Monday, December 23, 2013

China Glaze Happy Holiglaze Swatches


I have a few swatches from the recent "Happy Holiglaze" collection from China Glaze. At first glance, nothing really jumped out at me from this collection - but I actually really like a couple of polishes from it. I bought a set of 4 mini polishes called "Be Bright" from Salon Supply Store on eBay a while ago (link) - I love China Glaze minis, they are a very generous 9.6ml compared to other brands. CoughOPIcough.

[Source: eBay, link in post]
The four colours in this set are (L-R) Your Present Required, Be Merry Be Bright, Bells Will Be Blinging, and Mingle With Kringle.

Today I have some swatches of Your Present Required, Be Merry Be Bright, and Mingle With Kringle that I've accumulated over the past two weeks or so. First up - Your Present Required.

It's a thick multiglitter with hexes of various sizes. This was two coats on its own. I definitely think it would look a lot better over a dark polish, but I think that of every glitter!

Next up is Be Merry, Be Bright - another glitter.

This was on the lesser-spotted left hand, apologies forth e dodgy nail shapes!!

I'm not mad about either polish to be completely honest. I think I'm coming to the end of my super-glitter love affair - this always happens to me at the end of Winter, I seem to overdose on glitter polish from August onwards and I get totally sick of it. Both polishes apply well and I didn't have to go fishing for particles, but they were just a bit....meh.

The next one I tried was the gold foil, Mingle with Kringle.

I LOVE this polish. It's super shiny, much brighter and shinier than some other golds I own - in the bottle it reminded me of OPI Goldeneye but it's a few shades lighter and much less of a pain in the bum to remove. Definitely a favourite, and this year's Christmas Day polish pick.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Irish Bbloggers Secret Santa Reveal!


I took part in the recent Secret Santa that the gorgeous and lovely Aisling from Total Make Up Addict organized - I made the closing date by the skin of my teeth! Aisling matched up several Irish beauty bloggers and we all received the name and address of the person we had to buy for. I was matched with Sarah from RaRa Giggles, and I was delighted when I got her - she's a lovely girl and it was lovely to be able to buy her something nice.

I felt a bit sorry for whoever had gotten me - I can be a bit awkward to buy for, but the absolutely wonderful Anne Marie from Girl Friday's Beauty Blog did a fantastic job and gave me one of two presents I received this year that I will truly treasure forever. I have no shame in saying that I cried!

First of all, when I opened the envelope I pulled out a magazine -  this is a pro hair & beauty magazine that had a nail art supplement with it, which I thought was so nice! I'm saving it for Christmas Day, I love having something to read after dinner and I will really enjoy having a flick through it.

Next there was a really cute stocking - Anne Marie put my presents into a gorgeous snowman stocking instead of using wrapping paper which I thought was ingenious - I'd never have thought of that! Plus, now I have my own stocking :)

Inside were a host of nail goodies - a really cute Models Own glitter and polish set, a gorgeous hand cream from The Body Shop, some nail stickers, and two fab polishes from the Precious Polish "Not so Silent Night" collection. I also got a beautiful card.

I was thrilled with the polishes - I'd been meaning to order some from the collection and I'd completely forgotten about it, so I was delighted to find them here! Great job with the new labels too Anita, hopefully 2014 will be a great year for Precious Polish.

Finally, there was a little gift bag that contained this next thing - not strictly part of the Secret Santa, but a beautiful Christmas gift. Our little family went from 3 to 5 this year, and Anne Marie sent this to mark the occasion:

It's absolutely gorgeous and I will treasure it forever, it did make me cry to realise that we do have our own little family! A day or two later, I received another beautiful gift from a lady I consider a friend but have also yet to meet - lovely Róisín from Cuti-Clue-les sent me this:

To receive such gorgeous personal, thoughtful, heartfelt gifts from lovely ladies I haven't had the pleasure of meeting in person yet made me realise that there is so much more to the word "friend" than someone you see every few days. I am truly blessed to have gotten to know some wonderful people through twitter and blogging - a couple of years ago I genuinely led a very, very boring life and with the exception of my gorgeous sister, had no real interaction with anyone who shared my interests. The blogging community and in particular the Irish Beauty Blogging community have changed all that - even though I am here in the house mostly all day with small children, I feel like I still know what's going on, I'm still having the craic, and I still get to join in with things. It's invaluable and I'm so grateful to be a little part of it.

So - a huge thanks to Aisling for spreading such a huge dose of Christmas Cheer around, and a huge thank you to Anne Marie who really put a serious amount of thought into choosing my gifts, I really really appreciate every second you spent in picking out something for me. Thank you also Róisín for such a thoughtful present.

I will treasure both decorations forever - I have a piddly little tree due to the fact that baby things seem to be multiplying and slowly taking over the house, but they have brightened it and us up no end. Sincerely, thank you x

Merry Christmas xx

Monday, December 16, 2013

Big Bumper Book Post!


I don't know about you, but Christmas isn't Christmas without some new books. As a child, my favourite part of Christmas Day was after dinner, when I'd curl up on the armchair with my newest Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley High, and Point Horror books. This would continue well into Christmas week, until I'd devoured them all. I thought I'd take the chance to talk books while this is happening:

A while back, I was sent two beautiful books from the amazing Designer Classics series from the publishing division of ROADS, an amazing new Irish lifestyle company. There are ten books in the series, and while the stories haven't changed, the books have evolved into contemporary, stylish, beautiful publications - almost design pieces in themselves. The amount of thought and care that has gone into each one is amazing - I was sent The Great Gatsby and Notes From Underground.

The others in the series are Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights, The Scarlet Letter, Madam Bovary, To The Lighthouse, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Hound of the Baskervilles and Heart of Darkness. They cost €12.50/£9.99 each and are available from all good bookshops - they make a beautiful present, I know I certainly wouldn't object to finding a couple under the Christmas tree.

Next up is a relatively new avenue for me - the e-book. I was adamant that I was not going to enter the world of e-reading, making many speeches about how I need to touch and feel a book to enjoy it - but I have been proven wrong! While I will never stop buying actual books (as the ROADS books above demonstrate - they are things of beauty) I am really enjoying the whole e-book experience and am enjoying adding to my arsenal of literature.

I was blessed with a great husband but alas one who is afraid of chemists and with no interest in online shopping, so he gives me money every Christmas and tells me to go and treat myself. Usually I end up doing more Christmas shopping but this year, I did treat myself - among the things I picked up was a Kobo touch e-reader. I got mine on Littlewoods for the very reasonable price of €64 incl. delivery.

My reasons for buying the Kobo were twofold - firstly, I haven't a whole lot of free time to read anymore. I usually end up reading while I'm feeding one of the babies, and it's really difficult to turn a page and feed a baby at the same time. Enter Kobo!! All I have to do to turn the page is tap the screen, with the result that I'm really enjoying reading again. Secondly, Alex Marwood, the author of the best book I read this year released her second novel, The Killer Next Door on December 5th. For some unknown reason, it won't be available in this neck of the woods until June next year, meaning I had to get it as an e-book. I got it on Amazon, delivered to Kindle to PC, then used a great free programme called Calibre to convert it to e-pub and put it onto the Kobo.

I also bought some other e-books, a selection of which I have here (all images from amazon):

Sharon Osbourne - Unbreakable. I really enjoyed this. It covers the period from the year Sharon appeared on the X factor with Dannii Minogue right up until the beginning of this year's series. Her honesty in describing her problems in her marriage is admirable and at times heartbreaking. Her love for her children and grandchild is evident in every sentence she writes about them - she just seems like someone I would love in my corner.

Helen Fielding - Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy. Oh Helen. I hated this book with a fiery passion. It actually felt like I was reading fanfic - it's laughable. The lines "what colour are your knickers, Jones?" and "It's raining men" are in here. Bridget is in her fifties - by no means over the hill, but she is acting even sillier than she did in the first two books. I read over a hundred pages and then had to stop, I couldn't take any more. I've reviewed it in full over on Goodreads, but it's not pretty. Quite obviously made for film, not for the enjoyment of any reader.

Stephen King - Doctor Sleep. The sequel to The Shining. I haven't read this yet, but I'm looking forward to it. If you've ever wondered what became of young Danny Torrance, then you need to pick this up!

Elizabeth Smart - My Story. In 2002, 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped by a religious fanatic where she endured horrific abuse for over a year until she managed to escape. This book has received mixed reviews, but I want to give it a go anyway.

Stephen King - The Shining. I wanted to re-read this book before starting Doctor Sleep. I haven't read it since I was in my teens, and even though I know what happens, it's not spoiling my reading experience. If anything, I think I'm enjoying it more because I'm not rushing to see what happens. If you haven't read it, you should give it a go. It's the wonderfully written story of a man slowly going insane while he and his family are the sole occupants of a creepy hotel, The Overlook. Jack Torrance, former alcoholic with an anger problem, thinks that taking the job as Winter caretaker will be the ideal opportunity to finish writing his play and reconnect with his wife and young son after some troublesome times. Instead, he truly discovers the meaning of the words "cabin fever" and comes face-to-face with demons in every sense of the word.

Jojo Moyes - The Girl You Left Behind. Jojo Moyes didn't feature highly on my radar before I read Me Before You and The Last Letter From Your Lover (reviewed here) this year. The Girl You Left Behind is a crossover between a French artist's wife in 1916 and a young woman in the present day, both experiencing love and loss.

Cecelia Ahern - How to Fall in Love. I didn't like this. I do tend to switch my brain off when I read a Cecelia Ahern book - that's not me being nasty, I find her books really good when I can't find the energy to tackle a big tome and want to dive into a world of love, humour and friendship - but this was unrealistic and silly. I couldn't get past the fact that this supposedly sensible woman took a huge risk with her safety by inviting someone into her life so soon and so intensely. It attempts to deal with serious mental issues but in reality the main female lead comes off as unhinged and obsessive. Reviewed here.

Liane Moriarty - The Husband's Secret. I'm really looking forward to reading this one. Imagine if your husband wrote you a letter containing his deepest, darkest secrets. A letter only to be read after his death. Now imagine that you've just found it - while your husband is still alive. I'm not familiar with the writing of Liane Moriarty, but I find the premise really intriguing and I can't wait to get stuck in!

Finally, I want to focus on a couple of children's books - I never wanted to force the issue of reading on to my eldest son, but I'm delighted that he has turned out to be a huge reader. This year, as always, I've picked up a couple of books for him including:

Jeff Kinney - Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Hard Luck. My son is a huge fan of this series, so I had to pick up the latest installment in the series about young Greg and his experiences at school. I find these books great for encouraging chats about what's going on with my own boy at school.

The Lego Ideas Book. I've lost count of the amount of lego sets I've bought only for them to be made and left to one side. This is a deadly book that has loads of illustrations and ideas on how to make new and exciting things without having to buy specific kits. I can see this one being a huge favourite!

Olympic & World Records. I picked this one up in Heatons for under a tenner. While not a major fan of sports, my boy is a huge fan of facts and really enjoyed watching the Olympics last year. This is a great big hardback book full of Olympic related statistics.

Emer Stamp - The Top Secret Diary of Pig. This is a really funny story, it's essentially the tale of a pig who loves his farmer - why wouldn't he? Farmer calls him sausage, feeds him slops, and makes sure he's getting nice and fat.........written in a diary form, in "pig-style", this will go down a storm with  6-9 year olds.

Please buy at least one book as a present this year. Even if it's just a picture book - books are such a great present and it's so nice to encourage reading. You'll never be alone as long as you have a book. If you have any book suggestions, fire ahead in the comments!

The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read - Mark Twain.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Essie Warm and Toasty Turtleneck vs MUA Moody Mink


When I purchased Essie's Warm and Toasty Turtleneck recently, I was struck by its similarity to a nail polish I'd bought during the summer. MUA's Moody Mink is a dusky mauve cream that's equally as flattering on pale skin as the Essie offering from the Shearling, Darling collection.

They're not as similar as I'd initially thought, though. While they're hard enough to tell apart in real life, you can instantly tell them apart from swatches. The Essie is a warmer, cosier shade while the MUA is cooler. Here they are side-by-side, indoors, with flash:

And indoors, no flash.

All pictures show two coats, no topcoat.

Overall I think I prefer the Essie shade (Essie are fast becoming one of my favourite brands, the application and formula are just flawless on every single one I've tried so far) but for a quick fix, the MUA is excellent quality and an amazing bargain at just £1.

Not a colour I ever thought I'd pick up, but I'm glad I got both - they're flattering, warm, and make an excellent base for unusual glitter combinations.

Bizarrely, in the last photograph, it looks like four different shades, but it's just the light. Definitely not a dupe, but similar enough so that you don't need them both, unless you're really into those dusky kind of colours.

As always, I purchased the Essie from Salon Supply Store on eBay, and the MUA direct from their site.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Essie Toggle To The Top vs Leading Lady


I recently purchased 3 polishes from Essie's new Fall 2013 "Shearling Darling" collection. The ones I chose were Warm and Toasty Turtleneck, a dusky mink; The Twill of It, a purple/green duochrome, and Toggle To The Top, a black-based red glitter.

When I got them, I realised that I had probable dupes for all 3 shades already in my collection. I don't know why this happens - it's like a mental block. I've a China Glaze collection on the way and I could already pick out at least 4 dupes for one of the polishes. This nail polish lark does funny things to the brain...

Anyway, I've a dupe for Warm and Toasty Turtleneck to show you later on in the week, but for now, the ones I was most interested to compare were Toggle To The Top and last year's holiday red glitter, Leading Lady. I missed LL first time around and bought it on eBay earlier this year. To my shame, I hadn't even swatched it.

I also pulled out a few other red glitters from my stash - left to right we have O.P.I Stay The Night, China Glaze Ruby Pumps, Essie Leading Lady, Essie Toggle To The Top, Deborah Lippmann Ruby Red Slippers, and China Glaze Lubu Heels.

Here's a look at the swatch wheel outside -

And a blurry one inside:

I think the blurred photo especially shows that none of these are outright dupes for one another. The three in the middle there - Ruby Pumps, Leading Lady and Toggle To The Top are most similar, but Ruby Pumps is a much finer glitter.

On to a look at the two Essies side by side:

They look incredibly similar in the bottle. So much so that there was an audible "shite" when I opened the packet and saw the 2013 offering. However - it's a different story when you get them on the nail.

Toggle is practically a one-coater. It's a jelly-like consistency in a dark base and it's packed with raspberry coloured glitters. Leading Lady is in a red base and needs a second coat. Both are shown here with two coats of polish and one coat of Poshé.

They're very, very similar, but they're not the same. Application is also different, Toggle being a joy to apply. If you have Leading Lady and adore it, then you probably don't need Toggle, but if you have Leading Lady and think that you'd like something just a tiny bit darker and a tiny bit thicker - then Toggle is worth picking up.

I buy my Essies from the very reliable Salon Supply Store on eBay - the 3 I chose cost me less than €18 including international shipping.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Rimmel Space Dust - Aurora


I picked this up on a whim when I was recently repurchasing some Rimmel foundation (or as my husband once declared "I picked it up on a wimp"). Space Dust wasn't a line I'd heard of before. It cost me €5.49 which is dear enough for a small polish, but there was no way I was leaving without it. I'm SO glad I bought it - it turned out to be a textured sand style polish.

The texture is very much like O.P.I's liquid sand polishes, maybe even a tiny bit less gritty, but for a fraction of the price. Aurora is a dusky light pink shade, reminiscent of a pinker version of Sally Hansen's Razzle Dazzler from their Gem Crush line. It's really flattering on short nails, and looks gorgeous beside pale skin. Here it is in direct sunlight:

And inside, with a flash:

You can see the mixture of different sizes of glitter. It doesn't feel overly gritty or textured on the nail, which is a huge plus for me. Here's a close up:

Aurora is a gorgeous little find and I'll definitely be purchasing some of the others in the range if I can find them, in particular Total Eclipse, a dark vampy green/black; Shooting Star, a white; and Moon Walking, a purple. There's also a hot pink one called Luna Love which isn't to my taste, but is still a pretty polish. I'm 3 days in with this shade and there's not a chip in sight, making it perfect for the Christmas season when you're too busy watching Eastenders and eating chocolate to bother with frequent nail painting.

One of my favourite polishes of 2013 for sure.

Monday, November 4, 2013

NOTD featuring Ireland's first Indie Nail Polish Brand!


Image: Anita's Beauty Spot

I love nail polish. We all know this. I also love buying unique or special things - even better if I can support a small business or entrepreneur in the process. When I heard that Anita of Anita's Beauty Spot had started her own line of nail polishes, including a custom option, I purchased one immediately. I worked with Anita via e-mail to create my own custom shade, and it arrived a few weeks ago - I finally got the chance to try it out this weekend.

My custom shade is a yellow-toned green with small holographic glitters. Initially I was going to try it over a similar base colour, but I said I'd try it on its own to see how opaque it is. I used a clear base coat in case of staining (I'm taking no more chances with greens, blues or yellows - I suffered the consequences of underwear-free Minions all summer). The swatches here are using three coats of Miss GreenEyes and one coat of Poshé to add a bit of gloss.

Here's a closer look at the polish in the bottle:

And on my nails, indoors:

And indoors again, with flash:

Precious Polish contains no camphor, DBP, toluene, formaldehyde, or formaldehyde resin. The glitters used are solvent resistant, and all polishes are made to order. If you want to place an order for any of the current polishes available, visit Anita's store or e-mail her. You can also reach her on facebook or twitter. A custom polish will set you back the incredibly reasonable price of €8 including standard postage, while a shade from her current collections (exluding the Blogger Collection) costs €7. There's a recorded delivery option for an extra €2.50 if you deem it necessary.

Anita has also teamed up with some brilliant Irish beauty bloggers to create six special shades - you can check it out here. They cost €8 each, with shades designed by RaraGiggles, GirlFriday, CutiClueLes, Not Just Inside, The Nail Affair, and The Glamour Nazi.

All in all I'm super impressed with the quality of the polish, I only have a couple of Indies but Precious Polish definitely holds its own amongst them. It's nice to see really well pigmented shades too. The polish applied well and lasted well. If I had any criticism it would be maybe a different label, but in all honesty that's just nitpicking, because it's genuinely a great product and I'm delighted to finally see an independent polish maker emerge on our shores.

Definitely not my last purchase.

***Disclaimer: I bought and paid for this polish myself with my own money, but did receive a blogger discount of 10%.***

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween NOTD with KKCenterHK and China Glaze

***A product in this post was provided free of charge. Opinions are 100% mine.***


Although I'm still on a blogging hiatus of sorts, I couldn't let Halloween go by without marking the occasion. With that in mind, I have something to show you that I've been holding back for AGES - some amazing nail water decals from KKCenterHK.

The decals I was sent are here - Halloween Decals - and cost under $3. Here's a closer look.

I'd never used decals before, but they were really easy - first, I chose my base colours. A black pumpkin polish and Catrice Yellow Sub-Mandarin.

Then, I cut out the individual decals I wanted to use, gripped them with a tweezers, soaked them in water, and positioned them on my nails. They weren't too slippery, and were easily sealed with a layer of Poshé. I added a few gold studs, because... yeah. Must use ALL the embellishments!

I'll definitely be buying more decals, there are hundreds of different designs to choose from and they're really good quality.

In case decals aren't quite your thing (my husband HATED them), I have a great Halloween polish for you - this one is from China Glaze's 2013 Monsters Ball collection.

Guess why I bought this. Go on.

Anyway - this is just one coat of Howl You Doin' over Catrice Yellow Sub-Mandarin

It's a thick flakie glitter polish in a kind of purple-black base. It's really much more opaque than I thought it would be, and it's definitely a polish you could get a pretty decent application from if you were in a rush. 

It's a hard enough polish to capture, here's a look at it outside, complete with a lovely black pumpkin graphic to cleverly conceal a yucky hangnail. Genius, aren't I? 

You can really see how loaded this polish is - it's definitely one of my 2013 must haves, and probably the only one I'll buy from the Monsters Ball collection.

I'll hopefully be back with another post in a few days - I'm writing in between feeds/changes/trying to find time to have a wee/make a cup of coffee/carve a pumpkin - (observe my attempt at The Joker below, epic fail), but in the meantime - have a great Halloween!