Monday, 30 December 2013

Sleek trio of blushers: review

I am currently in Sharm el Shiek in Egypt and as always I have taken too much luggage. But not with my make up and toiletries. 

I always struggle in my attempt to not overload the make up bag when I go on holiday, so I have now started looking for handy make up sets and palettes. 

This blusher set from 'sleek' has done the trick for me in sorting out what blushers to take, offering three very pink but very different shades. 

a trio of pinks to add a flush of colour to your cheeks

Friday, 20 December 2013

The Body Shop vitamin C skin reviver: review

At this time of year it is vital you get your vitamin C but how about some for your face too!

Couple of weeks ago my lovely friend Natalie introduced me to “Vitamin C Skin Reviver” from the BodyShop.

A serum oozing with vitamin c and Brazil nut oil,  this helps perk up dull skin. And I got to say, I genuinely think that this has worked for my usually sad winter skin.   

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Lush cream cleanser: review - au naturel and handmade

I seem to be a bit obsessive on facial products at the moment, doing my best to try what’s out there to get my face sparkly clean. Lately I have been sampling a natural cleanser from Lush – Ultrabland facial cleanser.
ultrabland facial cleanser...
said to be the Lush founder's fav product! 

It’s marketed as a beeswax and rose cream cleanser, homemade with fresh ingredients, with ingredients such as almond oil, honey and rose water. Sounds tasty and perhaps the ingredients for a dessert (I am thinking Turkish delight perhaps?!) but being au naturel, I was a bit sceptical about it working.
What’s more, the lady in the shop said that as my face is used to the usual chemical stuff, it may take a while for my skin to get used to it. Hmmm.
Turns out however, that this stuff actually is pretty good and does a thorough and proper job of cleansing my skin. It is quite thick and a touch oily in texture so is probably best for dry skin.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

skin care: how to make your skin smooth and glow – part 2

I am on a quest to rid blast my black heads and whittle away the wrinkles! I blogged a load of tips back at the end of November  but there are heaps more out there so this is part two of skin care: how to make your skin smooth and glow!

Generally my skin, although very dry, does ok but one thing that constantly bugs me, is my large pores and black heads. Pores appear larger when they're filled with dirt, oil, and dead skin cells, so removing this and the pores will be clearer and smaller. To clear out the gunk, start exfoliating regularly! I do it every other day otherwise it dries out my skin too much. Look for products with salicylic and glycolic acid. I am currently using Neutogena deep clean invigorating scrub for an everyday use and a microdermabrasion one from No7 that I use twice a week which I blogged about back in April

exfoliating is key to glowing skin! 

Drink lots of water
It is amazing how something so simple is so effective. It’s your cheapest beauty trick by far! Why? Water helps clear out toxins that cause inflammation and blemishes, as well as keeping you hydrated AND it assists in transporting nutrients and oxygen to skin cells.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

skin care: how to make your skin smooth and glow

Last month I vowed to start taking good care of myself again and was on the quest for vitality – I want glowing skin, luscious locks and strong nails. Back in October I blogged about the nails and earlier this month about hair. Today I am sharing with you what I have been doing to achieve fresh, winter happy skin.  Apart from too much mulled wine and cocktails at the weekend resulting in a huge spot on my chin, it’s actually doing ok this winter!

So here are my facial skin care tips:

Be clean
I feel the most important tip is to always thoroughly clean your face at the end of the day!
Simple enough but so many of us skip it!
Going to bed with makeup or the day’s grime on will lead to a block up in your pores which can result in bacteria build up which equals spots and worse. Not convinced? Check this article out.

from the daily mail

Invest in a few more minutes
Face wipes just don’t cut the mustard. Sure they are handy for festivals and late nights out but on your average day spend a few more minutes when cleaning your face! I wash with a face wash (not soap as this dried skin out) and then cleanse after. After washing your face, it may look clean, but run some cleanser over your skin and you’ll be shocked at how much more grime comes off! Why do this? Because the cleaner the skin, the better the creams sink in. Think about it, it is like sticking a lick of paint over the top of a dirty wall.

Monday, 25 November 2013

How to avoid a hangover this party season!

For a Monday morning I felt quite sprightly today. Surprising in itself but even more so because me and the girls drank a lot of wine and cocktails this weekend! Although a little tired Sunday morning (that will be the 4 hours sleep I got Saturday night) and my skin looking a tad duller, I felt fine – no headaches, nausea or that feeling that I wanted to curl up and die!

I will let you into a secret, please don't hate me – I have only ever had one hangover in the whole of my life. Yes, just the one. I always wake up feeling semi normal and totally functional.

My friend joked yesterday that this was my human “super power”
A bit of it may be luck but I also like to think I know the rules to avoiding a hangover as well as finding a few tricks that work for me. 

With the festive season nearly upon us, let me get you in on the secret...

Monday, 18 November 2013

Lush's lip scrub - buff away chapped lips: review

This weather is not kind to my lips. My lips are not friends with the bitter wind, the freezing cold, the office heating system or the drizzly air. I find that my lips are permanently chapped and dry, and that I grow a disgusting compulsion to pick the dry skin off my lips. (Don’t gimme that – we all do it secretly!)

tasty, handmade and preservative free! 

I had even given up the lipstick for a while as soon as I put it on, it just highlighted the dryness and the cracks. Not pretty.

But my friend Sophie introduced me to my knight in shining armour last week and this little pot of brilliantness has now reformed my lips to soft and kissing worthy once more!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

"Burger and Lobster", London - simple concept, fun taste

I did it! I finally made it to “burger and lobster” (Mayfair)

Me and the Boy went the other day, after meaning to go there for months, since it came highly recommended from my housemate who went there for a first date. After months of not having the time to go (wedding, homelessness in between renting, new flat, manic work load etc) and a failed attempt with the girls one Saturday at 6pm (a 3 hour wait can go stuff itself thanks to the no booking under 6 persons policy), I went this Tuesday. 

I have had a few days off this week to spend some time with the Boy who has just come back from a three month deployment so we decided it was probably best to try and go midweek and for an early dinner to avoid the disappointment of a killer wait. And we were right. 4pm on a Tuesday and we walked right in and had our meal served to us in about 10 minutes.

Why the quick service?...

Monday, 11 November 2013

"Lush" spa, tailor made massage

My birthday may have been two months ago but I still haven’t cashed in the beauty treatments that the Boy bought me as a present. So this weekend I had the first of three treatments, my “tailor made massage” at the Lush Spa on Kings Road in London. 

I have always been bit of a fan of the Lush products but didn’t even realise that they had a few spas! They also have places in Kingston, Poole, Leeds, Edinburgh and Liverpool. They also have some in Japan, France and Korea in case you fancy popping there!
I am bit of a beauty treatment junkie and do like to indulge in one every couple of  months, so I like to think I know my stuff about what makes a good treatment.

lush spa treatment room

I can honestly say that this massage treatment was one of the best I have ever had, not just in terms of the massage itself but he experience as a whole – it was truly unique, relaxing and self-indulgent! This is the crème de la crème of pamperings!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Fresh cut flowers - care and tips for your bouquet

My cold, wet Friday afternoon was brightened today, not just because the weekend was nearing, but because a beautiful bunch of flowers from the Boy arrived! A melody of carnations, mixing pinks, creams and ones with a pink filly edging (which a quick google assures me is a “picotee”!!!).

Once the initial “ooh I feel so adult having flowers delivered to me” feeling wore off, I suddenly realised I had no idea what to do with them!

Flower bouquets always look so pretty when they are wrapped up in their packaging until you undo them to pop them in a vase. They go from being a sophisticated ensemble from a skilled horticulturist to basically a vase with loose flowers plonked in it with a bit of fancy green stuff around it, something that a kid could have put together.

But inside the box was a helpful guide on how to care for flowers. So here are some simple tips that you might find useful in arranging your flowers in the vase and looking after your beautiful bunch…

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Paco Rabanne Black XS perfume: review

The other day I noticed that I was getting a little low on perfume. I have a couple of bottles on my bed side, Lady Million and Loverdose, but I like to have a few to choose from  - perfume is like an accessory, different days warrant different smells, so it is nice to have variety. After all, you wouldn’t want to wear the same accessories day in and day out. 

Whilst I was thinking this, I was also trying to be a good girl and think thoughts my parents would be proud of, ie "save some bloody money"  but then something brilliant happened... the next day, £30 worth of John Lewis vouchers came through the post as part of the reward scheme for using the credit card! 

a new addition to the beauty buys...

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Barry M berry lipstick in #160: review

I have been loving lip colour the last few weeks and have been opting for a look that focuses less on the eyes (just a slick of black liquid eyeliner) and more on the lips. I recently blogged about a new find, using Revlon’s just bitten kissable balm stains for the first time, and it seems I can’t get enough of painting my lips!

I do tend to stick to similar neutral shades and pinks however but as the gloomier weather is drawing in though, I seem to want to steer more towards deeper and richer colours. I am keen to dip my toe in the “berry” tones and am looking for an almost purple velvety colour. I must confess though, I kind of chickened out and instead opted for a warm pinkish red. Although the colour in the stick looks like the kind of colour I want to be brave enough to flaunt...

Barry M in #160

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Laura Mercier bronzer: review

I love bronzer. Not going to lie. It is a staple, not just in my make up bag, but in my life. Well, who doesn’t love a warm glow that looks like you’ve had a bit of time in the sun?! Especially this time of the year when it is becoming glaringly obvious that the sun is starting to hibernate.

Over the summer, whilst I had a bit of colour to my body, I was using one from NARS in “casino”.  However, even a bronzer junkie like me has to admit that having a bronzed face and a pale body isn’t the best look and therefore I have  swapped this for a lighter shade (actually it was in my bag that was robbed in Ibiza but it was time to lighten up anyway).

Laura Mercier matte radiance baked powder

Monday, 7 October 2013

Roxie, steak and wine cafe, Fulham, London

Me and the girls have just moved to Fulham, and have been drooling over all the restaurants, cafés and eateries in the area, so have now decided we will be doing a "dinner club" once a month so we can basically eat our way around the area!

juicy steak and chips! 

This week, we ventured to Roxie, a steak and wince cafe on Fulham Road. We all had a medium rare steak with either the creamy mash or double cooked chips, which was all cooked to perfection. 

creamy mash 

I absolutely love mash potato but find that it can often be quite lumpy so its always bit of a gamble ordering it out. But it's safe to say, this mash was 100% lump free. My only complaint of the mash and chips...there wasn't enough! I needed more.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Models Own neon pink nail vanish: review

I love a bright nail and have been searching for a neon pink for a while now. The one I used to use got discontinued as apparently there was an ingredient in it that was against regulations!! Whilst this one isn't as "neon" as hoped, it certainly packs a pop!!!

bubblegum pop

Monday, 30 September 2013

Sweet n sticky chicken drumsticks recipe

My first Saturday night in the new flat was spent whipping up a dinner for two friends. I don’t have a very well stocked cupboard or fridge at the moment, and I am still learning my way around the kitchen (and getting used to an electric hob which I hate!) so although I wanted a dinner to satisfy the taste buds, it also had to be bloody easy to make! Oh and carb free as my friends is on the atkins.

After racking my brains, I had the perfect answer... sweet and sticky chicken with homemade coleslaw, sweet potato wedges and a side salad! 


sweet and sticky chicken 

This recipe is soooo tasty but soooo easy to do and with basic ingredients and a fuss free approach. I used drumsticks but you could use wings or kebab skewers, whatever you fancy really. Ideally you want this to marinate overnight but if you can’t, then prepping it in the morning and leaving it to cook later will do fine.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The garden museum cafe, Lambeth

I just made a lovely lunch time discovery – the garden museum cafe, on Lambeth Palace Road. A small cafe with indoor and outdoor seating that offers busy Londoners a spot amongst the trees that takes you away from the office.

welcome to this cute cafe and museum 

small garden at the cafe

Monday, 2 September 2013

Vivienne Westwood Melissa pink bow slingback heels

At the weekend I attended the most beautiful wedding of my university friend Chez. I felt that this gorgeous country wedding required me to wear a fabulous pair of shoes. So I finally wore my Vivienne Westwood Melissa Slingbacks. I think these are possibly the most exciting shoes I have ever bought.

adore these shoes 

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Meza - the tastiest Lebanese, Tooting Bec

If you only eat in one restaurant in Tooting Bec then you HAVE to eat at Meza, the most delicious Lebanese food I have ever eaten! I would like to say that this is my favourite restaurant but truth is that this is the first time that I have actually eaten there!  I have eaten the food many a time but it is such a small restaurant and so popular, getting a table takes a week in advance booking, so have only managed takeaways.

The meza menu

Liz, me and Charlie enjoying our Meza 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Nivea daily essentials double effect eye makeup remover: review

I have found the best eye makeup remover! “Nivea Daily Essentials, Double Effect EyeMakeup Remover.  It’s always essential to take off your eye makeup before bed, and for me, it was even more so this weekend.

This IS a daily essential! 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Sensational butterflies – live butterflies at the National History Museum

I love butterflies. Always have. So when I heard that the National History Museum was hosting a live outdoor butterfly house, I insisted to the Boy that we had to go to this exhibition. And that he was paying. He was terribly excited.

So Monday afternoon, before I closed the book on the chapter of my life that was the wedding, we had one last day before I trekked back to work and we headed off to the “sensational butterflies” exhibition.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Betty Blythe, 1920s vintage tea room - dress up and cakes!

With my mum now living in Cambodia, I missed both her birthday and mother’s day this year, so as she is now back in London for my forth coming wedding, I thought I would treat her to a surprise. I booked us an afternoon tea for two in Hammersmith, with all the usual trimming such as triangle sandwiches with the crusts cut off… but vintage style! It was at Betty Blythe, a cute tea room, filled with nostalgia, where you get to dress up in 1920’s inspired bits and bobs!

how cute is this! 

getting in to the spirit of it! 

Dress up and cakes… a perfect combo!

Before the sandwiches and cakes even started to arrive, we had already delved into the opportunity to try on everything – from hair pieces to top hats, to gloves to garters.

delve in to the drawers...

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Sofra Turkish restaurant, Covent Garden

I adore Middle Eastern food and for me, it is one of my favourite cuisines. Today I went on my friend’s recommendation and had an amazing dinner at Sofra” a Turkish restaurant on Travistock Street, in Covent Garden.

spacious conservatory at Sofra 

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Whitstable – seafood, seaside, sunsets and sugared donuts

My parents are in the UK at the moment, visiting from Cambodia for a few weeks, so I thought I would take a couple of days off to see them whilst they were staying in Whitstable. 

I haven’t been in my adulthood so can’t remember a thing about it but it was such a cute little place. What with this heat wave too, it actually felt like a mini summer break!

In all honesty, we didn't do that much, except taking lazy strolls along the beach and enjoy the glorious weather! 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Whitstable Oysters at the "Crab and Winkle"

Oysters. They are the marmite of the sea. A delicacy that doubles as an aphrodisiac or a disgusting edible live creature?

I had my first real oyster experience last night. I have been staying a few days with my parents in Whitstable and as Whitstable is famous for its Oysters I thought “why not give them a shot”.

We had a table booked at the “Crab and Winkle” restaurant on the Whitstable harbour with my dad’s friend Simon who highly recommended the place, including the oysters. But they did some other excellent seafood too, so don't think you'll just be served these critters!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Summer special - Packing tips for your holiday!

This week has been a summer holiday blogging special. I have shared with you my top 20 staples to take on holiday (part one and two), my flight bag saviours and the make up/beauty products and toiletries that will see you through the holiday, as well as my must have items to pack on your holiday.

Today is the last in the week long special and I will be sharing with you my top packing tips.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Picnicing in Brockwell Park

This weekend I added another two spots to the list of places I love about London – Portabello Market and Brockwell Park.

I felt the need to venture out of my “park comfort zone” and picnic in a park other than Hyde Park, St James’s or Regents Park.

Brockwell Park

So Friday evening, I packed a picnic and took the Boy to Brockwell Park for a romantic evening at dusk.
Brockwell Park is a beautiful and vibrant park, sandwiched between Dulwich, Stretham and Brixton.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Smoked mackerel pate - a healthy dip

Last Thursday me and the family had planned a BBQ get together at my nans in the Garden of England, aka Kent.

Although, nonstop rain and grey skies meant we had to do the stereotypical British thing of nominating someone to stand outside with the brolly whilst blackening the meat.
Then we ate indoors in the living room.

delicious and creamy

To accompany the BBQ meats, we had a delicious selection of homemade sides and salads, from guacamole to cous cous.

I went a bit different this with my contribution though and went for smoked mackerel pate.

A lover of any food sourced from the sea, I love fish and love smoked mackerel. When I was aimlessly wandering through the aisles in Sainsbury’s one day, I came across a pot of smoked mackerel pate in the chilled section. Intrigued, I took to google and found that there was no need to buy a pot. It’s soooo easy to make, with simple every day ingredients that you most likely will have in the fridge.

something a little different for a BBQ buffet


3-4 smoked mackerel fillets (take the skin off)
200 g low fat cream cheese
2 tablespoons of natural low fat yoghurt
Juice and zest of one large lemon (unwaxed)
Half a red onion, finely chopped (optional) 
One teaspoon of Dijon mustard (or even wholegrain)

simple ingredients for a fresh flavour 

Skin the mackerel and pop into the food processor. Blend until a course pate consistency. If you don't have a food processor, use a good old fashioned wooden spoon and arm muscle, which in all honesty is just as easy

In a bowl, mix the blended mackerel with the cream cheese, yoghurt, mustard, lemon juice and onion

this is so easy to make!

Season. Serve. Enjoy 

Making it yourself too means you can cut the addictive crap, the flavouring and preservatives. Sea food has a multitude of health benefits and mackerel is no different. Mackerel is wonderfood of health benefits, including a brilliant source of protein and fatty acid omega-3, which can help to protect the heart. 

So this mackerel pate is low fat, tasty and a great healthy snack all round.

I served with these morish crostinis, a bit like a giant crouton type bread thing and baked pittas chips. Delicious.

X x X 

Monday, 15 April 2013

Too much to do, too little hints for work/office productivity!

In the past few weeks, I have had quite a few days off, for various reasons such as visiting an unwell grandparent, meeting up with my dad who was visiting London for a few days, Easter holidays, various appointments, external work meetings, seeing the in-laws etc etc. Which was all very fun, interesting, or plain necessary, but has resulted in only working two days a week for the last few weeks (yay) but now meaning I have twice as much to do for the rest of April...and maybe May (boo).

My lovely weekend away in Manchester and good mood was abruptly bought to a stop this morning at 9am when I realised I had 256 emails that needed my attention!!! opps.

start loving Monday 

My out of office auto response will have bought me a little more time to respond to the emails’ authors but it did slightly panic me!

This got me thinking about work/life balance, productivity, and effective work habits.

Over the years I like to think I have learnt a great deal from the people I work with, picking up hints and tips along the way. So to help anyone else in my situation, here are my hints and tips. I have also labeled this as “fulfillment” in the blog categories as I am hoping that getting a good work/life balance brings contentment!

Hope this helps.

1. first off, write a to do list of everything you have to do this week and if possible, try and separate the list into
a) things that are urgent
b) things that can wait until the end of the week
c) things that don’t need action but just involve you chasing
d) things that you can delegate

2. also, stick a couple of things on there that you have already done/ are near completion, because ticking that off right away will trick your mind into thinking that you have already accomplished something and make you more motivated!

use a list to keep on track 

3. if possible, before a long stint away from the office, try and write a to do list that you will need to get through prior to going away. I did this before Xmas and it massively helped, as the dread of going back into the office and not knowing what I was doing was softened by the fact I already had a list on my desk!

4. if there are things that need chasing, try not to send emails, and pick up the phone to that person. This will probably be quicker than batting emails back and forth, back and forth, especially if either of you have questions. It will also help build rapport and relationships.

5. scan through the emails quickly at first (microsoft office has a preview reading pane) and mark the ones that nee urgent attention. Once you have accessed what the inbox contains you can go about actioning the emails. (I am not sure “actioning” is a word but you get the meaning of this made up verb).

6. try and only check emails at designated times, say fist thing in the morning, after lunch and hour before home time. Don’t attend to each email every time you notice it ping up in the bottom right hand screen! Turn this “pop up” off if necessary!

7. decide what to do with your emails. My dad taught me to either “delete” “do” “delegate” or “delay”. Sometimes he actually talks sense.

8. Tab and label your emails! I have green for urgent, purple for events, black for chasing others, red for funding etc, in that way I can group these tasks together. Which brings me onto the next tip...

9. don’t multi task! Instead do one “thing” at a time. Do it properly, efficiently and get it done quickly....
is this how you feel?

10. ..and if it helps, group activities together. Sometimes it helps if you do things in bulk, especially if you have to open certain folders, talk to certain people etc to access the info you need. If you take this approach, dedicate a time slot to getting it all done in one go. This is where the coloured labels help too in tip 5.  

11. I recently read that the mind is very quick to adapt (think of a time when an alarm goes off, it annoys you, and then later you suddenly realise it stopped and you didn’t even know cos you got so used to it!)Therefore, it is best to do the boring stuff altogether as your mind will adapt to it and it won’t be so painful to do!

12. learn the art of cut and paste! I have a “bank” of letters, emails, template posters etc that I use time and time again. all that is required is slight tweaking. Although, be careful, I have made the mistake of sending the email to the wrong person using the wrong template! Embarrassing and probably not seen as professional

13. clear your mind and don’t stress! Easier said than done, I know. But if something is troubling you or won’t leave your mind, just write it down and tell yourself you will deal with it later. It is simple but really works for me!

14. be wary of the unnecessary meetings or the ones that drag on for far too long! And I also learnt the hard way not to schedule in a load of (unnecessary) meetings straight after a long break on the first day back in the office. It’ll take up so much time and probably result in more work as meetings have a habit of producing more work for you!

15. perhaps sometimes you just need to say “no”. Easier said than done (especially to the boss) or at least be honest with your time scales, and not just promise to have it to them by the end of the day when you know realistically it’ll take several!

16. take breaks and most importantly a healthy lunch break! I see colleagues skip lunch all the time in an attempt to obtain half an hour, hour max, more working time.  but all that happens is you are drain and grumpy and unproductive in the afternoon. I love my food. I need my lunch break.

17. this may sound silly but learn to type quickly! I watch some people type using the two index finger technique. seriously! I am pretty quick at typing and I am sure this is in my favour as I can get twice as many emails answered as I am so quick at typing. What with spell check, it doesn’t even matter if you can’t type quick and accurate!  

and finally, don’t forget to switch off when you get home. I have never taken work home to do after office hours! And I don’t plan to start. I have never missed a deadline, so fingers crosses these tips are working for me so far! Oh, and after all that, don’t forget a little treat for you!

X x X