Exploring the Festival... #StressFreeFringe

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Ah Edinburgh in August, is a bit mental to say the least, don't get me wrong I love it the festival and all it brings, and probably more so this year as I'm not commuting to work through all the festival buzz. There's no denying that Edinburgh is a hive of activity, there is literally something for everyone to do, this year I wanted to make a conscious effort to get to more shows and little festivals as although I was through lots during the festival last year I didn't make it to any actual shows!

Source: @zealbuzz 
I was lucky enough to be sent a #StressFreeFringe kit from the lovely folks at Zeal Media and StressFreePrint complete with a locals guide to Edinburgh, Fringe brochure, tote bag, tartan brolly and tartan scarf, they helped me prepare for anything the Fringe could throw at me (Well almost!) Perhaps not the booty shaking at one of the shows I was forced to demonstrate, eek! StressFreePrint's #StressFreeFringe campaign aims to help bloggers take the unnecessary stresses out of their Fringe experience, a pretty nifty idea if you ask me!
OOTD; clearly colour wasn't in the order of the day that day.
P.S The tartan scarf from my #stressfreefringe kit came in handy as it was freezing!
Living just an hour away from Edinburgh on the train is definitely handy and means nipping through for a day traipsing around different shows, shops and all the festival brings is a breeze. My friend Loughlan and I were lucky enough to both have Saturday off work a few weekends back so we headed through bright and early (StressFreeFringe kit in tow) to see what our day would bring...
Train selfies and planning our world domination (Read: plans for the day.)
I'd roughly planned a few shows for us to see, all part of Freestival as we figured we'd see what ticketed shows we fancied seeing on the day, as it turns out we only went to free shows (and tipped accordingly of course!) but had a fab time watching a wide variety of performers! First up was Ellie Taylor of Snog, Marry, Avoid fame amongst others, I'm a big fan of trashy telly and have a real soft spot for this show, POD would hate me! I first saw Ellie's show in the Fringe brochure and knew instantly it was a personal must see, I think she is hilarious and definitely wanted to check her show out, as it were her show did really well, I'm talking rave reviews and shows where more people were turned away than could fit in the room, impressive right?! After a tweet from Ellie herself encouraging us to head along early we did just that (not that early though...) as we were actually the very last two people accepted into the show and had to sit on the floor with a few other people, well worth it though!
So very true! Source: @elliejanetaylor

There was definitely a recurring theme in all my early 'starred' Fringe shows (read: shows I circled in the brochure) in that much of the content/themes were about feminism, I feel this year has definitely been a year in which so many more people are standing up and speaking about what it is to be a feminist on a much bigger scale, from the blog world to the world of comedy, it is simply amazing! Politics aside, Ellie's take on feminism and the trials of waiting to get engaged were hilarious, I would've said falling of my seat funny, but sitting on the floor and all. A definite one to watch!
Finally got my mitts on some Mademoiselle Macarons, yum!

We spent our afternoon having a wee wander round the shops, buying all the things in Paperchase (I swear I have a problem), eating macarons and a cute wee dinner at Bella Italia, before heading to our next show of the day. Another pre-planned show on my behalf I fancied heading along to InCahoots; 'Some Like it Hoots' as I'd previously seen  Paul and Luke doing improv' with Shoot from the Hip at a random comedy club in London, my friend and I hadn't planned to go but had an amazing night and they were so funny! Loughlan and I headed along and again luck was on our side as we arrived just in the nick of time and though we had to stand, we weren't disappointed! Fans of sketch comedy take note, Paul and Luke work so well together and had us laughing at certain points we probably were supposed to laugh at, their comic chemistry is on point and I would without a doubt go and see them again!
After a few drinks we decided to round our night off watching another free show and something totally different, we'd had stand up, sketches and now it was time for a bit of character comedy (I hope that's the correct term) we headed off to see Billie Was Dancing with the Seagulls, the brainchild of Katie O'Brien and easily the oddest show we saw all day! If I'm honest I'd rate this show lowest out of the three we saw perhaps led by how good the other two were?! The show was dark and uncomfortable at times, but did have us laughing uncontrollably at some points (just not as much as we'd hoped.) I'd be interested to see Katie perform in the future as I think her show needs a bit of refining and working out the direction it wants to go in as it was at times a little confused, nonetheless it was interesting seeing a show which was so different to anything I've seen before, after all life would be boring if everything was the same! Can't quite say I enjoyed being forced on stage to shake my bum with other audience members though, eek!
Once again thanks to Zeal Media for kitting me out and ensuring I had a stress free day at the Fringe, I'm already looking forward to next years festival and checking out more shows! I'd love to hear if you checked out many Free Fringe Shows and what you thought?/What your Fringe 2014 highlights were?

Taking the chop; Rainbow Rooms Stirling Review

Monday, 25 August 2014

It's no surprise that bleaching and dying your hair can damage your hair, keeping up a blue mermaid mane like mine has its trials and tribulations and of late my mane has been a tad unruly... Quite simply it needed cut and by cut I mean sheared, I hadn't had my hair cut in almost a year and a chop was much needed. I am very loyal when I find a hairdressers that I am comfortable with, paranoia about bad haircuts and all that, so when my regular stylist left the salon I visited without fail every 6 weeks I was pretty gutted, I persevered for another visit trying out a different stylist but though my hair was nice enough, the service wasn't the same and it was actually more expensive, fast forward 11.5 months and I hadn't stepped foot inside a hair salon to have my hair done since.

So when Laura at AJC contacted me asking if I'd like to review a cut* at Rainbow Rooms International, Stirling, I jumped at the chance; the Stirling Rainbow Rooms opened in 2000 at the helm was (and still is) Wil Fleeson who has directed the team ever since. Wil has over 20 years hairdressing experience and has been nominated for Scottish Hairdresser of the Year at the British Hairdressing Awards 5 times!

After a warm welcome to the salon from Thalia and the rest of the front of house team, I was left in the capable hands of Wil for my much needed hair cut, anyone who knows me knows how much hair I have, 'mane' doesn't quite begin to cover it, I remember once having my hair cut by a Junior at a salon in Canterbury and it taking 3 hours! Though I have masses of hair the individual hairs are actually really fine and during my consultation Wil instantly noticed this and was able to assess through us chatting the perfect cut for me, "hello subtle inverted layers!"

To give you all a bit of an idea of how my hair was pre-Rainbow Rooms visit, let me put it this way fly-aways for days, and no amount of coconut oil treating was making much difference, enter Bonacure... Dun, dun, dun, Bonacure could possibly be the most life changing hair mask I've ever tried, yep typical Iona overreacting well I'm being deadly serious when I stress how amazing this deep-conditioning treatment was on my hair! There's lots of science behind how the Scwarzkopf Bonacure treatment works which instantly hooked my nerdy side (love me some facts and figures!) One of the lovely assistants Angel applied the BC Repair Rescue treatment to my hair and of course the famous RRI shiatsu head massage; those massages are far too good! Schwarzkopf have managed to (by accident actually) create a treatment that makes damaged hair like mine was feel silky soft and smooth again, if you fancy reading all the facts have a wee look here.

'Tools of the trade' i.e the necessary products to get my hair looking fabby!
My holy grail product is the Bonacure Repair Rescue Treatment on the left, I LOVE IT!
The powder wax was also pretty awesome, a definite one to watch...
With my locks well on their way to being back in tip top condition it was time to trim off the ends and give my hair some much needed shaping, step in hairdresser extraordinaire Wil to transform my tired barnet! I knew I needed a fair bit chopped off and my hair is definitely looking all the better for it, chatting me through my cut Wil and I chatted about the RRI Academy, the history of the Stirling salon and of course all things blue hair (Watch this space for my Winter 14/15 hair colour transformation...) and I couldn't be happier with the results, my hair feels lighter and so much easier to style and manage. I kept lots of the length and volume though, so my mermaid locks are still flowy, just much healthier!
Tah Dah! 
After a years hiatus from the hairdressers, I'm already looking forward to my next trip to the salon and will be booking my next appointment at Rainbow Rooms very soon! Any one else guilty of avoiding the hairdressers? Or struggling to find one you're happy with? I urge you to keep trying, when you find the right one it'll be worth it! If you fancy finding out a bit more about Rainbow Rooms or visiting one of their 12 Scottish salons click here!
I still can't get over how happy I am with my new haircut, a few days later it is still sitting nicely and even sits better when I put it up in a bobble! Note to self: don't leave it so long before my next haircut, eep!
*My visit to RRI Stirling was complimentary, but all opinions given are completely my own.*

When did brow game become so important? HD Brows Review

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last year or two you'll know that the brow is definitely on trend, looking back at old pictures of myself I shudder, as a natural blonde my natural brows are practically none existent. Vintage pictures of me circa 2010 are a sight to behold, invisible brows were my look back then... Fast forward a couple of years and it's safe to say brows are a very important part of my daily make-up routine, of late I must admit my actual brows were a tad unkept (perks of being so blonde was they were actually very untidy, and my best pal Anastasia DipBrow Pomade being able to dramatically improve my brow game!) Thankfully I was invited along to Rainbow Rooms Stirling to not only have my locks sheared but to give the newest RRI Stirling beauty treatment a go; HD Brows* ahoy!

For those of you not in the know; "HD Brows have revolutionised eyebrow care to give everyone that extra look-good and more importantly feel-good factor." HD Brows are a branded treatment for creating high definition eye-brow looks, a procedure designed to create a bespoke brow, that is tailored to each individual. "It's much more than just eyebrow shaping... Eyebrows are as individual as fingerprints, and our tailored procedure transforms even the most unruly, sparse or over-plucked brows into perfect arches to suit the wearers face."-- HD Brows 

RR Stirling recently introduced the treatment to their salon and I nipped in to undergo a brow makeover thanks to the fabulous Thalia. What I loved most about the treatment was the attention to detail in brow mapping, Thalia chatted me through how I wanted my brows to look, making sure to cover specifics such as brow length, thickness, tint shade and the rest; after a previous brow mishap (from a threading bar) over a year ago I've been growing out my brows and very apprehensive I'd end up with wonky brows again! Not a good look, thankfully my HD Brows from RR are far from that, it's safe to say I've got strong brow game again, I'm loving the shape and the tint means if I fancy a more natural look for day getting ready in the morning is easy as pie!

To see for yourselves jusy how effective the HD Brows treatment from RR was just see for yourselves, warning no-makeup brow picture to follow, eek!

The 'before' picture is rather terrifying and I really didn't want to put it up :/
 but I know how important it is to show the difference in the before and after!
P.S My brows were such a mess!!

So apologies for the poor quality picture, I took this quickly before doing my Ice Bucket challenge (I donned a showercap to protect my hair after the hairdressers...) and sadly the quality isn't that great! Thalia took a picture in the salon, so I'll message and hopefully get a copy of her before and after pictures too!
I'm so happy with the shape and results from my HD Brows treatment and feel confident in facing brow technicians again, I'm on my way to having even matching brows, Tahlia you brow wizard! Rainbow Rooms Stirling are celebrating welcoming HD Brows to their salon so be sure to check out their Facebook page for details of any offers and booking information.  Here's a wee selfie from the other night on route to Edinburgh my brows are lightly filled in with Anastasia DipBrow Pomade in Light Brown, but the shape is all HD Brow! I'd love to hear if any of you have had HD Brows done before, thoughts? Worth the hype? I definitely think they are, keeping that brow game strong is so important after all ;)

*Review; all opinions stated are my own.*

Swimwear365; 48hrs in Ibiza Challenge!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

It's taken what feels like forever to get over my holiday come-down, coming home after the holiday of a lifetime is never easy (post to follow!) but I'm now finally back into the swing of things and getting ready to begin my honours year in September, so when Swimwear365 contacted me asking if I'd like to enter their 48 Hours in Ibiza challenge I jumped at the opportunity and the chance to win 48 hours in Ibiza before I begin my final year at Uni, perfect timing no?!

So here's the challenge create my dream itinerary for 48 hours in Ibiza, definitely no mean feat as squeezing in all that Ibiza has to offer in such a short time would be a challenge, but a challenge I'd be more than willing to accept! ;) My dream itinerary would take place from the 11th-14th of September (one of the proposed weekends by Swimwear365.) With all the nitty gritty over and done with lets get down to the fun stuff, creating an incredible itinerary for the holiday of a lifetime squeezed into 48 hours!!

Dia uno; Viernes

Making sure to get the weekend started with a splash I'd begin my first day with a few hours spent diving with Punta Dive Ibiza looking at beautiful fish and seahorses, as every mermaid worth her salt loves the sea ;) I did a bit of snorkeling whilst in Florida and have wanted to learn to dive forever, so this would be the perfect chance to explore the crystal blue Balearic Island waters. And of course the opportunity to give some Swimwear365 swimwear a test run, I love Swimwear365 as they are one of the few companies that stock sized bikinis in my size!

After a morning spent aquainting ourselves with the local aquatic residents, we'd head for a spot of lunch at Cafe Sidney soaking up the beautiful harbour views, sipping cocktails and enjoying the incredibly fresh seafood (Ah the irony, after meeting their friends :/ ) and delicious Spanish cuisine.
In anticipation of our evening antics' we'd spend the afternoon lazing at the beach and soaking up some rays, got to get some precious suntanning hours in when the time is limited!
The Sol d'en Serra beach looks pretty idyllic and the perfect spot to while away a few hours swimming in the sea and lazing on the beach and of course another opportunity to give another Swimwear365 bikini an outing, I think this one from Panache would be just the ticket and help me to feel like a bond girl emerging from the sea onto the white sandy beach... a girl can dream eh?! ;)
Bikini Cleo by Panache Blue 'Carmen' Tropical £31 Swimwear365
After a spot if sun-worshipping it'd be time to head back to our hotel to doll ourselves up ready to dance the night away at Ibiza Rocks to Jess Glynne and Route 94, first up of course would be a spot of dinner at Elements Ibiza, then onto bust a move or two!

Dia Dos; Sabado

After an action packed first day in Ibiza our second day would be spent soaking up more of the culture, atmosphere and of course consuming copious amounts of sangria. First up would be some much needed strong coffee and a spot of breakfast, after a night partying hard we might be feeling a touch delicate. Then we'd head to one of the world famous Hippy Market's the Hippy Market Las Dalias in San Carlos. Spending a chilled out morning wandering round the stalls, snapping up a few bargains and enjoying mugfuls of refreshing mint tea (what hangover!!)

After a relaxed morning to get us into the swing of things the afternoon would be spent squeezing in a bit more excitement, we'd head on a Cooltra Guided Scooter tour around the island to explore more of the island and enjoy the beautiful Ibiza scenery.

To round off what would be sure to be an incredible weekend we'd head out for an amazing end of weekend dinner at Bambuddha, where we'd enjoy the beautiful surroundings, fine food and obligatory cocktails (of course!) After dinner we'd head to the world famous Cafe Mambo for cocktails and a spot of dancing, the perfect end to the perfect weekend!

Bambuddha: source
Cafe Mambo source
So there we have it my perfect 48 hours in Ibiza action packed and sure to create hundreds of lasting memories, fingers crossed my entry does well and who knows I could be jetting off to make a few of these memories ;) I've never been to Ibiza and making this itinerary has definitely made me want to head over for a wee island break, here's hoping I'll be able to sing the infamous Venga Boys tune sometime soon!