Welcome to The Pale Peony!

Pull up a chair, make sure you're comfortable and enjoy. Whether you're a fashion freak, beauty babe, bookworm, animal enthusiast, foodie, adventure seeker or even a couch potato you will find something of interest here!
Everyone is welcome, feel free to check out my Twitter profile too :)

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Lush lip scrubs, balms and tints

As you can see I have quite a few Lush lip products! Although my apple pie flavour one (which I think is called 'Lip squeak' or something similar) is missing at the moment! I've been using Lush lip balms for about 5 years or so now, and I've recently started using their lip tints and scrubs too. As you may know Lush specialise in 'fresh, handmade cosmetics'. Most of their products are Vegan and contain products that are ethically sourced. They try to use as many natural products as possible and are against animal testing (yay!) preferring to test their products on humans. Which is only fair and right as  far as I'm concerned, although my female ferret Lola has a thing about rummaging through my make-up bag pulling everything out, she doesn't actually need to wear any of it! But anyway that is getting onto another topic! 
I'm going to talk about three of my favourite lip products at the moment: 'Sweet lips' lip scrub, 'Whip stick' lip balm and 'It started with a kiss' lip tint. As much as I like the lip tints and the fact that they contain moisturising ingredients, I still find they cling to dry patches so I'm going to talk about the scrub and balm first as I use these to prepare my lips for tint. 

Sweet lips scrub.

Sweet lips is one of Lush's tasty lip scrubs. It has a gorgeous vanilla chocolate scent and the taste reminds me of walnut whips! It's a vegan product, and as you would expect is perfectly safe to lick off. You simple take a small finger full of the scented sugar and rub it into your lips, removing any flaky dry skin as you do so. Then you can simply lick the remainder off and it tastes great! As you can probably tell from the packaging compared to the ones on the Lush website or in-store, I've had mine for ages; a little really does go a long way! I probably shouldn't but I still use mine and it's perfectly fine. It currently retails at £5.25 which is very reasonable considering how long it lasts. It leaves your lips really smooth, ready for lip balm!

Whip stick lip balm

Whip stick has to be my all time favourite balm! With its chocolate orange flavour who wouldn't love it? I first had this balm when I was eighteen, I bought it again a couple of months ago and now use it every day. Not only does it contain real dark chocolate, sweet orange oil and cocoa absolute for flavour, but it also contains soothing oat milk, shea butter and honey. This one is vegetarian not vegan, but they do have vegan balms too. This works really fast to tackle sore, chapped and flaking lips. Mine were getting on my nerves as they were so bad, but as soon as I started using whip stick I noticed an improvement! This is definitely one for the 'Terry's chocolate orange' lover who wants to avoid a few calories! It's £5.50 but your money will be well spent, these balms last such a long time and they work wonders on your pout. 

It started with a kiss tint.

I'm still not entirely sure why, but I had to have this lip tint as soon as I saw it in 'The Lush Times'. Lush say 'Because one day your prince will come. Didn't every girl want to be Snow White, with those kissable red lips-well, now we all have the chance with this apple and cinnamon lip balm tint.' 
It does contain soothing and smoothing agents much like the balms, but I still found it would cling to dry patches; this is why I now use it over Whip stick. Although it looks very red in the tin it applies as more of a pinkish red, as you'll see in the photos below. The photos aren't a great representation of the colour, lighting will also play a big part. The best thing to do would be to try a tester in store and step outside with a mirror to see if you like the result. I wear mine fairly sheer, which also affects the colour, but you can build depth by layering. This is a tasty one too, with white chocolate, fresh red apple infusion and cinnamon. It helps soothe lips with extra virgin coconut oil, organic rose hip oil and shea butter. This is also £5.50 at the moment, and will probably last even longer than the balms, depending on how much you use obviously! Here is the balm on me...

So there you have it, three gorgeous lip products from Lush that are also the only lip products I use at the moment! To check out Lush's other products please visit their website.

Monday, 20 August 2012

My top book picks for fans of 'The Da Vinci code'

As a lover of 'The Da Vinci code' and a few of Dan Brown's other novels, here is my personal list of top book picks for other Dan Brown/history/thriller/mystery fans, from my own collection. I start with a snippet about The Da Vinci code for anyone that hasn't yet read it or seen the film (I would still suggest to read the novel even if you've seen the film as in my opinion the films are always second best to the trusty original books)

 The Da Vinci code by Dan Brown (First published in 2003) is an international best seller, having also been made into a major motion picture, and it's not hard to see why! It's a fast paced whirlwind of a thriller that is perfect for history and puzzle lovers.
I can't imagine that there are many that haven't either read the novel or seen the film, but if you haven't then here's something to whet your appetite...

'Harvard professor Robert Langdon receives a late-night phone call while on business in Paris: the elderly curator of the Louvre has been brutally murdered inside the museum. Alongside the body, police have found a series of baffling codes. As Langdon and a gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, begin to sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to find a trail that reveals a mystery stretching deep into the vault of history.
But Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine code and quickly assemble the pieces of the puzzle, a stunning historical truth will be lost forever...'

Firstly, my first recommendations would be Dan Brown's other novels, particularly 'Angels and demons' and 'The lost symbol'. I'm not going to feature them on here, but focus on work from other authors. If you want to check out more of Dan Brown's work then please visit his official website here, which I have to say is a fantastic little site! You select what book you want to view in detail from an ancient looking cabinet, and then you can read reviews, an excerpt, FAQ's plus lots more!

The Shakespeare secret by J.L Carrell (first published in 2007) has been praised by Publishers weekly as having 'Plot twists worthy of The Da Vinci code'. This is another Thriller that is almost impossible to put down. I read this quite a while ago but I loved every second of it. It contains true revelations regarding Shakespeare's life, and the ever present and intriguing theories surrounding him.

'A woman is left to die in a burning theatre. Another woman is drowned like Ophelia, skirts swirling in the water. A doctor has his throat slashed open on the steps of Washington's Capitol building.
A deadly serial killer is on the loose, modelling his sickening murders on Shakespeare's plays. But why is he killing? And how can he be stopped?'

There is also now another book entitled 'The Shakespeare curse' or otherwise known as 'Haunt me still' in the U.S which follows the main character from this story, which can be found on the author's website here.

Sticking with the 'secret' theme the Botticelli secret written by Marina Fiorato is a much loved read of mine and really started my interest in renaissance Italy. Be warned: it has explicit language and sexual themes. This isn't one for the easily offended! Once again this is a race against time story packed to the rafters with adventure, murder, revelations and mystery, with romance thrown in to the mix for good measure.
'In the colourful world of fifteenth-century Italy, Luciana Vetra is young and beautiful, a part time model and full time whore. When she is asked to pose as the goddess Flora for Sandro Botticelli's La Primavera, she is willing to oblige-until the artist abruptly sends her away without payment. Affronted she steals an unfinished version of the painting-only to find that someone is ready to kill her to get it back.
As friends and associates are murdered around her, Luciana turns to the one man who has never tried to exploit her beauty, Brother Guido della Torre, a novice at the monastery of Santa Croce. Fleeing Florence together, Luciana and Guido race through the nine great                
cities of renaissance Italy, desperately trying to decode the painting's secrets before their enemies stop them.'
By following this link to the author's website you can find out more, download the first chapter and buy the book.

Labyrinth is one of my favourite books that I have in my collection, and actually one of my favourite reads full stop. History fans with a sense of adventure will not be disappointed!
Published in 2005 it follows two women from very different times as they both try to uncover the secret of the 'true Grail'.

'July 1209: In Carcassone a seventeen year old girl is given a mysterious book by her father which he claims contains the secret of the true Grail. Although Alais cannot understand the strange words and symbols hidden within, she knows that her destiny lies in keeping the secret of the labyrinth safe...

July 2005: Alice Tanner discovers two skeletons in a forgotten cave in the French Pyrenees. Puzzled by the Labyrinth symbol carved into the rock, she realises she's disturbed something that was meant to remain hidden. Somehow, a link to a horrific past-her past- has been revealed.'
Here is a link to the author's US website and to her UK website

Lastly, I feel I have to add this book as it fits the theme so well. However, I have to confess that I haven't actually finished it. I found the writing style at times difficult to 'get into' and the main character rather unlike-able. But that's for you to judge, most of you will probably love it. I will pick it up again at a later date and try again, as I was intrigued by the idea that the novel brings to readers. Please don't judge on my opinion alone and my inability to see something through to the end!


A sacred brotherhood has sworn, generation after generation, to protect this terrifying truth from those who would use it to unleash doomsday upon mankind.

When the unthinkable happens, and the holy scroll is uncovered, the race is on to reveal the true meaning of the cryptic language. Only one man, Dr. Thomas Lourds, the world's foremost scholar of ancient languages, who we first met in the bestselling novel The Atlantis Code, can safely decipher this most deadly scripture.

Lourds soon becomes the bait in the most lethal manhunt -- knowing he must confront the true face of evil if the world is to be saved...'

So there you have it, my book picks for fans of historical thrillers such as 'The Da Vinci code'. I hope you enjoy them!

Friday, 10 August 2012

Badger Balm: Natural body care

I've been in love with the Badger company and their products for several years, since I was a teenager and I first began to seek out products not tested on animals. I love them so much, partly because of my love for animals, partly due to the fact that they are all natural and mainly because they just work!

Badger is a family run business in New Hampshire U.S. Badger balm came about when back in 1994 Bill Whyte sought a solution for the cracked and bleeding hands that he and his carpenter friends were suffering from.  He mixed some beeswax and olive oil, a little bit of experimentation later his hands were healed, and he made batches to give to his friends and colleagues to try. Bear paw was created.
As the new business was just getting started, and Bill was about to have tins made to sell his 'Bear Paw' balm, disaster struck. Although he'd checked the trade mark registry to see if the name was taken there was in fact a hand cream that had been around for a little while called Bear Paw.
Luckily this was probably actually a good turn of events as the name Badger came to him. Badger being a healing totem, The root gatherer who possesses great knowledge concerning the root and herb kingdoms-perfect for a budding organic business!
They are now a USDA certified organic facility, using fair trade certified cocoa butter and ethically sourced ingredients. They also proudly display the leaping bunny logo, declaring that their products haven't been tested on animals. From 'Bear Paw' and the very humble beginnings to the now internationally known company that produces everything from lip balms and body balms to aromatherapy balms and sun cream, Badger Balm is a nature lovers dream. The products are so natural, they're even safe to eat!
They now have 20 different types of lip balm, three types of everyday moisturiser, foot balm, baby products, three types of antioxidant body oil, face oil, facial beauty balm, anti-bug balms, sticks and creams, sun creams and after sun balm, three massage oils, three varieties of sore muscle rub, sore joint rub, aromatherapy balms, chest rub, 6 soaps, Badger Balm hats, tote bags, posters, three hair oils (coming in September!) and of course the original Badger Balm for hands, in scented and unscented. I think that's everything!

I've just ordered some Badger balm 'for hard working hands', sore muscle rub and sore joint rub for after my days at the zoo! Unfortunately Badger Balm are not currently taking orders from outside the U.S. via their main website badgerbalm.com but they do provide a list of International distributors that stock Badger products and recommend an online store that ships internationally, Uncommon scents, who I placed my order with. You can use sites like Amazon and Ebay but the range is sadly limited and far pricier for some products than if you were to buy elsewhere. I really want a Badger tote bag, and I'm hoping I can find one on one of these sites! I can't wait to get my new badger goodies, they're good value for such good quality, natural products-and they really do work! I've had their foot balm for ages, I honestly can't remember how long now, it's still going strong and still works as well as it did the day I bought it!

Badger Balm are also on Facebook and Twitter, so feel free to 'like' and 'follow' for updates and sneak previews.
I'll do a little review once I get my new products!

My Badger foot balm.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

New Look Ibiza style: 5 looks

I've compiled five key outfits from the New Look online store for a dream holiday in Ibiza: Travel style, Poolside, Beach it, Sunset supper and Beach to bar. Just add sun cream!
Travel style.

First up is my travel look. This look is perfect for flying to and from Ibiza. The playsuit is relaxed and comfortable, perfect for slouching around in the airport and on the flight. The headscarf and sunnies will be vital once you touch down in Ibiza to keep your hair away from your face and protect your eyes from any glare as you exit the plane. The shoes are in the cutest pastel shade that tie in well with the headscarf, they're also comfortable and cool in hot weather whilst keeping your feet warm when you get back to (likely rainy) Britain. The bracelets add a chilled out holiday vibe to the look. If it's really cold when you leave the plane on arrival back in Britain you could through over a pale lemon or grey hoodie.

Poolside glam.

Next up is my poolside outfit. You shouldn't be afraid to mix and match your bikinis as it helps you achieve a really unique look, imagine turning up to the pool and seeing another girl with the same bikini on as you! The bikini bottoms I've picked have colours that correspond to the bikini top, and I've used these colours to build the rest of the look. The sandals are comfy for walking to the pool bar but easy to slip off when you're ready to take a dip. Sunnies are important if you plan on doing some sunbathing or poolside reading. The kaftan is a useful cover up if you decide to head into town or the beach-no need to go back to the hotel room! The jade green nail polish and turquoise accessories bring the look together, tying in with the bikini colours perfectly.

Beach it.

This is my beach look, perfect for chilling in the shade, walking to and from the beach, sunbathing and hitting the waves. I've used the maxi dress as a stylish cover up, it's more appropriate for shopping and sightseeing before or after the beach than a flimsy kaftan but is just as easy to slip on and off. The coral beaded sandals will look great with a tan due to the coral and gold tones. This cute mismatched bikini is perfect for those with a smaller bust as the ruffle detail will create a fuller effect. It also matches the dress, so no worries about straps showing. The hat and sunglasses are essential on hot days, particularly if you're sunbathing, the band on the hat ties in with the dress nicely too, so it's part of the outfit rather than a random accessory you picked up at the last minute. The bright coral lipstick will really pop, and unlike lipgloss you wont have to worry about getting sand and hair stuck to your face! I've added a pale pink nail polish to prevent the look being too over the top, and let the rest of the outfit do the talking.

Sunset supper.

The sunset supper look is ultra sophisticated for any formal dinners you might attend while on holiday. The cream lace dress is effortlessly classy, you wont look like you're going to a ball rather than dinner! The gold lace shoes really compliment the dress and will look fab with a tan. The glitter gold clutch adds some wow factor and a bit of colour, whilst staying true to the overall feel of the outfit. Deep red nail polish turns this look very sultry, without looking trashy. Shimmery eyeshadows are a must, and a sweep of bronzer along cheekbones and collarbones will complete your bronze goddess look.

Beach to club.

My beach to club look is pretty self explanatory, it's comfortable and cool enough for the beach but you can head straight to the clubs without looking too 'beachy' and out of place. The scarf print dress is a great staple piece that can be dressed up or down, I've obviously tried to go for something in between the two. The sandals make walking on the beach a breeze, they are on trend for the clubs and you wont have sore feet at the end of the night! The colours of the bracelets match the dress perfectly, I'm a bit of a match-aholic if you hadn't guessed! The feather jewellery keeps in with the tribal feel originally brought to the look by the sandals  and the nude bag prevents a clash of colours and patterns occurring. Don't forget the bronzer and a pale pink lipgloss for when you hit the clubs!

So there you have it! Five fab looks for any Ibiza bound goddess, just don't forget the sun cream and an MP3 player full of summer tracks!

For all of the pieces shown above and more please visit http://www.newlook.com/

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

A few recent reads.

I'm a huge book fiend, I'm sorry to say that I've recently been buying ebooks simply because I save so much cash compared with buying the paperback versions. It's not the same holding plastic and glass instead of bound paper, you don't really get that 'ooh I'm this far through' feeling like you do when you pop a bookmark in a heavy tome and you don't get those lovely inky new book smells either. Yes, I really am a book 'geek'!
I am actually reading one paperback at the moment, with two on standby that I've left at the wayside unfortunately, and I have several patiently waiting for me on one of my bookshelves. The paperback I borrowed from work, so I have to pay a weekly charge, I would normally have read it well within a week but I'm sad to say I'm now on the second week and I haven't picked it up again as I've just got into another ebook (I know, I know!)
Anyway, here are my current and most recent reads....

Trylle trilogy

It took me like three days to read the entire Trylle trilogy, I was hooked! The books are Switched, Torn and Ascend and are written by Amanda Hocking. They were first self published but have now been published by Pan Macmillan this year. The main themes are: fantasy, adventure and romance. Please note that there is violence and also sexual themes in the series. I'll give you the official synopsis for the first book, but I refuse to do the same for the others! There is nothing worse than having bits and bobs revealed accidentally. All I need to get me into a series is to hear about the first book, then if I like it I'll read the others, I don't want to know what happens until I read them!

Switched is the first book in the series and introduces us to Wendy, a seventeen year old girl whose never felt like she belonged...

'When Wendy Everly was six years old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. It isn't until eleven years later that Wendy discovers her mother might have been right.

With the help of Finn Holmes, Wendy finds herself in a world she never knew existed - a world both beautiful and frightening, and Wendy's not sure she wants to be a part of it.'

To visit the authors blog and find out more about the Trylle trilogy, watch the book trailers and read about her other novels then please click here.

Graceling, Fire and Bitterblue.

Graceling, Fire and Bitterblue form a trilogy of sorts written by Kristin Cashore. Graceling is her debut novel, Fire is a companion stand alone prequel and Bitterblue is a companion to both and is set eight years after the events in Graceling. The themes are pretty much the same as for the Trylle trilogy, adventure, action, fantasy and romance being the major themes, with violence and sexual themes thrown in as it is again aimed at young adults. Again, I'm only going to give you the briefing for the first book, though I'm going to leave one piece of information out, it's fairly apparent that this event will happen once you get reading, but I just hate giving too much information about a book, otherwise you don't even need to read the thing!
There seem to be two covers available for each book, so I'll provide you with both.

'Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight-She's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king she should be able to live a life of privilege, but graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug. She never expects to learn the truth behind her grace-or of the terrible secret that lies far away...A secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.'

To visit Kristin Cashore's blog page regarding these books please click here.

Rescue me: My life with the Battersea Dogs.

Rescue me is Melissa Wareham's memoir chronicling her life at Battersea Dogs Home which spanned 15 years. This is a topic very close to my heart, and after seeing the front cover I just couldn't help but take it home with me. It's a frank, often funny and moving story of the lost souls that end up in Battersea, and the colourful collection of people wanting to welcome them into their homes. A real eye opener for those that haven't worked with animals as to what really goes on in our dog shelters behind the scenes. Having worked voluntarily for two years in a well known dog rescue centre myself I can relate to many of her tales, and I've found myself laughing, shaking my head in disbelief and almost in tears at some of the stories I've read so far.

'Melissa Wareham always wanted to work with dogs. After failing her O-level she realised she'd have to start at the bottom, cleaning out kennels at Battersea Dogs Home.

The first dog Melissa fell for was Tulip, a sweet, elderly and somewhat dotty mongrel who decided a solo bus ride into the west end might be fun. Next up was Roscoe: found by the ambulance team with his dead owner, he was rehabilitated with a little help from his master's hat. And then-many, many dogs later-there was Gus. With his owner in jail, Melissa finally found the dog she was to take home as her own.'

To read the author's profile, biography and view a photo gallery then please click here. You can buy Rescue me at any good book retailer or online store such as Amazon.

So there you have a few current reads, I'll add some of my all time favourite reads in time, I have so many though I might have to break them down into a few separate posts! Happy reading!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Dr. Jart + BB cream review

What is BB cream? Also known as Beauty Balms or Blemish Balms they offer a wide variety of skin enhancing/conditioning properties as well as a light coverage. Most creams moisturise, prime, conceal and have some level of sun protection. Some of the fancier Asian brands I've seen also have anti-ageing benefits and skin lightening.They were originally created by a dermatologist for facial surgery patients, to provide some cover while nourishing the skin and encouraging healing. Normal foundation wouldn't be beneficial to post surgery/laser treatment skin whatsoever. It became huge in South Korea and Japan,  starting with Korean actresses and celebrities. It's now being introduced over here with major brands like Maybelline and Loreal producing their own creams.

Before even starting to blend you can see the huge colour difference 

Mostly blended and I have a lovely orange patch!

The search for the perfect BB cream led me to Dr. Jart + water fuse beauty balm. I really wanted an Asian brand called BRTC but it was a bit extravagant for what I wanted it for (a light coverage for my days out in the heat at the zoo where I volunteer). I wanted to steer clear of brands such as Maybelline as I was sure their BB cream would be just as orange as their foundations! I saw this pop up on an online search and read a few customer reviews. They claimed that it was suitable for virtually any skin tone, and a couple of customers commented on how brilliant it was for pale skin. It has an spf of 25, reasonable for a BB cream and water fuse technology, to try to help lock moisture in your skin. 
It goes on really smoothly, doesn't feel greasy as it's water based and has quite a light feeling. Leaving the colour aside for a minute, it looks really natural, like you're not wearing anything on your skin. It's very sheer, but you can possibly build coverage, otherwise it really will look like you're not wearing anything!
It blends fairly easily, but I keep finding darker patches after I've apparently blended it properly, so I'd definitely check it before you go out anywhere!
Now, the colour...It is too dark for my skin, plain and simple. I don't know how pale these people from the reviews are, but they're clearly not as pale as me. To be fair, once really blended, it is passable, but I have to wear a very small amount and really blend it in, so it doesn't really do much for my complexion and it seems fairly pointless wearing it! If you have medium to fairly pale skin this will probably be perfect for you. If you have very fair translucent skin like myself then you will be better off buying an Asian brand, as the pale look is extremely hot over there.
I'm now using it as a primer under a very thin layer of my pale 'Dainty doll' foundation, and it does a great job!
I bought mine from Boots.com at the reasonable price of £13 reduced from £18 for 50ml. If you think this cream is perfect for you and want to know more then please click here to visit the product on the Boots website.
I better start saving for that dream cream! *Sigh