14 things I'm looking forward to in December

1.  Putting up the Christmas tree whilst dancing to Christmas songs.
2.  Being able to wear my reindeer jumper.
3.  Going to London to see Harrod's Christmas window display.
4.  Wrapping up presents like this.
5.  The four family Christmas dinners I'll be having.
6.  Making an alternative Christmas dinner at home for my high-flying friend in London who I don't get to see that often.
7.  Going back to Norwich again.
8.  Walking Dudley with a flask of hot chocolate.
9.  Snuggling up with Ed and watching Christmas films.
10.  Christmas lights!
11.  Having a good excuse to buy one of those big tins of Miniature Heroes.
12.  The excitement in the air at school.  Spending the run-up to Christmas with excitable 7 year olds really does keep the magic alive.  
13.  The whole family squeezing into Mum's front room in a food coma haze to watch EastEnders Christmas special.
14.  The arrival of my baby niece or nephew!  S/he'll be the first of the next generation in my immediate family and I can't wait!


In my wardrobe

As a way of helping me to achieve my goal of not shopping unnecessarily throughout the Winter months, I decided to give my wardrobe a bit of a rotation and hang up some of my go-to items on the rail in our bedroom where I can see them much more easily.

As you can see, I'm favouring mainly greens, maroons, greys and black this season, and without going too Gok on you all, this really is a capsual wardrobe which I can easily mix and match.  You've probably realised, but I'm in the full throes of a love affair with patterned leggings at the moment so I've been digging out all my old shirts and jumpers to pair up with them.  Oh, and besides that my scarf obsession is still going strong, and my need to purchase anything with pleather sleeves has even attracted comments from the kids at work!

Feet wise, it's been my trusty Converse that I've favoured recently.  There are also my KG wedge trainers for weekends (I'm not foolish enough to wear beige shoes to work with children), as well as my black pair and black Primark studded slippers for at work.  

Doing this has worked a treat; I've rediscovered long-lost loves and fallen in love with some items that I didn't fully appreciate before.  Not pictured here is my new favourite, my H&M faux fur collar which was relatively unworn last year, but now I'm pairing it with pretty much everything I can to give it more of a glamorous edge.

I think I'll be doing this again come Spring to help me get the most out of my overflowing wardrobe.  Who else likes to rotate their clothes?


DIY Cream Contour

Despite loving my Sleek Contour Kit for a good 18 months, lately I'd got the feeling that it was leaving me with a patchy, dusty, almost muddy look to my face.  So when the Kim Kardashian contouring pictures hit Twitter, I was convinced that a cream contour was the way forward.

I managed to arrive late to the MAC Pro Sculpting Cream party.  I remember watching Holly's video when she said she felt a lot of them were too warm in shade to act effectively as a contour, so being in the midst of a (half-hearted) spending ban, I decided to wait until after payday and go and swatch instore.

Then the usual happened.  I googled around, decided on the shade most likely to suit me only to find it was sold out on MAC's website.  Cue my usual panic, so I started searching for a replacement.  Only to find that those recommended to me came with a hefty £40+ price tag.

Then I got the brainwave of opting for a cream foundation instead.  I'd seen online that Sleek had some good options, but whilst in Westfield the other week I chose to go with Inglot.

I swatched a lot of these Inglot Cream Powder Foundations on my hand and decided to go for one of the darkest shades which didn't lean too orange-toned on my skin.  My personal highlight of that day was the MUA's look of horror when I asked for this shade, yet she didn't stop to warn me it may be a touch too dark...

Anyway, I've found this to be an amazing contour.  I use my Real Techniques Contour Brush to blend this, either by swirling the brush in the compact or by getting a little product on my finger and dabbing it onto the skin before blending.  Emphasis on the "a little".  This is going to last me for-ever because you really do need the tiniest amount.  But for anybody heavy handed like me, fear not.  I find that a light once-over with my buffing brush does the job in hiding any harsh lines.  A 5 o'clock shadow is not a good look.

There is a real gap in the market for cream contours, and when the high street catches on I'll be excited to try out their offerings.  Until then, at £12.50 for a product that does the job and is going to last a long time, I think I've struck gold.

Will you be joining me in the foundation-as-contour revolution?


The Autumn Edit

You're bound to have seen a dozen of these "Autumn Make Up Bag"-type posts or videos, but for what it's worth here's my take on the whole thing.  I don't tend to give my make up a complete overhaul with each season, but I definitely have switched some products over to fit in with the changing trends and/or the change in my skin.
For starters, my base.  You may remember me saying that I wasn't bowled over by Benefit's Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow foundation.  It was ok, so I endeavoured to use it up.  Until September hit, that is.  Suddenly it sat even worse than before on my skin and just looked like a cakey, flakey mask.  The Rimmel Wake Me Up foundation has become my holy grail.  It's lightly fragranced, blends beautifully on my parched skin, lasts well and is much more purse friendly.
I tend to steer away from the warmer, golden shades of eye shadow that I prefer during the Summer months.  I've been loving using the Maybelline Color Tattoo 24Hr in On and On Bronze to give a subtle, dewy bronzed-brown look to my lids.
I don't think it's a conscious decision, but this time of year my brighter, peachier shades of blush sit unloved in my collection.  Instead I dig out my plum tones and dusky pinks to give me a wind bitten look to my cheeks.
Who doesn't opt for more vampy shades of lipstick in the Autumn/Winter months?  My peaches and corals are banished, and out comes deeper berry shades like MAC's Diva, pictured here.  And when I fancy more of a nude lip, then it's Shy Girl all the way.

Do you change make up with the season?  What are you reaching for now?


Diary of a Spendaholic 12

Debenhams -£23.40
I cracked.  After 5 days of avoiding it, I caved and placed an order on Debenhams.  It was all for Christmas presents though, and I was taking advantage of their up to 25% off sale + free delivery.  AND I got an extra 5% off through topcashback so this was definitely allowed.

Co-Op - £5.99
I didn't ever really expect to be listing Co-Op here as one of my unnecessary purchases.  I got Breaking Dawn Part 1 even though I'm 100% not a fan of the Twilight saga.  Ed doesn't mind it though, and in return for me buying a film for us both to watch he bought me a magazine and the other bits I was going to buy.  Ooh he knows how to treat a girl ;)  Either way, it means that if you think about it I actually got even more of a bargain.

I woke up this morning will a real sense of accomplishment.  I know there's still a week to go, but this self-imposed, informal "no shopping at real shops through November" has really worked.  I still like to do a bit of online window shopping, but I no longer feel desperate to hit the shops every weekend and spend money like it's going out of fashion.  Instead, I've been enjoying lazy mornings in bed without getting the itch to get up and shop.  And honestly I can't actually recall buying any new clothes or make up for myself, besides the bits I bought during the half term.  I know it's probably not a true test because I've still been buying gifts, so I hope this feeling is something I can take on board for life, not just for Christmas...

Total for the week: £29.39  Another good total!  The thought of my bank balance looking masses healther (and a bit more like a grown up's!) is spurring me on to keep this up for as long as I can!


Got a Brand New Bag

Ok, ok, so this isn't a brand new bag but it is newish and the title wouldn't sound nearly as good otherwise right?

This is my Autumn bag, which admittedly I did purchase in the Summer (on my shopping trip with Blue October) but I've waited until now to bust it out.  And I say 'now', I actually mean about a month ago.  It's just taken me this long to get around to blogging about it.

The bag is in a doctor-style, and requires either a pull of the two buckles across the front of the bag, or a clever wiggle at the top to get it open.  At first the structure of it meant I struggled to get all of the things I need in there (kitchen sink anyone?) but now I've gotten used to having to organise a little bit more and actually it's deceptively big.  I love the deep green colour, and of course the gorgeous golden stag detailing just meant I had to have it.

This isn't the cheapest bag out there on the high street, but its £45 price tag is in keeping with Accessorize's pricing.

Does anybody else change handbags with the season?


Breaking the Mould

Image found on pinterest, from favim.com
So, just as I said bloggers can be easily identified through their cliches, I also got thinking about all the ways in which I break that mould.  At the risk of alienating any of my readers, prepare to be shocked...

1.  I have never owned or used the Caudalie Beauty Elixir.
2.  I have no desire to buy a Louis Vuitton bag. 
3.  The stock in Zara has bored me for some time now.
4.  I can't cook.
5.  I own a dog, but he's not small or cute.
6.  I've never read Vogue.
7.  I drive a Toyota iQ rather than a Mini Cooper or a Fiat 500.
8.  I'm too lazy to really do any proper skincare.
9.  The thought of shelling out £39+ for a Neom candle just isn't justifiable to me, no matter how good they smell.
10.  I own neither Disco Pants nor
11. ...Jeffery Campbells.
12.  I've only been to Space NK once.  I did a circuit of it and left straight away, empty handed.
13.  I don't like the Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray.
14.  Origins GinZing eye cream did nothing for me.
15.  I hate Harry Potter.
16.  I've only listened to one Taylor Swift song in full.
17.  I can believe it when one month ends and another begins.  It happens every year, at the same time.
18.  I don't actually understand tumblr.
19.  I don't own anything by Clarins, Laura Mercier, Chanel, YSL or Lancome.
20.  I don't particularly like Starbucks.

I fear that these revelations may have exposed me as a blogging fraud now!  Which stereotypes are you going against?
Again, to anybody who may be offended by this, please remember that it's a tongue in cheek look at the blogging world in general!  It is by no means a personal attack on anybody in particular.


Fitting the Mould

Image (edited by me) found on pinterest, originally from photoxyz.com
I tend to think that bloggers are, in many ways, a separate breed.  They have their own behaviour patterns, pack mentality and aesthetic in general.  Walking through town, I think that you can pick out anybody who: a) blogs, or b) reads blogs.  This will most likely be down to their disco pants/skater skirt, Peter Pan collar and ombre hair.  Which got me thinking, which of these blogger cliches do I embody?

1.  I own said skater skirt in a range of colours.
2.  I have hair that I'm waiting to magically grow to Rapunzel-type lengths which is
3. ...Ombre-d.
4.  I frequently take photos of food I'm about to eat and
5.  ...I instagram far too many of my pets.
6.  It takes me an extra 10 minutes to get ready in the morning because I'm checking up on Twitter, tumblr, Instagram and blog emails.
7.  When I'm putting my make up on, sometimes I hold palettes up with my hand covering the mirror as if I'm in a YouTube video.
8.  I go for walks with Ed and Dudley just as a way of roping him into taking photos in a different background for me.
9.  I own a DSLR which, if I'm honest, I don't know how to use to its full potential.
10.  I occasionally refer to items of clothing in real life as a 'piece' (e.g. "OMG, this is such a versatile piece...")
11.  There are too many candles in my house.  From where I'm sitting now I can see 11.  And there are more in this room that I can't see.
12.  Autumn is my favourite season.
 13.  There are far too many studded items in my wardrobe.
14.  Nandos and Wagamama are my guilty pleasures.
15.  I'm always baking. 
16.  The thought of owning only one coat and having to wear it with everything actually horrifies me.
17.  I watch Primark hauls just to see what's in stock at the moment.
18.  My computer is full of photos of myself.
19.  I have so much make up that I never actually hit pan on anything.
20.  I say the words "hit pan".

Which blogger cliches are you guilty of?

If you find yourself offended by this and are about to leave some hate, please note that this was a lighthearted take on fashion/beauty blogging as a whole.  I do all of the above, but love blogging and would change any of it for the world!


Book Review: Blog Inc

For starters, boy is it hard to take a photo of a book that exists electronically!

I'm of the belief that blogging is not a science.  It's an art.  People either like your blog or they don't, and there's no formula to be replicated to create a successful blog.  It's this thinking which has led me, up until now to stay away from books about blogs, and that has stopped me from reading too much into any online articles which, in my opinion, offer tips, tricks and a false hope on how to be the owner of a popular blog.

Blog Inc. is written by Joy Deangdeelert Cho who blogs at Oh Joy! and has bucket loads of advice which can be applied to blogs on all topics and all sizes.  Like I said, I tend to steer clear of these types of publications, but I got some really useful inspiration when reading this which I've already started to put into practice here on Scaredtoast.  There are also interviews with a variety of established bloggers which, although giving an interesting background on their blogging beginnings, I did find myself skipping through after a while.

This book manages to stay out of preachy-preachy territory, although as it progresses I did find there was an expectation that the reader would have managed to create a blog with 100,000+ page views a month as well as a desire to move onto bigger and better things.  This isn't the reason I picked this book up, but it is interesting and useful information for some people to have and I suppose Joy wanted to cover the bigger picture and go over the possibilities out there for a successful blogger.

Blog Inc. is essentially a crash course in blogging, starting way back at the start with the actual setting up of your blog.  I guess for a lot of people reading this review that this information would be null and void, but again it will definitely be a helping hand for lots of others just starting out.  Basically, this is a book I think every blogger should read!

What are your thoughts on these types of book?