Celebrating 35 years of Dear Zoo at London ZSL

MUCH-LOVED book Dear Zoo is turning 35 this year and to celebrate London Zoo have created a story trail for youngsters to enjoy.

It commences with a story (Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell obvs) inside a crate and I won’t spoil the surprise but it was wonderfully interactive and Rafael was enthralled by the activities. 

Following this, the kids are given a card with five or six different animals to hunt out and get a stamp to say they have seen that creature.

The zoo is already a pretty special experience but seeing it from a child’s eye makes it even more memorable! Dragging Rafa around Tiger Territory was fantastic – the multi sensory experiences were so intriguing for him. He loved the tiger paws cast into the floor, the bronze statues, the real life tigers and cubs and the metal paw where if you twist a stick, a set of claws pop  out. 

Collecting stamps was an exciting way for Rafa to see the zoo, and he loved stamping his card (dragging him away from the stamp was a problem!) 

Apparently if you collect all your stamps you get a sticker, but we didn’t get that far as Rafael tried to throw his card into the donkey enclosure…. then  used it as a colouring paper and fell asleep! 

Dear Zoo is included in your entry price and is only on from April 1-17 (so including the Easter weekend) so hurry!

Book tickets to London Zoo here

Scrubbing up for summer with Satin Lips by Mary Kay

THERE’S a definite spring feeling in the air, and I for one cannot WAIT to have a touch of sun on my skin and to unwrap from my dark cocoon. 
It feels like this winter has lasted forever! And Spring is such a lovely change of mood.
Spring also brings a change in beauty routines – starting to think more about exposed skin, favouring cream blushers over powder ones, ditching foundation for a decent BB or CC cream and digging out all my prettiest spring colours to lighten my mood like the sun.
Something I started trialling in time for Valentine’s Day was Mary Kay’s Satin Lips range. I tried their Shea Sugar Scrub and their Shea Butter Balm. Sugar scrubs seems to have come into fashion (in the midst of an anti-sugar health craze) which do exactly as you’d expect. You scrub them into your lips to remove dry skin and then lick away the sugar I presume to leave a silky smooth pout. I can’t say that they work especially well but I think they are a nice bit of fun, and would make a nice present for someone. After exfoliating your skin, you then apply the Shea Butter Balm to condition lips, which has a nice applicator and a lovely smooth texture.
Mary Kay has a lovely semi-matte gel lipstick for £13, which would make all the scrubbing and prepping worth it.

No pain no gain?

HOW far would you go for beauty perfection?
This is the question that I’ve been asking myself as I trialled Cloud 9’s Body Makeover – a cellulite treatment gel.
I’ve tried a gel like this once before when I was in a spa, and I was warned that after application it would grow to be a tad warm. Well, I STILL remember the burning heat that kept me toasty long after I left the comfort of the massage room. At the time I was pleased to have been given a little freebie. However, it’s a different kettle of fish when you are applying the gel at home every morning and night and massaging it in vigorously for five to ten minutes as recommended and then waiting for the bright red skin and burn that is all part and parcel of the process.
I tried this out for a few days, but I have to admit that in the dead of winter when no one but me and my husband see my skin, I didn’t keep the routine up. I gave up after a few days as I just couldn’t face the burn afterwards which made me slightly dizzy! If it was something that I was concerned about, or maybe more towards the summer months I would bring this back into my routine, but just at this time in my life it felt like a beauty step too far.
It’s also a fairly big time investment – 20 minutes a day to see real results, and that’s just not a commitment that I could make longer-term.
The official word is: “Body Makeover has six active ingredients to help you visibly reduce the appearance of your cellulite in only 30 days. Extract of ivy has a scientifically-proven thermogenic effect that increases skin temperature and boosts blood and lymph flow to the treated areas. It gives the skin a slight blush – which quickly disappears – and creates a warm, soothing and smoothing sensation. It’s like you can feel it working.

Body Makeover’s other ingredients – gotu kola, horse chestnut, grapeseed oil extract and vitamin E – have been specifically chosen to target all the aspects of ‘orange peel’ skin. Helping your skin feel revitalised, firmer and smoother to the touch.”

I can’t disagree with that, and I think that an anti-cellulite gel combined with vigorous massage is always going to have benefits for the aesthetics of your ‘problem’ areas.

All that glitters with Stila

I HAVEN’T stopped wearing Stila’s Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye shadow since I tried it, and it’s the only glitter product I’ve ever used that genuinely hasn’t creased or faded throughout the day.

It’s bloody fantastic.

At £23 it’s not the cheapest of glitters but it’s not the most expensive either and I’ve been searching for a product that actually delivers on its promises for … oh at least 20 years.

I plumped for Rose Gold Retro and the colour is subtle yet flattering, and I can’t rave about the pay off enough – it’s just so good! I know glitter eyeshadows should be confined to the realms of festivals, or fun nights out, but a little shimmer across the lids just lifts my mood. I’ve been thinking about make-up trends a lot lately, whether they are cyclical like fashion, and having just thrown out all my really old loose powders in favour of this product, I just can’t tell whether I’ll live to regret that decision.

Some beauty trends come back in fashion – but overall beauty is very much about moving forward, innovation and using new and updated technology and as such it’s not so cyclical as fashion.

I digress. However, if you want a brilliant kick of glitter to get you through the last of the winter nights as they turn into spring – I highly recommend this blitz of glitz from Stila.

Buy Stila’s Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye shadow for £23 here.

Back to the bullet with Mary Kay

A FEW days ago I was musing whether I would ever go back to using a bullet style lipstick after falling in love with matte liquid lipsticks so much over the last five years, but I think I’ve found a lipstick which could persuade me. 

Mary Kay’s matte lipstick has a gel formula which is moisturising yet creamy, is long-lasting and doesn’t dry out. 

Sounds too good to be true? Well, after wearing it all day I don’t think I’d stop my addiction to liquid lipsticks in favour of a bullet, but I would definitely choose this red lipstick over the hundreds I’ve trialled over the years with a more traditional formula. 

Buy Mary Kay’s semi-matte gel lipstick for £13 here. 

Creating the perfect base with Nude by Nature

NUDE by Nature are one of my favourite brands – and as someone who doesn’t favour natural or organic ranges that is quite a statement. 

This range from Australia is affordable, yet super high quality and lots of items from the brand are already some of my all-time favourites!

I’ve previously tried out their stick illuminators which come in divine shades, have a creamy texture and a great pay off once applied to the skin.

So I was really curious to try more of the range including the foundation, concealer and finishing powder. These are best applied with the corresponding brushes from the range which are silly soft and excellent to use.

While the foundation isn’t quite right for my skin (it applies much better with a brush but when applied with fingers it’s quite a thick formula that doesn’t sink in that easily – maybe I’ve been spoiled by my addiction to Laura Mercier) the concealer provides excellent coverage and the setting powder is easy to apply and fixed your base excellently.

I’m most impressed with the range of brushes – in particular the foundation and concealer brushes.

See the full Nude by Nature range here.

Lemon yellow accents for the home

DECORATING our new flat has taken a couple of weeks just due to the sheer volume of stuff that we had to unpack. 

But now we  have finally got round to getting all our junk out of boxes, we can do the fun bit which is arranging all the decorative bits that make a flat a home.

Some of new favourite bits are from Orla Kiely and Tudor Times – including Sicilian lemon-scented Reed Diffuser emblazoned with her signature motif and a patterned yellow mug which I’ve used to liven up our living room fireplace rather than hiding it away in our kitchen cupboards.

This reed diffuser is wonderfully potent, so that when I had friends around yesterday they remarked that they kept catching the scent of lemons.

I’ve decided to theme the living room grey and yellow mainly – and was lucky enough to pick up a lovely foot stool from our local designer furniture shop yesterday which has also helped to transform the room. They’d sold out of the grey one I had my eye on hours before we went into the shop, but by a stroke of luck had a beautiful lemon one tucked away in the back!

My slight obsession with cushions means that I have coordinated the living room with yellow cushions – including one this Seymour designed cushion from from Tudor Times.

See the full Tudor Times range here, and buy the Sicilian Lemon Orla Kiely Reed Diffuser here.


Where To Find Canadian-Made Wood Kitchen Tables

JUST like wall paintings and wood carvings, the furniture in a house makes a statement, and it should be one that’s unique to your tastes.

That’s why it’s important that a home owner is conscious of the furniture they purchase to fit in their home and find quality, Canadian-made goods. Not only will investing in custom wood furniture make the interior of your home look beautiful, but it’s also a sound financial decision. Handcrafted wood furniture will last much longer than premade, store-bought pieces, so it’s a decision that can save you money down the road.

One of the most important pieces of furniture in your home is the kitchen table, not to mention one that’s used everyday for all kinds of purposes. It may be the place that your family eats breakfast and dinner, it may be the place where you sit down with a book and a coffee on a Saturday morning, or where the kids do their homework. It’s the centre of your home life and a diligent multi-tasker, and it should be built to last through the ages.
The popularity of custom wood kitchen tables is on the rise because Canadian manufacturers of these tables like Woodcraft in Toronto provide their customers with the opportunity to determine exactly how their tables will be made, and there are a number of benefits to be gained:
#1 High Quality
When you buy furniture from a big box store, manufacturers try to reduce their expenses by using economies of scale, using cheaper materials, and producing as many identical items as possible. They lack craftsmanship and character and likely won’t be able to withstand much use before having to be discarded. A kitchen table takes a lot of use throughout the course of the year, as you use it to do everything from carving pumpkins and turkeys to crafts with the kids. You can optimize its durability by choosing a strong wood that doesn’t dent easily, such as oak, but if you plan to use it for your everyday needs, avoid pine, which can easily be dented. However,when you buy wood kitchen tables from Woodcraft, you are guaranteed a superior quality as they are each made individually by experienced craftsmen, and they can all be repaired and refinished.
#2 Made to Order
Relying on a custom furniture manufacturer means that you can get a piece that fits your lifestyle and your home perfectly, including the dimensions. You can select any of Woodcraft’s models and specify the material, the finish, and the dimensions, including special cuts to fit odd corners. When you buy custom, you don’t have to make compromises; it’s all about you and your home.


#3 Refinishing
While buying a custom wood kitchen table may cost more than buying one mass-produced, you will save money in the long run. Not only will it last longer than the mass-manufactured alternative, but a well-made table can also be refinished and repaired at less than the cost of a replacement, saving you and your family money in the long run. It’s a sensible financial decision that can also add some beauty to your kitchen, so check out a Canadian wood furniture maker today.

Getting ready for Valentine’s with Aldi

AHHH Valentine’s. On one hand, it’s a great excuse for a bit of romance, on the other hand it’s fraught with tension and expectations… which has oft caused me a few tears.

However, that doesn’t mean I’m not up for a bit of a party and this can be achieved on any budget! Aldi often get lauded for their brilliant range of food and drink at cost-effective prices, so I took on the (ahem… difficult) challenge of trialling their range of bubbles – just in time for Val’s Day.

We were moving house this weekend and after a day of packing, and a day of cleaning – a bottle of lovely cold Cava was just what I needed. In the fizz family you have Champagne from France, Prosecco from Italy and then Cava from Spain, which is bound to have its time in the spotlight soon.

The Cava went down surprisingly well and its sweet smooth flavour soothed my nerves after a testing couple of days. 

We cracked open the Prosecco once we’d moved house and it was delish! I drink a lot of wine and I couldn’t tell if this was a £12 bottle of fizz or a cheaper version from Aldi – and the packaging looks suitably expensive as well. 

See more from Aldi – here.

Feeling the romance with Estee Lauder

WE’RE in the middle of moving house at the moment, as well as having a toddler, so finding time for romance isn’t as easy as it once was. 

A spritz of a new perfume and a slick of a new lipstick can help even the most tired-out mama feel a million dollars again though, so to up the ante on the romance factor I picked up the Modern Muse eau de parfum from Le Rouge Gloss range, and one of the matte lipsticks.

Let me first talk about the bottle – it’s absolutely stunning in a vibrant crimson and makes even the most dull dressing table look divine.

Liquid lipsticks are perfect for Valentine’s Day as they look fabulous but you don’t have to worry about them smudging off. I wonder if there will ever be a time when I go back to the traditional bullet style lipstick, but as a former gloss addict who rarely reaches for a gloss now I admit I must be swayed by trends and new beauty technologies.

The liquid lip offering from Estée Lauder – Pure Colour Envy, I’ve trialled Fierce Beauty – is a lovely sweetheart flush of a shade in a rosey pink and isn’t too matte –  a lovely wash of colour is imparted over the lips. It’s an extremely wearable colour which I much prefer to the swathe of taupe and nude colours in super matte finishes that are seemingly trending at the moment. 

Buy Estee Lauder Modern Muse Le Rouge Gloss Eau de Parfum here for £64, and the Pure Colour Envy Liquid Lip Potion here for £20.