Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Blogmas 21: A Christmas Playlist

In no particular order, the songs I would make sure were included in my Christmas album. I couldn't choose between the final two, or who should sing them, so I put both.

1) White Wine in the Sun by Tim Minchin

2) Always in the Season by Pomplamoose

3) It Feels Like Christmas from The Muppets Christmas Carol

4) Believe by Josh Groban (from The Polar Express)

5) Christmas Wish by She and Him

6) The Christmas Sandwich Song 

7) Fairytale of New York by The Pogues

8) It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas by Michael Bublé 

9) We Need A Little Christmas by The Cast of Glee

10) The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole

11) Toy Soliders by Harry Connick Junior

12) Ave Maria/ Oh Holy Night

Monday, 21 December 2015

Blogmas 20: Feeling Thankful

Yesterday I went to the local chapel for the Carols by Candlelight service. I'm not a religious person, but it means a lot to my Grandma. Her and Grandad were a big part of the chapel community, the money raised from his funeral went towards buying a new cross to mount on the wall of the chapel. So I try to go to a couple of services a year, particularly if she's playing the organ.

The carols by candlelight service is one of my favourites, as I'll know all the hymns so I can get stuck into the service without feeling too awkward about the whole religious aspect.

This year a very lovely man was playing the organ, complete with backing 'band' (a button on the organ that played a drum beat). The result was that he couldn't hear if we were singing or not, so ended up stopping mid carol. When the minister asked him to keep playing, he started up in the wrong place, so we ended up singing the verse to the chorus tune and vis-versa. I was keeping it together until I glanced up and saw the minister, head bowed, shoulders shaking with laughter. I've never been to a more innocently hilarious service.

The service itself was more like a meditation session (with added Jesus). The minister asked us to sit and think about all the things we were grateful for. This has always been an exercise that I've found difficult - not because I'm not grateful for things, but because it feels silly to say all the things I'm grateful for. Maybe it's a British modesty thing, who knows, but it's something that I want to get better at.

So one of my goals this year is to be more thankful - and vocalise this. I need to thank my loving parents and family for all the things they do. I need to thank my friends for always being there. I need to thank my boss(es) for giving me wonderful opportunities. And I need to thank myself when I do something right for my health.

Here's to 2016 - the year of thanks.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Blogmas 19: Three Winter Fashion Favourites

Because of the great response I got from my 'Three Christmas Party Essentials' post, I thought I'd do another one - this time my three winter fashion favourites! 

From the bottom up!

1) Black Chelsea Boots. I love a black boot and live in mine over winter. These are from TopShop and were £45 - which is a little more than I usually like to spend on high street shoes but I fell in love with them! They're actually half a size too big for me so I need to get some insoles did them.

2) Black Jeans. This is another thing I live in over winter, especially as at work we can wee jeans and I feel like black is smarter than the tradional blue. Mine are from Miss Selfridge and set me back £36.

3) Roll Neck Top. I love a roll neck, and have a wardrobe full of them - they've taken over from the shirt as my season favourite, which is no mean feat! This one is from last years TopShop and was under £20 if I remember rightly! I love that it's thin enough to layer under another jumper, but still warm on its own too!

Here's all three worn together! Sorry I look so tired but it was taken the morning after the work Christmas bash!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Blogmas 18: Five Cruelty Free Gifts Under £10

This is the last weekend of shopping before Christmas, so here are my cruelty free gift ideas to get someone a last minute bit of love - whether its their whole gift or a little extra stocking filler.

1) Booja-Booja Chocolate - £6.49

Booja-Booja are THE free from indulgence brand in my opinion, and most (all?) of their chocolates are vegan. NOt only this, but they taste DELICIOUS - an ex-boyfriends-mum worked in a health food shop and bought me a box of Stem Ginger Truffles a couple of Christmases ago. Heavenly!

2) Dr Organic Rose Otto Night Cream - £9.79

I reviewed this indulgence brand a couple of days ago, and I think this would be a lovely little gift, especially for a Mum or Grandma.

3) Lush Golden Wonder Bath Bomb - £3.95

I haven't used this but I have a friend who has and she loved it! Lush bath bombs are pricey, but as a gift they're a wonderful treat.

4) Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer - £9.99

This book isn't for the faint hearted, and I haven't read it yet but I'm told it can turn anyone vegan! I think this would be perfect for someone who feels strongly about animal rights, although I think it's probably pretty harrowing...

5) Barry M Nail Polish - £2.99 - £4.99

Last but not least, trusty Barry M. You could easily buy a couple (or three) polishes for under £10. They have a huge variety, too, and their formulas seem to improve year on year!

Friday, 18 December 2015

Blogmas 17: Norwich Nosh Episode 2 - The Bicycle Shop

Welcome to the second installment of Norwich Nosh - the series where I tell you about cool places to eat, drink, and be merry in my lovely home city, Norwich.

Episode 2 - The Bicycle Shop

A photo posted by Vicki Maitland (@vickimaitland) on

Where: 17 St Benedicts Street.

When: Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 12am, Sunday 11am - 12am, closed on Mondays.

How (much): Drinks £2+ for a soft drink, £4+ wine/beer, £6+ cocktails. Food £4+ tapas, £5+ brunch, £10+ mains.

Who: Much like Frank's Bar, The Bicycle Shop invites a bohemian crowd of mostly young proffessionals, mostly artistic. It has a very chilled out atmosphere, and often hosts live music events in the basement downstairs. 

What: The Bicycle shop serves from brunch to tapas, stopping off at larger main dishes along the way. They mostly serve Mediterranean style food, and have a good range of vegetarian and gluten free options. From memory I don't think they have many vegan options, although their menu does change fairly regularly.

Why: Named because there was a cycle repair shop on the site for most of the last century, The Bicycle Shop is a relaly lovely independant venue. It has lots of plants and candles in it, and feels really cosy. All the staff are lovely and helpful and I always walk out with a crush on at least one of them! It's really nice to go for a coffee or a meal, although I'd recommend booking in busy times because it does get full as it's only little.

You can visit their website here for more information.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Blogmas 16: Cruelty Free Comparisons - Night Cream

Cruelty Free Comparisons is the series where I set two cruelty free beauty products up against each other - one budget and one more expensive - to see which is the best value for money. Today is the turn of Night Cream.

Night Cream is moisturisers heavier bedtime alternative which super-soaks your skin while you sleep.

Today's products are as follows...


B. Nourished Night Serum (£4.95 per 30ml)

High End:

Dr Organic Rose Otto Night Cream (£9.79 per 50ml)

Both products have pretty nice packaging, although the B product is plastic packed, which makes it light and easy to transport, albeit cheaper to the touch. The Rose Otto cream is in a glass pot, which makes it a little messy to get out, but since I rub it all over my face anyway I don't worry too much about that. The B serum has a pump so it's really easy to get a precise amount out, but I get the feeling there is product left in at the end which I can't get to.

The serum is slightly lighter than the cream, so if you have oily skin that might be the one to choose. That said, both products soak in really nicely - almost by the time my head has hit the pillow.

The B serum has very little smell, which is  great as it doesn't disturb me when I'm trying to sleep. The Rose Otto smells exactly like Turkish delight which is HEAVENLY and very soothing.

I really don't think there's much between these products, especially as both are suitable for vegans. I probably prefer the Rose Otto as I think it lasts a little longer for your money, but that could be my love of Turkish delight coming out!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Blogmas 15: Space Oddity

Today I, along with most of the U.K., watched the shuttle launch to the international space station. To see the astronauts step onto the space station was incredible. To think that there are people living in orbit above the planet is pretty breath taking.

It's even more incredible to think that we've actually explored further away from our planet than we have into it, and actually know more about space than we do about the creatures at the bottom of the sea or in the heart of a rainforest. 

But then I can't deny there is something much more magical about the stars - the way they glitter in the sky, and I can see why humans have been so obsessed with space. 

Tomorrows post will be back to business with another Cruelty Free Comparison!

Monday, 14 December 2015

Blogmas 14: Vic's Tips - How to Survive the Office Party

Another new series for the blog, this time one that I have shamelessly ripped off from my wonderful wifey, Vic's Tips!

I've been to a few office parties in my time - including one which ended with the store manager giving lap dance to another member of staff in the back of a mini-van, so I think I've pretty much sussed my way around them!

1) Make sure you know the dress code - you don't want to be the one who is way over/under-dressed. Most office parties will be smart/casual, but if in doubt, check! Even googling the venue might give a hint as to the dress code.

2) Don't assume everyone will know your name/role. This is especially key in a big company, so don't be afraid to introduce yourself/ ask someone else their name and job. This also lets you network a bit to see if there's any other area of the business you think you'd enjoy. Some office parties will share a space with a couple of other parties, so the person you're talking to might not even work for the same company as you, so they won't be offended if you ask their name!

3) Be cautious with the free drinks. Most office parties will provide some sort of free beverage - whether it be wine on the table or a tab behind the bar. Don't go overboard - you're going to have to see these people on Monday morning! Even if you're friends with people you work with an office party is never a purely social occasion.

4) Try and talk about things other than work. You're all connected by the common theme that you work in the same building/company, but you're not going to actually make friends with people if all you do is talk about work and office politics. You also avoid moaning in ear-shot of the wrong people (the boss) if you avoid work in general.

5) Don't hook up with anyone! If you find yourself 'getting along' with another member of staff take their number and arrange to meet up after Christmas. Messy office hook-ups cause tension for months afterwards, especially as most office parties won't allow you to bring your significant other.

There you have it! If you have any tips for surviving the office party, leave a comment below or tweet me @VickiMaitland.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Blogmas 12: Festive Face (for Under £20!)

The holiday period can often (read:always) be an expensive time. There's presents to buy and wrap, food to get in, and always countless parties and get-togethers. If you're like me, you'll want to spruce up your everyday look, but without breaking the bank. 

My entire make-up look cost me £19. Considering my everyday mascara is £19 by itself, I think that is pretty good going!

All of the products here are by e.l.f - possibly the cheapest cruelty free brand out there. The only things I've not included in the cost of the face are the moisturiser I used before hand, and the lip balm I used after as I consider both these products to be skin care. 

This foundation will set you back £7.50 and, although it's a tad too yellow for me,  gives a medium coverage with a really lightweight feel.

This eyeshadow is only £2 - although you need a fluffy brush to get any pigmentation out of it! It's also not very durable - I dropped this seconds after taking the photo. The lid snapped off and the dark brown shade went everywhere! I used the dark brown in my brows, the light brown in my crease, the peach all over, and the light yellow as a highlight under my eyes and on my brow bone.

This liquid eyeliner is £3 and probably my favourite elf product. It's got a really fine brush so you can get a precision line, and is a true black.

This mascara is £4.50, and, although it doesn't do everything it says it will, it's really good at getting length in the lashes without clumping!

Finally to finish the look, this £2 lip liner in the shade Bitter (which matches my nails perfectly!). 

Now, I don't think that's too bad for £19! Let me know if you have a favourite budget brand that you turn too when funds are low.

Blogmas 11: Cruelty Free Comparisons - Moisturiser

For those of you who are new to the blog (hello), Cruelty Free Comparisons is a series in which I review two (or more) cruelty free products - usually one cheaper and one more expensive - pitted against each other in a gladiator style battle. In the past I have done Mascara and Conditioner editions, but today is the turn of Moisturiser.

Most of us use moisturiser daily, and consider it to be an essential part of our routine. It's also one of those products where there are a lot of cruelty free versions, precisely because it is so popular. The products I've used are as follows.


Superdrug's Simply Pure Light Moisturiser (£2.69 for 75ml)

Middle of the road:

B. Confident Moisture Gel (£4.95 for 50ml)

High End: 

B. Confident Day Cream (£9.99 for 50ml)

First things first, the packaging. The Simply Pure Moisturiser comes in a classic squeezy tube, so it's really easy to use and very transportable. Both of the B. products come in frosted glass-look (although I suspect they are high-spec plastic) pots. This makes the B. products look a lot higher quality than the Simply Pure one, although they are quite heavy and would be awkward to travel with. Because you have to dunk your finger into the pot, it is also somewhat messier to apply - although it's moisturiser so you're going to be getting that gunk all over your hands anyway.

The biggest difference between these three products is the texture. The Simply Pure moisturiser does feel a lot lighter on the fingers than the B. Day Cream (which, unsurprisingly perhaps, feels very thick and creamy). The B. Moisture Gel has a very lightweight feel to it - lighter than the Simply Pure moisturiser in fact.

Once on the skin, the B. Moisture Gel just melts away and absorbs really quickly - precisely because it is so lightweight. It makes a great base for makeup because of this, as it doesn't hang around on your skin for too long.

The Simply Pure moisturiser, although light, turns tacky on the skin. I even find it becomes oddly textured, as if strands of it are balling up. This isn't reflected on how it looks on the skin, but it definitely takes longer to absorb in, even though because of the tacky-ness it feels as if it dries relatively quickly.

The B. Day Cream glides on the skin just a nicely as the B. Moisture Gel, but it doesn't absorb half as quickly. It feels quite thick on the skin, which is probably great if you're prone to dry skin or are about to go out in harsh weather conditions, but for me it felt like it was suffocating my skin. I often dab my face with a clean, dry flannel after using it to get rid of some of the excess product.

Finally, despite having a third less product than the Simply Pure tube, both of the B. pots have lasted me an awful lot longer. I think this is because, provide you don't scoop the product, you can get a tiny amount each time (and it goes quite a long way). With the Simply Pure tube it's somewhat more difficult to get a small amount of product out.

All three products are suitable for Vegetarians and Vegans.

The product I'm most impressed with out of the three has to be the B. Moisture Gel. I like the packaging, the feel of it, and most importantly how it sits on my skin.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Blogmas 10: Norwich Nosh Episode 1 - Frank's Bar

Recently I've found myself in a position where I've been able to eat out more, which is a very lucky position to be in! Norwich, where I live, has a cafes and bars on every corner. Norwich Nosh is a new series where I'll essentially do mini reviews of some of my favourite places to eat in Norwich.

A photo posted by Vicki Maitland (@vickimaitland) on

Episode 1 - Frank's Bar

Where: 19 Bedford Street, NR2 1AR

When: Tuesday - Sunday (Closed on Monday)

How (much): £5 for a light bite - £12 for a main meal. £2-3 for a soft/hot drink. £4 pint. £6+ cocktails.

Who: Frank's Bar invites a relaxed crowd of people - arty but not pretentious. The venue is small, so it employs a shuffle up policy and seats multiple groups to a table (they do ask first though).

What: There is a decent range of food, mostly Mediterranean inspired. Their bread platter (with olives, hummus and balsamic oil) is particularly lovely. They change their menu seasonally, so you can be assumed all their food is fresh as it comes. They have a pretty good range of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free meals, and most of the meat dishes they have use 'unusual' meats, so they're not reliant on the over-farmed few (I've seen both pigeon and rabbit on the menu).

Why: Frank's Bar is a truly lovely little venue. They have a fully waiter-ed service, but you do have to go to the bar to collect your bill. The atmosphere is cosy and warm. I particularly recommend the hot chocolate (which you can have with soya milk and vegan mallows - although I personally can't resist having it topped with whipped cream).

A photo posted by Vicki Maitland (@vickimaitland) on

I love Frank's Bar and have been going there for brunch, lunch, dinner, drinks, and coffee's for years now. It's always a solid choice - even if you have to wait a little while for a seat at busy times.

Visit their website here.


Thursday, 10 December 2015

Blogmas 9: On High School, Grades, and Popularity

I work two jobs. One as an admin assistant in an office. The other as an English and Maths tutor for an agency.

My second job means I spend a lot of time working with children and teenagers, and it often makes me think back to when I was in their shoes.

Today I was sat with a girl who wanted help with her GCSE English. She opened up to me and my boss about how nervous she was about doing her exams, how she was unsure of how well she would do. I remember taking GCSE's very seriously, and shared her fears when I was her age (15-16). Looking back, it's easy to say that I shouldn't have worried so much. At the time, getting good GCSE's felt like the most important thing in the world. As soon as I got to sixth-form, no-one asked me about my GCSE's, and although they helped me get in to the college they didn't do much else.

High school is a funny and fascinating time, in that sense. It's like this little bubble, where you're not yet an adult but are desperate to be, not a child yet still want a certain degree of comfort and 'mothering' (for want of a better world). You're trying to disciver yourself but at the same time you desperately want to fit in. Being 'popular' is often the most important thing.

Of course it's not unnatural to want to be liked, but there is something strange about high school's particular brand of 'popularity'. If you're a girl who's either good at sports or ridiculously 'girly' then you're likely to be considered 'popular'. If you're a boy, you need to be good at sports or funny.

The thing is, from where I sat anyway, being popular never looked that much fun. There seemed, to me at least, to be a lot of in fighting, the kind of drama you'd expect in a teen soap rather than on a playing field.

I was in this weird zone of not being popular in the traditional sense, but I was pretty well respected by most of the popular crowd and never got an hassle from them the way some of my peers did. I think my school year was pretty out of the ordinary when it came to the traditional popular/nerd divide. There were a lot of the popular crowd in the upper sets, and there was a certain degree of respect between the two groups. At the end of the day, both wanted the same thing - to get decent GCSE's and be well liked.

If you want some perspective on my school life, YouTube's Lucy and Lydia were two of the popular girls in my year. As popular girls go, they were pretty tame, and a pretty accurate reflection of the group as a whole. But they seemed to have more falling's out, tiffs, and silly fights than any of the people in my friendship group.

I don't really know what all of this was trying to say. Except, perhaps, that high school is a unique experience, which is probably why there is so much literature, film, and music about it. And that GCSE's, whilst sort of important, aren't nearly as important for the person as they are for the school (provided you're predicted about a C grade in English, Maths and Science, that is). And finally, that popularity is never really about the size of your friendship group but the quality of the friends in it.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Blogmas 8: #reviewsdaytuesday The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

**EDIT: This post was meant to go up yesterday, but, because I forgot to press 'publish', it didn't. There will be a bonus post some point this month to complete the 24 days of Blogmas!**

I had heard so much hype about Samantha Shannon's The Bone Season, so when I saw it at £2.50 on TheBookPeople I had to pick it up.

Set in the future (2059, to be precise), Shannon imagines an alternative world - a world where people can commune with a spirit world, and those people who can are peresucted and sent to mysterious prisons. The story follows Paige Mahoney - a teenage girl who is part of a clairvoyant underworld in London. However, not long into the story she is captured by the government Scion and taken to a prison compound. There she discovers that things are not all that they seem, and that a mysterious alien race is controlling her government in order to protect them from something much, much, worse.

The story starts off in a very 'telling' way. Paige explains, loosely, to us about the government, the clairvoyants, and her place in it. I'm often skeptical about stories that start this way - Paige has no need to recall the past, so why does she except for the benefit of the reader? I would much rather a story that threw you into the deep end, where the world in unveiled through the plot and dialogue of the story rather than through an opening monologue. However, if a story does choose to 'tell' me the world rather than 'show' me it, I expect to fully understand it. Shannon hits a halfway house, she tells me a bit about the world but not enough for me to feel confident in it. She shows me a bit about the world, but not enough that I understand it before Paige is swept away from it.

Once Paige is in an unfamiliar environment, her and the reader are put on much more equal footing and we both begin to discover the world together.The story becomes much more powerful, as Paige is discovering herself in this new place, and reconstructing her idea's about the outside world. It would almost have been worth beginning the story with the sorting of the characters in the 'prison world' (a group of prisoners are split up between different wardens) and flashing back to how she ended up there, in my opinion.

I didn't find many of the relationships convincing - except the relationship between Paige and Nick (the Scandinavian doctor who helps her discover her clairvoyant ability). The relationship between Paige and her Warden was very confusing and conflicted but in a very obvious, over dramatic way way ('I hate him but I'm also attracted to him, oh what to do?!').

The book opens with a diagram of the different types of clairvoyancy and a map of the penal colony that Paige gets sent to. For me, both of these things felt totally unnecessary. The different types of clairvoyants list would have been useful if different types of clairvoyants were actually featured prominently in the story, or if the list actually explained how those different clairvoyants operated. The map had very little detail on it, and it wasn't as if I was constantly trying to locate her - I just accepted where she was at any given time and didn't need to know it in relation to other things.

In short, this was a debut novel that felt like a debut novel. I can't tell if it was under-edited or just poorly edited - the plot itself should be so interesting but it never gripped me. I was desperate to see more of her life outside the colony - whether in flashbacks or as a prelude to the story which would colour the world more richly.

I don't really like posting negative reviews (she writes two days after the disappointing hair product post), but this book underwhelmed me after all the hype.

Have you read The Bone Season? What did you think of it?

Monday, 7 December 2015

Blogmas 7: Three Christmas Party Essentials

Tonight I've got my first party of the season, so I thought I'd share three of my festive essentials.

1) Red Lipstick. Not only is red lipstick a classic, and I truly believe there is a share of red out there for everyone, but it also provides a nod to the big man - Santa. 

My red lipstick is in the shade 06 from Hema, and it's lined with Barry M Red LipLiner.

2) Luxury Materials. Velvet, faux fur, (p)leather, or sequins on a Christmas jumper. Something a little bold and frivolous for a festive occasion.

I found my faux fur coat in T K Maxx and fell in love - it's fleece lined so it's super warm. The velvet dress is from Primark.

3) Glitter. The festive season demands sparkle, so glitter is essential. 

I choose my glitter in the form of eyeshadow. This hyper-pigmented Vibrant Eye Shimmer from B. is my favourite.

What are your Chrismas party essentials?

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Blogmas 6: Disapointing Products - Superdrug Hair Mousse

My hair mousse is currently the only part of my daily beauty routine that isn't cruelty free. I picked up this Superdrug own brand as a bid to change this, and was really disappointed.

It foamed really well, which I was happy with as often cheaper products tend to be very liquid and end up leaving my hair crispy. However, I think the amount of foam it produces actually makes it completely ineffectual.

It didn't give my hair any lift, and it didn't define my curls at all - which is pretty much all I use mousse for. I know it doesn't specially say 'curl defining' as most mousses will, but I picked the most appropriate one based on the collection as far as I could tell.

However, what really disappointed me about this product was how much it dried out my hair. After only a couple of days using it, my hair felt like straw. Most hair mousses (in my experience) lock in moisture as they are heat protectants. I would hate to think what would have happened if I'd tried to straighten my hair whilst using it!

I was so hoping that this would be the final piece of the cruelty free puzzle, but sadly not. If you have any suggestions for a good cruelty free hair mousse, please let me know!

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Blogmas 5: Empties!

I love writing empties posts as nine times out of ten they are products I've really loved. I had a lot of trouble importing the images, so I'm praying they come through okay.

Most of Sainsbury's own brand products are cruelty free! I love mint scents, and this body wash is pretty nice. It isn't particularly water tight, so the product does tend to be very watery towards the end, but it still foams nicely, which is all I really want from a shower gel.

I'm still using this non-cruelty free mousse. I haven't found a decent replacement - and tomorrow's blog is going to be about my disappointment in one of the cruelty free hair mousses I tried. 

I think this B. Night Serum has appeared in an empties before. This time, though, I haven't repurchased it. It runs out really quickly, and because of the packaging it's really hard to tell if there is actually any product left.

This is the Directions Hair Dye in the colour Violet. It's a decent semi-permanent dye, in my opinion, and I re-dyed my hair once every fortnight or so. The only problem I had with this colour is that it did start to stain my hair green as the dye faded, which I wasn't super into. This one pot lasted me about 9 months though, but I've only got a tiny bit of my hair bleached.

Atrixo has been a feature of my life for the longest time as it was always my mum's preferred hand cream. I really like it, and the chamomile in it is really soothing on sore, dry skin. However I'm pretty sure it isn't cruelty free, so I've swapped it out for a different brand. One of these pots will last a solid year and a half though, so if you want product for your buck and aren't worried about it being cruelty free then this is a safe bet.

Both of these conditioners were featured in my Cruelty Free Comparison post, so you can check out my opinions of them there!

I wash my hair every day, so I don't have much use for dry shampoo. However, I did use this product as a volumiser if I was re-styling my hair mid-day and it worked pretty well. I'd probably buy the extra volume version of the Colab London if I felt the urge to buy it again.

This B. Ready Day Cream is going to be featured in Cruelty Free Comparison: Moisturiser Edition, so I won't say too much about it now. However, I will say that I liked, and not loved, this product.

So there you have it! See you in tomorrow's post!

Friday, 4 December 2015

Blogmas 4: A lot of love for Ant and Dec

Ant and Dec have been stalwarts of my childhood. From Saturday Night Takeaway, Pop Idol, I'm A Celebrity and Britain's Got Talent, they've always been there. The adorable Geordie losers.

It't no wonder they've been voted best TV presenters for the last decade.

They always manage to make a joke of any situation. They treat sensitive subjects kindly, and aren't afraid to poke fun at themselves.

So, tonight, I'm enjoying I'm A Celebrity, and very much enjoying Ant and Dec.

Sorry this is a bit of a rubbish post, but I'm prepping a load over the weekend, so get ready to rumble!

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Blogmas 3: On Syria

I've had a hard time thinking about what to write today, because I simply can't get away from the events of last night.

Last night it was announced that the UK would become involved in aerial assaults on Syria. This is despite a large opposition to the decision from the general public, as well as the opposition leader.

I'm not going to claim that I'm a font on Syrian politics. However, I do know that personally I believe violence begets more violence,

I can't support bombing Syria. This is a nation in peril, a nation that literally millions of people are fleeing, a nation controlled by what is essentially a militia.

Isis is a terrorist machine that runs on propaganda. By bombing Syria, all we are doing is creating the propaganda for them. Isis tells the people of Syria that the West is terrible. The West closes its boarders out of fear and bombs the innocent. We're creating the propaganda for them.

David Cameron says air strikes are more accurate than ever. But if you're pointing a missile at, say, the house of a known terrorist, who's to say that it won't also damage the innocent homes either side. Who's to say it won't cut off their water, electricity. Who's to say that it shrapnel won't injure or kill the innocent person living next door.

I don't have the answer to what we should do to stop terrorism, except provide asylum to those who are so desperate for it. We're self-obsessed enough to think that everyone wants the Western lifestyle, but how many of those millions are fleeing to take advantage of the crisis? What was to stop those millions fleeing before the crisis? I'm reminded of the now famous quote by Warsan Shire: No-one puts their children in boats unless the water is safer than the land.

I don't really know what else there is to say. Here's a pretty unbiased article (thanks Katie for pointing me in the direction of this) to help explain the situation.

Tomorrow I'll try and be a little more festive, but today I can only be afraid.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Blogmas 2: Dr Organic Haul

The other day I noticed I was running low on conditioner, but just as I was about to pick up my Avalon Organics Spearmint Conditioner I noticed that Holland and Barret had a deal on Dr Organic! Buy 5 get 50% off! With a quick bit of maths, I realised I could buy 5 conditioners for £15! 

I thought 5 conditioners was perhaps a tad excessive, and there were a couple of other products in the range that I'd had my eye on, so I decided to have a browse!

The fist two products were conditioners, my favourite Coconut as well as an Argon oil. Both are meant to be super moisturising, perfect for my curly hair!

Intrigued by the name, I had a browse of their Rose Otto range. I had been looking for a night cream for a while, and whilst this one is out of my price range, at half price I figured I could splash out. I've used it for a couple of night now, and am pretty pleased so far. 

I also picked up their Rose Otto deodorant. I'll be comparing this with the three other cruelty free deodorants I've tried so far later in the month. Both the Rose Otto products smell like Turkish Delight, which I am very happy with!

Finally I picked up an Ice Mint lip balm. You can never have too many, and I love mint things, so this was a nice added bonus!

The Dr Organic range is all cruelty free and most are suitable to Vegans too!

See you in tomorrow's post!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Blogmas 1: The Beginning

Pinch, punch, it's the first of the month and, as with years before, it's the first day of Blogmas!

Blogmas, for those who've never experienced it before, is essentially like an advent calendar of blogposts. Each day leading up to Christmas you can open the little calendar door that is this blog and enjoy the little chocolate blog post inside. Okay, it's not quite as nice as a big solid bar from Hotel Chocolat, but it's nice enough to get excited about. Or at least I hope so...

I'm hoping to get a nice old mix of chatty posts, cruelty free beauty, and bookish thoughts.

I'm also hoping that writing these posts will get me into the festive spirit. I can't quite believe it's the first of December when I'm totally convinced I graduated a couple of seconds ago, rather than nearly six months ago! After a couple of festive tags, beauty looks, and Christmas present recommendations, I should be fully prepared for the most wonderful time of the year.

If there are any posts you particularly want to see, please let me know! Tomorrow I'm kicking things off with a Dr Organic haul.

Merry Blogmas!

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Beloved Books Tag

My darling wifey, KatieKinsDuncan, tagged me in this at the end of October so it's about time I got to it! As far as I can tell the premise of this tag is just your five favourite books, so, in no particular order, here goes!

Paper Towns by John Green

This was the first John Green book I fell in love with. I've watched John and Hank since 2007 (I just caught the end of 2.0) and I was a huge part of the hype that led up to the release of Paper Towns. I can still remember watching a video of Kristina, Kayley and Lauren (I think? And maybe Hayley too?) meeting John and getting blacked out copies of Paper Towns from where edits had been made since the first proof run. I pre-ordered this book and was SO HAPPY to receive happy Margo. I still haven't seen the film as I'm scared it will spoil the beauty of this book.

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

I cannot express how beautiful this little book it. It's super quick to read but urgh it's so poignant and just stunningly crafted. I've read it a number of times and always found something new in it. It was the inspiration for my dissertation and I love it!

NW by Zadie Smith

I read this book during the summer of first year of Uni. It was a time in my life where I'd hit a reading slump and felt directionless. It was also the first truly 'adult' book I'd picked up of my own accord. I was blown away by Smith's playful use of language - this book reads how London feels to me - and I thank it so much for getting me back into loving literature and words.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

This book was so hyped in early 2014 and it did not disappoint. Another superb construction of literature, and a book I'll definitely return to (although I haven't yet!). I loved it!

Excuse the lack of photo, I own this book on Kindle and it was out of battery when I was taking these pictures!

Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone by J K Rowling

This book. This book! This is such a well thumbed edition, and I would love to know how many times my mum, my sister, and me have read this book. It's one I'll definitely be smuggling out of the house when I move out!

There you have it! It's by no means an exhaustive list but I tried to stay true to myself when I thought about books that had really snuck their way into my heart!

Let me know your beloved books! Tweet me, comment below, or tag me in an Instagram picture! I'm @VickiMaitland everywhere!

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Cruelty Free Autumn Make-up Look (2 ways)

I love both of these make-up looks - one lends itself to evening, the other to everyday. I've worn them both loads over the past month or so, and it's really easy to turn the everyday look into the evening one as they use almost all of the same products.

All the products I've used are cruelty free, with the exception of Collection products. Collection have an unclear cruelty free policy, and, whilst I consider them to be a cruelty free brand unless they are proven of animal testing, I know some people are dubious about their cruelty free stance so choose to avoid them.

Look 1 - English Rose - Everyday

I love how simple and plain this make-up look is. It's all about highlighting the cheeks, lips and lashes. The very lovely lady who served me in Topshop actually wrote down what lipstick I was wearing when I was shopping in this make-up!

This is the elf. Lip Gloss Stick in Sangria Starters.

This blush is brighter than I normally wear, but it's perfect for this rose look.
It's elf Cream Blush in Seductress.
I apply it with a brush as I find it gives a subtler wash of colour.

I use two mascara's for this look. I apply Better Than Sex on my top lashes, then cover with a coat of the elf Waterproof mascara. I use the elf mascara on my bottom lashes too.

This combination creates a really natural finish. I apply the B. Moisture Gel first, then I massage in Lush Colour Supplement whilst the moisturiser is soaking in.

I use the fourth colour in (Chocolate Mink) all over my lids. This is the Collection Nude palette.

Look 2 - Vamp - Evening

 This look is a lot more intense than the everyday look, but uses most of the same products. The focus of this look is the vampy lips and dark eyes. I emphasise my brows more in this look too.

I paired up these two lip-liners in order to create the vampy lip.
Bottom: elf Long Wear Lip Liner in Bitter.
Top: Barry M Lip Liner in 11 (Wine).

This is with Bitter just on it's own. It was brighter than I expected it to be, but with the lipstick on it looks lovely.
It also works really well with Sangria Starters over it.

I then shade in the corners and run faintly around the edges with Wine.

I top the whole lip with M&S Matte Mulberry. The moisturising element of this lipstick blends the lip balms together.
Using the same Collection palette I take the shade darker (Brown Sugar - second from right).

I use the darkest contour shade in the Barry M Chisel Cheeks palette to deepen the crease of my eye - taking the colour up onto my brow bone and far towards my nose.
I also lined my eyes with this elf Liquid Liner. However it also works well without the extra line!

These are all the products I used - with the exception of the eyeliner and the blusher.
 I used the same cream blush as before.
Let me know if you try either of those looks by leaving a comment below, tweeting me @VickiMaitland or tagging me on Instagram!