Monday, 28 October 2013

Week 43 - a little break

Images from my Instagram from the past week.

Sometimes sad things happen and that's why I'm taking a little break from blogging.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Three fall clothing items that I want

There's nothing like finding out things about yourself through Pinterest. For a few months now I've incorrectly assumed that I've lost my interest in buying clothes (especially since my brain is dreaming about makeup and home decor 24/7) and I put it down to spending most of my time in a work uniform or in pyjamas. How little I know myself. I took one look at my clothing-based Pinterest board and realised that I'm pinning more fashion related things than ever. I've compiled a list of three things that I now know that I want because of Pinterest:

1. A leather jacket. Nevermind that I have a cheap and bulky one from H&M a few years back. I now want a more fitted, black jacket, preferably with lovely details like the ones above. They definitely look best paired with floral details or pencil skirts, don't you think?

2. A plaid shirt that peeks out from under thick sweaters. I've wanted a nice plaid shirt for ages now, and I just can't seem to find the perfect one.

3. A gray coat. It's been a couple of years since I bought my trusty navy Topshop duffel, but I'm starting to feel like branching out might be a good idea. Unfortunately coats are ridiculously expensive, so this is not looking like it's going to happen soon!

All images can be found on my Pinterest clothes board. Feel free to take a look at my other boards while you're there. (I am an avid pinner.)

Monday, 21 October 2013

Week 42 - The Rocket and buns

All images are from my Instagram.

I have uploaded the worst photos on Instagram the past few weeks.  There was a time (when I had no job) when I uploaded almost a photo a day on Instagram but now I'm lucky if I manage even three. What can I say? There's just nothing to take photos of. Most of the time I'm in a work uniform or I'm recovering from work in pyjamas. Trust me, you don't want to see either. Oh, and this is uploaded on a Monday because I've been busy.

This week I worked, watched Steve's nieces for a little while (the first photo shows homework for the ten year old. I had to make up fractions that she'd then put into whole numbers and fractions. I was struggling more than her!) and had to walk around in pouring rain whilst holding a box of buns and therefore I went into Tesco and bought a mascara. I shouldn't have but... you know. I had to. It's the Maybelline The Rocket Waterproof mascara and it really is very good. Although the wand is huge and could potentially poke your eye out. (But until that happens you'll have great lashes.) On Saturday me and Steve went to a tiny bakery and had a fry and coffee for breakfast. Only in Northern Ireland can you get a crazily big, unhealthy but delicious meal for £4. It's exactly the type of thing I prioritise when living abroad.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Another (geometric) Etsy wishlist

... Because you can never have too many of them, right? I feel like I've rediscovered Etsy. It's kind of true. I've discovered that you can click on a shop and see what they have favourited. (I know, I'm slow.) It has opened up a whole new world to me. And so tonight when I felt like compiling a little list on this blog (such as 'sale items from Topshop that I really want' or 'types of christmas trees') I thought I'd share a little Etsy-love instead.

1. How wonderful is this necklace from Nest Pretty Things? It's the perfect marriage between trendy and classic and I can so see this on a wintery night with a black dress.

2. Lately I've been nurturing an obsession with tea towels, which are unusually difficult to fit into our kitchen because of our colour scheme (in my opinion). But this towel from Avril Loreti has a lovely combination of soft colours and with loads of triangles that I may be addicted to.

3. It's not that I don't like our plain white mugs from IKEA. I just want prettier mugs to drink my coffee from and this mug from Alice Potter is so cute. (Triangles, check.)

4. I love a good print and recently I've been feeling all kinds of things for photography, which Etsy has loads of, fortunately. I imagine this print from Calm Shores next to a second print on our bedroom walls where black and white would look particularly good. Plus... you know how I feel about that shape by now.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

10 reasons to smile 18.0

one - I somehow managed to get all my work clumped together so that I'm off three days in a row, which is possibly the best thing ever. Obviously this means that I have to work this weekend, but that's okay.

two - there's less than two weeks left until I get my first pay. And this pay is actually for two months' worth of work, so it'll be gooood. The list of things that I want is bordering on disgustingly long.

three - there's only 70 days left until Christmas! I love Christmas so much. Don't tell anyone but I've already pulled out the Christmas box once and briefly sniffed the lid once. Okay, twice.

four - I'm hoping to be able to make a short visit to Sweden very soon and I can't wait to see my family + go shopping at Lagerhaus. If you haven't been to Lagerhaus, you haven't lived.

five - I have somehow lost all interest in buying clothes (I have a sneaky suspicion it's because I have a set uniform that I work in) but this means that there's so many more beauty and home items that I can get.

six - Seven out of 12 Christmas gifts have already been planned. Obviously I can't actually buy them until my pay comes in but I still think that having them planned out is half the battle won. Kind of. 

seven - Tonight me and Steve are eating ice cream and watching the Great British Bake-Off, followed by some Star Trek. It's just nice to know that there is food and good TV waiting for you. And Steve, obviously.

eight - For Halloween I may have managed to convince Steve to dress up in a couples' costume with me. It's like a dream come true. (How likely is it that others will hate us?)

nine - I've been driving at least once a week for a while now and it's definitely getting less terrifying. By this time next year maybe I won't be getting heart palpitations everytime I'm behind the wheel.

ten - I've successfully managed to avoid nail polish for six weeks, leading to much nicer nails than previously. Two more weeks to go. How will I celebrate? By buying a new bottle of nail polish, obviously. 

Monday, 14 October 2013

Week 41 - first ever p.s.l.

All images are from my Instagram. Yesterday was Sunday and I never wrote my weekly update because I was too tired after working a long shift. Le horror. Does anyone even care? My dad probably does. This is for you, Dad.

So, the recap of last week is necessary. Monday, I worked. Tuesday, I worked. Wednesday, I slept and watched TV. Thursday, I worked. Friday, I worked. On Saturday I decided that it was time to do something fun so I forced Steve to come with me to the shopping center so that I could pretend shop (two weeks left until payday, people!) and also try my first pumpkin spice latte (aka P.S.L among people in the know. Including me since I googled it two seconds ago). Not too shabby. Then I went to a friend's house and watched X Factor whilst eating copious amounts of sweets. Sunday, I worked. Me and Steve have also managed to finish the first week of the second month of Insanity now and it is torture packaged into a seductive promise of muscles and toned abs. Three more weeks to go!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Insanity Workout - 5 week update

You may have seen me ramble on about the Insanity Workouts which me and Steve do six times a week. Insanity is created by Shaun T (does anybody know his actual surname? Does he have one?) which claims that you will get "insane" results in 60 days. You receive a DVD with a bunch of workouts and a schedule to follow. The first month you do around 40 minutes of exercise per day, then you have a week of "recovery" workouts followed by your second month in which you do an hour of exercise per day. Me and Steve just finished our recovery week so we have four weeks to go and I thought I'd give you a little update on what I think so far. (OBS! I'm not posting any before/after pictures because... I don't want to show body to the entire Internet. Maybe at the end of month 2, we'll see.)

Insanity video from the Beachbody channel.

Doing exercise six times a week feels like it should take up a huge amount of your time but it's actually not that bad at all. 40 minutes of workouts slots in quite easily into my evenings, even on the days when I get home after 8pm. Shaun T is a pretty good coach despite overusing words such as "power!", "use your core!" and "force!" constantly (the amount of times me and Steve have looked at each other mid-workout and burst out laughing are too many). During a workout you mix bursts of high (and I mean high) intensity training (for three to four minutes) with 30 seconds of rest. I'm used to the exact opposite type of exercise. During the first week of Insanity I was sure that I'd never be able to complete any of the workouts without taking any unauthorised breaks but your fitness level rises a lot quicker than you'd think it would. It's a lot more noticeable with Steve who didn't exercise at all pre-Insanity (whilst I had been running for a few months). He started off taking a lot of extra water breaks and struggled doing any exercises which had a high impact on his knees. Now he can do most exercises for the full interval and at a high speed too.

When it comes to visible transformation, I've noticed a few things. First of all, my calves have become pretty huge (at least to me). I knew that they would since I seem to always have an easy time building muscles there and so it wasn't a big surprise. However, I have always had incredibly weak arms and although I notice an improvement in my arm strength I still struggle with most of the push-up activities. But I have visible arm muscles now! They're not incredibly lean (which suggests that flabby arms is hereditary) but if I tense my muscles they are definitely there. My thighs have also toned up quite a bit. The only place that I'm a little disappointed with so far is my belly. If I tense my abs I can feel them but there's definitely no signs of a six pack. (Not that I'd want a six pack but a little more definition would be nice.) Whilst I mainly wanted toning up, Steve also wanted to lose extra fat, mainly around his belly. Similarly to me he has gained a lot of muscles but I'm not sure if he's lost any fat yet (we don't weigh ourselves and he hasn't checked his measurements since the start of the month). If you're doing Insanity to lose weight I'd suggest looking into changing your diet too because a little googling tells us that a healthy diet mixed with cardio is the best way to lose belly fat.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Budget makeup wishlist

It has officially been ages since I posted my last makeup wishlist (of which I was birthday-gifted the Clarins primer, the Real Techniques brush and the Rimmel lipstick in case you're interested) and I feel like this is misleading. It is certainly not the case that I haven't been lusting for makeup because believe me, I have. I've just kept quiet about it. Now that a giant payday is on the horizon, all I seem to do is dream about the stuff that I want to buy. Also I'm going to work in an hour and I need to think of money to keep myself sane. Obviously my total makeup wishlist is longer than this and so I've narrowed it down into only budget items.

1 from Maybelline.
I was so close to buying this before going on holiday but I didn't and now I am battling regret-induced depression. My friend says that this is amazing, one of my favourite beauty bloggers uses this... Plus it's autumn and I need another waterproof mascara in my life. Enough said.

2 from Soap & Glory.
During a Saturday night when I spent too much time socialising with people and not enough time making sure that everything in my bag remained in my bag, I lost my face powder. At the time I didn't think I'd be able to go on living but now I have embraced the idea of trying a new one and everyone goes on about Soap & Glory One Heck of a Blot. Naturally, I want it.

3 from Rimmel.
I have decided that this will be the season when I finally get good eyebrows rather than the unruly disgrace that they currently are. Hello future (hopefully) symmetrical eyebrows.

4 from Vaseline.
This is a moisturiser dries immediately after being sprayed on and I just can't believe that this hasn't been talked about more. There is also a cocoa fragranced version that is possibly even better.

5 from Barry M.
No wishlist would be complete without a Barry M nail polish mention. I've been on a mission to get my nails strong and healthy again after the past two seasons of nail polish mania and I think I will reward myself with a new nail polish. This has a matte finish and an autumnal/winter colour which I love.

6 from Soap & Glory.
The issue with work is that I don't have time to touch up any unevenly wearing lipstick and this makes me so incredibly sad. Instead I need something which gives me colour on my lips, yet isn't high maintenance. Hello another lip crayon (I want the shade Raplumzel. Cheesy name.)

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Week 40 - happy cinnamon bun day

Images from my Instagram.

Ugh. That is how I feel right now. My mood is just 'ugh'. Partly because I've worked today and I'm working tomorrow. Not that work is particularly terrible but I had to work for twelve hours on a Sunday (how is that even legal) and I have to work for another twelve hours tomorrow. Plus I couldn't fall asleep last night so I was ridiculously tired this morning and another girl was sick so I didn't get a moment to relax today. Rant over and now that I'm lying in my comfortable bed whilst practicing the art of balancing and typing on a laptop on the stomach, life feels a lot better. Let's just recap this week.

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I worked. The other weekdays I babysat Steve's nieces and I also made cinnamon buns (Swedish kanelbullar) which was more fitting than I realised as yesterday was actually Cinnamon Bun Day! A holiday that the rest of the world really should acknowledge. On Friday night I had a friend over for tea/coffee plus massive amounts of buns and things. On Saturday me and Steve lazied about and then we went for lunch and got cupcakes afterwards as a treat. Sometimes you just need to treat yourself and when your weekend shrinks into one day, treating yourself is even more essential. Time to go to sleep so that I'm ready for another insane day...

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Short hair evaluation (week one)

I've had time to write two blog posts since I got my hair cut and somehow I've managed to already mention my new haircut in 100% of them. In other words it was inevitable that I was going to take pictures of it and then write an essay, analysing the pros and cons of having short hair. 

A bit of background story: I've had hair that reached down to my hips. I was thirteen years old and my mother refused to let me see a hairdresser. Obviously, that is not a sustainable situation when you're a semi-rebellious teenager and I eventually got it cut to almost mid-back length. Since then my hair has varied in length (and colour - oh dear, there is a large amount of horrific pictures of me with red stripes in brown hair) but it has never been shorter than collarbone length. The idea of having short hair always enticed me but I never seriously considered it because 1) I'm a wuss and 2) I didn't think my facial structure would suit it. About a year ago I started discussing it with random people who thought it would suit my hair and it only took me a year to book a "spontaneous" appointment with a hairdresser. I told very few people about it beforehand but I have received so many compliments from friends and acquaintances since! 

Cons - Starting with the negatives (because I like ending things on a high), there's obviously not a huge amount of things you can do with this hair. So far I've thought of three hairstyles; wavy, straight and messy. It honestly doesn't bother me at all since I was never great at doing my hair anyway (it pretty much always looked like some version of "messy") but in the interests of being fair, that is a con of short hair. Secondly, when I wake up my hair has giant tufts sticking up at the back of my hair! I never thought that me and Steve would share hair problems, but now we do. Tuft-related issues. Luckily, water and a comb sorts it out. If you have your natural hair colour you may be exasperated by the fact that you're gonna have to go to the hairdresser every 6-8 weeks now to maintain your cut but I had to do that anyway to highlight my roots.

Pros - I better keep this short but I could go on forever about the pros of short hair at the moment. Firstly, ignore any websites that say that you can't have short hair if you have any "big" facial features, as they may stand out more. Embrace those big noses, people! (Written by a fellow big-nose, the third picture is particularly unflattering.) If anything, I feel like short hair has made my face more interesting. Secondly, I've heard a lot of people say that short hair is more time-consuming than long hair but I've found it to be the opposite. Washing my hair takes five minutes (instead of 15), blow drying my hair (entirely) takes five minutes (instead of 20) and styling my hair takes two minutes (instead of anything between 10-50 minutes). The main difference is that I now have to blow dry it straight away since I'm conscious that letting my hair air dry might result in some pretty interesting hairstyles. It's still quicker than when I had long hair. Third, I hardly have to use any shampoo or conditioner (£££) and my stash of hair oils, serums and salt sprays have whittled down to two products; heat protection and a texturising spray. (Technically I only needed a heat protectant but Tresemme offered two products for £7 and so I bought the texturising spray as well.) A fourth pro of having short hair is how healthy my hair feels now. Gone are the days of having so many split ends that you're embarrassed to go to the hairdresser (oh yes, that is a true life example). Pro no five, I feel much cooler now. Obviously this may only apply to me but I still feel like it's a valid pro. 

Some last-minute advice if you're cutting your hair short: Use a website that lets you upload your photo and try different hairstyles if you're unsure of whether you suit short hair or not, bring lots of pictures to the hairdresser and be specific regarding your new style. (I explained that I wanted my hair to be a boyish, longer pixie cut with more hair on the top of my head and I got exactly what I wanted.) Also, the most important thing is that you like it so don't listen to other people too much. E.g. my boyfriend was convinced that he'd hate it but he doesn't. If people don't like it, it's not a huge deal as long as you love it. Some of you may think that it's unnecessary to think about a haircut as much as I have... But I'm also sure that there's others who are just as analysing and cautious when it comes to hair as I am, so this post is for all of you!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

September favourites

favourite on tv/movie: If you haven't been part of the greatest thing to happen this year, stop whatever you're doing right now because Downton Abbey is back on TV. Two glorious episodes have already been aired and I have cried about five times (four times the first episode, once during the second so I'm definitely improving). Also New Girl, How I Met Your Mother, The Great British Bake-Off and (soon) Homeland are back. Oh Autumn TV, I love you so.

Image found here.

favourite purchase: I dare say that I haven't actually bought a single thing this month. How depressing. (When I get my first full pay there will be some serious shopping.)

favourite music: I managed to give myself a small addiction to Arctic Monkey's new album which is causing people to hate me. But it's just so very catchy that I'm willing to lose my friends and boyfriend.

favourite food: This month I've been on a baking spree. Let me rate these from 1 to 10; lemon drizzle muffins 1, chocolate chip cookies 9 (I really love cookies), baked cheesecake 7 and apple pie 3. The fact that my first ever baked cheesecake got that close to my beloved cookies is definitely insane and proof that it turned out well.

favourite drink: I haven't had any particular sensational drinks this month. Coffee is still going strong during the days, I ventured into the hot chocolate world one or two cold evenings and I had some caramel syrup in my latte during a coffee date with friends (which is far too sweet). I need something new in my life.

favourite beauty item: My friend gave me a sample of her Steamcream and I have completely fallen in love with it. Ever since I got it I've been using it every single night and now I'm almost out of my sample. It also has this amazing smell which reminds me of the Lush hand creams. (What is that smell? It makes me think of vegan topknot-bearing hipster girls but that's obviously not what it's made of.)

favourite blog: A Beautiful Mess has been one of my favourite blogs for a really long time but it really steps it up during these months of the year. I'd recommend anything to do with fashion, food and home decor. Okay, so basically the entire blog.

favourite event: There has been a bunch of smaller, lovely events such as my weekly tea and cake nights but one main event that I really enjoyed is getting my hair cut. Going from hair that reached halfway down my chest to a shaggy pixie cut was one of my more dramatic hair changes but luckily I love the new look.