Sunday, 25 March 2012

Really long wear eye-liner


While I don't wear a huge amount of makeup, I am one of these women who won't leave the house without a certain amount of camouflage on (there is one very tired mummy underneath that concealer and pop of blusher). Frankly I just look knackered without it. And one of my makeup "things" is that I always have to wear eyeliner in a little feline flick. Now, back in my spendthrift days, I had something of a love affair with Bobbi Brown makeup. I still am in love with the stuff but we just can't be together. But one product I just haven't been able to replace for a cheaper substitute is Bobbi Brown's Longwear Eyeliner Gel. It comes in a little pot and at £12 a pop it isn't cheap. But it is fabulous. A little goes a really long way and my personal everyday favourite is the Bronze Shimmer - a lovely soft shimmery brown which really makes your eyes stand out without the slightly harsh look of the 1950's signature black eyeliner flick.
Trouble is the gel would often start to go cakey and dry before I'd even got halfway through the pot. I blush to think how many pots I threw away when that happened. Then last year I had a brainwave. I was trying to think of a way of rejuvenating the pot and went along the lines of the solvent you often use to remove makeup is often the one that can rehydrate it (think a drop of nail varnish remover can revive old bottles of nail varnish). I find baby oil is the best (and cheapest) eye makeup remover, so I tried a tiny drop of that. Low and behold - good as new eyeliner gel! So whenever my little pot starts to get thirsty, I pop in a drop of baby oil and give it a swirl round with my liner brush or the end of my tail comb and it's good to go again.
My current pot has now been going for... it must be getting on for three years now. It is getting low, but thankfully I have a £10 John Lewis voucher sitting in my purse that is earmarked for a replacement, so I can have the double joy of buying a new Bobbi Brown eyeliner gel for only £2.
PS I should point out that for hygiene purposes it is always advisable to look at the use by date of cosmetics (should be on the packaging) and if you have say an eye infection, throw out your old cosmetics to avoid reinfection.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Boot sale bargains



Time was when the mere mention of a car boot sale would have brought me out in hives. Yes, I will confess to having been something of a snob (in fact I do still turn my nose up at a few things despite myself – I still can’t bring myself to buy second hand clothes, daft eh?). But thanks to programmes such as Kirstie’s Homemade Home (but not Bargain Hunt you understand, urgh), my eyes have been opened.

The first boot sale I actually made the effort to explore was only about six months ago and I wondered why on earth I hadn’t been before. Particularly having a toddler at the time, I could not get over how many children’s toys, books and clothes could be snapped up for an absolute steal. Given my sons’ voracious appetite for books and how quickly they get bored of or grow out of toys, I discovered to my joy I could pick up sack loads of the stuff for a few quid. After all, what happens to all those toys when your children have no longer need or use them anymore? And at this age, they don’t know or care whether they’re new or second hand. A case in point – one of my first ever purchases was an immaculate Early Learning Centre cash register for £2. I saw the very same one the following week in the shop for £25. That first boot sale I also bagged a lovely old galvanised watering can for a fiver and an earthenware jar to put my kitchen utensils in for one whole English pound.

This weekend, my haul includes a beautiful little teacup, saucer and cake plate set for £2 (perfect to add to my little collection of mismatched cups and saucers), a perfect little jug for milk or cream, and for the boys three vintage Rupert annuals for £5, the collected stories of Winnie the Pooh for a pound (proper old school Pooh mind, not yer Disney muck) and an as-new Early Learning Centre work bench that had a very noisy drill, vice, circular saw and nuts and bolts for £2. The elder Belatedly Junior was chuffed to bits and I have to say I was pretty pleased with my treats too.

I did actually drag the mother-in-law with this time (a boot sale virgin) and bless her, she was quite game – coming away with a little ceramic jug which matched a style she collects and some books and toys for when the grandchildren stay. I do think she went home and had a shower though.

I am quite sure I’m preaching to many of the converted who are doubtless rolling their eyes at my stupidity for being so stuffy about them before. But perhaps there are still a few of you out there yet to dip your toes into the boot sale waters, in which case I urge you to dive straight in – you never know what treasures you’ll net.

The sweet smell of savings



It’s amazing what inspiration strikes in the shower. There I was lathering up this morning staring rather blankly at the empty reed diffuser sitting on our window sill (a Christmas present from the mother-in-law) vaguely thinking it was a shame it was now finished, when I had a eureka moment. Now I should just back track a little here and admit I have a (now suppressed) addiction to home fragrances – namely Yankee Candles, which I can no longer justify indulging as the large ones are about £17 a pop. Any kind of home fragrance permutation is therefore a very welcome gift at birthdays and Christmas, hence my disappointment at the now exhausted reed diffuser.

Well I suddenly remembered that tucked away in a drawer in the living room was a collection of very old refresher oils from back in the days when tea light oil burners were considered the cutting edge of home fragrance. Thankfully aroma technology has moved on since then as there was nothing more irritating than suddenly getting a whiff of acrid burning oil because you’d forgotten to replenish the little puddle of water. So on a hunch I took the reed diffuser, tipped in a bottle of the fragrance oil from the drawer and topped it up with a bit of olive oil from the kitchen. Low and behold – a new reed diffuser for nothing! Especially pleasing given that I’d noticed some in Sainsbury’s last week for £14. It really works too.