A few months ago I decided to send more flowers. There really is nothing better than getting flowers; it makes a gal feel so special and cherished. Lately I’ve found myself trawling through pages of scary 80s bouquets in a sorry attempt to find something modern, something magical. I leave most web browsing sessions feeling deflated and uninspired. That, or I end up defaulting to an orchid or bunch of plain white roses because there’s really nothing more interesting available.
I think our web florists need a kick in the panties. With all that’s at our disposal in terms of visual inspiration, there’s no need to keep perpetuating naff bunches of flowers better suited for funerals than friends. Vases don’t need to be over the top and expensive; use jars. And please, please add simple green plants like delicious monsters to the mix. I’d be happy for a guy to send me a monster and tell me he thinks I’m delicious. And what about craspedia, those awesome little yellow flowers that look like balls on sticks, sometimes called Billy Balls?
I stumbled upon an Instagram account called Dear Whimsy a while back and I just adore Tammie Markham’s flower-arranging style. She does the weekly arrangements for the Rifle Paper Company in Florida, swoon! Her arrangements aren’t over-the-top or technical. They’re, as her social media alias suggests, full of whimsy and magic. I really think our online florists could take a leaf. See what I did there?
All photos courtesy of Tammie Markham via Dear Whimsy.
If you’re aware of any fabulous online flower sellers doing things a little differently, please do leave me a comment and let me know.
I was recently invited to visit Pure Esthetics in Parkmore for a Skin Analysis and a set of lash extensions at Fabulash; both under the same roof. I’ve always wanted to do a skin analysis but have been a little nervous of the results. We’ve all seen those horrendous photographs that illustrate sun damage not visible to the naked eye. Yikes! I decided to put on my big-girl panties and go for it. After all, I’m not a spring chicken anymore and really need to start worrying more about what I put on and into my skin.
The Pure Esthetics skin analysis results look like this:
They use a tiny camera hooked up to a computer to photograph a small section of your cheek. The analysis then maps and ranks your skin according to the following criteria:
- Collagen fibers
A detailed graphic illustrates your skin according to each of the criteria above benchmarked against the ideal range for your age; and then finally a report maps out all criteria and your real age versus skin age. I’m 31 and my skin age is 37 – eish! Fortunately the two areas that have affected my skin’s age most, moisture and pigment, can be reversed by wearing sunscreen EVERY day and increasing the moisture within my skin cells. I thought that wearing a BB cream with an SPF in it was good enough – nope! And I now have the skin analysis results to prove it. Now, I’m not a person who lies in the sun without SPF 50 almost everywhere. I also don’t tan often at all. So it just goes to show how much damage is done driving, sitting in sunny offices, exercising etc. It really is a scary notion – the South African sun is strong, folks. I’ve now added wearing HelioCare Advanced Gel (SPF 50) every day beneath my BB cream. It’s a phenomenal gel sunscreen that doesn’t result in breakouts and is super moisturising.
On the moisture front I was recommended trace mineral drops. Apparently the lack of certain minerals in our body can affect how moisture is retained; particularly within the skin. I drink water non-stop throughout the day – so I’m not dehydrated. It underscores that we need to take a holistic approach to skincare. I’ve now started drinking 25 drops of these ConcenTrace drops each day and I’m keen to see if my moisture levels improve when I go back in a few months for a second analysis.
In terms of my over-all skincare regime, I’ve added 4 amazing products/ranges that are active and penetrate both the dermal and epidermal layers for optimum results and my skin is thanking me. I was horrified to hear about some of the expensive big name brands that only penetrate the top epidermal layer; ultimately not having much affect other than costing consumers a fortune. These are some of my favourite new products:
1. LaMelle Correctives CE Complex – Right now I’m only using the Correctives which you apply first beneath your moisturiser. This stable, high concentration ascorbic acid product delivers a rapid AND delayed release phase ascorbic acid into the skin over a 12 hour period without any skin irritation. Irrespective of skin age, improvements in wrinkles, skin texture, discolouration and firmness are achievable with regular use.
2. Neo Strata Renewal Cream - Formulated with 12% Gluconolactone, Pro-Retinol, Vitamin E and a Vitamin A derivitive; I use this at night to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, reduce pore size, improve elasticity etc. I’ve been using this at night for about 2 months now and it feels incredible on the skin – dewy and delicious.
3. Alpha H Liquid Gold - I alternate this with the Neo Strata at night and it’s difficult to describe how awesome this makes my skin feel; it really is liquid gold. This product contains Glycolic Acid and is a powerful resurfacing and firming treatment for diminishing wrinkles, pigmentation and sun damage. If you have very sensitive skin this might not work for you; so perhaps try to get your paws on a sample before you splash out. It tingles for a little and then leaves your face looking like you’ve just had a facial.
4. Acnevelle – Also from Lamelle, this is a skin supplement containing Zinc Picolinate and Nicotinamide and I take two tablets a day to work on my skin from within. I have a combination skin with some super oily and congested areas. I felt I needed something more than a topical solution to get to the root of the problem; and so far I think this is working.
5. Smitten Facial Cleansing Mitten – This little pink glove is life-changing. Wet with warm water and clean your face – no soap, nothing. The magical fibre it’s made from (I have no idea what it is but it’s different to any face-cloth I’ve tried) gets right in there and cleans away stubborn make-up and mascara. My skin feels and looks like glass afterwards.
Click here to book your Skin Analysis with Pure Esthetics.
After my skin analysis I was treated to a set of lash extensions by the famous Romy of Fabulash. I wanted a set of full but natural-looking lashes; something to enhance my natural pathetic eye-lashes. One thing I never leave the house without is mascara, mainly because I look like a mole without it. Here, proof:
I know, right?! Not a great look. Anyways, Romy’s work is meticulous and precise and the result was great. I also thoroughly enjoyed the process and foot massage whilst my lash extensions were applied. Here’s the result:
I’ve loved waking up with a full set of amazing lashes that require no mascara. You actually don’t need any make-up when your lashes look great. As a result I haven’t had to scrub my eyes to wipe-away stubborn mascara every day and I’m sure the skin around my eyes is better for it. I’ll have them filled next weekend; that’ll be 3 weeks since I had them done and they’re still looking fine. A few have fallen out, but that’s normal.
You can book an appointment with Romy, Thembi or Prudence online here.
Eep! I’m equally excited and terrified to share this. This is my first tutorial with dear friends Julia and Camilla of All Dolled Up. If you’re into make-up and beauty then you need to subscribe to their YouTube channel - I’ve learnt so much from this gorgeous pair. I’m often asked how I curl my hair and truth is it’s super quick and easy with a straightener. I know that sounds daft, I mean, curl with a straightener? But trust me. It’s all in the wrist-flick and once you’ve got the hang of it it’s a jiffy – you can easily curl your hair in 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how thick your hair is.
As mentioned in my tutorial above, I recently started using the Glampalm straightener and it’s a phenomenal product with a heap of great features; it’s also manufactured by the original GHD makers. Now, my first GHD is 13 years old and is still going strong; just to illustrate the quality of these products. They’re pricey (R2300) but worth every penny. The Glampalm has an auto switch-off feature which is a huge selling point for me. It’s just not worth fretting about whether or not you remembered to turn it off. Some other nifty features include:
Glampalm have very kindly offered a voucher code discount to brandslut readers – shop online here with code bs225 and receive R200 of your Glampalm straightener.
If you found this tutorial helpful, please do let me know by leaving a comment.
I was recently invited to experience the annual marula fruit harvest with the Amarula brand team in Phalaborwa; a once in a lifetime opportunity. 70 of us were flown from around the country to the Kapama Private Game Reserve to experience the brand and its roots in all its glory. Last year Samsung had approached me with the proposal of a review of the NX300 camera and this trip provided the perfect opportunity to put it to the test. Before I get into the technical review of the camera, here are some of my favourite pictures from the trip. Note, I’m not a photographer. Hell, ISO sounds like something delicious you frost a cake with. That said, I think these turned out pretty well despite my lack of skill/knowledge.
I loved reviewing the Samsung NX300. And I won’t bore you with the technical details until the end where I’ve listed them in bullet points for those who insist. But for amateurs like me, interested in taking a decent photograph with a camera that’s easy to navigate, small enough to carry around without the hassle of big bags and lenses and things, then the NX300 is your guy! It’s got fancy features like built in WiFi which allows you to share via your smartphone and social media, but two of the things I like most are its design (there’s something retro about it) and its shutter sound. It makes that amazing, raw old-school ‘click click‘ sound.
The Samsung NX300 also comes with some nifty Instagramesque editing filters to help you get the effect you’re after. If you’re not comfortable with editing on the camera, it comes bundled with Photoshop Lightroom 4 which is also easy to use and fun to fool around with. I edited some of the photos in this post with it for the purpose of this review.
Samsung NX300 Product Features:
- Comes in 3 colour options: all white, silver & black, brown leather & silver
- WiFi direct link, share to Android or iOS via the Samsung Smart Camera App, option to save to camera and smartphone, or camera only
- Remote viewfinder function via the App
- Movie recording functionality
- Smart filter settings
- Bundled with Photoshop Lightroom 4 software
- Large APS-C sensor with excellent high ISO performance
- 18-55mm kit lens
- No viewfinder
- No built-in flash (attachment only)
- In-camera battery charging (accessory available)
If you’re wondering about the elephants in the last few photos, this is the orphan herd from the incredible Jabulani Camp at Kapama. These elephants were rescued from Zimbabwe by Lente Roode and rehabilitated. The attempt to release them back into the wild was unsuccessful as they’ve only ever known humans. They now live in a semi-wild camp at Kapama. Go ahead and add this experience to your bucket list!
When I travel to new cities I can’t help but consider the PR and brand machines behind them. New York, Paris, Vancouver and, well, any Scandinavian city are right up there with the best of them. And don’t for a second think that the positive PR is all organic; beaucoup de cash is spent by city tourism departments on generating awareness, creating new news, profiling hip new places, securing movie locations etc. My thought thread always leads to the same place: Johannesburg needs better PR.
If I had a Rand for every time I’ve promoted Jozi to a stranger I wouldn’t have to work. I caught myself doing it on a flight from Cape Town last week with an elderly couple from Raleigh, North Carolina. That conversation prompted me to write this; it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I left Johannesburg a year ago.
But before I get into the stuff that makes Johannesburg awesome, I need to say this:
You see, what’s worse for me than ignorant foreigners is ignorant South Africans. Enter *that* Capetonian. You know the one, the one who hot-foots it out of Johannesburg faster than a Mitchell’s Plain gangsta in a new Opel Astra OPC. The one who goes to Midrand for a meeting and declares Johannesburg a shit-hole. The one who once visited a relative in Kempton Park and decided Johannesburg is ugly. The one who’s never been to Johannesburg but could never live there.
This person is Johannesburg’s worst enemy. But I’m not here to sling mud; I’m here to say that we all have a role to play in promoting this incredible country in which we live. And that means talking up cities and places other than Cape Town – she needs no help, having won nature’s lottery. Johannesburg on the other hand needs a leg up, and it’s up to us to give her one. That includes you, Capetonians.
One of the most memorable conversations I’ve had was around a dinner table in Gloucester Road, London with dear friends of mine Clare and Omar. She’s British, he’s Pakistani, and they have a knack for throwing dinner parties of epic proportions and bringing together people from all over the world. After too many cigars and fine Tequila one night I found myself having a debate with a Mexican and a Pakistani over which city was more amazing; Mexico City, Lahore or Johannesburg. We weren’t finding some sick pleasure in recounting horror stories about crime and poverty, we were PRing our native cities.
Crime. I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t exist in Johannesburg. It does. As it exists the world over. I’ve had one experience with crime. Fortunately for my brother and I we came out on the lucky end of what I fear could have been an awful encounter in an alleyway trying to access a hotel in the wee hours of the morning. Oh, and that was in Cincinnati, Ohio. Every city has ruin, dangerous bits and no-go zones. So, no-go there! And for God’s sake don’t venture there in your khaki safari attire with your camera slung around your neck. You don’t do that in New York or in London, so don’t do it in Johannesburg – it’s not a safari.
I was born in the Johannesburg General Hospital in the 80s and grew up in Benoni. Somewhere between the mine dumps, Bunny Park and the East Rand Mall a love for the place was born. Instead of it waning as we moved overseas for my father’s work, it grew. In 2010 I was finally reunited with my birthplace and it exceeded every expectation I had of it. Here are some of the reasons I love Johannesburg, some of the reasons I’d encourage any visitor to spend some time there and not simply pass through en route to Cape Town or the Kruger National Park. I heart Jozi because of…
If you’ve got any other tips, must-sees, must-dos, please add a comment. And if you share my sentiment, please send this to someone, foreign or not, who thinks Johannesburg is ugly. One by one we can help PR this incredible city.
*I’ve linked all images to their sources. If you’re the owner of one of these images and would like it removed, or credited within the caption, please just drop me a line.
Where do I even begin to describe my obsession with stationery? It started at a very young age, and to put it into perspective, I still have all of my Sanrio, Winnie the Pooh and Disney writing sets, complete with pencil crayons, stickers and my first pencil case. I’m 30 years old, ffs. I’m also obsessed with flowers, so you can imagine my delight when I saw the Rifle Paper Co. lookbook for the 2013 In Bloom range come to life on Instagram. This idea, and these pictures, make my heart so happy…
One day when I’m big I want to be Anna Rifle Bond and own everything ever made by Rifle Paper Co.
I stumbled upon fashion, textile and home-ware designer Orla Kiely via Instagram a while ago and it was love at first sight. Quirky, pretty, sometimes old-fashioned, right up my alley. Alexa Chung is a huge fan and wears her so well. I hope to add a piece of Orla to my wardrobe soon. Here’s a look at the Spring 2014 collection, inspired by the Girl Guides and generations of British travelers to Africa and India. Swoon!
A year ago I experienced Enmasse for the first time when it opened its doors in Johannesburg. As a thank you for the review I did for them, and the subsequent traffic from said blog post, the Enmasse team in Cape Town treated me to a spot of pampering recently. But before I get into it, they’ve offered you a spot of pampering too, so be sure to read on. The Enmasse massage experience is truly unique, and you’ll understand what I mean the minute you enter its doors. Dark walls, dimly lit with pops of neon and orange, a stark contrast to the white linen you change into and the beds and partitioning in the massage room. It’s a kind of eerie energising awesome with a sexy soundtrack.
The experience starts with tea and you choose one from 16 blends created by Enmasse Tea Merchants. It’s all part of winding down. You then move upstairs to the open plan massage room, privacy offered by partitions. My Thai masseuse was tiny, her strength deceiving. The 60 minutes were over too quickly, but the massage firm and effective. I decided to end my experience with a Hot Cross Bun Chai latte and a flick through Vanity Fair on the sofa underneath a blanket. Bliss.
Here’s my experience in pictures…
Enmasse have kindly offered my readers some lovely prizes and a fabulous offer, here’s the deal:
Win a 60 minute Enmasse massage valued at R395: comment on this blog post to be entered into the draw – entries close August 4th 2013
Win one of 2 x R250 massage vouchers: like both Enmasse and brandslut on facebook and then let me know you’ve done this by commenting on the Enmasse post on my facebook page – entries close August 4th 2013
Upgrade your 60 minute massage to 90 minutes at no extra charge: this one is for brandslut readers only, you’ll need to mention you heard about the deal on my blog – valid until end August
Buy 3 Enmasse teas and get one free: valid while stocks last
I’ll announce the prize winners on Monday August 5th. Prizes and offers may be redeemed in both Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Last month I received a hamper of Dove lotions and some other products to try. The DeepCare Complex lotions are perfect for the dry winter months, and they claim to nourish your skin for up to 10 days. I like my lotions thick and extra nourishing, so the body lotion for Extra Dry Skin was my favourite within the range. I found the variant for Normal Skin a little too ‘thin’ for my liking, but that’s personal preference. I didn’t put the 10 day claim to trial because I’m addicted to moisturising, but I skipped a few days which is something I never do and didn’t experience any dryness or itchiness in between – something I’ve experienced in the past when using competitor products. I found the nourishing beauty shower range great too, particularly as they’re rich and creamy and not too foamy. Is foamy even a real word?
I love that Dove is supporting its great product range with some equally amazing, meaningful and relevant marketing globally, here are two recent campaigns that if you haven’t yet seen are well worth a watch…