Thursday, March 26, 2015

Rebecca Minkoff & Essie - Flowerista Spring 2015 Collection Swatches


I was delighted to hear that Rebecca Minkoff has been appointed as Essie's Global Colour Designer. If her bags are anything to go by, this is really exciting news for the nail polish world.

The Rebecca/Essie collab kicks off this Spring with the Flowerista Collection, a range of six colourful shades to take you into Spring with a bang.

I have five of them here to show you - I didn't buy the sixth colour because it wasn't included in the miniature set. I didn't want to buy the full size because I knew I'd never wear it, so "I'm getting it for the blog" wasn't going to work, unfortunately. I'll talk about the missing colour in a minute, but for now - here are the ones I have. As usual, I bought them from Beautyzone2007.

All these swatches show a bottle shot from the Essie website, plus an indoor swatch, then an outdoor swatch. All pictures show two coats, no topcoat. I had no application problems with any of them. All polishes are cream formulas.

First up is Garden Variety, a dark teal.

Next, Blossom Dandy, a mint creme.

Thirdly, Flowerista, a fuschia/plum.

Next is Perennial Chic, described as "a neutral peach brown accented by creme rose highlights".

Finally, I have Petal Pushers, a slate grey.

The shade I didn't get is this one, Picked Perfect, described as "caramel brown mixed with a touch of red-violet" - I've seen swatches of this and it just doesn't look like something that would suit me, so I left it.

It's a really pretty collection, I love that a grey was included. Grey is a great colour for Springtime, especially when it leans towards lilac like this shade does.

The colours compliment each other really well - they mix n match perfectly. A few dabs of the other colours over a base gives a great accent nail.

The mint shade, Blossom Dandy, reminds me of several other creams. The teal shade, Garden Variety, reminds me of several other teals. I dug out a couple of other polishes in the same family and did a quick swatch:

L-R: Essie Garden Variety; Essie Naughty Nautical; Barry M Blue Moon; Essie Blossom Dandy; China Glaze For Audrey; Barry M Turquoise; Revlon Full House. Unfortunately I don't own Essie's Mint Candy Apple to compare it to Blossom Dandy, but it's definitely not a million miles away.

Overall I'm happy with the shades I purchased - I would have been happy with a miniature size of Garden Variety but as it wasn't included in the minis, I didn't mind buying the full size. I do think that I'll keep buying miniatures in future, the Essie ones give good bang for their buck compared to some other brands (you know-P.I. who I'm talking about).

The Flowerista Collection, the first one by Rebecca Minkoff, is available now at Boots and other pharmacies nationwide.

Essie don't ask me to review for them, I do it because I love the brand and I get SO excited when a new collection comes out. I bought all polishes in this post myself. And the ones from the 2015 Suite Retreat collection that I'm waiting patiently for the postman to bring me.

Do you know what would have been a great gift with purchase? A Rebecca Minkoff bag. I can dream........

Blogger Tricks

Monday, March 23, 2015

eBay Light Cube Photo Tent


I just thought I'd pop up a quick post to show you what this photo tent looks like in reality - I got it here on eBay for just over €11. I ordered it in mid-January and it arrived on February 16th, really well packaged. There are lots of different sizes, here's a slightly bigger one from a seller in the UK.

It comes with a black carrier bag and four changes of background material. The piece at the front with the slot is for you to slip a camera through and use the flash inside the cube. If you'd prefer to light the cube from outside, you can use lamps and remove this piece from the front. I used the slot for the camera.

Here's the best picture I could get of this lip balm in the kitchen under normal lightbulbs at night:

And here's a picture using the cube with the white background and the camera slot with flash:

It's still not perfect but it's an awful lot better than the first photo. Hopefully as I play around with it a bit more I'll be able to find a proper space in the house where I can take photos at night - it would make blogging a hell of a lot easier!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cute Find - MDF Laser Cut Plaque Decorations.


I came across these MDF laser cut plaques while I was looking on eBay for something to decorate the twins room with. The seller is based in Ireland, and the plaques are really reasonable for the quality.

This was the one I chose, here's the picture from the listing:

I was delighted when it arrived, it looked exactly like the picture.

It arrived in a brown flat cardboard box - be careful when you're taking it out. The MDF is quite light, and if you pick an intricate design like I did, you can break it if you apply pressure to any of the delicate parts like the stars. I broke that star attached to the capital "L" but it didn't come off, I just painted over it.

I had great fun painting it, I used acrylics for the letters and stars, and nail art pens for the outlines. I wanted to stick to traditional superhero colours, so chose blue, yellow and red.

It doesn't have anything on the back to stick it up, but you could use thumbtacks to attach some string to hang it up, or some foam picture hangers. You could also use a thin nail through a loop on the bottom and one on the top, or you could use superglue to attach it to a press or shelf.

There are some stunning looking plaques available, you can check out the whole range here - they have lovely stuff for all occasions.

This wasn't sponsored or anything, I just really, really liked this and wanted to spread the word.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Book Review: The Lake by Sheena Lambert

Book provided for consideration of review. As always, I'll give a fair and honest opinion.


Recently, I was contacted by author Sheena Lambert to see if I'd be interested in reading her latest book. The Lake, published under the Killer Reads imprint at Harper Collins, sounded right up my street so I accepted.


Set over the course of an All-Ireland weekend in a small village in Ireland in 1975, The Lake is a crime/mystery novel. In the small village of Crumm where nothing really ever happens, Peggy Casey is responsible for running the family bar. Her siblings are off doing their own thing - flamboyant brother Jerome seems to be more at home in Dublin, brother Hugh is working in London, and sister Carla is too busy causing trouble to help out regularly.

The main excitement in the village seems to be the possiblity of being able to watch the match on a colour television in Caseys - until a body is found on the shore of a local man-made lake. Detective Sergeant Frank Ryan is called down from Dublin to assist young Garda Michael O'Dowd with his enquiries, but although the locals are willing to help Frank - nobody seems to know anything about the identity of the person who died.

However - one person knows - and if the truth comes out, it will have a devastating effect on one Crumm resident.

I really, really enjoyed this book. The author could have gone down a very predictable route with Frank and Peggy, but she didn't. The mystery was given a satisfactory ending, and it was sad and touching in parts. I really enjoyed the whole atmosphere of the book, the setting of the Irish family pub isn't one I have come across before, and it was well written. It brought to mind the old smells of pool chalk, beermats and smoke - it was really atmospheric and all the characters were well written.

I liked Jerome a lot, I would have liked a bit more about him. I'd actually like a bit more on all of the characters - my only quibble with the book would be that it was too short, I seemed to race through it and I'd love another book featuring the same characters.

I'd be happy to recommend this, particularly if you're looking for something to read over a weekend or something to take on holiday. Despite the presence of death, it's not scary and it couldn't be described as gruesome - there was only one part with the pathologist that I found made me a bit squeamish but it wasn't overdone.

A really good read - it's out on March 19th, you can pre-order it for Kindle now here on Amazon, it's very reasonably priced and will also be available in paperback form.

I really liked the author's writing style, I've actually just bought her previous book on Kindle based on how much I liked this one. I'm delighted to have discovered another great female Irish author, and I'm really thankful to the author and publisher for getting in touch.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Battered Fish and Chips - Slimming World Style


I do love a takeaway, but we always split one order between us and my husband isn't very adventurous - it took me years to convince him to try a chow mein. The last time my husband chose fish and chips, I decided to make my own instead. He still preferred the chip shop batter but I really enjoyed mine and even though I had no Superfree with it (I had speed soup that day with 12 or 13 veg in it and a salad, I really don't feel one bit bad about not having veg with the dinner, it won't be every day) it was delicious and felt like I had eaten a takeaway.

The recipe for the "batter" is from the Slimming World fakeaways book, available for members to buy on the website. I'm not an official member anymore but when I joined I bought a few different books just to have.

How to make:

Make your Slimming World chips as usual - chop a potato or two into chip shapes, parboil them for 5-7 minutes, drain, return to saucepan and shake, then spray with frylight and either oven bake or pop them in the airfryer or actifry. I've FINALLY managed to perfect them in the Airfryer, it took me months to get it right but we're there now. Totally depends on the type of potato - golden wonder work best but roosters are even nicer if parboiled and left in fridge overnight first.

Battered Fish (Serves 2)
1 egg
2 skinless cod or haddock fillets
Salt and pepper
Lemon wedges, to serve

* Preheat oven to 200c/180c (fan)/Gas 6.
* Separate the egg. Put the white in one bowl and the yolk in another.
* Whisk the egg white until it starts to form soft peaks (it will begin to resemble cream).
* Fold the egg yolk in to the white, don't over mix.
* Add salt and pepper to the mix.
* Put your fish on a baking tray, then spoon the mixture over the fish.
* Bake for 10-12 mins until topping is browned and fish is cooked through.

Serve with veg and/or chips, and garnish with a lemon wedge and a sprig of parsley. I actually couldn't eat all the chips (and that was only 2 potatoes worth) so I'd definitely just use one potato and add some peas next time.

No, it doesn't really taste like proper batter. But it does give a lovely little chewy crunch to the fish and it's far healthier than something from a chipper that's dripping with grease!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Latest in Beauty Box: The Glamour Spring Beauty Edit


With the recent demise of Chic Treat Club, a beauty box shaped hole has been left in my life. I still like Glossybox, but I wanted to see what else was out there. I've bought one Latest in Beauty box before - this one, the Beauty Insider one:

Containing a full size eyeko liner, some mini Essie polishes, a Daniel Sandler concealer brush, decent samples of serum and Laura Mercier primer  - it was a definite win. So when I saw the new Glamour box, I knew I had to give it a go.

Latest in Beauty don't ship to Ireland, so you will have to use Parcel Motel if you want to order. Mine arrived 2-3 days after I got the dispatch email. In the UK, the box costs £16.99 - in euro, that was just over €24.

The Glamour Spring Edit box contains items chosen by Glamour magazine editor Alessandra Steinherr, and the contents are valued at £99.

I loved the design of this box - it's so colourful and bright. Inside the box were some leaflets - a sheet explaining what each item was for, a discount card to give you some money off if you buy from the brands, and a 12-month subscription to Glamour magazine in either print or iPad/iPhone form. Unfortunately it's only valid if you have a UK address, so if anyone from the UK or Northern Ireland is reading this and wants that subscription, please let me know either here or via twitter and you can have it.

The box looked very full for just over €24, it has to be said! Let's have a look at everything individually.

Nuxe Creme Fraiche 24hr Soothing and Rehydrating Fresh Mask - I really like Nuxe products and this was the main selling point for me. This is a rehydrating mask that supposedly gives an instant smoothing effect, but I think I will use it as an intensive treatment every so often. This is a 50ml tube - available on Cloud 10 for €21, so that's almost the cost of the box back already on one item.

Moroccanoil Intense Hydrating Mask Another hydration product, this is a hair treatment. I love hair masks, so this is fantastic - this promises "deep hydration and conditioning". I haven't used anything from this brand before, so this is a real treat. The tube is 75ml, which should last for a good few applications if used once or twice a week. The 250ml pot of this costs €32.39 at, making the sample worth around €9.69.

Revlon Colorstay Gel Envy Base and Top Coat You'll get one of three possible base colours in your box - red, beige, or mint green. I was so relieved when I saw this mint green colour ("Full House"), it's one of my favourites for this time of year. I'm really looking forward to trying these, because I didn't get on great with the Sally Hansen version. These are available in Boots for €9.99 each, making them worth €19.98 in the box.

BeautyUK High Brow All in One Brow Definition Kit This is a gret little kit that contains a precision tweezers, double ended slanted/setting brush, wax, and three shades of brown. I think the lightest brown would just about work on blondes, but I'm not sure this is the best addition for redheads. Available from Superdrug for £3.99, I'm not sure if the euro conversion of €5.59 is accurate but I wouldn't imagine it costs much more than that.

Kiko Long Lasting Eyeshadow Stick I got the shade 04 Golden Beige, but you could get any one of three shades. This is very easy to use, and gives great pigmentation. It supposedly lasts up to eight hours, a claim I haven't had a chance to test yet. Here's a quick swatch:

If you're reading this on March 10th, you still have time to avail of the 20% off sale over on the Kiko website - who knew they shipped to Ireland?! I placed a little order last night that included some more of these shadow sticks and a few other bits that I've wanted to try for ages. The sticks retail at €6.90 each.

Modelco Creme Rouge Cheek and Lips in "Just Peachy". This shade is universal to all boxes. It's a soft, creamy rouge stain that can be used in various ways. I'm not mad into stuff like this, being honest - I applied it to my cheeks and though it blended well, I just looked red. Like I'd just been outside in the wind or hadn't bothered to put foundation on. When I was in school, this was the type of look I actively tried to avoid - gaining an addiction to No.7 Rosy Tone Colour Control in the process. Not for me unfortunately - but have a look at it anyway, if you like products like this or have a slightly darker skin tone I'd say you'd like this:

You can buy modelco cosmetics on their website here - I can't find any creme rouge, so it may be a new product. I thoroughly recommend this lipliner - I got a free one last year with Glamour and it's fantastic.

Rimmel Oh My Gloss! Lip Gloss Each box contains a full-sized gloss in one of five shades. Mine was Twinkle Twinkle, a pink gloss with shimmer.

It's a nice gloss, the texture is okay, more thick than sticky. It's heavy in comparison to the YSL lip oils I've been wearing recently, but it's okay. I like the shade, I hate the glitter. I'm 31, my lips don't need to glitter in daytime. I do like Rimmel and their lip products a lot, so I will be picking this up in a different shade. This claims to stay glossy for up to 6 hours - no. Not unless you're just going to be sitting, not drinking, not eating, with your mouth closed. A gloss without a tint is not going to stay glossy for 6 hours. Available from usual Rimmel stockists from March, I don't have a euro price to hand but they will retail for approximately £5.49 in the UK. Also, I've been singing this since I saw it.

Elie Saab L'Eau Couture EDT 0.8ml Rounding off the box is a perfume sample - one of those dinky ones you get less than ten sprays from. This is very, very Spring-like - notes of almond, orange blossom and vanilla make it smell like a sweet, nutty, sugary flower. Others seem to get marzipan off this - I definitely don't. It's like fresh flowers, not orange on me either. It's a very fresh scent and it lasted absolutely ages on me - I took all these photographs around 10pm last night and sprayed the perfume then. This morning when I woke up at 7am I could still smell it. If I didn't have so many perfumes to get through I would definitely buy this - I almost bought it online last night but had to cop myself on and log out. And log on to Kiko. Sigh.... The 30ml EDT is available from Boots for €43, making the sample worth around €1.12. I think I will end up buying the full size of this at some point, it's lovely.

This box is still available to purchase and I think it's a really good one - it had a great variety of products and everything will be used here except that shimmery gloss and the creme rouge. It has free shipping too, so if you're in Ireland the only delivery charge you'll have to pay is your Parcel Motel fee.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Jewellery and Makeup from Born Pretty Store

***Disclosure: I was sent three products of my own choosing for review. Opinion 100% honest.***


Recently, I was offered some products from Born Pretty Store to try out. Given the issue I had before with lack of time to do adequate nail posts, I was delighted this time when I saw that the products to choose from included makeup and jewellery. I buy a lot of fashion jewellery from eBay, so I was interested to see how Born Pretty Store compared.

First up, I chose this bracelet: Double Heart Designed Bracelet Rhinestone Bracelet.

For $1.99, this was nice. Unfortunately it was miles too big for my wrist. Initially, when I put it on it went halfway up my arm. I was able to push each side in to adjust it to fit, and it didn't break when I put pressure on it. It's every bit as good as what you would buy in Penneys. I'd say a few of these stacked together would be lovely if you're into that kind of Alex and Ani type of look, but this one in particular was huge so do check sizes.

Next up is a lipliner - given my current obsession with lining my lips, this was a no-brainer. I picked this one: Waterproof Lasting Lip Liner Nude Pink.

There are three shades available - 04, a light rose pink; 06, a pinky mauve, and 09, a darker rose pink. I chose shade 04.

This was really nice - very similar in colour to Rimmel's Eastend Snob. It lasted ages and wasn't hard or dragging on the skin. It retails at $3.13.

LOOK at how dry my face was - that was one day of skipping my whole skincare routine due to tiredness and taking off makeup with a wipe. Hello hydraphase! Anyway - this colour of liner was a great match for my lips, better than some of the liners I've bought recently. It wore off within a couple of hours, but I have yet to find a budget one that doesn't.

The last product I chose was shade 04 in this: Blue Diamond Moisture Long Lasting Lip Stick.

The packaging on this lipstick was stunning - it came boxed, with one of those really cute not-quite-right statements.

The shade I chose was a really pretty light coral colour.

It felt lovely and moisturising on my lips, wasn't drying at all, and lasted ages. The colour was vibrant without being too in-your-face - this has gone straight into my handbag.

For $3.99, this is a definite winner.

So - overall, I was very impressed with the lip products. I could take or leave the bracelet, but it's the same quality as anything I've bought on eBay. I wouldn't hesitate to order some other jewellery, I'm actually going to place a small order for a few other things that have caught my eye. The necklace section is just droolworthy - all those little dainty triple layer chains, they've got 'em by the bucketload, along with a gorgeous selection of statement pastel necklaces for under a fiver each.

The only downside I have about ordering is the amount of time it takes for the products to arrive here, it's a good 3-4 week wait but if you're in the market for some nice budget items that you can't find in shops, then you'll be happy. I suspect that my package may have been delayed due to Chinese New Year, because I know I have received things in under 3 weeks before.

If you would like to order from Born Pretty Store, you can use my code to get 10% off.

I don't benefit from that personally in any way, but I qualify to host a giveaway if it's used a few times (I think it's ten).

You can check out the jewellery section on the site here, and the makeup section here. The site offers free worldwide shipping - or you can upgrade to registered and tracked for around $3! I'll give you a look at the stuff I ordered when it arrives, hopefully it won't be too long a wait.