Saturday, November 29, 2014

Our Roman Holiday - Day Three

Day three was due to see an absolute ton of rain so we decided that today was as good a day as any to venture over to the Vatican. We arrived at around 10 and were lucky as we only had to queue for around 30 minutes before venturing into the Vatican Museums.
The Museums themselves were incredibly vast and you need to ensure you've donned some of your comfiest shoes before embarking on this mission. Naturally we wanted to head straight for the Sistine Chapel which takes you past some gorgeous art pieces.
This particular walkway really stuck with me as despite looking three dimensional, it's actually just incredibly clever shading, namely chiaroscuro playing with light and shadow. Whilst you can't take pictures inside the Sistine Chapel, I did make a point of finding all of the key features without lingering for too long, that place was BUSY!
After we left the Vatican Museums, it was time to head over St Peter's Square where I'd hoped to have a peek around the Basilica.
Sadly the queue was enormous, it was from entrance to the Basilica and pretty much circled around the entire square and that thing ain't small by any stretch. We were looking at around a three hour wait and we took the tough decision that as there were so many other bits and pieces to do, we simply didn't have the time to hang around and moved on.
We indulged in a slight bit of shopping with Ad grabbing himself possibly the biggest Stitch toy I've ever seen and me hitting up Kiko Cosmetics and Brandy Melville before having a nose at some more ruins. However, the weather was really closing in so we were conscious of finding some shelter.
Just look at that sky! I can assure you, the heavens really did open, it rained so much, my coat was soaked, my tops underneath my coat were drenched and my umbrella actually started leaking. I've not seen rain like this in a long time, it was literally bouncing off the floor!
Given the downpour, it was time to finally head into the Santa Maria Maggiore which you might recall is the Basilica which we can see from our room. I have to say, it was impressive and certainly lived up to it's reputation as the largest Catholic Marian church in Rome. It was tough to get some good photos as it was fairly dimly lit but this simply added to the atmosphere. 
Tonight we opted for a night in snuggled under the covers watching the thunderstorm and munching on a platter of cured meats and crunchy bread.

Only one more day to go before we had to head home!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sephora Mini Haul

I recently made my first ever visit to Italy with my other half. Apart from the opportunity to sample some awesome food, one of the things which I was most excited about was being able to visit a Sephora, something of a beauty mecca and a place where I'd been dying to go for some time.

Whilst the stores in Rome were great, I was left feeling a little disappointed as they didn't stock some of the brands which I'd been hoping to get my mitts on, namely Tarte, Kat Von D, Elizabeth & James and Josie Maran to name but a few. Irrespective of this, I was grateful to be able to grab some Sephora own brand items to take home and try.

Naturally, being a nail varnish fiend I wanted to bring home some of the infamous Formula X polishes. The three shades which I picked up are from left to right; A+, a rich raspberry shade which is pretty similar to Ciates Knickerbocker Glory, albeit slightly darker; Thrill, a cloudy nude which has a hint of grey and Centigrade a deep and moody blue which is perfect for winter. 

The System promises to help your polish last longer and the idea is that you use the cleanse and prime steps before adding the colour of your choice and finishing off with the shine top coat. So far, I've only used A+ and can only say the colour went on smoothly, has a great shine and does appear to be wearing pretty well. I'm pretty heavy handed so I expect chips around the 3-4 day mark but thus far not a chip in sight (we're at day three). I'll keep you posted.

As you can see, I also grabbed a fair few of the Sephora sheet masks to try, namely the Rose Mask which helps to moisturise and brighten, the Pomegranate Mask to energise and reduce fatigue, the Green Tea Mask to help with blemishes, the Honey Mask to moisturise and balance and the Lotus Mask to hydrate and sooth (which I've used and will review shortly).

First impressions are that these masks are literally saturated with product so it seems a shame to pop them in the bin after only one use. What I love about them is that they're in individual sachets so they're great for travelling and I also really like that you don't need to rinse the product off when you're finished, just rub in the excess.

Whilst this is a short but sweet post of initial first impressions of two very different products, I'll be sure to post my full thoughts soon, Don't worry, when it comes to the sheet masks I'll be sure to post a super embarrassing snap of me giving them a test run. 

Did I miss a trick in Sephora? What other own brand products should I consider grabbing next time?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Our Roman Holiday - Day Two

Welcome to day two, I should forewarn you that this was a mammoth day in terms of what we managed to get done. Looking back on things, we covered a heck of a lot of ground on foot. This was also the only day it didn't rain so I suppose it's a good job really!
First on the list was to have a good old nose around the Colosseum, as we had bought our tickets the day before, we were able to head straight in without joining any queue which was great. We were hounded a fair old bit outside as to whether we wanted a tour guide, but Ad and I are always quite content to potter around things on our own and read the placards dotted around.
The inside of Colosseum is pretty spectacular, it's so hard to imagine how this sort of thing was built without modern day technology, not to mention a crane or two dotting the skyline!
From inside you get a pretty good view of the Arco di Costantino which was built back in the year 312. It's crazy to think how old some of these monuments are!
After we finished at the Colosseum, we headed towards the Il Vittoriano, a monument to Italy's first King. Whilst we didn't go in, this thing was completely obscene, it was enormous, made of marble and viewable from several spots around Rome.
Next, we took a stroll around to the Piazza Navona which you'll no doubt recognize from the Angels & Demons movie. I just wanted a peak at the Fountain of Four Rivers more than anything, it's odd to see the traditional Roman sculpture juxtaposed against the ancient Egyptian style obelisk with all of its hieroglyphs.
After this, it was time for a bite to eat in a traditional style trattoria before heading over to the Pantheon which is another of Rome's iconic landmarks.
Inside was seriously impressive, I had no idea how they managed to construct the ceiling so perfectly all that time ago. If you fancy some gelato, there's a fab place nearby called Della Palma which was great value for money, 3.50 Euro for three scoops.
Hell yeah!
With a full tummy it was time to trundle on over towards the Spanish Steps (the view from the bottom was rather spoilt by an ill placed H&M Advert, hence why I'm not sharing) before heading over towards the Trevi Fountain.
This was the biggest disappointment of our whole trip, for those of you looking to head to Rome, you should be aware that the Trevi Fountain is currently undergoing a 20-month restoration project so there really is nothing to see here. I'd had hoped to pop in a coin and make a wish, alas, there's no water.
As such, we made our way to the final stop of the day, the Santa Maria della Vittoria which houses Bernini's Ecstasy of St Teresa which was quite an impressive sight in the late afternoon sun to say the least. If you're planning on stopping here, be careful of the people holding up the door and asking for pennies for the Church (Chiesa), there is actually a collection box inside.

Wow, that really was a busy day eh? Only another couple of days in Rome before it was time to head home.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Jo Malone - Wood Sage & Sea Salt

No holiday would be complete without a mini splurge at the airport. I've been on the hunt for a new perfume for a while and rather than packing something to take with me, I really enjoy buying something whilst I'm perusing the duty free, not least of all because there are some serious bargains to be had. 

Regular readers of the blog will know I've been stalking my local Jo Malone for a while and I'm pleased to say, I finally made my mind up. As you can tell from the title of the post, I opted for the Wood Sage & Sea Salt which is actually kind of surprising given the usual scents I go for.
There's just something comforting about the combination of earthy sage tones with the freshness of the sea salt which really works. It reminds me of walking along the beach in New Zealand and breathing in that lovely fresh sea air, it's so hard to describe!

It's slightly musky, but not so musky it looses any trace of femininity. At the same time, this is actually a unisex fragrance so don't expect any girly floral notes either. What I will say is that this is a perfect fragrance for autumn and winter, it just conjures up warming and peaceful memories. I am TERRIBLE at describing perfume clearly, all I can say is that both Ad and I love it and you should go and check it out for yourself.

How would you describe the Wood Sage & Sea Salt fragrance? Have you tried this scent yet?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Our Roman Holiday - Day One

So, if you missed me recently, it was because Ad and I recently visited Rome for a few days. Being very much in need of a break, I embraced the opportunity to take some time off from blogging as well with a view to really recharging my batteries. 
So, we took an early(ish) flight from Gatwick over to Italy whereon we had to hop onto the Leonardo Express train to get into the centre of the city. It took about 30-35 minutes to get from the airport to Rome Terminus Station. I would like to say though, for an express train, it certainly went no faster than 50mph but given there were no stops I shouldn't complain.
You can tell I'm simply delighted with the speed at which we're travelling. We booked our travel for November as we'd hoped to miss the bad end of the tourist season and therefore the queues. Whilst we were able to get into most things fairly quickly, I would like to point out for any would be travellers that during November, a lot of the big attractions shut at 4:30 so we had a lot to cram in over the next few days.
We arrived at our B&B at around 2pm and this was the view from our room. Isn't in amazing? We stayed on the Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore (this is the Monti & Esquilino District if you're wondering) which is about a 5-7 minute walk from the train station and about the same to the Colosseum. Despite being in such a good location, it was pretty quiet in the evenings which made for a good nights sleep.
As we only had a couple of hours before things began to close, we decided to try and get around the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. The tickets were about 12 Euro each and are valid for two days, you get one entry to the Forum and also one entry included to the Colosseum as well. I'd strongly recommended getting your tickets from the Roman Forum ticket booth as there were no queues!
I believe that the arch you can see here was apparently the inspiration for the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and was one of many imposing archway style monuments which we saw during our time in Rome.
The area itself was pretty vast but we were pretty lucky in that we managed to scoot around most of the area before the heavens finally opened and we both got soaked. For those of you unfamiliar with Rome, the Roman Forum was essentially the centre of the ancient city and featured some of the most extravagant basilicas and marble temples back in the day so it's a must see during your time here.
If you're running tight on time like we were, I'd certainly recommend heading straight for Palatine Hill, the views from up here were beautiful and when it was clear, you had a spectacular view of the city.
As we headed out we spotted the Colosseum again, but by this point it was far too late to have a peek around. Instead, we headed for Zizzi Pizza in the Piazza San Martino Ai Monti which was just far enough away for an authentic pizza. The food here was amazing and all of this grub only set us back 18 Euro which was an absolute steal.
After our meal, we headed back to the Colosseum to take some photos of it all lit up. It was quite breathtaking to see as it's such an imposing building.
As you can see, it was a pretty packed day so we were glad for an early night before our action packed second day in the city.

Stay tuned for Day Two of Our Roman Holiday!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Aromatherapy Associates - Ultimate Bath & Shower Collection

During last years sales, I was determined to bag me some bargains from SpaceNK. I'd been rather keen to try the rather lovely Aromatherapy Associates for some time, but I was struggling to decide what fragrance to go for. Having been on a sniffing mission, I was struggling to pick just ONE
During the scales, I managed to get my mitts on the Aromatherapy Associates Ultimate Bath & Shower Collection for a mere £25.00 reduced from £50.00. What use is this to you I hear you cry? Well I've spotted this exact same kit on Look Fantastic for £42.50 which you can grab HERE.

What's great about this collection is that it contains nine 7.5ml bottles of some of their best selling fragrances including Relax Deep, Relax Light, De-stress Mind, De-Stress Muscle and Support Breathe to mention but a few. This obviously gave me a chance to try a little bit of everything before making a final decision. After being burgled last Christmas, one of the first things I did (besides waiting for the Police to do their thing and leave) was to run a hot bath full of the Relax Deep which really helped me to calm down with it's beautiful combination of camomile and sandalwood. 
To use, just pick your oil of choice, head to bathroom and start running a bath. I tend to use three capfulls of oil which is more than enough to fill not only my bathroom with gorgeous fragrance, but my entire house as well! As you can see, I've taken a fair chunk out of the Support Lavender & Peppermint which is fabulous for when you're feeling a wee bit under it.
Presently, I'm full of some kind of cold, naturally it's kicked in right before I'm due to go away on holiday. I've been coughing a fair old bit, my eyes are dry and sore and my head literally feels as though someone is giving it a good old squeeze. Ughhhhhhh.

A big old bath of this stuff along with a mini pamper session is just what the Dr ordered. What's really great is that the fragrance sticks around meaning you can keep it with you as the day goes on. For my lovely readers who are keen to pick up a bargain in this years sales, I'd recommend heading over to SpaceNK now to take a peek at what's available. Click HERE to check out the new festive range and be sure to check back on Boxing Day!

All in all, this kit is great value for money and a fabulous opportunity to try a little bit of everything from such a well established brand. What do you? What's your favourite Aromatherapy Associates fragrance?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Outfit of the Day - Reworking A Summer Purchase

For those of you outside of the UK, the weather in London has been incredibly grim as of late. Rain, followed by a gale so blustery your umbrella isn't having any of it, followed by more rain and a bitter chill. Whilst this makes leaving the house incredibly hard in the morning it does mean I can finally dig out the knitwear.

As it's getting cooler, I wanted to find a new way to wear one of my favourite summer buys, my faux leather skirt from Zara. In the summer, I styled it like THIS but that's obviously not weather appropriate right now, not least of all, because of the rain!
Before I get on with the post, I just want to address the elephant in the room, I look like a miserable moo in most of these pictures. I thought I was smiling, but apparently this was not the case. Anyways, moving on. Today I am wearing:-

Jumper: Cable knit from Gap in the sale last year
Skirt: Faux Leather A-Line from Zara
Boots: Marks & Spencer
First of all the sweater, I got this for something like £15 in the Gap sale on boxing day last year. Whilst it wasn't that chilly at the time, I could see this looking cute paired with skinny jeans, I love the slightly sparkly notes from the silver-esque thread which give the jumper a slightly festive feel (I know, I know).
You can see what I mean about the silver a little better in the photo above. As a sweater, it's nice and thick but not so thick I feel as though I'm walking around wearing a radiator or something. It's just thick enough that I don't need an extra layer while out and about.
I wanted to go for a slightly more androgynous/I woke up like this kinda feel with tmy outfit so a chunky knit (which is obviously not particularly figure hugging) paired with my slightly manly boots really helped create that.
To top things off I swept back my long flowing locks into a very messy bun and kept my make-up pretty minimal. I'm literally wearing some primer, mascara and a red lip to stop things looking overly feminine and forced. 
I tried to tuck the sweater into my skirt a wee bit to accentuate the fact that underneath that chunky sweater, there is in fact, a waist! This kinda failed as during the course of the day it kept coming untucked but the thought was there.

What do you think of my attempt at restyling a summer favourite for the cooler months? How would you style the skirt?
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