Thursday, 31 May 2012

Painting of the day #1

Since classes and exams have finished, I've been getting back into painting. I used to paint all the time when I was at school, and I even went to art college after finishing my GCSEs (I left after a couple of months to go to sixth form so I could get into university instead), but I haven't really done much since leaving home, so I picked up some basic watercolours and some metallic and neon acrylic paints from Ryman's a couple of weeks ago.

I've just been painting and drawing random things so far, but from today I've decided to paint one specific portrait or landscape each day (these will probably almost always be portraits, as I'm mostly inspired by beautiful editorials or street style photos): today's painting comes courtesy of Lookbook.

Source image: Flavia D. on
I was drawn to the clashing prints (monochrome spots and stripes being especial favourites of mine) but particularly to the gorgeous yellow coat. I'd recently bought a fantastic neon acrylic paint, so thought this would be the perfect image to crack it open for.

Media used:
Watercolour paints in Lemon Yellow, Crimson Red, Prussian Blue and Burnt Umber
Acrylic paints in Indescent Gold, Indescent Silver and Lemon Yellow

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Photo diary: St Andrews in the sunshine

West Sands beach
 I took a short walk through town the other day, taking advantage of the unusually warm weather to give my camera a long-needed dusting off. The weather was absolutely beautiful and it was wonderful to see so many people I had seen suffering in the library, huddled in jumpers and scarves, just a couple of weeks ago now stretching out in shorts and sunglasses and enjoying the sunshine!

St Andrews castle

St Andrews cathedral

St Andrews cathedral

The famous Old Course links
I absolutely love living in St Andrews: there's a such a friendly, small-town feel to the place but there's also great expanses of beaches and woodland so I find it difficult to feel any claustrophobia. During semester, it's almost impossible to go to Tescos without bumping into someone you know - which can be both a blessing and a curse! - but it's also great during the summer when the town is filled with eager and excited tourists!

West Sands

The pier

West Sands

Secret garden at the back of the library

View of the town from West Sands

St Salvator's chapel

West Sands

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Week in photos #2

Homemade tarte au citron // Paddling pool 

Beautiful crockery // Amaretto Kiss cocktail

Monster cocktail // Homemade strawberry milkshake cake [Recipe]

Homemade vegetable quiche // Gold accented nails

Gift for the boyfriend // More sunshine!!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Coveting: New in this week #2

I finally finished my last exam on Monday, and since then have been spending many hours lapping up the sunshine, eating ice cream and catching up with my housemates - it seemed as though we hadn't seen each other at all since revision had kicked in, so it was great to just be able to hang out together again without the weight of exams or essays looming over us.

My favourite things from the shops this week reflect my current carefree state of mind: lots of girly pastels, flowers and swishy dresses. Long may the summer continue!

1: Urban Outfitters elephant watch necklace // 2: River Island pink denim dress // 3: Topshop pink and cream bag // 4: Whistles black jersey dress // 5: Emma Cook rose print shorts

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Recipe: Strawberry Milkshake Sponge Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream

I went to a friend's barbecue yesterday, and took along this gorgeous cake! It's super easy to make, looks and tastes like the perfect summer cake and went down an absolute treat! Here's the recipe...

200g caster sugar (you can use granulated if you don't have caster to hand)
200g plain flour
200g butter (if you leave it out to soften a little at room temperature it's much easier to mix)
4 eggs
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk
3 tbsp strawberry milkshake powder (I used Nesquik)
dash of vanilla essence
dash of red food dye
and for the buttercream:
80g butter
200g white chocolate
250g icing sugar
and a large punnet of strawberries to decorate

1. Preheat the oven to 170C (fan)/190C and beat together the butter and sugar in a large bowl
2. Beat the eggs together in a separate bowl
3. Add the baking powder, 1/2 of the flour and 1/2 of the eggs to the butter and sugar, and mix together
4. Add the remaining flour, eggs, milk, milkshake powder, vanilla and food dye to the mixture and mix together thoroughly
5. Line two cake tins with butter and greaseproof paper, then pour the mixture evenly into them
6. Bake for about 20 minutes
7. While the cake is baking, melt the white chocolate
8. Beat the butter and 1/3 of the icing sugar together
9. Add the melted chocolate and 1/3 of the icing sugar and mix together
10. Beat the rest of the icing sugar into the mixture until it is mixed thoroughly. You may need to add more icing sugar depending on the consistency of your buttercream: it should be stiff enough to hold its shape
11. When the sponges are cooked, let them cool, then spread half the buttercream on top of one of the sponges, and place halved (or quartered if they're large) strawberries in a ring around the edge
12. Place the other sponge carefully on top, spread the rest of the buttercream on the top and place the rest of the strawberries all over the top

Use an electric mixer if you have one, as this gives the cake a lighter texture, makes it rise a little more and is a lot easier on your arms!
My favourite method for melting chocolate is to boil water in a saucepan, then place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl on top of the saucepan, and stir until it's all melted. It's a lot safer than risking it burning in the microwave, and gives a more even consistency

This cake is perfect for a garden party or barbecue, it looks so summer! I'm thinking of making a strawberry and blueberry version for my family's Jubilee party!  

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Week in photos #1

Gin in a teacup // Iron Man clementines
T-crisp // zigzag nails
Latin revision // carb overload
delicious graze box // Greek revision
view from my window // burned myself on tea

Revision madness is coming to an end. I've only left the house to collect books from the library and stock up on humus from Tesco, and I've barely spoken to my housemates! They've all finished their exams and have been sitting out in the garden all day - I've had to keep my blinds closed so I don't get too jealous of them! I have my final exam, Athenian Lies & Ideology, tomorrow morning, so I'm going to spend a few more hours reading over the set texts and jotting down any vocab to look through over breakfast before the exam. Daddy's coming up to celebrate as soon as the exam finishes, and I'm hoping to get thoroughly spoiled with wine and nice food! 

Next week I'll be busy saying goodbye to friends who are going home for the summer, going to job interviews and arranging work experience and volunteering for the next few months. I'll also be catching up on all the tv shows and sleep that I've been missing out on, as well as celebrating the official start of the summer with lots of gin and cake, I can't wait!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Coveting: New in this week

Revision has been taking it's toll this week (my final exam is on monday - just a few more days to go!) and I've been spending most of my breaks wandering wistfully past shop windows or browsing online. I went into Superdrug for the first time in YEARS yesterday and bought my first ever MUA products and was blown away by how cheap everything in the range is! I got quite a range of stuff, I'll probably do a post on that at some point. 

Anyway, this post is a product of long days spent at my desk with only Plato and Euripides for company. Lots of colour, pattern, and sparkle! I'm sure the Ancient Greeks would have approved... 

1: J.Crew capri pants // 2: Marc by Marc Jacobs iPad case // 3: Zara Girl sequinned bag // 4: River Island studded bralet // 5: Sonia by Sonia Rykiel floral print dress // 6: Zara Girl leather wedges 

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Review: Liz Earle skin tint, Dr Nicholas Perricone eye cream, Elemental Herbology cleanser, face mask and moisturiser

So I've been using all the products I received in my Little Beauty Box from Latest in Beauty over the past few days, so thought I'd record my thoughts on them!

First up: the Sheer Skin Tint from Liz Earle. This came in three shades: Bare 01 (fair), Beige 02 (medium) and Beach 03 (medium to dark) - there's a darker shade Deep Bisque 04 available online. It claims to give a "naturally dewy, even and radiant" look to your skin, with SPF 15. This sounds like my ideal product, as I like to steer clear of foundation in favour of tinted moisturisers and BB creams.

L-R: Bare 01, Beige 02, Beach 03
The formula is thick and creamy, a bit thicker than I was expecting to be honest! I had to blend Bare 01 and Beige 02 together to get a suitable match to my skin, and it was quite difficult to blend in. At first it felt quite greasy, but after a few minutes when it had settled in it had a nice dewy sheen and gave a slight shimmer to my skin. There was some light coverage and it evened out my skin tone a bit, but I still had to use concealer - but this is only a tint, so I wasn't expecting a miracle! I don't think I'll buy a full size version of this product, although the coverage was better than I thought it would be, it felt quite heavy on my face, and I prefer to use lighter products. This skin tint is available at the Liz Earle website for £21.

Next up, the Bright Eyed Flawless Eye Cream by Dr Nicholas Perricone. As soon as I opened the packet, I wanted to eat this cream - it smells DELICIOUS! The scent is melon, but it reminds me of those Pez sweets you used to be able to get! Apparently melons contain antioxidants called carotenoids which are great for the delicate skin around your eyes. This product claims to prime, hydrate and de-puff your eyes.

I used this product as I got ready for bed, instead of my usual night-time moisturiser. It was really easy to apply and felt very natural on my skin, it wasn't noticeably sticky or wet like some night-time moisturisers tend to be! The first time I used it (there were six packets in my sample box - amazing!), I just used it on one eye so I could easily see if there were any differences. I didn't notice anything immediately, but after an hour I could tell that the eye I'd used the cream on felt and looked smoother and tighter, and in the morning it was noticeably brighter and more hydrated than the other one! I really loved this product, the smell alone would sell it to me but the fact that I could notice a difference after just one night was amazing. This is quite an expensive product for me though (you can buy it for £29.50 from the SUPER website), but I definitely think it would be worth the price, so I'm going to have a scout around eBay later to see if I can find a cheaper one!

The last products I received were the Facial Cleanser, Facial Glow and Facial Hydrator from Elemental Herbology. I used the cleanser instead of my usual one during my night-time routine; it has green tea, olive extract and lavender flower in it, and you could definitely smell the lavender! It smelt a bit like those microwavable packs you can get, not really my taste but it was quite relaxing and soothing just before I went to bed. It removed most of my makeup, leaving just a little mascara smudge and a hint of lipstick. My skin felt really soft and smooth afterwards, which was lovely!

I tried the Facial Glow this morning, it's a face mask that has vitamin C, papaya and manuka honey in it. I didn't really like the scent, it was slightly citrusy, but also a bit strange, I can't really explain it but I didn't enjoy having it on my face for the recommended 4 minutes! It had a slightly rough texture, and after I'd rubbed it in it felt really fresh and cooling, a perfect way to wake me up in the morning! It was super easy to wash off, the packet suggests using a flannel but I just splashed it off with warm water. My skin felt really soft and smooth afterwards and I don't know if it was just my imagination but it seemed like it had evened out my skin tone too! Apart from the smell, this was a really great product.

Finally, I applied the Facial Hydrator after using the Facial Glow. This was such a great product, it had biodynamic algae and pearl extract in it and the scent really reminded me of the sea. It's an oil free moisturiser with SPF 12 and had quite a runny texture, which made it really easy to apply. It took quite a while to sink into my skin, but once it had it left it feeling hydrated and soft all day long!

I really liked the Facial Cleanser and the Facial Hydrator and would definitely consider purchasing the full-sized versions of these products. Although the Facial Glow was effective, I was put off by the smell, although I'd consider buying a different version of it, if they had one. I've just checked the Elemental Herbology website and apparently the Facial Hydrator that I sampled has been replaced with their Perfect Balance Hydrating Moisturiser, but you can still buy the Facial Hydrator from ASOS for £55. The Facial Cleanser is still available from the Elemental Herbology website for £28, and the Facial Glow is there too for £39. These prices are really steep for me, but like the Dr Nicholas Perricone product, I will definitely consider purchasing these if I can find them cheaper somewhere else!

Overall, I was really happy with the samples that I received, and the amount of the eye cream product was especially good! Definitely worth the £1.50 it costs to receive from Latest In Beauty! The products I ordered are still available to order from Latest In Beauty, and will be for the next 16 days. Have you ordered anything from Latest in Beauty before, or tried the products I've mentioned in this post?

Monday, 14 May 2012

Hair Inspiration: Braids

I LOVE braids, plaits, whatever you want to call them. They're perfect for hiding hair in need of washing, adding a bit of visual interest, or both. To me they scream - or rather utter nonchalantly - carefree, pretty, summery effortlessness.

The combination of braids + bun is my favourite. I went for this look at a friend's garden party last week, wrapping a couple of braids around a simple high bun. It camouflaged the fact that I should have washed my hair and prevented the wind from blowing my hair into my quiche - perfect!

I also loved Kate Middleton's braid + low bun look she rocked at the 'Our Greatest Team Rises' Olympic concert last week; it was a nice change from her usual long wavy locks and showed off the back of her amazing Jenny Packham dress really well.

Image from Grazia

Here's some more of my favourite braid looks:

Braided fringe from IKnowHair

Another take on the braided bun from IKnowHair
Super cute fishtail braid from WeHeartIt
The best, longest pigtail plaits from WeHeartIt

When I went to school, my mum always used to do my hair in pigtails like the last photo, because I had the thickest, craziest hair! During reading sessions though, I'd always untie it so I could play at hairdressers with my friends, and at the end of the school day I'd run out with it sticking out everywhere and drive my mum mad!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Coveting: Animal Bags

UPDATE: There's a giveaway to win one of these amazing bags, check it out on The Dainty Squid!

Owl bag by TitinaStore

I found this amazing owl bag via The Dainty Squid, isn't it just the cutest little thing? I clicked through to the Etsy shop where it came from, TitinaStore and was thrilled to find more animal shaped bags!
Fox bag by TitinaStore

Raccoon bag by TitinaStore
All these bags are handmade from vegan material. I think I've fallen in love with Mr Fox! Which is your favourite?

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Inspiration: Study Spaces

I'm currently in the middle of revising for my penultimate end of year exams, and it's terrifying! My study space is not exactly conducive to learning - it's just a messy mishmash of textbooks, pens, craft products, magazines, nail varnish and teapots! So I've been scouring Pinterest and We Heart It for some inspiration, and found some amazing photos!

This is my current study space in all its cluttered and messy glory... hopefully posting this on the internet will shame me into doing something about it!! I have two desks: a standard Ikea/Argos one that makes an appearance in every student bedroom and an old battered one that my mum found me, it used to be a school desk and it even has some graffiti on it! I also have a shelf, a few baskets, a little chest of drawers and one of those letter holder things. I don't really want to spend much money, so I've been looking for inspiring ways to organise and transform what I already have...



Apartment Therapy

caitnicole7 on Pinterest

001: Hanging photos and magazine clippings on a little string washing line would be a much neater and sleeker way to display things!
002: Effective use of bright pops of colour and fairy lights add warmth and interest without overpowering 
003: Utilising every single spare space for storage is really important for small rooms! Magazine racks, hooks, shoe boxes - use everything!
004: Pretty patterned bulldog clips to separate different class notes/other loose papers together

I've got lots of shoe boxes and old delivery boxes that I can either paint or cover in pretty coloured paper to make more storage space, and I've also got some coloured pegs lying around somewhere so I'll definitely be adding a couple of photo 'washing lines' soon! I'm quite lucky in that my landlord lets us decorate our rooms (within reason!) so I've already added a couple of shelves to my room. I think I'll do some rearranging to try and make my desk area more sleek and peaceful! I'll post with updates in the next few days, hopefully a clean study space will make me much more productive!

Review: Latest in Beauty 'Little Beauty Box'

I've been deliberating about signing up to Glossybox or one of the other monthly beauty subscription boxes for a while now; I love testing out new products (and getting parcels through the post!) but I'm not so keen on the idea of dishing out around £15 a month for things I might not like or ever use. So when I stumbled across the Latest in Beauty website, I was very eager to sign up.

The concept of their 'Little Beauty Box' is similar to Glossybox et al., only slightly different and (in my opinion) much better. Every month you get to choose what will go in your box: there are three 'rounds', each with three products in, and you choose one product in each round. The Little Beauty Box is FREE(!!!) and you only have to pay for postage (£1.50, sent via text message); this is also NOT a subscription service, you only pay for the boxes you want to receive. The only downside is that the samples are much smaller than the other monthly subscription boxes, but for £1.50 there isn't really much to complain about!

I ordered my Little Beauty Box at 9.40pm last Wednesday (May 2nd) and it arrived by Royal Mail this morning. The packaging isn't particularly fancy, just a strong brown box, but it does fit through the letterbox which is great, as I was at the library when it arrived!

You get quite a good stash of samples! I ordered the following: Liz Earle sheer skin tint, which came in three sample sachets, one each of the three shades it comes in; SUPER by Dr Nicholas Perricone eye cream, which came in 6 sachets; and an Elemental Herbology skin care trio, one sachet each of a cleanser, moisturiser and face mask.

On the website, it looks like you can purchase the full-sized version of products that you have trialled at a discount price, so I'll be looking out for that in the next few days if I enjoy these samples! Once I've tried them all, I'll post reviews for each product.

Have you tried the Latest in Beauty 'Little Beauty Box'? What do you think?