Friday, December 19, 2014

Lipstick of the Week: Barry M Lip Lacquer in Cherry Red

Probably one of the most festive lip products I own (it actually has little flecks of glitter in it), Barry M's lip lacquer in Cherry Red is a definite go-to this time of year. It does tend to be a bit drying, so I always wear some clear balm underneath, and apply probably three or four coats to get that rich, lacquer-like finish. 

Barry M is one of my favourite UK beauty brands -- great quality and variety at drugstore-level prices. As well as their lip products, I'm also a big fan of their range of nail polish. If you're ever in the UK or Ireland, I recommend you stock up!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

December Reading List & November Reviews

Wow, is it just me or has December been flying by?! It's hard to believe that Christmas is only a week away! Here are my (overdue) reviews for the books I read in November...

Modern Pick: Shopaholic to the Stars (2014) by Sophie Kinsella

In a Nutshell: When Becky's husband is offered a job in LA, the whole family make the move to Hollywood, where Becky tries her hand at being a stylist to the stars and gets up to her usual ridiculous escapades.

My Thoughts: It wouldn't be my favourite book in the series (I think the first four are the best), but I definitely still enjoyed it, and it has an exciting little cliffhanger at the end that lays the ground for an eighth book in the series (yay!!). I love Sophie Kinsella as an author -- her writing is clever and witty, and her characters are (for the most part) likeable. 

Would I Recommend It?: If you're a fan of the series and have read the six others, then yes, of course! Don't even think about reading it if you haven't, though... And if you're looking for something non-Shopaholic, I'd highly recommend her stand-alone novel Twenties Girl -- I've read all of Kinsella's books and this is one of my very favourites. 

Classic Pick: Agnes Grey (1847) by Anne Brontë 

In a Nutshell: Based on Brontë s own experiences teaching the children of wealthy families, Agnes Grey explores the world of the Victorian governess and the hardships these women often faced. 

My Thoughts: It's hard for me to not enjoy a novel written by any of the three Brontë sisters -- all three of them have such an astute, heartfelt way with words, and, unlike many classic novels, theirs never seem to lag in places or get bogged down with unnecessary wordiness (although their sentences can be long). 

Agnes Grey is what I would call a quiet read --  you know exactly where it's going, there are no shocking twists and turns, and the whole novel is narrated by the gentle, mild-mannered heroine herself (no switching back and forth between narrators as is the case with other Brontë novels). 

Would I Recommend It?: If you've never read Anne Brontë before, I'd recommend reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall first -- it would definitely be my favourite of her two novels. But, of course, if you're a dedicated Brontë fan, then it's definitely worth a place on your to-read list.

This past month, the books I've been reading (and will be reviewing next month) are:

Modern Pick: Where'd You Go, Bernadette? (2012) by Maria Semple

It seems that everyone and their mother has read this book -- along with Gone Girl, it's just one of those "it" books that's been popping up everywhere over the past year or so. It's gotten rave "laugh-out-loud funny" kind of reviews, so I thought I'd give it a go... 

Classic Pick: The Mill on the Floss (1860) by George Eliot

I started reading this book, oh, about five years ago for a Victorian Literature class and got halfway through before other stuff got in the way. I like to finish what I start though, so thought I'd finally get round to ploughing through the last few chapters this month.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mint Magic

Vicky recently had a styling project for school that she needed two models of course Claudia and I were more than happy to help a sista out ;) I'm not thrilled with how my hair/make-up/awkward poses turned out, but I thought I'd throw these photos from the shoot up anyway. The skirt was just used for the photo-shoot, but the sweater is a definite keeper! Mint green is one of my favourite colours, and I love the embellished neckline (you can see it more clearly in these photos). 

Sweater - Topshop
Skirt - Lord & Taylor via The Bay
Heels - Steve Madden
(Make-up artist's make-up used)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Best Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled eggs is one of those of those tricky dishes that seems simple enough to prepare but can so easily turn inedible. After some disastrous attempts, I'm proud to say I've finally got making the fluffiest, most flavourful scrambled eggs down to a fine art, and I thought I'd share my tips...

{You'll need these...}

{...and only TWO ingredients! (Toppings optional)}

1. First of all, I would highly recommend that you use free-range eggs -- seriously, they taste so much better. In terms of how many to use, I think 2 eggs per person is a reasonable amount if this is a main meal and you're hungry (as a side dish, 1 per person should be good). 

2. Melt a pat of butter in a non-stick skillet pan on medium heat. While the butter is melting, beat the eggs vigorously, and for a bit longer than you think you should (this is key to having them turn out fluffy). You can use a whisk if you like but I find a fork is easier. 

3. Once the butter starts bubbling, turn the heat down to low and pour the mixture in. Be sure to stir and fold the eggs constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula. In the later stages of cooking, you can add some toppings for some extra flavour should you so desire (I tossed in some grated asiago, but you could also try scallions, chopped tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach...). Oh, and here's a tip: do NOT add milk/cream at any stage of the process -- it's an unnecessary ingredient that can make eggs turn out rubbery.

4. Now comes the tricky part: trying to decide when they're ready! As a rule of thumb, it's best to take the pan off the heat just when you think the eggs are nearly ready (they should still have a bit of a runny look to them), as they will keep cooking for a bit longer thanks to the residual heat in them. 

5. And there you have it! A simple, tasty, and not-unhealthy meal in minutes. I like my scrambled eggs on buttered toast, preferably with a side of smoked salmon. Deeelicious!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Festively Nautical

While I'm fond of the classic nautical-inspired combination of blue, red, and white, there's something just so intrinsically summery about those colours together that it puts me off wearing them this time of year. However, if you exchange the blue and red for navy and burgundy (and add a dash of sparkle somewhere), you've got yourself a look that's decidedly more festive and wintry. And hey, I'm even getting a head start on 2015 with my marsala-coloured jeans ;)

Sequin-collared Breton tee - Banana Republic
Blazer - Dynamite
Coated jeans - H&M
Boots - Steve Madden
Silver cuff bracelet - Forever 21
Nail polish - La Moss by Butter
Lipstick - mix of Rebel (MAC) and Majella (NARS)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Lipstick of the Week: Hourglass Grace

I would definitely consider myself a strong lip rather than bold eye kind of person when it comes to make-up...but that's not to say that I don't enjoy a good smoky eye from time to time. And, as we all know, the only possible pairing for an intense eye is a subdued lip. You'd think a basic nude lipstick would be an easy thing to find, but I found it next to impossible to find the perfect shade -- all the ones I tested out were too pale, too chalky, too golden... And then Grace, this little Hourglass freebie from Sephora, came into my life and it was exactly what I was looking for. Described as a "light peachy beige," it's the perfect nude shade for fair skin.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

5 Favourite Shops: Best for Tall Girls

I'm 5'9", which is not super tall, but it's still tall enough to find certain stores a nightmare to shop in when it comes to finding clothes of a decent length (*cough Forever 21 cough*). Here are a few favourite brands I find are kind to those with longer limbs...

1. Gap
Most of Gap's jeans come in three sizes -- regular, petite, and tall -- and believe me, their "tall" sizes are long (I actually only need a regular length myself). I find their sweaters, dresses, and coats are also very generous in terms of length.

2. J. Crew
J. Crew's Creative Director, Jenna Lyons, is over six feet tall, and the brand's most famous patron, Michelle Obama, is 5'11"... needless to say, this is a store that caters very well to taller women. 

3. Dynamite
While I don't own any trousers or skirts from Dynamite, I find this Canadian brand is surprisingly great for length in things like blazers and cardigans.  

4. Topshop
This British high street staple has a Tall section actually in store, which I appreciate (most stores that have tall sizes only carry them online). However, a word of warning: this line caters to women 5'7" and taller, so if you're 6"+, you might find some items are still a little on the short side. I've found that some of their supposedly "Tall" dresses are not particularly long, but you can definitely notice the difference in things like sleeve lengths. 

5. Banana Republic
Part of the Gap Inc. company, BR is a great place for both tall and petite women to check out. Most locations have a Petites section in store, but the Tall range can only be found online (unfair but at least they have one, I guess!). However, I find that most of the regularly-sized stuff found in stores is actually lengthy enough.