• Growing Herbs in a Flat Growing Herbs in a Flat
  • Royal & Langnickel Love Is... Patience Brush Set Royal & Langnickel Love Is... Patience Brush Set
  • Maybelline Bleached Neons Gradient Nails Maybelline Bleached Neons Gradient Nails
  • I am still not a shoe person I am still not a shoe person


Growing Herbs in a Flat

Bit of a random one today. A fact that you probably already know about me is that I frigging love to cook. It’s fun, it’s therapeutic, it’s delicious and of course it’s just good for you, both nutritionally and simply because not enough people know how to cook these days. My love for cooking comes hand in hand with a love of fresh herbs, but living in a fifth floor flat means I can’t exactly plant myself a lush and verdant herb garden. Luckily, growing herbs in a flat is pretty idiot proof.

Herbs1 Growing Herbs in a Flat

Herbs2 Growing Herbs in a Flat

Herbs3 Growing Herbs in a Flat

Generally speaking, I suck at looking after plants. I have sadly not inherited the green fingers that my mother and grandmother were blessed with, and have never been able to keep something alive longer than a month or so (with the exception of my beloved bonsai tree which always forgives me when I forget to water it for a fortnight and is now over a year old). My poor track record of looking after plants meant I put off growing my own herbs for a long time, but 90p packets of fresh herbs a couple of times a week were really starting to add up so I thought I might as well give it a go.

I’ve been growing my basil and thyme for a couple of months now, and the rosemary is relatively new addition. I have absolutely no patience whatsoever, so these are all potted herbs from supermarkets – ain’t nobody got time to wait for them to grow from seed. The basil and thyme were a couple of quid each from my local Waitrose, and the rosemary (with HUGE leaves) was a bargainous £1 from Asda. The adorable pots were something that the wifey picked up for me from Matalan.

Now, it’s more or less general knowledge that herbs can be grown indoors but this sentence is always suffixed with ‘on a windowsill’. My flat has floor-to-ceiling windows, therefore no windowsills. Luckily, my dining table (which, incidentally, is where I take all my blog photos) is right next to one of these windows. It’s south-facing, so gets plenty of good light all day which is absolutely essential to keep herbs (or any plants) happy. There’s the added bonus that they make a cute centrepiece for the table, too. It’s entirely possible to grow herbs somewhere other than on a windowsill, as long as they’re near a window and get lots and lots of light. I make sure to turn my pots 180 degrees every morning to make sure that both sides are getting enough sun.

Once you’ve got the light sorted, the only other thing you really need to worry about is water. Plain old water is fine, they really don’t need special plant food and all that jazz, but it’s very very easy to over-water which they do not take kindly to. I’ve not been keeping a count, but I’d estimate that my herbs get about a shotglass worth of water twice a week. For best results, you should only water thyme and rosemary when the top of the soil is dry to the touch, and even then just give them a splash. Little and often – you don’t want to leave it too long then over saturate them. Basil leaves should be visibly wilting before you water the plant, again only a splash each time. It’s quite fascinating actually, seeing a basil plant go from looking sad and limp to full and perky within a few hours of having a drink!

To harvest, each one varies a little. With rosemary, you can just snap whole stems off and strip the leaves from them. Basil should be pinched off just above the point where two twin stems are sprouting – this produces so much growth that I struggle making enough pasta sauces to keep up with it! My thyme plant has very thin stems and is super tangly, so I just snip a chunk out with scissors when I need some. If your plants are growing much faster than you can use them, you can always harvest a bunch and leave it to air dry. Dried herbs keep pretty much forever in a sealed container, although they’ll become less potent over time. You can also dry herbs in the microwave, spread out on a piece of kitchen roll – and this makes your home smell insanely good.

If you like to cook and don’t already grow your own, I can’t recommend it enough. While dried herbs have their place, there’s just no substitute for fresh ones and so far – touch wood – I’m finding them really easy to cultivate despite my touch of death. I’m definitely keen to expand my little tabletop herb garden with others; coriander for sure, maybe oregano and I might even go crazy and buy a chili plant.

Do you have your own herbs that you keep indoors? What do you grow? Any tips for this novice?

Statement Eyeliner with Lime Crime

Right now, I’m aaaall about the colourful makeup. Neutrals can do one, this summer I’m fully into wearing my makeup LOUD. One of my favourite acquisitions this year is definitely these Lime Crime Liquid Eyeliners.

LimeCrime1 Statement Eyeliner with Lime Crime

LimeCrime2 Statement Eyeliner with Lime Crime

LimeCrime3 Statement Eyeliner with Lime Crime

I'm more than aware that Lime Crime have had some bad press in the past for repackaging trade pigments and for the owner generally being a big ol' bag of dicks, but I'm not gonna lie, I can't argue with these colours. Their names are Lazuli and Blue Milk, and I've been loving pairing them together for some awesome statement eyeliner. I've moaned before about the fact that the outer corner of my eyes are hooded so I really struggle with finding the correct angle for winged eyeliner, so my best shot at achieving a statement eyeliner look is with colour. These two are just perfect for the job.

The brush is neither particularly long or short, neither overly flexible or stiff - it's just right, Goldilocks stylee. It's very quick and easy to apply even lines to both eyes, and the formula is seriously hardcore. It stays absolutely stock still once it's dried, and even the 30-plus degree heat we've had recently hasn't come close to disturbing this eyeliner even after it's successfully melted off the rest of my makeup.

It was something of a happy accident when I discovered that these eyeliners blend together pretty well. I was thinking of applying Blue Milk along the lashline then a line of Lazuli above it, and tried it out on my hand to see how it would look. Because both colours were still wet, they started to bleed into one another which put my double-liner idea right out of the window. Instead, I applied Blue Milk to the inner half of the lashline and Lazuli to the outer half, overlapping just slightly in the middle. While both colours were still wet, I applied just a touch more of each colour over each other where they met to help the gradient along and BAM, accidental blue statement liner complete.

I've been wearing this look pretty frequently, with just a touch of matte brown eyeshadow through the crease. No bright eyeshadow needed, the eyeliner speaks for itself and has attracted quite a lot of compliments, too, including the woman who served me lunch in Leon a couple of weeks ago and a stranger on the tube. People don’t talk to other people on the tube. They just don’t. Which means this must have been pretty damn compelling!

Lime Crime liquid eyeliner comes in 9 different colours – black, white, gold, silver, orange, violet, chartreuse and of course the two blues. They are all BRIGHT. Having fallen so hard for these, I’m dying to complete the set. They cost a really reasonable £9 and you can find them in the UK at Love Makeup, Cocktail Cosmetics and CutECOsmetics. Annoyingly, each of those three stores seem to stock different shades so you may end up having to buy from various places but trust me, it’ll be worth it. These are AWESOME.

Royal & Langnickel Love Is… Patience Brush Set

One of my very favourite things that I picked up from IMATS this year is this beautiful little brush set from Royal & Langnickel, the Love Is… Patience Brush Set.

Patience1 Royal & Langnickel Love Is... Patience Brush Set

Patience2 Royal & Langnickel Love Is... Patience Brush Set

Patience3 Royal & Langnickel Love Is... Patience Brush Set
L-R: Large Power, Stippler, Foundation, Contour, Large Concealer

Patience4 Royal & Langnickel Love Is... Patience Brush Set
L-R: Angle Shader, Small Shader, Crease, Line & Smudge, Mini Flat Smudger, Smudge, Angle Brow

You know, I’ve only just noticed while resizing the photos for this post; the box says 13 Pc brush set but there’s only 12, and 12 listed on the back of the box. I can only assume they’re counting the pretty presentation box as a ‘piece’? Either way, at the bargain price I paid for this (£25), I’m certainly not complaining at a dozen beautiful synthetic brushes.

Love Is… Patience is just one part of the ‘Love Is’ range from Royal & Langnickel. Each set is named after a different virtue, with a different pastel colour scheme. It took me a while to choose, but in the end I settled on Patience because I just couldn’t walk away from the baby blue handles and metallic lavender ferrules. Luckily the colour of the bristles holds nicely and comes up like new with each wash.

There are a few brushes that I’m getting the most use out of so far. The Contour brush, for its most obvious use – it’s neither too floppy or too densely packed so it picks up and deposits just the right amount of your chosen contour colour and I’ve found it works equally well with both powder and cream products. I’ve been using the Crease brush a lot clean, with no product on it, to blend out the edges of colours or create a more seamless fade between two or more without adding any more eyeshadow. The Mini Flat Smudger is a bit bigger than the brushes I usually use for blending smoky eyeliner, but after getting used to it I’ve decided it works really well and I might actually prefer it as it covers more surface area in one go. The Smudge brush is great for adding a little eyeshadow to the lower lashline without entering panda eye territory.

While I have my favourites, the whole set is just gorgeous and I have to say, it’s really awesome to find a decent brush set which doesn’t have a bloody brow/lash comb in it. I must have about half a dozen of those little buggers because they seem to come in every brush set and seriously, who needs that many?!

Onto the bad news; I have no idea where you can get this from in the UK. They’re not available on Royal & Langnickel’s UK site, and Amazon (who stock their [R]evolution brushes that I’ve reviewed before) are coming up short, too. I’ve asked the brand on Twitter but haven’t received any response… so the UK availability of the Love Is range remains a mystery. Hopefully they’ll be available here soon, I don’t even know how new (or not) they are. Patience is a virtue, after all.

Ok, sorry, that was REALLY bad.

Maybelline Bleached Neons Gradient Nails

On my recent mission to hunt down the full collection of Maybelline Acid Wash nail polishes, I also picked up two colours from the Maybelline Bleached Neons collection. Slapped ‘em together in a quick gradient manicure, and bam, instant summer nail art.

BleachedNeons1 Maybelline Bleached Neons Gradient Nails

BleachedNeons2 Maybelline Bleached Neons Gradient Nails

The two I picked up were Coral Heat (the coral.. duh) and Sun Flare (the lighter one). I did like the look of the two other colours – Tropink and Chic Chartreuse – but I’m pretty convinced they’re dupe-able with colours I already have from the permanent Maybelline Colour Show line. Having since seen plenty of swatches, I think I do actually need Chic Chartreuse now.. but that will potentially be another post on another day. I hope.

There are a few things that are really cool about the Maybelline Bleached Neons. ‘Traditional’ neons are typically quite the pain in the arse, with streaky formulas that never become fully opaque. Those in the nail community quickly worked out that applying a white base coat underneath neons would improve the colour and negate the need for fifty million coats and, with certain shades, this would add a cool washed-out look. The Bleached Neons achieve this look without the need for a white base, but don’t tip the scales too far towards the chalky side of things. I prefer this whitewashed finish to the full on glare of highlighter-style neons, and the fact that they apply completely opaque within two coats is just a bonus.

I applied two coats of Sun Flare, and sponged two coats of Coral Heat onto the tips for a quick and easy spot of summer nail art. As is often the case with the simplest nail art, this caught attention and garnered quite a few compliments while I wore it but sadly, it didn’t last particularly long, starting to chip off in unforgivably big chunks by day 3. If you want to pick up any of the Bleached Neons – which you should, because they are really cool, be prepared for your manicure to be short lived.

Maybelline Bleached Neons are available in Boots for £3.99 each; and Maybelline is currently 3 for 2 at the moment so go crazy!

I am still not a shoe person

A few months back, I confessed that I am not a shoe person. Even if I’ve almost doubled my paltry collection of footwear since then, I can safely say that I am still not a shoe person, right? RIGHT?

Shoes1 I am still not a shoe person
Black Chain Studded Ankle Boots – New Look, £34.99

Shoes2 I am still not a shoe person
Black Studded Toe Ankle Boots – Cloggs, £39.99

Shoes3 I am still not a shoe person
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Red Hi Tops – JD Sports, £48.99

I’ve actually had the New Look boots for about 9 months, but I completely forgot about them. I bought them online, had them delivered to work and popped them under my desk when they arrived. It wasn’t until we had a shift around in the office a while back and I moved to a different desk that I found them again – it was like the feeling of finding a forgotten fiver in your purse, but amplified by fifty. I reserve these for days that I won’t be doing much walking; while the heel isn’t any higher than I normally wear, something about the angle of them makes them more uncomfortable than I’d like. The gold chains around the heel are pretty, but hearing them clink around as you walk is super annoying. This particular pair are still showing up on the New Look website, but currently out of stock. I have a feeling they won’t be coming back, which sucks.

The Cloggs boots* were a bit of a revelation – I didn’t even know that Cloggs had their own brand! I love Chelsea boots, and these have studs on, which is an automatic win. I’ve not had boots with studs on the toes before, all my other pairs having had them on the back of the ankle. These feel sturdy and well made, and are just as comfortable to walk all day in as my beloved Primark ones (you know, the ones of which I’ve now purchased a grand total of 7 pairs via eBay? Yeah. Those). There’s no zip either, they just slip on which I love as when I sit cross-legged at my desk with zipped boots, I nearly always snag my tights on the zip.. But yes, these are great and I’ll definitely be looking at some more of Cloggs’ own shoes now. This pair are currently only £15 on the website, so get in there!

You’ve probably noticed that all my shoes are black (LIKE MY SOUL). Not any more – when JD Sports asked if they could send me a pair of Converse, this pillarbox red pair* screamed at me and I have quickly fallen in love with them. I honestly forgot how much better the quality of proper All Stars is by comparison to the million knock offs out there. Everyone needs a pair (or five) of All Stars and JD Sports have great selection to choose from (I’m definitely eyeing up this skull print pair right now). I love wearing this red pair with a black and white polkadot dress.

Even if my collection is growing, I will maintain the belief that I am not a shoe person until the day I buy a pair of stilettos. WHICH WILL NEVER HAPPEN.

Just a Quickie: Burt’s Bees Coconut & Pear Lip Balm

Long-time readers will know that Burt’s Bees make my absolute holy grail lip balm. I could release a full-length album with all the praises I’ve sung for these little tubes – just a few examples here, here and here. The newest member of the family is this Burt’s Bees Coconut & Pear Lip Balm*.

BurtsBees Just a Quickie: Burts Bees Coconut & Pear Lip Balm

Burt’s Bees Coconut & Pear Lip Balm is exactly what it sounds like – a nourishing, hydrating beeswax based lip balm enriched with coconut oil, pear extract and shea butter. These elements combine to create a gorgeous tropical scent and flavour that may well be one of the best lip balm creations Burt’s Bees have ever come up with.

I have Burt’s Bees Lip Balms all over the place, seriously. On my bedside table, on the coffee table, in all my bags and coat pockets, in my desk drawers at work, on my dressing table, you name it. This new Coconut & Pear version comes highly recommended, along with my other favourites Blueberry & Dark Chocolate, Honey, and my holy grail Pomegranate.

Burt’s Bees Lip Balms retail for £3.69 and you can buy them online. If you get lucky, you might find them in store at Waitose, John Lewis and some larger Boots stores.