Saturday, 31 January 2015

January Favourites

I've decided to (finally) join the monthly favourites bandwagon, so I can let you guys know what I've been loving as of late! Maybe I'll regret this next month if I'm uninspired and run down with college work - but future Claire can deal with that! For now, here's my favourites from January (read: what I got for Christmas!):

Well well well, what do we have here then? I hear literally no one you ask. I'll tell ya! There's sweet lil' notebooks, tongue-in-cheek non-fiction and a retro camera. Let's look and these bits and bobs in more detail...

Fujifilm Instax Wide 210

This little gem is an instant camera, gifted to me from my parents. It's safe to say that I'm a little bit in love with it! Since I unwrapped it on Christmas day, it was always going to be a favourite for the month of January... Even if my mum thought I was reverting back to the last century with this type of film camera. Although, this isn't a Polaroid, it's a Fujifilm instant camera, which are new and currently in production, so finding film for it is no big deal.

In the age of Instagram, I suppose it's a reasonable question to ask why you would want an instant camera, especially since the film isn't exactly cheap. But when I took the camera out at a recent party, I found that it deserved its place in my camera collection. The whole act of pressing the clunky shutter, eyes burning from the obnoxiously bright flash, and speculating what the photo will look like as it slowly develops in your hands... It's a little bit magical and a whole lot of fun! Plus, it meant that the partygoers all went away with a little token from the night. Anyway, how many of the iPhone photos taken that night are going to even get printed? I'd hazard a guess that it's a big fat zero. So yes, there is a place for film in our digital society - and I'm not afraid to declare my love for it!

Today I styled a photoshoot, and having this camera was such a great way to get some artistic pics as the day of the shoot went on! I'll be scanning them and popping them up on the blog soon so you can see what I mean!

Cath Kidston Notebooks

What can I say? These vintage-looking notebooks are me all over. I've been using one to note down blog post ideas, so naturally I've been getting a lot of use out of that. The other one I use to budget. Let me tell you, never have I been so excited to calculate my incomings and outgoings! Gotta love a quirky-cute Cath Kidston item. What's more, my mum actually found these at Easons, so she got them for a little bit cheaper than she would have if she went to the dedicated Cath Kidston store.

How to be Parisian Whereever You Are

I've got quite a few books on the go at the moment, but I thought I'd give this one a shout out in particular. It bet the others to be my January favourite because of its lovely cover, and if there's one thing I've learnt in life it's that you should always judge a book by its cover... Oh no, that's not right is it? But, in a way, it kind of is. I am always browsing bookshops, and if the cover doesn't catch my eye, I wander right on past. Why would I want a book that makes my collection just a bit uglier? I want excellent content and pretty covers goddamn it. Have cake. Eat it. Too.

Okay, so there's more to this book than cute illustrations and typography. It's a witty look at the Parisian spirit with advice to channel your own Parisian babe. I use the term 'advice' lightly, of course, as it's more of a comment on the essence of their undeniably chic attitude. In reality, I dislike coffee and like colourful clothes too much to ever truly emulate Parisian style... But a sprinkling of the style couldn't hurt. Regardless, it's a lovely little coffee table book that I've been enjoying this month.

That's what I've been loving this month! All of them were Christmas gifts so god knows what I'll do for next month's instalment! No doubt you'll see these items pop up again on the blog - especially the instant camera and pics using it. Can't wait to share the film shots I got from the photoshoot today!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

One Happy Change: Green Tea Edition

This year, I'm all about making positive changes on a regular basis. Thus, I'll be making One Happy Change every month for the next 12, in the hope of making the changes into a bona fide habits. The exact number of days it takes to form a habit is disputed, pop-psychology suggests it's 21 days but other sources suggest that it's closer to three months. Having said this, I feel that one month should be long enough to at least get me started! My plan is to build up enough momentum, in one month, that I'll bring my healthy habit with me throughout the rest of the year. So by 2016 I'll be content in the knowledge that I've bettered myself in no less than 12 ways! God, listen to me, I am definitely reading too many self-help books...

Anyway, that's the reasoning behind this feature! Now onto the change! I've kicked off with something super simple: Drink one cup of green tea a day. As you may know, I'm on a quest for clear skin, and I've heard time and time again that green tea equals a clear complexion. So why not give it a go for myself?

Green TeaCarolyn Donnelly (for Dunnes Stores) Cup of Green Tea

Health benefits of drinking green tea: It's full of antioxidants, studies suggest that it may reduce the risk of developing various kinds of cancer, studies have shown that it may help keep skin looking young and clear

Before this month, I wouldn't drink any sort of tea. Quite surprising, since I live in a country that is full to the brim with tea drinkers! But, now that I'm drinking green tea regularly, I can't believe it's taken me this long! I love the whole process of making a cuppa in the morning, settling down with a book or scrolling my Instagram feed, and sipping on a hot beverage - it's just such relaxing way to wake myself up! As for the taste? A lot of people say they don't like it, but once you have it a few times you acquire a taste for it. Plus, you can buy flavoured tea or add a squeeze of lemon, so there's no excuse not to try it out.

Cup of Green Tea

Well then, that's my happy change for the month! The jury's out when it comes to my skin. I'm trying so many different things to get a crystal clear complexion that it's hard to track what's making a difference. But since there's so many benefits associated with green tea, I can't see any reason to stop my new habit. Be sure to tell me how your New Year's resolutions or general goals are coming along! Or let me know if you're a fellow green tea drinker!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Othello OOTD

Shirt and Shorts: New Look // Shoes: Penneys // Bag: Accessorize

Today's post is titled Othello OOTD, but it's not because I decided to dress all Shakespearean - though that would have been cool! Rather, this is the outfit I wore to UCD's adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello. Those of you in Ireland doing the Leaving Cert will know the text all too well, since it's the compulsory play for the 2015 exam paper. It wasn't a study session for me, thankfully those days are behind me... Instead, I was checking it out because my friend Fiona produced it. Any excuse for an evening out, eh?

Shakespeare, you do have a way with words don't you? It's been four years since I was immersed in the world of Hamlet for my school exams, so for the first hour I was pretty lost to the Shakespearean English. It's pure gibberish if you haven't quite tuned in. Having said that, once the second act began, I truly got into it. Suddenly I understood every word: no hath, dost nor prithee could stump me. Marry, thou could say I picked up the lingo myself! Ahem. I'll stop that now.

Anyway, how have I nattered on for this long without mentioning this flipping-amazing camera bag?! Anyone who knows me, through this blog or in person, knows that I love photography and cute cameras to boot, so I was always going to adore this novelty bag. Luckily, my mum has a keen eye for gifts and bought it for me as a Christmas present. I'm obsessed with it... I may have known that I would be sporting this bag long before I knew what the hell I would be wearing with it! In the end, I decided to give my new shorts a spin. Let me know what you think of the outfit (and bag!) in the comments!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

My 3 Go-To, Guilt-Free Snacks

Recently, I've been making a conscious decision to make healthier choices when it comes to stuffing my gob. I'm determined to make healthy eating a permanent change, rather than just a post-Christmas whim. Realistically, I'm not going to be able to stick to it if I restrict myself to nothing but undressed salad, day and night. Anyway, where's the joy in that? Plus, I am such a grazer, cutting down on the snacking was simply not an option. So, in my quest for a healthy lifestyle, I've been experimenting with creating my own healthy snacks. Read on to see what I've been gnawing on lately...

As some of you may know, I'm cutting dairy out of my diet in a bid to lessen my acne woes. Problem is: I have quite the chocolate addiction. Instead of going cold turkey, I've started eating dark chocolate to satisfy my cravings. Dark chocolate can be pretty bitter, so I wouldn't necessarily eat a whole bar of the stuff as I would with the milk version. Hence, popcorn with a drizzling of dark chocolate has been my snack of choice. It's perfect for when I'm a hungry and a single square of dark chocolate on its own won't do. I find that this works best with lightly salted popcorn, or plain popcorn if you want to be super healthy.

Popcorn Drizzled with Dark Chocolate Lindt 85% Dark Chocolate

Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate: Helps fend off diabetes, helps prevent heart disease, helps lowers blood pressure.

Next is for a ridiculously obvious one, but it couldn't be excluded since it's the ultimate guilt-free snack. It's my favourite food to quieten a rumbling belly when doing uni assignments. I am, of course, talking about hummus and *insert dipper of choice here*! My choice, as you can see, would be carrot sticks or multigrain crispbread. For convenience I buy it ready made, but I hear that it's very easy and cheap to make so I might have to give that a go!

Health Benefits of Hummus: Helps lower cholesterol, great source of protein.

Since I'm steering clear of dairy, I actually opt for a yogurt alternative by Alpro, but this will work with greek yogurt or regular yogurt too. I'll add frozen blueberries and a sprinkling of milled flaxseed to make it particularly delicious and filling. Milled superfoods are one of the more expensive products in my shopping basket, but it's worth forking out the extra euros when they have such great health benefits. Also, I love the texture they give yogurts when mixed in.

Health Benefits of Flaxseed: Great source of fiber, great source of omega-3.

I hope I've provided some inspiration for those of you with healthy eating resolutions for 2015! Let me know if you have any suggestions for healthy snacking... I'm always eating so I'm always in need of new food inspiration!

Monday, 12 January 2015

Day Trip to Belfast: The Look, Food & Finds

Over the weekend, I popped over to Belfast with my bestie Alan, for his birthday. Drinks were had, bargains were found and too much food was eaten. But first up, what I wore...

Sketch of What I Wore to Belfast

The weather was... Ok-aaay. The rain held off, and there was even a glimpse of the sun every now-and-then. Unfortunately, this didn't translate into a warm temperature. Every few moments there was a strong and chilly gust of wind, so taking off my coat for an outfit photograph was out of the picture. But since I really liked my ensemble, I thought I'd power on and share what I wore by drawing it in Photoshop! Excuse the sketch below, I need (a lot of) practice, I know. Anyway, I wore a cute little tartan top I got from New Look, which just screams Clueless. I paired it with the velvet skirt, which I wear all the time.

For lunch we stopped off at Love and Death Inc., an eatery near Victoria Square Shopping Centre. This place ticked all the boxes for me with a quirky interior, generous portion sizes and an impressive cocktail list.

Speaking of the cocktails, can I just point out that the picture to the left is of the comic book inspired drinks menu, AKA the Cocktail Chronicles. How cool is that? If you ever visit, make sure to have a nosey through the cocktail menu. That holds even if you don't drink - it's worth a flick through and there's some mocktails that might take your fancy! And for those looking for a big night out: Inside the menu, there's a game of snakes and ladders that you can play. The forfeit for sliding down a snake? A shot of alcohol, of course! I ordered the Origins cocktail to go with my meal. My rum, pomegranate and lime juice concoction came decorated with a little tea bag filled with pomegranate seeds, and, yes, it was as delicious as it looks.

Well fed and watered, Alan and I tackled the shops. I was lucky enough to nab a few bargains, like the golden jacket I picked up from a vintage store for £18. Not super cheap, but a reasonable price to pay since I know I'll be wearing it a lot, probably over some variation of the Little Black Dress. As for the cute musical note shorts, I found them in River Island for a tenner!

For a mere £3 I took home this little book, sure to fuel my creative side, 642 Fashion Things to Draw. Hopefully, after some practice in this workbook, I'll be able to draw a less wobbly OOTD sketch!

And that, my friends, was my day in Belfast. I love that I live close to the city, so I can pop over and visit for a few hours, and be back for bedtime. Having said that, I hear the nightlife there is great, so maybe next time I should stay the night!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

My Pamper Routine

Over the weekend, I was in dire need of a pick-me-up. All the bad food and alcoholic beverages consumed over the festive period made for a post-Christmas slump of unbearable proportions. So I treated myself to a much needed pamper session. I thought I'd share my pamper routine with you all, which is fail-proof in making me feel utterly relaxed and content.

Bath and Ted Baker Candle Ted Baker Bath Foam

No pamper routine is complete without ambient lighting, so the first thing I did was light my candles, like this scented Ted Baker one. As the water runs, I'll add the Ted Baker Bath Foam to add some essential bubbles into the mix. I quite like Ted Baker, did you notice? I'm thrilled that I was given some gorgeous Ted Baker beauty bits and bobs, including the Beau Box, which has body lotion, shower gel, bath foam and body spray, a perfect set for nights like these.

NSPA Cleansing Gel NSPA Spa Skincare Box

As the bath is running, I'll take off the day's make up using the first step from the NSPA Spa Skincare Box. Next, is step 2 (obviously) where I apply the Hot Cloth Polish before wiping it off, gently, with the muslin cloth. This helps get rid of any dead skin. I substitute step 3 of the Skincare Box with Acnecide, which is less of a pamper product and more of a necessity to tame my spotty skin. I'll chat about Acnecide in more detail in a future skincare routine post, because it's been pretty useful in combatting my acne. After applying it and letting it dry in I apply the moisturiser, the final step of the NSPA routine. By now my bath is full to the brim and I'm ready to hop in!

I'll read a magazine or book while I soak in the bath, and today's choice was a Lena Dunham's Not That Kind of Girl, which I, and judging by a lot of blogs, everyone else in the world, got for Christmas. I keep my hair tied up, out of the water, as washing my hair is simply too much hassle. This is a pamper routine so I'm entitled to be as lazy as can be!

Once I've sufficiently shrivelled (don't you just hate how hot water makes your fingertips akin to raisins?) I pat myself dry, use a touch of the Body Soufflé (the Ted Baker-pretentious way of saying body lotion) and get cosy in pyjamas. Thus far I've pretty much ignored my hair, so I'll give it a bit of attention by covering it in Umberto Giannini Overnight Beauty Moisture Balm, before curling up in bed with a soy hot chocolate (Butlers White Hot Chocolate, to be precise) and my book.

Content and seriously spoilt, I'll eventually drift off to sleep. And that, my lovelies, is my pamper routine.

Friday, 2 January 2015

NYE Ensemble

New Year's Dress, Blue with Sequins from Topshop
Dress: Topshop // Shoes: Topshop // Bag: Penneys // Bracelet: Unknown

I knew I was set to have a successful New Year's Eve when I happened upon a pretty little number in the sale section of Topshop. I snapped up this dress for only £20 (down from £65), and the shoes for £25. I completed the outfit with a random silver band I found in my room and my trusty feather bag. Altogether this outfit cost me less than £50... Which meant that I could purchase it all with a gift card I received for Christmas - sorted!

Topshop Silver Heels

I know a lot of people label New Year's Eve as overrated, but I always seem to have a good night welcoming the next year. It helps that I avoid crowded clubs at all costs... I'd rather head to a lounge or pub that's a little less crowded and a little more low-key. Not that my outfit was low-key in the slightest. But hey, there's no such thing as overdressed on New Year's Eve.

Blue Topshop Dress with Sequins and Beads White Christmas Tree Close Up