Thursday, 30 June 2011

And then I remembered why I don't read music publications....

I stopped buying music magazines quite a number of years ago. Aside from the odd issue of Metal Hammer (usually a couple of times a year to get a handle on upcoming tours), I don't buy music magazines. Since I got a bit better at reading blogs, I thought I'd seek out some blogs about the metal world to fulfil my need for news and information about metal bands. I don't really care about reviews. They are too subjective, so I tend to try and ignore them.

I am tempted to take all the metal blogs off my feed except the one that just provides information rather than opinion. I'm not sure why I can cope with reading political opinions from all perspectives without wanting to stab my screen, but the minute someone writes something disparaging about music I want to rip the author's fingers off. 

So why do I still get wound up when I see pieces on blogs that belittle particular bands as not being metal enough? I know that the metal world is highly elitest, snobby and purist. If you don't meet up to its high standards of the precise powerchords and drum beats, then I'm sorry, you failed. Woe betide you as a consumer of music if you should even like those bands that fail the metal test.

The metal fans seem to be largely grouped into 3 camps: the kids, the middle aged and the old school.

First the kids. The kids are the young generation who are into the latest metal fad. At the time of writing we're talking metalcore bands with stupid names, that make music that makes your ears bleed in a not so good way (OK, I'm a little snobby about this). They like skinny genes, dyed black mullets and eyeliner. And that is just the guys. If you don't like the bands they are into, they will probably do a really good Kevin the Teenager routine.

Second, the middle aged. Actually, this is kinda where I sit. I'm not really middle aged, I'm only in my late 20s, but the age range in this group is so vast and we appreciate such a wide range of music that this is best description I could think of. We're the generation that fell in love with Rammstein and Korn, and eyed Limp Bizkit with suspicion whilst spending our alone time with bands like Metallica and Iron Maiden. We appreciate the old school but are critical of the kids.

Finally there is the Old School. They are old enough to remember when Iron Maiden were still playing in pubs, they rocked out to The Cult and The Damned, and were probably Goth before it was even invented. They might have mullets, but they have had them for 30 years. They long for the old days.

Needless to say, all these groups are equally snobby and derisory about anything they don't consider to be 'true metal'. I'm sure there is some definition somewhere about what 'true metal' is, but you know what, I don't really care. The thing I see is an industry that is eventually doomed to failure through collapse. From the things I read and see on the internet, metal bands are not allowed to evolve and grow their sound. If they step outside of the prescribed boundaries of what metal is supposed to be about, then they are derided and laughed at. If they create the same stuff over and over, they are either applauded (for the ones that have captured the hearts, but that can turn quickly), or they are accused of being samey and boring.

It seems like noone can win.

Female fronted bands are particularly vulnerable to this level of criticism, because if there is one more thing that all 'true metal' fans hate, its a lady with a belting voice. But that is best left for another rant.

Monday, 27 June 2011

My fabulous day in Cardiff

So I went to Cardiff on Saturday and I had a fantastic day!!

I got an early train, and arrived about 1pm. My first port of call, before I did anything else, was the Illamasqua counter in Debenhams. On the way, I wandered down an arcade and stumbled upon a store with the most amazing necklaces in the window. I nearly walked on by thinking that they would be super expensive, but decided as I couldn't see a price to ask. I couldn't believe it when I was told that the one I wanted (that was exactly the kind of necklace I have been looking for) was only £20! Take a look in the picture at the bottom - isn't it fabulous?

After that impulsive splurge I headed off to find Debenhams. I was so excited to get to the Illamasqua counter and to try the Skin Base. The lovely Felix was free and sat me down to colour match me. We started off with shade no 2, which was too pale. Jump to number 5 (too dark), number 4 (almost there...) and finally, shade number 3. So I can confidentally say that I am 3.

I was absolutely astounded at the lightness of this foundation, and how well it covers!! My skin looked amazingly flawless. And Felix, and all the other MUAs at Illamasqua Cardiff were so lovely, they kept complimenting my hair (even though it was in dire need of redyeing!).

So when my make up was complete, I had a nosey around the counter - I felt like a kid in a sweet shop!! The colours... omigod... I ended up picking up eyeshadows in Intense (a gorgeous peacock blue/green) and Stalk (a tealy sage colour), and Liquid Metal in Surge. I could have bought so much more, but I was feeling the need to be restrained. I wanted to test the cream eyeshadows but they didn't have any testers, so I'll have to have a look on the website and see if there are any I want to order.

I had a fab time at Illamasqua, and I can see myself falling in love with their products hook line and sinker. I'll put a review of the products up later in the week, but suffice to say, I love them already.

The fabulous Felix @ Illamasqua Cardiff

Following my trip to Illamasqua, I wondered around Queen Street a little bit, before deciding to head back to the arcade where I bought the necklace, to have some lunch in The New York Deli. I opted for a Sinatra, which was salami and Provolone with gherkins and sweet chilli sauce. Deeeeelicious!!

My final stop before I met my family was the Castle - I have a National Art Pass and entry is free. It provided an excellent way to spend a couple of hours, just wandering around the place, listening to Huw Edwards telling me about the history. The climb to the top of the keep is a bit steep but the view at the top is so so worth it!

The evening was spent watching some fantastic speedway with my family, and eating hot dogs. I managed to get an earlier train home, which saved me a bit of time.

So here is the necklace, and my first day of using the Skin Base myself. I'm not sure my regular foundation brush is going to cut it with this foundation, but I need to figure out which one will work best. I have the Liquid Metal on my eyes, and MAC's Boy Bait Cremesheen gloss on my lips. My new hair is SFX Burgundy Wine, freshly done (4 hours!) and beautifully shiny.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Cardiff, here I come!!

Tomorrow morning I will be boarding a train to Cardiff. The primary purpose of my trip is the annual family sojourn to the FIM Speedway GP at the Millenium Stadium. We're all big speedway fans in my family, partly because my grandfather was a rider before my dad was born. Since we don't have any speedway here in Exeter any more and I don't ever seem to have time to go to Somerset, I really enjoy this annual trip with my dad, sister, uncle and a family friend.

We always support one of the riders who is from Cornwall (he's my age and went to school with a load of my college mates) but I always like to support the Swedes as well because the Beard is Swedish. This year I'll even have some flags, after the Beard's 30th Swedish themed birthday party left us with a box full!

I'm really excited to go and have a good nose around the Illamasqua counter - I'm usually in a rush or harassed when I go there, so it'll be nice to have the luxury of some time. And of course there will be an obligatory nose through the MAC counter (thankfully Debenhams in Cardiff has both so there won't be too much running about!). There is sushi and Krispy Kreme to be investigated as well :)

I also plan to visit Cardiff Castle, having recently applied for an ArtFund National Art Pass through the Telegraph's offer. It is only a 3 month taster card but I figured I'd put it to good use when I have some time to kill!

I'll be armed with my camera, so I'll take some pics of my adventure :)

Sunday, 19 June 2011

My DIY project

Inspired by Kirsty at The Leopard Anchor, I have decided to embark on a little DIY this week while the Beard is not around. I'm missing him more than a bit so I need something to get me through to the end of the week when he returns!

Anyway. When we had our new carpets fitted a couple of months ago, we made the decision to get rid of one computer, and therefore a desk, and rearrange our office so that uses the space better. The Beard also decided to only use half of his giant desk, thus making more space. The room isn't finished yet though - I've had his birthday party to get through, then essay hell (which I'm not quite out of but hopefully will be by the end of today!) so I haven't had a chance to sort the room out. There are still 2 large boxes of the Beard's stuff in the middle of the floor, but they can wait... one corner at a time right?

So this is MY corner of the room (ok, I also have a piano on the other side of the room, and I probably use the PC more than the Beard does most of the time, so effectively this room is mine...):

The desk is staying, that is my old PC desk that we retrieved from the loft for me to sew on. The stool was my grandma's towel box/bathroom stool, but it is really comfy for sitting on and the perfect height. Behind the washing horse is a giant pile of fabric in an Ikea bag. I've reserved one of these to be collected tomorrow:
All the fabric will hopefully go in there, organised in some such fashion. How I will organise it I'm not sure of yet. 

I'm also going to buy a power drill, because I don't own one and I feel like I should, so I can put some shelves up above the desk to house all my bits and bobs. I have a load of zinc plant pots that aren't doing anything since all the plants died, so I'm going to track them all down, clean them and utilise them for buttons/threads etc. I could do with a better way to store my patterns than my current arrangement (just because it is a bit full) but that may have to wait. 

I may yet get round to working on some of the sewing projects that I've not got around to yet - i have a half finished dress, 2 dresses to start and some cushion covers to finish!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Are all tall people the same shape then?

I read an interesting blog piece a couple of weeks ago about the tendency of make up tutorial books to have loads of different eye types but then just have Asian eyes, as if those of an Asian background all have the same eye shape. It was definitely an eye opener (please excuse the pun there) although I was previously aware of the differences in eye shapes across all ethnic backgrounds!!

I've just been browsing around the Channel 4 website and come across their 4Beauty section (I've just watched a couple of particularly harrowing videos on civil war in Sierra Leone and needed some fluff). There is a 'how to dress your shape bit'. And here is where it begins. There is pear shaped, inverted triangle, apple, slender, athletic, petite and tall. So can tall or petite people not be any of those other things as well? I'm not sure I got the memo, are you saying that Tall is a body shape now?

Not that this is new. All books about style love to cram anyone over 5'7" into the 'tall' category without a second thought about the actual shape of their body. I guess I'm a little disappointed that a media outlet as forward thinking as Channel 4 tends to be (tonight they are showing a documentary made by Jon Snow about the killing of Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka at the end of the civil war. More on that tomorrow.) would have been a little more forward thinking than to designate 'Tall' as a body shape.

So, in case Gok Wan/Trinny and Susannah/any other stylists are reading: TALL IS NOT A SHAPE.

Shall I say it louder?


I happen to be a reasonably pear shaped, tall person. My legs and hips are curvy, my bottom is peachy and my breasts are medium sized. These are the details that make up my shape. The fact that I'm tall just means I need to buy longer trousers, and longer tops, and that normal long sleeved things aren't always long enough (thank the shopping deities for H&M's impossibly long sleeves). 

Actually, I think even Long Tall Sally are guilty of over generalisation of tall people's shapes. I do not have large breasts. I do have a wide back. I do not have skinny thighs. I do have a skinny waist and a big bum. I know it is difficult for retailers to tailor to every body shape, but at least for average heighted people they have the opportunity to work out which shop's base shape works for them. For us tall folks the choice is so limited that we have to go with what we have. 

Anyway, rant over. Cleared my brain a little bit :)

Monday, 13 June 2011

Illamasqua Skin Base

I've been trying to get into Illamasqua for a while but as there is no counter anywhere near me it is difficult because I want to play with the textures and colours before choosing. However, I am going to Cardiff (my nearest counter) in a couple of weeks for the Speedway GP, so I shall be going up early in order to have a proper shopping session (I'm also planning a trip to Bravissimo for new undies while I'm there).

I am very excited about the launch of Illamasqua's new foundation on Thursday 23rd June, because it will be out in time for my trip! Basically the Skin Base is their take on the Asian market product Beauty Balms. Unlike MAC's offering in this vein, Illamasqua have created something close to the original product, and have apparently kept true to the point of the product, but removed the SPF and the whitening ingredients.

The SPF has been removed because it is designed as a professional product and for anyone who has taken a photo of themselves whilst wearing an SPF will know, SPFs bounce light around and can cause blow outs on camera.

I'm really excited to try out this product - the company is promising highly blendable, good coverage results suitable for HD shooting. As someone who has been desperate to try things like MUFE HD foundation I hope that this will provide a good alternative.

I shall report back fully with my findings (and probably purchases!) - I am fully anticipating a mega shopping trip that day!!

Another hectic week ahead

I have a couple of assignments due in in 10 days and an arseload of reading to do to complete them. To top it off, the Beard (aka my proof reader) is disappearing off to Spain at the end of the week, right before my deadline. My plan is to hardcore it and get the assignments done before he goes, but if that doesn't happen I will have to ask my Mum really nicely!!

Therefore I might be a bit quiet... I some posts formulating in my head but no brain space to write them at the moment!! So please forgive me... normal service should resume shortly!!

My week ahead looks a little like this:

Dealing with insurance people and the letting agents
Eyebrow threading (I am quite excited about this, my eyebrows need some serious attention now I have a really short fringe)
More work
More studying
Going to the gym

See you on the other side!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Review: Boots Soltan Invisible Dry-Touch Transparent Suncare Spray SPF50

I promised I'd come back and do a proper review of this once I'd used it, so here we are.

The product: Boots Soltan Invisible Dry-Touch Transparent Suncare Spray SPF50 (also available in SPF 8, 15, 30). The blurb says: "A 100% transparent spray which disappears instantly into your skin leaving no white marks or greasy residue."

Disappears Instantly?: Not quite - I did apply this and wait a while before dressing. It does soak in quickly - you have to rub this in quickly to get it all over your skin as the liquid evaporates very very fast.

Leaving no white marks or greasy residue?: Again, not quite - the predominant delivery liquid in this is alcohol based and therefore evaporates swiftly, but there is a small amount of grape seed oil in the product to lightly moisturise which does leave the skin slightly greasy, but no more than a regular body lotion and certainly nothing like a regular sun cream which is full of oils and moisturisers. The liquid itself is completely clear so definitely no white marks. I did notice some discolouration on my white top the other day from the sunscreen I assume, I have always noticed that SPFs do tend to make white cloth turn yellow for some reason. However, that day it was really hot and it could have also been sweat!

The smell: Is like sun screen. The smell does fade pretty quickly though, and what little remained was easily overpowered by perfume.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Boots Soltan has a 5 star UVA rating as well as the varied SPFs, which is good news for the skin.

This product is my saviour - as I said before I hate suncream because of the way my skin reacts to it but this has been brilliant, and has replaced regular moisturiser in my daily routine whilst the weather is this warm. Light enough to wear everyday, not just on the beach, I will never fear sunny lunches out in the courtyard at work again!

Boots Soltan Invisible Dry-Touch Transparent Suncare Spray is available from Boots, currently on a BOGOF deal, for £11.99 for the SPF50.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

MAC Big Bounce eye cream - a positive review

The first new product in ages from MAC that has made me go 'ooh I want that', so purchase I did. I bought Rich Thrills, which is a silvery taupe colour, the sort of colour I'd been looking for to fill a gap in my eyeshadow collection.

The description of the Big Bounce eye creams is:

"Eyes are fresh and luminescent with beautiful sheen washes of vibrant color using new Flighty Eye Shadows. This spongy, mousse-like eye shadow is lightweight, lasts for hours, and imparts a cooling sensation upon application."

In between ordering and receiving my purchase, I read a couple of less than favourable reviews of the product by US Bloggers who have had it for a couple of weeks. I have to say, I have been pleasantly surprised to find that it isn't as bad as I feared.

The consistency: The product is not mousse like. Not in the slightest, especially when compared to products such as Maybelline Dream Mousse eye colour. Nope, this is much more like a mousse that you've knocked all the air out of, you know when it goes that slightly runny consistency? Hence why I refer to it as a cream – I feel it is a much more accurate description. It is cool though. It is the weirdest sensation, and feels wet long after it dries.

The application: When I read Temptalia's review of this product I was apprehensive, she talks about the long dry down time and the creasing. And true, it takes a few more seconds to dry down than I might be used to, and yes, it creases, but for me, that is only the halfway point of the application process. I think the trick with these is to apply roughly with a brush, working quickly because as soon as it starts to become tacky you can't touch it or it spoils, then leave for 30 seconds to a minute (go wash your hands, comb your hair, put your tshirt on, clean your teeth...). When you come back to it it will have creased, but never fear: blend into the right shape with something like a 217 brush. Voila, a light wash of beautiful colour. 

The colour: Rich Thrills is described on the MAC site as "dirty silver with multi coloured pearl" and it doesn't disappoint. It has a hint of taupe and just the right amount of shimmer to give the illusion of a glossy eye, similar to the finish on Dark Soul pigment. I only ordered this colour because I wanted to see what the others would be like in the flesh before buying. I hope that they still have some left when I get to Cardiff in a few weeks, as I think I'd like a couple of the other colours!  

The verdict: Perfect for quick and easy eye that is awesome for work/day time, and could easily be built up for a night time look. Although the application is a little more complex than one might hope, once you've got the hang of it this is a great product. 

Have you tried Big Bounce? What did you think?

Monday, 6 June 2011

EOTD and Make Believe

I've tried the new version of MAC's Dark Soul pigment today, having resisted for a long long time (I have a small pot of the old version with the silver shimmer) and I can report that I like the new version just as much as the old version, which is good. It is my favourite product for an easy smoky eye:
Products used:
(all MAC unless otherwise stated)
Paint in Bare Canvas
Eyeshadow in Brule
Pigment in Dark Soul
Illamasqua Medium Pencil in Sophie
Chanel Inimitable Mascara in Waterproof Black
Chanel Base Beaute Mascara Base
Eyebrows in Stud
Brow set in Clear
Prep and Prime Protect SPF 50
Studio Sculpt foundation in NW15
Studio Sculpt concealer in NW15
Select Moisturecover concealer in NW20
Select/Sheer Pressed Powder in NW15
Blush in Pinch O Peach
Prep and Prime Translucent Finishing Powder

Simplicity is the key to this look! I love the colour of my hair in that photo - it doesn't feel as if it is that bright in real life though!!

I've also trialled a new gradual tanner - Make Believe Gradual Tanner. I saw a glowing review of these products on Filthy Gorgeous Makeup, so I thought I'd give them a go. Natalya wasn't wrong - I now have beautifully subtle coloured pins, with not a streak in sight!! It was pricey at £18 odd for a bottle but a little goes a long way and it has really worked.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

I don't really like Sundays much

They are full of broken promises and screwing up my eating/sleeping patterns.

Basically I have 2 essays due in in just under 3 weeks. And basically due to the hell of our house, elections, stress and organising a birthday party, I haven't really done much studying yet. I am trying to chew through institutional development and civil war, and the latter is making me procrastinate because as fascinating as it all is, I am not sure I want to go and watch a harrowing documentary.

Add to that feeling weird because the air pressure is high and we desperately need the rain we've been promised, I am not having a good day.

I think I have figured out how to automatically link this to my Facebook, which is good. I think I might stick some sparkling wine in the fridge for later and make some popcorn to eat while I watch films about death and destruction.

(and yes, I am well aware that that last sentence makes me sound a little odd)

Foolproof popcorn:

2 tbsp coconut oil
1/3 cup of popcorn kernels
Big thick bottomed pan

Heat the oil in the bottom of the pan and add 3 kernels to it. Heat until the kernels have popped. The oil is now hot enough. Remove the popped kernels from the pan and add the unpopped ones. Shake the pan for 30 seconds to get everything nicely heated up/coated. Place back on the heat and wait for them all to pop. Once the rapid popping stops, transfer to a bowl. Season with flavourings of your choice!

YSL Belle D'Opium

A new addition to my perfume collection, courtesy of my lovely auntie :)

There is a dark mystery about this perfume which captures the imagination and lends a sexy, sultry demeanour to the wearer.

I first met this fragrance when I made an order from Debenhams for some MAC. They sent me a little sample with my goodies and I thought I'd give it a bash. I don't like the regular Opium. Or I didn't last time I smelt it, so I was a bit sceptical. Still, I know my nose has changed slightly and what the hell...

I fell in love. It filled the gap in my perfume collection that I didn't even know existed until then. It is warm, and musky, and sweet and heady all at the same time.

The heart notes are Casablanca Lily, Jasmine Absolute and Incense, the top notes are Peach and Pepper and the base notes resin and sandalwood. On paper I doubt I'd pick this, but on my skin... it is grown up and sophisticated, sultry and ravishing. On first spray it is fruity, musky and floral all at once, then gives way sometime later to musky floral. At the end of a long day there are echoes of a dusky floral note with the dusty musk.

My thought when smelling my wrist at the end of the day? It smells like how you imagine sex to smell. You know when you are a teenager and you start reading all those heady romance novels, and watching all those films where the protaganist and the heroine have wonderful passionate sex betwixt white cotton sheets, somehow managing to keep her hair and make up in perfect condition throughout? At the end of the day (8+ hours), this perfume smells like that.

I quite like the bottle as well. It is a pretty colour, with a striking design, matching with elegance the oriental nature of this fragrance.

Friday, 3 June 2011

"If I could offer you one tip for the future....

Sunscreen would be it" (Mary Schmich, 1997)

I've been and bought some sunscreen today, and probably jinxed the weather in the process. Oh well. I'm sure the sun will stick around for a bit this time (optimistically ignoring the weather forecast for Sunday).

I have this constant battle with sunscreen. I'm pale. I like being pale (apart from my legs which are paler than the rest of me and therefore require gradual tanner just to bring them to the same colour as my body), and whilst I like sitting out in the sun, I don't like tanning. I don't like the risk of cancer (I'm naturally very moley but was relieved to read the chart in the Drs the other week that told me my misshapen moles are nothing to be worried about). I've seen what cancer does to people and I don't want that for myself or my loved ones.

So I have always been fairly religious about wearing sunscreen. Even as a teen when it was cool for my friends to sit out in the sun wearing nothing but baby oil. I was always chasing after them with a bottle of SPF. Nothing has changed. I still nag my friends about sunscreen.

Anyway. As I've got older and more attached to my paleness (I do tan quite nicely if I want to, I just don't), I have ramped up the level of protection I use. As you may know if you're a regular reader, I'm a bit of a hippy when it comes to my skin products and like them as natural as possible. My skin doesn't really tolerate mineral oils at all, and silicones are a bit of a no no unless it is in make up in which case it has a barrier underneath.

Unfortunately finding natural mineral sunscreen at factor 50 is hard. Impossible would be the best way to describe it. I know there are good reasons for this, and there is an ongoing debate as to whether factor 50 is actually worth it or not. Still, for me, SPF50 is a must.

Piz Buin used to make an oil free sun screen that went to high factors, which both my dad and myself swore by (prickly heat sufferers unite!), but I don't think they do it as high as I want.

However. My saviour has appeared in the form of the 'invisble' spray sunscreens that have hit the markets in the last couple of years. Last year I used Banana Boat's spray which worked quite well, although was quite sticky. This year I have opted for Boots Soltan Invisible Spray in SPF50. The plus point to Soltan is that as well as being a high SPF (which protects against UVB and stops you tanning) it also has a 5 star UVA rating (the bit that protects you against cancer). There aren't many brands out there that do that, although Soltan is not the only one (it was at one point).

A quick spray on my arm has confirmed that it does indeed have a dry touch, but there is a smidge of grape seed oil in the ingredients that gives it a bit of moisturising. The smell is not unpleasant, just like sunscreen. I'll come back and tell you how I get on with it once I've tried it out properly (hopefully tomorrow on the beach), and I'm hoping that it will work ok on my face to wear under make up, because as much as I love the MAC Prep and Prime Protect SPF 50, it is an expensive way to protect my face. Still, needs must at times I guess!!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Style icon of the month

A new regular feature that I can work on!

This month:

Jo Danville, Assistant Supervisor, CSI:NY

I know she's a fictional character but I love her. I was a bit worried when they replaced Stella in CSI:NY but Jo Danville (ably portrayed by Sela Ward) has definitely filled her boots amply. I love her easy style, her natural confidence and her wonderful Southern accent.

I have been lusting after some neckware like hers since the beginning of this season but it has been a bit difficult without breaking the bank.

And any character who persistantly wears black and a load of leather gets my vote!


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