Another month, another monthly favourites lineup fresh for your perusal. This month I've been loving a bit of everything; skincare, beauty, music, a book, and even a movie. It's been a good month for all of the things basically. So without further ado, here's what's earned itself a notable favourite mention in May...
Eligible* by Curtis Sittenfeld-This book though. I am obsessed with it. Much like the retellings of Shakespearean plays that are being released at the moment, Jane Austen's books are receiving the special treatment as well. Eligible is a reinterpretation of Pride and Prejudice, set in modern-day Cincinnati. Liz Bennet is a journalist for beauty-bible, Mascara, Jane is a yoga-instructor, Darcy a neurosurgeon and Chip Bingley, a contestant on a Bachelor-esque reality show. I'm sure you're all familiar with Pride & Prejudice but this modern spin on the story is brilliant. It's so, so cleverly done and incredibly witty. Sittenfeld even throws a bit of subtle shade at the abundance of characters in Austen's novels, I love it.
Aesop Parsley Seed Masque-My skin has been angry this month and has been rewarding me with blemished and red cheeks. I know, I win the complexion lottery.. *ahem*. Thank goodness this mask exists. The parsley seed mask helps to soothe and calm down irritated skin. It gets rid of all the nastiness and is so, so gentle. The beautiful packaging and scent help as well of course but it's so deserving of all the hype it gets.
Clinique Pep Start Eye Cream*-Lightweight, brightening, magic. I'm not sure what it is about this eye cream but I can be looking like I've walked out of the makeup department on a Tim Burton film and a couple of dabs of this seems to mask those epic dark circles. It's the perfect daytime companion.
The Grand Budapest Hotel-So I finally got around to watching this at the beginning of the month and I am now obsessed with it. Wes Anderson has to be some kind of magician because his films are always so dreamy visually and aesthetically pleasing on every level. How amazing does that hotel look too guys? I wouldn't be upset if I ended up in a hotel that looked like that. If you've not seen it, go watch the trailer and then watch the movie. You will not be disappointed.
Tarte Aquacealer Concealer in Light-This reminds me a lot of the Urban Decay Naked Skin concealer, it's very similar. In place of foundation for most of the month I've been using this as a base. Mainly because it dries down matte enough for my liking but also because it has an oversized applicator. It makes it easy to apply foundation-style. There's quite a decent colour range with this concealer, and there are options for darker skintones. I'm not sure if I'd repurchase this just because I like the NARS Creamy Concealer a little bit more but it's still pretty decent.
MAC Whirl lipstick*-Note, this is limited edition packaging from the Brooke Candy collection but Whirl lipstick is part of Mac's permanent range now so you can buy it year round. Whirl is a favourite of Kylie Jenner's with its dirty-rose (Mac's words, not mine) hue. It's matte but it still has more of a satin finish so it doesn't feel as drying on the lips. Whirl is one of those colours you can just grab without thinking about it too much and I love it for that.
Lemonade x Beyonce-It would be rude to not acknowledge the goddess that is Beyonce this month. After all, Lemonade has been virtually all I've listened to up until Ariana Grande's new album dropped last week. Anyway, back to B. Beyonce broke the Internet+pop culture again dropping a full-length music video and album on us. She's even got us all wondering who Becky with the good hair really is. It's Beyonce at her rawest and realest. Standout tracks include; Hold Up, Sorry, Sandcastles...the whole thing really.
Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Blush Stick* in Rose-I'm always wary of swipe-on products like this as they aren't effortless and require a bit more concentration. Thankfully I made the effort with this cream blush stick from Estee Lauder because I love it. I swipe it over one cheek at a time, blend and then it stays put all day. Seriously it does not fade, it does not settle into pores. Impressive. This rose colour has a bit more of a terracotta undertone to it so I feel like it'd flatter deeper skintones as well.
-What have you liked during May?
Three months ago I wrote this on my blog about Gloria Steinem: "One day I'd love to hear her speak in person because I imagine it'd be extraordinary and life changing in the best possible way." That was very apt of me in many ways but when I heard Gloria was headed to Auckland for the Writers Festival I had to go. It was the only event at the Writers Festival I made it to but I'm so glad I was able to go and see her. It was extraordinary.
I didn't get to take the notes I'd intended to take during her session as the lights were dimmed rendering my notebook useless. In all honesty I think I would've been too busy listening anyway to remember to take notes. I also didn't take any photos during the session itself either. I was really lucky to be seated quite close to the stage which also meant I was right in the thick of the festival patrons so I wanted to be mindful of them. I did however do a bit of live-tweeting and have a reasonably good memory of the session.
Gloria was interviewed by the chair of Edinburgh's Book Festival and a lot has been made of the fact that it was a man interviewing her. That didn't bother me so much and I actually thought he did a brilliant job. Her session focused on numerous points in Gloria's life; what she made of her expose of the Playboy Bunny treatment, hosting the first ever women's conference, whether she thinks Hillary Clinton has a shot at presidency (she does), some anecdotes on her father, her friendship with Wilma Mankiller and more. She's such an incredible storyteller, I've never been in the presence of someone quite like her before. I could've listened to her speak all day. She also has a wonderful sense of humour and apologised profusely for America's handing down of The Bachelor franchise and of course the ever-continuing presence of Trump in the international media.
There was also a Q&A session which was interesting as well and I loved how it acted as a forum for feminists both young and old to voice their opinions and seek advice from Gloria herself. Following that there was a signing and I got to meet Gloria+thank her personally for basically being the best woman on earth. She was so lovely. All in all it was such an inspiring night and I'm still feeling the empowerment and inspiration from it now. If you want to hear Gloria in conversation, this interview with Emma Watson is fantastic also.
-Did you see Gloria Steinem at the Writers Festival? What did you think of her session?
It feels like an eternity since I last blogged about beauty. In reality, it was only about two weeks ago. Regardless, I miss beauty and genuinely miss talking about it so that's going to be amended. Today I thought I'd walk you through some new beauty bits I've been sent as well as some I've bought myself. There's some absolute gems in here and some limited edition products you may want to check out...
Lush Honey Trap Lip Balm-As I study from home I don't really wear makeup but I do like to always throw on a lip balm. This one from Lush was recommended to me by Emma. Its scent is divine, a blend of vanilla and honey. It also helps that it feels extremely nourishing on the lips and I love it for that.
MAC Vamplify in Pamela*, limited edition-Firstly, who else gets Kylie Lip Kit vibes from this packaging? Shaaanxo made a point in her vlogs that it gives off Kat Von D vibes too. Either way, I like it. It's sleek and so aesthetically pleasing. Anyway, MAC have bought out some more of their Vamplify glosses in the Brooke Candy collection. These are like a liquid lipstick and gloss but without the dryness and stickiness of either product. They're incredibly creamy and pigmented. Pamela is essentially Whirl in lipgloss form. I highly recommend this if you're not quite ready to branch out with a liquid lipstick just yet.
Lancome Juicy Shaker in Freedom of Peach*, available May 23rd-Side note: It took me way too long to open the cocktail shaker that housed this lip product. As a friend of mine pointed out, I certainly do not deserve a drink. Anyway, Lisa Eldridge's creative role at Lancome has meant a bunch of exciting new releases and campaigns. These are bi-phase lip oils that combine nourishing oils with pigments, when you shake them. Like a Polaroid picture, or a cocktail. They're super hydrating and give your lips a glossy look without feeling tacky or sticky on the lips. Amen. They have an extremly subtle tint to them, so they're great for lazy makeup days. I have to give props to the applicator too. It feels really spongy and bouncy, like a Beauty Blender for your lips. Its slanted tip gets right into the contours as well. I highly recommend you check these out when they're on counter. I predict it'll be like the Juicy Tubes craze all over again.
Tarte Tarteist Lash Paint Mascara-Emily, Kirsty and I made an order from Tarte's site when they had 30% off everything and free shipping. It was too good an offer to pass up. I'm quite the Tarte fan at the moment so I decided to grab a couple of their newer products to try. I'd seen mixed reviews for this mascara online but I really like it. Their website claims it increases volume by 2700%. I always find statistics like that a bit...ridiculous. Maybe it is true but anyway, this mascara certainly does make your lashes look next level amazing. Tarte's mascaras do not disappoint so if you want a cruelty-free, mostly vegan alternative to your standard mascara, they have you set.
La Roche Posay Serozinc, not pictured-The lovely Lena brought this back for me from Melbourne as it's finally available at Priceline over there. Side note: Can someone bring La Roche Posay to NZ? Get on it please. Serozinc caused a major stir in the beauty blogging world thanks to the likes of Caroline Hirons and I know Anna used to rave about this too so it has been on my radar for a while. Serozinc is essentially a spray toner that's designed for sensitive skin. It contains zinc sulfate, sodium chloride and water so it's very fuss-free. No fragrances, no concentrated alcohol. It might be a placebo effect like Morgan acknowledges but whatever it is, it seems to calm down angry skin. Seriously, I notice a difference when I forget to use this. I'm not sure what's going to happen when it runs out...my skin+I will cry.
Simply Essential Brushes*-A couple of weeks back I was kindly sent these brushes by The Beauty Collective along with some bubbles and chocolate. They sent me the Angled Blender Brush, Flat Top Kabuki Brush and the Tapered Kabuki Brush. The angled blender brush is best for crease work, although it can be used for highlight on the brow bone as well. The flat top kabuki brush is my favourite of the three, although they're all amazing. It blends in foundation seamlessly. The tapered kabuki brush would work well for cream contouring but I use it to powder under my eyes. They're all incredibly high quality synthetic brushes that aren't going to break the bank. Plus they have rose gold hardware. Sold!
MAC Pro Longwear Waterproof Colour Stick in Sand Bar*, not pictured-Somehow I managed to forget to photograph this as well. Whoops. MAC have bought out new eyeshadow crayons recently, they're all matte as far as I know and come in a range of shades. There's more neutral colours and then some more daring colours like blues and brights. These remind me of MAC's paint pots in pen form. They make fantastic bases that are going to adhere whatever's applied over the top of them to the lids. You can also use them nicely as eyeliners too. Sand Bar is a soft camel nude that reminds me of a muted down version of MAC Soba eyeshadow. I like to use this underneath eyeshadows when I don't have time to fuss around with a paint pot or on its own. These are worth checking out if you're near a MAC counter and after a new eye makeup love.
-Have you tried any of these products before? What's been on your beauty radar recently?
Seeing as it's been a rather bookish and writing filled-few days I thought I'd kick this week off with a blog post about what I'm dubbing weekend reads. Simply put, books that are short enough for me to finish in a day or two and are thus being saved to read on the weekend. There's a mix of short stories, novels, even a loosely structured poetry book as well...
Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O'Porter-After listening to Dawn O'Porter's podcast episode with Emma Gannon, I became quite fixated on reading every single thing she's written. Maybe not quite everything but her novels to begin with. Paper Aeroplanes is the story of two teenaged girls in England during the 1990's. They're both quite different personalities but unite over their somewhat dysfunctional family dynamics. Apparently this is loosely autobiographical, as Dawn took details and character traits from her diaries of the time. I'm looking forward to reading this during the upcoming weekend.
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson-This is the latest pick for Emma Watson's Our Shared Shelf book club and given it was on the slimmer side I thought I had more of a chance of reading it this month. I've actually slipped behind in book club reads lately but this one took my fancy so I had to get a hold of it. It's a memoir that charts the relationship between the author and her gender-fluid partner Harry Dodge. From what I have read so far this seems like it's going to be quite poetic if that makes sense and very visual. I am intrigued.
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout-This book was one of the Undone Book Club picks earlier in the year and after waiting on the extremely lengthy waitlist for it, I finally read it a couple of weekends ago. This tells the story of Lucy who is in hospital after an operation that is taking her a while to recover from. It also charts her reunion of sorts with her Mum who she hasn't seen for many years. It's very nostalgic and takes comfort in the refreshing sort of conversations we tend to have in isolated environments. It's very beautifully done and is the kind of story that would translate well to a play. Highly recommend+it was longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction which says positive things, I feel.
Grief Is The Thing With Feathers by Max Porter-Don't read this book if you're going through a bit of a rough period. It is not lighthearted and touches on the rather intense and many-faceted workings of grief and loss. That being said, as this is structured more like poetry, it is a quick read. I did enjoy this book but I didn't find myself loving it so I gave it 3/5 over on Goodreads.
-Have you read any of these books before? What did you think of them?
For those out of the loop, I've been studying extramurally since March of this year so I can finish my degree. Why extramural? The main reason is that I wanted an option for me that wasn't going to be as stressful, self-management seems to work a lot better for me. There's also the fact that the commute into the city every day wasn't working for me. Yes I could have moved into the city but rent in Auckland is ridic. Let's be real. So yeah, I've been an independent learner now for almost nine weeks and while I'm in no way seasoned in this approach, I thought I'd share five things I have learnt thus far...
1) Self-discipline is key. There are no rules in this house. You are Mrs George from Mean Girls, maybe without the velour sweatsuit but nonetheless, you are an independent woman (or man). This can have many blessings but also drawbacks. One thing I have learnt rather quickly is that you have to be extremely disciplined. Extremely, extremely disciplined. Otherwise before you know it, half the day will have been spent trying to decipher the crazy Kardashian family tree or trawling the ASOS new-in section. You get the idea, be disciplined and regimented with yourself to ensure your time is spent productively.
2) You are (essentially) on your own. I know some people will debate that and say distance learning/extramural study is interactive but I find for the most part it really isn't. Sure there are Facebook groups and forums but they don't feel...real if that makes sense. I'm a pretty introverted person but still find studying solely online a bit lonely. My advice here is try to find friends in your area who you can chat with and study, it does help. Also if you can, maybe take one or two papers internally. That way you still get to see people and not feel like you're totally alone.
3) Timetables are your best friend. Y'know with Uni you get a timetable telling you when your lectures are, when your tutorials are and what ridiculous hour you'll have to wake up at. 8am's were the bane of my existence, yet ironically I now start my study days at 8am. The point here is, buy one of those weekly pads like this one. Write up a timetable and allocate hours to each paper. I also write in when I am working, any other commitments I have during the week, deadlines I need to meet etc. It helps.
4) Go Offline. I love technology, who doesn't? Staring at a computer screen all day however is not great for many reasons. Where I can I like to print notes out so I can handwrite them myself/annotate them. This, I like to think, helps me retain whatever's being taught that week. I also like to do my readings, both assignments and textbook offline as much as possible. I find my focus slips really fast if I'm reading off a screen for long periods of time. I try to get all my online stuff out of the way first and then spend the rest of the day offline. I like to think my eyes are grateful for that.
5) Not Commuting Is AMAZING. If there's one thing I used to find terribly taxing about going into the city virtually every day for University it was the commute. Granted I didn't have my license back when I studied in the CBD, which would have cut a lot of time off, where I live was still far away enough to feel tiring. So to say I do not miss commuting into the city and beyond every day is an understatement. Sure it was a great time for me to work on essays, sunlight permitting and/or catch up on reading/music listening. It always felt like a big chunk of my day was spent on public transport. I do not miss it. At all.
-Are you studying? What are your tips for making it work for you?