Monday, 26 September 2016

Angel and Alien Perfumed Candles

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The Alien and Angel fragrances have become one of those iconic scents over the years. I remember in school everyone would douse themselves in the unmistakable whiff of Angel or Alien by Thierry Mugler and it is still so recognisable and wearable today.

It is one of those fragrance lines that has amassed quite a loyal following with fans purchasing and repurchasing their favourite one which is why I am excited to say that you can now revel in your favourite Thierry Mugler scent, in your home! Mugler has managed to encapsulate these iconic perfumes within a candle which will weave a whirlwind of emotive notes throughout your living room.

If you haven't spritzed these fragrances before then I will share with you the type of scent you can expect once you've lit the wick and dimmed the lights. Angel is a delicious mixture of vanilla, caramel and chocolate notes, counterbalanced by the woody scent of patchouli.  It feels oriental and decadent. Alien is a mysterious aroma of sambac jasmine, white amber and cashmeran wood. It is warming and sensual - absolutely perfect as we slip into Autumn. In fact I am burning it now as I type and I feel all cosy and ready for crisp walks and mugs of hot chocolate!

The Angel and Alien limited edition perfumed candles are available online now - £39. Which one would be your favourite?
*this post contains samples gifted for review purposes
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Saturday, 24 September 2016

Our Bath Time Routine

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When it comes to a baby's routine it is forever changing as they grow and change over time. Nap times, the amount of feeds, the length of feeds, their bedtime, their wake up time. Despite the pattern of my days changing month on month as Florence has grown and developed there is one routine that I have managed to keep fairly consistent since she was a newborn - bath time!

Thankfully Florrie loves her bath. A real water baby (I like to think this is because she was born in water!) and bath time is a real highlight of our day. When Rob isn't working late he races home so he can give Florence a bath which I think is a really lovely bonding experience for them both. We go to town on her baths; bubbles, yellow ducks, plastic watering cans, the whole hog! It always takes place as the last activity of the day as we start to prepare her for bedtime. As for the bath time products we use, it would seem that Florence has a bigger stash of shampoos and body moisturisers than I do and I have loved using a selection of different brands during bath time since she was born. I thought I would share with you a little insight into our bath and bedtime routine and some of her favourite products.

Around 5.30pm I start running the bath for Florence, excited to wash out that bit of banana I found in her hair earlier and to see her splashing about in the water. We use this bath mat and seat from Mothercare which is ideal for your little one once they can sit up unaided and also tells you if the water is too hot. I like to add a good squirt of the Mum & Me Baby Sleep Tight Bath or the Mum & Me Baby Bath Snuffles to create some generous bubbles and fill the room with a lovely aroma. The Sleep Tight Bath is made with lavender so it very comforting and sleep-inducing whilst the Baby Bath Snuffles contains a menthol fragrance to comfort little noses. Both are fab and I think the bubbles and the scent really help her enjoy the experience and prepare her for bed.

Time to wash her hair and body. For this job I have been using a multitude of different products depending on my mood/whichever is closer for me to reach! Florence suffered from a bit of cradle cap when she was newborn and every now and again it still comes back. I love the Mum & Me Baby Shampoo as it is really gentle on her scalp but softens and relieves the dryness, thanks to the Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It leaves her hair and head smelling just beautiful...ah that lovely post-bath baby smell! There are also two combination products I have been lathering up for Florence to wash hair and body at the same time; the Petit Pai Apple & Mallow Blossom Hair & Body Wash and the Kiehl's Gentle Hair & Body Wash. I was so excited to see two of my favourite skincare brands branching out and formulating baby skin products and its reassuring to know that your baby's sensitive skin is being cared for. The Petit Pai Hair and Body Wash is gorgeous - obviously it is free of parabens and all those nasties and has a lovely gentle formula that cleanses and nourishes that beautiful delicate skin. The Kiehl's Hair and Body Wash is mild, tear-free and has a lovely light and soothing scent. Suitable for sensitive skin, it foams up nicely and leaves baby clean from top to toe.

After one more pour of the water can and a final wash in-between her toes, Florence is ready to be wrapped up warm in her hooded towel and carried upstairs for some baby lotion, a little massage and book before her final feed and bed. This sounds rather peaceful and dreamy but in reality it consists of Florence rolling around on own bed, kicking off her nappy, trying to put the tube of lotion in her mouth whilst I try to wrestle her into her baby grow! I like to moisture her skin before popping her PJs on and we have been using a few creams recently. The Petit Pai Apple and Mallow Blossom Face and Body Cream is lightweight and nourishing on delicate skin and I like the fact you can use it on the face too as Florrie sometimes gets a sore nose or a little redness under her chin. The Organic Babies Dry Skin Baby Lotion is the perfect cream to use if you want to give your little one a little massage. It contains aloe vera, cocoa and Shea butter and is soothing and scent-free. It can also be used as a nappy cream so is a useful two-in-one product to have at hand if travelling with baby.

Baby lip balm? Who knew?! I was certainly surprised when I received this product from Kiehl's but it is actually quite handy. Florence doesn't suffer from dry lips per se but sometimes can get a little red and irritated around her mouth so this is a lovely option to use...so nice that I might have to borrow it for myself if I am ever short of lip balm!

Finally you can always rely on Neal's Yard Remedies to come up with some fab, skin-loving products for mum and your little one and their baby range is just lovely. They have everything you can imagine from baby powder to shampoo and soap and will leave your bundle of joy smelling divine as you get them ready for sweet dreams. I have been particularly loving the organic baby lotion, rich in lavender and sunflower oil, the baby balm, perfect for face, body or bottom, and the pure baby oil which sinks in easily to baby's skin and makes them even more kissable and scrummy than they were before the bath.

Skin moisturised, baby grow on (finally!), book read and Grobag zipped up. It is now time to snuggle down for one of my favourite times of the day - Florence's final feed before bed. It is a special moment in my day. After a day filled with noisy play, peekaboo games, mushed up banana, umpteen nappy changes, one play date, a bit of sick on my shoulder, one tired-baby-meltdown and several untouched cold cups of tea it is finally just us two in the stillness of the darkened bedroom. I cradle this little person and however many times I have done this now, it still feels so so special. And all I can think about is how excited I am to do it all again tomorrow!
*this post contains samples gifted for review purposes
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Thursday, 22 September 2016

My Current Favourite Foundations

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When it comes to foundations and base products, I love to mix it up! I reckon it is the one product I change most frequently in my beauty routine and I love nothing more than sliding open my muji foundation drawer and deciding which liquid, cream or powder to go for that day. I am fortunate that my skin is quite forgiving so I am able to chop and change my base products freely, without any problems with my skin reacting, and without fail I pretty much wear something on my skin everyday even if it is just a simple BB cream and a coating of mascara.

I have had the pleasure of testing out a selection of new base products recently and I'm really excited to share my thoughts on them with you all. We have a BB-type cream from Clarins, a new silky foundation from Clinique, a super-coverage option from Vichy, a concealer and foundation-in-one from Revlon as well as Lancome's new cushion compact foundation.

First up is Clarins' new BB Skin Detox Fluid with SPF25 with bridges that lovely gap between makeup and skincare. It gives you a base whilst giving your skin some love! What more could you want?! It comes in four shades and provides a really nice sheer-medium coverage. It won't conceal those spots and blemishes completely but what it will do is give you an even base and a luminous complexion so is perfect for days when you don't want a heavy coverage but want to feel and look awake and perky? I love the fact it is also packed full of great ingredients that will nourish and care for your skin as you go about your day looking fab. There is aloe vera and hyaluronic acid to aid hydration, meadowsweet extract to help maintain skin's balance and white tea extracts to protect skin from environmental stressors. If you have previously loved Clarins' BB creams and their range of skincare then this is a match made in heaven!

When it comes to a brand that offers high coverage and superbly corrective foundations and concealers, you can't go far wrong with Vichy and their latest foundation is no different. Dermablend 3D Correction Foundation is a corrective foundation that is suppose to smooth the skin to minimise the appearance of 3D imperfections. Despite being quite a high coverage base product, the feeling of this foundation is still quite light and comfortable on the skin and gives a long-lasting matte effect. I personally don't mind using quite high coverage foundation providing the formula is loose enough to apply only a little and buff it lightly all over my face. This foundation does this and gives an absolutely flawless finish to your makeup, concealing redness and blemishes easily. I love it especially as I find I don't then need to go in with a concealer or powder afterwards and can skip straight to the rest of my makeup.

Next up is one of my favourites from this line up, the new Clinique Superbalanced Silk Makeup. I have always enjoyed Clinique's base products and their newest release is just beautiful on the skin. The glass bottle without a pump is a little annoying, as I do like to moderate how much foundation I dispense at one time, but once you start buffing this onto your skin all is forgotten! It is really lightweight with quite a fluid texture that honestly feels like silk to apply. It has SPF 15 and leaves your complexion with a natural, matte base with a medium coverage. It would be great for oily or combination skin I reckon and I just love how it feels and sits on my skin. You don't need to powder much after applying it and it covers any redness or blemishes really well. Just lovely!

Sometimes it can be tricky matching and choosing your concealer to suit you foundation so Revlon have made that dilemma a little bit simpler with their new ColorStay 2-in-1 Compact Makeup & Concealer. It includes a creamy foundation along with a complementary concealer, one shade lighter. The product also includes a mirror and a sponge, making it a super easy compact to sling in your handbag when you are on the go, but find it best applied with a flat foundation brush. I envisaged the foundation and concealer would be quite thick and heavy to apply but it actually is quite lightweight and is easily transferred from the compact onto the brush and onto your face. It blends really well with lots of little strokes of a foundation brush and it gives you a semi-matte finish with a medium to high coverage. The concealer is great and will literally erase any imperfections or dark circles, so you will feel fresh faced and ready to fake a 12 hour sleep!

Finally I have been really enjoying Lancome's new Teint Idole Ultra Cushion Foundation which is a compact that includes a liquid foundation under a mesh layer that is easily transferred by the little cushion. At first I was a bit apprehensive about the cushion application, wondering if it was just a gimmick, but it applies the foundation beautifully. The texture, coverage and feel of this foundation is very similar to the Clinique Superbalanced as they both offer a superbly silky formula with great coverage and matte finish. It really brightens up your skin, giving it a radiance without being shiny or dewy. The finish is pretty flawless, especially if you build it up a bit, and it feels velvety soft on the skin. I love the fact you can also just buy refills once your foundation has run low, which simply click in and out of the golden compact, so you don't need to buy a whole new product each time. A very luxurious foundation but definitely worth the price tag.

So these are my current five favourite foundations, concealers and base products of the minute - something for all occasions I feel. I would love to know if you have tried, and are loving, any of these products and if not, what is your favourite foundation right now?
*this post contains samples gifted for review purposes
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Friday, 16 September 2016

Viktor & Rolf Bonbon Couture Eau de Parfum

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Bonbon has grown up!

In Spring 2014, the original Bonbon fragrance, by Viktor & Rolf, was introduced to the world and everyone fell head over heels in love with its caramel-sweet scent with fruity notes. It was one of those perfect Summer scents to wear. Light and pretty. I'll be honest - I remember buying it mainly because of that gorgeous pink bow bottle, but the perfume was very lovely too.

Fast forward two years and Bonbon now has an older, more mature sister which brings its own opulence to the range. Welcome Bonbon Couture. If Bonbon was made for the summer then Bonbon Couture is definitely more suited to Autumnal days and fancy nights out. Bonbon Couture is deeper and richer yet still pertains a lot of the sensory experience that everyone loved with the original Bonbon. You will still find that scent of caramel lingering, mixed with the warming orange blossom, yet everything is a little stronger and more intense. The layers of mandarin, neroli oil and peach keep this fragrance light and sparkly, but then the addition of sandalwood and vanilla make the overall scent woody and creamy. The caramel note keeps this EDP instantly recognisable and ensures it is warm and highly addictive...perfect if you have a sweet tooth like me!

Viktor & Rolf Bonbon Couture EDP is available from Selfridges (£57 - £109).
*this post contains samples gifted for review purposes
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Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Bobbi Brown City Collection

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New York. London. Paris. Three incredible cities that are all being celebrated by Bobbi Brown's latest collection to mark the brand's 25th anniversary. The City Collection introduces a trio of stunning eye and cheek palettes, each one adorned with an evocative sketch of Bobbi's favourite cities. There's the cool New Yorker, the fashionable Brit and the chic Parisian. To go alongside these collectable palette is a limited edition shade of the iconic Long Wear Gel Eyeliner and Luxe Lip Color - one shade for each city.

Each shade within the limited edition palettes have carefully been selected to capture what Bobbi loves about each city - from subtle nudes for the modern New Yorker, a striking navy shimmer for us Brits and chic greys and pinks for a timeless Parisian. The beautiful blush tones also are inspired by the spirit of the city. The London Palette eyeshadows are: Pale Cream, Nude Peach, Nude Shimmer and Rich Navy. The blush, in Nectar, will finish your look off perfectly and is the prettiest rosy pink shade for your cheeks. The stunning packaging will make these such lovely keepsakes long after you have finished using the product inside.

To go with the London City Palette, there is a limited edition Gel Eyeliner in Union Jack. If you love your gel eyeliner then you will love the consistency and resistant of this product and the cobalt blue shade gives an amazing pop of colour to your lids. If you fancy something a little more subtle then New York has a Dark Chocolate shade and Paris steps out with a Gunmetal hue. The gold cap with the BB embossed crest makes this eyeliner feel so luxe and desirable to have in your collection!

The Bobbi Brown City Collection is out now and exclusively available from Harrods.
*this post contains samples gifted for review purposes
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Monday, 12 September 2016

YSL Black Opium Wild Edition

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As the days get chiller, the nights get darker and the knitwear gets heavier, it is only natural that we start to gravitate towards those richer, deeper fragrances. I, for one, love my summer-fresh, zesty, fruity scents but as Autumn draws in, I start to switch up my daily spritz and opt for a more opulent mix of perfumes.

2014 saw the launch of one of Yves Saint Laurent's most hotly anticipated fragrances - Black Opium Eau de Parfum. It was the shot of that intoxicating coffee note that really set it apart and made it the perfect Winter scent. I gushed all about the original EDP on my blog nearly two years ago. Now YSL have released a limited Wild Edition of this perfume - same electrifying scent but housed within a highly collectable bottle.

The bottle is gorgeous and will definitely add a splash of mystery and sparkle to your dressing table. The glitter-effect faux fur coat wraps itself around the bottle, and is finished with a rose gold border to add a edgy look to the scent. Inside you will find the same mix of bitter coffee, radiant white flowers, soft vanilla and woody cedar which makes Black Opium such an appealing fragrance. It is round and deep and guaranteed to warm you up on those wintery days.

Available now online (£47 for 30ml/£66 for 50ml/£87 for 90ml)
*this post contains samples gifted for review purposes
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Friday, 9 September 2016

Florence's Weaning Essentials

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It really doesn't seem five minutes ago since my whole daily routine was geared up around the 12 plus feeds my hungry newborn was having, all day and all night. Those cosy days, nestled up on the sofa with a half sleeping, half feeding baby, watching endless series on Netflix and trying to catch a quick nap myself.

Now, seven months later, my days couldn't be more different and one of the biggest changes has been the introduction of food and the serious lack of those daytime, sofa cuddles...much to my sadness. Florence is always on the go, she is curious, alert and so easily distracted whenever I am trying to feed her. Just before she was six months she became increasingly excited and dribbly whenever we ate food around her, constantly reaching out and trying to partake in our evening meal. We were given the go ahead from our health visitor to start introducing Florence to some solid food and so our weaning journey began. In this post I thought I would share with you some weaning essentials I have been using day to day that have made this process that little bit easier, and also my reflections so far after weaning Florence for nearly a month now.

After six months of looking after my baby I was begin to feel rather competent in this whole parenting thing. I knew what I was doing, and when to do them, and my days generally followed a lovely familiar pattern. However once I started to think about weaning, it was like I was thrown in the deep end again and I literally didn't have a clue where to begin. Thankfully there are loads of books and resources online to help you along this journey and give you ideas of what to give your baby, when and how to incorporate them with your normal milk feeds. I purchased a couple of Annabel Karmel books and read them cover to cover, and still refer to them today to give me ideas of meal plans and snacks for Florence.

To begin with I wanted to start Florence off with purees and slowly build up to some finger foods and continue with a Baby Led Weaning approach from 7 months onwards. These books gave us some great ideas for making your own purees so we purchased a couple of ice cube trays and spent the weekend before blending, whizzing and freezing down batches of sweet potato, carrot and butternut squash mush! We have also been testing out some of these My Little Piccolo pouches of mediterranean goodness which Florence has been enjoying. I love the story behind this new brand and the flavour combinations have even left me having a quick taste from the bowl. Considering one of our favourite places is Italy and we adore the healthy approach to family dining and nutritious meals the Italians adopt, we were always going to champion these little pouches. I love the fact they add interesting flavours, a hint of mint or a pinch of cinnamon, to really excite your baby's taste buds. The website also gives you some recipe ideas of things you can make with the purees, such as apple and apricot muffins or banana blueberry cake, which I definitely will be trying.

After a quick sweep of Boots I picked up a few more essentials which I use most meal times - umpteen packets of wet wipes (we like using Water Wipes), feeding spoons and bibs (I like these ones as they catch those chunks of food that miss the mouth!). I also bought one of those feeding, nibbler net things but I haven't used it yet but it might be quite good for those foods such as mango or avocado that always gets a bit too slippery for her little fingers!

Finally, one of the first things we got before Florence embarked on her weaning journey, was her highchair. We have the Orb Highchair from Ickle Bubba which seems to do the job perfectly. It was really easy to put together and I love the clean lines and minimal look to it. It comes in a variety of fun and vibrant colours and has a newborn foam insert which makes it a bit more cushioned and a snug fit for little Florence. The seat can be swivelled 360 degrees which is quite handy rather than repositioning the whole highchair and the tray can be removed for easy cleaning - perfect after those messy meal times!

I would love to hear from you if you too have recently started weaning your baby. What other essentials do I need? I think I need to get some sort of splash mat, food catching sheet to place under her highchair as she continues to propel food left, right and centre! I look forward to hearing your tips and thoughts as you go along this weaning journey with me!
*this post contains samples gifted for review purposes
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