Thursday, November 27, 2014

Christmas Shopping Guide Part Two: Hair Care


I love getting hair-related gifts, and I think that hair can be overlooked sometimes when it comes to Christmas shopping. Here are a few of my hair picks.

For Your Girlfriend:
One of the things on my Christmas list this year was some kind of styler - I couldn't make my mind up between the Babyliss New Big Hair or the Instyler, but the price and my experience with Babyliss products (you can see my review of my favourite Pro Radiance straightener here) swung it for me and I went for the Big Hair.

I'm not familiar with the original Big Hair, but going by reviews the main difference between the two seems to be the barrel size. The New Big Hair has a 42mm barrel, as opposed to the original 50mm which means it could be great for shorter hair and give a better lift at the roots or fringe. If anyone can recommend a nice product to use with this, please do! The best price I could find for this was £36 on Amazon - using parcel motel for delivery, that's equivalent to just over €45, which is a great price for a styler.

If you're interested in the Instyler, strike while the iron's hot (sorry, SORRY) and pick it up at Cara Pharmacy before Sunday at the heavily discounted price of €79.96.

For Your Niece:

A definite must-have in any hair arsenal is The Wet Brush - I reviewed this in full here and I'm still every bit as much in love with it. It's by far the best brush I've tried, and would make a great stocking filler. The Wet Brush costs around €10, and is available at Independent chemists nationwide or from Sally Express.

For Your Sister:

One of my all-time favourite hair products is Orifluido beauty fluid. It smells divine, a bottle lasts forever, and it makes a real difference to the finish of my hair after using heated products. I bought my first bottle about 4 years ago and have been repurchasing it ever since. This gift pack contains 100ml Beauty Fluid, and 125ml Perfumed Body Cream. This set is available at Cloud 10 Beauty for €24.95, but you can get it now for €19.96 in their Black Friday sale. They also offer free UK & Irish shipping on orders over €15, so it's a real bargain. 

For Your Secret Santa:

Next up is this gorgeous L'Oréal Christmas Cracker - they come in a few variations. I was kindly sent the Serie Expert Absolut Repair Lipidium Replenishing Care Cracker (say that fast). It costs €8.99 and would make a gorgeous stocking filler or Kris Kindle gift (is it Kris Kindle or Kris Kringle?!). The cracker contains a 100ml bottle of Instant resurfacing shampoo and a 75ml pot of Instant resurfacing masque. The masque has a 5 out of 5 rating on pretty much every site I've looked it up on. I've used both products twice now and still have plenty left for at least one more application, so this really is a great way to discover a new product. You'll find this in Salons nationwide (find your nearest stockist here) or at

For Your Best Friend:

Lastly, why not take advantage of all the special offers around at the minute and put together a selection of Aussie products for a friend or sister? Aussie have been favourites of mine for a long time, the smell alone leaves me in such good humour after washing my hair. I wanted to feature Aussie to draw attention to the fact that they're proudly supporting Movember this year as official partners. For every Aussie product bought in Tesco in November, a donation will be made to Movember. Right now, all Aussie products are 25% off at Tesco until December 15th, so you can pick something up for as little as €4.23. That's fantastic value, and a really worthy cause. Aussie products are also 3 for €13 in Boots at the moment.

What's on your hair wishlist at the moment?


Eylure Brow Shapers, Tame & Define Wax and Brow Crayon


Eylure are playing a blinder recently - their new look packaging is such an improvement, the whole range is tied together really well. Their "brow revolution" range contains everything you could ever want to maintain your brows - from wax to conditioning oil, crayons to powder, stencils and shapers.

I was sent a few items from the range to try out, and I have three of those for you today.

First up are the Brow Shapers. They cost €3.49 for a packet containing 12 applications.

The sheet of strips looks like this:

The strips are an odd shape - they're not a standard eyebrow shape at all. Still, I managed to fix one in a position I was happy with. My eyebrows were pretty much at "please pluck us before we merge" stage when this arrived - observe.

I applied a strip:

I followed the instructions, and was left with:

Yep. Still hairy and now red as well - I thought I was doing it wrong, but even after almost a whole strip, I still hadn't managed to pull one hair out. Now they have stated on the packaging that these are ideal for fine hair, and I think that they probably would be far better on someone who hasn't got thick, coarse hair like I do. I was disappointed with these, but for €3.49 they're worth a gamble if you have a different hair type.

Up next was the Brow Tame & Define Wax:

I fared much better with this. I softened the tip slightly on the back of my hand before I applied, and it worked really well to tame my brows after I plucked them. There's definitely no danger of any stray hairs with this - a hurricane wouldn't budge them. The Brow Tame & Define Wax costs €8.49.

Lastly, I have the Brow Crayon, €8.99.

This is available in dark brown, mid-brown, and blonde. The one I tried was mid-brown.

This is a great product - it's easy to use, and doesn't smudge. It lasted all day on me, and when combined with a little bit of the Tame & Define Wax, I had perfect brows for 14-16 hours. You can see what a difference it makes here, where I've used it on the right and not on the left:

It's something I've continued to use since I got it, and is much quicker than my usual powder method. The Brow Crayon was also chosen as one of the products in the most recent Latest in Beauty Dream Box II by British Beauty Blogger Jane - there's a recommendation if ever I heard one. This would also make a great little stocking filler.

The Eylure Brow range also includes:

Permanent Tint for Brows (€12.99)
Brow Stencils (€6.49)
Brow Palette (€12.99)
Brow Pencil (€6.99)
Brow Ink (€10.99)
Brow Control & Shape Gel (€7.99)
Brow Nourishing Oil (€10.99)

I'm trialling the Eyebrow Tint from the range at the moment, so will have a post about that in a few weeks' time.

Eylure products are available from Sam McCauleys, Boots, McCabes, and Independent Pharmacies nationwide. Prices may vary, all prices stated here are the Recommended Retail Prices.

Have you tried anything from the Eylure Brow range yet?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Christmas Shopping Guides - Part One, Online Bargains


I've 99.9% of my Christmas shopping done for this year, thankfully. I would say that 95% of that has been done online - I get really flustered in shops when I have the kids with me, and I can't pick up surprises for my eldest or for my husband if they're with me. Instead, I prefer to take advantage of all the great deals on the internet. With that in mind, I've put together a little guide with information on delivery, offers, etc.

Cara Pharmacy
Cara Pharmacy is a little treasure trove. There's a HUGE sale coming from Thursday 27th November to Sunday 30th November - 20% off all stock, 3 for 2 on Yankee candle large jars, and 25% off jewellery. Cara offer free delivery on all orders over €50, and are brilliant for including little samples. For orders under €50, delivery costs €5. My orders are always delivered by DPD couriers.

Here are my picks from the Cara website, from stocking fillers to gifts over €20:

€10 & Under: Nivea Smooth Hands Gift Set - €4.20 (Sale Price), Yankee Candle Christmas 5 Votive Set - €6.39 (Sale Price), Rimmel Rita Ora Loud Lasting Colour Set - €7.99 (Sale Price), Bomb Cosmetics Rockin Robin Set - €8.79 (Sale Price).

€15 & Under: This Works Miracle Cracker Gift - €10.40 (Sale Price), Gosh eyeshadow palette 22 colours - €12.80 (Sale Price), Katie Alice 2 tiered Cake Stand - €14.80 (Sale Price), Halle Berry Closer 100ml EDP - €12.80 (Sale Price).

€20 & Over: Lancome Hypnose Drama Gift Set - €22 (Sale Price), Clarins Lip Collection - €20 (Sale Price), This Works Sleeping Partners - €26.40 (Sale Price), Clarins The Essentials Palette - €32.80 (Sale Price).

Homestore + More
Homestore + More are offering free delivery right up until Christmas (no minimum order limit). Their website was a recent discovery of mine, and it's fantastic for buying decorations, lights, ornaments, linen - here are a few of my picks from the site. Orders arrive within 3-4 days and are delivered by An Post. I've ordered breakables and they've arrived safely. Homestore + More have great novelty items - I've bought tealight holders, Santa toilet seat cover, Christmas cake decorations - they have a great range. Here are a few of my picks:

Under €4: Santa Milk Jug - €1.99, Santa Tea Light Holder - €3.99, Jingle Bells Doormat - €3.99.

Under €9: Set of 5 Colour Changing Parcels - €6.99, Santa & Friends Musical Waterball - €7.99, Silicone Mould - €8.50 (half price).

Under €15: Santa with Clock Body - €12.99, Yankee Candle Large Jar Christmas Eve - €13.25 (half price), Animated Storytelling Bear - €14.99 (I have him and he's gorgeous, he tells the story of The Night Before Christmas).

Heatons have recently revamped their website and now have a huge range of Christmas products. They offer free delivery on orders over €30, while delivery is €5 for orders under that. You can also place your order and choose to pick it up in store for free. My Heatons orders are delivered by GLS couriers. Here are some of my Heatons picks:

Everything Under €10: Sweet Shop Faves Gift Box - €3, 2ft Christmas Tree - €5, Miracle on 34th Street DVD - €5 (half price),  Deluxe Loom Band Organiser - €5.60 (sale price), Jamie Dornan 2015 Calendar - €6 (they have a HUGE range of calendars), Disney Activity Tin - €7.50 (half price), Radox Gorgeous Gift Pack - €8, Felt Advent Calendar - €10, Gilette Proglide Set - €10.

I hope this has given you a few ideas - all three sites are fantastic for bargains at any time of year, not just Christmas.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014



I am a Christmas nut. I don't know when this happened - I was always more of a Halloween person, but this year, I've been feeling festive since the end of August. I think a lot of it has to do with having very small children in the house again, my eldest stopped believing last year so it's nice to have Santa back!

I am, however, aware that not everyone likes to hear about Christmas before the children go back to school, which is why I kept my ramblings confined to the pages of my Christmas planner (essentially a notebook) or secret Facebook groups. UNTIL NOW!! I wasn't sure how to kickstart Christmas on here, but lovely Zoe from My Stepping Stone tagged me to do this post and I thought it was the perfect way to get things going.

Plus, as we have all learned from my teenage diary extracts, I was never one to pass up an opportunity to interview myself.

1. What is/are your favourite Christmas movie/s? 
I have two - my all-time favourite is Elf, but I always watch Christmas With the Kranks while I'm putting up the decorations. Actually, I do love The Santa Clause too. And Bad Santa. And Love Actually. And The Polar Express. No, it's Elf. It's definitely Elf.

2. Do you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning?
Christmas morning! Christmas Eve is already full of excitement and chocolate, to have presents too would just be......Christmas overload. By the way, I'm very Monica when it comes to opening presents, I'm the one following the children with the bin bag...

3. Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?
One memory that has been coming back to me lately was watching Nana making the Christmas cake. She would cut brown paper up, fix it to tins with some twine, then she'd get her huge beige mixing bowl and the magic would start - I can still smell it to this day, and I remember hanging out of her apron like a dog waiting to lick the spoon, hoping she'd leave a glacé cherry for me. I can still taste it - sweet, with the disgusting aftertaste of uncooked batter. It makes me want to make a cake, but nobody eats it in our house.

4. Favourite Festive Food?
Oh here we go. Brussels sprouts with tiny bacon bits, pigs in blankets, potatoes roasted in goose fat, julienne carrots (the definition of posh), creamy mash with spring onion, yorkshire puddings, gravy, homemade stuffing, trifle, roast beef (nobody likes turkey), honey/clove roasted ham. All of it. All of it will be in my belly in time to watch Eastenders, then we'll have leftover sandwiches for about three days. I've been in charge of our Christmas dinner for about 8 years now and I LOVE it. Except the time the bag of giblets were cooked with the turkey and there was a distinct bang of burnt plastic off the entire dinner. I didn't love that so much.

5. Favourite Christmas Gift?
I love buying for other people. I swear to god if I could spend the rest of my days as a personal shopper I'd die a happy woman - I can trawl the internet for hours at a time looking for special or quirky things for people. For myself? Not so much. I genuinely can never think of anything I want. I'm always happy with perfume, books, and things that I'll use - lipstick, socks, earrings, stuff like that.

6. Favourite Christmas Scent?
Warm spices, like those limited edition Glade candles that always appear in Autumn. I love the smell of spiced apples, berries or cinnamon. I'm using this Treacle Moon shower gel at the moment (half price in Tesco, less than €1.50) and it's stunning, it's like Christmas in a bottle.

7. Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?
We go for a drive during the day and drop presents off with friends/neighbours. Then I prepare the dinner for next day while listening to Christmas music on the radio (RTE Radio One is excellent on Christmas Eve). We burn candles for our Dads, who have both passed. We leave a light on all night, and we stay up to watch Midnight Mass. One recent addition to Christmas Eve was the Christmas Eve Box - a box of treats to open before bed. For this year, I got a lovely Christmassy box in Dunnes for my 10 year old. Into that will go a pair of new pyjamas, some fluffy socks, slippers, instant hot chocolate, popcorn for a movie, a DVD, a book, bubble bath or a bath bomb, a Christmas mug and some chocolate coins. The babies are a little young yet but they do have new pyjamas, personalised books, Christmas finger puppets, Christmas socks and some snacks. Fiona did a fab post here about her son Tyler Lee's Christmas Eve basket, it's definitely something I'm going to continue.

8. What tops your tree?
A twin. No, I'm messing - but we don't have a big tree anymore since the babies came along, it would be pointless. Instead, I have a little two-foot tree topped by a little star, and I concentrate on decorating places the boys can't reach, like walls, windows, etc. I do miss the big tree but it wouldn't be worth the hassle if they got into that room! This was last year, I just about had the energy to barely decorate it. This year.... bring it on!

9. As a kid, what was the one gift you asked for but never received?

There were two. My friend A had a Keyper and I was insanely jealous of her. I also really, really wanted a Mr. Frosty so I could make tooth-rotting ice snacks.

10. What's the best part of Christmas for you?
I love the build-up. I love choosing things for people, I love the whole buzz and preparation, the excitement, the lights, imagining the look on my kids' faces when they get their presents - I just bloody love Christmas. Not as much as Andy Park, but I love it. LOVE IT.

Thanks so much to Zoe for tagging me, I tag everyone who reads this and wants to give it a go!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New! Bepanthen Baby Moisturiser for Sensitive Skin

Not Sponsored or Paid | Product Received from PR


We're big fans of Bepanthen ointment in this house. I've been using it on the twins since birth and I've found it's the only thing that gets rid of nappy rash quickly. I don't use petroleum jelly or zinc oxide cream on my boys - I think their skin is so delicate. Plus we had an incident with my eldest that turned me off a certain cream for life. I'm talking walls, carpet, curtains, wardrobe, hair...

Bepanthen is ideal - it creates a barrier and doesn't leave marks on clothes or a strong smell on the boys.

I know sometimes when people see someone praising a product that was sent for review they roll their eyes, but genuinely - I was sent one tube, and this was just last month's usage. I don't even throw out the nearly-empties, I keep them at the changing table, in the car or changing bags just in case.

Bepanthen Baby Moisturiser for extra sensitive skin is a recent addition to the line, and it's a good one.

Here's an ingredient list:

Aqua, Isopropyl Palmitate, Glycerin, Elaeis Guineensis Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ethylhexyl Cocoate, Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Cetearyl Glucoside, Panthenol, Caprylyl Glycol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Xanthan Gum, Caprylhydroxamic acid, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Sodium Hydroxide. 

Babies can be prone to dry skin during this time of year - just like us adults. I've noticed in the past few weeks that I've had to up my own applications of moisturiser, hand cream and lip balm. Babies are no different - they need a little help (especially after a bath) to make sure they don't dry up. Bepanthen Baby Moisturiser doesn't contain any fragrances, parabens, or colours. It contains Provitamin B5 which helps to protect delicate skin, and is suitable for use on sensitive skin. One of my twins has very, very sensitive skin and has had no reaction to this moisturiser at all, which is great.

On the practical side, I've found that after a bath, a little goes a long way, it doesn't have a strong smell unlike so many other moisturisers and doesn't leave any greasy residue on my hands - a must when I'm trying to dress two little wrigglers. I have been known to rob a bit for myself on occasion, but don't tell the babies.

I've already repurchased this, and will continue to do so.

Bepanthen Baby Moisturiser is available from chemists and supermarkets nationwide and costs around €7. For more information on the Bepanthen range, go to

Monday, November 3, 2014

Books I Read in October


I had a massive reading plan for October. It included several books that I've wanted to read all year but had been 'saving' for Halloween. Then, two things got in the way.

Firstly, I decided on a whim to finally go back to a HUGE book after attempting to read it almost 20 years ago. That was pretty much the entire second half of October taken up. Secondly, I got Christmas fever halfway through the month and got the urge to make cross stitched stockings for the twins. I don't know if anyone else does cross stitch - but it's SO time consuming. You can stitch for 4 hours straight and have something the size of a small matchbox at the end. That pretty much ate into all of my reading time.

All that being said, I managed to finish 8 books this month, which was okay - considering my heart just wasn't in it. My original October reading list looked like this:

  • Natsuo Kirino - Real World
  • Mary Downing Hahn - Wait 'til Helen Comes
  • Patrick Ness - A Monster Calls
  • Joyce Carol Oates - Zombie
  • Shirley Jackson - The Haunting of Hill House
  • Katie Alender - Bad Girls Don't Die
  • Curtis Richards - Halloween
  • Stefan Kiesbye - Your House is on Fire, Your Children All Gone
  • Jay Anson - The Amityville Horror
  • Johan Harstad - 172 Hours on the Moon
  • Robin Hardy - The Wicker Man
  • Emily Bronte - Wuthering Heights
  • Joe Hill - Heart Shaped Box
  • Peter Straub - Ghost Story
  • Kendare Blake - Anna Dressed in Blood
  • Norman Partridge - Dark Harvest
  • Shirley Jackson - The Lottery
This is what actually happened:

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
Every year, on June 27th, the 300+ villagers gather in the town square for the lottery. There are many preparations to do before people are allowed to draw from the box, and the story opens as the town is preparing. This was a ten minute read, full of suspense and tension, with a horrifying conclusion as the terror is slowly revealed over the last page. A fantastic short story!

The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson
112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, Long Island was the scene of a horrific homicide in 1974, where Ronnie DeFeo killed his parents and four siblings. The house was later bought by the Lutz family, who were not superstitious and didn't mind the history - at first. A mere 4 weeks after they bought the house, they fled, fearing for their sanity and their lives. This wasn't scary at all, and there were far too many exclamation marks. A huge let-down.

The Doll by JC Martin
I found this for free on Kindle while browsing - it's a short story set around "La Isla de la Munecas" or "The Island of the Dolls". Joyce and her 6 year old daughter Taylor visit the island as part of a vacation. They are told that the creepy dolls that adorn every part of the island are in honour of a little girl who drowned there, and whose spirit is said to haunt the island. As Joyce and Taylor return home after their holiday, Joyce thinks that they may have brought back something other than souvenirs.......this really creeped me out (not only because the island is a real place) and it was a great Halloween read. It could have been an episode of "Are You Afraid of the Dark" back in the day.

Dracula by Bram Stoker
I read this because it was mentioned on a thread in a book group - and several people raved about it. I think Dracula is partly to blame for the disappearance of my reading mojo around the end of the first week in October - it was a hard read. The first part, documenting Jonathan Harker's journey to Transylvania to meet the elusive Count Dracula was amazing. Atmospheric, dark, filled with suspense - it was just brilliant. Unfortunately, that all went to the dogs and we were then treated to a couple of hundred pages of letters, meetings, and general waffling about how to catch Dracula. There wasn't nearly enough of the man himself, and the ending was boring. Not remotely scary and I wanted Dracula to burst in and eat the stupid men at the end.

Diane Hoh - The Wish (Point Horror Nightmare Hall)
I had picked up some Point Horrors at a boot sale earlier in the year, and only remembered them last month. The Wish was pretty much a Big rip-off, but with a 90s horror twist - Alex is unnerved by the scary fortune-telling wizard booth in the local pizza place. When her friends start making wishes and they begin to come true in terrible ways, Alex remains skeptical about the wizard.......until she becomes a target.

Diane Hoh - Truth or Die (Point Horror Nightmare Hall)
Parrie just started at Salem University and doesn't know anyone. She attaches herself to a group of girls and gets embroiled in a game of Truth or Dare that turns very dangerous very quickly. But who is responsible for the dares that go wrong? And can Parrie stop them?

Peter Lerangis - The Yearbook (Point Horror)
David Kallas is 17 and pretty much obsessed with classmate Ariana. After a mild earthquake brings them closer, David finds himself agreeing to join Yearbook Staff as a way to spend more time with Ariana. David is on his way to the printers one night when he finds a body.........and it won't be the last.......

All 3 of these Point Horror books were standard fare - the scene is set, the tension builds, something happens to throw us off the scent, and BANG, there's the ending. I devoured so many of these when I was a child - I do have a couple more to read and I will read them, it was a nice way to spend a few hours.

Stephen King - IT
I bought a paperback of this book when I was about 12 - it was definitely the summer before I started Secondary School. The main problem I had with the book back then was that the thing was like a weapon it was that big - over 1100 pages. Also, the print is TINY. It has moved with me along with my other books for the past 19 and a half years, and when I saw it on the top of my wardrobe I thought it was about time I finished it. I'm so glad I did - while I didn't read it every day, I did find myself wanting to go back to it. It's the story of 7 friends who encounter and defeat terrible evil one summer - roll on adulthood, where 6 of the 7 are no longer living in their hometown. The seventh is now convinced that the evil is back - and asks the other 6 to return to help him defeat it once more. The book is split up into different sections, and as with all King books reads flawlessly. Every character was unique and had their own story and history. There aren't many books that top a thousand pages but never get drawn out or boring. Stunning. It may have taken me the guts of two decades, but I got there in the end!

And that was pretty much it for October - I didn't get round to reading most of my intended list, but I'll be pulling the odd one or two from it over the next month if I can shake the Christmas obsession that seems to have set in!