Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014: Year in Review

In true fashion, I've left the writing and posting of this post until the absolute last possible moment. 2014 has been a year very full of ....stuff. Good stuff, bad stuff, family stuff, job stuff, life stuff. It seems to have all been saved up for this year, and then all thrown down in a huge deluge all in one go. It's been mostly fun, I think, and it's largely left me with a sense of wanting to continue. Build on the things I've done this year and make them better, grow them further and enjoy becoming more of the person I want to be.

A collection of the most used words on the internet in 2014 - beautiful, IMO. I especially love 'hashtag' and 'photobomb'

Favourite Beauty Products

I'm going to do a list, because I could literally talk about all of these products forever, and you've almost definitely heard me wax lyrical about almost all of them in the past, so I think it's best to limit myself a little:

  • Max Factor 3-in-1 Facefinity Foundation - It's less than £15, it smooths out my skin beautifully, and they have a colour in my skin tone. Honestly, if they stop making this I think I'll just cry. I just love it. 
  • Soap and Glory Thick and Fast Mascara - I love that this is slightly over the top and gives an exaggerated look without clumping or leaving too much of a residue on lashes. It's a great everyday and special occasion one for me, and it's been on my eyes more than any other mascara this year for sure. 
  • Elf Studio Eyebrow Kit - This is SO CHEAP and SO GOOD and I still find it difficult to believe that both of these things are true at once. A definite handbag staple. 
  • Macademia Hair Flawless Shampoo and Conditioner - This is a late entry since I only tried it in December of this year, but it is really awesome. It's a bit strange to use as it doesn't lather or foam, but it leaves hair so clean and silky smooth after washing. 
  • Sleek i-Divine Garden of Eden Eyes Palette - Another late entry, I received this limited edition palette as a Christmas gift from my good friend Catie, and it is such good quality, and full of beautiful shades - I'd really recommend it. A full review of this is coming in the new year, so keep an eye out!
  • Max Factor Lipfinity - This is by no means a new product, but it's become clear to me this year how much I use it. It just stays put, no matter what, and the 'my lips but better shade' I've discovered in the shade 'Mellow Rose' is just perfect. 

Favourite Music

I've been on a complete classic rock kick this year, in all honesty. My top five albums on spotify are a disaster of Foreigner, Warrant and Bon Jovi - I am an embarrassment in terms of modern music. Fall Out Boy's album 'Centuries' released in September deserves a mention though, as does Slow Club's 'Complete Surrender'.

I've also rediscovered my love of loud, exciting and dancey music somewhat, with Avicii, Ke$ha, Marina and The Diamonds, Beyonce and Mindless Self Indulgence popping up a lot throughout my year, especially when I just want to relax and dance and be happy. I found that my enjoyment of more reflective and slightly different artists crept up more than it has in the past. Amanda Palmer, in particular, Phillip Phillips, Fun., Imagine Dragons and Bastille all feature heavily in my playlists these days, and I've really enjoyed widening my taste a bit. Historically I've always been a bit wary of what I perceive to be 'indie' music, and i'm slowly realising that it's daft to just dismiss a whole genre based on preconceived notions.

Favourite Films

Seriously up there for me was Guardians of the Galaxy - I absolutely ADORED more or less everything about it. Also The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, which was a complete end of an era and made me cry a lot. Other faves this year have included: Maleficent, 22 Jump Street, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I'm really looking forward to seeing a lot of films due out in 2015 - it's going to be a great year for cinema I think!

Favourite Moments

2014 for me has been a year of family, friends, achievement, stress and reflection. That said, some of my best moments of the past year have included....

Celebrating my nana's 60th Birthday back in May, with my entire family at a hotel on the north east coast.

Meeting the international students I taught for three months - I miss you both Mariko and Miyaka!
Bit of a bittersweet one - saying goodbye to my best friend Jenny (left) on a night out before she left for a year abroad in Australia. I miss her loads but still talk to her, and she's back soon in 2015! Yay!

University end of year ball - we all got thoroughly scrubbed up and dressed up and looked amazing ;)

Spending another - and my last! - gorgeous spring/summer by the beach in Whitby and Scarborough. 

End of an era - graduating from University amongst my friends back in July.
Starting out Autumn in a new city, with a new job and a new house.
Adopting our gorgeous kitten Arya! I can't really imagine life without her now, pain as she is. 

Here's hoping you all had a brilliant Christmas and have a wonderful New Year. Broke Student Fashion will be back with a bang next year, so I'll see you all in 2015!! xxx

Monday, 22 December 2014

Holiday Sparkle and Shine with Avon

Hello all! This post is a little later than I anticipated, but it's been a very busy few days. This past weekend my partner and I traveled up to Newcastle upon Tyne to spend some time with both of our families before Christmas. Since we're both working full time and have to be back at work between Christmas and New Year, we're spending our first Christmas ever with just the two of us at home (plus a few friends and well-wishers here and there, of course!). It was really nice to spend time with family, swap some early presents and enjoy a few days away from work and stress. We even managed to fit in seeing The Hobbit, which was brilliant!

I received some lovely early make-up presents from my partner's mam, so I thought I would put together a look worthy of this oh-so shiny and sparkly time of year. All of the products I used were from Avon, except my foundation, one of the eye-shadows and my mascara (which are, slightly predictably, from Max Factor. Don't you know me at all by now??).

Sparkly jumper from Primark / Earrings from New Look

I don't own a lot of products from Avon and I think they can be a little hit and miss, but I absolutely loved the ones I used here! Easily my favourite was the Ideal Luminous Blush, which I found lovely to apply and gave a really soft, gentle colour. I don't wear blush a lot as it can easily be overpowering on my pale skin, but this one is definitely going into my everyday makeup bag. Another star was the Supershock Double Ended Eyeshadow Pencil, in Chocolate Melt & Cream Dream. I used the light side to highlight my inner eye corner and brow bone and the darker side to blend into my crease, before topping it all off with a dusting of Max Factor Wild Shadow Pot in special edition colour Gold Amazon. I got this eyeshadow in the Max Factor 'All That Glitters' free gift deal that's been on at Boots for a while now, and it was so worth it. It's a really luxurious formula that manages to be sparkly without having a lot of fall out or being too in your face - fantastic to wear, and it went really nicely with the Avon cream shadows. 

 A girl can dream...

One of the products I am still in two minds about though. The Glimmersticks Eyeliner, as you can see, gives a really dark, true black colour that is creamy and difficult to budge once on. I found it difficult to apply though, as the stick itself is quite thick and soft and tends to drag a little when trying to get a straight line. It took me a few tries to really get the hang of, and I still think I would never try to wear it if I was in a hurry (which unfortunately for me is most of the time!). Still, it's a lovely dark black and great for a special occasion look.

I also quite like my hair for this look, which was quite an accident! My sister wanted to try out her hot rollers on my already wavy hair, and I ended up with quite a wild blow out, which calmed down a little after a few hours into what you see above.

Cutest kitties! My mam's new kitten Lilly on the left, and my boyfriend's grumpy old man cat Oreo on the right. I got lots of cat cuddles this weekend. 

Overall, I think I'm definitely going to be looking around for a few more good Avon products in 2015. They're very reasonably priced, and although their quality does vary, when they're good they are very good, so that'll do for me. 

Hope you all had a lovely weekend! How do you like the look above? Do you like Avon products, or are they not for you? Let me know below! 

- Natalie XOXO

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Review: Hotel Chocolat Ti Jardin Body Butter (+ Surprises and... Shakespeare?)

Who knew Hotel Chocolat did beauty products? Certainly not me! Turns out, this amazing chocolate brand has a whole range of body and skin products, from lip balms to body butters to candles and scrubs. This little beauty was a lovely surprise for me, therefore, and I wad very excited to give it a try.

I was lucky enough to win a giveaway hosted by AimeeBelle of some fantastic goodies, including Nanshy makeup brushes, Crabtree & Evelyn hand cream, Bee Good Lip Balm, Halo Makeup remover pads, and a whole load of other things, all cruelty-free and all smelling amazing. It was a great surprise to receive in the post today and I'm looking forward to trying them all out, but for now I just had to talk about this.

10% off? Don't mind if I do!
This body butter comes in a squeezy tube, which I always find a bit weird for 'butter' type creams - you have to squeeze so hard, especially if it's a bit cold! But still, it comes out lovely and creamy and smooth A sneaky bit of googling tells me that 'Ti Jardin' is the name of an area within Hotel Chocolat's main cocoa plantation just outside of Saint Lucia in France.

This body butter doesn't smell at all like chocolate, as I was expecting! Instead it hits you with a beautiful citrus-type smell, which is deep and long-lasting. I can really smell the neroli oil in it, which I adore and don't find it too often in my products strangely enough. I need more neroli in my life. I'm really impressed with this cream, and I think it's definitely going to find it's way into my desk drawer at work for hand,arm and face moisturizing during the day.

Now I know you're wondering what on earth Shakespeare has to do with this post. Well, the answer is not that much, but I'm home sick from work today. Boosting up with vitamins with an innocent smoothie (yes the kids ones - don't judge me), I noticed a rather funny little thing on the back of the pack that made me smile:

It reminded me so much of all the time I spend trying to convince my tutoring students that Shakespeare wasn't as inaccessible as they all first imagined. All teenagers are naturally dubious of Shakespeare I think, dismissing his works as 'hard' or 'boring', and I get it, y'know? It's not for everyone and I can appreciate that, but what you might not know fully is linguistically, how much of an impact Shakespeare had on the English speaking world. It's incredible how many of the words and phrases we use today can be traced back to their first uses in Shakespeare's own plays (whether they were all actually written by him or not is a whole other issue mind!) and that is so rare, to be able to place an exact date and time period on a word, that it still sort of blows my little nerdy mind. Good old Will took theatre to the English-speaking lower classes and made it beautiful, whilst still stuffing it chock full of filthy jokes and some of the most complicated stories you've ever seen hand-in-hand with some of the silliest. So to celebrate this, I've included some links to some cool Shakespearean stuff on the internet right now:
Hope you're all having a great day! If you enjoyed this post or want to comment on any of the things I've talked about in it, drop me a comment below, or tweet me! See you all soon. 
Shut the door, there comes no swaggerers here, yo

- Natalie XOXO

Sunday, 7 December 2014

December Goals

December has really crept up on me. Work has been so busy lately, and so many things have happened that need all of my attention all of the time. Christmas seems to be starting earlier and earlier every year, and it's been quite nice experiencing the start of the holidays in a new city, with new people and new things to see. 

My November goals were somewhat achieved I think. I started my gallery wall, made time for myself, leaned on some people for support, read some books and definitely started getting into the Christmas spirit. With that in mind, here are my goals for the month ahead - 

  • EXPERIENCE - I love trying new things. This month so far already I've hosted my first couch-surfer, learned how to jive at 3am in a rock and roll bar with a manager from work, and tried my hand at making mulled wine. I'm going to try and say yes to as many things as possible this month, push my boundaries and hopefully, have some more amazing new experiences.
  • PAMPER - There's lots of social events this time of year, so I'm making it a goal of mine to take care of how I look a bit more than usual this month. That means getting a haircut, re-dying my hair, holding off on the nail-biting for a while, and paying special attention to my skincare routine. 
  • INDULGE - What is Christmas time without excessive amounts of chocolate, bad TV, expensive bath products, and lazy days curled up in a duvet enjoying all of the above? I'm not going to feel guilty for letting go a little this month and letting the comfort of the holidays surround me once in a while. 
  • GIVE - The thing I love most about Christmas is giving to others. I love making people happy and this year I can thankfully afford to spoil the people I love a bit. Aside from that though, I'm also sending a lot of Christmas cards out to people, so I can hopefully make a lot of people smile. I'd also like to try and volunteer a bit, i'm going to look into that. 
  • LOVE - I am loved and I love a lot of people, and I'm not always the best at expressing it. Like most people, I am moody and annoying and grumpy at times, and I'm going to do my best to be positive this month. Because why not, after all? Things could always be worse ;)
Are you getting into the Christmas spirit already, or is it not your kind of thing? What are your hopes and goals for the month ahead? Let me know below! 

- Natalie XOX