Sunday, 30 November 2014

Lazy Sunday Brunch : Spicy Avocado, Ham & Eggs

As much as a Sunday roast is always a great idea at the end of the week...

Sometimes, you (or, I, more specifically) just really can't be bothered. I want to l sleep-in, lounge around and have quick & easy food to hand. That's where this little concoction comes in. 

Toasted, warm bread, crushed peppery avocado, salty wafer thin ham & a runny fried egg topped with chilli flakes. It basically has it all; creamy, crunchy, salty & sweet - and it's so, so easy to 'make' (really just a case of piling everything on top of some toast).

The process is about as simple as it gets : 

Heat the frying oil of your preference in a pan. While it's warming up, scoop out your avocado and mash with a bit of pepper in a bowl (I used a whole one for two slices of bread; half an avocado is more than enough for one person). Crack in your egg & cook to your liking - I'm all about a runny yolk. The messier the better. Then toast your bread and assemble! Don't forget the chilli flakes & pinch of extra pepper. 

Tuck in straight away; knife & fork if you're fancy, hands if you want it in & around your mouth - and be amazed at what minimal effort can produce! 

For me, it really is the perfect lazy Sunday brunch. Nothing ground-breaking, but super delicious and something I, apparently, can't get enough of. Let me know if you give it a go! I think I want to try it with bacon next... because, bacon. 

Hope you're having a lovely Sunday, whatever you're up to!


Thursday, 27 November 2014

The Blogger I'm Not

I feel like I've been having a bit of a blog identity crisis lately.

A continuous circle of 'what am I doing?' and 'I don't like where this is going.' I don't know why, but I feel a little bit disconnected, a little bit pushed for time and a whole lot confused. 

You see, I started this space during my Year Abroad, in a peaceful little village in Southern Spain. I posted whenever I wanted, about whatever I wanted (I don't recommend trying to find those posts, by the way) and  I enjoyed the sense of freedom & spontaneity that came with it. Fast forward numerous name changes, a growing readership & generally taking blogging as a more professional outlet, and of course, things have changed - a lot. 

Everyone has upped their game in the blogosphere. Editorial look-books and magazine worthy beauty posts have become the norm. I'm not complaining; things change and you either have to move with the times or fail trying to fight against it. I'm just not sure if I lost a piece of myself and who I really am, what I love to post about and what I truly want to share, along the way. 

I found myself setting up unwritten rules on how often I should post; piled on unnecessary pressure for something that is, essentially, a hobby; I started writing for stats, rather than what I enjoy - and I don't know if you can tell, but my heart just isn't in it 100% anymore. If anything, pushing myself to post 3 - 4 times a week has resulted in quantity over quality and I've reached for the easier option (beauty) over things that will take more time (illustration) - which is not what I want this space to be. 

That doesn't mean to say I'm going to stop certain aspects of what I post - perhaps just a slight change of direction.
Because, I'm not the blogger who will always have the newest, latest product or be invited to the biggest pr events (nor will I probably ever be). I can't cook like a chef or bake like a GBBO contestant, nor have the patience to plate it in a pinterest-way. I don't have a unique look or a crazy, interesting lifestyle. I'm not immensely knowledgable in one particular area. I can't apply my make-up like a pro or do my hair in any sort of style, and lets not even talk about manicures... but that's just me. 

I applaud those that have built their empires on exactly that, that's what people are good at and/or interested in, plus that's what a lot of people want to see. I love reading them, too, but when it comes to recreating or putting my own spin on it - something just isn't clicking at the moment. 

I'm not saying I'll never post about beauty or haircare, etc, again; lets face it, I'll always love make-up, but maybe I'll leave the majority of it to the pros; just sharing a couple of my favourites with you  here & there and I'll stick to more personal posts in the meantime. 

Perhaps nothing much will change - perhaps I'm (definitely) just rambling, but a little self-reflection never hurt anyone... 

Have you ever had a blog identity crisis?


Sunday, 23 November 2014

The Early Birds Christmas Gift Guide : Independent Brands

Another week down, another week closer to Christmas! *squee*

I'm so excited now; the Christmas lights are twinkling, the German Market is robbing us for, what is essentially, a hot dog and there's so much shiny stuff everywhere - my magpie tendencies are really going into overdrive. Ah, it's a magical time of year, isn't it? I can't get enough. 

Anyway, if Christmas 'tat' isn't your thing and you'd like to give a unique & handmade gift this year, there are some really great independent brands around. So I thought I would haul them all together for another Early Birds Christmas Gift Guide...

I love to shop independently, as you're supporting a local businesses, you're not buying something that absolutely everyone will own and more often than not, you get something created with love & great craftsmanship. 

Which are your favourite independent brands?


Thursday, 20 November 2014

Five Daily Beauty Essentials

I love a full face of make-up as much as the next girl, but sometimes I like to keep it minimal.

The kind of minimal you can do with your eyes shut (if you ever had to - because that happens all the time...) Anyway, I've found myself reaching for a few trusty favourites that can take me from half-asleep to looking slightly more put together, in a matter of minutes. 

Corrector : Funnily enough, if I could only use one single beauty product, it would probably be a corrector. I have quite deep set eyes which give the wonderful illusion that I forever have big, dark bags under them - no matter how much sleep I get. A pink toned concealer, like the Bobbi Brown corrector, can really brighten up your under-eye area and, in my case, really make a huge difference in how I look. 

Mascara : Being fair-haired, naturally my eyelashes are quite light and without the help of mascara, it basically looks like I don't have any. A quick swipe of Maybelline The Falsies (about my 10th repurchase - no exaggeration) or The Body Shop Define & Lengthen can make me go from looking like a thumb to having lovely long lashes. 

Brow Pencil : Again, #fairhairedproblems - my eyebrows aren't too terrible without the help of powder or a pencil, but I definitely notice a huge difference when I do give them a quick once over. They frame both my face and my eyes, essentially, so it's worth neatening them up and defining them slightly. My two favourites are Mac Omega shadow, applied with an angled brush, or Hourglass Arch Sculpting Pencil in Soft Brunette

Blush : Even when I don't bother with foundation, I like to add a hint of colour to my face as I think it can make you appear so much more glowing & radiant. I keep reaching for the Stila Convertible Colour Blush in Lilium and Mac Cubic as they're such pretty, natural shades and can really perk up my skin in a couple of swipes. 

Lipstick : I only started wearing lipstick in my twenties as I always assumed it was either bombshells or grandma's that wore it - but now barely a day goes by where I don't apply some colour to my lips. There are so many lovely colours, but as a general rule I tend to apply one similar to whichever blush I've opted for. My current favourites are Mac Impressive and Lipstick Queen Jean Queen for a hint of pink. 

What are your daily essentials?
And if you could only use one product, what would it be?

Have you read Amelia Writes blog yet? You should! 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Products Of The Day #13 : The Body Shop

I think my first ever eyeshadows came in the form of the Body Shop shimmer cubes.

They were pigmented & beautiful and I was hooked from the get go. If you've read my beauty posts for a while, you'll have seen their Honey Bronzer pop up on more than one occasion and their brushes are up there with some of my all time favourites. So when I was asked to take part in their 'Testing On Bloggers' campaign alongside the RSPCA (something else I'm sure you know I'm passionate about - animals, of all fluffy shapes & size) - I couldn't say no.

Before I talk about the products, I think it would be hypocritical to not point out that, yes, I do own make-up from brands that sadly, somewhere down the line, test on animals. It's a heartbreaking situation and something that, in this day and age, should no longer be a necessity. I have, in the past, tried to purchase only from brands that don't test on animals, but it's such a tangled web of lies and carefully placed words, that it almost becomes an impossible task.

Thankfully animal testing was banned throughout the EU in 2009, however the great people at the RSPCA are continuing to fight to make a change and hopefully make this suffering a thing of past, throughout the rest of the world. As someone who has worked with the RSPCA, (when I used to work in kennels - best job ever), it's really a cause I'm 100% behind and just reading about it has given me a little bit of a wake-up call as to who I buy from. You can read more about the Makeover the World campaign here.

Of course, The Body Shop are renowned for their ethics and anti-animal testing stance, so it's lovely to try out more from a brand that is not only competitively priced but has a great background behind it. So here's the look I created!

I started by brushing through my brows with the Brow & Lash Comb(always a handy little tool to have). Then, I applied the Colour Crush Eyeshadow in Oh, Honey* all over the lid with the Eyeshadow Brush*; adding a little bit of a matte brown shade in the socket for extra definition. The shadows are really nicely pigmented, soft & buttery to apply - everything you could want from an eyeshadow! The brush is super soft, but possibly not the most ideal for blending, although great for packing on lots of colour.

Followed by a little cat-eye flick using their Liquid Eyeliner*, which was really easy to use and didn't transfer or smudge. Then to finish off, a coat or two of Define & Lengthen Mascara*. It has a nice, tapered wand, which made it easy to separate and elongate the lashes, plus it didn't budge or flake throughout the day - always a bonus!

On my face, I used the Shimmer Waves* palette in Blush (I feel like everyone has owned one of these at some point - my mum is a huge fan!) which added a lovely hint of pink with a subtle amount of sheen & shimmer. Then, the star of the show; the Colour Crush Shine Lipstick* Shade 18. I've got to admit, at first glance I was a little put off by how bright it was, but as it's a 'shine' lipstick, it applies very sheerly, although it can be built up easily, too. The formula is lovely and soft, super moisturising and leaves a nice sheen to the lips, making it perfect for everyday wear.

This campaign has definitely opened my eyes again to animal-testing and as much of a beauty junkie as I am, it has made me think twice when buying certain cosmetics. Here's hoping animal-testing will soon be a thing of the past.

What's your favourite Body Shop make-up product?

*these products were kindly sent to me to review. all thoughts/opinions are, as ever, 100% honest

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Dear Santa : Herbert's Christmas List

It's not everyday you're asked to let your pet take over your blog... 

But when I was very kindly contacted by Pets At Home, asking if Herbert would like to send a little wish-list to santa this year, I couldn't resist the cuteness. So without further a do, here are a couple of little things Herbert has 'paw' picked, including a letter to the big man himself.

Snuggly Tunnel / Crinkly Robin Toy / Furry Santa Hat
Willow Balls / Cosy Suede Bed / Flashing Christmas Balls

It's not always the easiest thing; shopping for a pygmy hedgehog, but it was lovely to see some 'small pets' toys & cuddly items that I know Herbert will love. I was really impressed by all the cute Christmas gifts for dogs & cats too; you can see more of the range here. There's definitely something for everyone!

He doesn't chew on things, so flashing balls will be perfect for nudging around. And that little santa hat? Well... I just couldn't resist. He normally sleeps in a pouch, but he does enjoy scooting through tunnels and walking about on comfy beds, so I know he'll love those two cosy looking additions to his 'house', too. And of course I'll keep you updated on what he thinks (lets face it, we won't be able to wait until the 25th!) 

And he's off. Bye, Herbs!

Do you buy your pets christmas presents? 
Are you as crazy as we are?

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Tips For Blogging On A Budget

It's so easy as a blogger to get sucked into the hype & excitement of the 'next big thing'

They're placed into the hands of all the right people, (who the majority of us follow, hence why they get the product in the first place), and before you know it, you can't scroll through a page of Instagram photos without seeing it repeated on six different white backgrounds, claiming how fantastic it may or may not be (normally the former).

You can't blame the blogger or the brand; they're doing it right, they're doing their jobs and they're creating a lot of fuss. Everybody wants to get their paws on it and that's obviously the aim of the game, right? 

But not everyone can afford to splash out on the latest fad. It may very well be 'life changing'  (it probably isn't, but thats a whole other story for another day) and you may want to give your right arm to have it, but sometimes that budget just wont stretch. AND THAT'S COMPLETELY FINE. 

I very rarely post anything remotely new or hyped up on this blog anymore. This year has been a tight one and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I think I've mentioned a few times that I've been using up everything I've got before buying something new, or how I've swapped luxe products for cheaper (and just as good) alternatives. 

And I'll be honest, I don't think it has hindered my blog at all. In fact, I may go as far as saying it has improved my posts as they're always going to be individual and slightly different to whatever the current trend is and that's something you should embrace. 

So here are a couple of tips for blogging on a budget...

1. Revisit your stash : If you're a beauty lover, you probably have tonnes of items you've neglected for the latest release - we're all guilty. Have a route through, maybe post about your 'rediscovered favourites' and have a trip down memory lane, or try out a new make-up look with things you once loved but have since overlooked. The options are endless!

2. Blog sales : You know what they say, one mans trash is another mans treasure; blog sales are really great places to look if you have a specific item in mind that you really want to try. Normally, things tend to be around half the original price and although it isn't a shiny, brand new product - it's still what you were after at a discounted price. win, win!

3. Look around : I like to think inspiration is everywhere. Take your camera with you wherever you go & you'll more than likely to find something to blog about. Be it, a cosy night in; some of the beautiful sights you see on your way to work, or even a pug party... It's all free of charge and will make your content more individual & personal to you (which in turn, makes me want to read it).

4. Dupes : There's a dupe for everything nowadays. Everyone is copying each other and as I'm sure that's frustrating for some brands, it's really great for those of us that want to try something new but don't want to pay the high-end price tag. For example, L'Oreal Eau de Teint is almost an exact dupe for Giorgio Armani Maestro - L'Oreal own Giorgio Armani and therefore there are a lot of similarities in their lines (and many other high end brands owned by L'Oreal); the cheaper version brought out only a few months after.  

5. Don't give in to the hype : Be patient. Wait until the hype around a product has gone (a month, minimum). This is the time when, if a product is truly good, it will pop up in favourites posts or be used in tutorials, rather than just a one-off post. A lot of bloggers are very honest and selective with what they review, but then again, they didn't have to pay for it. And I always feel like there's a quite a big difference between, what is essentially, a free product and paying for it with your own money. 

Overall, I think there's a lot to be said for blogging on a budget. I'm not criticising anyone who doesn't, I just think that having the latest 'new-in' product isn't the be all and end all. If that's what you're looking for, you may not find it here, but I know what I do share is well loved and I think that counts for a lot. 

What do you think? 
What are your tips for blogging on a budget?

If you're after a beautifully written, personal blog - check out Amelia Writes!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

The Early Bird's Christmas Guide : For Her

Yes, I did just drop the 'c' bomb!

Christmas is less than seven weeks away and for those of us that want to spread out the costs, being organised is a great way of going about it. I normally love shopping in December, when it really feels festive, however it helps the ol' purse string to think ahead and start buying a few bits & bobs every now and again!

So I thought I would start an 'early birds christmas guide' series, once a week, leading up to December. Just in case anyone else needed a little kickstart in the inspiration department! Today's theme is for the lady in your life, be it your mum, sister, best friend or partner! 

I really loved putting this together & I'd be more than happy to receive anything on that list, so I hope it has served as some inspiration for you too! *flurry of christmas excitement!* I can't wait to start buying things! 

Nails Inc Winter Wonderland Set / Diptyque Baies Candle / One Line A Day
Fat Face Melbury Check Pants / Oliva Burton Watch / Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow 
Design Bloggers at Home / Cubic Zirconia Studs / Hedgehog Slippers / Snowflake Hot Water Bottle

Are you an early bird Christmas shopper?
I'd love to know if you like this kind of post!

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