Sunday, 13 July 2014

Stax Diner

Burgers on Carnaby Street

It has been a while but our burger club is back for summer trying some of the new burgers in town! Last week we went to Stax Diner which recently opened in Kingly Court, just off Carnaby Street.

Location wise this is great, Kingly Court is always a magical place to sit and soak up the summer buzz, and this little diner had great atmosphere, 80's tunes and some of the friendliest service I have found in a burger joint.

The menu lives up to many of the other burger joints we have visited and specialises in epic burgers with some cajun twists. We went for "Bring Home the Bacon" as the maple glazed beef bacon sounded too good to miss. Throw in some cajun fries, some popcorn shrimp and a couple of mega milkshakes and we were set to stuff our faces. The burgers were great, full of flavour, dripping in juicy beefiness and soft buns. The bacon was my personal highlight, extra crispy cooked and drenched in maple syrup. Big fan! The fries were thick cut and cajun spiced, I am more a skinny fries kinda gal but they were still tasty!

All in all definitely worth a visit, great burgers, great location - and if you are lucky your waitress may also do an impression of a hungry bear when telling you how best to tackle the massive burger in front of you x

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Monday, 24 March 2014

HD Brows Tried and Tested

The Hunt for the Perfect Brow

Today I tried out HD Brows. I have always hated my eyebrows. I think maybe a lot of us want what we cannot have and my brows bother me due to the long brow hair (do I trim this?!) and uneven shape (blaming my teenage self and over plucking for that one). On the upside they are dark(ish) and not too thick, though definitely unruly.

A makeup mentor of mine once told me "Eyebrows make a face" and this couldn't be more true. Since then I have tried almost every product on the market in a mission to make mine picture perfect, even and defined. But, not for lack of trying, I feel I haven't got there quite yet. Pencils can add some great definition though getting the shape right on my own seems an impossible task. Powder and wax help set my long brow hair but again doesn't help if the underneath shape is incorrect.

I have tried waxing and threading, both leading to a better defined shape though still left to me to fill out with pencils and even out. So when I saw HD Brows popping up on my Insta feed - with their perfect even celeb like arches - I couldn't help myself but try this out! Finding my nearest salon I popped down for my first HD brow consult and here are the results.

What I have learnt is that I need to go onto a regrowth plan (must resist temptation to pluck) and help my brows find their perfect arch (apparently I currently have 2 arches and look permo surpised!). They have also been tinted helping cut down my morning routine of filling them in and threaded/waxed to as close to perfection they can currently achieve.

This was no cheap task, and no instant fix as I will need to go back for future sessions. The first consult costing £35 and follow ups around £13. I am not to touch them in between - locking away the tweezers - and can fill in myself quickly with a brow pencil to achieve a finished look (though they now look fine without this)

So far I am happy with the results, they seem a little dark (my first brow tint) and the shape has a way to go but I believe fully in the importance of the perfect brow and will not stop until I get there!

For more information on HD Brows visit their website here

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Friday, 7 March 2014

What is in my Makeup Bag?

Makeup Spring Edition

I haven't done a makeup bag post in a while and as I am using a whole host of new products I thought I would share my latest favourites and can't live with outs!

My key to spring is a natural fresh look and this is my day to day go to bunch of products.

NARS Sheer Glow Foundation

[shade: Punjab]

This foundation is great for spring summer. As the name implies it is sheer with a slight iridescence to it giving a dewy and healthy glow to the skin yet with the right level of coverage (I do have to use a bit more concealer with this foundation as the coverage is light). NARS foundations always feel light on my skin with a very natural finish - perfect for day wear.

MAC Prep + Prime finishing power 

[shade: Invisible]

I do have combination skin and suffer from a pretty oily T-zone meaning that if I do use a dewy foundation I have to use a bit of powder on my forehead and nose to ensure I don't get that midday shine. MACs Prep+Prime loose powder is perfect as it is invisible so leaves no colour tone on the skin and gives a perfect and set finish to my foundation, lasting all day long!

Diorshow Black Out Mascara 

 [shade: Kohl Black]

I cannot get enough dramatic lash mascara in my life and this is an old time favourite of mine I have gone back to recently. With only a couple of coats my lashes look as long and thick as a good set of fakes which I do opt for in a day to day look though some may find it is only suitable for the evening. I love dramatic black around the eyes and this mascara is the deepest of black shades plus doesn't dry out my lashes. LOVE this

Illamasqua Precision Gel Eyeliner 

 [shade: Infinity]

I have recently become a huge fan of Illamasqua eye products. This liner is the best gel liner I have tried as it doesn't dry out in the pot after a couple of months like some other brands. The gel liner is very fluid and easy to apply and will last all day (and then some can be a little tricky to get off with water based remover). 

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Lustre Gloss

[shade: Bardot Beige]

This great little gloss from Charlotte Tilbury is perfect for a glossy nude day lip. The gloss is high shine and smooth and it lasts a long time. This gloss looks great alone or even better over a nude lipstick and is the perfect finish to a clean spring look! Stay tuned for more details on a recent Charlotte Tilbury haul!

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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Magical Mini Break in Marrakech

A Weekend in Marrakech

Last week I visited the magical city of Marrakech for the very first time! I have always wanted to go and it looked like the weather in February was going to be mild-warm, a nice change from the constant rain in London!

I stayed in Marrakech for 5 days and I wanted to share my little travel guide: where I stayed, some sights, top tips and of course food!

Badi Palace

Storks Badi Palace

Bahia Palace

Riad Hayati

I wanted to write about our Riad as I cannot express how much having the right accomodation can make or break a holiday. Our aim was to relax, escape and immerse ourselves in real Marrakech. This Riad was perfect for us! I was actually recommended Riad Hayati by my mum, always trust mums, and if you are looking to stay in the Medina I couldn't recommend highly enough. The owner has a brother and sister team look after you during your stay who are lovely and attentive. We had some great food in the Riad and even managed to fit in some sunbathing on the beautiful roof terrace! With a fireplace lit in our room every night it even ticked the romance box. You can find Riad Hayati on Trip Advisor here (#7 in Marrakech) and the owner Ron will be happy to arrange your booking via email. 

Riad Hayati view of the courtyard

View from our room

The room at Riad Hayati

Marrakech Sight Seeing

During our stay in Marrakech we did spend a lot of time in the old Medina. On our first day we visited the souks which can at first seem overwhelming but after wondering around for a morning you do get used to the way of business. If you do want to buy something we were told aim for 60% of the asking price, though our Riad host did say 40% is a great deal! To get to the souks we walked through Jemaa el-Fnaa - the big square. I have to say I did not enjoy the square, after reading about it being a magical place of street theatre and culture in guidebooks I was disappointed to find it full of tacky stalls, tourists, pushy traders and some scary monkeys.

We also visited some beautiful sights: Badi Palace, Bahia Palace and the Mellah (Jewish Quarter) within the Medina were lovely to walk around. We also decided to walk to the new town (Gueliz) which was a totally contrasting view of Marrakech. You can walk from the Medina but be prepared it is a fair way. My highlight of Marrakech and a place not to be missed was in Gueliz, Le Jardin Majorelle. Restored by Yves Saint Laurent this stunning garden now houses his memorial and currently an exhibit of his Love postcards.

Jardin Majorelle - YSL Love Cards

Jardin Majorelle

Jardin Majorelle

Jardin Majorelle

Jardin Majorelle

Square near the Mellah

Mamounia Hotel 


We ate at our Riad on a couple of nights and the home cooked meals were outstanding. Some other great spots:

La Tanjia - near the Badi Palace this restaurant had belly dancers and very tasty food. We had Mechoui - a slow cooked lamb with vegtables. Prices here were a little high but it had great atmosphere and food.

Cafe Arabe - this cafe is up in the souks and a little tricky to find as Marrakech can be hard to map read. However it is a great little restaurant for lunch after a busy morning shopping and even has a roof terrace. It also serves alcohol which can be rare within the Medina.

Kosybar - my boyfriends favourite this fantastic bar/restaurant overlooks the Badi Palace from its lovely roof terrace, plus serves a mean Mojito!

Grande Cafe Le Poste - A great lunch spot in Gueliz, I had a great salad and beer plus a delicious french apple tart, mmm!

Mamounia Hotel - we walked miles to get to this famous and prestigious hotel. We wanted to visit the famous Churchill bar but it wasn't open during the day. We still managed to have a beer in the sunshine and walk around the beautiful gardens and grounds. This is Marrakech luxury at its finest!

Rooftop drinks at Riad Hayati

Private Dining at Riad Hayati

Club Sandwich at Grande Cafe Le Poste

Apple Tart Grande Cafe le Poste

Top Tips

A couple of tips for the road from me:

1. Guide books are key and I recommend the Marrakech Select  Guide - it is handbag sized and has all the sights I wanted to see included with some easy to read maps.

2. Watch out for the henna ladies. I managed to get my hand henna'd without really wanting it, they will grab you as you take photos... just be firm!

3. Bargain hard even for taxi's - they know they won't get the price they quote and are not offended by low offers 30-40%

4. Don't follow random guides when you get a little lost. They often take you a longer route and try to bargain for unreasonable payments. Really they are harmless but as you get lost so often around the souks you might as well wonder aimlessly on :)

5. Marrakech is really safe. I was concerned I would find the hassle too much but I never felt out of my comfort zone... OK maybe when I got henna without consent!

The Medina

Orange Trees at Mamounia Hotel

A bit of unwanted Henna

So many cats!

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Monday, 27 January 2014

Dirty Burger


A Burger so Filthy you will need a Shower

Long awaited, today I finally made my way to the infamous Dirty Burger in Vauxhall. First things first my title is not a lie. These burgers ring true to their name, they are dirty. Here is why:
The first thing I would say is I was surprised by the sheer... simplicity... of this little burger hole. Hole is apt here, for those like me who don't know, Dirty Burger is a mere hole in the wall, A fast food shed with a couple of awkwardly placed stools. This made me instantly question: am I in the right place? Not to worry. Part of the dirty charm of the dirty burger is the location, fit for a hobo and smaller than a service station with the one item menu (cheese burger, or cheese burger?)
But my god does this place live up to its reputation. The burgers were quick and wrapped in paper, fast food. But no. This little burger packed the punch rarely seen in today's many gourmet burger joints. We (as seasoned burger tasters) were stunned into silence. What a flavour. Something in that mildly mustard, greasy cheesey and juicy patty stands above the rest. They have got it just right, perfectly cooked meat patty just red enough, and who knows what cheese they use but its simply divine.
My final note on your dirty experience is that you really do feel dirty afterwards. Other than the fact you are covered in greasy cheesy greatness, your fingers smell like you have been frying the patties yourself and your hair and clothes reek of fast food you feel on top of the world, as though you have found some kind of burger nirvana. But I really did instantly want a shower, burger violation at its finest.
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Saturday, 25 January 2014

Rusticana Munich

A Spare Rib Feast

This week I have been travelling in Munich for business but managed to come across the best Spare Rib BBQ joint I have found outside of the USA. Rusticana is a Munich gem - famed it seems locally and internationally for its finger lickin' ribs and litres of German beer (ein Maß). Imagine our delight entering this cheery tavern to the rich smells of BBQ sauce and gigantic tankards.

The real highlight here was the volume of meat we were served. A platter 50 ribs high was placed amongst the 5 of us and bibs handed out, and then its every man for himself as we battled through the sticky mound of food in utter silence. The ribs were a taste sensation, smothered in a thick layer of tangy BBQ sauce and perfectly cooked.

I was lucky enough to have this restaurant recommended to me by a friend or it could have been easily looked over in my Trip Advisor trawling. This friend has now earn hero status amongst us as I have to say this is one of the best eating experiences I have found for a while.

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Intrepid Travel

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Winter Skin Savers

Skincare Essentials

It feels like it has been winter forever, and dreams of sunshine and sandals are long forgotten. I am not a fan of winter, I like to be warm and one of the worst things about winter for me is the effect it has on my skin. Hello chapped lips and dry skin.

Skincare is always a priority for me and I am religious about it - even more so in winter as I notice if I go even a day without moisturising.

I wanted to share some of my current favourite skin care products with a focus on facial skincare (body to follow soon).

I have tried a lot of moisturisers and serums but the day and night treatments I am currently using seem to work best for me in winter as I need something richer to help my skin recover.

Day Cream

I have been using Darphin Hydraskin Rich (£36 - 50ml) for the past 3 months and love this as a day time moisturiser. This cream is lovely and rich and helps my skin feel nourished all day. I do suffer from dry skin patches especially on my cheeks and find often that moisturisers do not tackle this. This product really helped my skin stay continually soft and fresh this winter and I love it. On a side note I have also used the Darphin Hydraskin Light   - which is a gel cream and smells amazing. I use this product in the summer when I do not need anything as rich.

Night Oil

This is the first oil I have ever tried on my skin and I am hooked. I started using Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate (£25 - 30ml) about a year ago and it saved my skin. When I read about this product it promised to deliver instant results over night with noticeable improvements upon waking. And it really did deliver! The oil smells lovely and aromatic and also initially it feels greasy that soon disappears. When I wake up in the morning my skin feels new and soft, with the added bonus of this oil helping to eliminate any small blemishes and instantly repairing dry areas.

I couldn't live without this oil and am now on my second bottle, plus have several friends and my boyfriend equally hooked!

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Monday, 6 January 2014

The Grazing Shed Cardiff

A Burger called John

A change from the norm I visited Cardiff over the Xmas period and came across a great burger place!

John Wayne Burger

The Grazing Shed: A Cardiff based gourmet burger extravaganza. The best thing about these burgers (other than the taste) is that the ingredients are locally sourced from the surrounding Welsh countryside, lovely!

I had the John Wayne burger, beef patty with bacon, cheddar fondue plus smokey BBQ and cajun flavours. The best thing about this burger was the punchy flavours which really did melt in the mouth.  The burger was large in size which is always a bonus, and I really cannot fault it - delish!

In terms of sides, the fries were really well cooked, crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle, however a little over seasoned for me. To drink it was bottomless local soda (Elderflower and Rose made a lovely change from the usual fizzy drink burger combo).

A great place for a quick bite to eat and delicious burgers when visiting central Cardiff and I highly recommend a visit and can only hope that one day they might open a pop up in London!

Friday, 3 January 2014

NARS Limited Edition Palette

NARS | Guy Bourdin | Splendor in the Grass Blusher

As I have mentioned before I am a huge fan of NARS powders and highly rate the Orgasm shade, so when I received this limited edition NARS cheek palette for Christmas I was thrilled! The powders 2 matte, one shimmer and a highlighter are highly pigmented as all NARS blushers are and create a sultry and glowing effect.

I have used them separately but have found they look great when used all together. First the vibrant and shimmering "Angelika" (bottom left) with its lush pink and gold/silver shimmer on the apples of the cheek and along the cheek bone, then blending a touch of "Dolce Vita" (bottom right) the dusty and deeper pink under the cheek bones creating a shadowing effect. The soft peachy tone "Sex Appeal" (top left) can then be blended into the apple of the cheek and finally "Albatross" the highlighter (top right) on top of the cheek bone, up to the temple and even on the brow bone to give a perfectly sculpted finish.