Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Introducing Tova | Guest Post #6

I belong to Plastic Society, an online beauty group. I joined them a few months ago and I was overwhelmed with the positivity I was receiving. Girls (and sometimes even boys) were giving each other feedback, constructive criticism, and compliments. Plastic Society is incredibly active and interactive. There is a themed weekly challenge and as of recently, members in the group have even collaborated with each other. With ages ranging from 17 to 41, anyone is welcome. This group has helped me with not only confidence by sharing my makeup looks, but also helped me to meet people with similar interests.

This is how I met Tova.

After a series of interactions such as comments, feedback, likes and eventually follows across social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, we decided to collaborate on a Space/Galaxy inspired makeup look. The best part of all of this was that Tova is a cruelty-free beauty addict too, so it was great to be able to discover new brands when working with her. Since Tova lives in Sweden and I live in the Netherlands, it was tricky to always stay in touch but over the past two weeks, we decided it'd be great to have her on my blog. We had some time to sit down and chat and here's what she's got to say.

I just turned 19 and moved to Stockholm, Sweden, but my real home and heart is back in Hälsingland. If I had to describe myself in three words, I would say: honest, compassionate, impatient. Beauty for me is feeling comfortable in my own body. The last few years been a journey for me and my self esteem, I’ve been struggling a lot with my looks.

When I found makeup as a hobby, it somehow helped me. It did, as for many, start with covering up my bad skin, fixing my bushy brows, etcetera etcetera. But then, it became an outlet for creativity and expressing myself. I didn’t think of it as a way to cover myself anymore. I became less conscious about my face and eventually I didn’t feel the need to use makeup to cover myself up.

I started dabbing in to cruelty-free makeup in the beginning of 2014, but I was weak (and really in to the MAC hype) and it wasn’t until 2015 that I really went cruelty-free. I just didn’t feel comfortable buying from brands that think money is more important than ethics and I would rather support companies that are in line with my personal values. I went vegan in April this year, and since I already only bought cruelty-free makeup, it felt like an pretty easy and natural step to only buy vegan products from that date. Of course the fact that I went vegan for the animals was the big reason behind it, I avoid the exploitation of animals as much as I can, including animal ingredients in makeup.
I have plenty of favourite makeup brands! One is ColourPop. They have budget friendly pricing and the quality of the products is consistent and very good. Their range of shades are just amazing, and most of their products are vegan which is a huge plus! My favorite products are the lippie stix, eyeshadows and highlighters, they all have a holy grail status in my collection. I also like Catrice, another budget friendly brand! They have products in every category, though I think it’s unfortunate that most of their face products are only suited for fair skin. I have, however, found a lot of staple products such as the Prime and Fine powder, Velvet Skin concealer and Glam & Doll False Lashes mascara. I run out of those products every few months so it’s nice to have an affordable alternative on hand. They also have a lot of vegan products.

For high-end products, I prefer NARS. Their packaging is so sleek and minimalistic. It feels sturdy and luxurious! They have the absolute best foundation and lipsticks in my opinion - the Sheer Glow foundation and Audacious lipsticks. I was sooo happy to find out those are vegan and many of their products are! It’s a brand that feels safe to splurge on.

The galaxy face paint (where I collabed with Miah!) was really fun as well because I got to combine beauty makeup with more traditional painting.

I draw inspiration mostly from other artists, and foremost from Instagram. Not only makeup artists, other medias can be just an inspiring. I’m always looking for new colour combinations, shapes, techniques and mediums that I could use in my makeup looks. I have a folder full of screenshots, for the times I feel bored and uninspired. Seeing talented artists work makes me want to get better! There’s been times where an idea for a look has just popped in to my head, remembering it on the other hand...

One thing that’s kind of my comfort zone (at least when it comes to technique) and I always enjoy are really bright, blown out eyeshadow. I don’t hesitate when I’m about to blend out neon red eyeshadow to my temples! It’s super easy but so bold and fun. I also like detail work. So, I’ve been doing some less wearable looks lately, for example flower freckles and galaxy face paint! It requires some technique and a steady hand, more challenging looks are important to improving, of course. Yes, it may seem vain, but I do like looking “pretty”. Our society has impacted me, and most young girls, in a way that makes me feel the need to “fix” myself - that is just the sad truth. I got to live with it but I want to believe that I am part of the generation that will change the perception of beauty - whatever that actually is.

Tova's Instagram

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Sunday, 28 August 2016

Beauty Swap 101 | Part 1

I've literally been waiting to write this post for ages now. You see, a few months ago, my good friend Lily asked me if I would be interested in doing a beauty swap with her. I've seen tons of beauty swaps on various blogs, youtube videos and even in magazine articles, so when Lily asked me, of course I said yes! 

What Is A Beauty Swap?
For those of who you are unsure or don't know, a Beauty Swap is when you and someone else plan to purchase beauty products (and other items if you wish) for each other and post or ship it to the other person.
How To Do A Beauty Swap
The most important thing is communicating about everything. The most important thing is to set a budget - you don't want to not do that and spend 50 bucks on products while your partner spends only 10. When setting a budget, consider the following:

  • How much you're willing to spend on products
  • Shipping / Posting costs
  • Track & Trace (which is optional)

You can do the Beauty Swap one of two ways. The first is telling the other person exactly what you want. I would advise writing a list of suggestions of products you would like to have - this method is good for when you want something that is not available in your city/country. The second method is allowing the other person to surprise you with items that they think you'd like. This method is a bit more daunting as you don't know what you'll get, but I would recommend giving the other person samples of certain items. For example, give them the name of the current concealer you are using so they have a different concealer shade to compare it to if they wish to buy you a face product. Also tell them which products you like and don't like. For example, I don't like using blush, liquid liners and nail polishes, so Lily made sure not to purchase any of those.

The Process of The Swap
After you have decided on the budget, go shopping! You don't have to do this all at once, definitely take your time. Slowly start building a collection of items until they have reached the maximum you and your partner discussed.  Next, pack them in a parcel/box  and label them correctly. Be sure to get the proper address or P.O box of the person you're sending it to! If you are using Track & Trace,  take photos of the parcel before you send it! Take pictures of the contents, the slip you get from the post office with info on it such as price and weight, as well as photos of the actual parcel. This is good for in case it goes missing and the people who work at the post office will know exactly what they're looking for. 
When your partner receives the parcel, you can decide if you want to blog it, unbox it in a Youtube video or any other social media platform. This is popular amongst bloggers, but if you don't want to do that and just enjoy what you received, that's okay too!

What We Did
Lily and I decided to give each other suggestions on what we want as well as a few extra items, so we employed both methods. We also set a budget of 40 euros for products and an extra 22,50 euros for Track and Trace, so our budget was 62,50 euros total. We decided we only wanted beauty products and that they were going to all be either vegan or cruelty-free. 

For Future Reference...
If you would like to see what Lily got me and also what I bought for Lily, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for my next post which will feature all of the juicy details! Stay tuned and let me know if you'd ever participate in a beauty swap!

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Friday, 19 August 2016

A Love Letter To Summer

Three months passed in the blink of an eye. Perhaps it can be measured in the graduation caps my senior class threw into the air, the number of kilometres I flew home to South Africa, or the laughs I shared with friends I may never see again. Maybe it can be measured by the cups of coffees I had a day, the amount of people that slept over at my house, the boxes I packed before I moved out or the number of goodbyes I said before I left. Either way, this year summer was 3 months filled with adventure.
~ Photo taken by James Stewart ~

Some mornings I woke up and the sky was overcast, with the grass still damp outside from the night's rain. Mornings like these I spent lazing around in bed reading a book, or sitting on the kitchen counter drinking a cup of green tea with a towel wrapped around my hair after my long shower. Other times, the sun kissed me good morning through the little gap in my curtains. I'd then be out the door with a coffee in one hand and fruit in the other, on my way to meet up with friends.

My friends and I had limited time but nobody ever really mentioned it. We spent time together, each of us secretly stressing about the future. University, high school relationships, close friendships and where in the world we would be going crossed our minds. These thoughts began to pack themselves on top of each other, like bricks on our shoulders, until they eventually built a wall that separated us from discussing it. The thoughts, however, were quickly dismissed with a reassuring smile or an inside joke. 

The beach was a colossal getaway this summer. Staying in the Netherlands means lots of rainy days and overcast summers, so being home in South Africa and at the beach was wonderful. Yes, it was winter but the winter in South Africa can be warm and even comparable to Spring in the Netherlands. 

I absolutely love the beach; sun shimmering on the water like thousands of tiny diamonds, sand squished between my toes and stuck to the palms of my hands. I love just walking along the beach and seeing other people's footsteps and wondering where they were going and where they are now. I like the way the sun lightens my hair and how my skin tastes like saltwater after a long swim. The beach is great to get your mind off things; I enjoy lazing in the sun on a large picnic blanket and splitting oranges in quarters with friends. Some days, I watch the surfers catch waves. Other days, my friends and I participate in beach clean-ups or enjoy lunch close to the coast.

After I'm all sunned out, it's reluctant goodbyes and sleepy car rides home. It's sandy towels sprawled on the backseat of the car, warm bubble baths and scarfing down meals because I don't realize how hungry I am until I see the plate of food in front of me. Summer of 2016, especially, has taught me to be grateful for the things and people who are still in my life. It taught me to embrace the future - no matter how uncertain it seems or how scared I may be. This summer was unforgettable thanks to new friends, old favourites, family I hadn't seen in a long time and places I was fortunate enough to visit. Seven weeks of my summer were spent in the Netherlands and the remaining five weeks were spent home in South Africa, which you can read all about here

I hope you enjoyed this little rambling. Regular posts following schedules will be up again on Monday!

~ Miah ~ 

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Saturday, 13 August 2016

Road Tripping Through The Western Cape | Travel

This Summer, I visited South Africa. For many foreigners, South Africa is a holiday destination; gorgeous beaches, warm days throughout the year and amazing tourist attractions such as Table Mountain in Cape Town, Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn and lets not forget the African clichés such as safaris (aka the Kruger National Park in Johannesburg). For me, however, South Africa is more than what is just in your holiday brochure. It is my home.

I was incredibly excited about going back. There was a lot to look forward to; cuisine, the language, seeing family, visiting new places and meeting up with old friends. Despite not living in South Africa for the past three years, I have been extremely fortunate to have been able to visit as often as I have. For the first of the four weeks that I was in South Africa, my family and I stayed with my aunt before we headed to Robertson, where my grandparents stay. Robertson is known for their wines and roses but it is also the town in which I grew up in. We always stay with my grandparents for a bit when we visit. Their house is spacious, colourful inside and even more aesthetically pleasing if you forget that it's because of Dutch colonization back in the late 1700s.

After my stay with my grandparents, the road trip continued to my father's side of the family. This year was a special one as my gran was turning 70 and it was the first time in three years that my dad was home. We celebrated my gran's 70th birthday at the Surval Olive Boutique Estate in Oudtshoorn, where my father is from. 

The 70th birthday was a good time to reconnect with family and old family friends. The venue was beautiful too; seemingly in the middle of nowhere surrounded by lots of mountains and stretches of land. After the stay in Oudtshoorn, we packed the car, loaded up on petrol and headed to the coast - we were on our way to Knysna.

Despite often being described as a sleepy little beach town, Knysna is exceptionally vibrant. Here I stayed in a large house with both sides of the family. The first night we had dinner at a local seafood restaurant (RIP to me attempting to be vegan) and the second day was spent exploring. My favourite place to explore was Thesen's Island, pictured above. It's a wonderful lookout point and this photo does it absolutely no justice. It's perfect for hiking trails, a great place for an afternoon picnic or just for taking photographs.
While staying in Knysna, I came across lots of pop-up exhibitions, craft markets and locations for tarot readings. In the evenings, the family spent time together playing games such as 30 Seconds or Dominoes next to the fire. 

The next pitstop was further down the coast to Paternoster. In Paternoster, we stayed in a beautiful little chalet. I liked the accommodation best here, I think. The houses were built in a sort of semi-circle around the beach, creating a barrier between the sea and the mountains. They (the houses) were all white with a purple undertone and cobalt frames for the windows. In Paternoster, I saw my mom's side of the family. It was a huge family reunion, ages varying from 2 to 55 years old. Days were spent on the beach, lazing in bed and visiting local markets while nights were spent eating dinner together, catching up over glasses of wine or simply watching the rugby on television.

My family and I headed to Langebaan next.  Langebaan is very sentimental to me. I used to visit it in the December heat every year with my mom's side of the family. It was even more special getting to celebrate my birthday here because I haven't celebrated my birthday in South Africa for the past five years. Aside from shopping, we went to the casino, drove to a Steakhouse in the middle of nowhere (once again, RIP to me being vegan) and visited the beach again. 
Everything swung full circle and the next thing I knew, I was headed back to where this whole journey started: my beloved Cape Town. I was only there for a weekend but my goodness, did I make every second count. On Friday evening, I got to visit the Blue Bird Garage in Muizenberg with two friends from high school, Gemma and Nina (Nina actually wrote for my blog once, read her post here). It's such a stunning place. There are lots of tables in a hall and the tables are surrounded by food stalls. Candles propped in wine glasses next to an empty liquor bottle filled with flowers make up the table decor while fairy lights created a soft glow in the room. Jazz music played in the background which greatly contributed to the atmosphere. Saturday morning I had breakfast with my friends Megan and Chelsea and that afternoon I visited Kalk Bay with other friends, Ellie and Terri. 

Kalk Bay is the sort of place you go for inspiration. It is filled with clothing stores, record stores, ice-cream shops, art galleries, restaurants, eclectic cafés and interesting people. While in Kalk Bay, I had lunch at an urban café called Lekker and browsed through Antique stores. The following day, Sunday, was the day I left but before I did, I got to see my best friend since the second grade, Kate. We went to one of my all-time favourite restaurants, Mugg & Bean. Shortly after meeting up with Kate, I headed to Hout Bay, a local fishing area also in Cape Town, pictured above. The harbour was so beautiful to visit again, despite it being a very rainy day. I managed to capture this photo though, so I suppose it wasn't that bad. After a few more days of staying with my grandparents, I found myself at the boarding gate, headed back to Holland. This time, the goodbye was bittersweet, but it was a good end to an amazing holiday.

~ Miah ~

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Monday, 1 August 2016

Things To Do Before Summer Ends!

It's late July and that means Autumn is slowly creeping up on us. The sun's rays are dimming and the trees are littering the streets with leaves are either gorgeous shades of scarlet, deep orange hues or earthy brown tones. Before summer is completely over, however, I've compiled a list of 5 things to do!

Attend A Festival, Party or Parade
Summer festivals are pretty groovy! Search for one in your area, book tickets early so they're more affordable, dress up or dress down and go! Enjoy the freedom that summer brings, bask in the laughter and all of the memories made. Document your favourite parts of the event for keepsakes if you wish. (A great medium is a polaroid camera) 

Disconnect & Reconnect
The first tip is to take at least a day to just truly enjoy the company of people around you. Look around you when you're in public, smell the fresh air, actually have a proper real life discussion with the people around you. Not only will it give you a break from constantly refreshing your feed in hope something new pops up, but you'll catch up with what's going on in your friends and family's lives. Sometimes it's great to get away from the web. In a world where likes, followers, comments and photos seem to define is, it's good to get a little breath of fresh air and remind yourself of who you really are.

Go On An Outing
A picnic, coffee in the mall, an early breakfast, a late lunch, an evening hike, a morning fishing trip - whatever it is, just get out of the house. Some of us, myself included, scroll our days away and away. Organize a day with a friend or family member and make an outing of it. It doesn't need to be expensive or over the top, all you have to do is find something you'd both enjoy and go for a visit!

Try Something New
Explore a new place. Eat a new dish. Host a dinner party. Take a road trip. I bet there are so many experiences you've wanted to be apart of, so many things you want to try or do but are hesitant about for some reason. Do something you've always wanted to do but never got around to. You'll thank yourself because you can finally tick it off of your subconscious and you'll step out of your comfort zone!

Take A Day Off
If you really feel like taking some time to relax, do so. It is summer after all! There are a ton of things to do. You can DIY your own spa with face masks and body scrubs, go shopping or stay indoors and watch Netflix. I personally enjoy crossword puzzles or brain teasers. A good one is, where you receive a free daily puzzle game. You can choose from a small 9 piece puzzle to large ones with 225 jigsaw pieces! There are different themes such as nature, buildings and art. Users also get to create their own! 

I hope this gave you all a couple of ideas for what to do before Summer ends completely. Let me know what you'd like to see more of!

~ Miah ~

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FTC: This blog post was sponsored by JSPUZZLES