Posts Tagged ‘Belfast’

Adventures in Beauty

You know how when life is busy, you go about your daily business and don’t really think past the routine of what you do everyday? And then you get to the holidays and you rush from one thing to the next? Well, after to be honest a busy few years, this holiday we decided, rather than trying to fill it with too many trips, too many meet ups and rushing from one place to the next, to slow down the pace and see where the days and weeks take us around our own home and our little country.

But even though we are taking it easy, we are still busy, and trying out some new adventures – it’s the simple experiences that sometimes get forgotten. The 7 year old built a sandcastle in the sunshine for the first time! And the other day ruined his favourite shorts by climbing about 100 trees!

And sometimes, that is what these new experiences help to do – they make you look at things differently, be a little braver the next time and push you to try something new. The trees are getting higher for the 7 year old and meanwhile, the lipsticks are getting brighter for me…

I had the absolute pleasure of working with Katrina Doran from The Make up Dept in Belfast. Her day job involves transforming a human into a zombie or monster, so she was looking for opportunities to create a normal beauty look and I happily signed up to the challenge! I styled some fashion looks, she worked her beauty magic! And here are the results…

So I’ve now signed up to a Dior make up masterclass on Wednesday to try out some new lipsticks and find the colour that best works for me but more importantly, that I will actually wear. It may not be the bravest thing I’ve ever done, but sometimes we have to remember to push those boundaries – it’s always good to see where a new challenge will take you!


Afternoon Tea with Benefits


When the girls get together, there is often little time for silence.  It’s my favourite thing about friends – the constant chat, generally with food in hand, catching up on all life’s trials and new opportunities.  I don’t know about you but unless I set aside time, life gets busy and my friendships end up a text chat.

So of course I have the perfect t remedy for that;). In fact, it’s the perfect place for you to have that much needed catch up (over some delicious snacks) and get a little bonus make up session thrown in too!

Admittedly, I don’t love Afternoon Tea.  I love the idea of it, and of course, as mentioned, the get together, but the actual food doesn’t really appeal to me.  I am a lover of savoury food so the sweet layer is wasted on me, I’m not even interested in the take home box!  So for me to recommend an Afternoon Tea is a big ask…and I’m recommending this one!  From the milkshake to begin, to the perfect chocolate brownie at the end (and a bonus glass of champagne in the middle!), this Afternoon Tea provided balance – you came away feeling full but not too full, and even though I only had the one sweet thing…well, that’s what friends are for;)

We made our booking for 1.30pm, just enough time to enjoy each part of the Afternoon Tea with lots of coffee refills, a quick refresh at the ladies in between, and then off to claim a seat at the make up masterclass.

The first class required two volunteers – one day and one night.  The girls took us through step by step, introducing us to new products each time.  The second class had one volunteer and while one make up artist chatted his way through the products, bringing them around to demonstrate, the other applied to the model.  Personal preference – I liked the first method as I feel I learned more strategies for application and could ask the MUA’s questions in between. My mum, who was with me the second time, liked how she got to chat about the products as they came around and explore them a little more independently.  The make up artists are all from the beauty department In House of Fraser, so you can and speak to them individually at any time too.











Of course there is no obligation to buy any products (not that you can do this at the session anyway), but both times, we went to the counters in House of Fraser for a browse and finally, a shop!  Within the package offered this time, you receive a £10 voucher to spend with Benefit.

Looking to get together with the girls, or a much needed catch up with your mum? This Saturday (22 July) from 1pm-5pm, Malmaison is having another afternoon tea – forget the texts and the social media and get together for a catch up with friends – I would definitely recommend!





Bubbacue, Backpacks and A Bit of Blue

Recently I was at the re-launch of Bubbacue, a delicious Barbeque themed restaurant in Belfast.  Actually that synopsis doesn’t do it justice at all!  Bubbacue actually tell us on their website that they ‘Embrace the art of the relaxed American tradition which uses smoke to tenderize meat’, a method that produces delicious results!  And you have to try their sides (the macaroni cheese!!) and actually my favourite, their lemonade!

Although the calendar said August, the weather said November but that was not going to deter me.  Like many of us, I like to make the best of the time still called ‘summer’ and wear the wardrobe that works with the name!  I took a quick trip to Dublin a few weeks ago, and having spent much of the holidays day tripping with my little boy, I had managed to miss all the sales up to this point.  Zara is my favourite store to shop the sales in, I always find something that will carry me through to the next season at a bargain price.  But my focus this time was different. I wanted to find a few extra pieces for a few days in the sunshine.  So I took the opportunity to scour the final sale rails, loading my arms with lots of changing room options.

I found a beautiful blue dress with pretty stitched detail along the bust.  I tried it on and knew it would be perfect for the heat of the Croatian sun as it was floaty to where it fell, just around knee length.  It was only as I strolled along the beach front that I realised there were pockets in the strangest of places.  Yes, it was actually a skirt!  But in the name of wearing cutting edge fashion, well actually, because I loved the look of it as a dress, I continued to wear it this way.

So now being home and still having a little tan on my skin, I ignored the autumnal weather and headed out for dinner.  I added some straps to the dress (being small chested, I don’t really suit strapless tops), threw on my denim jacket and wore it with my trusty trainers.  And as I was now taking any spare opportunity to get back to the routine of blogging, I wore my new Mi-Pac, gifted from Menarys, filled with magazines, books and my laptop to complete the look.  Not only do I love the soft touch and the polka dot design of this backpack, but with it’s interior including plenty of pockets and separations, it is perfect for carrying anywhere!

Thanks to Jane Williams at JPR, all the lovely staff at Bubbacue and Menarys for sending me my backpack!


Learning the Value of Alone Time at The Culloden Estate and Spa

Put up your hand if you are reading this in the moments in between all the things you ‘have’ to do?!

Life is busy, it’s hard to find quiet, and if you are anything like me, even when you do, you think of that one thing you meant to google earlier in the day!  It’s full of demands – some of these demands are placed on you by yourself, some placed on you by others.  But regardless of the source of the demand, it still has the ability to cause pressure when sometimes all you need is a break.  I have tried over the past few years to relieve the demands and take a bit of time out.  Time without housework, people, work – time for me to do what I want to do.  After spending many years in the company of others 24/7, I nearly had to re-learn how to be alone.

Hastings Hotels gave me the chance to rectify this – well for one morning anyway!  I had a few days where my little boy went off on adventures with family, so after I had spent the first day on the usual clear out (how is it possible to gather so much paperwork?!), day two was dedicated to relaxation.

During the summer holidays, one day easily rolls into the next so of course, I had thought of the great plan to take my relaxing day, but hadn’t yet booked it.  I phoned The Culloden on Sunday and was pleased to hear there was availability.  Big plus Number One!

I had been gifted the Spa-Tisserie Experience which included one Spa Treatment (55 minute treatment choosing from ESPA Aromatherapy Full Body Massage, ESPA Aromatherapy Facial, ESPA Body Envelopment, Manicure or Pedicure) followed by Afternoon Tea.

On arrival, I was greeted and given a quick tour before changing and entering the Relaxation Room before my massage.  After enough time to sit back, relax and flick through a few pages of Harper’s Bazaar, my therapist Chris brought me into the Treatment Room.  As you would expect, the mood was calm, the music relaxing and the decor conducive to helping the mind and body unwind.  I had opted for a full body massage; squeeze out any lingering stresses before getting ready to welcome a new term.  I was given the option of a relaxing or energising massage (I went with energising) and then given different oil options to suit my mood.  With just the right amount of pressure given, the massage had the desired effect, thank-you Chris!

I had booked my Afternoon Tea for an hour after my massage, giving me the time to head back to the relaxation room to finish my magazine, before heading for a quick dip in the pool.  Perfection.  There was also a sauna available but I can’t do the heat!  At this point, I’ll just add my one request – room signs!  As you enter the spa, there are no signs on the doors.  In my complete state of relaxation I got a little disorientated and nearly disturbed someone else’s massage time! Mind you, I would have happily snuck in to a Treatment Room for a little more pampering;)

When ready, I headed to Zest Juice Bar which was situated just by the pool, to enjoy my Afternoon Tea.  Greeted with a cup of coffee and a fresh iced water, I waited for the my treats to arrive.  I am a savoury girl at heart so happily devoured the delicate sandwiches and scones smothered in cream with a fresh cup of hot coffee (the service was impeccable!).  After a short breather, I dipped in to the sweet treats but they defeated me – thankfully they could be boxed up ready for home!

I still find it very hard to be alone and do nothing however – I managed to write most of this post while dining!

Unfortunately my time had come to an end, I was due to set my ‘me time’ to the side and get back to duties.  A quick shower in the spacious changing room and on the road again, feeling relaxed and revitalised!

I had an amazing experience in the Culloden Spa – it is a place to enjoy time alone or with others but whatever your grouping, a place to feel completely at home and just breathe.  Thank you to the Culloden Estate and Spa, Hastings Hotels and Michael at Duffy Rafferty for this experience.


Beauty Bootcamp

Anyone who reads silverbrogues regularly will know that I will happily spend my hard earned cash on new clothes or shoes, but it takes an arm twist to invest in beauty products.  I have my beauty routine, I style my hair pretty much the same way every day – some may call it habit, but if it works, why change it?!

Well, that is where Beauty Bootcamp steps in. Started by TV3’s beauty editor Liz Dwyer after spending time behind the scenes and watching  transformations happen, she decided she could provide an opportunity for all women to have a taster of the techniques needed for the everyday transformation.  With a team of international make-up artists and hair stylists, help is on hand to give you the opportunity to learn the techniques you know you want to learn and a few more besides!

So how does it work? A full day includes tips on hair and beauty.  We began the morning with coffee in hand and a browse of the make up and styling products on offer.  I had actually signed up to go alone, but ended up going with a friend.  However, there were many mixed groups of people – some alone, some part of a family, some friends, all ages, all females looking for a little guidance whether they had lost their way or never really got started.

We were given the choice of which area we would like to begin with. We chose hair with many of the group interested in curls. The last time my hairdresser cut my hair, she left it a little longer so I could style it with curls but of course my hair remains straight everyday.  I ultimately wanted to know the quickest way to curl my hair so it was an everyday option and what to do if it went wrong!

Beauty BootcampBeauty BootcampBest tips learned when curling hair?  If a strand goes wrong, let it cool before you try again.  After you have curled, don’t be afraid to put your hands through it – you can always go back and make a few changes.

Next up, make-up.  We were going to learn both how to chose products and how to apply them for an everyday look into an evening look.  Having a hands on approach definitely meets my learning style – if I don’t practically try it out, I will always find it hard to apply it.  The make-up products needed were available for us to use including brushes.  Naomh took us step by step through the layers, with a final focus on the eyes and lips.  I love heavy evening make-up but was unsure of how to soften this for the day.

Beauty BootcampBeauty Bootcamp

Best beauty tips – first up, buy yourself a beauty blender sponge.  Great for blending your foundation and concealer, but also useful for fixing mistakes! Using when it is damp is best; recently someone mentioned applying your primer with it first so it doesn’t soak up your foundation.  Secondly, you know when you are applying liner to your top lashes and then you get to the gap between your lashes and your nose. On that part, apply the liner along the inner eye line to make it look more natural. And finally, when putting on lipstick, apply, blot and apply again. That way, your first application should encourage a longer lasting hold.

Ultimately I think however, practising the techniques is the essential component to finding out how to make it work for you.  Time consuming, but true.  And again, that is what a day at Beauty Bootcamp offers.  Time to explore, try out and also to get expert advice.  The girls were great – they showed different techniques on you and then gave you the chance to do the same.  The professionals were  there to help with any questions or to guide you when fixing any mistakes.  You also came away with a handbook which gave a round up of all you had learned.

My conclusion.  Beauty Bootcamp offers a great day out with the girls where you come away relaxed, having learned an array of new skills.  At a price of £65 it seems a bit steep for anyone who just wants to ‘try something new’, but a £20 discount comes with a friend.  And it is a whole day where you can literally revamp your beauty regime.  My tip – go with a few things you really want to learn, write down any questions, and photograph or video what you learn on the day.

Thanks to Liz and CMPR for the chance to attend Beauty Bootcamp and Naomh for organising the day.


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