The highs of 2014 & wishes for 2015

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Where did 2014 go? I swear one moment I was eye deep in dissertation research and next thing I know I’m half way through my next course and haven’t blogged for nearly three months! The shame! This post is just going to be a round up of some of my 2014 highlights, including those I haven’t blogged about and my Tone It Up #LoveYourBody aims. I use to use TIU when I was at uni to get some variety into my fitness routines but as will everything else since moving home and starting my PGCE, it’s slipped down the priority ladder… but 2015 will hopefully settle back into the old uni me!

A few highlights from 2014 (in no particular order):
* Running 10k
* Researching and writing my dissertation … and enjoying it!
* Graduating from Liverpool Hope with a 1st class honours
* Making and keeping some life long friends from Hope and Shotton
* Liverpool jaunts to catch up with said uni friends
* Surviving (and enjoying) my first term and placement on my teaching course
* Surprising my cousin with the rest of the family by turning up for an 80s themed party for her in Ireland
* Completing my Guiding holiday license after a little confusion
* Queen’s Guide adventure in London doing the monopoly board
* Spending quality time with my family and friends

And here’s my #LoveYourBody aims which I hope to complete by Valentine’s Day!

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I’m going to apologise now for the potential dodgy editing of this post – I’m typing it from my mini and I’m not sure how it will turn out… but at least I’ve broken my unintentional silence!

I hope you have all had a fantastic 2014 and that 2015 is as kind or better to you!

What’s occurring…

Just a quick check in this week, it’s been a bit of a mad one but I intend to keep my promise!

  • The main focus of my week has been school. On Monday I start my preparation week for my first placement and I also teach my first solo history lesson there! I’m a little bit nervous about it (naturally, I’m teaching about 25 year 7s about the Romans, a topic I haven’t studied since I was in year 7!) but my mentor has been very supportive and I’m rather chuffed with my lesson plan and resources.
  • I’ve been battling a snotty nose this week. I know, not the glam update you want to read on a Sunday evening/Monday morning/whenever you are reading this, but tough, I’m hating it. Especially because I can’t do a delicate, ladylike nose-blow. Instead I get nicknamed ‘Fog on the Tyne’ by my loving family. The plus side is that I’m using cute 101 dalmatian cotton hankies that I’ve had since primary school (they are washable, before you further judge me) to avoid tooting away in school.
  • I’ve had a wonderful, rather relaxing weekend. Well, Friday night and Saturday anyway, today’s been spent planning and I’m going to jump in the bath now. I went to Durham for my friend’s 21st birthday and shared a hotel room with another friend to avoid spoiling our time there (ie. not having to worry about catching the last train home). It was a great treat, although I returned to the room not long after 1am as I was shattered from work (note to self, try to nap before a night out!). We indulged in the breakfast buffet (I had an omelette as well as fruit and yogurt etc), then we shopped for a bit (Durham has some fantastic boutique shops) and returned home. Birthday girl also had a great time.
  • I got my gels redone. I’ve started to treat myself to a pamper session at the beauticians every three weeks by getting my fingernails done. I hate having chipped nails as I think it doesn’t look as professional as bare nails and my nails were constantly splitting. Already (this is my second set of gels) I can see the improvement in my nails. They had grown a great deal (I have them filed back down) and they looked healthier between the gels going off and on again. Plus I feel really girly glancing down at my beautiful, coral nails!

That is literally the highlights of my week. To sum it up – school is going well, I’m snotty but I have colourful, healthy nails, a pretty new scarf and some winter tea to try. It’s the little things…

A successful Saturday!

A successful Saturday!

I’m back I promise!

My sincerest apologies readers! I knew it had been a while since I last blogged but I honestly did not think it had been nearly two months! That is simply not acceptable and I am going to make a firm effort to post at least once a week. The reason behind my absence is my teaching course. I’m about six weeks into it now and I’ve finally settled into a form of routine. We all know I’m all about routine which is why, unfortunately, this blog has suffered from my neglect. But as I’ve said, no more! I want this blog to reflect my current thoughts and interests, so expect more reviews on beauty products (I have a load to share) and historical and teaching interests.

Just a quick run through on everything that’s happened since I last blogged:

  • I started my teaching course in Peterlee so my confidence in driving has greatly improved, I’ve made lots of new friends and I’m thoroughly enjoying being a trainee magpie (ideas not physical stealing of course)
  • I turned 22! And yes I did spend the majority of the day singing that Taylor Swift song. I also spent the morning on a WWI walk around a local cemetery, despite having been horrendously ill the whole weekend with a bug (I’d been sent home from school I was that ill).
  • As you might have guessed from how I spent my birthday, I’ve taken full advantage of being home by signing up for lots of different historical talks. It’s amazing once you start looking how many free talks there are in the area! So far I’ve been to a variety of talks from the Tudors to WWI. I’ve got quite a few lined up over the next month or so, and I’ll probably mention them in future posts.
  • My social life has picked up thanks to my course. The fact that I’m home also helps as I’m catching up with all my school friends as well.
  • I’ve also got a couple of trips lined up over the remainder of the year (isn’t that a scary thought – 2014 has flown by!). The first of which is in a couple of weeks to visit my uni friends in Liverpool for a mini girlie reunion.
Miss Nichol-WIlson - check out my teacher face!

Miss Nichol-Wilson – check out my teacher face!

Inside my make-up drawer: Benefit “That Gal” brightening face primer

**Disclaimer – I’ve purchased these products for myself. All opinions are my own and 100% bluntly honest**

Benefit "That Gal" Benefit "That Gal"

Benefit “That Gal” brightening face primer 11ml/£22.50

Benefit says: ‘Our silky pink primer takes your complexion from dull to darling! Simply blend it on for the look of brighter, smoother skin. Contains light-reflecting pigments to help brighten all skin tones and raspberry & camomile to soothe skin.’

I honestly think this product solidified my love of Benefit. It’s one of my favourite primers and I was gutted when it ran out a couple of weeks ago. I wore it just about every day from purchasing it in February until it eventually ran out in July. That’s not a bad life for 11ml! My skin has been acting up horrendously recently, but this product covered any bumps or spots naturally and it really did soothe my angry skin.

I applied it all over my face using a flat foundation brush from a small dollop on the back of my hand. It’s a twist application to get the primer and I found I only need a couple of twists to get enough to provide a light, even coverage. It went on easily (novice here remember) and it minimised any natural shine or blemishes with a soft, dainty glow. Exactly the look I prefer! I rarely wore blusher with this product unless I was going out in the evening to play up the healthy glow. My foundation powder applied evenly on top of the primer and I felt like it provided a substantial coverage throughout the day at work or at uni.

Another thing I loved about this product was the smell. It’s delightful, like strawberries and cream! It always put a smile on my face in the morning and made me feel ready to face any challenges that might appear.

If you’re looking for a spring/summer primer or one to add a soft feminine finish to your make-up, then I would highly recommend this product. I know it’s not the cheapest primer option, but the price is justified (at least to me) by the long-levity of the product. I would definitely consider buying this again next spring/summer (or once my current tube of POREfessional (see this review) runs out).

  • Coverage: 5/5
  • Application life: 5/5
  • Value for money: 5/5
  • Overall: 5/5

Have you used this primer? Comment below with your thoughts or if you have any other primers that you would recommend!

Maths, mud, graduation, Rubgy Sevens and everything in between!

Oh my days has it really been that long since I last blogged?! Where has the time gone?! I know I’ve been rather silent in my blogging lately but I’ve barely had a day to myself! I’m going to try to keep this post rather short but seeing as it’s been a while, I may ramble a tad. But then if you’re a regular reader you’ll already know to expect that!

  • First off I have passed both my skills tests and all going well I start my course on the 1st September! I am so excited and relieved that everything is finally pulling together nicely. I passed my first skills test (literacy) the day after my uni results were published and then had the maths test the following week. Both were booked for 8am so I had no time in the morning to worry myself over the tests. Best of luck to everyone else who is either sitting these tests or waiting for exam results! My only honest advice is be realistically positive about it and that things happen for a reason. I honestly believe that I am were I am through a combination of determination, perseverance and fate.
  • I completed the Pretty Muddy 5k event in Gosforth Park with my cousins three days before graduation. I was warned by my mum that I was not allowed to get any visible bruises, in other words ‘don’t spoil the graduation photos with bruises’. I came back incredibly muddy (the bath as soon as I got in the house was heaven) but with no injuries, and the same went for my cousins. We sure did kick cancer’s ass that day.
  • Graduation was fantastic. The sun was shining and everyone had a marvellous day. I stayed at my friend’s house and we had a right laugh celebrating all our hard work. Unfortunately my dad couldn’t be with me that day, but I’m hoping that next year, all going well, he’ll be with me in person, as well as my mum and stepdad who attended with me this year. Bless ’em they travelled to Liverpool and back in one day because of the dogs. It was a long day for me and an even longer one for them! Made worse by a two-hour delay on the M6. All that aside, we had a fantastic day, one that I hope to never forget!
  • Only a couple of days after graduation and I was travelling up to Edinburgh with one of my best friends to attended the Commonwealth Rugby Sevens Finals. We stayed in a lovely hotel in Edinburgh and commuted to Glasgow to save money. We both had a cracking time and I think I’ve found my sporting buddy! The atmosphere was amazing, both teams got cheered on regardless (although the Scotland v England match was tense) and it was one of the greatest evenings yet. I’ve always preferred rugby over most sports and I was so pleased to have gotten tickets, especially once we got in the arena and saw how brilliant the view was from our seats. Right at the top, in between the try posts. We had to race through Glasgow city to catch the last train back to Edinburgh (otherwise we had to buy new tickets) but we  made it and had our evening meal at 1.30am! Chips and curry sauce has never felt so satisfying. I’m currently saving up to visit my aunt in Australia in time for the Commonwealth games over there.

So that’s the big bulk of my summer ‘holidays’ so far. I only get two days off a week so most of the time is spent catching up on paperwork and family. I’m enjoying my summer stint a lot and I can’t wait to attend summer school in two weeks time as a final preparation before my course properly begins. I hope to at least try to post every couple of weeks with updates etc.

The obligatory motor board toss

What’s occurring

It may only be Thursday but this week has been brilliant! If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter then you’ll already know why I can’t stop grinning. Here’s one of the reasons:

 

Woop!

I did it! All my worrying about dropping down a grade was apparently unnecessary! If you regularly read this blog then you were probably sick to death of me harping on about missing out on a first if my dissertation and exams went to pot. I would still have been delighted with a 2.1, it is a fantastic grade, but I finished second year on a first and the majority of my assessments were coming back within the first bracket as well. I really wanted my overall grade to truly represent all the hard work I’ve consistently put in over the three years. I think part of that comes from slacking off a bit during year 12 (As level), which resulted in a mixed bag of grades that I loathe putting down on job applications because frankly I slipped up academically for one year and I dislike the way it looks on paper. Call me all kinds, but that year taught me some valuable lessons which I have grafted to correct. And it’s worked!

So yeah, long story short, I shall be graduating in a few weeks with a First Class Honours in History with Theology! I hope everyone else is equally as happy with their results.

My other bit of excellent news is that I am only one step away from completing all my requirements to begin my teaching course in September. Admittedly its the most daunting one as well – the dreaded numeracy skills test! I passed my literacy skills test on Wednesday, the day after I got my uni results. I was really nervous for the test because it is the luck of the draw for which spellings and tasks you get. I’d highly recommend doing the government practice tests online before you sit the test because it is slightly different to some of the apps and books (but still use them because you can’t revise too much for these tests!).

This week I became ‘Tawny Owl’. That’s right, I’ve joined the Brownie unit I assisted on the Starquest trip in May and that’s my name within the unit. I’m looking forward to this new challenge, I’ve never worked with this age group before and it’s another chapter in my Girl Guiding experience. Straight after Brownies I now assist with a Guide unit which I have been loosely connected with since I became a Ranger. I’m looking forward to continuing with my Guiding commitments now that I’m home.

My final bit of news is that I start work next week. I’m back in Tourist Information and I know it’s going to be an excellent eight weeks!

Inside my make-up drawer: Benefit How To Look The Best At Everything in Light

Inside my make-up drawer

**Disclaimer – I’ve purchased these products for myself. All opinions are my own and 100% bluntly honest**

I know I’ve promised to continue with my product reviews for a couple of months and I’ve finally found the time to get around to it! I’ve fully moved back home and the unpacking is nearly all complete. The past fortnight has been pretty busy as I’ve had to integrate two bedrooms into one, pack for and attend the Isle of Wight Festival (amazing!) and completed another week of primary school placement. The next few weeks before I start my summer job are going to be spent revising for and sitting my skills tests, catching up with friends and family, and I fully intend to blog more frequently!

Benefit How to Look the Best at Everything

Benefit How To Look The Best At Everything in Light £25.50 – Flawless Complexion Makeup Kit

Benefit says: ‘We wrote the book on complexion perfection! Our custom perfectors give you a luminous complexion by blending away imperfections and minimising the appearance of pores. You’ll be the first to finish flawless.’

I bought this set back in January and I loved it immediately. At the time I wanted to try Benefit’s Boi-ing, which is £17.50 on its own, and I was intrigued by their primer. This kit seemed like the ideal buy as it contained two shades of Boi-ing, a primer, and both liquid and powder foundations, for an additional £7 instead of one concealer. It’s a handy size for travel and comes with a mirror in the lid, hidden behind the ‘Tips and Tricks’ information. For a make-up novice like myself, this was incredibly useful as I got use to the products. The packaging is really cute – the picture above shows the front of the box containing the products and the back of the packaging for the box. It might seem a tad excessive and wasteful but it stops them being sampled in store and looks adorable. I’m not going to lie, the fact that it looked like a book appealed to my bookworm nature and it isn’t too big for overnight trips etc as you don’t to lug around other products. I’m going to do a mini review for each of the products which feature in the kit and link each one to its full size version on the Benefit website.

Benefit How to Look the Best at Everything

Benefit How to Look the Best at Everything

The POREfessional PRO balm (Primer) – This retails at £24.50 in full size (22ml). The mini size featured in this kit is 7.5ml. I imagine you would still get a substantial amount of use out of this size given how little product you need to get full coverage. The website claims its translucent, but when you squeeze it out onto your fingertips or back of the hand to apply, it looks like tinted moisturiser. As it’s a small tube, I found it difficult to gauge the correct amount needed for full coverage. I did like this product and it did minimise the appearance of pores in my face. I would either wear this on its own if my skin was behaving itself, or underneath one of the foundations.

  • Coverage: 4/5
  • Application life: 4/5
  • Ease of application: 3/5

Hello Flawless Oxygen WOW! Ivory “I’m pure 4 sure” (liquid foundation) – The 30ml bottle retails at £26.50. The mini size is 7ml and like the POREfessional it would last long enough to justify the set as you don’t need a great deal to get decent coverage. It matches my pale skin tone nicely and the pump applicator makes it easier to get the right amount each time. I haven’t used this as much as other products in the kit, as I have been using my MAC foundation or the foundation powder in the set. However, this product is lovely with a primer underneath. Without the primer my skin felt dry, even if I moisturised etc beforehand. As I said, the coverage was good and it seemed to last all day.

  • Coverage: 5/5
  • Application life: 4/5
  • Ease of application: 5/5

Boi-ing 01 and 02 (concealer) – By far the best thing in the kit. They are half the size of the individual products. I have used 01 fairly regularly and I’ve barely made a dent in pot. 01 is light and 02 is light/medium. I did try using them together as described in the ‘Tips and Tricks’ but I didn’t feel the need to wear it like that all the time, only if I was starting to look haggled from stress (funnily enough it was used fairly often from the end of March through to the middle of May). I loved this concealer. Benefit describes it as ‘industrial-strength’ and at first I was a bit hesitant with it, as I had several bad experiences with Erase Paste back in high school. This product, however, is amazing. I use an eyeshadow brush to apply it (I try to avoid using my fingers) and it covers/blends beautifully. It’s subtle and does the job. I always recommend this product to my friends as it is worth the price, it will last ages! I will definitely repurchase Boi-ing 01.

  • Coverage: 5/5
  • Application life: 5/5
  • Ease of application: 5/5

“Hello Flawless!”Ivory “I love me” (foundation powder) – This is my second favourite product in the kit. It comes with a short brush which I think I used twice at most. Instead I use my own powder brush, which is slightly narrower and has a longer handle, as I find it easier to get an even coverage with it. As with the liquid foundation, I prefer to use a primer first and then apply the powder, purely because it then lasts all day. I’ve used it just about every day since I bought it and decided to buy the full-sized product (7g, £25.50) to replace the 4g product in the kit which I have nearly finished. The powder blends nicely into my skin and does not develop an orange tinge or make-up line, as some products can. I know part of that is down to application, but still it’s a positive thing to note.

  • Coverage: 5/5
  • Application life: 5/5
  • Ease of application: 5/5

So the overall verdict? It’s an excellent product for people who are either new to make-up or new to Benefit. It’s particularly useful if you travel as it is a handy size to pack (although getting it fit into your make-up bag is practically impossible) and contains the main essentials for daily wear. However, I did not like wearing all the products together. It might simply be that as I have never worn a great deal of make-up, particularly after one disastrous incident in high school of being plastered in make-up by a friend, that I’m super conscious of heavy make-up. That was how I felt when I wore the primer, liquid foundation, combined the concealers and sealed it with the powder. Regardless, I would still highly recommend this product as it has made me realise that I prefer powder foundations with a light primer underneath, or simply just the primer, as my skin fortunately does not need a great deal of covering. As I mentioned the concealer is the best product in the kit, although I only really used it for blemishes rather than under my eyes. It’s given me confidence in applying and wearing complexion make-up and whilst I was initially hesitant at the price, it was definitely worth the money. I know that I could have purchased a primer, concealer and foundation for under £25.50, but given the quality of the products and their application life, I’d say it was money well spent.

  • Practicality: 4/5
  • Value for money: 5/5
  • Overall: 5/5