Monday, 13 November 2017

The Ciate Snow Globe Nail Polish Collection

I change my nail polish up waaaay too often as a result of finally being allowed to wear the stuff after a good five years of restrictions, and as such I've had to really limit myself as to how much I can buy each month to stop myself from going overboard. And normally, that limit is pretty harsh - one bottle a month is my absolute maximum! However, when I saw Ciate's pretty Christmas launch, I decided that I could make a little bit of an exception this month.

 The collection features six mini nail polishes - three of which are exclusives - as well as a cute little pink glittery nail file.

  It wouldn't be a very useful nail polish post if I didn't go through and show you what each one looked like, so let's take a look at each one individually! Before I get started though, apologies for the terrible lighting in these - my camera was dying while I was taking these so I didn't realise quite how badly the light was coming out, oops.

 First up, we have Goal Digger. This is one of the colours I was the most excited about as I've seen plenty of swatches of this beautiful colour and so was feeling very optimistic about it.

And here it is on! This is an absolutely lovely colour. I'm not actually entirely sure what colour I would describe it as - from the name you'd assume gold, but I never feel that that's quite right. It's shimmery and very pretty and versatile, and after trying all of them on is the very first one I decided to wear out. I love it!

 Next up we have Main Attraction. I wasn't sure on this one based on the bottle - out of all of the polishes, this is probably the one that I was initially the least interested in.

 However, I was wrong! This is a really pretty shade, and actually the one that I'm wearing right now. The colour comes out a little more purple than you'd expect based on the bottle but is again a very lovely and wearable colour and works fantastically as an autumn shade.

 Spoiler alert - this is my first disappointment! This is Bright Lights, and is actually the main reason I decided to purchase this set. The promotional photos of this all make it look like an amazing, beautiful mix of colours, however in reality what you get is...

 Yeah. Not quite how the photos make it seem. The promos for this just didn't make it obvious it's really just an overlay, and if they had done I probably honestly wouldn't have actually bought this set. I don't wear polishes like this, as even after just doing this one nail it took so long to get all the specs off my hand!

 Next up we have Big City. I wasn't sure on how I'd feel about this shade as it is VERY dark, which isn't normally my thing.

 However, on, this colour is much nicer than I had first anticipated. It's a nice purple shade with some glitter to it, rather than the black that it looks in the bottle. It's an interesting shade and I actually really like how it looks and how it catches the light. It still is very dark though, and I reluctantly took it off before going to work as I'm not quite sure that this is one I can get away with!

 Next up we have Cookies & Cream. This is another of the shades that I didn't have much interest in, as I thought it just looked a bit bland.

 However - I was again wrong! This IS a plain shade, but that doesn't make it a bad one. The name suits it perfectly, and it's a lovely little shade. By the way, I feel the need to defend myself here - it DEFINITELY didn't look that badly applied in person, I don't know what on earth has happened here!

 Our final shade is Antique Brooch, and this was another disappointment to me. The bottle just looked so INTERESTING, but I found the actual colour just doesn't seem to work that well. The polish in the photo has three layers on, and I still didn't think it looked any good. The sequiny bits don't complement the colour very well and it just looks odd together - but in an accidental way, like you made a bad mixture and then couldn't be bothered to take it off rather than something that looks deliberate.

Here's a size comparison between the mini pots and the full size pots, if you're interested!

Overall, I have mixed reviews of this set. I have to be honest and say I'm a little disappointed in it, as the shades I was most interested in just didn't work out the way I'd wanted them to. However, the polishes still apply very well (I find the brush in these mini ones is a bit rubbish though) and are very long lasting - mine average six days with no chips at all, and even then they may last longer but I want a change of colour! Overall I do still feel that it was worth the price, as the colours that I DO like would have cost more to purchase individually than the whole set did, but I do feel a little disappointed as a whole. They are still great quality and I'll continue to buy Ciate products, but next time I think I'll stick to my one colour policy!

The set costs £25 and is available from M&S, here!

Friday, 10 November 2017

Hotel Chocolat's Chocolate Tasting Club Review

I was recently sent this delicious Classic box from Hotel Chocolat's Tasting Club, and I thought it was about time I told you all about it!

 But before I get on to the specifics of the box, let me just throw in a mention for these lovely little things! This bag of Gemstones were included in the delivery and they are absolutely delicious. I'd not seen these before so they were completely new to me, but they were a hit with everyone I allowed to take a teeny sample of! They are a mix of white and dark chocolate but are really nice to everybody, including people like me who don't like dark chocolate - and to friends who are the opposite and for some reason can't stand white!

  Anyway, let's get on to the box.

 First of all, what is the Tasting Club? Well, that is very easy to explain! It's a monthly box of delicious Hotel Chocolat goodies sent out to you, generally including a mix of chocolates that aren't yet available in store.

  I was quite a long time subscriber to the club, although the box I normally went with was what is now their Mellow box, which was exclusively chocolates without any alcohol in. This one also had the bonus that you get a big chocolate slab in each box as well! One of the reasons I really enjoyed the boxes is that you got some really creative and interesting chocolates in the mix that you weren't always sure how to feel about but certainly added to the experience! I can't honestly remember why I stopped subscribing in the first place, but I was receiving my boxes for well over a year!

 This time around though, Hotel Chocolat very kindly sent me their Classic box. Unsurprisingly, this is their most popular box, and includes a little bit of everything - a mix of milk chocolates, dark chocolates, and - unfortunately! - alcoholic chocolates.

 One of my favourites within this box was the Banofee Pie. I was on my own with this choice of favourite as no one else could quite understand why I was willingly eating a chocolate with banana in it, but I really liked it! It was certainly an unusual flavour and I probably wouldn't make a habit of eating them too often, but I thought it was delicious. For a more classic taste, I also really enjoyed the Supermilk Caesar and of course, the Caramel Chocolate Pot is always going to be one of the winners. Obviously I didn't eat the alcohol based ones, but I'm informed that they were good too!

 If you'd like to subscribe, head over to this page! The normal price for a box is £22.95, but your first box is £9.95 and includes a free gift in the form of those lovely gemstones I mentioned at the top of this post!

 Would I recommend subscribing? If you love Hotel Chocolat and are particularly fond of the idea of having much more chocolate in your life, then yes, of course! As mentioned already, I was a subscriber for well over a year and I don't think I ever received a box that disappointed me.


Monday, 16 October 2017

A Trip to Costa Rica: Monteverde & Quepos

 Our next stop was Monteverde, one of the places I was most looking forward to visiting. You see, I LOVE cloud forests. Mindo in Ecuador is one of my absolute favourite places, and I couldn't wait to get exploring and to show Chris his first one.

 It turns out that what Monteverde does very well, is food. We ate our first meal here at the Orchid Coffee Shop and it was SO GOOD. I loved my lunch. They had these amazing looking desserts as well that sadly we did not get to try, as every other time we went back they had been replaced with far more boring looking things! Admittedly, probably still delicious, but we had our heart set on the brightly coloured dishes we'd seen on our first day.

 We stayed at the Jaguarundi lodge, which would have been perfect. Would have been. The cabin itself was great, it was a good size and we loved that it was within the cloud forest as it meant we saw all sorts of animals (including one giant mammal that terrified us and we still don't know what it was. We were specifically out looking for frogs when this thing ran at us, and thus ended our attempts to find nature) however it did have it's downfalls. It's very hilly and the cloud forest rains a lot, meaning even in our hiking shoes it was slippery and hard work. There also weren't any curtains, which is fine if you don't struggle with sleeping in the light but I DEFINITELY do, and there was a light just outside our window that never went off. Still a nice lodge that I'd recommend, though.

 Unfortunately our time in Monteverde was not all we'd hoped for. The first day we were there it rained and thundered literally the entire day, meaning we didn't have anywhere near as much time as we needed to do what we wanted. The national parks in Costa Rica all close at 4pm so we didn't get the chance to squeeze them all in, and it was at around this point that we were both getting a bit ill (too much fruit and beans!) and were a bit achey from the altitude. A real shame as Monteverde was beautiful!

 What we did do, however, was go zip lining. There are plenty of options in Monteverde if zip lining is what you want to do, but we went with 100% Aventura who boast the longest line in Latin America. And at over 2km, it really is long! It comprises 9 lines including 3 really long ones - two of which you do in superman style! I've done the superman lines before in Ecuador but for some reason that wasn't anywhere near as scary as this one was. It is quite pricey and you are rushed through them- literally, you'll get off one line and be attached to another one almost immediately. It's a lot of fun though, and if you enjoy the adrenaline I do suggest you do one in your time here.

What you will definitely see a lot of is hummingbirds! And if you're struggling to get a photo, head to the gallery just outside of the entrance to Monteverde Cloud Forest. You'll find lots of hummingbird feeders there, and it's free to visit!

 And yes, I do recommend you go to Monteverde! However, you should definitely spend more time here than we did. We had two nights here, and it wasn't enough. We were completely rained out on one of the days, and it does rain A LOT here. I'd suggest at least three nights here, and four if you'd like to visit the other cloud forest as well. There are lots and lots of hiking opportunities here and wildlife is everywhere, so do maximise your time here if walking is something you're interested in.

 For our final night, we headed to just outside of Quepos, where we stayed in La Palapa EcoLodge. This was a lovely lodge with lots to explore and lots of animals - we were greeted by a very large black lizard who had apparently been hiding inside of my pillow! Was not expecting to have him launch out at me when I picked the pillow up to move it over a bit.

 Nearby is the Manuel Antonio National Park, and its beaches filled with overly aggressive monkeys. We saw lots of parrots in the area, but sadly no toucan.

 Quepos itself is a little depressing. I just didn't like the vibe of the place, and it was a bit of a disappointment. In fact, the only reason I'm even mentioning Quepos to you as a suggestion, is because it's where we found our absolute favourite meal of the entire trip at Sun Rice, a little Japanese restaurant in the marina. This place was AMAZING, it wasn't expensive, and I could have eaten my bowl of salmon, avocado and mango rice every day of that trip and still have been happy.

Should you visit Quepos? Well, probably not for too long. I do suggest two nights here if you'd like to spend a day visiting Manuel Antonio, but otherwise the area lacked the charm and character that I found throughout the rest of Costa Rica.

  Sadly, this marked our last stop before returning back to San Jose and flying back home! Next week I'll be putting up a more general guide to Costa Rica that I hope will be helpful if you're thinking about visiting but not too sure on the specifics just yet.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig