Thursday, 30 January 2014

London Life: A Saturday in Chelsea & Battersea

It's been a few months since I last had a proper London adventure. Before I started my job and, consequently, a new chapter in my life, I spent a few days in London, visiting the Natural History Museum, British Museum, L'Eto Cafe and Barrica Tapas Bar. Since then I have been swept along in the current of life, visiting friends and family both in the UK and in Denmark, and I don't feel that I've had a moment to breathe - let alone go back up to the Big Smoke for another wander around it's streets.

Last weekend I decided to meet my parent up there, halfway between our two homes, to meet with my cousin who has just moved into a flat in Battersea. It was so lovely to see my Mum and Dad again, who I miss very much, and we enjoyed a lovely mocha and catch up at Benugo, my frequent mid-travel pit-stop in Waterloo Station, before catching another train to Clapham Junction and heading over to my cousin's new 'pad'.

His home, let me tell you, is a dream. It's cosy, and has just enough space for two, but it stylishly decorated and has a wonderfully homely feel about it. We chatted for hours over tea, cheese and olive bread, deli meats and quince jelly, before we decided to explore the local area.





I've never ventured as far out as Battersea and Chelsea before, usually favouring the immediacy of Soho, South Bank or Westminster. It was a very odd but fabulous feeling to be in a  new place in such a familiar city. In fact, it didn't really feel like London at all! The river was peaceful, and we saw sailing boats darting about the admittedly brown water. After looking around Battersea Square, we wandered up to King's Road in Chelsea.




I admired the up-market shops, cosy quirky cafes and glittering jewels in the windows. This was a place of style but also of contentment - everyone was going about their day, shopping, drinking coffee. We wandered into movie art shops, vintage stores, glittering market halls and lush green garden centres (in the middle of the city!). It was quite a wonderful place, and I would like to go back to experience it more! I have to admit, I did get excited when I spotted a Mary Quant shop after working on a 'Fashion Through the Ages' project in Year Five - I once was quite the budding fashionista! Unfortunately I didn't go in for the sake of my purse's well-being, but it was beautiful.










As I made my way along the roads I mentally made a list of where I'd like my future home to be (in my dreams, of course!). Some of the buildings are stunning, especially (of course) around Sloane Square. I didn't get to stay in Sloane Square due to time and the looming black clouds, but I hope to return in the future.
When we had made our way over to the other side of the river, over Chelsea bridge and down the other side towards Battersea park....the clouds began to close in around us. We'd already noticed how quickly the weather was changing - an hour beforehand the sky had been clear, but the sky grew steadily blacker.  The wind had been whipping itself up into some sort of frenzy whilst we were wandering along King's Road, but now it was beginning to really become something else. The sky deepened like spilt ink running across a page. 

As we approached Battersea bridge and passed the temple in Battersea Park, the heavens opened, and our umbrellas and hoods were made redundant as we ran down the pathway to find some shelter.




The river Thames had developed foaming waves, the water as dark as the sky, and the heavens split open, lightning cracking around the city, reaching out for skyscrapers and cranes. It was the brightest storm I had seen in years and we were right in the middle of it.

Eventually, my cousin hailed a cab and we made the last five minute journey back to his flat, the once beautiful day now a threatening, soggy mess. We warmed up with hot tea and chocolate fingers before my parents and I set off, each of us intent to make our own way home.

This was, however, easier said than done; all of my routes home had been cancelled due to fallen trees. It seemed that the ten minute tempest had caused havoc for the rest of the night. Waterloo was crowded, full of stranded visitors and irate Londoners, and there was no sign of being able to return to the south any time soon that night.

And so, with my soggy boots and rat-tailed hair, I boarded a train back to my proper home with my mum and dad for a spontaneous and much-needed visit. Which, after mugs of hot chocolate,  roast dinners, fish and chips and a roaring fire, turned out to be the best idea in the world.



Jo
xxx
 


Monday, 27 January 2014

Happiness is...(#2)

Each week I look back on the little things that made me happy - to remind myself that the world isn't so bad, even after a hard day.

This week, happiness is....


  • Receiving a surprise present from a colleague at work on Wednesday morning. Beautiful, and incredibly random act of kindness!
  • Celebrating my housemates birthday in our onesies with a huge Dominos Pizza order and very cute cupcakes.
  • Working in London on Monday - a change of scenery on a  beautiful sunny day.
  • Meeting my parents and cousin in London for the day on Saturday - Chelsea and Battersea are just beautiful.
  • Spending Sunday unexpectedly at home thanks to train cancellations. This meant a roast dinner, home comforts, spending time with my family and a delicious marshmallow-y hot chocolate.
  • Starting John Green's The Fault in our Stars - I am only 60 pages in but can tell it'll be one of my favorites!

What made you happy this week?


Jo
xxx
 

Friday, 24 January 2014

RECIPE: Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers

I'm always trying to think of new things to cook for dinner - meals which won't take too long to prepare after a long day in the office, which will fill me up and keep me happy, as well as allowing me to stay (relatively) healthy.

I found myself researching stuffed pepper recipes on Google one lunchtime and found one which inspired me to go ahead and make my own. It sounded so easy, tasty and most importantly, quick!

After finding this particular recipe on BBC Good Food I decided to buy my ingredients and give it a go with my initiative. I ended up using some ideas from this recipe but tweaking is a little to suit my tastes. They're really simple and taste so good for the short time they take to prepare!

You will need:
  • 1 pack Mediterranean microwaveable rice
  • 2 fresh peppers (or 1 if you want leftover filling)
  • Black olives
  • Apetina Mediterranean cheese (or Feta)
  • 1 courgette
  • Pack of mushrooms
  • Olive Oil
(serves two...or one, if you're like me!)
  1. Turn the oven up to about 200 degrees / gas mark 5/6 (this was a 'guestimate' to be honest, so go with your instinct).
  2. Halve your peppers and take the middle out, so that they form pepper 'boats'. 
  3. Microwave the rice as per instructions.
  4. While the rice is cooking, slice as many mushrooms and as much of the courgette as you want, and fry off in the olive oil in a pan.
  5. Once the rice is done, tip into a bowl and mix in the courgettes and mushrooms.
  6. While making the filling, put the peppers on a plate and place in the microwave for around 3 minutes (check regularly as this will vary - they need to be soft to your personal taste. It depends if you want a bit of bite)
  7. Slice the olives and mix into filling.
  8. Cube the cheese (as much as you want) and mix in too, so that it crumbles throughout the mixture.
  9. Take the halved peppers (gently - they'll be hot and soft!) and spoon in your mixture. If you're making just one pepper, save the rest of the filling for a salad the next day, or eat while you wait for the peppers to cook!
  10. Top with a little more cheese (or a lot, if you're like me) and carefully place on a baking tray with a spatula.
  11. Pop into the oven for around 10 minutes, or until the pepper is starting to char slightly. This again is personal preference - it depends how you like your veg! They may stick to the baking tray so be careful!
  12. Remove and serve with a salad.


Et voila! It's really simple, but totally delicious! You don't just have to use these fillings either; I'm now thinking of making it using...
  • Goat's Cheese, green pesto and pine nuts.
  • Curried rice with chick peas, spinach and paneer cheese.
  • Couscous, feta, olives and lots of char-grilled vegetables.
  • Tomato rice, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, mozzarella cheese and basil.
Jo
xxx
 


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Happiness is...(#1)

The one thing I've really noticed from chatting to fellow bloggers and readers on twitter is how much everyone loves a personal post. Despite many writer's reluctance to post more personal anecdotes out here on the big wide web, most of us love to be nosey and get a taste of our favourite blogger's lives. I know I'm exactly the same...and so I thought I'd dip my toe into the pond of personal posts and start a new series.

I can imagine most of you have seen the Instagram / Twitter hashtag project "100 Happy Days" - the basis of which is to record what makes you happy for 100 days in a row to prove to yourself how good your life is and how the little things can really make a difference...at least, that's what I can gather!

I thought this was a wonderful idea. Too often we get bogged down in the big, complicated parts of life (bills, jobs, deadlines...) and we don't get to cherish how ood life really can be. Sometimes it's a big thing which makes you happy - a great result at work, a wedding, pay day - and sometimes it can be something really small and obscure - like a good night's sleep, fresh bread or morning frost on the grass.

I want to take on this idea and make sure I appreciate the little things in life.

However, instead of clogging up my Instagram and Twitter feeds with my own mundane images and statements, I've decided to start blogging about what makes me happy weekly. I've been having a few rough days recently, and I think recording my happy moments will mean I'll be able to appreciate how good my life is, and will be good to look back on in a year or so.

It also means you lot get to be a little nosey too, so you see...we both win!

I'm going to say I'll be doing this weekly but we'll see. I'll try my best!

So here's my first 'Happiness Is....' for 2014:


  • Trying out spin class for the first time and not quitting ten minutes in...which I nearly did. It was worth the initial pain.
  • Receiving my beautiful new Illamasqua nail varnish in the post
  • Having coffee and a long awaited catch up with my friend Maja who was over from Sweden, in my favourite cafe.
  • Spending the weekend in beautiful Cambridge with my boyfriend.
    • Finally seeing The Hobbit and loving every moment, much to my surprise!
    • Drinking the best Hot Chocolate I've had in a long time.
    • Did I mention how beautiful Cambridge is?
    • Opting to stay in on Sunday evening and treating ourselves to an incredible Marks & Spencer roast dinner with lamb shank and mash. Heaven in my mouth.
What made you happy last week?


Jo
xxx
 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Yankee Candle: Vanilla Chai

It's almost a staple for all bloggers; that fat, tubby glass jar filled with overwhelming fragrance; the scent of freshly washed cotton, ocean spray or sweet pears and spices.

Yankee Candles are one of the most coveted candle brands out there; along with Diptyque, The White Company, Jo Malone and Lily-Flame. Their jars are iconic, the scents varied, and they burn for hours on end.

I've been coveting Yankee candles for months;  my mum bought me four Yankee Candle Wax Tarts this summer, and so my collection began, but I unfortunately didn't have a burner to use, and only recently got round to buying one.

Then, this Christmas, I received my first Medium Jar Yankee Candle in Vanilla Chai. I was ecstatic - this was the prefect scent for me; sweet, mixed with spices and warmth which is perfect for January and evening spent inside blogging away with a cup of tea, while the rain lashes down on the window.




I recently gave in and started burning it, as it was far too pretty to use at first - it smells wonderful and like most Yankee Candles it's quite powerful without begin overwhelming. The scent lingers in my room after I blow out the flame, so when I wake up the next morning it's still there to wake me up for work.





I love the scent, as I'm a fan of sweet smells and am an even bigger fan of vanilla chai lattes - it's like living in my favourite cafe! If you prefer cleaner, fruitier and maybe less wintery fragrances then maybe this isn't for you., but I absolutely adore it.

The other thing about Yankee Candles is that they last for ages. I fully expect this candle to last for a year - and afterwards I'll have a very cute jar to store nick knacks in. You can tell it's a high-quality candle just by the wax itself (you'll understand what I mean if you have one).

I was a little concerned that they wouldn't live up to the hype - sometimes items can be mentioned on blogs and everyone seems to have one - which is definitely the case with Yankee Candles - but sometimes the products aren't great. I have not been disappointed so far - it's definitely lived up to my expectations and I'd say if you love candles or interior decorating it's worth the extra money - and even more so if you're given one as a gift.

I'll be looking at my wax tarts soon and trying out a few more fragrances, but for now I am absolutely smitten with my Vanilla Chai candle.

Are you a fan of Yankee Candles? Let me know what your favourites are, or whether or not you think they live up to their reputation in the comments below!

Jo
xxx
 

Friday, 17 January 2014

Illamasqua Nail Varnish in 'Faithful'

When it comes to buying beauty products, you'll frequently find me prowling around the cosmetics section in my nearest Boots or Superdrug, eyeing up the 3-for-2 offers and 'free gifts of you spend £15' posters. As you may have seen in my last post about my Benefit makeover, I covet the high-end brands but am often careful with my pretty pennies.

Except....January is a very dangerous time thanks to the sales which spring up here there and everywhere. It's not often I actually take the plunge, but when I saw someone on my twitter feed mention that Illamasqua had a sale on, I just had to check it out.

Illamasqua boasts professional-quality cosmetics at a more affordable price, selling eye-catching and unique products. Launched in 2008, they pride themselves on encouraging experimentation and exploration in beauty - allowing for uniqueness to shine through, providing colours for your 'alter ego'. Alongside the beauty staples they have some really outlandish and stunning products, which truthfully I've never been brave enough to even consider!

I'm not so sure about embellishing my own alter-ego with brightly coloured eye shadows and lipsticks, but their reputation and great reviews have nudged them onto my 'One Day I'll Buy That' list, especially in terms of their foundations, highlighters and eyeliners.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the fantastic discounts they had on some of their products last week, and took a look at each and every item on offer; eye pencils, highlighters, eye shadows and perfumes....there was so much choice. In the end I considered how long I had until pay day and plumped for one of their nail varnishes for just £5 (reduced from £14.50 - with free postage!). I decided to play it safe with a fairly neutral colour, in Faithful. Three days later, and this is what I received in the post;


I instantly fell in love with the packaging - anything that comes in a pretty, luxurious box gets my vote straight away.It's simple, classic and sophisticated - exactly my type of thing, and exactly what I expected from Illamasqua!The varnish bottle itself is lovely too and will take pride of place on my makeup table -it not only looks great but is practical too (but more on that later).


Look at it - isn't it pretty??

I was a little nervous about the colour, as I usually like to see my products in person before I buy them. Sometimes I find shades are deceptively inaccurate in photographs, and I was worried it wouldn't be the colour I was expecting. I rarely buy anything online, so it's always a concern of mine! I needn't have worried, however; Faithful is a really beautiful coppery brown, with a glossy finish and a metallic edge. It's not overly glittery, but has a gorgeous shimmer which means it's different without being outrageous.

It has warm pink tones in the light with a slightly gold touch to it, which means it goes very well with my pale skin. I'm not sure how it would look with a tan - probably not as eye-catching - but I never tan anyway, so that's not a problem for me!

The varnish itself was very easy to apply - the perfect consistency - and the brush was easy to use. I liked the large square lid; it gave me more to hold on to than the usual thin cylinder you find on most varnish bottles, which meant I felt more confident applying the varnish, and was left with barely any mistakes. I followed advice and applied two coats on top of a base coat which provided great coverage, but didn't add a top coat as I ran out of time. The finish was still very shiny however so I don't think a top coat will always be needed when I wear this beauty! I will do so in the future when I can though, just to add an extra element of shine.


This photo doesn't quite do the colour justice I promise; you can find a better likeness on the product page.

I've now been wearing it for about three days and it has chipped a little around the edges - just everyday wear-and-tear. Unfortunately this did happen in the first day, but there was minimal chipping and I barely noticed. I'm not too bothered - compared to a number of high-street varnishes, which can sometimes completely peel off the next day, this is excellent and I'm sure if I follow the brand's advice and apply a good topcoat it will prevent chipping from happening so quickly. I also find myself doing things throughout the day which will chip my nails - I think unless you sit still all day and barely use your hands, you will get some natural wear and tear - but I am very pleased to see that most of the varnish is still there and will probably last for just over a week.

Overall, I adore the colour and the varnish. It's a beautiful product and a great first step into the world of Illamasqua, and I will definitely be looking into expanding my collection in the future. I'm not really sure if I would spend nearly £15 on a nail varnish - maybe only special occasions and in sales! - but for just £5 I think this was a real bargain.

Are you a fan of Illamasqua? Let me know about your favourite product in the comments below!

Jo
xxx
 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The Unexpected Benefit Makeover

Last weekend I found myself in Boots buying a couple of bathroom essentials when I was approached by a lovely lady, who asked me if I would like to have a free Benefit pampering session.

My first thought was 'Of course!' swiftly followed by 'Oh No!' - I'd woken up that morning with horribly dry skin and a number of horrid blemishes - typical, on the one day when someone wants to get up close and personal with my face!

However, I excitedly agreed and headed over to the Benefit counter, where I had spend many moments before looking at the products longingly and creating a wishlist in my head.




I've never been able to use Benefit makeup before, unless you count a very miniature sample of Posie Tint I got in a magazine about three years ago (even that sample was sublime!). I couldn't wait to have this makeover - mainly because I am slightly challenged when it comes to applying my own makeup and I now had the opportunity to ask for any makeup tips. I'm never sure which products I should be wearing where, so this was the perfect opportunity to gain some confidence as well as road-test a few Benefit products!

My Benefit lady, Lauren, was extremely cheerful, chatty and friendly the entire time. Whilst she applied my makeup we discussed television programmes, films and local restaurants, and I felt completely at ease and even felt confident enough to ask about what she was doing, what she recommended and any tips she might have.

She cleaned the very little  makeup I had applied that morning off of my face, applied a deliciously indulgent moisturiser (which felt like a massage...so good!) and started to apply my makeup. She asked me what I usually wore - neutrals, I told her, normally brown eyeshadow and / or winged eyeliner - and she set to work recreating my normal look.

As well as all of the basics (primer, foundation, eyeshadow, mascara, blush) I even asked her about doing my eyebrows and applying highlighter - two things I'm not so confident about doing myself, which she did without a fuss.


And here's the finished result:




(Please excuse the awful photos - I'm not one hundred per cent confident having my face on here looming over you all, but I wanted to show you what the makeup looked like - you can't write a blog post about a makeover and not show the finished product!)

Here are all of the products she used on my face - I've linked each one to the Benefit website, so you can see more about the products.


Prep:

Prime:

Perfect:

Creaseless Cream Eyeshadow in Bikini Tini 

Longwear Powder Shadows in Gilt-y Pleasure; Kiss Me I'm Tipsy; Call My Buff


Unfortunately Lauren didn't write down what she used on my lips (it was a beautiful nude which tasted of lychees!) but you can find Benefit's lipgloss selection HERE.





So after having lusted after Benefit makeup for years, what did I think of the finished result?

The look was wonderful, and exactly what I would wear for an important day in the office or for a gorgeous day-to-night look if I was going out straight from work. I loved my eye shadow, and was particularly impressed with the quality of the colours. Using Stay Don't Stray  beneath the shadows made them stay in place for the rest of the afternoon, and even made it tricky to remove them - which is exactly what I would want from high-end makeup like this!

I have to say that I was very impressed with The POREfessional. I've seen so many reviews floating around the blogosphere absolutely raving about this product, so I was extremely excited to have the chance to try it out - I would definitely consider buying it for myself in the future - though I may have to save it for a special treat as the price tag isn't in my usual budget price range! If I could find a cheaper alternative, I'd be very happy.

I did like the They're Real! Mascara. It didn't blow me away as I expected, but the great thing was it didn't clump or go flaky - my lashes looked fresh, separated and very cute. I won't be rushing out to buy this mascara, but it certainly gets my seal of approval.

The only think I wasn't so impressed with was the Hello Flawless foundation. At the beginning of this post I mentioned I had terrible skin - very, very dry in my T-zone and nose areas - but the foundation just looked flaky and dry once applied, and really didn't give me any coverage. I'm sure this is due to my own bad skin, and so before I really write the product off completely I would be interested to see if it looks better once my skin has improved. It was a little disconcerting, however, since I was given a good coat of moisturiser and primer at the beginning of my session.

I was curious to see what my already large eyebrows would look like having been touched up with Brow Zings. I am very careful not to touch my eyebrows but have always wondered if I should take more care of them - mine tend to be quite big even after a good plucking session (thank goodness that's quite fashionable now!) and are very naturally thick and dark. I liked the result - they didn't look fake or overdone - the only problem was that it highlighted how badly shaped my brows really are! I'd never realised they were so uneven. I think a trip to the local salon is needed!

In retrospect, then, I would definitely be interested in buying The POREfessional, the longwear and creaseless cream shadows, High Beam and the Stay Don't Stray eyeshadow primer. I'm not really convinced about the others; I'd never say never, though, and will happily try them out again in the future to give them another chance!

I had a great time trying out new products and I thought that Lauren gave great customer service (if anyone from Benefit Cosmetics is reading this, she works in the Boots store in Southampton City Centre) - I'd definitely recommend heading over to the Benefit counter near you if you have any makeup-related questions or queries. I'll certainly be going back if I need help with anything else!

Do you rate Benefit Cosmetics? What do you use or lust after?



Jo
xxx
 


Sunday, 12 January 2014

My Blogging Inspiration

I've only been blogging for just over two months, but have been dreaming about it for a lot longer. I wanted to start at the beginning of 2013 but due to my Postgraduate degree I had no time to do so - and if I had, it would have suffered. I didn't want to put little effort into something I felt so passionate about. So, as soon as I finished my degree, I started to make plans, and eventually created She Wears Burgundy.

However, whilst I was waiting to blog, I was consuming as much content as possible in order to become inspired. I discovered Bloglovin', started following my long-term favourites, and tentatively began to comment on a few of my favourite posts. These blogs kept me sane when the work was getting a bit too much, and I felt inspired - I wanted to write, and not just essays! The end of my Masters degree heralded the beginning of my blogging.

There are just five blogs which spring to mind when I think about what inspired me to start blogging. I still endeavour and aspire to write, design and communicate like these particular bloggers, and hope to one day be half as good as them!

Obviously, I read more blogs, and love them all - I have developed so many favourites over the last few months that it would be hard to choose between them! However, I thought I would share these five blogs which have been such an influence and motivation in my own work for many months; maybe you'll find a new favourite, or perhaps they're already saved in your bookmarks!

I've linked each heading to the blogger's profile, so you can see what they're really about for yourself.


Zoella



Zoella, run by Zoe Sugg, is an accompaniment to her YouTube Channel, which is her main focus. It's not updated very often, but when it is there is always something wonderful to find, and it's definitely a matter of quality over quantity. I stumbled across her blog about a year ago when I was researching anxiety issues. Her post, which you can find here, was incredibly touching, thought provoking and helpful, and I was instantly hooked on her blog. The post had clearly helped so many others. Her success has blossomed greatly recently, and she now has a huge following.  Her blog isn't just about the emotional posts; her reviews, life updates and outfit posts are all incredibly readable, and the more I read, the more I was inspired to start my own blog. Zoe's YouTube channel is also worth looking at: you an find this here.

Two of my favourite posts: Panic Attacks and Autumnal Hair & Makeup

 

CoutureGirl



Kayleigh's blog was another one which was instantly a favourite of mine as soon as I stumbled across it. Her writing is fantastic and the range of her blog posts means there is always something new to read. I always read her work and am particularly a fan of her reviews - she focuses mainly on affordable products and gives her thoroughly honest opinion, which is so valuable. I know I can go to her blog for a reliable review if I have a query about a product. The thing I love the most, however, is how completely relatable she is. She seems so down to earth. She really has influenced my own work - I hope that I can develop an honest and accurate - yet friendly! - voice when I review products like her. I can't wait to see what she posts next!

Two of my favourite posts: My MAC Lipstick Collection and Bullying: My Story
 

The Londoner


Rosie's blog is just another world. One minute  you'll be on sun soaked boats in Italy sampling Mediterranean salads; the next, you'll be dashing through rain showers on the streets of the London to the nearest museum. You can always rely on Rosie to post something which will fill your dreary day with luxury, glamour and often comfort. I first discovered Rosie's blog after a friend shared her infamous 'Slutty Brownies' recipe and suddenly it seemed I had read her entire post archive - she kept me warm and hopeful when I was struggling under mountains of work for my Master's. I find that her pieces are often inspirational and aspirational and I hope one day to experience just some of the things she gets up to. I am especially influenced by her posts about trips and days out; she makes every gallery visit, cheese-covered fry and shopping spree seem like an adventure. A definite must-read.

Two of my Favourite Posts: The Anti-Diet and Slutty Brownies


Hannah Maggs


Hannah is another wonderful blogger who I have been following for a year or so. Again, she was one of the first blogs I came across during my studies, and I was absolutely taken in by her candid tales and stunning photographs. I started off reading her beauty reviews and watching her vlog for makeup advice, and then I began keeping up with her life. Her emotional posts were so touching - again, it seems the more relatable and honest a blogger is, the faster I am taken in! I started reading when she was still A Little Beauty Blog but now she has had a revamp. Things have been incredibly busy for Hannah; in 2013, she got married, and it was wonderful to read about her adventures. Then...she got pregnant! Following her on this journey was incredibly informative, funny and emotional. She's just given birth, and I want to wish her all the happiness for the future. You can expect plenty of reviews and family adventures from this yummy mummy in 2014 I am sure!

Two of my favourite posts: Introducing our Jeffy Bump and Draw My Life


Wonderful You

Megan (or Megs) has hair I would kill for and is absolutely stunning! But that's really not all, and like all the other bloggers I am inspired by she has a fantastic personality and writes incredibly well. I can't really remember how I stumbled across her corner of the internet - possibly on Instagram or a feature on another blog - but I started reading and haven't stopped since. She posts a range of OOTDs, hauls and beauty posts. I trust her reviews too, since she always looks so lovely! She also films vlogs which are as good as her blog posts, and what really draws me to her blog are her beautiful photos. I'd love to blog in a similar way to Megs - you feel welcomed in as a reader, as if she's talking just to you. She's the sort of person I would love to be friends with; down to earth, funny and a wonderful writer.And that's why her blog inspires me!



These five bloggers kept me sane during the hardest parts of my university education; they help me with my beauty questions and with my anxiety and give me a desire to make the most of life. Hopefully, one day, my blogging will influence someone else. For now, however, I'll continue reading their wonderful posts and building my own blog to be the best it can be!

Let me know which bloggers inspire you in the comments below - I'd love to hear about them!





Jo
xxx
 

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

January Sale Bargains

I've already posted about what I got for Christmas, but now it's time to share my own bargains! I know many fellow bloggers enjoy snooping about to see what everyone is buying and so now I'd like to join in.

Thanks to living on a very tight student budget for four years, and barely earning anything before that, I'm used to averting my eyes and ears when the January and summer sales come round. However, now that I have my first job, I decided that, this year, I would treat myself to a few things, all of which I need and desire. I can't help but feel very guilty whenever I go shopping, so I resisted the temptation to take anything back and am now really grateful that I didn't!

Here are just some of the bargains I found in the sales (I bought some underwear too but I'm not really keen on letting the world see what I wear under my clothes!)

Urban Outfitters


I love Urban Outfitters - it's one of my favourite stores and I was ecstatic when they opened one close to me! Their content is really eclectic and, though I can't always find something for me in store (I just can't pull off PVC leggings and tiny crop tops) I enjoy feasting my eyes on some of their unusual stock. This was the first shop I hit in the sales and so I didn't go silly, but I absolutely love what I found in there:






Makeup bag: £7 (reduced from £12), Earrings: £3 each (reduced from £6)


I was lusting after this makeup bag before Christmas so I jumped with excitement when I saw that it was on sale! It's beautiful, understated and the perfect size for putting my makeup essentials into my handbag. Definitely one of my favourite sales purchases - I just know it will last for a very long time.

The earrings are also stunning - I love the jewellery in UO but often find it overpriced. These were half price, so such a bargain, and I wanted to get some different jewellery. I don't wear earrings enough, and wanted to build a collection this year! I've been wearing the second pair almost nonstop.

Boots 


I needed to buy some mascara anyway, as my Rimmell mascara had run out just around Christmas (the horror!), so I went into Boots to just have a browse at their 3 for 2 offers. I stumbled across this gift set from Soap & Glory, and instantly knew I had to have it.






Soap & Glory Eyes Box: £8 (reduced from £19)


Boots have a great sale on after Christmas, with all of their fabulous gift sets around half price. I knew this would be ideal for me. Not only have I wanted to try Soap & Glory makeup for ages, but it turned out cheaper to buy this set than to buy the S&G mascara on its own! The mascara alone is £10, but for £2 less I also got  Smoulder Kohl waterproof eyeliner, six Lid Stuff eyeshadow shades and a mirror & brush! I thought it was an absolute bargain. 

I have so far worn both the mascara and eyeliner and adore them both, and can't recommend them enough. They have great staying power and are easy to apply - I hope to review them both soon. The eyeshadows are beautifully pigmented and although I haven't tried them yet, I will do soon!

Before Christmas, when the sales prices were already coming into store, I also treated myself to a curling wand, since I had my hair cut short and wanted to experiment. I went for this Remmington Pearl curling wand (which you can find HERE



Remmington C196W1 Curling Wand: £19.99 (reduced from £34.99) 


Sadly it doesn't seem to be on sale any more, but I managed to get it for just over half price, which for me was a bargain. It comes with a pouch and heat defense gloves, and it's a beautiful colour. I used it on Christmas Day and it gave me fantastic results, lasting overnight! I couldn't be happier with this bargain. I'll be reviewing this product for you in the future too.

Accessorize


I've never been able to resist an Accessorize sale! I did look at a few handbags but didn't want to go silly, so I simply went for two more earring sets to start off my year. 





Rose Gold studs: £2.50 (reduced from £5) Sterling Silver Studs: £3 (reduced from £6)


These two sets are both simple and I expect them to go with most outfits. I've been loving Rose Gold since I saw a few beauty posts featuring the colour - I still have yet to find the Rose Gold Sally Hansen varnish as seen on Fleur De Force's blog! I also wanted to get the sterling silver ones as sometimes my ears misbehave and react to non-silver earrings - so these should calm them down if they're feeling sensitive. I couldn't resist these and have worn them a lot already. Sometimes, simple is better - though I'm sure it won't be logn until I give in and buy a few statement earrings!

Primark


Since moving out of my family home for my new job (can I still call it a new job when I've been there for two months!?) I have been wanting to make my new room as personal and cosy as possible. I spotted a beautiful dark green tartan and fleece-lined throw in Primark before Christmas - however, by the time I made it to the sales it had already gone. I did, nevertheless, find this beauty:






Tartan Throw: £3.90 (reduced from £5)


Granted, it wasn't much money off, but it was already cheap! It's not huge, and maybe next time I'll pay a little more for one of their 'Extra Large' throws, but it really goes well in my room and is so, so soft! I love it and look forward to snuggling down in it this January.

 Waterstones


I am a huge, huge fan of getting organised; I've been keeping a written diary for many many years and always have another for dates and appointments in my bag, along with my iPhone Calendar and Hotmail Calendar! This year I couldn't wait to get planning, especially with all the things I want to do, and when I heard that Waterstones had Half Price Moleskine diaries, I just had to check it out!




Moleskine Daily Diary, Soft Cover: £9.25 (reduced from £18.50)


I managed to grab the last one in my local store, which was a huge relief. I have to admit, this is the one purchase I am most excited about! I would never pay nearly £20 for a diary, so to get this half price was amazing. For me, it's worth paying more for something I am going to rely on all year, and Moleskine's are reputed to be fantastic. I am not disappointed; the pages are immaculate, the cover is beautiful and it's so simple and sophisticated! I can tell it's high quality. I plan to do a full post on it soon, so I'll leave it there for now!

New Look


I ventured into New Look warily - the sale can get a little messy in there, but I have been in dire need for new clothes and shoes for some time, and really wanted to find something. Their latest collections have been lovely, so I was determined to find at least one thing at a discount! I wasn't disappointed and spotted these gems.






Gold Studded Peplum top: £6 (reduced from about £12.99), Grey Skater Skirt: £5 (reduced from about £12.99), Dark Burgundy Brogues: £10 (reduced from about £25)


Apologies for the vague prices, but I couldn't remember how much they cost originally as I wore them pretty much straight away! I chose the top for something different, and it was perfect for New Years Eve. The skirt  is simple and perfect for both casual and work wear, and fits really well. The shoes...well! I've been wanting these for months and was ecstatic when they were so cheap, and in my size! No doubt I will wear these to death. The new collections in New Look are looking gorgeous and I'm sure when Pay Day comes round at the end of this month I will be treating myself to a couple of new-season beauties.

So there you have it: my January Sale bargains! 

If you've written a blog post or filmed a video about your purchases in the sales, let me know in the comments below!

Jo
xxx
 

Monday, 6 January 2014

What I Got for Christmas 2013

This is my first 'Haul' post on my blog! I've seen a lot of these around and thought I might join in - I know a few fellow bloggers love to be nosey about what others buy and receive at Christmas, and I thought you might like to see what I was lucky enough to be given.

I'm not one for boasting, so here's a little disclaimer; I'm not showing off, or gloating. I'm not going to put absolutely everything I got for Christmas up, only t items I will probably be reviewing separately over the coming month. I'm not confident about doing posts like this, so if you really like / dislike this please let me know for future reference.

Ok, now that's over, I'll begin!



This is my first proper Yankee Candle, which I got from my parents. It smells absolutely divine, and I just can't bring myself to burn it just yet! I'm sure I'll give in very soon though, it's far too gorgous to just leave sitting on my shelf. I'll be reviewing this soon for you all.




These beautiful earrings were from my Nan. Before I was given these, I only had one pair of decent silver earrings - and now I have two! They're so simple and delicate and I just can't wait to wear them soon. I'm a lucky girl!




Here are  a selection of my beauty gifts! A real range, and I can't wait to use them all. I received a few Soap & Glory minis, a Lush Butterball bath bomb, a nail buffer, a beautiful No.7 Eye Shadow, Topshop Nail Varnish, a sample of John Frieda's Frizz Ease Masque, Maxfactor Lipfinity (to replace my old one!) Paul Smith's Floral (one of my favourite perfumes), Joules Bath Fizzes, a Bath Fizz from Fenwick's, Accessorize Velvet Nail kit, Real Techniques Brushes and an Imperial Leather Body Wash.

These are all wonderful gifts - I will be reviewing a number of these products soon as well. I also received a beautiful blue nail varnish from my best friend Lou, which I am thinking of using this week. From the looks of this, 2014 will be a beautiful year!




I was lucky enough to be given the Real Techniques Core Collection! I've seen so many excellent reviews of these brushes online and am so excited to be able to try them myself now. One of my New Year's Resolutions is to try out more makeup and to learn how to apply products properly and these should be just the thing! Another review will be on the way, and if you have any tutorial links, please share them with me.




I was given this beautiful makeup bag by my parents as well - it's a large one, and fits my entire makeup collection! Perfect for keeping my shelves tidy and also for taking things on my travels.  I love the pattern and the fabric means that I can wipe it clean!




As well as some fantastic bed socks, my sister gave me this stunning dress. It's from Dorothy Perkins, and is a perfect length to make it suitable for both casual wear, a night out, and for work! The pattern is very pretty and it's the perfect colour to go with everything. I'll be wearing this constantly.




My parents also gave me this jumper - perfect for chilly January weekends; I've already worn it countless times and it is so cosy and comfortable. You would never know that it is from Primark as it feels so much more high-end! I love the chunky knit too.




I've been using the same handbag for years - it's become a little mucky, with ink stains and worn fabric, so it's about time I got a new one. Mum and Dad gave me this beautiful bag from Zara - firstly, it's HUGE and I can fit everything in it! Secondly, it's a beautiful dark burgundy colour. They know me so well!!




The final gift I'd like to share is this book - I've heard so many things about it and it is next on my reading list. I know it'll be a tear jerker!

These are some of the gifts I received which I thought you might like to read about - I was given a few more, but I want to keep those personal. I received some lovely slippers from one of my dearest friends, so many meaningful trinkets and stationery items. My best friend Lou gave me three frames filled with pictures of us and some lovely bits and pieces, which I adore! My boyfriend also gave me a sketchpad and pencils so that I can rekindle my love for art, so I envisage many soggy January evenings spent aiming to retrieve my artistic skills! I do feel very, very lucky and want to thank everyone who took the time to buy me a gift - and I hope you liked yours too!

I am the sort of person who prefers buying gifts for others, and had I had time at Christmas I would have written a blog about my Christmas shopping (though it would have ruined all the surprises!).

I hope you had a fantastic Christmas and received some lovely treats too.

If you've written a post about what you got for Christmas, please share the link in the comments - I'd love to be nosey! 

Jo
xxx
 

Sunday, 5 January 2014

2014: Hopes, Dreams & Resolutions



I've been making New Year's Resolutions for years - scribbling them down in my diary from 2004 or maybe even longer ago. I never really kept them, sadly.  However, 2013 has been such an inspiration (you can read about what I got up to HERE) I feel that I really could achieve some of my goals and dreams this year, and writing them on this blog makes me more accountable. So here we go.
My Hopes, Dreams and Resolutions for 2014:

1.      Maintain good health 


This is standard for most people, I think. Every year I write something about losing weight, dieting or eating better. This year I just want to be healthy and happy, and I feel that I can achieve this. I'm not going to promise to cut out cheese, chocolate and pies completely - that would be too far and may cause me to binge even more! However, I pledge to exercise regularly to counteract my sedentary working life. I will, therefore, go to the gym regularly each week, be more conscious of what I eat, and try to get more sleep. Treats should be treats and not a regular meal choice. This will hopefully lead to a healthier and happier body and therefore a healthier and happier Jo.


2.      Drink more water
   
I’ve seen this on a number of other blogs, so it seems to be a common issue. I never ever drink enough and regularly find myself dehydrated – I just don’t enjoy drinking water. I normally feel tired, headachey and hungry when I’m not, which I know is the effect of dehydration. So 2014 will be the year when I train myself to drink more, feel better and therefore aiding the first resolution. If any of you have advice for this, please leave me a comment below!


3.      Improve my blog
  
I’ve only been blogging for two months, so there is plenty of work to do. I want to improve the look of She Wears Burgundy – the blogs I’ve been reading for the last couple of years look so professional, and I want to achieve that – so I’ll have to teach myself! I also want to reach more readers, get to know a few fellow bloggers and write great content on a regular basis. This might be a lot to ask but by the end of this year I want to be happy with what I am creating! So here are my blogging goals:

·         Redesign and create my own image and style

·         Improve photo quality (even without high-end equipment)

·         Blog on a regular basis about a wide variety of subjects – more fashion and beauty posts, perhaps.

 



4.      Appreciate my loved ones
  
My loved ones – my friends, family and my boyfriend – have been incredible over the last year and I always worry that I am not showing them how much they mean to me – so, I would like 2014 to be the year of love and appreciation, to make sure they all know what they mean to me. Simple.


5.      Improve my beauty skills
  
This may seem a little silly, but I’m not very good at makeup – I only use the basics and have no idea where to put things, how to apply products or even what’s best for my skin tone. I already received some Real Techniques brushes for Christmas and I hope this is the start of a more grown up attitude towards makeup – after all, I am 23!


6.      Cook more
  
I am becoming increasingly aware of my embarrassing cooking skills. I can cook, and eat a range of meals, but I look on with jealousy when others concoct delicious simple dishes with a few herbs and spices. I also hope to cook more for friends and family and, perhaps, my own family when I am older. And what better time to learn than now? 2014 will be the year when I try new things, gain confidence in the kitchen and try a new recipe at least once a fortnight. Pass the parsley.


7.        Visit new places
  
Travelling makes me nervous, and even getting on a train to a new place in the UK can cause me to worry. However, I am currently becoming more aware of wanting to see as much of our little planet as I can before it’s too late. So, this year I hope to visit a few new places, be they in the UK, Europe or even further afield. At least one new foreign city or country. Let this be the year of adventure.




 Some of these resolutions I know have been fairly basic and even slightly selfish. So here's one big attitude I wish to adopt in 2014:


8.     Love Life &  get out of my comfort zone

Appreciate life in all its glory. Cherish each moment, spend time with friends, do one thing each week which scares me and push myself to have as many new experiences as possible.
  
Whether its going to a new gym class, eating a new food or even submitting my writing for a competition, I want to try as many new things this year as possible.I have my whole life ahead of me and I want to make the most of my time on earth. I hope to document these experiences on this blog, and in turn I hope my blog provides me with the motivation and even opportunities to make this happen.

So here's to 2014 and everything it has to offer! Let's see if we can stick to our resolutions this year. Ready?
 

If you've written a resolution blog post too, pop your links in the comments below! I'd love to see them!



Jo
xxx