Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A spoonful of colour

August is apparently a slow month for blogging with me. I plan to post more regularly in September, but in the meantime I'll be popping up the odd photo of my latest obsession when I can.

Today I bring you... spoons!

Melamine cooking spoons from Stock Design, South King Street, Dublin 2
€1.95 each

Thursday, July 29, 2010

New from RMK - Gel Emulsion Compact

Can you guess what my latest RMK purchase is? I love the Alice in Wonderland style messages on their product packaging.

Yes, it's the new Gel Emulsion Compact! RMK's base makeup products are among my very favourites and I've never used a foundation that I liked better than their Liquid and Creamy foundations, so I had to try this compact foundation when I saw it on lookfantastic.

Ideal for dry skin, this gel-based foundation glides on easily - I'm not usually a fan of compact foundations as I find them difficult to apply and blend, but this is very easy to apply for a sheer, even finish using the sponge that comes with it. As with the Liquid and Creamy foundations, what I most love about it is the way it seems to melt into my skin and not look at all obvious on. If you like a dewy finish, this is a good option and I found it very comfortable to wear all day (if your skin tends to be more oily or requires something less hydrating, then the Liquid Foundation would be a better option).

Choosing foundation online can be a gamble unless you know your shade - I chose 201 based on what I wear in the Liquid and Creamy foundations and though it looks a bit pink in the compact, it is a perfect match for me.

RMK is no longer available in Ireland but can be found on lookfantastic, where this Gel Emulsion Compact is priced at £33.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Kiehl's comes to Dublin

The news that Kiehl's was coming to Dublin caused me great excitement when I heard it and I couldn't wait to get into town to visit the shop when it finally opened at the start of the month. I've always loved the Kiehl's shops whenever I've been in the US and have tried and liked quite a few of their products before now, so I was looking forward to trying even more of them now that they were finally accessible.

My first impressions of the shop were very good. Prices are not horrifically high compared to the US dollar or Sterling prices and the staff are friendly and helpful without being in your face if you just want to browse. My purchases were packed into a reusable zipped plastic cosmetics case, which I imagine is an introductory thing:

I picked up Creme de Corps (€31 for 250ml), Açaí Damage-Repairing Serum (€43), Baby Lip Balm (€10) and Lip Gloss in Goldenberry (€16).

I was very kindly asked what type of products I'd like to sample and opted for haircare, since I haven't used any of their haircare products before. The sales assistant also added in the body scrub, which she said was a favourite of hers.

I'm particularly impressed with their recycling programme - bring back 3 empty Kiehl's containers and get 3 deluxe samples; 3 more and get another 3 deluxe samples; 2 more on top of that gets you a free Lip Balm #1 and 2 more again will bag you a free full-size Liquid Body Cleanser. Okay, you'd have to buy a lot of Kiehl's products to begin with to snag yourself all those freebies, but if you are a fan then it's a great way to reward your recycling efforts!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Shiseido Urban Environment UV Protection Cream

Despite the fact that I'd just picked up a tube of La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF30 a few days previously, I couldn't resist trying Shiseido's latest sunscreen when I saw it on the counter at the weekend. I like the protection levels the Anthelios gives, but for everyday use it's not my ideal - it leaves me looking quite shiny, so that powder is a necessity and it also feels like sunscreen on my skin. Fine for occasions when I want to ensure I'm being protected, such as when I'm spending a long period of time outdoors, but for normal everyday wear, I want something closer to a moisturiser with the added benefits of UV protection.

And after 4 days of wear, Shiseido Urban Environment UV Protection Cream SPF30 certainly seems very close to ideal. It applies like a moisturiser, sinking into the skin with no stickiness. My skin is dry at the moment and I apply sunscreen over a hydrating serum and so far it seems very comfortable - I don't get the dry feeling when I cleanse my face at the end of the day that I sometimes get with other sunscreens. There is a light fragrance, but nothing too annoying. The finish isn't completely matte; my skin looks dewy but not in a way that actually requires makeup to tone it down. I have yet to try applying foundation over it, but based on the way my skin feels and looks, I would guess this will also work well as a base for makeup (there was no problem when I applied the Armani Blushing Fabric over it).

As I'm only a few days in, I'm cautious in declaring Urban Environment to be The One, but given that congestion often appears very early when my skin doesn't like a sunscreen and has yet to bother me in this case, I'm feeling positive. And priced at €33 (€35 for the SPF50 if I remember correctly), this is still in the price class I feel comfortable with for everyday skincare.

Here are the ingredients:

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Summer shades from Armani Beauty

I paid a long-awaited visit to the beauty department in Brown Thomas today; it was the first time I'd been in since before the baby was born. I mainly wanted to see the new Armani Tokyo Corals collection, as well as the Blushing Fabric, but sadly none of the products were in stock, due to the delivery going to Cork instead of Dublin.

I did get to play with the testers, however, and came away with a generous sample of the Blushing Fabric in shade 3 - a lovely peachy pink (don't pay any attention to the shade descriptions on the Armani website - as usual they are way off). This blends beautifully to leave a wash of colour and the tiniest dab is all you need, so even though the tube looks small for the €35 pricetag, it will last forever.

It looked like only some of the Tokyo Corals testers were out, but I did like the look of Shine lipstick in shade 54, a nice bright summery pink. The lollipop pink and coral nail polishes were absolutely gorgeous and perfect for glossy summer manicures and pedicures.

Let's hope that delivery finds its way back to Dublin some time soon!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

More new shoes

Still on the trail of a few new pairs of shoes for my wardrobe, I came across these in the Zara sale. I love the colour - so bright and perfect for the sunny weather. These are also super soft and comfortable on.

I also tried on a pair in a lovely pleated-finish nude leather which were sadly slightly too small. But coming home from a very quick visit to Dundrum with another new pair of shoes was still a good outcome.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New shoes

I've been living in Converse (one pair of charcoal high-tops and one pair of pink low-tops) for the last few months and much as I love them, I decided it was time to add some actual shoes into the mix. I came across this pair in Massimo Dutti and while it was the sparkly gold-ness of them that caught my eye, it was the buttery softness of the leather when I picked them up that made me fall in love.

I have incredibly delicate feet which blister and bleed at the slightest resistance provided by a shoe, but these slip on like kid gloves and are as light as a feather. The style is a bit different to what I usually wear, and Himself has wondered aloud whether I'm about to break into a solo tap routine from time to time, but I love them.

Massimo Dutti also has another beautiful pair in the softest mushroom suede. I thought the sparkly gold finish would be slightly more forgiving of the inevitable scuffs and scratches they'll develop over time, but I still find myself day-dreaming about the beautifully soft suede...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Today I am wearing...

The baby fell asleep while I was getting dressed this morning, so while she takes a nap and I wait for her to wake up so I can feed her and we can go out and do some shopping, I thought I'd do a quick post on my makeup today.

When I was working I tended to wear the same makeup every day, so being on maternity leave is a nice chance to look through my collection and pick out new things to wear every morning, often finding things I'd completely forgotten I own. Today, for example, I came across the Becca Eye Tints, which I own in three shades and which I'd completely forgotten about.

The picture above may not be great for accurately depicting the shades, but here's what I'm wearing:

Giorgio Armani High Precision Retouch: A fantastic under-eye concealer, this blends beautifully, covers dark circles, brightens the eye area and lasts all day. I wear shade 2 and I'm fairly pale.

Giorgio Armani Micro-fil Loose Powder: Perfect for taking down the shine of sunscreen when I don't want to wear foundation. This is really light and looks very natural on - I use shade 1 in this.

Giorgio Armani Sheer Blush in shade 10: The picture doesn't do it justice but this is a pretty rose bronze with shimmer. It's easy to overdo it with this, so I use a light hand when applying. Lovely summer shade and nice if you're not a fan of bronzer but like to look just a little bit sun-kissed.

Becca Eye Tint in Baroque: At least I think it's Baroque - for some reason they don't put the shade name on the tube - if it's not Baroque then it's Paracus. This is a cream shadow in a lovely neutral brown with fine shimmer; doesn't give a lot of colour, but evens out the eyelid and is perfect for a very natural look. Very easy and quick to apply and also works well as an eye shadow base.

Becca The Ultimate Mascara in Black: This is one of those tubing mascaras and gives my lashes lovely length and definition. Unfortunately this tube has been on the go for a while and is drying out a bit so it's time to replace it.

Shiseido Perfect Rouge lipstick in BE208: This neutral beige shade has just the right amount of pink in it so that I don't end up looking like a corpse and finishes off a natural look nicely.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Orla Kiely Etc SS10 - Baby Changing Bag

As you may have gathered from previous posts, I love, love, love Orla Kiely. So when I discovered the baby changing bag in the Etc range for SS10 while I was pregnant, I immediately started plotting my justifications for spending that amount of money on a changing bag.

As it turns out, having a baby means you don't have to justify wanting a fancy baby bag and my very lovely husband picked it up for me for my birthday.

In case you do need a justification, however, this isn't limited only to baby stuff and the multiple pockets will also make it very useful later on. There's a large zip pocket on the back where I keep my wallet and keys, a smaller zip pocket on the inside that's perfect for a mobile phone, two slit pockets on the front where I always know I'll find my carpark or train ticket and then the six elasticated compartments inside which are currently being used for nappies, muslins, babygrows and cotton wool, but will also work for water bottles, umbrellas, cameras and sunglasses in the future - goodbye to searching blindly through a jumble of items thrown together in a vast bag!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chanel Riviera is summer in a bottle

The summer sunshine at the weekend made me crave lollipop shades on my fingers and toes, and when I spied Chanel's Riviera nail polish on the counter I knew it was the one for me. I also fully expected it to be sold out - this is Chanel we're talking about, where shades like Black Satin, Vendetta and Particuliere have sold out before even hitting the shelves in recent seasons. The gods were smiling on me, however, and I scored the very last bottle they had - "I'll be murdered when all the women who looked for this during the week come back in! I told them we were getting an order in and we only got two bottles" breathed the sales assistant, her eyes wide at the drama of it all.

Caught up in the excitement, I gave in to her suggestion that I absolutely needed a base coat to use with it. And although I rarely bother with basecoats or topcoats, I have to admit that this one seemed to do a good job - despite my recent manic hand washing habit and a less than careful job applying the polish, I got a full 5 days out of the manicure before a chip appeared.

Riviera is a delicious Legally Blonde pink - depending on the light it varies between a bright raspberry and a neon pink and yet somehow manages not to look garish against my paleness. Perfect for fingers and toes - now if only we could get last weekend's temperatures back so I could break out the sandals and some perfectly pink toes...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

APC Madras

I took a look at the APC website the other day and happily discovered the new Madras collection is up. The Madras collections are always lovely and summery and happily more affordable than the main line.

I fell in love with this blouse, but it was sadly sold out:

(the print looks much better in this close-up:)

Luckily they still had this t-shirt in stock:

and I couldn't say no to yet another summer scarf:

Finally, since the lovely April weather has given way to a much cooler May, leading me to wonder whether there's any chance of a warm summer this year, I had to pick up this sailor pullover:

Loving the button detail on the hip!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mmm, macaroons

Happy birthday to me!
The H scored major points by bringing home red roses and these...

My actual birthday present came from my beloved Orla Kiely and will be the subject of a future post :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My latest accessory...

... and the reason for my blogging silence lately:

Zoë arrived on March 1st, a whole week early. Which surprised me, as I was convinced she'd be late. Maybe it was something to do with the full moon the previous night. Either way, she was in quite a hurry to make her way into the world.

We love her to bits (even when she insists on staying awake crying until 5am) and when things settle down a bit (I'm assured they will at some stage), I'll be back to the world of blogging again.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bye bye Cara

Deviating a bit from the usual, but our family dog Cara passed away in her sleep last night and a tribute was needed. Known as the Red Sister or the Mad Sister (depending on the extent of her adventures that day), she was a 12 year old Irish Setter who still looked like a puppy (she wasn't a full-sized Setter).

She liked to stand and lean against your leg when you sat on the sofa and sometimes she'd rest her head on your knee while leaning. Or she'd lie down on the floor and use your foot for a pillow. She liked to drink rainwater out of plant pots rather than clean water from her bowl and if she caught you looking she'd go all mad guard dog on the magpies in the garden.

From time to time she'd be brave enough to climb the stairs in the house (varnished wood and slippery under doggie paws) and then she'd sit stubbornly at the top looking down, too afraid to make her own way back downstairs. And when you'd lift her to carry her back down, her paws would stick straight out in front of her, she'd be so tense (although she'd turn her head and look nonchalantly in the other direction as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening).

She will be missed a lot. Here she is, caught in the middle of offering her paw to the photographer.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Shopping online at

I needed to replace my REN cleanser recently and were having a 20% off sale on many of their lines, so it was the perfect excuse to add a few more things to my basket.

REN Calendula and Arctic Berry Ultracalm Cleansing Milk - I think this is my third or fourth bottle of this, so it's safe to say it's a favourite. Removes makeup perfectly, leaves my skin smooth, soft and perfectly calm.

Philip B pH Restorative Detangling Toning Mist - I'm almost finished my MOP Pear Detangler, which I use on my hair when I don't bother with conditioner, so I thought I'd try something new for a change. Haven't used this yet, but will report back when I do.

Philip B GWP - this came free with the Detangling Mist and includes Light-Weight Deep Conditioning Crème Rinse, Scent of Santa Fe Balancing Shampoo and Drop Dead Straightening Baume. I haven't used any Philip B haircare before, so I'm looking forward to trying these out.

Guinot Hydra Tendre Soft Wash-Off Cleansing Cream
- I used this years ago and really liked it then, so thought I'd try it again. Unfortunately it's not just the packaging that has changed - they've also added a horribly strong fragrance too it, which I hate in facial washes. The hazards of shopping online without trying something first...

RMK Creamy Foundation and Super Basic Liquid Concealer - The Creamy Foundation has been a favourite for a few years and is a replacement buy - this is gorgeous on and very comfortable for winter skin. The concealer is a new one - I've tried it out once so far and like it a lot. Very pigmented, but still creamy and easy to blend and lasts all day.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Wrap yourself up in Isabella Oliver

After I posted about Isabella Oliver maternity wear in December, Lucy at Isabella Oliver very kindly offered to send me their Wrap Around Top to try out. I received the top in Plum, which is a very pretty colour and I also love the Sea shade, pictured above (it would be great to see the Scoop Tops also available in these lovely jewel shades).

When I first took this out of the package, I wondered if I'd need a kitsuke, or kimono dresser, as the top looks something like this before you put it on:

However, once you get down to it, it's not too difficult to learn how to wrap the long strips of fabric around your bump and then tie at the waist. You can tie at the side, front or back, according to your preference and while it's easy to wear, it's also a nice option when you want something a little dressier than the Scoop Top. I've been wearing mine with a cami underneath, as it is fairly low cut and I need an extra layer in the current weather. This is also helpful if the wrap around strips separate a little while you're wearing the top and you don't want to risk displaying your bump to the world.

Normally priced at €85, the Wrap Around Top is currently 15% off in the Isabella Oliver sale.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Elle and Vogue in February

Buying magazines is a fairly routine activity, but for some reason I still get a thrill when I pick up a new magazine each month, particularly when there is a lovely cover and the promise of new Spring fashion inside (especially in the middle of The Big Freeze). Today I picked up the February UK editions of Elle and Vogue and both are especially beautiful.

Elle has the edge, I think. Natalie Portman looks lovely and I love what she's wearing, but it's the muted tones of the cover that look fresh and particularly appeal to me.

Vogue jumped out at me for a different reason. Although I don't think I love that dress by itself, the colour combination of lilac and hot pink is really eye catching and full of promise that the snow, ice and slush will soon (I hope) disappear and be replaced by the colours of Spring.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Shiny happy things on an icy cold day

Neither snow, nor ice, nor ungritted secondary roads could conspire to keep the lovely UPS man away today and so I happily took delivery of this box today - can you guess what might be inside?

Maybe the inside of the box will give you a better idea...

And what did this magical box of happiness from Orla Kiely contain? Well, first there was a Tiny Teacup Print Midi Sling Bag in Ink:

And then, the gorgeous Rowan Leather Zip Handbag in Navy:

Apologies for the totally non-arty and unstyled pictures, but I was so excited that I was in a bit of a hurry to take them so I could play with the bags. Maybe later I'll get around to some better ones. The Midi Sling is the perfect size for weekends and shopping and the Rowan will make a great everyday work bag, with plenty of sections and pockets for sorting out the clutter I carry around with me on a daily basis. And until the baby arrives and I can justify getting my hands on the gorgeous new Multi Scribble Stem Print Baby Changing Bag, I'm sure I'll fit plenty of nappies and wipes into it too!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mmmm, cake...

At this time of year most people seem to be making an effort to eat healthily and exercise, but I've decided that cake is a January requirement, what with the cold and the snow. And I always feel better about eating it when I've made it from scratch myself.

This weekend I had some dark chocolate to use, so flipped through the Chocolate section of Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess and settled on the Store Cupboard Chocolate Orange Cake, mainly because it looked so easy.

And it was. You just need to melt down the butter, then mix everything else into it and hey presto, you've got your cake batter. I used Bonne Maman's Three Fruit Marmalade, which gave the cake just a hint of citrus, so don't fear this if you're not a marmalade fan. I'd definitely try this again with a raspberry or cherry jam either. Or maybe apricot.

Keep an eye on this in the oven if you try it, at 50 minutes it was just beginning to look a wee bit overdone on top, but it turned out fine. It might look a bit dry in my photo, but it actually has a nicely balanced texture and is a good cake when you don't want lots of fancy icing or anything like that.


125g of unsalted butter
100g of dark chocolate
300g of good quality orange marmalade
150g of sugar
a pinch of salt
2 large eggs
150g of self-rising flour

Melt the butter slowly in a heavy-bottom saucepan. When it's almost melted, add chocolate pieces, stir and take off the heat. Stir with a wooden spoon, until chocolate has melted.

Add the marmalade, sugar, salt and eggs. Stir thoroughly (it's okay to leave small visible chunks of marmalade in the batter).

Add sifted flour, stir and pour into a buttered and floured 20-22 cm loose bottomed cake tin or 2lb loaf tin.

Bake at 180˚C/350.F/Gas 4 oven for 45-50 minutes, until the cake has set (test with a knife or wooden stick). Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.