Friday, December 29, 2017

17 cool things that happened in 2017!

How is it the end of the year?  I feel like so much happened this year, both good and bad and it all went by in an instant!  I thought it'd be a grand way to end the blogging year with a look back over 2017 and 17 deadly things that happened!  It's been a whopper year and I'm dying to get stuck into 2018!

1. Hello Matthew Constantine!

Little baby Matthew is the best thing that happened this year by a mile!  He was named after my Dad and we'll be sure to tell him all about his grandad when he's older.  He's the cutest little chap with dimples that'd melt your heart and every time we see him, we see a new bit of his personality showing through.  Gas fella!

2. The Steps concert aka the best concert ever!

That Steps concert was the best night ever in life and I'm fierce old so I've had a lot of nights to go by!  Sweet Jesus they were amazing!  I recorded some snaps and saved my story for Facebook, but looking back at it, I felt like I was a 20 something again without a care in the world and haven't sang or screamed that much at a concert ever!  Needless to say Joanne and I have booked tickets to see them in Limerick next summer so apologies ahead of time for our terrible singing if you happen to be there.  Steps are cheesy, fill me with nostalgia and I feckin love them!  Bonus points if you watched my story that night and had to listen to me warbling!  And who could forget the Vengaboys video!  If you know what I'm talking about, just know that I'm giggling here just thinking about it!

3. I learned to wax!

Back at the start of the year, Ellen asked me if I'd be interested in taking a course in Waxperts that she and Trish are offering to anyone who has never waxed before.  As I'm always on for learning something new, I got stuck in, literally, with the gorgeous Tara Anderson.  We had such good fun doing the 2 day course and it's not every day you get to give your pal a bikini wax wha!  I must find the videos of Tara investigating the strip of wax with her bulbs and me getting my ronnie done!  I want to do another course this year and I'm thinking something nails related.  Time to research!

4. I did some deadly collabs!

I'm very picky about what collaborations I do and it has to fit with what I'm about.  I won't put my name to everything and anything for a few bob and I've worked so hard to maintain my integrity in 2017.  For me, collaborations are more than me just recommending a product.  I want to be creative with them and I put my heart, soul and guts into them.  I've done jobs where I've had free reign to do whatever I wanted and I've done ones where the brand approved each and every step, but every bit of them all were me.  My words, my photos, my opinions, my bit of craic and I'm proud of every single one I did in 2017.  I loved teaming up with Catherine for a couple of them and we have plans to do more next year!

5. I went to London with Sleek makeup!

I don't think I've laughed so much on a press trip before and the couple of days in London with Sleek makeup was one of my all time favourite trips ever.  We had the best group of girls who just got on and there were no egos, no notions, just a mutual love of makeup and absolute craic!  The actual human Queen of England drove past us in her car, flag and all, we saw Richard what's his name from The Crystal Maze while having afternoon tea in Covent Garden, we saw the Dreamgirls show where Jen bawled from the first song and every time I looked at Aisling, she had tears in her eyes with the look of "Is this real life", I got my makeup done by the ridiculously talented Eloise (go follow her on Instagram as her videos are brilliant!) and got to bring some new Sleek products out exploring!  I dunno, I look back at things like this and am so appreciative that I get to do them.  It's mad Ted.

6. I discovered the world of Podcasts!

Joanne and Will started doing their own podcasts earlier in the year and you should listen to them here! #NotSpon  Theirs was the only podcast I listened to regularly until I drove down to Waterford on my own.  A three hour journey can get pretty boring just listening to music, so I listened to Lily and Anna's podcast followed by some of Gary Vaynerchuk's and was hooked.  I broke my shite laughing at season 1 of "My Dad Wrote a Porno" while painting the garden fence in the summer and now I listen to online marketing/social media shows when driving to and from work.  I've learned so much from them over the course of the last few months and it's a great way of multitasking!  While I love having videos playing in the background when I'm doing bits in the house, I feel like I've accomplished something by learning and getting motivation while I do the mundane chores.

7. Aisling got married!

Another bridie got married in September and it was such a gorgeous wedding... I was holding it together until Ais was floating up the aisle in her stunning dress and said "Hi bridies!"  Then the tears came!  There was so much love in that room for Dean and Aisling, so much emotion coming out of my eyeballs and it was a truly fantastic day.  Also, it was the day I wore red lipstick outside of my office ok bye.

8. I upped my Instagram game!

One of my goals for 2017 was to make my Instagram feed look gorgeous and without tooting my own horn too much, I did it.  I put the head down, I took hundreds and hundreds of photos and I love how it turned out.  The Charlotte Tilbury page asked if they could regram my photo which was deadly, but what was even better was that people started to recognise that a photo was taken by me!  I work hard trying to do something different to everyone else and while it can be frustrating to see people "taking inspiration" from me, I know I'll always be trying new things, new techniques and taking photos will always be my favourite part of the blogging process.  For me, it's not about the numbers, it's about the engagement and every like and comment is very much appreciated!  PS Follow me here on Instagram if you'd like!

9. I came second in blog awards!

There are certain blog awards that I don't enter as the results are heavily influenced by the brand sponsoring the categories and after hearing what's gone on behind the scenes over the years, I don't enter them.  The Blog Awards Ireland are different though because they're judged by peers, both members of the public and bloggers, and by experts in the categories.   I signed up to be a judge the last couple of years and I think the judging process is really fair.  Anyway, awards are not the be all and end all of blogging but it was nice to be recognised after 7 years of doing this.  Speaking of which...

10. I reached 7 years of blogging!

I blogged about this is more detail back in September, but I'm so proud of myself for sticking with something for so long!  Yes there have been times where life has taken over and the blog has been put on the back burner, but it's always been there.  I still use it as a distraction from life and while I've had a couple of blips over the years, I still love it so much.  I love most of the process!  I love photographing the products, testing them out, writing about them and telling you what's good and what isn't.  My least favourite part of it is editing the photos because I go wild and take dozens for just one post and it takes ages!  People are reading blogs less and less nowadays, relying on social media for their information, but I want a blog with reviews and with information that's google-able, so you can make an informed decision on whether to buy something or not.  My aim with blogging isn't to influence you into buying a product, it's to let you know as much as I can about it so you can decide for yourself.  This is a whole blog post itself!!

11. I was in Stellar magazine!

After my post on 7 years blogging, Vicki Notaro, editor of Stellar magazine, got in touch saying I'd inspired her to do a feature on the original bloggers who were still around after all these years!  It's a lovely feature and they just put it up online if you missed it in the magazine itself.  I'm in great company and in a world where bloggers come and go, it's nice that some of us are around for the long haul.

12. I tried Botox!

I wrote about my experience in detail earlier in the year and I'm not going to lie, I was a bit nervous of how it was going to be received!  Because I've a massive forehead, I don't have a huge amount of lines on my forehead, but my frown lines were something I was conscious of, especially when I take photos of my face in great detail every week.  Not only did my elevenses disappear, but the Botox helped me look like a more refreshed version of myself and as I'm getting on in years now, I'll take all the help I can get!

13. We all went to London!

Back at the start of February, the whole ConstantDeKortRoy gang went to London for a weekend trip and also so us girls could go see the Strictly live tour.  It was amazing and I loved the whole thing from start to finish!  We ate lots of food, walked miles and miles and just had a deadly time!

14. We got the garden done!

I know this isn't very exciting, but at the start of the summer we got the garden done.  I'd let it get too bad to be able to manage, but we found a guy who transformed it completely into something we can keep a handle on.  Yes I still hate cutting the grass and if I could get fake grass I would!  But I think it looks lovely with the fence painted, the little patio relatively flat and I love how wonky our paving slabs are.  The wonkier the better!  We're hoping to do more with it this year, but for now, we have a garden that we can use and that Matthew will be able to play in when he's older.

15. I made some more friends!

It can be hard making friends in the online world, especially in the blogging world.  So many people have an agenda and in a world of being dropped when you can't do anything for someone anymore, there's nothing better than finding like minded people who you can bounce off and who inspire you.  They're the ones who you can meet up with and neither of you think to pick up the phone to snapchat it.  I've met and gotten to know better some truly inspiring and hardworking women this year who keep me motivated, are so good at what they do and work their asses off.

16. I was named a Sermo beauty influencer?!

I'm not going to lie, when I got a notification on Twitter saying that I'd been included in Sermo's top 10 Beauty and Grooming Influencers in Ireland, I had to google what that meant.  I'm delighted to be included in that bunch and I don't have a baldy notion how it's calculated, but I'll take it!

17. I handed in my notice to work!

Now, I'll fill you in on this in more detail soon, but this has been in the works since August!  My actual nerves are shot to shit as I'm taking a big risk on myself, as is my new boss who I don't think will ever understand how grateful I am...  I'm older than all of the other bloggers and influencers out there and I don't have their numbers or following.  But what I do have is fire in my belly and a love for all things beauty and you can't fake passion like that.  I don't do as much paid work as they do, so I'm stepping out on a limb, but sure listen.  Be grand!

As I mentioned above, I refuse to promote just anything for a few bob and it's why I've worked full time for 7 years along with blogging.  Now I think I've proved to people that I'm here for the long haul, that I won't sell out, that I work hard and produce great content.  I don't want to be a millionaire.  I just want to earn a living doing what I love and the idea that it's a possibility for me now is wild.  If I've enough to pay my mortgage and my bills and travel a bit, then I'll be happy out.

I want to see what it's like to look forward to going to work every day and to be able to use skills and knowledge I've learned over the last few years.  I want to have more of a work/life balance and not feel like I'm playing catch up all the time with everything.  I just want more than what I have right now, but still, it's fierce scary for me!

I've been in the same job for 9.5 years and back in 2008, it was exactly what I'd needed as my marriage had ended three weeks before the day I started that job.  It was easy, it was comfortable, but over the last 6 months, I think I was stuck in a rut and needed to change things up.  As the saying goes, if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.  This might work out for me and it mightn't, but what's important for me is that I'll have tried.  Either way, I need a change because I'm running on empty lads!  When I've settled into things, I'll fill you in more, but I'll be finishing up full time work at the end of January and will be working part time in a ridiculously dynamic company in a consultancy role doing social media and content creation for brands, leaving me more time to work on the blog, create my own content, team up with brands and just see where it takes me.

Me nerves!  Sure we'll see what happens!


Friday, December 15, 2017

Boots Star Gift - No7 Star Beauty Collection, was €100, now €48! #AD

One of the most satisfying things in a beauty lover's life is to find a gift set where you know you'll use every single product.  This makes the justification for the purchase all the easier.  Something else that makes the justification even easier is when said gift set with all the usable products is on sale.  Say hello to the No7 Star Beauty Collection which is on sale from today December 15th up until December 24th down from €100 to €48.  And wait, I'm not finished!  If you were to buy all of the products individually, they'd set you back €194.... I know.  But let me show you what's inside to sweeten the deal even more!

Need a moisturiser?  How about two?  One for the day and one for the night, both supercharged by Matrixyl 3000+, promising to target fine lines and wrinkles.  The day cream has an SPF15 and even though it's the middle of winter and probably aren't seeing the light of day, still, SPF is important so listen to your auntie Karen and use it.

How about something for your peepers which might be looking at bit worse for wear with all of the late nights this month?  The No7 Protect and Perfect Advanced Eye Cream targets fine lines (I like to call them laugh lines and must be doing an awful lot of laughing by the looks of them).  It's lightweight and I'm looking forward to giving it a go.  I can't be without lip balm in the winter, so the No7 Protect & Perfect Lip Care will be joining my lip balm collection and I'll be putting it through its paces.

I love products like the No7 Skin Illuminator Nude that can be used a few different ways.  On days where you can't face putting on foundation, or you're just really happy with how your skin is looking by itself, applying this on its own will give your skin soft radiance, making you look nice and healthy, when in fact you're on that festive freefall and are actually looking forward to eating lettuce and fruit in January.  It can also be mixed in with your foundation for a softer all over glow, and can be applied on top of your base along the high points of your face like the cheekbones and browbone to make you glow!  Multifunctional products make me happy!

There's a No7 Exceptional Definition Mascara in the set which I'm dying to try out along with a No7 Highshine Lipgloss in Sparkling Rose which has already been added into the collection in my handbag of wearable shades for work.

If you can get into the habit of removing your makeup properly in the evening, you're already on the road to improving the overall condition of your skin.  I've used the No7 Beautiful Skin Eye Makeup Remover before and it does a stellar job at removing my eyeshadow, liner and mascara without rubbing or tugging.  For the rest of my makeup, a cleanser like the No7 Beautiful Skin Hot Cloth Cleanser used with the No7 Muslin Face Cloth will make quick work of removing the war paint easily and effectively.  If you want to be fierce virtuous, cleanse a second time with this, allowing the first cleanse to remove your makeup and the second cleanse to work its magic on your skin itself.

Face masks are a must have and a treat as well in the winter months and a No7 Beautiful Skin Hydrating Mask Dry/Very Dry so what better way to end the day than to slather this on, pour a glass of mulled wine and just relax.  Forget Netflix and chill, these days I'm all about face mask and chill.

This gift set is ridiculously great value and in case you need reminding, the contents total up to €194, but the set is on sale for €48, less than the original price of €100!

The No7 Star Beauty Collection is on sale from today, December 15th until December 24th both in store and online!  Will you be picking one up for someone, or maybe treating yo'self between now and Christmas?!


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Christmas gift guide - the candle edit!

Now that it's cold and the twinkly lights are up in force (we don't even need to turn on our lamps because we've that many lights on the go in the living room), I'm all about that candle life.  And I was thinking just how easy they make life when it comes to gift giving at Christmas.  You need to buy something for your Secret Santa?  Candle.  You need a little stocking stuffer?  Totally get a candle.  You don't know the person you're buying a gift for that well?  Caaaaaaandle.  You need a bit of treating yo'self?  Can't go wrong with a candle.  So I thought I'd show you a few and maybe give you a bit of gifting inspiration this month!

A couple of years ago, one of my Mam's friends Helen gave her this Shearer candle for Christmas and it's so festive!  Usually I find Christmas scents like frankincense and myrrh very heavy and overpowering, but not this one, not even a bit.  It's smooth, mellow, has a hint of mulled wine about it, but it's basically cosy, Christmassy and I love it!  I bought it on Amazon but I'm sure chemists have them too, just the effort of life for me going searching for it when it's right there online!  We're saving this for Christmas eve, but can I ask you a question?  Do you not think this absolutely goes with my Christmas tree with the candle lights and the nostalgia?  Yeah, I thought so!

Unless you've been living under a rock, you'll know that the whole Lovely Girlie Bits clan are obsessed with all things This Works.  We usually pick up one of the lavender scented candles when we see them on sale in TK Maxx and have gone through so many over the years.  This limited edition Petitgrain & Jasmine candle is so soothing and relaxing, almost smelling like a spa, and I feel fierce serene when I give it a whiff.  I think this is a people pleaser in terms of scent as it's gentle, not offensive at all at all and is just plain lovely.  The Black Spice & Cedar candle is definitely one for those who love a stronger, woody, aromatic scent.  It's one you'd light after you've lit the twinkly lights on the tree, have stuck the heat on and have a glass of wine in hand.  It's cosy and that's all you need to know.  These are €33 and burn beautifully.  Love 'em!

I bought this Lump Of Coal candle recently when working with TK Maxx and I've been saving it until the tree and decorations went up!  It's one of those random things I came across in there and it was only €9.99, so it came home with me.  As anticipated, it smells like a fire and if you're living in an apartment or don't have an open fire to roast yizzer chestnuts and all that, lighting a candle like this will give you the fireside feels.  TK Maxx and HomeSense have loads of different candles so take your time, have a proper look and you might come away with a gem.

Give me anything with a motivational quote and I'm all over it!  I bought this little beaut in Next in Belfast a few weeks ago and loved the sentiment.  Saying yes to new adventures over the years has really paid off for me as much as my insides can try to stop me!  A candle like this makes a lovely stocking stuffer and at €7.50, it's easy on the purse too.  It smells like white jasmine, one of my favourite scents of all time and I'm holding on to it until the new year because come January, I'm all about those floral scents!

I'm trying to remember if I've ever had a candle that smells like a perfume and while I don't think I'd be able to wear the deeply sweet Bonbon fragrance, I am in love with the candle version.  It's got notes of caramel, orange blossom and blackcurrant which sounds a bit heavy, but it's really uplifting too.  If you or someone you know loves the Bonbon scent, then you're going to want to check this out and they've a Flowerbomb candle too!

It's currently out of stock on the Debenhams website but keep an eye in store as it's on sale!  It was €45 and is now €38.25, so keep your peepers open!

Ellen & Trish sent me one of their Waxperts candles when they first launched and I went ahead and burned it in warp speed because Mam and I were obsessed with it.  Then I realised I had nothing to show in my gift guide so I bought another one (any excuse!)  If you're a lavender lover, you're going to enjoy this and get ready for it to relax you in minutes thanks to the Lavender Essential Oil.  Ellen has said that creating the candle was a real labour of love so I say "Thanks v much girdles because now when I light this, I have about 22 minutes before I'm fighting to keep my eyes open on the couch!"   It's €30 and is available from Waxperts salons or online too.

What are you go to candles for yourselves or for gifts for others?  I'm always trying out new ones so which should I add to my list!?

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