Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Beauty Without Cruelty - Heather Mist

I know I keep coming back to nail varnish on here at the minute but since I stopped biting away at my stubby little fingertips I just can't get enough of the stuff! I've never experienced what it's like to have long pretty looking nails before so I'm making the most of every second just in case my bad habit decides to kick in again.
My parents ever so kindly picked this up for me while they were enjoying themselves at the Edinburgh Festival last week as they stumbled upon a lovely little 'green' type shop selling all kinds of natural goodies. Knowing my stance on animal testing, they thoughtfully bought this Beauty Without Cruelty nail colour for me and I was so pleased when they gave it to me! I haven't got round to ordering myself anything from there yet so it was such a good surprise.
The colour itself is a really gorgeous pearly lilac shade and is something that I feel would suit everyone. It's great for everyday wear and certainly isn't too 'out there' or anything like that, yet still makes a lovely noticeable difference to the nails. The wear time I would say is average, I've had it on for four or five days now with a top coat and the chips are becoming significant enough for me to have to remove it, but I would say that's pretty reasonable for a nail polish.

The nail colours are priced at £7.99 which does seem pretty steep in my opinion, but if you have to pay a little bit more to get good quality products that aren't tested on animals then I am certainly more than happy to do that. I mean hey, I'd choose a clear conscience over pretty nails any day.. well, most days..  kidding!

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Saturday, 16 August 2014

Summer Reading: War Literature

I know what you might be thinking - wow what a jolly subject to be filling your mind with on your hols - but there's just something about war literature that I really, really appreciate. I studied it back in A Level English and instead of making me never ever want to read it again, the in-depth analysis and contemplation of the books we were studying really opened my mind to the topic in a way that probably wouldn't have happened otherwise. For example, Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks is a book that I will re-read again and again since being introduced to it in school.

I really wasn't sure about doing this post because to be perfectly honest I just didn't want to bore you to death, but after I sent out a tweet today asking for advice I got some really lovely feedback and decided to go ahead with it!

So, the first book I read was 'Life After Life' by Kate Atkinson.

Now this is my definition of a slow starter. To tell you the truth I almost gave up on it at one point but I am so glad I didn't. The book itself isn't all about war, but the topic features heavily with references of World War 1 to start with and then detailed experiences of life during the Second World War towards the middle and end.
The story focuses on the life of a girl called Ursula who you get to see snippets of all the way from birth to adulthood and finally old age, but what happens in between is what makes this fiction such great reading. The mystery of déjà vu is explored through Ursula's life as she finds herself re-experiencing familiar situations with different outcomes, and without giving too much away you get to see how certain small changes can elicit life changing repercussions. The relationship between Hitler and his companion Eva is explored through Ursula's friendship with Eva and this was certainly one of my favourite aspects of the book, it was just so strange to see Hitler being described in terms of a partner and lover but I really loved how Atkinson had done this.
The reason I say this is a slow starter is because the nature of the book means that you need a while to get familiar with characters and events - I did have to flick back a few times to check who was who and that kind of thing - but if you stick with it and don't mind that it jumps from different dates and revisits the past then the future and back again then I'm sure you'll soon fall in love with this creation. I certainly did!  
The next book that I read on holiday was 'The Auschwitz Violin', and if you couldn't already tell from the morbid cover, it isn't the happiest tale you will ever come across. In total contrast to the book above, this is perfect short reading and I managed to finish it in just a day (yes I was very proud of that), as Anglada's beautiful story is elegantly succinct. If you want to open your mind to the subject of life in a concentration camp without the disturbing gore or unthinkable abuse being the centrepiece of the reading then this is the book for you. The focus of the violin wonderfully connects the present to the past and takes you back to the life of a man whose days are spent in perpetual fear as he follows orders to create a violin while desperately trying to avoid the constant injustice of the camp he is trapped in.
Unlike many other books that explore the horrors of war life this won't leave you feeling uncomfortably disturbed or horrified as the gentle writing style conveys the emotions of the characters so delicately. In fact, you may even find yourself uplifted after you put this down as the partnerships and alliances that are explored in the concentration camp really are touching. If you feel like taking a bit of time to reflect on how lucky we are now and how thankful we should be that we don't have to live in fear like the poor souls in these despicable camps did then I really would recommend this, sometimes I think it's good to just think about those innocent people who suffered for nothing, it really does put things into perspective.
I really hope I haven't put a massive downer on your Saturday with this post but I do feel good about writing it, it's nice to talk about something a tad more substantial than nail polish for once! It was the 100th anniversary of entering WW1 at the start of this month as well so I think it's a good time for reflection on all that happened and all those brave people we should keep in our thoughts. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
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Thursday, 14 August 2014

GOSH Frosted Sand

I kindly received this as one of my birthday presents recently and it was one of those funny moments when someone knows you so well that they buy something you'd been eyeing up yourself. I was so drawn to the pastel green shade of this polish as well as the glittery texture and I just thought it seemed really interesting in general - definitely something I would love to have on my nails!
So how did it look on?

I have to admit that the picture of the frosted sand polish on my nails doesn't quite reflect reality and definitely doesn't do it justice - sometimes that just happens no matter how many angles or different lighting conditions you try! But for a more accurate view I've posted the picture above as I finally managed to capture all of the gorgeous little glitter particles in this.
I absolutely loved how this turned out on my nails and the pastel shade was so light that it seriously complemented the hint of tan I'd developed in France. It dried super quickly, probably due to the texture, and any smudges or slip ups are disguised by the gritty texture anyway - huge bonus! Now there is one slight downside.. I hate this part! But I couldn't help noticing how the nail varnish was either crumbling/flaking or chipping away. I easily fixed this with a quick touch up and also put it down to the fact that I'd not used a top coat, so I'll have to try it again and see if that makes a difference.
All in all I think this a lovely nail varnish and the beautiful pastelly green glitter totally wins me over! Not bad at all for £3.99. What do you think of GOSH nail polishes? This is my first!

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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Compassionate Cooking #8 - Ratatouille

I whipped up this ratatouille dish from some left over bits in the kitchen the other day and surprisingly it turned out really well! I have to admit that I was totally improvising as I went along so I do apologise if the instructions aren't spot on, but they worked pretty well for me. Here's what I used:
-1 aubergine
-1 big tomato
-1 red onion
-1 clove garlic
-2 red peppers
-Lots of salt and pepper
-A dash of red wine vinegar
-A cup of tomato passata
-2 cups water
-A generous splash of oil
Start by first dicing the vegetables then splash some oil into a pan and add everything bar the passata, water and vinegar. Heat in the pan for 5 mins. Boil the kettle, add half the cup of passata, a cup of hot water and put a lid on the pan for 10 minutes after stirring. Come back to the ratatouille and add the rest of the passata and another cup of water and keep simmering and stirring until the juices begin to dry and thicken up. Finally add some more salt and pepper before stirring and serving!
I love this quick recipe as a tasty and healthy side dish and will definitely be making it again sometime in future! Is it something you'd maybe consider trying?
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Sunday, 10 August 2014

Cardigans & Frizz!

Dress - Urban Outfitters // Cardigan - Topshop // Sandals - Toshop // Bag - Topshop
I feel like I haven't done an outfit post and properly shown my face on here in ages, so hi! I just threw this together before I popped out for a spot of shopping the other day, and although most of these clothes are really old it's one of the least slobby outfits I've worn in a while so for that reason I thought it deserved a place on here! It seems a bit silly posting about a floaty summer dress while the rain gushes outside but hey ho, it's always the way. I've already stocked up on a couple of autumn coats from the sales recently so I'm almost looking forward to having a reason to wear them... almost.
I do apologise for my frizzy mop but I'm trying really hard to embrace my natural curls at the minute because a) I want to stop damaging my hair so much and b) I'm too lazy to keep blow drying and straightening it every other day. Any tips for controlling curls are welcome - I really could use all the help I can get! I've used serums and mousses in the past but was considering trying a salt spray to de-frizz? What do you think?
Finally, the giveaway I've been running recently ended last night and the winner has just been announced on twitter. Thank you SO much to all who entered!
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Thursday, 7 August 2014

Barry M 'Birthday'

Barry M released this beauuutiful nail polish to celebrate Superdrug's 50th birthday earlier this year, but I only actually spotted it in store a couple of weeks ago - on my own birthday funnily enough! And if you can't treat yourself to wonderful unnecessaries on your birthday then when can you eh? Of course I had to have it.
Superdrug describe this as "bursting with minute pink and purple glitter particles in a variety of sizes so you can glisten from every angle" and glisten I did!
I love everything about this nail varnish, the bright pink and various shades of glitter make it so fun to wear and the formula is really good too. Altogether I used a base coat, two coats of this and finally a top coat because when it comes to glitter polish I like to use enough layers to that I can eventually peel the polish off instead of scrubbing away at my nails in vain. This might sound kinda gross but it always works well for me! Anyway, even with all of those layers on this lasted for days without chipping or peeling too soon and it almost felt sort of like a strong gel polish in comparison to regular nail varnish - I just loved it! 

I am so happy with my new Barry M addition and will definitely be popping this colour on whenever I need a bit of a mood boost - I think it's impossible to be in a grump when your nails looks like pink disco balls! Have you tried this glitter nail varnish yet? I'd love to hear what you make of it.

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Monday, 4 August 2014

Le chat dans le jardin...

Yep, still in France! You can thank google translator for the cheesy post title as my French has gone waaaay downhill since those lessons and exchanges back in school, but I do keep thinking about trying to re-learn it at some point! We recently moved from one gîte to another, and although this house isn't quite as pretty as the other, the gardens and (most importantly) furry little friends here are certainly making up for it.
Meet Victor.

He also has a gorgeous long haired sister called Tilly but she's a little shy so I haven't managed to get a snap of her yet. Being the cat crazy person that I am, I practically squealed with delight when we were greeted by Victor at this new place and we've been keeping occupied with regular visits from him ever since. Tom's parents ate salmon last night and as we expected he soon turned up to join us for his supper!
Cats are aplenty here and on our walk to visit the Catholic Church in the area we made a couple more feline friends. First there was this guy..
Looking rather... alarmed. And then there was this guy, who I've named 'happy cat'.
Clearly loving life! The Church itself was really pretty despite being a little eerie, and there were some lovely views along the way.
Apart from that walk we've mainly been sunbathing, reading and drinking loooots of wine (me) and beer (Tom).
But BEST of all, as I was mid typing this post Tom called me out into the garden as he had finally managed to spot one of the rarer visitors!

A wild tortoise! You all know how mad about animals I am, so imagine my delight when I saw this little fella strolling around.
Okay, I probably peed him off big time by giving him a little stroke but I just couldn't resist!  

This holiday has really opened my eyes to how much France has to offer, I'm absolutely loving chilling in the sunshine here and will be sad to head home on Wednesday, but I have my internship at PETA UK to look forward to when I get back so it's all good! Thanks for stopping by and reading, it means the world as always!

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