And remember - if it's a hot drink, it doesn't really count as a drink. So help yourself.
For the more mentally mature among you, their perfume and products are gorgeous classics, and they make the most wonderful gifts. I adore Penhaligon's, and will be reviewing their lovely Jazz Age inspired scent, Juniper Sling, next week. I may go crazy and do a whole twenties themed weekend. Prepare yourselves.
I’m afraid I’ve had to suspend this week’s regular posts due to holiday bustle and the nineteen tiny puncture wounds in my hand. Since I still don’t have a manservant/butler to make me soothing cups of tea and type for me when I’m wounded, things got a little backed up. But I’m back now, and I really, really could use a getaway. You?
I always say when things get rough, go to the Greek Isles. I quite fancy the look of this beautiful stone cottage set on a wooded hillside on the quiet north of Kefalonia, overlooking wild fields, forests and the brilliant blue Ionian sea below. The perfect spot for a couple of divinely peaceful weeks (or months). I love the wildness and seclusion of the setting, but there’s nothing rustic about the beautifully whitewashed interiors and sun-soaked terraces. The kitchen is particularly luxurious, though since I plan on living entirely on grapes, cheese and wine, I probably won’t be using it much.
A long walk through the surrounding forest takes you to pristine beaches or to the tiny hamlet of Markandonata, which has a small taverna and market for stocking up on cheeses and such. I’m getting giddy just thinking about the incredible flora and fauna I’d encounter on these walks through the fragrant forest - and the tepid turquoise water which I'd bob lazily in all day. There is a lovely pool on the terrace should you tire of bathing in the sea, but that’s unlikely, especially if there’s any phosphorescent dolphins.
Never had we seen so many fireflies congregated in one spot; they flicked through the trees in swarms, they crawled on the grass, the bushes and the olive trunks, they drifted in swarms over our heads and landed on the rugs, like green embers. Glittering streams of them flew out over the bay, swirling over the water, and then, right on cue, the porpoises appeared, swimming in line into the bay, rocking rhythmically through the water, their backs as if painted with phosphorous. In the centre of the bay they swam around, diving and rolling occasionally leaping high in the air and falling back into a conflagration of light. With the fireflies above and the illuminated porpoises below it was a fantastic sight. We could even see the luminous trails beneath the surface where the porpoises swam in fiery patterns across the sandy bottom, and when they leapt high in the air the drops of emerald glowing water flicked from them, and you could not tell if it was phosphorescence or fireflies you were looking at.
It's makeup set season out there. Or are they called makeup kits? Regardless, there's a lot of choices, and it can be a bit scary bananas to wade through all the duds to find the good ones. I have a theory that all the ill-advised colors that don't sell during the year are saved up for the gift sets (that's what they're called!) - they're always trying to sneak a maroon eyeshadow or brown lipstick in there some way or another, and in the past I've tended to steer clear.
Thankfully, that reign of terror seems to have abated - there's a bunch of cute and well chosen kits this holiday season, and they're about as easy and stress free a gift as you'll find for the girls on your list.....
My favorite kit of the season is the Make Up For Ever Wild and Chic Best Of Collection, which is quite a mouthful, but worth it. It would suit my best friend, my sister, my mother and my boss. Quite a broad group. It's a smart selection of MUFE's best-selling items, in the perfect neutral shades, for a nicely discounted price. I was lucky enough to be able to try all the products out, and most I'll buy again separately -which is bad for my wallet, but bodes well for their quality.
The kit includes:
A full sized tube of Smoky Lash mascara in black. I tried this, it clumped and felt dry, and I almost threw it over my shoulder with a cry of "not another rubbish mascara!" This was entirely unwarranted. If you wipe excess product off the brush, it creates thick, separated, fluttery lashes in the deepest black, and holds a curl beautifully. So don't make snap judgements, and always wipe the brush.
A full sized pot of Aqua Cream eye shadow in shade #13 - a lovely neutral rose gold, that's shimmery but not garish, and doesn't budge once it's set. Blend quickly! Also a fab primer - sets powder shadow like nobody's business.
A full sized Lab Shine Lipgloss in shade S4, a shimmery peachy pink. I'm not really a lipgloss girl. It makes me feel like I'm 14 (lipgloss was the shit when I was 14, ranking only behind butterfly hair clips and visible bra straps). Also, my hair always gets stuck in it. Somehow this one has drawn me back into the fold. It's nice and sticky, shimmery but not sparkly, and is the perfect neutral - something about the shade also makes green eyes look really green, which is nice. If you have green eyes.
A travel sized (read: mini) Aqua Eyes eyeliner in Mat Black - I don't like how they've taken liberties with the spelling of matte, but otherwise this is one of the softest, smoothest liners I've ever used. I'm a kohl girl myself, but this is so nice that I've found myself drawing on the back of my hand with it, just to feel how soft it is. Which is wasteful, and strange.
A travel size HD Microfinish Powder - I don't really use powder, so I'm not the greatest judge of this, but feels like silk on the skin, and seems to smooth and blur imperfections without looking overly matte - it's also universally beloved by makeup artists, and the little jar will last a good long time.
A travel size HD Microperfecting Primer - one of the most popular primers on the market, it's light and fresh feeling, and a good addition anybody's routine - the tube should last at least a couple of months, and might even get me to start wearing primer. Maybe.
So there you have it - I name Make Up For Ever's Wild and Chic Best Of Collection the perfect holiday set - nice colors, useful products, excellent formulas, good value - it's my favorite this season, and hopefully will remain available year 'round. Pick it up online or in person at Sephora, and see if you can actually get it wrapped and given as a gift, or if you end up keeping it for yourself. I won't judge you either way.
Have someone on your list this would suit perfectly? Or is there another gift set you have your eye on? Tell me all about it below!
(This product was a PR sample. MUFE is cruelty free:)
Duchess Marden is a small, lovingly crafted beauty line that focuses on high-quality, natural skincare - luxurious European-style formulas free of petrochemicals, parabens and silicones. I had the opportunity to try out most of the line, and came away completely enamored with all of it, and am trying not to write an overly giddy review - the elegant bottles, the soft, natural rose scent, the gentle but effective products! Rosa Damascena is the base of the line - prized for centuries as for it's use in beauty and scent, huge bundles of petals are gathered by hand and steamed in copper kettles, releasing the highest quality oils and extracts. Peruse the rest of the line on the Duchess Marden website, or at Anthropologie - my birthday is coming up this month, and I'll be very much hoping for some of these pretty little bottles to add to my vanity. HINT. Here are my top four favorites.......
Damascena Creme Cleanser - I am something of a connoisseur of cream cleansers, thinking as I do that they are god's gift to skincare. While I have several favorites, some a bit cheaper, this is my top pick for sheer quality - it's rich and emollient enough to remove even the heaviest makeup, and leaves skin deeply clean, glowing and moisturized. Cleansing heaven to use with a muslin cloth.
Damascena Pure Rose Water - while there's lots of choices out there when it comes to great facial tonics/sprays/toners, this has to be one of the most gentle and soothing - a mixture of pure damask rose oil, rose water and honeysuckle extract leaves the skin smooth and clean, and sets makeup beautifully. Damascena Hydrating Masque - my usual experience with hydrating masks is that they feel lovely on, but do absolutely nothing for my skin afterward. This cool, aloe-based gel bucks the trend, soothing and hydrating immediately, and leaving skin feeling plumped and calm afterwards - I use it when my skin is particularly irritated or dry feeling, and leave it on for a while in the bath - a luxury product to be sure, but a something that I would very much like to keep on hand in my dream beauty arsenal.
Damascena Face Creme - rich and creamy without feeling at all heavy or oily, this is one of the most luxuriously simple moisturizers I've ever used - and I think it's actually quite a good value for the amount you get. If you love Dr Hauschka's Rose Cream, try this - I think it's even better - smoother, more whipped in texture, it sinks in quicker and leaves a lovely canvas for makeup, and is gentler on sensitive skin. Absolutely divine.
The bottom line for me is that most skin, including mine, really loves this line. I often get distracted by flashy labels and multi-tasking wonder products, but get the best results from simple, extremely high quality ingredients that comfort and protect fragile skin - pure, natural luxury like Duchess Marden.
photo via pinterest
(products were very kindly sent as PR samples)
Much as I would prefer a real tiny little white owl in my tree for Xmas, I suppose I could accept this Fluffy Owl Ornament instead. I shall name it Sven, and carry it around in my handbag.
Are you (like me) hopeless at applying anything more difficult than mascara and lipgloss? Watch Lisa Eldridge's charming and idiot-proof videos - I've wasted a lot of time this week, watching smokey eye and contouring tutorials when I should have been working. Also, she's my new girl crush. Let's be pals Lisa! You can do the makeup, and I'll make the drinks.
Stumped for gift ideas? How could anyone not LOVE a pretty package from Lush?
Le Blow's brilliant guide to surviving Christmas - including how to expertly remove unwanted carollers with a toy gun.
Texts from Avonlea - remember Avonlea? We were OBSESSED in my household.I'm pretty sure I wore a pinafore. Often. Is it any wonder the way turned out?
Be a doll and like The Blossom Shed on Facebook - it needs some friends.
Now if you'll excuse me, there's a hot water bottle and a Downton Abbey rerun with my name on it. See you Monday with some new reviews - there's scents, skincare and makeup galore on the way, xoxo.
I have worries when it comes to this weekly posting. I feel that I should skip it sometimes, as we'll all turn into lushes and never get anything done - with the holidays looming it seems like the drinking should be saved for when we really need it. Then the other part of me pictures a few, pitiful readers, waiting patiently for their weekly cocktail in vain, and I feel their disappointment and despair. So what do you think - can you manage a drinks recipe every fortnight, or do you need one every week to muddle through?
photos via Hi C and Domestic Sluttery.
I know that this sort of thing can go terribly wrong, and that gingham and ruffles are rarely the stuff of high fashion. Frankly, they're more often seen in a saloon. I don't care. I think every tiny detail of this Luisa Beccaria gingham dress is Bardot-esque perfection. I'm just going to stare at it for hours, and then file it away with all the other Beccaria fairytale confections that I've fallen in love with over the years. One day, dammit. One day.
Do you have a particular item/line that you file in your "when-I'm-filthy-rich-and-living-in-my-french-country-manor" plans?