Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Winter Thirst

Something happens when you're in your mid-twenties and it feels like it's life changing. The light bulb goes on and you think "finally, I'm adulting."

It happened to me when I realised that I'd bought a spare bottle of makeup remover and kept it behind the one I was using. It meant a deep sigh of relief when I'd finished the old bottle midway through removing my makeup. I now also hoard toilet roll so I never run out. Getting into an 'adult' routine is so satisfying, and something my mother would be proud of.

One of the harder 'adult' routines I struggled to get in to was a skin care routine. It sounds so simple but it's genuinely life changing once you get into the swing of all things skincare. 
I never gave much thought really to what I was putting on my face in terms of really taking care of it. I made sure that my products contained some SPF, made sure to always wear suncream when I was out in the sun and that I had a moisturiser to hand. That was about it. I dabbled with exfoliator and toner but never really got the hang of it.

Well enter Kiehl's. Drumroll please.

In winter my skin likes to kick up a fuss and doesn't do what it normally does in the warmer months. The heating and the weather get to it. Teamed with the hormonal changes that us ladies go through, I'd really had enough of it this year.

But then a few weeks ago I went to a Kiehl's event, had my skin tested and had products recommended especially for me which were then used on my face as part of a facial.

The facial really changed my life, my skin was GLOWING for days after and now I have this whole skincare routine nailed. Adult points achieved! My skin was even tested for hydration levels during the facial, my results were shocking so I'm trying to chug as much water as I can.

At Kiehl's the consultants will ask you before the consultation what your 'skin aims' are. My dream is to have a clear and glowing complexion. Whilst I know a lot of that is also down to diet (sigh), I know now that the right products can set me up nicely.

I was recommended the Hydro-Plumpling Re Texturising Concentrate (no photo included in this post because I'm a poor excuse of a blogger) and I was told to use it after cleansing my face. I've been using the concentrate before I moisturise as it's designed to really help target early fine lines, and it helps the skin to soak up all that moisturiser and get through the skin's barrier. This really works wonders for me and my skin just soaks this up.

I wrap things up in the morning by using the famous Ultra Facial Moisturiser and two drops of the Daily Reviving Concentrate. Yes, you've read that right - oil. I wasn't convinced about putting oil on my face in the day but this stuff is the bee's knees. It goes on really nicely and doesn't feel sticky. It also acts as an amazing primer and keeps my make up looking fresher than ever before. I have the tiny sample version of this, and once it runs out I will have a little sob before purchasing the full size.

In the evening I use the Midnight Recovery Concentrate instead. The lavender tones in those are perfect for bed time and really helps relax you. Again my skin just loves this stuff and soaks it up like a sponge. I've noticed it's worked on sorting out the redness that my skin can get in winter and it feels really luxurious.  The price might put you off but you only need two to three drops of this to go a long way, so the bottle will last you a long time.  

Full disclosure because I realise this post almost sounds too good to be true.  The event I went to was ticketed but the cost of the ticket was redeemable on products. We also received a very generous 20% off and received a few samples but I purchased the products with my own money.

I really like the branding of the Kiehl's products. There's no messing about with fancy unnecessary packaging. All of their packaging can be recycled sustainably if you drop it into their shop. 

Skincare isn't a one size fits all, having someone do a mini consultation with you is very helpful. These are free in store and let you achieve your skin care dreams. Kiehl's also do an amazing 21 day test, where if you buy a product and don't love it when you use it you can come back and return it. The amazing staff will then help find you something that does work.

Winter is all fun and that but it can get you and your skin down. So finally feeling really committed to a skincare that works for me, has got me feeling so much better.

Do you have any more Kiehl's tips to pass on to me? If so please do!

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Monday, 21 November 2016

Nina Eats - Cosy Club Cardiff

So winter is here at last. Whilst there are some people focusing on their Christmas diets (what even are these??), I'm working tirelessly on my winter insulation. 

There's something about this time of year that seems to make eating all of the comfort food within your reach perfectly acceptable. I'm not one for glitzy party dresses, bring on the knitwear and onesies. So when my friend Steph and I were invited to test out the new Cosy Club winter menu who were we to resist?

Cosy Club is beautifully located at the top of The Hayes, in the heart of St David's Shopping which makes it perfect for people watching from a safe distance. 

The decor is as the name would suggest - rather cosy. You easily feel like you could while many an hour away here. The staff are very attentive and make sure you've got everything you need in order to get settled in.

Part of their newly adapted winter menu includes some rather tasty new additions to their tapas menus. Steph and me demolished the goat's cheese and spinach croquettes that came with a nice and tangy tomato tapenade. The garlic mushrooms also went down a treat as did the pulled chicken with chorizo and crispy potatoes.

Previously when I've had tapas at the 'Loungers Group' I've found the tapas to be a little beige and flavourless but it seems they've got the hang of these now.

For mains I overshot how hungry we were going to be and insisted we also order cheesy garlic bread. This really wasn't necessary but there are some things that just seem to hit the spot and cheesy garlic bread just is one of those things.

Steph went with a delicious looking buttermilk chicken with chips and a side of coleslaw. I can confirm having tried some that the chicken was cooked perfectly and not dry, which is so easily done and can ruin a meal.

My eyes were bigger than my stomach (for once) and I ordered the mac and cheese with maple glazed bacon. I peaked during the tapas starters where I couldn't resist the bread with police oil and balsamic vinegar, so I'm not going to lie I struggled to get through this. But it was everything you want mac and cheese to be - crispy topping, nicely cooked pasta and flavoursome cheese. Definitely the perfect winter warmer.

All washed down with some cocktails (the cherry Bakewell cocktail comes highly recommended), Steph and me rolled home to pass out in front of The Apprentice. Because that's what winter is all about, good food and then lying on the couch to nap it off.

Cosy Club do lots of events, some evenings they have live music and they also show the rugby which is very important if you live in Wales (whether you want to watch or whether you just need to know when to avoid town). If you want a place with a beautiful view, value for money and a nice atmosphere then look no further. If you need even more tempting, they do delicious breakfasts too.

They also let you book you Christmas shindig with them so have a look if you're the one stuck organising the party this year.

I'm sure I'll be back before I know it!

NB: I was invited to eat at Cosy Club by St. David's but all opinions and thoughts are my own

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Saturday, 12 November 2016

Romance & Love For Beginners: Endless Singledom

Wearing: Primark jeans, charity shop jumper, Office boots, ASOS hat and Topshop sunglasses

Heading into November has me filled a little with melancholy this year.

I always love autumn and winter, I love the crisp days and the darker nights. But this year it does feel a little different, a little bleak for lack of a better word. I'm feeling restless, have itchy feet and something inside of me just doesn't feel right but I can't put my finger on it.

I've talked about my recent change of heart and that I'm giving up on dating. That's still very much true and I've felt a bit better since I've settled on remaining single. But saying that, that doesn't mean that I feel happy about that decision 100% of the time. I gave up dating because I found the whole process exhausting. What was once fun just ended up becoming disappointment after disappointment. I just didn't feel like I had any more to give.

November makes me feel a little melancholic, because it was three years ago at this time of year when my relationship with He Who Shall Not Be Named the II (you can read more about him here) really kicked into high gear. 

During a recent flat declutter I found some of the forgotten trinkets and notes from that relationship. Whilst it didn't make me feel as heart sick as it would have done a year ago it was still a little hard hitting and brought up some memories I thought I'd forgotten about. I'm hopelessly sentimental and tend to get hung up on things that I really should let go of. Sometimes it feels like the things I let go of still have my claw marks in them when I finally do let them out of my clutches. 

I am probably 98% over my ex boyfriend but something about this time of year has shaken me up a little on the inside and I can't quite put my finger on it. And whilst I'm content (most of the time) being single I'm struggling to see where and when this will end.

I'm also struggling with the fact that I feel alone in the small things. I have an amazing group of friends and have a fairly active social life. But what I struggle with is that I feel like I have to do so much by myself. 

I live alone so by virtue of that have to feed myself and take care of myself, if things break in my flat I'm the one armed with super glue or worse case scenario I'm on the phone with my loyal landlord. My parents live three time zones and hundreds of kilometres away so it's all down to me. I have to understand how the heating timer works, always have to make sure there's spare toilet roll and laundry detergent. I have to make sure that I have a step box so I can reach the fuse box when the fuse blows, or reach into the corners of my ceiling to get rid of the big scary spiders that have set up rent free camp there before setting them free from my living room window.

I do think women are put under pressure to be a 'strong independent female' and that wanting to be in a relationship and wanting a boyfriend makes you weak. In that case I'm weak and I'm okay with that. I can't be a strong independent female 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. 

I want to share some of my anxieties and worries with someone. Schlepping them around by myself is exhausting.

We're approaching the end of my second year as a single lady, I feel like I've learnt so much about myself in these last two years. I also did things I never thought I could do, like run a half marathon.

So it's not all doom and gloom and there's lots of other things in the world which I am thankful for. I'm grateful that I have amazing friends and a job that lets me pay my bills. I'm grateful that there are people in the world who are as incensed about Tump being President as me. I'm thankful that I'm healthy and that after a long break from the gym and running that I've rediscovered my love of (gently) exercising.

This weekend I'm going to let myself wallow in some self pity with an episode (or several) of Grey's Anatomy. But come the start of the new week it's time to just focus on myself and spend less time moping and instead saying 'yes' to things because you never know, the universe works in mysterious ways.

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Sunday, 6 November 2016

Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro

One thing that I didn't have the opportunity to do in Rio de Janeiro during my previous visits was go to the botanical garden. 

When I was last in Rio it was December, which is when the summer in Brazil really starts to kick into high gear. This mean that it was just far too hot to head to the amazing botanical garden. As you can see in the photos there isn't much in the way of shelter or cover from the sun so unless you want to sweat out every bit of moisture in your body, then I'd recommend heading here when it's cooler in the mornings or late afternoons.

In the first week of my holiday I had one week with just my mum and my dad, my brother's half term fell one week after my arrival. I think for him it was a blessing for him that he didn't end up having to 'endure' the garden with us. It's been on my bucket list for ages so I was glad that mum and me made the time to go. Mum is a keen gardener so it was fun to experience this with her.

The Jardim Botânico was founded in 1808 (old by Brazilian standards but possibly not so much by European ones).  There are around 6,500 species of flora throughout this massive park and the park is surrounded by the stunning natural landscape that just simply is Rio de Janeiro.  From certain parts of the park you can see the famous Christ The Redeemer statue.

The park contains more than than 6,000 different species of tropical and subtropical plants and trees, including 900 varieties of palm trees. The palm trees have grown here for hundreds of years, when you stand underneath them it's almost overwhelming. 

It's really worthwhile to make the effort and get up early to go to the park. Even though there is a cost to get into the grounds it gets very busy as it is one of the biggest attractions in Rio.

Getting there early means that at least for a little while you end up having the park all to yourself. After a while it does get a little busier and people will inevitably end up walking into your beautiful photos.

The park is also a very popular place for photoshoots. I've noticed that Brazilian people love to have their photos taken, especially couples. We saw several couples who had a professional photographer with them to commemorate their relationship in photos. I really enjoyed seeing the couples have their photos taken, a lot of them even had a suitcase with them for their outfit changes.

The garden is partially kept in order but many parts of it are allowed to grow as they please, this means it really feels organic and real. The plants climb up the mountain side and into the Atlantic Forest rising up the slopes of Corcovado. You end up feeling as if you're exploring the jungle.

The botanical garden is not only beautiful but you completely forget that you're in the middle of a city that is home to more than 6 million people. Yet despite all of the hustle and bustle outside of the park, inside it's a clam and peaceful place.

We spent a good few hours exploring but I feel as if there were large parts of it I missed out, so if I'm feeling brave then there's a chance I'll end up asking mum to take me back again.

Highly recommend you add this place to your list if you're planning to head to Rio!

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