- Thursday, 24 July 2014 -

Let's Get Nude!

Hello you lovely lot! Okay, so a new obsession has recently swept over me like a tidal wave and it's a colour I would have never expected myself to have fallen head over heels in love with. If you readers can't already tell, I usually like to surround myself in vibrant, cheerful colours (or on the occasional day, channel my inner Wednesday Addams) but recently I've been so partial to pastels and nude just happened to creep its way into my heart. Usually I'm the most vanilla person you'll ever come across when it comes to nail art, however I thought I might experiment a tad and add a touch of glitter to my newly nude nails, so they appear less naked (see what I did there?).

Firstly I applied about 3-4 generous coats of Rimmel 60 Seconds Rita Ora edition in 'Let's Get Nude', until the colour goes opaque. After leaving my nails to dry, I then delicately dab some glittered varnish onto the very tip of my nails, letting the glitter particles cluster heavily at the top. I then proceed to trickle my nail polish brush down ever so slightly the length of the nail to give my nail art the illusion of an ombre trickle down appearance. My glitter nail varnish is Avon's Color Trend Dazzler in 'Rose Gold'. You could also use a golden glitter nail varnish as your top coat, however the rose gold I believe just blends better with the nude and also has that lovely vintage feel to it! This simple look is definitely my staple nail art for the summer: it's quick, easy and oh so sparkly!

- Tuesday, 22 July 2014 -

Book Review: The One Plus One

Hello my lovelies! So, last week as I was patiently waiting for my flight in London Luton airport, I strolled into WHSmith to have a gander at some new book releases and whatnot. Two things dawned upon me just then, that a) I was in for the long-haul, my flight didn't depart for 7 hours so I may as well spend my precious time productively whilst waiting in this weird limbo between destinations, and b) I was essentially going on my holidays so obviously a clich├ęd holiday-read was coming with me too! 

After devouring Jojo Moye's previous heartbreaking best-seller 'Me Before You', I was jumping for joy to discover that she had a new novel in the pipeline. And lo and behold I found this beauty in the airport, boasting a deliciously ___ pages for me to delve into! Jess is a single mum of two gloriously weird and wonderful kids: Tanzie, a mathematical prodigy and Nicky, Jess's teenage stepson whom she took under her wing. The narratives are shifted every chapter, revealing the point of view of each character. 

Jess doesn't lead an easy life, after her husband casually walked out the door 2 years ago, refusing to pay any means of child support, she's basically had to struggle her way through life. This meagre existence is then juxtaposed by Ed Nicholls, a man who has it all, or HAD it all. After getting involved with an old acquaintance from college, Ed soon realises that she's a Stage 5 Clinger and quickly (and desperately) seeks a way to remedy the situation. After offering her some financial aid with the help of his company's money, Ed lands in the deep end for partaking in Insider Trading. 

Oh, and did I mention that Jess is Ed's beach house cleaner? What a convenient little coincidence that turned out to be! With all this judicial drama going on in Ed's life, Tanzie is miraculously offered a place at a private school that can mould her confidence and nurture her talents. With an unsteady flow of income, Jess is desperate to find a way to placate the bulky term fees and give her daughter the chance in life she never had. However as luck would have it, a mathematical competition is being held in Aberdeen over 400 miles away, affording gifted entrants the opportunity to win £5,000. 

In a twist of fate, and eager for a taste of escapism from all his law proceedings, who should offer them this lengthy lift to Aberdeen but Ed! If you've ever seen the movie Little Miss Sunshine, you'll easily draw comparisons between the two, but that's what makes it so magical. The book itself was written so realistically and raw that I could find similarities with myself and all of the characters (Nicky especially as he's a bit of an alternative dude). The One Plus One was lovingly written and thusly lovingly received, it made my heart melt and was peppered with quirky surprises at every turn. Please if you do one thing this summer READ THIS BOOK!

"You know, you spend your whole life feeling like you don't fit in anywhere. And then you walk into a room one day, whether it's at university or an office or some kind of club, and you just go, 'Ah, there they are.' And suddenly you feel at home."

                                                                                                              - Jojo Moyes, The One Plus One.

What's your staple summertime read?

- Sunday, 20 July 2014 -

My Top 10 Things to do This Summer!

Hello my lovelies! Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! I'm still reeling/recovering from the past few days antics, as I attended the Longitude festival in Dublin on Saturday! I'm 22 years of age and unashamed to admit that this was my first festival experience and I freakin' loved it, I even rolled myself in glitter to look like the quintessential festival-goer. So, in the spirit of summertime I decided to compile this little list of summer fun I hope to accomplish! Considering it's July already (where have the summer months disappeared to!?) I've already experienced a handful of these activities but that's not to say I still have plenty more of the summer to soak up!
1/ No summertime would be complete without the conventional picnic. As a child I used to venture down my father's apple orchard and set up camp there; where the grass was long and the buttercups abundant, picture perfect, right?

2/ Staying with the theme of food, I also think a good 'ol BBQ is in order! My boyfriend's mother always plays hostess to an immense BBQ every year, with burgers, hotdogs and kebabs galore! Excuse me whilst I wipe the drool from the keyboard.

3/ Attend a festival/concert. Okay, so this has already been achieved but it IS festival season, right? Watching HAIM, Disclosure and The 1975 perform was definitely a summer highlight for me.

4/ Staying up all night chatting and reminiscing with old friends (give or take the appearance of alcohol). I've only been out with friends a number of times since returning back home to Ireland so a reunion with my bitches is in order.

5/ Have a holiday! Let's face it, what else are summers for? For the past couple of years my summers have been devoid of any holidays at all, so this year I was adamant that I'd be jetting off! This year I journeyed to Morocco, and you can read about my Arabian adventures here!

6/ Find the soundtrack to your summer. Okay so this is a bit of an unusual one but do you ever hear a song and it instantly transports you back to a happier moment or time? Well, I want to remember this summer forever and HAIM's album 'Days Are Gone' are helping me achieve that!

7/ It's your summer holidays, you have more time on your hands than you know what to do with it, so why not find a series to watch of have a movie marathon? I'm currently making my way through all the animated Disney films (it was The Sword in the Stone last night) and reliving my childhood by re-watching Sailor Moon.

8/ Let's have a day at the beach! Even if it's completely miserable - like it is 99% of the time here in Ireland, surprise surprise - the seaside scenery with some sandwiches are sure to perk you up!

9/ Spend a day shopping, rummaging through the sales and thrifting! Everyone needs a bit of retail therapy from one time or another. Picking up some new cheap sunnies or treating yourself to that floaty floral skirt is sure to bid away that summertime sadness (all hail Queen Lana).

10/ Gettin' crafty! Okay, so this is forever a goal for me, constantly striving to stretch my imagination to create and draw more. I definitely want to showcase more DIY posts on my blog!

What've you been getting up to this summer?

- Friday, 18 July 2014 -

Arabian Nights, Like Arabian Days

Well hello you lovely lot! Long time no speak, eh? Those of you unaware of the reasoning behind my recent absence, I've been off adventuring in Africa! It actually pained me to break away from the blogging world for a little while but I am so delighted to be back in full swing and I hope you've all been keeping well since I've been gone. It's quite ironic how the day I actually arrive back on home soil, the newspapers are painted with the promise of a tremendous heatwave hitting the UK, but I'll be quite honest dear readers; that heat got NOTHIN' on African heat! So I've never been more relieved to be engulfed back into the overcast yet forever optimistic weather of the lovely United Kingdom.

However let's rewind just a bit, back a few months when Martin and I stumbled across this shiny, new website that pledged holiday deals galore: Travelbird. It was only then when we discovered an offer boasting an 8 day stay in the mysterious Marrakech in Morocco, with flights and accommodation included for a mere £250 each, It's definitely not an exaggeration to say that we literally jumped, hopped and skipped at the chance! When first emerging from our 3 hour flight, we were greeted with a heat so stifling and suffocating, I felt like I'd been thrown into an oven. It was unfortunately a luxury that came rarely to England, and it was oh so glorious.

We spent our days primarily partaking in excursions: exploring waterfall strewn mountains, making new friends with curious camels in the desert, scouring through the souks and markets of Marrakech forever wheedling out a bargain - at the cost of sounding droll, in the words of Aladdin: it was a whole new world. 

1/ Marrakech's staple colours are so lush and vibrant, even their travel guides had me drooling with excitement to go!
2/ After an excruciating long day in the heat, Martin and I would retreat to a rooftop terrance to relish an iced cold drink and soak up the sights of Marrakech's markets.

3/ Would ya just look at that face!? Of course no trip to the desert would be complete without the mandatory ride on a camel! In order to train the babies, they attach them to their mothers so this little guy was tagging along with us!
4/ Some of the buildings in Marrakech looked exactly like something out of a children's storybook, the colours were so vivid and the architecture so rustic, it was easy to think you were a character in Lawrence of Arabia. 

5/ Whilst casually pottering around the mountains, our tour guide informed us that this is where the original Moroccan people hail from - the Berbers. Native Berbers to this day dwell in the mountains and live a peaceful life.
6/ Even though sometimes you would think you were stuck in a time-warp, Marrakech did host some amazing surprises.

7/ For all you cat lovers out there - Marrakech is littered with them! Kitties would be lazing in the souks, pawing at you for food in the restaurants, and generally wrapped around your legs near constantly!
8/ During our excursion to the waterfalls, we ran into some very friendly cheeky monkeys.

9/ I've said it once and I'll say it again - the colour that consumes Marrakech is so beautiful, even their teasets are dazzling! 
10/ I don't know why this amazed me so much considering I'm surrounded by apple trees with our family business, but the fact that orange and lime trees grew everywhere was actually magical.

11/ One of Marrakech's biggest trades is leather, and with their abundance of gorgeous handmade shoes and bags, I was in heaven.
12/ LOOK AT THOSE COLOURS! The spices Marrakech hosted were breathtakingly staked into these immense and eye-catching pyramids and before you ask yes, I did get my hands on some bona fide Moroccan Argan Oil!

13/ We spent an entire day in the Majorelle Gardens. Although originally the vision of French artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and 1930s, the gardens were later owned and redesigned by Yves Saint-Laurent. 
14/ Whenever Yves Saint-Laurent died in 2008, his ashes were scattered in this beautiful paradise.

15/ Even though the temperatures would rise to 50° during the day, come evening Marrakech would cool significantly and the scenery would turn movie-esque.
16/ Primark ain't got nothin' on these gorgeous Moroccan lanterns!

- Friday, 4 July 2014 -

Saying 'NO' to Society

Helloooo my lovelies and a happy Friday to you all! So I've been typing away at this post and backspacing it all in equal measure, tentatively wondering if I should continue. And so after much toing and froing I wish to ease my burden and just go with it - today's post is how I became myself. 

I've always been pegged as "different," and I suppose growing up in a close-knit community where even the thought of open-mindedness was shunned, kinda had a knock-on effect on me - I didn't want this, to be another sheep in the herd. I grew up living a solitary yet independent life, where I suppose without any sibling guidance or influence allowed me to form my own ideas and identity. True, I grew up not having the slightest notion what the bloody hell the difference between foundation and concealer was, but at least I GREW, as opposed to being suffocated by society's "norms." 

In my teenage years, I'm unashamed to admit that I went through quite an array of phases and trends. Firstly, let me announce that I stem from the sort of town where being a chav/raver is perceived as standard, so naturally that's where I started off. As soon as I hit 13 I was out at clubs most weekends and even though I always had this niggling notion at the back of my mind that this wasn't me, it sure as hell was everyone else. I already had an ear for the likes of Linkin Park and Fall Out Boy but no, that was "shit music." You were classified as weird if you didn't listen to anything with even the hint of a remix to it. My head was in a forlorn flurry and with that dolefulness came the answer - I embraced my inner emo. I was probably 1 of about 10 actual alternative people in my conformist Catholic all-girls school of over 1,000, and I got hackled for it every single day. I would get verbal abuse on the street for simply expressing myself with my all-black styling, it actually got so bad that a firework was once thrown at my legs on my way home from school. Society was oppressing me, pushing me into the mud and screaming at me to just conform. But I knew it wasn't me.

I first dyed my hair a crazy colour when I was 17, it was Rhianna-red and a gargantuan "fuck you" to the world. I had left my secondary school in order to find solace from a technical college where I could sit my A-levels and experience delicious escapism. Let me fill you readers in on a little factoid here about life in Northern Ireland: people are obsessed with passing their driving tests. So much so that it's our natural birthright to be able to drive and where the second you declare on Facebook that you've accomplished a task that so many million before and after you will achieve, you're rewarded with the highest of praise - and to me, it's all bullshit. Even to this day, at the age of 22 upon arriving home to Northern Ireland, I'm greeted with the following way of conversation: "Hey Claire, so how's Newcastle? You still loving it? You driving yet?" I'll let you in on a little secret that I learnt dear readers: being able to drive does NOT define you as a successful human being, sure it's beneficial in life and I'm not totally dismissing the idea of me ever learning but everyone's different and it's sad that society doesn't seem to think so. 

As I hit my late teens my style and overall identity evolved, instead of fearing the society who persecuted me for my individuality, I pitied them. I had a whole new perspective on life and as I watched them in their drones heading off to a local university and never venturing further afield, I was stricken with a sort of empowerment, that I DIDN'T have to follow the crowd. So, I waited until I was 20 years of age to head to university in Newcastle Upon Tyne; I didn't want to set such boundaries like they had - I wanted to see the world, even if that meant only starting in England. 

Something else that I've noticed that society is quite naughty of accomplishing is making you unsure of yourself. For years, I've been enduring subliminal whisperings of how you can't achieve anything if you don't attain a university degree in Law, Medicine or the likes. And God forbid you choose not to embrace university at all, shame on you for having your own free will! It was these kinds of misplaced, guilty thoughts that actually used to attack my brain. As a child, I always harboured quite the artistic flair and penchant for creativity but growing up was a different story altogether as schools would drill it into you that a life comprised of art and design (or any other Arts and Humanities subjects for that matter) was a road to no town. And to think I almost yielded too, as once upon a time, during that fateful period of picking universities and university subjects, my top choice was a joint Politics, Media and English Lit degree - seems a pretty unnatural fit for me, right? I remember that I cried an ocean the moment I realised I was being untrue to myself, and desperate to repair the situation I went through Clearing via UCAS and not only found myself a design course but ultimately, found myself again. 

This post isn't just a cathartic way for me to shed some light on my past, it's a message to anyone reading this that feels trapped or pressured for fear of what society might think. Well let me tell you this: you're put on this earth for a good time and not a long time, and it'd be far worse to regret things that you had done than what you hadn't. Don't grow old thinking "well I should have gotten a tattoo when I had the chance" or "I wish I could have pursued my dreams of professional line dancing." In the wisest words of my fellow Irishman:

Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.
                                                                       - Oscar Wilde       


- Wednesday, 2 July 2014 -

It's All In The Detail

Hello you lovely lot! Can someone please tell me where June disappeared to? I feel so swindled; that it  used and abused me, was here one minute and gone the next. Although I am glad to say that July's unanticipated arrival brings promise of exciting travels and amazing adventures - as this month alone I not only journey to Morocco but also experience my very first festival, eeek! Anyways, onto the post at hand and I'll admit: I think I have an obsession, as recently I've been totally overcome and obsessed by all things scalloped. True, it isn't a trend that's gaining a whole lot of attention at the moment, but there's something about the soft and elegant curves of detail that I simply can't resist.

Additionally, if you haven't noticed yet dear readers my blog's been tweaked ever so slightly, so that now in lieu of having two columns supporting my blog, I now only have the one fashioned in scallop detail no less! I think the reason I'm so besotted with it is because the little contours of design actually remind me of doilies and how delicately curved and vintage they appear. So when ASOS were back in action, they were boasting a magnificent sale to which I spotted this amazing scalloped bag. It was fate. As it not only matched my little scallop-detailed kitty pumps in both colour and design, but it was a mere £14, how ever could I refuse an offer like that, especially where destiny was involved?

Are there any fashions you're partial to at the moment?