February Favourites

February has been a great month and I’m sad to see that it’s now coming to an end. Not only was there Valentine’s Day to celebrate, but it was also the last month of summer holidays for every university student (in Australia at least) to start mentally preparing themselves for the upcoming school year. I know guys, I know. These past three-four months have been glorious, filled with happy memories, sunshine and alcohol, but unfortunately our education (and future careers) can’t be avoided forever. You’re all in my thoughts. So in light of the passing of February I thought it would be appropriate to share with you all some of the things that I’ve really been loving throughout the past month, and there’s been quite a number of things. This ranges all over the place, from make-up and skincare, to other beauty products that I’ve picked up, movies, television shows, books, stationary and even some tasty food items. I think it’s fair to say that I’ve been loving an entire array of things these past four weeks, and without further adieu, here they all are:

Australis: AC On Tour
This was definitely an impulse buy, as I’d seen almost everyone and their mother own this (and rave about it) on every single social media platform I search. This product literally came out of nowhere and dominated the make up scene for a short while, especially now that contouring and defining seems to be the newest fad. I’ve never contoured my face before, and I’ve been extremely hesitant to try it out in fear of looking equally ridiculous and cake-faced, but now that I have this wonderful beginner’s guide and kit (with instructions included) I’m a little bit more willing to give it a chance. This palette comes with six shades, divided into three sets of two. The first set are very light shades, ranging from an off white to a matte ivory that’s meant to be used as a highlighter for your upper cheekbones and inner T zone. The second set are very dark, matte brown shades, meant for the lower cheekbones and upper T zones sections, that eventually come to blend in with the lighter shades in order to create the perfectly contoured face. I think I’ll have to try this product out a little more in order to perfect my application of it, but I love the idea of this and how simple it is in instructing almost anyone in those crucial first steps. Normally I would just put a small amount of bronzer along my jawline and around the edges of my forehead, but now that I own this kit (and am absolutely loving it), I think I’ll have to substitute that bronzer for something a little more complicated. I’m moving on up in the make up world!

Rimmel London ‘Matte Finish’ Lipstick (‘103’)
I actually bought two lipsticks within this range towards the start/middle of February, but unfortunately forgot to actually purchase the one shade that I wanted. So after I eventually got the right shade of lipstick (and trying it on then and there) I immediately became obsessed with it and refused to wear any other colour or any other brand on my lips. This is the absolute most perfect, subtle, lip-coloured pink that is perfect for everyday wear but also perfect for a night out. I’ve never been the type to wear extravagantly bold coloured lipsticks as I much rather prefer lighter, pink-based tones. Not only is this a beautiful shade of pink, but it’s also a very durable lipstick that’s complementary to almost every outfit, and is one that gives the lips just the little bit of extra colour. If you’re ever in the mood for a toned down lip look, this is definitely the perfect product.

Real Techniques ‘Core Collection’
For the longest time that I’ve been wearing and using makeup, I’ve always known how important it is to ensure that the best brushes are used. However, as an extremely broke teenager I’ve always settled for second best and never thought twice about the importance of the brushes I’d been using. At least, that was until my urge to buy Real Techniques brushes grew too strong for me to resist and I finally caved in. I decided to buy a set of brushes rather than just the one brush, just to get a better feel (or scope) for how the brushes worked and if I would like various types of them, and I must say that every expectation that I had was met (and then some). I bought the ‘Core Collection’ brush set a while ago (and it was on sale too!) and I haven’t used any other brushes since (at least for my foundation, concealer, setting powder and blush). This set comes with four brushes, especially suited towards the product I just previously mentioned. The foundation brush is perfect for any type of liquid foundation, and does allow the coverage that you prefer to be built slowly instead of suddenly. The buffing brush is also incredible as the powder you use with it really holds on to the bristles and sets the make up into your skin, flawlessly and easily too. As I mentioned in my Australis comment, I’m not the best at contouring and so I haven’t used the contouring brush all that much and instead have been using it to delicately apply blush instead. I find that it applies blush just as well, if not better, and until I actually manage to become a little bit better at contouring and defining my cheekbones and jawline, I may just stick with using it for perfecting my rosy cheeks.

Skin Care
St Ive’s ’Nourished and Smooth Oatmeal Scrub + Mask’
This is a dual purpose formula that combines oatmeal extract with natural exfoliants that’s used to nourish and repair dry skin, and scrub away dullness. This product has many benefits, including: 100% natural exfoliants, sulcate-free, oil-free, hypoallergenic and dermatologist tested. I’ve always struggled with combination skin but lately it’s been particularly dry, especially in the lower parts of my face, but after using this product I’ve definitely seen a noticeable difference. Although I’ve been using this for much more than a month, I’ve been needing it a lot more in the past few weeks especially, and I’ve really been loving the effect that it’s had. This product is a facial scrub and does contain beads within it, but it isn’t overly coarse or rough on the skin, which I really enjoy, but does give that exfoliating effect when rubbed into the skin. I can really feel this scrub working it’s magic whilst using it, and I do highly recommend it to anyone else who suffers with combination skin, with particularly bad dry spots. I’ll definitely be re-purchasing this product soon, and be using it continuously as my ‘go to’ facial scrub.

LUSH ‘Snow Fairy’
Throughout the Christmas and holiday season, is there anybody out there who doesn’t purchase Snow Fairy? Unlike in previous years, during the end of season madness at Lush I knew that I would soon be suffering from ‘post-Snow Fairy sale withdrawals’, so I soon found myself purchasing three bottles of this luscious body wash. I bought two 100ml bottles and one of the much larger bottles, and I’m yet to finish my second smaller bottle. I’m trying desperately to spread the use of this product out as much as I can in order to save it, but eventually I will run out of it because I’m still completely obsessed with it. I’ve never really been a fan of overwhelming bubblegum scents, but this body wash is such a nice, subtle scent that is extremely pleasant and doesn’t leave the skin feeling heavily coated and dressed. What’s also great about this product is that it’s very generous, so that when you do use it in the shower or in the bath, not much of it is needed to really get the full effect of the scent into the skin. Hopefully Snow Fairy will make a comeback during Lush’s ‘Christmas in July’ season, and if I find myself in a desperate condition then I may need to make a few more purchases of it. This is such a crowd pleaser and a fan favourite for Lush, and I’m definitely one of those guilty customers.

I read a lot of books in the month of February (well, throughout the whole past summer technically) and I’m really happy with just how much reading I got done. I know that as soon as uni starts up again then getting back into that schedule and routine is going to be quite difficult, and unfortunately my reading habits will probably suffer because of it. However! I’m happy that I’ve read as much as I have recently, as I’ve read many that were really great, and stood out to me especially so. Out of the five books that I managed to finish one of them was a re-read, one was a classic, another was a modern classic, one was a recent release and the first in a new fantasy series, and another was the final installment in a very dear series to me. The following were the books I read in February:

#1. Ransom by David Malouf
I rated this book a 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I was first introduced to this book by my boyfriend, who’d read it many years ago during high school, and knows how much I enjoy anything to do with Greek mythology and legends. This novel is a reimagined tale of the famous stories of Achilles, and narrates the story between he and King Priam, the King of Troy’s, adverse relationship. The story, which is also featured in Homer’s ‘The Illiad’, follows King Priam’s attempts to ransom the body of his son Hector, who has been slaughtered by Achilles for the murder of his dear friend Patroclus. I enjoyed this story for what it was; entertaining. I didn’t think much of the characters or the recurring motifs of revenge and redemption, but I thoroughly enjoyed the setting and the brief glimpse into Homer’s ‘The Illiad’. This is also quite a short novel, and a very quick read so I do recommend it to anyone interested in anything to do with Achilles or any famous Ancient Greek poets.

#2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter, #1) by J.K. Rowling
Is it surprising that I rated this anything less than a full 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads? This was a re-read for me, as after finishing Ransom I still had a few days until the release of The Ruby Circle (on February 10th). This took me no more than a day to read, and I had been wanting to re-read it for a very long time anyway (it’d been staring at me from it’s place on my bookshelf, okay?). J.K Rowling honestly never fails to impress or entertain, and I loved every single word on every single page of this book, if for the fifth…sixth…seventh time now?

#3. The Ruby Circle (Bloodlines, #6) by Richelle Mead
This was another full 5 out of 5 star rating on Goodreads, not only because it was an epic conclusion to a series that I’ve followed for almost five years, but also because it concluded in a way that left me satisfied, yet still solemn at saying goodbye to an entire cast of characters that I’d come to know, love and rely on. The Ruby Circle is the sixth and final book in Richelle Mead’s epic Bloodlines series, which is a spin-off series to her original Vampire Academy novels. I first started the latter series when I was thirteen/fourteen years old, and now that I’m nearing nineteen, it’s hard to believe that was almost six years ago now. I had a lot of questions going into this book and I was nervous about how Mead was going to tie up every single loose end that she’d created, because God knows there was a lot of them, but she did it. At the same time that I’m so incredible sad to see the end of this series, it’s also a very happy moment for me, knowing that these characters that I’ve come to almost befriend, got their happy ending and the series as a whole concluded wonderfully. Nothing makes me more happy than knowing that all of the trials and tribulations that Adrian and Sydney have gone through was worth it in the end, and that they got their happily ever after (I’m sorry if that was a spoiler for you). For the past six years of my life I’ve looked forward to at least one book set within this incredible vampiric world that Mead has constructed, and it’s still taking me a little while to get used to the fact that there’ll be no more on the agenda (at least that we know of). I can only hope that Richelle Mead decides, one day, to expand upon this world even more, because I know that personally, I could never tire reading about it.

#4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
This was another book that my boyfriend repetitively suggested that I read. He first lent me this book back in July(?) of 2014, and I’ve only now actually managed to pick it up and dedicate my time towards it. I didn’t just feel bad that I’d had it for so long, but I’d also been wanting to read a classic (as one of my personal reading resolutions for the year is to read at least one, so why not do that as early as possible right?). This is also a fairly short classic, and I’m sure you’re all more than aware of the premise of Frankenstein. Surprisingly, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I truly did, and I’m so thankful that my boyfriend forced me to finally give it a go. The story was so easy to follow, which was a shock in and of itself as in the past this is something that I’ve definitely struggled with in countless other classic novels. It’s usually taken some time for me to adjust to the author’s writing style, or it’s taken me a considerable amount of time to read the novel as a whole (which would range anywhere from a week to a month) but with Frankenstein, I read it in less than a week. It also helped that I didn’t have a timeframe in which to read this, or any pressure also to analyse every word I read and to pinpoint exact moments that had themes, motifs, character tropes, symbolism or any other form of literary device that I’d need to recall for a future piece of assessment. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a pleasurable experience reading a classic before.

#5. Red Queen (Red Queen, #1) by Victoria Aveyard
This is tied with The Ruby Circle for my favourite read of the month, though if I had to choose between the two then I’d definitely have to pick Red Queen. It’s still had to believe that this is Victoria Aveyard’s debut novel, it was an absolutely fantastic read. I’ve never enjoyed a first book in a new series so much before, at least not in my recent memory. Not only was this book extremely fast-paced and exciting, but it was also very original and unique. Every page caught my attention and I found myself reading so much of it in only one sitting. I finished this book within two days, I loved the characters and their abilities and stories, and I’m already dreading the wait between now and the release of the second book in the series. I need to know where the story goes and how the plot progresses, but more than anything I need to know what happens with this new bunch of characters that I’ve already grown to absolutely love!

#6. The Assassin’s Blade (Throne of Glass, #01- #0.5) by Sarah J. Maas
I first started the Throne of Glass series late in 2014, slightly after the release of the third book, Heir of Fire. I immediately read and really enjoyed the first book, Throne of Glass, then slowly made my way through the following two. It took me a while before I owned The Assassin’s Blade, which is the physical copy of a bind-up of five short-story novellas set within the same world. These novellas follow Celeana’s life prior to (and up to) her capture and imprisonment within the salt mines of Endovier, which is something that we don’t get the full picture of within the actual series. Celeana’s previous life in the Assassin’s Guild is something that stays with her very deeply and very much affects her emotions and actions in the Throne of Glass series, so I’m extremely interested to read these short stories and find out exactly how Celeana came to be where she is. This was a solid 4.5 out of 5 star rating for me. I couldn’t bring myself to give this novel a full 5 out of 5 stars as I felt that, at times, the stories as a whole could be quite repetitive and tedious. What I also noticed was that at some points throughout each novella, there was always a moment or two wherein Celeana would just be sitting on top of a roof or on a street corner, thinking to herself. Not that I don’t enjoy reading her train of thoughts directly, it’s just that having read the Throne of Glass series already, it was difficult to feel compassionate towards Celeana at times and at other times she could be quite selfish and childish, which is something that I really couldn’t get on board with. Overall though I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and it was so much fun to be back in this fantastic fantasy world that Sarah J Maas has blessed us with. I loved meeting (and learning more about) Sam and his initial relationship with Celeana (and his eventual romantic relationship with her) but what I loved most was getting to know Arobynn Hamel a lot more. What we know of him throughout the Throne of Glass series is only what we’re told directly by Celeana, but actually getting to meet him within these novellas and getting a direct insight towards his personality and character was something new entirely. He’s very easily become one of my most favourite all time villains, but also one of my all time favourite characters. Sarah J Maas is extremely clever in how she’s written Arobynn, and I can’t wait to see some more of him in future Throne of Glass books. I can see this man is going to play a major role in at least one of the next three books.

#7. I Was Here by Gayle Forman
After reading The Assassin’s Blade, I was definitely in the mood for a much shorter novel. Although I’d read The Assassin’s Blade in just over two days, I felt as though I had been drained emotionally within that time and needed something that wouldn’t take too long to read or need my entire attention. However, this is a Gayle Forman novel and we all know what type of content she loves to write about in her novels (i.e. death, suicide, friendship or a combination of all three) so I’m not entirely sure if this was the wisest thing for me to pick up next. I’m really intrigued by the premise of this novel though, as I really enjoyed another of hers that I’ve read (If I Stay) and am eager to jump right back into her style of writing. Gayle Forman has a very straightforward way of writing, but she still manages to pack in an entire range of emotions. Even though I’m not that far into this book at all (literally, only 5 pages) it’s quite easy to read and shouldn’t take too long once I devote myself to it more!

#1. How To Get Away With Murder (Season 1)
I definitely jumped on this band wagon as soon as I could, especially after hearing how it was America’s newest number one television show. If I had to pick a favourite show, right now, How To Get Away With Murder would be my answer. This show has surpassed every one of my expectations and doubts about it, and has me absolutely captivated and sucked in. Every week I eagerly await the downloading torrent, and as soon as it’s finished downloading you can bet that I’ve clicked ‘play’ in less time than it takes to blink. This show has almost every single aspect of what I love in a good series: attractive, appealing and mysterious characters, suspense, mystery, thrill-rides, surprise, and an endless amount of new questions to be asked. The four main characters that we follow, although friends, each have their own separate storyline, but when together the entire dynamic of the plot changes. We follow the law and the criminal justice system, as well as the corruption and conspiracies within both of them. I’ve forced this show onto my dad, my brother and one of the good friends and they’ve all fallen into the trap and can’t get out either, so it’s fair to say that not only is this show incredibly addictive, but also a crowd-pleaser. All I have left of the season is the final two episodes (which premiered only a few days ago, so I’m not all that behind) and unfortunately I’ve already been spoiled for one thing in particular that happened. I still intend to watch it though as I’m sure that aside from that one thing I was spoiled on, there are bound to be many more surprises lurking right around the corner. Hopefully I’ll be able to watch it within the next day or two so that I can avoid being spoiled any further.

#2. Pretty Little Liars (Season 5)
I first started watching Pretty Little Liars almost five years ago, and that’s insane to think about. I absolutely fell in love with the first season, then the second but the third and fourth seasons definitely let me down. I felt like the storyline became extremely repetitive, the characters made stupid decisions and a lot of the things that happened were very unlikely things to actually happen. My love for the show definitely declined, but the mid-season finale of the fifth season definitely picked itself up and got me excited for the return of the rest of the episodes. This show…. I’ve lost count of the plot lines and every character’s individual storylines, but overall, the mystery and angst is what’s keeping me watching. I read somewhere in an interview with the producer that by the end of this fifth season we’ll (FINALLY) know the true identity of A, which is something we’ve all been waiting for since the very first episode. My like and dislike for many of the characters has changed, but a lot of my favourites have stayed true (basically I just really love Aria and Spencer). The plot of this season has me on my toes, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of this season (and the rest of the show in general) is going to play out.

#3. Arrow (Season 3)
It took me so long to start watching Arrow, as my friend had been pestering me to start it for almost a year before I actually did. The only reason I was so against it was that Colton Haynes, the then star of my then favourite show ‘Teen Wolf’, had left the cast of the latter to join in an all new cast of Arrow. I’d loved Colton in Teen Wolf, and didn’t want to think that any other show he went to could possibly be better than Teen Wolf was. Oh how wrong I was. I practically marathoned the first season of Arrow within a week, and caught up midway through the second season in less than another week. If I had to pick a favourite though, Season 3 would definitely be my favourite. Arrow recently returned from it’s mid-season finale, which was one of the worst that I’ve ever seen (in terms of how heart-broken it left me) and I couldn’t wait any longer for the day that it returned. I had way too many unanswered questions. The main character on the show, Oliver Queen, is one of the most realistic and honourable heroes (literally) I’ve read about or seen on a television show before, and combining that with an all-round excellent cast of side characters (I mean we have Diggle, Felicity, Thea, Roy…. what’s not to love about every single one of them?) makes this show so enjoyable and inspiring. It almost makes me want to go out into the middle of my own city, dressed in a kick-ass costume, and fight crime and danger. Even though I would be absolutely terrible at doing so.

#4. The 100 (Seasons 1 & 2)
I don’t know how long my friend has been pestering me to start this show, and for some reason I had just been putting it off every time. It’s not that I wasn’t intrigued by the premise of the show (because nothing appeals to me more) I just think that I was struggling to come to terms with the idea of having to commit to a brand new television show. But for this show though, I don’t even care. I adore this show, and flew through the first season in three days (max). It took me a little bit longer to get through the second season, though that wasn’t due to my not wanting to marathon it all at once (having a social life and loving a televsion show is awfully difficult). I love the storyline and every episode leaves me surprised and suspenseful, and I literally never know what’s going to happen next. Much like George RR Martin, you can never trust the producers and writers of this show to keep your favourite character(s) alive. I’m entirely up to date now and am eagerly awaiting next week’s episode!

Goodbye Smiggle, goodbye Typo, and hello Kikki K. It’s no secret that Australia (at least) has gone through various phases of stationary hype, and like many other people I’m sure, I’m a complete sucker for all of them. I’ve gone through every single one of these phases since I was about twelve years old and thankfully since then, my tastes and style has changed quite a fair bit. I received (and bought) a few items from Kikki K over Christmas and in the New Year, and there are a couple of things that I’ve particularly been enjoying. The first of these is my ‘Sentence A Day’ journal, which came as a part of a Christmas gift set that my brother bought for me last year. If you don’t know what Sentence A Day is, basically it’s a small compact-sized journal that correlates every single day of the year with a certain question. Every day you open the journal to the day’s date and answer that question; however, there’s also room on the page for an answer to the same question, only for the following two years. For instance, the journal I have (link here to my Christmas 2014 haul) is a 2015-2017 journal, so throughout the year (and for the next two years) I’ll answer the same question every day of that year. I believe the whole point of this is to see how your answers differ year to year, and so far I’ve really been enjoying filling this out every day (and actually managing to remember to do so). The questions are usually very short and simple to answer, though some do require a little more thought, but more often than not a long answer isn’t necessary. Literally, some days the question is as simple as ‘What did you have for breakfast?’ or ‘What time did you wake up today?’. I love it. It’s easy, it’s simple, it’s neat and it’s also a very clever and thoughtful gift to give someone (if they’re into that type of thing).

I’ve also really been enjoying a journal I bought from Kikki K late last year, which can also be seen in my Christmas Haul blog post. I bought this for myself as yet another one of my New Year’s resolutions is to start journalling again, and to actually commit to it this time. Thus far, I’ve been doing really well with it, and I’ve already made a considerable dent in how many pages of the journal I’ve used up. I’ve used the pen I received in my Sentence A Day gift set, which is a perfect match and yet another favourite stationary item of mine from Kikki K, and I’ve just absolutely been loving writing in this journal. It’s not too heavy or too thick, it’s quite slim and fits well into most of my handbags (just in case) and I love that I’ve actually been committing myself to it (so far) this year. I can definitely foresee myself making many more purchases from Kikki K in the future, as everything they sell is useful, beautiful and very stylish.

Now I know what you’re thinking (‘ewwwww’), but hear me out. I grew up on Weetbix, a horrid combination of soggy oats, puree’d fruit and warm milk that my mother forced upon me almost every single day before school (primary school, just to be clear). I absolutely hated the stuff, I couldn’t stand it one bit. At least until I grew up a little (more than ten years) and realised that the way my mother had been serving Weetbix to me was probably one of the worst possible ways to do so. I mean, was she trying to torture me? Now though, I can’t get enough of the stuff. I usually have between 3-4 every morning, with just a little bit of milk (not an amount that I could possibly drown in), raw sugar and a dash of honey. I’ve always been a fast eater, but usually anything I have for breakfast rarely fills me up, but now that Weetbix does I think that I’ve found my staple, every morning, ‘go to’ breakfast food item,

These little balls of chocolate wafer goodness will probably be the death of me. I literally can’t stop eating them. It’s getting dangerous for my health. I don’t even remember the day that I first became obsessed with them this month, but it’s happened now and I really need to stop myself (but they’re so good). There’s still an entire box of them left in my fridge though …..

Chai latte
I entirely blame this one on my boyfriend, and his own personal obsession with chai lattes. I’ve always been a huge coffee fan (and addict), but the first time I tried a chai latte, I was basically repulsed and vowed to never, in my life, have chai again. Well I was wrong, and clearly very overly dramatic at the time. How can one person so suddenly change their opinion on something? I have no idea, but I’m so glad that I did because now I just can’t get enough of the stuff. I think I’ve had too much of it in the past month though, and I find that I’m kind of slowly becoming a little bit sick of the sweetness of it’s flavour, so I may need to cut back a bit in the next few weeks. However, chai lattes are definitely a new favourite of mine, which is potentially dangerous to my already alarmingly high caffeine addiction. I never really make coffee at home, so I’ve mainly been ordering these at cafes and/or restaurants.

I’ve always hated tea, and have definitely always preffered coffee as my caffeinated beverage of choice. Lately though I’ve slowly been adapting my taste buds to the liking of tea, preferably English Breakfast (with one teaspoon of sugar and milk, always with milk). I won’t go out on a limb and say that I’m the worldest greatest fanatic for tea, but I’m slowly but most assuredly coming an addict. It’s hard to resist a cup or two a day when your boyfriend makes the best cup of tea in the world.

So those are all of the things that I’ve really been enjoying throughout the past month. I know there’s a lot, but hey, I guess February was just the right time for me to find new pleasures.

– x0


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