Weekday Pampering

I don't typically like to acquire loads of full-size beauty masks unless I can buy them in travel sizes first to test out. In collaboration with Octer, I had the chance to use their site for some of my shopping needs. Thankfully, after perusing the site, I searched for Peter Thomas Roth masks and stumbled upon a few gift sets, and variety kits. Octer is a fashion platform that allows customers to find their favourite retail products in one destination.

You simply search the product(s) you're seeking, then within a click you can navigate a multitude of items to instantly compare pricing and shop, all in one sitting. Octer started as an app back in 2014, but with rapid growth they later expanded into a global platform for fashion retail, now offering a roster of brands from the high-street to designer.
I spotted a deal on these particular masks, so I purchased two boxes. With the boxes combined it comes to about six total facials per mask type (= approximately, three entire mask applications per tube), with six tubes per box. Then, I purchased a couple full-size items afterward since I wasn't expecting such a great price on the kit. Here are my thoughts on what I have tested.

#1 - Irish Moor Mud: Purifying Black Mask: The only Moor Mud experience I've had has only been in spas, so I was looking forward to trying this at-home mask treatment.

This mineral-rich mask is made of nine-thousand year-old Irish Moor Mud (known to be the highest–level of organic content in the world), volcanic ash (reducing fine lines and winkles), activated charcoal to help wash away impurities and toxins, and Black Hijiki seaweed (providing essential nutrition and hydration). Some people have said that they experienced redness after usage, but I didn't have this problem even with my sensitive skin. This mud mask has no ordour.

I really enjoyed this mask, and it worked well for me! It has a slight warming effect when applied, and this left my skin feeling smooth, rejuvenated, and yes, it did seem to minimise pores after multiple uses. I do not have dry skin, but use a night moisturiser after masks typically. I give this mud mask a 9.6 out of 10.

#2 - Irish Moor Mud Purifying Cleansing Gel: This same Irish Moor Mud is harvested by hand from the Irish countryside. This claims to help to dissolve pore-clogging, refine skin texture, and rejuvenates the skin for a healthier complexion. With many of the same active ingredients as the mask, the gel additionally has willow bark, lactic acid, and tea tree oil. It has a very faint earthy sea smell that's almost undetectable, and I didn't mind it.

This formula is a gel, and comes out with a black tint, then lathers easily into a light grey/green foamy colour. It rinsed off well, and left my skin feeling great.

Note: If you have dry skin, I would say to use a great moisturiser afterward. I have normal to combination skin overall, and this cleans off dirt and makeup well, leaving my skin matte.

With using the cleansing gel, I am very happy with this product, and I did notice a difference in my skin. My skin was very smooth to the touch. After using the product six times so far, it gets a 8 out of 10, because I think if you buy this, then it probably should be used in conjunction with the Irish Moor Mud Mask for the full experience.

#3 - 24K Gold Pure Beauty Cleansing Butter: For deluxe/trial sizes a spatula or sponge is not included. This butter is made with honey, chamomile (butter), and katsuri turmeric.
If you have oily skin do be warned as you'll probably not like this unless you use a dab of product. I do not have oily skin, and even with using this as directed, I felt that the formula overall seemed a tad oily ... more than I expected. It washed off with ease, and left my skin very soft and hydrated after using.  The scent is a lovely aroma (more of honey), however chamomile is distinct as a subtle and pleasantly lingering aroma.

Alternative use: In the end, I decided that the product would be best suited on my legs as a hydrating butter I liked the minuscule speckles of gold that the cleansing butter left on my skin. This cleansing butter was not for me. *This product gets a 5.9 out of 10 if using as directed.

I am only on mask four, and so far my favourites are the Irish Moor Mud, and the Irish Moor Cleansing Gel. I will share more about the other masks in the future. Have you used any of these Peter Thomas Roth masks? 

Have you shopped using the Octer site? Which mask would you try? 
The goods: Peter Thomas Roth products-c/o Octer. Jewellery/Baubles-Nordstrom, Serving Tray-Vintage, *All opinions are my own and honestly expressed. This post is brought to you by Octer, a Fashion Tales Sponsor. To search more brands, and shop the Octer site click here.

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Flaming Discoveries

I'm back with a spicy post today, and a trio of new hot sauces to share. Last time, I introduced you to Fuego Box along with five diverse hot sauces for the flavour driven palate—whether mild or incredibly intensifying. Keeping the "summer grilling" theme, this time we used these bespoke hot sauces during a recent late-afternoon BBQ party.  

The grilling feast was decidedly moved from the outdoors to an indoor area, because sadly it started to rain (which wasn't on the weather forecast). But, we're a spontaneous bunch and tend to go with the flow of things.

First up was the LaMar Sauce, a Caribbean Lime hot sauce originating from a little family-owned restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah. With a slight nod of island flavour this hot sauce is infused with green Serrano chili peppers, and fresh lime. Try it on poultry, or blend it with mayo or yoghurt for a quick sandwich spread.

The Scovie award-winning Fat Cat "Cat in Heat" was next, which was a spiralling staircase of heat droplets with a fiery swagger in your mouth. With every moment passing the level of heat increasingly raises a wee bit to another step. That's right, it's a super bold sauce with a brief lingering presence. Fat Cat "Cat in Heat is a creole-inspired concoction made of chipotle, habaneros, roasted tomatoes, cilantro, and ghost peppers with dashes of smoked paprika. I used it on our breakfast where I made shakshouka, which was a teardrop of brilliance for added spice. The additional smoky flavour took it to a whole other level.

Saving the best for last was Old St. Augustine Snake Bite Datil (Datil as in the word "Paddle") Sauce, which comes from the elusory Datil pepper only grown in St. Augustine, Florida. Personally, I felt that this bottle outranked them all because of the mid-range of heat, and the versatility. It has a tad bit of fruitiness with a piquant peppery notes in taste.

The hot sauce titles in this bunch were fantastic, and our favourites were actually all of them, but for different cuisines. Regarding grilling and outdoor seasoning to spice things up, I'd suggest  Old St. Augustine, and La Mar Sauce. Later on, I also used the La Mar Sauce Caribbean Lime on grilled nachos, as well as an onion and cucumber salad.
The menu consisted of vegetarian, meat, and fresh seafood options, and we tested out the Old St. Augustine on grilled salmon, prawn, and smoked meat varieties. Of course most of the guys loved the spicy heat, but for most of us ladies we lasted far longer than some who tasted Fat Cat, "Cat in Heat" sauce (a little goes a long way). Although, it wasn't as severe as the ghost pepper sauce from this gathering.

For those who like it a tad milder, yet still want a hot sauce that provides a semi-spicy and flavourful experience, the LarMar Caribbean Lime sauce is a great choice. Surprisingly, it's amazing on Irish whiskey white cheddar cheese too!

For others who like a proper dose of heat, whether mild or super spicy, be sure to grab a Fuego Box of bespoke sauces here.

What do you think of these Fuego Box sauces? Which one would you try?
The goods: Old St. Augustine Snake Bite Datil, Fat Cat "Cat in Heat," and La Mar Caribbean Lime Hot Sauce-c/o-Fuego Box *All opinions expressed are my own. Checkered mason jar tops-eBay, Ghanaian wooden bowl with utensils-family owned, Blue willow bread bowl, Lace tablecloth-Vintage, Cutting board-Art+Cook (Buy Similar).


Dinner With Martha & Marley Spoon

In collaboration with Marley Spoon, I created a summer feast for this tabletop series with an abundance of flavour. With just under nine or so weeks left to enjoy the summer season, these fresh ingredients and international combinations will take your palate to a happy place with plenty of zest to go around.  

Marley Spoon is a food delivery service that have launched a new partnership along with homemaking guru, Martha Stewart, called "Martha & Marley Spoon." Geared toward making cooking tasty and simple during the week for families, the service provides quality meals that are both nutritious and exciting.  

The global delivery menu includes everything from Herb Baked Shrimp to Steak & Pepper Kebabs. Each Martha & Marley Spoon box comes with a welcome booklet, recipe cards, and pre-portioned ingredients to make it easy for anyone to create unique home cooked recipes that are even Martha approved!
With their recycling programme, and a farm-to-table zero waste philosophy, Marley Spoon is different than most meal delivery services. The menu also has a fair bit of culturally blended meals that are family-friendly, and do-it-yourself ready even for seasoned home cooks.

To continue our theme of outdoor foodie adventures, we cooked and served the diverse menu of delectable favourites, including a recipe from Marley Spoon's 'Get Grillin' section, Honey-Mustard chicken with Potato, Celery, and Apple Salad. It's also Global BBQ Month, so it was a perfect addition to our gathering.
Delivery Pricing: varies by locale: 2-person meals boxes twice a week, start at 48 USD/ 38,00 €/£29.80/55.00 AU

Sweet, Tart, & Savoury: 
The charred chicken dish shared by chef, Liberty Fennell was inspired by the UK team, and would work perfectly for a gathering for summer grilling. Packed with robust flavour, the chicken was bathed in whole grain mustard, and honey to create an elegant coating. The surprising salad addition using tart Granny Smith apples blended with red potatoes actually balanced the dish making it delightfully refreshing.

Next up was the Miso Cod with Bamboo Rice meal from chef, Jennifer Aaronson, which was delicious. Fish and rice always work well as culinary fusions, so the starchiness of the bamboo rice only added to the overall harmony of flavouring in this dish. I've only had miso salmon, so the miso cod was different for me. The miso gave the broiled cod a marvellous sweet glaze on top, and was a saviour in helping balance the bite that spinach typically gives. It's was a great dish, and a personal favourite.

I also made Martha's rustic lemon tart recipe from the archives, and it did not disappoint!
The goods: Miso Cod w/Bamboo Rice Box, and Honey Mustard Charred/Grilled Chicken Box-Courtesy of Marley Spoon, Beet patterned bowls-World Market, Eco-printed kitchen towels-c/o Gudrun Sjoden. All opinions expressed are my own. *Rustic Lemon Tart recipe here (modified and made with beet sugar and splenda). 

Have you tried Marley Spoon? What meal would you cook?
View the latest Martha & Marley Spoon menu. Marley Spoon serves UK, USA, Germany, Australia, and Netherlands. Get $30 off your first box with code: DINNER30, or save £15 off your first box with code: LETSEAT. 

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Treasured Soles

It wouldn't be a proper summer without the ability to wear sandals, in my opinion. Although, I tend to love donning sandals mostly throughout the year, it's often not feasibly possible because of climate conditions. But, when summertime comes around, I do go all in! 

This designer spotlight is all about handmade footwear, specifically Grecian sandals by designer Elina Linardaki. You've probably seen some of her incredible creations donned by some of fashion's elite as well as stylish bloggers alike. The inspiration for the unique handcrafted collection personifies fearless fashionistas, whether Bohemian aristocrats or eclectic nomads. The diverse line of shoes is created for women who don't mind standing out; women who confidently express their personality with fashion and style.

As a person with an adoration for vibrant colour and intricate adornments, surprisingly, I don't have any shoes quite like Linardaki's creations. The designer kindly sent these magical styles, and it couldn't have been more timely. I wore these lovely sandals to the beach, strutting my way to brunch, shopping on the weekend, and will likely wear them for a little getaway for my birthday (which was actually Monday) to continue festivities on the weekend.

Upon first viewing of the sandals I could entirely understand why some would be a tad obsessed with these—it's all in the mere details. I wasn't even out and about for half an hour before someone complimented me wearing these. The designer embeds elements like gold-plated braiding, Swarovski crystals, friendship patterned yardage, and even semi-precious stones in the styles offered.

Buckled, studded, feathered, and charmed? Whatever your style is, whether it be extravagantly bold or traditionally classic, there are exuberant options for everyone.

The Athens based company was founded in 2006 and produces everything from handmade leather shoes to memorable accessories. And, these are definitely memorable! Since each style is made by hand, there are defined details that make every piece special.

Some of my favourite details are feathers, and little charms, so both styles stole my heart. I am wearing sandals from the Luxury collection in styles "Erinya," and "Maude." The Erinya sandals are motivated by Greek mythology of Erinyes or Furies, the winged deities of vengeance. Feathery details, and metallic studs adorn this style. "A statement piece, made for the ladies who are not afraid to kick some ass," the designer said.

The Maude sandals are playful and brightly hued with multi-coloured pom-poms, golden coin charms, and the characteristics of the sea. The Maude sandal was influenced by exotic islands, and wanderlust living. It's essentially designed for the elegant gypsy soul in mind. Both styles are also handmade with fine leather. Take a look at some of my favourite styles below.
(Above) From Left to Right-Sandals: "Ever After," "Venus" Swarovski original crystals White Opal, "Madagascar," "Marrakech," and "Gipsy Spell."

What do you think of Elina Linardaki's sandals?  

The Goods: Sandal Maude, and Sandal Erinya-c/o Elina Linardaki, Belt-ASOS, Straw Neon Hat-(Buy it here), Army green duster-(Buy Similar), Tank-H&M. 

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