Rome

Rome, Italy

Rome is rich with history and beauty, which is why it’s one of my favourite places in the world. I have been twice now and I would go again and again. I thought that because I had been to Rome already, I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as the first time. But I was able to see the details that I hadn’t see before as there is so much to take in.

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I paid £30 for a return flight from Stansted, London to Campino, Italy. January, in my opinion, is a great time to see Rome because the weather is fairly mild and it’s not too overcrowded with tourists. I booked an apartment in the middle of all the attractions called Spanish Steps Gea. From there, everywhere we wanted to go was within walking distance. They say the best way to enjoy Rome is to get lost in it, for this reason we walked everywhere using Google maps to guide us.

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Things to do

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Walking Tour

I highly recommend booking a walking tour through Rome if it’s your first time. You can learn so much about Rome and its history just by walking through it. It’s so worth doing. Our tour guide was lovely, she gave us some very handy tips like how to pick a good restaurant and how much you should be paying for a cup of coffee. I booked our free tour through https://www.freetourrome.com/. This tour is free, you can give a tip to your tour guide at the end if you wish. Admin fees may apply when booking.

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Colosseum

If you go to Rome, you must see the Colosseum. It is pretty extraordinary and the history of how it came to be how it is today is truly fascinating. Of course you can buy just the entry tickets, tours are not compulsory, but I really recommend booking a guided tour as you can access special parts of the Colosseum that a normal day ticket can not access. For example, depending on the guide you book, you could get a tour of the underground and higher tiers of the Colosseum. The view from the upper tiers and the Belvedere is stunning, so don’t miss out!

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I booked using https://www.musement.com/us/. Whether you want to book just the entry ticket or a tour, book online as you will be able to skip the queue and go straight to the window to collect your ticket. Also, you will beat the prices of the all sales people trying to hassle you to buy through them outside of the Colosseum. Be prepared to say “no thank you” to purchasing a selfie stick every 20 yards lol!

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Vatican City

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Vatican City is technically not part of Rome, but is worth visiting. I booked tickets to visit the Vatican museum, here you can learn even more about the history of Rome. The Sistine Chapel is part of the museum, you can not buy tickets to see just the Sistine Chapel alone. For me, seeing the Sistine Chapel was the cherry on top of the whole visit to the Vatican museum. The walls and ceiling of the Sistine chapel is covered with paintings. I sat and marvelled at Michelangelo’s art and vision for a good half an hour. I used an audio guide throughout the museum, which was nice because I was able to go at my own pace and learn about the things that I was interested in.

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Trevi Fountain

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They say that if you stand with your back to the Trevi fountain and throw a coin from your right hand over your left shoulder, you will return to Rome. Two coins, and you will find a new romance. Three, and you will marry. When I saw the fountain for the first time last year, my husband warned me that I was to only throw in one coin, not two or three LOL. I’m not sure if I believe in legends or myths but I threw in one coin, and I have returned to Rome. It’s all for fun and I think you should do this if you visit. We are very lucky to see the fountain as it is now because it has only been restored back to its full glory just a few years ago, costing 2.2 millions euros, sponsored by FENDI.

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Places To Eat

Aroma

Aroma is my favourite restaurant in the world. Sadly, I couldn’t get a reservation on this visit as they were doing renovations. The food is out of this world. Being a Michelin restaurant, it is pricey. But this is an experience in dining, you really get a sense of the chef Giuseppe Di Iorio’s creativity. The restaurant is on the rooftop and looks over the city and Colosseum, it is so beautiful and romantic in the evening. During the day, if warm enough, it is an open roof top terrace and an excellent place for breakfast and lunch.

Pietro Al Pantheon

Situated right by the Pantheon, this small restaurant offers many traditional Roman dishes that not only tastes great, but authentic. The decor is very, what I call Knick-knacky. There’s lots of bits and bobs all over the place, I found it very charming and my eyes had so much to look at.

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Ambrosia

Ambrosia is a rooftop terrace restaurant and offers fine food. Dinner was lovely, the service impeccable, I really enjoyed my experience here. They have a good cocktail menu and food and drinks are very reasonably priced.

Why visit Rome?

If you love art, history and food then you will love Rome. The fountains, the architecture, there’s so much to see and so much to learn about. Rome being the size it is makes it the perfect city break location because it’s almost impossible to get lost. Every corner you turn there are beautiful churches and fountains with water clean enough to drink from (literally).

You will never think that Italian food is just pasta a pizza ever again. Yes, of course Rome’s restaurants have plenty of pizza and pasta dishes, but there is so much more! Rome is home to some of the finest restaurants in the world, from small family run restaurants to Michelin Star restaurants. And have I mentioned how good the coffee is in Rome?

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Rome is only a 2 and a half hours flight for me. I am so thankful that this little treasure is so close to home and somewhere I can fly to for the weekend. Whether you are going with friends or your partner, it is the perfect city break location and somewhere you must visit once in your life.

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Lipstick Of The Week | Laura Mercier

I’m using Laura Mercier Velour Extreme matte lipstick – Fire £22.00 from Selfridges.

Link

http://www.selfridges.com/GB/en/cat/laura-mercier-velour-extreme-matte-lipstick_304-3005452-12701645/?previewAttribute=Fire

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The Verdict

This matte lipstick comes in many colours and is in the style of a pen. It twists like a traditional lipstick but looks like a fat lip liner. It is creamy and very pigmented. Although it glides on easily, it is hard to get precision as the tip of the lipstick is big and rounded. I recommend using a lip brush to get perfect edges.

I chose the colour Fire. It is a proper red, red. This colour is definitely a statement because it is so bold and would give any monotone outfit a pop of colour. Unlike liquid matte lipsticks, you have lots of time to get it perfect as it doesn’t dry like the way liquid lipsticks do.

I haven’t used any lipsticks in this style before so I can’t compare, but I love the quality and the colour. The pigment and coverage is great, thumbs up from me!

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Hair Transformation | Black to Platinum Blonde (Phase ONE)

5 and a Half Hours in 3 Minutes and 43 Seconds

Just going for it

I loved my long black hair, it was my comfort blanket and it was safe. But I’ve had the same hair style since school and knew it was time for a change. I was a hair stylist’s nightmare, only getting a tiny trim every 6 months and using the occasional box colour to lighten my hair when I felt impulsive. I have been wanting to make a drastic change to my hair for a long time but I have chickened out every time. This time, my amazing friend Melissa Lovell talked me out of copping out. Melissa is a hairstylist/colourist/hair extensions specialist based in Novo, Southend. She has been in the hair industry for over 15 years and I knew I would be in good hands.

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Commitment

Having your hair coloured is a commitment. I am aiming for platinum blonde with dark roots. Before committing to this colour, I did a lot of research about products and how to maintain the colour and health of my hair. I also understood that I would not reach the colour I desire in one sitting but in stages. It is expensive and takes time, so I would recommend to anyone thinking of colouring their hair to do their research before hand.

Phase ONE

Melissa made me feel safe and reassured. Cutting off years and years of hair is a big deal! I was surprised how much I love my hair short. I thought I would look like a boy, but I actually felt more feminine and fun. The cut instantly made my hair look thicker and healthier, I am thrilled with how bouncy and cute it looks.

Colour is unpredictable, you just don’t know how your hair is going to take. Everything went to plan and I was delighted with how light Melissa was able to get my hair with just two bleaches! She used L’Oréal Platinum Lightening paste and developer. With this she also used Olaplex Part 1, any good hair stylist or colour tech will tell you that it is the holy grail of preserving the integrity of your hair. She then left Olaplex Part 2 in my hair for 10 minutes after using L’Oréal P01 Toner to tone my hair.

If you watch the video you will see that we talk ALOT. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself when editing the video! It was so much fun having my hair done by my friend, in total Melissa spent about 5 and a half hours on me. She then did one more bleach and toner the next day to lighten my hair some more.

Results

It’s not going to be a quick journey to get to where I want to be but I am thrilled with how the colour looks so far. I will now have regular appointments to maintain my hair. Again, it’s a commitment. I have purchased all the products recommended to keep my hair healthy but also maintain the colour. I’ll be writing about it soon and also documenting my journey in achieving that platinum blond hair I love so much. Watch this space!

After third Bleach

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Lipstick Of The Week | Estée Lauder

I’m kick starting off my Lipstick Of The Week with Estée Lauder’s Pure Color Envy Paint-On matte liquid lipstick. I’m using 102 Bronze Leaf £25 from Selfridges.

Link

http://www.selfridges.com/GB/en/cat/estee-lauder-pure-color-envy-paint-on-matte-liquid-lipstick-7ml_327-81004877-P364010000/?previewAttribute=100+espresso-matte&cm_mmc=PLA-_-Google-_-BEAUTY-_-ESTEELAUDER&$$&_$ja=tsid:35948%7ccid:198779374%7cagid:10881905254%7ctid:aud-132230873601:pla-103721306974%7ccrid:40370766334%7cnw:g%7crnd:3575306658411216337%7cdvc:m%7cadp:1o1%7cmt:%7cloc:9045013&gclid=Cj0KCQiAp8fSBRCUARIsABPL6Ja3dcG4B347wWP793ON2n_gRnLkGkq5aDea6vI14LKRf4x_3PpG_FwaAq3mEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

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The Verdict

This lusciously silky matte liquid lipstick comes in many beautiful colours. The quality compares to other popular matte liquid lipsticks like Huda Beauty’s. The 7ml bottle will go a long way as the pigment is so good that you won’t even have to use lip liner!

This matte liquid lipstick doesn’t give you that horrible sticky, patchy feeling like you get with some of the cheaper liquid matte lipsticks on the market, nor does it look dodgy and wrinkly when you top it up. It smells amazing and glides on effortlessly, as you can see from the video.

At £25, this lipstick is on the expensive side. But it is luxurious and will last all night (believe me, it lasted through a three course dinner and drinks!). I am a fan, and I will probably be adding more colours to my collection. I hope you enjoyed reading my Lipstick Of The Week. Please read my blog every Monday to see what lipstick I will be trying next.

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Review | Foreo Luna Mini

Foreo Luna Mini

This year I decided to add this little device into my skincare routine. I chose the Fereo Luna Mini, which uses T-Sonic™ technology to help break down oil and dirt in your skin. It is made of a silicon material which means it is hygienic and non abrasive on the skin. Unlike devices that uses bristle heads, this does not need to be replaced regularly and is suitable for daily use.

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What it looks like

The Luna Mini comes in many colours including very cute pastel colours, but I was worried that over time my makeup would stain the pastel colours so I chose Fushia, it looks adorable on my bathroom shelf. On one side it has thinner touch-points, suitable for gentle cleansing. It features thicker touch-points grouped at the top for precision cleansing for areas like around your nose and on the reverse side it has broader touch-points which I use for cleansing after wearing heavy makeup.

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Features

I was really impressed that it has up to 300 uses from a single full charge. I have friends who use Foreo Luna devices and say that they have only charged it once in a whole year! It is fully waterproof which means you can use it in the shower. For the under eye area, it has less intense settings, and it pulsates so you can keep track of how long you have cleansed each area of your face. Charging is easy as it comes with a USB charger cable, although you won’t have to charge it regularly.

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Is it worth the price tag?

I must note that I have the older version. Foreo have now released a model called Luna Mini 2 £119 on http://www.foreo.com. The difference is that the brush face is now 50% bigger. The new brush face is more similar to Foreo’s larger version, Foreo Luna. Foreo Luna retails at £169 on their website. I purchased mine from http://www.lookfantastic.com on sale for £55.25 from £85, to me this is a bargain especially as I hadn’t tried it and didn’t know if I would like it. Is it worth £85? For me, yes. I was lucky enough to get this on sale, but I would have happily paid full price for the Foreo Luna Mini. It comes with 2 years warranty and seems pretty much indestructible. It is small and compact, pretty and really gives your skin a deep clean.

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Results

I always tone after I cleanse my face and usually I have residue left over on the cotton pad. Since using the Foreo Luna Mini, my skin feels so clean and the evidence is my clean cotton pad after I tone. I also feel like the pulses helps increase blood flow to my skin, giving me that healthy glow. I would recommend Foreo Luna Mini, my skin has never felt so clean. I currently use this with my regular facial cleanser but I may try Foreo’s own facial cleanser. If you would like to see me try Foreo’s own facial cleanser or have any questions, please comment or message me!

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Brussels

Our girls weekend away

If I had known how quick and easy it is to get from London to Brussel via Eurostar, I would have gone a lot sooner. This was a last minute girly get away with my cousins and my sis. We all wanted to get away for a weekend and we all share a mutual love for Churros and mulled wine. Brussels in late November/December is perfect for that as the Christmas market opens up late November.

Accommodation

I have to thank my cousin who arranged everything. We stayed in a modern apartment with very interesting decor. Conveniently it was just a short walk from Central and not too far from the main train station. The area itself was lovely, however our Air bnb host warned us that there are areas which are still up and coming and not safe to walk through. This made me feel a little bit nervous but of course we found it very safe in Brussels, police were always around and we were sensible with our belongings.

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Christmas lights – Grand Place

If you have been to Brussels recently, then you too like myself have probably gone home and downloaded Sia’s Christmas album on your Spotify. The Grand place is the main attraction of Brussels and around this time of year they hold a light show in the Square where the magnificent buildings light up in colourful lights which synchronised with songs from Sia’s Christmas album. The square was packed with many tourists who have travelled to Brussels just for the Christmas markets. The experience was overwhelming, emotional and really got me in the Christmas spirit.

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Christmas Market

All I could smell was Christmas. Rich aromas of mulled wine, sausages and Churros filled the cold air. The gorgeous market stalls were lit up with festive decorations, selling things like handcrafted presents and Christmas baubles. For the beer lovers, there was a huge outdoor beer garden which looked very warm and inviting. But I’m more of a mulled wine kind of girl so we walked around with mulled wines in hands to warm us up.

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Food

We were spoilt for choice with places to eat. However I would advise that to get into a nice restaurant you should book ahead as it was quite busy and the average waiting time was 20 minutes at most places. My favourite place we went for Brunch was Houtsiplou Cafe & Restaurant. It just so happened to across the road from where we stayed, unfortunately we only discovered it on the very last day before we were due to catch our train home, otherwise I think we would have had breakfast there everyday. This spot is a hipster’s dream. The walls were covered in beautiful cartoon art, something you can imagine seeing in Camden or Shoreditch. The menu had a good variety of choices, from mussels to impressive tower burgers.

Mussels in Brussels

Brussels has many places to eat. We even managed find Vietnamese food. But what I was really looking forward to was a good pot of mussels as Brussels is famous for their mussels. I was not disappointed when we chose to enjoy a pre-dinner munch and drink at Brussels Brasserie BB situated in Grand place. We sat on the third floor so had a great view of the square, just in time for the light show. Between us we had mulled wine and Beer with our mussels and calamari, it was just perfection.

Drinks

We enjoyed drinks at a small bar called Groupil Le Foul through recommendation. I was fascinated to say the least. It was creepy but kind of cool, dark, very small and there was not an an inch of wall or ceiling that wasn’t covered with some sort of art or picture. There wasn’t a massive variety of cocktails but I was more than happy with a G&T and the company. This bar isn’t for everyone but I liked that it was cosy and full of interesting things to look at.

Can we go again?

I fell in love with Brussels and I feel like there’s still so many places to explore. There’s lots of interesting bars and restaurants I’d like to try. My short blog does not cover what a lovely trip this was. I will definitely be going again and I may make this a Christmas tradition. I wish you all a wonderful Christmas, may your bellies be full of mince pies and mulled wine!

All my love,

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