Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Thalassa Seafood Restaurant review

Fish and chips at Thalassa Fish Restaurant

Now that's what I call fish and chips!

Set in an unprepossessing part of Southgate, North London (well it is next door to the Asda supermarket) Thalassa is a restaurant which you really wouldn't look at twice. The exterior has strange sand-blasted glass and it is all very Mediterranean and wouldn't look out of place in Cyprus. It does look out of place in North London however which is a shame as the exterior really doesn't do justice to the fantastic seafood that is on offer within.
Starters range from fish soup to rock oysters, scallops and even sashimi - although vegetarians are catered for with baked aubergine. I went for sizzling King Prawns cooked in olive oil, garlic and lemon while my partner opted for Scallops served in a lobster bisque and white wine sauce.

But it was the mixed fish grill with hand-cut chips (in the photo above) which was the masterpiece of the meal. There were at least 4 fillets of fish, plaice, tuna, swordfish, cod.... all perfectly grilled and served with the freshest of chips and salad. This was the Sunday lunch menu which at £13.95 for both courses was
incredible value for the quality of food on offer.

The a la carte menu is pretty tempting and we will be going back for another look on a different evening - and look out for their lunchtime menus throughout the week, they really are great value. Lobster doesn't come much fresher than a tank at the back of the restaurant after all!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Splish Splash - Aqua Splash from Tangle Teezer

As most readers of this blog will know I have a constant battle with my hair. Okay so I do have curls which lots of people envy (why I have no idea but there you go) and I can afford a regular visit to the hairdresser to keep the grey at bay. However my hair is a law unto itself especially when it comes to brushing when washed. So it was with great joy that I discovered the Tangle Teezer a while ago (I have already blogged about it here). And it is with even greater joy that I received from those clever Tangle Teezer people, their latest addition to the range, the Aqua Splash, a brush which loves water!

The Aqua Splash from  Tangle Teezer simply glides through tangles with no pulling or tearing which ruins hair - mine especially.

This is the first upright, non-slip, water-loving, detangling hairbrush with a hollow design that makes getting rid of tangles before you've even left the shower a doddle. It is easy to grip and  has a nifty little drying foot so it can stand upright in your shower alongside shampoo and conditioners.

It is available  in four colours; Pink Shrimp, Blue Lagoon, Green Marine and Black Pearl. Aqua Splash from Tangle Teezer, £12.99.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Smashbox - The Studio Pop Collection

New from Smashbox for the holiday season, this collection 'Studio Pop' has some of the hottest shades making office to evening make-up even easier to achieve.

This Studio Pop for Eyes - which I was sent earlier in the week - has four really creamy and surprisingly blendable eye liners. I have found that pencils are often too hard to work with and drag the skin, but these are righer and have a softer feel so are much easier to work with.

The shades in the box come in Graphite, Bronze, Antique Gold and Imperial and will go with all eye-colours and there is a small Full Exposure Mascara which has olive oil in it to keep your lashes silky and soft.

If you've not come across Smashbox as a brand before it has been inspired by makeup artists, photographers and models working at Smashbox Studios in Los Angeles. The idea is that the colours are perfect from behind a camera - but this doesn't make them unwearable (honest). The story behind Smashbox Studios is interesting in itself. Two brothers, Dean and Davis Factor (great-grandsons of Max Factor) created Smashbox Studios in 1990 where many a starlet came in for fashion and beauty photoshoots. They were often asked for make-up that really worked in front of a camera and there the brand was born!

The Studio Pop for Eyes set from Smashbox is RRP £21 and is perfect as a stocking filler or for yourself. I will have at least one pencil to hand at all times now.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Halloween Inspiration - food and drink

How cute are these cakes? Molly Bakes have a pop-up shop at The Hoxton Hotel, 81 Great Eastern Street, London EC2. I am a little in love with the eyeball cake pops and will take great inspiration from the Halloween cupcakes - wow! If you are in the area go along...

Ghoul mask meringues from Melrose and Morgan

Or how about these amazing and tasty offerings from Melrose and Morgan?
Chocolate and Chilli biscuits sound delicious at £4.50 a pack or there's a gingerbread loaf for £4.95 which would be the perfect team-mate for a spicy Halloween cocktail or two... Garish ghoul mask meringues make for a sweet snack on Halloween too and are £4.95 for a bag of three.

Cocomaya Chocolate Skulls
Mexican Day of the Dead anyone? Cocomaya is celebrating Halloween in style this year with these gorgeous embellished chocolate skulls for £5.50. They also have pumpkin ganaches (£1.50), pumpkin pies (£30 for a whole pie, £4.65 for tart-sized) and gingerbread. Check out Cocomaya for Halloween!

Min Jiang Moutai Monster cocktail

Blood red cocktails are so Halloween and here is the Min Jiang Moutai Monster cocktail from Min Jiang, the fine-dining Chinese restaurant in Kensington. This is a wicked mix of Moutai, a famous Chinese liquor with Kahlua, vanilla and double cream. Apparently it has quite a kick! It is available only on 31st October in the bar and is £25.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

All I want... A Rangemaster Cooker

Pro + 90 SS
Rangemaster contemporary cooker

I am thinking, very much in the early stages mind, of redoing my kitchen. It is around 15 years old and cost a small fortune when we did it but it is now too small and cramped and although I know this is the price you pay for living in an Edwardian terraced house, there is never enough space.

So we are looking at extending out into the back sitting room and opening out the whole thing and along with longed-for work surfaces I am going to get myself a range cooker. While browsing I came across Rangemaster who I always thought just did very traditional looking ranges but was surprised by the breadth of designs and specs on offer. 

They are number one in the UK and all cookers are made in the UK too - since 1830 in fact.  They come out top in the Which? report on ranges - so you can't go far wrong. I love the simplicity and it will give me extra oven space and hob space too. The Rangemaster ranges are also approved by the Energy Saving Trust which is a big plus for me - what has put me off in the past has been the idea of using too much energy with my cooker.

I wish I could have this in time for Christmas, but I would love to have it all in place for the following one if I'm being realistic. Just imagine turkey cooked to perfection at the same time as crisping up canapes - that'll be a first!

Definitely going on my wish-list for my new kitchen. Check out the wide range of designs at Rangemaster.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Claire English, nostalgic jewellery with a modern twist

Inspired by a by-gone age but not vintage, Claire English is a modern jewellery designer based in London. The Special Jewellery Company, which realises her vision for combining a love of old curios with fine craftsmanship, has a collection of fantastically witty pieces that are really not badly priced.

Well-made, each piece will last an age as they don't follow the trend but if anything buck it! She says she 'has a magpies propensity for gathering themes' all of which she has incorporated into her designs. To me they feel like you have wandered into Dickensian London and The Old Curiosity Shop, complete with matchsticks and scurrying mice...

Burnt matchstick earrings, Claire English, £250

Mouse skull earrings, Claire English, £150

The Partridge wishbone necklace in Sterling Silver, Claire English, £145

Smouldering spent match ring, Claire English, £225

Friday, 19 October 2012

Win an iphone 5 with Salty Dog Nuts...

Salty Dog Nuts with the original Salty Dog, Ruby

Salty Dog nuts and crisps. Being a savoury snack fan I’m happy and willing to try any new nut or crisp that hits the shelves and can quite seriously put myself forward as a professional snack taster should the job ever arise. A friend of mine delivered a whole box of crisps as a gift when my eldest went off to uni and I must admit I was more than a little envious. I have devoted too much of my life (and too many hip inches) to  tasty savoury snacks. A lot of potatoes have been sliced since I was given my first bag which came completely plain and had a little blue twist of paper containing salt. And peanuts I can consume in vast quantities - which is why these small, portion-sized bags are such a great idea.

Photo: Reluctant Housedad

So what makes a Salty Dog  nut stand out from the crowd (apart from the name of course)?Well they're tasty and not too greasy but they also have a nice story. Delivery driver Dave Wills felt he could make better crisps than those he was delivering and in 2002 set up the Salty Dog crisp company named as a tribute to his terrier pup, Ruby,who always kept him company on his travels in the cab. 
Salty Dog Ruby...

Partner Judy was determined to create a more wholesome and natural snack that still had the appeal of what was already out there without the bad stuff like too much fat .

 The crisps  also have 20% less in fat than standard crisps. Salty Dog nuts - don't we all just love that name - are the new addition to the range and so to celebrate the Salty Dog brand have launched a competition.

Today sees the launch of a fantastic new competition via their Facebook page where you can win an iphone 5 so enter and you could be the lucky one! All you have to do is 'like' their Facebook page and tell them the gift you would go 'nuts' for this Christmas and you will be entered into the competition. 

Follow them on Twitter @saltydogrrr

The Salty Dog brand is now new to Tesco so order them now online.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

T-bar shoes are back for Autumn/Winter

T-bar's and Mary-Jane's are back, whatever your preference,  and it's a relief for those of us who cannot or simply will not squeeze ourselves into towering ankle breakers. They are neat, look great with trousers and skirts of all lengths and will allow you to keep on your feet for hours. I particularly like patents and have my eye on a cheeky little pair from (believe it or not) Clarks. Here's a selection of my favourites...

Now of course having said I wouldn't be wearing towering heels I really couldn't resist showing you this pair as they are great value and there is, at least, a platform which should help a bit!

Faith Claudia T Bar Heeled Shoes
Faith Claudia t bar heeled shoe, from ASOS £50

Galery T Bar Shoe
Galery t bar shoes from, £220

Bertie Modesty leather t bar Mary Jane from John Lewis, £40

CHIE MIHARA T-bar shoe
Leather and suede shoe from Chie Mihara at, £211.57

Bronze metallic shoes from Clarks, £54.99

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Top Shop range that is Unique

Top Shop Unique, if you haven't come across it yet, is a collection of pieces designed specifically for Top Shop and always causes quite a stir on the catwalks each season. This Autumn/Winter things went quite sophisticated which means that it can be worn by any age group really, which is always a bonus to my mind.

Fabrics are leather and wool and shapes have an almost military feel - just right now the weather is on the turn and we all look to wrap up. Colours follow the theme of so many designers this season and include rich berry's and deep khaki and you know that they really won't be either dating you or your wardrobe anytime soon.

Everything is slightly overlarge which makes it perfect for covering a multitude of sins. Here are a few of my favourites.
Dog-tooth check jacket by Unique, £130

Army Cardigan by Unique, £95
Padded toe cap boot by Unique, £120

Dog-tooth check trousers by Unique, £120
Khaki leather rucksack by Unique, £400

Monday, 15 October 2012

Cancer help is at hand with little big things!

Sadly many of us will know or have known about someone with cancer. It used to be rare or something that you got when you were too old to care, but now it affects so many of us it has almost become 'normal'. I have had three girlfriends with cancer and my mum had it too - and that's just without thinking really...

The wonderful news is that the survival rates are so much better now although the treatments are still tough-going, both physically and mentally. It affects the sufferer and those around them so it's always good to know that there is lots of help, support and information out there to allow everyone to take back some control.

AXA PPP healthcare have lots of cancer advise on their website through their dedicated Cancer Centre and today they have also launched a new Facebook Application which takes the form of a pin board where everyone can leave tips, inspirational stories and comments. It's designed to highlight coping techniques which can really have a huge impact and that is why the name of their campaign is 'little big things'. The application is all part of a six week long focus on cancer support across the AXA PPP healthcare social media channels. There is also a TV campaign to make everyone aware of where to go to get information and support - so keep an eye out for it!

AXA PPP healthcare pride themselves in working with the best experts around, and within that we mustn't forget their amazing team of nurses. This dedicated nurse service provides extra support and also gives great advice from those who have seen it all!

The AXA PPP healthcare YouTube channel discusses lots of extra tips and gives some great advice! Here is how ice cream really does do the trick!

How you can get help or become involved with the campaign.

Contribute to the pin board - share your comments or tips that you find the most inspiring or helpful which live on Facebook! Talk to and join in through Twitter #littlebig things and read the blog - all great places to find out more.

Join a live chat - all this week from 15-19 October live chats will be taking place with AXA PPP healthcare experts on a wide range of topics to do with cancer, from coping yourself and with relatives and friends, to specific forms of cancer and  nutrition and wellness.

AXA PPP healthcare member, Keith Hern will be holding a live chat to discuss his experiences and give advice. He was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2004 and chest cancer in 2009. He's written a book 'Bangers and Mash' and is the perfect person to give advice from a patients point-of-view. You can register for this and other chats on AXA PPP healthcare.

AXA PPP healthcare offers exceptional cancer support for its members and includes treatment of the condition at every stage, even if it recurs or spreads, no time limits or session limits are set on out-patient consultations, new cancer drugs as soon as they are licensed and a one-to-one dedicated cancer nurse service.

Get involved, sign-up to a chat for some great advice and support, or pass on the information to those who need it - you may well make a very big difference!

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Sunday, 14 October 2012

Return of the black polo neck

So it's back. The black polo neck. And right on time too when the separates you put with it will sport some amazing patterns and colours this season. It looks great with jeans but just as good with a pencil skirt and heels. You've probably got one knocking about at the back of the wardrobe, so if you have dig it out. And if you haven't? Here are a few to be had...

Knitted Merino Wool Roll Neck Top
Merino wool, £45, Top Shop

Cashmere, £75, John Lewis 

WOMEN Soft Lambswool Polo Neck Sweater
Soft lambswool, £14.90, Uniqlo

Just be careful and honest about your body-shape. It doesn't cover the multitude of sins you would like it to - and accentuates big boobs, rolls of fat and a rounded tummy - so wearer beware. It's a great look but needs to be worn with care...

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Club Fan Crystal earrings from J Crew - must-have!

Cab Fan Crystal and Bead Earrings

Gorgeous. Simply gorgeous. This is what the winter is all about in terms of colour - jade green, fuschia pink, cobalt blue, coral and a bit of sparkle. All brought together in an exquisite pair of earrings from J Crew and the most amazing thing is they are only £40. It's not often you can find anything for £40 on Net-a-Porter but I have and I love them. Buy them now before they sell out. J Crew Club Fan Crystal earrings, £40, Net-a-Porter.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Steak and oyster sauce stir fry

This recipe is good for those wanting to avoid too much fat. You can serve it with a serving of Thai Rice but that does just add to the carbs and this is good without really. The secret is to use really good steak which may seem like a waste of really good steak but is worth it honestly.

Good steak - enough for two people
Tenderstem broccoli
soy sauce
one onion
jar of oyster sauce
Sesame oil

Simply fry the onion in the sesame. Thinly slice the steak and add to the pan then fry until brown on the outside. Cut the broccoli into chunks and the carrots and mushrooms into slices. Add to the pan and again stir fry in the oil. Add the oyster sauce with a little water and allow to cook for around 15 mins to ensure the vegetables are tender (they still need to be crunchy though). Serve with soy sauce to taste.

This really is quite healthy due to the oils use, the lack of fat on the steak and the vegetables - and it is done in a flash!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Follow the Frog - clever Rain Forest Alliance

Sometimes you come across a marketing campaign that is just so clever you have to share it - and this one is one such campaign. Entertaining, not enormously expensive to produce and very, very clever. Enjoy!

I for one will now be following the frog...

Friday, 5 October 2012

Eponymous - my fashion problems solved

Dree Hemingway models the Savannah collection

Oh I love this look modelled here by Dree Hemmingway! It's easy to wear and will suit anyone from early twenties to much, very much later ;-).

That skirt will hide a multitude of sins and the length of the jacket skims the hips without cutting you in half.

Grey and white and black are the perfect combination - not so sure about the shoes but you can't have everything! And where, do I hear you ask, is all this from? The new eponymous label by Savannah Miller (sister of Sienna) which is to be found on from October 24th. The sisters worked a lot together while Sienna was awaiting the birth of her baby, and Savannah used her sisters house as a base. Not just a pretty face Savannah is a trained knitwear designer from Central St. Martins so has the fashion credentials and also headed up their joint fashion label twenty8twelve.

Now the reason I as so excited is I might actually be able to afford to buy something from the range as it is from £20 to £180 and ranges from day-wear to evening-wear with a small footwear collection too.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Oddities - odd shapes, great snacks!

I am a savoury snacker and will opt for a packet of crisps over a cake or biscuit any day. So I was really interested to try out new Oddities from Jacob's which are light, crunchy and frankly, delicious!
They are also not too bad in terms of a snack having neither artificial flavours or colouring. They come in small snack bags and bags for sharing so I will be shoving these into the next delivery I make to both my girls at uni to share with their house-mates.

You can choose from Smoky Bacon or Cheese which are top flavours in any crisp and I really like the shapes - they have gone to town. Add them to your shopping bag now!

So where can you enjoy your Oddities? Here is me over-excited having just seen Gary Barlow outside of Radio One - the bag I'd bought for the office just had to be dipped into!

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Store-cupboard Paella recipe

Well not just store-cupboard but freezer too.

I had 4 chicken thighs in the freezer and it seemed like every type of rice under the sun in my store-cupboard, apart from paella rice of course! Never mind, I used brown basmati which gave a lovely crunchy texture.

Serves 2

4 chicken thighs
500 ml vegetable stock
Half onion chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
black olives
red pepper
half fennel bulb
4 tomatoes
About 150g brown basmati rice.
A few saffron strands (if you've got any).

I marinated the chicken thighs in lemon juice, olive oil and black pepper in the fridge during the day then roasted them slowly in the oven for around 45 mins.
Fry onion, garlic, fennel (thinly sliced), red pepper together in olive oil until soft. Add washed rice and stock and chicken which was roughly torn into pieces after roasting. Roasting first really brings out the flavours I find.

Add tomatoes chopped into slices, saffron and black olives. Slowly simmer on the hob until rice is thoroughly cooked - you may need to add more water during cooking. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Forever Crazy - Crazy Horse hits London...

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to a preview evening of Forever Crazy, the Parisian show that's creating quite a stir in a tent on the South Bank, London..

This is their first ever stand-alone show which features stunning nude performances made all the better by dramatic lighting and projections and some very clever choreography.I didn't really know what to expect, but found it all tasteful, extremely polished and quite hypnotic. We had a waitress-served table which added to the effect that you weren't really in a tent on the South Bank but were in a Belle Epoque Nightclub on the Champs Elysee.

These woman are almost a different species from the rest of us. Each well-turned ankle and beautiful thigh was exactly the same as the neighbouring one, and they worked and moved in unison creating a show that was hypnotic and highly entertaining. It certainly makes for an unusual night-out...

Crazy Horse presents Forever Crazy until December 22 2012. 99 Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PU.

Photo: Wow we're officially open for business! What an amazing premiere. Thank you to everyone who joined us for a great night and the official arrival of Crazy Horse in London!

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