Friday, 23 January 2015

Cookery School Launch at Chaophraya Birmingham

When an email inviting me to learn to cook the Chaophraya way landed in my inbox, my finger hit the reply button in super fast time.

Chaophraya Thai Fine Dining restaurant has been a fixture on Spiceal Street, Bullring Birmingham since 2011 and brings authentic Thai cusine and genuine Thai hospitality to sites across the UK.

Already popular in Leeds, myself, Natasha from NutellaTasha and Laura from Full To The Brum were invited to trial out the cookery school format and space in the Birmingham restaurant.

Lesson in progress

Heading down on a cold winter evening, I met Laura in the bar area downstairs before Natasha joined us. Lynsey from Chaophraya runs the cookery schools and took us upstairs ready for the cookery evening.

The upstairs seating area had been closed off for us to use as a specially converted kitchen, and we took to our stations which were ready and laid out with the ingredients for each course, a gas burner, knives chopping boards and even our own hats and aprons!

Chicken Spring Rolls - before

Chicken Spring Rolls - after

The format of the evening was interactive and fun, with our chef demonstrating step by step how to prepare and cook the ingredients as well as flavouring the demonstration with knowledge and tips.

With my spring roll!

Spring Roll vegetables and chicken ready to roll

Spring Rolls frying

For starters, we prepared Chicken Spring Rolls. Although I can't chop as quickly or professionally as the chefs there, I can roll a mean Spring Roll!! I somehow ended up with a huge pile of Sping Rolls and we also got to fry these ourselves.

My alternative King Prawn dish

As a gluten free foodie I was able to make these but sadly not eat them, but the chefs prepared me a special spicy prawn dish instead to eat whilst Natasha and Laura tucked into their dish. They were also really good at adapting dishes to our requirements (more on this later), and Natasha had Vegetable Spring Rolls.

Beef Stir Fry ingredients

With my huge portion of Beef Stir Fry

The finished dish - Beef Stir Fry with Thai Basil and Rice

The main was Stir Fried Beef with Thai Basil. In place of Soya Sauce I used fish sauce but my stir fry tasted amazing, so much so that I ate a massive portion with the rice provided, much to everyones amusement.

Banana in Coconut Batter ingredients

Banana in Coconut Milk simmering

My finished Banana in Coconut Milk dessert

The desserts we cooked were Banana in Coconut Batter for everyone else and Banana in Coconut Milk for me. Again, these were fried in oil, but mine was simmered in coconut milk (yum!) and flavoured with pandan leaf which has a fabulous sweet, slightly citrus taste. I also got to garnish mine with sesame seeds and strawberries.

The cookery lesson was not just great fun, but fascinating too as we touched on the flavours used in Thai cooking, how to balance sweet, salty, sour and spicy elements and the usage of Pandan in Thai cookery. As well as cooking the food, we were able to eat our creations course by course and enjoy our meal in the company of bloggers, on this occasion, and the friendly, helpful team at Chaophraya. They were also able to tailor the sessions to vegetarian and gluten free diets with ease. At the end of the night we even got to take away our aprons, recipe cards and selected ingredients to help us on our culinary adventure.

The cookery lessons will start running from 3rd February and take place once a month in Birmingham at a cost of £60 per person. This includes a welcome drinks reception, introduction to Thai ingredients, demonstration and practical hands on session, all equipment and ingredients. The evenings last approximately 3 hours and cover a complete meal, starter, main and dessert, and can include stir fries, curries, traditional starters and desserts. To find out more, contact Lynsey Miller on

A big thank you to Lynsey and the Birmingham Chaophraya team for having me!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Tatty Devine name necklace loving

Hi guys! Today I thought I'd share my thoughts on Tatty Devine and show you my little collection.

When I was growing up I loved Tatty Devine and always wanted to visit their flagship store on Brick Lane. I love the fact that the brand was set up by two female entrepreneurs who started out selling handmade jewellery and accessories on market stalls in Spitalfields and Portobello. I also love their fun, quirky style and the tongue in cheek tone of the bright, colourful jewellery.

My personalised Bella and Robot name necklace (Font is Ladybug)

Years later, I was lucky enough to receive my very own Tatty Devine necklace at the Bullring Bloggers event as well as a voucher to make up another necklace of my choice!

The nearest Tatty Devine to me is located in Selfridges Birmingham on Level 4, so I went in to choose my very own name neckalce. After much deliberating I finally decided on a word for my name necklace, and since I already had my blog name on a necklace I thought I'd go for something different.

The whole experience when making a name necklace is interactive and personal and the staff there are very willing to give advice if you're having trouble deciding.

First off, I chose what word I wanted on my necklace and how big the font would be. Then, I chose the font, the text colour, a charm, the colour for the charm, and finally between silver and gold on the chain.

I left my order to be lasercut and assembled and went back to pick it up an hour or so later. Depending on how busy they are, they can get these to you super quickly and you can simply go out for coffee and come back if needed.

Here is a snap of my finished necklace!

My personalised Bonjour name necklace in Red Glitter Special with a Red Mirror Heart Charm, Ladybug font

The whole experience is so fun and you can have (almost) any name or word you like immortalised in acrylic. What would you pick?!

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Epic Empties - Organic Surge, Arbonne, Balance Me, Rodial, Versace Bright Crystal

I've been saving up my empties for quite a while, but I didn't realise quite how long it had been until I got everything out to photograph and was greeted with this lot!

I think this is around 5 months worth of products and there are some samples and minis in here which add to the volume.

Here goes!

Part 1 - In the shower

Organic Surge Citrus Mint Shower Gel - I'm still trying to increase my organic product usage and I've been trying out the Organic Surge range. So far so good, they're super affordable and smell good too. This one wakes me up in the morning!

Organic Surge Tropical Bergamot Shower Gel - Probably my favourite scent so far. I've got plenty more to try out though and I'm slowly going through all the scents. Already repurchased.

L'Oreal Elvive Nutri Gloss Shine Conditioner - I always seem to run out of shampoo before conditioner so this was an attempt to use up one that I've had lying around for a while. I do like this conditioner as it smells divine, feels rich, lathers well and is pretty good at increasing shine. However, I'm on the hunt for some more organic hair products. Any suggestions welcome!

Perfect Brunette Extra Moisturising Shampoo - A lonely shampoo that finished before its partner conditioner. This was a Home Bargains bargain but again, I think I'd like to try some more professional haircare. The shampoo itself was thick and brown coloured but it didn't do much for my hair and left it a little dull.

Nivea Creme Soft Shower Cream - A thick, smooth shower creme that I used up whilst abroad. These minis are so great for packing if you're anything like me and end up with a suitcase full of toiletries.

System Professional Smoothen Shampoo - This felt like a luxury shampoo and you can feel the difference between this and the Home Bargains bargain.

Wella Brilliance Shampoo - My favourite shampoo of the lot! Very good for thick hair and nourishing too.

Molton Brown Pink Pepperpod - The organic resolution goes out the window when I have a bottle of Molton Brown in the shower :( Seriously lovely!

Part 2 - Make Up

The smallest loot as I have so much make up that it's impossible to use it all up!

Laura Mercier Silk Creme Foundation - My go to foundation, plenty of coverage and already repurchased.

ELF Lipstick in Voodoo - A bargain lipstick that is non drying and long lasting. In the pile because I dropped and broke it. I do like the colour but it's a touch too dark/vampy for everyday.

YSL Babydoll Mascara - I adore this! I got this from the YSL event a while back and it's taken me ages to use it up. Seriously lengthens my lashes and separates too, just what I'm looking for. Will repurchase once I've got through my mascara backlog.

Chanel Le Volume Mascara - Joint favourites. Much like the Babydoll mascara but also thickens and adds volume a treat. I may also repurchase this but I have another sample waiting to be used first.

Part 3 - Fragrance

I'm loyal when it comes to fragrance and stick to Per Una Originale. I love the handy size, how affordable it is and I still get compliments as a few people say it smells like Dior. There are so many fragrances I like but a girl has to save on something and this is it!

Versce Bright Crystal - Sweet and girly, this looks beautiful on any dressing table and is just fun to wear. I may ask for this for my next birthday as I'd forgotton how much I love it! The only downside is that the heavy lid makes it impossible to carry around with you.

Part 4 - Make Up Removers and Cleansers

Nivea Extra Gentle Eye Make Up Remover - I really got on with this and found it gentle and very effective. However, I managed to lose half the contents and spill it in my make up bag because the lid is difficult to close properly. I would repurchase but I'd need to be careful next time and snap it shut.

Bioderma Purifying Cleansing Micelle Solution - The original and the best. In the interest of tyring to find ways to save, I tried out a cheaper micellar water and was not impressed as it left a greasy residue. This however does the job in no time. I've repurchased two giant bottles from Amazon already, oops!

Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm - I've had this a while and the first time I used it, I didn't fully understand how wonderful it is because I wasn't using it properly. Now that I've been enlightened by Caroline Hirons, I finished off the tub using flannels and came around to the effects of this balm. Using this with a flannel as part of a Caroline Hirons approved (almost) skincare regime has really made a difference to my skin. I've seen a huge reduction in spots, blemishes, blocked pores, blackheads and dry patches and I don't need to use harsh exfoliators to try to combat the above and aggravate my skin further. I received a huge pot of this for Christmas and can't wait to finish off my Elemis tub so I can dig in!

RMK Cleansing Balm - Another favourite, this is super soft and gentle, smells of roses and is just luxurious on skin. I've got another mini of this waiting to be used that I'll be using for overnight stays.

Part 5 - Creams, Serums, Lotions, Oils, Masks and Toners

Arbonne FC5 Nurturing Day Lotion - I was surprised when I tried this range out at how well my skin got on with it. Ultimately, I needed something richer and more effctive which is why I didnt repurchase but I'd still recommend it.

Algenist Firming and Lifting Cream - One from my huge Space NK haul last year. A rich, nourishing and calming cream that I really enjoyed using. However, I'm still on the lookout for my holy grail moisturiser.

Rodial Bee Venom Moisturiser - Again, from the everlasting Space NK haul, there is a lot of hype around this product. I did enjoy using it but it was only a tiny sample so I didn't see any results. I did see it as a good simple moisturiser for day but I'd prefer something more effective for night.

Lancome Genifique Youth Activating Concentrate - I've already repurchased this as I can't find a serum that does a better job. I even tried the more advanced Visionnaire but didn't find it to be as good as this. I don't think this is Hirons approved but until I find something better it's on my repurchase list.

Zelens 3t Complex - My favourite moisturiser from this mini Spce NK haul. I'd never heard of Zelens before I tried it but this was the most effective of the lot. I'd love to repurchase but I need to get through the minis first and then save up the £100 for a new tub!

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate - I really wanted to try this one as it has had such great reviews but I find it difficult to use oils. Perhaps I need an education in using oils as part of a regime but for now, I'm going to stick to serums. This one seemed to do the job but it's difficult to tell with a mini sample!

Origins Drink Up 10 Minute Mask - A great mask that does a fab job of briging back moisture and radiance to the skin, leaving it looking plumped up, so much so that people do notice!

Clarins Daily Energizer Wake Up Booster - I really did enjoy using this and took this away with me too. However, I've just received Pixie Glow for Christmas so I'll see how I get on with that before repurchasing.

Sisley Tropical Resins Complex - A super hyped and pricey product that is meant to help improve the appearance of pores, rebalance skin and mattify. I used this as a primer on my t-zone and it worked on my combination skin.

Sisley Intensive Day Cream - I probably should have asked for this for Christmas or treated myself earlier this year, but at £165 even I balked. Pure luxury but at a price.

Part 6 - Hands, Body and Lips

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Hand Treatment - Very effective at an affordable price. However, I have a mountain of L'Occitane hand creams to get through before I can think about repurchasing!

Roger and Gallett Bois D'Orange Body Lotion - A little known brand that I saw in Rome's pharmacies. Smells incredible but sadly not organic!

L'Occitane Amande Delicious Hands - Smells like marzipan, yum! Possibly my favourite L'Occitane hand cream so far.

Balance Me Rose Otto Intensive Lip Salve - A magazine freebie, I tried to use the Rodial lipbalm when this finished but couldn't believe how much I missed it. Repurchased at £12 from Debenhams already. And this one is 100% natural origin which is good.

Part 7 - Essential but boring

Sure Crystal Invisible Diamond - Does the job really well! One of the organic products I'm really looking for though is a good deodorant as they are known to be linked to cancer. Any recommendations?!

GHD Heat Protect Spray - Near impossible to get hold of, I've had to stop buying this as it's getting so expensive! Still my favourite though.

Sure Fresh with Natural Mineral Roll On - Handy for travelling but not as good as the Crystal/Invisible versions.

Boots Salon Smooth Nail Files - These are the best nail files hands down. Try it and you'll see!

Sensodyne ProNamel - A great toothpaste, pricier than some but it's a must for my sensisitve teeth.

Sensodyne Daily Care - Not as good as the ProNamel, it's worth paying more for the extra enamel benefits.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Event: Selfridges Christmas Beauty

A few weeks ago I headed to Selfridges and met up with the gorgeous Ting from The Ting Thing for the Selfridges Christmas Beauty event.

My collected Selfridges make up haul

Selfridges Christmas Beauty Ticket and Golden Wristband

Starting off at Topshop (yes I got sidetracked), I soon made my way back to the beauty hall to purchase a ticket and receive my gold wristband. This ensured I could take part in the event and indulge in the food (profiteroles) and drink (grapefruit non alcoholic cocktails for me) that was on offer.

Taking place during the Christmas Comes Early promotion, there was an additional 10% off on the evening. Slight disclaimer, I didn't purchase all of the below on the night and went back later on in the week to pick up the MAC products and Lancome items.

However, here's a rundown of everything I bought on the night:

Tom Ford Lip Color in Nubile available here

First up, the Tom Ford Lipstick. I have always wanted to own something from Tom Ford and I finally made my first purchase. I chose the Tom Ford Lip Color Shine in 07 Nubile, as this was matched up to me as a great nude.

Urban Decay Naked 3 Eyeshadow Palette available here

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion available here

Next, I headed to Urban Decay and had a little eye makeover using the Naked Palette. I confessed that I must be the only beauty blogger who doesn't already own one and before I knew it I'd already grabbed the Naked 3 in it's rose gold toned glory and the matching Eye Primer Potion to boot.

Shu Uemura Eyelash Curlers available here

I've always wanted a Shu Uemura eyelash curler, since it's heydey in the 90's as the eyelash curler to own. I picked up this one ready wrapped as it looked so cute!

Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick available here

I also went to Bobbi Brown to look for a concealer. Somehow, I came out with a Foundation Stick instead as I was persuaded to try this out (I always use liquid or cream foundations) and at the very least I can still use it as a concealer. I have tried to use this as a foundation and found it a bit too much but as a concealer I love it!

Charlotte Tilbury lipstick in Coachella Coral available here

I did try out a few products from Charlotte Tilbury, including the lipsticks, but came away empty handed as I just couldn't pick!!

Curl makeover from Umberto Giannini

On the night, I also had a wash and blow dry at Umberto Giannini and Ting played photographer :) How amazing are these curls?!

We had a great time at the event and played around with the photobooth too!

With Ting

I went back to MAC a few days later to purchase the huge haul below.

MAC Haul

I got: MAC Mineralize Skin Finish in Global Glow, MAC Lip Pencil in Boldly Bare, MAC 129 Brush, MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot in Painterly, MAC Lipglass in Viva Glam VI, MAC Matte Lipstick in Diva, MAC Frost Lipstick in Viva Glam Rihanna, MAC Frost Lipstick in Angel, MAC Amplified Creme Lipstick in Impassioned, MAC Amplified Lipstick inVegas Volt, MAC Satin Lipstick in Viva Glam II, MAC Cremesheen Lipstick in Speak Louder and MACCremesheen Lipstick in Lickable. Phew!

I will do a separate post on my MAC collection but I decided to take the plunge and build up a lipstick wardrobe. This is because on my last three trips to MAC I've picked up three almost identical lipsticks!!! This way I got to make sure I had every base covered and it was fun to go all out!

Lancome Advanced Genifique Serum Gift Set available here

Lancome L'Absolu Velours Lipstick in 385 Velours de Pourpre available here

Finally, I visited Lancome in search of my favourite serum, Genifique. I got this Christmas special set and also came away with this lovely L'Absolu Velours in 385. This intense lip colour with a velvet matte finish is such a gorgeous shade, a real bright cerise pink!

I had a great time building up my makeup collection and even with all this I'm sure I'll be back next year!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Christmas and New Year Giveaway!!! Win a Mini Martini Cocktail Set with House of Fraser

Hi guys!

As it's the season of good cheer, the lovely folk from House of Fraser are offering up this fantastic Mini Martini Cocktail Gift Set for one of you lovely readers.

The Prize

Up for grabs is this Luxe Lounge 6 Piece Mini Martini Set, which includes a stainless steel cocktail shaker, two mini martini glasses, two olive picks, a cocktail strainer and a recipe booklet. It's perfect for creating luxury cocktails in the comfort of your own home this winter!

You can see the item on the House of Fraser website here.

How to enter

I'm hosting the prize on Rafflecopter and details of how to enter are below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway I will be picking a winner in 2 weeks time on Friday 2nd January at 12am so everyone has time to enter over Christmas! Wouldn't that be a great way to start 2015?

Thank you to the House of Fraser Home Department for the prize.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Event: House of Fraser Discover Christmas and Grotto Launch

What could be more festive than slipping away to this Winter Wonderland? For all of you with children, it is a must at this time of year to take the children to meet Santa. If you live in the city centre, House of Fraser has created a magical wonderland complete with penguins, reindeer and real elves!

Me with an Elf! Image Credit Jas Sansi Photography

With Ting from The Ting Thing and the elves. Image credit Jas Sansi Photography

The Christmas Grotto was launched with Georgie Moseley in aid of Help Harry Help Others. Located on the 5th floor of House of Fraser Corporation Street, entry is £5 and children will get to meet Santa and recieve a present! You can also take home a souvenir photograph and purchase Harry's bracekets for a suggested £1 donation.

I was lucky enough to be invited to see the grotto before anyone else. Here are some pictures of the wonderland.

There was also plenty of beauty treatments on offer and I had a fabulous manicure courtesy of Nails Inc. The nail polish used is from the Alexa Chung collection and it was so glossy everyone thought I'd had gels.

There were also pieces from the AW14 collections on show.

The grotto will be open from 10am – 5pm (Monday – Saturday) and 11am – 4pm on (Sundays) from 29 November – 24 December. For more details and to plan your visit click here.

Big thank you to Retail Birmingham and House of Fraser for inviting me :)

New Ted Baker Store Opens in Bullring..Today!

My monogrammed notebook c/o Ted Baker

The Bullring just keeps getting better doesn't it? Today, the new Ted Baker store opens it's doors in Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre.

The 3207 square foot store will house Ted’s AW14 menswear, womenswear and accessories collections.

Inspired by Birmingham’s contribution to the industrial revolution, Ted’s newest store is a fun-filled
factory of fashion. The Bullring based store celebrates the city’s most famous exports including metal
pen nibs, jewellery hallmarking and the iconic Cadbury’s chocolate factory.

Throughout the store, lighter details of ink flourishes and scripture appear, reminding the visitor of
Birmingham’s pen making history. Quills, vintage pen nibs and ink wells, all made in Birmingham,
appear in rows on the glass shelves of the ground floor cash desk, adding an authentic finish to the
finer details of the store.

Being one of only four cities in Britain where gold and silver can be certified, Ted celebrates
Birmingham’s famous Jewellery Quarter. A bespoke wallpaper pattern of repeated gold hallmarks has been created, which line the walls of the fitting rooms.

To celebrate the opening, why not pop into the store as they will be giving away leather bound notebooks which will be personalised at Ted’s in-store embossing station. You'll also be in with the chance of winning a £1000 shopping spree when you ‘Clock on to Ted’ by leaving their details.

Hppy Shopping!