Monday, 31 December 2012

[BEAUTY] Why I failed the no-makeup challenge

A while ago I wrote about cutting down my makeup usage dramatically, in order to improve my complexion. Well, I lasted a grand total of 8 days!! Ahahaha. My plan was to only wear eye makeup, and give my face a break. 8 days was all it took to make me realise a few things:

Makeup is fun!

I sometimes feel like messing around with fashion, beauty and hair is the only creative outlet I have left. Working in science in a very technical role has decreased my artisticness so much in my opinion - I used to love art textiles at school, but I now lack the ability to come up with new ideas.  Makeup etc gives me a chance to play around with different colours and styles, and I love being able to build up from a blank canvas (my face!) and try out different looks.  Wearing mascara and eyeliner only was boring!! I missed contouring and shading and mixing up different colour combos.

Makeup gives me confidence!

I'm sure you don't need me to tell you about the self esteem boost a healthy dose of concealer gives. I was getting weary of everyone telling me how tired I looked by not concealing my dark shadows, and I was very aware of my red unconcealed nose!! Also, sometimes a gal just needs to peacock a bit and wear some vibrant eyeshadow and/or a bright lip.

So yes, I failed, but I have learnt from the experiment - my skin was very clear during the 8 days!! Although I have since only worn makeup on my eyes, cheeks and nose, I have started breaking out quite badly around my mouth?! I'm hoping its just my terrible Xmas diet that has done this!  Anyway, I want to have a few consecutive days a month where I go back to the bare minimum of mascara+eyeliner again, just to give my skin a break.

Tali xxx

Sunday, 30 December 2012

[MEMEME] What I Got For Xmas

Ok so I know what I said - that I didn't want to write about my Xmas pressures because I didn't want to sound materialistic or like I was bragging! However I have loved reading everyone else's posts on this subject, plus I want to share what I got - not to show off but because I am so excited about everything!! Please bear in mind that Christmas for me - this year and every year - is about spending time with my loved ones, gifts etc always come second to that :)

I guess my main present was what I'm writing on currently - my beautiful iPad! 

There's a funny story around this - my bf offered to get my one for Xmas to help with my PhD (so I could work from home and not be stuck reading papers on a laptop), but I changed my mind at the last minute as I prioritised a hair appointment!!!! Hahhaha, only me... Anyway, I ended up having major envy of Mike's parents' iPads, and was so gutted I had said no to getting one. So you can imagine the look on my face when I unwrapped it on Xmas morning! Priceless :) I'm so grateful for it and have been tapping away on it ever since.

Mike also got me....

£50 to spend at the MAC counter at Harvey Nicols, which I spent yesterday on this:

A Jamie Oliver 15 minute meal recipe book - I've been loving watching and/or trying out the recipes from the TV show :)

Lemon Bon Bons which I'm 100% hooked on (bai teeth) and the Warhorse DVD

Mike's family very kindly got me a £30 Next voucher, which I may put towards a certain pair of boots I've been eyeing up, and some lovely Avon eyeliners :)

My parents got me...

£50 to put towards a waterproof coat for when I go riding/help out at the stables. I went to Superdry yesterday and made a sneaky purchase:

(Disclaimer: Please ignore the messy background - towels etc!! Need to tidy my apartment stat!)

They also got me an umbrella that changes colour when it rains (how cool is that!!), and lots of choccies cos they know me too well.

My sister got me a lovely top (I'm wearing it in both pictures) and an aromatherapy massage voucher which I can't wait to spend!

My friends got me...

The Naked2 palette, Nails Inc polishes, beautiful candles, a gorgeous asymmetric hem skirt, Sleek eyeshadow palette and some Body Shop goodies

All in all I have been one spoilt girl! I appreciate everything so much, and can't wait to use everything :)

It's my birthday on Wednesday! I know that Mike is getting me riding lessons for a year (eeeeek!) for my present, and I also got my hair done yesterday which was another gift. 

All in all, I am so grateful for everything and for everyone in my life :)

Tali xxx

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

[LIFE] My Christmas

I'm writing this from my parents house, where I've been for the last 24 hours. I spent Xmas morning at my in-laws and then met my family at my grandpa's hospice and returned home with them :)

It was really nice sending the day with both of my families - I do see my boyfriend's parents as my second family! Dinner was yummy as always, and my presents were out of this world (I'm writing this from my shiny new iPad!) but I don't want to make this into a haul post as Christmas Day, for me anyway, was about spending quality time with my family, nothing else :)

Hope you all had a magical day - what did you end up doing yesterday?

Tali xxx

Monday, 24 December 2012

[LIFE] It's Christmas (eve)

I can't believe that it's Xmas eve already! This year has gone past so quickly, but I have so many great memories from it, and I feel I have learnt a lot over the last twelve months.  I'm sitting here at my in-law's house, watching Xmas movies and full to the brim of After Eights and Quality Streets! 'Tis the season ;)

We made the journey from Scotland yesterday, and arrived in Birmingham at about midday - pretty good going if you ask me! I'm spending up until about 11 o'clock on Christmas morning at Mike's folks before I go over and spend some quality time with my immediate family on Christmas day and Boxing Day.  It's been years since the four of us (me, my parents and my sister) have had a proper family Christmas as I've spent the last two in Scotland! So I'm really looking forward to it :) we don't get to spend time as a family very often, so it's going to be amazing.  

It is a bit of a strange time, as my grandpa is now in a hospice due to late-stage prostate cancer.  His wife, my nan, has been visiting him and worrying about him non-stop - but it seems that she hasn't looked after herself adequately and was admitted to hospital yesterday with severe pneumonia and pleurisy! I'm very close to them, and to see them both in care is heartbreaking, but it's SO sweet to see them both saying "I'm fine, I'm fine but how is he/she (delete as appropriate)??".  They've been together since they were 17, and don't want to live without the other.  

We have 2 massive knee-height bags full of presents at my in-law's!!!! I'm so excited and really hope that everybody likes what I got for them.  I can't wait to see what Mike got for me, as he always gets the most amazing presents ever, but swears that I will LOVE the gifts he has got for me more than anything ever before! Eeeeeeeep!

I have come a long way this year - I haven't had a mood episode for over a year now, and thanks to therapy I feel as though I know myself a lot better.  I'm truly excited for what 2013 has to bring! For me its going to be the Year of Fitness - I want to look after my body a lot more, and I'm going to take full advantage of the gym at my work (I didn't know it existed until a fortnight ago!) - especially now that I can go for free as a student! I can't wait to start my PhD in January! I'm getting the standard PhD jitters, but I know its going to be AWESOME.  I'll do a more indepth post reviewing 2012 and documenting my hopes for 2013 before NYE, but for now I'll leave you with best wishes for Christmas and the new year period!

What are your plans over the festive season?

Tali xxx

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

[HAIR] Ice ice baby!

So as I mentioned before, for my birthday I am getting my hair lightened, hopefully by quite a lot! My aim is to have it silvery white by spring, so I can wear it like that, or dress it up with pastel streaks.

My inspiration? These snow queen babes:

Tali xxx

Monday, 10 December 2012

[BEAUTY] No makeup on my face for a year? Challenge accepted.

I have literally no idea where this year has gone! Can't believe it is December/Christmastime already.  When did this happen, and where is my festive spirit?! I don't have a christmas tree up in my house (strike one), I have bought next to no presents (strike two) and I've decided not to go to my work's Xmas dinner because I'm just not feeling the christmassy vibe (GTFO).  

 SCROOGE!! But also, new fringe!!

So I mentioned a couple posts back (here) that I was sick to death of my skin being blemish-prone and ridiculously sensitive, and that I was going to set myself the challenge of not wearing makeup on my complexion (i.e. lips and eyes are ok, everything else strictly banned) for 12 months.  My ultimate aim is to get my skin back to a stage where I can put makeup and new products on it without it becoming overly-sensitised and just basically freaking out! 

Me sans makeup, other than a bit of liquid eyeliner and mascara :)

Well, this is my first update about how that is going .. which is quite frankly awesomely! I have had NO blemishes at all, and my skin seems to be settling down and reacting less to things like weather etc.  My rosacea is non existent too! Hurray.  My new wonder product is La Roche Posay Hydraphase UV Intense Light, which is making my skin naturally radiant without the need for any kind of coverage on my face at all!  The only problem I currently have is that this moisturiser burns my eyelids?! Like, they feel like they're on fire for about 10 minutes after applying it, and then start to peel (I am the sexiest person in the world, I know).  I've been using plain jojoba oil to moisturise the eye area, but I can no longer use it for reasons I don't want to go into I dropped the bottle lid in the toilet so had to throw it out lolololololol.  

I'm also starting to feel a lot more confident about my face without concealer, primer, foundation, powder etc etc - I'm starting to even prefer my skin to be natural, rather than caked in makeup (bad beauty blogger!).  I do really miss blush and highlighters, but I think getting my skin to a good standard is more important currently.  Anyway, who needs blusher when you can take a brisk walk?! Ha.  

Other than completely ignoring the fact that it's Christmas, I've been deliberating over my new hair colour.  I know I know, I'm obsessed, but seriously, I've been thinking about going lighter - like a honey/caramel kind of light brown, just so I could get it light enough to get lots of pastels running through it (its the dream!) in time for Spring.  But now I'm thinking, why not go a LOT lighter, like silvery white?! That way I can put all the cotton candy colours through it that I want if I ever feel like it, or leave it a beautiful snowy colour.  Yeah, I can admit it - I just want to look like Daenerys. My hair is currently a warm level 4, so to get to a neutral level 12 is going to take a lot of work, time and toner,  But I'm excited!! I'm going to have the first bleach done professionally of course, for my birthday at the beginning of January.

I'll leave you with the obligatory cat pic - this is Seren, who has been out of the limelight picture-wise because she's so shy I don't often get a decent pic of her! She's been through a tough time, where she started to overgroom to the extent where she would get bald patches, but she's doing much better now after a lot of TLC :)

Seren cat, who is starting to get a lot happier after a stress episode :)

Tali xxx

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

HAIR: My hair through the ages

After seeing this tag floating around in the blogsphere, I thought I would add my few cents.  I have changed my hair a LOT over the last 8 years, not always for the better! If you want some comedy at my expense, read on!!

OK, I'm not going to show my hair before I started uni, as it was mousy and frizzy for pretty much the whole time between the age of 15-18!  


When I was in my first year of undergrad, my so-called 'friends' at the time ruined my hair completely! I was a total emo/scene kid back in the day and wanted my (male) friends to dye my hair black, purple and blonde for me.  Basically it turned black and grey/lavender, and not in the cool pastel-grunge kind of way! Unfortunately there is no photographic evidence for this - I dyed my hair back dark the next day but it faded pretty quickly and ended up looking like pic 1 (top left).  Blonde/bronde/mousy/whatever, and with the RIDICULOUS EMO FRINGE that I had for years haha.  
I then dyed it dark red by the look of things (pic 2), and then had dark purple underneath added, along with blonde orange streaks through the top (pic 3).  Whyy!  I alwyas had the same sort of haircut during these years - shoulder length with too many layers which made it look silly in retrospect! Then, thank god, I had it coloured again - this time a nice warm red/brown which looked really good! 
I should mention my BFF is in a lot of these pics -  I'm probably going to accidentally document her hairvolution in this post too (sorry debs)!! In the last pic she accidentally dyed her hair the colour of fire, basically.  I remember wetting myself laughing when I saw her for the first time with FIRE HAIR!!


This was the Australia year, where me and previously-mentioned BFF went to live in Melbourne for a year.  My hair was nice, my dress was beautiful but we lived in a disgusting state - just look at the background in pic 1!!! And that doesn't show the floor haha.  My hair was dark warm brown with a nice side fringe and layers, but it looks really good! I didn't do much with it afterwards - pic 2 is about 6 months later, on Fraser Island if I remember rightly, where its longer (including the fringe, how did I see!) and in its 'natural state'.  I actually love my natural texture - its all wavy and beachy.  
Then I got home, and wanted to have what I called 'sunset hair' (now known as reverse ombre?!) I wanted it blonde fading to mid brown fading to dark brown.  Sunset hair :) Pics 3 and 4 show this - I think it looks pretty cool, although the blonde is a bit brassy for my liking! My hair was nice and long by then too :)


I had probably only had my sunset hair for about a month when I wanted change.  Cue the crazy-hair era.  I went from sunset to pink/blonde/brown.  I loved this hair so much! It was a good length and cut, and the colour was soo cool!! I liked having a full, tri-colour fringe! Unfortunately I got bored of this after about a fortnight (whyyy) and went blue/green/brown instead! This was amazing, and I kept this for just under a month, before going pink all over (no pics unfortunately of this).  I was pink for Christmas 2008, and in the New Year of 2009 went back to a more natural colour - chocolate brown.  What wasn't so natural was the mad hair extensions (more on that in a sec) and of course the fabulous eyelashes :)


Here are the terrible hair extensions! I didn't have them cut in to blend with my layers or anything, and they were pretty crappy quality too.  I remember they kept on dreadlocking themselves on the back of my head!! Eventually I had to throw them out because they literally turned into a birds nest.  I then decided I wanted to be a 'normal' person, and so began my journey to blonde.
First I asked for disconnected layers and to only dye the top section.  My stylist misunderstood (although maybe it was me not knowing what disconnected layers really were!) and so I ended up with basically a little hat-sized blonde section on top, with the rest dark.  I didn't go back to that stylist again!! 
Next, I started getting more and more highlights put through my hair.  Sadly, as good as my blonde may have looked if I was a bit paler, I had just got back from my Spanish house and was mega tan, with blonde hair.  Not a good look for me judging from pic 3 and 4!!!!


I calmed down a little (hair-wise at least) after this.  The world probably sighed with relief when I dyed my hair to a nice light brown.  I love my hair at this time so much, and would love to get it back.  It was so shiny and soft when I dyed over the bleach, and looked so nice.  Unfortunately, when the shine started to fade after a couple weeks, I tried to dye it again to get the shine back?!! Yeah.  That doesn't work. It just felt gross! After this I didn't really dye it for a year.  I remember asking for ombré in summer of 2010, and then hairdresser refusing because it looked too grown-out!! 
Then I moved up to Scotland, and wanted a new change.  My hair was mega long (by my standards!) by then, and I dyed it about a level 3 or 4 brown - really dark, with a heavy side fringe.  
Then in spring 2011, I asked for ombré again, and ended up with orange hair and about an inch of roots!! I didn't go back to that stylist again either ha ha.  No evidence for that either I'm afraid - pics never did the orange justice!!
A few days before my MRes graduation summer 2011, I had it cut and dyed again.  Only the dye job turned it black, and my fringe ended up mega short to boot!! I don't like any of my graduation pics lol, I look awful!!
Anyway, then it grew out, and in autumn of that year I got my red bob.  I loved the colour so much, but I really wish I hadn't cut all of my hair off!! Regretted it ever since.


After my red bob, I started growing my hair again, and got a nice ombré (finally!!) thing going on.  Next,  I had my ends bleached more and a bright neon orange/pink put on the tips. Loved this sooo much.  Only problem was that my ends felt disgustingly dry.  After a few weeks I had my hair cut by a T&G trainee with the intention of dusting the ends only! Unfortunately I could only choose certain styles, and she basically had to cut all the pink off to fit in with her chosen style :( That made me sad.  
Then I had a moments craziness and dyed it dark brown and blue and cut it mega short, and if you've followed my blog since July you'll know how that ended! Basically it faded to mint green after about a week, and I was walking around with the Worst Hair Ever for a few months :( In September or October I had it dyed brown all over, and now I'm just trying to grow it out so I can have long hair again :)

That concludes my hair chronicles!! What do you think? What are your favourite/least favourites out of all my colours? Have you ever had any hair 'mares?!

Tali xxx

Monday, 3 December 2012

[LIFE] Fitness and wellbeing

I'm on a bit of a health kick at the moment - or at least I would be if I wasn't still ill! That's right folks, I have been off work for a week now, and I'm still feeling crappy! Stupid flu.... Anyway, I am tired of doing no exercise and eating without thought.  I don't like the way I look and feel at the moment, and I really want to change that.

I miss running so much!! I stopped because of a knee complaint, and don't really want to go back to it at the moment with all the snow (snow!) and ice, and I don't relish the idea of running in the dark either! H8chu winter!

I also really miss zumba, but due to work and buses, I can't make it to my old zumba class in the next village.   And I would love to go to more yoga classes, but I would have to mission it into Edinburgh to go to anything decent.

So what's a girl to do?! Visit Yoga Download of course! I only discovered this at the weekend, but I've already been trying out a few podcasts and planning on what membership I'm going to get.  Yes girls, it's that good!! I'm in no way affiliated FYI - I just love the fact that you can download/stream classes to your PC/iPhone/etc and get on your yoga mat in the comfort of your own home.  I haven't got lost or confused with the audio instructions yet either - they are all really simple but extremely effective.  There are tons of free classes as well which is what I'm working my way through at the moment.

I'm also planning on horseriding once or twice a month as of 2013, which really excites me - its something I've always wanted to perfect, and it's a great way to stay in shape too.

Regarding my eating habits, I want to start really REALLY tuning in and challenging my gremlin (confused? visit Beyond Chocolate) rather than just mindlessly saying "ok I'll eat the entire box of Quality Streets then".  I've found some new recipes thanks to the culinary god Jamie Oliver's 15 Minute Meals which I'm very excited to try out - although I love cooking and generally cook healthy meals (except for the bangers and mash in this week's shopping list oops!), I get very bored cooking the same thing twice. I always find it difficult finding recipes that are practical (i.e. don't take 5 hours to cook) and interesting, but I really think Jamie has hit it on the head with this 15 Minute Meals! Can't wait to try the Thai Chicken Laksa, the Pork Marsala Porcini Rice and Spring Greens, and the Lamb Kofte, Pitta and Greek salad. Nom! I'll post pictures on my instagram (follow me! Sugarandsakura) of the results :)

Sorry this post has been such a wall of text and probably a boring one at that! The furthest I've been from the house over the last week is the binshed haha, and I'm sure you don't want pics of my flu-ed up face!! I promise I'll post exciting things soon :)

Tali xxx

Thursday, 29 November 2012

An update and a question

I've been so ill this week! I think I have the flu but I'm not entirely sure - all that I know is that I've had a temperature and major flu-y/cold-y symptoms.  It's kinda gross! Anyway, if you follow me on Twitter you'll have heard me complaining for days! Feeling a little better today but still so weak; I played with the cats for 10 mins this morning and had to take a hour long nap to recover!! Weird.

Anyway, enough self pity! I got a Groupon for a local stables, and redeemed it on Sunday.  It poured with rain the whole time (probably why I'm ill now ha) but I barely noticed cos it was AWESOME! I had an hour lesson and, bearing in mind I haven't had a proper ride for like 18 months and I had only cantered once before in my life, I felt I kept up pretty damn well! Afterwards, I went on an hour long private hack through the woodland, and loved it - apart from when I got hit in the face by a massive tree branch!  
I love riding so much, and been horse-crazy since I could talk, but my family *glares at parents* would never let me have riding lessons, so I'm just making up for lost time.  For Christmas, Mike is getting me a years worth of riding lessons *squee* so I'm so excited for 2013 right now!!

That's enough horsey stuff, since I bet that like 99% of you bbloggers aren't remotely interested I'm sure ;) In my first effort to SAVE MY SKIN I bought some Naked hair products and a La Roche Posay moisturiser.  

Excuse the special effects for Instagram! 'Naked Style More Volume Body Building Mousse', 'Naked Care Mild Shampoo' and 'La Roche Posay Hydraphase UV Intense Light'

I don't like to talk about this much, but for the last 10 months I have suffered from a very sensitive scalp.  Not dandruff, not nits, just really itchy! I've been meaning to get my hands on this Naked Care Mild Shampoo for months now and I don't know why I waited so long! I've used it twice now since Sunday and I have no itchiness or discomfort at all anymore :) It was 2 for £6 on Naked products so I treated myself to the More Volume Mousse after reading rave reviews.  It left my hair so soft and shiny, no crisp after effects like some mousses have, and with lots of volume :)

I was actually after the La Roche Posay Hydraphase Intense Serum, but picked up this Hydraphase UV Intense Light moisturiser because Boots didn't seem to have my original choice.  This is where I should read labels - I have very dry skin, but the UV Intense Light is for normal/combination skin.  Oops! That being said, the hyaluronic acid in it seems to be keeping my skin very moisturised, so panic over! Hyaluronic acid is a very clever molecule as it can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water, which makes it uber hydrating and keeps your skin looking plump and younger.  My only gripe with this product is when you get it in your eyes (which I always seem to, even though it never happens with any other product ever?!) it stings like crazy, presumably because of the chemical sunscreen ingredients.

Those are just my initial thoughts on these products - I've only had them for 5 days so I'll do a more indepth review on them in a couple of months!

Now my question is this:

As you may or may not know, I kind of ran away from this blog a month or so ago, as I was dissatisfied with bblogging and didn't know what direction to take this blog in! Right now, its a total mix of personal (lifestyle I guess) posts alongside beauty and fashion bits.  Is there anyway you guys would like me to improve on this? What posts of mine do you prefer to read? Is there anything you would like me to write about more, or less?

Please give me your thoughts - by comment below, on twitter or even email!  I would really appreciate them :)

Tali xxx

Friday, 23 November 2012

[BEAUTY] Resolutions

So I've been AWOL again .. sorry!! Life has been a lil hectic at the mo, but I do have some good news! I found out this week that I won a scholarship to do a PhD while I carry on working! The pros: I am doing a supermegawickedAWESOME project of my choosing, don't get a drop in salary, get to be Dr Tali and do what I've always wanted to do :) The cons: It's going to take SIX YEARS, which for some reason terrifies me haha

Other than that I've been ceilidh-ing, working, stable-ing, snowboarding, house-shopping and doing plenty of sleeping! And I've also been thinking about my current beauty/skincare regime a LOT.

The good old days 3 years ago (all I was wearing on my complexion was High Beam!)

See, I used to have amazing skin.  Not sure if it was the glowing radiance of youth that waned (come back!), or the abuse I put my face through a couple years ago.. either way I want it back!!  Currently, and I don't want this to turn into a whinelist, I currently have rosacea, broken capillaries, contact dermatitis, discoid ezcema and just generally dry and dull skin that is highly breakout prone! I mean, c'mon, this is not a fair deal is it! Thing is, all this only started within the last couple years...I was writing up my masters thesis and under a lot of stress, and that's when my rosacea made its guest appearance.  I retaliated by using AHAs, BHAs, retinol and vitamin C serums daily.  I got waay too much into skincare, and any new-release products when straight on my face.  Needless to say my skin didn't really appreciate that and has since been dull, very sensitive and blemish prone.  I have yoyo-ed between high end expensive products and cheap/basic drugstore items.  Nothing I have tried has really helped.

Well that's the past.  Now to my future - my resolutions.  

I want to get my skin back to the glowy flawless state it was once in.  For Christmas I have asked Mike to buy me a Digital Skin Analysis session, which "captures multi-spectral photos of the face, examining the complexion for wrinkles, spots, pores, texture, bacteria, sun damage, pigmented spots and acne".  I want to use this session to find out what my skin is really like, and why it is so finicky at the moment, and then get recommendations for what products to use.

Another plan of mine is to spend the next 12 months not wearing any makeup on my complexion!!! Terrifying I know. I will wear mascara and eyeliner, and go back to wearing eyeshadows when my eyelids stop being so flakey (ew I know).  And. That's. It.  *gulp* No blusher, primer, foundation, powder ... nada.  I want my skin to look good by itself again, and I'm not going to do that by clogging up my pores etc.

I know that using too many products make my skin sensitive and sore.  But I also know that just cleansing and moisturising and nothing else makes my skin dull and breakout prone! Currently I'm just using Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish and Amie Skin Shield and my skin is still not happy. I want to find a happy medium!

So that's my three-phase plan (wow I've been writing too many formal applications lately...).  I'm going to give myself a year from today, keep you all informed of any progress and see where I'm at on 23rd November 2013! Hopefully my skin will be a lot calmer and clearer by then..

Wish me luck!

Tali xxx

Monday, 5 November 2012

LIFE: Four years ago today....

Mike and I went on our first date..  He was one of my managers at my part time retail job, and I used to joke that he was "the guy I was in love with at work" to my friends.  Not wanting to sound big headed or anything, but I always got every guy I ever liked, but Mike never gave away how he felt about me, which kept me guessing!! At the time I was dating 5 guys simultaneously, but broke it off with all of them because I didn't feel the way about them that I felt about Mike!! Then we both started spending a lot more time together - I introduced him to tapas; he introduced me to action movies.  

Then one night - November 5th 2008 in fact - I couldn't take it any longer, I looked at him one evening and said " you like me?".  And the rest was history!! Our first 9 months was a whirlwind - we were both living at our parents houses due to circumstances so we had $$ to burn.  I swear we lived off popcorn and La Tasca those first few months, as well as £3 pizza from Pizzaland in Selly Oak, where they knew our order before we even had chance to open our mouths.  It was love, we just drank up each others company - didn't need anyone else, didn't want anyone to intrude on our bubble.  

In July 2009 (I don't know the date as we were on holiday ha) he got down on one knee in my favourite place in the whole world - a valley that nobody else seems to know about in Andalucía, rural Spain.  We were going to run away together, back to Australia where I had spent the previous year.  Mike has a severe flying phobia, but we were going to go via the Trans Siberian railway, and then travel through Asia. 

Then reality hit - I didn't get the grades I had hoped for at Uni, so my parents offered to pay for a Masters to compensate.  We didn't move to Australia, but we moved to Nottingham instead where we got our first flat together.  One year later, and my Masters was over and we found ourselves further north up still - Scotland, where I got a 5 year contract and my dream job.  Two years down the line and we are making a home for ourselves up here, but haven't lost the desire to leave the UK - although I think we have now settled on Canada.  Logically, although perhaps less romantically, we are getting ourselves and our careers sorted - Mike's at college and preparing to apply to Uni; I'm working in an amazing field and about to sort out my part time PhD application.  

Our dreams are still alive though - we still aim high and want the world and nothing less.  And although after four years things sometimes get tough, we still want to spend the rest of our lives together.  And I know that seems like a simple thing to say, I really mean it - he is more than my boyfriend/fiancé - he is my best friend and knows me better than I know myself.  We have come a long way - not just 'us' but also individually.  

I'll stop writing now, because this mush could potentially go on forever, but here some pictures:


Tali xxx

Saturday, 3 November 2012

MEMEME: Life etc

Hey! Ok so I had a little bloggerlife crisis and made a new blog which I wanted to be purely lifestyle, and therefore separate from this blog.  I wasn't sure if I would ever come back to this blog again, as I was getting tired/bored of the whole f/bblogging world.

And yet here I am, typing this out!

I have now come to realise I do still like being a girly girl (albeit with a gritty edge!).  I like clothes and makeup and dyeing my hair and talking about all of the above.  I also like blogging about more personal things - what's going on in my life, what are my thoughts etc etc.  I realise this isn't for everyone - a lot of bloggers are quite hesitant to "reveal their true identity", or on the other hand, don't really get anything from people blabbering on about their real lives! So if you fall in the latter group, you may as well leave because I want to incorporate ALL aspects of my life and interest into this blog!

Still here? ;)

Weeell now, let's have a mini life update!

(1) It's mine and Mike's 4 year anniversary on Monday!!!! It's hard to believe that we've spent half of that time living in Scotland (was my 2 year workaversary on the 1st November) - things are going past too quickly!!  For our anniversary, instead of the usual dinner date/flowers kinda thing, we decided to do something we've been talking about for months.  That's right kids, I booked us in for a 3 hour intensive snowboarding course at Snowfactor in Braehead!! I am so psyched.  
We are so excited that we went to the snow/xtreme sports exhibition event in Glasgow a couple weekends ago to find out a bit more about the related culture/community and to get a bit more info.  I am both nervous and mega-enthusiastic about Monday now - I really want to be good at it, but I'm always lame at new things hahaha.... I'll keep you posted!!

(2)  Works been full-on the last 6 weeks or so - had a massive project on, and I won't bore you with all the lab/molecular genetics talk but it's been quite intense! Glad to have it out of the way now.  Oh yeah and BIG NEWS - I'm going to apply for a PhD!!!! As a member of staff at my university, I can get a part-time PhD funded while I carry on working!
I have a great boss who is really happy and supportive of anything I can do, and by doing a PhD I will get rid of the glass ceiling I have been concerned about in my career.  The scary side is that as it's part time its 6 years long, which is a massive commitment!!! But it'll be worth it and I'm mega excited :)

I guess those are the only things going on in my life which can be classified as major news, but life in general is going really well.  
Starting to get my life back in gear; more of a social life (which has been an issue for a while thanks to me moving around the UK too much and being too far from my friends!), being more active (hot yoga = amaaaazeballs), loving helping out at the stables still and am looking to get riding lessons which is something I've wanted since I could talk pretty much! 
I went shopping last weekend as you'll know if you follow my twitter/instagram, which was fun :) 
Mike is doing Movember this year - 3 days in and he's already getting a 'stache!! His donation page is here if you want to help him kick prostate and testicular cancers' ass! My grandfather is in the later stages of prostate cancer so I full-heartedly support Mike in looking like a douche for a month!

That's about everything I can think of right now.  What's new in your life? :)

Tali xxx

Monday, 24 September 2012

My blog's midlife crisis

I haven't posted in a couple weeks, partly because I've been super mega wicked busy, and partly because I have had a bit of a bloggerlife crisis!

I guess, for a while at least, I felt like I didn't know where I fit in the bloggersphere - I refer to my blog as a fashion/beauty blog, but unlike a lot of f/bbloggers, I don't have the dollar to go out and spend my salary/hypothetical student loan on goodies to review! I am supporting my partner through his studies, which is the most selfless and rewarding thing I have ever done for anyone and I am so grateful (yes really!) to have this opportunity to help someone else! However, it does mean that my salary gets stretched across 2 people and there's not a lot left over for Chanel and Nars.  Unfortunately!  I wouldn't have it any other way right now, I really wouldn't, but at the same time I feel like a fake, saying I'm a f/bblogger, when I don't much to blog about!

On another level, I don't like people thinking that I'm vapid and obsessed with cosmetics.  I have been, sure, aren't we all (at least everyone who's reading this can empathise!)? I got obsessed about active skin care until I ruined my face and made my skin ridiculously sensitive, so I transferred to haircare.  Now my scalp is really sensitive (sigh) I have turned my attention to makeup ... which is making me break out!!.  It got to the stage where the weekend before last I tried a new foundation and it oxidised and turned me orange.  I didn't have time to reapply my usual, but I decided I would rather look like an oompa loompa rather than taking 30secs to remove my makeup and go out barefaced! Don't get me wrong -  I love makeup, I love fashion, I love changing up my look and being able to express myself through appearance.  But...I feel like all these perfect-looking bbloggers that wear 300 high-end products on their face before they leave the house, are making me feel like I should be doing that too.  And I don't think I want to!

I suppose my point is that I love blogging, I love the community and I love all of you guys reading this.  But I want my blog to be MORE than just a bblog.  I want to write out pensive, exploratory posts (much like this one ha) that bore everybody else.  One of the main reasons I started blogging was to meet new people - I've moved around so much the last few years that I have lost touch with most of my friends, and although this is now changing, I don't want to lose the bblogger community that I am just beginning to become part of.

Anyway, I just needed to get it out there, and maybe get some feedback? I don't really have a point to this post.  I know I want to post more, but I often feel that, as I don't have anything new to review,  I don't have any motivation/inspiration for posts!  I guess I want this blog to convey ME and lots of personality etc; I don't want it to be a faceless, nameless bblog.  I just don't know how to go about it!


Tali xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Sunday, 9 September 2012

FASHION: A/W12-13 Trend#2: Pretty Grunge

Have I mentioned how much I'm loving all the new season clothes coming into the stores right now? Summer with it's floral dresses and ice cream pastels are all very well and good, but give me A/W any day of the week purely for the fashion!

Grunge has been coming back bit by bit - first with Charlotte Free and other hot chicks with alternative style, then with the pastel grunge movement of S/S12.  Now it is full blown gritty urban hawtness and I adore it!

I find it really hard not to just put a million pics of Topshop clothes up right now, because I love pretty much every single thing that Topshop have released so far! I have managed to branch out though and show some pics of non-Topshop clothes, well done me ;)

Ok I've kinda gone overboard on the Topshop, but I need need need need need that open shoulder burgandy sweater like now!!

Can I be Charlotte Free please?

Tali xxx

Monday, 3 September 2012

Exercise IS fun (and good for you I hear...)

For about six months, I had done no exercise other than walking and the (very) occasional zumba class.  Don't get me wrong, I wasn't unhealthy or overweight, I was just lazy and very unfit!  I never thought I was a running person, after I tried to jog a couple years ago and ended up collapsing in my shower as soon as I got home (true story!).  However, getting out of breath when you've walked up a flight of stairs is generally not a indicator of good health, and nor is it very attractive, so I decided to change my lifestyle up a bit.  

I started running properly about, hmm, three months ago I think.  I do interval training (basically where you alternate running with walking in short bursts, which is supposed to be better for your heart) using an iPhone app called '5k runner'.  You can get a free version of this app called '5k free' which gives you 4 different running options - week 1 day 1, week 1 day 2, week 1 day 3, week 2 day 1.  I can't recommend this app enough!! It tells you when to run and when to walk, building the times up slowly for each run, and lets you listen to your music at the same time!

Anyway, technicalities aside, I found that I CAN RUN!! And more importantly, I freaking love it!! I exclusively listen to cheese, RnB, dance and hip hop while I run (makes a change from my usual pop punk and emo) as I find it gives me so much energy and enthusiasm.  I try and go 2-3 times a week, and sometimes it's mega easy, sometimes I hit the wall within 30 seconds haha, but the important thing is persevering.

And check out the gorgeous countryside I get to run through (there's a 30mile trail that goes past my house that I normally run on):

Another thing I've been doing, every night that I don't run, is yoga! I never used to be able to touch my knees let alone my toes (slight exaggeration, but you get the idea.. the perils of having 3ft legs!), but now I can nearly nearly touch the floor.  I find yoga really good for stress levels, as well as just unwinding and tuning in to your body after a hard day at work.

So yes, I'm back to being an exercise fanatic, but it really makes so much difference to my fatigue levels and my general happiness :)

What exercise, if any, do you do?


Sunday, 2 September 2012

MEMEME: Week in Pictures 4

She's sleeping on mah face - cutey kitties; me stuck outside in torrential rain for 2 hours while the bus never turned up; Sparrow sleeping under the duvet; Finished GoT#3; Mike sitting on his humongous pile of new clothes; me with Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Lip Balm Stain in Lovesick; again; cutey kitties again; kitteh lovers; Frankie and Benny's breakfast; Mike showcasing some new clothes; me with Lovesick again again lol

Other than me getting massively ill after the getting stuck outside in the previously-mentioned storm, it's been a good week! I had to take Thursday and Friday off cos I felt so ill - thought I had a cold coming but I'm totally fine now?! Not complaining anyway!! Was ok to have those two days off really - I just slept and chilled out with the kittehcats so I almost enjoyed being ill :)

Finally finished Game of Thrones book 3, and started book 4.  However, book 4 actually made me angry haha, I can't believe what's happened and it's annoyed me, so I'm currently refusing to read any more on principle! Sure I'll get over it and pick the book up soon but for now I'm just'll know what I mean if you've read it!

I was Mike's personal stylist yesterday (Saturday) - he only buys the odd bits of clothing here and there, and has been feeling a bit crap about himself for a while, so we decided to spend some of his student loan injection on shopping! Woo! I'm normally such a bad person to go shopping with him - he's totally patient and even makes suggestions whenever we're in girlie shops (I know right?!), but when we normally go into any man shop, I'm tutting and looking at my watch etc... so I thought I owed him one! He got his hair done, and bought some beautiful Superdry trawler/workman boots, and lots and lots of other things for *cough* £400! He said he'll do the same for me too soon, woohoo! Haha, but seriously, it's nice to see him with a whole new wardrobe and feeling good about himself.

As a 'thanks for your help and I'm shocked at your patience' treat, I got to go to boots, and bought Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Lip Balm Stain in Lovesick, which has amazing colour payoff and pigmentation, sticks around for EVER (I woke up this morning and my lips were still a little pinker than usual! and YES I had taken my makeup off last night) and isn't drying my lips yet! I also got a Max Factor False Lash Effect mascara - it is so good to have eyelashes again, unlike with my ruined Dior mascara wand! And, although I was looking for the Dove Hair Nourishing Oil Leave in Conditioning&Care Spray, it was nowhere to be seen so I settled with Aussie Dual Personality Anti-Frizz Conditioning Milk.  I'll let you know how it is!

Tali xxx

BEST OF: August 2012

Although I haven't really bought that much in the way of beauty products in the last few months (not sure how that happened!!) I want to get into the habit of rounding up the month in products and anything else that comes to mind!

Favourite products of August:

  • Liz Earle Sheer Skin Tint 
  • Tresemme Naturals Vibrantly Smooth Conditioner (shampoo is good too!)
  • Schwarzkopf got2b Powder'ful
  • Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection Concealer
  • Bare Minerals Pure Radiance

Biggest lusthaves of August:

  • Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Lip Balm Stain.  You've already heard the hype elsewhere I'm sure! I want need it in Lovesick, Rendezvous and Romantic.. and maybe Honey... ***
  • NARS Deep Throat blush after seeing it on Emma (Milkteef) here.  I've wanted a NARS blush for approximately forever so may have to treat myself!
  • New mascara.  Any will do as long as it's not my Dior Blackout ever again!!
***You may have already seen if you follow my Instagram (sugarandsakura) or my twitter (@TaliLowe) but I kinda caved and bought the Revlon Lip Balm Stain in Lovesick.  It's amazing!! Lasts so well and such a bright pop of colour :)

Favourite new blog of August:

A big name in blogging perhaps, but I'd never visited Kate's site, Gh0stparties, until a couple of weeks ago, and now I'm hooked!!

Friday, 31 August 2012

REVIEW: Liz Earle Sheer Skin Tint

I've mentioned my love for this product before I know, but I thought it deserved a more in depth review :)  I lived on free samples of this foundation/tinted moisturiser for a while, and was so impressed with it I decided to buy the full size version.  I couldn't believe my luck actually - I was going to buy the 'Liz Earle trio' (Cleanse and Polish, Skin Tonic and Skin Repair moisturiser) and the Sheer Skin Tint anyway, so guess what the August bundle was? All four products for just £41 (worth over £66)!! I snapped that bad boy up on the first day of the deal ;)  The deal ends on 5th September so what are you waiting for? Go go go!!

Liz Earle describes this product as:

"The perfect way to enhance your skin. Our rich and creamy, yet lightweight formula leaves all skin types looking naturally dewy, even and radiant. With mineral UV protection SPF15, it’s enriched with our own blend of natural source vitamin E, borage and avocado, specially selected to work in harmony with our skincare range."

Me with no makeup on *gulp* I'm still recovering from being ill so be nice!

 Me with just Sheer Skin tint on my skin, and a tiny bit of mascara and Korres tinted lip balm.

Full face on - over Sheer Skin Tint is No7 pressed powder (now discontinued), No7 Natural Blush Cheek Colour, Bare Minerals Pure Radiance to subtly highlight,  Eyes - MAC Paint Pot in Vintage Selection (LE), L'oreal Carbon Gloss liquid liner, Lips - Chanel lipstick in Rouge Orage
I'm in two minds about this product, but generally I really really like it.  Most foundations aggravate my uber sensitive skin, but this in fact seems to soothe it!  A lot of makeup also seems to break me out at the moment, but Sheer Skin Tint makes my spots disappear... I kid you not!! On the rare occasions my rosacea flares up, this foundation clears it up.  So it's kind of a win/win for me.  
I have quite dry skin so I'm sold on anything that makes my complexion dewy and glowy.  If you prefer a matte finish, this foundation is not for you.  Sometimes I feel like this product makes me almost too shiny, so beware.  Of course, you can just set it with a matte powder and then you're fine, which I sometimes do.  For daytime wear, when I like having light coverage and radiant skin, this product is perfect for me.
So why am I in two minds about it? It is really really REALLY light coverage! I have quite dark shadows under my eyes, and the sides of my nose are red thanks to broken capillaries, but that's pretty much all that's wrong with my skin - I'm lucky not to have any scarring, and I don't break out that often.  Even for the sides of my nose and under my eyes, though, I find myself reaching for my concealer to mix with the Skin Tint (is it kosher to mix concealer and foundation?! Please tell me if this is taboo!) for better coverage.  
So yeah, I would prefer something with slightly more coverage, but as this is marketed more as a tinted moisturiser than a heavy duty foundation I can't really complain!  I do love the fact that it seems to be good for my skin and calms it down rather than being irritating or making me break out (this may not be the case for other people though so always patch test!).  It's a total "my skin but better" product, giving me a radiant and evened-out complexion, but don't buy it if you want/need better coverage :)

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