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Red Lips, Pah!

I grew up with a mom who always wore red lipstick. I still remember that Paloma Picasso red lips and the perfume bottle and scent she also wore like it were today.

Paloma Picasso ad, perfume and lipstick | Photo Richard Avedon 1984

Paloma Picasso ad, perfume and lipstick | Photo Richard Avedon 1984

It wasn't until I had kids though that I realized a red lipstick was a great distraction for a tired looking face (endless sleepless nights anyone?!). So, yeah, I usually have a red lip on - day or night - and I am always looking for good options. Here are my favorites, some are all-time classics and others are new buys.

MAC's Ruby Woo

Classic favorite MAC Ruby Woo, very matte texture which I like but not for everyone.

Classic favorite MAC Ruby Woo, very matte texture which I like but not for everyone.

Maybelline's Super Stay Matte Ink in Pioneer, super pigmented, great applicator.

MAC's Vic Ceridono collab, a little darker than your usual red, still bold and "pah effect".

MAC Vic Ceridono lipstick.jpg

Brazilian brand Vult color 01, open red, very affordable.

Great affordable option, same shade as MAC's Russian Red

Great affordable option, same shade as MAC's Russian Red

Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor in Passion, great texture and feel.

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Feel like distracting someone with your red lips? Go for it!

Best Bargain Nail Polishes

I have yet to understand why someone spends tons of money on nail polish by buying expensive brands like Chanel or not very affordable OPI, Essie and the likes. I don't. I am always searching for good value which means excellent colors  AND quality (lasting power and texture).

My new favorite is KIKO Milano. No doubt about it. There are amazing shades, quality is excellent and it lasts on my nails (even with constant diaper change). Best but not last: buy it for £2 or sometimes £1 only! 

Little sample of KIKO Milano polishes!

Little sample of KIKO Milano polishes!

You can check more here.

Improve your Skin with Changes in Diet

One of my personal goals this year was to improve my skin. I've been suffering from mild acne since my teenage years but could never find the right solution. After having tried many different brands of cleansers, acids and even antibiotics, I was beginning to think there was not a chance my situation could ever get solved.  

This changed when I came across the book 'Reverse the Signs of Ageing' from Dr. Nigma Talib. She's a natupathic doctor and it was the first time I actually understood the relationship between skin and nutrition. After her book I got even more interested in the topic and read two other amazing books: 'The Autoimmune Solution' and 'Grain Brain' which I highly recommend.

Dr Nigma even uses the term "digest-ageing" when she explains that we are ageing mainly due to bad digestion.  The main villains to our skin, as we would expect are gluten, sugar, wine and dairy. Amy Myers on her The Autoimmune Solution goes even further to saying all grains can damage our imune system and therefore cause many health issues from acne and allergies to serious diseases like Alzheimer. Even if your food test doesn't show you're intolerant to gluten it can still affect you negatively, making you feel bloated or causing skin conditions so it's best to avoid it. On the other hand if you were diagnosed with coeliac disease you know you will have to exclude gluten completely. 

From my personal experience I can tell it's quite difficult to go down this path as our mind puts a lot of effort in convincing us to resist change, but once you realize how this can improve your life you'll see how easy it can be. The best thing to do is establish the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of your nutrition should be as healthy as possible so you can relax a bit on the rest. On these 3 books there are plenty of delicious recipe to help you along the way. 

After finishing the book I arranged a consultation with Dr Nigma where she asked for some tests and with the results in hand she suggested cutting out some more food from my diet. I was also given multivitamins, fish oil, supplements containing magnesium caprylate, probiotics and enzymes. 

While I healed my gut I started using some new products on my skin and I could see great results in a very short time.  Here is my list:

Cleanser - Clenziderm M.D. from Obagi. It's the best I found so far. It contains salicylic acid and it's perfect for blemished skin but Dr. Nigma even recommends it to patients without acne. The Cleansing Complex from IS Clinical is also really good.

Toner - Organic Apple Cider Vinegar from Bragg. ACV can help balancing the oils in your skin, reducing wrinkles and removing toxins.  You can dilute it a bit as the smell is strong and use a cotton ball to apply it. I leave it overnight but you can rinse it off after a few minute. However if you can't stand the smell of ACV I also love the clarifying toner from Effaclar Clarifying Toner from La Roche-Posay.

Anti blemish cream - Effaclar Duo from La Roche-Posay. Whenever I get spots or black heads I use this very effective but gentle cream.  I've used stronger products but my skin was very sensitive to those. 

Moisturizer The Creme No1 from Dr. Nigma Talib has hyaluronic acid, plants extracts and stem cells and it's my favorite so far. 

Sunscreen - Mandatory to prevent wrinkles and lines. I love the Anthelios SPF 50 from La Roche-Posay. Dr Nigma recommends Heliocare Cream SPF 50. I like to use it together with the Compact Foundation from Shiseido. 

Mask - Clear Improvement from Origins.  The active charcoal is very effective to clear pores. 

I still want to find more natural products that work as good as these.  On my body I've managed to keep it more simple. I use Cold Pressed Avocado Oil as a moisturizer and once or twice a week I do an exfoliation with coconut oil and Himalayan salt. Just mix equal parts of the two in a bowl and apply to the whole body. You can add any essential oil if you think the coconut smell is too strong. Or you can use avocado oil instead. 

 

 

 

Read more at:

Reverse the Signs of Ageing: The revolutionary inside-out plan to glowing, youthful skin by Dr Nigma Talib

The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases by Amy Myers, M.D.

Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar - Your Brain's Silent Killers by David Perlmutter

Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain - for Life by David Perlmutter

The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan: Boost Brain Performance, Lose Weight, and Achieve Optimal Health by David Perlmutter

Paula Pinaud is in love with traveling, food, art and fashion. Passionate about Yoga and healthy lifestyle. Born and bread in Rio. Living in London since 2011. Here to share interesting experiences and tips.

Netflix Shortcuts Genres

If you love Netflix but like me hate the idea of searching and browsing and searching and browsing (and getting frustrated in the process) I just found the best list of shortcuts that will get you exactly to what you want to watch. Just so you have an idea (simply click on what you want!):

Movies for ages 5 to 7 or Movies for ages 8 to 10 (the ones I am usually browsing!)

OR

TV Shows 

Easy and fun right?

Let's just hope the blessed individual who put this all together keeps the full list public here.

Have fun binge watching people!

My Top Six Favorite Teas

I drink a lot of coffee. But I also drink a lot of tea. In fact, I probably drink more coffee and tea than I do plain water (which I am not so sure is a good thing!). I have learned to drink tea, when I was an exchange student in the US, with my Irish host 'dad'. Well, Sean used to drink hot tea any day every day (even under 35 degree summer sun when we first vacationed together). Not sure I will get there but hey, who knows?!

As I grew older I started buying tea and infusers. I believe the more you try different ones the more you like it and drink it. I also go through phases when I am only drinking black tea or green tea. From what I have tried so far I have elected my favorites, brands and flavor. I am lucky to live in London where I can find all of them - which may not be your case - but you can save this list for when you have a chance to get hold of them.

Favorite Green Tea

Photo courtesy of www.lalaniandco.com

Photo courtesy of www.lalaniandco.com

Lalani&Co has been my favorite green tea for a while now. They have special - sometimes limited edition - batches you can order on-line. You can also drink their collection in selected places in the UK. I haven't tried any tea from Lalani I didn't like. They also have one of my favorite infusers (I have yet to get to try it).

Favorite Matcha

Matcha Gold, also by Lalani&Co (Photos above courtesy of www.lalaniandco.com). Although I am still learning how to properly prepare it and it is not always I am in the mood for it. This version from them has been the one I have enjoyed the most so far.

Favorite Black Tea

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Basilur Oriental Collection. I got my tin in Sri Lanka but I know they also sell on-line at least here in the UK. Everything about this tea, soft and strong, perfect balanced black tea.

Favorite Detox Tea

Photo courtesy of www.kusmitea.com

Photo courtesy of www.kusmitea.com

BB Detox by Kusmi Tea. I love a lot of their teas. But this version is easier to drink all day long than their simple detox (green tin). I think the hint of grapefruit makes the difference, specially if you have tried other green teas you haven't liked. You can stop by their shop in Marylebone and try it for yourself.

Favorite English Breakfast

Photo courtesy of www.whittard.co.uk

Photo courtesy of www.whittard.co.uk

English breakfast by Whittard. Not only this is one of my favorite brands and shops in London, they also carry my (finally) favorite English Breakfast. I was never a big fan of English Breakfast, always thought it was too mild for my taste. But, everyone I had over asked for simple English Breakfast tea as their first option. I figured I had to find one I liked. One day, I stopped by their store and tried it. Love at first sight. Smooth. Very suave!

Favorite Earl Grey

Photo courtesy of www.harveynichols.com

Photo courtesy of www.harveynichols.com

Earl Grey French Blue by Mariage Frères. What to say about this delicate French brand. Only that they hold the title for my favorite Earl Grey which is a tea I don't even like that much. But this one, this one I do! Here in London you can find them at Harvey Nichols and Selfridges. Or, if you go to Paris their Marais shop is a place not to be missed.

Of course I am only learning as I go. I am sure there are many other teas and brands I still don't know about. Drop me a line with your favorites!

The World is Flat (Forget your Heels!)

When I open my wardrobe these days and see how many heels I have worn in my past corporate life I just cannot believe. I have donated some of the ones I thought I would never wear again and kept a few for a "rainy day". More than enough. Not only has my lifestyle changed (I don't have meetings where a heel could be a good idea anymore) but thankfully fashion has evolved allowing women the freedom of flats and cool tennis shoes we so deserve.

My old golden Osklen tennis shoes. Eternal love.

My old golden Osklen tennis shoes. Eternal love.

For me it is also about walking a lot and fast. I know you can do all of that in heels but nothing compares to flats. So I have selected a few options I love. Wearing flats does not mean you have to forgo style.

Bucketfeet is an American brand of artist designed footwear. They have super fresh and unique slip ons and lace ups.

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Fratelli Rossetti, prime Italian in its best form and craft. Not cheap but amazing.

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Chatelles, the French brand with so much savoir faire, an instant love with customized tassels and initials.

Bluebird, the Brazilian brand hugely inspired by this trend of cute flats is a good option also.

On the very comfortable front I also love Mahabis idea of the detachable soles. Easy go from comfort inside to comfort outdoors! And you can mix and match the soles!

What is your excuse to wearing heels these days?!

Vintage Looking Travel Bags: One Day!

I think one day I will travel again without the worries of a diaper and changing bag for the baby, activity backpack for my other son, pushchair and baby car seat (not to mention all the rest that is left for mom when you are rushing the family through an airport)! So, I keep saving these bags in my mental folder for when this miracle time happens. They would be amazing to spot on the carrousel AND would add a lot of bossa to any traveling.

Very Troubled Child - Unique 100% leather bags created by an Italian. They don't come cheap but man are they nice!

Chief Trunk Company - HIgh end American traveling brand

A photo posted by Chief Trunk (@chieftrunk) on

A photo posted by Chief Trunk (@chieftrunk) on

The Globe Trotter - A range of luxurious heritage luggage produced in the UK. WOW.

SteamLine Luggage - My all time favorite. All of the lines are beautiful! NO words.

Think deep pockets are worth the joy of having them? Just don't stress about how dirty they will look after one check in! :P

Chia Pudding - I am Addicted

My second child is almost 6 months old, I am 37 pounds down, still 13 to go, give or take. I feel like I am almost there but not quite. Still I think I came a long ways specially because I just had my first 4 hour of straight sleep last night after 7 months (2 still pregnant and 5 after the baby). So, yeah, exhaustion doesn't go well with exercise next morning. No matter what someone who hasn't had a child tells you!

For this final stretch I realized I needed to make some changes in terms of food. All to function better, to have more energy and to feel lighter in general. So, I don't drink "milk milk" anymore (only Lactofree "milk", or almond or coconut). I still eat dairy but in moderation. I still eat butter but only goats which is easier to digest. I am having lots of salads, trying to drink lots of juices and smoothies I make myself AND eating chia pudding. Really eating chia pudding. I don't know what it is but I find it delicious, it kills my need for sweets, leaving me satisfied and happy.

 

My Mango and Coconut chia pudding :) 

My Mango and Coconut chia pudding :) 

Chia pudding is one of the easiest things to make. You have the ingredients, mix them together for five minutes and put it in the fridge overnight.  I have two recipes so far. I am sure many more will come! 

Mango and Coconut Chia Pudding

4 tablespoons of chia

1 cup of coconut milk (no sugar) 

1/2 cup of almond milk (unsweetened) 

1 cup sliced mangos 

1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract

1 teaspoon honey

Mix it all together for five minutes and keep it in the fridge for at least 4 hours before eating. Add more honey or extra mango slices if you want! 

 

Basic Vanilla Chia Pudding

4 tablespoons of chia

250-280 ml of almond milk (unsweetened) 

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract

Mix it all together for five minutes and keep it in the fridge for at least 4 hours before eating. Add blueberries, raisins, nuts or extra honey for a punch.

Once you get the amount of chia you like in it (I like mine a little runny and less stiff)  the variations are endless, and the Vanilla recipe can be a base for others. I will try a new one with banana soon! Enjoy :)

Landmark Hotels in Britain, France, Italy...

This has to be one of the best finds since I moved to the UK. I have yet to try it myself but just the thought of it already excites me. I am planning to use them in my travels next year. What a fun opportunity: staying at restored historic landmarks, some of them updated to modern, some of them with a long lost feel of the past. 

I am fascinated about history, the past, the stories and architecture. I am also 'Pinterest crazy' about interior design and the possibilities of it. What The Landmark Trust does is to rescue and restore important historical buildings that would otherwise be lost. Once the restoration process is complete the buildings are open to the public for short stays. 

The Landmark Trust owns buildings all over Britain, France, Italy and Belgium. Its 'portfolio' even includes 23 holiday properties on an island, called Lundy, off the coast of North Devon... how magical and unspoiled. And the best part is that, compared to hotels, specially for families, most places read pretty affordable.

So, as an idea for you next destination I have selected a few pictures from their really well put together website, scroll down and get excited.

All pictures courtesy from the Landmark Trust's website.

An old well is completely transformed... cozy and historical for only 147 pounds for 4 nights!

An old mine surrounded by beautiful greens in one the most sought after regions of the UK...

I just don't know what to say other than WOW...

This one is simply The Carpenter's Shop... How cool.

Oh! And the Martello Tower... pictures and memories for a lifetime!

You can understand more, search and book your next stay at their (very) comprehensive website here. I know I will!

Beauty Desire

With some sense most women I know like beauty or the 'idea' of buying beauty and beauty care products. Of course, most of us mortals cannot afford all of the products out there. Also, many expensive products have a some what similar (budget) option that won't hurt our pockets.

But this is a list of desire and likewise does not consider whether or not we can afford it! So there you go.

Tom Ford Complexion Enhancing Primer, believed to give us a special glow and preparation for the make up to come!

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Dior Nude Skin-Glowing Foundation, believed to be THE foundation to use right now. I have to say I am tempted to get this one because well, foundation is everything. Let's see!

MAC Prep + Prime Highlighter - all of the beauty bloggers I follow are talking about this. I use a very cheap Maybelline one or the Nars Radiant Creamy option. I will buy this next to see if it is really worth it!

Urban Decay Naked Smoky, what to say? Who doesn't love an eyeshadow palette (no matter how many we have already!). Of all the Nakeds out there this seems to be my favorite and the one that goes best with what I like. Still haven't bought it though.

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Sabé Masson Soft Perfume, dying for these ones. But haven't found the physical stores to test them. So, haven't bought any yet!

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Lifesavers for the Newborn Mom

So, I now have a month-old baby at home. The second one is easier so I have allowed myself some beauty routine which I thought was unnecessary with the first (it wasn't but life teaches you as you go).

These are my everyday products right now, for skin care and quick make up fix. They are easy to use - I apply most of them with my fingers - and give my tired sleepless face a boost.

From left to right, starting with the skin care routine:

- Sanctuary Spa THERAPIST'S SECRET FACIAL, a 100% natural super food for all skin types. I apply after washing my face in the mornings and get the glowy, dewy, hydrated look that prepares my skin for the make up to come. I use it everyday with or without make up.

- Sanctuary Spa Active Reverse Facial Peptide Repair Eye Cream, a restorative treatment to reduce the appearance of wrinkle, dark circles and puffiness. Use it every morning and before going to bed. I apply it with a quick massage around the eyes.

- Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate, my all time favorite facial oil for the night. After a good wash I apply 2-3 drops of this magical balm to my face and neck. Don't rub in, just apply it and let your skin do the absorbing. 

- Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Gel foundation, my budget foundation for every day wear. It feels like an expensive foundation without hurting my pockets. It has nice coverage but it is also very light on my skin. 

- Maybelline Dream Touch blush, for a spark of color, still keeping skin with enough moisture and glow. Another great budget option for blush.

- Nars Radiant Creamy (Magical) Concealer, not necessary budget but masterly worth it. I apply bellow the eyes, making a little triangle down my cheeks, on my dark spots and melasma. Perfect coverage and luminosity without being heavy.

- Nars Multiple stick (Copacabana), the touch 'of fairy', sparky look for my cheek and eyes (eyelids) that disguises my tired look.

- Maybelline Colossal Mascara, any Maybelline mascara is the perfect budget mascara I need to give an extra boost to my eyelashes. 

- Burts Bees Hydrating lip balm, so that my lips also keep their health and moisture on! 

People I meet have been saying I don't look tired like a newborn mom should. Maybe the routine is working?! Worth trying. Always worth trying. Especially if you are clocking in only 2-3 hours of sleep a night!

Cross bodies, the Perfect Bags

Maybe it's because I have kids (and usually an additional bag to carry around) or maybe it is just that I am getting old and tired of carrying unnecessary weight or that I finally realized that the bigger the bag the more I have inside (have I mentioned unnecessary weight?). But, it's been years now that what I mostly wear are cross body bags. They seem to have the perfect size and fit for my lifestyle and, unless I am traveling (when I will carry a larger tote bag), cross bodies are my 'to go' bag.

I have selected a few I love, the most expensive mainly as inspirations: there are plenty of affordable beautiful cross bodies out there!

1. The COACH Leather "Willis" 70th Anniversary Edition. Available now as second hand, I believe, but mine - in British tan - goes with me everywhere:

COACH Leather "Willis" 70th Anniversary Edition.jpg

2. Marc by Marc Jacobs Metropoli Saffiano - love the simple envelope design:

Marc By Marc Jacobs Crossbody - Metropoli Saffiano

3. La Contrie New Rohan with its beautiful rope stitching: 

La Contrie_New Rohan_Crossbody

4. Marni Trunk Saffiano. Expensive but so so chic:

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5. & Other Stories sleek and affordable option:

 

6. Anya Hindmarch Slow Down fun option:

7. Mansur Gavriel simply amazing calf coated:

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8. Sophie Hulme simple and timeless:

And Other Stories, a Favorite in London

Most people who come to London, or live here, go to Oxford and Regents streets for some shopping. I know the place it's packed with people (mostly tourists out and about) but it is a great option if you are looking for the megastores of almost every brand.  Topshop, Primark, H&M, they are all massive here. There are huge 'department stores' like John Lewis, Debenhans and, of course, beautiful and unmissable Selfridges. Not to mention the 3/4 floors Hamleys, London's must for parents (and kids). And, all of the expensive more exclusive brands have a spot on either (or both) of these streets.

When I moved here, I found one of my favorites stores right on Regent's Street, only a few steps aways from Oxford Circus tube: And Other Stories.

And Other Stories Map_Carpe Digi

The reason this place is a favorite: nice designs, different shoes, awesome sunglasses, great cosmetics area, nice lingerie, sales really worth a visit. I think most of my shades are from And Other Stories when I think about it. All of this, at a price that is not overwhelming. In fact, I just paid less than 8 pounds on 2 new sunglasses last week (this is their major sale of course, but when it is not you can find nice ones for 12 pounds!).

Some of my shades from & Other Stories  :)

Some of my shades from & Other Stories  :)

They have a great sale going on right now and I have selected a few items that could give you an idea of what the store is about. GO!

PUSH PIN BUCKLE LEATHER CROSSBODY £79

PUSH PIN BUCKLE LEATHER CROSSBODY £79

CUTOUT LEATHER ANKLE BOOTS £79

CUTOUT LEATHER ANKLE BOOTS £79

ECLIPSE LACE SOFT BRA £17

ECLIPSE LACE SOFT BRA £17

SIROCCO SANDS BODY SCRUB £7

SIROCCO SANDS BODY SCRUB £7

7:E VÅNINGEN SCENTED CANDLE £17

7:E VÅNINGEN SCENTED CANDLE £17

STRAIGHT FIT SILK SHIRT £65

STRAIGHT FIT SILK SHIRT £65

ELASTIC WAIST DICE DRESS £55

ELASTIC WAIST DICE DRESS £55

Practicalities:

& Other Stories: 256—258 Regent Street (W1B 3AF) - Tube Oxford Circus

Boots Best Buys

If you are in London and have sometime to spend at a drugstore go to Boots. Try to pick a larger one (my top choice being the one on Oxford Street). Not only you will find all the top brands like Chanel, Lancôme, Clinique (you get the idea) but you will also find the not so expensive great selection of other good brands. I had some spare time this morning and here are my picks of the day.

Unless you would like to pay at least 18 pounds for a manicure do your own nails at home with Barry M's products: accessible nail polish with amazing brush and the must have corrector pen to clean the excess. Perfect duo. 

I picked an amazing red (Can't Get You Out Of My Red). The finish of this line is very shiny. £3.50

I picked an amazing red (Can't Get You Out Of My Red). The finish of this line is very shiny. £3.50

Barry M's Nail Paint Corrector Pen, £4.99

Barry M's Nail Paint Corrector Pen, £4.99

Eye palettes are one of my favorite make up items, they just make life easier. Some of the famous brands have amazing options (I know) but they are also expensive. Not the case with these two options Boots carries.

Sleek's I-Divine Eyeshadow Palette (in AU NATUREL). Many other shades available. £7.99

Sleek's I-Divine Eyeshadow Palette (in AU NATUREL). Many other shades available. £7.99

L'Oreal Paris Color Riche La Palette Nude Eyeshadow Palette (Beige). £14.99

L'Oreal Paris Color Riche La Palette Nude Eyeshadow Palette (Beige). £14.99

A great primer that gives you smooth skin (not oily) with a touch of glow. Go for the travel size (12ml), not easy to find but at a good price when you do (ask the ladies by the booth to open their drawers to check for the travel sizes!).

Smashbox Primer Luminizing. Try to find the 'travel size' (12ml) for £12.50.

Smashbox Primer Luminizing. Try to find the 'travel size' (12ml) for £12.50.

And, affordable make up brushes by EcoTools. Many other kits available. Boots carries the famous brands as well but sometimes they are twice this price.

EcoTools Lovely Looks Set. £11.99

EcoTools Lovely Looks Set. £11.99

In the end I finally found the perfect nude lipstick in the Rimmel London collection by Kate (Moss). Another happy buy. Next on the list the nail polishes from the same collection!

Rimmel London by Kate, a Nude #43 (4 other shades to pick from). £5.49

Rimmel London by Kate, a Nude #43 (4 other shades to pick from). £5.49

It is always a good idea to have a Boots Advantage Card and to download their app for offers that you can use in store, combined with the offers they already have going. So far, for me, the app has been smart to recognize things I usually buy, customizing some of the offers. 

Brussels - Quickies and Tips

We had 2 days to travels and opted for Brussels. At first I was not that excited. Once I got there though I really enjoyed it and thought the combo amount of days/location could not have been better.

I have listed a few quick tips for the city. This is not meant to be a thorough guide but should give a good head start to tackle the city.

Hotels

- Central and affordable: Novotel off Grand Place - chain hotel (know what to expect) but kudos for its location. Ibis off Grand Place - maybe an even cheaper version located at the same spot.

- Splurge celebrity option: Hotel Amigo - indeed where celebrities stay when they visit. Didn't stay there but tried the Italian restaurant (Ristorante Bocconi) downstairs and it was worth it!

- Our pick: Hotel des Galeries - for its location (inside the beautiful Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert) and for its low key boutique style (if that's what you are looking for).

Foods not to miss

- The fries (Belgium is famous for its fries and in Brussels they make up for a meal topped with a dash of mayo)

Fires abound at Belgian Frites (Place Agora).

Fires abound at Belgian Frites (Place Agora).

- The chocolate, what to say about the chocolate! It is simply the best chocolate of all times. There are chocolate places all over town, it is impossible to miss them. The ones I recommend: Pierre Marcolini (stores all over and one inside Galeries Saint-Hubert) and Maison Dandoy (that also has the best cookies - speculoos - in town)

Maison Dandoy, Rue au Beurre, a must visit for the building and the cookies.

- Waffles, eaten anywhere, on the go most of the time. There are two kinds: the crispy Brussels version of the heavier (with more dough) Liège type. Both are good. Our best and more tasteful experience was to seat at the Maison Dandoy (off Grand Place) to have ours.

- Carbonnade, a wonderful beef stew cooked in Belgium beer. Usually served with fried and mayo! Had a great one at Le Marmiton (inside Galeries Saint-Hubert).

- The beers - with more than a hundred breweries in Belgium you can practically taste a different beer every time you seat down for one. The pub Chez Moeder Lambic offers 450 kinds of beer.

Things to do (in a nutshell)

Staying in central Brussels will make your life simpler, the city is very easy to navigate on foot. And if you need a cab ride somewhere that will not kill your budget. Here are things not to miss:

- Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, beautiful design full of shops and restaurants.

-  Magritte Museum which displays famous paintings, drawings, photographs, videos and archives of the Belgium artist.

- Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée, a beautiful Art Nouveau building dedicated to the art of comic strip and its Belgium famous characters like Tintin and The Smurfs.

- Musée Horta, the so well preserved space dedicated to the 'original' Art Nouveau architect Victor Horta.

- Manneken-Pis, the little guy statue who is pissing freely in one of the corners off-Grand Place. It has become a symbol of the city. An absurd one! 

We didn't get to see him naked, I wonder if they always dress him up!

- Place du Grand Sablon, beautiful and a little off the off-Grand Place circuit but worth the visit for its cafes, chocolate makers, Tintin statue and antiques.

In case you need more inspiration to decide Brussels is a cool destination check here.

Hand Cream Obsession

Well, I think I can consider myself a 'hand cream crazy lady'. I have bottles everywhere, drawers, bathrooms, car, different purses... But, I am always in the lookout for new ones (meaning the ones I haven't tried yet).

Today, browsing at Selfridges I found a new favorite by Laura Mercier. I have been very lucky with every Laura Mercier I have tried so far (concealers, primers and blushes) but did not know about her 'bath and body' line.

Almond Coconut was my favorite but Fig and Lemon (not seen here) were strong contenders.

Almond Coconut was my favorite but Fig and Lemon (not seen here) were strong contenders.

I had a hard time choosing only one today and considering I am very very very picky with smells this is a huge compliment. I ended up with the Almond Coconut but Fresh Fig and Lemon Tarte were strong contenders. Happy to report that after wearing the cream on a sunny and warm afternoon the good smell is still here and it is nothing artificial. Good buy :)

Summer Treat: Rossa Ice Cream

It is not hard to find Italian ice cream places everywhere you look in other big European cities other than those Italian, of course. They seem to be all over. I just visited a great one in Barcelona (Gelaaati! Di Marco, Carrer de la Libreteria 7) and there are plenty to chose from in London.

But, the trick is to find good carton ice cream to take home. And, if you are tired of your regular Ben&Jerry's and Häagen-Dazs, I have finally found great quality ice cream to go: Rossa Ice Cream. Amazing flavor, almost 50% fruit in the fruity flavors, perfect texture. Created by Italians in the UK this award wining ice cream deserves your attention.

Mango sorbet, my summer treat.

Mango sorbet, my summer treat.

Rossa can be found in specialty delis and in some supermarkets. I have found my stockist in Chiswick's amazing deli Hack&Veldt. Time to visit Rossa's website and track yours.

Malababa, Super Store in Barcelona

Malababa has to be my great find in Barcelona this past weekend. The store has inspiring handbags, wallets, clutches and shoes, trendy and all in great leather. The price is on the high side but all the products I loved seemed worth it. If nothing else, good for the eye and the mind. Next time you are in Spain? Maybe? Here are the things I loved.

Cestoda Bag in many colors from www.malababa.com

Cestoda Bag in many colors from www.malababa.com

The Cestona in mustard is simply beautiful and so so soft.

The Cestona in mustard is simply beautiful and so so soft.

The Knot clutch is so classy.

The Knot clutch is so classy.

I know I have a thing for yellow and mustard...

I know I have a thing for yellow and mustard...

The Minihontas in white and blue. Seriously?!

The Minihontas in white and blue. Seriously?!

Nice soft leather makes all the difference in the Gracia clutch.

Nice soft leather makes all the difference in the Gracia clutch.

Add a spark to your look with this Gravedad wallet in silver. Very sleek.

Add a spark to your look with this Gravedad wallet in silver. Very sleek.

You can find Malababa at various locations in Spain. And on-line here.

All pictures are courtesy of www.malababa.com

Scents We Love

So here finally a long overdue post with some of the scents we love. Maybe it is because I grew up with a mom and dad who smelled so good but the perfect scent (and the search for it) has always been fun to me. Here are my favorites.

Scents to love by Caudalie, Malin+Goetz, Demeter and Le Labo

Scents to love by Caudalie, Malin+Goetz, Demeter and Le Labo

Figue de Vigne by Caudalie, ultimately refreshing with an intriguing figue backdrop. 

Dark Rum by Malin+Goetz, an unissex aroma (one of my Christmas gifts to my husband last year), mischievous with a not too sweet backdrop. 

Holy Water by Demeter Fragrance Library, coming from a brand that explores your day to day smells. I spent a good 30 minutes at a Duane Reade in the US (where you can usually find their entire selection) to pick this one.

Neroli 36 by Le Labo, my all-time favorite, the scent I looked for my entire life, the smell my son knows for me. Like anything Le Labo worth every drop.