MAC Bare Study

Monday, 25 November 2013

For my first foray into the realm of MAC eye products, I decided to go for a tried and true cream eyeshadow. Luckily, I stumbled across this little pot in a blog sale and picked it up for a bargainous price. I'd heard Bare Study being raved about so much in the little ol' blogosphere, so I have to say I did have pretty high expectations. But I'm pleased to report that these expectations were definitely met. MAC Paint Pots are essentially little pots of cream eyeshadow which provide highly pigmented, budge-proof washes of colour. Bare Study is a fairly standard champagne toned, shimmery neutral shade which you can't really go wrong with. I tend to use it either on its own to brighten up my eyes a bit, or in conjunction with some smokey bronze colours. The longevity of this stuff is pretty incredible, and I've been reaching for it almost daily since I got it which is impressive considering I'm not much of an eyeshadow girl.

All round, this is a perfect introduction into the world of MAC Paint Pots, and I'll be sure to pick up some more shades when I get the chance!

Working at summer camp

Monday, 18 November 2013

Oh summer camp, where do I even begin? Friendship bracelets, campfires, song sessions, watching the sunset down at the lake, village initiations, Shabbat celebrations... I could go on. If you've ever been curious about working at a summer camp in the USA or you're considering applying, read on. My application process was a little different as I applied pretty late and it was all very rushed. I'd always fancied doing a Camp America type thing, but life always got in the way and I just never got round to it. Late last year I started really looking into it, and I applied through an agency called Camp Leaders in January. Before I knew it, I'd completed my application, had my interview and I was ready to be placed. This meant that camps could view my online profile and decide whether or not they would like to interview me for a position at their camp. Camp Leaders hold 2 recruitment fairs where summer camp directors from all over the states fly over to England and hold interviews right then and there - this means you can get hired on the spot. I was lucky enough to be hired at the Manchester job fair as an outdoor cooking specialist at Camp Chi in Wisconsin.

By the time June 6th rolled around, I think everyone was sick to death of hearing me harp on about how many days I had left to go and breathed a little sigh of relief when it was time for me to finally board that plane to Chicago. I was excited and nervous and scared to death all at once. I arrived at camp late at night where we were piled into the dining hall to get our bedding and say hello. We were all shattered, jet lagged and a little disorientated, so the first few hours were just a blur. We dragged our suitcases along the muddy paths to our new homes for the next 12 weeks, which was more than a shock to the system for me. The cabins were basic, which is to be expected for a summer camp. We were lucky enough to have electricity, running water and traditional wooden cabins which slept around 12-15 campers plus 3 staff members. I vividly remember my first night in the cabin. I stumbled into the room to find 4 other girls already unpacked, so I mumbled hello and chose my bed. Climbing into my bunk bed, I was scared to touch anything in case there were bugs, and I barely slept because I was so paranoid about spiders or other creepy crawlies. Even using the toilet was traumatic that first night - I learned very quickly to always wear flip flops to the bathroom.

Details aside, I got used to the cabins very quickly and before long I was hurtling myself into my bunk without worry. It wasn't a big deal to pull back your blanket before you went to sleep, find a bug hiding in there and ping it out before dozing straight off to the land of nod. Staff training week geared all of us up for what was to come, as best as it could. I can safely say that none of us could be prepared for the arrival of the kids. The day the buses arrived was crazy and hectic and stressful. Around 300 kids arrived in the space of hours - some of them were scared, but most of them were squealing bundles of excitement. I didn't have a huge amount of experience with children, so at first I was hesitant and actually a little scared - I didn't know how to interact with them or how to get them excited about our lessons. Eventually, I realised that you really can have great conversations with the kids, they were funny and intelligent and they often had me in tears of laughter and of course when summer ended, tears of sadness.

Days at camp are long. Don't go to camp expecting to have a laugh, get a tan and not really do much work. I rarely saw 6 hours of sleep and there was always something to do - lazy day is definitely not in the camp vocabulary. I worked in outdoor cooking which meant I was building and lighting fires and teaching kids to cook on them. In 30-odd degree heat, this was pretty demanding to say the least! But on my hour off or any free time I had, I could chill out by the pool, go kayaking or waterskiing, go horseriding or simply head back to my cabin for a little nap. When the day was over, the kids had extra activities at night that you could join in with, and if you weren't on duty then you were usually free to do what you wanted. Usually that involved laundry, a Walmart trip or just chilling in the staff lounge with a movie.

Camp Chi is a Jewish camp, so we did have a few little quirks compared to your average American camp. For example, after every meal we would sing the Birkat and there was a lot of dancing on the tables - we didn't believe in letting your food settle, to say the least. Every Friday night was the Shabbat services and subsequent song session, and Saturday was Shabbat so us specialists had the day off which was much needed by the end of a stressful week.

The best thing about camp is that you spend each day living and working with your best friends and contributing to the kids having a great summer. The worst thing is that it has to end. You know from day one that it's going to end, but nothing can actually prepare you for that. The day the kids left was absolutely horrible, we were all distraught but we tried our hardest to hold it together in front of the kids - safe to say when the buses finally left, I had cried more than a few tears.

I've made some true friends for life at camp, and I can now say that I have friends all over the world which is just amazing. If you're considering applying for camp 2014, then I would say 100% go for it. It was such a life changing experience for me and I learnt so much about myself, not to mention experiencing a whole different culture and gaining invaluable skills. Every single camp is different, but I haven't heard of one person who went to camp and didn't enjoy it. You might have moments of doubt where you think "what am I doing here?" but when a kid comes up to you and gives you a hug and a friendship bracelet and tells you how much they look up to you, you forget all of the negative things and realise just how lucky you are to be doing what you're doing.

I vividly remember during a sneak-out with the kids we headed down to the cove, lit a camp fire, ate s'mores and I ended up laying on the sand gazing at the stars. I was surrounded by huge trees, a glistening lake and hundreds of twinkling stars shining down on me. The girls were whispering in the background, telling each other all of their deepest secrets, giggling about boys and others were quiet like me. It's moments like those that make you sit back and take everything in, realise what you have and what others don't. It puts everything into perspective. After a horrible year last year, I think I was the happiest and most content I'd been in a long time when I was at camp, and I've taken that attitude back home with me. I'll always be grateful for the opportunity I had, and for taking it with both hands, and if you're considering it then you should too.

Current Skincare Basics

Monday, 11 November 2013

Since coming back from America, my skin has decided to throw a little tantrum (not that I can blame it) at the change in environment and climate. I've had to completely overhaul my skincare routine in an attempt to pacify my skin as it throws all sorts of problems at me - cystic acne breakouts and increased sensitivity to name just a few. The sun and simplified skincare routine in America seemed to work wonders for my skin, but perhaps the reintroduction of my whole skincare stash proved a little too much too soon and so I've been working on a new skincare routine which is a lot simpler and more compact product-wise.

With my Origins Zero Oil cleanser on its last legs, I decided to try a new cleanser from Aesop. The Fabulous Face Cleanser is actually targeted at slightly dry, sensitive skin but its olive oil base seems to work in soothing my irritated skin, leaving it feeling baby soft without a hint of dryness or tightness that some cleansers can leave. It doesn't really foam up, which I'm not used to, but it does clean away all traces of dirt and oil. I haven't been using this for terribly long yet, but I do have high hopes for this cleanser. If anything, it looks super pretty chilling in its pharmacy style glass bottle by my sink.

Toner-wise, I've reverted back to LUSH Tea Tree Water which I strayed away from over the past few months. It's packed with tea tree and this usually is a wonder for me in sorting out troubled, blemished skin so I'm hoping it doesn't let me down this time. I spray a good 8-10 sprays on a cotton pad, swipe all over my face and get on with the rest of my routine. I have been alternating this with an exfoliating toner, but that's a whole other post in itself...

I'm trying to limit the different numbers of serums and treatments that I'm using, at least until my skin is back in check, but I've been trying out HealGel Face* for a good few weeks now and it's something that I'm thoroughly enjoying. I use this both morning and evening after toning and before moisturiser. It's essentially an anti-ageing treatment, but it also claims to help with uneven skin tone which is right up my street. It's a gel-cream consistency and sinks into my skin beautifully, leaving it feeling so soft and hydrated.

In my new simplified skincare routine, I wanted a moisturiser that wasn't too heavy or rich, but equally I need something that does pack a bit of a moisture punch now that we're getting into the colder months. Origins GinZing Moisturiser does just that. Again, it's a gel-cream consistency which my oily skin just loves. It makes for the perfect base to apply my makeup as it does sink in quickly, but I'm not totally sold on the energy boosting claims. It's still early days with this one, so I'll be sure to report back...

Of course, alongside this skincare arsenal I've been trying out spot treatments like nobody's business and I'm still struggling to find something that lives up to its claims.

What do you do when your skin throws a tantrum? Do you have any go-to products? Help me!

Intellicig Electronic Cigarette

Friday, 8 November 2013

This post is a little different to the usual beauty ramblings going on here, but it's something quite personal and I hope it will help at least a few people somewhere out there. I am a smoker. It's not something I ever intended to be, and least of all something I'm proud of. I started smoking on and off when I was around 14, and I've "quit" more times than I can count over the years. The only really successful time I managed to quite was back in January when I went cold turkey and managed to stay off the cigarettes for a good 7 months before caving again whilst in the USA over the summer. It felt amazing to go through each day not craving a cigarette, not stinking of stale tobacco smoke and having an irritating constant cough. I could kick myself for starting up again, but unless you're a smoker you won't understand just how easy it is to get hooked time and time again. I'm determined to stop smoking again for health reasons, financial reasons and well, every reason under the sun - there isn't one positive reason to smoke for me anymore.

I received a couple of electronic cigarettes from Intellicig to trial and review, which couldn't have come at a better time. This brand of electronic cigarettes are made in the UK and uses ECOpure e-liquid. Each cigarette contains around 350 puffs which is the equivalent of 35 regular cigarettes. These are disposable, so you don't need to worry about charging or refilling. I've been using these as a replacement for smoking for the past couple of weeks, and I have to say I'm impressed. I always thought this type of thing was a bit of a gimmick if I'm honest, but the action of actually picking up the 'cigarette', inhaling and then seeing the 'smoke' (vapour) afterwards is strangely satisfying. I much prefer the rich variation to the regular, as I don't really get much at all from the regular. If you're considering quitting smoking (you should!) then I'd really recommend trying this product as it's the one thing helping me from going insane or, alternatively, eating the entire kitchen right now. Smokers, I'm sure you'll understand...


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