Monday, 14 April 2014

Home decor

Home decor is something I spend a lot of time thinking about, quite ridiculous seeing as I don't have my own place. I dream of living in an LA loft with exposed brick and hardwood floors, floor to ceiling windows and quirky furniture.

While it seems slightly redundant decorating my room here at my parents', my homeware storage space is running out so I thought I'd pop a few things up on the wall, and I'm glad I did, I really like how it looks.

As I sit in bed writing this, that's the wall opposite me. Until yesterday the wall was bare save for the cow head and six polaroid photos on the left. I've been waiting for a chance to knock in some more nails and hang the rhino head but didn't have the motivation until I found this anchor in Homesense the other day.

I found the anchor on sale for a mere £7.99 so I couldn't believe my luck, I would have paid double. I don't know if you can tell from the photo but it's a really chunky, heavy piece of metal. I originally thought I could use if for further jewellery storage but that looked slightly odd so I'm now at a loss of what to hang off it. The frames I bought in Tiger specifically to home the last two polaroid prints which didn't really belong with my family and friends ones. I think they look really effective against the white backgrounds so they appear to be suspended in mid air between the frames and the wall.

If you have any thoughts of what I should hang from the anchor I'd be very interested to hear, for now it might become a handy place to keep my headphones.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

My first Elf haul

Elf is a makeup brand I've seen pop up on blogs from time to time but I've never used myself. I noticed they had a 40% off sale on their website the other day which gave me the perfect excuse to try some of their products. I ended up grabbing 12 items for under £30!

I was shocked to find out how affordable Elf's products are even before the discount was applied which of course could mean the quality isn't great, but at the same time, I wasn't wasting too much money if that was the case. I figured I'd go for some good basics and if I didn't get on with them I could gift them to friends. So here's what I bought.

Mineral infused primers in Clear and Brightening Lavender - Primers are something I get a lot of use out of but for very short jobs or film makeup, I often don't need something high end. I also never use colour correcting ones and since the green one was sold out I thought I'd try the Lavender which is supposed to work well with uneven skin and neutralise yellow tones. These were £6.95 reduced to £4.17 each.

Warm Bronzer - Bronzers are something I don't have a huge selection of in my kit so I'm looking forward to giving this one a go which contains 4 sheer shades which you can mix together or use individually. These are shimmery which will be nice for summer looks but I kind of wish I'd bought the Cool Bronzer too which are all matte. This was £3.95 reduced to £2.37.

Matte Eyeshadow in Brick - This eyeshadow is a loose pigment which is something I've been enjoying lately and a matte which is my favourite. I'm really looking forward to trying this rich shade but I don't think I'll be using it with the brush provided. This was £3.95 reduced to £2.37.

Blush Brush - I'm a bit of a brush fiend as you may know and I really don't need any more but for such a cheap price I had to give one a go for future reference right? I've since been told by fellow makeup artists that Elf brushes are really good so excited to put this one to the test. I tend to use buffing brushes for blusher most of the time so it will be weird to go back to a normal blusher brush but I do like these for highlighter too. This was £3.95 reduced to £2.37.

All of these first items were from the Elf Studio range which as far as I can tell are slightly higher quality than the standard range? Do correct me if I'm wrong!

Long Wear Lip Liners in Mauve Luxe and Natural Blush - I'm always stocking up on lip liners and after reorganising my kit recently I noticed I could do with some more pale shades so I grabbed these which both come with a little sharpener. They were £1.95 reduced to £1.17 each.

Matte Lip Colour in Coral - I've been wanting to get some new spring shades to try and corals are some of my favourites, I am quite fond of pencil style lipsticks and this is apparently nice and moisturising. This was £3.95 reduced to £2.37.

Lip Stain in Pink Petal - Lip stains are the lip products I use most for myself as I find them more natural and less upkeep. I usually always get them from Covergirl which is a bit of a pain having to wait for the Mothership to go to Canada so I can stock up, so hopefully this will make a nice substitute. This was £2.95 reduced to £1.77.

Nail Polish in Skinny Jeans, Purple Dream and Copper - I never need an excuse to buy new nail polish, I've been wanting some chrome shades for ages now so we'll see what these are like. The blue is similar to a Nails inc. polish I used to have and was a bit obsessed with so happy to have that shade back in my life. These were £2.50 reduced to £1.50 each.

I haven't had the chance to try any of of this out yet so I'm really excited to have a play over the next few weeks and I'll be sure to report back when I have. I think the purple nail polish is going to be the perfect addition to an outfit I have for an event coming up which you'll find out more about next week!

Have you tried any Elf products? Let me know your thoughts on the brand and what you're most interested to hear about when I review these products in a couple of weeks!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Much more than a man's best friend

I'm a massive animal lover, it's probably a good thing I'm currently living at my parents' because if I was let loose on my own place it would pretty much be a zoo by now. I've never had a dog myself but have grown up around the pups of my friends and family and I've always longed for a fluffy companion of my own. We've always had cats, which are great too, but nothing loves you like a dog, right?

A long running obsession of mine are working dogs, and I don't just mean sheep dogs or sniffer dogs but all manor of dogs including some of which I think are most important but often overlooked - assistance or companion dogs. I was alerted to Bolt Burdon Kemp who have produced this great infographic on the subject of assistance dogs.

This outlines some of the ways in which dogs are providing assistance to those with disabilities, offering reassurance and independance. The dogs are not only helpful to individuals with physical difficulties but also give emotional support. It could be as simple as providing some much needed companionship or assisting the owner in day to day tasks.

Bolt Burdon Kemp are hoping this will help raise awareness of the importance a specially trained dog can be to those in need. If you or someone close to you is seeking extra help do consider this option, there are plenty of resources online which can give you more information.

Here are a few of the sites I found:
- Assistance Dogs
- Support Dogs
- Dog A.I.D

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Bolt Burdon Kemp but all words are my own.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Printic review + giveaway

Last week I was contacted by Printic to try out their polaroid style print service and I jumped at the chance. I've heard about a few companies offering this kind of thing and have always thought it was a great idea but yet to have tried any of them myself.

Printic gave me a code to recieve 8 free prints, so I downloaded the app, entered my coupon code and set about uploading the 8 images I wanted printed. It was super easy to navigate and use and in no time my order had been completed.

Despite Printic being a French company there are no shipping fees which is a definite plus point for me, my order also arrived really quickly, I placed it last Thursday and it arrived yesterday. (Monday) I love the simple but modern envelope they come in, a lovely touch.

Here are the photos I received, I did spend a while trying to narrow down to 8 but decided I would go for ones of friends and family as they're the kind of memories I'm most likely to want to remember. I also picked a couple of other pics I'd taken at the end of last year which I just thought were cool.

The photos are great quality, the images are clear and the colours true to life. The only improvement I could think of is that I was expecting them to be a thicker paper more like real polaroids but that's just personal preference and not really necessary as I'll always have them stuck on a wall or in a photo album.

I decided to stick the ones featuring friends and family on my wall so I can always see them, they look great, it does make me want to order loads of them and have a whole panel of photos though.

Now to the bit you've all been waiting for, Printic have offered one of you guys the chance to win 8 prints of your own. Of course you must have a smartphone (iOS or Android) to enter as you'll have to download the app to place your order. Other than that, there's three mandatory steps to enter which you can do with the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Monday, 24 March 2014

Homeware haul

Have I ever mentioned my ridiculous obsession for homeware? It's most inconvenient as I'm still living at my parents' in a teeny room, which means my glorious collection is mainly stored in boxes under my bed.

Recently I've been on a bit of a homeware buying spree however, so I thought it would be fun to show you some of my favourites.

One of my favourite places is Homesense which is the homeware section of TKMaxx, you can find many a hidden gem there and I'm often found wandering the isles trying to rationalise buying something completely ridiculous. I went to the Hammersmith branch a couple of weeks ago with a friend which was a big mistake as it turns out she's just as bad as me and we completely enabled each other.

I couldn't snatch these three items off the shelf fast enough despite the breakable nature making the following cinema trip slightly more awkward. The glass jar is super cute and like beauty bloggers everywhere I use it to store cotton pads, it was a complete bargain at £3.99. Both candles were £6.99 and smell delicious. I've been looking for a tobacco one for ages since smelling a Tom Ford tobacco and vanilla beaut ages ago.

This awesome lamp was also from Homesense and cost £12.99. It reminded me of an LA loft apartment and was another no-brainer for me. It has a fabric cord and can stand as pictured or hang from the hook on the top. It has a wall plug and on/off switch on the cord so it's currently my new desk lamp.

The illustration I won via Isobel Kho's blog, despite my absolute adoration of this print it did indeed take me over two years to get round to framing it and putting it up on my wall - oops!

Now on to some birthday gifts both of which were from one of my bestest buddies. How awesome is this giant skull candle? When I say giant I'm not kidding, it's almost as big as my face, and I have a BIG face! It also smells delicious, like berries. I haven't had the heart to burn it yet despite promises that only the middle melts and can be replaced after, but even without burning it has made my room smell gorgeous.

One of the other presents was this mechanical shark, I was actually given one by my brother too, they know the way to my heart. G also made up this fab fishbowl for it so he can swim around next to me while I work.

Another favourite place of mine to shop is Tiger, if you have never visited Tiger before you seriously need to get on it. Their stuff is brilliant and so ridiculously cheap. I really have to restrain myself when I'm in there because I could easily take home most of what's in there. G gave me this aloe vera plant so I grabbed a bigger container to repot it into..which I have yet to do as you can see. I love the print on this Chinese tea cup and the gold pot is actually a tea light holder. I may or may not put a candle in it but mainly bought it because it was gold metal and I thought it would look nice with the black and white colour scheme in my room. All of these things were only £2 each, how crazy is that??

Lastly from Tiger I figured I really should include this lipstick holder as a little heads up for anyone who has yet to purchase one. This was only £3, I don't know how this compares to those from other places but seemed like a good deal to me, and to be fair most of the lipsticks in my kit are depotted into palettes so 9 holes will be enough for my personal ones.

What are your thoughts of the items I've picked up and are you a fan of Homesense and Tiger? I still have itchy fingers when I think about the possibility of going back soon..I have a problem guys!!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Jess' top beauty tips: Makeup

A recent Twitter chat got me thinking about a new series for the blog in which I share some of my favourite beauty tips on makeup, skincare and hair. Kicking off the first edition with my favourote topic to natter on about - makeup.

- The best way to achieve a flawless base lies more with skincare than your foundation. You can slap on as much as you like to smooth out your skin, but it'll show. Keep on top of your skincare game and you'll find your foundation looks better than ever and you'll need less of it.

- On the subject of bases, if you're happy with the shade of your foundation but want something more sheer, mix in some moisturiser for a more natural, dewy complexion. I rarely buy tinted moisturiser and instead opt for making my own.

- If you have a really limited space for taking makeup out with you, mascara can double for eyeliner. Bring a thin brush along and depot a little mascara from the wand onto your hand then apply as any normal gel liner. You'll all have heard of using lipstick as creme blush etc but this is another good space saving trick to remember.

- If you have trouble creating defined lips and brows, do the best you can then create sharp lines using concealer around the edges. Make sure you blend out into your base however so you don't create bright rings around your features.

- There's plenty of great homemade lip scrub recipes on the internet, but another good exfoliating method is to use a toothbrush with your chosen product for extra efficiency. A baby toothbrush is the perfect size for this.

- For those of you who love a big smokey eye but don't like applying it before your base, pat plenty of loose translucent powder under your eyes and on the top of your cheeks. This catches all the fallout then when you're done it all brushes away without leaving horrible, dark smudges.

- On a similar vein, if you find it hard to apply mascara to your bottom lashes without making a mess, try using a plastic spoon as a barrier between the lashes and the skin. You can also try using a business card on the top lid for the same purpose.

- Slightly off tangent but you'll see how I made the connection, if you suffer from particularly puffy eyes in the morning, start keeping a metal teaspoon in your fridge and hold it gently on each eye for a quick refresh. Takes the redness and puffyness down and you may find you need less under eye concealer because of it.

- You probably know you should replace your mascara about every three months, but if yours has started to dry up quicker you can add a couple of drops of eye drops to soften it all back up after a brief stir. When your mascara finally does bite the dust throw away everything except the wand, especially if it's one you've really liked. Then when you get a new one, if the wand isn't as great you can still use the old one. It's also always handy to have spares and using them for other things such as combing through eyebrows or taming fly away hairs.

I hope you enjoyed my top makeup tips, how many of them have your tried or heard of before? I apologise for the photo : writing ratio in these posts but hopefully you made it through without the distraction of pretty pictures. I'd be really interested to get some feedback on my first beauty tip post in the comments if you have the time!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Breakfast beauts

I've been making a conscious effort to try and change my eating habits of late, it's been hard because of various birthdays and other events, combined with not being able to stick to healthy food whilst filming. However I'm trying to integrate good habits into my every day life so it will become second nature and hopefully eventually not only bring me a healthy lifestyle but help me in my quest to lose weight.

One of these good habits is eating breakfast, something I've never liked to do as long as I can remember. If I have a long day of work I know I HAVE to eat breakfast, but I've always gone for quick things like toast or cereal. Recently I've been trying out some slightly more creative recipes and here are my top three.

Peanut butter, banana and chocolate quesadilla.

Not the most healthy of the bunch but one that is packed full of energy giving ingredients that will also keep you full for longer. I like to use a small, Weight Watchers wrap which I fill with sugar free, crunchy peanut butter, half a banana and a few chocolate chips. I then fold the wrap in half and fry lightly in coconut oil.

Greek yoghurt with apple and mango puree, fruit and chia seeds.

A great one for summer or whenever you aren't feeling mega hungry. I use fat free Greek yoghurt with a couple of spoonfuls of organic apple and mango puree. I've also got some cherries and raspberries and a sprinkling of chia seeds. Despite being a light option, the fruit and seeds mean I'm less likely to get hungry soon after.

Porridge with sultanas, crushed almonds and agave nectar.

My favourite breakfast when it's cold is porridge but I don't like it unsweetened, because of this I've taken to adding other ingredients to it and came up with this delicious concoction. I make up the porridge with a handful of oats and some skimmed milk then mix in sultanas, crushed almonds and a squirt of agave nectar. This is another great option if you want something really filling.

I'm still on the hunt for other breakfast inspiration to make sure I keep up with this new regime, if you have any recipe suggestions do send them my way! Otherwise, which is your favourite of the three I've shared today?