Thursday, 31 March 2011

Low budget stippling brushes: E.L.F. vs Inglot

Stipple brushes: E.L.F. and Inglot on 1cm x 1cm grid

Left: Inglot, right: E.L.F.

Today I want to compare two stippling brushes: Inglot and E.L.F.  While both can be classified as cheap dupes for MAC brushes, their price differs substantially, E.L.F. retails for £3.50 and Inglot for around £11. When I received my E.L.F. brush I was highly disappointed at first. This often happens when you order online without having a chance to actually see and touch the product. I had read a number of enthusiastic reviews and watched some presentations on YouTube describing it as a perfect foundation brush as well as useful for highly pigmented blush (to use it sparsely).  The brush turned out to be useless in both cases. The bristles, described by the reviewers as incredibly soft, are not dense enough to pick enough liquid and far too whimsy blend. With pressed powder it didn't work at all, the bristles are made of smooth, glossy, sort of waxy fibre which simply doesn't pick powders at all (of course this is not the use of the brush, silly me to have believed such nonsense). I hope you can see what I mean in the pictures.

E.L.F. : the bristles are soft and glossy

Inglot: the bristles are clearly made of two different fibres

So, desperate to find a decent stippling brush, I went to my local Inglot store to try theirs. And I must say this was a hit. This is a real duo fibre brush with long and sparse white bristles meant to apply a tiny amount of the product and quite harsh and sturdy black fibres which are supposed to hold the white ones upright while stippling or blending. E.L.F. consists of bristles of different colour and length but the texture is the same. Inglot is three times more expensive than E.L.F. , but it does the trick. I think you still may call it an affordable brush, a similar MAC brush would cost around £30
E.L.F. and NARS Amour

You really need to swirl heavily to pick the right amount of product 

This is by no means a critical review of the  E.L.F. brush. It is an irreplaceable tool when applying cream blush, eg. MAC Cremeblend. With a product of harder consistency than liquid foundation it works wonders. The sparse bristles prevent me from looking like a clown and blend the product really well. Also the size of the brush matches the size of the pan perfectly.

E.L.F. and MAC Cremeblend Blush in Something Special

Yes, a prefect match!

So all in all both brushes are really good quality, none of them sheds or loses shape after washing, the handles are comfortable, their length adequate. They are simply meant for different uses.

Disclaimer: I bought the products myself for my personal use and I am not affiliated with any company. I am not paid to do this review and everything I said here is my genuine opinion.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at Old Vic Tunnels (London 10.03.2011)

photo: Anka Dolewa

My love for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros is something I don't understand. I've never been a fan of American music, not to mention American folk, indie folk, country and western (whatever you choose to label them them), never fancied bearded guys in checked shirts, never liked Jade-like ladies jumping on stage, and I found the sound of trumpet highly irritable but ever since the day when browsing the Internet I stumbled upon their Rough Trade in-store performance I've been mesmerized by the magnetic power of the Zeros. For over a year I've kept their CD in my car radio and listened to it every day never ever getting bored. I guess this says something...

So the magnetic power of the Zeros dragged us (me, my husband and our friend) all the way from Gdansk to London to experience one of the most magic nights in our lives. The evening actually started badly for us because the See Tickets agent did not deliver our tickets to the ladies at the gate, who did their best to sort out the mess and in the end we were let in, but were late for the performances which opened the show. Fortunately we were able to see some of the acts all of which fitted the old, chilly, misty (musty?) railway tunnels perfectly, introducing us to the country and western theme of the night. I must admit that the wait for the gig to begin was a bit too long, especially for somebody who got up at 3 am, but finally we all gathered in front of the stage and were greeted by the supporting artist Rocco DeLuca, who provided an excellent warm up. Then another long wait, this time squeezed among I guess all the Americans that live in UK. Suddenly, a chant started at the back of the hall,  um-pa-um-pa paparapapa, I thought it was the fans getting impatient when I heard them getting closer, turned around and saw Alex and the whole bunch of those wonderful nuts just behind our backs trying to make their way towards the stage. Once on stage they reached for their instruments and microphones and the whole madness of Jangling Song began with everyone jumping and singing. And the atmosphere stayed like this until the very end. They played mostly the songs everyone was familiar with, but in new, improvised versions, sometimes combining two songs into one, with Alex's monologues replacing the album lyrics, but also they introduced us to some new material and let the piano player Aaron sing a song for us (he is such a likeable guy, with his infectious smile). "Home", saved till the very end, made a great finale of the whole show with fans being asked to literally participate in the event by sharing their stories and emotions. This certainly was a night of magic. Throughout the whole gig we could see how happy these guys were to play music, how close they are together and how much they wanted us, their fans, to join in this simple joy. Rare thing in this world.

photo: Anka Dolewa

But this was not the end. We sadly left Old Vic Tunnels only to be met by the band giving the most outstanding, most touching, most real open air music performance I've seen in my life. With no microphones and amplifiers they made their songs float along the railway tunnel. Like some religious sect surrounded by their followers clapping and singing. Oh brother... you made me cry.
The very moment the performance was over we felt we needed to see them again. I've noticed they are planning a European tour this summer, and actually playing in Sweden (a stone's throw across the sea). Tempting, but I feel that during an open air festival a large portion of intimacy is lost. Who knows, perhaps they will return to Old Vic? They seemed to like the place as well.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

London (10-11.03)

This is what you call a room with a view
As I was drawing close to the heart of London on EasyBus from Luton airport I felt tears welling up in my eyes and try as I might I could not force them to stop. Ever since my first visit in 1993 I felt this was my place on earth and this time I felt it even more strongly especially that pregnancy and raising my second son successfully prevented me from going there for two long and difficult years. I greedily watched well dressed women in court shoes hurrying to work, children in uniforms being driven to schools, plastic cups of starbucks coffee being carried down the underground tunnels, cars going through a maze of narrow streets, joggers, shop windows, prams, handbags, shoes, faces of all nations... trying to soak in all these images and make them stay in my head. I should have moved there years ago, but ill understood loyalty towards my family who became so distant these days, friends I rarely see, boyfriends I no longer date kept me stuck in my place. Now it's too late.
Off at Victoria Station we (my hubby, our friend Anka and I ) hurried into the station pub (Wetherspoon's) for some English breakfast and a pint of ale. The breakfast itself was highly disappointing, all reheated including microwaved scrambled eggs instead of a fried one, but after all it WAS an English breakfast. And thus our 2-day pub crawl began. We visited a number of pubs in Earls Court, City and Waterloo areas where we sampled all ales and ciders which were unfamiliar to us, had dinner (fish and chips) in Knight's Templar pub, where our friend Kasia joined us. This pub had the most elegant and the largest toilets I've seen in the UK, well, the area is obliging. Then we moved towards Brick Lane to feast on Bangla sweets, which me and my husband are particularly fond of. I was starting to feel a bit tired, well I don't normally get up at 3 am and start drinking at 9, but when the cat's away.... oh, hold on, I'M supposed to be the cat, I guess I'll never get used to being a mother. Around 6 we started heading towards Waterloo for the event of the day and the reason for our being in London- to see Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros live at the Old Vic Tunnels (this gig will require a separate review). When we finally left the tunnels in search of some transport that would carry us back to our microscopic room in an Earl's Court hotel it was past midnight. The night was amazing we felt drugged on music, people's positive attidude, joy everywhere around, and the sound of chanting in the tunnels... oh brother... Back to our hotel Kuba drank his final drink of the day - Pimms lemonade and we closed the day.

Lebanese breakfast
 Next morning (my birthday) we were reminded of our previous day doings by a terrible hangover but Anadin Extra did the trick. By the way in Poland the mixture of paracetamol, aspirin and caffeine is considered poisonous, whereas in the UK it healed us miraculously. Together with the hangover a terrible realisation dawned on us: we had to go back home in the evening. So what could we do? Make the most of the day! To get our stomachs ready for another drinking session we went to a Lebanese cafe for the most exquisite breakfast of our lives and then headed towards Soho. I wouldn't have been myself if I could resist a make up haul. So while my husband and friend were sampling another kind of cider I popped into MAC in Foubert's Place and Liberty. Then we strolled across Soho towards Berwick Street to buy some CDs. Feeling quite tired we made a rest in Soho Square (which in our case meant cider and crisps). We sat on one of those benches dedicated to the memory of someone's beloved wife and watched office employees eating those neatly packed lunches, exercising yoga on the lawn, walking. It made me wonder how would my life be different if I was one of them... Having eaten up our crisps we dragged ourselves lazily to Covent Garden, which is the best place for souvenirs for two little boys. Where else will you get an underground train if not in the Museum of Transport? Where else will you get a Mickey Mouse pillow if not in the Disney store?  Covent Garden is also the place where we like to eat some traditional pies, we were quite disappointed though when we were served by a Polish waitress instead of our favourite waiter. We failed to recognize her accent as our native, but when she spoke to us in Polish I realized she spoke with a weird accent, which when transferred into English produced a sort of unrecognizable effect. I wonder which part of Poland the was from.
So that was it, with our stomachs full we left London, had our final drink at the airport and slept all the way back to Poland.


As years go by I've noticed the memories of my past become less and less vivid, some events completely forgotten, emotions connected with them weaken, passions die out giving way to new ones.  So I'm opening this blog with the intention of posting random sketches of things that happened in my life, memories I would like to prevent from getting lost. This by no means is going to be a memoir or a philosophical view of life as it goes by, I would much rather want it to be an emotionally tinted set of reviews of artistic events I participated in, an account of  my travels, vain boasting with purchases of feminine goods, sharing my opinions, hobbies and passions. These notes are primarily intended for myself, but I would gladly welcome everyone to read and comment. Thank you all for your attention and... bear with me!