Monday, 27 April 2015

Beauty | The Foundation Chronicles

Since my beloved Nars Sheer Glow Foundation has proven rather difficult to get hold of in the last year (has anyone else found this?) I decided it was about time I explored what other foundation options are out there.  I'm envisaging that this will be the first post in a mini series, and as I try out these foundations a little more, I'll do full in depth reviews.  In the meantime though, these are my initial thoughts about the foundations I've been trying...

Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser

Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser SPF30 (available here)
Although I bought this last year for the first time, I only really started using the Nars tinted moisturiser regularly when my usual foundation started running low.  Good news is that it's even better than I first thought; when my skin is behaving itself, it gives me a nice amount of coverage and a really pretty glow.  I think this will really come into it's own during the summer months, with just a touch of concealer and a slick of mascara and lip balm, I've got a really nice basic summer face.

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation SPF15 (available here)
This foundation is a little bit of a blast from the past for me, it was the first 'proper' foundation I bought when I first started wearing makeup regularly.  I loved it then because it looked just like really healthy skin and I've got to admit to really enjoying it now for the very same reason.  The coverage is light to medium but is easily buildable on those areas where you might need a little bit of extra help from time to time.  I like it best with a buffing brush, it takes no effort at all to blend into the skin.

Laura Mercier Silk Crème Moisturizing Photo Edition Foundation

Laura Mercier Silk Crème Moisturizing Photo Edition Foundation (available here)
The priciest of the foundations in this list, and the one I've used the least so far.  I was attracted to this foundation as I loved the medium coverage of the old Silk Crème Foundation but didn't like the more matte finish.  The new moisturising version promises to have the same great coverage but with a much dewier finish, I can't wait to get more acquainted with it!

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer (available here)
Of course a good foundation is nothing without a good canvass; recently I've been testing out the Foundation Primer from Laura Mercier.  It definitely gives me a noticeably smoother finish to my foundation, but honestly it doesn't compare to the Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer I've tried numerous samples of.  I will have to bite the bullet and get myself the full size version soon.

What foundations have you been trying and loving recently?  If you've found a good alternative to Nars Sheer Glow I'd love to hear from you.

Sharon x 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Film Review | Avengers: Age of Ultron at City Screen York

Picture the scene.  It's almost 1am on Friday morning, I should be tucked up in bed so I'm fresh and bright for work in the morning, but instead I'm tapping away at the keys on my laptop, starting this review.  Yeah I could wait until morning, but just over an hour ago I got home from City Screen in York and I want my thoughts after seeing Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron to be fresh.

I've been to the first screenings of countless films at my fave cinema over the years (many of them Marvel films) but hats off to City Screen, the opening night of Avengers: Age of Ultron was hands down the best.  Even just walking into screen 1 clutching the free Age of Ultron poster I'd been given on arrival, it was obvious this wasn't going to be the typically sedate British cinema experience.  The atmosphere was buzzing with anticipation; this was a room full of fans who were easily as eager as me for the film we were about to see.  I half expected the energy to be dampened somewhat by the usual round of lacklustre trailers, but there was none of that here.  We saw glimpses of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ant-Man and Jurassic World (amongst others) and after each trailer the room erupted into enthusiastic cheers and applause.  It was honestly so much fun, kind of how I imagine going to the cinema in the US would be.
My Age of Ultron poster

Now I'll admit that as the familiar Marvel Studios ident started rolling I had some nerves.  Nerves, you say?  Well yes, but not for the reasons you might imagine.  I had no concerns that this film wouldn't stand up well against the behemoths that Marvel has released in the last decate, but I know Joss Whedon's work well and I knew that along with a fantastical thrill ride, we'd be in for a bit of an emotional rollercoaster too.  I've been a huge Joss Whedon fan since I was 15 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer first started showing on BBC2 in the UK, I know all too well the pain this man can inflict on his characters.

But anyway, I digress, the Marvel titles ran and boom!  We were off... immediately immersed into the most magnificent opening shot, seriously this single shot action scene was glorious.  It was like I hadn't been waiting 2 years to see my favourite characters again; here they all were, taking down a Hydra outpost and just being generally epic.

Although the sheer scope of this film was stunning and the action that were treated to was a far bigger spectacle than it has been in Avengers Assemble, that wasn't the be all and end all of this film.  Our titular villain Ultron, was both menacing and hypnotic thanks to the dulcet tones of James Spader, but he was all the more compelling with Aaron Taylor-Johnson's Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch (the modified Maximoff twins) backing him.

Whilst each of the Avengers, our heroes, had their challenges and triumphant moments in this film (most resulting from Tony Stark's actions and the effects of the Scarlet Witch's powers) and Paul Bettany's J.A.R.V.I.S had some great character development, perhaps the most intriguing and unexpected scenes came when we explored the backgrounds of the Black Widow and Hawkeye; it gave us a much greater insight into their motivations and made their characters all the more ineresting.  The brewing animosity between Iron Man and Captain America also stood out, it gave a great sense of foreboding, but we'll have to wait until Civil War is released to see how that plays out.

Image source

You know I mentioned the pain earlier?  Well along with the action and the genius dialogue, that was there too; I won't give away any spoilers about the fates of our beloved characters but what Joss Whedon put them through was as surprising as it was heartbreaking.

Now I did say right at the start of the review that this was the best night of cinema I'd been to, but does that mean it was my favourite Marvel film?  Sadly not.  Although it was brilliant, capitvating and breathtaking, it couldn't topple Avengers Assemble and Guardians of the Galaxy from the top spot in my affections.  But perhaps it wasn't meant to; although satisfying in its own right and certainly better than some of the Marvel sequels in recent years, maybe the best role for this film will be to usher in what's coming next in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  We all know there are some exciting things on the schedule, with more films from the current stable of heroes and the introductions of some great new characters.  Personally, I can't wait!

If you fancy checking out City Screen yourself, you can find them here.  City Screen York are also pretty active on Twitter.

Have you seen Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron yet?  What's been your favourite Marvel film so far?  Leave me a comment below.

Sharon x

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Home Sweet Home?

Where the hell have I been?
Wow, it's been a while hasn't it?  I don't think I've ever gone this long without blogging, it's felt weird, but honestly has given me some time to think about what I want to do with this blog moving forwards and if I even want to continue it at all.

You might be wondering what the reason for my absence has been in the first place?  If you don't follow me on Twitter then you probably won't know that Gaz and I moved house in February and only 3 weeks later we got home from work one night to discover that we'd been burgled.

There aren't really words enough to describe how we felt, but you know I'll give it a go.  We were undoubtedly shocked and just couldn't believe that we'd lived in this beautiful house in a fantastic area for less than a month and then this had happened.

We moved swiftly from shock to anger.  How dare someone come into our home and take the things we'd worked so hard for.  On top of this I was furious that the police weren't doing more, and honestly still aren't.  There wasn't much evidence to go on, but still surely something more could be happening and couldn't they be in touch more?

If it had only been material items that were taken I probably would have gotten over the burglary sooner, after all I'm insured, but as well as the expected things being taken (laptops, cameras, games consoles etc.) the bastards took sentimental items we simply cannot replace; a hard drive with the only photos from our wedding on it, a watch I bought Gaz years ago for a birthday, a necklace Gaz got me for my 30th, the list goes on.

I'm still heartbroken at having lost those things, but I think we've both accepted that we can't change what happened now and with the help of our landlord and letting agent have been able to make the house more secure.  People have often asked us if this turn of events has put us off living here but I can honestly say it hasn't, I think we're stronger than that, we still love this house and we want to make the best of living here.

The future of StargazyEyes
Obviously having my laptop, camera and hard drive stolen, it was hard to do anything on this blog, I couldnt even get any of my draft posts up as all my documents and photos were on my laptop and external hard drive.

The only positive thing to come out of this in terms of blogging was that without the necessary accoutrement and with the insurance company dragging their heels over our claim (they took bloody weeks) it gave me time to think about what I wanted to do with StargazyEyes.  I really hadn't been as into it as I used to be and I questioned whether I even saw myself blogging again at all.

I finally came to the conclusion that whilst the same old beauty review after beauty review theme wasn't going to work for me I still love the whole world of blogging; I particularly enjoy the creative buzz and the catharsis of writing, and frankly I've met some bloddy awesome people in my time blogging and worked with some brilliant brands.  I'd like all of that to continue!

So that's the decision made, StargazyEyes will absolutely go on (cheers?  Applause?  Anyone?!) but with a few changes.  There will still be beauty reviews (I cannot leave my love of makeup and skincare behind me) but there will be a lot more lifestyle posts, possibly including things like the exercise I'm doing, the food I'm eating, the books I'm reading and the films I'm loving.  Also look out for a new design coming soon, something perhaps a bit more me!

I don't know about you, but I'm excited about what the future might bring.

If you've got anything in particular you'd like to see me waffle on about on my little old blog in the future, let me know in the comments below.

Sharon x 

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Mini Film Reviews | Festive Favourites at City Screen York

I often feel very lucky that we have such a fantastic cinema and venue in York but never more so than during the festive season.  Of course I'm talking about City Screen, who during the month of December put on lots and lots of Christmas films to really give their patrons that feeling of festive cheer.  I for one was taking full advantage and got myself to as many showings as possible...

Die Hard
When I saw Die Hard listed in the December schedule I got myself pretty darn giddy.  People think I'm crazy when I say I like to watch it every Christmas Eve while I wrap my presents, but it's honestly one of my favourite Christmas films and I couldn't pass up an opportunity to see it on the big screen (obviously I was entirely too young to see it like this when it was originally released).  What was absolutely brilliant about this showing, was that even though everyone there had pretty obviously seen the film a million times, everyone was totally 100% into it and along for the ride with our hero John McClane as he battled those Christmas-spoiling terrorists.  Yippee ki-yay motherfucker... sorry, couldn't help myself!

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Next up on my list of must-see films in December was the latest and final offering from The Hobbit franchise, or as I affectionately call it - The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, But Seriously is Jackson Going to Get Yet Another Film out of a Single Bloody Book?!  Okay, not as catchy as the title used for general release, but you get my drift...

In all seriousness though, it almost doesn't feel like Christmas without another of Peter Jackson's interpretations of Tolkien's work being released, I kind of don't know what I'm going to do without them now.  If you're looking for a film that's as true to the source material as Peter Jackson's LOTR trilogy was then I fear you're going to have a few gripes with this release, but in terms of entertainment you won't be disappointed by the sheer scale of this epic fantasy, and it's overall pretty satisfying conclusion.

It's A Wonderful Life*
Can I admit something without judgement here?  I'd never actually seen It's A Wonderful Life before I went to see it in December.  I know, shocking isn't it?!  You can see why the situation needed to be remedied.

I was initially a bit worried that this film would be a little sugar-coated for my tastes but any concerns were quickly allayed when I got immersed in the tale of George Bailey and all of the lives that would have been so much worse off if he wasn't around.  It was definitely sentimental, but so beautifully done that you couldn't help but enjoy yourself.  I can certainly see why it's an enduring classic, and one I'll definitely be watching again.

It's A Wonderful Life was the last film of the Christmas films I managed to see at City Screen in 2014, but I'll certainly look forward to the next bank holiday to see what ends up on the schedule.

You can find the listings for City Screen here.  You can also find City Screen on Twitter.

What are your favourite films for a particular season?  Did you catch any of these over the festive period?

Sharon x

*Tickets for It's A Wonderful Life provided for review purposes.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

A New Year Spending Ban & Absolutely No Blogging Resolutions

Well hello dear readers, and a Happy New Year to you all!  I hope 2015 brings you wealth, health, happiness yada, yada, yada...  y'know, all the usual stuff!

Roundabout this time last year I sat down and wrote a post all about my blogging resolutions and how I was going to get x, y and z done, and did it help?  Not even a little bit!  Similarly to 2013, I've been a bit of a crap blogger at times in 2014, there have been weeks and weeks gone by with no posts at all, but you know what I've decided this year?  That's life... mine isn't getting any less busy, so I'll continue to treat blogging as the enjoyable hobby it is (for me) and post as much as I can and when inspiration strikes.

The complete lack of blogging resolutions doesn't mean I have no plans for 2015, on the contrary I have a whole heap going on, I'm moving house at the end of January, there are exciting new projects with my day job (which I'll be able to reveal soon), some plans to give my geeky passions an outlet, and of course arrangements for interesting new content on the blog.  Also, since I got married in 2014, I'll be taking some time out for romantic trips with the hubby.

All of this is going to require cash of course, hence the New Year spending ban hinted at in my title.  I'm going to do a complete ban on spending for the month of January and then maybe continue into February.  Anyway for now, here are my rules:

During January I WILL NOT buy any of the following:
- books or magazines
- music or blu-rays
- clothes or accessories
- bottled water/drinks or takeaway coffee
- unnecessary snacks or sweets at work

A few exceptions to the rules:
Food shopping, and any costs associated with my house move are the obvious exceptions. Also I can purchase essentials (shampoo, deodorant etc.) if I run out.

Phew, well you can tell I haven't written for a little while judging by the length of this post!  Anyway, I'm off to check out what all of my favourite bloggers are up to for the New Year.

Leave me your link below if you're doing a spending ban, or if unlike me you've decided to set yourself some resolutions.

Sharon x 

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Beauty | Eye of Horus Scarab Sapphire Goddess Pencil

"Awaken the goddess within!"  If ever a strapline on a beauty item was going to make me desperately want to buy a product it would be this one.  It almost makes me feel that a simple slick of this eyeliner could transform me from an ordinary creature into something divine.  If only beauty products could really do such things...
Eye of Horus have been creating some really covetable pencils in recent months so I was incredibly excited to try their latest offering, the Scarab Sapphire Goddess Pencil*.  It's not often an eye pencil will be so regularly used in my makeup stash (I'm usually more of a gel liner girl) but this one has been making regular appearances in my most used drawer for weeks now.  Let me tell you why...
Eye of Horus Scarab Sapphire Goddess Pencil

The Packaging?
At £17.00 for a pencil Eye of Horus is definitely a premium brand so their packaging should stand up well to other high end favourites of mine, including my beloved Nars.  I can't say I'm disappointed with this brand on that front, both the glossy black box and satiny black pencil carry mirrored gold lettering alongside the iconic Eye of Horus emblem, it could be gaudy but it's just enough gold and is very chic.

The emblem is really quite a clever symbol to use too, automatically making me think of Ancient Egypt, Cleopatra, and the dramatic eye makeup she is always wearing in her various depictions (definitely something I'd want to emulate).  The thing I like most about the packaging of this product is that it's double ended; one side has the colour and the other end has a handy foam smudging tool.

Eye of Horus Scarab Sapphire Goddess Pencil

The Formula and Colour
Of course a good product doesn't end with the packaging, it's got to work above all else.  Thankfully this pencil really does and it is the definition of creamy!  It glides onto the lid allowing me to get a nice precise line, but is soft enough that it can smudged out for a smokier look.

Once the product sets however, it's not going to move without the help of a makeup remover; just what I look for in a good eyeliner.  I completely adore the colour too, it's a beautiful indigo blue which looks pretty great (even if I do say so myself) with my light brown/hazel eyes.

Eye of Horus Scarab Sapphire Goddess Pencil

Would I Purchase?
Absolutely I would.  I've already got my eye on the Bronze Amulet Goddess Pencil among many other things.

Eye of Horus Scarab Sapphire Goddess Pencil

More information on Eye of Horus is available here, their products are available to buy in the UK here.

Have you tried anything from the Eye of Horus range?  What is your favourite type of eyeliner?

Sharon x

*Pencil provided for review purposes, thoughts and opinions 100% my own.