Don’t Tell Anybody Guys, But I’m Santa…

Just a quick one today girlies!

Firstly I’d like to tell you that today’s You Beauty Advent Calendar window yielded a mascara from Model Co. I am yet to establish how good or bad this mascara is.

Still, it’s always exciting to try a new mascara. I’m incredibly picky about this stuff, and have only found one or two mazzies that I’ve really liked in the past, which means that I am very reluctant to part with money and try new things where my lashes are concerned. I’m also not sure that I like using the term “mazzies”. Anyway, when a new mascara comes as part of an advent calendar, it feels as if I’m not parting with the £10 retail price of this Model Co offering. So that’s a plus! I’ll let you know how it goes…

Secondly, I thought I’d show you what I bought as a Secret Santa present for my boss this year, as it is both beauty-related AND festive! Hooray!

Our limit was £10, and I hope that if you’re struggling for Secret Santa or other gifts, this might provide you with some last minute inspiration.

The main part of the present was this little 3-in-1 “Purity” cleanser from Philosophy, which I bought at Boots. It was £9 so ate up most of my budget, but it came in such adorable bauble packaging that I had to get it!

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I also picked up this little wash mitt for a pound in Primark. It seemed rather apt.

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Cute, huh? Hopefully it goes down well. Even if it doesn’t, I am the SECRET Santa, so I won’t get the blame. Clever!

Has your workplace or form at school done Secret Santa this year? What have you bought and received? I’d love to know!

Christmas Cheer,

Effie xx

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The Last Few Days of The You Beauty Advent Calendar

Hello all!

Apologies for the slight delay in posting. This time, I decided to test out some of the products before I posted about them, and give you some little “first impression” reviews.

It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I spent the weekend in Bristol with my Boyfriend, and have been lying horizontally on the sofa eating mince pies since I got home again. Nothing at all. Ahem.

Photo taken from BBC Good Food

Photo taken from BBC Good Food

Since the 13th Day of Christmas, I have found the following products behind the windows of my You Beauty Advent Calendar:

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Day 13: Dermalogica UltraCalming(TM) Starter Set

Day 14: Green People Anti-Age Eyeliner, in “City Grey”

Day 15: BioEffect EGF Serum

Day 16: Dr. Organic Dead Sea Mineral Eye Rescue Rollerball

Day 17: DHC Deep Cleansing Oil

Day 18: Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips (Yes, nipple)

I’m afraid I haven’t yet tried the Dermalogica set, as it contains a face masque, so I’ll be saving my starter set for a masque-worthy occasion. However, I have given all the others a whirl, and you can read my verdicts below!

The Good Guy:20131218-203820.jpg

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This eyeliner comes from Green People, who like to think of themselves as offering “organic lifestyle” products. 100% natural, and free from nasties like parabens, alcohol, sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate, and many others, this good guy eyeliner is not tested on animals, and contains lovely things like Vitamin E, Shea Butter, and Jojoba Oil. Mmmm!

When I swatched this on my wrist, it definitely felt smoother and silkier than any eyeliner pencil I’ve ever tried, which is perhaps thanks to the shea butter mentioned earlier. If you’ve tried Rimmel’s Soft Kohl, times that softness by a lot, and you get this.

Colour wise, the pigment is good, and comes out a lovely charcoal grey, which is great for creating softer, wintry looks. As proven by the deliberate smudge on the corner of the little heart I drew, it also blends well if you want to create a smoky eye.

I’m wary about its staying power, but am very excited by the quality and lovely ingredients of this liner!

The Slow Burner: 

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As a 15ml bottle of this stuff retails at £125.00, I was expecting more of a “wow” factor. Having tried serums before and noticed a difference within a couple of days, this appears to be a slow burner. There’s nothing wrong with that, but at this price tag, you have to wonder. However, it does say on the product’s website that you should notice effects within a few weeks. I’m not sure the bottle will last that long, but that’s quite encouraging.

Still, I am yet to be wowed. Apart from by the price tag. Will update after a few weeks of use!

The Instant Pick-Me Up:

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Being a big old cynic, I was quite judgemental about poor Doctor Organic. The packaging looked a bit cheap, and the list of ingredients was, to say the least, quite random.

Whilst this product does include some nice-sounding things, such as dead sea mineral salt, aloe vera leaf juice, and orange fruit oil, it also contains pine needle oil, which sounds pointy, bladderwrack extract, which sounds positively medieval, and perhaps most oddly, brewers’ yeast. As in, the stuff they put in beer. And make bread rise with. Hmm.

To my surprise, however, it worked instantly! The rollerball felt lovely and cool on my skin, and though I’ve been liberally applying Clinique “All About Eyes” to my sore, puffy lids for ages, this is the only thing that’s successfully brought them down.

I haven’t noticed a huge difference with the under-eye dark circles, but the massaging action of the rollerball really sorts out any puffiness instantly. I would definitely repurchase, and at £8.99 a pop, it’s not too much of a wrench for my wallet, either!

The Surprising One:

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Usually, anything for the face with “deep” and “oil” in the title gives me the shivers. I’m all for deep relaxation oils in the bath, but with such oily skin, I was frankly a bit scared by the prospect of using this product to cleanse.

HOWEVER. They do say fight fire with fire. And many, indeed, say fight oil with oil, too. So I gave it a go today.

I won’t lie to you – while I was massaging it into my dry skin, as instructed on the bottle, I hated it. It just felt wrong, like rubbing extra virgin olive oil onto my face. The sensation of adding oil to an already oily face was just horrible. Still, I persevered, massaging and cringing, and rinsed it off with warm water.

And actually, the effects were lovely. It successfully removed all of my face makeup, and when I did the acid test with toner and a cotton bud, there was nothing left on my face: though I’d avoided the eyes as instructed, the rest of my makeup was gone.

My skin also felt – and still feels, a few hours later – clean and soft, without feeling parched, as it usually does with a cleansing wash. I’ve had no rush of oil to make up for the washing, so perhaps, actually, this “fight oil with oil” thing might be worth subscribing to. That is, if I can get over the sensation of rubbing oil into my face. Bleurgh.

As a 30ml bottle only costs £4.50, this might actually be worth a repurchase. Getting over the initial horror may take time, but the results seem very positive at the moment!

…Nipple Balm?!

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I’ll admit it. I laughed.

Apparently, this is an “ultra-hydrating SOS balm and long lasting moisturising lip-gloss. 100% natural, hypoallergenic, tasteless and odourless. Rich and ultra effective.”

Once you’ve got over the giggles, this is actually really good stuff. Whenever I apply lipgloss, I compulsively smoosh my lips together and it’s gone within half an hour. This stuff, by contrast, is much more durable, and lasted much longer on my lips, moisturising and making them feel super soft and silky.

The product has a waxy sort of consistency, which makes it quite thick and matte when you apply it (although it is colourless). Still, you can massage it in relatively easily, and, as stated on the packet, it is rich and very effective.

I suppose we have women with sore nips to thank for this product. While it’s an unusual and giggle-worthy point of inspiration for beauty ideas, it’s clearly an effective one. Well done Dr Lipp!

So that’s it! Hopefully I’ll be a bit more organised with my posts tomorrow.

Have you tried any of these products? If you’ve got oily skin, what do you think of the “fight oil with oil” idea? I’d love to hear your views!

Christmas love,

Effie xx

My ‘Travelling Light’ Wishlist

When I was at university and I would sleep at my boyfriend’s house occasionally, I used to take an entire rucksack over every evening. It was always packed with the next day’s clothes, the books I needed to study in the evening, and all of the products I would need to take off my makeup, cleanse, tone, and moisturise, and reapply my makeup the next day. Hey, I wasn’t going to let my skincare regime slip, just because I was sleeping in a house full of smelly boys! The problem was, all of my products were full-sized.

Today, when I remember the things I would cart over there, it seems ridiculous that I would take such big bottles for one night at a time. I wasn’t going to leave stuff at his, because I didn’t want to have to purchase two of every product. But surely, there had to be a more space-efficient way of practising my beauty obsession whilst away from home?

Well, I hope so. As I’m visiting my boyfriend in Bristol this weekend, I’ve tried to travel a bit lighter this time. Starting with taking these little shampoo and conditioner sachets instead of full-sized bottles, I’ve developed a new philosophy when it comes to packing. I’ve still got a massive bag this weekend, but maybe in the future, this new ideology may help me out!

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My hairdresser kindly gave me these shampoo and conditioner sachets as freebies last time I was in the salon. They’re perfect for travelling light. EDIT: THESE ARE NOT CONDOMS.

In this post, I’ve decided to make a wishlist of all the products which may help me on my quest for practicality. Generally speaking, travelling light is not an art for the beauty-obsessed contact lens-wearer (they require a big bottle of saline and another of cleaning fluid), but hey, hopefully some of these products could one day help me to have a go!

1. Benefit ‘Primping With The Stars’ Kit – £26.50

Benefit Primping With THe Stars

Contains ‘They’re Real’ Mascara, Benetint Cheek and Lip Tint, Stay Don’t Stray Primer, Some Kind-a Gorgeous Foundation, Girl Meets Pearl Liquid Pearl for Face, The POREfessinal pore minimising balm. 

Why I Like It: Most palettes only contain eyeshadows, or only offer blushers, or contain products for eyes, but not any lipstick or cheek colour. This Benefit box covers every base, and in a sturdy, compact box too. If that foundation worked for my skin (it’s a bit oily for me), this kit would be so handy.

2. Bobbi Brown ‘Everyday Pretty’ Lip and Eye Palette – £24.00

bobbi brown everyday pretty lip and eye palette

Why I Like It: The three shades on the right are the sorts of colours which are the most used and abused in my poor, battered Urban Decay palette. With a highlight shade, a crease shade, and a liner shade, this trio is ideal, comes in a tiny, tough little box, and has the added benefit of handy lip colours, too!

3. Urban Decay ‘Naked Basics’ – £20.00

nakedbasics

Why I Like It: These are very similar to the shades I use the most in my ‘Naked’ palette. Why cart the whole thing around, when you can have a mini version?

4. Sleek Blush in ‘Rose Gold’ – £4.49

sleekblush

Why I Like It: Finally! Something I already own! This little blush is just what it says on the tin: sleek! The compact is very slimline and narrow – I’d say it’s only about 5cm long – making it perfect for travel, provided it doesn’t shatter.

5. Collection ‘Lasting Perfection’ Concealer

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Why I Like It: This is a cult product with a high-street price and a diddy little bottle. Ideal.

6. Travalo – Refillable Perfume Bottle Atomiser – £11.99

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Why I Like It: My Boyfriend loves it when I wear my Coco Mademoiselle perfume, so I always like to take it with me when I visit. Trouble is, the bottle is huge, and very fragile. Some clever sausage has invented Travalo, and I’m really hoping I get one for Christmas.

It looks so easy to use, too – you just remove the spray nozzle from your perfume bottle, place the Travalo on the stem, and pump it a few times to fill it up. It holds 5ml, which is plenty for a weekend away.

7. Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner – £10.00

Eyeko

Why I Like It: Well, for a full review, check out some of my earlier posts. For travelling light, it’s called “skinny” for a reason – it’s a very skinny pen! Also ideal.

8. Clinique 3-Step Introduction Kit – £20.00

clinique 3 step

Contains: Dramatically Different Moisturising Gel 30ml, Liquid Facial Soap 50ml, Clarifying Lotion 100ml. 

Why I Like It: I use this moisturiser on a daily basis, so it would be brilliant to have a teeny tiny cleanser and toner as well as a mini-favourite moisturiser to accompany me on trips.

9. LUSH Tea Tree Water Toner 100g – £3.95

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Why I Like It: I did a review of this product not long ago, and now cart the 250g version everywhere. It would now seem more sensible to have got the 100g version. Oops.

10. LUSH ‘It’s Raining Men’ Shower Gel 100g – £4.50

itsrainingmen

Why I Like It: My Boyfriend bought me this for my birthday in October. I’ve almost used it up now, but I love the honey smell SO much and it comes in a really handy little bottle. Will almost definitely repurchase this as a travelling light option!

Are you an expert at light travel? What are your products or brands of choice?

I’d love some help in this department!

Effie xx

How To Store Obsession: An Attempt

As we all know, one of the many problems associated with beauty obsession is storage.

Samples and freebies can be picked up anywhere, and although we can’t bear to throw them away, we also want to keep them beautifully arranged and well-organised. Hence: dilemma.

Very often, our makeup drawers are as cluttered as our brains feel when we walk into Boots and there’s a sale on. I assume you know what I mean here. It’s not pretty.

Over the last few months, however, I have made a few half-arsed attempts to organise myself. One day, my makeup storage will look like Tanya Burr‘s beauty closet, all Jo Malone boxes and stunning uniformity.

Today, however, it starts with this:20131210-211253.jpg

This is my dressing table. It used to be my Mum’s and it’s covered in stains from my contact lens fluid (oops), but I like it!

I keep the makeup I use every day in the drawer on the right, my brushes in the pot on top, and my pills (thyroxine etc) in the little box next to the photo frame.

That box is quite special, as it once contained the chocolate frog which I bought from the Harry Potter Studio Tour! I wanted to keep the box as it’s a souvenir in itself, but I didn’t want to just squash it in a drawer, so I’m glad I’ve found a use for it!

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Here’s a closer look at what’s on top of my desk. I’ve had both the glass and the pot since primary school – I bought the pot at a Christmas fair, and the glass was painted for me by a friend. I use it to store my bracelets that I wear on an everyday basis. Behind the little bear, you can just see my Jo Malone Orange Blossom perfume, which I like to wear to work.

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Here’s the inside of my top drawer. I tried to separate the makeup into “types”, as illustrated below:

Top Left: Liners and Shadow; Second Left: Mascaras (and tweezers!); Third Left: Base (foundations, powders, concealers); Fourth Left (Slotted In): Urban Decay Naked; Fifth Left: Compact Thingies (bronzers, blushers, powders).

Top Right: Skincare; Second Right: Lips; Third Right (Just Seen): Cotton Bud Pot containing current nail colours; Underneath: Uncategorised Mess.

This categorisation makes it a lot easier to find things when my brain isn’t working in the morning, and it also saves me from having one big pile of products in my drawer, which used to swish around like flotsam in a rather unsatisfactory way.

I pulled out the separators I used just to show you as well. They vary from the incredibly sophisticated and chic to the absolutely, and literally, rubbish.

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Sophisticated and chic: A Jo Malone Candle Box (I also used the lid to hold my lipsticks & glosses), a Jo Malone Perfume Box, and the box which contained my glasses case when I got a new pair from Specsavers.

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Literal Rubbish (But nonetheless useful): An Asda ice cream tub. Classy bird, me.

Moving on from makeup, I like to keep hair products on my desk, as shown below.

I have just realised that it’s probably quite dangerous to keep aerosols near a naked flame, so will probably move them away from my candles in future. Safety first, girlies.

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Finally, my out of season makeup (ie darker summer foundation), contact lens stuff, and products which I don’t use every day but can’t bring myself to throw out, all live under my desk in the Big Pink Beauty Box. Mmm, sounds intimidating.

I bought this box in The Range for cheapsies. It has come in very handy over the years, particularly when transporting my massive stash to and from university. You never know when sparkly green glitter liner is going to come in handy. 20131210-211236.jpg

I’m glad Jacquelyn at the Little Scottish Corner asked me to do this post, because it gave me an excuse to actually organise this box. So now everything is in bags within the box, rather than just floating in a big mess. Hooray! Thank you!

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So that’s it! My attempt at organised storage. With the exclusion of shampoo, which is all in the shower, ready for people to trip over. He. He. He.

How do you organise your obsession? Do you have a big beauty box lurking under your furniture? Let me know in the comments below!

Effie xx

The ‘Get To Know Me’ Tag

Brilliant Brittany the Beauty Deputy has kindly suggested that I have a go at the ‘Get to Know Me’ Tag!

I really enjoyed reading Brittany’s answers, so hopefully I can make something equally entertaining happen with my attempt! Magically. Or something.

On with the questions!

1. Is your hair naturally curly or straight?

It’s very straight – so is my sister’s. We sort of missed out on the whole ghds thing as a result!

An old friend (left) and I, aged 10. We were suuuuper cool. And my hair is still that straight!

An old friend (left) and I (right), aged 10. We were suuuuper cool, trying to do “gangsta” hand gestures. My hair is still that straight!

2. Do you dye it yourself or go to a salon?

I go to a salon, which I love, but it’s very expensive. Therefore guilt. I’m just too scared to try to dye it myself! Especially considering how dark it was before – it took a long time for it to get this blonde!

Exhibiting my natural colour on a night out with the Boyf, 2011

Exhibiting my natural colour on a night out with the Boyf, in November 2011

At a friend's 21st in November 2012

At my friend Sarah’s (left, looking gorgeous!) 21st in November 2012. I started dyeing my hair in the Summer.

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Blondey blondey in December 2013. Although with a bit of rootage coming through. Sorry.

3. Do you wear the same style everyday, or do you change it?

I tend to wear it down most of the time, although I tried out a quiff ponytail for summer ball at university. I’ve only got one decent picture of it, but I have my tongue out and it’s green. So that’s not getting posted unless you ask for it!

4. Do you do your own mani/pedi or go to a salon?

Umm…I paint my own toenails? I bite my fingernails so they’re too shameful to take to a salon!

5. How often do you change your nail polish?

I rarely paint my nails, but my toes are always polished. I change colours every month or so.

6. Do you polish your toes in the winter or just the summer?

All the time. I don’t really like my feet (they’re quite big – size 7 and very wide!) so I like to have a little bit of prettiness going on there!

7. How long does it take for you to put on makeup?

About half an hour, although I give myself longer if it’s for a night out.

8. What do you do first? Face or eyes?

Face. It’s more difficult!

Eyes only require a quick slick of this stuff!

Eyes only require a quick slick of this stuff!

9. Do you collect makeup or just buy what you need when you need it?

I tend to buy makeup only when I need it, but I make sure there’s a “free gift” offer on before I make the purchase. I have a habit of collecting free gifts and trying out new products that way.

10. How often do you wear false eyelashes?

I’ve only worn them a couple of times, with varying levels of success. They look great when I first put them on, but then start falling off halfway through the night, which makes me look completely insane.

I take eyelash glue with me when I go out, but it’s not that effective unless you want to reapply the rest of your makeup too.

11. Do you do a full face of makeup everyday?

For work, yes. I always have either spots or hyperpigmentation to cover up with foundation, and because I wear glasses for work, I like to enhance my eyes behind them with eye makeup. Might as well go the whole hog after that!

I also wear a full face if I’m going out shopping or adventuring, but not if I’m just off to the supermarket.

12. Do you wear makeup when you’re home alone or with family?

Very rarely. Unless I’m playing around with something I’ve just bought!

13. Will you leave the house without makeup?

Yes. I do often, although if I’ve got a huge spot (or five) I sometimes whack on a bit of concealer before I go.

14. How many high-end products do you have?

Too many. I’m such a victim of luxury marketing.

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My makeup drawer. Scary.

15. Do you plan your OOTD every night or decide when you’re getting dressed?

If I’m going away, I plan OOTDs for each day, that way I don’t take too many or too few clothes. More generally, I sometimes I plan the night before if I know I’m going to be in a rush the next day, but not usually.

16. How often do you change your handbag?

Whenever it breaks! I always overload them, use them constantly for a year or two, and then they break because I’ve stuffed too much cr*p in them. That’s why I could never have a designer handbag!

17. What time do you wake up and go to sleep?

I wake up at 7.15am for work (unless I hit the snooze button…several times…) but it’s more like 11am at weekends. I like to have 10-12 hours’ sleep if I can! But usually get 7-8 on weeknights.

18. How often or when do you workout?

Not often enough. I need to start before I get fat.

19. Left handed or right handed?

Right handed.

20. How tall are you?

5’7″. That awkward height between “regular” and “tall” trousers!

21. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I did French at A-Level so am fairly good at that, and I also pick up odd words and phrases from other languages.

My favourite foreign word is “Fussgangerzone!” Which means “pedestrian zone” in German. Also meerschweinchen (sp?), which means guinea pig. We went to Hannover Zoo in Germany when we were staying with our friend once, and it was great learning all the animal names!

bootsfahrt flusspferde

Then you get loads from films, like saying hello and goodbye in Russian (Anastasia), various bits of Spanish from things like Modern Family…oh, and I can say “hello, my name is Effie” in Japanese :D and cat in Cantonese. Useful.

22. How many pets do you have?

None :( I love playing with dogs but my Dad and I are both allergic. I hope to get a hypoallergenic dog one day.

This is my Boyfriend's dog, Charlie, who lives with his parents. I was there the day they got him, and he was so cute! Obviously he's much bigger than in this photo now!

This is my Boyfriend’s dog, Charlie, who lives with his parents. I was there the day they got him, and he was so cute! Obviously he’s much bigger than in this photo now!

23. How do you blog?

I like to sift through my beauty collection, or buy something new, take photos at the weekend, and then write about it while using the product. I like to have the smells and the feelings right in front of me when I speak about things.

24. Do you read comments posted on blogs?

Of course!

25. Do you keep a list of products to try as you see other posts?

Mentally, perhaps. I never buy products that I haven’t heard of before – I always like to try things or read reviews before I buy.

That said...this is totally on my imaginary list.

That said…this is totally on my imaginary list…

26. How did you come up with your blog name?

It’s my name so um…you’ll have to ask my parents!

Of course, I can tell you how I got the nickname “Effie”. My full name is obviously Stephanie, but when I was about 9 years old I played a silly game with family friends and my sister. For whatever reason, we all took the first letters off our names, to make them start with a vowel. My sister Maddie became “Addie” (although I now call her Aggie more often!), Nick became “Ick”, Christ became “Is”, and Frankie, Alissa, and Greg became “Ankie, Issa, Egg.” I got Effie (from Stephie, which is what they used to call me) and it stuck!

27. What kind of camera do you use for your photographs?

I like to use the one on my iPad (2) as it is really good at close focus, so takes very detailed photos. My phone camera just isn’t usable! Do not get an HTC Desire C if you want to take photographs!

28. How often do you clean your house?

Mum and Dad have a cleaner, so now that I’m living back home again, I do more tidying than actual cleaning.

When I was at University I cleaned every other week, although we did bits of the kitchen more often. I have to vacuum a lot, as I have a dust mite allergy, so I can’t breathe if it gets too dusty! The first thing on my “moving out” wishlist is a Dyson!

29. What’s your favourite colour?

It was always purple for a long time, but I think I like red the best now. It’s so much fun to wear!

Posing before Summer Ball in June

Posing before Summer Ball in June

30. Do you swear?

Yes. But not in front of people I’ve just met or in polite company! I can control myself quite happily.

31. What are you doing with the rest of your day?

This post will be up on Friday, so I’ll be in Bristol! I’m going down to visit my Boyfriend this weekend, and we’re also going out for a drink with a friend from university on Friday night. I’m so excited! He’s only just moved there so we’ll be doing lots of exploring, but also having a nice chill in his flat. Hooraaay!

I Tag:

Love Lush Australia – http://lovelushaustralia.wordpress.com

Izzie – http://izziekiki.wordpress.com

Meghan – http://meghansmusthaves.wordpress.com

I’ve only tagged a couple of people as I don’t want to double-tag, but if you want to have a go at the Get to Know Me Tag, I’d love to see what you write!

Drop me a comment if you do!

Effie xx