Monday, 24 July 2017

Urban Decay Mini Reviews: Naked Skin Liquid Foundation & Vice Lipstick

As I'm super excited about the upcoming release of Urban Decay's Naked Heat palette (SOON!), I've been on a little bit of a make up splurge lately. Obviously inspired by how much I wanted the new palette, Urban Decay was the first store I ended up in and so I thought I'd do two little mini reviews for you on their foundation and lipsticks.

Whilst in the store I took advantage of it being dead (yay for shift work!) and had a bit of a makeover done. I specifically asked for a light foundation and for a lipstick. We gave two foundations a try and two lipstick colours, and luckily one of each was absolutely perfect and so I ended up with both - and a desire to go and buy more, but let's get to that later!

 First up is the Urban Decay Naked Skin foundation. Guys, I am SO happy with this foundation, it's exactly what I was looking at. I've mentioned before that I so rarely wear foundation because I just hate how it feels on my skin, I find it so irritating.  It's extremely rare that I wear any at all and when I do it's one of these two body shop ones; (liquid, powder) however neither has quite been working with me lately and no matter what I do just haven't been applying properly. I was SO happy with how well the Naked Skin foundation went on. My skin had no issues with it whatsoever, it went on very smoothly and evenly both when applied in store with a big foundation brush and when I applied it myself at home with my beauty blender. I find that no matter how hard I try my skin loves to suddenly go flaky or make foundation look all weirdly rough and bumpy but I don't have that problem AT ALL with this foundation.

  This foundation is only light coverage - which is fine for me, that's exactly what I wanted. It sorts out my colour imbalances and tones down my scar, but it's definitely not full coverage. Of course, if you wanted to you could rectify that with some concealer, however it was the look I wanted - me, but better!

  And no - I don't find this annoying on my face at all. If not for the fact that I kept seeing myself in the mirror and being surprised by how good my skin looked I would have forgotten I was wearing it at all! I'd also say lasts a good chunk of time. It's easily lasted me from early afternoon to the end of the night on a few occassions, though I haven't tried it in hotter weather yet.

Want it? You can buy it for £25, here!

 Next up I bought a Vice Lipstick. Confession time; I don't own any lipstick - or at least, I didn't before purchasing this one. Before I had jaw surgery I was super self conscious about my whole mouth area and so lipstick was something I just never wore as all it did was draw attention to what I was trying to hide! It's been a few years now so I figured it was time to see if I could finally start wearing some pretty shades.

 I was staring in wonder at all the colours in the range. There are just SO MANY and being that I didn't own any, I had absolutely no idea where to start. The make up artist picked out a few colours that she thought would work well with my skin tone and swatched them for me. She said that the one she thought would look the nicest was Peyote and I agreed, so we give it a go.

And WOW. I was SO happy with this colour. It's a natural colour so it doesn't stand out too much, yet at the same time it's so pretty. Chris was there with me and actually looked visibly surprised when I turned around to show him, he loved it. We both did! It made so much more of a positive difference than I thought it would.

 Being that I don't wear lipstick at all, it wouldn't be fair for me to give you a proper review of this product as I just don't have enough to compare it with. I think the colour is so pretty (the ones I tried afterwards just didn't compare!) and wearable and that's basically the only reason I chose to buy it. It's not the longest lasting lipstick at all - a quick trip to the cafe and it was all gone half way through my scone! - and I don't love how it feels on my lips, I'm definitely very aware of it - BUT I'm also aware that could be down to the fact that I'm just not used to wearing lipstick and so of course I'm going to notice it.

  Urban Decay's enormous Vice lipstick collection comes in six different finishes. Peyote is one of the metallics, and I'm so happy with how this lipstick wears that I'm going to be definitely giving the Vice collection much more of a look. I plan on looking at some of the other metallics and also giving a cream finish and a comfort matte finish a go too. I'll be able to give you a much fuller review when I've got some more to compare them to!

Want to buy your own? Peyote and the rest of the metallized range are available here for £15.50!

Friday, 21 July 2017

How to Plan a US Road Trip

  The US is the country I've visited more than any other - and, in my personal experience, all of my favourite trips out there have been the ones that required a fair chunk of driving. Of course, there are plenty of places you can go just for a nice city break or a quick trip, but my personal feeling is that if you want to do it properly, you're going to need to spend some time on the road.

  And with that being said, here's my quick tips for how to make your US road trip is a success!

001. Know what you're working with first.
  The first tip is quite obvious - you need to know exactly what you're working with. Do you have specific dates that you're going to need to be going in, or a certain amount of time that you have to work around? If your dates aren't fixed, do some research first by checking the prices against flights for different dates. You may be surprised with what comes up! For our last trip the flight prices were pretty consistent across the board - apart from one return flight which was randomly £250 cheaper than any other flight. It extended our trip to be more than we expected it to be but it was definitely worth it for us.

  Next up, you need to work out your budget!

  And finally, and I'd say before you do anything - go and book your ESTA or your visa if you need one. I would always recommend you get this sorted before you start booking anything else. It's normally immediate to get an answer on this. My most recent one was not - but I refreshed the page about five minutes later and my acceptance was on there. You're not going to get a refund on your flights or anything else if you're not approved, so save yourself the worry and make sure you're not going to have any problems first!

002. Who's driving?
  Again, this seems obvious, but there's going to be a lot of driving involved. A LOT. The roads are pretty easy out there, but do you have someone in your group who's going to be willing to take on the driving? In our most recent case, it was easy. I can drive, but I didn't really want to. My boyfriend loves driving and wanted to do the majority of it. Our other friend shared the same feelings as me. This made it nice and easy for us as my boyfriend did the significant majority, and we'd dip in every now and then if he was too tired. The trip before it wasn't quite so easy as we were all equally reluctant and had mistakenly assumed the others would be more willing than they actually were. Make sure you know who's going to be driving and if they're happy to do it!

  Next up you need to work out what you're actually going to be driving. If you're going to be visiting a lot of national parks, you probably want to look into getting a 4x4. If you're going to be doing mostly cities, then something smaller will probably work out better for you.

003. Pick the places that are most important to you.
  Where do you actually want to go? Is there a focus to your trip, or would you prefer a variety?

  For me personally, I'd always recommend a variety. I like to try and mix it up and keep what I'm doing fairly equal but spread out. I also recommend sticking to no more than 4 states - that's enough to give you a mix, but also allows you enough times to get to know the state you're in a bit better.

  Pick out the places that you most want to go to on a map. Google Maps lets you do a multi stop point, so I'd recommend using that to dot in all the areas you're interested in so that you can get a better feel for what the distances are going to be like between them. This can also help you sort out the order that you're visiting places in too, to make sure you're not doing too much of the same sort of thing in a row or that you're not taking a bizarre route!

004. Now fill in the gaps!
  Now that you've got those stops that are the most important to you in - take a proper look at them. More importantly, take a look at what the distances between them all are like. You may be surprised by just how many MASSIVE drives you end up with between your two locations. For some, that might not be a problem. For me, I like to try and split those drives up a little bit more and find new places to stay at.

  I begin by taking a zoomed in look at the route between my two locations and then picking out some spots along the way. If there's a place you've heard of there, open up a new tab to take a look at that one. Anywhere marked a little bigger, open some new tabs and look at those too. If nothing is immediately jumping out, bring up some tabs to look up some other locations not quite on your route but very near it. When you've got a selection there, take a look through the tabs you've brought up and have a look at the images. Which one jumps out at you the most? Stick that one in! It breaks up your driving a bit and allows you to find some cool new places to visit that you probably wouldn't have thought about afterwards. It's your choice whether you use it just for a break in the middle of the day or as an extra night somewhere - for us, we tend to use it as an overnight stay.

005. Where do you want to stay?
  Now that you've got your basic itinerary worked out, it's time to work out where you're staying. And how long for!

  Take a look through your priority locations and work out how long you think each place needs. Personally, I feel that if in doubt it's better to actually do less days in a certain location rather than doing too many. I'd rather leave with a plan to return again one day as opposed to be bored in a location and feeling a bit trapped there. For example, I definitely didn't spend long enough in Vegas last time - but that's not an issue, as I now fully intend to make another trip back over there in the next year or so and make sure I give it a bit more time this time. On the other hand, we didn't really enjoy Yosemite so much so I'm glad we had cut down the amount of time we had there.

  As for where you're going to stay - Unless you have plenty of money to spare and want the experience, I'd recommend motels for the most part. You're not REALLY going to be there too often, so I don't see the point in wasting money when a motel is more than good enough for the most part. I wouldn't say to exclusively stick to them though - I think it's important to give yourself a bit of a break every now and then and stay in a fancier hotel to give yourself a bit of a rest. For us, we scheduled these roughly every six days or so and tried to coincide them with the more appropriate cities as well. Do your research though when it comes to finding places to stay - for example, in San Francisco you're unlikely to find an affordable property that will let you keep your car there so be prepared to stay further out.

  I would recommend booking in advance for the most part. I know sometimes it's fun to see where you end up, but this can also end up ruining parts of your holiday. For example, national parks book up REALLY early. Anywhere remotely near a national park isn't much further behind it. Prices for these can shoot up closer to the time as they know you've got no choice, so I'd recommend booking early if you can.

006. On the go!
  Work out a basic itinerary before you go for what you're going to do in location - but don't be afraid to abandon it entirely if it isn't working for you. We wrote out a chart for each day which listed the things we expected to be interested in, but not necessarily in any sort of order. For example, in Zion we knew what hikes we wanted to do while we were there but worked it out when we were actually there which order we felt like doing them in.

  When it comes to food - it's up to you! Obviously cities like San Francisco will offer you heaps of blog articles suggesting places you should go, and if food is important to you then of course I'd recommend taking a look at these and making note of some of your preferences. For the most part, we wrote down some of the top tripadvisor suggestions but rarely actually stuck to them. We liked exploring the area and seeing what we came across ourselves - and if nothing was jumping out at us or we weren't sure, we'd then start looking through the ones that tripadvisor had recommended. And, admittedly, more often than not we just ended up eating at Denny's...!

  Make sure you take plenty of snacks with you as well! I'd always recommend starting off at a Walmart and buying oversized bags of pretzels or whatever else to keep you going. Of course buy lots of water, and if you're going during a hot period of time make sure you stick some in the freezer so that they can stay cool throughout the day.

  When it comes to music - up to you! I like listening to the local radio stations as it gives me a good feel for the area. This backfired a few times as at one point we had about two hours with nothing but religious channels and around the Grand Canyon we had nothing about an information channel for hours. We also had a backup playlist with good driving music on it that we could revert to in these times!

What are your road trip planning tips?


Monday, 17 July 2017

The 5 Travel Destinations That Disappointed Me The Most

I've spent a lot of time posting about the trips that I loved and my favourite experiences whilst travelling - so I figured wasn't it about time that I included a post on the places I visited that weren't quite so great?

If you live in one of these locations or love them yourself, please don't be offended - it's just my opinion, and obviously is based on whatever was going on at the time I happened to be visiting!

001. The Grand Canyon
Number one on my most disappointing list is probably not a surprise to anyone who has read this blog for any time at all - I really, really didn't enjoy my trip to the grand canyon. It was fine. It was really just sort of okay. We spent hours walking around it and our opinion didn't really improve, we found the whole experience a bit boring - but we did get some cool photos of us sitting over the edge of the tops which I thought looked pretty good, so there's that. I would have regretted not going when we were already in the area - but I definitely wouldn't mind if I didn't see it again! Read my full review here.

002. Nairobi
I enjoyed a lot of the places that I visited in Africa, but Nairobi was not one of them. Kenya as a whole was probably my joint least favourite country in the region (tied with Zambia, if you're wondering) and I just didn't have a good time there. People weren't very friendly and it had an off atmosphere. And it was well expensive.

003. Toronto
When I did a road trip across Canada, Toronto was probably the place that I looked forward to the most - however, I left feeling very meh about the whole experience. I felt like it was really just a city, and I didn't feel a great deal of personality coming from it. People were pleasant and there were of course some nice areas, but it just didn't stand out and I felt like it didn't have as much to offer as the other parts of Canada that I visited. This could have been my fault for having too high expectations for it though!

004. Blackpool
I need to preface this by saying that I very much visited Blackpool out of season, and the experience is probably completely different if you go in the summery months. I enjoyed Blackpool Pleasure Beach, painful as the rides may be - but the overall experience left me feeling a bit sad for the area. Again it doesn't help that it was off season so the majority of the restaurants and hotels that we passed were closed which probably contributed to the place feeling a little bit abandoned, but the whole atmosphere was just off. We found people weren't very friendly there which was a direct contrast to how friendly everyone else was in the surrounding areas. I'd like to go back and give it another chance, though.

005. The Galapagos Islands
I think this is probably my most controversial addition on this post, as the Islands are somewhere that so many people want to visit and pretty much everyone returns in love with. But, I just didn't think they were all that. Of course, the giant turtles are interesting. The blue footed boobies are adorable. And some of the landscapes truly are amazing. But, I just didn't think it was all that. It was insanely expensive, even day trips were costing a small fortune just to spent about two hours on another island or another area, and you have no freedom whatsoever whilst you're there. Now, don't get me wrong. I completely get that the Galapagos Islands are a national park, and that there are very good reasons for why you're so restricted. However, I found it made for quite a boring trip, especially when it costs so so so so SO much money to go there.

What were your most disappointing travel experiences?

Friday, 14 July 2017

July's Blog Spotlight Post

It seems that June & July have been a return to the kind of blog posts that I enjoy the most - those personal lifestyle posts that tell you something interesting about the person writing them and give you something to think about. It's also been a return of beauty posts that I've been enjoying - it looks like there's a lot of great products coming out soon and a lot of good advice to be had in the meantime! As such, I'm pleased to say this months' blog spotlight post is much bigger than normal with a grand total of 20 posts that I'm recommending you read this month!

So let's take a look...

001. Jess posted all about her first time on a cruise ship. I've mentioned this before but I find these sorts of posts really interesting as it's something I've been thinking about myself for a long time but am still not entirely certain that I'll enjoy. I enjoy reading these sorts of posts to get a feel for how the experience will be! The above photo is taken from Jess's post.

002. Leah wrote a very helpful post, all about working out where your blog traffic is coming from!

003. Sofie posted all about blogging on a budget.

004. Holly posted about the fact that she's a half-arsed blogger - and why that's okay!

005. And on a similar note, Rebecca posted about the fact that she's NOT  a #girlboss - and why that's okay too!

006. Zohra took a trip to the zoo after hours - something I have been intending to do for literally years but for some reason never actually get around to!

007. Chloe posted her review about the Urban Decay Naked Heat palette. And dammit, I now NEED this palette as a result of this post!

008. Tenneil posted all about how her relationship with beauty has changed.

009. Another from Chloe - this time a guide to how to use your beauty blender!

010. Jordan went to Thorpe Park, and took some absolutely gorgeous photos!

011. Angie went to Santorini - and it looks beautiful! The above photo is taken from her post.

012. Trona posted all about what women over 35 should be wearing.

013. Another from Rebecca - this time all about how to stay true to the blogging world when you no longer feel like you fit in with it.

014. And on the opposite side of the world, Milly went to Alabama!

015. Rachel wrote a post all about why she gave up on modelling.

016. Another from Angie - this time visiting the secret garden within the Four Seasons.

017. Meanwhile, Carrie went to Vegas and took a look around some motels!

018. Rhianna posted a guide as to how much you should be charging for your sponsored content.

019. Yet another one from Chloe - this time looking at media packs!

020. And finally this month, a post from Amber - looking at pregnancy, body image and loss of identity.

Monday, 10 July 2017

A Floral Afternoon Tea at Mews of Mayfair

Before we get started, I need to admit something to you. I've done that bad blogger thing where I'm showing you a wonderful afternoon tea that, uh, you can't actually get anymore. This afternoon tea is Mews of Mayfair's Chelsea Flower Show afternoon tea which, unsurprisingly, only ran for a short amount of time and stopped shortly after the event. However, I imagine the quality of the normal tea is not dramatically different, so I decided to pop up a post about it anyway as it'll probably still come in handy if you're looking for a good place to visit for your tea.

 Me and Chris really enjoy going for afternoon tea, but it's quite hard to find one that appeals to us both. We both like themed teas, but at the same time we don't want to spend too much. There are lots of beautiful afternoon teas on offer at the moment but we're still talking £60+, which isn't really what we want to be paying when we're essentially going somewhere on a bit of a whim! Mews of Mayfair interested us, and they had this lovely looking floral tea - and even better, it was on offer! And so we decided to give it a go.

 Despite it being around 2pm on a week day, all of the outdoor seats were taken already which was a bit of a shame as the outside courtyard looked lovely - ruined only by one group of girls who were smoking pretty consistently. I could see it constantly flying into the faces of the other people dining outside and it just looked a bit gross, but never mind.

  We were seated inside, pretty much on our own. Which was a bit awkward, as it looked like we'd been sort of shoved out of the way. The interior is very dark and reminded me very much of if you were to visit the house of a grandparent in how it was styled. I read a lot of negative reviews stating that the inside was really dingy, but we both actually really liked it - though perhaps we would not have liked it so much if it hadn't been such a sunny day!

 First up, the sandwiches. There were a good mix, as you'd expect. Of course, as they so often are, the salmon offering was my favourite!

 But, more important than the sandwiches are the scones - and these were delicious! The jam was lovely and the scones were nice and hot.

 And now the bit that anyone actually cares about when booking a tea - the desserts! We'd chosen them because we were interested in the flowery offerings - but then these actually became a bit of a conflict as we were unsure as to whether or not the flowers were edible or not! When we thought about it, we realised that of course they must be - but we were still really worried we'd eat them and then at the end of the meal have someone appear, horrified with our behaviour. The desserts were great and offered a great mix. We enjoyed all of them and they really were very pretty - however, the cupcakes caused us a lot of issues! For some reason, those cupcakes were ridiculously filling and so rich. We really struggled to eat them! We promised ourselves we would never be defeated by an afternoon tea and so we were absolutely going to eat the entire thing - but man, did we take a long time trying to get through those cupcakes.

 As well as enjoying the food and the decor, the service was for the most part really good. For the majority of our meal we had a really attentive server who would check back in with us, which was nice as we already felt a bit excluded being the only ones indoors. However, after that point I believe he either went home or went on a break as we didn't see him again for the rest of the meal and were promptly ignored. I don't think another server even looked at us the rest of the time we were there let alone come by to fill anything up for us (even the water!) and getting the bill was a bit awkward. It was a shame as the service for the first half had been so good, and we did feel awkward for the last bit.

 Overall, we really enjoyed our afternoon tea here. We've both said we would definitely return - especially if we are able to get another deal on another themed option! We watched a lot of regular lunches were walked past us and they looked amazing as well so we'd like to give those a try one time.

You can book your afternoon tea (or any other meal - the other food did look REALLY good!) through their website, here.

Monday, 3 July 2017

A Trip to Copenhagen - Part 2

 Time for the second half of my Copenhagen trip - and for the most part, this post is going to be a bit more picture heavy than the first one as the second half was largely spent relaxing and taking in just how pretty Copenhagen is. And this time with the added bonus of the sun being out - although it was still generally too cold to get away with taking off the cardigan!

  Part two starts with a walk to find the famous little mermaid statue - with a couple of detours along the way!

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