's Homemade Christmas. I find it so sweet and humbling and I love the way she explores the crafty delights and inventive, rudimentary fashions to create some sincere and bespoke gifts this yuletide.
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Sunday, 12 December 2010

It's a mini adventure

A secret love of mine, after lipstick, tea and lace dresses, is motors. Mini cars to be precise. I am a little car geek at heart and just adore swooning over anything shiny and sporting the iconic mini badge. My love halts at mere admiration and I am not proposing I can willy-nil-lily purchase a car like I purchase lipstick.
It was after catching glimpses of The Italian Job, Christmas circa 2006, that I decided I was destined to motor one of these darlings around and sourced myself this little gem decked out sufficiently to make even Michael Caine proud of its classic resonance.

You spy the fluffy dice?
I loved this car dearly, it was the perfect, fun form of transportation I was harbouring after. Four merry, tooting-terrific years we spent together, through the bumpy times and rocky moments, icy corners and sun-striken streets, we were inseparable. Four years on, and although my adoration for the mini had only but blossomed amply, I fancied a change. 

Yesterday, I became the proud owner of Bertie. A beautiful, new, classic addition to my mini adventure. This car was firstly a cloud of romanticised imagery in my head, before he was immortalised into my very own motor a month later. The fabulous thing about minis are their sheer brilliance and ability to encapsulate a character, feeling or inspiration and the sky is the limit with the design and features. I had this idealised picture-postcard image in my head of picnic hampers, capri pants and a headscarf flimsily being teased in the wind, cocooned by the smell of cracked brown leather seats. 
Et voila...

Needless to say, this weekend will predominately be festooned with any excuse to take an excursion out in my new jalopy, just with the open roads and my chihuahua car freshener for company! Bliss.
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Wednesday, 8 December 2010

O my

Introducing...the O from Cloud Nine.
An innovation in professional styling, giving you volume, curls and waves simply and quickly.
This space-age looking bit of refinery is truly remarkable and I shall tell you for why.

This simplicity of this contraption is part of its uniqueness. You literally plug the pod in, flick the switch and you are good to go. Take the roller of choice and pop it into the O. There will be a slightly murmur and a faint whirling whilst it heats up the roller and then beep, beep, beep, DONE! The clever induction heat technology of the O has taken the roller from 0 degrees to 130 degrees in less that 4 seconds. The pod itself doesn't heat up so when you put your hand in, you are indifferent to any heating reaction having taken place.
The rollers heat from the core so they won't feel too hot in the hand, but will continue to heat up and reach their optimum temperature whilst they are in your hair, leaving you free of any burnt fingers.
Each roller has a heat indication spot which glows red when hot, and subsides to black when cooled so you know exactly when they are ready for removal.

It is important to note at this point that only the special Cloud Nine rollers can be used in conjunction with the O. The rollers come in five different sizes:- 60mm, 50mm, 40mm, 30mm, 20mm. All bar the 50mm are pictured above. Each set contains 4 rollers. They are soft grip so hold in the hair without any extra securing required, although you couldn't use grips anyway due to their solid core.

The O comes with a handy instructions guide, perfect for those who may not have experienced using rollers before...that would be me then! Back in June I attended the launch of the O so was lucky enough to see it in action. I therefore had a fairly good idea how best to approach it, but practice really does make perfect. These pictures probably best demonstrate how to implement the rollers to achieve the fabulous results.
A few things I noted, less hair, more rollers is key. I clumsily dived straight in and tried securing one chunky bit of hair around one roller and failed miserably. The width of the section of hair you take should mimic the size of the roller, and you will get better results if you take smaller pieces, as then the roller stays put better and the heat can penetrate the entirety of the hair. 
I must confess that I did encounter difficulty keeping the rollers secured in my hair. They didn't come out but I didn't feel they were completely rigid in my hair either. I think it is something I need to work out and again, it is all down to the amount of hair you wrap around the roller. I certainly couldn't jump up and down on my bed whilst crooning into my hairbrush once my rollers were in, so I grabbed my nail file and waited...

This is a rather messy demonstration of some of the rollers adorning my barnet. Once in, the rollers will continue to heat up, therapeutically warming your head and then begin to cool down. The actual technique of creating your desired curl/waves/bit of oomph all comes in the cooling process. It is therefore paramount that you ensure the rollers are fully cooled before removing them. I leave them in for about 20 minutes, but you will know they are cooled by the heat indication returning to black. To remove the rollers, simply reverse the ravelling technique you used to pop them in.
Obviously the varying sizes of the rollers will create an array of waves and curls in your hair. The smaller the roller, the tighter and more 'corkscrew' your curl will be. The bigger, barrel rollers will leave your hair bouncy and gently wavy. 
I tend to mix up the rollers and just randomly place them throughout my hair to allude a haphazard waterfall of waves and curls. It works perfectly on heavily layered hair like mine.

So here is the bit that will make your toes curl if nothing else.
The O is available from Cloud Nine Hair and retails at £149.95.
The rollers need to be purchased separately and range from £15.95 - £18.95 for a pack of four.
However, with Christmas fast approaching, you could always ask Santa for The Gift of Christmas Volume.

This product is not something you need, but something you will want. I have never used 'normal' rollers before so cannot draw a comparison in regards to the results and simplicity to use, but I think the O offers groundbreaking technology mixed with a sleek, professional aura and a luxurious quality which delivers some really gorgeous results with the utmost simplicity.

What are your thoughts on the O?
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Wednesday, 1 December 2010

ipulse event

Last month myself, along with a handful of beauty bloggers, were summoned to the exquisite surroundings on the Mayfair Hotel in London, to attend a rather enlightening event with a twist hosted by iPulse, the clever creators of the iPulse Smooth Skin.
(For those who may not be aware, the iPulse Smooth Skin system is intense pulsed light (ipl) home-use device for the permanent reduction of unwanted face and body hair. I have been using the system and have churned out several posts reviewing the marvellous machine)

So there we were all gathered, tucking into the treasured titbits and slurping the rather sumptuous champagne, whilst mulling over the bane of hair removal whilst regaling our varying experiences we have had with the iPulse system.

Enjoying a catch up and quaff of bubbles with Fleur.

The whole point of this assembly was to give us an opportunity to question/grill the iPulse experts behind the hair removal zapping machine, including the CEO Scott Wotherspoon, to satiate those burning questions and for us all to become further informed on the technology and limitations of this system. 

The round table set-up was really good fun, as it gave us all a chance to engage with each other, as well as making the food in the most perfectly reachable position.
The discussion and questions were rife and every feasible topic was covered, from bikini lines to unibrows, unashamedly revelling in the blushes of the only male representative in the room!
I believed I was quite knowledgable about the device, having become rather well-acquainted with the manual during my bedtime reading, but it was very enlightening listening to the other girls' questions and queries, raised around the table, and it induced a feast of information and comments being exchanged.

A few keys points I took away from the round table discussion which I haven't already covered in my iPulse posts: -

The system is completely safe to use on the face, and research has proven that this is the area that girls may be shyest to address, and may not wish to seek treatment for. The device can therefore be used independently and privately within the realms of your own space. However, facial hair does act differently to body hair and it may require more persistence to reduce the hair growth.

Despite the iPulse system being safe to use anywhere on the face, there is one no-go area. The eyebrows. Unfortunately, eradicating that unibrow in one fail zap is not possible due to the way the eyebrow hair grows. Using the system whilst pregnant is not recommended, due to the body undergoing changes which would affect the system's effectiveness. The light is safe on the eyes.

Using the dedicated activator gel with each treatment is key and can not be substituted with any other similar ilk product. The gel acts as an optical coupler which means it will focus the light that is emitted onto the area, which is paramount for targeting the individual hairs.

Once the fury of questions had dwindled, and the plates lay tragically bare of food in the centre of the table, we were shown the door...the door to the opulent spa area. The decadency was a little overwhelming, and I was left flummox whether to go for the hot seat and hand massage, or possibly THE most incredible shoulder massage ever experienced! I opted for option b. 

The whole event and ambience of the evening was fantastic and it was truly pleasurable to meet the iPulse clan and be indulged in such a wonderful way.

Ipulse have compiled a video capturing all the merriment of the night if you fancied having a peruse.

And if anyone does have any further questions, then feel free to ask me and I shall endeavour to get them answered.
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