When it comes to nails, I'm pretty hopeless.  Would you think less of me if I admitted to having the same chipped nail varnish on for two weeks now?  I don't think I'm alone in finding nail upkeep a pretty thankless task, so I've enlisted the help of my professional nail technician sister to share some tips on how to get the perfect manicure from the comfort of your own home.

Prep
No matter how beautiful your nails, they'll never look great on dry hands.  Use an exfoliator to get rid of any dead skin and reveal soft, glowing hands.  Crabtree and Evelyn do a great duo, which I reviewed here.

Cuticles
Use either cuticle remover (easily available from places like Boots) or soak your hands in warm soapy water for 5 minutes before pushing your cuticles back and snipping away any dead skin.  This leaves your nail bed looking bigger and neatens the whole area.

Shape
DO. NOT. SEE-SAW.  This is the golden rule of filing, especially if your nails are weak.  Instead, gently file in long strokes in one direction before doing the same the other way to get your desired shape.  Just don't go dragging the file back and forth rapidly - do one direction and then the other.

Buff
Bad news.  If your nails have ridges, they might never go, so now's the time to gently buff them out with a nail buffer.  You could also do this 2-3 times a week to reduce their appearance.

Paint
Start by getting rid of any nail dust and nail oil by using a nail varnish remover to wipe over them.  Always use a base coat; some brands say you don't need one, but it's recommended in order to prevent any staining.  O.P.I does some great base coats designed specifically to target nail types and conditions.  Do two layers of colour followed by a top coat to leave them shiny and the colour protected.  Wait until each layer is dry before applying the next otherwise they'll smudge and take longer to dry.  Interesting fact - it actually takes 6-8 hours for your nail varnish to dry completely, no matter how quick-drying they say they are.

Final Touches
Wipe a nail oil around your cuticle, but try to avoid the nail itself.  Cuticle oils nourish the skin around the nail and in turn encourage it to grow.  And who doesn't want strong, long nails?  Apply morning and night to get the best results.  You should also moisturise your hands daily to keep them looking nice.

Removal
To avoid drying your nails out too much, go for an acetone-free remover.  Dry nails will become flaky and break easily so it's important not to cut corners here, otherwise your previous efforts will have gone to waste.

How to get the perfect at-home manicure

26.11.14


When it comes to nails, I'm pretty hopeless.  Would you think less of me if I admitted to having the same chipped nail varnish on for two weeks now?  I don't think I'm alone in finding nail upkeep a pretty thankless task, so I've enlisted the help of my professional nail technician sister to share some tips on how to get the perfect manicure from the comfort of your own home.

Prep
No matter how beautiful your nails, they'll never look great on dry hands.  Use an exfoliator to get rid of any dead skin and reveal soft, glowing hands.  Crabtree and Evelyn do a great duo, which I reviewed here.

Cuticles
Use either cuticle remover (easily available from places like Boots) or soak your hands in warm soapy water for 5 minutes before pushing your cuticles back and snipping away any dead skin.  This leaves your nail bed looking bigger and neatens the whole area.

Shape
DO. NOT. SEE-SAW.  This is the golden rule of filing, especially if your nails are weak.  Instead, gently file in long strokes in one direction before doing the same the other way to get your desired shape.  Just don't go dragging the file back and forth rapidly - do one direction and then the other.

Buff
Bad news.  If your nails have ridges, they might never go, so now's the time to gently buff them out with a nail buffer.  You could also do this 2-3 times a week to reduce their appearance.

Paint
Start by getting rid of any nail dust and nail oil by using a nail varnish remover to wipe over them.  Always use a base coat; some brands say you don't need one, but it's recommended in order to prevent any staining.  O.P.I does some great base coats designed specifically to target nail types and conditions.  Do two layers of colour followed by a top coat to leave them shiny and the colour protected.  Wait until each layer is dry before applying the next otherwise they'll smudge and take longer to dry.  Interesting fact - it actually takes 6-8 hours for your nail varnish to dry completely, no matter how quick-drying they say they are.

Final Touches
Wipe a nail oil around your cuticle, but try to avoid the nail itself.  Cuticle oils nourish the skin around the nail and in turn encourage it to grow.  And who doesn't want strong, long nails?  Apply morning and night to get the best results.  You should also moisturise your hands daily to keep them looking nice.

Removal
To avoid drying your nails out too much, go for an acetone-free remover.  Dry nails will become flaky and break easily so it's important not to cut corners here, otherwise your previous efforts will have gone to waste.


I harp on about it often enough, even going as far as writing this post about how to save money.....but somehow I've accumulated quite a few new purchases of late.  So join me, as I sit down and revel in my spendaholic gluttony.  Just don't make me tot up how much has been spent....

Watch right here, or click this link to head across to my YouTube channel.

Video: Collective Haul

25.11.14


I harp on about it often enough, even going as far as writing this post about how to save money.....but somehow I've accumulated quite a few new purchases of late.  So join me, as I sit down and revel in my spendaholic gluttony.  Just don't make me tot up how much has been spent....

Watch right here, or click this link to head across to my YouTube channel.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9

Suddenly I'm lusting over all things celestial, rich and metallic.  I remember receiving a duvet set with a sun and moon print on as a child, and wouldn't you know it, I'm right back there wanting anything and everything cosmic.  Paperchase has an amazing new range right now, not to mention the wealth of goodness to be found on notonthehighstreet.  I'm loving the colours in that starsign print and may just have to add it to my Christmas list...

After a trip to Anthropologie at the weekend I've got a seriously pricey wishlist going on.  Is £20 too much for a calendar?  And weird as it is, is it worth saving up for that quirky magnifying glass?!

Homeware wishlist

24.11.14

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9

Suddenly I'm lusting over all things celestial, rich and metallic.  I remember receiving a duvet set with a sun and moon print on as a child, and wouldn't you know it, I'm right back there wanting anything and everything cosmic.  Paperchase has an amazing new range right now, not to mention the wealth of goodness to be found on notonthehighstreet.  I'm loving the colours in that starsign print and may just have to add it to my Christmas list...

After a trip to Anthropologie at the weekend I've got a seriously pricey wishlist going on.  Is £20 too much for a calendar?  And weird as it is, is it worth saving up for that quirky magnifying glass?!
Image found via pinterest
Blogs::
- I've been vaguely familiar with Zoe for a while now, but I wouldn't be exaggerating if I told you I've become a little obsessed lately.  She nails a smokey eye and has some seriously awesome hair.  We're verging into girl crush territory with this one...
- I do enjoy a little DIY, and this colour block vase one is right up my street.  I love collecting odd bottles and jars, so a selection of these would fit right in.  I've already begun storing up glass bottles in preparation - if you know where to look online for some cheap offerings then please let me know!

YouTube::
- My hair had been floundering at that in-between stage for a while now.  To grow out, or not to grow out?  To fringe or not?  Estee came to the rescue, and after showing my sister a photo of her haircut for inspiration, this styling video couldn't have come at a better time.
- Emma's channel was a discovery made over recent months, and has become a firm favourite.  Her set up is slick, videos are always on point and uploads are consistent.  She's one of those YouTubers that you just instantly like and enjoy watching.

Shopping::
- After a few months of not treating myself, asos lured me back with the offer of a 20% off code.  This bag is currently en route to my sticky mitts...and do I feel guilty?  Not one bit.
- Speaking of bags, I've got my eye on this one.  I tried it on in store and talked myself out of it, and now I'm kicking myself a bit.  Everytime I see Suzie wearing hers I wish I'd just bought the damn thing!

General::
- I've finally jumped on the bandwagon and started watching Game Of Thrones.  Nick's seen them all already, but it's nice to sit together watching something that we both enjoy, and this website's been a Godsend for keeping up with who's who!
- I never thought I'd say this, but I've been spending an awful lot of my time looking on Auto Trader.  My car's finance ends in February so I'm in the market for a new one...it was fun while it lasted, but I think I need to start choosing cars with back seats people can comfortably fit in.  At the moment I'm leaning towards a Fiat 500 (another thing I never thought I'd say) or an Alfa Romeo Mito.  Throw in your thoughts down below, are there any other cars I should check out?!

bookmarked #7

14.11.14

Image found via pinterest
Blogs::
- I've been vaguely familiar with Zoe for a while now, but I wouldn't be exaggerating if I told you I've become a little obsessed lately.  She nails a smokey eye and has some seriously awesome hair.  We're verging into girl crush territory with this one...
- I do enjoy a little DIY, and this colour block vase one is right up my street.  I love collecting odd bottles and jars, so a selection of these would fit right in.  I've already begun storing up glass bottles in preparation - if you know where to look online for some cheap offerings then please let me know!

YouTube::
- My hair had been floundering at that in-between stage for a while now.  To grow out, or not to grow out?  To fringe or not?  Estee came to the rescue, and after showing my sister a photo of her haircut for inspiration, this styling video couldn't have come at a better time.
- Emma's channel was a discovery made over recent months, and has become a firm favourite.  Her set up is slick, videos are always on point and uploads are consistent.  She's one of those YouTubers that you just instantly like and enjoy watching.

Shopping::
- After a few months of not treating myself, asos lured me back with the offer of a 20% off code.  This bag is currently en route to my sticky mitts...and do I feel guilty?  Not one bit.
- Speaking of bags, I've got my eye on this one.  I tried it on in store and talked myself out of it, and now I'm kicking myself a bit.  Everytime I see Suzie wearing hers I wish I'd just bought the damn thing!

General::
- I've finally jumped on the bandwagon and started watching Game Of Thrones.  Nick's seen them all already, but it's nice to sit together watching something that we both enjoy, and this website's been a Godsend for keeping up with who's who!
- I never thought I'd say this, but I've been spending an awful lot of my time looking on Auto Trader.  My car's finance ends in February so I'm in the market for a new one...it was fun while it lasted, but I think I need to start choosing cars with back seats people can comfortably fit in.  At the moment I'm leaning towards a Fiat 500 (another thing I never thought I'd say) or an Alfa Romeo Mito.  Throw in your thoughts down below, are there any other cars I should check out?!
This week I tried my hand to vlogging and documented the events of my week of work during half term.  Some days turned out well, some days did not come out as I visualised.  But you live and learn!  Vlogs aren't something I'll be doing weekly (there's nowhere near enough excitement in my life for that!) but do let me know if you enjoyed it and I'll be sure to vlog a bit more next time I'm off work! 

Hit play below, or alternatively you can watch the video here.

Video: half term week vlog

12.11.14

This week I tried my hand to vlogging and documented the events of my week of work during half term.  Some days turned out well, some days did not come out as I visualised.  But you live and learn!  Vlogs aren't something I'll be doing weekly (there's nowhere near enough excitement in my life for that!) but do let me know if you enjoyed it and I'll be sure to vlog a bit more next time I'm off work! 

Hit play below, or alternatively you can watch the video here.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry // Rachel Joyce
This is a tale of a man who goes out to post a letter, then keeps on walking.  Covering 627 miles in 87 days, Harold Fry (and the wife he leaves at home) go through somewhat of an epiphany and rediscover themselves. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I felt like it reminded me to look at the world through positive, more appreciative eyes.  There were a few points towards the end where things got a little slow but that doesn't detract from what a delightful read this was.  I spotted a spin-off book in Waterstones today, featuring the important yet mysterious character of Queenie Hennessey and I can't wait to read it!
Rating: 4/5

The Outline of Love // Morgan McCarthy
This was a book I'd been drawn to many times in the library, and finally took it out.  It's strange.  Having been an 18 year old girl at uni, I was surprised by how unable I was to relate to the main character.  Her uni friends seemed more real to me, but then perhaps that was the point.  Without giving too much away, I struggled to believe that a male author could be a celebrity and figure of general lust, and I just didn't understand the friendships forged with the older characters.  I felt like it was a book that took itself too seriously but am aware that this could have been because it was written in the first person and this could have just been a reflection of the main character herself.  In summary, the book got exciting 30 pages from the end and this lasted for just two pages.  It's a shocking twist, but one that I predicted the instant it was introduced; incidentally on the first out of the two exciting pages.  This wasn't for me.
Rating: 3/5

Instructions for Living Somebody Else's Life // Mil Millington
I don't want you to think I'm a person who gives up on books willynilly.  I'm not.  But as I've been rediscovering to love reading more I've realised that there are so many books and so little time.  So why waste it on books that really aren't a pleasure to read?  I got half way through this book when it registered that I was all too aware of the page number I was on, and that I was counting down to the end.  Nu-uh.  Time to change books.
Anyway, this book looked to be a pertinent one for the way I'm feeling now.  The main character, Chris, goes to bed at 25 and wakes up in his mid-40s with no recollection of the past 18 or so years.  An interesting storyline with impressive reviews on the back cover.  It felt a little like 90s Brit-comedy though, and was written very much in a 'blokey' style.  That, coupled with how slow it was for any real action to kick in (by halfway I still felt nothing had happened) meant I really couldn't face continuing with this book.
Rating: 1/5

The Husband's Secret // Liane Moriarty
This is a story of intertwining lives which, at first, I found it quite hard to keep up with.  The characters, however, soon slot into place alongside one another and it's much easier to follow.  Cecilia Fitzpatrick discovers a letter written by her husband only to be opened in the event of his death.  He's very much alive though, and seeing how desperate he is for her not to read it only fuels her desire to discover his secret even more.  She opens the letter and life is never the same.  I won't give much more away, but I really enjoyed reading about the characters' parallel lives and the way that one act can impact upon so many.  It's a story of love, loss, family and rediscovery which I'd recommend to anyone looking for chick-lit with a bit more bite.
Rating: 4/5

Read // 3

10.11.14

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry // Rachel Joyce
This is a tale of a man who goes out to post a letter, then keeps on walking.  Covering 627 miles in 87 days, Harold Fry (and the wife he leaves at home) go through somewhat of an epiphany and rediscover themselves. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I felt like it reminded me to look at the world through positive, more appreciative eyes.  There were a few points towards the end where things got a little slow but that doesn't detract from what a delightful read this was.  I spotted a spin-off book in Waterstones today, featuring the important yet mysterious character of Queenie Hennessey and I can't wait to read it!
Rating: 4/5

The Outline of Love // Morgan McCarthy
This was a book I'd been drawn to many times in the library, and finally took it out.  It's strange.  Having been an 18 year old girl at uni, I was surprised by how unable I was to relate to the main character.  Her uni friends seemed more real to me, but then perhaps that was the point.  Without giving too much away, I struggled to believe that a male author could be a celebrity and figure of general lust, and I just didn't understand the friendships forged with the older characters.  I felt like it was a book that took itself too seriously but am aware that this could have been because it was written in the first person and this could have just been a reflection of the main character herself.  In summary, the book got exciting 30 pages from the end and this lasted for just two pages.  It's a shocking twist, but one that I predicted the instant it was introduced; incidentally on the first out of the two exciting pages.  This wasn't for me.
Rating: 3/5

Instructions for Living Somebody Else's Life // Mil Millington
I don't want you to think I'm a person who gives up on books willynilly.  I'm not.  But as I've been rediscovering to love reading more I've realised that there are so many books and so little time.  So why waste it on books that really aren't a pleasure to read?  I got half way through this book when it registered that I was all too aware of the page number I was on, and that I was counting down to the end.  Nu-uh.  Time to change books.
Anyway, this book looked to be a pertinent one for the way I'm feeling now.  The main character, Chris, goes to bed at 25 and wakes up in his mid-40s with no recollection of the past 18 or so years.  An interesting storyline with impressive reviews on the back cover.  It felt a little like 90s Brit-comedy though, and was written very much in a 'blokey' style.  That, coupled with how slow it was for any real action to kick in (by halfway I still felt nothing had happened) meant I really couldn't face continuing with this book.
Rating: 1/5

The Husband's Secret // Liane Moriarty
This is a story of intertwining lives which, at first, I found it quite hard to keep up with.  The characters, however, soon slot into place alongside one another and it's much easier to follow.  Cecilia Fitzpatrick discovers a letter written by her husband only to be opened in the event of his death.  He's very much alive though, and seeing how desperate he is for her not to read it only fuels her desire to discover his secret even more.  She opens the letter and life is never the same.  I won't give much more away, but I really enjoyed reading about the characters' parallel lives and the way that one act can impact upon so many.  It's a story of love, loss, family and rediscovery which I'd recommend to anyone looking for chick-lit with a bit more bite.
Rating: 4/5
I can't believe it's taken me so long to blog about these nail varnishes. Ever since picking up the ultimate in white chic, Winter Baby, last year, the Maybelline Color Show nail varnishes have shot to the top of my 'drugstore must-have' list.

At £2.99 they're an unrivalled guilt-free purchase.  They're a gel-based formula which are highly glossy and pigmented; two coats will give you a rich colour.  And speaking of colours, I think Maybelline have nailed it (pardon the pun) when it comes to producing some of the best shades of polish out there.  They've got some acidic brights and fashionable textures, but I think it's the classic tones where these really shine.

My picks?   My Favourite Sweater, the muted rose-toned nude on the bottom right, Cool Touch, a gorgeous cool-toned grey, Burgundy Kiss, a deep bordeaux that verges on black, and of course, the aforementioned Winter Baby.

So if you're looking to update your wardrobe for the changing seasons, maybe consider this range for the finishing touch.  Or even as a nod to the richer tones of autumn, acting as an accent to adapt your summer staples.  Either way, at £2.99 it'd be rude not to check them out, right?

The best budget nail varnishes?

7.11.14

I can't believe it's taken me so long to blog about these nail varnishes. Ever since picking up the ultimate in white chic, Winter Baby, last year, the Maybelline Color Show nail varnishes have shot to the top of my 'drugstore must-have' list.

At £2.99 they're an unrivalled guilt-free purchase.  They're a gel-based formula which are highly glossy and pigmented; two coats will give you a rich colour.  And speaking of colours, I think Maybelline have nailed it (pardon the pun) when it comes to producing some of the best shades of polish out there.  They've got some acidic brights and fashionable textures, but I think it's the classic tones where these really shine.

My picks?   My Favourite Sweater, the muted rose-toned nude on the bottom right, Cool Touch, a gorgeous cool-toned grey, Burgundy Kiss, a deep bordeaux that verges on black, and of course, the aforementioned Winter Baby.

So if you're looking to update your wardrobe for the changing seasons, maybe consider this range for the finishing touch.  Or even as a nod to the richer tones of autumn, acting as an accent to adapt your summer staples.  Either way, at £2.99 it'd be rude not to check them out, right?
This weekend I made my return to YouTube.  It's been a while, for the same various reasons that blogging has fallen by the wayside for me.  This video has reminded me how fun YouTube can be though, so fingers crossed it marks the return of regular videos again.

So click watch, or head here to find out the answers to 100 questions about me that you'd never think to ask.

My random question to you.......if you could have any superpower, which would it be?  Answers below!

Video: 100 Questions No-One Ever Asks

5.11.14

This weekend I made my return to YouTube.  It's been a while, for the same various reasons that blogging has fallen by the wayside for me.  This video has reminded me how fun YouTube can be though, so fingers crossed it marks the return of regular videos again.

So click watch, or head here to find out the answers to 100 questions about me that you'd never think to ask.

My random question to you.......if you could have any superpower, which would it be?  Answers below!
I've been on a bit of a journey recently to rein in my spendings; it's taken me a couple of months to get into a routine...but I think I've cracked it.  Here are the five main ways I've retrained myself to put a stop to my shopaholic tendancies:


1 // If an impulse purchase catches your eye, go away and consider whether you really need it.  Set yourself a time limit, and if you still really want it after waiting a couple of weeks then you're good to get spending.

2 // Consider shopping at lower end shops.  I used to be a food shopping snob....not because I had anything against Lidl or Aldi, but because I just didn't 'get' them.  You need to go in and have a good look around, what's on offer and where it's all situated, but once you get in the swing of things shopping on a budget can be quite fun.  I've managed to halve my weekly food bill, so it's definitely worth a try!

3 // If there's a 'bigger' purchase you've got your eye on (the type that would have made you think twice before you went and bought it anyway) consider whether you can hold out and ask for it as a Christmas/birthday/anniversary pressie.  I've been lusting after a jacket in Zara for months, but I know I'll appreciate it much more if I wait until Christmas.

4 // Take out a cash allowance for treats each month or set yourself a weekly budget.  I find the challenge can be fun, and any money left over can either roll on to the following week/month or go into a savings fund for a bigger treat.  If you've only got a £20 treat fund, it certainly makes you think twice about that cheeky Starbucks!

5 // Leanne came up with this next one.....instead of blowing your wages as soon as you get paid, wait until the end of the month so you can spend relatively guilt-free and not have to face weeks of trying to live on what little is left in your bank account.

Honestly, since taking stock rather than mindlessly spending I just don't get the urge to splurge anymore.  I'm not sure when the last time I bought new clothes was, and today I managed to put my basket down and walk out of Boots empty-handed.  And there's a 3 for 2 offer across all make up on!!

And here's one last thought to put things in perspective....life may be short, but a month with no money is long.  Don't buy the shoes!

Five ways: to stop overspending

3.11.14

I've been on a bit of a journey recently to rein in my spendings; it's taken me a couple of months to get into a routine...but I think I've cracked it.  Here are the five main ways I've retrained myself to put a stop to my shopaholic tendancies:


1 // If an impulse purchase catches your eye, go away and consider whether you really need it.  Set yourself a time limit, and if you still really want it after waiting a couple of weeks then you're good to get spending.

2 // Consider shopping at lower end shops.  I used to be a food shopping snob....not because I had anything against Lidl or Aldi, but because I just didn't 'get' them.  You need to go in and have a good look around, what's on offer and where it's all situated, but once you get in the swing of things shopping on a budget can be quite fun.  I've managed to halve my weekly food bill, so it's definitely worth a try!

3 // If there's a 'bigger' purchase you've got your eye on (the type that would have made you think twice before you went and bought it anyway) consider whether you can hold out and ask for it as a Christmas/birthday/anniversary pressie.  I've been lusting after a jacket in Zara for months, but I know I'll appreciate it much more if I wait until Christmas.

4 // Take out a cash allowance for treats each month or set yourself a weekly budget.  I find the challenge can be fun, and any money left over can either roll on to the following week/month or go into a savings fund for a bigger treat.  If you've only got a £20 treat fund, it certainly makes you think twice about that cheeky Starbucks!

5 // Leanne came up with this next one.....instead of blowing your wages as soon as you get paid, wait until the end of the month so you can spend relatively guilt-free and not have to face weeks of trying to live on what little is left in your bank account.

Honestly, since taking stock rather than mindlessly spending I just don't get the urge to splurge anymore.  I'm not sure when the last time I bought new clothes was, and today I managed to put my basket down and walk out of Boots empty-handed.  And there's a 3 for 2 offer across all make up on!!

And here's one last thought to put things in perspective....life may be short, but a month with no money is long.  Don't buy the shoes!

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