30 December 2015

2015 Beauty Favourites

I don't have many beauty favourites of 2015 but that is because I only wanted to include the products I have really enjoyed and have used religiously this year. There are a few make-up bits and a couple of skincare products that I have loved and would really recommend.

Maybelline Colour Drama Lipstick: The blogging community had a bit of a love affair for these lipsticks a while back, and I absolutely loved wearing the shade Very Berry during Autumn/Winter. I definitely prefer matte formulas for my lipsticks, and this was a nice product to use which dried to matte but didn't look too drying. Very Berry was really the only shade that caught my eye, so I would recommend this one a whole lot for the perfect dark berry lip.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz: This is the product that has changed my eyebrow situation. This makes your eyebrows looked really shaped and lovely. Using thin strokes and with a somewhat light hand, this product makes your eyebrow hairs look really natural. I can't really see myself not repurchasing this, even though it's not one of the cheapest products out there - it's really worth it.

Rimmel Exaggerate Liquid Liner: This is my holy grail eyeliner. I use it so often I have repurchased it, and let me tell you, a fresh tube makes liquid eyeliner a breeze (sometimes that's not the case - but it's certainly the easiest liquid eyeliner I've ever used). This eyeliner is very, very black so there is no chance of it looking faded or brown. It dries down matte and stays put all day. I can't recommend this one enough.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Blushing Bride: There is just something about this Tarte blush which is really nice - the packaging is good quality and I can tell this product will really last me. The colour itself is a subtle flush of colour on the cheeks - you really can't go overboard with this one. I think a lot of people have raved about these blushes, and for good reason, because I really like this one.

Lush Mask of Magnaminty Face and Body Mask: This is literally the perfect refreshing, exfoliating mask to use while you're in the bath. It's my favourite face mask I've tried because it makes your skin feel very smooth, refreshed and clean afterwards. Using this every once in a while really saves my skin and brings out all the gunk and dirt.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Instant Oatmeal Mask: First Aid Beauty is a brand that really intrigues me and I look forward to trying out more of their products soon. This is a mask I picked up in Sephora when I was in Hawaii earlier in the year, and it's been such a lovely product to use about once a week to bring a bit more moisture to my skin, while also giving it a bit of a repair - sorting out some redness and soothing the skin a little.



I hope you guys have a great New Year and have had a lovely festive period. I will see you next year with some new posts.

Emma
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28 December 2015

My Favourite Books of 2015

2015 has definitely been my year for reading books. As of when I'm writing this, I have read 37 books out of my goal to read 30. That amount of books is probably not much to some people, and a lot to others, but I'm so glad I decided I was going to read much more frequently and dip my head into the world of YA fiction and Good Reads. I have six books here which I think are my favourite books that I've read this year, so read on if you'd like some recommendations. As usual, there won't be any spoilers, only vouches of love.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: Even though it has been a little while since I finished this book, I remember being besotted with it. I think some people really love this book while others just think it's okay. What excited me most about this book was the interactions between Cath and Levi - I was eager to keep reading throughout. Like many, I didn't really like the fan-fiction sections because I wasn't excited about them, but I appreciate the incorporation of fan-fiction because this is what this book is about, after all. The romance between Cath and Levi was really sweet and there were funny moments. I just remember really liking Cath as a character, and this was such an addicting read for me.

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson: I feel like this is a book which not many people have heard of, but I strongly recommend reading it. This book centres around the theme of transgender, and I have personally never really read many books that feature transgender characters, let alone have it as the premise of the novel. I'm not sure if it represents every transgender person out there (it more than likely doesn't), but I feel like this has to make one of my favourite books, as I felt emotionally connected to the characters and overall I remember enjoying reading it.

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella: This was a super pleasing and easy book to read. I literally flew through it, and it's definitely achievable to read in a day. I'm pretty sure this is marketed at a younger audience, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. This book deals with the theme of social anxiety, and with anxiety being a topic I have recently read a little on in YA books, I think it was a good depiction of what people with social anxiety may go through. The romance throughout this book was sweet and subtle (obviously - as it's for younger readers) and I thought it was lovely. The ease of reading this, the characters, and the family dynamic are all factors which pressed me to put this as one of my favourite books of 2015.


Am I Normal Yet? By Holly Bourne: Where do I start? I could profess my love for Holly Bourne for about 10 days straight. If there's one author you read in 2016, it should be this one. This book also centres around mental illness (this time OCD), like Finding Audrey, and I think it is done well. I absolutely loved reading the feminist ideals that popped up everywhere in this book, and it was just another element to an important book about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.


All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven: Since reading this I have come across views that this book glamourises mental illness, but I didn't get that impression from this book when I was reading it. I just simply fell in love with the story, and especially one of the main characters, Finch. There was this undeniable light and quirkiness about Finch which I completely loved, and I have to say, he is one of my favourite characters I've read this year. This was a beautiful story overall, and I think you should just read it and make your own mind up about it (and maybe have a box of tissues at the ready).

Trouble by Non Pratt: What I remember liking most about this book was the portrayal of teenage life in Britain and of course, the main theme of teenage pregnancy. I loved the characters in this book, not to mention the interchanging perspective between Hannah and Aaron. I think I found myself liking Aaron's perspective the most - I liked the whole dynamic of Aaron being the new guy at school and sort of falling into Hannah's problems. I feel like this is such an easy book to get into and a really good YA fiction read.



Are any of these in your top books of 2015 list? I would also love to have your recommendations for books I should read in 2016.

Emma
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24 December 2015

December


We've reached the end of the year, and the last monthly review post. Also - Merry Christmas!

This month I did a few nice things - one of the most exciting being going to an Ed Sheeran concert. This was most definitely the highlight of my month. Anyway - I haven't had Uni to worry about (unlike people in the Northern Hemisphere) and I've mainly just been staying at home having time off, but also working on my blog quite a lot. I'm excited to see what blogging brings in 2016. I may have mentioned I was struggling with my blog about a month ago, but I've dived in head first and just really turned it around. I'm super excited for what blog posts I will be doing next year and onwards.

Enough ramble about nothing - I will start with some of the beauty faves I've had this month, and it's been quite a good one. I have been trying out a new foundation - the L'Oreal Infallible 24-Matte in shade 11 Vanilla*. I think this deserves a spot in my favourites for December as I've enjoyed using a higher coverage, but somehow very light feeling foundation. I imagine this will be nice in both summer (because it's light feeling) and winter (because it's matte). One gripe I do have about it is that the colour is just slightly off for me. I'm a very pale person, and like most foundations, this one is still a bit dark. I can get away with it, but it does require a bit of extra blending down the neck for me.

I recently picked up some Rosehip Oil from Trilogy to help me with my scars and marks on my face that just don't seem to go away. I haven't used it enough to see much of a difference in that respect, but this has really added some moisture to my skin and smoothed it out on top of exfoliating. I've never really used an oil after cleansing, but I can see why people like doing it. I suspect this will be the perfect thing to use daily in winter, but for now I'm using it every few days when I need it.

Lastly, I have a blush favourite to mention in the form of Benefit's Sugarbomb Blush, which is part of their Sugarlicious Nude Lip & Cheek Kit. I mentioned the highlighter last month, but I definitely think it's time for some love towards this blush. It's a mix of pink, peach, brown and coral tones to provide a healthy, peachy glow - perfect for summertime in the Southern Hemisphere.

By far one of my favourite reads of the month was Everyday by David Levithan (actually, I finished it at the very end of November, ssssh...). This was beautifully written, and I felt like it had a strong meaning and message that I resonated with. The concept is pretty much genuius and it was easy to read as I flew through it. I also finished The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen which was a little hit and miss for me. I think I was expecting a bit more from this book, and it just didn't grip me as much as I wanted it to. I still think it's worthy of being mentioned though, because when you get past the long chapters and get your head around what's happening, I think it is enjoyable. I don't necessarily think it's a quick read, so it deserves a bit of concentration. I am currently on to the next installment of this, and heads up - I am enjoying it more than the first one.

I also read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. I think it's a perfectly suited Christmas read. I really enjoyed reading this actually - I had watched all the movies in the past few weeks so wanted to get into the world more. I think it's a fascinating world and story, so I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the series next year. This one was a quick and simple read, but I suspect things will get longer and more intense soon (obviously - as I've seen the films).




Alright - time for some music love. This month my family got a record player and we found my parent's old records in the shed, which makes for some fun time dancing around to 80s music, that's for sure. So, unsurprisingly I have been listening to Talking Heads again, as I enjoyed their music before anyway.

I also discovered The Strokes - a band I feel like I've always wanted to/tried to get into but never got around to it. Definitely recommend listening to their album Comedown Machine if you like the sort of music I do, because it's a good 'un.

I have also been listening to a lot of Arctic Monkeys - a band I always come back to and love, obviously.

Apart from that some of Troye's new album Blue Neighbourhood has definitely been blasting from my laptop's speakers as of late. Favourites are Cool and Youth, for sure.



Hope you enjoyed this rather large round-up post - I will be back with you for a couple more posts this year - my book and beauty favourites of the year.

Emma
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*PR Sample, but I will always provide an honest review.
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21 December 2015

Products I've Changed My Mind About






I tend to change my mind about products quite a lot. I think it's the excitement and rush of trying something that tends to give you rose-tinted glasses every now and then. There are products which I thought were good that I don't really rate now, and then on the other end of the scale, there are products I wasn't too fussed over before and I now really like.

Lush Tea Tree Toner Water: I kind of just assumed that whatever Lush had in their products would be gentle and nice for my skin. I used to use this toner a lot and while it did smooth out my skin a bit and draw out excess oil, it contains alcohol, which I've since learned and accepted probably isn't the best for my skin. I think it's worth checking the ingredients of your products to see if there's anything like that, that probably isn't doing any good for your skin. More than that, I didn't really know if this was really doing anything - so goodbye it is to this Lush toner.

The Body Shop Seaweed Ionic Clay Mask: I pretty much regret buying this mask from The Body Shop. When I had it on, it always felt like it was draining my skin of any moisture and was overall too harsh. My skin tended to be a bit raw and red after this and I just didn't feel like it was doing my skin a favour.

Lush 9 to 5 Cleansing Lotion: When I bought this, I should have got a smaller size because I didn't even know if it was good or not. This cleansing lotion simply doesn't cleanse my skin very well - it's kind of like rubbing a liquidy lotion onto your face and sits on top. I'm not really a fan of the smell either.

The Balm Hot Mama! Shadow + Blush: Positive review time. When I first got this and tested it out and so on, I didn't like it all that much, mainly because I didn't think I suited the orange, coral tones of it. But for summer, I do really like putting some of this onto my cheeks to give me a bit of a glow and shimmer. I haven't tried it as an eyeshadow yet.

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer: I picked this up in America near the start of the year, and haven't got much use out of it. The actual formula is really smooth and creamy to apply, offering a decent coverage for under the eye, however I just don't think the colour is the best for me. It's very yellow toned (which is probably good for countering dark circles, actually) and so I just don't reach for it at all, really.


Emma
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16 December 2015

How I Plan to Stay Organised in 2016


Kikki K List Note Pad: When I was looking for something to spend my $10 Kikki K welcome voucher on recently, I decided to put it towards this To Do List Pad. It has various sections like 'The List' for general to-do's, 'Top Priorities' and even a record of how much water you are drinking and what you're planning to have for your three meal's a day. This is going to be my main organisational tool of 2016 and help me get through my blogging and Uni work. There are no dates attached to this pad so there's no worry of having to do this every single day - just when I want/need to. This is priced at around $16 NZD and I would recommend it if you need to get a bit more organised in 2016.

Electronic Apple Calendar: I recently put all my important dates and blog posts to do on my laptop's calendar and synced it with my phone. I have found over the past couple years that I don't reach for my paper diary as much as I would like, and I know that personally this is a better way of storing things. I am always on my phone and laptop, so it's just a much more efficient way of storing things, and I don't have to carry around an additional physical diary. On the Apple Calendar, there are colour coded tags, and I am using the blue for personal dates and events and then the purple for all the blog posts I am planning to write/have scheduled. You can also get notifications and reminders on your phone, so I won't forget anything.

Frankie Magazine Calendar and Wall Planner: This year I hung the 2015 Frankie Calendar on my wall but didn't really write anything on it, or use it for organisational purposes. I guess it's just something that looks pretty on my wall and I can see an overview of the entire month right in front of me. I preordered the 2016 calendar and I'm now waiting until the day I can hang it up on my wall. The latest issue of Frankie Magazine also includes a 2016 wall planner which I put on the back of my bedroom door. I plan to put all of my family and friend's birthdays on it like last year, and it just adds another bit of decoration to my room.


As for when Uni starts again, I probably be doing a blog post on how I'm going to stay organised with lecture notes and assignments. I've had one year of Uni now, so I feel like I learned from this year on how to organise things.

Emma
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14 December 2015

Bought and Liked | Opshop Finds


The other day I went opshopping for the first time in a while and picked up a couple of items which I'm quite pleased about! I've written a post on how to snag yourself something nice from an opshop here, so check that one out if you like. I really like going opshopping, and even if I don't get anything, searching for things is half the fun of it.


The two items I found and liked were from Paper Bag Princess (on K Road if you live in Auckland). The first item is this XL pale light pink (which looks white - I don't know maybe it was accidently dyed in the wash) and navy striped shirt (originally from AS Colour, which has some really nice quality basics). It was $6. Tip: always look in the men's section of opshops because this is a mens shirt and I often see really cool shirts.


It probably looks really basic and not exciting at all but this is like my favourite thing now. It's really big and you could almost wear it as a dress. It's really good quality, is quite soft and very comfy! I generally have a striped top addiction so I knew this one had to come home with me.


The other item I got was this $5 turtle neck/roll neck jumper, originally from a brand called 'Dazzlin' which I think is from China. (Btw I don't know about you - but when I'm opshopping I like to look at the labels/brands most of the time because sometimes you can detect the quality... oops, I don't know if I'm a brand snob).

This jumper isn't like great quality or anything (and it's a bit itchy) but I tried this on before looking at the price because I thought it looked cute in a grandma sort of way (which tends to be my style) and I was like... but it's summer... do I really need this. Then I looked at the price ($5) and my friend was like um, yes. You have to get it. When we were taking these photos my sister said I looked kind of like a soccer mom but in a cool way, so I don't know... I guess I'll be storing this in my closet 'til A/W and rocking that librarian look.


This little shopping trip reminded me I need to go out opshopping more. What about you, do you like going opshopping/thrift store shopping?


Emma
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11 December 2015

Making Time For Reading


I think it's so important to make time for reading. Often I get sick of looking at a laptop screen or phone all day, and I just need to do something that doesn't require technology. I think reading can be such a rewarding and fun thing to dedicate a lot of time to. This year more than ever I have been trying my best to read as much as possible and it's one of the best things I could have done. Every day life can mean you don't really have time for reading (or you say you don't), so here are some places/ways you can get your reading on. Stat.

Reading on Public Transport: Reading when you can't do much else, or you're forced to stay in one place for a fixed amount of time, is a really good way to get reading done. When I was at Uni, I started doing this near the end of the semester, and honestly I think I'm going to have to do it more next year when I go back.

Reading in the bath: This is something I have always done and it works so well when you're trying to get back into reading. Just think: you're forced to stay still and soak for anything from half an hour to a couple of hours, and with the book in your hands and bubbles around you, you pretty much can't not read. It's relaxing and I get quite a lot of reading done in the tub. Most of the time I take a bath just to get some reading done.

Reading before bed: Bit of an expected one, but reading before bed is really nice. Once you get hooked, you'll probably stay up 'til 3am wanting to find out what happens. The best way to feel tired in the morning, I think. As I said before, it's just nice to not use technology for hours on end before going to sleep, (not that I don't, all the time) but it's a good habit to get into. It will probably make you more sleepy as well.

Reading in public places: e.g. the park, in between Uni breaks, at the beach, etc. Having a book in your bag at all times is a pretty good idea as you might have some time to kill during the day, and what better thing to get out your book and finish off a few pages? I want to do more of that this summer, especially at the beach and park.


Anything to add?
Emma x
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9 December 2015

Out and About | The Auckland Fair

On Sunday I went to one of my favourite events of the biannual year (now moving to three times a year) - the Auckland Fair, which is an arts and crafts market run by Jessica Whiting. I've been a couple times before and there's always something pretty and aesthetically pleasing around every corner. This time I went with fellow blogger Sophie and had a mostly lovely time (it was rather quite crowded - but definitely bearable), even though we were there when it opened.








Despite not being able to take photos of some stalls (um, why?! free promotion), I still managed to take a few photos. Some of my favourite stalls were Clay Bird (pictured above, second), Wild Wagon Co, Helo Birdie (pictured above, first - I loved the print on the left!) and Amane & Me. Feel free to check out the links there because they have some pretty cute stuff. I love supporting artists/makers when I can, and buying handmade.

I didn't actually buy anything for myself there as it was a bit overwhelming to decide and I had a small budget. But I did pick up something for my sister and it was this 'To the moon and back' print from the stall Crushes.


So if you live in Auckland definitely check out the next fair. This one was held in Shed 10 at Queen's Wharf.


Emma
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7 December 2015

How To Save Money at Lush



If you're a poor student, you'll know the agony of having to choose wisely on pay day. Over the years of being obsessed with Lush, I've worked out how to save a bit of money and make the products I buy last.


Use bath bombs more than once: I do admit, it is nice to use a whole bath bomb. However, you can get two uses out of your standard bath bomb. Bath bombs are down the drain in one go, so you can save a bit of money by splitting them.

Use small amounts of bubble bars: What I usually do when I buy a bubble bar (e.g. The Comforter) is split a small piece off and run it under the water when the bath has just started running, so the water pressure and extra time makes the water fill with more bubbles. Don't necessarily crumble the living day lights of of it - hold it under the hot water and crumble gently so it goes further.

Buy the shower jellies over shower gel: The shower jellies literally last forever. They can be fiddly to use, but from my experience you can never get rid of it - they just stick around for ages. You can also use them for creating bubbles in your bath: just use a sifter (that thing you use to sift flour), stick the jelly in it and run water over it.

Ask for samples: If you are interested in something at Lush, but your'e not sure it's worth the money, ask for a sample. Most of the time, if you shop there quite often or pick up a few things, they will be happy to pop something in a sample pot for you. I once got a sample of a fresh face cleanser I wanted to try (Angels on Bare Skin) and it really did go a long way. I ended up not buying it because I wasn't in love with it, and there you go - I saved some money.

Go to Lush on Boxing Day: At least where I live, they have 50% off selected products and all the Christmas gift boxes on Boxing Day. Yes, you'll probably have to cope with the crowded, busy store, but if you're up for Boxing Day shopping this year it's a good way to save money.

Different products for different purposes: If you don't like a product, try using it for a different purpose. Lush products are made of fresh and natural ingredients, and they're often designed to be used for different purposes. For example, I can use a liquid face cleanser that I didn't really like on my face as a shower cream.

Return your used pots for a free fresh face mask: You probably know about this one, but it's something I'm yet to take advantage of. Help the environment and get a face mask free!


Hope you enjoyed reading this lil post. I would love to know if you have any other tips to save money at Lush.

Emma x
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2 December 2015

Reading List #4

As you know, I haven't been reading much lately. But I am going to change that. I'm planning to read A LOT throughout December and try to rekindle my love for a good book. Here are the books that I currently have and are on my list to read!

Everyday by David Levithan: I have actually finished this one already, because I was eager to start reading. It only took me a few days to finish this one and it's easy to see why. I found this book interesting (with it's concept, and the ideas about our universe/world it expressed), it was 'easy' to read in the sense I read it quickly, and it was beautifully written. A lot of books can be dull, but I found this one to be meaningful and interesting.

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen: This is one I've just started. I'm excited to read something a little different than I usually would. I think it's sitting on the verge of being classed as young adult and adult fantasy. From reviews or ratings I've seen so far, I'm hoping this one will be good. I'm really hoping it's going to be an exciting read with a strong female lead. Apparently it's turning into a movie as well, but I won't look up the cast just yet because I don't want to start imagining the protagonist as someone else's idea.

The Invasion of the Teraling by Erika Johansen: This is the second book of the Tearling series. I don't know too much about it and haven't really read the blurb because it might contain spoilers since I'm only on the first. Sophie kindly gave this book to me to review for her blog, so that was my incentive in getting into the first one now.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon: Once again, a book Sophie gave me for review. The Bone Season sounds really interesting. The basic premise is a nineteen year old girl who works in the criminal underworld of 'Scion London' and her job is to break into other people's minds to find information. Oh, and it's the year 2059. I'm excited to venture into slightly more fantasy/dystopian worlds right now.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain: I'm increasingly interested about the dynamics of introverts/extroverts. I'm an introvert, and I want to find out more about the concept, as well as what are the perceived benefits of being an introvert and an extroverted world, I suppose. I've been thinking about doing a blog post about this kind of thing, so maybe reading this book will spark some kind of idea. Who knows if this will be a good book, but hopefully I'll get something out of it.


What are you reading right now/do any of these books look good to you?

Emma
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