What’s in my Makeup Bag? The Winter Edition

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High five; we made it through January!  I’m so happy to see the back of it, and even though we’re celebrating the first day of February here in Cardiff with a fresh sheet of snow – it feels good knowing that we’re winging our way into Spring.  Soon – we’re not quite there yet – which means a few more weeks of dark mornings, dark circles and deathly pale skin, and that means a shakeup in the ol’ makeup bag.  It’s working so, so hard right now, let me tell you!

Just before Christmas I picked up a few new beauty bits and bobs from Boots and TK Maxx (if you’ve never raided their makeup section before, then oh boy, you’re in for a treat my friend) to see me through to Spring.

1. CYO “The Radiant One” Bronzing & Illuminating Compact in “Light”

Alas, my Florida tan is long gone and when I hit pan on my Body Shop Honey Bronzer I felt like it was time for a bit of a shake up.  I’ve got fair skin and honestly, I’m a bit of a Bronze-aphobe (is that a thing?).  Too much and I look like I’ve face-planted into a muddy puddle but at the same time, I do need something to warm up my pale skin.  I picked up the CYO Bronzing and Illuminating Compact on a bit of a whim when I stepped into Boots just after Christmas and absolutely fell in love with it.  It’s cheap – only a fiver – and the lighter compact is absolutely perfect for pale, cool-toned skin like mine.  The bronzer is subtle but buildable, while the added highlighter adds a really lovely glow.

2. Stila Stay All Day Foundation and Concealer in Light (3)

What a TK Maxx bargain this baby was!  I’m still a massive fan of the Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation, but it’s a little dewy and so light and works best during spring and summer.  In the winter I need a bit more coverage, so I picked up this little bottle by Stila (since it was more than half price off) and it’s been evening up my blotchy – sometimes dry – winter skin.  It applies smoothly over blemishes and wrinkles, sticks with a matte finish (without drying things out) and really does stay all day.  Winner!

3. Lancôme Crayon Khol

An old favourite and the only eye pencil I use.  I can’t tell you how many of these I’ve got rolling around in my makeup bag that are literally just the nib.  I use the until they’re unusable – tight-lining, lid-lining, smudging – this baby copes with the lot and has never once irritated my eyes in the process.

Also, shout out to the Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Liner – it’s been my go-to for years.  I picked up the version with the micro-point last time I repurchased – wondering whether it would make it any easier to create the cat-eye flick I go for day to day – but actually, I think I prefer the normal tip.

4. Stila Eyes Are the Windows Spirit Palette

Another TK Maxx steal – I couldn’t believe my luck!  I absolutely love this palette; it’s got a gorgeous range of neutral, cool-toned shades with buildable colour for looks that work both during the day and at night.

5. Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in “Pink in the Afternoon”

I’m so fussy when it comes to lipstick.  I like cool-toned pinks (are we seeing a trend here?), long-lasting, absolutely no shimmer and they need to be moisturising – I’ve never got on with MAC’s range because they leave my lips a flaky mess.  I was devastated when Revlon discontinued their Lip Butter range, but thankfully, the Super-Lustrous range is just as good.  Pink in the Afternoon is that perfect “your lips but better” shade that I reach for every day. 🙂

I’m actually on the hunt for a new mascara because my Bad Gal Bang’s just not banging anymore – what’s everyone loving right now? 🙂

*This post contains affiliate links. Read more about what that means here.

Autumn Fashion Edit: 5 New Things

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It’s been absolutely boiling here in Cardiff this week which is just typical, innit?  And there was me all ready to bust out the big jumpers, boots and scarves.  I took Bungle for a walk earlier in the week and ended up coming back a sweaty mess!  Still, it’s getting colder every morning and I can’t wait to really get into my Autumn wardrobe – including these five things I picked up recently. 🙂

1. Baggy Jumper

I really wanted to find a nice oversized jumper to wear this autumn, and I fell in love with this one when I spotted it in H&M at the end of the summer.  The colour is a kind of frosty blue that goes so well with denim, and the wool isn’t too prickly either.

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And my favourites online:

New Look 
PLT Only

2. Trainers

There’s absolutely no way I can get away with the whole ugly trainer trend – nor would I want to, if I’m being completely honest.  I DON’T GET IT.  I mean, £705 for these?  I’m not a fan.  I am, however, a massive fan of Converse.  My mint green high tops are well loved, and over the summer I felt like I fancied picking up a white ankle pair that would go with both jeans and dresses.  But, it’s Autumn now and there’s no way a pristine clean pair of white chucks are going to survive the morning dog walk through puddles and leaf mould.  So instead of shelling out £50 on a pair that are probably going to be ruined by the time the Christmas decs go up, I spent £6 on these dupes from Primark. 🙂

3. Snuggly Oversized Scarf

I really didn’t need another scarf – I’ve got LOADS – but I haven’t got a black one.  I spotted (…😉 ) this one in Zara at the end of August and just knew I’d end up wearing it all winter with everything – because it’ll go with everything!  And, the polka dots mean that it’s not just another boring black scarf.

And my favourites online:


ASOS
ASOSMiss Selfridge

4. Statement Shirt

You know me, I can’t resist a weird shirt and I’ve been eyeing up adding a bold black and white striped one to my collection for a while now.  I pretty much haven’t taken this one off since I picked it up in H&M at the beginning of September, so I’m counting it as a solid addition to the squad.  It’s not made from silk, but it’s kind of a heavy weighted alternative which means it hangs really nicely.  I LOVE it.

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And my favourites online:


ASOS 
ASOS ASOS 

5. Animal Print

Okay, so this one technically isn’t new – but I’ve brought it back into rotation after a long summer break.  I love all the animal prints out there right now, but I’m yet to find anything I like clothing wise – plus, aren’t we a little close to overdoing it?  I mean, so many people are wearing animal print (particularly leopard) at the moment that it’s practically becoming a uniform.  I love it, but like I said, I’m yet to make the plunge clothing wise and if I’m honest I’m not entirely sure I will.  But, what I do have is the Cheetah Print Bag I picked up in TK Maxx, I think around this time last year.  It’s enough to jazz up my Autumn/Winter grey, monochrome and denim wardrobe without going full on Jungle Book.

Have a great weekend guys! 🙂

*This post contains affiliate links; you can find out what that means here.

10 Lifesaving Products for Dog Owners

It’s been a while since I spammed you with snaps of Bungle, and what better way to do it than to tack on a list of ten items that – as a dog mama – I seriously couldn’t live without.  Paw-renthood has had a pretty steep learning curve for us; Sunny had never had a dog before and neither had I, and we both come from families with two very houseproud matriarchs.  So we pretty much had to figure things out for ourselves from the get-go.  Thankfully, a year on and we’ve finally settled into a bit of a groove in large part thanks to these fantastic bits and bobs. 🙂

1. A Good Vacuum Cleaner

Not all dogs shed, but Bungle does – and we soon worked out that our old Henry Hoover just wasn’t cutting it when it came to sucking up the balls of Bungle fluff that roll across our hard floors like tumbleweed.  Not only that, but it was a bloody nightmare getting it out of the cupboard every day and then putting it away again.  So, about six months ago we bit the bullet and bought a very fancy Dyson V8.  WHAT. A. GAME. CHANGER.  Honestly, they’re expensive – yes – but 100% worth it (Although I’m sure there are some great cordless dupes out there).  They’re powerful, roll over hard floors and carpets like a dream and – perhaps more importantly – they’re easy to use; no fussing with cables and lugging a heavy unit around.  It makes keeping on top of the shedding so easy.

2. A De-Shedding Brush

Another must-have for fluffier breeds!  When Bungle started shedding his puppy fluff, we soon worked out that the standard grooming brush was – surprise, surprise! – just a brush, and wasn’t doing anything to actually remove all the dead dog hair that ends up floating around the floor.  So, we picked up this de-shedding brush from Amazon which cuts through all the dead hairs and therefore prevents further shedding (which means less vacuuming!).

3. Car Seat Hammock & Belt

I miss those days where I could just hold Bungle on my lap in the car; we outgrew them pretty quickly!  Bungle’s not great in the car, he gets sick easily (he once threw up out of the window and pebble-dashed the back of our car AND the one behind us…), he struggles with unpredictable twists and turns and insists on having his head out of the window.  As well as a pet blanket for the back seat, we also bought a black hammock that loops over the back and front headrests; it primarily protects the car seats but it also creates a comfortable, secure space for big dogs to sit (and isn’t too affected by the car’s movement).  Because Bungle likes to stick his head out of the window we bought a belt to secure him in; it clicks into a seat-belt plug and then clips onto Bungle’s harness and stops him from jumping out of the window… which he would if he could! 🙂

4. A Steam Mop

Bungle loves rolling in muddy puddles and living in Wales, wet walks are part and parcel of the whole dog ownership gig.  Luckily, we’ve got hard flooring downstairs so in theory it should be easy to clean up after him.  In the beginning we’d wipe Bungle’s paws and body with a towel to try and clean him off after wet walks, but it was such a pain and didn’t really work.  And – like our old vacuum cleaner – my old vileda sponge mop and bucket just weren’t cutting it when it came to removing mud and dust from the floor.  We picked up a steam mop a couple of months ago and I absolutely love it.  It uses plain old water and comes with two pads that you can just throw in the washing machine once you’ve used them.  Plus, when I wash them with fabric softener, the scent after mopping the floors is so nice!

5. Drying Jacket

Sticking to the whole Wet Dog theme, here’s a great product tip we picked up from a couple of fellow Golden Retriever owners we bumped into on Barry Island.  If you’re fed up of trying to quickly throw a towel over your dog before they shake water and mud up your walls, then you need one of these babies.  Drying Jackets are not only hilarious (they’re like hoodies for dogs), but they work like a dressing gown.  You put them on when they’re wet and the fabric absorbs all the water in their fur, but more importantly, when they shake off, it catches everything.  Bungle loves his, in the winter he loves falling asleep in it.

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6. Treat Dispensing Toys

Bungle’s got plenty of toys that he loves (and loves destroying – like the squeaky lion that he’s slowly balding and the duck that he’s decapitated several times…), but none are more useful than the ones that keep him busy!  We’ve got a Kong that I stuff with yoghurt, banana and cheese and then freeze, and a ball that releases treats gradually, but my favourite one has to be this snake toy I picked up in Home Bargains.  Taped up cereal boxes full of treats also do the trick (as long as you don’t mind clearing up soggy bits of cardboard afterwards…!).



7. The Right Collar and Lead

This is one that we’re still trying to work out!  We’ve tried so many different types of lead and Bungle seems to be stronger than all of them.  We started off with a harness, but that didn’t work and it only seemed to make him stronger (we still use the harness when we’re out and about and in the car, but not while walking)Then we tried extendable leads, and he snapped the whole lot – even the super strong ones.  That was fun!  And then we tried a super strong bungee lead… which again, he snapped.  He actually broke the metal clasp.  So… we moved on to a Halti which loops around the snout and is supposed to stop dogs from pulling.  Basically whenever Bungle tries to pull us across the street to say hello to a dog/human/cat/squirrel/moving leaf that he’s spotted, it pulls his face to the side and prevents most of the pulling.  It worked to begin with, but Bungle’s got a strong neck and seems to have worked out a way around it – to everyone’s surprise.  So next we’re moving on to something similar called a Canny Collar which pulls his nose up when he pulls instead of to the side.

8. Pet Nanny Cam

I know, it sounds ridiculous – but stick with me on this one!  Honestly, it hadn’t even occurred to us to buy a nanny cam for Bungle, but my Mum and Dad were thinking five steps ahead of us (parents, they think they’re so smart… and they are!) when they bought it as a Christmas Present.  It’s basically a live camera that you can tune into through WiFi at any time via an app on your phone.  We installed it in our kitchen on top of our extractor fan and were absolutely amazed at the quality, even at night.  It gives us peace of mind whenever we leave Bungle on his own; when we’re out and about we can tune in and see what he’s up to (/see what he’s destroying).  Now we don’t feel like we have to race back.  There are loads of brands out there, but we’ve got this one.

9. Puppy Pads, Stain Remover & Wet Wipes

Bungle rarely has an accident inside these days, but we still use all the toilet training bits and bobs we picked up in the beginning pretty much every day.  Wet Wipes are always handy for cleaning paws and ears, and Puppy Pads are great to put on the door mat in the winter to dry off wet paws (the largest and cheapest puppy pads can be found at Home Bargains 😉 ).  A good Stain Remover is a MUST.  This one is our go-to; not only did it completely remove a massive diarrhea poop stain from a pale carpet without trace (Bungle’s allergic to chicken and we definitely found that one out the hard way), but it’s also a must-have for toilet training as it blasts urine stains, gets rid of the odour and prevents repeat marking.

10. Travel Water Bowl

Cafes and outdoor spaces around town are becoming more dog friendly these days, but you just can’t guarantee you’re going to come across a water bowl when you’re out and about.  We picked up this travel bottle which comes with a attached plastic trough for easy water breaks on the go.  It is a bit clunky and I’m sure there are more compact versions, but this one works well for us.

Dog owners, what are your holy grail items?  What’s your dog’s favourite toy?  Let me know! 🙂

*This post contains affiliate links.  To find out what that means, click here.

Cardiff Christmas Shopping Guide

Happy December 1st!  It finally feels like Christmas is on its way, and I LOVE Cardiff at Christmas.  I popped in last week for my first bit of festive shopping and now I’m all excited for Christmas – bring on the Mince Pies, Queen’s Speech and Brussell Sprouts please!  It’s hands down my favourite time of year to potter around town (even if you’ve got to be up at the crack of dawn to have any hope of getting a parking space… pfft!).  The arcades suddenly look like something out of Harry Potter and the smell of bratwurst burning can only ever be a wonderful thing.  I put together a little Christmas Shopping Guide like this full of my favourite places in Cardiff to prowl for gifts last year, but here’s the new and improved edition! 🙂

Homeware & Gifts

Flying Tiger (St Davids Centre)

Perfect for: Quirky homeware, stationary and stocking fillers.  Tiger is one of my favourite places to hit if I’m having people over because they’ve always got the best (and cheapest!) party supplies.  When it comes to banners, cake decorations, candles, napkins and nick nacks Tiger is the place to go, and at the moment they’ve got some great Christmas themed decorations and party bits and bobs.

Illustrate (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: Graphic prints, T Shirts and artwork.  Sunny and I absolutely love Illustrate’s geometric animal prints – we’ve got a whole gallery of them!

Scribbler (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: Quirky cards and stocking fillers!

Nest (Heol-y-Deri, Rhiwbina)

Perfect for: Beautiful cosy homeware and gifts. 🙂

The Joke Shop (24, High Street Arcade)

Perfect for: Fancy Dress Costumes and practical jokes.  My brother and I used to love hitting up the joke shop when we were kids – it’s perfect if you’re planning a fancy dress night out at Christmas, or you’ve got pranks planned around the Christmas dinner table, or for fun stocking fillers.

Home byKirsty (16, Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Scandi-style homeware and stationary.  Awarded best new business in the 2015 Cardiff Life Awards, Home byKirsty showcases statement pieces like lights, cushions, mugs and other accessories for the home.  Definitely worth a look if you’re looking to buy a present for someone who’s just moved house!

Cardiff Outdoor Christmas Market (The Hayes)

Perfect for: Unique handmade gifts, artwork and food.  If there’s someone on your gift list that’s impossible to buy for and you’re tearing your hair out over them then a stroll around the stalls should do the trick.  I took my friend Missy there the other day and she bought a lovely clock made from a melted down bottle of Bombay Sapphire (GiftGlass), and then Sunny and I treated ourselves to a few prints we liked for the house from Illustrate.  You can find a directory of all this year’s stalls here.

Cardiff Indoor (Central) Market (St Mary Street)

Perfect for: Foodie gifts (welshcakes!) and vegetables for Christmas dinner, homeware, sewing and crafty gifts, vinyl records.

Forbidden Planet (Duke Street)

Perfect for: Comic books, cult action figures and collectibles.  If you’ve got a Sheldon Cooper to buy for then you’ll already know about Forbidden Planet and are probably a frequent visitor. 🙂

Oliver Bonas (St David’s 2 – The Hayes)

Perfect for: I recently told my mother that I would happily live in an Oliver Bonas store.  Bright and colourful shop offering quirky homeware and gifts – also fashion and accesories.  I wrote a whole post about it here.

The Pen & Paper (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: Pens and Paper!  The best place to go for ink, card, pens, notebooks and diaries.

Kitchens Cookshop (High Street – castle end of St Mary Street)

Perfect for: Everything kitchen, cooking and baking related.  Guaranteed if I get a strange utensil or quirky cooking-related item from my Mum at Christmas time (and I always do!) then this is the shop it’s most likely come from.

Pad Deco (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for:Beautiful and quirky handmade interiors and homeware.

Rules of Play (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Board games, Role Playing Games etc.

Castle Emporium (Womanby Street)

Perfect for: Market full of independent retailers.

*If Online Shopping’s your gig, check out these fab Welsh Makers and Brands with online stores.

Beauty

*Boots can be found in St David’s Centre, while most major brands can be tracked down in Debenhams and John Lewis (St David’s).

Miss Patisserie (7, High Street Arcade) Available Online (and in most Boots stores)

Perfect for: Handmade Cosmetics, Bath Bombs, Candles. Tucked away in one of the Victorian Arcades (just off St John Street) Miss Patisserie is my go-to if I’ve got a pamper session planned – their bath balls are the bomb-diggity (much slower to fizzle out than, y’know, that *other* highstreet handmade cosmetics brand, and they create beautiful tie-dye swirls in the tub).  All their products are handmade, vegan and cruelty free and downright gorgeous.

Neal’s Yard Remedies (Morgan Quarter)

Perfect for: Natural Remedies; I think you’d be hard pressed to find a Mama who isn’t a big fan of their soothing hand lotions.

Jo Malone (St David’s 2 – Hayes side)

Perfect for: Personalised high-end perfume and beauty.

L’Occitane (St David’s 2)

Perfect for: Provencial Beauty products and gift sets.

Kiehl’s (St David’s 2)

Perfect for: Cult skincare products for men and women (I can’t rave more about their Midnight Recovery Oil).

Fashion & Jewellery

*Most of the big stores can be found dotted between Queen Street and The Hayes, with the majority of big names in St David’s 2.  For independents, check The Arcades.

Hobos (High Street Arcade)

Perfect for: Vintage and secondhand fashion.

Two Seasons (Queens Arcade)

Perfect for: Ski, skate and surf shop selling main brands of clothing and equipment for adults and kids.

Urban Outfitters (The Hayes)

Perfect for: Quirky fashion with a vintage feel, but their homeware and gift section is where you want to be this time of year… 😉

Blue Banana (Queen Street)

Perfect for: Alternative fashion and jewellery (my one stop shop circa 2004 when I had pink hair…).

Blue Honey Vintage (High Street Arcade)

Perfect for: One of a kind vintage pieces.

Kiti Cymru (Pontcanna Mews, King’s Road)

Perfect for: Fashion boutique in Pontcanna with carefully curated fashion from brands such as Lily & Lionel, Tatty Devine and Traffic People.

Food & Drink

Wally’s Delicatessen (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: Foodie gifts.  Wally’s has its own unique aroma, you’ll smell the spices and cured meat long before you step inside.  It’s definitely the place to go if you’re looking for things to go into a Christmas hamper as well as hot sauces, biscuits, chocolates, cheeses, pannettone and Christmas pudding.

Wally’s Drinks (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Wines, drinks and spirits.  I was strolling through Castle Arcade the other day and stumbled across this new (new to me anyway!) branch of Wally’s.  Perfect if you’re looking to gift some quirky drinks or liquors, or stock up for New Year’s Eve!

Vom Fass (High Street Arcade)

Perfect for: Specialist Oils and Spirits.

Bean Freaks (St Mary’s Street)

Perfect for: Natural foods, remedies and beauty products.

Simply V (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Vegan groceries, toiletries and clothing.

Madame Fromage (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Cheesy gifts, literally!  Specialty cheeses and hampers.

Pontcanna Market (King’s Road Yard, Pontcanna)

Perfect for: Worth venturing out of the city centre for their Saturday Farmer’s Market (9.30am – 2pm), and on the first three Sundays in December they’re hosting a Christmas Craft Fair (9am – 3pm).

Books & Music

Spillers (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: CDs and Vinyl.  The world’s oldest record shop and a Cardiff institution.  ‘Nuff said.

Cranes (High Street – castle end of St Mary Street)

Perfect for: Gifts for musicians.  Cranes is the Mecca for Cardiff Musicians and the place to go to buy instruments and accessories.

Troutmark Books (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Lovely secondhand book store tucked away in Castle Arcade.

Welsh-themed Gifts

Bodlon (Yr Hen Lyfrgell, The Hayes – and also 12 Park Road, Whitchurch)

Perfect for: Welsh-themed gifts.  Beautiful homeware, welsh language books, prints and stationary by welsh artists, toys and locally produced chocolates and alcohol.  They’ve also got some beautiful tree ornaments and decorations at the moment.

Castle Welsh Crafts (Castle Street – opposite Cardiff Castle)

Perfect for: Welsh themed gifts, love spoons, slate and souvenirs.  Castle Crafts has been around for donkey’s years and it’s no wonder because it’s the best place to go for all things Wales – especially love spoons.

Shop Rugby (Duke Street)

Perfect for: Rugby Shirts and Kit as well as Welsh themed gifts.

Pitstops

Because all that Christmas Shopping is nackering!  It’s nice to have somewhere to go for coffee and a snack!

Barker Tea House (High Street Arcade)

Nata & Co (Castle Arcade)

Gin & Juice (Castle Arcade) – for something stronger… 😉

Crumb’s (Morgan Arcade)

Nine Yards (Duke Street Arcade)

The Plan (Morgan Arcade)

Hard Lines (Cardiff Indoor Market and Castle Emporium)

Llaeth a Siwgr (Yr Hen Llyfrgell)

Uncommon Ground (Morgan Arcade)

Big Moose Coffee (Frederick Street) tucked away between Boots and Primark 😉

The New York Deli (High Street Arcade)

The Grazing Shed Burgers (Morgan Quarter)

If you’ve got any Cardiff Christmas Shopping suggestions then I’d love to hear them – I’m always discovering new favourites! 🙂

 

The Secret Garden

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll probably have noticed me complaining about spending my weekends digging holes and getting mud just about everywhere.  See, I’m in the middle of turning the mud behind my house into something that’s supposed to look like a garden.  It’s been tough and there have been tears (especially when we spent a whole Sunday digging trenches for a border on either side onto to see them turn into mud baths when it rained the following Monday…).  But I’m looking forward to the moment when the grass goes down and we can actually get planting.

Last weekend I went up to the Secret Garden near Usk to get some garden inspo.  Honestly?  It seemed a bit far to go just for any old “garden centre” – but it was lovely 🙂