H O M E .      A B O U T .      C O N T A C T .      T U M B L R .      T H E   B O O K   J O U R N A L .      sailorjennie [at] gmail [dot] com

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

The power of scent; an ode to Stella.

Stella by Stella McCartney*

Stella. The name of our family pup who used to sleep beside my cot and run to wake up my mother if I ever awoke in the night. Stella. Also the name of the scent I have worn during some of the most pivotal and also some of the most simple, everyday moments of my life.

Pressing my fingers up to the misty windows of the bus on morning commutes. Moving to new places. Exams. Graduating from University. When I found myself falling in love with books all over again. Wandering around supermarkets, deciding what to make for dinner. So many I love you's. Cuddles with Ralphie. A few painful goodbyes. When nerves built whilst sitting in waiting rooms. Tangled up with the scent of evening rain. Birthdays. Christmases. A couple of plane journeys. To concerts. When making bad decisions, and a few good decisions too. To remind me of home when I haven't been there physically. To remind me of who I am, who I used to be, who I can be when I haven't been present mentally. Sitting on clifftops looking out to sea. Blowing bubbles in countryside villages. Dreaming of where I want to be, and figuring out how to get there.

I have received many bottles as gifts, given almost as many as gifts. And I probably never would have discovered it if it weren't for this space on the internet where I have spent so much of my early twenties. Those important years I have spent learning what it means to be myself.

To me Stella smells like strength, vulnerability, pure unapologetic joy, painful rawness, silliness, a comforting embrace, truth, determination, confusion, a smidge of certainty and the hopeful uncertainty of all the things that are yet to come.

What is your favourite fragrance? 
What does it smell like to you? 

Monday, 14 December 2015

Year in Beauty Subscription Boxes | Birchbox + Glossybox

Have beauty subscription boxes had their day? There's certainly an argument to be made for and against, and although I don't anticipate their arrival as eagerly as I once did I do still quite like the surprise each month.

I have dabbled with My Little Box, which was a favourite for a long time but is perhaps a little too cutesy for my taste now, but Birchbox and Glossybox have very kindly been sending me boxes each month for a good while now so I've been able to get a feel for what they're about and how they curate their contents. I haven't been as diligent as I should have been with my posting this year, but I thought I'd show their December boxes, followed by a little yearly round up...

D E C E M B E R   G L O S S Y B O X

Cheeky Nail Polish
So Susan Highlighting Crayon
Etre Belle Eye Gel
Darphin Essential Oil Elixir
Essence Liquid Lipstick
Starskin Hydrating Mask

First impressions: the products don't feel particularly festive or special, although I suppose I do have higher expectations for the December boxes and perhaps that's unfair. With that being said, the Hydrating Mask helped my skin out hugely after two flights and the Eye Gel is incredibly soothing.

The Essence Liquid Lipstick is a stunning colour and the Nail Polish is a very sweet light pink shade. Not hugely festive, but wearable nonetheless. The Darphin Elixir looks very fancy and I've passed it along to my mum who I think is enjoying trying it out. And finally there's another So Susan/Jelly Pong Pong product, which I must admit I'm a little bored of seeing now as there have been so many, but it does look to be a pretty cream highlight.    

D E C E M B E R   B I R C H B O X

Rituals Shower Gel
Mini Ciate Nail Polish
Model Co Lipstick
Mini Benefit Push Up Liner
Mini Benefit Puff Off
Embryolisse Concentrate
CM perfume sample

This month's Birchbox was more of a Birchbag and not a bad quality one at that. It could very easily be used as a little party clutch - hooray for a bit of gold glitter! It's always a pleasure to see a Rituals Shower Gel, the foamy texture feels more luxurious than typical shower gels and that's always nice. The Ciate Nail Polish is a festive sparkly silver, and the Model Co Lipstick is a beautiful red shade.

The perfume sample was neither here nor there for me, but the Embryolisse and the miniature Benefit products more than made up for that. Birchbox have rounded the year off as they started, very well indeed. Seasonally appropriate, plenty of variety, and a cute little extra touch in the clutch bag. 

Y E A R   I N   G L O S S Y B O X

Glossybox have had a pretty good year, I think. While I don't think any of their regular boxes have stood out as being especially amazing, I do think they did well with their limited edition NARS box a little while ago. I've come to see Glossybox as an introduction to brands I'm less familiar with, or products I wouldn't necessarily pick up on my own, with a few recognisable things here and there. The Essence Princess Lash mascara wouldn't have been something I would have picked up in store, but I ended up really liking it, and had a similar experience with the Sleek Pout Paints and Pout Polishes.

Y E A R   I N   B I R C H B O X

While Glossybox have had a good year, I think Birchbox have had a great year. Sure there has been maybe one dud box, but overall they have been consistent in their variety and their balance of already well known brands and slightly more obscure ones. They've had everything from Benefit, Rituals and The Balm, to REN, Philip Kingsley and Aromatherapy Associates, with much more in between. It's entirely down to Birchbox that I gave the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish another try and I ended up falling head over heels for it, so finding a new beauty staple is entirely possible.

I'm often asked which beauty box is the best, or if I could only recommend one which would it be? Sounds like a simple question, but honestly all surprise subscription services are a bit of a risk each month because they can all be hit or miss. If you like cute lifestyle things and a little bit of beauty I don't think you can go far wrong with My Little Box, but for solely beauty either Glossybox or Birchbox are great for different reasons. So although Birchbox have been a little more reliable and consistent throughout 2015, that may all change in 2016 if Glossybox pull out all the stops.

Are you subscribed to any beauty boxes? 
Are there any that you would recommend?

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Panettone French Toast & Pandoro Christmas Trees

Christmas has arrived a little early in the sailboat household and we're certainly not complaining! Crosta & Mollica sent over a delicious parcel containing a chocolate panettone and a golden pandoro, asking us how we would serve them over the festive season. Needless to say we were pretty eager to try them, so we hit the kitchen almost immediately.

P A N E T T O N E   F R E N C H   T O A S T

When it's wet, windy and chilly outside my ultimate weekend brunch is french toast. I had never made it using panettone before, in fact before this week I had never even tried panettone. Where have I been, right? I. Don't. Know.

My favourite thing about french toast is the variety of topping combinations that all taste incredible. Think berries, ice cream, maple syrup. The possibilities are endless. And my favourite thing about making it with this particular panettone was how much of the cinnamon milk mixture it soaked up. It was Christmas with every mouthful.

T O   M A K E :
1. Slice generously
2. Dip slices in a mixture of milk, egg, sugar & cinnamon
3. Fry
4. Serve with syrup, or berries, or ice cream, or anything else you would like to. It's wonderfully versatile!

P A N D O R O   C H R I S T M A S   T R E E

Christmas day itself is going to be a quiet affair here this year, but if I were having guests this would absolutely be one of the stars of the show. There are so many ways to decorate this beautifully light sponge cake, but here's how we chose to decorate ours before we (along with anyone who came over that day) promptly demolished most of it. 

T O   M A K E :
1. Slice
2. Arrange slices to look like branches
3. Dust with icing sugar
4. Decorate - we used Hershey's kisses because we had some left over from our NY trip
5. Eat! It makes a delicious afternoon treat with a mug of hot chocolate, or served with a selection of jams. 

A L T E R N A T I V E   S E R V I N G   S U G G E S T I O N :
1. Slice the top off.
2. Scoop out some of the inside.
3. Fill with ice cream, or whipped cream and berries.
4. Eat immediately, before someone else does!

All this talk of food has made me feel more than a little peckish... And I really must track down another pandoro because my afternoon hot chocolate just hasn't been the same since we ate it all! 

Do you like to serve panettone or pandoro at Christmas?
How would you serve it? 

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Gifting This Christmas inc. Holland & Barrett, Pacifica, Rathbornes Candles, Humble, Vegan Chocolates and Balance Me...

My nearest and dearest don't tend to stop by these parts and have a read too often, and so instead of a gift guide here are a few things that will be waiting under the tree ready to be opened by them on Christmas Day. Many of them are things I've been gifted for le blog and I've loved them so much that I had to go and buy a few more of each for gifts. 

H O L L A N D   &   B A R R E T T

Pacifica Indian Coconut Nectar Soy Candle
There are no words for how beautiful this smells. Even when it's not lit it manages to delicately scent a room. Coconut lovers absolutely need to give this a sniff if the opportunity ever arises. Just a little note, the website has a picture of the reed diffuser on the candle listing, but it's definitely for the candle. And I would advise opening the box and looking at the candle as there was a bit of wax discolouration on my original candle, which didn't affect the burning but it didn't look the prettiest so it wouldn't have been ideal for gifting.

Pacifica Hawaiian Ruby Guava & Island Vanilla Perfumes
Pacifica perfumes have been at the top of my to-try list for a little while and I'm pleased to be able to say they're as lovely as I had hoped they would be. I was going to save the Ruby Guava scent to add to my mother's Christmas present, but I couldn't resist giving it to her a little early and she's been wearing it almost daily. The Island Vanilla scent has now taken up residence in my bag, but I'm planning to purchase a few more as little extra gifts for those ladies in my life who tend to be a little tricky to buy for because I think it's a fairly universal scent. It also layers really nicely with other scents, which is always a good thing, I think. And they're cruelty free!

Montezuma's Vegan & Organic Chocolates
So. Good! Without meaning to overstate anything, these are easily the best chocolates I have ever eaten. Ever. Seriously. They are, admittedly, a little on the pricey side, but everything about them is pretty special, from the packaging to the chocolates inside. They're a perfect holiday treat. 

Balance Me Luscious Lips* & Balance Me Body Beautiful*
These two have been given as early presents to my neighbour as a thank you for always taking in parcels for me when I haven't been at home, and never once complaining. The packaging is adorable and with a bit of maneuvering they sit on Christmas tree branches really well as alternative decorations. They'd also make perfect Secret Santa gifts too, I think!  

Humble Body Wash*
Humble has been created by Kate Humble, and each product in the range has been designed to be kind to both the skin and the environment. The ingredients are natural and biodegradable, with no parabens or SLS, and the packaging is made using recycled materials where possible. Also, a big thumbs up to the comprehensive glossary on the website that explains what each ingredient is and why it is used. I haven't tried the body wash myself because I've included it in a beauty hamper I've made up for a friend who loves ethical products, but I'm hoping she loves it!

Humble Bath Honey*
I have kept this bubble bath for myself, because I'm going through one of my 'I need to take a bubble bath every evening' phases. The rose and frankincense scent isn't one I would generally gravitate towards, but it's delicate, incredibly relaxing and the formula gives a really good amount of bubbles. Humble is exclusive to Waitrose, which could make purchasing a little tricky if, like me, you're not a Waitrose shopper - but I have seen a few things over on Amazon too!


Rathbornes Rosemary, Fougere & Camphor Candle*
This isn't my kind of scent, it's very complex and woody, but I know someone who will absolutely adore burning this on Boxing Day. It's a scent that I can imagine will really deepen and come alive once lit, creating a calm, relaxing atmosphere. Perfect for post Christmas Day festivities! 

Rathbornes White Pepper, Honeysuckle & Vertivert Travel Candle
As soon as I took this out of the box it instantly reminded me of Tom Ford Black Orchid. It's deep, with a top floral note that cuts through stopping it from being too heavy and overpowering. This was a little winter treat to myself and worth every penny.

Yankee Candle Duo
Boots included one of these duos in the box of goodies they sent me a few months ago and as I have loved burning them so much (Christmas Memories is gorgeous!), I knew I had to pick up a few more sets for my fellow Yankee Candle Christmas scent lovers.


Swig Executive Flask*
This is a really beautiful quality, tactile flask. When I was asked if I wanted to review one I was pretty excited about it, but I wasn't expecting it to be this nice. Everything is so detailed, from the way the flask sits perfectly inside the case and the elephant design on the inside, to the beautiful packaging and the perfectly even stitching. They also offer an engraving service, and I must say that I think personalised gifts often make the very best gifts of all.

There are a few bits and pieces I still need to get but as I'm usually a very last minute kind of gal, I'm feeling pretty calm this year.  And that makes a nice change.

Are you ready for the holidays? 

Monday, 7 December 2015

New York in a Few Words

Chasing the sun half across the world in a tin can with wings. I cannot get my head around plane travel. • I don't think I've ever eaten as much in a single day as on our outbound flight. From pretzels, to mini fab ice lollies, to love hearts sweeties. Top marks Virgin Atlantic. • Paying for extra legroom: 10/10 would do again. • Manic taxi rides. • Pockets of solitude nestled within the general hustle and bustle. • A cityscape of dreams hotel view. • Feeling overwhelmed at first, but soon settling into city life. • Walking fast, learning how to effectively zip in between lost tourists and food carts. • Learning to time the crossings perfectly. • Dogs in coats. • Silly purchases. • Enormous Chocolate chip pancakes. • Getting a little carried away in Strand Books. • Dodging comedy central audience finders, bus tour operators and open arms of Elmo, Mickey or a Minion. • Late night CVS snack runs. • Avoiding the subway and walking almost everywhere, soaking up city vibes. • A city that implores you to look up, and not always at the floor. • Standing at the top of the Empire State Building just after sunset. • The discovery of the little wonders that are Jolly Ranchers. • Happily taking photographs for cute families as a memento of them enjoying every second of their holiday. I hope they look back on them fondly in the years to come. • Seeing The Starry Night up close at MoMa. Magic. • Finding the New Yorker sense of self-assuredness beginning to rub off on me a little. • Finding the work of Erica Baum and Sara VanDerBeek in the Guggenheim. • The Statue of Liberty in silhouette as the sun set behind her. • Lots of smashed avocado and orange juice. • Endless possibilities. • The sound of almost perpetual car horns. • The calming pace of Central Park early on a Sunday morning. • Never once feeling unsafe. • The beautiful eeriness of quiet streets closed to traffic for the Macy's Parade. • A whistle-stop trip to Sephora. One word: overwhelming. • Back to JFK in an enormously oversized I heart NY jumper, because why the heck not? • Turbulence. Turbulence. Turbulence. • Greeted by the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen as we came in to land in London. • So good to be home, but forever changed by six days in New York City.