Sunday, 31 January 2016

The makeup brush cleaning tool I wish I'd known about sooner!

I'm one of those people that reeeeeally hates things like washing makeup brushes, but lucky for me I'm also one of those people that gets spots if I let them get too dirty. It's safe to say that left unwashed, makeup brushes are a hotbed for bacteria, grease and grime. 

I think one of the reasons I don't like doing it is that they take forever to dry - I usually have to leave them a good 24 hours laid out on a towel or kitchen roll for them to feel properly dry, and when you use them daily this is such a pain! Enter the brush tree.

My lovely hairdresser Phie introduced me to this simple invention, that holds your brushes vertically for drying. The idea is that allowing all the water to run down and out of the bristles, ensuring they are bone dry and preventing any bacteria from forming down in the roots. 

Now my brush washing routine consists of the following steps:
  • Grab my yucky brushes and scoot on over to the bathroom
  • Run the tap at a hot temperature (but not so hot my fingers will burn. I find using running water much better than filling the sink as you're just swilling the brushes around in their gunk otherwise!)
  • Wash my hands so they're nice and clean to start with
  • Spray with B Makeup Brush Cleanser (£4.99 from Superdrug) and swirl into the brush to loosen the residue
  • Rinse under the tap
  • Repeat the previous two steps with a blob of Johnson's Baby Shampoo and really get stuck into the bristles when rinsing
  • Wipe of any excess water from the handle etc
  • Reshape the brushes and place into the brush holder and leave to dry.
I'm finding the brushes dry slightly quicker and most importantly feel so much cleaner! The holder also falls flat when you take it apart so when not in use it just sits in my makeup drawer down the side of my pallets - it's that dinky!

If you're in the Hertfordshire/Cambridgeshire area you can purchase either a 14 hole (that's the one pictured above) or 26 hole brush holder from Phie's Salon in Harston, or if you're from a different neck of the woods, you can also get them from Amazon or eBay!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The lazy girl guide to getting fit

January can be a daunting time for the lazy girl. Everyone else is all smoothies and Fitbits and cook books and 10k training, while the lazy girl clings to the duvet at every chance, longing for the security of Netflix and her good friends Ben and Jerry. Those guys never let a woman down. I know this only too well, because the lazy girl is me.

It's not exactly a secret that getting off your butt is the key to staying fit and well, but boy does it feel like a lot of effort when its effing freezing outside and those cosy Harry Potter trackies you got for Christmas are calling. So how can you motivate yourself to get healthy when it seems like the most un-fun thing in the world?

Set a (proper) goal - There's not much use in deciding this is the year you'll sign up for a marathon if you haven't run for more than the bus since year 11 sports day. It took me a while to train myself up to run using the Couch to 5k programme, and a good few more months to get to that 10k distance. Choose a goal that's achievable for you, whether it's weight loss, running, learning a tricky yoga pose, lifting or competing at a sport there will be something tangible you can work for.

Get some pretty kit - Not to be superficial or anything but gym wear has come a loooong way since the days of legwarmers and Lycra. At the moment I'm addicted to wearing my Davina McCall F+F leggings, which are so comfy I'd wear them out for coffee. Some other great places are H&M and Fabletics. A sweat-stained bar crawl t-shirt from your uni days and regular ol' Primark leggings definitely won't give you the comfort and quick dry technology needed to stay comfy and fabulous when working out. If you invest in your gym wear you'll need to exercise as much as possible to justify it!

Do it for a cause - While we're on the subject of guilt-tripping yourself, there are so many sporting events open to the general public these days. If military-style obstacle courses seem a bit too scary (ain't no way this girl here is lifting herself over a 10ft wall or crawling through mud) why not join a fun run, charity bike ride or lend a few lengths to a swimathon? Sports Relief is coming up in March so there'll be plenty of opportunities. It's much less likely that you'll back out if your goal also involves fundraising - there were times I never thought I'd make distance for my 10k last year but the thought of letting people down after collecting almost £600 pushed me through!

Hit up YouTube - If the thought of the gym terrifies you, YouTube has what seems like an unlimited supply of workouts for all tastes and abilities. Chill out with some Yoga with Adriene or up the intensity with this ten Victoria Secret Abs workout - the choice is yours according to what you fancy and how much time you have. There are also some great apps out there that can make exercise more interesting. I set myself up with the brilliant Yoga Studio app so my stretching sessions feel like one-to-one classes, and Zombie Run is fun if you can't find a motivating enough jogging playlist.

How do you motivate yourself to keep fit?


Thursday, 21 January 2016

The best views in Paris

Soooo it's been ages since my last travel post, and ages since my first and last post about our little trip to Paris back in September. I had intended to write this post up a long while ago but then the terror attacks happened to my beautiful little city (I don't know why I say this like I live here or am remotely French, I just have Paris feels). I left it quite a while because when I looked at the photos from our trip it was all I could think about and everything felt a bit 'tainted'. 

Anyway, things have definitely changed since then and I feel like people are flowing back into the city again. I don't want people to feel unsafe or discouraged as it's definitely a bucket list destination for so many. I know myself that I won't be intimidated by these awful people. Politics aside, I thought I'd share what was a unexpected favourite part of our most recent trip - the magnificent view from the Arc de Triomphe.

Maybe I'm biased here because this was the only view we got over the three days that wasn't marred by cloud and rain (thanks September) but I really didn't anticipate that the view from the top would be so stunning. Sacre Coeur and the Eiffel Tower are both higher vantage points but this hit the spot for me. 

From the top of l'Arc de Triomphe you're in a very central position. Look down the Champs Elysess and the shoppers and tourists are bustling, Look up towards La Defense and you'll see the impressive skyscrapers of the business district. The Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur can also be enjoyed in all their glory. We've seen the cityscape from various viewpoints but this took the biscuit.

The weather was perfect (although bloody windy so hold onto your hats), the trees were just starting to turn their varying shades of amber and copper, and I could've spent hours up there spying on the world below, picking out monuments with the telescopes.

A must too is to view the arc from below - not forgetting that it is primarily a war monument, the architecture is also beautiful. 

It's even free to go up if you're an EU citizen under 25 thanks to Paris's generous policy on museums and monuments - just flash your passport at the ticket booth. If you're headed to Paris, pop this on your list.

More on Paris travel:


Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The versatile skirt that's got my heart in a flutter

Have you ever tried on an item of clothing and instantly known it just sort of works for you? Those 'ureaka' moments can be few and far between if, like me, you're a bit of a weird shape and not always willing to take risks.

When I won this aztec print and leather look skirt in a Little Mistress giveaway on Twitter I wasn't really sure it was going to suit me. I went with it anyway and I can't believe how flattering it is. From the Girls on Film line, the skirt's sizing is accurate so there was no disappointing squeeze to get the zip done up, the length is perfect for either going bare-legged on a night out or teeming with tights and boots for work.

Given how crazy cold it is at the moment I put together this outfit with warmth in mind. Along with tights I added a grey jumper from Primark, and my trusty Poetic Licence boots - you could dress it up or down however you like.

Sometimes more fitted skirts can be a bit uncomfortable to sit at a desk all day in, but this was honestly so comfy. And it has pockets, which we all know is a rare and valuable thing in women's fashion.

As if the perfect fit wasn't enough, the skirt costs a mere £28.00, and there's also a matching jacket and dress available which I'm seriously considering getting on board with.

Jumper: Primark | Skirt: Little Mistress | Bag: F+F | Boots: Poetic Licence (no longer online but there are plenty more to choose from!) | Watch: Olivia Burton


Sunday, 17 January 2016

TBE reads: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I had heard so many good things about Neil Gaiman’s writing, but something was stopping me from delving in that until now I hadn't been able to put my finger on. I think that having largely steered clear of anything fantastical or magical apart from good old Harry Potter throughout my degree had left unable to tap into that childlike sense of imagination I once had. I was stuck in the real world with no desire to leave it. A foray into the weird and wonderful mind of Gaiman has definitely changed that.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a book that requires you suspend your disbelief wherever possible, as a man returns to his childhood home town and recalls some events from his youth that, witchcraft and monsters notwithstanding, are a little out of the ordinary. A local suicide that seems somewhat suspicious sparks the narrator and his friend Lettie (who claims the pond on her farm is in fact an ocean, hence the title) to investigate. This results in a series of traumatising events, weird and wonderful discoveries, and not necessarily the happiest of endings.

The adult part of my brain began a psych evaluation on the narrator - I wondered why he would ever make something so ludicrous up! The kid in me however was totally routing for the characters, desperate for them to triumph against evil. I think in this way you could liken the story to a kind of Life of Pi situation. Has this all been dreamt up in this boy's head to cope with the family turmoil that's more than apparent, or is this for real? I think readers will of course believe whatever they want to. As a kid I always wanted to believe there was something more than our human world (I don't think I'm alone in having waited for a Hogwarts letter), and this totally taps back into that.

The writing style is also just beautiful, and Gaiman definitely has a talent for painting vivid visions of creatures that are entirely mythical and downright scary. The ending is so delicately described that I was truly left in awe! If you're looking for something a bit different to read this is an excellent choice! This might have been my first Neil Gaiman novel but I doubt it'll be the last.

Have you read any good books lately?

Thursday, 14 January 2016

A winter wishlist

It’s finally starting to get a bit chilly out there in the UK. I love winter weather and cold temperatures, but only when I’m appropriately wrapped up against the elements. There’s nothing like feeling snug as a bug with a coffee in hand!

If you’re anything like me you’ve probably avoided buying any ‘proper’ winter clothing this year as things remained so mild for so long, so I’ve put together a winter wish list to help you stay stylish while keeping warm!

1. Emily boots in Berry, £64.95 from Pixie - I’m an absolute sucker for berry shades, especially in the colder months. These boots from Pixie footwear are not only bang on trend but also have a robust heel and fur lining. Perfect for when things get a bit chilly but wellies and snow boots are still a bit much.  

2. Oversize wool pea coat, £57.00 from ASOS - I can’t stop myself from lusting after wool coats at the moment. Parkas are certainly cosy but for a cold commute or more formal occasion the pea coat maintains that smarter vibe.

3. Oversized patterned scarf, £20.00 from ASOS - I would like to personally thank Lenny Kravitz for the oversized scarf trend. There are soo many out there at the moment but this is my personal fave, which would tie in really well with the coat and boots.

4. Suede and leather gloves, £22.00 from Accessorize - I always forget my gloves when I go out and as someone who has bad circulation in my fingers and toes I really pay for it. These are a slightly different take on the classic black leather glove.

5. Porcelain travel cup, £10.00 from Paperchase - So I admit I just chose this for the skull design but Paperchase have a great range of travel mugs and flasks. I always have one handy as they keep drinks warmer for longer on chilly walks.

6. Jersey pyjamas, £24.99 from H&M - When I’ve been out all day in the cold I like to put my PJs on the radiator, jump into the actual hottest shower ever, slather on some body butter and then pop them on.

7. Chunky knit throw, £19.99 from Dunelm - As if I hadn’t upped the snug-factor enough, it’s then time to get comfy under this soft knitted blanket from Dunelm. Grab yourself a hot chocolate and put on some Netflix because you’ve got this winter thing sussed.

What's in your winter wardrobe?

Monday, 11 January 2016

3 ways to put your beauty samples to good use

If you've ever been subscribed to the likes of Birchbox, Glossybox and co then you'll know that beauty boxes often deliver way more samples than you know what to do with. I personally ended all my subscription boxes after shopping around a bit because I was getting such a build-up of miniatures. Last week I found a big box full and realised I should probably find a few ways to get through them faster.

1. Rotate - I'm not a massive fan of continually switching products. I think part of the reason I didn't get on with beauty boxes was that ultimately once I know something works for me I tend to just stick with it. That said I'm trying to sneak a sample product or two into my muji stash every month or so just to give it a try. You never know, you might find something better this way!

2. Prep - With many sub boxes you also get little pouches for the products. If you have enough of a range, use a couple of these to compile travel kits for things like the gym, holidays and staying over at friends. This way you won't have to worry about decanting giant bottles or lugging them around with you. They're handy for handbags too!

3. Give - If you already have a full-size of a product or just know you're not going to use it, pass it on to someone else who might benefit. You could even put them into gifts like this homemade 'spa in a jar' idea that I found over on Pinterest. I did a few of these for the ladies in my life at Christmas and they were very well received!

So don't let your samples go to waste, put them to good use instead! 


Saturday, 9 January 2016

Four classic Elizabeth Arden fragrances

One of my favourite gifts I received over Christmas was an Elizabeth Arden fragrance set from Mat's nan. I really love miniature perfume sets as you get to mix it up a bit and try new scents without committing to a pricey full-sized bottle.

I had never tried Elizabeth Arden's perfumes before but I was pleasantly surprised. I knew of course of the skincare and beauty lines but wasn't even aware they did fragrances!

First of all, miniature packaging is adorable. Benefit minis are my fave for cute designs but perfumes come in a close second. These are also the perfect size for throwing into your handbag for a spruce up on the go. The set is very similar to this one with the exception of 'Pretty' having been swapped out recently for the new 'Untold' fragrance which I've not yet tried.

5th Avenue is probably my favourite of the bunch, with musky tones and amber notes that create very much a classic scent and a good all-rounder. It's also probably the longest lasting. No wonder it's a best seller.

Red Door is to me quite a glamourous fragrance - you can definitely detect the rose and honey base notes.

Pretty is definitely one for girly girls although I do quite like it. As you'd expect it's a very floral scent and more of a daytime wear.

The most unexpected find of the bunch for me was Green Tea, which legit smells of green tea, with notes of jasmine and peppermint. It's such a light fragrance and provides an energising boost when I spray it on in the mornings.

Have you tried any Elizabeth Arden fragrances?

Thursday, 7 January 2016

To be read

I'm hoping to read a lot more this year than I did last year. Although I love books and took a literature degree I find it very hard to concentrate and consistently commit to reading whole novels when I feel stressed and busy. It's so hard to sit back and get into a story when there's stuff on my mind! January will hopefully be quite laid back and I'll be able to rekindle my inner bookworm. 

I've already lined up a few choices for this year's reading list, so I thought I'd share what I'll be devouring and reviewing in the coming month or so. 

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell - I have to admit I was sucked in by the title and cover but I'm very excited to read this. From the blurb I think this will be quite an adventure, with both political and fantastical elements thrown in. I'm going to start this tonight so watch this space!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - I read this coming of age (with a twist) story quite a while ago before the film come out but I got through it so quickly that I didn't really take it all in. I did this with the Hunger Games books and when I re-read them I picked up on more details that made it a much better read. Something's calling me back to this one.

Walking with Sausage Dogs by Matt Whyman - I have an extensive obsession with dachshunds of all sizes and my Auntie got me this book for Christmas. It looks like such a funny, cute read and has received great reviews so this will be a nice change as I don't often read light-hearted material and probably should!

What reads have you got lined up so far in 2016?

Friday, 1 January 2016

Don't be so hard on yourself this year

So I wanted to get something off my chest that's been bugging me for the last couple of weeks. 2015 was by all accounts the year of the 'girl boss' - not that that's something to be sniffed at. Feminism became a trendy buzzword, Hilary Clinton got stuck in with the US Presidential race and many ladies from the blogging world I really admire took their internet empires to new heights. Success is a wonderful thing, and so is being told we really can have it all. But the companion to this kind of movement receiving so much attention is by all accounts a hindrance and downright enemy: comparison.

In the last 365 days I've spent more time comparing myself to others than I probably ever managed to do in high school. I guess that comes with the territory of spending so much time online. Lusting over the Instagrams of celebrities, fitness moguls and top bloggers might feel like a good use of your time but in reality it's probably just highlighting the abs you don't have, the crisply decorated apartment you don't have and the brand events you didn't make the guest-list for.

I have a tenancy to beat myself up if I feel like I'm not achieving as much as others seem to be, but I think this year we could all do with a bit of a reality check. Stop being so hard on yourself for not being where you (or society for that matter) think you should be by now.

Instead, start working towards things that you actually want for yourself this year, and accept that everyone runs into stumbling blocks along the way - they just don't publish those moments to Instagram!

It sounds really cliche but all those Primark t-shirts from 2013 with 'YOLO' plastered over them speak the truth. I don't wanna look back on another year and feel negative about most of it. I've made a promise to myself not to feel bad about every little mistake or failure this year, but to embrace them as a part of life and always keep reaching for what I want - you should too.

© kelly anne rist

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