Book Review | The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying

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Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying has become somewhat of an international sensation. She is a professional ‘tidier’ based in Tokyo where she helps all kinds of clients declutter, tidy and organise their homes using her own ‘KonMari’ Method. This book talks you through the KonMari Method, so you too can experience the success that Marie’s clients have.

It has to be said, the title is a little silly (life-changing magic, really?!) and some of the client success stories that she starts with are a bit much so I was pretty cynical when I first began reading it. However, Marie’s genuine personality does start to come through as you continue reading and she just seems to sincere and lovely that I really did change my mind. Marie is so convinced that having a tidy home equates to a tidy mind and her enthusiasm really cuts through all the crap that it is hard not to find yourself agreeing with her.

In a nutshell, the KonMari Method is based around decluttering and organising by category rather than location. For instance, clothes, paperwork, books. Marie sets out the optimal order for doing this so that  you begin by discarding items that are relatively easy to let go of and leave more meaningful or sentimental items for later. You have to do everything in the one go so pull all of your clothes out of the wardrobe, drawers etc. gather them together and look at each item. You have to do this for every item in your house and only keep items that ‘spark joy’. Once you have purged your home completely you have to find a place for everything and then your home will be permanently tidy.

This sounds extreme, but actually there is a lot of sense in it. For example, if you have beauty products in your dresser, plus your bedside cabinet, plus your handbag, plus the bathroom… do you really know how much you have? In terms of asking if something sparks joy… I think this can be taken with a pinch of salt. If you’re not a cleaning junkie it’s unlikely that your collection of household cleaning product will spark joy but you might want to hang on to it. But it is worth asking if you actually like  some of the stuff you’ve been hanging on to. Marie points out that a lot of people hang on to gifts purely out of guilt, but actually the purpose of the gift was to receive it – you understand that the person giving it to you did so out of love, generosity and kindness and you appreciate that, but you shouldn’t hang on to something that now makes you feel bad. Also, Marie is not as harsh as she first seems, if something is silly, weird or even not used regularly but you love it, you should keep it.

I think that some of the more earnest/cheesy phrases are possibly down to too literal a translation from Japanese plus a bit of difference in our two cultures (i.e. literally thanking your handbag?!) but overall this book is not half as ridiculous as I had expected. In fact, I would say that if you’re already thinking about your spring cleaning, definitely give this a read first as I’m sure there will be at least a few tips in there that will really speak to you.

When I start packing for moving house I will 100% be remembering Marie’s words to help me reduce the clutter in my new place. I’ve also just discovered that there are a bunch of YouTube videos where Marie demonstrates her folding technique for clothes so I will for sure be checking those out!

Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying? What did you make of it?

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Urban Decay X Gwen Stefani | The Lipsticks

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Last week I posted about Urban Decay’s collaboration with Gwen Stefani to release her go-to eyeshadow palette. They will soon be expanding the line to include eight lipsticks, lipliners, a blush palette and a brow box. When you purchase the eyeshadow palette you will receive a sample card with four of the lipsticks to try so I though I would share the swatches today. I think Gwen is more known for her signature bold lip than her eye looks so this is the part of the collection I think that most people will be excited about.

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Included in the sample is a range of finishes and a couple which are sure to be the bestsellers. Also, the design of the packaging of the actual lipstick is glorious. I’ve not seen it in person yet so I don’t know what the quality will be like but I love the black and gold design. Definitely display-worthy.

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From left to right we have: ‘Firebird’ a pink with a strong blue undertone which makes it appear purple in the bullet but not on the lips; ‘Ex-Girlfriend’, a sheer nude wash; ‘714’, a true red matte and lastly, ‘Rock Steady’ looks like a dark red but swatches up pretty pink, definitely one that will be very versatile depending on how you apply it.

It’s lucky that UD will be releasing the matching lip liners with these as they are all (with the exception of ‘Ex-Girlfriend’) very pigmented and will need the precise application a liner can help with. The cream formula of ‘Firebird’ and ‘Rock Steady’ is lovely, very comfortable to wear but definitely presents a risk of bleeding so I would say a lip liner will be a must with at least the cream formulas in this range.

I don’t usually wear mattes as I have horrendously dry lips so I was a bit scared of the mega matte ‘714’. However, I must have been having a good lip day as actually I really liked it. It did feel very dry and is tricky to apply (especially if like me you don’t wear a lot of mattes) but it is super opaque and somehow doesn’t accentuate flaws.

UDxGwen Lipstick

‘Ex-Girlfriend’ is probably my favourite of these four and one that I would wear often. You can also see from the above that one light coat of ‘Rock Steady’ gives a very pink-toned red.

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Also in the collection will be three more cream formulas: ‘Spiderweb’ (a mid-toned red); ‘Wonderland’ (a dark reddish pink) and ‘Phone Call’ (mid-toned bubblegum pink). There will also be one more sheer formula – ‘Plaid’ is a deep berry which I’m assuming will also pull quite pink.

The UK release date is this Thursday 21st Jan on the Urban Decay website (they’re already out/sold out in the States) and you can sign up to be notified of the release here. I’ve not seen any prices yet but I’m assuming that both the lipstick and the pencil will be in the £15-£20 each mark.

I’ve got my eye on ‘Ex-Girlfriend’ and I think either ‘Plaid’ or ‘Spiderweb’. Do any take your fancy?

Bathroom Inspiration

I’ve mentioned it in passing on this blog before, but me and David are buying a house this year. Soon. Imminently in fact, pending certain solicitors doing their jobs. The very first thing we’ll be doing when we finally get the keys is completely replacing the bathroom. It’s liveable in the state it’s in now but only just. It’s got a pretty gross carpet in there (why?) and cork tiles underneath that: double gross. So I’ve been pinning away and I thought I’d share the kind of look I’m going for. We’ll see in a month or so whether I manage to achieve it!

All images linked via Pinterest

The look I’m coveting is the very popular subway tile look with Victorian style patterned floor tiles. I like the dark grout look against the white subway tiles but the other half is not a fan so I think we’ll go for the white. I do also love the dark paint, but I need to see what the natural light in the bathroom is like – I haven’t seen it since the start of October!

For the fittings I am looking for smooth lines, no mouldings, no knobbly bits. I do like the look of traditional cross-top taps, but they are a pain to clean. So ease of cleaning is top of the list of requirements. I also want to incorporate wood with a bath bridge, duckboard and possibly a cabinet and I also want to include lots of green leafy plants.

We’re on a bit of a budget so I’ll be scouring the web for good deals (gutted it looks like we’re going to be missing the January sales), but if you know of any supplier that are reasonably priced please, please let me know!

Clickbait #3

I promise this feature won’t take you to spam, it’s just a fortnightly round up of my favourite stuff I’ve seen on the internets…

I Like Cats Notebook

A6 Notebook by ilikeCATS

I love the above Etsy shop for all kinds of sassy cats – on pins, cards, t-shirts, you name it. I’ve also been trying to follow along with @tobyilikecats‘ drawing a day challenge #yayeveryday. Having mixed success with that, but I’m enjoying at least thinking about drawing.

The big news stories this week were sadly the untimely deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman. I’ll admit, I’m a total cynic and adverse to massively public outpourings of grief but this article by Sali Hughes on why she is sick of the ‘grief police’ made me think. I’d never be as harsh as the people she describes but I will admit to an (internal) eyeroll in the past. Bowie and Rickman weren’t my personal heroes but OK, I can relate, there are some celebrities that I imagine I’ll need a day of work to cope with. (Not saying in case jinxes are real).

Speaking of being a cynic, this post by Bee Waits For No One on why everyone can have a Positive Mental Attitude is another eye opener. #inspiring

This is an old one, but new to me. After the news that Winds of Winter will definitely not be released before season 6 of Game of Thrones, here’s a timely reminder from Neil Gaiman that George R R Martin is not your bitch. So stop whinging about spoilers. 

Gemma from Lipstick and Lashes has brought back her Bloggers Snail Mail. I love snail mail/postcard/ gift swaps for getting to know people and er.. an excuse to shop so I’ll definitely be signing up.

The Oscar nominations are out and were greeted with the usual excitement/jeers/overuse of the word ‘snub’. The Revenant  is tipped as the one to watch but I’m personally much more excited about Room. In other  awards season fun, make sure you vote for your Rising Star at the BAFTA’s. John Boyega for the win.

Happy Saturday chaps!

My Slimming World Experience

My Slimming World Experience

Today I thought I’d do something a bit different and share my Slimming World experience. It’s not something I’ve mentioned much before on here except for saying that one of my best bits of 2015 was losing 2.5 stone. That was all down to Slimming World. I am the world’s worst dieter – I love food, I have a raging sweet tooth, and to be honest, I’m lazy. I can’t be bothered with weighing and measuring and counting and I definitely can’t be arsed with a diet that bans sugar. Fine except for at the start of last year I realised I needed to change something or my weight would keep creeping up and I really wasn’t happy with that. So at the start of May I went to my first ever fat club.

Joining was pretty nerve-wracking, I’d read what to expect but you never really know what to expect. Turns out it really wasn’t that bad. I had to join a group of about four or five other newbies to sign up and have the introductory chat from the group leader explaining all about the diet. This takes about half an hour and takes place while the existing members are queueing to be weighed (I went to a Saturday morning session and there were about 60 people). Afterwards those who stay (never more than 20 in my group) discuss how the week has gone for about an hour. Each member is spoken to but their weight is never revealed (unless they say), the only number mentioned is how much they have lost. After this is when the newbies are weighed once everyone else has filtered out so it is not at all intimidating.

My Slimming World Experience

In terms of the plan itself, the best thing to do is to read about it here or on their official website, it;s actually quite simple but it does sound complicated once you try to explain it. Basically you can have any amount of ‘free food’ – lean meats, fruit, veg, pasta, rice, potatoes, herbs etc, a measured amount of ‘healthy extras’ – cereal, wholemeal bread, milk, cheese etc and a limited amount of ‘syns’ – all the good stuff. Where it gets complicated is when you start looking into the free and superfree foods. So if you’re thinking of starting this I highly recommend going and joining a group, even just for one week, so that it is explained in person with the chance to ask questions.

My Slimming World Experience

I found that it’s not to difficult to stick too. I have a routine that suits me now.  I tend to have two Alpen Light bars for breakfast during the week and take a salad or crustless quiche to work along with fruit to snack on. Then David usually cooks something amazing for dinner and I have my ‘syns’ in the evening – usually in the form of some chocolate. It’s not a super super healthy diet – you can drink as much diet soda as you like (and I do) and some healthy foods are high in ‘syns’ so I tend to avoid them such as avocados (my babies), nuts and oils, but it is good for getting you on a better path.

The number one tip I can share is to meal plan. Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan. Seriously, this is the best way to stay on track. This will allow you to see where your ‘healthy extras’ are coming in, if you have to use any ‘syns’ in your main meals and prepare food in advance. Slimming World is hard to do if you don’t do this, it’s a diet that requires a lot of home cooking so if you don’t prepare for this you’ll find it so difficult. I tend to meal plan for the week ahead and then do my weekly shop getting exactly what I need. If you’re going out and want to stick to plan have a look at menus online beforehand. It’s totally possible to eat out, but it can be tricky if you’re not pre-armed with what you are going to get and what you are going have for the rest of the day.

Here are some of my favourite main meals:

My Slimming World Experience

Spaghetti Bolognese.

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Tuna with homemade salsa.

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Peri Peri Chicken Salad

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Spanish Quorn Sausage and Bean Stew

My Slimming World Experience

Burger in a bowl (this is the best!)

I’ve recently restarted the diet since stopping about three months ago. I gained back 13lbs, which is a lot but I was expecting this as I totally binged on takeaways and junk knowing that I’d restart Slimming World in the new year. Not the best mindset I know. However, I know that I need to be made accountable which is why this plan and weekly weigh-ins work well for me. I haven’t rejoined a group as David is now also doing it so that is enough motivation for me. Now if only I had a gym buddy too! In my first week back on it I’ve lost 5lbs which I’m very pleased with anyway.

I have to say I don’t really miss the group, I wasn’t getting as much out of it towards the end as I was in my first few weeks, plus I missed my Saturday mornings. But, I might rejoin if I start struggling, or at least join up to the website. However, if you think that you need the support of others, the groups are great – you can say as much or as little as you like (and actually you don’t have to stay for the chatty bit every week or at all if you don’t fancy it), and everyone is friendly and very non-judgemental.

And that’s my Slimming World experience so far. Do let me know if you have any questions at all about the plan or the group experience. Also let me know if you’d like to see more posts about Slimming World – maybe food diaries, recipes or anything else you are interested in.

Urban Decay x Gwen Stefani | The Eyeshadow Palette

Urban Decay x Gwen Stefani | The Eyeshadow Palette

In my early teenage years (and actually still a bit now) third-wave ska was my thing. While the majority of my pals were more into the indie-rock scene, Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish and of course, No Doubt’s The Tragic Kingdom were my tracks of choice. So I have a huge space in my heart for Gwen Stefani. When Urban Decay announced their collaboration with Gwen, I kinda knew that I was going to buy it regardless. Luckily the first product to be launched, the 15-shade eyeshadow palette, is beautiful. It retails at £40, I purchased it from Feel Unique during the sale so received 10% off – not a huge discount, but when you’re meant to be saving for a house every little counts.

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Urban Decay x Gwen Stefani | The Eyeshadow Palette

The packaging is super luxe. I love the graphic print on the outer box and the black, white and gold colour scheme. It’s a heavy plastic with a really strong magnetic closure. It has a full size mirror on the inside with a nice nod to the No Doubt song. It is a pretty thick and heavy palette so although it is sturdy it’s not a great option for travelling due to it’s bulk (in my opinion).

Urban Decay x Gwen Stefani | The Eyeshadow Palette

Urban Decay x Gwen Stefani | The Eyeshadow Palette

Unlike palettes like the Naked series there’s no brush included in this one and so no space in the palette to store it. I actually like this. Although the brushes included in other UD sets are really good quality I always think they’re a bit of a waste of space in the palette in general.

As you can see the majority of the Gwen palette is neutral with a good range from light to dark and a couple of statement shades. 12 of the shades are new and named by Gwen and 3 are repeats. Skimp and Stark are both in the Naked 2 Basics palette (which I have) and Blackout is in Naked2 (which I don’t have) as well as being available individually.

If I’m being really nit-picky, it’s weird that the names are printed above the shadow when normally they’re below.

Urban Decay x Gwen Stefani | The Eyeshadow Palette

Sorry, for the crappy swatches but hopefully you get the idea. Blonde is a pale beige with a subtle pink iridescent shift. Bathwater is a pearly pale gold shimmer. Skimp is an almost matte pale beige with the slighest hint of a satiny shine. Steady is a gorgeous rosy-gold shimmer. Punk is a matte reddish-brown that would be a great  shade for lining or creating an interesting smoky look.

Urban Decay x Gwen Stefani | The Eyeshadow Palette

On the middle row, Baby is a metallic rose. Anaheim is a matte, cool, light brown. Stark is a matte beige. Zone is a mid-toned brown, also matte. Serious is a really unusual grey with a very subtle pink pearl that just lifts it.

Urban Decay x Gwen Stefani | The Eyeshadow Palette

On to the last row and Pop is a sheer sparkly champagne, Harajuku is a cool toned pink metallic. Danger is a really intense navy metallic. 1987 is a yellow gold metallic with much better pay-off than my picture shows. Blackout is a black matte.

The biggest disappointment of the palette is Pop. This is a really grainy glitter that has a tonne of fallout, much like Midnight Cowboy Rides Again and one that I probably won’t use even though it looks lovely in the pan. Harajuku also feels quite stiff in the pan and has a much more sheer pay off than one might expect. However, for a bright pink this is probably a good thing! The rest are all buttery soft, high quality shadows. The overall feel is a very wearable, neutral look with a couple of pops of colour and good smoky options. I also think that the navy Danger and the gold 1987 are still quite wearable shades, even if they seem a bit bold at first.

I know that a lot of people were surprised at how neutral the palette was, but this actually suits Gwen’s make up look perfectly – girl is all about the lipsticks! Overall, I think this is a beautiful, collectable palette and I am super happy to have it in my collection.

This palette is limited edition so snap it up quickly if you fancy it. Urban Decay will be adding to the Gwen Stefani collection with lipsticks and lip pencils, a blush palette (amazing) and a brow kit (strictly for blondies I think). The eyeshadow palette came with a set of 4 samples from the upcoming lipstick range so I’m excited to try those out. I will report back with my thoughts very soon.

What do you think of the UDxGwen offering? Were you a noughties ska kid too? I’m off to download No Doubt’s greatest hits now…

December Film & TV Wrap Up

I was very excited for cinema trips in December. I know most people have been most hyped up about Star Wars, but seriously, I’ve been looking forward to the ‘Untitled Pixar Movie About Dinosaurs’ since they announced it in like, 2011. For reals.

The Good DinosaurThe Good Dinosaur

This is just the most incredible looking film. When the opening sequence started with vistas over mountains, rivers and fields, me and David looked at each other and both said “OH MY GOD!” (we whispered it of course). It looks SO GOOD. The animation is insanely beautiful and after the hyper imaginative world of Inside Out, Pixar have gone for a realism style for the setting of The Good Dinosaur.

It is a bit jarring then that the characters themselves are done in a much more cartoony style. I guess it’s easy to forget that Pixar movies are for kids but The Good Dinosaur definitely is. The premise is that the meteor tht killed the dinosaurs missed earth meaning that dinosaurs and humans co-exist. The twist being that the dinos have developed (taking on agricultural skills) while the humans are still primitive. Arlo is a apatosaurus who struggles to find his place on his family farm, he is small, weak and cowardly. A cruel twist of fate leaves him lost and miles from home and he has to seek help from the human boy Spot.

There were lots of things I loved about this film. The way the T-Rex are done as ranchers is brilliant (a slight raise of the arm gives the impression of horse-riding), Peter Sohn’s Forrest Woodbush, the paranoid styracosaurus is hilarious and the friendship between Arlo and Spot is touching. However, overall it is slightly disappointing. The plot borrows massively from The Lion King which straight away is unlike Pixar. It’s also incredibly earnest in it’s ‘moral message’, and I know it’s for kids, but I think even an eight-year-old would feel a little patronised by it.

I feel like I’m judging it a little harshly, but we expect so much from Pixar anything less than an A+ feels disappointing. I did love it, I just didn’t love love it.

star-wars-the-force-awakensStar Wars: The Force Awakens

Easily the biggest release of recent years. I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan, I’ve seen the other films but only once, but I totally got swept up in all the hype. I also wanted to see it fairly quickly so I could avoid the spoilers. For that reason I’m not going to go into the plot too much – it’s the new Star Wars film, there’s not really much else that is needed to be said to be honest.

Like the rest of the world, I really liked it. There are a few things about it I didn’t love (sorry Chewie fans, but what is the point of him in general?) but overall it’s a really fun ride. I love that the Star Wars films are quite diverse in their casting in general and this installment brings the first female villain as well as a great new heroine in Rey.

It definitely panders to the fans who disliked the prequels. It ticks all the boxes in terms of nostalgia, action and humour. All round a great film.

gothamGotham

The Netflix show of choice last month was Gotham. This is essentially Batman: The Very Beginning. Instead of Bruce Wayne, the main character is Detective James Gordon – Commissioner Gordon before the Commissioner part. The first episode sees the murder of the Waynes and Gordon (played by Benjamin MacKenzie of The OC fame) promising Bruce that he will find who did it. However, Gordon faces a series of unforeseen challenges as a new recruit to the corrupt Gotham Police Department.

While not perfect, there are loads of great characters in this. It’s incredibly over the top – Robin Taylor’s Penguin and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Fish Mooney especially – but it’s quite addictive and very watchable. I’m looking forward to the next season for sure.

Reggie YatesReggie Yates Extreme UK

Lastly, I’ve been watching the new documentaries from Reggie Yates on the BBC iPlayer. The new series is based in the UK and looks at the struggles men face – the titles are ‘Gay and Under Attack’, ‘Men at War’ and ‘Dying for a Six Pack’. I really like Reggie Yates, he has a great perspective on a range of issues and looks at it from his own viewpoint and is able to imagine that of his teenage brothers.

The ‘Men at War’ episode was particularly controversial as, in a very Louis Theroux-style, Reggie met men who were frankly ridiculous in their anti-feminism/anti-equality/anti-women extreme opinions. I think it missed a trick in not engaging with real issues such as inequality in matrimonial law instead of the ludicrous statements some of the men featured were making, but I guess the point was to show the extremes. Regardless, it definitely put to bed the argument that we don’t need feminism within the first 10 seconds!

What have you been watching recently? I’d love some documentary recommendations if you have any?