Bristolian Beauty Haul!

Today started really, really badly. As it’s the last day of 2013, and in many ways I’ve been very lucky this year, all of the remaining bad luck seemed to swoop in and violently attack me between 8.15 and 9.00 this morning. It was pretty intense. There was blood. And swearing.

The bad luck started when I left my boyfriend’s flat to give him a lift to work. On my way out to the car, I fell over after forgetting about a particularly devilish step. My ankle gave way and I went flying, grazing my hand and cutting my knee. Oops. I had been planning to go straight to the shopping centre after dropping my boyfriend off, but instead had to head back to the flat to clean up my bleeding knee and change my ravaged tights. I couldn’t exactly go out looking as if I’d been attacked by a feral dog, after all.

In the twenty minutes it took to sort myself out, I managed to get a parking ticket. There is free parking and there are no double yellow lines on the road outside the flat, so I thought I was ok. However, being a country bumpkin, I wasn’t aware that parking “in a special enforcement area adjacent to a dropped footway” would get me a £70 fine (£35 if I paid within two weeks). I didn’t even notice that the curb dropped in that area. If I had noticed, I still wouldn’t have known it was an offence, but would admittedly have moved the car to a more considerate position, so that wheelchair users and other folk could cross the road more easily. Ugh. Massive error.

The worst part is that if I hadn’t fallen over and cut my knee, I wouldn’t have had to go back to the flat in the first place. I would have gone shopping straight away, blissfully free of dropped pavements and sore knees. Woe.

Still, after a moment of dithery misery in the car, I knuckled down and drove to the shopping centre, to look for a duvet for Boyf, a new pair of tights, and a very indulgent way to spend the money my Grandparents gave me, with which I was to buy myself a Christmas gift. And, y’know, pay my sodding parking fine…

So here’s what I bought!

Boots:

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I got a £15 Boots voucher from my Auntie and Uncle for Christmas, so spent it on the Bourjois ‘Delice De Poudre’ Bronzer (£6.99) and a Real Techniques Blush Brush (£8.99). I’m a huge fan of these brushes, but didn’t own a decent blush brush until now, or indeed a proper Bronzer. Can’t wait to use both of them!

Debenhams:

After a long hunt in an unfamiliar city, I finally tracked down the Urban Decay counter in Bristol’s Debenhams, with the hope of picking up Naked Basics. Being small yet perfectly formed, I thought that Naked Basics would be the ideal palette to take on future trips to Bristol.

However, I got distracted. Across the shop, I spotted a beautiful Too Faced palette, which could also work for travel thanks to its flat shape. ‘A Few Of My Favourite Things’ contains 20 eyeshadow shades, both matte and sparkly, two bronzes, two blushes, a ‘Better than Sex’ mascara, a ‘Colour Bomb!’ lip tint in ‘Bee Sting’, and comes with a cute bag to hold the lot. Most importantly, today it was generously reduced from £48 to £32.16. Wooooow.

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I’ve never tried any Too Faced products before, so purchasing this palette marks a strong deviation from my unbreakable obsession with Urban Decay shadows. I went shopping looking for Naked Basics and a Benefit Box Set, and came home with this.

That is the nature of beauty obsession: random, unpredictable, extravagant. Above all else, though, indulging the obsession makes you feel much better after an extremely dodgy morning.

Happy New Year!

Effie xx

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The ‘What I Got For Christmas’ Post

I’ve been debating with myself about whether I should do this post or not. I absolutely love seeing other bloggers’ Christmas and Birthday hauls, because I’m super nosy and love to covet other people’s gifts as well as my own!

However, I have been very spoilt this Christmas, and was a bit concerned that if I posted pictures of a massive pile of gifts, then I might come across as a bit…well…wanky. Is there another word for it? Probably.

Still, eventually, I decided to do the post anyway, especially after a couple of requests. As beauty bloggers and fans, we’re always talking about expensive products and recent hauls, and, really, we’re quite a forgiving community. We all like to turn a blind eye to our own and each other’s spending habits, covetousness, nosiness, and spoilt-ness. It’s part of who we are. Well, a little part of it, at least.

And either way, our community thrives on our spoiling both ourselves and others, because that way, we get to talk about and share opinions on some of the world’s finest, smelliest, prettiest products. If it brings us together, being wanky can only be a good thing, I feel. So that’s why I’m posting this. Because being wanky is good.

Phew. Sorry about the philosophising. Here, as promised, is what I got for Christmas…

From Mum and Dad:

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Having run out of my Lancome cleansing milk and toner, I asked for the Clarins equivalent for Christmas. Well, actually, Mum and I were in House of Fraser, and I asked for Clarins after I saw that they had a free-gift-with-purchase deal on. The items which came in the free gift are in the bottom right corner of the picture. Thanks Mama :) I also got that little eyeshadow quad from Clarins, which unexpectedly came in a beautiful little red velvet bag. Unexpected festive luxury!

Mum and Dad also got me some anti fog things for my car, because it’s ten years old now, and always fogs up on the inside. Sometimes it even freezes on the inside of the windscreen, which is not ideal! Hopefully these will help!

They also got me a dress from Phase Eight (which I chose myself because it was in the sale and down to £39), a gorgeous Christmas jumper from F&F at Tesco, and a skirt from M&S for work. It is very likely that I won’t fit into them in a month’s time though, as I got so much chocolate that I couldn’t fit it all into the photograph. Oops.

Oh, they also bought me this beautiful lavender-scented hand soap from L’Occitane. I forgot to photograph this with the other presents, as it’s already taken pride of place in the bathroom. I love it!20131227-213849.jpg

From My Boyfriend:

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My Boyfriend and I always set budgets for Christmas and birthdays. Some of our friends see this method as a bit mercenary, as if we’re saying “I want £50 worth of stuff”, but really it saves any awkwardness which may occur if one of us spends more than the other. As always, I was very spoilt by my Boyf as well, and thrilled with everything he got me. Well, apart from the cress, but that was a joke present!

He started a new “thing” last year of having a calendar printed for me as a gift, with pictures of us and our friends for every month. I wasn’t expecting one this year until I felt the shape and weight of the present, but after that I knew it had become a tradition! He says it’s a bit soppy, but I love it, and can’t wait to crack it open on the 1st of January!

Other presents which were right up my street included Miley‘s album (I have no taste and he knows it), Despicable Me 2 stickers (I am childish and he knows it), and a cuddly, lavender-scented spaniel, which you can heat up in the microwave (I get cold easily and he knows it). I’ve never watched Suits before, but we’re always on the lookout for new box sets to watch together, so I’m really excited to give this one a try. He also bought me a Pina Colada-scented shower butter from Bomb Cosmetics, but once again I forgot to photograph it with the other things, as it’s already taken pride of place in the shower.

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Smelly shower prezzies from my sister and boyf

From My Sister:

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Aggie and I always go a bit mad at Christmas. While I bought her a Boots Beauty Advent Calendar and many other presents, she made me a “pass the parcel” advent calendar (I had to unwrap a layer every day), full of sweet things, nail polishes, mini body lotions and lip balms, and outdid herself on the big day, too. I’ve included most of the advent calendar presents here, excluding the card making stickers and things, which are in my craft box.

Beauty buys from Aggie include Benefit’s “They’re Real” mascara, Barry M Nail Polish, Lush’s Snow Fairy Massage Bar (which smells nowhere near as overpowering as it did in the shop – delicious!), Lush’s “Whooosh” shower jelly, and a Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Lip Balm. I’m really excited to review all of them for you!

She also bought me a Deathly Hallows necklace (which was day 24 in the advent calendar), some leggings, lots of chocolate, an adorable little contact lens case which will protect them from getting damaged in my handbag, and Gossip Girl Season 2. It’s so funny watching Gossip Girl again, when you know who Gossip Girl is! I’m already addicted.

So, that’s what I got for Christmas. I’ve been very fortunate this year, both in terms of presents, and in being able to see my extended family so close to Christmas Day. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas too, and best wishes for the New Year!

Festive love,

Effie xx

Review: Sanctuary Spa Crème Soufflé

Hi guys. It’s review time again.

As my family know me very well, I received a lot of beauty and pampering products for Christmas! Aside from being incredibly covet-worthy and absolutely gorgeous, these products will also make for brilliant blog fodder. Or, at least, that’s what I’m hoping.

So, today I’ll be reviewing Sanctuary Spa’s delicious Crème Soufflé. According to the tub, this magical mixture consists of “air-filled bubbles of deliciously whipped moisture, burst with mango, jojoba & red seaweed for perfectly silken skin.” Though this blurb doesn’t absolutely make sense, the product does indeed do what it says on the tin. Or, y’know, tub.

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Mmm, look at that fluffy deliciousness…

So, here comes the review!

Pros:

  • Soaks in wonderfully quickly. It’s very cold in my house, so I like to get dressed immediately after I moisturise. Usually this leaves me feeling a bit sticky under my clothes, but this product soaks in so quickly that the sticky sensation is not an issue. A rare find in that respect!
  • Tested my skin yesterday evening, after a morning application, and it still felt beautifully moisturised. Lasts all day, even if you’ve been walking in the cold winter air.
  • Bubbles make a satisfying sound when you scoop out the product from the jar.
  • Comes in a massive tub. Which is never a bad thing. 475ml of soufflé? Yes please.
  • Ingredients: this stuff is paraben free and against animal testing, which is always good news. But it also contains handy things like jojoba oil, red seaweed, vitamin E, and mango extract. Very nice.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t really smell of much. This isn’t exactly a criticism, as it still smells beautifully luxurious and fresh, and just as a body cream should. However, as a Lush devotee, I do like things to have a more distinctive scent, or perhaps just a less subtle scent at times. This one vaguely hints at orange peel, but it does smell incredibly classy all the same.

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Verdict: I really, really like this. The smell is classy but very subtle, so it won’t interrupt any perfume I’m wearing, the formula is super moisturising, and, most importantly, it soaks into the skin incredibly well.

I think that last point is the clincher for me. It’s not every day that you find a moisturiser which really works all day long, and which doesn’t leave you feeling sticky after use. Big thumbs up from me. Thank you Mum and Dad!

In terms of purchasing this in the future, the price isn’t entirely unreasonable. It’s £10.50 for a big tub, which seems rather pricey, until you consider that 100ml only costs £2.21. That’s quite good, really. Will I repurchase? Quite possibly.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and can’t wait to see you review and enjoy all of your presents!

Christmas Love,

Effie xx

Festive Antics

Hello everybody! I’m sorry I haven’t spoken to you for a couple of days.

To give you a perspective on how busy I’ve been, a dear friend of mine recently announced on Facebook that over the next two weeks, she would be spending the festive period in London, Manchester, and Suffolk. On Saturday, I replied that, by the end of the day, I would have been in all of those places in the space of 12 hours. Ah, train travel!

On Friday, it was my last day of work before a lovely two-week break. Hurrah! We went out for a lovely Christmassy lunch, exchanged Secret Santa presents, and sang along to the radio a lot. We worked hard, too. Obvs.

My Secret Santa gave me this lovely lavender-scented “hottie” owl.20131224-000502.jpg

I’m always cold at work, and when it’s particularly chilly, I head into the office wearing a jumper which my housemates gave me for my birthday last year. It looks like this:

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My boss always comments on it, she finds it very cute and festive. So no doubt my owl-themed Secret Santa came from her! From now on, every time I’m cold in the office, I can pop my owl in the microwave and warm up nicely. Very cute.

After that, I was home alone for the evening, as my parents were heading up to Manchester to see the family and pick up my sister from Birmingham on the way. (She studies Biomedical Science at Aston University). I would have used the alone time for blogging, but I started to feel a bit ill, and then convinced myself that I was going to be sick. I’m phobic about being sick, so can really wind myself up. I was feeling very nauseous and shaking with anxiety within minutes, so I crawled into bed, terrified, and went to sleep! At 7.30pm. There was nothing wrong with me, I just panicked. Fail.

Still, the next morning, I got up early to begin my busy weekend. I decided to try out my Green People eyeliner, which I got from the You Beauty Advent Calendar. It’s in “city grey”, if you’re curious, and ended up looking like this:

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I then got on the train from Suffolk and headed down to Colchester for a hair appointment. I got my roots done for Christmas, and the hairdresser put a toner on my hair, which really woke up the colour and made it look lovely. If you live in the Essex area, go to Divas! They’re brilliant in there, and great fun. I forgot to get an “after” picture though, sorry!

After my appointment, I rushed to the station to catch a train down to London. Bizarrely, if you want to go North from where I live, it’s actually much quicker to head Southwards to London and go back up again. Strange but true.

By 6pm, I had been in Suffolk, Colchester, and London, and was sitting on another train after a brief stint on the tube (ugh), ready to go to Manchester and join the family. Needless to say, when I eventually arrived, I was pretty tired!

The next day, which was Sunday, I woke up at my cousins’ house in Manchester, to be told that the whole family would be coming over for Christmas lunch. Dad and I set off in the car to pick up my Grandma and Grandpa, and the rest of the family helped with the cooking. Once everybody had arrived, we all sat down to a delicious Christmas lunch, complete with turkey, roast potatoes, sprouts, red cabbage, carrots, bacon, beef, gravy – the works!

Because we don’t come up to Manchester for Christmas Day, we rarely get to sit down to Christmas dinner as a big family, all together. It was a real pleasure to have a would-be Christmas dinner with my aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins, especially so close to the real big day! I hope we can do that again next year, because it was brilliant.

As is traditional, somebody got a camera out after dinner. Below is a photo of me, my sister, and four of our six cousins. Unfortunately it’s only a flattering shot of my sister. But family photos are always a bit dodgy!

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L-R: Effie (22), my sister Maddie (20), cousin Harry (13), cousin Sofi (21) and cousin Lily (19), and finally the youngest cousin, Charlie (10).

Shortly after this photo was taken, we sadly had to hit the road again. It takes four and a half hours to get home from Manchester, and that’s on a good run. On the way home, however, we stopped off to see some old family friends, who live in Staffordshire.

It was amazing to see them as well, as they essentially are our family, too. They have two boys who are the same age as Mads and I, and we used to go on holiday with them every year when we were kids. We had a few glasses of wine (Dad not included, as he was driving) and a nice catch up, before heading off again.

By the time we got home, we were all shattered. Still, I don’t know about the others, but I really felt like we had “done the rounds” seeing family and friends so close to Christmas, and it gave me a nice contented feeling. Though we won’t see any of them on Christmas Day, we caught up shortly beforehand, and as Christmas is a time for family and friends, it seemed very apt!

So, to conclude, it was a very busy, but very cosy weekend.

I hope you’re all enjoying the company of your families and friends during the festive season, and if you haven’t got home yet, I wish you the best of luck when it comes to travel!

Cosy Christmas Cheer,

Effie xx