Monday, 24 November 2014

Design Gems: IKEA KALAS plastic cups.

When I was little, we had countless plastic cups from IKEA. And I've now discovered how useful they are for life, even when there are no small kids around.

They are £0.90 for 6, and that's really the best part. There are so many uses for these, and for most of those uses getting something specific to do the job would be very costly.

The uses I like best:

  • Measuring my oats, milk, and water, for porridge (one cup-ful of each, to the level where the stripes stop near the top of the mugs - the stripes come slightly higher on mine than on the pictured mugs, oddly)
  • Holding my toothpaste and toothbrush on the side of the sink (that's the pink one, naturally!)
  • The use they were intended for - drinking! I like using these for sugary drinks and fruit juices where I actually want to stick to the recommended 200ml portion size. 
  • Holding any small things - in the past I've had all my pencils and gel pens in one; currently all my eyeliners and make-up brushes live in one
  • Collecting the random small bits and bobs that always accumulate on one's desk (or is that just me?) 
  • You could use one to hold charging cables; I haven't tried this, so I don't know how well it would work.
  • Measuring smallish amounts of snack food, so that I can put the packet away before I get munching. The bowls from the same range might be worth a try for that too, and could make a nice way to store bracelets and necklaces between wearings. 
It's also worth mentioning, while I'm on this subject, that the cutlery set from the range is incredibly useful for packed lunches for uni. The cutlery pieces are small enough that they can fit inside my lunch-box, meaning that I don't get cutlery floating around my bag and getting dirty. 

Friday, 31 October 2014

'The Best Things In Life Are Free' and privilege.

(This isn't meant to be a preachy post. Just some thoughts)

I've been thinking a lot about privilege recently. For example, when I had the opportunity to go on a study year abroad, I was able to grab it and not have to worry too much about the financial aspect. While I'm here, I've been enjoying quite a lot of free, enjoyable things.



You often hear the saying 'the best things in life are free' from people who've made it. Iggy Pop, for example, just gave a lecture at the BBC and ended with it. (Link at the end of this article http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/oct/26/the-power-of-writing-lists)

And it's true, some really nice things about life are, or can be, free. For example:
  • Curling up in bed with a book (libraries!)
  • Going for a walk and enjoying the scenery
  • Sitting somewhere and watching the world go by
  • The scent of clothes which have been air-dried outside
  • A really good chat with a friend

But they're not free, not really. For a start, they all require time, which, as we all know, is money. When you have less money, or you live by yourself, many tasks take longer than they do for other people.

For example, the landlord of my student house last year had bought a really cheap washing machine. Sure, it did the job, but the quickest cycle was over two hours long. When you use a laundrette, you have to plan the time to get there, and wait around for your clothes - some are open only for relatively short hours, which makes the job even faster.

When you don't have a car, you have to grocery shop more often so that you can carry things home, and that, naturally, means it takes more time, just from queuing to pay and from getting there and back, both of which take the same amount of time per visit (and the actual getting there and back is quicker if you have a car). If you have a tiny fridge and freezer, you have to shop more often too, meaning that when you might just want to go out after work or university one day, you can't, because you have to go grocery shopping. One way around this, of course, is to use online deliveries. I did a Sainsburys order fortnightly during my summer internship and it was a great way of doing things - unfortunately, grocery delivery isn't really a thing here!

So if you're working five or six full days a week, and especially if you don't know your hours until right before the week starts (which was what I disliked about my summer job last year), it can be incredibly difficult to fit the 'life organisation' around that, leaving you no time to sit and watch the world go by without feeling incredibly guilty for taking the time for yourself.

Going for a walk and enjoying the scenery is one of my favourite 'free' things to do. But there are certain things that you need: shoes that won't fall apart, and a warm layer (especially at this time of year!). You also, more importantly, need to live somewhere where it's safe for you to go out and walk and where there's nice scenery within walking distance. That's something that lots of us take for granted, I think. 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Essence Hello Autumn range

I was in Müller last week buying nail polish remover (as I only realised once my nails were completely scrappy that I had indeed come to Germany without any - oops!) and saw the rest of the Essence stand with their Hello Autumn display and thought I'd give a few of the items a go.


The first things I saw were a pair of six-pan eyeshadow palettes, in shades 'Walk In The Park' (browns) and 'Keep Calm and Go For A Walk' (greens).

Here are the two palettes together. As you can see, the packaging is simple, and although it's clearly low-cost it's not 'cheap.' I think the lightest shade in each palette is identical, and then the colours diverge. The various browns in the first palette are lovely.




Here are the swatched shades from the browns palette. As you can see, the pigmentation isn't particularly heavy, but that makes these shades perfect for everyday use. The golden brown shade (bottom left of the swatches) is my favourite from this palette, I think


And here are the swatches of the other palette. The slightly glittered off-black is a great shade to have.

I was impressed by the lack of fall-out of these shadows; at 3.75 euros each, they were a very good buy! I couldn't find them on the Wilko's website, but that would be where to find them in the UK.

I've had my eye on the Bourjois colour-adapting blush for a while but couldn't justify the price when I wasn't sure if I would like it. In stepped Essence with their own, for only 2.45! I chose the pink shade, Keep Calm and Go For A Walk:


It looks incredibly pale in the pan, but (on me anyway) creates a lovely pink flush that creates the impression that I've been out for a walk in the autumn leaves. I'll definitely be picking up the reddish shade!

You can never have enough pencil eyeliners, right? I picked up the brown one from this range, called Leaves Are The New Beef:

I really like the finish of this liner; it's got a bronzey sheen rather than being shimmery, and blends out nicely with the foam end of the pencil. Very much worth its 1.45 price-tag!

Here's the eyeliner (right) and the blush (left; unfortunately it doesn't really do its thing when swatched on the back of a hand!) swatched for you.

On the strength of these products, I'll definitely pick up more from Essence in the future; I'm very impressed!

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