Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Empties - March 2019

Since I discovered the blogging world, I have looked to bloggers and YouTubers for reviews of products and inspiration for things I might want to buy. I do enjoy hearing about brand new products that have just come out, but I particularly enjoy learning about items a person has used over a longer period of time. I think that’s why I enjoy watching and reading ‘Empties’ videos and posts, because I know the blogger has given the product a good try and can therefore give me an informed review. And because I like this type of content so much, I thought why don’t I start telling you about my empty products?! So here we have it – my very first ‘Empties’ post! I’m not sure how often I will do these – it will depend how quickly I use things up and which products I feel are worth talking about. But hopefully at least every few months I will be able to share with you some of the products I’ve been using to the very end.

My first empty for you today is this Cath Kidston Hand Cream, which I received for either a birthday or Christmas present as part of a gift set. I think I’ve raved about Cath Kidston hand creams on my YouTube channel before, but I don’t think I’ve sung their praises on my blog yet. I must admit, when I was first given the hand creams, I honestly didn’t give them a second thought. I guess I assumed that because I see Cath Kidston as more of a homeware and fashion brand that their toiletry range would be nothing to write home about. How wrong could I be?! 

I’ve now used several tubes of their hand cream, and can honestly say it’s one of my absolute favourites. It has a nice thick consistency, yet it doesn’t leave a greasy residue and absorbs quickly into your skin. And it actually seems to make my hands feel moisturised, which I hadn’t really expected. I thought it would be all about the pretty packaging and nice scent, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the product is actually pretty darn good! Yes, it smells lovely too (they have all kinds of different scents – this particular one was Apple Blossom and Elderflower) but it also helps my hands feel less dry, which is all you really want from a hand cream! 

Next up is the Nuxe Deliciously Nourishing Body Scrub, which I think I must have got in a beauty subscription box when I was still receiving them. This was therefore a little sample version of 30ml, so I didn’t get many uses out of it. But from what I did get to try, I really liked it. It’s made with Honey, Sugar Crystals and Precious Oils and is meant to gently exfoliate and nourish your skin. I’ll own up now and say that, up until recently, I’ve been pretty rubbish at exfoliating, but it’s something I’m trying to get better at because I really do think it makes a difference. So it was nice to try this out.

The product itself has quite a sticky texture (don’t worry – it’s nicer than it sounds!), which I guess comes from the honey. But it applies easily and smells delicious, just like it says on the label! If I’m exfoliating, I like a product that you can really feel doing its job, and the sugar crystals in this certainly give you a good scrub. Plus they’re natural, which makes me feel better about using it. After using this in the bath, my skin felt silky smooth and I’m sure my moisturiser absorbed better. It’s not the cheapest of products unfortunately, but maybe if I were treating myself at some point I would go for it again.

It’s not that often that I come to the end of a bottle of perfume (mainly because they tend to last a long time, even though I wear some type of fragrance every day) but I do have an empty one to share with you this time. It’s the Marc Jacobs Daisy Sorbet, which unfortunately was a limited edition so it isn’t available online any more. I’m a huge fan of Marc Jacobs perfumes, ever since they brought out their original Daisy fragrance, and I don’t think there’s been a release so far that I haven’t fallen for. The Sorbet edition was no exception, and I’m really gutted that I’ve come to the end of my bottle. 

According to the write-up, the fragrance opens with notes of pink grapefruit, pear and passion fruit. The heart includes flowers of wisteria, jasmine and lily of the valley, followed by the base violet wood, cedar and musk. I’m pretty terrible when it comes to describing fragrances, but I would definitely say you can smell the fruity and floral notes in this perfume. It’s very fresh and feminine, and not too overpowering, so is perfect for day or evening. I also absolutely love the bottle, as I do with most of the Marc Jacobs range, and I always feel bad when I come to the end of a bottle because I don’t want to throw it away! As it’s no longer available, I guess I will have to go on the lookout for a new perfume to replace it!

The next product I’ve used up this time is the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Moisturiser, which is a relatively new edition to the Neutrogena range. It’s a refreshing water-gel moisturiser that contains a unique Hyaluronic Gel Matrix to instantly lock in intense hydration and continuously release it as and when your skin needs it throughout the day. After hearing this, I was quite intrigued to try it out for myself to see what it felt like. On opening the tub, I was greeted by a very blue looking almost gel formula, which felt cool to the touch. It felt soothing and refreshing as I massaged it into my skin and I can definitely vouch for it absorbing quickly. 

I think some moisturisers can feel like they are just sitting on the surface of your skin, but I felt like this one really absorbed deep into my skin, leaving it feeling full of moisture and glowing, ready to apply my make-up. As you apply it to your face, the consistency seems to change from a gel to a water formula, which I guess is why it absorbs so easily. It’s light, yet still packs a punch with the amount of moisture it gives you, so you’re getting the best of both worlds. After using it regularly, my skin didn’t feel half as dry as it had been feeling (mainly due to cold weather and central heating) and overall it was a really nice product to use.

Unfortunately not all of my empty products worked well for me, but I think it’s important to give you honest reviews on everything I’ve used. So the next empty I want to share with you is the Pantene Pro-V Superfood conditioner, which probably isn’t a product I will be buying again. It’s a shame, because generally I really like Pantene hair products and have used a few of their shampoos and conditioners with no problems. I picked up this particular conditioner because I’ve been having a lot of problems with my hair falling out over the last couple of years. Not to the extent where I’m getting bald patches, but it still isn’t nice when you have handfuls of hair coming out every time you brush, wash and dry your hair, or even when you’re just going about your daily life. 

The conditioner promises to transform weak, thin hair into stronger, fuller-looking hair from the root, which sounds good to someone who has ridiculously thin hair that has absolutely no volume! It also says it helps to protect from breakage and reverse signs of damage. The actual conditioner felt quite nice to use – it’s slightly thicker than other Pantene conditioners I’ve tried, and I didn’t need much to cover my whole head of hair. But I started to find that, as I dried my hair afterwards, it just felt like I hadn’t washed out the product properly. The next few times I made sure to give my hair a really thorough wash, but I was still getting the same feeling and my hair felt like it was being weighed down. All I can think is that this particular product is too heavy for my fine hair and that’s why it left if feeling like it did. It’s a shame, because it did seem to help my hair loss a bit, but I just don’t think it was quite right for me.

If you follow me on YouTube then you may have heard me raving about my love for the Origins Cooling Roll-On for Puffy Eyes. When I bought one a bit back, I think there was some kind of offer to get another product at a reduced price (either that, or I decided to buy something else to get free postage!) so I ended up picking up the Origins Make a Difference Plus Rejuvenating Treatment Lotion. The slightly daft thing was, I didn’t really know what to do with it – was it in place of a serum, a toner or what?! In the end, after doing a bit of research, I used it in place of a toner and quickly fell in love with it. 

The website describes it as a pre-moisturising treatment lotion fortified with self-hydrating Rose of Jericho plus their Lychee and Watermelon complex, which prepares skin for the intensive treatments to follow. It definitely has an amazing smell – it’s fresh, fruity and I could quite happily sit and sniff it all day! After taking off my make-up and cleansing my face, I would pop a bit on a cotton wool pad and then just sweep it over my skin. From the first use, it left my skin feeling refreshed and hydrated, and as I continued to use it I definitely felt like my skin was looking better. So after not really knowing what this product was that I’d just bought (don’t judge!) it’s now something I would be happy to buy again, along with the rest of the products on the Origins website!

My last empty product to share with you today is the Aromatherapy Associates Hydrating Rose Face Mask, which again, is sample sized as it came in a gift set with a few other skincare products. Apart from their aromatherapy oils, I had never really used any products from the brand before, so was excited to see what I thought of it. It comes as a clear gel-like formula, enriched with Aloe Vera and Sodium Hyaluronate, which are renowned for their hydrating properties. They are combined with Damask Rose Water to bring radiance and vitality to dry complexions. 

Rose is one of my favourite scents anyway – it reminds me of my Grandad, as it smells like Turkish Delight and that’s something he always loved when he was alive, so I find it quite a comforting scent. The cooling clear mask felt really soothing on my cold-weather beaten skin as I applied it. Unlike a lot of facemasks, it didn’t start to make my skin feel tight, which I’m not a fan of at all. It just lay on top of my skin while I chilled out for ten minutes, then as I washed it off I could already feel the difference in my now moisturised skin. It was a great product to use over the cooler months and I thoroughly enjoyed relaxing with it on my face. This is another product that is on the pricier side, but perhaps I’ll treat myself to another tube at some point.

And that brings me to the end of my empty products for this time. I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about some of the things I’ve been using recently and how I’ve got on with them over the last few months. I would be really interested to hear if you’ve tried any of these things and what you thought of them? Or if you have any recommendations for things I might like to try based on what I’ve spoken about today.

What are your views on the products I’ve featured in today’s post? Are there any products you’ve been enjoying recently that you think I should try?

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Day One at Disneyland Paris - Eurostar, Bistrot Chez Remy and Hotel New York

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to start sharing my holiday photos from Disneyland Paris on my blog, but better late than never right?! Back in September 2018, my Mum, Dad, sisters and I enjoyed a 4 night/5 day holiday to one of the happiest places on earth to begin the celebrations for my 30th birthday. We had been once before, around ten years ago, but because there had been such a long gap, it felt like we were going for the first time. This time round I did a lot more research and planning (you can check out my planning post here) and despite being completely exhausted by the end of it, we all had an amazing holiday. As we packed so much into our five days (and due to the fact I took over one thousand photographs!) I’ve decided to write a separate post for each day of our holiday, sharing with you some of my personal highlights. So, we’ll begin with Day One…

We had decided to take the Eurostar from St Pancras, so were up bright and early (OK, maybe not so bright!) to get a taxi to the station. We arrived in plenty of time, so relaxed with a bit of breakfast in a place called Le Pain Quotidien, just inside the station. After going through check-in and security, we made it onto the train and made ourselves comfortable for the journey over to Paris. Unfortunately, I hadn’t been able to get a wheelchair space, which meant I’d had to bring my manual wheelchair instead of the electric one, as it could fold up. But it did mean that we ended up in Standard Premier, as we needed a bit more space, so at least we were a bit more comfortable! It also meant we were provided with more breakfast on the journey, so there was no chance of us going hungry!

Going through security and passport control at the other end took a lot longer than we thought, which meant we were starting to panic, as we had a late lunch reservation at Bistrot Chez Rémy and still needed to drop our bags off at the hotel. So as soon as we were out of the station, we raced over to the Hotel New York to check in and drop our bags off. Thankfully, they were able to ring and postpone our booking by half an hour, which gave us just enough time to walk through the Studios and get to the restaurant.

I’d heard so many good things about Bistrot Chez Rémy and it certainly lived up to expectations. I won’t go into too much detail about the food we had because I’m planning a separate post about what we ate while we were in Disneyland, but I will say that it was probably one of our favourite meals. However, I think it was the décor that really made our experience so special. The idea of the restaurant is to make you feel like you’ve been shrunk down to the size of a rat from Ratatouille, so everything around you is massive. The lights on the ceiling are designed to look like Christmas fairy lights, plates are stacked behind some of the seating, other chairs are made to look like bottle lids, there are huge pieces of cutlery lying around and giant cocktail umbrellas offer ‘shade’ on some of the tables. The attention to detail really was incredible – everywhere you looked there was something else that made you feel tiny. 

As we came outside after demolishing our food, we were greeted by a group of musicians playing traditional French music, so we decided to stay around for a bit to listen. It’s such a lovely setting, especially when the sun is shining. There are tables outside where you can sit under the trees and listen to the water from the fountain tumbling down as the band play. After a busy (and slightly stressful) day so far, it was a lovely place to just stop and take a breath for a few minutes.

We decided that we would head back to our hotel so we could take our bags up to our room and settle in properly, so made our way back through the Studios and through the Disney Village. As we were going through the Village though, we noticed that an area had been roped off. There weren’t very many people waiting around, but we decided to stop for a few minutes to see if anything was happening. And, sure enough, we soon heard the sound of hooves and country music, as the cast from the Wild West Show paraded round the Village to advertise the upcoming show. It was good fun to see them all dressed up, although unfortunately we didn’t manage to fit in seeing the show.

As I mentioned, we were staying in the Hotel New York, which has since closed and is being revamped to become a Marvel Hotel. It’s one of the reasons we wanted to stay in it, because I knew it would be our last chance before it disappeared for good. We had two adjoining rooms – I shared with my two sisters, while my parents had the double room. Although the hotel was definitely a bit tired (but then what can you expect from a hotel that’s about to be re-done), it was comfortable and clean and still had the attention to detail that you come to expect from Disney. We had a nice spacious bathroom, including Disney toiletries, two very comfortable double beds, a television (with my name on the screen!), a minibar and desk area. I loved all the little touches like the Empire State light and the cut out apple in the chairs. Our view wasn’t particularly interesting – we could just about see the top of Space Mountain – but then we weren’t really there for the view. 

While the others relaxed, my Mum and I decided to go and explore the hotel a bit. I was a bit confused about which you would call the front and which you would call the back, but the part that overlooked the car park definitely wasn’t the prettiest of the hotels! It did, however, have a yellow New York taxi parked outside, which was popular for photos. At the other side of the hotel, you could see across the lake to Newport Bay Hotel (which looks a lot prettier from the outside than the New York!) There’s a small pond right in front of the hotel with a fountain, as well as a little racetrack for children to ride quad bikes on. I believe they turn this into an ice rink around Christmas, which I can imagine would be really pretty. Sitting by the lake watching the ducks is a really lovely way to just have some quiet time away from the busyness of the parks.

It was getting late and as we’d had a long day and already eaten a big late lunch, we decided not to try and go into the parks again. Instead, we opted to check out the New York Bar in our hotel for a chilled out evening of drinks and chatter about what we wanted to do the next day. They had all sorts of different cocktails on offer, and as it was our first night, we decided to push the boat out and order some fancy ones. I ended up with a non-alcoholic light-up mocktail, Rosiie had a rather fancy looking red cocktail with a light-up ice cube and Bekkah went for a children’s cup, again with a light-up ice cube! We also got a few packets of crisps and discussed what we wanted to try and do in the morning before heading up to our room for an early night.

Don’t forget to check back again soon to find out what we got up to on Day Two of our Disneyland Paris holiday! You can also check out vlogs from our trip on my YouTube channel.

Have you been to Disneyland Paris or are you planning a Disney holiday soon? I’d love to hear your favourite things about Disney!