Monday, 20 February 2012

Vintage Wedding Fayre Review: The Vale Hotel, South Wales

Hey everyone! On Sunday 19th Feb I attended a Vintage Wedding Fayre which was held at the Vale Resort in Hensol, Nr Cardiff. I became an undercover bride-to-be for the day for two reasons: Firstly, to find inspiration for new headpieces and accessories, and secondly because I have always wanted to go to a wedding fayre as I didn't have the opportunity to go to any in preparation for my own wedding because we had just 6 weeks to plan it... but thats another story!!

The Vale Resort is a Hotel and Spa that is set in the beautiful Welsh Countryside on the outskirts of Cardiff. The Hotel offers 4* accomodation, with Spa and Golf facilities also available (please click on the link to see their website for more information). I didnt get married here myself, but I was very impressed with the overall professional appearance of the Hotel and Grounds as a possible Wedding Venue.

1940s inspired singing trio The Siren Sisters

The mood was immediately set before entering the events room with the sound of the 40s projecting through the corridor. On closer inspection, I discovered that this delightful sound was created by singing group The Siren Sisters, who are a 1940s inspired trio with "distinctive voices and classic fashion style". They are Welsh born and bred, and are available to book for your own wedding day. If you follow the link to their website above, you will be able to view a video of them in full swing, and personally I thought that they were AMAZING. They also have a live band, so they would fit into any part of your special day, whether its the Ceremony, Reception or Evening Party. Their website is definately worth a look!

There were so many stalls within the events hall promoting a wide variety of products, ranging from photographers, invitations, room decor, floristry, jewellery, cakes etc. etc. - far too many to review, so I am just going to talk about the ones that I was the most impressed with.

Icicle Tricycle - Traditional Ice Creams Made in Wales

The first mention goes out to "Icicle Tricycle", which is an old-fashioned ice-cream tricycle available to hire for all occasions. It comes complete with an operator dressed in traditional outfit to serve your guests a delicious choice of flavours. This family business is run by a very friendly man called Dave, who informed me that you can choose up to 6 of the 7 flavours available for your guests (but you have to be 18 or over to have the rum and raisin!), and a variety of different cones that vary in price. We were given a little cone of vanilla ice cream that was the best I have ever tasted, it was just so creamy. The ice cream is supplied by the hapus ice cream company, which is based in Machen, South Wales. The good news for everyone that wont be holding/attending a function, is that you can still enjoy some of these delicious ice creams by popping into the hapus ice cream parlour (opening times and directions for which can be found on their website).

Love Peace and Cupcake

Moving onto cakes. I feel a little bit guilty about this one because (under false pretences) I spent a while chatting to the lady that owns this company, and was so impressed that I feel a special mention is deserved here. Love Peace and Cupcake is run by a very friendly, professional lady called Debra Edwards. Not only are her cupcakes delicious and sooo pretty, but you can tell that she is very passionate about her business and her love of baking, and that she will lose life and limb to ensure that she delivers only the best quality product and overall service for you on your special day. She is based in Penarth, South Wales, and all of her cakes are made fresh to order. She comes highly recommended from me, so please please check out her website, as she makes cakes for all occasions.

And last but by no means least, Maria Farelly Photography. OMG! Her work is incredible. It is not worth scrimping when it comes to your wedding photographer as, personally, I believe that your phototgraphs and the rings are all that you have to show for the expense after the big day is over. It made me so sad when I saw her pictures, because I just wished that I had found her for my wedding as my own wedding photos were a bit of a dissappointment to me. Maria has a unique style of photography that just seems to effortlessly capture all of the glamour of your big day. Her photographs have a very powerful, yet natural earthy feel to them, making her the ideal photographer for a vintage style wedding. She also does engagement photo-shoots and won the Best Wedding Photographer award at the 2011 Welsh National Wedding Awards.

A sample of Maria's work and her award - picture taken by Maria farrelly and 'borrowed' from her blog  by me :-)
And that just about sums it up really. It was a great day, and I have some really great ideas... so I am now busy designing and creating some new headpieces that will hopefully be listed for sale in my eBay store soon.

Friday, 17 February 2012

FAKE OPI Nail Lacquer Alert - Sad Times :-(

OK, back in December I purchased an OPI mini set when I attended the Clothes Show Live in Birmingham. I was so impressed with these little beauties that I decided to get me some more!! One late night eBay browsing session later and I was the proud buyer of 3 more pretty colours at a super bargainous price (£2.25 per bottle plus p&p) - alarm bells should have been ringing there and then, but I am sure that my tiredness was to blame for the classic purchasing errors that I made.

OPI Fakeries

The only upside to my products was the fast shipping - for that this seller gets 5 stars. But other than this all I felt was COMPLETE DISAPPOINTMENT :-( Frown. Frown. Frown.

Firstly, the smell of the product. Honestly, all I can say is that any real nail polish would not give you such a headache after the slightest sniff. Seriously, inhaling the fumes of these products just on opening the bottle gave me pains behind my eyes. Then, a test of one colour determined for me that these were nothing but counterfeit as the consistency was alot thinner than real OPI nail polish, and the colour seemed streaky with no full coverage. You would probably find better quality product in a child's nail polish set.

On closer inspection, and in comparison to my genuine OPI minis, none of the counterfeit bottles had a serial number or product shade evident, and the printing on the front of the bottle appeared poor in quality. Also, the shape of the bottles differed slightly (they seemed a more harsh and less rounded shape, and again, of poor quality). And the final indicator was the bottle lid/wand as they were both very flimsy and lightweight. The black bottle top was made of a much less quality plastic that differed in texture and felt alot less robust than the real thing.

Then, just to add insult to injury, I checked the product listing - properly this time though. The shades I purchased were described as 'Brown Bronze', 'Pink Pearlescent' and simply 'Pink' - no I Think Pink or Pink-a-Doodles for me, though the seller does cover this technicality with the declaration that

These are supplied to me without colour labels, so I don't know any of the colour names.

Hmm... A little dodgy don't cha think??!!

I immediately contacted the seller, who asked me to open a dispute through eBay in order to receive a refund. She claimed that she would have to take this matter up with her supplier, and had had no previous complaints, but I alerted her to the fact that she had received neutral feedback for the selling of these items to buyers who had also doubted their authenticity. A point to note is that this seller also has other beauty products listed for sale that many buyers have left neutral/negative feedback for because they received counterfeit products - although obviously I cannot personally comment on these as I have only ever purchased the OPI minis from her.


I got in touch with OPI via their website to inform them that there are counterfeit products being sold on eBay, and the reply I received via email was that OPI are already working in conjunction with eBay to prevent the current unlicensed selling of their products,  which would lead me to believe that OPI is not the supplier of the seller I purchased my OPIs from on eBay?!

I also alerted eBay that this seller is listing counterfeit items, but have had no response from them and they are continuing to allow her to sell a small range of OPI and Benefit products. So my advice to you girls would be AVOID AVOID AVOID. It is worth paying the full price at a reputable store so that you can be confident that what you are purchasing is the real thing. My main concern would be that, especially in this experience, you just never know if the ingredients used to produce counterfeit goods are safe or harmful. 

Remember... Buy cheap, buy twice!! 

And for the record, the eBay sellers id is princess-glitzy and this is the link to her shop

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Product Rave!! John Frieda Full Repair Shampoo, Conditioner & Perfect Ends Deep Infusion Review

John Frieda Full Repair Haircare Products

My hair has suffered its fair share of damage caused by heated styling appliances and colour treatments over the last few years, leaving the ends of my hair very dry, brittle and prone to snapping. Recently, I have started making a conscious effort to take more care of my hair, especially after the birth of my little girl when my hair started to fall out (eek!) due to hormonal changes that naturally occur a few months after giving birth. You may now have the image of a balding chicken with frazzled hairs poking out here and there in your mind, but I can assure you my hair is not that bad!

I started using John Frieda's Full Repair Range after receiving 4 products - namely the Shampoo, Conditioner, Perfect Ends Deep Infusion and Protecting Root Lift Foam - in the post to review as a Cosmopolitan VIP Tester, which I have been for quite some time now. For those of you who don't know, subscribers to Cosmopolitan Magazine can apply to become a VIP tester via their website, and they then send you various new products to test for a designated period of time before you then complete an anonymous questionnaire rating the product/s and return this back to them. I have tested a variety of products in this way, but these John Frieda Products are so good that I decided I would share my thoughts with you.

The Shampoo is described as being a "Bodifying formula, with Inca Inchi Oil rich in omega-3, repairs the look and feel of overstyled hair as it weightlessly restores bounce for full, flowing styles. Detangles strands, reducing the risk of breaking and snagging when combing or brushing. SAFE FOR COLOUR-TREATED AND CHEMICALLY-TREATED HAIR". I found that just a small amount of the product lathers well, and rinses out easily. It has a really nice, lightly perfumed scent, and this fragrance stays on the hair after blowdrying.

The Conditioner is described as a "Bodifying formula, with Inca Inchi Oil rich in omega-3, repairs the look and feel of overstyled hair for full, flowing styles. smoothes and detangles strands, reducing the risk of breaking and snagging when combing or brushing. SAFE FOR COLOUR-TREATED AND CHEMICALLY-TREATED HAIR". This product has a more subtle version of the same lightly perfumed fragrance as the Shampoo. It can be smoothed through wet hair and rinsed immediately, or left on for 2-3 minutes for more 'intense repair', which is how I tend to use it every time i condition my hair due to the damaged ends.

I then towel-dry my hair before applying some of the Perfect Ends Deep Infusion Product. This has the consistency of a serum, and is designed to 'Silken and Protect'. The directions advise you to use this product sparingly, and I tend to use half a pump on my hair, which is quite long - anymore than this and my hair tends to look more greasy than silky. I did find that brushing my wet hair was alot easier after using the three products, and that the amount of hair that I was losing had significantly decreased :-) No more baldy chicken look for me!!

Healthier Shiny Hair!!
Close-up of improved ends :-)

Once my hair is blowdried and styled, the overall improved effect from the three products combined is very noticable. The split ends are less evident and appear 'sealed', giving my hair a much more healthy look. It is also more shiny, and I like the way that my hair distinctly smells of the product even after heated straighteners have been applied, as I find that the fragrance in many other products that I have tried dont always stay after I have used heated styling appliances. This range is also very affordable, as the shampoo and conditioner retail at £5.69 and the Perfect Ends deep Infusion at £6.99 - but have a 3for2 offer on these products at the moment - so you pick them up for even more of a bargain!!
The only downside I seem to find is the difficulty in opening the Shampoo and Conditioner bottles, and I end up having to bang them against the taps to get them open - but maybe I am the only one with this problem?!

As you will notice, I havent included any review of the Protecting Root Lift Foam product. This is because I havent used this product yet.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Exfoliating Cleanser Review

I suppose I should start by saying that, overall, I have generally clear skin that is normal/dry. The only problematic areas that I have are blocked pores on my nose and chin, and this has been the case since I was about fifteen years old. Over the years I have tried various methods and beauty products to try and win the battle against the horrible blackheads, but they just don't seem to want to budge!! Products in the good old days such as Oxy 10 and Clearasil teemed with facial saunas (a posh way of referring to holding your face above a bowl of boiling hot water with a towel over your head to keep the steam in) helped a little, but never seemed to have an obvious, and more importantly long-lasting, effect. 

In the years since, I have used a wide variety of products such as the tea tree face sauna, witchazel, Clinique 7 day scrub, Aapri, Clinique three step skincare... The list is endless!!

Recently, I have become somewhat of a Youtube addict, and a few of my favourite beauty gurus have been raving about Aveeno skincare products - 'great products with a great price' - and so when I came across the Positively Radiant Daily Exfoliating Cleanser recently in Boots priced at £5.99 for 150ml,  I decided to give it a go in the hope that I too would achieve the same great results for a minimal cost. 

The Positively Radiant Daily Exfoliating Cleanser contains "skin-brightening naturally active Soy and smooth microbeads that gently exfoliate whilst cleansing. Skin is left feeling soft, smooth and even. Will not clog pores. Suitable for sensitive skin"

The Aveeno daily exfoliating cleanser contains very small particles that are hardly noticable when your massaging the product onto damp facial skin. This initially led me to believe that the product wasn't really having any effect (as I am used to using much more abrasive exfoliating scrubs), but once rinsed off with warm water my skin was immediately clearer - the blackheads weren't eliminated, but they were much less visible.

As the product is described as "Gentle enough for everyday use", I decided to encorporate it into my morning daily skincare routine. On day two of use my skin still had a much clearer appearance than it had before I started using the product, but it had also started to feel tight and drier than it had the day before. Immediately after washing, my skin was red and this took a little while to subside. The area around my nose and the corners of my mouth were very dry and the skin was visibly flaking. I have to say that I was a little disappointed in this, as the product is described as being suitable for sensitive skin and gentle enough for daily use, which was obviously not the case for me.

In summary, the product has a subtle medicated scent to it that is not necessarily the nicest smell ever, but it is not a horrible, overpowering, make-you-cough-until-you-vomit smell either. For me, it didn't do exactly what it claimed as it was not suitable for daily use as it dried my skin out too much, and didn't leave it soft, smooth and even as promised (even when followed by a good hydrating moisturiser). I personally wouldn't rush out to purchase this product again, but I wouldn't advise anyone not to go and buy it as for the price I don't feel that I have wasted my money, and I will probably just resort to using it two or three times a week instead.