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.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Beauty | Illamasqua Blushers in Rude & Hussy

So here we go, two days into December and I'm publishing another blog post already.  It's not a huge deal to most people I know, but I've been so busy recently I've barely been able to post at all, so it's a bit of a new thing for me.  I'm not going to jinx myself by making any grand pronouncement about posting every day or anything, but I'm going to try and keep it more regular from now on.

Illamasqua Blusher Rude and Hussy

Anyway, it seems like an age since I reviewed a makeup product on here so for today's post I wanted to bring you two of my absolute favourite blushers of the last year, Rude and Hussy from Illamasqua.  I picked up these beauties in one of Illamasqua's sales last year and have pretty much loved them ever since.  I don't know what it is about this brand, I haven't tried a lot from their range, but have absolutely adored everything I have been able to try.

My first love out of these two has to be the Cream Blusher in the shade Rude.  It looks almost scarily orange in the pan but on my light olive skin skin, it is the perfect peachy pink/coral.  I don't have a great deal of experience with cream blushers, but I suspect the formula which Illamasqua have come up with is a very good one.  It's incredibly soft, with a rich pigment but perfectly balanced with just enough colour.

Illamasqua Blusher Rude

The blusher applies smoothly using either a stippling brush or a ring finger (my preferred method) blends easily, and lasts really well on the skin, giving really pretty colour and a hint of glow. As you can probably imagine, I got a lot of use out of this blusher during the summer paired with a coral lip, even now I still use it on those days where I'm wearing minimal makeup.

A close second in my Illamasqua blusher affections is the rather wonderfully named Hussy, a Powder Blusher.  I was equal parts excited and apprehensive for this blusher to arrive with my order, it's so far removed from the shades I'd normally go for.  I don't regret buying it for a second though, the candy pink/watermelon shade is the perfect pick-me-up for tired looking skin and can't help but bring a bit of a cheer to your day.

Illamasqua Blusher Hussy

In terms of formula, Hussy is equally as brilliant as Rude, it's a matte shade with a powder that is buttery soft and silky smooth to apply.  The pigment here is not for the fainthearted either, a light hand is a necessity, I find that the Real Techniques blush brush works perfectly in this case.

Now I've had the opportunity to sample these two, I've got my eye on plenty more Illamasqua Blushers for the future, watch this space for more reviews!

Illamasqua Blusher Rude and Hussy - swatches

What are your favourite blushers?  Have you tried any from Illamasqua?  I'd love to hear from you.

Sharon x

Monday, 1 December 2014

Restaurant Review | Breakfast at Bill's, York

One of the very best things about living in York at the moment is that there are always new and exciting shops and restaurants cropping up all over the place.  One fairly recent addition to the scene was Bill's restaurant on Coney Street, right in the centre of York.

Bill's Restaurant, Coney Street, York

Bill's started out in Lewes, East Sussex less than 15 years ago and since then has grown to have nearly 30 restaurants throughout the UK, obviously with the York as the latest offering.  Now I'll be straight up here and let you into a little secret; Bill's menu for lunch and dinner is really not at all up my alley, I don't find anything on there which makes me say 'wow'; it pretty much just leaves me cold.  Their breakfast and brunch options, on the other hand, are another story entirely.

Bill's Restaurant, Coney Street, York

The sheer number of menu items is what attracts me first of all; from the full English to eggs benedict, granola and everything in between, there's easily an option for almost every taste.  It's a fair bet that that Gaz will always go for anything that includes sausages, bacon or a combination of the two, but after much sampling of Bill's breakfast menu, I've got to say my favourite is the vegetarian breakfast paired with an iced tea.

Bill's Restaurant, Coney Street, York

The breakfast includes 2 poached eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms, on lovely crunchy sourdough toast that has been generously smothered with hummus on one slice and guacamole on another.  The plate is finished off with a generous swirl of sweet chilli sauce and a little basil.  Everything is really fresh and always very well cooked, and although it looks like a small plate it's surprisingly filling, particularly washed down with the iced tea, usually packed with fresh peach and mint.  Price wise it's not too bad at all either, the basic version of the breakfast is £7.95, but if you're extra hungry you can add on baked beans or crispy potatoes for £1.00 and £1.25 respectively.

Bill's Restaurant, Coney Street, York

Apart from the food, the other thing I really enjoy about Bill's is the decor, it's this really interesting mix of the industrial and the glamorous, pairing loads of metal and wood with leather chairs and chandeliers dotted throughout (and don't forget that giant lit-up Bills sign in the window).  Even though it's a large restaurant, having a few head height (when you're sitting down at least) dividers throughout the place gives it a more intimate feel, particularly when part of Bill's is a little shop/deli type area.

Bill's Restaurant, Coney Street, York

Aside from the lunch and dinner menus not appealing to me I do have one other negative thing to say about Bill's in York, and it unfortunately relates to the staff.  For the most part they have been friendly and helpful, just as you'd expect in any restaurant, but there have been two occasions (once at lunch and once at breakfast) where I've been unfortunate enough to get served by some singularly unhelpful and pretty darn sullen individuals.  Don't get me wrong, I can understand people having a bad day but maybe some people just shouldn't be in the service industry.  Anyway, it hasn't been enough to put me off the place thus far, but who knows for future visits.

If you fancy paying a visit to any of Bill's restaurants, or if you want to check out the menu, you can find them here.

Have you been to one of the Bill's restaurants around the country?  How did you find the food and the staff?

Sharon x

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Beauty | Exfolia Microexfoliation Cloth Review

I've long been an exponent of using cloths to exfoliate my face (muslin cloths and flannels, anyone?) so I was genuinely intrigued to try the Exfolia Microexfoliation Cloth* when I was contacted about it.  This little reusable microfibre cloth sounded a little different to my usual favourite muslins, claiming that it could, amongst other things, smooth & soften the skin, combat the appearance of fine lines and deep clean pores.  You can imagine how much I wanted to get my mitts on one?
Exfolia Microexfoliation Cloth

When the Exfolia Microexfoliation Cloth arrived, it was honestly a tad surprising; this looked just like the cloths that I use to clean my glasses, or to wipe down the screen on my Macbook.  How was this going to exfoliate my face at all?  On closer inspection the cloth is a little different though; running your fingers across the surface you can feel a very slight texture, not exactly rough, but not completely smooth either.  I was fascinated enough to use the Exfolia in my shower that evening.

After reading the instructions carefully (does anyone else do this obsessively with a new product?) I decided to try in the first instance 'The 1 Minute Surprise' that the makers of the cloth recommend.  Basically this involved using the cloth with my favourite cleanser, and washing one side of my face with 9/10 gentle strokes, then washing the other side as I normally would.  I won't overstate things and say a miracle happened in that first test, but after patting dry my face I thought there was definitely some smoothing effect on the 'Exfolia' side.

Exfolia Microexfoliation Cloth

As the instructions suggest only using the cloth 2-3 times a week I left it a few days until my next try, again I used it in the shower, after I had removed my makeup, and with my favourite cream cleanser.  This time I was slightly more vigorous with the 'strokes' of the cloth and boy did I feel the exfoliation then!  There wasn't any damage done, but I could see how if I'd had sensitive skin it would have been too much.  Anyway, my skin was left feeling decidedly smoother after this go, but on further use I went a bit more gently.  In addition to using the cloth for my face, I've tried it out the Exfolia on my body too, more specifically on my arms.  I suffer from the dreaded keratosis pilaris (little goose bumps that never go away) on my upper arms and have found that whilst there was no great 'ta-da' moment where everything was fixed, the texture of the skin there has absolutely been improved.

Overall I'd say there has been some definite improvement in the texture of my skin from using the Exfolia cloth, I really do feel like I'm getting a deep clean and whilst I haven't been using it for long enough to really assess it's effects on fine lines (not that I have too many mind!) I'm hopeful of seeing results.  I'll get plenty more use out of this one cloth too, according to the instructions it can be used 60 to 80 times, as long as you keep it clean and cared for (I've been washing mine with antibacterial hand soap).

The Exfolia Microexfoliation Cloth is suitable for all skin types (just be slightly gentle with sensitive skin), it is £10.35 and can be found here.

What are your favourite methods of exfoliation?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

Sharon x 

*Product provided for review.  Rambling and opinions 100% my own.