‘Who’s Your Dress By Olivia…?’

A beautiful woman wearing an autumn dress made out of leaves.
I’m wearing autumn’…

The Photo blog…

Beautiful woman wearing dress made out of Autumn leaves
The Autumn Inspired Leaf Dress By Olivia Christina

What. is. it. about ‘The Fall‘… as our American friends would call it. How does this stunningly beautiful season even happen – each and every year?

The miraculous changes – the crispy clean air… the colours that quite simply come out of nowhere? It’s as though it’s Earth’s way of saying… yes, I’m sorry darlings – summer is over, but I’m going to make it up to you – with the most unparalleled, spectacular beauty… you will ever see. Let me stimulate every sense in your body. Let me inspire YOU.

A woman walking in stunning colourful Autumn leaves and trees with toddler
Autumn communicating with me ; )

Autumn talks to me – it quite literally absorbs me. And each year I’ve realised, that I become more and more… in. love. with. it. In love with the beauty it brings; and in some ways – a little bit like a teenage crush… infatuated with the way that it makes me feel. It’s short lived of course, but in the few weeks that it’s there… I’m inspired, I’m engaged – and I keep going back!

As always, we’d been out for a nice family walk… enjoying the stunning scenery that Oxfordshire has to offer. We had stopped by a beautiful woodsy place in the Cotswolds; when my little one began kicking colourful leaves around. I was suddenly completely captivated – literally in a trance… just absorbed by the different colours swirling around on the ground. I actually began pivoting around – doing slow-motion 360’s… taking mental photographs of every single detail in my surroundings. It was in that very moment, that I developed this burning desire… to create something, with what I was observing around me.

Family having a day out an Autumn walk in Oxfordshire surrounded by beautiful colourful leaves.
Autumn in Oxfordshire United Kingdom : )

So, it’s no joke – the very next day, I actually gathered up my little tot and ‘the old man‘… and we went leaf-picking – in the beautiful landscapes of Oxfordshire. The first day gathering leaves… was wet. Very wet and windy… so of course, it didn’t quite go to plan! By day two however, we had managed to collect an enormous assortment of all things Autumnhonestly… a bag of sheer beauty. A bag of colourful rays of sunshine – a bag depicting nothing but optimism and joy. At this point, it was like a surge of positive energy, was charging through my veins. I quite literally wanted to wear this feeling…and feel it all over my body.

And this is the moment I announced… ‘I’m going to create an Autumn dress – a dress of nature in its rawest most beautiful form’.

Creating an Autumn inspired leaf dress
Almost there…

Autumn to me, is one heck of a meaningful and powerful season. It is – the season to create… and the season to. let. go. By this I mean – to let go of any negative energy, that may be festering inside of us – to release it. Whatever that negativity may feel like, to you or to me; similarly to the autumn leaves – it is the time to let our colours stand out. It’s the time to grow through our emotions… and to nourish our souls, with the creative vibrations of this season. And, as the Autumn leaves fall – we learn to let go of the things we cannot change or control.

The Autumn air fills with beauty and wisdom – diversity at its greatest… the ultimate contrast of colour and shape. This exquisite season reminds us, that nothing is forever – both the good and the bad. It reminds us to connect with Earth and our truest selves.

My dress is the ultimate expression of me – ‘the introverted extrovert’ if you will. The ‘Fall Dress’ – encompassing the beauty of nature – elegance in the raw… connecting with Earth and suturing my roots – for once and for all. I’m in LOVE with The Fall.

Be kind to yourselves and the environment. Be compassionate towards others – and get creative : ). Also… do subscribe for more from Beauty & The Mum ; p

A woman wearing Mother Nature's dress - a dress made out of elegant Autumn leaves
Autumn Project… Complete – released on Halloween – rather in-keeping really ; )

With love and warm wishes,

Olivia …

or Fly ; )

DIY Autumn-Inspired Gel Nails – Testing The Affordable Brand… ‘Beetles’

Girl dancing wearing October autumn gel nails manicure
Mylee LED nail lamp and Beetles gel nail polish in autumn inspired colours
Mylee PRO LED nail lamp & Beetles Autumnal nail Gels

I’m completely new, to this whole gel nail thingy! Honestly… prettying up nails in this way, was so alien to me… you wouldn’t actually believe. It was only when, two of my colleagues… yes two – were sporting these brightly coloured – perfectly manicured nails, that I was introduced to the world of colourful gels!

After watching these guys waltz into the office – showcasing, such beautiful results, time-and-time again… and listening to how amazing this gel stuff was… I was now somehow indoctrinated enough, to be be convinced that this was the next thing I must do! Lord knows how they managed to sway me, because I’m not usually convinced by these kinds of things… but they succeeded – I succumbed and decided to give it a go… on a budget that is!

So, you see, these ladies always go to a professional to have their nails done… likely hence their tremendous results each time. But, you know… me being mea bit of a tom boy at heart… I decided that I’d probably only ruin them, since I’m so careless with my hands – and that it would work out cheaper, if I just bought the necessary equipment… and did it myself! Honestly… to me, the thought of spending forty-odd quid, to get my nails re-done – each time I messed them up… just wasn’t going to happen!

So, I set a budget and purchased all of the necessary paraphernalia – the LED lamp, the preparation lotions, potions and tools… and of course – the gels. I found that the LED lamps on offer were surprisingly cheap… as were the lotions and tools. I initially purchased the Bella Nails budget lamp, costing only £12.99 from Amazon… and eventually upgraded to the Mylee PRO LED lamp (as seen in photo above), costing somewhere in the region of £35.00. But the gels on the other hand… well… these were a whole different story!

Bella Nails LED nail lamp for gel nails – purchased for only £12.99 on Amazon UK

So, probably like tonnes of other ladies, I suddenly found myself in a bit of a predicament. I knew that I wanted to do these gel nail thingys from time-to-time… and I now had all of the essential equipment to do them. But… and there’s a big but – I was now left having to purchase…. erm – the gel stuff. And… it wasn’t so cheap.

In light of this, I began researching gel nail polish… hoping to sniff out the ideal pocket friendly ones. I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised, that it was the extortionately priced brands, that seemed to pop up at the top of google results each time!

So, to cut a long story short, I began weighing up the pros and the cons of expensive versus cheap gel… and how much the staying power of the polish really mattered to me. It didn’t take me long, to come to the conclusion… that I was indeed a novice; and I therefore – should perhaps practise with cheaper gels first ! So, I had a good look around… and I eventually settled, on one of the better selling cheaper brands – also available on Amazon… – – – this was the Beetles Gel polish – in a pack of six.

Beetles budget gel nail polish available on Amazon for autumn inspired gel nails.
Beetles Autumn Gel Nail Polish – one of these red looking ones is bright orange believe it or not…

Okay, so first of all – I will share my findings… quick, sharp and to the point; and once that’s done and dusted, I will share the tips and tricks – that I’ve found to be essential, when attempting to make a cheaper gel work… which it actually can – with a little patients that is : )

Girl with beautiful October Gel inspired gel nails manicure
Okay, let’s do it…
  • Okay, so the pigment

This was the bizarre part for me. I had a box of six different colours… and I noticed that some of the shades worked beautifully – requiring barely two coats… but then other shades, were unfortunately still a little transparent after the second layer. The shades, such as… the green, orange and burgundy… were great after two coats. The yellow and one of the purples however, did require a third layer. **Just note… that the colour samples on top of these bottles are not very accurate for the orange and burgundy… well – completely off to be fair! They’re all rather pretty autumnal colours though.

  • Pull/capping

Something I noticed when comparing these to my Blue-sky gels, is that that these produce some pulling at the tips of the nails once painted. Meaning that they sometimes magically… kind of elastically, shrink away from the tips of your nails before your eyes! Again, this surprisingly only seemed to happen with a few of the colours. Fear not – we will later discuss how to fix this issue ; )

  • The Scent

These gels had a rather chemically strong kind of scent… but certainly not dissimilar to any other gel. In fact – almost an identical smell to my blue-sky polishes.

  • Setting

The Beetle gel set like any other gel under an LED lamp – in sets of thirty and sixty seconds. I noticed that certain shades set smoother than others – my theory is that this must be down to the different formulas and consistencies of each unique colour. I’ve found that some shades work beautifully… some don’t.

  • Mixing with other brands

I did actually buy the Blue-sky base and ‘no wipe’ top coat… as recommended by a friend. I found that the Beetles gels worked really well with the Blue-sky bases and tops – bonus.

  • Longevity

Okay, so in all honesty – if you’re seeking something that should last you the whole month through – then these gels probably won’t be satisfactory to you. If you’re okay with something that will last anything from around 7 to 14 days though – depending on how you care for them; or, if you’re simply looking for gels to practise with – then these might well be worth a try. I’m still a tad shoddy at applying this stuff, so I’m happy enough with this for now ;P

Girl holding Beetles Gel nail polish led lamp autumn manicure

Okay, so a few quick tips and tricks for preparing and applying these gels

  • No. 1 – thoroughly clean your nails

The important thing to remember, before applying any gel polish, is that if your nails aren’t completely oil free and clean – the gels will not set as well, or last to their full potential. You don’t need all the fancy cleansers (of course please do if you so wish), but to be honest – I usually just grab some baby shampoo and a nail brush – and cleanse my hands this way.

  • No. 2 – use a cuticle remover lotion and shape, shape… shape!

Okay, so this one is gold… and not expensive. I absolutely swear by the Sally Hansen – Instant Cuticle Remover, priced around about £5.99 – available in boots, Amazon… Superdrug – wherever. You simply squeeze it onto your cuticles; and after fifteen seconds or so – work it in and push your cuticles back with a cuticle stick. The aim is, to wash the solution off after around a minute… as it can be a tad harsh if left on for too long. A product like this, will basically ensure, that there’s nothing sharp for your gel to cling to – and the over all appearance will be more chic. Just be sure to thoroughly dry your nails after this part.

Girl holding Sally Hansen gel nails cuticle remover to do gel manicure
Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover…
  • No. 3 – shape your nails

This one goes without saying really – but be sure to shape and smooth your nails with a file. Ensure that they’re the desired length and shape before paining. Level out any bumpy bits on the nail plate.

  • No. 4 – Base coat

The next step, i’ve been told is essential… so I just do it – it’s the base-coat. It’s meant to improve the longevity of the gel, and boost the over all finish. Unfortunately, I can’t really comment too much on the overall effectiveness of the base, as i’ve never actually done it withoutbut I’m told that it’s well worth doing! make sure you cure it for thirty seconds upon application.

  • No. 5 – first layer of gel

Okay, so for the most exciting part – swiping on your favourite colour and seeing how it turns out! As mentioned above – the first layer is the one that you will want to pay the most attention to – if you want to make these budget gels work.

So, as soon as you swipe on your very first nail… you want to ‘cap’ the nail end – or free edge as the professionals call it – straight away. This basically means to just seal the edge with a little gel – to help prevent the gel from shirking back up the nail – and to also help keep the edges chip-free once set. I can’t stress this one enough – especially for cheaper gels, as it will be the difference between the gel setting nicely – or the edges looking incomplete.

It may be also worth mentioning, that you don’t need to push your paint, right up to the nail edges. What i’ve learnt, is that you’re actually far better off… with a tiny space – to help avoid the gel catching on the skin and then lifting off easily. If it sets on your skin – you will certainly have lift-off!!

  • No. 6 – cure with an LED lamp

For the first layer – it’s perfectly fine to cure the gel for thirty seconds… although I personally tend to do it for around 45 seconds – just to be on the safe side!

  • No. 7 – second layer of gel and cure

Swipe on your second coat of coloured gel – no need to cap any edges for this layer. Once you’re happy each nail is on neatly enough – cure again for between thirty and sixty seconds. I personally like to cure the second layer for about 45 seconds.

  • No. 8 – assess the opacity

Okay, so you’ve nearly finished. But, before slapping on that beautiful glossy top coat… you will need to firstly assess your nails, and decide whether or not you would like a third layer. As i’ve found… you may also find that some colours do need a third layer – and others are already completely opaque by round-two. If they do require a third coat – simply repeat the process again.

  • No. 9 – top coat

To be honest, I would always choose the wipe free top coats – it’s just a personal preference – nothing more. I just find that they provide an instantly impressive finish – without having to scrub away any stickiness! You can usually apply your top coat quite sparingly, as i’ve found that a little tends to go a long way. For this part, I would always cure for the full sixty-seconds, as it just seems to ensure that everything stays put.

And that’s it congratulations… you can now admire your work :p #Autumn ready ; )

Woman sitting down wearing yellow floral dress and autumn inspired colourful gel nails manicure

So would I re-purchase these gels?

So, in all… after trying Beetles gels a handful of times now – I think my overall opinion of them, is that they’re lots of fun to experiment with; and they’ve certainly helped me to grasp the different techniques for the application of gels. I think that some of the colours are absolutely stunning – especially the purple and orange shades… however, for the purple – I do usually need to apply three coats. For me, when I wear gloves when I’m washing up and take care of them – I can get between 12-14 days out of them. If I’m going about my day without much care (the most likely scenario for me), then they will last me on average 7-8 days.

So, these gels certainly don’t last as long as getting them done professionally – which is around 4 weeks. But, they do provide a quick solution… for getting beautiful looking nails for any occasion… when you just can’t be bothered with all the worry of smudging them. They’re also great for practising with 😉

I would say, that I would purchase these gels again – purely to add additional colours to my collection, or for a quick cheap fix – when craving a different colour. If it was majorly important to me, that they lasted – then I would definitely look into the more expensive alternatives.

As you can see under the light, the purple is a tad more transparent than the rest! **Note, that the colours here are appearing brighter than they actually are. The previous pictures provide a more accurate idea of the different shades. Hope you enjoy experimenting with your gels – whichever ones you decide to try : )

You’ve Got To Make Your Bed

Mummy and toddler lying on the bed
A Little Motivation Please…

The Saturday before last, felt it was deemed to be a wasteful day for me. I could just feel it coming. I had all the best intentions, for my sacred time-off at the weekend, but for some reason I just woke up that Saturday morning, feeling sluggish and de-motivated. My plans to get the hoovering done and the garage organised first thing… basically went down the toilet. I was slow that morning – at best… and the more sluggish and slow that I was – the more guilty and dissatisfied with myself I became.

So, what did I do next ? Well, I had a little word with myself – and I then went upstairs… and I made my bed… nothing more. For something that sounds to be, such a simple and mundane task… for me – it completely salvaged the rest of my Saturday. And – here’s why…

Making my bed almost – first-thing that morning; meant that I had accomplished, the very-first task of my day… after fixing breakfast for my son that is. It meant that I had to move my body – instead of just flopping on the sofa. It also meant, that I had to pick the cushions up off the floor… and decide on how to make the room look aesthetically pleasing again.

I repeat, as mundane as it may sound – this one simple task, taking less than five minutes of my time – ended up being, the ultimate gateway… to the meaningful and productive day that would follow. It got me up and movingwhich is always a good start, it then got me thinking creativelyawakening my mind; and most importantly – I could feel the endorphins being released… as I began to acquire a small sense of achievement and pride.

As I admired, my immaculately made up bed – my energy levels began to increase leaps and bounds. The uncomplicated task – of making my bed, had spurred me on… to crack on with my household tasks... and before I knew it not only had I got myself ready to go out, I had also – hoovered the house, put the washing on… and cleared some of the junk out of the garage… all by 11am!

You see, making your bed in the morning, I feel – is what separates us, from the ‘teenager’ that once was – to the adult who now is. And as drastic as it may sound… bare with me on this; but, an un-made bed to me – would be the perfect portrayal, of a juvenile mind. It would be the representation, of a person who is struggling to master the smaller things in life. A-fully-made-bed on the other hand… represents a matured individual the adult who has learnt to master the smaller things; and who is therefore equipped to handle the larger things to come.

I should probably say – that I’m certainly not suggesting that you’re a child… if you do happen to leave your bed unmade – we all do it from time-to-time ; ). But what I am saying, is that it’s the smaller details in life that really matter… and that are unfortunately – often overlooked. If you’re reading this post… and you do happen to be feeling a bit sluggish or just generally down then I have a special request for y o u. As soon as you put-down your phonego and make your bed my friend… if you haven’t already that is!

Because, you may just find, that your beautifully made-up cosy-pit… provides you with just enough incentive – to get everything done that you need to do today : ).

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on all things motivation… so please leave a comment down below and subscribe to – Beauty and the Mum =)

With warm wishes as always,

Fly on the wall

AKA – Olivia