29 November 2017

Haul! Drugstore Buys From Europe

I've posted a lot of travel posts these past few weeks and today I thought I'd show you what I bought while we were away. I did a bit of supermarket shopping as well as duty-free shopping and I did quite some damage in Sephora. Today's post will be about the supermarket/drugstore shopping and a future post will contain all my Sephora and duty-free goodies.

So I called this blog post "drugstore buys", but actually everything was bought from a variety of places. I bought the Bioderma at a pharmacy, the L'Oreal at duty-free in Frankfurt, the face masks at H&M, and the rest at an Italian supermarket. I haven't tried these products yet (with the exception of one) so feel free to tell me which products you'd like to see a review of!

Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micellar Water

I haven't used Bioderma in years, not because I don't like it (I do), but because it's quite expensive. Garnier's micellar water is much, much cheaper and is, in my opinion, just as good. But when I saw this special banded pack and calculated how much it is in Rands, I knew that it was a good deal. In South Africa we only get the 250 ml bottles (I did see a 500 ml bottle in Dischem the other day, but I could swear we didn't have this previously) and they cost roughly R200-220 depending on where you purchase them. These bottles, however, are 500 ml and work out to roughly R420. Which means that you pay R105 per 250 ml.

L'Oreal Fine Flowers Cleansing Cream

I bought this at the duty-free in Frankfurt and I was very intrigued when I saw it. It's not a balm, it's not an oil, but it's a cream almost like an aqueous cream. It's said to melt makeup and nourish and beautify the skin. It contains rose and jasmine and is suitable for dry and sensitive skin. Now I don't have dry skin and my skin isn't really sensitive, but I was really intrigued by this product and there didn't seem to be another variant for oily combination skin. It smells nice and florally (rose and jasmine) but it's not an overpowering scent. I've actually used this once and I find that it works nicely: it doesn't sting my eyes, nor does it leave my skin dry, tight, or itchy. The instructions say to apply it to your skin, massage it in, and remove it with cotton rounds. I don't like the sound of that so I removed mine with a warm face cloth. It's very gentle and after one use I'm ready to try it again.

H&M Face Masks

I went to a big H&M in Rome to go buy shoes (I had walked mine through) and I saw the big makeup section. I was completely overwhelmed with all the choices and I was ready to just leave everything when I saw that they do face masks. There are a lot of options but I settled on three: pomegranate and mango, dead sea mud, and coconut water. The pomegranate and mango is a pore-cleansing mask with raspberry and Vitamin E for tired skin, the dead sea mud is a balancing face mask with kombu and fucus seaweed (no idea) for combination skin, and the coconut water is a moisturising face mask with shea butter and cocoa butter for dry skin. I've never seen face masks packaged like this and I'm very excited to try them out.

Garnier Products for Face, Body, and Hair

I had to use Google translate to translate the label on this one, but it didn't work so well (apparently "bagnodoccia" translates to "bathrobe"...). Image searches also didn't work (maybe it's a very new product), but I know for a fact that this is a shower gel. It contains argan oil and camellia, and is suitable for both adults and children. It smells delicious and isn't a thick consistency.

I haven't seen this shampoo on our side of the world (until I saw it in a pamphlet last week, ha!) and strangely enough I couldn't find a matching conditioner. It's for "delicate hair" and contains rice cream and oat milk, both of which are very soothing and gentle. It smells delicious and not at all like a bowl of rice!

When I saw this bottle I immediately knew what it was without translating any of it: the latest Garnier micellar water variant. We already have three: the pink , the green, and the yellow. And now there's the green that is for combination and sensitive skin. It is said to remove makeup as well as purify and mattify the skin.

That is it for my drugstore, pharmacy, supermarket haul! Since these are all drugstore brands (with the exception of H&M) I am positive that we will also get these products in SA sometime soon. Let me know which products you would like to see a review of. 

Until next time!


27 November 2017

Travel Post: Italy - Day 3 (Rome, Florence)

This is the third installment in my Italian travel series and today's post is about our last day in Rome as well as our first day in Florence.

Day 3 - Monday

On our last morning in Rome, Monika told us about a pretty cool historical sight practically just opposite the B&B: the Holy Stairs (Scala Santa) which consist of 28 white marble steps. According to Wikipedia: "According to Roman Catholic tradition, the Holy Stairs are the steps leading up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilates in Jerusalem on which Jesus Christ stepped on his way to trial during his Passion. The Stairs reputedly were brought to Rome by St. Helena in the fourth century. For centuries, the Scala Santa has attracted Christian pilgrims who wish to honor the Passion of Jesus Christ." The only way to go up the Stairs is on your knees while praying. We took the staircase on the other side of the stairs where you can walk up normally.

After that we went to San Giovanni in Laterano (or, St. John Lateran). This is the most exquisite church I have ever seen. It is absolutely breathtaking and I would highly recommend it to anyone. It is the oldest and the most high-ranking of all the churches in Rome. It is also referred to as THE church of Rome. It is somehow linked to the Vatican although I can't remember how. I just know that Monika said that San Giovanni is the church preferred by the Pope, although he has to operate from the Vatican.

After being awestruck by this church we went in search of shoes for me and some good gelato. I bought sneakers at H&M and then we set off for gelato. I had a recommendation from a friend who lives in Britain and we found the tiny shop at the end of a quiet street. The gelato was delicious and we decided to eat it with a view of the Trevi Fountain.

We also sat on the Spanish Steps for a few minutes before moving on. It's a bit of a letdown when you see it for the first time (it's just steps?), but once again, there is history behind it. The steps were built in the 1700s to link the Spanish embassy to a church. There is a entire story behind this, but I won't go into details here.

After this all we had to go get our bags at the B&B and basically run to the train station. We booked a regional train ride from Rome to Florence and we barely made the train with four minutes to spare. I hurt my foot on the second or third day, and, being nearly five months pregnant, I wasn't the fastest on my feet. I was just so glad we made it!

We arrived in Florence in the afternoon (it was a two hour ride, more or less) and it was cold! It was slightly nippy in Rome, but Florence was just plain cold. We tried but we couldn't figure out the bus system so we decided to just walk to our hotel (Hotel Royal). We were both a bit agitated at the lack of public transport and the narrow sidewalks that we had to roll two suitcases on. After about 20 minutes and with the help of my offline Google Maps we saw the signage in the distance. The hotel is stunning and I couldn't believe the incredible deal we got through! Our room was beautiful and big and the shower was a welcome relief after a long day of sightseeing.

After checking in we went out for dinner. I had bacon carbonara and the husband had lasagne. It was very good and a nice welcome after the cold of the day.

And that was our third day in Italy! Please check back in for the next installment in the series.

Until next time!


24 November 2017

Travel Post: Italy - Day 2 (Rome)

In the previous installment of my little travel series I walked you through our first day in Rome. Today's post will be about our second day in Rome.

Day 2 - Sunday

We meant to be up early and be out and about before the Italians finished their first cappuccinos of the day, but we spent time enjoying our delicious B&B breakfast and talking to our host. The breakfast consisted of croissants (or cornetto as it's called in Italian) with little jam tubs and Nutella, cold meats, cheese, melba toast, normal toast, fruit juice, fruit yogurt, and sweet strawberry pastries. We could also choose between espresso and cappuccino (cappuccino is considered a breakfast drink in Italy). We took little packaged biscuit things for later which turned out to be tiramisu in cake form, delicious!

After that we set off to the Colosseum. When we got there the line for tickets was all the way around the Colosseum - we literally took the last possible spot in the line. The one thing that frustrates me about Rome is the number of hawkers and "tour guides" trying to pressurise you into either buying something or signing up for their "tours". When we got to the Colosseum every one of them told us we were going to be standing in that queue for three hours and if we pay them 20 euros (the normal entry ticket for the Colosseum is something like 12 euros), we can skip the line and go on their tour. I told the husband I'm setting my stop watch, let's see how fast the line moves in half an hour: if we haven't moved by then we go do something else. I'm so glad we did that as the line moved quite fast, and there's so much to look at while standing in the queue. Plus, no one else around us spoke Afrikaans so we could gossip about whatever we liked! Ultimately it took us an hour to get from the last spot in line to going in and requesting our tickets, so I'd definitely say don't despair if the line looks long! In Italy they're also very sensitive when it comes to the safety of pregnant women - all the museums and big monuments have X-ray scanners and/or metal detectors and I didn't have to go through any of them. I just took off my parka and put it on the conveyer belt and waved to get the security guard's attention. When I got his attention I just pointed to my bump and he would mimic my gesture and tell me to come round the side. I didn't have a moment's trouble and all the guards were always very nice and polite.

The Colosseum itself is impressive and I still want to go read up on it: the Roman history is absolutely fascinating and there's so much of the architecture that remains until this day. I could go on and on about the Colosseum, but I'll rather just show you pretty pictures.

Being Afrikaans and South African my husband was probably the only person in Rome wearing a short-sleeved shirt and shorts, and there was a thunderstorm brewing. When we were almost done in the Colosseum we could hear thunder coming closer. We decided to go back to the B&B so that he could put on some warm clothes as well as have lunch, and then we would tackle the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hills that were just across from the Colosseum and were included in the ticket. We had lunch at a little cafe meters from our B&B and when we got to the B&B it wasn't even 10 minutes before the thunder started cracking and it started pouring with rain. We used the 90 minute opportunity to catch up on some much-needed sleep. At about 16:30 the weather cleared up and we set out again. Now, since it's almost the end of autumn in Europe the sun sets at around 17:00, but it gets dark a bit earlier when the weather is overcast. That doesn't stop the Italians from going about their business and I was thankful as there was still a lot I would like to see.

We decided to tackle two churches, the first one close to the Pantheon (Santa Maria Sopra Minerva) and the second one in a neighbourhood called Trastevere (Santa Maria in Trastevere). The Santa Maria Sopra Minerva church is beautiful but we weren't allowed to take photos so we just snuck around admiring the beautiful architecture and decor. We then took the tram to Trastevere (at last we figured out that a metro ticket bought you one ride on the metro or 90 minutes' worth of tram and bus rides). I didn't really know anything about Trastevere until I read Cindy's travel series and I'm so glad I did! It's quite different to the rest of Rome and I find that the vibe is more relaxed and less touristy. The Santa Maria church is absolutely beautiful. The ceiling had the most unbelievable artwork and I still think back to that beautiful old church.

After the busy day we had we wanted somewhere nice to eat, just to relax. There are a lot of restaurants situated along this one street and we went back and forth, trying to decide where to eat. In Italy, and in some other European countries I've been in, they put the menus on display outside the restaurant so that you can browse the menu in peace, without feeling obligated to go eat somewhere just because you read their menu. We settled on Ombre Rosso which had a nice homely vibe. The place was packed (a good sign), the menu looked good and unpretentious, and the tables outside had little lanterns and everything just looked cosy and intimate. We had a lovely waitress and the food was delicious. We ate a bit too much, but oh well, when in Rome, eh? We started with the bruschetta and then moved on to a form of pizza called a pinsa (it's leavened dough that's baked like a pizza base, but the toppings are raw and put on afterwards). They were also one of the only places I saw where you could order tap water - and it was free! I was parched and happily drank the free tap water. The water in Rome is totally safe to drink, not once did I get a tummy ache and I'm normally quite sensitive to a big change in diet (even if it's just drinking water). When the bill arrived she also gave us each a shot of Limoncello. I had a liiiiiiitle taste, just to say that I had Limoncello in Italy, and I was a bit sad that I couldn't finish it. Oh well, next time!

After that we took the tram back to our B&B and started packing up, only leaving out the things that we would need the next morning.

This was the end of day two, stay tuned for more installments in the travel series!

Until next time!


22 November 2017

Review: Maybelline Fit Me! Foundation

For a long time I've read about the Maybelline Fit Me! foundation on overseas blogs and I've also read South Africans moaning about the fact that we can't get it here (why, Maybelline?).  The foundation I'm referring to comes in a square bottle, so I'm not exactly sure if it's a different formulation or just different packaging. Anyway, today I'm reviewing the Fit Me! Matte + Poreless foundation for normal to oily skin.

First off, I like the packaging. The tube is small and compact but is still quite large in comparison to something like, say, the LA Girl Pro HD BB Cream. The see-through part of the tube is glossy and you can see the actual foundation. The top part of the tube is matte black, as well as the screw on lid. The light grey writing also offsets the matte black nicely.

This foundation is touted as a matte foundation that erases your pores and is suited for normal to oily skin. Right this way, please. I have combo skin which means that certain parts of my skin are normal and certain parts are oily. Finding a foundation that won't create shine all while not looking like a mask is not that easy to find.

I'm not sure how many shades there are but the shades do go quite dark, so it looks like they actually thought things through when they developed this, yes! I have the shade "120 Classic Ivory". I'm normally not an ivory kinda girl, I'm usually more of a classic/nude/sandy beige, but this is apparently the right shade for me.

The foundation itself is quite creamy and when you go to blend it it's a thin consistency, which is strange for a matte foundation. Usually matte foundations are thick and clay-like, but not this one. It blends easily with a beauty sponge and I don't get that mask-like look that I sometimes get with other matte foundations. I can't really say that it erases my pores, but it does sit nicely on the skin. I've worn it over both Clarins Beauty Flash Balm and Benefit's Pore-fessional and there was no pilling. Those two primers are on opposite ends of the texture scale so I think it's safe to say that this foundation will play nicely with most primers.

The foundation wears well and I don't find any patchiness or streakiness. I did notice that around my mouth I could kind of see the foundation throughout the day, but that might just be due to my skin not looking it's very best or me not blending in the foundation enough.

All in all I really like this foundation and will continue to use it. It retails for roughly R94 at Clicks and Dischem which isn't a bad price for a foundation, in my opinion.

Have you tried this yet? What did you think? Please leave your comments below.

Until next time!


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!