Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Handbag Window Shopping

Apologies for the silence recently, I've been pretty busy doing... well, uhm, not very much. But hey, it's a time consuming job relaxing and window shopping all day!

I've decided that now I have two lovely filofaxes, and a lovely lovely purse, I should probably stop using my tatty old handbags that are filthy inside and get something sophisticated and grown up to use as my daily bag.

Option a - a 'big' bag, such as a bucket tote or bowling bag. It'd need to have enough space for two filofaxes (A4 and personal size), pencil case, my keys, purse, phone and as well as some space spare for anything I find out and about (Wales and their carrier bag charging ways have cost me two bags in the last year as I split them trying to stuff too many groceries in them coming home from lectures... sigh).

Option b - a nice, adequately (medium) sized handbag. Again, must be big enough for my personal filo, purse, keys, phone, pencil case and a little bit extra. I could then carry my A4 filofax with me to and from lectures; and when I come home I could use a different, bigger bag that I already have. The other possibility to this is that my parents could then, if I decide that I don't like this method, get me a nice (and more expensive than I could afford by myself) bigger bag to use at uni.

The only way to solve this clearly is to do a comparison. Here's what I came up with...

1) Accessorize butterfly lock bag, £35 2) asos liquorish tote, £35 3) Accessorize spotty dotty tweed bag, £32
4) Chants charm saddle bag, £28 5) Jane Norman quilted bucket bag, £30 6) Rocket Dog plaited shopper, £23
1) New Look mink crocodile satchel, £15 2) Accessorize kempton satchel, £32 3) Accessorize zip front slouch, £28
4) Jane Norman quilted boxy bag, £17.50 5) Debenhams grey shoulder bag, £12.50 6) Accessorize Evelyn bag, £30
It's a tough one. One thing I've noticed is that shoulder and smaller hand bags tend to come in really boring colours - greys, whites and blacks. Or red. I hate the look of red leather! However this may work best with my pink filofax, pink pencil case and pink purse...

What bag and bag option do you like best?

Monday, 13 August 2012

Run out of nail varnish remover?

And left with a horrible manicure that you'd really like to just forget? If so, I share your pity. I am in this exact situation - so I thought I'd bring to you some of the best home made nail varnish removers that you can try from simple ingredients you'll find around your home.

Vinegar + fruit juice
Mix some vinegar with the juice of citric fruit - lemon, lime or orange - and use it as you would a normal nail varnish remover.
First things first, this smells HORRENDOUS. It smells like... if you'll allow me to be crude, the results of a heavy night drinking... Gross. And sadly, it doesn't really work either. It doesn't work as a normal nail varnish remover would, and wipe the nail varnish off, but it will soften your nail varnish enough to scrape it away. This is an act I'm a little uncomfortable with as it seems like it could possibly be a bit damaging to my nails, which is something I'm trying to avoid!

Clear nail varnish over the top
Paint the top of your nails with a coat of clear nail varnish and immediately wipe off. A tissue works best.
This works well - for a bit. But if you're trying to use this as your only method of nail polish removal, you're going to get very frustrated very quickly as it's not perfect and doesn't work on thick layers of polish or glitters. Plus also you're wasting a lot of clear nail varnish with this method; which kinda puts me off a bit.

Anti-bacterial wipes
Use an anti-bacterial or make up remover wipe over your nail to remove your nail varnish.
This did nothing - and after a little bit actually started to hurt the skin around my nails. I wouldn't recommend this at all and would say that you probably shouldn't be playing with anti-bacterial cleaning agents. If you want to try this (!) it's at your own risk and you should be washing your hands thoroughly afterwards.

Spray a little cheap perfume or hairspray on a cotton wool ball and use as you would nail varnish remover.
This works incredibly well - however it's because the perfume/hairspray contains acetone, which we all know is the active ingredient in most nail varnish removers, and is something I'm trying to avoid. However if I had no other option, this would not be a bad alternative; your nails smell lovely at the end and it works so well it'd be a crime to put it down.

Apply a little toothpaste onto cotton wool and use as you would normal nail varnish remover.
This did precisely nothing. But at least my nails smell minty fresh now...

The best solution is to make sure you always have nail varnish remover of your preference in the house, of course, but in a pinch perfume or hairspray are great alternatives! All the above were gleaned from various different sources and collated here.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Mascara comparison

Above is a picture of my naked and slightly surprised looking eyes. Just what you wanted to see, right?! Slight disclaimer - if you don't like close up shots of eyes, you may not want to read this post.

I currently own four different brands of mascara, so I thought I'd have a little play and see which I prefer and which gives the best results. So, without further ado (in reverse order, because I've already decided on my favourite!)...

In last place - Ruby Hammer Recommends (brown)

On my eyes:
ruby recommends brown mascara

Verdict: Seriously, look at all that excess on the brush! Happens every time so you have to either put it all on your lashes or wipe it off, wasting it all. It's ridiculous. It's not even a little bit! I got this in a gift set for christmas with a slate grey one which performs in exactly the same way; I don't think the set was cheap either. Really disappointing. I don't think much of the actual look it gives either, very clumpy and spindly.

In third place - Miss Sporty 'Fabulous Lash' mascara (black)

On my eyes:
miss sporty fabulous lash mascara

Verdict: As you can see, it's quite clumpy, and the brush is totally different to the ones I prefer. It's far too spaced out and gives my eyes a very 'spider leggy' look, which I hate! Out of them all, this came last because the texture of the formula was terrible, the brush is too long (nearly poked my eye out twice!) and doesn't cover my lashes properly and the results aren't what I want at all. The only thing going for this mascara is it's quite cheap at £1.99 (available here)

In second place - No. 17 'Photo Flawless' mascara (blue black)
no. 17 photo flawless mascara

On my eyes:

The verdict:
The brush on this one is slightly curved, which helps to lift my lashes and give them a natural curl. The idea with this mascara range is that you buy the colour designated for your eye - I actually got the blue/black when I was going on holiday a few months ago and realised at the airport that I'd left my mascara at home! I have this in plain black as well and I can honestly see no difference in the two colours. Having said that, this mascara works well for me *most of the time*. It didn't come first because occasionally, it won't seperate my lashes as well as it should and I end up with spider lashes, my biggest hate! It's also sold at a midrange £5.99 which is on the top of my price range.

In first place - Collection 2000 'XXL Volume Sensation' mascara (black)

On my eyes:
collection 2000 xxl volume sensation mascara

The verdict:
Ok, here's the embarrassing thing. After taking off and putting mascara five times in a row, my lashes kinda protested at the idea of looking nice and as you can see, kind clumped together and refused to co-operate. However this is rather abnormal for this mascara which keeps it firmly at the top of my love list! I have a really bad feeling that this is no longer produced as I haven't seen any for a few months :( The brush is lovely and full which makes it really easy to get thick, long lashes without any clumping or spiders legs. If it has truly been discontinued, I may have to cry. This is the only mascara I've ever found that consistently gives fantastic results and the best thing is - it retails for just £3.99, proving that bargain brands can be the best!

What's your favourite mascara?

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Weekend Bake: Oreo Cupcakes

I love these cakes, I make them as often as I can get Oreos in the house unopened for long enough to whip the batter up! The icing is sticky and cloying which goes really well with the sweet moist cake. This time I used a different recipe to normal - which called for the interesting ingredient of boiling water, an addition that I initially thought had scrambled the mixture - but it is much moister and stickier than my cakes normally turn out so I'm sticking with it!

I managed to make 28 of these bad boys, luckily I'd bought a duo pack of Oreos as it happens that there are exactly 14 Oreos in each pack! The plan was that my BF was going to take half the batch to work with him but unfortunately that didn't happen for a few reasons, so we've been left with 20 cupcakes to eat between two people... Challenge accepted ;)

The recipe for the cakes came from this fantastic blog and will be, when I can be bothered to wander upstairs to collect my recipe book, forever enshrined in writing so that I can make these bad boys again! I adapted the Primrose Bakeries vanilla frosting receipe to include Oreo crumbs and chunks - I was anxious not to put too much liquid in as I was running low on icing sugar so my frosting is a little too stodgy for my liking. Still tastes beautiful mind you!

Cross section showing the oreo cookie baked into the cake

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Saving money whilst remaining stylish

We all love fashion, whether you consider yourself at the forefront of it all or just following your own style. However it can be an expensive hobby to have especially when times are hard as they are now, in our lovely double dip recession! I think everyone is once again feeling the pinch. Here's how I make my pound go a bit further...

Firstly, whenever I'm buying anything online, I not only shop around but I also check for vouchers or discount codes that I can use to weedle a little more out of the shops pocket and back into mine. My favourite sites include FashionVouchers and MyVoucherCodes - both sites where you can search for the shop you're buying from and (hopefully) find some money off or free delivery codes. Fantastic when you're on a budget and worth the occasional frustration of only finding expired ones!
Not the only voucher website around, but one of the most reliable for sure!
Secondly, I'm a massive advocate of using the internet to work for you. This is my biggest tip - but it's important to be realistic about it. It's unlikely that anyone will ever make thousands on the internet for doing very little, but there are a lot of websites out there that you can utilise to your advantage. Some of them take a lot of effort (consumer lead review writing websites such as DooYoo or Ciao!) but are give you Amazon vouchers and cash of varying amounts; and some (such as survey sites like Toluna or pay per click sites such as Swagbucks) take a little less time to get the same results, but can be incredibly boring! None the less, they're invaluable money makers for me; I average around £20 a month in Amazon vouchers on sites like this when I'm not trying properly. A word of warning though - make sure you google and research thoroughly sites like this, as not only will you find opinions of them (good and bad) but also you'll be able to help others out by finding referral links and help about how to use them to the best effect. I love Swagbucks and DooYoo and am desperate to get a referral to Pinecone Research, a site that gives you surveys to take in return for luncheon vouchers or paypal money. I could probably write a whole blog post on this topic if enough people wanted it; let me know in the comments!
Collect swag is fun and easy; it definitely pays off!
Why spend money you don't have on clothes when you can customise your own for free or very little initial outlay? Revamping old clothes into something that looks completely different is very chic and yields a totally unique result, which is both a talking point and a money saving must! Blogs such as Recycled Fashion promote the idea that clothing can easily be made into something unique, fun and new with just a few stitches and a little bit of dedication. Unfortunately I have not been blessed with a sewing instinct (unlike my mum and sister, who can sew amazingly well) but not all projects require deft skill with a needle; in fact some of the most effect customization methods require just some scissors and courage to go at your clothes!

If you can't bear to cut up your old clothes, then you can always swap them for something you do want! Big Wardrobe is a website set up solely for the purpose of swapping things (of course, you can buy and sell on there as well too, but we're aiming for money saving here!) with other fashion lovers. You can also find swap rings on facebook and tumblr; I'm part of one for nail varnish. I have yet to swap anything but I'm always keeping my eyes peeled! It's a wonderful way to make sure that your underloved items see the light of day. One man's muck is another mans treasure!
Swap, buy and sell all different types of item, from brand new to vintage!
I hope this gives you a few ideas as to how to spread your money about a bit more; it's possible to have nice things on a budget if you're wise about it! This post is an entry into Fashion Vouchers blogger competition; comment and let me know what you think - are you going to enter, do you like my tips, what do you do to save money?

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Nail of the Week - Olympics Special

As mentioned in a previous post, I have been itching to show you this manicure, but it required special circumstances to create for! Yesterday I was in Greenwich watching the final day of the individual and team three day eventing (an equestrian sport set over 4 days, where riders compete in dressage, cross country and finally show jumping) hoping that team GB could take their first gold - alas it wasn't to be however we did fantastically by winning the team silver medal! It was an amazing day and one I doubt I will ever see again; the Olympics won't be back in London for some time after all. I'll put some pictures at the end of this post for you all to see.

Here's how I showed my British pride on my nails:
london 2012

london 2012

london 2012

I used Barry M 'Cobalt Blue', Barry M 'Red Glitter' and NYC 'Pinstripe' to create the Union Jacks and attempted a 'string' manicure (layered over Accessorize 'Jewel') for the other nails. This took me AGES to do, but I think the results were worth it!

The string manicure is an idea I had from A Polish Addict, a blog I love and am totally addicted to... It's definitely not great and nowhere near perfect but I like the effect I got - it's grungy and kinda pop arty, more British I think than if it had worked as it was meant to! I also used the tutorial she linked to - find it here if you want to have a go. It's so simple and easy to do but takes quite a lot of time and patience (from start to finish, it took me about 3 hours...) and a steady hand. I am about as patient as a Jack Russel Terrier on crack... Hence the blips. I've had loads of comments about them yesterday and today so obviously the 'wrong' bits only matter to me!

Here's a few pictures from Greenwich Park for you all to have a look at; as I said it was a fantastic day, and was so well organised - great kudos to the Olympic family for putting on a great show and well done team GB! The atmosphere was electric and so tense when the Brits were riding; with every British rider getting a massive cheer from the home crowd on entry and course completion. Wonderful.

london 2012 greenwich park
Greenwich House
london 2012 team gb
The view from our seat - the arena was massive, much bigger than it looked on TV!
london 2012 team gb
Team GB riding in to collect their well earned silver medals (the 2012 rosettes for the horses are so cute!)
Finally, a panorama of the view from our seats: