Monday 28 April 2014

A Wander Around Greenwich

As much as I love living in the countryside, I'm a city girl at heart. Nothing makes me happier than a day out in London, and I will always jump at any opportunity to go. If I'm honest, shopping trips probably account for about 90% of my London visits, but I do like the odd bit of culture every now and then too! Over Easter, I got the chance to visit the Turner exhibition at the Greenwich Maritime Museum with my family.

Now I'd love to recommend that anyone who loves art should go to this exhibition if they possibly can, but there wouldn't be much point in me doing that, because it's already finished. I know, I know, why am I teasing you like this, I hear you ask. Well, unfortunately, we only found out about it at the last minute and were lucky to catch it ourselves. What I will say though is that I would definitely recommend looking out for any future exhibitions of Turner's work if you're an art lover. He was fascinated by the sea and devoted a lot of his career to trying to capture its movement, colours and light. Some of the paintings were really beautiful and I could have stared at them for hours.

While we were in the area, we took the opportunity to take a little stroll around Greenwich, which was thoroughly enjoyable. There is just something about London. Every time I'm there I always feel that little bit more alive, even if I've felt groggy and tired on the journey, as I did on this occasion. Everywhere you turn there are a thousand and one interesting things to look at. Greenwich is definitely no exception and I left with a long list of things I want to go back and visit.

The Royal Observatory. I'm sure I must have visited this place as a child but I think I would appreciate it more now. Totally random fact here - back in the late nineties or early 2000's there was a TV drama in the UK called Longitude. Does anyone remember it? (I'm guessing not. It's usually just me who remembers these obscure shows!) It told the story of an eighteenth century clockmaker, John Harrison, who was the first person to develop a clock which would reliably keep time while at sea. This was hugely important as it meant that, for the first time, seafarers were able to calculate their position with a greater degree of accuracy, leading to fewer ships getting lost and wrecked. The time pieces Harrison created are displayed here. Did I just make all that sound deathly dull? OK, moving on swiftly...

How cute is this giant ship in a bottle? This is just outside the entrance to the Maritime Museum.

The Cutty Sark. It's quite an amazing sight to see this beautiful ship standing majestically in the middle of the urban sprawl. She was a cargo ship, built in the second half of the nineteenth century to carry tea from China to Britain. She was designed both for speed - the first cargoes to arrive commanded the highest price - and for strength, to withstand all the storms the high seas could throw at her. I'm doing that history lesson thing again, aren't I?

The old and the new. I love this - London's history unfolding before your eyes. On the right is the Royal Naval College. On the left, of course, is Canary Wharf.

To finish up, here's what I wore. Yes, I'm looking at the floor again. I can't seem to take these photos any other way. Perhaps I'll learn in time?! The outfit itself is not terribly exciting, and it looks like I'm dressed for the middle of winter, but it was cold in London that day, I tell you!

Jumper - River Island (now in the sale!), Jeans - Topshop Jamie (of course), Boots - Zara, Jacket - Warehouse, Bag - Zara

Have you been to Greenwich and any of these sights? Which of them would you recommend? Bonus points if you've seen Longitude!

Kate x

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Good Friday Fun

The Easter weekend was a busy time for me. Lots of family to entertain, lots of chocolate to eat. Actually, I still have lots of chocolate to eat. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it!

The festivities began when a group of us met up at a little local pub for dinner on Friday night. I finished up getting ready in a bit of a rush, but I still managed to grab a few photos.

T-shirt - Topshop (old), Blazer - Zara (old), Jeans - Topshop Jamie (similar here), Boots - H&M (old)

At this point I would just like to take a moment to thank Topshop for creating the Jamie jean. I used to long for a jean that combined the structure and sturdiness of the Baxter with the sleek, leg-hugging qualities of the Leigh/Joni, and then I discovered the Jamie. It's like they answered my prayers!

My leopard print T-shirt is also from Topshop and is a couple of years old. It's made from a silky fabric which gives it a touch of luxe and makes it perfect for dressing up for the evening. A blazer makes everything look a little smarter, as does a sleek pair of heels. I went for an ankle boot style because we were walking to the pub and it was a bit nippy. I am such a baby when it comes to the cold.

As I said, I was in a bit of a rush, so makeup-wise I went for a bold lip. I love a dramatic eye but find them quite difficult to do, so a bold lip is my failsafe for evenings out if I haven't got much time.

Face - Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation in Cool Bone, Collection Lasting Perfection concealer in Fair, Rimmel Stay Matte powder in Peach Glow, Bourjois Delice de Poudre bronzing powder. I lightly dusted the bronzer all over to give me a warm glow. I never contour because I have quite prominent cheekbones with natural hollows beneath them. Contouring is not a good look on me, unless it's a fancy dress party and I'm going as a skeleton.

Eyebrows - Rimmel Eyebrow Pencil in Black Brown to define the shape, Eyelure Shape and Shade Brow Palette - the darker powder and the wax to set.

Eyes - I used an ancient Chanel duo, but essentially it's just a creamy colour all over the lid and a warm mid-brown blended into the crease. I curled my lashes and applied Collection Fat Lash mascara.

Lips - YSL Rouge Pur Couture in Le Orange, which has been my favourite lipstick for a while now. I fell in love with it when I saw it on Kourtney's lips in Keeping up with the Kardashians a few seasons ago, and as soon as I found out what it was I rushed out to buy it. At £23.50 (at the time) it was the most I'd ever spent on a lipstick, but it was worth every penny. The colour is an amazingly vibrant orange/red and the formula is creamy and a pleasure to apply. I always blot and reapply my lipsticks several times to improve their longevity, and this one stays put beautifully for a night out.

We had a lovely dinner in a very loud and lively pub. The food was simple and really good.

Why settle for a plate of steak and chips when you could have a whole chopping board full?

Pistachio-flavoured crème brulee. This was amazing.

I hope everyone who celebrates Easter had a great holiday!

Kate x

Friday 18 April 2014

Ciate Pillow Fight

I have a love/hate relationship with pastel nail varnish. That is, I love it, and it hates me. Every Spring I'm seduced by the rows of candy-coloured bottles lining the makeup stands, and inevitably end up making a purchase... or several. Yet no matter how beautiful pastel nails look on other people, they just never seem to work on me. I've tried pinks, I've tried blues, I've tried greens, and they all look too pale or too stark or... well, just a bit rubbish, really.

But I've recently discovered this little gem - Ciate Pillow Fight. It's a soft lilac with a greyish undertone and seems to be more muted than most pastel shades. Perhaps, strictly speaking, it's not even a pastel at all, and perhaps that's why it works with my skin tone. Whatever the reason, though, it's a lovely colour for Spring and I can't seem to get enough of it at the moment. It's hardly been off my nails this past few weeks.

I hadn't tried Ciate polishes until the end of last year, when my sister and I were given an advent calendar full of their mini bottles to share between us. We couldn't decide how to divide up the colours, so we ended up just ripping the calendar in half (amicably, I hasten to add!). Pillow Fight is one of the shades I ended up with and possibly my favourite of the lot. While some of the colours are very streaky and difficult to apply, this one glides on smoothly and tends to last three to four days without chipping. I'm wearing two coats with a Seche Vite topcoat in the picture above.

What are your favourite Springtime nail colours?

Kate x


Wednesday 16 April 2014

Clarins Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil

Lately my skin's been feeling softer and looking decidedly more "plumped" than it usually does, and this facial oil from Clarins is definitely the reason why. It was given to me as a Christmas present, but for one reason or another I hadn't got around to trying it until a couple of weeks ago. Since then, I've been wearing it under my moisturiser at night and, so far, my skin seems to be loving it.

The packaging is nothing special, but the product itself feels like a really indulgent, luxurious treat. While it is quite expensive, a little goes a long way and my 30 ml bottle is likely to last me several months. Clarins recommends warming a couple of drops of the oil in your hands before patting it gently into your skin, and that's exactly how I've been applying it. It seems to linger for quite a while before sinking in, leaving a slight filmy residue on my face. Now, in theory, that's annoying, but in practise I really like it. It actually feels pleasant, and reassures me that my skin is getting an intense moisture hit. By the time I wake up in the morning it has been completely absorbed and my face feels soft as silk.

A lovely added benefit of this product is that it smells absolutely wonderful. In addition to the blue orchid, it contains patchouli and rosewood oils, so while it lingers on your skin as you snuggle down into bed, you are also breathing in this gorgeous aroma which is so natural and soothing. I'm sure it's helping me drift off to sleep at night. It's almost like getting a bonus aromatherapy treatment on top of caring for your skin.

Before I started using this, my skin was feeling quite dehydrated and tends to be dry in general, and indeed Clarins does recommend this product for dehydrated skin. It certainly feels very rich, so perhaps wouldn't be suited to oilier skin types. If yours is dry like mine, however, I would definitely recommend checking it out. I have used serums in the past and generally liked them, but this is my first experience of using a facial oil and I have to say I love it!

Have you tried this oil? Or are there any others you'd recommend?

Kate x


Saturday 12 April 2014

Scarlet and Black

When I dug out my much-loved and much-worn Zara wedges the other day (to wear with the new dress in this post) I was forced to face a cold hard fact. As much as I do still love them, they are falling apart. The stitching is coming away at the ankle straps and they are slightly stained (I know - ugh) with several years' worth of sun cream and fake tan. In short, they are officially knackered.

I shouldn't really have been surprised. I've had them so long that I can't even remember buying them. Sometimes, classic pieces just seem to look good year after year and you only end up saying goodbye to them when you've worn them to death. That's definitely what I've done with these wedges, and since they were my one and only pair, I decided it was high time I went looking for some new ones.

Now I normally have great difficulty in replacing a favourite item. I want the new to be exactly like the old and find it difficult to be satisfied with anything else. On this occasion, however, I simply walked into the shoe department of my local New Look and fell instantly in love with these.

For me, these are the perfect wedges. I don't tend to like them too chunky or with too much of a platform at the front, and the proportions of these are spot on. They're also comfortable and easy to walk in... and they're under £20. When I found this out, I'm not ashamed to say that I had absolutely no guilt about buying them in red too.
Black goes with everything, of course, but I just couldn't resist the red ones and think they'll look amazing with little white dresses in the summer. They're also available in navy and mint green. Those are lovely too, but I think I'll stick with the two pairs... at least for now!

What's your favourite summer purchase so far?

Kate x


Tuesday 8 April 2014

Sunshine in a Vase

I love receiving gift cards. I also love rediscovering one several months after receiving it and getting to do a little unexpected, guilt-free spending. That's how I ended up becoming the proud owner of this vase from Zara Home a couple of weeks ago.

I love having fresh flowers in the house, but don't get around to buying them that often, so I'm hoping that this lovely new purchase will inspire me to fill my home with beautiful, sweet-smelling blooms on a much more regular basis. In fact, as soon as I unpacked this vase I couldn't wait to use it, so I dashed out into the garden and picked a few daffodils, just to see what they would look like in it.

I really love it. The simplicity of the shape and colour contrast beautifully with the intricate design, and it looks just as lovely sitting empty on my windowsill as it does when it's full of flowers.

There is something deeply satisfying about the simple act of arranging flowers in a vase. Sometimes, life gets so busy that I am tempted to sacrifice little pleasures like this, feeling that they aren't important and that I really don't have the time. Yet I know that when I make the time, they can boost my mood in a surprisingly powerful way.

Maybe the little things aren't so little after all.

Kate x

Thursday 3 April 2014

Fringe Benefits

Last Monday, I paid a visit to my hairdresser. I'd been toying with the idea of having a fringe cut in for months, and on Monday I finally took the plunge. I'm so glad I did. I was ready for a change and I'm loving my new look.

Before I gave Claire the go-ahead to do her thing with the scissors, I did quite a bit of research, and I'd really recommend this to anyone contemplating a major change to their hair. The internet is packed full of inspo when it comes to fringe hairstyles, so if you're thinking about it, make sure you take a good look around at what the options are. In my case, searching through images online helped me to get a much clearer idea of exactly what kind of fringe I wanted. It also provided me with the picture I eventually printed out and took along to the salon with me.

I've been going to Claire for years and she has always struck the perfect balance between listening to my ideas and making her own suggestions - the most important quality in a stylist, in my opinion, other than their actual technical skill. Even so, I have learned the hard way that it is better not to request a big change to your hairstyle without a visual aid. Words are easily misinterpreted, and the last person you want to have a breakdown in communications with is the person with scissors in one hand and your crowning glory in the other. I once made a casual remark to a (different) hairdresser about the way my hair hangs at the back of my head, and ended up leaving the salon forty-five minutes later sporting a mullet and on the verge of tears. Needless to say, I never returned.

This time around there were no such dramas. Armed with my picture, I was confident from the beginning that Claire and I were on the same page. Literally. Below is the finished result. Please pay no attention to the slightly miserable look on my face - I really do love my new hair!

The fringe works for me because I have a small, narrow face. Long hair can drown me unless it's very carefully styled, while short hair makes me look like an urchin boy from a Dickens novel. The fringe just seems to lift and frame my features nicely, and I'd definitely recommend it as an option to anyone with a similar issue. That said, from my research I can tell you that there are more variations of the fringe out there than you can shake a stick at, and definitely one to suit any face shape or hair type. (Yes, I spent FAR too long Googling this. I also spent a ridiculous amount of time squinting in front of a mirror with a chunk of hair clasped to my forehead, but the least said about that, the better.)

Well, I think I've written more than enough about hair for one day, so I'll sign off for now.

Kate x

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