"Betty Leopard": November 2011

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Eye for a Bargain

I love make-up, I really, really do. I have a absolutely massive selection of eyeshadows, lipsticks, eyeliners, nail varnishes..........the whole kit and caboodle. Recently, I've also developed a love of beauty blogs; getting to find out about new products and how they work, without shelling out myself, or even discovering products I never knew existed! Thanks to reading beauty blogs I now have a make-up lust list as long as my arm.

The only problem I have with (some) beauty blogs, is the proliferation of super expensive products!
Don't get me wrong, I'll lust after a Chanel Nail Polish or Diorific Lipstick as much as the next girl, but, in general, I'm more interested in the type of make-up I'm going to wear everyday. My budget just won't stretch to £55 for a face powder (Tom Ford, I'm looking at you). Now, you may say, "Yes Betty, but you do get what you pay for", but, if my £3.99 powder does a good job (thank you very much Rimmel), is it really possible for a designer powder to be more than 13 times better? To be honest, I really doubt it.

In my mind, British High Street Beauty brands are fantastic, just like out high street fashion :) Great quality, great selection and great prices. My most recent discovery, which has also quickly become one of my new favourite make-up brands, is Make-Up Academy (MUA), available through Superdrug.
I found out about MUA when I read a review of their Immaculate Collection eyeshadow palette by The London Lipgloss (see her review here). Not only was her review glowing, but at £8 for a 24 shade palette, it seemed too good to be true.
It just so happened that I had been on the look out for some new eyeshadow, almost parting with £12 for a (discounted) Two Faced eyeshadow set that very morning, so the review couldn't have come at a better time, and I headed straight over to the Superdrug website. Unfortunatley, the Immaculate Collection wasn't on the website at the time (it is now). However, the MUA range and Superdrug had a 3 for 2 offer running, so I decided to pick out 3 of their 12-shade palettes at £4 each (making it £8 for 36 shades using the 3 for 2, plus delivery was free).

The three palettes I selected were the "Dusk til Dawn", "Glitter Ball" and "Starry Night".

Dusk til Dawn
Glitter Ball
Starry Night

I picked these three for the overall range of colours, the mix of glitter and non-glitter shades and for a few of the specific shades. A slightly annoying thing is that MUA don't name their shades, so it's quite hard to talk about individual colours. The shades that most stood out and appealed to me when I bought the palettes are the turquoise (third from left, bottom row) and glittery navy (fourth from left, bottom row) in Dusk til Dawn, the coral (second from left, top row), aqua (fourth from left, top row) and purple (far right, bottom row) in Glitter Ball and the pink (second from left, top row) and silver (third from left, bottom row) in Starry Night. However, I don't think there's a single colour in all the selections that I dislike.
So far I've mostly been wearing them during the day, so have stuck to the more subtle shades, but fully intend to break out the bolder ones over the Christmas/New Year party season. I'm especially looking forward to trying out the navy shade in the Dusk til Dawn palette, as I've fancied a navy shade for a while (for some reason) and it doesn't seem to be a massively common shade.
Aside from the colours, I'm also really pleased with the formulation. The shadows are easy to apply and can (mostly) be built up from subtle to bold as required, except for some of the deeper shades. I haven't had any issues with longevity, only experiencing a very small amount of creasing after a full days wear (12+ hours). The finish of the shades is really nice, most of them are quite shimmery, not just the glittery ones, which suits me as I'm not a big fan of matte shadows. The glitter shades do suffer a bit of fall out, with some of the glitter flecks ending up on my cheeks, but again, I don't really see this as a big problem!

Overall, I am massively impressed with these shadows, not just because of the price, but the incredible value of great quality shadows for an amazing price. I would recommend these shades to anyone, from girls starting out in the world of cosmetics to experienced make-up users. The packaging doesn't look cheap either, so you could easily get away with giving them as gifts without the recipient thinking you've skimped ;)
The MUA range is huge, in terms of products and colours. I think I'll definitely be trying out their lipsticks next, which are only £1 each!

Hope your week is going well,

Monday, 28 November 2011

Fun House

"Fun House, A Whole Lot Of Fun, Prizes To Be Won, It's A Real Crazy Show Where Anything Goes"

Remember the 90's kids show Fun House? I loved that show, and this weekend I came the closest I ever will to being a contestant on that show (given I'm 26 years old and it was cancelled in 1999), when a friend decided to hold her 25th birthday celebrations at Playzone, Portsmouth!
For those of you who don't know; Playzone is a massive indoor soft play centre filled with slides and nets and bridges and all sorts of structures for climbing on/jumping off. While it's primary target audience is toddlers and children, there are weekly adult sessions or you can hire the whole place out over night for parties, complete with laserquest, buffet, breakfast, and you can provide your own alcohol (by arrangement).

The Playzone session kicked off at 9.30 and, after a brief safety talk (mostly common sense stuff) we were let loose in the play area! Everyone ran off in a suitably child-like manner, all in different directions to discover all there was play on!
It didn't take long for the boys to gather at the top of the red slide, which was practically vertical most of the way down, goading and challenging each other to take the leap. Then, after they'd all done it, they moved onto the girls. I'm pretty pleased to say that, after a little bit of sitting on the edge Oh-My-God-ing and deep breathing, I did have a go. I did not enjoy it one bit, it was awful! Some people seemed to love it and used it repeatedly, once was more than enough for me, but at least I had a go! I don't know how kids do it, it must be so much more intimidating for them.

Rope Swings, Fireman's Pole, Rope Bridge

The tame Rainbow Slide, Blue Slide with Ball Pit and Terrifying Red Slide

Human Mangle

Fun in the ball pit

In all honesty, it was thoroughly knackering, and I didn't even throw myself into it as much as some people! After about an hour and a half some of us were definitely flagging, me included. That place is better than the gym for burning calories! I' not going to need to exercise all week.
As the birthday girl was a primary school teacher, there were a fair few well organised games going on, although I decided to sit out for a bit as running around fuelled by rum and coke (and having had an upset stomach most of the day) had left me feeling a little peaky. I suspect tucking into the kids party style cold buffet didn't do much to help that either (cold pizza, cold sausage rolls, cold cocktail sausages, ham sandwiches, egg sandwiches, dairylea sandwiches....).
A bit of a break did me good and by 1am, when the Laserquest session began, I was ready to play again! We played a total of three laserquest games, two where it was everyman for himself and one where we were in teams. Unsurprisingly I wasn't exactly the highest scoring player but I was on the winning team for the last game (although my actual contribution was minimal).
Time for sleeping was minimal, after all the games and time for people to calm down, it was after 4am before I got to sleep and we were woken slightly before 6 by an announcement that breakfast was being cooked. I managed to drag myself out of my sleeping bag, ate a sausage bap then headed out as the staff needed to clean up before the kids session started at 8am (I do not envy that job).
I slept most of the day on Sunday and ache like hell today, but some of the others must surely feel worse the way they threw themselves into out, coming out complete with cuts and bruises. Overall, it was a fun night and definitely not your standard 25th birthday celebration. Plus for £40 per person for a full night of entertainment complete with food (even if it wasn't exactly gourmet), it wasn't exactly too expensive.

If you get the chance to go to one of these parties, or need inspiration for your next birthday, I would definitely recommend something like this.

Hope your weekend was fun, if not as active!


Just a quick note to let you know that I wasted some time over the weekend by creating a Facebook page for my blog.
It will probably be mostly for posting blog updates, but I might put other random things up there too.
There should be a box over on the right where you can like the page, or follow this link.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend. I hope to get around to a proper post later today or tomorrow :)

Friday, 25 November 2011

That's a wrap

A short while ago, a friend asked me why, given my recent surge in interest in nail polish and nail art, I had never tried nail wraps. In truth, I have never tried them because, at least to me, they have always seemed tricky and also rather expensive for something I can only use once. Also, I always had a feeling I'd make a hash of them, as I'm hardly a nail expert; for every photo of my nails I put up here, I've probably applied and removed at least one trial run :/ At least with polish, if it goes wrong, I can remove it and start again; if I mess up the wraps then I'd have wasted a whole set!

Anyway, as a happy coincidence, a set of Nail Rock nail wraps were included in this months GlossyBox! I was rather excited when I saw the packet had the leopard print design on it, which did turn in to a bit of disappointment when a set of black and white striped wraps came out. That disappointment was only due to my expectations of my beloved leopard print, the design itself is actually really nice, and certainly one of my preferred options from the Nail Rock range. I was pleased to see you get sixteen wraps in a set, in a range of sizes to suit your nail size but also providing opportunity for hapless people like me to hash up a few and still be able to use the set!

The instructions for application are pretty simple; buff the nail, wipe with acetone, then apply the appropriately sized wrap (which is pretty much a sticker) and shape. I did try very hard, but as this was my first go at nail wraps, it didn't exactly go perfectly. It's not as obvious in the photo as in reality, but they are far from perfectly stuck along the edges, with a fair few creases and lumps. I am pretty sure this is due to my lack of experience, as other people seem to have achieved much smoother results!
Apparently, they can last up to seven days, but I doubt mine will last that long. The poor application will either mean they fall off earlier or I'll get so annoyed with the messy finish that I'll rip them off!

I'm not totally sold on the nail wrap idea. I can see the benefits, as I'm ridiculously prone to getting bored of waiting for polish to dry, which isn't an issue with the wraps! While I do expect that practice will improve my application skills, I still think that £6.65 is a bit more than I'd want to pay for 7 days (max) of use. I also prefer the freedom of polish, I can try out any design I like, without being limited to a fashion based range of options.
However, if you like the idea of getting involved in the nail art craze but struggle with polish or have limited time then nail wraps may be a great option for you.

I'm sure a lot of you have received nail wraps from GlossyBox, how did you get on? Are there any tips on improving application?


Thursday, 24 November 2011

Thank You

As it's Thanksgiving today, I thought I would take some time to write a little Thank You post. Now before anyone starts getting all uppity about celebrating a very American holiday in the UK, I was born in the US, making me at least technically, an American citizen, so there :p lol. I also just think it's a nice sentiment, to take some time to think of the things you are thankful for and that you maybe don't show enough appreciation for.

The People and Things that I am most Thankful for;

  • I am thankful for my family. My mum and dad, who have always loved and supported me, put up with a lot of complaining and still tried to offer advice. My sister, even though we haven't always got along very well, you have been an important part of my life. My grandparenst, for being ridiculously generous and always proud.
  • I am thankful for Pete (my boyfriend), for being supportive and understanding and caring, making me laugh and pushing me to be a better person, being there every day through thick and thin. I love you so much and am thankful every day you stick with me.
  • I am thankful for Alf (our puppy) for his endless outpouring of (mostly) unconditional love, for being the best hot water bottle in the world, a constant source of amusement and making me smile just by being you.
  • I am thankful for my therapist, he's the only therapist I've really got along with and (even though he gets paid or it) he listens to all my shit and has been so helpful, I don't know where I'd be without that help.
  • I am thankful for my friends. I might not see you all as often as I would like to, but just knowing you are my friends means a lot. Thank you for spending time with me, talking to me, inviting me to things (even if I don't always make it) and considering me your friend.
  • I am thankful for you, my blog readers. I love writing this blog and knowing that someone reads it and (hopefully) enjoys it, makes it all the more worthwhile. Your comments always make my day :)
There are a lot of things I am thankful for too; 
  • My 'job', as having a job that pays is not always easy to come by at the moment  and my job allows me enough freedom to work from home and choose my own hours (within reason). I don't always actually enjoy it, but I know I could be in a much worse position.
  • Having a home, food on my table, hot water in my bath and the ability to treat myself to a few luxuries every now and again.
  • Even little things, like music, that can pick me up when I'm feeling low or chill me out if I'm super stressed. 
I don't want to go on too much and get too sappy about all this. Basically, I am thankful for my life and all the things in it and everyone I encounter and communicate with.

Pete and I had a little Thanksgiving dinner this evening that was so lovely. I cooked it all and it brought me so much joy :)

Lemon and Rosemary Chicken
(I know Thanksgiving is meant to be Turkey, but there were only two of us, so a chicken seemed more sensible)
Corn Bread Chilli Muffins
Betty's Homemade Stuffing
Thanksgiving Dinner Table
Carving the Chicken

Sticky Butterscotch Pudding
Alf all dressed up for Thanksgiving :)

I'll try and post the recipes up tomorrow.
Thanksgiving has definitely put a smile on my face :)
Hope you have had a good day and have something to be Thankful for.


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Living In my Skin

A while ago I wrote a post about my realisation that, at 26, I probably shouldn't still be using the same skin care regime as when I was a teenager (here). At the time I was suffering from a particularly bad skin period and my knee-jerk reaction was to resort to my old habits and throw witch-hazel, tea tree and salicylic acid at my face in an attempt to rid myself of my blemishes. So, it seems I still hadn't fully learnt my lesson!
Since writing that post I've taken on advice from friends and the internet and am now much more aware of how I should be treating my mid-twenties skin. I needed to let go of my teen spot treatments and embrace a more age appropriate way of caring for my skin.
At first, I assumed that getting a more suitable, twenty-something skin care range meant spending more money. Dermalogica was recommended to me. I was aware of Dermalogica and, through GlossyBox, have tried a few of their products. However, my current tight budget didn't really allow for that kind of expense (at least £60 for cleanser, toner and moisturiser!). In the end I settled for Clinique's Anti-Blemish Solutions 3-Step System at £30.

In general, I was pretty satisfied that the products were better for my skin than anything I was using before. My skin was definitely clearer, not totally flawless, but I wasn't expecting a miracle!
I found the cleansing foam a little strange, I'm not sure what the benefit of it being a foam was, but it did cleanse my skin nicely. For the first week or so I used all three products religiously day and night, but after a while I started skipping the clarifying lotion as I found it could be quite drying. The moisturiser was good, but it came in such a small tube I was scared to use too much and often would supplement with the cheap Boots Simply Sensitive moisturiser I featured in the last skin post, which I am very impressed with (especially at £2.79 for 125ml).

While I wasn't particularly unhappy with the range, I wasn't overwhelmed either and was open to the idea of trying something else. So, when I read this post by The Sunday Girl, I was very excited and placed my order almost straight away.

This collection is half the price of the Clinique set, or less if you get it on 3 for 2 like I managed to!
While I liked the Clinique range, I love this one (yes the price does influence that a little). Even after the first use my skin felt so soft, I was honestly stroking my cheeks! Having been using the products for a while, they are definitely keeping my blemishes at bay, again not completely flawless, but still great results, and aren't at all drying like the Clinique range was. It's another foaming cleanser, which I'm getting used to the idea of, at least this one is a bit thicker than the Clinique one. I've only used the scrub a few times as I only need it once a week, twice at most, and find it works well. The moisturiser is also nice, light,easily absorbed and non-oily, plus it's got the added benefit of SPF 15 (important for preventing skin damage and premature aging).  The whole range smells really nice and fresh, definitely not chemically, which I think is part of the point of the Botanics range. From what I can tell, the ingredients are also a bit more natural than a lot of skin care products too.
The Sunday Girl had a toner from the same range, which I would really like, but I couldn't find it online. If I can get my hands on that then this range will be pretty much perfect in my mind and I think I'll be sticking with it for a while.
Another win for more budget orientated beauty!

Any other suggestions for great, reasonably priced beauty and skin care finds are always welcome!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

She was a skater girl

Well, I wasn't actually ever a skater girl. I went through a grungy stage, but bypassed the actual skating.
Anyway, the title actually refers to the skater dress I wore today. I've been so busy of late that some of the longer posts I have planned, but I wanted to get something posted, so you'll have to deal with looking at what I wore today.
I'm still getting used to posting outfits with big pics of myself, and how to photograph myself properly. But, these things take practice.

Dress; Boohoo. Long Sleeve Top; New Look. Belt; eBay, Tights; M&S, Boots; Underground England
I actually bought this dress a while ago, but haven't got around to wearing it until today. I tried it on as an option for going out on Saturday night, but decided it was more suited to daytime, so I broke it out for work today instead. 
I've looked at a lot of skater dresses in recent months; I like how simple they are, easy to style, versatile and with quite full skirts. I bought a couple from Prodigy Red before this one but was disappointed as they were far too short and really tight across my boobs.
However, this one I love. For a start, it's leopard print, so it's already scoring highly in my books. The fabric is really nice, it's soft and has a good weight which makes it great for this time of year and also adds to how nicely the skirt moves. I like that it is still quite feminine but without being too floaty and girly, which isn't very me and wouldn't be too appropriate for my work.
The dress is actually sleeveless, so I'm wearing it here with a long sleeve black top underneath to keep out the cold (and because I'm not the biggest fan of my arms). It did come with its own belt, which is thinner than the one I'm wearing here, but I love this belt and wear it whenever I can. The dress is pretty flattering in itself with the way the skater skirt skims my hips and kicks out at the bottom, but the belt just reinforces that with a properly cinched waist. The tights are partly necessity, as while it's not too cold it's also not exactly warm, but also personal preference as that much leg would be a bit much at work!

Anyway, that's enough about me for now.
Hope you are well,

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Models Own: Beetlejuice Collection

On Tuesday, Models Own launched their new Beetlejuice collection (inspired by the iridescence of beetle shells) and I decided to treat myself and pick up a few of the new colours.
I only bought three of the shades rather than going for the full five shade set, as I just didn't see myself wearing the two greener shades. Instead I went for Aqua-Violet, Purple-Blue and Pinky-Brown, which were more in-keeping with my preferred colours and therefore more likely to get used! Also, Models Own have an offer on their polishes, buy 3 save £3 or buy 5 and save £7. I'm not sure if that's just online or if it's in stores as well, but the Beetlejuice collection is only available online anyway.
Pinky-Brown was clearly the most popular of the whole collection, as it had already sold out by the Wednesday.

While the website pictures clearly over-exaggerate the multi-tonal properties, I'm still really impressed with the colours.

Purple Blue, Aqua Violet and Pinky Brown
Pinky Brown
Purple Blue
This picture is quite zoomed in, so the quality isn't amazing, but shows the multi-tones a bit better. In some lights it can look entirely bronze, sometimes it's a deep rusty pink and sometimes, when you catch both tones at once, it looks like fire.

Another very zoomed picture, showing off the pinky-purpley-blue tones. As with the pinky-brown, sometimes you see just one shade, sometimes you catch a flash of all. I particularly like this one as at face value it's quite subtle and dark, but when you look closer you can see all the different colours.

The multi-tones are quite hard to capture in photos, I did my best, but the colours show up best when they're moving in the light. The tones in the Purple Blue are probably slightly more obvious, and I find both look show up best in natural light. I haven't tried the Aqua-Violet yet, not because I don't like it, I just only have two hands! Even if you don't think the multi-tonal-ness is that impressive, they're still really nice colours in their own rights and these two in particular are nice and glittery. I know some people don't think a lot of the staying power of Models Own polishes, but I actually find they don't chip too quickly, at least not compared to other brands. I've had mine on for 24 hours with no problems, even through a bath and washing my hair, which is when I usually pick up the most damage. They are more interesting than a standard polish but without being over-the-top or garish. I think they're really wearable and perfect for autumn/winter when we're all looking to add a bit of sparkle into our lives.

Speaking of sparkle, I also splashed out and bought the full glitter collection :/ What can I say, I'm a sucker for glitter :) I'll definitely get a lot of use out of these as we get closer to Xmas. I wonder if they'll work with my leopard print stamp?

I love all of these, except the green, Jenny, if you're reading, do you fancy it?

Lots of Love,

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Garnier BB

So I'm a little late to the BB party; sorry!
I've um-ed ah ah-ed about trying this product for quite a while, and have only finally got around to it as I applied for a free sample on the Garnier website.
It first look, the product seems amazing; it's even advertised as a 'miracle skin perfector' that will 'even, cover, hydrate, illumiante and protect'. Now, I'm sure I'm not alone in my scepticism about the claims that cosmetic products make. So, even though I would obviously love a product that would cover, even, illuminate, hydrate and protect my skin, I wasn't sufficiently sucked in by the adverts to rush straight out and buy it (even at only £10).
I also wasn't totally sure that BB creams were for me. I've always had dreams of using minimal amounts of make-up and achieving a beautiful, natural, glowing, effortless look. However, in reality, I've always preferred foundation that delivers a decent level of coverage to disguise my varying levels of blemishes and the dark areas under my eyes, and dries to a nice matte finish (I really don't like being shiny). So my requirements are pretty much the opposite of what I believe a BB cream to be all about.
Despite this, as a girl I was still excited about the prospect of a new make-up product, and the sceptic in me isn't afraid of being proved wrong. So, I stepped into the unknown and set about slathering my face in BB.

When my sample first arrived, I was pretty pleased to find that the pack included three small sachets. Normally I'm not a huge fan of free samples as they tend to be so small you have no way of knowing how a product is going to work for you in the long run. The sachets also seem to contain a decent amount of product as, even though I thought I applied quite a lot, there was still a reasonable amount left.

Anyway, onto my thoughts.
To be honest, I wasn't exactly overwhelmed.
The product was thicker than I expected. I had thought it would be more like a liquid foundation, but, in my opinion, it was verging on a mousse type texture. This wasn't off-putting in itself, but it did make the product seem heavier on my skin that I would have liked. I was definitely aware of having it on my skin, and that coming from someone who is used to wearing quite a lot of make-up.
Another thing that made me more aware of the cream was the smell. It wasn't a horrible smell, but it was quite strong and hung around for at least an hour or so after putting it on. I think the smell issue is something I've encountered with other Garnier products and is a reason I generally avoid them.
I had mixed feelings about the coverage. It definitely did reduce redness and covered up the majority of blemishes. Some more significant marks were still visible and, if anything, I think the dark patches under my eyes looked worse. In addition, even though I received a sample of 'Light', the palest shade available, I still felt it was a bit dark for my skin and didn't look very natural, but I am quite pale. The finish was also too shiny for me. I know some people like a more glowing look, but I like a matte finish or I look greasy.

The picture below shows me 'after' (no before pics I'm afraid, I'm not feeling like exposing myself that much!). It's not the best picture in the world, but I think it's clear that the colour is wrong for me and that it doesn't really do anything for my under-eye area. I'd probably look a little less dead if I'd bothered to put some eyeliner and mascara on. I definitely looked shinier than the picture shows and ended up having to use a powder over the top, which added to the heavy feel.

After all that, I don't think Garnier BB Cream is a product I'll be using again. While I haven't exactly given a flattering review here, I do think that most of my problems are personal, given the expectations I had , the way my skin is and the outcome I like to achieve. I'm happy with my foundation and how it makes my skin look, even though it's more expensive. I think the Garnier website is now out of free samples, but I still have two sachets left, if you're interested in trying it out let me know in the comments and I'll get in touch.

There are also other BB creams out there, including an even cheaper one by 17 at Boots.

Hope you're having a good weekend,

Thursday, 3 November 2011


Movember is something I have been aware of for the past few years, but not really paid much attention to. Until this year that is. Due to our lives being touched by the issue at the centre of the Movember campaign, my boyfriend decided to sacrifice his (almost trademark) beard in the hope of raising some money for the cause.
For those of you who don't know; Movember is a campaign that aims to raise awareness of male health issues, (primarily prostate and testicular cancer) by encouraging men (and women, I guess) to grow/don a moustache during the month of November. While Pete isn't strictly following the rules, as he's not starting clean shaven, given he has had a beard for the entire (nearly) 3 years I have known him, cutting down to a 'tache is as much of a commitment for him as growing one from scratch. So, this afternoon, he took up residence in the bathroom with a range of shaving equipment and set about cutting.

I thought I'd also get involved and support the cause
I think he looks rather handsome, but maybe I'm biased :)
He's set up a team on the Movember website, looking to recruit team members and take donations. If any of you felt like sparing a few pennies, the team donation page can be found here. Breast Cancer gets a lot of press, it's about time male cancers were thought of the same way.
I feel a 'tache related bake spree coming on......

Hope you are all well,

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

I got published!

Just a quick post to let you know that I have had my first article published by Experimentation, an online science magazine.
It's a bit of a departure from my blog, but is more in-keeping with my day job. If you're interested, check it out at the link below.

"The environmental and financial costs of plastic carrier bags"

I hope to get more articles published in coming months :)
Hope you are well,