Essie Smokin' Hot

As a total blogger favourite brand, I wasn't expecting to head to the Essie stand and fall head over heels for a colour like this. 

I love Essie, there's a total 'gotta catch 'em all' vibe about those cute little bottles, and the formula is easy to apply and long-lasting to boot. So, what would it be on this Boots pit-stop? Mint Candy Apple? Sand Tropez? Mink Muffs? Wrong, wrong and wrong.

Smokin' Hot is a cream finish deep, dusty purple with a no visible shimmer and absolutely perfect for winter. I love the way it looks on my pale, cool skin as it pulls visibly purple. The above pictures are without a top coat, and I find the shade to be super shiny, opaque and creamy in finish. 

If you loved Chanel's Paradoxal in tone, you'll love Smokin' Hot. The lack of shimmer, by comparison with the Chanel, is almost more mature and I think a darker nail colour actually makes the nails look 'cleaner' in terms of the nail shape. As a nail polish freak and someone who paints their nails everyday (my nailbeds are screaming in protest already) I can't take this off!

What's your favourite Essie shade? I need recommendations! I've already blasted through Fiji like no-body's business....


Zara Manchester Store Reopening

Whilst I lived in the sticks during the Zara hiatus, I know the temporary close of Zara for refurbishment was a blow for the ladies of Manchester. Where would we get our basics now?! 

I really like Zara, and often find I over-look it in favour of other brands just because I love colour, unique prints and shapes. What Zara does have down is clean, effortless, modern clothing. When was the last time you walked down the high street and didn't see a bucket bag? 

I was, of course, so excited to be invited to the cocktail event on the eve of Zara's official reopening to the public, with many other Manchester Fashion Week ladies and other fashion enthusiasts in attendance. The layout of the store is Zara-perfect to the letter. Clean-cut, fresh, monochromatic, and generally a bit less dashing around taking in the, let's face it, scattered nature of the store's old layout. 

Zara is all about 'the look' as a whole when it comes to creating an outfit, so the addition of befitting shoes and accessories is a nice touch. Whilst I'm a simpleton that likes mounds of similar items in sections, I can appreciate Zara's Manchester branch, as I believe it is their flagship 'concept' store in the North.

Gorgeous models were on the door wrapping dinky little 'wristbands' on every guest and champagne was flowing as we checked out the A/W stock. All very exciting stuff!

Another awkward outfit shot. I think my glowing moon face repelled a few fashion-y people.

The new Zara is beautiful, it has to be said. Certainly no Primark-esque ravaging of displays by customers in this monochrome high street haven. Having this little (well, three floors?) gem on my door step certainly sweetens the deal of living in Manchester. And will probably hit my student loan pretty hard.


TGI Friday's Live Art and Cocktails Evening

Laid Back Limeade and the Countess du Blush cocktail!
There's no two ways about it. I love a good drink.

Furthermore, I love a good drink that I have to take a picture of before I down it, just because it looks so beautiful. So when TGI Friday's told me about their Live Art and Cocktails evening to launch a selection of brand new cocktails alongside wonderful Manchester artists, I was virtually comatose with excitement. And this is before the alcohol started flowing. 

I took my best friend Will along for the ride. We went to school together and now go to uni in Manchester, so I couldn't think of anyone better to sample the new menu.

The correlation between the art and the cocktails was a cool touch, and very clear from the amazing artists on the night. Millie Connors, Caroline Dowsett and Erin Echo interpreted three of the cocktails so uniquely; but my ultimate favourite (I love a bribe) was Erin Echo's personalised illustrations. Just flick through the night's pictures below to see the varying states of my excitement about having her draw me and the other guests. My plus one, Will, was suitably jealous. He didn't say it in so many words. Or any words. But he was.

Me and the Countess du Blush cocktail

Artist Erin Echo created polaroid illustrations of some of the guests! Can you spot me and the #MCRFW girls?
The #MCRFW ladies and I with our illustrations
 Each guest was given three complimentary cocktails of their choice. Over the course of the evening, (slow
and steady wins the race) I chose the Bubblegum Daiquiri, the Popping Candy Strawberry Margarita and had the masterful barman create a cocktail inspired by my own little blog, the Countess du Blush cocktail.  

The Popping Candy Strawberry Margherita and my Erin Echo polaroid

Me having arguably too good a time with the Countess du Blush cocktail
The Countess du Blush was super-sweet, with a fruity berry kick and, in Fastrak Steve's words 'looked like a princess cocktail.' Does that not sum up everything I do here at Countess du Blush?

A cocktail that matches your nail colour is a pre-requisite for a good night. 

It's me! I couldn't have been more excited

Final round: Will's yummy Mudslide and my Bubblegum Daiquiri. 
Every single drink I tried that night was brilliant in its own different ways and it was such a cool touch to have the art paralleling the fabulously creative and masterfully crafted (well, they sure do the job if you know what I mean) cocktails all evening.

Finally, I'd highly recommend TGI Friday's for a bit of prinking before a night out or a sneaky afternoon celebration after clocking off on a Friday (or even on a Monday, who's to judge really?) because of the bar staff alone. They know EVERYTHING, even managing to make a brilliant cocktail for my hopeless plus one who asked for 'something well nice' as his first drink....

Thanks to TGI Friday's for inviting me to an event I sincerely hope they'll pull off again here in Manchester some time soon! Another great night out in Manchester with the #MCRFW and perhaps a little headache the next morning to show for it? My kind of event.


Dalvey Kings St. Store Event

In an age of baggy, boxer-revealing pants and snapbacks (sorry boys, it's just not a great look,) a good menswear brand that modernises whilst retaining its timelessness is arguably pretty scarce.

Do men still want to look smart in a suit? Even if some don't, they really should, as Dalvey showed me on Thursday evening at their Kings Street store event. I met Danielle, Lola and Fikki  there and we enjoyed the Whiskey and Ginger drinks from the pop-up bar in store whilst looking over the mysteriously alien world of menswear. 

Dalvey sell all sorts of menswear and wonderfully posh accessories, such as classic shaving kits, pocket-watches and pens. Dalvey is certainly a one-stop shop for the discerning gentleman looking to be furnished with the works, as far as looking like a proper gent is concerned. But I'm sure some of our own scruffy male friends could appreciate how wonderful the cut and quality of the clothing is at Dalvey. 

We spoke with the Managing Director of the company for a while, and he was so lovely and keen to explore our contributions to social media. He was a lovely Irish fellow and told me all about the Grafton Street store! I won't dance around it, as a woman, there is only so much excitement I can gather from menswear; but the gentleman we spoke to on the night brought the whole evening there together for me. I appreciated his willingness to chat to us and discuss the brand at length.

Shirt- Primark
Dress- eBay
Boots- soyoushoes.co.uk

Thanks go to #MCRFW for inviting me along to the store on Kings Street. Though Manchester has noted a decline at the prestigious address in recent times, the likes of Dalvey keep the nostalgic spirit of British fashion alive in the city, and if you have any men in your life, you should certainly take the chance to call in and get him suited and booted! And pocketwatched and cufflinked and hankerchiefed...


An Autumn Edit AKA 'The Spiced Pumpkin Latte Face.'

When autumn rolls around again, I won't lie: the primary excitement is most definitely for Costa's winter drinks. A close second is the revamp my routine gets as the months grow colder. Lips get deeper, skin gets 'just-in-from-the-cold' rosier and every step in my base routine works tirelessly to get some sort of pulse back into my ghostly winter face. 

Though I love to change it up with the changing seasons, some things never change; and I always throw in some seasonal 'curveballs' with my routine. Light nails and coral lips in autumn? Whilst beauty editors might ravage my makeup bag with brow spoolie pitchforks (dramatic interpretation, I grant you,) I'm not enough of a fashion person to become a different human being every season...

L-R: MAC Up The Amp, MAC Rebel, No7 Mulberry and MUA Juicy.
MAC Up the Amp This is not an exceptionally difficult purple to wear, so if you're hesitant, don't be. Up the Amp is a very clean, crisp mauve-purple and is subtly seasonal for this time of year.

MAC Rebel The favourite on every autumn wishlist, Rebel is just as beautiful dabbed on as berry stain as it is worn full-force from the bullet. Its jelly-like colour makes it beautifully dimensional and would work across all skin tones. Biased as I am, I love it on pale skin.

No. 7 Mulberry* If anyone else watches LisaLisaD1 on YouTube, you'll know how many lipsticks it takes to find the 'Rosie Huntington-Whiteley' nude lip. A truly my-lips-but-better colour with great texture and an easy-breezy-ness about it that makes it irresistible for autumn. 

MUA Juicy- Whilst I love a grown-up nude, there is a 14-year Mac Myth lover stuck inside of me that just cannot pass up a fake-ass nude-peach lip. Juicy has a semi-neon quality to it whilst retaining the lightness of a nude lip that perks up winter faces perfectly. If you own this, don't ignore it over winter. If you don't, why ever not?!

MAC Bite of an Apple blush This featured around these parts last year and it never disappoints. I think a bold blush can be better on pale skin in the winter than a bronzer to perk things up a bit. Just my two cents.

Benefit High Beam Liquid highlighters aren't my favourite, but I love to mix this with my foundation or moisturizer so I don't look quite so....dead in the morning.

Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm* Hoh-lee shit. This is an absolutely amazing cleanser. Even though I have oilier skin, it goes batshitcrazy-dry in places as it gets cold out. This cleanser balances everything out and gives a really healthy dose of moisture. Also, it smells like a facial. Like, rich people face wash. Aahhh.

Urban Decay Naked Basics palette Everyone. Should. Own. This. And that is ALL SHE WROTE Y'ALL.

Anastasia Brow Gel in Espresso Defined brows in seconds, a perfect colour match and brows that last longer than you do? I'm in, and yes, it's so worth £16.50.

Barry M Indigo Nail Paint The formula is hit and miss (I've had many bottles) but the colour is spot on. Dark enough for a wintery manicure, colourful enough to not be boring. 

Essie Fiji- Perfect, clean, bridal nails. Even if you're nineteen and single, that's not something to complain about in a manicure. 

Calvin Klein Down Town EDP* Winter is all about heady, amber-y fragrance, right? Wrong. Down Town is clean and light, but the dry down is complicatedly fresh and is a very feminine, woody-musk scent. 

Final autumn pick is the tartan scarf you see as my little studio background here. Apparently tartan is big this season so clearly I was forty thousand years ahead of the trend (as per tho.)

What are you loving for autumn/winter? OH AND MORE IMPORTANTLY your favourite winter drinks? Mine are last year's Costa Creme Brulee Latte, Mint Hot Chocolate and of course (for a drunken winter's eve) Snowballs!


Home (Away from) Sweet Home

No-one ever said it was easy to move away from home. But a trip to B&M Homestores before you leave definitely eases the growing pains of living 'alone.'

This September, I moved to Manchester for University. Now, quite honestly, I don't feel like I've undergone an unbelievable life change. I'm an hour and ten minute train away from being in my 'hometown' and I go back most weekends to work and see my family. All the same, when I knew I'd be paying for a new room in the city, you best believe I was going to make it comfortable. 

So here's my little room. Yes, it's tiny. But I couldn't be happier with it.

I thought I'd do a little photo room tour. Honestly, if I'd seen a room in halls all prettied up before I came here, I might have been less apprehensive about moving away.

Metal desktop organiser- Forever 21
Wooden 'picnic basket' box- B&M 

Vanilla reed diffuser- B&M 
Bracalet stand- DIY
Vase- B&M

Pug bedding- Primark
Bed throw- B&M

Decor on a student budget 

  • If you love flowers for decoration, have some faux ones on standby. You can buy beautiful faux flowers on eBay and make your own bouquet. I've also struck up a friendship with a local florist, who gave me my first bunch for free and my next ones for £1. For an every-so-often treat, flowers brighten up my mood and make the room look classy when it's not.
  • Don't overspend on storage, especially if you're a beauty junkie. With our collections always expanding, cheap, cheerful and cutesy storage from Quality Save, B&M and eBay are a great choice. Clear Cube who? Oh, and my bracelet stand? It's a kitchen roll with a sock over it. Yeah. 
  • If you can't have candles (most student halls won't allow them) reed diffusers offer a great fragrance alternative, and you can get them everywhere, in all scents. 

I love my cosy little room and all the touches I made to make it a lot more comfortable help me from going insane. I've somehow ended up in an 90%-boys halls and the sound of would-be frat parties sends a chill through my spine....