Wednesday, June 26, 2013

DIY: Nail Art with Studs and Striping Tape


Studs are probably one of my favourite things to use in nail art, followed closely by striping tape. Striping tape makes your lines so even and neat, and it's readily available in little bundles on eBay for next to nothing. The studs I'm using today are on eBay here and cost $1.19 (€0.99/£0.77) with free shipping for 300 gold/silver studs. You can get 10 rolls of striping tape on eBay here for $0.99 (€0.76/£0.64) with free shipping.

For this, I used Orly La Vida Loca, Color Club Bright Night, some studs and some tape. I had planned on going over the lines with Barry M Gold Foil but I completely forgot. Here's what I used:

Base coat, Top Coat, Acetone, Polish, Striping tape, studs, tweezers, dotting tool, blu-tac.
I thought I'd take a few pictures when I was doing them to show you that it's not as hard as it looks to do nail art at all.

Start off with two coats of your chosen base colour, then add a topcoat. Wait until this is completely dry, otherwise the tape will pull off lumps of your polish. The topcoat stops the colours running into each other. This nail art would also be really good on the third or fourth day of a mani, if you want to cover tipwear or a chip.

Pretty self-explanatory! Lining up the tape is the most fiddly bit, but you can play around with it until you're happy with it. Remember the polish will be going up to the outside of the tape, so that's where you need to get your clean line. I removed the tape with tweezers right after applying the polish in picture 2, this is crucial to get a clean line. Just grab the tip with tweezers and gently peel it off. As you can see by the third picture, I'm in no way neat, so don't worry if you do that, you can clean it when it dries. In picture 4, I've used a blob of blu-tac on the end of a dotting tool to pick up the studs a little easier. Place that on the nail while the polish is still wet. Leave the polish to dry, clean up, and add a topcoat. I used a small bit of acetone on a brush to gently remove anything that shouldn't be there.

You can use striping tape in loads of different ways:

This is handy if you want to do neon tips, alternative french tips, or just play around with designs. If you want to do stripes on your nails, just use two or more pieces of tape:

Don't worry about being messy, it can all be cleaned up afterwards. When you're happy with your designs, just add a topcoat, clean up, use some cuticle oil or hand cream (I prefer hand cream), and you're done!

You can use any or all of those methods to do a huge variety of nail art looks, you really don't need much skill at all to get really eye-catching nails. If you don't have a steady hand - that's what acetone is for!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Book Review: Jojo Moyes - The Last Letter From Your Lover


I have only recently started reading Jojo Moyes' books - I've no idea why I was so late to that particular party, but I got there eventually with the purchase of Me Before You a few months ago. I devoured it, I adored it, I cried at the end, then I cried again because I had finished it. You know something is good when you actually miss it, and that's how I felt after reading Me Before You. I picked another of her novels up a few weeks ago, the 2010 release The Last Letter From Your Lover.

Image Source: booktopia
As always, I'll start off with the back cover:

"Know this at least: somewhere in this world is a man who loves you... 
A man who has always loved you and, to his detriment,
suspects he always will."

1960. Jennifer Stirling lives a life of luxury with her wealthy husband. On paper, she has it all. In reality, she's dangerously devoted to another man who is asking her to risk everything...

2003. Ellie Haworth works as a journalist for a national newspaper and is in love with a charming writer. On paper, she should be happy. In reality, her career is foundering and the man who holds her heart belongs to someone else...

When Ellie stumbles upon a set of passionate love letters from the 1960s, both women's lives entwine. And as she pieces together the fragments of the past romance, what she unearths dramatically transforms her life, and Jennifer's in the process.

The book starts off in the present day, from Ellie's point of view. She's involved with a married man, running away from all the problems in her life, and refuses to believe that she is anything other than blissfully happy. When she discovers a love letter from the 1960s, it has such a profound effect on her that she resolves to get to the bottom of it.

From about page 20 on, we are taken back in time to the 1960s to the life of Jennifer Stirling and her husband Laurence - a wealthy, successful, glamourous couple. Jennifer has just woken up from a car accident that left her with a damaged arm and a head injury that rendered her unable to remember great chunks of her life. To the outside world, Jennifer and Laurence are the perfect couple. But all is not well - along with Jennifer's partial memory loss, there are a circle of people who seemingly don't want her to remember every detail of her life before the accident, a husband who is losing his patience at her inability to just accept the here and now and stop asking questions, a housekeeper who knows more than she's letting on - and Jennifer is left feeling like a huge part of her life is missing.

When she stumbles upon letters written with more passion and love for her than she could ever imagine her husband showing, she is determined to find out more about who wrote them, what happened to him, and why they aren't together.

I LOVED the way this book was written. I loved that the majority of the book was entirely devoted to Jennifer's story, and the romance was so beautiful and passionate. I loved that we weren't jumping from the 60s to the 00s every second chapter - because Ellie's story, while the catalyst for later events, is not the main point of this book, and to be honest, I didn't find her very likeable. I adored Jennifer and her lover. The longing they had for each other in their encounters had me in tears more than once.

I don't want to say too much in case I spoil it, which I would hate to do, because it's truly such a beautiful story to watch unfold - but I can say that I picked this up at 12 pm today and couldn't put it down until I had every last page read. Not too many books do that for me anymore - I've some on my reading list that I'm dreading trying to get through.

An utterly timeless love story - make sure you have tissues for the end.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Book Review - The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood


I haven't done a book review here in a while, so I thought I'd do one on this, one of the books I bought last month.

Alex Marwood is the pseudonym of a press journalist currently living in London. The Wicked Girls is a crime/thriller, was published in 2012, and if you haven't read it, you need to put it on your must-read list. Now.

Back cover spiel:

The noise was overwhelming, the feral, chanting voices of strangers wanting justice.


Twenty-five years ago two little girls were imprisoned for murder. Now journalist Kirsty Lindsay is reporting on a series of sickening attacks on young women and her investigation leads her to cleaner Amber Gordon.

For Kirsty and Amber, it is the first time they have seen each other since that dark day when they were children. Aware of the danger they are in and with new identities - and families - to protect, they will do anything it takes to keep their wicked secret hidden...

When I initially started reading this book, it took a while to get into it. I think I was trying to guess what was going to happen, which is a really bad habit of mine. Once you relax into it, it gets absorbing pretty quickly. Both female leads are strong characters, and they're so well-developed, I felt like I really knew them both by the end of the book. It's difficult to write a really comprehensive review without revealing a load of spoilers, but I'll try and give you some idea of what to expect from it. 

What lengths would you go to to protect the ones you love? What would you do if you were getting on with your life, and suddenly had to deal with the worst event in your past all over again? That's what happens to Amber and Kirsty.

While we already know from the cover that the two girls committed a terrible offence all those years ago, we don't know the circumstances or the actual events surrounding that fateful day - until all is slowly revealed in short flashback chapters. It left me feeling slightly different about the whole lot - I didn't have sympathy for either, initially, but that had changed a little bit by the end.

Would things have turned out differently if both girls had been given exactly the same opportunities to get their lives back on track after that horrific day? One of the women had to fight for everything she had, while the other seemed to have a little more encouragement. One was punished, while the other one was not only punished, but expected to know and do better. Both women ended up with very different outcomes at the end - begging the question, as I put forward in my synopsis of the book on Goodreads (there's a button over there on the right sidebar if you want to be my friend there), are we a product of our genes, or our environment?

Who knows - but it is a very scary prospect to think of something in your past rearing its ugly head right out of the blue. I think that's what was the most frightening thing for me (not that I've a load of skeletons, but y'know) - the actions of an unrelated person brought the past mistakes of both these girls right back to haunt them. The tension bounces off the page, and I felt sick for the characters more than once. 

An absolutely brilliant piece of writing, and unlike another popular crime novel that everyone seems to be reading at the minute, this one has an ending worthy of the rest of the book.

Highly recommended.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

90's Nails #3: Animaniacs


I just haven't been in the humour for doing nail art lately, but when I heard Animaniacs mentioned three times in the last week, I knew they had to be my next inspiration for my 90's nails series.

Animaniacs was the most awesomely witty and clever cartoon series to air throughout the 1990's, and you can read an entire comprehensive history of the show in this amazing post over on Did you know that Dot was voiced by the lady who also voices Principal Skinner's mother in The Simpsons?

I wasn't sure whether I wanted to do my actual favourites Pinky and the Brain, Good Idea/Bad Idea, or some kind of variety - in the end I kept it simple with the Warner Brothers (and Warner Sister). For the base colour on my nails, I used Sinful Colors 'Rainstorm' sponged with a little bit of MUA 'Frozen Yoghurt'. I then applied a topcoat and painted Wakko, Yakko, and Dot with acrylic paint and a tiny nail art brush. On the thumb, I attempted a tiny Wheel of Morality but I really didn't have enough room to go into any great detail. Also, I know the WB logo is supposed to be yellow, but I needed a little orange/red accent to make it look like something other than a yellow blob.

The wheel looks pretty gross close up, but I only really put it there so I wouldn't have a nudey thumb. The Wheel of Morality was at the end of every episode and featured a spin of the wheel to learn a life lesson (or win a prize that never materialized) - my favourite one was "Early to rise and early to bed makes a man healthy, but socially dead."

Hey, they're not perfect (Yakko has a distinct lack of whiskers) but I'm happy with them and they make me smile.

One thing I loved about the Animaniacs was that they did innuendo in a way that wasn't obvious to children, but absolutely hilarious to teens and adults watching the show. After a particularly dodgy joke, Yakko would blow a kiss to the screen and shout "Goodnight Everybody!" as if they were about to be taken off the air. Here's one of their now legendary dirty jokes involving Prince:

And here's the theme tune, you know you know it.

You can check out my first two 90's Nails here:

Okay, I love you, bye bye!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

My life in Perfume


A while ago, I read this post over on The Gloss in which Jennifer listed some of the perfumes she'd worn at different times in her life. I've always been a perfume lover, so I thought it was a deadly idea to do my own version, going through ten perfumes that made an impact on me at one point or another.

All perfume bottle images from the epic holy grail perfume site that is

Secondary School

Ah, good old ex'cla-ma'tion and so...? - much beloved by First Years who wanted to smell like grown-ups and favoured by Aunts who didn't have a clue what to buy you for Christmas. I'm almost 30, and I still have an Aunt who buys me bottles of So...? - not the original one, the sinful one. It's actually not too bad, a bit overpowering and tween-y, but not completely gross. I think every single girl I knew wore one or both of these circa 1995.

First Fancy Perfume

When I was in 4th year, I got a Friday evening/Saturday job in a local Supermarket. One of the first "proper" things I bought (as opposed to imported US teen magazines and Spectacular nail polish) was one of those crap gas hair stylers that used a whole gas cylinder to straighten my hair once, the other was a small 30ml bottle of Ralph Lauren Romance. I bought it on a total whim after smelling a tester in the chemist, and I adored it. It reminds me of Winter 1998 when the car broke down and I had to walk home from the crossroads wearing stupid high boots, a horrible too-big charity shop duffel coat, and a big scarf drenched in this.

Leaving Cert Perfume - AKA Teen Rebel

The least said about the year 2001, the better. I mainly bought Givenchy Oblique Play because my mother absolutely detested the smell, but I grew to adore it. I don't adore the memories it brings back - mainly of buying it in Dublin and drowning myself in it before meeting a pig of an ex (that same evening, the heel snapped right off my brand new sandal, should have taken that as an omen) the evening of the Westlife gig at The Point, but I do still have a fondness for that sickly sweet smell.

Off To College

Davidoff Cool Water is still one of my all-time favourite perfumes and I must pick up another bottle if the original is still available. I first bought this in mid 2001, and by the time I started college that September, I was already on my second bottle. It immediately brings to mind all the things I loved about college - the nights out, the wild weekends, the spur-of-the-moment day trips, the bike rallies, the friends - an amazing time.

The Grown-Up Perfume

The world and its mother wore this for a year or two after it was released - I bought my first bottle around 2002-2003, when I was doing a computer course. I hadn't yet met my future husband, I was earning good money in a part-time job, and generally spending like a mad woman - I think I went through three bottles of this stuff, I thought it was the most grown-up, seductive, sexy perfume I'd ever smelled - until it got to the point where every second woman you passed would reek of it. I think I overdosed, I can't stand the smell of it now.

Presents from A Boy

I met my now-husband in 2003, and over the course of 10 Birthdays, 10 Valentines and 10 Christmases, he has given me exactly three perfumes. Oh, how the romance dies quickly.........anyway. The first one he gave me was the DKNY for one of my Birthdays, and I know for a fact his older sister picked it because she wore it. Hence we all smelled the same any time we went out together. The smell of it reminds me of a trip to Stratford-on-Avon. Good times! The next one he bought me was Deep Night by Ghost (possibly for Christmas?), which reminds me of being pregnant with our first son. It's such an odd perfume to describe - it's sweet, but really dark at the same time.  The final one reminds me of another Christmas - he got me Dior Pure Poison as a Christmas gift and gave it to me IN the chemist. Then we went in to Tesco to get a CD (Tommy Fleming, puke) and our then infant son roared the place down and we had to walk out. I still love that Dior scent so much -  I haven't been able to justify the price since (my original bottle was bought in the boom, damn you Celtic Tiger) but I have been known, on occasion, to splash out on a bottle of the Pure Poison Shower Gel.

The Wedding/Honeymoon Perfume

I'd gotten a sample of Lancôme's La Vie Est Belle before the wedding and fell in love with it immediately, but couldn't justify another bottle of perfume so soon after buying a Cavalli one called Serpentine that I bought blind and ended up loathing on me. We didn't go on a traditional honeymoon abroad - we went off to Galway for a week and had a lovely time - eating, drinking, relaxing. The day before we came home, we went into Galway City and of course I had to hit every bookshop and chemist I could find. When I went into Boots, I found a little set on the Lancôme counter that had 30ml perfume, a mini juicy tube, mini mascara, mini body lotion and mini shower gel all for €48. I snapped it up, swore I wouldn't waste the perfume.........and used it all up before Christmas. GAH! It's definitely on my must-repurchase-immediately list. 

You know that line from Coyote Ugly - "I remember the first time my Mom played me 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'...I remember exactly what she was wearing, exactly how her hair smelled, and exactly how I felt. Every time I hear that song.....I remember exactly what she was wearing, exactly how her hair smelled, and exactly how I felt." - that's what perfume does for me. One whiff of a particular perfume can bring a memory flooding back with such force that it can floor me at times. It's amazing how certain smells will be forever associated with one particular memory - I can almost smell each and every perfume I've posted about, exactly when I got them, and exactly how I felt. 

Did you own any of my most memorable scents?