I can’t even…

On Monday morning, one of my friends died of cancer. I spent the day crying and wondering what kind of a messed up universe allows people in their mid-twenties to die.

Then Monday night happened.

It’s been a couple of days now since I watched the news coming in on Monday night. I was about ready for bed when reports of an explosion at Manchester Arena at an Ariana Grande concert were suddenly coming up in the news. Manchester is about an hour’s drive, and it’s the main concert venue for the north of England. I’ve been there to concerts many times for my bands bucket list, as it’s almost always the second tour date (beside London) in England.

I slept fitfully through the night. When I awoke on Tuesday, my heart was in my throat. I was scouring the news reports and praying that the people I knew who had gone to the concert were going to be okay.

As the week has rolled on, more deaths have been confirmed. We’re now up to 22. I knew three of those people.

My heart breaks for all the children who have been hurt, the parents whose children haven’t come home, all the parents whose children are in hospital, who don’t know yet if their children are going to make it, and for all the children whose parents have died, who are going home to an empty house. I am devastated, for all the people who can’t find their loved ones, for all the friends and aunts and uncles lost and left behind.

I have my final exam for university tomorrow. It seems so ridiculous, to be even trying to prepare for something as normal as a test when this has happened.

I can’t even. Anything.

Manchester ribbon

Review: Chanel Nail Varnish in Ballerina

So, I spent all week stressing about not having enough money, then I decided to make myself feel better… by spending money. So now I’m the owner of a bottle of Chanel Longwear Nail Colour in shade 167 Ballerina. I wanted some China Glaze but I couldn’t find any in TK Maxx so I went to the Chanel counter at John Lewis and bought this instead. I have never had high-end nail polish before, but I bought it because I read this article where they said it’s one of the best (along with China Glaze, Essie and Opi) for not chipping. I’ve had the same nail varnish for about 2 years as I liked the color, but it chipped SO BAD that it looked like it had been on a week after a day, which is why I thought I’d go for the best this time.

This is not only my first high-end nail varnish, it’s also my first Chanel product, and the very first time I’d ever been to the Chanel counter.

The Chanel counter assistant swatched Ballerina for me on a piece of clear plastic sticky tape on the back of my hand, alongside Organdi, because I couldn’t decide between the two colors from looking at the bottles. Organdi is a neutral nude in a generally flattering shade, whereas Ballerina looked almost white when swatched. I bought it and they wrapped it in a piece of paper scented with Chanel No. 5 then put it in a bag that was fastened with a piece of ribbon that says Chanel along it. Two days later the perfume is still making me smile (I love Chanel No. 5; if there was a room spray I’d totally get it, but the perfume never mixes well with my skin, and it produces a weird scent, so I can’t wear it despite how much I love the smell in general).

As soon as I got home I put it on my fingers and it took AGES to dry because I kept moving and smudging it. Also, I’d been doing the layers too thinly (because my old nail varnish was a one-and-done kinda nail varnish). Ballerina is really sheer and needs 2-3 thick layers, so I ended up with 5 thin layers on one hand and 4 medium ones on the other, and I still managed to smudge it again on one finger!! It was only a little smudge so I decided to do nothing about it.

It came out a really pale pink and I love the color.

Two days after I put it on (and bear in mind I’ve done SO much housework and cleaning and reorganizing which is usually certain death for nail varnish) it’s still got no chips at all and it’s still super shiny!

Chanel longwear nail colour 167 Ballerina review
You can’t tell that this is 2 days later!!

Conclusion: This is the best nail varnish I ever got! Five out of five for longevity! Usually when things say “longwear” it’s code for “sub-standard and never comes off” but in this case, it really, truly does what it’s supposed to! I’m thinking about getting another one when I next get paid, in a darker color. Obviously I can’t say that it’s the best high end nail varnish because it’s the only one I’ve tried, but I still completely love it and think it was worth £20 just for the fact I feel more confident wearing nail varnish now that I can touch things without chipping it! I’m definitely going to get some China Glaze as soon as I can find it so I can do a comparison review.

Reasons not to start a blog

I’m going full-on sweary opinionated bitch for this post, because you know I like to tell it like it is.

I just want to throw my hands up in the air and give up sometimes, because every month the Internet gets filled up with more crap.  To be honest, I have stopped reading other people’s blogs for the most part, not because I don’t want to (I really, really love some blogs and feel sad that I’m missing their posts), but because I don’t have time due to my master’s degree (I’m hoping I’ll have SO MUCH time when we move to Asia), and there’s no way to bring them all together in one place (I used to use Feedly, but it kept breaking down and not notifying me of new posts) and keep track of them all.  There’s so many shit blogs out there now, I can’t even look at WordPress Reader, and I’ve made my thoughts clear about Bloglovin’.

This situation is such a fucking joke it’s untrue.  There’s just so many people who think they’re going to get noticed simply by writing a half-assed blog post, they’re drowning out all the good stuff.

So, if you’re thinking about starting a blog, I can save you a BOATLOAD of time and effort.  Here’s a bunch of reasons not to start a blog:

  1. To make money. I’ve been blogging for 2 years now, and I maybe make $200 a month in a good month. It’s hard work, and I can’t put as much time into it as I would like this year, because I’m doing a master’s degree and writing erotica as well. For 18 months I put about 30-60 hours of work per week into coming up with new content, making and editing videos for this site, choosing things to try, researching all the science, writing and re-writing posts, and taking photos, and if I had been able to do that for the last 6 months, I’d maybe be making $250-300 per month. After 2 years. I generally don’t accept product placement or free products (there has been one exception to date, and I got the ebooks free because the author used one of my photos, I just decided to review them anyway), so I make a lot less than some people, but (aside from the bipolar and anxiety) I can sleep at night knowing I only write about things I want to write about. And 80% of bloggers don’t make any money doing this. It’s certainly not easy money.
  2. To “raise awareness” about something. Starting a blog doesn’t actually raise awareness about anything, you’re another drop in the ginormous ocean of all the websites that exist online, and no-one knows where to find your blog. If you want to raise awareness, you have to do something better than write about yourself online. Climb a mountain and blog about it. Raise $10,000 for charity and blog about how you did it. DO SOMETHING!!! Trust me, every month, about twenty new blogs pop up that are trying to “raise awareness” about bipolar, depression, anxiety and OCD. Generally they post six times (I can probably tell you the title of at least half of those posts), wonder why the Queen hasn’t come to visit with their Nobel prize yet, then they give up. So much for the positive thinking that they wanted to sell you. Mostly, they wanted to raise awareness of themselves, not any kind of illness or cause. If you want to raise awareness of yourself, apply to “America’s got talent.” Talent not necessary. Actually, these days, you have a second option: Run for president.
  3. To become famous. Drop, ocean, you, small fish. There are millions of blogs out there — WordPress powers 20% of the Internet.
  4. To sell Avon/Younique/Herbalife/other “not a pyramid scheme” pyramid selling schemes with a limited product range. People who start a blog for this reason tend not to do very well because they broadcast instead of having a dialogue with readers. WordPress isn’t a place for broadcasting your sales pitch. That shit belongs in the 80s with door-to-door salesmen. If you want to sell to people, you need to make damn sure you know what you’re talking about and then you need to talk to your potential customers like they’re actual people (because they are. Everyone is a person first, they are ALWAYS a person, until the day they die, and sometimes they’re also a customer), not like they’re some minions that will flock to your website. Fuck. That.
  5. Because you hate beauty but everyone always tells you how good you look so you thought you’d graciously share your godly knowledge of how to draw eyeliner around your face with us mere mortals. Gee thanks. Now piss off. If you hate beauty, don’t fucking write about beauty. Write about something you don’t hate and leave the beauty blog website names for people who are actually going to enjoy talking beauty. Same goes for hair. I can’t believe how many people do this! No-one wants to comment on shitty patronizing articles when they’re just copied from other people’s, anyway. Which is what the “I hate beauty” bloggers all seem to do. I’ve even seen them copying my stuff. I don’t care how pretty you think you are, if you hate beauty, it really shows.
  6. You are really fake and live your whole life faking things (because secretly you hate beauty but you want to make money). Ugh. Go die in a corner. Then see points 5 and 1, above.
  7. To get free stuff. If this is your only reason for blogging, you’re basically ripping off companies, not writing about their products very well and not increasing their sales. How long is that gravy train going to last for you? This happens in beauty, travel and lifestyle blogging, and it’s so obvious to anyone who reads blogs a lot. The only way to get free stuff constantly is if you regularly write a good blog about something you like and care about. Then apply for free stuff. And be picky about what you apply for. Free crap is still crap.

I mean, is it me, or are there just too many people like this in the blogosphere these days? Usually they last 2-6 posts then they never bother updating again because the universe never recognized their obvious talent for blogging.

The things I’ve just listed are all some potential side effects of writing a blog, not the reason to do it. They might not happen for you. In fact, they probably won’t. Sorry. Blogging should be to share your unique lived experience, your passion, your joy, your sorrows… something you fucking care about, good or bad. Otherwise, you’re just taking up bandwidth. All the best blogs are run by someone who cares about something so much or feels so strongly about something that they shared it with the Internet.

Does anyone else have any reasons they think people shouldn’t start blogs? I’m going to take my bitch hat off now.

the righteous banana of indignation
Behold!! The righteous banana of indignation. I don’t fucking know. I just made it up because I wanted a picture of something.

Review: Tony Moly I’m Real Sheet Mask: Red Wine

You have to hand it to K-beauty, they really know how to come up with the most random ingredients to put into products! Like this Tony Moly I’m Real Sheet Mask in Red Wine, which apparently is supposed to help refine pores.
This is what it looks like:

Tony Moly red wine mask sheet for pore care.
Tony Moly red wine mask sheet for pore care.

And this is what the back of the pack looks like, with the ingredients and some pictures showing you how to use it:

Tony Moly red wine mask sheet ingredients for pore care
Ze Ingredients.

So at this point I was wondering whether, inside, the sheet mask was going to be drenched in red wine (because I’m literal, apparently) but they hadn’t soaked a sheet in actual red wine, it was the usual white papery stuff that all sheet masks ever are made of (except for those ones that are more like jelly). I was a little disappointed, and part of me was wondering how much actual red wine it could have if it wasn’t even a little pink:

Tony Moly red wine mask sheet for pore care
I didn’t expect this color.

Maybe the ingredients in K-beauty are like totem ingredients. You know… “This is red wine sheet mask… it will refine your pores, like red wine!!” rather than actually having those ingredients in. I guess we do that with western beauty too — I know for a fact that 70% of the Herbal Essences shampoos don’t actually contain herbs any more. This makes me sad. 😦
Anyway, I decided not to think much on what was in this face mask, I bunged it on my face and ignored it for 20-30 minutes, just like the packet told me to:

Tony Moly red wine mask sheet for pore care
I am wearing a piece of paper soaked in cold stuff. If I smile, the piece above my lip hits my teeth. That made it really hard not to giggle while taking this picture.

I was trying so hard to be serious and not giggle that this just popped out:

tony moly red wine mask
Literally couldn’t help myself.

When I took it off, my face looked… pretty much how it did before I put it on:

Tony Moly red wine mask sheet for pore care: before and after
No visible difference. My skin felt really smooth, though.

I have another one to try out, too, so while this red wine one wasn’t for me, I’m looking forward to trying this rice one:

tony moly red wine rice mask sheet
Red wine and rice flavor masks. I haven’t tried putting them in my mouth to establish if they actually taste like these things.

An Impossible Visa Choice

So, my husband got offered a job in Asia which is well paid, stable, and dependable, in a country I didn’t 150% want to go to (hence I won’t name and shame) but overall it sounded like a good opportunity, and I can go over on a spouse visa. The downside? I will have no job when I get there and, because of the specific country, limited employment options. Until this evening, it was still looking like a good choice because I can continue writing my books from anywhere in the world, although this country’s internet is intermittent and heavily censored.

Then, last night, I got an email telling me I’ve been selected to apply for my Canadian 2-year visa (you apply to a pool of candidates for the Working Holiday Visa, then if they pick you, you apply for the actual visa and get it straight away). BUT I have to apply for it within the next 8 days, or I don’t get it. BUT I have to get a police certificate to apply for this visa, and it takes 10 days to get the normal one, or 2 days (for twice the cost), not to mention all the other requirements for this visa, so I have to move fast. If it had come through in July-October, it would maybe be useful, but you can’t be self-employed on this visa, so I would basically have to stop writing and blogging for 2 years. And be away from my husband that whole time. And figure out how to support myself when I’ve basically been paying my way with my writing and blogging for a while. But, it’s Canada! If this had happened 7 years ago I would have been so excited and gone to do it straight away but now? After everything that’s happened the past few years, and with the option of being able to stay with my husband if I go to this other country? I just don’t know. Part of me thinks that if I want to go to Canada, I should just go on a tourist visa instead, now, or do the proper immigration thing, because 2 years of living in Canada but being unable to write… will that help me move to Canada as a writer in the future? I don’t know, it might.  It depends if they value CANADA experience at higher than WRITING experience for the writing immigration application. Oh, and I’d have to lose 3 months of my visa or quit my Master’s degree as it doesn’t finish until August. But, it’s Canada!!!

ARRRRRGH!!!

Nature Love Sea Algae Eye masks

I discovered that Home Sense also does beauty products this week. Like, they have similar stuff to TK Maxx (because they’re basically the same shop, only Home Sense does housewares and TK Maxx does fashion… even their price tags are designed the same). So, when I discovered their stunning range of Korean sheet masks (which kinda aren’t on a discount) I decided to try some, especially since I need to figure out where I’m at with K-beauty before I move to Asia in August.

As you all know, I suffer from blue under-eye circles (which are actually sometimes purple circles) due to allergies and find myself constantly working hard to get rid of my blue circles, so under-eye masks are something I’m always willing to try when I see them for sale.

It’s cheaper to get the Tony Moly ones from Amazon… BUT only if you want 10 face masks, which comes to about £10. If you want 1 face mask… yeah Amazon doesn’t do that. So while they were £1.99 per face mask at Home Sense (twice the price of Amazon), I still thought it was worth it to try out some of these masks (more on Tony Moly in a future post). The ones I tried out today were eye masks that were £3.99 for a pack of 5 pairs, and are by an obscure Korean brand called Nature Love, who aren’t on Amazon but if you see them for sale anywhere, they seemed pretty nice.

nature love sea algae eye masks review
Nature Love Sea Algae Eye Masks

Today I’m going to talk about the sea algae eye masks that I bought. They came in a pack of 3 and I hoped they’d be super hydrating and moisturizing for my normal-to-dry skin.
I put them on for, like, half an hour (it said 10-20 mins but you’re not supposed to wash the stuff off after so I thought it would be fine). One issue I had with them was that they kept sliding down my face. I don’t normally have this problem with eye masks (I quite like the Montagne Jeunesse re-usable ones, which currently live in my fridge), so that was surprising.

nature love sea algae eye masks review

nature sea algae eye masks review before after

After I took them off, as you can see, the area that had eye mask on was… whitened? I’d been out in the sun that day so the contrast is quite obvious; all my face was the same color before I used these eye masks. I’m not sure it’s a useful effect for my skin, given that I’m already fairly pale. What I wanted was for the indentations around my under-eyes to be less obvious. However, the skin tone certainly seemed firmer and blue circles were somewhat reduced. How long that will last is anybody’s guess.

Have you got a go-to under eye mask? I can never decide if they’re worth using, or if I should use them more regularly than once in a blue moon to get some better results, but they don’t take up much space so I don’t mind buying them occasionally.

Stay tuned next time for a review of the Tony Moly I’m Real Face Masks! This means I can’t forget to use them before I next write a blog post (I have a bad habit of buying face masks and forgetting about them).

So many things going on!!

So I totally planned to put up a tutorial video last week, did my make up, got my camera out and everything, then I never got a chance to film it. This past week and a half, I’ve been swept up in the current of events again and haven’t had any time to think about filming/editing a video, or doing much else, either. Here’s why:
1. My dissertation: The big thesis project thing that I have to write at the end of my Master’s degree. Guess what? That is now. And it needs my full attention. But it’s not getting it, because I am lazy and/or ADHD, so decided it was more important to do the rest of this list…
2. I wrote a #1 bestselling lesbian erotica story last week, edited it, got a friend to proofread, designed the cover myself and threw it at the Internet in the hope that it would land somewhere half decent. It did. I have shifted 500 copies in the last 8 hours alone. Why did I do it? To see what happened if I did. Wish Ulla was here to see this day.
3. I’m going on an away weekend with the sailing cru this weekend. It’s gonna be hella awesome (always is) and probably exhausting (always is) and hopefully nothing will capsize this time, but obviously there’s this tiny voice in the back of my mind, telling me to get on with my research.
4. My husband has accepted (like, on Wednesday) a fantastic job half-way around the world, and we have 4 months to empty the house, rent it out or sell it, and emigrate abroad. Emigration is the week before my MSc dissertation is due, so… no pressure to get THAT done early.
5. I have been researching glitter eyeshadows. I really want to buy some glitter eyeshadows and didn’t know where to look (there’s a difference between shimmer and glitter… shimmer is bad as you age, but glitter is good. And we’re talking grown-up glitter here). The options I’ve found are Make-Up For Ever Glitter, Make-Up For Ever Diamond Dust, Stila Magnificent Metals Glitter and Glow Liquid Eye Shadow, Sephora’s own brand glitter eyeshadows and Urban Decay’s Moon Dust Powder. Has anyone tried these? If I can’t find any info on which ones will give me the look I want, I’ll buy a selection (expensive though!!) and report back to y’all on what’s good. It’s sorta ridiculous that this is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN MY LIFE right now, given the points listed above.

So I will definitely get a half-decent article out at some point this week (it’s a shame because I’d just started posting more often than once a week or fortnight then life happened again). It will probably involve glitter eye makeup or a review of the exciting Korean sheet masks I bought today.