Wednesday, 18 December 2013

'Twas The Night Before Christmas...

I know it's not the Christmas Eve, but it's our Christmas Eve. Although we will be spending actual, real Christmas together (in London), we decided to swap stockings (and maybe a present or two) beforehand and have our own mini Christmas in our own home. It being the first holiday season we'll have spent here.

Wrapping Mr. G's stocking presents definitely helped me find my (previously absent) Christmas spirit. I'm not normally a big fan of wrapping, in fact I usually find it a bit of a chore, but because I just had a few things to wrap it wasn't so bad, plus there's something incredibly novel about filling (what's essentially) an over-sized sock with the fruits of your labour.

The stockings themselves were total bargains, £1 each from Wilkinson. They're not very large, about 60cm, but they do the job, and the super-cute Nordic print was hard to resist.

I love seeing them resting against our fireplace, it makes me feel like a little girl all over again, waiting for Father Christmas to make an appearance.

They've also finished off our festive décor perfectly, and for the fraction of the price of anything else I've seen on the high street.

I can't wait to delve into them tomorrow morning...

Merry (almost) Christmas!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

O, Christmas Tree...

I'm a little late with this post, having actually put our tree up last weekend, but, still, better late than never, right?

We've stuck with our red and gold "theme" this year. Well, I say theme, it's not at all really, it's just those happen to be the colour decorations we have.

There's some very pretty additions this year (erm, if I do say so myself): the laser cut wooden stars that I bought at one of the Christmas Market stalls in Bruges, and some hulking great shiny baubles from John Lewis. Seriously they're mahoosive. And  ridiculously heavy. Cue lots of strategic placing on branches that were sturdy enough to support them. Aside ginormous shiny balls (ooh-err missus), I also snuck on some rustic looking fabric hearts (also from John Lewis. And no, this isn't a sponsored post. Sadly) that I couldn't say no to.

The usual suspects make their annual return too: namely the little red drum that I purloined from Mum's collection of decorations. It evokes memories of Christmas trees past, and I get the most pleasure, out of all of them, from hanging it up. Our Macy's' decorations and a little knitted gingerbread that I bought years ago have also been duly hung up. And Rodney has taken up residence on the top of our television this year.

As much as I love our tree, I am quite tempted to mix it up a bit next year; throw in some white and cream, go with a bit more of a Scandinavian feel (which I love). I'd also like to get a bit crafty and make some decorations of my own. Although I'm not really known for my hand-eye-coordination. Or patience. So yes, maybe not the brightest idea?

The tree itself was purchased from a local Primary School, so we did our bit by buying local and supporting the community. At a little under 6"0, and with a price tag of £32.50 it's probably the most value for money tree we've had. Although it's not as dense as I'd have liked, but you can't have everything.

Anyhoo, Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, our tree:

Unfortunately the lights don't really come across all that well in the pictures (oh, Cannon EOS 600D, wherefore art thou?), but they're very twinkly and festive in real life, and I love the way they illuminate the glittery baubles that are hidden further inside the branches.

Speaking of festive, it's taken a while for me to get into the swing of things this year. I've been pretty lethargic, and mentally exhausted the past couple of weeks (hence the lack of posts.), and have generally not been imbued with much Christmas spirit.

This in spite of the annual Muppets' Christmas Carol viewing and obligatory Quality Street purchasing (two tubs and counting. Ahem.).

Still, there's ten days (really, only ten?!) to go, so I've got time to get my Christmas on. Just.

Another load of Strawberry Creams is obviously in order....

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Naked (3) Ambition...

It would appear Christmas is coming early this year for us beauty obsessives lovers: yes, the good folk at Urban Decay are launching their shiny new Naked 3 palette on the 16th of December*.

Humongous thanks to Lily over at (the always wonderful) ETC LLYMLRS for the heads up. 
Apparently rumours of its impending arrival had been doing the rounds on the blogging circuit for a while now, but Lily's post yesterday was the first I'd heard of it. So. Out. Of. The. Loop.

Anyway: the Palette. As with the previous two Naked Palettes, Naked 3 houses a dozen beautiful neutral shades in a variety of matte and shimmer finishes.

Whereas the original Naked palette showcased warm toned neutrals and Naked 2 served up a cornucopia of cool shades, Naked 3 is all about the rosy glow, featuring twelve pink hued neutrals.

Now, usually, the words pink and eye shadow in the same sentence would conjure up a youthful misadventure experimenting with Rimmel's hot pink eye shadow (shudder). It was 1997. I was fourteen. Enough said. 

Happily, however, this latest offering from Urban Decay seems to have put a whole new sophisticated spin on the pink lid. Goodbye garish, hello glamour!

Despite not actually having Naked or Naked 2 in my collection (I'm working on that...) I am very excited about this newest release, as I think the rosy shades on offer will suit my complexion (which has a strange Celt versus Saxon versus English Rose mash up thing going on) down to the ground.

Speaking of which, if you're looking for a comprehensive shade breakdown check out the fabulous Vivianna Does Makeup; for swatches galore head on over, as always, to Temptalia.

Something tells me there's going to be a last minute amendment to my Christmas list...

* Available from House of Fraser, Debenhams and Urban Decay stockists.

Edit: ETC LLYMLRS now has a review and swatches up too, so be sure to check it out!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Review: Lush Bubblegum Lip Scrub...

I actually bought this lip scrub at the same time as the Rose Jam shower gel but, unlike the shower gel, I just can't get on with this scrub at all.

Having read numerous positive reviews about Lush's lip scrubs, and the Bubblegum one in particular, I had high hopes.

Which, I'm afraid to report, were swiftly dashed.

Obviously, as it's a scrub, it's gritty in texture, but it's a very 'loose' scrub, so a lot of product comes away as soon as you apply it to the lips. This makes trying to actually massage it in a bit tricky.

Which isn't a very good start, let's face it...

Having managed to retain some product I duly scrubbed away, but, rather than some impressive de-flaking action going on, I just ended up with a gritty flaky mess on my lips.

They didn't look like they'd been scrubbed so much as attacked with a blunt sheet of sandpaper coated in granulated sugar. Not really the look I was going for, funnily enough.

To remedy the mess I ended up going back to basics and using a dry toothbrush on them. I only wish I'd done this in the first place and saved myself £5.50.

The smell was also rather off putting I thought. It was quite a synthetic Bubblegum scent which, to my nose at least, smelt more like Parma Violets than any Bubblegum I've ever had. If you're a fan of Parma Violets then this is all well and good, if, however, you believe they're the work of the devil himself, then this is definitely not so pleasing.

I am of the latter school of thought ( I mean, come on, they're vile. Who wants to eat sweeties that smell - and taste- like an old lady's perfume?), so slathering on this scrub (what little actually stuck to my lips) was not the most pleasant of olfactory experiences.

I really did want to love this; a cute little pot, a pleasing pop of bright pink, the promise of beautifully soft and supple lips, what's not to love?

A lot, as it turns out.

Maybe I just got landed with a dud, or I'm just being picky, but this definitely won't be going on my re-purchase list.

Back to the toothbrush it is then...

Monday, 25 November 2013

Le Weekend...

This weekend (OK I know it's Monday, and I'm late with this, but work with me) I have mostly been:

  • Travelling back home. It was a train journey that seemed to take forever.

  • Trying out my favourite new lipgloss: Benefit's Coralista, a freebie with this month's Elle magazine.

  • Meeting my Brother and his Girlfriend's newest addition to their household: Mr. Jangles. Except it's a girl, apparently. Poor confused little Hamster.

  • Photographing bits and pieces that caught my eye in Falmouth, my home-town.

  • Trying to resist eating some very cute looking lollipops.

  • Having a ball at my Mum's 60th birthday party. She didn't know we'd be there, I'd told her I couldn't make it due to lack of funds/lack of energy. She screamed when she saw us: mission accomplished.

  • Reconnecting with numerous wonderful people, some I hadn't seen in a decade or more.

  • Enjoying the (surreal) sight of my Mum, Mr. G, my Brother, his Girlfriend, and his best friend all crammed into a hot-tub together in the freezing cold early hours of Sunday morning. 
  • Eating the most delicious roast dinner. Made by my Mum, of course. Because mum-made Roasts are always the best. Fact.

  • Catching up on - and Fangirling over- The Day of the Doctor. David Tennant; Rose Tyler; a glimpse of Christopher Ecclestone; and an even smaller glimpse of Peter Capaldi? Absolute Doctor Who heaven.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Happy Birthday...

Today marks a whole year of It's Not All Me, Me, Me...


I can't quite believe a year has flown by that quickly. I must be getting old: time just seems to disappear in the blink of an eye.

Thank you to all those who've read, followed and commented, it really means a lot.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much I enjoy writing it. I've grown very attached to my little corner of the Blogosphere and look forward to seeing where the next twelve months takes me...

I'll Bring You Flowers...

It's not every morning that I'm woken up by an Interflora delivery (a girl can dream...), but today I was.

How beautiful is this bouquet? The coral coloured Roses are stunning!

In case you're wondering, no I haven't acquired a secret admirer (well, not to my knowledge), they're from the lovely people at Bio Oil, who included a bottle with the flowers. Which is handy as my current bottle is on its last legs- and we all know how much I rave about the stuff so it couldn't have come at a better time.

It's such a thoughtful gesture, I'm really touched...

They've brightened up what's been an otherwise grey and dreary day no end.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Show Your Lungs Some Love...

It's that time of year again folks, when I get to post a now obligatory (and traditionally hideous) picture of me wearing the old nasal cannulae.

See? Told you. Hideous. Unfortunately poor lighting and an iPhone 5 camera do not a Rankin maketh.

On a positive note: look how long my hair is! OK, so it's a bit on the wild side, and, er, a bit on the unwashed side, but it's long(er).


Yes people,  it's World COPD Day

A day that raises awareness of and support for COPD sufferers all over the world.

According to The British Lung Foundation, there's three million of us in England alone. England. That's not even the whole United Kingdom. Frightening!

And that's why this year's theme, 'It's Not Too Late', is vitally important. It promotes the belief that you can take charge of your respiratory health. Whether you have COPD diagnosis or not - you can all show your lungs some love and avoid becoming another statistic. As one of those three million, take it from me, it's a debilitating, life limiting, and merciless disease.

Put down that cigarette, get your running shoes on, just do what you can to avoid joining our ranks. 

For COPD patients the 'It's Not Too Late' message is even more critical; cutting down or quitting smoking; getting regular exercise; keeping warm in the winter months; getting your annual flu jab, there's always something we can do - no matter how small- to give our lung health a bit of a boost.

Want to find out more about World COPD Day and COPD? Head on over to The British Lung Foundation's website which has a wealth of information on all things respiratory.

Until next year....

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Illustrated (Snow) People...

Now, I don't like to say anything, but there's only five - yes, five - weeks to go until The Big Day. 

Cue mass panic all 'round.

If you're feeling a little under-prepared on the festive front and have yet to buy your Christmas cards, and have zero inspiration, then allow me to recommend DanBenMatt Cards.

Shameless plug alert!

Dan is a very dear friend of mine, and an enormously talented illustrator to boot. If you're after unique, hand drawn cards to send to your loved ones this year, then take a peak at his Etsy shop.

Here's a taster of what you'll find...

Danicing Snowman © DanBenMatt illustration.

Russian Snow Dolls © DanBenMatt illustration.

Robin Perched © DanBenMatt illustration.

Snowman and Robbin © DanBenMatt illustration.

Single cards are £1.80 or you can get 3 for £5. I've gone for the £5 deal, although I admittedly had trouble narrowing it down to just three. In the end, I plumped for Dancing Snowman and Snowman and Robin. I can't wait to write and send these off. They're beautiful and so full of character (and before you ask, nope, he hasn't paid me to say that, it's my bona fide, the-whole-truth-and-nothing-but-the-truth opinion...).

I reckon they're going to brighten up the recipients' mantelpieces no end with their colour and cheer. One thing's for sure they'll definitely stand out from the usual suspects of Hallmark et al.

Oh, if you do stop by? Tell him I said 'Hello'.

He'll like that!

And if you end up buying a card or two?

He'll like that even more...

Monday, 18 November 2013

Meeting My Make-Up...

It should be pretty obvious to those who follow me that I'm a bit of beauty fiend. Although I'm not all that up-to-date with the newest launches and hottest beauty news I'm definitely in my element when you put me near a MAC or Benefit counter, and I've lost count of the hours I've happily whiled away in the aisles of Boots over the years.

So, without further ado, I present my collection (thus far...):

My everyday collection: Perspex drawer unit was from Amazon.

Back Row L-R
Chanel Inimitable mascara; Chanel Le Volume de Chanel mascara; Origins Vita Zing mascara; Jelly Pong Pong Fairy Lashes mascara; Nails Inc. Caviar Top Coat; Nails Inc. Caviar Base Coat; Benefit High Beam; Benefit The Porefessional sample.
Middle Row L-R
MAC Face and Body Foundation in N1; Benefit Erase Paste; Soap and Glory Kick Ass Concealer; Stila Highlighter Duo in Kitten (under the Erase Paste and Kick Ass Concealer); Topshop Lipsticks: Macaroon; Whimsical; Rio Rio; Oh La La.

Front Row L-R
Lush Lip Scrub in Bubblegum (review coming soon); Eye Dew Eye Drops; Barry M Nail Paint in Red Black. MAC Lipsticks See Sheer; Ravishing; Peach Blossom; So Chaud; Russian Red; Vegas Volt; Cut a Caper; Costa Chic.

Cream Blushes: Kevin Aucoin Creamy Glow in Tansoleil, MAC Something Special, Topshop Head Over Heels, Topshop Flush.

Clinique CC Cream and Soap and Glory Archery Brow Pencil and Pen.

Eyeshadows: Maybelline Colour Tattoo Cream Eyeshadows in On & On Bronze; Permanently Taupe; Immortal Charcoal. MAC single eyeshadows in: Phloof; Omega; Silver Ring; Black Tied; Jest; Satin Taupe (all time favourite 
); Moth Brown; Mythology; Gilded Ash.

L'Occitane Violet Hand Cream; Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer; Pout Flush Blush in Peachy Passion (sadly Pout is now defunct, such a shame as it was an amazing brand); Bourjois Colour Boost Lip Crayon in Orange Punch; Bourjois Colour Boost Lip Crayon in Peach on the Beach.

Vaseline Pink Bubbly Lip Balm; Vaseline Rosy Lips Lip Balm; Unbranded Pink Champagne Lip Balm.

MAC Pro Palette 

MAC Pro Palette.
Satin Taupe; Smoke and Diamonds; Copperplate; Knight Divine; Shroom; Vanilla; Espresso, Electra, Brun; Woodwinked; Tempting; Coquette; Era; Mystery.

Naked Basics Palette. 

Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette

Venus; Foxy; Walk of Shame; Naked 2; Faint; Crave.

Benefit  Smokin' Eyes Palette

Benefit Peek-a-Bright-Eyes Palette.

Benefit Feelin' Dandy Palette.

Benefit Her Name Was Glowla Palette.

Benefit She's So Jetset Palette.

And there we go. Most of what you see I've collected over a ten year period. The Phloof eyeshadow was purchased way back in 2003 for instance. All of the the Benefit sets have been gifts from Mr. G over the past three years (except for Feelin' Dandy, which was from a friend). The L'Occitane Hand Cream was a freebie with Marie Claire or Company (I forget which) a couple of months ago.

It's quite a modest collection compared to a lot of beauty bloggers', but I consider it a work in progress; with Christmas and my Birthday in the next few months I'm hoping to be able to add a few bits and pieces.

MAC Paint Pot in Dangerous Cuvee, Urban Decay Naked 2 PaletteMAC Strobe Cream and the Riri Hearts Mac collection are pretty high up on my wish list right now. If anyone's feeling generous?

I kid, I kid....

So what's caught your eye recently?

Anything you're secretly hoping to find in your Christmas Stocking this year?

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Le Weekend...

This weekend I have mostly been:

  • Going out with Mr. G for an early Saturday morning stroll and feasting on a scrumptious breakfast of pancakes, bacon and syrup in one of my favourite restaurants.
  • Feeling festive after sneaking some Lebkuchen and Home Alone DVDs into the trolley (you've got to love Aldi!).
  • eBaying like mad a thing. I'm surprised I haven't stuck myself on there yet.
  • Catching up on BBC Children in Need on iPlayer. And crying (there's been a lot of that lately. Clearly, I'm, like, totes emosh right now).
  • Watching Strictly...and wishing I could dance. Oh, to be Ola Jordan.
  • Enjoying breakfast in bed. Warmed Pain au Chocolats. Mmm...
  • Wrapping up warm in my gorgeous cable knit throw.
  • Treating myself to a candlelit bath to soothe my aching limbs. I say candles, they were cheapo tea lights. Which lasted all of half an hour. Pampering recession style!
Hope you've all had splendid weekends, whatever you've got up to...


The Bear, The Hare, And A Store That Care...

I have obviously been living under a metaphorical rock this past week as I've only just got 'round to watching the John Lewis Christmas advert.

Once the John Lewis advert hits the screens, that's it, it's practically time for the big man in red to charge up the sat-nav, dust down the sleigh, and jingle those bells.

Each year they seem to surpass themselves and 2013's offering is no exception; behold, ladies and gentlemen, The Bear and The Hare:

Tears may have fallen at some point...

 Just saying.  

It has Badgers (in your face Defra) and Bunnies (OK, Hares) and Bears (well, one, at least...) weaving a story of good- will, friendship, and other highly anthropomorphic abstract concepts, what's not to like?

The animation is vaguely reminiscent of The Animals of Farthing Wood - which I loved, with a passion -so, for me, there's a real element of nostalgia thrown into the mix as well.

Yes, yes, I know it's a big budget televisual feast advertising the wares of a 
retail corporation who are probably emotionally blackmailing us into a festive frenzy of rampant consumerism (those profit margins won't grow themselves!) and, yes, I know it's fashionable these days to be sneeringly cynical of absolutely everything, but I can't help it: I love it. 

To be quite honest the John Lewis advert is the least "spend spend spend" of the bunch (I'm looking at you, Argos). Hare doesn't buy Bear a mountain of presents, just one. And that one present is thoughtful and personal to him.

This is in stark contrast to most retailers' apparent belief that we should just chuck lots and lots of money at Christmas (and therefore their coffers).

The Bear and The Hare, with it's beautiful, traditional, animation harks back to an era where less was definitely more and it was the people (or, y'know, animated woodland creatures. Either works. I'm not fussy), not the presents, that made Christmas truly magical. They have managed to re-capture the essence of Christmases past and remind us just what is important at this time of year.


They've got me haven't they...?



Friday, 15 November 2013

They Were Good Days...

If you follow me on Twitter it'll be no secret to you at all that I am rather a big fan of a certain little Belgian Detective. You'll also know that I cried buckets when the final episode was aired on Wednesday night. 

I was pretty much a goner as soon as the opening bars of that famous theme started. And when the camera panned to our hero in a wheelchair? Finished.

Because, for me, and so many others out there, Hercule Poirot wasn't just a fictional creation of Dame. Agatha Christie, he was a real person. 

Of course Poirot, as a character, has existed in our literary consciousness for just shy of a century (he first appeared in The Mysterious Affair at Styles, published in 1920), and other actors have stepped into his spats across the decades, but it is, without doubt, David Suchet's unparalleled portrayal* of "this quaint dandified little man" with the mincing gait and immaculate attire, that has captured our hearts, over the past twenty-five years. 

You see, he wasn't just playing Poirot, he was Poirot.

From the tips of his waxed moustache down to his patent leather boots.

I will confess to having only read one or two of the Poirot novels in my lifetime so, for me, it's through Suchet's remarkable rendering (with the superb and succinct support of Hugh Fraser as Cpt. Hastings, Pauline Moran as Miss Lemon, and Philip Jackson as Inspector Japp) that the man, and his adventures, have come to life.

To witness the on-screen demise of that most proud and fastidious of men was truly heartbreaking. It was, on some level, as if we were losing a long lost friend. This grief can not have been more keenly felt by Suchet himself, who had inhabited his world, and his Homburg, since 1989.

It is almost difficult to discern where the man ends and the character begins, such is the symbiosis between the two.

But, all good things must come to an end, and end they did with possibly the most surprising dénouement in television history (with the exception of, perhaps, whisper it, Dallas).

It was at once shocking, thrilling, and highly emotional. 

Did I mention I cried?

 And, so it was, with the hearts most heavy, that we bade the fondest of farewells to that peculiar little Belgian and his little grey cells.

Au Revoir, mon Ami...

*when he's not busy moon-lighting as my Respiratory Consultant, obviously.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Review: Barry M Textured Nail Paint in 'Majesty'...

I spotted this new release from Barry M - part of their  Royal Textured Glitter collection - about a month ago, but, for some unknown reason, dilly dallied in picking it up. 

Every time I popped into Boots I'd make a beeline straight for the Barry M stand, gaze longingly at it for a couple of minutes, and then put it back again.

Did I really need another nail varnish?

Evidently so.

I finally took the plunge this week and have not stopped raving about it. The colour is really quite beautiful and one I've not seen in a varnish before. It's probably best described as a washed out silvery gold, very subtle and very pretty. I find a lot of gold nail products are very yellow and tend to be on the brassy side, not my cup of tea at all, but Majesty is completely different. 

It reminds me a lot of vintage Christmas tree decorations; that soft, ethereal gold that also looks silver, depending on the light.

As this is a textured nail paint it dries to a very fine gritty feeling. Not unpleasant at all, and the effect, much like the colour, is incredibly subtle. If you run your finger over it, it feels a little like sand-paper. Despite this grittiness it's super sparkly, and really glints when it catches the light. Again, a lot of glitter paints can be a little on the garish side, but this very fine glitter looks a lot more sophisticated.

The coverage is good and only takes two coats for full opacity, drying time is impressive too. I don't know if it's because it's textured, and so not as liquidy, but it was completely dry - not just to the touch- in a couple of minutes. 

If you're anything like me, and hate waiting for nail varnishes to dry, then this is a major plus point.

I'm so pleased with Majesty (colour, performance, everything...) that I want to invest in a couple of more nail paints from this range. Duchess (nude coloured glitter) and Countess (aubergine coloured glitter) are probably going to be coming home with me in the not too distant future.

Once again Barry M has come up trumps (their Hi-Shine Gelly range is also a winner with me) and it's a big (well, small, my hands are ridiculously small. Like my head.) glittery thumbs up from me!

Barry M - Textured Glitter Nail Paint - £3.99

P.S. There's 10% off online orders at the moment, so you have the perfect excuse to indulge!