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Saturday, 26 July 2014

Femme Boulevard Vamps It Up

Long time no see, dear ones! In the spirit of K.I.S.S. I haven't been wearing much interesting (or indeed unsmeared) makeup so far this sweltering Asian summer, but the ladies of Femme Boulevard have administered a kick up the arse in the form of this month's vamp challenge, so, swapping one four-letter word for another....


Both my newly grown hair and my old and enduring fondness for the S-of-stupidity mean that Louise Brooks is my achingly obvious inspiration for this one. If you haven't read her witty and waspish and wry essay collection, Lulu in Hollywood, I highly recommend it (and skipping Tynan's decidedly.... let'sjustcallit 'gushy' intro. oh em gee, ken, yr id is showing, put it away now kthx'). Available as a free ebook at the Open Library (with a short waiting list), so no excuses <3

The products, consisting of black, white and, er... sticks:
black: Shiseido BK912 Caviar (my second! Staple starlit off-black cream); KATE brow pencil BK-1 (a gift from a pal, this is darker than my hair so black as my soul...); Suqqu brow pen 01 Moss Green ; Guerlain Cils D'Enfer Maxi Lash WP (to which I did succumb after last month's glorious sample)
white: Shiseido WT907 Paperwhite (an even finer-milled satin off-white than my beloved, recently-panned-thus-too-fragile-to-pack Shiseido High Beam White highlighter) and 3CE Lip Pigment in Modern White
sticks: Guerlain Greta mixed with MAC Pro Paintstick in Rich Purple for a deepened red lip; Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick Alabaster (which, as my original review guessed, is working much better for my summer-tanned skin in the heat&humidity of E and SE Asia)



Key aspects of this look are pretty well-illustrated by that Lulu in Hollywood cover :P Even with such a handy colouring-in guide the hardest thing for me was to stop my fingers from employing their usual prettifying tricks; 1920s makeup appeals to me precisely because it is so scrappy and slapdash and defiant, but it takes actually applying it to bring home how many unspoken rules of contemporary makeup flattery it breaks.

Brows, eyes and lips downturned, thinned and shortened. I skipped curling my lashes for only about the fifth time since I turned 13, to help 'drop' the eye and place even more emphasis on the heavily mascara-ed lower lashes and thickened outer lower lashline. Triangular placement of Shiseido Caviar.
Spoolied some 3CE Modern White through the brows I wanted to 'erase' (mostly at the inner corner and at my fairly-high natural arch), then sponged on a coat of BB foundation, before sketching in the straight, short, slightly down-tilted Brooks brows with the black KATE pencil, cross hatching with the Suqqu pen between my natural hair and the drawn-on ones.

Closeup of the eye and brow -- look how messy period-appropriate it is >:C

Lips were outlined quite heavily with BB foundation, blended inwards, to thin them down. Lengthened top lip slightly over lower corners for a downward tilt. I played with a bit of reverse contouring with the 3CE modern white pigment to achieve that '20s rounded cheek&jaw, and blended everything with a good dusting of Shiseido Paperwhite. Because despite MINUTES, MINUTES I TELL YOU of straightening, my hair's never going to retain Brooksian deco sleekness in this humidity, tending more towards the Colleen Moore anyway....



Have a lovely weekend, everyone! Be sure to check out my fiendish fellow femmes Lily and Lilit and their vamp looks.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Two Looks with THREE 04 Art of Parties 4D Eyeshadow Palette

Well, this is embarrassingly late. According to my my picasa albums, I bought Art of Parties two whole years ago, in June 2012 -- and that's when I took these pristine snaps:
THREE 4D Eyeshadow Palette 04 Art of Parties
in (angled) sunlight
The case is THREE's typical matte grey rubber, with the palette identified by the colour of the letters on the lid -- this lavender signifies Art of Parties.
THREE 4D Eyeshadow Palette 04 Art of Parties

A cloudy/overcast pictures -- note how the tones shift 
THREE 4D Eyeshadow Palette 04 Art of Parties

Direct flash pic captures some of the extra tones of sparkle in all four shades (can you spot the subtle and sparse pink flecks hiding in both bottom shades?)...
THREE 4D Eyeshadow Palette 04 Art of Parties

....although sunlight produced the most true-to-texture picture:
THREE 4D Eyeshadow Palette 04 Art of Parties
...which is still toddler-aged, zomg, but hopefully hints at the distinction between the two glitters (top left amethyst denser and finer, bottom right peach featuring larger particles more discretely packed), and between those and the dense sparkle-packed cream (top right) and finally the smooth bottom left satin.

Swatched from light to dark:
THREE 4D Eyeshadow Palette 04 Art of Parties swatches
THREE 4D Eyeshadow Palette 04 Art of Parties swatches
Pale, soft, peachy-gold glitter with pink, icy blue and warmer gold sparkle
Medium amethyst glitter with turquoise, sky blue and pink flecks
Warm chestnut brown with sparse shimmer in several tones of pink
Gunmetal base heavily packed with predominantly violet and emerald microshimmer

Swatches and shade description from this post, in which you can see all five of my THREE quads swatched.

I plan to pull a full-on Star Guitar lookathon with this palette, too, but less overwhelmingly all-at-spammy-once, so to ease you in, here are two looks, both spitting the quad down the middle into two pairs of duos. (On my skintone, all four shades can also stand alone as singles, but even I am not so cruel as to bore you with four basic washesOTD :P)

1. Peach + Chestnut (...that sounds like a potentially tasty mix, actually) makes a very understated eye -- peach glitter washed all over lid, chestnut to line (used neat, not foiled or mixed or nuttin') and both layered on the lower lashline.

I'm testing out a sample of the new Guerlain Cils D'Enfer Maxi Lash Waterproof mascara, btw, which holy fat lashes batman :O Expect me to 1. purchase a full size and 2. review it hopefully before 2016. Anyhoo, gratuitous mascara shot nonetheless shows the intensified banked-coals-y pink sheen you get by combining these two otherwise mostly yellow-based shades, both smuggling  pink shimmer:

More warm tones to complete the look: Rouge Bunny Rouge Sea of Tranquility liquid highlighter for opalescent gleaminess in the centre of my face, and powder bronzer At Goldcombe Bay for subtle peachy gilding on the outer portions. Kjaer Weis Lovely cream blush, and YSL Rouge Pur Couture 57 Pink Rhapsody lipstick.



2. Gunmetal and amethyst: neither so tasty nor conventionally summery, but complex cream & multifaceted glitter is my one true makeup love and the reason I fell so hard for this brand in the first place :D Gunmetal over lid and lower lashline, extended out, and amethyst swept up both into socket and down into lashline from inner corner, and used to accent/underline the extention. Kiko white kohl on inner waterline to remove distracting red rims (due to allergies not glitter fallout).

Another not-so-summery thing was the weather/lighting this morning, so I couldn't capture the complexity of the gunmetal to my satisfaction. This was the best shot I managed to get of the complex pink-and-blue sparkles, and how the base gets warmer as you blend it out. (Never quite so matte/warm as it looks on the outer half of my socket here though. Stupid lighting-catching chicanery.)


A cooler and more polished base for this look, with Shu Uemura UV Underbase Mousse Pink/Purple set with Paul& Joe bird balls (Face Powder S). Face Stockholm cream blush Tokyo on both cheeks and (over balm) lips.

Tokyo is the most recent addition to my Face Stockholm cream blush stable, and it comes with some sad news. Because while I managed to score it for half price (£11), that's only because Fenwick Bond St are dropping the brand, thus putting everything on sale. D: Snag while you can.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Friday Night Dinner

Apologies for the sporadic posting of late; I've been gearing up for another trip to Asia and trying to spend as much time as possible with my real-life nearest&dearest as I can. But missing you all! My soul, such torments to endure. :P

Comfort food is called for, so today I thought I'd dust off the camera and share one of my favourite summer suppers, the Japanese cold noodle dish zaru soba. Pick up some e-chopsticks and dig in :)

Admittedly not the quickest of things to whip up, but I find all the processes quite enjoyable, and careful timing, which is the most stress-inducing part of cooking for me, isn't a factor. Also, YUMMEH, which makes it all worth it.


At least an hour before, make the dipping sauce (I like to do this at least the night before, and make a big batch to store in the fridge -- it'll keep for a fortnight). This will make about 500ml of sauce or about 8 servings:
1. Make up a basic dashi stock however you like it (my usual ratio is a pint of water : a palm-sized piece of kombu : a small handful of bonito flakes, and a couple of dried anchovies for an extra umami hit), set aside.
2. Heat 100ml mirin with a tablespoon of sugar in a separate small pan until the sugar dissolves. Add 100ml soy sauce and turn the heat low, stirring gently for a minute or so to warm through. Then pour this mixture into the dashi from step 1 and simmer together gently for about 3 minutes. Cool. 


From here on the quantities make enough for four (or for two-greedy-people-with-leftovers -- I like rolling up leftover kakiage with some spicy mayo into maki for lunch):

Julienne Chop a large potato into chubby matchsticky bits and soak in cold water:

Noodles: Bring another pot of water to the boil, add a pinch of salt and cook your soba (100g per person) according to the packet instructions (usually 3-4 mins. Don't guess and overcook! You want them noodles so bouncy they chew back, not soggy strands). Look for the 100% buckwheat, salt-free stuff:

Drain and rinse well in cold running water until it resembles SLIMY WURMS:
Shake very dry, then plop onto fancy zaru (bamboo draining basket) if you have one. Or just use my sushi-mat-on-a-plate method, like an unspeakable savage *shifty eyes* Sprinkle some kizami nori over the top if you have any handy, and set aside.


Garnish: Finely slice a spring onion or two, and place into bowl along with some wasabi and toasted sesame seeds. I like to pour our everyone's dipping sauce at this point too.
yes, my bowl haz kitty on't. Iz toddler. And that is a mug doing double duty as a dipping bowl. Because hostess with the mostest.

All the cold ingredients ready, it's time for the kakiage:
Drain the potatoes you've been soaking and dry well in a clean tea-towel. Add a carrot and courgette (or two of each if they're small), chopped similarly:

For the batter: Measure 1 cup of flour (the higher the gluten content the better -- I used strong white flour but Italian 00 is even better; alas, I used up the last of that for a batch of choc chip cookies) into a biggish bowl, break an egg into the middle, and add a few good twists of salt and pepper. I've found the most reliable way of ensuring a crisp batter is to use very cold, fizzy water -- pour it in gradually, mixing well all the while, until you get a very thick, greek-yoghurt-ish texture

Toss in the veg, adding a little more flour and water if really needed (probably not --if there's no 'spare' batter at the bottom or the bowl that's ideal), and then pick up random clumps with chopsticks to fry at a moderate temperature, turning halfway through, until browned -- about 2 minutes per batch. [Can you tell I'm primarily a baker, rather than a cook? Persnickity about batter, vague when it comes to doing stuff with it. I use exactly the same exact method wot my grandma taught me, so pleeeease don't ask me about specific degrees of oil and thicknesses of pan and whatnot because I won't know XD]


Let everyone garnish their dipping sauce to taste...

And eat while the kakiage's still hot and crunchy, in perfect contrast to the chewy cold noodles and refreshing savoury sauce:
PS this pic shows half the amount of food this recipe produces; I couldn't fit everything into one frame :P

And for afters, my latest entropic failbake, a strawberry and almond crumble cake which, owing to my sins against ye ineffable gods of glutinous batter subsidence, ended up as crumbling cake. I should open a bakery called #presentparticiplepastries, yes?
Adapted from here, though I substituted orange flower water for vanilla extract, and almonds for walnuts. Still very edible, though very sweet -- next time I'd cut the sugar on the topping middling by at least 2/3rds.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, 13 June 2014

Fake-Up: Suqqu EX-20 Natsubotan

Welcome to another edition of Makeup Fakeup!

Featuring my distant desired object du saison, Suqqu's limited-edition summer quad, EX-20 Natsubotan. As, uninspired by the promo images, I foolishly waited until day three after release to saunter over to the counter and swatch... and fall... and hear it was long goooooone, and then to throw a three-hour keening'n'hair-pulling tantrum over the multi-A4-paged waiting list which had already accumulated by then. Y'know, the usual.

But being all indomitable and womanful and the owner of *coughmumble* eyeshadows already, as well as a pre-existing blog tag for this very eventuality....


I worked from a combination of how the actual palette looked on my skin, and reference swatches at Color Me Loud (truer-to-tone for me) and Swatcharama! (truer-to-texture). On my pale, neutral skintone the top left shade in the palette read as predominantly pale, cool gold sparkle, for which I used the bottom right pan from THREE 4D Eyeshadow Palette 08 Spirit Light (swatch). The pale pink base comes from Suqqu EX-12 Hisuidama (review). For the main-event pink and plum, Chanel Illusion D'Ombre in Rose Des Vents, and a roughly equal mix of Ebloui (feature) and Diapason (review).
Blush is Kjaer Weis Lovely (feature), lip Suqqu Creamy Glow 02 Kyoganoko (swatch), finally back in stock in the UK.

Basic unimaginative placement: the hybrid plum to line, split and opened at the tail of the eye; prime-event pink blended over mobile lid and outer half of lower lashline; pale satin pink on inner corner, blended up through inner half of socket; gold sparkle dabbed on inner half of lower lashline. L'Oreal False Lash Telescopic WP mascara. [I forgot brows!]

Base: Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Moisture Foundation 001, set with Paul&Joe bird balls; Bobbi Brown Porcelain Bisque concealer pot under eyes.

Eyes open, at a slightly more human distance :P


*recites 'I don't need no summer peony' mantra*

Hope you've all had a lovely week! Any cravings slaked or slayed recently?

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Me-Made May 2014: The Final Fortnight

So late, so excessively alliterative, so, in fact, jeJUNE...

And now that my audience of three has dwindled down to one after that revolting opening, limber up your scrolling finger, because it's a big 'un, rounding up the last fortnight's worth of outfits from Me-Made May 2014.

Starting with one of my most versatile makes, the Vogue 1324 print pencil first shown in week 3 (May 13th), which I wore thrice more:

1. with black silk shirt and bra-cami, both Uniqlo. necklace: Anthropologie. shoes: Russell&Bromley Stuart Weitzmann raffia wedges.

2. with a self-knit pink cropped cotton sweater (pattern: Kim Hargreaves' Anaïs, yarn: Rowan Purelife Organic Cotton DK in Madder); though I dislike working with cotton, I flippin' love this sweater --longtime readers may have seen it in action back in this outfit-set from 2012.

3. moar pink&croppedness: the shirt from Butterick x Gertie B5895, sewn up during MMM. I plan to make the jeans in this set, too, so wish me luck!


Another versatile pencil skirt, the modified Burdy Jenny C from week 1, day 1 of MMM; I'm glad I made the suspenders removable-with-buttons (Lynda Maynard's Dressmaker's Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques held my hand throughout), as I more often wear the skirt without them:

4. shop-bought shirt: &otherstories x Vika Gaziskaya collection. I'm not one for designer/fast fashion retailer collabs, as a rule, but the quality fabrics, witty prints, and architectural volume in this range added up to PURE AWESOME. tights: Jonathan Aston sheer coloured tights Fuchsia. shoes: Barclay Foot Art (Japanese) grey oxfords

5. blouse: another MMM-make (MMMM?), Sewaholic Alma in progress during week 1 and shown finished in week 2 (May 10th). Mustard cashmere cardi: COS. belt: charity shop. tights: Falke Pure Matt 100D Anthracite. shoes: Duo


6. Another outfit with the Alma blouse, but, in a shocking twist, with a blue cashmere cardigan (Brora) and white skirt (Jill Stuart) this time. Same tights&shoes. OH THE ORIGINALITY.


7. Dressing down the Jill Stuart skirt with a slouchy Grainline Studios Hemlock tee (free pdf patterns ftw!) in some German organic cotton jersey. The hem came out hella ripply, because this was my first time sewing with super-light-almost-tissue-weight jersey, and the stripes made that excruciatingly obvious, so I can only wear it knotted :P But I love the relaxed baby kimono sleeves (which I think the Japanese call 'French sleeves', amusingly enough) and the knock-out-a-top-in-an-hour factor is unarguably brilliant. shoes: Carvela suede wedges


8. I love that white Jill Stuart skirt so much -- it also featured in that rare outfit post from two years ago -- and inspired by the horizontal pleats it shares with another shop-bought favourite, the burgundy Whistles skirt both in that old post and MMM week 2 (May 8th), I added some to my no-pattern, improvised red&white gathered skirt, which you probably can't see because of the scribbly print XD I will write up a separate post detailing its making to prove that the pleats ARE there, honest...
Paired with the red lace sweater also finished in May (patternrecycled yarn, details). shoes: Carvela, as before.



9. The gathered skirt with another knotted tee, this time a Sewaholic Renfrew, with various fit mods and without the banded hem, in a nice cross-weave-ish chambray-look cotton jersey I bought in Hong Kong. necklace: J. Crew.


10. Happy with the fit of that last Sewaholic Renfrew tee, I rejigged my modified bodice (this time with a v-neck and less ease) into a knit dress by whacking on a basic half-circle skirt at the natural waist and lengthening and slimming down the sleeves. Fabric is a drapey wool-blend knit, from a girlfriend's stash -- perfect for those suddenly-chilly London 'spring' days. tights: Falke Pure Matt 100D Marine shoes: Barclay, as before.



And done!

If you've been counting you can tell I fell off my self-hitched wear-at-least-one-self-made-garment wagon a few times, owing to the whole self-made wardrobe not fully jiving with lifestyle requirements thing; not a huge surprise/deal, considering how new this hobby is, but it will function as a kick up the arse for me to get on with mastering trickier fabrics like silk, and upping my finishing game for extra polish. On the other hand, I also need to make more casual wear -- comfy tees for both lazing-at-home and running-about days, non-crease-y knit dresses I can fly in, roomy shifts, that kind of thing.

Also, more cold-weather layers and wool-blends. Because I need them for at least ten months out of twelve. ^This post alone gives a pretty good indication of my variable climate :P In particular, learning to sew fine-gauge knits like the shop-bought cardigans in outfits 5 and 6 would be handy. Blazers too. And learning to cobble, because my shoe wardrobe is tragically minimal, yo. Ditto jewellery. Anyone want to lend me a blowtorch? >:D


PS Big ole 50% sale over at Craftsy right now, for anyone looking to take up / resume this hobby, or treat themselves to some of the classes on their wishlist....