Hey guys! I forgot to bore you with these…

Posted by Lipglossiping On August - 1 - 2013

So, yeah… I’ve been back off holiday for what feels like forever and I haven’t posted up any of my snaps.  I’m slipping.  You thought you’d gotten away with it for just a minute there didn’t you?

So, anyway… remember we were visiting mid-Wales to suss out its potential as a permanent residence for the family?  Well, I really liked it.  I didn’t mean to really like it… infact, if anything, I secretly hoped to find some fundamental flaw that would mean any hard decisions were taken out of my realm of responsibility.  I’ve got such cold feet now.

We focused our attentions on a town called Builth Wells… it’s remote (by my standards) but not too remote.  I mean, it has a cinema and stuff… probably showing films from the 1930s but well, it’s a start right?  It also seems to contain some of the happiest, friendliest, people I’ve come across on any of my holidays.  It was kinda comical… both me and Paul had been a little apprehensive about whether people would be friendly (I’ve had bad experiences in North Wales) but we walked into a tea-room and literally everyone was leaning across tables talking to one another… and then they started chatting away to us too.  Leila was in her element being fussed over by all the nanas… seriously working the floor like a pro.

We also went north to Llandrindod Wells (gorgeous houses, depressed-feeling town), Rhyader (lovely but probably a bit too remote), and south to Brecon (more going on but also more £££), we’re a little bit flummoxed to be honest, dazed and confused.  Leila went for another pony ride in the Brecon Beacons (still loving it), we picknicked all over the place and celebrated the glorious weather by eating al-fresco every night.

We stayed here and negotiated a great deal for a last minute break, and bar one really uncomfortable futon (there are other beds), I’d totally recommend the accommodation.  There’s also this crazy little suspension bridge just down the road from where we stayed that I was too chicken shit to drive across.  Honestly though, would you have done it?  I don’t even know how many tonnes an average car is… let alone one carrying the three of us after a pub lunch.

Anyway, one of my main reasons for choosing the area was down to many childhood memories of spending time a little north of here in the Elan Valley.  It’s a little gem and a very underrated tourist attraction.  If you live in the Midlands and haven’t heard of it, double shame on you because the area supplies all your drinking water!  Check out some of the scenery from around the region below.

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All in all, we spent a lovely 4 days mooching around and boring Leila to tears looking in every. estate. agent’s. window.  I always remember my parents doing that to me whenever we went on holiday, poor little sod.  If you’re in the UK, hope you enjoyed the heatwave that July brought with it.  That’s it now, it’s downhill all the way to Christmas!  What a thoroughly depressing thought!

Have you had your summer holiday already or is the best yet to come?


Introducing… Lipglossiping Lite

Posted by Lipglossiping On July - 29 - 2013

When I blog… I blog because I have something to say.  You’ll rarely find a post from me which contains only a few words… quite the opposite.  Which means that it takes me an average of 2hrs to compile a post, I aim to blog daily and I’m not meeting that target at the moment.  Why is it important to blog frequently?  Well, we’re all creatures of habit and it’s nice to know that when you log on to someone’s blog, you’ll find something new to read.  Consistency is important for a blogger.

It’s to this end that I’ve created Lipglossiping Lite.  It’s a tumblr-based site that I aim to update more frequently than this blog.  It won’t replace this blog… not in any way, shape or form.  Neither is it an excuse for me to blog less on here… but it will hopefully mean that I have somewhere online to deposit all those snippets that fill my head with things I want to share, but don’t necessarily want to write 500+ words about, you know?  Currently… those things, many of them time-sensitive (deals etc), just don’t get blogged at all anymore.

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If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, any Lipglossiping Lite updates will be accessible from there.  I’m turning off my Instagram updates (though will still be instagramming!) just so that I don’t bombard anyone with beauty overkill via their social media.

Truth be told, I’ve been in a blogging slump for a long time… commiting to another outlet is something I’ve resisted for a long time as a form of dilution but I can’t deny that perhaps being able to instantly share some of the things that excite me in a less time-consuming way, just might reignite my appetite for the whole deal again.  Or it might not.  But it’s worth a go.

Thanks for sticking with me x

Ciao for Now!

Posted by Lipglossiping On July - 15 - 2013

I’m off to the wilds of Wales for a week to enjoy my upcoming birthday under the stars.  Well, sort of under the stars… I’m not quite that brave.  We’ve rented one of those glamping cabins, camping for wimps… you know the type, so I’ll be hairdryer-less for the week and already, I’m feeling a little bit twitchy.

I’m not promising any posts because I’m not sure I’ll have any internet access (oh please God let me have 3G) and I’ve been too busy this past week to schedule anything in, I’m sure you’ll survive without me for a wee while… just don’t cheat on me with those other bloggers too hard ok?

Source and Credit: http://v-g.me.uk

Source and Credit: http://v-g.me.uk

I’m a wee bit anxious about this trip to be honest, you see… we have a bit of an ulterior motive going on…

In an ideal world, this time next year… we’ll be out of the flat and living somewhere we can call our own.  I’ve always grown up with a close connection to Wales and one of our intentions whilst away is to take a peek at the area close to where we’re staying with an eye to a permanent move there next year.  I do hope we fall in love with the area and that the people aren’t unfriendly… I’ll be putting my unfortunate bitchface under strict orders not to show herself too frequently!

Credit & Source: http://v-g.me.uk

Source and Credit: http://v-g.me.uk

I promise not to climb any mountains but I will eat lots of Welsh cakes.

Smell ya later! x

My weekend in pictures!

Posted by Lipglossiping On July - 1 - 2013

Please excuse this lazy excuse for a post, I’ve had an exhausting weekend and I’m so completely done in and ill-prepared for the week ahead.

Anyway, I had my camera out and about with me on Saturday when I attended our local village’s carnival so I thought I’d take a moment to document what I got up to over the last couple of days. My niece was stoked to be part of the procession and dressed up in all her Pirate finery.

Leila was just delighted to be watching her big cousin strut her stuff!

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The sumo suits were amazing, I wanted a go! It was too much fun watching respectable-looking people turn into competitive monsters as soon as they stepped inside their fat suits. It got quite vicious at times!

Saturday night, Leila enjoyed a sleepover so Paul and I settled down to finally getting round to watching The Dark Knight… I know, we’re only five-years late.  Sunday morning brought with it an early start at the car boot sale where we finally started shifting some of our stuff that’s been clogging up my parent’s spare room… we’ve been in our flat a year on the 9th July, so I think it’s about time we fully vacated our old home!

My highlight of Sunday had to be cwtching up on the sofa with my family and getting ready to watch my brother play bass at Glastonbury, “proud” doesn’t quite cover it! What a rock star!

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Leila couldn’t quite believe that she was watching “Unkie Steve” on the telly. Infact, I think she got a hairball from all the excitement…

We topped off a fabulous weekend with a few episodes of vintage 24, a Weight Watchers friendly Black Bean Chilli with Sweet Potato, and a very, very cheeky bowl of ice-cream.  Back to the gym tomorrow (I managed to destroy my HRM belt on Saturday by putting it in the tumble dryer FFS) and a full week of far-less exciting things to contend with.  I’m also going to my first Dance-Fit class on Wednesday, I don’t do classes… I couldn’t be more frightened!

What did you get up to this weekend?  Hope you had a great one!

Making vegetables tastier: Broccoli Tots

Posted by Lipglossiping On June - 27 - 2013

5 a day. Do you?

I don’t… although God loves a tryer.

The problem with vegetables is that they’re just alright.  I’m simply not gonna get excited over a carrot in the same way that I get excited over a slice of cheesecake.  Thems the breaks veg… you don’t make me want to eat you, it’s your fault, not mine.  Have you ever thought about that?

And so, in my endless quest of ways in which I can make vegetables tempt me… I wanted to make a slightly-more-healthy version of my much-loved courgette fritters… except, with broccoli, baked rather than fried.  ‘Cos that’s what I had.  Lots and lots of slightly-yellowing broccoli bought with the best of intentions.

Here’s what I did:

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The cast of characters included:

2 medium-sized heads of Broccoli (don’t de-stalk this too vigorously)

1.5 cups breadcrumbs (I used Weight Watchers Malted Bread – 3 slices, Panko would be great!)

30g grated parmesan (I love the Lidl one)

A generous squirt of English Mustard

1 medium egg

3 Tbsp egg whites (or just use another medium egg if you’re not points counting!)

1 tsp garlic paste

3/4 tsp smoked chilli flakes (you can substitute this for any seasoning you’d prefer)

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius (180 fan)

Begin by chopping the broccoli into small, less than bite-size pieces and steam them for a couple of minutes until tender.  Once cooked, add all the ingredients one by one, mixing as you go to ensure you get everything evenly combined.

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Take a bun tray/muffin tray or similar (I use this 12-cup one from Asda) and give it a light spray with cooking oil.  Use your hands to gently shape the mixture into golf-ball sized balls and place into the hollows of your bun tray.

The mixture should feel quite wet, the broccoli tots will spread a little whilst cooking but retain their shape within the hollow.

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Bake on the middle shelf for 15-minutes then remove from the oven and flip each tot over.  Pop back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes.

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The beauty of these veggie tots is that I’m already thinking of all the other vegetables I could cook like this.  I would love to do bubble and squeak… something which I LOVE but can never get brown and crispy in a frying pan.

The parmesan was great but I think I might try it with a bit of reduced fat mozzarella next time… or even a sprinkle of my beloved blue cheese.

As far as the Pro Points go… these worked out at 2 Pro Points per three tots or nine points for the whole tray of twelve!  Not bad for a plate-filling side.  If you’re up for a bit of batch cooking, these will also freeze beautifully, just heat  them up from frozen in the oven at around 200 degrees for 15-minutes and they’re perfect.

What are your favourite ways of making vegetables more tempting?

Confessions of a Beauty Blogger… #thingsivenever

Posted by Lipglossiping On June - 25 - 2013

You know, back in the day… us beauty bloggers were pretty simple human beans. We didn’t glam up and go to events, we didn’t get papped on the red carpet, and many of us didn’t know the difference between a cupcake and a cake pop.

How things have changed in this funny old world. I’m somewhat sheltered from all these goings-on, living out here in the sticks. Both a blessing and a curse, let me tell you!

But it struck me yesterday, that despite my self-proclaimed delight in all things beautifying… there are a few certain experiences I’ve yet to encounter.

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No, I’m not talking about the it girl exploits that some of my peers get up to, I’m talking about the kind of stuff that lays fundamental shame at my beauty-blogging front door.

1.  I’ve never had my hair professionally coloured.

Nuh-uh, not ever.  You see, I started going grey when I was 17 and when you’re 17, you don’t want to do anything more “open” than scurry home with a box of Clairol and turn your Mum’s best towels black in an attempt to rid yourself of your roots.  Old habits dye hard and I’ve just carried on…

Except, I recently had a celebrity hairdresser (we’re talking major name-dropper super-talent) tell me that my roots were kinda green.  Ground, please open wide… I’m yours for the taking.

2.  I’ve never had a full-body massage.

Colour me timid but what does that even entail?  Do I have to get, like…uh… naked?  Is there paper pants involved?  I’m not saying I’m a prude but I did wonder about the possibility of keeping my knickers on when I went into the labour ward.

3.  I’ve never been waxed.

Well, half-heartedly… twice, by me… out of curiosity more than anything.  But as a routine?  Nope.  I hear some girls even go so far as to spread their bum cheeks in the name of depilation.  I’m like the Mary Whitehouse of hair removal.

4.  I’ve never left the house in orange lipstick.

I know my limits.

5.  I’ve never bought clothes from Top Shop.

Take away my blog right now.

 

So, you see… sometimes I feel like a right old phony sitting here, waxing lyrical about beauty and the like.  But I feel somewhat cleansed (no… not colon, not done that either) by airing my inexperiences here today.

C’mon, make a girl feel better… what “#thingsivenever” have you never done when it comes to the world of beauty?

Beauty brokers extraordinaire, Cult Beauty are turning 5 this week and in celebration of a birthday well-earned, the company are hosting a week of special offers and giveaways.  I’ve got the lowdown on the programme, so here’s what to expect over the next 7-days…

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Nice Prize!

Monday Birthday Offer: From 10am on the 24th June

Win a £500 Beauty Hamper Curated by Cult Beauty Founders + 5 additional winners will get their choice of 1 Cult Classic (either a Molecule 01, Sunday Riley Good Genes, Alpha H Liquid Gold, DJV Fiberwig & Volume Lash or Eve Lom Cleanser) – Simply spend £50 to enter.

*terms & conditions apply, stated on site* Offer ends Sat 29th June 2013.

Tuesday Birthday Offer: From 4:30pm – 9:30pm on the 25th June

Raise a glass to our Cult Classics – Cult Beauty Soiree.. For 5 hours starting 4.30pm – 9.30pm GMT Get 15% off selected lines only. Promo code CELEBRATE.

*terms & conditions apply, stated on site* Offer ends Tues 25th June 2013 9.30pm GMT.

Wednesday Birthday Offer: From 10am 26th June

Win Your Wishlist… Win a £500 voucher to spend on your favourite Cult Beauty booty!

Create your own birthday wishlist (to add a product to the wishlist all one has to do is go to the product’s detail page, and below the ADD TO BAG button click the one saying wishlist) and email it to competitions@cultbeauty.co.uk to be in with a chance of winning the lot!

*terms & conditions will apply stated on site* Offer ends midnight Sat 29th June 2013.

Thursday Birthday Offer: From 10am 27th June

The best things in life are free! Get 5 free LUXURY samples with any £30+ spend.

*terms & conditions will apply stated on site* Offer ends midnight Thurs 27th June 2013.

Friday Birthday Offer: From 10am 28th June for 48 hours

FINAL Birthday Treat for 48 hours…

Spend £100 & save £20 with code BIRTHDAY20, spend £70 & save £10 with code BIRTHDAY10 or spend £50 & save £5 with code BIRTHDAY5.

*Offer ends midnight Saturday 29th June 2013. Excludes Escentric Molecules.

For more details on each of the promos, head over to the Cult Beauty website.

Let me know if you enter any of those super competitions and I’ll keep my fingers tightly crossed for you!  Good luck guys!

Paris: A Visual Post (part three)

Posted by Lipglossiping On June - 10 - 2013

At the risk of forgetting all about the fact that this is, after all, a beauty blog… I’m posting the final part of my Paris travelogue today. Most of you will be relieved to hear that it also includes a quick mention of the beauty bits and bobs that ended up in my basket along the way.

Day 3 started with an early-ish check out from the hotel who stored our suitcase until we were ready to collect en-route back to Gare du Nord. We wanted to grab some breakfast on the run, and being the thoroughly unhealthy sods that we are currently, we opted for a traditionally Parisian chocolate eclair from L’atelier des Pains. What?!?! WE WERE ON HOLIDAY!  In fairness, we shared.

For those of you who think that chocolate eclairs do not a breakfast make. Get off my blog.

Otherwise, as you were my friends…

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oh God, so good…

We began our final day of sightseeing by jumping on the Metro to Pigalle.  It was at this point that I realised why I hadn’t seen any fat Parisians… there are so many steps in the Metro system that it’s simply impossible to put on weight.  Talking of steps, when we reached ground-level I put my exercise-dodging plan into action and jumped on the Montmartrobus to take us up the back roads of Montmartre to its summit and the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur.

The bus was full of pensioners, physically unable to make the ascent under their own steam… whilst we sat there, being lazy bastards.  With a small amount of shame, I turned to look out of the window, watching the poor sods puffing up the hill alongside, sweat pouring down their faces in the extreme midday heat… cackling to myself all the while.  We got off the bus about 100m from the basilica and and mooched around the back streets and markets for a short while.

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Alphonse Mucha and Toulouse Lautrec are two names synonymous with this district

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I promise I didn’t eat any!

Then it was on to the church itself, a long-held personal favourite spot in the city.  I remembered visiting as a young teen and being about as impressed as a teenager can possibly be with a tourist attraction.  I have to say, despite the crowds and hawkers, it still didn’t disappoint.  So beautiful and so impressive towering over the city.

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you’re all spoiling my photo… get out of the way!

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more steps, suckers!

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the view from the top

We walked around the interior but I have to admit that the number of “squash a penny” machines jingling away didn’t do much to add to the atmosphere inside.  I donated some pennies and lit a tealight in memory of my Nan before heading back outside and down the steps for the descent back into the city centre.  Next stop, The Avenue des Champs-Élysée for a bit of shopping!

You can’t go to Paris without seeing two things.  One of them is the Eiffel Tower, and let’s be honest… it’s pretty hard to miss.  The other?  The Arc de Triomphe!  It’s one of those monuments that if you don’t tick off the list… you haven’t been to Paris!  Saying that, I hadn’t seen it before… well, not close up and I properly fangirled, laughing at the time on Instagram that it was probably a bit weird to fangirl a monument.

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I had to wait for 4 lorries, 2 vans, 43423 mopeds, and a bus to pass before I could take this photo

It was at this point in the day that Mr. L started to groan a little… you see, I had barely done any beauty shopping. I was being so virtuous and pointing out this fact every. single. time. I walked past the entrance to a pharmacy.  “Look how good I’m being!  Aren’t you glad you married me?”

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inside the “pharmacie”

Only, at this point… I caved a bit.  Mostly because I felt as though I was on familiar territory.  Infact… if I’m honest… I basically sprinted towards Monoprix and the next-door English-speaking Pharmacy.  Sure, it’s probably not the best-stocked pharmacy in Paris, and neither is it the cheapest… but I’ve always had really good, non-rushed service inside and I knew I’d be able to pick up what I wanted.  I was more disappointed with Monoprix though which seemed to have bumped most of its lesser-known French high-street lines in favour of the stuff we can get over here anyway.  I boo-ed.

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my Parisian beauty buys

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forgot to include this one in the last shot ha!

I’ll do another post on my purchases soon but the above photos should give you an idea that I was pretty well-behaved non?

Disappointed by my lack of makeup purchases and the fact that I didn’t have time to hunt down a Fragonard, I went and consoled myself with a giant Croque Monsieur and a Creme Brulee (as you do) and the world was (almost) completely mended again.

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Croque Monsieur at Le Comptoir Boetie

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can you hear the “crack”?

Alas, our time in Paris had come to an end and we returned to our hotel to pick up our luggage before heading back to the station for our train home.  All in all, it was a memorable 52-hours in Paris… horrendously expensive and physically exhausting but I wouldn’t have changed a single second of it.

Thanks for reading if you got this far xx

(click for part one and part two)

Paris: A Visual Post (part two)

Posted by Lipglossiping On June - 7 - 2013

Our second day in Paris should have started a few hours earlier than it did.  Our alarm went off at 8am and I hit the snooze button with as much force as I could muster.  Over, and over… and over again.  We eventually left the hotel at 11am, having decided that without the early start under our belts, we didn’t have the resilience to deal with any potential queues at the Catacombs, which for safety reasons, only allows a restricted number of visitors in at any one time.

We opted instead, for a more leisurely stroll through Le Marais, starting at the Place de la Bastille.

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the Parisian Metro system

A quick note on the Metro system… we bought “carnets” of 10 single-use tickets as and when we needed them, instead of the daily Mobilis pass (travelcard), our decision worked out cheaper over the course of three days.  However, the downside was that these tickets constantly became demagnetized by going through security checks at the various tourist attractions.

The Metro staff are at least, clearly used to this and were happy enough to respond to my cries of “ça ne marche pas” whilst frantically waving the tickets about infront of them.  I got used to the eye-rolls eventually.  In other words, if your tickets fail to open the barriers… chances are, it’s not your fault.  Go and get them checked at the ticket window.

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Place de la Bastille

Now, I’m no French history buff but I spent every summer growing up in the West of France, in the Vendee… an area that has a reputation for its anti-revolutionary, royalist history which culminated in an uprising against the republic and the eventual defeat/massacre of over 150,000 Vendeen people… controversially described as the first genocide in modern history.  Infact, in the small field next door to our house remains an underground tunnel believed to lead all the way to the local Chateau which was built as a means of escape for when the going got tough for the local aristrocracy!

The storming of The Bastille (a prison originally located on the site of the above column) in Paris on July 14, 1789 by the city’s commoners led almost directly to the French Revolution.  If you walk around the Place de la Bastille you can see the outline in the ground, marking the location of the prison’s original towers – a hugely understated nod to such an important time in the country’s history!

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Place des Vosges

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The gardens at Hotel de Sully

We moved on in the direction of the Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris.  It was packed with people enjoying their lunch in the sunshine, and although we only stopped en-route (our tummies were grumbling for lunch), I really recommend it as a place to hide away from the masses.

Now firmly in the historic Le Marais area, we headed into the old Jewish quarter on the hunt for what is often described online as “the ultimate falafel”.  It didn’t take long to spot the lunch queues snaking up the Rue de Rosiers so we joined the line at L’As du Fallafel to get a taste of what we had been missing!

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the lunch queue

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the “falafel special” at L’as du Fallafel on Rue de Rosiers

In order to keep the queue moving quickly at peak times, your order (and payment) are taken whilst standing in line, this means that your food is ready and waiting by the time you reach the front.  Although the queue was long, it was super-efficient and we were walking away with the fattest falafel-filled pittas within 10-minutes of joining.

If you’re on a tight budget – at only 5.50€ each, they make a great purse-friendly option (especially if you find a local park to eat them in and combine them with a cheeky pastry from the patisserie up the road!)

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The Pont d’Arcole looking South West

Bellies filled, we roamed the back streets a little longer before heading across to the Ile de la Cité, onto the major tourist path with Notre Dame firmly in our crosshairs.

The city council have erected a huge (temporary?) grandstand infront of the cathedral, which spoiled every photo opportunity possible and we very nearly didn’t bother joining the queue – which again, was frighteningly long.  I’m glad we did though as it was the fastest-moving line I’d ever seen and we were in within only five-minutes.  What can I say?  Many of these Parisian queues are terribly deceptive!

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Notre Dame’s impressive exterior

Having said that, Notre Dame is definitely more impressive from the outside, not to say that the interior isn’t worth bothering with… but the carvings and sculptures that adorn the facade are something very special, as is the sheer scale of the building.

If you’re up for visiting any other attractions in the vicinity, I thoroughly recommend the lesser-known Sainte-Chappelle, only one block away, with its extensive 13th century stained glass windows which make you feel as though you’re standing inside a kaleidoscope.  It’s an unforgettable experience and truly atmospheric, having often been described as one of the world’s most beautiful buildings.

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the lower chapel at Sainte-Chappelle

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the upper chapel at Sainte-Chappelle

By this point in the day, our feet were killing us, so we escaped the island for somewhere to stop for a glass of wine and a treat before continuing.  As with most tourist cities in Europe, you definitely need to head off the main thoroughfares to get anything that comes close to resembling value for money and for your efforts, you’re generally rewarded with better service and food!

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some of the food choices along the main tourist routes (mmm brie)

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tartes, tartes everywhere!

We had originally planned to take a night-time Seine cruise with Bateaux-Mouches but our feet simply wouldn’t allow us to travel from our random location on the left-bank across to the Pont de l’Alma where these boats departed from… plus the fact that it was still only 6pm and around 3hrs away from nightfall!

In the end, we trudged a few hundred yards onto the Pont Neuf and took a cruise from the smaller company, Vedettes du Pont-Neuf.  It was “ok”, a little rushed perhaps but one of those “things” that you would probably regret not doing, you know?  If you book online in advance, you can get a 5€ reduction per ticket, making it a really affordable experience.

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Later on that evening, we passed by a peaceful demonstration of people showing solidarity with the Turkish citizens… the French sure know how to throw a good protest!

We finished the day with a real trip highlight, a well-timed jaunt up to the top of Montparnasse Tower to see the city’s lights laid out below us.  Rumour has it that the tower has been under threat of demolition for years… the city hates it and considers it a blot on the landscape.  The only thing saving the 210m tall building?  It’s absolutely riddled with asbestos and they simply don’t know how to take it down safely!

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the observation deck – a 360 degree view of the city

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a birds-eye view

For me, it’s one of the best spots in the city from which to appreciate the Eiffel Tower.  I just couldn’t believe how empty it was up there, it seems that so few tourists take advantage of this location and it was a magical spot to watch the sun go down over the horizon.  We spent a good hour up there until just before closing time when we headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep ahead of our last day of exploration.

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some instagram shots from day 2

Final day tomorrow… (and a peek at my beauty buys!)

Paris: A Visual Post (part one)

Posted by Lipglossiping On June - 7 - 2013

Well that was tiring.

The fundamental problem with trying to fit 5-days worth of sightseeing into just over 48hrs is that, something… somewhere has to give.  In my case, it was very nearly my sanity (and my feet).

We arrived in Paris at lunchtime on Monday and headed straight to our hotel to make use of their left luggage facilities.  Fortunately for us, they were good sorts and just let us check in early instead.  Our hotel was the Astoria Opera, whose nearest metro stop, Rome, was only a 2-minute walk away.  It’s really well-located for using the public transport and has a great bakery around the corner for late breakfast treats!

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A pretty big room by Parisian standards!

The first thing that I want to recommend for your trip to Paris… is two iPhone apps that were paramount to our enjoyment of the city.  The first is Paris Metro, where a paltry 69p will ensure that finding your route across France’s capital is a doddle and this one doesn’t need a data connection to work either.

The second app that was invaluable for getting around the city was Digi Guide Paris, another inexpensive 69p purchase.  I didn’t really use it as a “guide” but the offline maps capability made sure that I was always headed in the right direction.

These two nifty tools really did ensure that our trip was as stress-free as possible.  A final, honourable mention goes to the free TripAdvisor Paris City Guide which had some useful last minute information on opening times (we found out that one of our intended museums was closed on a Monday thanks to this).  Just make sure that you download as much information as possible for the app before you set off.

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Exterior of The Louvre from Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre Metro exit

As soon as we’d dumped our luggage and caught our breaths, we jumped on the Metro and headed for The Louvre.  I knew in advance that I wanted to make a beeline for the quieter Porte des Lions entrance, and catching sight of the queues snaking into the Pyramid, I was keen to quickly locate it across the courtyard.  Unfortunately, it was closed!

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The Louvre with its famous pyramid!

I had a moment’s frustration (because it should have been open, damnit!) before I engaged plan B and headed for the underground mall at Carousel du Louvre.  Thankfully, we only had to queue for around 10 minutes to buy our tickets and get through security before we were in!

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galleries that go on forever…

When people tell you that it would take days, or even weeks to appreciate the museum properly, they ain’t lying.  If I used only one word to describe this Parisian gem, it would be: overwhelming.  The sheer size of the place is something you can only really appreciate in person but it’s worth ensuring that you’ve got a pair of comfortable shoes on your feet for when you attempt it!

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…end ever!

We literally only discovered about 3% of the museum by concentrating on the major sights but even with our guerrila-style attack on the attraction’s jewels, we still lingered over a few pieces that caught our eyes, in particular, everything on display by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson who I don’t mind admitting, I’d never heard of before.

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Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa face-to-face with her (many) admirers

I enjoyed documenting the crowds infront of the most well-known pieces more than the art itself.  Mr. L kept laughing at me that I was standing back and taking pictures of everyone else rather than pushing to the front to enjoy what they were capturing.  If you’re really into seeing these masterpieces, it’s well worth getting there for opening time as the ambiance is definitely spoilt by the sheer number of people around you.

You will struggle to have any kind of “moment” with these icons otherwise, so Google for an early-morning action plan, complete with the ideal route for getting through The Louvre before the throngs of people appear behind you!

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The Winged Victory of Samothrace

My favourite spot in the museum (well, of the bits that I saw) was this precise location above the Daru staircase in line with the majestic Winged Victory statue.  It was relatively quiet from up here and gave us a moment to gather our thoughts while gazing down at everyone doing their thing.  I couldn’t help but laugh at all the people taking photos with their iPads, it looks so funny and always puts me in mind of Penny from Inspector Gadget with her computer book!

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Another crowd-pleaser, the Venus de Milo

After our whistlestop tour of The Louvre, we were famished and headed back down into the Carousel du Louvre for a bite to eat.  Unfortunately, it was proper food-court stuff so we settled for a sandwich from McDonalds and promised to self-flagellate later in penance for our sins.  Keeping it real.

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Underneath the pyramid

We had pre-booked a behind-the-scenes Eiffel Tower tour to ensure that we bypassed the worst of the queues and I was so glad I did!  When we arrived, the queues were horrible, definitely don’t be thinking you can rock up to this attraction and wait in line for ten-minutes… we’re talking hours upon hours of queueing.  The excursion I booked was via Cultival.fr and cost around 22€ each which included a guided tour of the bunkers underneath the tower and the operating room of the pillar lifts which were installed over 100-years ago. Nerdy stuff!

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On the ground, looking up!

The thing about the tower is that it just doesn’t disappoint.  You see it in films, on TV, and immortalised in people’s holiday snaps the world over but it just doesn’t compare to standing infront of the structure and looking up.  There’s something about its skeletal form that trumps any skyscraper. Brilliant!

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The incredible view from the 2nd floor

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From across the other side of the river with one of the Bateau Mouches cruises passing by.

Once we’d bored ourselves senseless with the tower’s history, we headed across The Seine over to the Jardins du Trocadero where some daring skateboarders were piling up industrial-sized rubbish bins and ramps to impress the crowd. We grudgingly walked up to the Trocadero above, still not really wanting to leave the tower’s magnetic pull.

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Once we got to the top – dodging the numerous street hawkers on the way – we decided that it was surely time for dinner and headed for a bistro over the road where I’d spent a few happy (and slightly drunken) hours on my last trip to Paris: Cafe Kleber.  We expected to pay through the nose for its location but at 60€ for both of us for two courses and a glass of wine each, it could have been much worse by Paris’ expensive standards.

I’d been hankering after Steak Frites and am pleased to say that this one didn’t disappoint!

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We headed back to the hotel after a Nutella and Chantilly crepe from a nearby food stall overlooking the tower’s dazzling 10pm light show.  What a perfect way to end our first day in Paris!

Here’s some instagram shots from our first day, I was switching between cameras like a loon:

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Day two coming up tomorrow… tell me what your favourite sights of Paris are?  If you haven’t been, what do you dream of visiting in the city of love most of all?

I’m off to Paris!

Posted by Lipglossiping On June - 2 - 2013

Remember when I won a trip to Paris courtesy of Vaseline? Well, I’m jumping on the Eurostar tomorrow and finally taking advantage of my prize… I can’t. bloody. wait!

It’s the first time me and Mr. L have been away on our own in 9 years, so I’m calling it our belated honeymoon… seeing as our actual honeymoon was in Manchester. How romantic?

My little L is looking forward to a couple of nights of endless Disney movies and marshmallows with her Nan and Pops, and me? Well, I’m looking forward to endless steak frites, trips to Monoprix (so classy), and people watching at Trocadero (I don’t even care how expensive the wine is!)

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I’ve got a modest shopping list in my back pocket but I’m hoping that some new stuffs might catch my eye while I’m browsing.  Our itinerary (planned military-style by yours truly) is pretty packed so I don’t know how much shopping time I’ll be able to squeeze in, I also have to remember that I’m not travelling solo!

Incase you’re interested (and because I’d like some tips), my itinerary looks a little something like this:

Monday: Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Eiffel Tower, Trocadero

Tuesday: Catacombs, Pere Lachaise, Rodin’s Thinker, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, Pont Neuf, Seine Cruise

Wednesday: Champs Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, La Defense

The thought of The Louvre frightens me, I know it’s gonna be rammed but I’m ok with being a philistine – I just wanna spot the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory of Samothrace.  Some of the other “sights”, we’re probably not going to go inside, well… it depends on the queues…

I’ve only been to Paris once before on a school trip, and once with Vexinthecity, so I’m by no means overly familiar with the city. 

Any tips for eating (not too expensive!), sightseeing, transport etc. are as always, super-appreciated.

I’M SO BLEEDIN’ EXCITED!

À bientôt mes amies! xxxx

Starting out? Build your stash without splashing the cash!

Posted by Lipglossiping On May - 31 - 2013

Are you developing a love for makeup? Perhaps you’re taking the first steps into building a portfolio of colours and textures that you love but you’re apprehensive about wasting a ton of money? Let me help your build your stash without splashing (too much) cash!

It can be hard to find a secure footing amongst the myriad of beauty products at your disposal. A full spectrum of shades, although useful… can be intimidating to anyone new to the world of beauty.

I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of makeup that I’ve passed on to friends and family over the years, I must have wasted hundreds upon hundreds of pounds in the never-ending quest of finding my happy-ever-after products. I’m not there yet, but I can advise you against a number of pitfalls that you might encounter along the way.

Grab a cup of tea, sit back, and let me guide you through the trials and tribulations of feeding your makeup addiction.

Do your research

Believe it or not, when I started building my makeup arsenal, beauty blogs simply didn’t exist (quelle horreur!) I had to rely on magazines telling me that Maybelline Great Lash would do epic things for my lashes… can you even imagine?!

Needless to say, when it comes to trends and aspirational imagery, mags are hard to beat… but when it comes to how products work on real skin, blogs and forums are the way forward. Do your research.

Nowadays, there are a billion (and one) beauty blogs at your disposal and most are getting pretty savvy with their search engine optimization. A simple query into Google should throw up some useful results about most products but don’t forget to dig deep.

build your stash

explore all search options

Once Google has returned your standard search results, expand on this by searching “discussions”, “blogs”, and “images” to ensure that you get the full lowdown on the product you’re interested in purchasing.

It doesn’t take long to do some sleuthing on a product before purchasing and I rarely regret a purchase that I’ve checked out online beforehand. Infact, almost all of my regretful purchases come from that impulsive urge that grabs at my purse at won’t let go!

Take a look at what you already own

You might expect me to tell you not to purchase shades that you already own. Nuh uh, not me. I’m one of many “queens of taupe” in the blogging world, which basically means… me and taupe, we got a ‘thang’ going on.

Do I regret owning 30 subtle variations of the same shade? Do I hell, I love each and every one of them. It’s those hot pinks I like looking at but never wearing that need trimming from my collection.

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taupe, beautiful taupe

The thing is, we’re creatures of habit us humans. We know what we like and generally, we stick to it. Why fight it? If you know that you love green eyeshadow and wear the shade daily, stock up in different textures. Buy what you will use the most and don’t be ashamed to do so.

Just be mindful of becoming an obsessive hoarder… you don’t want your cat to dig your dead body out of your collection of purple eyeshadows one day. Not cool.

When trying something new, go cheap

There are so many wonderful sources of cheap makeup online nowadays, you simply don’t need to rush to your local NARS counter to make that initial purchase.

If you’re wanting to dabble in red lips… don’t start off with MAC’s Ruby Woo. Yeah, yeah it’s an iconic shade that every red-lip lover must own before they can even call themselves a makeup fan. Pfft. You won’t be saying that if it turns out you look like Ronald McDonald on acid with anything bolder than “subtle rose” on your lips will you?

For me, as much as I feel like I surely need to own the classic MAC Vegas Volt… I really, really, don’t. You know how I know this? Every. coral. lipstick. ever.

build your stash

ELF Studio Matte Lip Color in Coral

If you find yourself hankering after a high-end, uber lustworthy piece of makeup, do the sensible thing and search for dupes first.

Ok, this advice isn’t so pertinent if you know that the broad shade range is a good match for your skin-tone (coral is so unkind to me!) but still, you hear what I’m saying. Once you’ve got that dupe down, head for the cheapie sites. Cheap Smells, Fragrance Direct, ELFCosmetics, you know the score… then once you’ve filled your basket with the shades you’ve been desperate to try? Who’s gonna bat an eyelid if you add one or two extras to broaden your makeup-loving horizons.

Ace your face

Ask yourself this simple question: What is it that you actually need?

Grab an empty makeup bag and plan your face from base to finish. Where are the holes in your collection? Which aspects of your finished look are letting you down?

This is a question that you can ask yourself regardless of how developed your stash is. For me, I still need to pay attention to priming my face instead of blaming an unsatisfactory outcome on a rogue foundation.

I know, that if I put more effort into providing my base products with some solid groundwork, I can improve their performance by 50% easily. Be realistic.

build your stash

Lanolips, I’m not worthy!

Are you blaming your dehydrated lips on your latest lipstick purchase? Perhaps instead, you should blame them on your lips! I could never wear a matte lipstick before I discovered Lanolips.

Nowadays I fully take it for granted that I can wear whatever the hell I want on my lips so long as I prepare them adequately and keep them nourished with the proper products.

I think that it’s often a lot easier to lay the blame for a disappointment on the cosmetic than it is on your own beauty routine. Be honest with yourself and make resolving any underlying issues with your skincare a priority. In the end, your bank balance will thank you for it.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

I’ve said this so many times before, but if you’re shopping a counter… please don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. I know, you know, we all know that the beauty hall can be a scary place but it’s the job of sales assistants across the world to assist you in your purchases.

Sure, they’re there to make sure you purchase as much as your bank manager can handle before going into a meltdown but more often than not, they also have some nifty tools at their disposal to genuinely give you the best advice possible.

build your stash

an Elemis Facial Assessment

One of the most useful things I’ve ever done was have a skin assessment at an Elemis counter. With the help of some high-tech machinery and a knowledgeable sales assistant, I learnt more about my skin in 20-minutes that I’d managed to self-deduce in a decade. It really changed how I viewed my skin, and cemented an action plan that I still work from to this day.

How much did it cost me? Nothing, apart from the obligatory guilt-purchase from using up the SA’s time (about £14).

The same goes for less high-tech offerings such as a professional eye for a foundation colour-match.

Sure, there are numpty sales assistants out there who’ll swear blind that your NW15 skin looks great in shade TANGO but shop around carefully and you’ll get some great advice from some properly trained and truly talented makeup artists. Not only that but you’ll pay a 10th of the cost for the privilege were you to hire the exact same people to do your special occasion makeup.

 

I hope this helps you explore some nifty ways on how to build your stash of makeup without bankrupting yourself in the process.

Please do share any tips that you have, I’d love to read them!

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