Joyful Antidotes

Ramblings on life from a simple girl

Make Up Review: ScandalEyes Waterproof Gel Eyeliner Pot

Over the last few months, I have ventured into new territory – gel eyeliner. I am a lifelong fan of the good ol’ kohl eyeliner simply because, at least for me, it is the easiest to apply. However, I have recently been trying to shake up my make up collection and look a bit, and I found myself loving more and more the finished effect of gel eyeliner on others. These reasons, along with my reborn obsession of all things Rimmel, brought me to the ScandalEyes Waterproof Gel Eyeliner Pot.

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So, what is the eyeliner supposed to do? According to Boots, where I purchased the product for a modest €8.99, it provides:

“Up to 24hrs of rich, intense colour that doesn’t flake, smudge, smear or run. Waterproof formula. Professional brush for complete control to draw the lines you want”.

Did I experience the same effects? Well, for a start, I haven’t worn the eyeliner on for a 24-hour period so I cannot comment there. However, I have worn it for approximately 12 hours and can confirm that it does not flake, smear, smudge or run. It also does have an intense colour application (see examples below), something I have experienced with very few kohl eyeliners. It is not hard to gain such an effect either and I found that one or two applications was enough for a strong, bold line. Additionally, only a small amount of product is needed, which means that such a small pot will probably last for quite some time. The brush provided is also quite good although I would recommend using a better quality one.

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As much as I love the ScandalEyes Waterproof Gel Eyeliner Pot, I haven’t been without my problems. I found the product to dry up more than expected. As time goes on, I have found myself having to dig deeper into the pot for creamier product. Also, by the time I go to apply my mascara, it will not go on properly due to eyeliner particles stuck on my eyelashes. However, I am aware that this could be due more to my clumsy application rather than the product itself.

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All in all, I am a big fan of the ScandalEyes Waterproof Gel Eyeliner Pot and it is likely that I will purchase it again, this time making sure I look after the pot properly to see if I still have issues with it drying up.

What do you think of the ScandalEyes Waterproof Gel Eyeliner Pot? Are there any other gel eyeliners you would recommend?

Book Review: Witchcraft Couture

It seems quite fitting to upload this blog post in the wake of the online controversy surrounding that magical, colour changing dress because that is exactly what ‘Witchcraft Couture’ by Katarina West is about, magic clothing. I was sent a complimentary copy of ‘Witchcraft Couture’ in exchange for a non-biased review of the book. This couldn’t have come at a better time as I have become obsessed with Harry Potter and was looking to inject a bit more magic into my life.

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The story centres around Oscar Pellegrini, a talented fashion designer whose deep-rooted self-doubt ensures that he sabotages anything bit of success he encounters in his career. After yet another bout of writer’s block and a run in with an ex-girlfriend, he escapes to Russia where, long story short, he ends up with a magical machine, the Sampo, which turns ordinary outfits into simply irresistible pieces.

‘Witchcraft Couture’ was probably one of the most unique stories I have ever read. It has plenty of magic and mystery, and a hint of a dark undertone as the reader begins to unravel just how on edge and disturbed Oscar is. These aspects allowed me to enjoy Oscar as a main character as I do appreciate a multi-layered personality. I also enjoyed the characters of Oscar’s mother and his ex-girlfriend, Sarah, although I would liked to have learned more about them and their relationship with the protagonist. I feel that further exploration into Oscar’s past interactions with these women would have helped me to really understand why he is the way he is.

The story was well-written and I was impressed with the imagery used, especially in the case of colour description. However, I was not a fan of the diary entry form of writing. It seemed confusing to me as to why the author had chosen this particular style as I felt it didn’t fit well. However, by the time I reached the end of the book, I did understand the reasoning behind it as the last chapter pieces everything together and allows the reader to perceive the story in an entirely different light. I had the same feeling with the description of the Sampo as a fridge. I wondered why someone would cast something so magical as something so mundane as a fridge. Again, this all fits into place at the end of the story.

While ‘Witchcraft Couture’ may not make it into my top ten list of books, overall, I was pleased with the story and found it an enjoyable read. Although I had some criticisms at the start, the story kept me intrigued from beginning to end. This, I think, can be credited to the author’s fantastic writing skills – I need to stress again just how beautiful the imagery is throughout the novel. If you are looking for a gripping read outside of your comfort zone, I would recommend giving ‘Witchcraft Couture’ a chance.

My Top 5 Forgotten Albums

I think this is the first music related post I have written in a while! I normally tend to veer away from music themed posts as they are really not my forte, but while listening to Spotify the other day, an idea sprung to mind and I couldn’t help but throw this post together.

Many of my teenage days were spent locked in my room listening to music. Like many other teenagers, music was a form of escape from the trials and tribulations that come hand in hand with teenage life. Considering the amount of time I spent listening to CDs (so old school) each day, one would think that my taste in music would have expanded, even if ever so slightly. Nope, I still love the same pop/chart music I did when I was 15 – just a newer version. The ‘Discover’ section of Spotify threw some gems at me the other day and put a grin on my face as I listened to some albums long forgotten. Let me take you on a trip down memory lane as I reminisce my top 5 albums I have forgotten in my state of old age.

Fergie – The Dutchess

Fergie was about as ‘edgy’ as I got back in the day, that is, without pretending I liked something for the sake of my peers. The Dutchess is probably the only album on my list where my favourite track was not released as a single. (Apologies for the poor video quality. Germany blocks all the good ones).

The Pussycat Dolls – PCD

Probably one of the most fabricated groups there ever was, I had a real soft spot for The Pussycat Dolls. There was just something about this album that made me feel independent, strong, confident and sexy. I wanted to get dressed up to the nines and shimmy all not long to their hits (thankfully they came about when I was 18 so I could actually do this).

Christina Aguilera  – Stripped

This was one of very few albums where I can honestly say that I liked every song on the track list. I can also safely list it as one of my favourite albums of all time. Christina Aguilera had attitude and I loved it. No doubt Stripped helped many a young girl find their footing in life, or at the very least, helped them to realise just how special and worthwhile they were.

Jennifer Lopez – J.Lo

For some reason, which I am still confused about, I had to purchase the new Jennifer Lopez album whenever one came about. J.Lo was played very frequently in my cosy, little bedroom, yet I recognised that it was not a very good album – only the released songs were actually very good. Nevertheless, it pulled me in then and it still grabs me now.

Westlife – World Of Our Own

Any music list of mine would not be complete without an entry from Westlife, my ultimate favourite band from 1998 until forever. I could go on forever about the band so for more information about my love for them, click here. In meantime, after much deliberation, I would like to announce World of Our Own as my favourite Westlife album. Have a little singalong to ‘Uptown Girl’, why don’t you?

Book Review: ‘Salem’s Lot

I absolutely love horror stories but at the same time, I am equally terrified of them. Every so often I feel brave and watch a horror movie, and end up waking every night for a month at 3am watching reruns of ‘Finding Nemo’ to try and eliminate any scary scenes from my head. The feeling of being scared brings a rush of adrenaline that I love, though, and that it what keeps me coming back. For this terror fix, however, I decided to try a horror book instead to see how I would fare there.

'Salem's Lot by Stephen King.

‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King.

When it came to breaking my horror novel virginity, I really could not look any further than Stephen King, even though I consider him somewhat of an enemy due to the endless sleepless nights ‘It’ gave me. Needless to say, that was not going to be my first choice of book. Admittedly, I only picked ’Salem’s Lot because I thought it was about witches and they are not all that frightening. It was a pleasant surprise when I realised it was actually about vampires as they are my favourite evil creature (if you can actually have one). Nevertheless, a sense of dread did begin to creep in when others began to tell me how utterly creepy the story of ‘Salem’s Lot is.

Reading ‘Salem’s Lot was a refreshing step back to when vampires were mean, nasty and just plain evil. The plotline is based around a sleepy little town in America where not much has happened since Hughie Marsten murdered his wife and hung himself in their home. Residents are unnerved by the house and believe an evil force still lives there, making it the perfect spot for Kurt Barlow and his assistant to set up home. Ben Mears spent some times lining in the Lot and returns to write a novel based on the town, and of course, the Marsten House. Just a short time into his stay, a lot of unsettling things begin to occur as soon as the sun goes down. As the protagonist of the story, it falls to Ben and a couple of his new friends in the Lot to figure out just what is going on and put a stop to it.

Many readers have complained that King draws the storyline out to much. Roughly the first 200 pages of the book are 80% based on characterization. This was not necessarily a bad point for me and I think the build up made things more realistic. By knowing more about the lives of each character, the reader really gets a feel of the atmosphere of the town. It also made the ‘vampire plague’, let’s call it, more believable. ‘Salem’s Lot was a small town where people helped and had trust in one another. Suspicion was not a common feeling and this led to residents breaking the age old rule of not inviting a vampire into your home. As a result, their neighbourliness ultimately led to an untimely death. Coming from not a relatively small place itself, the fact that such terrible events could take place in even the most mundane of places sent a chill down my spine.

What I liked the best about this book was that there were no really gory scenes. King basically left everything to the imagination which certainly makes things much scarier. We read about little Danny Glick hovering outside windows at night trying to lure people to the eternal life. We know that he succeeds but there is no description of his actual bloodsucking ways. Imagining the scene rather than being told about his actions is far more terrifying, in my opinion.

I also was a fan of the Marsten House. While still reading the first third of the book, I was under the impression that most of the story would take place in the house. Where there are some unpleasant scenes set there, it is not the main focal point of the book. I found this slightly disappointing as I would have liked to read more narrative about the actual interior of the house. Still, it is mentioned many times throughout the novel and by the end, its status as a symbol is evil is quite fitting and we learn just why Kurt Barlow chooses it as his residence.

‘Salem’s Lot is the first Stephen King book I have read but certainly not the last. From front to back, it was a truly creepy read which escalated the terror inside me with each page I read. If you are a lover of horror, and particularly of old school vampire tales, this is a must read for you.

What did you think of ‘Salem’s Lot? Any recommendations for my next King book?

8 Things You Should Know When Moving to Berlin

I have been living in Berlin for nearly four years now. I came here on the back of an unpaid internship with three suitcases and four nights booked in a hotel and like many expats, not one word of German. To say aspects of integrating here have been a struggle is an understatement. It can be tough and very stressful. Now it is my time to give back to the people and offer my top tips for anyone planning on moving to Berlin and who are lucky enough to read this.

1. Book your Bürgeramt appointment online. When you arrive in Berlin, it is required that you register at your local Bürgeramt. The Bürgeramt is a sore point among foreigners as locals alike, as you can find yourself sitting in a waiting room for hours at a time waiting to register. Skip the queue by booking an appointment online (website in German).

2. Do your research before going to any Amt. There is no way of getting around going to the Bürgeramt in Berlin, and the Finanzamt if you plan on working in the city. There are forms to fill in and it is rare to find an employee who can speak good English, or wants to for that matter. Save yourself a lot of hassle by researching information online before your appointment. Most forms can be found online and websites like Toytown Germany often have step-by-step guidelines how to fill them in, as well as information on what you need to bring, on their forums. It also helps to smile and be polite and speak as much German as you possibly can. If they know you are trying, they will be more willing to help and may also share their sprinkling of English with you.

3. Be sure to have back up living arrangements. Unless you are lucky enough to have somewhere lined up to live in Berlin, be prepared for days, if not weeks, of apartment viewings. Apartments are rare these days in Berlin and viewings can often begin by waiting in a queue of thirty people to even get into the hallway. We were lucky enough to find somewhere in a couple of days of arrival but believe me, that is a rare occurrence. Book into a hostel or a short-term apartment while you look and have some money put aside in case you need to prolong your stay.

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The Mall of Berlin. Read a full post about the shopping centre here.

4. Research what you are looking for in a bank. There are many banks in Germany whom offer quite different perks and services. Before you sign up to one bank which you will then be unhappy with, shop around. For example, Sparkasse fees are only €3 per month, while Deutsche Bank fees are €5 per month. However, Deutsche Bank offer services in English.

5. Open an account, get a tax number etc. as soon as possible. This is particularly important if you are coming to Berlin to work. While the aforementioned activities are relatively simple, they can also take longer than expected. Plus, moving to a new country can be expensive. You do not want your first paycheck delayed because you do not have all the necessary information ready.

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The Reichstag. Photo via FlickrCC.

6. Book an internet provider as soon as possible. We live in a day and age where it is almost impossible to function without internet access. If you agree with that statement then make sure that you call up your chosen internet provider to set up a connection as soon as possible. If your apartment is already wired for an internet cable you should not have much of a problem and most likely will receive a box in under a week. If your apartment needs to be wired for internet, unfortunately you could book looking at a wait of up to a month.

7. Enroll in a German class. While it is possible to live in Berlin without knowing any German, if you plan on staying in Berlin long term, your life will be much easier if you at least have the basics. Something I wish somebody had told me was that free German classes are available for immigrants at the local Volkshochschulen. The course covers levels A1-B1 and a free final examination is provided at the end.

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Viktoriapark. See a full post about the park here.

8. Don’t be afraid to ask. At the end of the day, you can do as much research as you want online, but it may not have the same value as asking somebody a simple questions. Berlin is filled with expats (many whom you will probably find at work) who have been through the same process and are happy to help. The Germans are also a pretty friendly bunch will be sure to assist you with any pesky German documents.

What I Am Giving Up For Lent

Lent is upon us again and I have spent the past few days deciding what I could give up this year. Religious or not, many people seem to partake in Lent. I think most people see it as a kick start to make a positive change in their lives, quite like New Years Eve. We can use these 40 days to kick a habit niggling away at us for a while now, hopefully in a way that the chosen habit is rid of for good.

Last year, I attempted to give up bread and failed miserably. I also recently purchased a panini press so I know I will have the same luck this year. Probably the only time I have been successful was when I decided to give up meat which you can read about here. Two years later and I am still a pescatarian.

This year, I am going to attempt to give up fizzy drinks. I originally announced on Twitter that I would just give up Coca Cola, but after reading this post, I think I will go the whole hog and cut out fizzy drinks in general. Admittedly, I don’t consume fizzy drinks that much, just at the weekends. Still, they are not good for you at any time, and the vain person inside of me wants to see if cutting them out altogether will have a positive effect on my skin.

It will be hard, but I determined. The biggest obstacles will be when I am tired because I don’t drink any hot drinks like coffee to give me a perk, and when  I go to London in March because I planned on drowning myself with Lucozade. Tune in 40 days from now to see how I got on.

Film Review: Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades

                                                        Picture via FlickerCC.

Last Saturday, I went to see ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. Whether or not that is something to be ashamed of, you can be the judge. I had previously read all three books and I was simply curious as to whether the story could be brought successfully to the big screen. After nearly two hours of my life sat inside the relatively comfy CineStar in Potsdamer Platz’s Sony Centre, I came to the conclusion that it should have been left as a book.

There was something about the book that really sucked you in as a reader, despite the fact that it wasn’t very well written. I guess it comes down to the age old reasoning that ones imagination really is better than any film studio or production company. Perhaps the same for other woman, film Christian Grey was never going to be as good as the book Christian Grey who jumped from the pages of the novel into my mind. Saying that, I do think Jamie Dornan was a good casting. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anybody else who really could have played that part better. I also think that Dakota Johnson was as good as could be as Anastacia Steele. She had the right amount of innocence and walk-over personality combined with rebellion to play the character convincingly. Lack or real screen time makes it hard to comment on any other character.

The erotic tones of the book really did not transform well on film. Yes, there were some kinky scenes, but nothing worse than what other films without the ‘sex hype’ surrounding them have shown . In fact, the incessant lip biting actually made the erotic feel of ‘Fifty Shades of Gray’ very teenage like. Simple things like this made the story really cheesy for me. One thing that did come across quite strongly, however, was the dominance of Christian Grey. I feel that, while reading the books, thousands, perhaps millions, of women worldwide fell in love with Mr. Grey. The Christian in the film, at least in my opinion, was much less attractive personality wise: the warning signs of just how messed up he is were clear to see.

Overall, I felt that the film was more of a comedy than anything else. Whether or not the film makers knew that it would be hard to perfectly portray the erotica and sensuousness of the book on film accurately, I do not know, but it did seem that at times they were simply making fun of what everyone deems a weak storyline. Taking into account the number of laughs circulating the theatre, I don’t think I was the only one with these feelings.

I went into ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ with no expectations which was probably the best thing to do. I was aware of the book beforehand. I read it, knew it wasn’t the best story, but still enjoyed it. It was the same with the film. No doubt it will never win an Oscar or the likes, but it is a good film to go see with a group of girls who like to get into fits of giggle. Now, whether or not I will make the effort go to see the second and third films in the cinema is something I have at least another year to decide.

Museum: The Story of Berlin

One of my mini resolutions to myself this year was that I would visit more museums, etc. After nearly four years of living here, like what would happen with any city, Berlin is getting a bit stale for me. I don’t think I will be leaving it any time soon, so I made a vow to myself to rediscover and fall in love with Berlin all over again.

Last week, I visited ‘The Story of Berlin’ for the first time, something I had been meaning to do since 2011. ‘The Story of Berlin’ is basically a large museum with over 20 theme-rooms holding multimedia exhibitions which show over 800 years of the city’s history. I have mostly visited war themed museum since I arrived in Berlin so it was a refreshing change to learn some more about the city.

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However, it is the nuclear bomb shelter which is the main attraction for ‘The Story of Berlin’. Some sources online say that it is still an active bunker, however, this is not the case anymore as our tour guide informed us. Still, it is a pretty interesting thing to see and the guide provides good detail about how the bunker would work, how many people it would hold, etc. It was a really creepy space and was most likely (and hopefully) a once in a lifetime experience for me.

Entry into ‘The Story of Berlin’ is €12. A bit pricey but, in my opinion, worth it to see the bunker. One tip would be to check the tour times before heading over if you do want to go into the bunker. You can browse through the museum at your own pace.

Unfortunately, my pictures of the bunker didn’t turn out well as it was so dark down there. I have some pictures of the museum though if these will pique your interest. Are there any museums in Berlin you recommend?

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IMG_1620This is not a sponsored post.

How I Clean My Make Up Brushes

You can see from the pictures in this post that I have a pretty lame make up brush collection in comparison to others which you can find online. As a result, I am not the best person to provide tips on what make up brushes are the best, or how best to use them. One tip I can provide, however, is a good deep clean method for restoring make up brushes.

Below are a picture of my brushes which you can see are not really in the best state. But, by the end of this post I will have them looking squeaky clean.

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I clean my brushes using a combination of washing up liquid and olive oil which I place on a clean surface and mix together. The washing up liquid is good for lifting the product from the bristles, while the olive oil keep the brush soft. Take one of the brushes and swirl it around in the mixture.

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Rinse the brush under a cold tap. I recommend only using cold water as anything warmer may dissolve the glue holding the bristles together. Give the brush a light dab with some kitchen roll and place it somewhere to dry where the head has some air and won’t be squashed together. Repeat until all brushes are clean (you may want to mix together some more olive oil and washing up liquid depending on the size of your collection and how big your brushes are.

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I purchased this make up holder in Tiger yesterday for just €3. I think it is mostly for holding lipstick and but I have stored my make up brushes in it instead. What do you think?

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Why I Admire….Taylor Swift

It has been ages since I wrote a ‘Why I Admire’ post, simply because there has been nobody who has really caught and kept my attention these past months. Then, a copy of ‘1989’ fell into my hands and I realised I have been harbouring a massive girl crush on Taylor Swift for some months now.

Taylor Swift is very much a Marmite kind of artist – you either hate or her love her. Admittedly, I was in the past on the borderline and could never truly establish how I felt about her. In the half-year, however, I really feel Ms. Swift has come into her own and here is why I have been loving her lately.

Taylor Swift 1989

- Her song lyrics, while some feel they can be sickly sweet, appeal to me. Fortunately, I haven’t had to endure many hardships in my life so simple songs about boys and love appeal to me. They make me feel that how I handled romance in my teenager years was not strange and loser-like as I though. I also like that she actually writes her own songs. If she can write chart-topping hits from issues that seem somewhat mundane, maybe there is hope for my semi-biographical stories after all.

- Another point about her song lyrics: while they are continuously criticized in the media due to the ongoing theme of ex-boyfriends. heartbreak, etc., she continues to write such songs. She knows what kind of artist she is and wants to be and she sticks to her guns regarding the music she releases.

- Besides the lyrics, her music overall is damn good. It is upbeat, beautiful sounding pop music and I love it.

- She doesn’t take herself too seriously. Taylor gets a lot of stick in the press about her personal life. At first, she was a whiny ol’ mare and complained about things often. But with ‘1989’, I really feel like she turned herself around. She has used negative experiences to write something totally amazing. She took the high route and got most people to do a 360 regarding their feelings about her. High five, Taylor.

- She is a fan of her fans. In my opinion, that is something becoming rare in the celebrity sphere these days.

What do you think of Taylor Swift? Love her? Hate her? Is there someone else you admire more?

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