December Birchbox

It took it’s sweet time, but when it finally arrived, my December Birchbox was a very welcome treat.


The Hound just isn’t sure if any of these products are right for him…

It even came with a Smokey Eye Masterclass, which explained to me how to apply my new eyeliner in order to look like I’d slept in it (according to the picture). Let’s discuss: eslor-firmingcollagendaycream_1 Eslor Firming Collagen Day Cream (normally £50)
What: Give skin a plumping boost with this ultra hydrating lotion infused with Hydrolyzed Marine Collagen
Thoughts: This is quite thick and gloopy, so I was worried it would be a disaster on my oily skin, but it’s actually much better than the oily skin Garnier moisturiser I have been using for years. Not too oil inducing on the t zone, and great on that weird flaky bit of skin between my eyebrows. I’m not sure if I see a plumping boost, but I like none the less.
Would I buy: I was planning to, but while writing this I’ve discovered that a full size pot costs £50, so no. I don’t want to spend £50 on something which I’ll have to replace in three months (ok, one year, I’m forgetful with skincare).
electric-hair-h-1-shampooElectric Hair Electric Hydrate Shampoo (normally £17.50)
What: Help to repair the damage and improve shine with this nourishing, moisture-rich formula
Thoughts: While I didn’t see any improvement in the state of my split ends, this was a nice shampoo which left my hair feeling clean and shiny. I didn’t need to wash it for three days, which was a result!
Would I buy: Yes, I think I might. 
eyeko_fateyesticktrio_900x900Eyeko Smoke Fat Eye Stick (normally £8)
What: Your smoky eye just got as easy as 1-2-3 with this pigmented jumbo pencil
Thoughts: I think the one included in my box is full sized, and as such, I assume the packaging is the same as if I’d paid for it. If this
is the case, then I’d be really disappointed, because the lid just does not stay on. Unfortunately, the product also doesn’t stay on – I inspected the damage in the office loos at lunchtime, and there was nothing left. 
Would I buy: Nope. It really didn’t work for me.
benefit_highbeam_900x900Benefit High Beam (normally £19.50)
What: A suits all skintones liquid illuminator. Paint a small amount onto cheekbones, then blend, blend, blend!
Thoughts: Wow! A Benefit product I don’t already own! I wasn’t sure I understood the point of this, but when I tried it I felt very pretty – it really highlighted my cheekbones and brows.
Would I buy: Potentially. As with all Benefit stuff, it’s quite pricey, and it’s not something I could be bothered to put on every day – I have a 25 minute window in the morning from getting out of bed to sprinting to the station, so full makeup is unusual. I shall save my tester for special 
occasions! modelsown-velvetgoth-sardonyx_1Models Own Sardonyx Nail Polish (normally £5)
What: Matte, yet sparkly, this multi-dimensional shade has a velvety finish that we’re obsessed with
Thoughts: A pretty red sparkly nail varnish. I applied two coats, because there weren’t enough sparkles with my first application. It’s stood up very well to a week on my toes. It is a little weird to have matte nails – the sparkles make it ok, but plain matte nails make me feel a bit weird. I like the velvety lid very much.
Would I buy: I would, but since I don’t think I’ve ever finished a nail varnish, I don’t need to buy this one! I might think about getting one of the other colours, as they’re all quite ‘me’.
unnamed_39_English Laundry Signature for Her (normally £60)
What: A scent inspired by an English country garden – rose geranium and white flowers with hints of chocolate and jasmine
Thoughts: I often find that perfumes don’t last that long on me, so a tester is a nice way to er… test. I’m normally more of a fruity scent person, but as floral scents go, this is a nice one, with a hint of fruit and an absence of old-lady-wee. The scent lasted for a couple of hours, which is alright by my standards. Am I imagining that perfumes last all day on other people? Does everyone else just rush around reapplying stuff all the time? Am I the worst girl ever? Is it true that putting some vaseline on your wrists first make scents last longer? So many questions!
Would I buy: I am very tempted by this. I’ve recently cleared out a lot of my perfumes because they were so old and starting to smell of pure alcohol, so I think this could find a spot on my shelf. 
coin-purseSophia Webster Purse (normally £25 according to the leaflet, but £10 on the site)
What: Take a walk on the wild side with this leopard print pouch from the coveted designer and our Birchbox collaborator!
Thoughts: It’s just a free purse thing, like you get with a magazine sometimes, nothing to get excited about. It smells of plastic, but is quite cute. I was planning to wedge the Eyeko eye stick in there to keep its stupid lid on, but since I’m going to donate the stick to someone else, I’m currently just using it to store random things I find in my handbag.
Would I buy: No. Her shoes are cute though.

Sewing for the Home (aka Boring Sewing)

IMG_2498I don’t have much time to sew anymore, which makes me sad. It’s nice to earn money doing a job which I enjoy, but I would like to do more sewing. In order to break the monotony of my ongoing wardrobe architecture, and my new interest, reviewing Birchboxes, I thought I’d show you a bit of home sewing I’d been getting on with while ignoring the curtain fabric sitting in the corner.

During the Christmas break I managed to rearrange our bedroom so that my desk is in the brightest corner instead of the darkest, and make myself some fabric coasters. They’ve got wadding in the middle, so they’re quite absorbent, which is good when you’re as clumsy as me. They’re made from a duvet cover which I got from Primark last year. I really loved the birds on bikes print, but I haven’t found any use for it until now – I’d thought about a dress, but it’s not very soft.

We thought they went so well with our new sofa that I spent a couple of hours this weekend knocking up some cushions in the same fabric. The other side of the duvet cover was white with grey print, and I decided to use that for the back of the cushions, partly for contrast, and partly so I might have enough of the grey left over for a skirt.

November Birchbox

Do you ever get stuck in a beauty product rut? Back in November, I did, so I decided to sign up for Birchbox. For £12.95 per month, you receive five beauty samples each month, and you can cancel at any time. It’s cheaper if you sign up for six months or a year, but a monthly payment with no commitment was exactly what I wanted, just in case I turned out to be rubbish at all this ‘looking my best’ nonsense.

Just a note:  this is not a sponsored post, I’m just really excited about trying new things!

You can fill in a beauty profile – hair type, skin tone, what type of products do you want to try (I’ve asked for extra organic stuff) – and they try to personalise your box based on that. Your products come in a nice reusable card box, which I’m currently using to store the beauty products I don’t use.

The wobbly Russian lady is delighted with her beauty products!

The wobbly Russian lady is delighted with her beauty products!

I wanted to review the boxes I’ve received, partly for my own records of what I might like to buy more of, and partly because it might be useful for other people.

Moaning first: I find the delivery service they use quite irritating. They had my December box in the warehouse for about two weeks before I complained and it miraculously arrived the next day – not really sure my complaint did anything, but it was still a long delay, and the delivery company never bothered to reply to my email. From a purely selfish point of view, I wish they’d use Royal Mail because, if I miss a delivery, the sorting office is right by the train station so I could collect it on my way home. I missed one delivery from this company and the guy left my parcel under a pile of leaves by my front door – entertaining, but not exactly secure, and I feel like he might have been mocking my poor gardening/housekeeping skills.

The theme for November was Cosy at Home, which to me means no makeup, but not to the Birchbox folk. See – I’m learning already! There were five beauty products, plus one lifestyle supplement, which I won’t review because I gave it to my mum.

rdb-04Révérence de Bastien Nail Polish No. 10 (normally £16) – Full size!
What: A premium lacquer that’s packed with pigment for a luxe finish, and is free from an array of chemical nasties.
Thoughts: I only applied one coat, because I am lazy. It dries the same colour as it looks in the bottle, and I imagine that two layers would give a nice rich colour – it’s a bit see through with one layer. I’ve had it on my toes for two weeks, and it’s a bit chipped, but not as bad as a lot of nail varnishes I own. I’m not very inspired by the packaging, which is a bit dated, and the lid feels cheap (as it’s full size, I assume the real product is the same), but I like that it’s a bit natural (I am uncertain how natural exactly).
The colour I received doesn’t seem to be available on the Birchbox site, so I’m just linking to everything that is.
Would I buy: Honestly? No. I wouldn’t pay £16 for nail varnish. Besides, this one will probably last me for years.

bp-mask-eshop_1_Beauty Protector Protect & Treat Hair Mask (normally £16)
What: Rejuvenate and protect your hair with this luxurious mask packed with argan oil, honey, amber and crushed pearls (yes, really!).
Thoughts: This smells amazing, and I think my hair looks nicer than usual after using it. I got two little pots and gave one to my brother’s girlfriend (who is really into beauty stuff) in her Christmas stocking, so this one has been a big old win.
Would I buy: I’m not sure I’m a hair mask person. I didn’t really know what to do with myself while I waited in my freezing cold bathroom for 10 minutes while it worked its magic. Still, I’ve got loads left in the tester pot, so it might win me round.

l_b-bronzer-siennaLord & Berry Mini Bronzer, Sienna (normally £19)
What: Super fine, matte bronzing pigments create a healthy glow for a burst of radiance (without the tell-tale shimmer!).
Thoughts: Confession time – I don’t know the difference between bronzer and blusher. I normally use Dallas by Benefit, which is the latter, apparently. I apply them in the same way, so I guess that’s fine. This is quite sparkly, so I don’t know what they mean about no tell tale shimmer. At first I didn’t think it looked that good with my skin tone, but I’ve got used to it now, and I really like it.
Would I buy: Dallas is £23.50 per pot, which horrified me when I just looked it up, but I get through about one every two years, so I suppose I can live with that. This is £19 for the same amount (12g), so it’s a bit cheaper, and the packaging is nice and smart (my sample is just in a little plasticky pod thing, sadly), so I might switch allegiances. 

pixi_sheabutterlipbalm_coralcrush_900x900Pixi by Petra Shea Butter Lip Balm (normally £8) – Full size!
What: A full size nourishing lip balm packed with Shea butter – plus a hint of colour
Thoughts: This is nice! I liked the colour, which was subtle enough that I didn’t manage to smear it all over my face, but bright enough to make me look like I wasn’t dead. It’s pretty moisturising, and God knows I love lip balm.
Would I buy: Yes, I think I would. It bridges the gap between lip balm and Clinique chubby sticks. Since I hate Clinique and blame them for everything that is wrong and weird about my skin (clarifying lotion of maximum burn, I’m looking at you), I would be very happy to stop buying chubby sticks.

10145874Dr Jart + Pore Refine Recover Primer (normally £18) – Full size!
What: Treat, heal and conceal with this mattifying primer that minimises imperfections for a flawless make-up base
Thoughts: I’ve been using Benefit POREfessional for ages, and I like it a lot. This is a bit different as I think it’s more about treating the problem, while providing some level of coverage for your saucer pores. This definitely leaves my skin less greasy at the end of 
the day (possibly less greasy than wearing no make-up at all). If you’re not putting anything on top of it, then I’d go for the POREfessional, since it has a bit of colour to it, but if you add on some extra makeup layers, then this really starts to impress with a silky smooth looking finish.
Would I buy: OUT OF THE WAY DR OETKER, IT’S YOUR PIZZAS THAT CAUSED THIS PROBLEM! DR JART IS MY NEW GP!!! Yes, yes I would. The bottle is massive, so I think it’s really good value. I’d also like to try the other products in the range. 

Wardrobe Architect #5, #6 & #7: My Colour Story, Palette and Patterns

waheaderI’ve decided to do these three weeks as one, because I’m impatient and I haven’t been super specific in terms of the shades of colours I wear. As such, there aren’t that many colours in my palette so it would be super boring for both me and you if I were to then go and organise them into neutrals and statement colours.

I wasn’t really looking forward to this exercise, because I didn’t see any real theme in the colours I wore, but actually it was really helpful! I think these colours could be roughly described as jewel tones. They’re big, deep, bright and vibrant. I’m probably calling some of these colours by completely the wrong names, but if the point of this is that I have a clear idea in my head of the colours I should buy, and these names are how I think of these colours, then I’m cool with that. Also, the colours below aren’t exactly how I picture them, because I’m easily distracted and quickly got bored with creating my palette. Sorry, not sorry. Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 18.18.13 Purple feels like a really natural colour for me to wear, and I rarely feel uncomfortable in it.
Bright yellow is a colour that a lot of people seem to shy away from wearing, but I find it so cheerful. Ben really likes me in yellow, too, which is always nice.
Fuchsia is a colour I go through phases of loving and hating, but we’re on at the moment.
Teal/turquoise is another colour I like, but hadn’t really considered that much. I have a snood, a top and my Miette. I’d be open to trying new shades of green. Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 18.12.52 I own a royal blue jacket that I love, but I can’t imagine wearing much in this shade. It was the colour of my school uniform, and too much of it would still feel uniformish to me.
Maroon is one of my favourite colours to wear, and I think it’s one of the colours that suits me the best.
Orange is not very common in my wardrobe, but I absolutely love my orange dress, and my 70s tunic features some orange, so maybe I should wear it more! Actually, wait a minute, I own an orange suit. Yeah, plenty of orange going on here!
Mustard isn’t necessarily one of my favourite colours (perhaps because I hate eating it?), but I think it really suits me. I’m coming round to it a bit more, although it is currently mostly seen in the jumper section of my wardrobe. Maybe if I think of it as gold? Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 18.10.34 And finally, neutrals (and red). Maybe I should have put maroon down here instead of red. WhatEVER – I don’t live by your rules…

Black is my classic go to for a neutral. I wear black tshirts and blouses with bright colours,  but I don’t think I ever wear entirely black outfits.
Red is my favourite colour, but I can find it a little overwhelming. I own a bright red suede coat which I’m ashamed to say has never left the house. I need to rectify that.
Grey is another neutral which I like. I wouldn’t wear it on its own, but paired with something bright, it’s great.
Navy Blue isn’t a colour I’d thought much about, but it’s all over my wardrobe. I guess this goes into the sort-of neutral category for me.

In terms of pattern, I like it. I think I prefer a large pattern to a small one, but I don’t think I’m super fussy about what the pattern actually is. I don’t like polka dots, but more abstract spots are ok. I don’t like small chintzy patterns, but larger florals are fine. I don’t like anything too twee, but some novelty prints are too adorable to leave on the shelf.

I’ve got quite a good mix of solids and patterns in my wardrobe, so as long as I’m able to mix it up a little and have a bit of both in an outfit, then I think that’s fine. I don’t think I wear outfits made up of more than one pattern, but I do wear outfits in more than one solid colour. I think maintaining the current level of solid vs pattern would be good, and while I should be mindful about choosing prints I actually want to wear, I’m reluctant to narrow myself down in terms of pattern within this exercise – as long as they’re in my preferred colours, and I like them, then that’s good enough for me.

So there we have it. My palette. I think I like it a lot.