29 October 2010

New Dove hair care range: "Got no time for a damage case"*

As brands go, I’m a big fan of Dove. I admire what they set out to achieve in 2004 when they launched the very ambitious Campaign for Real Beauty. Ok, so obviously they wanted to increase sales, but they wanted to do more than that, too: “to make women feel more beautiful every day by challenging today’s stereotypical view of beauty and inspiring women to take great care of themselves.”

When I first saw it I found the following video particularly impactful; I remember watching it clustered around one computer with my colleagues, truly astounded at the changes that had been wrought on the featured model.

I’m not sure how successful the campaign was for Dove in terms of sales –- I hope it was very -- but they did succeed in sparking debate about real women and real beauty, attracting both positive and negative commentary and attention for the campaign, and the women -- of all shapes, sizes and ages -- who participated in it. They took a risk with it and they did something that was both unusual and worthwhile.

So I wasn’t too surprised when yesterday, right outside National College of Ireland in Dublin’s IFSC, I came across Dove doing something else that was worthwhile and a little unusual.

They had set up a little pop-up hair salon marquee on Mayor Square, and were offering passers-by a free shampoo and blow-dry, while inviting them to make a small donation to Breast Cancer Ireland. It was a fantastic initiative, and it certainly gave a number of my colleagues a lovely little pick-me-up on an otherwise dull and grey Thursday in October.

They products they were using – and handing out for trial -- were from Dove's new Hair Damage Therapy range.

Apparently, more than 6 out of 10 women suffer from damaged hair, with top hair offenders including hair dye, highlights, perms, styling, straighteners and even brushing.

And with my recent highlights, I most certainly fall within that category of 6 out 0f 10 –- my hair is probably the most dry and damaged it’s been in about a decade (since my ill-fated little blonde experiment, but let’s not go there).

The new products are infused with “a special patented Micro Moisture Serum” technology that promises to repair –- and not just mask –- the damage.

Now, I’m pretty cynical about products claiming to penetrate the hair shaft to reconstruct from within, as these do, but the Damage Therapy range also promises to repair the surface of my hair from root to tip, leaving it healthier, shinier and stronger. And I’m very excited about the promise on the Intensive Repair bottle, too: 5 x less split ends!

The products are available in chemists and supermarkets now, and in Boots nationwide from November. And with RRP prices from €3.59 to €3.99, they’re not going to break the bank, either.

I have the Intensive Repair and Colour Radiance varieties to try out, and I’ll let you know how I get on. Anyone else using this range? What do you make of it yourself?

*Post title: Lyric from Metallica, 'Damage Case'

28 October 2010

Last night, she said*

Lynda, Kirstie and Sharmadean on the couch
I wasn’t feeling 100% yesterday evening so a nice cuppa tea, a mini cupcake or 2 (ok, 3) and a cosy chat at the latest Barry’s ‘Tea With…’ event were just what the doctor ordered. And I was really glad I went, because I came away all energised and inspired from hearing WAH Nails founder, Sharmadean Reid, chatting away to beaut.ie’s Lynda and Kirstie.

Launched this week in Harvey Nichols in Dundrum, WAH also has salons in Dalston (East London), Topshop in Oxford Street, and the basement of Lily Allen’s new clothes shop, Lucy in Disguise.
Aside from her hair, which was awesome, I really admired Sharmadean’s DIY, go-getting attitude, her confidence and self-belief, and her desire to give back to the neighbourhoods from which she’s gleaned so much creative inspiration. Her advice to new start-ups made sense, too: keep one eye on your competitors but stay focused on your own business, and remain confident that you’re the best at what you do.

An example of some badass WAH Nails!
With plans for a training academy, a business magazine and a Japanese-style nail book -- not to mention a baby on the way -- something tells me we’re going to hear more and more about Ms Reid in the future.
Barry's 'Tea With...' is an ongoing talk series that brings some of the world's leading cultural innovators to Ireland for a chat over a cuppa. I’ll be keeping an eye on www.facebook.com/barrystea for details of the next one.

Oh, and the next big trend in nails? 3D and glitter acrylic fades, apparently -- will you be getting in on the act?

*Post title: Lyric from The Strokes, 'Last Night'

27 October 2010

Boots No 7 Mascara Review: "I Need A Hero"*

For those of you less cosmetically inclined, there is a restaurant review here. Go read it.
For everyone else, well now, I know you’ll have been as traumatised as I was by my tales of Chanel-inspired woe. (Chanel? Woe? In the same sentence? I know, I know. My world is shaken, too.)
But! Wait! All is not lost, because this story has a happy ending. And in these days of grim realism, we all want one of those. And we all, in the immortal words of the great Bonnie Tyler, Need A Hero. So here it is: I present to you my new favourite mascara, ever.
Admittedly, it is in a not-very-stylish shiny green tube, it has a brush I perceived to be gimmicky and it is purchased from a chemist's shop and not a high-end department store. But leave your preconceived notions to one side, my fellow make-up snobs, and run, run! to your nearest chemist to get your hands on the wonder that is:
Boots No 7 Exceptional Definition Nutrient Enriched Mascara
This little beauty cost me £12 in Glasgow airport -- I think it’s about €17 here – and I’ll admit, I was initially only after the free autumnal shimmer eye palette that came with it.
But with a couple of strokes, this has actually given me the defined, fluttery lash look I was hoping for from my ill-fated Chanel Inimitable Intense. My lashes look longer, curlier and separated, thanks to the ‘unique triple effect brush’, which had sounded so gimmicky to my cynical ears.
Basically, one half is a standard mascara wand, the other half has shorter, comb-like bristles, and the top has that roundy applicator shape that’s become quite fashionable (à la Givenchy Phenomen'Eyes and L'Oréal’s Telescopic Explosion).
The comby side was very appealing because the Chanel mascara is really crying out for something like that. The Boots one doesn’t seem to need it though, because the mascara hasn’t clumped once yet. And the rounded tip is perfect for the teeny wee lashes on the inner and outer corners of my eyes.

It doesn’t give me ‘fat lashes’, which I quite like, but as it’s easy to apply, doesn’t smudge and gives me great coverage, definition, separation and length, I think I can let that go.
Boots even have a handly little video showing you how to apply it, along with the free eyeshadow quartet it comes with:

And what about you? Any budget beauty booty you care to share?
*Post title: Bonnie Tyler, 'I Need A Hero'

Frankie's Steakhouse Restaurant Review: "Frankie – do you remember me?"*

I’ve been a big fan of Marco Pierre White since his stint on Hell's Kitchen and so, despite knowing he’s probably rarely set foot in the place, I was excited about trying Frankie’s Steakhouse & Bar –- his Temple Bar based partnership with Italian jockey, Frankie Dettori -- as part of Dine in Dublin last week . So last Wednesday, after a swift apéritif in the Foggy Dew, off we set, the four of us – myself, himself, and our bestest mates, George and Velma Valento (real names - fact!**).

Now, the location was slightly off-putting. Of course you can get good food at decent prices in Temple Bar, but there’s no denying that Dublin’s most famous tourist quarter is also home to some substandard joints that rely on location, high footfall and one-off visitors to fill their coffers. Happily, Frankie’s does not feel like one of the latter. We were in great form and first impressions were favourable, with the soft amber lighting, twinkling mirror balls, comfy banquettes and cushions all contributing to a welcoming atmosphere. We were seated at a circular table by the window which looked warm and inviting but, once we’d removed our jackets, proved anything but, with an uncomfortable draft hitting us through the glass.

Our waiter – one of four who served us throughout the evening – seemed a little put out by our request to move tables: he wandered off to ‘check if it was ok’, despite the restaurant being, at most, a quarter full at that stage of the evening. Move we did though and were soon happily ensconced in a cushioned banquette and perusing the appealing little cocktail list at €7.95 a pop – including the champagne cocktail, which at that price, we were almost obligated to try. And absolutely delicious they were, too.
And so to the important part: the food. The Dine In Dublin menu was €30 for 3 courses which seemed like a bargain – until we had a little look at their regular menus. The prices here are reasonable: so reasonable, in fact, that the ‘special’ Dine in Dublin deal didn’t look quite so special anymore. I jumped ship and opted to eat from the early bird menu, tempted by the crispy calamari a la romana, but the other 3 have more staying power and determined to see out what we’d set out to do.
Himself and Velma went with the Boston Style Shrimp Cocktail, while George had the liver pate with melba toast. George and I were impressed: the calamari was lightly battered and well-seasoned, while the pate was deliciously creamy and rich. The shrimp cocktails were pronounced good, but a little too acidic, with the vinegary taste becoming more pronounced as they got to the bottom of the dish. They were a smidgeon heavy on the paprika, too.
Excuse the picture quality - aforementioned
amber glow is not the most conducive
to photography!
Being in a steakhouse, our main courses were, predictably, steak: 3 x sirloin with chips, from the Dine in Dublin menu, and my steak sandwich, from the early bird. The steaks were well cooked to order but, while the sandwich (probably ribeye) was a juicy success, the sirloins lacked flavour in two out of three while one, in particular, contained quite a lot of gristle, which was pointed out to our waiter. Himself noted that sirloin was not a cut on Frankie’s regular menu -- which offers fillet, rib-eye, and T-bone as the norm – so we conjectured the sirloin had been bought in just for Dine In Dublin, and may not have been to the same high quality they would usually serve.
We washed the steaks down with a nice bottle of red, a 2008 Stormy Cape Shiraz, at a reasonable €24.
Sadly, though, dessert brought more disappointment. The ice-cream was grand (though brought grudgingly by one of our many waiters as a substitution to the semifreddo on the menu), the chocolate fudge-cake was pronounced a success, but the two crème brulees that were brought to the table were burnt, badly, on one side each. This was brought to our waiter’s attention, and the desserts returned to the kitchen. Just like our comments on the steak, we were told the chef would be informed and then ignored, to be served by a different waiter and given no acknowledgement or explanation from the kitchen.
Imagine our surprise so, when, 10 minutes later, the returned desserts turned up on the bill. We mentioned this to the very nice gentleman who, the Frankie’s website obligingly informs me, was General Manager Greg Mullan. He whisked away the bill, consulted with the waiters, and 2 minutes later returned with a dessert and a cocktail removed. This brought the total down from €170 ish to around €155 for 4 people - 3 Dine In Dublin specials; 1 Early Bird; 3 cocktails and 1 bottle of wine - which, while not astronomical, wasn’t exactly cheap, either.
But all that said, I think I’ll go back to Frankie’s and give it another shot. If they stepped up the attention to detail and customer service by just a notch, this would have been a much better experience. The GM was lovely, the early bird was good value and we enjoyed the atmosphere. And then, of course, there were those lovely champagne cocktails…
**Not factual. At all.
*Post title: Lyric from Sister Sledge, ‘Frankie’

26 October 2010

Chanel Inimitable Intense Mascara Review: "Are you hoping for a miracle? It’s not enough"*

I have a wee Dine in Dublin review coming up along with an account of the Great Glaswegian Punkfest this weekend, but they’ll have to wait till photos, words and laptops are aligned. So in the meantime I thought I’d share my experiences from my recent Hunt For The Greatest Mascara In The World, Ever.
Now, what I want from a mascara is fairly standard. I want it to give me length and volume and separation and definition and curl and lift. I want one product that will give me pretty, defined and fluttery day-time lashes, and I want to layer it up for a more dramatic and intense night-time look. Oh, and I’d prefer it to look pretty in my make-up bag, too.
See? Simples.
So, after weeks and weeks of exhaustive and in-depth research -- which involved mainly reading the beaut.ie archives, looking at highly unrealistic images in beauty ads and asking my mates -- I had narrowed the selection down to three: Chanel Inimitable Intense, Lancôme Hypnose Drama, and Dior Show. Then I discarded the latter because the brush reminded me of Benefit’s Bad Gal, which I didn’t really get on with, and I was left with two. Handily, I also have two eyes, so I hit the beauty counters and spent a day jumping out at colleagues to demand they point out their favourite eye. It was 50/50, so I picked the one with the nicest packaging, and went with the Chanel.
Launched this summer as a successor to the very popular Inimitable, Chanel’s Inimitable Intense set me back €28 in Brown Thomas. From a selection of four colours –- black, black/brown, black/navy or rouge noir – I chose, as I always do, the plain ol’ black variety. The packaging is lovely, a slim classy black and silver rectangular-ish tube. But that, I am very sad to report, is the nicest thing I have to say about this product.
This mascara is very, very thick –that much is obvious as soon as you pull the wand from the tube. And yet, one application was disappointing, delivering none of the intensity of its name and with no real impact on volume, length or lift. It also failed to coat all my lashes, leading to much jiggery-pokery as I tried to get at the pesky little feckers at the inner and outermost corners of my eyes. Which is when I noticed the smudging. After messing about with cotton buds and concealer pencils (thanks, Glamour mag and Benefit, for that free IT stick a few months back), I concluded that applying mascara had never felt this much like hard work.
And then I went in for the second coat. This is a stiff, thick formula that just doesn’t work well when layering. My lashes clumped together in uneven, spiky little groups and frantically wiping off the brush and attempting to comb and separate did nothing to help the situation: if anything, my lashes looked even bumpier with a definite ‘spider effect’ going on.
I left it for a week while I finished off a Lancôme trial sized sample, but found the same disappointing results when I returned to it. Having used this for the past two weeks, I am seriously unimpressed. The Chanel blurb tells me this mascara will deliver “dramatic effects with a unique brush. The result is a more intense lash look, with the same easy application. Lashes appear longer, thicker and more curled, yet each lash, even the finest, is still precisely separated – without clumping, spiking or flaking.”
Well, it didn’t flake, dear readers, but at €28, this is a case when 2 outta 3 IS bad.

*Post title: Lyric from Bloc Party, ‘Helicopter’

21 October 2010

Please don't stop the music*

If I didn’t already have plans tonight I would be dragging himself along to see my new favourite band, Warpaint, in Crawdaddy.

I’ve been listening to their debut album, The Fool, on repeat since the weekend (although I don’t think it’s officially released until this weekend coming).

Warpaint are, now, four females (having lost their male guitarist to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers somewhere along the way). The band is made up of Emily Kokal (guitar/vocals), Theresa Wayman (guitar/vocals), Jenny Lee Lindberg (bass/vocals), and Stella Mozgawa (drums/keys/vocals).

Standout tracks for me, so far, are Undertow and Baby, but they’re all pretty captivating, especially after a couple of listens. The album makes me feel sad and sort of nostalgic, but I get that way in autumn anyway so it’s hard to tell if the music has determined my mood, or my mood has determined my reaction to the music. It's probably a bit of both.

Lead singer Emily Kokal has described their music as “psychadelic-ghetto-tech-melodramatic-popular-song”. I don’t think that’s quite doing it justice.

There is something quite beautiful about those hypnotic, ethereal vocals and harmonies set against their almost aggressive post-punk rhythms.

But here, that’s not doing it justice either, so have a listen and tell me what you think yourself:

*Post title: Lyric from Rihanna, ‘Don’t stop the music’

18 October 2010

I try to make the social scene*

The old Pravda
There’s a lot happening in the capital this week so I thought I would do a little round-up of events that have caught my eye.

First up, Dave over at Dublin Culture alerted me to the fact that Dine In Dublin is taking place this week. Running from today, Monday 18th October, to Sunday 24th, this sees more than 50 of the city’s best restaurants offering special promotional rates of €25/€30 for a 3 course ‘Dine in Dublin’ menu – including a choice of 5 starters, 5 mains, 3 desserts and tea/coffee.

My picks would be Marco Pierre Whites, L'Gueuleton or Frankies (also by MPW) but if they don’t tickle your fancy, there are plenty more great restaurants on the list.

On Wednesday, Chaos Thaoghaire is taking place from 7.30 pm at The Grand Social on Liffey Street or -- as I will probably always refer to it -- the old Pravda. Billed most interestingly as ‘a night of storytelling, games, camaraderie (ha!), bloody-minded rivalry, and mutual humiliation’, the theme for this month is monsters and the storytellers are selected in advance, so no need to panic that you'll be put on the spot. In the interests of full disclosure I should probably say that I’ve never been to one of the regular nights before, but I did check them out at Electric Picnic and very much liked what I found.

And so to Thursday, where there are two fun happenings taking place: the BTW meet-up and the return of Poetry Night to The Gutter Bookshop. The former is the brainchild of Jason Roe and the acronym stands for Blogger-Twitter-Whatever. These are free, fun, informal get-togethers that, in my experience, tend to involve cocktails. Just sayin’. This one kicks off at 7pm in the Church bar on Mary street.

Poetry Night involves less cocktails and more, well, poetry. It’s run by the good folks at The Gutter Bookshop in Temple Bar, is free to attend and the really good news is it runs from 6pm to 7.15, so you can head over to BTW once it’s done.
On Saturday, Shebeen Chic will play host to a Tea Party & Vintage Market, which I first heard about from Anne Marie at whatshewears.ie. Taking place from 12 – 6pm, this promises to be a fabulous day with live music, stalls selling all varieties of vintage goodness from jewellery to clothing to furniture and, of course, tea and cake aplenty.
Sadly that’s one I’ll have to miss since I’ll be at the Wee Chill in Glasgow on the same day, instead.
Are you planning to attend any of the above? Make sure you say hello if you do. I’ll be the one trying to figure out the flash settings on her (borrowed) camera…

Photo of green sign courtesy of Bob at The Gutter Bookshop
*Post title: lyric from The Dictators, ‘Stay With Me’

17 October 2010

Irish Web Awards 2010: "Oh What A Night"*

Damien Mulley certainly knows how to throw a good party.

I’d say there are a fair few sore heads around the country after the cupcakes-and-cones extravaganza at the Mansion House that was the 2010 Irish Web Awards last night.

The event is a more irreverent take on your typical awards ceremony and was a fun and entertaining celebration of the best of Ireland’s online offerings.

More than 500 web-heads attended the ceremony, which was complete with a retro living room stage-set, an orchestra, an ice cream van, foam cutouts from Made in Hollywood, and –- what no self-respecting awards ceremony would be seen without -- a man in a tight, shiny orange jumpsuit.

And when the queue for the bar looked a little too daunting, the free Heineken from the goodie bags proved a very welcome treat.

Host Rick O’Shea rocked the mic like a vandal and, for those who couldn’t be there in person, the ever-lovely Darragh Doyle captured the whole event on twitter, under the hashtag #iwa10.

Shout out to Rosemary MacCabe for being such engaging company too -- as ever -- and of course, my fabulous work peeps.

For me, the highlight of the night was the very touching and emotional speech by Lisa Domican, as she accepted her award for Best Mobile App. Named after her daughter, Grace App seeks to help children with autism to develop their communication skills. Lisa’s blog is well worth a read and you can find her on twitter too, as lisamareedom.

The Irish Times scooped the grand prix, and their article today lists the rest of the category winners.

All in all a great night and thanks to Damien, his team and his sponsors –- including headline sponsor Realex Payments -- for making it happen.

(My only gripe is that my lovely glossy black nails -- which had two coats of Chanel's Black Satin and a top coat applied by my own fair hand only yesterday -- is showing such godawful wear and tear today. You win some, you lose some...)

* Post title: Frankie Valli, 'Oh What A Night'

15 October 2010

Rockport Launch: "Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more"*

It seems like there was a lot happening last night. In the manner of these things, you wait all week for a nice event and then 3 come along at once. So while I was schlepping out to Dundrum on the LUAS to Harvey Nichols, Clerys were having their own little shindig on O’Connell Street, to launch The Rockport Company's 800 square foot concession on the ground floor of this popular department store.

To mark the occasion, Clerys have been running a series of giveaways all week on their Facebook page which, if you’re not already a fan, is well worth checking out. There's still time left to throw your hat in the ring to win today's offering -- a fetching grey ankle boot.

Now, as himself will testify, my poor wee feet have taken a bit of a beating over the years and are permanently in need of an auld rub. So I’m delighted to see that Rockport pride themselves on engineering comfortable footwear, which are also stylish and contemporary.

Here are my picks from the current collection.

Anna boots - the lace ups (my fave) are €160 and the tall boots €170.
Audrey Welt Oxfords, coming in at €115. I like the grey.
Lily Welt Riding Boots, €170

Photos courtesy of Clerys.

*Post title: Lyric from Haddaway, ‘What Is Love’

14 October 2010

Could've been so beautiful, could've been so right*

Elle Magazine is 25 years old and to celebrate, this evening they held a special shopping event at Harvey Nichols, Dundrum. Promising ‘mini-makeovers, massages, make-up and skincare tutorials from the experts’, not to mention delicious Skyy vodka cocktails, and you can see why I was only too delighted to win tickets from Anne Marie over at the fabulous whatshewears.ie.

But did the event live up to its promise?

Well, it did and it didn’t.

Let’s start with the positives. The good parts were the goodie bag, which had a couple of decent sample size products I’m looking forward to trying, the Eve Lom demonstration by a friendly, engaging woman and the Elemis massage chair, trial of which came with a complimentary hand massage. Oh, and the company, but I brought that along myself.

The bad parts were, to be honest, the rather stuffy atmosphere, the fact that there were more staff members than attendees, the lack of any food whatsoever – who starts an event at 6pm without any form of nibbles? – and the fact that the promised Skyy cocktails were apparently rationed to one per person.

There wasn't much else happening and the demonstrations were fairly spaced out which meant, after we’d done a couple of laps of the store sans food or drinks, we were pretty much done.

Also, and I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but because we’d won tickets we apparently weren’t entitled to actually get a ticket, which would have allowed us €20 off a purchase. This meant that if I, as a competition winner, purchased a €30 product I would have paid full price. Whereas a person who had not won a competition to be there would have paid €20 for a ticket and €10 towards the same product. Therefore, surely, rendering the prize element null and void? By this logic I decided to buy the Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage concealer I’d been hankering after in Brown Thomas, instead.

So, to sum up, I have been to similar in-store shopping events, some run in conjunction with other magazines, in Clerys, Brown Thomas and Arnotts and they have all been a lot more fun. But hey ho. I'm off to dig through the goodie bag again.

*Lyric from Tiffany, 'Could've been'

13 October 2010

WAH Nails: I’ll have a cup of tea, and tell you of my dreaming*

I had no sooner read about WAH Nails over on Lynnie’s blog than I heard about a very exciting upcoming Dublin event. On Wednesday October 27th, the fabulous beaut.ie ladies are hosting one of the Barry’s ‘Tea With…’ cultural events with none other than WAH’s founder, stylista and entrepreneur Sharmadean Reid.

This free event –- running from 6-7pm in The Loft at the Powerscourt Centre -- is a chance to see the lovely beaut.ie sisters, Aisling and Kirstie McDermott, chat to Sharmadean about emerging beauty trends and, hopefully, her own very interesting background.

A graduate of Central St Martin's college in London, which also counts such fashion luminaries as Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane and Luella Bartley among its alumni, Sharmadean styled for a number of fashion titles before taking the role of Sportswear Editor at Arena Homme + magazine. Back in 2004 she started a fanzine called WAH to promote women in creative industries, from which WAH Nails -- coming soon to Harvey Nicks in Dundrum -- eventually originated.

All this, and she’s only 25-years-old.

For (free!) tickets and more details on the Barry’s ‘Tea With…’ event series, check out the Facebook page.

One to keep an eye on, and I’ll certainly be popping in for a cuppa!

Picture courtesy of Thinkhouse PR.

*Post title: Lyric from Blondie, ‘Dreaming’

10 October 2010

Chanel Mica Pink Polish Review: "Pink like a deco umbrella"*

Today I find myself indisposed to leaving the house,  so a little ‘home pampering’ seems in order. Despite my belief that it’s only pampering when someone else is doing all the work, the realities of living within a budget mean that most of the time, my attempts at grooming are a DIY effort.  So facepacked up to look like something from the black lagoon (himself is a lucky, lucky man!),  I’ve also had a bash at giving my nails  a nice, office appropriate look.   And although I’m neither a good photographer –- not helped by the fact that these are taken on his iPhone -- nor a good nail polish applier, surely that means the only way is up?

So! In order of usage, here are the products I applied (all purchased in Brown Thomas, Dublin):
    Nails Inc A & E base coat Chanel Le Vernis nail colour in 495, Mica Pink Chanel Laque Reflet Immediat Quick Shine for nails in 50, Naturel

I like the base coat; it was sold to me at the BT Nails Inc bar as a strengthening, moisturising product and my nails are definitely splitting less since I started to use it. The top coat is quick drying and gives a nice gloss, although it’s quite old and getting a little gloopy. Neither are very exciting though, so on to the good stuff.

First, a confession. For years I only bought expensive high-end nail polishes because I was convinced they applied better and were longer lasting, and that any difficulties I encountered were solely a matter of my own shoddy application techniques. A recent Rimmel purchase (Grey Matter, lovely) has put me right on that one. The Rimmel brush makes the colour go on smoother and more evenly and gives me a better finish. Who’da thunk it?

So while this Chanel colour is lovely, and it is, I don’t find it particularly easy to apply. Some of the fault may be with the polish or the brush, some of it is certainly with me. Mica Rose is very sheer and you need a couple of coats; I used two on each hand and one (pictured) has a decent enough finish, the other (unpictured, natch) looks a bit heavy handed with a lot of air bubbles on most of the nails. (Possibly a result of applying the topcoat too quickly?)

The colour is a pretty, shimmery, pale peachy-pink** with a very subtle sparkle/glitter that is more evident in the bottle than on your nails -- this seems to be characteristic of any sparkly or shimmery Chanel nail colour. It’s a bit pearlised, which I'm not a massive fan of, so with 3 coats that effect would be too much for me. Hmm…wonder what it would be like with one of those mattifying top coats? What do you think? And while you're at it, do you have any application tips you'd like to share with me?

*Post title: Lyric from Aerosmith, ‘Pink’

** Next day edit: Hmm, under my flourescent office lighting this isn't showing up as peachy at all, more like a cool toned bubblegum pink. Maybe one coat would have been enough after all.

09 October 2010

Open House Dublin: "Welcome to the house of fun"*

Yesterday I heard about Open House Dublin for the very first time. Running from Thursday through to tomorrow (7-10 October), this festival of architecture has apparently been on the go for years and, along with tours and events, sees some of Dublin’s most interesting buildings open for exploration by the public. And it’s all for free.

So this morning we rose early (for us) and set off into town to check out what was on offer. And fit in brunch and a spot of shopping along the way.

Our first stop was Elephant and Castle in Temple Bar. This is a popular brunch spot and it didn’t disappoint. It was busy and buzzy, our waiter was friendly and the food -- eggs benedict for me, eggs Idaho, pictured, for him -- arrived quickly and tasted great. There was a moment of panic when himself couldn’t spot tea on the beverages section of the menu, but happily (albeit a bit oddly) this turned up under ‘Starters’. As did my beverage of choice, ‘berry sorbet with strawberries and prosecco.’ Hell yeah.
baby grand piano in drawing room

After a quick purchase at the book market it was on to our first architectural pick, which was just around the corner. But despite being located amidst the general hubbub of Temple Bar, at 25 Eustace Street a sense of calm and history prevails.

This 3-floor Georgian townhouse, now owned by the Irish Landmark Trust, dates back to 1720 and is packed full of character, with its sloping floorboards, narrow proportions, high ceilings and panelled interiors. It was great fun to wander about and imagine living in Dublin back in the day. Our delightfully convivial hosts had even laid on a spread of tea, coffee, biscuits and assorted snacks.

Next up was a quick coffee stop. Since we needed to replenish our Nespresso supplies we decided to save a few pennies and take advantage of the complimentary coffee bar in the Brown Thomas Nespresso concession. The new limited edition, Kazar, is their strongest, most intense coffee yet so I played it safe by trying it as a cappuccino – delicious.

And the free beverages didn’t stop there. I wanted a quick peek at Whistles before we left, which is right beside the Quinn & Donnelly section. It just so happened that Q&D were showing their new collection so we were handed glasses of prosecco which we swigged while watching the end of the show.

Thus fortified, we were up for a bit more architectural goodness. Himself informed me that seeing the inside of the Custom House was apparently a lifelong dream…this may have been the prosecco talking, but we caught a lift over in one of those very handy little ecocabs to check it out.

He was a bit put out that so little of this impressive building -- home to the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government -- was actually open to the public, but it was still enjoyable and we learned a lot about its history. For example, I wasn’t aware that the building, originally completed in 1791, was burned down in 1921 and subsequently rebuilt by the Irish Government.

Open House Dublin finishes tomorrow and I would strongly recommend. There’s loads on so check the website to see which buildings are taking part. Continuing with the Georgian theme, my picks would be the Palladian Residence on North Great George’s Street and the Georgian mews that was owned and converted by Irish architect Sam Stephenson. Unlike what we saw today, both need to be pre-booked: hit the website so you don't miss out.

*Post title: Lyric from Madness, 'House of Fun'

07 October 2010

Wall Street 2 Movie Review: "Shedding light on the darkness of greed"*

So, himself and myself watched the Wall Street sequel last night, at the Santry Omniplex.

Now, let me start by pointing out that this is my first film review. So please bear with me as I attempt to walk the fine line between ‘not totally spoiling the movie by giving it all away’, and also ‘providing enough detail so that this actually makes a modicum of sense’. It’s tricksy, I tells ya.

But not as tricksy as one Mr. Gordon Gekko. (See what I did there?)

Quite simply, Michael Douglas is brilliant. Thrillingly reptilian, disarmingly charismatic and utterly manipulative, Gekko totally steals the show. He’s the best thing about this movie, hands down -- though the two fine young things are very easy on the eye. I was a bit ambivalent about both Shia LeBeouf and Carey Mulligan’s cropped hair previously, but I enjoyed looking at them both for the duration of the film’s 132 minutes last night.

Their characters though? Completely unrealistic. Shia plays Jake, a wide eyed, crazy-clever innocent who is also a Wall Street Banker. And Carey is Winnie Gekko, a liberal blogger who hates the corrupting power of her daddy and money and Wall Street so much that she…erm…falls for a Wall Street guy with wads of cash.

I mean, really.

So the plot, in a nutshell, is this: Jake works for investment bank Keller Zabel (aka Lehman Brothers’). Rumours are spread and the bank goes down. Jake goes after the bad guy, Bretton James, who heads up rival bank Churchill Schwartz (aka Goldman Sachs). Said bad guy also assisted in putting Gekko away for 8 years. So Gekko helps Jake, and Jake helps Gekko - by trying to reconcile him with his daughter, and Jake’s fiance, Winnie. Running alongside all this is a very obvious ‘alternative energy will save the world’ message. Oh, and the fabulous Susan Sarandon has a small part as Jake’s mother, too.

And then there’s the banking stuff. Obviously this is all set against the backdrop of the world’s financial meltdown, which gives a sense of immediacy and relevance to the film. It’s interesting to look behind the scenes and get a little insider knowledge as to what actually went down.

Except it was clear as mud, really.

The finance stuff went totally over my head - and before you make any assumptions, it also confused himself, who is currently studying the topic. We could follow the general gist though – here’s yer man going around pulling a bit of a fast one to get back at yer other man, and using a lot of jargon in the process. And we got the very obvious references, like the collapse of Lehman Brothers’. But the rest of it falls a little wide of the mark, and by the end of the film, you’re no more clued in than you were walking in to it.

Some of the other stuff didn’t stack up for me, either. Like the $10,000-a-seat dinner scene where the camera lingers on these aging ladies gigonormous bejewelled, bedazzling ear-rings. Such ostentatious shows of wealth, and yet so many wrinkles. They may have intended us to equate decline/decay with wealth/corruption and yet - have these mega-rich women really never heard of botox?!

There was also the rather sexist monologue from Mr. Douglas as he enlightens our beefyboy on the feminine nature of money: "Money's the bitch that never sleeps. And she's jealous!” Though this fits nicely alongside such other scenes of macho posturing as the tough-guy motorbike race and Charlie Sheen's cameo -- with a girl on each arm.

But here, lookit, all of this aside: I liked this film. I enjoyed watching it and thought it particularly good on the big screen. There are some great actors involved and they deliver solid and intense performances. I loved the shots of the New York and London skylines and, as I said, I enjoyed watching Carey’s hair.

Ultimately, I think this is a story about faith. There is a scene where Jake/Shia says to Winnie/Carey something along the lines of, “People like you and me, we want to be lied to. We want the bedtime story.”

Gekko’s corrupting influence causes these bright eyed young idealists to lose their faith in themselves, each other and the world, but by the end of the film their faith is renewed, and there’s a big fat happy unrealistic ending.

I enjoyed it. It just didn’t add up or make any sense. But that’s ok, because right now there is quite enough realism in my life.

I guess we all want the bedtime story.

Photo credit: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps movie poster

*Post title: Lyric from Rage Against The Machine, ‘Darkness of Greed’

06 October 2010

Dior Serum de Rouge Review: "Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?"*

There was a fair bit of buzz about Dior’s Serum de Rouge when it first came out at the end of August last year. After reading a glowing review by the fabulous beaut.ie ladies I headed into Clerys to make it my own. At €32 it was fairly spendy - although a veritable bargain when you compare it to the cost of a Tom Ford lipstick at almost 50. I haven’t been able to justify one of those little lovelies – yet.

So back to last August, and I remember being a little disappointed in the shade offering – there are 8 in total – and deliberately steering away from my usual nude-y tones towards the deeper end of the spectrum. I went for the raspberry serum in the end, number 760. And that’s probably why I didn’t end up wearing the thing, being more in a ‘smoky eyes and understated lips’ sort of mood at the time.

Now, though, now, things are different.

I discovered the slim, navy and silver tube during a routine clear-out of my make-up collection the other week. It pains me now that I actually held it in my hands for a few seconds while I vacillated between chucking it and giving it another go. And then I tried it on, and such was my delight that I actually called for himself to tell him just how much I liked this lippy. (Himself was oddly underwhelmed).

The main delight was the texture. The changing seasons have left my lips a little dry. Not quite cracked – yet – but definitely requiring a good old slathering in Vaseline every night before bed. And this stuff glides on like a…well, like a serum I guess: how clever, the clue’s in the name! It feels lusciously silky and moisturising and it should, because it’s packed full of all sorts of goodies. It’s billed as a lip treatment rather than a lipstick or gloss and it’s lightweight and glossy without that annoying stickiness.

The colour intensity surprised me. The raspberry shade is only gorgeous. A rich pinkish-red berry colour, just perfect for autumn! And it builds; you can glide on a smidgeon for that just-bitten look or you can lash it on for full-on colour.

It lasts, too. I applied mine on the commute to work and by lunchtime, despite my morning coffees, it’s still there. A little lighter, but still looking good. Definitely my new favourite lippy. Hurrah!

Photo credit: My work-friend, Bonnie!
*Post title: From Rabbie Burns, 'Auld Lang Syne'

Around the world, around the world*

They say every cloud has a silver lining, and one of the few upsides to these stormy recessionary times is probably the emergence of some great cheap eats around the city. Sushi is having a moment and we've seen a selection of good value early-bird deals on the table, too. But the burrito is undergoing a particular renaissance with Burritos & Blues, Pablo Picante and Boojum springing up in what seems like the blink of an eye.

Last night, on the recommendation of Bob from The Gutter Bookshop, an excellent independent bookshop in Temple Bar, we headed to Boojum after a poetry reading.

It’s located on the ostentatiously named Italian Quarter, which used to be just a handful of Italian restaurants on the Millennium Walkway, just off the quays beside Millennium bridge. It's much more exciting than that now, though.

For starters, Boojum is a no-frills, simple sort of joint serving simple, Mexican food. Having never been to Mexico, I can’t vouch for its authenticity but I can give it a hearty big thumbs-up on the taste. I had the burrito with, well, everything: shredded beef, rice, black beans, salsa verde, sour cream, guacamole and jalapenos, and a frozen margarita on the side. They had a nice selection of Mexican beers, too. The margarita was probably just a little too sweet for me (not that it would stop me ordering again) but the burrito was, in a word, awesome. Warm, weighty and crammed full of flavours and textures, it was a piquant party in my mouth.

Since I’m new to this blogging lark I didn’t have my camera on me but those babies were probably too big to fit in a photo, anyway.

Replete and content, we wandered a couple of doors up to one of the Italian eateries for a nice glass of wine. Unfortunately my usual trick of ordering the second cheapest wine on the menu backfired this time as we were warned this was “a bad wine, too soft, like a rose”. We wondered why they still had this bad wine on their menu, but went with the next choice up (€6 a glass, still not bad), which was lovely. With my renowned memory and attention to detail I can tell you that the wine was…um…red.

We rounded off the evening by stopping at Amir’s Delights, which we’d just stumbled on but was a real treat -- a Moorish café complete with hookah pipes, multi-coloured pottery, cushions, benches and ornate little tables. We had the fresh mint tea with pine-nuts, served in a silver pot, and a couple of the teeny tiny sweetmeats – it would’ve been rude not to, really…

Post title: Daft Punk, 'Around the world'

05 October 2010

Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)*

I touched on my love of October in my last post. I could ramble on about the quality of light and the falling leaves and they do play their part in my autumnal love affair. But predominantly, if I’m honest, it’s the shopping.

The shops and blogs and magazines are full of beautiful, wearable, covetable items and though I probably say it every year, this season it seems like there’s more to lust after than ever before. Rich, deep red lipstick (hello, Tom Ford), cosy knitwear, ladylike handbags and snug knee-high boots…

It’s such a pity that I chopped up my credit card before I got my hands on those lovelies.

But the jewel in the crown of these beautiful new season offerings just has to be the winter coat. And that is one purchase I can most certainly justify, seeing as my old one is threadbare in one arm and the lining is hanging in ribbons.

Imagine my delight when I found this woollen camel beauty on the high street. I tried it on and immediately fell for everything about it. The colour, the fit and both arms with thread in all the right places.   

But here’s the rub. This coat, on the Monsoon website, is priced at £160 pounds sterling. The exact same coat, in Monsoon on Dublin’s Grafton Street, cost me a whopping €250 of my hard-earned euro money.

I’ve never had much of a head for sums, but even I know that’s not right.
It's true what they say: love hurts.

Picture credit: Ada coat, Monsoon.co.uk website

*Post Title:  Buzzcocks, 'Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)'
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