Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Amsterdam Part 2

So, you survived Part 1 did you?! Congratulations! Don't worry this post won't be as long.

I just wanted to show you what other excitements I saw in Amsterdam. As I wasn't there for long, I didn't really set about to do what I call 'proper' clothes shopping (too many sights to see!), but I did come across some shops worth a mention and a few accessories did happen make their way into my luggage. 

First to mention is Laura Dols and this vintage store was definitely a highlight of the visit. In fact, there are two Laura Dols, both down the same little Amsterdam street directly opposite each other and by goodness do they hold some remarkable pieces.

One of the things I liked so much about Laura Dols is that I felt completely at ease browsing there. Some vintage stores, particularly in London, have gotten so pretentious it's ridiculous. Ditto the prices. Luckily, this can't be said for Laura Dols and it was a refreshing experience. 

I was giddy with excitement to see what I might find in there and I wasn't disappointed. Each floor of the shop was dedicated to one style of garment - for example; fifties gowns, sensational evening dresses, tuxedos for the guys and perhaps my favourite, the wedding dresses (racks and racks of them!)
I can dream...
It was in the shop across the road that I made a couple of purchases. Nothing as extravagant as a wedding dress unfortunately, but definitely a couple of bargains. 

Bargain boots!
These sturdy leather boots were hidden away at the back of the shop with a whole lot of others. I managed to get them for a very decent 25 Euros. There were probably a couple of other pairs I could quite easily of had my mitts on, but my suitcase wouldn't have thanked me for it. Neither would my arms.

The second item is this sweet swimming hat and it makes me laugh every time I look at it. I just had to have it even though I rarely go swimming. I will be and have been, using it as a shower hat. My hair gets utterly frizzy with any sign of moisture so I always wear a shower hat, and as my friends know that I spend a huge proportion of my life in the shower, a lot of my presents tend to be novelty shower hats. You know the sort - sequined with gigantic bows or with ears and plastic eyes on. Well, this time I decided to be slightly more decadent and buy myself something more sophisticated. All over ruffles. What more could a girl want?

Just whilst we are on hats, I'll throw this one into the mix. It's from the Dutch H&M. I think it's adorable and it only cost me 7 Euros. Since being back I've seen them here in the UK too, so if any one's interested...

Whenever I am abroad I always try to track down some jewellery. It doesn't have to be expensive, but I like to have something to keep to remind me of my trip. My particular favourite is silver jewellery and luckily for me, I stumbled across an absolute treasure trove of a shop just near one of Amsterdam's flower markets. The shop is called Kashba and contains a whole host of stunning bits and pieces from Peru, Tibet, Africa, Mongolia, Thailand, Nepal...the list goes on. There are statues, ritual objects, pieces of furniture and ornaments - some so intricately carved that you have to look twice to take it all in. Then, of course, there's the jewellery. I spied so many things that I would just loved to have bought. In the end though, I had to narrow it down and the earrings below were my final choice. These are delicately handcrafted and most probably from Asia. I saw them in the window and knew I would find it difficult to leave them behind.

If this shop sounds of interest to you, then I urge you to go to the website. There is a 360 degree camera view where you can really get a feel for the place. Click HERE to do just that. 

Okay, so onto the last thing. As you may or may not remember, I did a post a while ago about how I am always on the hunt to find THE perfect purple nail polish. ('Operation Purple') Well, I managed to pick up two more to add to the mix whilst in Amsterdam. 

  • W.I.C by Herome (Mexico City) 7.50 Euros
  • BeYu (139 Fantastic Lilac) 5.80 Euros
I will let you know how they fair.

Hope you've enjoyed this post - I know it's been a bit of a hodge podge, sorry about that -anyway if you have muddled your way through and liked it then do sign up to follow - it will make my day!

Ciao for now x

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Amsterdam Haulage Part 1

My little trip to Amsterdam was a good excuse to pick up some lovely European goodies.

The curiosity of what I might be able to find makes me pretty much unstoppable when it comes to shopping abroad. This obviously applies particularly in the cosmetics department and more particularly than that, in the moisturisers aisle.  What makes it worse, is that every where outside of the UK seem to cater so much better for those who choose to use products that do not contain chemical ingredients such as parabens etc. This is definitely like a red rag to a bull! I find pots and jars and tubes of interesting looking body butters, scrubs, potions for this and that - all natural, that of course I just have to take back home to try.

The funny thing is, more often than not, this is the way I have come across some of my favourite brands- Yes To Carrots for example - I discovered that in Target whilst on holiday in America. I bought six things from the range and lugged it all back in my suitcase. Luckily, I since discovered I can buy it down the road. D'oh! But still, you get the idea.

Anyway, onto the haul.

By way of body butters in Amsterdam the options were plentiful. I wish I had more upper body strength and then perhaps I could have managed to carry more home. I bought the majority of them from an absolutely lovely shop in the '9 streets' - La Savonnerie.

Most products in this shop had a  'gifty' feel and what comes when you put gifts and toiletries together? You guessed it - SOAP! These were very pretty to look at, and of course to smell, but I have to admit that I am not the hugest fan of soap. It is not something I would normally buy or use for that matter.

Having said that, if you are into soap, this would definitely be a place to visit as they make all their own and have the facilities to mark it with personal text or a logo. Oooer.

What caught my eye were...

...Mediterranean Spa Body Butters and Salt Creams. I have to confess that I have failed sightly here as these aren't Dutch. Okay I accept - it is a mega fail. They are made in Italy. But seriously, once I swatched a little of the butter on the back of my hand, I was sold. The consistency and texture of these is like nothing I have ever come across before. Thick to the touch but uber quick to melt into the skin. The moisture boost is instantaneous and the practicality of being able to get dressed straight away is also a bonus not to be underrated. I am seriously impressed. The two I chose to buy were Avocado (the giant one!) and Basil Oil, mainly because I tend to go for whichever sound the richest on the moisture stakes. There were many others - the range is substantial - fig was one, lemon another.

The Salt Creams come in various 'flavours' too. I decided on Olive oil as I thought it would be one of the most nourishing. Since coming home I have used it twice and keep cursing myself that I didn't buy more. I must get more. In ALL flavours. The salt is perfectly sized to give a good proper exfoliation - not overly abrasive but definitely enough 'scrub' to make my skin feel totally rejuvenated.
I also enjoy how this product leaves my legs super silky and soft. I'm putting this down to the olive oil which leaves a slight film after use. (please don't let this sound off putting - it really isn't meant to - it stops that horrible tight feeling skin can sometimes get after some harsh exfoliators).

Inside the Salt Cream
The downsides? Not many, but the first is a pretty bad one and a cheeky one at that. The tubs are average sized for body butters (I'm not talking about the huge avocado one here, but FYI they've used the same trick on that one too). What they've done is put a false bottom inside, so basically you have half what you think you have.

The cheeky folk! Where the rim ends so does the product!

Now, what you could say, in fairness to the brand, is that they have done what is legally required of them and put the amount on the packaging i.e. 90ml. But I think this is still misleading. And a waste of plastic for that matter.

But you know what? I can probably forgive them for this. Perhaps because the butters are reasonably priced at 9.95 Euros and of course because they do such a good job.The second downside of these are that they are not readily available in the UK. Luckily, the lovely Dutch shop La Savonnerie said they would do international shipping. Woo hoo! You can also get hold of Mediterranean Spa products in America pretty easily and many US websites ship internationally too.

Next, I popped into a place called Rain. Not Dutch either. Opphs. This brand offers handmade products with a South African origin.
'In Africa, rain gives life and life depends on it. The cycle of the season is born into all living things, young and old. Rain is the gift that brings simple wealth to the plains, villages and mountains. Rain is refreshing in the still heat of the day; it cools the thirsty land, awakens the senses and sharpens the aromas of the bush.'

On their website it explains this about their shops:

'Rain stores are designed to showcase the exquisite handwork of our African people, as well as provide the customer with a unique interactive body and bath experience.'

These are bath 'eggs' - amazingly sweet to look at and to smell!
I made three purchases, the first of which was the Aloe & Avocado Hand Scrub  and woah! is this good? (er yes, it's amazing). At first glance it looked like a really cheap body exfoliator - one I would probably walk right on past. However, as they have a hand basin where you try things out I thought I'd experiment further. I am so glad I did because this little gem managed to soften and smooth out my rough, neglected paws like nothing else. All natural ingredients in this one too. (9.95 Euros)

Rain's Aloe & Avocado Hand Scrub - a little pot of goodness!
The second purchase was some Rock Mint Bath Salts. As I think I may have told you before, I am not into baths. It's just not really my thing. However, when I saw the display of bath goodies at Rain, I felt I had to put my reservations aside and scoop myself some into a bag. I went for mint purely because I love the smell and I reckoned that a bath in mint leaves would be super invigorating. I have yet to conquer the bath yet - but when I do I will be sure to let you know how I get one with these. Rock Mint Bath Salts 4.50 Euros per 100g.

How cool?

Going into new territory...the bath salts from Rain

And finally, another body butter. I couldn't resist. But unfortunately, I really wish I had. Here is what Rain says on their website:

'We use strive to source pure, natural and naturally-derived ingredients and materials with the highest quality...Our products are formulated from ingredients made from indigenous, wild-harvested plants sourced throughout Southern Africa. We want to show the majestic, but most of all, under exposed continent Africa and all the richness it has to offer. We use use the time honored secrets of indigenous flora and medicinal plants from South-Africa in our natural body care.'

Sounds like the perfect place for me to shop and I didn't hesitate to pick up the Macadamia Body Butter with Shea and Cocoa. If only I hadn't been in such a rush and I'd looked on the back on the pot! For when I returned home, what did I spy in the ingredients list? PEGS...colours...and other preservatives that I would perhaps prefer not to have in there.

Nevertheless, I did decide to give it a go. Ingredients list aside, it is still disappointing. Consistency is thick, which I usually like, but it didn't massage in very well. The scent, at first pleasant, became an annoying fixture in my nostrils - sickly sweet with a under note of cough syrup. (16.50 Euros)
Looked promising...but I'd give it a miss.
You can buy Rain products online HERE

Are you still with me? By goodness it feels like a long post this one. Hope you've enjoyed it. If you have, do sign up to follow or leave a comment. I really do enjoy reading what you've got to say.

Ciao for now x

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Stylish Blog Award

So, I just came back from my little Amsterdam trip and what do I find on my return? My first Award. Actually, I lie - two awards! 

I can't tell you how pleased I am - It really does mean an awful lot. So thank you to Me, my best and I who, in short, is really awesome. If you aren't following her you should be! 

I have been asked to tell you all ten things about myself that you wouldn't necessarily know. 

1. My dog Sprout (a border terrier) is the love of my life. 

The man himself.

2. I think the most important thing is to live by your values. Some of mine are: Freedom, respect, harmony and creativity.

3. Porridge is underrated. FACT.

4. I have been very ill at various times in my life and although each time has been a challenge, I have always reminded myself that I will get through it. And each time, I have.

5. I am absolutely terrible at maths. I still count on my fingers. 

6. I'm not keen on baths. I very rarely have one. I know it sounds a bit strange I don't like the idea of sitting in my own dirt! 

7. I am, however, rather obsessive about having showers and I regularly stay in it until the water turns freezing cold and I am forced out.

8. I really have to work on my self-confidence, it is not something that comes easily to me. 

9. It took me a long time to 'go for it' and start writing this blog. I always wanted to, but I needed to push through some barriers to make it actually happen. In fact, it took me to loose my personal anonymous blog that I'd been writing for years to get going on this one.

10. I like to have a holistic view on my life. How I look on the outside is important to me, but that really only comes if I feel okay on the inside. 

And as I am terrible at maths and can't count...

11. Last year, I took up the martial art Taekwondo and even though I am the biggest girlie girl there is imaginable, I really enjoy it.

Just before my first ever TKD class!
Who do I think deserves to be awarded this blog?

- Becca, who is over in New Zealand, really does post on a whole variety of subjects. Her photos/swatches are impeccable and I absolutely adore her header. Over all, when I see Bec has a new post up I am straight over there to check it out and I always enjoy it!

- Canadian Kenzie's blog is awesome too. Her nail art is something to check out, as is her amazing talent for making jewellery. Wow is all I can say really. 

-Rosie Hannah's blog is full of such useful tricks and tips and always makes me thinks, 'ah! why didn't I think of that!' But that's the beauty of this blog, you don't need to. Lots of interesting recipes that will save you some pennies - I like the Oriental Toner.

I'm off to tell the three lovely ladies about the award now so, 

Ciao for now x

P.s Amsterdam goodies and report post coming shortly!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Gone Fishin'

I am off to Amsterdam for a little bit of a holiday. There are of course many waterways in 'the Venice of the North', but I'm not sure what kind of continental cosmetic loveliness this little fishing trip will enable me to reel in... but rest assured I will be back soon to share the goodness.

Ciao for now x

Nail of the Day

I picked this polish up the other day from Model's Own. I'm a complete sucker for lilac shades so this was right up my street...


Model's Own in Lilac Dream
I was wondering whether it would beat my all time favourite lilac shade - Barry M's Berry Ice Cream (308) - it seems to be the best there is around in terms of formulation, colour and well, price - it is an unbeatable £2.99.

So the Model's Own polish was up against it really. Having said that, I'm impressed. With two coats you get good, full, even coverage and it goes on like a dream. It is priced at a reasonable £5 so not really any complaints there and in terms of chipping, it has lasted remarkably well (5 days).

I also bought a couple of other shades from the range that I've yet to try. They're not cremes so I'm wondering what they'll be like. Have any of you tried any of them?

Ciao for now x

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

April Favourites

Well, another month has gone by - and what a month it has been! The weather in the UK has been unseasonably good and I have enjoyed every second. There have been walks in the park, picnics, tons of ice cream and of course a whole array of awesome things that I'd now like to tell you about. So here we go!

First on the list is possibly my favourite of all the favourites...
Burt's Bees Body Lotions £9.99 or £8.50 from feelunique.com (woohoo!)

Milk & Honey, Shea Butter & Vitamin E and Aloe & Buttermilk
And my particular favourite:

Radiance Body Lotion with Royal Jelly

I am fanatical about about moisturising my body. I do it twice a day morning and evening - no matter what. My friends think I have some sort of OCD obsession about it. Perhaps so - but I suppose that means my legs are almost always super soft and that I'm always on the look out for new releases in the field. These Burt's Bees Body Lotions are all fairly new onto the scene - so keen was I to review them properly that I bought the whole set. I have used them all for just over a month now and by goodness I am impressed. And seriously, in this category, it takes a lot to impress me.

I don't use any moisturisers that contain parabens and ideally they will be organic, free from SLS, PEGS, mineral oils and synthetic fragrances. So it is a good thing then, that all of the Burt's Bees Lotions are made with 99% natural ingredients. The consistency of the creams have got to be right too - I don't want to be stood in the bathroom when I am late for work rubbing my legs waiting for it to soak in. Oh no, that wouldn't do at all.

I could very easily go on for a substantial amount of time about the pros and cons of creams V lotions and all that jazz, but I think that's best saved for another post (!) So, to round up my first favourite I shall make the following points about the Burt's Bees Lotions;
  • They moisturise beautifully for a full 24 hours (my legs are still soft the next morning).
  • All fragrances are pleasant and not over powering.
  • All lotions sink into skin immediately.
  • The formulation not too thin.
  • Each Lotion has an ingredient with special properties i.e. Aloe Vera to aid in healing.
Here is what Burt's Bees said about the Radiance Body Lotion:
"This natural body lotion is specially created to enhance your skin's natural glow. It's formulated with Royal Jelly, one of nature’s most nourishing substances, packed with 134 nutrients, including 17 amino acids, and vitamins A, C, D and K, as well as multiple B-vitamins. Sunflower oil moisturises and mica, a light reflecting mineral, enhances your skin's natural glow."

These shoes are absolutely adorable and have been perfect for trotting about in under my black maxi skirt. I have had so many comments about them too - everyone seems to appreciate their prettiness. The good news is that they come in at a bargain price of £20 and they are super comfy. Yay for Topshop!                                                  
Pout Polish in Pink Cadillac

These Sleek Pout Polishes make me so happy! Such a delight to use and so affordable compared to the MAC versions. This one, Pink Cadillac, is a little bit of sunshine on your lips. It is fairly bright but not too much so, and great for the days I choose not to wear lipstick. Being a conditioner I know I'm doing right by my lips when I use it, plus it contains SPF 15. April has been the perfect month to roll this baby out of my makeup box and now the pots nearly empty, so I'm headed back to Superdrug to stock up on some different shades.

Oh I felt so guilty when I bought this - £33 for a body oil! Nevertheless, a month on it hasn't disappointed. Initially when I popped into Space NK I was looking for a massage Oil but what I ended up with is so much more. Elemental Herbology's Body Repair is a mix of completely natural ingredients including the essential fatty acid rich Argan, Rosa Mosqueta, Sacha Inchi, Buriti and Sweet Almond Oil. Here are just some of the benefits:

  • Nourishes dry and sensitive skin, restoring hydration and softening the skin.

  • Rapidly infuses the skin with moisture without leaving a greasy film.

  • Jasmine helps infuse the skin with powerful anti-ageing properties.

  • Mandarin helps rejuvenate the growth of new skin cells

  • Vitamin E helps prevent dehydration and protects against environmental extremes

  • Vitamin A and C help reduce the appearance of stretch marks by stimulating the regeneration of collagen

  • You can use it in a variety off ways -

    1. Before showering use a natural fibre mitt to apply over thighs and stomach to increase circulation and to help breakdown fatty deposits.
    2. Apply after showering to slightly damp skin for intense hydration.
    3. Use as a massage oil and apply to clean, dry skin an a circular motion until completely absorbed.

    My skin sucks up this stuff like nothing else and when I am lucky enough to be given a massage with it, I feel unbelievably relaxed. I think this might be on my favourites list for sometime.

    Skinny Jeans - A pretty Pewter!

    Definitely my most used eyeshadow this month. So versatile and such a beautiful colour. You can go as sheer or as dramatic as you like with these little pots as the colour is buildable. I like to apply it with my finger blending evenly from my lash line to my brow bone. It is so easy to use and lives up to it's name by being totally creaseless and smudge proof. Plus it stays put all day. There are currently 12 shades in the line - if you haven't tried one yet what are you waiting for?

    Nom Nom Nom! Throughout April I have been nibbling raisins, but not any old raisins - oh no sir! These little babies look like raisins but taste like cherries... Willy Wonka would have been so impressed. The best thing about them, a part from the fact they're so delicious, is that they are 100% natural. No added sugar, syrups, flavourings, colours or any other rubbish that you sometimes find in snack foods. And the good news doesn't end there - each packet contributes to one of your 'five a day' and the bonus of choosing raisins? They are full of antioxidants and an excellent source of potassium. There are also Lemon raisins, Orange Raisins and Pineapple Raisins. Yum!

    So that's it for my monthly favourites. I really hope you've enjoyed this random collection of things and that you've found an item or two of interest. Don't forget to follow me if you haven't already and feel free to comment below - I really do love reading what you've got to say!

    Ciao for now x