Thursday, 31 January 2013

Five TV Characters I'd Love To Be Friends With

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Today's post is inspired by Anjali's '9 People I Would Like to be Friends with from TV Sitcoms...' which I thought was a great idea. I wasn't able to come up with a list of just sitcom characters so I've changed things up a little and chosen general TV characters instead.

Betty Suarez, Ugly Betty - Fellow blogger Betty is a smart, likable and ambitious character with a great attitude which I think would have a positive influence on me. I think Betty would be a reliable friend and her whole family would be fun to have around too!

Chandler Bing, Friends - Always my favourite member of the Friends gang because of his sarcastic ways I think Chandler would be the best of them to have around.

Zoe Hart, Hart Of Dixie - Although not my favourite character on the show (Lavon if you were wondering!) I think Zoe would make a good friend. She's a surgeon too - always handy, and she has a killer wardrobe which as my friend she would have to share with me.....right?!

Seth Cohen, The O.C. - Another character with a sarcastic sense of humour, Seth has made it into my top five mainly based on his outlook on films, "I love going to them and then telling people what's wrong with it", perfect. He's also a creative person with his comic book style illustrations and the invention of Chrismukkah so I think we would have that in common too.

Sabrina Spellman, Sabrina The Teenage Witch - She has magical powers....do I really need to say anymore than that?

Which TV characters would you love to be friends with?
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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Stila In The Know Palette: Swatches

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Stila's ten shadow palettes have proven popular with bloggers in recent months with the most notable of the three variations being the In The Light palette which features a range of neutral, everyday colours with mixed finishes to rival the famous Urban Decay Naked palettes. The second palette named In The Garden also features some neutrals but includes bolder shades including blue and green again with a mix of finishes. Completing the set is the palette I'm swatching for you today; In The Know, an all mattes palette. As I've mentioned before I have sensitive eyes that don't tend to get on well with any shimmery powder shadows so when I discovered (via Arden's videos) that the In The Know palette was made up of all matte shades I popped it on my wish list.
I picked up In The Know via beautybay.com priced at £20 (usually £25) and although I haven't had a chance to play around with the palette much yet but I thought I would post some swatches for anyone else who's also been looking for an all mattes palette.
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  L-R Air, Wind, Desert, Clay, Earth
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  L-R Driftwood, Fire, Rain, Smoke, Ebony

Do you own any Stila palettes?
 
 
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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

January Reads.

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 Cover images from goodreads.com: Click the book titles below to find them on Amazon!

Warm Bodies, Isaac Marion (2010)
Warm Bodies differs from the majority of novels in it's genre as it is written from the point of view of a zombie rather than someone that has survived an attack. R doesn't remember his name or what he used to do before he became a zombie but he does know that he wants to change. In this novel when a zombie eats a human's brains they share the memories of that person through visions, so when R eats the brains of Perry he knows that he needs to protect Perry's girlfriend Julie from his zombie friends.
I loved that the story was told from R's point of view and the interesting idea that the zombies could potentially be cured as this goes against other zombie tales I've encountered. As a narrator R was a fairly likable but overall I didn't really warm to any of the characters throughout the novel. Although only a reasonably short book it took me much longer to read than I thought it would and at times I didn't feel that the plot was particularly gripping. For me there were a lot of unanswered questions however a sequel is due to be released in 2014 which will hopefully go into more detail but will I read it? I'm undecided. Ultimately I think after reading great reviews my expectations of Warm Bodies were too high and I found myself disappointed which was a shame. The film adaptation starring Nicholas Hoult as R is released in cinemas in the UK on February 8th and the trailer (view here) does look rather good! 2.5/5 - For a different perspective on Warm Bodies check out Niina's review over at Blogger's Bookshelf here

The Sky Inside, Clare B. Dunkle (2008) 
This YA book follows Martin, a teen living in HM1 a typical suburb housed within a protective dome. Things are regularly shipped in and out of the town including genetically engineered children known as the 'wonder babies', one of which happens to be Martin's little sister, until one day someone comes to take them away. Martin makes the decision to try and break free of the dome with the help of his new companion; Chip, his modified bot.
I picked up The Sky Inside from my local library on the recommendation of Goodreads and although I hadn't heard anything about it before the synopsis and setting sounded fairly interesting. Unfortunately I didn't feel that the book lived up to its claims of being a 'fast-paced' thriller' although it did have some promising elements. One notable concept in particular were the game shows and the idea that the people watching them had no idea what they were really viewing. Many residents of HM1 were addicted to the popular game shows, on which no one ever wins, but it turned out that the contestants aren't there because they want to be - they're being tortured. Overall I didn't really enjoy the book and I don't expect to be picking up the sequel The Walls Have Eyes, but the clever ideas that were hidden within it, although not explored fully, mean it deserves more then a 1 star rating 2/5

Ender's Shadow, Orson Scott Card (1999)
Ender's Shadow is the first book in the Shadow Saga the parallel series to the popular Ender's Saga and takes place along the same time line. Instead of following Ender Wiggin the Shadow Saga follows Bean, a minor character in the original book but an important one nonetheless. In Ender's Shadow we learn about how Bean came to be at Battle School and although he is by far the most intelligent student there we watch him, as the title suggests, be overshadowed by Ender.
After discovering that the film adaptation of Ender's Game (due for release in October) is actually based on both Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow I knew I wanted to read the latter beforehand. Being a companion to Ender's Saga rather than a re-telling it would be so easy for Orson Scott Card to get it wrong but fortunately he does a great job of re-telling the story without becoming repetitive. Although the events take place around the same time, and some do overlap, it doesn't at any point feel like you're reading the same story. Bean's life pre-Battle School was rough, living on the streets with hardly any food and practically no friends his invitation to the school really changed his life. The way his background is presented at the beginning and how that picture develops and changes over time as we learn more about him is very effective. If you've read Ender's Game you'll know about the famous twist and I thought the way that element was handled within Ender's Shadow was particularly interesting from Bean's point of view. Although I liked Ender's Shadow and do believe it was well structured considering it is a parallel to another book I didn't enjoy it quite as much as Ender's Game 3.5/5 - Ender's Game review here


The Silver Linings Playbook, Matthew Quick (2008)
Pat Peoples likes to believe his life is a movie and The Silver Linings Playbook follows him on his journey to win back his wife Nikki after leaving a mental health facility. No one wants to tell Pat the truth, that he has been away for several years, that he has blocked out important memories of his past and that he isn't just on a break with Nikki. Along the way Pat meets Tiffany who has been through a bad time of her own and the real story about what happened between Pat and Nikki starts to unravel. 
Not a book I would usually consider picking up my interest in the film adaptation, rave reviews and the fact that the Kindle version was fairly cheap I decided to give it a chance. The most interesting thing about this book would have to be the characters and the way they interact with each other, or in some cases the way they don't. I also enjoyed the mystery element where as the reader you discover alongside Pat what has happened to him over the last few years and the real reason he lost Nikki (something I believe is actually revealed very early on in the film adaptation). One issue I had with this book is that as someone who knows very little about sport after a while I did find the parts which focused on American football, a prominent theme throughout, boring and repetitive after a little while. Its only right to also point out is that the book ruins the plot of several classic novels without warning so if you are planning to read any of the following but haven't yet I would recommend doing so before reading TSLP; The Bell Jar, The Great Gatsby, A Farewell To Arms, The Catcher In The Rye and The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn. I haven't seen the film yet but I hear it differs quite substantially from the book - I'll definitely be renting the DVD when its released 3/5

Also reviewed this month
Slated, Teri Terry (2012) - click here for review
Seriously...I'm Kidding, Ellen DeGeneres (2011) - click here for review
Matched, Allie Condie (2010) - click here for review
Dash & Lily's Book Of Dares, Rachel Cohn & David Levithan (2009) - click here for review

In January I've manged to reach 5/52 books for my 2013 challenge! Find me on Goodreads here
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Monday, 28 January 2013

On The TBR Shelf

TBR shelf
 
This is just a section of 'to-be-read' books that I have lying around in my room right now. I'm calling it my TBR shelf for the purposes of this post but I don't currently actually have any shelves and I'm using doorstops as bookends...but let's get back to the books!

First up will be the ones sitting on the top which as you can see are all library books (embarrassingly mostly YA) and at the moment I'm planning to post full reviews here of Cinder and The Kill Order once I've finished them. I'm also currently reading another library book - vN by Madeline Ashby.

If I ever manage to get through all of those library books I will be starting on the row underneath which are (all except one) books I own, mainly picked up from charity shops. I must admit these aren't all of the books I own that I haven't read yet however the ones in the photograph above are those that I'm aiming to definitely get read in 2013. I'm down to be reviewing City Of Bones and Big Fish in full over at Blogger's Bookshelf soon so I'd better get reading!

Those who remember my DIY Kindle case post from last July may recognise my Kindle sitting in the top left corner which is of course also filled with TBR titles. With the Kindle I find its best to add books I'm interested in to my wish list, purchase them when they are on offer and save them up to be read at a later date, so naturally I have a few stored up. I've also been lucky enough to receive a few eARCs for consideration and review including Black Feathers, If You Find Me and Ender's World so I'll be busy reading those as well.

If you would like to see any of these books in particular reviewed in full let me know in the comments :)

Whats on your TBR shelf?

Don't forget to check back tomorrow for my January Reads post to see mini reviews of the books I've been reading this month. You can also find me on Goodreads here
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Sunday, 27 January 2013

Sunday DIY: Paint Chip Notebooks

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I'd love to see your DIY creations so if you make your own Paint Chip Notebooks or follow any other tutorials from the DIY Archive don't forget to tweet or email me a photo!
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Saturday, 26 January 2013

Uneven Stripe Nails


This is a really simple way to wear stripes on your nails without going for the usual vertical stripes design. Here's how I created it and which polishes I used...

- First I painted my nails with a clear base coat followed by two coats of OPI's Live & Let Die
- Next I took Topshop's Lead and painted it onto the top two thirds of the nail, leaving the bottom third in the OPI shade
- To finish off I added a thin gold stripe across the join using NYX Antique and a thin paintbrush, followed by my favourite topcoat

How do you like to wear stripes?
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Thursday, 24 January 2013

Gangster Squad

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Gangster Squad (2013), dir. Ruben Fleisher
Runtime 113 minutes, BBFC rating 15

Gangster Squad is set in 1940s L.A. and tells the story of a group of police officers who came together in an attempt to take down real life mob king Mickey Cohen. The plot and characters are both based on reality and whilst I don’t know a lot about how the actual events played out its safe to say this version is pretty loose with the facts.

The film boasts an impressive cast of famous names including Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling leading the police squad, Emma Stone who plays the very much underdeveloped ‘damsel in distress’ character Grace and Cohen himself is portrayed by Sean Penn. With a list of names like that and support from the likes of Nick Nolte, Robert Patrick and Giovanni Ribisi you would probably expect to see great performances across the board. Sean Penn’s portrayal in particular was very hard to take seriously and seemed over exaggerated the majority of the time. In contrast Brolin was a good choice for the role of Sergeant O’Hara the leader of the squad who had absolutely no strategy but was also a very likable ‘good guy’ type. Similarly Patrick and Ribisi were well-cast in their respective supporting roles as Officers Kennard and Keeler.

Directed by Ruben Fleisher, best known for 2009’s Zombieland a film with it’s own distinctive styling, you would expect to see something visually striking and Gangster Squad is definitely that. The fact that everything from the cinematography and colouring to the costumes and even the closing credits is boldly styled helps to distract from the poor script which alone would fall completely flat. Gangster Squad does deserve a little credit though as there were certainly a few good lines mixed in amongst the overall lacking script.

The film is packed with plenty of action in the form of violence, with fist fights, plenty of shooting throughout and even the occasional car chase. However there is another element that just keeps cropping up and that is slow-motion sequences. To be honest it’s a bit of a slow-motion overload however I will say that I thought this technique was fairly well-used in a couple of particular scenes, one set in a hotel lobby near the very end and earlier on in a prison breakout.

If you really enjoy sequences shot in slow-motion and are willing not to take the film too seriously then you may just find you love Gangster Squad. On the other hand if you’re looking for a historically accurate portrayal of 40s L.A. you won’t find it here. Unfortunately, although entertaining at times, I felt the script really let down a plot and cast that had the potential to produce something great. If there’s one thing Gangster Squad is its visually striking, but you’ll have to decide for yourself whether that’s enough. 2.5/5

2halfeee
 
 Image via collider.com
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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

High Street vs. High End - Backpacks

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1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10
  
Recently I've been on the lookout for the perfect backpack which isn't my preferred everyday bag style. I'm mainly searching for something practical to take with me on day trips where I want to carry a camera but also the essentials like water, snacks, money, keys etc. As it turns out there are a huge amount of styles to choose from and a broad range of prices to match so today's post is all about showcasing just some of the types that are available.
 
High Street - First up is a faux leather fringed design by H&M which priced at £14.99 seems fairly reasonable although it is very small. Personally I quite like the fringing, studs and overall grunge style of this backpack but I don't think it's particularly practical! My second lower priced pick is this cute bunny print bag from ASOS. As a bunny owner I think the print is adorable but I also really love the burgundy shade. If bunnies aren't your thing you may like this alternative navy horse print version instead. Next up is another animal print, this time by Accessorize which features an unusual bumble bee print. I love the fact that this bag has lots of pockets for extra storage space and again it is available with a different print - 'swash buckle' stripes. The most expensive of the more affordable choices comes from Topshop and is made from a slightly impractical but stylish monochrome boucle fabric. For a more simple design Matalan comes out on top with this plain canvas backpack for only £12, a bargain buy which is also available in another neutral shade.

High End - The first higher priced design carries on the Aztec trend and is part of a collection inspired by the designer's travels around South America. I really love the pop of colour as well as the tassel detailing and as a bonus it can also be worn as a shoulder bag! As you can see I have also chosen another design from the collection, the slightly cheaper Belar backpack which retails for just over £108. If you are looking to spend a little more on a bag I would definitely recommend taking a look at Sabrina Tach designs as the range as a whole is really lovely. I couldn't resist including the Alviero Martini geo backpack, even though it has a crazy price tag of over £460, because I love the idea of the travel inspired print. The Studio Harlen leather monochrome design which is made to order, has a great shape and is designed to be able to fit a laptop so would be more practical for everyday use. My final higher priced choice is from ASOS' Premium collection and is made of a beautiful grey suede fabric. The simple design and neutral colours mean it would look stylish with any outfit.

My personal favourites from each side are the ASOS burgundy bunny print backpack (surprise surprise!) for the more affordable end of the scale and the Sabrina Tach designs for a little more luxury.

Which of these 10 is your favourite?
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Sunday, 20 January 2013

Sunday DIY: Spiked Headband

sunday diy spiked headband

Stylish and edgy spiked headbands have been all over the high street lately but with most priced at around £10 making your own version can work out much cheaper!

You can find spike beads on eBay or Etsy however if you don't want to buy them online why not pick up a cheap spike bead bracelet and use those instead? Matalan have a rose gold one that would be perfect for this project and its only £1.50!

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diy spiked headband tutorial

Do you like the spiked headband trend?
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Sunday, 13 January 2013

Sunday DIY: Paper Bead Jewellery

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This week's DIY project is first to going to show you how to make basic paper beads and then how to use them to make jewellery pieces that are completely unique! The beads are very simple to make and you don't need a lot of materials, the jewellery will require a few more supplies and tools but is still very easy to do.
 
To make paper beads you will need - old magazines or other papers, a paintbrush, something round to form the beads on - I use a crochet hook , scissors and PVA glue. A bamboo skewer is optional for drying the beads

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The first step is to cut out the strips which will form the beads. These can be as long and as wide as you like but they should be slightly tapered at one end. Remember, the widest end of the paper will be the width of your finished bead

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Next take your strip of paper and wrap it tightly round the crochet hook once. Apply a small amount of PVA glue just below this and continue wrapping the paper tightly around the hook until you have a cm or two left. Apply a little more glue to this last section and finish wrapping

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You should then end up with a bead that looks something like this. Slide the bead off of the hook and set aside for later. Repeat this process until you have made as many beads as you like and then you're ready to glaze them

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To make the glazing process easier I slid my beads onto a skewer so that I could glaze them all in one go without getting covered in glue myself! Paint each bead all over with a layer of PVA glue - this will make them more durable and will also add shine

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Once they are dry you can slide them off the skewer and they're ready to use for your jewellery piece! If you want to you can cut the beads down to a smaller size before you use them.
 
To make a bracelet or necklace like the ones shown above just thread the bead onto your chain or cord. Alternatively follow the steps below to make a pair of earrings...

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To make the earrings you will need - two paper beads, two eyepins, two large round beads, two earring hooks, a piece of delicate chain, jewellery pliers (preferably flat & round nosed) & wire cutters

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Thread a round bead followed by a paper bead onto an eyepin. Take your flat-nosed jewellery pliers and bend the end of the eyepin

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Using round-nosed pliers bend the rest of the remaining wire into a spiral shape to make sure the bead is secure. Next cut two matching pieces of chain, open up the eyepin and earring hook using the pliers, thread on the chain and close them up again. Repeat the whole process and your earrings are finished!

Have you ever made your own beads?
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Saturday, 12 January 2013

Bunny Snapshots #1

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No words necessary...! 
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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

LUSH Eyes Right Mascara

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When most people go shopping for a new mascara they're looking for one that does it all. They want length, volume, curl and staying power but for me its all about finding one that doesn't irritate my sensitive eyes, so when I saw this on the LUSH website I knew I had to try it.

The Basics -  The product description explains how the use of natural ingredients and only one preservative as opposed to the average 4-6. These are generally what causes irritation meaning it is perfect for sensitive eyes. The main ingredient is Wheatgrass which contains vitamins and minerals to help condition your lashes (and also smells really good!). It contains Carnauba wax which helps it to set and stay in place all day making it waterproof too.

Unusual Packaging? - The first thing you'll probably notice about this product is how different the packaging is to other mascaras on the market. As much as I want to love the compact packaging it does have its flaws the first being that it is made of glass and therefore fairly fragile. The final photo above shows the other flaw (and my main issue with this product overall) sometimes when you unscrew the lid and pull it up the brush is no longer attached to it meaning that if you want to reattach it to the lid it gets very messy! Of course this can be easily fixed with a little glue but its pretty annoying that the problem exists in the first place.

Is It As Easy To Apply As Other Mascaras? - Yes, and no... As you can tell from the photographs the wand is very short so it can be tricky to use but the brush itself is a normal sized slightly tapered bristle brush.

How Does It Look & Wear? - Clearly this is a black mascara (I usually opt for brown but it isn't available in other colours) but it isn't one of those 'supposed to be black but is actually dark grey' type of shades - it really is black. Just as the instructions state you can apply one coat for a natural everyday look or build it up for a more dramatic appearance. I wouldn't say it lengthens any more than other mascaras and you can achieve the volume others would give by applying several coats. I haven't had any problems with it flaking or smudging throughout the day either.

Is It Really Suitable For Sensitive Eyes? - In my case, yes. The most impressive thing about this mascara is that for me it does live up to it's claims. I can't explain how much of a difference it has made to have my eyes not get itchy or irritated everyday when I'm wearing it.

Although the packaging is far from perfect the fact that this mascara is completely comfortable for me to wear everyday more than makes up for that - my search for a sensitive eyes friendly mascara is over!

Have you tried Eyes Right?
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Saturday, 5 January 2013

Dash & Lily's Book Of Dares

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“I’ve left some clues for you. If you want them, turn the page. If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.” Source

 Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares tells the story of two New York teens who meet through a series of dares written in a red moleskin notebook. The story begins when Dash, a self confessed ‘horribly bookish’ boy, finds a red notebook marked ‘Do You Dare?’ hidden within the shelves of his favourite bookshop. Intrigued by the mysterious notebook Dash decides to find out what is inside, discovers the initial instructions and out of boredom decides to take up the dare. It turns out that the book was left there by Lily an enthusiastic, quirky girl with an eccentric taste in clothing, the idea being that it might lead her to her perfect match. 

The story is set around Christmas time and one of the first things we learn is that Dash hates the festive season and Lily loves it. This turned out to be the perfect setting for this particular story as certain elements of it would not have worked at any other time of year. Similarly the location setting of New York was well suited to these characters and their journey. Personally I found both of the main characters rather unlikeable, they weren’t your average teenage leads which on the one hand was refreshing however they were at times quite pretentious which made them feel unrealistic and made it easy to forget their age.

One of the interesting things about this book is that it is a collaborative piece with Rachel Cohn writing as Lily and David Levithan writing as Dash. The format of alternating the chapters between characters and therefore their corresponding authors was something I felt worked very successfully. The book isn’t very long (274 pages on Kindle) so is a super quick read perfect for it’s YA target audience. 

Although I did enjoy parts of Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares my interest did falter the further I read and I didn’t enjoy the ending. The collaborative format coupled with the idea of communicating through the notebook were what kept my interest and in the end saved the book from receiving a lower rating. Although it hasn’t encouraged me to read any of Cohn & Levithan’s other collaborative works it has made me think about taking the time to read more titles outside of my usual go-to genres. 3/5 

3stareee

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Thursday, 3 January 2013

OPI Number One Nemesis

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number one nemesis opi
 OPI Number One Nemesis £7.25 - buy here

Number One Nemesis was the only polish from last year's Amazing Spider-Man collection that caught my eye. This super shimmery micro glitter filled green-based shade stood out to me as the most unique of the collection.
Initially when I received the polish I was a little disappointed, the shade reminded me of Topshop's Zodiac which looked like a green in the bottle but showed silver when applied on the nails. Luckily I was pleasantly surprised when I applied Number One Nemesis to find that it really is a true khaki green. Like the other OPI shades I have reviewed I was impressed with the application, opacity and staying power of the polish when paired with my favourite top coat Sally Hansen Insta-Dri. Considering this alongside the fact I happen to be a fan of green polishes and mid-dark shades in general Number One Nemesis ticks all the boxes for me.

Do you own any polishes from the Amazing Spider-Man collection?
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Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Planning.

Although it is January 1st I'm not interested in making New Year's resolutions however I have been planning a few little tweaks for my blog and now that the Christmas themed posts are out of the way it seems like an appropriate time to make these changes. Although this post isn't exactly necessary I thought it would be easier to write it all down in one go instead of explaining new formats in individual posts.

Week In Photos & Lifestyle - The one thing that you all seem most interested in from these posts is seeing the bunnies (totally understandable, I love seeing those little faces too!) so I'm taking that on board and will be trying to blog about them a little more frequently from now on. I will be also be posting 'Quick Catchup's (like this one) every now and again along with other 'lifestyle' posts including the odd recipe, shop updates, photography, artwork, journal updates etc

Style, Nail Art & Reviews - Style is what I initially started blogging about back in 2010 and is definitely an element I want to keep around. Style inspiration posts will still be popping up here, just not every week. I am aiming to vary them more and introduce a series similar to my popular Zoe Hart style posts showing how to 'get the look' of other characters. Nail art tutorials and product reviews will also still be making an appearance.

Film - I haven't posted a film roundup since October! These used to be my favourite posts to write but for me 2012 didn't deliver on the new releases front leaving me feeling uninspired to write about them. With titles including Ender's Game, The Gangster Squad, Catching Fire, City Of Bones, World War Z and Iron Man 3 already on my hit list for 2013 I'm hoping this year will be bringing me lots of amazing new releases to write about so I can get back on track! This year I'm planning to focus more on writing full review posts on films I want to talk about instead of including them all in a roundup style.

Books & Reading - Since Ria and I started our collaborative book blog (find it here) back in September I have been posting two full book reviews per month there and just monthly roundups including mini reviews here. As a new member of Netgalley I have some extra books in the form of eARCs to review so I'm going to be posting a few full reviews here as well.

DIY & Crafts - Amongst the changes the one thing you can count on staying exactly the same are my Sunday DIYs! Over the last six months I have really gotten into a proper routine with these and they have quickly become my most popular posts which is amazing because I love to craft, photograph and write for them. I enjoyed my Halloween themed month of DIY challenges alongside Skye so much that I am looking for you guys to challenge me with your DIY ideas and themes this year (click here for more information) so please let me know if you want to get involved!

Finding a good sign off for posts would be a good idea too!


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