Saturday, 29 March 2014

DIY Macaron Recipe

Here's DIY No.2/Recipe No.1 - Chocolate Macarons. Make 'em tomorrow to impress your mammy. And hope they go a little better than my first attempt...heh.

DIY Mother's Day Card

I really don't like cards bought in shops. I mean, they're grand, they do the job but I think homemade ones are just a lot better. Especially for really close loved ones.

Part one of two Mother's Day DIYs, is this card. It's pretty simple and easy to make but the sentiment is nice, non?

Basically, it involves making cut-outs in the shape of hearts with messages underneath. I went with different names for mother as it goes with the message I'll put inside but you could also write reasons you love your mammy, things to thank her for etc.

So, here we go. 

You'll need:

At least two sheets of paper/card
A scissors
A hole-punch

1. Fold two sheets in half together and punch two holes at the point where they are folded over.

2. Fold half of one of the sheets of paper accordion-style like so.

3. Make cut-outs in your preferred shape like so and arrange as you choose.

4. I then ironed it flat again.

5. Pick your colours and fill in your messages.

6. Draw lines of colour in the remaining creases.

7. Use ribbon to tie the two sheets together.

8. If you want, you can make a mini-bunting across the interior with your cut-outs. Et voilá! 

Hope this might be useful to someone...anyone. Happy Mother's Day, y'all.

PS. If anyone makes this DIY, do send me a picture to, I'd LOVE it.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Brown Thomas Beauty.

It's late and I should be asnooze but I first wanted to mention the Brown Thomas Beauty Event which is on this week, in case you didn't already know. Above are the events happening and below is the magazine produced in conjunction with The Gloss for the occasion. 

Not only is this a lovely freebie to flip through, inside are vouchers for various consultations, lessons and samples. Even an eyebrow shaping worth €20 from Shu Uemura! The event has been extended a week so even though I'm late in the game posting about it, you can still go into the store, pick up a copy of the magazine and make appointments to redeem those vouchers next week!

I'm booked in for a session at Shu Uemura next week and one at Clarins and I've already redeemed a voucher for a contouring lesson and free blush at Nars as well as a foundation lesson and sample at Laura Mercier.

PS. BareMinerals are offering a free makeunder and deluxe foundation sample with this voucher, found on their facebook page. Available until the 30th of April. 

Enjoy all the pampering and sampling!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Fashback: Lover's Eye Miniatures.

© Birmingham Museum of Art.

From February to June of 2012, the Birmingham Museum of Art had an exhibition of one of the largest extant collections of Lover's Eyes in the world - owned by David Skiers, an eye surgeon, and his wife, Nan. At the time, I had never heard of these bizarre yet beautiful objects. It wasn't until September last year, when I was trying to choose an object to write an essay on for college, that I first came across them. Immediately, I was intrigued and just a tad obsessed. The romance, the drama and the physical loveliness of these objects fascinated me. 

Cameo vs. Miniature

Most of you will be familiar with portrait miniatures - sometimes erroneously mistaken for, and called, cameos in the media. Even if you're not consciously aware of it, you'll have seen examples of them before. Miniatures are (generally) small painted portraits on vellum, ivory, copper and cardboard from the 17th to the 19th centuries. They can be mounted on walls, inside boxes or worn as jewellery in various forms and sometimes will have begun life in one format only to have later been converted to another. Funnily enough, many full-size portraits from that period actually show the sitter wearing or holding a portrait miniature.

"Miniature", surprisingly, does not refer to size as most believe. It, instead, comes from the Latin minium, meaning "red lead". Miniature painting developed originally from medieval manuscript production and the images made to illustrate the texts which were miniated in that pigment.

Fitzherbert and George IV.

Lover's Eyes or Eye Miniatures are a particular sub-genre of this genre of portraiture. The term "Lover's Eye" is not a contemporaneous one but was instead later coined by the collector Edith Weber. They were most common through the period c.1790 to 1820 and are said to have been conceived as more discreet love tokens to be passed between the Prince of Wales and his love, Maria Fitzherbert. George III did not approve of the match between his son and a widowed Catholic but they were married secretly and illegally anyway. The eye miniature provided a greater degree of anonymity and discretion by only revealing the eye of the giver while retaining the sentiment of a regular miniature, allowing the pair to express their forbidden love. It is this origin and level of patronage which is said to have made the objects so popular.

This story of origin is contested, however. Eye miniatures are thought to have actually originated in France and are recorded in sitters books of prominent portrait painters in Britain up to two decades before the episode with the Prince of Wales. He may have popularised the miniatures or increased their popularity but he was almost certainly not the first to commission such an object. 

Eye miniature ring  © Birmingham Museum of Art.

The anonymity which derives from merely depicting the eye means that the identity of the sitter in certain Lover's Eyes often remains a mystery today. Some miniatures include inscriptions but these too can be vague and not particularly helpful. People have speculated that the anonymity was employed to allow owners to wear such tokens openly but few portraits (the only remaining visual evidence for how contemporaneous people wore their clothes and accessories) show us figures wearing Lover's Eyes. This is because they were often symbols of extramarital love affairs. In fact, for extra caution, Lover's Eyes were usually worn beneath layers of clothing and not out in the open at all. That they remain a mystery is a testament to their original intentions and purpose. 

Pearl surrounded miniature with tears © Victoria and Albert Museum.

Later, eye miniatures became popular as a method of remembrance rather than secret love and were painted with tears or peering through clouds. Through Queen Victoria's fondness for them, the miniatures survived (though with much lesser popularity) just into the twentieth century and there are still some artists making them today. 

Hair work at the back of a miniature. 19th Century Mourning Brooch, Case Antiques.

Lover's Eyes, like all miniatures, are highly intimate objects. Generally small and either worn as jewellery or contained in boxes carried on the person, they encouraged one-on-one interaction. Hair work (making images, generally on the back, out of the hair of the sitter or just the inclusion of some hair) was also a common element, adding to the physicality and intimacy by allowing a lover to carry a small part of their beloved around with them. But eye miniatures were particularly intimate, as they required the physical familiarity between individuals to recognise another by merely their eye and without context. The intended recipient would have had a very different experience of viewing an eye miniature to anyone else now or when it was created.

It is estimated that only around a thousand Lover's Eyes exist today and eye miniatures have become highly sought-after objects with replicas and reproductions having become very popular. Though they may have long since fallen out of popular favour, there are those of us who continue to be suckered in by the romance and loveliness of the objects.

Eye miniature in pearl surround with clouds. © Birmingham Museum of Art.

I was telling a friend about this piece and Lover's Eyes the other day and she thought there something creepy about them. I can understand how they might seem like odd little objects to a modern audience. Especially because of the inclusion of hair work. However, how far is this really from parents keeping baby teeth or locks of hair today? Not so far, I think. The focus on the eye in isolation of the rest of the body, too, which I would argue has become something unsettling largely through its use on horror movie posters, lends an atmosphere of discomfort to some modern viewers. For me, it's easy to look past these aspects (even though I'm weird about eyes) and just see the romance. The intimacy and familiarity they imply as well as the ceremony of wearing and carrying around jewellery or mementos to keep a loved one in mind (especially when they actually contain a little part of that person) is beautiful to me. I would totally rock one of these.

How about you guys? What do you make of Lover's Eye miniatures?

Monday, 24 March 2014

TanOrganic Love and Use.

I'm not a fake tan kind of girl, I have to say. However, I do approve of the people who might be willing to burn, using it instead. I also approve of using an Irish product which is the only organic fake tan in the world.

At the launch of their new bronzer, I got a few products which have become major faves. The tan went directly to my little sister who has received many a compliment since using it. And I've been using the bronzer, Argan oil and exfoliating mitt religiously.

The Argan Oil, or Oil Arganic (€24.99), - so witty - has quite a dent in it already! I use it in my hair on almost a daily basis, just pouring a little into my palms and running it through. It's also useful as a natural way to tame fly-aways. And I have to say, after using it for a while now, my hair is a lot better behaved and healthier looking. And less with the knots too! Though it can be used on your hair, it was primarily intended for the body and I also use it as a moisturiser after showering.  It smells lightly of lemons and oranges which is a major plus as well.

The Tan-Erase exfoliating mitt (€14.99) is cracked out a few times a week and my skin is always noticably softer afterwards with the combination of mitt and Argan oil. It's also not too rough. It removes the dead skin without agitating my skin.

I was going to say that the serious coup is the Bronzing Powder (€29.90) but that would be unfair to how much I love the Oil Arganic. However, the bronzer is gorgeous. First of all, the wooden packaging (reminiscent of Tarte products) is majorly cute and a lovely touch. The shades are so beautiful - a matte cocoa brown and a shimmer sandy colour. This product is a great multi-use - something I always approve of. I use it for bronzer, contouring and eyebrows. 

Here's a quick outline of what I do.

1. Start with unadorned face as I did today.

2. Load a blusher brush with the matte shade.

And contour! I do a '3' shape on my face, starting at the temple, tracing down under the cheekbones and then around the jawline.

PS Sucking in my cheeks helps me find those wily cheekbones!

3. Using the same brush (I don't bother switching), I dust the shimmer shade over my cheeks, forehead, nose, chin, neck and chest.

Again, the silly face to make sure I'm on track.

Notice a difference yet?

4. Using an eyeshadow brush loaded with the matte shade, I fill in my brows.

5. I may also use this brush and shade to shape and contour my nose. I apply to the sides of the nose, up towards the inner edge of the brow and blend the crap out of it!

How about the difference now?

6. I then use a different eyeshadow brush with the shimmer shade to highlight the centre of the nose, under and above the eyes and the philtrum. If I'm not wearing full-on makeup, I'll use the same shade for a splash of colour on my eyelid.

All that put together looks like this.

If I am wearing BB cream it goes on before any of this. However, if it's a light, s/s look I just add concealer to relevant areas and powder over the entirety. I'll also probably add a lip balm and some mascara. Which then looks like this:

So, there you have it - products I've been loving and how I use them. Sorry this post was so full of pictures of my face! 

Have you tried any of the above? What did you think?