Alphabet

I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to the wonderful world of instagram for introducing me to the concept of alphabet dating. As a hopeless romantic, I love the idea of spending time planning and enjoying, new and exciting dates for my boyfriend, Ali, and I to enjoy throughout the year. There are no ‘rules’ for how alphabet dating should work, it’s a perfectly flexible way of reintroducing the magic of spending uninterrupted time with your loved one back into your relationship.

We have agreed to carve out time every fortnight for an alphabet date, not only so ‘Z’ falls on Christmas Eve, but because it seemed realistic for us when juggling busy careers, professional qualifications, hobbies etc. The beauty is, there’s no right or wrong way to do this, you can work your way through the dates as quickly or as slowly as you’d like.

In a pledge to up the ante, each of our dates will include something that’s completely new to us both; it can be a new restaurant, a new band, a new place to visit – literally anything! We’re going to take it in turns to plan and pay for the dates, although again, you can do whatever works best for you.

I’m going to blog about our experience and I’m excited to think of what we’ll discover along the way. I’ll share what we got up to on each date and I’m planning to include some alternative suggestions you may wish to try if you’re thinking of giving this a go too. Our ‘A’ date was last weekend so a post about that will follow shortly – I’m restraining myself from sharing it now!

If you’re alphabet dating, would like to, or have finished all 26 dates, I’d love to read your thoughts and suggestions below. 🙂 Happy Dating!

Sincerely, Sarah x

Simply put, I love a good quote and it got me to thinking, what better time than January for a ‘Top 10’ post for the year ahead. I don’t quite buy into the ‘New Year, New Me’ rubbish that floods instagram and twitter but I am all for some words of positive wisdom to help us all get excited for everything this year could offer. In no particular order, here goes…

  1. “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”  – C.S. Lewis 
  2. “Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before” – Dalai Lama 
  3. “There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.” – Zora Neale Hurston
  4. “And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been.” – Rainer Maria Rilke 
  5. “Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  6. “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one” – Brad Paisley (Obviously I’m a tad late with this one but the I really like the sentiment of the quote)
  7. “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right” – Oprah 
  8. “Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account” – Oscar Wilde 
  9. “For last year’s words belong to last years language and next year’s words await another voice.” – T.S. Eliot 
  10. “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Elliot 

If I’ve missed any of your favourite new year quotes, please share in the comments below 🙂 I hope you all have a fantastic year full of health, love and happiness.

Sincerely, Sarah x

Let me start this review with a bit of context… I had been hunting for a good primer for a while and when I say ‘hunt’, I mean scouring the beauty blogs, reading product reviews and exploring pinterest incessantly. After all of my efforts, I had a list as long as my arm of potential products and no front runner. All I wanted was something to make my foundation last longer – what’s so hard about that?!

During a mad rush around Boots on new years eve, I stopped by the Benefit counter for a little nose and picked up the ‘That Gal’ brightening face primer and the ‘Stay Flawless 15 hour’ primer. Now, I know I said that I wanted my make up to last longer so the latter should have been the obvious choice (clue’s in the product name) but the promise of brighter looking skin as well as longer lasting make up had me intrigued and I couldn’t resist.

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Official Product Description: Benefit’s ‘That Gal’ primer promises to take your complexion from dull to darling by creating brighter, smoother skin. Benefit recommend using this under your foundation and say you can dab a bit on top of your make up for a midday refresh too.


Things I loved: 
Quite simply, the product delivers on its promise and that’s good enough for me. I have been using ‘That Gal’ as a step before applying my foundation and the immediate brightening effect is fab. The product is light, sits nicely on the skin and doesn’t feel cakey in the slightest – I’d actually say it feels rather silky.

Great for dry and dull complexions, ‘That Gal’ is the product equivalent of tonnes of water and a weeks worth of sleep for your skin. I’m hooked.

I’ve been using the product for nights out, long work days and those minimal make up days and can see the benefit (pardon the pun) for all occasions. For those ‘low-key’ days, just opt for ‘That Gal’, a pinky blush and some light mascara and you’re all set with a healthy but naturally pretty look.

Things I really loved: Even if you’re not convinced this is the product for you, I defy you to stop at a Benefit counter, smell this product and not want to buy it. I can’t tell you how much I adore the smell of this. Boasting sinfully sweet tones of raspberry and chamomile, the scent of ‘That Gal’ is just one more quality to add to the already long list of positives.

Things I didn’t love: I’m not at the end of the product yet so I’m speculating slightly but I don’t think this will last as long as I’d like for the price I paid. The other potential niggle I have is because of the twisty applicator; this isn’t a product that allows for digging around in the corners for those last dregs and drops, which means we’ll never truly know how much is left when the applicator finally holds its hands up and says “I’m done” – hmmm.

Here are two pictures of me wearing ‘That Gal’. The first picture is after a 10 hour day and my make up hasn’t moved AT ALL and the second is me ready to go out for girls drinks with a heavier liner and stronger blush. I really like the finish it gives to my foundation and the glow after a full day, still amazes me:
thatgal blog pics Purchasing options: £22.50 for the full size bottle (1 mL 0.37 US fl. oz.) or purchase as part of the ‘Do the Bright Thing’ set, £26.50 including a 7.5ml ‘That Gal’ primer.

Overall I’m really really happy with this purchase and kind of surprised I didn’t stumble upon this sooner. The jury is still out on the longevity of the product itself but everything else about this, I absolutely love. This is such a great ‘fake it’ product for those of us who don’t always feel like our brightest selves 24/7.

Have you tried ‘That Gal’? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Sincerely, Sarah x

In typical ‘Sincerely Sarah’ fashion, it seems only appropriate to post my Christmas challenge recap 6 days into the new year… I promise I will get the hang of this blogging malarky eventually!

At the end of November I decided to see what all the daily social media posting was all about by joining in the instagram tradition of posting a picture a day (#picoftheday). From a bit of casual stalking, it turned out that the flexibility of #picoftheday seemed rather doable for a busy Londoner and surprise, surprise, I actually stuck to the posting schedule, at times getting really into it with 2+ posts a day. Shocker, huh?

Going into my #picoftheday pledge, I was adamant I would avoid having a library of highly filtered, pouty selfies to look through on Boxing Day. Ultimately I saw this as a bit of fun and simply a way of documenting my life for one of the best months of the year.

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Looking back, I’m pleased to say I’ve ended up with a pretty decent catalogue of my 2015 Christmas celebrations from Welsh cakes to Disney Christmas trees, Coca Cola bows to Harry Potter books and everything in between.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my December #picoftheday collection and if I haven’t put you off you can follow me on instagram here (sarahodonnell1). Let me know what you think of the post and images in the comments section below.

Sincerely, Sarah. x

Between the cooking, the shopping, the decorating, the cleaning and the social pressure to enjoy every minute of the season, its hardly surprising that Christmas often brings a slight but very real sense of dread for many.

In an attempt to make this Christmas a celebration like no other, I’ve made a few big changes to the way I approach the holiday and have been tried out the role of an uber-prepared, financially savvy Christmas enthusiast. My aim – a totally planned out Christmas before December 1st.

Before you start, I know there is something to be said for a mad Oxford Street rush on Christmas Eve but this year, by following the steps below, I have the luxury of looking forward to everything December brings. I even have money left over to enjoy it properly! Sounds nice huh?

Here is how you can achieve the same thing…

  • Identify your responsibilities – A natural place to start, sit down and compile a list of everything you need to do before the big day – this will become the list of all lists, and there will be more lists, trust me.  Make sure you write down everything, regardless of how small a task may seem and don’t panic if this becomes a rather intimidating collection of things to do, it’s a great way to focus your attention.
  • BUDGET – Christmas has the potential of completely breaking the bank, which is why this step is so vital. Set a total budget for presents and work backwards setting a limit per person you want to buy for. Don’t get me wrong, the thought behind a gift is far more important than how much you spend, but it’s all too easy to go a little OTT and come January be surrounded by a bunch of receipts and a serious cash shortage. Budget, budget and then budget some more.
  • Stick to your budget – Perhaps this one is a tad obvious too but there’s little point in going to the hassle of working out your numbers only to blow it with one mighty trip to Westfield. A simple spreadsheet updated after each shopping trip does the job.
  • Gather your intel – The rise of social media means an over-reliance on the ease of instant access to your friends and distant relatives. This isn’t all bad but when it comes to writing Christmas cards, good luck collating everybody’s addresses. Create a spreadsheet (yes, another one!) with the names of your nearest and dearest and their  addresses. You’ll thank yourself next year for this one too.
  • Shop around – I’m normally a rather impulse shopper but part of this new found Christmas persona means embracing the effort required to shop around for the best deals and discounts. You can save a fortune without compromising on the quality of your purchases. By starting so early, you can make the most of the sales too – double win.

Right, I’ll stop there for now but hopefully you find these tips helpful in saving both pennies and stress.  Comments are welcome below…

Sincerely Sarah x