Romantic Fragrances

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Valentine’s Day seems as good a reason as ever to celebrate some of my favourite (fruity) floral fragrances. There is just something about the warm weather and cheesy-romance of February that makes it seem a little more acceptable to love the feminine scents (although I wear them year round).

Whether you’re looking for a gift idea or, like me, just appreciate a little pink fragrance: here are my tried-and-tested favourites.

Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet

The Miss Dior Cherie fragrance was one of my favourite and first fragrances, but sadly it is now discontinued. Dior has however relaunched their Miss Dior fragrances and updated it in the process, with Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet feeling like the more sophisticated version of my early-20’s favourite. Gone are the caramel popcorn and strawberry notes and enter a more mature fruity – peony combination. My favourite part about this fragrance is how beautifully it wears! It might start out a little strong, but it fades beautifully and last exceptionally well.

Jo Malone’s Peony and Blush Suede

Similar to other Jo Malone fragrances, this delightful floral is both complex and simple at the same time. The opening notes of peony and apple are clean, bordering on powdery but the suede cuts through it just enough to prevent it from going into grandma territory. It’s a true floral with top notes of rose and peony, and in my opinion the more sophisticated version of DKNY’s Delicous Fresh Blossom.

Chloe Roses de Chloe

This perfume smells like a walk through a very fragrant rose garden and is what I wish my own would smell like. It’s a straight-up sweet floral scent with a touch of white musk and litchi. The Chloe Love Story Eau de Toilette is another firm favourite, that is slightly softer and sweeter than this.

The Body Shop Atlas Mountain Rose 

A great budget option, the Atlas Mountain Rose is another intense floral fragrance with just enough hits of citrus to keep it fresh. All I can wish for with this fragrance is that it would last longer on me.

Who says you can’t wear pink fragrances year round? There certainly are enough to try!

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Our Garage Makeover: Before | AD

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When we first moved into our 1980’s house my husband and I went with “quick wins” like replacing the green carpets and painting the rooms and trim throughout. This immediately made the home feel more us, but I feel like we haven’t made as much progress since. This is probably because the projects that are left are more time consuming and definitely not easy on the budget.

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So while most of the rooms in our house are at least liveable (though surely not completely done), the one space that truly lagged behind was our garage. We’d barely touched it and it was a horrible reminder of the peachy shades the previous home owner had used throughout the house.

Despite my husband’s dream of transforming it into his engineering man cave (and pretty home for our cars), the garage became a dumping ground for EVERYTHING (like the wall mounted heaters that the previous owner placed throughout the house). It also houses his windsurfing gear, our old paints collection (which we’ll cull) and some yet to be completed home upgrades.

When Prominent Paints approached me to work on a project to show you just how paint can transform a room, I knew the garage would be the perfect example. Al it really needs is some organisation, a deep clean and a lick of paint in colours that matched our home’s aesthetics.

Partnering with a local company like Prominent Paints was an easy decision. They have a good track record with over 35 years in the industry and a wide range of quality paint products to suit all our needs. Although we have reasonable experience and knowledge when it comes to painting furniture and walls, we needed to consult experts on how to approach the garage floor.  The staff at Prominent Paint’s Cape Gate centre were friendly and could recommend a suitable product for use on our garage floor.

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Although epoxy is a popular option because of its durability, we were keen to explore other options that wouldn’t be as time consuming without sacrificing the paint’s longevity. Our consultant, Wade, recommended a Prominent Paints product called Stoep Enamel that also provides a durable glossy surface similar to epoxy paints without the fuss. It comes in a variety of neutral shades and we chose a mid-tone grey. Wade also explained how we should go about cleaning the floors and the application process for this paint (will be explained in the next post).

So with our products on order, we’ve made a list of what needs to happen to completely transform our space:

  • Seal garage door with foam strips.
  • Sort through the garage content and make a trip to the dump site.
  • Defog the garage (a spider-free space is non-negotiable).
  • Move ladder hooks to the left-hand side of the garage (so that we can comfortably get to the driver side of the car).
  • Create hanging space for garden tools.
  • Paint walls glossy white.
  • Paint back door in grey enamel.
  • Replace sponge on both passenger and driver side of the wall.
  • Clean oil stains on garage floor.
  • Paint garage floor (two coats).
  • Indicate on wall where car needs to stop.

We were lucky in that, although the previous home owner had some questionable taste in paint colours (maybe just not to our tastes), she had some great storage solutions installed. Some of the old kitchen cabinets were moved into the garage (we just relocated it), there were a few wall hooks installed and the sponge on the walls has really saved our car doors in this narrow garage. All of these will definitely stay in some way, shape or form.

If you have been thinking of painting your garage floor, we’ll run you through the steps and show the end results as soon as it is completed.

I’m really looking forward to the end results of our makeover, as the garage is to us what the foyer is to guests – the first room you encounter as you enter the house. As that, it really should set the (right) tone!

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9 of the Best Pyjama Sets & Robes

Mr Price Palm Print Robe

I’d never given much thought to my nightwear, but after I spotted a ridiculously expensive summer robe (R850!) that I couldn’t stop thinking about (it was a black and white floral with neon pink pompoms), I decided to go on the hunt for a more affordable robe. I love my Mr Price palm print gown as it features the same colours as the gown of my dreams (not pictured) and didn’t break the bank.

Whilst on my search I also found some really lovely pyjama sets and robes that unfortunately are not in my budget, but definitely worth it if you are feeling spendy. Because you know, treat yo self!

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Perfect for throwing on during cooler mornings, I love wearing mine to bed with a warm cuppa and a good read on a Sunday morning.

Plain Sets

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In my opinion there are few things more classic and stylish than a matching set with contrasting piping. I’d like all three colour ways please! Best part, all are by local designers.

Printed Sets

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Though I love the aforementioned classic pieces,the pretty patterned sets are what first caught my attention. I’ll take the one of the right (and left) please. Unfortunately these were only available on ASOS’s website, but Superbalist stocks some of the brands. So maybe we’ll get lucky!

 

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3 Ways with Ice Cream

Vanilla Ice Cream

As summer gets into full swing, we’re entertaining more often and frequently invite friends over at the last minute. I’m always on the lookout for last-minute entertaining ideas that I can whip up with items already in pantry. Vanilla ice cream is our default, but serving ice cream and berries or chocolate sauce gets boring after a while.  As ice cream is somewhat of a summer staple, I thought it would be a good idea to share three of my favourite ways to serve the classic in a less predictable way.

Affogato

Affogato with biscotti

This simple Italian drink is the dessert we serve most often as it is so simple to recreate and we usually have some fresh coffee beans to recreate this with. Simply add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to a single or double shot espresso. We serve it with biscotti when we have (get my recipe here), but it is just as enjoyable served on its own.

It works best if you have an espresso machine that can create some crema, but moka pot coffee could also work. You probably won’t be able to achieve the necessary espresso strength with a french press.

Affogato with biscotti

 

Dom Pedro

Dom Pedro

Dom pedros are kinda like the dessert of cocktails, combining the best of both. I personally don’t like a traditional dom pedro with whiskey, but luckily things like Amaretto, Frangelico, Kahlua and Baileys also work well.

Simply blend two scoops of ice cream, 25 ml of chosen alcohol and 100 ml milk per serving. You might want to adjust this according to your taste and the strength of your alcohol (you might need more of somethings creamy like Baileys or Frangelico to detect the flavour). Serve with a sprinkle of cocoa.

Ice Cream Sandwich

Ice Cream Sandwich

I think out of all three options, this is the Chanel handbag of vanilla ice cream desserts. I just went with plain vanilla ice cream sandwiched between the two biscuits, but you could get very creative by sprinkling things on the side. It does however make it more complicated. The combination of a slightly chewy-buttery cookie with the melted ice cream is just as dreamy a combo as you’d imagine.

For this sandwich I used some of the ahhmazing chocolate chip cookies I made (recipe here), but you could use any other chocolate chip cookies you might have in your pantry. Things like Chips Ahoy and FOX would make great alternatives.

For my South African readers, I try to always buy vanilla ice cream that reads “ice cream” and steer clear of anything that says “frozen dessert”  as I am looking for something creamy and not watery. Although something fancy with detectable vanilla seeds would be the best, it isn’t something we usually spring for. Brands that create good vanilla ice cream at reasonable prices are Country Fresh, Ola and Woolworths.

Would love to know if you’re giving any of these a try!

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Christmas Decor

Christmas Tree star decoration

I must admit that it feels like Christmas crept up on us this year, and despite the fact that our tree has been up since the end of November (enthusiastic much!) I hadn’t really spread the cheer to anywhere else until recently.

This year I decided to try to use up a few of the half-finished rolls of gift wrap so our gifts are all slightly miss-matched metallics. When I saw this nude paper with gold spots from Mr Price I couldn’t resist. They really have some pretty gift wrapping options at the moment.

Besides having family members on our list, this year we also decided to do stocking filler type gifts for some of our closest friends. These biscotti biscuits are some of our personal favourites and destined for close friends. It is the thought that counts after all.

Sweet rose gold bells and a natural pine bouquet round out our minimalistic decor this time around.

Keep an eye on Instagram to see my Christmas table, which I can’t wait to decorate!

I hope you have a lovely Christmas and festive season with your loved ones.

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Christmas Gift Guide For Him

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Ugh! So if you still have some of the men left on your Christmas list, you can take some comfort in the fact that I know your pain. Whether it is because they always want things way out the Christmas budget (hello windsurfing gear!) or simply don’t get in the shops often enough to spot what they want, I’ve found that requests for wishlists from my brother and husband always go unanswered. So I sat my man down to help me create a gift guide – he simply yayed or nayed some of my ideas – that could hopefully help you get a special gift for your loved ones.

Bar Cart

If the man likes his tipple, this stylish copper cocktail shaker will leave everyone happy. This beautiful Grappa and decanter (looks so much more expensive than it is) will look equally beautiful on display.

You could also play it safe with a complete wine kit (including opener and stopper) or this copper wine rack.

If you’re looking for something for a couple, these special gold lined tumblers (design also available in other glasses) would make a great combined gift. Heck it might even work as a wedding gift!

Coffee Snob

There isn’t much you can give a coffee snob as they most likely already have all the necessary tools, but a cute cup and yummy beans are usually safe bets. Coffee dripping is the latest thing in speciality caffeine, and although the Chemex is the device of choice I also thought this more affordable option looks cute.

Nerdy

I think as a couple we’re uniquely qualified for this category of gift giving, as we play more board games than most (not a game of Monopoly in sight! and I’ve read all the LOTR books. Most men would jump over the moon if you give them a quad copter (not in my budget), but this fun Lego critter would look just as cool when on display in your office.

Boardgames are tricky as we usually try to avoid getting something our friends have (Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan are popular), but Galaxy Trucker is a little more off the radar and something people of all ages can enjoy. It can even be enjoyed after an evening of excessive drinking! For the ultimate nerdy gift though, the Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook is essential if they haven’t gotten into the game yet.

Clothes

The men in my lifey only buy clothes when they need it (as in when something can no longer be worn and needs to be replaced). Some of the best gifts I’ve given the men in my life are clothes that facilitate maximym comfort, like a super cosy sweater or some soft PJs. As long as you know their size and taste you can’t really go wrong. Do try to steer clear of boring underwear though and make sure that items can be returned if needed.

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If you’re still stumped for ideas, how about a cool print for his office or bachelor pad? I like this Star Wars one and this metallic one from Seven Swans. A pocket knife is always handy, and the original Swiss Army Knives can’t be beat. Basic tools like a drill bit set or Elm Key set are also always handy.

If you’re looking for something more personal, fragrance is always a good idea. This should definitely be reserved for the men you know very well as men are just as picky as us. This Hugo Boss Orange for Men is one of my personal favourites.

That is it from me! Happy shopping :)

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Christmas Gift Guide for Her

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My love language is definitely gifts! I really appreciate it when someone takes the time to select something for someone that they think they’ll like, which is something I do often as I love giving gifts. During Christmas however things can become a little crazy, so this gift guide should help you with some ideas and steer you in the right direction.

Beauty

It is definitely safer to stick to colour products as there will be no guessing shades of foundation, just simply whether the person will like a shade. Whether you’re buying for a makeup lover or someone that just appreciates a little bling, there really is something for everyone. This beautiful palette from LA Girl has been a hit, but if you’re looking for something high-end you really can’t go wrong with Chanel (think something like Chanel Boy lipstick). In the middle there are MAC classics like Syrup or Patisserie. I also really like the matte lipsticks from Wet ‘n Wild.

If you’re slightly apprehensive when it comes to makeup, then brushes are a really good alternative. Real Techniques do a great line available at all Clicks and some  Foschini stores, and there are also accessories like a brush cleaning glove which would be a safe bet for someone that has it all.

Fragrance is another good choice, but if you aren’t certain whether a person will like a scent stick to a smaller 30 ml. The Jo Malone fragrances are a good option as you can combine them with another one to make your own custom scent, so the recipient could possibly make it suit them by combining it with another scent. They also offer gorgeous candles and luxurious gift sets! My personal favourite fragrance is the Peony and Blush Suede, but with so many new holiday scents to choose from it could become tricky.

Home

H&M Home are seriously killing it in the home accessories department right now. I’d love any of their trivets, this or this beautiful cup and this alternative vase.

Another store to hit up would be @Home (this marble tray would be perfect for a cheese board) and Mr Price home (I want the entire Soho collection).

Accessories

Clothes can be hard to gift as you have to get the size and fit right, whereas accessories still fall into the same category but are so much easier to gift. I like giving (and receiving) jewellery that I think fits the person’s personality, but in general you can’t go wrong with quality like real silver or gold plated pieces with cubic zirconia (lets not pretend we’re giving Tiffany’s on an Accessorize budget!). Places like Lovisa, Colette and Accessorize all offer these type of pieces at varying price points. Favourites include these classic gold plated diamante studs, these ear crawlers and a classic tennis bracelet.

Handbags and purses are also good options, especially if you know things like whether the person prefers cross body, gold or silver hardware, etc. Aldo (Derogali pictured) is one of my favourite places to browse handbags but my realistic dream bag comes from Fossil. Forever New and Forever 21 also have beautiful bags.

Books

I have a Takelot book wish list that is about a mile long (desperately waiting for something to go on sale!) so I obviously think a book would make a great gift! If you know what genre the person likes, a fiction/non-fiction would be great. I personally prefer coffee table books ranging on topics like home decor, food and style. There literally is a book for every interest though, which makes it such a versatile gift.

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Typo usually has a wide selection of beautiful diaries and calendars that is equal parts pretty and functional. This diary and this nerdy calendar are some of my favourites, but there are even more in store.

Bath and shower products from Lush and The Body Shop are also always welcome. Think fun scrubs and holiday scents from The Body Shop (on 3 for 2 until Christmas!) or pink bubbles courtesy of Lush (seriously though, these bubble bars are so much better value for money than they look).

Lastly don’t forget about subscription services like magazines and flower delivery (seriously there are so many options right now – Blossom On,  All Things Bloom which delivers in beautiful boxes and Bouwer Flowers). This is truly the gift that keeps on giving!

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Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation and Concealer

Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation and Concealer

I’ve documented my struggles with finding the perfect foundation before (here), but after living with just a BB cream for about four months I started to feel the need for more coverage. So the hunt for the perfect foundation began all over again. For me that would be a medium coverage (but buildable) foundation that is glow inducing, lasts about 12 hours, is undetectable and comfortable even on my sensitive and dry skin. I’ve come to accept though that the PERFECT foundation most likely won’t fit within my budget, so some sacrifices would have to be made.

Clinique Beyond Perfecting Doe Foot Applicator

Enter the Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation and Concealer, which manages to cover all my flaws (dark circles included) without being detectable or irritating to my skin. The foundation delivers enough moisture to keep my skin feeling happy, but the finish is very natural and not as dewy as I would have liked. This is however easily rectified with a little bit of facial oil mixed in.

Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation and Concealer

I usually apply my foundation at around 07h00 in the morning and only take it off at 22h00 in the evening and this is where it beat all the previous contenders, as it looked even better after a few hours of wear. My cheeks usually have foundation for breakfast, but this manages to keep the rosy-ness (made-up words are the best!) at bay and only goes slightly patchy around my nose (nothing that my finger can’t touch up).

In terms of coverage, less definitely is more. I usually make around 3 to 5 small dots on my face with the doe foot applicator and then blend in with my Real Techniques Expert Face brush.  Then I go back in for concealing should I need to (usually a little bit around my eyes). I’ve found that the coverage is definitely buildable to full but then it takes a while to settle before it starts to look natural. It doesn’t crease like other concealers do around my eyes and also doesn’t feel dry.

With a wide shade range available and ticking so many boxes, I believe that this could be a favourite among many.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

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A friend of ours recently proclaimed that “Surely no-one has all the ingredients necessary for a cake at all times!” I kept quiet about the my stash of my favourite cake mix and answered with a resounding, “Yes, cake recipes usually require so much butter! It is rare that I’ll have a full stick of butter on hand.”

I didn’t lie, I often don’t have enough butter for a full recipe which is how this chocolate chip cookie recipe came about. My sweet tooth demanded some chocolatey-goodness so I took a recipe I’d been meaning to try for a while, made some adjustments (replacements and halving the recipe) and I won’t look back! I’ve made fairly good chocolate chip cookies before but everyone that tasted one of my latest creations has been demanding more of this version. It is the perfect balance of sweet, salt and crispy-ness with a gooey centre.

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups cake flour minus 2 table spoons
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 160 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup treacle sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 90 g dark chocolate slab, roughly chopped into chunks

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Method

  1. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  3. Mix in the dry ingredients with electric beater. Add the chocolate chips last.
  4. Cover the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for 4 – 24 hours.*
  5. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
  6. Roll the dough in your hand to make small balls approximately 3 cm in diameter and press then down slightly on a prepared baking tray (baking paper sprayed with Spray & Cook). I made two batches and the ones I didn’t press down were smaller, thicker and wasn’t as crispy.
  7. Bake biscuits for approximately 15 – 20 minutes.
  8. Let biscuits cool on a cooling rack before serving.

* I haven’t tested this yet, but apparently the longer you refrigerate the dough the better the results are.

Mine made about 11 cookies (It is possible that I ate more than one cookie’s weight in raw dough though)

 

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My favourite home decor trends

 

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Being a lover of all things classic, I typically find myself swooning at things like moulding, velvets and shaker styles when it comes to home interiors. Every now and again I do however find myself taking notice of newer trends, and following last year’s round up of my favourite trends I thought it would be a fun idea to see what tickles my fancy this time around.

Although I still love round mirrors, my love for indigo blues has waned and I now prefer a different shade of cerulean.

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