Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Liebster Award TAG

I've been a bit quiet on the blog-front for the past couple of weeks. I've been pretty busy: working full-time (knackered at the end of every day!), practicing songs, travelling to Leeds for opera rehearsals, arranging my best friend's Hen night, arranging my move to London... I've basically got a lot on! So, as I don't have oodles of time, I thought I would do this Liebster Award Tag. I love finding new blogs that I really like so want to support them, as obviously I'm new myself, so I think this is a great idea!

This is how it works:
1. Answer 11 questions from the person who had nominated you.
2. Tell 11 random spontaneous facts about yourself.
3. Tag 11 blogs that have under 200 followers and ask them 11 questions.

The lovely Becky at Beauty to Bakes (definitely check out her blog - it's great!) tagged me to answer these 11 questions:

1. Do you wear glasses, contacts or none of these?
Yep, I wear both. It will depend on what kind of mood I'm in, how I've done my hair/make-up, whether it's raining or not (glasses in the rain is a pain) and if I'm at rehearsals or performing I always wear contacts. I got some new glasses in February which I posted about here and still totally love!

2.What are your favourite types of blog posts?
Ones that are personal with good photos and good English! (One thing that really annoys me is bad grammar and punctuation.)

3. What is your favourite perfume?
I have a few which I think I'll write a post on soon, but my top two would have to be Armani Diamonds and Beyoncé Heat.

4. What is your beauty bargain?
Everything from Poundland which I mentioned in my last post! Haha. In general though, I think probably Collection Lasting Perfection Concealor. Completely on board with everyone else in Blogland who loves it!

5. What app do you use the most on your phone/ipad?
Candy Crush... (I know. Lame.)

6. Who is your favourite YouTuber?
Zoella. She's funny, friendly, not annoying and always seems to look perfect (so when she says "this is a really good product", I actually believe her!).

7. What is your favourite cereal?
Kellogs Raisin Wheats!

8. Where is the place you most want to visit in the world that you haven't been before? Why?
I want to visit the US soooo much. I've wanted to for years and years. I don't even have a particular state or city in mind, I just want to be there. And Italy.

9. If you were given a gift card for £100 pounds to spend in one store, which one would you choose?
At the moment probably a book store as there are some expensive books I need to get hold of for the course I'm starting in August. But if I didn't need to do that, probably somewhere that sells MAC. I don't even know where that would be... House of Fraser? I don't have anything by MAC yet (if you hadn't guessed!) but I've heard and read so much about how amazing its products are that I'd like to get me some.

10. What is your mobile phone make?
HTC Desire. It's not amazing. If I could have made a better-informed (going on what I know now, from using it) decision then I wouldn't have picked it.

11. What is your best day of the week? Why?
Saturday, because my whole family is home, and... it is Doctor Who and Strictly Come Dancing night! (So sad...)

11 facts about me!
I'm sorry but I'm going to have to cheat on this part and direct you to my 50 Things About Me that I posted a few weeks ago, as I literally can't think of any other facts about me! Seems just like a cop-out I know, so if you have anything you want to know, just ask!! :)

I tag:

And I'd like you to answer these 11 questions! :)

1. What made you want to become a blogger?
2. Shoes or handbags?
3. If there's anything you could change about your life right now, what would it be? (Ooh, deep!)
4. Where would be your perfect place to live?
5. If you could have any super power, what would it be?
6. Who is/are the most important person/people in your life other than family?
7. What's your favourite film?
8. How often do you listen to music?
9. Do you drive? If so, what do you drive?
10. If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be?
11. What is your proudest (but not necessarily your biggest!) achievement?

Hope you've enjoyed reading!


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Bargain Beauty Haul!

I probably won't be doing many haul posts on here as I have to be frugal and save as much money as possible. So as I have got a lot of bargain buys over the past few weeks, I thought I would use this opportunity to write my first one! Everything I bought was on offer or from a bargain store. I've used a few items so far, so I'll tell you what I think of them so far!


Original Source Pure Lime Shower Gel £2.30 £1.15
Barry M Retractable Eyeliner Gold £3.99 £1.00
Clean & Clear Blackhead Clearing Cleanser £3.50 each 2 for £5.00
Rimmel Cocktail Colour in a Flash Nail Polish “120 Shirley Temple” (£3.99)
Rimmel 60 Seconds Nail Polish “320 Rapid Ruby” (£3.69)                                     } 3 for 2
Rimmel I Love Lasting Finish Nail Polish “080 Black Cab” (£2.99)
Models Own Scented Nail Polish “149 Banana Split” (£5.00)
Models Own “106 Gold Rush” (£5.00)                                                                  } 3 for 2
Models Own Neon “155 Pink Punch” (£5.00)
Simple Regeneration Age Resisting Cleansing Wipes (£3.99)
Simple Regeneration Age Resisting Night Cream (£5.99)                                      } 3 for 2
Simple Regeneration Age Resisting Eye Cream (£6.99)
Seventeen Lip Crayon “Superstar” (£4.99)
Seventeen Lip Crayon “Bold” (£4.99)                                                                   } 3 for 2
Seventeen Off the Wall Graffiti Nail Effects Nail Polish “Monochrome” (£3.99)
This pic doesn't really give an accurate
idea of how bright Pink Punch is, but I
thought I'd include it all the same! (Plus
I'm wearing shine top coat here, whereas
the polish itself is matte)

Boots is great for the 3 for 2 offers they have most of the time, so it's hard to resist making use of them!
Finally I've got my hands on the Models Own Banana Split, and I love it! It smells a bit like those foam banana sweets you can get and it has lasted for 4 days without chipping, so it has a great formula!
Plus, I've just tried the Neon Pink Punch and it looks awesome: like you've used a super thick highlighter on your nails!
I usually really like the Simple Cleansing Wipes, but I am not impressed with the Age Resisting wipes at all: they are dry (even after adding water?! Plus, I store them upside down so they top wipe is always the most moist); they drag on the skin and are just generally very uncomfortable to use and ineffective.
I love love love the Seventeen Lip Crayons. They are both really pigmented but are very moisturising so just feel like lip balm. A really nice change to the bright matte lipsticks I've been wearing a lot recently. Superstar is a beautiful nude colour with a slight shimmer and Bold  is a fairly bright orange (which can add just a hint of colour to your lips with a thin layer, or a bright statement when built up!). 


Along Came Betty:
Hands that do Wishes Hand Lotion £2.49 £1.25
Say you Scrub Me Skin Buffer £3.99 £2.00
Pore.fectly Clean Skin Cleansing Kit £5.99 £1.99
Shone G’One Skin Tone Corrector £4.49 £2.25
Forget Your Lines Anti-Wrinkle Filler £5.49 £2.25
The Night Shift Night Cream £5.99 £3.00

I was browsing the aisles of Tesco and came across the Along Came Betty range. I got the eye-liner pen in March and am fairly impressed, so as the skincare was half price or better, I got some to try out! The packaging is great (if ripping off of Soap & Glory a bit) and I've read some good reviews so looking forward to using these!


(In case you haven't cottoned on yet; everything in this list is £1!)

Radox Bath Smoothies “Spirit Booster” Bath Soak
Get Fresh Naked Minty Menthol Body Wash
Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner “038 Allure”
Revlon Nail Enamel “610 Charismatic”
Revlon Nail Enamel “281 Classy”
Stila Angel Light Whitening Powder Foundation Refill (x 2) “Shade A”
Revlon Matte Eyeshadow “008 Aubergine”
Revlon Matte Eyeshadow “009 Rich Sable”

The Naked body wash is lovely; really fresh and great for waking you up in the morning!
I've already written about how much I looove the Revlon Charismatic nail polish here.
The Stila powder is fab! I use it for extra coverage over my Rimmel Wake Me Up foundation, and although I don't find it “whitening” or anything (like it says on the box), it leaves a lovely flawless look. (I recently got my sister to pick up more of these for me to stock up on!)

So that's my haul, hope you liked it! Definitely going to enjoy trying out the rest of my purchases!


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Cheat's Easy-Peasy Banoffee Pie

My wonderful work colleague Ellen has brought in her amazing banoffee pie to work twice now, so I – with my ridiculously sweet tooth – asked her how on earth she made such a masterpiece, and I could not believe how easy it actually is. Maybe every banoffee pie is just as easy and I am just late on in realising, but in any case I wanted to share the 'secret' with you! It's so easy, I drafted my niece, Aria, in to do most of the legwork! ;) (N.B. I'm afraid that if you're on a diet, this recipe is definitely not for you! Sorry!!)

You will need:
1 ready-made pastry flan case
2 bananas
Nestlé Carnation Caramel (397g tin)
Double cream (approx. 300ml)
2 tbs icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Cadury’s Crunchies (optional)

^ + vanilla essence (but you can't see it in the pic) ^

As you can probably guess, it is really rich, but in a way that's a good thing as then you can only have a small slice at a time! Let me know if you try it or have made something similar before. And if you have any other suggestions for things that Aria and I can make together, do let me know!


Monday, 13 May 2013

The Perfect Summer Nail Colour

I have found the perfect summer nail polish all for the extravagant price of... £1!

That's right, I picked up this gem in Poundland of all places (who knew they actually have a make-up section?!), and it was love at first sight. I have been liking orange a lot over the past few years, so I do love me a good coral, and this is no exception. I already have some matte coral polishes (not matte as in "not shiny", but matte as in "not shimmery" - e.g. Rimmel 60 seconds, Barry M Gelly nails, etc), but Revlon 610 Charismatic Nail Enamel is a beautiful pearlescent coral. I am wearing 2 coats in the picture, along with a top coat of Sally Hansen Mega Shine:

Revlon 610 Charismatic, £1 from Poundland!

This polish applies beautifully, it's non-streaky and it dries fairly quickly too. It's one of these polishes that makes your hands (and feet!) look really nice (if you know what I mean). Coral compliments all skin tones, and as it is sophisticated and non-garish, I can wear it for formal as well as informal. I can't believe I managed to pick it up for the bargain price of £1. Love it.


Friday, 10 May 2013


My sister brought to my attention that, for someone whose life has pretty much evolved around music (and considering I have been blogging since mid-February), I haven't yet included any music-based posts in my blog. So I thought I would write this post entirely dedicated to music! Woohoo! The simplest thing I thought I would do is to just write about all the different kinds of music I like and anything in my life which relates to each genre. So you’ll find out a bit more about me and hopefully from this you might find some new music to enjoy!

Let's get started! In no particular order…

Me as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro  (with Figaro)
I've always liked Classical music: mainly my dad's influence. I eventually made the decision to study it – with voice (soprano) as my 'instrument' – so I auditioned and subsequently attended Leeds College of Music. I came out with a First, so obviously it was a good choice! So a lot of my professional experience over the past few years has predominantly been in opera. I am now looking into a much wider field of performance, but I have really enjoyed the opera work I have done. The most prominent part I have played was Susanna in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, a role I reprised twice. I loved this role, as she is feisty, passionate, clever, knowing, sensitive… The list goes on, so a very complex role to play! She was great. I also like some chamber music like Ravel’s String Quartet in F; baroque pieces like Bach's Concerto for 4 Harpsichords, and much bigger concerti and orchestral music. I think what I love so much about Classical music is that it can be so emotive, and I find I can revisit a piece over and over again, and I won’t get bored of it (like I often do with other genres). In terms of my favourite Classical music on the whole, my favourite pieces at the moment are the Finale from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2 (especially the first movement!) - I played timpani in a performance of the latter once.

1st Mvt. of the Shostakovich with Kirill Gerstein on piano and Charles Dutoit conducting the NHK Symphony Orchestra.

So many sub-genres come under this, but basically:
A) Cheesy Pop: I love listening to the pop music of 'my generation', as in Spice Girls, S Club 7, old-school Britney, 5ive, etc. It brings back warm and fuzzy feelings, and it's amazing how many of the words I remember! Plus, when I was little I wanted to be a pop singer and wrote something like 80 songs, so it makes me think of that too. And I do like a lot of the current pop stuff, but not all. I might happen to like one song by an artist, but not the next. For example, I don't like most Justin Bieber songs, but I do like As Long as You Love Me, and I like most Girls Aloud songs, but not all of them.
B) R&B. I am a massive Beyoncé fan. I think she is an amazing performer and such a great live singer. So she makes up most of the R&B music that I like, but there are occasional others. It's very hit or miss.
C) Pop-Rock: Again, a big fan of McFly. Their songs are cleverly written, catchy and (I think) quite like the stuff I write. I still write songs now, much more advanced than they were when I was little(!), so they have been a big inspiration. Plus a bit of Avril Lavigne is good.

Opening number of Beyoncé's 2011 I Am... World Tour.

Again, rock covers so many sub-genres, but to be honest I can probably listen to anything other than screamo or black/death metal and similar genres. I think the easiest thing to do is list who I like: Paramore, 30 Seconds to Mars, some Metallica (S&M album mainly), some My Chemical Romance, Muse, some Linkin Park, prog-rock like Queen and Focus and occasional songs by the likes of Devin Townsend Project and Evanescense. In the last few months of my last year at school I was actually in a band (so… 7 years ago now!). We were called Group Therapy and we recorded 3 songs, which we sold to fellow school kids at our gigs. The best way to describe our genre is soft rock probably? Anyway, there is still actually a Group Therapy MySpace page, which hasn't been touched in years, but you can have a listen there if you really want to! My favourite of our songs is Tabula Rasa.

Hocus Pocus by Focus.

Big Band (or Trad.) Jazz
I’m not a great fan of 'jazz-jazz'. I knew a few jazzers whilst at uni, and even though I appreciate how hard it is and just how much you're meant to know and understand, I can't listen to much of it without getting seriously bored (sorry!). But I do like a good dose of big band: songs like Chattanooga Choo Choo, and 'kind-of' big band songs like Feeling Good and Tom Jones' Leave Your Hat On!

The Glenn Miller Orchestra with Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Musical Theatre and Disney
I’m a big Musical Theatre fan. Even in this genre, there are lots of different styles. There is very little MT music that I don't like, but of course there is some that I like more than others. To name a few musicals I like: Phantom of the Opera (Andrew Lloyd Webber); West Side Story (Bernstein) – I especially love the song Cool at the moment (quite big band too); Guys and Dolls (Loesser); Wicked (Schwartz); Grease (of course!); Les Miserables (Schoenberg); Sweeney Todd (Sondheim); Calamity Jane (Fain?)… There are too many to name. I've had some performance experience in musicals (Miss Hannigan in Annie, Johanna in Sweeney Todd, Good Fairy in Ruby and the 13th Door), and I love performing it. It's a different kind of enjoyment to opera. With opera, I feel a sense of achievement when I've acted well while managing to maintain good voice throughout, but Musical Theatre comes a lot more naturally and I can just throw myself into it and just have a great time. (My life is pretty much a musical too as I burst into song so much.)

Cool from West Side Story.

I've put Disney in this section too as I think it should come under Musical Theatre. Alan Menken has written some amazing music for Disney. The most recent addition to My Favourite Disney Movies is Tangled (which I posted about here) in which Menken has surpassed himself. The music is so, so good. And to finish I can't forget Disney's High School Musical! I have all 3 on DVD and I'm not ashamed of it. Cheese to the max.

I See the Light from Tangled.

So these are my favourite genres of music. I do like bits and pieces of others (Drum and Bass, Dubstep, Dance (though rarely), Indie, Rap, etc) but not enough to write anything about. Plus of course there are cross-overs I like, like Michael Buble, Katherine Jenkins, etc. To be honest, I usually just put my iTunes on shuffle, so there's always a variation. What kind of music do you like? Can you recommend any artists/groups or other genres you think I might like? Let me know in a comment! J


Monday, 6 May 2013

Things I am Loving at the Moment: May

I am loving 5 things this month; beauty and TV-based.

Maybelline 24-Hour Tattoo Eyeshadow

top-right: thin layer for subtle look
bottom-left: built-up for more dramatic look
bottom-right: finished look
(ignore my eyebrows - I'm sorting them out tonight!)
I bought this eyeshadow at the start of April and have used it almost every day since. I chose shade no. 35 – On and on Bronze, as I like the contrast of brown tones against my blue eyes (although I don't think this shade has enough copper in it to really be described as bronze, so I'd say it is more like a dark gold). I usually end up rushing my make-up before leaving for work (I seem to be in denial about how long it takes me to do!) but I know that I don't need to worry about spending tonnes of time on this. I literally use my pinky finger to apply it and it goes on a treat: it applies evenly, it blends well and it lasts all day! I often use it as a base and then put powder-shadow on top or in my crease and outer corner (it seems to do the job of an eyelid primer too), but it is also buildable so works really well alone as a beautiful bronze-gold shimmer shadow.

Soap & Glory Hand Food

I don't really like my hands, and the crazy long Winter this year made my hands really dry, the skin on my knuckles hard and chapped, and the already ragged skin around my nails even worse. So I went on the search for a good hand moisturiser which wasn't out of my price range and also smelled nice (so I would be motivated to actually keep on using it)! I hadn't really used much by Soap & Glory in the past, but having read lots of blogs and so many great reviews about its products, I had a browse in Boots one day and came across the HandFood; I fell in love with its scent and, as it was 3 for 2 on S&G products, I got my suffering hands some treatment! It describes itself as "non-greasy hydrating hand cream with shea butter, macadamia oil and marshmallow". I have been using this a few times a day for about 2 and-a-half weeks now and I love it. It smells so gorgeous – fresh, a little bit citrusy, sweet but not sickly – it absorbs well and it makes my skin feel so soft. The patches of hard skin on my knuckles have almost "dissolved" (if that doesn't sound too gross), and the skin around my nails is much better. I reckon that a couple more weeks' use and the skin around my nails will be completely healed!
Hands = happy.

Boots Skin Clear Shine Blotting Papers (Oil-Absorbing Sheets)

I have oily skin. It's annoying. And as my current job involves walking through hot areas on site several times a day, my natural oiliness and some lovely sweat can build up to make me look super shiny and my skin feel horrible and cakey (mixed with my make-up). These papers are really handy to take off any excess oil and blot my skin before my make-up gets caked. Unlike with mattefying powder, as I am not putting more stuff onto my skin, the matte effect that is left after using these is long-lasting so I usually only need to use one a day, often just after lunch. The only thing I would say to improve the papers would be to make them a bit bigger to allow for really bad days, but the size is fine for average shininess. So if you have oily skin, I can't recommend these enough.

Jenna Louise Coleman as the Doctor's companion

I am a Whovian, i.e. I love Doctor Who, and I was a big fan of Rory and Amy Pond Williams, the Doctor’s companion-duo in the last series. When it came to their exit from the show, despite my tears I was intrigued to find out how 'new girl' Jenna Louise Coleman would fare as the new companion. And having watched the first few episodes of the new series, I am really impressed. She's great! Oozing with personality, Coleman portrays the paradoxically self-assured yet insecure Clara Oswald so well, and I find myself enjoying the episodes which evolve around her more than the ones which don't (which is surprising considering how much I love Matt Smith's Doctor). I am really impressed with her character-story so far ("the girl who is not possible") and look forward to seeing how it will develop, as well as her feisty influence in the individual episodes' plots.

I enjoyed ITV's Inspector Morse all those years ago, so I have been watching the series Endeavour with my mum, which is basically Morse: the Early Years (Endeavour is Morse's first name for anyone who doesn't know). And even though I've only seen a few episodes, I'm really enjoying it. Shaun Evans does a great job as the young Morse and the storylines so far have been great. Plus, the frequent excerpts of classical music (of which Morse is a big fan) throughout each episode is lovely. If you've not seen it yet, I definitely recommend it.

So those are my current favourites. What are yours? Do you agree with any of mine? Let me know down below!


Friday, 3 May 2013

Hello Yellow!

Anyone remember the primary school skipping-rope tune "Cinderella, dressed in yella, went upstairs to meet a fella: how many kisses did she get? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…"? Maybe it was just my school…

Anyway, although when I was little I was actually scared of the colour yellow and I refused to say the word or even recognise it, I have since gotten over this and recently recalling this questionably age-appropriate song inspired me to write this post all about yellow! Yellow is the colour of Spring and Summer and sunshine and daffodils and happiness!

In the past I've had mixed opinions when it comes to incorporating yellow into fashion/beauty-wear, but I've opened my eyes and now think that wearing yellow will help to make me (and maybe others) feel happy and positive! Don't get me wrong, I’m not completely sold on all yellow: I hate mustard for example, and yellow and brown in an outfit just don't work together without looking like a banana.

However, I've done some internet window shopping and have come up with a 'yellow wishlist':

1. I love the sweetheart neckline, classic fitted style and length of this Hybrid dress. Stunning.
2. This Ted Baker bag is so cute, it could brighten up the dullest of outfits!
3. Although this Motel dress would be far too short for me, I love the neckline and over-the-shoulder style seamlessly falling into the skater-style skirt. If only it were a bit longer!
4. These low top trainers by Dorotennis would look cute with a casual yellow dress or turned up jeans.
5. This dress from Ted Baker is very simple and I think would work dressed up or down.
6. Love this simple collarless blazer by Vila.
7. Love Banana Split by Models Own, and I think the fact it's scented is awesome!
8. I think floral hairclips can make any outfit very pretty and girly and this Johnny Loves Rosie clip is no exception. It'd be great to add a little extra detail to a simple outfit.

I've recently found that I do also love a good yellow evening gown. This probably stems from Beauty and the Beast (of course!), although I have found some modern alternatives:

(left) Jennifer Love-Hewitt looks beautiful in this simple Max Azria gown for the 2009 Emmy Awards.

(right) Blake Lively equally pulls off this gorgeous Gucci dress at the New York premier of Savages last year.

I think the key with gowns - and indeed most yellow outfits - is simplicity. However, I think Katherine Jenkins' recital dress at the Classical Brits a few years back in her performance of Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen is stunning, even with the extra detailing at the neckline and gathering around the waist and skirt of the dress:

Anyway, I hope you find some of these pieces inspiring. If you have any of them, let me know if they're as lovely in real life as they look in the pics! Hope Spring is putting a spring in your step and you all have a happy May!


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Kids say the Funniest Things

For anyone who has children or young relatives, or works with kids a lot, you have probably heard some amazing quotes which stay with you for life. Children are so innocent and honest, some of the things they say can be ridiculously funny! Since my niece Aria was born, I've lived lived with my parents on and off (the few years before uni, then during uni holidays, then when I come home to work). My sister, Louise, and Aria (who is now 8 years old) live with them, and over the years, Aria has come out with some legendary quotes.

Inspired by this hilarious article published by the Metro on Saturday http://metro.co.uk/2013/04/27/top-10-creepiest-things-children-have-said-to-their-parents-according-to-reddit-users-3668874/ (also, do read some of the comments below the article too - also very funny), I thought I would write a mini-post on some of the things Aria has said that have stuck with me. Most of these are not creepy like the ones in the article, but were seriously funny at the time! There are probably many more, but these are the ones I remember:

When she was much younger, learning the well-known kids' Christmas song...:
Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way, Old McDonald had a farm in a one horse open sleigh!

Singing along with Beyoncé whilst her music video was on TV:
If I were a boy, I would be the police.

In conversation with her mother:
Louise: (bashing her hand off something) Argh, I broke my wrist!
Aria: Aw I get that sometimes.

Literally the other night when I was putting her to bed (she always takes her jammies off as she gets too hot during the night):
Me: (shivering in 3 layers) Aren't you freezing?! I'm so cold!
Aria: Oh no, I’m so hot I wish I could take my skin off!

And I might as well include a quote of mine when I was a child. I started writing songs when I was about 8, and some of course were better than others... One of my favourite innocent lyric-failures is in a song called Fun House where I rap (that’s right, rap):
You’ve gotta use your strength to get the right length...
I wouldn't have been older than 10 at the time of writing.

I hope our quotes or the ones in the article made you laugh. I'm sure one day when I have my own kids there will be many more to add to the list!