Looking Back at 2013 & 10 Things I Learnt This Year

Tuesday, 31 December 2013
2013 has been a bit of a strange year for me. Whilst it hasn't been the worst year, it's not been the best either. Although I feel like I haven't really achieved much, when I look back on the things I've done, it seems I actually have. I spent 2013 doing fun things like spending a month in London interning at Marie Claire, going to York for me and my boyfriend's anniversary, getting into running and taking part in The Zest Challenge and The Race for Life, going on holiday to Turkey which involved lots of windsurfing, kayaking and even scuba diving, spending my birthday at Alton Towers and even trying my hand at skiing more recently (which was totally awesome).

Although I don't feel like I've progressed much from where I was last year, when I look at all the new things I've learnt and skills I've acquired I've done pretty well. As well as all those fun things, I do feel like I've put a lot more effort into my blog, as well as making more YouTube videos, and even reaching 5,000 subscribers, which is a big achievement for me.

On the 1st January last year, I wrote this post, outlining my resolutions for the new year. I definitely think I've achieved the blogging more often one - I've tried my best to blog most days and although sometimes I find it difficult, I've tried my best throughout the year. I've also properly ventured into the world of YouTube which is a big thing for me. In terms of saving money, I have definitely got a little better. Buying this book has helped a lot, and made me much more aware of how much money I spend on unnecessary things. Although I think I still give in and splurge a little more often than I should, any improvement is something. In terms of my resolution to get healthy, it's a bit of a mixed bag really. Whilst I put my all into running and having a healthy diet, and actually lost a bit of weight, I quickly put it back on once my holiday came and I gave up on running AND dieting. The recent festivities haven't helped much either, but I'm hoping things will change dramatically in 2014!

Tomorrow I'll be blogging some resolutions for 2014, but for now I thought I'd leave you with a few things I learnt this year...

1. Putting things off is never a good idea. Do it now or you might never get it done.
2. Don't feel disheartened if you don't succeed at something straight away. Determination will get you everywhere.
3. Drinking an entire bottle of wine before you even venture out can only ever end in disaster.
4. When wearing red lipstick, always line your lips beforehand. It'll get messy otherwise.
5. Don't set yourself unattainable goals. Any improvement is an achievement.
6. Taking the time to invest in a proper skincare routine really does pay off.
7. Leaving things until the very last minute never ends well.
8. When it comes to painting your nails, it really is all in the prep.
9. Remember that nobody has everything all together, even if they look like they do.
10. It's okay to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them.

What did you learn in 2013? Was it a good year for you?

NYE Clutch Bag Essentials

Monday, 30 December 2013

So, Christmas is well and truly over-and-done-with (sob), but that doesn't mean that the party season ends here. Tomorrow night sees us play host to the ultimate night of the year - New Year's Eve. Whilst I'm not the biggest fan of New Year (I think it's often a bit of a let down, and totally hyped up beyond belief), if you're a big fan of going out then it's probably your favourite night of the year, and requires a lot of prep and pampering beforehand. 

The one thing that I always seem to stress about before a big night out is making sure I have all of the essentials in my bag. Clutch bags seem to be getting smaller and smaller these days, which doesn't bode well when you're a beauty lover like me, who likes to be well prepped for a night out with a good bundle of beauty products on hand, to keep me looking fresh and fabulous as the night progresses. So, to save any pre-NYE stresses you might have, I thought I'd put together a little selection of my New Year's Eve Clutch Bag Essentials, to use as a checklist when filling your bag up tomorrow night. 

On the top of my going-out-bag essentials list has got to be powder. Having oily skin, powder is always firmly tucked in my makeup bag, ready for touch-ups, so on a night out when I want to be looking my very best, it's definitely a given. I've chosen Benefit's new POREfessional: Agent Zero Shine* as my powder of choice for a NYE night out because it's ideal for popping in your bag. It's great as it's so compact, there is no chance of powder smashing everywhere, plus it comes with a nifty little brush built-in. 

I also like to keep a couple of concealers or foundation handy for those dreaded moments when your foundation starts coming off, a spot appears or the fact that it is way past your usual bedtime starts to hit, eye bags aplenty. For spots or patchy makeup, I think a big pan stick foundation like Benefit's Play Stick is ideal to quickly swipe over the areas needing extra coverage, without having to worry about liquid foundation flying everywhere. For under the eyes, I swear by YSL's Touche Eclat*, which is honestly the best under-eye concealer I've ever used and a total saviour for when you're starting to look (and feel) a little sleepy. 

It's always good to keep a mascara on hand to keep those lashes looking lush, and my mascara of choice is always Benefit's They're Real*. False lashes are also a must for NYE and so your clutch bag won't be complete without a tube of lash glue to solve any loose lash predicaments. My favourite lash glue is Duo, which you can usually find really cheap on Ebay. 

The ultimate clutch bag essential has got to be your trusty lippy, which in my case would be a head-turning shade like MAC's Candy Yum Yum. Then it's down to the little extras - chewing gum or mints to keep your breath nice and fresh, some hair clips to keep your bouffant looking fierce, hygiene gel if you're a clean freak like me and maybe even in a mini perfume to keep you smelling gorgeous all night long. I love my little duo perfume and lipgloss from Juicy Couture, ideal for popping in your clutch bag pre a night out. 

And there you have it - everything you need to keep yourself looking glam and gorgeous 'til long after midnight. Let me know what your clutch bag party essentials are! 

Limited Edition Superdrug Barry M Sparkle Polish

Sunday, 29 December 2013
Barry M Limited Edition Nail Paint Exclusive to Superdrug - £3.99 or free with two Barry M purchases

A few weeks ago, whilst Christmas shopping, I stumbled across the most stunning sparkly pink nail polish from Barry M sitting on display in Superdrug. I'm a big fan of Barry M Nail Paints - I think they are amazing for price, quality and the range of colours, so I get really excited when I discover a new collection from them, or, indeed, a Limited Edition polish. I've seen a few Limited Edition polishes from Barry M around lately, more than likely due to the holiday season, but I hadn't seen this one before. It immediately caught my eye, and despite being free when you purchase two or more products from Barry M, I only wanted the individual polish so purchased it for £3.99. 

This polish is absolutely gorgeous. It's a super sparkly iridescent pink that reminds me a lot of a pink version of Models Own Juicy Jules. Like Juicy Jules, it does require a fair few coats to make an impact, but once applied, an impact it certainly does make. It's the perfect polish to wear over the festive period and especially with New Year around the corner, I think it would look amazing with a New Years Eve outfit. As its glitter, it's a bit of a pain to get off, but that's part of the parcel when it comes to glitter polishes, and totally worth it for how pretty this shade is.

I believe this polish is exclusive to Superdrug and probably only available for the next few weeks, so I'd get it while you can if I were you. I love it!

What I got for Christmas 2013

Saturday, 28 December 2013
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without popping a 'What I got for Christmas' post up. These posts are one of my favourites to read, primarily because I'm nosey, but also because I like getting ideas for things I'd like to buy in the sales, as well as just generally seeing what bits and bobs people get for Christmas. 

I had quite a modest Christmas this year; I asked for money towards a new camera from the majority of people, so I didn't go too crazy on the gift front. I did however get some lovely little bits which I couldn't resist sharing with you. 

First up, my boyfriend got me this BEAUT of a hot water bottle. I'd actually seen it at an ASOS event a while ago and lusted after it for ages, so I couldn't believe it when Tom got me it. He said I always complain I'm cold so this is the perfect present. It goes beautifully with my room and the little baby deer on the front is the cutest thing ever. 

My parents predominantly got me money, but they also chucked in this gorgeous Japanese Cherry Blossom Giftset from The Body Shop too, which smells so nice and fresh. It comes with shower gel, body lotion, a fragrance mist and little body scrubber. The shower gel and body lotion are cute little minis, ideal for taking away travelling. 

One of my favourite pressies was this Juicy Couture necklace from my friend Louise. I am a huge fan of Juicy Couture jewellery and have wanted a necklace to add to my little collection for ages, and this one couldn't be more perfect. It's on a long chain and has a gorgeous sparkly detailing on it. I absolutely love it and haven't taken it off since getting it!

Another gorgeous gift I got is this amazing pampering bundle, fit to burst with some amazing goodies, including lots of lovely Soap & Glory bits, face masks, exfoliating gloves, a candle, shower gel, hot chocolate and some pretty hair clips. It's such a thoughtful gift and will definitely get lots of use - you all know how much I love a good pampering sesh! 

My sister got me this absolutely stunning eyeshadow palette from MAC, entitled the 'Stroke of Midnight' smokey eyes kit. The packaging for this range is amazing and the shades are so beautiful. MAC is definitely my joint favourite eyeshadow brand with Urban Decay so I am so excited to get using this palette. I think it'll be ideal for creating a smokey eye for New Years Eve! 

The lovely people at REN, my current favourite skincare brand, had me well and truly spoilt with this personalised Moroccan Rose Otto Bath Oil. The Moroccan Rose range smells incredible and I am so grateful for this lovely gift. It is currently pride of place on my bathroom windowsill. 

I've needed a new purse for ages now and my boyfriend kindly came to my rescue with this amazing one from Disaster Designs. Disaster Designs is one of my all-time favourite accessory brands - they create the most amazingly unique pieces that are unlike the majority you see on the highstreet. My purse is from the 'Why Not?' range and says 'Would my life be complete if I bought these shoes?' on it, which my boyfriend says is me all over.

I've been head over heels for Anna Sui x ASOS collection featuring the one and only Minnie Mouse, so I just had to ask for a little something from the collection for Christmas. This nail polish is a gorgeous chunky red glitter, and my favourite thing about it is, undoubtedly, the packaging. Just how cute is Minnie in a ball gown?! I love it so much and think it'll look amazing on my dressing table. 

It just isn't Christmas without a Lush giftset, and Bunty is definitely one of my favourites. I'm all about the super girly, sugary sweet scents and this little giftset smells INCREDIBLE. It comes complete with the Space Girl Bath Ballistic, Mini Comforter Bubble Bar, Think Pink Bath Ballistic and Creamy Candy Bath Bubble Bar. Deliciously sweet! 

You have to get a new pair of gloves for Christmas, and this pair of furry foxes is so cute. I love animal knitwear, and can't wait to wear these lots over the coming chilly months. 

Finally, I got this cute little handmade gift from my sister - a gorgeous little bag made especially for me. It goes perfectly with my room and I think I'm going to use it to keep some of my bath bombs and bits safe. It's so pretty! 

So there you have it - everything I got for Christmas. I also made a video featuring all the bits I got, so check that out here if you'd like. I hope everyone is having a lovely Christmas and looking forward to New Year! 

Festive Gingerbread House

Friday, 27 December 2013
 

A couple of days before Christmas, me and my boyfriend decided to have a go at making our very own Gingerbread House. I've always wanted to make one, and instead of opting for a kit, we decided to make it entirely from scratch. I love making gingerbread so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to do some baking whilst getting in the festive spirit. 

I'm really pleased with how it turned out. Making the gingerbread and putting it all together was the boring part, but decorating it was so much fun. We spent Christmas Eve watching Toy Story 2 and covering it in a mass of chocolate buttons, matchmakers, icing, sprinkles, candy canes and glitter. We were planning on using candy floss for the chimney smoke but couldn't find any in the end, so opted for some cotton wool instead. Not edible obviously, but I love how it looks! 

Have you made a Gingerbread House over Christmas? Let me know what you think to mine! 

A Snuggly Boxing Day Outfit

Thursday, 26 December 2013
Hat: Primark
Jumper*: Truffle Shuffle
Necklace: New Look

I thought I would pop up a little outfit post featuring today's snuggly festive Boxing Day attire. I love Boxing Day - you get all the fun of Christmas, without the pressure and with all the time to eat as much chocolate as you like, watch Christmas TV and look at all the goodies you got on Christmas Day. 

I like to dress up for Christmas Day, but I love spending Boxing Day snuggled up in comfy clothes. I was recently sent this uh-mazing Christmassy jumper from Truffle Shuffle and I've been wearing it constantly on the run-up to Christmas. It just isn't Christmas without a festive jumper! I also paired it with my cute-as-a-button Christmas pudding hat and my 'Bah Humbug' necklace, both featured in my recent 'Christmas Little Things' post

I hope everyone is having a lovely relaxing Boxing Day!

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Just popping up a quick post to wish everyone an amazing Christmas! I hope everyone has had a wonderful day, spent lots of time with family and been spoilt rotten! 

I've had a lovely day seeing family, eating far too much food and opening pressies. I'm definitely going to be sad when today is over but I'm looking forward to the festivities carrying on. I don't have any plans for new year yet, but I'll definitely be spending the days coming up to it eating lots, spending time with my loved ones and watching lots of Christmas television. It really is the most wonderful time of the year! 

Merry Christmas, I hope you all have a lovely fun-filled festive evening :)

Christmas Little Things

Tuesday, 24 December 2013
Seeing as it's Christmas Eve and we are well and truly ready for the big day, I thought it would be apt to put up a little things post all about some of the festive bits and pieces I've picked up lately. I am SO excited for Christmas tomorrow, so hopefully this will have you all feeling a bit more festive too! 

This cute little Christmas Pudding purse has been forever in my hand throughout the month of December, and it's the perfect size for popping in your going out bag if you're heading out to a festive party over the next few days. I got this from New Look, and it's now reduced to £2. 

Another cute Christmassy piece from New Look, this necklace is actually part of a set which comes with the cutest little reindeer earrings. I love slogan necklaces and things and the fact that this is festive with good ol' Scrooge's saying on it makes me very happy! 

I bought this amazing Christmas pudding hat from the men's section in Primark after lusting after the version River Island released last Christmas. It was something ridiculous like only £3, and despite it being quite a snug fit I've really loved wearing it over the past few weeks! 

I am a HUGE fan of Lindsey Kelk's 'I Heart...' books and one about Christmas is always going to go down well in my opinion! I've not finished it yet but I am loving it so far. Lindsey Kelk is a brilliant author and I completely admire her witty tone throughout. Love this book lots!

I was actually sent these beautiful reindeer earrings from John Greed a while ago, and they are so perfect for Christmas. I love the vintage effect they have and although I'm not the biggest fan of dangling earrings, I just couldn't say no to these. 

Finally, I couldn't resist popping these snuggly Mickey Mouse snuggly footlets in, from the one and only Primark, of course. They are SO soft and warm and are perfectly festive, ideal for wearing when opening the pressies up on Christmas morning! 

What little bits and pieces have you been loving over the festive period?

Mum's Christmas Partywear Makeover with M&S

Saturday, 21 December 2013
 
Dress*: M&S
Handbag*: M&S
Bracelet*: M&S

A little bit of a different outfit post for you today, featuring my lovely mum! I was recently contacted by M&S to see if I wanted to take part in a style/makeover challenge, to put together a Christmas party outfit for my mum. My mum does so much for all of us so I jumped at the chance of treating her to some lovely bits from M&S - she's a big fan of Marks and Spencers and always has her eye on their lovely clothing bits, so this was ideal really.

I let her show me the type of things she likes to go for when it comes to partywear, and after a little bit of searching on their website I decided to go for a pretty tunic dress, combined with a gorgeous quilted bag (which I'm pretty jealous of) and a delicate bracelet. My mum is never without a bracelet so I thought this was ideal.

I really love the floral pattern on the dress and although I originally wanted to opt for something a bit more sparkly, I like how this dress can be dressed up or down. My mum loves it and fingers crossed she'll be wearing it on Christmas day!

Visit the M&S website to view the full dresses, bags and accessories collections. 

Christmas Gift Guide for Beauty Lovers

Friday, 20 December 2013
Although I've already done a little Christmas gift guide post, I thought I would go all-out in the beauty area and put together some of my picks for Christmas presents for beauty lovers out there. Whether you're looking for a last-minute present to get your beauty-loving bezzie or simply looking for a bit of Christmas list inspiration, I've put together a little selection of some of the things I think make perfect gifts for the festive season. I've also done a little video featuring the gifts below with a couple more thrown in, so I'd love it if you could give that a watch too! 
First up - fragrance. Now, I personally think Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a perfume present or three, so this Vera Wang Be Jeweled Giftset* is the perfect gift for any fans of Vera's fragrances, or simply if there is a girl with magpie-like tendencies in your life. This smells absolutely amazing and comes with a 30ml bottle of perfume, a shower gel and a body lotion. If you're a fan of Vera Wang's Princess, you will adore this sweet, sugary fragrance. Also, Fragrance Direct are taking orders for Christmas until midday on the 23rd, so you've still got plenty of time to order. 

 Of course, Christmas also means that the more practical gifts are always in abundance. But practical can be pretty too, right? Definitely, if this pinker-than-pink electric toothbrush is to go by. Exclusive to Tesco, the pink Oral B 600 Electric Toothbrush* is every girly girls dream - afterall, Oral B are amazing when it comes to toothbrushes and I honestly wouldn't go for any other brand to look after my teggies. I love that it comes with a travel case too, perfect for a girl on the go.

 A gorgeous beauty gift bag is always a great gift for your mum or you big sister at Christmas time, and this one from Yon Ka* is suitably roomy and full of really lovely skincare treats. I'd recommend checking out what skin type the person who's gift your getting is first, and making sure they don't have any allergies, whilst trying not to give the game away! I actually think this bag would make a pretty good clutch bag too.

An oldy but a goody, you really can't go wrong with some Olay Beauty Fluid to slip into someone's stocking this Christmas. A hit with mums far and wide, Olay's Beauty Fluid is suitable for all skin types and this one in particular is gorgeous for sitting on your dressing table, as the limited edition lacey design is seriously pretty. The best thing about this? It only comes in at £4.99 - an absolute bargain that is suitable for all budgets. 

 I love this cute little idea from Origins. Being a big fan of the brand, I was keen to see what treats they had on offer for Christmas and they didn't disappoint. If you know someone who's a big skincare fan, or you're having a girly get-together and want to have some cute little gifts for the girls then this is ideal. These sweet little 'Surprise Twists'* come with two mini products and a headband, making them ideal for the pre-Christmas party pamper session. They come in packs of six for £30, making them a teensy fiver each - bargain!

Finally, the ultimate indulgent treat for Christmas, this Estee Lauder Zodiac Compact is absolutely stunning and makes the perfect gift for any luxe beauty lovers. It's also lovely as it's personalised - there is a different design for every star sign - mine is Virgo, as shown above. The powder is brilliant and although the compact is really tiny it makes such a lovely thoughtful gift. I think the Leo design is my favourite, forever wishing I was born a few days earlier! 

So there you have it, my run-down of some perfect gifts for beauty lovers this Christmas. I hope this has helped anyone looking for a last-minute Christmas gift or even a treat for yourself before the festivities kick off! 
- brand3 - brand5