Thursday, 31 July 2014

Happy Birthday Harry

Today is good old HP's 34th birthday, and the birthday of our good queen, JK Rowling. To celebrate I've decided to dedicate a post to what the Wizarding World means to me.

Since the age of about 8, when my parents bought me the first couple of books for Christmas, I've been hooked on Potter. It was an escape from a world where I didn't really fit in, where I was considered bookish and strange and most people didn't really want to hang out with me in the playground. I latched on to Hermione's character. She was smart and that made her indispensable to the group. It gave me hope even throughout my teens that I could be dorky but also a bit cool and pretty useful!

I followed the Golden Trio all the way to the end in book and film, and over the last few years have also ended up visiting both the Studio Tour here in the UK and the amazing Wizarding World park in Universal Orlando. OK, so apparently Orlando was actually three years ago. Thanks Timehop.

I also ended up getting a Deathly Hallows tattoo on my back when I was 19. I love it and wouldn't change it for the world because it's such a conversation starter. I love books and writing, and I have Harry's world and Rowling's wonderful stories to thank for that. I wouldn't have taken my literature degree or tackled it with the Granger-like attitude that I did if it weren't for HP. I also have a house littered with memorabilia - I'm sure one day that magic wand on my bookshelf will kick into action. And don't even tell me you didn't wait for your Hogwarts letter to arrive on your 11th birthday...

Everyone has that one thing, whether it's a book, film, band or whatever, that they hold so close to their heart that it will always be a part of them. What's yours? I'll leave you with some pics of my Harry Potter experiences below! I cannot recommend them enough to fellow fans!

All images copyright to Kelly Anne Rist 2011-12


Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Lush summer skin saviours

If you have oily skin like me, chances are the summer is not a good time for you. The constant battle between over cleansing or having a face like a slip'n'slide can be pretty stressful, and suffocating the skin with layers of powder and mattifying primers can result in angry breakouts that only make you want to apply more make up! Enter Lush's Catastrophe Cosmetic face mask and Eau Roma toner water.

Neither of these products is specifically for an oily complexion. I have dabbled with other Lush products, such as the Cupcake mask which I love, but when oily skin turns angry I try to take a softer, non-stripping approach. The last thing I want is dry, stinging patches of skin where I've treated spots too aggressively, or over-production of oil because I've sent my skin into overdrive.

I had wanted to try the Catastrophe Cosmetic mask (£6.25) for a while, and since the stress of moving and the seriously humid weather have given me the most awful skin I've ever had in terms of spots, I figured this was as good a time as any! It's soothing and cooling and leaves my skin baby soft but without a residue. I apply it before bed a few times a week after exfoliating so it can work its magic on open pores. It seems to calm redness down too which few products really manage. The blueberry colour and aroma also may have had me pretending to be a smurf...

I saw a couple of reviews on the Eau Roma toner water (£7.50 for large bottle but a smaller handbag size available in-store) and while I don't normally use toners or face mists because my face really over-hydrates enough already, I couldn't resist the gentle lavender and rose water scent. I keep this in the fridge and spritz on over make up when I need a cool down or after a good cleanse. It feels cool and clean so is perfect for the warm weather, and is one of Lush's more affordable face products.

What products keep your skin in check over the summer?


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Recipe: Seriously Easy Oat Cookies

Confession: I am a hopeless baker. I love cooking, but when it comes to desserts and sweets I just can't quite get things right! This little recipe however is totally stress-free and a sure crowd pleaser if you've got visitors. It also uses basic ingredients you've almost definitely already got on hand so is pretty cost effective. They have a wonderfully soft, doughy consistency, hence being a cookie rather than a biscuit! I make them almost every weekend and keep them fresh in a glass jar.

The original recipe, the location of which has escaped me since scribbling it down, suggested adding raisins. I am a raisin hater, so while I'm told that this works perfectly well I have opted for straight up chocolate chip. I've also made different versions using shredded coconut, chopped almonds and white chocolate chunks.

  • 50g butter/margarine (it really doesn't matter what brand or if you go in for a low fat option like me.
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1tbsp honey
  • 1 egg
  • 50g wholemeal flour
  • 1tsp baking power
  • 80g porridge oats
  • 50g of your chosen additive (I used plain chocolate chips for this batch)
  1. Heat your oven to 180c/160c (fan assisted) or Gas Mark 4 and grease yourself a large baking tray.
  2. Mix margarine/butter with sugar in a large bowl, then stir in the honey. I let my butter get to room temperature first to make it easier, but you could also use an electric whisk.
  3. Add the egg and cinnamon and mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl combine oats, flour, baking powder and chocolate chips and mix thoroughly. Add to butter mixture and fold in to ensure evenness.
  5. Pop onto the tray using a dessert spoon and gently flatten the dollops slightly.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies start to turn golden.
  7. Let 'em cool on the tray for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack, then store in an airtight container if you can resist gobbling them all up!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Alternative Summer Reads

Summer often sees reams of 'holiday reads' posts, and while I love a good recommendation, these posts often feature heavily in Chick Lit, comedy blunders and tear jerkers - genres I really don't get on with! If you're looking for something a bit different to read on your travels this summer, check out my top picks:

1. How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff - How it has taken me so long to buy this book I have no idea! Set during a modern-day war, fifteen year old Daisy is sent to live with her Aunt in England and promptly falls in love with her cousin. The bubble is soon broken, the cousins are separated and we are taken on a whirlwind tour of modern conflict. The narration is witty, sarcastic and imaginative and I challenge anyone not to be touched by Rosoff's beautifully simplistic writing.

2. A Summer of Drowning, John Burnside - Mystery, Norse mythology and a little teenage angst thrown in for good measure. Set against a dreamy Norwegian landscape, with tales of drowning and sinister undertones, this book won't be for everyone and can get a little claustrophobic. I'd definitely recommend it if you aren't into your 'typical' summery reads!

3. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier - An oldie but a goodie. I always find myself picking this up again in the summer months. An early example of 20th Century popular fiction, this is an easy read that never fauls to entertain me. Rebecca tells the story of an ordinary girl caught up in a whirlwind romance, taken to live in a grand hall in the English countryside. From the outset she feels the presence of the previous Mrs de Winter, and begins to question both her new husband and her own soundness of mind.

What are you reading this summer?

Friday, 25 July 2014

Friday thoughts #2

This week's Friday Thoughts are brought to you by one of my favourite authors, Daphne du Maurier. If you're not familiar with her work, check out Rebecca, a gorgeous 1930s mystery novel that shaped popular literature today. She was an interesting character, who people often saw as cold and private.

In stark contrast to the dark nature of her fiction, the quote I've chosen is all about happiness. I have to admit, lately I've been feeling pretty despondent and disconnected from others. Reading this though I am reminded that we can choose our own paths, we can choose to be happy even when things are not perfect, and that happiness is a state of mind, not some fleeting thing to be sought out.

I hope you all have a happy weekend, and that even if things aren't going so great you can find moments of peace and joy!



Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet in 'Grand Cru'

I am in love. Unless you've been living under a rock the last couple of months, you'll know that Bourjous have launched a few new shades of their Rouge Edition Velvet lip products. A deeply pigmented lipstick-come-lip-stain is not something I would usually go for, mainly because I hate worrying that the colour will do that annoying fade-from-the-middle thing and within a couple of hours I'll look like I've just crawled in from a heavy night out. This however is a stellar exception. I bought the shade 'Grand Cru' partly for its deep red shade which I find suits me better than brick reds, but mainly for the reports of its longevity in the wear department.

After about 3 1/2 hours wear

I applied a full coat at about 8am, not needing to build much apart from around the waterline. It comes out quite dark and glossy looking and really does glide on. After a wopping 15-20 mins it dried to a matte set, and the colour looked a bit lighter but still amazingly vibrant and surprisingly wearable. None of that flaky, cracked nonsense I've experienced with certain other matte products (*cough* Rimmel *cough*).

Colour once it set

I actually almost forgot I was wearing this, and several cups of tea later at lunch time the colour had not budged or faded whatsoever apart from at the waterline - fade around mine tends to be visible and you can kind of see it in this picture. After eating I just topped that small section up and was on my way.

By 6pm it STILL looked like this!

I got home just after 6pm and didn't know what to expect when I looked in the mirror but everything was still in place! The colour had bled very, very slightly at the edges but still looked vibrant. I actually had to use Micellar water to remove the product as water, make up wipes and standard cleansers would not get the stuff off! I honestly am so impressed that a lip product actually lives up to its claims of long wear. I've yet to meet anyone that wears their lipstick for 24 hours though so they might say different.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

5 ways to clean up your sleep hygiene

Sleep. So many of us just don't get enough of it. Every day we are confronted with health warnings and depressing statistics linked to lack of Zs, and it's definitely time to change that!

At one point or another we have all been guilty of depriving our bodies of much needed recovery time, and it's harder than ever to truly switch off in the digital age. 'Sleep hygiene' is the practice of a properly structured routine that helps you wind down and maximise shut-eye. It isn't always easy, especially for those of us that work full time and blog on the side, but we do ourselves a massive disservice by not putting sleep first on our list of priorities. Here are my top tips for settling down for a good night's sleep:

1. The cut-off point
Whatever you do for a living, whether you work from home or spend 9-5 in the office, you need to be able to acknowledge when enough is enough.Maybe you can set an alarm to tell yourself it's time to stop working now, or change into your trackies when you get home to bring yourself back into the comfort zone. However you do it, let your body know at a regular point each day that it's time to step out of work mode.

2. Ditch the screens
Electronic screens give out blue light that mimics the dawn sends signals of wakefulness to the brain. Avoid trouble sleeping by putting down your phone and switching off the TV an hour before bed. Instead, try reading a book under warm light, meditating or some gentle yoga. It might be hard to break the habit at first but eventually you'll come to love this time. We're connected 24 hours a day these days so allowing yourself to just 'be' and forget the rest of the world can be extremely beneficial.

3. Drink some sleepy tea
Caffeine is an absolute no-no in the evenings as it can take up to 8 hours for it to work its way out of your system. Instead try a relaxing herbal tea such as camomile or a cinnamon blend. There are loads available but my current favourite is Clipper Sleep Easy Infusion, which also contains Valerian, a great herbal sleep aid. Not keen? Try some warm milk.

4. Take a bath
Not only will it have you feeling squeaky clean and relaxed, but when you climb out of the tub it mimics the natural drop in temperature that happens to our bodies when we fall into sleep. It should leave you feeling ready to snooze!

5. Candles
I've mentioned ditching the screens and bright lights already, but a scented candle (think warm, sweet tones or lavender fragrances) can enhance the room and create a sense of calm. Just remember to blow them out before actually going to sleep!

What do you do to switch off before bed?


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

July Birchbox - Summer staples ahoy!

My July Birchbox actually arrived on Thursday evening - speedy delivery from those guys as usual - but I've hardly stopped since then! I'll take a minute now to give you a run down of the contents!

I was really excited to see the preview of this months box - some great products and a summery theme. I had hoped I might get to try the Weleda Millet Nourishing Shampoo as my hair is driving my crazy at the moment, but it didn't make an appearance in my selection. I wasn't disappointed though and a couple of the products have stolen my heart a little!

Laqa & Co Sheer Lip Lube In Menatour (full size) - I had been hoping to receive one of the more neutral shades of this chunky lip lube, however I was pleasantly surprised. Although sheer it's very buildable and the pinky purple colour wears better than I thought. You can go for a sheer tint or build to a lipstick look if you please, and the minty fresh scent is absolutely amazing. These aren't yet on sale but their other lip products retail for £14-22.00.

Whish 'Three Whishes' Lavender Body Butter (£14.50) - I wasn't sure about the lavender scent at first, but it's quite muted and has sweet tones so is great once on the skin. I actually just sniffed my arm like a weirdo because I like it so much. I don't always get on with heavy scents in body products, but even on freshly shaved legs this didn't irritate even in the slightest. It's also more moisturising than last month's body offering, NAOBAY Body Radiance Lotion, and applies better too. I am seriously considering buying a full size bottle as in only a few days I've almost finished the sample.

Benefit 'POREfessional' primer (£24.50) - I have a few tiny samples of this that I have been getting by on, so seeing a large sample like this in the box really impressed me. I already know that it goes a long way and helps my make up hold so this is definitely going into my stash.

Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream (£20.00) - I have heard a lot of good things about Balance Me products, and tried a moisturiser before, so I was pleased to see this decent sized sample. As of yet I've not seen any difference, and I'm not sure my dry under-eye skin likes the formula (weirdly it seems a bit chemical compared to my usual Simple Soothing Eye Cream), but I'll use it til it runs out and let you know how it goes.

Models Own Nail Polish in Magenta Divine (£5.00 full size) - I love Models Own, but I'm not too sure about the shade of glitter I've wound up with. It's a real fuchsia pink! I've been opting for pastel shades a lot lately but this might be good for a girls night out over a black base.

4-Sided Nail File/Buffer (lifestyle extra) - This couldn't have come at a better time as my Boots equivalent is looking a bit tatty. It seems to be good quality too.

All in all I think this is a great box with some vibrant colours and scents to match the summery theme! It will be interesting to see what the guys at Birchbox come up with for August - my box contained a little card previewing a cosmetics bag that each August box will contain!

What did you get in yours?

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Beauty on a budget

Having done the whole university thing and also now having to budget around Cambridge's ridiculous rent prices, I'm no stranger to budget friendly drug-store make up. While I'm a tad better off these days there are a few staples you'd be hard to convince me to pay more for.

Foundation - I've had some interesting experiences with both cheap brands and more expensive ones. It's trial and error for my oily, blemish prone skin type and I tend to prefer a light, semi-matte finish set with a powder so my face doesn't suffocate and sweat it all off. Bourjois 123 Perfect foundation (£10.99) does this job wonderfully and is something I wear almost every day. I opt for shade 51 (Light Vanilla) as my face is usually somewhat pale. It's cool and refreshing on the skin and contains a range of purple, yellow and green pigments to even out skintone and combat redness.

Blush - As you can tell, I'm quite a fan of Bourjois make up, and their blushes are no exception. The Little Round Pot blushes are available in an array of tones and many, such as my long-term favourite shade 34 (Rose D'Or) are flecked with gold pigments that add a bronzed effect. The little brush and mirror are great for on the go too and the pot will last months. At £7.99 it comes in a little higher than some other drugstore brands but it's worth looking out for 3 for 2 deals in Boots or Superdrug and adding this little gem to the mix.

Brows - Even if you can't afford to venture into lipsticks (though Rimmel have some great offerings if you do) need, defined brows can have you looking made up in no time. My love affair with Rimmel's Professional Eyebrow Pencil (£2.99) is never-ending, mainly because the Black Brown shade matches my dark brown brows perfectly.Not only is it mega cheap but it comes with a brow brush lid for on the go application. I tend to train hairs with some clear mascara, and while any will do Miss Sporty's offering (£2.99) is non clumpy and doesn't have a hair-gel-like wet look as some formulas do so is perfect for brows.

What are the budget beauty buys you couldn't live without?


Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Skin hero: Garnier Micellar Water

I admit that I wasn't initially sold on the idea of magical skin cleansing water, but since trying it it's turned into the one thing I use on my skin no matter how busy, tired or lazy I feel at the end of the day. It's also great value for money.

I opted for Garnier Skin Naturals' offering as it's a brand I'm fairly familiar with. You can get hold of a sizeable 400ml bottle in Boots for £4.99, and I keep seeing it on offer in various supermarkets. From this the bottle claims to give 200 uses. I've had my bottle for almost 8 weeks and am not even a third of the way through so it certainly lasts a long time.

"But how does it work?" you ask. Well, I'll leave the detailed scientific explanation to beauty science blogger Lab Muffin, but in short the cleansing water contains 'micelles' that attract oil and dirt and encourage it away from your skin. 

My skin is pretty darn oily, so I tend to use a gentle cleansing wash like the Simple Refreshing Facial Wash Gel to loosen things up and get the worst of the day's make up off. Many people stop their cleansing routine right there, and while a single cleanse might make your face look clean, micellar water could reveal an astonishing amount of oil and make up still clinging to the skin.

I use a large oval cotton pad and can saturate it without having to squeeze the bottle. You need as much as you would of any water-based cleanser or toner - don't use it like actual water as some seem to! There's no need to rub the skin, just gently massage and you'll find it picks everything up. Where this product really excels is with my waterproof mascara. It beats my usual panda eyes and removes every scrap of black without being harsh or needing much work.

This product is suitable for any skin type, as while it doesn't add a huge amount of moisture to the skin it doesn't take any away and is totally non-drying. You can just follow this with your usual moisturising routine. It leaves skin feeling smoother and cleaner than you can imagine and has reduced my problematic breakouts massively. 


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Style Crush: Lorde

Oh Lorde, where would we be without your amazing (and often a little weird) fashion sense? The New Zealand singer/songwriter never fails to stand out from the crowd whether she's attending an awards event or one of her own shows.

Inspired by all things Gothic and yet somehow managing to make it look understated, Lorde's look has inspired me to delve into the realms of dark lipstick, quirky clothes and to let my hair be it's big thick self. Her recent lipstick collaboration with MAC is to die for.

I'm a bit of a dark dresser and a serious eye-liner flick fan myself thanks in no small part to my teenage music tastes, but I can only dream of pulling it off with Lorde's effortlessness. At just 17 years of age she's already blowing others right out of the water.

Whose style are you crushing on right now?

Monday, 7 July 2014

A Sonisphere Festival Friday!

Being the free spirits that we are, Rhian and I decided to book last minute day tickets to the Friday of Knebworth Park's Sonisphere Festival. We don't live far away and it was so, so nice to be able to flop into my own bed at the end of the night instead of trying to keep warm and worrying that someone might be peeing up the side of our tent. We're Download fest regulars but I couldn't go because it was mine and Mat's moving weekend! This went some way to making up for it. Here's what we saw:

So the day obviously couldn't begin until we'd been to the Hall's Dorset Smokery stand. These guys seem to be at every major festival across the UK and make everything from smoked salmon bagels to steak sarnies cooked to order. I got myself a brie and bacon bap and let me tell you it was worth queuing for.

I cannot believe how lucky we were with the weather! It was sun cream all round - your average rock festival clientèle don't do sunbathing. We saw some seriously red skin by the end of the day but thankfully we came prepared.

Gary Numan

Kicking the day of were UK rising stars The Defiled. I've had a glimpse of their live prowess before but seeing them open the festival was great. It makes sense that a kickass British band would open Sonisphere after it's brief hiatus due to dwindling ticket sales and the ongoing struggle to book headliners that offer something different to rival festival Download.

Following on from this were Anti-Flag. Their performances are always pumped full of energy and this was no exception. Even though their lyrics are highly political and pretty darn angry, the band were so happy to be there and so kind to the audience that positive vibes and unity were rife. If you've never given punk/pop punk a try these guys are a great place to start. Check out their most popular tunes on Last FM - they always get me bouncing around! Gary Numan was also a pleasant surprise. His stuff is pretty niche with lots of electronic sounds thrown in but is pretty catchy and had everyone grooving. He also played Cars for an awesome 80s throwback.

We then had a little wait before the other bands we wanted to see so attempted to find some "shade" behind a barrier. I burnt my scalp and as you can see my hair is not happy from all the sun it's been having - a sign to invest in a hat? Outfit wise I went for a New Look tartan dress teamed with my trusty Primark sunnies and some leopard print wellies purchased from a festival stall in a muddy moment of crisis many moons ago. Gotta keep it simple in the heat!

The best shade we found ended up being behind a line of balding men in their mid-thirties who kept asking me to get on their shoulders and spilling dribbles of beer on our heads. Good job beer is good for the hair! 

We also briefly dropped in on Bam Margera's Fuckface Unstoppable who were playing in one of the tents. It was interesting. There were unexpected testicles. We'll leave that there.


When our music viewing resumed it was time for some teenage nostalgia with the ever dark and gorgeous HIM The Finnish rockers are really on their game lately, since frontman Ville Valo overcame his drinking and smoking problems and serious illness a few years back. I must say it's nice when artists remember the words to their songs and remain upright for the performance. So many rockers get too out of it to give a good show. The band looked absolutely in awe of the huge turnout and it became a real sing-along for us all.

Limp Bizkit

Oh Limp Bizkit, how I love thee. Whether your into metal, pop, rap or otherwise this band have a tune for everyone's taste. The set was typical of past festival offerings, with their greatest hits and classic covers fired off with absolute precision. They transformed the festival into one big party and we all sang our hearts out while the sun went down. My weird crush on Fred Durst is also still going strong.

The Prodigy

The headline slot fell to one of the most established non-metal British bands out there, The Prodigy. Aggressive, powerful and inventive, the band revelled in the moment, interacting with the crowd and giving a seriously brilliant strobe light display as per usual. I saw them a couple of years ago and I would say it was on par - their rockin' brand of hardcore techno big beat wonderfulness is still going strong. With the promise of new material in the works we'll hopefully see a sixth studio album soon!

The Prodigy's awesome lighting!

We had an awesome day. It was nice to visit a festival just for the day, and to do it with my oldest friend and longterm festival buddy Rhian who is buggering off to university in a couple of months! 

Are you going to any festivals this summer? Have you been already? Let me know in the comments!

All band images taken from the official Sonisphere Facebook page because little iPhones cannot cope with sunset lighting conditions and uberzoom.
© kelly anne rist

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