Friday, July 31, 2015

Gerda Spillman Hydro Pearls - Review

Now as I'm sure you have gathered, I'm a Birchbox fan.  Incidentally, this product was in my first ever Birchbox and I was so impressed with it, I decided to take the plunge and invest.

I'll be honest, I'd never heard of Gerda Spillman prior to this point but since then I've done my research (as you'd expect from me!).  In America, she is best known for her Bio-Fond Foundation which helps to improve problem skin as well as protecting you from the sun.  Any make-up which helps to improve temperamental skin in the long run is a winner in my books.

Part of the appeal of Madame Spillman's products is that they are almost all hydrophillic, meaning that you can combine them with water and they'll still be effective.  In essence, they help to nourish your skin and in turn, the effects of the products which you use on your skin last longer.  The Hydro Pearls make-up primer is just one of many products in her range which falls into the above category.
Whilst it's primary function is as a primer it's also a light moisturising fluid, thus making this yet another multi-tasking wonder in my arsenal!  As a moisturiser, it helps to protect your skin from environmental pollutants, and as it's water based, it keeps your skin feeling hydrated for longer.

I think the moisturising aspect of the product makes it ideal for the colder months as it'll provide an extra layer of hydration for my skin.

As a primer, in all honesty, I would say this is in league with my Laura Mercier Primers (*shock horror*), if not, dare I say it, better?  It reduced the appearance of my pores and left my skin with a silky flawless finish. On a good skin day, I'd be quite content to wear this with just a little blush and a slick of mascara before dashing out of the house.
The pump dispenser does come in quite handy in terms of ensuring you only use what you need. In addition, as the product is water based, it doesn't need much encouragement to break down and sink into your skin (for lack of a better explanation it is quite watery). 

As a heads up, if you've got more of an oily skin type, then I would say to apply this instead of your usual moisturiser as it may be a little bit much if you're looking to layer this on top of your usual skin care routine.  

I have normal/combination skin and I use this on top of whichever moisturiser I'm using that day and I find it's perfect for me, but I have heard on the grapevine that those with oily skin should exercise a little more caution in this respect.

I bought this directly from the Birchbox store for £30 for 100ml which is incredible value for money: as a cheeky bonus I actually had enough Reward Points to get £10 off my purchase.  One pump is enough for the entire face so whilst it might cost a wee bit initially, my mini Birchbox sample almost lasted a month with everyday use so I know this will be around for a fair old while.

Have you discovered a new primer recently? 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Our Croatian Adventure - Things to Do in Cavtat Part 2

If you tend to get a little stir crazy whilst on holiday, then this post may be for you. Today, I'm sharing just a couple of excursions which you can indulge in whilst in Cavtat. Of course, there are many many more options available on top of the two which I'm talking about today but I wanted to ensure we had plenty of time to relax by the sea during our short 7-day trip away.
First up on the list is our half day sea kayaking tour which we booked with Adventure Cavtat. This is a 2.5-3 hour tour which leaves from Cavtat harbour. This trip allows you to take in the Old Town from a distance before following the coast line towards an uninhabited island.
Throughout the trip you make a few stops whereby your guide will tell you a little about the history of Cavtat and share some local legends (and take a few shots of you in action if you ask nicely!).
Once you reach the island, there's time for a scrummy sandwich and some water before a short trek around the island itself.
If you fancy, there's also the opportunity to dive into a lagoon for a spot of swimming or snorkelling before heading back out to sea to complete the journey home.
This was one of our favourite parts of the trip, not least of all because it was just me, the other half and our tour guide Antonija. It felt like we'd had a private tour! We'd never been kayaking before, and whilst it was a little choppy at times on the sea, it was great to try something new.

Oh, and in case you're worried, you're given big waterproof barrels for all of your belongings so they won't get damaged or wet while you're out and about. As you've no doubt spotted, we were given life jackets as well, just in cases of course.
The other excursion we indulged in was the Elafiti Islands cruise on a replica galleon ship. After all, who doesn't want to feel like a pirate for the day?
During this day long tour which leaves from Dubrovnik, you will visit Kolocep, Sipan and Lopud all the while soaking up the Dalmatian sunshine.
This was probably one of the most expensive tours we did, but the price included the day long trip, some live music during our travels and a traditional lunch consisting of fish, vegetables and wine.
The first island was Kolocep which was the smallest of the islands. I was quite surprised to spot a hotel and a proper sandy beach here given that there are no cars or proper roads on the island at all.
We had about 30 minutes of free time here so we took a slow dawdle around the coast line before venturing back to the ship to continue on our travels.
Next up was Sipan which was the largest of the three islands we visited. Here you could still see some of the effects of the war with many buildings missing their roof or looking rather dilapidated. We'd been told the planning rules were quite rigid which meant locals would simply buy a new home as opposed to fixing their old one as they simply could not afford it. 
Here, we took the opportunity to venture to the local church and climb the many steps to the top of church tower.
From the top, you could see for miles and take in all of the olive groves.
Once we finished, we took some time to look around the church before heading back to the boat again for a bite to eat and to continue onto our final stop.
Again, you can see that the churches here are massively different to those we saw in Rome. They're certainly more modest for a start!
The final island on our tour was Lopud where we had the opportunity to hang about for around 3 hours before heading home.

Here we ventured to the local monastery, the local gardens and decided to sit back and relax on the beach.
We had hoped to venture a little further afield, however, the heat was so stifling that it felt like a little too much for us.
Seeking shade in the gardens seemed like one of the best things which we could do to battle the heat. That and scoffing an ice cream or two alongside downing as much water as you could manage in a short space of time.
After a fairly chilled out day, it was time to head home. It was at this time our captain pulled down the sails to take advantage of the windy weather and draw us home even faster.
All in all, I think we made the right choice with these two excursions as they were certainly a great way to get about and take in more of the country in a short space of time. If I had to pick only one tour, it'd be the kayaking as it was just amazing and so much fun. Not to mention, it was a frikken great work out to boot!

Next week I'll be talking Dubrovnik and Game of Thrones! I hope you're enjoying my mini travel series so far and that it's inspiring you to head to Croatia. Ad and I would go back in a heartbeat if we had the opportunity.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Outfit of the Day - The Little White Dress

Well I think it's safe to say, we've finally had some real summery weather in London, with temperatures on the tube hitting a reported 36 degrees which is absolutely stifling. Summer in London doesn't just mean both ladies and gents donning less clothing, it also means Wimbledon and of course Wimbledon whites!
Whilst I'm not personally a fan of the tennis, I can't pass up the opportunity to feel super girly and slip into something light and airy.
I managed to nab this super cute dress from Gap at the start of their summer sales and I can safely say it's been getting plenty of use despite its highly impractical colour.
Today I'm wearing:

Dress: Gap
Heels: Clarks
Bag: Mango
Belt: Topshop 

What I love about this dress is the cute cut out detailing which is all over the top layer of fabric. It's much more noticeable on the arms as you can spot my skin peeking through. It's this small detailing which take this from a boring and plain white dress to quite a sweet yet cheeky number.
Whilst the top section is fairly fitted, the sleeves have just enough give to ensure this dress doesn't feel constrictive. The skirt element is full and weighty meaning you get a nice little bit of swing as you potter down the street. Oh, and it also hides some (not so) secret pockets!
As the dress is such a statement piece, I kept things simple with a tan belt and strappy heels but you could be bolder and pair it with a brighter belt and pumps, I myself have tried this with a red belt and matching ballet pumps for a bold hit of colour.
With the weather being so hot and sticky, it's hard to keep my hair and make-up in check so I kept things simple by letting my hair air dry and swiping on a hint of coral lipstick. How can you not smile when the weather is this lovely?

How have you been wearing your whites this summer? Have you been making the most of the beautiful weather?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Our Croatian Adventure - Things to do in Cavtat Part 1

Last Monday, I shared the first travel based post which centred around where we'd decided to stay during our first trip to Croatia, namely the beautiful town of Cavtat. Whilst Cavtat is a small town with a population of around 2000 peoples, there is no shortage of bits and pieces which you can do during your stay!

First of all, I'll share things which you can do in Cavtat itself, starting with a visit to Our Lady of the Snow.
This is quaint little church which is set right by the ocean front. You have the opportunity to light a candle if you so wish or just sit and take in the artwork which is dotted around the church. Given that this is one of only two churches in the area, it's surprisingly peaceful and is a lovely spot to sit and gather your thoughts.

Having been to Rome last year, what struck me the most about churches in this part of the world is how simplistic they are.
So long as you're at this end of Cavtat, the next thing which you can do stroll through the Old Town and head up towards the Mausoleum to take in some of the gorgeous views.
As a word of warning, there are A LOT of steps involved in reaching the Mausoleum, but the views on the way up, and once you get there of course, are totally worth it.
Just try not to think of the steps and focus on the fact that if you want to be able to keep sipping cocktails and eating your weight in pizza and pasta you've got to do some form of exercise.
The Mausoleum belongs to the Racic family and was constructed in 1921. Inside the Mausoleum is the inscription "know the mystery of love and thou shalt solve the mystery of death and believe that life is eternal." It really is a beautiful piece of architecture being constructed entirely of stone with bronze doors.
The views from the top are beautiful and truly worth the effort of trudging up all of those steps. Once you've finished up the top, it's time to dawdle down the steep hill and potter around the rest of peninsular. 
There are two main sections here and I would say it'll take a couple of hours to waddle around both. They both front the sea and there are plenty of benches dotted around where you can take a break if you need to.
As you finish the first loop, you'll head back towards the Church of St. Nicholas and the Rectors Palace. Whilst we didn't venture into the Rectors Palace as it's closed on a Sunday, we did have the opportunity to enter the church.
Again, you'll notice it's very paired back, but this church is significantly bigger than Our Lady of the Snow. 

Other things which you can do also include visiting the House of Vlaho Bukovac, a famous Croatian painter which features some lovely gardens and many original features which date back to the 19th Century. On top of this there are also art galleries, the opportunity to sit and watch the yachts come in along the harbour, watch some water polo or just sit along the water front and fish.

What Cavtat lacks in size, it more than makes up for in charm, friendliness and generally focusing on the more important things in life (relaxing with friends over cake and coffee as opposed to sitting on laptop!). 

Next week I'll focus on some popular excursions which you do from Cavtat if you'd like more of a sense of Adventure!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Outfit of the Day - The Oriental Playsuit

As I'm sure you've gathered by now, at the end of June, Ad and I ventured over to Croatia for the first time. I can't say I did a good job of capturing many of my outfits (although most of the time I was just in my bikini! You don't need to see that!) but I managed to get a few shots of one or two pieces.
On the day these shots were taken, we had ventured into Dubrovnik to take part in a Game of Thrones Tour and to venture up the cable car to get a better view of the city (more on both points in another post!). The lovely little orange box around my neck is my radio so I can keep up to speed with our guide.
Today I'm wearing:

Playsuit: Oasis
Hat: Oasis
Sunglasses: Ralph Lauren
Bag: Mango
Shoes: Birkenstocks

As it was so hot out there, I knew that I needed something comfortable and non-clingy whilst pottering about the city. Whilst a playsuit might not spring to mind as the most practical outfit, you'd be surprised to know that this really was incredibly comfy.
The fabric is light and it didn't cling at all during our day out in the city. It was also pretty easy to slip into and out of when nature called owing to the dinky spaghetti straps which I could simply slip off my shoulders whenever the need arose. Also, that print is simply gorgeous, I don't think it could get much more summery if it tried.
Throughout the duration of our tour there weren't many shady spots so a hat and sunglasses are two essentials to avoid the dreaded sunburnt head and ears! The Mango bag also went everywhere with me owing to light coloured fabric print which went with almost every outfit. I'm convinced that it's the material that ensured my lip balm didn't melt during our stay.
I'd never worn my Birkenstocks prior to going away, but I have to say they were the most comfortable flip flops I own, my feet felt super supportive and I didn't get a single blister or sore spot during the week. I'd been a little sceptical about them prior to this point, but I have to say, I lived in them whilst we were away.
All in all, I'm pretty pleased with my outfit choice for the city, if I can be so bold as to say it was almost chic despite the sunscreen soaked hair!
I'm hoping to get a little more wear from the playsuit now we're back in the city, as my legs have got a touch more colour to them, I'm a bit more confident about baring my pins. As a complete aside, I cannot say enough how much I loved this city, it's so gorgeous!
What would you wear for a day exploring the city? How would you style this playsuit? Have you spotted any gorgeous summery playsuits this season?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Our Croatian Adventure - Staying in Cavtat

So I'm finally back on the blogging front. Thanks for bearing with me over the last few weeks but I do find it's good to take a break from the net every once in a while to recharge the old batteries. 
In terms of what I've been up to, well, Ad and I recently came back from our first ever trip to Croatia. I'd done some serious research prior to planning this trip (it's kinda my thing) and decided to book our stay at the Hotel Croatia in the beautiful little harbour town of Cavtat. The photo above is the view from our hotel bar so I'm hoping you can see it's appeal already!
When researching the trip, I knew we both wanted the following: to go somewhere new, to go somewhere which wasn't too touristy, go somewhere which had plenty of things to do and somewhere which had great food (of course!).
Cavtat is just a short 10-15 minute drive from Dubrovnik airport and has a population of around 2000 people making it a fairly quiet little resort. Despite being quite close to the airport, the planes don't start coming in until fairly late in the morning and finish around 9pm. The arrivals and departures are few and far enough between that you don't really notice the comings and goings all that much.
I can safely say this place isn't a tourist trap at all, I'd even go as far as to say that it's far enough off the beaten track that it regularly attracts numerous celebrities, footballers and millionaires on their super yachts who regularly make port and stay at the harbour for several days at a time. It was quite enjoyable to watch the yachts coming in as I've never seen anything like it up close.
This one in particular caused quite a stir when it arrived, apparently costing almost half a million dollars a week to charter!

Cavtat has two harbour sections on separate peninsulas which are both a short walk apart. The main harbour which I've featured above has the vast majority of Cavtat's fantastic restaurants many of which are situated right on the water front giving you a prime spot to watch the yachts come in and the sun go down.
Now, just because Cavtat is small, don't go thinking that you won't find a good spot to eat! We ate at so many great restaurants and I can honestly say, we didn't have a bad meal the entire time we were there. Most places all have a strong Italian influence with pizza, pasta and fresh seafood all featuring on most menus. Given the freshness of the seafood, it should come as little surprise to my readers that I had to have a seafood pizza. What might surprise you though is that most of our meals, including alcohol, came in at 200 Kuna or less, which is around £20.
If high dining is your thing though, then Restaurant Bugenvila, which is situated on the main strip, is definitely worth a visit. We both wolfed our way through three courses which were more than worthy of a Michelin star and several show-stopping cocktails. 
Whilst the meal came to 900 Kuna, you need to bear in mind this included three courses each, three cocktails and a large glass of beer. As it's number 1 ranked on Trip Advisor, I would strongly recommend you book in advance as this place is almost always fully booked well in advance.
If you're looking for something a little more pared back, then it's worth heading around to the second harbour where many of the locals dock their boats. Here's where you'll find even more laid back restaurants which offer local wine by the litre and a stunning spot to watch the sunset.
Another big plus for me after having eaten so much food is that are so many spots where you're free to just pop down a beach towel and dive right into the water. The water is so clear and so beautiful it's hard to resist going for a swim every day to cool down. Just bear in mind you'll be sharing the water with some fishes, don't be too startled if they brush up against you.
Cavtat really does have something for everyone, gorgeous scenery, fantastic food, beautiful crystal clear waters, spots to sit back while watching the world pass by and some piece and quiet.
If I could, I'd go back in heartbeat, after all, who wouldn't miss staring at that view every evening?

I hope you've enjoyed this post, I plan an doing some extra travel based posts on things to do in the local area which I hope will be helpful if you're planning a trip away soon!

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