Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Well In The Garden- Cliff At Lyons Hotel

A couple of weeks ago I was very kindly invited to the Cliff at Lyons hotel in Celbridge to have a look at their new wellness spa, The Well in the Garden. The hotel is comprised of a number of historic stone buildings that include a mill, a cookery school, meeting rooms, apartments, cottages, restaurants and the tiniest chapel you've ever seen. Among these buildings is the newly renovated Carriage House which has now been transformed into a beautiful, tranquil space where you can receive a number nourishing and relaxing, botanical inspired treatments.

The photos don't even begin to do this place justice. We arrived in Cliff at Lyons on one of the most dreary days we've had so far this Autumn, it was dull and raining and yet as soon as the bus drove through the gates we were all gasping at the stunning grounds of the hotel. We began with a tour by the lovely hotel staff who told us about the history of the hotel and brought us into all of the buildings and different areas to show us how much there is on offer. The apparently have a lot of weddings throughout the year and I can totally see why as this location is unlike any Irish wedding location I've ever been to. 

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They offer some one of a kind treatments which include Peat for the Feet, Hug of the Hands Massage and a Hot Towel Head and Scalp Ritual all of which you can read about in the photos below. Something that I really loved and is a unique selling point of The Well in the Garden is that all of the products used in the treatments are made from 100% natural ingredients including Irish peat, carrageen moss and hand-crushed herbs from the garden on the grounds of the hotel. There are also three different combinations of oils to choose from during your massage, the De-Stress with Calendula and Bergamot Serenity Oil, the Deep Tissue with Rosemary and Cedar Muscle Relax Oil and the Mother to be Super Seed Massage Oil, all of which smell incredible.

I had a half hour back massage and exfoliating treatment. This was my first ever massage so I wasn't sure what to expect and didn't have anything to compare it to, but seeing everyone come back from their treatments looking so relaxed got me excited for my turn. The treatment room was so cosy with dim light, candles and relaxing music. My masseuse, Niamh, was so friendly and professional but made me feel completely comfortable. She asked if I had any particular concerns with my back so I told her I suffer with sciatic pain from heavy lifting in work. She also asked what kind of pressure I wanted and I said it was my first massage so I'd leave it up to her and she said if it was too hard to let her know. She used an exfoliating treatment, hot towels and brushes and then massaged my back, shoulders, arms and neck. It was such a completely relaxing experience, I honestly could have fallen asleep. I could have easily stayed there for another half hour (or more).

As the treatments were running late on the day (because the masseuses wanted to give each of us a thorough treatment), we were kindly treated to a meal in the Trellis restaurant. I had the cod which was so delicious and the prices were very reasonable. You can also avail of their Afternoon Tea which is €30 per person midweek and €35 on a Sunday or their Sunday lunch which is €40 for a three course meal, the menus for both had me salivating. Both are served in the Orangery which is pictured above and is the most gorgeous, bright room with beautiful views of the grounds.

As well as the treatments I've already mentioned, you can take part in Yoga and Meditation and there are also wellness treatments for mothers to be and people living with cancer.

I was so blown away by the Cliff at Lyons that I felt compelled to share my experience. I had no idea this place existed and less than an hour outside Dublin. If you're planning a wedding or a party or event I would highly recommend checking out their website to discover more. I definitely want to make a return visit and stay overnight to properly enjoy the gorgeous grounds (and maybe partake in Afternoon Tea). It could also be a really nice gift idea with Christmas coming up to treat someone to Afternoon Tea or a treatment in the spa. I'm all about giving people experiences rather than things (as much as I love makeup) there's nothing more special than giving someone your time and a shared memory, as completely cheesy as that sounds.

So what do you think? Have you visited the Cliff at Lyons or does it appeal to you?

Emma x

Monday, October 16, 2017

What I've Been Loving Recently #5

So it's been about six weeks since my last WIBLR and once again I have a lot of recommendations for you all. I've been watching a lot of tv shows and movies and they weren't all amazing but these are the ones that I loved (or really liked).

I had heard about Ozark a few months before it was released on Netflix and at first it didn't interest me, but then I watched the trailer and it made me very excited to start watching it. In short, it's about a guy called Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) who launders money for the Mexican cartel and has to relocate his family to the Ozark lakes in Missouri after his business partner gets into debt with them. The cast is excellent with Laura Linney playing Marty's wife, Julia Garner who plays Ruth Langmore is amazing as is Jason Butler Harner who plays FBI Agent Roy Petty and Peter Mullan as usual is incredible as the local crime lord who comes up against Marty.

After a slow pace to begin with, this is definitely one of those shows that once you get into it, you'll want to binge watch it. It's been compared to Breaking Bad I suppose for the anti-hero, ordinary family guy turned criminal aspect but it's very different although just as gripping. Having said that if you were a fan of Breaking Bad this might fill that void for you. I enjoyed seeing Jason Bateman playing a darker character but part of me will always just see him as Michael Bluth (there's definitely some Michael Bluth in Marty Byrde too). It's been picked up for a second season and I'm definitely excited to see what happens next in the story.


The film Wet Hot American Summer was was released in 2001 and has since become a cult classic amongst its fans. It's one of those absolutely polarising films that you will either love or hate (I can see how it might not be a lot of peoples sense of humour). It's ridiculous and wacky and I adore it. I've watched it countless times and so when I heard David Wain and Michael Showalter were making a prequel for Netflix in 2015 I was delighted. Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later is the second follow up to the film but this time its set ten years later. Most of the original cast returned including Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler and Janeane Garofalo as well as Adam Scott, Chris Pine, Jason Schwartzman and Kristen Wiig. Obviously if you haven't seen the film there's no point in watching this but I encourage anyone who likes any of the above actors to watch it. David Wain who co-wrote the film with Michael Showalter and directed it also made Role Models and Wanderlust so if you liked the kind of humour in those films, you might like this. 

Bojack Horseman is something I used to see all the time on the Netflix suggestions and having one of my favourite comedic actors as the voice of the main character (Will Arnett) made me want to watch it but for some reason I never gave it a go. My boyfriend started to watch it and it happened to be on in the background a few times and I found myself paying attention and laughing so I started watching it with him and now I'm obsessed. We're currently on the fourth season which is the most recent and I'm definitely going to go back and watch it from the beginning as I missed most of the first season. To give you an idea of what it's like, the picture below is of one of the main characters Princess Caroline who is voiced by the hilarious Amy Sedaris, with her boyfriend Vincent Adultman who is not a man but rather three kids sitting on each other's shoulders in a trench coat pretending to be a man. It's a hilarious yet dark (sometimes very dark) show that has lots of amazing guest voice actors as well as the main cast of Aaron Paul, Paul F. Tompkins and Alison Brie. 

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Difficult People is now in its third season and again this will be a love or hate show. If you've watched Parks and Recreation or the latest American Horror Story you might recognise Billy Eichner (also if you haven't seen his show Billy on the Streets it's so funny) and along with Julie Klausner they play Billy and Julie, two best friends living in New York and trying (and failing terribly) to make it in show business. They're annoyed by everyone except each other which I'm sure a lot of people can relate to. It's well written and has a great support cast who are equally funny. This third season was probably my least favourite out of the three so far but its a show I'd definitely watch all over again. 


I've been looking forward to watching The Deuce since I first heard about it earlier this year. It has everything I love, New York, the seventies, Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Franco and it's on HBO. It's not for the faint of heart as it does have graphic scenes of sex and violence but after only five episodes this has quickly become one of the best television programmes I've seen in a long time. Like I've already mentioned it's set in New York in the 1970s in the area around Times Square and explores the lives of the sex workers in the area as well as the legalisation and rise of the porn industry. James Franco plays Vincent and Frankie Martino who begin working as a front for the mob. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Candy, a struggling sex worker who develops an interest in working in the porn industry as a means to make more money to support her young son. The Deuce was created by the guys behind The Wire so if you've watched that you might be interested in this. 


When I saw the trailer for Logan Lucky I was so excited to watch it. As a big Steven Soderbergh fan (I think most people are) I was hoping this wouldn't disappoint and thankfully it didn't. First of all I loved the cast. Channing Tatum is so damn funny. Daniel Craig was ridiculous and amazing. Adam Driver I'd watch in anything, he's an incredible actor and Riley Keogh was so funny and completely on par with the boys. Also, Irish actor Brian Gleeson and Jack Quaid (yes, that's Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid's son!) played the brothers of Daniel Craig's character and were both hilarious. It's basically Ocean's Eleven set in North Carolina. Watch it for the accents alone. 


Was anyone else obsessed with the 1990 version of IT starring Tim Curry and Ray from Sister Sister? Just me then! I remember first watching the 192 minute two part miniseries when I was probably far too young to be watching something about a demented clown who tortures and kills children. I actually owned a VHS of it and I'm pretty sure it's still somewhere in my parents house. My sister and my friends and I would watch it at sleepovers and terrify each other throughout the viewing by making noises and jumping out at each other. I was terrified of clowns as a child and it didn't help that my aunt was obsessed with them and had clown paintings and figurines all over her house which didn't exactly make me excited about visiting her. The sight of Tim Curry as Pennywise still gives me chills, that one scene where he appears behind the sheets on the washing line in the garden haunts me. That being said, it is quite a cheesy film so I was very curious to see how the reimagining would compare to the miniseries.

I wasn't overly excited to see it which was probably a good thing because my expectations weren't too high and therefore I was left pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I liked how it was set in the eighties and had that nostalgic feeling, like with Stranger Things or films I watched as a kid like The Goonies. The actors were all amazing, the casting was perfect. However I wasn't that impressed with the actual clown. I think it's just the CG effects I don't really like, the original film was terrifying because Tim Curry looked so real as the clown whereas the effects in this new one just distracted me and took me out of the realistic world they created. I'm very interested to see the sequel and who they cast to play the adults. I don't know how much it's going to differ from the book as I never finished it because it's so damn long and boring, so if you did manage to read it let me know what you thought of this adaptation. 


Mother! is yet another film that will divide people. If you don't like Darren Aronofsky's other film's chances are, this won't be for you, but if you liked Black Swan, Requiem For A Dream or The Wrestler then definitely check this out. I chatted with a few people about this after I watched it and I did find there was something lacking in it for me, I couldn't quite put my finger on it although I did enjoy it. I love that his films really engage you in the main character and the way it was shot I found myself getting more and more frustrated the way Jennifer Lawrence's character did. I loved her performance (apart from her wig which was a bit distracting) and I am so excited to see Michelle Pfeiffer on the big screen again, she was incredible as she is in everything she stars in. If you're in any way faint of heart, you might want to give this a miss because without giving anything away, the last half an hour or so or the film builds into quite disturbing and difficult to watch scenes that left me feeling very uneasy. However to me, that's the mark of a great filmmaker, to engage his or her audience and make them feel something intense. 


Finally, my music recommendation is the collaboration between Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett. I'm a big Kurt Vile fan and I knew of Courtney Barnett but hadn't ever really listened to her music. Their album has only just been released but I've been listening to the few songs I'd heard over and over again and I'm loving the combination of these two incredibly talented people. I'm looking forward to giving the album a proper listen and hoping I get to see them perform it live. 


So those are my recent recommendations. I've just started Mindhunter on Netflix and I already love it so I'll be featuring that in my next post as well as Blade Runner 2049 which I saw last week. If there's anything you loved recently whether it's a film or tv show or music, please tell me because I'm always looking for new things to get into and let me know if you've watched any of these and what you thought.

Emma x

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Sun Cuts Like A Knife To Shine

It's been a while since I've written anything style related here, I seem to have skipped most of the Summer and gone straight to Autumn which is fine by me. The basic bitch that I am, I look forward to Autumn every year. I love the weather, the darker makeup, layering my clothes again etc. I've bought a few things over the past few weeks that I'm looking forward to wearing once the weather gets a bit colder and it seems to be going that way faster than I had anticipated. 

We went for a wander around town at the weekend and stopped off at one of my favourite locations, Dublin Castle to enjoy a coffee in the sun and we took some photos while we were there. The weather was quite mild that day so it busy in the park and having not taken outfit photos in a while I was a bit anxious at first and the staring tourists didn't help things. I suppose you can't blame people for wondering what you're doing taking your coat off and posing on the steps when they're trying to get past you, but thankfully everyone was friendly and thought it was funny and even joked about being in the photos with me. It's something that even after seven years of blogging, still makes me uncomfortable. No matter how many times I take outfit photos, if there's people around I freeze up and panic and have to stop which probably seems like the weirdest contradiction because I post said photos online for anyone to see. I still feel weird when someone I know tells me they read my blog, even if they say they like it, it's just a confirmation that I'm not in fact sending this off out into cyberspace and no one sees it which is what happens in my head. I don't know where that tangent came from but suffice to say, things are not always as they seem in the world of social media, who'd have thought!? 

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Coat- Marks and Spencer (similar here, here and here)
Shirt- New Look (similar here and here)
Trousers- New Look (similar here, here and here)
Boots- Penneys/ Primark (similar here, here and here)
Scarf- Vintage (similar here, here and here)
Earrings- Marks and Spencer
Ring- Vintage (it was my grandmother's)
Makeup- Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance palette and Clinique Nude Pop lipstick

I've been having a bit of a seventies inspired moment lately. An era I thought just wasn't for me (style wise) now seems to be giving me lots of inspiration. It could be all the seventies music and film I've been listening to and watching lately or just an unconscious absorption of all of the trends that have been prevalent on social media over the past few months. There's definitely some strong David Bowie Ziggy Stardust era inspiration happening with the gold hoops and neck scarf. I also kind of felt like a seventies newscaster but with a disco twist in the form of the silver lurex sock boots.

These boots were everywhere last year, Zara and Topshop had them and you can find very similar ones from River Island and & Other Stories as well as a few others I have linked above. I loved the Zara ones last year but I didn't buy them so when I saw these ones in Penneys for only €15 I bought them straight away.

I saw this trench on Lily Pebbles a few months ago and I had to have it. It's cotton but still heavy so it's perfect for Autumn and I love that it's a different colour to the usual trench coat. It's sadly unavailable now, but again I've linked some similar items above in case anyone likes it.

As you can see, I'm still loving the Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance palette, you can read more of my thoughts on it and see it in action in this post.

I'm hoping I won't leave it so long between style posts in future as I love putting them together despite my anxiety over posing in public. I'll have a What I've Been Loving Recently post next, it's been a while since the last one and I have lots of film, Tv and music recommendations to share with you all.

Until then, leave me a comment and tell me how you're doing!

Emma x

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick

If you're a makeup fanatic like myself, you'll probably have heard of British makeup artist Pat McGrath. If you haven't heard of her, you will most definitely have seen her work at some point. It's no surprise, as it seems to be a continuous trend with successful makeup artists, that she started her own range of products two years ago. However in true Pat McGrath fashion, she didn't do it the usual way, instead she began her line with Gold 001, a single pigment sold as a kit with a spatula, mixing liquid and a container. 

She has since released limited runs of eyeshadow kits, highlighting kits and lip kits and most recently the MatteTrance lipsticks. I've been so tempted to buy her products before, but they're incredibly hard to get hold of here in Ireland. When I saw her first posting about the MatteTrance lipsticks on her Instagram I decided I'd have to treat myself (for my birthday) and buy one. It definitely wasn't difficult to decide on a shade, despite there being a selection of nine beautiful shades, my heart was set on Elson, a classic blue toned red. 

I placed an order from Sephora on the day they launched. There are a few options available when buying online from Sephora in Ireland. You could use the likes of Address Pal or My Mall Box which  both create an address for you to ship to in the US and then subsequently, ship your package to Ireland. I'm not sure about Address Pal, but I know with My Mall Box you can amalgamate your orders from several US websites and have them all shipped to Ireland together.

There are great advantages to using these services, first of all it means there are so many brands and websites available to us here in Ireland that ordinarily wouldn't be, it also means you can buy in US Dollars which most of the time saves you money. I'll definitely be trying one of these services in the future to order from Sephora, but this time I actually ordered from the Sephora Canada site and paid in Canadian Dollars which was $52. In USD the lipstick costs $38 so with the conversion it worked out at approximately €35. If I had ordered from the US Sephora, it would have worked out at around €31. So it was about the same price as a Charlotte Tilbury lipstick, not too extortionate in my book. Of course I don't live in Canada, but my brother does, so I had it shipped to him and he very kindly sent it on to me. 

When I was in New York I got a Sephora Beauty Insider Card and I had about 100 points on it so I got a free deluxe sample and three extra samples. There was another bonus perk for if you spend over C$50. I sadly missed my birthday bonus gift by about a week but there's always next year. That whole ordering portion of the post might not be of interest to you, but hopefully some of you will find it helpful for future reference. 


Now for the best part, the lipstick itself. I have to admit, when I first saw how the Pat McGrath Labs products were packaged I was incredibly excited to get my hands on them some day. I absolutely adore the way they are packaged inside a bag of sequins. It's such a unique and over the top way to package a product but I love it. 


Once you open the packet and try not to spill the sequins everywhere which I was entirely unsuccessful at doing, you are presented with one of the most gorgeous lipstick cases I've ever seen. As you can see below, it's a sleek black tube with gold trim and gold lips. Another unnecessary detail, but one that lipstick lovers will most definitely appreciate. As much as I'm not fussed about packaging once the product is great, if I'm spending over €30, I do expect the packaging to be something special and this lipstick is just that, truly unique and beautiful. Pat McGrath doesn't do things by halves and her love of makeup, particularly extravagant and over the top makeup, is glaringly apparent with the way in which she has designed her products. So much thought has gone into every last detail. 


As you can see Elson is such a stunning shade. I went for red because I know no matter what I'll wear it. As for the texture, I was of course wary with it being a matte finish lipstick because it can go either way, however matte formulas are improving all the time and we've come a long way from the drying, difficult to apply MAC matte formula (even though I still love and wear Ruby Woo all the time). I can honestly say this was the most smooth and easy to apply matte lipstick I've ever tried. It glided on  easily and the pigmentation is so rich you only need one layer. Like with most pigmented lipsticks I used a lip brush to perfect the edges and because the formula is so smooth it was easy to do as it didn't drag on my skin. Although it's matte, it definitely doesn't look too dry, it has a sheen to it that gives dimension so that your lips don't look flat. 


I absolutely love the shade, it's a true blue red which of course is such a flattering shade of red because it supposedly makes your teeth look whiter. I also feel like everyone can wear a blue toned red, not matter what your skin tone or hair colour. As for lasting power, I did think that because the formula is a lot more smooth than the usual matte lipstick, it comes off a bit more easily. However I didn't wear a liner and I know that would help with the lasting power of it. The trade off though is that is it a lot more comfortable to wear all day than most of the matte lipsticks I own. It also doesn't have a scent which I know will please anyone with a sensitive nose. 


As you can see I swatched some comparable matte red lipsticks so that you have a frame of reference. Left to right is MAC Lady Danger, MAC Ruby Woo, Charlotte Tilbury Red Carpet Red and finally Pat McGrath Elson. As you can see Red Carpet Red is very similar, in both shade, finish and price point, so it's a great alternative if you can't get your hands on Elson.  


Did I need another red lipstick? Absolutely not, I have more than enough that I could probably wear it every day of the year and never run out. But, this was my birthday treat to myself and I was incredibly curious to try the Pat McGrath Labs products.

The good news is, if you want to get your hands on these MatteTrance lipsticks which are currently all sold out, there is going to be a restock on the Pat McGrath website on September 16th at midnight EST and if you really want to guarantee you get one, there is a members only pre-sale happening beforehand if you sign up on her website.

In other exciting news, she is launching an "unlimited" edition collection of products later this month including eyeshadow palettes, LuxeTrance lipsticks and lip liners which all look incredible. I highly recommend following her Instagram to get a sneak peak at the new products and just for some amazing makeup inspiration in general.

Pat McGrath Labs is available from Net-a-Porter and Sephora as well as the Pat McGrath website.

Have you bought anything from Pat McGrath labs or would you like to?

Emma x

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