Monthly Archives

December 2015

Life, Photography

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year + Blogging Break

December 25, 2015

Christmas tree light painting

Merry Christmas and a Happy Near Year!

I hope you all have a wonderful few days and enjoy good times, good food, with good people.

Tom and I are off to Paris in the next couple of days, so I’m taking this opportunity to have a few days out from blogging. I think a bit of radio silence on here is good every now and then; it’s especially good for creativity I find.

I’m sure I’ll still be reading and commenting on blogs and active on social media, so I’ll still be about. If you want to keep up with me over Christmas and on my travels in Paris, here’s where you can find me:

I’ll be back blogging with a vengeance on Monday 4th January. Have a wonderful few days, and I’ll see you then.

Life, Photography

Talking To The Moon

December 23, 2015

The moon

There’s nothing quite like looking up at the night sky to give you an existential crisis and put some things into perspective.

Every one of us is ridiculously tiny in the grand scheme of things, but sometimes it feels like our (sometimes small) problems are the biggest thing ever. 

Sometimes we let small things get in the way, or use them as an excuse, and stop us doing what we want. 

As we head into 2016 I want to share some cheesy advice: scare yourself.

Do the thing you’re scared to do. Because you don’t want to fail, or because the voice in your head is telling you that you can’t or you aren’t good enough. Do it. 

Let the adrenaline flow through your veins and show that dick of a voice in your head how wrong it is. 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that I enjoy doing things that scare me and push me. Tomorrow isn’t promised and I’m not going to be sitting around in 50 years time wishing I’d done something I was scared to do.

On a side note, if you have Instagram I’d love it if you’d spare a minute to take a peek at my photography account;

What’s one thing you want to do but keep putting off? For every thing you share, I’ll share one of mine too. 

Books, Booktube Videos

The 9 Best Books I Read In 2015

December 22, 2015

9 Best Books I Read in 2015

I don’t know about you, but I love it when we get towards the end of the year and I get to find out what people’s favourite books of the year were. Today, I’m sharing my 9 favourite books of 2015, and I hope you’re going to share some of your favourites with me.

Watch the video above or read on to find out about the books that have topped my list this year. Click on the title or author to read my review.

The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater

The first book I read in 2015 got the year off to an excellent start. After hearing Cait at Paper Fury talk about The Raven Boys and Maggie Steifvater repeatedly, I finally delved into The Raven Boys and boy was the wait worth it.

Maggie creates stunningly detailed worlds, that leave you wondering whether or not the world you’re reading about is in fact the world you’re living in.


All The Bright Places – Jennifer Niven

I love books that deal with mental illness and give readers an accurate portrayal into the life of someone with a mental illness, or what it’s like to care for someone with a mental illness, and All The Bright Places does both of these things.

It tells the story of Violet and Finch who meet as a result of difficult situations they’re both in. It’s heartwarming and absolutely heartbreaking all in the same book. I’m still not over the book and I read it about 9 or 10 months ago now.


The Rose Society – Marie Lu

The Rose Society is somehow even better than Marie Lu’s 2014 release, The Young Elites. It sees Adelina become even darker and more ruthless, much like Game of Thrones’ Daenerys Targaryen. The beautiful world is even more enchanting and I found myself wishing it was a place you could visit more than once.


The Girl On The Train – Paula Hawkins

I love a good thriller, and after hearing so much hype about this over the summer, I was excited to read it as part of The Olive Fox Book Club.

Paula Hawkins has created characters that are detailed and absolute despicable, but you still find yourself desperate to know what happened to them.

If, like me, you are sometimes put off by the hype, then don’t be because The Girl On The Train lives up to it.


Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

See above. Fangirl is one of those books I put off reading for so long because of all the hype around it but this is another one that absolutely lives up to the hype. Yet again, Rainbow Rowell has created realistic and relatable characters that you end up feeling like you know by the end of the book.

Fangirl is a lovely blend of learning to become independent, friendship, coming of age, family issues, and a sweet romance to top it all off.


Your Voice Is All I Hear – Leah Scheier

Like All The Bright Places, Your Voice Is All I Hear is an important book that gives readers an accurate portrayal of mental illness. This book allows you to read from the point of view of a girl who finds herself in a relationship with someone with schizophrenia.

It looks at not only the issues of being in a relationship with someone with mental illness, but also the pressure, stigma and comments from family, friends, and classmates.


Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Illustrated) – J. K. Rowling and Jim Kay [No review yet, but keep an eye out for one in the New Year.)

This is everything I wanted the illustrated copies of Harry Potter to be and so much more. Somehow, it made the story even more magical and I found myself excitedly turning the pages not only for the story, but to see what stunning illustrations were over the page.


Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Neill

This is not a book to read when you fancy a cosy afternoon with a nice book. Absolutely nothing good happens in Only Ever Yours, but don’t let that deter you. Louise O’Neill drags you into a world where women are clearly second class citizens and spend the childhood and teenage years training to be everything a man could want.

It deals with sexism, eating disorders, competitiveness based on appearances and more. It’s not an easy read, but it’s an important one.


Magonia – Maria Dahvana Headley

I didn’t write this in any kind of order, but I did definitely save the best ’til last. And so, it should come as little surprise to you if you’ve been reading my blog for a few months now that I’ve chosen Magonia as my favourite book of 2015.

Magonia is so unlike anything else I’ve read before, and I fell absolutely head over heels in love with it. The world building is amazing, and I can’t help but wonder if something like Magonia exists every time I look up at the clouds.

It’s a wonderful combination of life, friendship, love, family, action, space ships, and more.


Go on, tell me what were the best books you read in 2015?

Food, Life

We built a (kinda weird) gingerbread Hogwarts

December 18, 2015

Gingerbread Hogwarts

Gingerbread Hogwarts

A few weeks ago, Tom tasked me with creating a gingerbread Hogwarts. We roped our friends in and ended up with a slightly (ok, very) weird gingerbread Hogwarts.

It’s fair to say we had delusions of grandeur because it was so much harder than expected, and we had to scale down quite a bit. Nevertheless, it was so much fun and we all laughed so hard.

Making gingerbread

Building a gingerbread house

Tom turned out to be some kind of gingerbread castle building wizard. He drew up some brilliant plans, and the rest of us made the dough and cut it out. Well, I say the ‘rest of us’, one of my friends is an excellent ‘supervisor’.

Getting the castle to stick together was pretty hard. None of us had ever built any kind of gingerbread structure, so we went into it thinking it would be easy. We were wrong. Getting the icing consistency right was hard enough. And in hindsight, we probably should have tried to level the pieces before sticking them together, but you live and learn, right?

Gingerbread Hogwarts

In the end, we ended up with a couple of braces. My friends Dad works in engineering and he just laughed as soon as he saw it. He also questioned if one of the braces was a lean to, so we tried to disguise it as a broom shed.

By far the hardest part was trying to figure out how to make the towers for the turrets. In the end, we stacked a few ice cream cones together, and covered them in gingerbread.

Gingerbread Hogwarts

Gingerbread Hogwarts

Once we’d managed to get the castle to stick together without dropping apart as soon as someone breathed near it, we began to decorate it. And that’s when things got ridiculous. I should have seen it coming, I should have known.

Gingerbread Hogwarts

The Supervisor got very carried away with the icing and silver balls. (Just look at the snowmen…or maybe not.) The rest of us are mega Harry Potter fans, so we asked what he was doing covering all of the ‘roof tiles’ with silver balls. He claimed they were solar panels.

Gingerbread Hogwarts

It took us 8 hours in total, and we all laughed so much it hurt. We’ve decided that in 2016, we’re going to attempt to make a Hobbit House. The Supervisor can handle the grass, I don’t think it’s possible to go overboard with grass on a Hobbit House.

Have you ever made any kind of gingerbread construction?

Capsule Wardrobe, Life, Lifestyle

I take on the capsule wardrobe

December 17, 2015

Capsule wardrobe

After months of battling with the contents of my wardrobe every time I opened the door, I decided something needed to change; I needed to find out what this capsule wardrobe hype was about.

I’ve heard about it a few times over the past year, but the idea of limiting myself to 37 items of clothing (including shoes, doesn’t include loungewear, workout gear, or work uniform) sounded really daunting. 37 items of clothing didn’t sound like a lot at all, but actually I didn’t even reach 37 items of clothing.

One day, I was feeling particularly ruthless and was in one of those moods to have a tidy out. As luck had it, on the same day I watched Vivianna Does Makeup’s winter capsule wardrobe update. I went through her channel and found her first video about capsule wardrobes and I was intrigued.

The idea of a capsule wardrobe actually dates back to the 70s, so it’s not a new thing at all. However, it’s been spoken about quite a lot in the blogosphere recently, and I can now understand why.

Caroline at Unfancy has so much useful information and tips for people starting out and maintaining their capsule wardrobe, so I recommend reading her blog. She’s even got a free wardrobe planner to help you decide what kind of things you need, and to help you figure out your style.

After perusing her blog for a few minutes, I threw open my wardrobe doors and emptied the contents onto my bed. I have no idea how many things I actually had in there, but that photo does not do the size of that pile justice.

I’m actually not a big clothes shopper. However, I am the kind of person who walks into every H&M or Primark I pass for a peruse and ends up buying yet another t-shirt that I don’t need just because it has a Game of Thrones quote on it, or is a pretty colour / pattern.

I followed Caroline’s advice and 5 made piles:

  1. Keep: love it and would wear it right now if I weren’t already wearing clothes
  2. Give away: things that I don’t really like anymore or that don’t fit properly
  3. Hella nope: things that I’ve worn to death (honestly, there were a couple of pieces that were white once, but had turned into a weird cream / grey colour) or that I can’t give to a charity shop
  4. Seasonal / sentimental: items that I’m just not going to wear in winter or things that I could never actually get rid of
  5. That does not belong in the wardrobe: you know, for the random crap you accumulate in your wardrobe. Or that just doesn’t live in your wardrobe, like socks.

I’m a very sentimental person, so I was surprised about how ruthless I was. I got rid of quite of lot of items that I’d worn to bits and I’d not worn in a while because of how tatty they looked but I loved them too much to get rid of. I put quite a few pieces in my give away pile also that I’d bought on a whim and didn’t wear much.

To my delight, I rediscovered a red coat that my Mum bought me about 7 years ago. I can’t believe I’d forgotten about it because I love it, so that was a nice surprise.

In total, I have 33 pieces, which really surprised me. I honestly thought I’d find myself with 50 items wondering how to cut the number down. At the moment, I don’t feel I need to add anything to my wardrobe but I’ve got plenty of space should I need something and I’m pretty confident that I will only add items that I need rather than want.

I’ve rediscovered so many things and I’m actually excited about the contents of my wardrobe, which is a new and interesting feeling.

I’m really looking forward to how I get on with my winter capsule wardrobe for the next three months. Hopefully it will encourage me to try different styles, help me change things up, and stop my buying things I don’t need, which will in turn save money.

Have you tried / would you like to try the capsule wardrobe? Out of interest, does anyone want to see the contents of my winter capsule?

Books, Books Posts That Aren't Reviews

5 warm & fuzzy books to read over Christmas

December 16, 2015

5 books to make you warm and fuzzy this Christmas

When I think about Christmas, I think about being all cosy, and reading a book that makes you go all fuzzy on the inside.

I’m always on the hunt for a nice fuzzy books, so I thought I would share my favourites with you in the hopes that you will share your fuzzy books with me.

Anna / Lola / Isla – Stephanie Perkins

What list of fuzzy books would be complete without mentioning Stephanie Perkins’ heart-warming trilogy:

  • Anna and the French Kiss
  • Lola and the Boy Next Door
  • Isla and the Happily Ever After

I defrost a little inside just thinking about those three books. For me, Anna is definitely the sweetest and the best, but you really can’t go wrong with the other two either.

If you enjoy books with realistic characters that you feel like you know, getting a serious case of wanderlust, and some of the cutest romance, then these books are for you.


Love, Rosie – Cecelia Ahern

I picked this up partly because the main character shares my name, and partly because the film was being advertised everywhere when I went to Dublin last year.

Love, Rosie is a fuzzy story about the lives of two best friends, that starts when they’re in school together and ends when they reach middle age (though the film ignored a huge chunk of the book – the book is waaaaay better). The characters are so real, as are the experiences they go through.

Throughout the whole book, you’re mentally screaming “ADMIT YOU LIKE EACH OTHER, DAMMIT!”. Definitely one to read if you want to be all fuzzy inside and have a chuckle too.


Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl is everything you need in a coming-of-age romance, and more. The romance is balanced against Cath going to university, leaving her Dad behind, making her own friends, dealing with her twin sister wanting to do things on her own, handling being in uncertain situations, and more. It works perfectly, and I think Rainbow did a wonderful job of creating situations that a lot of people can relate to.


The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight – Jennifer E. Smith

If you’re short on time over Christmas (aren’t we all?), The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is exactly what you need to fulfill your fuzzy reading needs.

It takes place over the space of 24 hours, is fast-paced, gripping, and took me about four hours to finish. Despite the short reading time, everything is wrapped up nicely, though of course you wouldn’t complain if you got to find out what happened next for the main characters.


Dream A Little Dream – Giovanna Fletcher

All of the books I’ve mentioned so far (apart from Love, Rosie) have been young adult books, but if you’re looking for characters who are mid-twenties, Giovanna Fletcher has you sorted.

Dream A Little Dream deals with the frustration of our MC’s career stagnating, annoying people in the workplace, sucky bosses, dealing with exes, wonderful friends, and, of course, a romance right out of your dreams. I’m sure we can all relate to at least one of those things there, right?

It’s one of those books that has you hooked from the first page and desperate for more when you reach the end. Luckily for you, Giovanna has released a festive novella called Dream A Little Christmas Dream, which I’m sure will be just as good.


What fuzzy books do you recommend I read over Christmas?

Life, Music

Def Leppard – Genting Arena | 12.12.2015

December 14, 2015

Def Leppard live at the Genting Arena 2015

Def Leppard live at the Genting Arena 2015

I grew up on a steady diet of Def Leppard and Shania Twain. On Saturday, after 23 years of waiting, I finally got to see Def Leppard live.

With Black Star Riders as support, and Whitesnake and Def Leppard as co-headliners, we were treated to a fantastic night of music. Saving the best ’til last, Def Leppard were the final act of the night and surpassed my expectations.

Over the years, my Mum has told me a lot about the times she’s seen Def Leppard live (I wish I was about in the 80s to see Hysteria in the round), and I began to worry that they might not live up to my expectations, but they exceeded them.

They kicked the set off with Let’s Go, before launching into Animal, which sent shivers down my spine. Though they’ve just released a new album, they only played two songs off it (Let’s Go and Dangerous) with the majority of the songs being older ones, with a cover of Rock On by David Essex thrown in.

By far, the two songs that got the crowd going more than anything were Let’s Get Rocked and Pour Some Sugar On Me. My Mum always likes to tell me that Let’s Get Rocked was the first song I ever heard. There was a radio station in the hospital, and my Dad asked them to play it for me and apparently I heard it through headphones.

Knowing it’s the first song I ever heard, I was really excited to see it played live and it was a moment of bliss, which probably isn’t something you ever expect to hear when talking about a gig.

The evening was brought to a close with Rock of Ages and Photograph. Honestly, I could have listened to them play all night. By the time the encore came around, it felt like they were only just getting started.

Def Leppard live at the Genting Arena 2015

I’m happy that I’ve finally ticked Def Leppard off my list of Bands I Need To See Live, and I can’t wait to see them again. I swear Joe Elliot said they would see us next year, so I hope that means that by this time next year I shall have seen them for the second time. I just don’t want to have to wait 23 years to see them again.

Now I’m just waiting on Shania Twain to decide she loved her final tour so much that she wants to do a world tour.

What bands are on your ‘must see’ list?


Beauty, Beauty Reviews, Cruelty Free, Foundation, Mineral Foundation

Nude By Nature Radiant Loose Powder

December 11, 2015

Nude by Nature Loose Mineral Radiant Foundation

One of the things I’m perpetually on the hunt for, is the perfect foundation and I think I’ve found my foundation soul mate. (If such a thing exists.)

A few months ago, I ran out of my Bare Minerals foundation and wanted to continue my quest to find something with slightly heavier coverage and that helped control oil a little better. I was hunting on the Feel Unique website, when I discovered Nude By Nature. I’m not going to lie, the pretty packaging did catch my eye. I couldn’t find a huge amount of reviews for this product, but they’ve won a few awards and had a lot of good press and reviews for other products, so decided to give it a go.



The packaging is really clean and pretty, with a sleek rose gold lid that wipes clean easily. Unlike most mineral foundations, you don’t tip this product out into the lid. Instead, Nude By Nature encourage you to push your brush through the mesh sifter in the top, tap excess off, swirl around and apply. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you tipping the product into something else, but you couldn’t really use the lid it comes with as you can see from the photo above.

Nude By Nature Radiant Loose Powder

It took a bit of getting used to pushing the brush into the mesh, but I’ve actually found it to be tidier and I’m definitely wasting less product, which is always good. I was worried it would damage my brush but so far it hasn’t. I suspect that as long as you have a good quality brush, you won’t damage your brushes. (I use Real Techniques Retractable Kabuki Brush, if you’re interested.)


Product & application

The mineral foundations I’ve used previously have always had light-medium coverage, but I feel like Nude By Nature gives what I would consider almost medium coverage on first application. Coverage can be built up easily, but you do have to be careful to make sure you buff it in well, otherwise you can end up with slightly orange areas.

While it does give medium coverage straight away, it isn’t heavy or cakey; it’s lightweight and soft.

It applies really smoothly and covers up redness and blemishes quickly and easily. I know this is a bit of a cliche in the beauty world, though I don’t think I’ve ever used that phrase on my blog, but it does leave you with smooth, radiant-looking finish.

Of course, you aren’t going to completely cover and erase the odd bright red spot, but this does a pretty good job.

Without foundation

Without foundation

As you can see in the photos above, my skin is being naughty at the moment and although it doesn’t erase the blemishes, it’s not doing a bad job of concealing them.

With combination skin, I always worry about how products and my skin will get on, and I’ve had no issue with Nude By Nature’s offering at all. I find that it helps control how oily my skin is better than any other mineral foundations I’ve used. Of course, there is the odd day where my skin does feel a bit oily at the end of the day but most of the time, I will get to the end of the day and my skin still feels matte.

Talking of the end of the day, the lasting power is good and I have no complaints about it at all. I work in a bar now, which means I’m often rushing around in toasty areas, and it doesn’t melt off my face or anything. It just stays.

I have pale skin and went for the lightest shade, W2 Ivory and it matches like a dream, though apparently it does adapt naturally to match your skin tone.

Nude By Nature’s shade range is quite good and ranges from W2 Ivory through to C7 Chesnut, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a shade that matches your skin tone.

A few other key points:

  • It contains SPF 15
  • It’s cruelty free and vegan
  • Contains Australian Kakadu Plum for Vitamin C
  • Contains Jojoba Esters to nourish skin
  • Contains Kaolin Clay to give a flawless finish
  • No parabens, preservatives, or synthetic ingredients. (Visit the Nude By Nature website for a full ingredients list.)


Value for money

At £25 (from Feel Unique) for 10g, you are getting good value for money when you compare it to Bare Minerals, who sell 6g for £26.00. Yes, you can buy mineral foundation for a lot less, but if you’re looking for something with slightly heavier coverage off the bat, and that just stays, I really don’t think you can go wrong with Nude By Nature’s Radiant Loose Powder. 

It’s hard for me to say how long this product will last me, though I expect it to last at least 6 months, and I imagine it will actually last around 9 0r 10. £25 for foundation that lasts me three-quarters of a year is perfectly fine by my standards.


In short

A lightweight, oil-controlling foundation without any of the nasties that gives medium coverage off the bat, and excellent value for money.

I love this foundation and I do intend on buying another pot when I run out.


What type of foundation do you use?