20 November 2017

Travel Post: Italy - Day 1 (Rome)

The husband and I are back from an incredible eight-day trip to Italy. Since then we've had a 20 week prenatal scan, a clogged kitchen drain, a broken (electrical) front gate, sore throats, colds, my mom visiting, and the husband's birthday (all in the same week, roughly six days). To say we're back with a bang is an understatement! I actually prefer to be this busy as it takes my mind off of the fact that the holiday is over and it's back to work and back to reality...

We flew with Lufthansa (they were the cheapest airline for our specific route and our time preferences (we prefer to fly overnight)) so we flew from Johannesburg to Frankfurt, had a quick stopover there, and then flew about two hours to Rome. We slept two nights in Rome, took the train to Florence, slept two nights in Florence, took the train to Venice, slept two nights in Venice, took the train back to Rome, slept one night in Rome, and then flew back to SA via Frankfurt. Since it's a jam-packed eight days I thought I'd split the blog posts into each of the days that we were there. Today's post will be about our first day in Rome.

I took hundreds of photos with my SLR camera and with my phone (I tried to photograph everything twice - one photo with the SLR and one photo with the phone), but I'll only use my phone photos on the blog as I'm not really that keen to sift through hundreds of photos of the same things. The sad thing is that, apart from the lenses, my phone actually takes prettier pictures than my SLR!

Day 1 - Saturday

Early Saturday morning on Frankfurt airport I perused the duty-free shops. I was like a little kid in a candy shop, but I managed to not buy anything as I wanted to compare prices with places like Sephora (and the drugstore for some items).  Below you can see the beautiful Clarins holiday packaging, the drool-worthy Dr. Jart+ stand, and the Lipstick Queen stand.

After our second flight we arrived in Rome around 9:00 am and had to figure out how to use the public transport. Luckily I downloaded the Google Maps for Rome, Florence, and Venice beforehand so I could use them offline (let me know if you would like to know how!). I also made notes beforehand of the stations closest to our B&B so that we didn't have to faff too much while standing in the airport. We took an express train from the airport to Rome and arrived about half an hour later in the city. From there we took the Metro to the closest station to our B&B. We found our B&B and was greeted by our lovely hostess Monika. The Italians really are a bunch of beautiful people and Monika looks like she might have stepped out of a women's magazine to welcome us to Rome. She really is a lovely host and I can highly recommend her B&B called "Obelus" (I found her on The B&B is about 1.4 km walk from the Colosseum and is 300 m to the closest metro (Manzoni). It's an apartment in a very nondescript building - there are three rooms (each with their own bathroom), a small kitchen, and a small dining area.

After checking in we were given a map (with pictures!) so that we could plan our routes and familiarise ourselves with Rome. We planned on going to the Colosseum the next day as the entry is free on the first Sunday of every month (this is a thing in Europe). So we packed our camera bags and set off on foot to explore. Seeing the Colosseum for the first time is such an incredible experience: here you are walking along streets admiring the architecture when boom, suddenly the Colosseum just appears in front of you. It's literally in the middle of the suburb, but that's how most of the statues and monuments in Rome are - they built the city around the monuments.  You really don't have to walk far before you see something unique, super old, and full of history.

Our first lunch consisted of toasted sandwiches and water. Since I'm pregnant I was a bit scared of what I was eating, but later on I relaxed and decided to just go with the flow. They also have food standards in Italy, and if it looks fresh and it looks good, then I'm eating it. I didn't have any alcohol, but apart from that I wasn't too fussed with what I could and couldn't eat. Trying to ask someone who doesn't speak the same language as you if the cheese you are eating is made from pasteurised milk, or in what conditions the cold meats were kept was just a conversation I was not willing to have. I tried to make good decisions, but it was more important for me to enjoy myself and not stress about things that might not happen (such as getting food poisoning or worse). I also drank coffee, one day with reckless abandon (three cups, oops), but, I enjoyed it and I tried to just make better choices after that.

We went to the Pantheon which is a famous Roman landmark. It is a former Roman temple which is now a church. They say that this building was completed around 126 AD which absolutely blows my mind.

By late afternoon we had to make our way up north to Villa Borghese as I had booked us tickets in advance to go visit the Galleria Borghese. Now the husband and I are not artsy in the least, but I can appreciate history, architecture, and the amount of time and effort put into something. I also like to believe that I can appreciate beauty, whether or not it's in a building or a painting or a sculpture. We had to be there at 16:30 to collect our tickets so that we can go in by 17:00 (that was our allocated time slot), and then we had to be out by 19:00 again. We followed Monika's instructions on how to get there (even though it went against my instructions obtained via Google Maps) and we ended up only getting there at 16:55. I was nearly in tears because my legs and feet were so sore from all the walking (South Africans aren't a walking nation) and I was tired (we slept on the plane and we were up since about 4:30 am) and I was scared that they were going to refuse us entry because we were so late. But, when we got there there was a short line at the ticket counter of people who were also a bit late and in the end no one even said anything, they just made us check in our bags and coats, and off we went. I have to say, visiting the Galleria Borghese was a highlight of our trip. I can't recall the entire history now, but one of the members of the Borghese family (a Cardinal) was a big art lover and he was an early adopter of the works of Bernini and Carvaggio, ensuring their popularity in later years. As far as I understand the gallery used to be the home of the Borgheses but was later made into a gallery so that everyone could enjoy the art. Each room is decorated (elaborately!) in a different style and showcases the paintings and the statues beautifully. The statues were my favourite and the amount of detail is absolutely mind blowing. The ceilings are also artworks on their own and I spent a lot of time with my camera basically on my face, trying to capture a beautifully decorated ceiling (such as the bottom right photo in the collage below).

After Galleria Borghese we walked past the famous Trevi Fountain, and I must say, it's very pretty during the evening when the lights are on and the water is illuminated. We had to elbow our way in there but we got a place to sit and it was nice to just sit and take it all in.

After that we went out for our first dinner, obviously pasta! After that we returned to our B&B to basically go pass out.

And that brings me to the end of Day 1. Initially I wanted to group the days together into a blog post, but as you can see, it'll take you forever to read (and forever to load all the photos). Please check back soon for the next instalment!

Until next time!


13 November 2017

Review: Garnier Skin Active Hydra Bomb Tissue Masks

Whenever new face masks launch there is quite a buzz surrounding it, especially when it's affordable and from the drugstore. Recently Garnier launched three sheet masks (tissue masks) and people have been going crazy for it.

There are three variants in this "Moisture Bomb" range: Pomegranate Super-hydrating Revitalising mask for dehydrated skin (blue), Super-hydrating Rebalancing Mask for normal to combination skin (green), and Super-hydrating Soothing Mask for dry and sensitive skin (pink). The blue mask contains pomegranate, the green one green tea extract, and the pink one chamomile.

The face masks each come with a gauze backing that you remove when applying it. The face masks are quite large and will fit any size face. My only gripe is that the holes for the eyes and the mouth are too small. There are little tears in the sheet mask that allow for stretching, but I find that these are not enough for me. My face is quite big and my features large, so I have to take a pair of scissors and make extra cuts at the outer corners of the eyes and the mouth. I've found that works and that cutting the parts next to the nose hole on each side also works. You're still left with a single sheet mask, but now the nose flap is only connected to the forehead part, if that makes sense.

The masks are soft and drenched in moisture. There's nothing worse than just a damp face mask - it needs to be almost soaking wet. That being said, there's no moisture dripping off the mask, everything stays put.

The instructions say to leave the masks on for 15 minutes, but I usually leave it on for 30-45 minutes. At about 45 minutes I can feel the mask getting slightly drier and that to me is the sign that it's time to remove it. You can, however, leave it on for even longer, but I wouldn't ever sleep with a sheet mask on. Can you imagine waking up in the middle of the night with a sheet mask that moved and is busy suffocating you??

I don't feel a big difference between the three face mask variants, but I do really like all three. All three leave my skin feeling incredibly juicy and plumped up. My skin feels soft and hydrated and anything I put on top of it (like a facial oil or moisturiser) glides right on.

At between R49.95 and R54.95 each they aren't the cheapest sheet masks (both the Skin Republic and Sorbet masks are cheaper), but I still think they're great value for money. I bought mine from Foschini when they had a 3-for-2 offer on all Garnier face products, and I see my local Clicks and Dishem now also stock them. These stores also regularly have 3-for-2 promotions on Garnier products, so then it'll work out roughly R33.30 each which is an absolute bargain.

Have you ever tried these masks? What do you think? Let me know in the comment section.

Until next time!


09 November 2017

Travel Post: What to Pack for a Holiday in Italy (Clothes)

In the previous blog post I showed you my toiletry, makeup, and on-board skincare bags. Today we're talking clothes and what I'm wearing on an overnight flight to Frankfurt and Rome.

I've tried to follow A Pair And A Spare's 5-4-3-2-1 rule (you can read about it here). The 5-4-3-2-1 is a method to keep you from overpacking: 5 tops (tops, shirts, jackets, knits, everything that goes on "top"), 4 bottoms (skirts, shorts, pants, jeans), 3 dresses, 3 pairs of shoes, 2 bags, 1 hat, 1 watch, 1 pair of sunglasses, and unlimited underwear and accessories. I was very good in keeping to most of this, but I just felt like packing more tops were necessary. November is autumn in Italy and I have no idea what the weather will be like - will it be a Pretoria 20 degrees or a Cape Town 20 degrees? I also didn't want to pack too heavily so I decided on 9 tops (1 tank top, 3 T-shirts, 2 long-sleeved tops, 2 very thin long-sleeved knitwear-like tops (almost like waterfall cardigans), and 1 thick jersey), 3 bottoms (1 pair of black leggings, 1 pair of flower print leggings, 1 pair of boyfriend jeans), 2 dresses (cream and black maxi dress, denim shirt dress), 2 pairs of shoes (1 pair of sandals, 1 pair of canvas sneakers), 2 bags (1 large tote, 1 small cross-body bag), 1 hat (plain sunhat), 1 pair of sunglasses, 1 watch (my Fitbit), and a pashmina.

All the short-sleeved tops as well as the flower print leggings and the denim shirt dress are maternity wear and the rest are "normal" clothes. I've just now realised that all my clothes with the exception of the thick jersey (Pick N Pay Clothing) and belt (Spree) are from Mr Price, H&M, and Woolworths! The tank top, two waterfall cardigans, maxi dress, denim shirt dress, and pajamas are from Mr Price. The three T-shirts (black, white, white with black stripes), both pairs of leggings, the pashmina, and the sneakers are from H&M. The rest - the two long-sleeved shirts, boyfriend jeans, sandals, and cross body bag are all from Woolworths.

Not pictured are three bras, six pairs of underwear, six pairs of secret socks, a sun hat, and a pair of sunglasses. The plan is to do laundry halfway through our trip, and I'm also wearing an outfit on the plane out of this selection.

What I'm wearing on an overnight flight

I normally travel in jeans, but an overnight flight asks for something different. Would you really like to sleep in jeans? I think not. I'll be wearing the denim shirt dress with the black leggings, socks, sneakers, and the long waterfall cardigan. I'll also make sure to wear a comfortable cotton bra (I bought two from PnP that are more like crop tops). I also need to wear compression socks (sexy!) during the flights so I'll wear those underneath my leggings.

And there you have it, a fashion-type post on this blog! I hope you enjoyed it. Please stay tuned for more travel content in coming days.

Until next time!


06 November 2017

Travel Post: What to Pack for a Holiday in Italy (Toiletries)

When this post goes live the husband and I will be in Rome, Italy. In today's post I will be taking you through my toiletry and makeup bags. The toiletries fit into my Vichy travel bag and my makeup fits into a small Clinique makeup bag, win! I'm only packing minis and where I don't have minis I decanted the products into smaller travel containers. I also bought two new travel bottles which I am very excited to use, but more on that later.


I managed to pack all my skincare into a handluggage sized clear plastic bag. I prefer to do it this way so I have all my skincare together in one place, and if something leaks, it doesn't leak into my entire toiletry bag. I normally take my Dermalogica travel kit with me, but some of the tubes are a bit on the empty side and I didn't feel like spending R800 on five minis... Instead I packed a travel size Clinique Pep Start 2-in-1 exfoliating cleanser (you can read about it here), mini Dermalogica eye cream with SPF, Dermalogica hydrating mist decanted into a Clinique bottle (do all Dermalogica spray bottles have horrible misters??), Dermalogica Active Moist moisturiser, mini Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair serum (for nighttime), sample size Avène Hydrance Optimal serum (for day), mini REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal mask, Garnier Micellar water travel size, a facial sponge, cotton earbuds (I used an old Catrice nail art packaging), and cotton rounds (I got the container at Dischem).

Body Care

I decanted shower gel (Nivea oil show cream) into a QVS travel bottle from Woolworths. I used to have two of these (one for shampoo and one for conditioner), but the other one's cap cracked and broke. For shampoo and conditioner I have two silicone travel bottles from Clicks. They're squishy and leak proof and I'm very excited to use them. I'm thinking on doing a separate post on it after properly testing them. I decanted my Tresemme shampoo and conditioner into these containers. The larger bottle is obviously for my conditioner!

I also have a wide tooth comb, my Venus travel size razor, Sorbet body butter, travel size Batiste dry shampoo, The Body Shop Sun Defence sunscreen, Nivea sunscreen for body, teeny tiny Bio-Oil, and samples of the Palmer's stretch mark cream and tummy butter. Not pictured are aftersun lotion decanted into a small bottle (good 'ol Freeze from Dischem), deodorant (Nivea for black and white clothes), a wash cloth, and a shower lily. The husband's toiletry bag is quite empty so I'm going to try and sneak the Nivea into his bag so mine is a bit lighter...


As for makeup, I'm pretty much packing the things that were in my previous monthly favourites post. Travel sized Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, L.A. Girl Pro HD BB cream in "Fair", Bourjois Radiance Reveal concealer in "02 Beige", Catrice Prime and Fine pressed powder (this is a new purchase but I have used it in the past), Real Techniques Miracle Complexion sponge, Wet N Wild PhotoFocus eyeshadow primer (I need to use this even if I'm not wearing eyeshadow), Maybelline Color Tattoo in "On and on bronze", travel size EcoTools blending brush, essence Kabuki brush, L.A. Girl Slim Shade brow pencil in "Brunette", Maybelline Brow Precise Fiber Filler brow mascara in "Deep brown", and a sample Clinique High Impact mascara. Not pictured is my essence Matte setting spray which I forgot to photograph. You'll see that there are no lip products. I only plan on taking one or two lipsticks and I'll only use them when we go out at night, so I'm still deciding what to take.

On-board skincare

Now this is a step that many people see as unecessary, but for me it is absolutely necessary. If I sweat a lot, or if the day just becomes too long, and I have mascara on, then my eyes start to sting and I just get miserable. Also, you'd take your makeup off before going to sleep at your house, so what's different when you're sleeping in the air? I packed another hand luggage sized plastic bag (this one had lots of Dove travel sizes in - I wanted a new one but couldn't find it at my Clicks). In it I packed Nivea 3-in-1 cleansing facial wipes, a travel size Avène thermal spray, travel size Dove deodorant (why don't they sell minis here??), earplugs, Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream decanted into one of those small Lush sample pots, and a sample Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief moisturiser, and a travel size Clinique Pep-Start eye cream.

When we're tucked into our seats on the plane I'll remove my makeup with a facial wipe, apply some eye cream, spritz my face, and apply some moisturiser. Lip balm is an important last step. Upon waking up the next morning I'll pretty much repeat the process, but maybe also splash my face with some water in the bathroom before applying my eye cream and things and then also brushing my teeth (they usually give us little travel pouches with travel toothbrushes and toothpaste on overnight flights).

I am also taking medication (anti-clotting injections, prenatal vitamins, Panado's, nasal spray, Corenza Para-C, and Kentraxil) on the plane with me. As for entertainment I am taking magazines and my iPod. I'm also taking my Canon DSLR in a Lowepro bag.

And that's it for my travel skincare, makeup, and in-flight bags! I hope I'm not packing too much but I also hope I'm not forgetting anything important!

Until next time!


02 November 2017

Travel Post: Off to Italy!

The husband and I have been uhmm-ing and aaah-ing about where to go for our fifth wedding anniversary for months. We were set on going to Zanzibar because it is (1) affordable, (2) close, and (3) reminds us of our honeymoon in Mauritius (not the same place, but still an island getaway). Then we found out that I was pregnant, so Zanzibar was out of the question (it's classified as a malaria zone). Then we started thinking about going to Europe... The last time I was in Europe was in 2014 and I absolutely loved it. (The husband was there briefly in 2016 for work, but that doesn't really count.) We initially wanted to go to Greece, but in the end Italy won the battle. This will be for our fifth wedding anniversary, as well as a "baby moon" as it will be the last proper holiday we'll be going on as just a couple.

We're going for little over a week and we'll be spending three nights in Rome, two nights in Florence, and two nights in Venice. I am deliriously excited as I've always wanted to go to Italy. The husband has also never been there, so it'll be a good adventure for us both. I'm a bit sad that I won't get to taste proper Italian wine, but I'll make sure that we pack a bottle or three into our suitcases for when I can have wine again. I will unfortunately not be able to drink all the coffee I want, but I intend on eating all the pizza, pasta, and gelato. I already have a list of the best places in Rome to order certain foods and I'm very excited to work my way through that list! I also look forward to all the sights and sounds and I'm very excited to see all the museums and cathedrals and to soak up the history.

I'm planning a travel series on our trip which will include a "What to pack" in terms of clothes, toiletries, and on-board goodies. I'll also do a series of posts on where we were, what we saw, and what we ate, so check in regularly so you don't miss anything. I will try to Instagram the trip as we go (wifi permitting), so please also check that account.



*Photo of Florence with thanks from Pixabay.

30 October 2017

Monthly Favourites: October

I don't know if it's my mushy pregnancy brain, but I couldn't really think of any favourites to put in this month's favourites post! I've pretty much been using the same things I've used for the past few months, which should probably tell you that they're well-loved. Since I've been loving the same products for a while now, I thought I'd do this post a bit differently than usual. Instead of only giving you the three new favourite additions to my routine, I thought I'd give you a rundown of makeup products I currently can't live without.

As for primer, it's no surprise that the Clarins Beauty Flash Balm made the cut (I recently spoke about it here). It leaves my skin hydrated and refreshed and ready for the next step. The next step being my beloved L.A. Girl Pro BB Cream in "Fair", of course! After that I use the Bourjois Radiance Reveal Concealer in "02 Beige" (more on it here), all applied with my Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge (I recently spoke about it here).

I hate doing my eyebrows, so if I find something that works on them, I stick with it until something even better comes along. I go in with the L.A. Girl Shady Slim Brow Pencil in "Brunette" and then I comb through my brow hairs with the Maybelline Brow Precise Fiber Filler in "Deep Brown" (I spoke about it here). Another important step is setting my makeup and I'm currently loving the essence Instant Matt makeup setting spray (you can read more about it here).

As for the three new items: I've really been enjoying using Bio-Oil on all the parts of my body that are starting to stretch. It's a tad greasy (it's an oil, after all), but it really hydrates my skin. Apparently having itchy skin on your stomach is another fun pregnancy symptom and I haven't had it very often. I'd like to think it's due to my Bio-Oil applications. For the rest of my body I'm using the Palmer's Firming Butter which smells delicious and comes in a handy pump bottle. I've also been enjoying the Lee Stafford Coco Loco Blow & Go Lotion (I spoke about it here) for days when I curl my hair and I want it to last.

There you have it, essentials for an everyday makeup look and my makeup favourites rolled into one. 

Until next month!


26 October 2017

First Impressions: Maybelline The Burgundy Bar Palette

I bought this palette on a whim when I saw it at my local Dischem. This is (as far as I know) the third Maybelline eyeshadow palette that is launched, the first one being The Rock Nudes and the second one The Blushed Nudes. I was never interested in the first one as the shade selection didn't interest me, but the second one was absolutely beautiful. The downside is that I never saw a tester palette at any of the shops I went to, so I didn't think it wise to buy it on a whim without testing it first (and with a R250 price tag). That being said, when I saw The Burgundy Bar, it was love at first sight. All the shades are warm and look absolutely delicious. I haven't worn it enough to do a full review, but I'll be sharing my first impressions.

Firstly, the shade selection is absolutely stunning. It ranges from a champagne, almost pale rose gold to a medium-dark brown. For R250 you get 12 decent-sized eyeshadows housed in a very thin and compact palette. The palette also snaps shut, which means that it won't open unexpectedly in your makeup bag. Of the 12 shades only two are matte, the rest are shimmery or metallic. The shades are all very buttery and creamy, which is quite unusual for a drugstore eyeshadow palette. Drugstore palettes usually have at least one or two chunky, chalky shadows.

The first row (top picture) has, from left to right, a pale rosy gold champagne shade, a dark gold, a warm brown with golden shimmer, a rich gold, a sparkly champagne gold, and a light brown, almost camel matte. The second row (bottom picture) has, from left to right, a sparkly champagne gold (lighter than the previous one), a rich burgundy, a coppery brown,  a sparkly gold, a rich and sparkly plum, and a medium-brown matte.

At first glance it doesn't look like there's any "order" to the shadows: the mattes aren't grouped, the metallics aren't grouped, and the shadows aren't grouped by shade either. However, when you turn the palette over they show you the shade groupings so that you can achieve 13 eye looks with these 12 eyeshadows. 13! There are duos: each row's shadows are grouped two-by-two (giving you a total of six looks). There are trios: each row's shadows are grouped three-by-three (giving you a total of four looks). And there are quads where the first two shadows of the first row and the first two shadows of the second row form the quad, giving you three eye looks. Of course you don't have to stick with these duos, trios, and quads, but it's nice to have a reference, especially if you're new to eyeshadow application or you don't know what goes together.

I've only swatched this palette so I can't give my thoughts just yet, but, what I will say is that I am impressed with the price point. It is R250, but you get 12 decent-sized eyeshadows. I am also impressed with the selection of shades. Granted, there could have been a few less gold shades, but all in all it's a very pretty palette and I hope the application and longevity will be just as good. I will do an update on this post when I've worn it a couple of times or mention it in a future post.

Have you used this palette or any of the others? Which was your favourite? Let my know in the comment section!

Until next time!