Saturday, 29 October 2016

My Top 5 Autumnal Nail Shades

I'm a nail polish addict...I'll admit that I probably have far more shades that any human would need - 120 bottles and counting, but I'm not ashamed. Out of them all, I would have to say that the autumnal colours are the best from warm reds to rich purples. I have included really affordable, good quality brands. So, here are my five favourite autumnal nail polishes. 

1. Barry M - Dark Side of the 'Shroom: This is from the 'Sunset Gel' collection and I love it! After painting this on your nails, apply the 'Sunset Gel' top coat. The end result will be a beautiful gel effect'll be looking like a professional in no time.

2. Essie - In Stitches: I included this one in my recent 'My Current Beauty Picks' post and I'm mentioning it again. It's so pretty and has autumn written all over it. 

3. Barry M - Guava: This is from the 'Gelly Hi-Shine' collection and it's slightly different to the other colours in this post but I had to include it. It may not seem like the typical red-toned autumn shades but for me this one is stunning in autumn. It's so rich and and the teal colour is a lovely alternative to the red-purple shades.

4. Bourjois - Rouge Escarpin: This is the ultimate Christmas red - enough said!

5. Revlon - Impulsive: Finally, is this dark purple. A while back I was searching for the perfect dark purple and I found this one by Revlon. It applies so easily and looks amazing once completed with a top coat!

Monday, 24 October 2016

An Afternoon Tea

Things have been very busy with me over the past week, as I have been celebrating my 18th birthday...FINALLY! One of the highlights throughout all of the celebrations was having afternoon tea. In Belfast, we have a very fancy hotel called The Merchant. The inside of the building is incredible with stunning architecture. We had our afternoon tea in the 'Great Hall', which is a rather grand (slight understatement) room as you walk through main doors. 

They have about 103 (roughly) varieties of tea to choose from but I had coffee, which was a little less exotic! They brought us a selection of sandwiches which were delicious then we tucked into scones with jam and clotted cream. The selection of buns and pastries was even more amazing from a lemon and ginger macaroon to a raspberry and rose chocolate sphere - my personal favourite. Just to make it even better, what you don't eat they put into a fancy box for you to take home. To top it all off, they brought me out a mini birthday cake with a little, gold candle.

So, to anyone celebrating a birthday, anniversary or if you're just feeling exotic...take a visit to The Merchant and try out their afternoon tea!

Saturday, 15 October 2016

15 Things That Make Me Smile

For me the little things in life make me the happiest and often they're the most important. So, here are fifteen things that make me no particular order because they're all the best. 

1. Going for a walk - Especially in the crisp, winter air.

2. Lighting a candle - The candle I'm using right now is called 'Tranquility' and the name itself makes me feel calm.

3. My dog - Riley is the cutest, fluffiest bundle of joy I have ever witnessed.

4. Fresh sheets - I'm definitely not the only one who loves this!

5. Travel - Experiencing new places and cultures is one of life's greatest pleasures.

6. Doing my makeup

7. Photography - That satisfaction when I achieve the perfect shot!

8. Coffee - Enough said.

9. Reading - I've just got Estee Lalonde's new book 'Bloom' and it's amazing!

10. Spontaneity - either completely spontaneous or completely in between for me!

11. Online shopping - You can look at everything you want without leaving the sofa!

12. Freshly painted nails

13. Pyjamas - Especially fluffy ones!

14. Autumn - Every colour, a carpet of leaves and cold air...can't beat it!

15. Making lists - As you can imagine making this blog post was very enjoyable for an organisation and list freak...

Monday, 10 October 2016

Getting Personal

As it's World Mental Health Day, I thought I'd share something a little more personal - my experience with mental illness.

As I sit in a room filled with people, I feel so alone. I look around trying to focus on something, anything, but for some reason my brain doesn't allow me. I try to listen to someone speaking or focus on a conversation but I cannot concentrate past two words. I try to retell a story or a conversation I've just heard but my memory fails me. I get out a book in an attempt to escape from the world around me, but the words dance across the page, not forming real sentences.  I am trapped inside my own head. I have depression.

People associate depression with a constant feeling of sadness but rather it's a feeling of nothingness. For me, the sadness comes in waves - sometimes I feel numb with nothing going through my head, other times I feel everything at once and it is completely overwhelming. I cannot think straight sometimes, or on occasions not at all. It's as if there is a fog or black hole inside my head, preventing me from thinking properly. All I can do is wait for it to pass. I can't think about the future because all I have the ability to do is concentrate on getting myself through each day. Things just don't excite me. 

It's not just a mental illness, but a physical illness to the same extent - I'm constantly exhausted, my bones ache, I have no energy, I'm dizzy and my head is thumping. I'm so mentally tired that I struggle to have a proper conversation. I can hardly even find the energy to work out what I'm thinking myself. People ask how I am and my response is "I'm not too bad" because I can't form a simple sentence to describe how I'm feeling so it's easier to lie. I feel so distanced from life, people and myself. I feel like I am suffocating inside my own head and I can't escape it. 

I had to leave school, I couldn't even sit some of my most important exams after being predicted 4As, and thinking about the route I would now take has been a scary process. I've had to cancel events, seeing friends and I could barely leave the house for  several weeks as I would feel so disorientated. The only people I could spend time with was my family. People often ignore me as they don't know what to say but unfortunately that is the worst thing they could do. Receiving cards and messages meant a lot as I could begin to accept that I wasn't alone. Aside from a lot of negative thoughts and changed opinions, that weren't really my own but a product of the illness, what many people don't realise is that I'm still me, I can still have a laugh and make jokes (excluding the dark sense of humour I have formed as a coping mechanism). When I'm not quite myself, I won't burden anyone with that. 

Even though I was only diagnosed with depression around 5 months ago, I had been struggling with occasional depressive episodes and anxiety for about 2 years. After experiencing a breakdown, I have now reached the recovery stage. I'm now able to go out more, see people, read and have normal conversations. However, as some people may not realise, the recovery stage does not mean I don't feel the things I did - I am still extremely fragile and I will still dip quite often. These dark moments are particularly scary during the recovery stage as the thought of going back to where I was is extremely unpleasant. My mood can change in a matter of seconds, often with no trigger. Finding the right medication is a very long and difficult process and the side effects are nearly as bad as illness.

I take each day a step at a time, trying not to plan or think too far ahead. Set myself small targets - sometimes having a shower is the greatest thing I'll achieve, but I've learnt that it's okay not to be okay. One of the most important things is not to give up, especially when the only thing that seems possible to you is cocooning yourself in a blanket. Allow yourself to be vulnerable - writing this post is a big deal for me as I'm usually a pretty private person, but it's healthy to share how you feel as there are people that will feel exactly the same. Never blame yourself for the illness as it's a chemical thing that cannot be fixed by thinking differently. And finally, just be.

"The one who falls and gets up is so much stronger than the one who never fell." Anon. 

Mental illness, mental health awareness, beach


Saturday, 8 October 2016

My Current Beauty Picks

"I believe that all women are pretty without makeup and can be pretty powerful with the right makeup" - Bobbi Brown

There have been a few products that I have been slightly obsessed with over the past while so I thought I'd share them with you. Warning - you may become slightly obsessed with them too.

1. Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation: This may not be to everyone's taste as it's quite a thick foundation but for evening wear and special occasions, I have been loving this foundation. This is a high coverage and long-lasting foundation that will cover all of those imperfections and blemishes, that you just can't get rid off. As someone who has very pale skin and pink undertones, I find it hard to get good colour-matches in foundations but with the wide range of shades I was able to find the perfect match for my skin tone.

2. Nivea Express Hydration Primer: When I started using this primer, it came as quite a surprise how much I liked it. This is extremely moisturising and refreshing which is perfect for those dry patches that makeup likes to clump around. With quite a thin consistency it soaks in effortlessly, while still leaving a lovely base for foundation. If you're like me and spend your money a little too quickly, this is perfect as it's very affordable.

3. Urban Decay Gwen Stefani Eye Shadow Palette: When I managed to pick this up in the sale I was very happy, to say the least. With a beautiful array of shades this suits a natural, everyday look or a more dramatic look. With some of my other palettes, I had quite a lot of fall-down which resulted in having to cake on the under eye concealer but luckily for me I've had no fall-down with these eye shadows as well as very easy blending. 

4. NYX Lip Products: When NYX appeared in my local Boots store I was inappropriately excited, so of course I raided the would be rude not too! I was drawn towards the lip products and wasn't disappointed. They aren't overly long-lasting but to me that doesn't matter when they're so affordable. I've been loving the soft matte lip cream in the shade 'Cannes' and the butter gloss in the shade 'Angel Food Cake'.

5. Essie's 'In Stitches': I can imagine myself re-applying this nail polish for the whole of Autumn - I don't think I could find a more perfect Autumnal shade. It goes without saying that the Essie nail polishes are so easy to apply and you'll always end up with a very pretty manicure. I will definitely be re-purchasing this shade, when I finish this bottle, without fail. 


Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Oreo Cake

As a lover of oreos I decided to make an Oreo cake for my mum's birthday and thankfully it went down very well. This is a cake that you can decorate any way you like and for me that was the best part...though I had to stop myself before I got carried away. So, without waffling on, here is the recipe that I used to create this amazing cake.

Ingredients for the Sponge

  • 175g butter (room temp.)
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs (beaten)
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 180(deg. celsius)/350(deg. fahrenheit)/Gas Mark 4. (Or if you have an Aga, don't worry about temperatures, just 'turf' it in!)
2. Cream butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl with hand-held mixer until mixture is pale, light and fluffy
3. Add eggs gradually, beating after each addition. Add sifted flour and salt to the mixture and fold with metal spoon or spatula. Split the mixture equally between the tins.
4. Place them in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until risen, golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.
5. Remove from oven and leave to stand for 1 minute. Place the cakes onto a wire rack and leave to cool.

Ingredients for Buttercream
  • 1 pack of Oreos
  • 250g butter
  • 3-400g icing sugar (sifted)
  • 2-3 drops vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons mils
*I used this buttercream recipe as a rough guide - you can adjust volumes depending on the amount of buttercream needed 

1. Beat butter until creamy then add icing sugar and vanilla

2. Add a tablespoon of milk if the mixture is dry or add icing sugar if the mixture is too wet
3. Blitz the Oreos in a processor then add 3/4 to the mixture 
4. Now for the fun part, decorate the cake any way you like using the frosting and remaining crushed Oreos. I used a palette knife to cover the cake in icing and a piping bag, mini Oreos and sprinkles to decorate the top of the cake.


Tuesday, 4 October 2016

My Top 5 Coffee Table Books

I love reading, I love books but most of all I love coffee table books. I don't just love them for the pretty covers but that is a huge part of it. From stunning photography to insightful guides, from timeless fashion to amazing cities, coffee table books will meet all of your reading needs...well, mine anyway. So, I'm going to let you in on my personal top 5 coffee table books.

1.  Lonely Planet's 'Ultimate Travelist': I love travelling as much as I love coffee table books so this one's perfect for me. The Ultimate Travelist ranks the 500 best places in the world and if you're anything like me you'll want to fly to all 500 places right after reading the book. Lonely Planet has created a book with jaw-dropping photos and beautiful descriptions that will look great on your coffee table. 

2.  Giuseppe Santamaria's 'Women in This Town': If you love fashion as much as I do, this is the ideal book for you. Women in This Town visits 6 different cities and displays photographs of the street style on regular people. It also includes interviews with people, from each city, who have made their mark in fashion. This is a very stylish book that left me feeling rather uncool but inspired after reading it.

3.  Isabelle Thomas & Frederique Veysset's 'Paris Street Style': If I had the chance, I would definitely be a Parisian girl but that isn't going to happen soon, so this book is the closest I'll get. This book presents a flawless guide to achieve that Parisian chic that we all want. From accessories to the little black dress this book contains everything you need to know.

4.  Megan Hess' 'The Dress': With it's golden pages and black and white details, this is quite possibly the prettiest book I own - and I own a lot of books! Photograph free, The Dress displays incredible illustrations of iconic dresses, the icons that wore them and the designers that created them. After flicking through this book you'll most likely be jealous of the talented illustrating ability of Megan Hess that completes the book.

5.  Brandon Stanton's 'Humans of New York': If you aren't left feeling very inspired after reading this book then I suggest you read it again. Photographer, Brandon Stanton, perfectly captures the images and stories of ordinary New Yorkers to create a very interesting and heart-warming book. 

An insight into 'The Burning Wick'

My first blog post...exciting or scary? I can't quite decide. I'm Katie, just your bog standard girl from Northern Ireland but I have decided to embark on a new adventure - creating a blog. My blog will include beauty, food, travel, fashion and basically whatever I'm in the mood to write. 

I've always loved the idea of creating my own blog and while I'm on a year out from education, I thought, what better time to try it out? You may be wondering where the name 'The Burning Wick' came from. Unfortunately, it's nothing terribly inspiring or jaw-dropping - I just love the sound of a crackling flame on a wooden wick  as it makes me feel calm and I thought it sounded like a catchy name. 

So there you have it, an insight into 'The Burning Wick'. If you're reading this, thank you and I'm very relieved that someone out there is reading my very first blog post...please come back for the second!

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