Monday, 24 August 2015

Travel | Exploring the Capital

I realise how late the rest of my travel posts have been - I feel awful. But, better late than pregnant, or never, right? I think you'll want to go grab a cup of tea - because this is a photo-packed and very long post.

Washington DC was an unexpected highlight of our trip to the USA. I knew it would be beautiful, and there would be loads of history and museums to take in - but I didn't expect downright gorgeous, endless museums and so much to see, do and eat, that you could easily spend two weeks there. Sadly, we only had four days. So we did the best we could.



The weather in May is perfect. It is nice and warm, with spring blooms on just about on every corner. When the clouds came over, they were gone by the late afternoon, revealing some pretty fantastic sunsets.

The National Mall was obviously our first stop - and we really had no idea how big it was. I figured it would be an easy walk, nipping in and out of museums and stopping for pictures at all the monuments. Wrong! It stretches on for about 3 kilometres between the steps of the Capitol building and the Lincoln Memorial. In between those two is the famous Washington Memorial, which looks like a giant, you know... We may have taken some very childish snaps that certainly won't feature here on Pretty Mint. It had to be done though.



On our first day, we only managed the Air and Space Museum, and poked our heads in a few of the others on our way down The Mall, making mental notes of where to come back to. Sadly though, we didn't get another turn at the museums - so we have a lot to do when we go back someday.





On our second day we went to Arlington cemetery and spent all morning winding our way through America's most sacred grounds. We were there just before Memorial Day weekend, so the sense of national pride was unmissable, with flags out and military presence everywhere. Then again, maybe that is an ordinary Thursday in DC.
We visited the gravesite of the Kennedy family, and watched the changing of the guard at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - both incredibly haunting.
We were wondering about the placement of flags on each and every gravesite that was beginning while we were there and we learned that since 1948, on every Memorial Day weekend, the 3rd U.S. Infantry have placed small American flags precisely one foot in front of each grave marker - and each is centred perfectly.
There are over 220 000 flags to place! They are then taken down again at the conclusion of the Memorial Day weekend.









Our next stop was the iconic Lincoln Memorial. Which, while I am sure many of you are hugely interested in the history and the facts about this massive memorial, we only really wanted a photo like this:


Touristy photos aside, the memorial was beautiful. It was packed with tourists, but also locals just having a perch and enjoying their coffee. We also spotted a few runners who were using the stairs to up the ante on their workout. I love it when a city gets it right, when a memorial is seen, used and appreciated by the people who live around it. There is nothing more disappointing that something caged and seen at a distance.
The views of the memorial are rivalled only by the views seen from the memorial. It was the perfect place to start the day and watch the people go by for a little while.







Finally, we spent a day exploring the historic Georgetown area. It took a short train ride and a little walk past the famous university's medical campus, and then there we were. In America's version of Notting Hill. Old stone and brick houses, bursting with quaint details and pretty gardens. The area is situated along the Potomac river and features an endless list of restaurants to try along the main street and along the waters edge.
It is also home to some damn great shopping. We popped in and out of Nordstrom, Kate Spade and a couple of smaller boutiques. We took breaks to sample some cupcakes from Sprinkles and Georgetown Cupcake - I only wish I'd managed to save space for some more from Bayou Bakery and Dean & Deluca. But then there wouldn't have been any room for the amazing burger form Good Stuff Eatery - and their famous lemon meringue milkshake. It was well worth sacrificing two stops on my cupcake tour.





Our evening ritual was to grab a healthy dinner from either Protein Bar, or Chop't. We'd take it in a takeaway box and head down to the National Mall in time for sunset. We'd watch the local soccer and baseball teams play in front of the Capitol building, people walking their dogs and joggers passing by. We always sat on what we'd decided was 'our' bench for the duration of our stay and sit in the direction of Washington Monument and watch the sunset. These are some of the happiest memories from our American road trip.

DC, what more can I say? You're definitely a favourite.




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Friday, 21 August 2015

New in | Milkshake HairCare



 I got a sneak peak at the latest RetailBox Secret Box (number 14) last week and had some time to test the products inside. I can now not only reveal whats inside, but I can also tell you a bit about them and what I think.

I present, Milkshake Hair Care....
...the best smelling hair products I have ever used.


Shampoo and Conditioner (R250 each)


Firstly, they smell like peach yoghurt and you'll be tempted to lick your locks after using. There are so coconut undertones in the scent as well - thanks to the presence of coconut oil in the ingredients. It is heavenly. Speaking of ingredients, you'll find hydrolysed keratin, shea butter and again oil, along with that coconut oil which nourish and protect your hair. Infused with organic Muru Muru butter, this shampoo and conditioner maintain colour vibrance and helps restructure damaged hair.

Now for what I thought: I have fine hair. It is also thin and it is also bleached. Usually products packed with oils and butters leave me with a sticky un-brushable mop. These, however, did not and I am very happy about it. Mostly because I like my hair smelling like sweets. But also because they are doing such a damn fine job of nourishing my dry ends and leaving my hair looking shiny and soft. Just remember that you don't need tons of the stuff to get results and you'll love it.


Leave-in Hair Milk (R244)

It smells like butterscotch and that was all I needed to fall in love immediately. It claims to do 12 different things which I think is ridiculous, but after reading up on it and finding that it was named "Best Leave-In Conditioner" at the Hair Magazine awards this year, I figured it might actually be able to back those claims.  These are some of the claims that stood out to me:
  • Protects from UV rays
  • Maintains your hair colour
  • Repairs all hair types
  • Protects against heat
  • Detangles hair
  • Controls Frizz
  • Creates volume
As I mentioned, I don't have a lot of hair. Shame.
So when it comes to leave-in treatments and conditioners I am fussy as hell because I am generally left with an oily, sticky mess. I tested in two ways. First I used it after shampooing and conditioning and spritzed it on to use as a styling aid - an hoped it would protect my hair from the heat styling, while detangling and still creation volume etc, etc etc. Honestly, I should not have conditioned. It was too much for my 6 strands of hair. So I tried again the next day and used it as a leave-in conditioner after towel drying my freshly shampooed hair. This was much better and it was brilliant as a detangled and heat protection spray. Nothing on this planet gives me volume, so I can't comment there, but it certainly kept the frizz at bay.

My second test, and my new daily favourite is to use it as a leave-in conditioner and let my hair dry naturally. My hair is soft to the touch and feels thicker and healthier using this product. Then if I want to style it, I do that much later in the morning.

All in all, the Milkshake brand and these 3 products you'll find in the latest Secret Box are a serious bunch of winners.
And at R299, you'd best be quick and snap up the latest secret box, because you're saving a massive R445!

Yes I am fully aware I need to give my shower tiles a good grout blitz....but at least now you've seen my shower. Now you can picture me in it....sexaaay.
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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

PUMA x SWASH



I have become a full-blown sneaker head. I own over 10 pairs and I can't/won't stop. I guess life in Cape Town lends itself to the laid back vibe of the sports- luxe trend that continues to dominate. I am certainly not complaining. Long live the reign of flat shoes and sneakers. My feet are grateful!

Moving on. I've been working with PUMA for a while now and it is a partnership I hope lasts forever more. Their commitment to breaking boundaries and bringing us something fresh never seems to cease. The new PUMA collaboration has to be my favourite one yet. I love the floral designs on the sneakers, matching hoodies and jackets. 
SWASH is the combined skills of print specialist duo, Sarah Swash and Toshio Yamanaka - super well-known for the realisation of their signature hand-drawn and painted artworks, SWASH uniquely instil their digital prints with the charm of human touch. The collection is exclusive to PUMA Select and Shelflife and I am totally torn between reliable 'ol grey printed sneakers, or the gorgeous bright tangerine colour! Or both. Both is good. 









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