29 May 2016

Hourglass Ambient Light | Beauty

It's been a while since we had a beauty post isn't it? In fact I very nearly did a mini Sephora haul but I didn't get the pictures on a nice background so I might filter through the other bit's into other posts. I know, I know I'm a bad beauty blogger because I threw the packaging away before photographing it for my blog so one picture is kinda gonna have to do! Soz!!

So today I'm going to give a little review of this Hourglass product.  Ok, every beauty blogger knows that this brand and these specific products kinda has a cult following, at one stage everyone was writing about Hourglass. Personally I think this brand has the most beautiful products and packaging I have ever seen, so I totally get the hype, however when I looked at the price tag I just couldn't justify it! Having a browse around Sephora, I found myself staring all heart eyed at the powders and highlights but again I decided to walk away.
Whilst I was purchasing something else, I found all of these minis and to my delight they had a teeny tiny, Hourglass Ambient Light highlighting powder in Dim Light! Well, I am a sucker for anything miniature, so you know I picked it up quicker than you can blink! OK,  so the price was still expensive for the size at $32 but it's a really good way to at least try the product out before committing to the full sized.

So let's talk about the actual product, it's definitely a peachy kinda neutral shade which isn't too beige for my pale skin, I think the website says it has like a blurring effect on the skin. I was actually very impressed with how finely milled this product is, it has highlighting elements but not so over the top that you look like a glitter ball in a 70's disco!  I decided to use it all over my face because it is that beautiful! I wouldn't use it as a highlight as I don't think it would stand out that much! The first thing I noticed when I applied it was that it really does add a little more dimension to my face, because of the highlighting particles it means that the light catches more on the natural contours of my face and not the ones I just try and create with other products.

You definitely don't need a lot of this product, I use my Ecotools powder brush give it a swish in the pan apply, and then another quick swish and apply. It just gives your entire face a bit of life! I can't really say whether it has a blurring effect as my skin is quite acne scarred so maybe on normal skin the effect is more visible but I definitely love this power and will be buying the full sized when this runs out!

Have you tried any Hourglass products?
24 May 2016

5 Healthy Tips | Lifestyle

So today I just wanted to discuss some really quick and easy things I have found to looking after my body and my overall health.

I travel a lot, like two different countries in the same month kind of a lot. In all honesty I find it quite hard to maintain a healthy regime for my body. This being said, I feel like if you get the basics down that's the most important thing. Let's start with probably the most important thing:-

Water - sounds like a silly one but whenever I go away I always seem to forget to drink. Now I make sure that when I get to the hotel I have a litre bottle of water with me. When I go to restaurants, even if I am drinking alcohol I make sure I have some ice water there as well. Your kidneys take a real beating if you are dehydrated so I definitely recommend having a bottle of water with you pretty much always

Supplements - I tend not to take too many supplements mainly because I'm a bit forgetful, however you guys will know in the past I have tried out collagen sachets that you add to water but recently I was gifted some Hellenia supplement powder* which is actually for your joints. I actually have quite loose hip joints, I can pop my leg out of it's socket but I have found that recently one of my hips hurts a little when kept in a certain position which scares the hell out of me in all honesty, so anything I can do to help my joints I'm willing to give it a go. The thing I like about this powder is that it's preservative free, GMO free and purine free.

Food - I'm gonna sound a bit like a broken record but I do genuinely believe that the cleaner you eat the more your body will that you! I mean have you looked at some of the ingredients in our food? Some of the preservatives are just too much. In yoghurt coated raisins there is actually shellac on them, to make them shiny, the shellac is a secretion from the butt of an insect found in Asia, I mean really? I'm not saying I don't eat junk food but I definitely try and make sure that the ratio of clean food to junk food is higher.

Walking - I know what you're thinking, Toni, you're stating the obvious but you'd be surprised just what walking can do. When I moved to Florence I didn't join a gym and the only way I could try and maintain some level of fitness was by walking up massive hills, it gets your heart rate up, clears your mind and works the ol' glutes so it really is a solid all rounder in terms of health.

Skin care - I'm gonna go into this one in a little more detail in a separate post in terms of products I use but I am definitely a believer in keeping things simple. I used to have very bad acne and I used possibly every spot treatment known to man which did absolutely nothing, in fact some of them were so abrasive that it probably made my skin a whole lot worse. I had to go on medication to get rid of it and since then I have been so paranoid about what I put on my face, it's only recently that I decided to start to use products again. Now I am using very simplistic things on my face I'm really starting to notice a difference.

Those are my tips for how I look after my body, what are yours?

*product gifted
22 May 2016

5 Truths about Italy | Lifestyle

A little light hearted post to day, I thought I would just tell you 5 things I have noticed about living in Italy,

Pizza and Pasta
I mean, I hate to stereotype here but I have never consumed so much pizza and so much pasta! They really do love it out here, the style is different to the pizza back home and the quality of the ingredients really are second to none but it's true the Italians really like their food and put a lot of effort and passion into what they prepare, you can really tell. 

I would probably use the word passionate, but the Italians are very tactile and expressive! It doesn't matter where you are, if an Italian person has a point to make everyone needs to hear about it! Additionally to this they actually use hand signals and movements a lot, it's pretty interesting because ever signal means something, needless to say I have learnt the hand signal for vagina, commonly used when someone is being a twat. 

Everything can either be done later or tomorrow! When it comes to going out, us Brits like to go out for a little drink and dinner about 7 but in italy you are actually laughed at if you go out for dinner that early it really isn't unusual to leave your apartment at midnight to meet for drinks with your pals at midnight! The Italians are never in a rush! 

Italian men
Ok, so I haven't actually had much first hand experience with this one, but I have had a few guys be pretty forward with me in bars, I think this kinda falls into my second point, the Italian people can be blunt and to the point! Though I did just wanna point out to all the people who said "you're blonde, the men will love you in italy" all lies, I've yet to have a single man fall to his knees and beg for my hand in marriage, however this may be more linked to my troll like features more than anything

The Coffee
When I live back in the UK I wasn't really into drinking coffee, however everything changes when I came out here, it's just so smooth and delicious I always opt for a Cafe Lungo, which basically means long coffee. The sizes are different, you walk into a bar and ask for a cafe, you're getting an espresso sized coffee if you want a very watery coffee like in England you have to ask for an Americano. I must admit, the coffee out here has spoiled my taste buds, because every single coffee I have had outside of Italy has been vile. 

So there are 5 fun truths about Italy. Have you ever visited, can you relate to this? 
15 May 2016

Trip to Porto, Day 3 | Travel

The last day... how heartbreaking ay!

No trip to Porto would be complete without a trip to at least one of the port cellars. On the side of the river with the cable car is basically where you will find all of the port houses and caves, really popular ports like Taylor's, Cockburns  (pronounced Co'burns because let's face it, nobody wants cock burn) and Offley but there are some lesser known houses (well to me anyway) such as Calem, Sandeman and Barros. So many options but which one do you choose? In all honesty, I think they would all be great but we went for Calem's tour, bearing in mind it was our last day we didn't want to venture too far so Calem is based on the river front, nice and easy to get to! We decided to go nice and early at 10:30 to make sure we could fit other things into our last day, the tour started at 10:45 and was only 6€ each which again I think was such a good price, the whole time I never once thought oh, that's a bit pricey! Anyway, I digress, the tour was hosted by a wonderful guy who really explained everything in great detail, there are actually like 4 different types of port, White, Rosé, Ruby and Tawny. Ruby is probably the most commonly known in the UK at least and looks exactly the same as red wine bur tastes sweeter, where as Tawny which you guys know throughout the trip I've had quite a dabble in, is lighter in colour but tastes more like a whiskey, then the White I'd say isn't very far off from dessert wine but far smoother and Rosé is part of the Ruby family but the grape isn't left for as long which creates the lighter colour. We went through the different ways in which the ports are made and after the tour got to try a White and a Tawny, bloody delicious I tell ya!

After the tour we decided to have lunch by the river one last time, there was a nice little restaurant that it a little higher up than the river so gives a bit of a better view, I decided to have a nice big glass of sangria which was really nice and refreshing whilst we decided what last things we could squeeze into the day. We did decide on visiting one of the most famous cafes in Porto which is called Majestic Café, it was so delicate in design and kind made me think of the titanic when I saw it, it was busy because it's a real tourist hotspot but we actually managed to get a table very easily in there when I first arrived I thought we would struggle or that there would be a queue but actually we had no problem what so ever. Having looked at the menu we opted for tea and scones...very British I know but I kinda missed some home comforts. They had run out of scones so we did have to wait for new ones to be baked but I mean who doesn't love freshly baked warmed scones? I would say it was a little fancy but you did have people from all walks of life having a drink or food so I felt very relaxed there. After this little break, we decided it was time to make our way to the airport...

In all honesty, Porto took me by surprise in many ways, I never expected it to be so beautiful, the people were amazing and so friendly, we walked everywhere but it's so well connected you could get the metro or bus, I would go back there in a heart beat.  It's just a shame with these types of holidays because as soon as you land it's like the hour glass has just been turned over and it's the countdown before it's over. This being said, we definitely made the most out of it and I'd say if you like exploring you need to go to Porto.

There we have it, did you enjoy my little travel posts? I want to know one city you unexpectedly fell in love with!
12 May 2016

Trip to Porto, Day 2 | Travel

Ready for day 2? I know I bloody am!!

As we knew that our time in Porto was limited we wanted to make sure we didn't waste time sleeping for hours, so on Sunday we wanted to get up and get going straight away. We were really fortunate in the sense that our hotel was in a pretty good location with lots of things to do around it. As you may or may not know, I love walking and I love walking up lots of stairs to see an amazing view, so wherever I am, if there is an option so be really high up and see a city from another angle I'm literally all over it. So you know I just had to go and walk up the tower of Igreja e Torre dos Clérigos! I must admit I didn't feel like this tower was too exhausting to walk up but it definitely gave us a beautiful view though, I really loved it.

After the tower, we were actually really keen to see whether we could do a little boat tour so walked back to the river! Unfortunately there were no boats on the river at all that weren't moored up and there was a notice saying that some of the tours couldn't operate, I think this was down to the tides or current, the river was moving at quite a pace so instead we settled for a little drink by the Douro! It was so nice just to sit and relax for a moment in the sun and watch people go by, not gonna lie I love people watching. The weather was beautiful on Sunday, with barely a cloud in the sky, I wasn't actually expecting it to be as hot as it was I caught a bit of colour, though the chap I was with probably caught it just a fraction worse than me, by fraction I mean lobster red. The map was out in true tourist style, not that we cared and we were planning our next little excursion. Porto isn't actually that far from the beach, in theory you could probably walk it, but when you have the option of getting a tram there you best believe I went with that option and headed to the beach. When we turned up we actually just missed our tram so got some food at a nearby restaurant and waited for the next one.

Is there anything quite as good as walking along the seafront with the sun shining? The only thing that could have made it better was an ice cream cone, but I mean that's just a tiny thing! The beach isn't your typical sandy beach, I would say some parts have sand and others are a bit pebbley but it was beautiful nonetheless and we got to see the little lighthouse too. We even attempted a bit of crabbing amongst the rocks but had no luck so instead carried on walking until we came across a bar/restaurant actually on the beach it was just perfect!

In the evening we just had to have dinner by that beautiful river Douro and see the skyline at night, honestly it was so pretty the way the buildings were lit up casting the most stunning reflection on the river, I truly loved it! The restaurants were really full and closed a little early however we managed to get into a place called Chez Lapin, though the waiter advised it would be a little wait for mains but we didn't mind too much! For starters we went with bread and a barbecue sausage tapas dish! When I read barbecue sausage I just thought they would turn up with a little dish of sausage that had like barbecue flavouring or cooked in a certain way, no no, they turn up with a sausage on a skewer and a dish of something flammable and light it at your table leaving you to turn the skewer, so random but such a nice touch! The waiter was so charming as well and really gave good advice when it came to the food choices, I went for the beef in a red wine sauce! The sauce was amazing, the meat was also really well cooked with just a hint of pink in the middle which made me happy! Half way through dinner all of a sudden there was fireworks on the river, which I'm gonna totally pretend were just for me, after the fireworks we asked the waiter for some port but he refused to serve us port until after the main because he suggested it should never be served with a main course but with dessert or after the meal instead. I actually really like that the waiter was so informed and clearly passionate about what he was serving. After the meal he came over with a 20 year old bottle of Tawny port and poured a very generous glass for each of us and told us it was for free! The waiter was totally right and it was perfect to have after the meal.

On the way home we noticed that just around the corner from the hotel there was a massive concert playing in support of a Portuguese protest, I will be honest I don't know really what the protest was about but the red carnation was symbolic of the whole event. So we just stood in blissful ignorance and enjoyed the music for a moment, a pretty great way to end the day.

The final Porto post will be live on Sunday, make sure you come check it out!
10 May 2016

Trip to Porto, Day 1 | Travel

Recently I went on a little holiday when I came back to England, but decided that we would go to Portugal and I just loved it so much I wanted to share with you guys my trip! So I am splitting all 3 days into 3 different posts over one week! I know, it's been a long time since you have seen 3 posts in one week from me, but I didn't want to drag this trip out over 3 whole weeks.

OK,  so let's get started basically we caught the earliest flight we could which was at like 6:30 in the morning on a Saturday! I think when you only have a limited time in a different country you want to make sure you make the most of your time there. Even more so when you are looking forward to it as much as me, like every hour counts. When we landed we decided to get the metro to the centre, which was not only cheaper (4:30€ for two of us) but is kinda fun as opposed to getting a cab, it only took like 20 mins!!

One of the first things I noticed was how pretty the buildings are, when I used to think of Portugal I kind of envisioned more simplistic buildings like in italy or even Spain but in Porto they had beautiful intricate designs, some had painted blue and white tiles on which was so striking, I wasn't expecting it. Another thing to note is how hilly Porto is, I mean it's on another level...literally! Some of the hills are so steep but I actually love walking so it doesn't bother me.

We found ourselves walking over the famous Ponte Luis Bridge which gave an utterly beautiful view of the river Douro. Once we got to the other side we realised we would have to walk down the steep hills to get down to the river or take a cable car down...well you know I just had to take the cable car at like 5€ each it's definitely the best way to get down, not only this but you got a free little taster of port when you get down at a nearby port house. My first actual experience of tasting port...not gonna lie, it's pretty lush! I will go into more detail about the different ports on a later post. Keeping with the port theme though we were having a bit of a wander and stumbled across this really small port place that was family run called Augusto's! It was very welcoming and the guy gave us a bit of insight into the company and explained how they can't sell the port in supermarkets because it is just such a small place they cannot mass produce the port! They give you a little taster and if you buy the bottle they deduct the price of the taster from it. Needless to say, of course we walked out with a 10 year old Tawny port.

After having our hearts warmed by the port we decided to go and get some food at this little tapas style place down a side street called Tappas Caffè, where we tried a traditional portugese or at least Porto dish called Francesinha we kinda ordered it and had no idea what it was when it turned up! The best way to describe it is a sandwich with 5 different meats layered into it with melted cheese poured over the top finished with a tomato kinda sauce. Very random, but kinda worked! The staff we're incredible though, just as we wanted to pay the bill, we were told to wait a moment and then 3 members of staff came around and poured us all a little shot and we just randomly toasted, you gotta love a free shot. Though the shot did have coffee beans in which we both swallowed but the staff didn't...

After this we decided to retreat back to the hotel to get ready for the evening! For dinner we actually decided to stay closer to the hotel and not go as far as the river because we had done a lot of walking but we stumbled across this really lovely restaurant called Avendia! Now, let me just tell you, I had possibly one of the best steaks I have ever had in my life at this restaurant and it was served with a delicious peppercorn sauce! I even love the fact the waiter didn't ask how I like it, because a steak like that can only be served rare! It was delicious but amazingly only like 12€ or something. The staff was amazing,  asking if we were ok and enjoying the food! I'll have to be honest here, I couldn't fit in any dessert but the chap I was with managed to squeeze something in and opted for a cheesecake! When it turned up, I was a little jealous but too full to even try it, however I was informed that the topping was like a black forest gateaux-ey thing, lush!

To end the evening on the way hotel we ducked into a couple of bars just for one drink, a bar called Baixa Bar serves a wonderful red fruit caprioska and played some great music with a very relaxed atmosphere.

So there we have day 1. Make sure you check out my blog on Thursday for day 2...
1 May 2016

Embracing the Unexpected | Lifestyle

Which if you think about it is a tricky thing to do, because if you don't know about it, how can you enjoy it?

I don't know whether this is something that is coming with age or it's just my mindset that is changing, maybe both, but basically over the last few months I've really started to realise that unexpected and unplanned things are truly something amazing! As a girl I think it's quite a common trait to over think things and to analyse, it's definitely in my nature. However, speaking specifically about the move to Italy, when the opportunity came up to work out here it changed how I saw my life! Moving to Florence was not my dream, it's not something I've ever wanted to do nor is it something I thought I would ever do, so when this opportunity came up I looked at it from a different perspective and took almost all of my over analysing questions out of the equation and just simply thought, do I want to do it? Am I happy? The answer was yes so I just did it and if it didn't work out, well I have lost absolutely nothing! It's filtered through into other aspects of my life because when something completely unexpected happens, I just switch off and focus on how I'm feeling in that exact moment! Sometimes you have to look at a situation and just say, it is what it is and frickin' run with it.

I could have seriously stressed myself out with moving out here, I could have had sleepless nights, everything but because everything happened so quick and wasn't expected at all I just felt really at ease with just taking everything at a slower pace and just taking everything for what it is. I have never felt more relaxed about so many aspects of my life, back home I would stress about everything, all the small things all the things out of my control but out here I just feel like everything will figure itself out. I kinda love that right now, I have no idea where anything is going, but I'm just loving the journey. 

Are you an over thinker or do you just love not knowing?