31 December 2015

I posted this last year and it was really great to go back and see all of the cool things that I'd done in 2014. So I thought I'd do it again, a little picture diary with just this tiny bit of writing to accompany it. And to my future self who is looking back, I hope 2016 and all the years to come have filled you with joy, grattitude and achievements. See you soon.


Love always,
Melissa


30 December 2015


There's nothing like looking back on your success and achievements to help motivate you into the new year. I often go through a bit of a slump this time of year with the ideology that resolutions should be made in order to turn you into a better person. This year, I've kind of been stuck with what I wanted to decide on as my one true goal. Where my blog is concerned, this past year has made me so proud. I've kept up a schedule for an entire year and even managed to daily blog for a bit of it. I've talked about things

So I thought seeing as 2015 is almost over I wanted to recap my 5 most liked posts of the year.

Style Icon: Emma Stone


I can't believe this one came up tops. Fashion posts are so much harder for me to put together than a nail polish post or a haul or a review. With cosmetics and makeup it's just being honest, tell you what I love or hate about a product and why. With fashion, it's a lot harder for me to grasp a direction, a trend. I wouldn't call myself a particularly fashionable person, my friend Emma for example, she's got fashion down to a T, I'm more of a wear what I'm warm and comfortable in and hope it meets standards. Which is exactly why this post being number 1 for most viewed in 2015 is such a shock.

Back to School: Songs to get you through...


I am honestly so glad that this post was liked as much as it was. It was so fun but also completely heartbreaking writing this post. Trying to come up with a bunch of times in your high school lives where you're going to turn to music to grieve or celebrate and then find the perfect songs to help you get through that. I relived a lot of my high school memories writing it. I'd be interested to know if it's helped anyone yet actually? A lot can happen in 4 months.


How much does my face cost?


I love reading posts like this and enjoyed writing this post just as much. It's kind of like insightful, knowing how much money you're spending on looking a certain way. It's then kind of nice to know that someone else is spending just as much as you. I'd quite like to do an updated version actually, I know I only posted this 2 months ago but I've since been to all of the Sephora's in Manhattan and Christmas made an appearance...

Zoeva Classic Brush Set


I mentioned this one in my Favourite Blogmas post on Christmas Eve and it's kind of really cool for me to know that you loved it as mich as I did. I love putting my all into the imagery that I upload, for me I know whether I'm going to like a blog by what sort of photography they take. I know, never judge a book by its cover, the writing should be what it's about, but I'm a very creative person and that is where the true tale lies for me. And I honestly loved the Christmas graphics that I put on all my images and this is probably the best example.

Barry M Sunset Nails - Autumn Shades


I have loved the Daylight Curing range by Barry M this year, in fact, keep an eye out for my 2015 favourites on January 2nd because they are definitely going to making an appearance. It was a new release early-ish on in 2015 but the Autumn shades, like I said in this post, were made for me. There was nothing about the Autumn editions to the collection that I didn't love.

I am so happy and overwhelmed by the support I have received over in this corner of the internet this year. I have reached a place that I never imaged getting to and am really looking forward to where 2016 is going to take us. I'm still planning this year's editorial calendar so if there is anything at all you'd like to see, let me know in the comments.

Thank you again for all of your love and support.

Love always,
Melissa


24 December 2015


On the last day of Blogmas, my true love gave to me... Wait... It's Christmas Eve! How is that even possible? The past 24 days have gone so quickly. To think that this time 24 days ago I was in New York City, spending all my left-over dollars and getting ready to fly home.

We were right at the very start of Blogmas then and the idea of posting every single day was a daunting but exciting idea! I'm so proud in myself that I managed to do it. Well, I didn't quite manage the full 24 days but what I have managed I'm proud of.

It's easy to think that posting once a day for just 24 days wouldn't be too hard of a task to complete. To be honest, if I was blogging full time I'm sure I would have been able to do it. But with a full-time blog, no amount of pre-planning and organisation could help me. And believe me, I did an awful lot of it! Regardless, I'm so proud of myself and I think this is something a lot of bloggers need to tell themselves. I've finished on a total of 18 posts and at the end of the day, what are 6 more posts where quality and creativity are concerned?

I'm happy to say that I went into Blogmas head first, fearless. I'm happy to say that I tried my best. And I'm happy to end Blogmas knowing that I had the best time and would totally do it all again!

So I thought I'd share with you, 5 of my favourite posts from the past 24 days...

Thursday 3rd December // 1000 Followers + Giveaway


This one is kind of selfish, kind of not. I blog as a hobby, it's something that I really enjoy doing for myself. When you see that something you started doing for yourself is being loved by others it kind of makes you incredibly happy inside. It did for me anyway. And when complete strangers can make you feel loved and special and worthwhile, you kind of have to say, thank you. Christmas is all about giving and I started of my month by launching a Giveaway for you to say thanks.

If you're reading this and it is before 8pm London time, you still have time to enter, so give it a read!

Tuesday 8th December // Winter Nail Duo's


Christmas is hands down the best time of year for nail art! I don't quite have a steady enough hand for the crazy rudolph and holly numbers you see on Pinterest but I do love a bit of glitter and sparkle on my nails. This year I decided to pick out my 3 favourite nails duo's and they are the epitome of Christmas!

Saturday 12th December // Zoeva Classic Brush Set


Not all of my posts this month were Christmas related, however, I tried with all my willpower to turn something un-festive and make it the epitome of Yuletide celebrations. I loved my festive Graphics this month, the holly wreath's in the title images and holly decorations dotted about everywhere will be hard to let go of!

Wednesday 16th December // Christmas Wrapping on a Budget


For as long as I can remember, wrapping presents so they look like they came from an expensive department store was a luxury I thought I couldn't afford. This year, it was my personal mission to try creative wrapping on a budget and honestly, the end results are so cute!

Friday 18th December // Best Ever Mince Pie Recipe


Making Mince Pies with my Nannie is one of my favourite things to do at Christmas time. This recipe is so good that I get lots of requests at this time of year to make batches upon batches of them. Part of me wanted to share this recipe because it deserves to be shared, but part of me wanted to share it because I love my Nannie and I want to be able to remember that in years and years to come.

So there we have it, goodbye Blogmas, I honestly hope you have enjoyed each and every one of these posts as I have writing and creating them. Merry Christmas, I hope you have a fabulous day tomorrow, look forward to hearing all your stories and seeing all you pictures over the next week. I'll see you in the new year, back to regular scheduling.

Love always,
Melissa


22 December 2015


Writing sponsored posts are hard, granted I don't get an awful lot of offers but when I do, working out whether I believe enough in the brand to tell you about it, is a decision I don't take too lightly. I don't want to be someone who accepts every offer because you can't be passionate about everything and I don't want to tell you about things I don't truly love myself.

This is where Gemporia comes in. A lovely lady from Gemporia emailed me last week telling me all about the brand she works for and if I would write a wishlist of products from their collections. I'm pretty picky when it comes to jewellery, I don't wear it often but when I do it's fairly understated, nothing too fancy. Gemporia honestly make beautiful jewellery. Silver and gold pieces paired with gorgeous gemstones. There are items I would wear myself but there are much more items I would pick as gifts for Christmas for people I care a lot about. A justifiable reason to talk to you about it today, maybe a little.

A much more solid reason however is; I love when people give back! When people are mindful of the impact of modern living. When people use their success to help others, and that is exactly what Gemporia do.
[Gemporia Jewellery] should leave a legacy, for those who wear it and those who help to make it.
Gemporia only use genuine gemstones and precious metals in their jewellery

Gemporia are aware that whilst gemstones are natural they're a finite resource. They've used their company to create beautiful jewellery but also educate the communities around where they source their materials. Providing jobs, education and support in a 3rd world country helping them to grow as the company does. This is made possibly through The Colourful Life Foundation which was set up by the Gemporia's original brains and creativity, Steve and Sarah. A percentage of every piece of jewellery purchased is donated to the charity!

It's a rare feat to find a company that is willing to use their success to engage in and support the people who make their success possible. It would be so easy to not do so. It's why I love Lush so much too. Wouldn't it be so much cheaper for them to not use organic products and to test on animals? Wouldn't it be cheaper and more profitable not to donate to charity with every purchase?

Which is exactly why I decided to talk about Gemporia today. Even though I wouldn't choose all of their creations for myself, I know so many people that would love their pieces. So here is my Gemporia Christmas wishlist/gift guide...

1. Two Tone Sterling Silver Necklace // £24



This necklace would be perfect for the Mum's out there, my Mum in particular, would love this. The chain resembles a super fine rope, weaved from delicate metals. The spherical beads, one rose gold, the others, silver, work together beautifully to give off the mixed metals look which took off this time last year! I love the subtle sparkle to them, they're not full on "look at me" bling. It's understated but equally as beautiful as something 10x it's price!

2. Diamond 9K Rose Gold Ring // £58


I think this might be my favourite item from the wishlist, a piece I would definitely buy for myself. Rings are something I pick up often, but put down just as fast! I find they feel clunky and claustrophobic on my fingers. This one has a super slim, rose gold band which just looks so pretty and dainty, hardly the suffocating my finger type. I love the rectangle of diamonds, it's reminiscent of something you might find on & Other Stories, and like the necklace above, for a fraction of the price.

3. White Topaz Sterling Silver Earrings // £29


Earrings like these have really made a name for themselves in 2015. The "I'm not a dangly earring but not quite a stud" fashion is something I have loved from the very beginning. I like how they look classy and formal but also kind of edgy at the same time. These come in black too which but I reckon the silver are more versatile if you're buying as a gift.

4. 9K Gold Earrings // £26


These earrings caught my eye when browsing through the Gemporia website last week and were the first thing I picked for the wishlist. I love the geometric surface to these studs, I don't think I've ever seen this attention to detail in something that is otherwise so simple. I've got a friends birthday coming up in February and these will be so perfect for her!

5. White Topaz Sterling Silver Stacker Rings // £44


Stacked rings are also something that have taken over fashion this year. I love the geometric shape of these, you could wear them separate or stacked together for a really interesting look. They would look great spread over multiple fingers too! Probably a little claustrophobic for my liking but I love the sparkle from the White Topaz.

Honestly, all five of these products I actually really love despite not being a huge jewellery fanatic. There is something for everyone on the Gemporia website and for all budgets too. If you're feeling a little more spendy there are some drop dead gorgeous rings that you should definitely take a look at! What's more is the jewellery is made in limited runs meaning you're definitely not going to bump into someone in the street with the same bracelet as you, sort of like you would if you invested in Pandora or Gemporia!

Whether you're in the market for some pretty jewellery or not, you should definitely head over to Gemporia's About page and have a read over Steve and Sarah's story, and learn a little bit more about the Colourful Life Foundation. Like I said before, whilst I'm not the most avid sparkly jewellery wearer, I am very enthusiastic about brands and companies which have a passion for giving back and Gemporia are one of those little gems which do it right!

Love always,
Melissa



*Sponsored Post

19 December 2015


I've never really fallen for the NARS eyeshadow hype before, I've had the duo palette in 'Bellissima' for a few years, but never really been too smitten for it. Maybe it was the colour choices, slightly too cold for my complexion. But it kind of just wasted away in my drawer. However, with my impending trip NYC last month and everything being 10x cheaper than over here in the UK I was desperate to give them another go. Especially as though I'd been besotted with my NARS edition of Glossybox, the thought of disliking any of their products was far beyond me any longer.

I'd seen swatches of 'Isolde' online, a few from bloggers but mainly from trolling through Google images for hours on end before take-off! The pictures always portrayed these rich, shimmery gold shades that had my name written all over them. To be honest, though, I was a little sceptical of how true of a likeness the online swatches were to the real deal. It's actually a pretty spectacular in real life! The lighter shade is a warm gold whilst the darker is more of a rusty copper shade, both richer than the image portrays, and they work beautifully together.


The formula is so creamy, which isn't something I often tend to notice, with applying with a brush and all. Both shades go on like a dream, blend like a dream and stay put... like a dream. You can't really ask for more from such a small palette! I mean, granted it's not as versatile as some palettes, there's not a shade suitable for highlight or the eyebrows, like the Naked Basics for example but at that size, packing two palettes if you were going on holiday wouldn't be the end of the world! The gold colour on its own is a nice summer daytime shade, add the copper on top for a transitional evening look. It's great.

I'm excited to see how many different ways I can make these two colours work in my makeup routine. I'm even kind of deliberating breaking out old 'Bellisima' to see if I was just being a little difficult and giving it a second chance! That's how much 'Isolde' has made an impact on me this month. Just a heads up too, expect to see this in my December favourites, in a couple of weeks. Unless something really spectacular happens over Christmas that is... I'd probably still feature it regardless, I'm that in love! See you Monday.

Love always,
Melissa


18 December 2015


I have been visiting my Nannie to make Mince Pies with her every Christmas for about 5 years now. It's a Christmas tradition that I really cherish, and her recipe is honestly better than anything I've tried. I had a little browse on the internet to see if I could see the same recipe anywhere without luck, there were similar recipes but nothing exact, so I thought I'd share it here with you!


You will need:

350g Plain Flour
75g Lard (At room temperature)
75g Butter (At room temperature)
1 Large Jar of mincemeat
Water
1 Large Egg
Sugar (Caster or Plain, whichever you prefer, I use plain)

This recipe makes about 24 mince pies.


1. Preheat your oven to 200oC (Gas mark 6) and line your cake trays with a generous amount of butter. Muffin or cupcake trays are fine!


2. Sieve the flour into a bowl, I'd recommend a glass bowl if you have one. Add the butter and lard in small chunks, then using a fork mix until small breadcrumbs are formed. The glass bowl is handy here because you can see what you've missed!



3. Slowly begin to add the water and mix together. You want to end up with a solid dough and clean bowl. It should not be sticky, if it is, add more flour. If it is too hard add a touch more water.



4. Sprinkle flour onto your work surface and roll out the dough until it is about 2mm thick. Then spread butter over two-thirds of the dough and fold in on itself. Doing this traps the air in the pastry and is what makes it fluffy. I would then roll in out again, and do this step 2 more times, the more the better.


5. Once you've rolled, buttered and folded enough times, roll it out again to about 2mm thick and begin cutting the shapes for the base of the pie. Pop these on top of the holes in the cake tin and press lightly.


6. Fill with mincemeat, usually just one teaspoon is enough but it's very much personal preference.


7. With the remaining dough, cut out enough tops for your pies. I used a star cookie cutter, but you can use a medium circle cookie cutter if you want a closed pie.


8. Then in a small bowl, mix the egg and egg whites together. Using a baker's brush, paint the stars with the egg. This is what will make the top super crispy and golden brown Alternatively you can use milk or water.


9. Finally, dust the mince pies with sugar and pop in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes.

10. Once golden brown, remove from the oven and leave to cool completely until you remove them from the baking tray!




Serve and enjoy! Honestly, these mince pies are the best ever, maybe it's because they're my Nan's recipe and I make them with her is what make them so special, but they taste incredible too! If you try the recipe out, send me a picture when you're done, I'd love to see your master pieces.

Merry Christmas,
Melissa

P.S. Sorry about the out of focus and over-exposed photographs, this is quite a mind-consuming recipe post to make and my photographs got the short deal.