Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Skincare Tag

It's been a long while since I last did a tag post here on the blog, but being the skincare junkie that I am, I couldn't resist giving these questions the once over when I saw them over on the lovely Jess's blog
(Just Jess). I'm not going to specifically tag anyone to do the same, but if you would like to then please feel free, and be sure to leave me the link in the comments below, as I love reading about what other people include in their skincare routine.

1. Describe your skincare routine in five words.
Pamper. Masks. Exfoliating toner. AHAs.

2. What is your skin type?
I've always had perfectly normal skin, but since the year began it has become quite blemish-prone on my chin and jawline area, and my t-zone is somewhat oilier than it used to be, which has been really bothersome and quite distressing. I'm fairly sure this has been down to the contraceptive injection I had been taking on a monthly basis for the past couple of years, and have just changed back over to the pill this week - fingers crossed it might finally be the answer! (I hope that's not too much info, but that's just the way things are!)

3. What's your favourite skincare product?
I don't think there could be a more difficult question! There are just so many skincare treats that I have come to love and rely upon, but the one that has made the biggest impact on my skin in recent times has got to be the Clarins Gentle Exfoliating Brightening Toner. I use this on a nightly basis, and as well as evening out my skintone no end, it has also kicked congestion in to touch and vastly improved my problem areas.
Other favourites of mine include the Elemental Herbology Facial Glow Radiance Peel and Facial Detox Mask, and the Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask - weekly treats I just couldn't be without.

4. Top blemish zappers:
Lots of fish oil supplements (I take about 4g a day) and the afore-mentioned Clarins toner. Chemical exfoliants work far better for me than any manual scrub I've ever tried, and making sure your body gets all the nutrients it needs on the inside is key to overall skin health. Again, I like the Elemental Herbology Facial Detox mask for taking down active blemishes, and sometimes leave it on over night if I've got any particularly tough customers on the go. It's the best clarifying mask I've tried.
As for treatments such as La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo, I wouldn't touch them with a barge pole any more.
In my experience, they often take a minor skincare issue and make it into something worse, and more long term. Saying that, they do work brilliantly for some people, so I think it's just a case of trial and error, and getting to know your own skin.

5. Face wipes: yay or nay?
Hell to the no, my face wipe days are well and truly behind me. It makes me shudder when I look back upon the years I spent using face wipes, and NOTHING BUT face wipes. WHAT WAS I THINKING!? Nowadays, only a proper skincare routine will do, and I wouldn't dream of going to bed with my makeup on, either.

6. Toner: yay or nay?
Most definitely - in fact, you've probably gathered that this is an absolute must for me from my previous answers. As well as an exfoliating toner, I also tend to use a nice hydrating spritz too, and my favourite is the Suti Peppermint Water Organic Facial Toner.

7. High-end skincare or high-end makeup?
High-end skincare all the way, if I had to choose. I do love a luxurious makeup purchase, but at the end of the day there are plenty of fantastic high-street/drugstore products out there that will do the job - in fact, I think such brands have really come into their own over the past couple of years and are producing some fantastic products.
When it comes to skincare though, I think it's worth investing in some really good quality products, as you only get one chance to get things right with your face. Plus, if your skin doesn't look good then what use is expensive makeup? You can plaster it over the top, but it will never look as good as it could. I  have to say though, there is a small part of me that does regret ever getting into the skincare brands that I love now, as it's taken me from spending minimal money on products to spending a lot more than I would like to!
Saying that, they do make a huge difference to my skin, and that is why I now hold them in such high esteem.

8. What's the most unusual skincare product you've ever tried?
This would have to be the Heaven Bee Venom Mask. Slightly scary plastering bee venom all over your face not knowing whether or not you are allergic! At the time I suffered from quite bad anxiety, so I was whipping it off again in seconds, but I have just rediscovered it in my skincare cupboard and am planning on giving it another go this week - watch this space!

9. You're in a French pharmacy and can only pick one item. What is it?
Another tough question. At the moment is probably the La Roche Posay Serozinc, as I am itching to give that a try. But otherwise, I'm not really a fan of their products, so I'd go for one of the many wonderful Caudalie products I've already tried.

10. Tell us your top skincare tip.
Drink lots of water, and take Omega 3 supplements (if you are struggling with blemishes then make sure to go for just the Omega 3s and not one that combines all the various different types, as breakouts can often be a result of a high Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio. So that means you might need less 6s and more 3s. Worked for me.). I'd also recommend using an exfoliating toner on a daily basis, whatever your skin type, and making sure to keep your skin nourished at all times. Don't assume that if you have blemishes, you need to let them dry out, as often the opposite is true.
Another tip is to cut back on your dairy and sugar if you are suffering from a particularly nasty breakout, as they can aggravate them further.

So that's it. I hope you enjoyed having a little delve into the things I like to use to pamper and protect my skin. I'm going to be filming an updated skincare routine video very soon, as while I used to chop and change a fair bit I am quite happy with what I'm using at the moment and am planning to stick with it, give or take a new treatment here and there - so if skincare is your thing then do keep an eye out for that.

Don't forget to link me up if you decide to do this tag - I'd love to read your posts.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Review: Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner

As most of you know by now, I suffer from adult hormonal breakouts, and having tried just about everything to curb them without success, I eventually decided to give an exfoliating toner a go. I, as I'm sure many of you are too, an avid reader of Caroline Hiron's Beauty Mouth, and find her skincare advice really useful, so having trawled her site for something I might be missing and tweeting her once or twice, she recommended I give the Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner a go.
Containing Tamarind extract to eliminate impurities and dead cells, and white nettle for its soothing and astringent benefits, the toner works to boost the skin's natural exfoliation process as well as tightening pores and smoothing the overall texture of the skin. You may well have heard quite a bit about AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) floating around the blogosphere over the past year or so, what with the huge hype surrounding products such as the infamous Alph H Liquid Gold. It has been largely touted as the answer to many skincare prayers, from blemishes and scarring to dryness and dehydration, and used twice weekly it is said to make quite a dramatic difference to the overall appearance and condition of the skin.
The Clarins B.E.B.T is not so dissimilar, though containing much lower levels of AHAs it is generally safe to use on a daily basis. It does say on the packaging that once or twice is enough, but personally I don't find that it makes any difference to my skin when used that sparingly. It's incredibly gentle and doesn't cause any irritation at all, but essentially it's your call - if you feel that you have particularly reactive skin then it might be an idea to start at the bottom and see how you feel about upping your weekly uses bit by bit. Just in case anyone thinks I'm going a bit crazy, Mrs Hirons herself has talked about daily use of this toner on her blog here, so do pop over and have a read of that if you are in any doubt.
I tend to use this toner in the evenings only, as I do think that twice a day might be overkill. After cleansing, I pop some of this onto a cotton pad and sweep it over my face and neck, including any congested or blemish-prone areas, wait for at least a minute until it has dried, and then continue on with the remainder of my nightly skincare routine. In the morning I wake up to soft, smooth skin that feels plump and well-hydrated.
While this hasn't completely cured me of hormonal breakouts (I don't think anything can), I have noticed a marked improvement in the general texture of my skin since I began using this, and a sure reduction in the number of blemishes I do get as well as the severity of them. I find that it generally keeps my skin feeling calm and comfortable, and I have grown quite attached to it as I like knowing that I really am removing all traces of debris and dead skin before I go to bed at night. I have completely stopped using mechanical exfoliants now, apart from on my nose, which could do with a little extra help thanks to the pesky blocked pores I tend to get there. I avoid this on the rest of my face, however, as the Clarins toner does the job nicely without irritating or exacerbating any existing breakouts.
This is a skincare must-have for me now, and I'm so glad to have discovered exfoliating toners as they really do make a world of difference to the skin, leaving it looking bright and radiant.

Have you tried any exfoliating toners? Are you a fan of AHAs? If so then do let me know your favourite products in the comments below, as I am always eager to try out new skincare gems.


Friday, July 26, 2013

The Weekly Selection

Unusually for me, I haven't been buying much in the way of beauty products lately - actually, make that, at all. I suppose you could say I've been on something of a spending ban, although I haven't officially been calling it that, or telling anybody that I'm doing it. It's been more a case of just keeping my purse closed because there have been so many other expenses to cover, and there are even more just around the corner, and I have to say that I'm really rather impressed with myself for not giving in. In fact, it hasn't even been as difficult as I would have imagined, as there hasn't really been all that much that I've wanted that badly of late.
So, as I haven't been splashing the cash, I've been making the most of my current collection, and these are the products that I've been enjoying over the past week.
Now, I say I haven't bought anything, but there are two exceptions in this post, those being the Tresemme Keratin Smooth shampoo and conditioner. I don't really think these count, as they are a necessity and are very reasonably priced. I've been wanting to try the Keratin Smooth range for a while now, but it has only just arrived where I am, so when I saw these two in the supermarket last week I snapped them up and have been using them ever since. So far, so good - but I have to say, it takes a lot to impress me where haircare is concerned, and with these two I haven't seen anything that makes me want to shout about them from the rooftops. They are a nice day to day duo and do the job for which they were designed, but while my hair does seem to be that bit less frizzy, I can't be sure it's not just down to the little DIY trim I gave myself last week. They do leave my hair soft and manageable though, and for the price I can't complain.
Once again, I've been loving my Topshop Cream Blush in the shade Flush for a bright pop of coral that's perfect for the warmer summer weather. Where lips are concerned, I have resurrected an old favourite, the Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Honey, which is such an easy every-day product to reach for. While I do love a bright lip in the summer, lately I've been finding that I can't always be bothered with the maintenance they involve, and despite being a lipstick girl at heart I've been favouring lighter products which will let my lips breathe a bit more. Honey is such a flattering shade and I think it would suit pretty much anyone. It's subtle yet pretty, and is so easy to reapply on the go without having to worry about doing so to perfection. It keeps my lips nice and hydrated too, which is always a bonus in the heat.
Skincare-wise, I've been relying on the Elemental Herbology Facial Glow Radiance Peel to exfoliate my skin and keep it looking its best on a weekly basis. The sunshine can leave it feeling that bit more dehydrated than usual, and with extra sebum production being a bit of a risk this helps to get rid of any pore-blocking debris as well as leaving skin smooth and glowing.
I've also been slathering the Nip & Fab Mango Smoothie Dry Skin Fix Body Butter on lately, as whenever it's sunny I like nothing more than to douse myself in fruity fragrances that epitomise the long summer days. It's pretty moisturising, though I wouldn't say it's as amazing in that department as some seem to find it. It does smell exactly like a real mango smoothie though, and it only costs £2.95 -  can't argue with that.

Which products have you been loving the most this week?


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Detox Masks

Detox masks are an integral part of my skincare routine, and rarely a week passes by where I don't pop one on at least a couple of times to decongest my skin and keep it looking its best. If I am particularly breaking out then they are all the more essential, as the right mask can make a huge difference to active blemishes, bringing down the redness and sending them on their way a lot more quickly than if they were left to their own devices. My go-to mask in that situation is undoubtedly the Elemental Herbology Facial Detox Purifying Facial Mask, which provides a rapid solution for spot-prone, irritable and reactive skin. With mineral-rich Amozonian Clay to eliminate toxins while gently exfoliating and softening, oat flour and Allantoin to resolve congestion and Manuka honey, aloe and calendula for their powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial action, this little beauty packs a real punch, and has become an absolute lifesaver when my skin is in distress. I tend to use this just on my t-zone, as my cheeks are pretty clear, and leaving it on for fifteen to twenty minutes leaves things looking a lot calmer. If I have a particularly nasty-looking blemish or two then I have been known to pop this on over night, and the difference in the morning is quite remarkable, diminished in size and redness by a considerable amount.
For keeping things clear in the first place, I usually reach for the Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask. This is great for maintenance, as the charcoal acts as a magnet to draw any nasty bits of debris and oil out of the pores, preventing them from forming into anything unsightly. Again, this one goes on for about fifteen minutes, and it dries to an absolutely rock-solid layer, so perhaps make sure you don't have to talk to anyone when you've got this on! A couple of downsides to this one - one, it doesn't manage to tackle the most stubborn blocked pores I have on my nose alone, but it does make extractions that bit easier (lovely - sorry!). And two, it's a bit of a pain to remove. It's almost black in colour too, so you can imagine that I've had to bin more than one or two muslin cloths since I first began using it. It's worth the effort though, as I find it a lot more effective than most other masks I've tried.
Last (and also least) is the Laura Mercier Deep Cleansing Clay Mask, which was probably one of the first face masks I ever picked up. Nowadays it's not the sort of brand I would usually turn to for skincare, and I must admit that this is not usually a mask I personally reach for, but I thought I'd share it with you because we are all different. It's basically your average clay mask, and I can't say I notice a huge difference after using it, but it's probably a good one for someone with minimal skin issues, as it will keep things clear if used regularly. It's pink too, which I know will appeal to some of you! 
I do love Laura Mercier as a brand, but I'm much more likely to be found browsing the makeup section, as there are certain ingredients I like to avoid in my skincare.

What are your go-to face masks in your skin's hour of need?


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Summer Beauty Essentials

When it comes to summer, we all have different ideas about which products are absolute essentials, but there are some things which we can all agree on. Today I thought I'd share with you my most reached-for products over the summer months, and it wasn't easy narrowing them down!

I definitely have to have a tinted moisturiser on hand in the summer, as when the weather heats up there is nothing I like less than the feeling of a heavy foundation on my skin. My current weapon of choice is the Caudalie Teint Divin Tinted Moisturiser in Light-Medium, as it blends easily, gives a healthy, dewy finish and adds a bit of colour without looking artificial. On my cheeks, I love a bright cream blush, and my favourite of all is the Topshop Cream Blush in Flush (yep, that old chestnut). I got this a couple of months ago and have been pretty much in love with the vibrant coral pink shade ever since. You may have noticed, since I have mentioned it a fair few times before! 
Bright lips and nails are an absolute must for me in the summer time, as I'm all for using cosmetics to reflect the current season. Vibrant shades tend to perk me up and leave me feeling energised, so I've been going for Revlon Posh and Make Mine Mango on my nails, and Mac Impassioned on my lips. Saying that, I do seem to have a plethora of orange, coral and pink lip colours on hand to see me through this time of year - other favourites include Topshop Infrared, and Mac Coral Bliss, Vegas Volt and Lady Danger.
Skincare-wise, I like to keep things light, and the Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask is just the ticket when it comes to weekly treatments. The manuka honey intensely moisturises the skin, and helps combat blemishes with it's antibacterial properties all in one go. The Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner will also help to keep things running smoothly, aiding the skin's natural exfoliating process by sloughing away any debris and dead skin cells. The result? Soft, smooth skin. Do make sure you use a really high SPF on your face if you are going out in the sun after using this though - the AHAs it contains can make you more susceptible to sunburn, and nobody wants that.
In terms of moisture, I often struggle to find a cream that will keep everything balanced and hydrated without being too rich or heavy, but the Ren T-Zone Balancing Day Fluid does a great job.
I like to go for fruity-scented body products and fragrances when the sun is shining, so the Nip & Fab Mango Smoothie Body Butter and Nina Ricci Eau de Toilette make the perfect finishing touches. The former smells exactly as you'd expect, while the latter has a gorgeous aroma of deliciously sweet apples, and has been a favourite of mine for some years now.

What are your Summer essentials?


Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Summer Shopping List

Hi everyone, can you believe how long the sunny weather is continuing in the UK? It's almost unheard of these days that there be an actual summer, but this July really seems to be going above and beyond - it's almost as if it's trying to make up for all the dreary washouts of the past few years. It does make me laugh scanning my Twitter feed though, as inevitably the same people who were complaining about the bitter cold just a couple of months ago are now feeling all hot and bothered in the warm weather. I think complaining about the weather is something quintessentially British - we are never satisfied, are we!?
Anyway, with the soaring temperatures in mind (it's still roasting where I am too), this week I have put together a little bit of a shopping list, consisting of a few products that would get anybody through a long hot summer, with no need to compromise on looking up to scratch.
First and foremost, I tend to reach for texturising hair sprays at this time of year, and I'm certain I'm not alone on that score. Fortunately, my hair has a natural wave to it when left to dry naturally anyway, so with a bit of a helping hand from something like the Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray I'm well on my way to a laid-back, beachy look. For night time, the Oribe Dry Texturising Spray would be perfect - as well as giving it that tousled look, it claims to add incredible volume as well as absorbing oil at the roots - and let's be honest, who couldn't do with a bit of extra help in both of those departments when your hair is frizzing out and slicking itself to your forehead in a less than attractive manner? Speaking of which, it's impossible to get through summer without a good deep conditioning mask like the Tigi S-Factor Serious Conditioner. Spending long periods in the sun tends to dry out ends to the extreme, especially if you've got colour treated hair. I haven't tried this one yet, but it sounds like a really nourishing treatment that hair would drink up gladly a couple of times a week - and better still, it smells like strawberries, so it's pretty much a win-win.
Something else we could all do with is a bit of extra colour in our cheeks, and the By Terry Soleil Terrybly Hydra Bronzing Tinted Serum sounds like just the job for giving you a naturally bronzed-looking, sun-kissed complexion. Add to that a light dusting of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder for evening and skin should be glowing in no time without looking oily or shiny. Of course, to keep it all in place it's always a good idea to pop on a bit of primer first, and the Nars Multi-Protect Primer seems a good choice for both day and night, aiming to protect and soothe skin as well as keeping everything where it should be (it's SPF30, making it a great choice for summer, but it might be an idea to swap it out for a different primer at night to avoid the dreaded ghost face if you are planning on taking lots of photos!).
A pop of colour on the cheeks is a must, and I currently favour cream formulations, and having spotted Topshop Cream Blush in Head Over Heels I am keen to add it to my shopping basket. I already own Flush, which is a bright coral pink and is an absolute summer staple. Head Over Heels is a slightly more delicate, peachy coral, and would look fabulous with a tan.
At this time of year, I find myself wanting to smell like summer itself, and that means whimsical fragrances like the Jo Malone Cologne in English Pear and Freesia. In fact, there are a number of fragrances in Jo's collection that to me are the absolute epitome of summer - light fruity scents merge with delicate summer garden florals to create that perfect balance, and with choices like English pear, fig and nectarine they truly do sound good enough to eat.

What's on your summer shopping list?


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Review: Sleek Blush in Life's a Peach

I love Sleek blushes. They're cheap, highly pigmented and easy to work with, and they come in a generous compact with a huge mirror. What's not to like?
Life's a Peach s no exception to any of the above, and being a pretty, warm orangey-peach, it's the perfect shade for giving your cheeks that summer glow we all crave at this time of year. It might look a bit scary in the pan, but while it is very pigmented and easy to pick up on the brush, it's pretty buildable, giving you options about how you choose to wear it. A light wash of colour is really flattering on bronzed skin, but if you really want to stand out from the crowd then this blush will easily do that job too. 
While it is easy to work with, I must admit that it doesn't pick up on the brush quite as well as some of Sleek's other shades - but saying that, it does blend out more easily than, say, Rose Gold. It's also nice and finely milled, making it silky soft in texture, and wears really well without becoming streaky or patchy.

Left: blended out. Right: Swatched quite heavily. 
(Excuse the hairband mark on my arm in the middle of the blended swatch!)

This has quickly worked its way up in my blush repertoire and is up there in my top three for the summer months. 

Sleek Life's a Peach is available at a bargainous £4.49 from Superdrug.

Have you tried anything from Sleek?
If so, what is your favourite?


Monday, July 8, 2013

Elemental Herbology Cell Food Serum

The fact that Elemental Herbology is a cruelty free brand has always warranted a big thumbs up from me, and with no parabens, sulphates, mineral oils, synthetic fragrances or artificial colours in their products it comes as no surprise that they have quickly made their way up my mental list of great skincare brands.
The Elemental Herbology Cell Food Radiance and Vitality Facial Serum* is one of the brand's best-selling products, and once you have given it a go it's not difficult to figure out why. Containing fourteen active ingredients and six anti-oxidants, this serum is packed full of nourishing goodness to get dull, parched and lacklustre skin looking back to its radiant best in no time. The anti-ageing 'power house' of proteins, vitamins and anti-oxidants provide a real boost, helping to stimulate collagen and elastin production, as well as reducing the prevalence of lines, wrinkles and dark spots.
With kombuchka to improve skin texture and diminish pigmentation, pomegranate to moisturise and nourish, and vitamins A, C and E, CoEnzyme Q10 and green tea (phew!) to fight against free radical damage and wrinkles, it's like feeding your skin a perfectly nutritionally balanced meal. But how did it actually fare when I put it to the test?
The Cell Food Serum comes in a sleek metallic bottle, making it the perfect decorative addition to any skincare shelf. But it's not just a pretty face.
Every morning and evening, I dispense a couple of drops of this onto my fingertips (using the handy pipette), and massage it into my skin after toning. It's a white liquid, which absorbs almost instantly into the skin without so much of a hint of greasiness or tackiness, meaning it won't slow you down on those days where you just don't have the time to wait around. Anyone with sensitive skin will love this, as the Aloe and Rose Damask water it contains will calm and soothe, making it the perfect partner for any and all skin-types.
The Cell Food Serum has made quite a considerable difference to my skin since I began using it, with a much more even tone and diminished dark marks (from going out in the sun without a high enough SPF on  - naughty, naughty). The best thing of all though, is the healthy, radiant glow it has given me - a much needed boost, and a welcome distraction from the pesky blemishes that have been bringing me down of late. My skin now feels healthy, comfortable, plump and well-nourished, and I'm more than happy to have this serum in my day-to-day routine.

The Elemental Herbology Cell Food Serum is available direct from Elemental Herbology, and also from Feel Unique, priced at £45. 

Have you tried anything from Elemental Herbology? What are your favourite products?


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Review: Ren Clearcalm 3 Clay Cleanser

Ren is a brand that had my vote from the off. With a wide range of skincare products catering for all skin-types, they sum up their 'clean' philosophy in three words: Performance, Purity and Pleasure.
You will never stumble across a Ren product that has parabens, sulphates, mineral oil or synthetic fragrances on its' ingredients list, and being someone who tries their very best to avoid such chemical nasties, this suits me jussst fine.
The Clearcalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser (everyone likes a bit of alliteration, no?) is designed for blemish prone skin - something which mine now unfortunately seems to be - and aims to combat the three key causes of breakouts and blemishes: excess sebum, build-up of dead skin cells and blemish causing bacteria. Sounds quite grimey when you put it like that, but we all know that it happens, no matter how well we look after our skin.
This cleanser is really quite unusual, in that it does indeed have the consistency or a slightly smoother and easier to work with clay mask. It's thick and creamy, with a herbal clay scent, and massages easily into the skin. Personally, I find that one large pump is plenty for me, though I do tend to use this only as my morning cleanser as it doesn't remove makeup. I generally work it into my skin for a good couple of minutes, really taking the time to massage any congested areas extra-well, before adding warm water and removing a muslin cloth. 
Like a clay mask, this gets right down into the pores for a deep-down cleanse, purifying and gently exfoliating the skin as it goes. As an added bonus, it does tend to leave pores looking a little bit more refined, and after use my skin feels comfortable and soft - not at all dry, as you might expect from a clay-based product.
So, which ingredients do what? Well, the Clearcalm Cleanser boasts French clay, known for it's oil-absorbing properties, and zinc gluconate to reduce the production of sebum. Antibacterial salicilin mildly exfoliates the skin, while Mayblosson tones enlarged pores. All of that is topped off with a bit of Manuka extract to soothe and nourish.
I find this a pleasant cleanser to use in the mornings, and it does leave my skin looking and feeling matte, creating a great canvas for applying my makeup. I can't say that it has eliminated my hormonal breakouts completely, but I have noticed that I have been getting far fewer big, angry blemishes. I'm now interested to try some of the other products in the Clearcalm range, such as the Clarity Restoring Mask and the Replenishing Night Serum, as with most skincare ranges, I expect they would do their best job when used in conjunction with one another.
I love the fact that I can always rely on this cleanser to start my skin off on the right path in the mornings, and for that reason I think I will always keep a tube of it on hand.

The Clearcalm 3 range is available direct from the Ren Skincare website.

Have you tried anything from the Clearcalm 3 range?
What are your favourite Ren products?


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Little Catch-Up

Well hello me hearties, I seem to have deviated somewhat from usual weekly routine of sharing a little life-related update with you, and a quick scan back through recent posts tells me I haven't done so since the 2nd June! Shocking. I thought it had been a week, but a month!?
There have been one or two reasons for my neglecting to fill you in on recent goings on, number one of them being that until the end of last week, June was just too uneventful to photograph. I didn't go anywhere, and I haven't been buying anything as I'm attempting to conserve some pennies, so that didn't make for a very exciting set of snaps. Secondly, I've been extremely busy with the mundane - namely paperwork, appointments and sorting through junk. The joy.
However, last Wednesday the hubby and I did jump in the car for a bit of a road trip, which while still loosely related to paperwork, was a barrel of laughs. We went to the state capital for a couple of days and stayed in our favourite little hotel in front of the sea, so naturally I was happy from the off.
On that first evening, the football was on, and unsurprisingly, the other half was eager to watch it. Since it was Brazil vs Uruguay in the Confederation Cup, it was of no interest to me whatsoever. Shopping, on the other hand, was. So the plan was that he could sit and watch the game, beer in hand, while I whiled away the time visiting Mac and Zara at the nearby shopping mall. All was going well, until I set foot in the mall only to be told it was about to close due to yet more protests. These have been a bi-weekly occurrence over the past fortnight, and are mainly against the corruption within the Brazilian government. 
For anyone who is interested, some 13 billion reais (local currency, 3=£1) of public money miraculously 'disappeared' last year alone, and people want to know why. The health service and education are so poorly neglected over here, and yet the people who are responsible for running and improving the country are simply pocketing what they can and coasting along. It's pretty sickening really. I think what has really kicked things off is the fast approaching World Cup, which will be held in Brazil next year. The amount that has been spent on stadiums and the like has simply disgusted people, especially when you think about all the areas in which investment is desperately needed.
Anyway, enough about that. So I couldn't go shopping. Cue me stomping back to the hotel and sulking over some cheese and wine until the game was over. By the time it had finished, we were both pretty shattered, but we decided to get our gladrags on and head out for a bit of dinner. We settled on Mexican, and devoured a huge plate of nachos so quickly that I didn't even have the chance to take a photo. Washed down with a Bloody Mary for me (I was feeling a little bit fragile that day) and Mexican style beers which were mixed with freshly squeezed limes and rimmed with salt and pepper for the Mr, we turned in fairly early as we had to be up at 6am for an appointment.
On Thursday, we hauled ourselves out of bed and took full advantage of the breakfast buffet before heading to our appointment, and with that out of the way we were finally able to hit the shopping mall! Despite having promised myself I'd leave both Zara and Mac well alone (one out of two isn't bad...), I did end up popping into the former and bagging myself a couple of bargains in the sale. I say bargains, but they were still pretty expensive really. If you'd like to see what I got then keep an eye out, as I may well be doing a haul video very soon.
Once we were all shopped out, we headed for an iced coffee and then back to the hotel for a nap. I can't usually sleep during the day, but over the past week or so I have been out like a light the second my head hit the pillow. At least on this day, I did have the excuse of having been up really early.
When we woke up, the hubby kindly informed me that there was yet another football game to be watched. I'm making him sound really bad here, but he's quite good about his sports really. He doesn't obsess about his favourite team, or even bother to watch half of their games, but when Brazil are playing he does tend to get quite into it, and I'm happy to concede that....most of the time.
It was decided that we would head down to the beach, where there was a nice little bar showing the football. Fine by me - I took my new book (The Secret Sister by Elizabeth Lowell), ordered myself a Mojito and put my feet up to watch the sunset, trying my best to ignore the over-excited gaggle of men to my left. Little did I know that not a single goal would be scored, and that then it would go to extra time and then penalties (yawn), by which time the wind had got up and I was freezing.
Once the most boring football game ever was over, we went back to the hotel, showered, went out for a delicious Thai meal and rounded things off with a few tangerine and basil sake cocktails at a local Samba bar. Can't complain about that, it was a treat.
By the morning, we were running a bit low on cash so decided to hit the road and head home, and that's where the fun ended, making way for a rather dull weekend at home.
Since then it's been back to the paperwork mountain, but I do plan to have climbed out from underneath it by the end of tomorrow evening. It's also going to be my last ever day in my current job, which is both exciting and daunting, but mainly the first as it means I am all the closer to goinggg hommme!! Yay.
Speaking of which, a group of friends from back home have organised a big camping trip for us all down in Cornwall at the end of August, which I'm very excited about - I really can't wait to get everyone back together again. It doesn't happen very often, because we all live in different places now, but whenever we do manage it it's always amazing - I don't stop laughing when I'm with those ladies! This is going to be the first time we've done more of a 'couples' type trip, which does make me feel a little bit old, but it should be a good chance for everyone's other halves to get to know each other as there are still some of us who haven't met. 

Anyway, that's you all up to date on what I've been up to lately, and hopefully it won't be too long until I feel I have something else worth sharing on that front.

What have you been doing lately?

Please leave a comment, I read every last word and love hearing your views! It really brightens up my day.

For all PR enquiries, please contact me at: