The pursuit of...the perfect Macaron




Macaron? Macaroon?.....Before I wrote this post I had to do a bit of research to enlighten myself to the correct name and pronunciation of these gorgeous little pastry treats pictured above.  Even spellcheck seems to think that the correct spelling is with two 'o's or that I'm trying to spell macaroni!
However, after checking, I have to admit that I have been making the common mistake by calling these sandwich like pastries macaroons which are something quite different entirely.

These Macarons are from the exquisite luxury pastry brand Ladurée in Paris. 
When I was there a while back with friends, we made a beeline to the Champs-Elysées where this gorgeous patisserie house landmark is based. It was on our list of things we must do when in Paris.
It stood out in its trademark pistachio green exterior with gold gilding and as we stepped through the doors, it was like stepping back in time to the bygone era of sophisticated and chic tearooms.



It was as expected really busy inside with a long winding queue of people waiting to purchase their treats.  We decided we would sit inside the tea room to really soak up the atmosphere. We were guided up the plush stairway to a small room with luxurious heavy draped curtains, traditional wall panels with oil paintings on the walls.  The colour scheme and décor is all very 1920s Parisian and it really felt like I was somewhere special.

Menu



There was a large selection of different flavoured macarons to choose from the menu and they all sounded so delicious- in the end I chose a pistachio macaron to go with my cup of tea.....I could of chosen Champagne instead of tea but I am a creature of habit and besides, I was in a tearoom after all!


I don't know how to describe this macaron apart from....heavenly
It was light, (so so light), full of pistachio flavour, crunchy and firm on the outside and then smooth chewy and soft in the inside. I savoured that macaron for as long as I could as I had never tasted anything like it before.  I don't know if it was the atmosphere of  Ladurée contributing to the flavour experience but it really tasted exquisite!


Decisions, decisions....
Of course, after that I queued to buy some more to take home with me.  I chose Raspberry, Lemon, Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry and another Pistachio...the pistachio one did not make it home!!


Since being back I have with trepidation tried macarons again knowing deep down that they could never match those of Ladurée.  I somehow didn't want my pleasant memory to be marred by a bad macaron (so dramatic!) so good of an impression and experience I had in Paris.
They were from Marks and Spencer which means of course they were not freshly made that day but in all honesty they weren't actually too bad. The flavour wasn't as impactful but still ok with a mug of PG Tips!
As Ladurée is now a worldwide chain we have one in London's Covent Garden which was the first destination it branched out to.
The exterior although it is in the trademark colours is nowhere near as impressive as the Champs-Elysées original and I've heard the macarons aren't as good here either, though I'd be surprised as I'm sure they use the same traditional recipes and techniques....but I guess you can't really beat a true Parisian patisserie.

If you haven't done so already, treat yourself and try these gorgeous treats-you'll be glad you did.

I have got a busy weekend over the next couple of days with a dear friends birthday celebration to attend so I will be back on Monday with a new post.

Till then fashion and beauty bunnies...

Love, Ivy George x


What's in My Make-Up Bag



Every now and then, in between 'pursuits', I thought it might be a good idea to show you what is inside the contents of my make-up bag.
I always go through transitions of brands.
One minute it's all MAC, then I try all Bobbi Brown, at the moment it's a mixture of both including some Avon......and guess what, I'm in the middle of another transition! NARS cosmetics is calling my name, so expect another 'What's in my Make-Up Bag' very soon.

So...starting from the top left and working clockwise:

  • Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick in 7.5 (Warm Walnut)
I have worn Bobbi Brown Foundation off and on for a number of years now, but I have always worn the liquid form (coming up).
Now I must say that I was swayed to buy the foundation stick after a recent tweet by a certain South London supermodel:
 

...Hold on, Ms Campbell says this is a product that she cannot live without?...I must try it!
Fast forward to Stansted Airport World Duty Free Shop, when I ask for the Foundation stick in 6.5-Warm Almond, the colour I have worn for the last how many years.  The Bobbi Brown consultant happily tells me that I am lucky as its the last one she has in stock and pops it into a bag for me.  I skip off smiling inside thinking that I have now got a beauty insider's secret to flawless looking skin.
Anyway, long story short, she sold me the wrong colour! A whole shade up.....however....I have tried it and it is still a good match for my skin tone.
It is quite a large size and I would imagine that it would last a considerable amount of time due to the fact that you really do not need to use a lot to get a good coverage.
It is less messy than the liquid version- just a few strokes all over your face and then I use my fingers to blend it in. No brushes, although I guess you could use one. No messy pump to deal with.
The only thing is that although it is a cream on a stick, it does drag the skin slightly as you move it over your face. It is quite solid. Also, it is not very mattifying. I have a very oily T-Zone, and this product alone is not enough to give a matt coverage. A powder is still needed.
All in all, I am glad I brought it, easy to apply and blends in brilliantly and looks less cakey than a liquid foundation. Verdict: Thumbs up.


  • MAC Viva Glam Lipstick V1
I was introduced to this lipstick when I went into the MAC at Westfield Stratford a couple years back.  The stunning MAC consultant after hearing that I wanted a red lippy to suit my skin tone immediately went for this one.
I not only brought it but left the shop wearing it- a sure sign that I was a happy bunny!
It is a gorgeous deep matt red and is really quite flattering. It is easy to apply, but make sure lips are in good condition i.e. no flakiness as it does draw attention to problem areas.
Whenever I wear this lipstick I get compliments of people telling me how much it suits me and asking where its from. It has great staying power too, as in it stays on the lips very well but you do get transference onto cups/glasses etc.  See my post The Pursuit of Accessories for me wearing this lipstick. Verdict: Again, thumbs up.



  • Bobbi Brown Long Wearing Even Finish Foundation SPF15 6.5 Warm Almond
This is the product I had been using before I transferred to the Foundation Stick.
Again, it was a great match for my skin tone. Not too orangey or yellow but also not ashy.
It had good coverage but it is very easy to apply too much and that's when it can look cakey and oily.
I used to use a brush and sometimes fingers to apply this, but its so messy. I used to get smears on my light switches and wardrobe doors from not wiping my hands properly after applying and it has ruined so many bath towels as I always used to just grab a towel to wipe any spillages or excess off my hands.
It's also supposed to be oil-free but I found it extremely oily-especially around my eye lids and nose area.  I stuck with it for such a long time because the match was so good and also I don't really wear a lot of foundation so it was good for what I needed. Verdict: Trumped by the Foundation Stick.


  • Avon Irresistibly Sexy Sultry Lip Pencil-Red Vixen
This lip pencil is being discontinued by Avon!! It is almost the exact match for MAC's Viva Glam but is a slightly deeper red and again is a matt look. 
It is more like a lip crayon than a pencil but does the job of a lip pencil as well if you outline your lips before filling in. I absolutely love this and have ordered 3 from the latest campaign as it won't be featured any more which is a real shame.
This lip crayon has brilliant staying power, only really need a little touch up after eating etc.
I love matt colours but you really do need to keep your lips in top condition. I use Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream at night on my lips and use a finger in a flannel to exfoliate and get rid of any loose skin.
Verdict: Thumbs up.


  • MAC Amplified Girl About Town
Another lipstick introduced to me by the girls in MAC Westfield Stratford.
A bright punchy almost fuchsia pink/purple.  It's a great fun colour and really does stand out.  It's not for everyday wear...well, for me anyway....but it really does bring together a look/outfit.
It's a creamy consistency rather than matt and feels lovely on the lips although you do need to reapply this more often. See my post The Pursuit of Accessories for me wearing this lipstick.
Verdict: Thumbs up.

 
 

 
  • Avon MagiX Face Perfector SPF 20
This is a cream to powder formula that is designed to smooth pores and lines and give a oil-free HD finish.
As I have already stated, I feel I suffer from that dreaded 'forehead' shine so this really appealed to me when I read about it. Your supposed to wear it under foundation to perfect the skin or you could wear it alone.
It is a solid white colour when it comes out the tube which is quite frightening as you wonder how it will blend in but it does dissolve and disappear and becomes colourless.
It has a strange kind of 'chalky' almost consistency when blended and is instantly mattifying.  You really have to work it in though to get rid of any signs of the white residue.
I'm not sure about this one.  I tried it a couple of times but felt like my pores were clogged and I got a tiny little rash of spots down the side of my face.  I think it might be good to use after your make up is applied to tackle shine as and when it happens but I did not like the feel of this one.
It has a gorgeous smell though as it contains rose extract.
Verdict: Still in two minds- might need to try a few more times.
 
 
  • Vaseline Limited Edition - Paint The Town Red Lip Tint
This little Vaseline tin is so cute.  I love the red colour and it has a great sillouhette of a city skyline on the front.  Its much more expensive than the other ones from the range coming in at £3.49 approx. but that could be because its a tint aswell.
I don't like it.  It smells too fruity and doesn't tint the lips that great. You cannot build the colour up as your lips just become to greasy.  I'm not a great fan of Vaseline on the lips per se anyway as I feel that it doesn't really moisturise but just creates a barrier that can in my case irritate your lips.  Also it wears off so quickly that you just become addicted to applying more. How many people have you seen continuously applying their tin of Vaseline religiously every 30 seconds.  Far better to put on a bit of long lasting lip gloss.
Apart from looking good in my makeup bag this is a no-no for me.  Verdict: Thumbs down.
 
 
 
 

  • YSL Touche Éclat Radiant Touch (Number 6)
I discovered Touch Éclat back in 2000 when I was flying. 
It used to fly off our duty free cart and I wondered what all the buzz was about.  Back then it only came in 4 shades and the number 4 you could only get in certain countries-not including the UK.
I used to buy it in Sephora in New York and Miami and then it started to appear in Selfridges in London a few years later.
Now, at last, they have an extensive colour range to suit all skin tones coming in at a whopping 12 shades! How far we have come.
I use number 6 as strangely number 4 has disappeared when they overhauled their colour grading system.
It is by far the best under eye concealer I have ever used.  But it is much more than that- you can use it to bring luminosity and radiance to the brow bone, contour your nose area and even to create fuller looking lips.
This will always be a firm favourite in my make up bag. Verdict: Big thumbs up.
 
 
  • Avon Shimmer Block
Avon have really impressed me with this shimmer block.  It really does rival the big luxury brands including the Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick which I think it has been inspired from.
Unlike the BB Shimmer Brick it only comes in only one colour palette at the moment which is a lovely golden brown with bronze colours.
It has a very subtle shimmer to it so you don't get lots of glitter all over your face and I find the golden colours work well on my skin tone.  They are probably not dark enough to do effective contouring but it does give a lovely highlighted look which I love.
Verdict: Thumbs up.
 
 
  • Miss Dior EDP Miniature
I always carry miniatures in my make-up bag.  It's nice for when you just need a little touch up instead of having to carry the full size around with you.
It's quite fruity and floral which is the notes I am normally attracted to.  My all time favourite Christian Dior Perfume though is J'Adore Dior.  I love, love, love this scent and I just love that advert with Charlize Theron running backstage to make it onto the runway in time even more! 
So chic, glamourous and sophisticated-J'adore!!
 
 
  • Bobbi Brown Sheer Finish Pressed Powder (Soft Honey 8)

This is my shine-free god send! A sheer powder that I just use a brush to sweep all over my face to set my make up and keep it matt. It is not chalky at all and this is the one that works for me.  In the past I have used similar products from MAC including MAC Blot Powder, but this one does not look cakey after application-that dreaded after effect of applying too much product.
Verdict: Thumbs up.


 
  •  Bobbi Brown Face Touch Up Stick (6.5 Warm Almond)
This tiny stick I use on top of concealer after I have applied it around my eye area. Just a tiny amount and then blend it in so I don't have a tell-tell concealer circle. It is brilliant and really just a smaller version of the Foundation Stick.
Verdict: Thumbs up.
 
 
 
  • Bobby Brown Shimmer Blush (Flame 4)

This blush if you look at is has lots of tiny reflective particles in it and it does have a beautiful shimmer effect when applied.
I love deep maroon/red colours but with an added bronzer effect and this delivers.
Too much and I do look a bit 'Aunt Sally' in Worzel Gummidge! so I have to be careful with my blusher application as I never think I have enough on!
For years I used a similar colour blusher from Iman but then as always when you become too accustomed to a certain colour they discontinue it. This is the closest I have got and at the moment I like it.


So that's the end of 'What's in My Make-Up Bag' for now.  I hope you have enjoyed this review.
When I have made the transition to NARS or anything else that takes my fancy along the way, I'll update you all with another edition!

Take care for now beauty and fashion bunnies...

Love, Ivy George x


 
 
 


The pursuit of...fabulous cities



At the beginning of this month I visited the beautiful and picturesque city of Seville in Spain.
I wasn't sure what to expect from Seville, my imagination told me it would be quiet and quaint full of little traditional villages.
The reality was quite different. The only way I can describe it is as...stunning.
I went to many fascinating and buzzing cities around the world in my past life as a Virgin Atlantic Flight Attendant, but since my last 'working' flight 10 years ago, I have started to explore Europe more and more. 
I think bar Paris, Seville has to be up there as my favourite European city.

Everywhere you looked was a snapshot moment.  There was narrow cobbled streets with pastel coloured apartments displaying vibrant, fabulous window boxes from their balconies (below).


There were streets lined with trees full of the famous Seville Oranges which are traditionally used for making marmalade as it is very bitter in its natural state. It was so beautiful to look up into the trees and see bright orange balls of fruit-something you definitely don't see every day in colder climes!


There is the truly spectacular 'Plaza de Espana' which is a semi-circular brick building, with a tower at either end sat on a canal crossed by four bridges.
I did the very touristy thing of renting a small boat and rowing under the four bridges-it is such a gorgeous place and there is so much ornate detail in the architecture of the buildings that you could easily spend hours there just soaking it all in (below).
I was there until sunset and the image of the sun setting behind this idyllic view is something that will stay with me for a long time.


The Seville Cathedral is the cities main draw and even if you are not of the catholic faith it is still a jaw dropping and moving sight to hold. It is the third largest church in the world!
It was extremely busy with large organised tours but the inside is so vast that it can accommodate everybody. 
There were a few people sat crossed legged on the floor, with drawing pads and watercolours, hoping to capture the images in print.
I took many photo's but they really do not do the cathedral justice, as the many gothic carved scenes were just so intricate and ornate that they have to be seen with the naked eye to be appreciated.
If you ever go to Seville, this is a must-see.

Finally, I visited the oldest bullring in the world:-
The Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballeria de Sevilla.



There was no bullfighting scheduled on that day (thankfully, as although it is a huge Spanish tradition, I am not sure how I would feel about seeing a live bullfight in action) but I did pay to have a guided tour at it really was fascinating learning all about the history and the techniques that the Matadors have to learn to be successful and ultimately, revered by the locals. 

The food was lovely too.  I love trying local delicacies and of course it was Tapas everywhere.
As soon as you sit down in any restaurant or bar you are presented with olives and these tiny breadsticks that are just so 'moorish'!
I don't think I actually had a full meal anywhere! It was just lots of different portions of different dishes on my plate but all so authentic and delicious.
One thing I just loved but is a bit naughty (oh well, I was on holiday!) was Churros, a type of Spanish doughnut which is dipped in hot chocolate-amazing! (below)....I've also got a Rum and Raisin Ice Cream smoothie in this picture!!!



Lastly, I'll leave you with a few tips when travelling.
Suitcase:
The first suitcase I ever brought was a Samsonite hard shell case. I brought it in 2002 for my first longhaul trip to Los Angeles and it is still going strong 12 years later!
This case has been flung around by many baggage handlers around the world as it was the case I used for work. It was an investment as it cost around £150, but I needed a case that would stand the test of time and it sure has.  It has even withstood being melted as one night I left it front of the gas fireplace...the smell of burning plastic soon woke me up from my jet lagged state (and the fact that I could have burned the house down!) so it now has a little melted corner as a memento!
For cheaper options, Primark do a really good range of trendy suitcases. I brought a case from here a few years ago in a lovely 'Laura Ashley' esque style....It's so easy to spot as it comes down the baggage belt and I don't think they made many of them as I have hardly seen anyone else with this case which is a bonus! (below).
Also, try and buy a case with a separate zipped area inside- it is perfect for storing shoes.

My Primark case with essential reading material!


Carrier bags:
Always take some extra carrier bags in your suitcase.  You'll be so glad you did. They are perfect for putting dirty laundry in so you don't have to mix them with your clean clothes...and you also don't have to worry that your unwashed smalls may appear on that baggage belt at Heathrow trailing behind your broken suitcase!
They are also great for packing wet items like swimsuits, towels, wash rags and toothbrushes- stops your clothes from smelling damp.
I also like to put all of my hair products into plastic bags as then I don't have to worry about leakage spoiling any of my travel wash bags.

Hand Luggage:
If you are checking a suitcase in, then travel light on the plane.
Make sure you have all your essentials for the flight like passport, e-ticket etc. Some people use a travel wallet but I have always just used the inside pocket of a large bag. That way it's all secured and in one place together.
Make sure you have a couple of magazines to keep you going...I always bring a book on my flight but find it so hard to switch off and get into it that I always just end up skimming through a 'Hello' or 'OK' magazine...I love people watching and there's too many distractions on a flight!
Also, always pack a spare pair of knickers in your hand luggage...you never know if your bag is going to make it to the same destination as you at the same time!!

That's it from me today, let me know if you've got any other tips to share.

Love, Ivy George x

The pursuit of...long lasting Nail Varnish

Avon Nail Polish Collection
From Left-Right, Lavender Sky (GF), Impulsive Sky, Viva Pink, Opal Top Coat, Real Red, Wine and Dine Me (GF), Roses Are Red (GF), Envy(GF), Red Velvet(GF), Untamed, Fabulous(GF), Mudslide(GF)
*GF-Gel Finish

 
Hello again beauty and fashion bunnies, hope you are all well...
Today, I thought I would share with you my collection of nail varnishes, which I think currently have the longest staying power.
It is from Avon's Gel Finish range. They are currently in 24 shades and claim to have 5 benefits in 1:

  • Gel-like shine
  • No need for top or base coat
  • Intense colour
  • No UV lamp needed
  • Salon finish
Ok, so yes, it does give a brilliant shine and the darker colours have such great pigment that even after one coat the coverage and colour is great.  However, I have found that I still need to put a top coat on to seal the colour and just stop that shrinkage/pull back that you can get at the edge of the nail.  For me also, it just increases the life time of the shine and gives more of a glossy 'shellac' look that you'd expect from a real 'GEL' manicure.
I have managed to get about four days before I have seen any chips or cracks.  Quite good for a normal nail varnish really.
I am very picky about my nail varnishes and having had my own mobile nail company for a while I have used a variation of different varnishes including OPI, Essie, Jessica and Mavala and I must say that Avon's Gel Finish Range is the best for me,
 
Now the range of colours they have are pretty impressive too.  They have really got the pastel trend right with a beautiful colour called 'Lavender Sky'. A gorgeous pastel purple which I think looks lovely on any skin tone.
 
They also have a range called Nailwear pro + which doesn't boast a gel like finish but still has a very good pigment and coverage. My favourites from this are Real Red - a brilliant Pillar Box red colour that is classic and chic and Impulsive Sky - a turquoise pastel blue, perfect for toes in the summer sun.
 
For me the real Gel Manicure of choice though is CND Shellac. Again, they have a great range and the shine and durability you get from a gel manicure really cannot be beaten.
It's so great to be able to get your manicure done and not have to be extra-extra careful after in case of smudges.  Each coat is 'cured' under the UV Lamp and your manicure is instantly as tough as nails.
Brilliant for holidays when you don't really want to have to keep bothering with touching up your nails....and there is always one bottle of varnish that leaks in your travel bag isn't there!! With Shellac, there is no need to bring any bottles with you at all - Bonus!
I always go for 'Wildfire', again a bright 'London Bus' red.
For me red nails are a classic.  It's always been my go-to colour as I know it will go with any outfit and just makes me feel polished and groomed.
 
What's your favourite nail colour or brand?
Get in touch and let me know.
 
Love, Ivy George x


The pursuit of...beautiful accessories


(Left)- I'm wearing MAC Viva Glam Lipstick, (Right)- MAC Amplified Crème Girl About Town


My style has always been about the 'details'. I could be wearing a very simple dark jean with a plain white T-Shirt but I will always have a statement bracelet/cuff, rings or dangly earrings to bring the outfit to life.

I never used to like wearing necklaces/chains. I would always buy them, try them on, but always end up taking them off once I did that final check in the mirror before I left the house!
I don't know what it was, but I always felt they never suited me.

Well on a recent shopping trip in Primark stocking up on knickers and pyjama's (as you do!), I stumbled on a huge range of pretty and colourful statement necklaces in their accessories aisles.
I figured that the prices were so reasonable, that it wouldn't be too bad if I brought yet another chain that I did not wear! Plus they were such good quality too that they were hard to resist.
I chose the one above which has lovely turquoise stones in and pretty pastel colours.......and...............
I haven't stopped wearing it!! Yay, I finally found a style that suits me. I think its the collar style that's a winner for me, although I did buy this gold plaited longer chain (below) which I have worn a few times too. Well, it started off as a plait but has unravelled some what, but I think I prefer it this way!


Gold Plait Chain-Primark, Earrings- H&M

Then of course it's the arm candy. I love, love, love bags! A good statement bag can make or break an outfit. Mine are always oversized. I've had this Louis Vuitton 'Never Full' bag for 5 years now and the tan edging has aged beautifully. The bag itself looks as though I just brought it yesterday even though I no longer store it in the dust bag it came with....and that's the great thing about the luxury brands, you get what you pay for and one of them is longevity.



A great bag and a good pair of sunglasses that suit your face shape can be just the final touch you need to a simple dress or casual outfit.


Zara dress and Sunglasses, Louis Vuitton 'Never Full' bag

I have also started to collect lots of purses and clutch bags in bright colours- again, a cute statement purse, whether its embellished or just a bright punchy colour can complete an outfit.
I love this mustard yellow purse I brought from Pull & Bear last year.  It is such a beautiful colour and texture that I often used it as a clutch bag on evenings out (below).


Purse from Pull & Bear


Then finally, it's the shoe...I used to go mad for shoes and have boxes upon boxes of Kurt Geiger or Moda in Pelle, but now I would rather spend my money on a good bag and spend modestly on shoes.
However, I love a bargain and TK Maxx has often been the place for a surprise designer shoe find.
I was queen of the round toe courts for a while but now I have gone back to my old favourite points.
I love a pointy toe, especially if there's a chance for some toe cleavage too....so chic and subtly sexy!
Patent and deep red are a good choice for me- these burgundy/wine patents I found in Hong Kong last November and instantly fell in love with were 250HKD which is approx. £25-bargain! I came home and this style and colour were everywhere including Ted Baker and Clarkes for over £70!



Burgundy Patent Stiletto Points- Boutique, Hong Kong


These Hot pink Suede points are gorgeous too from TopShop - I purchased them in their sale but they have received many a compliment as they are so striking.

Hot Pink Shoes - TopShop


So that's my head to toe of accessories.

Let me know what you think...

Love, Ivy George x 


The pursuit of...flawless skin

My Liz Earle Starter Kit

While I was in Chelsea the other day, I just had to pop into my favourite skin care shop just off the Kings Road...Liz Earle.
I've tried many different products over the years including Clinique (which was probably the first premium skincare brand I ever purchased), Dermalogica, Shiseido, Dr.Hauschka and Elizabeth Arden - and although I still often vary my routine and change brands every now and then, Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish is always my fail safe.

 
 
It is the most 'awarded' cleanser in the UK (100 awards to be exact!) and I have found Cleanse and Polish to the best cleanser for my oily/combination skin.
It's used with a muslin cloth which you can buy separately from Liz Earle but also comes included in the 'starter packs'. I have so many muslin cloths at home from this range as I always tend to buy the packs rather than the individual cleanser.
 
It's really good at removing make-up, especially mascara.  Many cleansers claim to do this but you still end up waking up with panda eyes or seeing the tell-tell signs on your pillowcase! Not pleasant.
 
It works in two steps - Cleanse:- Pump the cleanser onto dry skin and massage over face and neck in circular motions (I'm getting better at remembering my neck area, especially as I get older!).
Polish:- Then, rinse the muslin cloth in hot water and wring out and use it to wipe off the cream, in particular using a finger inside the cloth to get into the hard to reach areas.
This is where I really feel like my skin is getting a proper clean as the texture of the muslin cloth feels slightly like it's exfoliating. You also see the remnants of your makeup etc. on the cloth.
 
Lastly splash with cool water and dry.
 
My skin always feels soft and smooth after use and my pores appear reduced.  It's the closest I get to a flawless finish.
Don't forget to wash your muslins cloths regularly in the washing machine to keep them as clean as possible.
 
I must mention the store in Chelsea - its like a little haven.  There's only one store in London and they are on Duke of York Square - a hidden little gem in itself just off the busy hustle of the Kings Road.
The staff were super friendly on my visit on Wednesday and they are very knowledgeable about their product.
One of the great things about visiting the actual store rather then the various concessions is that you get to benefit from the special little touches that you would expect from a flagship store.
With my purchase I was offered a choice of a decent sized sample of the other products from their skincare range.
I chose the Liz Earle Skin Repair Light Moisturiser (see below).
 
 
Their website also states that they offer complimentary hand and arm massages (recommend booking first to avoid disappointment, I can imagine they are very popular) and also 'Cake Friday' a weekly event from 2pm every Friday where the team serve tea and cake and answer questions...how quaint and English!
 
After you have finished browsing the store, or maybe getting a treatment or two, walk straight over to the large Zara which includes Zara Home. It is in a beautiful building and again I would have spent a looong time in here had I not had the Chelsea Flower Show to attend! I do love Zara! 
 
 
Why not leave a comment and let me know what your favourite skincare brand is?
Thanks for reading,
 
Love, Ivy George x




The pursuit of...a perfect english rose garden

 
Part of the beautiful David Austin show garden - Gold Winner


I have finally made it to the Chelsea Flower Show! Yay!
I have been wanting to go to this show for years...always a coveted ticket, the Chelsea show is known for its theatrical, big budget, luxurious and show stopping show gardens and is the pinnacle for all gardeners.
Although I wouldn't call myself by no means an expert gardener, since I brought my first home which has a decent sized back garden, I have been obsessed with creating a little outdoor haven and I have discovered that I have become quite good at it! 
Yesterday was press and members day but it was still absolutely heaving with people when I arrived for my afternoon booking.
I was surprised by the sheer number of people and the size of the event itself - It was huge!
....but it was amazing, a feast for all of your senses...from the strong perfumed scent of Lilies as you walk by, to the big colourful displays of Roses, Peonies, Alliums etc to the textured displays of architecture and garden features....beautiful!

My dream has been to always have a beautiful Rose Garden and in my opinion, David Austin do the best. Traditional, old school roses that look just as you think a rose should look. I already have two David Austin's - 'Anne Boleyn' which is a beautiful soft pale pink and 'Molyneux' which is a gorgeous yellow, but I plan to keep adding to that collection.


Above and Below - David Austin Show Garden



There were also a lot of stands where you could purchase garden accessories and other homeware.
It was very similar to the Ideal Home Show in terms of how it was organised.  There were parts where you could just browse and observe and then separate areas where you could purchase your bits and bobs.
Do note though, that the Chelsea Flower Show isn't the place to buy your flowers and plants - the various different stands take only orders largely and few places sell seeds but no fully formed plants/flowers are for sale.

One brand that I did discover at the show which had nothing to do with Flowers, was
Heyland and Whittle who are purveyors of fine soaps and luxury room fragances.
I think I'm in love....they had a stand with gorgeous natural soaps and fabulous smelling handwashes and lotions. In particular I liked their 'Green Tea and Grapefruit' and their 'Coconut, Vanilla & Blackpepper' hand lotions - so gorgeous! Look out for them if you haven't discovered them already.

All in all, I had a great time at the show, it was everything I imagined, but I can't deny that it was busy and at times it was difficult to get close to any of the show gardens until later on in the evening, but it's to be expected.

Below are some more pictures I took at the show for you to enjoy including the 'Alan Titchmarsh' creation...

Love, Ivy George x










Alan Titchmarsh Garden












The pursuit of...soft skin

Quick post this morning as I am off to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show today. I'm really looking forward to it as I am really into my garden at the moment and I will share pictures from the day at the show later this week.
But before that, I wanted to post about my favourite skin moisturiser at the moment: -
Avon's Skin So Soft Dry Oil Spray.
As Avon is celebrating over 50 years of the 'Skin So Soft' brand, they have released a limited edition vintage version which is super cute and looks lovely on by beauty stand!



Left - (Limited edition style) Right - (Original packaging)
 
Avon claims it's the UK's favourite dry oil spray and it is one of their biggest sellers.
It contains Jojoba oil and is designed to lock in moisture when applied to wet skin (a bit like Johnson's Baby Oil).
I have never applied it to wet skin as I find that I just end up wiping most of it off with a towel as I haven't got the patience to wait until it's all absorbed, but to dry skin it works just as well.

It sprays on as a fine oily film but absorbs very quickly and leaves my skin feeling really soft and smooth.  It has a lovely subtle aroma too which is not overpowering and does not interfere with any perfume that I wear.
I always pop it in my work bag as it is great for when you get dry elbows/ankles during the day and need some quick moisturisation. It's also so quick and easy to apply. Just spray, rub in and go!

The biggest  draw for many people including myself is that it also works as an insect/mosquito repellent! It has some sort of ingredient in it that is really effective at keeping midges away.
Rumour has it that the US military use Skin So Soft Dry Oil Spray because of this reason and many people include it as their must-have holiday item.
I always make sure I spray some on just before I go into the garden to do some gardening as it really does repel those little bugs who like to bite!

It comes at such a reasonable price (normal price £5) but there is sometimes a special offer on them which makes it even more of a bargain.

There is a range of other products within the Skin So Soft brand, however the Dry Oil Spray is my favourite.

Contact your local Avon representative for availability.

Try it and let me know what you think.

Love, Ivy George x

The pursuit of...good health

Yesterday I woke up feeling focused and renewed.
I have been naughty over the last few weeks and have really fallen off my healthy wagon.
What with all those Easter eggs and Hot Cross Buns in April and then my trip to Seville where it would have been rude not to try the local delicacies including 'Churros' (a type of Spanish doughnut which is dipped in hot chocolate) for breakfast....every day.
So it was finally time to get my act together.
Fresh seasonal fruits for breakfast always perk me up and set me up for the day right.
I had this bowl of blueberries and raspberries followed by a small passion fruit - delicious.




 Blueberries are a great 'superfood' and are known for their high antioxidant capacities- they also taste great and are brilliant as a little snack in between meals.
You could also have the fruit with some good quality natural yoghurt poured over the top, sprinkled with some flaxseed which is said to have a high Omega-3 content -good for your cardiovascular system.




 I don't normally buy Passion Fruit but was tempted after having a gorgeous Passion Fruit Pavlova (naughty again!) at a restaurant last week. It had a slight tang to it which I found very interesting and the consistency wasn't very appealing...frogspawn come to mind anyone?!...but it's exotic, tropical flavour is the real draw and makes this delightful little fruit very 'moorish'.

After going out for a nice long walk to clear the cobwebs, I came home and made this very quick dinner of baked sweet potato chips with a little soured cream-perfect on its own, or if you choose to, with some protein like grilled chicken or baked fish.



It's so easy to make, just cut some sweet potato into thick wedges and place in a baking tray.
Sprinkle some Olive Oil over and for a little kick, I added some Paprika and dried Thyme.
Toss together making sure all wedges are coated and then leave in the oven until crisp and golden.
......delicious!

Before I went to bed, I had a nice mug of warming ginger tea. The one I have is made with granules instead of a bag and the flavour is so much more intense- it really takes the edge off any sweet hunger pangs I may get in the evening.

Now the weather is getting warmer, it inspires me to want to eat more fresh, seasonal and less stodgy foods.
With so many new fruits and vegetables in season its easier than ever to get inspiration for light summer meals and snacks.

What is your perfect healthy summer meal? What health kick tips do you have?

Get in touch and let me know.

Love, Ivy George x
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