Another Catch Up

Hi everyone!

It’s been a good month and a half since my last post. I made sure to take some time off after exams to chill then ended up diving into part-time work in a slightly drastic change to my routine that took some time to adjust to. I’ve managed to get a little bit of balance back, so here is a rambling post about some of the things I was up to recently, with some photos of other things I did.

This lil cat from The Kitty Cafe in Nottingham represents me during the summer. And maybe all the time.

You all know I have a long list of hobbies and interests I like to switch and rotate between a lot. Makeup has fully fallen out of the rotation, it seems. I haven’t touched my box of new items in MONTHS and I wear the same casual lipsticks for work all the time, although to be fair I have rarely gone out to do anything else. So, as a result, I am kind of stuck for beauty content.

I have picked my reading back up again as well, although it seems my pace slows every time I do. I finally finished reading The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, and then I finished Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin, too. I particularly loved the latter, especially the second half. It’s very sweet and emotive, not romantic in the typical sense, and deliciously dark. I will be seeing Sarah Maria Griffin in an event in a few weeks, which I am really excited for now.

Books I read2.jpg
Some terrible doodled versions of covers of the books I read.

Just a few days ago, I finished Blade Runner, or originally ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ by Philip K. Dick – It’s a shorter read compared to my last two but I am enjoying it a lot so far. I’m only two chapters in, and the worldbuilding is done really… concisely, with lots of ‘show, don’t tell’. As much as I can deal with flowery prose, I really like this about this book so far. Gotta take notes.

Anyhow, my next pick will be Sabriel by Garth Nix. I have a goal to make it through as much of my current TBR this summer as possible!

This is Zaap Thai Street Food, also in Nottingham. I thought I had stepped out onto a street on the other side of the world! The details were amazing and reminded me of a night in Ho Chi Minh City, too.

I recently acquired a Nintendo Switch, so most of my days off have consisted of wandering Hyrule semi-aimlessly. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is so OPEN and I love it – almost everything can be interacted with. At some point, I am going to have to learn and actually remember some combat controls though because simply charging into the nearest enemy flailing a Boko Bat and panicking won’t work all the time…

My favourite part of the game beyond exploring is probably gathering ingredients and cooking food, as boring as that sounds. Autosaves in this game make me feel invincible even though I’ve gotten ‘Game Over’ at least nine times. I do like to dive into new areas but you know when it’s misty and I paraglide in only to have the mist reveal a bunch of Lizalfos that kill me in one hit? Sigh, yeah that kind of sucks.

The Warehouse Cafe is a nice Veggie Only place to check out. I wasn’t into this dish (the filo parcel) personally but I’d love to go back and check out other items on their menu!

I also bought Stardew Valley, which I really like because whilst I loved Harvest Moon DS, it was… tedious, for lack of a better word. Stardew Valley feels very similar… maybe better, though! I tend to like these no-pressure games a lot more. I also bought Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles, for another open-world like BOTW, but also no-pressure kind of thing. It’s okay so far. Can’t climb things though. Can’t even enter buildings or swim, so it’s not as open, and sometimes the movement and camera controls make me dizzy, but it’s a welcome change from Guardians and Lizalfos.

I feel stuck with my drawing. I’m finding it really hard to be happy with stuff I draw at the moment making it really hard to continue. I keep thinking every line and resulting picture needs to be perfect (I finally understand the idea of ‘meaningful lines’ my art teacher kept going on about in school but it’s hard!) and it’s so frustrating that I can’t put my ideas on paper/computer yet. I think I will start experimenting with brush settings and some other digital techniques beyond just sketching. I have actually gone back to dabbling in writing too, but like… actually writing stuff instead of just planning forever and never getting words down on the page.

Anyway, I am scheduling some long-overdue beauty posts from before the hiatus, and I hope to still be chatting to myself here afterwards. If I’m not grinding for money or still dying in games.

Until next time,

X

[Makeup and Chatter] Lunch at The Botanist

I don’t know about you, but I’m really enjoying this unintentional ‘Makeup and Chatter’ series. I get to talk about a good day with nice memories at a place I haven’t been to before, as well as share a makeup look. Oftentimes posts with only the former don’t do so well but I really do enjoy writing those so I’m glad I’m finding a way to keep them going. Also, I can’t keep these photos languishing in my computer folders forever.

The Botanist is a bar and restaurant which, in Birmingham, is tucked away on Temple Street, off New Street, just around the corner from Tesco Metro and a bit further up than Ryman’s. I didn’t even realise that it was a place you could eat – it’s one of those places easily overlooked, I think.

The bar has a glass ceiling part (I’m sure there’s another word for it…) which lights up that area quite well for photos, including this gorgeous coloured centrepiece I took a few snaps of, but otherwise, the restaurant is ambiently lit and very cosy. We went in just as it opened and it was still pretty busy for the lunch period as far as I could tell. As orders were taken and the restaurant leapt into action the smell coming out of the kitchen was divine. I stopped regretting skipping breakfast (by accident) right away.

I ordered the Berry Good Times Mocktail and the Butternut Squash, Goat’s Cheese and Mushroom Pie. It was a really nice comfort meal and I totally stuffed myself. The hanging kebabs looked fascinating, though. Maybe next time! I can never make it through a two course meal unless the portions are really small or I am especially starved… Is it just me? Otherwise I would have totally gone for dessert.

I finally gave my friend her Christmas present, a handmade hat like this one but in a different colour scheme, dark green and grey. I might do another post on it. On the other hand, she gave me a few packets of instant miso soup which taste really good and can’t really be found here. We spoke about a lot of things over lunch, like makeup (okay, that part of the conversation was mostly me) and boys (also me, but not normally my conversation topic of choice) and general facts about each other.

The thing about making new friends now is that there’s a breadth of past and potential to talk about as we get to know one another. She’s already finished her year of study here and moves back home soon and I will miss her to bits, as she was actually one of the first few friends I made at university, too.

Her birthday was yesterday and I hadn’t figured out what lipstick to buy for her (I am living my lipstick-buying life vicariously) so we popped around Selfridges, got sucked in by the lady at the YSL counter for several minutes, and ended up popping around MAC and picking a satin nude shade. We also popped by a NYX stand and I spotted a Soft Matte Lip Cream in Stockholm on sale for £4 (it’s on my wishlist for after I finish a certain other product) and I had to tear myself away from the counter, ASAP. In hindsight, that was pretty funny.

I had a lecture in the morning so I couldn’t go completely overboard with the makeup. I did end up a little late anyway (this isn’t usual of me! Don’t worry! I’m normally twenty minutes early!!) but this was because I made the over-excited last minute decision to add false lashes. Yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking either.

I practised last night and it went okay, but that meant nothing this morning. It took me two attempts and then, not being used to using eyeliner with false lashes, the lashes got in the way and my eyeliner wasn’t so great. But I let that pass. Some makeup mistakes nobody else will really notice and this was one of them. The other was that my falsies were uneven.

The weather decided to turn bad just as I began to take photos but I persisted!
It got so dark in the space of two minutes, I was shook.

Eyes
Etude House Proof 10 Eye Primer
Kat Von D Shade and Light Eye Contour Palette
Shades Ludwin, Succubus, and Saleos
CLIO Kill Black Brush Pen Liner
Shu Uemura Standard Eyelash Curler
(These are only on trial at the moment but so far, I love them.)
Eyelure Naturalites False Eyelashes
(I can feel them on my eyelids but they’re not uncomfortable, although I put that down to my inexperience. I’m sure these are an old pair, the packaging is different but this box has been lying around unopened for years, I tell you)
Urban Decay Troublemaker Mascara

Base
Maybelline Age Rewind Eye Eraser Concealer in Light
Innisfree No Sebum Powder
(Note to self – base was already breaking down by the three-hour mark.)

Lips
Lancome 06 Rose Nu
(I am always surprised by how well this lasts and it almost never bleeds… at least in a bad way…)

I never really use eyebrow products these days… I’ve been wanting to try out some eyebrow mascara type products like Boy Brow and so on but my fringe covers my brows, and my brows themselves are thankfully nice if not needing a bit of tidying from time to time.

But anyway, that’s what I got up to today. My exams are over and I’m back in the full swing of uni and part-time work. I hope you’re all doing good!

Until next time,

X

 

Cafe Visits: Javalounge

Aside from all those good resolutions for the sake of being a better person (more on that later this month), one of them is to visit more cafes. Especially local ones that can’t really be found anywhere else. It seems a bit pricier than my usual Tesco’s £3 meal deal (that I’ll never give up, ever) but it’s probably money better spent, compared to, say, makeup.

But yeah, I’ve been harbouring a longing to be a coffee shop hipster for a long while but never mustered up the willpower to go. So on a day out with my siblings before the holiday feeling wore off, I suggested we all go to one together. The original cafe of choice was Damascena but it looked sort of busy? Although later I found out that they sort of have more space than what I saw… One other day, okay?

So we headed around the corner and down the road to Javalounge. It has a really warm atmosphere with the lights and decor. I wanted to sit at one of the enticing window booths but it seemed some filming was happening there and the free booth was within shot… maybe next time!

My brother and I ordered the special coffee eggnog. I’m not sure what was eggnog about it, as I’ve never tried it but it was nice and really hit the spot. My sister picked the banana milkshake, which was also pretty fabulous if you’re not a coffee drinker. The food was okay. It was filling and I did enjoy it, still. If I ordered again I’d probably go for my sister’s mozzarella wrap. The coffee more than made up for it though.

(We were too full to buy a dessert.) Oh, and they have free wifi. Perfect for sitting at the table on our phones and just chilling for half an hour.

Until next time,

X

 

 

Packing for a Trip to Vietnam

Hi everyone! I’m playing around with some photo editing things like title cards, so bear with. Let me know if you like this one! In the meantime…

It’s the rainy half of the monsoon in Vietnam at the moment but when the sun is out, it’s intense. I’ll die at 21 degrees in Bham but in VN? If our air con is set that low my grandmothers would freeze. We would also freeze. Even with the air con at 26 degrees, my cousins are in jackets that they’ve dug out from their drawers because in Vietnam they just never need them! With lows of 28 and highs of 33 (up to 38 in the North of Vietnam during the summer, and into the 40s during the hot-monsoon in the South!) one must come prepared.

I should note that my travel experiences are probably very different to the average tourist so it would be wise to check out the views of others before deciding what to bring.

Sunscreens

Anyway, sunscreen is obviously a must. I had my trusty Kose Suncut Ultra UV Aqualy Protect Gel SPF50, to be liberally applied and reapplied. I also had a Biore Perfect Milk if I want to be a little more matte. My brother has trialled Sunplay’s Aqua UV SPF81(!!) and liked that. Most of my sunscreens didn’t last longer than an hour in the blistering heat of North VN, even the matte, longwearing ones so one that can be reapplied often without issues is essential.

By the way, I’ve found Biore sunscreens at larger malls here for about a fiver, which is cheaper than I would buy them for online.

For body sunscreen I like the spray formulation of Nivea’s Protect and Refresh Sunscreen. It doesn’t make me itch like the cream formula and the spray makes it incredibly light and quick to use. The pump, however, did fail on us after a few weeks leading to an incident where I got watery sunscreen poured over my legs. If I could have, I would have decanted the sunscreen but I’m not sure what decanting does to a sun-protective formula – does it need a dark container?

You can try covering up, but if you’re not used to thirty degrees on the daily, just stick to your sunscreen and be sure to stay in the shade during the noon hours. You’re going to rely on shorts and loose tees a lot. Bring your hats and your high UV shades – the sun here is really bright when it’s not raining!

Mosquito repellent 

Essential. Apparently, to repel mosquitoes one needs a good repellent and a fan or air conditioner blowing on you at all times. We used the Jungle brand’s most repelling spray and it worked – a good idea to get a repellent with DEET. I got 10 bites the one night I felt too lazy to put it on.

Soothing cream/bite zapper

To help when the above fails you.

My prescription spot treatment

I caved in and asked my GP for some acne treatment. I know. Skincare blogging going out of the window. I just want to look good on the holiday snaps and my acne just wasn’t going fast enough, especially the hormonal breakouts, which can go screw themselves. Anyway, I am still supplementing it with my routine and now I’m phasing it back out again but seriously I haven’t done a full routine in a long time. When my skin feels dry I use only a light moisturiser or a sheet mask in the evening, and it usually only feels dry due to the excessive use of air conditioning.

When my skin feels dry I use only a light moisturiser or a sheet mask in the evening, and it usually only feels dry due to the excessive use of air conditioning.

Concealer

I won’t be bringing foundation. If the heatwave-worthy weather in Birmingham is anything to go by, there’s utterly no point as I will just sweat off whatever is on my face. I sure as hell tried a bit of my regular concealers but even that sweats off in a hurry. There’s no relying on makeup here, guys. Definitely a good idea to amp up the skincare before flying out.

Lipsticks

I couldn’t live without all my lipsticks for a month. Light and long wearing options are a good idea, or ones that are easily reapplied. I may have gone overboard in stuffing my makeup bag, though – mostly because I wanted to try a variety and see what would work.

Here are a few that I have worn:

  • Revlon Balm Stain in Crush – Moisturising, staining.
  • Bourjois Beau Brun – A muted red, long wearing but very comfortable.
  • NYX Soft Spoken – A mid-dark nude.
  • MAC Nouveau Vogue – muted pink.
  • NARS Dragon Girl – This one made a lot of heads turn, it’s so bright and pink! NARS Cruella is also a good choice and one that many of us might have a mini of!
  • Rimmel Apocalips in Aurora – A relatively not-too-bright or too-muted pink.
  • Clinique Cherry Pop – this was also a big head-turner, it’s a very pinky red.

What I’ve found is that bright reds on the orange or pink sides are very popular. I recently gifted a Lady Danger by MAC to a cousin here and my mom scoured Superdrug before we left the UK on the search for red shades to gift to family and friends. On top of these, NARS Dragon Girl attracted a lot of looks on the one day I wore it out!

Shades in this colour range are SO, SO flattering on Vietnamese skintones. Nudes aren’t really seen if at all here, so mine barely got any use. I think being here for a month invigorated my love of reds.

For eyeshadows, I brought my Etude House eye primer, and two Maybelline Eye Tattoos in On and On Bronze and Metallic Pomegranate. Anything else is probably too much effort, in all honesty. I did bring my eyebrow pencils and eyeliners but even with an eye primer they just wipe off so easily despite being waterproof formulas! Despite that, CLIO Kill Black Brush Pen Liner has held up well in the Vietnamese heat.

Long story short, bring your longest wearing sunscreens, bold lipsticks and heavy duty mosquito repellent! Dress light and perhaps bring a waterproof!

Actually, bring a light jacket. Most days in Vietnam, you won’t need to use it, but if you are travelling home to a colder land like the UK, you’ll want to take it on the plane with you. The sharp weather change gave my whole family colds as soon as we got back! (Right now, I’ve only just recovered from a cold from the sudden change to Autumn weather here! I didn’t realise it affected me so much, I don’t usually get these kinds of co

How would you change up your makeup in the humid climate?

Until next time,

X

A Quick Update

Hi everyone!

I have 21 draft posts at the moment, meaning that I truly meant to post but didn’t get round to it or just did not hit the button! It’s been such a long while so I am just gonna pop a post out there and get the ball rolling so… yeah.

HELLO AGAIN.

I went to Vietnam for over a month, I got my retake results and I got into University, which I start this September! I’m currently working the Back To School season and trying to draw and write and relax and be happy.

That’s the thing, everyone. I feel great. I never mentioned it on this blog, but I was quite depressed for a time over the last three years and for once I am waking up feeling like it’s new days and not just the same thing.

I have lots of plans for this year to look forward to, and that’s the secret I learned, really – to break my old routines and do more things.

BOOM, that’s one post done. I’ll talk more about all these things in future posts but that’s all for now. I’ll be sure to schedule some posts before my only day off this week is up!

Until next time!!!!!

X

I’m in Vietnam!

Hi everyone!

I keep saying I will return to blogging more often yet the last three weeks have been a whirlwind of energy and exhaustion. I’m so sorry. It’s been more difficult than I thought to commit to getting back into this. Okay, X. (pumping fists) (Wait, what’s my bloggerly name again?) Let’s do some blog writing!

In a few days after starting to write this, I’ll be flying out to Vietnam. (I’ll also finish this post off there so please forgive any haphazardness in the writing.) Vietnam is a beautiful place to visit and we usually just visit family. However, this time, instead of travelling to a new country entirely, my siblings and I wanted to travel to more new locations within Vietnam. Actually, the conversation kind of went like this:

Parents: So since we’ve both been travelling a lot without you kids we feel a bit guilty so pick any location and we’ll consider it!

Us: Japan! Korea! (Mostly Japan because we’re all anime/manga nerds).

Parents: ER, that’s too far, we may as well go to Vietnam.

Us: Let’s go to Vietnam then!

Parents: But Vietnam is BORING.

Us: But we haven’t been to Ha Long Bay! Have we even been to HANOI?

This will be my fourth trip to the country in my lifetime and finally, I get to see Ha Long Bay! Well, there’s lots more places on our list, too. Vietnam has a heck of a lot of history and I think my brother and I are finally old enough to understand and take interest in what there is to be offered there.

I prayed hard for a window seat… and I got one! So happy. Lots of photos taken.

To answer the inevitable question I do understand enough Vietnamese to follow the gist of a conversation, and my speech is okay but definitely not fluent. In fact, last time we were in VN my mom, talking to her mom, cried, “Aren’t my kids cute? They speak Vietnamese like 5 year olds.”

I was 16, and so ashamed I barely spoke Vietnamese for the rest of the trip. Anyhow, despite mom saying it hasn’t improved that much, I will at least make an effort to speak this time around. I can carry simple conversations, especially home-related ones, but not broader school topics (what’s Psychology in Vietnamese?).

Vietnam is actually really affordable as long as you’re not the most delicate person on earth. That’s not counting the flights and the hotels, though. Most meals and necessities come in at under £1. In fact, my brother once got his hair trimmed for 17p. So there’s that, and food stalls are practically everywhere. You shouldn’t have an issue with vegetarian food as there are many vegetarian only places (look for the words “đồ ăn chay”) By delicate, I mean you may have to stick to tiny meals and bottled water only for the first few days to adjust. My brother and I were fine, but my mom fell ill on our second day in without being sure of what caused it.

There are more… commercial places to buy things like large malls and supermarkets. We always bring fresh fruits for our families – ones like cherries and blueberries that aren’t easily bought in VN. The big marts sell them but they’re not as fresh and nice. It’s like trying to buy dragon fruits and fresh coconuts in Birmingham – totally possible but pricier. Here, you can just watch people climb trees to pick young coconuts and help yourself to bowls of mangosteen and small bananas. It’s great.

On top of fruits, my mother would drag half the world’s supply of body creams/perfumes/giftable things to VN if she could. She’s an utter pain when it comes to packing. I’m not going to try and say more and I will try not to be so petty and possessive when it comes to my suitcase, but damn if she is going to stuff bowls in there last minute. Grrrr.

Saigon from the skies.

I have a couple of random tips from my last visit to VN, so I will share some here. Hopefully, I’ll pick up even more new stuff this time, too.

  • Always have bottled water on hand.
  • Don’t visit a zoo, unless you want to be depressed by animal treatment standards.
  • Don’t see a circus show, for the same reasons as mentioned above.
  • Cross a road by walking slowly – the motorcyclists will just swerve slowly around you. That said I am still terrified of doing this by myself.
  • Seafood is great if cooked fresh at local markets. At the same time, be a little cautious so you don’t waste a week of the holiday in bed, appallingly sick. Not that I am typing from experience or anything.
  • Bring your DEET insect sprays and spray often. A can of this spray has lasted me and Derp a week, sprayed on our exposed limbs and patted on face and neck. Even though we have been staying in low risk areas for malaria it doesn’t hurt to be careful.
  • The iced coffee is a must-drink, and cafes are everywhere.

So as I type this last paragraph I’ve been here a week, just getting used to being here again. I post little updates on my personal /art account @swanzig_x on instagram so check it out if you’d like to see more!

Until next time,

X

 

My Weekend in Bristol!

I’m nineteen now, everyone. Almost at that big two-zero and of course, by this time nobody quite wants to get older. Right now I actually want to skip to my late twenties when I have my life a little more put together but, of course, it can’t be done.

I spent my birthday weekend in Bristol visiting my best friend TrayTray. I think I packed just enough for the trip but maybe overdid it by bringing along the pink bed socks. I love those socks, but it seems they weren’t important enough to remember to bring back afterwards!

On our first day, we went for a scenic walk around, visiting the suspension bridge, and some of the local shops. We got quite lucky with the weather. Although the skies were grey we got a few peeks of sun for a few snaps (I was, of course, the designated photographer) and we got some fantastic shots. For a good group selfie, the little mirror maze in the Royal Fort Gardens is great! For good views, the suspension bridge is a nice place to visit.

There’s a really nice bubble tea and frozen yoghurt place called Flavalanche. We wanted to visit a dessert place during the weekend but that didn’t happen, sadly. At least there is always next time!

I went to a nightclub for the first time, and I was there as the clock ticked over to my birthday. Nightclubs are strange places. I mean, I can see the appeal. It’s losing yourself a little to familiar tunes or just a good house beat, yelling conversation at your friends although you can’t even hear yourself, and pretending to be cool in a forest of people. I didn’t bring my heels, so I am 100% sure I was the shortest person in the club to the point that the guy at the computer picking the tracks kept looking over at me like I was a 12 year old in the wrong place. I did enjoy myself somewhat and really wore myself out, but I don’t think it’s the life for me. Not unless I can find a club near me that can do a K-Pop themed night.

My absolute favourite photo of myself ever!

On our second day, we slept in. Then we got to have a look around the shops. I picked up a green embroidered sweater on sale and baby pink velvety cap which wasn’t on sale but I bought anyway because it was just so cute. This turned out to be a good idea as it got a little chilly in the evening. I think Bristol’s Cabot Circus and general shopping area is bigger than Birmingham’s Bullring and extended city shopping, but Tray seems to disagree! Even if Bullring has a lot of shops I think that in Cabot Circus, all the shops have a lot more space. That’s just my first impressions, however. Birmingham is, after all, the second city of England.

I wonder what it was about the changes to my beauty routine, but I found myself rubbing my nose and feeling up all the clogs in my skin after the weekend was over. It just felt super clogged compared to usual. Perhaps it was the new heavy mask I was trialling, the sheet mask, the sunscreen, my period, or just the fact that I’d worn makeup all day for two days straight where I hadn’t done it in ages, even if I had done my best to cleanse it off my face thoroughly. 

I really enjoyed myself that weekend to the point of struggling to get out of the holiday mood once I got back! I had a fantastic birthday and it was wonderful to spend it out of my home city.

Thank you for reading! Until next time,

X