Tuesday 30 December 2014

2014 Favourites: a Round-up

I always find it difficult to think about the previous year in the sense that it is hard to get a clear picture of what characterised those particular twelve months. It wasn't a great year in many ways (in terms of personal life), but I did turn 30 and have some fantastic moments too. I loved celebrating with my two best friends- friends I've had for around 18 years now! 

It was also a year of picking up some new interests, for example, finding a love for folk music and photography after purchasing my Sony A5000. And of course, it was in April that I started to blog more regularly and actually saw a small audience start to grow- something I'm really happy about. If you have read my blog this year, thank you very much! It is amazing to think that my hobby can be shared with others around the world! It is also a blessing that in today's age of technology, I can record my year in this blog- potentially as something to look back on for years to come!

So without further ado, I want to present to you: my year's favourites.

Favourite clothing item


Topshop Joni Jeans

They suck your tummy in, they make your legs look good- what's not to love about these jeans! I have them in three colours now and they are the most worn and versatile item I have in my wardrobe. 

Favourite albums 

As I already mentioned, I discovered folk this year (which I'm aware makes it sound like I found religion or something!) The fact of the matter is that I've listened mostly to folk music for the last year, instead of RnB and soul music. I do believe that Motown and 90s RnB will always have a place in my itunes library and CD collection, however my music taste has expanded this year. 

For a good few years I've loved the music of Matt Berry, who is well-known for his comedy work. His album, Kill the Wolf, is most certainly up there with my most listened-to albums of the year. I was even lucky enough to see him in concert in April which was a definite highlight of this year.

Neil Hannon and Thomas Walsh's collaboration, The Duckworth Lewis Method, also returned with a new album, Sticky Wickets, in 2013 (which I picked up this year). I know nothing about cricket, but I love the tongue in cheek nature of this and of course I love pretty much anything Hannon does!

Finally, onto the two big folk finds: Bellowhead and The Imagined Village. I know that Bellowhead are quite well-known and I found them quite quickly when starting to explore music in this genre. I loved them instantly and when I got to see them at Wickham Festival in August, I was blown away by their talent. I've just found out that I'll be seeing them again next year as a Christmas present- I'm so excited!

The Imagined Village were slightly more of a grower in that it took me a few listens to get into them. But now they are in my top four bands of the year! I've spoken about this modern folk fusion band a number of times in my favourites posts this year as I really do think they offer something unique and different. I hope they bring out new music next year as I'd love to hear more from them.

Favourite skincare 

I was thinking the other day that I used to suffer from really dry and flakey skin (disgusting, I know), but I really haven't suffered at all this year. In fact, considering I've entered a new, more mature decade of my life, my skin is better than it was in my younger days- and I definitely put that down to some of the products above.

A recent find, the Eve Lom Cleanser is just superb at giving your skin a real thorough cleanse, leaving it smooth and nourished. The only problem of course is that it costs an absolute fortune! We shall see whether it makes its way into my budget for next year- perhaps it'll be an occasional treat. The Garnier Soothing 2-in-1 make-up remover, on the other hand, is a staple of mine which costs only a few pounds. This oil and water solution is the best product I've ever found at removing eye make-up. It is unrivalled!

A brand I've mentioned a lot is Nude. Nude skincare is lovely and kind to your face. The Brightening Fizzy Powder Wash leaves my skin feeling cleaner and more refreshed than any product I've ever used. It is fabulous. The eye cream they do has also been a joy to use. I finished it up yesterday and it was a sad moment- it has lasted me about nine months and I was really happy with how it smoothed out my crow's feet! I will return to it, I've no doubt.

La Roche-Posay's Effaclar Duo + is another favourite this year. It isn't really designed for my dry skin, but let me tell you- when I get a hint of a blemish, I apply this to my face and the next day my skin is clear. It is the most amazing, non-drying lotion that kicks your skin into line!

Final faves include the Trilogy Rosehip Oil which is a great overnight replenisher, and Nuxe's Reve de Miel lipbalm- the thickest and most nourishing balm I've come across.

Favourite make-up products 

 You'll have to excuse the muckyness of these products, but at least it proves the point that they're well-used! I'll start with Nars. The Radiant Creamy Concealer is perfect for any concealing and brightens really well. Sheer Glow foundation has also been well-loved over this year for its coverage and brightening effect. I will say that this product took a while to become a favourite because it relies on having a smooth base and a light application, at least on me. When applied well, it is a dream of a product and one I would happily repurchase next year.

The Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette has also been my everyday eyeshadow solution and it allows me to create the barely-there make-up I need for work. In addition, Benefit's They're Real mascara has continued to be my everyday weapon of choice when it comes to voluminous lashes. It never lets me down!

A final favourite has to be the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in the shade Dim Infusion. This soft peachy shade is so flattering on pale skin and has been one of my most reached for cheek products since I picked it up about five months ago. 

Favourite haircare 

I got highlights this year and these products by Redken (All Soft Heavy Cream Mask and Anti-snaphave been great for keeping my hair in good condition. 

Percy and Reed's No Oil Oil is probably the best, light hair serum I've found and give my hair some volume and frizz resistance. 

Finally, I couldn't leave out Bumble and Bumble's Dryspun, which is a volumising spray that gives my hair some oomph when it's looking sorry for itself! 

Favourite TV programmes

I'm a creature of habit when it comes to TV programmes. It all stems from my need for nostalgia. 2014 was a year of re-living the TV shows of my youth with the aid of Netflix, Youtube and a few carefully chosen boxsets! So therefore I have been mostly watching and re-watching Father Ted, Birds of a Feather, The IT Crowd and Peep Show. I love to relax of an evening, escaping my day job stresses and watching some comedy. I was also delighted to be able to watch an episode of the new Birds of a Feather be filmed!

Favourite books

I'm not the most consistent reader, however there have been some books that I've really enjoyed this year. Gone Girl was an addictive read, as was Buried Thunder by Tim Bowler. These books were devoured in a short space of time thanks to the gripping plots.

Wuthering Heights was also a book that I read over a few days because it was so absorbing. On my degree I had to read some classics, but this was one I'm glad I left for a little later in life as I was able to relate to the emotions and characters more so now, having a bit more life experience to draw on.

The Bell Jar was another book I enjoyed, partly because of its feminist themes and also the psychological elements. It's a book both of its era and also one that many of us can relate to; the main character is a young woman who is disenchanted with life (as many of us are in our early twenties) and it really does put the spotlight on the narrow-mindedness of the society in which it is set.

2015 wishes...
So what's to come in 2015? Who knows, but I do want to continue to take some interesting photographs, see some more amazing live music and read some more exciting books! New Year's resolutions often leave me in a quandary; I know why people make them. I myself have set some goals over the years, but inevitably I have also failed to live up to my own expectations sometimes too! We like to have control over our future and therefore we say we'll do this or that in the new year to make ourselves feel like we're in control. 

And we are somewhat.  

But we can't control what life deals us in the long run, so I think I'll be aiming to simply enjoy the good things 2015 brings.

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