Please vote for Blush and Banter in the Irish Blog Awards!

Hi all,

Blush and Banter has been nominated in the Irish Blog Awards and if you read my blog, I would love if you took the time to vote for it. It’s really easy, just click next to ‘Blush and Banter’ in the blog list and scroll to the end and click ‘Vote’.

Everyone can only vote once a week, so please share it as much as you can!

Here’s the link: http://www.blogawardsireland.com/best-blog-post-2014/

Thanks so much!

Natalie x

@burkenatalie 

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Summer Daze

July has whizzed by in a bit of a blur – a sunny one, that’s for sure – but a blur nonetheless. Technically August is not summertime, but for most of us, July marks the middle of our summer months which means we just have weeks left to make memories of Summer 2014! I’ve been busy this past month (never quite a bad thing) acquainting myself with a brand new role workwise, getting distracted by puppy love and making the most of the sunny days we’ve been granted!

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New Arrival I returned home from work recently to a brand new arrival. I had no idea I was expecting but suddenly I’ve found myself getting up in the middle of the night, soothing a crying baby and not being able to make too many plans for fear of leaving her alone too long! If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, chances are you’ve blocked me thanks to my over-posting of puppy pics but this cutie pie’s name is Dora and she’s the newest member of the Burke/Donohue doggy clan. Already she’s been on a trip to the beach – she’s not too keen on the whole sand thing, made life long friends with her dog-relations and almost learned how not to have accidents inside. All at just 12 weeks old. She’s a smarty.

#AmReading I’m not one to re-read books, but I make exceptions on occasion for the ones I really love. I’m back reading To Kill A Mockingbird, this time for the enjoyment and without the niggling knowledge that I might have to do an exam on this one day.

The Work Thing I’ve recently taken up a new role as Deputy Editor with RSVP magazine and I absolutely love it so far. It’s really busy and hectic, with something new and different to do every day. I styled my first photoshoot last week, with three lovely weather girls from RTE. Since we’re going to print later this week, be sure to pick up a copy to keep an eye on what we’re doing!

The Challenge People across social media have been busy partaking in the #100happydays challenge and so I decided I didn’t want to miss out. Especially when I heard that while it can be difficult to stay on top of, you can come out the other end with a much more positive outlook on life. The idea is that you ask yourself the question, “Can I be happy for 100 days in a row?” It’s about appreciating the smaller things in life, each moment of the day, and trying to find the positive parts of each day. It’s not about boasting about how wonderful your life is, but finding the sweet in the mundane. 71% are supposed to have taken up the challenge but failed due to “lack of time”. I admit it can be hard to stay on top of, especially if lack of internet access causes you to post your updates late, but it really does make you think back through your day and pick out a part that unexpectedly made you feel happy.

The hardest part for me so far? Trying not to pick cute puppy eyes as my happy moment each day! Far too tempting 🙂

#Amwatching Breaking Bad. I know, I’m about ten lightyears behind everyone else as usual when it comes to keeping up with TV shows (bar SATC and KUWTK of course) but I’m finally about three episodes away from finishing the entire series of Breaking Bad. It’s pure brilliance. I loved it at first because Walter White looks scarily similar to my own Dad, but I’m addicted, the acting is unbelievable and I’m dreading it coming to a close. If anyone has suggestions for something that might be able to fill the large hole it’s bound to leave, I’m open to suggestions.

Perfectil I attended a launch of the Perfectil challenge recently, where you take Perfectil supplements for hair, skin and nails for three months, and report – using your blog or social media outlet – on how you notice yourself changing or how you benefit from taking the supplements. I’m set to begin my challenge in the next couple of weeks and look forward to seeing what I’m hoping will be a positive outcome!

TK Maxx Opens at the Ilac

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as spotting a bargain or a designer label you love at a price you can actually afford. For any shopper it’s a bit of a thrill and it’s one of the many reasons I love taking a wander through TK Maxx to see what treasures I can find.

The discount fashion retailer opened its brand new store in the Ilac Centre in Dublin last week and I was delighted to have the chance to pop along for a sneak peek ahead of its grand opening.

The store is all shiney and new and full of gorgeous new stock – I even spotted a pair of gold Michael Kors heels which, devastatingly, had been snatched up by the time I came on my second round of the store – you have to be quick in this shopping business!

The designer labels and brands are priced up to 60% less than the original asking price meaning your bound to come across a steal. The store (and all other TK Maxx stores across Ireland) receive daily deliveries too, so regular shoppers can always count on coming across something new.

I took a minute to chat to one of the representatives from TK Maxx on the day, who said that one of the reasons why the store does so well is because it is a totally different shopping experience to other high street stores.

“Shoppers come in and if they know they are looking for a pair of jeans, they can go straight to the section for ladies jeans, straight to their size, and have a range of different pairs to choose from. It’s really straightforward and simple, yet it works really well,” she told me.

I’ve made a pact with myself this summer that if it’s sunny out, I steer clear of the shops. But if you’re looking for me next time it rains, you’ll find me shopping in TK Maxx. Possibly near the shoe aisle, size 5, looking for those Michael Kors.

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No celebration would be complete without cupcakse

No celebration would be complete without cupcakes

Purple! Love the homewares section too.

Purple! Love the home wares section too.

 

Total Make Up Selfies

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It seems ironic that the moment I pick up a make up brush to kick start my training as a professional make up artist, every girl in the country jumps on the #NoMakeUpSelfie bandwagon. My entire Facebook feed is thronged with fresh and smiley faces but deep down I know it’s only a matter of time before we all go crawling back to our daily masks.

I wasn’t planning on blogging too much about the make up course I’m currently training on, but since I’m really loving every moment of it, I felt a sneaky update was needed.

I’ve a new found love for painting faces, especially with all the lust-worthy Make Up For Ever products, so check out my first professional smokey eye… It’s loud and proud colour wise I know, but the blues were calling me.

Let’s hope this one can be recreated when I’m left to my own devices!

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Scottish Style Awards

Last week’s trek to Scotland was an eye-opening one. It was my first time to Glasgow – and to Scotland for that matter – but even for the cultural novice that I apparently am, I was pleasantly taken aback by just how trendy a city Glasgow is, and how stylish it’s constantly becoming. It might be worth noting here that the MTV awards are set to take place there in November 2014, which is a pretty exciting prospect for the city! But while we made plenty of fashionable stops on our city tour, the Scottish Style Awards was the highlight (and main purpose) for the recent visit.

After a day of meeting some of Scotland’s ‘ones to watch’ in the fashion and design world (more on that to come), it was straight to make up at House of Fraser’s Lancôme counter, back to the hotel to change, and on to the champagne reception at the event.

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The style awards were held at the impressive Kelvin Grove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow City Centre on Saturday, November 9 and it really showcased just how trendy a city it has become.

Kicking off with a Moet & Chandon champagne reception, I wandered through the museum with some newly made fashion friends, stole a quick photograph with the legendary Noel Gallagher (at my boyfriend’s overseas request) and soaked up the stylish atmosphere.

The style awards have been established as Scotland’s foremost celebration of creative endeavour and honours iconic individuals and inspirational enterprises. So while you may think that Scotland’s most stylish woman (Sara McDonald) or most stylish man (Martin Compston) would be the sole accomplishments of the night, you’d be wrong. Scotland’s most stylish bar, restaurant, hotel, retailer, womenswear (and menswear) designer and musician also managed to pick up a few awards!

It would be a shame not to post my picture with the mildly happy-looking Noel. So thought I’d share an extra few too… Needless to say, I’m a huge fan of champagne glasses so I ensured mine was kept looking healthy the entire night!

@burkenatalie xxx

Making friends in Glasgow
Making friends in Glasgow

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Gala dining at its absolute best
Gala dining at its absolute best

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September Shenanigans

September has come and gone and it was only today, with the lashings of rain and the odd mention of pumpkins, which had me realising that it is in fact October already. Jeez! There’s no catching up with time. I’ve been busy – a good complaint some might say – reacquainting myself with tricycles, advising young freshman on their college dreams and adding more material to my book-et list this past month. It’s tiring! 🙂

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Fitness Faze I set off on an adventure to the Wild West last month when I was invited to Westport for a taster of what was in store for this year’s Sea2Summit. The adventure race takes place annually in November and consists of road running, cycling and a mountain hike and this year was being promoted by Bressie. Keeping in mind the fact that it was the first time in about seven years that I had climbed onto a bike, I think it’s fair to say I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. But alas, after pedaling through the first sleet of autumn, suffering the disruption of my other half’s flat tyre, and crawling breathlessly up Croagh Patrick, I still had a lot of fun! Plus the post-race recovery massage at the Castlecourt Hotel’s Spa Sula easily made it worthwhile…

#amwriting While last month was all about new beginnings, turning over new leaves etc, I have to admit I wasn’t too envious of those starting their first year of college. Of course being a freshman is fun and college comes with less of life’s pressures, but if I had the chance to go back I’m not sure I’d take it. So instead I spilled the beans on what I learned (and what I wished I’d learned) from college life in my freshman feature for U Magazine. From college etiquette to third-level lingo, it was a fun one to write!

Must Reads I’ve an app on my phone to help keep track of all the books I want to read, with at least one new one being added on a weekly basis. The app even has a little section for the ones I finally read, which makes me sound deceivingly organised! But what I really want to get lost in next is The Vogue Factor, a biography by former Australian Vogue editor, Kirstie Clements. Real life devil wears prada? Yes please. #booketlist

Lunching Ladies I popped along to Patrick Guilbaud’s restaurant for a promotional lunch for Visit Belfast. The tourism company were promoting all the events and festivals happening in Belfast over the next few months. These lunches are always fun and while it’s good to meet new people, I was particularly excited about eating in Ireland’s only two star Michelin restaurant. And yes, it was totally up to scratch. It was contemporary and classy and each course was definitely instagram-worthy. I was a particular fan of the restaurant’s own brand glassware. I’m working on getting one of their red wine glasses for myself.

Soundwaves If you watched RTE’s The Hit, you’ll know that it is a brand new TV show aimed at celebrating Irish talent and the best of our country’s songwriters. You might also remember that on the first episode, there was a guy and a girl (Gary Burke and Katie Carpenter) who were extremely talented and were finalists in Julie Feeney’s group. Funnily enough, Gary is actually my big bro and Katie his beautiful girlfriend. They’re also known as Jezzebelle. While they weren’t the reigning champions this time round, their song ‘Dimension Me’ is playing on repeat in my car this month. Have a listen here or download their newly released single here!

@burkenatalie xxx

PS. The Guinness was just a nod towards Arthur’s Day. It goes hand in hand with September these days!