Friday, 31 December 2010

Best of 2010

Ahhh, 2010 - what a year. For me personally, it's had its fair share of ups and downs (the house falling apart, being hospitalised with stress, starting a new job that I love...) but for Sparkle and Shade it's been a year of joy. When I started this blog in February, I had no idea that it would take off in the way it has, nor did I know how many wonderful people I'd meet (both in the flesh and on the interwebs) or how many fantastic opportunities I'd get!

Anyway, here's my round up of the best products I've used this year - enjoy! Think of it as a sort of mini awards ceremony if you will

Best Skincare - Liz Earle
I'll admit it, I'm a Liz Earle addict. Not only do I use Cleanse and Polish, I also use a toner, moisturiser, serum, eye cream and body lotion by her. Queen Liz is truly excellent, and this range has turned my skin round. Love it.

Best Haircare - Aussie Take the Heat
I'll be honest, this one changes quite a lot, but Aussie Take the Heat has been my hair saviour this winter - it's managed to keep the frizz firmly at bay but also given me shine and volume. Other strong contenders are Liz Earle and Aveda :)

♥ Best Base Makeup - Bobbi Brown
Ahhh Bobbi, how you've captured my heart. I use Super Moisture Rich foundation and also the creamy concealer and powder kit and I utterly love it - flawless finish everytime and finally a perfect match for my skin. Also ranking very highly is the MAC MSFN in Light Medium, ELF Studio Concealer and Highlighter and The Body Shop Nature's Minerals Foundation

Best Eyeshadow - Fyrinnae, Darling Girl Cosmetics, Shiro and Urban Decay
Ok, so I know this is a bit of a cop out but seriously - I have hundreds of eyeshadows. These four companies are the ones who have really stood out for me though - the ones who've either done something with eyeshadows that has made me go *wow* or the ones that I come back to time and time again. It was Fyrinnae who made me come back to creative eyeshadow - I ordered some of their beautiful colours and I was hooked all over again. Since then, I've splurged on 3 Urban Decay palettes that are used pretty much daily, I stumbled across Shiro in pretty much their first week of opening and ordered for the geeky names alone but was them blown away by the colours and then, fairly late on in the year, saw some people chatting about Darling Girl Cosmetics, took the plunge and was extremely impressed with the quality. Other brands who deserve an honourable mention are Sleek and Yaby.

Best Lip Product - Eyeko London Lips
Again, this is tough, but Eyeko London Lips have changed my relationship with glosses - I used to think of them as a slightly pointless, colourless addition of shine to ones face, but the pigmentation on these has taught me that they can add a sheer hint of colour too. Other lip products I've loved are th Dr Organic Pomegranete Lipbalm, the Boots 17 Mirror Shine Lipsticks and The Body Shop Lipsticks.

Best Mascara - Boots 17 Va Va Voom
I seem to have tried a lot of mascaras this year, but the only one that I reperchased and which I used everyday is this. Volume, deep blackness, no clumping, no flaking. Love it. It is truly a perfect mascara. I used to use Lancome Hypnose, but I actually prefer this.

Most worthy of hype - Cloud Nine Straighteners
I have to say, I didn't expect to love these as much as I do. I've never been one for hair things... mainly because I'm really quite rubbish, but I was given these as a PR sample and do you know what? I've never had so much fun with my hair! I've learnt how to straighten to give a professional blow dry effect and, most importantly, I've learnt to curl my hair. A fabulous product which is more than worth the hype it received in the blogsphere. Also worthy of hype was the Urban Decay Naked Palette (and the Alice Palette actually).

Best Budget Company - ELF
I remember hearing about ELF a couple of years ago but I never quite "got it" if you get me. This yeart though, I took the plunge and bought quite a few things from ELF and I have not been disappointed. Every single thing I've bought has been excellent - the brushes are a staple in my kit and there are so many other bits that I reach for on a near daily basis. Fabulous.

So my lovelies, what gets your awards? If you fancy, why not leave me a comment with the products you'd award for each category xx
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Thursday, 30 December 2010

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Hello lovelies!

I hope you've had a wonderful Christmas and that you're not feeling too over-indulged! I had a wonderful time, although a little busy - we do Christmas Eve at our house, wake up and do stockings, then go to church (I was preaching - eeek!). After church, we go up to Peter's Mum and Dad's and stay there until Boxing Day morning when we do a teeny bit of sales shopping and then travel down to Derby to stay with my sister - this year we had a big Boxing Day buffet with all the family, then a day after Boxing Day walk and meal with my Sister, her family and some of their friends and then (just to be crazy) we stayed an extra night with them, and finished the whole thing off with seeing my Dad and then driving home in the scary fog.

I have to say, I was kinda ready to just get home and get back into the swing of normal life by the end - I love all the fun of Christmas, but I was soooo full and just ready for snoozy times in my own bed :)

I've loved reading all the lovely things that Santa has brought you, so I thought I'd share some of my favourites! I got a few other lovely things like chocolates and underwear and baking bits and bobs too!

My own little sewing machine!!!!!! I was so excited about this - my Mum got it me as a Christmas and Birthday present combined. It's utterly brilliant :) I'm going to be doing a lot more sewing in 2011 (watch this space over the next few days for a little more info about that!)

A couple of my smaller presents - The Sukie book is full of pretty iron on designs and I utterly adore Gilmore Girls! I got some other lovely books too but I forgot to take pictures of them :)


A Fuji HS10 - isn't she beautiful?! I was so, so very excited about this. Sadly I can't use her properly yet because no-one remember to get me an SD card but I have one coming and I'm so very excited. As you can probably tell by the quality of these pictures, my current camera is sort of on its last legs.... *sigh* the HS10 is just so stunning. It's the most DSLR-esq bridge camera I've seen. Such an amazing telephoto lens and Super Macra (up to 1cm) - just beautiful! It also does Full HD movie too which is faberooo! Again, watch this space for some exciting photography based news.

So my lovelies, have you had a nice Christmas? Did Santa bring you anything nice? If you've done a post on your Christmas hauling, feel free to comment with a link as I love reading them! xxx

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Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas

Praying that you all have a wonderful, restful, peaceful Christmas and that Santa brings you all that you wanted. Let's spare a thought for those who have no-one this Christmas and remember to be thankful for what and who we have :) xxx
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Thursday, 23 December 2010

Darling Girl Cosmetics Eyeshadow Review and Swatches

Hello lovelies! I hope you're all getting excited about the run up to Christmas! I thought I'd share a few of my thoughts and swatches on the Darling Girl Cosmetics eyeshadows that I bought a little while back. I first heard about Darling Girl Cosmetics on the lovely Lily's blog and, as I'm always on the look out for pretty and unusual colours, I thought I'd give them a try.

First Impressions
I have to say, the website isn't too bad actually - nice, clean and simple although I'd prefer a navigation bar down the side for easy access (just personal preference I guess)... at least it's not black. I get so frustrated with black backgrounds on websites - they hurt my eyes! Annnyway, my first impressions were definitely good. The quality of the photos is really nice as well and gives a fairly accurate show of colour.There's a whole range of bits available but I decided to stick with eyeshadows. Eyeshadows are available in 3 different sizes:

Samples (1/8th tsp in a zip lock bag) $0.60
Petit (1/4 tsp in a 3g jar) $2.00
Full (3/4 tsp in a 5g jar) $4.00

I love the fact that there really is something for every budget and I feel that the samples are very generous for $.60!

I had no problems ordering from the site - everything went through nice and smoothly. From what I remember, shipping was very reasonable although I can't see anything on the site that gives me a set answer for shipping costs (and as it's nearly Christmas, the site is on hold for orders!).

The product
So what did I think of the products themselves? Well I have to say my first impression was that I was a little underwhelmed - the colours didn't look that great in the bags and a few of them didn't look properly mixed. However, I never judge an eyeshadow by its baggie so I gave them a swatch anyway and wow.... I was utterly blown away by the complexity of the colours. So many gorgeous duochromes and such wonderfully rich pigmentation - the colour payoff is out of this world. Let me show you:
darling girl cosmetics eyeshadow swatches

Showdown - My camera really can't pick this colour up properly but it's a wonderful murky green with hints of red and black and maybe a little gunmetal grey.
Aziza - Muted purple with red sparkles
Princess Peach - lovely velvety peach with a hint of gold and red sparkles
Enchanted - Lilacy pink with a blue duochrome glitter
Cider - A robust orange-gold with a hint of green
Scarecrow - at first I thought this was purple but it's actually  a browny maroon with  red, orange and gold sparkles
Oceania - stunning! Vibrant blue with silver sparkles
Sparkles at Dusk - Taupe with hints of grey and red and mauve
Torrid - another hard to describe colour - greeny blueish blackish lovelyness
Electra - yellow and gold infused lime green
Mystic - deep dark blackened purple with red sparkles

I'll be honest, those colour descriptions do the eyeshadows themselves no justice - they remind me a lot of Fyrinnae in their complexity and sparkle... Pixie Epoxy is a definite must with these babies! I'll leave you with a few more pictures but my advice? Try them! They're too good to be missed :)

darling girl cosmetics eyeshadow swatches

darling girl cosmetics eyeshadow swatches

ETA - Squee, the wonderful Susan from Darling Girl Cosmetics has asked to use some of my colour descriptions on her website :) Go take a peek at some of the colours I've swatched and you'll see them there. Thank you Susan <3
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Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Thank you!!!!

Argggghhhhhh Eeeeeeeek Woooooooo!

Windy Wedding Day

I won!!!!!! Thank you so much to everyone who voted - your vote really did make a huge difference. Quite a few people have asked me what prize I've gone for - I went for the £1000 of Apple vouchers. We discovered the other day that my laptop is definitely not fixable and we have zero pennies to buy a new one so this is just a wonderful blessing. Those of you that know me well will know that this has been a tough year in many ways, so to end with something as wonderful as this has just been lovely! I have the biggest smile on my face - I literally never win anything at all, let alone something this big! I want to say a special thank you to those of you on twitter who have been RT'ing me like troopers - you're utter stars!!

As promised I'll be adding a little something extra to my giveaway but I'm going to keep it a surprise. Rest assured that you'll like it though :D

Thank you again - you're all wonderful!! xxxx

PS A couple of people have asked to see some more pictures from our wedding day - you can see a good selection here - a massive thanks to the immensely talented Agape as well for taking such a beautiful picture. I can't recommend them highly enough as wedding photographers :)
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Monday, 20 December 2010

Monday Musings III

Apologies for the slight quietness on Sparkle and Shade over the last week - the final week of term was utterly draining and a little stressful so all I wanted to do was sleep and then one of my best friends from Uni came to stay for the weekend so I spent a lot of time catching up with her too! Nevermind though, I'll still let you in on some of my Monday Musings!


On Monday, I shared my previous Monday Musings
On Wednesday, I finally learnt how to curl my hair and asked you lovelies how you curl yours!
On Thursday, I realised there wasn't long left in the Superdrug Radiance Competition and today there's even less time left (it closes at 23.59GMT so if you haven't voted, I'd love it if you could scoot over and vote for number 6!)
On Saturday, I treated you to an Inspirational Interview with the immensely talented and utterly lovely Dvora Divine.

♥ Eye Eye

This week I was lucky enough to see the snow and ice finally melt away - it's not completely gone (and in fact, this morning the River Ouse had frozen over again in part) but it was a welcome sight all the same!

I've also been lucky enough to see one of the most beautiful brides and one of the most gorgeous weddings I've ever been to on Saturday. Classy, understated and so full of adoring love.

Finally, I very literally got to see my good friend Rachel who I lived with throughout my time at Uni. It's been a few months since I saw her last so I was really appreciative.

♥ Whirring Cogs

I've not really been thinking much over the last week or so in some ways - mainly just about how tired I am. I've genuinely not been this tired for a long time and I think I'm probably still getting over having Flu to be honest.

I've also been thinking a lot about politics and corruption and corporate greed and that sort of thing which makes my head hurt and my heart sad. I've been feeling very challenged in how (un)ethical my life is and I've been trying to work out some achievable steps for changing that, which I'll possibly chat a little more about in the new year.

The other thing that's been occupying a lot of my thoughts is thinking about the shocking mess that the postal service has managed to get itself in. I'm quite worried that the majority of our presents aren't going to arrive, although I've just come home to discover Royal Mail had tried to deliver 2 parcels whilst I was out, so that's maybe a little more positive!

♥ Hidden Treasures

I've not had masses of time to read many blogs this week, let alone discover new ones, but here's a couple that I always think are wonderful:

♥ Mizz Worthy for being such a beautiful and lovely person. I had the pleasure of meeting her a month or so ago and she's fab!

♥ Beautys Bad Habit because she has gorgeous photography (in fact, she's just done a photography 1010 for bloggers post which I recommend reading) and stunning makeup. Again, I was lucky enough to meet Lily when I met Jen from Mizz Worthy and she's so lovely!

♥ Oh She Glows for a being truly inspiring lady. Her blog will (probably) change your life.

♥ The Path...

This week, I want to remember to not pay back evil for evil but instead to love the people I find difficult and do/say only nice things towards them.

♥ Respect Yourself
Me and Jillian have become firm friends with the 30 Day Shred, although it has taken a bit of a backseat whilst Rach was staying (I feel that no-one other than my hsuband should be subjected to the sight of me Shredding). I'm surprised at how much easier I've been finding it.

One other way I've been respecting myself is to be more mindful of what I eat - we always have options and whilst I don't think we should be constantly denying ourselves the things we desire, I do think that it's good for us to harness our cravings and work out what the true root of it is. I've been much more careful to check if I'm eating because I'm bored or if I'm eating because I'm hungry. 9 times out of 10 when I'm snacking, it's because I'm bored or thirsty! Try it - it might make a difference :)

That's the end of my Monday Musing's for this week - what have you been musing over recently?
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Saturday, 18 December 2010

Inspirational Interviews - Dvora Divine

Another week has quite simple flown by, which means it's time for another Inspirational Interview. This week I'm bringing you the fabulous Deborah from Dvora Divine. I fell in love with Deborah's blog when I was searching for photos of MUA kits (like you do) and soon got to know her through twitter and email chats. She is so sweet and lovely and helpful, and has put up with lots of my questions and frets about starting out as a freelance MUA. Anyway, enough of me - lets get on with the interview!

Thank you so much for agreeing to let me interview you! First, can you tell us a little bit about yourself please?! That's a loaded question. I'm a Zimbabwean born chocolate sister who  calls the sunny town of Stockton-on-Tees home. I'm loud, bubbly, dramatic and borderline crazy at times but most of the time I'm pretty happy. I came to the UK to study.  I have a degree in Business Finance from Durham University but somewhere along the line I met this lovely vanilla dude who has been my husband for a fantastic 2 years and 4 months. I've always been attracted to doing "arty" things so it's no suprise that I ended up being a make-up artist. 

How long have you been blogging for and why did you first start a blog?

Ehhh I'll be honest, I can't remember when I started blogging....something about November 2008 rings a bell. I started blogging because there just weren't many chocolate sisters at the time and I thought perhaps I could fill a niche market in the UK at least.

What inspired you to become a freelance MUA?

Truthfully, I was fascinated by what other people could do with their faces. I like the colours and the fact that if you made a mistake you could just wipe it off. Eventually I started to recognize all the dodgy make-up in this world and I wanted to do something about it. Now don't get my wrong, I used to wear EXTREMELY dodgy make-up and back then I thought I was fly!!! But I have since learnt from my ways and I wanna help other women too. Faces are a great canvas to work on. It never comes out exactly which is inspiring. 

How are you finding freelance life?

Exciting, daunting and downright difficult at times. I love it. But you really have to put your back into it. You are constantly haveing to prove to people that you are capable and when you are black its a little bit harder sometimes. It's not a racist thing, it's just people can think you don't know how to cross over at times. I remember one vanilla lady really wanting my services but expressing concern because she wasn't sure I could deal with her skin tone correctly. At that point in time I was carrying a good selection of foundations. Nothing could persuade her and she ended up going to someone else. If she had at least had a trial with me perhaps she might have changed her mind. But it's things like that, that keep me on my toes really.

At the moment business is building and I think 2011 is going to be a smashing year by God's grace!

One of the things that lead me to your blog was your amazing post on your MUA kit - has it grown much more? What are your must have items for professional use?

Why thank you! I love my kit!!! Since my kit post i've only added bits and pieces to it. My hair kit is the one that has grown the most if I'm honest with my lastest purchase being a purple pro hairdryer! (Sadly i'm quite excited about this!)

My biggest haul of the year - IMATS- is coming up in 2 months so it shall grow then most definitely! My wish list is stupidly long and I feel like I should have it ALL!

What are my must have items?! How can you make me choose?! I guess if I had to narrow it down it would be:-

Yaby and RCMA foundations

Tweezers and Eyebrow pencils/Powders
False lashes
Gosh Black Ink Eyeliner
Yaby Eyeshadow palette
Any decent mascara (no favourites)
My LaFemme Blush palette
My OCC liptars in primary colours plus black, white and clear
My Dermalogica Active Moist moisturiser.
and my beloved Brush Roll

(I've left so much out! but that would be bare minimum!)

What sort of things do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love to sing. I'm very active in my church choir so I devote a lot of time to that. I love  to watch action movies. I love cooking for my husband but most of all I like doing crafty things. I make jewellery, occasionally knit and I've just gotten into facepainting when I can find a child to practice on. 

How do you find the balance of being a Christian and being an MUA? Does it affect any of the decisions you make in terms of clients etc?
Well the first thing I do is that I make every effort not to work Sundays. I try to keep that day for God and for being with my Church family. It's not always possible to do this because sometimes you have Wedding fayres and they ALL fall on Sunday regardless so that can't be avoided but I'll still make an effort to be in church. I also don't work Halloween. The goriest work I think I'll ever do is paint myself a transformer. I'm not a fan of all the blood and gore of Halloween so I just let it pass. If I'm working on a shoot, I don't do anything where nudity or anything highly suggestive is involved. I don't want to lead anyone into temptation with the content on my website. 

What are the best and worst bits about being a beauty blogger?

Best:- knowing that someone out there likes what you write enough to keep track of what you do :)
Worst:- being organized enough to blog more
What can your readers look forward to over the next couple of months?

I really would like to be able to blog more. So I hope that I can figure out a work life balance that will do just that! I'd like to review things that people might not have considered or at least show it in a differing light. That would be nice for the following year. 
Ok time for some quick fire questions:

3 Favourite Items of Make up:

Eyebrow pencil
3 Favourite Foods:

Chicken wings
ready made polenta

3 Desert Island Items:

my husband
my bible
and phone!

3 People who've inspired you:
Pat McGrath (Ah-mazing make-up artist)
Catherine Harris (My Pastor who is the most organised person I know!)
My Hubby (For being so methodical and keeping my grounded!)

3 blogs you'd like to recommend:

Tough one! Fabulous make-up artist and she keeps it real her work is simply amazing. I wanna be her when I grow up she's plain fierce.
3 words of advice:

Eat gooooood food!

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Thursday, 16 December 2010

Eeeek only 4 days left!!

Windy Wedding Day

I know you're probably bored of me yammering on about this, but I would really, really really appreciate it if you could just whizz over here and vote for me as there are only 4 days left in this competition.

I'm number 6 and the whole thing will take you less than 30 seconds, plus you won't receive any spam at all!

Thank you so much to those of you that have already voted me for and to you lovely people who've been RTing me and my constant flurry of tweets - you're stars!

Also, if I do win, I promise I'll add a little something extra special to my giveaway xx
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Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Question - How do you curl yours?!

Hello lovelies!

Some of you may have read on twitter last night that I finally learnt how to curl my hair with straighteners - I've tried and tried so many times to do it, when I went to the Cloud Nine photoshoot a while ago, the wonderful Guillaume tried to teach me but I really still didn't get it. However, last night, the miraculous happened and I finally got it. For those of you wondering, I used this video to teach myself:

So simple and incredibly effective - this gave me really natural looking curls instead of the ribbon curl effect that you can often get when you curl with straighteners. Saying that though, it did take a while so I've been wondering about maybe getting a conical wand or tongs - I love having curly hair!

This got me thinking - ladies, how do you curl your hair? Do you use straighteners? If so, what method do you use? Do you use curling tongs or a concical wand - if so, why?

Can't wait to hear your answers :) xx
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Monday, 13 December 2010

Monday Musings II

Hello lovelies! Can you believe it's Monday already? I feel like time is wizzing past! Thank you so much for all your lovely comments about last week's Monday Musings - I'm so glad that you enjoyed it. Here's my musings on the last week - enjoy! :)

On Monday, I brought you my first Monday Musing, wich you should check out if you're wondering what on earth this is!
On Tuesday, I did a little review of the Sleek Sparkle Palette
On Wednesday, I gave you my thoughts on a couple of Burt's Bees Lip Products I'd been sent for review and I also asked you what you do to stay fit and healthy.
No posts on Thursday and Friday as I was at work/being generally angry about politics.
On Saturday, I treated you to the next installment of my Inspirational Interview series with Jen
On Sunday, I shared my first impression of the 30 Day Shred

♥ Eye Eye

I've seen a heck of a lot of the inside of my house this week due to having flu - I've also seen it change from disorganised chaos to a nice tidy place to live!

One thing that I've been quite happy to see is the snow finally starting to melt - well, I say snow, what I really mean is thick thick icey death. So happy to see that gone!

Last night, I was performing in the Minster Carol Service, which had somewhere around 2,000 people so I saw a heck of a lot of things there! I was in the choir, which means I saw all those people as I looked out at them, then I was leading the recessional, which meant I could see nothing but pitch black and I also half saw the beautiful poi performance I was involved in. Led lights in the Minster?! Yes please!

One final thing I saw was a block of ice carved into the shape of Sonic the Hedgehog - brilliant!

♥ Whirring Cogs

I've been thinking a lot about health and fitness (you'll probably have guessed that from my blog posts recently) and also the things that I eat - I have a few exciting ideas for blog posts that I'll be bringing you over the next couple of months I imagine. I feel really strongly about keeping my body fit and healthy for lots of reasons - partially because it's my way of showing that I respect myself, partially because so many members of my family struggle with health issues and partially just because I actually quite enjoy it.

I've also been thinking about Christmas and all the plans and logistics for that. I'm preaching at my church on Christmas Day which is utterly terrifying - I probably haven't actually thought about that anywhere near as much as I should have!

Finally, I've been thinking how much I'd like to win the Superdrug competition that I'm a finalist in! There's only a week to go, and I know you're probably all fed up of me banging on about it, but I would really, really appreciate it if you could go here and vote for number 6. It takes literally 30 seconds and if you don't click the box for a newsletter, you get zero spam, as well :)

♥ Hidden Treasures

This week's hidden treasures are not really that hidden as most of them have more followers than me but nevermind:
♥ Ruth's Reflection because she's stunning
♥ Draw the Stars for pretty pictures
♥ Rachhloves for fitness and beauty inspiration

♥ The Path...

This week, I want to remember to keep the true meaning of Christmas at the heart of all my busyness and planning :)

♥ Respect Yourself

A new little section that I want to add is Respect Yourself - I think that eating healthily and exercising is a fabulous way of showing yourself some respect. It takes work and effort to make those choices, and everytime we do something that's good for our bodies, it's like giving ourselves a sign of love and respect.

A few people commented on my  30 Day Shred post and said that they felt it might be a bit too intense for them. I want to suggest that you start out with something gentle - something to ease your way into doing something good for your body. So here's my two suggestions:

♥ If you're really unfit, why do you start with something super simple like this Quick and Easy Yoga Routine by Rachhloves - it's less than 10 minutes and although it isn't quite as well talked through as a professional video, it's a great starting point.

♥ If you're a little more fit or you're a little less scared of working out (but you still don't feel ready to be shredding), I'd recommend either of these two videos AM and PM Yoga, a video I've used for years and I love (especially the AM part) or Yogalates - I love this boxset as it has something for every mood!

What have you been up to this week lovelies? xx

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Sunday, 12 December 2010

30 Day Shred

This is Jillian ... she's the woman who hates me and wants me dead my new best friend. I don't know about you, but I find that in the run up to Christmas I pile on the pounds, and as I've already been piling them on a fair bit over the last couple of months, I've decided to take action. I've scoured the net and seen so much hype about the 30 Day Shred that I thought I'd give it a go for myself - I'll be bringing you regular updates in my Monday Musings posts :) My first impressions (based on the one work out I've done today) is that this is no where near as terrifying as I first thought it would be! Yes it was tough, but it wasn't so bad that I wanted to die (although there is one point where Jillian suggests she'd like you feel like you're about to die... she's an odd woman). 

The basic premise behind the 30 Day Shred is that of interval training, and specifically a 3, 2, 1 system - 3 minutes of strength followed by 2 minutes of cardio and finally 1 minute of abs work and repeat. I personally enjoy this style of workout as it means you never quite reach the point of absolute death (also known as the point you give up and turn the tv off) and the excerises change quickly so you can con yourself into sticking with it a bit more easily.

Although I won't be bringing you my start and finish weight (I believe that scales are inherently evil and for me personally can become a point of obsession and very unhealthy habits), I will be bringing you some of my vital stats aka my measurements. One of the things I want is to tone my body more - I technically have no need to loose weigh as I know that I'm slap bang in the middle of the BMI scale for a healthy weight. The best way to measure this is through errrr measuring, so I've armed myself with a tape measure to share with you the whole currently dealio:
Arms: L=28cm R=26.5cm
Thighs: L=55cm R=55cm
Upper Waist:  77cm
Lower Waist: 88cm
Hips: 95cm

Have any of you Shredded? How did you find it? Do any of you want to join me in a 30 day shred kick?
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Saturday, 11 December 2010

Inspirational Interviews - All that Glitters and Sparkles

It's Saturday again, and that can mean only one thing - it's time for another Inspirational Interview. Today's interview is with the wonderful Jen from All that Glitters and Sparkles. Jen is the very first beauty blogger that I met in real life a couple of months ago when we went to a Cloud Nine Shoot. She is such a lovely, sweet person and I really would recommend reading her blog (especially if you like nail polish - this lady has a fab collection!)

Firstly, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I am 24, I live in Manchester and I'm a mum to an almost 3 year old who takes up lots of my time. I love makeup and have since being a young teenager, its only been in the past year that I've
started to be a lot more interested in it.
How long have you been blogging for and what inspired you to start a blog?

I've been blogging for just over a year now. Sam from Pixiwoo inspired me, I was a member on Makeup Advice Forum and I remember Sam being bored when she was pregnant and setting up the YouTube account so I subscribed and became addicted! I would sit and mess about with my make up all the time and I watched her videos to help me do my own wedding makeup. As I got really into it, I had nobody to talk to really about it so I decided to start a blog where I could post pictures and have a ramble about makeup. Even if nobody read my posts I felt better by writing down what I had discovered or done with my makeup that day.

What's the best and worst bit of being part of the beauty blogging community?

The best part is definitely the friends you make along the way. I've not been to many events, but the ones I've been to I've met some lovely bloggers and then there's the banter between everyone on Twitter which I always enjoy. Its a good tool for the blogging community. I don't really know what the worst part is, possibly nasty comments though I haven't had any myself, its not nice and completely unnecessary.

What's been the highlight of your life as a blogger?

Being an Aussie Angel! Well I was an Honorary Angel for most of this year and went to a couple of events and the girls at Aussie are really lovely and friendly. I became an actual Angel recently and even though I've missed out on the first two events I love it! Its a good way of meeting other bloggers and meeting the people behind the brand.

You post on quite a range of topics, but nails are the thing that seem to come up most! How many nail polishes do you own? What are your favourite brands/colours?

Yes, I find nail posts the easiest at the moment. Alice is nearly 3 and as she gets older she needs more of my time and attention so some days my makeup isn't worth talking about, or I forget to take a picture of it before it gets destroyed by paint, and yoghurt and other messy things! I think I possibly own about 80 nail polishes, which compared to some isn't a lot, however when I first started blogging I owned one nail polish and never painted my nails. Now I paint them every couple of days. I think Models Own are my favourite brand, I haven't used any high end polishes only OPI, Essie and Nails Inc. But Models Own apply beautifully and last really well, the best part is the are only £5. Before I discovered Models Own, I loved Barry M polishes, but some of them can be a bit hit and miss in consistency.

You've been blogging for well over a year now - what keeps you writing? Do you ever go through phases where it feels difficult or can you always find something to blog about?

I have phases like that quite a lot, being a full time mum means I don't have the money to be constantly buying new products to review or post about so this is why I turned to Nails. I can buy a new nail polish for £5 or less. I find it easier to do photo's of nails and I can sit and do them after Alice has gone to bed so I'm not worrying about playing with her or keeping her occupied. So I do find it hard to keep up with a lot of the blogs out there that post every day or a few times a week. Sometimes I'm really good and will schedule a few posts but its very rare! When I do get back into blogging and people read your posts and leave comments, I realise I should put more effort in. But then all good intentions go out of the window and its hard to find a good balance between being a blogger and being a mum.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Drinking wine! Haha no, I do like wine but I enjoy lots of things. I love spending time together on a weekend when my husband isn't working, we take Alice out and try and do something fun with her. I love shopping when I have the money, I used to love reading but again its one of them things I can never quite fit in.

What can readers of All that Glitters and Sparkles look forward to in the coming months?

Hopefully more posts, Alice goes to nursery in January and I'm hoping to go back to work (after not working for three years it will be a shock to the system!) so hopefully I'll have more money to buy nice new makeup and Alice will be tired out at nursery and go to bed earlier leaving me more time to write posts!

Ok time for some quick fire questions:

3 Favourite Items of Make up:
Urban Decay eyeshadows
Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection foundation
MAC blushers!

3 Favourite Foods:

3 Desert Island Items:
iPhone with an endless power supply
Wine - if I'm just going to be sat on an island all day I may aswell have some wine to hand.
Biscuits so I didn't have to eat fish (yuk!)

3 People who've inspired you:
This is hard...I'm struggling to think of 3 people!
My parents are the only ones I can think of.

3 blogs you'd like to recommend:
3 words of advice:
Always be truthful.

Jen, thanks so much for taking part in Inspirational Interviews. I hope that you manage to find some more time to blog soon and that you enjoy coming back into the scary world of work! Ladies, go show this girl some love :)
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Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Question - What do you do to stay fit and healthy?

Hello lovelies :)

Hope you're all having a Happy Wednesday - I'm on my 3rd sick day and I'm starting to go stir crazy! In all fairness, I tried to go to school today but the boy I support wasn't in so it made sense for me to come home and rest some more.

[image: google]

While I've been off, I've become really aware of the fact that I've got really unfit over the last couple of months - basically when I finished training for my 10k, I sort of lost all motivation and because the weather has been so bad I haven't cycled to work for a while as well. I also know that I'm a complete slacker with eating healthily - I just can't be bothered and I've found myself getting less and less motivated to eat healthily since I had to give up wheat and since I got married (my husband has Cystic Fibrosis so he's meant to have a third extra calories a day).

I really need to kick my butt into gear but I'm completely lacking motivation and inspiration.

I'd love to build a list with all our collective ideas for keeping ourselves in shade, so what I want to ask is what do you do to keep yourself fit and healthy? What motivates you and inspires you? Also, would you be interested in reading my ramblings about health and fitness as I try to gee myself up or would you rather I popped that up in a different place? xx
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Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer and Super Shiny Lipgloss Review

Hello lovelies :) Hope you're all managing to stay warm! Sorry for bringing you yet another review - I'd love to do some FOTD posts but to be honest, I look rank at the moment. Flu face is not what you want to be posting for the whole world to see, so you'll just have to hang on tight.

Today I'm reviewing you a couple of Burts Bees Lip bits. Although I've tried their normal lip balm before, I've never tried a Burts Bees coloured lip product, so I was excited to give these bits a try! Toda start with I'll show you the swatches - the gloss is on the left and the shimmer is on the right:

If you're wondering what the white bits are in the gloss swatch, just keep reading (although to be honest the answer is just "I have no idea")

Lip Shimmer in Caramel

Burt's Bees describe this as "A kiss of colour and pearlised shine" added to their normal lipbalm and I'd completely agree. this adds a lovely nude shimmer to the lips and, due to the peppermint oil, provides you with a slight plumping effect. I quite like it under a gloss for an extra dimension, or you could maybe get a bit cheeky and try it over a lipstick for extra shimmer and softness (or just on its own - it's pretty enough!). The only downside is that the peppermint effect is a little too over powering on really cold days and can sometimes make my lips a bit sore!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ and a half out of 5
Would I buy this again: Possibly - I'd definitely like to have a look at some of the other colours too!
£5.99 from Burt's Bees

Super Shiny Lip Gloss in Pucker Berry

Another nude colour - a little darker than I'd normally chose myself but a really beautiful colour. There's lots that I like about this gloss - it's not sticky, it has a fresh fruity smell, the colour is fab however.... it's errr, gritty. Well, not gritty exactly. It's just that there's these weird white balls in it. Look:

See the top of my lips? Those white bits that look like I've been eating a sugary doughnut ... well it's those. And I'm not the only one - Modesty Brown had this exact same experience :/ Saying that though, I've just had a look at a few other reviews and most of those don't seem to mention this so I'm wondering if it's maybe just a batch problem. Other than the gritty bits, it's a lovely product :)

♥ ♥ out of 5 
Would I buy it again? Maybe... it depends on if the gritty thing is meant to be there or not.
£7.99 from Burt's Bees

What do you think ladies? Have you tried these products before? What do you think of Burt's Bees stuff in general? Any ideas what on earth the white bits are?!

*Disclaimer* I was sent these products for review purposes.

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Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Review - Sleek Sparkle Palette

Regardless of the whole 50% sale debacle, Sleek are pretty awesome - their palettes are excellent quality and fantastically priced! During my blogging break, I completely lost touch with the world of beauty and therefore completely missed out on the Bad Girl palette. I was gutter. Hence I made sure that I raced to Superdrug on the first day that this beauty was released and I am so glad I did!

The thing that I love about this palette is that they haven't just gone for the obvious winter colours (icey blues and whites with maybe a hint of red, green and gold) but instead have gone for beautifully deep rich colours with plenty of sparkle.

One thing that I really love is that Sleek have finally started to name their colours - this makes a blogger's life so much easier! Just in case you're wondering, that whitey-grey colour on the end is called Tinsel :)

Aren't they beautiful?! Such bold colours with such a beautiful amount of sparkle. I adore them. The only colour I don't quite get is the yellow... I feel like a rich gold would maybe have fit the palette slightly better.

Finally, some swatches - sadly these are pretty shocking quality. We've not really had much sun so I've been shooting indoors and my camera hates low light conditions. Hence these are quite "noisey" - sorry.

Hopefully what you can see is that (as always) these colours are so richly pigmented and have a fabulous colour payoff. I'm really looking forward to having a bit more of a play with these and I'll try to bring you a FOTD with them soon!

You can get this palette for £5.99 from Superdrug or the Sleek website xx

What do you think of the Sparkle palette? Have you picked it up or are you a bit Sleek'd out?

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Monday, 6 December 2010

Monday Musings I

Hello lovelies and Happy Monday! If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that I'm full of flu at the moment and therefore not really sleeping that well either. And what do I do when I can't sleep? Think about my blog of course! The result? Monday Musings!

Every Monday, I'm going to be bringing you a round up of my thoughts from the previous week - posts I've done (Roundup), places I've been (Eye Eye), things I've thought (Whirring Cogs), blogs I've loved (Hidden Treasures), things to work on for the next week (The Path)... just a bit of a mishmash of things from inside my head!


On Monday, I brought you my top Christmas Gifts
On Tuesday, I asked you some Camera Questions and shared a little about the launch of Liz Earle Leeds
On Wednesday, I walked home in a blizzard and shared my Snowy Pictures
On Thursday, I received some hugely exciting news and discovered that I'm a Superdrug Britney Radiance Finalist and also shared my November Favourites and Winter Skin Saviours.
On Saturday, the gorgeous Sirvinya took part in my Inspirational Interview series.
On Sunday, I reviewed Elf's 32 Eyeshadow palette and also launched a thank you giveaway for reaching a whopping 250 followers!

Eye Eye

On Tuesday I had some time to kill before my poi rehearsal, so I took myself to the cinema to see Harry Potter - it was wonderful :)

Obviously this week I've seen lots of snow, with the prettiest place being the Old Village in Huntington where Peter's parents live - it was like the front of a Christmas card.

Other than that, it's been a quite week due to all the snow... I suppose one thing I can "see" now is our beautiful Christmas tree! It's so red and gold and sparkly and beautiful!

Whirring Cogs

I've been thinking a lot about my future and about what I want to be when I "grow up" (some would say that at nearly 24 I should already know but nevermind them!)... I have some interesting decisions to make and I'm sure I'll be bringing you more about those soon. One exciting piece of news is that I'm going to be supporting a girl with William's Syndrome in Reception a couple of afternoons a week from January - it'll be nice to have something to challenge me that isn't Leon!

I've also started thinking about my goals for the next year, which I always find exciting! I've already written my New Year Goals post - it's read and waiting for New Years Day! 

I suppose the other thing that's been really on my mind is Christmas - I love it! I can't stop thinking about presents and songs and films and Christmas dinner and all sorts of treats!

Hidden Treasures

I've found so many fantastic blogs that are true hidden (and some not so hidden) gems recently! I'll be bringing you a few each week to check out! This week, why don't you have a browse over:

Makeup Barbie for beautiful photography and fabulous step by step photo tutorials

A Perfect Lie for a delicious mishmash of beauty, fashion, book reviews and general thoughts. Love this blog!

Becky Blog for food, fitness, photos and a fantastic collection of lipglosses (serious, check back to some of her early posts - this girl has a collection to lust over!!)

The Path...

This week, I want to remember that I don't have to feel guilty for silly things like feeling ill or buying people presents. They're just normal things, that normal people do and there's nothing bad about them :)

I hope you've enjoyed this first Monday Musing - do tell me what you think! I'd love to hear some of your musings of the past week so feel free to leave me a comment :) xx

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Sunday, 5 December 2010

ELF 32 Piece Eyeshadow Palette Review

ELF 32 Piece Eyeshadow Palette

You may well remember that in my Christmas Gift post, I mentioned how much  I loved this 32 Piece Eyeshadow palette from ELF! Well finally I'm bringing you my little review. I picked up this palette a couple of weeks ago when ELF were offering it free with orders over £10, and I have to say I am so glad that I did!

I'd been looking at buying myself either this or the 100 piece palette to feed my ever growing ELF obsession (and my other ever growing palette obsession) so it was a massive bonus to be able to get it for free (in case you're wondering what else I picked up, I promise I'll be reviewing those too in the next couple of days so keep an eye open!). However, one thing I'd been worried about was that the quality of this palette wouldn't be great - I think I'd managed to convince myself it was a bit like those palettes that you find in really cheap dodgy makeup shops/market stalls. So, was I right?

ELF 32 Piece Eyeshadow Palette

Errrr, no! Of course I wasn't! If there's one thing I've learnt about ELF, it's that although their prices are tiny, it is very rare for them to compromise on quality. This palette is nicely made, and the shadows are smooth and creamy with good colour payoff. There's a fab range of finishes as well (which I hope you can see in the photo above) - shimmers, glitters and mattes. The thing that's really impressed me is that the glitters still have a good amount of pigmentation and aren't just chunks of silver to get stuck in your eye (I'm looking at you Urban Decay Midnight Cowboy!). This palette also has a wonderful (and more importantly), wearable range of colours with a good amount of neutrals, some gorgeous greens and blues, some very sultry colours for a fab smokey eye and a few brighter colours for a bit of excitement!

Of course all this chattering is well and good, but I know what you're all waiting for - swatches! First though, lets have a look at the colours a bit closure up in the pan:
ELF 32 Piece Eyeshadow Palette

ELF 32 Piece Eyeshadow Palette

ELF 32 Piece Eyeshadow Palette

ELF 32 Piece Eyeshadow Palette

ELF 32 Piece Eyeshadow Palette

ELF 32 Piece Eyeshadow Palette

Pretty huh? I have to say my favourites are all in the picture second from last - look at those pretty greens! Ooo and a gunmetal grey! Yummy :) Ok, I'll stop teasing you now - here's the swatches:
ELF 32 Piece Eyeshadow Palette swatches

This is the top two rows shot in natural daylight - hopefully you can see the range of tones, shades and finishes. :) So many of these shades remind me of the Urban Decay Naked Palette so if you missed out on that, or felt it was maybe a little too pricey, maybe this is the palette for you!

ELF 32 Piece Eyeshadow Palette  swatches

And finally, the bottom two rows, also shot in natural daylight. Love colours 1 and 3 on the second row - look how vibrant they are! Beautiful.

All in all, I would strongly recommend picking up this palette. As far as I know, they're limited edition for the Christmas season, so get it while you can! You can get it from the ELF website for a mere £9 (or maybe splash out and go for the 100 palette that I'm lusting over for a mere £15)

What do you think ladies? Have you got this palette? Will you be buying it before it's gone?

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