Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Wednesday Wish List

Well, hello there!

Here's a few things I've been coveting this week...

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16 // 17 // 18 // 19 // 20 // 21 // 22 // 23 // 24 // 25 // 26 // 27 // 28 // 29 // 30

Yes, I lied when I said "a few." (And there are even more to come). 

What can I say? I keep getting lured in by all the amazing colourful and patterned clothes and accessories that the shops are full of at the moment. Summery colours like orange, yellow, coral, turquoise, sky blue, and mint make me happy and as you can see, there are no shortage of pieces in those colours this week. I'm also loving all the pineapple, daisy and flamingo prints, which just scream "summer" to me and there's even a puffin print tee (7) in this week's mix! Gimme!

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10 // 11 // 12 // 
13 // 14 // 15 // 16 // 17 // 18 // 19 // 20 // 21 // 22 // 23 // 24 // 25

I've got my beady eyes on a lot of pieces in deeper and darker colours, too; mostly because I'm a magpie for all the colours and hues of the rainbow and will gladly wear most of them; especially if it's combined with an awesome print. This wish list features florals, polka dots with starfish, zebras, leopard print, birds and butterflies, and even a gorilla print headscarf! (14). I love them all!

I love stumbling up on new quirky prints and it always leaves me wondering what new prints will appear next. I hope they keep on coming until they bring out a tapir print, preferably made in to a dress!

What's on your wish list this week? 


Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Design Glassware by Mont Bleu

The lovely people at Mont Bleu recently got in touch and invited me to review some pieces for them.

I'll admit I had never heard of Mont Bleu before that email arrived in my inbox, but I did my research and soon learnt that they sell beautiful luxury glassware and cosmetic accessories; such as glass nail files, tweezers, make up brushes, mirrors, and jewellery; many of which are decorated with patterns and Swarovski crystals. 

Mont Bleu are in fact one of the world's leading manufacturers of glass nail files, and one of the main companies who produce accessories made with original Swarovski crystals in Europe.

I fell in love with many of the accessories on their website immediately, so I of course happily agreed to review a few items. Still, I was surprised when the box arrived on my door step just a few days later!

I was pleased to find two glass nail files, a pair of tweezers, a compact mirror, and a pair of earrings, all featuring Swarovski crystals, cradled carefully in the box.

This is how each of the accessories were packaged. The mirror also had a cardboard sleeve over the box.

I was sent two of their Swarovski nail files; the 13.5cm Swarovski Nail File in Turquoise*, and a 9cm Travel Nail File in Comet Clear- Green Crystal.* Both nail files are made from high quality tempered Czech glass and are decorated with Swarovski crystals. I'm not a fan of too much bling, but I personally think the designs are tasteful and not too OTT. I particularly love the colour of the turquoise file!

I gave both files a whirl earlier in the week and I have to say, I was impressed with both of them. The slightly sharp edges of the new glass provided a rough texture against my nails, which meant they were each filed and shaped in a matter of seconds. I hate filing my nails because it's so tedious, but I was done in no time at all! Both sizes were easy to handle, and both gave great results. I prefer the larger file for every day use, but the smaller travel file will be perfect for using on the go, as it's been designed for. I've added mine to my handbag so I can be prepared for nail emergencies on the move.

I've used nothing but glass nail files for at least five years now, as I prefer them to all the rest. I can't stand the texture of emery boards and other nail files against my nails; they literally sends shivers down my spine. Glass nail files, on the other hand, don't pose the same problem. They seem to just glide gently against the nail, and I personally think they provide smoother results than other types I've tried. They're kinder to the nails, too, and because the designs are so strong and durable, they should last you for years- providing they're looked after. (Which is kinder on your pocket in the long run, too!) 

The Swarovski Nail File (turquoise) retails for 10 euros which is currently about £8.23. The Travel Nail File (Comet Clear- Green Crystal)  is 8 euros, about £6.59. Both designs come in a wide variety of colours, and Mont Bleu also offer other glass nail file designs, including some with semi-precious stones and silver decorative figures. I think every girl needs a glass nail file in her beauty arsenal! I couldn't be without one.

My favourite item from the bunch has to be the Swarovski Tweezers.* They are made from high quality stainless steel and have been hand decorated with Swarovski crystals of various sizes. I was sent a pair in turquoise, which is one of my favourite colours, so we were already off to a good start before I'd even used them!

They arrived presented in a black velvet sleeve, and were secured near the end with a clear plastic band.

The tweezers have slanted metal tips, which are designed to make shaping as easy as possible. I found that the slanted tips helped me to pluck those stray eyebrow hairs with precision, and I was able to quickly and effortlessly pluck each target; even those light downy hairs that can be tricky to spot. It made me realise how blunt my other tweezers are. The tapered slim-line design was comfortable to work with, and I found them to be quite light-weight, yet very sturdy- including the crystals which are strongly attached. I'm very impressed with these tweezers, and they're probably the best quality pair I've ever owned.

The Swarovski Tweezers (in Turquoise) retail for 12 euros, which is about £9.89, and they come in a variety of beautiful colours.

I was also sent a pocket mirror "Green Sun",* which is a very light-weight plastic mirror decorated in Swarovski elements. It came presented in a smart and heavy-weight leatherette box on a bed of velvet, which is a nice feature. The box is strong so there's no need to worry about the mirrors breaking in transit when you place an order.

If I'm honest, by appearance, this mirror isn't something I would normally pick for myself. While the crystals do look pretty, the amount of embellishment and style of the compact just isn't to my personal taste. However, if you love a bit of sparkle, this may be completely perfect for you!

The compact is very light-weight but fairly study, which makes it ideal for carrying around in your handbag all day. Inside are two mirrors; one which is well magnified which is helpful for re-applying make up- or if you're just blind, like me and find it difficult to see yourself properly in a standard mirror. The mirror retails for 12 euros; about £9.89, and also comes in five other colours.

And the last product I was provided with is this pretty pair of Crystal Earrings;* "Crystal Vitrail Medium." The earrings are hand made in Prague in the Czech Republic from crystallized Swarovski elements, and covered with hypo allergenic metal. They don't contain zinc or other harmful metals that commonly irritate the skin.

I've worn the earrings for a couple of days now, and I've not had a bad reaction to the metal, like I often do with costume earrings (no itchiness, redness, or swelling of the lobes), and neither have I been left with green tinges on my skin. I think the earrings are far prettier on than on the piece of plastic, but just look at all those beautiful colours shining in the sunlight! When the day light touches them, they shine in all the colours of the rainbow.

The earrings are a purse-friendly 7.20 euro or £5.93, which I think is reasonable for a pair of lovely handmade crystal earrings.

Along with glass nail files, tweezers, mirrors, and earrings, Mont Bleu also sell many other products, including make up brushes, hair brushes, bag holders, and manicure sets. I personally love the look of the make up brushes! 

Mont Bleu are based in the Czech Republic, but they deliver all over the world including to the UK, USA and Canada. Unlike some companies, their delivery charges are so inexpensive, with worldwide priority airmail set at just 3 euros! I don't know about you, but I'm often reluctant to place an order when the delivery costs are extortionate, so I'm impressed to find a company that doesn't charge the earth for orders to travel around it.

The quality of all the items I reviewed is fantastic, and I can't rate them highly enough. They'd make perfect gifts for family and friends, and even better presents to yourself! 

Why not pop on over to Mont Bleu's website for a browse and treat yourself to something lovely this pay day? You deserve it!

* I was provided with all the products in this post by Mont Bleu in exchange for a review. As always, all photographs, words, and opinions are my own.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Sunday Favourites #79

Morning all!

It's time for this week's favourites, so let's just dive right in...

Just when I think Sasha Unisex's tattoo designs couldn't be more perfect she shares this stunning lion! 

Sasha's lion designs are so beautiful. Just look at this beauty I stumbled upon this week!

I know that the tattoos in this ad are most likely photoshopped, but I really love the designs! Especially the colourful swallows below the knees.

This fruity manicure would be perfect for summer time!

This passion flower inspired eye make up is beautiful. Purple and green is one of my favourite eye make up colour combinations.

I love all the colours used in this lily inspired look.

I want to try this DIY for watermelon print gift wrap.

Always be yourself; you're beautiful just as you are.

This amazing photo of a turtle about to eat a jelly fish. He shall be my squishy...

Bilbies are so cute! They almost look like mini aardvarks.

Unlikely friendships are the best.

Whenever I see different woodland animals together, I can't help thinking of The Animals of Farthing Wood. Not that there was an otter in the cartoons of books, as far as I can remember.

Could this orangutan be any more human?

It looks like this monkey is playing vet to his wide-eyed feathered friend.

Would you look at the antlers on this beautiful reindeer!

Doesn't Charlotte look pretty in the Matalan gingham skirt and a crop top she made herself?! She's currently running a giveaway with the top as a prize, so if you love it and are a size 22, go enter her giveaway for a chance to win it! 

I love all of the pretty dresses worn by this bridal party; so many lovely prints!

This lady from the blog 'Chronically Overdressed' looks fabulous in this vintage inspired outfit.

This is a canal water slide in Bali, Indonesia! It looks like so much fun!

I'm in love with all the skirts in this photo. Although the shoes are quite crazy.

So true. In the words of Fall Out Boy: "you are what you love, not who loves you!"

This mini blue ombre cake with sprinkles looks amazing. 

So true! I can relate to this quote a lot.

I completely agree. What's so wrong about being passionate about things, anyway? I got nothing!

These two giant horse statues are called The Kelpies and tower 30 metres above the Forth and Clyde canal on the east coast of Scotland. Another sight to add to the Bucket List!

I do! It no longer functions the way it once did...  thanks, Internet!

This looks heavenly.

And this has to be the cutest GIF I've ever seen! Penguins chasing a butterfly! 

♥ These 25 Creative Uses of Cosmetics are well worth a look if you love creative eye, lip, and nail looks.

♥ In Philadelphia, a giant game of Tetris was recently played on the side of a 29 story sky scraper!

♥ These macro photographs of snails in their natural environments are all so beautiful.

♥ Betty Pamper's unicorn nail art looks amazing. I want to give it a go!

♥ Char shared her tips on how to make bunting. I wish I were as skilled as she is in the sewing department.

♥ I discovered another great website for free Kindle books called Hundred Zeros, which links you to free and cheap Kindle books on Amazon. There are also US and International editions of the website, which are linked to here. Why pay for books when you can download them for free?!

♥ I discovered that website in this list of useful websites, which you might find useful.

♥ I love this floral initial DIY.

♥ Don't Let Fear Stop You From Travelling makes a very fair point in the form of a comic strip.

♥ As are these GIFs of a cat playing with a pedal bin. Hours of entertainment.

♥ 28 Reasons Growing Up in the UK is Actually Awesome. Sarcasm should be our national language.

♥ 28 Photos to Make You Explode With Happiness. Or perhaps just break in to a smile or two.

♥ How many movie musicals have you seen? I love musicals, so I'm surprised I've only seen 30 out of the 150 in this quiz. I'd better get started on rectifying that one!

and, finally,

♥ Some beautiful outfits and outfit posts I've enjoyed recently: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13.

Thanks for reading.


Thursday, 24 April 2014

Alive Here In Death Valley

Last week, I managed to get out of the house for an hour or so to do a spot of local exploring. I hadn't left the house in ten days and was developing a bad case of cabin fever, so my older sister picked me up and drove us to one of the nearby country villages for some fresh air.

We had intended to potter around the shops in Burford, but on our leisurely stroll from the car park we got side-tracked and ended up paying the church a visit instead.

I have lived locally to Burford, a beautiful, historic village in the Cotswolds, all of my life and even though I've passed the church hundreds of times over the years, I had never visited it before; at least not to the best of my memory. 

The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and it was a gorgeous, hot Spring day- perfect weather for acting like tourists! I doesn't look so warm in these photos, but it felt like a Summer's day, and I was boiling in a dress, short-sleeved cardi, and opaque tights!

Even from a distance, the church is impressive. It's a 15th century Methodist church built between 1160 and 1475 called St. John the Baptist, and as I soon found out, it's steep in hundreds of years of history. Far more than I realised before hand.

The church is surrounded by a well tended graveyard, and many of the headstones close to the path were so old and weathered I couldn't read the inscriptions. We stopped to read the grave stones along the main path to the church, but didn't wander around to see them all. (Although I would've liked to).

These headstones caught my eye. The shape and floral design at the top of them are really interesting; although I have no idea if they mean something or are purely decorative.

Inside, the church features high ceilings, exposed beams, and huge ornate arches that almost seem to section the church in to rooms. The architecture of the building is so beautiful, and it's so large that it seems more like a cathedral than a village church.

One of my favourite features were the huge stain-glass windows

I was amazed by how intricate the windows were. Each tiny pane had so much detail and they really were stunning. I can only imagine how much time and effort must've been put in to each one. (These windows were high above my head, so apologies for the unlevel photos).

I'm not sure what this gizmo is exactly, but it looked pretty.

On each chair were these hand-stitched cushions, each with a different design. I presume they're kneeling pads for prayer, as there weren't any on the floor. (Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong).

This is a memorial to King Henry VIII's barber-surgeon, Edmund Harman which shows some of the earliest representations of South American Indians. It's believed to be of an Indian tribe living along the Amazon that Edmund Harman may have traded with. The inscription in the centre is written in Latin. The sign says he was King Henry's barber-surgeon between 1533-47, was made Lord of the Manor of Taynton in 1549, and died in Burford in 1577 (although it might say 1572; I can't quite tell).

I've completely forgotten what this sculpture related to. It may have been the bottom part of Edmund Harman's memorial, or something completely different. I just thought these praying men looked interesting.

There are many bodies buried underneath the flagstone floor of the church, marked with marble and stone gravestones. Many of the gravestones I paused to read were written in Latin, and dated back to as early as the 1600s! I found them really fascinating because I had never seen a gravestone written in Latin before; well, not that I can remember, anyway.

I didn't have time to stop and read each grave as I would've liked to, but I skimmed over as many as I could. This one caught my attention. A man called John Pryor Gent was murdered and found hidden in the priory garden in April 1697. I hadn't heard of his story prior to reading his gravestone, and sadly it seems that nobody alive today knows much about this man, either. I wonder who he was and why he was murdered.

(Apologies for the crap photo. There were overhead lights reflecting on to the marble, and no matter which angle I tried, the lights ruined the shot).

Deeper in to the church, there is a canopied tomb where the bodies of Sir Lawrence and Lady Tanfield lie. Sir Lawrence Tanfield was an English lawyer, politician, and Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, an elected Member of Parliament for Woodstock on at least six occasions, a sergeant-at-law, a puisne judge of the King's bench, and a Knight of the Shire. From what I can gather from Wikipedia, I think this man was a very big deal! He sure looks impressive and intimidating in this picture.

I think this was the first time I'd seen an elaborate tomb from another era than the ancient Egyptians. It's quite substantial and detailed, and surrounded by a wrought iron fence that I almost impaled my arm on trying to take a photo! I hadn't noticed the spiked rails until my arm slipped and I stabbed myself on one. Oops. Luckily the arm could be saved. The positioning of the fence made it difficult to take good photos, but it's a beautiful piece. Can you imagine being laid to rest in something like this?!

Ornate lion pillars.

And an ugly looking angel plaque from 1668.

The church is so large it's impossible to get the entire building in to a photo, no matter how far away you stand as there are walls, buildings, and trees surrounding it. It's a beauty, though.

When we came back outside, we had a rest for a little while so I could recover, and we sat on a bench in the graveyard. It was so peaceful sitting there in the sunshine with little noise but the sound of the birds singing.

I had a quick peek at some of the graves and headstones to the left of the grounds as we headed out.

Next time I'll have to go for a wander around the back of the church and see what else there is to explore.

I didn't know until afterwards that in 1649, during the Civil War, 340 Levellers were imprisoned in the church by Oliver Cromwell and were forced to watch as three men (considered the ring-leaders) were executed. Apparently the bullet holes remain in the walls to this day, and graffiti one man carved on the font is still visible. The village is such a quiet and peaceful place that it's hard to imagine a time when it was anything but.

While we were there, my sister snapped a few photos of me on her phone. I haven't cropped them in too close as I looked a mess with my fringe pinned back and no eye make up on. (My fringe needed a trim and my left eye was swollen as it hadn't stopped streaming in a week). As we weren't going to be out for long and I didn't expect to have photos taken, I hadn't worried too much about my appearance, but I wish I had. I feel so frumpy when my hair and make up aren't done!

I was wearing my heart print Alice & You skater dress again. I can't stop wearing this dress! The fit of it is so perfect that I keep returning to it regularly because it makes me feel fantastic. I really hope that they bring out other prints in this design because I'd buy them all. I love it!

I'm wearing it with black opaque tights from Evans, my studded Simply Be boots, a pink cropped cardi from New Look, my Russian doll bag from Accessorize, and a pearl / cameo necklace I won in Rachel's giveaway last year.

Outfit Details

Dress-Alice & You // Cardigan-New Look // Tights-Evans // Boots-Simply Be // Bag-Accessorize // Necklace-Giveaway Win

We parked down by the river in Burford, and it was so tranquil. I'm jealous of the person whose house backs on to the river bank!

When I think about it, it's shocking how little exploring I've done of places close to home. People come from all over the world to visit The Cotswolds, and I live in it, close to so many beautiful places and rarely explore anywhere new. I love visiting new places, but usually stick to places I know at home and look further afield for new experiences. I've wanted to start exploring more of Oxfordshire and The Cotswolds for years, and hopefully over the Spring and Summer I'll be able to get out a bit more and see a little more of what my area has to offer. It really is a beautiful region, and if you like pretty country villages with a lot of history then Burford (and the church) are well worth a visit.

Do you enjoy exploring cemeteries and old churches like I do?

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