Monday, 20 February 2017

Spring Wishlist 2017!

It's that time of the year when the shops start to fill up with things other than wool knits, black tights and bobble hats. This is good news for a couple of reasons. 
For one, it means that I can hopefully put away my Icelandic hyper insulated coat and for two, Spring is springing!!

I, of course have my eye on lots of pretty things but this lot are the main bits and pieces on the revolving carousel that is my mental wish list. 

Links are in pink and don't buy everything before I get the chance to!


I'm a bit Flamingo obsessed and this tee from Oasis has the benefit of being casual (comfy grey marl is the best) but it's also pink and sparkly, so win-win all around. 

The second I saw the limited edition Crayola box from Clinique, I had to have it. Unfortunately for me, a reliable little birdy (thanks Andreea!) has told me that they've been out of stock in Ireland and the UK since the start of February (weeps). I'll be keeping an eye out for a last minute restock but I may just end up buying an individual one, although it obviously won't be the same…

I love this vintage-feel black top, also from Oasis. The bird-embroidered collar is adorable and just the right side of kitsch and will look as well paired with jeans as it would tucked into a skirt.

This spot and floral tea dress from Topshop is very pretty- I'm already picturing it with a (fake) tan and a pair of sandals on my holidays..
*goes into daydream mode*

I'm in the market for a new primer and this one from Too Faced has been on my mind for a while. A product to sort out your hungover face? Ah, yes please!

And lastly, the shoe of dreams from Asos. These are marketed as a bridal shoe but they'd look great with absolutely everything in my opinion (see how I'm already justifying the purchase?) It's a moot point anyway as they are currently sold out in every size but 3. 
Again, I have serious plans to stalk their "back in stock" section. 

Any of these on your Wishlist?
XX

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Beautiful New Books

These were all mostly Christmas gifts but I'm not including that in the title because no one wants to hear the "C" word anymore. Although I've said it already, so...sorry about that.
Anyway, feast your eyes upon these beautiful books:


There's a great mix in there of fiction, cookery books, beauty, autobiographies and overall, lots of stunning books, worthy of coffee-table displays. 
And yes, we are here to judge them all by their covers. 
Observe:


My sister gave me all of these, bar the Sali Hughes, which I had actually bought for her but it turned out one of my other sisters had bought it for her too and so I ended up keeping it for myself. A lengthy way of saying, I bought myself a Christmas present. 
The Tanya Bakes is because she had a flick through it and saw all of the delicious recipes in there and she was not wrong. There is a lemon curd and pistachio cake that is just calling out to be made and then consumed, quickly. 
I haven't had a chance to properly look at The Nature of Beauty but I want to get into using more organic, and less overproduced skincare so this is ideal. 
I loved Sali Hughes's Pretty Honest and I thought the idea for her follow up book, Iconic Beauty; products that have changed the beauty landscape in some way, was very clever. 
Lastly there, I had read an article by Sophie White in an Irish newspaper towards the end of last year about how she started cooking after she took drugs at Electric Picnic and it went very badly wrong, leading to a mental breakdown. I thought it was a fascinating story and I'm intrigued to read more!


Bowie. My fave. Best possible person to seek wisdom from too.



Again, all presents! I did fierce well for myself so I did. 
Easter Widows is a real life account of the women involved in the 1916 rising that were effectively whitewashed from history. It's right up my feminist street and as someone really interested in that period of time, I'm looking forward to reading more. 
I'm currently reading The Essex Serpent for my book club but Himself picked out this particularly fancy edition for me so it's a pleasure to look at it every day. I'll have a review up soon! 
I love Gloria Steinem and feminism aside, she's led a really interesting life that I'm keen to read more about, while Headscarves and Hymens is an in-depth look at how women are treated in the Middle East- another area of interest for me. 
Eileen was one of last years most critically acclaimed psychological thrillers, while The Descent of Man is about gender and how rigid masculine roles can destroy men's lives. 
The Glass Shore is a compilation of short stories, written by women from the North of Ireland.


The Power just sounds brilliant- every teenage girl wakes up one day with an immense physical power to destroy men, and just like that, the world completely changes. Unusual to find a dystopian novel where men, rather than women, are the victims.
Pride and Prejudice is one of my all time favourite books and I adore the Clothbound classics. The cover on this one is as gorgeous as the others in my collection. Love it.
I tend to really enjoy Marian Keyes's work so I'm excited about this one, which is her most recent release and a collection of articles and essays.
The Girls was another one of the bigger releases last year, this one about a teenage girl who finds herself in the thrall of a group of girls who are part of Charles Manson's cult. I somehow still haven't read this but it looks great.
The Underground Railroad is another top rated novel and has featured on Oprah's book club list. It is unsurprisingly, about the horrors that existed for black people pre the civil war era, and also about the building of The Underground Railroad, a method of escape for many. 
I had really wanted to read The Princess Diarist as a lifelong fan of Carrie Fisher's and since she passed away just after Christmas, it's been on top of my list. 


And that's that! Did you get any of these for Christmas?
 If not, what are you currently reading? 
To the comments!
XX

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Visit Amsterdam! Top 10 Things To Do (aside from avoiding being knocked down by a bicycle)

Last Summer we jetted off to Amsterdam for a long weekend. Himself had been before and I hadn't, so as usual, I let him get down to the planning while I searched Pinterest for "Miffy, Amsterdam" (more of that later). 


Amsterdam is a beautiful city. I'd happily go back there again at any time of year but it was in the 20's when we were there and the sun definitely makes it even more aesthetically pleasing. There's also just a really good vibe there, it's one of the few European cities that I'd actually really want to live in long term. You'll find that English is widely spoken, it's very easy to get around thanks to the tram and bus services and it's no more expensive to eat out/drink than Dublin. But back to my top 10. I always think it's easier to do it this way because otherwise I'll just harp on incoherently about how much I love the place.
In no particular order:

1. Gorge Yourself on Art!
Specifically here, I'm referring to the Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum. 

In the Van Gogh museum you'll find the world's largest collection of his masterpieces, which are arrayed chronologically so you can start where he started and work your way through. You'll find there's specific limited edition exhibitions on throughout the year too. From March to June of this year for example, they have "Prints in Paris 1900", which includes Le Chat Noir and posters from the Moulin Rouge, which sounds fab! Book your ticket in advance HERE to save you queueing! 

Miffy Van Gogh, I mean, CAN YOU EVEN?!! 

The Rijksmuseum, meanwhile, has a whole host of artists under it's roof and you could easily spend an entire day here. If you're a fan of Rembrandt and Vermeer but you also like to mix it up with contemporary art, furniture, fashion and sculpture then you, my friend are in the correct place. 

Vermeer and YSL. Just an example of the wide range of art on offer here. 

Outside the Rijksmuseum, you'll also find one of the massive IAmsterdam signs to pose in front of, if you can beat other tourists out of the way first. These are in other places about the city, but a word of warning- everywhere will be jammers!


2. The Anne Frank House
If you've read Anne Frank's diary, then you'll want to visit the secret annex where she lived with her family and a few others during WW2 in order to escape Nazi occupied Holland. Having re-read the book a few times, it felt surreal and frankly, quite emotional to stand where she stood and to see everything just as she described it. I would highly recommend a visit here but would caution you to queue either late in the evening or very early in the morning. While we were there, there was always a massive queue, snaking around the block with people waiting to get in. Obviously only so many people can be accommodated inside at the one time but there seemed to be less people in the evening time and we started queueing around 9pm. They close at 10pm and open in the morning at 9am. You can buy your tickets online HERE but I'm not sure that makes a difference as you have to queue to get in either way. 

3. Shop The Nine Streets
This is a specific area of Amsterdam, featuring, you guessed it, nine streets, or De 9 Straatjes. Here you'll find a massive array of very lovely small shops, stocking everything from jewellery, trinkets, funky socks, vintage clothes, beauty products, cheese, art, gifts and of course, there's lots of cafes, bars and restaurants too. Even if you're just window shopping, strolling through the nine streets is a really pleasant way to while away an afternoon.


My favourite of all the shops. I bought a couple of those cutesy little fruit/moon/star lights in the window and a load of very cute postcards. Sorry to that poor woman, also in the window who is now forever on my blog.

4. Take a Canal Tour.
You can get around the city any which way you want, as I mentioned already, we did use the tram a lot and we walked a huge amount so we had already seen a good bit but it's always nice to see a city from river/canal level. You'll find there's a good few companies to choose from, several of which are down the street from the Anne Frank House.


5. Kookt Festival
This is a massive food and music festival that takes place throughout the Summer in Amsterdam. It moves location so your best bet is to check the different venues and dates on their Facebook page HERE. We went here our first night and we loved it. Such a great atmosphere, delicious food, drinks and brilliant music. 


Ha. Meating Point. Get it? Cause of ALL the BBQ meat. Himself was in heaven. There he is in a hammock. That part above him there is a mini beach. We sat out and had dinner and drinks while the sun went down. Lovely. Then we ate lots of food, including some unreal churros. Nom. 

6. Take a Stroll Through the Vondelpark.
The Vondelpark is the largest park in the city. You can do a bike tour or you can just take your time and walk through, stopping to look at the sculptures throughout or go directly to the open air theatre which shows music and dance performances during the Summer. When we were there, there was a reggae show on so we got some drinks from the bar and chilled out in the sun. Lovely!


Chilled wine in 24 degree heat + David Meowie tee = happy Chloe.

7. De Hallen Market
This is a converted industrial building in what's known as the trendy part of Amsterdam. Inside you'll find a massive indoor food hall, selling everything from sushi to burgers with bars and whole stalls dedicated to cake in between. There's also some stores, stocking; vintage clothes, vinyl records, local art and sculptures and lots of very cool hipster type gifts. We didn't venture into the nine-screen art deco style cinema, purely from a time perspective but that looked cool too. 


8. Get a Beer And Sit Outside a Nice Bar
…and, people watch! Honestly, Amsterdam is just the loveliest place to sit outside and take it all in. If you can, order some Bitterballen too. These are little Dutch meat (usually chopped beef or veal) based snacks that are served with a mustard dip. Quite delicious with an ice cold beverage!


9. Get a Slice Of The Greatest Apple Pie in The Entire World.
I've tried and have loved many's the apple pie. In fact, when I told my sister that this was the best she reminded me of the apple tart from the Bunratty folk park (which is unreal) and I had to tell her that this was better. She's still sceptical but she's wrong!! My friend Colleen advised us to go to Winkel's, where we would probably have to queue for a table but that it'd be worth it. 


She was not wrong! There are raisins in it (the devil's own shrivelled snack) but they are easily picked out and then you're left with a buttery, crumbly pastry, perfectly sweetened apples, a hint of cinnamon and a whack of cream on the side. If I go back to Amsterdam for no other reason, it'll be for Winkel's apple pie alone. Come, drool with me. 


 10. Visit the Miffy Shop (optional)
There's also a Miffy museum, but it's a bit outside of the city and we didn't really have the time. I have a major love for the little Dutch rabbit, Miffy ever since I was a lttle'un. Obviously I'm still slightly obsessed but what better city to be in than the home of the miffster him/herself. 


It was a tough inner battle not to buy the nurse & doctor miffy's but the price tags put me off...
There's plenty of other Miffy merchandise to buy and that's the only attraction there really, except for the lifesize Miffy to pose with…



Tips!:

  • So, you may have noticed that the red light district isn't among my top 10 things to do. For me, it's one of those tourist things to do that you wouldn't recommend but that people still do anyway. Like Temple Bar. It's not particularly fun or pleasant but there's no harm in strolling through to see what it's all about. 

It's completely packed with people on both sides of the canal, lots of garish lights, and obviously lots of women in windows. Not high on my list.
  • Buy a 4 day travel pass, these should be available in the train station. I can't remember how much this cost but we used this constantly on the trams and the buses, and it worked out to be really good value.

  • I recommend stopping at Lot Sixty One for coffee- it is genuinely excellent coffee and people seem to flock to it.



  • Food recommendations! Mook pancakes are wonderful and very filling. Start with a savoury and finish with a dessert pancake.



That's bacon, cheese, onion and maple syrup on the left and strawberries, blueberries, chocolate and coconut on the right. 



The waffles from the Metropolitan Deli are also well loved; you can get whatever toppings you want, so we got fruit and ice cream. You can also get poffertjes; little Dutch pancakes. That's them being made on the left. They are a thing of wonder. We got them covered with milk and white chocolate (behind the waffle). 

We also had a really good (non dessert) meal in Mata Hari, a restaurant near to the red light district. Excellent cocktails too (that's a rather lethal Long Island Iced Tea).


And that's that! Get yourself to Amsterdam, you won't regret it! 


Have you been to Amsterdam?
Where's next on your travel wish list? 
Enable me!
XX






Sunday, 15 January 2017

Surviving The January Blues

I'm not normally one for the S.A.D (seasonal affective disorder) but over the weekend it hit me hard, pretty much out of nowhere. I had slept poorly the night before and wasn't feeling physically great plus we had watched the very last ever episode of The West Wing the night before and to say I was bereft was an understatement. But the weather. I was out and about and literally everything my eyes fell upon made me feel a bit down. 

A recent walk along the canal

Everything was dark and gloomy and had an overall look of misery to it. And then, I realised. January, you bastard. This is classic January. Yes, everything is Wintery and dark in December too but in December you have Christmas; lots of lights and presents and nights out and basically, things to look forward to. Not so for January. So I decided to compile a list of things that usually helps me through the gloomier months in the hopes that they may help you too and may even kickstart my own return to Pollyanna-ness. 

1) Surround Yourself With Comfort
This means; electric blankets, snuggly jumpers, lots of coffee, fluffy slippers and in my case; new pillows for a better night's sleep. We got these on sale in Kildare Village- they're medium support so you can sink into them but still feel like you're being held in a loving, hypoallergenic embrace. I'd also recommend picking up the 100% brushed cotton bed sheets from Penneys, which are comfort personified. I suggest all of these because the time you won't spend at work or with your beloved human companions should really be spent in bed, toasty as a cinnamon bun, á lá Homer Simpson


2) Watch Pleasant TV/Films
I'm struggling a bit with this one myself so hit me up with tv suggestions that aren't intolerably grim, if you know of any. I started Crazy Ex Girlfriend and am enjoying it, in spite of the cringe and we went to see La La Land last week, which was glorious. I had a smile on my face for the entire film and even if musicals aren't your thing, I'd suggest you try it out anyway, you may well be pleasantly surprised. If nothing else the colours, music and dance scenes are an absolute antidote to the cold, dark Winter. 


3) Read Good Books
Well, you'll want to be reading something when you're snuggled up in your 100% brushed cotton sheets, that is when you're not watching something on Netflix. These are my two book club reads for January. So far, I'm liking both.


4) Wear/Buy The Good Make Up
I've written about this before and how as a make up fiend, I tend to "save things for best", meaning, the particularly beautiful make up gets kept for a later use that might never happen, for fear of destroying it. 
Well, last month I ordered some of the Too Faced Peach collection, and instead of saving them to take blog photos and then maybe covet them for a bit longer, I've just gone ahead and used them. That and the Anastasia Beverly Hills contour palette and a brand new bottle of my favourite foundation, YSL Le Teint Touch Eclat. Here are my super happy snapchat photos of them on my face and my delighted mug.


I will have reviews of the Peach palette, blush and lip oil and the ABH Contour Palette soon, hopefully! 
I'd also add to this; paint your toe nails something bright and cheerful, always puts me in a good mood when I look down!

5) Book Things to Look Forward To
I'll talk holidays in a minute but what I'm thinking here is filing up your weekends and days off with things that are fun- days off to do nothing are great too though, don't get me wrong. I enjoy time spent flying through books, drinking endless cups of tea and browsing twitter in the comfort of my centrally heated home but I also quite like to plan ahead for things like afternoon tea, nights out with great people and gigs, plays etc. We have the David Bowie musical, Lazarus this month, Cirque du Soleil in February and hopefully The Wedding Singer (the musical and also one of my favourite films- I have no shame, cause it's hilarious. Plus so much 80's) in March. I'm also planning a 20k charity walk in April, which I'll need to start walking to prepare for- so exercise and fresh air will also no doubt help!


6) Holidays!
I'll be blogging about some of the great places we went to last year soon, to give yis some ideas, which we're also doing ourselves by checking out cheap flights on Ryanair to various European destinations. Greece is winning so far!


7) Treat Yo'self.
Treat yourself to good food (eat the damn chocolate), the luxurious bubble bath, body butter and face mask. I'll be using my Shiseido sheet masks this week, which I've been saving and I'm currently using a Rituals body lotion that smells so good, it makes me feel better every time I lash it on. I don't want to get you in debt either but...buy the dress/shoes/bag. 

8) Fresh Air
Lookit, I know it's manky out there but once you get out it's not actually that bad. I always feel better once I've been near the sea- the air leaves my head a bit clearer and bonus point for how scenic it is.


And that's my lot for the moment.

Bearing in mind I'm not a mental health care professional so these are really just suggestions for when you're struggling a bit with the blues, nothing more serious. 
Do you have anything to add that can brighten up January a bit more?
To the comments!
XX




Sunday, 8 January 2017

Recently Read; October & November

So yes, again, this is extremely late but sure look. No, that's actually it. I've no excuse. It's a new year and I've already started my reading list for 2017 but I read some great books towards the end of 2016 and it would be remiss of me to not review them. 
So here we are:


Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent
As I've mentioned before, I read Liz's second book, Lying in Wait (released last year) before reading Unravelling Oliver and although I highly rate Lying in Wait, this one completely blew me away. The story begins with us learning that Oliver has brutally beaten his wife, Alice, who is now in a coma. As far as everyone was concerned, Oliver was a charismatic, charming man who found great success as a children's writer, with Alice illustrating his books. 
The book tells his life story; from his perspective but also from those who he has met along the way, leading up to the present day and what has caused his violent attack. I read this over a couple of days and like Lying In Wait, we are told from the get-go who the baddie is, we just don't know why. I find that to be a really clever writing technique- there's still that element of mystery but it feels fresh and exciting. None of the characters in this are particularly likeable but the storyline moves along at a good pace and there's enough intrigue in there to put an Eastenders script writer out of business!

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
This was one of my book club reads and we all loved it. 
Set in Cork, post the Celtic Tiger crash, the murder of a local scumbag ends up affecting the lives of five of the cities other strays and misfits: Maureen; home form London years after giving her son Jimmy up as a baby, with a grudge against the Catholic Church and the Ireland of old (and kind of new too), Jimmy himself; now a big-time gangster, his lackey Tony; an alcoholic who beats his son Ryan; a 15 year old in love with his girlfriend but constantly being trapped by life and Georgie; a teenage runaway and drug addict, forced into a life of prostitution. It sounds incredibly grim from that description but it's brilliantly written- some of the sentences made me stop just to fully appreciate the wording and there's a perfect mix of humour and tragedy in there too. Lisa has a sequel coming out in April, so if you've yet to read this masterpiece, I'd get cracking now!

I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts On Being A Woman by Nora Ephron  
I've loved Nora Ephron's work for years now (she wrote the screenplay for When Harry Met Sally, just as one example) but I've somehow never read any of her published writing, until I found this book in my online Library catalogue. I had read it within a couple of days because it was just so enjoyable. Her words flow perfectly and so many times I found myself laughing heartily and then reading out a passage to itself. This is a collection of essays about her life including one called "What I Wish I'd Known", which has some of the best life advice of all time.
I'll be on the hunt for Heartburn next, and then ALL of her other books. 

Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig
This was another online library ebook find. I had wanted to read this for a while, having heard of Matt Haig in relation to his fictional novels but also that this, a non-fiction book about depression was well worth a read also. It details Matt's own real life experiences in developing depression and from there, how he dealt with it and how he still deals with it to this day. I will say that I found parts hard to read. Unsurprisingly it can be a bit bleak because he never really shies away from the reality of his illness but he also gives some excellent advice on how to cope and lists some pretty stellar reasons to stay alive- as the title would suggest! Although it was difficult at times, this is a great read for anyone who currently suffers with depression or has in the past but also, for anyone really. At some point in everyones life, there's a good chance we may all have to deal with mental illness, so really I think this is a useful read for everyone.


Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice
This, along with Streetcar down below, were picks for our New Orleans trip and seriously, they were so appropriate. Obviously, Interview with The Vampire is set in New Orleans but that aside, it's also deeply atmospheric and was perfect for where we were staying and the time of year- we were there for Halloween. We also visited Anne Rice's old house, which was a cool addition to my reading of it. In case you haven't seen the Tom Cruise/Brad Pitt 90's movie, the film follows Louis as he tells his 200-yearlong life story to an astounded journalist. Beginning with is brother's death and from there his own transformation into a vampire at the hands of outrageous creature of the night, Lestat, to their finding and making a child vampire, right up to the current day (current day being the 1970's at the time of publishing). Although I knew what was going to happen, there are of course plenty of differing elements to the book and film, including a slightly changed ending so if you have seen it, worry not, it's still an enjoyable read. Plus I now want to read the rest of the series!

A Head Full Of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
This, as you can see from the cover was a Stephen King recommendation. As in, I read an article where he said this was a brilliant horror read, not that he phoned me up and was all "Chloe, it's your old pal Steve, check out Head Full of Ghosts". But you probably knew that anyway. Moving on, this was actually a really unusual mix of reality TV, poltergeist and somebody's thesis on Horror books and movies. So basically, I loved it. The Barrett family struggle to cope when their fourteen year old daughter Marjorie begins to show signs of schizophrenia. When they realise they can no longer afford her medical care, they turn to the Church, who have a very different take on what's wrong with Marjorie and how she should be helped. Namely, they think she's possessed and that she needs an exorcism. To help the family stop from going under financially, they agree to allow a television crew into their home to film what goes on for a salacious TV show. Fifteen years later, Karen, a horror blogger re-watches the show and then blogs about it. Also at this time, a writer is interviewing Marjorie's younger sister Merry for a book, where we find out what she believes happened. This was a creepy read, at times scary but mostly it was just really gripping. I desperately wanted to know what would happen- how the family were going to get out of this and if Marjorie was really possessed. I also LOVED the end of the book that goes back over all of the pop culture references in the book; where they came from and how they were relevant. If you're a horror lover, this is the book for you!

Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie
Again, a Halloween read (unsurprisingly). This is a Miss Marple where a child is drowned in a bobbing-for-apples Halloween game after it transpires that she knew a little too much about a murder that she claimed had taken place years before. The unknown here was who was murdered, who was the killer and once that could be figured out, the murderer of the little girl would also be revealed. This wasn't a bad Christie but as it was one of her later novels, it suffered from the constant mention of how society had changed and how people were more likely to have mental illnesses etc. That's an interesting feel for the times it was written I guess, but it did feel a bit over emphasised. 
Still, not a bad themed read, if a little convoluted at times. 

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
Once again, I've seen the Marlon Brando film adaptation so I knew the story but I really loved the writing here. Although it's in the format of a play, it's still a great read and flows along at a good pace. Blanche du Bois moves to New Orleans to live with her sister Stella and her boorish husband, Stanley. It's a hot, muggy Summer in New Orleans and tensions begin to rise between the three of them until frail and damaged Blanche begins to fall apart, helped along by Stanley. Obviously plays are meant to be experienced on stage but in this case, the written version is also superb.


So that's the lot for now. I'll be back soon with December and January's reads (once I've finished them!) Until then, have you read any of these?
What are you reading right now?
To the comments!
XX