...AND WHAT TO BUY THERE

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how to get the most out of my money.  As you'll know I'm on a mission to rein in my spending habits, simplify my surroundings and generally just take a step away from that consumer-driven lifestyle.

But shopping is something I enjoy.  And to me it will always be a necessity because I hate the idea of wearing something until it's worn out and then being stuck without a replacement when the time comes to get rid.  For me, periodically injecting new pieces into my wardrobe is a far more viable option and hence presents the need to strike a balance and be smarter with my shopping.

And it's not just a case of buying things that are eye-wateringly expensive in a bid to get good quality.  Because we all know that this isn't almost the case.  I've got a Whistles t-shirt which is as bobbled as any and just doesn't hold up when compared to the quality, softness and lasting power of some of my cheaper alternatives.

I've given this list a lot of thought, so if you want to know where to go and what to look out for as a way of being wiser with your cash then this is the post for you.

H&M
best for: basic tees
Without a doubt I will always direct people I know to H&M to get their plain tees.  I'm not talking about the cheap cheap ones, but those around the £7.99 mark.  Never buy from offline because you just don't know which ones you're going to end up with; you need to go in store and feel for the best ones.  Literally.  Go to the t-shirt section and touch each one.  You're looking for the super soft and smooth, slightly shiny ones.  At the moment they're in a v-neck style but H&M tend to switch this up each season.  They won't shrink (unless you accidentally tumble dry it like I just have...sob!), don't bobble and are the best I've found on the high street.

ZARA
best for: jumpers, coats and handbags
Zara nails it when it comes to their fine knit jumpers and you'll never go wrong with one (or three!) of these in your wardrobe.  A fine knit is much more flattering on me than a bulky jumper so will always be my style of choice.  Zara brings out a range each year which costs around £12.99 and comes in a range of colours.  I've had a couple which I wear regularly for over a year now - they've washed really well and show no sign of wear and tear.

Similarly, Zara is always first on my list to check for coats.  They can run on the costly side (£100+) but they're always classic in styling and worth their money.  Blazers are another thing they do well and some of these can be as thick as a "proper" coat but with a substantially lower price tag.  I received this Balmain-inspired one (for under £50!) last Christmas and it's the perfect smart-casual piece.

Finally, mentioning Zara's range of handbags here was a no-brainer.  There's pretty much something to suit all budgets and options vary from trend-led to classics...in fact, all of my high street bags are from here!

MARKS & SPENCER
best for: workwear
I think M&S is so overlooked and when I moved into a more corporate, office-based working environment earlier in the year it was one of the first places I looked.  They run awesome sales intermittently throughout the year and you can get some really good quality pieces at a crazy low price.  And because it's somewhere your nan typically shops the quality is on point.  No shirts with embarrassing button-gapes here! My favourite one for when I'm running late for work (because it never needs ironing!) came from M&S and cost less than a tenner.  And the majority of their trousers come in different leg lengths which is great if you've got dumpy legs like me!  They do a really good trend-led range as well; I found some great, D-ring paperbag trousers in a gorgeous dusky pink there for only £15.  And their bras are worth looking out for in the sale, too!  For bras I'd say go in store, but anything else just look online for the sale.  The Marks and Spencers sale section is a headache waiting to happen!

NEXT
best for: shoes
I'm guilty of not really looking into Next until I started my new job, but I've found it to be one of the best shops for decent quality work shoes.  I featured a pair of designer-inspired loafers in this post which I went on to purchase and wore a lot throughout summer.  Again, classics is the key word here and while they can have some questionable pink glitzy sneakers, if you look out for simple shapes in neutral colours you can't really go wrong.

ASOS
best for: petite range
Too often I find that shops only offer a small selection of their trouser range in shorter leg lengths.  But not asos.  They have a huge variety available for the petite among us and a lot of the time they're in the outlet/sale section for a really decent price.  It's the same story for their jeans as well.  Too often I can waste an evening trawling the depths of asos only to return half of what I've ordered, but I've rarely been disappointed with the cut and fit of their petite jeans and trousers.

ACCESSORIZE
best for: sterling silver and gold plated jewellery
Accessorize do some great Monica Vinader-esque gemstone jewellery and like M&S they also run some great sales that often go up to about 70% off.  Their Z for Accessorize range is the one to look out for and I've also got a bumper pack of gold plated studs which I like to mix and match.  I also head to Accessorize for simple sterling silver pieces that won't break the bank and if you're looking to get jewellery as a gift for someone I'd recommend looking here.  Worth an honourable mention for sterling silver is also Essential....but I know it's not always the easiest shop to locate!

WHISTLES
best for: cashmere
I don't tend to shop in Whistles too often but I have it on good authority that if you're going to buy cashmere then you need to get it here.  I'm assured it doesn't shrink or stretch out of shape, stays soft and will last you across seasons.  Cashmere's something I'm yet to invest in, but when I do it'll definitely be a Whistles piece.

NEW LOOK
best for: trousers and 'out out' shoes
To finish on the opposite end of the price spectrum, we're rounding off this list with New Look.  My never-fail, never-iron work trousers are from here....for the bargain price of £12.99 and again, available in a range of leg lengths.  I'd never really considered New Look for trousers but I doubt I'll go anywhere else when they need replacing.  

And because sometimes situations dictate that you just need a new pair of 'out out' shoes (would finish off an outfit/blogger-enabled/fancy treating yourself....yadda yadda yadda, all predicaments that have happened to me), New Look is always the place I go.  They're cheap enough that you don't feel guilty purchasing and their heels tend to be surprisingly fashion-forward.  Ultimately this is a habit that harks back to my student days and doesn't really sit well with my new savy shopping ethos.  But then again I think that spending less on lower quality shoes that you're only going to get drinks spilled on, pick up God knows what off of sticky dance floors and potentially only wear once is being smart with your money.

Are there any shops you think I've missed?

Where To Shop

19.10.16

...AND WHAT TO BUY THERE

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how to get the most out of my money.  As you'll know I'm on a mission to rein in my spending habits, simplify my surroundings and generally just take a step away from that consumer-driven lifestyle.

But shopping is something I enjoy.  And to me it will always be a necessity because I hate the idea of wearing something until it's worn out and then being stuck without a replacement when the time comes to get rid.  For me, periodically injecting new pieces into my wardrobe is a far more viable option and hence presents the need to strike a balance and be smarter with my shopping.

And it's not just a case of buying things that are eye-wateringly expensive in a bid to get good quality.  Because we all know that this isn't almost the case.  I've got a Whistles t-shirt which is as bobbled as any and just doesn't hold up when compared to the quality, softness and lasting power of some of my cheaper alternatives.

I've given this list a lot of thought, so if you want to know where to go and what to look out for as a way of being wiser with your cash then this is the post for you.

H&M
best for: basic tees
Without a doubt I will always direct people I know to H&M to get their plain tees.  I'm not talking about the cheap cheap ones, but those around the £7.99 mark.  Never buy from offline because you just don't know which ones you're going to end up with; you need to go in store and feel for the best ones.  Literally.  Go to the t-shirt section and touch each one.  You're looking for the super soft and smooth, slightly shiny ones.  At the moment they're in a v-neck style but H&M tend to switch this up each season.  They won't shrink (unless you accidentally tumble dry it like I just have...sob!), don't bobble and are the best I've found on the high street.

ZARA
best for: jumpers, coats and handbags
Zara nails it when it comes to their fine knit jumpers and you'll never go wrong with one (or three!) of these in your wardrobe.  A fine knit is much more flattering on me than a bulky jumper so will always be my style of choice.  Zara brings out a range each year which costs around £12.99 and comes in a range of colours.  I've had a couple which I wear regularly for over a year now - they've washed really well and show no sign of wear and tear.

Similarly, Zara is always first on my list to check for coats.  They can run on the costly side (£100+) but they're always classic in styling and worth their money.  Blazers are another thing they do well and some of these can be as thick as a "proper" coat but with a substantially lower price tag.  I received this Balmain-inspired one (for under £50!) last Christmas and it's the perfect smart-casual piece.

Finally, mentioning Zara's range of handbags here was a no-brainer.  There's pretty much something to suit all budgets and options vary from trend-led to classics...in fact, all of my high street bags are from here!

MARKS & SPENCER
best for: workwear
I think M&S is so overlooked and when I moved into a more corporate, office-based working environment earlier in the year it was one of the first places I looked.  They run awesome sales intermittently throughout the year and you can get some really good quality pieces at a crazy low price.  And because it's somewhere your nan typically shops the quality is on point.  No shirts with embarrassing button-gapes here! My favourite one for when I'm running late for work (because it never needs ironing!) came from M&S and cost less than a tenner.  And the majority of their trousers come in different leg lengths which is great if you've got dumpy legs like me!  They do a really good trend-led range as well; I found some great, D-ring paperbag trousers in a gorgeous dusky pink there for only £15.  And their bras are worth looking out for in the sale, too!  For bras I'd say go in store, but anything else just look online for the sale.  The Marks and Spencers sale section is a headache waiting to happen!

NEXT
best for: shoes
I'm guilty of not really looking into Next until I started my new job, but I've found it to be one of the best shops for decent quality work shoes.  I featured a pair of designer-inspired loafers in this post which I went on to purchase and wore a lot throughout summer.  Again, classics is the key word here and while they can have some questionable pink glitzy sneakers, if you look out for simple shapes in neutral colours you can't really go wrong.

ASOS
best for: petite range
Too often I find that shops only offer a small selection of their trouser range in shorter leg lengths.  But not asos.  They have a huge variety available for the petite among us and a lot of the time they're in the outlet/sale section for a really decent price.  It's the same story for their jeans as well.  Too often I can waste an evening trawling the depths of asos only to return half of what I've ordered, but I've rarely been disappointed with the cut and fit of their petite jeans and trousers.

ACCESSORIZE
best for: sterling silver and gold plated jewellery
Accessorize do some great Monica Vinader-esque gemstone jewellery and like M&S they also run some great sales that often go up to about 70% off.  Their Z for Accessorize range is the one to look out for and I've also got a bumper pack of gold plated studs which I like to mix and match.  I also head to Accessorize for simple sterling silver pieces that won't break the bank and if you're looking to get jewellery as a gift for someone I'd recommend looking here.  Worth an honourable mention for sterling silver is also Essential....but I know it's not always the easiest shop to locate!

WHISTLES
best for: cashmere
I don't tend to shop in Whistles too often but I have it on good authority that if you're going to buy cashmere then you need to get it here.  I'm assured it doesn't shrink or stretch out of shape, stays soft and will last you across seasons.  Cashmere's something I'm yet to invest in, but when I do it'll definitely be a Whistles piece.

NEW LOOK
best for: trousers and 'out out' shoes
To finish on the opposite end of the price spectrum, we're rounding off this list with New Look.  My never-fail, never-iron work trousers are from here....for the bargain price of £12.99 and again, available in a range of leg lengths.  I'd never really considered New Look for trousers but I doubt I'll go anywhere else when they need replacing.  

And because sometimes situations dictate that you just need a new pair of 'out out' shoes (would finish off an outfit/blogger-enabled/fancy treating yourself....yadda yadda yadda, all predicaments that have happened to me), New Look is always the place I go.  They're cheap enough that you don't feel guilty purchasing and their heels tend to be surprisingly fashion-forward.  Ultimately this is a habit that harks back to my student days and doesn't really sit well with my new savy shopping ethos.  But then again I think that spending less on lower quality shoes that you're only going to get drinks spilled on, pick up God knows what off of sticky dance floors and potentially only wear once is being smart with your money.

Are there any shops you think I've missed?
Today's recipe is one that everybody needs in their ammo.  Nothing showstopping, but a fail-safe that'll hit the spot when you fancy a bit of Sunday afternoon baking.

Enter the Storecupboard Cookies.  So called because, with a bit of rummaging, you're bound to have the ingredients lurking in your baking supplies.  And boy, are these good.

So it's the weekend and you've got the last minute itch to do some baking? Good, then you're halfway there!  Now you want to head to the kitchen and, after whacking the oven on to 180°,  sift 190g PLAIN FLOUR into a bowl alongside 1/2 TSP OF SALT and 1 TSP BICARBONATE OF SODA.  Put that to one side and then in a larger bowl beat together 110g UNSALTED BUTTER (at room temperature) and 140g LIGHT BROWN SUGAR.  You may want to use an electric mixer for this as you need to keep going until it's smooth....I decided to do it the old fashioned way and it was exhausting!

Once that's done, you need to add in 1 LARGE EGG and 1 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT and mix some more.  Now add the flour mixture in in small quantities, mixing until it's just incorporated.

The last step is to add the star of the show...CHOCOLATE.  Ideally you'll have CHOCOLATE CHIPS around, but we didn't so I opted for chopping up a big (and I mean big) bar of MILKA and throwing that into the mix.  Which to be honest, I think is why these cookies are so good.  There's a creamy taste to them that I can only attribute to the type of chocolate used.

I've read that the key to good cookies is to use a chilled dough so I popped mine in the fridge for 20ish minutes while I tidied the kitchen.  Or if you prefer, skip this step and just grab handfuls of dough, shape them roughly and put them onto a baking tray.  You'll need to leave a bit of space between each one, but I didn't find that they expanded too much.  

The cooking time depends on the size of your cookies....between 10-15 minutes should do it; you want the edges to just be turning golden brown.  When they're cooked, remove for the oven and leave for 5 or so minutes to firm up before transferring to a cooling rack.

Et voila!  Enjoy with a cool glass of milk and marvel at how much of a domestic goddess you are rustling these up so easily!

Recipe: Storecupboard Cookies

13.10.16

Today's recipe is one that everybody needs in their ammo.  Nothing showstopping, but a fail-safe that'll hit the spot when you fancy a bit of Sunday afternoon baking.

Enter the Storecupboard Cookies.  So called because, with a bit of rummaging, you're bound to have the ingredients lurking in your baking supplies.  And boy, are these good.

So it's the weekend and you've got the last minute itch to do some baking? Good, then you're halfway there!  Now you want to head to the kitchen and, after whacking the oven on to 180°,  sift 190g PLAIN FLOUR into a bowl alongside 1/2 TSP OF SALT and 1 TSP BICARBONATE OF SODA.  Put that to one side and then in a larger bowl beat together 110g UNSALTED BUTTER (at room temperature) and 140g LIGHT BROWN SUGAR.  You may want to use an electric mixer for this as you need to keep going until it's smooth....I decided to do it the old fashioned way and it was exhausting!

Once that's done, you need to add in 1 LARGE EGG and 1 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT and mix some more.  Now add the flour mixture in in small quantities, mixing until it's just incorporated.

The last step is to add the star of the show...CHOCOLATE.  Ideally you'll have CHOCOLATE CHIPS around, but we didn't so I opted for chopping up a big (and I mean big) bar of MILKA and throwing that into the mix.  Which to be honest, I think is why these cookies are so good.  There's a creamy taste to them that I can only attribute to the type of chocolate used.

I've read that the key to good cookies is to use a chilled dough so I popped mine in the fridge for 20ish minutes while I tidied the kitchen.  Or if you prefer, skip this step and just grab handfuls of dough, shape them roughly and put them onto a baking tray.  You'll need to leave a bit of space between each one, but I didn't find that they expanded too much.  

The cooking time depends on the size of your cookies....between 10-15 minutes should do it; you want the edges to just be turning golden brown.  When they're cooked, remove for the oven and leave for 5 or so minutes to firm up before transferring to a cooling rack.

Et voila!  Enjoy with a cool glass of milk and marvel at how much of a domestic goddess you are rustling these up so easily!

#42 - THE GIRLS // Emma Cline
I mentioned this book as one I wanted to read this summer so I'm glad I ticked it off my list.  Heavily inspired by the Manson murders, it's split between our present day narrator and looking back at the heady summer of 1969 when she got swept up in a cult who went on to kill.  It was a really interesting look at how someone with relatively low self-esteem can easily be influenced through their drive to 'belong' and I found the relationships between characters intriguing.  Emma Cline does a great job of setting the scene and I could really sense the stuffy atmosphere of that summer and the grimey conditions they were in.  It was a compelling read but it just didn't captivate me quite enough.
Rating: 3/5

#43 - THE TINDERBOX // Hans Christian Andersen
I've had this little black classic sat on my shelf for over a year now so felt it was time I finally read it.  I love fairy tales and this collection was just perfect.  I loved revisiting childhood favourites and seeing how gruesome they truly are, but also really enjoyed the wit and darkness of some that I wasn't so familiar with. Took me about half an hour to get through, which was another bonus!
Rating: 4/5

#44 - HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD PARTS ONE AND TWO // J.K Rowling
I feel I should start by saying that I've never read any of the Harry Potter books and haven't actively watched a single film either....so I was going in blind here.  You may be wondering why I bothered; the answer is that it was part of my book club and I was assured I didn't need to know much about the characters as it's set so far in the future.  Which is true to a degree.  Obviously I know who a lot of the main characters are, so I could pretty much pick up the gist of everything as I went along.  However I did find that haven't limited background knowledge of past events hindered my enjoyment as I didn't have any perspective or understanding of the way these events affected the lives of the characters.  I read the second half sat next to my HP-buff friend and found it to be much more engaging.  It was incredibly fast-paced (almost too much so at points) and I wonder if maybe that's the effect of reading a play script rather than a novel.  But my overall thoughts as someone who doesn't particularly like Harry Potter?  Not bad!
Rating: 3/5

#45 - MODERN ROMANCE // Aziz Ansari
This was a non-fiction book looking at the dynamics of relationships in the modern era.   Written by comedian Aziz Ansari and exploring topics such as sexting, internet dating, cheating, it was a fascinating book with the benefit of being easily to digest.  You probably know I'm already happily in a relationship, but that didn't decrease my enjoyment of this at all.  I've recommended it to so many of my friends and think everyone should read it!
Rating: 4/5

#46 - THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS // M.L Stedman
I downloaded this one on a whim....something I'm so glad I did as it sits up there as on of my top books of the year.  Tom is a lighthouse keeper living on a remote island with his wife, Isabel, when a boat gets washed ashore.  Inside is a dead body and a living baby who they decide to raise as their own.  Stedman writes beautifully about the lives of the characters and the moral dilemmas raised by their actions through Tom's perspective which worked really well and was an interesting feature in a book looking so heavily at maternal instinct.
Rating: 4/5

#47 - THE NEXT TOGETHER // Lauren James
This is a YA contemporary which, if I'm honest, I only picked up to fulfill the 'romance set in the future' task of my 2016 reading challenge.  The main characters, Katherine and Matthew, are born again throughout time and always end up falling in love but losing each other.  Sounds good, right?  I found this too superficial and I wasn't invested enough in any of the characters to believe in them.  None of their stories in any of the time periods was explored with any real depth and I found the dialogue stilted and unrealistic.  Which was a shame, because I think the concept is great!
Rating: 1/5

#48 - RUBY // Cynthia Bond
Ruby is a difficult one to describe.  One of our main characters, Ephram Jennings, is in love with Ruby Bell who he met as a boy.  After leaving town for the glamour of New York, Ruby's now back and a broken woman.  I don't want to give too much away, but the ordeals Ruby's faced are horrific and the life she now lives is equally as bad.  There's almost a touch of magical realism or fantasy laced in here, with spirits and ghosts playing a big part.  I didn't anticipate enjoying this book as much as I did and I don't think any of the reviews I've seen online prepared me for how gripping it would be.  Another top read of the year!
Rating: 4/5

Read in 2016: September

11.10.16


#42 - THE GIRLS // Emma Cline
I mentioned this book as one I wanted to read this summer so I'm glad I ticked it off my list.  Heavily inspired by the Manson murders, it's split between our present day narrator and looking back at the heady summer of 1969 when she got swept up in a cult who went on to kill.  It was a really interesting look at how someone with relatively low self-esteem can easily be influenced through their drive to 'belong' and I found the relationships between characters intriguing.  Emma Cline does a great job of setting the scene and I could really sense the stuffy atmosphere of that summer and the grimey conditions they were in.  It was a compelling read but it just didn't captivate me quite enough.
Rating: 3/5

#43 - THE TINDERBOX // Hans Christian Andersen
I've had this little black classic sat on my shelf for over a year now so felt it was time I finally read it.  I love fairy tales and this collection was just perfect.  I loved revisiting childhood favourites and seeing how gruesome they truly are, but also really enjoyed the wit and darkness of some that I wasn't so familiar with. Took me about half an hour to get through, which was another bonus!
Rating: 4/5

#44 - HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD PARTS ONE AND TWO // J.K Rowling
I feel I should start by saying that I've never read any of the Harry Potter books and haven't actively watched a single film either....so I was going in blind here.  You may be wondering why I bothered; the answer is that it was part of my book club and I was assured I didn't need to know much about the characters as it's set so far in the future.  Which is true to a degree.  Obviously I know who a lot of the main characters are, so I could pretty much pick up the gist of everything as I went along.  However I did find that haven't limited background knowledge of past events hindered my enjoyment as I didn't have any perspective or understanding of the way these events affected the lives of the characters.  I read the second half sat next to my HP-buff friend and found it to be much more engaging.  It was incredibly fast-paced (almost too much so at points) and I wonder if maybe that's the effect of reading a play script rather than a novel.  But my overall thoughts as someone who doesn't particularly like Harry Potter?  Not bad!
Rating: 3/5

#45 - MODERN ROMANCE // Aziz Ansari
This was a non-fiction book looking at the dynamics of relationships in the modern era.   Written by comedian Aziz Ansari and exploring topics such as sexting, internet dating, cheating, it was a fascinating book with the benefit of being easily to digest.  You probably know I'm already happily in a relationship, but that didn't decrease my enjoyment of this at all.  I've recommended it to so many of my friends and think everyone should read it!
Rating: 4/5

#46 - THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS // M.L Stedman
I downloaded this one on a whim....something I'm so glad I did as it sits up there as on of my top books of the year.  Tom is a lighthouse keeper living on a remote island with his wife, Isabel, when a boat gets washed ashore.  Inside is a dead body and a living baby who they decide to raise as their own.  Stedman writes beautifully about the lives of the characters and the moral dilemmas raised by their actions through Tom's perspective which worked really well and was an interesting feature in a book looking so heavily at maternal instinct.
Rating: 4/5

#47 - THE NEXT TOGETHER // Lauren James
This is a YA contemporary which, if I'm honest, I only picked up to fulfill the 'romance set in the future' task of my 2016 reading challenge.  The main characters, Katherine and Matthew, are born again throughout time and always end up falling in love but losing each other.  Sounds good, right?  I found this too superficial and I wasn't invested enough in any of the characters to believe in them.  None of their stories in any of the time periods was explored with any real depth and I found the dialogue stilted and unrealistic.  Which was a shame, because I think the concept is great!
Rating: 1/5

#48 - RUBY // Cynthia Bond
Ruby is a difficult one to describe.  One of our main characters, Ephram Jennings, is in love with Ruby Bell who he met as a boy.  After leaving town for the glamour of New York, Ruby's now back and a broken woman.  I don't want to give too much away, but the ordeals Ruby's faced are horrific and the life she now lives is equally as bad.  There's almost a touch of magical realism or fantasy laced in here, with spirits and ghosts playing a big part.  I didn't anticipate enjoying this book as much as I did and I don't think any of the reviews I've seen online prepared me for how gripping it would be.  Another top read of the year!
Rating: 4/5
MAC MINERALIZE SKINFINISH IN 'SOFT & GENTLE'
Soft & Gentle seems to be a blogger staple, and any beauty guru worth their salt has it in their collection.  Which is why I'll never be called a guru (of any variety!), as I've only just got my mitts on it.  In all honesty, on the aforementioned shopping trip I skipped from the Laura Mercier counter to MAC and then couldn't trace which of the two powders had made my skin look so good....which meant I had no choice but to buy both!  I can now see exactly why it's so many people's favourite and only wish I'd bought it sooner.


ANASTASIA BEVERLY HILLS MODERN RENAISSANCE PALETTE
I kinda thought palettes were out of my system.  I've slowly built up my MAC palette and besides that, my 'off the shelf' offerings (Naked, Naked II etc) largely sit unloved in my collection.  So I took a bit of a gamble in buying the ABH Modern Renaissance, but I can happily say it payed off!  This palette is every bit as beautiful as they say and absolutely worth the hype.  Full of warm tones - rich reds, burnt oranges and sepia browns - the majority of which are matte in texture.  I've found my perfect everyday shade in here and there hasn't been many days that I've not reached for this palette.  My only gripe?  The shadows are *so* buttery soft that I've already hit pan on one....and it's my favourite!

LAURA MERCIER MINERAL ILLUMINATING POWDER IN 'CANDLELIGHT'
I'm a newbie when it comes to Laura Mercier but only ever tend to hear good things about the brand, particularly their powder products.  So whilst on this shopping trip with my bestie we both decided to test out their illuminating powders.  The warm glowing haze on our skin was enough to make us both purchase instantly.  A pot of this sets you back £26, which I didn't think was *too* eyewatering compared to other highlighters on the market.  Don't get this if you're looking for oil control, but if you're after the perfect finisher for a glam night then this is a must.

MAC FACE AND BODY FOUNDATION
It's taken me a long time to get into this one.  In fact, I've owned it for months and really disliked it at first.  Until I saw a tutorial of it being blended with fingers rather than a brush and decided to give it a go.  Revolutionary.  It blends seamlessly with my skin, giving a beautifully natural finish.  Not too heavy and wonderfully dewy.  I'm on my second bottle!
NYX LIQUID SUEDE CREAM LIPSTICK
On to something much more budget friendly.  If you can elbow your way past the school kids to get to your nearest NYX counter then the Liquid Suedes are definitely worth a look.  The colour range is great, consistency is smooth (without feeling heavy or drying) and they're long lasting but wear really well.  And at only £6.50 you can't feel guilty collecting them all! The colours above are, bottom to top, Vintage, Cherry Skies, Kitten Heels and Sandstorm.

Currently Loving: Make Up

6.10.16

MAC MINERALIZE SKINFINISH IN 'SOFT & GENTLE'
Soft & Gentle seems to be a blogger staple, and any beauty guru worth their salt has it in their collection.  Which is why I'll never be called a guru (of any variety!), as I've only just got my mitts on it.  In all honesty, on the aforementioned shopping trip I skipped from the Laura Mercier counter to MAC and then couldn't trace which of the two powders had made my skin look so good....which meant I had no choice but to buy both!  I can now see exactly why it's so many people's favourite and only wish I'd bought it sooner.


ANASTASIA BEVERLY HILLS MODERN RENAISSANCE PALETTE
I kinda thought palettes were out of my system.  I've slowly built up my MAC palette and besides that, my 'off the shelf' offerings (Naked, Naked II etc) largely sit unloved in my collection.  So I took a bit of a gamble in buying the ABH Modern Renaissance, but I can happily say it payed off!  This palette is every bit as beautiful as they say and absolutely worth the hype.  Full of warm tones - rich reds, burnt oranges and sepia browns - the majority of which are matte in texture.  I've found my perfect everyday shade in here and there hasn't been many days that I've not reached for this palette.  My only gripe?  The shadows are *so* buttery soft that I've already hit pan on one....and it's my favourite!

LAURA MERCIER MINERAL ILLUMINATING POWDER IN 'CANDLELIGHT'
I'm a newbie when it comes to Laura Mercier but only ever tend to hear good things about the brand, particularly their powder products.  So whilst on this shopping trip with my bestie we both decided to test out their illuminating powders.  The warm glowing haze on our skin was enough to make us both purchase instantly.  A pot of this sets you back £26, which I didn't think was *too* eyewatering compared to other highlighters on the market.  Don't get this if you're looking for oil control, but if you're after the perfect finisher for a glam night then this is a must.

MAC FACE AND BODY FOUNDATION
It's taken me a long time to get into this one.  In fact, I've owned it for months and really disliked it at first.  Until I saw a tutorial of it being blended with fingers rather than a brush and decided to give it a go.  Revolutionary.  It blends seamlessly with my skin, giving a beautifully natural finish.  Not too heavy and wonderfully dewy.  I'm on my second bottle!
NYX LIQUID SUEDE CREAM LIPSTICK
On to something much more budget friendly.  If you can elbow your way past the school kids to get to your nearest NYX counter then the Liquid Suedes are definitely worth a look.  The colour range is great, consistency is smooth (without feeling heavy or drying) and they're long lasting but wear really well.  And at only £6.50 you can't feel guilty collecting them all! The colours above are, bottom to top, Vintage, Cherry Skies, Kitten Heels and Sandstorm.

I feel like I've blinked and missed September.  The start of the month was the countdown to going on holiday, and the end of the month.....well, where did that go?!

September was the month I got underway with my capsule wardrobe experiment, which kicked off a quest to get things calm and clear at home.  I took on the declutter challenge, throwing away as many items of clutter as the date, and succeeded!  I think that gives an insight into just how much junk we had lying around, and while I'm not quite ready to Marie Kondo our home just yet I've definitely been rethinking my approach to homewares.  One thing I kept in mind throughout the decluttering process, and something I'll consider moving forward, is that I only want things in my home that I love or that are functional and serve a purpose.  And if they tick both boxes, hurrah!  It's baby steps towards minimalism; a way of living I'm not sure I'll ever achieve, but I've realise that my home environment really does have an impact on my mindset and functionality.

The big event in September was heading off to Menorca to celebrate my bestie's birthday.  We saw in the start of her 30s with a night out in the caves - there are no words to convey just how stunning it was.  Like, breathtaking.  Even better that we went back the next night for the sunset party and got to see it all again in the fading daylight.  The weather was perfect, the atmosphere amazing and watching the sun set on the horizon was just awe-inspiring.  I feel a bit gushy writing this, but it was an experience I'll never forget!  Definitely something to add to your bucket list.

So with more cohesive surroundings at home and the benefit of a few days relaxing in the sun, I've been feeling quite rejuvenated in September.  I've kick started my bullet journal again and have been enjoying relaxing in the evenings filling it in.  It's nice to spend time doing something creative without the distraction of my phone and the internet and has become a nice addition to my winding down evening routine.

It's also meant I've had some focused planning sessions for content on here.  I had a weekend off from my normal schedule of helping Mum with the kids and it gave me the opportunity to experiment with my camera and rediscover my love for it.  I've used my bullet journal to set myself some goals and schedule the next few months which I'm hoping will lead to more engagement with the community, and less of the feeling that I'm scrabbling around at the end of the week for ideas to write about.  Hand in hand with my bullet journal is the notebook I've taken to carrying around with me to jot down ideas as soon as they enter my head - I lose so many through just forgetting!  It's already paying off; my Autumn Shake Up was something I noted down as and when I had a brainwave and already people (myself included!) seem to be enjoying the daily challenges.  If you'd like to join in you can check out the blog post here, and don't forget to use the hashtag #autumnshakeup if you'd like to document your progress on twitter.

Another thing I'd perhaps like to restart is my YouTube channel.  It's been months since I've filmed anything; I've been noting down ideas for videos as and when they come to me and am considering giving it another go.  There was no real reason why I stopped, other than time constraints, and I think I'd like to give it a primarily bookish focus.  I've realised that I find discussing books through blog posts quite hard and much prefer having YouTube as an outlet to let the words flow naturally.  Reading is something I've become really passionate about over this year and think that comes across better through videos.  I know it's not everyone's cup of tea though, and am in two minds about having such a clear divide between content across the differing platforms.  My monthly round up of books would still exist on here, but I think I'd feature less tags and other videos on my channel and talk more books.  I like the idea of harmony across social media, but I also like that you could pick and choose between what it is you visit my online spaces for and that there'd be something different available on each.  It's all very much up in the air at the moment, so I'd welcome your thoughts and feedback!

I've also been thinking that I'd like to set myself a few tangible goals each month.  Not airy fairy ones that I forget about and don't push to actually achieve but attainable, measurable objectives that will keep me moving forward.  I'm a person who can quite comfortably stay plodding along, so whilst I'm feeling all fired up for change I'm hoping to capitalise on that and keep progressing.

So what are my goals for October?  I'd like to continue reading more widely and regularly.  I want to carve out some time each weekend to sit and blog, and I aim to have content prepared a few weeks in advance so that it stays a manageable schedule.  I'd like to use my instagram (@lornaliterally....it's private but drop me a follow request!) more and update it at least twice a week.  And I'd like to complete the Autumn Shake Up challenge and keep moving on my journey to a more minimalist environment.

So not much to do then!

The Month: September

4.10.16


I feel like I've blinked and missed September.  The start of the month was the countdown to going on holiday, and the end of the month.....well, where did that go?!

September was the month I got underway with my capsule wardrobe experiment, which kicked off a quest to get things calm and clear at home.  I took on the declutter challenge, throwing away as many items of clutter as the date, and succeeded!  I think that gives an insight into just how much junk we had lying around, and while I'm not quite ready to Marie Kondo our home just yet I've definitely been rethinking my approach to homewares.  One thing I kept in mind throughout the decluttering process, and something I'll consider moving forward, is that I only want things in my home that I love or that are functional and serve a purpose.  And if they tick both boxes, hurrah!  It's baby steps towards minimalism; a way of living I'm not sure I'll ever achieve, but I've realise that my home environment really does have an impact on my mindset and functionality.

The big event in September was heading off to Menorca to celebrate my bestie's birthday.  We saw in the start of her 30s with a night out in the caves - there are no words to convey just how stunning it was.  Like, breathtaking.  Even better that we went back the next night for the sunset party and got to see it all again in the fading daylight.  The weather was perfect, the atmosphere amazing and watching the sun set on the horizon was just awe-inspiring.  I feel a bit gushy writing this, but it was an experience I'll never forget!  Definitely something to add to your bucket list.

So with more cohesive surroundings at home and the benefit of a few days relaxing in the sun, I've been feeling quite rejuvenated in September.  I've kick started my bullet journal again and have been enjoying relaxing in the evenings filling it in.  It's nice to spend time doing something creative without the distraction of my phone and the internet and has become a nice addition to my winding down evening routine.

It's also meant I've had some focused planning sessions for content on here.  I had a weekend off from my normal schedule of helping Mum with the kids and it gave me the opportunity to experiment with my camera and rediscover my love for it.  I've used my bullet journal to set myself some goals and schedule the next few months which I'm hoping will lead to more engagement with the community, and less of the feeling that I'm scrabbling around at the end of the week for ideas to write about.  Hand in hand with my bullet journal is the notebook I've taken to carrying around with me to jot down ideas as soon as they enter my head - I lose so many through just forgetting!  It's already paying off; my Autumn Shake Up was something I noted down as and when I had a brainwave and already people (myself included!) seem to be enjoying the daily challenges.  If you'd like to join in you can check out the blog post here, and don't forget to use the hashtag #autumnshakeup if you'd like to document your progress on twitter.

Another thing I'd perhaps like to restart is my YouTube channel.  It's been months since I've filmed anything; I've been noting down ideas for videos as and when they come to me and am considering giving it another go.  There was no real reason why I stopped, other than time constraints, and I think I'd like to give it a primarily bookish focus.  I've realised that I find discussing books through blog posts quite hard and much prefer having YouTube as an outlet to let the words flow naturally.  Reading is something I've become really passionate about over this year and think that comes across better through videos.  I know it's not everyone's cup of tea though, and am in two minds about having such a clear divide between content across the differing platforms.  My monthly round up of books would still exist on here, but I think I'd feature less tags and other videos on my channel and talk more books.  I like the idea of harmony across social media, but I also like that you could pick and choose between what it is you visit my online spaces for and that there'd be something different available on each.  It's all very much up in the air at the moment, so I'd welcome your thoughts and feedback!

I've also been thinking that I'd like to set myself a few tangible goals each month.  Not airy fairy ones that I forget about and don't push to actually achieve but attainable, measurable objectives that will keep me moving forward.  I'm a person who can quite comfortably stay plodding along, so whilst I'm feeling all fired up for change I'm hoping to capitalise on that and keep progressing.

So what are my goals for October?  I'd like to continue reading more widely and regularly.  I want to carve out some time each weekend to sit and blog, and I aim to have content prepared a few weeks in advance so that it stays a manageable schedule.  I'd like to use my instagram (@lornaliterally....it's private but drop me a follow request!) more and update it at least twice a week.  And I'd like to complete the Autumn Shake Up challenge and keep moving on my journey to a more minimalist environment.

So not much to do then!

Instagram Feed

© LORNA, LITERALLY.. Design by Fearne.