Monday, 2 May 2016

My Little Box - March

My Little Box
So far I've received five My Little Subscription Boxes, I've been really impressed with the variety of beauty and lifestyle surprises received. If you haven't read my earlier posts reviewing the first three boxes have a look here and here

Each month the My Little Box takes on a different theme. March's theme was that of bubbles, the box and all the items enclosed embraced all things big, bubbly and bright. 
My Little Box
The box design screams the eighties, retro roller-skates, pastel colours, backcombed hair and LA Gear trainers to me. 

Contained in the box was a sample size Givenchy's Noir Couture Volume Mascara. The full size comes in blue and black costing £25. 
Givenchy's Noir Couture Volume Mascara
The first thing I noticed on opening the mascara was the innovative brush shape, it might look a little odd but one thing is for sure it definitely adds volume and length. It really helped to plumb and define my lashes.
Givenchy's Noir Couture Volume Mascara
I loved this sample, it's the perfect size for travelling and has a lovely rich formula adding an intense shade of black. I have been faithful to my Yves Saint Laurent mascara for many years but I will definitely be buying the Givenchy when it runs out.

The next beauty offering you could easily mistake for the Beauty Blender but you would be wrong, this is produced by My Little Corner and will hopefully prove to be its better mini cousin (worth £7). 
Beauty Blender
Whilst this is the perfect size product for travelling, I personally found the density of the sponge too difficult to smoothly apply foundation, even when wet. But I'm sure with a bit of perseverance my technique will improve.   

Next up was Bubble Blush (worth £10), a lovely pink colour that can be used as both a lip and cheek tint. 
Liquid Blush

Now I'm not normally a fan of tints as the consistency is too runny, this however has a lovely creamy consistency and the perfect shade for summer. 

Next up a sample size of the cult soap free cleansing wash Garancia Pschitt Magic
Face wash
This year it celebrates ten years and I can easily see how this is a favourite product of many. As you know I like beauty products that are hassle free and this ticks those boxes, just wet your face pump the soft mouse and gently wash over your face. 

I have nearly used up the whole of this sample and it has done wonders to remove my dead skin and best of all is suitable for my sensitive skin. This is a definite repurchase. 
I can never have too many brushes round the house, as I am constantly loosing them. The inclusion of this pastel blue brush was very welcomed (worth £11).
hair brush
I doubt very much that it will help with the bad hair days but it looks lovely. 

Overall another wonderful box, next month will be the penultimate on the current subscription. The My Little Box is £11 a month plus £3.95 postage and packaging.

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Friday, 8 April 2016

Barbecoa restaurant

Barbecoa Restaurant
Many of you who have been reading this website for a while will know, I grew up watching Jamie Oliver on television. His love of food was infectious, it spilled out of the television screen and made me want to cook. His approach to cooking very much models my own, there are no rules, you use the best local produce and flavourings to create wonderfully uncomplicated food.  

Barbecoa restaurant, which Jamie opened in 2010 is very much founded on these principles, where the in-house butcher picks the very best British meats and uses traditional fire based cooking techniques from all over the world to create wonderful barbecued steaks. 

When I was invited to visit the restaurant I didn't have to think twice. Having a love of steak I was keen to visit and see if the restaurant could challenge some of its top steak restaurant counterparts

Trying to have a meal out with a small baby can be quite the logistical challenge. Everything has to be timed perfectly, feeds, nappie changes and sleep. Any delays and all hell breaks loose. Despite these challenges so far as a family we have had some great meals out with Noah.

On the day of visiting Barbecoa however the logistical challenges came from a different source, we were fraught with London underground travelling nightmares (lifts, escalators and lines not working), running late and arriving in the rain the restaurant was extremely gracious and had held the table. 
The first thing that you notice entering Barbecoa is the restaurants high volted ceilings with floor to ceiling glass windows. It has breathtaking views overlooking the magnificent  St Paul's Cathedral
Jamie Oliver restaurants
St Paul's
Perusing the drinks menu we begin to relax, watching the drizzle fall on the beautiful St Paul's cathedral and spying on the chefs in the open planned kitchen hard at work. 
Jamie Oliver
Having not had a drop of alcohol for many months, I opted for the Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve champagne (£11.50). The other half opts for a tawny Port and glass of La Rioja Alta 'Vina Alberdi' Reserva 2008 (£11).
From a quick glance at the menu I can already see that the restaurant has lots of starters and mains that I would happily like to eat. 

I decide to keep with the meat theme and choose the coal seared beef carpaccio fillet with Artichoke, salted Ricotta, lemon and thyme (£12). 
I love beef carpaccio and have finished off a fair few over the years. The addition of the roasted artichoke and salted Ricotta are very welcome. 

My dining companion opts for the Salmon and Tuna Ceviche with meat radish and citrus red chilli glaze (£14). 
I'm reliably informed that the citrus and red chilli glaze is a perfect accompaniment and very flavoursome. 

I found the picking of my main a challenge, as the restaurant had a number of things that I would happily have liked to try. But after considerable wavering and constant changing of my mind, I opt for the fillet steak with smoked béarnaise, herb salad and bone marrow (£35).

Jamie Oliver

My steak is perfectly cooked, medium rare and has a wonderful charcoal flavour, whilst still maintaining a lovely moist meat. The addition of béarnaise sauce and red pickled onions to the herb salad are delicious. 

There is something very primal about a T-Bone steak and my dining companions choice doesn't disappoint. 
Whilst for a steak it is expensively priced at £40, it is huge in size and packs a punch in flavour. 

To accompany my steak the choice of side is easy, it has to be beef dripping chips (£4). My dining companion found the choice slightly harder so opted for two sides, coal roasted sweet potato with sage and chilli (£4) and charred broccoli (£4).
I have to be honest that I found the chips rather disappointing they were rather bland, the vegetables on the other hand were superb. Broccoli has never tasted so good, the addition of miso and almonds were delicious.  

The service throughout diner is attentive without being intrusive and the spacing between courses was perfect. 

At this point in proceedings and given the quantity of food we have consumed I would normally begrudgingly leave the restaurant.   

Although stuffed, for the benefit of the blog I push through and order dessert. Noah however is simply too full and decides to lay this one out. 
My dining companion however really doesn't take much persuading, picking the lemon meringue (£8.50).
First thing to say is that the dessert is gorgeous looking. It has just the right amount of tartness and crunch from the meringues.  

I settle on a refreshing ice cream rhubarb crumble sundae. 
Jamie Oliver
Barbecoa offers really wonderful food, with great service and breathtaking views. The restaurant offers a superb lunch menu Monday-Saturday (12-5 pm), two courses £22 and three courses £27.

Embrace your inner cave man and pay a visit to Barbecoa you really won't be disappointed. 

One New Change, 
20 New Change, London, 
Square Meal Barbecoa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Other restaurants from Jamie Oliver:
Jamie's Italian Restaurant Review

Our meal was complimentary for the purposes of this review, but this is an honest and fair reflection of the restaurant and our meal. If you are in search of a wonderful steak then look no further.

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Friday, 18 March 2016

PostPartum Hair

During the second trimester of pregnancy my hair went through a wonderful rebirth, due to higher levels of oestrogen, its overall condition improved, it became thicker, grew quicker and looked much healthier. I presume this is what people mean when they say you look glowing in the later stages of pregnancy. 
Pregnancy hair
The glossy sheen on my locks was very much welcomed, but sadly didn't last long post birth. When Noah was around ten weeks my hair reverted back to looking rather sorry for itself, it looked dull and began to fall out in large amounts (this is the only time I have ever been thankful for thick locks!).  

I've always wanted to try the Philip Kingsley's Elasticizer (£30) based on its rave reviews, but was never really able to justify the price which is expensive for what is essentially a conditioner. How wrong I was though. When my hair started to look lifeless and fell out on mass every time I brushed it, I decided it was time to treat myself and purchased the Geranium and Neroli version of the elasticizer. 
Philip Kingsley
It came with a wonderful candle that smelt divine and made the room in which it was burning wonderfully floral. 

Philip Kingsley's Elasticizer
When applying the conditioner you have two choices, it can be used as a luxurious over night pre conditioning shampoo, in which you wet your hair and apply the elasticize to the mid lengths and ends of your hair. The other option is as a ten minute regenerator prior to washing your hair, applying in the same way. 

I wasn't that keen on having wet hair over night so I went for the ten minute application prior to washing my hair. The first thing to say is that the elasticize has a wonderful floral and citrus fragrance, with lavender, orange and rose oils. It almost smells too good to put on your hair. After applying and leaving for ten minutes I used my new Pureology shampoo and conditioner. 
Pureology has specifically been created to help coloured treated hair, it is sulfate free and 100% Vegan free. 
I opted for the hydrating shampoo and conditioner. The shampoo is a brilliant purple colour and feels wonderfully creamy, the conditioner on the other hand has a minty scent that made my hair feel very clean. 

Well what is there to say you really do get what you pay for, my hair with the use of all three products just once has never felt so good. 

I wanted to not like the Elasticizer because of the price but it really is a hair saviour, my hair after just one use was softer, bouncier and full of shine. 

Have you used either product? Any tips for bringing hair back to life?

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Monday, 29 February 2016

Langshott Manor

LAngshott Manor
Chain hotels can often be soulless places sometimes with no distinctive style or character. Alexander Hotels however are different, priding themselves on being distinctive, unique hotels situated just outside London that give guests a taste of luxury in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. Each of their hotels offers something different from indulgent spas to superb dinning and all set in beautiful grounds.

For valentines we often go away but with a little one in tow this year we really weren't sure if the desire to go away was a little ambitious. But I'm a great believer if you don't give something a go you'll never know, so with that attitude in mind I took to the Internet to see what hotels appealed.

Langshott Manor in Horley Surrey caught my eye, a 16th century house, fifty minutes outside London (the perfect driving distance with a small child) and recommended by Condé Nast and Small Luxury Hotels. The hotel is also conveniently located for Gatwick Airport. 

Driving along the gravel drive the hotel makes quite the first impression it is breathtakingly beautiful and would fit perfectly into any fairytale adventure.
Langshott Manor
Langshott Manor
As you know we love our afternoon teas, so as check in for the hotel wasn't till three and we arrived early, we made our way for afternoon tea. Afternoon tea at Langshott Manor is incredibly reasonable at £21 and consisted of sandwiches, scones and patisserie. 
Afternoon tea
The sandwiches were the usual suspects of salmon and cream cheese, egg and cress and cucumber. The scones were wonderfully lite, large in size and filled with lots of tasty raisins. Although the sandwiches were nice there needed to be a few more. 

We happily sat relaxing and eating looking out over the beautiful gardens whilst enjoying our tea. Fortunately little Noah granted my wish and allowed us to enjoy our afternoon, by looking cute and sleeping throughout. 
Langshott Manor
Once finished we checked into our "Windsor" room aptly named after the castle. 
Langshott Manor
The original details of the wooden beams and leaded windows made for a wonderful change. 
Langshott Manor
Langshott Manor
The comfortable robes and L'occitane toiletries were also the perfect way to relax. 
Noah gave the big seal of approval for the room and how comfortable the bed was, unfortunately the same cannot be said for his travel cot which he outright refused to sleep in. 
We had a wonderful relaxing stay for our first family break. The atmosphere is homely and you just cant beat sitting by a roaring log fire on a sofa chatting away whilst sipping on your favourite aperitif. 
The hotel effortlessly pulls off a blend of modern luxury merged with historic beauty. 
Langshott Manor
Langshott Manor
The hotel is also perfectly located for some great days out. 

2. Wakehurst Place - sixteenth century house 
3. Brighton 

We really look forward as a family to visiting the other Alexander hotels for a relaxing weekend getaway. 

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