Sunday Summary #40

30.9.12

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1.Tealights 2.E.L.F. Voodoo lipstick, review coming soon 3.Eye makeup 4.Pokemon! 5.New Twitter header and background

I can't believe it's Sunday again already, I haven't done anything particularly exciting this week but the time seems to have flown by. I've been getting back into the routine of university, even though I only have 3 classes a week I seem to have a never ending pile of reading to do so I've spent quite a lot of this week sitting in front of Microsoft Word attempting to take some notes. I'm really enjoying my course so far though, so I can put up with a bit of boring reading!

I went for a night out to the student union last night for the first time since I've become a postgraduate student. The union on a Saturday is always my favourite night out, I never have a bad time and you always run into people you know. I did feel a little bit old however, I can hardly believe it's been over four years since my first night out there as a 17-year-old! The union has had a bit of a makeover during the summer as well, so the fact I was wandering around proclaiming "it didn't look like this in my day!" didn't help me feel any younger haha.

I've managed to find some time to record a couple of new videos for my Youtube channel this week. Usually by the time I get home from uni or whatever I've been doing during the day at around 5 or 6 o'clock it's starting to get a bit dark already. Normally I quite like when it starts to get dark in the evenings, as you can snuggle up inside with some candles, a hot chocolate and watch TV, but when you're trying to record videos the lack of light can be a bit annoying! I managed to get myself organised though and filmed an E.L.F. haul (reviews of the products will be appearing soon on the blog!) and my first empties video. If you have any suggestions for videos you'd like me to do, then please let me know!

How has your week been?

Gillian x

Mixtape: September

27.9.12


September mixtape // via Spotify

I recently downloaded Spotify (I know, what have I been doing for the past five years?) and thought it would be fun to start doing monthly playlists to share some of the songs I love. Each month will feature a selection of songs that I have just discovered, have been listening to lots recently, or remind me of this time of year. I hope you enjoy these playlists and find some new bands to listen to!

September, for me, means the winding down of summer; dusky nights and sleepy mornings. Scarves are pulled out from the dark depths of chests of drawers and the air smells different before it rains. Everything is slow and a little bit sad, and there are always lots and lots of books. It always seems like it's late at night, even when it's not, and you're forever looking out for the moon. Leaves start to pile up in the nooks of fences and a mighty wind rattles all the decrepit tenement windowpanes, and a mug of hot chocolate solves everything.

Fleetwood Mac // Second Hand News
The Shins // September
Laura Marling // Blackberry Stone
Fun. // Some Nights
The Knife // Heartbeats
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins // Bats in the Attic
Claire Denamur // Video Games
Johnny Cash // The Man Comes Around
Foo Fighters // Hey, Johnny Park!
Elvis Perkins in Dearland // How's Forever Been Baby
Listen to "September" here.

What have you been listening to this month?

Gillian x

Review: Real Techniques Core Collection Brushes

25.9.12

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Real Techniques Core Collection // £21.99 at Boots

Unless you have been living under an actual rock for the past few months, I'm sure you'll have heard of the Real Techniques brushes. I had seen countless amazing reviews of the brushes on lots of blogs, but not really being a brush-loving kind of person, I swithered over whether or not to buy some for myself for ages. I finally gave in and bought some the last time I had a bit of a shopping spree in Boots, and they are amazing! I went for the Core Collection as I never really wear eyeshadow, so I thought this would be the best of the two 'starter sets' for me.

The brushes themselves seem to be great quality and do a fantastic job of applying makeup. The brushes are so soft and haven't really shed any bristles, even after quite a few washes. The set comes with a carry-case/stand which is actually quite good and would be useful for travelling, but I usually just store mine in a tub on my desk with the rest of my brushes. You can see more about my makeup storage in this post.

The Core Collection set contains a contour brush, a pointed foundation brush, a detailer brush, and a buffing brush. Of these, my most used one is definitely the buffing brush. It's great for applying foundation and helps to give really even, flawless coverage without being too heavy. I always used to use my fingers to apply foundation, but now I find myself reaching for the buffing brush instead most days. I don't use the pointed foundation brush as much as I prefer the buffed in (well obvs) look that the buffing brush gives, but compared to flat foundation brushes I've used in the past it is much better. It's a bit smaller than the majority of foundation brushes so is great for getting to difficult spots, like the corners of your nose or around your eyes. I also love the contour brush, it does exactly what it says on the tin and is great for defining cheekbones and applying bronzer. I'm not entirely sure what the detailer brush is supposed to be used for, but I find it's quite good for applying concealer as it's nice and small so is good for blending.

Twenty quid might not exactly seem super cheap, but I think it's great value as you're getting four very high quality brushes for around £5 each, which is excellent if you think most MAC brushes are between £20-30 each. I think I will be having a clear out of my brushes soon and throwing away all the cheapy horrible ones and replacing them with Real Techniques ones. The Core Collection is great as a starting point, and now I'd really like to add the Blush Brush and Setting Brush to my collection. Even though I don't wear eyeshadow very often, I'm tempted by the Starter Set too as the brow brush and eyeliner brush look like they would be really good.

What's your favourite Real Techniques brush?

Gillian x

Sunday Summary #39

23.9.12

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1.New notebooks 2.Leopard print collar 3.Strawberries & cream frappucino 4.Venison, rocket & beetroot salad 5.Wolf hat 6.Sunny mornings 7.Most triumphant! 8.Red velvet cupcakes 9.Kopparberg & fajitas 10.Cocktails

This week I have mostly been settling back into the university routine and getting sorted for all my classes. This semester I've got three classes, all of which seem pretty good so far. I also discovered that I won't have any exams this year which is very good news. I actually quite enjoy writing essays (well, I'm not sure if "enjoy" is the right word...) but I am terrible at exams so I'm glad to finally be free of them. That will mean, however, I'll have to make sure my essays are up to standard, so come late November I'll probably turn into a bit of a hermit! I don't want to jinx it, but so far my Masters seems like it's a bit easier and more laid back than 4th year was - although I probably won't be saying the same thing by the time the dissertation rolls around!

The cooker in the flat broke last week, but we got it fixed at the weekend so this week I've been taking full advantage. You might have seen my post earlier in the week with a recipe for red velvet cupcakes (so good, there's only 2 left now!), but I've also been making venison salad, baby portobello mushroom risotto, peri-peri chicken wraps and, a personal favourite of mine, fajitas. I love finding new recipes to try; one of my favourite websites to have a browse of is TasteSpotting. Have you tried any great recipes recently? Sometimes I feel like I get stuck in a bit of a rut and end up cooking the same thing every week, so it's nice to find some new things to add to my repertoire every so often.

We've got a flat inspection on Tuesday so I think I'll have to spend all day tomorrow cleaning the flat as it's a bit of a tip at the moment. I love my wee flat but it's severely lacking in storage space which means there is constantly stuff everywhere and it starts to look untidy really quickly. It looks so much nicer when everything is tidied away though, I really should make more of an effort to not just throw things on the floor! I might take some photos when it's clean and do a room tour/flat tour type post, if anyone would be interested?

What have you done this week?

Gillian x

Recipe: Red Velvet Cupcakes

21.9.12

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It's been a while since I've done any baking so a couple of days ago I decided to dig out my Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook and have a look for something new to try. I eventually settled on Red Velvet Cupcakes which I'd heard were notoriously difficult to get right, but this recipe was really easy to follow and the cakes turned out perfectly.

Ingredients:
For the cupcakes (approx 12):
60g butter
150g caster sugar
1 egg
10g cocoa powder
20ml artificial red food colouring (or gel colouring)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
120ml buttermilk (or normal milk)
150g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
For the icing:
300g icing sugar
50g butter
125g cream cheese









Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Once mixed, add the egg and beat until everything is incorporated.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract to make a paste. For best results, use an artificial food colouring which will remain bright red after cooking. The recipe suggested Dr Oetker but I didn't have this - instead I used some gel food colouring and a tiny bit of water to make the paste.
3. Add the paste to the large bowl and mix until the colour is evenly combined. Pour in half of the buttermilk and beat until everything is well incorporated (I didn't have buttermilk so just used normal semi-skimmed milk instead). Add in half the flour and mix well again. Repeat this process until all of the milk and flour has been added.
4. Turn your mixer to a high speed and beat for a couple of minutes until you have a smooth, even mixture. Turn the mixer down, and add the salt, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Beat until well mixed.
5. Spoon the mixture into paper cases and bake for around 25 minutes, then remove from the oven and leave to cool.
6. Meanwhile, make the cream cheese frosting by beating together the icing sugar and butter until the mixture comes together. Then add the cream cheese and beat until well mixed, light and fluffy.
7. Top the cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting and decorate with sprinkles or whatever you like!

The cakes themselves were really easy to make, the only thing I was worried about was that they wouldn't stay red after baking. I think I added a bit more food colouring than I actually needed to, but they did stay nice and bright so it doesn't really matter! From what I've read, you need to use an artificial colouring as natural colourings will just turn brown once the cake is baking. I would definitely make these again, the cake is really moist and a little bit chocolatey without being too sickly, and I LOVE cream cheese icing.

Have you tried making red velvet cupcakes before?

Gillian x

Outfit: Coral

18.9.12

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Blouse: Primark
Tunic (underneath): H&M
Leggings: New Look
Necklace: Dorothy Perkins
Ring: H&M
Shoes: New Look

I think I must be getting lazy in my old age (who am I kidding, I have ALWAYS been lazy) but the less effort I have to put in to getting ready for a night out, the better. Lots of people seem to say getting ready is the best part of a night out, but I'd have to disagree; I'd rather lounge on the sofa in my pyjamas, with a drink in hand, until 10 minutes before the taxi arrives. This is my favourite outfit of the moment for precisely that reason. What could be easier than throwing on leggings and a slouchy top? The addition of some gold jewellery and heels make it perfect for night time, but it's not overly fancy so would also be great for going out for dinner or to the pub.

I also love the bright coral colour of this chiffon blouse from Primark as it helps to steer me away from my bad habit of always wearing head to toe black. I wear it on top of a plain black vest top from H&M as the material is slightly see through. This vest top is probably the best £5 I've ever spent, I wear it literally all the time. It's just like a basic stretchy vest top, but is a bit longer than usual so is great for wearing with leggings. I can't see it on the H&M website just now, but I think it was part of their basic range so hopefully it should stick around for a while. Think I'll go back and buy a couple more just in case though!

Do you like getting ready or would you rather just point at yourself in the mirror and be done, Sabrina style?

Gillian x

Sunday Summary #38

16.9.12

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1.Footprints in the sand 2.Holidays 3.Favourite quote 4.New shoes 5.Ginger Pickle order 6.Cosy jumper weather

Things have been pretty quiet on the blog (and in general life) this week as I haven't been feeling well. Nothing too major, just a horrible cold that I can't seem to get rid of. I think I've managed to get "freshers flu" which is totally unfair as I haven't even been out once this whole week! A few of my friends were going out last night but I sensibly declined (how unlike me) as I didn't want to make myself even worse. They came round for predrinking and were busy making cocktails while I was snuggled up on the sofa with a hot water bottle and some cup-a-soup!

I dragged myself out of bed on Friday morning to go and sign up for my classes for this year. Most of the ones I wanted to do weren't running this year so I had to choose some others, but I'm quite happy with the ones I got in the end. I also managed to pick all afternoon classes, which is always a bonus! Throughout my undergraduate degree, one of the main deciding factors for choosing a course was what time the lectures were at. I also get to do an archival internship next semester as part of my Masters, so I'm really looking forward to finding out where I'll be going for that.

Aside from that, the only other thing of note that I've done this week is go to the cinema. My flatmate and I went to see Lawless, I didn't really know what it was about before we went, but I actually really enjoyed it. We got some 2 for 1 vouchers at the cinema so will probably go back again some time next week to use them up. Have you seen anything good at the cinema recently that you'd recommend?

And finally, a quick announcement about my blog design shop. Now that I'm back at university I unfortunately won't have time to continue taking new orders. If you would like your blog redesigned, please email me before the end of tomorrow (Monday) to let me know you are interested, and I will add you to the queue. All orders in the queue at the moment will be finished as soon as possible. I'm going to leave all the information up on my blog designs page as hopefully this will just be temporary, and I'll be able to open the shop again when I have more time. Thank you so much to everyone who has ordered something from me over the last few months, I honestly had no idea this many of you would be interested in my designs!

What have you been up to this week?

Gillian x

Oh, Caledonia

12.9.12

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Loch Morlich // paddling // by the loch // going swimming // wild raspberries // whisky bottle // midge candles // barbecue // Moss // pet cemetery // Meall a' Bhuachaille // heather // Cairngorms // in the woods

Last week I got the train up to Aviemore to spend a few days camping with my parents. It's probably not everyone's idea of a great summer holiday, but having spent my childhood visiting campsites the length and breadth of Scotland, I strangely enjoy the thought of donning my wellies and abandoning civilisation for a few days. We stayed at Glenmore campsite, right in the middle of the Cairngorms National Park, and spent the week reading books, taking the dog for walks and having barbecues. It was so nice to not be glued to my computer for a few days, and luckily the weather was pretty good so I got to spend most of my time lounging around outside.

It was also nice to spend some time with Moss, he's getting so big now even though he's still only a baby at a little over a year old. The first thing I'm going to do when I get a proper house with a garden is get myself a wee puppy pal! Moss used to be scared of the water but changed his mind for some reason this week and we couldn't keep him out of it; he'd go and stand with his feet in the water and wait for someone to throw a stick in for him. I did a little bit of paddling myself but the water was rather chilly for going in any deeper than the ankles - although in years past I've been swimming in the loch (not in September though!).

I took lots of photos (as you can probably tell) of the scenery but the one thing I didn't get a photo of was the stars. Sadly my camera wasn't powerful enough to capture the night sky, but it was AMAZING. Because it is so dark in the middle of nowhere, you could see every single star. Like, you could literally see the Milky Way. I love everything to do with stargazing and am pretty good at picking out the constellations, but because there were so many stars it started to get a bit difficult to recognize each individual constellation!

I had a lovely week filling up on barbecue food and drinking wine in the sunshine, but I'm definitely glad to be back in my own bed now!

Have you ever been to the Highlands? What's your favourite UK holiday destination?

Gillian x

Sunday Summary #37: Blog Love

9.9.12

So, if you follow me on Twitter you might have noticed me mention that I'm off on holiday to the Highlands for a few days at the moment. I haven't missed a single Sunday Summary so far this year, and I didn't want to let a little thing like having no internet stop me from posting this week. I've scheduled this post, so as you read this I'll probably be in a field, wearing wellies and walking the dog - yes, I do lead an extremely glamorous fashion blogger lifestyle, bet you're all jealous. But anyway, as this post is scheduled I won't be able to tell you about what I've been up to this week as it hasn't happened yet. Instead, I thought I would take the opportunity to share a few of my current favourite blogs with you. These are just a couple of my favourite reads, have a look at my Blogroll page for more.


Faiiint
I'm sure we're all aware of my love for black dresses by now, and Steph rocks an all-black outfit like no other. I love how she mixes different fabrics and textures to make a black outfit really stand out - I really need to take a leaf out of her book when getting dressed! As well as inspiring outfit posts, you can also find DIY, travel, art and inspiration posts, among others. Some of my favourite blog posts on Faiiint are Steph's own illustrations, how talented is she?! Plus she has the cutest dog ever, aw!



Always, Alyse
I have been following Alyse online more or less since I started my own blog around two years ago. Her blog covers everything from makeup to food to personal style. I love how Alyse's blog is a bit different to the typical beauty/fashion blog; her posts always seem very well thought out and reflective (although sometimes the gorgeous photography just makes me hungry!). Alyse is another talented artist, and I love seeing her latest sketches.



Uncia and Tigris
Uncia and Tigris is written by Clare Marie and contains posts on beauty, fashion, baking, photography and general lifestyle (I'm sensing a theme here - I like blogs which are a mishmash of everything!). I love Clare's simple but chatty style of writing her posts, and the photography is always really pretty. I especially love the photographs in this post, a bit mystical and magical and kind of spooky, right up my street! Also check out the Weekend Wanderings posts with links to lots of interesting articles and blog posts from around the internet.



The Brantastic Life
I first came across Paula's blog when I met her at a Scottish bloggers meet back in December. I can confirm she is just as lovely and chatty in real life as she is on her blog! Paula's blog mostly features outfit posts, as well as recent purchases, hair posts and life updates. As a fashion student (well, graduate now!) Paula has great style and manages to look much more fashionable than I ever will! Super jealous of her ability to pull off hats! Also rather jealous of her recent holiday posts too.



Sparkly Vodka
Caroline's is another blog which I've been following for a long time. Sparkly Vodka is a fashion and beauty blog containing lots of great outfit posts and makeup reviews. Some of my favourite posts are Caroline's monthly favourites which feature her recent favourite beauty products, as well as recommendations for tv shows, films, books etc. I also love her outfit posts and think we have quite similar style - although I'm not sure I could pull off a floral headband as well as she can!


I hope you enjoyed reading this post and found a couple of new blogs to follow! I'll be back home tomorrow so normal posting should resume next week.

What's your favourite blog at the moment?

Gillian x

Outfit: Leather Jacket

4.9.12

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Leather Jacket: French Connection*
Dress: Oasis (via Ebay)
Boots: Ebay


A couple of weeks ago an email popped into my inbox asking if I would like to review some of French Connection's new Autumn/Winter collection, and I was delighted when the Athena Jacket landed on my doormat a few days ago. I have been meaning to add a faux leather jacket to my wardrobe for forever but have just never quite got round to it. This jacket is absolutely gorgeous, I love the biker style and the quilted shoulders. The faux leather material feels lovely and soft but very durable, so I think it's definitely worth the money as it feels like a great quality piece of clothing. French Connection is a bit more expensive than the shops I normally buy from, but if you're going to be buying a classic, staple item like a coat or jacket which you'll wear every day then I think it's worth the investment.

The Athena Jacket has a lovely fitted shape and looks great with dresses and heels. I've paired it with my latest Ebay bargain here, an Oasis floral skater dress which I managed to win for around £5. Trawling through Ebay can be a bit boring, but it's definitely worth it when you find nice things for cheap! Unfortunately I forgot to take a close up of the rose print as I was too busy posing in my new leather jacket, pretending I'm much more badass than I actually am. The only downside to this jacket is that it is quite tight fitting so I don't think I'll be able to squeeze big woolly jumpers underneath it when winter arrives. Think I might use that as an excuse to buy another more slouchy leather jacket, and keep this as my going-out one. You can never have too many jackets, right?!

Where is your favourite leather jacket from?

Gillian x

Sunday Summary #36

2.9.12

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1.At the Scottish bloggers meet 2.French martini 3.Rain rain rain 4.Lazy weekends 5.Pizza 6.Angel Delight!

Can you believe this is the 36th week of Sunday Summaries? I know I've been saying for ages that I wish it was autumn, but I can't quite believe it's September already. I've done pretty much nothing all summer apart from watch all eight series of The Office and ignore all the other stuff I'm supposed to be doing. I think it's going to be a bit of a mad dash to get ready for going back to uni over the next couple of weeks! The university seems pretty disorganised too though, so whatevs. There's still no list of courses which are/aren't running for my Masters this year so I'm going to have to wait until freshers week to choose which courses I'm doing this year. As Lauren and I were discussing on Twitter last night, this is extremely traumatic as we don't know how many notebooks to buy. DISASTER. I'm going to go stationery shopping this week anyway, living dangerously.

There have been a couple of small blog-related changes this week - I've added a 'related posts' bit underneath each post and updated my blog designs page with a few new designs. I had been meaning to add the related posts thing for ages but never quite got round to it, but now it should be much easier for you to find old posts which you might have missed the first time around. I hope there's nothing too cringy hidden away in the archives! As for blog designs, I think I might have to stop doing them once I'm back at uni (depending on my workload etc.) so if you're thinking of getting your blog redesigned then send me an email soon! Hopefully I won't have to close up shop completely as I really enjoy doing it, but I might not be able to take on as many new designs any more. We'll see!

I got an email the other day from Ebay mentioning that they were doing free listings all week, from the 1st to the 9th of September. I've had bags of stuff waiting to be Ebayed (?) for ages but the effort of taking photos and writing descriptions of it all was a bit too much. But seeing as there are free listings, I thought I better get myself organised and so I now have lots of stuff ready to be uploaded this evening. I will tweet the link once it's all up, so remember to keep an eye on my Twitter if you're interested! Lots of stuff brand new with the tags still on, shame on me!

What have you been up to this week?

Gillian x