Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas, Ya Filthy Animals!

So, it's finally here. After the weeks of stressful shopping, fretting because your wrapping isn't as neat as it could be, preparing food more than 24 hours before you're going to be eating it, home baking that doesn't look a thing like the photos in the recipe books and buying a little more alcohol than strictly necessary, it's Christmas Eve.

As I write this I'm sat with my two lovely friends and we're watching Muppets Christmas Carol whilst munching on the only stuff in the house which isn't being saved for Christmas Day (fish fingers and potato bites, how festive!) and I can honestly say I'm pretty content. Yes, I have no money left. Yes, my fiance and his best friend have abandoned us to go fishing (honestly!?) and yes, I won't be seeing my immediate family on Christmas Day itself, but this year has been pretty amazing. Relocating to be with the man I love has proved very rewarding. We've added three little kittens to our family, and on Saturday we're getting a dog to complete our family...for now! (Her name is Isla and she's a beagle, but more about that on Saturday!)

Finally, I began this blog. It's been an idea in my head for some time now, but I'm glad I've taken the plunge and finally done it. Yes, I've been rubbish at organising posts and my posting is quite sporadic, but this creative outlet is definitely something I've needed for a while. The excitement to write has returned, and the sense of accomplishment seeing the final, published features is what I thrive on. I adore writing. I've also met some really lovely people through doing this already, so thank you for being such a lovely community.

I'll be writing one last post of 2014 on Saturday when Isla joins us, but for now, Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you all have a wonderful time, and enjoy yourselves!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Avon Haul!

I was incredibly misbehaved this past week and spoilt myself with lots and lots of goodies from Avon. I also treated my partner to some Star Wars goodies he spotted in there, but I have to admit as we speak I've currently adopted the slippers.... they're just so warm and cosy!

First on the list were a handful of new nail varnishes to treat myself with. I love the Avon Gel finish range because they've got such a shine to them, and dry really flawless for a really affordable price. The Stardust range pictured either side of that I hadn't tried, but as soon as they arrived I had to give them a go. I'm now rocking dark purple sparkly nails, and the photos just do not do it justice, they're beautiful. Here's one of the better pictures I got, but every time my fingers move they glitter and sparkly so radiantly! Definitely one of my favourite purchases and I'll be buying more shades in the next catalogue. 

I really can't stress how in need of storage our house is. We're desperately searching for an affordable wardrobe or chest of drawers to add to the bedroom, because between the two of us we just have so many clothes, accessories, and I think we have a slight addiction to blankets, throws and cushions too! So I was delighted when I spotted these adorable little owl hooks. We're going to do a tiny bit of DIY and colour their red parts in purple, as that's the colour scheme of our bedroom, but they're so cute and practical I just couldn't say no!

I also got a little festive and picked up this bubble bath which smells gorgeously of spiced apple and cinammon. Glade actually do a candle which  is the exact same scent, and it's just heavenly, so when I spotted this I just had to have it! The cute snowman packaging is just the icing on the cake, too.

Apologies if this photo is a little small, I tried to fit the remainder of my very naughty shopping spree in but I failed miserably, as I completely forgot most of the skin and hair products I picked up too! At the top there's a cream highlighter which comes in a really handy twist-click applicatior with brush attached, as well as a heavenly under eye roll on highlighter. I've had one of these before and used it until it was completely empty, and it's always my policy that if I finish something, don't replace it within two weeks and I still miss it, it's justifiable to replace it. So that's exactly what I've done! 
I also got new colour corrector and BB creams, a super hydrating balm to nourish my skin over night, some leave in argan oil treatment and a new purse, because my other one was just looking way too unhealthy! I'd had it about six years and it was genuinely beginning to be more brown than flower patterned, so it was time to say goodbye. I love the simplicity of this new one and the studs really make it suited to my personal style, too.

What have you been treating yourselves on recently?

Friday, 12 December 2014

13 Things A Woman Can Do To Be Attractive To Men

I came across an article this morning that quite frankly had be taken aback for a while, so I thought I'd write a post addressing some of the issues which it raises, and try to forge a discussion between my lovely followers and anyone that reads this article, about whether this is acceptable journalism or not.

The article is entitled "13 Things A Woman Can Do To Be Attractive To Men" and is written by a Mr. "John Smith" - false name, almost certainly, because he realises the backlash he's going to cause. This is John's first and last article on the site, unsurprisingly, and was published back in June of this year. I'm unsure why it's taken me this long to discover it.

I'm sincerely hoping that this article has been published as somewhat of a bait from Thought Catalog themselves, in order to get people to click through to their site and read their other content. It worked for me - I clicked through to the site, but I have not checked out any of their other articles. This one was repulsive enough in its own right, I didn't need to hear more.

The article addresses a list of things which, in a man's eyes, a woman should strive to achieve in order to keep him happy. May I begin by stating that not one thing I do in my life is solely to keep my partner happy. His well-being and happiness is always on my mind, yes, but I, as a 24 year old woman, live my life for myself primarily. I will never pursue an activity or task thinking "If I do this, he will love me more." No, girls, just no.

The first on the list is that a woman must "stay in shape" because a man wants "to be aroused by the sight" of his partner naked. The author then goes on to explain how men "don't want a bag of bones, nor do they want a woman who looks like she is smuggling beach balls". STOP. Since when were you the ambassador for all men, everywhere, and their tastes? Every man desires a different woman, every man has personal tastes, and under absolutely no circumstances should we, as women, be fretting about our body shape because we're worried whether men find it attractive. News flash: no matter your size, shape or BMI there are men that find you hot as hell. The fact that the writer of this article then goes ahead to suggest 3-4 cardio sessions a week and advise women as a whole on their diet is absolutely insulting to our gender.

His next "recommendation" as it were, is to lay off the body modification. This one I can strongly relate to, being heavily modified myself. I therefore can say with complete confidence that there are men out there who find body modification incredibly attractive, my fiancé included. The author speaks of his own taste yet generalises men as a whole in the same sentence by saying "Men gravitate to natural hair colour, tasteful and coverable tattoos"..."and piercings that are not out of control". By stating his opinion as a fact which applies to all men is obviously a tactic he's using to attempt to "troll" people I hope.

Later in the article he asks women to be feminine, as "men want to date WOMEN, not men with vaginas." Wait, wait wait. There's few things more satisfying than slinging my hair up, wiping off the make-up and kicking back on the sofa in my comfy pyjamas, playing Xbox and munching pizza with my partner for me. Of course, that's only my personal taste, but at the same time I know there are girls out there who agree with me. Does this mean I'm not feminine? Does it make me a man with a vagina? Is it unacceptable behaviour because it's destined to make me less attractive to my partner? Hell no.

He goes on to suggest that women should be "submissive" and tells us that as women our duty is to "rub his back, watch what he wants to watch, suck him off," as well as other things in order to get our partners to "reciprocate". I shouldn't feel like I need to use sexual favours and submission in order to earn the kindness of my partner. I definitely shouldn't feel that if I don't do these things I am seen as unattractive. This raises further issues on a more extreme level - women who find themselves trapped in abusive relationships, according to the author of this article's theory, will find themselves wondering "Oh, because I didn't give him oral sex, is this why he's behaving in this way?" There's a lot of self blame in women in abusive relationships and this sort of mentality can only encourage that, which is both upsetting and disgusting.

A healthy sex life, for me, is an important part of a relationship. But again that's not to say that this applies to every relationship, or every female's opinion. The author of this article states that a woman should have "few past sexual partners," and that a man will not be attracted to someone who used to be "the town bicycle". It is entirely up to a woman how many people she wants to sleep with in her life, and the double standard between men  and women needs to stop. Different people will have had different sexual histories, and when entering a new relationship these histories should not be used in any way against one another. The fact that this author feels that this is an acceptable thing to mention suggests he has judged an ex on her number of partners before. Why should it be that because you've slept with more people than average (apparently eight by the time you're thirty), that you become someone who it is perfectly acceptable to treat as a target for abuse. We're taught all our lives to live how we want to live, and this should include all aspects of life, not just those that other people may find more socially acceptable than others.

Perhaps the most insulting of all of the author's suggestions for making yourself more attractive to the opposite sex, is where he suggests we should be child free. If a former relationship has failed or, hell, even if you're pregnant due to a one night stand, that should not negatively impact your chances of finding a happy relationship further down the line. For men to rule out women that have children is shallow and ignorant, yet unfortunately I know that it does happen. A child is a blessing, a positive addition to the lives of yourself, your friends and your family, and hopefully the father of that child too. To label a child a stigma and something to be avoided when looking for a potential partner is narrow minded, and ignorant, and to be perfectly honest if someone holds that opinion of your child, do you really want to be with them anyway?

Other points in his suggestions include the fact that we're not allowed to have male friends, we must wear less make-up, we need to put our phones down and we need to cook more. I'm sorry, I wasn't aware that we'd flown back to earlier last century, when it was seen as socially common for men to tell "their" women what to do and what not to do. We are an independent gender with freedom of thought, speech and action, and the way in which this original article was worded was insulting and derogatory.

He does address some points at the end of the article which people make, but they're so pre-emptive, devoid of thought and substance that I'll not include most of them here, aside from this one; Where someone has stated that their boyfriend just the way they are, he has replied suggesting that this person's partner has obviously "settled" in some aspect. Someone that is more than willing to essentially tell a woman she is incredibly flawed and her partner has cut his losses and "settled" for her, is not someone who earns my respect at all.

For someone to raise all of the above points, and more, in a bid to attempt to convince women that if they don't abide by these rules they will be seen as unattractive by all men, especially in modern day where young girls seem more impressionable than ever, is irresponsible journalism. The internet gives people a platform to express their opinions, sure, but sometimes those opinions are more dangerous than constructive.

What do you think of the original article (HERE) and the points which it raises? Have you ever found yourself striving to do things to impress your partner, or the opposite sex as a whole? I'd love to hear your experiences.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

The 12 Days Of Benefit Giveaways

I know this started a few days ago, but for those of you that weren't aware, Benefit are doing twelve consecutive giveaways on their Twitter page right now.

The prizes are awesome, and I've already entered the first four... not won yet, but finger's crossed.

Day 1: Seven of Benefit's absolute favourite holiday gift sets.
Day 2: Win $500 worth of Benefit x Jonathan Adler goodies
Day 3: Over $600 in Julep polishes and Benefit essentials
Day 4: The entire b.right skincare collection.
Day 5: FRENDS x 8 Other Reasons and Benefit goodie bags, one for you and one for a friend.
Day 6: Over $500 worth of Athleta x Gap gym bag essentials
Day 7: The entire Benefit brow collection
Day 8: $1000 worth of GapKids x Benefit must haves for those with kids
Day 9: Over $350 of Benefit faves
Day 10: Over $850 in sparkly holiday jewels and night out beauty by Benefit x Stella & Dot
Day 11: Over $1000 in For Love & Lemons x Benefit swag
Day 12: The ultimate Benefit beauty jackpot - $1500 worth of everything you'll need for 2015.

All you need to do is head HERE and follow the Benefit twitter account, and retweet the giveaway which'll be their pinned tweet for the day. That's it!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Winter Wishlist

I seem to be posting so many of these over on my Polyvore account - if you're interested in looking at more my username on there is Illuminoire, too.
Winter Wishlist

This one is something I'll actually be trying my hardest to get my hands on, although some things are unfortunately way out of of my price range. I definitely will be buying the cream fur coat and the black dress though, they're my favourites and were the first two which I added to the wishlist.

A break down of them is as follows:

The black dress is from Bank actually, and is an absolute steal at £20.

The cream fur coat is from Asos, and is £59.50 reduced from £72... even more incentive for me to buy it!

The studded Doc Martens are from and are £135.

The bag which is absolutely gorgeous is a huge £1560 from Valentino, which makes it far, far too expensive for me at this point in my life. That's over three months rent for me!

The black and gold chain bracelet is under £5 from Forever 21, but the necklace which accompanies it so well is £335, also rendering it an impossible purchase for me, for now!

I am really tempted by the black and gold iPhone 5S cover for £37 from Herve Leger.

The black headband which I think would be an adorable addition to any outfit is from Etsy, and comes to around £19 when the currency is converted. If anyone knows of anywhere or anyone I can get something similar for a little cheaper in the UK, please let me know in the comments because I've fallen in love with this one, and my bank balance is in serious danger right now.

The adorable furry mittens are also from Etsy for £26, and I definitely need them! They're cute yet the dark colours make them completely suited to my style. I must own them!

So guys, you know, as it's Christmas soon, feel free to put absolutely any of these items in the post to me. I'll probably jump up and down with glee! I'm completely kidding, but a girl can dream...

What items have you seen recently that you absolutely must have? Wouldn't it be great if the credit card fairy came and gave us all an infinite credit limit, with no expectation of being repaid.... 

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

My thoughts on Zoella

Let me begin this post by saying I'm not setting out to make Zoella feel any worse about her current situation than she already does. It's well documented online that she suffers with anxiety, and I'd hate to be the person to trigger any bad feeling in her.

Zoella (aka Zoe Sugg) is an online beauty and fashion blogger, and if you weren't already familiar with her posts, you can find her blog HERE. She has a highly successful blog, Youtube channel, beauty range and most recently, a novel, entitled Girl Online. This is where the recent events begin to unfold. Today Zoella and her boyfriend, Alfie Deyes, who also has a strong online presence, announced they were taking a break from the internet. Zoella posted the below tweet.

This comes only a few days after it was revealed by Penguin that Zoella had had help in writing her book, and that in fact the characters and the stories were hers, but a ghost writer had actually written the novel alongside her. Her full statement can be seen below regarding the revelation.

Now, despite the news that Zoella didn't actually write her first novel (which, by the way, is the fastest selling debut novel of all time, selling an incredibly 78,000 copies in its first week - an achievement in its own right) entirely by herself, does this really detract from the success of the book itself? I mean, come on, this is a girl who's quite literally forged an entire career from having a strong online presence, being smart and savvy about marketing her brand, and has now outsold the likes of J. K. Rowling in the first week of sales alone. I'd say that's incredibly impressive for a 24 year old girl who, until recently, had probably never even thought about releasing a novel, let alone had the support, knowledge, vision and online presence to make it happen.

Firstly, how much do we really believe Zoe was allowed to disclose regarding her book deal with Penguin? As I'm sure many people could vouch, Zoella is just an ordinary girl, documenting her life online as a blogger, as hundreds of thousands of us do - or at least that's where she began. With great power comes great responsibility and whilst she's skyrocketed in terms of success and popularity, we can't forget that there will have been contracts and clauses behind the scenes that may not have actually permitted Zoe to inform anyone that she didn't actually write this book entirely on her own. She has, as above, clearly stated that the story and characters are entirely her own, and thus a lot of her creativity and charm has gone into the book already. 

I've seen a lot of negative posts about Zoella today - "She does nothing for a living and she can't even do that right?" being my least favourite of the many I've browsed. I can only do one thing, and put this down to jealousy. I know myself and many others would love to have the success Zoe has had, and the skills, knowledge and dedication to get to that point. To those making negative thoughts regarding the announcement and Zoe's break from the internet over the festive period, I ask you to take a look at how your comments are being construed. Negativity is poisonous, and turns my perception of usually wonderful people into a not very nice one at all. As my, and many others', mum used to say "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." 

I think it's time to take a moment to remind yourselves of that mantra, and provide support to Zoe during what must be a difficult time, especially for someone whose entire life is literally documented online. Allow her some privacy, and I'm sure she will reward that with more of the creative, innovative, exciting content she's used to get to this place in her life so far.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Treating Yourself at Christmas...

Christmas can be a difficult time, especially to fit in some much needed pampering sessions, and thinking about yourself. Don't get me wrong, I adore the festive period, and love shopping for gifts for my loved ones, but sometimes you just need an early night to yourself to de-stress, and thoroughly concentrate on yourself. Occasionally we can forget to indulge ourselves, because we're so worried about pleasing others as it gets closer and closer to Christmas Day.

This is exactly why I've put together a post on five things you can find on eBay at the moment for under £10 each - after all, it's the month where most of us end up spending the most money! So relax, click away, and hopefully you'll find at least one thing in my little collection of personal indulgences that you can treat yourselves to absolutely guilt free.

1 - At just 99p with FREE postage, these statement necklaces are an absolute steal. They may not be the highest quality items you're flashing over the festive period, but teamed with an adorable little black dress and a pair of heels, they'll be the perfect finishing touches to your office christmas party outfit. I particularly love the silver one, for some reason it just seems more festive to me. 

I don't know about anybody else but when the Avon catalogue gets dropped on my doorstep I'm always trying to find an excuse to splash out, especially on the gift sets and pamper kits which they always have in there. This Avon Planet Spa Luxury Mini Gift Set is on eBay for £5.10 instead of the usual £12 so I think it's more than justifiable that I treat myself to one finally! This particular one includes the African Shea Butter and Chocolate Truffle Silky Body Souffle, the Dead Sea Minerals Caviar Refining Facial Treatment, the Mediterranean Olive Oil Gold Face Elixir and the Thailand Lotus Flower Champagne Luxurious Bath Elixir, so it works out at a little over £1 per product. Tell me that isn't fantastic value for amazing skincare products? I can't wait for mine to arrive and I'll be doing a review on the products too, when they get here!

When the nights start drawing in, as they definitely have here up north, with the sun only managing to last until about 3.30pm before it begins getting dark, I try to do things to keep my mind occupied and resist just crashing in front of my laptop for a long evening of work. One thing that's really helpful as well as productive is baking, and I spotted these gorgeous festive themed cookie cutters whilst browsing online recently. At only 99p you can grab a selection and really go to town on the decorating... I'll definitely be getting a few more to add to my collection at this price!

There is absolutely nothing more indulgent than smacking some fleecy pyjama bottoms on with a vest top in front of the fire and pampering yourself with some brand new nail varnishes! These Paul's boutique varnish gift sets are only £5.49 which, for the quality of them and the fact that you get three, is a fantastic steal. I already own three pairs of these pyjama bottoms, and I'm not even ashamed to admit I'm currently wearing some! They're so comfortable and at £8.49 I don't feel guilty for owning so many different designs. In fact, it took more than a little self control to not pick up another pair when I was searching for the link to include in this post.

Remember, Christmas is amazing for spoiling your loved ones, but don't forget to kick back in your comfy clothes, bake some comfort food, pamper yourself and enjoy being a little selfish for an hour or two. Hopefully my budget finds will assist you in this festive period... I know I'm already getting my money's worth out of mine! How do you relax in the hectic run-up to Christmas Day? Do you find yourself compromising your own enjoyment because you're worrying too much about pleasing your friends and family over the festive period? Any relaxation tips would be wonderful!