Sunday, 17 August 2014

Launching an online magazine

Sorry about the radio silence everybody! I've been a terrible blogger recently, but I promise I haven't been being lazy, off sunning myself on a distant shore, or indulging my inner socialite (if only). I've actually been working towards the launch of my new online magazine.

Yes, you heard that correctly - I'm going to be launching a new online lifestyle magazine called Only Because in autumn 2014. I wanted to take a quick breather from all of the hard graft to tell you all about it, because it's going to be great!

For a while now, I've had a lot of ideas brewing away in this little head of mine. Big ideas. Huge ideas. Much too big for this me-centric space I've carved out on Claireizabeth, as much as I've come to adore it. I want to create something a lot bigger, something that goes beyond myself sitting here all on my lonesome with my keyboard and my camera. I want to involve other people, gather a bunch of inspiring strangers together in one virtual room and see what beautiful mayhem we can create.

So let me tell you about Only Because. The idea came to me one rainy afternoon when I was trawling the internet looking for something to inspire me, someone to learn from. As you may or may not know, I am a creative professional - although I moonlight as a blogger (well, sometimes), I actually have a good old 9 to 5 day job in arts marketing. And I adore it. Being right on the cusp of my creative career, I'm constantly working to improve myself and my abilities, and I'm always on the lookout for resources I can learn from, or people to be inspired by. Perhaps I haven't been looking in the right places, but I've really struggled to find anything that really fits the bill in the blogosphere. Yes, there are plenty of blogs which focus on blogging advice, but I was looking for something that goes beyond that and considers creative pursuits in general, heart over head careers. I couldn't find it, so I decided to make it.

I write only because there is a voice within me that will not be still - Virginia Woolf

Choosing happiness over money is something I believe in so strongly, and I think that's something that will resonate with many who have chosen to make their living through their own creativity or in the creative industries. We all know that we could probably be making more money doing something else, so why do we choose this path in life? It's like Virginia Woolf said, only because. Only because this is what makes us happy. Only because this is what we need to do. Only because this is what our lives are for.

Only Because will be packed to the rafters with advice, inspiration and encouragement. I have so many ideas in the works and some truly amazing creative people on board to contribute to the launch issue. You can expect hints, tips and information on a range of subjects for all kinds of creative careerists - whether you're a professional, an entrepreneur, a freelancer, or a blogger (or dream of being any of the above), you won't leave empty handed. And the educational articles will be interspersed with some quirky lifestyle content: think home decor, mood boards, playlists, television round ups, book clubs, film reviews and so much more. Only Because will ultimately be a magazine for people who appreciate the beauty in life, and for people who like to read. I don't know about you, but I'm so bored of the products of the low-attention-span digital era. There won't be any three-liners here. This magazine will have a bit of a bite to it: something you can really sink your teeth into during your coffee break. I hope each article will leave you feeling motivated, encouraged and inspired to be your best self, achieve all of the many wonderful things you are capable of, and live the life you dream of.

The most exciting (and most intimidating) part is, this is not something I can pull off on my own. The beauty of Only Because is that it will be an amalgamation of different perspectives, different stories, different people. And that’s where you come in. If you have an idea or some work you’d like to share, visit the submissions page or email for information on how you can contribute. I can’t wait to hear your stories.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Beauty Edit

beauty edit favourites john frieda sheer blonde dove body oil clinique chubby stick balmi kheil's dark spot solution

beauty edit favourites john frieda sheer blonde dove body oil clinique chubby stick balmi kheil's dark spot solution review

I have been going wild in the drugstore lately. I just can't help myself. I pop in for a few essentials: deodorant, toothpaste, you know the drill; and emerge several days later with half the shop and a very guilty conscience. And I always, always forget my points cards. On the upside, a lot of wonderful new products have found their way into my ever growing stash, so I thought I'd share some of my favourite discoveries with you.

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Brightening Oil Elixir
This magic potion has saved me from many a bad hair day. I've been piling on the hair masks to counteract bleaching damage recently, but unfortunately deep conditioning always turns my hair into an uncontrollable, fluffy mess. A couple of drops of this hair oil instantly transforms it - it's silky, shiny and looks healthier than it did pre-bleach!

Dove Purely Pampering Nourishing Body Oil, Shea Butter and Warm Vanilla scent
Body lotion - I know I should use it, but I never do. I absolutely hate body butters in particular: they're far too messy and time consuming. I've decided to make a conscious effort to take better care of my skin but I was looking for something quick and easy to apply. This body oil was on offer in Boots, so I took a chance on it and I'm so glad I did. I was worried it would be really runny and messy and leave my skin looking greasy but it's quite thick and easy to work with and it sinks in almost instantly. My skin felt noticeably softer after one use, and it smells incredible.

Clinique Chubby Stick in Super Strawberry
How fantastic were the free gifts in Glamour this month?! I still can't believe I got a Clinique Chubby Stick free with a £2 magazine. Being a bold lip kind of girl, I don't actually have many everyday lip products, so this has quickly become my go-to shade. It's sheer and moisturising but still very pigmented, so I don't feel like I'm venturing too far from my bold lip comfort zone.

Balmi Cube Lip Balm, Strawberry Flavour
I was in the market for a new lip balm and I just could not resist this adorable packaging. When you get over the cuteness, it's a really practical design: my lip balms are always getting damaged in my bag and I have to rummage about forever trying to find them. The cube is a lot more sturdy and distinguishable. Novelty aside, it's a decent lip balm: moisturising with SPF 15 and oh my goodness, it smells amazing!

Khiel's Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution
I have an insane amount of red hyperpigmentation scarring all over my cheeks and chin, so I've been lusting after this product for as long as I've known it existed. I've been using it for around a month now and Khiel's claim that you will see visible results in 8 weeks, so I guess I should wait a while before giving my full opinion but I'm already quite pleased with the product. My scars are beginning to fade - very slightly but enough that I would notice - and I've also noticed that the surface texture of my skin has improved whilst I've been using it.

Friday, 18 July 2014

s'mores cupcakes

chocolate marshmallow s'mores cupcake recipe anna saccone

Welcome to my tutorial on how to make the least Pinterest worthy cupcakes on the internet. I studied Hospitality in my final year of high school and always missed out on the higher grades due to my shoddy presentation. Evidently not much has changed, but who cares as long as it tastes good, right? You're just going to eat it anyway.

I was feeling uncharacteristically grown up and domesticated yesterday, so I decided to have some friends over for dinner. I couldn't resist trying out Anna Saccone's s'mores cupcake recipe - basically, chocolate cupcakes with marshmallow flavoured icing. I've changed Anna's recipe up a bit to suit my personal preferences (I'm a milk chocolate kind of gal and I can't stand coffee), so I was a bit concerned that they'd be a complete disaster, but they turned out surprisingly well - if I do say so myself. I will note that the recipe is meant to be for 24 cupcakes, but due to my monster sized paper cases, I only got 15 out of the mixture.

chocolate marshmallow s'mores cupcake recipe anna saccone

For the cupcakes, you will need:

  • 195 grammes of chocolate
  • 225 grammes of unsalted butter
  • 225 grammes of flour
  • A pinch of baking powder
  • 6 level tea spoons of hot chocolate
  • 300 grammes of caster sugar
  • 3 large free range eggs (beaten)
  • 6 tablespoons of milk
  • A few drops of vanilla flavouring
For the icing, you will need:
  • 1 jar of marshmallow fluff
  • 2 cups of icing sugar
  • 225 grammes of unsalted butter
  • Food colouring 
chocolate marshmallow s'mores cupcake recipe anna saccone

To make the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat your oven to 160ºc or 140ºc fan
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate over a low heat in a large saucepan
  3. Mix together the flour, hot chocolate and sugar. Add in the melted chocolate and butter mixture and mix until combined. Gradually add the egg, mixing until combined. Then add the milk, a few drops of vanilla flavouring and a pinch of baking powder. Stir until smooth but avoid over beating.
  4. Spoon the mixture into baking cases and bake in the oven. The recipe says 20 minutes, but mine took at least 45, so I'm not sure what was going on there...
In case you're unsure, there are two easy ways to check whether cupcakes are ready to be taken out of the oven. Firstly, you can press gently on the top of the cake with your finger, and if it springs back it should be good to go. The second trick is to pierce the cake with a fork - if the fork comes out clean the cake is ready.

To make the icing:
  1. Spoon the marshmallow fluff into a microwavable bowl and heat in the microwave for 15-20 seconds
  2. Beat the marshmallow fluff and butter together until smooth. Add the icing sugar and continue beating.
  3. When the mixture is smooth, add a few drops of food colouring until you achieve the desired shade. Less is always more with food colouring! I used violet to achieve a pale lavender marshmallowey colour.
  4. If you're as haphazard as I am, just whack the icing onto the cupcakes using a butter knife and you're good to go. However, if you like to be a bit more creative with your presentation, check out Anna's video for a really cute decoration idea for these cupcakes. 
Arty Instagram shots courtesy of Christine and Erin:
chocolate marshmallow s'mores cupcake recipe anna sacconechocolate marshmallow s'mores cupcake recipe anna saccone


Sunday, 6 July 2014

going blonde

going ash blonde from brown hair with blended roots
going ash blonde from brown hair with blended roots

It finally happened. After years of flitting between being a red head and a brunette, I finally bit the bullet and decided to join the ranks of the blondes. Way back in 2012, I sported an at-home ombre job for months and really loved it, though looking back at photos now I cringe at how brassy and yellow it was. I don't think it ever saw a purple shampoo or toner. Last weekend, I picked up a Bleach London dip dye kit on a whim in Boots and decided to lighten up my ends again. You'd think past experience would have set alarm bells ringing, but nope, I never learn. I can't say it was a pleasant experience. The powder bleach kept dispersing into the air in a worryingly inhalable manner, it was impossible to mix properly in the small dish provided and the whole time I was waiting for it to develop I could hardly breathe for the smell, despite sitting right next to a wide open window. Although I toned and purple shampooed it to within an inch of its life, it turned out an insanely brassy mixture of yellows and oranges, with some bright white sections thrown in for good measure. What a mess.

I swiftly booked myself an appointment at Toni and Guy in Glasgow with a view to getting the disaster zone snipped off to collarbone length and asking a professional to lighten the rest. The colourist, Peggy, assured me that my length could be saved after she worked her magic, and I'm so glad I took her advice. I asked her to lighten it up a lot but I wanted to keep my roots dark to reduce the level of maintenance required, so she blended them into the blonde with different levels of highlights. I was insistent that I wanted a nice ashy colour, avoiding golden and copper tones as much as possible - a big ask since my natural colour is a really warm coppery brown with big chunks of red. I absolutely love the way it turned out. The colour looks a bit different in photos, but it's really ashy and cool toned and looks a lot more natural than I expected it to. I like it so much I'm almost tempted to go all the way blonde next time, although I do love the way it looks with my dark roots - they prevent my black eyebrows from looking completely crazy!

Then onto the cut with the lovely Danielle. Not quite such a drastic difference but a vast improvement nonetheless. Danielle got rid of my dead ends, added some long layers and gave me a nice straight, choppy finish, just the way I like it. My growing-out fringe has reached such an awkward length that it was beginning to look like I had two different hair cuts. She added a layer to soften it up and shaped it around my face. Now it looks like I have an actual intentional hairstyle rather than an overgrown mess. All in all, I've never been happier leaving the hairdressers. More often than not, I find myself running home to wash and restyle my hair, but this time my hair was exactly as I envisaged it.

Having never been blonde on this scale before, I'm sure I have a bit of a learning curve ahead of me when it comes to caring for and maintaining my colour - I'm already noticing that my ends are a lot more prone to breakage - but I've stocked up on purple shampoos, conditioning treatments and hair masks and I'll let you know how I get on. If you have any product or toner recommendations for ash blonde hair, please let me know in the comments below.

It's been a long time since I've made such a dramatic change to my hair and for now, I'm absolutely loving it. I much prefer it to my natural auburn shade and the vivid reds and dark browns I've dabbled with in the past and it feels good to embrace a new lighter look for summer. So, what do you reckon - can I pull off the blonde? And would you ever take the leap yourself?

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

lazy days

fashion outfit ootd floral shirt ripped knee jamie jeans topshop river island
fashion outfit ootd floral shirt ripped knee jamie jeans topshop river island
fashion outfit ootd floral shirt ripped knee jamie jeans topshop river island

Wearing shirt: river island // jamie jeans: topshop // court shoes: topshop (similar) // bag: accessorize

Minimal make up, wet hair and the comfiest pair of jeans I've ever owned - lazy dressing at its finest. This little ensemble has the Marmite effect in abundance. My sister reckons the shirt is absolutely hideous, but I'm completely infatuated with it. I just can't get enough of the contradiction of the delicate silky fabric and feminine print combined with the oversized masculine cut. Ripped jeans are also a "love them or loath them" affair, and until very recently I was firmly in the "loath them" camp. I particularly hated the overly contrived busted knee variety, but I'm eating my words now. I could live in these jeans! Topshop's Joni jeans have been my signature choice of denim for quite a while, but they're very high maintenance - they start to go baggy and lose their shape after one wear and food babies must be avoided at all costs. I haven't had a pair of Jamie jeans in years, but I'm now remembering why I wouldn't wear anything else as a teenager. Skinny and comfortable - what is this trickery?!

Isn't this very un-British summery weather absolutely glorious? I've been spending my lunch breaks in the park, taking every opportunity to enjoy the novelty of not needing to wear a coat. I've purchased the first two books on my summer reading list and I have some creative writing ideas bubbling away in my brain. I used to write constantly when I was younger. It was my favourite thing to do, but for years now I've been stuck in a bit of a rut with writing. It doesn't seem to come as naturally as it used to. I think having spent four years analysing texts for my English degree, I've become overly conscious of my own writing (and overly critical too), so I'm really enjoying this sudden urge to start putting pen to paper again. It must be all those sunny afternoons in the park!

I'm currently hosting a giveaway! Enter before the 11th of July to be in with the chance of winning a £35 ASOS gift voucher.

fashion outfit ootd floral shirt ripped knee jamie jeans topshop river island
fashion outfit ootd floral shirt ripped knee jamie jeans topshop river island
fashion outfit ootd floral shirt ripped knee jamie jeans topshop river island

Friday, 20 June 2014

100 followers: Asos gift voucher giveaway!

Asos £35 gift voucher giveaway
Asos £35 gift voucher giveaway
Asos £35 gift voucher giveaway

I can't quite believe that I'm writing this post. Earlier this week, Claireizabeth reached 100 followers on Bloglovin! It's never been about the numbers for me but behind the numbers there are real people, reading, commenting and hopefully enjoying my content and that means the world. I am thankful for each and every one of you.

To celebrate, I'm giving away a £35 Asos gift voucher to one lucky winner. I've created a wishlist above to give you some idea of what you could get with the gift voucher, as all of the items I've picked out cost £35 of less! The only entry requirement is that you must be following Claireizabeth on Bloglovin, but you can find ways to gain extra entries in the rafflecopter form below. The giveaway will close on Friday 4 July at 11.59pm and I will contact the winner by email within 7 days, so please make sure you provide a valid email address.

May the odds be ever in your favour!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 16 June 2014

little city

festival fashion outfit ootd topshop american apparel urban outfitters
festival fashion outfit ootd topshop american apparel urban outfitters
festival fashion outfit ootd topshop american apparel urban outfitters
festival fashion outfit ootd topshop american apparel urban outfitters
cardigan: topshop // top: american apparel // shorts: urban outfitters // boots: topshop // necklace: river island

I have a confession to make: I hate festivals. I went to T in the Park at the tender age of 17, naively expecting to have the time of my life even though I've always suffered from some crowd-related claustrophobia type thing that causes me to feel physically sick at concerts. As much as I love the great outdoors, camping is not for me. Nor do I enjoy paying £30 for a bag of chips, and don't even get me started on the toilets. No, I can safely say you won't be seeing me within 50 miles of a music festival this summer.

Festival fashion, however - that I am completely on board with. This crazy cardigan is actually called the 'festival cardigan' on Topshop's website and were I crazy enough to brave the campsites again, this would certainly be coming along with me. Not bringing enough layers was probably my biggest mistake at T (after buying a ticket in the first place) - it's fine during the day when the sun is out, but you don't want to be shivering your way through the after-dark headline acts. This cardigan would definitely keep you toasty, and the brightly coloured tufts of wool look rather like feathers, which pleases me immensely. 

These adorable white shorts are also a new addition to my wardrobe and I am absolutely in love. They are ridiculously comfy and the lace detailing around the legs is sheer perfection. I'm mad for leg detailing of late. The top is an old friend I picked up in American Apparel a couple of years ago in Dublin. I love the inky colours and the illustration of a little city street - I've never seen anything else quite like it. I contemplated digging out my glittery wellies circa 2008, but thankfully opted for my go-to chunky cut out boots instead.

I'm sure I'm not alone in my very unpopular anti-festival opinions. Share your festival tales of woe with me in the comments below. 

festival fashion outfit ootd topshop american apparel urban outfitters
festival fashion outfit ootd topshop american apparel urban outfitters
festival fashion outfit ootd topshop american apparel urban outfitters
festival fashion outfit ootd topshop american apparel urban outfitters