29 December 2013

iRobot Roomba 760 vacuum cleaning for pets and allergies

Dear diary,

I won't write a post about the things I've gotten for Christmas but one thing I had to talk about.

My mother gave me some money for Christmas and I purchased the perfect gift: a vacuum robot that cleans on its own so I can spend more time on my blog.

iRobot Roomba

Two weeks ago I finally decided on going to the allergist and they tested me for different allergies. It appears that I'm allergic to almost everything: some trees (olive, palm and pine), grasses, mites, cats, dogs and some other I don't recall. My allergies started when I was over 25 years old and it didn't bother me that much but as I'm getting older and weaker (I suppose) they have been improving or mutating and getting stronger and more annoying. This has also caused me an additional problem related to the fact that I'm not able to breathe normally as my nasal passage ways are almost always completely obstructed.

About three years ago I started having some problems with my voice getting hoarse. At first I didn't mind much as it went away after a few days and it didn't reappear until many months later. When it happened more frecuently I started worrying and I finally decided to go to the doctor. I've been visiting a speech therapist twice a week for an hour, but after 6 months and no improvement they put me on the waiting list for surgery: they have to cut out a nice polyp that I have gathered on my right vocal chord which keeps me from producing sounds above whisper volume.

The Allergist gave me a lot of written recommendations and as I cannot get rid of my cat, she's been with me since before the allergies came, I settled for the Roomba device instead. I was lucky enough to find a web site that was selling the 760 model with a 156€ discount.

We have programmed it to clean the house 3 times per week. The first time I got back home after it had done it's job it looked like the floor had been polished.

After two weeks my cat is finally getting used to the robot but she's maintaining a safe distance. She watches it carefully from the couch as she has found out that the robot is incapable of climbing up.

For the love of sharing,

27 December 2013

After Christmas mellow

Dear diary,

Sadly Christmas is over and we only have New Year to look forward to. But I'm still in celebration mode: I've taken a couple of days off from work and I've packed my bags for a one-day trip, just to relax and take a break from the holiday frenzy.

We had some Paradores points to cash in before the end of the year so we decided for one Parador/Hotel nearby. But on the way over we stopped at a big shopping centre as I had to go to Primark and buy me some pajamas. Tanya Burr mentioned Primark in one of her Vlogmas and said they had the cutest pajamas. As we don't have a store nearby I've never been to a Primark before today, this is what I got (among other things, of course, lol):

Pijama selfie

Before going to sleep I'm taking a bath using my last Twilight bath bomb from LUSH and some Yankee Candles:

Lush bath bomb & Yankee candles

But before that I'm anxious to try out the Glamglow Supermud I got at http://www.feelunique.com:

Glamglow Supermud and Youthmud set
We are also going to have a nice dinner at the hotel restaurant, I'll try to remember to take some pictures as I tend to forget to photograph food, I get sidetracked by how yammy and delicious it all seems and only remember my camera when my plate is completely empty.

For the love of food,

22 December 2013

Christmas lottery

Dear diary,

Yay! Christmas has started, at least here in Spain.

Since 1812 the Christmas lottery has meant the unofficial start of the Christmas holidays, it's commonly known as the "health day", I'll come back to that later.

The drawing of the numbers is done differently only for this particular day.

Firstly, there are two spherical vessels:
Sorteo Lotería Nacional El Gordo de Navidad
The biggest one containing 100,000 wooden balls, each with a unique 5-digit number on it.

The smaller vessel also contains wooden balls with the different prizes written on them:

1 for the "fat" one: El Gordo - 4,000,000€  - 400,000€
1 for the second prize           - 1,250,000€  - 125,000€
1 for the third prize              - 500,000€    - 50,000€
2 for the fourth prizes          - 200,000€    - 20,000€
8 for the fifth prizes            - 60,000€      - 6,000€
1,794 for the small prizes      - 1,000€         - 100€

People usually buy a tenth of a bill: "décimo", as it costs 20€ and not many people can afford to buy a whole bill so if you get lucky you have to divide the winning amount by 10 (second column).

The décimo can also be split again into smaller parts and sold from as low as a few cents, but those are not official lottery tickets. Someone buys one or more décimos and keeps them somewhere safe and prints out some smaller parts of that particular number to sell out, most of the time the price includes a small donation fee for some non-profit organization who will destine it to a good deed.

Secondly, all the 1,807 prizes are drawn by children aged 8-13 attending the San Ildefonso school and they sing the results in front of the public and the TV cameras for the national wide live feeding.

This year I only had 3 décimos, one I bought in Formentera, another in Santiago de Compostela and the third one, I buy every year to a friend of mine, is from my home town:
Décimos de Lotería Nacional sorteo de Navidad
And no guys, I've had no great luck so, as we use to say over here when you aren't one of the lucky winners: at least you have your health! That's why everybody is calling the 22nd December the health day. No winners just healthy people, lol.

I only get one of my 20€ back and surely I'll exchange that for a El Niño ticket: that's the second biggest lottery drawing in the year, it's held on January 6th, coinciding with the Three Kings or Wise Men festivity. This is when the Spanish children get their presents, even though more and more are changing to Christmas day in order to be able to play with them before school starts on January 7th.

Good luck or good health to y'all!

19 December 2013

Christmas treats

Dear diary,

As a kid I didn't care much for any kind of nut, I found they had no taste and where too dry for me to like them.

Every Christmas my mother used to fill the house with Christmas treats, what to her meant lots and lots of walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds and such.

I am also not a fan of marzipan and the only thing I did like were the "polvorones" and "mantecados", these are a kind of crumbly and soft mini-shortcakes made of flour, sugar, milk and, yes you guessed it, nuts. You're supposed to take them all in your mouth and try to speak out the word "Pamplona", it's a bit disgusting when you think of it but hey, you don't mess with tradition right? Normally you'd spit out some of the cake when pronouncing the p's and everybody around would have a good laugh.

When I started working at my current job I got some "turrón" given to me for Christmas, as I'd never liked it I wanted to give them to my boss but he convinced me I should try those as he claimed they were much better than the any of the other brands out there.

Turrón is kind of a nougat (not much, in my opinion) and is made of honey, sugar, egg white and toasted almonds. It's normally only eaten around Christmas and you have two original varieties, although some new ones, such as chocolate are gaining ground. They are commonly referred to hard or soft, although their real names refer to the town where they originated from: Alicante (hard) and Xixona (soft). The soft one is more like a very oily paste and the hard one is made with whole almonds surrounded by a caramelized and hard sugary surface.

Here is a glimpse of a variety pack I purchased this year:
Zaral dulces navideños
So the little ones wrapped like sweets are the polvorones, the round white one is the hard turrón and then I have two of the soft ones, the normal variety is the more yellow toned and the dark brown one I haven't tasted yet so I'm curious to find out if I like it more or not.

With the crisis and all we stopped getting them for free but I found out where to buy them: we have an almond factory in town and they make a small production so you have to get them early in December, I got these mid-November, I think. That's a way to tell you how much I did like them.

Merry Christmas to all food lovers out there!

16 December 2013

New find

Dear diary,

I've found a new use for my shower caps, I normally use the ones you get at hotels.

When on vacation I like to take as many as I can get, you know that they refill the amenities on a daily basis so I only use the first one and take the rest with me.

It's not that I've found a totally different use for the shower caps but now I'm keeping two of them in my shower. I use one between hair washes for its normal purpose and the other one I'm using when I have to wash my hair. Odd? Let me elaborate:

I first wash my hair like I normally would, rinse it and after applying my masque I like to leave it in for a few minutes so it deeply penetrates and moisturises my hair. As I keep washing my face, body and so on while the mask is working I use to get my hair wet from the showering water that splashes everywhere. Only last week I thought: why not use a shower cap over my hair to prevent it from getting wet while I wash the rest of my body?

I'm very happy with the results, especially with my Macadamia deep repair masque which is really amazing, my hair has never felt better!

So double up your shower caps as using clams isn't good for your hair either, especially on wet hair: it breaks it down.

For the love of sharing,

13 December 2013

All I want for Christmas is...

Dear diary,

I'm going to list all the products I'd like to get this Christmas. Unfortunately I'm pretty sure I won't be getting any of them, well if I'm lucky I'll maybe get one or two. If not, I'll purchase them myself as soon as I can.

I'm not much of a highlighter kind of gal but I'm pretty obsessed about:

- Hourglass Ambient Lighting palette

We can't get Hourglass here in Spain but I found an online store in the UK that ships to Spain for 15 pounds or so, unfortunately when I finally decided to purchase it, it was out of stock. I first asked a friend to get it for me when she visited her daughter in London but it was too short notice.

I already have a few Urban Decay palettes but none of them are the famous NAKED ones, this time is different, I'm in love with the:

Urban Decay NAKED 3 palette

I think I'll get a lot of use out of this one as I normally use a lot of pink shades.

I'm wanting to try out this brand as I don't own any of their products:

- The TARTE of Giving Collector's set and travel bag

I've been browsing Sephora, ULTA, Target,  etc... as a friend of mine is going to New York and I'm thinking of asking her to get me some holiday set. It's soooo much cheaper over there and we can't get hold of any of those hugely discounted sets here in Spain.

I've already tried to get this item, but to no avail, it's out of stock at Douglas:

- Crème de Rose lip balm by Chanel

I could get it online or at another store but I was given a 25% discount so that would make it a bit less of a splurge as it normally retails for 25€, if I'm not mistaken.
I have severely dehydrated lips and nothing seems to work, I've already tried the NUXE rêve de miel lip balm and it's pretty good but not amazing so I'm still on the lookout for a great lip product.
A lot of youtubers are raving about the Chanel one so I'm really wanting to try it out.

I'd love to have the chance to try out these brushes:


they are Lisa Eldrige's favourite and they seem so soft that I'd love to have them, sadly they are way too expensive for me.

This product I've actually already purchased and waiting to get delivered shortly:

- Glamglow sexy gift set

everybody is raving about this mask so I purchased it online when I got a 15% discount at www.feelunique.com, yay! Can't wait to see if it's as superb as they say.

It's been years since I've purchased any perfume so it's high time, for my all-time favourite:

- Ysatis by Givenchy

Last but not least I'd love to get some:

- Konad stamping plates

I've gotten much better at painting my nails but I'm still not prepared to decorate them freehand, I've watched some tutorials with the Konad stamping nail art and I think I could manage that. My favourite youtuber for nail tutorials is Janelle from http://www.youtube.com/user/elleandish she has the sweetest voice and her creations are absolutely gorgeous.

Well, it's not that large a list, don't you think?

Of course I have another list for some non-beauty related items but I'll keep that for myself and I need to say that I take greater joy in gifting than in receiving.

For the love of Christmas,

9 December 2013

Starwood Hotel Marqués de Riscal Luxury Collection Elciego-Spain

Dear diary,

I've just come back from a short but great vacation.
Starwood Hotel Marques de Riscal
One of my BFFs works at this psychedelic hotel, design by Frank Gehry, in a town called Elciego (Spain). We stayed at her place, not the hotel, for a few days and had the most amazing time.

We've been visiting a few vineyards, this is a picture of the so-called graveyard at R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia:
Wine bottles
Yes, those are wine bottles covered in layers and layers of mossy mold, they don't even clean them up before selling them, they just clean the top to be able to stamp a sealing wax and then they wrap them in tissue. This prevents the wine from being shaken and it also helps to keep it at the same temperature.

They make an excellent white wine, it won't peak for ages (well, for many many years, at least).

When visiting Santo Domingo de la Calzada we had the best bombón coffee ever, you can see the three different layers: condensed milk at the bottom, the coffee and the cream on top, absolutely delicious. We will go back to Café Tertulia for sure.
Bombon coffee
From there we visited Ezcaray and stopped at Troika bar for some refreshing and very well mixed gin & tonics:
Gin & Tonic
Before leaving my friend's house we made a picture of some empty wine bottles we had for lunch, dinner or whatever:
Empty wine bottles
The first time I went to visit my friend there were only 3 Caudalie spas in the world, this one in Marqués de Riscal, the original one in Bordeaux and another at the Plaza Hotel in New York. Now you can find a couple more in France, two in Portugal and one in Turkey.
Caudalie Spa Marqués de Riscal
I've tried some of their products and I'm dying to try out the Premier Cru cream my friend brought me when she came visiting in November. I just asked her to tell me the retail price as she gets an employee discount but instead she gifted me the cream as an early Christmas present.

Tati from GlamLifeGuru has mentioned this cream over and over again until she made me want it very badly, I hope it's worth it. Although I really won't mind because I love trying out new products, I can never settle for the same one for too long.

For the love of sharing,

4 December 2013

Blueberry-chocolate cake

Dear diary,

I'm taking a few days off and going to visit a friend who lives up north (brrrrr) so packing has been a major pain in the butt but I think I'm done now.

I've prepared a cake to share with my friend for breakfast.
Blueberry-chocolate cake

- 300gr flour
- 300gr sugar (I've used half white and half brown sugar)
- 90gr butter
- 100gr dark chocolate
- 125gr blueberries
- 6 large eggs
- teaspoon of baking powder
- sprinkle of vanilla

Grease and flour a tube pan. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Separate the eggs. Beat the egg yolks + butter + sugar until achieving a very smooth and creamy mixture.
Chop the dark chocolate into tiny bits.
Stir together the flour and the baking powder and then beat the flour and chocolate into the creamed mixture.
Beat the egg whites stiff and gently fold them into the mixture.
Spread the batter evenly into the pan. Add the blueberries on top.
Bake for 45 minutes.

Hopefully I'm not forgetting anything too important.

For the love of food,

1 December 2013

November empties

Dear diary,

December is finally here, I'm so excited for Christmas this year that I've already started decorating the living room and putting up the tree and the nativity? Sorry I don't know the word for "Belén". The rest of the house I leave as a Christmas-free zone, one because I don't own that many Christmas decorations and two because I feel it would be a bit too much for spanish standards.

This year I'm particularly fond of candles, mainly because all my youtube make up gurus swear by them and have them all year round. I find that Christmas is the perfect time of year to go nuts and have a lot of candles with lingering scents all around the house.

Well, I'm getting a bit off topic with this intro, I only wanted to share the products I've used up this last month.

My first dry shampoo ever:
Schwarzkopf Gliss dry shampoo
A 200ml spray bottle with a nice fresh scent. I bought it at my local drugstore Druni at just below 5€. It worked fine but I had nothing to compare it to so I recently got the Batiste one and can say that the latter is much much better that the Schwarzkopf one. As for the price difference there isn't any so I'm continuing with the Batiste even though it comes in a 150ml bottle as I feel I don't need to spray that much product to get better and more lasting results. I have very oily and thinning hair and had to wash it every other day, which is very bad for your hair as it strips it from it's protecting oils, so now I can go for 3 or even 4 days without washing my hair without it looking greasy and gross.

Next is nothing beauty related, well I suppose in a way it is that's why I've listed it here:
Listerine Zero mouth wash
My daily mouth wash, this was a sample I got at the dentist when I finally finished wearing braces. It's very soft, containing no alcohol, but still leaves a very fresh and clean breath.

Mary Kay TimeWise Repair with volu-firm skin care treatment:
Mary Kay Timewise repair day & night cream
It comes with an eye cream, which I'm still using, and a serum. The serum only lasted me a couple of months and was empty before I started blogging so I didn't keep the bottle to post a picture.

I bought it with a discount around Mother's day, I think it retails for 200€ and I got it for 120€. Even with the discount it was a pricy product but taking into account that you get 4 full size products I felt it wasn't so bad. The day and night cream come in 48gr and I loved the packaging, it has a sort of pumping device: when you open the lid you don't see any cream at all, what you have is a plastic lid with a pump on one side and the cream comes up the other side when you press the pump down. It's a very clever way as to keep the product from getting any germs and bacteria.

I liked that the day cream has a SPF 30 but the downside was that it had a very sunscreen-like scent, which I really hate.

As for the product itself, I haven't seen any improvement in the way of a more firm or tight skin, it's a bit too dense and thick for my taste as I have oily skin, didn't like the scent either so I won't be purchasing it again.

My favourite drugstore mascara to date:
Maybelline The Falsies Volum' Express mascara
The Falsies from Maybelline is highly recommended by Tanya Burr http://www.tanyaburr.co.uk so I purchased two: one for me to try and another as a present for a friend of mine. I got them for 9€ at https://www.perfumesclub.com/es/

I love that it holds my curl perfectly for hours and hours, it doesn't leave my lashes clumpy at all, I really hate it when mascaras do that, and it has never smudged on me, something a lot of other mascaras I've used always did.

MAC PRO Eye make up remover:
MAC PRO eye make up remover
Sorry for all the MAC lovers out there but this is a never ever again product for me, it stung my eyes like crazy, it left them all read and irritated.

The Nude Magique BB cream from L'Óreal:
L'Óreal Nude Magique BB cream
I didn't like it at first as it's light coverage but I've been using it almost daily this last month and I'm really loving it now that it's empty ha ha ha. I'll probably purchase it again in the future but I want to use my other foundations and BB creams, first. Even though I hate to have a shiny face this product leaves a beautiful glow, so no shine, glow is the key here. It has a scary color at first, it's a sort of taupe-grey, but when it blends into the skin it leaves a very natural and healthy looking finish. The only thing I didn't like from the beginning is the low SPF, I think it's 15 or 20, it doesn't say on the bottle: another thing I hate. Oh, and it's 30ml for just below 10€.

And last:
Dettol antibacterial hand wash
No, I'm not showing you my hand wash, I use this to clean my brushes and make up sponges. It's antibacterial and has a very nice flowery fresh scent, it says it gets rid of 99.9% of all bacteria, is antiseptic and contains aloe vera and milk proteins to soften the skin, in this case, the brushes.

I will talk about my brush cleaning routine in my next post.

For the love of sharing,