Sunday, 31 August 2014

I LOVE CHARITY SHOPS!


This is a Charity Shop appreciation post, because I love them! Yes sometimes they're full of useless crap, yes sometimes they smell, and yes there is the possibility that the previous owner died in it (the clothes not the shop), but who can resist cheap clothes? Not me. Loads of stuff in my wardrobe is second hand, I love the fact that you can add some uniqueness to an outfit with labels you would never usually go for.

Yesterday I had the time to have a good ratch round (is 'ratch' just a northern word for 'rummage' or does everyone know what I mean by that) and found a few lovely items that I'd like to shere with you today.


The first was a lovely dark floral patterned dress which buttons up the front. It's really comfortable to wear because it's over sized and made from a light and airy cotton fabric. I know summer is over but I love this, and I feel like it would really work as a layer with a jumper or cardigan over the top, especially as the collar would peep out of the top.


The next item is also over sized, except it's made of red velvet *swoons*. It is my ultimate weakness, I have to buy anything made of velvet, I'm obsessed! I feel like this would work really well over some black skinny jeans or tucked into something high waisted.

If you ever want to have a 'ratch' in a charity shop yourself, here are my top tips:
1. Don't get obsessed with labels - buy an item if you like it and don't be put off by a label you've never heard of before.

2. Don't go looking for something specific, e.g. red tartan skater skirt - you are not likely to find it.

3. Look out for stains (ones that won't come out in the wash), holes and tears in the item.

4. Remember that you don't actually have to wear the item - you could use the fabric to make something completely different instead. This is much cheaper than buying actual fabric.

5. Don't be scared to stray from the women's section, go to the men's section once in a while - think over sized t shirts and jackets. Also, the children's section (something might fit you!).

6. When you get your finds home make sure you wash them before you wear them - this goes without saying really, unless you want to smell like an old woman, if so go ahead.

7. Share your finds with me! I'd love to see what you pick up, link in the comments please!

Thanks for reading.

Emily



Friday, 29 August 2014

STUDENT SKINCARE AND MAKEUP

As I'm going to uni soon I've been trying to find a good skincare routine that not only cares for my sensitive skin, but doesn't break the bank either because I can't afford it. The search has been troublesome and time consuming (perhaps that was a bit melodramatic - but it did take a while) but I'm happy with my finds!


So to start things off I cleanse my face with Herbalism from Lush. I've talked about this product before in my July Favourites post here, it's really helped my skin, I love this stuff! Then I use  a toner and a light moisturiser both from Simple - I swear by Simple I've been using it for years, it's perfect for my sensitive skin.


Make-up wise I start off by using a primer, something that's fairly new to my make-up collection because I've never thought to use one before, it really does help keep your make-up looking fresher for longer. This one is actually from Wilkinson's own makeup brand that you can find in store, but don't be put off by how cheap it is (I picked this up for an amazing £4!), it mattifies your face to stop too much shine and smooths out pores. Next I use Lush's Colour Supplement in Jackie Oats which I also talked about in my July Favourites post, nevertheless this product is great for someone as pale as me! Next are the most expensive items in my makeup collection from Benefit. I've tried and failed to find a cheap alternative for their Boi-ing concealer, but it's too good to replace, it's amazing for my dark circles under my eyes. Then I sweep on some of their Hello Flawless powder in Ivory (the lightest shade once again). As for my eyebrows I use the Brow-zings also by Benefit. This has a wax to shape brows and then a powder to set so it lasts for a long time, it also comes with its own cute little angled brushes. For my eyes I use Avon's Extra Lasting Liquid Eyeliner to create a flick on my top lids, this stuff really is extra lasting, it stays on with not smudging for up to 12 hours! Then to finish, one coat of Avon's Aero Volume Mascara on my lashes, and I'm done.

If you have any alternative or cheaper products for me to check out please comment and let me know (I'm always looking for alternatives). Thanks for reading!

Emily x

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

FAVOURITE ARTISTS - MARIA RAQUEL COCHEZ

I have quite a few favourite artists, so I thought I'd introduce you to another. If you haven't read my post about Jenny Saville see it here. Another favourite artist of mine is the very talented Maria Raquel Cochez, who's acrylic paintings really inspired a project of mine called 'Distorted Figures' as part of my A Level art course.






At first glance Cochez's work seems fun with the bright patterned backgrounds behind portraits of people seemingly enjoying different types of food. I have never seen anything like this before and I was interested to find out more about the concepts behind the work, and so I read her artists statement (read it here) which cleared a few things for me. First of all, I started to spot some underlying themes in her work which include self esteem issues, body image dysmorphia and eating disorders. The people in the paintings are all binging on unhealthy food, as if they've resisted for a long time and have finally given up, which explains the eating disorder themes. I noticed that the lighting in the paintings was unusually bright, I think this gives the impression of a spotlight, like the people in the paintings feel like they're being watched. In addition to this, they all seem rather embarrassed or ashamed of what they're doing, as if they've let themselves down. My favourite part of the paintings is the colourful patterns and prints on the backgrounds which make the paintings brighter and more eye-catching, in fact, I think this gives a more commercial feel to the work, like it is imitating an advert. I feel like Cochez also touches a bit on consumerism, the pressure to maintain a certain body shape and the struggle to resist all the unhealthy food that is not only readily and easily available, but it is advertised everywhere.

Not only is Maria Raquel Cochez's work addressing issues that I myself struggle with (just one of the reasons why I love her work) but she is also addressing her own problems and struggles. her work is incredibly personal and she often produces self portraits. According to her artist statement she actually struggles with an eating disorder herself, I think this is why I find her work interesting, because she is speaking from experience.

If you like Cochez's work you should check out her website here where you can see all her work. What do you think of it? Did you spot any themes personal to you? Anyway, thanks for reading and I'll see you soon.

Emily x

Monday, 25 August 2014

HERE GOES

One thing I don't really seem to have talked about much on my blog is my own work, which I think is odd because art and being creative is very important to me and a huge part of my life (so it should be, I'm studying it!). So I don't really know why I haven't shown you my work before, I suppose I've been a bit nervous because art is how I express myself and my drawings are very personal so I suppose I wasn't ready to show them to you, until now. The drawings I'm going to show you in this post are just random snippets out of my sketchbook which I take everywhere with me, I plan to show you some of my actual projects and series sometime in the future though. Although these sketches aren't particularly brilliant they all mean something to me and remind me of a place or a person or a memory, so I hope you enjoy them.
 






The first and second drawings I made when I went on a little break to Hebdon Bridge in Yorkshire with my boyfriend and my closest friends. It was so beautiful there, the valley was so picturesque with the steep hills and lovely old buildings, especially the old mill buildings with huge chimneys, it was really inspiring. The next sketch is actually one I made at work. I work in a little Chinese takeaway place near my house an that's my view of the kitchen. Also, that is an actual order receipt that I stuck in there! The flowers are from Adam's garden which is lovely, and were drawn using my Derwent Inktense pencils which I love. The last is my observations of Adam while he was reading next to me, I just really wanted to capture how absorbed he was while reading and his hands holding onto the book so delicately.

So there you go, a little snippet of my sketchbook! I hope you enjoyed it, comment if you love to sketch too, I'd love to have a look at your drawings, I love looking at other peoples' drawing styles it's really interesting and inspiring to me. Anyway, thanks for reading and hopefully I'll include more of my art in the future.

Emily x

Thursday, 21 August 2014

SCAFELL PIKE ADVENTURE


I'm sorry I didn't upload this post yesterday, I was utterly exhausted (and enjoying Bake Off) so I didn't manage to post it. Anyway, yesterday me and my Dad went fell walking up Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England. It's about an hours drive from my house, so we set off early and got stuck in. Scafell Pike is 978 meters high, and I'm not going to lie, it was very hard! It took us 6 hours to get up and down the mountain, and some parts were very steep so I struggled at times. We took regular breaks though and took a load of food and water to keep us going, including some rather nice flapjack I made the day before, I was thankful for it I needed the energy.

I've got to say, even though they didn't exactly look amazing, I was very thankful for my walking boots on the way up the mountain. A good set of boots is the most important thing to take with you when fell walking as they support your ankles, without them I would have definitely twisted my ankles on the loose stones on the way up.

The first photograph is of a 'Cairn' which are basically large piles of stones that are used on the bigger mountains to show walkers where the path is, they were really helpful to us because it was quite easy to get lost. Cairns are most useful when the fog comes in, which can be quite quick and unexpected when you're so far up, and sometimes the fog is so thick you can only see a few meters in front of you. Thankfully this didn't happen to us, but if it had we would have just followed the Cairns which appear every few meters to help us get back down to the bottom.

The last photograph is of me and Dad at the top. You could see for miles up here, and we even got a glimpse of our hometown which as I said, it's an hours drive away! You could see all the way along the coast, and the different colours of the farmers fields made patterns in the landscape, it was so pretty. As we were higher than all the other mountains around us we could see a lot of the mountains in the Lake District as you can see on the last photograph.

Yesterday was very fun and I'm glad I did it, although my legs are aching today! Time to relax and recharge today. Have you ever been fell walking? I definitely recommend fell walking to anyone, there's no better feeling than reaching the top of a mountain and being able to enjoy the view.

Emily x

Monday, 18 August 2014

A LITTLE TREAT

I hope you all had a lovely weekend, I had a good one (despite being in work) celebrating getting into uni and my results! I feel like all the work I've done all year has finally paid off and I'm really proud of myself. Anyway, I went on a little shopping splurge on Saturday to celebrate and I'm going to show you what I bought!




Clothing-wise I picked up quite a few things that I've been looking out for for a while. I was very pleased with the dress I got from the sale on Missguided which is awesome so go and check it out! I've been wanting a daisy printed dress for a while and plan to wear this one with a fedora, docs and black tights. The denim skirt is from New Look and was also in the sale (I love a bargain can you tell) I love the bleached floral print on this skirt and it was an amazing £9 so I'm very pleased with that. The T shirt is from T K Maxx in the men's section and doesn't need an explanation because it has a bear on the front which is just awesome. I love the jeans I got from H&M, I'm a big fan of the jeans from here because they always fit really well on me and are really comfortable - I'm normally a leggings type of girl because jeans feel like they're strangling my legs, but these ones don't. Also, I can't usually wear high-waisted jeans or shorts because I have a hollow back (it bends in towards the middle) so they usually gape and don't fit me properly but because these are stretchy they fit me really well!

I had a little browse in the make-up section of Topshop, I've never tried their make-up before so I decided to try one of their lip bullets in 'Bewitched' because I'm a sucker for dark lipstick. I also picked up a black nail varnish because that's nearly all I wear on my nails nowadays.

The patterned box in the picture above is actually from the home section in T K Maxx. I just fell in love with the pattern on this box and got it for just £5! I bought it as a solution to my make-up storage problem - my makeup is so untidy at the moment - and plan to add little sections inside to help me organise it properly. I wanted something that I can take down to uni with me that's going to keep my makeup safe, so we'll see how this goes!

Finally, as usual I stopped at Lush for a browse and couldn't resist this blackberry bath bomb that smells heavenly, I'm obsessed with blackberry at the moment and also bought this 'Catastrophe Cosmetic' Face Mask which helps breakouts. I've had a little hormonal breakout on my chin and I'm hoping this will help, so far (I've used it once) I'm liking the results. I picked this last item up on a whim. I'm looking for some new foundation that won't clog up my pores but being very pale this is proving difficult - everything turns orange on me including BB Creams! This Colour Supplement from Lush matches my skin tone perfectly. However, I'm not entirely sure how to apply it, so far I haven't managed to get it to cover my spots very well which is a shame, but I'm going to keep trying!

Sorry for ranting on for ages, but I love shopping and wanted to talk about it on my blog a bit more. Let me know if you've ever tried and of these products, especially the Colour Supplement from Lush if you've got any tips on applying it. Thanks for reading and I'll see you soon!

Emily x

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

THOUGHTS OF HOME

Today the weather was lovely so we went for a little walk around where I live. I began to appreciate how beautiful it was and how much I'll miss these views when I go away. All these photographs were taken on my phone because I stupidly forgot my camera so I'm sorry about that! 




In case you haven't heard (I'm being sarcastic here) it's A Level results day tomorrow and it's kind of a big deal really, what happens tomorrow will determine not only the next three years for me, but also probably my career and even the rest of my life. I know this probably sounds a little melodramatic to you, but whether I get into uni will be determined tomorrow, and if I don't get in I really don't have another plan. I just don't really want to think about not getting in. 

Art is something I've always done and always enjoyed, so a career in it just seems like the natural thing to do for me really. Although at one point I was considering a more academic path, it's definitely not for me, and neither is office work. Visual arts and illustration is how I communicate, I find it even easier than writing (which evidently I'm not great at!). 

What I'm trying to say is that tomorrow is a big turning point in my life and understandably I'm feeling a little overwhelmed, so the walk around my home town really helped me clear my head and helped me feel a little calmer about the situation. 

If you're getting your results tomorrow I really wish you the best of luck and hope everything works out for you. Tonight I'm going to enjoy a chilled night in and I'll hopefully get some sleep! Keep calm and hope for the best, and I hope tomorrow goes smoothly.

Emily x

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

CHOCOLATE FUDGE CAKE - ADAM'S WAY

Today was a rather wet and miserable day in my town if I'm honest, but it wasn't for me. Me and my boyfriend spent the day lazing around watching TV. We're both huge fans of the Great British Bake Off which started again last week on BBC One. If you haven't watched it before I suggest you give it a go because it is the mother of all baking competitions and leaves you with a huge craving for home baking. The first episode was all about cake, so of course we finished watching it and started craving cake, so we had a go at making our own. This is Adam's own recipe for Chocolate Fudge Cake, it was a complete botch job but actually managed to turn out pretty good, so here's how we did it:

We made a simple chocolate sponge cake and then made fudge separately and used it for the topping.

Chocolate Cake

You Will Need:
Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5 or equivalent
Two ovenproof cake tins (we used 6" round ones)
Whisk (we used an electric one, but it doesn't matter if you haven't got one)
Mixing bowl
Spatula
Greaseproof paper

1. Mix together 6 oz (170g) of sugar and 6 oz of butter in the mixing bowl until light and fluffy. We used Stork because it's good for cakes according to Adam (I don't think it matters).

2. Add 4 oz (110g) self raising flour and 2 oz (55g) baking cocoa power and 3 medium sized eggs.

3. Mix all the ingredients together with the whisk until all the lumps are gone and it looks like this.

4. Grease the edges of the cake tins with butter and put greaseproof paper in the bottom. Add equal amounts of the mixture into both tins.

5. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes on the top shelf. Keep checking the cake, if you lightly press the top and it springs back it's ready to come out.

6. Leave to cool while you make the fudge.

Fudge (Scottish Tablet)
I'm obsessed with this stuff, we made a full tray of this fudge and used a small amount for the topping of the cake. It's a lovely treat to eat on its own!

You Will Need:
Large pan
Wooden spoon
Timer (we used our phones)
Small cup
Baking tray

1. Weigh out the following into the large pan: 1 lb (450g) granulated sugar, 4 oz (110g) salted butter, 1/4 pint evaporated milk, a pinch of cream of tartar and a pinch of salt.

 2. Melt on low heat until all the ingredients have melted and it looks like this.

3. Boil rapidly on high heat while stirring constantly, otherwise the sugar will burn (you will see small brown bits in the mixture if this happens). Only take off the heat if when you add a small amount to cold water in the small cup it form and reasonably firm ball.

4. Take off the heat and stir rapidly for 4 minutes. The mixture should start to feel thicker and even start to set on the sides of the pan.

5. Make sure you quickly pour it into the greased baking tray otherwise he mixture will set in the pan. Leave to set in the tray for 10 minutes before cutting into little pieces.

Decorating
You can decorate this cake however you see fit, but we used butter icing for the middle (sandwiched in between the two cakes) and Betty Crocker's Chocolate Fudge Icing for the top (I know, we cheated!) and we used the fudge scrapings from the pan as sprinkles on top.

 This cake was very tasty even if I do say so myself! And I look forward to devouring the fudge sometime soon. Let me know if you tried this recipe, what would you decorate it with?
Happy baking!

Emily x

Monday, 11 August 2014

UNI ESSENTIALS

The other day I found out what day I'll be moving in to my flat down in Northampton (Saturday 20th September if anyone's interested) and I realised I have next to nothing as far as living essentials and stuff for my flat goes. So me and my Mam made a list of things I need to buy before I go and decided to get a few things off the list a week so we're not getting everything at the same time and spending loads of money. Today we had a little trip to ASDA for some stuff and i wanted to show you what I bought.

I was really impressed by ASDA's Home section and the selection they had, I will definitely go back to get some more of the items from my list. The 12 piece dinner set was an amazing £5, and even though they're just plain plates and bowls they are of good quality and are microwave and dishwasher safe so I'm pleased with those. I also picked up a cutlery set at ASDA for £1.75 which I thought was really good too. I know I don't necessarily need dishes and cutlery but it gives me some peace of mind that I have my own clean ones whenever I need them. I really don't like the idea of sharing bowls and plates if my flatmates aren't going to wash up after themselves, so at least if this does happen I'm prepared! I also bought some tea towels for £1.25 and some face cloths for £1.

I feel much better now I've started collecting things for uni, I feel much more prepared. I know I'll feel much better after results day on Thursday too, as my place will be confirmed (I'm not going to lie, I'm slightly bricking it!). Hopefully I'll have some more stuff to show you in the next month or so too. Have you got any stuff for uni yet? Have you got any tips for me for things I might need? Thanks for reading.

Emily x

Sunday, 10 August 2014

HOW TO CARE FOR AND MAINTAIN COLOURED HAIR

For those of you who don't know, I have had quite bright purple hair for a few years now and have been dying it since I was 14 (wow that's nearly 5 years!). Believe me when I say it's been every colour including bubblegum pink, blue, red, ombre and even ginger! It's taken a while but I've finally perfected some useful tips and tricks that help keep it looking bright and colourful for longer, so I hope they prove useful to you.



1. Don't try to bleach your hair yourself. Before you dye your hair a bright colour you must bleach it first unless your hair is already very light. As my natural colour is dark brown I have to bleach my hair before dying and I keep up with my roots too when they get bad. I have never bleached my hair myself because bleach is a very dangerous thing to experiment with and without a professional you could ruin your hair. By going to your hairdresser to get your hair bleached you are ensuring your hair is going to be in a good condition afterwards.

2. Use a hair dye that doesn't damage your hair while colouring. I've tried many different brands of hair dye over the years and the one I found lasts longer, keeps my hair in a good condition and is value for money is La Riché Directions dye which you can buy here. I use the shade violet on my hair and it's my favourite shade of purple. This dye is bright but conditions and cares for your hair while colouring it, leaving it soft and healthy afterwards.

3. Wash your hair with cold water. I know it sounds crazy and yes the cold water is a little uncomfortable, but it really works! Warm water opens the pores in your hair (similar to the ones on your face) and lets the colour out. By using cold water this helps the pores stay closed and your hair stay bright.

4. Condition your hair deeply and regularly. Bleaching your hair clearly damages it and leaves it dry and weak (you might find it feels more stretchy like elastic after you've bleached it - this is very bad!). To fix this you need to deep condition your hair to help restore its strength. I use Herbal Essences Bee Strong Shampoo and Conditioner and once a week I leave my conditioner on my hair for a few hours after washing before washing it off. Doing this really helps the condition of your hair, and this conditioner helps keep my hair really strong after all the abuse I give it!

5. Try not to wash your hair everyday. I know it sounds disgusting, but I only wash my hair 1-2 ties a week. The less you wash your hair the less chance the colour will fade. My hair doesn't get that greasy between washes because my hair is used to this routine - and yours will get used to it after a while too. Don't worry if your hair feels greasy between washes for a while - dry shampoo will save you!

6. Try not to use heat on your hair too often. I'm guilty of this one, I use heat on my hair very often. By using heat on your hair this dries it out which isn't good for its condition or the colour which will fade much quicker.

7. Mix some dye into your conditioner to keep the colour brighter for longer. When I haven't properly dyed my hair for a while I usually top it up by mixing my conditioner and hair dye together to keep it from fading. I mix a tablespoon of my Herbal Essences conditioner with a tablespoon of my Directions dye and leave it on for about an hour (sometimes longer) and this usually keeps it looking bright. I usually just use my hands to mix the two together however I do use rubber gloves to stop my hands from staining purple!

I hope you find these tips useful, they've certainly saved me a bit of money over the years and they're all quite easy. Having a routine with your hair is important as it feels less like a chore keeping the colour bright. Thanks for reading!

Emily x

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

PLAYLIST UPDATE - CHARLIE SIMPSON

Charlie Simpson's new album came out yesterday! So I thought I'd take the opportunity to review it for you guys seeing as I've had it on repeat since I got my hands on it yesterday morning.
If you haven't listened to Charlie Simpson before I urge you to check him out. Yes, he was in Busted and then Fightstar (who are actually pretty good), but I feel like in his solo career he's finally found a sound he's happy with, and the fact that he's stripped it all down to just him and a guitar is brilliant. In my opinion he's pretty damn good!

Long Road Home was much anticipated for me because I loved his last album and it was my soundtrack to last summer, and I must say he didn't disappoint with this one. The album as a whole is very well written both musically and lyrically; his lyrics always speak to me, I love the way he writes. He has experimented with a more folk-y sound in this album to add to his acoustic sound. The folk-y sound has come from the upbeat mood of the music and the strong drum beats that I find myself tapping my foot along to. His voice hasn't changed much (it's still very pure and strong) but he's experimented a lot with harmonies in this album with several layers of his own voice all together at once, you get a very haunting sound and a beautiful echo that gives you goose-pimples. I love the classical element of this album, pretty little piano riffs appear in most songs along with the occasional use of some violin and even trumpets which compliment the sound. The fact that he has used a full band in most of the songs throughout the album gives it a fuller, more upbeat and happy feel which is different but I love it.

As for specific tracks, what stands out the most for me at the moment is Haunted, I think this is my favourite song from the album. It has a happy and catchy verse with a nice guitar riff and a very strong chorus. The music video is brilliant too, have a watch below. I was very excited to see that there's a track called Emily, and curious to hear what it sounded like. This song is much slower and more raw than the other tracks with mainly just an acoustic guitar used, but it is equally as beautiful.

Overall it's a very impressive album and I love all the tracks (not a single album-filler in sight!). It's well worth a listen, it's on Spotify now so check it out and let me know what you think, you won't regret it!

Emily x

Sunday, 3 August 2014

JULY FAVOUITES

So I thought I'd try a favourites post and see how it went. Here's the things I've been loving for the past month:

1. New Look Dress - I love this summer dress, I picked it up in New Look a few weeks back and it was the only dress I liked but it wasn't in the sale, typical! I love the floral crossed with paisley pattern, and blue isn't a colour I wear often so I figured I needed more blue in my wardrobe. It's comfortable to wear on a summer's day as it's very light and flowy, but it's also quite versatile. I've already styled it with some docs and my black leather backpack for a festival look, but I also think it would go with a floppy black hat and some strappy sandals. 

2. Maybelline Nail Varnish - this nail varnish is 'Extreme Blackcurrant', I love this shade as I always wear black nail varnish so this is a nice change for me. It's a 'Forever Strong' nail varnish so it does last for quite a while too which is a bonus.

3. Herbalism Face Wash from Lush - I picked this up at Lush two weeks ago in the hope it would get rid of those pesky black heads on my nose (I've tried everything!), and I must say, I've used it day and night along with my normal skin routine and it's worked a treat, I still have blackheads but they have cleared by a significant amount. The crushed almonds in this wash exfoliate and help clear away the blackheads but didn't aggravate my sensitive skin as they were really light. Another thing that drew me to this was that like many Lush products now, this is completely self-preserving which is surprising seeing as all the ingredients are natural, there are no harsh chemicals to help preserve the product that will affect my sensitive skin which is great! Another reason I love Lush!

4. Notebook from T K Maxx - I have a rather strange and unhealthy obsession with pretty notebooks (I have a draw full at home - one day I'll use them all). The leather-look over really drew me to this one, and the lovely quality paper inside. Also, as I bought this from T K Maxx, the price was pretty awesome too.

5. Derwent Inktense Pencils - These were actually a gift from my A Level art teacher when I finished sixth form, she is fab! I love Derwent pencils because they are artist quality and they're only made down the road from where I live. The Inktense pencils allow you to add water to create a lovely watercolour effect, I can't wait to have a go with these! I think they'll come in very useful when I go to uni too. Check out the Derwent pencil website here where you can shop all the products and see how they're made.

So there are my July favourites. Let me know what you think if you've tried any of these things before yourself, and I'll see you all soon.

Emily x