Friday, 19 September 2014

NOTD: MUA Nail Varnish in Shade 2 Black

Another one of my little treats, this was an impulse buy in Superdrug at just £1 as I was looking to replace my old bottle of black nail polish.

MUA can be really hit and miss, with some products performing as well as designer brands such as Bobbi Brown and others missing the mark. Which category does this nail varnish fit in?

MUA Nail Varnish from here

I applied one coat of this varnish and was surprised at how easily it went on. The lid is quite easy to hold and the brush is a good size that doesn's shed. One coat seemed thick enough so I didn't go in for a second. However, although the polish was thick enough to cover the nail with a good opaque coat, it still left gaps in the polish where it didn't cover the nail. Also, within a day I'd already started to see chips and wear on the nail tip, as pictured.

Although it is a great price and easy to use, the bottle itself is a little small at 6.2ml and it chips far too quickly.

However, I have noticed that MUA has stopped selling this particular polish and the new polishes come in much nicer bottles and have I assume been reformulated. I'd still be tempted to try out the new nail polishes especially the Essie dupes and hopefully this was just a one off.


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Bicester Village Haul ft Fendi, Barbour, The White Company and Jack Wills

On the hunt for a Prada purse, I recently visited Bicester Village on a sunny Sunday to see what was new in at one of my favourite shopping spots.

Halfway between Birmingham and London, I met my London-based friend there for some lunch and retail therapy.


Here's what I bought:

Jack Wills

The first shop to tempt me to part ways with my hard earned, I've managed to lose my navy hooded jacket and decided to take a look and see if I could find a replacement. I quickly picked up a bargain plain grey marl jumper for £19 and blue hooded jacket for £32 in Jack Wills. Bargain.


The White Company

Next up, I headed to The White Company for some serious interior and home inspiration. I dream of a White Company bedroom but for now, I consoled myself with a candle and candle lid. Although it is pretty pricey for a candle, they are fabulously scented and on the wish list for any candle connnoisseur along with Jo Malone and Diptyque.

Barbour

My favourite find of the day, I managed to pick up a Barbour jacket at the newly opened Bicester Village store. I've wanted one of these for years and never quite been able to justify it, but after trying on a few styles, I managed to find a Barbour that just seemed to suit me better than any I've seen before. Mine is green rather than navy, which is what I thought I'd end up buying, and I haven't worn it yet thanks to our long summer. However, as soon as the rain comes I'll be in this!

Fendi

Last but not least, this was a little bit of luxury! I love the Fendi brand and to me, it conjures up images of Italian glamour and luxury. Although I was tempted by a bargain 2Jour bag, I settled for this adorable Fendi stripe make up bag instead.


And the Prada purse? Well, I picked up all of the above for less than the price of a Prada purse at Bicester. Although I did manage to pick out a lovely style in a timeless colour, I still felt that I should maybe wait until next time for the big splurge.

Happy shopping!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Boston Tea Party Harborne Food Review

Boston Tea Party is a small group of cafe/restaurants that have slowly been popping up around the country.

Not available on every high street, BTP is a place to eat ethically sourced, simple food that is made on site daily. The milk is always 100% organic whilst the eggs and meat are free range.

The restaurants also give back to the community, acting as a social hub and place for everyone from mums to knitting and reading groups to meet and drink.

There are now 15 BTP's around the country, each designed to respect the building and locale, and I was kindly invited to review the newest BTP in Harborne, near Birmingham.

The School Yard is a compact food and drink destination in Harborne, just outside of Birmingham, and is home to Prezzo, Urban Coffee Company and of course Boston Tea Party.

Walking through the side door, it's hard to believe what's inside as you enter the shared courtyard space lit up with fairy lights strung amongst the trees. Making my way to BTP I walked past the outside courtyard seating into the main building. A converted Victorian school, the BTP space is full of quirky details and original features. With plenty of seating downstairs, I found the bar and said hello to BTP manager Dagmara.

Bike art 

We took a tour of the space, from the easy to access downstairs area and private outdoor space to the quieter upstairs area which can be hired out for free by groups and for events such as book groups, crafting sessions etc.

Upstairs seating

Finally we made our way back down and I took a look at the menu. Visting BTP for an evening meal, I could have opted for a burger, toasted sandwich or salad, but I love a good breakfast so decided instead to try out something different. I couldn't resist the Raspberry and Mango smoothie and it came out super fast having placed my order at the bar. Fruity, fresh and lively, I slurped it down so quickly!

Raspberry and Mango Smoothie 

Next I ordered my meal. Although I was tempted by the Kedgeree, Mushrooms on Toast, Veggie Breakfast and 'Get Your Goat, You've Pulled' toasted sandwich, I chose the Eggs Royale with avocado which is an English muffin topped with poached egg, avocado and hollandaise sauce - yum! Alongside the Royale I also tried out the Moroccan Mint Tea.


Eggs Royale

Having visited the Birmingham BTP I knew that they make a fantastic Orange and Almond cake and had my sights set on this before I'd decided on my main. Needless to say that this moist, orangey, marmalade laced cake rounded off the meal nicely.

Moroccan Mint Tea

There's also a huge variety of drinks available from smoothies and milkshakes to homemade iced teas, wine, craft beer and an unusually wide selection of teas and coffees.

As a gluten free foodie, I was especially impressed with how well BTP caters for gluten-free diners. The menu is clearly labelled with GF, the staff are really clued up on what is suitable to eat for those on a GF diet, and they can even use GF bread in a lot of dishes to make them gluten-free!

Orange and Almond Cake

Anyone who's been to a BTP will know that they make some incredible cakes that come out on huge wooden boards. They also make GF cakes on the regular, and as well as my Orange and Almond cake which is gorgeously gluten-free, they also had a GF brownie in when I visited.

Bakewell Tart cake slab

I had a great experience at Boston Tea Party Harborne and thoroughly enjoyed the food, atmosphere, service and fascinating building.

Although it's known as a daytime venue, they are open late until 11pm, making it a great place to go for a quiet drink or bite to eat in the evening. Harborne is a great place for evening drinks with plenty of pubs and restaurants to choose from. Boston Tea Party offers something really different to the pubs and restaurants, with a tasty menu, interesting space full of different seating areas and friendly staff. I'd definitely recommend that you try it out and I've already been back!



Friday, 12 September 2014

Macarons vs Macaroons: Yipsy Macarons Review

Finding sweet treats that are both tasty and gluten free has been a real challenge for me, and I'll always buy a gluten free cake if I see one.




One of my favourite sweet treats that are naturally gluten-free are macarons. Macarons you ask? Angela from Yipsy Macarons very kindly explained to me that macaroons and macarons are not the same thing; I know, newsflash. Macaroons are the big white coconut biscuits that your gran probably loves. Macarons are the pastel toned miniature bites of sweet candy heaven that you can find in Paris and selected foodhalls across the country.

Yipsy Macarons is the brainchild of Angela Yip. Leaving behind a career in finance, Angela Yip (nicknamed Yipsy by her friends) swapped spreadsheets for spatulas and started making macarons for weddings, events, birthdays and as corporate gifts.

I was lucky enough to be sent a box of macarons to try out; here are my thoughts.




Presentation

Beautifully presented in a specially designed gift box, my Yipsy Macarons came packaged up in a white slide out box tied up with string, a mini clothes peg and a Yipsy Macarons label.

Inside, the macaron line up was made up of 12 beautifully coloured and decorated macarons in flavours including Salted Caramel, Lemon, Raspberry, Chocolate Praline, Pistachio, Vanilla and Strawberry.


Texture

Macarons traditionally have a crisp outer shell, soft centre and a small 'foot' which rises during baking. They should all be the same size too so that when the macarons are put together, the two parts fit well. These macarons checked all the above boxes, result.


Taste

As for the taste? Whilst some macarons simply look good, these macarons taste fantastic too, and the colours really relate to the flavours they are meant to taste like! The yellow macaron is most definitely Lemon flavoured (and possibly my favourite for it's zesty, fresh taste), whilst the speckles on the Vanilla tells you that it has been flavoured with real vanilla pods. The Salted Caramel also deserves an honourable mention for its chewy texture and divine taste.


Storage

The macarons last for up to a week in the fridge and a month in the freezer. If you're taking them out of the fridge, Yipsy recommends that you leave them out at room temperature for 5 minutes before eating.

Overall

Yipsy Macarons are a sensational sweet treat that are full of flavour, texture, colour and come in at under 100 calories each. It's no suprise that local businesses including Henry Wong Harborne, The Plough and Urban Coffee Company are stocking these delicious delicacies.

Macarons are a great idea for birthdays and events, and what could be more decadent than a macaron tower to mark an occasion? I'd love one for my birthday and it's great to be able to offer up something that all your guests can enjoy, especially considering that they can be made dairy free on request too.

Thank you Angela - I'll be back!

For more information check out the Yipsy Macaron website, twitter and Facebook page.
 



Sunday, 7 September 2014

Birthday Present Post ft L'Occitane, Macadamia Oil, Bioderma and Origins

Not so long ago I celebrated my birthday and in amongst many meals out, I received some lovely presents from my friends and family. I love seeing what other bloggers have had for their birthday so I thought
I'd share mine with you guys too. 


There's a definite theme emerging here and it's beauty related! Everyone knows that I love receiving beauty products and I'm so lucky to have been given my favourites.


Here's my collected beauty products. I recieved a Barry M nail polish, Origins gift set that includes GinZing moisturiser and Clear Improvement mask, Per Una travel sized fragrance, Bioderma and Macadamia Oil. I am already using all of these and I love them so much! In particular, I use Bioderma every single day, the fragrance lives in my handbag for on the go spritzing and I use the Macadamia Oil on my hair when it's feeling dry on the ends in particular.


I also received this L'Occitane Frisson de Verveine gift set which includes a shower gel, cooling body gel, soap and hand cream in a very cute little drawstring bag. The new collection has a much lighter, sweeter, summerier scent to it and I've really enjoyed using the shower gel in particular.

What's on your birthday wish list this year?













Friday, 5 September 2014

Summer Holiday Outfit Part 3: Summer Stripes and Nautical Vibes

Who shies away from stripes? I do! However, we all know summer dressing is about fun and sometimes the rules go out the window, in a good way.

This summer, I ended up wearing two outfits featuring stripes, one in white and red, another in the classic combination of navy and white.

Navy and white is the only combination I would ever usually consider wearing and it was great to break out of my comfort zone and try out the white and red combo in the sunshine, which ended up being my favourite outfit teamed with a classic denim jacket.


Navy stripe dress - George // Gold sandals - New Look // Triangle necklace - Primark // Panama Hat - Primark // Aviator sunglasses - H&M


Red and white stripe dress - Primark // Tan sandals - Oasis // Denim jacket - Vintage //Panama hat - Primark

Have any of you guys been wearing stripes this summer?

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Bullring Birmingham #bullringbloggers Event

The Bullring Birmingham is home to so many great shops and brands, so the lovely folk at Bullring invited myself and a host of other Birmingham bloggers along to an event recently to showcase just some of the fabulous beauty and fashion brands on offer.

Hosted in the management suite, I came straight from work and dived into the refeshments table to give me some energy before checking out brands such as Kiehls, RMK, Clarins, Urban Decay and Umberto Giannini.

The drinks were served up in adorable mini milkbottles with pink and white paper straws, and Millie's Cookies even created a special cookie cake for the night emblazoned with #bullringbloggers. Later on in the evening, we were also treated to Nandos and Wagamamas treats (can you tell I'm a foodie?) but I digress!




We were welcomed to the event and then heard a fashion presentation from Karen Millen and had a talk on the new Umberto Giannini Curl Friends range from Umberto's PR manager.


Then, we were left to our own devices! I tried out some products from Giorgio Armani including the Blushing Fabric in two shades, one, a beautiful gold highlighting shade and another that gave a lovely natural flush to cheeks. I also tried out the Luminous Silk Foundation which was super light on skin.



RMK introduced us to their beautiful skincare range, including the Cleansing Balm and we learnt about the brand and its popularity in the Far East.

I also got to try out some beautiful products from Urban Decay and was super impressed with the Strip Palette! I loved how glowing this set made me look and it's definitely on the shopping list.

Next, I had a chat with the lovely Nicki from Kiehls (hope I've spelt that right!) and went through some of their new products as well as classics such as the Creme De Corps, then the girls at Clarins went through their pretty Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector collection of plant therapy infused balms.



We also took a look of some of Shu Uemura's iconic products including the super softening cleansing oils and colour pop make up.



Here's a snap of my fabulous curls courtesy of Umberto Giannini - I just wish I could have my hair done like this every day!


Last of all, we had a lovely surprise waiting for us in our goody bags - a personalised Tatty Devine necklace! This was such a lovely gesture and I adore my necklace so thank you so much!

Big thanks to everyone at Bullring for organising the event :)