What to Buy on Your Next US Trip

 

US Beauty shopping

I’ve shared my New York wishlist on the blog, so most of the items featured in this post shouldn’t come as a big surprise. I’m excited to share with you what I decided to take home as well as some of my favourite stores in case you might have an upcoming trip to the US or a willing mule. I know I did brig home quite a few things, but I want to disclaim that I had been saving for a while and that it also was my birthday so I had quite a bit of birthday money to splurge on myself as well.

Reading Material

With so many books and magazines to choose from and at such better rates than here in South Africa, I really struggled to limit myself. I picked up a copy of Veranda, a beautiful home decor magazine as well as two books by Nichole Robertson, namely Paris in Color and New York in Color, in honour of the last two places I visted. Both are absolutely beautiful and were a steal on Amazon. I’ve also previously ordered (via my travelling husband) the Elements of Style by Erin Gates and more recently It’s Beautiful Here by Megan Morton.

Fashion

I didn’t pick up as many clothing pieces as I expected, as the quality of Old Navy clothing was slightly disappointing. Although there definitely were a few items I could easily have taken home in Anthropologie and Sezane, I ended up only purchasing a silk shirt in Zara with the perfect pocket details. I also eyed up a few shoes in Sezane and Everlane, but struggled to part with that much money for something I literally walk all over.

During our strolls in Soho I found a beautiful slim gold ring by designer Alexandra Beth. The area was filled with pop-ups and shops stocking beautiful designs by locals and they aren’t as expensive as you might think. I’d highly recommend you keep an eye out if you have something special in mind.

Beauty

I think this has to be my favourite category as I found so many items were so much more affordable. Of course you could go the luxury beauty route, with brands like Drunk Elephant, Hourglass, Charlotte Tilbury and many more available. Most of my choices were decidedly more budget friendly though.

Sephora was great, but overwhelming and overcrowded. The sales lady also wasn’t much help when I wanted to test out the IT Cosmetics CC cream (sadly the lightest shade is too light and the following too dark on me). It definitely is great if you know what you are looking for, but not the best for browsing.

In Target though, I found what I was looking for. I really regret not picking up the mini Pixi Glow Tonic, but did take home the Milani Rosa Romantica blush which is a great dupe for the Hourglass blushers and the beautiful Kristin Ess The Signature Shampoo. Compared to my usual shampoo, it feels thinner yet no less foamy. It doesn’t make a significant difference in how clean my hair looks, but man does it smell good. The best way to describe the scent would be like a subtle unisex aftershave with the tiniest hint of floral.

Next up was the ELF store, where I replaced my eyeliner brush (for my brows) for only $3 and this beautiful No Budge Shadow Stick in Bronze Metal. Unfortunately though the colour is a little misleading as the shimmer is a warm copper, but the base colour is a cooler grey. This becomes obvious once I blend, so it only really works as a very full-on shadow look with the edges blended. I like the formula though, so if you aren’t looking for a warm shade this would be perfect.

I spent quite some time in the Deciem store as well, where I browsed The Ordinary shelves. In stark contrast to Sephora, the busy sales lady was more than happy to help me test and explain the differences in products. I left with Salicylic Acid (which has been great on spots), 1% Retinol in Squaline and Hyaluronic Acid. Each of these products has found a special spot in my beauty routine, but I’m already planning on ordering a few back-ups of the HA. Now that I know my skin can handle the retinol, I’m also keen to try a stronger dosage and perhaps give the Peeling Solution a go.

Lastly I made my way to the pink heaven that is Glossier. Be warned that the small showroom can get packed and that there might be a line outside if you arrive at an unfortunate time. Much to my husband’s dismay I tested several products before settling on only taking home the Milky Jelly Cleanser. I wouldn’t say it is worth the trek and perhaps if you have medium-oily skin this would be better suited for you. Personally I like the smell and it does make my skin feel clean, but I’ve just realised that I prefer creamier cleansers.

Milani blush and ELF eyeshadow stick

Snacks

I can now safely say that South-Africans really don’t have it bad when it comes to chocolate choice. In the US most candies are either peanut butter based or made by Herseys. The latter of which we tasted and gladly parted with soon thereafter. Our tried-and-tested favourites includes Yorkies (mint patties), Reese’s Pieces (imagine peanut butter M&Ms) and all the M&M flavours (excluding Birthday cake). We tried Red Vines but found them slightly disappointing, probably due to all the hype.

Home

Whilst I could have easily decorated a whole townhouse whilst there, both my luggage restrictions and credit card limit weighed heavy on me. So in the end I only took home this beautiful agate coaster from Anthropologie (which can only be described as Poetry on steroids.) I’ve long lusted after the agate book ends, but after seeing them in real life I realised that they were too small to create the impact I expected them to give. I also spotted loads of smaller items that I could have easily taken home with me in CB2, West Elm and Sezane.

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My US Shopping List

My US Shopping list

I’m incredibly lucky and excited to be heading to New York in a week’s time for my birthday! As a surprise to no one, I’m definitely setting aside some time for shopping. Between shopping for my home and hauling beauty products I also hope to find some time to squeeze myself into some Old Navy jeans- this is the land of fast-food after all! So fingers crossed I find something that fits.

If you’re heading to US any time soon or can get your hands on a willing and able mule, you might consider adding some of these to your list. I’m hoping that by listing everything I won’t go overboard or forget to check something when overwhelmed on that side. If there is anything you think I’ll regret not getting, please holler at me in the comments below.

Also as a little disclaimer, I am a fairly frugal shopper and likely won’t be taking all of the below home with me but most of these do warrant a closer look and it is my birthday after all…

Skincare

I’ll start with skincare as that definitely makes up the bulk of things I’d like to take home. I’m trying to focus on items that aren’t available in SA, or at least not easily available. My skin is on the sensitive side and can sometimes be dry, but I’d like to play around with some acids as it is something I’ve never really explored and am really excited by. So the below is my starting point when staring down the aisles in Sephora.

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser – I’m in New York, I can’t not go! To be honest I’m not that excited by most of their products. It feels like there are often cheaper dupes out there (hello Essence’s brow gel!) or slightly more expensive items that outperform them. Their cleanser seems to be the exception to the above as it sounds like the perfect second cleanse and possibly a dupe for the Oskia Renaissance.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid – You can’t really go wrong with a HA, it is great for all skin types and at this amazing price point I’ll definitely stock up.

The Ordinary Retinoid – I’m so excited to try this and experience the results for myself. Honestly I don’t know how my skin will react, so I’ll likely get a fairly low dose.

The Ordinary Salicilic Acid – This seems to be the acid most frequently recommended for people with sensitive skin or rosacea, so without a doubt this will end up in my shopping basket.

Pixi Glow Tonic – I’m a little on the fence as to whether I should get this, but it is an iconic acid toner and I’m thinking that this would be a good all-rounder to graduate to when my skin has acclimatised to the salicilic.

Summer Friday’s Jet Lag Mask – I’m basically being sucked into all the blogger hype on this item, but as I mentioned my skin is quite dry and could do with some extra help on the plane.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Intense Hydration – This is a straight-up moisturiser and I suspect will be perfect for fighting dehydration from travel and winter. The Dr Jart Ceramidin cream is also a contender, but I think price wise I’ll likely favour this one.

Makeup

I’m very minimal when it comes to my makeup, as I do it in about 5 minutes 6 out of 7 days a week (the 7th day I don’t wear makeup…shhh!) So my intended purchases are a little boring, but I’m toying with the idea of a liquid or cream highlighter like the RMS one or the Cover FX Glow Drops. I’ll see how my budget fares on the trip and swatch both in store.

IT Cosmetics CC Cream Your Skin But Better – Longest name ever, but a firm favourite amongst beauty bloggers all around. The description sounds right up my alley – a dewy, moisturising foundation. It sounds a lot like my all-time fave, but sadly discontinued Clinique Moisture Surge Foundation. I’ll definitely see whether I can find myself a good colour match in store as their shade variety isn’t great. My bet is on fair though!
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders – Fun fact, I’ve never bought a cheek colour! All mine have been gifts or gifts with purchase. I might have to change that for this blush in Mood Exposure. I’ll definitely swatch it in store first and will likely pick up one of the super cute mini versions as I’ve never finished a full-sized cheek product and it leaves more room in my budget. Win-win!

Sephora Lash Tash To Go Set – I’m nearing the end of my mascara’s life and am trying to decide whether to purchase something more affordable or splurge on this great set. If you’re feeling flush, this is a great way to get testers for some of the most popular mascaras and a voucher to purchase a full size of your favourite all at no extra cost to you (depending on which you choose it could be a minimal amount.) How amazing does that sound?

Fashion

I don’t really have a lot on this list as these items are obviously seasonable, but I do have a few things that are either part of permanent collections or things of which there are always great variations in store.

  • Sezane Boyfriend Silk Shirt – I was seriously gutted when I couldn’t visit their store in Paris earlier this year, so will definitely head to their NY location as soon as possible this time. With more time to spare, I hope to finally check out their silk shirts among other things. Their new collection also launches on the 2nd of May, so hopefully there will be a lot to shop.
  • Everlane – I’m cheating here, as there is nothing in particular that jumped out at me but I definitely want to check out what they have in store. I love their simple aesthetic and have a serious crush on their Modern Loafers and their Boss Boot.
  • The Daily Edited Mini Black Cross Body Bag – They had me at monogrammed leather items. Need I say more? Well this bag might be a good dupe for the Gucci Soho Disco I’ve been dreaming of and they have a great colour selection.
  • Old Navy Jeans – I’ve only heard good things about their jeans and as I am on the hunt for a mid to dark tone high-waisted jean I think it can’t hurt to look. Plus at about 30 dollars a pop it also won’t hurt my bank account!

Home

Finally I’ll also be bringing home a few smaller things for my home. Trying to steer clear of breakables is going to be challenge! I mean just look at Anthropologie’s mugs…

  • West Elm Agate Bookends – I’ve wanted agate bookends for almost as long as I’ve wanted a massive bookcase. I think these would look wonderful in mine and also isn’t as pricey as others I’ve seen in SA (from R800 and up!). I will definitely be taking a closer look in store.
  • Anthropologie Door Handles – I’m hoping that one day soon we’ll get new bedside tables and then I can switch out the drawer handles with these pretties. These hex ones look good online, but I’ll see what jumps out at me in store. Maybe these will be on sale? A girl can dream!
  • Anthropologie Coaster – They do some pretty amazing coasters and you can’t really go wrong with these. Poetry also had some a while ago and I so regret not buying some.
  • Target and CB2 get honourable mentions as I’m sure I’ll find a few things I love in store.

Not included above are all the American sweets I’ll bring back with me, if they survive the journey! We’re also hauling home a DJ Roomba, or a more cost-effective alternative, to help us fight the good fight against all the cat crystals. So much for maintaining the image of glitz and glam.

I’d love to hear what you’d bring back in the comments below.

 

 

 

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Christmas Gift Guide for Him

Mens gift ideasI mentioned in my previous gift guide that I find buying gifts for men incredibly hard, which does not explain my delay in publishing this post, but perhaps makes you feel slightly less alone? Either way, with four days to go to Christmas you might find this gift guide for men helpful when it comes to shopping the beloved men in your life.

Comfies

In my experience, new clothing rarely excites men as it does women. So if you’re considering a cloth-based gift, might I steer you in the direction of lounge wear. So far this has gone down a treat with both my husband and brother. Things like slippers, stretchy pants and robes aren’t necessities but they sure make life that much more enjoyable! These H&M pants (in a different colour) are a firm favourite in our household and these slippers look so cute.

Tech & Accessories

This might possibly be the most frequently requested gift category for men. Ranging from techy watches to the latest phone gadgets, there is sure to be something tech related on their Christmas wish. Whether it comes in under budget is a completely different question though!

If you recently won the lotto, I’m sure the VR Playstation will score you extra brownie points that might carry you to the next gifting opportunity. Quality over-ear headphones is another favourite, that can easily be scaled to suit your budget. Noise cancelling seems to the next big things, with the price increasing if you choose to go with a wireless option. Both Sennheiser and Sony make good options, but these Bose ones are more common.

Leather tech covers and laptop bags are also often welcome gifts and will be a treat for both your eyes, especially if there is a tendency to have these lying around. My husband has a leather iPad pro cover (similar to this) with storage for the iPen, which would have made the perfect gift if he didn’t already own it. We don’t spend that much on Christmas gifts, so this leather bag is out of the question, but it sure is beautiful and would make a great gift.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Thank goodness the digital age makes gifting for men a little simpler! With online gaming platforms like Steam it is easy to purchase new games (often on special) or things like game time for their favourite game. Game time can also be purchased for gaming consoles, so best find out exactly what he has before whipping out the credit card.

If so inclined, a carefully selected board game can also result in hours of fun lasting well into the future! Personally we like CarcassonneCodenames (much less dramatic) and Dungeons and Dragons. Raru has a pretty impressive selection online, so time to start browsing!

Tools

If you’re buying for the handyman, chances are there is something that can be added to his tool kit! Whether they’re missing something basic or require something specific for a future project, scanning their tool box might soon reveal a gift idea. Multi-tools are popular for a reason, but this year my husband requested a more specialised laptop screwdriver set. This is perfect for the guy who likes to tinker with his tech, but an electric screwdriver set could also be a nice gift – this I can personally attest to!

Books

For some reason it seems like e-books tend to be more popular with men, but that doesn’t mean that the category has to be foregone when purchasing gifts for men. Whether you settle on a hard copy or electronic version, we’re sure there is something to suit every man’s interests.

Books my husband recently read and loved:

Travel Accessories

If you’re buying for a frequent traveller, anything that can make travelling more comfortable and relaxing would be much appreciated. I can personally attest to how wonderful packing travel cubes are, so if you’re buying for a frequent traveller this is certainly where I’d start. Noise cancelling headphones are also high on the list for most travellers, with other accessories like a neck pillow being slightly more personal choices. If you are aware of an upcoming trip, then buying a travel guide for that specific destination could also be a lovely personal touch. Although guide books might be dying out, these DK Pocket Map & Guides are my favourite. As they are small and have a handy map, they make great travel companions when WiFi isn’t readily available.

Old Favourites

If you still find yourself stuck or simply don’t know the person you’re gifting to that well, you can rarely go wrong with a good tipple, roast or related paraphernalia. My husband likes a good whiskey but I’m completely lost when it comes to buying mid-ranged whiskeys. I’ve found buying the most expensive one you can afford with the word “Grant” in the title is a good way to ensure you’re getting the best value for money. Other things like a beautiful glass whiskey decanter or even some freshly roasted beans would also always be welcome. I like the idea of purchasing some beans from your favourite local place. We love both Boston Coffee and Alchemy Coffee Roasters. Special coffee mugs are also always welcome, especially when bought in pairs.

On the other end of the spectrum, fragrances are incredibly personal. So if you find yourself in a position where you know the person well enough to gift this, receiving a back-up of a favourite is always a lovely sentiment.

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My Top 10 Home Stores in Cape Town

20160520_162359_1471208149368So as you guys might know, Ryno and I have been in our first home for just over a year now. And I have to admit, I love decorating it but am nowhere near done! Whilst we don’t own everything that we want yet, we have a pretty good idea of where to find it when our ship comes in. So I thought I’d share my favourite home stores where we get everything from the perfect white sheets to inspiration (and leave dreaming about winning the lottery).  So without further adieu, here are the top ten spots you just have to pop in to when dreaming up your perfect home.

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Wishlist & What I Have Been Loving

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By now you should know me as a very considerate shopper – I rarely make impulse buys – but sometimes I just feel overwhelmed with a whole sea of things I’d like to home. This happenned to me on a recent visit to H&M, where I felt overwhelmed with things I want. I know it is not realistic for me to want them as I don’t need most of it, but as a nice theme evolved I thought I might as well share my beautiful wishlist with you! These would also make nice gifts, which is something to consider with wedding season approaching.

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Gift Giving

DSC_1467I’m not trying to be pretentious, but I wanted to preface my gift guide with this disclaimer. Just because most of the items on the list are expensive, does not mean that these gifts are more desirable or valued. Gift guides should serve as inspiration and often cheaper alternatives are not available online, so please take each suggestion with a pinch of salt but also know that each gift I’ve chosen to feature has been carefully selected.

For me a personal gift means so much more than just rushing out to buy the latest fragrance! Don’t get me wrong, a favourite fragrance or one that you think someone will love is a great gift, it just isn’t the only great gift out there. A lot can be said for thought and presentation. For me the process of selecting the perfect gift for someone begins long before my first trip to the shops. Paying attention to obvious hints and also observing and noticing things that could simplify or make their lives more enjoyable.

Intention can also make a basic gift incredibly meaningful. Expressing your wishes for friends to enjoy a delicious truffle fillet at your favourite steakhouse when gifting them a meal voucher or explaining why you chose to gift someone plain white plates (when they had previously complained to you about their patterned ones) makes all the difference.

Finally and least important (but still making the cut), presentation! Nothing excites me as much as a beautifully wrapped present! If someone took the time to make their gift’s exterior appealing it always makes me incredibly excited about what is inside.

I’m so excited that I’ve already bought about half of my Christmas gifts and am still scouting the other half.

 

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Home Wishlist Round 2

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Today I thought I’d share with you my home wishlist. Our tiny house is slowly starting to look more like a home, with our entryway/hallway (basically our front door) coming on the blog soon! Although there are still a million and one things we need ranging from big purchases (like a proper couch) to smaller things for the kitchen, I’m mostly looking forward to the decorating part. It propably isn’t something we’ll be spending on soon, but I just view it as an opportunity to really think about what would be perfect. Right now I am loving the mix of modern and luxurious pieces. I struggle to balance the light and airy look with my love for more dramatic, darker pieces. I don’t want our home to feel too predictable, but still have a cohesive look that is distinctly us.

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Winter Style with Spree

SpreeStyleText

My winter closet is in desperate need of an overhaul. It is predominately dark and structured, but I’ve always veered towards classic pieces which sits kind of in the middle of masculine and feminine.

This season I hope to start introducing a few contrasting pieces, like this leather-inset coat from Spree. It has a great structure to it, but the faux leather collar adds a touch of edge and masculinity. I’ll contrast this with a pop of feminity in the form of a pleated shirt, peplum knit or even  pointed stilletos. In my opinion a basic pair of skinny blue jeans is the perfect foil for any statement piece and these from Next not only look great but they also fit the bill.

And who can resist a pair of suede over-the-knee boots? They can be very sexy but worn with a pair of black jean-leggings and an oversized knitted jacket it completes the perfect weekend look.

I am also a recent convert to gold hardware and love the how it adds a touch of luxe to any accessory yet remains understated. The messenger bag is perfect for weekend brunches and the tassle bag is perfect for toting around your weekday essentials. Now just for the final touch, the ultimate red lippie from Bourjois.

Shop these and other great winter essentials at Spree.co.za. I’ll be launching an exciting competition in partnership with Spree tomorrow, so you might want to save those items in your shopping basket before checkout to see what I have in store. Have a great Sunday and see you all tomorrow!

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Christmas Wishlist | For Him

mensgiftguide If you’re like me shopping for the men in your life might prove to be a tad more difficult than you’d care to admit. So this year I decided to reign in my fiancé to help me narrow down a gift list that will leave any man with a smile on his face. Unfortunately he proved that ‘boys toys’ usually exceed budget, so I added a few pocket friendly options which received his approval. Ranging from classic novels to the latest technological toys you’re sure to find something for the man that has everything!

  1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller from R375 (Kalahari.com)
  2. A selection of striped tees from R70 each (mrp.com)
  3. Fitbit Flex watch from R1199 (Superbalist.com)
  4. Leatherman Super Tool from R1658 (Kalahari.com)
  5. Humble & Mash Cased Braai Set from R499 (Yuppiechef.com)
  6. Leather Satchel from R1799 (Superbalist.com)
  7. Western Digital TV Live Hub from R2229 (Incredible.co.za)
  8. Powerstick+ from R349 (Superbalist.com)
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Christmas Wishlist | For Her

christmas 2014 shopping

 

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

This holiday season I am really enjoying the festive yet simple appeal of white and gold. Who am I kidding!? I’ve been enjoying it since last year. It is classic and elegant yet can also be playful and rendered in stripy form it is practically perfect. Throw in some black and it is as classic as it gets!

I wouldn’t mind being at the receiving end of a few of these gifts and the best part is that most of them are super budget friendly!

The beautiful earrings pictured in number two comes with a matching chain, how cute huh? And I’ve been eyeing a pair of lace Supergas for quite a while but the price kept my card tucked safely in my wallet, but for these Mr Price lace sneakers it will make a special appearance. I also desperately need a new beach towel as mine has sadly met too many chlorine speckles.

I’ve always wanted to own a Essie nailpolish and I think I’ve finally found the perfect one – the glitter chunks gets me every time!

Lastly, can we take a moment to discuss how cute these gold rimmed plates are? If you can’t imagine using them daily, at least get them for Christmas dinner. I think they might even make my favourite avo toast look fancy!

Have you made your Christmas wishlist yet?

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