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Kaloo are a French company which produce a wide range of baby clothes and toys. Kaloo has been around for just over ten years. Kaloo designs are modern and innovative, but also have a really timeless appeal. I first spotted Kaloo in a small gift shop, and it was love at first sight. The quality of all the products is so high, and everything is beautifully designed. Kaloo products really stand out for their softness and colour, and also the amazingly beautiful round gift boxes which the products come in. Not only will the toys themselves be keepsakes, but the boxes make great keepsake boxes. My aunt keeps all her baby card in the one which I bought for her.
The bear is Kaloo's brand symbol, and most of the toys come in a bear design, although you can also get rabbits and other critters. The bear which is shown in the picture has the distinctive Kaloo face, but he is actually more of a traditional shape than a lot of their designs. My personal favorites are the chubby bears (available in a range of sizes and colours) - The are very soft, round bears, covered with smooth velour, which just demand to be cuddled. Bears range in price from about £20 - £40 depending on size. This is such a great price. Although the bears are relatively small, and these obviously aren't the cheapest toys - but you will want to keep them forever, so it is well worth paying for them.
These are such great Baby gifts, for births or christenings - They really are that bit extra special - especially because of their lovely packaging. A Kaloo bear is now my standard baby present - you can get pink, blue and neutral colours, along with any brighter or special edition ranges. No-one is every disappointed with these. Before I got hooked on Kaloo I always bought clothes rather than toys for babies, but I actually think these are a much better buy. They will last forever, can be used with babies straight away, and stand up really well to actual play. Kaloo have done an amazing job of producing a keepsake that can actually be enjoyed by the child. I have loads of silver and china from when I was born - but I'm sure I would have preferred a bear which I could have actually played with, but that is also nice enough to keep a hold of.
Although Kaloo toys feel super soft and delicate they actually wear really well - Bears can be machine washed at 30 degrees and then put in the tumble drier - this is pretty essential for a these items, as babies and kids can't seem to resist sticking them in their mouths! The practical element of this brand is not what you would expect from such beautiful items, but it really goes to show how well designed, produced and thought through these items are.
Kaloo also make a big range of other products - shoes and clothes, playmats, chairs, musical toys and so on - I'm sure I'll buy a huge stack of this stuff when I have my own kids, because it all looks amazing - but I'll stick to the bears as my perfect gift
The full range of Kaloo is still relatively hard to easily get hold of in the UK - Independent gift shops have always had the best selection and nicest displays I have seen, but unfortunately Kaloo don't have a UK website, so there is no list of stockists. John Lewis has a very small range, and I have ordered from www.babyzoop.co.uk, which was fine. I once went to Selfridges to get Kaloo's for two friends who had just had babies, but the bears available were dirty, and the boxes were battered and damaged - I love Selfridges, but the baby department seems to be a bit of a wreck, so I don't recommend you bother with it.
I love lashes - and try and maximise the look of my eyes at all times. False eyelashes are such a great way of making eyes pop - but I have always found them really difficult to apply - and even more difficult to get them to stay on, unless I have them professionally applied. At the MAC counter one day the girl doing my makeover (side note - these are so great - £25, but you get this back off any purchases) used DUO glue, and ever since then it has been one of my must haves.
To begin with I always used DUO glue with MAC lashes. I really like the MAC lashes - they have a really good selection so you can get a really diverse range of looks. #7 lash is one of the most popular MAC lashes for everyday glamour at a natural length - but I prefer some of the more dramatic looks. If you are careful you can sometimes reuse the lashes (by gently washing in warm soapy water) but at £8.32 a pair - these aren't the cheapest lashes.
If like me you make a mess of your eyelash application and end up wasting lashes, you might want to go for DUO glue - which I think is great and helps to securely stick any old rubbishy lashes. Since I have bought DUO I am on a real eyelash kick - I can't get enough of them, and can afford to wear them all the time. I'm using eyelure at the moment - but I'm on the lookout for some even cheaper ones to test out if I am still pleased with the results.
DUO glue is a "surgical latex adhesive" which you can safely use to apply eyelashes, or other body decorations like little gems. I have only ever seen DUO for sale from MAC in the UK, although they are a separate company.
The very best thing about DUO is the really strong hold. This really does stick lashes on well, which makes application so much easier. I also used to get so frustrated when my lashes started to peel off, especially at the corners - but this glue really does stick the corners down, and they stay stuck. You can easily achieve all-day wear from this glue. The glue is also waterproof, so they don't come loose if the weather gets a bit humid.
--- Application ---
I've always struggled to get my fake lashes on properly - but thanks to the wonders of youtube I have watched loads of videos and managed to get it; I think the trick is to just balance the falsies on your own lashes and then to resist messing with them.
DUO makes lash application even easier - hold the tube upright and allow a bead to appear on the tip of the applicator. Then slowly move the band of the lashes across this bead, trying to apply evenly, and making sure you get right to the tips. The glue goes on white so you can see where it is going, but don't worry it dries clear. It is also a liquid when dispensed from the tube, but quickly changes to a rubber-like consistency when it exposed to the air.
This rubberization (is this is word!?) also makes them nice and easy to remove when you get to the end of the day, and you don't have to worry about damaging your real lashes.
Get It ---
From the MAC counter or store
Or online at http://www.maccosmetics.co.uk/home.tmpl
What is the point of getting annoyed by TV adverts? None whatsoever - but here I go with a little rant of some of the annoying ads gracing our TV screens at the moment
1.Posh Pringles - Arrgghh - Such bad acting - it is so staged, forced and false while pretending to catch people out and about. I especially love "look, the bag matches yours" How great - exactly what you are looking for in a crisp as I'm sure you will all agree!
2.Everest Windows - "I bet you didn't think Everest would be doing that today, did you?" Acually I don't spend my days considering the plans and strategies of double glazing firms - had never even heard of you before these stupid adverts!
3.The ridiculously long Bob Dylan Cooperative Bank ad - there isn't really anything wrong with it per se, and I quite liked it the first time, but I can't really be bothered to hear the whole of "blowing in the wind" every 15 minutes. And surely Bob doesn't need to be cashing in from adverts - I know Co-op are one of the least evil banks, but even so.
4.Glade Touch and Fresh - "I want to do a poo in Pauls bathroom". Does this make anyone want to buy this air freshener? - it's such a weird concept - and the dubbing is terrible - air freshener ads seem to particularly suffer from the curse of terrible dubbing for some reason.
5.Natwest - Free Impartial Advice - Are we supposed to believe that they have been selling us all these ill advised financial products for the last few years and bust the economy in the process, but now they are lovely friendly folk who want to give us free financial advice - yeah right! I think I'll leave it. (I do have a passionate hatred for Natwest so maybe the ads not that bad - I just want to moan about them, sorry)
6.Confused.com - The advert is supposedly 'user-generated' and mainly focuses on the friendliness of an insurance comparison website - I can't say that I really care how 'friendly' these kind of sites are - as long as I get a nice low quote without too much fuss I'm a happy bunny - but apparently some focus group somewhere thinks we need a friendly nudge to help us along. I love how one of the main benefits they can come up with is how the website "remembers you and your details!" - oh wow - Can't think of any other websites that can manage that little trick - it's magical. I do love the young guy when he says "the new confused.com website rocks" - who on earth came up with that, I bet they thought they were really down with the kids - but an insurance comparison website 'rocking' - give me a break!
7.Any DFS advert - no explanation necessary as I'm sure you'll all agree!
I'm sure there are plenty out there which are even worse - I'm just blocking them out of my mind to preserve my sanity at the moment!
Playmobil My Take Along Doll House is a great toy with a self explanatory name - the doll house unfolds to reveal 4 rooms ready to play with, but can also be folded closed and be carried (with its built in handle) wherever you go.
----What do I get?----
The house comes complete with a family of four; mum, dad, baby and a girl. One of the nicest features of this product is the number of pieces that come inside the house (85 pieces in total). This means that the play can begin straight away, and that there is plenty of variety provided by the toy. I think this makes a great present, because it is complete, unlike a lot of similar toys which need lots of accessories to maximise their potential and can cause frustration for everyone when they are not ready to play with.
If you do have other playmobil toys then this will complement them nicely, but this is also great as a stand-alone piece. The house at my work does have a few extra bits and pieces inside - a kitchen set, plenty of other figures, and a warrior (who does raise some eyebrows as all of the other figures are modern family pieces) - If you have a few extra bits like this then you can fit them inside the house to carry
It around, or just tidy it away, as it does have a surprisingly large interior when closed.
The house has 4 rooms, each with nicely designed 'wallpapers' and decorations denoting their purpose. You can obviously move the pieces around in whatever way you like, but in order to provide a guide to what you get I have set out the room layers below;
Kids Room - The kids room contains a child's bed (with a cute plastic 'duvert' which you can place over the figures, a purple cot and duvet, and a bedside table.
Parent's Room - The parents room has two single adult beds and bedside tables, and a water jug and bowl.
Living Room - Has a 'stone' chimney - with moveable pieces for a glowing fire, a rocking chair, side table and vase of flowers.
Kitchen - contains a wood burning stove, and a kitchen table and chairs,
You also get other bits which make the house really detailed and fun such as; a dog and basket, cups and plates, a high chair, a toy pram and doll, books and a saucepan. There is also a little plastic schoolbag which you can place on the shoulders of the child figures - which all the kids seem to love - they definitely think it is the most interesting piece - I'm not really sure why!
Because this dolls house is designed to be moved around it is not as large as most other dolls houses (it measures H27 x W24 x L26cm) I don't think that this detracts from the play, because although it is small it is also perfectly formed and full of detail. Because of the way it opens you also can easily access all the space, whereas the layouts of some dolls houses mean that some rooms are not really played with. In my work we also have a much larger and better furnished wooden dolls house, but the kids are often attracted to the playmobil house even if they are side by side.
The carry along function is also perfect for my work, which sometimes necessitates bringing toys to children in their homes. This is so easy to transport and is nice and robust, so you don't have to worry about it getting knocked about a bit.
And another important feature (for parents at least!) is the fact that the house and all its contents can be packed away so quickly and easily. Because everything is kept together it helps to stop the small pieces getting lost.
As always with playmobil this is a top quality toy, and the pieces can take a fair bit of wear and tear. There are a few small pieces so this is not suitable for under 4s - the tiny pieces do come in a little cardboard box, so you can put them aside if you want to wait until your child is a bit older to use them. This is great for both boys and girls and is not targeted at a particular gender. The play is imaginative, and children can play on their own - The number of pieces means that kids can also play together without loads of squabbling.
This is such good value
John Lewis - £29.95 (free delivery)
Argos - £24.49
Toys R Us - £32.99
Earlier this month I got a code from Prima magazine for a free Virgin Vie Dream Lashes mascara. I tried a few of the Virgin Vie products a couple of years ago and wasn't particularly impressed with them -but for the £2.50 postage I thought this was worth a go. This is a two step double-ended mascara, with a primer and colour designed to volumise lashes, taking them "to another level" and providing "a full on false lashes flutter!"
As with all two-step mascaras you apply the primer (pink end) first, followed by a coat or two of the colour. The wand is a standard design - but a bit narrow for my taste, I prefer the big chunky Bad Gal brush, and don't really get on with the more standard thickness. As with all primers, apply a coat and then give it two or three minutes to dry before you apply the colour.
The "Perfecting Primer" claims to "condition and lengthen" lashes
I can't say that I have noticed any difference in the condition of my lashes - although I don't use this every day or on it's own - so who knows if it does any good. Frankly I'm not that bothered with improving the condition of my lashes - they are ok as they are.
The primer does an ok job of adding a bit of length to lashes- but because the formula is cloggy and thick - lashes can appear more dense than long.
The "Volumising Mascara" claims to "thicken and define" lashes
Thickness and Definition...
Once you apply the mascara the overall look is quite dense and thick - but it is not the individual lashes that look thick, instead the whole eye area looks clumpy and sticky. The eyes are defined by a mess of black goo - but not the lashes as individuals. The cloggy consistency of this product prevents good separation of lashes - lots of two step mascaras have this problem, and it's no worse than others. I won't apply either end of this to my lower lashes, as it just looks too messy. I find another with a thinner consistency works better over the primer.
I don't think this really wins on volume - because one coat of the primer and one of the mascara is about all my lashes can manage - I don't think this is enough to really have high volume lashes - but any more coats leaves a bit of a sticky mess
Neither the primer nor the mascara produce a curl, and the weight of the mascara actually feels to me like it is pulling lashes down.
Full on False Lashes Flutter...
Overall the full on false lashes flutter promised by the box is just a distant dream. The curl, length and definition just can't compare to false lashes.
Not bad. The mascara fades before the end of a normal day, but I haven't had a problem with it sliding under my eyes and leaving me looking like a panda. A few small flakes the next morning if you don't scrub it off properly - but nothing to complain about
Easily removed with a splash of eye make up remover.
This is £11 on the Virgin Vie website. They also sell through party planners, and they have a few shops dotted around. This is comparable to the price of standard high street two-stage mascaras. By comparison L'Oréal Paris Double-Extension Mascara and Bourjois Coup De Theatre Mascara are both £10 in Boots.
While my review hasn't exactly been glowing if you need a mascara and aren't too fussy you can still get this on the Prima offer until 20th March 2009. Go to http://www.virginvieathome.com/prima/ to get either the mascara or a Pure Shine Lip Gloss when you pay £2.50 p&p. Use the Promotional Code: PRIMA at the checkout.
To be honest I wouldn't even pay the £2.50 again for this. It's no worse than a lot of other mascara's - but it doesn't beat Benefit Bad Gal which is the best I can find for everyday use at the moment.
Kurt Geiger are a luxurious shoe brand which are fashion and trend focused, but also stand out from the usual high street offerings because of their strong image cultivated by their design team who "scour the globe sourcing inspiration for new trends". Kurt Geiger shoes are edgy and on-trend, but also pretty and feminine, and surprisingly versatile. Kurt Geiger have 4 own brands, Kurt Geiger, KG and Carvela and Solea, and stock loads of other big names. This review is of the main Kurt Geiger line, and their diffusion KG line - Kurt Geiger stock shoes for women and men, but I'm only reviewing for the ladies, because that is where my expertise is!
The main "Kurt Geiger" range has the perfect mix of classic design and style, with a modern, fashion-focused twist. The shoes are really high quality, most of them are leather, and a lot of the designs have a leather sole, so look after them - there is loads of shoe care guidance on the website. There is a broad range of styles, and the timeless quality of a lot of these shoes makes them suitable for most ages. These shoes aren't cheap, and are at the top end of the high street, but the extra you pay is for the quality materials and the extra design, which makes these shoes stand out from the usual high street offerings. High heeled shoes and sandals are about £140 - £220, with a few pairs tipping over the £300 mark. Pumps and flat sandals cost £110 - £150, trainers about £110, and boots are about £300 - £450. Like I say they aren't cheap, but they are beautiful.
It's my own fault, I always buy the highest heels, and so I have to say that I can't vouch for the comfort of these babies. I bought a pair of patent black courts for a wedding just before Christmas with 10cm heels, and by the end of the day my feet were on fire. Saying that these are no worse than other heels of the same height. I do have one pair of Gina shoes with a really high heel that fit like a glove, but even though you are paying more for Kurt Geiger than most of the high street, you don't get the quality you can get from some designer brands. I'm sure the flats are more comfy, but I just can't bring myself to pay over £100 for flat shoes, even though I would probably get more wear out of most of them than from 10cm heels - what can I say, it's illogical but I don't think it's ever going to change!
Kurt Geiger also have a diffusion range called KG - these shoes are younger, and more vibrant than the main range, and personally are my favourites. The shoes are often embellished with flowers, jewels and other decorative features, and there are some really unusual designs and colours available. KG is also cheaper than the main range. High heeled shoes and sandals are about £80 - £130, pumps and flat sandals cost £55 - £100, and boots are about £100 - $150. I'm really pleased with my Skandar boot (a bit like an Ugg) which I got for £85, but which are now only £60 - so check out the sale to see if you can get a bargain.
The spring summer 09 collection is available now. There are some really pretty jewelled pumps, but I really have my eye on the Grantham Leather Wedge Sandals. These are so cute, with a green woven heel and thick platform sole. They are £200, but so wearable. I'll be in them all summer if I get them, but I'll have to keep saving up. (Oh no - I just checked the website for my review and have now spotted another pair of amazing wedges, the Goodwin. I love them! There's no way I can spend £400 on wedges, I'm going to have to choose, but I love them both so much! Help!!!)
A few weeks ago Grazia showed a sneak-peak of the new Fashionista range - which is arriving in March. I literally cannot wait until these are in stock - I've got my eye on some amazing brown leather sandals with bright pink platforms, pink and lime detail and 12cm stiletto heels, and some cone heeled oyster grey courts with loads of toe cleavage - they look excruciatingly painful, but very very beautiful.
-- WHERE TO GET THEM? --
-- On the high street --
In the UK Kurt Geiger have 26 stand-alone stores in the UK. The flagship store is at 198 Regent Street, and there are also stores in most of the London airports - including a lovely one in terminal five. If there isn't a stand-alone store near you then Kurt Geiger have concessions in department stores including House of Fraser, John Lewis, Selfridges and Liberty. There is a store locator on their website - http://www.kurtgeiger.com/store-locator
Kurt Geiger stores and concessions can also be found in France, Ireland, Italy and Dubai.
-- Online --
There is plenty of choice for buying Kurt Geiger shoes online - check out their website at http://www.kurtgeiger.com/ They stock both their own brands Kurt Geiger, KG, Carvela and Solea and luxury shoes from a number of designers including Gucci, Prada, Jimmy Choo, and Christian Louboutin - unfortunately my budget doesn't stretch to these at the moment - but it's nice to be able to longingly gaze at them - or you can easily set the filter so they don't trouble your eyes - or your plastic! I really like the website filters - it makes it very easy to use. I have ordered shoes from the website a number of times and they have always arrived really quickly without any problems. Shoes come by parcelforce and you have to sign for them - delivery is £3.99. I did receive one pair that had a tiny scuff on the heel (you could hardly see it - but they did cost £240) but I had no problem returning them for a new pair with KG paying for all the postage. Join the email list as the news letter quite often promotes discount codes or sales. You can also find Kurt Geiger shoes on asos, but the choice is a lot more limited.
Jelly Belly jelly beans are "America's favourite Jelly Bean" and are mine too.
LA is the birthplace of jelly belly "the original gourmet jelly bean" when in 1976 the idea was hatched to create jelly beans with completely natural flavours. From this idea the concept of "true-to-life" jelly bean flavours was born.
Jelly Belly beans are famous and loved because of their hugely intense flavour, which is made through mostly natural ingredients.
-- FLAVOURS --
These beans are famous for their flavour, and there are plenty available. The UK collection is made up of 50 core flavours in the main range. Lots of these are fruit flavours - along with some drinks eg Cappuccino, Cream Soda and Island Punch, plus others like Strawberry Cheesecake, Peanut Butter and Jalepeno.
There is also a Sour range - where 10 fruit flavours pack a bit more punch. If you buy the loose beans you can also pick up some special editions - I've seen plenty of variety - including a Mint selection, including a vile toothpaste flavour, and a Baked Bean jelly belly - It was horrible - but worth a try! I always buy these at US airports, and the main range is a lot bigger over there, so you get to try some new flavours.
Thought I'd give a quick shout out to my favourties;
-- Very Cherry --
One of the first eight beans launched in 1976 and still a top seller Very Cherry is my favourite of the classic flavoured beans. The flavour and colour is really intense - not exactly like a real cherry, because of the extra sweetness, but absolutely delicious.
-- Cinnamon --
This is a really intense cinnamon flavour that really fires up the taste buds. The strongest bean of the bunch.
-- Strawberry Daiquiri -
Doesn't taste of alcohol or that much like the drink, but it does have a really nice balanced strawberry flavour - the right balance between sweet and sour, although I do love Strawberry Jam too.
Jelly Belly also suggest you mix flavours in your mouth in order to create some of your favourite tastes - I never really bother - but it could be fun.
For example you get a Banana Split from Top Banana + Chocolate Pudding + Crushed Pineapple +Strawberry Jam + Very Cherry + Cream Soda.
-- NOVELTY RANGES --
I know Jelly Belly did a Harry Potter jelly bean range to tie in with the story, and at Christmas I spotted BeanBoozled packs (£2). These are boxes of 16 beans - Eight official flavours, and eight not so official. There are eight pairs of matching looking beans - but the flavours of these duos are very different - play with a friend, pick one matching bean each - will you get Buttered Popcorn or Rotten Egg? Or Top Banana or Pencil Shavings? This was a real laugh at Christmas - makes a great stocking filler or mini present.
-- NUTRITION --
You don't expect sweets to be nutritious - and these aren't. But they're not too bad for a treat. There are 4 calories in each bean - but at least sweets don't contain fat. You can also get no added sugar beans, but I haven't tried these out.
-- FREE SAMPLE! --
If you want a free taste of these babies then get yourself to the website. They give out 100 bags to UK residents everyday. The time the contest opens each day is random - so check it out. You only get 10 sweets in the bag - but 10 are better than none!
You can often get a free taste in the Selfridge food hall if you are on Oxford street - they are usually giving out something in there - and Jelly Belly's often get given out.
-- PACKS & PRICES --
Jelly Bellys come in loads of different size packs and packaging - so there is something for every occasssion. I love to buy these loose - Selfrdiges has the best loose display that I have seen in the UK, and House of Fraser often have a good loose selection too. You used to be able to get a small selection of loose beans Woolworths, and lots of independent sweet and gift shops stock these. You can often get a good price on the beans in TKMaxx.
You can also get small mixed portions in
- 300g bags - £8
- 150g boxes - £3.50
- 200g and 350g cans - £5 - £10
Big gift boxes
- 595g 50 Flavour Gift box - £20
- 500g 40 Flavour Gift Box - £13
- 125g 10 Flavour Gift Box - £9
- 230g Jelly Belly Tackle Box- £14
Here's my attempt to liveblog (not exactly but you know what I mean) the Oscars fashion
-- Fearn Cotton --
Obviously not a movie star, just presenting for Sky 1, but all i've got so far! I must admit to a deep-held dislike of Fearn Cotton - she is dead behind the eyes - why do people keep employing her? - so I could be a bit prejudiced against her fashions. She's wearing a Cerise Pink Tea Dress - Quite a nice cut and style, subdued and suitable for a presenting job. But the hideous eye makeup! Fearns wearing dark pink eye make up - and loads of liner. Some people could rock this look - but she's just not pulling it off, I think a darker skin tone is needed to prevent the 'black eye' look. Hair is in a 40s wave, tucked behind one ear - she's going for old Hollywood glamour, not a disaster, but nothing special. Please let people arrive soon! UPDATE - Anthony Hopkins says he likes Fearn's eyeshadow - he says it is 'different", I think he is just so bored with her interviewing style he has to say something. Fearn's hair isn't holding up from the back - which doesn't really suit this type of filming - but she not annoying me too much. Far too much of this review is of Fearn, it's because i'm only getting glimpses of everyone else.
-- Dominic Cooper --
Ok there's not much to say about men's fashion - just a boring old tux - come on ladies - I have to see some fashion before I go to bed!
-- Zac Efron --
Horrible slicked back hair - don't do it Zac, you are too young for me but can look quite cute - not today! I guess he's going for suave and sophisticated - it's a total failure!
-- Vanessa Hudgens --
Just got a quick glimpse of Vanessa. She's wearing a long, black tulle fishtail dress, with flower detail. The dress is Marchesa, but It's vile - the bottom of the skirt is massive, and looks totally out of proportion with the rest of the dress. It has been altered from short to long, with very bad effect.
-- Miley Cyrus --
Miley's wearing a white, layered 'princess' dress, with tons of beading - exactly the kind of thing a 15 year old would pick for prom. She looks cute, but not really stylish. Like a scalloped mermaid - and what is with the belt! Hopefully i'll get a closer look soon.
-- Dev Patel --
Burberry suit - "keeping it British". What a cutie - go slumdog!
-- Frieda Pinto --
One Shouldered beaded blue John Galliano dress. It's good to see some colour already. Nice unusual neckline, but i'm not sure about the beading or the cut. Ferns fave dress of the night (so far). It's not mine - too old fashioned and ageing. Her hair is plain and boring.
-- Taraji P. Henson --
White mermaid dress - and an amazing diamond necklace - it's huge, pewter looking and so so beautiful. Her hair is lovely and sleek. She's extoling the virtues of Spanx and has brought her mom and nan as her dates - what a superstar, how lovely.
-- Heidi Klum --
Is in a long red dress, with a side split. High red heels. Only caught a glimpse so far - but she has some amazing earings on. They are huge flowers, super glamorous. She has tons of massive thick bangles and bracelets on too - love these - can't wait for the topshop knock offs. Her hair looks very weird. Turns out she is wearing Heidi Roland Mouret - love him, but not 100% sure of this. Heidi wins for Jewels.
-- Mickey Rourke --
What a legend in his white suit. Better still is his bling - no million dollar diamonds for this dude, no way - instead he announces that the gold chain hanging from his trousers is the choke chain previously worn by his late dog, Loki. And for a second reference to his canine friend the medallion round his neck contains a picture of Loki. Less blandness from everyone else - more of this!
-- Amanda Seyfried --
Also in a long red dress with a massive bow - looks a bit old for her, and the colour is a bit too orange for her skintone - It's Valentino - The first she tried on- but she has amazing long blonde rapunzel hair, and the bling! Huge diamond necklace made up of five flowers.
-- Amy Adams --
Another red dress, Carolina Herrera, with a flowing detail in the middle - I don't care for it - but again she's rocking her necklace.
-- Sarah Jessica Parker --
She looks like a princess. It's a big, beaded and belted ball gown - and is Dior Haute Couture - she is so so lucky. It's ott, but i'm loving it - it looks absolutely beautiful. She's got big brown wavy hair - my favourite so far.
-- Marisa Tomei --
She looks cute in a one shoulder oyster white gown, very fitted and she looks tiny - and it only arrived this morning, she is so brave! The dress has an amazing train. She's not loving the interview though - she just looks bored.
-- Kate Winslet --
In a dark grey one shouldered frock, with a wide sequin black lace sash. I'm not sure - I'll have to get a better look from the pics tomorrow - it's not a boring dress - but i'm not sure yet if it has worked. The dress is Yves St Laurent, a classic designer, but at the mo the jewellery is the star - classic diamond earings and bracelet. I don't think i'm convinced with the hair - too old.
-- Natalie Portman --
Some colour - Someone is finally wearing this season! I love it! She looks stylish but modern, nice to see someone taking a (small) risk and moving away from white and black.
-- Penelope Cruz --
In a beautiful detailed white dress with a full skirt - The fuller, ballgown skirts are getting my vote this year. This is nice - but SJP's is better. The fit of this dress isn't very good on Penelope, which is a real shame. Her hair is quite a plain bun - that seems to be the look everyone is rocking this year.
-- Beyonce --
Just got a quick glimpse of her dress - a strapless, bodycon black mermaid dress with a fishtail - with a vile gold pattern. Beyonce is so hit and miss with her fashions - this is such a miss. her hair is rubbish, no jewellery, but she does have a great bod.
-- Angelina --
Is wearing the most amazing green earings. She's got a long plain black dress on and looks stunning - but it's no surprise she's in black - give us some colour Angelina!
-- Tilda Swinton --
Often looks crazy - but is pretty plain tonight - in black and beige.
-- Meryl Streep --
Looks classic, old hollywood - she's lovely. Her dress is a grey-brown, long sleeved off the shoulder effort.
-- Anne Hathaway --
Another one in white - although all the jewels on the dress are make the top look gold. I like the top, but the bottom of the dress is an unflattering shape. Nice sleek hair tho.
-- Jennifer Aniston --
In an off-white beaded gown which looks beautiful. A great shape on her. Her casual hair with a small french plait also looks chic and elegant.
Also is beaded white - I love this, the cut is fantastic and the dress is timeless. Her hair is in a big side bun, which is that bit more glamorous and sleek than the buns sported by lots of the celebs tonight.
Just a quick shout out for the worst fitting dress of the night - So unflattering - how did a stylist let this get anywhere near the door.
So it seems like black and white are the colours of the day, classic, glamorous, but not very exciting. At least we just had New York Fashion week for some more exciting looks - This was a classic Glam year. No mega disasters, although i'm sure there will be some once the magazines come out.
Oh well - I'll reassess tomorrow, haven't even seen the bottom of most of these dresses!
Thanks for reading to my inane ramblings if you got to the end of this - no-one wanted to stay up with me - and I had to talk about the fashion asap!
"IRREGULAR BY NAME, IRREGULAR BY NATURE"
Irregular Choice are a flamboyant, British footwear company, who began with a ladies range, which has now expanded to men's, kids, clothing and accessories.
Irregular Choice are not trend or catwalk led - The shoes are designed to be original and unconventional. The focus is often on unique and interesting detail, unusual design and vibrant colour.
The women's collection launched in 1999, and around 100 pairs of shoes make up the collection each season. Boots, flats and heels are always well represented. As a high heel lover I'm usually drawn to this part of the collection - and I often find a lot of the other styles far too garish and ugly. I think Irregular Choice really succeed with some of their girly styles - think flowers, bows and charms.
The shoes in the picture - Antique Rose Courts - are a great example of the kind of stylish, unique shoes available. These are made from a soft suede, with a really large sequined rose. They are well made, so the 9.5 cm heel high isn't too painful. These come in Navy, Purple and Black, and must be a top seller as they keep coming back season after season. There are also some lovely bar courts on offer this season. I've also had some lovely flats - I had some pink leather pumps covered in poodles which I loved - they sound a bit crazy but were actually so wearable and versatile - I wish I could get another pair. These shoes aren't exactly suitable for heavy wear - they are decorative and lovely - and best for nights out, or once in a while wear. Saying that the materials used are all of great quality.
On the other hand some of the other shoes are too outrageous for me - Toes and Heels are often funny shapes, so I be careful to take advantage of the 360 degree view when checking out shoes on the website. If you want to see some of the crazy ugly shoes on offer check out the 'sock o clock' shoe on the website at the moment - they are hard to describe - but are a big chunky fabric heel boot, made to look like sandals worn with contrasting socks - very strange - and quite frankly vile! I suggest a visit to the website if you are interested in fashion just to get a look at some of the crazy designs.
Other Stuff ...
Irregular choice also have a men's range (since 2004) - these are less extreme than the ladies shoes, as you'd expect from men's fashion - but there are still some unusual choices available. The 'Babeez' range is absolutely beautiful - these have become a top baby present for me - I do love baby shoes! Really nice boys and girls choices are available. Irregular Choice have also branched out to clothing and accessories - but I've only seen these items on their website - so can't really comment on the quality of these bits - If the shoes are anything to go by I'm sure it's pretty good.
I so so love Heatherette, so was so excited when I heard they were collaborating. I was a bit disappointed with the offerings - and didn't buy anything - but I suppose I should have expected some unique designs with these two collaborating. Irregular Choice do collaborate with designers, so check out the website for the latest.
Ladies Heels - approx £70 - £100
Ladies Flats - approx £50
Ladies Boots - approx £80 - £130
Men's - approx £60 - 80
Babeez - approx £25
Where do I get them ???
Online - www.irregularchoicestore.co.uk/index.php
On the High Street - Schuh
Here's my Top 20 Played songs on iTunes - It seems a bit strange when I look back at them - their not my twenty faves - not quite sure how some of them got there!
1. I Don't Want To Get Over You - The Magnetic Fields
I can see how this would make it to number one - its the kind of song you can easily play over and over on repeat after a break up. But I haven't had a break up since I have this computer - Oh well it's up there anyway!
2. Fidelity - Regina Spektor
Great song - This got stuck as the only song I could get to on my ipod when I dropped it in a sink - so thats why its way up on the play count.
3. Anyone Else But You - The Moldy Peaches
Love the peaches ( I kissed Adam Green once - woohoo!), and loved Juno, played the soundtrack loads when I first got it.
4. Shangri-La - The Kinks
Love the Kinks - my fave band of all time
5. Potential Break Up Song - Aly & AJ
I don't have any other songs from these two - and only ever saw them on a sweet sixteen special - How did this mediocre song get here!
6. A Well Respected Man - The Kinks
Another top band + Juno Soundtrack combo.
7. Brooklyn We Go Hard - Jay Z
I've loved Santogold this year - and Jay Z is classic - a great tune - suits me for running and the gym.
8. F**k Me Pumps - Amy Winehouse
I love this for getting ready to go out and driving about - A great tune for singing along to with my girls.
9. Good Life - Tony Bennett
What can I say - Tony is a legend
10. Lover, You Should Have Come Over - Jeff Buckley
Better than Hallelujah - my favourite tune from Grace.
11. Champion - Kanye West
I love Kanye - But i'm not really sure how this one made it up here - I had to play it to remind me how it sounds.
12. Trouble - Ray LaMontagne
This is a lovely song - I love the tone of Ray's voice.
13. Have a Cuppa Tea - The Kinks
More Kinks, but none of their classic hits. This has made it up there while me and my housemate did a massive deep clean of our kitchen (with added bad dancing) with this on as motivation.
14. Passing Afternoon - Iron and Wine
I love Iron and Wine, and this has got to be one of their best - along with their great cover of such great heights.
15. Sunday Morning - The Velvet Underground
The title really sums up this song - it sounds like a morning in bed with a slight hangover - dreamy with a bit of a sinister undertone.
16. None Of Us Are Free - Solomon Burke
This is a great tune, and the lyrics are fantastic.
17. Midnight Train To Georgia - Gladys Knight
I love Gladys - fab song, timeless.
18. 9 to 5 - Dolly Parton
Who doesn't love dolly!
19. Teach Me Tiger - April Stevens
This is such a kitsch classic
20. The Dress Looks Nice On You - Sufjan Stevens
Again, not my favourite from the artist, but a good song from a great songwriter
Well I don't know whether I should post this on here - seems a bit cringy - but i've typed it out now! My top 50 is even more random - what can I say - there's no pinning me down!
Now lets hear everyone elses top 20.
As a massive fan of the high heel comfort has often been low on my list of essential criteria of shoes - but on moving to London last year I realised that a car is an essential item for a high heeled lifestyle - my 4 inch heels and the tube weren't making friends - I decided the heels would have to be retired from all day use, and went out shopping for some more 'sensible' to join my Uggs and a pair of trainers for the gym in my 'usefull' shoe pile.
After a quick trip into Office I spotted some Sugar boots (most of the designs are pretty hard to miss) and decided to give them a try as a change from the good old Ugg.
~~Colour and Prints~~
These boots come in loads of super cute different colours and patterns - they are all pretty bold and garish so not for those who want to blend into the background.
The boots in the picture are 'Crowded Garden'. Check all the designs out on Amazon or tReds. The actual Sugar website is rubbish and doesn't show anything.
These are really comfortable -I have started to get a bit complacent and seem to have been wearing them all winter. They are furry, cosy and warm on the inside. They are fine for walking around all day in - the sole is completely flat and offers no arch support - I have a high instep but don't have a problem with these, whereas some very flat shoes can cause a bit of pain if I wear them all day.
My Sugar boots have always been a good fit - I just go for my normal size. I find that with Uggs and their knock-offs I have to go down a size. These boots are also a lot narrower than Uggs - which I think makes the size and fit a lot more similar to a normal boot or shoe.
For such decorative boots these are surprisingly hard wearing and sturdy. The sole is pretty tough. They aren't exactly waterproof - ok with a bit of rain or a splash of water - but don't go jumping in any puddles!
The boots have a tie-up side - and so most of the side of the boot is not actually stiched together. This dosen't stop them being nice and warm, and you don't notice the split when wearing them. Because you tie the boots you can pull them to fit your individual calf size. You don't need to undo the ties every time you wear them - they can be easily pulled on and off while tied up - so good for us lazy/late people.
I'm now on my third pair of Sugar boots, and had a problem with the colour fading on the second pair. They were black, and the colour seemed to just rub off them - this began happening really soon after I got them - within the first two weeks. I am so lazy, so just kept on wearing them anyway, but they did look very scruffy very quickly. I haven't had this problem with the other two pairs (the ones I'm wearing today have a very slight fade - but I've been wearing them almost non-stop for the last 3 months so no complaints there. I'm not sure if I was just unlucky with the second pair - but I wouldn't order any more with a black base colour just in case.
You can also fold down the top of the boots so that the inside fur shows for a different look. The same boots come in two lengths 'origami' - a mid calf boot, and 'morigami' which are longer at approximately 8.5 inches. The morigami boots are probably the most verasatile as you can fold them down to the same length as the origami boots, as long as you don't mind the fur look.
Good for wearing over my skinnie jeans - Because you can tie them as tight or loose as you want you can also get some wider trousers to tuck in easily, or fine with trousers on the outside too. I've been wearing them a lot with skirts this year too.
~~Where to get Them~~
On the high street these shoes are sold in Office and tReds, and probably some other places. You can get a better price on Amazon - the choice is a bit limited, but they still have a good range. Check them out on the high street for fit and colour if you're not sure - then go online and save some cash by getting them on Amazon. They come direct from Amazon so you can get the supersaver delivery, unlike some of the other shoes on there.
On the high street - 'Origami' boots are £45 at Sugar and tReds. The longer 'Morigami' boots are about £55.
Online - 'Origami' boots range in price from £20 - £45 on Amazon. It depends on size and colour - so a bit of luck is needed in getting the real bargains. 'Morigami' boots are £25-£50.
Fastening: Pull On
Boot Length: Mid-Calf
Outer: Microsuede/Cotton Textile
If you are already a Lip Venom fan then I'm sure you will have combined it with a lipgloss - with Venom Gloss DuWop have done the mixing for you. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Lip Venom it's a clear lip-plumper that is formulated to enhance the natural pout and color of the lips by irritating the lips. The increased blood circulation plumps up your pout.
Venom Gloss contains exactly the same ingredients as Lip Venom with the same aim - naturally plumped up lips. The skin irritants in the venom are cinnamon oils. When applied to the thin and sensitive skin on your lips your body reacts in a natural way. Extra blood flow to the area - the result of which is redder and fuller lips.
Does it work?
A lot of my friends really love this product - but we all report different levels of plumping. With the original venom I find that the most noticeable difference for me is the colour - because these glosses are already tinted, the main criteria I assess it on is the plumping. I find this slightly less effective than the original venom - but there are real plumping effects. The plumping action is enough to result in visible, noticeably plumper lips. I also think lips look more defined.
Burn Baby Burn ...
You'll feel Venom Gloss kicking into actions seconds after you apply it. You'll feel the burn on your lips - a 'spicy' feel similar to if you have eaten hot peppers. The taste is cinnamon sweet, so don't worry you won't taste the pepper - you'll just feel the burn.
You can really get hooked to this tingle - it's definitely a pleasurable (mild) pain. The tingle begins and works up to strength over the first few minutes after application. The tingle is at max strength for about 10 minutes, before fading to a milder tingle, for another hour or so. The plump lasts another few hours, but it's hard to resist not going straight back in for the tingle sensation. Your lips tolerance to the irritants does build up - and you stop feeling the tingle so strongly and for so long - you still get the fullness.
Venom Gloss comes in 9 colours; most are pink or peach shades. I have tried both 'Lantana" a candyfloss pink, and 'Wisteria' a purplish-pink. Neither of these colours comes out strongly - all the glosses appear sheer once they are on - so don't expect to get the density of colour that appears in the tube. Most of the colours are pretty neutral which gives a chance for the natural redness produced by the venom to also be seen.
If your lips are dry, cracked or generally very sensitive then I don't recommend any Venom products. Because I wouldn't use this with dry, dehydrated lips, make sure you moisturise your lips at night if you want to use this everyday.
This gloss is amazingly shiny - one of my best for glossy, glassy looking lips. I'd recommend it for shine even if plumpness were low on your priority list.
Smell & Taste ...
The active ingredient in this product - cinnamon oil - also gives it a lovely smell and taste.
This is a thick gloss, but not unpleasantly sticky. It has quite a balmy texture for a gloss, and so stays on well without feeling gloopy. The texture means you don't have to apply as much gloss with each application, so your tube will last a bit longer.
Kiss Kiss ...
When you find the perfect product you have to spread the news (thanks to DooYoo for helping us all to do this). With Venom I don't think this news should only be shared with the girls - let your men in your life know about this by giving them a smooch. The cinnamon oil will cross over and 'spice' up your love life (sorry, sorry a terrible pun, couldn't resist).
The one problem is that you'll give the game away - unless you can convince your lover you've just tucked in to some spicy dinner he's going to know your plump, red lips have had a helping hand. You'll have to spill the beans - you don't want your man to think he's allergic to you.
Ultimately I don't think that there are significant differences between the effects of Lip Venom and Venom Gloss but the gloss has become more useful to me because it is easier to apply - especially when topping up throughout the day. Venom Gloss comes in a squeezy 'Juicy Tubes' style tube, so application is a doddle. Original venom comes in a small glass bottle, so this is a lot easier.
Venom Gloss is £15 a tube (10g) - This works out as better value than original Lip Venom - which retails at the same price for only 3.5g. The glosses as any other similar sized tube - so the price is comparable to other glosses.
A friend of mine has decided to cutting down on expensive makeup and recently bought cinnamon oil to produce the lip venom effect on the cheap - I have no idea how much she uses or if this should be recommended - so do your own research on it if you think it sounds sensible. I myself prefer to stick to the tried and tested methods.
If you haven't tried original Lip Venom, and are a bit worried about the 'spiciness', I recommend starting with the Gloss. For die-hard Venom fans this is a great alternative to the original, especially if you want some extra colour or an easier way to top up on the go.
I have a had a lipgloss addiction for such a long time - As the years continue I have managed to refine my collection down to two main brands - Lancôme Juicy Tubes (The obvious choice) and Philosophy Lip Shines, plus the odd impulse buy or 'amazing innovation' which I cannot resist.
Unfortunately my love for, and loyalty to these two brands has not dented the size of my collection - they just keep producing new colours and flavours, and despite the groans of my poor credit card I keep on buying. Juicy Tubes are my top choice for colour, but for flavours, scents and cute names Philosophy comes out on top. I also think these make great presents because they are not quite as ubiquitous as Juicy Tubes, and often come in really cute seasonal duos and trios, in amazing packaging. Also check out QVC who always seem to stock the special Birthday and Congratulations products.
Scents and Flavours...
As I have mentioned I have real trouble picking out a favourite scent from Philosophy. If you have tried any of their products you will know that they are highly scented and flavoured - and the lipglosses are no exception.
I picked out "old-fashioned lemonade" as my flavour of choice for this review, because it is the one currently following me about in my handbag doing the everyday legwork. It doesn't stand out as an exceptional flavour - but only because they really are all great. Pick out whatever takes your fancy, you won't be disappointed (Writing this has made me think of buying and collecting the full set of flavours of Bonne Belle Lipsmackers as a 12 year old - sad to say that my habits haven't changed over the past 12 years - only the price has gone up!) "Old-fashioned lemonade" is perfect for you if you love the scent and taste of lemonade. This contains real squeezed lemon for a delicious looking and tasting shine - As Philosophy themselves say this is perfect if you "want to indulge without the calories". You'll want to lick your lips - so you'll have to keep reapplying - I suppose this is a benefit as it is helping me to reduce my lipgloss mountain a bit more quickly. Even when the shine has gone you still get a hint of the flavour on your lip.
The taste and smell is very accurate - it really is just like old fashioned, homemade lemonade. If you fancy a different lemon scent this isn't the only lemon flavour lipgloss offering from Philosophy - you can also get "the Muffin Man Lip Shine" which has a more sugary/sweet taste - it's a lemon custard scent and flavour - check out a mention of this in my review of the shower gel. "You are my sunshine" also has a lemonade scent - slightly different but along the same lines (I recently got this as part of a duo from QVC with a large bottle Of the Foaming Shower Gelee for £25 - Bargain!) I think there's a lemon zest and pink lemonade out there somewhere too - They really do produce a lot of scents, with new ones coming available and old ones being retired all the time.
This isn't to say that Philosophy is totally lemon focused - they do everything. My current faves are "Vanilla Birthday Cake", "Spicy pumpkin", "Raspberry Sorbet" and "Melon Daiquiri". My all time favourite is "The Gingerbread Man" - a ginger ale flavour. It is gone but not forgotten. If you see one on eBay grab it up quickly - or better still leave it there for me to grab. Anyway this has been a long winded way of saying that there will be a perfect flavour out there for you.
Most philosophy lip shines are clear or have a pale hue, whatever colour they appear in the tube (so don't be afraid of the blue and green ones). I usually have a slick on benetint on my lips for a bit of colour - that lasts for the day, so just keep topping up with the lip shine. You can also apply this over lipstick. I like a colourless or pale lipgloss for everyday use - it means you don't have to use a mirror to apply it all the time - just whip it on without any worries. The lack of colours makes these glosses multi purpose - day to night, any style of makeup. They are really versatile and easy.
This is the most soothing lip gloss I have ever used. My lips are pretty chapped at the moment, which usually means laying off the lip gloss, but not with Philosophy. The formula is super glossy, but has a real balm like quality. The directions suggest that you let the gloss "melt into lips at least twice a day" and this really does seem to penetrate the lips to make them soft and supple. I often find glosses and lipsticks are drying but this really does condition, hydrate and moisturise lips, leaving them soft and kissable.
Gloss. Shimmer & Shine ...
In terms of looks, the main property of this lipgloss is high gloss and shine. The shiny, glossy look is very impressive, and the best look I have achieved. The 'shimmer' level of this lip shine is ideal; it's not glittery or sparkly but has a strong, sophisticated shine.
This is a thicker, stickier gloss than most others, I think because of its lip balm properties. If you want a slightly thinner consistency for application, warm the tube in your hand for a minute.
I prefer a thicker, stickier gloss, as my lips tend to get chapped the rich texture really suits me. - But if you don't like that feel on your lips then this might not be for you.
Lip Shines come in squeezey tubes with a slanted tip for application, much like Juicy Tubes. As the formula is quite thick and sticky it is worth cleaning the tip once in a while, so you don't get any build up on the tip. It is very easy and natural to wear so "apply liberally to lips and kiss someone you love".
Sticking Power ...
The thicker texture of these lipglosses means that the shine wears pretty well, last a good bit longer than most glosses I have tried. The taste lasts for a long time too. I still apply numerous times a day though. The texture does attract some crumbs - so beware when eating - but it stands up well to drinking and kissing.
£10 at HQ Hair
Trio sets are often available for about £25, or look for the good value combined sets on QVC.
I don't want lipgloss rehab quite yet - just a few more!
The Washington Court Hotel is a premier, 268 bedroom, downtown Washington, D.C. hotel in a great central location, just three blocks from the US Capitol Building and national mall. The hotel has been recently remodeled and offers a modern and stylish base for enjoying the city
This hotel caters for business travelers - I have stayed on both weekdays and the weekend and noticed the lack of visible customers on the weekend days.
The Rooms ...
I always book a "Deluxe Room" when staying here. In the spirit of most US hotels rooms often feature two Double beds, but I always make sure to ask for one King size bed instead - here these rooms are the same price that is a bit of a bonus.
The bed is amazing! The blankets are double sheeted, there are loads of pillows and it is really comfortable. The feather mattress topper and duvet is lovely. I often find the duvets in the US are a bit thin for my liking - but this one was perfect.
The rooms here have been recently remodeled and in a contemporary design. Rooms are a good size, with plenty of floor space so you don't feel too cramped.
There is a stylish, modern seating area with comfortable club chairs and an ottoman - and it is nicely spaced out instead of being squashed up next to a wall, as is often the case. The large flat screen TV had a decent choice of channels - I found myself watching an episode (or two) or vintage Eastenders one evening before going out to my boyfriends great displeasure.
The desk is large, with a good size mirror above it. Good room lighting for a variety of moods and the right mix of style and functionality. Room temperature is adjustable with tolerable noise levels.
I never see trouser presses in the US - not that I ever use them anyway! - There was an iron and board in the (decent sized) wardrobe instead - plus dry cleaning and laundry service available. Rooms have a large window covering most of the outside wall - even if you don't get the good view I think this is a nice feature.
If you don't go for the deluxe room a cheaper option (which I have never seen anywhere but this hotel) is The Parlor Room. This is a room with no bed and instead a full size sofa bed. All the other features seem to be the same as the other room type, in a smaller room. This room type might appeal business travelers working from their rooms, but I have not yet tried it. The cheaper price can't tempt me away from an actual bed! Suites are also available, but I haven't tried these either.
The bathrooms are presented as a hotel highlight - they are very large and completely tiled with Italian marble. There is a nice deep sunk bath, decent shower, two sinks set in a well-lit vanity area, and a rather ornate toilet! Plenty of shelves and loads of towels in all sorts of sizes.
I can be a bit suspicious of hotel toiletries but the Tarocco toiletries on offer were rather good - products were olive oil and Sicilian blood Orange - they included shampoo, conditioner, shower and bath gel, a soap, body lotion and a really good exfoliating bar - wish I had brought one back with me now. The products were of a good size. The bathroom was full of little extras like cotton balls and swabs, and a decent hairdryer (A rare find in a hotel!) I even got some free champagne left in the room for us two nights into the stay - the girl on the desk told us it was a free gift for staying with them. Bathrobes are available on request - Ask at check in and they will be with you in no time. There is a turn down service on request (old school but lovely) - This includes a clean up of the bathroom if necessary - with fresh towels and products
The bedroom and public areas of the hotel are kept to a high standard of cleanliness. I especially like all the crisp white bedding - it's so easy to see that it is kept well. My only complaint is regards the bath which
was not as clean as it should have been. The bedrooms have all been (very) recently upgraded - but some of the bathrooms, which were once the highlight of the hotel, are now looking slightly grubby in comparison. This is not to say that the bathrooms are not generally clean - housekeeping are still doing an thorough job - but when in the bath (and from this view only) you can see some grubbiness and mould around the fittings and grout.
Peace and Quiet...
Noise levels from the street have never bothered me here. I know that on trip advisor some people have complained about the nearby fire department waking up people, so maybe I have been lucky with my room locations. I am a very light sleeper but have also lived on main roads in London so maybe I have become immune to blaring sirens
I have heard some noise from other rooms while staying here. On my last trip my room had an adjoining door and when the guests from next door came back to their room one evening I could hear them loud and clear as they came in. I think the sound must have traveled through the adjoining door (which was next to the main door) as I could only hear them for a minute or so as they came into their room. Then there was no noise from next door at all and this really wasn't a problem.
My major complaint about the hotel has to be the lack of free Internet. I know many hotels are still charging, but how upscale hotels can't offer this service to their clients when pubs and McDonalds can is beyond me.
I haven't stayed here on business - an I guess a holiday from constantly checking email isn't always a bad thing, but I found the $10 a day charge to use the internet a very annoying shortfall of the hotel.
The Hotel has a large, somewhat dated but nevertheless impressive, atrium lobby. I think this might be next on the list for a redesign to bring the style up to date. A good variety of seating, and free papers (which also can be delivered to your room for free on request.) There is a gift shop in the hotel that I haven't tried.
The hotel gym was quite small - bur comparable to many business hotel offerings. A few treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, and plenty of weights. The gym was quiet during my stay and it was easy to access whatever you wanted. Open 24 hours - not that I have ever attempted a 4am workout myself!
Food and Drink...
The Bistro 525 restaurant serves regional cuisine. As I haven't tried the food I really can't comment on the quality of the restaurant. The Federal City Bar also serves a simpler menu (again I haven't tried it) along with drinks (which I have!) It has a pool table and is lively enough for a hotel bar - It's ok, and as the surrounding area is very quiet a good choice if you don't wish to venture far.
The only food I have tried here is the room service. Room service is delivered quickly and piping hot. It costs around $60 for two mains and two drinks which I think is decent value. Trays come with a beautiful rose. Maryland crab is delicious! I am addicted to the crab cakes.
All the staff here are friendly and customer focused. Check in is 4pm - I have always arrived after this time, so I'm not sure how well they do on letting you in early. Check in is always very smooth and quick -There never seems to be a problem with queues and staff are friendly and efficient. Check out is a nice and leisurely 12 noon - you can check out using the TV or at the desk. The doormen were excellent - they were always quick to open doors or get you a taxi. Friendly and chatty when leaving luggage with them. The concierge is very helpful and the post always seems to be manned.
Parking is nearby and there is a valet service available. The only time I used this service staff were friendly and helpful, but it was slow to get the car back. Parking costs about $25 a day.
The Washington Court hotel sells itself as the hotel with "the only true view of the Capitol Building!" This is a good choice for a good choice for a hotel in central D.C. It's an easy walk to Capitol Hill, and you will definitely know which way to walk - you can't miss it. If you want a view request a (not guaranteed) view of the Capitol. You get a great view of the Capitol Hill skyline. Other rooms have a view onto office building across the courtyard - not the worse view I have had from a hotel bedroom but certainly not the best.
Union Station is a very convenient 2 blocks away. Union Station is served by buses, Red Line subway trains and national railway. It also has some shops and an ugly foodcourt. The station is much lauded, and has some nice period features but the shopping and dining compare very unfavourably to their promotion. This is not the area of the city you want to stay if you want entertainment or shopping (go further north and west) but is great for sightseeing - which is DCs strongest point anyway.
Before I stayed here for the first time I was slightly concerned by the number of trip advisor reviews that mentioned the nearby homeless shelter and the number of homeless people making the area feel unsafe at night. As a single girl staying in an unfamiliar city I thought about this but then decided to book it anyway. I have never found this a problem - there are some homeless people visible - but I have never found them to be intimidating, and have never been asked for money, unlike in London and other big cities. I find the lack of anybody being about to be the scarier feature of the neighbourhood. It really can be ghostly quiet at times despite being in the centre of town.
For spring 2009 the prices are in the region of:
- Parlour Rooms $231, Deluxe $261
- Parlour Rooms $157, Deluxe $189
I haven't bothered with the GBP price because of the fluctuating exchange rate, but its about 70p to the $ at the moment. Can be found for slightly cheaper on hotels.com, or check the hotel website for special deals - especially on weekends.
I think this is excellent value. It compares favourably with other DC hotels, and massively favourably with hotels in London and New York.
All mascaras at the moments seem to have some sort of gimmick (The marketing departments seem to be doing well - why do I keep falling for them all!?) This mascara promises to be different by providing 'liner look' eyes - without the need for eyeliner.
The unique brush is meant to achieve this effect. The product comes with a dual-sided nylon brush with both short and long bristles. The long bristles lengthen and define lashes whilst the short bristles emphasize the roots to create the liner effect.
This isn't the easiest mascara wand to master - especially combined with the liquid consistency of the product. But take a bit of time to master the technique. Personally I have found that by starting application using the short part of the brush on the base of the lashes first, before using the long side on the complete lash works best for me. This might be because I always use a few different mascaras at once and this might change some of their properties, so test out application the other way round too to see what works best for you.
An unfortunate effect of this brush is that the longer bristles have to face your eye when you are using the other side - this means you can poke yourself in the eye pretty easily. Because the brush is plastic it is quite sharp - and watery, red eyes ruin any make up look.
Pigmentation & Colour...
The formula is quite watery and wet, but the pigmentation is strong, and so this isn't really a problem. Make sure you let it dry before applying the second and third coats for the best impact.
The colour is blacker than black - very impressive. This is also available in blue and brown. When I was in the states recently I also saw this available in purple and green, I'm not sure if they are available over here. Being a make-up junkie, and generally a massive fan of buying foreign flavours, colours and varieties of my fave products when abroad (A trip to a US chemist is always one of the highlights of my trip - sad but true - there is so much choice!) I couldn't resist getting the green. I knew this was a silly mistake - my eyelashes are dark anyway - and it came out a muddy black - might be nice on those with pale lashes though.
This mascara does well at separating and defining individual lashes. The long side of the brush is designed for lengthening and is fit for purpose. For perfectly separated lashes avoid using the short side of the brush. The runny consistency of this product also aids separation. For my lower lashes - where separation and pigmentation is my main priority this mascara works really well
I did find this somewhat clumpy at times - But I do apply a lot of coats and so I often have this problem - A lash comb helps to sort out this problem - take care not to rip out any lashes while you comb.
The long bristles and consistency do a nice job of lengthening lashes - because the lashes are well separated they also look long. A eyelash primer can produce better length, however - but this isn't bad in terms of the trade off between length and volume.
Using the short comb at the lash roots does have a negative impact on the lash curl, so you might want to layer with curling mascara first. Or use your eyelash curlers again after you have finished applying mascara - again being careful not to pull out any lashes.
This fails the volume test - although it isn't advertising these properties so you can't complain too much. The brush looked is a bit too comb like to provide much volume, I always put on an extra coat of Bad Gal with its nice thick bushy brush at the end. The wet consistency makes it difficult to apply a few coats - you have to make sure it is dry if you don't want to get it all over your face - so best avoided if you are in a rush.
Liner effect ...
This isn't usually a criteria for my perfect mascara, but seeing as this is what this mascara is supposed to provide it is obviously worth a mention. When you get the hang of the application the "liner effect" does partly work - Lash roots are slightly emphasised, which gives this wide eyed, lined look, but at times I felt that this look was a bit similar to when you get some mascara on your lid by mistake - make sure you tip your head back when applying any mascara to avoid this. Personally I don't think the lined look is good enough to forego separate eyeliner too - possibly for a more casual day look - but not for the doe eyed, evening look the product claims.
Staying power ...
By the end of a normal day this mascara had slid under my eyes - both flakes and black panda smudges. Benefit shelaq seals it nicely - and because it isn't very volumising it doesn't spoil the effect, but I expect better lastability without any added extras.
This mascara doesn't come off terribly easily - you need a few swipes of eye make up remover. Some flakes and smudges the next morning even when time had been taken to remove it properly.
I'm always searching for the ideal mascara - this isn't it unfortunately.
£8.25 at ASOS