Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye 2015, It's Been Fun

Not Sponsored/No Samples

Hi!

For this roundup, I wanted to talk about a couple of personal highlights from the year.

Yes Equality


Throughout the Yes Equality campaign, I had heard the worst of the worst comments, particularly here in Rural Ireland. I was worried at one point - our own village voted no overall. But while that was upsetting, it was great to know that there were only a handful of votes in it - and by the time my boys grow up, and if one or more of them is gay and wants to marry their boyfriend - hopefully those people who voted no will see that there was nothing to be afraid of. The sky didn't fall. We have a fight on our hands with #RepealThe8th - but I believe that we are strongest together and we can do it. Sometimes I feel like Ireland is still very backwards, but then I look at Christmas Day when Panti Bliss gave the official Christmas Message on TV and I think.......it's not a bad little country all the same, is it? Hopefully the Ireland that my boys grow up in will be very different to the one I grew up in.


Blog


I adore blogging, I get so much enjoyment out of it - that's why I do it. It's fun, I get to type and edit photographs and try and come up with new ways to talk about things - I love it. It's like the internet version of the scrapbooks and notebooks my sister and I made in the 90s. I don't put myself under any pressure at all to meet targets or to accomplish anything with it, it's just fun. This year, my blog views passed half a million! I'm absolutely delighted, I've been hogging this little corner of the internet for nearly 5 years now so that's lovely. Thank you! My other social media is slowly creeping up too, so thanks a million if you're one of the lovely people who followed me on Instagram or Facebook this year too.

Snapchat


Well who saw this coming, eh?! I hadn't heard of Snapchat before this year. I knew one of my sisters-in-law was on it because she was talking to her phone one evening and kept replaying herself saying the words "They're Back On Tuesday!!!" over and over and over again while writing text, me looking at her going.......WHAT is she doing....but around April, I bit the bullet and joined. Bye, free time. It soon became a lifeline for me - I'm not the type of person who could ever do Youtube, but Snapchat is ideal for me because people can't save the videos (I'm not going to mention screenshotting for fear of the rage). I was as happy as a pig in shite talking away to my phone, but then something started to happen. People started to talk back. And then a little community formed. And now I feel like I have loads of friends in my phone, which is amazing when I don't see people from one minute of the day to the next.

There are now nearly 3,000 people watching my snaps - which is ridiculous, I'm not anybody - but I would really miss the interaction and the craic if I left. I do get really odd messages sometimes (if you ask me a question and I have to google it, I ain't answering it) but I get so many lovely ones, from people just like me, at home all day with young kids just having the craic with all the phone people.

Bridie Brunch


With the rise in popularity of Snapchat, a group of ladies also became everyone's group of BFFs. In November, Karen (lovelygirlybits), Aisling (aislingmkeenan), Ellen (waxpertsellen) and Laura (cunninghamlaura) AKA The Snapchat Bridies, organised a Brunch event in Dublin. I was determined to go - I organised extra help for the kids, I paid a tenner too much for my train ticket because I was so excited and didn't read the return thing properly, and I got my sizeable arse on the train up to Connolly. To say I was nervous was an understatement, I hadn't been on a train since the 90s, I hadn't been to Dublin since 2011, and I'm not actually great in a group - but I had SO MUCH FUN. It was lovely (and surreal) to meet so many great women (and 2 men) - everyone was exactly like they are on Snapchat. I was in awe of most of the people there, I was completely awkward whenever anyone pointed a phone at me, but I had the best craic and I went home with a huge lady crush on Holly Shortall (hollywooddublin). It was my best day of 2015, and I'm pretty sure that goes against some kind of Mammy Code. Thanks to the Bridies for organising a day that made me feel like a person again rather than 'just a Mammy'.


Thank You

To all the PR companies who have worked with me this year. I really appreciate it and I'm looking forward to working with you again next year. 
To the Twinsie Tuesday girls for accepting me as a part of their nail art group.

Music

Leaving aside the fact that I'm now a Belieber (also didn't see that coming) There were five standout songs for me this year, all of them hold great memories be it going for a walk or having one of the boys spontaneously dance every time he hears it - here are my five favourites of 2015 in no particular order:

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - Downtown



Fleur East - Sax



The Weekend - Can't Feel My Face



Jason Derulo - Want to Want Me



Years & Years - Shine




Happy New Year, folks x


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Great Big Book Round Up of 2015

Not Sponsored/No Samples. 14 out of 150 books were Advance Copies requested on Netgalley.

Hi!

I hope this isn't too long, but I wanted to fit everything in one big post - except my "Books I Read in December" post, that'll come in January because it's still December, and, well....I'm still reading. So that's on the way! So far I'm on my 151st book of the year.


I've broken this down into sections, and I'll try my best not to waffle! I'm not going into individual reviews here, if you go to my Books 2015 page you'll see a clickable book cover for every book I've read in 2015, that will take you to my Goodreads review for that book.

The Rick O'Shea Book Club
This is a Facebook based book club, you can request to join here. It's a lovely group for book lovers, there's no snobbery or fighting, everyone respects the reading choices of others. Started by 2fm DJ Rick O'Shea, the book club is now going into its 18th month, with 32 books chosen so far. Of the 25 chosen in 2015, I read 18 (I had already read Only Ever Yours and attempted The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August in 2014). I finished all 18 except The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat by Oliver Sacks. I have most or all of the other choices bought, so I'm looking forward to reading them in 2016.


Out of all the Book Club choices, I think Burial Rites by Hannah Kent was definitely my favourite. It was atmospheric, it was sad, it was beautiful, and it stayed with me. Surprisingly, The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick pops into my head every so often too, and it's something I would never have read of my own accord. 

The Richard and Judy Book Club

This was less successful for me - out of 24 books, I bought almost all of them but only read 6. It souns much more impressive if I say I read a quarter of all the books chosen, doesn't it? Here are the ones I read:


I Let You Go was by far the best thriller I read in 2015. It was just fantastic, I haven't gasped out loud at a book in a very long time but this one made me do so several times. Fantastic. 

The Popsugar Reading Challenge
I did it!! I completed the challenge on December 28th by reading a Graphic Novel. Here are the books I read for it. The prompts for the Popsugar Reading Challenge 2016 have been released, you can find the list here.


A BOOK WITH MORE THAN 500 PAGES: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
A CLASSIC ROMANCE: The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (yes it is a classic. IT IS.)
A BOOK THAT BECAME A MOVIE: Horns by Joe Hill
A BOOK PUBLISHED THIS YEAR: I Was Here by Gayle Forman
A BOOK WITH A NUMBER IN THE TITLE: The Number 8 by Joel Arcanjo
A BOOK WRITTEN BY SOMEONE UNDER 30: Popular by Maya Von Wagonen
A BOOK WITH NON-HUMAN CHARACTERS: 172 Hours on the Moon by Johann Harstad
A FUNNY BOOK: Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris
A BOOK BY A FEMALE AUTHOR: Spill, Simmer, Falter, Wither by Sara Baume
A MYSTERY OR THRILLER: The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood


A BOOK WITH A ONE-WORD TITLE: Room by Emma Donoghue
A BOOK OF SHORT STORIES: Ghost Stories by M.R. James
A BOOK SET IN A DIFFERENT COUNTRY: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
A NON-FICTION BOOK: Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes
A POPULAR AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling
A BOOK FROM AN AUTHOR YOU LOVE BUT HAVEN'T READ YET: Revival by Stephen King
A BOOK A FRIEND RECOMMENDED: So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
A PULITZER-PRIZE WINNING BOOK: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
A BOOK BASED ON A TRUE STORY: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
A BOOK AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR TBR LIST: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson


A BOOK YOUR MUM LOVES: The Secret Island by Enid Blyton
A BOOK THAT SCARED YOU: The Book of You by Claire Kendal
A BOOK MORE THAN 100 YEARS OLD: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A BOOK BASED ENTIRELY ON ITS COVER: The Child Garden by Catriona McPherson
A BOOK YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO READ AT SCHOOL BUT DIDN'T: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A MEMOIR: My Life and Other Unfinished Business by Dolly Parton
A BOOK YOU CAN FINISH IN A DAY: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
A BOOK WITH ANTONYMS IN THE TITLE: Together Apart by Natalie Martin
A BOOK SET SOMEWHERE YOU'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO VISIT: One Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot
A BOOK THAT CAME OUT THE YEAR YOU WERE BORN: Sweet Valley High #01: Double Love by Francine Pascal


A BOOK WITH BAD REVIEWS: Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine
A BOOK FROM YOUR CHILDHOOD: Under the Hawthorn Tree by Marita Conlon McKenna
A TRILOGY: Wool, Shift and Dust by Hugh Howey
A BOOK WITH A LOVE TRIANGLE: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
A BOOK SET IN THE FUTURE: Date With a Rockstar by Sarah Gagnon
A BOOK SET IN HIGH SCHOOL: The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
A BOOK WITH A COLOUR IN THE TITLE: Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton
A BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY: A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride
A BOOK WITH MAGIC: Half Bad by Sally Green
A GRAPHIC NOVEL: Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoet


A BOOK BY AN AUTHOR YOU'VE NEVER READ BEFORE: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
A BOOK YOU OWN BUT HAVE NEVER READ: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A BOOK THAT TAKES PLACE IN YOUR HOMETOWN: Solace by Belinda McKeon
A BOOK ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE: The Guest Cat by Takeshi Hiraide
A BOOK SET DURING CHRISTMAS: Bella's Christmas Bake-Off by Sue Watson
A BOOK WRITTEN BY AN AUTHOR WITH YOUR INITIALS: The Lake by Sheena Lambert
A BANNED BOOK: Dubliners by James Joyce
A PLAY: Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley
A BOOK BASED ON OR TURNED INTO A TV SHOW: The Wayward Pines Trilogy by Blake Crouch
A BOOK YOU STARTED BUT NEVER FINISHED: Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman (started years ago, finally finished in October)

My Favourite Reads of 2015
These are my ten favourite reads of the year - some have been published for a very, very long time but I've only read them for the first time this year. In no particular order:


My Least Favourite Reads of 2015

For one reason or another, these books left me either angry at the time I had wasted or annoyed at falling for hype. Again, in no particular order:



"I Wish I Had All That Free Time"
This really riles me up something shocking and I've lost time of the amount of times I've heard it this year. I DON'T have an abnormal amount of "free" time. I see people talking about binge-watching series all the time and they never, ever get asked "but where do you find the time to watch 12 episodes in three days?" I read so much because I have been an avid reader since I was four or five years old and I love books. Reading time isn't "free time", it's not like I read because I have nothing else to do, I build it in to my day the way other people make time for the gym. Granted, it's not doing anything to help the size of my arse, but it's time well spent all the same.

I have the same 24 hours a day as anyone else, I have a house to look after, and three kids, and a husband, and a blog, and social media, and other hobbies, and cooking, and walking, and cross stitch, and makeup and Netflix - I read so much because it's something I need to do. I'd go mad if I didn't read every day. I'm up early, I read when the kids are playing, I read quickly, I read in the morning, I read at night, I don't watch very much TV, I record stuff I want to watch and then either binge it or delete it. I don't follow soaps. I love Netflix, but again it's very much a binge situation - I don't watch TV every day. I can do a book a day or every 2 days - always have done, hopefully always will do.

So please, PLEASE don't ask where I find the time, or tell me you wish you had all that time - I would find it alien to watch 2 hours of telly of an evening, others would find it alien to read for 2 hours. It's the same 2 hours! I'm a huge believer in doing what makes you happy, and just because you may have other responsibilities doesn't mean you should lose a part of yourself. Books are a part of me, so even if I had ten kids and four houses and eleven blogs, I'd still make time to read. 

So what does a year in reading look like? Glorious!!



2016 Goals
I'd love if everyone reading this would try and read 5 books in 2016. There are so many amazing Irish authors out there waiting to be discovered - this year I found Belinda McKeon, Sara Baume, Lisa McInerney, and was reacquainted with Donal Ryan and Louise O'Neill. I want to finish the Harry Potter series in 2016, and I'd love to try for 150 books again - if it doesn't happen, so be it. I want to use the library more, because I've spent too much on Amazon. I want to make books a bigger part of the blog, maybe a twice-monthly thing instead of a monthly thing, or a spotlight post every weekend about a book I'm enjoying or a book I recommend. I want to clear my Netgalley shelf and stop requesting stuff until I've all my current ARCs read, and I want to read more book blogs.


See you in January for the "Books I Read in December" roundup!




Monday, December 28, 2015

My Top 15 of '15: Skincare/Haircare

Not Sponsored/PR Gifts Marked *

Hi!

This is the second of my favourites posts for 2015, this one has my 15 favourite products that didn't fit into the makeup category.

In no particular order:


Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Water
A cult product for years but not available in Ireland before 2015, this had been much hyped. I was doubtful that it would live up to the hype - and I was fairly meh about it - but when I ran out of the small bottle I was gutted. No other micellar water leaves my skin feeling as clean as this one - a definite repurchase and a favourite.

Waxperts Beautiful Body Oil
A gorgeous, relaxing Irish-made product with lavender to soothe the skin. Perfect after shaving or just after a shower, this doesn't leave a really greasy residue on hands and it sinks in really well.

Flexitol Heel Balm*
I did a review on Flexitol products earlier this year (complete with a link to gammy before/after foot pictures) and it's really, really good. No fragrances, no frills, just does the job in keeping feet smooth.

La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume B5
I've lost count of the amount of times I've repurchased this, but it will always be in my favourites. It works on dry skin, minor cuts and burns, minor blemishes, grazes, bites - it's a great all-rounder.

Clarins UV Plus Antipollution SPF 50
An impulse buy when I wanted a free gift - one I'm so glad I made. Lightweight, great coverage, great protection, I didn't get burned once during the few days of heat we got earlier in the year. Smells fab, doesn't feel greasy, absorbs well - I still use it every day and I've lots left. Definite repurchase.


Vaseline Intensive Care Cocoa Radiant Body Lotion
This is just gorgeous. It's my favourite body lotion by a mile, it smells exactly like Baileys and it feels lovely on my skin. I've gone through several of these little mini sizes and one big one this year.

Cocoa Brown Instant Tan Bronzing Gel Matte
I'm not a big fan of fake tan - I can't do it properly no matter how I try. I do like the Cocoa Brown Gentle Bronze because it's easy - but this is so much better. I used to love the He-Shi instant wash-off tan but it was too expensive to repurchase - this is well under a tenner and it gives a gorgeous result instantly. Best part? If I muck it up I can wash it straight off and do it again. Second best part? It doesn't streak or run if it rains or if I'm washing my hands. I have three back-ups already and just treated myself to the shimmer for Christmas!

Ziaja Cocoa Butter Hand Cream
Cheap as chips, smells amazing, not greasy, great size for handbag - all the Ziaja hand creams that I've tried have been lovely and of fantastic quality, but the smell of this one just makes it my favourite. I just received a back-up as a present from a friend and I'm delighted.

Sure Maximum Protection Deodorant
I bulk-bought this in Boots earlier in the year when it was less than half price. I was sent a few when I was expecting the twins in 2013 (I reviewed it here at the time) and I haven't used any other deodorant since, absolute fact. I am not the most svelte of ladies and I am a bit of a sweater at times - not with this. Fantastic.

Vichy Aqualia Thermal Rich Cream
I had a pot of this last year and I had other moisturisers to try so I didn't repurchase - and I missed it. That's always the sign of a good product for me. I discovered that it also comes in a tube for around €5 less, so this was perfect. I really, really like it. It's a lovely moisturiser, and my skin doesn't feel at all dry in the morning when I use this at night.


Kérastase Resistance Masque Thérapiste
I was originally sent this hair mask and the shampoo from the same range by the PR company looking after Kérastase, but I fell in love with it and repurchased both. This mask is gorgeous, it's pricey but I got a good deal on shampoo.ie. I'll continue to buy both as a treat, I try not to use it more than once a week because it's too spendy, but I love it and I love how it makes my hair feel.

Waxperts Wonder Pads
Little cotton pads soaked in salicylic acid - such a simple idea but such a great product. These can be used after waxing or shaving to prevent ingrown hairs, but I love them because they're really great for stopping a nasty spot in its tracks or for working wonders on KP (Keratosis Pilaris) on upper arms, mine has improved immensely since I started using these. I just bought another pot before Christmas so I'm set - at under a tenner they're something I'll never be without.

Matrix Oil Wonders Amazonian Murumuru Controlling Oil*
I was sent this earlier in the year and I absolutely adore it. Unfortunately, I then lost it while I was moving rooms around - but I found it again in October and I was over the moon, it really does make my hair more manageable and sleek, especially if I use it along with something like the Babyliss Big Hair. It stops it from being flyaway and just smells gorgeous, leaving a lovely shine without looking greasy. A very, very tiny amount goes a very, very long way - I'm talking one pump.

Daiso Puff and Sponge Detergent
From Korean company Daiso, this puff and sponge detergent is designed for cleaning makeup brushes and that it does - it gets flat top Kabuki brushes clean in seconds. It's the only brush cleaner I use, I bulk buy from a couple of  eBay sellers in Korea, give me a shout if you want seller recommendations. There's a variant of this available called "make up brush cleaner" - don't buy that, it's crap. This one is amazing!

Human + Kind Deep Cleaning Cloths
Gorgeous fluffy face cloths - a two pack comes in less than a tenner. They wash well and they're great for a deep clean along with whatever cleanser I'm using. Absolutely love them, so soft and gorgeous.

That's it! Hopefully I'll discover some new things to add to the list in 2016.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

My Top 15 of '15: Makeup

Not Sponsored, PR Gifts marked with *. 

Hi!

I had a great response to my least favourite products of 2015 post, so thank you. One tiny thing I wanted to mention - whenever I do a post like that I always get comments thanking me for the honesty - all my posts are honest. I know Cherry Sue touched on this earlier in the year, but there's a perception that bad = honest, good = sponsored/lies. Not true! If something's sent to me and I don't get on with it, I'll tell you. If something's sent to me and I love it, I'll tell you. I will never post glowing reviews just for the sake of it or to lick arse. There are very few products reviewed on the blog that were sent to me and I dislike - because I usually never show interest in items that I know won't suit me or I won't use.

All sorted? Grand.

On to my 15 makeup favourites of 2015! In no particular order:



Catrice Even Skin Tone Mattifying Foundation
I've gone through a few bottles of this now - it's just a very good value everyday foundation, lightweight and even, medium coverage that's buildable. Matte finish, no issues, love it.

The Balm Meet Matt(e) Nude Eyeshadow Palette
This was an early Christmas present to myself and I'm delighted I took the plunge. Buttery nude eyeshadows, they blend really well, and the palette has a great selection of colours. That middle dark brown is great for an emergency eyebrow powder too.

Maybelline The Eraser Eye Concealer
I was fairly late to the party with this one, I only got my hands on it around August/September. It's a great undereye concealer and works well on blemish scars too.

MAC Studio Sculpt Defining/Bronzing Powder - Delicates (LE)
This was from the Wash & Dry collection earlier in the year. It's a fantastic contour powder, really pale and not at all scary or orange. If they release a similar shade this year I'd definitely pick it up.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream - Cannes
I have a few of these and I love all the shades I own, but Cannes is probably my favourite. The texture and formula of these lip creams is gorgeous, they don't feel drying and they really do last ages. Plus, they're well under a tenner. LOVE. Favourite lip product of 2015 by a mile.



Urban Decay x Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette*
I was sent this a few weeks ago and it's really one of the nicest palettes I own. I reviewed it in full in this post, but I'm just really enjoying it, the shadows are fantastic quality and the packaging is fantastic, I did buy a second one as a present.

Bourjois 1 Seconde Volume Ultra Black Mascara
This was a close one, I was choosing between this or Urban Decay's Perversion, which I also love, but this one came out on top because it's easier to get and it's cheaper. If you follow Lovelygirlybits on Snapchat you'll have seen her chat about this several times - it's just fantastic if you want big, black, clump-free lashes.

Essence The Gel Nail Polish Top Coat
Forever sold out in Penneys, this is an amazing topcoat. I've never used Seche Vite (I don't do toluene) but I've used Poshe topcoat multiple times and this is much, much better. It prolongs my nail polish by several days and gives a great shine.

Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray
I bought this in the Summer, and I still have loads left despite using it pretty much every time I wear makeup. It's lightweight, doesn't smell of chemicals like others (hello Makeup Revolution), and really does make makeup last longer.

NYX Tame and Frame Brow Pomade - Espresso
This has replaced the Anastasia Beverly Hills dipbrow pomade for me. This shade, Espresso, is an exact match for Medium Brown in the Anastasia. It does exactly the same job, it's easier to get, and it's under a tenner. NYX also do "Micro Brow" pencils exactly the same as the Brow Wiz pencils.



Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt
Not strictly makeup, but I wanted to include it here - my favourite scent of the year by a mile. I smelled a sample of it in an issue of Vogue (I rarely buy Vogue) and ordered it immediately. That has never, ever happened before (and probably won't again) but I'm so glad I went for it, it's fresh, marine, crisp, clean, woody - really beautiful.

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector - Champagne Pop
I ordered this from Sephora during the Summer, but it's now available in the UK and Ireland at Space NK. It's a peach toned highlighter, I swatched it in this post. I really like it, a little goes a very long way - paired with the Blank Canvas F28 brush (thanks for the tip, Orla!) it's perfection.

NYX Blush - Taupe
I had heard of this loads of times but never bothered with it, it looked too purple in the pan. But when I saw Lorraine snap about it (lorrainehaigney), I bought it. It's the perfect shade for super-pale skin - it just looks like a natural shadow, and not at all purpley. Love!

Essence I Love Stage Eyeshadow Base
I really hope they never discontinue this, I buy a backup every so often just in case. It's under a fiver and it definitely makes a difference to the staying power of eyeshadow.

Bourjois One Seconde Nail Polish Remover
This is one of those little pots filled with a sponge soaked in nail polish remover. Lots of brands do them - I've seen them in Euro shops and on the Essence stand. I do like the Essence one, but the Bourjois one has a firmer sponge and seems to work far quicker. The sponge doesn't disintegrate like other brands, and it seems to last far longer.

There we go - the 15 things I'd save if I had to choose among all my makeup. Hopefully 2016 will lead to some more great discoveries!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

My Least Favourite Beauty Products of 2015

Not Sponsored/No Samples

Hi!

I have a couple of end-of-year favourite posts coming, so I thought I'd also show you the 10 things that I either regret buying or that I was disappointed with.


Veet In-Shower Hair Removal Cream
This doesn't work. End of story. It smells disgusting and it doesn't remove hair. I tried this on my arms, I followed instructions to the letter, and it couldn't even remove light arm hair - I can't imagine how it's supposed to remove coarser hair. Rubbish.

Hydraluron Moisture Jelly
This did absolutely nothing for me at all, I just didn't see a difference after weeks of using it.

Trilogy Replenishing Night Cream
I bought this after I saw Caroline Hirons talking about it on a video - it was nearly €40 and it's grand - not fantastic. It's a night cream, no different to any other night cream. The worst thing about this for me was that it was so heavily scented, I'm determined to use it all because it was expensive but I'm so sick of the smell.

NYX Matte Finish Setting Spray
Didn't work for me, foundation was patchy by evening time and eyebrows were non-existent when using powder products.

SoSu Nail Polish
Very disappointed with this range - I'm still open to suggestions on how to make these work, unfortunately I haven't seen anyone who has managed to get them to last more than a few days on natural nails. A shame, because the colour range is stunning.



Smashbox Double Exposure Eyeshadow Palette
I completely fell for the hype surrounding this when it was released and I was really disappointed with it. I loved the Full Exposure palette so much, but this is hard to blend and the colours weren't very pigmented at all.

MAC Studio Sculpt Foundation
This looks great for all of a half hour, and then starts to cake. I had actually left this in a drawer earlier in the year and forgotten about it, when I used it again I remembered why I didn't use it - it's really thick and just doesn't work for me.

L'Oreal Miss Manga Punky Mascara
I was a big fan of the original Miss Manga mascara, it gave great thick big black lashes in one coat. This one has a horrible spindly brush and just clumps lashes into groups of 2 or 3 - very weird effect and not nice. It was hard to remove, it felt like glue.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer - Luminous Light
An expensive product that I fell for after seeing hype on social media. I imported it from the States and I was so excited - but I was very disappointed with it. It doesn't blend well, it's slightly orange on me and it's nothing special. I have bronzers from Clarins and Bourjois that are every bit as good if not better. Huge disappointment.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade
When I bought this, I fell in love. I'd never used a cream brow product before and it has transformed my routine. Why, then, is it in my least favourites? Because it went incredibly clumpy. I have loads left despite using it every day for months - I closed the lid tightly, I used it correctly, and yet - it's rock hard. It's a total waste of money when there are better equivalents on the market (NYX, Inglot). I don't expect it to last forever, but for the price I'd have expected to get a little more than a few months out of it.

And that's it! The stuff I definitely won't be repurchasing. My favourites are on the way!



Friday, December 18, 2015

Recipe: Christmas Sugar Cookies

Not Sponsored/No Samples

Hi!

We made Gingerbread Men for the Late Late Toy Show a few weeks ago - I was all set to make another spiced batch but when I was browsing Pinterest, I saw loads of delicious looking iced sugar cookies so decided to go for those instead. I adapted a few different recipes and converted the measurements to grams, this recipe makes about 30 cookies depending on size. The dough will need to chill for at least 2 hours, so plan ahead.

Ingredients:
150g Butter (I used Stork)
200g Granulated Sugar
2 Eggs (room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
400g Flour (plus extra for rolling)
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt

To Decorate:
Royal Icing/Frosting
Food Colouring
Sprinkles

Equipment:
2 Mixing Bowls
Whisk/Wooden Spoon
Rolling Pin
Jug/Small Bowl
Cling Film
Baking Trays
Cookie Cutters (Dealz and Homestore + More have Christmas ones)

1. Get 2 mixing bowls. In one, put the butter and sugar. In the other, put the flour, baking powder and salt. 



2. Cream the Butter and Sugar (whisk or beat until it resembles cream), add the vanilla and eggs. 


3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring in one bit at a time. Mix until it comes together in a ball. 


4. Split the mixture in half, and wrap in cling film. Put in the fridge for at least 2 hours, dough will keep for a week, or you can freeze it for up to 3 months. 


5. Preheat oven to 200c/400f/Gas 6. Roll dough out on a floured surface and use cutters to make shapes. 


6. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking tray and put in the oven. Check after 10 minutes - remove when they're just starting to go brown around the edges. Some of mine are about 2 minutes overdone. 


7. Decorate! I used a few drops of colouring, a few spoons of royal icing powder and a tablespoon of water to make green icing, and made another small bit in a mug without colouring. You could use ready-made frosting or melted chocolate. Add sprinkles. 



8. Eat them before they're robbed on you! They'll keep in an airtight container for a few days.


Happy Baking!





Monday, December 14, 2015

Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette - Real vs Fake

Not Sponsored/No Samples

Hi!

My most popular post by far this year was the one I did showing how to spot a fake Mary Lou-Manizer by The Balm. I still get messages at least once a week from people who are wondering if their bargain highlighter is a fake.

When a friend told me that she had bought a Chocolate Bar palette for €15 at a Christmas market recently, I asked her if she would bring it over and show me. I bought mine from Debenhams about a month or two ago for €47.

When I put hers next to mine the differences were immediately obvious, but she had never seen one in reality before so didn't know what it was supposed to look like. Here are a few photographs so that you don't fall into the same trap. This one was purchased in the Westmeath area about two weekends ago at a Christmas market.

Firstly, brands like Too Faced, Urban Decay, MAC - they don't sell wholesale to market sellers. No matter what they tell you, there is no way on earth that they could have bought those brands in bulk anywhere and sell them at a discount like that. My friend was told that the reason these palettes were so cheap was that her cousin was a company rep so could get them at wholesale prices. They had a whole conversation about the mark-up in shops and how it's so high.


The real box is pale pink, the fake one looks more peach. Still - if they weren't both together, I don't think I'd know the difference. The fake box is dull, the print quality isn't as good and the lettering isn't as sharp.


The shades on the back of the real one look cooler, while the ones on the back of the fake one look like someone has altered them. The print quality is poor, but again - if I didn't have them side by side and I hadn't seen it before, I don't think I'd know.


The only difference in the little booklets is that the fake one looks more faded, less clear. All of the packaging looks more washed out, as if it has faded over time. The print quality on the real packaging and booklet is much sharper, much crisper.


Here's the easiest way to tell if it's counterfeit or not. The real palette has a glossy finish. The fake one is matte.

Real Shadows 


The real shadows now have the names printed underneath, and are surrounded by light brown/beige plastic. Some older palettes may have the names printed on a sheet, but they are very much unlikely to still be in stock as this was a change made in 2013.

Fake Shadows


The fake shadows have the names printed on a sheet of plastic, and they're surrounded by dark brown plastic the same colour as the outer packaging.


The biggest giveaway with this palette is the smell - the shadows are infused with cocoa powder so there should be a faint smell of chocolate when you open the palette Predictably, the cheap one smells of chemicals and talc.

Already this week, Gardaí have made a huge leap in getting some of this crap off the streets by siezing over €200,000 of counterfeit shoes, bags and makeup in the Midlands. If you see stuff like this for sale, report it to your local Garda station the minute you see it. It's illegal to sell counterfeit goods, and it's beyond harmful.

I've gotten into arguments on youtube with people before who say "well I can't afford to spend $50 on a palette, I buy mine from Ali Express for $5". I can't understand that logic at all, if I were going to spend the equivalent of $5 on something I was going to be putting on my skin, I'd go to my local pharmacy and buy something from a budget range instead of trying to keep up with the Joneses and having a label on display. Nobody actually cares what anyone else has in their makeup collection, despite us being a community of nosey stash-video addicts. What's in fake make-up?

If you like the look of the chocolate bar palettes but they're out of your price range, have a look at Makeup Revolution's chocolate palettes. Makeup Revolution are a great range with really good eyeshadows at great prices, coming in around the £8/€11 mark.

Please be careful around Christmas and New Year with markets selling makeup. Don't buy from Facebook selling pages either. Oh, and:


NAKED 4, NAKED 5,  OR NAKED BRUSH SETS DO NOT EXIST. 

To read another post about counterfeit cosmetics, and for a look at some photographs of different fakes, have a look at this great post from Leanne of Blather and Beauty over on My Little Bábóg blog.