Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through

One of my favourite songwriter/singer combos ever is Jim Steinman and Meatloaf. Over their career together they have written some absolutely incredible songs, ranging from the classic "Bat out of Hell" to the beautiful "No Matter What" (also sung by Boyzone).

But one of their pairings that means the most for me is "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through" from Bat Out Hell II. I was given this album as an 11 year old and it became part of the soundtrack of my teens. The line in this song "you can put on the phones and let the drummer tell your heart what to do" resonates so deeply in my psyche, even now, 20 years later.

"I luuurve Anglelina Jolie"

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

More exciting beauty finds!

I seem to be a bit beauty product obsessed at the moment. Like really. I think it should all calm down a little bit now, I seem to go on these splurges where I'm all about finding new things and trying them out, but then I'll go months and months before I buy anything other than replacements.

Catrice LE Eye shadow in C03 Jungle Treasure (from the Glamazona collection)

I picked this up because it looked fairly similar in shade to the Fyrrinae Evocation which I have a small pot of and I love. Its a little more goldy than Evocation. I have found myself wearing this a lot, as its a really easy colour to just pop on when I'm in a rush in the morning with a bit of black kohl.

The quality is really good, far better than you might expect for an eye shadow that costs approximately €3! I find it lasts all day without creasing or fading. It is also perfect with my new hair colour and my slight summer tan.

Essence Sun Club Large Matt Bronzer for Blondes

I was looking for a matt bronzer the other day and was going to buy the GOSH one. But something made me pop into DM first, thinking I'd see what Catrice had to offer, but the store I went to didn't have a stand. But they did have an essence stand so I bought this for the princely sum of around €4. I need a bronzer at the moment to compensate for the difference in colour between my tanned skin and my foundation. I like this one because it is designed for lighter skins, so it isn't too orange, or too dark. In fact, it is just perfect, and it smells of coconut sun lotion!

Alverde Olive Oil and Aloe Vera Body Lotion

After the hideous sunburn of the other week, I've been slathering on moisturiser like it's going out of fashion. This stuff smells amazing, and leaves my skin feeling really soft, without feeling oily, which is an especially important trait in this heat! Another bargain for under €3!

And finally....

Not a product per se, but a great website featuring only the best in organic and natural skin care products. I think I saw this on Beauty Mouth or it might have been a Google search gone right, but I am so happy I did. I have long been a fan of Neal's Yard Remedies products but alas since moving to Austria I haven't been able to indulge, as it has been difficult to find anyone that ships for a reasonable price (NYR do ship here for a fairly hefty sum or you can pay the lower cost of uninsured postage if you call to order but the cost of calling isn't cheap either!). This is what was so exciting about LoveLula... they ship NYR to Austria for under £5! So I've ordered a jar of their Frankincense Nourishing Cream, which was my favourite cream back in the day (ok, until about 2 years ago). It has none of the ingredients that I know are triggers to my skin, and I know the smell is divine.
I've also ordered some sensitive skin moisturiser made by Herbfarmacy,  I'll let you know what I think of them when I've been using them for a bit!
Rather impressively, I placed my order last night and I received an email first thing this morning to say it had been dispatched. Not sure how long it will be, its at the mercy of the continental postage system, but really impressed with LoveLula!

Monday, 29 July 2013

Easy autumn style

Easy autumn style

Zadig & Voltaire , $92 / River Island black tux jacket, $69 / Mango ripped jeans / Morn Creations black rucksack / Diesel s / Ann Demeulemeester twist jewelry, $265 / Mango pendant jewelry / NEWROCKWORLD, $395

I love the shark backpack!! I quite like the simple skinnies and vest mixed with a smart tux, and isn't that watch awesome! Shame it is more expensive than I can afford. 

It seems a bit crazy that all the shops have their autumn collections in whilst the temperatures are so high. I swear things get earlier every year, when I was a kid the autumn collections weren't around until almost when we went back to school, in September! But then everything else starts earlier as well.  

Sunday, 28 July 2013

It's still hot!

This weekend it is Austria's turn to have a heatwave. Only for us, heatwaves start at 36 degrees. Yesterday when we were out running errands (in air conditioned shopping malls thank goodness) it was showing 40 degrees on the display at the station by us. When we went out at 6pm to sit by the river, the temp was showing as 38. 38 at 6pm!

Thankfully yesterday we sorted out our air conditioning outlet thingy, so we now can move it between our living room and the bedroom to ensure we have a cool nights sleep. Absolute bliss if you ask me, there is nothing worse that trying to sleep in a pool of your own sweat!

But yesterday evening we headed down to the river, which is 2 stops on the metro from us (or if we didn't feel that cycling would be a major chore in this heat it is really close), and set up in a spot on the far side of the Neue Donau, in front of the UN area. Its a lovely spot, with steps down into the water and plenty of grass to lie around on. Throw in a couple of chilled beers and a book and all is complete!

The view from our spot at around 7pm. The sun does go down really fast and early here, so by 8pm the light was beginning to fade and the sun heading towards the horizon. By the time we'd packed up and walked to the tube station this was the sight that greeted us as we waited for the train:

It really is lovely out there though, so we've been inspired to spend more time by the river. I may have to this week as a gym substitute, as my gym doesn't have air conditioning and its too hot to work out without! A nice cooling swim is much more fun!

How are you enjoying the weather where you are? Is it sunny or raining?

Friday, 26 July 2013

Dior Addict Extreme in Incognito

I mentioned this the other day as one of my favourite new beauty purchases and here it is in a shameless selfie on the metro!

As you can see it is perfect MLBB (my lips but better) and this is my go to for cooler make up lips as it is a touch more dusty and beige than Nude.

(Please excuse the slightly mardy face, I was squinting into the sun. And those are my normal lips, not a duck face!)

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

DavCam's War on Porn

I got all fired up about this on Monday and was all "I'm so going to blog about this", then ended up in a bit of a pointless debate going round in circles and have consequently lost a lot of momentum.

Bottom line is, for me anyway, this is the thin end of a wedge. Once the government starts dictating what we can and can't access on the internet without giving our express permission, its just a slippery slope before they are using those powers to 'shield' us from political dissent and anti government sentiment. It's admittedly a pretty theoretical risk, but I bet you that people in other countries where it has actually happened thought that too.

I don't really want to invoke Godwin's Law, but there has never really been a time when I have felt more like doing so.

But I'll stick with just c+p the arguments I wrote out earlier. More or less anyway. I'll stick them in a better order.

The prevalence of porn is not the problem, it is the lack of a rounded education for teens teaching them about the different types of relationship and sex. You can already set up network wide restrictions that are password protected so that adults can access the sites that are banned with most ISPs. It IS that simple. If you don't know how to do it already, call your ISP and get them to help you. If you have to put individual restrictions on every single device then so be it.

I'm not anti porn myself, I have serious issues with the majority of the industry as it currently exists, but I am not against the existence of porn. I actually think it is a good thing when done well, as it can provide a safe space to play out fantasies and explore the depths of sexuality.

I am absolutely horrified at the nanny statism of this latest move. Restricting what people can view on the net in this way is the first step towards state censorship in the manner of China/N.Korea et Al.

Forget about the morality debate around porn for a moment. Forget that we're even talking about porn, and just think about what DavCam is actually proposing here. Which is that the government can impose a blanket restriction on what we can and can't look at on the internet.

That's what I'm most concerned about. That the government feels it has a right to dictate what we can and cannot access (I say we, I really mean you, UK readers, because I live in a country that experienced this first hand nearly 80 years ago and still bears the scars, so wouldn't even dream of this kind of restriction on thought).

Restricting access to illegal material is one thing, but using morality as a framework for regulation? Absolutely despicable and I hope it gets shot down in flames.

Now I understand that there are some parents in the UK who don't police their children on the internet, either because they don't care enough, or they don't understand enough to set up the controls. Parents in the former category probably also aren't going to do much to stop their kids drinking, smoking or anything else that is harmful. Parents in the latter category need to ask their ISPs for help.

There are a few organisations organising a counter attach, such as Sex and Censorship, Backlash and The Open Rights Group. Check out the petition too!

Monday, 22 July 2013

New beauty round up: the good and the bad

The Good

Clinique Take The Day Off Balm

 This is a very very recent purchase, but it is a brilliant one! Caroline Hirons put this into her Hall of Fame the other day, prompting me to finally go out and buy it. My only reticence had been in the lack of obvious INCI list (it doesn't come in a box and the label is one of those irritating 'peel here' things that is taped down in the shop, nor could I find one online), so when Caroline posted her review of it (glowing) and the INCI list, I was sold. And I am not disappointed. I love this stuff. I especially like that it washes off with just water, no need for hot cloths (not that I am skipping that step) which means if I travel and forget my flannels I could still use it.

Clarins Doux Exfoliant

This exfoliating toner is gentle but thorough and my skin loves it. It has really helped clear up the scars from my last year of horrendous acne (combined with some Hyaluronic Acid gel), and helped keep my skin smooth and breakouts to a minimum. Unfortunately no airport seems to stock this, which is annoying as a nice duty free discount would be good!

Aveda Exfoliant
Also a new purchase, this does the same job as the Clarins, but Caroline Hirons recommends switching it up, so 2 is better than 1! I originally ordered from the UK, but I have now found a retail location in Vienna, where I'm also going to go and try out their hair salon and have a facial at some point.

Tautropfen Hyaluron Gel
I bought this when I first started using Hyaluron because Hydraluron is not available in Austria. It is a light gel with a host of ingredients in it, including Carageenan, Hyaluronic acid and aloe vera. It is light, absorbs without feeling sticky or heavy. I noticed a difference in my skin almost immediately, most notably with the way my make up sat and lasted. When I ran out I switched to Hydraluron, which you will see later was a massive mistake!

Totes Meer Salbe
I bought this because a) it isn't expensive and the ingredients looked good and b) I know how good salt is for acne. I haven't really used it that much up until now, but a couple of weeks ago a make up artist friend recommended it for my skin. I tend to use it as a night moisturiser, and it really does help with spots. I also use it as a moisturiser for after plucking the dark hairs on my upper lip, which would normally cause horrible spots. After using this there are none.

Lush Breath of Fresh Air
This was a repurchase of something I used a long time ago (I think I was still working at Lush when they brought this out), and I love it. For me it has the perfect combination of salt water, seaweed, and aloe vera that my skin really really needs.

Diorskin Nude Glowing Make Up
I love this foundation. I bought it on a whim when scouting around for a new base, because the sales assistant (whose English was about as good as my German) recommended it to me, and her make up looked really nice. I am so glad I did, because it is an awesome foundation. I have tested others and compared them since, but nothing holds a torch to this stuff. Cheap it is not, but worth every penny it most certainly is. And it lasts for ages. I think my bottle is nearly 6 months old and still has some left in it, I have just bought a replacement because a) it is hard to see how much is left and b) I was passing through an airport and the discount on RRP was nearly 25%. Why do I love it? It smooths out my skin without looking heavy or obvious. On good skin days I can get away with a mere touch of concealer on some stubborn patches, but even on bad skin days my need for concealer is lessened. It is light reflective so never looks flat, and the pigment is just light as a feather - some compare it to MAC Matchmaster, another foundation I have. The difference is clearly the pigment; the MAC pigments are not as subtle as the Dior ones and tend to end up a little chalky. The palest shade is also a good match for my skin, and is slightly on the pink side of neutral without being more brown, which I have found with MAC. 

Dior Addict 333 Nude and Dior Addict Extreme 316 Incognito

Oh my has Dior make up captured my heart! I was on the lookout for the perfect nude lipsticks and found these babies, which although both quite different, together make up the perfect set of nudes for all occasions for me.

Dior Addict 333 Nude is a more brown/pink/coral colour which complements my natural lip colour perfectly and goes really well with eyemake up that demands something a little less pink. I find a lot of nude shades too beige and concealer like, even though I'm really pale. This has a gel texture and runs that little bit more natural.

Dior Addict Extreme 316 Incognito is slightly more pink and slightly paler, but still blends with my natural lip shade really well. It makes the perfect nude for a more obvious lip, the perfect nude for wearing with darker shades that need a cooler finish.

Clinique City Block Sheer SPF25
Another airport purchase made after I'd read about it on Caroline Hirons' blog. I used to use this a lot when I was younger, and I'm not entirely sure why I stopped. I love that it is oil free, and it really feels to me like a BB, but this predates the current trend by many many years. The colour is very light, very sheer (I can't remember if there is a darker version?) and on me actually does a good job of evening out things. I sometimes wear this with just some concealer and a spot of powder over the top if I can't be bothered with the full foundation shebang. Plus, its sun screen. I don't find this irritates my acne as long as I wash it off well, which doesn't feel that hard, so that is a good thing for me! My only negative is that I don't particularly like it under make up, but I don't like primers of any description. If you do, then this would be great. 

The OK

Korres Gel Fluid Cleanser
I was a little disappointed to find, after buying this, that it is a frothy cleanser. However, it is soap free and pH neutral, and does contain lactic acid, so it isn't all that horrible. I like this as my second cleanse a couple of times a week. However, I don't think it is anything particularly special. Some reviews I've read claim its excellence for acne prone skins, but I don't think it makes that much difference. I most like to use this when I've been wearing sun screen, as I always feel like I need a good clean after that.


Lush Ultrabalm
Ultrabland's thicker cousin, this balm removes make up pretty well, but for me it just isn't amazing. I think it is the wax in it, I just feel like I haven't been able to clean it off properly. I do like it for a pampering day, and as it is a multi purpose balm I can use it on my feet and cuticles.

Clarins Extra Comfort Toner

I wish this was in the Good category. I really really like it as a toner, it is soothing and lovely BUT.... it contains a single ingredient (Methylisothiazolinone) that I think I am allergic to. The same ingredient is found in the Nivea Pure and Natural range which I loved until I started suffering really bad eczema on my eyelids. This lotion does the same to me, so I have to be really really careful how I use it. Which is why it only gets an OK.

The Bad

This so called wonder product, as raved about by many was on my hit list of things to buy in the UK. And buy I did. My trip coincided with my bottle of Hyaluron Gel running out, so it was perfect and serendipitous. Alas, with a few weeks use my skin became full of big spots, the likes of which hadn't been seen since the advent of my new skincare regime if not earlier. I googled and found a review by Charlie of Lady of the Lane, who said pretty much the same thing. Sadly I think the red algae that they combine the hyaluronic acid with is just too clogging on my skin - it is regarded as highly comedogenic and my experience tends to agree with that. It is such a shame, as I really wanted to get on with it, but the Tautropfen gel I bought here in Austria is much better on my skin. I'm not sure what to do with the 2 unopen tubes I have, for now the open tube is being utilised in wound repair!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Surviving the heat and other tales of woe

I think pretty much everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing nice hot weather at the moment. My Twitter feed is filled with people commenting on the warm weather. This week has been interesting and challenging for me, a Northern European cold weather seeker. Whilst no means as hot in Vienna as it was a month or so ago (5 days of 38 degrees on the trot), the constant high temperatures leave little respite and the humidity has its own agenda.

The first part of our week was spent in Sweden, where the temperature was about 10 degrees cooler than Vienna (or the UK I believe) and the wind was fresh and cool. Deceptively so because The Beard and I ended up getting the worst sunburn either of us has had in about 10 years. Nearly a week later and while I am no longer neon, my skin is still recovering.

So, lesson #1 (and in the words of Mary Schmich), wear sunscreen. It jolly well hurts when you don't. I'm actually really annoyed at myself because as a paler than pale northern European I know better. One year in Central Europe does not give me an immunity to the sun, no matter how much I wish it did.

Back in Vienna, the heat can be a little oppressive in the city where wind is sometimes a little scarce. Yesterday I went to Ikea for a few bits (going to Ikea on a Saturday in Vienna is not the hell it is in the UK), which is out on the northern side of the city, and the wind was strong and had a tinge of cool to it, which was wonderful. Ikea itself was warm and a bit stuffy though. All this heat (combined with the sunburn) does me no favours and by the time I got home yesterday my legs and ankles looked like I was 8 months pregnant. Complete with heat rash. Curse my allergic genes. Thankfully, the bath came to the rescue.

Which brings us to lesson #2, baths are not your enemy in hot weather. A long soak in a Dead Sea Salt filled tepid bath (I was in there for 1.5 hours) was the perfect solution to cool me down enough to be able to stand everything else. I'm sure it did my skin the world of good as well.

And while we do our best to keep the flat cool, it is virtually impossible to keep it at a temperature that my heat hating self likes. Actually both of us run really warm, so whereas many people would find out flat comfortable, for us it can be unbearable. This summer I had to cave and ignore my eco warrier inner voice, and buy an air conditioner. We don't use it to turn our flat into a fridge, that would be awful (and judging by the time it takes to knock the temperature down just 3 degrees would take forever), but we do use it to bring the temperature to a manageable level, the kind of level that means I'm able to do things like clean and cook, and sit here with the laptop and not die.

So lesson #3, buy air conditioning. You will not regret it. That, combined with a bunch of strategically placed fans, will make your life much more bearable.

I can't say I enjoy the hot weather, but I am getting used to it. My colleagues and I have found a way to keep our offices cool, so that makes that more bearable too. I can't wait for the sunburn to heal so I can actually go out in the sun again (this time with sunscreen) and go for a swim in the river to cool off!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

I always wanted to be Frances 'Baby' Houseman

 I just read this awesome article on how Dirty Dancing is a subversive masterpiece and it got me thinking about how Dirty Dancing occupies a really special place in my heart (and film collection) and how it had a huge influence on my sense of being, even if I didn't realise it at the time.

Dirty Dancing is a shared bond with my sister

My sister and I aren't very alike. It is just the way it is. But we have some shared loves, and Dirty Dancing is one of them. One of the reasons my DVD of the film is so precious to me is because my sister bought it for me for Christmas.
I think it all started when we were on holiday in the South of France, me aged 11, her aged 9. We met a couple of kids that we hung around with, a boy a year older than me, and his sister, who was a year older than mine. I think I probably had a little first crush on this boy, I remember thinking he was really cool. Anyway, he'd seen Dirty Dancing, a film we only really knew from the label on the VHS in the drawer at home. I seem to recall that my sister and I asked our parents if we could watch it when we got home to England. My parents replied with a not so unexpected NO, given that it was officially a 15 rated film and we were under 12.

So we did what any kid would do, and 'borrowed' it from the video drawer one Sunday afternoon. I guess our parents knew we'd watched it, and anyway I think I was aghast at its 15 rating given that there really isn't that much obvious sex in it. Watching Dirty Dancing became a regular activity, so much so that we can both recite the entire film off pat. We would 'practice' lifts over the big spare bed, and try to learn all the dance moves.

So to this day, every time I hear "I've Had The Time of My Life' I think of my sister.

Nobody puts Baby in a corner

Thanks in part to Dirty Dancing (and because of my folks and other stuff), I grew up believing that women were allowed to make the move on men. As Lesley says, Baby has all the agency when it comes to her sexual behaviour. She makes all the choices. Thankfully Johnny is a gent and behaves as such, but she is a powerful woman learning her way through her sexual awakening.

I don't think it ever really dawned on me as a teenager just how forward Baby was - in 1963 the idea of a young woman taking charge of her sexual awakening in quite that way would have been unusual. I think watching Dirty Dancing as I approached puberty really helped shape my actions (not all of which were less than embarrassing) as I embarked on dating, and later on as I embarked on my first sexual relationships. I'm quite a forward kind of woman, I don't see any sense in waiting around to be wooed by men. It hasn't ever really happened if I'm honest, I really can't think of a time when a relationship began because I was bought flowers and responded to flattery!

At the end of the day, Dirty Dancing is a truly feminist film

I read this article a couple of years ago about the politics of Dirty Dancing, and it sort of opened my eyes to a whole new world. Whilst I studied gender relations at university, as well as film, my reading of films has always been from a more gender blind perspective, normally focussing on the influence of international politics in film scripts. So while the article initially made me feel a little bit like a shitty feminist, it did flick a switch in my brain that helped me realise what I had long taken for granted.

As this essay from Alyssa Rosenberg  and this essay by Irin Carmon discuss, Dirty Dancing is a film made by women for women, and is a film where women are not chastised for sexual desire or made to feel like their lives are lacking from not having a ring on their finger. All too often in films there are consequences for being anything other than the virginal princess, or for not being engaged or married yet.

Dirty Dancing, in a refreshing breath of realism makes no happily ever after promises for Johnny and Baby, and only chastises the behaviour that should be chastised: the consequences of not having access to legal abortion, and treating women like possessions to be picked up and put down.

When you compare the portrayal of women in DD to that in other films, it becomes clear that popular culture seriously lags behind what we know to be better. Very rarely do such positive portrayals of women appear in films and TV; when push comes to shove, in many instances the female characters eventually revert to stereotype.

I will always long for a man who dances like Patrick Swayze

Which is one reason I ended up getting married to my ex I suppose. He fancied himself a bit of a dancer, and to be fair, had a reasonable rhythm and flair. The Beard only dances when he's had a fair amount to drink, and while he isn't Patrick Swayze, he can move his feet well. I just wish I could persuade him to dance more!

I also always really admired Baby's wardrobe, and apart from the colours being different, I have a lot of similar things in mine.

If you don't believe me that Dirty Dancing is a feminist film, or that it has a positive message, think about it, then go and watch it. And then watch it again. The first viewing, just take the time to appreciate the film's beautifully simple set up and style. Then, when you re-watch it, really look out for those deeply political, feminist undertones that make the film the beautiful inspiration that it has been to me.


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