Monday Mix and Match

Happy Monday Tuesday everyone! Slightly late with this week’s favourites but what with the Easter weekend and the gloriously sunny bank holiday Monday, this is technically the first day of the week, isn’t it? Excuses aside, I hope everyone had a lovely, relaxing and chocolate filled weekend – I know I certainly stuffed myself to bursting with eggs (a fact I was majorly paying for at boot camp this evening…#shweatin)

This week, my favourites include an affordable skincare update, a healthy midweek dinner recipe and even a snazzy outfit change for my phone! I hope you enjoy!

Beauty

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water for Combination and Sensitive Skin

Micellar waters are, without doubt, thee trendiest way to clean your face at the moment. Brought into the spotlight by the infamously unattainable Bioderma version and used by every make-up artist and beauty buff worth their salt, practically all of the high-street brands hav now released their own version. This is definitely good news for those of us who don’t manage regular visits to Paris for a Bioderma fix, and even better, there are varieties to suit every budget.

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Monday Mix and Match

Hello there! I hope you are all having a wonderful Monday.. although that phrase does sound like somewhat of an oxymoron! I would like to apologise for my absence and sporadic posting as of late – I have been up to my eyes with the return to work after Christmas, as well as my “other” job as a dance teacher. Post-Christmas is always Pantomime time (Oh no it’s not!!.…Sorry…couldn’t resist) and so I had been rushing around making sure my lovely dance students were at their best! But I’m back now and kicking off with the first of this year’s Mix and Match posts, which for the week that’s in it, has a bit of “New Year’s Resolution” twist and along with my goals for 2015! Be warned, it’s a long one so grab a cuppa and a rich tea biscuit or two! I hope you enjoy and do let me know what you have been motivated to change, continue or try in the next 12 months!

Beauty

No7 Exfoliator, Sanctuary Spa Wonder Oil Serum, Soap and Glory Eye Cream Review

Or more specifically: skincare. This particular resolution is mainly motivated by the havoc that Christmas indulgence has wreaked on my face i.e. I closely resemble a pizza at present! Spots are generally not a problem for me, with my main skincare woes being redness and wrinkles. But all that chocolate and cheese has taken its toll and I’m feeling the need to give my skin a little TLC and my skincare routine somewhat of a shake-up. Of course, I’m starting from the inside out and consuming as many detoxing and nourishing foods as possible – lemon water by the bucketful and avocados at any opportunity. But I’ve also started using two new products procured over Christmas too – No7 Beautiful Skin Radiance Exfoliator and Sanctuary Spa Wonder Oil Serum. Exfoliator is one of my favourite products to have in the bathroom cabinet – there’s nothing like the fresh feeling of being scrubbed and polished, am I right? This No7 offering was a free gift in a three for two and I was pleasantly surprised by it. It has a lovely creamy texture which is gentle on the delicate skin of your face but still goes to work with the exfoliating beads to rid you of any cosmetic build up and blocked pores. I’ve been using this on my face when in the shower around three times a week – I find the heat of the shower leaves your skin soft so the exfoliator doesn’t drag or feel too harsh. This product is a winner for me on all accounts, leaving skin smooth with no blotches or tightness afterwards.

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Amsterdam Travel Guide

I won’t ramble on too much as this post is a long one! So grab a cuppa, and enjoy this little city snapshot of the places to stay, eat, drink and shop, in my Amsterdam travel guide.

Stay

Beautiful view from the Hilton Double Tree, Amsterdam

As we were traveling in a large group, accommodation that was suited to all tastes was required, and in the end we went on a recommendation of the Hilton Double Tree at Centraal Station. It was ideally located for arriving from the airport to Centraal Station, check in was quick and efficient and you even get a warm cookie on arrival – they know the way to my heart anyway. The hotel itself was well, massive! Very clean and modern too, and we were also fortunate enough to have a city view room. As you can see, it was really quite something to wake up to each morning! The hotel was also in a prime location for exploring the city, being no more than a half an hour’s walk from anywhere you could want to go, meaning we had an additional saving in not taking the tram anywhere even once. I definitely realised afterwards how huge a portion of your spending money can be spent just traveling within a city, so it was great to have the few extra euros to spend on…I’m not gonna lie, to spend on chocolate waffles! More on that later 😉

If I was returning to Amsterdam (and I fully intend to), I would also love to stay in Hotel V, (which we also visited for breakfast – more below) or the Lloyd Hotel, both of which have fantastic reviews and really cool design too.

Eat

Amsterdam - Sweet WafflesMini Red Velvet Cupcake in Amsterdam

Metropolitan Deli, Warmoesstraat 135A

So as mentioned above, if you like sweet waffles (and if you don’t then… I think we should see other people), then Amsterdam is the place for you! They are sold at every turn, and even the hardiest and strong willed among us would not resist! We stumbled upon the most gorgeous dessert shop named “Metropolitan” – this place had nothing but waffles, chocolate and sweet treats as far as the eye could see, with my personal favourites being the giant meringues, the red velvet cupcakes and of course sweet waffles with Nutella sauce and white chocolate… *drool*. I was delighted to see they even sold the Nutella sauce along with bagged treats and sweets and even chocolate soaps, chocolate shower gel and chocolate beer (we didn’t have high hopes for that last one!). I  brought home a jar of the sauce – it is so so good, I would literally put it on my dinner. Nutella pasta tonight anyone?

And then there was brunch. We happened upon two of the most gorgeous brunch places ever, I genuinely felt so lucky. I say happened upon, but really I am super organised and annoying when it comes to holidays but in the end it always pays off. There is nothing worse than wandering around in large group, aimlessly looking for a place that you’ll all like and in the end you get so hungry you pick the first place you see and it’s, well, crap. Can you tell this is a pet peeve of mine? Fail to prepare, prepare to fail in the dog eat dog world of holidays, that’s what I say.. Clearly my brain is in my belly!

Brunch at Paper Planes, AmsterdamPancakes, Brunch in Paper Planes, AmsterdamVintage Interior, Paper Planes, Amsterdam

Paper Planes, Rokin 81

First up it was Paper Planes. I’ll just lay it out there – best pancakes I’ve ever had! For realz, when I can I go back? They were the perfect mix of savoury and sweet, soft and yet crisp on the outside with mouth-watering maple syrup and vanilla bean mascarpone as an accompaniment. Just…perfection! My partner in crime had eggs on brioche toast, with lamb sausages and baked beans. I’m not one for sausages normally but the lamb was just beautiful, and not at all like the greasy, watery fare you normally get! I was all set for round 2 on our last day with the rest of the gang, but the restaurant was too busy to accommodate us – I think I shed a tear, I was that disappointed!! Clearly news of the fabulous food at Paper Planes has spread, and rightly so!

The Lobby at the Hotel V, AmsterdamThe Lobby at the Hotel VEggs Royale

The Lobby at the Hotel V, Nes 49

On day two we enjoyed a relaxing and delicious breakfast at The Lobby at the Hotel V, located just off Dam Square. I ventured out of my comfort zone on this, as I always tend to treat myself with the sweeter options when dining out for brunch. This time I opted for eggs royale, a mix of poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and smoked salmon, on brioche bread topped with spinach – an inclusion that completely justified the waffle that followed, right?! It was utterly delectable and our surroundings were equally as nice – modeled in the style of a gentleman’s club with burnished leather furnishing, bookcases stacked with vintage tomes and a beautiful wooden bar stacked with every spirit imaginable, I loved it!

We also enjoyed two beautiful dinners: first in CAU, also located on of the adjoining streets to Dam Square on Damstraat 5. We were served possibly thee nicest steak ever, with the added bonus of truffle mac & cheese and sweet potato on the side – heavenly! I happily would have eaten here the second night, as would my traveling companions. But by then, after a few days of red meat and fried food, we were in the mood for something a little lighter . Tapas was the order of the day and we were lucky to find a gem of a spot called Pata Negra, on the Utrechtstraat 124.  Again, I did my research and found this came up trumps out of all the tapas places in the city. The reviews did not let me down. Although it looks a little run down, don’t let the rustic exterior fool you – this place is absolutely buzzing with great food and a great atmosphere. It was entirely authentic tapas and with a little guidance from the lovely staff on the Spanish menu, we navigated our way to full tummies once again. I happily would have stayed for the night, with drinks and conversation flowing,  Spanish music filling the room and the staff up having a dance too – this was a thoroughly enjoyable evening out.

Hangover Information Centre

Thankfully this particular information centre was not required at any point, but I thought it might be useful for you to know about it when planning a trip 😉

Shop

All the Luck in the World - Concept Store, AmsterdamAll The Luck in the World Amsterdam

All The Luck In The World, Gerard Doustraat 86hs

I was annoying the fella enough by dragging him in to so many shops, so I didn’t want to stop and take loads of pictures too! But trust me, if you go exploring you wouldn’t need a particular guide to find quirky concept stores, like All The Luck in The World in De Pijp, which you can see above. Shops like this are everywhere, particularly if you venture to the southern part of the city to De Pjip and Utrechtstraat. On the later you will also find a really impressive array of restaurants, so if you are one to leave your dining to chance, I would go here!

Anna & Nina Kloveniersburgwal 44Anna and NinaAnnd and Nina White Pineapple

Anna + Nina, Kloveniersburgwal 44 and Gerard Doustraat 94

However one shop I would definitely recommend is the stunning Anna + Nina. With two locations in the Dam and filled to the brim with wonderfully curious curiosities and kooky homewares, you would be mad not to pay a visit! I wanted the entire contents, especially that white ceramic pineapple. Plus look at that wallpaper – no wonder I ventured in!

Gold Star Hanging Ornament, Anne + Nina, Amsterdam

Unfortunately the dream pineapple had to be left behind (damn you baggage restriction!), but I did pick up this little star ornament for my Christmas tree as a memento.

And of course, if like me you are from Ireland there are a number of stores in the central city that we are not lucky enough to have on our high street – namely Weekday, Monki, & Other Stories and H&M home. These are well worth a visit anyway, but especially since we don’t have them in Dublin!

Do

Yellow Bike Tours, AmsterdamCycling in the Vondelpark

Having been nearly been run over about fifteen times by cyclists, topped with walking square into a PARKED bike, I was very wary when a bike tour of the city was suggested as a group activity. I rationalised that it would be me doing the running over this time so maybe it would be ok, and low and behold, it was one the most enjoyable holiday experiences I’ve ever had, and an ideal way to see this beautiful city. We booked with Yellow Bike Tours, who were incredibly professional, provided us with a wonderful guide and had some pretty darn cute yellow bikes too (who’d have thunk it eh?). The tour itself was the perfect balance of cycling, enjoying the sights and the feeling of the wind rushing through your hair, and stopping to hear the history of a number of places. Highlights were Anne Frank’s house, the Rjiksmuseum, the Vondelpark, Leidseplein and the Red Light District. Amsterdam is so varied in it’s culture, and the seamless transition between the old and the new is really quite something. I’m really glad we got to see it this way – it really emphasised how much there is to see and do here, and how much the old city is embracing the new. A few hairy moments in the traffic did not dampen what was a wonderful two hours – well worth every penny and tram-related heart attack!

We ran out of time to do any of the museums unfortunately, but I will be back for that, you mark my words! Four days are easily filled with quiet wandering around this city. There is so much beauty in Amsterdam, strengthened only by the most wonderful culture and people. Fill your belly, peruse the shops and meander along the canals to your heart’s content. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to the Dutch city, and I if you are going any time soon, I hope this guide serves you well!

Vintage Car in AmsterdamCanal streetsAmsterdam Travel GuideAmsterdam Travel Guide - CanalRjiksmuseum, Amsterdam Travel GuideThe Oude Kerk in Amsterdam, Travel Guide

Until next time! xx

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Monday Mix and Match

Ok lads, I have been officially succumbed to Christmas fever and there ain’t no going back! The tree is up, Wham! are my favourite band again and the presents are wrapped in a Pinterest worthy fashion…well, the present is wrapped! Last minute panic shopping is my festive modus operandi – I am every bit that cliché husband type on Christmas Eve! That being said, I have been fully enveloped by the spirit and am so excited to go gift shopping. To get everyone in the mood I might replace my Mix and Match post for the next two weeks with some gift guides and festive DIY posts. For now anyway, here’s my weekly favourites post, featuring a fabulous Christmas candle, my go-to eyeshadow palette and a most delicious and easy cake recipe to keep you jolly this week!

Interiors

Paddy Wax Pomegranate and Spruce Scented Candle - AvocaPaddy Wax Pomegranate and Spruce CandleThis being me and my boyfriend’s first Christmas living together, we are definitely both missing our mammies’ lovely cosy, Christmas-ified homes – thankfully they have both been very generous and supplied us with a bauble or two to make our place just as homely. Of course though, if there’s an opportunity to go shopping, I’m am there! And first priority was to get my house smelling like a Christmas wonderland – and sure the boyf was only too delighted to accompany me on a scented candle hunt*… (*not entirely true). Luckily there was a yummy breakfast in it for him, when I found the perfect scent in the form of this Paddy Wax Pomegranate and Spruce scented candle during a trip to Avoca in Malahide Castle. I am so particular about smell and find Christmas scents in particular can be overly sweet, artificial, and generally very overpowering and headache-inducing. Paddy Wax candles caught my eye because of the beautiful packaging – I am nothing if not shallow! But thankfully, the scents, both regular and Christmas, are equally as divine as the coloured, cut glass that encase them. The Pomegranate and Spruce is fresh, light with the perfect amount of that familiar spicy and warm Christmas smell. It’s already made such a difference to making a house a home with the added bonus that once the candle has burnt out, you can pop a tealight on the jar to make a beautiful Christmas votive – Bob’s your uncle, Mary’s your aunt! This candle retails at €12.95 and can be purchased in in Avoca stores and online.

Beauty

Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette Review 2Urban Decay Palette - Naked Basics

Generally I’m not one for a matte shadow – way to hard to blend, particularly when in a hurry and can make the eye look dead and sunken when applied without care. However, I would always make an exception for Urban Decay, more specifically the Naked Basics Palette. Ironically, this was actually a Christmas present last year that has only found its way into my make-up routine now. Just me, or does anyone else get onto the habit of using one palette for ages and forgetting they own seventeen others? Like a lot of people, I’m a huge fan of the Naked Palettes by Urban Decay and own both palette number 1 and 2. The basics palette is a collection of pared down, neutral and matte shades in one handy little compact, handy mirror included. Like most Urban Decay shadows, they are blendable with unrivaled colour payoff and you can actually use all off them (dear make-up companies – PLEASE stop putting green shadow in your palettes). Having been on a number of trips away recently, I can honestly say this is the one palette that will cover all your bases – it’s so compact and you have so many options for day to night eye make-up. The black is a particular highlight, as I have found it very difficult to get any intensity from such a shadow before now. I would definitely recommend popping this is the stocking of someone you love… and sure, if that person happens to be yourself, I wouldn’t blame you at all!

Food

Rocky Road Cake Birthday Cake

Right, so duh, you may have gathered by now that I love Christmas! I love every single thing about it… except it’s accompanying cake. Now, I’m not one to blaspheme the cake gods but my goodness, those fruity, booze soaked puds are (surprisingly) not my thang. If they don’t tickle your tinsel either, dispense with tradition and try your hand at this easy peasy, rocky road cake. Baked for a very special someone’s 25th birthday as you can see, I could envision this going down a treat over the holidays too. It was incredibly tasty, with all the birthday boy’s favourite things in – marshmallow, honeycomb, and biscuit. This cake is foolproof and completely adaptable to whatever your sweet tooth desires too. The base recipe is:

  • 250g of unsalted butter (plus extra to grease the tin)
  • 100g of Golden Syrup
  • 400g Chocolate (70% cocoa gives a beautiful rich chocolatey taste, but maybe go a tad lower for non-dark chocolate lovers as it retains it’s intensity even with the addition of the butter and golden syrup)

Melt all of the above together then add, about 150g of digestive biscuits, a pack of marshmallows, and well anything else you fancy really. Honeycomb, Mars bar, nuts, fruit, coconut, meringue, anything goes! When mixed, I poured everything into a greased, 9” spring form tin and allowed to set overnight, although it would be fully hardened within about two hours. After that, decorate with some melted chocolate and some crushed flake, and if you’re feeling crafty you can create similar toppers to mine with some pipe cleaners and cocktail sticks…just don’t set them on fire when lighting the candles!! Not that that’s what happened to me…*cough*…

Are we officially allowed to say Merry Christmas now? Sure sod it, Merry Christmas guys, and thanks for reading! 🙂

Until next time! xx

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Monday Mix and Match

Yaaaay, it’s officially the silly season  – happy December everyone!! Here’s another bumper Mix and Match for you all with some lipstick favourites, an interior find from Amsterdam and, for a change, good, featuring one of my favourite restaurants in Dublin at the moment, San Lorenzo’s. Grab a cuppa, and that tub of roses you were no doubt banned from opening until December, and enjoy!

Beauty& Other Stories Lipstick and Lip Pencil ReviewDusky Pink Lipstick and Kylie Jenner inspired Nude Lip Liner

I mentioned in my last Amsterdam post that I had made a little beauty purchase in H&M’s sister store, “& Other Stories”, a store I had bookmarked to visit the very second I heard I’d be visiting the city! Having fallen in love with the Scandi vibes and dreamy design of the store while in London last year, I’ve been stalking the website ever since and always seem to find myself back in their virtual beauty hall. The packaging is nothing short of delightful; and having purchased two lip products, the formulations certainly add punch to the aesthetically pleasing design. I could have bought so much more but my more rational side won, deciding that yes, two hand lotions, a bath set and bar of soap would send my bulging suitcase into excess baggage territory!

So of course I decided on my most purchased, most loved and most worn type of product: lipstick! This is an unusual colour for me actually – whereas I normally veering towards bright reds, corals and fuschia, this shade is the most beautiful dusky pink shade called “Bowknot Rose“. It’s a lovely go between a bright pink and nude and perfect for creating a soft, girly look for daytime. A totally practical purchase in my book!

Second is product of the moment (thank you Kylie J!) – lip liner. Yes I have fallen for the hype, and now I all I want is a perfectly lined and defined lip of an evening out. This pencil is in the shade “Tiretaine Blush”, which unfortunately doesn’t seem to be featured on the website, but Mac Cosmetics do very similar formulations is wonderful array of nudes. This particular one has a gorgeous creamy texture, which I have been wearing all over the lip with just a touch of rose vaseline of top (a define beauty bag must have, by the way!). It’s a brown toned, 90s-esque nude so perfect for the Kylie look,…if that’s what you’re into of course! I mainly love creating a lip with a pencil because it’s so easy to apply and it lasts all night.Anyone else loving good lip pencil at the mo?

Interiors

Concrete Bud Vase, House Doctor, DenmarkPink Roses in Concrete Bud Vase

Another purchase from Amsterdam here: this modern yet rustic bud vase, a juxtaposition of industrial concrete and pretty green ceramic from a Danish brand called House Doctor.  I love the trend for concrete vases and planters at the moment, and actually have a project like this written in my long list of DIY projects, mainly gathered on my Pinterest account. However. when I saw this vase for only €15 in a little design shop whilst on holiday, I couldn’t resist dipping my toe in the trend with a ready-made piece. Vases, bottles, jars, jugs: I collect anything that will hold a flower or two really, and this one is perfect for mixin’ and matchin’ with my existing collection. Blame my time spent in retails, but the displays in my house are constantly changing and being tidied, no item stays in the same room or position for very long. Great for keeping the place looking fresh, not so great when I move my keys and can’t find them again. And so this is currently sitting pretty on my coffee table with it’s to pink roses, alongside a vintage jug full of gerberas and a mini cactus…tomorrow, who knows!!

I also love that this piece something I never would have gotten in Ireland – for me this is what shopping whilst on holidays is all about, not just perusing the same old stuff we have at home! Unfortunately though, that means Irish readers won’t be able to get their hands on this beaitu but I’ve seen plenty similar styles online, particularly on handmade haven, Etsy, as well as a homegrown Irish brand Ail+El, who create absolutely beautiful planters for succulents concrete bedecked with geometric patterns and pastel colours.

FoodFrench Toast, Bacon, Maple Syrup - San Lorenzo's, DublinBrunch of Champions, San Lorenzo, Dublin

I haven’t posted about food in quite some time so I thought I’d share a restaurant in Dublin that has my tummy rumblin’ just writing about the food, never mind the drool inducing photos! First is somewhere that, if you live in the fair city and have a social media account you will have heard of: San Lorenzo’s, more specifically their weekend “Brunch of Champions”. Let me just say first off, this deserves the hype. Since brunch became “a thing” over the last while, I’ve made it my mission to make it well, my thing,. Breakfast food, at a lazier lunchtime hour was never gonna be hard to adapt to though, let’s face it people. San Lorenzo’s have one of the most extensive and varied brunch menus I’ve seen. All too often this means the quality of the food can suffer but this is not so in San Lorenzo’s, from what I tasted anyway! I opted for, what can only be described as, a mound of French toast with maple syrup and bacon, and my beau went for the Breakfast of Champions Fry which included all you see above plus a potato rosti layer, Boston baked beans and some thick cut toast Neither of us were disappointed in the slightest, with the only downside being that we had no room left for one of the scrumptious desserts (Pecan Pie with salt caramel ice-cream – I will be back for you!). I thought it was fantastic value too at €27 with tea, coffee and a fully belly till dinner. Enough outta me already, book your table asap. You can thank me later! Now, I just wish I hadn’t wrote this when breakfast is so far away…..

Until next time! xx

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