Sunday, 31 March 2013

Morning Skincare Products

Three products. 'Is that all?' I hear you say. Yep. In the mornings I don't like to spend ages overloading my face with numerous lotions and potions. This is partly down to my love of hitting the snooze button, and partly down to me simply not finding it necessary. 

I'm very very lucky to not have problematic skin - obviously I get the odd breakout or two but, in general, my skin and I get on pretty well. For that reason, I like to use a few products that cover the essentials and that I know work for me, my skin and my lifestyle. 

I don't tend to switch things up too much (as they say - if it ain't broke, don't fix it), so I thought I would do a quick post on the products I've been using and loving for most of the last year.

Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic

After I've whipped a face wipe over my face, I reach for this toner. I just put a couple of drops on a cotton pad and my skin is prepped for moisturising. I love the fresh fragrance and lightweight consistency - it sinks in really quickly and makes me instantly feel more awake.

Origins GinZing Eye Cream

Next, I use my Origins Eye Cream. This is just the perfect cream for daytime - not only is it light and moisturising, but it also has light-reflecting elements that help to brighten the under eye area. 

Simple Kind to Skin Hydrating Light Moisturiser

Finally, I apply a small amount of this moisturiser all over my face. I've tried many moisturisers now, but always seem to return to this. It sinks in quickly and completely so I can apply my makeup straight away, and leaves my skin feeling soft and hydrated for the whole day. The best part is that it's under £4!

I take things up a notch in the evening - make sure you come back soon for my mini reviews on the products I use then!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Making of Harry Potter - Studio Tour

To start off my Easter bank holiday weekend, I visited the Harry Potter studio tour in Leavesden with my brother.

At 24 and 21 years old, we grew up with the books and then the films, so had been wanting to visit the tour since it opened. And it definitely didn't disappoint!

It's a tad on the pricey side, but I really think its worth it - not only do you get to see many of the original sets, costumes, props, models etc, but you really get a sense of the sheer scale of the production and the huge number of people involved in making the films!

If you're a Harry Potter fan and looking for a fun day out, this is really worth checking out. Here are a few pictures of our time there to whet your appetites.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Artwork of the Week #2

It was proclaimed last week that this portrait of Rembrandt is actually by the artist himself. Great news for the National Trust!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Easter Cupcakes

I know it isn't Easter for another week but I was in the mood to bake and couldn't resist the Mini Eggs in the supermarket...

Hope you're all having a lovely Sunday! 

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Barocci: Brilliance and Grace Exhibition

Never heard of the artist Federico Barocci? Don't worry, neither had I until the National Gallery in London launched its current exhibition, 'Barocci: Brilliance and Grace'. 

I visited the exhibition last night after reading some rave reviews and I am so glad I did. Crikey, this guy had some talent. The exhibition showcases several of Barocci's impressive altarpieces but for me, and I think most other visitors, the highlights are without a doubt his preparatory drawings. Not only are these drawings beautiful artworks in their own right and executed to a standard many other artists reserve for the final piece, but they also reveal so much about the artist's thought and technical processes. The National Gallery aids this brilliantly, especially in the large, long room of the exhibition, where they placed several of the drawings on a display stand along the centre of the room, so that the viewer can stand in one place facing both preparatory sketch and finished painting and simply tilt their head down or up slightly to take in each version. 

I've always felt that this type of exhibition - containing works designed for religious contemplation - sits well in the darker spaces of the Sainsbury Wing and this one is no exception. The fact that Barocci is relatively unknown also meant that the exhibition was in no way crowded when I was there. Together, these qualities made for a very relaxed, contemplative viewing experience. Even the accompanying video (which I usually hate) is well-made and adds an extra informative dimension to the exhibition as a whole. 

If you're in London or are able to make the trip, I encourage you to give this show a visit. It's on until the 19th May

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Davina McCall - My Fitness Queen

Davina McCall Fitness DVDs

Now, I'm in no way a fitness-fanatic or health-freak, but I do try and eat well and work out on a (semi) regular basis. On the exercise side of things, for the last few years I've relied pretty much completely on fitness DVDs - I've never really been able to commit to going to the gym, and I just don't find running etc very fun.

There are hundreds of fitness DVDs on the market now, but my series of choice has always been Davina McCall's. She works closely with a husband and wife team - Jackie and Mark - and, together, they have made (correct me if I'm wrong!) 8 'normal' DVDs so far plus 1 for pregnancy. I've given them all a go and think they're all great in their own right.

Of course, 'celebrity' fitness DVDs aren't going to be for everyone. I am definitely guilty of avoiding some, mostly because I didn't feel like the person believed in what they were selling. But, for me, Davina is the real deal. She's been making these DVDs for nearly a decade and she looks just as incredible now as she did when she started. She really practices what she preaches and for some reason that really spurs me on.

I'm going to do more in-depth reviews on my top 5 Davina DVDs (including the newest, Davina Intense) but, in the meantime, if you like Davina and are looking for new and fun ways to get fit, definitely check these out (Amazon do some great deals on the box sets!).

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Dreaming of Summer...

A hot cup/bowl of coffee is definitely needed when you work in a building site, it's -1 outside and the power keeps turning on and off causing your electric heater to go a bit crazy.

Artwork of the Week #1

William Holman Hunt, English, 1827-1905. The Lady of Shalott, c. 1890-1905. Oil on canvas. The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund, 1961.470.

I recently saw this work in person at the Tate's exhibition 'Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde' and it completely took my breath away. This is a perfect example of where a digital version of a painting just doesn't compare to the real thing, but even here I think it is completely beautiful.

To find out more about the painting visit The Wadsworth Atheneneum's website here.

Monday, 18 March 2013

The Culture Show: Your Paintings - A Pretty Good Watch!

Recently, I've read a lot online about the issue of connoisseurship in art history and whether or not it is an important tool today. The debate has been a pretty lively one so I was keen to watch the BBC's Culture Show Special (link here) based on the Your Paintings Project (impressively, it has just finished making images and information for over 210,000 works in our national collections available online). It demonstrates quite clearly (to me anyway) what supporters of the discipline have been going on about. 

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Home sweet home

I've come home to visit the fam this weekend. One of the best parts so far has been saying hello to this little cutie:

Thursday, 14 March 2013

My Everyday Makeup Products

Here's a brief look at the products I'm using on my face pretty much every day at the moment. I'm a BIG lover of sleep but I also like to feel like I've made a bit of effort before facing the world each morning - these products don't take an age to apply and give the impression that I'm much more bright-eyed and with-it than I generally feel at 7am!  

- Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua in B10

- Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection Concealer in Fair 1

- Maybelline Dream Lumitouch Concealer

- Sleek Contour Kit in Light

- Benefit CORALista sample

- Rimmel Stay Matte Powder in 001 Transparent

- Urban Decay Original Primer Potion

- Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette

- Rimmel Scandaleyes in 005 Nude

- L'oreal Super Liner Carbon Gloss in Carbon Black

- YSL Effet Faux Cils Mascara in Noir Radical

- MAC Omega Eyeshadow (for brows)

I don't tend to wear lipsticks on a work day (too much faff for my liking really) but I make a bit of lip-effort on a night out. I also usually upgrade my basics palette to the Naked or Naked 2 when I'm after a more made-up, shimmer-ful look. 


Addicted to...


Every so often I go through periods of eBay obsession. Right now is one of those times.

I've found that I gravitate towards eBay for several different reasons, but each of them fall under my main motivator which is, of course, saving some pennies. 

Reason 1. I've seen an item on a friend/on a youtuber/on a blog/on a random person on the street and have just HAD TO HAVE IT. 

Exhibit A: H&M Flocked Black Jeans
Saw them on a friend but they were no longer available online *ARRGH*

RRP: £14.99, eBay bargain: £5

Reason 2. I have worn an item of clothing to death, to the point that it is no longer acceptable to wear outside on account of the number of holes it has. 

Exhibit B: Topshop Black Baxter Jeans
I live in black jeans during the winter but Topshop no longer stock my staple Baxter jeans in their Petite section (thanks Topshop)

RRP: (used to be) £40, eBay bargain: £5.99

Reason 3. I really wanted a 'popular' item of clothing but just couldn't justify the hefty price tag when it first came out.

Exhibit C: Topshop Geek T-Shirt

RRP: £18, eBay bargain: £9.50

Reason 4. I want to try a high-end beauty product that I'm pretty sure I'll like but don't want to splash out until I'm sure. 

Exhibit D: Benefit CORALista Blush Sample
Yes, you don't get the pretty packaging but at this price I'm not sure I'm bothered.

RRP: £23.50 for 8g (or £2.94 per gram), eBay bargain: £3.29 for 3g (or £1.10 per gram)

Granted, it does take a bit of leg-work to sift through everything, I have felt close to having several mild heart attacks whilst waiting for the end of auctions, and you won't be successful every time. But(!) I have found some really wonderful things on this website and know I'll continue to hunt down bargains on it for a long time to come!

PS. I should mention that, while I have been very lucky with the buyers I have dealt with and the products I've received, there are some dodgy folk out there who will try to sell you dodgy things. It pays to take the time to read the item description thoroughly and check out the feedback a buyer has received before placing a bid. 

Monday, 11 March 2013

Hello little blog.

So, after a couple of years of oo-ing, aah-ing and um-ing whilst reading other people's blogs, I've finally given in and decided to give it a go myself!

So far, so good.