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Tuesday 29 December 2015

My Get-Party-Ready Tan Routine

As I've mentioned before, I am a total tanning re-convert. If that makes no sense, let me reiterate. Back in my teen years and early twenties I wore a lot of tan. Back then, it smelt awful and I probably looked a state and thankfully a lot has changed since then. For one, you don't have to spend a small fortune on your tan to get a high quality result. I rarely if ever spend more than a tenner on a fake tan now because I've tried them all and I know the good from the bad. I also have my tanning routine down to a fine art. 
So, here it is, prepare yisser selves! And as it's party season, there's no better time to perfect your own tanning routine! I have daily steps listed to bring you from today right up to New Years Eve on Thursday!

1. So first up, I exfoliate the bejaysus out of myself. I'll be doing this part today as I generally do this the day before I tan so my skin is smooth and calm by the main event.
I'm always trying new exfoliators so in my shower at the minute are; Soap & Glory Sugar Crush Body Scrub. This is a brand new tub cause I'm using up another as we speak but this fella is a well known classic so you probably don't need a run down but here goes; it smells incredible and is a nifty little body scrub. I would eat it if I could but my brain has a built in life-preserver so here we are.
Next up is The Body Shop Coconut scrub. I've used several different Body Shop scrubs and they're all excellent. Generally they all smell wonderful and contain fair trade ingredients so you're on to a winner. Lastly, I'm loving this scrub from Kiehls. I'm a big fan of the brand and this has a gloriously comforting scent. It's more like a shower cream that has a very fine exfoliator in it so it's a pleasure to use and it smells vaguely like holidays which is always lovely. I usually dry exfoliate first; this means I apply the scrub to dry skin first with a circular motion, then wash it off while using a circular motion again. I also do any shaving that I need to during this shower.

2. I lightly moisturise
By this I mean I use a light body lotion, again I'll be doing this today. I want my skin to be moisturised after the exfoliating but I don't want so much moisture that it leaves a residue and causes streaks when I apply the tan. So, at the minute I'm using this body lotion from Victorias Secret, which is lovely and smells delightful. It adds enough comfort to my skin so that it's no longer dry and itchy but not so much that I feel greasy. Yay for not feeling greasy!
A long term favourite is the Ginger Rush Body Cream from Origins. Although this has a light texture, it's still deeply moisturising and it smells unbelievable!

3. Tan! Tan! Tan! 
So you have loads of options here but I promised a bargainous post, so:
At the minute I'm loving St. Moriz. Truth be told I never tried this brand until a couple of months ago I was sent these to try and I was pleasantly surprised. These are really, really good. My absolute favourite is the Instant Self Tanning Lotion in Medium. It says Instant but it also says to leave it for 4-6 hours so I leave it overnight. It has a guide colour so you can see exactly where you're putting it, I've never had a streak from it and it smells lovely. 
As it develops, there is a hint of a fake tan scent but apparently it's not that obvious because the first time I used it my husband said "did you put tan on last night? You look tanned but there's no smell". If a man notices, you know you're on to a good thing.
Also in the range are the Instant Self Tanning Mousse and the Instant Self Tanning Mist. I really like the mousse but feel I have less control with the mist. Either way, your end result is a natural bronzed glow- no orange tones here. If I want to be a bit darker, I put two coat on the night before. Otherwise, just the one. I'll be doing that tomorrow night.

4. Extra bronze & sparkle.
This isn't a necessary step but if I wake up on Thursday morning and feel like I was too light handed with the overnight tan, there's Rimmel Sun Shimmer Instant Tan.
This is the matte version but you can get it in shimmer too. I've been using this one since I was a teenager and it's pretty much fool-proof. Plus it has a lovely scent that makes me reminisce about going out back in the day in ridiculous get-ups that you need the confidence of youth to pull off. 
I'm also liking this Instant Tan Bronzing Gel in Shimmer from Cocoa Brown. This product came out just a few months back and comes in a matte version too.
Lastly, I usually add a bit of powder bronzer to my clavicle and neck and then up onto my face for cheekbones to die for. I love the Charlotte Tilbury Bronze and Glow but it's a bit too light for when I have tan on so there's also bronzers from; St Moriz, Chanel, and Florimar.

So that's that. Have you tried any of the products I've mentioned? What's your preferred tanning method?

*This is not a sponsored post but does feature some products I was sent for review. All opinions are my own, as always! 

Sunday 20 December 2015

A Pre Christmas Fashion Haul With SheIn!

I was very lucky last month and won a giveaway from fellow blogger Martina, of Martina's Mark. I love this lady's style- she's seriously glamorous and always puts the perfect outfit together so I was delighted to try some pieces from one of Martina's favourite online stores, SheIn. I had $120 to work with and by God, did I work with it. 

I'm just going to show you these via photos from the site itself because I am not a fashion blogger and if I tried to pose wearing any of these then this would be a comedy piece.

I love this white mohair and lace jumper, $21.97. 
It's wonderfully festive but oh so pretty at the same time. It's a snug fit and has a bit of a 50's-style-Christmas feel to it, especially when tucked into a big circle skirt.

I had seen these shoes on Martina's blog and swooned a little bit so I was delighted to find they were still in stock. The Red Bow Slingbacks were only $31.93 and are as beautiful in real life as they are here. Unfortunately, my feet are slightly on the wide side and these are definitely made with a slimmer foot in mind- something to bear in mind if you were considering making a purchase yourself. 

This year my love for midi length/knee length flared skirts took on a life of its own. I've worn a floral version from Oasis to death and was very happy to see the big range of skirts SheIn have. I went for this very cool Monochrome stripe that again, is great with a top tucked into it. This was $14.76.

Next up is this Red Cable Knit Cowl Neck Sweater, $21.97. 
I've already worn this to death since it arrived; it's ridiculously cosy but not too warm and it's not scratchy like a lot of jumpers. It's a neat little fit so it look as cute worn with jeans as it does over a dress or short skirt. LOVE IT. It may be less wearable in the months of the year that don't involve Christmas but I can see myself still throwing it on in March, considering I can't stop wearing it now.

I had to get this black lace collar top, $12.88 because look how elegant it is! I've been wearing it exactly as shown; underneath a skirt with my hair up so that you get the full affect of that lace. It's so pretty and is making me wish I'd bought it in every possible colour!

Lastly is this Black Flare Pleated Midi Skirt, $20.00. This style of skirt is very versatile and the fact that this is black means that it goes with pretty much everything. When people talk about "wardrobe staples", it's things like this that I think of.

There were also a pair of earrings in my order but they're part of a Christmas present for someone so I can't show them to you!
Delivery was quite good and there were no taxes to pay on arrival, which I was worried about as they were coming from outside of the EU.

Have you tried anything from SheIn?
Anything here you're tempted by?

Monday 14 December 2015

Book Gift Guide Christmas 2015

I'm pretty much avoiding writing gift guides in general this year (unless you count THIS one but that's a gift guide for myself, so…) but I always do a book gift guide because as I've often mentioned, I think books make the best presents. You still have about two weeks to buy your Christmas presents and as books don't really sell out, you have plenty of time to get this lot!
I haven't read all of these so you can't blame me if they're not all the bees knees but there's bound to be some good'uns in there! 
Clicking on the book titles will bring you directly to their listing on The Book Depository but you may be stuck now with Christmas delivery times so I'd say check out and support your local bookstores instead! 

For Those With A Penchant For Just Plain Old Damn Good Fiction:
These cover several different sub sets of literary genres so pick and choose yourself from Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Thriller, Short Story, Dystopia, Love Story and Epic Tales. I've only read one of these (Asking For It) but have bought a couple as presents, knowing they'll be good reads.

Fates And Furies by Lauren Goff, 
Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume, 
Asking For It by Louise O' Neill, 
The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham, 
According To Yes by Dawn French, 
A Spool Of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler, 
The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood, 
The Grownup By Gillian Flynn and 
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

For Those Who Love A Juicy Memoir:
I'm one of the those in this case. I love a good autobiography, generally I save my Audible credits for them as the author usually reads them themselves but it's hard to compete with a heavy, glossy hardback under the tree, am I right?!

Wildflower by Drew Barrymore. This is one I've asked for myself, it looks like a really interesting glimpse into her unusual childhood and how she found herself and her career in her late twenties.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling. I've read this one and enjoyed it. It didn't have the same oomf to it as her first memoir but it's certainly enjoyable with a few life lessons to be learnt amongst Mindy's trademark self-deprrecating wit.

Spectacles by Sue Perkins. I love Sue and haven't read this one yet but it looks interesting!

Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming. One of the best books I read over the last year, unexpectedly fascinating and poignant in equal measure.

What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey. This is more words of wisdom from Oprah, rather than a memoir but sure, who doesn't want to learn from the best?!

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. Almost a how to guide on how to learn to ask for help and accept it when it's given to you. Amanda Palmer is just an interesting human anyway, I'd be intrigued by anything she wrote to be honest.

For The Cooking & Baking Fanatic:
You can't really go wrong with a cookbook, everyone loves food!

The Virtuous Tart by Susan Jane White. Following on from the success of her first book The Extra Virgin Kitchen, this looks at how to get a health kick from the sweet indulgences in your life.

Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward. I've bought this and Happy Pear by David and Stephen Flynn during the year for loved ones. Both have delicious recipes for those who are a bit more health conscious.

For the Adult Colourer-in:
Colouring books became HUGE in 2015. What was once the favourite of five year olds is now deployed by grown-ups as a form of mindfulness and is actually a great way to unwind after a long day. Know someone who's a bit stressed? Get them a colouring book and some pencils!

Secret Garden by Johanna Basford. This is currently the bestseller and is rather beautiful.

Vogue Colouring Book by Iain R. Webb. For the fashionista in your life.
Harry Potter Colouring Book by Warner Brothers. Fans of Harry will love you forever for this one.

For Beauty Lovers:

Your Beauty Mark by Dita Von Teese. I've never been huge fan of Dita (I don't dislike her either, I'm indifferent really) but I do appreciate her style, which is wonderfully old Hollywood glamour.

About Face by Aisling McDermott and Laura Kennedy. beauty experts Aisling and Laura have written this manual of beauty tips and I for one am very eager to read it!

Facepaint: The Story of Makeup by Lisa Eldridge. If I had even a fraction of Lisa Eldridge's beauty know-how I'd be happy, hopefully this book will give its readers some of that!

What's on your book wish-list this year?

Friday 4 December 2015

The Power Of Make Up

I've thought about this particular topic before but this week two things brought it to the fore of my mind again. One is that I'm back in hospital and two is that I had a listen to The Women's Podcast with Marian Keyes, Aisling McDermott and Laura Kennedy on The Irish Times website (HERE).
The podcast focuses on the restorative power of make-up to help lift you from your lowest ebb during times of personal stress; illness, both physical and mental and in Laura Kennedy's case, caring for a family member with a terminal illness.

I became quite unwell in my mid-twenties and without sounding overly dramatic, it was looking pretty grim for me until I got a last minute reprieve and a double lung transplant. I generally don't talk about this much because, like Aisling mentioned, I want to be seen as more than my medical history. However, all three podcast speakers touched on something that resonated with me.
 Putting on your make-up or even just something as simple as applying your moisturiser can be important because it's doing something for yourself. Marian Keyes in particular mentioned that for her 'make-up is an act of self-respect that may seem frivolous but is quite profound'.
You're providing self-care at a time when you may not be able to do much more than that for yourself. Before my transplant I was physically quite weak but when I could I'd put on a little mascara, sort out my eyebrows, add a bit of concealer and some lip balm. 
It was usually commented on by a doctor and/or a nurse and almost always in a tone of "sure haven't you more to be worrying about now than putting on your make-up", which annoyed me and I felt, was designed to belittle me. They failed to understand that what looked like a shallow act was actually me clutching at some sense of ownership and control over my own body.
This is by no means a new concept for me either, when I really thought about it I recalled doing manicures for the female residents of the nursing home I volunteered in when I was younger and the curlers I used to pop in for elderly ladies I've nursed in the past. The little things all add up and maybe there is something to be said for the concept of putting on your 'warpaint' too.
Of course there are also days where it's completely acceptable and normal to not lift your head from its pillow but I think it's important to recognise that when you do want to spend some time on the aesthetics, that's OK too!

Make-up is seen as superficial and a bit pointless for some and that's fine.
Personally though, it's something I enjoy and yes, it's helped me to feel more like me, at times when I had very little of myself left.
So I'm now in a similar position once again of being in hospital and hating every minute of it (although I really have no right to feel sorry for myself after listening to that podcast) but I am, yet again, turning to make-up for solace. 
My husband bought me this years LancĂ´me beauty advent calendar and so every day I'm in here I can open a new door to a shiny little cosmetic treat and I feel that little bit better. I'm trying a sample of a new-to-me moisturiser from Clinique that is wonderful and in the mornings I fix my brows, put on a coat of mascara, a spritz of YSL Black Opium and a slick of my Tony Moly peach lip balm and then fall back into bed again. I've done enough to feel a bit more Chloe than I was prior to that. I may also be doing a frankly worrying amount of online beauty shopping too but you know, that's helping as well so why not. 

I found the podcast to be really insightful and might be worth having a listen to if you're in a similar situation.
I'll also be picking up About Face when I get a chance; a glorious looking beauty companion from Aisling and Laura that's out now and looks like the perfect book for beauty lovers everywhere!

I haven't written this for sympathy (because I really don't need or want it, thank you all the same), I just think it's an interesting discussion and if you'd like to join in, please do! 

Sunday 29 November 2015

A Gift Guide…For Myself

Yeah, you read that right. It's been a particularly crap year and I'm currently in hospital (as a patient, not as a nurse unfortunately), so I've decided to amuse myself by compiling a list of very fancy beauty gifts that I would like and hopefully with your help, I can narrow down what I should get as a treat for myself.
Because I'm worth it.
*cue hair swish*

First up is the much sought after Charlotte Tilbury Book of Makeup Magic advent calendar. It's horrendously expensive at €195 but if you're looking for luxury, you won't get much better than this. I'm not a huge fan of the CT skincare products (aside from the moisturiser, which is nice but not worth 90 quid or whatever it is) and there are a few of those in there alright but there's also lipstick, eyeshadow, a lipliner and an eyeliner, none of which I have tried. Following a Twitter chat last night with the lovely Lorraine from John It's only Make Up!, I'm thinking I'd probably be happier with just one of her gorgeous lipsticks. I've tried none of them and they all look divine but I am leaning towards Amazing Grace (thanks again, Lorraine!), Red Carpet Red and Love Liberty.
 Let me know in the comments what your favourite CT lipstick shade is, I need inspiration! Of course, if I did that, I wouldn't have the daily joy that only an advent calendar can bring! Decisions!

Next, we have the Victoria Beckham for Nails Inc Judo Red and Bamboo White Nail Polishes. These are €45. I tried the Bamboo White in store and it's lovely. These have a nice lux feel to them and the shades are classics. Very tempting but I do own a LARGE amount of nail polish as it is.

Every year I tell myself I'm going to get this Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Collection but every year I for some reason don't. Maybe it's the €58 price tag. Eeeeeep. These are eyeshadow sticks in 6 different shades of mattes and metallics. I feel like these would revolutionise the process of applying eye make up which at present, feels like a tedious chore on a day-to-day basis. Without it though I somehow look like a combination of a sick child and a very weary pensioner. 

I haven't bought anything from Estee Lauder in years but this is just a make-up lovers dream. Look at how gorgeous those lipsticks look! This is the Be Envied Pure Colour Envy Sculpting Lipstick Collection Limited Edition Christmas Set. I'm actually tired from typing that. Anyway, these are only travel sizes but are €44 so that does make me question how good value this is..might be worth seeing these in person first!


Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette for Holiday 2015

In the style of the X Factor, I'm throwing in one last one. This has been in the back of my brain for a few months now and as much as I want it, the price tag of £65 is slightly off putting. 
Hear me out. 
I own NO Hourglass products, which is kind of a disgrace really. 
Secondly, I'm old and haggard and so I need products that can cast a glorious candlelit glow across my tired visage. 
Thirdly, I want it, it's pretty.
I also re-read Temptalia's review on it and she seemed less than impressed so I'm now thinking maybe a single powder would be more cost effective.

What say ye?

What I really want to know is (are you gonna go my way?!) which of these should I buy? Which do you own and why should I also own them?
Thanks lovelies!

Friday 27 November 2015

Let's Stop Comparing Women, For The Sake Of My Sanity

I haven't ranted about anything for a good while now but that's not to say there hasn't been plenty of things bothering me. First up, is this particular meme that has been doing the rounds lately, mostly on the Instagram accounts of beauty bloggers. 

While I'm generally of the opinion that people can post whatever the hell they want on their own social media (and if you don't like it, unfollow!), I've noticed that so many people I follow and am friends with have been passing this particular one around that I can't even ignore it anymore. It annoys me.

Here's why.
The media just LOVES pitting women against other women and does so regularly with magazines and newspapers devoting column inches to "who wore it better" segments (read about Amy Schumer's disgust at this HERE) but at least those are straight up blatant in what they're doing. They are literally comparing and contrasting the appearance of women. 
In the general scheme of things, this isn't the biggest issue in the world right now but it contributes to the objectification of women; often by other women and young girls, to view each other as only the sum of their parts and nothing more. That is dangerous and doesn't acknowledge anything about that particular woman beyond the very superficial- how she looks next to other women. 

On to the Princess Diana meme though. This surprisingly isn't the work of the Daily Mail but seems to have spawned from the depths of the Internet. Probably Tumblr or such like. 
Firstly let me say this; I am not a fan of the Kardashian/Jenners. I know little about them as I've never seen their TV show, I don't click into (the many) articles about them and I don't read magazines so I have successfully managed to avoid them for the most part. 
Having said that, I also have no desire to denigrate them. 
It often feels like a woman in the spotlight has to represent her entire sex, not just herself. How many "In a world full of Kanyes, be Prince William" memes have you seen? None? That's not surprising. Men aren't held up to the same standard that women are and are never expected to be the absolute best man they can be at all times. 
Fine, the Kardashians might not be considered to be the greatest role models for young women but why express that by remarking on their failure to be a dead princess? It makes no sense. 
This is also similarly vexing:


and elicited this epic response from journalist and feminist Lindy West:


Why do these two women need to be compared? They are famous for very different things. The life of one should have no impact on the other. Amazingly, women can choose to read about or look up to or admire or ignore a whole multitude of women and men, depending on their personal preference. Sharing things like this online is just perpetuating the belief that women have to be deemed to be perfect by some arbitrary system of judgement for them to deserve public attention and admiration. 
Even if you agree with the opinion that more focus should be placed on Malala Yousafzai instead of Kylie Jenner, what can be achieved by pointing this out? Are you going to make people consume less reality TV and pick up Malala's autobiography instead? I find that to be a bit misguided and bringing one woman down to raise up another is a pretty negative concept when you really think about it.

Lastly, there are plenty of people who like the Kardashian/Jenners and enjoy being entertained by their lives and that's fine too. Why should you care either way? There's a place for everyone and as the mighty Amy Poehler says:

What do you think?
Do you agree with these memes? If you think I'm way off base here and am missing a hidden message of positivity then do let me know in the comments!

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Unique Christmas Present Ideas With!

For the last couple of years my sister-in-law has made us a calendar from for the year ahead using some of our favourite photos. It's a really lovely, personal gift that we always appreciate- it's something you can actually use and be reminded of happy times simultaneously!
I was delighted then when I was asked if I'd like to try out the website for the blog and immediately took up the offer to pick out some things myself! I'm not gonna lie, there's a lot of options to choose from and I got a bit flustered trying to decide but I had himself on hand and together we came up with these:

I'm an Instagram addict so it's really no surprise that the Retro Prints were high on my want-list and they did not disappoint. Your photo is printed onto textured paper with a varnish gloss added over the top and a black photo negative on the back of the print for that Polaroid feeling! Speaking of Polaroid, look at the case they come in! Love it! You can choose between 12, 24 or 36 prints.

I went for 12 but I can easily see myself getting more. We decided to go for photos strictly from our recent trip to the states and although I haven't displayed them very well here, once I find the perfect twine and mini close pegs, they'll be livening up a very boring wall in our bedroom. 
I think it's going to be so lovely to wake up every day to some of our most treasured holiday memories and the fact that they're printed like this makes them that bit more special.

Another thing that I love about these is the option to add your own text to your print, as you would with a real polaroid too (except that you can choose your own font here)! 
If you can't decide what you want to write at the time of ordering (if it's a gift for someone else for instance) then you can add your message later on at home too. Clever eh?

Also great is that the retro prints are eco-friendly. They're non-toxic, recyclable and the production process contains no volatile compounds like traditional photo printing systems do. Bonus!

I really love these. I have fond memories of my family having a Polaroid camera when I was a little'un and this is like that but much cheaper. 
12 prints set me back €12.99 only. For that, I have a lovely decoration and I think something like this would make a fantastic birthday, Christmas or anniversary present.

And speaking of presents, I thought a personalised mug would be a fun gift for my Mum for Christmas this year. That's me there in New Hampshire, loving life, surrounded by all the gorgeous scenery. The photo came out crystal clear and is printed on one side only with an option for a personalised message on the other:

You could really do anything you wanted with this. I'd also suggest it as a Secret Santa gift as it's fun and would make the recipient smile every time they had their cup of tea in the morning! At only €7 too, it's not going to break the bank. 

Lastly then is this photo himself took on our New England road trip. This was one of my favourite photos from that holiday and we thought it'd look spectacular on a larger scale. I can't even tell you how mesmerised I was by the Autumn leaves over there; the colours are just outstanding and I love the contrast of that red/pink/orange against the blue sky. Again, the clarity in the print is perfect too. 

We went for a wrap canvas which means the edges are part of the print, which looks great. This is a Canvas Lite, 61cm x 40.6 cm. I'd say it's an average size; it's big enough to make an impression but not so big that it takes over a wall entirely if that makes sense! 
There's loads of sizes and shapes available though so you'll be spoilt for choice. I do really like the idea of creating a wall of these with different canvas sizes, it's very Pinteresty but always looks so cool!
We love this canvas, like its retro print friends it'll be going up in our bedroom and will add a nice flash of colour to an otherwise bland cream wall. This is your ideal gift for a loved one I think; pick out their favourite family, wedding or celebratory photo, a shot of their kids or pets and get it masterfully recreated onto a canvas print. Perfect! 

Overall I thought our order was pretty cost effective. I was given credit by the company to try some of the products for myself but I ended up spending my own money too, purely because I wanted more! The original cost of delivery was pricey because the canvas was coming from outside of the EU but there was also a pretty generous discount on the site the same day (30% off orders over €40-that's over tomorrow!) so we saved a lot. I'd say to keep an eye out on the site for discounts as they do seem to be quite generous. There's Black Friday offers on at the moment too that finish tomorrow so definitely a good idea to check it out now if you're interested! 

If you're eager for more gift ideas like this, you should really check out the site, HERE. You can personalise cards, diaries, cushions, snow globes, key rings, Christmas tree baubles, coasters, mouse mats, placemats, fridge magnets, teddy bears, iPhone and iPad cases and even create your own jigsaw!

This post was just to give you an idea of what they do but have you tried anything from Photobox yourself? 
Anything here catching your eye?

*this is not a sponsored post but some items were provided for the purpose of reviewing the website. All opinions my own, as always!

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Tony Moly: Mini Brand Focus

Tony Moly is a Korean beauty brand, known for their ridiculously cute packaging and fun colours. I've lusted after the adorable products for a really long time now cause if there's anything I love it's a bit of kitsch.

Tony Moly

These were all picked up in that very dangerous mini's aisle of Sephora near the till. I'm a terror for mini sizes of anything, they're immediately more desirable purely because of their size and sure lip balms in the shape of fruit are practically necessities anyway. Ahem.

The Cherry Balm smells a bit like sweets (ideal for a Haribo addict, such as myself) while the Peach Balm is like a Bellini in moisturising form (also ideal for a Bellini lover, such as myself) and are lovely on the lips (they're designed to soften and plump). The Cherry Balm has a tint but it's quite light, definitely not an alternative to a lip stain or lipstick while the peach translates as clear/pink on. My lips did feel nicely soft after using them both- these are very nice balms indeed.

Tony Moly

Where these really shine is on the packaging front however, from that shiny cherry with its pliable stalk to that smooth peach groove; these are make-up-bag eye candy, let's be fair. 
Both were 10 dollars each and if I could get the whole range of fruit shaped products, I probably would!

Tony Moly

What was actually not worth my hard earned shekels at all was the Panda's Dream Brightening Eye Base, $12. This is an eye serum base in stick form with brightening peptides to illuminate the skin around the eyes. It smells lovely and makes a nice smooth base once it's blended but I can't say I've noticed a huge difference from using it compared to not using it.

Tony Moly

In conclusion (thanks, Leaving Cert English), these are very cute products and are nice to use but probably not worth going out of your way to get, unless you're as mad into a novelty as I am!

Have you tried anything from Tony Moly?

Thursday 12 November 2015

Nivea Daily Essentials Cleansing Collection; Micellar Water & Eye Make-Up Remover

New from Nivea is the Daily Essentials Cleansing Collection. It offers products for different skin types; normal, dry, combination and sensitive. I've been trying out the Sensitive 3 in 1 Micellar Cleansing Water and the Double Effect Eye Make-Up Remover and here's how I got on:

Nivea Daily Essentials Cleansing Collection; Micellar Water & Eye Make-Up Remover

Daily Essentials Sensitive 3 in 1 Micellar Cleansing Water 
This is one of the better Micellar waters I've tried. I'd liken it to Bioderma actually, which is my favourite. This removes all of my make-up with no residual drying or tightening of the skin, which is a relief to be honest. I've tried a couple in the past that felt like paint stripper but this is so gentle; it says 'sensitive' and it means it! Even though it's a mild cleanser, it's still very effective. 
As per Nivea:
An innovative formula which cleanses and removes make-up from the face and eyes while moisturising the skin in one step. It respects the skin's natural balance, requires no rinsing and is free of perfumes, colorants and parabens. 
This is €5.49 for 200ml. While I can use it to remove my eye make up, if I have anything more than a bit of eyeliner and mascara, I use the dedicated eye make up remover in the range.

Daily Essentials Double Effect Eye Make-Up Remover
This is for all skin types and suitable for contact lens wearers. It's one of those cool bi-phase oil/water formulas that you have to shake before using. The oil part is designed to break down waterproof mascara and eye make up without irritating all that sensitive thin skin around your eye while the water part is formulated to protect and care for your lashes without leaving any oily residue. Fun fact; it contains cornflower extract which is known for it's anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. This does work very well- it's definitely up there with my favourite eye make--up remover from L'ancome. Like that, it gets the job done without leaving my eyes red or sore except that in this case it's a bare fraction of the price, at only €4.79 for 125mls!!

I've only tried these two products from the range but I'm impressed. Affordable, good quality products, sure you can't go wrong!

Also available from the range are: 
Sensitive Cleansing Milk €4.99
Gentle Exfoliating Scrub for normal/combination skin €6.29
Refreshing facial Wash Gel €4.79
2 in 1 Cleanser & Toner €5.52
Refreshing Cleansing Lotion €4.79
Refreshing Toner €4.79

Available from pharmacies and grocery stores nationwide.

Have you tried anything from the Daily Essentials Cleansing Collection? Were you as impressed as I am?

*This post contains press samples, gratefully received. All opinions my own, as always!

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Recently Read; September & October

All of these were started in September/October but finished in the last few weeks if I'm honest. As you might recall (I'm not sure if I've mentioned it enough times actually…ahem) I was away for three weeks between the last two months and so I've only managed to read a paltry six books during that time. This is in spite of the fact that I brought books specifically to read in different parts of America.
Well you can imagine how well that turned out.
Best laid plans and all that. 

After You by JoJo Moyes
This is the somewhat eagerly awaited sequel to Me Before You. I say 'somewhat' as fans of the aforementioned book really didn't feel it needed a follow-on story. I loved it too and thought it was kind of perfect as a stand-alone novel but sure here we are. After You is about Louisa Clark, a young woman struggling to pull her life together after her paraplegic fiance (and one time employer) chose to end his own life, with her assistance. That happened in the last book.
Louisa is now estranged from her family who can't abide the part she played in the euthanasia. She lives alone in a sparse apartment, drinks far too much and works in a soul-destroying airport bar with zero prospects. After drinking one too many she has an accident that then completely changes her life again.
This has a romantic storyline in it but nothing as consuming as in Me Before You, which is what I think people have had trouble with. I actually did enjoy this book. I felt it provided a really good insight into grief and the process of grieving; a very human experience that often is neglected in popular literature. It was also nice to catch up with not only Louisa but her madcap family and the other very likeable characters form the first book. If you enjoyed Me Before You, I would read this but be aware that it is very different from it's predecessor but is still an enjoyable read.

Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling
I loved Mindy Kaling's first memoir; Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? 
That was a tongue-in-cheek look at her childhood, college years, friendships and the beginning of her career- acting and writing for The Office. She wrote that almost in the style of her character on The Office, Kelly Kapoor or indeed Mindy Lahiri from The Mindy Project, which only added to the humour in my opinion.
Why Not Me? is written in a similar style and picks up from her career breakthrough onwards. She provides tips on how to be a celebrity alongside funny anecdotes and insightful commentary on body image. I have to say though that while I laughed and enjoyed it, there are parts of this that felt a lot like filler content and overall it just wasn't as good as her first book; it felt more rushed. If you're a fan of Mindy, you'll enjoy this, it's a light book and a quick read but don't expect much more than that. 

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This is obviously a complete cheat because this is an essay and I finished it within an hour but I'm including it because it was an interesting piece and I really like Chimamanda's style of writing. The essay is adapted from her TED talk of the same name and seeks to find an answer for what feminism means in today's world.
While she discusses the obvious examples of discrimination against women across the world she also talks about the more insidious behaviours that seek to control and degrade women, drawing on her own experiences in the US and in her native Nigeria.
It's really just a straightforward and intelligent essay on why you should be a feminist. Read it and you won't be able to provide an answer as to why you shouldn't.

Pet Sematary by Stephen King
I had intended to read this while we were in Maine, cause you know, it's Stephen King country but all the trekking about the place, eating lobster and drinking iced tea meant there was little hope of that happening. I did read it for Halloween though and what a perfectly spooky choice! Louis Creed is a doctor from Chicago. He's moving his wife, two kids and cat to Maine with him where he's taking up a new job in the University as head of medical services. They quickly become friends with an elderly couple who live across the road and they settle into their new home, a big old house with lots of land. Jud (the old man across the street) brings them to the "Pet Sematary" in the woods behind their home. He explains that the local children have always buried their pets there and this sparks a discussion about death with the Creed's five year old, Ellie. Rachel, Louis's wife has a major aversion to talking about this after the traumatising death of her sister when she was a child so she finds it all a bit too much. Things don't improve when a student dies horrifically on campus on Louis's first day at work. The real trouble starts when the dead student visits Louis in the middle of the night and brings him to the Pet Sematary...but is it a dream or is there something deeply sinister in the Pet Sematary? You best believe it's the latter. I'm a big King fan but even still, this is a really good horror- it gets seriously scary and there is a constant sense of dread. I was always waiting for the next shock and when I say shock, I mean; heart-pounding, hair-standing-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck, queasy sensation in the pit of your stomach and immediate fear of the dark….and cats.
And yes, sometimes dead is better.

Breakfast At Tiffany's by Truman Capote
I do of course love the Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard 1961 film adaptation of the same name but the book is beautifully written and focuses much more on the tragic poignancy of Holly Golightly's character than the film does, which is actually a love story, unlike the book.
I bought and read this one in New York- the only book in my travelling plan that I actually succeeded in reading whilst there!
In case you haven't seen the film, Holly and an unnamed narrator (Holly nicknames him Fred because he reminds her of her younger brother) are both renting apartments in a brownstone in New York. "Fred" becomes fascinated by Holly's outrageous party girl lifestyle and gradually they become friends with Holly revealing selective details from her unusual life.
This is actually a novella with an additional three short stories, all of which I loved too. I'm annoyed I hadn't read it before because I devoured it, from cover to cover. Such a gorgeous read! Can't recommend this one enough.

The Thrill of it All by Joseph O' Connor
So, alongside my brilliant sister-in-law and our friends, we've set up a book club. This was the first book (chosen from an Irish Times list*) and lord was it the worst possible choice. It's a mock-memoir of the life of an Irish/English rock band; The Ships in the Night and follows their journey from their inception in the 80's, throughout their global domination and up to the present day where the band are now all middle aged and have had varying degrees of success in their solo careers. Although it's very well written, it's let down by how painfully slow it is and also the fact that very little really happens. There are some interesting characters, in particular lead singer Fran, a Vietnamese/Irish orphan with a terrible upbringing. When he meets Rob (our narrator) he's a natural performer with a flamboyant dress sense, musical brilliance and a super quick wit. I loved whenever he was around but even that couldn't save it. Joseph O' Connor is a fine writer but this just did nothing for me (nor anyone else in the book club as it transpired).

*Shakes fist at The Irish Times*

And that's that for the time being. Thankfully, I'm back on my reading buzz so there'll be plenty more next month!
What are you reading at the moment? Have you read any of these?

Thursday 5 November 2015

American Drugstore Haul!

Last week I went through what I bought in Sephora and Ulta (HERE) and today I'm looking at the slightly more affordable bits and pieces I picked up whilst Stateside!

I love a bit of Revlon and their lipsticks in particular; this Super Lustrous Shine in Plum Velour is gonna be an Autumn/Winter winner I think! I really like this Photoready Eye Art Duo also; one end is a cream metallic shade and the other is a glitter liner. Festive party season, here we come! Speaking of perfect Autumn/Winter lipsticks is this Smart Shade Butter Kiss from Almay. They all looked gorgeous but I got the shade Berry.

Burt's Bees is a lot cheaper over there so I got a Wild Cherry Lip balm for about $2 and this Lip Crayon in Napa Vineyard for about $8 ( I think). I love their balms- they're super moisturising, perfect for Winter. The Lip Crayon is surprisingly pigmented but a bit drying, so I'll be combining it with the aforementioned balm! I also picked up a set of four of the balms in lovely flavours and a couple of EOS sphere balms, all to give as gifts, so I won't show them to ye here. I'm mentioning them just to point out how much better value they are over there; the EOS balms were two for $7, far less than what we pay here.

I can however show you this EOS Hand Lotion which was again only a few dollars. This is Berry Blossom; it smells divine and feels super moisturising.

I also wanted to try a drugstore foundation and CoverGirl seemed like an obvious choice. This is a hydrating foundation, perfect for dry skin. This is actually really nice on but you need to add a bit of glow yourself as the foundation is a bit on the flat side. Still, very good quality for $6.

Ulta had a massive NYX stand and being honest, I've never actually found a properly stocked stand at home. It was a struggle just to decide on the two things but I plumped for a High Definition Blush in Taupe (which is always out of stock in Dublin) and a Gel Pencil Liner in Brown, because I'm obsessed with smudgy brown liners at the minute.

Speaking of brown liners, I really liked the look of this brand, Flower in Walmart. It turns out that it's actually Drew Barrymore's company and having bought this Kohl Liner in Espresso and Blush/Bronze Duo in Gloriously Golden, I kind of wish I'd bought more!

I had this Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser for Dark Circles and struggled to find it over there. I have the regular concealer of this- this one is a brightener/illuminator and only available in America.

I hadn't seen these L'Oreal Visible Lift Blur Blushes over here so I said I may as well try one. I got it in Soft Peach

I really like this Essie Autumn/Winter collection so I went for a beautiful dark plum shade, In The Lobby.

I found a full ELF stand but there was nothing I really wanted other than a few brushes, so I picked up a fan brush, an eyeshadow brush and a Blending Eye Brush. They were all 1-2 dollars each.

Lastly, is this ridiculously cute mini pot of Vaseline Rosy Lips, which, if I'm honest, I only bought because of how dotey it is. Squeeee!!!

Let me know if there's any of these that you'd like to see reviewed in more detail!

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Boston: Highlights & Tips!

I shared my New York highlights HERE, now it's Boston's turn! We were only there for a couple of days but as is our way (I say our but really it's down to my husband's remarkable planning skills) we packed in loads! 
We took a train from New York to get there which was comfortable and quick. We stayed in the Hotel Buckminster which was only a ten minute walk from Fenway Park, close to a "T" station (Boston underground) and near to shops, restaurants and bars. The decor of the hotel could probably do with a revamp but it was a comfortable stay and although there's no kitchen services within the hotel, we were given vouchers for breakfast for one of the days to eat in the attached restaurant next door. 

Boston has a very different vibe to New York; obviously the population is a lot less but even still, it's all just a bit calmer. The pace is more relaxed and everything feels a lot…older. Because it is! Boston is a historic city; it's where the American Revolution was plotted. Because of that and its British connections, it feels much more European so it's easy to feel at home. 

Fenway Park
Back to our first day there! After we checked in we headed off to Fenway Park, a 100+ year old baseball stadium and the place to be in Boston when the Red Sox are playing. This was actually a highlight of the trip for us; it was just a wonderfully American experience; hot dogs, cold beer, the national anthem, various baseball chants, dedicated fans and of course; the game itself, which is like a super long-winded version of rounders (so definitely something the Irish can get behind). 
There's an awesome atmosphere at the game; the camera zooms in on the crowd loads and it feels like a community affair with all the little kid Red Sox fans dancing to the music and getting super excited when they see they're on camera! 
Amazingly; there was a proposal on the big screen too! Like being in a sitcom! If you're going to Boston, this is high on the to-do list!

Little Italy
That night we were peckish and had heard great things about Little Italy so we hopped on a T and began the lengthy struggle to try and pick just one restaurant! The area is full of good quality and highly rated places to eat; most of them will be busy and it's hard to find anything to set them apart from each other so in the end we just picked one at random! Thankfully it was lovely but honestly, you could eat in any of them and be happy! The quarter itself is aesthetically quite beautiful; it's old with a lot of the Freedom Trail running through it (I'll get to that later) and the streets are cobbled with nice little shops in lovely buildings. A top tip; skip dessert in whatever restaurant you're in and go and queue in Mike's Pastry. The line will be out the door but it moves fast and it's worth the wait. Their cannoli are famous and it was easy to see why! Delicious and authentic, they were a real treat but if that's not your thing, they have all sorts of cakes and pastries too!

Duck Tour
As we didn't have long in the city we thought a sight-seeing tour was the way to go and it was! While we were shown all of the city's most prominent monuments and learnt lots of history we were also kept entertained by Flo, our very cool driver! There's lots of tours in the city but the official duck tour was great and we obviously got on the water too which was lovely. 

Boston Public Library
After the duck tour we popped into the Boston Public Library, which like the NYPL, is just a stunning feat of architecture and worth a look for the book nerd. There was a Revolutionary war exhibition on there that we had a look at too. 

Freedom Trail & Boston Common.
I'm putting these together because they're all about the walking! The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile self guided walking tour (you can pay for a walking tour but get a map and be grand!), that leads you to 16 historically significant sites via a red-lined brick pavement, so you can't really go wrong! 
Boston Common is actually the oldest park in America and again, has historical significance as well as being a lovely area to get a fresh lemonade (I mention that cause we found a lemonade stall there and it was DAMN GOOD) and wander around happily!

Faneuil Hall & Quincy Market
These are also right beside each other; Faneuil Hall is another very historic building that you'll no doubt see at some stage if you're in the city and Quincy Market is a great spot for getting a quick bite to eat. There's stalls of every possible food imaginable in here as well as jewellery, gifts, some clothing and other knick knacks. The market is also surrounded by lots of nice stores if you're looking for somewhere to shop. We found a super nerdy shop where we were in our element. As in, we bought Jaws slippers and an Archer t-shirt. Good times!

Wrentham Village
Speaking of shopping, I'm including this premium outlet centre in here as it's just a short drive from Boston. It is absolutely huge. I'll leave the link HERE if you want to see all the shops there but highlights for me were Kate Spade (although the manager was quite rude to be honest), All Saints. Ted Baker, The Body Shop, Beauty Outlet Stores and Saks Fifth Avenue Off Fifth. Himself did well here too in some of the athletic stores. You can get some really good discounts and there's places to eat and take a break from the deluge of shops but be careful; we ended up spending way longer here than we expected!

I have no photos of Wrentham Village for you because, well, it's just shops etc. Instead, there's this; I think this photo nicely captures the city and its mix of old and new!

We loved Boston! It was a great stop after the intensity of New York but was still full of life and was a beautiful and historic place to walk around. I'm not sure we would have needed more than the two days there to be honest but that might just be down to himself's Turbo Planning! 

Next Stop; the start of our New England Road Trip!!