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!


Matchesfashion.com Wishlist

If money were no object, these are the things I'd buy. 

With Christmas coming up it means the party season is just about to begin.  Every girl needs an LBD, and this one by Stella McCartney is just to die for.  I also fell in love with this gorgeous belted full-length one, and would desperately love to have it prettying up my wardrobe just waiting for the ultimate glamorous event. 

Now, my love of blazers is no secret.  This crisp tuxedo jacket would be the perfect smart-yet-androgynous addition to any outfit, whilst the black and white floral print blazer would add the right amount of quirk to an otherwise plain outfit.  I'm picturing it in spring with black skinnies and a bright yellow jumper...

The Diane Von Furstenburg iPhone case isn't actually too expensive, so I'm thinking of adding it to my Christmas list, and the bag?  Well, you'd have to have money to burn to buy this but it's so cute and Cinderella-esque, I couldn't not include it!

I'm yet to make a purchase from Matches, and I'm not sure I'd happily shell out their £8 delivery charge on top of an already expensive order.  BUT returns is free, which goes a little of the way to make this more palatable.  Then again, I guess their target audience of people willing to pay three figure sums for a jumper wouldn't actually gripe over an extra £8.  The website is easy to navigate, and pretty much any designer you can think of you'll find there.  My favourite touch is the fact that when you click on an item and see it as part of an outfit, all of the other featured items are linked as well.

If you're writing your Christmas list and fancy a luxurious treat, then definitely head to Matches!


Empties 03

I'm rubbish at these posts. I'm such a hoarder and tend to have so many similar products on the go at once that I don't end up running out of any. Nonetheless, here are my empties for the last month or so... 

Batiste Dry Shampoo for Medium & Brunette
How annoying that the can rolled the wrong way for this shot.  Never mind, these are a feature in all of my Empties posts so you'll have seen it before.
Would I repurchase? Undoubtedly.

Botanics Soothing Eye Make Up Remover
I've reviewed this here so I won't waffle on again.  The short of it is that I love this stuff, and paired with the right cotton pads it's perfect.
Would I repurchase?  I'm halfway through my next bottle already. 

Ambray Nail Polish Remover with Conditioner and Tesco Nail Polish Remover
The Ambray remover contains Lanolin oil, so whilst this is probably much better for my nails than the Tesco version (which just says "with added moisturiser"), I found it didn't do as good a job.  Again, this is probably a good thing and just means it's less abrasive but I'm lazy.  I like to get my nail varnish off as quickly as possible.
Would I repurchase?  I can't even remember where I got the Ambray bottle for, so for convenience and the fact that it gets nail varnish off more effectively I'd repurchase the Tesco remover.

Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Daily Calming Facial Lotion
This stuff lasted an age and I really enjoyed using it.  A little went a long way, it soaked in quickly and did the job in moisturising my skin in the mornings.
Would I repurchase? Already have.

Garnier Skin Naturals Youthful Radiance Night Cream
I've amassed a stock of heavy duty moisturisers through magazine freebies and beauty boxes, so this moisturiser has sat unused for a good few months.  It smells lovely and fresh and feels thick and nourishing on the skin.
Would I repurchase?  Not just yet.  This has more of a Spring/Summer scent and I've got to work my way through the others first!

Boots Cotton Wool Pads
Ok, so you might remember me having a moan in my other post about how the cotton pads I was using weren't soft enough.  These Boots ones are perfect.  In conjunction with the Botanics make up remover they get rid of make up quickly and easily without scratching or irritating the skin around my eyes.
Would I repurchase?  Yes!  As soon as I'm allowed to go to shops again I'll buy some more, but for now I'm making do with my old Tesco ones.

What have you used up this month?


Diary of a Spendaholic 13

Avon - £22.97
There's something so exciting about ordering from Avon.  A while back I had a complete Avon addiction, and at this time of year it's so easy to flick through and pick out bits and bobs for those people who you can't quite think of the perfect present to get them.  Originally my order was around the £50 mark, but I whittled it down to a more acceptable £22.97.  And out of this, only 99p was on me!

The Book Depository - £4.73
A Christmas present for one of my little 1:1s at work.  I always feel I should supply an educational product, so a book it was! 

Matalan - £16
Ok so I broke my  own rules.  I went to a shop even though I'm not allowed until next week.  Although really I was thinking more along the lines of not mooching about in town or the retail park with TK Maxx, so a little spend in Matalan where it's the only shop there is perhaps allowed?  Anyway, again all money spent here was on presents.  In fact, there was a scarf I liked and some pleather-look joggers which I was inexplicably attracted too (they looked much better in real life than they sound) but I was good!  It took a lot of willpower, but I'm proud to say I didn't break the ban!

Total for the week: £43.70 My Christmas shopping is well underway and I'm proud that I've managed to steer clear of buying for myself.  Ed and I are heading to the bigger town nearby next weekend for him to hit the shops for himself; there are a few bits that I want to check out, but I'm hoping that allowing myself a little treat won't open the floodgates and have me back to spending uncontrollably!


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!


Things I'm Trying Hard Not To Buy!

I may be trying hard to avoid shopping for myself until after Christmas, but a girl can still window shop right?

I like this scarf in concept, but I'm not sure how it would work practically.  The chain adds more of an edge to an otherwise boring knit, but wouldn't it be really cold in the winter?!

I know it isn't the season for ballet pumps and flats, but they're too damn comfy to resist.  I spotted this studded camo pair in Zara in Westfields but just wasn't sure, now I think I love them.  And the cuff detail on these black pumps is gorgeous and definitely makes them look more expensive than New Look pumps in general.

I seem to have gone a bit technology crazy lately.  I love this festive iPhone case, but with the 10-20 day estimated delivery I'm put off buying it because by the time I've got it on it'll nearly be time to take it off!  And this red Kindle case is just gorgeous.  It was designed by Charlize Theron and the £19.99 price tag goes to charity, so it'd be rude to say no right?

When Sammi showed this trench coat I fell in love.  From what I've seen, it looks good quality, but I'm put off by the price.  Also, my denim jacket came smelling strongly of bleach and just generally unpleasant, so I don't think I'd want to fork out again on something that stinks!

And finally, these coat hangers are so indulgent at £6.99 for the pair, but I think they'd be so cute as a wall feature!

What do you have your eye on at the moment?



- Leggings: H&M - Vest (underneath): Primark - Jumper: H&M - Jacket: Missguided - Scarf: Topshop - Hat: H&M -
I'm learning that the trouble with taking outfit photos in bulk at the weekend when there's more light is that I have no idea whether or not I've posted them or not.  Especially since I've been featuring fewer of my outfits on here.  So I do apologise if I've already posted this outfit, I've had a look back through my posts labelled "clothes" and didn't spot it so I'm assuming I haven't yet! 

I've worn this outfit to work a couple of times when I'm having more of a lazy day and just want to be comfy and cosy.  I really fancied getting one of this denim/pleather hybrid jackets after spotting Millie Mackintosh wearing one.  I'm really funny about wearing denim other than on my legs.  Although it does tend to flatter my skin tone I'm really fussy about the shade of blue.  This jacket is a touch bluer than I'd usually pick up, but I think it works well.

I had an overwhelming response to my Fitting the Mould and Breaking the Mould posts last week...it was such a great feeling to have written a post that so many of you seemed to relate to!  I've also had a small surge of followers, so thank you to anyone who's mentioned or linked to those posts.  And hello to any new faces!

Diary of a Spendaholic 11

Ed and I headed down to Comet after work intending to take advantage of the fact that they're going into liquidation, and get a bargainous laptop.  No such luck.  10% off some brand I've never heard of?  Don't do me any favours, they're still cheaper at full price in PC World.
I went into Boots on the way back to the car to test out Versace Crystal Noir (smells gross, of soap and Impulse btw) and spotted Gucci by Gucci on offer at £20.  I sprayed it and it just smelt like any other generic perfume does at first spritz.  It wasn't until halfway home that it settled and started smelling really good.  And now I think I need it.

Ed checked his local Boots while at work today and the perfume was full price (£40) there!  So now I've become obsessed.  I swear, this is my biggest downfall; I quite like something, then if there's any hint that it will become hard to get hold of, or that I've missed a bargain, I'm like a woman possessed.  The Boots from last night is at one of those retail parks and since Mum had to collect a mattress she'd ordered I set her on the case and yes!  She got it for £20.  Now, I'm unsure whether this counts as a spend or not.  If he'd got it, Ed said he'd buy this as a present for me, so it remains to be seen whether he'll be giving Mum the money for this or if I will.

House of Fraser - £71.99
I woke up this morning knowing I had to go and pay my House of Fraser card bill but feeling strangely reluctant to do it.  No, I don't mean reluctant to literally pay it (an unwillingness to pay bills wouldn't be strange), but I really didn't want to head into town.  I'm having a really lazy day, so it could be that, or on the other hand my self-imposed ban on going near shops could be working.  I think deep down I'm also scared of spending any money.  We all knoe that saying "no" isn't my strong point and the thought of bankrupting myself in the Christmas period terrifies me.  Oh, and re: the Recognition Card.  £71.99 paid via telephone.  Just in time to avoid a missed payment charge.

Total for the week: £71.99/£91.99  Not great, but I took advantage of some great offers at the beginning of last month and managed to get a playsuit and a jumper from Miss Selfridge with discounts so it worked out at only £3 more than the playsuit would have been on its own full price.  I'm refusing to buy anything on my Recognition card this month because I hate when it comes to paying it off again! 


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!


Diary of a Spendaholic 10

River Island - £13
Inglot - £12
Boots - £15(ish...can't find the receipt!)
Pandora - £20
So if you look at this following last week it's a total failure.  BUT!  We went for a girlie day at Westfields so this is actually a really good total spend considering how crazy I could have gone.
Now I know this will shock you, but I do also have more excuses to further justify my spending...
River Island.  Mum told me not to worry about the money I owed her for The Book People last week and buy myself a hat instead.  So if you think about it, I bought Christmas presents and got a free hat!
Inglot.  I had budgeted the £17.50 it costs to buy a MAC Pro-Sculpting Cream but decided to save the money and buy a cheaper (and bigger) Inglot Cream Foundation to use as a contour.  Genius or moment of madness?  We'll soon see.
The Boots spend I have no justification for other than that I needed a lip balm and got sucked in with their 3 for 2 offer.  Oh well, I'd have needed a new mascara eventually...
Pandora.  Christmas present.  Totally allowed.

Capital Hair & Beauty - £15.30
The Range - £8.98
Amazon - £22.04
I've made peace with the fact that my weekly spend balance will not be looking as good as last week's for the next few months.  But that's ok, and I can feel pleased with myself because I only spent £15.30 on me and the rest was on Christmas presents.  And that £15.30 was on hair dye, which although strictly speaking isn't a necessity, it's hardly an indulgent treat either.

House of Fraser - £14
Next - £16
Primark - £16.50
Essential - £2.99
Superdrug - £11.05
Again, this looks bad, but actually all I bought myself was lunch, tights, socks and a cup from Primark, some stud earrings from Essential and a drink from Superdrug.  Everything else was a present and therefore guilt-free shopping.

Tesco - £5
So I just checked my bank balance, it's the second day of the month and I'm worried already.  I know it's my oversight, but I'm annoyed that I checked at an ATM the other day and had x-amount, but now I'm looking and stuff I thought had been accounted for prior to this has only just come out.  It's all been presents though and I haven't been treating myself so I'm trying hard to accept that it's money I would have had to spend anyway.  That's my trip to Primark tomorrow out the window!  I'm going to take it one week at a time and try my best to avoid going into town at the weekends.  I'll need to stop watching hauls on YouTube too...they're my downfall!

Total for the week: £171.86 Gee whizz.  But like I said, it's money that needed spending one way or another.  I'm actually quite proud of myself that I managed to stay busy this weekend and didn't go to any shops.  I'm going to try and keep this up for the rest of November, since the bulk of my Christmas shopping has actually been done and I can just get the rest next month.  Only another three weekends of no shops to go!


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?