Saturday, 28 May 2016

Dolce & Gabbana Summer in Italy Collection

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The Dolce & Gabbana Summer in Italy Collection* | exclusively available from Harrods

Even if the sun doesn't shine much in the UK this Summer, there is one place that is always guaranteed to be touched by those golden rays and completely encapsulates the vibrancy, fun and cheerfulness that the Summer warmth can bring - Italy. From the vividness of Sicily's citrus fruits to the playful patterns of those colourful, ornate paintings, Italy is the epitome of vivacious Summer vibes. Their rich palette of foods, their chic, bold fashion and the iconic, beautifully handcrafted carvings from Italian folklore, this place is a colourful fusion of bright hues and you will find this is at the heart of Dolce & Gabbana's new Summer in Italy 2016 makeup collection.

This stunning selection of summer-bright products is a delight for the eyes....and lips, and nails! The D&G nail lacquer collection has been extended by four brand new shades and they have definitely got my talons twitching. The shades above are Orange 608, Turquoise 718 and Cyclamen 234. These polishes are gorgeously creamy, opaque and a real joy to apply and perfectly finish off that Italian Summer look.

For the lips there are two new Classic Cream Lipsticks in the shades Cyclamen 258 and Orange 440. The texture of these lipsticks is immense - so rich and creamy with amazing vibrancy and colour payoff. They can be applied lightly by dabbing them onto the lips to create a more subtle stain or can be layered up for an intense, show stopping finish that will be as hot as the Mediterranean sun!

For the eyes, Dolce & Gabbana have wowed us with two new Perfect Mono Eye Colours in Turquoise 113 and Indaco 110. These cream to powder shadows are amazing and absolutely perfect if you are brave and love experimenting with popping shades on your eyes. They can be applied easily with a small brush and smudged out for a softer look, or if you are a bit nervous of their vibrancy, simply line your upper or lower lash line for a subtle pop. I was a bit wary of the Turquoise shade to begin with but if it makes me look like the Italian goddess above then I am definitely going to give it a go! It is inspired by the glistening hue of the Mediterranean Sea. Finally there is the Kohl Pencil in Peacock which is just beautiful. Soft in texture but rich in intensity, this eye pencil delivers the most gorgeous petrol-blue hue with a slight iridescent finish to it. It is so easy to work with to create flicks and smokey lines and really gives you that sunny vibe.

What pieces from this collection have got you in the Summer spirit?
*this post contains samples gifted for review purposes
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Friday, 27 May 2016

NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams

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I feel like quite the fraudulent beauty blogger admitting this but until a few days ago, I had never tried anything from the brand NYX. Of course I had an ongoing wish list every time I read a new blog post on their gorgeous array of lip products but because I was never near a counter to 'get my swatch on', I always held back making a purchase.

So you can only imagine my excitement when I saw my local Boots had finally decided to treat us to a rather large NYX stand, merely a five minute walk from my front door! Boy oh boy, what a delight to my eyes and of course, the first thing I made a beeline for, were the NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams (£5.50). With so many shades to choose from it was all a bit overwhelming but I finally decided on just these three luscious colours...for now! From top to bottom we have: Tokyo, Cairo and Istanbul.

The Soft Matte Lip Creams were everything I imagined and more. They have that beautiful, velvety soft texture that glides on like a dream and dries down to a comfortable, long wearing matte finish. They are neither a lipstick nor a gloss but a wonderful, in-between product that feels creamy and lightweight to apply and gives an amazing colour payoff. The cushioned, tapered doe foot applicator makes it easy to apply and define the outline of your lips for a really clean, crisp finish. I absolutely love these lip products and will definitely be heading back for a few more!

Which shades would you recommend me checking out next?
*this post contains samples gifted for review purposes
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Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Stokke Xplory Cobalt Blue Stroller

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The Limited Edition Stokke Xplory Cobalt Blue Pram & Carry Cot - the ultimate connection stroller
Available online

If I were to describe the Stokke brand in three words they would be innovative, stylish and modern - everything you would expect from a Scandinavian born company whose child-centric philosophy has led to the innovation of the well-known Tripp Trapp highchair and Xplory Stroller. This pram has been developed to improve the bonding between baby and parent with their "higher is better" approach. The carry cot and seat can be adjusted freely to raise your little one up to your eye level to promote better interaction and eye contact during your leisurely strolls.

The striking Stokke Xplory has an iconic silhouette and offers you eight different colours to pick, from black, navy, grey to purple or red. However Stokke have just recently launched a new, limited edition colour way that is absolutely gorgeous and I have it in my possession, it all its bright blue glory, to take for a test drive. This Cobalt Blue edition is aesthetically beautiful if you like a stroller with a modern vibe, futuristic image and funky features and fittings! It is a far cry from the classically designed stroller that I often see being pushed around my town so my Xplory certainly receives many an approving nod and glance when I am out and about. This system comes with everything you need to transport your little one happily about the place, come rain or shine (thanks to the included rain cover, parasol, sun visor and mosquito net) and because you can raise the seat up high, it even acts as a handy highchair if you decide to stop for a bite to eat. This is great as it keeps even the most inquisitive baby happy looking around whilst you quickly down your soy latte!

So what sets this pram apart from the rest? Well firstly the ergonomically designed system makes it a smooth ride to push along even on the most uneven of surfaces. The easy 360 degree swivel wheels makes it easy to manoeuvre around tight spaces and the open design with space between the wheels and no crossbar means you don't end up stubbing your toes on your pram as you walk along. The Stokke Stroller Seat has three parent-facing positions (so you can use it from newborn with the lying down position and the newborn insert) and two forward-facing positions which gives you and your baby plenty of versatility and a change of scenery every time you step out. It has an adjustable footrest to eliminate dangling feet and both the carry cot and stroller seat are finished with plush linings and padded interiors to keep your baby safe and cosy. The carry cot, featured above, is ideal for newborns to six month olds and includes integrated pockets for popping in your keys or phone to save you taking an additional bag out, ventilation in the hood to avoid overheating, a visor to protect from sun and wind and carry handles to seamlessly move a sleeping baby from stroller to sitting room. (Although, I don't know about you, but once that pram has stopped moving Florence's eyes are wide open!) Unlike many strollers which come with a basket at the bottom to pop all your shopping in, the Stokke Xplory gives you a shopping bag that clicks into the front and a changing bag that hangs off the back, which is great for small purchases relieves you from carrying any additional bags out with you. The system also comes with a cup holder to house your frappuccino or, as my husband has discovered, fits your iPhone perfectly!

I think the main selling point however about this particular stroller is the uniquely designed chassis that not only allows the handlebar to be raised up high to accommodate the tallest of parents, but also allows the carry cot or seat to be raised up so your baby is closer to you to promote eye contact and connection. I simply love this idea and it wasn't until I had used it did I realise how low down your baby usually is when sitting in regular strollers. The end of the handlebar can also be flipped forward and back to find the most comfortable position for you to push your precious one along. The philosophy that this allows you and your baby to explore the world together is a lovely idea especially with a young baby who is always searching for their parent's eye contact and smile to reassure and comfort them when out and about.

The whole system is pretty easy to use once you have read the manual and mastered the different levers - in fact it is a lot simpler to unfold and collapse than a lot of other prams I've tested and it is quite streamline once all collapsed. The only downside I found was that it was quite a heavy and awkward system to carry in and out of the car so I did have to enlist my husband's muscle-power to put it in and out of the boot. Other than that, there really isn't many negatives about the Stokke Xplory and I can definitely see why it has earned such cult status and a coveted name within the designer pram circle. This limited edition colour as well is just stunning and whoever said blue is just for boys was wrong as Florence clearly seems to love it just as much as I do!!
*this post contains samples gifted for review purposes
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Sunday, 22 May 2016

We Made Me Wuti Wrap Review

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Baby cuddles are the cutest. The feeling of being needed 24/7 by this little vulnerable soul, that has just been thrusted into the world from their safe, warm cocoon, is just beautiful and heartwarming. And for the first two weeks when you and your husband are together in the house and can happily pass your little one back and forth and work as a tag team when it comes to eating dinner or going to the toilet, it is a joyous experience. However, the real fun and games begin when suddenly you are on your own for 10-12 hours a day and you realise you really don't have enough hands to keep up with the baby snuggles whilst physically getting dressed and attempting to eat at least one meal a day.

Before I had Florence I had never really considered baby wearing. Maybe I was just a little naive and didn't realise just how demanding something so small could be. Now don't get me wrong, at no point am I saying I didn't want to just sit around all day and soak up every precious moment and cuddle I had with my newborn, because I did and I still do every single day. But once your life slowly regains a rhythm and you realise that you do actually have to do other things than be a 24 hour cuddle and feeding machine, I was so thankful that I had the Wuti Wrap from We Made Me (£49) tucked away in her nursery, ready to be tested out. Newborns crave security and closeness so this wrap makes the transition from womb to world a lot less daunting for your little one and gives you the reassurance that they are safe, comfortable and soothed.

The Wuti Wrap is essentially a very long piece of breathable fabric which, when wrapped round you in a certain way, creates this perfectly sized pocket to pop your baby in and continue your day hands free! The wrap is super-stretchable, very long to suit all sized frames and your ever-growing baby, and ultra-breathable so no need to fear your little one will overheat. It is ideal for babies from newborn to 24 months (8-35lbs) and is available in three colours. The innovate mesh fabric is durable and breathable and can easily be washed at 40c. It also comes with a handy pouch to fold your wrap away if you are out and about, and the illustrated instructions on how to put it on are pretty straight forward and easy to follow.

The first time I tried to put this on I did find it a bit of a faff. The material is very long to begin with, before you start wrapping and crossing it around your body, and it took me a while to master the technique of getting the wrap tight or lose enough so your baby is held securely. But after two more goes I had nailed it and was able to pop it on in record time, which is essential when you have a little one letting you know they are ready to be picked up! Florence is still quite tiny at the moment so I don't feel any aches or pressure on my back when I wear her but the ergonomically designed wrap should continue to feel comfortable and supportive for you, and your baby, as their weight increases.

Once your baby is nestled in, with the top of their head at a lovely, kissable level, the wrap feels incredibly secure and you really can go about your day to day chores without a moment's hesitation or worry that your little one is unsafe. Due to the way it is wrapped, crossed and tied around you, there is no concern whatsoever that the wrap could become loose or unsupported. In the early days with Florence, the Wuti Wrap was a lifesaver for those moments when I just wanted to go and grab a drink or make a quick sandwich, or let her have a nap on me whilst I hung the washing out or did a spot of blogging. As Florence has grown up and my confidence has progressed, I've also realised how great the wrap is when you just want to pop out and don't want the hassle of unfolding and navigating a heavy stroller around town. When it is a nice day and I just want to go and get some milk from my local shop or meet a friend for a coffee in town, it is ideal to just pop the wrap on and go. Florence much prefers the feeling of being carried rather than lying down flat in her pram so it is a win win situation for us both!

I have definitely caught the baby wearing bug and I am really looking forward to using the We Made Me Pao Papoose carrier when Florence is the right age as it looks super fun and being the little inquisitive thing she is, she will love the forward-facing position so she can see what is going on in the world.

Are you a baby wearing fan? What wrap or carrier do you use?
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*this post contains samples gifted for review purposes
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Jo Malone Marthe Armitage Limited Edition Collection

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"I wanted to capture a perfect English summer afternoon", says Marthe. "It needed to feel alive and also weave in ingredients from the Jo Malone London scents. This project has seen me exploring a world I've not experienced before and it's been lovely".

Marthe Armitage is an artist and wallpaper designer who has been producing iconic, scenic prints since the 1950s. Her work possesses a beautifully quaint, handmade quality to it with a very English vibe which makes her most recent collaboration with Jo Malone a match made in heaven. Marthe Armitage's work captures the essence of Jo Malone's English heritage character and encapsulates the idea of a summer afternoon perfectly - two of the most beautiful words in the English language, quoted by Henry James.

This gorgeous print is based around a green and fragrant garden in Summer, with buzzing bees and ducks on the lawn. It pictures a croquet game and running children, as well as incorporating hints to some of Jo Malone's iconic scents with figs trees, pear blossom, tomato plants and roses depicted amongst the quintessentially English scene. Marthe also weaves in the statuary lions from nearby Chiswick House, close to Marthe's own home, into the pattern which gives the design a nod to the Jo Malone London brand. This gorgeous print has been emblazoned on four of Jo Malone's most summery of products - the Red Roses Scent Drawer Liners, the Green Tomato Leaf Home Candle, the Nectarine Blossom & Honey Bath Oil and a soap collection. It really complements Jo Malone's summer fragrances and adds a hint of nostalgia and sunny lightness to your living space or bathroom.

This unique, limited edition collaboration is out in June - available from stores and online.

*this post contains samples gifted for review purposes
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Thursday, 19 May 2016

L'Occitane Pivoine Sublime Skin Perfecting Collection

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We all know the peony flower is incredible pretty but who knew it was incredibly powerful as well?! This new beauty range from L'Occitane harnesses the innovative benefits of peony extract and gives us a lovely, skin-perfecting collection all containing this star ingredient (rich in natural plant sugars) which helps correct irregularities in the skin's texture over the long term to reveal a fresher and more radiant complexion.

There are quite a few new products in this face care collection, from toners, CC creams and lip balms,  that are worth taking a look at but I have been testing out the three skincare products below and am keen to share my thoughts. Firstly I have to say the packaging gets a huge thumbs up from me - pink, pretty and eye-catching and I love the fact that the makeup remover has a pump dispenser (its the little things!)

The 2 in 1 Perfecting Scrub (£19) is a gentle scrub with delicate micro-granules and micro-exfoliant active ingredients which work at removing dead skin cells and impurities. The texture is really unique too. It comes out the tube as a gel but as you apply it to your skin, it transforms into an oil so does wonders at cleansing the skin as well as exfoliating it. The best part is it can also be used as a mask to deep cleanse and purify your complexion.

The Perfecting Makeup Remover (£19) is a refreshing gel that is easily pumped onto a cotton wool pad to remove even the most stubborn of makeup, including waterproof mascara. It feels light and fresh on the skin and easily melts away the day's heavy foundation, blusher and matte lipstick. It is enhanced with active ingredients that also help transform the quality of the skin's surface so your complexion is left feeling luminous and supple, not dry or stripped at all.

Finally the Perfecting Toner (£15) is a gentle toner that is the perfect ending to your skin regime. It revives the complexion with natural balancing actives and the peony extract leaves your skin hydrated with a smoother, more radiant appearance. I really like this toner and love the way in makes my skin feel at the end of a long day - so clean, healthy and hydrated.

Are you a fan of L'Occitane skincare products? I would love to know if you have tried anything from the Pivoine Sublime range?
*this post contains samples gifted for review purposes
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Sunday, 15 May 2016

Doona Car Seat & Stroller Review

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The Doona Car Seat...easy as 1, 2, 3! £299.99 available from cuddleco.co.uk
Suitable from birth up to approx. 13kg.

I have quickly discovered over the past three months of parenting that anything that makes life with a baby that little bit easier is worth considering. Two hands really are not enough when it comes to jiggling an upset newborn, signing for your online shopping order, making the bed, packing up the changing bag all whilst trying to grab yourself just one cup of tea in the morning before you have to leave the house. It's true what they say, that the simplest ideas are usually the best and this is definitely the case when it comes to the Doona - the world's fist hybrid car seat. A car seat that transforms into a stroller in less that ten seconds! Really, how has no-one ever thought of that before?!

Since its launch last Summer, the Doona has revolutionised parenting. When boot space can be a premium with a baby, this nifty car seat/stroller saves yourself valuable room as you don't need to pack up the cumbersome travel system if you are only going for a short walk or nipping to the shops. It is just brilliant. Whereas a lot of prams and car seats come with a chunky manual and far too many buttons and levers needed to collapse, erect and adjust your stroller, the Doona could not be simpler to operate. As a car seat it can either be installed with an isofix base (sold separately) or without just using the seatbelt. We have been using it with the isofix base which does make life a lot easier as it quickly just clicks in and out, saving you time without having to faff around with the seatbelt if you are in a hurry or have a grumpy baby on your hands. The interior is lovely and padded and feels very supportive and comfortable for your little one, with adjustable straps so you know they are secured in well for the journey ahead. Once you have reached your destination your baby will be mobile within seconds. Simply click the car seat out, pull the lever at the back and the wheels magically unfold. Flip the handlebar over, extend it out and away you go! This How it Works video shows the simplicity better than I could ever explain.

When there is two of you going out for a trip in the car, it isn't so hard juggling a baby and travel system between you but I go out a lot during the day on my own with Florence which is where the Doona is just such a lifesaver. Little trips such as popping to the supermarket or getting and paying for petrol is made stress-free with the Doona as I can just pop the seat out and push Florence about without having to disturb a sleeping baby or faff about with opening up the travel system chassis, very often in the pouring rain. It is also so teeny-tiny so can you can easily navigate around town, on and off buses and in and out of Starbucks without taking half the chairs and a table with you on the way out!

Both the Doona car seat and stroller have passed vigorous safety tests and has recently been FAA approved so is safe to take on an aeroplane with you, a much safer option than having your little one sit on your lap and I can imagine getting through those baggage checks would be a breeze with the Doona. Available in five cool colours, the Doona also has a whole host of accessories you can buy for it which makes it in even more versatile and convenient for using during the day such as snap-on storage, rain cover, sunshade extension and wheel covers so your car seat fabric doesn't get grubby when you pop the car seat back in after a muddy walk through the puddles to the shops.

The Doona is designed for family's on-the-go who want a hassle free way of popping out and about to run errands whilst keeping their little one happy and secure. Guidelines advised that a baby shouldn't be in a car seat for more than two hours due to the increased pressure on their developing spine so I certainly wouldn't suggest the Doona is used in place of a regular stroller for long days out and walks but for the sheer convenience of popping about, especially if you are on your own and have experience first hand the difficulty of unfolding a buggy one handed, then the Doona is great. An absolute must-have and one that should be highly placed on your baby wish list!
*this post contains samples gifted for review purposes
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