It Starts Now

I’m so excited that I arrive half an hour early and have to sit in the lobby of the uber stylish Hoxton Hotel, people watching and becoming increasingly frantic that everyone walking past looks infinitely cooler than I do. The beloved imposter syndrome sets in but has to take a back seat; there’s nothing in this here world that would make me miss one of my favourite writers in conversation with one of my favourite websites, especially when the odds of free cocktails are high.

Photo provided by the lovely folks at Aperol UK.

Photo provided by the lovely folks at Aperol UK.

The event is called It Starts Now, a name that runs up my spine and reminds me of that whispered promise that the New Year brings. It’s run by the Debrief, sponsored by Aperol and plays host to three amazing bloggers who will be telling us exactly how to grab 2016 by the unmentionables.

I’m at the event solo. This is the undeniable downside to having cool friends…they are literally always booked out. I tentatively introduce myself to another girl in the corridor, Hannah, and by the time the doors open, we are already cheerily discussing micropenises. We are ushered into a bar that looks like it leapt directly out of Pinterest: black and white chequered tiles, bright orange everything, squashy armchairs, warm white fairy lights, bottles of stinging orange Aperol scattered artfully around. We’re given a cocktail each and advised to hang onto our glasses for top ups. This is excellent news.

Hannah’s plus one, Sarah, arrives shortly after and turns out to be just as excellent as Hannah. They very nicely let me gatecrash their evening and it is definitely their fault that I don’t have a single non-blurry photo of the night. I’m far too busy giggling and drinking Aperol Spritzes to stand still enough for a photo.

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After a little mingling, we are brought into a tiny cinema room and this is where the fun really starts. Jo from food blog Jo Eats London, Laura from lifestyle blog Superlatively Rude and Zara from beauty blog Mouldy Fruit sit in front of us and reveal the secrets to making 2016 a truly great year. Laura’s blog has been one of my favourites for a very long time. She’s one of the most stunning, truthful writers that I know, and if you haven’t read her blog before, you absolutely should. When I meet her, I instinctively throw myself at her, before panicking a split second too late that she isn’t a hugger. Of course, she is, so when I say goodbye, she gets a proper hug. Jo and Zara are both new discoveries for me but hearing them speak is amazing.

Jo talks about what’s going to be hotting up and what’s going to be cooling off in our kitchens. Cupcakes are over, thank the lord. Give me a slice of proper cake any day. So are spiralisers. Pasta is the way forward, says Jo. I think we’ll get on just fine. Jo is warm and sweet and funny and completely succeeds in making me very hungry. Apparently, in 2016, we need to be eating cauliflower. And doughnuts. And I’ll raise a glass to that any day.

Laura chats about life, love and social media, not necessarily in that order. Chat really is the right word for it. She goes off on tangents and laughs at her own notes when they get pompous – “I regularly prune my social media garden…what does that even mean?”, she chuckles at one point – and has all of us in stitches as she mourns the loss of her slightly uncool imaginary celebrity BFF Khloe Kardashian. Her message is the same one that rings out through her writing: do what feels good. She talks about authenticity and truth and beauty and I feel like standing up and doing a little victory dance every five minutes.

Zara is talking beauty. More specifically, beauty trends that will look just as good on your actual face as they do on Instagram. As she so aptly puts it, we’ve all gotten to the stage where we feel like we should have five Instagram filters on our faces before we even walk out the door. Excessive contouring is swapped for dewy, glowy skin, nude Kylie Jenner lips are replaced with bold cherry lips and swipes of turquoise eyeliner. I’m excited. Like the others, Zara started her blog because she felt like somehow, she had something to say. And she certainly does. I take a full page of notes of beauty products that I want to buy.

Zara, Jo and Laura.

Zara, Jo and Laura.

All three are warm and fun and gorgeous in every sense of the word. I leave the room feeling like 2016 is probably going to be the year that I take over the world. Sarah, Hannah and I head back into the bar where we sit and put the world to rights, drink a few more Aperol spritzes than is really appropriate for a school night and swap social media links and story ideas, before being politely ushered out after everyone else has left. What else are ya gonna do on a Wednesday night, right? Take a deep breath, my darlings. 2016 is here. It’s going to be a big one, if you’ll let it. Relax. Do you. Do what feels good. Introduce yourself loudly. Throw yourself in for the hug. Order another drink. Laugh too much. Get inspired. This is your life. It starts now.

Shine Bright Like A Diamond

Guys, this is getting seriously out of hand. I actually don’t know how I keep getting invited to these things. This week, in a shocking escalation, I was invited to have a sneak peek at the newest Vashi diamonds collection. Widely recognised as one the leading diamond experts, Vashi Dominguez creates jewellery for a suitably sparkling client list including…as if you are reading this and haven’t immediately scrolled down to check out the diamonds. I could say anything I wanted. Marmalade. Goldfish. I think Paul Bettany is sexy. Sometimes I have cake for breakfast. Phew, feels good to get that out in the open.

And so, to the diamonds. Oh my christ they were beautiful. When Niall texted me to ask how it was going, I think I just responded with variations on the word “sparkly”, all in capital letters, in case he wasn’t quite grasping the sparkle. I do not doubt Vashi Diamonds’ commitment to Sparkle Motion for a second. I decided to try basically every ring on, for science, of course. These are the sacrifices I make for you guys.

vashi diamonds

 

vashi diamondsLook at that sparkle. This was definitely one of my favourites. Made with platinum and boasting no less than 19 diamonds, this gorgeous engagement ring still managed to look delicate and feminine. In fact, this was a running theme through the whole collection. Even the biggest stones still managed to avoid looking tacky. It was all sparkle, no bling. I tried on this ring about 15 times and definitely eyed up the security guard to see if I could take him. I probably couldn’t have.

vashi diamondsThis was my other favourite. With a cool 37 diamonds, this ring was literally hypnotising. It would actually be dangerous for me to own this because I would just spend all of my time gazing at it and walking into things.

vashi diamondsThis blue sapphire will probably look familiar to a lot of you, being based on the infamous Princess Diana engagement ring. I always thought I didn’t really like coloured stones, and then I put this on my finger and never ever wanted to take it off.

vashi diamondsI just couldn’t resist. I challenge you to spend all night in a room full of diamond engagement rings and not stick one of them on that finger, even just for a photograph to give your boyfriend a heart attack.

vashi diamondsBecause you can never have too many diamonds. Modelled by the gorgeous Maria who was beyond lovely and awesome, and I am now fully rocking a girl crush on.

vashi diamondsMe, wearing about a year’s rent on my hands. Sigh. Can we skip to the bit where Niall is making buttloads of money?

vashi diamondsI wish that I could guarantee that “Can I take a photo of your hands?” was the creepiest thing I said all night, but my brain was definitely affected by the sparkle, so I can’t say for sure that it was. Ladies, if you’re reading, I apologise. Give me a wave!

And because a photo was never going to do the sheer sparkle any kind of justice, check this out:

diamondsEven on a truly dreadful iPhone video camera, I dare you not to stare at those babies for a worryingly long time. Only be careful you don’t stare too long, I’m pretty sure the sparkle seeps into your mind. On my way home, I got on a bus travelling the wrong way, and paid £1.45 to ride one stop in the opposite direction I intended to. And then I had to pretend that I got a phone call because I was too embarrassed to just get up and get off. I’m pretty sure the guy beside me was totally onto me. Be careful, with great sparkle comes great responsibility.

Which was your favourite from the collection? Please tell me I’m not the only blogger who feels like I’m constantly punching above me weight? Get in touch in the comments or at @EscapologistGl.

The Escapologist’s Daughter is up for two UK Blog Awards! You can vote in the Lifestyle category here and the Young Person’s Recognition category here. I’m not above bribery and I make really delicious cakes.

Build-A-Blog Goodies: Miscellany*

Welcome back to the Great Goody Bag Trawl, 2014! Yesterday, we talked about the amazing workshop run by Antonia Mariconda, and the skincare goodies that I found in my goody bag. As a major skincare junkie, I was thrilled at the lovely face pampering products in the bag, but there were also loads of other things to play with, and today is the day to try them out!

Quick goody bag reminder:

beauty blogger goody bag popart glossybox

The Base Makeup

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Sadly, being the human equivalent of Casper the Friendly Ghost, the Beauty UK CC Cream and the Essence Soft and Natural Makeup were too dark for me, and I figured it’d be pretty unfair to show off a potentially great product by uploading a picture of me looking like Snooki. But be sure to follow me over on Twitter and I’ll retweet any reviews that my fellow workshoppers put up! Or, if you’d like to try them out yourself, give me a shout in the comments and I can send them to you.

However! The Rimmel Matte BB Cream in light was just about perfect for my skin, so I decided to give it a go. I’ve never tried a BB cream before, so was excited to try this one.

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This is me with absolutely no skin makeup on. I have fairly good skin, with no major breakouts, but as you can see, I have a pretty uneven skin tone, with red patches on my nose, forehead and cheeks, as well as shiny skin from worshipping at the altar of Dominos too much.

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This is me wearing the BB cream (and nothing else). I was pretty impressed with how much this evened out my colouring and generally brightened up my face. It also has SPF 15, which is a big, big plus for me – I pretty much never wear sunscreen, even though I know I’m going to end up with a face like Alex Salmond if I don’t start. To be honest, I’m not entirely convinced that BB creams aren’t just fancy tinted moisturisers, but either way, this would be great if you’re the kind of girl who likes a little coverage but doesn’t want the feeling of a face full of makeup.

self tanner

We were also gifted this Gorgeous Bronze self tanner, but due to aforementioned ghostiness, I decided that the medium/dark shade probably wouldn’t be very flattering on me. So again, keep an eye on my Twitter page, where I will be sure to retweet any reviews from my less pigmentally challenged friends. And if you guys would like to give this a go and tell me what you think, let me know down in the comments!

The Eyes

I’m a little nervous when it comes to eye makeup, I’ll be honest. Having deep set eyes means that a lot of the time, eye makeup will make me look like I’ve been punched in the face. But mascara is my absolute desert island must. I can take or leave foundation and lipstick most days, but you will seldom see me outside without a quick swipe of mascara, so I was excited to have not one, but two new mascaras to try out!

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In the name of science, and to avoid having more pictures of my face than absolutely necessary, I decided to try both mascaras at the same time and compare. In this photo, the So Susan Flutter Mascara is on the left and the Essence Lashes Go Wild is on the right.

This looks like the poster for some avant-garde theatre.

This looks like the poster for some avant-garde theatre.

I was actually glad that I put both on at the same time because I don’t think I’d have noticed the difference as much if I was looking at them separately, but looking at them side by side, it was obvious that the Lashes Go Wild gave me significantly more length and curl. Both mascaras went on beautifully, with no clumping and both are lovely and black. The So Susan Flutter mascara lives up to its name by giving you pretty, natural, fluttery eyelashes, but if you’re like me and like a little more oomph, I’d recommend the Lashes Go Wild mascara. Both products are also cruelty free, which is amazing for you animal lovers out there.

As well as the two mascaras, our goody bags also contained pretty eyeshadow duos from Essence in irresistible smoky eye.

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The palette contained two shades, a silvery-lavender highlight and a dark slate-grey shade, perfect for creating pretty smoky eyes. I had a bit of a heart attack when I saw the dark colours, but the shadows actually go on much softer than they look in the palette.

Swatches, dry.

Swatches, dry.

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Swatches, wet.

The shadows can either be applied as normal, or can be applied with a wet brush for more intense colour payoff. I applied the highlight all over my eyelid with a fluffy brush and then pressed the darker shade into my lashline and round the outer corner of my eye for a natural, girly look.

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The shadows were just dark enough to provide a bit of definition and bring out the green in my eyes, while avoiding that classic fist-in-the-face look. To my surprise, I actually really liked this palette.

The Nail Polishes

I am obsessed with my nails. I absolutely love painting them, and tend to let them grow until it becomes physically difficult to carry out everyday tasks before I cut them.

nail polish review

This is the Ciate´ London Paint Pot in talent scout and oh my lord I love it. I mean, do I even need to say anything? Look how great that colour is. It’s the quintessential Daphne from Mystery Inc purple, and what more do we really need in life? The nail varnish comes with a nice big brush (small nail varnish brushes are a serious pet peeve), meaning the full nail can be covered in three strokes. It dried quickly and only took two coats to hit a glossy opaque finish. Go buy this guys, seriously, it’s great.

nail polish review

This is the Essence Colour & Go Polish in snazzy pumpkin (I didn’t know that was the name of it until right this second and I’m so damn happy), and was I ready to hate it. I took one look at this bottle and got ready to write it off. I mean, who wants nails the colour of a traffic cone, right? Turns out that I DO, all day, every day, for the rest of my life. This colour, which looks hilarious in the bottle, is absolutely beautiful on. It manages to be simultaneously funky and pretty and looks totally kickass with pale Casper skin. It also took ONE COAT to be totally opaque, in comparison with my Nails Inc orange, which takes at least three or four. I am in love. My nails are so very, very happy with this goody bag.

The Perfume

Well, there was bound to be something in the gift bag that I didn’t like, and I’m sorry to say, dear readers, that we have reached that point. I’m gutted that I didn’t like the Yves Rocher Quelques Notes D’Amour, because it came in the most adorable tiny packaging I’ve ever seen in my life. And I am a sucker for tiny packaging. The blurb for this perfume claims that it will recreate the feeling of falling in love through sensuous rose and patchouli. For me? Not so much. This perfume reminded me a lot of Dior’s classic, Poison, which I’ve also never liked, so if you love Poison, it might be your dream come true! I did like the scent better the longer I wore it, it softened and lost it’s sharpness, and the woodiness started to come through, but I don’t think it’ll be becoming a regular on my dressing table. As if I have a dressing table and not an unorganised box in my wardrobe.

The Miscellany

There are a couple of products that haven’t gotten a shoutout yet, because I think they’ll need more than one use to get to know them properly, including a genuinely terrifying tongue scraper.

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So if there’s anything you’re curious about from the goody bag that I haven’t mentioned yet, do keep an eye on my Twitter page, where I’ll be sharing more of my thoughts as they happen. All in all, this was a bloody amazing goody bag, and has done a great job of introducing me to new brands that I think I’ll be investigating in the very near future (hello, Essence!). Very happy, very pampered, very lucky.

What’s the best goody bag you’ve ever gotten? Did you all know about Essence already and now think that I’m super-lame? Should I just man up and get a Glossybox subscription? Chat with me in the comments or at @EscapologistGl.

*I was gifted these products for the purposes of review. All opinions are completely my own and completely truthful – promise!

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Build-A-Beauty-Blog Workshop, With Antonia Mariconda*

Today, I went to my first ever blogger event.

*Humorous sound effect of cherry being popped*

I put on my best beauty blogger outfit, packed my notepad and my grown up girl lipstick in my bag, and headed for the Soho hotel.

beauty blogger outfit

Apologies for the blurry photo – my mirror is dusty because I am a sham of an adult.

I arrived at the very chic Soho hotel, tucked away behind the hum of Oxford Street and was directed to the Indigo room. The Indigo room was basically the pinkest room I’ve ever been in, but I’ll forgive it since it boasted the snazziest wallpaper in the world.

beauty blogger gift bags

Get a load of that. The room was buzzing with beauty bloggers and industry professionals, all here to learn how to build a successful beauty blog from a serious beauty heavyweight.

I picked a table, and somehow, in a room of 40 people, in the middle of London, managed to pick a seat next to a fellow Glasgow girl. We chatted and got to know the other ladies at our table, all while tucking into some lovely breakfast goody bags.

goody bags

The bag contained loads of yummy snacks, and I wasted no time in scoffing a white chocolate and macadamia Clif Bar and a carton of pineapple coconut water. That’s right, I got to drink coconut water and pretend like I was fancy. Will let you know if I wake up looking like Beyonce tomorrow.

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I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the texture of coconut water, and I have to say, I kind of see what they mean. It’s almost oily in texture, but it tasted pretty good, plus, you know, Beyonce.

Then our host, the lovely, lovely Antonia Mariconda took to the stage, and spent the next 3 hours explaining, inspiring and giggling with us. With the help of tech wizard (official job title), Mark Bugg and freelance PR Jenny Pabila, Antonia took us through the basics of building a successful beauty blog from the ground up.

Confession time: I had a preconceived idea of what Antonia was going to be like. Despite absolutely adoring beauty products, spending far too much time reading beauty blogs and being a staunch lipstick feminist, I still had a harmless, but undeniably prejudiced idea of what she would be all about. And she absolutely blew me out of the water. By talking about her own experiences, as well as those of some inspirational women in the room, she reminded me that blogging is about growth and inspiration, about your journey through the world, and that sometimes, something as simple as a beauty product can turn everything around. She was so much more than the glossy, superficial beauty queen I had expected. And she reminded me that beauty and blogging can both be good for the soul. Yes, I got mushy. I went there. Deal with it.

beauty blogger event

Mark doing his thang.

The trio covered every stage of blogging, from knowing when you’re ready to blog, to using WordPress correctly, from developing your voice, to managing your relationships with brands and companies. Antonia cut in with anecdotes of the things that she had done right, as well as things she had done very, very wrong. She was brilliantly, hilariously candid, and wasn’t afraid in the slightest to use herself as a bad example. The presentation managed to contain tips that were as relevant for bloggers just starting out, like me, as they were to bloggers with 5,000 followers who were looking to take it to the next level. All three speakers were warm, funny and I totally wanted to take all of them for a pint afterwards. I learned some amazing tips, but more than that, I left feeling like I could take on the world. I felt like everything was out there, just waiting for me to reach out and grab it. I wanted to write. I felt…oh god, I don’t even want to say it but there’s no other word…empowered.

antonia mariconda

To save this post from being approximately 4000 words long, I decided to chop it up into sumptuous little bites that you can peruse at your leisure. Stay tuned for the next post, what you all really wanted to know…what was in the goody bags (Part 1)(Part 2)?

What’s the best blogger event you guys have ever been to? Who gave you career changing advice? What inspires you to blog? Chat with me in the comments or at @EscapologistGl.

*I was given a complimentary ticket to this event for the purposes of review. All opinions are completely my own and completely truthful – promise!

The Liebster

So, I think this means I have officially been accepted as a member of the blogging community: I’ve just received a Liebster nomination.

Tah-dah!

Tah-dah!

Don’t get excited, we’re not going to an awards ceremony or anything (yet). A Liebster is like a wave hello from the blogging world. A hug, but in the form of a list of questions. I’d like to thank A South Wales Blog for my nomination, and for some seriously lovely comments about my little blog.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Fiona. I’m a 22 year old over-enthusiast, aspiring funny lady, and Glasgow girl, slowly adjusting to life here in London. Very slowly. Like, tortoise stampeding through peanut butter level slow. It’s quite a culture shock.

This is my blog, the Escapologist’s Daughter. I’d love to say it had some kind of mission statement, but to be honest, I just like to talk. Its only real purpose is so that I can share my questionable adventures with anyone who wants to listen.

With no further ado, let’s proceed to the lightning question round:

1. Tell us something we don’t know about you?

I hate peas. Bonus points to anyone who got that reference, although I actually do hate peas.

2. What’s your ‘pet hate’?

Cashiers who put your change on top of your receipt and give it to you in one big, awkward handful. SERIOUSLY CASHIERS, get it together. Also, the fact that the word “focusing” never looks like it’s spelled right. I still don’t know if it should have two “s”s. And raisins. Fuck raisins.

3. What do you love about blogging?

The conversations that it starts! It never fails to surprise me, the things that people are interested in, or find funny, or want to know more about. People are wonderfully strange, and I think when you start reading or writing blogs, that all becomes a bit clearer.

4. What inspires you?

My family. I know, I know, that’s cheesy. But they’re pretty much the greatest people who have ever existed. And Elle Woods. She inspires me no end.

5. Where’s your favourite place to eat?

Tough one, mainly because I never have enough money to eat out. I love Italian food. My boyfriend hates pasta and cheese, because he’s a philistine, so whenever I’m out without him I head for the nearest Italian and order the cheesiest, pastaiest thing on the menu. Most excellent.

6. Have you got a pet? Tell us about them! If you have not, then what would you get if you could?

Oh, you are so going to regret asking this. I have a dog back home in Glasgow, called Juno. She is a flaming imbecile, but she’s entirely adorable, so gets away with it. For tales of her most ridiculous antics (including eating a tampon applicator, true story), feel free to click here.

Juno being generally awesome.

Juno being generally awesome.

I also have a hilarious rabbit called Smudge, who is great. He came with me to London on the train, and drew cries of “BUNNY!” from little girls and grown men alike. He roams around like a cat, and likes to demonstrate his affection by headbutting me in the legs. His heart can be won with grapes and coriander.

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7. What made you decide to start blogging?

I was actually struggling with depression at the beginning of this year, so I was having quite a lot of feelings, quite a lot of the time. The blog started as a way for me to get all the crap out of my system, and remind myself that there were still things that I liked about my life. It quickly became a lot less serious as I recovered, and grew into the madness that you see before you now.

8. If you were sent to a desert island, what 3 things would you take? 

Moisturiser. My skin doesn’t deal with with heat. Or cold. Or wind or rain or life, really. Without moisturiser, I quickly start to resemble a low-budget, peely Doctor Who villain.

A bouncy ball, for boredom related emergencies. My sister has a funny story about this, feel free to ask.

The boyfriend, to keep me company, and get high things out of trees.

9. What is your biggest of achievement in life so far?

I wrote a book! Not a published book, but a book nonetheless. When we were kids, I used to tell my little sister stories to keep her busy on long car journeys, so for her 18th, I wrote her a children’s book and got it bound. It’s nice to tick something off the bucket list that not many people actually get round to.

Tah-dah! Look, that's my name!

Tah-dah! Look, that’s my name!


10. What are some of your favourite blogs to read?

I’m still fairly new to this whole blogging thing, so I’m looking forward to discovering loads more, but I like the Londoner, despite every one of her posts making me bitterly jealous. Hyperbole and a Half is also amazing, and if you haven’t read all of her stuff then get the hell off of my ramblings and go read. You can come back and thank me later.

Okay, now for my nominations! As I said, I’m still pretty new to the whole blogging game, so I actually don’t know all that many yet. I’ll go ahead and nominate some of my lovely new Twitter followers. Tell me about yourselves, guys!

Prompts By Dee.

Est. Since 1984.

Katie Jane Online.

Questions:

1. Describe your blog, in only three words.

2. If you could take anyone, alive or dead, for a pint, who would you pick?

3. What has been your greatest beauty discovery?

4. Tell me the story of your first kiss.

5. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

6. What has been the most important thing that’s happened to you?

7. How likely are you to go double or nothing on a bet?

8. What was the first concert you ever went to?

9. What’s the most impulsive thing you’ve ever done?

10. What do you hope for most?