Sunday, 25 January 2015

First attempt at nail stamping

Josh's parents bought me a fantastic nail stamping kit for my birthday, earlier this month. Here's how I got on with my first attempt!


I started off with a couple of layers of my favourite nude polish - Revlon's Grey Suede. Once the base was completely dry, I started with the fun bit - the stamping!

Now, if you're not familiar with nail stamping, you've got loads of designs imprinted into metal plates. You apply polish directly to the metal plate, scrape off the excess with the scraper [or you could use the side of an old loyalty/credit card] so that the nail polish is only left in the imprint of the design. You then use the rubber stamping pad to pick up the design, by rolling the pad over the imprint from one side to the other. You then apply the same rolling technique to your nail, aligning the design with the direction of the nail, then slowly rolling the design onto the nail starting from one side to the other. So, that's the theory behind it and here's how I got on...

I chose the gradient dotted design, thinking that something a little more simple might be best for my first attempt! There are some amazing designs in the set, some really intricate ones that I might be trying when my skills are more refined. The Sparituals nail polish I used was great, it didn't dry too quickly or slowly for the stamping to work. The hardest part I found was rolling the design onto my nail straight. It's surprisingly hard to get dots onto your nail in a straight line, but I soon got the hang of it and got a bit of a technique going. It's also good to note that you can scrape the stamp off your nail, with another nail, if you're quick enough before it dries! 

Whilst this attempt isn't perfect, I love the effect of nail stamps. They make your nails look like they've been professionally painted, especially with some of the more elaborate designs. When really, you haven't spent that long doing your nails at all! This was definitely an awesome present and I can't wait to try out some more designs!

Have you tried nail stamping before? Have you got any top tips for making them look amazing?

Friday, 23 January 2015

Photo Diary: Australia's Great Ocean Road

While we were in Australia, just before Christmas, we took a couple of days out of our stay in Melbourne to travel the Great Ocean Road. Here's a few photos of the beautiful scenery, wildlife and sights we saw along the way. I would definitely recommend this as a must-see if you're ever in South-East Australia!

Great Ocean Road Trip
Great Ocean Road Tour
The scenery along the way was incredible, we drove past and stopped off at so many tiny beaches and beautiful rock formations. The majority of the cliffs and outcrops of rock in the area are limestone, so very easily sculpted by the sea and wind - creating these beautiful, statuesque-like formations. We took a helicopter over the most famous of these formations - The 12 Apostles. Yes that's right, I got in a helicopter! I've always had a huge fear of flying, so even my mom didn't believe me when I told her. I'm so glad I did though, it was incredible!

As well as stunning coastlines along the Great Ocean Road, there are also loads of national parks and jungle-like forests where we saw plenty of wildlife. I was most excited to see this beautiful koala perched up in a tree above my head, completely wild! They are so cute and I stood there talking to him for way longer than was deemed normal... oops. We also saw kangaroos and wallabies! I would've been disappointed if I'd gone all the way to Australia and not seen a kangaroo. We also picked up some bird feed to give to these brightly coloured guys - they're called king parrots. They were so tame from being fed so many times, they'd just sit on your arm, shoulder, head, anywhere to get some food! 

 Another highlight for the UK 90s kids on the trip [which consisted of Josh, one other girl and I], was the Round the Twist Lighthouse! This is the very same lighthouse featured in Round the Twist, the kid's TV programme from the 90s, where the family lived! If you're not sure what I'm on about, but you were watching TV around that time then this might bring back some memories... Have you ever, ever felt like this? Do strange things happen? Are you going round the twist?

It was a great couple of days with the lovely Jude from Ride Tours, we saw so much in just a short time! Which trip or tour would you recommend, anywhere around the world?

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Lilac & Cream Roses by Debenhams Flowers

Lilac and Cream Roses from Debenhams Flowers*

On, supposedly, the bluest day of the year, this beautiful bouquet landed on my doorstep. As the postman handed a giant purple box through the door, the cream and lilac blooms instantly brightened up the bluest of days.

I love that these roses aren't red. As lovely as red roses are, they're just not really me and I hate to say it, but a little bit obvious around this time of year. The pretty lilac and fresh cream shades of these flowers really brightens up our home. As you can see, I've popped them in a bright green jug that Josh gave me full of flowers for my birthday. The green really compliments the flowers and the whole vase almost convinced me that spring is on the way.

It's less than a month until Valentine's Day now, so you might want to start hinting to your other half if you'd like some Valentine's flowers, or just treat yourself! These are from Debenhams' flower delivery and it's a great service, especially if you don't live very close to a florist who will create beautiful arrangements like this. You can get 25% off a bouquet [excluding the flowers by post range] with the code DFBLOG25!

Do you prefer alternative bouquets or would you love a big bunch of red roses on Valentine's Day?

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

New In: Makeup Revolution Blush and Eyeshadow Palettes

makeup revolution iconic palette
makeup revolution iconic dreams palette
makeup revolution contour and blush palette
makeup revolution salvation girl panic palette review

I've got a lot of Makeup Revolution product testing to get round to, as quite a few beautiful new products popped through my letter box while I was away travelling. I thought I'd start off with the palettes - I'm always drawn to makeup in palette form. Who can resist the handy, all-in-one, packaging of multiple shades and finishes?! Not me, that's for sure.

First up, we have the Iconic Dreams Eyeshadow palette. If you've heard of Makeup Revolution, you'll have heard of their Iconic palettes. They have genuinely become, well, iconic. Straight up dupes for the Urban Decay Naked palettes but for a fraction of the price, beauty bloggers haven't been able to keep their hands off them. This palette contains a selection of beautifully soft, shimmery shades ranging from pearly nudes, creams through to coppers and deeper browns. There are also 4 mattes included in the palette, the first and third eyeshadows, plus the last two as well. All in all, the set contains the perfect combination of shadows to create a perfect neutral look or a deeper smokey brown eye. As always, the eyeshadows are the perfect, soft formula and amazing quality for the price. I feel that this could become my staple, everyday eyeshadow palette this year.

Makeup Revolution are also becoming renowned for their other palettes, not just eyeshadows. This blush and contour palette contains 8 shades - two highlighters, four shimmery blushes, plus two matte bronzers. The mattes are perfect for contouring, the two shades are great for light to medium skin tones. Add one of the pink or bronzed blusher shades, a sweep of highlighter at the top of your cheekbone and you're good to go! These cheek products have great lasting power and are equally as soft as the eyeshadows. This palette is great to take on your travels, it has everything you need in one handy set. Plus, the whole inner lid is filled with a mirror - perfect!

Finally, the Girl Panic Salvation palette. The Iconic palettes stick to the safer neutral shades, whereas the Salvation range vary their shades from classic peaches, coppers and pinks like this one, to more adventurous blues and greens and even purples and blacks in some palettes. I'm completely happy with the shades in Girl Panic, they're perfect for me and my skin tone as I definitely play it safe with my colour choices! As with the Iconic shadows, they're super soft, blendable shades. With very little fall out, they make for the perfect, easy application!

What's your go-to eyeshadow shade or look? I'm definitely a fan of nudes, neutrals, peaches and browns. For blusher, I do love a good coral!

Monday, 12 January 2015

NYE Nails: confetti glitter gradient

confetti glitter gradient nails
how to do glitter gradient nails

After returning home and unpacking [most of] my life, I've re-discovered two huge boxes of nail varnishes. I bet you can imagine, I'm like a kid in a candy shop! I love having pretty coloured nails, added sparkles are a bonus, but unfortunately the travelling lifestyle just didn't lend well to nail varnish so in the end I had bare nails for a whole year!

My New Year's Eve nails were a simple navy blue base, with blue and silver confetti glitter laid over the top in a gradient style. I simply let the base coat dry, then added the glitter - concentrating more of the strands towards the cuticle. The idea behind the theme was meant to be the dark blue night sky [I didn't have black on hand], with fireworks or party popper confetti over the top. I'm not sure it exactly looks like that but y'know, the idea was there. Excuse the wear around the tips, I only managed to take photos a couple of days into the New Year, oops!

I received a nail stamping kit for my birthday which I can't wait to try out! I'm sure there will be a few more nail art posts in the coming weeks. 

Friday, 9 January 2015

Your favourites from 2014

I'm slightly slow on the old '2014 review' posts this year, but it's been a busy time for me! I've been visiting friends in London, moved house, unpacked and it was my birthday yesterday... all fair excuses, I feel.

Here's the posts you guys liked the most [according to stats], from each category, in 2014!

This 'Outfit: For a not-so-summery day' post went down a treat in June. I still love this dress and wore it on Christmas day.

My 'How to: Contour and Define' tutorial was also a hit last year, showcasing products from everyone's brand of the year - Makeup Revolution. 

Food was the front runner in the lifestyle category and I definitely agree with this one. The veggie breakfast and pancakes from Bill's Restaurant in Brighton were amazing! 

Finally, the most loved travel post from 2014 was all about travelling in Chiang Mai, Thailand, featuring this beautiful tree tied with sacred ribbons to stop tree felling.

So there we go, let's see what posts 2015 brings! There will definitely be less travel coming up and more lifestyle and beauty over the next few weeks, as I've now settled down and begun looking for a permanent job that I can get stuck into. Routine will be resumed!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

New Zealand Travel Diary - Part Two

Here's the second and final instalment of my New Zealand travel diary. Out of the 10 countries we've visited this year, I think I have to go as far as saying that this is my favourite. Hopefully from the images below you can see why! Breathtaking scenery, good food and it was the place we met the best people.

Wellington - Capital of New Zealand:
A bowl of coffee and lunch at Fidels - a really cool little cafe, definitely somewhere to check out if you're in the area. We accidentally stumbled upon the Sam Simon Sea Shepherd ship and team (that's a lot of alliteration right there) and took a tour around the boat - superheroes of the sea! Finally, there's a lovely view point over the city and harbour accessed only by a cute, vintage style, cable car. 

Nelson Lakes:
Just a tiny snapshot of some of the beautiful scenery around New Zealand. The whole country is breathtaking and it's right there, a short walk out of town, or just out of your car window. 

Wanaka is a stunning, lakeside town where we met up with some friends we made in Verbier, Switzerland when living out there. Harvey was the head chef in our hotel and an excellent cook as you would imagine! He rustled us up an amazing BBQ on the shore of the lake - a lovely evening with incredible views. 

Queenstown: [apologies for the change in image size, my SD card died a sad, sad death. Instagram to the rescue!]
Queenstown is the best. Go up the gondola to the top of the mountain for this view, then check out the luging tracks up there too, if you like flying down a track on a tin tray on wheels. So much fun and it will always get slightly competitive! Another Queenstown essential is Fergburger - the best burger I've ever eaten in my life. I had a 'Chief Wiggum', pork belly, hash brown and apricot chutney. I repeat, Hash brown!

Lake Tekapo:

On to Australia:

Leaving New Zealand was sad, but we did get one final view of the beautiful country from up in the clouds. Next stop was Melbourne, then finally Sydney and catching up with Kim!