Monday, 29 December 2014

24 Days of Joy - The Body Shop Advent Calendar

24 Days of Joy is such an apt name for the 2014 Body Shop advent calendar. I absolutely loved it and yes, it literally did give me 24 days of joy! Much as I was tempted to rip into it and open every window to reveal all my surprise treats on the day I received my advent calendar, I showed unexpected great restraint opening only one window a day all the way through to Christmas Eve.

As can be seen from the above photos The Body Shop advent calendar was a pretty hefty calendar, requiring metal hinges to hold the two halves together! It also had a convenient carry handle which can't be seen in my photos. Each cardboard window had a cute inspirational saying behind it plus, of course, a great Body Shop product.

Now, to list the magnificent contents of this joyous advent calendar. Let me tell you the contents were amazing! There was a fabulous selection of bath, body, skin care, nail care and other beauty products. They included best selling, iconic Body Shop products as well as some brand new range products. 

Day 1:   Almond Hand and Nail Cream 30ml
Day 2:   Almond Nail File
Day 3:   Frosted Cranberry Heart Soap - I wish I could give you a sniff of this soap, it smells              absolutely divine!
Day 4:   Frosted Cranberry Shower Gel 60ml
Day 5:   Frosted Cranberry Shimmer Lotion 60ml

Day 6:   Black Eye Definer
Day 7:   Strawberry Heart Soap
Day 8:   Strawberry Lip Butter 10ml
Day 9:   Strawberry Hand Cream 30ml
Day 10:  Colour Crush Nail Colour Shade: Relish The Moment 6.8ml

Day 11:   Glazed Apple Heart Soap - another absolutely divine smelling soap!
Day 12:   Glazed Apple Body Lotion 60ml
Day 13:   Vitamin E Moisture Cream 15ml
Day 14:   Vitamin E Sink-In Moisture Mask 6ml (1 mask)
Day 15:   Vitamin E Night Cream 15ml

Day 16:   Moringa Shower Gel 60ml
Day 17:   Moringa Body Milk 60ml
Day 18:   Shower Puff/Scrubber/Loofah (I'm not sure what the official name for this is)
Day 19:   Honeymania Lip Balm 10ml
Day 20:   Wild Argan Oil Body Lotion 60ml

Day 21:   Eyeshadow Brush   
Day 22:   Shea Shower Cream 60ml
Day 23:   Shea Body Butter 50ml
Day 24:   White Musk Eau de Toilette 10ml

This Body Shop advent calendar cost me $129 Australian and was well worth the cost. It was the perfect way to sample a wide variety of The Body Shop's fabulous and divinely scented products. It was the perfect beauty lover's way to pamper myself whilst counting down to Christmas. I'm already missing opening a cardboard window, reading the saying behind it and receiving a new surprise treat each day. At least, thanks to the generous size of the products in the calendar, I will be using them for a while yet. I definitely want to purchase another one of these calendars next year!

If you could have any type of products in an advent calendar you wanted, what type/brand products would you choose?


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Monday, 22 December 2014

Favourite 3 Christmas Trees in Sydney

I love Christmas! I love everything about it. It is my favourite time of year. I especially love the huge decorated Christmas trees in Sydney city. 

Last week my daughter and I took a day off work and school respectively to visit the city and get into the Christmas spirit, viewing all the beautiful Christmas trees and Christmas decorations.

Below are our top three favourite Christmas trees in the city of Sydney.

Number 1 is the Queen Victoria Building's Swarovski Christmas Tree. It spans three levels of the QVB, stands 24 metres tall, has 60,000 lights, is decorated with an amazing 144,000 Swarovski crystal ornaments and looks absolutely amazing!

This tree took 40 hours to install and decorate and was put together by a team of 72 people, including technicians, engineers, lighting consultants and crystal makers from Australia and Austria.

Number 2 is the unique Lego Christmas Tree in Pitt St Mall. This tree was built by Australia's very own Lego Certified Professional, Ryan McNaught. What a job title! I think every young child would love to have his job! This Lego tree is 10m tall and built from almost 500,000 Lego bricks. 

Each evening it comes to life with a magical light show set to Christmas carols. Near the top of the tree is a cute Lego koala, a favourite with overseas tourists. 

Our third favourite tree is the festive red Christmas Tree in Sydney's historic Strand Arcade. This tree was inspired by Alex Perry. It stands 11 metres tall, has over 2000 baubles, 1000 fairy lights and 200 butterflies.


Finally, a bonus, our absolute favourite Christmas tree is our own decorated family Christmas tree. It's not quite as tall nor elaborate as the Christmas trees above, but it was put up with love by us as a family and is decorated with lots of baubles with special meaning to us.


Where is your favourite Christmas tree this year?


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Monday, 15 December 2014

The Parcel - Summer Edit - Beauty Subscription Box

After being really impressed with the first Marie Claire subscription box, The Parcel - Spring Edit, I subscribed to an ongoing quarterly subscription of these boxes. I did wonder however whether the subsequent boxes would live up to the fabulous inaugural one.

Well I needn't have been concerned. This week I received my second box, The Parcel - Summer Edit, and I'm happy to say that in my opinion this one is even better than the first! 

Once again it contains a mix of full size and deluxe sample sized products, with not a sachet in sight. Yay!

There is a good mix of cult buys and hot new products. Listed below in alphabetical order are all the products I received, the blurb The Parcel provided about the products is quoted in smaller italic print and then I've added my comments.

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant
Deluxe Sample Size 15ml (Full Size 50ml: $25)

"This iconic do-it-all balm helps to soothe, soften and protect dry or mildly irritated skin. For a dewy glow, try mixing it with your foundation, or dab across the tops of your cheeks for an instant radiance boost throughout the day."

A great sounding product from a well known brand which sounds like a good match for my dry skin. I like a dewy look so I'm keen to try this product mixed in with my foundation.

Essie Nail Polish and Essie Top Coat
Both Full Size 13.5ml ($16.95 and $17.95)

"From pretty pinks to classic red, you will have received one of Essie's top-selling nail polishes. Apply two coats of the feminine shade and then finish with a slick of top coat (available in All In One, No Chips Ahead or Good To Go) for a high shine, longer lasting mani."

I received the subtle pale pink Sugar Daddy Essie nail polish shade. I love it and will wear it often. It is a shade I would definitely have chosen for myself and it is perfect for everyday summer use. I also received the All in One top coat, which once again I will put to good use.

I should also add here that the nail polish this time came bubble wrapped. I know that some subscribers had problems with their previous box with their nail polish shattering and ruining the contents of their box. It's good that Marie Claire has taken steps to prevent this problem from recurring.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye 
Deluxe Sample Size 5ml (Full Size 15ml: $95)

"Zone in on fine lines, wrinkles, puffiness, dark circles, dryness and uneven skin tone around the eyes with this powerful gel serum. Suitable for all skin types, Australia's number one eye treatment works to visibly repair, hydrate, brighten and protect this delicate area - and all while you rest."

This product is definitely the highlight of the box for me. I have been wanting to try it for a while now as I believe it would be perfect for my 40+ year old skin around my eyes but due to its high cost I've been reluctant to buy it. I will be treating this 5ml of product like gold! I'm definitely going to be poorer soon if this product is even half as good as it claims to be. Thanks for including it Marie Claire.

Jergens Ultra Healing Body Moisturiser
100ml Full size ($5.99)

"For more than a century, Jergens beauty products have been a staple in the bathroom cabinets of American women and now this body-loving range is finally available on our shores. As a The Parcel exclusive, you're one of the first to try its coveted body moisturiser."

I love trying new brands and I've read quite a few American bloggers' enthusiastic reviews about Jergens products, especially regarding their BB cream, so I'm really excited to try this product. I hope I like this brand as it is so reasonably priced.

John Frieda Luxurious Volume Touchably Full Shampoo and Conditioner 
Both Deluxe Sample Sizes 44ml (Full Size 250ml: $15.99 each)
John Frieda Fine To Full Blow-Out Spray
Deluxe Sample Size 29ml (Full Size 118ml: $16.99)

"Party season calls for beautiful, bouncy hair, so get set for your next big night out with this volumising range. Wash with the shampoo and conditioner, then mist the spray to your roots. Then comb through before blow-drying for va-va-voom volume with a naturally soft feel."

If I didn't know better I'd say this subscription box has been put together specifically for my needs! I have fine hair and frequently blow dry it. These products sound perfect for my hair! I can't wait to sample them. 

Philosophy Purity Made Simple 3-in-1 Cleanser for Face and Eyes 
Deluxe Sample Size 30ml (Full Size 90ml: $15)

"Remove make-up, dissolve dirt, tone and lightly hydrate your complexion in one simple step. At the end of the day, massage the award-winning pH-balanced cleanser into a lightly damp face (even around the eye area), rinse off, and pat dry."

I love multi-tasking, simple products and this Philosophy cleanser which also tones and hydrates fits perfectly into that category. I can't wait to try it after my current cleanser runs out. It's also a perfect size to take away on holidays rather than lugging full sized products in my bag.

Revlon Age Defying CC Cream
Full Size 30ml ($26.95)

"Short on time and after a barely-there make-up base? Then this multi-tasking colour correcting cream might just be what you're after. It works to address the first signs of ageing (think: hyper-pigmentation, fine lines, dehydration and uneven tone) while offering buildable coverage with a broad spectrum SPF30."

Yay! This CC cream will once again be perfect for my 40+ year old skin and also perfect for summer thanks to the SPF30 it contains. The medium shade is also a good match for me in summer. I'm so glad The Parcel Summer Edit included this product.

In conclusion I absolutely love this box. It is full of products that would appear to have been put together specifically for my needs. It's great to receive a box which addresses the concerns of more mature, ageing skin.There is nothing in this box that I won't use. 

I calculate the value of this box to be over $120. Brilliant value for a $25 outlay. I highly recommend Marie Claire's The Parcel subscription box to anyone else over the age of 30. And for those under 30 years old the Girlfriend The Parcel subscription box would probably be perfect for your needs.

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Monday, 8 December 2014

Christmas Gift Ideas for Women 35 years+ (Part 2)

All women aged 35 years+ deserve gifts of luxury and pampering for Christmas! 

As stated in Part 1 of this Christmas Gift Guide series for Women 35 years+ my gifts of choice for this age group are consumables. Gifts of luxury and pampering that won't clutter already full homes, but which can be enjoyed over the holiday season and New Year. Indulgences that women may not have bought for themselves whilst they've been busy organising and buying Christmas gifts for everyone else! And best of all gifts that encourage women to relax and take some precious time out. Yes please!!!

Part 1 of my Christmas Gift Guide covered foaming bath gifts, subscription gifts, and makeup and perfume gift sets.

This blog post will cover candles, nails and pampering experience gifts.

Candles are a great relaxation inducing consumable gift. They create a fabulous relaxing and romantic atmosphere, smell divine and encourage the woman to take some time out to relax. My candle gift guide suggestions are as follows.

1. L'Occitane Arlesienne Scented Candle
Rose, sweet violet and saffron scented, this fabulous candle offers up to 30 hours of relaxed ambiance. The elegant red container looks Christmassy too! $45

2. Ecoya Fresh Pine Needles Candle
To me nothing smells more like Christmas than pine needles. If you can't have a fresh pine Christmas tree then this candle is a must! This beautiful soy wax candle in the Madison Jar offers up to 80 hours of fresh and beautiful pine needle, forest, citrus and rosewood scent. $39.95 Madison Jar, $19.95 Mini Metro

3. Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin Candle
This modern classic candle makes a truly luxurious gift and evokes relaxing dreams of sailing around the Caribbean. I wish! Maybe sailing the Caribbean is out of my budget but I'd be content burning this candle whilst luxuriating in the bath instead. $85

4. Glasshouse Fragrances Miniature Christmas Candle Trio
Sometimes it's just too hard picking a single candle and that's where this trio pack comes in handy. Beautifully packaged, it contains three magical Christmas scented candles including the Night Before Christmas Dancing Sugar Plums candle, White Christmas Cedar Leaf & Fruity Clove candle and Winter Wonderland Citrus & Mossy Wood candle. Love them! I've actually given in to temptation and bought these to burn over the holiday season. $44.95

Nail lacquer and manicure gifts are once again a great pampering and consumable gift that encourages the woman gift recipient to take some time out from her busy schedule for herself and relax.
1. Gwen Stefani for OPI Don't Speak Pure 18K Gold Top Coat
Wow! This luxurious top coat features gold leaf flakes dusted with iridescent glitter. It adds gold foil texture to nails when worn over any OPI lacquer shade. Trust me, it will render the lucky gift recipient speechless! This is the perfect Christmas gift just in time for the lucky woman to wear during her New Years Eve celebrations and holiday season. $29.95

2. OPI Trend on Ten Gift Set
This OPI set includes 10 of this year's hottest nail lacquer shades including a silver glitter, white, pinks and more dramatic reds and darker shades. If you're either not sure what colour your gift recipient prefers or you know that she loves changing her nail colour regularly this is the perfect gift for her. Personally I love all 10 shades! Compared to a full sized bottle of nail lacquer this mini 10 pack is a fabulous bargain at $39.95.

3. Manicures/pedicures
This is really a combination of a nail and a pampering experience gift. What woman would not like to have some time out and be pampered, receiving either a single manicure or pedicure or better still, if your budget allows, a series of 3, 5 or even 12 manicures! 1 for every month of the new year! Now I really am dreaming, I know! Contact a local nail salon close to your friend and book a gift voucher through them. Prices vary.

Pampering Experiences

1. Massage and Facial at Home - 90 minutes
90 minutes of indulgent pampering massage and facial experience from a qualified and professional therapist in your gift recipient's own home. What better way to help a woman to relax and unwind during the hectic Christmas and holiday season. Your gift recipient will love you forever!!! Note: this gift experience example from Red Balloon is available for NSW, Vic, Qld & WA only. $159

2. Relaxing Massage - 60 minutes
Some women might prefer a massage in the relaxing ambiance of a salon rather than their own home. If so, this is the gift for them. 60 minutes of relaxing massage to give them a feeling of well-being, new energy and harmony. Available from a number of salons in NSW, Vic, Qld & WA through Red Balloon. $89

3. Makeup Lesson Includes $99 of Product
Another great pampering experience! A 1 hour private makeup lesson with a Napolean Perdis makeup artist plus $99 worth of Napolean Perdis makeup of your choice. This link is for the Sydney CBD but identical experiences are available from Red Balloon for other states also. $99

4. Yoga Classes - 5 Class Pass
This is another great gift of relaxation and unwinding. This pass will allow the gift recipient to attend 5 different yoga classes in selected venues (over 500 to choose from) across Australia. $60

I hope the above Gift Guide for 35 year+ women (Part 2) has given you a few more fabulous gift ideas & made your last minute Christmas shopping easier and quicker! 

If you love the above gift suggestions but think no one will take up your hints of leaving this post open on your computer, then my final suggestion is to indulge and treat yourself! Go on! You deserve it!


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Monday, 1 December 2014

The Best Long Lasting Lipsticks - Rimmel Provocalips

Confession time: Sometimes I tend to get a bit lazy! As much as I love to apply my makeup in the morning, I then also love to forget about it and not have to keep checking it and reapplying it throughout the day. Are you the same?

If so, then I have found the perfect lipstick for you (and me) - Rimmel Provocalips! 

Rimmel Provocalips

Rimmel Provocalips is advertised as being long lasting (16 hours!!!), and also kiss proof and transfer proof. 

I was lucky to be gifted 8 shades of the new Rimmel Provocalips to trial and swatch for you.

Rimmel Provocalips

Provocalips comes in a double ended tube. One end contains 4ml of the kiss proof lip colour and the other end contains 3ml of the lock & shine top layer. Both ends contain a doe foot applicator. 

Applying Provocalips is an easy two step process:
Step 1: Apply the lip colour, keeping your lips apart for 60 seconds until the lip colour sets.
Step 2: Apply the gloss coat.

I applied the "Make Your Move" Provocalips at 6.30am before work. After applying just the lip colour my lips felt a bit tacky but after also applying the gloss coat my lips felt smooth, hydrated and comfortable. This is different to other long lasting lipsticks I have tried in the past which I have found to be very drying.

Kissing my husband goodbye, there was no transfer of lip colour onto him, despite several good smooches, just to make extra sure! So kiss proof - YES!

At 10am I had morning tea. For once I would have been able to dump my unwashed cup in the sink without any incriminating evidence left on the side of the cup as there was absolutely no lip colour transferred onto the edge of my cup whatsoever! Regardless, I washed my cup anyway plus that of two other females in the office whose lipstick remains on the edge of their cups made them easy to identify - I'll have to tell them about Provocalips - lol! So transfer proof - YES!

After morning tea my lip colour still looked perfect and my lips still felt smooth, hydrated and comfortable.

After lunch at 11.30am (5 hours after applying) my lip colour was still perfectly intact but my lips felt a bit dry so I applied another coat of the gloss coat and the problem was solved.

I removed my lipstick at 6.30pm along with the rest of my makeup. The colour was still intact. I had reapplied the top coat twice throughout the day. So long lasting - YES! 

The lipstick would have probably lasted for the full advertised 16 hours but it outlasted me! I like removing my make up when I get home to give my skin a break.

Below are swatches of my 8 shades of Provocalips, ranging from nudes to pinks to vibrant reds. I love the provocative names of the lipsticks. There's a colour to suit everyone for every occasion. (Please excuse the poor lighting and hurried application of the lipstick. I did these swatches after work one night, before going out to dinner). 

Luckily despite its long lasting staying power I had no problems removing the lipsticks with my makeup cleansing wipes.

In conclusion I totally agree with the advertising. Rimmel Provocalips are long lasting, kiss proof and transfer proof! I will definitely be using these lipsticks on high rotation! 

There are now even more Rimmel Provocalips colours to choose from. Click HERE to see all the available colours and to purchase Rimmel Provocalips from Priceline.



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The above photographed products were kindly gifted to me for editorial consideration. 
All opinions are my own. Full disclosure policy here.