Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Essence Trend Edition: Hello Autumn


I love this time of year. Leaves turning brown, new boots, cosy fires, HALLOWEEN - Autumn is definitely the highlight of the year for me.

Essence have excelled themselves with their new Trend Edition - called, simply, Hello Autumn. It's strictly Limited Edition, and will be in stores at the end of September.

None of the product names have any capital letters, which is quite annoying, but here's the collection:

Eyeshadow Palette - €4.79
There are two palettes. One with brown tones, and one with green.

01: walk in the park
02: keep calm and go for a walk

Eye Pencil - €1.89
Also available in two shades. They come with a sponge applicator, perfect for smudging.

01: leaves are the new beef (?!)

02: charlie seen in green

Eyebrow Set - €3.09
Available in two versions - a light kit and a dark kit. The set contains two eyebrow powders, a highlighter, and a mini angled brush.

01: leaves are the new beef

02: walk in the park

Lip Cream - €2.49
This comes in two shades - a rich red and a rosé pink. They have a semi-matt finish.

01: beauti-FALL red & 02: keep calm & go for a walk

Colour Adapting Powder Blush - €3.09
This sounds really intriguing - it's a powder blush that reacts to the individual pH-value of your skin, and turns into a "fresh pink with a fine shimmer" upon application.

01: beauti-FALL red

Multi-colour Powder - €4.09
This looks fab - it's a shimmer/bronzer powder with 4 different shades. It looks really pretty with the embossed leaf design too.

01: autumn & the city

Thermo Nail Polish - €2.49
Available in four shades, these supposedly change colour depending on the temperature (just like the leaves changing in Autumn). I really want to see these in person, especially that red! You can see the difference on the bottles if you look closely, the left has the light colour while the dark is on the right side.

01: beauti-FALL red
02: meet my pumpkin
03: charlie seen in green
04: keep calm & go for a walk

Hair Ties - €3.79
Finally, there are some seam-free hair ties in Autumnal colours.

01: # outdoor yoga
I'm pretty much a sucker for anything Autumnal anyway, so I want to get a look at some of this stuff in person. I definitely want to pick up that lovely embossed powder, plus an eyebrow kit. I do love how Essence feel the need to name every single product they release (things with no names are my pet peeve) - even the hair ties (that hashtag isn't a typo) - but if someone could explain "leaves are the new beef" to me I'd be delighted. Maybe something was lost a little in translation?!

What do you think - anything catching your eye from this collection?

Blogger Tricks

BreastCheck Needs YOU.


BreastCheck, the national free breast cancer screening programme, currently screens women aged 50-64 every two years. In 2011, the Government promised to extend BreastCheck to include women aged 65-69, but that never happened.

The Irish Cancer Society have calculated that if the programme was extended, there's the possibility that the lives of 87 women in that age group could be saved. So, they are looking for at least 87 women to come and help them on the 30th of September at Leinster House.

You don't have to do much - just show up, and wear pink. If you could bring a couple of friends with you, that would be great. If you could get this to go much, much bigger than 87 women, that'd be even better.

Come and fight for your Mother, your Grandmother, your Aunt. Do it for your Future Self, your Children, your Sisters, your Girlfriend, your Granddaughters.

On September 30th, wear PINK and meet at 12:00 pm at the square beside Agriculture House on Kildare Street, Dublin 2 (opposite the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Employment).   - See more at: http://www.cancer.ie/about-us/events/extend#sthash.6O2s071J.dpuf

Please RSVP to mgaffney@irishcancer.ie by September 23rd in order to give an idea of numbers. Please, if you can spare one hour or less, please support. Or, if like myself, you won't be in Dublin on the 30th - please pass the information on to someone who will.

How good would it feel to know that you'd been a part of saving the lives of several women? Don't let the Government forget about these women. This was promised, and it needs to be enforced.

And while I'm at it, if you haven't done it already this month, go check your boobs.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Stroll: Tullynally Castle Gardens, Co. Westmeath


Have you ever discovered that there's something brilliant within driving distance of your house that you've never known about? Last Sunday, we went for a drive. On the way home, we passed the entrance to Tullynally Castle, just outside Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath (on the Granard Road). We've passed it a thousand times before, but this time we noticed a sign outside saying that it was open, so we decided to go in for a look.

When we went up the long driveway, we were greeted with the most amazing Gothic style castle. I got a bit filter-happy in places, just go with it.

Tullynally Castle (technically a country house) is over 300 years old. Home to the Packenham family since the 17th century, it is now owned and maintained by Thomas and Valerie Packenham. The castle was built as a semi-fortified house with a defensive outer wall. By the early 18th century, it had been already partly transformed into a Georgian mansion, and an illustrated family diary from 1736 shows a large formal garden of cascades and basins laid out on the southern slope below the house. Soon afterwards, the taste for romantic "natural" landscaping reached Ireland and these were swept away to be replaced by parkland. By 1780 the gardens were probably alread laid out as they are today. The house was changed back from a Georgian mansion to a Castle in 1803 by the 2nd Earl of Longford who added flanking towers and a row of battlements. Then in 1840 the 3rd Earl doubled its size by adding the two great wings (mostly for use as servants quarters) and battlements and towers around the stable courtyard. Source: Leaflet from Tullynally Castle.

There are two car parks. To go to the gardens (all 12 acres of them) you need to pass through the tea rooms.

You can enjoy tea and scones for two people for €7.50, or there are a range of snacks available. Things like cans of coke, ice-creams, bags of crisps etc have a pretty high mark-up (as is usual in places like this) so if you're planning a day trip, pack your own snacks. We didn't, so we ended up spending around a tenner on rubbish. Lesson learned! There were gorgeous looking desserts on display too, and the staff were friendly and knowledgeable.

To get access to the gardens, it costs €6 for an adult, €3 for a child over 6, and €16 for a family pass (2 adults, 2 children over 6). Under 6s go free, so it was €15 for husband, myself, the 10 year old and the babies.

When you step out of the tea rooms, you walk into the courtyard - there are more seats outside, where you can enjoy your beverages. You can also take a look at the Packenham Family Carriage, which is pretty much only used now for family weddings.

The entrance to the gardens was very The Secret Garden-esque.

The scenery is every bit as stunning out this side.

The gardens are to the right - we were given a map when we paid our entrance fee, showing us where to go and what to look for. We were also given a treasure trail for children, and details about several different trees with numbers on them (the tree page was actually surprisingly interesting). The first place we wanted to see was the Grotto - the path to the grotto is littered with hidden gems like stone Gargoyles and creepy wood carvings.

The path up to the grotto is MURDER with a buggy, so myself and the 10 yo went on ahead and had a look, then came back to husband. This is the Grotto:

The Grotto was built around 1830 from eroded limestone from Lough Derravaragh (the legendary lake where the Children of Lir were turned into swans). You can supposedly see Lough Derravaragh from a clearing in front of the grotto, but I couldn't see it that day.

When we went back to the main path, we passed this "Weeping Pillar" fountain.

As we made our way around the gardens, we noticed benches and little summer house-like structures dotted around, so there are plenty of opportunities to sit down for a few minutes.

The entrance to the Kitchen Garden is guarded by two sphinxes, or "merrymaids".

The Kitchen Garden is one of the largest in Ireland. A family of Llamas graze on it now, but according to an information plaque in the garden (these are dotted all over the gardens and are super helpful), there were once 20 gardeners employed for maintenance.

There are two sacred bulls in the Kitchen Garden too - or Nandi. These were made by a local sculptor.

We then continued on the path to the Upper Lake, which was once used for bathing.

There are some stunning wood carvings around the Upper Lake.

At this point we had been walking for about two hours and the babas were getting hungry. I was also wearing ballet slippers that were cutting the feet off me, so we headed back for the tea rooms again.

Back at the courtyard, I noticed the clocktower which I hadn't seen before.

There's so much more to see in the gardens that we didn't do - we didn't do the Forest Walk, or see Queen Victoria's Summerhouse, or the Tibetan Gardens, or the Gingerbread House, or Chinese Garden, or Swan Pool.

We'll definitely go back again, but I'll be wearing trainers the next time and we'll be packing sandwiches so we can take a break in the Gardens without having to walk the whole way back.

Tullynally Castle Gardens & Tearoom are open from Thursday-Sunday from 11am-6pm from April 19th to September 28th, so you still have 8 opportunities to go for a wander this year - I'm just sorry I didn't discover it sooner. There's a big event happening at Halloween:

From the 25th - 27th October, there will be "Spook Walks" around the Castle and Gardens starting at 6pm. Due to the spooky nature of the event, children under 8 are not permitted. To book, and for information on walk times and what you need to bring, go to www.directingtourism.ie.

There are also Christmas Markets, which I fully intend on attending as soon as I get more information. You can keep up to date with happenings at Tullynally's website or facebook page.
Tours of the Castle can be arranged for groups with a minimum of 20 people. For further information, check the website.

Altogether we spent less than €25 for a family of five and we had such a nice day out. Obviously something like this depends greatly on the weather, but I'll definitely be back - considering it's only 15 minutes up the road, there's no excuse not to return.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Songs I've Been Loving Lately


I haven't done a music post in forever, so I thought I'd pop up a few of the songs that I've been loving lately.

Ella Henderson - Glow This is Ella's second single, to be released on October 5th. I think I love it even more than Ghost, if that's possible! 

Haim - If I Could Change Your Mind Not a new song, but it's gorgeous. It reminds me of a modern day Wilson Phillips. That can't be a bad thing, surely?

One Republic - Love Runs Out This is the third single from the band's third album, and I love it. That's it, really...

Paloma Faith - Only Love Can Hurt Like This Also not a new song, but I've been listening to it a lot over the past month or so. 

Hozier - Sedated This is my favourite of Hozier's singles so far, I am not so patiently waiting for his debut album to be released - September 19th in Ireland and October 6th in the UK.

Little Green Cars - My Love Took Me Down To The River To Silence Me Little Green Cars are a recent discovery to me, but will be familiar to anyone who keeps an eye on the Dublin gig scene. This song is stunning.

Walking On Cars - Hand in Hand Another Irish band, they are totally independent and finance everything they do themselves. They hail from Dingle, Co. Kerry. If you only watch one of these videos, make it this one. Heart.In.Mouth. 

What have you been listening to lately? 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Nail Studs from Born Pretty Store and An Apology!


I'm in hot water with this one, lads. A while ago, Kevin from Born Pretty Store got in touch with me to ask if I'd like to review for them. I said yes, and I shouldn't have. Nail art is so, so time consuming (above all other beauty or makeup things) - and I knew I probably wouldn't have time to do nail stuff during the day. The boys are 11 months old and teething, so we're not getting proper sleep and we're all just wrecked at night time, I just have enough energy to curl up and read for a few hours before bed. Even so, my excitement (and greediness) got the better of me and I accepted the offer, leaving it to Kevin to choose products for me. He sent me some floral decals and a wheel of mixed shaped gold and silver studs. I did do 2 looks with the products - and then lost all the pictures. The posts were supposed to go up in July and I couldn't find the files, then I forgot all about them after the laptop went to laptop heaven.

So, I've done them again. I've the first one for you today, and here's a little apologetic limerick I wrote for Kevin. Sorry Kevin.

My nails are the shortest they've been in a long time - I'm not sure what the story is there, to be honest. I'm eating better than I have in years, and I'm using Butter LONDON Horsepower but they keep breaking - I snapped 3 right to the butt on Friday while out grocery shopping. If anyone has any idea of what to use, I'm all ears. I was taking Pharmaton but I stopped - I'm averaging about 6 hours of broken sleep a night, maybe I'm ran down?!

This is the nail wheel I received from Kevin and you can purchase it HERE. The polish I used is Essence Rollercoaster.

 There's a great selection of shapes in this nail wheel. Some are larger than others - the large hearts, for example, took up a lot of space on my nails. The little hearts were beyond cute. I chose to use the stars and circles this time.

I'll have the decals one for you within the week. Sorry guys.