Jet Set | July Birchbox

29 July 2013

July's Birchbox couldn't have come at a better time and while the value of the box was one of the lowest of all the boxes I've received, it was definitely one of the best. As some may know, I will be 'jet set' myself in a couple months when I head off to America. So this box was ideal as it came with many handy travel size samples that can supposedly withstand holiday weather. The magazine covers topics from how to get a holiday glow and long-wearing makeup to holiday tips and diet superfoods.

Products In Box
S RMK - Creamy Foundation in 103
S VitaBella - Hand Cream
S theBalm Cosmetics - InStain Long Wearing Powder Staining Blush
S Dead Sea Spa Magik - Gentle Cleansing Facial Wash
S Blanc Cachemire - Creme De Jour Protectrice

Lifestyle Extra
S The Chia Co - Shot

I was very pleased to have received this large sample of RMK's Creamy Foundation in shade 103 as my face had become a little more tanned from the sunlight this summer. This is a sample size but a large sample size at 15g which is half the size of the full size foundation and comes in the cutest little pot that I can easily dab my Beauty Blender into. In terms of dewiness, I can't comment on as I have oily skin and we've just had a heatwave. One thing to mention though is that this has lasted much better than my No 7 Beautifully Matte foundation and that's made for oily skin! However at £35, I don't think I'll be purchasing the full size any time soon.

I collect sample sized hand creams to put into my handbag so this was a delight to receive. Not only that but it smelt really luxurious, almost like you had stepped into a skincare boutique. In terms of moisturisation, I don't think it performed better than other hand creams I've tried and its thick consistency meant that you needed more than average to moisturise both hands which is how I came to finishing this product so early. The full sized hand cream costs £17 and while it smells divine, I don't think I would pay that much for something I would have to re-apply every hour.

I was overly excited to try out this blush sample I received as I had previously seen YouTube beauty gurus and bloggers receive these in their boxes, especially US-residents. While the sample is very small, much like many powder products - a little goes a long way. I received this in the colour Swiss Dot which is the type of colour I would usually choose for a blush. While this is meant to be a staining blush, I have noticed that this fades throughout the day. Again, I feel like I've put this product through the test of time with this sweltering heat and that's only in the mid-twenties. I worry that if I bring this on holiday with me where it'll be hotter, it may not last long at all. That being said, it's lasted a lot longer than a lot of my blushes bar Benefit's Benetint.

I have yet to test this out but I have used Dead Sea Spa Magik before and found it to have good results. The sample tube is 25ml which is a good enough size for many applications so I will be adding this to my morning shower routine.

I haven't noticed anything magnificent yet from this daytime moisturiser but I rarely do with moisturisers. For someone with oily skin, I'm always hesitant to try new moisturisers in case they make me appear even more oily. One gripe with this though (and Birchbox as a whole) is that the box seems to offer many products that you can only get through Birchbox and while I understand the marketing tactic for this, I feel it cheats us (the customer) out of our money.

Believe it or not, I was most excited for the chia seeds. Literally a few days before receiving my box, I had tweeted about not being able to find chia seeds and the next thing I know, they're in my box! Chia seeds are the latest trendy superfood and is particularly popular over in America. You can buy them in the UK but only from health food shops such as Holland and Barrett and are really expensive. After watching MamaNatural's video about making your own homemade chia drink, I had been dying to try it for myself. Chia drinks are slightly gelatinous as the chia seeds form a coating of jelly once submerged in liquid. You can use any juice of your choice; it's delicious, easy to make and super fun to drink - not to mention bursting with healthy goodness. I'm actually contemplating buying some from the Birchbox website with my accumulated points.

RMK Creamy Foundation in 103 - This was a sample size product of 15g with the full size being twice the size at 30g and valued at £35 according to Birchbox. This RRP is correct, making the sample worth £17.50.

VitaBella Hand Cream - This was a sample size product of 8.5ml with the full size being 100ml and valued at £17 by Birchbox. This value is correct making the sample size worth £1.44.

theBalm Cosmetics InStain Long Wearing Powder Staining Blush - This was a sample size product at 0.5g with the full size being 5.5g. Birchbox values the full size at £21.50 but the average online price for this product was £15 making the sample worth £1.36.

Dead Sea Spa Magik Gentle Cleansing Facial Wash - This was a sample size product of 25ml with the full size being 150ml. The Birchbox RRP is £8.50 with the actual RRP being just slightly higher at £8.85. The Birchbox RRP is roughly correct and makes the sample worth £1.48.

Blanc Cachemire Creme De Jour Protectrice - This was a sample size of 15ml with the full size being 50ml. The Birchbox RRP of £54.75 is correct making the sample worth £16.49.

The Chia Co Shot - This was a sample size of one shot out of ten (10g/80g). The Birchbox RRP is £4.79, this is correct making the one shot worth 48p.

In total, the majority of the Birchbox RRPs were correct. All products were sample sizes with a good mixture of both beauty and skincare items. The Birchbox value of this box is £39.27 but is actually just under at £38.75.


Overall, I am very pleased with this box. All items I will use even if only to test. The chia seeds I would say were the best product out of them all and fitted well into my detox diet I was doing at the time. Again, I would like to see less basics such as moisturisers and see more of an interesting variety of products such as the seeds and blusher. I would also like to see more products that are widely available in the UK instead of being restricted to Birchbox-only shopping

My Muse Weekend [Manchester Etihad & World War Z Premier]

11 July 2013

June went off with a bang for me as the first of the month entailed an enormous Muse stadium gig at the Manchester Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City FC. While much smaller than the Lancashire Country Cricket Club gig back in 2010, the performance was much greater. I was lucky enough to get the barrier at this gig which meant I didn't strain any muscles trying to get a decent view.

While most people thought the support acts weren't appropriately chosen (Bastille and Dizzee Rascal), I was actually one of the few people excited to see their performances. I had previously wanted to see Bastille but narrowly missed out on tickets and have been a fan of Dizzee Rascal for quite some time. Out of the two though, I was surprised at just how electric the atmosphere was when Dizzee performed. The contrasting urban act in a stadium predominantly filled with alternative rock fans was a breath of fresh air and it sent the crowd wild, making Bastille's performance seem pretty tame.

When I say "June went off with a bang", I literally mean just that. The gig began with an enormous fireball explosion, right at the end of the runway - where I was. I of course collapsed, screamed and accidentally cancelled my video recording but if anyone has any footage of the end of the runway at the time of the explosion, please do share it with me as I feel that watching myself fall to the floor in terror would be quite humorous to watch. 

Some things to note include Charles the Robot, the Musos which is the currency used to collect rare band footage and of course, the lightbulb performance during Blackout which saw a huge lightbulb float around the stadium which then released a woman in white or an 'angel' as it were. I believe this to be the same woman who drank petrol from a fuel tank on the runway.

The next day, I swiftly hopped onto a National Express coach down to London for another Muse performance. This time, it was an exclusive performance for the World War Z premier in which only a set amount of free tickets were released and consequently sold out within minutes. I was lucky enough to bag myself a pair within three minutes and was also lucky enough to be lent a DSLR for the weekend. The 2nd Law's Isolated System features in the soundtrack for World War Z; a zombie-apocalyptic film starring Brad Pitt, Matthew Fox and the devilishly handsome, Gregory Fitoussi whom you may recognise as Henri Leclair from Mr Selfridge.

After blagging our way into the golden/inner circle, a DJ set from Edith Bowman and briefly talking to Kelly Wolstenholme (Chris' wife), came Mr Pitt's celebrity appearance. Sadly, I was too short and too far to get a decent photo of  him as he appeared in the tent towards the back of the grounds but to know I was yards from his lusciously long locks is sound enough knowledge for me. The performance lasted around 45 minutes which was really good as we were told the show would be 30 minutes.

Brad Pitt (NO CALENDAR, NO BIOGRAPHIES, NO PUBLICATIONS DEVOTED SOLEY TO MUSE) Brad Pitt attends the Muse performance at the 'World War Z' World Premiere at Horse Guards Parade on June 2, 2013 in London, England.

While I did spend some money on travel and food, and I did miss my last coach which meant I had to take the overnight coach - it was most definitely worth it. I have heard that Matt Bellamy stated that he wants to concentrate on bringing up Bingham so I doubt there will be any live shows for a while after this tour has been completed which is unfortunate but completely understandable.

I think it's important to embrace music, especially in live shows. Music provides us with a form of escapism and can be much more profound than you think. Music has the powerful ability to evoke dance and dancing releases endorphins that boosts your mood. Music therapy is often suggested as a practise to tackle depression and anxiety and has shown positive results in the past.

What's the best music performance you've ever experienced?

DIY Personalised Embroidery T-Shirt

1 July 2013

You may have noticed by now that I like to DIY my own versions of existing designs. While I understand why pricing is the way it is in the retail industry, I also feel as though this fast-fashion culture we've come accustomed to leads to a higher level of waste. Today's DIY is inspired by Maison Labiche's embroidered t-shirt which would set you back £60. The idea behind it is to wear something you love, close to your heart.

Step 1: Decide on your desired personalisation and prepare a couple font sketches on graph or lined paper with a pencil. I'm a huge fan of Audrey Hepburn, I love her style and her incredible humanitarianism. So, I have chosen to embroider her name onto the t-shirt. 

Step 2 (optional) : Outline your desired font in a black marker pen.

Step 3: If you're confident enough, very lightly sketch onto your t-shirt your desired motif with a Biro or an invisible pen. I put the paper underneath the t-shirt and used a DIY light box I had already made, to shine a light through and traced the motif on top. A great dupe for the Maison Labiche t-shirts are the 'Boyfriend Tees' by Primark and only cost £3.50.

Step 4 (optional): Tighten an embroidery hoop around the lightly sketched motif making sure the fabric is taught but not stretched.

Step 5: Thread a needle and start sewing short back stitches. Back stitching requires you to go back on the previous stitch to finish it. Finish each thread by triple-knotting the ends. Be sure to sew loosely to allow for stretch.


This is a fantastic way to spruce up old t-shirts that would've otherwise been thrown into a rubbish tip. Not only are you saving the planet from environmental damage, but you're developing new or existing skills and creating brand new garments to add to your collection. These would make great gifts and are easy to duplicate. I plan on making a couple more in different colourways. Check out Oxfam's online shop for some plain t-shirts to customise and make your own.

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