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Friday 31 August 2012

Recently Read- The Dead Summer, The Wire in the Blood and Broken Harbour.

The Dead Summer by Helen Moorhouse
"A thriller? Set in the Summer time you say? How ideal!" I thought. Hmm. Yeah, not so much. This is the story of a young woman, recently separated from her husband (after he cheated on her, the git) who moves to the countryside with her baby daughter for a fresh start. She finds an idyllic old cottage which they move into but it's only a matter of time before there's strange noises and odd happenings in the house. From there it kind of turns into one of those horror movies where you spend the hour and a half of the film using shouty capitals, going: "no, wait, why are you doing THAT? STOP investigating those sounds, just get your child and get in your car and never come FOOL!!" Etc. Like, the protagonist is an idiot. I'm aware there'd have been no story if she had just left as soon as things turned weird but I just find it hard to believe anyone is that stupid. In fairness, the book is reasonably well written (if a touch repetitive) and is an interesting read but I just couldn't get past the idiocy. You'll see what I mean if you read it. The author is Irish too, if that helps..

The Wire in the Blood by Val McDermid
I loved the tv series of this with Robson Green which ran for about 7 years, back in the day (I can say things like "back in the day" now I'm an old, married woman). It was based on a series of thriller/crime novels about clinical psychologist Tony Hill, who specialises in hunting the really awful offenders British society has to offer- serial killers, sex offenders etc. Basically he's the UK version of the BAU guys in Criminal Minds. For some reason I thought this was the first in the book series. It's not, it's the second. Doh. Anyway, the characters in this are really well written, the relationship between Dr Hill and D.C.I Carol Jordan (one of his colleagues) is quite unusual and slightly dysfunctional, kind of Mulder and Scully-esque. I couldn't put this book down so I've bought a few more from the series on the Kindle. Having said that, I'm not sure I'm ready to read another one just yet, they're very graphic and although the "detective story" element is really interesting, the violence perpetrated against the victims is expressed in detail, something I found a bit hard to stomach. Which is the reason I stopped reading Patricia Cornwell and James Patterson books years ago. So yeah, not sure about this one. If it's the type of thing you normally read then you'll really enjoy it. Otherwise, avoid! (also, this book is a fair few years old so you should get a good deal on it in a book shop, or indeed on the old Kindle).

Broken Harbour by Tana French

I love Irish author Tana French. This is her 4th novel based on the Dublin Murder Squad. Of all her books, her 3rd one was probably my favourite but the first two and indeed this one are all well worth a read. This one follows Detectives "Scorcher" Kennedy and his young protege Richie as they try and solve the murders of two children, their dad and the attempted murder of their mum, in their home in a ghost estate situated near the seaside in Dublin. The seaside village has very bad memories for Detective Kennedy, who struggles to cope with his past while simultaneously trying to solve this bizarre crime. Again, the characters are very well drawn in this and it taps into different facets of Irish society remarkably well. It's also a really atmospheric book- set in a post Celtic Tiger Ireland in Winter, it's a bit bleak and definitely quite dark. Unlike her first novel "In the Woods", this thankfully has a resolution- it's quite a long book so if it had an ambiguous ending I think I'd have been driven a bit demented. This one I can definitely recommend!

Thursday 30 August 2012

Chanel Haul! Vertigo, Suspicious and plenty more!

Clearly the Sales Assistants at the Chanel counter saw me coming.

I, ahem, happened to be in HoF the day the A/W Chanel range came out and as my sister was buying my other sister a birthday present from the many beautiful things there, I felt it was incumbent upon me to pick up a couple of items for share with all of you, obviously. I'm generous like that.
For eyes, the new range compromises of : four Ombre Essentielle soft touch eyeshadows, one Les 4 Ombres Quadra Eyeshadows, two Stylo Yeux Waterproof long lasting eyeliners in Noir Intense and Silver Light.
For the Face: A rather stunning Illuminating Powder with shimmer and a Powder blush in Rose Initiale.
For the lips: A Precision Lip Definer Pencil, Two Pure Shine Intense Colour Long Wear Lip Glosses (that's a mouthful), a Levres Scintillantes Gloss, two Rouge Coco Shines and a Rouge Coco Creme.
Fragrance: Coco Noir Eau de Parfum
Lastly, for nails: 3 Le Vernis in Frenzy, Vertigo and Suspicious.
I felt it was important to clarify just how much is in the range so that my purchases seemed minor in comparison :-)
When I read a while back that the A/W range was rumoured to be inspired by Hitchcock movies, I was beyond excited..Hitchcock AND Chanel??!! two of my favourite things together! Hurrah! The look is smokey, sultry and a little bit mysterious..definitely in-keeping with Hitch's heroines, which I've previously discussed here.
So I picked up a long lasting eyeliner in Noir Intense.

This is actually part of the permanent collection but I needed a new kohl-type liner and this is kind of amazing. It's a twist-up pencil with a very fine nib for extra precision and a little pencil sharpener built in at the end which you can pull out and use to re-focus the point of the pencil as needed:

I love this. I've used it a few times now since buying it and I can confirm that it is in fact completely waterproof and smudgeproof, as well as being easy to apply. It's just a great product. The only slight drawback I can think of is that it requires a bit of extra effort to remove it at night, my Liz Earle does take it off but it needs more attention than other eye make-up I have, which to be honest is not a huge negative for me, eyeliner tends to always smudge on me, giving me the dreaded panda-eyes, so I was pretty delighted to find a product that doesn't do this, at last!
I also picked up two Soft Touch Eyeshadows, in Complice and Black Star.

(Black Star)
Complice is a beautiful pale pink shimmery shadow while Black Star is a black/dark grey shadow with tiny silver sparkles. Both are as suggested, soft to the touch, easily applied and blend-able and both compliment each other extremely well, hence I got the two! They come with a sponge applicator and are housed in a little velvet pouch, which is just typically lovely packaging from Chanel.

   (swatches of the eyeliner, Black Star and Complice)

Lastly I got drawn in by the beautiful new polish shades. I am a bit of a fangirl of Chanel polishes in general. I know there can be issues with chipping with some of them, but the shades are just always so stunning, I can't resist! Rouge Noir and Blue Satin are two of my all time favourite polishes, I don't think anything will ever replace them in my affections, but God knows I'll keep looking- it's my civic duty as a beauty blogger!
Anyways, I was really excited about Frenzy, after seeing all the attention it's been getting. Unfortunately, it just didn't suit my skin tone, being a very pale beige/nude shade and given that I am very pale naturally, the two together just didn't look right. Oh well, Frenzy is probably one my least favourite of Hitchcock's films..I did instead fall a bit in love with Suspicious, a rich raspberry creme and Vertigo, a murky dark brown shot through with purple shimmer. I'm actually watching Vertigo for about the millionth time as I'm typing this- it really is a classic.

Jaysus, just look at them there, beautiful. These are really easy to apply, ONE coat and it's perfect, dries quickly and is super shiny. No need for a top coat unless you want it to last a bit longer. Apologies for the swatch picture, the photo doesn't do them justice- neither of them really look like those colours in real life! Aargh!
So that's my lot. I was also very tempted by the limited edition Illuminating Powder. It really is a thing of beauty- designed to resemble sequins and super sparkly to match. After a few uses the top layer of shimmer wears off so you don't look like C3P-O all the time with a big sparkly face. What you're left with is a warm golden powder, really flattering on the skin.
The blush is a pretty pink shade and I was also very interested in the rouge Coco Shine in Parfait- a great bubblegum pink in the usual lovely Coco Shine formula, which just feels so nourishing. I have 'Boy' already though so unless that runs out really fast I think I'll resist! I didn't hugely love the silver eye pencil but that's just a personal preference. The Quadra eyeshadow palette is made up of black, gold, pink and brown shades. These are lovely but nothing really new. The Intense long wear lip glosses are both pretty great and well worth a look if you're in the market for a highly pigmented lipstick/gloss.
Lastly, although it is more of an individual preference, I can highly recommend the new Coco Noir eau de parfum. It just smells divine. I really love Coco Mademoiselle and this has a faint hint of that but with a more intense, oriental twist. The bottle is also rather fabulous, definitely a candidate for the dressing table eye candy! Well worth a spray, if you happen to find yourself at a counter any time soon, or if like me, you can't resist the allure of Chanel and find yourself there on purpose!

Newbridge Museum of Style Icons

I've previously talked about my love for the beautiful Grace Kelly here, so when my lovely SIL suggested we take a trip to the Newbridge Silverware Visitors centre, I was obviously fairly thrilled. The centre can be unsurprisingly found in Kildare in Newbridge and features artifacts and garments that belonged to Elizabeth Taylor (I also ranted about how amazing she was here), Audrey Hepburn (another one of my all time favourite her), Marilyn Monroe (ah here, I should've just put a disclaimer at the start: "I love ALL of these people"), Princess Diana, The Beatles, Michael Jackson (not such a huge fan), amongst others.
Prepare yourself for a stupid amount of photos of the pretty shiny things we saw:

Marilyn, left, in her own beautiful pink Gucci dress, top right in a coat from "The Prince and the Showgirl", bottom right- a really cool polkadot umbrella used in famous beach photoshoot.

I don't remember who most of these were worn by (apologies, I'm useless) but check out the Ingrid Bergman dress at the start and the black Vivien Leigh number (second on the left).

Oh Sweet Jesus, the Audrey Hepburn section..packed with memorabilia and beautiful items. I WANT that poster from "Charade", (top left), the Vespa from "Roman Holiday" (top middle), "My Fair Lady" poster (top right), Outfits from Charade (left middle row and Audrey wearing the orange Givenchy coat, centre, middle row), "My Fair Lady" poster, little black dress from "Charade", Summer dress and hat from "Funny Face" (bottom left) and most amazingly- the pink embellished dress from "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (bottom right..if you hear that this has mysteriously gone missing, you'll know what happened..I'll have stolen it, basically).

                                                            Jackson 5 Outfits..sparkly.

Random beautiful 1950's dress sketches..

Princess Di's "Revenge" dress (top), wedding dress sketches and replica of the wedding dress, her actual veil (top right).

Seriously, would you just look at that amazing pale pink/blue dress belonging to Grace Kelly, just stunning. Bottom left are pictures of her wearing the beautiful green Givenchy suit and flower head piece there on the right.

Bejewelled cream caftan and matching earrings belonging to Elizabeth Taylor, dress from one of her films (forget which one, sorry..)

Bette Davis costumes from Essex and Elizabeth (1939).

So that's it! There was actually a lot of other stuff, photographs, letters etc but I didn't think there was much point in photographing them, they wouldn't really have shown up that well here. If you fancy going to see these for yourself the centre is open 7 days a week, from 9am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and 11am to 6pm on Sundays, admission is free, there's a car park, cafe and Newbridge Silverwear shop (which is always nice to have a little wander around!).

Tuesday 28 August 2012

And the Winner is..

So my End of Summer Giveaway has come to it's own end and I can announce that the winner, as picked by Rafflecopter is:

                                                                  Make Up Monster!

Congrats lovely! I'll send you a tweet now to organise sending you your prize!Hope you enjoy your goodies!xxxx


I'd like to say a huge thank you again to everyone who has taken the time to read my blog and leave comments and to all those who have taken part by entering in the Giveaway! Yiz are all legends!xx

Monday 27 August 2012

My First Attempt at becoming a Domestic Goddess..

One of our amazing wedding presents was a KitchenAid mixer. That's right, KitchenAid. I've been desperate for one of these for years, my mum and sisters remembered that and very generously bought one for us in (squeee!!) baby pink. I LOVE it so.

Hubster and I had one of our dearest friend's baby's Christening party coming up so we thought it'd be nice to make our own cupcakes to bring instead of buying them in M & S, as is our usual MO (we've been watching a lot of Criminal Minds). Also, I bought "Saved by Cake" by Marian Keyes at the weekend and it gave me a serious urge to bake.

If you haven't checked out this book yet, I can seriously recommend it. The recipes are mouth watering but simple to make and the book is peppered throughout with Marian's trademark wit. Love it.
Anyways, we decided upon Raspberry and White Chocolate Cupcakes, which we made twice about a year ago and even though they were a huge success, we didn't make them again for some reason.
I don't recall where I got this recipe from but I know I googled it at the time and I think it could have come from the BBC Food site. Sorry if that's not hugely helpful but such is life!

Raspberry and White Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 200g Self Raising Flour, sieved.
  • 200g Caster Sugar
  • 200g Butter, at room temperature
  • 4 Eggs, at room temperature
  • Half a teaspoon Baking Powder
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Half a teaspoon Vanilla Essence
  • 150g Raspberries
  • 100g White Chocolate
For the Butter Icing, you'll need:
  • 150g Icing Sugar
  • 75g Soft Butter, soft at room temperature
  • 50g Raspberries
  • Chocolate shaving/Raspberries to decorate

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius and line bun tin with cupcake cases.
  2. Chop the chocolate into very small cubes and coat in a little flour (they hold onto their shape a little better this way when in the mixture and baked). 
  3. Put all the cupcake ingredients except the chocolate and the raspberries into a bowl and beat with an electric whisk (Woop, Woop!! KitchenAid! Woop!) until you reach a thick, creamy consistency.
  4. Now, with a spoon, gently mix in chocolate and raspberries- try not to break up the raspberries too much. 
  5. Using two spoons or a spoon and a knife, spoon mixture into cases, put into the middle of the oven and bake for 20 mins. Lick the spoon and/or bowl in the manner of a small child. Then, conveniently find something really important to do while your other half starts the clean up.
  6. When cooked, remove from the tin and allow to cool (they should be golden brown, but if you're unsure if they're done or not, you can test them with a skewer or a knife- it should come out clean. If the skewer is wet it means they're not fully done yet..that rhymes, huzzah!)
  7. To make the icing for these, you mix the soft butter and icing sugar until blended together, add the raspberries and stir gently until the icing turns pink (we used the KitchenAid for this part too, so basically not gently at all but it got the job done super fast!).
  8. Spoon onto the cupcakes with the back of a dessert spoon (if, like us, you have failed to invest in an icing piper). You can add chocolate shavings, raspberries, sprinkles or any other decoration you'd like.
  9. Store in an airtight container or cover with cling film to keep fresh for longer.
  10. Sit back smugly and enjoy as the compliments flood in.

Mmm. Cakey goodness. For some reason I completely neglected to take a photo of these post decoration, so you'll just have to trust me that they looked great but more importantly, were completely delish. I realised today when I was writing this that we had a couple left over that didn't make it to the Christening, (as we ran out of raspberries for the tops of them) so here they are, with the addition of some percy pigs on top:

                                                                       Nom nom nom.

Nail Polish Haul!! Ciate, Rimmel, Sally Hansen and OPI.

Oh the lure of the nail polish is never far away..
I picked up these little lovelies in Dundrum last week but as I hadn't had a chance to remove my Everlasting OPI polish I had put on for the old nuptials (which drove me slightly INSANE by the way, it caught on everything and some nails were chipped and my nails looked like they'd grown a crazy amount so the polish was MILES down the nail bed..AARGH!! Yes, I know- First world problem) so I was looking forward to painting my nails after my appointment to have it removed and wearing a colour that is not a pastel blue, as much as I love it. Unfortunately my nails are in bits from the Everlasting polish so I'm using OPI Nail Envy for the next two weeks to get them into good shape for a family wedding and then I shall be breaking out the colour! Here's my little polish haul:

Ciate Paint Pots in Apples and Custard (a beautiful smooth green creme, it reminds me of the colour of vintage enamel tiles in French Cafes) and Twilight (a black base with very fine gold glitter).

Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Cherry Cherry Bang Bang (a rich purple creme, I've been after this for an absolute age!) and Commander in Chic (a nude/beige creme).

Rimmel Stronger Double Duty Base Coat, Pro Super Wear Ultra Shine Top coat and Professional Finish in Trend Spotting (a black cherry shade, potentially a dupe for Chanel's Rouge Noir).

                                                                    OPI Nail Envy
The one that's preventing me from actually swatching any of the above lovelies for you..all in good time! (it's going to kill me having these and not being able to use them! Aargh!) Nail Envy contains Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein and Calcium to strengthen natural nails. Suggested use is two coats to start off with, followed by one coat every other day. Fingers crossed (ha) it does the job!

Friday 17 August 2012

Spendy McSpenderson is officially my new name..

So yeah, we got home from the old Honeymoon and went for coffee with friends who've just had a baby, which was lovely. You would think that experience would rub off on me (perhaps through osmosis) and that I would become more responsible somehow (unlikely as I'm around new born babies all the time in work anyway)'d be wrong. After coffee, Hubster and I irresponsibly went shopping! Yay! (probably not Hubster's mental reaction in fairness. I did have vouchers I had to use up though, so don't judge me too harshly!). These are the spoils of said shopping trip:

You know when you find the exact item you're looking for, directly in front of you when you enter a shop, try it on and it's perfect? That's what happened here. I like to think the Gods of Shopping were smiling upon me when I found this blazer. It's from Topshop, rolled up sleeves (but not in a Miami Vice kinda way), black with a pale pink lining, perfect fit and it has pockets. Good times.

Isn't this key print scarf amazing?! It's really long too which is great and is neutral enough in colour that it goes with most things. The necklace is a mixture of 3 chunky gold chains, with pearls. It also goes quite well with most things as it's quite casual but still adds something to an outfit. Both of these are from Carousel on Exchequer St, although the necklace is made by people called "Coco Banana", which left me singing "Copacabana" for days afterwards..and now it's in your head too.

This necklace (cause I really needed to buy a second one) is from Monsoon. I was actually looking for the matching bracelet to this, which I had seen a friend of mine wearing, but they were sold out, so I bought this little lovely instead. Pretty.

Clearly I felt my left hand wasn't blingy enough so I counteracted that by getting this amazing sparkly bunny ring, again, from Monsoon. Very cute.
On the same day I also picked up the Chanel illusion D'Ombre shadow in Abstraction, which you can read about here and the Clarins 3 dot liner, which I'll review once I've used it a couple more times. A great day for shopping, topped off by a huge burger, chips and a banana malt (which I'm clutching for dear life there in the bunny ring photo). 
Nom nom nom.
P.s The following day I bought a load of nail polishes in the pharmacy when I was "buying nurofen" (I actually was buying nurofen but my primary goal was to find a particular Sally Hansen shade, which I did, amongst others. So expect a post in the not too distant future on that! Hurrah!)

Wednesday 15 August 2012

The Wedding post!!

I thought I would share a few photos from my wedding day, just of the dress and accessories- I don't think it would be fair to splash my loved ones across my blog!
Here are some of my favourite non-hubster and non-family shots of the day:

     (pearl clutch bag from Butterfly in Killarney, J'adore- my wedding day perfume..)

                                        (..earrings, a beautiful present from Hubster)

           (my "something blue" polka dot heels from THEM!!)

(my veil, hand made by the lovely Caroline from Dirty Fabulous on Wicklow St..The brooch was my own find)

           (our rings- clearly not taken on the day- no jeans were worn! Blue nails to match my shoes!)

(the rather amazing handkerchiefs as made by my sister-in-law and her sister, so thoughtful. Her Sister has her own business making beautiful things like this, which make lovely, personal gifts. You can check her out on her facebook page: The Ginger Bee)

                                      (the beautiful bridal comb from my sister)

(our lego cake toppers- I get a nurse's hat/veil and you'll just have to trust me that Hubster's lego man IS the spitting image of him!!)

(cake toppers in action on our yummy cake-layers of chocolate biscuit cake, lemon drizzle, chocolate ganache and carrot nom nom nom)

                                                     (my beautiful bouquet)

                               (bouquet, handkerchief, veil and earrings in action!)

              (and the own little piece of 1950's heaven. Love this dress far too much)

Hope you enjoyed a very small sneak peak into our amazing day! A special thanks should go to my sister and sister-in-law who took the majority of these photos, which I then robbed from Facebook! We won't get our professional photos back for a couple of months but even if we never did I truly love the shots my family and friends took, some serious photographic talent there I feel!xx

(I just said I'd sneak this one in as it's one of my favourites of the day- hubster and I walking in the sunshine up Dawson St..such a fab day! :)