Thursday, 29 November 2012

More Snapshots from My Phone

Another set of (long overdue) photos from my phone featuring some of favourite snaps of the last few months.

 ~ A chandelier made entirely from kitchenware spotted in Lakeland
~ Limited edition Coke bottle celebrating the 2012 Olympic Games
~ One of my favourite drinks, iced tea with lemon
~ A pretty fountain Sorrento, Italy
~ A hotdog and curly fries served by a retro 50s-style diner in Newcastle
~ The lounge at Manchester airport
~ The view from the hotel balcony in Sorrento
~ A Victorian tram at Beamish open air museum
~ Creative cappuccino foam
~ The Hunger Games trilogy
~ Inside The Centre for Life science museum
~ Finding out what a sunflower looks like up close
~ A cool curved display
~ Coca Cola lip smackers
~ Some of the birthday cards I received this year
~ Cute kissing bunnies greetings card
~ An ancient looking ‘stone’ window…actually made from fibreglass!
~ John Paul Gautier ‘Tattoo’ coke bottle
~ The amazing fountains at Alnwick Gardens, Northumberland
~ A delicious-looking cupcake tower

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Magazine Freebies Tried & Tested: Glamour Magazine and Nails Inc Polish

What? Nails Inc Motcomb Street Polish 10ml RRP £11.00
Free with? Glamour, December 2012
Magazine price?  £2.00

This month Glamour comes with yet another amazing freebie, a full-sized bottle of Nails Inc polish worth £11. Founded in 1999 by Thea Green, Nails Inc now have an impressive 58 concessions across the UK and serve an average of 10,000 customers per week. They boast a range of over 200 gorgeous shades of nail polish all named after famous London streets like Piccadilly, Baker Street and Notting Hill. I was first introduced to the brand several years ago by -yes, you’ve guessed it- Glamour magazine. This month the publication is giving away four more polishes, St. James (a vibrant candy apple red), Glamour Glitter (a sparkly gold glitter), Elizabeth Street (a delicate pale pink) and Motcomb Street (a rich dark blue).

As I have a subscription I didn’t get to choose the colour I got and I must admit I was a little disappointed when I opened the packet and Motcomb Street fell on my lap. My nails are usually long (not through choice but because they grow so fast that keeping them short means near-constant filing!) so I think dark shades can end up looking a little vampy on me. Although the polish looked very dark and flat in the bottle it actually had a pretty inky blue tinge when applied and dried to a stunning high-shine finish. Like all Nails Inc polishes the texture was neither too thick nor too thin and went on beautifully evenly. Although you could apply more than one coat for a more intense colour the shade in the picture was achieved with just one coat. The polish held up well, retaining its lustrous finish and didn’t chip for nearly a week. Although I’m still not sure Motcomb Street is the colour for me, it is incredibly striking and would be the perfect complement to a party outfit this season. If you want to try Motcomb Street you can purchase it from the Nails Inc website for £11.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

From China with Love: Cut Price Fashion Review

I’ve shopped on ebay for years but I always used to be sceptical about buying from China. While the vast collection of eastern fashion always appealed to me I was concerned about the quality and sizing of garments and worried about items being lost or delayed in the post. Then a few months ago I spotted an owl pendant that I’d been unable to find on the high-street, at just over a pound including international shipping from China it seemed too big a bargain to pass up so I ordered it and prepared myself for a long wait. Amazingly it arrived in well under two weeks -a lot faster than the 28 day estimate. It was carefully packed in a padded envelope and the quality was on par with what I’d expect from fashion jewellery sold in the UK.

Since then I’ve purchased other jewellery, stationary, electronics and even a ball gown from China, while not every transaction has been perfect any problems I’ve had have been minimal. Recently I bought one item that arrived damaged and another that just didn’t turn up, in both cases I found the sellers very friendly, approachable and eager to help. They both acted quickly to solve the problem, offering my choice of replacement or full refund.

My latest purchases are a studded collar shirt for just under £10 and a ribbed bodycon skirt for an incredible £2.85. I was delighted when they both arrived last week within a couple of days of each other. The shirt is so pretty and versatile –I can imagine layering it under sweaters or pairing it with a simple blazer and coloured jeans. I’m really happy with the design and the quality, the chiffon fabric has just the right level of sheerness and has some weight to it so it hangs beautifully. The collar too has been embellished with high-quality riveted metal studs, I can’t imagine them coming loose or falling off with use. My only minor quibble is that despite being quite narrow at the shoulders the body of the shirt is very boxy, I’m considering slimming the sides a little for a better fit. The shirt was described as ‘one size’ and measures approximately 14’’ at the shoulders and 18’’across the body. It is 22’’ long and the sleeves are approximately 20’’. It can be found on here. 

I am equally happy with the bodycon skirt, the colour is beautifully rich and the simple design will work with everything from a blouse to a graphic tee to a sweater. The thick woven material has a really nice feel and I think the addition of the pleating detail makes the skirt look a lot more expensive than it was. The fit however highlights just how different Chinese sizes can be from western ones. Described as a size ‘S/one size’ the skirt measures a mere 10.5’’ at the waist and just over 12.5’’ at the hips, although the fabric does allow it to stretch a couple of inches this still makes it smaller than the average UK4. If you need a petite fit like me buying from China can actually really work to your advantage, but I’d still recommend checking measurements very carefully before buying or if in doubt asking the seller. If you’d like to try the skirt it can be found here.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Magazine Freebies Tried & Tested: Marie Claire Magazine and Dove + L’Occitane

What? Dove Damage Solutions Colour Radiance Conditioner 30ml and L’Occitane Rose Petals Hand Cream 30ml RRP £8.00
Free with? Marie Claire, November 2012
Magazine price?  £3.70

November’s Marie Claire magazine comes with not one but two freebies worth over £10. The first is a conditioner from Dove’s new ‘Damage Solutions’ range designed for coloured hair. The bottle tells me it has a dual formula combining a nourishing conditioner and a ‘revitalising stripe and UV filter’ which promise to ‘seal the cuticle for more vibrant colour’. I’m a little sceptical of some of the claims made by hair and beauty brands, especially when they purport to fulfil to two completely opposite functions (in this case simultaneously penetrating the hair to nourish it and sealing the hair cuticle) and certainly when I squeezed some of the product out for the first time I found the conditioner and the pink treatment stripe had blended together into a pale pastel shade. Despite my doubts though this product did smell heavenly and had the perfect consistency –not too thick or too thin- meaning it applied effortlessly and rinsed away easily. It left my hair super soft and shiny, which even if the claims regarding its colour revitalising properties turn out to be exaggerated is worth the purchase price on its own. The full-size version is available now for just £1.65 (£1.70 off the RRP of £3.30) at Superdrug

The second product in this Marie Claire double-whammy is a limited edition hand cream from French natural beauty brand L’Occitane (am I the only one who has been saying it ‘l-ock-tain’? Apparently the correct pronunciation is actually ‘loxi-tan’) There was a choice of Date Bouquet, Mango Flower, Rose Petals or the original L’Occitane Dry Skin hand cream. Having read rave reviews I was tempted by the original but my love for floral scents won out and I chose the Rose Petals hand cream. I am so glad I did as I loved absolutely everything about this product. From the chic metallic packaging and perfect hand-bag sized to the gorgeous rose fragrance –as good as a spritz of perfume- to the luxurious concentrated formula packed with organic ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil and Rosemary leaf extract. It wasn’t heavy or greasy at all and I found all I needed was a pea sized amount and it would be absorbed instantly. I cannot recommend this hand cream highly enough. If you’d like to try it for yourself, it is available in L’Occitane boutiques on online for £8.00 for 30ml here

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Inspired by Nature: Montagne Jeunesse Face Masks

Montagne Jeunesse (literally ‘Mountain Youth’) are a French company who use an array of delicious, sweet-scented and nourishing ingredients to create a range of face masks and skincare products. From lip balms to hair conditioners to all over body moisturisers and even grooming products for men, they have something for everyone.

While I was in my local pharmacy recently I picked up three of their face mask sachets to try out,
Passion Peel Off, Chocolate Masque and Dead Sea Mud Pac (£1.09 each). The first mask I tried was from the ‘Peel Off’ range. Combining pomegranate and passion flower it had a really fruity, invigorating fragrance, by far my favourite of the three. It had a thin, gel like texture with a slightly red/pinky tinge, when I applied it it was almost translucent -completely unlike the lilac colour pictured on the packet! Because it was so thin I was concerned it would just run right off my face but surprising it went tacky almost immediately and stayed in place. It took around 20-25 minutes for the masque to dry enough to start peeling it off, but then it came off easily in large sections. It did leave a slight residue in places but just a quick splash of water solved this problem. After using this masque my skin was left matified and my pores deep cleansed, I think this had the biggest effect on my skin out of all the masks. 

The next two masks were both from the ‘Muds’ range. The first, Chocolate Masque, combines Dead Sea salt, cocoa and Shea butter with Mediterranean clay to create a rich, intensively moisturising mask. It has the most incredibly chocolatety fragrance which lasts from the moment you open the sachet until you rinse it off, I personally really liked this although if you’re not keen on very strong or food-based scents it may not be for you. The mask itself had a very thick consistency that made it challenging to remove from the packet, but once massaged onto the skin it went on smoothly and easily. The only downside for me was the way the mask hardened and cracked as it dried, leading to a slightly uncomfortable, tight feeling after around 10 minutes. The mask was also very messy to remove, it took me longer to rinse off all traces of it than it did to apply. Once removed though my skin felt incredibly soft and moisturised, a feeling that lasted for days afterwards.

My final mask was the Dead Sea Mud Pac. With bergamot, lavender and seaweed it had a lovey fresh smell, much more delicate than the Chocolate Masque. It had a medium consistency and smoothed on easily, I found it didn’t crack as much as the Chocolate Masque as it dried or feel as tight. I used a washable muslin cloth to remove the mask after 15 minutes which really helped to speed the process up and created a lot less mess. As with the other two masks, the Mud Pac left my skin feeling noticeably softer, smoother and hydrated. For anyone who enjoys pampering their skin, I cannot recommend Montagne Jeunesse highly enough. I love the quality and variety of their masques and the inventiveness of their formulations, at just over £1.00 a sachet, you can afford to experiment. I can’t wait to try more of their products. To see their full range visit the Montagne Jeunesse website. Have you tried Montagne Jeunesse masks? What did you think of them?   

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