Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saturday Night Song #23

Hey guys, tonight's SNS is a new release from Irish band Hogan.

It's the perfect summer tune, and if it's not stuck in your head after the first listen, then I'll eat my virtual hat. I heard this song once (on iRadio) and found myself humming it hours later - I'm ashamed to say I'd never heard of the band before now, and it's a shame.

Considering the crap that passes as music now (you a stupid hoe, anyone?!), a little gem like this should be shared and spread around. Please, request it on your local radio station, buy it on iTunes HERE  and share the video to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ (if anyone still uses that) and wherever. It's magic, go and download it from iTunes now and get it into your headphones, it's the best walking/running song I've heard in ages!

Hogan will be on FM104 tomorrow night (Sunday July 28th) on this week's Open Mic slot playing some tunes and having a chat so pop it on and have a listen.

Support Irish Music!

Check out for more info.

S xx

NOTD: Wet n Wild Buffy The Violet Slayer

Can I just start this post by saying I'm a huge Buffy fan. Huge. Enormous. I almost had a seizure the time my Mum's friend in the US sent my sister and I Buffy backpacks, and I was around 16 at the time. One of my prized possessions used to be a letter sent to me from the author of a Buffy fan guide thanking me for my gushing praise (*dies of embarrassment*). I wrote stupidly awestruck letters to all the cast members and begged for signed photos (which in fairness, I got, but they were reprints, BAH).

My sister and I lived and breathed Buffy for the entire time it aired on Irish TV (and many years after) - we devoured the books, the posters, the claddagh rings, the cross necklaces, the boots and long coats, the overpriced Buffy magazines with the free DVDs, the soundtracks, the script guides, the quiz book - we fought over who actually owned 'The Sunnydale High Yearbook' (me, but she stole it when I went to college. Yes you did. Yes you DID) and we saved up our money to buy glossy prints and posters from Moviemarket. I had a giant poster of David Boreanaz on my bedroom ceiling for months (until he fell on top of me one night and frightened the living daylights out of me). When we were finally adults and able to afford more expensive things, we both bought the boxsets. I re-watched all 7 seasons recently, and I can't believe there are people out there who haven't seen it. It's the best TV show ever made. Ever.

When it comes to TV shows or bands I like, I lose all sense of logic (as you can see from paragraphs 1 & 2) and my brain immediately switches to "I must have that. NOW." mode. Hence the reason I paid $9 (including postage) for this polish that retails at around $2. Stupidity. And before you ask, yes, I whittled a stake.

I love this polish and I'm delighted I bought it (from a private seller on by the way) - but I bloody hate the way it photographs. It's the most perfect purple with slight shimmer, and in every photograph I took, regardless of light or flash, it looks like a dreary blurple. I did a little fiddling around with the editing tools on photobucket, and I've got an edited swatch for you that matches the colour in the bottle more accurately:

First, here's the unedited one:

And the more accurate one:

It's gorgeous. I know the colour on everyone's monitor is different, but the edited picture is a lot closer to the real shade than the unedited one. I'd definitely buy another bottle and I've worn this 3-4 times since buying it. Fabulous. I just wish Wet n Wild was available near me! I also lusted after Gray's Anatomy but I'm pretty sure that's a dupe of Catrice's Iron Mermaiden, or at least that's what I'm telling myself.

However, if you have either the Zack or Kelly polishes from the Saved By the Bell collection and you're willing to part with them, I will name my next pet after you and love you forever.

S xx

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Comparison: O.P.I vs Catrice & Chanel (Picture Heavy)

Hello! Hope everyone is enjoying the miraculously warm weather we've been having this weekend. More of that, please!

This is a post I've been sitting on for a while, and seeing as I haven't done a nail post all week, I thought I'd dig it out today. A while back, I got the O.P.I Spider-man Mini set. I forgot to take a picture, so here's a stock photo:

[Source: Littlewoods]

I got mine on Littlewoods - it's listed as e16, but we got it as part of a larger order and used the code 23F4B which gives you 20% off if you spend over e100, so the nail polish set cost e12.80 with the discount. (Pretty good considering it's almost e18 on for the same set). Littlewoods also have free delivery. They stock a range of Nicole by O.P.I, O.P.I, Models Own, Nails Inc. and Barry M polishes, but to be honest they're all a little overpriced so I wouldn't order without using a discount code. You don't have to use a credit account to order, you can pay straight away (no interest! Yay!).

I have two comparisons for you, the first one is O.P.I 'Just Spotted The Lizard' vs Catrice 'Genius In The Bottle'. I don't have the other rumoured dupe Chanel 'Peridot', but if you have it, you can have a look and see which of these it's most like.

As you can see, they look fairly similar in the bottle. Both have the gold/bronze/green tones in natural light.

Inside, Flash.
You can see from this picture that the Catrice has a deeper bronze tone than the O.P.I, which is leaning more towards gold. Application with both was much the same, this was two coats of each.

Outside, Daylight
Inside, daylight
However, in certain lights, they're very similar. Take this next picture, outside, with no flash:

They are definitely similar, but they're not dupes. I don't know how they stand up against Peridot, does it lean towards bronze or gold?

Next up is O.P.I 'Number One Nemesis' vs Chanel 'Graphite'.

To me, they didn't look similar at all in the bottles. The Chanel looked much thicker and lighter in colour.

The application was also very different. Above is one coat of each polish. As you can see, the O.P.I was thinner and didn't cover the nail line in one coat. The Chanel almost completely covered the nail line in one coat. However...

Inside, daylight
Two coats of both tells a different story! They're much more similar here. The Chanel has more silver, the O.P.I has more gold.

Outside, no flash
They're very similar outside. Even moreso than the O.P.I & Catrice.

Outside, no flash
Verdict? Again, not dead-on dupes, but close enough for 'Number One Nemesis' to satisfy a craving for Chanel without wasting expensive polish.

Have a great Sunday!

S xx

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Saturday Night Song #22

Tonight's SNS is 'Anastasia' by Slash & Myles Kennedy.

I'm a big fan of Alter Bridge, Myles Kennedy, and Slash (in all his various incarnations). I just got Slash's new album Apocalyptic Love this week and I really loved this song.

[Source: Amazon]

Here's the studio quality version, and below you'll find the live video because I always prefer to listen to Myles sing live, same with Adele and a couple of other artists.

I recommend headphones.

I just pray they don't use it in the 50 Shades movie.

Have a great Saturday night,

S xx

Book Review: The Memory Garden by Rachel Hore

Hey guys! I've another 400+ pager for you today.

Cornwall is one of those places I've never been to but always been fascinated by (nothing to do with pasties, I swear), so when I saw that the majority of this novel was set there, I was sold. Here's the back cover bit:

Lamorna Cove - a tiny bay in Cornwall, picturesque, unspoilt. A hundred years ago it was the haunt of a colony of artists. Today, Mel Pentreath hopes it is a place where she can escape the pain of her mother's death and a broken love affair, and gradually put her life back together.

Renting a cottage in the enchanting but overgrown grounds of Merryn Hall, Mel embraces her new surroundings and offers to help her landlord, Patrick Winterton, restore the garden. Soon, she is daring to believe her life can be rebuilt. Then Patrick finds some old paintings in an attic, and as he and Mel investigate the identity of the artist, they are drawn into an extraordinary tale of illicit passion and thwarted ambition from a century ago, a tale that resonates in their own lives. But how long can Mel's idyll last before reality breaks in and everything is threatened?

Shifting imperceptibly from one generation to another, The Memory Garden vividly evokes the lives of two women, born a century apart, but who face the same challenges to their happiness and survival.

Firstly, I don't think the blurb is 100% accurate. The story does shift from that of Melanie Pentreath, a writer/teacher in the 2000s, to Pearl Treglown, a servant in the early 1900s. But while Pearl is struggling with recent shocking family revelations and the effects of an illicit love affair, Melanie is trying to get over her ex-boyfriend and deal moreso with her relationship with her father than the death of her mother. The only real challenge Melanie is facing is one of her own - she needs to figure out where she belongs, and who she wants to share her future with. 

I didn't instantly find Melanie likeable - it's not that I disliked her, it's just that I couldn't get a clear picture of her in my head. Usually when I start a book, I instantly picture the character - with this book, the main character seems to be the house. I just wanted to move in and start helping to clear the vines and uncover the paths. The writer conjures up an image of somewhere that is truly idyllic - and when I googled Lamorna Cove, it was just as I imagined it to be. It's a stunning place.

The author has really done her research into the artists of Lamorna Cove - her descriptions of the paintings are bang on, as you can see for yourself if you look at some of the work by artists that she mentions (Dame Laura Knight, for example). 

Melanie's story is good, it plods along at a steady pace and there aren't too many twists or turns - there's a story arc involving a Croatian lady which I find completely unnecessary, but it doesn't take away from the overall feel of the book. It's Pearl's story, however, that made me want to devour this book. It's so beautifully written and it brings the Old Hall alive, if only for a few pages at a time. I also love how the writer wrapped Pearl's story up - it was touching and sentimental without being twee, and it closed the book on a hopeful and happy note despite the reader knowing otherwise from earlier on in the book.

All in all, a solid read and one I'd recommend, if a little too long. It almost reminded me a little of Helen Moorhouse's The Dead Summer (which I reviewed HERE), but without the ghostly element. 

S xx

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book Review: 50 Shades of Grey.

I'm not going to give you a traditional review of this book (I'll do a little one at the end), and I'm not going to go down the hilarious taking-the-mick/parody route that has been done so much better than I ever could (Kitty Catastrophe and Karen, to name my favourites). I'm just going to get a few little things off my heaving bosom. Sorry - my chest. It's infecting me already.


The back cover: 

Romantic, liberating and totally addictive, this is a novel that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

When literature student Anastasia Steele interviews the successful entrepreneur Christian Grey, she finds him very attractive and deeply intimidating. Convinced that their meeting went badly, she tries to put him out of her mind - until he turns up at the store where she works part-time, and invites her out.

Unworldly and innocent, Ana is shocked to find she wants this man. And, when he warns her to keep her distance, it only makes her want him more.

But Grey is tormented by inner demons, and consumed by the need to control. As they embark on a passionate love affair, Ana discovers more about her own desires, as well as the dark secrets Grey keeps hidden away from public view...

It doesn't sound so bad on the back, does it? I actually read the synopsis of this a while back on Amazon when they were running their 2 for 7 deal on paperbacks, and skipped it over in favour of Susan Hill's The Woman in Black. I later succumbed to all the hype and bought it in Tesco for around e7. I can honestly say, that this is without a shadow of a doubt, the worst book I have ever, EVER read, and I have been reading since I was three years old. 

Firstly, as you're all probably aware (or maybe not), this started life as a Twilight fanfic called... eh... Master of the Universe. You can read all about that HERE, where they do a couple of nifty comparisons between the two. Are we all picturing He-Man now? Yes? Good.

I don't know how it was published in its current form. The writing is so juvenile, it's actually hilarious. E.L. James writes as if she's just discovered the existence of  metaphors and similes. "She has her teeth in a book". "He's all muscles and shoulders in his t-shirt". "His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel". I burst out laughing several times while reading it. Also, I'd like someone to tell me what "sandles" are (page 428). Bad editor. BAD. 

What I want to know is, why has the world gone 50 Shades mad?! Apparently, Virgin Atlantic will now be providing an audio copy of the book for their passengers to "enjoy". You can read the article in Cosmopolitan here. I'd like you to read, in particular, this quote from Virgin Atlantic's head of PR Fay Burgin:

"We want to give our female passengers the chance to enjoy the book in an intimate way, away from prying eyes. Of course, we can't promise to spare any blushes and can't be held responsible for any risque* behaviour that listening to the recording inspires."

Are you serious, Fay Burgin? Have you read the book? The only risque behaviour that could possibly be a result of reading this book "in an intimate way" is for someone to have an episode of the  Gerard Depardieu kind from laughing.

I'm interested, also, as to what you picture when you think of Christian Grey. For me, it's now a mash-up of He-Man, Winnie the Pooh (thanks Kitty) and this ungodly creature:

Why have women started declaring Christian Grey as "The Ultimate Man"?! What's so great about a moody prick who likes to control stupid girls? Is this what women want, a brutish bully that throws money at them and makes them feel like shit? Oh, but it's okay, is it, to want to hurt someone every time you look at them, as long as he leaves painkillers? There's nothing sexy about Christian Grey, he's a domineering asshole, yet women are gaga over this fictional idiot. He also appears to have fingers the length of bananas. Or something equally as long and impressive. Are there any Buffy fans among us? Remember the episode Hush? Remember "The Gentlemen"? That.

Type "laters baby" (worst catchphrase EVER) into eBay or Etsy and marvel at the bucketloads of cushions, rings, handcuffs, posters and other various objects emblazoned with that stupid saying. It's ridiculous. I do quite like the cake though. I could eat that cake, even if his lips are a little weird. 

Throughout the book, Ana blushes so much that someone should really send her the No.7 Rosy Tone Colour Control, and bites her lip so much that I imagine by the end of the third book in the trilogy, she'll look like this:

Ana's attitude to technology is also amazingly stupid - she refers to the laptop on more than one occasion as "the mean machine". Ana, it's a Macbook, not Optimus Prime. I won't mention her Inner Goddess for fear of exploding with rage, but I'll say this: Lizzie McGuire has a lot to answer for.

To finish up this incredibly jumbled post, I'm going to leave you with three things. One, the funniest line in the entire book. This is thought by Ana as she's tying her hair up in pigtails:

" The more girly I look, perhaps the safer I'll be from Bluebeard."

Two:  E.L. James, not content with the mysterious weirdo Christian's skeletons and his tortured past, introduces a mysterious 'Situation' to deal with towards the end of the book. Nothing makes me want to rush out and spend another 7 quid like a mysterious Situation.

And finally, Three: My actual review of the story.

50 Shades in 50 Words
Holy Cow. Hips. Long Fingers. Go. Stay. Inner Goddess. Yes.
No. Go. Stay. Cry. Bite Lip. Stay. Go. Taciturn. Breathe.
Holy Cow. Bite Lip. Stay. Go. Long Fingers. Yes. No.
Bite Lip. Cry. Holy Cow. Situation. Inner Goddess. No. Yes.
Bite Lip. Don't. Do. Cry. Long Fingers. Ow. Cry. Cry. 

I don't know how I finished it, but I did. It fried my brain - probably at the base of my medulla oblongata near where my subconscious dwells.

Please don't waste your money. Get a Harlequin Blaze. Or a comic.

S xx

*My keyboard shortcuts aren't working. Imagine there's a fada on the "e". 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Entertaining Bored Children For Under a Fiver.

Nothing to Disclose


Right. If you've got children on school holidays or just a low boredom threshold, then this is for you. I can guarantee that by Day 2 of school holidays here, my eldest has complained at least once that he's bored. It's not easy to have to tell your child that you can't bring them on day trips or to fancy child-oriented events because money is tight, so I thought I'd share a few ideas to combat the boredom and crap weather, and they cost little or nothing. No Dan TDM included.

1: Explore. 
Cost: Nothing.
Whether you live in a city, town, village, or back of beyonds, get out there and explore your local area. If it's raining, so what? Put a coat on and take an umbrella. Pack a lunch, bring your camera, and walk for a half an hour. See where you end up and take the time to appreciate your surroundings, be it fields and forests or streets and buildings. See if you can spot something new, then find somewhere to eat your lunch - a bench, a clearing, a playground. We went exploring last week and it was so much fun. I can't believe I've paid an entrance fee into a park before when I live in this area. Find out about local history, or if anything exciting ever happened near you, then go and see the place. There's an old abbey near us, a motte, a lake - Ireland is full of hidden treasures.

Top: Wellies, Wild Flowers
Bottom: Trying to skim stones, Swan & Babies

Top: Wild Roses, Nature's Coat Stand
Bottom: Bacon Rolls in the Forest, Wild Strawberries

2. Join Your Local Library.
Cost: Free.
I think this should be made compulsory in primary school. I think every child should be given a library card in Junior Infants and be encouraged to read as much as they can. I know that reading isn't for everyone, but a love of books is one of the greatest gifts you can give a child. You can never, ever be bored if you have a book. If you're not a big reader of novels (my other half can't understand why I'd want to read stories that aren't real) then pick something that interests you and go research it for an hour. Whether that be fashion, cars, football, whatever - pick one thing and see if there's anything new you can learn. It's free. Find your local library here: Why not have a story hour with your children? Sit them down, do the funny voices, and keep them entertained for an hour while it's raining. Dr. Seuss or Roald Dahl are both foolproof options for read-aloud stories that make children howl with laughter. Many libraries often hold special reading events or fun readalongs too.

Here's our library haul for this week:

The Dr. Seuss are for me, obvs.

3. Movie Night
Cost: Under €5.00
The cinema's expensive. The last time I went, I paid €1.70 for a child sized bottle of water. You can have movie fun with your children without spending a fortune! Pull the curtains, throw cushions or beanbags on the floor, and put on a film on Netflix or a DVD you haven't seen in ages. There are so many good family movies out there - you don't have to go and spend 20 quid on the latest Disney offering to have a fun movie night. look through your collection and see if there's a classic that you haven't shown your children yet. Mrs. Doubtfire, Look Who's Talking, Honey I Shrunk the Kids and Ghostbusters have all been huge hits in this house, and it's nice to show my son the movies I enjoyed when I was younger. 

Not new movies to us, but young children don't know that!

As for snacks, you can buy a 500g bag of Kelkin popping corn for under €2. Add a handful of seeds to a popcorn maker if you have one, otherwise put 2 tablespoons of vegetable/sunflower oil in a saucepan, add a handful of seeds and it'll pop enough corn for 2 or 3 people. I picked up my popcorn boxes in a Euro shop, but you can just put the popcorn into a big bowl and dig in. Added bonuses? You haven't gorged on pick-n-mix, and you haven't wasted a cent if they don't like the movie.

Those are my top three summer holiday (and all-year-round) lifesavers, but here are some more:

Club Lego
Do you have a lego fan in the house? If so, sign them up to Club Lego here and they'll receive a free two-year subscription to Club Lego magazine. The magazine arrives every 2 months by post, and let's face it - everyone loves to get post, especially little ones. The magazine is full of stories and ideas, and you can also build things and send photos of them into the magazine. My boy loves to try and recreate some of the creations sent in by other readers. Cost: Nothing.

Funny Face Collages/Paper Dolls
Get some magazines, a piece of A4 paper, some glue/sellotape/double-sided tape, and let your children make funny faces. You might want to spend a half hour some night cutting out various heads, bodies, eyes, lips etc for smaller children so that there are no accidents or 'I want that page, don't cut that page' arguments. As a former paper doll addict, I still enjoy anything that involves cutting magazines up. If you have slightly older children, paper dolls are a great idea - pick a person from a magazine, glue their head onto cereal box card, then draw them a body. Cut them out and let your children create outfits for them. Many a summer was spent doing this in our house! Cost: Nothing.

Cooking School
Teach your children how to cook a basic dish depending on their age. My boy is at the cupcake stage, so that goes down well with the under 7s. If they're a little older, teach them the basics - a simple boiled egg and soldiers or a spaghetti bolognese is a brilliant dish for any child to know and it'll help them in the long run. You could also try the tortilla pizzas, children love making and eating these. I posted a recipe a while back, you can find it HERE.  I knew a girl at college who could only make noodles and toast. Please don't let your daughter be that girl. And before you start with the "But I can't cook!" - if you can read and follow instructions, then you can. There are loads of child-friendly recipes at - they'll be serving you dinner in no time! Cost: Nothing (use what you have).

Pen Pals
Have you met people through blogging, facebook or twitter that have children of a similar age to yours? Why not get them to write letters to each other? I used to adore my pen pals when I was younger, and kept writing right up until I became moody & self-obsessed and full of loathing for fellow humans. (I've grown out of it, I promise. Mostly). There was Natalie, who I found through Bunty - we swapped letters, tapes, stickers. There was Emma - we shared a mutual love of nail polish. There was Kelly - we both loved Titanic and anything related to it. I had one in Japan, a couple in America - I think pen pals are a great way to gain an interest in the lives of others, and as I've mentioned before - who doesn't love getting post (that's not a bill)?! There are a number of pen pal websites but to be honest with you, I don't know anything about them and unfortunately in today's society (ugh, can you believe I just used that phrase) you could be introducing your children to anything, so I wouldn't go near the sites unless you know someone who's used them before. Cost: Price of a Stamp.

Make a Scene
Gather up as many raw materials as you can, and let the kids get creative. If you live in a rural town or village, you probably have an annual Agricultural Show. There are usually loads of categories for people to enter their arts/crafts/cooking/produce. Check your local newspaper, library, or information site here: I know it all looks very farmer-oriented, but I promise there is more to an Annual Show than weighing a bullock. Shows vary from place to place, but our local one has categories to showcase knitting, embroidery, jewellery, cooking, baking, card making, handwriting, and hundreds more non-animal things. This year, the children were given category details in school and one of the options was a tennis court scene in honour of Wimbledon - that's what my boy wanted to do, despite my pleading to decorate a pair of wellies:

The net from a multipack of Garlic and Essence Nail Tip Pen FTW!

I hope this has given you a few ideas, it's hard to think of things to do when you're under pressure and it's pouring rain outside.

S xx

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Saturday Night Song #21

Hey guys! I've picked something a little different this week.

I discovered Kate Miller Heidke by accident one evening on Youtube. You know how it goes - you start off looking at the new Katy Perry video, then ten videos later you're in an obscure little corner full of things you've never heard before. I stumbled across Kate's song Caught in the Crowd and spent the next hour watching all the videos I could find. I thoroughly recommend some of her live videos if you're after something different - she's a clever, witty, talented singer with a wicked sharp sense of humour and her personality shines through in every one of her live peformances.

Kate is an Australian singer/songwriter, and this song appears on her current album Nightflight, her third solo studio album.  I loved it instantly and must have hit replay six or seven times. The entire album is well worth a listen, you can get it on Amazon or iTunes.

This song, Sarah, was inspired by true events - the following is from Kate's website:

"This story happened to a friend of mine, one of my best friends from High School, and the story's told from her point of view. It was nearly all real details - I've used some literary licence - but it's mostly real. In Grade 9, her friend went missing at a music festival and two weeks later, just turned up at her parents' house with no memory of where she had been. My friend was never allowed to see her again, because everybody blamed her. To this day, my friend doesn't know what happened, because her parents broke off contact. My friend and I had a sleepover in Grade 10, and she told this story to me over several hours while we were lying in our beds with our lights off. I've never forgotten it. It was a story that has always haunted me."

It's probably ridiculous to anyone from Australia that I'm even describing Kate as 'new', considering her lengthy career, but she is sadly not known very well in these parts. Have you discovered any 'new' or interesting music lately?

S xx

Friday, July 13, 2012

Contest Entry for The Polish Well

Hello! I know I said no more nails but I have to do this to enter a contest so this doesn't count! There's celebrating going on right now over at The Polish Well, and I decided to enter their fantastic nail art contest. The theme is fashion, and you can find the rules here if you'd like to enter.

Here's my stab at it. First, I'll show you my inspiration:

Sources: [Skirt], [Vest], [Earrings], [Bag], [Trainers]

This, or a variation of this, was my absolute favourite 'dressed up' outfit in the mid-90s. I remember my Nana telling me off for buying red runners "What in the name of God did you buy those yokes for, look at the state of them, would you not get white ones, you can't wear them out". I LOVED my converse. I had a grey pair too and  I still think about the day I moved and left them behind me by accident. 

I loved all things sequin and sparkly, and had a vest a lot like this one. The denim skirt was a standard run-of-the-mill dark faded denim skirt, my bag or satchel was faded camouflage and my favourite earrings were peacock feathers. I wanted to choose something that meant something to me rather than just pick a print or pattern. Here's what I came up with:

I stuck, I sponged, I marbled, I drew - what do you think? I'm a lot happier with it in reality (as usual the camera shows up every little flaw) and I've already lost a few rhinestones but overall I like it. 

Have you done any nail art lately? Or seen any cool nail art contests? 

S xx

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dupe: China Glaze For Audrey VS Essence You Belong To Me

Hey guys. I promise this will be the last nail post for a day or two, I don't want to turn this into a nails-only blog, my cuticles couldn't handle it!

A while ago I bought a bottle of China Glaze 'For Audrey' and wore the polish once. I got two comments on it: "Ugh, jaysus, where'd you get that polish?" and "Oh my God I love your nail polish". I felt decidedly meh about it, so ended up swapping it. I've kicked myself so many times since, that eventually I just gave in and bought it again.

I get some of my harder-to-find China Glaze polishes from Beautyzone2007 on eBay, who is very reliable and always has my polish to me within 10 days (pretty good service considering she's in America and I'm in Ireland). This one cost me around e6.40 including postage, which is very reasonable for a brand new full-size product.

The possible dupe is from the Colour & Go range by Essence, it's 'You Belong To Me'.

Here are the swatches - I used two coats of each over a clear base coat.

Inside, no flash

Outside, no flash
I don't know about you, but to me, this is a full-on dupe. In reality, I can't see any difference whatsoever between the polish. The Essence polish costs 1.29 at the moment, but as you all probably know, Essence are changing their colour & go bottles. 

The new bottles are currently being rolled out in other parts of Europe, and will hopefully be with us in late August or early September - the only drawback  is that this particular colour isn't listed on the essence website as part of the new range (but is still listed in the old range) so I don't know if it's being discontinued or not. All the same - if you don't have 'For Audrey', you could do a lot worse than add this little beauty to your stash! Now, if only I could get this song out of my head:

Found any good dupes lately?

S xx

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

NOTD: Natural Collection Shimmer Pink & Essence It's Purplicious!

Hey guys.

Lately I've wanted to try baby pink polishes, in particular Kim-Pletely in Love from the nOPI Kardashian Kolors collection, but I couldn't justify buying two of them within a month, the price is ridiculous.

I saw this pink in Boots last week and picked it up with my advantage card points along with some nail polish remover and cotton pads. It's Natural Collection Shimmer Pink, with an accent nail topped with Essence Special Effect Topper in 01 It's Purplicious!.

The pink is a little darkre in reality, and actually makes my hands look more sallow. It's a really nice pink, and it doesn't wash me out like some pastel colours tend to. It's nothing like Kim-pletely in Love, but it's satisfied me enough.

Just one thing - I want to take a closer look at that Special Effect Topper:

From other swatches I've seen, they've either changed the formula of this polish or it's different here. As you can see, the bottle I have is densely packed with multi-faceted multicoloured small glitters. In other swatches, it seems to be packed with larger purple hex glitter pieces. Just for comparison, here's a screencap of It's Purplicious as currently listed on the Essence website:

It's a completely different polish. Can anyone shed any light on it?

S xx

Monday, July 9, 2012

Book Review: A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks

To try and do something about the fifteen thousand times I hear "Mammy, I'm boreddddddddddddd" on an  average wet day, I rejoined the library and joined the 7 year old up too. Frankly I don't know why I stopped going at all, I just think I forgot about it to be honest. Our local county library only costs 2.50 per year for adults, and it was free for the little man. He was delighted - he came home on Friday afternoon the proud carer of 3 Dr. Seuss books he hadn't read, and some other disgusting looking one about giants and snot. I picked 4 this week - the first of which I read today, it's 'A Bend in the Road' by Nicholas Sparks.


A Bend in the Road is Nicholas' fifth novel, following on from well-loved novels such as The Notebook,  A Walk to Remember and Message in a Bottle. It was published in 2001. Here's the cover stuff:

Miles Ryan's life seemed to end the day his wife was killed in a hit-and-run accident two years ago. Missy had been his first love, and Miles fervently believes she will be his last. As a deputy sheriff in the North Carolina town of New Bern, he not only grieves for Missy, but longs to bring the unknown driver to justice.

Then Miles meets Sarah Andrew. The second-grade teacher of his son, Jonah, Sarah had left Baltimore after a difficult divorce to start over in the gentler surroundings of New Bern. Perhaps it is her own emotional wounds that make her sensitive to the hurt she sees first in Jonah's eyes, and then in his father's. Tentatively, Sarah and Miles reach out to each other. Soon they are both laughing for the first time in years... and falling in love.

Neither will be able to guess how closely linked they are to a shocking secret - one that will force them to question everything they ever believed in... and make a heartbreaking choice that will change their lives forever.

Although I've seen all of the movies based on Nicholas Sparks' books, I've never read any of them. I really liked this one - I loved both main characters. Miles is beautifully written as the grieving widower, the man who is trying his best not to let his obsession over finding out who killed his wife interfere with his daily life. His devotion to his son Jonah is apparent in every exchange between the two. Sarah, too, is dealing with a huge emotional burden - her divorce, and in particular the reasons for the divorce. Hearing that her ex-husband is due to be remarried also hits her in a way she wasn't expecting. Miles is different from any other man she has known, but she is uncertain how he will feel when she reveals some of her past. They're both initially nervous around each other, and it's endearing rather than annoying.

Sarah is Jonah's teacher, and agrees to give him the extra help he needs with his schoolwork after falling behind when his mother died. Miles and Sarah grow closer, until we can see them gradually opening up to each other and falling in love. It's a tender romance, one that isn't rushed, and it culminates in both characters being able to relax and enjoy the company of a kindred spirit.

As expected, something comes along to test their feelings. Miles' obsession with finding out who killed his wife reaches a dangerous level, and when Sarah discovers something disturbing, it puts her in an unenviable position. Will they be able to get through this? And will they still be together at the end of it?

I read this book in one sitting - all 445 pages of it. I couldn't put it down. The story of Miles and Sarah is told to us in the book by an unnamed man - one who is pivotal to the story. I did have my suspicions about who the mysterious male narrator was, but it didn't destroy the story for me when we discovered who it was. There is an underlying theme in the book about forgiveness, but I think it's mainly about how to move on with life and cope with past pain without letting it consume you.

Sparks managed to give both the killer and the victim's wife very similar (if not the same) issues, and I was surprised to find myself rooting for the killer at the end (I use the term 'killer' loosely, by the way). The end is a little bit twee, but all in all I really liked it and I'll be picking up a few more of Nicholas' novels the next time I'm in the library.

I despise the term chick-lit, but I'd describe this as 'chick with a kick'. It's a little meatier than some of the romance novels aimed at women (meaty as in lots to sink your teeth into, not as in that book with the word grey in the title of which we shall not speak) and all the story arcs are interesting and well-written. 

Consider me a new fan.

S xx

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mini Penneys Haul & Essence Snow White NOTD

Hey guys!

I can't pass a branch of Penneys (Primark to any non- Irish peeps) without going in for a look. I have yet to actually enter the shop and just 'look'. It's always a novelty when I'm in a different town, I love to check and see if there's anything that my local branch don't carry.

Yesterday I hit Penneys Mullingar, which is a fairly big branch, bigger than my local Longford one anyway. There were loads of items on sale, and I picked up a few. I thought I'd post a few pictures, because I love seeing other people's haul posts, especially bargain ones. Here's the haul, minus the tights, socks and underwear, obvs.

Bead and Sequin sandals,  €2.00

MASSIVE (seriously, size of the duvet) Leopard/Heart Scarf  €1.00

Yellow Belt  €0.50

Blue Stone Pendant  €0.50

Spike Earrings  €1.50

Essence Snow White Nail File €1.29, Prince Charming topcoat €2.29, 'Grumpy' 
polish €1.99. Angelica UV glitter polish in 'Boogie Nights' & 'Atomic', 
€2.75ea. Double Pack nail polish remover wipes, €1.50

I also got the 'Dopey' polish from the Snow White collection but I'm passing it on because it really doesn't suit me. I was excited about this Trend Edition - I love all things Fairytale! 'Grumpy' is a gorgeous rich royal blue polish, it's actually the exact colour of my Bridesmaids dresses! I found it hard to photograph, but this was probably the closest match to reality:

Two coats, daylight, no flash.
Looking at it now, it's actually even a little darker than that. If I had to describe it, I'd say it was Subaru blue - it's exactly the same colour as my son's Subaru hat. It's so glossy, you can see a lot of reflections in that swatch above - that was just two coats. Application was flawless as usual - don't forget your base coat, I've a feeling this could be a stainer but I'll let you know.

Two coats of Grumpy, one coat of Prince Charming

The colour really comes to life when you add the topper - Prince Charming was the only topper in this collection that I wanted, and I'm not disappointed with the colour. Application, however, wasn't overly fun. As with most toppers that have larger glitter particles, you have to push this round on the nail and it has a tendency to clump. It also takes ages to dry. I do think it's worth it though, it's such a pretty topper. Before I put it over Grumpy, I tried it over the polish I was wearing yesterday, Nicole by OPI "It's All About The Glam" from the Kardashian Kolors collection. 

Three coats of It's All About The Glam with one coat Prince Charming
I almost prefer it over the white, I think it looks just as good as some of the indie glitters that I've been lusting after lately.

So, what do you think? Have you tried any of the Snow White polishes yet? 

Have a lovely Sunday evening,

S xx

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hen Don't

As you probably know if you're one of the lovely peeps I talk to on twitter, I'm getting married this October. I'm doing all the planning myself - I'm not hard to please, and I know what I want. I also love DIY, so I've basically made everything I can make, and bought everything else on a tight budget - believe me, it does not need to cost a fortune.

Anyway - one of the things I was most adamant about was a hen night - or the lack of one. I don't want one. I have no problem with himself having a stag night with the lads, but I won't be doing the whole willy straw/sash/t-shirt thing. Not on your nelly.

I cringe every time I see a photograph on Facebook of a woman on her hen night licking cream off a banana nestled between the oiled-up thighs of a male stripper. If that's your thing - have at it, I'm not going to tell you what to do, but I, personally, would rather lick cream off the cat.

I grew up near Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim - hen party central. Even now, go out in Carrick any Saturday night and you'll meet at least 4 hen parties in the nightclub. Gangs of girls, all dressed in matching outfits or costumes, and all having a ball. And fair play to them, they seem to really enjoy themselves.

I couldn't do it. I couldn't. Fair enough if I'm 'letting the Sisterhood down' or whatever, but I don't have an enormous circle of female friends - in fact, I seem to have 'met' more similar-minded girls online than I know in reality. I can't and never could do the whole 'girls night out' thing - big groups of girls drove me insane, I couldn't hack it. I was (unsurprisingly) not hugely popular - not that it really bothered me, I managed to forge a couple of close friendships with some like-minded females and we're still friends today. Besides, in general, parties and I do NOT agree, I spend most of the night wishing I was at home watching telly, dodging cameras, then I befriend someone with every ache, pain and problem known to man, and when I finally break free and get nice and merry it's time to leave.

Here's the thing - when I say I'm not having a traditional hen night, I am getting the kind of looks one might expect after murdering a group of puppies. "But WHY?! Ohmigod, you can't get married without a proper hen!!!" Um, no, actually you can. Hen nights are surplus to legal requirement. I suggested going to a rally, going paintballing, go-karting, activity day, and not ONE person wanted to do any of them, they all wanted a piss-up in costumes. Fair enough so - in lieu of a hen, I've arranged to go for food with my sister & Mam.

Reading this back, I know I sound like a humourless shite who hates women, but I promise that's not true. It's not the going out part that I despise, it's all the accoutrements that go with it. For example, willy straws, mortifying photographs, printed t-shirts. Veils. L-plates. 

An Irish hen party site has helpful tips to 'humiliate the hen' - ie,  "Make her t-shirt two sizes too small". Puh-lease. You do that to me, you can kiss my arse as I leave. The L-plate thing really gets on my wick too - L is for learner. WHAT ARE THEY LEARNING. How to be a wife? I don't get it. What, are you a 'learner woman' until you get your marriage licence?!

What really cemented my thoughts on "traditional" hen nights happened at approximately 10am today - myself and himself were on the way up to see his Dad in hospital, and we pulled in at a petrol station to get coffee. When we got back on the road, we were behind a minibus decorated with pink balloons. It was full of women going on a hen - and two gals were sitting at the back window, waving two giant dildos at us and taking pictures of our reactions. I probably would have found that hilarious - never.

What are your thoughts? Do you embrace the (figuratively speaking) willies and sashes, or would that be your idea of a nightmare too? Would any other brides-to-be prefer a stag night? (I'd LOVE a stag night).

Or am I just getting old and bitchy before my time...

S xx

Random Stupid Postscript - Things I learned whilst writing this post:

  • Adam Ant is a play on the word adamant. (I have never copped this, slap me).
  • The word nestle is spelled the same as the brand nestle. I shall now forever pronounce the word nestled as "nest-laid".

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Indpendence Day NOTD

Julius Levinson: David. What the hell are you doing?
David Levinson: Making a mess.
Julius Levinson: Yes, this I can see.

I'm a big fan of disaster movies, it has to be said. Plonk me in front of a tv and give me some regular guys who turn into McGyver halfway through the movie, end up saving the world from aliens/earthquakes/robots/ice, and I'm happy. 

In honour of the great American holiday that is Independence Day, I was going to go all quirky and do some movie-themed art, but the prospect of drawing Will Smith on my nails didn't appeal to me as much as the prospect of drawing a bald eagle with a cocktail stick did.Here you go:

L-R: Sally Hansen Hard as Nails, Catrice 'Pool Party at Night', Revlon
'Revlon Red', and W7 'Snow White'.
Step One: Pretty Decent...
Step Two: Wobbly, but acceptable in reality.

Step Three: Tackorama! Little finger was horrendously smudged.
If you're celebrating, I hope you have a fantastic day.

Cross-Stitch card I did ages ago. Looks suspiciously French.
Happy Independence Day!

S xx