Everyday Life - Photography

Instagram: June 2015 (Part 1)

June 30, 2015

June was a busy, busy month. Getting married and all that. So, there has been a lot of photos taken, a lot of photos of the very loveliest people and times. Far too many for just one blog post, and so this month’s round up will be split over two posts just to give you a better chance to see all photos properly. Do enjoy.

Instagram: June 2015 (Part One)

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Beauty - Shopping

A Clinique Gift

June 29, 2015

Clinique Gift Set

I’ve spoken here before about gift sets and how, often, they contain a group of products that don’t all turn out to be much worth celebrating, that you usually just find one or two useful products and a bunch of things you never use again. This is most often the case when it’s a set of products that are given away ‘free’ when you spend a certain amount on a specific brand. I was given a free Clinique gift set last month when I spend some money on a primer and cleansing brush head, however, I was pleasantly surprised by the free gift simply given away. I know they do this as a ploy to get you to buy full-sized versions of the items you’re gifted, but I can’t say that I was at all disappointed in what I found in that white bag.

Clinique Gift Set 2

This particular set contained:

  • Take the Day Off Makeup Remover for Lids, Lashes & Lips (30ml)
  • Rice-Off Foaming Cleanser (50ml)
  • Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief (15ml)
  • Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum (10ml)
  • Chubby Stick Intense Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm
  • A Different Nail Enamel For Sensitive Skins (4ml)

Clinique Gift Set 2

These are not cheap products, even if their smaller sizes and you really are getting a good deal with this, if you’re going to be spending the money anyway. And they’re not the products that they can’t shift either, they’re well-reviewed and well-liked products that customers genuinely enjoy, so that’s always a bonus.

Clinique Gift Set 4

 

I’ve already used the makeup remover, the foaming cleanser, the moisture surge and the nail polish, and I can only feed back good things. I would seriously consider buying some of these products when I run out and applaud Clinique for this great deal. If only more companies did this more regularly, so that people like me, who are reluctant to part with hard earned money on expensive products that we might not like in the end, can give them a test run before committing. Good work.

Clinique Gift Set 5

Books - Everyday Life

My Magazine Shelf

June 26, 2015

Magazines

I have always loved magazines – my husband and family will tell you how many I shamefully have in my house, and how many online subscriptions I have. It’s rare for a weekend to go by without me downloading the latest issue of one or picking one up from the nearest newsagent that sells my favourites. I don’t just go out and buy anything (I can’t stand those cheap, gossipy ones with sensational front stories about horrifying personal tragedies), I choose the ones I like most carefully and then I’m loyal for life. Here’s my current favourites and why, just in case you’re looking for some new reading material.

Good Housekeeping (US) – This has a little bit of everything, which really keeps me interested. I want something that takes me a good hour to read and all the little bits of information in here does just that – the mix of fashion, celebrity, house tips, beauty, etc. is just about everything I need and that keeps me going back.

Brides (US and UK) – I’ve had a couple of wedding magazine subscriptions over the last couple of years since starting the planning process, and Brides is just my favourite. I picked up a bunch of useful tips, beauty regimes and colour palettes I loved whilst browsing through and I think I’m going to keep reading until my subscription runs out. I still adore weddings, even though mine is over and love pouring over the real weddings they feature.

People (US) – This is where I get my celebrity gossip. I’m a sucker for celeb news and pictures, so I can’t resist this or US Weekly when I pass by them in store. There’s nothing more to it than that really, other than that People also have some real life stories, which can be super inspiring.

Ideal Home (UK) – My favourite interiors magazine and I have lost count of the number of pages I’ve turned over at the corner to try and remember a piece of furniture or soft furnishing that I love. Really inspiring since becoming a home owner a couple of years ago, I just adore all the ideas and real homes they feature and I will no doubt keep taking tips and inspiration from this in all the homes I may own.

Martha Stewart Living (US) – My other choice lifestyle magazine, which features a little of everything. This is more high end than maybe Good Housekeeping, so is maybe a little less useful in terms of practical things I can use in my life, but it still makes a great read and as a big Martha Stewart fan, I can’t help but love this.

InStyle (US) – The issue featured here is the UK version, but I actually prefer the US version – it’s the one fashion mag I really enjoy reading, as it features a ton more than just fashion, and I usually like the cover celebrity they feature. Another good one to sit down and spend time reading, this one is usually more difficult for me to locate, but I love it when I get my hands on it, and I’m sure I’ll be a fan for years to come.

Autumn - TV

New TV: Scream Queens

June 25, 2015

It’s that time of year when we start to hear about the new shows that are coming to our screens in the Autumn, and I’m usually trying to decide whether or not I’m interested in picking up anything new or just continuing with my regulars. There are a couple that are so far piquing my interest, one of which is Scream Queens. From the mind of American Horror Story’s Ryan Murphy, the storyline goes something like this: “After a 1995 sorority pledge gone wrong, someone is out for vengeance when a college campus is rattled by a series of murders at the twentieth anniversary of the crime.” I’ll be pretty excited to watch the pilot and see what I think, but it seems to be an interesting concept, so I hope to be tuning in weekly as the time passes. See what you think of the trailer below.

Travel

Mini Berlin Travel Guide

June 24, 2015

Berlin 1

Berlin 2

Berlin 3

We loved Berlin. It was such a varied, interesting and exciting city and we will definitely make an effort to head back there in the next few years for a long weekend. We didn’t get to see nearly as much as we would’ve liked in the 3 or so days we were there, which is a shame, but we did manage to get to a few places. That’s why this is more of a mini travel guide than anything substantial – we just didn’t do enough to warrant an expert guide on the place. Maybe we can add to this post everytime we go, but for now, here are a few of the things we got up to and a few of the places we’d recommend.

Berlin 4

Berlin 5

Berlin 6

To Stay

We stayed at Hotel i31, which is located in Mitte, right at the centre of Berlin. It was a great base for our stay, with amazing connections to a ton of different areas, and easily within walking distance of restaurants, shops and some tourist attractions. It’s a boutique hotel, so probably more on the expensive side of the options available, but it was worth every penny and I’m so glad we stayed there. I’m sure there are other great districts to stay in around Berlin, I really would recommend Mitte as the perfect area for your city break.

Berlin 7

Berlin 8

Berlin 9

To Eat

Ruben & Carla (Linienstrasse 136, 10115 Berlin)- This was our first stop for dinner, as we loved the look of the menu online and it was also super easy for us to walk to from our hotel. We had a great meal here, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a reasonably priced, good quality meal. My husband had the steak and chips and I went for the quinoa burger, and we both enjoyed it immensely, alongside some of the local beer. I probably wouldn’t head back there on another visit, purely because there are so many choices, but it was the perfect start to the trip.

Berlin 10

Berlin 11

Kantine Deluxe (Spandauer Str. 2, 10178 Berlin)- We also loved this meal, on our second night. Decorated gorgeously and with the option to sit outside, this restaurant had a large menu and was super reasonably priced. The process of ordering food is novel, in that you use a tablet and go and collect it yourself, but that just means that you’re never interrupted whilst enjoying your time spent here. I had a gorgeous gorgonzola and pear pasta and my husband had a pizza, both of which we really liked. There were lots of things I would’ve liked to have tried on the menu, so I’d give this a second visit, and its super convenient location makes it a great choice.

Berlin 12

Berlin 13

Malatesta (Charlottenstr. 59, 10117 Berlin) – This was our most expensive meal during our trip, but it was also my favourite. A limited menu, so check before you head there if you’re a bit fussy, but lovely on every other level. It’s Italian food, but a little different from the traditional. Eating a mostly vegetarian diet means I’ve gotten used to the standard meal choices in most Italian restaurants, but the dish I had hear was a revelation. Red beet ravioli filled with goat’s cheese and honey and topped with fresh pesto, it was just delicious, and my husband enjoyed his lamb ragu with pappardelle immensely too. I had the tiramisu for dessert and although it wasn’t as good as the one I make, it was still lovely.

Berlin 14

Berlin 15

Simply… (Pasteurstr. 2, 10407 Berlin)- This was the only other eatery we sat in for a meal, and it was for brunch on our second day. My husband fancied a cook breakfast and I went for the grilled cheese and it really was a lovely little cafe. Very simple and not unlike traditional greasy spoons you find in the UK, it made a nice change and was a bit more out of the way than some of our other choices, so was nice to go exploring a bit. A good try if you fancy something a little simpler for a breakfast or lunch spot.

Berlin 16

Berlin 17

We also gave some of the local delis and bakeries a look when we wanted a croissant or pretzel for breakfast or lunch and none of them disappointed. There are so many of these to choose from on almost every street, so you won’t go far without finding something delicious, and you can also find gorgeous sandwiches in many of these places if you want something a little more substantial. We used Trip Advisor to find most of our eateries, as we wanted the places we tried to be at least a little well regarded and I wouldn’t hesitate to do that again. Although I’m all for trying places you see along the way, I just feel a little safer picking out the ones that other people seem to like too.

Berlin 18

Berlin 19

Berlin 20

To Drink

Newton Bar (Charlottenstrasse 57, 10117 Berlin) – This was just down the street from Malatesta and we had some lovely cocktails here after a meal one night. There are so many to choose from and, as a massive cocktails fan, I was in heaven! Quite trendy and not cheap, it won’t be everyone’s choice spot, but we loved it and spent a couple of hours enjoying the chilled out atmosphere and enjoying a lovely night of our mini-moon together.

Berlin 21

Berlin 22

To See & Do

Bradenburg Gate – This iconic piece of architecture is an impressive sight to see and should be a must-do on your list. As one of the best-known landmarks of Germany, it really is one of those things that you should get a picture of and really enjoy in all it’s glory.

Checkpoint Charlie – This was one of my favourite things we saw whilst in Berlin. It was the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War and is still represented today with a replica guard house and sign erected at this historic point. It is a good spot to visit for a bit of history, although it’s ruined a bit by the McDonald’s beside it and it’s interesting to visit some of the memorial sites close by to read up on some of the history.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe – This was the most moving bit of history we saw during our trip. This memorial is to remember the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and consists of a 4.7-acre site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs, arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. It is such a stark monument and can never really convey what happened, but it really is effective at making you think about all those who lost their lives too early and some useful information close by conveys some truly fascinating facts.

The Berlin Wall Memorial – There are many representations and monuments where the Berlin Wall used to stand and it’s fascinating to see. We only saw most of this when we were travelling around, but it was all so interesting. I’ve read a fair bit about the Wall since returning home and it’s really brought home its significance for the people whose lives it was a part of.

Reichstag Building – We didn’t go inside this amazing building, but seeing it from the outside is enough of an attraction, let me tell you. It is the meeting place of the German parliament and I believe you can go on guided tours inside, but we just used it as an opportunity to get some photos and enjoy the architecture, which is extremely impressive.

Gendarmenmarkt – This square, right by Newton Bar and Malatesta, features some amazing buildings to see and photograph whilst you’re in Berlin, including the French and German Cathedrals. There are plenty of places to eat and drink around here too, with a lovely place to sit outside on the square and let the hours fly by with a drink in hand.

Alexanderplatz – A great place to eat, drink and shop, this area houses a great many things to see and do. It is a central hub for travel around Berlin and also houses the iconic TV tower that you’ll see in so many photos of the city. The World Time Clock is an interesting thing to see whilst here too, but we mostly visited for the shopping (I found everything to be cheaper here than at home).