Monday, 31 March 2014

March Favourites

These favourites are a bit summer focused for a March post, but you can’t blame me – I spent the first week of this month in Mexico (sob, it feels so long ago) and since then the weather has perked up a little bit in England, so my mind is filled with dreams of cider, flip flops and sunny days! While I wait, here’s what I’ve been loving this month…



Skincare

The Australian Gold sunscreen is probably the nicest sun protective I’ve ever used – it’s in a really good spray, it smells nice, it isn’t sticky and it made my tan look really bronzed and even instantly! I’ve never seen this for sale in the UK but if I see it again I’ll snap it up!
I also added extra moisture with the Nivea Spray On body conditioner in cocoa butter flavour. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of anything coconut flavoured, but I tried to avoid the hype when this product came out, telling myself I didn’t need any new moisturiser and that it wouldn’t be that helpful. Eventually though I caved – and I’m really glad I did, it’s brilliant! It makes moisturising so quick and easy, even if you’re really lazy – and it works, and smells delicious. Win win.

Make up
This Bourjous Healthy Serum Bronzing BB cream has been great – it’s really dark on it’s own, but if you mix it with a bit of moisturiser or foundation it gives a lovely glow. It is quite shimmery so I think it’s probably better for the evening. I’ve also been wearing my Benefit Hula bronzer every day – I do always like this bronzer, but when I’m pale it can be a bit muddy on my skin – with a tan, it just looks really nice! I’ve gone back to my Bourjous lip stick balm pencil in ‘Peach on the Beach’ too, as I often do when I’m tanned. Nail polish wise, I’ve been wearing Barry M gel paints in Blueberry and Papaya. I find the formulas really beautiful and applying my Sally Hansen Fast Dry topcoat has helped them stay on – this is the best top coat I’ve ever used. The colours are just so lovely and I would recommend them to anyone.

Scent
I got this really cute Britney Spears Fantasy Twist – it comes with both the Fantasy and the Midnight Fantasy perfumes. I’ve been wearing Fantasy a lot this month – I’ve worn it for years but it always reminds me of summer nights and good times! I’ve also been using this pillow spray by The Sanctuary a lot this month – the lavender smell is so calming and it makes the bedroom smell gorgeous every night.


Hair
I re did my ombre recently (post coming soon!) so I’ve been using the Macademia oil, which I’ve loved for years, a lot to counteract the damage. I’ve also fallen in love with the Philip Kinglsey elasticizer – I’ve run out, which is why it isn’t pictured, but I’ll definitely be repurchasing it! I just put it on for around 10 minutes in the bath and afterwards my hair is super soft – amazing.  On holiday, I loved putting the Bumble & Bumble surf spray in my hair to give it that beachy feeling. 

Candle
Not a candle as such but since we moved house I’ve put this little lantern candle outside and I just love how it looks. I can’t wait for summer when we can sit out there and light it and have some drinks on the balcony!

Fashion
I can’t move on from my holiday and I’m still wearing all these wooden bracelets on my wrist – they make me feel happy! I’ve also been loving hippy cardigans like this cream one from Forever 21 which I’m obsessed with.



Food
I’ve been enjoying making salads this month – the first one is chicken and bacon, the second is Mexican style with spicy chicken, guacamole and salsa. Healthy but delicious – I always enjoy salads more in the summer.


 
TV
I’m still absolutely loving the Wire – Jimmy McNulty is my major crush – but also, Game Of Thrones Season 3 has finally come out on Sky Catch Up so we’re watching it quickly so we can watch the fourth season when it starts – really excited! I’ve also been watching Teen Mom 3 – I think MacKenzie has inspired me to do more exercise so it’s not all bad!

Music
This month I’ve finally forced myself to step away from the Arctic Monkeys album and I’ve been playing Band of Horses and Kings of Leon a lot. My favourite song by Band of Horses is probably ‘Is There A Ghost’ and my favourite Kings of Leon song is ‘Cold Desert’ or ‘Tonight’. I’m paying for Glastonbury tomorrow and these bands always get me in the festival mood!

Random Favourites
Our holiday OBVIOUSLY, and the view from our new flat – just look at it…



Unfavourites

Moving out of our old flat (sob), my boyfriend not being well this month (although he’s getting better now) and the lack of Mexico in my life now! 
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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Ping Pong Dim Sum Dreams

Last night my friend and I met for dinner and shopping at Westfield Stratford. She’s getting married in August and I’m one of her bridesmaids so we had loads to talk about and we wanted a long, leisurely dinner, preferably with cocktails! I got ready (in my new koala shirt – do you like it? It’s my new favourite shirt!), looked through the list of restaurants available and one caught my eye – a new branch of Ping Pong, a dim sum chain.



Ping Pong has some really bad reviews online, with people saying it’s inauthentic, over priced and bad quality – which might have put me off, but for one thing…I’ve been there before. On a random occasion last summer I ended up in the Waterloo branch with about ten people – we ordered lots of the set menus and pigged out. I remembered it being really good, so we decided to give it another go. Now, just to clarify; I’m not a dim sum expert – this is just my experience. I, personally, thought it was really good!



First up, cocktail time! We were pleased to find it was happy hour, so all the cocktails – already reasonably priced – were half price. I had ‘strawberries and passionfruit’ which was gorgeous – really juicy with big pieces of fruit –and my friend had a ginger and limoncello caipirinha, which she also pronounced delicious. Ping Pong leave little checklists on your table so it’s easy to order. We made our selections and gave our list to the friendly waitress.



We snacked on crunchy tempura seaweed crackers while waiting for our food to arrive – yummy, salty crisps which we dipped in hot chilli sauce.



First up -  roast pork puffs. Honey roast pork in glazed puff pastry. These were so good – just sweet enough without being sickly, a bit like posh sausage rolls. I definitely recommend them!



Next we got a noodle dish – one of the specials, shanghai pork noodles. The noodles were great – we both agreed the pork could have had more flavour, although we dipped it in the sauces we’d ordered and that tasted really good.

Next up arrived our baskets containing steamed parcels of goodness - which I forgot to photograph (bad blogger). We had chicken and cashew and spicy chicken. The chicken and cashew were far and away the winners for me – gorgeous little warm parcels of nutty chicken flavour all wrapped up in softness! The spicy chicken had a little too much carrot for me, and the bun was a bit gooey in consistency.



We also had sticky vegetable rice, all wrapped up in a banana leaf…


And incredibly tasty duck spring rolls, dunked in plum sauce.


After all that (and an additional cocktail each) there was no room for dessert so I can’t comment on what it would have been like – but other than that, I would 100% recommend Ping Pong. If you’re new to dim sum like I was, it’s a great way to dip your toes in the water! You want to go with a person - or a lot of people - who like to order lots of food to share, because it's the mix of flavours that makes it fun. It's fine for veggies - there's loads of veggie options - and you could probably go if you were watching your waistline...but you wouldn't have as much fun! 

Have any of you been to Ping Pong? What did you think? Any other dim sum places I need to try? 
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Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Champagne on a Monday? Maxwell’s Monday Madness

Yesterday was my mum’s birthday. I am really close to my family and always have been, but somehow I hadn’t seen them for ages – nearly a month, since before I went to Mexico, which is one of the longest times ever! I was so excited and spent the whole day at work staring at the clock and wishing the minutes away until it was finally time to head over to Convent Garden.


We met in Henry’s, which is a really nice bar on the other side of the market area. I pushed my way through 700 Japanese people taking photographs of red telephone boxes (seriously, it is SO touristy round there) and excitedly joined the fam! We had a drink and then made our way over to Maxwell’s Bar & Grill for dinner (conveniently bumping into my boyfriend on the journey).

I’ve been to Maxwell’s a couple of times and I would describe it as a better version of TGI’s – big portions of decent food served in a diner type setting. On Mondays they offer ‘Monday Madness’, with reduced prices and happy hour all night, which I would seriously recommend – it’s slightly overpriced at other times! I would book – being in such a prime location, right opposite Covent Garden station, it can get really busy – and be aware that it’s quite a noisy, busy restaurant – my Dad spent the first half of the evening looking confused and asking us to repeat ourselves!





But if you do go, the food and drinks are great. We had champagne, obviously…

We shared a chicken platter to start, which for some reason I forgot to photograph – a shame, because it was great!




My boyfriend had fajitas as a main and declared that they were very good – no scrimping on the portions!


My mum had a ‘salad’. Not exactly the healthy option as it was an entire chicken plonked on some lettuce – topped with bacon – but very tasty!


I had chicken smothered in BBQ sauce with chips. YUM.  


I didn’t photograph everyone’s meal as obviously we were all having too much fun enjoying ourselves, but everyone enjoyed their food and we left extremely full and contented. I love family occasions like this and it’s made me look forward to going home at the weekend even more. It’s also made me realise how much fun it is to go out on a Monday – I’m going to recommend it more often (sure my boyfriend won’t be happy!)  
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Monday, 24 March 2014

Hawker House Street Feasting

I have wanted to go to Hawker House Street Feast for what seems like forever, but has actually been just a couple of months. I read about it on another blog and was immediately convinced – a market dedicated to gathering together some of London’s best street food? Get me there at once!

Somehow, it didn’t really happen like that – life got in the way, as it always does, and time went by, until suddenly I realised the last weekend of the Street Feast was rapidly approaching and I still hadn’t paid it a visit. Deciding this had to be rectified, my boyfriend and I cut drinks with our friends early on Friday and got the train to Cambridge Heath to a little foodie wonderland.



We were pretty late (read very late) as ever, so unfortunately the food had started to sell out, but we still had plenty of treats. After we'd got our drinks (which weren't actually radioactive like they look here) and stamps on our hands, we headed towards the food!



First up – Yum Bun. Slow roast pork or fried chicken in buns so soft they tasted like clouds.




We started with one of each and split them between us. The pork was good – juicy and succulent – but we both agreed that the chicken was the runaway winner. The crispiness against the softness of the bun was just so good!


Next we headed to Breddo’s tacos, which after my recent Mexican adventures I was really looking forward to. I’m glad we got there when we did, because we got the last two tacos available – the poor people behind us were sent away!



We both had steak – the one with all the chillis on was my boyfriend’s, obviously, and the tamer one was mine! They were so good – we would definitely have bought more if they hadn’t been closing down!

Because we were concerned that everything would sell out, we decided to join different queues next. Ian headed to The Bowler and picked up steak and cheddar balls in slow cooked tomato sauce.



I made it to F&G and watched as they prepared me a chorizo and haloumi Lebanese flatbread wrap. 



Yep, that’s right. Chorizo AND haloumi. If that isn’t a match made in heaven, I don’t know what is!



We found somewhere to sit – as it was a bit later, it had started to empty out – and shared our little finds (aka stuffed our faces) before deciding what to get next…


It had to be Yum Bun. We went back and got another chicken bun…


And then another. We just couldn’t stop! It wasn't my fault - they're just TOO good. 


Finally, it started to close, we were out of cash, stuffed to the brim and the hipsters of East London were starting to drift out into the night, so we gave up on our dreams of another chicken bun and called it a night. 




I’m so glad we finally got to experience the street feast – and I’ll be searching out Yum Bun again, for sure!


What did you all get up to this weekend?  
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Friday, 21 March 2014

Mexico Pt 7: Sunshine & Sad Goodbyes

This is my last holiday post, which makes me sad. Even though my holiday ended a while ago now I still have slight end of holiday blues and a desire to go back - it was honestly one of the best holidays of my life!




We walked back pretty sadly along the beautiful beach on our last day in Mexico – but there was still one night left of amazing food to enjoy!



We went to a restaurant called ‘Mextreme’ and had copious starters followed by build-your-own tacos.


The staff were so lovely and friendly, and we even met a fun Michael Jackson performer…who looks pretty terrifying here!



Another margarita the size of my face – the last one of the holiday, cry.


The next day there was time for one last splash in the pool...




 and another final – slightly more successful – attempt at an underwater selfie! 





My bikini is sold here from Boohoo.com by the way – I wore it two days in a row as I liked it so much!

Finally we had no choice and climbed into the mini bus to take us to the airport…only to find out our plane was four hours delayed!





We ate revolting cheese fries and the airport emptied out around us as we sat in the airport bar, drinking ludicrously overpriced drinks and listening to a somewhat repetitive nineties soundtrack (I never want to hear ‘Oooh, baby I love your way again’  - not that I ever wanted to hear it in the first place, actually). The plane home was overnight, and I did manage to sleep a bit, only to emerge blinking into the London…sun! What?! I was so glad it was sunny!

Sometimes I think holidays do more than just give you a chance to relax and have fun - they let you reassess and focus on what you want to do in life, and (without getting too existential) who you want to be. Since I've got back I've really tried to focus on staying true to myself and making decisions that I can be happy with. So I'll leave you with this quote, which I think kind of sums it up... 


Normal service resumes next week - see you then! 



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