Monday, 30 September 2013

September on my mind

It's the end of the month again, and time to take stock of what's been going on. I quite like doing these posts because like most people, my days are very busy - packed with things to do and somehow you forget a lot of the small things that happen and that can make a very ordinary day special. These posts make me appreciate things in a different way.

Autumn is definitely my favourite time of the year particularly when we get autumn days like the ones we've seen the past few weeks. It's been stunning with beautiful blue skies and lots of red, orange and golden colours around us, no rain and cold enough for it to be ok to wear my beloved leather leggings and a woolly jumper. Hurray, how I've missed them over summer - sad isn't it. I have also had this year's first seasonal drinks; Skinny decaf chocolate orange mocha latte and Skinny decaf pumpkin spicy latte! Long gone are my days at uni when I thought I was sophisticated for drinking black coffee - I now speak coffee fluently and the more complicated my order is, the better it tastes!

And then of course there was national cupcake week in the UK and since I love to bake I had to join in, and I surprised Him Indoors with a big plate of S'mores Cupcakes. Basically I made chocolate cupcakes that I decorated with a whipped marshmallow frosting which I then spread crushed graham crackers over and finished off with scattering some chocolate chips. Just to make sure that it was the right quality we had to test them - all of them, and I'm happy to say that they were consistently scrumptious.

As you'll know by know I've been to see my family which was great. We've lived in different countries for a long time now and what we all miss the most is just doing these small every day things together, so the few times a year we are in the same place we try to make it as filled with quality time as possible - catching up but also doing something we wouldn't normally do, talking abot old memories but also creating new ones together too.

It's been a wonderful month and although it'll be a tough one to follow, I aim to make October equally great, filled with the 4 Fs - Fun Family Friends and Food! I hope you also had a great time and if there were one or two things that really stood out for you, making it special please let me know in the comments since it's great to learn more about what you've been up to!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Sweden Haul & Sephora Giveaway

If you've read my last two blog posts you'll know that I've spent a few days with my family in Sweden and it goes without saying that I had to do some shopping too while I was there. I had great intentions of only getting products that I can't get hold of here in the UK, and to be honest I managed to stick with that quite well. At the end of my stay I had a nice little collection of things to bring back to the UK; Some Isadora products, some clothes and accessories and of course a little bundle of joy from Sephora, since I don't get to visit Sephora particularly often.

But let's start with some hair products - I was so happy to find Macadamia products in one of the hair care shops that I got a rejuvenating shampoo and a moisturizing rinse in the smaller size, which is just perfect for trying something new. I did a review of the deep repair masque and the hair oil a while back and since I was very impressed by those products I'm now very excited to try these new ones. I will of course come back with a separate review of them in a little while.
One of the most popular brands in Sweden is Isadora, and they have amazing shades and products at very affordable prices. the nail polishes are in the same price range as Barry M and the other makeup products are about the same as Maybelline. I know that you can get Isadora products in other countries, but for some reason we don't have it here in the UK and there's not even a decent selection online. So if you know where to get hold of Isadora in the UK - please do let me know! So based on that, I stocked up on some of the things that I'd seen lately. I got a few different nail polishes - a gorgeous lustruous opaque purple, a browny olive bronze and a sky blue shade in a textured formula that reminds me of Zoya's Pixie Dust, and if you've read my blog previously you know how much I love this sugar crusted concept, so I'm really looking forward to trying this.

I also got a palette (yes I know... not another one) with only matte shades in gorgeous soft neutral greys and pinks - LOVE it, a lovely bubblegum pink gloss chubby stick for lips, eyeliners in a dark metallic olive green, a metallic steel blue and a nude eyeliner for the lower waterline for a neutral bright eyed look and again I'll let you know more about them once I've had a chance to try them properly.
On to clothes and accessories and I got a nice, woolly soft cream round neck long line jumper from H&M that I know I'll be wearing a lot with leather leggins and I also got a cute shirt from Mango. When I first saw it I thought it was just black dots on a cream background, but as you can see in the photo it's actually a little cat (or possibly fox) face with green eyes. It's adorable and even though it's quirky, it can still be worn for work with a black blazer for a fun touch. In Mango I also got the brushed steel necklace which has little stones on it in grey and cerulean blue. Since I love statement necklaces I just couldn't resist it and I'll probably wear it with the cream jumper and grey leather leggings - I'll keep you posted and if you have other styling tips, I'd love to hear them!
Now we come to the batch from Sephora, where I picked up some items from the Sephora body care collection that I had tested a very long time ago, and regretted not buying when I had the chance then. But I wasn't going to miss out again and I got a smoothing body scrub, a moisturizing body lotion, a fragrance spray and two bath tablets in the most amazing Mango scent ever. I know that the Body Shop has a very popular and nice Mango range, but for me it lacks that soft musky richness of a genuine mango smell. The Sephora collection scent is nothing like that; it's juicy and zesty but at the same time delicate, soft and sweet without being sickly - it's truly delicious and I've already worn it a few times since I came back, getting lots of compliments for it.

I have been planning a giveaway for a while to celebrate my first 100 followers both on GFC and Bloglovin, and since I love these products so much I thought I would give one of you the chance to get the same mini pampering set in Mango from Sephora. To my international followers - I'm really sorry, but unfortunately this giveaway is for UK only but I am planning on doing an international giveaway at my next milestone which is 200 followers.

A big thank you to everyone for following me and for all of your lovely comments, and don't forget to enter the giveaway below! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Visit to my family in Sweden

I've done a lifestyle post once before about our trip to Blenheim Palace, and since I got such lovely comments from you I wanted to introduce some more posts like that every now and then, and this week is perfect for that since I've recently been out and about and have something a bit different I'd like to show you.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter may know that I was out traveling last week when I went to spend a few days with my family in Sweden. Since I don't get to see my family very often, it's always really nice to get to spend some quality time with them. Unfortunately Him Indoors wasn't able to come with me this time, but we still went ahead with the things we had planned to do. The first few days we did a lot of catching up, spent time in the garden and went for walks in the area and by the sea. I love being by the sea and I miss it in the UK since we live more inland.

Every time I visit, I always go shopping with my mum, and this time was no exception. We went to one of the biggest shopping centres in Scandinavia where they have a little bit of everything from premium brands to high street shops and of course - SEPHORA, where I spent a good amount of time browsing, and buying some of their wonderful products - the things I do for my blog... hrm... We also managed to squeeze in a little crayfish party, which is a very traditional and seasonal thing to do in Sweden in August or September. Even if I don't live in Sweden I like to keep a lot of the traditions I grew up with alive when I'm in the UK, and next after Christmas the crayfish party is my favourite event of the year.

I enjoyed so much great food when I was over and for one of the meals we went for a traditional French bistro lunch and to play boules in the city. How fun with a little piece of France right in southern Sweden. I've come to the conclusion that my skills at boules increase after a cheeky little Pastis (it's an anise flavoured liqueur, similar to Sambuca), but that doesn't say an awful lot. Afterwards we explored some of the flea markets in town since it was market day, although I didn't buy a single thing - proving to myself that I AM capable of not doing any shopping.

I come from a small village in the countryside, although it's only 10 minutes away from a big city, which is lucky for me since I'm a city girl at heart and if I can't smell the nearest Starbucks I get cabin fever! But when I visit my family I love spending as much time as I can outdoors in the country visiting places where I grew up, and if there's a coffee shop at the end of it with some yummy cakes - even better. After all, calories don't count when you eat them in a different country right?

Last week was so relaxing and it was wonderful going to visit some of my favourite spots. I had such an amazing time with my family and already look forward to when I'll get to see them again - hopefully it won't be too long.

Friday, 27 September 2013

It's my duty to do duty free

I love to travel!!! I love to travel for many reasons - visiting new places or old familiar ones, experiencing new cultures and adventures, tasting new food and meeting interesting people. Now this might be just me - but I also really like airports, particularly the bigger ones. It's such an exciting place - it's a crossroads with people coming and going, filled with anticipation and excitement, loved ones waiting and of course this shopping heaven on earth called - DUTY FREE!

When I was traveling to spend a few days with my family last week I went a little NUTS in the duty free. I take no responsibility for this at all - in fact I blame it on a few things; unfortunately Him Indoors couldn't come with me so I felt a little bit sorry for myself, and the other thing is that I don't exactly love flying. I'm what you might call a nervous flyer, and shopping may not calm my nerves but it does keep my mind of things! Because I got so much stuff, I thought I would do something I have never done before - and that is a haul post. 

Let's start with the scentsationals since a few of them happened to fall into my basket as I was walking by. I'm going to start with the DKNY Energizing EdT For Fall which is a very new fragrance - in fact I haven't been able to find a link to it yet online, but I was told that it should be released in the UK about now. I was immediately drawn to the beautiful, sleek golden bottle and it smells divine. It's a completely unexpected warm, spicy and fruity fragrance that's just intoxicating. It's a subtle mix of zesty mandarin and citrus, subtle white and delicate flowers like jasmin and magnolia, warm seductive musk, green vetiver and for me the best bit is the slightly oriental wintery cardamom. I just couldn't resist it!

The other scent I got is La Prairie's Midnight Rain. This is another warm, fruity and slightly woody scent - can you see a pattern here? It also starts as a mellow fruity perfume with guava and mandarin, then it transforms with white flowers like freesia and white lily from youthful to more womanly. Finally again we have musk, vetiver and a very subtle touch of patchouli that makes it slightly mysterious and sensual - yum, yum.

I knew all along that I would pick up something from Victoria's Secret although I hadn't decided exactly what to get. In the end I decided on the Hello Darling Fragrance Mist which is nothing like the other two fragrances. Like most of the VS Fantasies scents it's a very light and fun combination of white nectarine and fresh peony that I thought would go really well as a body spray, layered with my Jo Malone Peony and Blush Suede Cologne. It is delicious although the scent doesn't last very long, even the assistant had the good grace to say so, but having to re-apply it is a small price to pay to smell luscious.

The only skin care product I got was Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado which I have had on my list of things to try for a long time. I haven't opened it yet since I'm still working on my current eye cream, so I will do a more detailed review of this in a month or so when I've had a chance to test it properly. What I can tell you is that this is one of Kiehl's best sellers and it's supposed to be a very rich cream that adds intense moisture to the under eye area and that also protects the skin against all external stress factors. Well - we'll see about that!

So on to makeup - the first product I picked up was MAC's Lipstick in Vegas Volt. I'm still very much a novice when it comes to MAC, and in fact this was only my 2nd lipstick from them. I have a long list of shades that I want to try, but since I'm working my way through a lot of other products as well - it'll take a little while to get them all. I had done a lot of research on shades that I think I would like and Vegas Volt has always stood out for me as a gorgeous rich coral that packs a punch, and I can't wait to try it on and get back to you on what I think about it.

On my shopping list I also had a few YSL products and I picked up a mascara and a lip stain. I had heard so much about the Volume Effet Faux Cils Baby Doll Mascara that I just had to get one, and after much discussion with the assistant I actually got it in Wheedler Brown rather than black. I haven't worn a brown mascara for a while and I wanted to see if there's any noticeable difference and I'm also excited to see if Baby Doll really does create that lash by lash volume effect and how it wears throughout the day. In general my experience of YSL products is excellent and my expectations of this little baby are sky high and I hope I wont be disappointed. 

The second YSL item I got was the Vernis à Lèvres Glossy Stain in 12 Corail Fauve. This is another item that you probably have seen mentioned in other blogs and may already have tried yourself, so of course I have to try that as well to see for myself what everyone's talking about. It's a gorgeous pinky coral shade that should go with A/W looks too, and when I swatched it at the airport it looked like it had an amazing glossy finish. All the YSL products are so luxuriously packaged that it feels like a real treat to get them, and although I haven't tried them yet I don't think I'll be let down by any of them. 

The last item in this shopping bonanza is the Dior 5 Couleurs Mystic Metallics in 864 Constellation from the A/W collection. I know it's another little palette of sorts but even though these shades are metallic they are also trend neutral, so I know I will be able to wear them even after the metallic craze has come and gone. Constellation contains 3 neutral shades (1 shimmery + 2 matte), and 2 shades in violet and silvery green - both shimmery metallic. It's such a pretty little mix and I'm looking forward to creating different looks combining the matte and the shimmery shades and I suspect the violet will be a new favourite of mine.

I hope you liked this post and as you know I welcome all feedback, so please let me know in the comments what you think, and if you'd like to see more of these haul type posts. 

Thursday, 26 September 2013

September favourites

Here we are again - another month has gone and I have some new favourites to show you, and this month I really have LOVED these particular products and there's barely been a day when I haven't used at least one or two of them.

I don't know many girls these days who would be without a dry shampoo and although there are lots of different ones available, Batiste for me still make the best. Not only are they very affordable, but they have lots of wonderful scents as well and they keep releasing new ones too. I've been using Paisley a lot in September, because it's a slightly more warm and spicy scent, perfect for the cooler days. For some reason I can't find this at Superdrug or Boots online, perhaps it's not sold anymore but if you do see it in the shop - give it a try before it disappears completely. 

At the beginning of the month I bought some goodies from Soap & Glory and since then my go to body cream has been the Smoothie Star Body Buttercream. I've done a full review of it earlier so I'll keep this fairly short and just say that it's the most amazing thick body cream I've used in a long time. It completely moisturizes your skin and has the most fantastic scent of pistachio, almond and vanilla that remains for a good few hrs after you've applied it. I can't say enough good things about it and it's really got me hooked on Soap & Glory products.

Since I've taken a few weeks off from nail polish this month I've focused a lot on nourishing and treating my nails and cuticles and one of the products I've used is the amazing Lush Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter. I've had this previously and every time I use it again it just reminds me of how much I like this. It's a very rich butter that softens the cuticles and nourishes your nails using different oils - soya, avocado and coconut together wish shea and mango butter. But the best thing about it, is its warm and sweet lemon scent - it's just so refreshing and my nails really feel much stronger and revitalized. After I did a review of the cuticle butter, I got a few messages from you that said that it was also great to use for other dried areas like elbows, feet and hands - so it seems like this is a multi purpose cream, and an exceptionally yummy one at that.  

Another product that I bought this month and have loved ever since is the Jo Malone Peony & Blush Suede Cologne. There's nothing as indulgent as treating yourself to something from Jo Malone and this scent is truly de luxe. It's a light, sheer floral fragrance with fruity elements. It has just the right balance between what I call the "rosy pink" scent of peonies, roses, jasmine and apples. For me it's a striking and elegant but romantic and soft fragrance that is simply stylish. I've described it in full in a previous post where you can also see the candle that I bought at the same time, which by the way is as lovely as I hoped it would be and the house smells lovely!

We are well and truly into Autumn now but I haven't actually changed that much when it comes to my makeup. By and large I still wear similar shades of golden, bronze metallics as I did during Summer - somehow it works really well for the season. But I have of course introduced some new products and one of the new items is the Clinique Chubby Stick Shadow Tins for Eyes. I had been looking at this for ages and eventually decided that it was time to get on the Chubby stick train. Most of you have probably heard of them and maybe even tried these or similar ones. It's a long lasting and smudge proof eye shadow in a that has to be the easiest product ever to use. I'm sure there are lots of ways of using it but I simply apply eye shadow all over the lid, without even being particularly careful and then I blend it out.

I've been wearing Ample Amber, sometimes on it's own, sometimes with a darker shadow in the outer corners and even with a colorful eyeliner on the lower waterline, and I've loved it. The finish is so natural and sheer, but still with enough pigmentation. The only thing I would say is that yes it is long lasting, but I don't find that it lasts all day - at least not on me, but it's no big deal and despite it I will definitely get more shades to play with.
From top to bottom
Clinique Chubby Stick - Ample Amber
No 7 Moisture Drench Lipstick - Mulberry

The other change I've made to make my look a little bit more seasonal is to my lipstick. I've reluctantly started to move away from my very loved Bourjois Lip Crayon Peach on the Beach and have introduced a rustier auburn raspberry shade using my No 7 Moisture Drench lipstick in Mulberry 15. It's a wonderful formula that helps to keep the lips hydrated and smooth and it also has SPF. Even though the lipstick in a way feels like wearing a lip balm it doesn't compromise on color, finish or wear. The pigmentation is fairly strong, leaving a lovely soft satin finish and it lasts about 3-4 hrs before you need to touch up. This probably isn't considered long lasting by most, but the fact that it doesn't dry in that funny horrible way along the lip contours, even after having eaten to me that makes the wear great, and I certainly don't mind reapplying when it's so moisturizing for the lips.  

What have you really loved this month and have you started to make changes to your routine to suit Autumn?

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The Autumn TAG

About a week ago I was tagged to do the Autumn TAG by Amelie from All things glitter and beauty (THANK YOU SO MUCH!), which is perfect since Autumn probably is my favourite time of year. All seasons are lovely and have their highlights, but for me the natural golden melancholy that comes with Autumn suits my temperament best. For me Autumn is also almost like another Spring, and I find that I'm fully charged, motivated, focused and get so much stuff done. I know that there have been a lot of these going around the past 10 days or so, but fingers crossed you won't sigh and think - Oh not another one... Before you know it we'll see TAGs about Halloween or Christmas, so let's enjoy Autumn a little more while we can, and here are some of things I love about Autumn:

1.  What's your most favourite thing about autumn? Seeing nature transform with beautiful, vibrant colors
2. What's your favourite drink? Skinny decaf sugar free spicy vanilla latte - now that's a mouthful both to say and drink! Or Skinny decaf spicy pumpkin latte - GO STARBUCKS!!!

3. What's your favourite scent/candle? Lily Flame's Just Vanilla - its amazing scent of creamy soft and warm vanilla makes the whole house so cozy and welcoming

4. What's your best lipstick? At the moment I'm really loving No 7 Moisture Drench Lipstick in Mulberry - it's a beautiful dark, rusty raspberry shade and it's so pleasant to wear.

5. What's your go to moisturizer? Estée Lauder Hydrationist is a fantastic rich cream that helps my skin getting used to the different weather

6. What's your go to colors for the eyes? Gold, bronze, copper - so the metallic trend suits me perfectly!

7.  What's your favourite singer/band to listen to? Mindy Gledhill - she's such a fantastic artist with beautiful songs and great lyrics

8. What's your favourite outfit to wear (e.g. boots and scarf combo)? Leather leggings, shoe boots and a big woolly jumper, my Alexander McQueen inspired carf with black and white sculls and some sparkly studs

9. What's your autumn treat? This list could be really long but probably some kind of investment piece like a gorgeous coat, boots or a handbag - but then again I'd do that any time of the year!

10. What's your favourite place to be? Anywhere, as long as it's with Him Indoors

I TAG the following beauties to share a bit about their Autumn things:
Nikki from The Lunar Lights
Jenn from A Beautiful Zen
Linda from I Am Linderella
Rakhshanda from Hair, Fashion, Beauty

Hope everyone is having a great day, and I'll be back tomorrow with another post! Xx

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Escape to a Secret Wonderland with Bath & Body Works

I have to say that we have a pretty great selection of beauty stores in the UK, and the bigger Boots and Superdrugs have a fab range of products. But there are still a few US stores that I really wish were available in the UK - Sephora is one of them and while I've been visiting my family the past few days I've had the chance to spend some quality time in Sephora - oooooh bliss! The other store that I would love, love, LOVE to see opening here is Bath & Body Works (B&BW). They have the most amazing fresh, lovely smelling body care products and candles, and it would be so great to have the products available right here.

Another thing that I really like about B&BW is that similarly to Lush they really follow the seasons and holidays and always have lots of wonderful new collections for different times of the year. There are actually quite a few of the B&BW products that are staple items for me e.g. the anti-bacterial pocket gels, hand washes and body mists to layer with other fragrances and today I'll look at one of the latest collections that I've tried - the Secret Wonderland products.

Secret Wonderland is a happy and curious mix of berries and florals and when you first spray it on you'll notice lots of lovely ripe berries like ripe succulent strawberries, sweet raspberries and piquant slightly sour goji berries. The initial smoothie like juicy sweetness then gives way to airy light florals like gardenia and jasmine but the notes that seem to stay with you the longest is a creamy, whipped vanilla combined with simple amber and a tiny bit of soft feminine musk. It's a very fanciful, fairy tale fragrance that I think works really well at this time of year since the warm and slightly spicy amber and vanilla really stand out in the cooler weather, without the scent being being too sickly sweet or too fruity.

I really like to layer a scent, using bodycare products in the same scent and I also find that it's the best way to make a fragrance last throughout the day. The Secret Wonderland Shower gel has a lovely formula that is gentle on the skin and adds lots of moisture since it contains shea butter, aloe and vitamin E as well and while the scent isn't strong it does leave a subtle air of it on your skin, that is further enhanced by using the Body Lotion. Just like the shower gel the body lotion is also packed with moisture and nourishing ingredients like shea butter, jojoba oil and vitamin E. Unlike many purse friendly body lotions, the consistency is quite creamy and it absorbs well into the skin, leaving it feeling quite moisturized and I really enjoy how the most prominent scent for me at this stage is the soft musk, taking away any edge from the berries. Last but not least I'll spray generously with the Secret Wonderland Body Mist. This is only a refreshing body mist, so it's not surprising that it won't last you all day, however out of the B&BW scents I've tried this actually lingers a lot longer up til a few hrs, when you layer it with the other products - probably because of the vanilla and amber. I usually use Secret Wonderland when I'm combining with Paco Pabanne's Lady Million which works really well since it picks up on the raspberry notes in the EdT.

Since we don't have a B&BW store in the UK and it's not even possible to order online, those of us who are fans will have to try and source these wonderful products in other places like eBay, Amazon or Bath and Body Shop that has a small selection of B&BW products. 

Bath & Body Works PLEASE open a store in the UK!