This week's reflections (28.02.2014)

What pleasant surprises did I discover this week? I wasn't feeling all that well this week due to a bladder infection. If you have ever had a bladder infection you may understand my situation and the reason I did not have many "pleasant" surprises this week. However, I can say that I am glad to be going home tomorrow, where I have proper, unlimited internet access. Regular blogging will resume shortly. It was also Malcolm's birthday on Wednesday but because he was writing exams we weren't able to do anything. We'll possible go out this weekend :)

What lessons did my work teach me that I could build upon next week? I was easily annoyed at work this week. Sometimes I'd just like to throw my toys out the cot and give everyone a piece of my mind. Reading that last sentence again, I guess the lesson I learnt at work this week is that holding my tongue gets the bills paid every month. Ha ha!

Are my short-term efforts and long-term goals still aligned? Yes but I do feel a shift in goals approaching, depending on a few catalyst events coming up sooner than I expected.

What could I have spent more or less time doing? I really missed blogging this week. Yay for more blogging!!

How did fear and uncertainty affect what I did and didn't do? I feel determined this week so any uncertainty was brushed off of my shoulders very quickly.

What mental clutter can I clear? I have been thinking about my career this week which has made me feel uneasy causing tons of mental clutter. However, as stated in the previous reflection, I still carry a determined attitude.

What is the first logical step for next week? Setting boundaries. Working from home doesn't leave space for structure. If you have queries from clients at 7pm, you tend to use personal time to address them. Its a fine line but needs to be drawn.

Image from Pinterest

Have a fantastic weekend lovelies :)
Claire

How we do it: Seed Loaf

Read our first post on baking with Snowflake easymix mixes here. We made some yummy Cuppuccino muffins. This time around we tested out the seed loaf easymix recipe. Here's how it came out.


These easymix packs are between R10-R15 at most grocery stores like Pick 'n Pay, Spar and Checkers. With the dry ingredients provided in the easymix pack, you have to add wet ingredients like eggs, oil and low fat milk.


To add more flavour, we put two hand fulls of Safari raisins in the mixture before baking.


Put the mixture into a bread-baking tray to get the "loaf" shape which is easy to cut into slices. Bake at 180 degrees for 50 min. This seed loaf can be eat with plain butter (which is mindblowingly delicious when the seed loaf is still warm), you can eat it with cream cheese and cherry tomatoes or you can eat it with cheddar cheese like below.


What would you add to your seed loaf?

Malcolm and Claire

Essence "Grey-t to be here" | Nail polish review

I have a new Essence polish! This is a gorgeous grey called "grey-t to be here".

This is a beautiful winter grey to compliment the season's fashion. I knew this colour would be an investment as it is a similar colour to Nails Inc's Porchester Square and I love these shades.


Gee whiskers recently shared Essence's "absolutely blue" which has a slightly blue-er shade than the image above.

Overall this is a pretty shade of grey for winter and as always, Essence polishes are affordable (R19.95 each). You can find Essence cosmetics at Clicks and Dis-Chem.

View some of my previous nail polish reviews here.

Claire

This week's reflections (21.02.2014)

What pleasant surprises did I discover this week? I just love people! Being back in the corporate office of the company I work at, reminded me how my happiness depends on seeing new faces, chatting to colleagues and listening to conversations (not eavesdropping). Working from home since the beginning of January has made me appreciate the company of others.

What lessons did my work teach me that I could build upon next week? Being focused in this money hungry world is the key. If you spin slightly off of your axle, you will spend more time and energy regaining that focus with could be costly. Always have an idea of where you're going and what you need to do to get there.

Are my short-term efforts and long-term goals still aligned? Yes

What could I have spent more or less time doing? I could have spent more time telling my loved ones how much they mean to me. This should be a must every week!

How did fear and uncertainty affect what I did and didn't do? Once again, this week went well in regards to the decisions I made. I hope to help others, like my colleagues, get into a more confidant mindset.

What mental clutter can I clear? Stress; about house hunting and purchasing our new car. If it will be, it will be and I need to accept that.

What is the first logical step for next week? Uplift others around me, help where I can and appreciate the people around me.

Image Source
Have a great weekend,
Claire

Good Stuff Skincare Company | Skincare review

Good Stuff The Skincare Company is a new brand, to me, even though it has been available in stores for a while now. One thing you need to know about beauty bloggers is we get many products to review, which is a real blessing, but that means we have very little choice of what we buy. Why do I need a new body wash if I have 6 sitting in my bathroom cabinet? 

After taking my break from Miss Claira-Bella, my body wash reserves were used up pretty quickly, that's when I realized I hadn't bought my own body wash in over a year. I have tested out some fab skincare products and would repurchase many of them in a heartbeat but I decided to support a unknown (to me) brand and try something I wouldn't normally use. I browsed for a good 20min and settled on the "Good Stuff".


These yummy products are really affordable. The Bee Natural body wash was a steal at only R16.95. Rock 'n Rooibos body mist was R17.95. The quirky descriptions they add to the packaging is what caught my attention. They don't complicate things and get right to the point of why they think you should buy their products. Picture it as being a short blog post they paste onto the bottles to self market when you walk passed. Its pretty genius.

Putting all the "bla bla" aside, these products have been a dream to use. The scent of the Bee Natural body wash is rather wild but in a good "I want to eat it" way. It makes me feel like I need to build an outdoor shower under a forest of trees and put a bird soundtrack on my phone to play. Truly original!

I purchased the Rock ' n Rooibos body mist as a room and linen spray to give the house a fresh scent. As soon as the scent fills your chest it warms your body. It is really welcoming.

Overall I am loving this brand and cannot wait to try the other products.

I purchased my Good Stuff products at Dis-Chem but apparently they are available at Pick 'n Pay. If you see them anywhere else, let me know. Visit their Facebook page and website for more info on product ranges.

Claire

How we do it: Easy-peasy Cupcakes

Last week I posted a picture on Instagram of cupcakes I randomly baked. It got tons of great feedback so I thought I would share how easy they are to make.

I mentioned in our previous "How we do it" post that baking from scratch is really rewarding and it keeps all your granny's home made recipes a family tradition, however we don't necessarily have time for that these days. I love baking from scratch but I like to do things the easy way every now and then.


My all time favourite cupcake mix is Golden Cloud's cake mix. Even though it says cake mix, it is perfect for cupcakes too. The wet ingredients you need to add to the dry ingredients they provide are eggs, oil and milk. Mix everything up, place the mixture into your cupcake holders and bake for 20-25min (measurements and quantities are on the box).

I made my own butter cream icing. I used white unsalted butter (Spar stocks "Wooden Spoon" butter which is my fave for icing), regular icing sugar, fresh cream and vanilla essence. Beat with an electric mixer until creamy, smooth and blended.


After your cupcakes have completely cooled down, put your icing into an icing/piping bag and decorate your cupcakes. Add sprinkles, edible glitter and toppings to bring them to life and add character. I used roses and other flower toppings to represent a bouquet for Valentines day.


I sent a few of these cupcakes for Malcolm's colleagues to enjoy. He ended up giving all of them to a lady he works with who was going through a rough time after losing her unborn baby. I really hope they cheered her up.

If you have some cool cupcake ideas please comment below. I love trying new things for my cupcakes! You can also tweet me @Msclairabella.

I hope you have a tastey Tuesday
Claire

Icebox Colors "St Tropez Lights" | Nail polish review

A few weeks ago I posted my very first review for Icebox colors' holographic polish in the colour "Las Vegas Lights". I was mesmerized by the multicoloured shimmers and shades. The brand showed great potential from the get go.

This week I will be reviewing the colour "St Tropez Lights"
St Tropez Lights in the full sun
This shade of polish reminds me of those yummy orange ice lollies we used to buy as kids, a total bargain at only two rand each. This is not a very common colour to wear on your nails but it is rather refreshing. I imagine wearing this to the beach with a pretty pink bikini.

The holographic effect is not as visible in the orange polish as other shades in the Icebox Colors holographic range. I also had a slight problem with the orange staining on my nails even with a base coat (never knew that was possible).

St Tropez Lights in the shade
Overall this is an average polish, the quality and drying time are pretty good however the holographic effect was a bit lost on the less opaque shade like the "St Tropez Lights"orange. Also, make sure you apply a good quality base coat to protect your natural nail.

Icebox Colors has tons of other holographic shades on offer. Check them out on their website and let me know which is your favourite.

Claire

This week's reflections (14.02.2014)

What pleasant surprises did I discover this week? I am pretty good at organizing. I was a bit apprehensive when I realized that being a bridesmaid at my best friends wedding meant that I would have to organize her bridal shower but seeing all my plans come together this week, I need to give myself a pat on the back.

What lessons did my work teach me that I could build upon next week? Success is a gradual incline. Do not rush things that are out of your control.

Are my short-term efforts and long-term goals still aligned? Yes.

What could I have spent more or less time doing? I could have spent more time developing positive thoughts. For some reason, this week was emotionally draining on me. Read this post on the phase of life I am currently in.

How did fear and uncertainty affect what I did and didn't do? I got a lot of things done this week as I was certain about my decisions.

What mental clutter can I clear? Small situations which I stress about.

What is the first logical step for next week? I will be back in the corporate office for the next two weeks starting on Monday. I am excited to see my colleagues again and welcome my old environment back for a brief period.

Image from Pinterest
Have a fantastic weekend!
Claire

Getting your nails ring ready

Essence's "me and my lover"
Valentines Day is tomorrow and the chances of your significant other putting a ring on your finger is higher during the day of love (14 million estimated proposals every year worldwide on Valentines Day). Men seem to take advantage of Valentines day because they can be as cheesy as they want and no one is allowed to blame them. In other words, it makes their job easier and we couldn't be happier even if they did propose in a super cheesy way.

Like almost everything else we do nowadays, we Instagram it, and having a new sparkly friend on our hand warrants no exceptions. You want to make sure your nails are extra pretty just in case your partner surprises you tomorrow and the last thing you want people to comment on your pictures is "did your nails get into a fight with sandpaper?".

One of my favourite Valentines Day appropriate nail polishes is "me and my lover" by Essence.

Essence's sand effect polish in "me and my lover"
This polish is a light rosy red with small bits of gold simmer. The sand effect gives a pretty texture which is quite original compared to other Valentines Day nail options. I am such a fan of this nail polish because it is really durable. My manicure lasted 6 days and only had very tiny chips on the nail tip. This polish has been put onto Essence's discontinued list so if you do see a few of these bottles on the shelf, snap them up immediately!

Essence also has a new range out called "Effect nails"
Image source
These little nail art pearls, glitters and powders are out on the shelves right now. I have spotted them at Dis-Chem stores for R29.95 each. I think the red flocking powder is a great idea for velvet Valentine nails.

If you find yourself without a ring at the end of the night, do not fret. Take comfort in the fact that your man was really proud to hold hands with a woman who takes care of herself and there's always your birthday ;)

Tweet me your valentines day manicures @Msclairabella.

Claire

This point in my life

My mom always told teenage me that between 18 and 25, you go through a limbo stage in life. Almost like you're going somewhere but nowhere at the same time. A stage in your life where you are unsure about pretty much everything and you have very little control over this perception.

This is where I am right now.

So it's true, moms are always mostly correct. She went through this herself and so did my older sister. I am hoping this stage of my life would come to some sort of conclusion by the end of this year. Being a young adult is rather annoying and fills your chest with anxiety. Always having to question the decisions you make and the thoughts you think. Even whilst writing this blog post I question my actions, "why am I sharing this?".

Looking back on the past five years of my time on earth makes me exhausted, for no real reason. I have spent a lot of my time reenacting a profound game of table tennis, (me being the ping pong ball) changing jobs, deciding on a career path, switching between households and unsuccessfully completing my degree. I also feel like I have been playing a hopeless game of Monopoly where my deck of chance cards only contain "Go back fifteen spaces, stop at 'Go', oh...and you do not get $200" instructions. I am forever starting over.

Maybe the only reason successful individuals reach their goals is simply because they get fed up with being in a specific situation or feeling a specific way. My breaking point is approaching and I welcome it with open arms. I need to regenerate the thoughts in my head and start playing a new game. A game where I have control. A game like Sims!

Sitting down and really philosophizing, I realize that these moments of frustration are the stepping stones which I am jumping on to get to a higher, better, more fulfilling stage of life. The stage where I am humble enough to appreciate what I have accomplished and wise enough to share my stories to other struggling minds. Right now I need to appreciate the things I would usually take for granted. The tedious 8-4 job that I have is giving me all the experience I need to move up on the corporate food chain. The tiny bachelor flat we stay in is giving Malcolm and I the opportunity to save for a deposit on a bigger, better place. This is what I need to do...be thankful!

I am leaving you with one of my new favourite quotes from a poem by Shane Koyczan.

"If you find that no one is listening, be loud. Make noise. Stand in poise and be open. Hope in these situations is not enough and you will need someone to lean on. In the unlikely event that you have no one, look again." Shane Koyczan.

Image from google
Claire

A simple Valentines day face | Cosmetic review

Every beauty blogger is going crazy this week with Valentines day posts in preparation for the magical day of love. I guess out of all the days of the year, this is when you want to look your prettiest and feel sexy. I like a simple face even on Valentines day. Too much makeup can be of putting so here are some products I recommend you use for your Valentines day face.

My simple makeup look that enhances my natural features, using all the products below.

1. Yardley CC cream in 00 Light - This is one of the better "tinted moisturizer" type products I have tried and it gives better coverage than most BB creams. 
2. Essence stay all day concealer in 20 Soft Beige - This is by far my favourite concealer as it hides dark circles under the eyes really well and it is really affordable
3. Essence sun club bronzer in blonde - This is an affordable bronzer to contour your face. Make sure you have a good quality blending brush when you apply this product.
4. Physicians formula pearl shimmer powder in 2P - I use this great quality product as a highlighter. I dust a bit on the top of my cheek bones, nose and any other spot I might want to highlight. It gives your skin a beautiful glow.


1. OFRA Cosmetics Semi permanent eyebrow gel in Khaki - I battled with this product in the beginning but I am starting to love it. Once you get the technique of application right, it looks lovely. This is a good quality product if your brows need a fill.
2. Essence's Cream eye shadow stick from the class of 2013 trend - This is a great product to use on the inner corner of your eye. Your eye will look more open and awake
3. Essence eye shadow in  27 Best Friends - This is a perfect colour to brighten up your eyelids. I use this all over my eye as a slight primer for the other shadows. It is also great for under your brow bone. (Excuse the broken pieces. I have been meaning to fix it for a while now.)
4. Essence Multi dimension eye shadow in 04 Miss Pretty - This is a beautiful copper brown shadow perfect for the outer corner of your eye as well as your eye crease. Blend out really well with a good blending brush.
5. Rimmel glam eyes HD - I use the black eye shadow from this palette with a wet eyeliner brush to add a slight smokey effect just above my top lashes. Then blend with a eye shadow brush. If you want a deeper smokey eye, use the deep grey and black on the outer corner of your eye.
6. GOSH cosmetics boomtastic and Rimmel lash accelerator mascara - I use 2-3 coats of these mascara's, alternating between the two.
7. GOSH cosmetics blush in 50 Pink Pie - I love the girly pink this blush offers. It gives your cheeks a pretty glow which works really well for valentines day. 


1. Bobbi Brown lipstick in 13 Heart - This is a really intense red lipstick. I lightly dab the product on my lip to give a slight tint. I cannot pull off a good red lip so this is a simple way achieving a rosy lip.
2. Essence XXXL shine lip gloss in 04 rising star - I love the shimmer in this lip gloss. It will finish off your lips with a kissable sparkle.

What are your must have products for Valentines day?

Claire

This week's reflections (07.01.2014)

Catch on my previous reflections here.

What pleasant surprises did I discover this week? Sometimes your body just needs a break. With being sick in the beginning of the week, I realized that sometimes you need to just stop and listen to your body. If it says go slow then stop what you're doing and take a few deep breaths. It'll thank you later.

What lessons did my work teach me that I could build upon next week? Prioritizing what is important will increase productivity.


Are my short-term efforts and long-term goals still aligned? Not quite but I am working on it.


What could I have spent less time doing? Being sick. haha

How did fear and uncertainty affect what I did and didn't do? When you have the flu you have a "I don't really care" attitude so I was not uncertain or fearful.

What mental clutter can I clear? My best friend's wedding is in four weeks. It is in the Drakensburg and I still haven't booked my accommodation as it is so damn expensive. This is causing some stress. At this point we will be sleeping in the car.

What is the first logical step for next week? Getting a head start. I am going to try schedule blog posts this weekend to be published next week. This will give me time to focus on my day job a bit more as blogging is distracting me.


Have a fantastic weekend!
Claire

January Beauty Favourites

Here and my favourite beauty products which I could just not get enough of in January.

Sh'zen's Spa additive for feet and Spa manicure for hands and nails

I did a review on my previous blog on these two best selling products from Sh'zen. My mom used to be a Sh'zen rep about 10 years ago so I am very familiar with the brand and the products. These two "Spa" products help cleanse and soften your skin, doing the perfect prep work for your manicure or pedicure. 

Add 10ml of the powder to warm water and soak for 10min. Follow with a good scrub and moisturizer and you're set! The foot Spa Additive is safe for foot spa contraptions machines. The manicure powder has a refreshing citrus scent and the foot spa powder has a peppermint scent.

I have used these Sh'zen products pretty much every week before painting my nails.

Essence's Nail Hardner, Mavala's Colorfix Top Coat and OPI's Cuticle Oil

These three products have been amazing to use in conjunction with each other. The Essence nail hardener is something I recently purchased as I have read many great reviews from other beauty bloggers in SA and abroad. My nails definitely feel a lot stronger since using this in my nail routine. The nail hardener teamed up with the OPI cuticle oil is a potent combination as it attacks weak nails from all angles.

The quality of Mavala's Colorfix top coat has blown my mind. The shine it adds to regular bland polish is outstanding. This top coat will brighten up and illuminate your manicure. By far the best nail brand when it comes to quality for money!

Nivea's Facial Cleansing Wipes

I have struggled with most face wipes out on the market. Some are too rough on my skin, they don't remove make up as well as I'd like, and there are really pricey. I picked up a Nivea branded pack of wipes as I have not tried them yet. I was pleasantly surprised by how soft the wipe cloth was and how moisturizing it left my skin feeling. Ever since, I have been using them on a regular basis. They are also not that badly priced. I think I bought mine for R40.

What were your favourites for January?

Claire

Essie Full Steam Ahead | Nail polish review

I am writing this post from my bed. I started my week off with horrible flu and finally have enough energy to type a few sentences together that hopefully make sense.

Over the weekend I did some toiletry shopping at Dis-Chem and picked up my very first Essie polish! Can you believe it took me so long? This stunning colour is called "Full stem ahead".


I always try to be truthful in my posts so I will not hide the fact that I think Essie polishes are expensive! My bottle of Essie polish cost R115.00. I would definitely rather purchase a cheaper polish from Tip Top, Essence or LA Colors and buy something else with the rest. Unfortunately this girl has bills to pay...but going with my 2014 guideline of trying new things, I splurged a little to get my hands on an Essie polish. You have to try something at least once right?

This bottle was actually in the discontinued pile of cosmetics in Dis-Chem. The pretty lavender shade initially caught my eye and upon closer inspection I saw it contained silver shimmer as well. I was sold!

This polish was not as pigmented as I hoped it would be. In the image above and below, I was wearing two coats but later contemplated applying a third. The brush was average and applied easy enough to get full coverage. One thing that really did impress me was the sheen finish. I did not need to apply a top coat for a pretty glossy shine. The formula held its own radiance throughout my manicure which is quite rare but also expected out of a pricey polish.

"Full steam ahead" is from Essie's Naughty Nautical collection. This collection is at the end of it's run, meaning no more will be produced, however there may be a few bottles left in selected stores, you just have to keep your eye out. After my purchase I visited Rubybox.co.za to check out their online store and the Essie polishes in the online store are cheaper that buying them off of the shelf (excluding shipping). Check out which polishes they have to offer buy clicking here.
Image from Google
Overall I am really happy with the colour I chose and how well it shines however there are cheaper polishes out there and you can easily get the same look with a good topcoat. 

What did you think about this pretty polish? Do you have any Essie recommendations for possible purchases I may make in the future? Comment below or tweet me @Msclairabella.

Claire

SILTS Volume 1

Bloggers get tons of press released on a daily basis for new product launches, sale news and general promotional brochures. I love these informative emails but most times they do not warrant an entire feature on "this polish is new and you should buy it - even though I don't know if its crap or not". To solve this problem, I have decided to do a filtered newsletter type of thing to let you know what I think is cool and stuff I'd like to share (SILTS) with you.*

Starting off this first volume of SILTS; there is a new organic beauty in town called Juice Beauty.
There is a pop up beauty salon in Stuttafords, in Sandton City, where you can book a 45 min Juice Beauty facial. Juice Beauty Skincare is up to 95% Certified Organic (among the highest organic content in skincare) with a powerful patent-pending 100% organic juice base. Read more on the Juice Beauty brand on the Natures Colours website. Ruby Box's online store also has a sale on some of the Juice Beauty products so go check that out here.

Crabtree & Evelyn Summer Sale

 Crabtree & Evelyn have stunning products and what better way to enjoy them than a sale? You can purchase selected products at a discounted price (between 70% and 80%) from now till the 9th of February from the following stores;  La Lucia Mall, Design Quarter, Hyde Park, V&A Waterfront and Menlyn Park. Then there will be an online sale at www.crabtree-evelyn.co.za on the 10th and 11th of February.

National fresh breath week

Yip...that is apparently a thing. From the 3rd to the 10th of February it may be valuable to educate yourself on oral hygiene. IVOHealth highly recommends this website for some good advice and general F&Q's on general oral hygiene. Even better, visit your dentist for your annual checkup this week!

Hills has something for your furry friends
During the month of love (February, duh!) Hill’s will be showing how much they care by giving you a gorgeous high-quality ‘I ♥ Hill’s’ foodie bin absolutely free when you buy two selected bags of Hill’s Science Plan.

Buy two small (2.5 or 3kg) bags of Hill’s Science Plan Canine Mini or two medium (3.5kg, 4kg or 5kg) bags of Hill’s Science Plan Feline and receive a high quality 5kg Curver bin worth R250. For larger dogs, buy two large (11kg or 12kg) bags of Hill’s Science Plan Canine to receive the 15kg Curver bin with wheels worth R500 – a hard-wearing and practical solution for those bulky bags of food. The Curver bins are only available at participating vets while stocks last from February. Get more info by clicking here.

Lastly, there is a new Essence Trend on the horizon.
This new "Vintage District" trend will be available at Clicks and Dis-Chem stores from the 28th of March and will only be on shelves for 4 weeks. This trend includes stunning blush powders, gel eyeliners and exciting nail art decorations. Keep an eye out for some possible reviews on Howse Life.

I hope these little snippets of news helped keep you informed. If you have any questions about the above or if you need more information, pop me an email - msclairabella@gmail.com.

Ciao for now,
Claire

*I have not tried any products mentioned above unless otherwise stated. The content above is for information purposes only.