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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

In Retrospect | August 2016

The last two weeks or so have been very quiet here on the blog... Basically, as predicted, it all got a bit much for me trying to keep up with working full-time, blogging and having a life, as well as some family stuff going on. Something had to give and I've ended up basically having a blog-free couple of weeks, which has been nice; I've posted pretty much every other day for over a year, so it's been weird but refreshing to do other things with my time!
In Retrospect August 2016
Posting that frequently definitely isn't sustainable for me anymore, so I'm going to be playing around with my blogging schedule over the next few weeks, and trying to figure out what works for me in terms of posting regularly without losing out on quality, and still being able to do other things in life - like, you know, eat, sleep, take care of myself and see the people I love. In the mean time, let's have a little look back at August...

After powering my way through 5468761 empties last month, I feel like I've not done very well in August! This little lot looks pretty pathetic by comparison...
Will Repurchase: Organic Surge Brightening Hot Cloth Cleanser | This smelt gorgeous and my skin seemed to really like it - it was left feeling soft and clean, and my blemishes did seem to clear up beautifully whilst I was using it. // Organic Surge Citrus Mint Shower Gel | I love the fresh scent of this body wash for waking me up in the morning, and it's SLS-free so it keeps my temperamental eczema-prone skin happy. That's basically all I ask in a shower gel! (I don't know why this tube looks so grubby in the photo - I promise it wasn't!)
Might Repurchase: Forever Living Aloe Bath Gelée* | As I mentioned in my review, I've been using this as a shower gel as I don't have a bath, but it worked well - lathered up nicely, smelt quite pleasant and was gentle on my skin. I do think it's expensive for what it is, and it's not my favourite Forever Living product, but I'd consider treating myself.

Sample Sachets
I've managed to use up quite a few samples this month; I've been trying to have a bit of a clear out again! I seem to go through phases of stockpiling them, and then a few weeks where I'm pretty good at fishing a sachet out of my sample box to try out, and then I fall out of the habit again...
Tresemmé Beauty-Full Volume Pre-Wash Conditioner & Shampoo | Wouldn't buy due to SLS and silicons - I had such a bad break-out on my chest and shoulders after a couple of days of using haircare samples with silicons in. No thankyou! (Conditioner £2.62/290ml here, shampoo £2.62/500ml here) //  Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion | I didn't realise Aveeno used Mineral Oil in their products, I was quite disappointed to discover that - and predictably, my skin hated this. (From £3.79/200ml here) // FOREO Day Cleanser | This was nice but nothing special; like the night version, I was pretty underwhelmed by it, especially given the price point! (£25/100ml here) // L'Oreal Elvive Extraordinary Clay Re-Balancing Shampoo & Conditioner | I loved the last samples of these that I used and was gutted that the shampoo contains SLS, but this time around they didn't seem to work half as well for me - which I'm kind of glad about, as I feel less like I'm missing out! (Shampoo £2.89/250ml here, Conditioner £2.89/250ml here)

August Goals
If you missed my August goals you can catch up on the whole post here, or read on to see how I went on with them...
• Complete Total Warrior in 90 minutes or less. Well this went horribly wrong! It was all going so well and I was on track for my target - I don't really know what happened but around 6km round the 10km course I started to feel really, really sick and my legs turned to jelly. I walked most of the last 4km to finish just under 2:15 which was a lot slower than I was hoping for. I'm proud to have finished because I really did feel dreadful, but I'm so disappointed I didn't get even close to my target! I actually had to get my boyfriend to pull over on the way home and we sat in a lay-by for about 20 minutes because I really thought I was going to be sick.
• Keep running even after Warrior. I ran Warrior on the Sunday and was back out running again on the Tuesday! Success. I actually felt really good on my Tuesday run - really strong and comfortable, which was annoying. I literally don't know what went wrong in the race! But I've managed to run at least twice a week since which I'm happy with.
• See friends at least twice. As well as the reunion with Warrior friends, I had a pub night for my friend's birthday, and a walk with one of my best friends - I hadn't seen him since about April so it was nice to have a catch-up, even if we did get rained on!
• Spend as little as possible. Working so close to Asda has turned out to be a bit of a curse - it's far too easy to pop across in my lunch break, and I have ended up buying a few things I didn't strictly need - magazines, cupcakes and a new top. Apart from that I think I've been quite restrained though. And the top was only £6 in the sale so it hardly even counts right?!
• Catch a Jigglypuff. After weeks of desperately wanting a Jigglypuff, I caught two in one day - in Asda's carpark. My boyfriend had desperately been trying to catch one before I did so he was less than impressed, but I was excessively happy. Just look at its little FACE! Ohmygosh so cute.

August Loves
Elizabeth at 'Ice Cream', Whispers Clara shared five things she's learnt from CBT which was a really interesting read for me, particularly given that my new job will feature a fair bit of CBT. I love Elizabeth's blog and her post about her adventures in the Lake District was another favourite for me - I love that she lives so near to me!
Michelle from Thou Shalt Not Covet posted about the MAC Star Trek collection and I became a little bit obsessed with the Trip The Light Fantastic Powder; I'm not a Trekkie by any stretch but this is just too stunning for me not to, well, seriously covet it!
Amongst my own posts, favourites include my Harry Potter-inspired makeup for the #BeautiesOnFire Collab and my MAC Lipstick Collection, so do head on over and check those out if you missed them.

August in Summary
A funny old month indeed, but I feel like I'm getting settled into my new job now, so hopefully I'll be able to get back into some kind of routine as we head into September! It's felt like a very long month in some ways, yet in other ways it seems to have flown past. How has your month been? Have you been up to anything nice?

[*Products provided for consideration.
Photo credits to bloggers mentioned - they should click through to the original posts.]

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

What's In My Photo Prop Box?

A few weeks ago I posted a Photo Prop Wishlist of bits that I'd like to add to my blogging prop box; you know those little bits and pieces that add a bit of interest to your product shots and flat lays? I try to keep mine all together in one box so that they're handy when I need them, and I don't have to spend ten minutes rounding up trinkets for a blog photography session. Let's have a look at what's in my box!
I have a fair old heap of magazines - I buy one or two most months, depending on the freebies (have a peek at this month's magazine freebies!) so I build up a little stockpile, and every so often I rotate them, recycling any that are looking a bit worse for wear or I haven't been using, to make room for new ones! I find magazines make a great background for product shots (it's nice to have a few to choose from depending on the colours/style you're after etc.) as well as featuring in lifestyle-type photos.
As if I need an excuse to hoard stationery! I keep a selection of pretty notebooks and pencils, along with this weekly planner pad and a little notecard, in my box - I do also use my day-to-day planner and an assortment of fineliners on occasion, but I use those in everyday life so they don't live in this box.
Side plates and coasters are a bit of an obsession of mine - these are all from Sainsbury's except the glittery square plate, which was Home Bargains, and none of them cost more than about £4. If you follow me on Instagram you'll have seen the patterned side plates popping up on a regular basis as they make a fab background for product shots.
Candles etc.
Various candles, candle holders and the like sneak their way into my photos, and I'm very enamoured with my Jo Malone matches at the moment - the poshest matches in the world?! I've not used them in any blog photography yet, I'm biding my time, but I do think they look lovely and luxe! They'll be perfect for lifestyle shots.
Bits & Bobs
I keep a random selection of ribbons, twine, paper flowers and other similar miscellania to hand, as again these can be lovely to add a bit of interest to your photos. Anytime a giftset comes with a ribbon tied around it, it ends up in my prop box! Things like rings, necklaces, hairclips, and brooches are also fab for adding colour and texture to your shots. And potentially the biggest essential of them all - Blu Tack. I can't believe how long it took me to cotton onto this, but it is ideal for stopping lipsticks, mascaras or anything else that's round from just... rolling out of shot.
I wish I could afford to buy fresh flowers each week to use in my blog photos but until then, I'll be making do with this little lot! What are your favourite blog photo props? What's missing from my box of tricks? I'd love to hear what you add to your blog photos!


Sunday, 14 August 2016

Ten Thoughts You Have In The First Week Of Your New Job

I may have mentioned (once or twice or three thousand times) that I started a new job at the beginning of the month - I'm loving it so far, it's pretty much exactly what I want to be doing and I'm so happy! However, as with any new job, the first couple of weeks have mainly been about settling in, finding my feet and getting to know who everyone is. Here are ten things I found myself thinking in my first week...
[Photo credit: CGSCreative; Edited by me.]
#1. I know it only takes 40 minutes to drive, but the traffic might be bad and I might get lost, so I'd better give myself an hour. Or an hour and a half? Yeah, better safe than sorry...
#2. I'm legitimately 45 minutes early. Will anyone notice if I just sit in my car in the carpark for half an hour...?
#3. These people are all so nice!
#4. This lady is lovely but I have no idea what she's called and I've already asked twice...
#5. I... I'm not going to remember any of this by tomorrow morning.
#6. Is it too soon to have another cup of tea?
#7. Why don't these people have name badges?
#8. No, Darren from IT, I've only been here four days, I don't know who's desk that is. Or whether they use the phone. I'm sorry. I don't know.
#9. When will I start feeling like I can actually do this job?!
#10. Look at my new email signature, though! That's me!
A photo posted by Jess Smith (@jesssrawr) on

So yeah... My first couple of weeks have seen me forgetting a lot of people's names, wondering where things are a fair bit, and being thoroughly unhelpful when Darren from IT came to rearrange all the computers while I was the only one in the office. Good times!
Is there anything you'd add to my list? What are the best and worst things about starting a new job?


Thursday, 11 August 2016

#BeautiesOnFire Week Four | Book/Movie

I can't believe we're onto Week Four of the #BeautiesOnFireCollab already! This week the theme chosen was Book/Movie, and I knew straight away what I would end up doing... My choice falls neatly into both camps, although I'd definitely choose the books if I had to pick. Harry Potter has been a huge part of my life since I was seven years old, so it was an easy choice for me.
I have actually done Harry Potter-themed nail art in the past and, as I didn't have a lot of time on my hands again this week, I decided to do something similar with eye make-up to what I did for the Disney Princess theme last week. As I'd obviously be in Gryffindor if I went to Hogwarts (I think my owl must have got lost, still waiting for my letter to arrive...) I wanted to use their house colours of Scarlet & Gold.
The Gold I used is 'Marzipan' from Too Faced's Chocolate Bar palette, which I packed on all over my lid over a cream shadow base to make the colours stand out a bit better. Unfortunately I don't own any true Scarlet eyeshadows, so I had to go for a more burgundy shade - MAC's 'Cranberry', to be exact. I used this in the outer half of each eye and winged it out a little, as well as running it under my lower lashes.
And... That's basically it. I quite like how it turned out, though, so it's all good! I would have liked the red to be a bit... redder, but in terms of working with what I've got, I'm happy with this. It actually kind of puts me in mind of Fawkes the phoenix from Harry Potter, too, so it's doubly on-theme, I guess!
Don't forget you can find out what the #BeautiesOnFireCollab is all about in Elisabeth's post here, see my previous posts here, and check out this week's post to have a look at what the other ladies involved have come up with - I've got a feeling it's going to be a very varied week! Do you like my Gryffindor eyeshadow? What book or movie would you choose for this theme?

Beauties on Fire Logo [5555218]


    An InLinkz Link-up

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

My MAC Lipstick Collection

I know it's a bit of a blogger cliché the biggest blogger cliché going. but I've never actually posted about my MAC lipstick collection! It's only a small collection but I think it's very representative of my tastes in lipstick, so I thought I'd share my shades today. I'd love to hear what you think and if there are any other shades you think I need in my collection, so do let me know in the comments!
As you can see, I own a grand total of four MAC lipsticks, all of which I've actually been lucky enough to win over the years - I hadn't realised til I came to do this post that I've never even bought a MAC lipstick! Maybe I should add a fifth to my collection... Two of these are actually Limited Edition, and the other two are part of the permanent collection.
So left to right we have 'Speak Louder', which is permanent, 'Mystical', which was part of 2014's Alluring Aquatics collection, 'Cut A Caper', which was part of 2012's Heavenly Creatures collection, and 'Pink Pearl Pop' which is also permanent. 'Cut A Caper' is a Lustre finish, whilst the other three are all Cremesheens.
I think you can see from the swatches below that they're all quite similar in tone - I definitely favour a pink lip! 'Speak Louder' is the brightest of the four, although once on the lip I've found it to be really wearable. 'Mystical' isn't a shade I would have chosen for myself, but applied lightly it's a really lovely nude, and just goes to show you should push your boundaries occasionally and try new things! I really love the packaging of this, the water droplets are textured and it feels really luxe. 'Cut A Caper' is quite sheer in finish so, although I'm never sure that the shade itself suits me, I think I can still get away with wearing it. 'Pink Pearl Pop' is less of a "pop" than the name might suggest, which disappointed me at first, but it's still a really nice shade for brightening up your face without being too obvious or over-the-top - I think it's actually my most-worn of the four.
In general, I do like the formula of MAC's lipsticks; they tend to be smooth, creamy and easy to apply, with the classic vanilla scent we all know and love. Both the Cremesheens and Lustre are comfortable to wear and non-drying, with the Cremesheens being slightly better-wearing than the Lustre; I can get 3-4 hours from the former, whereas the latter only really lasts an hour or two at the most.
What are your favourite MAC lipstick shades? Do you have any of the lippies in my collection?


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Magazine Freebies | September 2016

After a few months of really awesome magazine freebies, things seem to have quietened down a little this month, and these are the only two I've actually seen so far! Nonetheless, they're two good ones, so they're worth looking out for if you'd like to get your hands on some beauty goodies with your reading material this month...
InStyle (£3.99, Stacy Martin on the cover) comes with one of three Balance Me products; you can choose from their Super Toning Body Polish (worth £10), Pure Skin Face Wash (worth £10) or Lip Quench Balm (worth £8) - full details here. I went for the Body Polish, which I've tried before and wasn't entirely sold on - I still have half a tube of the Lip Quench Balm, and was unimpressed with the Face Wash. There are also sample sachets of Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch (1.5ml) and Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion (10ml).
Meanwhile, Elle (£4.10, Kristen Stewart on the cover) includes a 5ml tube of Benefit's Dew The Hoola Liquid Bronzer, which I'm not sure will be for me (I'm not a bronzer girl!) but for less than a fiver, I figured it's worth a try. I love that it comes in a miniature pump bottle rather than a tube - little things... There's also sample sachets of Tresemmé's new Beauty-Full Volume Pre-Wash Conditioner & Shampoo (8ml each) in the magazine.
Will you be picking up any of this month's beauty freebies? Have you seen any more that I've missed?


Monday, 8 August 2016

Review | George Super Boost Concealer

Ever a lover of a bargain, I spotted George's Super Boost Concealer whilst browsing in Asda and thought I'd give it a whirl, basically because the 'Light' shade looked pale enough for my ghost-like complexion! I'll admit, though, that it was the lovely bright red of the packaging that caught my eye first - it reminded me of the Bourjois Healthy Mix products, although I don't know whether they're comparable as I've never tried the Bourjois line.
The packaging is a fairly standard clear tube (handy to see how much you've got left!) with a red screw-cap and a doefoot applicator, which makes for easy application to the skin. I tend to "draw" it onto my undereye area, and dab onto any blemishes, after applying foundation. I then blend out with my dampened Real Techniques sponge - the edge of the flat side is perfect for this - before setting with translucent powder.
I love this shade, it's absolutely perfect for my skintone and it works so well to really brighten up the undereye area, which I hope you can see below (excuse my tired, swollen, first-week-back-at-work eyes!) - the top photo shows just foundation, and the bottom one I've applied my concealer too. The texture is light and easy to work with, blending seamlessly into my skin, and once it's set with powder, I've found it doesn't budge. Often, under-eye concealer can settle in fine lines and crease as the day goes on, but I haven't noticed that at all with George's Super Boost Concealer - it's the dream as far as I'm concerned!
George Super Boost Concealer is £4 for 2.5ml of product, available here in three shades (Light, Medium & Dark); I'll definitely be picking it up again in future as I really do think it's brilliant, especially considering the price! I'd certainly recommend it as a budget option if you struggle to find concealers light enough for your skintone, or for those with oily skin who often find it creases or slides as the day goes on. Have you ever used supermarket make-up?


Saturday, 6 August 2016

Review | Nailbox.co.uk*

One of the more exciting things about starting my new job is the fact that I can wear nail polish - I love painting my nails, so I'm really pleased to be able to get my nail polishes out again! So it was perfect timing when Nailbox.co.uk offered to send me out their July box* to try... It seems like there's a subscription for everything these days, so why should nail polish be any different?
Each Nailbox has a theme, with July's theme being 'Paradise'; in each box you'll receive three or four nail polishes from brands like Nails Inc, China Glaze, Orly and Rimmel, as well as one or two nail tools or treatments. So let's have a little look at what the Paradise box had to offer! Here's what Nailbox have to say: "Take a little time out to relax and be at one with yourself! And of course your nail polish! We hope you ♥ this paradise box, full of colours from the most idyllic beach scene. Nails Inc for the sea, True Brit for the sandy beach, Angelica for those fluffy white clouds - not forgetting the NAILBERRY nailbalm, for the scent of freshly cracked coconuts."
So, alongside the pink Brushworks Toe Separators and 6g jar of NAILBERRY Nail Balm (£12 here) which, I'd just like to add, smells incredible, I received three full-sized nail polishes.
True Brit isn't a brand I'm familiar with and to be honest, 'The Summer House' probably isn't a shade I'll use a huge amount - but I can see how it fits the theme and it does have a very pretty shimmer running through it (£12.50 here). I also love the super-sparkly box it came in!
A good white is always handy to have in your collection, but whites can often be streaky, uneven and difficult to work with - I've only swatched Angelica's 'Snow White' so far, but it seems like a winner to me, going on smoothly and evenly, and opaque in two coats. I actually can't believe the price of this polish to buy, I hadn't realised how affordable Angelica are! (£2.75).
The stand-out winner of the box for me, though, is the Nails Inc Gel Effect Polish in 'Soho Place' which is a gorgeous striking teal-blue; this is one I'll wear a lot! It'd be lovely on both fingers or toes, and it's the perfect shade for summer (£14 here).
I put the value of July's box at £41.25 (excluding the toe separators) so you're more than getting your money's worth! August's theme is 'Into The Sunset' which sounds just gorgeous. Would you subscribe to a service like this? What do you think of the 'Paradise' box?

[*Product provided for consideration.]

Thursday, 4 August 2016

#BeautiesOnFire Week Three | Disney Princesses

Unpopular opinion time; I don't like Disney. As a child, I found the animal-based stories traumatic (who shows The Lion King to a child?! Bambi!?) and the princess-based ones frankly insulting (I need a prince to rescue me?! Well bugger that for a lark), and to be honest not much has changed. I know Disney princesses these days are a bit tougher and more able to stand up for themselves, or at least that's what I hear - I haven't actually seen Frozen or Tangled - but I still have the underlying issue that I also hate musicals. I know, I'm a terrible blogger.
Anyway, the people have spoken in our Twitter poll, and this week's theme for the #BeautiesOnFire collab is Disney Princesses, so I guess I'll have to go with that, just this once... In my own way of course! [If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out my intro to the #BeautiesOnFire collab, and my previous posts.] I decided I'd go with a villain rather than a Princess, and my favourite villain is, without a doubt, the wicked Queen from Snow White - I think I was on her side to be honest!
I've not had a whole lot of time to spare over the last few days, so I decided to go with a super-quick "inspired-by" make-up look which I threw on yesterday evening in about ten minutes, without even taking off my make-up from work. Actually all I did was my eyeshadow and add an extra coat of mascara... So we'll call this a wearable eye make-up look inspired by Queen Grimhilde, shall we?!
I started by priming my eyelids with a pink-purple cream eyeshadow from Models Own [side note; why am I, all of a sudden, rediscovering old, discontinued Models Own products!?] all over the lids, before patting on the purple shade from this gorgeous baked eyeshadow duo by Laura Geller. I then just deepened up the outer third and the crease with the two purple shades from this MUA baked eyeshadow trio, blended the whole lot out, and piled on a couple of extra coats of mascara. Ta-dah!
I actually really like how this turned out, it's simple and wearable but it does still remind me of Grimhilde. What do you think? Which Princess (or villain!) would you choose for a Disney-inspired look? I'll add in the link-up below so you can check out all the other #BeautiesOnFire posts, and don't forget to take a peek at Elisabeth's post here! You can find all the details from Elisabeth's original post here!



    An InLinkz Link-up

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Hello August!

Wow. August. I have a strong suspicion this month is going to be exhausting! I've finally started my new job (yesterday! Who knew criminal records checks could take so long!?) and I think it's going to take me a while to get back into the swing of things, what with having had three weeks off between leaving my old job and being able to start this one... Anyway, all that aside, I'm still setting myself a few goals for the month, so let's have a look at what I've got planned!
Complete Total Warrior in 90 minutes or less. This is an ambitious target, and I know it! I'm entered in the 10km wave and have been running that distance in just over an hour, but that's before you take into consideration the obstacles and how hilly the course is. We'll see. I know I'm fitter than I have ever been so hopefully, if I push myself, I will be able to achieve this one!
Keep running even after Warrior. Last year, I completed Total Warrior and then didn't run again for months. I'd like to not do that this time around, and try to keep my fitness up as much as possible. I'm hoping to still be able to fit in three runs a week around work, so that's my aim.
See friends at least twice. August is going to be a busy month for me so I know I'll need to make a conscious effort to take time out and catch up with people I care about.
Spend as little as possible. I'm not setting myself a concrete goal for my overdraft this month (as I have been doing lately), because I didn't really get paid in July and I've just had to pay for car insurance, but I'd like to minimise the damage as far as possible! I'll be trying not to spend on unnecessary things, which hopefully I won't have time to do anyway...
Catch a Jigglypuff. They're elusive little so-and-sos! I don't even know why I want one so much but I'm reaching borderline obsession-level with its little pink face. I came so close to catching one at my boyfriend's (yes, I made him go out to catch Pokémon with me) last month, but this month Jigglypuff will be miiiiiiiiine!!
You can see how I got on with my goals for July here, and if you're wondering how to set goals for yourself, I shared some tips on how to set goals and achieve them so do go and have a read of that! What have you got planned for August? I'd love to hear if you're setting yourself any goals!

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