May 31, 2017

May in Books

This month I've read four books and a half, and I am really satisfied with the amount of time I spent reading.

The first book I want to talk about is Matilda. I went to see the musical earlier this year and soon after that I bought a copy of the book. 

I read Matilda when I was six or seven. It was my first proper novel, my first big kid book, and I loved it ever since. Re-reading it made me realise how similar I was to Matilda when I was that age. I shared her love for books and sometimes I felt like I was "a bit different than some of my friends", like I was older. My family was not so bad though, and I didn't have to pull pranks on them or my teachers to make things right.

I love Roald Dahl's writing and creativity and I think I will read some more of his books soon, probably starting with The Witches.

The other three books that I read were written by Arthur Conan Doyle. I have decided that I want to read all of Sherlock Holmes' stories, so this month I focused on The Sign of the Four, The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Valley of Fear. So far, the one I liked the most is The Valley of Fear, as I found its plot a bit more tangled and engaging than the others.

I will talk about the fifth book next month, as I haven't finished it yet, but I can already tell you that it is a very good one.

Book Challenge 2017:
Matilda: a book you loved as a child
The Sign of the Four: a book with an eccentric character
The Hound of the Baskervilles: a book with pictures
The Valley of Fear: a book that is a story within a story

Martina x

May 24, 2017

The Dior Trilogy, Part Three

Out of the various samples that the Dior lady gave me, the most interesting was definitely the combo of mascaras. 

I had already tried the Diorshow mascara in the past, because my mum used to have it and I always tested her makeup. I remember not being too impressed with it, but I was ready to give it a second chance. Plus, this time I had the opportunity to test it along with its primer, and as I had never used a lash primer before, it's safe to say I was curious.

The Diorshow mascara applied on its own makes the lashes longer and helps keeping them curlier, while keeping the look natural. It does not create a false lashes effect and does not make me go wow when I check myself in the mirror, but it's perfect for those days when I want a really natural look. I would call it a my-lashes-but-better kind of mascara. The downside that I noticed is the fact that it tends to wear out a lot during the day, with the result that in the evening you look at yourself in the mirror and wonder wether you'd even put mascara on that day. Obviously, this makes it easier to remove it, if you compare it to other mascaras, and that's a good thing.

The Diorshow Maximizer primer (which looks absolutely beautiful, I love the white packaging and white brush) helps the mascara last longer during the day and gives volume to the lashes. When you first apply it you can see a bit of white on your lashes, especially at the ends, where they are normally lighter and thinner. That shows the volumizing effect of it, I guess.  When I first opened it I hoped for a second that it would be fully white, but as I just said you can actually only see its colour on the ends of your lashes. I would love to try a full coverage white mascara one day.

All in all, I loved testing out these two products, but I don't think I'll buy the full version. If I did, I would probably just buy the primer, because it's supposed to help lashes grow stronger and because I would like to test it with other mascaras. Now that I think of it, I might save what's left of the sample and test it under some other mascaras sometimes soon.

Have you ever tried any Dior products? If so, what's your favourite?

Martina x

May 21, 2017

Unplanned Adventure in Brighton

Yesterday my boyfriend had to go to Gatwick airport, and I decided to go with him just to say goodbye. We were in a rush and while getting our train tickets Lorenzo accidentally clicked Brighton instead of Gatwick on the display, so we ended up with an extra ticket for Brighton that would expire that day. 

In that moment I decided to go to Brighton. I was not expecting to go on a day trip, so I only had the bare minimum in my bag, no snacks or water, and I was carrying a huge, heavy book, as I had planned to read on the train on my way back from the airport. The weather and the opportunity were too wonderful to pass though, so I decided to go anyway, and just have a chilled day by the sea.

As soon as I got to Brighton I visited Boots (I know, not the first place that would come to your mind), with the idea of buying a new mascara and a lip balm. After that, I walked down to the seaside and strolled in the sun for a while, looking at the small stands and shops that are on the beach.

For lunch I just had to go to Moksha, as I had been there last Summer and I remembered their blueberry pancakes like a dream. I ordered those along with a peppermint tea, and had a wonderful lunch on my own.

Then I visited the lanes, Waterstones (I got myself a book of poetry, you'll see more about it in a future post), a few shops (where I bought a dress and a top) and then walked down the seaside, all the way to the huts. I sat there to rest and read a few pages of my huge book, and then walked to the Pier, where I bought an Oreo milkshake.

I love how this pictured turned out, with that person standing there and staring at the colorful huts. 

Anyway, after the milkshake I decided to go back to London, as I needed to go to Sainsbury's and to pickup an Amazon order.

When I got home that evening every part of my body was aching, but it was so worth it. I was really happy with my unplanned adventure, happy that I had seen Brighton once more, happy for the weather and overall just happy. Having such an adventure on the day my boyfriend left made me feel less lonely, even though I wish I could have shared that day with him.

Did you go somewhere special recently?

Martina x

May 17, 2017

To Food or Not to Food

Lately I've been struggling on two opposite sides. One part of me doesn't want to put a limit to what (and how much, and how often) I eat in a day, the other half wants to get rid of the ever-growing belly fat (I tend to put on weight mainly in that area, and the result is that I look kind of pregnant all year round - sounds like life's way of making fun of me, since my biggest dream is to have a baby of my own).

During the day, I alternate moments where I tell myself that I can try to work out a bit and keep eating whatever I crave for, and others where I think I should just control myself a bit more, and stop indulging in biscuits and desserts three to four times a day.

I am still a bit confused and undecided about what to do, but today I have invested in a fitness and recipe plan by Danielle Peazer called 12-Week Body Plan and I think I'll try to follow that for a while and see how it goes.

When I first heard about it, it immediately caught my attention, simply because it focuses on both the topics I need to work on: fitness and food. I am always passionate about finding and testing new recipes, so I'm sure that that side of the plan won't disappoint me, and I like the idea of having a full series of workouts all written down and with pictures, as they are easier to follow than other workouts (I can take a book to the park, while watching a Youtube video might be a bit more complicated) and they're already organized week by week, day by day, so I don't have to figure out by myself which one is right for me or how many series of exercises I need to do.

The plan comes as a pdf, but I'm having mine printed because I want to be able to take it everywhere and I know that I'll more likely make a good use of it if I have it printed than if it's only a pdf on my phone.

If you are interested in this plan, you can find it on weheartliving's website. I applied for the Starter Pack and a few days later they sent me a discount code (I probably wouldn't have bought it full price, though the price is still definitely lower than a gym subscription).

I'll start working out between Saturday and Monday, and later this month I'll let you know if I managed to stick to the plan, if I'm loving it or not, and if the recipes are interesting. 

Martina x

May 10, 2017

Dinner at Bella Italia

Last Summer, after seeing the first part of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, my boyfriend and I went out for dinner at Bella Italia Shaftesbury Avenue. We liked it so much that first time that we ended up going there the night after as well.

As soon as we moved here, I subscribed to their newsletter and started receiving their food discounts, which usually are 25% or 50% off main courses. Every time one of those discount codes lands in my inbox, we head out and go to Bella Italia to eat dinner. We have been to various locations and tried many of their dishes, and we have never been disappointed.

So when I received an email that gave me the opportunity to enter a competition to win a free three course meal for two in a location of choice, I immediately entered. Lorenzo and I believed that we truly deserved to win, as we eat at Bella Italia quite often and we are acquainted with their old menu. We knew that this free meal would have allowed us to try some of their new dishes from the updated menu, and we couldn't wait.

One morning my alarm went off and I woke up from a dream, quite confused and still a bit sleepy, and my phone greeted me with the news that we had actually won the competition.

On Monday evening we showed up at Bella Italia Shaftesbury Avenue and were warmly welcomed and shown our table. It had been prepared with some white paper placemats, crayons and a pen, and the waitress (who recognized us from our previous visits) told us to use the placemat as a space to leave a comment on the event.

We started our dinner by ordering our drinks (I went for a lemonade as the drink that I wanted, called Peachberry, was not available) and then moved on to food. My boyfriend and I both picked Crab Cakes as starters and Carbonara Pizza as mains. 

The food arrived quickly and was not only nice to see, but also really good to eat. The sauce that went with the crab cakes was delicious and the pizza was incredibly filling, but we expected that from a pizza with so many toppings. 

After our starters and mains we were definitely full, but I really could not say no to dessert (never say no to dessert, especially when it's free) so we ordered a Cookie Dough al Forno to share (but I ended up eating it all on my own, hahah). It's a huge dessert really, I would say that not many places have such big portions in their menu as Bella Italia does (and please, take this as a compliment), but it's delicious and really satisfying to eat.

Between one course and the next we had enough time to write down a comment on the food, and I decided that it would be nice to draw the dishes on my placemat.

We both headed back home really happy that night. 

I believe that there are a lot of details that make Bella Italia a great place to eat. First of all, the food is delicious and there is really something for everyone (even vegans), and I am Italian so I feel like I know what I am talking about - even though many of their dishes are not really something that you would find in a traditional restaurant in Italy. Second, the portions are quite big and they totally balance their prices. Third, if you subscribe to the newsletter (or if you are a student) you can get discount codes quite easily, and have a nice night out without breaking the bank. 

I am really grateful for the opportunity we were given and for the kindness of all the waitresses that helped us that night. The new menu has a lot of new options, and I still have to try some of them, so... Expect to see us again soon, Bella!

Martina x

May 07, 2017

London Bucket List

Before moving to London, I had been there on holiday a few times. I have seen a few famous landmarks and I have walked around the city centre quite a lot, but there are still millions of things I haven't seen and done. Sometimes in my free time I like to walk to places I've never been to and explore, or visit some free galleries or famous shops or caf├ęs. Still, the number of places I still need to visit is huge, but I have never put down a proper list (though I think I'll try to do it one day, just for fun).

Some days ago I found a blog called Live & Peaches. The owner, Celine, is working as an au pair in London and has put down a bucket list of places she wants to see while she is here (she is definitely more organized than me, hahah). I read it through out of curiosity, and I noticed she has already ticked many places off the list. I started wondering how many of those I had actually seen, so I decided to copy and paste her list here (I asked her permission first) and now I'm going to check.

Visit Buckingham Palace
Harry Potter Walk
Jack the Ripper Tour
Tate Modern
Tate Britain
Shopping on Oxford street
Go for a walk in Hyde Park
Meet Little Mix
Get a Tattoo in Camden Town
Visit London Zoo
National Gallery

Notting Hill

Olympia Park
Little Venice
Canary Wharf

Jack the Ripper Museum
Sherlock Holmes Museum
Watch a play at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Tower of London
Windsor Castle
Warner Bros. Studio Tour
Watch a Musical

Go up on the O2
Natural History Museum
Sky Garden
China Town
Celebrate Chinese New Year
Eton College
British Museum
Science Museum
Tower Bridge

Imperial War Museum
Sutton House
Madame Tussauds
Watch the Oxford vs. Cambridge boat race
Brick Lane Market
Holland Park

I have visited a total of 24 out of 55 places, which is not too bad. As you can see, I have visited quite a few places around London, but not many towns nearby. That's actually something I'm planning to do in the future, and Bath is high up on my list.

The Tower of London, Windsor Castle, Shard, London Zoo and Stonehenge were already on my mind list, and now I'm definitely adding Buckingham Palace to that (I didn't know you could visit it). Another thing I'm curious about is the Harry Potter Walk, I'll look it up soon I think.

I also like the idea of getting a new tattoo, but I'm not too sure that I'd go to Camden for that, I think I would have to search some tattoo artists online beforehand.

Have you ever visited London? How many places can you tick off this list?

Big shoutout to Celine of Live & Peaches for allowing me to use her bucket list. Go check out her blog if you haven't already, and leave a nice comment. I shall do the same.

Martina x

May 03, 2017

The Dior Trilogy, Part Two

The kind lady who helped me find my foundation (you can read about that in my previous post) decided to apply some more makeup to my face, just because we both had time and it was nice to test out some new things. She suggested one lip product that apparently everybody loves, and the fact that I'd never heard of it made me curious, so I asked her to try it on me. 

It is a lipstick/lipbalm, it has a very subtle colour that enhances your natural lips, making them glow without being sticky as a lipgloss. It's called Dior Addict Lip Glow Color Awakening Lipbalm (wow, what a mouthful).

Before I bought it I had no idea how much I needed a product like this. It's perfect for every kind of makeup, even for those days (most days for me) when you only apply a light coat of mascara just to look older than twelve. 

Since I got it, I applied it almost everyday, and I'm still surprised every time at how much difference it makes, even if it adds just a pale pinkish tone to the lips and a tad bit of shine. It is also quite moisturizing, and that's something I always appreciate in lip products.

I'm pretty sure I'll buy it again when it ends, simply because it's such a good product and also because I love to have some luxury products to use everyday. They might mean nothing to others (or be barely noticeable for non-expert eyes) but make me feel a million dollar, and that's something that I often need as a motivation to get out of bed in the morning or to face a day at work.

I'd go as far as to say this might become one of my holy grail products in the long term.

What's your favourite lip product?

Martina x