Saturday, 28 February 2015

February Favourites

Technicolour Dreamer's February Favourites

So that was February, apparently. With its measly 28 days, the month just flies by, doesn't it? So here I am, presenting my favourites for this month. Let's get to it then, before March appears!

This month I took the plunge and bought the fairly expensive La-Roche Posay Effaclar Anti Blemish System. I’ve been humming and hawing about purchasing this for months. I'll admit, the €40 price tag put me off. Skincare seems like such a boring thing to spend that amount of money on! On reflection, though, I realised I'd give anything to have clear skin, so why not cough up the cash? Now that I've tried it out, I know I made the right decision. Not that I think everyone should fork out that much for skincare, but if you have problem skin it could be worth the investment.

Effaclar Duo+ For AcneEffaclar Anti-Blemish Kit

From the offset, I noticed my skin improve thanks to this kit, which is made up of a cleanser, toner and spot cream. I've never found a product that has worked this well on my skin (except for Acnecide, but that's a behind-the-counter item), so I'm confident that my skin will just keep on getting clearer and clearer. Since I am planning a skincare routine post I'll wait until then before I share the ins and outs of the kit.

Oreo Dairy Milk Chocolate

While I've been very considerate of my skin with my Effaclar purchase, my chocolate purchases have been unwinding some of my good work. Dairy is a trigger for my acne, but how can I help myself when the local corner shop is flogging Dairy Milk for cheap? Clearly, I can't. So I've been treating myself to Oreo chocolate and festive chocolate, because who cares that it's almost March? Christmas tree-shaped chocolate is delicious any time of the year.

I'm still getting through the books I received for Christmas, so this month saw me delve into Lena Dunham's 'Not That Kind of Girl'. Between watching 'Girls' and reading this book, I feel like I know Lena better than I know myself! I love the honest, personal essay style of the book, and that she's willing to share her innermost thoughts.

February, you've been fun. Roll on March and the chance to discover even more favourites. What have you been loving this month? Let me know!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

One Happy Change: Meditation Edition

Every month this year I'll be improving my lifestyle in one simple way, whether it's breaking a bad habit or creating a positive change. Through doing this I'm hoping to revamp my life, one month at a time. Last month's edition saw me develop a love for green tea. This month, I've taken up meditation in a bid to relieve stress and gain clarity of thought. Keep on scrolling to see how I got on...

This month's happy change was somewhat of a challenge: Meditate on a regular basis. It's funny how the simple act of doing nothing can be so challenging. Sitting in silence should be simple, but it's at odds with our hyperconnected society. We live in a world where each passing moment is punctuated with the familiar 'ping' of yet another notification. Another update on our follower stats, messages, event invites, and the like. And the Facebook likes, for that matter. Even when your connected devices are sitting dormant: your own thoughts fill the silence. Another 'high priority' item pops into your mind to be slotted into your mental to-do list. Or a worry appears and demands to be mulled over for an unhealthy period of time. Clearly, silencing your mind is not as simple as flicking a switch. And it's certainly not as simple as turning off your mobile phone anymore. You need to actively train your brain to take some time off from the whirlwind of thought. Enter: meditation.

Benefits of meditation: Clears the head and improves focus, decreases stress.

I've been interested in meditation for a while, but it wasn't until this month that I began actively making time to give it a go. And, although I'm ridiculously busy, making time for meditation doesn't seem to be a problem. It helps that I've started small: meditating for no more than 10 minutes at a time. Even just meditating for this short time has had noticeable effects on my mindframe. Immediately after a meditation session, I am utterly refreshed and calm. And then, for the rest of the day, I feel that I can deal with any obstacle that comes my way.

In case you're curious: I prefer to meditate in silence, by simply closing my eyes and focusing on my breathing. I tried listening to the guided meditations that you can find on Youtube, but so far I haven't found one that has resonated with me. Having said that, sometimes I'll listen to an instrumental meditation video, if my mind is really busy and I don't think I can quieten it on my own.

Suggestions for Beginner's Meditation:

  • Concentrate on your breathing - if you are struggling with banishing your thoughts, you can literally think 'breathe in' as you inhale and 'breathe out' as you exhale, to help focus your mind on the present.
  • Choose your meditation position carefully - I sit cross-legged because it's comfy, yet it feels suitably different from the way I would usually sit. Sitting in this way means that my mind isn't triggered to produce thoughts about work or university, as it would if I were to sit the way I do at my desk.
  • Start small - as I've said, the act of switching off takes practice. So start small, meditating for 5 or 10 minutes, and build it up as you become more accustomed to it.
  • Be easy on yourself - don't expect to be able to close your eyes and be transported to nirvana in a few deep breaths. At the beginning, you'll find that your mind wanders. Don't get frustrated with yourself. Simply acknowledge your thoughts, and let them go by focusing on your breathing.
  • Switch your phone to 'do not disturb' - obvious, but oh-so important. Being interrupted by your phone will ruin your zen vibes. The only reason I say to switch it to 'do not disturb' instead of turning it off completely is because I use my phone as an alarm - the 'chimes' ringtone is quite a nice one to gently waken you from a meditative state!

Hope you've enjoyed reading about my happy change for February! Have you ever tried meditation? Did it seem like a waste of time or did you feel a benefit from it?

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Simple Prawn & Mango Salad

I'm not going to pretend that this is some sort of fancy recipe... If you read the title then you'll be able to guess how it's made! Despite it's simplicity, I thought I'd share it here regardless, since I'm enjoying it so much at the moment. Plus, it's a salad combination that you might not have tried before, but you should!

For this salad, the most important thing you need to know is the ingredients:

  • Mango
  • Avocado
  • Prawns
  • Crispy leaf salad
  • Sweet chilli and mango sauce
  • Milled seeds (optional)

Pro tip: To speed up the avocado ripening process, pop it into a paper bag. It'll still take a few days to ripen but it's faster this way. Trust me. I Googled it.

To make the creation you simply scatter the prawns, mango chunks and avocado slices on a bed of crispy salad leaves. Next, stir in the a dollop of sweet chilli and mango sauce. If you're looking to add a bit of texture to your meal you can sprinkle some milled seeds on top... And, voilà!

Clearly, this is a super simple meal idea. So simple, in fact, that even I can do it. And this is coming from a person who took four attempts to make a single pancake yesterday... Using an instant pancake mix.

Let me know if you know of any salad combinations that you love, preferably ones which require minimal culinary skills (because I'm useless in the kitchen)!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Insta-Life

As of last week, I'm back to the business of juggling blogging with the intense masters course I'm in. I'm busy, busy, busy - but that's the way I like it so I can't complain. Since I've been focusing on coursework, I thought I'd rely on Instagram to up-date this little spot on the internet today! I'm hoping to have a healthy Instagram account, even when I'm wrapped up with uni, so feel free to follow @clairepetersen32 for consistent updates.

Polaroids from the vintage photoshoot I styled // Om Diva, who let me borrow clothes for the shoot

My last post was about the instant photos I took at the vintage photoshoot, but it's only now that I am realising that I forgot to give a shout out to Om Diva, who were kind enough to let me borrow clothes for it! I absolutely adore Om Diva, the vintage store on Drury Street in Dublin. The staff are friendly and the clothes they stock are beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that I ended up buying a top that I used for the shoot. This is why I couldn't pursue a career in styling - I'd be too tempted to buy all the outfits I borrow!

Cocktails in Love and Death Inc. // Nabbed a free prosecco at Om Diva

I've chatted in detail about my trip to Belfast, and the cocktails that were had at Love and Death Inc, so have a read of that if you missed it. Since I'm back to the grind of uni there won't be much time for me to go out for drinks, so these pictures are making me feel thirsty for a night out!

My inspiration scrapbook // A party outfit

I've started creating a scrapbook with all the brands I might like to work for in the future, one of which is Topshop, hence the picture above. I'm hoping it will make things easier when I'm on the job hunt. It's also a great way to remind myself why I'm putting so much time and effort into my masters - in that way it keeps me motivated! The pages are coming along quite nicely, so in the future I might dedicate a full post to this little hobby!

An early morning in Dublin City Centre // Pretty clouds and trees in Dublin

I mentioned on Twitter that I've been loving using VSCO Cam to edit my landscape photos. I've dedicated a whole post to how I edit iPhone photos, so have a little gander if you're so inclined.

So, that's what I've been filling my time with lately, through the lens of my iPhone. And what about you? Go ahead and leave a comment and I'll peek at your blog to see what you've been up to! I'm nosey like that!

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Vintage Clothes & Polaroid Prints

I've gushed about my love for the Fujifilm Instax in my monthly faves post, so now to share what it can do! Over the weekend, I took it for a spin at a photoshoot that I was stylist for. By the way, it was the first time I've ever styled a photoshoot (my style posts don't count!), so feel free to have a peek at the final photographs (taken by Conor-Palin Stewart) and let me know what you think. I welcome constructive criticism because I'd love to improve for future photoshoots! Personally, next time I want to make sure that the different outfits work well together as a series, because, although I liked each individual look, I don't think they worked well as a collection.

Anyway, this was another success story when it came to taking the polaroids. The thing about the Fijifilm Instax is that, as much as I adore the old-school, washed out, look of the prints, it isn't all about the end-result. Instead, the instant fun of the print popping out of the camera and developing right there on set, is as important as the final image. It got us all excited for the digital photos that Conor was taking and would be uploading at a later date. Admittedly, the scans I've shared here don't quite do the actual polaroids justice. Hopefully I'll figure out how to scan them in at a higher quality at some point. Still, I love these photos... At this stage, I've got through all the film I've had since Christmas, so I'll definitely be treating myself to a new packet soon!

Credits
Model: Loren Cáit Ní Leochain
Make-up artist: Make-Up by Milena

Polaroid of Smithfield