Wednesday 28 May 2014

Floral Dress, Red Shoes

As I mentioned in my last post, I went away recently and had no time to blog while I was there. Hence why I got up on Sunday morning, put on the dress I'd worn to go out to dinner during my trip, and asked my husband to take photos of me in the garden. He was slightly bemused as to why I wanted to spend my spare time doing such a thing, but indulged me anyway.

The dress I wore is a year or two old, but the shoes are the wedges I bought recently from New Look and blogged about here. I usually wear the dress in winter with opaque black tights and towering black heels, but bare legs and red wedges make it look decidedly more summery, so it's a good multitasker! I went for a sleek ponytail to counteract the "girliness" of the rest of the outfit. At least it was sleek until I stepped out into the force-ten gale in my garden. Still, you get the general idea!

Dress - Warehouse, Wedges - New Look, Blazer - Zara, Earrings - Accessorize, Bracelet - Links of London

On my lips is Revlon's Colourburst Balm Stain in Rendezvous. I bought it in my ongoing quest to find the perfect orange lipstick, but although it looks very orange on the back of my hand, it looks red on my lips. I'm starting to think my natural lip colour just turns all orange shades red! I like red though, so it's all good.

On a completely different note, I joined Twitter recently, so click on the little birdie on the right if you fancy following me there!

What's your favourite multitasker in your wardrobe?

Kate x


Tuesday 20 May 2014

Five Minute Makeup

Last week I took a trip to South Yorkshire for work. Before I set off, I had a lot of grand plans for all the blogging I was going to do while I was there, but as it turned out I was just too busy. I particularly wanted to do a post on the lovely restaurant I went to on the last night, but by then I was so tired that my first few photos came out rubbish, and after that I just gave up and focussed what was left of my energy on stuffing my face.

I clearly need to stop letting work get in the way of blogging!

On the bright side, the fact that I was so busy meant that I had to be really quick with my makeup in the mornings, and that in itself provided me with today's post. On my last day I managed to grab a couple of photos, so without further ado, I bring you my five minute FOTD. It's very pared down, so not terribly exciting, but great if you're in a hurry.

I based this look around two products I picked up shortly before I left for Yorkshire: Maybelline Volum Express Turbo Boost mascara in Very Black and L'Oreal L'Extraordinaire liquid lipstick in Molto Mauve.

The mascara was actually a bit of a rash purchase. My main requirement is usually something that gives some volume, but lately I've also been thinking about trying a curling mascara - my lashes are long but dead straight and I always feel that I rely too heavily on my eyelash curlers. So I'm not quite sure why I went for this as it's another purely volumising product. It's definitely a no-frills mascara, as the plain packaging and slim bristle wand would suggest, but that said, I do like it. It certainly makes my lashes look thicker and darker, and other than the curling aspect, that's pretty much what I look for in a mascara. It also feels nice and light to wear.

I really love the liquid lipstick. I picked one of the nude shades - Molto Mauve - and it's one of the nicest nude lip products I've ever owned. The sheen of it is so pretty. It feels silky on the lips rather than sticky and it applies like a dream - one swipe and you're done. While the staying power isn't amazing, it's so quick and easy to reapply that this really hasn't bothered me. The packaging is also very cute and I'll definitely be picking up a few more shades.

So once I had put together glossy mauve lips and thick dark lashes, I realised that my makeup would already look quite pulled-together and I wouldn't have to do too much else. Perfect for the last few mornings when I haven't had much time.

This is what I'm wearing:

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.

Eyebrows - Rimmel Eyebrow Pencil in Black Brown, Eyelure Shape and Shade Brow Palette.

Eyes - I curled my lashes - still no escape from those eyelash curlers - and applied the Maybelline mascara.

Lips - L'Oreal liquid lipstick in Molto Mauve.

For me, this is about as stripped back as I'm ever likely to get when it comes to makeup and it literally took me five minutes. I have been known to waste embarrassing amounts of time putting my face on so I was pretty impressed with my restraint!

Have you tried L'Oreal's liquid lipsticks? What's your favourite shade? Also, any recommendations for a good curling mascara?

Kate x

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Blondes Have More Fun

I began this post with the intention of explaining my whole hair colour story and giving a detailed description of how I apply my own highlights at home, but it started to get REALLY long. Not to mention boring.

So I deleted that sucker.

Instead, I bring you the abridged version (which is still long - you may want to skip bits, or indeed all of it), together with my thoughts on the Jerome Russell Bblonde Highlighting Kit based on my experience of using it over the past year and a half.

Firstly, let me just say that if anyone had told me a couple of years ago that I would end up lightening my naturally mid-brown hair - let alone that I'd be doing it myself with an at-home kit - I would never have believed them. I'd never been interested in changing my hair colour before. But the unwelcome appearance of premature greys coupled with an allergy to PPD (the active ingredient in virtually all hair dyes) essentially left me with two choices: grey... or blonde.

Bleaching or highlighting hair is a completely different chemical process from dyeing it - no nasty PPD in sight - and very effective at disguising grey hair. I really hated those greys, so I took the plunge and went for blonde.

Why I ended up doing it myself rather than going to my salon I'm still not entirely sure. I'm usually a complete baby when it comes to things like this and crippled by the fear of everything that could go wrong. But I happened to spot a DIY highlighting kit while browsing in Boots one day and, very uncharacteristically, threw caution to the wind and went for it. As it turned out, I couldn't have been happier with the results, and I've been doing my own colour ever since. While I wouldn't rule out going to a salon in the future, this method suits me just fine for now.

Let's face it - who doesn't want hair like this woman? Just look at her. She knows how irresistible she is.

In my opinion the quality of this Jerome Russell kit is excellent. I've tried a couple of others but this delivers the best results by far - at least for me. If your natural colour is any darker than light brown, as mine is, bleaching becomes more difficult to achieve, and this kit is specifically designed to work on all shades of hair, even black.

To give you a brief idea of the application process, the first thing you do is perform a skin patch test and a strand test - this second test is to determine how long you need to leave the bleach on to get the colour you want, and if your hair is strong enough to take it. Then you put on your highlighting cap. This has tiny holes all over it, through which you pull strands of your hair with a small metal hook. Then you mix together your bleach and developer and apply it generously to those strands for the predetermined time, checking it carefully at regular intervals.

And that's it. Slightly more complicated than an at-home dye, but not exactly rocket science. If you want a more detailed description of how to use such a kit, there are plenty out there, especially on YouTube, so I wasn't sure how helpful it would be for me to add another to the mix. Besides, once you get the basic idea, it really is just a simple case of following the instructions provided. However, for anyone who might be considering giving this a go, some of the things I've learned through using it might be worth knowing, so here goes:
  1. Pulling your hair through the cap is by far the most annoying and time-consuming part of the process. It takes me a good couple of hours. It's really important to keep the strands quite fine and as uniform in size as possible, and take care not to accidentally skip too many holes. While a friend's help might be useful, I have always managed to do this by myself - you just need an extra mirror for the back. Basically, the more care you take over this step, the more professional the finished result will look. Be patient!
  2. Err on the side of caution when it comes to the length of time you leave the bleach on. This will vary for everyone, but I have found through trial and error that twenty minutes is enough for me to get the caramel colour I want. Even though your hair might look scary when you first remove the cap - mine honestly looks radioactive - don't panic until you have washed and dried it. It will look very different then. If it's still not blonde enough you can always bleach it again, but you cannot take back over-lightened or frazzled hair. (This is particularly good advice if you have a PPD allergy like me - dyeing over it with another colour is not an option!)
  3. Even if you're still not sure of the colour once it's dry, wait a week and wash your hair with purple shampoo (see below) a couple of times. This stuff works miracles and you'll probably find that the colour will mellow out so nicely that you no longer want to bleach it again. I think that people with brown hair worry a lot about brassiness when they are using bleach, but I have personally found it to be only a very temporary issue when the process is freshly done, and sometimes even then it doesn't look brassy at all.
  4. Be a complete goody-two-shoes about following the instructions, performing the safety tests and checking the time while the bleach is on your hair. It's just not worth the risk of something going wrong.
I did my roots at the weekend and this is me right after I finished drying my hair. I forgot to take a "before" picture because I'm annoying like that, but if you check out this previous post you can see the difference now that my roots are lighter.

Finally, my hair would like to introduce you to its two best friends.

As I said, purple shampoo works wonders at keeping any brassiness at bay and this one by Provoke is both cheap and really effective. And while bleached hair is always going to be drier than non-bleached hair, a good deep conditioner once a week helps mine to stay soft and sleek, or at least as soft and sleek as it ever was. I love this one from Herbal Essences.

Have you tried at-home bleaching? Would you ever consider it?

Kate x

Friday 9 May 2014

The Liebster Award

I would like to say a big thank you to Natasa from Simply Me for nominating me for the Liebster Award. I'd never heard of it before, but it seems like a really lovely way for new bloggers to connect with each other. Thanks so much for thinking of me Natasa!

Without further ado, here are the rules:
  1. Post the award on your blog
  2. Thank the blogger who presented the award and link back to their blog
  3. Write 11 random facts about yourself
  4. Answer the 11 questions posted by the presenter and ask 11 for your nominees to answer
  5. Nominate 11 bloggers who you feel deserve this award and who have less than 1000 followers
  6. Let the nominees know you have nominated them
Well, 1 and 2 are done, so on to 11 random facts about me!
  1. I'm a perfectionist
  2. When I was a teenager, I would only read classic literature such as Jane Austen, Dickens and Tolstoy
  3. Now that I'm a "proper grown-up", I read stuff like The Hunger Games and Divergent
  4. I'm a chocoholic
  5. I've written a novel, but no one wants to publish it... yet!
  6. I hate sports, but love yoga and pilates
  7. I cannot eat liver - the smell of it turns my stomach
  8. I lived in Brussels on and off for about 13 years - Great city
  9. Despite the above, in the immortal words of Girls Aloud, I can't speak French, so I let the funky music do the talking
  10. My understanding of Dutch on the other hand is not too shabby
  11. I'm obsessed with Alex, the talking parrot. (Google him!)
OK, some of those may have been just a little too random. So let's move swiftly on to Natasa's questions:
  1. What is a bad habit that you have? - Worrying too much about EVERYTHING
  2. Do you wear makeup on a daily basis? - Only if I'm leaving the house!
  3. What is your favourite makeup brand from the drugstore? - I flirt with all of them, but I'd probably go for L'Oreal
  4. Do you like your first name and would you ever change it? - When I was about 5 or 6 I wanted to be called Kitty. Not sure why. I think I wanted to be a cat. Now I love my name and would never change it - it's part of me
  5. Do you have any pets? - Sadly no. My lovely cat Lucy died a few years ago. I would love to have more pets
  6. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be? - Somewhere with lots of sunshine, beautiful beaches, great restaurants and amazing shopping. I've never been, but I imagine LA to be like this
  7. Why did you start blogging? - I'd finished writing a novel and was missing something creative in my life. I've loved blogs for years so finally decided to start my own
  8. Do you prefer gel or liquid liner? - I tend to use either a Kohl pencil or Collection's Extreme 24 hour felt tip liner. Is that liquid? Not sure
  9. What is your guilty pleasure? - The Kardashians. I secretly want to be one
  10. What do you do to relax? - I love a hot bath with some aromatherapy oil
  11. What was the best thing that happened to you? - Meeting my husband
Here are my questions for the nominees:
  1. You are being marooned on a desert island and can take only one item of makeup with you. What would it be?
  2. What's the most treasured item of clothing in your wardrobe?
  3. Who or what inspired you to start blogging?
  4. Which do you prefer - bright lips or dramatic eyes?
  5. What's your favourite book and/or film?
  6. What is your dream holiday destination?
  7. Who is your biggest fashion inspiration?
  8. What would you say is your best character trait?
  9. What's your biggest fear?
  10. What is your favourite food?
  11. What's your current favourite nail varnish shade? 
And here are my nominees. I could only really do this based on Bloglovin followers, so my apologies if I've got it wrong or indeed if you've done this already. Please feel free to ignore me! In any case I have really enjoyed discovering all of your blogs so just wanted to share the love!

Jenny Spends Pennies
My Fashion Fixes
Christine G
Beauty Soup
Citygirl From Europe

Well, that was fun! Thanks again Natasa for the nomination.

Kate x


Tuesday 6 May 2014

The Nutmeg, Tenterden

One of the best things about working for yourself is being able to slip out of the office (aka the spare bedroom) on a slow morning and drive into the countryside for a cheeky coffee break. That's what my husband Mike and I did early last week when the sun was shining and we were both feeling the need to step away from our computer screens for an hour or two.

We live in East Kent, and one of our favourite things to do is visit the different towns and villages in our local area, trying out the various cafes and restaurants. Tenterden is a busy little market town with an interesting high street and lots of quirky, independent shops and eateries. We always enjoy a drive out here and a wander around, not to mention a hefty chunk of cake at one of the many cafes in the centre.

On this occasion we decided to go to The Nutmeg. Located just off the main high street, it's a small but beautifully formed deli and coffee shop and boasts a counter stuffed full of tempting homemade treats.

I had a pot of tea and a delicious slice of chocolate sponge. The buttercream in particular was beautiful and I could have eaten a bucket of it... though I would quite possibly have regretted that afterwards. Mike had lemon cake and a cappuccino, both of which he gave a very definite thumbs-up. I'm not really a coffee drinker, but if you are and you're in the area you may be interested to know that this place has some excellent reviews for the quality of its coffee on Tripadvisor. As the sun was shining we enjoyed sitting outside, though the inside is well worth a nose around. Despite having only a tiny space to work with, the owners have created a very inviting, cosy environment and have clearly lavished a great deal of care and attention on making the place beautiful.

Afterwards, we took a little stroll along the high street to walk off the cake. Then, sadly, it was time to go home and get back to work.

I dressed as a cowgirl for the occasion. Because this town just ain't big enough for the both of us.

T-shirt - River Island, Cardigan - H&M, Jeans - Topshop Jamie, Jacket - Warehouse, Hat - Topshop (similar here), Boots - H&M, Bag - Zara

Have you ever been to Tenterden? What did you think?

Kate x

Thursday 1 May 2014

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick - Impassioned

Last Saturday I learnt exactly how susceptible I am to advertising. The answer is VERY, at least when it comes to makeup. Earlier in the week, Estee Lauder uploaded a picture of their Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick in the shade Impassioned to their Instagram feed. It was posing seductively by the sea, all shiny and gorgeous in the sunlight, and as soon as I saw it, the following thoughts ran through my brain:

  1. I NEED this lipstick for my summer holiday.
  2. I cannot possibly contemplate going on holiday unless I have this lipstick.
  3. If I do not own this lipstick, my life will suck.

In my defence, it had occurred to me on a previous occasion, independently of any advertising, that I might like to own a lighter, more orange version of YSL's Le Orange (a gorgeous lipstick which I mentioned here). Judging by the Instagram picture, that's exactly what Impassioned was.

However, when I picked it up in store I could tell that it was a lot redder than the picture had suggested, redder, in fact, than the YSL. Yet such was the power of that beachside image that I bought it anyway. I know. I'm hopeless.

Incidentally, my Mum, aka my shopping partner-in-crime that day, bought Powerful, which is a beautiful mid-pink shade. Mum suffers a lot from FOMO (fear of missing out). I believe her exact words were: "If you're having a lipstick, I'm having a lipstick." She's ended up with a gorgeous product that she loves and that looks great on her, which is generally how things seem to work out in the happy world of Mum.

So back to Impassioned. Do I regret my rather rash purchase? Well, it is very similar to the YSL. Very, very similar. If it had been more orange in colour as I initially thought, I'm sure I would have loved it, but I didn't really need another red/orange. Definitely not at this price point (I paid £24). On the other hand, it's a really beautiful lipstick. The colour is lovely, the formula smooth and creamy, and it is hands-down the nicest-smelling lip product I've ever owned. Honestly - it smells of pralines.

It's slightly messy to apply and has a remarkable talent for finding its way onto your teeth, but then that's true of most bright lipsticks. The packaging is attractive, if not particularly special, and the magnetic closure is a nice touch. The only thing I can't comment on is its staying power, as I have yet to wear it out. All in all, I like it, and I would definitely consider trying more shades in this range. (Preferably ones that are different from lipsticks I currently own, next time.)
Now I just need to find that perfect orange shade. Any recommendations? And what do you think of the Pure Color Envy lipsticks if you've tried any?

Kate x
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