Wednesday, 30 May 2012

I scream for eye cream

I have a new eye cream of choice: Cosmetox eye cream from the Advanced Formula range at Marks and Spencer. 

I had been using Estee Lauder's Advanced Night Repair eye cream, but my skin has recently become much drier, and I found I needed something more moisturising. I'd spotted this eye cream on my lunch-time sandwich dash, and thought I'd give it a try. 

{Cosmetox Eye Cream, £9.50 Marks and Spencer}

{roller-ball applicator}

What really attracted me to it was the applicator - the roller ball makes it super quick and easy to apply, without having to get your hands dirty. The active ingredients include collagen, hyaluronic acid, plus proteins and peptides to prevent and decrease wrinkles. The cream definitely feels moisturising, but it manages to stay light and sinks in really quickly. I'll be sticking with this one for a while.

My all time favourite is the budget-busting eye cream by Zelens, from Space NK - a super-light texture, which is a cross between a gel and cream (similar to Advanced Night Repair eye cream) but very moisturising. I noticed a definite improvement in fine lines around the eye, but what this cream gives is a luminosity to the skin which I've never had from any other eye cream. The rest of the range is great too, and also give the skin the luminous glow. Yes it's pricey, but you only need to use a little, so a pot will last you a long time. It contains collagen, hyaluronic acid, proteins and peptides, as the M&S cream above, but also contains Snap-8, a non-toxic alternative to botox, which has a similar affect on the skin. And that's what you're paying for with this cream.

{Zelens triple-action eye cream, £75 Space NK}

My budget favourite which I go to when the pennies just won't stretch far enough, is L'Oreal's Youth Code. A light-weight cream, which has quite a dry texture, it's a good one if you don't like the feel of more moisturising creams. The light pink colour also helps to cover up dark circles, as well as targeting fine lines and wrinkles.

{L'Oreal Youth Code eye cream, £11.33 Superdrug}

This cream by Estee Lauder had previously been my standard go-to eye cream. It's another one with a gel-cream texture, which is what I really like in an eye cream. The focus here is on hyaluronic acid to moisturise, plus a cocktail of anti-oxidant to prevent and repair environmental damage, caused by UV, irritants and pollutants.

{Estee Lauder Advanced night repair eye cream, £36 John Lewis}

Remember, the skin around the eye is four times thinner than the skin on the rest of your face - handle with care. 

Monday, 28 May 2012

The weekend

The weekend was busy and hot. Ever so hot. It involved belated birthday celebrations in London on Friday night, and then general lazing over the next two days. 

{belated birthday gifts}

Went shopping with some birthday vouchers (more on the spoils of that trip another time) and in time-honoured tradition when on Oxford Street, called in at Muji. Just a few minutes browsing in there instills in me a sense of calm. And I found these thin cotton buds, which are excellent for touching up eye-makeup, especially if you're going for a strong liquid eyeliner.

{new discovery - thin cotton buds}

All eating was done outside this weekend - got to make the most of this weather - who knows how long it's going to last?

{favourite summer drink - San Pellegrino Limonata}

We went in search of a nice picnic spot by the river, and ended up in Goring-on-Thames. A lovely spot with some nice river-side walks and an excellent cafe. It's about an hour's journey outside the capital, in case any of you Londoners fancy a day trip. This boat was visiting from Utrecht - I was rather taken by it.

{dream home - a dutch barge on the Thames}
The Pierreponts cafe on the bridge over the river is definitely worth a try - they're so popular, they don't even need a website. 'Nuff said. They're open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, and sometimes stay open in the evenings during the summer.

{a bite to eat at Pierreponts cafe}

And when the weather cooled down a bit in the evening, we put in some long overdue time down at the allotment.

{late evening at the allotment}

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Neem soap

{available here for £1.75 with free delivery}

If you suffer with problem skin, summer can just make the problem worse, as the warm weather and UV can exacerbate the problem. I've been trialling this soap for a few months now, and also sent some to friends who I've used as guinea pigs. The reports back have been good - the soap keeps spots at bay, and also gets rid of new spots much more quickly.

For those who would shudder at the thought of using a soap on your face (me included), this one is very gentle and doesn't strip the skin at all, or leave it feeling dry.

The reason it works is that it's got strong antibacterial qualities, which targets acne bacteria very effectively.

And another bonus? It's only £1.75 including free delivery. Well worth a try.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Get shorty with GAP

In case you were inspired by yesterday's blog post... click here to browse all GAP shorts.


{order out of chaos}

I like trays, I like them a lot. I have a lot of them, but I use them all, so I think that's fair enough. I particularly like them because they have the ability to add a sense of order to a whole lot of mess.

Loads of pots and bottles sitting on your dressing table? Line them up neatly on a tray and suddenly they look like they're meant to be there. A mish-mash of bottles of plonk on your sideboard? Add a tray underneath, and it gives it the look of a drinks area. I've already blogged on here before about my glass trays, which I use by the cooker, and on my bedside table.

{the before shot}

I found this tray above in a chazzy for £2. It was heavily marked, but for £2 I thought it was worth a go. I loved the size and the style of it. Because of the marks, I had thought that I might cut some patterned fabric to size and glue it into the inlay, and then maybe even get a piece of perspex cut to size to sit on top of it.  

But that was before I tried my Lakeland Miracle Cloth (am I starting to sound like one of this JML adverts?).  My mum sent this to me, because we have a lot of wooden furniture in our house, which gets easily marked. I thought I'd give it a go, and was so eager to try it, I only remembered to take my "before" shot half-way through using it. So in the photo above, I'd already given the bottom central section a good rub with the cloth. Anyway, by the time I'd used the cloth on the whole tray, and then buffed it with a clean, dry cloth, it was looking pretty good. The shadow marks you can see below are from the tree in our garden. There are still a few faint marks on it, but I think the cloth has done well, and it's only £4.99.

{the after shot}

I'm using it in our spare bedroom / dressing room, to try and install some boundaries to the general mess and clutter, and the growing collection of Nars blushers - anyone who tells you there is a better blusher is lying.

Here are some more tray set-ups for inspiration, and links to where you can find similar on the high street.

{for a metal tray, try John Lewis}

{this tray from IKEA is similar}

{for a similar perspex tray try Zara Home}

{a large vintage plate or platter also works well}

{IKEA and Zara Home have similar}

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Here comes summer

Oh hello sun, glad you could make it. You've had me worried. So, finally it's time for a summer clothes blog post. I've always found the most stylish and comfortable hot weather outfit to be a dress with flat, strappy sandals. Pair with a jacket for work, or a light-weight knit for play. 

For evening, the selection of maxi skirts out there makes your going-out option a no brainer. A long, following maxi skirt with a simple silk vest and flat sandals makes your evening option so simple. Keep prints to a minimum but pile on the jewellery to add interest. If you need a jacket, it's time to dig out your denim jacket from the 1990's which is the ideal partner if you're wearing a bold, solid colour.

Another favoured look is a pair of smart, tailored shorts worn with an unstructured shirt. Choose natural fibres (avoiding linen) to keep your look casual, but not crumpled. 

Add a bold bright nail varnish, and you're ready to go.

Clockwise from top left:
Combined silk bib front blouse, £59.99 Zara; Tie dye print shirt, £29.99 Zara; Checked sundress, £42 by Dickins & Jones; Silk drape dress, £65 Oasis; Tippi sweater in linen, £60.91 J.Crew (also in navy & white linen stripe, £46.20 J.Crew); Pleat front shorts, £49 Cos; Silk vest top, £45 French Connection; Naveen printed maxi skirt, £139 Reiss; Water colour midi dress, £46 Topshop; Patent cross-strap sandals, £26 Next; Columbia cross-strap tan/snake sandal, £35 Office; Navy cotton dress with pintucks, £69 Cos; Shirred maxi skirt, £124.39 J. Crew

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Flea market finds

It was a busy weekend of birthday celebrations, couple with many happy hours spent chazzing and flea marketing. As a special treat, my lovely friend Bob introduced me to a flea-market near to where she lives. As well as the photos below, I got two lampshades, and a hand-embroidered tablecloth. Here's a little show and tell.

{navy blue snakeskin clutch by Bally}

{once, twice, three times a bargain}

{navy blue and white leather heels by Russell & Bromley}

{brown leather mid-heels by Bruno Magli}

{tan and cream leather sling-backs by Bruno Magli}

If you ever come across Bruno Magli shoes then snap them up - I already own one pair, and they're great quality and always a lovely shape. They often have a slightly lower heel too, so manage to stay comfortable whilst still looking glamourous. Then we ended the day with a toast to our flea market finds. All in a day's work.

{well done us}

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Something for the precious

I like to live an ordered life, and know where things are at all times. Especially things which are important to me, like jewellery. I've had one of these glass ring holders for years now, but broke it recently, and I've since been on the look out for a new one.

The chazzies are the best hunting ground for ring dishes like these, or antique shops. You do occasionally see modern versions of these dishes, but they always fall on the wrong side of tacky. Vintage is what you're after.

{my replacement}

{filled with rings}

I'd been looking for ages to find a replacement, and after I found this one above (for £1) I found three others in the same week - varying anything between £1 and £5.

This is always my default present when one of my friends gets engaged - pretty but practical - something to help keep "the precious", well, precious. I had to look long and hard to find this blue set below for a friend, and eventually found one in an antique shop. I paid a little bit more than usual, but it's a particularly lovely one, so I think it's worth it. There a little matching dish too, to keep your kirby grips and hair elastics in.

{engagement present}

Thursday, 17 May 2012

The brush off

I used to religiously use a brush to put my foundation on with, but I lost it, and have been using my fingers ever since. This brush caught my eye when I was in the supermarket, and was only £7, so I decided to give it a go.

It's a great brush - perfect size, and so far no shedding of hairs whatsoever. It leaves a smooth, non-streaky finish on the skin, leaving my skin much more flawless looking that when I apply the foundation with my fingers. I also find that I use much less foundation.

The brush is easy to clean, just using facial cleanser. It's not the softest brush I've ever used, but the finish it gives is great. It's made from synthetic bristles, which is exactly what you want when applying a cream-based product - save your natural hair brushes for power-based make-up.

{new foundation brush}

{made by Ecotools - Bamboo Foundation Brush}

I used this brush with my Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation, which suited it well, but you may find that different foundations give different results. Here are some other brushes to try if your foundation doesn't get on with this brush. I've used both and can recommend them both highly.

{foundation brush, £12.50 Space NK}
currently 50% off in the sale

{No 7 foundation brush from Boots}

And the best bit? No more foundation all over my hands, which means less make-up all over the hand towels. Result.

*Update: a couple of months on from first using the Bamboo foundation brush, it started to moult... and didn't stop... a load of rubbish. So I bought the Space NK one, which, a long time on, is still going strong. This is a situation where you definitely get what you pay for.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Lost & found

I love the combination of grey and gold - with clothes, jewellery, interiors - it never fails to please. I had a much adored pair of grey and gold stud earrings, which I've lost. I've searched high and low, and given up hope. They were my go-to pair, so I've found a replacement - and they're serving me well so far. They have won plenty of compliments on every outing they've had. Well done earrings. They have 14k gold-plated silver posts (for the sensitive amongst you) and the stones are agate. The agate is described as purple on the website, but go and have a look in the shop - they really vary in colour - anything from dark grey to a creamy white.

{Callisto post earrings, £38 Anthropologie}

Anthropologie does a great range of jewellery, which is more expensive, but definitely better quality and more unique than the rest of the high street. And the prices remain low enough to be budget friendly. It's worth having a browse - I've just fallen for these Lunar gleam earrings below - also available in blue or green.

{Lunar gleam earrings, £24 Anthropologie}

And here are some of the other offerings which caught my eye. And whilst we're on the subject of Anthropologie, it's worth having a look at their house & home section - it can be pricey, but it's a good place if you're in search of inspiration. And then there's always their sale...

{Muriel earrings, £28 Anthropologie}

{Kuychi necklace, £48 Anthropologie}

{Rugged glint drops, £28 Anthropologie}

{Fairburn necklace, £48 Anthropologie}

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Gold hoops

I bought this stool for a fiver in a chazzy, when I was renting a flat mid-week, and commuting home at weekends. The flat was furnished, but I needed a small side table to go next to the sofa, and I thought that this 70's relic would do. 

I wasn't much taken with the retro wicker, but I had a plan for that - I reckoned that if I took it apart, sprayed the wooden hoops with gold spray paint, and covered the top with leather, then it would look much more modern. So that's what I did.

I wasn't too bothered about how much I'd like the stool when it was finished, and yet it's turned out to be one of my favourite items - and that's often the way, isn't it. That top that you bought in the sale, because you thought it would be "useful" turns out to become something you go to again and again.

{the original stool, complete with 70's wicker}

The stool is just held together with one screw in each place where the wooden hoops meet, so it was easy to take apart with just a screw-driver.

I found that the easiest way to spray the hoops was to tie each hoop with string to the washing line, so that it was dangling, so I could paint it easily from all angles. The trick is to pick a non-windy day. I used gold spray paint which was about £5 from B&Q and once the hoops were all covered, I left them to dry on the washing line. I then touched up the bit that the string was touching after the rest of the hoop was dry.

For the top, I had a spare piece of leather (Portobello or Spitalfields markets are good places to try for leather remnants) and I pulled it taught across the wicker hoop, securing it in place by hammering in tacks all the way round the edge.

{leather held in place with tacks}

I then trimmed off any excess leather, and screwed the hoops back together, screwing carefully through the leather when attaching the top to the rest of the stool.

{the finished stool}

Monday, 14 May 2012

A neutral jacket

Oh this weather is difficult. Blowing hot and cold, rain and shine - you and your outfits just don't know where you are from one minute to the next.

So this is where the neutral jacket steps in - a wardrobe heroine, if you like. I like. It goes with pretty much any outfit, and is a useful layering piece. Casual enough to put on a parka over the top, plus a couple of fine layers underneath. And smart enough to wear at the office or in the evening. Pile on the jewellery if you need to dress it up, and sling on a shawl if you need to warm it up. 

{at Paris Fashion Week AW 2012}

Here's a high-street selection - there's a good choice out there. Look for a good fabric and don't be put off by cheap or naff looking buttons - you can change them in a few minutes. Also, you'll find yourself wearing one of these jackets so much that looking for one that can be machine washed is a time and money saver.

Top row, left to right:
Classic linen blazer, £49.95 Gap; Cropped collar detail jacket, £65 Warehouse; Crepe unstructured jacket, £55 Topshop; Wilson jacket, £59 Monsoon

Bottom row, left to right:
Double drape pocket jacket, £60 Warehouse; Joss tuxedo cover-up, £89 Reiss; Throw-on unlined jacket, £50 Topshop; Nude blazer, £125 Massimo Dutti

Friday, 11 May 2012

Birthday list

So it's my birthday on Friday. Another year older, another wish list on the go. Being a material girl by reputation, the requests have been flooding in asking what I'm currently coveting. So to give you all a helping hand with your present buying, I've put together a quick list - and it ended up being a long list. Still, we're entering a new season (soon apparently, although we're still waiting for some sunshine) and so my birthday has always been a good time to stock up on some summery key pieces. Plus a few baubles which will see me right for a few seasons.

And for a little pampering: I've tried a sample of the Glycolactic mask by REN and loved it, so have been hankering after a bottle of this for a while. And as for the bath oil - anything by Diptyque is guaranteed to please. Some new pyjamas and a deckchair in the garden will be just the ticket for a morning cup of tea.

Top row, left to right:
Arty gold-plated glass ring, £185 from Net-A-Porter by YSL; Fitted denim shirt, £30 from Topshop; Striped boatneck top, £29 from Muji (from the men's department, but fits well in a small size); Gold woven slippers, £30 from River Island
Middle row, left to right:
Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask, £30 from REN - order off their website for 10% off your first order, plus four free samples of your choice; Amber statement necklace, £45 from Galibardy; Navy and white striped deckchair, £45 from Rosablue; Simple cog necklace, £65 from Enelle; Suzy summer top, £83 from French Connection
Low row, left to right:
Diptyque precious oils for body & bath, £40 from Space NK; Summer stripe pyjamas, £45 from Hush; Fantasy fabric blazer, £79.99 from Zara; Dreamy drape knit, £67 from French Connection (back view)

There are also some books I'm after - Design Sponge At Home, Once In A House on Fire by Andrea Ashworth, plus the new Beach House album "Bloom" and tickets to see The Count of Monte Cristo at The National Theatre. And if you don't fancy any of the above, then the complete box set of Grey's Anatomy would make my day. And, and, and - no, that's the lot.

Happy birthday to me.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

I can't stand the rain

This rain looks here to stay. Which is a blow, because my hair and rain are not the best of friends in the frizz department.

I've tried hundreds of products out there to fight the frizz, and had some success recently, but the best solution is to keep your hair dry at all times. And unless you want to be a hostage in your own house, this means rain gear.

Not being a fan of  a kag-in-a-bag or anorak, I've gone down the hat route, and found this waterproof Trilby hat from M&S men's department which is worth its weight in gold.

{waterproof Trilby hat from M&S}
The drill is:

1. Wear a big scarf or shawl - smooth your hair down against your hair and shoulders, wrap your scarf snugly around your neck to cover your hair and keep it in place.

2. Put your coat or jacket on top to keep the scarf in place and secure.

3. Pull on your Trilby.

4. Put your umbrella up and off you go.

They don't do the exact same hat as mine anymore at M&S, but this one is very similar.

{water-repellent checked Trilby hat, £15 M&S}

Everyone has their own frizz-fighting routine though, and my stylish friend Liverpool Lou cuts a dash in a silk headscarf. Very chic. And seeing as it's a look favoured by The Queen, and it's The Queen's Jubilee this year and all... well yes, I agree, would be a kind of homage to Her Majesty. How very fitting.

How would you wear yours? These ladies below are making the look their own - in fact, Audrey Hepburn probably invented this look. She wears it well.