Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Imperfect Mascara

The perfect mascara does not exist. FACT. I feel I can confidently say this because I have tried numerous mascaras over the years. I couldn't be a beauty blogger and one of the main reasons (there are many) is because I tend to stick to the same products time and time again. Although, for a long time, the latest mascara was a product I continually stumped up the cash for. I was certain that my eyelashes could be transformed and I'd be left looking like a real life Disney Princess. This is yet to happen.

I have reasonable eyelashes, they're fairly long and straight but not very thick. If I buy a 'lengthening' mascara I end up looking like I've got strange spider legs stuck to my face - not a good look. There is one mascara product which I am willing to recommend, it is by no means perfect because perfect, in the mascara world, does not and will not exist*. However, that being said I think that Benefit's 'They're Real' Mascara is the best product out there and it seems to suit a wide range of lash types. It defines and curls and is easy to apply to both top and bottom lashes. I jumped on the band wagon as soon as this product hit the beauty counters and I've decided I'm not changing. I use this mascara every day and so long as Benefit keep making it, I will keep buying it. 
Benefit 'they're real' mascara
Phew, who knew I had so much to say about mascara?! Have you come across any rave-worthy mascara products?

Claire x

*I am willing to retract this statement if one day I apply a mascara and end up with aforementioned 'Disney Princess' eyes ;)

Monday, 26 January 2015

Top Six Artificial Plants

I love, love, LOVE the indoor plant trend that's been dominating the home accessories scene for the past couple of years. Our green leafy friends can instantly change the feel of a room. The plants themselves can be works of art and even more interest can be added with a beautiful pot or stand. What's not to like? 

My front room is fairly dark and this has lead to several unfortunate short-lived plant appearances. I can't bring myself to buy another living plant for this room, when I know it's most likely going to end up in my compost bin. There is an alternative and that's the growing market of artificial plants and flowers. I've pulled together six of my current favourites and they look pretty good to me:
Eucalyptus Bush - Abigail Ahern 

Lit Banyan Tree - Next

Faux Aubergine Succulents - Nordic House

Green Succulents - Dunelm Mill
Fig - Ikea
Mini Echeveria - John Lewis
Would you fake it with an artificial plant? Or do you find it easy to look after the real-deal?

Claire x

Monday, 19 January 2015

The Body Shop Beauty Buys

There are three faithful products that I buy from The Body Shop. No more, no less. They're products that have made it through any 'beauty overhauls' that I've carried out over the many years. (I've been using Body Shop since college, when a friend of mine signed up to be a party consultant and thus threw me the odd freebie here and there.) Sticking with particular products is pretty unusual nowadays, there's just so much choice - too much really! It got me thinking that these three products must be worth telling you about, so here we are.
Trusted trio
Lightening Touch 03 £14: 
I use this light defusing concealer under my eyes. It's the perfect low-priced version to rival YSL's Touche Eclat. It blends well and the tube lasts for a reasonable amount of time. What more could you ask for?

Loose Face Powder 02 £12.50:
Super soft and sheer, this powder is my go-to for setting my make up and ensuring a shine-free face. It doesn't last me all day but I do have a fairly oily t-zone and so it's something I have to top up if I want to look my best. The only problem with loose powder is that it's not really travel friendly, unless you want to risk a make-up bag which could end up looking more like a flour factory. If you know of a worthy compact powder then let me know, as it's something I've always struggled with finding. 

This toner is fresh feeling and doesn't leave my skin dry. I use this following a double cleanse and it helps pick up any remnants of make up left on my face. It's aimed at people facing the first signs of aging and I feel it fits with my current skin climate well. 

Do you have any products which you've remained faithful to over time? Does your make-up bag or bathroom cabinet boast any Body Shop items?

Claire x

Monday, 12 January 2015

Living Room Lift

I've been wanting to give my living room a little lift recently and one of the simplest ways to do this is by updating soft furnishings. Cue a pair of perfectly plumped cushions...

I was first introduced to Lisa Watson's designs through Home Is In The North, her traditional heirloom quilts are unique and beautifully handmade. They're an investment piece and would be an item I'd love to be in a position to buy in the future. Back in November I spotted her competition to win two of her Harris Tweed cushions, I jumped at the chance and quickly signed up to her mailing list. I'd actually forgotten that I'd entered the competition and so was very happy to find an email waiting for me last week saying that I'd only gone and won, and that two cushions would be winging their way to me. (I may have done a little fist pump at this point). 

I thought you'd like to see the charming pair of patchwork, Harris Tweed cushions in their new home. They compliment my other cushions and throws splendidly and have added that little zhush that I was looking for to keep me happy with this room through til Spring. 

Have you thought about adding statement cushions to update a room? 

Claire x

Friday, 9 January 2015

Beat The Blues

This week has been my first full week back at work since before Christmas and it has not been easy. January can be a tough one to get right so I think it's important to try and plan various fun things to do to help us glide through the month instead of struggle. 

Luna graduated from puppy class last year and we've got her first dog training class in the 'Novice' group on Wednesday. I'm a very proud Mum. Then at the weekend we're going to a restaurant we haven't been to before with friends. Simple pleasures!
A recent January sunset at Happy Little Places HQ
One of my favourite things to do with spare time is catch up on my favourite blogs. Here's a selection of inspiring blog links to get you going this January:

Natural light PHOTOGRAPHY tips from A Beautiful Mess.
An annual DECORATING report from Simply The Nest.
A delicious looking and healthy Shepherd's Pie RECIPE over at Stefanie Grace.
A beautifully calming BEDROOM before and after from Stylizimo

What plans have you made to beat the January blues? 

Claire x

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Home Goals

As well as sharing my general plans for 2015 here, I thought you might be interested to read my plans for our home this New Year. 
Our hallway when it's seen better days (and light!)
Decorate the bathroom: I've mentioned previously how I've been feeling the need to decorate our bathroom and hopefully this will be the year that we get round to it. I want to say goodbye to the current pastel yellow and hello to something crisp and clean. I've been gathering inspiration on Pinterest, if you'd like to take a look.

Touch-up the hallway: I love our hallway. From the dark grey carpet on the stairs, to the light fittings and the radiator covers to the art on the walls. I think it is a great welcome to our home and accurately sets the tone for the rest of our house. However, it's been looking a little bit sad due to wear and tear. I guess that's the trouble with high-traffic areas like hallways. If you're planning on decorating a hallway, then make sure you go for a tough, hard wearing paint. Lecture over ;)

Sand and repaint kitchen cabinets: Our kitchen cabinets are a country-esque cream colour but over time they've become discoloured and cracked in places. They need some TLC. I think we will be able to get away with sanding and repainting them but if not then we might have to look into replacing the doors altogether. This will be a spring/summer job because we will need to do the sanding outdoors. 

Repair kitchen sink: Our kitchen and utility room boast Belfast sinks and I think they look fabulous, but a disaster recently struck one of them. Unfortunately a mystery chip has appeared on the rim of the kitchen sink. I actually nearly fainted* when I spotted it. Thankfully, after a little research I found that there are DIY repair kits, so I shall be giving this a go in the near future. Fingers crossed!

Repaint the outside of the house: We live in a typical Victorian red brick terrace and it's stone masonry is painted an off-white colour. It needs a fresh lick of paint to get rid of flakes, marks and paw prints (thanks, Bella!). This is going to be another warmer weather job. 

Decorate the utility room: The utility room at the back of our kitchen will be the last stronghold of the dreaded pastel yellow. This room requires a very hard wearing paint, as it's the first room we enter after walking our puppy. She is quite often wet and/or muddy so the walls are constantly getting wiped down. I'm yet to feel inspired about how to approach decorating the space so expect lots of new pins on my Pinterest boards in the near future. 

Plant a herb garden: I've already planted some Mint (don't worry gardeners, it's in a container and so won't take over my whole garden) and when the frost stops I'll be adding some Rosemary, Basil and Thyme. The wall baskets are just outside our kitchen door and so will be the perfect spot for us to nip out to when cooking. 

Well, I think that's about everything. Other bits and bobs may creep onto this list over the coming year and we may end up deprioritising some of the above tasks depending on time and money. I'm excited to get stuck in and of course I'll be sharing updates as often as I can. 

What are your decorating plans for the New Year? How do you prioritise what to do first?

Claire x

*slight exaggeration

Monday, 5 January 2015


We've said our goodbyes to 2014 and it certainly wasn't an easy year to say goodbye to as there were plenty of ups and downs. Everyday my husband and I still feel the heartbreaking void left behind by our beloved Springer Spaniel, Zara. She was a huge part of our lives and to have her taken from us in such a traumatic way means that it will take us time to recover. Our new addition, little Luna the eight month old Springer-cross-Poodle puppy, has certainly helped and she brings a much needed ray of sunshine into our lives on a daily basis. I share more photos and glimpses into Happy Little Places HQ on Instagram (including puppy and kitty pictures) if you'd like to follow along.

I've never really made New Year's resolutions but here are a few things I'd like to try and do in 2015.
Mid-Christmas and New Year walk
Bake more: I used to bake semi-regularly and liked to try new recipes but this past year saw a noticeable lack of baking. I managed to make some mince pies in time for Christmas and a couple of banana breads here and there, but nothing new and nothing to write home about. If you have any uncomplicated and yummy recipes, please send them my way - remember I'm a baking novice ;)

Not worry so much about cleaning and tidying: I think it's perfectly normal to want your house to be as clean and tidy as possible. However, I apparently take this to another level and have genuine anxiety about maintaining a certain standard. Having pets has certainly helped me to understand that everywhere cannot be perfect all the time but I know I still have a way to go. Luna likes to pull all the stuffing out of her toys and generally create mess throughout the house. My husband would appreciate it if I managed to calm down the crazy cleaning lady in me. One solution that I have proposed is that we hire a cleaner, although I'm yet to win him over to this idea.

Invite people round for food more often: The meals don't have to be complicated or dinner party standard, just simple, tasty and good for sharing. Sitting round a table with family and friends is one of life's pleasures and is something we haven't done enough of this past year. Again, meal ideas are always welcome.

Move more, eat less sugar: I'm not one for diets and I'm certainly no gym bunny but I do eat fairly healthily and I get some exercise from walking aforementioned puppy. I know this is not enough and I hope to improve on this steadily throughout 2015. After Christmas and a whole month or more of overindulgence I need to step away from the chocolate bars and back towards the fruit bowl. 

What do you plan on doing in 2015? Have you set yourself goals? If you have any tips on achieving and maintaining any of the above, please get in touch through the comments below or through Twitter @happylilplaces.

Claire x

Friday, 2 January 2015


I thought I'd quickly share a little selection of the gratefully received gifts that I found under my Christmas tree this year:

'it' by Alexa Chung so that I can channel my inner cool-girl, plus its dusky pink cover looks great on my bedside table; x2 little glass jars with birdie toppers which are super cute and will no doubt continue to pop up in my future #shelfies; the Remington Keratin Therapy Pro Dryer so I can at least try to get a little closer to the perfect blow out; Sigma Beauty Tapered Blending Brush E40 which will help me cover the dark circles as I recover from a season of overindulgence; a snuggly mink-coloured dressing gown to keep me warm through the winter nights; ESPA Body Lotion and Body Wash in a heavenly scent of Lemon, Ylang Ylang and Crushed Tonka Beans; and a galleried mirror tray to perfectly display my perfume collection. 

Huge thanks to my friends and family for my beautiful gifts :)
What lovely things did you discover in your stocking? 

Claire x

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Hello, 2015

Happy New Year!
How exciting to have a whole new year ahead of us?! I still can't quite believe that 2014 is a thing of the past but that doesn't mean I'm not ready for the future challenges, directions and joys of 2015. I say, bring it on!

I'll see you soon with some more interiors and lifestyle-type posts, once the champagne bubbles have left my system ;-)

Claire x
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