Lifestyle | New Year's Resolutions 2014 — How Did I Do?

Wednesday, 31 December 2014


Way back at the end of 2013, I made four resolutions for the New Year. I thought it'd be interesting to look back and see if I'd stuck to them, so here goes!

1. Write something every day, even if it's not much.
I've worked out that writing every day, although good in theory, doesn't always work for me. I tend to get more done if I seize the opportunity every time I'm feeling creative, and concentrate on copying up lecture notes, doing background reading, sorting personal admin, and organising whatever needs to be organised when I'm not particularly inspired but still want to get things done. Knowing this has made me more productive.
Achieved? No, but that's okay.

2. Continue to write my blog and improve it.
I feel like I've made a lot of changes to Toasty over the past year. New design, new posting schedule, new ethos (yay going cruelty free!) and a new attitude. I've been taking it all a lot more seriously, while still thoroughly enjoying everything about the blogging process, and I think it shows in my posts. Not everyone will agree, but I'm much happier with my blog than I was this time last year and I'm looking forward to continuing to work on it.
Achieved? Yes

3. Read Jane Austen's books.
Achieved? No. Sorry Jane.

4. Get work experience.
I did this, and I'm proud of myself, because I'm so bad at putting myself out there. I emailed Marnie, a ghost writer I know back home, and she went above and beyond to help me sort out some experience. I helped her plan a book launch and I helped with editing, and I also did a week at one of my local newspapers, which was really interesting (although I don't think journalism is for me). I did some guest blogging, and, on the advice of one of my tutors, contacted Buzz magazine and ended up writing a book review for them, which you can find on page 43 of their August issue. I got more done than I ever thought I would, which just shows that if you step out of your comfort zone you can get results.
Achieved? Yes    

Two and a half out of four ain't bad. I think, for me, the key with New Year's resolutions is to try and make them do-able. That doesn't mean they have to be unambitious, but breaking them down so that they're realistic is a lot less daunting and easier to stick to  if you remember them! I have to confess, I didn't always have them in mind, but that made it fun to look back and see what I'd written.

What do you think about New Year's Resolutions? Do you make them? Let me know in the comments! 

Jewellery | Me & Zena Midi Rings

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Me & Zena Birth Stone Midi Rings

These Me & Zena midi rings were a Christmas present from my aunt, and they're too cute not to share!

I love midi rings. Normal rings rarely fit me right — they're either too tight or too loose — whereas midi rings sit comfortably above my knuckles and feel much more secure. I also love how delicate they are. The odd statement necklace aside, I've never really been a fan of large jewellery. On other people, hell yes. On me? Not so much. I'm quite petite, so it can swamp me if I'm not careful.

I've always been drawn to the idea of birth stones, probably because mine is blue, my favourite colour. (A little superficial? Maybe!) I'm a March baby, which means my birth stone is aquamarine. The crystal on this ring is such a beautiful shade of blue, and although it doesn't really go with every colour in my wardrobe it's so petite that I don't think it matters.

I just have to mention the presentation, which apparently didn't cost any extra. The rings arrived in a cute velvet drawstring bag, which was stored inside a plastic case. I've kept them both, as it just makes storing them that much easier.

As this was a gift, I don't have any experience of customer service from Me & Zena, but my aunt did mention how quickly the parcel arrived. She ordered it one afternoon and it was there the next day, even though she only selected standard delivery. How good is that? I'll definitely be browsing the Me & Zena website in future, these rings are beautiful and I'm all for reliable service (who isn't?!)

You can find the Me & Zena website here

Lifestyle | Christmas Traditions

Wednesday, 24 December 2014


After all the anticipation, Christmas 2014 is nearly here! I'm so excited; we're having a massive family Christmas at my aunt's house, and I swear they've prepared enough food to feed an army. Far from being wasteful, this just mean we won't have to go food shopping until January, and having vol-au-vents for breakfast will suddenly become acceptable, if only for a few days. I never get to eat turkey at any other time of year, so I'll be enjoying all the Christmas sandwiches coming my way too. Here are some other traditions my family and I seem to have.

1. Watching all the Christmas cookery shows and drooling at the TV.
Nigella is our fave, but anyone who makes a mouthwatering Christmas dinner is alright by me.

2. Bopping along to the music on Top of the Pops 2.

Oh, Top of the Pops, how I miss you. It's not Christmas until the Wombles have wobbled awkwardly around the stage as they wish you a Wombling Merry Christmas, and it's not Christmas until my dad sheds his inhibitions and bellows Slade at the top of his lungs.

3. Getting up at the crack of dawn.

Okay, so for me the crack of dawn is 8am, but you get the picture. There have been years when we've been up earlier than the three children next door — their oldest is ten years younger than me. Usually, my brother wakes me up by singing 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas' in a psychotic whisper, and then we wake up my parents. My dad is usually awake from about 5am, but not because he loves Christmas, he's just an earlybird (and a weirdo. Why would you get up at 5am voluntarily?!) The rest of us are a little more bleary-eyed, but we pad downstairs and open our presents regardless.

4. Croissants for breakfast!

With about five different types of jam, because we all like different ones. And orange juice in champagne glasses, because we like to pretend we're fancy while we sit around in our pyjamas.

5. Catching up with everyone.

I always used to get so excited about opening presents when I was little, but looking back it's the time I spent with my family that I treasure the most. They're not gonna be around forever, y'know? Since I've gone to uni, a new tradition has emerged. Aside from getting stuck into all the work I have to do (why do tutors think they're being generous by giving you deadlines after the holidays?) I tend to spend my Christmas holidays going out to eat with my friends and various family members. It's so much fun, and not just because I love food! Sitting down for an uninterrupted conversation with the people who matter most to me is a luxury.

I hope you enjoyed reading this! I think one of the best things about Christmas is that even though most of us do the same kind of things, they're all different in some way. No holiday celebration is exactly the same. 

What are some of your Christmas traditions? Let me know in the comments, and I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

Lifestyle | Favourite Places to Eat and Drink

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Cajun Chicken Burger and Fries from The Font, Fallowfield
Cajun Chicken Burger and Fries from The Font

I won't lie; eating is one of my favourite things, and I love nothing more than going out for a meal and catching up with my closest friends. I try and be healthy the majority of the time, but there's no way I'm not ordering the most calorific item on the menu if it's what I'm craving. Going out to eat and drink is a treat, not a regular thing, and I want to make the most of it. Here are some of my favourite places to go.

The prices for their cocktails start from £2 (my personal favourite is the Mudslide — Irish cream and dark chocolate syrup shaken with milk, topped with whipped cream and dusted with cocoa powder) and they also do really yummy food — their fries are the best I've ever eaten.

Friendly staff, chic decor, and the most incredible cocktail menu I've ever seen. They also do a foodgasm-worthy chocolate fudge cake (light sponge, warm chocolate sauce and actual fudge; it's heaven).

Quex Barn, Canterbury
For delicious, fresh food made from locally grown produce. Their sandwiches are always packed with fillings, and come served with enormous hot chips. My order is usually pork and apple sauce, but the sausage and red onion marmalade sandwich is also excellent.

Casual Mexican dining at its finest. The staff don't skimp on servings, which makes eating kind of messy, but that's all part of the fun. It's worth paying the extra £1 for the guacamole btw, the stuff is amazing.

Hidden in one of Cardiff's many arcades, Coffee Barker has all the drinks you'd expect from a coffee shop, plus a range of milkshakes that come served in enormous glass bottles. They sell homemade cakes too; I'm partial to the carrot cake.

Have you been to any of these? Where are your favourite places to go? Hit me with your recommendations in the comments!

In My Make-Up Bag | Christmas Make-Up

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Christmas Make Up

During December I find myself leaving all the autumnal bronze and berry shades behind (temporarily, of course) and reaching for warmer colours like red and gold. They're just so Christmassy, and if I can't wear a little bit of gold glitter at this time of year, when can I? Here are the products I've been reaching for.

My base takes less time than it used to, thanks to e.l.f.'s Mineral Foundation in Porcelain. It evens out my skin tone and reduces shine, so I don't need to use a separate powder. I dot Seventeen's Stay Time Concealer in Extra Fair on any blemishes and under my eyes to cover up those pesky dark circles.

For eyebrows, I'm relying on Topshop's Brow Pencil in Brown, which is still going after I bought it in early 2014. I'll probably have to replace it soon, but I'm pretty sure I said that last time and look where we are! I follow this with some of the powder from Seventeen's Brow Kit.

I find that brown liner is more flattering than black, particularly when the light at this time of year is so harsh, and e.l.f.'s Studio Cream Eyeliner in Coffee works a treat (it stays put for ages). How much I use depends on where I'm going — I keep it quite subtle during the day, whereas in the evening I really like to exaggerate that cat-eye flick. Sometimes I pop a dot of e.l.f.'s Mineral Eyeshadow in Celebrity on the inner corner of my eye to really wake them up. I finish all this with a coat or two of Urban Decay's Perversion Mascara, which adds both length and volume and never, ever smudges, but not before using Eyeko's Lash Curlers (not pictured) to really open up the eyes.

Christmas Make Up

I have officially come to the conclusion that cream blushes are my favourite. I think it's the combination of easy application, excellent pigmentation, and good staying power; it's everything you could want. Revlon's PhotoReady Cream Blush in Coral Reef~ looks terrifying in the pot but creates a very pretty flush when you blend it on the apples of your cheeks.

On my lips? Revlon Lipstick in Really Red~. This is my perfect matte red shade; I love it so much that I considered buying it in bulk before going cruelty free. Ultimately, I decided against this, since it would make me a massive hypocrite and, y'know, it's only a lipstick at the end of the day, but if anyone knows a good cruelty free dupe then please let me know!

For simple, festive nails, you can't beat Nails Inc Polish in St James, which is the perfect Christmas red.

I couldn't write this post without including The Body Shop's Glazed Apple Hand Cream — it smells absolutely divine (and, bizarrely, it isn't on the website). The Glazed Apple range has been all over the blogosphere so I won't go on too much but if you haven't tried it yet then pop into your local store and have a sniff, it's amazing.

So that's my festive face! What make up are you wearing this December? Are there any shades you're drawn to at this time of year? Let me know in the comments!

~ Purchased before I went cruelty free.

Tagged | The 1989 Tag

Friday, 12 December 2014


As I nearly always seem to, I found this tag on Jennie's blog and really liked it. I have a massive girl crush on Taylor Swift at the moment — I really like everything she says about being in love with, and taking control of your life (read this Buzzfeed article for more). One of my favourite quotes also comes from her: 'If you don't need a lipstick touch-up at some point, you're not really living.'

1. Welcome to New York. If you could live in any city, which would it be and why?
Right now I'm in love with Cardiff. I'm not too far from there, but it'd be lovely to just walk out the door and have a wander round whenever I fancied it. There are so many cities I'd love to live in though, London would be amazing as well.

2. Blank Space. What is something that everyone thinks is true about you but is actually false?
I think I probably come across as being bored or grumpy a lot of the time if people don't know me very well, but I'm actually just shy, plus I have resting bitch face so that doesn't help!

3. Style. What is one item in your closet that makes you feel unstoppable?
My favourite LBD. It's long-sleeved, short but not too short, body-con, and it has the most incredible beading along the arms and either side of the waist. It fits perfectly, and it always look good.

4. Out of the Woods. What is one thing that you're afraid of?
I'm afraid of a lot of things, but right now I'm scared that I'll leave university and drift around with no sense of purpose, or have some kind of purpose but be unable to get a relevant job.

5. All You Had To Do Was Stay. Who is someone you wish was still in your life?
My grandpa, who died in early 2013. It was a blessing in disguise really, because he was so ill, but sometimes I wish he'd lived to see me get my place at university. Christmas is weird without him; he always had so much fun with us at Christmas.

6. Shake It Off. What is something you have had to shake off?
Nerves! I'm such a worrier, and sometimes I just have to remember to breathe. Keep calm and carry on, and all of that.

7. I Wish You Would. What is something you'd like to happen right now?
I would love to get all my ideas for pieces of writing down on the page the way they are in my head, so that I can work on them and make them as good as they can be. I'd also quite like the back of my house to be fixed so that I don't wake up with a breeze wafting over my face every morning, it's too cold!

8. Bad Blood. Have you ever had someone stab you in the back?
Yes. Not fun.

9. Wildest Dreams. What would you like to be remembered for?
For living life on my own terms, making some kind of positive difference to the world, however big or small, and for writing something good.

10. How You Get The Girl. What is your favourite pick-up line?
I hate pick-up lines! Being able to have a natural conversation with someone without it being awkward or without me struggling to think of what to talk about is good, because it doesn't happen very often. 

11. This Love. What is something you got back that you never thought you would?
Over a year after I stopped taking ballet classes, I can finally do the splits again!

12. I Know Places. Where is one place you always feel safe?
My parents' house. It's nice to go back and have someone else cook and clean (although I still try and help with that when I'm there) and I always take full advantage of having access to a bath. Bring on the Lush bath bombs! 

13. Clean. What is an important lesson you have learned in life, and how did you learn it?
The people worth having in your life are the ones who always make the effort, no matter how much your lives change. I feel like I truly discovered the meaning of this when I moved away to attend university, and although it was a difficult lesson to learn it was an important one.

I tag you! If you've already done it then feel free to leave me your links in the comments!

Thoughts and Musings | Beauty and Feminism

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Femininity Is Not Anti-Feminist

I mentioned how much I love Sali Hughes' attitude towards beauty and feminism in my post about reading Pretty Honest, and today I'm going to devote an entire post to it.

Sali wrote a piece in November's Glamour called 'Brains. Equality. Lipstick.' and I pretty much agree with everything she says: the idea that if you're interested in beauty then you can't be a feminist is ridiculous.

What irritates me most is that it suggests a love of beauty dumbs you down.  How on earth does the fact that I like to buy make up, wear make up, and blog about make up have any bearing on my intelligence? Shockingly enough, it is possible for a person to have a range of interests, and if one of those things is beauty then so what?  

I am also irritated beyond belief by people who think that an interest in beauty means you aren't feminist enough. Really, what this idea suggests is that being feminine is something to be ashamed of; that kind of sexism is one of the many reasons we need feminism in the first place. I was under the impression that being a feminist means you believe in the social, political and economical equality of the sexes; why should my addiction to burgandy nail polishes exclude me from this movement? 

I think there are far more important things to be worrying about (Equal pay? Reproductive rights? Teaching young people about consent, instead of blaming the victim?) than whether a woman chooses to wear mascara or not. Some days I wear it and some days I don't, and it's nobody's business but mine, unless I decide to blog about it. That I'm able to choose what I want to put on my face is a victory in itself.

If you want to be bare-faced, then be bare-faced. If you want to wear red lipstick, then wear it. You want to pile on the eyeliner one day and then rock a statement lip the next? Go for it. Feminism is about having the choice.

Have you ever experienced any negativity about your love of make up? What are your thoughts about beauty and feminism? Let me know in the comments!

Getting Organised | Storing My Make-Up

Friday, 5 December 2014

I've mentioned what's in my make up bag quite a few times on this blog, but I've never really talked about how I store the rest of my cosmetics. I used to just keep them in the various make up bags I'd collected over the years, but that took up too much room, especially when the time came for me to pack up my life and head off to university. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with all my make up, until I remembered I'd kept the boxes from a couple of Models Own orders, just in case they were useful.

Storing My Eye Make Up
Rimmel Lash Accelerator Mascara~; Collection Extreme 24 Hour Felt Tip Liner; Max Factor Liquid Effect Pencil in Brown Blaze; No7 Shade & Define Pencils in Velvet Truffle and Cool Mink; Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner in Navy; Collection Fast Stroke Eyeliner in Black; The Body Shop Eyeshadow (discontinued); 17 Wild Metallic Eyeshadow in Wild Purple; Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Liner in Brown~; Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Palette in The Dolce Vita; Topshop Golden Aura Palette

And useful they have been! They're big enough for me to store everything neatly, but they're compact enough to store (and pack in a suitcase) without taking up too much space. The dream one day is to get some of those Muji drawers but it's just not practical at this point in time. I have to admit, once upon a time the amount of room in these boxes wouldn't have been adequate, but since I went on a spending ban and ending up streamlining my collection somewhat it's become the perfect size. 

Storing My Lip Products
Bourjois Colour Boost Lip Crayon in Red Sunrise; Revlon ColourBurst Balm Stains in Lovesick~ and Crush~; Revlon ColourBurst Matte Balm in Elusive~; Revlon ColourBurst Lip Butter in Juicy Papaya~; Topshop Sheer Lips in Chuck; Revlon PhotoReady Cream Blush in Coral Reef~; Clinique Chubby Sticks in Two Ton Tomato~ and Pudgy Peony~; Topshop Cream Blush in Head Over Heels; The Body Shop All In One Cheek Colour in Marshmellow; Revlon Super Lustrous Matte Lipstick in Really Red~; 17 Stay Pout Lipstick in Make An Entrance; Topshop Lips in Beguiled and Macaroon; L'oreal Collection Privee Lipstick in Julianne's Nude~; Bourjois Shine Edition Lipstick in Beige Democrachic; Benefit Posietint~ 

Not all of my make up is with me at uni, some of it is at home, but moving away has taught me that you don't need as much stuff as you think you do. I might even have a further clear-out after Christmas; I don't think there's any point holding on to products I no longer use (or those that have passed their expiry date). Then again, I often find myself keeping unusual shades of lipstick, 'just in case' I find myself presented with the perfect opportunity to wear them! You never know, do you?

How do you store your make up? Have you ever found yourself holding on to make up you rarely use? Let me know in the comments!

NOTD | Models Own Nail Polish in Purple Grey

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Models Own Purple Grey is one of those shades that sits quietly in my collection, and is quite often overlooked for something a bit, well, warmer. But it's perfect for the cold winter days and nights we're having at the moment, and I think it's a really interesting colour. Brown in some lights, grey in others, and at other times it's a rather wonderful shade I like to think of as murky purple. Purple Grey really comes into its own at this time of year, and I think it's a great alternative if you want to rock dark nails but are bored of all the black or burgandy polishes that are around during A/W (I love them, I really do, but sometimes it's nice to change it up).

What do you think? Do you own any colours like this? What are your favourite A/W shades that aren't the usual berry colours? Let me know in the comments!
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