Friday, 30 August 2013

Fashion Friday: Autumn/Fall and Winter Fashion

The nights are getting longer, yes I said it! Ok, so 'ding-dong-merrily-on-high' may seem a few months away at this time of the year with the sun blazing, but the truth is that autumn/winter stock is already in shops and in a month or so the air will get chilly. So why not peer into the future and see what's on trend? Well, if my style goggles are correct then a splattering of 1960s, tailoring, fur, tartan and black are all in order. Check out Cara Delevigne's look below. I can't wait for the tartan!

Carpe Diem xx

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Title Tuesday: The Casual Vacancy First Impressions Review

Today I bring you a 'first impressions' post on J.K. Rowling's 'The Casual Vacancy' (2012), which I am currently reading:

If I told you that last year a British female author published a book centred around a parish council election, and that it is 503 pages long, then I'd forgive you for thinking that it might be a bit of a yawner. However, if I also told you that this author is the awarding winning creator of Harry Potter and famously richer than the Queen then I'm sure you'd be more interested. And you probably were. If you were swept up in the frenzy that was the release of J.K. Rowling's 'post-Harry Potter' work then you may have read it. Yes, I'm talking about The Casual Vacancy, which I am finally working my way through.

The book is set in the fictional West Country town of Pagford and deals sensitively with the gigantuan issues of class, politics and social deprivation. The parish is set into a frenzy when Parish Councillor Barry Fairbrother dies suddenly. As the story unfolds so does the drama of the lives of the residents of Pagford, whose personalities and daily struggles are eked out through the chapters. Whilst Rowling's liberal leanings shine throughout I am impressed with this novel, which was possibly met with more anticipation than any book ever. I'm don't think it could stand up to Harry Potter's success, but some how I don't think that is the point. The Casual Vacancy is also set for TV adaptation in 2014.

Carpe Diem xx

Saturday, 24 August 2013

How To Clear Hormonal Dry Skin: Simple Spotless Skin Triple Action Face Wash Review

Most people with oily skin, breakouts or acne say that they would kill for dry skin as it's generally accepted that it's easier to manage. However, as I found out recently dry skin really does need treating and managing as much as oily skin. I have dry skin and as much as it is usually pretty spotless, come that time of the month the inevitable happens and my skin is a mess.

This gets even worse with stress, so last week I started testing Simple's Spotless Skin Triple Action Face Wash at night. In three days my skin was almost clear! I'm not sure I can claim a miracle, but alongside drinking more water, a face cloth and eating cleaner this face wash is a must have high street beauty find.

A translucent, white formula that foams when used with water creates a satisfying face wash and really clears breakouts. I personally love Simple's natural and basic ingredients as well as their philosophy. I would definately recommend anyone try this and even agree with the statement 'results from Day 1'!

Carpe Diem xx

Saturday, 17 August 2013

How I Organize My Bags: In Bag Organizer Insert Review

Yes, just as you thought my organisation series had finished here comes another one! Hello there! Since my recent 'how I organize my handbag' posts for my small crossbody and medium handbags I bought this organizer insert for handbags. Let me explain, as I've said before I've always liked to think of myself as organised, but like many women my handbag/bags are often a disaster zone. As happens all too often YouTube magic occurred and I discovered bag organizer inserts. In short, organizer insert are pouches that keep everything you need all the time tidy, allowing you to transfer everything from one bag to another in one smooth move. I bought mine from WMA on Amazon. Even better, it was £3! £3 I here you ask. Yes, but it was made in Hong Kong and the shipping took over a week, but overall I am extremely pleased with this nifty gadget and would recommend it to anyone.

Here's what I keep in my organizer pouch at all times (from top left to right):
1) Lip balm: Boots Essentials Strawberry Lip Balm
2) House keys
3) Lipgloss: No. 7 High Shine Lipgloss 'Smile'
4) Antibacterial wipes
5) Soap and Glory feminine products pouch
6) Denman's travel hairbrush/mirror
7) Reusable tote bag
8) A Pen
9) A Notepad
10) My Mobile
11) Emergency medical kit
12) Lipstick: Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipstick 'Vintage Pink'

Carpe Diem xx

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Watch Wednesday: Lesley Sharp Who Do You Think You Are Review

Yes, I know, another Who Do You Think You Are/Family history review, but I promise I do have a life and some more comprehensive reviews are on their way as well! Last night Lesley Sharp (Scott and Bailey English actress) appeared on her own Who Do You Think You Are, a fascinating episode which primarily investigated her biological father's line (a complete mystery to her before the show). In a change from the rest of the series the episode took Lesley to Canada to investigate her paternal great-great grandparents. Adopted at five weeks old, Lesley only discovered her birth parents names in adulthood.  As is the case with family history programmes, Lesley's story serves as a prime example of family history research as a route into social history. As such, the programme is as much an insight into Victorian poverty, Barnardo's ragged children and adoption and illegitimacy in the 1950s as it is into the actress herself. A great watch.

Carpe Diem xx

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Title Tuesday: How Green Are My Wellies review

2009 might seem like a long time ago now for many, but at the time it marked a sea change in rethinking about thrifty living, as the UK Labour boom years were followed by the economic collapse and eco crises of 2008-2010. Wartime spirit is now upon us, in the last couple of years reusable bags are adorning shopping trolleys and 'Keep Calm and Carry On' has been adapted for every possible scenario. As such many people are sick of being lectured to. Some are self-proclaimed hippies who have lived thriftily all their lives while others look on with a 'I'm-not-drinking-that-hemp-smoothie' look in their eyes. Whilst it's true that living like this would save a lot of energy, it is also unrealisitic for many. Which is where Anna Shepard, self-proclaimed 'eco-worrier'. Giving tips on saving energy at home, in the office, and at Christmas and parties, Shepard's tips appear easy to put into practice. I wonder if many people aren't already putting these ideas into practice. An informative read and a Mrs-Beeton-style household Bible for the green age!

How Green Are My Wellies?: Small Steps And Giant Leaps To Green Living With Style (Anna Shepard), Pub. 2009, is available from Amazon for £5.99

Carpe Diem xx

Monday, 12 August 2013

Makeup Monday: Maybelline Rocket Volum' Express Waterproof Mascara Review

Today I'm very excited to bring you a mascara review! I love mascara and believe that it is one of the most essential makeup items for a minimalist look. Recently I've even been wearing it solely with concealer and lipgloss. Eyes are the 'window to the soul' and mascara has the power to completely transform your look. Here's my opinion on Maybelline New York's Rocket Volum' Express mascara in Waterproof.

Volumising: Pretty good at adding volume to lashes but I think it's much more of a lengthening mascara than the name would suggest. Not quite as miraculous as its high-end counterparts.

Lengthening: I would say that this mascara is a real lengthening mascara rather than volumising and really helps if you have short lashes. However I personally prefer much thicker, volumising mascaras as  I have long but fair and sparse lashes.

Waterproof: No complaints here! Seems pretty resistant to water and isn't easy to remove.

The Brush:
One of the thickest brushes I've ever used and therefore one of my favourites! Mascara brushes can have the biggest difference on how the product looks on your lashes and it's down to personal taste, but this one works for me. Easy to handle!

Before: ('scuse the tired eyes!)


Final Thoughts: Overall, great for a natural day makeup look. However, if you're looking for a full-on full-face makeup look for a special event or night out then something more volumising like Maybelline The Falsies would work better.

Maybelline Rocket Volum' Express Waterproof Mascara is available from Boots for £6.99

Carpe Diem xx

Saturday, 10 August 2013

2013 Travel Series: How To Pack Stage 3: Last Minute

The final and often most important stage of packing is not actually the packing itself but the 'last minute' stuff. It's likely that you will be using the vital things you need for your trip up until the last hour or so before you leave (i.e. toothbrush, hairbrush, phone), and you might therefore forget to bring the extras that aren't packed securely in your suitcase. To avoid this why not try these tips to avoid stress:

1) Make a 'do not forget' list on a Post-It, index card or journal to tick off before you leave

2) Keep a pile to one side of the clothes that you want to wear on the day that you leave to travel. Plan your 'travel outfit' at the same time as you plan your holiday outfits and pack your clothes

3) Make sure you keep everything that you might need accessible when travelling (medication, travel itineries, passport, etc.) readily available, for example in an outer pocket of your suitcase or in your hand luggage. I keep my important documents in a clear Rapesco folder

Carpe Diem xx

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Watch Wednesday: Una Stubbs Who Do You Think You Are review

This kick-off to the tenth series of what is becoming a British institution proves that one of the most important elements of the show is personality. The charming, sweet character that comes across whenever actress Una Stubbs is on screen, sporting a black beret, makes the episode, but it is her family's story that's at the heart of it. As is often the case in Who Do You Think You Are, and in family history in general, you don't have to look far to unearth a hidden past. 

Una knew little of her family and learns more about her grandparents, specifically her grandmother who grew up in poverty in York and followed Una's career without her knowing, and her great-grandfather Ebenezer Howard, founder of the idealistic Welwyn Garden City. A great start to the series and a sign of good things to come, although I'm sure fellow enthusiasts will agree that  the programmes only touches on some of the more interesting stories.

Who Do You Think You Are, Wednesday 24th July 2013, 9pm BBC1 is available on BBC iPlayer

Carpe Diem xx

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

2013 Travel Series: How To Pack Stage 2: Packing

Organise everything that you want to pack in your bag or suitcase into designated piles. Start by packing towels, trousers, and tops in the bottom. Put the stuff that you will need to access easily on the top (jackets, shoes, etc.), as well as anything that might get damaged, creased or squashed.

Where possible compartmentalize your stuff into bags and containers to reduce damage from spillage or dirt. One tip I learnt last year is to roll your underwear and pack it into separate compartments in your suitcase/bag (see top left).

Carpe Diem xx

Monday, 5 August 2013

2013 Travel Series: How To Pack Stage 1: Prep

I think I'd describe myself as an 'enthusiastic packer'. I love travelling and going to new places, seeing new things, and I'm usually the first to start packing because it's a process I kind of enjoy as it makes me feel that I'm extending my holiday. So welcome to my 2013 Travel Series, a series of posts full of tips and tricks that I have picked up through some trial and a lot of error!

Stage 1: Prep
The key to being an organised, relaxed packer is in the preparation. Step 1 is to look up the weather forecast for where you are going. Whether you are staying at home or travelling half way across the world it's always a good idea to plan a series of flexible outfits around unpredictable weather.

Write a list of everything you will need to take with you under headings such as: 'Tops', 'Trousers', 'Underwear', 'Toiletries' and 'Electronics'. If you need to then this is the time to do last minute shopping for extra clothes or toiletries that you might need.

Finally, get out handbags, rucksacks, suitcases, etc. that you will want to pack everything in and lay out everything on a bed or large surface.

Carpe Diem xx

Friday, 2 August 2013

Foodie Friday: Summer Ham Hock and Mushroom Pasta Bake Recipe

75-100g pasta per person/portion
Ham hock pieces
Handful of cumin seeds
Cheddar cheese
Pine nuts
Bread crumbs

1) Put water onto boil and put your choice of pasta into cook when boiling
2) Make Bechamel/cheese sauce
3) Fry mushrooms separately in a saucepan and boil the broccoli (or other veg if you wish)
4) Mix the sauce into the pasta and place in an ovenproof dish
5) Mix in the mushrooms and ham hock
6) Top with breadcrumbs, cumin seeds, pine nuts and grated cheddar
7) Brown in the oven for 10-15 minutes

Carpe Diem xx