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My First Impressions: BirchBox X Vogue

I recently subscribed to the Birchbox. Each month you get a five beauty bits, makeup, skincare, and haircare to try for £10 per month: most of them are minis – but you get a decent sample size.

I have to be honest, I’m often a bit disappointed by the contents for example, in two of my recent boxes I got coffee scrubs (that I can’t use because of my eczema) and sometimes the makeup is in colours I’d never wear (shimmery dusky pink eyeshadow anyone?). BUT I was very happy when I opened the November box and I’m going to share my first impressions of the products below.

Birchbox Lisabeth Westwood

Seche Vite: Dry Fast Top Coat

Seche Vite Birchbox Lisabeth westwood

I had heard lots of things about this Seche Vite top coat. Lots of bloggers and YouTubers have raved about it so I was very excited when I got a full-size bottle in my Birchbox. I immediately got out my nail varnishes and went to town. Initially, I was impressed: my varnish dried really quickly and my nails looked pretty and shiny. However, less than 24 hours later, the varnish on one of my nails had flaked off entirely and now (3 days into wear), it looks absolutely terrible. Granted I have only tried it with one nail varnish so I will give it another go with a different brand but I was so disappointed.

Rating: 1/5

Benefit: Hoola

Benefit hoola birchbox Lisabeth Westwood

I have used Benefit’s Hoola before so this is less of a first impressions. It is a good-sized mini but the packaging isn’t great quality – the lid doesn’t stay closed – so I wouldn’t want to travel with it. I don’t wear bronzer very often but I love this one. It is matt, a nice neutral colour (no scary orange bronzer here!), and has great wear time. I’m excited to start bronzing up my very pale face again this winter.

Rating: 3/5 (would have been 4/5 but the packaging let it down).

Percy & Reed: Smooth, Sealed & Sensational Hair Oil

Birchbox Percy & Reed hair oil Lisabeth Westwood

I have wavy/curly hair and use a hair oil everytime I shower as otherwise my hair would be frizz-central. I gave this a whirl yesterday and I was very happy with the results. It smells great and left my hair soft, frizz-free, and didn’t make my roots oily.  I’m excited to add this product into my haircare routine and, as you only use a few drops each time, this mini should last me ages. I’d definitely invest in the full-size.

Rating:5/5

Birchbox: Brush Cleaner

Birchbox brush cleaner Lisabeth Westwood

I don’t know about you but cleaning my brushes is a task I absolutely hate. It takes ages and you end up covered in eyeshadow and goop. Therefore, I was keen to give this brush cleaner a go – anything that will make it quicker to clean my brushes so that I can go do something more fun. It worked really well, especially with eyeshadow brushes. You just spray a little brush cleaner on the brush and swirl it around on silicone pad. Easy and clean to use, it has changed my brush cleaning life.

Rating: 5/5

L’Occitane en Provence: Shea Butter Hand Cream

Birchbox handcream Lisabeth Westwood L'Occitane

This handcream is the perfect addition to your handbag. It is small but a little of the cream goes a long way. As it has shea butter in it, it is a very thick, nourishing cream so it is great for winter when your skin gets dry and uncomfortable. As I mentioned earlier, I have eczema but this didn’t irritate my skin and the fragrance is subtle.

Rating: 4/5

 

I’m back…sort of

When I started this blog over  eighteen months ago I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I tried it for about six months before deciding to put the blog on a semi-permanent hiatus. Honestly, I wasn’t really enjoying it.

There were many reasons why I wasn’t loving the process. The main one was that I wasn’t creating the content that I really wanted to put out. There was a good argument for this – no one else would probably be interested. I am a PhD student studying medieval literature but I’m also mildly into make-up, skincare, and watch more YouTube videos than is probably sensible. My interests are varied and my lifestyle is very different from most. I’m not quite a student and not quite a researcher. I have very little money, lots of flexibility, and almost no future job stability. My concerns about the academic job market, the demands of academia and research, and the day-to-day nonsense of trying to write a thesis don’t make for a very fun blog.

So when I was putting out my first 30 blog posts – I felt like I had to conform to an existing standard. There were so many other bloggers talking about how to run a sucessful blog, how to get and maintain followers and readers, how to do the perfect flatlay. I didn’t feel like I, my interests, and asethetics fit in. I still have no desire to own anything with marble effect or  a blush pink fluffy cushion. Because of all this, I decided to stop – but now I’m back.

I’m not expecting my blog posts to get many views and I’m not planning on pushing my blog on social media. Rather I’m going to use this platform for me. To write about things that interest and are important to me. For the most part, I just want to practice my writing. I’m in the third year of my PhD now and, over the next eighteen months, I’m going to be writing 100,000 words. I need to get used to sitting down and writing.

I’m not going to committ to a certain number of posts per week – that seems like setting myself up for failure – but I’m going to try put something up fairly regularly. Let’s see how this goes….

Academic Year and You

Hiatus

I have not been at all active on here or on Twitter for the past month and I think it is likely to stay this way. I have decided to have a semi-permanent hiatus on blogging. I enjoyed elements of blogging but I have to concentrate on my PhD. I’m leaving the door open to start blogging again in the future but this looks unlikely to happen any time soon.

Thanks to everyone who has supported my blog, spoke to me on Twitter, and met me in real life!

What I think about blogging

It is a Sunday evening. I’ve had my dinner, I’ve got a glass of red, and I’m thinking about blogging.

I started blogging in May as I was looking for a hobby that didn’t require any money and that I could do from the comfort of my living room. But, to be honest, I haven’t enjoyed it as much as I thought I would.

It goes through peaks and troughs: sometimes I am at every Twitter chat in existence and I read lots of other blogs but I’m currently in a bit of a slump. I’m feeling similar with YouTube – I subscribe to a lot of channels and I used to really love catching up with videos but, more and more, I’m finding myself to be frustrated or bored with the content. This is partly because I have a very strict budget so can’t buy many clothes or new beauty items so huge hauls aren’t interesting to me and I end up thinking ‘Who needs this much stuff?!‘.

With my own blog, well I don’t think I have much to say. I never found ‘my niche’. I’d really like to write more about my PhD and life as a researcher but I know that isn’t interesting to everyone. Plus readers who are within the academy tend to want to put a blog to a name and I use a pseudonym. So I feel a bit lost and it is making me not want to write.

Going to the Bloggers Blog Awards was such a good experience. I loved meeting other bloggers and everyone was so friendly, yet it didn’t leave me inspired, more frustrated with my lack of committment to my blog.

What does this mean for the Lisabeth Westwood blog? I’m not sure yet but I’m not ready to quit. I guess just watch this space.

My Lazy Saturday Photo Diary

I have been a busy bee over the past few weeks! The academic year is well under way and I’m teaching (!) so I’ve been a bit lax on the blogging front. So rather than not posting, I thought I’d do a bit of a photo diary of my Saturday.

9amLisabeth Westwood coffee

My day began, as all my Saturdays do, with a cup of black filter coffee in bed. I like to chill out with a coffee and a book to ease my way into the day.

10amLisabeth Westwood coffee tshirt

I then got up, ready, and dressed. I love this t-shirt, my friend David bought it for me years ago but it does mean that lots of people stare at your chest trying to read it!

fullsizerender-10

I went for pretty minimal make up. Look at the state of the blusher – I think I’ll have to invest in some new stuff soon!

10.30am

I had decided that I wanted to have a cooking marathon so I settled down with my cookbooks to find some recipes to try. This beef dish looked so great and pretty easy but I ended up being boring and making spaghetti and meatballs instead!

11am

Having seen the state of my make up earlier I decided to treat myself. I headed to Superdrug picking up the MicroEyeliner and a lipstick in 05 from Rimmel – it is a lovely dark pink shade with a hint of shimmer. And I got a translucent powder for £1. Being a PhD student I don’t often get to buy make-up so I got over excited and swatched pretty much every lipstick they had on my hand.

12pm

The recipe I had chosen for lunch came from the Meatless Mondays cookbook which has LOADS of recipe ideas. They tend to be more indulgent side than the Madeline Shaw but I found a recipe for Tuscan bean soup. Doesn’t look very good but it tasted delicious!

1.30pm

Lisabeth Westwood

Then it was Bake Off time. I love it when they do the historical episodes so I chilled out with some cookies and a cuppa. That show is proper comfort watching, it just makes me happy.

2.30pm

Lisabeth Westwood

I got given loads of books when one of my friends left Leeds and they are all easy-going, romance-y type novels. So I picked one of those up and huddled down on my sofa for a good couple of hours reading.

4pm

Lisabeth Westwood work

But then…I had to work 😦

6pm

After I did a couple of hours work , I called the boyfriend and watched 10 Things I Hate About You. The soundtrack to that film is pure 90s perfection and I have a bit of an obsession with Julia Stiles’ films like Save the Last Dance.

My day was not exciting but that is honestly what I do on a weekend by myself. I usually save up all the fun stuff for when my boyfriend is visiting but I do enjoy staying at home reading and making lots of food.

 

My Day at the Bloggers Blog Awards

So my first blogger event was the Bloggers Blog Award on Saturday 1st October!

I was very nervous as I wasn’t going with anybody and I had never met a blogger in real life before but it was SUCH a good day. The awards were organised by Hayley at Tea Party Beauty and she did an amazing job! Everything ran so well and was a lot of fun so props to Hayley!

The day started off in a very relaxed way. I read a book and had a coffee in bed until it was time to get ready. I wore a Zara tartan dress and my favourite black leather boots from Office: it was nice to get dressed up for a change! My weekends tend to be more of stay at home, make loads of food, and watch TV kind of days so I was so excited to be out and about.

The awards took place in Canal Mills in Leeds so it was super convenient for me. I felt a little bit guilty because some people had come from hundreds of miles away and I had just popped in a taxi. The venue was really cool and there was tons of space, and they seem to do lots of different events there so I’ll definitely check it out again.

Lisabeth Westwood bloggers blog awards

When I got there, we had a couple of hours to grab some drinks and mingle. That was the bit I was the most nervous about as I had to just go up and chat to strangers but everyone was so nice! I met loads of amazing bloggers who were so interesting, wrote really cool blogs, and lots of them were there by themselves too so we ended up making little groups. As I write under a pseudonym, it was quite weird to have to introduce myself by my blog and real name! I met lots of really friendly and welcoming people but big thanks to Arash, Amy, and Becky for chatting to me when I was all alone!

The awards themselves were great: well done to all the people who were nominated and those who won! I took the opportunity to shove a cupcake in my face without anyone seeing me – it was lemony and delicious. I managed to not get buttercream on my nose or cake in my hair: winning at life.cupcake-wine

After the awards were over, it was time to do some more chatting and then draw the raffle. I didn’t win anything and there were so many good prizes 😦 I’m so envious of the person that won the Urban Decay lipstick case, I would have never had to buy a lipstick again!

raffle.jpg
Not my lucky numbers

The event came to an end and a bunch of us went to the Belgrave Music Hall for burgers and a beer. I had such a great day and evening – it was totally non-scary and I will definitely be heading to some more bloggers events in the future and next year’s awards!

 

I’m an Auntie!

In the early hours of Sunday morning, I became an auntie for the first time.

I have an older sister and for years neither of us were keen to start a family. But, all that changed this January when she announced that she was expecting! She had a little baby girl who came right on time and is the smallest, sweetest thing in the whole world. Am I a tad biased? Absolutely.

My sister and her boyfriend live in Brighton which is a long, LONG way from Leeds but I wasn’t going to miss the chance to meet the little one. So, I coughed up a hideous amount of money for a day return and spent 9 hours of yesterday on a train but it was totally worth it for my first cuddle.

I’d never held a new-born before and she is so tiny that I was afraid of hurting her. But I got used to it and we had lots of cuddles without her making any fuss. I can’t wait to visit in a few weeks with my boyfriend who is similarly unfamiliar with children and I can pretend to be all knowledgable.

When I was a child, I didn’t have much to do with my aunts and uncles. They either weren’t around very much or had their own grandchildren to look after. I don’t want that to be this case with my little niece: I’ll be the one dragging her round castles and trying to teach her French and Latin.

I wish I could show you all photos but her parents want to keep her off the internet so you’ll have to take my word that she is insanely cute. Can’t really believe it, I have a niece!!!!