Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Amsterdam Zoo

While in Amsterdam I had the opportunity to do something I hadn't done since I was a kid… Go to the zoo! I had forgotten how mesmerizing a trip to the zoo can be and the Artis Royal Zoo in Amsterdam is one of the best ones I've ever been to! Many of the areas are quite open with birds and critters roaming freely around your feet. More dangerous animals are of course in cages or behind a sort of barrier, but to have a gang of lemurs dancing around your feet is quite an experience you don't get everywhere! I very much enjoyed my jaunt to the zoo and took a load of photos, so I thought sharing would be in order… If you're ever in Amsterdam, I definitely recommend a trip to the Artis Royal Zoo - it's one of the best things I experienced in the city and well worth the price of admission!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Exploring Amsterdam

I recently visited Amsterdam for the first time and I found it to be a really charming city. My favorite thing about Amsterdam is the cycling culture. I rented a bike for about €10 per day and enjoyed whizzing around the city, being able to go anywhere I wanted without having to worry about a taxi or public transportation and it's really fun!

If you know where to go, there's some great food in Amsterdam: Burgers from The Butcher, Flinck for Croquettes and fries and no matter where you go, pancakes are delicious! I definitely recommend visiting Amsterdam if you've never been before… It's not all coffee shop smoking and red light district like one might think… It's actually a beautiful city with a rich history and worth adding to your bucket list!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Chocolate Free Easter Ideas for the Whole Family

We're constantly being bombarded with the news that sugar is bad for us, so what to do for Easter? Traditionally here in England, elaborate chocolate eggs are the order of the day while in my native USA, it's easter baskets full of sweets and a giant chocolate bunny. Going the sugar-free, healthy route doesn't mean sacrificing our little treats from the Easter Bunny! Here are my suggestions for guilt-free Easter treats the for the whole family.

Mom - A lovely luxury candle is a gift that Mom can share with household guests or keep all to herself for bath times and evenings spent reading a great book! The Diptyque Tuberose Candle is a classic that she can enjoy through the Easter holidays and for a good while afterwards.

Dad - Impractical, luxury skincare products for men such as the Baxter of California Skin 1.2.3. Kit are a great way to show Dad just how much you (ahem, the Easter bunny) appreciate him! It's a little indulgence he might not be likely to buy for himself, but will enjoy all the same as a gift.

Baby - It's not like a baby could do much with a gigantic chocolate egg anyway, but that doesn't mean a bundle of joy should be left off the list! The super sweet Pure Love Snuggle Buddy is just the thing for keeping baby content and happy throughout the Easter holidays and beyond.

Sister - There are few things to make little girls feel more special than their first piece of jewelry - something that's age appropriate, yet still makes them feel a bit more grown up! The Goldsmiths Little Wishes Collection is the perfect place to start building a young lady's first jewelry wardrobe and I'm loving the Silver Rabbit Charm for Easter.

Brother - With all the days off over Easter holidays, little brother is definitely going to have some energy to expel. The Personalised Nature Trail in a Bag is something he can enjoy all day on Easter Monday as he becomes an intrepid nature explorer!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

White T-shirt Remix

One of my favorite things to buy each Spring is a fresh, new, white t-shirt! There's just something about getting a new one that signifies the beginning of warm weather, leisurely walks, picnics and happy times! I also love a white t-shirt as the basis of a lot of Spring & Summer looks because it's super easy, not to mention chic. With that in mind, I give you the White T-shirt Remix…

The five looks below are all created using the same J. Crew white tee, but they're each different in their own way.

Blank Canvas

I personally don't own any white jeans because I'd definitely spill something on them, but I love them. This look could easily be recreated using any color of skinny jeans paired with different scarves, shoes, bags and jewellery - whatever you have will always work with a neutral canvas.

Shorts Story

One of the great things about having basic white tees on hand is that you always have something that matches those cute skirts and shorts you'll be buying during the warmer months! There's nothing worse than getting an adorable piece that never leaves your closet because you don't have anything to wear it with…

Pencil Me In

All your blouses are at the cleaners? No problem! I often prefer a nice t-shirt for tucking into a pencil skirt because they flow so nicely around the waist. With the right heels, accessories and a structured jacket, you can certainly get away with wearing your favorite t-shirt to work!

Midi-Summer Madness

I'm loving the full midi skirts that are popping up all over the place! What I also love is a bit of contrast when wearing them…. No need to go full-on Audrey Hepburn. Make these skirts modern with a t-shirt, an edgy bag, a statement necklace and other popping accessories that bring a 50's inspired skirt into the 21st century!

Blue Jean Queen

Keep your white t-shirt casual by pairing it with distressed boyfriend jeans. This combination lends itself to endless possibilities - sandals, Converse, ballet flats or cardigans, statement necklaces, scarves… The choice is yours. I love wearing wedges with boyfriend jeans because the rolled-up hem showcases a great pair of shoes beautifully! Casual and relaxed, but not so much that an ounce of style is sacrificed… Love this look!

What's your favorite way to wear your white t-shirt?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Book Review - French Women Don't Get Facelifts by Mireille Guiliano

I have read all of Mireille Guiliano's French Women books, so naturally I snatched this one up as soon as I saw it in the bookstore, though I have to say it was a little surprising. I thought it would be mostly about beauty tips and plastic surgery, however French Women Don't Get Facelifts is actually geared toward an audience that's quite a bit older than me, showing women in their 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's how to age gracefully or as Guiliano says "with attitude". That said, I soldiered on and read this book and I have to admit I'm glad I did.

While some parts of this book address old age, many of the tips are actually quite valuable reminders of things we should all be doing like eating a variety of colors to get a balanced diet, wearing sunscreen and going for regular walks to get exercise and a Vitamin D boost. Guiliano also includes several recipes in the book as she does in most of her other books.

I would highly recommend French Women Don't Get Facelifts for women who are 40+ as it's a fantastic resource for how to enter the next phase of your life in a way that doesn't feel like getting old. Mireille Guiliano's approach to growing older is refreshing and nearly makes one look forward to it. If you're not quite 40, it's still worth reading - I'm 33 and I read it cover to cover. She talks about all the things people are afraid to delve into such as menopause, sex in your golden years, plastic surgery and vitamin supplements. It's definitely a learning lesson about what to expect as we age.

If you haven't yet read Mireille Guiliano's other books, they're definitely worth reading as well, particularly her most famous book French Women Don't Get Fat, a great read that truly changed the way I eat and move. She has a great talent for telling stories and sharing information. I definitely look forward to her next book!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Retipalm Derma Cosmetics - Perfect Skincare Products for Sensitive Skin & Allergy Sufferers

If you've never heard of Retipalm Derma Cosmetics, you're not alone. I myself was unaware of these products until I was introduced to them by a friend and I was delighted when Retipalm UK offered me the opportunity to try them out. I've have the chance to test out several products from the range including Intensiv Cleansing Foam, Sensitiv Toner, Vitamin Hydro Gel, Soft Performance Day Cream and the Vitamin Hydro Mask.

Retipalm offers a range of advanced skincare products and what makes them special is their very high concentration of important skin-regenerating vitamins including A, C, E and Beta Carotene. These products also contain Vitamins B5, B6 & B3 alongside Biotin, AHA's, Peptides and Hyaluronic Acid creating the perfect nourishing cocktail for the skin.

Perhaps what's really great about Retipalm's products is what they don't contain. Each product in the range is free of parabens, mineral oils, artificial colorings, perfumes and animal extracts. Many of the products I've been using are completely clear - that's right, totally see-through. All of these products are also hypo-allergenic and safe for use on very sensitive skin.

Overall, I think all of these products are great, especially for people with skin sensitivity issues or allergies. I often react to creams and other products, but I haven't had a single problem with the Retipalm range. My favorite products are the Vitamin Hydro Gel and the Intensiv Cleansing Foam. The cleanser is just very clean and fresh, completely clear and gets my face squeaky clean without drying it out. Vitamin Hydro Gel is a great multi-purpose product. Not only does it provide extra moisture under your day or night cream, but it also acts as an immediate skin soother, calming down red, irritated skin or itchy patches. I particularly love to smear on Vitamin Hydro Gel after an eyebrow threading - it calms the redness right down and soothes the pain at the same time.

Retipalm Derma Cosmetics are currently available via their UK website, which offers global shipping. What skincare products are you using and loving right now?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Weekend Warrior - Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to hear Joe Cross speak about juicing. Having been diagnosed with a rare disease that causes rashes and required him to be on medication for the rest of his life in his 30's, Joe Cross embarked on a juicing journey to see if he could improve his health. He set out on a journey across America, all the while having a juice only diet for 60 days. The results were incredible - he is now medication and illness free.

There are a few things about Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead that I loved. Firstly, it's not boring - in fact, it's quite funny. Little bits of animation keep this film from being too cerebral. Additionally, Joe interviews quite a few Americans about their eating habits including a man with the same condition he had. Joe's journey is fascinating and this film really made me want to start juicing… I'm now on the hunt for a good juicer.

If you love foodie films and documentaries, then I highly recommend Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. Have you seen any great foodie films you've loved recently?

Friday, March 28, 2014

J'adore - A Playlist Inspired by Paris

Bonjour! Not sure why, but I've really had Paris on the brain lately and one of the things I loved most about my most recent jaunt to Paris (I say recent but it was nearly 2 years ago) was the music… It sometimes seems like there's beautiful music coming from everywhere in the 'City of Light'. Accordion players on the street, jazz trios in restaurants, jukeboxes in bars… There's no shortage of a soundtrack for Parisian and tourist alike. What I loved most is how the Paris musicians have a way of taking any tune and making it sound French - they make it their own. I was sitting outside a lovely cafe when a string quartet played a song that I thought sounded so familiar… It was I soon discovered "I Want to Be Like You" from The Jungle Book, but with a rather Parisian flare and it was incredible!

Since that trip to Paris, I've been on the hunt for the French jazzy tunes I love best (I don't speak French, so it's been a bit of a challenge) and I've finally curated a bit of a go-to playlist that I love when I'm cooking, enjoying a glass of wine and especially while I'm eating something delicious. There's something about wine, French music and delicious food all together on a Saturday or Sunday that really feels like a luxury! On that note (pun intended) I present you with my Paris-inspired jazzy playlist… 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Book Review - Bridget Jones The Edge of Reason

Bridget Jones The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding

Truth be told, I only read Bridget Jones The Edge of Reason so that I could move on to read the newest Bridget Jones book, but I'm glad I read it… Though it doesn't quite measure up to Bridget Jones's Diary, I'm happy to report that it far surpasses the film version.

The Edge of Reason takes our dear Bridget to a darker phase in her life… She's once again a singleton and faces some pretty horrendous circumstances from work, travel and life in general. What's great about this book, which would otherwise be a bit depressing, is Bridget's humorously bright outlook on life, not to mention her incredibly funny drunken episodes. The second Bridget book also gives readers a much more in-depth look into our favorite single heroine's relationship with Mark Darcy, who is incredibly endearing in this book.

If you've read Bridget Jones's Diary, I highly recommend continuing on with the series to read The Edge of Reason… It's worth following Bridget on further adventures in singleton life.

Read any good books lately? I'd love your suggestions, so leave me a comment or Tweet your favorite recent reads to me at @pinkjulep!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Interview With Swimwear Designer Heidi Gosman of heidi klein

Whether you're jetting off for a last minute ski trip, packing for your first sunny holiday of the year or sticking close to home until Summer comes, swimsuit season is creeping up on all of us. Shopping for swimsuits can be hard… Once you find the right bathing suit, it's heavenly, but until then it can be daunting even in the best of circumstances. Luckily, the gracious Heidi Gosman, swimwear designer of heidi klein agreed to help us all out with our bathing suit shopping woes, giving us the scoop on finding the right swimwear as well as her favorite beachy destinations, Summer reading list, holiday essentials and more. 

Heidi Gosman, co-founder of heidi klein
1. What are your must-have holiday essentials?
A few mix and match bikinis, some lightweight cover-ups, an oversized shirt, a large sunhat and a great pair of sunglasses.

2. What are your favourite trends for SS14 swimwear?
I always love the nautical ranges, with this season's oversized shirt.

3. Do you have any tips for finding the best swimsuit for your body type?
Select a top and bottom, or one-piece, that provides the right amount of support and lift in the areas you feel you need it the most, and complements the areas you are most confident about.  It’s very important to stay true to your body shape and with the right fit you’ll feel more chic and confident on any beach. For instance, if you have a larger bust size then go for a halter neck bikini top, which works in the same way as underwiring, to give a slight lift to the side and more control and support to the cup area.  Also, go for tie-backs instead of clasps to give a more versatile fit.  If you have a larger bust then bandeaus are fabulous as they emphasis the curves on the hips and take the attention away from the bust area. Select one that’s subtly padded with side boning to give a smoothed shape and supportive fit.  For a pear shape its best to stick to a one-piece as the body is lengthened and the hips are flattered by the clean lines and shape.  Choose one with halter straps and moulded padding to give better support and hold.  Also, to hold in the tummy area, select a one-piece that has pleating across the body to flatter and control the waistline.  If you’re conscious of your bottom area, then always stick to a classic medium coverage bottom – it’s all about the cut of the bottom not the amount of coverage -that fits well and complements the area.  A bikini bottom that’s too big or skimpy will only emphasise the area.

4. What is your favorite sunny destination?
I love Italy and always seem to return to Portofino. I also love Ibiza and St. Tropez.

5. What are the most important things you consider when you're designing and where do you get your inspiration?
My inspiration always comes from our customers, who are the most reliable focus groups. They tell us what works, and what doesn't, and we work towards finding the right fit and style for them.

6. How do you like to accessorize your swimwear for a day at the beach?
I love to accessorise my swimwear, either with a chunky necklace or bracelet or a simple scarf. I just keep it simple and not too fussy.

7. Do you have any favorite beach reads?
I catch up on my magazines in the summer, mostly Vogue, Elle, Harpers, Tatler and Red.

8. Do you have any other tips for how we call all look our best when we're hitting the beach?
Make sure you buy a bikini that makes you feel gorgeous - it's how you feel, not how you look!

Many thanks to Heidi Gosman for this fabulous interview - knowing what to look for in a bathing suit certainly makes the task of shopping for one a lot less daunting. If you're planning a trip somewhere sunny soon, be sure to check out the fabulous new collection at heidi klein. No plans for hitting the beach? Check out this beautiful SS14 heidi klein film for a bit of an escape without even leaving your desk…