Monday, 24 October 2016

Pumpkin Carving 101

It's Halloween week, and I'm going to try and make sure each post has a Halloween theme (wish me luck). Now, I'm not claiming to be the world's best pumpkin carver - my art skills in general are not renowned for being fab and once I knife gets involved it is never going to go exactly to plan. However, pumpkin carving is something that I've enjoyed my whole life and for the past two years my sister, my best friend, and I have all gathered for a pumpkin carving extravaganza!

Step 1 - cut out the stalk of your pumpkin. Always try to cut angled up slightly, to give your kid more purchase after it has begun to dry out.

Step 2 - get rid of the slime and seeds (making sure to save some for baking later).

Step 3 - scrape out as much of the flesh as you can be bothered to (make sure to save this for pumpkin soup and pie later)

Step 4 - carve away!

It helps in all of these steps if you have wonderful company and a nice atmospheric backing track/film.

Happy Pumpkin Carving!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Selfie Sunday

This weekend I stayed with my friend in London, which meant I got to sleep in the room with the best lighting ever. This is why I'm gracing you with this literal 'I woke up like this' selfie. It's all about lighting, kids.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Dispatch from the London Train: And Then It Did

I'm sat writing this post on a train to London. By the time you're reading this I'll be there, hanging out with one of my best friends. It's got me thinking how different things feel since the last time I was on a train to London. It was the very end of September and I was on my way to see Watsky, having received what could possibly be the worst news for someone to receive, after a long couple of months of bad news after bad news. I was at the lowest I had been for a long time, possibly ever, and even though I had friends around me it felt like nothing was going to get better. And then it did.

I attribute a lot of my sudden change in mental state to that night. Although I was stuck in a negative cycle I still managed to have one of the best gig experiences that I've ever had the pleasure of enjoying. Even though in every lull of the show I felt like crying, the atmosphere of the venue and the gig lifted me right up out of it, propelling me to cloud nine.

So much has changed since that night. On the one hand, I wish I could take back many of the things that happened - the vast majority of which I had no control over. On the other, those experiences have wildly changed the way I view the world. They brought me closer to the truth of mortality and they have honestly taught me to appreciate life in a way that I had forgotten. I am writing this a much happier person than I was on that night - still grieving over past events but with a renewed sense of purpose towards the future.

I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason. I don't mean that everything has to be positive, but that everything has a purpose - even if isn't clear at the time. This isn't an act of devaluing events, nor is it attributing more to something than there is - it is more a matter of taking things as they come, accepting them for what they are, and treating them as such.

Trains are funny things. Taking people forwards, pulling people away. They're a strange in-between place - a waiting room of sorts. Trains are where everything changes and nothing does.

Friday Reads

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Cruelty Free Own Brand Spotlight: Superdrug

One of the biggest things I hear when I tell people that I only buy cruelty free hair, beauty, and skin care products is 'Isn't that expensive?' I think it is because most people associate cruelty free with Lush. This simply isn't the case and, although Lush is a great cruelty free brand, it certainly isn't the only cruelty free brand out there. In fact, if you're not part of the cruelty free community, you'll probably be surprised about how many own brands are cruelty free.

I got the inspiration for this series from my friend Sally (thanks!) and today I thought I'd highlight one of my favourite (and one of the biggest) cruelty free brands out there: Superdrug.

The first thing to say about Superdrug is that they have lots of sub-ranges, which means that you have loads of choice. If you're unsure about whether a product is cruelty free or not, look out for the 'Superdrug star'.

Image result for superdrug star logo

This little star is featured on most of Superdrug's own brand range - with the exception of B. B. is Superdrug's makeup and skincare range and its products are slightly more expensive than the rest of the range.

I've tried out a variety of Superdrug own brand products, so I thought I'd give a little overview about each category here. I'll be delving back into my blog archive for this, so sorry if the picture quality is a little hit and miss!

Hair - This is the one aspect of the Superdrug own brand range that is yet to impress me. The shampoo was fine, the conditioner was meh, and the mousse was so bad I actually threw it out after only a couple of uses.

Body - I've been impressed with both the body wash and the moisturiser in Superdrug's range. The body was is perhaps a tad on the watery side but they have a good range of scents and it is very reasonably priced. The all-body moisturiser I've tried has been great and I actually need to re-purchase soon. I'm also going to mention the dental floss in this section, as I don't know where else to talk about it. I really got on with the whitening floss and I've been meaning to repurchase for a few weeks now - it's by far the best cruelty free floss I've used as it doesn't break up in between my teeth!

Skincare - I've had mixed results with the skincare range, but there are a few products that my face has really loved. I get on very well with the Tea Tree exfoliating scrubs and they are definitely some of my most repurchased products. I've also really liked the B. exfoliator, but it has micro-beads so I won't be purchasing it. I've had less success with the moisturiser, but for many years (pre-coconut oil) the Vitamin E eye makeup remover was my go-to.

Make-Up - As I said, Superdrug's make-up falls under the B. brand. I've had mixed results with the brand, but I really like their pressed powders and bronzers. I know my sister likes their lipsticks (although I find they lack staying power) and she rates their nail polish too. My stand-out product has to be their eye shimmers though, and there was a VERY long phase where they were my go-to daily product. In fact, I might just search them out again, now that the festive season is upon us.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Instagram Recommendations

I love Instagram, which was somewhat of a shock to me. I've always believed that I've been most drawn to text-based creativity, but the second I downloaded the app I was hooked. I spent much of my first year or so on the app following my friends, other bloggers, and celebrities. However, more recently I've tried to transform Intsagram into a place where I can get creative inspiration, as much as anything else. I thought I'd share with you my favourite Instagram finds. Some of these are big names, some have smaller followings. There is a loose theme of art, landcapes, plants, and illustrations. Enjoy!

A photo posted by Phaidon (@phaidonsnaps) on

A photo posted by On The Road. (@edriicc) on

A photo posted by 🌿The Jungalow™ (@thejungalow) on

A photo posted by Claire Frances B (@lila_wild) on

A photo posted by JeSsIe CaVE (@jessiecave) on

A photo posted by Underground Gallery Norwich (@undergroundnorwich) on

A photo posted by Bonobo (@si_bonobo) on

A photo posted by C E R E A L (@cerealmag) on

A photo posted by Catrin (@c.e.pod) on

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

#reviewsdaytuesday: Bloom by Estee Lalonde

Estee is one of my favourite YouTubers but, I have to admit, when she said she was writing a book I was somewhat skeptical. I pre-ordered it none-the-less and, as soon as I had it in my hands, I knew I had made the right decision.

This book is a work of art.

Firstly the cover is not only gorgeous but it also has a great texture. The main picture kind of feels spongey and the header is made from a woven textured material. I love it. Inside, each of the chapters of the book have different coloured pages, transitioning through various pastel shades. It is very soothing.

This is a very quick read - I think you could probably read it in one dedicated couple-hour sitting. However, I don't necessarily think the book should be consumed like that. Whilst I do think you should read it in order, I think it works perfectly as a coffee break book and you could read each section in twenty or so minutes whilst enjoying a cup of tea.

The book is packed full with stunning colour photographs from throughout Estee's life. Estee is completely beautiful, but I liked that she didn't only choose obviously staged photos for the book. There are some really raw and natural moments in there - as well as a few goofy shots. One of the biggest things I admire about Estee is how comfortably glamorous and graceful she is, too, and the book is full of pictures of her looking totally effortlessly flawless no matter what clothes she is wearing.

This really is a book with a heart. It has obviously come from a special place within Estee and I think it is clear to see that she poured herself into the text. It's really a series of mini (and I mean mini) essays on life, love, and style. These are all strung together with the theme of personal growth and self discovery - I know already that I'll be revisiting passages to give me a little pick-me-up on a hard day.

I honestly think this book is best described a beacon of light. Although Estee doesn't shy away from the hard and upsetting times in her life, she also makes an effort to show how those don't define her. This was an excellent book and I'd really recommend it!

Monday, 17 October 2016

Mani Monday - Barry M Cruelty Free Nail Polish

I thought I'd share with you my current favourite nail polish, using an idea I borrowed from a series of Instagram posts I remember (I can't remember whose Instagram it was though - sorry).

This is a Superdrug Limited Edition Barry M nail polish. I love this colour, it is a perfect almond-nude shade. I've been really impressed with the staying power of this nail polish - I bought it for my holiday to America and only had to top up the tips once during my time there! It applies in lovely thin coats (not always the case with a Barry M polish as the formula can sometimes be a touch thick) and it is really quick drying. 

Sunday, 16 October 2016

On Beauty and Fashion

Often, when people find out that I have a blog, the first question they will ask me is 'What do you blog about?' and I'll reply 'Oh, just make-up and books and stuff'.

It's that one little word, that 'just'. I wish I didn't include it, but I do. Because of course makeup, and fashion for that matter, isn't 'just' anything. I love makeup. It might sound silly, it might sound naive, and it might sound vain, but I really do. I love the act of putting it on my face and I love the way it can manipulate the way I feel as much as it can the way I look. I even, sometimes, love the act of removing it. I use coconut oil to remove my makeup and I enjoy smearing black eyeliner and red lipstick all over my face in an oily, gory mess, before rinsing it all down the sink. I love the feeling of nakedness with it off just as much as I love the feeling of togetherness with it on.

My use of the word 'just' has as much to do with my playing down of my love of makeup as it does playing down the importance of makeup itself. Like it or not, makeup is important. It is just seen as silly because it is virtually exclusive to the world of women. It is much the same with fashion.

(As an aside, I am writing this after watching Inside British Vogue, a documentary made for the BBC by a rather condescending man who scoffs at clothes and the-women-who-work-at-Vogue's investment in them, before getting completely played by Vogue's editor in chief, Alexandra Schulman. It made me so angry that I had to let it out.)

I have never put on makeup because of a boy. I only put on to feel good (admittedly, I might want to feel good in front of a boy, and makeup is a part of that). I often put on makeup for other girls, and I often make my clothes choices for other girls - nothing makes me happier than when another girl compliments my clothes or makeup because I know how invested those girls are in clothes and makeup.

Loving makeup isn't silly, naive, or vain. It should be treated no differently than loving books (which I do) or films. Makeup can be a cultural and political statement, as much as it can be 'just for fun'. It can be both and liking it for both is just as valid as one or the other.

So, with that in mind, I shall carry on wearing, and blogging, about makeup and fashion. I shall try not to downplay my love for them both. And I shall fiercely defend them against anyone who says they are unimportant.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Postcards and Art Prints

Those of you who know me (or who have kept an especially close eye on my Instagram) will know that I have a bit of a soft spot for postcards and prints. It all began back in Amsterdam last year, when I spotted a couple of postcards that I liked but didn't necessarily want to send home. It struck me that postcards didn't just need to be things to send to others and that they could be keepsakes in their own rights. This changed everything for me and I began to collect postcards, and postcard sized art prints, from places I visited.

This was the postcard that started it all. I picked it up in the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and it's an image of Otto Frank, stood in the attic of the house where he and his family lived during the second world war. He was the only surviving family member and I found this image particularly arresting.

This was another print I picked up in Amsterdam. I'd seen the image as one of many in the Rijks Museum and when I saw it on this postcard I thought I'd pick it up.

These four postcards are some of my newest editions to my collection. I love how powerful the women are in these pictures and the quotes are just perfect. My favourites are the the top left image (which reads: Stop telling women to smile) and the bottom right (My outfit is not an invitation). I picked these up from Chelsea Market in New York.

This is one of the most unique pieces in my small collection. It is actually made from the wings of butterflies and I picked it up in South Africa. It sounds a little morbid, but none of the butterflies are killed to make this - they are a species that only lives for 48 hours and the wings are preserved after death to make these art pieces.

This is another piece I picked up in New York - if you couldn't have guessed. I actually got this from the artist at Strawberry Fields, which is John Lennon's memorial garden in Central Park, only a few hundred metres from where he was assassinated.

This actually a postcard print but I love it so much that I thought I'd include it. I cut this out from a free newspaper I was handed in London - I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted it on my wall.

This is the final and most recent edition to my collection. It is by my friend Hazel, who is a very talented young artist. If you love it as much as I do, you can check out her work on Redbubble!

Friday, 14 October 2016

On Perfectionsim

It happened. It was inevitable that it would and it finally did. I missed a day of blogtober.

I am sorry that I missed a day, but I'm not entirely surprised and, whilst I was thinking it over this morning when I woke up and remembered I hadn't posted anything, it got me thinking about perfectionism.

I am a perfectionist, but I don't think it is out of any desire to actually get things 'perfect'. I'm very lucky in that I was a naturally bright child - I never really had to work too hard through school and college in order to get high grades. I wasn't one of those students who didn't put any effort in a sailed through, don't get me wrong. I revised really hard for my geography and history GCSE's (my weakest subjects where much of the test was based on facts and figures) and I got my legs chopped from underneath me when I got a D in my first AS politics exam (I naively thought that performing well in discussion in class, when I had others around me to help stimulate my ideas, was as good as knowing the information myself) so I revised extremely hard for my retakes.

I think I am a perfectionist because I have been told that I am good at things, so I don't want to let others down. I act like a perfectionist because I 'should be perfect', rather than because I think I am or because I particularly want to be. This can mean that when I think I've done a task to a high enough level I'll stop. It won't necessarily be the perfect end-result, but it will be 'good enough' to make them (whoever I'm performing the task for) think I am good at it. This is my perfectionism struggle - because if I'm unable to get a task to a certain level I tend to shut down. I get angry and upset at myself. I think I've failed. My own expectations of what I can do, and the expectations of others around me, really impact on my emotions and feelings of self-worth. I also struggle with the inevitability of failure and it can sometimes stop me from doing things. For example, I knew that I would fail when I came to completing my New Years resolution of running 365 miles this year, so I barely started.

However, my coping strategy for this isn't always the best. I can be very 'brush-off-ish' of my failures, presenting my internal disappointment as a kind of blase rudeness (at best) or anger (at worst).

This is something I've been working on a lot over the past few years, particularly during my time at uni when I happily sat in the middle of the pack for most of my time - surrounded by people who were significantly more intelligent than me in a myriad of ways. It helped me to understand that my perfectionism didn't have to be about being the best of everyone or, more importantly, being the best FOR everyone, it could just be about being the best for me,

This means that my 'best' can change day-in, day-out. It means I can give myself mental-health days when I need them, knowing that my 'best' on that day will be getting up, going to work, and getting an early night. It also means that I can push myself when I know I'm just being lazy and it will spur me to make the most of my time, getting up, going to work, coming home, writing a blog post, applying for an internship, reading a book.

I don't know if any of that made sense, but what I'm trying to say is this:

Don't let the thought of failure stop you from trying.

Don't let other people's expectations control your life.

Your expectations for yourself don't need to be constant. You can change them daily.

 What are your thoughts on perfectionism? Do you struggle with it in the same way as me? Or do you have different experiences? Let me know on twitter @vickimaitland or in the comments.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Watsky X Infinity 2016

Seeing George Watsky at the end of September has to be one of the defining moments of my year so far. I've been a huge fan since his 2013 Cardboard Castles album and he has been to the UK a number of times since, but I've always been unable to make it. This year was the year it all changed and I was finally able to make it to his gig.

It was hands down one of the best gigs I've been to. Not only was his stage presence brilliant but his performance was spot on. He has some very quick raps and he always managed to hit each rhyme perfectly. However, what really set this gig apart from the rest was the atmosphere in the room. Everyone was in the best zone - it lifted the gig to a new level.

I didn't take many photos from the night, but here are six blurry ones all put together.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

#reviewsdaytuesday: NYX HD Concealer

I am forever on the hunt for a good cruelty free under-eye concealer that doesn't crease, vanish, or break the bank, so when I found this I thought I had hit the jackpot. I bought this NYX HD Concealer in the shade 03 about a month and a half ago. For the first fortnight (or even three weeks) I loved it. It was the perfect brightening shade, it applied really nicely, and it barely creased. However, this all changed about two weeks ago when I started noticing it oxidising really quickly on my face.

You can just about tell from these photos (it doesn't show up very clearly on camera) but the first is take 5 seconds after applying and the second about 10 seconds after that:

It goes from this lovely pink-nude colour to a super orange tone that is darker than my skin tone (under my eyes) and looks more like fake tan than brightening concealer! I've still been using it because it seems silly not to, but I can't lie and say that I'm overly impressed.

I do have a theory why this is happening, though. The concealer doesn't travel very well and on the way home from America the lid came free of the applicator, like so:

I think this means that I can't tighten the lid back on as much as I would like, allowing air to get into the product. It should look like this:

This isn't my only NYX concealer this has happened to; I also bought an colour correcting concealer in shade 10 and the same thing happened to it.

So, overall, I like the coverage and the fact that it doesn't crease super badly. It also gets on well with my mascara, so I don't end up with mascara smudge under my eyes. I also like the colour, pre-oxidisation. I'm just a touch disappointed that it travels so poorly - has anyone else had this problem? Please let me know, I can't be the only one!

Monday, 10 October 2016

Women on the Internet whom I Admire

I wanted to write something for mental health day, but my thoughts are no solidified enough to even begin to turn them into something legible here. However, what I will say is this: if you are suffering from any kind of mental health issue (even if you think 'well, I'm not feeling as bad a X person in my life so I'm juts making a fuss over nothing') PLEASE talk to someone. I cannot state enough the importance of telling somebody the words 'I'm not okay', even if you sob them out. By saying the words out loud you make them real, and admitting to another person (or people) that something is wrong is the best way to enable yourself to start getting help.

But, now, on to the real crux of this post: Women on the Internet whom I Admire.

This list is by no means exhaustive and I'll literally only be talking about YouTubers (sorry, fellow bloggers, I admire you very much too). It's also in no particular order.

Sadie - defense360 

Sadie is a woman who is wiser than her years. I admire her art, her passion, and her creativity. Here is her most recent video:

Linda Barsi

Linda quickly became one of my favourite people on the internet when she started giving out excellent writing advice and her position there was solidified when she opened up about her struggles with mental health. Funny, unafraid to open herself up, and, once again, creative - there is plenty to admire in Linda.

Rosianna Halse Rojas

Rosianna was one of the first British female YouTubers that I watched religiously and still do. Rosianna is insightful, driven, and honest, and I strive to read as deeply and as eloquently as she does. All her videos are rather excellent, but I'm glad that I get to share this most recent one with you.

Leena - justkissmyfrog

Leena is funny, intelligent, and sarcastic. Her 'stupid questions' series is excellent and her 'banging book club' with Lucy and Hannah (two other women who I've had to miss off this list or else it would be far too long) is brilliant.

Lex - tyrannosauruslexxx

One of the things I admire most about Lex is the fact that she hasn't changed her inexplicably complicated YouTube name... Her sense of humour is so perfectly dry and I really aspire to live in as moral a way she does. Her most recent video speaks volumes on the kind of person she is:

Estee Lalonde

I bought Estee's book, Bloom, the other day and I'm already loving it. She is a young woman who speaks and acts with great poise and dignity - even when she's pulling faces and making fun of herself. I adore how down to earth she is and her relationship with her boyfriend, Aslan, is the ultimate #couplegoals in my book - two people who respect and admire each other for everything they do. Her most recent video is a classic beauty guru makeup look, but her channel is so much more varied than that.

Jessie Cave 

I discovered Jessie through her Instagram account and immediately fell in love. It wasn't really until I went on her YouTube channel that I recognised her as 'the girl from Harry Potter'. I haven't been watching her videos for very long but her Untitled Vlogs series cracks me up no end. Her editing style is brilliant and I love her creativity.

Jen Campbell

Jen Campbell is another woman I admire because of her talent and insight all at once. I have been watching her videos for a while now and they just keep getting better. I aspire to read as widely and deeply as Jen.

Margaret - JustMargaret

Margaret makes videos very rarely nowadays but when she does I devour them within moments. She is a young woman who has been through an awful lot and I admire her tennacity, her honesty, and her passion - among other things.

I am going to end this list here, although it could very easily go on to include Kristina Horner, Kayley Hyde, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Sanne Vliegenthart, Hannah Witton, Lucy Moon, Jean (bookishthoughts), Lauren (renkellym), Lauren (readsanddaydreams), Fran Meneses, Louise Pentland, and many, many more besides.

(Edit: Can't believe I left Amanda (shessomickey) off this list first time around. I'm also sure this won't be my first edit because there are so many brilliant women on the internet doing clever and interesting things.)

Watching women on YouTube has been one of the most important aspects of my own personal growth and it is fair to say, especially for my longtime loves, that without these women I wouldn't be the person I am today. Thank you, ladies, for shaping me.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Cruelty Free Autumn Make-Up Look

Since it's a Sunday and I actually have time to take photos and write a post, I thought I'd share with you my current go to autumn make-up look. Obviously, it is all cruelty free and its pretty much been what's on my face since the weather got cold.

This is the finished look. It's very minimal on the eyes and neutral but bold on the lips. I like a bit of highlight on the cheek and brow bone, and I've got a touch of bronzer on the outer edges of my face too.

After applying moisturiser, the first thing I put on my face is concealer. I don't have a huge problem with spots at the moment, so this just slaps on under my eyes. I'm actually going to do a reviewsdaytuesday (remember those?) on this NYX HD Concealer in shade 03, as I have super mixed feelings about it.

I set this with a touch of Gosh BB Powder in 06. I also sweep this over my forehead, down my nose, and on my chin.

I then swish a bit of bronzer over the outer edges of my face and on my cheeks. I juts feel it gives me a little more dimension and allows me to pretend that it's still summer. This is Makeup Revolution Ultimate Bronzer.

Please excuse the lighting change, this photo was taken way back in April as I completely forgot to photograph it today! This is of course The Balm Mary-Loumanizer. I've pretty much worn this every day since I purchased it and I love it - I think it adds a beautiful glow to my face. I wear it on my cheek bones, up my temples, and on my brow bone.

This is one product from NYX that I really rate. It's their Wonder Pencil and it is basically a creamy nude eyeliner. It comes in lots of shades but I went for a lighter one than my skin tone as I wanted to use it in my waterline to brighten my eyes.

This Makeup Revolution Ultra Eye Contour Light and Shade palette might be a bit of a mouthful but it is one of my favourite purchases this autumn. It's my first matte palette and I adore it. I use the large peachy pink shade all over my lid, for this look, and then go in with the ash brown shade (on the bottom row, far left as you look at it) for my crease. It gives a really delicate finish. I also use the dark brown (bottom row, second from right) to fill my brows, which I whizz through with a spooly afterwards.

After curling my lashes, I go in with this Arbonne It's A Long Story Mascara. I bought this after being sent a sample for review and I loved it for a super natural long lash look. It is also waterproof, which is great for a rainy winter.

Here's a look at the finished eye.

To give a little more colour to my face I add a swipe of this ELF Cream Blush. It's a 'cream to powder' formula but I use it with a traditional blush brush in order to get a much more subtle look. This shade is Seductress.

I finish everything off with the star of the show, my Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Lolita II. It is my perfect warm nude - and ideal mix of rusty orange and pink.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Help - A Blackout Poem

Recently I've started running creative writing workshops with a local charity. We had our first session the other day, on National Poetry Day, so I partook in a little blackout poetry. This is one of my favourite kinds of poetry as it allows you to be creative whilst at the same time avoiding the, sometimes crippling, 'blank page syndrome'. This was my favourite poems I wrote that day, taken from a page of A Brief History Of Tractors In Ukrainian.

It reads:

run into the wrinkles below her eyes.
feel sorry for her.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Autumn Reading Tag

I've been seeing the Autumn Reading Tag going around YouTube over the past couple of weeks so I thought I'd give it a go here!

1) Are there any books you plan to read during autumn? 

Yes, as I mentioned in my currently reading post I really want to read The Bear and the Nightingale, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. Outside of those three I'd also like to read The Girls by Lisa Jewell as it has a really autumnal cover, as well as The Girls by Emma Cline (if I finally get around to buying it). I'm also expecting Bloom by Estee Lalonde to arrive any day now, so I'm probably going to read that too. Unless I seriously up my reading game that should comfortably see me through to the start of December.

2) September brings back school memories: what book did you most enjoy studying and what were your favourite and least favourite subjects?

The first part of this book is really difficult, as there were several books I read and adored at uni (included Bastard out of Carolina, Beloved, and There But For The, to name a few). If i was to narrow it down to high school, though, I really enjoyed both Of Mice and Men and An Inspector Calls. My favourite subject was, surprise surprise, English Literature and my least favourite was either PE or Religious Studies - the first because I am very ungainly and slightly asthmatic, the second because we literally only watched films and never actually learnt anything important about any religion other than Christianity.

3) October means Halloween: do you enjoy scary books and films?

I enjoy thrilling films/tv shows - I'm not so great with gore. I also don't particularly enjoy scary books - although I do like a bit of Scandi-crime every so often (in both tv and books) which is as scary as I get!

4) November means bonfire nights and firework displays: name a book that's kept you gripped.

Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill is by far the most gripping book I've read this year. I powered through it and really loved it - even if it horrified me 90% of the time.

5) What is your favourite cosy comfort read?

I'm going to avoid saying Harry Potter and instead go for anything by John Green - less because the content of his books were particularly soothing and more because I find his pattern of writng very reassuring.

6) Curled up with a good book, what's your hot drink of choice?

Peppermint and Licorice tea by Pukka! It's sweet and fresh and perfect no matter what time of the day.

7) Any plans you're looking forward to over the next few months?

I'm going to Portugal at the start of November for a long weekend with two of my best friends, which I am super excited for!

That's all for the tag! I'm not going to tag anyone specifically but tweet me @VickiMaitland if you have a go!

The original tag was created here:

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Two Stay-All-Day Cruelty Free Make-Up Products

I'm not the kind of girl who likes to carry around tubes of concealer, mascara, and pressed powder pallettes in my handbag. In fact, I barely ever touch up my makeup, unless I am going out for an evening do and I'm able to get home first. Make-up that lasts all day, however, is few and far between - especially since I have skin on the oiler end of the spectrum that literally eats make-up!

However, I have found two products that really do make a difference to the longevity of my make-up. I wouldn't recommend using them both every day, as I can't imagine that they do much good for your pores but, for those super intensive days when you want to look as good at 8pm as you do at 8am, these products are real holy grail items! One goes under your make-up, the other on top - and they are both cruelty free.

NYX HD Primer

This is a thick-ish, blue-ish primer that definitely doesn't give you skin that 'glide-right-off' feeling of traditional primers. It does help make-up stay firmly in place, however, and I've always been impressed about how much product is left on my cleanser pad at the end of a long day when I've worn this. It's worth noting that although NYX is a PETA certified cruelty free brand, they are owned by Loreal.

UR Cheeky Freeze Frame Setting Spray 

I've had this bottle for a couple of years now and truth be told it is probably time for me to throw it out and re-purchase it. This used to be my go-to at uni to keep my make-up on through a sweaty night of dancing and, when I've accidentally slept in makeup after spritzing with this, I've been complemented on how good it still looks the morning after!

What products do you use to keep your make-up in place from dusk till dawn? Tweet me your cruelty free suggestions @VickiMaitland or leave me a comment below!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Currently Reading - October 2016

My currently reading pile is pretty mammoth at the moment - probably the biggest it has ever been. I just can't seem to settle with a book, which is saying something for me, and I'm a hundred or so pages through five or six books. I really do want to continue with them, though, especially the two that I'm super close to finishing, and I'm making it my goal this month to half my currently reading pile. I also have a small pile of Darling magazines that I've half read, as well as the Rookie Yearbook 4, so I'd like to finish flicking through a couple of those by the end of the month too. I'm going to list this in reverse order, from the book I picked up most recently to the oldest book on my pile.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden - I responded to a call for bloggers from Ebury Press to get a proof of this book. Set in Russia, it combines mystery and magic with a coming of age story (as far as I can tell) and I'm about 50 pages in so far. I'm enjoying it and I wouldn't be at all surprised if this was the first book I finished this month.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff - I hauled this book not so long ago and I'm about 100 pages into this and mostly enjoying it. The way it is written it really interesting - it really fluidly moves through time, which can be a little disorientating, and I do keep having to remind myself who is who. It's about Mathilde and Lotto - a young couple with a relationship riddled with secrets and history.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - I'm 130 pages through this, just beginning Act Two, Scene 11. So far I have very mixed feelings and to be honest I just need to sit down and finish this! I'm intrigued to know where the story is going and, although I'm not a huge fan of the quality of the dialogue, I do find myself getting swept up in the story each time I sit with it.

Posh by Laura Wade - I've seen The Riot Club and, to be honest, the only thing that is putting me off finishing this is how angry I get each time I read it. I know I'm in the closing pages but I just can't bring myself to read it! This is a play based on a fictional club at an 'Oxbridge' university, but it plays off some of the truths we know about The Bullingdon Club - a prestigious society that was home to most of the Tory party back in their university days.

The Four-Dimensional Human by Laurence Scott - I started reading this on my journey home from Munich earlier in the summer, which, to be honest, was probably bad timing on my part. This book needs significantly more concentration than I'm able to give it, which is why I'm still only 68 pages through. Truth be told, I should probably remove my bookmark and start again - I would like to have finished this book by the end of the year but I'm dubious about being able to tackle it this month. This is a non-fiction book which looks at the way we interact with technology.

John Dies At The End by David Wong - As far as I can remember I am literally pages away from the end of this. I was reading it on holiday in South Africa but I never managed to finish it. I need to re-charge my kindle and knuckle down with this one - I'd probably finish it in a matter of minutes. This is a very odd book to describe... it is about a drug called 'soy sauce' which enables the person who takes it to see demons. It's very surreal and fairly amusing, although I did remember thinking that it was about to finish only to see that I had over 50% of the book left to go!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo - This book was on everybody's lips at the start of the year and I actually started reading this book in January. However, I stopped 130 pages in when I realised that I didn't have time to tidy my room and I didn't want to forget all Marie's tips. Suffice to say, I never picked up the book again. This is one of the ones I really want to have finished this month, especially since I've remembered the basic gist of her theory a whole 10 months on anyway!

So there you have it, my rather too long currently reading list! Are there any books you're struggling to get through? Have you got any tips for someone in the depths of a reading slump like I am? You can let me know on Twitter @VickiMaitland

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

CAFIN Clothing #ootd

I first heard of the brand CAFIN when they started following me on Instagram. They would like the odd post and it made sure that their name stayed in the front of my mind. Eventually I got curious, checked out their website, and really liked what I saw.

CAFIN - or Catching a Fish in Norway - are an ethical streetwear brand. This means that they manufacture clothing in a fair trade and carbon neutral manner, with a certain percentage of their profits going towards supporting emerging artists. All of these are things I can really get behind, and for more information about the work the brand does - as well as to buy the clothes - you can check out their website.

After a couple of months of dillydallying for no good reason, I took the plunge and ordered a couple of items from their collection. The first was one of their long sleeved white t-shirts and the second a black sweatshirt. Both of them feature the classic CAFIN fish print. I placed the order on a Saturday and the clothes came the following Thursday, which I thought was a pretty good delivery time!

I tried on the t-shirt first. This came up slightly longer than I was expecting it to, although considering it is a unisex fit I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. I love the relaxed fit, though, and the material feels really good quality. I've decided to wear it with the sleeves slightly rolled up, although in the winter the longer sleeve length will be perfect! It is a true white tee, so ignore the blue tint in the photos - that's just the result of the lighting!

Next I pulled on the sweater. If the tee was longer length than I was expecting then the sweatshirt was perfect! Its really soft on the inside and again the material feels like it's good quality. The cuffs are fairly tightly elasticated, so if you have chunkier wrists it might feel a little tight for the first couple of wears.

I'm really looking forward to wearing these in the coming months. Although they are not technically office clothing, I reckon I could get away with it since I currently work in the fishing tackle business!

I couldn't help but take a few shots in my new Watsky hat. I went to see him when he performed last week in London and it was hands down one of the best gigs I've been to. The energy in the room was outstanding and his stage prescience worked perfectly for the venue. I love this beanie, too, especially it's cute light bulb design.

If you like what you've seen definitely go and check out CAFIN!