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Tuesday 30 June 2015

New Household Additions!

I've procured a nice little collection of new bits and pieces for the house lately so I thought I'd gather them all and pop them up here in case anyone's looking for some decorating ideas. All of these bar one were presents- very grateful for my lovely family and friends!

First up is this rather cool lithograph print from Borders

wizard of oz print

While it may look like a cute print of silhouetted shoes, it's actually comprised of words from a segment of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, but in compact form, framing those famous Ruby slippers:

wizard of oz print

Clever, eh? This is the ideal piece of art for a book lover- I have a plan to create a full wall of mismatching prints and paintings when we have our own house (I'm currently hindered by not being able to put any hooks into the walls, hence why this doesn't have a frame..for the time being!) and this will look great with those. A few of those books underneath it are new too by the way but that'll be a separate post!

Next up are new candles from two different Irish brands. This is A Soft Day; Sweet Rain & Long Grass from Soilse:

Soilse candle

Unsurprisingly, this smells a bit like someone's back garden after a light rain shower in Spring. It's very delicate and fresh and has that unique quality of reminding you of home but you're not quite sure why. All of Soilse's candles are handmade using natural soy wax. You can find out more HERE. I'll be picking up "An Irish Christmas" for, well, Christmas (sorry for mentioning the 'C' word in June). 

Max benjamin candle

I've been a big fan of Max Benjamin candles and scent diffusers for a while now so I was very excited by the range of tea scented candles they brought out last year. You may have received one of these from me as a present if you know me actually because the aroma of tea mixed with a candle seems like a match made in heaven. Earl Grey is one of my favourite teas so this was ideal for me. It has a wonderful smoky, almost masculine scent at times so it's a great alternative to the super sweet Yankee candles (that I also like but need a break from sometimes!). 

jewlerry stand

Here's the one thing that I bought myself. This little jewellery stand was practically calling (chirping?) out to me in Avoca and so it had to come home with me. I think it was around €12. It's great for me as I take off my rings to use hand cream, remove nail polish, put on fake tan etc and I used to often find myself in the unfortunate position of scrambling around looking for said rings as I'd put them down somewhere stupid. Not anymore! I leave them on this and the bird minds them for me. As he does the odd necklace too. 

glasses holder

My husband brought back this hipstery looking owl from a trip to Germany after seeing it and thinking "Chloe's always knocking her glasses off her bedside table! AND she likes cute forrest animals!". I am LITERALLY the easiest person ever to buy for, in spite of, or possibly because of my oddly specific tastes. Anyway, this is the greatest invention of all time. I recently upgraded to these super fancy Dior glasses and they obviously require their own personal holder so Owly* here arrived just in time. 

morrissey tea towel

Lastly but certainly not least is this tea towel of the legend that is Morrissey. Look at him there, all quiffed up. You can find it HERE from with the frankly wonderful description of "Some towels are bigger than others". YESSSSS. 

Bold & Noble have a whole range of famous tea towel faces, including Bowie, Prince ("I only want to see you *drying* in the purple rain"...I mean, come on!!!) and Madonna. I may have to get those too. Can you imagine the epic sing-offs the four of them would have in the kitchen while I slept? It is literally the stuff of dreams. 

That's my lot for the moment! Would any of these make the cut in your own home? Or have you found any other lovely new home stuffs I should be picking up too? To the comments!

 *Yes, he's called Owly. Not exactly the most imaginative but sure it was either that or Jim the Owl, so...

Saturday 27 June 2015

Skin Supplements- 4 On Trial!

As a beauty blogger I get to try lots of fabulous skin and hair care products but as is often mentioned by beauty experts; how healthy you look on the outside is heavily dependant on how healthy you are on the inside. Obviously drinking plenty of water, getting a proper nights sleep, exercise and good nutrition are all important but what happens to those of us who are short on time? We often find ourselves making convenient decisions- picking up fast food for instance, which most likely doesn't contain all of the nutrients our bodies require to function at its most optimal level. I have been making a more concerted effort of late to eat a bit more healthily (I have to, considering I spent three days in Rome last week eating only carbohydrates and gelato…mmm, gelato) but even at that I know I could do with a helping hand sometimes. My body is naturally low in magnesium and iron so I often supplement them anyway and I take vitamin C and Calcium with Vitamin D for immunity and stronger bones but I tend not to focus as much on vitamin supplementation for aesthetic purposes. That is until right NOW!! 
*pause for dramatic effect*

Over the past couple of months I've received this lot from different brands to try out, which I will dutifully do and let you know how I get on as I go. I'll most likely update you on my Facebook page rather than create new posts for each product. 

First up we have Revive Active*, a health food supplement. This contains a 3.3mg daily dose of Thiamine, 500mg daily dose of Vitamin C, 2.5mcg of Vitamin B12, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) ands Selenium. This combination is designed to achieve normal energy levels, support a normal immune system, contribute to the normal function of the heart and help maintain normal skin, hair and nails. My box contains 7 sachets, which is a weeks worth. Recommended intake is one sachet to a glass of 300mls water. It costs less than the price of a cup of coffee per day and has been shown to provide positive results after just one week so I'm hoping for the same! Available from Lloyd's Pharmacy nationwide. This is €17.99 for the 7 day box and €59.95 for the 30 day box (currently reduced).

Next up is Udo's Choice Ultimate Oil Blend*. I'd heard of this before, having seen it in pharmacies but had paid little attention to it until I spoke to a representative from the brand recently. This was created by one Dr Udo Erasmus, PhD, a man who's written several books on the importance of "the right fats"- your Omega 3, 6, 9 and fatty acids. This formula contains all of those oils by using a blend of flax, sesame, sunflower, primrose, rice germ, oat germ and coconut oils.
These are blended organically, unrefined and are suitable for vegetarians, vegans and those who require gluten free. As this is an oil I feel like it's going to be harder to swallow (anyone else have horrible memories of Cod Liver Oil as a child? Bleeeurgh) so I'll be taking a teaspoon of this in a yoghurt or a smoothie.  
The formula uses a ratio of 2:1:1 of Omega 3:6:9, which is the ideal amount for most people's low fat, omega deficient diets. I'm expecting glowing, plump skin and shiny glossy hair from this one and as a side note- it's often used to help with PMT as it contains Evening Primrose Oil. Clever, eh? Again, available form Lloyd's pharmacies nationwide at a cost of €14.99 for 250ml.

From the Boots supplement range I have Beauty From Within- Collagen*, a skin firming formula to help support elasticity and shield the skin against visible signs of ageing. This is one tablet a day and contains 1000mg of fish collagen per tablet. I have a 30 day supply and am looking forward to seeing if these make a huge difference to my skin, which definitely requires a bit more anti-ageing care at the ripe old age of 31! I already have one gripe with these however and that is that they're MASSIVE! I hate taking big old horse pills but in the interest of science *blogging*, I'll give these a go! €24.99, available in stores and online.

Lastly, I have Perfectil Original Triple Active*. This contains Vitamins B2, B3 and Biotin to help maintain normal skin, and Zinc and Selenium to help maintain normal hair and nails. It actually contains lots of other vitamins and minerals but I guess those mentioned are the ones to specifically target those areas. I've tried this before, years ago and quite like them as I recall but I'll actually be taking notes this time to confirm just how effective they are!
This is once a day and it's a 30 day supply, also suitable for vegetarians. Available from most pharmacies nationwide, costing €12.85. 

I'll most likely have to try some of these on their own to get the full effect from them so it could take a while to finish them all but finish I shall! 

Have you tried any of these? Any supplements you're particularly fond of yourself?
You can't beat an auld tonic, wha'?!

*Indicates a press sample. All opinions my own, as always!

Thursday 25 June 2015

When In Rome…(Day 1)

The end of that sentence is obviously; eat ALL the food. Which we did. A week or so ago we jetted off to the Eternal City for three nights to celebrate the annual reminder of my descent into old age. 

I hadn't been to Rome before (having only previously visited Venice and Florence), whereas himself had been three times so we had a good mixture of inexperience and tourist guide-like knowledge to get us through. We arrived quite early and after a bit of kerfuffling with our taxi driver (who had originally agreed to the standard airport fare, then changed her mind on arrival to charge us €15 extra because "it's Sunday" and "you have two bags" sigh. Apparently this is quite common- be warned) we quickly settled into our lovely Airbnb home. 

Our street, our front door, the lovely gift left for us from the owners (if anyone wants the link for where we stayed, let me know!)

The owner had left us wine and fruit to welcome us, along with their bicycles to use around the city and lots of books to read, if we could eh, read Italian, which we sadly could not.

The apartment itself was gorgeous- built in the 17th Century with all mod cons and pretty much right off of the Piazza Navona so we were close to restaurants, tourist spots and most importantly, several local gelaterias *priorities*.

Piazza Navona has three beautiful fountains plus lots of activity from street performers and artists selling their work.

We then went on a quick walk to explore the city and took in the Pantheon, a stunning 2000 year old temple with an open dome, allowing you to gaze up at the sky:

Next, we tried to visit the Trevi fountain, which was unfortunately under construction so instead we got cool drinks (it was a good 30 degrees), sat down on nearby steps and arsed around taking terrible selfies for a while:

So much attractive face squishing.

It was then on to the Spanish steps, which is the place to be apparently and provides a great view from the top:

While we were there we walked through the Via Condotti, Rome's designer shopping street. Prada, Gucci, Fendi, Dior, Armani, Hermes…sigh. I was, however more than content with a small splurge in Kiko (thanks to himself!) and a look around Sephora:

Lots more walking..

Back to the Piazza as the sun was setting..

And dinner!

That, my friends is the end of day one. I'm breaking them up because there's just way too much lovely stuff to cover all in one measly post!

Have you been to Rome?
Did you love it too? Are you off anywhere amazing soon?

Monday 22 June 2015

Bourjois Parisian Summer: For ALL Your Bronzing Needs!

Bourjois are my all time favourite high street cosmetics brand and this Summer they have all sorts of amazing new products at reasonable prices to tempt us. Today I'm showing you four new bronzing products from their Parisian Summer range; Sunlight Elixir Tinted Dry Oil, Mat Illusion Bronzing Powder, Sun Illusion Blur Skin Perfector and BB Bronzing Cream.

bourjois bronzing

Sunlight Elixir is a shimmering, tinted dry oil with an SPF 15. Being a dry oil, it has all the benefits of a regular oil; it's moisturising and adds a healthy sun kissed glow to the skin but because it's a "dry" oil it's also non-greasy and sinks in quickly. Also, it smells INCREDIBLE (actually, all the products in this range do). Like a mixture of coconuts, vanilla and sweet heavenly goodness. This is ideal for those with a tan already or if you're me, a lovely false tan. It enhances what's there and leaves a radiant shimmer that's very Monte Carlo esque. Ideal for Dublin then, wha? This is €16.99. Oh and you can use it on your face too!

bourjois sunlight elixir

Next up is the Mat Illusion Bronzing Powder, designed to smooth the skin, refine the pores and leave a sun-kissed effect. This fella is ideal for those who need anti-shine control and prefer a matte finish to a shimmery bronzer. Although it's part of the Summer range, it's recommended for use all year around. I really like this bronzer; it's super soft, so it's very easily blended and is a perfect shade for us paler folks (I have light glow, it also comes in dark glow). This is €10.49.

Bourjois Mat Illusion Bronzing Powder

The Sun Illusion Blur Skin Perfector has almost a bouncy, mousse-like consistency so it's very light and blends in easily. It has the benefits of a primer in that it evens out, softens and smoothes the complexion but it also leaves a golden glow like a self tanner would. Two-in-one for the win! 
I have the shade dark glow to try out which I was worried would be too unnatural for my skin tone but actually it's very wearable, especially when I have tan on my neck already. 
I brought this to Rome to try out while I was amongst all the beautifully tanned Italians and loved the soft glow it gave me underneath my foundation. I wouldn't say I looked quite as bronzed as the locals but it certainly made me feel more confident! I would liken this to the Clarins Instant Smooth Golden Glow- both provide a bronzing primer effect but this one is obviously much more affordable at €11.99.

Bourjois Sun Illusion Blur Skin Perfector

Lastly we have the BB Bronzing cream, an 8 in 1 to provide a flawless and natural looking tan. You're probably wondering what the 8 are, yes? Well, you've got:

1. Golden glow effect 2. Even skin tone 3. Radiance
4. 24 hour hydration 5. Tan enhancement 6. Fresh effect
7. SPF 15 and 8. High resistance.

I have this in light glow (it again comes in dark glow) and is a good match for my skin tone. The formula is super light, you'd hardly know it's on your face actually. I tried this on its own and the overall look of my face improved immediately. I looked a bit healthier, like I'd been soaking up the Vitamin D and had gotten a decent nights sleep. I had in fact, done neither of those things, so yay for BB bronzing cream! Having said that, this is nowhere near enough coverage for me if I was going somewhere- It's perfect for a no make-up day, doing the groceries or going for a walk but I would still need something a bit more foundation-y for everything else. This is €11.99

Bourjois bb bronzing cream

Obviously none of these are blended in the photo, I just wanted to swatch them so you could see the consistency.

These are all currently available. If you want to see more you can find them HERE from Feel Unique.

What do you think of Bourjois Parisian Summer?
Anything catching your eye?

*Products contained in this post were provided for review. All opinions my own, as always. 

Friday 19 June 2015

Follow You Home | Book Review

It's probably about time for a book review and today I bring you a brand new psychological thriller from bestselling British author, Mark Edwards. I'd previously read Because She Loves Me (review HERE) and although I enjoyed that book (I actually struggled to put it down), I had been slightly disappointed by the ending so I was looking forward to seeing how I'd get on with Follow You Home

The story begins with a young couple, Daniel and Laura, who are on one last final hurrah; a trip of a lifetime before they settle down and start a family. They find themselves on a night train to Romania, where catastrophically their tickets and passports are stolen and end up thrown off the train in the middle of nowhere. From there, they must walk to the nearest town through the very creepy countryside and it is there that their lives are irrevocably changed.

The book then fast forwards three months and we're in London. Daniel and Laura's lives are in absolute tatters; their friends are concerned for them but they refuse to speak of the trauma they experienced while in Romania and instead continue to suffer from nightmares, insomnia and paranoia. Or is it paranoia? Strange events start to occur that all seem to be connected- it seems like every time Daniel goes to speak to someone about what happened to them, something terrible befalls someone he knows. 
It becomes more and more obvious that something bad has followed them home and really it's just a matter of sticking with the characters until they figure this out too. 
That element of the book was slightly frustrating but the suspense was carefully and slowly built so by the time it's finally revealed just what happened that night, I was on absolute tenterhooks. 
That reveal is about half way through the book but somehow the author keeps producing more little shocks and surprises from then on, which only really end on the last page. 
Their Romanian secret is very dark and very unpleasant but given how broken the main characters are, that is not particularly surprising. 
There are several different threads in this book and like his previous work, Edwards skilfully weaves them together to create a spine chilling thriller that has definitely stayed with me since. There are plenty of dodgy characters and red herrings thrown in and I defy anyone to be able to figure out the mystery themselves. 
If you're looking for a gripping read with a haunting atmosphere, this is the book for you.

I was provided with an advanced copy of Follow You Home to review but I was so taken by this novel that I've since bought Edward's first book, The Magpies on Kindle to read next.

Have you read anything from Mark Edwards? Any other thrillers you'd recommend?

Saturday 13 June 2015

Protect Yo'Self! Sun Lotions from Bioderma, Soltan, Chanel & Calypso.

The sun has finally decided to show its face in Ireland (sorry, Leaving Cert-ers) which means many of us are now liberally lashing on the sun lotion. I wear facial SPF all year around but I must admit I can be lax with everywhere else, especially in the cold Winter months. I do make a concerted effort during the Summer however and so I bring you these sun lotions, which I'm currently trying out. 

Calypso is an Australian brand that my husband picked up in our local chemists. He's always raving about Australian sun care as he thinks they know best. Fair enough. This fella is a factor 50, smells like coconuts (mmmm) and provides a good level of protection. It blends in rather like sun lotions of yore, i.e it takes a bit more massaging in but that's only a slight bugbear. I don't know exactly how much this is but I think it's around a tenner. 

calypso sun lotion

Soltan* is a Boots own brand that produces both protection and self tanning products. These are both Factor 30 which I generally think is a bit low but I wear them for less super sunny days. These are a really lovely formula- it's a new lighter version so it sinks in immediately, making application really easy. They have the highest UVA rating and are waterproof, so it's perfect if you're going in for a dip. I included the mini one (€6.50) there as it's only 50mls so you can bring it in your carry on. Yay! The larger version is €8.50 for 200mls. 

Soltan sun lotion
chanel uv essential

Next up, my beloved Chanel UV Essential facial sun screen with SPF 50. Himself bought this for me when I started getting serious about my sun protection and I've loved it ever since. It sinks in really well, is non-greasy and smells INCREDIBLE. It's also light enough that you can apply make up over it without a bother and the bottle is dinky enough that you can throw it in your bag for top ups if needed. This'll set you back about 50 squids…so yeah, maybe leave that one to the generous people in your life?!

bioderma photderm bronze

I mentioned French pharmacy brand Bioderma in another blog post this week (read about that HERE) and another product I'm loving from them is Photoderm Bronze* with SPF 50. This is a dry oil mist that provides very high sun protection while promoting natural tanning. This is ideal then for those who tan naturally but obviously don't want to get burnt. It's beneficial for very fair skinned peeps, it's non-greasy, non-sticky and can be applied on wet or dry skin. This is certainly pricier at around €22 for 200mls but I think it's a pretty unique and hard working product. 

That's my lot! What's your ultimate sun screen? Is there any product out there that ticks all your sun care needs or do you have to use more than one at a time? To the comments!

*Indicates a press sample. All opinions my own, as always.

Wednesday 10 June 2015

New Skincare Additions!

I really am a total skincare fiend and am always trying out something new. Theses are the latest products to successfully make it to my bathroom shelf:

Bioderma Ireland

First up is what is now a cult product from French brand, Bioderma. Bioderma have just launched in pharmacies across Ireland and so I have their famous Micellar Solution* to try out. I've been using it for a couple of weeks now and I really like it. I've tried other micellar waters but they don't really compare to this one for me. I tend to have sensitive skin and this causes zero irritation, redness or eye stinging and removes all my make up as simply as wiping a cotton wool pad across my face. There's no messy cleanser, no need to even wash your face after using it (I still do though cause I'm old school), really it's exactly like cleaning your face with just plain old water except that this will actually remove your make up. Genius!

I have however been trying out the benefits of double cleansing lately too. After using the Bioderma I then apply the Botanics Hot Cloth Cleansing Balm*, massage it in and remove with a muslin cloth soaked in warm water. This ensures every last trace of make up, dirt etc is gone and my face is left squeaky clean. I don't always do that as I'm mostly varying between using the two and it generally depends on how tired I am. Either way, this is a really lovely cleanser and an absolute bargain as well. I wrote about it recently in more detail, HERE.

Botanic cleansing balm

Lastly then we have the Nip & Fab Glycolic Fix pads. I've been meaning to get into chemical exfoliants for a while now and so jumped at the chance when I saw these fellas, which again are pretty reasonable at around €12 for 60 pads. These are soaked in Glycolic acid to retexture and resurface (what your traditional "gritty" exfoliators do but more gently), Hyaluronic acid to moisturise and refresh and Blue Daisy to soothe and calm. I've definitely noticed an improvement in my skin since I started using these; they're gentle enough that my skin feels soft and smooth afterwards, no tightness or sensitivity and I find my make up is applying more easily now too. Recommended use is twice a day- morning and night but I find I don't need to use them so frequently and I actually avoid using them in the morning as your skin is left more sensitive to sun damage post chemical exfoliants. Obviously you should wear SPF anyway but I just skip the glycolic pads in the morning altogether. 

And that's the lot. Are you trying any fancy new skincare products that I should know about?
Do you also have a bling lip-balm-filled rubber duck on your bathroom shelves? No? Unlucky.

*Indicates a press sample. All opinions my own, as always!

Monday 8 June 2015

SoSu Nail Polish- Put To The Test!

You might remember my blog post from a couple of weeks ago about the launch of Irish super blogger Suzanne Jackson's line of gel nail polishes; SOSU by Suzanne Jackson. I was given the shade, Blue My Mind to try out, here's how I got on:

Firstly the positives; this particular shade of polish is STUNNING. I've always been a fan of darker shades that have a glorious shine to them, as this one does. It's a deep navy blue with a kind of metallic finish and oddly, small silver glitter pieces. These all sink to the bottom of the bottle so you have to give it a good shake when applying. On the nail I don't think they really add anything- the polish is beautiful enough on it's own so for me it's just gilding the lily.

The brush isn't particularly wide but the application is still easy peasy. I have to say that it does not apply like a gel polish however. Gel polishes are all the rage at the minute with high street brands like Barry M, Sally Hansen and Max Factor bringing out their own versions so it's not surprising this was marketed that way too. I think though that it would have been better if this was sold as just a regular polish as it was disappointing to find that neither the application nor the finish were that of a gel. 

Longevity wise, I wore a good base and top coat (OPI, not from the SoSu range) but only got to day three before noticeable chips appeared. I had maybe one or two on the second day. I left the polish on 'til day five for blog research purposes but by then all bar two of my nails were badly chipped and I was itching to take it off. I was disappointed that it didn't last longer but as I'd already figured out that it wasn't a gel polish, I didn't really expect otherwise. Day three is standard for me with most good polishes- the poor quality ones are gone before then so I don't actually think this is that bad (for a regular, non-gel polish that is).

Day 3 on my left hand, my right hand was worse again. My ring finger and baby finger on my left hand stayed pretty much perfect though!

Priced at €7.99, these are on the higher end of the scale for a polish like this but there's a really good range of colours (the pastels in particular look fab) and there's some fun glitters too. These are already a big success, having sold out in some stores so obviously there's a big market for them. The bottom line for me here is if you buy these knowing they won't wear like a gel polish then work away and God speed! Otherwise you'll risk disappointment.

I think it's wonderful to see a fellow blogger doing so well and I wish Suzanne much continued success but I was hoping this polish would last longer than it did. Hopefully it's an issue that can be addressed for future additions to the range.

Have you tried any of the SOSU range? What did you think?

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Chupi Irish Farthing Coin Necklace

I've had a bit of a thing for coin necklaces for a while but wanted something unique and uniquely Irish at that.
Lo and behold, I found this beauty from Irish jewellery designer, Chupi

Chupi Irish Farthing Coin Necklace

The story behind it makes it even more special:
"Cast from an original Irish farthing coin from the 1940’s that Chupi found in her grandmother’s sewing box, this is a little reminder you are worth your weight in gold.
In the early 1920’s the first Irish coins were designed by a committee headed by the legendary poet W.B. Yeats. Renowned artist Percy Metcalfe was commissioned to design a series of beautiful coins inspired by Irish wildlife. When Chupi was little she loved coins, particularly the beautiful old Irish coins with their illustrations of the birds, deer and salmon."
The bird on the coin is a Woodcock, apparently one of the most commonly found birds in the West of Ireland.

Chupi Irish Farthing Coin Necklace
Mermaid shirts for the win.

Himself bought it for me as a gift for completing my Midwifery Higher Diploma and it hasn't left my neck since. I'm obsessed.
Mine is rose gold although it's also available in gold and silver and you can request a longer chain. Personally I was happier with the shorter length as it means I can layer my necklaces, which I regularly do as I think it looks great for Summer.

Chupi Irish Farthing Coin Necklace

I love that it's as Gaeilge and how beautiful the design is. I often find myself turning the word "feoirling" around in my mouth- like most Irish words it has a wonderfully soft, comforting sound. 
And even though I didn't grow up using that particular coin (we had the horse, deer, salmon coins etc), I nevertheless feel an odd sense of nostalgia and an attachment to it. 
It's such a beautiful piece with a strong reminder of our heritage and our disposition towards nature and the beauty that can be found therein. 

Chupi Irish Farthing Coin Necklace

LOVE that harp on the back with the date (my own little bit of vintage with that 1946). 

You can read more about this beauty HERE on the Chupi website.