Monday, 31 August 2015

OOTD - I'm So Fancy

If there's one thing I wanted to be growing up - it was Cher from Clueless. I don't remember the first time that I watched this film, but I distinctly remember blagging to my mum that - as it was based on Jane Austen's "Emma"- it was technically English revision. That was all well and good, but I never did get around to reading Pride and Prejudice until I'd already taken my exam in it (I passed though, by some miracle - I always was good at winging it!) I recently got to introduce this to my girlfriend, and it quickly became one of our favourite films to watch together - she kindly bought me this dress to remind me of the cult classic. I wear it more than I should.

Ugh As If Striped Dress
Kurt Geiger Carvela Sandals
Dress - Missguided // Shoes - Carvela @ Shoeaholics* // Bag - Cath Kidston (similiar) // Cardigan - Republic

Green Spotted Cath Kidston Bag
Necklace - Primark 

What's your favourite classic film?

Sammy xo.
*Products marked by an asterisk(*) were sent by Shoeaholics in return for a sponsored ad campaign, however this has not influenced my opinion and all views expressed are completely my own. Please read my disclaimer for more information.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Top Youtube Video Searches

As someone who spends a frankly disgusting amount of hours in bed, I get through a lot of YouTube and, honestly, I'd be lying if I said that I wouldn't watch just about anything. Having said that, I have plenty of favourite search terms to offer you - with varying levels of complete addiction. Now, with no further ado...

Top 4 Searches On Youtube

These are pretty much the same thing, and like it or not - they're crazy addictive. These are usually beauty products that people regret, although sometimes there are just random products thrown in. These are good for two reasons; you either agree and are happy somebody shares your view, or you disagree and you spend the whole video marvelling at how anyone can dislike that product - which is usually something you lost long ago and now have the motivation to dig out. 

The original of this of course is by grav3yardgirl and I think it used to go up weekly on a Friday - and I like this. We don't really have "As Seen On TV" here so it's good to know what crap infomercials in America are selling people - also sometimes you get a treat when it's something you actually can get here through JML or similar. Basically, this is just hilarious to watch and know that someone, somewhere has bought one of these seriously.

This is an old favourite of mine that I rarely pull out anymore, but it's a top search term none the less. You will honestly find all sorts on this, from rollercoasters, to things that kids have said, to unsolved crimes. These aren't for the faint hearted, and they're definitely not to watch on your own - it's true that some are laughably unscary, but some really do have you wanting to check under the bed after you've switched the light off.

Now, within this category I have a cheeky favourite, because I love tarababyz accent and so I put her Mac Lipstick Collection With Swatches on as I'm going to sleep - there's just something about Snob that I find soothing. All of these are good though - you may laugh, Katy did, but I absolutely promise that these are addictive in all kinds of ways. They're the adult version of those videos kids love where somebody opens all the surprise toy eggs.

What are your top picks for YouTube searches?

Sammy xo.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Kat Von D Tattoo Liner Review

I've been practising winged eyeliner since I was approximately sixteen and, if I'm honest, I'm still a long way from mastering it. Having said that, this ongoing life lesson that I keep attempting to learn from has helped me develop both an arch nemesis and best friend rolled into one; liquid eyeliner. I tend to be a little Goldilocks when it comes to liquid eyeliner; They're Real Push Up Liner? Too dry. Kiko Long Lasting Eyeliner Pen? Too Wet. Some are too thick, some too thin, some too solid, some too flexible - none have ever been what I want, and none have ever gone head to head with my watery eyes before and emerged victorious, until this one; Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper.

Kat Von D Liner Review

This came with my Sephora order so it was far from cheap - the website informs me that including taxes and shipping to the UK this comes to £23.46, but I think I've probably paid considerably more for considerably worse pieces of make up in the past, so I'm going to let that one slide. When I opened the package, I have to admit that I was a little underwhelmed. For a product that had been recommended to me by my trainee MUA of a cousin and literally tons of you guys over on the #bbloggers chat - this seemed remarkably like every single other pen eyeliner that I'd ever used. This got tossed to one side and lost in a pile of things if I'm honest - until it came to a night out when it was hot and I knew that my current eyeliner would run. 

I was pleasantly surprised with this from the minute it touched my skin. What I thought was going to be a rigid felt tip liner ended up having a smooth, super thin brush tip that allowed me a neat line with ease - it even had my eyeliner even in a record amount of time. So far, so good. I arrived at Katy's for a night of pub quizzes, and was met with a comment on how black my eyeliner looked - kudos to Kat Von D for the whole jet-black-without-reflecting-light-in-a-weird-way-because-it's-shiny thing that this eyeliner has, another huge tick on my list. Last but not least - this really stood the test of time; no imprinting onto the top of my lid when I was hot, no streaming down my face when my perpetually watery eyes started to play up - in fact not even the tiniest fleck missing at the end of the night, perfect right into the lash line. Bonus points for the fact that despite all of this it was a pleasure to get off with cleanser, it only took one solid wash before it was all gone.

Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper Swatch

I almost never use the term holy grail, because I enjoy switching products up so much, but this really is something - it gives me the convenience and ease of application of a gel liner, the jet black opacity of a good kohl pencil and yet it's infallible and in such great, easy to use and carry packaging. I can see why so many of you swear by this, and honestly - I really do think that I would pay the extra money to get this shipped every time it ran out, because it really is a routine-changing product for somebody who wears as much eyeliner as often as I do. You might recall that I felt a little hit and miss about the Everlasting Liquid Lipstick that also came in this order - but I have to say, Kat Von D has definitely redeemed herself in my book with this one. I will say though, I've not had mine long and the bottom of the pen does have a crack in it, so just be careful with the packaging to avoid any disasters.

What eyeliners do you swear by?

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The First Two Months - Mental Health Update

I'm now just shy of two months since going to my doctor to ask for help once again for my depression and anxiety, so for just shy of two months I've been taking Sertraline again. These few weeks have definitely been hard - my dose was increased after two weeks and my side effects, although few and far between, have been pretty bad - I've felt achey and more exhausted than I've ever know in my life. My Doctor thinks this is likely to only be short term, but the fact is we really won't know until I keep taking them and see whether it eventually wears off or not. I promised I'd show all sides of my depression where I felt able and willing to write about it, and so I thought I'd give a little update to keep good on my promise.

First Two Months on Setraline

After a few more ups, I've had many more downs. Less melt downs, but more apathy - and I don't know honestly which I find more frustrating. Although I've been a lot more focused and able to work - I've also been a lot more forgetful and generally uncomfortable. It's undeniable that the Sertraline is helping with my anxiety; it's triggered less often, I find myself having less days that seem impossible. Having said that, my depression is still around it's lowest - I find it easier to cope with than my high anxiety, but it's still less than pleasant. I struggle to wash my hair, get out of bed, sleep at night, stay awake during the day. I had my initial telephone consultation for CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) yesterday, and that's less of a step forwards than a leap - it'll take a few months to get real appointments, but they will teach me to cope better with the emotions that overwhelm me.

Having said that - I feel, for the first time in a long time, that I'm managing to take steps forwards. I still have days where my thoughts go to places I never thought I would have to learn to exist within, however I am slowly learning to pull myself back from the edge - single step by single step. Until we had a few good days last week - I don't think I realised how much my illness had really impacted on my family, my friends and Katy. Two or three days of laughing easily and leaving the house without worrying and being out without wanting to immediately return home made me realise how much I missed it - it made returning to my lowest points harder, I want happiness so badly now I've tasted it that I'm less willing to let it go. I'm stronger than my illness, and slowly but surely, I'll get there.

How have you guys been doing these last few weeks?

Sammy xo.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Nicka K Nail Varnish Review and Swatches

A few weeks ago I got offered a chance to review some nail varnishes from Nicka K, and my god did I jump at it. If you saw my Bedroom Tour, you'd know that I have such a love for nail varnishes that my dad installed shelves especially for my collection - and these were aesthetically (oh, how Tumblr) like absolutely none that I owned. I got a nice range of colours when they arrived, and a good range of finishes, and so I really did feel like I got to try the brand and really put them through their paces (I took all my swatch pictures after a base coat and two colour coats - no top coat to allow you to see how they really look on).

Nicka K Nail Varnish Overview

The first colour I wanted to try was the Sky Blue* (these bottles don't have names on that I can see, although they are named on the BeautyCrowd site) - this is a fairly flat blue, but it really did surprise me. The only colour that I had that's similar to this is Barry M's Blueberry Ice Cream - I struggled with Blueberry ice cream as I find it really difficult to get a really opaque colour, but this honestly couldn't be any further up the scale. I had this opaque after a base coat and a single coat, and the second coat I used just to add colour etc. This is a really strong blue (a little more pastel than it photographs when you see it in real life) with a nice glossy sheen. With no top coat, this lasted a solid few days on my nails - probably about the same as Barry M nail paints, with a salon top coat like I normally use (Seche Vite etc.) I suspect you could get a fair amount longer out of this.

Nicka K Sky Blue Nail Varnish Swatch

I approached Glitter Red* with a certain amount of trepidation. This is a red glitter polish with a chunkier silver glitter dispersed inside. There were two reasons I was worried about this polish;

1) Glitter nail varnish can often be next to impossible to remove
2) I had no idea whether this should be a top coat, or a coloured polish within itself

I applied it to my bare (basecoated) nail, and after one coat - assumed that this was a mistake, however - after two coats I think it's definitely wearable on it's own. I had some minor issues with this one - I find it quite hard to spread the chunkier silver glitter evenly across my nails, and I also think that this is fairly hard to paint cleanly and neatly with the addition of the glitter. I do like how this looks on though, and I'll definitely be reaching for it at Christmas. I found this surprisingly easy to get off, no clumps of cotton wool stuck to my nails at all, and it lasted a fair few days without a top coat without chipping. Not my favourite of the nail varnishes I received, but definitely not a bad nail varnish within itself.

Nicka K Glitter Red Nail Varnish Swatch

When I first saw Pearly Orange* colour in the bottle, I was immediately reminded of Ciate island hopping - a nail varnish that's a red/orange duochrome that I just never got along with. When I put this one though, it couldn't be more different; it's a metallic tangerine sort of colour, with next to no visible glitter but a really solid shimmer. There's something about this that clashes with my super pale skin and I just really like it. The sky blue remains my absolute favourite, but this is a step out of my comfort zone and one that I definitely want to keep experimenting with as we head towards Autumn (and Halloween!)

Nicka K Pearly Orange Nail Varnish Swatch

All in all, for the price - I'm been amazed with Nicka K - £4.95 a nail varnish puts them solidly in the centre of high street prices, but their packaging and opacity has them solidly towards the front of the pack. I find the orange polish a little thin and the red glitter hard to work with - however; I do think that they're a brand worth trying, and one I hope I'll be seeing more of in the future.

Sammy xo.
*Products marked by an asterisk(*) were sent by BeautyCrowd in consideration for a review, however this has not influenced my opinion and all views expressed are completely my own. Please read my disclaimer for more information.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Zoeva Cocoa Blend Palette Review

Last week I was ordering some brushes from Zoeva when I made an executive decision that I needed a palette - stuck between Cocoa Blend and Rose Golden, I did what any smart girl would do; ordered one for me and one for Katy, knowing that we'd likely share them and end up with both between us. Sneaky, but effective. When they arrived, I fawned over both - but eventually let Katy choose which one she thought suited her better, so off she went with the Rose Golden and left little old me playing with the Cocoa Blend.

Zoeva Cocoa Blend Palette Overview Picture

There's been so much talk about this palette - but honestly, I was dubious. It's gorgeous, sure, but I've never had a really good palette from a company that specialised in something before it moved into make-up, up to this point. I'm sort of glad that Katy left this beauty in my capable hands, although Rose Golden is super pretty, it's full of shimmery pastel tones that I'm just not sure I'd know what to do with - and although these reds lean a little brave for someone as pale as me; this is a palette I think has proved itself really versatile.

Zoeva Cocoa Blend Palette Swatches
(L-R) (Left) Bitter Start, Sweeter End, Warm Notes, Subtle Blend, Beans Are White
(Right) Pure Ganache, Substitute For Love, Freshly Toasted, Infusion, Delicate Acidity

I have been pleasantly surprised, I'll swallow my pride and admit it. These shadows pack quite the punch - the shimmers more so than the mattes, in my opinion; but both are certainly pigmented, soft and easy to work with. My standout shades are all shimmers, which is really unusual for me - but warm notes is an intoxicating colour, and pure ganache and subtle blend are so versatile that I can imagine working with them on a daily basis. In fact - I've barely reached for the mattes at all, although Freshly Toasted has definitely caught my attention more than once.

Zoeva Palette Close Up Pictures

This isn't a perfect palette by any means - I hate cardboard packaging for a start, but that's just a personal niggle, and this is super pretty on the outside however it doesn't have a mirror, which I find really frustrating. For the price, I think the shadows are amazing quality, however I will say that at first I found "infusion" quite hard to work with, but the more I use it the more it seems to work for me so I'm not sure if it's maybe got some sort of denser glitter overspray. I picked this up for €17.50 on the Zoeva website, plus their shipping charge - so although not the cheapest palette on the market, it's far from expensive. What I do hate though is that the font of the shade names inside this palette and inside the Rose Golden palette are different - it irks me a little when sets don't match in little ways like that (is that just me?)

All in all, I really like this. I reach for it often and I think it's a really versatile palette, with some good warm colours as we slowly slip into Autumn. Don't expect the best palette you've ever tried, but do expect an underdog that will take a solid place in between your higher end palettes.

Have you tried any of Zoeva's palettes?

Sammy xo.

Friday, 21 August 2015

The Chester Botanist's First Birthday!

My first experience with The Botanist was an awestruck one - marvelling at the bike chandelier in the Chester branch. After that, it was taking photographs of the treehouse and glass dome up in Newcastle - and the wonder never seems to wear off for me; whenever I visit a Botanist, no matter how many times I've been before, there always seems to be something that I didn't see last time, a little something hidden behind a big something else. There's just something so captivating about the chain of bar/restaurants that really catches the imagination, and so when the Chester Botanist invited me to their first birthday party (alongside the very beautiful Katy), I couldn't wait to get my gladrags on for a night of cocktails, garden games and a whole lot of fun.

The Botanist Duck

When we arrived (early, for the first time in my entire life) we were sat down as they finished setting up - shortly after which, we were handed a glass of Prosecco and a gorgeous striped paper bag each and left to explore. Although usually absolutely breathtaking in it's decor, for the night the restaurant had pulled out all the stops, with bunting, paper lanterns and balloons decorating the bar area. In the bags (which we delved into as soon as we'd managed to snap some photographs) there were a few sweet treats, two lollipops sticks (one could be redeemed for a Botanist cocktail and one for Pimms later in the night) and laminated instructions on how to use them.

Botanist Party Bags

Getting there early meant we got a good go at everything before there were too many people to play effectively - and my lord was there some fun things to do. We had been promised some garden games and The Botanist definitely delivered - we tried our hand at a giant jenga, played some slightly-larger-than-normal connect four and also played some hook-a-duck and hoopla (well, we had to give everything a fair go.) Fair to say though, there was only one place I was interested in being - and that was at the cupcake station.

Giant Party Games

THAT'S RIGHT, A DECORATE YOUR OWN CUPCAKE STATION. Which, it turns out - I took surprisingly seriously... They were a lot of fun to do though, and definitely brought everyone's competitive side out (I'm not naming any names, Topshop team, but there was definitely some "worst cupcake I've ever seen"'s being thrown around later in the night!) We tried to stick around for the winner - who won a meal for two at The Botanist (I strongly suspect it should have been me!), although I was so tired we ended up leaving a little early; although not before a cheeky Botanist cocktail (a florally, minty mix of jasmine, lime, red amaranth, mint, rum and elderflower liqueur - I'd highly recommend) and also a glass of Pimms (not to mention a shot of cocktail in a glass, although I didn't manage to catch just what!). We also got to catch some of the live music, which had all of us dancing and singing and generally just pulled the night together in a really lovely, friendly way.

Cupcake Making Station and Cocktails

All in all, we had a fabulous night. Not only is the atmosphere in The Botanist Chester special, they fill it with people who reflect it to a tee. We laughed with waiting staff, barmen and managers alike during the night - and all were willing to stand and chat for at least a few minutes where they could. I hear the canapes were nice, although I missed out as I was taking cheeky selfies with the props they left out especially! Happy First Birthday, The Chester Botanist, we had a ball - and here's to many more to come.

Blonde Girl Selfie

Have you been to the Botanist? What were your opinions?

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Are LGBTQA+ Public Figures Obligated To "Come Out"?

When I came out to my parents - it felt archaic. As proud of myself as I was, and as much as it was freeing and their support was amazing - it seemed completely unnecessary; I never would have sat them down and talked so openly about a relationship with a boy, and yet because of the sex of my partner I felt like it was my duty to disclose our relationship. I thought this was something that only I was hung up on, but when I watched Tyler Oakley's "The GAYEST video EVER" - the idea came up about whether it was somebody's duty, particularly those in the public eye, to come out.

It was agreed that no, they didn't have any sort of obligation - although, Tyler suggested, if they didn't, it would be a missed opportunity. Do I agree? I can't decide. When I was really coming into my own with regards to my sexuality, I heavily related to Ellen Page when she said, "I felt like I was lying by omission" - I've talked about this before, but I doubt that we're alone in feeling like if we didn't explicitly tell people that we were gay, that was as good as lying. The more I thought about it, the more that I realised that actually - pretty much every public figure I could think of that identified as LGBTQA+, give or take a couple (that I think I could probably count on a single hand) had come out publicly.

Ellen Page Quote

I understand that, for children and teenagers like myself, who worry about whether they will be supported by friends, family and society alike - these people making their sexuality so public is a comfort, it helps us form some sort of normality in a public eye that was previously so based around heteronormality it left little room for anybody identifying in a different way. As sexuality develops, these people who have taken the step to come out in such a public way, allow a chance for society as a whole to develop our attitudes - and yet, isn't the idea that we still have to come out sort of going against that in the first place? It only goes to show that, as a society, we tend to favour the assumption that most people are heterosexual - given that people who don't fall on this point on the scale still feel the need to explicitly tell people for fear of being seen as underhand.

The fact is that in an ideal society, nobody should feel obligated to come out for, in an ideal society, it wouldn't be pushing against the idea of normal. I am not abnormal, and gone are the days of people being taught that there is little in between the realms of gay and straight - sexuality is a spectrum, I'm not always convinced that my point on it is definite, I find my sexuality has been fluid in the past - and I think that's probably the same for a lot of people. As helpful as it is to those struggling when Public Figures come out, they shouldn't feel obligated - nobody should, because it's time that we started making less of a deal about people's sexualities; maybe then we wouldn't have to feel like we were lying by omission if we didn't declare something, irregardless of whether or not we'd taken active steps to hide it.

What do you think?

Sammy xo.

Monday, 17 August 2015

OOTD - Just Chase Skirts Instead

I've been suffering a little from lack of confidence lately, but it's nothing that a pretty dress and some grown up school shoe-esque T-bars can't fix. I'm being a little brave going bare legged here, as I'm barely ever seen without my usual black tights and cardigan - but even I have to admit that despite the ever-looming grey cloud, the heat really is starting to make the North West feel like Summer is in full swing (irregardless of the fact that it's nearly time for it to be over. Also, sorry about the whole "dress is from T.K.Maxx situation - I realise that's like saying look at this dress that I love that you'll never be able to find for yourself.

Navy Long Sleeved Dress
Dress - T.K.Maxx // Shoes - Topshop (similiar) // Bag - Michael Kors 

Michael Kors Bag
Necklace - Primark (similiar) // Bracelet - Astrid and Miyu // Ring - Pandora 

Are you dressing for Summer, or already delving into your Autumn wardrobe?

Sammy xo.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick - Vampira

I'm inherently lazy and I often fear embarrassment, and it's for this reason that if I know that at some point I'm likely to have to eat, I tend to avoid wearing lipstick that day (hey, I don't want a super smudgey mouth, nor do I care to get a mirror out and take the time to reapply, usually). So when my cousin came out for lunch with me sporting a seemingly unsmudgeable lipstick I had to get in on the action - and so I ordered myself one of the Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks. Unfortunately the super pretty nude that she was rocking (Lolita) seems perpetually sold out so I settled for a colour right across the other end of the scale and opted for the "deep reddish burgundy" of Vampira.

Kat Von D Everlasting Lipstick In Vampira

Now these aren't available in the UK so I had to search far and wide for them, and ended up ordering from Sephora - I found them on other sites, but the prices were around the same; and they're definitely far from cheap. I bought this and the Tattoo Liner in Trooper, and both came in at just under £50 including shipping and taxes (I checked on Sephora, and the lipstick alone would cost £26.37) but I bit my tongue and ordered them anyway; it's a dirty job but somebody's got to do it.

When this arrived, I had to double-take - it was brown. I panicked for a solid ten minutes about how I was going to wear a brown lipstick; and wear it I would have to, given that it cost me even more than my beloved Charlotte Tilbury Glastonberry. However, when I finally thought to pull the applicator out, I realised my mistake - in bulk, clearly this shade resembles a muddy brown, but when you use it as directed this is a super deep purpley red. It's not lightyears away from Glastonberry, in fact - but it's not quite like anything else that I own.

Kat Von D Vampira Swatches

You have to work fast with this stuff - the doefoot applicator makes it hard to get an exact smooth line and an even colour (especially if you're poor at drawing like myself) and you have little room to fix it up, because when it's set - it's set for good. I tried wiping this (little to no transfer), kissing Katy's face repeatedly (some transfer, but none missing from my lips) and I got a whole night in the pub eating, drinking and being merry before I had to top it up - definitely longer than I would out of your run of the mill lipstick tube. You do have to be careful with this stuff though, and keep an eye on it - as it started to wear off, it's a stark line sort of wear as opposed to a smooth wear off, and maybe with the lighter nudes that wouldn't be so dramatic, but with Vampira it looks super strange.

Was it worth the money? I'm not sure. I like not having to top them up as much - but I also hate the paranoia that I have to check whether they're wearing off. They're super comfortable and not overly drying on the lips - I'd definitely be willing to give the paler colours a go, but maybe the dark ones are for special occasions, where I'm going to have free and frequent access to a mirror, only. I do have to say though - for something with such strong staying power, these really are super easy to get off at the end of the night - so extra points for that.

What liquid lipsticks could you recommend?

Sammy xo.

Friday, 14 August 2015

No Sex Please, We're British

It seems that there's an everlasting fight in Britain - we know that for our younger generations to grow up safe and making the right choices we have to teach them about sex and yet, there's still a slight prudishness in the air about just how much sex is really acceptable to talk about. For the right reasons or not, it's undeniable that sex monopolises our media - and maybe it's time that we stopped making it something to be discussed with fifteen year old children over the dinner table in awkward static just the once, stopped making it something that teenagers might not really understand but had next to nobody to ask their questions to.

Last week, Sex in School made us wonder if more needs to be done for the education system, and although a GCSE seems too far - the fact is, when I came out to my friends at 18 years old it became abundantly clear that, whereas sexual safety at a basic level and sexual contact between and male and female were covered (albeit in a technical, cold way) anything slightly outside the realms of what lay the path for the old fashioned "normal" still lacks a space within England's curriculum. As our nearly-adult generation preach important lessons about non-binary genders, asexuality, pansexuality and many other points on the sexuality spectrum, it seems that realistically - our education system has a lot to catch up on.

Sex Drawing

I went to a good school, I didn't skip any Biology nor PSHE lessons (general studies was a different story altogether) and as much as I like to think I know a fair amount about sex - the fact is, like many others my age and older, I don't know as much as I should - and the bits that I do know all too often came from the internet as opposed to through textbooks. I'm not for a second, you understand, suggesting that Ann Summers should have her own chapter in our school workbooks, but I do think that sex education needs to take a step forwards into new territory, help people who aren't heterosexual with how to stay safe - know the long lasting impact of STI's beyond HIV. Condom use is at an all time low within Britain and I'm not surprised - growing up in a girl's school declarations of being worried about being pregnant weren't uncommon or unheard of, but those same people who'd had unprotected sex seemed fairly unaffected by the idea of anything more than a toddler by twenty.

As teenagers get more savvy about sex, something inevitable within the digital age, Britain needs to take a step forward and realise that as kids get more wise, so must the adults put in place to teach them - the last thing we need is another ten years of Mean Girls-esque sex education (altered only, of course, by the fact that British schools still can't give out condoms).

Do you think more needs to be done for sex education in Britain?

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

You ain't special Oxford Street / Lush Haul

The time has come, Oxford Street - you might be the golden child but your crown is slipping. People no longer have to visit you for The Experimenter, or Frozen; gone are the days of bad Youtube descriptions of smells. That's right, guys - the Lush collection that was previously Oxford Street exclusive is slowly but surely rolling it's way into all high street shops (and buzz on the street and behind the tills in our Liverpool store, only slightly bitter about being shunted from their top spot of biggest Lush storefront in the world by the way, is that we'll be getting more or less all of the products - minus gourmet soaps etc.)

Lush The Experimenter

I mean, it's not quite 220 exclusive items, admittedly - but our local Lush store definitely has enough to make me child in a sweet shop giddy, so this week - despite me having already picked up some oldies by goodies online, also shown here - I grabbed some new-to-most-stores bits and pieces. Let's start with the ultimate favourite; Avobath. I always feel like this is such a copout when I buy it, it does nothing except turn my colour a weird pastel green colour - but the smell is so fresh and my skin feels so nice afterwards that I do keep going back and back. In this order I also grabbed a You've Been Mangoed bath melt; this reminds me a lot of the smell of Dragon's Egg, only contains a lot more oil as you'd expect and left my skin so silky smooth and fruity smelling Katy insisted on smelling my arms.

Lush Avobath

I'm guilty of always sticking to what I know in Lush, as I'm sure many of us are - so this time I branched out and got a few different bits and pieces. First up - Fun. I'm super annoyed that I haven't bought any of these before - I grabbed the pink one on a whim knowing you can use it as bubble bath and it's pretty cheap for the amount but, oh my god, this as shampoo is amazing. The pink fun is supposed to smell like sweets - I wouldn't say it reminded me of physical sweets, but it is sweet in a subtle way. Basically I love this stuff - plus I can make baby piglets from it before I wash my hair. D'Fluff Shaving Soap was next and I've wanted to try this for ages - but finally made the jump after tearing a huge piece out of my leg shaving it last week; I wouldn't say this smells like strawberries but it's not repulsive, I'm willing to give it a bash. Last but not least in the try section, Dirty Toothy Tabs - sort of like biting into a tablet of bicarb but mellows out into a spearminty foam so swings and roundabouts; I'll like this a lot more when I'm travelling, I think.

Lush Dirty Toothy Tabs

Last up - NEW PRODUCTS. If I'm honest, I could have gone a lot more crazy with this as there was so much that I wanted - Cup Of Coffee is at the top but Liverpool only had huge pots. This time though, I decided to stick to bath bombs and bubble bars. Intergalactic is a super pretty blue bath bomb with pink, yellow and white running through it - this is one I can imagine buying again and again; it's subtly minty and fresh smelling and out of all the new products it's definitely one that I gravitated towards. Next up was the Granny Takes A Dip Bubble Bar - I never had this as a bath bomb as when I bought it for a present it broke apart which put me off, but this strikes me as not smelling much like the original. Irregardless, it's not unpleasant - it's meant to be lemony but I mostly get ginger; I'm not massively into it, but it makes a nice change from the super sweet Comforter. Last but not least, The Experimenter. This isn't one that I'll be going back to - but I needed to see what it looked like in the bath. I love the look of the product, but the smell puts me right off - this is allegedly vanilla-esque although I don't think it reminds me of that at all - I find it a heady sort of scent, almost bordering on incense.

Lush Intergalactic

All in all, I have a well stocked Lush drawer - no doubt I'll be giving reviews of things as they're finishing up, and no doubt more will be making their way to me in brown boxes.

Have you bought anything from the Oxford Street range yet?

Sammy xo.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Mental Health - Frustration

There are a lot of things that I find so frustrating about my mental health issues - I find it frustrating that I sleep too much sometimes, and then not at all others, that I struggle to take my tablets even though I know that in the long run they will work towards making me feel better. Overall though, without a doubt, what I find the most frustrating is not knowing how other people feel in contrast to how I feel.

I've been unhappy for a fairly long time and, although most days I find it possible to push through, there are some days that I find myself looking around my friends in the pub in complete confusion - because I have no idea what that feels like any more. For my whole teenage life and beyond so far, I have really dreaded all sorts of social occasions - whenever I leave the house I find myself clock watching, and even within my own friendship group I worry if my friends really do like me; thus, meeting new people can be really overwhelming for me. More than anything else that I find frustrating - it's this. I really don't remember what it's like to be completely content, lost in the moment, just enjoying myself.

Thunder Cloud Drawing

When I allow myself the indulgence of thinking about getting better - this is definitely one of the things that I strive towards. As much as my heads regularly tells me that we don't want to get better, we are - in equal measure - desperate to finally go out and not worry about when we have been there long enough to leave, or what everybody is thinking about me and what I chose to wear, or a million other things that people without poor mental health probably don't even think about. As frustrating as my parents and my friends probably must find it to try and imagine what my head currently feels like - I find it equally frustrating to work out the inner workings of other people's minds. I really am working on getting there, just like my family and friends are working towards understanding better.

Mental health is frustrating to deal with - but just know that as frustrating as it is to be around, it's considerably more awful to have to live through it. I'm trying to see life through other people's eyes, and I'm eternally grateful other people around me are working towards trying to see life through mine, as unpleasant as that might be.

Sammy xo.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Urban Decay Naked Skin Foundation Reviw

Being both insanely pale and blessed with really crap skin - I'm always on the look out for a decent heavy duty foundation that isn't super orange. Having said that, since I was guilted into a new skincare routine - I've been tempted over to the sheer side; alongside better skin has come a whole set of foundations that previously wouldn't have come anywhere close to the coverage I needed, and Naked Skin by Urban Decay was right at the top of that list.

Naked Skin Real Techniques Brush

I've lusted after this for a fairly long time, but I knew that it wouldn't suit my blemished skin - however now my skin is well on it's way to being sparkly clear (you better all be touching wood as you read this) I thought I'd give it a shot. Now, this isn't cheap at £27, but it isn't at the top end of high end foundations by any means - plus, and we all know this is like striking gold when you're buying a high end foundation, it comes with a pump built in - you go Urban Decay. Besides there being a dismal lack of Customer Service at my local Urban Decay counter (to the point where I matched myself, located the product and had to take it to another till due to lack of staff), I was super into this when I got it home.

You know what, though? I genuinely do still really like it - even if it isn't my sort of thing normally. It's super watery, like Face and Body-esque, and it has metal balls inside the container which you can shake up - not sure the point of them, but hey. I apply this using my Zoeva silk finish with Benefit Porefessional underneath - and that works for me; it's light to medium coverage at best, but it's a perfect shade for my skin, which I really don't often find. You really do need to set this if you can, which is a bit of a bummer as especially when it's hotter (which it isn't here, but let's just pretend for a minute) because although I used to be a matte kind of girl, I'm really loving a bit of dew - but it does tend to wear off if you leave it un-powdered, especially towards the end of the day. As with any light/medium coverage foundation, you can't get away with using just this to disguise blemishes - but as long as you get a pretty close matching concealer, this actually works really well at making your skin look much clearer and healthier; or at least it does for me.

Naked Skin 0.5 Swatch

Do I have some niggles? Always - nothing's ever perfect! Shaking this bottle has had me dropping it at least twice, and the foundation being so liquid means everything that was stored in the pump flies out - although admittedly that's me being a clutz. This is also really, really watery - which can make it a little hard to apply. It goes on nicely, but as I have to pump it onto the back of my hand and then apply to my face, it's like an elaborate circus act trying to keep it from running down my wrist and onto the bed. I would say it's worth it though, especially when I see the match to my skin tone (I'd say the perfect mid ground between the sightly too white Illamasqua Skin Base 2 and the slightly too orangey Mac NC15, tone wise) and how healthy my skin looks.

Is it my favourite foundation? No, probably not - but it is a good addition to the collection, and I probably would buy it again. Any other nice foundations for ghosts left in the comments would be much appreciated, though.

Have you tried Naked Skin?

Sammy xo.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Do I Have To Love Myself First?

A few nights ago - I stumbled across a tweet. It was a strongly worded tweet, sure, but not an offensive one - more than anything it just left me pondering a point; the tweet in question simply pointed out how ridiculous it is that some supposedly positive people suggest the only way people will love you is if you're able to love yourself.  This is a sentiment that I've seen a lot of - not only online but generally growing up - but is it really true?

I'm not a massive fan of myself. On good days, I can see my positive attributes, on bad days I see little good in myself - just like, I'm sure, most other people around me. Do I love myself? No. Far from it. The issues I have with myself prevent me from having a loving relationship with myself. Does that mean nobody loves me? No, once again - or at least I hope my parents, friends, family and girlfriend love me. I have loved many people who had no love for themselves - just because there are some things that prevent people from seeing their own worth, that doesn't make them less beautiful, less intelligent, less humorous.

Love Yourself First Quote

This sentiment, although supposedly well-meaning, is actually pretty harmful. When you're in a place wherein you struggle to love yourself - surely the last thing you need is a suggestion that nobody else will love you either? Loving yourself is hard, much harder than most people give you credit for, and it's something all of us are likely to struggle with at some point or another - and even for the best of people I imagine it comes with time, experience and support amongst a million other things. If nobody was ever loved until they loved themselves - maybe nobody would ever come to love themselves.

People seeing your worth is a part of it all - Katy seeing my humour, my Mum and Dad seeing my intelligence, they all help me love myself. It's not that you need other people to love you in order to find some self love, it's just that undoubtedly there is at least one person who will help you along the way. Loving yourself first is an old fashioned, untrue concept - and when you think maybe nobody loves you because you can't find it in you to love yourself; think of every time you've reassured a friend of their beauty, wit, knowledge. Your inability to see what it is that other people love about you certainly doesn't mean that there is nothing to be loved.

What do you think of the idea that you have to love yourself first?

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Asarii Chocolate Mud Face Mask

The only thing better than chocolate is skincare that smells like chocolate (or any kind of food. Within reason.) and so when Asarii offered to send me a product to test out - I couldn't resist their Chocolate Mud Face Mask*. I believe that they also do these in Vanilla Pod and Green Tea - both of which sound lush, although at the time of writing this post up I know that Green Tea was sold out and has been for a while now - why that makes me want it more, we may never know. 

Asarii Chocolate Mask

I had a minor issue with this when it arrived - as the lid had clearly loosened in the packaging and some had leaked out. It wasn't a huge deal, it was easy to clean up - but it is worth knowing if you order one. Now the important stuff - this looks and smells like chocolate mousse, which I'm not against - however, it's not smooth like I would expect from a face mask, it has a small amount of texture to it which is presumably the mud; this makes it quite thick but it does feel nice on the skin.

Asarii Mud Mask Inside

Now you'll know if you read my Skincare Routine that I'm really into it at the moment - so it's good to know that Asarii consider this a month's supply; because that means I'm all set until the end of the Summer face mask wise. If I'm honest, the first few times I used this I probably put too much on as it wasn't quite set when I came to take it off - so I would recommend going as thin as possible; in which case you could definitely get a solid ten masks, if not more, out of these tiny pots.

Is it worth the £21.99? For me, yes. I like to stick with a single product if I know that it works for me - and it's worth paying the extra simply so I don't have to have those weird plastic packages that mud masks normally come in. However, it is worth noting that it works out around £2.20 for a mask and you can get nearly 4 Seventh Heaven masks for the same price. I would recommend this, though - my skin is clearer and brighter and I'm never going to turn down something that smells like cake batter when I'm putting it on my skin. I'll definitely be grabbing a Green Tea one when it finally comes back into stock!

Have you tried anything from Asarii? What did you think?

Sammy xo.
*Products marked by an asterisk(*) were sent by Asarii in consideration for a review, however this has not influenced my opinion and all views expressed are completely my own. Please read my disclaimer for more information.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Gin Tasting With Liquor and Allsorts

Of all the gin joints in all the world, Katy and I picked a shadowy back room with some ominously lit candles. Sound weird? I'll backtrack. For Katys birthday, her brother got me and her a gin tasting experience - an interesting choice of present given that Katy doesn't drink spirits straight and I don't drink, well... At all, pretty much. So, it was with slight trepidation that we lined our stomachs (well, I had a packet of quavers, some wine gums and a cinnamon swirl), braved the Saturday morning bus over to Liverpool and made our way to a gin tasting that took place pre-lunch on a Saturday lunchtime.

Cocktails and Other Cures

Having never have been to Frederik's on Hope Street, where Liquor and Allsorts hold their event every Saturday, I didn't really know what to expect - but for somewhere outside the city centre, albeit barely, it was very easy to find. So, in the shadow of the Metropolitan Cathedral, we slipped into Frederik's low lit bar and took a seat at the bar to wait for the tasting to begin (to see the live updates of the event, you can go and check the hashtag #katyandsamgogintasting on Twitter). We were taken into a darkened back room - very atmospheric - and settled between three other couples at the back of the room. Each table had enough plates for people on there, a glass each for the gin and a cake stand of beautiful cakes (which I neglected to take a photograph of as it turns out non-bloggers don't understand the don't-eat-until-post-photograph rule!) Nervous, but ready - we grabbed our complimentary gin cocktails (very aniseedy, not to my taste, but interesting) from the bar and took a register.

Orange And Lemon Segments

 Phil, our host, started with a brief history of gin and then got to the bit everybody was waiting for - shots of gin. There was something for everyone (even me, not a massive drinker at all!) we had cardamom infused gin, grapefruit infused gin - we even made our own G&T's, infused with herbs and fruit of our choice, which was fun, and finished off with what I strongly suspect was a martini glass full of apple sours (although Phil insists it was an appletini). The afternoon tea, included in the package, was definitely not to be sniffed at either - we had midway snacks of bacon and cheese muffins as well as some scones and some sweet little pastries. 

Lesbian Couple

Did we have fun? Damn straight - not so much the gin, but the people we shared a table with (shout out particularly to Margaret and Dave who took photos for us, entertained us with their jokes and put up with us giggling all the way though) definitely made the experience one to remember. I also learned that Liquor and Allsorts do a similar experience with whiskeys and I'll definitely be looking into it for my dad and my brother. Liquor and Allsorts is definitely good respite on a Saturday afternoon if you're around Liverpool - you can order tickets here.

Have you ever done an alcohol tasting? Thanks to Josh for ours!

Sammy xo.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Treaclemoon Marshmallow Hearts Bath and Shower Gel

It goes without saying that I'm not the only blogger guilty of buying bits and pieces just because I know that they'll look really cute on my instagram feed - and when Treacle Moon asked me if I'd like to give their Marshmallow Hearts Bath and Shower Gel* a go; I was more than guilty of snapping it up and dreaming of what filter I would use. Admittedly, I didn't expect much for £2.99 a bottle (Marshmallow Hearts can be found in Tesco) but I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

Treaclemoon Marshmallow Hearts

We need to talk about the smell of this. I expected the sticky, sickly smells of Yankee Fireside Treats - more like a toasted marshmallow smell, but this couldn't be further away. This is sweet in a really clean way, but it's undeniably marshmallow when you get a whiff of it - and I'm all over it; so much so that I've been using it for both bubble bath and to clean myself with (also, double use products are such a bonus, ain't nobody got time or space for double the half empty bottles around the bathroom). This stuff seems to linger on my skin in the best way - and it leaves the whole bathroom smelling amazing. A couple of downfalls? Although the clear bottles with coloured product inside make for super pretty displays, I also think as the product goes down they can look a little cheap and messy; which brings me on to point two - boy do I get through this quickly (although for £2.99, I'm not going to bitch too much about having to replace it.)

Treaclemoon Marshmallow Hearts Quote

Treaclemoon have more to offer the world than just a pretty face though - and have recently announced their partnership with BulliesOut - an organisation that provide help and support to enable young people to realise their self worth and potential. Not only do Treaclemoon send a monthly donation to BulliesOut - this year, they're planning to help raise further awareness and funds. It's always nice to know that you're supporting a company that's giving something back, isn't it!

Have you tried anything from Treaclemoon? What did you think?

Sammy xo.
*Products marked by an asterisk(*) were sent by treaclemoon in consideration for a review, however this has not influenced my opinion and all views expressed are completely my own. Please read my disclaimer for more information.