BEAUTY | The Manicure Moment: Festive Glitter

This year, my choice of festive mani was quite easy and straightforward - red, gold and glitter! That's Christmas at its best, isn't it? I have worn this manicure for Christmas Eve, Christmas day and the entire following week, and just looking at my nails made me feel happy and festive.

The base colour is n°754 Pandore by Dior, a beautiful, bright red with orange undertones. I bought this nail polish this summer because it was the perfect shade for that season, however it is also a classic colour that can be worn throughout the year - and especially around Christmas time!
On my ring finger, I am wearing three coats of pure gold glitter, All Sparkly and Gold by OPI. This is one of my favourite nail polishes, it is slightly irritating to remove but it just looks amazing. On my other nails, I have decided to go for bigger chunks of glitter, with my oldie but goodie Stay Golden by H&M. I have applied it in a sort of gradient effect so that my nails weren't completely covered in glitter. 

I have noticed that generally when you use glitter nail polishes, you can go without top coat because the extra layer of glitter gives you a longer lasting effect already. You can go a full week with neat nails if you've got glitter on! Another good reason to wear these sparkly nail polishes again and again, right? ;)

How did you paint your nails for the festive season this year?


LIFESTYLE | Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

I really wanted to write a little post wishing you all a MERRY CHRISTMAS!
I hope you had a fantastic day, filled with joy, light, your loved ones, and yummy food. Presents are great, but the most important is to have a great time and create memories that will last a lifetime. Whether you're celebrating with family or friends, whether you're home or away, whether you're having a big party or a small, intimate day... May you have the best time ever!

As we do every year, my parents, my little brother and I went to my grandma's for a big family gathering both on Christmas Eve and today for Christmas lunch. I've had way too much food, cooked bruschetta, had good laughs, taken pictures and worn my Christmas hat for two days straight. We watched family videos from fifteen years ago and crappy Christmas films on TV. 
Christmas really is the best time of the year!

What are your Christmas traditions?


LIFESTYLE | Throwback: My Christmas Posts

Only a few days before Christmas now, and I honestly don't know where time has gone... I've been incredibly busy these past two months, hence the lack of posts on Julia Speaks. Although I haven't been able to write any Christmas posts this year, I am still very much in the festive spirit - listening to Christmas music, getting a baby tree and enjoy Christmas lights around Northampton has kept me going through the whole of December!
To make up for the lack (or absence, really) of Christmas-related posts this year on my blog, I have selected my three favourite posts from last year to share again with you! Hopefully they'll be new to some of you and you'll enjoy them!

I have been lucky to be sent some products from BornPrettyStore a few times, but the Christmas selection will always be my favourite! In this post, learn how to create quick and easy festive manicures, using only a few nail polishes and stickers! The snowflake mani (which I called Let It Snow) is my favourite out of the bunch!

Of all the Christmas displays I've seen around Paris, Vaux-le-Vicomte is hands down the best. The castle, located outside of Paris but easily accessible by train, does wonderful Christmas displays every year and I encourage you to visit if you are in Paris and fancy a change from Versailles. All the rooms are filled with trees, lights, and cute ornaments, and Santa is waiting for you around the kitchen. There is even a ferris wheel inside the castle. Yes. Check out the post to see what this amazing event is all about!

I could not finish this post without adding a Christmas recipe! Seasonal hot drinks don't have to come from Starbucks or Costa - make them yourself! I love cinnamon at this time of year, it has this strong, spicy flavour that instantly reminds of Christmas. To do this hot chocolate, you'll only need a few basic ingredients - and some cute mugs of course. Go and follow this recipe, cinnamon hot chocolate is exactly what you need during these cosy winter evenings!

What is your favourite post out of the three? Do you have a favourite type of post you like to write or read at Christmas?


BEAUTY | Review: NYX Lingerie Liquid Lipstick

As usual, I am late on a really cool beauty trend. How surprising does that sound to you? I have read countless reviews about the NYX Lingerie Matte Liquid Lipsticks, and I had not planned to try them out, until a recent YOLO visit to Boots. I picked up the shade n.4 Ruffle Trim, which is a gorgeous orange-toned nude. I was really tempted to get Teddy, the gorgeous brown shade, but I'm still not sure I could pull this one out. But to be honest, give me a couple months more and I'll be blogging about this shade too!
[UPDATE: funnily enough, I wrote this post a few weeks before my awesome friend Julie got me the said shade n.10 Teddy for my birthday. :P So it has indeed made into the review!]

The Lingerie lipsticks are good value for money, and if you're thinking about testing out liquid lipsticks without splurging on the more expensive ones, NYX is the brand to turn to. The formula is really smooth and comfortable on the lips, it doesn't dry them out at all. The lipstick dries matte as soon as you apply it, and it stays on for hours. It might come off a little as you eat, but nothing major - a little touch-up and you're good to go! I've found that when you do touch-ups with this lipstick. If you're careful and just dot along the areas that need reapplying, it won't look cakey at all, which sometimes happens when you reapply other liquid lipsticks during the day. 

Ruffle Trim is a gorgeous colour for autumn, in these photos I am wearing it with a gold and burgundy eye makeup (which you can't really see) and it just enhances a heavier eye look while looking really natural. At £6.50 and with a good array of neutral/brownish shades, this is a good autumn staple you can treat yourselves to!

NYX Lingerie Lipstick, £6.50, available at Boots.

Have you tried the Lingerie lipsticks? What are your thoughts about them?


BEAUTY | The Manicure Moment: Luxury Nude

As much as love wearing colourful nail polishes, I always come back to nude shades. They are definitely my favourite. Nude manicures are fit for every occasion, from casual, day-to-day looks to more dressy and formal occasions. Hence why a few months ago I felt like investing in a luxury nude nail polish, because it would become a staple for me and I'd always come back to it. 
After browsing through all the nude shades I could find in Sephora, I finally settled on Beige Léger by YSL. Mind you, it is not just your regular beige shade: you may not be able to tell from the photos because it is quite hard to capture, but there is a subtle but really pretty hint of pink that I had never seen in any beige nail polish before. 
The application is super easy and you can go with two coats only. This is my first Yves Saint Laurent nail polish, and as you'd expect, the quality is really good. Nothing an Essie nail polish can't do of course (and I'll be 100% honest with you here), but the packaging is absolutely gorgeous and I'm planning on adding a few more to my collection in the future.

What's your favourite nude nail polish? Would you invest on high-end nail polishes?


TRAVEL | Day Out in Winchester, Hampshire

October 25th was my birthday. As it was also half-term (for those who didn't know, I work in a secondary school) I took the opportunity to stay in Reading with my good friend Julie for the week. And on my birthday, I was left totally free to choose what we would be doing on that day. How fun it is to have power..! Arguably, I didn't go for anything too crazy: my only wish was to spend a day out in Winchester, my favourite city in the whole of England. I've been there quite a few times already, and although the Cathedral and Great Hall are definitely familiar to me now, I never get bored of them. 

In this post, let me take you along and show you why I love Winchester so much! The Cathedral, pictured above, is obviously one of the (numerous) reasons. Although the outside doesn't look like much and England has some more impressive cathedrals, the interior is absolutely fascinating, with a harmonious blend of architecture as early as Norman and Gothic. But what makes the Cathedral extra special for me is that it is the burial place of my favourite author, Jane Austen. Winchester was her last home, and to this day it is a really important place to all self-professed Janeites. 

After having lunch in front of the Cathedral, we had a little walk around the grounds, where you can find beautiful, old cottages and homes left untouched by time. Take the narrow pathway at the right side of the Cathedral, and you'll stumble these small streets full of Tudor homes and colourful bricks. If you keep going right, you'll cross one of the gates of the city and find yourself in College Street.

I really love this photo of me in front of Jane Austen's last home. It is hard to explain how and why someone who's been dead long ago and who is almost a dematerialised figure, can hold such a place in my heart. But Jane Austen is an inspiration, as a writer and - from what is known of her - as a person, and I do look up to her. Taking this photo was important because I have walked in her steps, and it shows that her heritage lives on today. Next year will be the 200th anniversary of her death, and I can't wait to see the events Winchester will organise for the occasion.

My respects to Miss Jane Austen paid, we walked down College Street and visited Wolvesley Castle, the ruins of the imposing house of the Bishop of Winchester in the 12th century. The ruins are mysteriously hidden on a side pathway that you would probably miss if you didn't pay attention. They are totally free to visit, and totally worth it. The signs displayed around the ruins are really helpful to understand what rooms stood there back in the day, and what they were used for. It's important to make time for learning new things every day!

The next stop on our way was St Giles' Hill. Located on the other side of the River Itchen, there's only one tip to find it: spot the spiral stairs and go up and up to the top. At that time of year, you'll be welcomed by a bright mixture of reds and oranges, as the leaves cover the ground like some sort of autumnal snow. That's when you can get the perfect Instagram picture, right?!

Once you get to the top of the hill, go towards to the line of the horizon and there, you'll find a stunning view over the whole city. You'll recognise the Cathedral in the distance, and frantically take pictures of this special panorama.

This last photo could be titled: 'autumn in Narnia' :P
There is so much more I would love to add about Winchester, but that'll have to be for another time. Those of you who have already visited Winchester will know, there is History at every corner and every single building is worth a close look. I'm hoping to go back there in a few weeks for the Christmas market, it is the best one I've ever visited in the UK. Now that we've all transitioned into autumn, let the festive season begin!

What are your thoughts about Winchester? Is it a city you would enjoy visiting for the day?