Friday, 29 April 2016

Etsy Artwork Favourites

I have recently been looking for some new art for my bedroom and decided to turn to Etsy after finding nothing in the art stores that really matched my fancy. The main thing that was important to me was that there be two prints that match well enough, ideally from the same artist, and that they were colourful. That's it! Here's my ten top finds, with links to the shops/pieces so you can buy them too if you'd like!

 I absolutely LOVED these pictures, available here. I think they are absolutely beautiful and I spent ages just looking through the massive variety of paintings available, they are all so gorgeous and colourful and varied. The only reason I didn't pick these paintings is because I think they would clash with my room; my walls are completely white and minimalist and really the only decoration is lots and lots of flowers and I thought these would just clash a little bit too much, otherwise I would have gone for them in a second.
I really liked these funky giraffes! I don't have a preference between the pictures; the first one seems to be what is the instyle on Etsy at the moment only in giraffe format rather than the typical cityscape but I think it's so pretty, but I love the use of colour on the giraffe head as well. These giraffes are available here.

 Time for some florals! I thought these would be a good choice as my room is already filled with flowers, and there are so many different flowery designs to choose from. I like that they are simiplistic yet pretty, and these ones are the least expensive of the pictures I have featured here. I ended up deciding against these as I didn't want a complete flower overload, but if you're looking for some flowery pictures you can find them here!
Another pretty flowery option, but one that I didn't think would be flower overload like the ones above - the floral print is available here. Next to that we have a London print that I really did love, but ulimately decided to go with two different ones from the same artist which you'll see below.

And here are the two I chose! San Francisco and Paris. There are so many designs available in the shop and I loved most of them - there are even fictional places if you'd prefer! I had a real battle choosing between these three pictures. I think the London one is super pretty but I already have a similar London scene. It's interesting to me that I chose the Paris one as I don't actually particularly like the city, but I still thought the picture was beautiful. If you'd like to order some prints, you can get them from here!

There you go! When my canvases arrive I'll be sure to take some pictures to show you. I've also ordered some more from Etsy, some of which you'll have seen already if you follow me on Instagram - to be featured here soon!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

28 Thoughts About Turning 28

Hello world! Today it's my birthday, so thought I'd do a little post on my 28 thoughts about turning 28.
  1. I don't know when exactly, but I seem to have nailed the social thing at work this year. To the extent that it's a running joke that if someone needs to know the name of someone else, they'll come and ask me because I've probably chatted to them.
  2. This year my shifts have also gone downhill, which means doing stuff socially has become harder work. I don't know if I can work shifts forever, I hate the impact they have, but I've been befriending more and more shift workers and trying to make the most of when it IS an evening I have off.
  3. I don't like the gym. I DON'T LIKE THE GYM. I like the walk through the park I take to get to the gym. I should abandon the whole gym thing and just go for walks and runs through the forest.
  4. I'm not the most impressed that my rent is now 50% of my income, but I love living in London. I particularly love living in East London. This is my place, these are my people. But unless there's a price crash I don't think I'll ever be able to afford to buy in London, so if there's been no crash in two years I think it's time to head outwards. This makes me very sad.
  5. I don't know why I still care what people think.
  6. I don't think I want kids. I think I might want to foster one day. 
  7. I do want dogs. I had to give up my dog a few months ago and it makes me sad. Now I borrow a dog one day a week and it's not the same but the happiness that that day a week brings me is amazing.
  8. Everyone is married already. I feel left behind. 
  9. Which is weird, as I don't really feel like I'd even want to be married. I'm not sure I'd even want to be in a relationship.
  10. I actually really like spin classes. I don't know why.
  11. My best friend is 15 years older than me. I would have found this utterly bizarre once, now it just makes sense.
  12. Actually, by the time you're about 23 I think you don't change much at all.
  13. I don't think you ever fully get over depression. I've not fallen down the hole in quite a long time, but it's not unusual for me to feel like I'm hovering over the edge of it. I wish that would stop.
  14. I'm probably never going to be vegetarian, but I've started going exclusively organic free range this year. I should probably have done this BEFORE my rent hike because I really notice the difference in price.
  15. I've always been a huge traveller but I'm running out of destinations I want to go to. This worries me. Sometimes looking forwards to places I'm going to is really all I have.
  16. I'm glad I've started reading again.
  17. I wish I could speak another language by now. I keep trying.
  18. My taste in men is as strange as it's ever been. I thought it would be more logical by now. I even recognise people are awful and yet still develop a strange thing for them, even though realistically I know I wouldn't actually WANT to be with them.
  19. I still think I probably want to join the military. I've still got an application in but I feel too old now. I nearly actually am at the upper age limit so I need to hurry up and work that out. 
  20. My manager likes me. He thinks I'm good at my job and he trusts me, and he wants me to get promoted and go specialist. I've always had female managers that absolutely hated me and tried to make my life a misery, so this means something.
  21. I love that despite living in London, I live in a park with lots of wildlife. I really like just going and feeding the ducks every morning.
  22. My best female friend of five years has a baby now. It makes me sad because our friendship is fading out as a result.
  23. Really, I would quite like to live in a houseboat. If not for the fact that I need a permanent address for security clearance, I probably would by now.
  24. The idea of a commune sort of really appeals to me too.
  25. I'm still not in my dream job, but I did get a little bit closer this year. Maybe not next year either. Hopefully by the end of two years time.
  26. I think most of us are unstable on some sort of level.
  27. This is the first year I've started wearing the same perfume most days. I don't know what this says about me.
  28. I haven't had as much time for hobbies this year. I don't know where all the time went, really.


Friday, 15 April 2016

Follow Friday 008

I have been really slacking on the Follow Friday front lately, but I've got excuses all ready, I promise.

Going to Thailand of course stopped me for a bit. Then I moved house. Then I made a list of posts I wanted to feature and somehow it vanished, and then the week that I had to basically dedicate to things like this, well, to be completely honest just didn't have any posts that I loved enough to feature.

However, that's all changed now and finally, Follow Friday is back with my recommendations of posts and blogs to read from the last few weeks :-)

001. Josie posted a beauty post all about products that look fantastic - which I thought was a brilliant idea! She posted lots of lovely photos and reviews of products that are packaged beautifully, and as always she had some really great choices. In particular, I agree with her featuring this Tarte palette, above. I probably wouldn't ever really use this palette as the colours just wouldn't work with me, but it's SUCH a beautiful palette that I kind of want to buy it anyway!

002. This week, I'm also featuring Danniella for the first time - she recently received this Pokemon Box from Zaavi and really was not impressed with what she found inside. Firstly, even though I read in the title that she had been disappointed by it I instantly wanted it just because POKEMON ANNIVERSARY! How could that not be great? Unfortunately, this box managed it!

003. Becky recently went to the London Transport Museum, and I loved her post on it. I have walked past that museum so many thousands of times and have had friends that really want to go and for some reason it's just never appealed to me, I really didn't think it would be interesting at all. But now I've looked at Becky's post I actually really want to go and see it, thanks to her stories and her great photos!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The A-Z Of Me

I've not done a tag post in a while, and when I stumbled across Charlotte's post of The A-Z of Me I thought it was a great idea. So here's one all about myself, should you be interested in learning a little bit more about me! I failed a little and didn't manage to get the whole alphabet in, but I tried - if you've done one, feel free to link me in too!

Baking: I am a huge fan of baking and I always consider it a shame that I don't get to do it anywhere near enough. I'm working on a different team on my birthday and I consider this a good thing because it means I have a work birthday twice and so get to bake two different cakes for it! If I could own my own bakery, I would basically be the happiest person.

Colouring: I find it hilarious that adult colouring books are such a thing now as I've been doing them for years and years. I started with them ten years ago when I was on a long flight and needed something to occupy myself with and kept them on from there. It's so funny to me that they're a big thing now, though does mean I have much more to choose from!

Dogs: I am a big dog fan. I recently had to leave my dog with my former housemate when I moved house and was so sad by this, I didn't realise how much I missed him until I started looking after other dogs. I also don't want children, but would happily have a house full of dogs!

Elephants: Elephants are one of my absolute favourite animals. It was penguins for ages, but then elephants sort of appeared out of nowhere. If we're being specific, particularly Asian elephants. I think they're lovely and fascinating animals and getting to spend the day with them in Thailand was my trip highlight!

Fruit: The two things you can get for me if you want to make me happy are raspberries and papaya. They are basically my favourite things! I wish I could eat loads of fruit every day and drink juices and smoothies every day.

Gelato: I'm a fan of food and of desserts in general, but gelato is one of my favourites. Unfortunately, as a result of living in Italy, I'm also extremely picky on my gelato and almost always leave disappointed!

Housing: The bane of my life right now is basically the London housing crisis. I've long since accepted that I'm not going to be able to buy a house for a very long time, if ever, despite having a reasonable deposit. I also no longer qualify for shared ownership schemes as despite being on a pretty good salary, they want higher, which to me makes no sense as the amount I would be paying monthly is pretty much identical to what I already pay on rent. This is probably my most frequently ranted about topic.

Italy: It's a country I used to live in, and is still one of my favourites. I love the food so much, and it's such a beautiful country!

London: I live in London, and I love it. More specifically, I now live in East London and am a massive fan. I know people like to really criticise the east and it does have a bad reputation, but it has a lot of personality and that's why I like it so much. Sure, 50% of my income goes on rent and I really wish it didn't have to be quite so high, but I'll tolerate it to be able to live here!

Mac & Cheese: I eat out all the time. I love food. I love trying new things. But more than anything, my favourite meal is without a doubt mac & cheese! Especially interesting mac & cheese with a whole variety of other things thrown in.

Nicola: That's me! :-)

I am a big planner. I plan everything. I have spent the last three days completely planning our America trip. No one else has had any input into it, and none of them care because they know that I will extensively research everything and pick the best trip!

Reformer Pilates: Whenever anyone asks about how I got into a good shape, pilates is the answer. Specifically, reformer pilates. I was always slim anyway, but pilates really helped to tone me up!

Spas: I love a good spa day. No, I love a good spa TRIP, as I like being completely healthy for a couple of days and eating all the food that they tell me to eat!

Travel: I am a huge fan of traveling, and can't wait to go back to the US this year. My favourite country is Ecuador, followed closely by Malawi and Zimbabwe. I would love to return to South America, and would love to visit Antarctica and Japan!

Walking: I like to go for walks. I like to follow trails as well as to just wonder aimlessly.

I am really really bad at keeping up with any sort of exercise, but I'm pretty good at keeping to yoga. I'm shockingly bad at it and I don't understand why anyone finds downward dog relaxing or in any way pleasant, but the rest of it I enjoy.


Friday, 8 April 2016

MAC's Eye Shadow Purple x 9 Review

I've not bought a MAC product in what must have been a good six years. This isn't any fault of theirs - I LOVE their eyeshadows, but I just felt like I already had the colours that I needed. And their foundations look amazing, but just never quite colour match me. And I don't wear lipstick enough (read: at all) so have no need for any of their lip products that everyone else raves about. However, I came across their x 9 products and I KNEW I'd have to go and take a look.

There were two from this range in particular that I was really interested in, and oddly, it seemed to be the opposite two products to everybody else. Everyone else I see reviewing these products seems to be really interested in the two more natural palettes, whilst I was all about the navy and the purples. Looking at pictures online I thought I'd choose the navy palette, but in person the purples just really stood out to me and had so many colours that I thought I was sure to use that I gave in and bought it for myself.

So here it is! As the name clearly implies, you get nine pretty purple shades in this palette. By the way, I'll mention here that all of the photos in this post are completely unedited and were taken next to my window, so you'll get as accurate an idea of the colours in these photos as it's possible to get!

It's also worth mentioning that the colours you get are pretty small. This is fine for me, as it'll fit nicely in even my smallest bag and because I know the chances of me ever finishing one anyway are pretty low. But if you're unsure on this range, do go and take a look in person as they may end up being smaller than you want them to be!

Here's the colours themselves.

Sweet Lust, Lightly Sugared, Poignant
Mancatcher, Satellite Dreams, Bon Nuit
After Dusk, Beauty Marked, Shadowy Lady

As you can see, despite all obviously being purples (Well, Sweet Lust is debatable, I'd say it is more of a pink!) there is a good variety of different shades and textures in the mix. My favourites are probably Poignant and Satellite Dreams but there are so many nice shadows in there. The majority of them apply how you'd expect from looking at them, though Beauty Marked is a lot darker when applied than I expected it to be and the glitter doesn't come out nearly as much as it looks!

Overall, I'm happy with these shadows and I'm looking forward to using them properly. As you'd expect, they're well pigmented and apply really nicely. I'm going to be using them for more simple looks, but if you're someone who likes to spend a lot of time on their makeup and creating different looks with them I'm sure you'd be able to layer these nicely to create all sorts of amazing looks!

This palette cost £30, and you can buy it yourself from MAC's website - here!

Monday, 4 April 2016

What I've Been Reading Lately

It's been a while since I posted a look at what I've been reading, and to be honest that's largely because I stopped reading enough to really justify making a frequent post - or in some cases, I was reading a lot but nothing I was reading was really good enough for me to be able to do a write up about it. However, over the last two months or so I've been reading much more frequently again, and so I thought it was about time I gave you a little look at what I've been reading - in alphabetical order, for ease!

An Abundance of Katherines - John Green - £4.99 through Amazon
I started to read this book as against my best intentions, I'd really enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars. Also against my best intentions I'd really enjoyed Paper Towns, and I'd literally just watched the Paper Towns movie on the plane and was therefore in a bit of a John Green mood. I read the kindle samples for a few John Green books and if I'm honest, none of them really stood out to me, but this book seemed like the one that would most likely grow on me. It is a book about Colin Singleton, and his love of girls named Katherine. And unfortunately? It sucks. I didn't even make it half way through. The concept could be okay, obviously it's silly but there's nothing wrong with that and it still could have made for an entertaining book. It just had no charm to it, all the characters were annoying and it was a struggle to get even as far as I did.

Big Little Lies - Liane Moriarty - £3.85 through Amazon
I am a big fan of Liane Moriarty's books - only one has really disappointed me, and I'm actually currently reading through another of hers right now. Big Little Lies focuses on a school, and the parents of the youngest class. It follows a group of mothers from the school and the gossip and rivalries they face - eventually culminating in a mysterious death. The book follows the circumstances leading up to the death and the events that take place along the way. I found this to be a good read, and a really involved one. I read this entire book in a day whilst sitting on the beach as I liked it so much I just didn't want to do anything else! It has some interesting characters and as always her books are so well written and creative. I would definitely recommend this one!

Dark Places - Gillian Flynn - £4.00 through Amazon
Dark Places is a book about Libby Day, a now adult who at seven years old put her older brother behind bars for the murder of the rest of her family. She meets up with a group of murder fanatics who encourage her to rethink whether or not it was actually her brother who was to blame for what happened to her family, and runs through the past through the perspectives of multiple family members. This was a book I really enjoyed and would definitely recommend. There were multiple parts that I just did not see coming and the book is written so well - you are really able to get a good understanding of all the different characters that feature, and I thought it was an interesting concept as well. I particularly enjoyed reading about the Kill Club and about the life of Ben Day, as they just present interesting perspectives you don't normally get a chance to explore or think about.

Leaving Time - Jodi Picoult - £3.85 through Amazon
Leaving Time follows the journey of Jenna, a young girl who is trying to find out what happened to her mother following a tragedy involving a suspected trampling by elephants at the sancturary they lived at. She is helped along the way by a now failed psychic and a retired detective who help her to uncover the truth about what had happened. I do really like Jodi Picoult books - I know it's a common complaint by people that they tend to be quite samey and to an extent that is true, however this book can definitely stand on its own. It has an interesting concept and the characters are creative, and I would say that the path the book takes is not typical of Picoult's books. I found this book to be a really enjoyable read and would definitely recommend!

Shopaholic to the Stars - Sophie Kinsella - £5.59 through Amazon
As with all of the Shopaholic books, this book follows Becky, her husband Luke, and of course the new addition of her daughter Minnie through their lives - which in this installment has now taken them to LA, where Becky hopes to fulfil her dreams of becoming a celebrity stylist. I really wanted to enjoy this book, as the first couple of books from this series I thought were fantastic and the previous book particularly bad. However, I think these books have just lost their charm for me. The writing seems to have gone a bit downhill and the books have got a bit generic and bland and lost the humour that I originally really loved them for. If you're a massive fan of the others then of course give this one a go, but for me sadly this series has just lost its way.


Friday, 1 April 2016

Snippets from March

 In March, I returned to a place I've previously reviewed for afternoon tea, The Chesterfield Mayfair. This time we went for their Charlie and the Chesterfield afternoon tea which was really good, although I'm not going to do a post about it as it's a bit too soon after the previous one. However, what I will say is unlike last time I did not try to drink tea (I hate tea and yet am always swayed by the fancy names) and instead went for their hot chocolate and it was actually amazing. It is most definitely the best hot chocolate I have ever had. I would recommend going there purely so you can drink some of that amazing goodness.

 I also moved house, and here is the last photo I took in my old place. Because I AM SO SAD about those toys. That giant Nemo in particular has been to a few houses and it was particularly painful to give him away, and also the penguin as it was literally a very recent gift so I felt pretty bad about that. I love all my stuffed animals but there's just not the space for them in the new place so they all got donated to charity shops but it was oddly painful.

 The first lunch in the new flat ended up being these fruit pancakes which are actually amazing. No, I didn't make them myself, they're from the cafe just underneath my flat but LOOK, SO GOOD.

  Home decor became a big thing this month, and I've already posted about my love of these fake flowers that I picked up from Next but I thought they could do with mentioning again because they are SO pretty. I'm really happy with the design in my room, I just need to sort out being allowed to put some pictures up. When I can, I've already got some I'm eyeing up and you can probably guess where they're going to be coming from but I won't ruin the surprise just yet...

   I came across this dinosaur and thought he was pretty awesome. I don't have much more to add to that but look at him!

  I also went sale shopping, and all my friends got some lovely Hotel Chocolat eggs for half price. However, I had a bit of a sale fail as I was under the impression that the likes of Yankee Candle and Lush would do Easter sales and so far they haven't. I think Yankee probably still will but it looks like Lush aren't going to which makes me sad as I love their Easter range but think it's a tad too expensive. I also know that the second I actually buy something from it, they will magically begin a sale afterall.

  Since Yankee didn't want to have a sale, I picked up this candle from Primark. I actually went in there looking for bikinis, but something went wrong and this happened. I've not actually used the candle yet as part of my mission for the day is to go and actually purchase a lighter, but I'm optimistic as it smells so lovely and was only £2. I've only actually smelled a couple of the range and this was the nicest of the ones I tried - I didn't want to go for too many as I knew I'd end up buying more than one and then never using half of them.

  I also went to see The Phantom of the Opera, which I haven't seen in a good 15 years. It's a lot better than I remember it being and also a lot creepier, although there was also more actual opera singing than I remember which is a bit of a problem for me! But on the whole I enjoyed it, and I think the current Phantom is really good as well.

  All pictures used in this post come from my Instagram - go and follow me there if you'd like to see all of the pictures I post :-)
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