Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Mid-Week Dining: Chico Bandito

Food is one of my biggest expenses, some months I spend more on food than I do on clothes. This is sometimes due to drinking three Starbucks coffees in a day and other times because eating out is one of my favourite things to do and the best way of catching up with my friends. I often visit the same places (Wagamama and Zizzi seem to feature quite heavily on my bank statements) but this year I'm trying to head to new restaurants, try different things and hopefully blog about it a bit.

I visited Chico Bandito in Shoreditch last Wednesday. The restaurant is pretty tiny with the tables very close together, giving it a relaxed atmosphere but its maybe not one for intimate conversation. Mid-week the restaurant was busy but we didn't have to wait for a table. Skipping over the cocktails (it was a school night after all but they did sound good and were reasonably priced), I was pretty overwhelmed by the giant, double-sided menu. My friend P and I ended up choosing a selection of smaller plates rather than mains with a couple of sides to share as a way of sampling more of the food on offer.

Our Table, groaning under the weight of Mexican food. We both ordered a variant of tacos and a quesadilla with cajun mushrooms and cream cheese jalepenos to share.

Spicy Bean Tacos (vegetarian)

Chicken Quesadilla
I had never had tacos before. I choose the vegetarian option which were really tasty and quite fun to eat despite the fact that it is almost impossible to eat food out of a crisp shell with any grace. The chicken quesadillas were just-right on the spicyness scale and were generously filled with chicken and melty cheese. I also sampled the cream cheese jalepenos which tasted so good that I didn't feel too bad about the idea of eating a pepper which had been stuffed with cream cheese and deep fried and the cajun mushrooms which I was less keen (probably due to the fact that I am not a mushroom fan).

The food on the tables around ours all looked amazing, I will definitely be back to sample the fajitas. We did not have dessert because the food we had ordered was more than enough already but they are available, if not particularly authentically Mexican.

In a bite: Tasty Mexican food in a relaxed environment, quite a lot of vegetarian choicess and the option of wearing a sombrero while you dine (although maybe this is more for weekends when copious amount of margaritas may be consumed)

Price: Very reasonable - my friend P has a Tastecard so everything was half price but even without the discount it's not expensive.

Return: Yes, there was a lot of choice on the menu so I'd definitely be able to find something new to try.

Waistline-friendly: Not particularly! There are some salads on the menu but carbs and cheese are much more a feature.

Are you a fan of Mexican food?

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Monday, 28 January 2013

Insta-Updates: Snow Days

Hopefully the snow has now gone for good but here's what I got up to during the cold spell. Normal life was slightly put on hold in favour of being indoors and normal outfits were swapped for my oh-so-stylish snow boots and ski coat. I do not really fare well in cold weather.


1. Working on my sewing project. This is meant to be suitable for a seven year-old. It's been taking me forever!

2. My last ever Young Persons' Railcard. From next year onwards I'm officially not young any more (in National Rail's opinion, at least).

3. Blogging in Starbucks while it snowed outside.

4. Obligatory snow shot.

5. Pho in Westfield Stratford - the chicken bun noodles are so good.

6. Print clash outfit for work. M&S skirt, H&M top and cardigan.

7. Pizza Express - first time I'd been in a long, long time. I had a Leggera Pollo ad Adstra which was lovely, can't complain about pizza for 500 calories and a two-for-one voucher.

8. Home popped popcorn (so, so easy to make) in a Starbucks mug.

9 & 10. Drinks and dinner with the Dream Team in Wahaca. I always go for the sonora salad with chicken. Unpictured, but very delicious, churros with salted caramel sauce were also consumed.

Currently reading: This Is How It Ends - Kathleen MacMahon









What did you get up to during the snow?
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Friday, 25 January 2013

Mascara: L'Oreal Volume Million Lashes

Due to accidentally leaving my make-up bag in my flat before going on holiday, this mascara was acquired on a panic trip to Boots to repurchase all my essentials for the grand total of £52. Not the best start to my holiday but I managed to pick up a few bargains and try some new "drugstore" products. This mascara came as part of a L'Oreal giftset for spending £15 on L'Oreal make-up which seemed like a worthwhile deal to take advantage of:

Diamantissime Mascara with L'Oreal True Match concealer and Rimmel Eyebrow Pencil in Hazel

I've never used a Volume Million Lashes mascara before but love L'Oreal Voluminous and Telescopic so was hoping to like this as it was the only mascara I had with me on holiday.

The brush is exactly the type I like - its a flexible plastic brush which is small enough to get those corner lashes but big enough to give volume. The bottle has a delightfully named "anti-clump wiper" which results in the brush coming out with the right amount of mascara on it and no clumps. The Diamantissime version has tiny sparkly particles in it but they're not very noticeable when its on my lashes. It's not like a "glitter mascara" of the sort that I used to buy in Claire's Accessories. The only time I really notice the sparkle is when I remove it but I guess it must make some difference in reflecting the light.

I really like the formula of this, it is quite a "wet" mascara so doesn't need lots of coats to get the look I want. It definitely lengthens and thickens my lashes - the end result is quite similar to what I got with Benefit's They're Real mascara. The only downside to this is that you have to be careful not to apply too many coats, it's not the sort of mascara that you can keep building up. One extra swipe and my lashes go from looking perfect to looking a little messy and spidery.

Verdict: I like this mascara. It's usually £10.99 which is pretty good these days even for a drugstore mascara.

Have you tried Volume Million Lashes?

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Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Voucher Woes

I got given some M&S giftcards for Christmas. January is nearly over and I still haven't spent them. I popped in to the Westfield Stratford store at the weekend but wasn't feeling very inspired (and the snow outside made the prospect of having to take my coat off to try anything on quite unappealing). I've had a little browse  online and a think about what I actually need in my wardrobe right now: 

All M&S
New shoes for Spring are always needed, these look a lot more expensive than £19.50. I'm not usually a fan of pastels but the metallic heel makes them less girly. I still don't own anything with a peplum so this top would work well with pencil skirts for work and leggings at the weekend. While florals seem a bit out of place at the moment, this dress would be perfect for Spring days and would work now with opaque tights and ankle boots. My gym kit could do with an upgrade - even if no one sees me at the gym, having good kit should make the 6am alarm a little easier and M&S's range is really affordable! And finally, after working for almost 18 months its time to update my work wear - this dress is formal but still young and is in the Petite section so should be the right length on me.

Do you struggle to spend giftcards?

Ps. I've had a little layout change and added some "Pages" to the top bar to group together some of my posts. Let me know what you think! I've been meaning to update things for a while - a weekend of snow made messing around with the layout seem more appealing than going outside.

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Saturday, 19 January 2013

Galaxy Print

Galaxy print has been around for a while but this is my first dabble in it.

Top: H&M; Skirt: Splash; Brogues: Office
I picked up this skirt in Dubai for around £10 - I couldn't not get it. I love the print - it definitely brightens up an all black outfit and a dark winters day. The top is from H&M, I actually bought it back in October but then forgot about it and found it in my drawer last week with all the tags still on. Do I need further evidence that I really don't need to buy clothes ever again? I don't really wear many long sleeved items as I have short arms and feel that long things swamp me but the sheer sleeves on this are nice.

I got my fringe trimmed so can now see. I was going to grow it out but decided that I actually quite like it and am going to keep it (for now). As for the rest of my hair, I'm definitely growing it out - I miss it being long and while I love short hair I think I would regret it if I went for the chop so good job my stylist went for an "in between" length rather than chopping it all off like I was contemplating.

Do you own any galaxy print?
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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Insta-Updates: The Year So Far

It may only be the 16th but Christmas and New Year feel like they were months ago already.

January may be a grim month but mine hasn't been too bad so far:


1. The fashion feature that I was in for my work magazine was published. The pictures are here.

2. NYE outfit. So, technically the first outfit of 2013, too. Primark dress and belt. I bought a lot in Primark in 2012 so it seemed fitting.

3. Sushi at Centre Point Sushi. Their prawn tempura rolls are amazing.

4. The year doesn't officially start until I get my new Filofax inserts. I chose pink this time.

5 & 6. Coffee and eggs royal at Beaufort House - perfect breakfast/brunch with a friend on a rainy Sunday.

7. "Gaiety is the most outstanding feature of the Soviet Union" exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Parts of this were quite disturbing but it was a really good exhibition (and its free if you're on a January spending ban).

8. Maybelline nails. This lasted a whole week without chipping and it was nice to wear something on my nails that wasn't a variation of red.

9. A postcard from Aisling.

10. In the Rain Room at the Barbican. It was worth the two hour long queue. This is also free - just take some food/entertainment for the queue.

11. Teriyaki Donburi at Wagamama.

12. On the Emirates Airline. I went on this in the summer so the view was pretty different this time. I think it's worth the £4 as I love heights.

13. Soya Mocha in Notes. I've stopped eating chocolate but mochas are my one exception (and only once a week).

14. Les Mis. If you haven't seen it yet, it is very long and very miserable but even though musicals aren't really my thing it is amazing. And Hugh Jackman is in it, no complaints there.

15. A friend spotted this picture of me on The Londonist. It was taken at the ice-sculpting festival last year although I had no idea that anyone had even taken my picture!

How has your 2013 been so far?
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Sunday, 13 January 2013

Lace & Cape

Cape: Vintage; Skirt: Vintage; Boots: H&M; Top; Forever 21
I'm pretty bad at not wearing new purchases so made an effort to wear this F21 top that I bought in Dubai. Its a little bit see-through but wearing it with flesh-coloured underwear and going up a size so that its not super tight makes it acceptable for day time. The skirt is an old favourite, I think I've had this for about five years - its just so easy to wear and goes with everything.

My boots are a H&M sale purchase from a few weeks ago although this was the first time I'd worn them. The cape used to be my grandmother's - it's super old, probably from the 1950s or 60s. I do wear a lot of her old clothes - it's nice to know where they come from and conveniently we are the same size.

I wore this to get my fringe trimmed (it hardly even counts as a fringe here) and eat sushi at my favourite budget sushi restaurant, Centre Point Sushi. The cape was a bit more fun to wear than a coat although I did feel a bit like Uncle Bulgaria from the Wombles.

Do you source vintage clothing from family members? And does anyone else struggle with wearing new purchases? 
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Thursday, 10 January 2013

Geek Chic Glasses

I actually sort of hate the phrase "geek chic" but couldn't think of a better title. I only started wearing glasses a few years ago, my eyes started to object at the combination of an online shopping addition and doing a law degree and the hours of computer use that both of these entailed. For the past few months I've really wanted a pair of chunky framed glasses but the fact that I paid £350 for glasses in Boots only last year made me think that another pair was not entirely necessary, especially as I don't need to wear glasses all of the time.

When I saw an offer for free glasses from Firmoo doing the rounds on Blogger, I couldn't resist. I've never bought glasses online before but the site was so easy to use (even if I did have to measure my PD distance with an Ikea tape measure). I was worried that I wouldn't like the style and fit of the glasses but the site provides all the measurements so I chose a pair that had similar dimensions to my current glasses. You can also upload a photo of yourself to "try on" the glasses virtually but that seemed like a little too much effort.

Top: Vintage via my Grandmother, Collar: John Lewis, Glasses: Firmoo
The glasses were free aside from shipping and a few extra dollars for an anti-reflective coating. They arrived a week later and I nervously unpacked them, thinking that if I hated them or if they weren't right at least I hadn't spent too much and had satisfied my curiosity about online glasses purchasing. I actually love them - the prescription is perfect and I love the shape of the frames. You can try a pair for free here.

Have you ever bought glasses online?
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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Jemma Kidd i-define Mascara

This is the first Jemma Kidd product that I've used so I wasn't really sure what to expect - its not a brand I hear people mentioning much and I haven't seen any of the products in Boots for a while. I think this came free with Elle magazine a few months ago, or it could have been Marie Claire.


The brush is a classic bristle style brush with a tapered end. I like how it comes out of the tube with quite a lot of mascara on it - mascaras that are dry when you first use them are such a let down. The mascara is easy to build up in a few coats and the brush is a decent size - big enough to give volume but not so huge that it ends up blobbing more mascara on my face than on my lashes, Benefit Bad Girl style.

The only complaint I have about this mascara is that its a nightmare to remove and usually ends up all over my face. Although I never remember that when I reach for this in the morning.

Have you tried this mascara?
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Tuesday, 8 January 2013

New Year, New Products: January Favourites

I know we're barely into January but I also know that these will be my most reached-for products this month. I've been discovering a few new products lately, partly due to leaving my entire make-up bag in my flat before travelling home for Christmas and having to panic re-purchase everything from Boots (not fun). I've also discovered a couple of winter hair and skin saviours and finally tried the holy grail cleansing water:
1

1. L'Oreal True Match Concealer - Shade 2

This was a panicked Boots purchased, my local branch had ran out of Bourjois Healthy Mix in my shade and L'Oreal had a "spend £15, get free gift" offer so it seemed logical to get this one. Shade 2 is perfect for my skintone and this concealer works equally well under my eyes and on blemishes. It doesn't have light reflecting particles in it so won't reflect weirdly in photos.

The sponge tipped applicator means that there's no need for a concealer brush - I just blend in with my fingers. The concealer dries to a matte texture but doesn't sink into the fine lines (ugh) under my eyes or make blemishes look cakey. For around £6 this is a great buy!

2. Bioderma Micelle Solution

I've read about this on countless blogs but hadn't tried it until now. This product is amazing. I don't think I will ever use another eye make-up remover again. Seriously. This takes off everything without stinging my eyes or leaving a greasy residue. A quick swipe also removes all my face make-up but doesn't leave my skin feeling like it's been "cleaned" or stripped of moisture. It just leaves it make-up free and ready for my facewash or hot cloth cleanser (double cleansing has made such a difference to my skin).

I bought this mini bottle in Boots in Dubai for about £6. I wish I'd bought the bigger size now.

3. Origins Clear Improvement Face Mask

Towards the end of last year I fell back in love with face masks, after a rather long hiatus from the vibrant coloured sachets that I used to buy aged fourteen and pretend that the burning sensation was actually the mask "cleansing" my pores. Riiiiiight. Face masks seem to have grown up a little and while I was a little hesitant to spent £20, I'd heard only good things about Origins face masks and House of Fraser were having a 10% off day making it a whole £2 cheaper.

I use this mask around once a week, sometimes more, sometimes less. It's gentle on my skin but makes it feel so, so clean and soft. I don't suffer from spots but wearing make-up every day and spending all my time indoors can make my skin feel a bit "eww" and this sorts that right out. One tip - don't remove it with a white face cloth!

4. Caudalie Vinosource SOS Thirst Quenching Serum

I'd been cynical about using serums before I tried this in a Glossybox last year. My skin is combination so anything too thick makes it break out but if I don't moisturise I end up with horrible dry patches of skin, particularly on my cheeks since working in an air conditioned office. This serum is so light and sinks in straight away, I use it in the mornings as soon as I've dried my face after my shower and before going to bed - one small pump is enough so even though this is a little pricey it will last for ages.

5. Clynol Wonder 10*

Since getting my hair cut and getting a fringe I've been using a lot more heat on my hair which has made it drier and frizzier. I have fine hair but a lot of it so serums, oils and heavy products are a recipe for lank, flat hair. This product product makes my hair feel softer and healthier but without weighing it down. I spray it into my damp hair before blowdrying and it makes such a difference - my hair is so much more manageable but still bouncy and clean-feeling. It smells so good too!

What have been your favourite products of 2013 so far?

* denotes PR sample. All views my own.
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Sunday, 6 January 2013

2012: Another Year Over


2012 was a pretty good year. I didn't really think I'd done much until I started putting this collage together. Sometimes its easy to get caught by in the dull everyday stuff and forget about how much you've done and all the good memories - 2012 was actually pretty good come to think about it! These are the things that I'll remember:

London treasure hunts

First up, the epic egg hunt. Hannah and I walked miles in search of these eggs. Whole weekends and evenings (and even a sneaky lunchbreak) were spent looking for these. The constant Facebook check-ins drove my friends crazy. I felt a little empty when this was over.

Phone boxes. A rather short-lived hunt but one that nicely filled the egg-shaped hole in my life.

Wenlock and Mandeville. Adding to Olympic fever - primarily aimed at children, the mascot hunt was a lot of fun and got me into the Olympic spirit.

Holidays

I visited Florence, Lille and Morocco for the first time in 2012. Marrakech was an amazing city and a lovely break with my mum - so completely different from anywhere else we'd visited together. Lille was great for a short break and for a French pharmacy fix and Florence is a beautiful city, even in the middle of winter.

I re-visited a very hot NYC in the summer and saw everything I didn't see first time around and went to Dubai (again) with my family for Christmas which was a lovely relaxing end to the year.

I'm not sure yet where 2013 will take me but travel is a huge love of mine so I'd better get planning (and saving) soon.

Me Stuff

I celebrated the Jubilee in Birmingham with friends, escaping the chaos but not the awful weather of London. I graduated for the second (and last) time and experimented with hair styles - a clip in fringe followed up a real one a few months later.

I also celebrated turning 25 by running 10km around London Zoo, ran the London BUPA 10,000, the Beverley 10k and a charity 5k.

Blogging

Blogging played a huge part in my life in 2012. I went to some amazing events including one where I got creative with dye and shoes and a lovely spa day with Aussie. Fashions Night Out this year didn't disappoint despite walking home barefoot and the Blogger's Picnic with a few of my favourite bloggers was a highlight of our brief "summer". I'm so glad I started this blog way back in 2009 - I've had some amazing experiences and met some lovely people who make me laugh on a daily basis ♥

So that was my year!

My resolutions for 2013 are:

- stick to a weekly budget and save a set amount of money each month - the Toshl app is helping, even if it is currently telling me that I've blown my budget for this week

- donate or eBay one item of clothing for every new item I buy - I really don't need any more clothes, ever

- do more creative projects and take a tiny step back from my laptop - I used to be able to knit and sew and I'd quite like to re-learn how to do these

- improve my 10km time to under an hour - I ran a lot in 2012 but didn't get any faster!

Here's to 2013! How was your year? And what are your resolutions?
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Thursday, 3 January 2013

Insta-updates: Dubai

G&T on the plane; balcony view; champers and chocolates; carrying fish is not allowed on the metro; holiday outfit; gingerbread house; bliss; iced tea at the Shangri-la hotel; Burj Khalifa; taco salad; Pinkberry fix; up-do; chocolate Santa;  Burj al-Arab; camels on the beach; coconut smoothie; Atlantis ceiling; cosmopolitan; Arabic breakfast; leopard print dress.
A couple of weeks of "summer" in the middle of winter is always nice. Its actually still winter in Dubai but a winter's day of 28 degrees is fine by me. I've been to Dubai a few times so have done all of the "tourist" things but seeing the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa is still amazing, its really tall. Getting a Pinkberry fix at the Mall of the Emirates was much appreciated - although if I lived in a hot country Pinkberry would bankrupt me! Trying different food on holiday is always fun and hot weather meant that traditional Christmas foods were not on the menu - Dubai cuisine is really international but its good to try traditional dishes like this breakfast pudding called um-ali. After the crappy summer we had in England my summer clothes finally got their first outing of 2012!

Have you been to Dubai?
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Tuesday, 1 January 2013

2013: In With The New!

Happy New Year! 

I'm not really one for making resolutions but in 2013 I vow to do something radical. I will actually use my nice things. I don't think I'm the only one who is guilty of "saving" things for best and who doesn't wear new purchases for ages because there isn't the "right" occasion to wear them to. With that in mind, I've got quite a few shiny new things to show today - a mix of Christmas presents, holiday purchases and sales shopping. 

Christmas:

Body Shop shower puffs; ASOS ring holder; Floozie teacup candle;  Kindle; Aquamarine ring
 Santa was generous this year. Going away for Christmas meant that big presents were out so some of these were opened before and after our holiday. I bought the Kindle with Christmas money from relatives for £64 at Heathrow airport as I'd wanted one for a while and that seemed like a good price. The ring is from Dubai's gold souk - I was torn between jewellery or an iPad mini but as soon as I saw the ring I knew what I wanted, the main stone is aquamarine and the tiny stones are diamonds on a white gold band. I got a little stocking of Primark goodies to open on Christmas day - seems like Santa loves a bargain too! The ring holder was purchased a while ago after seeing it on a couple of blogs, I do love all things sausage dog-related and after dropping a diamond ring down my sink last year I need somewhere to store rings.

A Designer Buy...

Hermes travel wallet
 If you've seen the Sex and the City 2 movie then this won't need any further explanation. If not...the old town area of Dubai is full of "shops" which specialise in designer copies (because that sounds nicer than "counterfeit goods"). The shops are usually accessible by tiny lifts in old residential buildings and its quite funny getting escorted off to a room full of, usually quite realistic looking, designer copies. Bargaining skills are essential but you can usually knock at least half off the first price quoted. I ended up paying about £30 for this but its a pretty realistic copy. I'm not usually a fan of fakes but its fun this was a fun purchase to make and its not liked I'd ever splash out on a real one so I'm not going to pretend that it is.

Holiday purchases

Cinnamon tea - Dubai spice souk; Blotting papers and cleansing water - Sephora; Bioderma cleansing water - Boots; Ipanema flip flops, starfish print dress, galaxy print skater skirt, floral print pencil skirt - Splash; lace top - Forever 21
Shopping in Dubai is a rather mixed experience. Sephora is always a must visit for me - the blotting papers are a regular purchase and cleansing waters are on my "to try" list for 2013. Boots in Dubai stocks Bioderma - hopefully the UK will soon follow suit. The spice souk is fun for purchasing teas, spices, pumice stones and traditional products. I've wanted Ipanema flip flops for a while and love the colour of these. Highstreet stores are often more expensive in Dubai - a Topshop dress going for around £40 is £26 back in London but Forever 21 is always reliable for a bargain. Splash is a bit like Primark - cheap and cheerful with some quite unsaul items. I love the print of the skirt, floral and paperclips aren't the most obvious combination! The rest of my shopping was strictly window shopping.

Sales shopping
2013 Diary, Body con print dress, black work dress, navy and brown leopard print tights,
I missed the start of the sales this year so don't really have the sales bug. M&S is always dependable for good reductions, I hate sales where things are barely reduced but still thrown on the ghastly sale rail. My work wardrobe needs a few new items and the black dress will be perfect. I love the garish print of the body con dress and the black side panels are super flattering. Patterned tights are what make winter less depressing and these were half price so I couldn't pick just one. 

I have a sneaky Topshop online order on its way but I don't know how much of it I'll keep. The above items should keep me going for a while - another 2013 resolution is that for each new thing I want I must donate or ebay one old item. If I don't stick to that one my wardrobe won't be able to shut.

What have you been purchasing lately?
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