Tag: Favorites

Five Things I Loved in January

You’d be so lean, that blasts of January
Would blow you through and through.
-William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale

I swear that time is speeding up, but we’re already at the end of the first month of 2018 so it’s time to check in with a few of the things that made me happy this month. Don’t forget to share your favorite things this month in the comments!

Shearling Slippers
My journey towards being a style granny before 40 continues apace! One of downsides of our apartment is that the window’s aren’t double glazed, meaning that we have subpar insulation. We make the frugal call to keep our apartment cooler in the winter than most other people as well, and choose to layer up clothing and use throws and blankets to keep warm when lounging rather than turning up the temperature. Meaning that my feet freeze! Also, after a day in work heels, I’ve found hardwood floors and cold tiles are not easy on my feet. Like I said, granny. My remedy has been a pair of thick shearling slippers that I pop into almost the moment I walk in the door. There are all kinds of designer or branded choices out there…skip them all. Find something sensibly priced on Amazon.co.uk the way I did and remember that the only person who’s going to see you in them are the partners or flatmates who are contractually obliged to like or tolerate you!

The Good Place
After consuming a lot of heavy media over the past few months (and that’s apart from the news!) I was desperate for something bright, funny, and light on the brain. The Good Place is a great series about four people not quite getting what they expected out of the afterlife. To say anything more than that gives way too much away, but if you’re looking for charming entertainment, I can highly recommend this comedy.

We Were Eight Years in Power, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Annnnndddd on the other end of the spectrum… I’m finishing up this audiobook as I put this post together and it’s been a sucker punch. Coates documents the Obama years from the perspective of a black man witnessing the culmination (in his perspective) of a history of racial animus in thwarted hope and a swift swing towards backlash. Presented as a series of essays some of which were first published in The Atlantic and some unique to the book, he looks at the history of black America, his own rise as a prominent writer, and the conflicts between patriotism and contempt communities feel for their country based on their experiences. This is not a book that will make you feel comfortable, especially if you are a white American of any political persuasion at all, which is probably why a lot of people should read it.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Eyshadow Palette
I’ve owned this palette for months, but have been using it almost exclusively this January and have actually used up an entire shadow recently, something I’ve not managed to accomplish in a while. This is a beautiful palette if you like warm toned shades and a lot of the individual colors may look shocking in the pan, but can be very wearable day-to-day if you use them right. The beauty market is currently oversaturated with warm toned palettes and shades, but this baby was the one that really got the trend started, and for a good reason. I’ve got a goal to use up makeup this year rather than buy more, and it’s nice to start out with an empty pan!

The Indicator, by NPR
From the same people who created Planet Money (the podcast that really helped explain to a young millennial what exactly had happened to the economy around me), this is a short, daily podcast that takes one item from the day’s news–usually a number and somewhat obscure–and dives into why that fact or figure is important or significant. It’s a nice little burst of facts!

Five Things I Loved in December

“What should we speak of
When we are old as you? when we shall hear
The rain and wind beat dark December? how,
In this our pinching cave, shall we discourse
The freezing hours away?…”
~William Shakespeare, Cymbeline 

There are two great themes to this month’s favorites and they are diametrically opposed: comfort and glam. So be it. It’s December when we vacillate between parties and hibernation, effort and laziness, being extra and being tired. So here is the list of things that got me through all the slings and arrows of the holiday season!

Flannel Pajama Bottoms
It’s the time of year that requires comfy and warm loungewear. A couple of years ago I wore out and ripped a trusty pair of flannel pajama bottoms and I simply never got around to replacing them. More fool me. I finally got another pair this winter and I believe that last winter I suffered unnecessarily without them. Joules has some excellent options for those inclined to traditional and British styles.

 

Estee Lauder x Victoria Beckham Cheek Cream in Blonde Mink
Ok, ok so I technically said I wasn’t going to buy anything from this collection. I caved, I was weak, sue me. And I actually regret nothing because I’ve been wearing this stuff every day for over a month now and I absolutely adore it. Late to the game as always, I am discovering only in my 30s why so many women wear brown or nude blushes rather than more vivid colors. It’s a great idea. I may not have Posh’s cut glass features, but this stuff allows me to pretend like I do and that’s quite enough!

 

& Other Stories Wrap Dress
I haven’t needed much less bought a party dress in ages, but this year it turned out that I had quite a few December bashes to attend. It was an excellent excuse for a new frock! This dress from & Other Stories is an absolute beauty and made this short girl look like she has legs for days. As a bonus, it also feels like a decent substitute for this completely gorgeous and completely out of all mere mortalss price range Ganni dress which I also feel in love with earlier this year. Perfect! I expect this dress to live in my closet for several years to come, goodness knows it’s already earning its keep.

 

Abel & Cole
2017 was the year I discovered grocery delivery services and I will never, ever look back. I don’t regret our loss of car one whit since moving to London, but it would be a lie to say that it wouldn’t make some things simpler. Like grocery shopping. If we were better organised, more disciplined, or frankly didn’t work some ridiculous hours, we might try to do more frequent smaller shopping trips…but as none of those things are the case, we tend to still do big shops and end up with a bit more to carry home than we’d often like. Meaning that the ability to order my groceries online and have a helpful and friendly delivery person cart them straight to my door has been downright revolutionary, if occasionally pricey. This month, though, I feel like I found the healthy medium. I signed up for weekly delivery of a box of seasonal produce and a box of fish/meat. With the big things auto scheduled for me the occasional store run is now a much smaller and less heavy proposition.

 

Patch
This year I was determined to have an actual, proper Christmas tree for the first time in nearly a decade of married life. We’ve been the lucky recipients of family members’ generosity for almost every holiday season but one, and for that I got a tiny little fir in a pot to make due. Not this year, I wanted a British style Christmas tree and nothing was going to dissuade me. Like unto groceries, I wanted easy so I used Patch to order our Christmas tree, including a stand, and also schedule a handy collection after the holiday so we don’t have to drag a full sized tree down the road to the rubbish bins. Patch is a online garden shop specializing in plants for the urban dweller and were I not poor, they would take a lot more of my money. I have grand ambitions for them in the new year, however, as our front room continues to come together!

2017 in Review: Best of Books

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” 
― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

I’m on track to meet my goal of reading 100 books in a year again! I’ve been a voracious reader since childhood, but the truth is that my reading habits came tinged with both a little bit of snobbery and shame–both the product of a religious upbringing and a genuine desire to be an intelligent, well-read human. I didn’t like to admit how many romances, murder mysteries, chick lit, and easy reads I took in, even though I’ve always read “serious” novels and nonfiction in large quantities.

A couple of years ago I said to hell with it and have tried to document every book I’ve devoured on Goodreads just for the pleasure of keeping a list. I read everything. And more lately I’ve given myself permission to stop reading things I genuinely dislike (or actively hate; to this day I still grudge the hours I spent forcing myself to finish a novel in 2014). The result is unadulterated pleasure in books, and lot’s of ’em.

Favorite Young Adult: The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
A stunning debut novel about race and the fractured personal experiences that make up our collective cultural psyche.

Favorite Guilty Pleasure: The Crazy Rich Asian Trilogy, by Kevin Kwan
This series tells an over the top romp of a story of intertwined families, wealth, and outrageous privilege. The first books is apparently being turned into an upcoming film and I cannot wait!

Favorite New Author: Bill Bryson
He’s been around for yonks but I hadn’t read him until this year and swallowed four of his books in quick succession. His tone is delightful!

Favorite Memoir: The Princess Diarist, by Carrie Fisher
In the words of Lin Manuel Miranda, “Here comes the general, rise up!”

Favorite Romance: The Duchess Deal, by Tessa Dare
She’s one of my favorite romance authors and in her deft hands, the old Beauty and the Beast tropes are re-rendered in a fun and interesting way.

Favorite Nonfiction: After the Prophet, by Leslie Hazelton
A historical telling of the early tensions and schisms of Islam which have continued through to today.

Favorite Novel: The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters
I’m ranking this category by most “successful” on me personally. This book is a slow paced, English country house mystery/horror novel in which there are no monsters or gore, and as far as I recall no murders. Jeff still came home late one night to find me wrapped in blankets, on the sofa, with every light in the house on because the ending was so unnerving and scary. This book, alongside Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft are my highest reviewed reads of the year.

What were your favorite, or indeed most loathed, tomes of this year?

2017 In Review: Best of Beauty

“When I arrived in America, I had these very dark red nails which some people objected to, but then some people object to absolutely everything.”
– Diana Vreeland 

It’s that time again, when we recap the year that was. I’ve been re-reading my weekly links round ups, my monthly favorites posts, and some of the posts I’ve enjoyed writing the most this past year. Like unto 2016 before it, 2017 has been a bit of a doozy with a lot of ups and downs to document, but the truth is in many ways, it’s been a banner year for me personally. I’m very grateful for this and I don’t take it for granted.

So I though, why not document a few of my favorite things from this past year!

My style and consumerism month-long blog project was a favorite project in 2017, so from a girl who has played with a lot of makeup and skincare this year, here’s my list of current favorite products on the market.

Best Foundation: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

Best Blush: Nars

Best Powder: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder (I use the shade Dim)

Best Highlighter: Estee Lauder x Victoria Beckham Modern Mercury

Best Concealer: Glossier Stretch Concealer

Best Eyeshadow Palette: Anastasia Beverly Hill Modern Renaissance

Best Eyeliner: Tom Ford Eye Pen

Best Mascara: Maybelline Full ‘N Soft

Best Brow Product: Glossier Boy Brow

Best Lipstick: Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche for bullet lipsticks, Kat von D for liquid lipstick, Nars Velvet Matte for pencil/crayon formula

Best Lip Balm: Kiehl’s Facial Fuel No Shine Moisturizing Lip Balm

Best Cleanser: Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel for balm formula, Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser for an easy clean

Best Oil: Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate

Best Serum: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2%  B5

Best Skin Treatment: Sunday Riley Good Genes

Best Sunscreen: Thank You Farmer Sun Project Water Sun Cream

Five Things I Loved In November

“LONDON. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather.”
– Charles Dickens, Bleak House

November was kind of an awful month in a pretty awful year, news-wise and the first couple of days of December don’t make me feel much better or safer. But there were still good things to celebrate which should be celebrated so here is my monthly round of up what I loved last month both petty and profound. Share what you loved in November in the comments, with links if you can! Let’s spread some of the good things around.

 

Glossier You
My fangirling for this brand is a matter of public record, but their new perfume is truly gorgeous. It’s by no means the longest lasting fragrance I’ve ever tried or owned, but I have gotten compliments every single time I’ve worn it. The concept is that it’s based on traditional basenotes so that all the scents adhere to the wearer’s skin; there are topnotes but they are a nice break from all the floral and sweet stuff out there.

 

Alias Grace, on Netflix
This show is aggressively female and doesn’t flinch away from the fact. Unreliable narrator or no (and boy is the main character unreliable), it is fascinating to watch men in the story interact with her. They dismiss her, analyse her, abuse her, sexualize her, medicalize her, mistrust her, believe her…but are they really listening to her, or do they all just hear what they want to? The narrative is shown through her conversations with a doctor in the early days of psychology trying to figure out if the main character is guilty of the murder for which she’s been convicted or just a very good liar. No one in this story comes off a hero and you’re never sure who you are supposed to being rooting for.

 

Pat McGrath Lust 004 Lip Kit in Venom
This is old hat and was a limited edition purchase from a year ago, but I’ve been using the darker Venom matte lipstick from Pat McGrath almost daily this past month. There’s something about the weather turning cold that calls for gold eyeshadow and devil-dark lips to me. PmG has launched a permanent makeup line since that I enjoy looking at from afar (the Sublime palette in particular) but genuinely cringe at when I consider the prices. I’ll stick with a dangerous looking lipstick for now!

 

Best Friends
I have two BFFs, both of whom I’ve known for nearly 20 years. They are very different woman, but both entirely necessary to my happiness and I’m privileged to have them in my life. One of them is basically my adopted older sister and we have been watching out for one another for two decades now with no signs of stopping. She was able to come visit for Thanksgiving this year with her boyfriend and it was one of the highlights of my year. A lot of bad news went down while she was visiting but, much as it was when we were 13 years old, just being around each other made it a bit easier to bear and it was good knowing someone was in our respective corners.

 

Thanksgiving
I love this holiday. I love the food, I love the spirit of gratitude it’s meant to engender and celebrate, I love the notion of gathering with friends and family…and again, I love the food. It was wonderful to have friends in town to celebrate it with this year. We did our usual thing of heading to The Mayflower pub for dinner before a night out on the town and stay up until the wee hours talking about life, the universe, and everything.

Five Things I Loved in October

“October proved a riot a riot to the senses and climaxed those giddy last weeks before Halloween.”
― Keith Donohue

It’s Halloween tomorrow, kittens! But before we go off to frolic (or indeed go home early like the responsible adults we are, blast it) let’s quickly discuss some of the things we loved this month. The weather may be growing chilly and the news may continue to vex, but pop culture and seasonal cuisine will get us through! Here are the things I loved this month, tell me what caught your eye or tickled your fancy in the comments.

Mindhunter, by Netflix
There are no two ways about it, this series is dark. It is loosely based in fact and tells the story of an FBI agent who spearheads a change in the bureau’s investigative tactics and mission. At a time when psychology is considered wishy washy by most agents, the main character has an idea: what if they interview serial killers (the worst of the worst) to build a profile of this “new” kind of criminal. And his research subject may be starting to rub off on him… The subject matter is rough–really rough–and this definitely isn’t for everyone, but I downed the series in a single sitting.

 

Mac matte lipstick in Chili
The weather is chilly and the sweaters are cozy. And I, dear reader? I am breaking out the matte lipstick in rich and darker shades. This lipstick shade is an oldie but a goodie and is honestly the kind of warm toned red that could look good on all skin tones–in a non bullshit kind of way. I heartily recommend if you’re looking with something with pigment payoff in an autumnal shade of rouge!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman
I loved this debut novel by Gale Honeyman, set in Edinbugh and featuring the eponymous Eleanor Oliphant: a deeply socially awkward woman who lives a solitary life, for what turns out to be very understandable reasons. This character was so skillfully written. She is abrasive, odd, a bit self destructive, and pathologically out of step with her fellow men, and yet your sympathy and understanding remains firmly with her throughout the book. As more and more of her story is revealed and the full picture comes into focus, we follow her as she slowly begins to engage more “normally” with the world, and yet she remains solidly herself in a way that is refreshingly unapologetic and atypical. I didn’t love the final “twist” of the book, I have to say, but I enjoyed every other aspect of this book so tremendously that I could overlook a bit of a hiccup.

 

Barbour Jacket
British based kittens, high thee to CountryAttire.com! Jeff and I finally snagged our much desired Barbour jackets at a lovely price. Mine was this two toned beauty which I’ve worn pretty much every day since finding, but their overall selection is very, very good. If you’re looking to get in touch with your inner country gent or grande dame, go forth and frolic through the offerings.

 

Soup Season 
It had been an age since I made a proper pot of soup, but I’ve made both butternut squash and coconut soup, and good old fashioned leek and potato in the same week and it’s been so damn satisfying. When fall comes around, there is little better than soup with toasted bread and cheese for a meal. Here’s a pin board of my favorite recipes for your enjoyment, but I’m always looking for recommendations. Hit me up in the comments!

Five Things I Loved in September

“O love, turn from the changing sea and gaze,
Down these grey slopes, upon the year grown old,
A-dying ‘mid the autumn-scented haze…
― October, by William Morris

It’s October! Time to break out the cashmere and boots!

Okay, it may be my favorite time of year, but we still need to salute the good things of the month just gone, so here’s a short list of things that brought me joy in September.

MakeupRehab Reddit
I discovered this subreddit a while ago, but have only really got involved in in over the past couple of months. It’s a community for people who love all things beauty but may have lost control of their spending habits, fallen for the marketing hype on sub par products, and generally want to be smarter consumers. It’s a fun platform for talking about budgeting and critical consumerism, all through the lens of blush and eye shadow, and all based on mutual information and encouragement. Of course I loved it! A real focus is not shopping for shopping’s sake, which I gravitated to immediately. As a self described beauty junkie (you know how many lipsticks I own…) I’ve been thinking a lot about my beauty consumer ever since my Style Month project–which as you may remember, included a week dedicated to makeup and my bathroom shelf. Well, I’m still a beauty junkie, but reading and participating this subreddit has helped inspire a number of style goals and personal challenges, and encouraged me to use what I own in smarter and more proactive ways. My use-it-up challenge was inspired by a post I read here and I’m on track to deliver a positive report come Halloween! My year of “less but better” rolls on.

 

Looks basic in the pan, looks unbelievably natural and pretty on the skin.

Cargo Blush, in Tonga
Speaking of makeup! After using my Cargo blush in Tonga exclusively for weeks, I got the thrill of hitting pan on it–something I haven’t done on a powder makeup product in a long time. So satisfying.

 

So smug. So unapologetic.

Vintage shopping
An evergreen topic, but this month I finally found something I’ve been looking for for nearly two years: a vintage military style jacket that made me look like I was on a campaign to invade Russia in the 19th century. I found it, and I found it in a deep green. My Cossack Pirate came through yet again!

 

The First White President, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
This already made it into a weekly favorites, but I’m signal boosting again because this longform essay has had me in its grip ever since I read it. As mentioned, I’m one of those ignorant fools who honestly believed we as a country had made more progress on race than it’s being revealed we have. This POV was utterly down to privilege I didn’t understand or realize I possessed and ignorance of the lives and lived realities of my countrymen. Shame on me, and shame on lots of us.

 

Travel
Jeff and I have been married for the better part of a decade, but have taken almost no holidays that involve just the two of us. Normally we travel with or to see family, occasionally we travel (with great pleasure!) with friends, but almost never alone. Seeing family is of course wonderful, but family can come with unique stresses that mean that visits aren’t always relaxing, and we live very far away from our mutual clans which means that’s seeing them usually involves an exhausting, multi-timezone slog that also diminishes rest and recharging. When we are with friends, we tend to want to milk enjoyment out of everything and so throw ourselves into food, fun, and exploration. Traveling alone meant that we were able to do only what we enjoyed and wanted to do, at the pace we wished. It was glorious. We’re already planning our next trip.