Wintery Favourites – Getting Me Through the Festive Period

Ever since October hit, autumn has been fast on our tail and it’s inevitable that winter is coming. With the cool weather approaching, I’ve had to change what I carry around with me on a day-to-day basis, and I thought I’d do my ‘Wintery Favourites’ as
a beauty blogpost today. Also, please bear in mind, this is all products I’ve bought or been given as gifts by friends/family.

So, in no particular order:

Burberry Cashmere Scarf – £335

Now, I was very lucky to have this as a hand-me-down from my mother from her younger days. This vintage Burberry scarf has been a staple in my handbag, and although its certainly been well-loved throughout the years, it’s still gorgeously warm and soft. This scarf is a classic, and I’ve worn it with pride over the years, and will continue to do so this winter.

Eos Strawberry Sorbet Lipbalm – £751a7fzyczjl-_sl1000_

A fairly new product, but definitely a favourite. This cult beauty product has been recommended by all who try it, and I love how moisturising it is, and with the nifty packaging and bright colours it doesn’t get lost in the depth of my handbag. Over the change of season, I’ve been really suffering with chapped lips, so I use this before my lipstick and throughout the day, and it seems to have really cleared it up.

Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream – £3

A really intensive hand treatment. A little will go a long way, and you can really feel the nourishment that it gives you. On my skin, I’ve not noticed any stickiness from residue, and I also like how subtle the scent is.

Touch-screen gloves – £2.50

I hate having cold hands, so really love my winter gloves over the cooler months, however with my iPod Touch and iPhone, it used to be annoying if I had keep removing them just to text/change songs. This simple pair of black touch-screen gloves from Peacocks does the trick until I can get into the warmth.

Neutrogena Visibly Clear Oil Free Moisturiser – £4.99272810011_0_640x640

Over the years I’ve gone through loads of different day cream/moisturisers, but I seem to keep coming back to this one. As someone with combination skin, and a particularly oily T-zone/forehead, I really need an oil-free moisturiser for my day-to-day, and I found with this one, a little goes a long way and I love the scent.

J by Jasper Conran Winter Checkered Coat – Estimated £100

I’m not a big coat person. I run quite warm, and really can’t stand the bulkiness of coats unless it’s very cold outside, but for the last couple of years, I’ve been returning to this Jasper Conran coat. With a huge hood, good length and waist belt, I think it looks quite stylish every year, and I find it warm enough to keep me toasty through the winter months. I bought this coat ages ago as a new one from a charity shop, so I’m unsure of the price, but by looking at the Debenhams website, I can only estimate around £100 new.

Woollen Headband – £5

I am not the biggest hat fan, as my head gets unseasonably warm, but in the winter months I need some protection around my ears. A woollen headband can keep your ears warm, along with being a natty accessory. I also use it for bad hair days, and for the price, you can’t go wrong. I bought mine a couple of years ago, and is perfect for just slipping in my bag.

 

Louis Vuitton Speedy Bandoulière – £925IMG_1825

I’ve done a big blogpost about my Speedy on here, but for the cooler and slightly wetter months, I prefer using my Speedy over my Neverfull as it has a zip. I’ve got this bag caught in so many rainstorms, and because the bag is treated canvas, water just runs off it and dries quickly. The Speedy 30 is a great bag for everyday goods and books, and with the addition of the strap, I can just toss it on and not worry too much.

 

 

 

So these are my Top 8 Wintery Favourites. Let me know if you’ve got any products that you’d recommend for the colder months?

 

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Angels of Music by Kim Newman – Book Review

Title: Angels of Music

Author: Kim Newman

Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Alternative History, YA, Teen Fiction

Rating: 5/5


One of my favourite fantasy authors has always been Kim Newman. I discovered him a couple of years ago, when I first started getting into The Gothic, and devoured his alternative history version of the Dracula tale – Anno Dracula – and I loved how he retold the canon in new and imaginative ways. Luckily, I was sent his newest book for review, and I knew from the front cover that I would love it.

angels_music_final_2Angels of Music is a retelling of Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera tale (note, very different from the Lloyd Webber musical), and follows the plot of The Phantom running detective/crime fighting underground syndicate made up of talented female agents who solve the crimes that the higher levels of society would like to keep out of the public eye. Basically bohemian Paris’ Charlie’s Angels. The toxic underbelly of Paris is revealed, and with automatons, vampires and mass murderers running riot through the city, it only takes one spark of a flame to ignite a terrifying series of events.

Angels of Music reunites some of Newman’s best loved characters, with Kate Reed and Irene Adler coming into play as one of The Phantom’s agent ‘Angels’, and gives mini stories throughout the novel that links together at the end.

Written in the traditional Newman style of different historical characters coming into play throughout the text, and different historical events being retold to fit the narrative, it felt like coming home to an old friend, and not forced or false at all. I also find myself Googling these events, just to read the real history.

I really enjoyed the different Angels, and with the plot moving forward in a linear fashion, girls leave and get replaced with others. All in all, Newman wrote 18 different Angels, all with different characteristics and back-stories, which provided an interesting read. None of them felt really left out and rushed, and none of them really seemed repeated. I particularly liked THE JAPANESE LADY and the vivacious CLARA.

All in all, this is another brilliant novel from Kim Newman. It hasn’t faltered in quality at all, and I love that he’s gone into another Gothic figure of interest and completely put his own spin on it.

Angels of Music is out now.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – Book Review.

Title: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Rating: 3/5

Genre: Self-Help, Mind, Body and Spirit, Healthy Living


 

I must confess I’m not one for traditional self-help books. I’ve also considered these sorts of books to be mantra-chanting-full-of-pity accounts, and never picked one up to read. However, when Bloomsbury sent me Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert to review, I was intrigued by the front cover, and subtitle of ‘Creative Living Beyond Fear’.

As an English Masters student and budding writer, I knew how challenging living creatively could be, and as an author who stayed on the New York Bestsellers List for 3 years, I felt she could be somebody to look up too.

So I picked up this book without any knowledge or expectations of whether it would help, me but I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised.

Big Magic follows Gilbert’s own creative processes, and from that, she imparts her wisdom/tips and tricks in order to get people think and living creatively. She offers insights into the writing process, inspiration, making new ways of work, embarking on dreams or just adding a little bit of mindfulness and passion into our everyday lives, whilst never feeling too lecture-y or self-pitying. img_3534

The book is split into six sections, which lead naturally into each other, and really are enjoyable reads.  Gilbert’s writing style is fluid, natural and remarkably unpretentious for a NYT Best Selling Author, and she seems to take on the world with wonder and majesty. She is aware that her own successes are amazing, yet she comments mainly on the joy of writing. The author also divulges the reader into her own backstory and upbringing, but doesn’t separate that from her message of living in a magical and creative way.

One thing I love about this book is her theory about ideas as sort of visceral beings that chose owners and you have to work with it. This really spoke to me, and I found myself taking real note from this book.

There has been some critics of this book, and it is true, it wouldn’t have been published if it wasn’t for the soaraway success of Eat, Pray, Love, but I personally don’t care about this.

I found this book to be a interesting read that helped me structure and subtly change my views on creativity. Whether or not I change my writing style or how I write, is a separate matter, but all in all I found this book to be a light, whimsical read that will, above all things, make you want to take up a pen, paintbrush or video camera and get creative.

 

Big Magic is available now through Bloomsbury Publishing House

 

 

Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM – First Impressions and Review.

As stated in my Louis Vuitton Speedy Bandouliere blogpost, I was saving up for my next Louis Vuitton bag. I knew that this bag would be the fruits of my worklife, and would take a lot of saving and time on my behalf, but I was excited for the opportunity.

Whilst shopping for my Bandouliere, I was shown a Neverfull as a comparison piece, and became enamoured. The structure of the tote bag was something I was sorely missing from my handbag collection, and I wanted this bag to be something that meant a lot to me.

Louis Vuitton Handbag Choices.

Now, like with the Speedy Collection, the Neverfull has different sizes that can make choosing the right bag quite difficult. With three concrete sizes:

  • The Neverfull PM (Smallest of the lot with dimensions = 11.4 x 8.7 x 5.1 inches
    (length x height x width)img_3488
  • The Neverfull MM (Middle size – Dimensions = 12.6 x 11.4 x 6.7 inches)
  • The Neverfull GM (Largest size – Dimensions = 15.7 x 13.0 x 7.9 inches)

The size you choose is all dependent on what you would use it for and what you would pack in it.

From what I can tell, the PM size seems to be quite dainty, the MM seems to be a good day tote/everyday bag, and the GM seems to be a monster of a bag, perfect for luggage/weekend away/hefty office work. However, I knew myself that I didn’t want or need the GM. I’m sure that in the future I’d love to purchase a GM as my definite oversized tote, but for my first Neverfull, I was happy with the smaller MM size.

Also, like with the Speedy Collection, there are a huge amount of different colours, interior and exterior design and personalisation options. I decided to go for the Damier Ebene print (the darkered checkered print) with the Red interior lining. Only a few weeks ago, Louis Vuitton did release the Ebene print with the beautiful Rose Ballerine pink lining, which is a gorgeous mixture, but due to hearing issues with the lining marking quite easily, I wanted to go for something hardier.

For the MM, I paid £835. Louis Vuitton had just done a price increase, which boosted the MM up from £795, which was unfortunate timing on my behalf, but luckily I had saved extra.

Shipping 

I bought the bag online via the Louis Vuitton website, which actually was bit of a palaver, but a phone call to customer service eased my mind. I found that with a bank transfer, Louis Vuitton didn’t confirm when the received the transfer, nor when it cleared. I had to physically ring up and check.

For a UK resident as myself, the bag took a good week or so to arrive from door to door. The shipping was free, and they did give you a tracking number. However, the UPS courier didn’t specify what time they would arrive, so I had to have it shipped to my work address rather than home, as I wouldn’t want it to be delayed or without a signature upon arrival.

The bag came with all receipts, letters and a dustbag, but not in a branded LV box which surprised me. However, I was thrilled when it turned up, and couldn’t wait to use it.

The Review.

As I’ve had this bag for over a month now, I’m comfortable enough to write a review on how it has fared, and what I use it with.

Firstly, the bag is plenty big enough for what I usually carry around. I was really wavering between the MM and GM, just because I couldn’t visualise how big it was going to be (my memory of the size I saw in shop is fairly bad). In my bag I can fit:

  • A Macbook Pro 13inch laptop with charger
  • An A4 notebook
  • Wallet
  • Keys on a large fluffy keyring
  • iPod
  • iPhone
  • A full size deodrant
  • A bagged lunch
  • A scarf
  • A fiction book
  • A 750ml waterbottle
  • A micro umbrella.fullsizerender-1

(Actual image of my Neverfull with everything inside)

Before you ask, yes this makes the bag very heavy. However, it never makes it dreadfully uncomfortable, and I don’t necessarily use the bag for long periods of time when I pack this full. In this brief time I’ve had it, I’ve not noticed any fraying of the straps or any wear to the bag due to how heavy I weigh it down by. This could all change over the years.

Unlike my Speedy, I chose the Damier Ebene print. This choice comes with the treated dark leather straps which are very different from the Speedy’s vachetta leather, that will patina over the time. The Damier Ebene straps won’t change colour, unlike the Speedy. The straps started out initially very firm and stiff, however I am confident that they will soften over the years of use.

Like with the Speedy, the Damier Ebene is a special canvas mix that is waterproof and easily wipe clean, so it’s pretty durable.

The interior of the bag is a gorgeous dark red with black piping, and comes with an deep interior zippered pocket and detachable pochette, that is attached to the bag with a D-ring. The pochette is in the Damier Ebene print and fairly spacious, but can bulge if you stuff it with bulky or circler items. I’ve found that it holds its shape with a compact mirror, small lipstick and tissues. I’ve also used the pochette as a clutch for evenings out, and is plenty big for my cards/iPhone/keys. The pochette can be also used as an extra pocket if you were inclined to keep things in pouches.

The bag also comes with a clasp at the top to offer some security and keep the bag partially shut.

Drawbacks 

The only drawback I’ve properly noticed with this bag is the lack of zip across tfullsizerenderhe whole bag. As the tote is open, all your belongings are on show constantly, which can deter the more safety conscious of us. It’s also a risk for rain. What I’ve done to combat this is I usually layer a thick scarf across my belongings, which can be used to keep some of the rain and eagle-eyed snoops off your possessions. You can also invest in a zippered bag organiser from retailers if you’re so inclined.

Also, as the bag isn’t particularly structured, there can be a deal of sag at the bottom. I’ve had to invest in a base shaper for mine, as I didn’t like how it looked and worried how it could damage my bag. I’ll be doing a review on that when it arrives in the post.

Conclusion

The minor drawbacks are the only issues I’ve had with this bag so far. I think it’s a beautifully designed bag, and spacious enough for my over-packing but couldn’t appear too oversized or out of balance. I love the Damier Ebene print, and I’m happy I chose the red interior. With the base shaper, it’ll help it in shape, and I love using this bag on my heavier workload days, and keep my Speedy for the rainy shopping trips.

However, give me your opinions? If you’ve got a GM, let me know and we’ll have a big handbag discussion in the comments.