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The Persephone Complex

DISCLAIMER

All photos are taken by me unless otherwise stated. Please don't use any photos or text from this blog without my permission. All rights reserved. Gifted items will be marked with an asterisk (*) All reviews are completely honest and all opinions are my own.



INTERVIEWS I'VE CONDUCTED

Ruby Elliot
Vilte F
Patricia Alvarado
Caitlin Skaalrud
Forsyth Harmon
Valerie Phillips

PAST ENTRIES

Christmas: Expectation VS Reality
The Feather-Effect Mascara
The £15 Biker Jacket
Being Watched Online: What Happens When You Write ...
Christmas Break (Making Time To Do The Little Thin...
#CRAZYBLOGGERS: The Drama-Free Chat For Unconventi...
The £4 Flowerbomb Dupe
Going Red The Natural Way: Lush Caca Rouge Henna
I Did A Thing
Christmas Giveaway: Joules Bumpercrops Gift Set

ELSEWHERE

TABOO Magazine
Style Vulture
Hello Margaret!
SCREENQUEENS
PopCulturePuke



Layout by Swoon for the Moon. Copywright of Holly Cassell and The Persephone Complex 2014.

Christmas: Expectation VS Reality

vegan red velvet cupcakes

I'm going to tell you a little story about a girl. Let's call her Polly. No you don't know her, shut up.

All Polly wanted to do was bake some vegan red velvet cupcakes for Christmas. She'd never made them before but for some reason assumed it would be easy, and that she would simply put on her little red apron, play some Michael Buble in the kitchen, and whisk together a few dairy-substitutes, whistling like Snow White the whole time. So she downloaded the first recipe she found (from a blog she'd never read) and skipped to Waitrose to buy soya cream cheese and cocoa powder. And for a while, everything was perfect. She put up her hair and indulged in the idealic domesticity, sighing with pleasure as she folded together the butter and powdered sugar in her new, shiny kitchen. And then something went a bit...wrong. And then everything went a bit wrong.

Poor Polly had a proper little freak out, and as she got more and more upset, more and more things started going wrong. She had invested so much into these fucking cupcakes and the experience she thought she would have making them, that something as small as curdled frosting was enough to push her over the edge. Which, for most of us, is what Christmas is really like.

We build things up so much in our minds, and never let thoughts of lost presents, shopping mayhem, cooking disasters, uncooperative in-laws or mountains of washing up factor into our big dreams. Before you know it the whole thing has gone tits up and you're fighting with your Mum over cream cheese. And in this way, our pursuit of happiness begins to sabotage our actual happiness. Unless we can laugh. Laughter is the thing that changes the ending to this story. If you can laugh, like Polly did *cough cough* and just start all over again (with a different recipe, and maybe some lower expectations) then things might not be Instagram-perfect, but they will definitely be more fun.

The Feather-Effect Mascara

maybelline mascara

I've tried a lot of mascaras in my time, both high-end and drugstore. Maybelline is a brand that has always been known for it's mascara; from the young girls who buy Great Lash as their first investment in eye-make-up, to the legions of bloggers and make-up artists who swear by The Falsies, almost everyone owns a Maybelline mascara.

I decided to try this one, Mega Plush Volum' Express, when I found it hiding in a discount place, and selling for about £5. I'd been on the lookout for something feathery and not too brittle to replace my trusty Benefit They're Real, which had seen better days and was almost *sob* completely dried up. I didn't want to spend the best part of a twenty on mascara, so had opened up my mind to the possibility of alternatives. 

It turned out to be quite different to They're Real, but I think I prefer this. It's made from a gel formula that is glides on smoother than regular mascara, and it gives a lovely fluttery effect that almost looks like individual false lashes. I'm a huge fan of individual falsies, and anything in that general ball-park will impress me. It adds length, volume and curl with a little bendy wand that means it's easy to get into every corner. The only thing I don't like about it is that after, say, half a day's wear, some of it does end up under my eyes, making me look like I haven't slept in a year. But that doesn't really count as a drawback, because They're Real does that too, along with every other mascara I've tried. Which is why I love individual falsies. In fact, scrap everything I've said and just wear individual falsies. They're amazing. 

The £15 Biker Jacket



Pleather biker jacket and snood, both Primark

Primark has always reminded me a bit of Dante’s Inferno. It might sound like I’m making loose analogies just to take the piss, but bear with me. Both have many levels, all with their separate tortures; both have wild beasts roaming them, on the hunt for fresh meat; they have aimless wanderers too, people who don’t quite understand where they are or how they got there in the first place; and they both seem to exist outside of space and time. An hour inside them can seem like a hundred years, and if you’re not careful, you’ll probably faint from the heat, get trapped underneath some rubble and have other aimless wanderers treading on you for eternity.

But you can’t get a £15 biker jacket in Dante’s Inferno. You could get one made of wilderbeast, maybe, if you killed it yourself. Or you could steal something cool off Cleopatra (she’ll be on the level for adulterers, I should think *presses for the elevator*) but you’d have to fight her for it. So best get to Primark while you can and start practising your powerslam.

Being Watched Online: What Happens When You Write For Others

There is an old American saying that goes something like this. When a woman has been beaten down by life or her commitments, they say she has “gone too long in harness”. This expression means that in maintaining the status quo, something of her has been captured, until she lost touch with her true nature. Most modern-day people call this burnout. But it is more than that - this phrase means a woman has lost her connection to her essentially free, wild self.

holly cassell

My blog has changed a lot these last few months. I’ve become less melancholic, I hope, and featured more fun/practical material. You may think this was a shrewd career move on my part, but I’m afraid I’m not that forward-thinking. Neither was it a result of blogger peer-pressure; I felt no need to fit in that led me to write more about make-up. I did it because I was being watched, and when you’re being watched by people that left you bleeding, the last thing you want to do is hand them your exhausted, haemorrhaging heart. You may ask why I ever let this surveillance bother me; why I didn’t assert my internet space as my own, and be damned with their opinions. And you’d be right. Self-imposed censorship has cost me dear, and I have gone too long in harness.

We all, at times, wish to appear perfect. I fight my hardest against that wish. So hard, in fact, that it took me a while to understand my real fear; that without even knowing, anyone could share in the small, intimate things that make me who I am – my face, my smile, my daily ups and downs – and that they would have a piece of me, through a one-way observation that always sends the observed quite mad. This fear cost me my freedom to show you the little details of my world. I made some heavy shackles in my attempts to be free.

holly cassell

Ironically, there are many who will think I have written this post for them. One of them Googles me daily, while another downloads all my pictures so he can look at me, without his girlfriend’s knowledge. It is a common phenomena in life that humans will feel entitled to each other, no matter what. It can be as simple as the girl who bullied you in school keeping tabs on “what you’re up to”. This kind of stalking without interaction isn’t really frowned upon in society. We even convince ourselves it is romantic, or flattering. We’re reluctant to complain in case we appear too sensitive, or like we forgot we’re writing public blogs, after all. I have to be honest with myself and say it has gotten to me, and at times it’s made me want to up and quit – but I’m not going to quit.

We can’t control who reads our words, or what they take from them. The only thing we can control is how we write. The little details in life – the little details that are small, but universal, and break all our hearts in recognition of their larger significance – are the reason I started writing, and without them we are nothing. Without them, we are in chains.

Christmas Break (Making Time To Do The Little Things)

blogging addiction
November was a good month here on TPC. In terms of hits, it was my best month ever, and I worked bloody hard for it. I probably worked a little too hard, in fact; staying up all hours of the night answering tweets and emails when I definitely should have been sleeping. Writing posts at 3am and then waking up at 8am to carry out my day. If I remember November 2014 as the month of anything, it will be the month of blogging addiction. I started posting three times a week, I founded a new blog chat, I hosted a giveaway, had my blog hacked (and then fixed) and as absolutely wonderful as it has been for the most part… I’m knackered.

After doing some deep soul-searching over my peanut butter toast, I realised that I’m not enjoying myself as much as I want to. I want to spend more time doing the things I love (including writing, and taking photos) and less time on the never-ending demands of social media and blog promotion. I want to stop and smell the roses. I want to be present for December. I want to put down my phone and have a better quality of life, and be aware of all the beauty and cuteness that’s around me over Christmas, without missing it because I’m hunched over a laptop all evening. I will still be blogging - I’m just going to take my foot off the gas a bit. I realise I’ve let a lot of things slide as I’ve gotten more serious about blogging. Like eating. And taking baths. Not good things to let slide.

I want to bake red velvet cupcakes in my new shiny kitchen. I want to enjoy my first Christmas in (gasp) my own apartment. I want to get some sleep and maybe even MOISTURISE (is there such a thing as dandruff of the skin? Because I have that). I want to read more books, especially wintery fairy-tales and Victorian classics. I want to do more nail art, and all the little luxurious things I never make time for. And I have got to do something about my posture. 

#CRAZYBLOGGERS: The Drama-Free Chat For Unconventional Bloggers

crazybloggers blogger chat

A little while ago I was having a conversation with Jordan about how awesome it would be if there was a chat for bloggers like us; and by bloggers like us, I mean freaks. Proper weirdoes who LOVE to tweet, but are slightly bored by the prospect of tweeting about Monthly Favourites for a whole hour, yet again.

I decided to have a go at hosting one after a random survey showed that loads of my followers were up for it. It all came together in less than 24 hours, and before I knew it, I had hundreds of notifications from people all over the world, tweeting about our first topic, Adult Content, under the new shiny hashtag #crazybloggers. For some people, crazy is not a word they want to embrace, and that’s exactly the point.  A lot of us have been unfairly labelled a crazy bitch in our lifetime, have we not? But to me the word means wild, unconventional, unpredictable, weird, random. And all those things are good in my book, or blog.

The ethos behind the chat is this. We want to create a drama-free, welcoming chat for every type of blogger to discuss the hush-hush, embarrassing, hilarious, or dividing issues in blogging; the things people don’t want to bring up because they’re scared they’ll lose followers if they do, or be labelled as “out there” or “too crazy”; a chat where people will actually experience the opposite, and GAIN followers for speaking their mind. Foul language is encouraged, and an open mind is essential. So far, it’s been a huge success; many people got in touch with me after the chat to say thanks for getting them so many new, like-minded readers! This makes me incredibly happy, because deep down, all I really want is for bloggers to come together in a haters-free zone and have a good time.

For now, I will be hosting over on my main account, @hollycassell, and Jordan will host on hers, @hellomissjordan. But for chat updates and such like, you can follow the super-official  fancy-pancy account we made over on @CrazyBlogChat. Once that is built up a little bit more, we'll probably start hosting from there, as well as putting names down for guest host spots!  If you want to come join us (and I really hope you do) then we’ll all be tweeting under #crazybloggers every Thursday night at 7-8pm GMT. Bring your inner crazy bitch.

The £4 Flowerbomb Dupe

flowerbomb dupeflowerbomb dupe
When I was about 14, I had an Anna Sui perfume collection that would put most people to shame. But somewhere along the line, perfume became one of those things that I really, really resent spending money on. Given a spare £60, a new designer fragrance would be way, way down on my list of priorities now. The result of this is that over the years, I have amassed a rather huge mental list of perfumes that I would love to own, but probably never will. Prada Candy, Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream, Chanel Mademoiselle, Miss Dior Cherie…the list goes on and on. Naturally then, when my friend told me there was a great dupe for Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb that cost FOUR FUCKING POUNDS, I threw my scruples about being a copycat to the four fucking winds. Just like Flowerbomb, it has a sweet, oriental scent with notes of musk, green tea and citrus. I picked it up in an amazing little discount cosmetics store in Cardiff called The Powder Room (a gem in itself)  but you can shop their whole range online here if you are so inclined. Oh, and I’m definitely not being paid or sponsored for this post, I just really, really like this shit.

If you guys know of any amazing fragrance dupes, please let me know in the comments!

Going Red The Natural Way: Lush Caca Rouge Henna

lush caca rouge henna review
It’s a messy business, henna. I remember watching my mother patiently cake her own head in dark green sludge when I was a child, emerging four or five hours later with a bright coppery mane of curls. I remember helping her reach parts that she couldn’t do herself, carefully spooning it onto the nape of her neck or behind her ears, trying not to touch the skin. Even with all the modern-day updates, applying henna is pretty much as ceremonial, tedious, and hilarious a process as it must have been back in ancient Persia, where it originated. At the end of the day it is very much like smearing a big cow pat on your head.

I won’t go into details about the process (to learn how to apply Lush henna, find full instructions here) because that would take forever; instead I’ll tell you what I thought of the product and results. Most henna has a distinctive dried-leaves kind of smell, and this is no exception, although it has been perfumed with some lovely natural oils so it's not too intense. I left it on for 3 hours, but you can leave it on overnight if you want to. The great thing about henna is that there is no such thing as too much. The results will vary depending on your hair colour, but for images of how it turned out on me, just scroll down to my previous post.

The thing I really, really loved was that it left my hair in BETTER condition than before. Usually any kind of colouring will do damage, but henna fills your hair follicle, leaving it softer, thicker, and shinier. Don’t expect it to turn jet-black hair into Ariel’s fiery mane, as henna cannot lighten hair, only add more colour. However, if you’re interested in going the chemical-free route, and want a colour that looks like you were just naturally blessed with it, I couldn’t recommend this enough. I’ll definitely be buying more and reapplying within a month, to maintain my new auburn look!

If you’ve ever tried Lush bricks, or any kind of henna, please do share your stories below!

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