Tuesday, 1 July 2014

June Favourites 2014 | AztecOwl

Here are a few favourites from the month of June, as I really wanted to spread the word on some of the things I've been loving!

TV Show:
Orange Is The New Black. Season 2 is out and I'm already impatiently awaiting season 3!

All Time Low - Don't Panic, It's Longer Now. I'm late to the party, I know....

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind concealer. So good for covering redness. Use it every day as it evens out my skin tone really well.

Bon Iver - Heavenly Father.  asdfghjkl.

The King's Speech. Wasn't sure if it would be worth all the hype, but it was. Would definitely recommend watching it!

Crabstickz  He's been one of my favourite youtubers for a while. So incredibly funny and shares my sense of humour.

Video game:
Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Yes, I am obsessed with this game and yes, I will try not to include it in every single favourites post....


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Maybelline Matte Maker Mattifying Powder - Review | AztecOwl

Maybelline Matte Maker Mattifying Powder - 20 Nude Beige. £3.99.

I'll start off by explaining what I wear on my face everyday, so you can get a better idea of how the product performs. I don't wear foundation, so if you're wanting to know how well this product works over foundation, unfortunately I can't help you! But I do wear Collection Lasting Perfection concealer underneath and around my eyes and the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind concealer on my nose and chin. I prefer to keep my skin as makeup free as possible, while using the concealer to cover up redness and dark circles.  My skin is quite dry around my nose, however it's still quite shiny, so getting concealer to stay on and apply well is a challenge (but that's a whole other blog post)! I bought this powder with the hope it would offer a bit more staying power.

I use a brush to apply it; of course, you could use a sponge if you prefer. As I prefer a lighter coverage, I use a brush; I find it easier to control the amount of powder I apply.

My initial reaction was that it definitely mattified my skin and made it look smooth, almost velvety. It made the shiny areas of my skin (literally everywhere, but especially around my eyes and nose) look matte, but not cakey or dull. I'm not a big fan of my skin looking completely matte, so I was pleased that this product wasn't too heavy at first and is instead buildable.

Throughout the day, my skin tends to become shiny and unfortunately this powder didn't last very long. 1-2 hours before I had to apply it again and in hot weather there's no chance of it staying matte. Also, I found that the concealer and powder around my nose started to break up and / or slide off as the day went on, but it wasn't really noticeable to anyone else but me. However, my skin did still look very smooth and silky and didn't look cakey after I topped it up.

The product feels light on my skin. It doesn't make it feel dry and my skin doesn't feel suffocated, which is fantastic. For a product that is selling itself as a Matte Maker, I would think many people would be disappointed if they're expecting a 100% matte look. I would say this powder gives more of a satin effect.

+Feels light on the skin.
+Skin looks and feels smooth.
+Buildable. I could keep topping it up throughout the day without it looking cakey. (Around my nose was a bit of an issue, but not terrible.)

-Tends to break up a little bit around the nose, after a couple of hours wear. 
-Not really as matte as I expected it to be. (Good thing for me, but maybe not for people wanting a 100% matte look)

Overall, I would say for £3.99 , it's a bargain. I've only been wearing it for a couple of days, but I will repurchase it if I don't find anything I like more.
Please bare in mind that I also don't use a primer, so any problems I encountered with this product may be rectified with the use of one. 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Songwriting Tips for Beginners and Beyond | AztecOwl

There are no rules to songwriting, in my opinion. I believe that it's something you can have fun with, play around with and it's something that is personal to each individual. There are no set rules, just experimentation. These tips aren't fact, they're just things that I find most useful. I hope you take something positive from them!


1. Trying to write in a style that doesn't happen naturally, usually results in a song you don't fully connect with. For example, I love country music, but I can't write a country song without it sounding horrifically cliché. It doesn't mean I don't write country songs when I feel like it, but those songs aren't my best songs because they're not 'me'. Forcing a particular style will show and it wont sound (and most importantly, feel,) sincere. It will most likely sound forced and fake. The first songs I ever wrote were trying too hard to be something they just weren't ever going to be. I wanted to force a particular style/genre upon myself that just wasn't working and as a result, the songs never felt natural when I sung them and it always felt like I wasn't quite clicking or relating with them. The songs I relate to the most, are the ones I don't try too hard to write and the ones I feel represent me the best. Don't force yourself into any genre or any style and don't give yourself unnecessary restrictions. However, this doesn't mean that you can't try different things. It's all about figuring out what flows most naturally.

2. If you're struggling for something to write about, remember that it doesn't have to be about you and your own personal experiences. If you need inspiration, think about story lines from TV shows. Have you watched anything that has stood out to you/meant something to you? I've written a couple of songs based on a story line in a TV show and they turned out to be a lot more personal than I expected them to be. So, take inspiration from everything and everyone around you. If it means something to you, write about it, but don't just write about it for the sake of wanting something to write about. If you connect or feel inspired by the story line, write about it! The same goes for people you know. Real-life situations involving family or friends can sometimes be really useful. If you feel inspired by it then try writing about it, but again, don't write about it just because it would "make a good song". 

3. Write a song as if nobody will ever hear it. Sometimes, it's easy to be put off by what people are going to think when they suddenly know your feelings. But it's better to be honest with what you feel and ending up with a great song that you have a strong connection to, than toning it down and having a bland song as a result. Don't write songs because you think that's what people will want to hear, write it because it's what you feel. Your song is your song. How people relate to it is their own personal thing.

4. "Do you write the melody or lyrics first?" Usually, I'll write the lyrics first, because I love writing anyway. Sometimes, I'll come up with a couple of lines, but I won't know what part of the song they will be yet (verse,chorus, etc). I keep writing until I get stuck and can't write any more. That's the point when I pick up my guitar and try to think of a melody. Once I have that, I go back to the lyrics and see what comes to mind as I play the song on guitar. There has been times when I've written an entire song in 5 minutes and even had the melody in my head as I'm writing. I find it much easier writing a melody for lyrics, as opposed to writing lyrics to a melody, but that's just me. Everyone is different. Play around with it and see which feels most natural.

5. Mix things up. First of all, your song doesn't have to follow the typical structure of ABABCBB (Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Middle 8, Chorus, Chorus). Try things in a different order. Sing the chorus first. Sometimes that can give the song a completely different feel. Make the second verse the first verse, if you think it would sound better. Get rid of the bridge if it doesn't impact the song and it doesn't need to be there. Sing the chorus last and only once if that's what you think works best. Repeat a verse. Have only one verse. The entire song could just be made up of three lines repeated. If the words have substance and meaning, sometimes that's more than having three verses that don't say as much. If you think a note is too predictable or dull, try different ones until you have something even better. Have fun with it because it's your song and you have the power to make it as good and as original as it can be. 

6. Listen to a song you wish you'd written and think about what it is you like about it. Don't completely plagairise it, obviously, but try and pick out the parts you relate to and connect with. Think about whether it's something you'd like to include in your own music. It's okay to copy, to an extent, especially if you're just starting to write songs. It's good practice and it helps you to figure out why you enjoy composing music in the first place.

Tips for Writers Block:

1.  Pick an emotion and start writing about it. However cliché or stupid it sounds, just write it down. Nobody has to see it if you don't want them to. Don't think about what you're writing because that defeats the whole point. Just write something vaguely related to that emotion or situation. When you're done, look through and see if there's anything in there that you can use, such as certain phrases, words or feelings you evoked. 

2. Look through previously written songs that you never completed. There might be a verse, chorus, or even one line in there that you like and could spark a whole new song.

3. A lot of the time, when I get stuck on a song, it's because I don't like the last line that I wrote. I usually go back and rewrite it, as it tends to be something that didn't really impact the song at all or I might've gone off in a direction that I didn't need to. It's important to remember what you're writing about and to make the words as true to that as possible, otherwise you lose track.


I really hope you took something from this and it's helped in some way! Please feel free to leave any tips of your own in the comments. I'd love to discuss them!

Thanks for reading!
- Holly.