Category Archives: Mini-Review

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.

 

Delectable wine at Tal-Massar (Gozo)

Tal-Massar July 2014

This is just a quick post to talk about a really wonderful collection of wines that I discovered on a trip to Gozo a couple of weekends ago. My boyfriend had written an article about this Gozitan winery called Tal-Massar, and we popped over to the vineyards in Għarb for a wine-tasting session. The weather was glorious, and the setting was just perfect.

After a short informal presentation about the process of wine-making, the wine-tasting “proper” started, with plenty of more information being provided. The lovely couple (who are sweetness itself) also gave us plenty of incredibly tasty nibbles to accompany the wine – including delicious homemade sundried tomato paste on bread, and the creamiest ġbejniet ever.

The highlight of the afternoon was certainly the wine – they have four absolutely beautiful wines (a white, a rosé, and two reds – one red is a really “deep” port-like wine). I’m clearly not very good at the descriptions of wine – but let’s just say that I thoroughly enjoyed them and have consumed copious amounts (both on the day of the wine-tasting, and on many of the following days).

I’d highly recommend a visit to the Tal-Massar vineyards next time you’re in Gozo (especially if you’re there with foreign friends), and you’ll leave full of wine and tranquillity. And while you’re still in Malta, head over to Farsons Direct for a couple of bottles of these delicious wines. Mmm.

(PS: this is not an advert, and I paid for the wine-tasting session – I was just really impressed by these wines. SO GOOD.)

An Ode to a Burger

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Recently, I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of a new range of premium meat products called Olly’s. The range is made of burgers (chicken and beef burgers, including the most adorable and most delicious mini burgers), chicken fingers, and chicken nuggets. (They also have a massive XXL Angus beef burger which is INSANITY ITSELF.) The best thing about the products is that they don’t only taste good, they’re made with really great high-quality meat, without any added stuff – it’s just yummy, yummy meat.

The reason for this post, however, is due to (what I think is) the star of the whole range. Their chicken burgers. Oh dear God. This burger is all chicken, with one oh-so-special addition: that cornflake crust. Oh my. Just look at the photo above. Pardon my gushing, but this burger is worthy of some gushing. It is the perfect, chunky little slab of chicken-burger goodness, caressed by the freshest, crunchiest, crispiest cornflake coating ever. It reminds me of that best-meal-ever feeling when you eat something at 2 in the morning and it goes down a treat. I’d imagine one of these would be perfect with some sweet potato fries and a glass of white wine, al fresco, obviously. I’m getting a little carried away here…

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know about these new products which are perfect for delicious meals and even barbecues (we cooked some up at a BBQ recently, and everyone GOBBLED them up). Please make sure you have some stocked up next time you invite me over. ;)

Ollys Packshots-01

Olly’s – a new range of premium meat products – is available in supermarkets from 15 May – keep an eye out.

A cheeky FeelUnique.com haul

Feelunique December 13 haul 1

Last month, while Christmas shopping, a few discount codes for feelunique.com popped into my inbox and I couldn’t really not check out the offers now, could I?

These two products had been on my beauty wishlist for a few months, but their price tags (and the fact that I have quite a few lip balms and moisturisers anyway) weren’t justifying a purchase. However, the discounts and the excitement kind of got me carried away a little, and I took the plunge.

The two (out of focus) teeny samples are Caudalie products (one is the Vinoperfect Day Perfecting Fluid SPF15, and the other is the Vinexpert Firming Serum) – I haven’t tried these yet, but I have previously tried a sample of the perfecting fluid and it was SO NICE. Caudalie is always pretty good.

Feelunique December 13 haul 2

I have about fifty products for my lips just lying around the house/different bags/everywhere, so it was really only a matter of time before I tried the latest big thing in the lip balm world. The NUXE Rêve de Miel Baume Lèvres Ultra-Nourrissant Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm is a super thick lip balm which has the consistency of smooth peanut butter. It’s mostly meant to be worn as a super nourishing treatment, usually before bed. I’ve sometimes used this after giving my lips a good scrub – coating my lips with it and feeling like Winnie the Pooh is hugging my lips. Luxury and loveliness.

The Antipodes Avocado Pear Nourishing Night Cream was quite pricey, but I’ve heard so many amazing things about it off online reviews (mostly via essiebutton), that I really wanted to buy it and try it myself. It’s probably the most expensive moisturiser I’ve ever bought, but the claims it makes are quite amazing. It should basically ensure that my skin is one of the top priorities on Mrs God’s list o’ priorities. I’ve only used it a handful of times since purchasing it (since I was trying out the Vichy one), but I am really looking forward to giving it a good old test run.

Luxurious skincare by Vichy

vichy header

Vichy cosmetics is the type of brand which you find behind a piece of glass on a pristine shelf at fancy pharmacies. I’ve eyed several of this brand’s products, and I was ever so pleased to be able to get my hands on some samples to try out over the past couple of months.

This review will largely focus on a moisturiser and a make-up remover by Vichy.

Vichy moisturiser

The Aqualia Thermal 24hr moisturiser is what really stood out to me from the samples. This face lotion is light, seeps into the skin immediately, and feels like you’ve just had a little spa moment. It’s specifically designed for dehydrated and sensitive skin, and fortified with Vichy mineral spring water, mmm.

Vichy products are quite magical in the sense that they have such a strong, spa-like scent, and yet they’re thoroughly tested in specialist laboratories to be brilliant with sensitive skin. Luckily, my skin isn’t very sensitive, and the Vichy products I tried certainly did not affect it badly, but it was quite impressive to have such strongly scented products working for my skin rather than against it. I’m personally quite a fan of strong scents, so I definitely like the beautifully luxurious smell of Vichy products.

I even have a more mature woman’s review of this product, because I gave another little sample tub for my Mum to try over the past few weeks, and she’s already used it all up with the verdict that it was “amazing” and really “smoothing”. We both loved it, it seems!

Vichy make-up removerThe second Vichy product I liked (not as much as the lovely moisturiser though), was the Pureté Thermale 3-in-1 cleanser, which markets itself as a one-step cleanser which cleanses, tones, and removes make-up (specifically eye make-up) all in one. I wasn’t really sure how to use it – I initially used my fingers to apply it to my damp face but when I tried removing the residue make-up with a cotton pad, the lotion had sunk into my skin and I barely managed to actually remove any make-up. So perhaps I wouldn’t use this to remove all make-up, all over my face. As a softening toner, this was pretty amazing though.

However, I still wanted to see how this would fare as an actual eye make-up remover. So I conducted a little experiment. Here are my eyes with a few coatings of mascara and concealer underneath (after a long day).

Vichy eyes before

And these are my eyes after removing my eye-make-up off the eye on the right hand side of the photo, with the Vichy 3-in-1 cleanser. I used quite a heavy amount, but my eyes did not get bothered or sting. That’s clearly the sign of a high quality product, although it’s important to note that I do think that you have to be quite generous with the amount of product you use.

Vichy eyes with Vichy on one eye

I then removed the make-up on my other eye (on the left of the photo) with my usual eye make-up remover (Bioderma solution).

Vichy eyes with Bioderma on other eye

WARNING: slightly icky photo below. These are the cotton pads I used on my eyes above. The one on the right is the stuff removed by the Vichy product, and the one on the left is the stuff removed by my usual cleansing solution.

Vichy remover cotton pads

The Vichy 3-in-1 cleanser hasn’t stolen the top spot as my favourite eye make-up remover, but its one-stop-shop qualities are very attractive because they offer toning and cleansing properties apart from simple make-up removal. This cleanser is perfect for the mornings, to remove any gunk that built up over the night, and to soften and refresh for your big day ahead.

You can’t really go wrong with Vichy. Unfortunately, I tried out some of the highly-raved-about Vichy Idealia BB Cream, but it really did not work for me (and I had really hoped it would!). It clung to random patches of my skin, and even though I tried it out in a variety of ways (e.g. with/without powder, with my fingers, with a brush, using a lot/a little), it wasn’t a BB cream that I would want to purchase as a full-size product. I’d still recommend that you try it out, though, particularly if you can get your hands on a little sample tube, because it seems to work out exceedingly well for a lot of people, including some of my favourite bloggers (look at that skin!).

Overall, that Aqualia Riche moisturiser was the stand-out product for me (and for my Mum!), and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a long-lasting moisturiser that works well for the day and the night and is fantastic with all sorts of skin types, particularly dehydrated skin.

Now I’ve really got my eye on the Vichy Idealia Life Serum, because I’ve heard such great things. (Unfortunately, this is unavailable in Malta at the moment.) Still, quite a lot of exciting stuff from this brand.

Books I Read in 2013

2013 has been a relatively good year for reading, for me. My initial aim was 25 books, but I managed 17 (not counting all the stuff I read for uni and thesis research, though). This post will be a little low-down on the books I read this year, most of which I would highly recommend.

Books You Should Read / Buy for Others

A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin – I finally finished this awesome book this year. The second half was mostly “read” as an audio-book while running. Bottom line: it’s fantastic and I urge you to buy it for yourself and other people because LITERATURE.

The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan – Soooo good. A quick read that tumbles you in a beautifully uneasy world. I love McEwan.

Constellations by Nick Payne – A really good play that some of my friends put up this year. Short and touching.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – I finally got around to reading this book this year, but while it was a great read, it didn’t “punch” my brain as much as I thought it would. Still highly recommended.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce – An adorable story which left me ugly-crying my way through the last few pages.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Very slow and steady – in a good way – and so readable. I talked about this book more in this Favourites post.

Down Under by Bill Bryson – Bill Bryson’s writing voice is always hilarious and readable. I love tucking into one of his books every so often. This one was really good, and made me want to visit Australia ASAP – but also slightly afraid of all the crazy things that can kill you in Australia. Eep.

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson – Another brilliant Bryson book, although not as splendid as I was hoping it to be. Britain is a very special place in my books (hee), so I wasn’t too impressed by this young American dude traipsing around and complaining about things.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami – Such a special book, this one. A little strange, but that’s part of its charm. Very curious about other books by this guy.

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick – Not the most wonderfully written book ever, but such a rarity that I can immediately forgive any slight slips. North Korea fascinates me to no end, and this book opened it up to me in such an intimate way.

Paper Towns by John Green – My mission to read as much John Green as I can went forward greatly with this book this year. It started off a little slow and strange for me, but then became such a tender, interesting story. Not my favourite John Green (possibly my least favourite), but still a great book.

The Child in Time by Ian McEwan – Oh my. Another McEwan novel. Not as great as the other McEwan I read this year, in my opinion, but I did enjoy this, especially it’s very surreal ending.

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran – A very amusing and thought provoking read. Even though there are some bits which had me grimacing a tiny bit. But that’s just because everyone has different experiences and opinions about lots of things. I still loved this book, and would like everyone to read it.

Books You Might Want to Read / Buy for Others (but maybe not as a priority, you know)

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt – A lot of people recommended this one to me, but I didn’t fully enjoy it. Parts of it were very enlightening and touching, but others just put me off.

Dr Fischer of Geneva by Graham Greene – A very, very strange story. Hmmm.

Romantic Dogs by Roberto Bolaño – This is a collection of poems. I marked out a few of them which were particularly intriguing to me, but overall it wasn’t a collection I would highly recommend.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – Worth a read, and I’m sure you’ve heard all about this one, but not one of my absolute favourite reads of 2013.

Let’s hope for more beautiful / interesting books in 2014. I love books.

The Clarisonic

clarisonic 1

I promised a review of the Clarisonic about a million years ago (at least since September 2012, which is when I got it), and here it is!

The Clarisonic is an expensive (at least €150) gadget to clean your face (and body, if you’d like). You charge it, you click the button, and its head vibrates (I know.). The bristles give your skin a super deep clean and get all the gunk out nicely. It exfoliates and makes your face feel tingly. You should use a lightly foaming cleanser with this, and my Clarisonic came with a little tube of one of the brand’s own cleansers.

clarisonic 2

My verdict? It’s a good gadget. I love using it every now and then, but ultimately: I could totally live without it. I can cleanse with something like Bioderma or a cream cleanser, and I can exfoliate with a scrub. I’ve gone weeks without using it, and I’m not sure what to do when I don’t have a foamy cleanser at hand (I do: I just won’t bother using it). Something that’s great to own, but maybe don’t invest in it if you don’t think you’ll need it too much.

Anatomicals: balms, balms, balms

Anatomicals balm

When it comes to balms, they’re usually just a bunch of essential oils that are often said to merely work due to a placebo effect. I tend to disagree. Essential oils can be super calming and helpful with stressful moments, sleeplessness, or aches and pains.

This post is a review of two Anatomicals balms, and I think they’re pretty special.

Oi! you throbhead headache relief balm

This is one of the most famous Anatomicals products. It is a balm which is very easy to apply (to your temples, and other painful spots, as you choose) and provides a scent and cooling sensation which calm and reduce headache pain. Myself and my mother both suffer from migraines every now and then, and my Mum was the first to reach for this balm constantly over the course of a few days (before I had the need to try it) and declared to me that it definitely worked and was something she’d love to keep at hand. Then I had to use it a number of times due to a few headaches, and while it did not completely eradicate the migraines (obviously), it certainly brought what it said on the tin: relief.

Cruisin’ for a snoozin’ sleep balm

I’ve been wanting a sleep balm for over a year, ever since I started having trouble sleeping. The biggest problem I’ve been having is falling asleep, which is where a sleep balm could come in handy. The essential oils in this one are calming and relaxing. The formula of the one I received wasn’t the best (nothing like the gummy headache relief balm), and needs a lot of “work” to warm it up and get some product transfer on my fingers. The smell also doesn’t linger for a very long time. However, I still love this product and want to keep it on my bedside table for whenever I have a bit of trouble nodding off – it definitely helps me calm down and settle into a night of sleep. I rub it on my temples and under my nose, usually, and that works a treat.

Both of these balms are great, cheap treats for friends or family members who might have problems with headaches or insomnia, and there’s a tonne of other products which make great gifts or treats for yourself or other people. The Anatomicals Malta website is where you can view and purchase this brand’s products; happy scrolling!

PS: A little birdie told me that there should be a “surprise” as regards the sleep balm and its formula in January… I’m most definitely intrigued!

I was gifted these awesome products, but my reviews present my honest opinions. 

Anatomicals: Stuff for the Face

Anatomicals facial products

Here is the first of more specific Anatomicals reviews, as promised. This time, I’m going to focus on the two face products I tried from the brand.

The grease isn’t the word (tell me more, tell me more) mattifying face mask

This is an anti-grease face mask, and although I was scared of it drying my face out, it left my face feeling incredibly soft and looking pretty darn lovely. I hadn’t realised that I could have had enough product for two or three applications, and I dumped all of the blue gooey product onto my hand at once… oops! It’s great that the mask holds two or three applications however, and it isn’t just a one-time thing (unless you ruin that possibility like I did). :)

The mask feels lovely and smooth on the skin. It’s very easy to apply, and gave me great results. It wasn’t a revolutionary mask, but I would definitely buy this for myself or for friends.

The hottie tottie is never spotty, pores and phwoars! shine free moisturiser

Although I’m going to list a few things that were “problems” with this moisturiser (mainly because it’s clearly a low-end moisturiser), I absolutely loved it. The feeling it gives and the smoothness is provides are what make this moisturiser the one I reach for every single morning. At night I like to use a thicker one, but this is perfect for the rest of the day.

The “problems” I found with this is that too much product comes out as soon as you squeeze it a little (which is a pity since a little goes such a long way!), but I’ve learnt to control this, so you just have to be careful. Also, it has a fake peach scent which bothers me a little, although it disappears after the moisturiser sinks into the skin.

Otherwise, this moisturiser is a keeper. My skin is (mostly) clear, soft, and moisturised.

Both of these products are easily available via the Anatomicals Malta website, at incredibly cheap prices. Some of the products on there will make great Christmas gifts; I know I would love to receive a few more of the stuff from their different ranges.

I was gifted these awesome products, but my reviews present my honest opinions. 

Anatomicals: an Overview

Anatomicals products

Anatomicals! What a fun brand. The products are fun and zany, seemingly perfect for teens and the young at heart, but also for anyone else, really. The lovely people at Anatomicals Malta sent me a variety of their products for me to try out, and after a few good weeks of trial, I’m ready for a full review of all of these.

Firstly, though, I’m going to present a little overview of them all, and then I’ll be posting two more posts which will focus on (1) the balms, and (2) the facial products.

1. Grease isn’t the word (tell me more, tell me more) mattifying face mask: a lovely mask, nothing spectacular or super luxurious, but it left my face feeling so soft and presentable (even without any make-up or moisturiser at all).

2. Oi! You throbhead headache relief balm: a definite favourite for the Bonello household. It’s not going to completely cure migraines, but everyone’s been reaching for it because of it’s lovely soothing properties.

3. Cruisin’ for a snoozin’ sleep balm: yes, this is probably just a placebo effect thing, and my sample of the product was not very balmy in texture (it seemed to need a lot of warming up). HOWEVER – I thoroughly enjoyed using this product, and it’s definitely going to stay on my bedside table for a long time.

4. The hottie tottie is never spotty pores and phwoars! shine free moisturiser: this doesn’t feel very luxurious (I usually use high-end moisturisers on my face like ones from Elizabeth Arden and Caudalie) but wow, this is actually a really nice moisturiser. I’ve been reaching for it every single morning, and it feels calming and ‘good’ to my skin.

5. “I’ve had the thyme of my life” cypress and thyme body cleanser: A perfectly nice shower gel. I’m more of a fan of super-strong scents for my body wash, so I wasn’t too impressed by this one. However, I know plenty of people who’d love this and its subtle scent and gentle washing abilities. I’m also a fan of more bubble-power, and this just doesn’t deliver that for me. Nothing wrong with it, but it’s something I’ll probably pass on to a friend. Also, it’s been discontinued anyway.

Overall: Anatomicals products are surprisingly lovely. They’re overwhelmingly cheap (less than 5EUR for a facial moisturiser!?), the branding is hilarious and so bright, and the actual products are good enough that most of them have found a permanent position in my daily routine.

More specific review posts will be up soon! Thanks again to the lovely Anatomicals people for introducing me to these awesome products.