Life, Loves and Lists - May 2015

Yes, I know, we are now in JULY. But life has managed to pass me by pretty quickly, and all of the great and fun things I did back in May still deserve a mention! Now that I have handed in all of my assignments and coursework I am back to work and can finally enjoy my evenings and weekends again. I am determined to invest some serious TLC into my blog, as it has been severely neglected since January, but I know aiming for the five plus posts a week I was churning out previously is setting myself up to fail; as much as I enjoy blogging and the opportunities and friendships it brings, life will always get in the way and the blog has to take a back seat. Anyway, read more after the jump...

KIKKI K AND A STATIONERY OBSESSION - I bought myself a Kikki K planner after a lot of deliberation, having really had to justify firstly the steep costs of the planners themselves, but also the shipping to get them over for Australia. I took the plung and was completely stung with about £25 worth of customs charges at this end (OUCH!) but as the planner is completely gorgeous I soon forgot about that. I have since become ultra organised, planning everything down to a tee, making lists upon lists, and obsessing over cute sticky notes, washi tapes and coloured pens - a fun evening for me is sitting down with my planner and seeing how much decoration I can cram onto one page! Seriously though, it has helped me to really streamline my week and get done all of my oustanding tasks, whilst ensuring I do something productive every day aside from work. I make my own planner inserts as I stupidly didn't realise I had to order some extra when I bought the planner, but this way the inserts suit my needs perfectly.
LEARNING LANGUAGES WITH FLASHSTICKS - I have learned French for as long as I can remember, yet I am still nowhere near being fluent. I would absolutely love to reach the level to be able to have a coherent conversation with a French person which extends beyond the basics such as 'Please I have bread' and 'Do have you the pepper?' I love the Duolingo app as I've found it really challenges me and gives me daily reminders to practice. Another method I've found for learning languages is Flashsticks*, a system whereby you get a set of sticky notes to stick up on the walls or to attach to various things (e.g., the 'chair' sticker on the chair, obviously!), and the repeated exposure leads to increased learning. Back in FebruaryI was sent the 'beginner' set, consisting of words I had mastered way back in primary school, so I think it's about time I tried the next set up!
THE LADYBOYS OF BANGKOK* - Thanks to Brighton's Fringe Festival that spans the month of May, I was invited down to watch this year's show. I went last year with a few of my fave blogging buds, and absolutely loved the show. As a female it's easy to enjoy without the fear that you're going to be dragged up on stage - you can see the men trying to avoid eye contact with the ladyboys and hide behind their friends to avoid being dragged up on stage, but watching their discomfort is actually half the fun of the show! The show features some absolute classics that make you want to get up and dance in your seat, and the costumes are just spectacular. They always try and incorporate some current chart tracks so there's something for everyone. I left the show in such a good mood - I will definitely be going back next year to see what's on offer! Unfortunately I didn't manage to get any decent photos as I was too busy enjoying the show - oops!
NUVA SPRING WATER* - I was sent a few bottles of Nuva spring water to try out, and given that I am really trying hard to watch what I put into my body (and not doing such a great job), these came at a great time. I don't drink tea or coffee so I get through a lot of squash and water - water is rarely exiting enough and squash has too much sugar, so Nuva spring water is a great compromise, as it has no sweeteners and no calories. Nuva water has a 'kiss' of flavour - that is, the flavour is barely perceptible but a damn sight more enjoyable than plain water. I can't stand cucumber so new I woudn't like the Cucumber & Mint flavour, but Melon & Jasmine was absolutely delicious! My only gripe about this drink is the name, as Nuva is actually the brand name for a contraceptive ring!
DERMALOGICA* - I was recently sent a variety of samples from Dermalogica to try out, and it's been great to be able to mix up my skincare routine a little. I've tried a couple of their products in the past, such as their daily microfoliant, and have been very impressed with both the quality and how gentle they are on the skin. Out of the products I've tried this time round, I particularly liked the Renewal Lip Complex (the most amazing lip balm!), Gentle Soothing Booster, and Skin Perfect Primer. If I ever get through my skincare stash, I may have to invest in some full-size Dermalogica!

TOUGH MUDDER - Having completed my first Tough Mudder event in October, I was itching to do another, and come 2nd of May the time had come again. With even less training than first time round, this one was definitely a struggle! Despite the course being shorter than the first one I completed, this one was incredibly hilly and oh so painful. I cannot explain the buzz I get from completing TM events, and I'm sure anyone else that has completed one will whole-heartedly agree. The thing I love most is the complete sense of camaredie across the whole event - in the picture above, I don't know the majority of the people that are helping me climb up the half-pipe, but everyone helps everyone the whole way. It really is great! 
SPA @ THEGRAND HOTEL, BRIGHTON - I was invited along to see the opening of the new spa at The Grand Hotel, which was absolutely gorgeous. I couldn't believe how back it was - the actual spa with its corridors leading off to treatment rooms was virtually a labyrinth! Where once there was a simming pool there is now a relaxation suite, with sofas hidden away by curtains for some privacy, as well as a comfy bed in the middle of the room. The whole layout is extremely sophisticated, and the treatment rooms dark and cosy. I have been to several spas that are far too light, with background noise, and that does not make for a relaxing experience. I was very intrigued by the champagne, caviar and gold facial, as the product itself actually has flecks of gold in it - how much more luxurious can you get?! The prices for treatments are steep, but these are in keeping with The Grand, and I am looking forward to a special occasion to blow some wonga here - it may be a while though!

Vix Meldrew - an absolute babe of a blogger who can rap better than any million dollar rapper that I've heard of - seriously, it needs to be seen to be believed! I love Vicky's blog and having been lucky enough to meet her, when I read her posts I can imagine her saying it all out loud and she cracks me up!
Beauty Obsessed Girl - I've known Adele right back from my early blogging days and chat to her most days, and having taken a little break from blogging over the past few months I am so glad that she's back!
KelseYouLater - I absolutely love reading what Kelsey gets up to in her spare time - the day I met her I was blown away by her knitting skills and have always been envious of her creativity. She's recently turned her hand to cross-stitch and I enjoy seeing exactly what she's been up to. Also, what a great play on words!



The Simple Joy of 'Hitting Pan'

Throughout university I used the same Rimmel blusher over and over again, repurchasing it every few months and never venturing outside my comfort zone. Since becoming a little bit hooked on beauty products however, I very rarely hit pan on anything. When I do hit pan though, I find it ever so satisfying, more so than I probably should, and it's a BIG thing that gets me really excited! Whereas previously I would think 'oh damn, I need to replace my blusher', these days I just relish the fact that it's time to delve into my ridiculous stash and fish out something new to use.
It took me a lot of trial and error to find a bronzer that I really felt comfortable using to contour, but I've finally found it in The Body's Shop's Honey Bronzer (review here). The fact that I've hit pan on it speaks volumes, and I already have a back-up a shade darker to take me through the warmer summer months. It is such a great matter shade that can be built up very gradually, and used alongside The Body Shop's kabuki brush it really is a winner.
I am a big fan of this Famous X No Shine Face Powder, which came from one of Sue Moxley's Superdrug ranges, although unfortunately as far as I am aware it has been discontinued; massive shame as this powder gives great coverage and a flawless finish, and the colour match is spot-on for me. There's not much to say about it other than this is the product that got me into using face powders, but fortunately I have a back-up of about seven different powders in my stash so I won't be too bothered when this one's finished!
Two products from possible my fave brand ever (Benefit, in case you hadn't guessed) - Hello Flawless, and Some Kind-a Gorgeous. Hello Flawless is a very finely milled powder which applies like a dream, although does give a lot of fall-out and make an awful mess all over the compact. This is a great product worn alone and seems to stay put much longer than any other powders I've tried.

This is the second compact of Some Kind-a Gorgeous that I've bought, and I love it! It's a strange hybrid of powder and cream, applying as a cream but drying with a powder texture. I stopped using it when I discovered the wonders of makeup brushes and how much better makeup applies with them, as Some Kind-a Gorgeous comes with a sponge applicator, which now I just can't bring myself to use. However, I'm not sure how else to apply it! The thing I love about this product is that you can just apply it to the areas of your skin that you want to conceal or even out, as the edges blend so seamlessly that you needn't wear a whole face of it at once. In fact, now that I've started writing about it I want to whack it straight out tomorrow morning to give it another go!

Does anyone else get the same crazy sense of satisfaction from 'hitting pan' that I do?!



Adventures of a Braceface... 2

Since getting my fixed braces in April (read more here), I've experienced feelings and emotions that I really hadn't prepared myself for. It's been strange going through the process of having braces again at 27, and has been completely different to my experience first time round. I thought I'd vent a few of my frustrations here, because why not?!
  • I've never really been terribly self-conscious in terms of having my photograph taken. If I happen to look goofy in someone else's photo, so what?! We all know someone who's all 'OH MY GOD remove that awful picture of me from Facebook', but the way I see it is that other people see you like that in real life so why bother censoring it online. I'm not that kind of vain. HOWEVER. Now that I have braces, I don't know how to smile for photos. Teeth out? Teeth away? If I try and cover up the metal framework on my gnashers I end up looking like I've got a mouthful of marshmallows, and if I get them out I just look like an overgrown kid.
  • That brings me on to my next point - THREE times in the last month I have been told I look 12 / 13 years old. Why do people feel it is okay to say these things?! Other people's insensitive comments have made me feel incredibly insecure, so thank God the braces are only for a year.
  • However, I have not been asked for ID once since getting braces, a big contrast to getting asked virtually all the time. Why is it that people say I look 12, yet I no longer get ID'ed?!
  • I have to take a tooth brush everywhere I go. The thought of opening my mouth to talk and having food stuck everywhere terrifies me, so as soon as I've eaten I have to run off to the toilet. For those that don't know me so well it feels a little awkward saying 'BRB, off to brush my teeth!'
  • They HURT. I really don't remember them hurting this bad last time, so why so much now?! Eating is a struggle because I can't bite down on my teeth a lot of the time, so I tend to go the working day without eating and then collapse through my front door verging on starvation.
  • I now have a lisp. My teeth no longer touch together, meaning that I have a lisp. This comes and goes as my teeth move, but now even talking makes me self-conscious.
  • 8 weeks between appointments is a VERY long time. The waiting is driving me insane, but hopefully it'll be worth it in the long run!



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