Thursday, 27 August 2015

Urban Decay Naked Palette 3 - A beauty Trilogy



I'm a bit behind on my Naked collection. I spent the longest time convincing myself that I really didn't need the 3rd instalment of the iconic eyeshadow palettes offered up from Urban Decay

"Rose tones? You don't need rose tones! You have cool tones and warm tones! Rose tones would be overkill. Ok yes your skin is Rose toned but seriously? You don't need another nude palette. Rose tones... Pah!!"

And then they announced the Smoky palette and once again the cycle of need began. 

"Smoky? You're too pale for smoky! Oh alright then go and get the Rose palette. There, are you satisfied?"

I was. 




The Rose palette is, quite unsurprisingly, a lot more pink than its predecessors. With the usual finishes including shimmers, mattes & metallics you have carte blanche to mix and match as much as you'd like to. I find this a little trickier to use than the previous palettes. Pink can be a hard colour to pull off when you've got ginger & green hair and blue eyes. I appreciate that is probably a niche problem. 

Nonetheless I am absolutely enamoured with the palette. My instant favourites are Dust - a pale pink shimmer which I absolutely love (it reminds me of MAC phloof which is my all time favourite MAC shadow), Trick - I'm always drawn to a gold metallic and intrigued to see how this blends with the pinky tones of the Rose palette, and Blackheart - The red flecks throughout this black are beautiful in the pan and blend out really well. It isn't so overly pigmented that you can't use it in conjunction with the paler shades (did I mention I love Dust?) and it works well as a liner along the lower lash line. I'm also looking forward to experimenting with Darkside and Mugshot. I've been loving Gunmetal in the Naked 2 so I think this could be a welcome addition. 




Naked 3 is £38, as with all of the Naked palettes, and I purchased mine from Debenhams thanks to a generous voucher given to us at their Foyleside Beauty Hall launch last week. I have plenty more treats from our trip up to Foyleside coming up so stayed tuned! 

As for the Smoky Palette? Soon my friend... soon!


Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Party In The Park at Antrim Castle Gardens


Since moving back to Antrim I've been determined to make the most of my weekends and go exploring. With trips to the north coast and lunches with the girls it's been a fab summer for it. Even if we didn't get the weather. This weekend we decided to go down to the Castle Gardens for a Party In The Park put on by Antrim & Newtonabbey Borough Council. It was a free day out and a chance to nosey on in on the grounds which I haven't properly explored since I was a teenager hanging about with my friends after school taking Drama classes in Clotworthy House and being thoroughly cool... Aye. I discovered a humongous fountain I never knew existed before and rediscovered my favourite tree in the world. 

There were all sorts of weird and wonderful performers and events. From Kite building to face painting to flower pot ladies and giant animal headed people. It was really lovely to see the huge crowds enjoying themselves and the kids running about the gardens. Having gone to a few fairs and festivals over the summer this was probably my favourite. No craft tents. No commercialism. Just simple fun for the family surrounded by picturesque views. Lovely. 

Below I have put together a short video of the afternoon. It's been a while since I've flexed my videography muscles so bear with me. I'm a still a bit in awe that I was able to shoot, edit and upload the whole thing on my phone! 








Wednesday, 19 August 2015

My eBay rules and the ethical dilemma of when to buy local

When it comes to buying off Ebay I have a couple of rules. The main rule I live by is "Everything for a £1 and always Buy-It-Now" I break it once in a while for clothing auctions or large items but when it come to nic-nacs and nail supplies I stick close. In fact, I'm pretty sure my epitaph will read "99p free post & packaging!" I say it so often when people ask me where I've bought something!

So here are latest in my bargain purchases. 

1. Hair Removing Exfoliator pads: I put a question to my followers on Instagram as to how many people recognised these. Surprisingly it was a pretty even split yes to no. I used them all the time as a teenager, although they didn't have the funky plastic handles. You rub the fine grit pads in circles across your hairy bits & it pulls the hair out and exfoliates your skin. Pain free and silky smooth. A great pre-tanning trick!
£1.05 

2. Golden Snitch Necklace: No it's not official merchandise & probably breaks a cauldron load of copyright laws but OMG super cute! I've gotten a tonne of complements since wearing it and it's actually a really nice quality piece. I know brands who charge £50 for a cut out bit of plastic with a plasticky chain. This is (in my humble opinion) far Superior. 
£0.99

3. Little mermaid clear iPhone cover: again the official Disney license is lacking here but look! She's holding the logo! Also available in Snow White which is just perfect isn't it? 
£1.15




I do love my £1 (or thereabouts) bargains. A small part of me goes through an ethical struggle knowing that these are being pumped out "en masse" in China and I should really buy local but times are hard and I need pretty things in my life. Which brings me to my second rule of eBay purchasing: "Rule 1 only applies when purchasing items for myself!" 
If I'm buying a gift for someone I'll look on eBay for specific items such as limited editions but most of the time I do a local search on Etsy or go to craft fairs. I've even been known to make it myself! You have to be careful with both Etsy and craft fairs these days; It's far too easy to employ the tactics of Rule 1 and sell it on for profit. How do you think I discovered these lovelies?! 



Sunday, 16 August 2015

Scented Scandals with Filthy Velvet



"Meet me at the tennis courts by The Ramore" It wasn't long into our afternoon together that Karen, one half of Northern Ireland's newest candlemakers Filthy Velvet, laughed about the dodgy nature of our first meeting. It's not often that I'm asked to meet a stranger down a back street (albeit a very busy one near my favourite Portrush attraction) to then be led through stepped alleys and lanes back to their house! It's all a bit... Naughty. It's a good thing then that being a bit naughty is all par for the course for Karen who spends her days making and marketing her "Scandles". 
With names such as Filthy Shades Of Grey, Sext Me, Me So Thorny and scents including Leather, Irish Black Stout & Apple Pie these Scandalous Candles have been giving giggles to everyone I've heard talking about them. "Oh I want VPL!" Said no-one ever before their Vanilla, Peach, Lavender creation came into being.  

It's fairly brilliant. 



We had a lovely afternoon discussing scents and textures Filthy Velvets are so incredibly creamy they could be mistaken for a stiff body butter if it wasn't for the wick, the Filthy Bits wax melts are even more so. The scents, made using imported essence oils, are also varied and intense, no two are the same and they range from floral to cakey to spicy to even musky! And then you have the Leather and the Stout as I've mentioned already. Definitely unique. 

Karen's background in Interior Design and her sideline in Aromatherapy massage has clearly given her the right skills to create and partner Jeremy, the scientist, has developed the perfect formula to get an impressive 40 hour burn with minimal smoking and zero tunnelling. 

Going through the 14 candles I was definitely drawn to the sweet scents which is not surprising at all. I was instantly drawn to VPL & Me So Thorny due to my obsession with Lavender & Rose. (One day I'll tell you of the days I used to call myself Lavender Rose Moon... Maybe) Needless to say they are very dear smells to me. Black Stout is a marmite candle. It splits opinion with a strong coffee smell and the dark almost chocolatey goodness you get from that well known Irish Stout brand we're not really allowed to mention...
The surprise hit however was Posh Tart. It's not just an Apple Pie, it's the best Apple Pie you've ever tasted. It's your granny, marks & spencer and your local bakery all rolled into one. Karen kindly let me leave with this one and it will be getting saved for best. 



Not forgetting that this is a family affair I was also introduced to the Filthy Hound, the face of the brand to those familiar with the website, who is just the cutest wee mascot I've seen in a while. A hefty portion of our afternoon was spent getting cuddles & sneaky snapchats with the wee man. Well you do have treat celebrities special, don't you?

There are big plans for Filthy Velvets but for now you can purchase them at Studio Souk in Belfast, online directly from www.FilthyVelvet.com and at various fairs across NI (and soon mainland UK). These are one to watch having been featured on Ch4's Gogglebox and spotted by business talent scouts. If you're the kind of person that likes to say you got there first, now is your time!


Thursday, 13 August 2015

The Style Retreat, Lisburn Square:


Boutiques are great but often they can be intimidating, niche, and if you're plus size you can pretty much forget about it.
As a blogger at www.theyellowestdiamonds.com and a personal stylist, Danielle has tonnes of experience to allow her to choose the best designers and the best items to feature in her shop. She has items for every occasion and she has the most amazing selections of bag & accessories! But, most importantly, she is hugely aware of the diversity in modern women's sizes and is determined that women of all sizes can and will be catered for; no one will be left out!




I messaged Danielle a few weeks ago with an SOS. I'm in a style rut and I needed help. She told me to get my arse down (I may be paraphrasing) and she would absolutely help me! 




Her first choice was this blue shirt dress with embellished collar from Lili London. Actually come to think of it all of our choices were from this brand. I think I've found a new favourite brand! 
I've always resisted patterned leggings in the past. The prints of often garish, and unflattering to the bigger bum however I was urged to try them out and I'm so glad I did! Maybe it's the muted colours, maybe it's really sturdy material which lets you feel truly supported but on this occasion I'm willing to put aside my distaste for patterned leggings and I will be buying these!



Second on the runway (because you know I was having a changing room montage in my head) was this gorgeous rust jumper with Baroque Spade detail. Danielle mentioned that she had non plus size customers begging to find this is their size which makes a change from the unappealing muumuu style clothes that the highstreet plus size retailers are full of! I rarely wear oranges and Browns (because ginger) but once again this has gone on the "I shall be back for this" list. Payday needs to hurry up!



I'm completely in love with this Lili London lace dress. I love blues, I love lace, and I love comfort. This dress has all of these as well as a gorgeously flattering scalloped collar. I felt very sophisticated in this and Danielle, being massively generous, kindly gifted it to me! I cannot wait to wear it out and already have at least 3 occasions its is bookmarked for! 


Our last choice was our bravest choice. I'm not an "arms out" person, I also don't do maxi dresses because at 5'2" I tend to look like a toddler playing dress up. However I actually really like this shape. I'm not horrified by my arms and I love a halter neck. Whilst this particular dress is too long and too pale it has given me the confidence to consider more maxi dresses. Or I should say, Danielle has given me the confidence! 

I thoroughly recommend making the trip Lisburn Square to visit Danielle and her girls. They are amazingly innovative at what they do and will you have styled up for every occasion. But fear not if you can't make the trip, Danielle also does Facebook and online consultations allowing you to purchase without changing out of your pjs. There is also the launch of her new website in September to coincide with the end of  their sale (which is amazing by the way). 
Not only this but The Style Retreat now offers home visits and girls party nights where they literally bring the shop to you! Not just your standard high street boutique eh? 


Find The Style Retreat on 
Twitter @TheStyleRetreat
Instagram @The_Style_Retreat 


Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Bubbles, Brines & Beards: My bath time essentials.



We need to have a word about baths. 

For many years I fell out with baths. I went through a phase where I couldn't stand the thought of sitting in a tub swimming in your own your own dirt. I was the archetypal "Water Baby" as a child, I would live in the water as much as possible. Every home video I have is of me being in the bath, or a paddling pool. Then one day, around the time I gained my trachea tube come to think of it, water became the enemy. I hadn't learned how be around it without accidentally breathing it in and nearly drowning. To think that I used to spend hours (minutes?) completely submerged swishing my hair & loving life baffles me now. My plan for the day that I am miraculously cured and Tracheostomy free, if that day ever comes, is to spend the whole day swimming. Possibly the whole week. I will become a shrivelled finger mermaid and my life will be complete. But for now I'll just settle for enjoying my baths, carefully. 

My bath essentials are bubbles, salts, and candles. These Radox Muscle Soak salts are £1 in most bargain shops or supermarkets. £1!! They get thrown in every non LUSH bath I take and they turn the water a lovely soft blue colour too. Sanex Pure Hydrate Bath Foam is my favourite bubble bath as it has emollient like qualities and leaves you feeling lovely and soft afterwards! For my most recent bath I also threw in a bit of Ted Baker bath foam for added bubbles. I was a bit disappointed in this one tbh. Just not bubbley enough!!

Which brings me to the candle element of my relaxation fest. I'm obsessed with scented candles, I usually have dozens on display but have an awful habit of hoarding candles and saving them "for best". I finally lit this lovely Bearded Candlemakers burner called Dumbledores Office! It's been sitting for months waiting to be loved and I now that I've started it I just can't stop! 


So yes I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with baths. I love the ritual of relaxation but I can never get too relaxed for fear of choking & drowning. Plus I still  have issues with the hygiene.  I resolve these by having a normal shower straight afterwards. In those moments I am possibly the cleanest human in the world. 

Monday, 3 August 2015

Business or Pleasure? Bit of both actually!


This week has been a chaotic one! Not only was I away to Glasgow for work for two days, with a colleague bonding night out, I was also returning and immediately hurling myself into Belfast Pride celebrations! No stops home. Do not pass go. Do not collect £200 (which would have been really handy!) 

I'd love to say that I travel all the time with work and a live a fabulous jet set lifestyle but in truth I've only travelled twice for "business" and this was the first time I got to stay overnight. Exciting! 

I do have lots of experience, however, of domestic travel for pleasure with the limitations of carry on liquid allowances and all the panic that it involves. So many times I've forgotten about a can of hairspray or big tub of hair gel and had to wave goodbye to it during security. 

Heartbreaking! 


So what do you pack that can work for meetings, dinners, parading through Belfast and a hardcore day of drinking? All measuring a 100ml or less? 
 

The first thing is pallettes! They can be packed in your case easily and, if you choose right, you get a lot of variation. 

Benefit Cheeky Sweet Spot is amazing. Containing 5 Blushes, a Bronzer & Highlighter, it's my ultimate in face definition. If you're a hardcore Strober or Contourer this might not be enough for but I can't be bothered with any of that do this does me fine!


Urban Decay Naked 2 is perfect. I'm going through a grey phase right now so Pistol was on heavy rotation throughout the 4 days but for the Pride festival on Saturday I opted for Chopper to give me a sparkly edge!

I feel the need to point out that this was day/round 3 of partying! Glazed eyes for the win!


As for the liquids themselves I opted for intense hydrating skincare rather than liquid cosmetics. I knew I was about to pummel my skin with more makeup than I usually wear, dramatic changes in atmosphere during travel and a lot of alcohol. 

I love using miniatures and sample sizes during travel. With products like Hydraluron, Nip + Fab & Dermalogica I knew I was safe hands. I tend to hoard my perfume and premium skincare samples for just this reason rather than buying high street brand travel bottles (unless it's toothpaste). They're always slightly smaller (so you can bring more) and much better quality (so they go further!). 

Star performer goes to Hydraphase Intense Masque from La Roche-Posay. I could not have lived without applying this morning and night after cleansing. It's usually designed for use once or twice a week but my skin loved it and whereas I'd usually be horribly dry and flakey after just a day or two of heavy makeup I was able to get through the whole weekend without destroying my skin! Hallelujah.

So how do you prioritise your travel liquids? I'm now going to bathe in the most relaxing and restoring products I can find. Stay tuned to find out more about that soon! 

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