Category Archives: Mini-Review

A lovely LUSH-ified Mother’s Day

LUSH Mother's Day 2016

The Mother’s Day range has come out once again at LUSH, and since Luxembourg celebrates Mother’s Day next Sunday, I thought I’d write a little post about these truly lovely products/gifts just before it’s Mother’s Day over here.

Not all of the pictured items are from the Mother’s Day collection, because I also picked up a few other bits – like the Rehab shampoo on the top left (it’s got another name in French), and the Thanks Dad soap, for my brother-in-law and sister-in-law who just became parents (so they deserved a little treat). I also bought the new Smuggler’s Soul scrub for my boyfriend.

Here are some products from the Mother’s Day range which I can’t wait to try out:

  • Ladybird bubble bar – minty and fresh, and can last for several baths.
  • Rose Bombshell bath bomb – this is my favourite. The smell of roses in this is absolutely heavenly. I need to keep this one for a special bath on a very tough day.
  • Yummy Mummy shower gel – a repeat from last year’s range, and a very sweet-smelling shower gel with the best colour.
  • Flowering Tea bubble bar (bath dunk) – oh my. This one is special. It’s a giant tea-bag-shaped bubble bar, which allegedly spews flowers once it melts down enough. Very much looking forward to this one.

Hope you love the purple-and-Mother’s-Day themed products at LUSH right now. You don’t need me to tell you this, but they make great presents, particularly when the person is a little stressed out at the moment. Hint hint. Nudge nudge. Buy me LUSH stuff. <3

LUSH Oxford Street

LUSH Oxford Street

I visited the LUSH store on Oxford Street, London. It was absolutely mind-blowing. THREE FLOORS of LUSH products and beautiful shop assistants. I spent waahaaay too much time in there, and finally calmed down a little when a shop assistant called Becca asked me whether I was looking for something in particular. So I told her that I just wanted to look at some mostly-Oxford-Street-only products. 30 minutes later, I was armed with a bunch of beautiful products (sadly, my tiny hand-luggage-only travelling situation precluded me from buying much more… Well, there’s always NEXT TIME).

These are the products I picked up:

  • Jersey Bounce shampoo – I haven’t tried this yet, but its smell was too enticing, and I had to buy it. It was described to me as “Like Big” (which I love) “but more moisturising”. Sounds fantastic.
  • T’eo solid deodorant – I’ve actually used this every single day since I bought it. It’s smell wakes me up (in a soothing way) and it seems to do the job perfectly well.
  • Avocado Co-Wash solid shampoo – This is a conditioning shampoo which smells absolutely divine (limey, but very sweet too). It doesn’t lather too well for me, so maybe I’m not using it super correctly, but smells good enough for me to look forward to using it every time I need to wash my hair. Probably wouldn’t re-purchase it, though.
  • Shark-Infested Custard bath oil – I haven’t used this yet, but I really wanted to buy a bath oil, and I asked for the one that’s most moisturising. It looks SO COOL as well. Not recommended for my readers in warm climates, though, unless you’re going to use it immediately (it melts at body temperature).
  • Gold FUN – I had never been too interested in trying LUSH’s FUN bars. They seemed cute for children, but nothing I would probably want to use myself. OH, HOW WRONG I WAS. HOW VERY, VERY WRONG. I am a complete convert – this play-doh-like soap lathers up beautifully and smells so good. It leaves my skin super soft and I’m already planning my next FUN purchase (I’ve already used this one up almost completely).

LUSH products are (clearly) always a good idea. Now I need to use everything up. So that I can buy more LUSH stuff. Oh yes.

Violets and nuns, oh my! (The LUSH Mother’s Day range.)

Claire Bonello LUSH

LUSH warms the cockles of my heart. It’s such a fun, good company, with excellent products and lovely staff. This week, I headed off to a bloggers’ event where we all discovered the new Mother’s Day range. (PS: yes, I know, Mother’s Day was last Sunday in Malta, and even earlier in other parts of the world, but in Luxembourg, it’s much later, in June.) The event was top-notch, as usual, (they even gave us gorgeous fresh flowers for our hair! And the LUSH representatives were kind enough to translate all their beautiful French explanations into English for poor little me) and I emerged with such a feel-good feeling.

Mostly due to the delicious strawberry concoction (above) and the delicious nibbles (below). Oh my, I must have had about five desserts. So good.

LUSH Mother's Day nibbles

The LUSH team are the kindest with bloggers, and sent us all home with a giant bag full of wonderful stuff from the Mother’s Day range. Clockwise from the top: Ultraviolet bubble bar, Yummy Mummy shower gel, Yummy Mummy body conditioner, Kerbside Violet solid perfume, and the Mother Superior bubble bar.

LUSH Mother's Day 2015

My favourites have to be the beautiful purple-y Yummy Mummy shower gel, and the hilarious Mother Superior bubble bar. Apart from looking amazing, they also smell out-of-this-world wonderful, and after a couple of hours at a LUSH shop, I practically radiated a fresh LUSH scent out of my pores. (I loved it.)

LUSH Mother's Day range

I had the best time with my sweet Luxembourg friends. Below, I’m posing with the lovely Betty and my best Luxembourg friend, Valentina. (My dress is from Zara.)

LUSH Betty Valentina Claire

It was a fabulous event, and I can’t wait to use up all my new products. I also picked up the Mask of Magnaminty (after trying out a sample a few weeks ago and loving it), and I became slightly obsessed with one of their new fragrances, All Good Things (it smells smokey yet sweet like candy floss – amazing) – I must save up for it ASAP.

And now our bathroom is a little overwhelmed by LUSH products… Oh well. ;)

The Luxembourg City Film Festival: Reviewed

Cinema is quickly becoming one of my most favourite media. Yes, I read a lot of books, and I watch a lot of TV shows and a lot of YouTube channels, but films have slowly started to increasingly interest me as a story form. A whole idea, style and story are bundled up into 1.5-3 hours, and they’re (usually) presented as a feast for all the senses.

Within the first 24 hours of moving to Luxembourg, I visited one of the cinemas in the city, and watched a film (in English!). It was delightfully calming to be in a dark room, in this strange foreign country, watching a film – I could have been anywhere, and that thought was very soothing. Then, between 26 February and 8 March, the city hosted the Luxembourg City Film Festival, and my boyfriend and I purchased two festival passes (a steal at 20EUR each), and watched a total of 14 (FOURTEEN) films during the entire festival. It was possibly quite the overdose of films, but overall great fun. I was quite surprised by the final awards (although I only saw two of the films that won an award), but I thought I’d give you a quick review of my thoughts regarding the entire festival, as well as each of the films I watched.

Best cinema: I watched films at both the Cinémathèque and Ciné Utopia, but the latter will always be my favourite (even if the former does have quite a bit of its own charm).

Best snacks: I still can’t understand how some cinemas don’t have popcorn (it’s probably that darn Americanisation my mind has absorbed over the years…), but it was glorious to munch on a giant pretzel at the Cinémathèque, and a pomegranate and cranberry soft drink or a white chocolate milk shake and a hot quiche at Ciné Utopia. One of the most upsetting moments of the festival for me was probably when the person at the snacks station at Ciné Utopia looked at me pleadingly when I asked her for a white chocolate milkshake, and then suggesting that I don’t order it, clearly because she didn’t feel like making one. It broke my little heart. Then, later on, my boyfriend managed to get TWO white chocolate milkshakes (from the other person at the snacks station) – so that was a mini-victory right there.

Female protagonists: EVERYWHERE. I loved this. I’m having a real “moment” with female protagonists lately, especially in my books, TV shows, and films, so this recurring feature was very pleasing to me.

Read more about the films I watched below:

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Moovijob Job Fair 2015

Moovijob job fair 2015

This morning, after my French lesson, I popped over to the Moovijob job fair in Luxembourg, which my fabulous French friend helped organise. I thought I’d just go over, spend a few minutes, have a quick coffee, and head home. Not the case! This job fair was absolutely massive – with scores of stands and a crazy amount of people. This job fair meant business.

As soon as I entered, a very welcoming woman took my email address to register me, and I walked up to a desk and grabbed a plan of the entire fair. Queues were forming everywhere, particularly in front of some big companies like ING and Ferrero. Everyone was dressed up to the nines, carrying flyers and free tote bags. I walked around (it took quite a while!) and was very impressed by the booths and the companies involved. There were some very large companies/entities, such as IKEA, TATA, Ferrero, the University of Luxembourg, Alter Domus… Many job vacancies available tended to be in the financial services/funds field (typical for Luxembourg), but there was a wealth of options for a lot of different people looking for different things. My aim at the job fair was mostly to take a look, but I spoke to a few people at booths and they were incredibly friendly and approachable – and, would you believe it, the first person I spoke to was Maltese! It’s a super-tiny world.

Job fairs (on this scale!) seem like the easiest way for an employable (or soon-to-be employable) person to meet as many companies as possible and get as much information as possible about how companies work, what they might offer, and to get their CVs out there. And don’t be silly, like I was: take multiple copies of your CV along with you! ;)

Cooking at Vapiano in Luxembourg

crema di fragole vapiano 2

crema di fragole vapiano 1vapiano capPardon my double-triple-multiple-chins in the photo where I’m trying to assemble a delightful Crema di Fragola dessert (it thankfully turned out to be super delicious). Also please pardon the wide-eyed terrified look in the photo where I had put on a chef’s cap (thankfully the pizza I prepared soon thereafter was also tasty).

These photos are from a lovely event that the Vapiano restaurant chain organised for some bloggers in Luxembourg a couple of weeks ago. I’m so pleased that I ended up going – it was a really relaxed evening with yummy food, pleasant company, and even a little bit of pampering involved.

Vapiano is a chain of restaurants (there over 120!!) that makes fresh Italian food – pizza, pasta, salads, etc – and you can even see the food being made. I had never visited a Vapiano restaurant before this event, and it was all a very pleasant surprise. The décor is relaxing, with long wooden tables and little herb plants on every table. I loved it.

We had the opportunity to make our own pizza (I learned how to really “work” the dough – it was fantastic), and desserts (as seen above), and even cocktails (strawberry mojitos!).

IMG_20150202_193445

The evening when we went to the Vapiano restaurant (next to the train station) was a “Ladies’ Night”, which involved the possibility of getting our hair done by some lovely professional hairdressers. I ended up going with a chignon – and it looked (and made me feel) absolutely fabulous.

hair at Vapiano

The evening kept getting better till the last second – we were sent home with a delightful goodie bag (I LIVE FOR GOODIE BAGS) with a rosemary plant (which I haven’t killed yet!) and a beautiful thick Vapiano apron.

It was such a wonderful evening, and the best part was that I met some truly beautiful and lovely women from all around the world. Can’t wait to go back for some delicious pasta and cocktails.

(I’m sorry the photos aren’t very good quality – I only had my phone’s camera that evening (I had totally forgotten my DSLR at home, ugh.).)

What I Bought on my First Outing in Luxembourg

Luxembourg Shopping January 2015

During my first few days in Luxembourg, I popped out on my own one morning to discover what a few of the shops in the city centre had to offer. I’m not used to having H&M, LUSH, HEMA, and Sephora all within a few minutes’ walking distance, so it was all Very Exciting.

Some things I bought!

I made cakes for our neighbours in the apartments below us, smelt oh-so-good, and found a book from my to-read list, in English! The fact that all the things I bought from LUSH were 50% off still boggles my mind. HEMA is also clearly my new favourite bits-and-bobs shop. I later visited it again and bought ALL their cards.

Any other cool shop suggestions for me to visit in Luxembourg? I like pretty stationery, books (in English), beauty products, food, and skater dresses.

LUSH Valentine’s Party

Yesterday evening I was supremely lucky to go along to the #LUSHblogparty at the Luxembourg City branch of LUSH. There we had an absolutely lovely evening, where I got to meet a lot of Luxembourg bloggers and discover lots of new (and old) LUSH products.

If you’ve read my blog (or know me) at all, you’ll know that I’m quite a big LUSH fan. This event was quite the dream come true, and the little team at LUSH seriously outdid themselves. They greeted us with Prince Charming cocktails (WHAT.) and there was even a presentation (in English! Phew.) about the wonderful brand and the Valentine’s range. Look at that Floating Flower bath bomb. So pretty.

Floating Flower bath bomb

My love for this brand increased tenfold last night (how.), especially when I learned about all the good stuff LUSH does. They support their suppliers, their distributors, their branches, all over the world. The one titbit of information which struck me the most, however, was that the little packing peanuts they use in their gift boxes are made of corn and are technically edible.  Luckily, I didn’t need to resort to eating any packing peanuts last night, because the little spread that was available was hella delicious.

LUSH blog party nibbles

We even made super-super-fresh face masks (WHICH WE GOT TO TAKE HOME) – the smell of fresh blueberries was unreal.

Catastrophe Cosmetic

The whole evening was so much fun, and apart from the very kind gifts and surprises that they sent us off with (all of which I was about to purchase myself…), I also bought a few other bits that were ahem totally necessary and required in my life and for my survival. Yeah.

LUSH blog party haul

The Unicorn Horn bubble bar – this is hilarious and gorgeous to look at, but also creates some serious bubbles with a calming lavender-y smell. The best thing is that this will last several baths (maybe up to six if I really stretch it). And baths are pretty much mandatory + required in a snowy country. (I was also really impressed by the Love Locket bath bomb, which is a massive bath bomb which you break and in which you’ll find ANOTHER heart-shaped bath bomb. Then you pop it into a hot bath and tiny little pink candy hearts start emerging! Look at the link for a demo.)

Prince Charming shower gel – no way did I think I was going to like this. When they demo-ed this in the shop, the softness of my hands after using it was really surprising. Then they kindly popped a little bottle in our bags to take home, and I used it during my shower this morning. Verdict: AMAZING. It has a pleasant grapefruit-y scent with some serious softening properties.

Crown and Glory purple glittery heart hair clip – this was a little non-LUSH bonus gift that is perfect for a purple-loving brunette like me.

L’Oracle (or Vanishing Cream) face moisturiser – I needed a new moisturiser for my face, and I asked for a hydrating one – this ticked a lot of boxes and smells beautiful.

Kalamazoo beard cream/wash – I bought this for Dave, my boyfriend, after reading about it on a blog post by another blogger in Luxembourg who had recommended it. After showing this to Dave, he asked me to pick up a tub for him. He used it this morning, and the verdict seems to be good.

Eau Roma toner water – I’ve always wanted to try one of the toner face sprays by LUSH, and after smelling this one last night, I decided to pop it into my basket as well. It’s lovely to spritz onto the face before applying moisturiser, or whenever the face needs a little pick-me-up to feel refreshed.

The Kiss lip gloss – you don’t often see lip glosses in little tubs, but this one is special. I tried it in the shop last night (at the perfect moment, when my lips had started feeling a bit chapped), and it was really lovely and silky. Softening, with a pleasant smell, and a slight pinky tint.

Catastrophe Cosmetic fresh face mask – that’s the one which we made in the shop last night. I popped it onto my face this morning, and the fresh blueberry mixture was an absolute treat.

Cupid’s Love soap – I haven’t bought or used a LUSH soap in ages (I used to use them almost every single day a few years ago… I think my favourite was Northern Lights), so it was lovely to get a bar of fresh soap yesterday. The smell of this particular soap lingers on your skin and I could even smell it from inside its packaging inside the LUSH bag while it was in my kitchen.

There was even a crown made of massive fresh roses and a Polaroid camera at the blog party – I’m seriously going to treasure that little photo so.much. I loved the whole evening, the lovely products I’m using, and LUSH in general.

(PS: Now I’m seriously aiming to put some of what I earn on the next proofreading job I finish to go towards this fabulous moisturiser. (I think it’s called Gorgeous in the UK.) I tried it in the shop and, while a little expensive, it is absolutely perfect. I’m also aching to buy one of these massage bars, once I finish the one I’m currently using.)

(PPS: While I’m ridiculously lucky and blessed to have an absolutely amazing boyfriend/life partner/adventurer-friend, we never celebrate Valentine’s Day because, well, it’s his birthday. So it’s understandable. But, Dave, if you’re reading this, any LUSH product is perfectly fine as a surprise present during any day of the year. So, yeah. Laaahve youuuuuuu.)

A Reading Year in Review (2014)

Favourite Books:

  1. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (my first Christie – spectacular)
  2. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (eye-opening + great tips for professionals)
  3. The Clockwork Muse by Eviatar Zerubavel (the kick up the bum I needed to write my thesis)
  4. Kulħadd ħalla isem warajh by Clare Azzopardi (mesmerising stories about women, Malta, life)
  5. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell (an addictive writing style)
  6. Bossypants by Tina Fey (hilarious and poignant)
  7. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (adorable well-written Young Adult fiction)
  8. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (ICELAND + an amazing, haunting story)

Disappointing Books:

  1. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (good, but meh)
  2. What Happens in Brussels Stays in Brussels by Ġużè Stagno (didn’t go anywhere)
  3. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (mostly superficial – I guess I’m the wrong demographic)
  4. Pretties by Scott Westerfeld (didn’t even finish this)
  5. Delirium by Lauren Oliver (I skimmed through most pages)
  6. Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham (couldn’t relate to most of this)
  7. The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (didn’t even finish this)

Notable mentions:

  1. The Children Act by Ian McEwan (a beautiful story)
  2. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (poetic writing)
  3. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (a big, juicy read – loved the first two-thirds, mostly hated the last third)

(Not in any particular order.)

5 Top Eateries in Florence

Florence Top Eateries

I visited Florence last December, and as a total gastro-tourist, I have a few recommendations, if you’re popping over any time soon. This is obviously a (hugely) non-exhaustive list, but any one of these would be a special experience, and come highly recommended.

1. Trattoria Mario (via Rosina) GO HERE. DON’T GO ANYWHERE ELSE IF YOU MUST, BUT GO HERE. It’s a bit crazy and you can’t book and it only opens for lunch and it only takes cash and you’ll probably be seated with other people on the same tiny table, BUT it’s delicious and relatively cheap and all the food is amazing. My suggestions are the Bistecca Fiorentina, the chips as a side (they look strange but they are SO GOOD), some of their house red Chianti wine for drinking, and some vin santo and cantuccini for dessert. PERFECTION.

2. Osteria Cipolla Rossa (via dei Conti) A little on the expensive side, but lovely service and fantastic food.

3. Trattoria 13 Gobbi (via del Porcellana) A little (more) on the expensive side, but ALL SO AMAZING. The wine, the food, the desserts, the service. Food suggestions: the cheesecake for dessert (madoff amazing), and the macaroni in cheesy tomatoey sauce that they give you in a bowl, mmmm. If you’ve already been to Trattoria Mario and want to try just one more place on this list, go here.

4. Trattoria Nerone (via Faenza) Really great pizza (the Margherita is really great – and only 5EUR – ask them to put a leaf of basil on it as a final flourish because it makes it even better). Overall this place had great food and really good prices. We even visited here twice because of the amazing pizza. Also: great chocolate tart for dessert.

5. Trattoria Enzo e Piero (via Faenza) Not the best service when we went, but the food was really, really good. I had the Pappa al pomodoro, and it started a love affair that will probably last a lifetime.

Bar Bonus: Mostodolce on via Nazionale is an exceptionally cool bar, and has some great beers.

Extra bonus tip: Download the TripAdvisor Florence City app – you’re welcome.

Have a wonderful time in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.