30 October 2015

The Halloween Inspired Pin Up Look

Ever since I became a metalhead at 14 I've loved Halloween.  Back then it was because I could deck my room out with cheap Poundland accessories with skulls and anything black (not just for the season you understand, this was year round bedroom decor) but now I just love the atmosphere.  I know people complain about it becoming Americanised, but I love that it's becoming a big deal here, I love the colder nights, the darkness, the cool outfits.  Now as I've mentioned on the blog before I have a goth side of me so this is the perfect time of year to bring my two fashion influences together, and I've fond a dress that lets me do just that.

Dress: Vampiress by Hell Bunny
Cat Necklace, Similar here
Fascinator, old Etsy

First up a little note about these pictures.  I live in a bungalow that apparently doesn't have one inch of spare wall with enough space to take pics in front of, hence why these are portrait and have my Mother's interesting choice of patterned curtains in the background.  I've picked up some new lights for winter shooting so I've played around with those and some different poses, I feel like the theme allows for it!

You might recognise this dress although in a slightly different form my Disney Fashion Competition post almost exactly a year ago.  I finally decided to jump in and get it last week and it's my first piece of Hell Bunny I've bought in ages, if you know me at all you'll know this is a big deal.  I was Hell Bunny obsessed but with other players like Lindy Bop coming on to the market I am starting to leave them behind, but I just love the design of this dress.  It's good quality material too which is good as I've had some bad experiences with Hell Bunny's new thin material in recent years.  As it is a bit colder I decided to go with the longer version instead of the mini dress one I featured last time but truthfully I would happily have both!  I love the colour contrast between the black and green ( I am very into green in the autumn).  I love the fit, I love the puff sleeves, I love the neckline and the collar, and it has pockets!  This dress is a serious player in my favourite dress stakes.

I decided to do something I've not done for years and pair this dress with a petticoat, with this dress it just feels right.  The petticoat is the cheap one I got for my Alice in Wonderland cosplay and the thing is, it's actually pretty perfect shape-wise.  The reason I stopped wearing my old Hell Bunny petticoat was because it just made me look bigger where as this adds volume in the right places.  So much so I am actually selling my Hell Bunny one and just using this for now on.

I'm not wearing any shoes in this simply because I didn't have anything that screamed out at me (hey at least I'm honest) but I have paired the dress with this cute cat necklace I was gifted at London Edge last year (which is actually backwards in all my full-length pics, good going Kariss!) and this little fascinator I picked up on Etsy years ago in a post-Halloween sale (seriously the best time for goths!).

Makeup wise I decided to try something new and go for a strong contour with no blusher.  It's what all the young people are doing I hear and it's not normally a look I would go for but the spooky effect works well here I think.  Both these eyeliners (black and green) are Kohl Soap and Glory and are amazing. Seriously the texture is fabulous and they just glide on.  The lipstick is one of the £1 Atomic collection ones from Makeup Revolution.  Not the best quality and needs layering but for £1 you can't really complain.  In an ideal world I would have done an ombre lip but I've tried that before and I cannot get it right, not even close.

Overall I love this look, I feel really vampy which gives my confidence a boost.  It doesn't look too much like you are going to a fancy dress ball (I wore it to work today without makeup/ accessories no problem) but yet if you paired it with a hat you could totally do a witchy look!

What are you wearing for Haloween?

28 October 2015

Love Thy Bust: My five tips for loving your boobs with Simply Be

When Simply Be contacted me to see if I wanted to work on the Love Thy Bust campaign I was really excited, even more so when I found out they were working with two of my favourite ever bloggers: Georgina Horne and Leyah Shanks!  The Campaign is to help promote two things very close to my heart: body image and breast cancer.  Now I have mentioned here in the past that self-image is something I have struggled with and still do, but I am working to try and get better.  Breast cancer is a horrible disease, that unfortunately touches most people's lives in some way.  A family friend that was very dear to me had breast cancer when I was small, something she later died from.  They elected not to tell me as I don't think they believed I would understand, so it was only recently I came to realise how close it had come to my life.

Over the years, there have been plenty of trends towards women's bodies and different ways to make us feel bad about them.  So much of these are centred around boobs.  I know I for one definitely had worries, especially as a teen, are your nipples too big?  Too small?  The wrong colour? How about your breasts?  Are they the right size? What about the shape? Can you see veins?  Are they purt enough? How much is it ok to show? Is one different to the other?

Yet the real reason we have breasts, to feed children, is the part that is often at the forefront of controversy.  Why do we give ourselves such a hard time over one part of our body?  It's time to embrace our fun bags and give ourselves some self-love!  Here are a couple bits of advice I've picked up over the years that I am passing on - so that you can share the love too!

1. Keep them protected
Cast your mind back 20 or so years ago.  My mum is on holiday, and being the tanaholic she was in the 90's, she decided to go topless.  Of course she burnt her boobs, badly!  She's never done it since and it's always served as a warning for me.  The important thing to remember here, is that your boobs are delicate creatures and the skin isn't used to being exposed - so get some suntan cream on!

2. Get to know your mammaries
No, I don't mean a formal introduction.  It is of course so important check your boobs for any changes.  It could be a visible change or something you only notice when you feel around, and of course, you only know first-place what they should feel in the when you get to know them a bit better.  Next time you're in the shower take the time to get to know yourself.

3. Size isn't everything, but you need to know yours

If you are like me and come home dying to take your bra off, you are probably wearing the wrong size.  When I got measured recently I was shocked to discover I was wearing a bra two sizes too small! No wonder I am uncomfortable - time to go shopping!

4. Style isn't just for your outer clothes

There are so many different bra types it can be overwhelming.  However, each one can change your silhouette and you might even need a different size.  Experiment and see what works.  Georgina and Leyah have created a great bra guide video here if you need some more advice.

5. Learn how to put your bra on

"But Kariss" I hear you cry "I've been putting my bra on for years I know what I'm doing".  If you're like me you might still be doing the old fasten at the front and spin around technique.  Did you know that there is a proper way to put on a bra?  For a start you are actually supposed to lean forward as you put it on, who knew!  Find full instructions here.

It's time to love our boobs and make sure they are healthy and happy.  Let us start a revolution!  Boob love starts here!
Simply Be kindly offered me underwear in exchange for bring awareness to this campaign.  All words, thoughts and opinions are my own.

26 October 2015

#Sassybooks Am I Normal Yet? Review

For this months Sassy Books it was back to young adult with Holly Bourne's Am I Normal Yet?  This is a weird one for me because I don't know how I feel about it and I think it's going to be hard to review.  Here's the blurb:

All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…

But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?

I don't want to get into how well the mental illness is portrayed in the book because I don't know enough about it to have an opinion.  However, I do think this book could be triggering for those suffering from mental illness, but this isn't a reflection on the book itself.

What I can vouch for is the portrayal of a 16-year-old British teen.  So many of her thoughts, fears and friendships I could relate to from myself back then, including the way other kids acted, especially boys!  It reminded me of events and emotions I had completely forgotten about!  Really this is a book about being true to yourself and great friends.  I would kill to have the friends Evelyn has at this point in my life!

The feminist overtones were interesting and I loved that it gave strength to the characters but at times the conversations did seem a little unnatural.  The ending was a bit too rose-tinted for me, but this was an easy read, despite its serious subject matter.  I enjoyed it although it wasn't the most memorable.

23 October 2015

Joules Design a Welly competition

Everyone has their own way of letting their creativity out.  Mine is obviously my blog, but if you are one of those incredibly lucky people who can draw/ design I have got an amazing competition to tell you about.

The fashion company Joules are currently running a competition to design a pair of wellies.  The winner not only get's their shoe design put into production (with all proceeds going to the charity Charitable Joules) but a fabulous luxury forest holiday worth £5000.

Here's a run down of exactly what you'd win, and how to enter:

A Luxury Break worth £5,000, including 3 nights in a golden oak treehouse cabin, plus lots more.

10 runners-up will each receive a £250 Joules gift card.

The winning welly design will go on sale at joules.com/

To design your welly and enter, go here: http://getcreative.joules.com/

Don't forget all proceeds from the sale of the limited edition welly will be donated to charity partners via Charitably Joules

Trust me they've made it really easy, even I've entered! 
I received vouchers for Jules telling you guys about this fab comp.

Fashion: Autumn Term at Hogwarts

This one of those amazingly rare occurrences when an outfit just sort of fell together and I loved it.  I don't normally have a good eye for matching things together, nor do I really have any form of seasonal wardrobe (some blogger I am).  However, I braved the Primark on Oxford Street last Saturday and actually came away with the basics for a look I really like.  In honour of it I've made some changes to my usual text overlays, what do you think?  Picking up the Hogwarts vibes?

Let's start with the basics.  The shoes you will have seen on here a lot because they are my go to shoe, there just from the kids section at New Look but they are really comfy and their lighter colour means they go with everything.  The skirt is one I've had a few years and I'm not totally sure where it came from.  It was cheap, I remember that, and it's become my standard clubbing skirt so it's seen better days if I'm honest, but it's comfortable and seems to go well with this outfit.

When I was in Primark I spotted this yellow shirt I was struck by how perfect it was for Autumn, then I remembered that I don't have any typical Autumn coloured clothes and that seemed criminal.  I do love these Japanese style shirts with the neck tie/bow.  I almost didn't try it on because of it's modern style of being baggy and intended to be tucked into a skirt or trousers.  Even when I tried it on I wasn't sure about it but I'm really glad I walked away with it because I love it, modern shape or not.  This was only £10 and they had it in a few different colours if yellow isn't your thing.

The Jumper was also from Primark, it's exactly the same as the official one but £14 instead of £69 so it's a no-brainer really.  I was really surprised and impressed by the quality, it's crazy warm too. and I love the look of having the collar from the shirt over the top.  I'm a sucker for a cute collar.  The necklace is a cheap knock off version of the official one that I got off my official one broke.  That was £50 down of the drain, this £3 has lasted me much longer.

Lastly the hat.  I am currently in love with this hat!  I have wanted a 30's style hat like this for years but never found one to fit my tiny head.  I came across this one on a stall at the Camden market last weekend and it's so perfect, colour and all!  I think it cost around £25 and I'll be wearing it all Autumn!  I've finished the look off with Mac Rebel lipstick which is my favourite for Autumn.

Which Hogwarts house are you in?

21 October 2015

Travel: Barcelona Overview

Let's start with a disclaimer, these pictures are not the greatest.  I didn't want to take my camera because I was given so many warnings about pickpockets (I never saw any crime when I was there however).  So all these pictures are taken on my phone, on the move and with different settings (I often forget I'm taking things in square mode for Instagram).  Anyway without further adieu, get ready for the photo dump!

We arrived late in the day on the first day of the trip so headed straight from the airport to the hostel.  This was my first ever hostel experience and honestly it couldn't have been better.  We stayed in a place just outside the center which meant it was not only quiet but much cheaper.  We shared a room for three which came to £40 each for three nights including WiFi and breakfast, it even had a ping-pong table.  The guy who ran it couldn't do more to help and it was less 30 minutes on the metro from the centre.  You can get a ticket called a T-10 which is 10 trips for 10 euros and can be used by different people at once, seriously cheap.

The second day we were up early and headed into town to get a full view of the city.  We had a quick wander down the shambles before getting a hop on hop off sightseeing tour bus.  I'd not done one of these before but it was defiantly worth it to get a feel for the city.  It made it a lot easyer to get around in the following days without getting lost and meant we got to see almost everything we wanted to on the first day.  There were three different routes but we only did two and got to see so much of the city, it included an audio guide which was another big help and a booklet of discounts.  We stopped off at several places including the Olympic stadium, cathedral and my personal favourite, Guell park.  At the end of the day we headed back over to the museum quarter to see the magic fountains, a truly beautiful and romantic short water show, before heading in for the night.

Day two saw us heading towards the center again, as we had covered so much in the first day this left us with time to explore more casually today.  We got take a look at the shambles much more thoroughly and checked out a couple of bars, including a really cute and quirky fairy cafe tucked away near the wax works.  Definitely stop in here if you get the chance it is so cosy and mystical.  We also revisited some of the stops we wanted to get a further look at from the first day and did some tourist shopping.

The final day we had laid aside time for just one important thing before we took the plane home.  We had managed to get tickets for Barcelona's most popular attraction, the la Sagrada Família.  If you manage to get tickets (you have to book at least a few days in advance) you won't regret it.  It is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen, and the inside is even more stunning.  The colours in the stain glass windows light up the space under the Spanish sun unlike anything I've ever seen before.  It is still unfinished despite being under construction for over 100 years so when it is completed I can only imagine how grand it will be.

I had a fantastic weekend, it was one of the only city breaks I have ever done in and it has left me desperate to try more.

What is your favourite European city?

19 October 2015

History of Ale Event at The Botanist Leeds

The Botanist in Leeds is famous for many things, not just for its quirky decor but also it's fabulous cocktails, food and unusual range of ales.  I had always opted for the spirits, give me a vodka over a beer any day.  SO when the lovely guys from The Botanist Leeds invited me for an ale tasting I almost turned it down.  I don't like ale, or so I thought.  But this wasn't an ordinary ale tasting, it was a history of ale tasting (did you say that in the M&S voice) and I do love history so I decided to pluck up my courage and give myself a go.

Kieran the resident Beer Guru (yes that's his actual job title) brought us a selection of unique ales and explained the history behind them and how they were made.  It was really fascinating, it also meant we got to try drinks not usually on the menu of these kind of events.  Guess what?  I liked them!  Here's what we tried:

Schlenkerla Marzen – Germany 

What they say:
The malts were smoked over beechwood fires to give this beer its distinctive aroma and flavour which is often compared to Bavarian smoked hams and cheeses.

What I say:
Frankly this tasted like liquid smoky bacon to me, and you can't go wrong with bacon.  Delicious, although rather heavy so I'm not sure I could drink more then a bottle.

Saison Due Pont – Belgium

What they Say:
Historically Saisons did not share enough identifiable characteristics to pin down as a specific style; but rather a group of refreshing summer ales. Each brewer would make their own distinctive version, this modern batch is based on the Dupont Brewery’s classic.

What I say:
Not my absolute favourite but I found this flavoursome and enjoyable with strong carbonation.  You can definitely taste the yeast in this one which later turns almost earthy.

Lindemans, Cuveé Rene Gueuze – Belgium

What the say:
A blend of young and old Lambic beer’s using wild yeast to create a refreshing sour flavour. This creates what is considered the ‘Champagne’ of beer styles.

What I say:
This was a bit of a controversial one among the group and I was one of the few people that actually enjoyed it.  The initial taste is pretty sour but the taste transforms pretty quick.  Defiantly unique.

 Einstock Toasted Porter – Iceland 

What they say:
What I sayBrewed with clear notes of espresso coffee and dark chocolate creates this dark but rich finish, with its smooth yet robust flavour this porter is an easy to drink:

What I say:
This tasted to me almost like a dark chocolate, rich with a creamy finish.

Ticketybrew, Dubbel – England 

What they say:
This modern Dubbel ale comes from a brewery born of the love for beer and on Valentines Day (14th Feb, 2013!). The dubbel style is a staple of Trappist and Abby breweries, and the quirky theatre ticket lable is a nod to the brewer’s previous life treading the boards.
 Pale Ale began as a home brewer’s dream, grew into an icon, and inspired countless brewers to follow a passion of their own. Its unique piney and grapefruit aromas. 

What I say:
Can we all be upstanding for the best brewery name of the night please!  This had a light, spicy taste that was really easy to drink.

Left Hand, Nitro Milk Stout – USA 

What they say:
It’s all about the pour with a Nitro Stout; just grab it, invert it and pour as fast as it will flow then watch as the milk stout cascades beautifully forming a tight thick head. When you hit the nitro be prepared to be thrown back in your seat, with flavours of vanilla, mocha and milk chocolate.

What I say:
Another rich and creamy choice, if you can get your head around literally having to dump this one in the glass you are in for a real treat.

Seirra Navanda Pale Ale – USA 

What they say:
 Pale Ale began as a home brewer’s dream, grew into an icon, and inspired countless brewers to follow a passion of their own. Its unique piney and grapefruit aromas.

What I say:
I remember this one the least I think and that's partinally because it was so easy to drink (and you know, I was a few beer's in at this point!).  Light and a little sweet.

Beavertown, Gamma Ray – England

What they say:

Gamma Ray instantly shouts "Take me to your Leader!", and it's futile to refuse as hops armed with ray guns fire citrus flavours at all your taste buds which are already enjoying caramel malt leading to some tropical fruits. Eventually the invasion is complete and it's mind control leaves you looking for more.

What I say:

This might be my favourite in the 'most likley to drink again' stakes.  I can see why it's so popular, it smells amazing and tastes so light and fruity.  I'll definatly be grabbing one the next changce I get.

This wasn't all, to keep our heads in the game we also had some lovely nibbbles part way through.  I can see why The Botanist is always popular with people looking for good grub, everyting was tasty and filling.  Also, there was a lot of cheese so of course I was happy!  

I can honestly say my opinion on ale has done a 360 in the course of this one event.  I was so nervous about going, fearing I wouldn't be able to drink any of it but I actually liked every single one we tried, even though they were all so different.  I'm really glad I chose to go, the staff were all so knowledgeable, friendly and welcoming and the bar itself has a unique quirky style that really stands out in the city.  If you want to book a similar tasting for yourself they have three different options ranging from £15 per person to £20 per person which honestly is a complete steal!  You can take a full look at what they offer here.

Are you an Ale fan?  What should I try next?
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