Friday, 25 April 2014

Missing In Action

Good Day Everyone,

Well it sure has been a while, hasn’t it? When I left for our trip to Japan at the end of March I felt rather proud that I had manage to prepare several blog posts which would be published automatically in my absence, thus maintaining my routine of publishing blog posts on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Heck I’d even prepared one for Monday 7th April in advance even though we arrived back in Singapore early that morning, just in case I was too tired to type that day. I figured that would take the pressure off and give me time to prepare a fresh post for Wednesday 9th April. 
Cherry blossoms (Kyoto, Japan)
Well that was the plan but if you follow me on Instagram / Facebook / Twitter then you'll know that things didn't quite go to plan! I guess what I’d not planned for was having a severe arthritic flare that knocked me for six. The day we got back my arthritic joints went a bit crazy and I developed such a debilitating bout of fatigue and exhaustion that I’ve been on more or less complete bed rest for almost three weeks now. A few days after getting back I got food poisoning as well! Oh it was not good. One minute I was being sick and the next I was fainting. My energy levels just went completely through the floor. I didn’t even have the strength to wash my own hair!!! In and amongst all of this my left thumb became arthritic as well as another finger on my right hand. Typing is becoming increasingly challenging now that I have arthritis in six of my fingers and thumbs as well as a wrist.

After two weeks of barley having any strength to speak, I finally started to feel better. This week the severe fatigue and exhaustion has finally eased :o). Whilst I’m still feeling weak and drained it’s not that debilitating fatigue that I initially had where I can’t do anything at all. My energy levels have been improving this week so much so that I was finally able to download our Japan photos onto my laptop. I'm looking forward to working my way through them. I have so many Japan blog posts running through my head that I can't wait to get them all on to my blog over the coming weeks and share our amazing trip with you all.

My hubby, bless him, has been sooo amazing and supportive. He’s been doing the shopping, cooking and washing, as well as going to work ever since we got back. He’s done a wonderful job of taking care of me and ensuring that I have nothing to do but rest. I’m pleased to be finally feeling better so that I can start helping out with household chores and taking some of the pressure of him so that he has time to relax and chill out. 
In sickness and in health. I seriously have the best hubby :o)
Even though I’m feeling much better, I have noticed that I’ve lost a lot of stamina. I seem to get out of breath really easily and to me that’s a sign that I need to get myself back to the gym and start building my strength and stamina back up. However, before I do that I have another little holiday to go on... lucky me :o).

This time next week one of my dearest friends will be coming to visit us all the way from France. She’s going to be with us for 11 days and my hubby and I are super excited for her visit. The three of us get on sooo well that we have even lived together in a one bed apartment back in England when either she or we have been in between homes. It’s the kind of friendship where even when we’ve not been living in the same country, as soon as the three of us get together, it’s like the distance was never even there. She’s one of my oldest friends and we have so much fun when we are together. I’ll be taking her to Langkawi Island and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) for five days whilst my hubby’s at work and then we’ll have a few days at the start and end of her visit in Singapore. Her visit is another reason why I’ve been on complete bed rest as I desperately want to get better before her arrival so that I have the energy to take her out and about and show her all the sights. I want her to have an amazing time as I know she’s really been looking forward to this trip.

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately and what I’ll be getting up to over the next couple of weeks. How have you been? What have you been up to?

I’ll be working on my Japan blog posts over the coming weeks but just bear with me as I need to take it slowly so that I don’t undo the last three weeks of bed rest. However, you can get sneak peaks into our trip on my Instagram.

Love Sheen xxx

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Sunday, 6 April 2014

Topshop Glow Highlighter

Good Day Everyone,

When it comes to makeup, after eyes, my skin is the thing that I most pay attention to and so I love trying out skin illuminators and highlighters. I'm definitely a dewy skin kind of girl rather than preferring the more matte look, especially as my skin is more on the dry side.

I picked up this Topshop Glow highlighter in the shade Polish a while back and have really been enjoying using this. The product comes in a frosted glass jar with a very minimalistic and clean look to its packaging (my favourite look) and is a gorgeous little pot of creamy, sheeny, loveliness. The only downside to the packaging is that it is quite weighty and being glass, I don't tend to travel with this.

It may look like you don't get much product in this little pot but let me tell you a little goes a long way with this highlighter as this stuff packs a serious punch. I tend to use this primarily on the tops of my cheekbones, cupids bow and the inner corners of my eyes. I personally, find it too much as a brow bone highlighter and prefer something a bit more on the matte side. Sometimes I will mix the most tiniest bit in with my moisturiser or foundation for a very subtle glow all over my face.
The texture is very smooth and creamy and the highlighting effect can be quite in your face, if you wish, or it can be sheered out to be more subtle. As you can see from the photo below, this highlighter leaves a beautiful pearly sheen to the skin without any obvious sparkle or glitter, and it catches the light beautifully.
Glow also comes in another shade called Gleam which is more of a golden colour. Both of these retail for £9 in the UK but I picked mine up at Topshop in Singapore for $19 SGD.

What do you think of this highlighter? Have you tried it? What other highlighters would you recommend?

Love Sheen xxx
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Thursday, 3 April 2014

Urban Decay Naked 3 Eyeshadow Palette

Good Day Everyone,

I've been playing around with the Urban Decay Naked 3 palette for a few weeks now and feel ready to share my thoughts. When this palette first came out, I was in two minds as to whether I wanted it or not because I already have the original Naked and Naked 2. However, when I saw a friend's palette in person I totally fell in love. I for one love pink and blush tones for eyeshadow. I feel they compliment my dark brown eyes and warm complexion really well. Plus the colours in this palette are very different to the original Naked and Naked 2 palettes. I've been on a makeup purchasing ban since the new year and still have just under three months to go but luckily as I had my birthday in January my hubby kindly indulged me :o)

Value For Money:
If you've read my previous posts on the Naked and Naked 2 palettes then you will already know that I think this palette is great value for money. In the US, this palette retails for $52 USD, just like it's predecessors, but in Singapore the price has gone up slightly from $80 SGD to $83 SGD. Likewise in the UK the price has gone up from £36 to £37. However, despite the slight price increase you are still getting a great deal as this palette costs less than the price of three individual Urban Decay eyeshadows, plus you get some freebies thrown in for good measure :o).

The Freebies:
Like the Naked 2 palette, this one also comes with a double ended eyeshadow brush with a blending brush on one side and a regular shadow brush on the other. These eyeshadow brushes retail in the US for $26 USD each so that's the cost of the palette covered right there ;o). Keeping in line with the theme of this palette, the brush handle is a rose gold colour with gold writing on it.
The blending brush from different angles
The regular shadow brush from different angles
The brush isn't bad at all and I do use it although my preference would have been to have the crease brush that was in the Naked 2 palette rather than this blending brush. I find the crease brush to be better at blending and this blending brush better for applying colour onto my crease... go figure!

In addition to the brush, this palette also comes with samples of all four of the Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potions; Original, Eden, Sin and Anti-Aging. Each sample is said to contain about a week's worth of primer and is supposed to be resealable, although I don't have my hopes up for this. The primers are foil wrapped so once it's opened I'm not sure how you would reseal it and prevent it from drying out - I guess I'll have to try one to find out.
The Packaging:
The packaging is very similar to the Naked 2 palette in that the shadows come in a metal tin case, reminiscent of an old school tin pencil case. The colour of this one is rose gold, of course, and the top of the tin isn't completely smooth like Naked 2, but has a ripple effect along with gold embossed writing. The hinged lid snaps shut and the packaging feels secure and travel friendly
On the inside of the palette there is a large mirror in the lid, just like it's predecessor, and the 12 rose hued shadows going from light to dark, along with space for the brush.
The Eyeshadows:
This palette contains 12 new shades from Urban Decay and whilst the theme of the palette is rose gold ( the colours are incredibly wearable, in my opinion. The colours are not garish colours that you imagine when you think of pink eyeshadows. I wouldn't even say that all of the colours are pink, some just have a subtle pink undertone to them, rather than actually being pink. There are a range of finishes from completely matte to pearly satin and down right glittery :o). Overall, I feel the colours in this palette are mainly warm toned with a few cool shades. As you can see from the swatches below less than half the shades are what I would actually call pink. Most of them are very wearable neutral colours and hence this palette being referred to as a naked palette.

As you can see from the photos above the shadows are pretty true to colour and most translate well from the pan onto my skin. The texture and quality of the shadows is what I would expect from Urban Decay. They are very smooth and buttery but you do have to be careful with Buzz and Trick as there is quite a bit of fallout from them, and a little from Dust. From the photo above it looks like there are three matte shades, Strange, Limit and Nooner but I have to say that Strange isn't completely matte, it does have a sheen to it that the other two matte shades don't.

Below I've cited the way each of the colours have been described on the Urban Decay website followed by my own opinions, if different, based on my experience:
Strange: described as a pale neutral pink matte-satin. This is an extremely pale pink. Even though this shade looks matte in the photo above, it does have a sheen to it when it catches the light. This is the brow bone and inner corner highlighting shade. On me, it works particularly well on my brow bone but it doesn't translate as well on my inner corners as my skin is darker there and so the colour loses it's brightness. I don't mind this as I prefer something a little more shimmery on my inner corners.
Dust: described as a pale metallic pink shimmer with iridescent micro-glitter. The actual colour within this shade isn't very pigmented and using MAC's Fix+ definitely helps to enhance the colour. This does have some fallout so apply with caution. This shadow is all about the sparkle and I don't mind that at all :o) This shade is great on the centre of the lids for a sparkly pop.
Burnout: described as a light pinky peach satin. This translates more on the pinky side on my eyelids and is a great all over the lid colour.
Limit: described as a light dusty rose matte. This is a great crease and blending out colour.
Buzz: described as a metallic rose shimmer with silver micro-glitter. This is definitely the most pink shade in the palette and looks gorgeous on the centre of the lid. This and the shade Trick have the most fallout but the pigmentation is better than Dust.
Trick: described as a light metallic pinky copper shimmer with tonal micro-sparkle. Gosh that sounds complicated! Basically this is a coppery rose gold shimmer. When I think of the colour rose gold this is what I imagine. The colour in this shade is a bit more pigmented than Dust but not as much as Buzz so I recommend keeping the MAC Fix+ to hand.
Nooner: described as a medium pink brown matte. This is a great crease / blending out colour. On my eyes this has more pink in it than the above photo is showing. It's like a deeper and darker version of Limit.
Liar: described as a medium metallic mauve shimmer. I would say this has subtle brown undertone to it.
Factory: described as a pinky brown satin. The warm brown in this shade is definitely more dominant than the pink.
Mugshot: described as a metallic taupe shimmer with a slight pink twist. This shade definitely has some dusky pink plummy-ness to it and is one of my favourites.
Darkside: described as a deep taupe mauve satin. This has a grey plum undertone to it that is deeper than the one in Mugshot. This shade definitely looks more grey in the pan than it is and for some reason the swatch on my skin looks a lot paler than it does in real life.
Blackheart: described as a smokey black matte with rosy red micro-sparkle. This is the shade that I am most disappointed with whilst loving the most! It is a chocolatey black with red sparkle that looks stunning in the pan but it doesn't translate well onto my lids. It is very easy to over blend the black so that it loses most of it's intensity and the red sparkles just seem to disappear with the tiniest bit of blending. I tend to use this wet on an angle brush as a liner in an attempt to maintain the intensity of the black and keep as much of the red sparkle as possible by not blending it.

As my under eye dark circles extend onto my eyelids, I definitely need to use some sort of coloured primer or base to minimise this darkeness in order for the colours to show up as they look in my swatches. Without a coloured base on my eyelids some of the paler shades just get drowned out by the darkness of my natural lids and don't show up very well. Whilst I have the original Primer Potion, I'm looking forward to trying Eden and Sin in particular to see if they help counteract the darkness on my lids.

I absolutely love this palette and there's not a single colour that I don't use. To me, this palette is different enough from the original Naked and Naked 2 palettes to warrant it's place in my collection, especially as eyes are my thing. As to which of the three palettes is my absolute favourite... well that's not a decision I can make lightly. I'm going to need some time to think about that one and get back to you. Perhaps I'll follow this up with a post comparing all three Naked palettes and give you my decision then ;o).

Do you have the Naked 3 palette? What do you think about it? Do you love it as much as the original Naked or Naked 2?

Love Sheen xxx

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Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Travel Anxiety

Good Day Everyone,

Given that I have spent most of my adult life travelling both within the UK and overseas, you’d think I’d be used to it by now… but oh no. I still get really bad bouts of anxiety a few days before I’m due to travel. My anxiety is definitely worse if I’m not travelling by car. You see, despite flying regularly when I was a career woman, I have a big fear of flying. A fear that is only surpassed by my fear of travelling by sea which I have very rarely done. Being a naturally anxious person, with worrying tendencies only exceed by my own mother’s, I tend to get myself or rather my stomach into knots quite regularly.

I have many fears, I can’t help it, it’s just the way I am! Although I’m convinced there is a hereditary component as many of my fears are shared by my mother. I’m scared of heights hence flying, water to the extent that I still can’t swim and avoid baths, creepy crawlies, the dark, and even people. I say people because I have a rather nervous and jumpy disposition. There were many occasions at work where I’d be so engrossed in what I was working on that if a colleague called my name or tapped me on the shoulder, a loud shriek would automatically let itself out of my mouth before my brain even had the chance to process that there was, in fact, nothing to be scared of. 

Back home in England when we lived in a house, if I was upstairs and my hubby was downstairs he would have to shout from the bottom of the stairs that he was coming up because I just had way too many occasions of being scared half to death by his sudden appearance. I think the fact that I am easily engrossed in whatever I’m doing, be it listening to music, watching a movie, working or even just sat there thinking / day dreaming, makes my nervous disposition worse because my mind is rarely in the present. I’m always miles away so any sudden sound or movement that brings me back to Earth has quite a dramatic effect! My knee jerk reaction is to shriek and this reaction is always faster than my brain being able to process that there is no danger. Its OK... you can laugh... go ahead... most of my family and friends do ;o).

Anyway, back to the travelling anxiety. I don’t have a fear of travelling per se. On the contrary, I love travelling to new places, meeting new people and seeing new and exciting things. Being away from the comforts and familiarity of my own home doesn’t worry me in the least. I feel incredibly blessed to have had a career that allowed me to see many different and wonderful places around Europe, the Nordics and the US. I don’t even mind traveling alone to unfamiliar places. I wouldn’t have been able to have the career that I did, if that was the case. I regularly travelled to cities that I’d never been to before, all by myself, often unable to speak the language. So long as I have my phone, my passport and some money / credit cards so that I can keep in touch with people and get myself on a flight back home in an emergency, I’m fine.

My travel anxiety stems from a number of specific factors; the mode of transport i.e. flying, the fear of forgetting something and not being prepared (that'll be my control freak tendency), and being out of reach or family not knowing where I am, just in case there’s an emergency back home or I end up going missing (that’s my drama queen tendency). Over the years I have developed coping strategies or ways that can help minimise the anxiety and nervousness that I experience. Whilst I wish these would totally eradicate my anxiety (I’m sat here with butterflies in my stomach subconsciously stressing about the fact that we fly to Japan tomorrow… I’m writing this post before our trip so that I can schedule it to be published whilst I’m away), I have come to accept that nothing is ever likely to get rid of my travel anxiety and all I can do is minimise it and its impact, as best as I can.

With regards to flying, these days I rarely fly on my own. As I’m not working, I no longer travel for work, only pleasure… only it’s hardly ever a pleasurable experience! This usually includes trips home to England and holidays so most of the time my hubby is with me. Having someone I know with me on a plane makes a big difference. My hubby is well versed with my travel anxiety and so does a good job of distracting and reassuring me during those key times when I’m most freaked out… take-off and landings. Where possible, I try to take a daytime flight rather than nighttime because that causes me less stress. Being able to look out of the window and actually see makes me (psychologically) feel better than seeing nothing but darkness… and we already know I’m scared of the dark! If I am on a nighttime flight then I try to distract myself by watching movies and, if possible sleeping. To help me sleep, I always have calming Zen music on my iphone / ipod. I also take my travel blanket and neck pillow in order to make myself as comfortable as possible.

For my control freak tendency and the fear of forgetting something, I write lists… actually I write categorised lists (you know… vitals (passport, ticket, money, keys), electronics, clothes, footwear, accessories, toiletries, makeup, medication, jewellery, gifts and so on)… at least 24hrs before the trip so that way I’m not rushing it and less likely to forget something. Also, it means I have time to revisit the list and recall something that I may have missed earlier. Now this may seem a bit OTT (over the top) but one of my worst fears is being stuck in a country where I don’t speak the language and realising that I’ve forgotten something as vital as my medication. Suffering from three chronic illness, two of which can leave me bed bound, means I’ve become accustomed to writing this all important list and to be on the safe side, I always carry all my non-liquid meds in my hand luggage… you know just in case my luggage gets lost.

Finally to deal with the whole being out of reach, going missing and no-one knowing where to look for me debacle, I make sure that either my hubby or I have a cell phone between us that works in the country we are visiting. If this means buying a local SIM card for one of our phones then that’s what we do. I also compile an Excel spreadsheet that details all of our flight information (airlines, departure and arrival times and dates, airports and terminals, seat numbers where possible etc), and the contact details of our hotels (name, address, telephone number with international dialling code, email etc) which I send to my brother or parents back in England. This may seem overly cautious but I got into the habit of doing this for my hubby, including providing addresses of where my work meetings were, when I used to travel with work. This way he always knew my whereabouts and work schedule, as often I’d be travelling alone, and the habit has since stuck. It makes me feel better

Once in the foreign country, I always carry the card of the hotel that I am staying at, in case I ever get lost or can’t remember the name / address of where I’m staying. Also, when I used to travel with work, I used to leave one of my own business cards and a copy of my itinerary in my hotel room. That way, if I ever went missing the hotel / police would know which company I worked for and be able to contact my colleagues and they’d have a rough idea of the places to look for me as a starting point. I know it sounds very dramatic but you can never take travel safety too seriously, especially as a lone woman.

So those are just a few of the ways I try and manage my travel anxiety. I try to avoid resorting to medication as a way of managing my travel anxiety, but I won’t deny that in the past I may have used one of my migraine pain relief medications, that tended to have a bit of a relaxing effect on my body and mind, as a way of making the transatlantic flights to the US a bit more bearable. Although to be fair, flying over water definitely stresses me out more than flying over land and so I would typically get a migraine as a result of my travel anxiety anyway. As my friends used to say, flying business class was definitely wasted on me as I’d spend the whole time stressing rather than enjoying the privilege ;o)

Do you suffer from travel anxiety? What steps do you take to manage the anxiety? Any tips or advice for me?

Love Sheen xxx
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