December 28, 2012

Sephora Haul!

I got a visitor who was kind enough to bring me some goodies from Sephora. These end-of-the year purchases also made me into a VIB!

  • Korres Wild Rose Daily Brightening & Refining Buff Cleanser [Review Here]
  • Shiseido White Lucent Anti-Dark Circles Eye Cream [Review Here]
  • Rosebud Salve in a Tube [Review Here]

  • Fresh Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Duo [Review Here]
    I have previously bought the full size duo and absolutely loved it. Glad to receive this birthday gift
  • Bvlgari MAN Eau de Toilette
  • NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer (Malaga: Med/Dark1)
    Update: As predicted, this sample is too dark for my skin tone. I do like the light texture, but I will hold off on a final judgment until I try the product in a lighter shade.

I was able to use my $15 off purchases over $50 and I am most excited about the Shiseido eye cream. I will update reviews once I try out the products.

Review: Soap&Glory Scrub Your Nose in IT!

I have heard great things about the Soap&Glory brand while I was living in the US, but I was hesitant to try it because of the packaging. Since moving to the UK, I decided to cast aside my doubt. I was not a fan of Benefit's packaging, but I love their products, so why not give Soap&Glory a chance? I am so glad I did! I picked up this tube of Soap&Glory scrub about three weeks ago and after using it 2-3 times a week since, I am absolutely in love with it.

Although it is a scrub, I felt it was rather gentle and its microbeads (visible in the above image) are not too harsh. It has a mild minty citrus scent. I usually massage it for about 30 seconds before raising it off. It also double as a mask if left on for a couple minutes more. It leaves my face feeling refreshed without excess tightness. Most importantly, true to its claim, my pores are visibly smaller. At £7.50 for 125mL, it is definitely one for the value.

December 17, 2012

Calvin Klein Quin Trainers

New shoes! Among my collection of flats, heels, and boots, this pair of Calvin Klein Quin is only my second pair of sneakers next to my old pair of Nike (which after 4+ years, has definitely seen much better days).

The logo is so subtle, love it! it looks worn

These shoes are made for walking!

December 11, 2012

L'Occitane Beautiful Hands Collection

Today, I want to share with you this set of L'Occitane travel-size hand creams that I picked up a few days ago. I have already gone through 3 of the L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream and I am eager to try the other scents (click to enlarged photos)

The different scents vary in their thicknesses, with Shea Butter being the most creamy to Pivoine Flora being the lightest. However, all three absorbs equally quickly, leaving the hands feeling soft without any stickiness.

The Pivoine Flora is the most fragrant of the three, but is not overwhelming at all. The Cherry Blossom is delicate and sweet while Shea Butter is a really fresh, warm scent.

I always keep a tube of L'Occitane in my purse and just a dab is enough to cover both hands. At £15.50 for the set, it's the perfect holiday gift.

Update (May 30, 2013): Updated impressions for Pivoine Flora and Shea Butter in my May Empties.

Update (November 30, 2013): Updated impressions for Cherry Blossom in my November Empties.

December 8, 2012

Review: Garnier Youthful Radiance Multi-Active Care (Eye)

Garnier Youthful Radiance Multi-Active Care (Eye)

- Immediately hydrates for 24 hours and illuminates the skin of the eye contour area
- Reduce the appearance of fine lines after 2 weeks

My take:
The scentless cream is quite dense, so a little bit does go a long way. It does sting a bit if it gets in my eyes, but it is no more hydrating than my moisturizer. I have been using it for over 3 weeks and no difference in fine lines or brightness. The 6 pounds for the 15mL will last quite a while, but I will not re-purchase.

December 4, 2012

Cocktail Workshop Photos

Over 2 hours of learning about techniques and recipes with professional tools. Fantastic experience, check out the drinks made in order of appearance

Variation on a Honeyberry Sour with Honey Wine

Something delicious with cinnamon and maple syrup. Light up the cinnamon stick to dust it over the surface of the drink. Surprisingly, it does not taste as sweet as expected. Very very smooth

Remember to squeeze the orange peel and light the oil for a nice zesty touch to the classic. It also makes for a great show! Also wipe the peel on the rim and let it soak for extra flavor

Apple Fan
Jelly Donut
Berry liquor and Baileys. Favorite drink of the night

November 29, 2012

NOTD: Sally Hansen Salon Effects (Cry Baby)

My first attempt at nail wraps. I bought this Sally Hansen Salon Effects in Cry Baby and it came with everything in the above image. It was easy to find 10 wraps that fit my nails. The result was super shiny even without a top coat. The neon pink color was also brighter than traditional polishes due to a white base beneath. I made it to three days without tip-wear, but a top coat would probably made it last longer.

Finger prints will show initially during application, but will disappear after smoothing it out with the cuticle stick. The wraps are sticky on both sides, so give a minute for one hand to set before starting on the other. I would recommend applying to the dominant hand first and to fold the excess material over the edge of the nail before removing it. Unfortunately, since the wraps are made out of nail polish, it inevitably still smelled awful. Comparing to regular polish, these took me much longer to apply on this first try.

Shiny right?

November 24, 2012

Steve Madden Inklet Flat

This is a pair of suede, slightly pointy-toe flats with a pyramid of studs on the back. I love the contrasting black exterior and goldish-silver interior. It slips on easily and is quite comfortable. My only reservation is the narrowness of the toe box. Although it's not quite the right season for flats, it goes so well with tights.

November 23, 2012

Review: The Body Shop Shea Body Butter vs. Dove Limited Edition Winter Care Nourishing Body Lotion


Scent: Both the body butter and the lotion smell of vanilla and shea butter. The distinguishing factor is the narrower radius and shorter duration of the body butter's scent. Despite a stronger scent, Dove's lotion is nowhere near overwhelmingly sweet.

Texture: From its appearance in the container, I had expected the body butter to be fluffy and light. Totally contrary, the body butter scooped out like a paste, but does easily blend into the skin. Dove's lotion squeezed out of the bottle a lot lighter, and is similarly smooth and fast absorbent.

Hydration: The body butter is advertised for "Very Dry Skin" while the lotion is for all skin types. I found both equally moisturizing, but Dove's lotion leaves my skin much more silkier.

Price: The body butter is 200mL vs Dove's 250mL, but since the body butter is rather dense, it would probably last as long as Dove's lotion. I got the body butter for free at a L'Oreal event and bought the Dove's lotion on sale at 50% off. Regularly, the body butter retails for £13.00 vs. Dove's lotion for about £3.

Recommendation: Dove's lotion wins on price, texture and scent to be the better deal. I would continue to use the body butter for spot treatments, but Dove everywhere else. So if you already love Body Shop's Shea Body Butter, then Dove's Winter Care lotion would definitely step up as a bargain alternative.

Update (Jan 12, 2013): I used up the Dove Winter Care, after using it almost daily, minus the two week vacation I took over the holidays. The 250mL lasts about 5 weeks of use.

Update (May 30, 2013): Updated impressions for the Body Shop Shea Body Butter in my May Empties.

November 15, 2012

NOTD: Color Club Wild and Willing

Purchased by Me
"Wild and Willing" from Color Club's "Wild at Heart" Collection is a gorgeous duochrome with a foil finish.
The formula is thin, but even after 4 coats, did not feel too thick.
It's the perfect for the fall and the festival season. Pumpkin spice anyone?

With Indoor Lighting:

With Natural Lighting:

November 11, 2012

Review: Vaseline Lip Therapy: Pink Bubbly (Limited Edition)

Purchased by Me

I picked up this tin of the Pink Bubbly Vaseline Lip Therapy a week ago in dear hope that it would shield my lips from the winter dryness. This limited edition is absolutely adorable in its strawberry and dark chocolate colored tin, but at £3.49, it also cost 75% more than a regular Vaseline lip therapy of the same size.

The jelly glides on almost clear and shiny. It has a subtle sweet scent and tastes quite true to what its name suggests as a champagne. The wear time is around 4-5 hours, by then the shine disappears and leaves my lips with a matte soft glow. After a week of use, my lips have gotten visibly smoother. Love this!

November 5, 2012

Fireworks at the Midsummer Common

Just got back from the fireworks, wishing I had a tripod. Please click to view full-size

Any tips for fireworks photography?

November 3, 2012

Red Cups are HERE!

One of my favorite things about the holiday season are the festival drinks by various cafes. This Toffee Nut Latte should keep my happy and productive for the rest of the day.

November 1, 2012

Ely, Cambridgeshire

At 10am on Oct. 20th, I boarded a train to Ely for £2.80 round-trip fare. The main attraction is, of course, the Ely Cathedral.

After a brief walk in the morning fog, I arrived at the West Door, opening up to this amazing view:

View from the West Door

I bought the "Total Experience" ticket (£14.50), which included Cathedral admission, a tour up the Octagon Tower, and entrance to the adjacent Stained Glass Museum.

My tour was led by a gentleman named John, so I, along with a couple in their 50s, went along the history-enriched tour. This Norman-designed Cathedral that was restored in the Victorian era, is truly a marvelous sight.

The lantern shaped octagon tower was built after one of the four original pillars of the building collapsed. This lantern design optimizes natural daylight filtering into the building.

Here's the view from the floor level...

View of the Octagon Tower from the Floor Level

After going through the tower entrance at the side of Lady Chapel, up ~170 steps of super narrow, low-ceiling, cobwebs-filled staircase, I arrived at the following view:

View from the Top of the Octagon Tower

For a more in-depth look of the interior design:

Model of the Octagon Tower
Supporting Structure in the Octagon Tower

It was actually quite chilly on the tower roof. So after the swift descent, I went for some lunch and tea at the cafe before a visit to the Stained Glass Museum. Fresh-out-of-the oven sausage roll for £2.50 and a complementary tea.

Lunch at the Cafe

Following a visit to the Apple Festival and to the Oliver Cromwell House (which now houses the Tourist Information Center), I strolled across town to the riverside for a distant photo of the Ely Cathedral.

The West Tower and the Octagon Tower

Here I ended my trip to board a train back home