Friday, 31 May 2013

Filofax updates The Original

I love my Filofax and don't care that it's not electronic but good old-fashioned paper. After all, the old-fashioned cocktail has made a big impact this year so it augers well for other slightly old-fashioned things too. Nothing old-fashioned about these new additions to the Filofax range though - they are bold, beautiful and fluoro!

This design is based on the original which I had back in the '80's and still have in a box somewhere at home with some very interesting phone numbers if I look back. Anyway back to the present day The Original is made from extra thick leather and is made in Britain using traditional leather-work skills. It's also available in soft brown and a retro green if the orange (or indeed the yellow, purple or fuchsia) are too much. Available in personal or A5 The Original Filofax is £60 to £80.

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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Lingerie and swimwear with Panache!

Gorgeous lingerie and swimsuits alert! Can you get enough of the latest fashion in swimwear and lingerie? I love the range at Panache as they cater for a wide range of sizes (well for everyone really) but still pay lots of attention to the detail. So lots of lace trims, great prints and super-sexy shaping for underwear and swimwear we will all want to show off! Here are my favourites

Cleo Swim by Panache, Betty Bandeau Bikini: £31.00. Frill Pant: £16.50

Cleo by Panache, Bella Balconnet Bra: £27. Bella brief: £14.50

Tallulah Balconnet Bikini Top: £32. High Waisted Pant: £22.50

Superbra by Panache, Loretta Bra: £32. Brief: 14.50

Cleo Swim by Panache, Dolly Swimsuit: £46.00

Panache Swimwear, Savannah Swimsuit, £48

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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Miss Fish box clutch from Sylvia Toledano

Being a Piscean I am drawn to all things fish. I love swimming with them too. So how could I resist this simply amazing hand- embellished 'Miss Fish' box clutch by Sylvia Toledano which I came across when browsing the Net-a-Porter website?

You can add a chain shoulder strap and the crystals are all Swarovski - and there are hundreds of them. Hence the price, a cool £1050. Oh well....

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Sunday, 26 May 2013

The Attendant - perfect for a snack in London W1

A hidden gem in Foley Street and built around 1890, The Attendant is a converted men's toilet complete with urinal stalls to perch at and eat your sandwich. Now I know that doesn't sound that appetising but it really is worth a quick visit if you need to rest your feet and refuel on a shopping trip to the West End. It really is just a sandwich bar but the quality is good, produce fresh and coffee is delicious. Ironically there is no toilet however so don't see this as a loo-break too....

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Friday, 24 May 2013

Mouth-Watering Dessert Recipes from Provence

A friend asked me to provide dessert for a get-together for 8. I love ice-cream but turning up with a bucket of pre-bought just wasn't showing the right amount of effort so I dug out my Provence Cookery School recipe book for inspiration.

Glace vanille au parfum de basilic (vanilla ice-cream flavoured with basil)

Yes basil. It just adds a peppery aftertaste which is really delicious and isn't at all over-powering. You do really need an ice-cream maker but if you haven't got on you need to regularly take the ice-cream out of the freezer to whisk it and break down the ice crystals.

1 vanilla pod plus a teaspoon of vanilla essence (the recipe asked for 3 vanilla pods but that is far too expensive)
8 medium egg yolks
200g caster sugar
300 ml chilled creme fraiche
2 tbsp finely snipped fresh basil

Put milk and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to boil over a low heat. Simmer gently for a few minutes then remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 30 mins.

Whisk egg yolks and sugar for around 5 mins. Remove vanilla pods from milk and pour a little at a time over the egg yolk and sugar mixture whisking vigorously.

Pour mix back into saucepan and return to a low heat. Bring to a fast simmer stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. The custard will thicken gradually until it can coat the back of a spoon. Take care not to allow the custard to boil or it will curdle. When thickened remove from the heat.

Strain through a sieve into a bowl and leave until it's completely cold. Whisk creme fraiche until stiff then fold in to the mixture along with the basil. Mix in an ice-cream maker than transfer to a suitable container and freeze until you need it.

Palets de chocolat aux noisettes (hazelnut and chocolate biscuits)

Not really a biscuit just melted chocolate and hazelnut which goes brilliantly with the ice-cream.

250 g chopped hazelnuts
500g best dark chocolate
3 tsp groundnut oil

Melt chocolate in a bowl over a boiling pan of hot water. Remove from the heat and whisk in the oil for 5 minutes. Add the toasted hazelnuts then spread a dessertspoon of the mix onto greaseproof paper - mix makes about 25-30 'palets'. Allow to harden and then serve with the ice-cream.

It certainly went down really well.

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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution from Kiehl's

I have been using this for about a month, once a day, every day. It's about the most dedicated I have ever been but I thought it might just help with the redness I am getting on my cheeks as time passes. I cover it up with make-up but there is no mistaking it without so I am prepared to go the extra mile with this.

And do you know what I think it has had an effect. Not a major effect admittedly but an effect all the same. The redness is nowhere near as obvious as it was and although it's not gone completely (now that would be asking a bit too much) there is definitely some improvement. And after a month of using it there is still just under a bottle left so it is good value too.

It does say give it 8 weeks so I will keep going for another month as I think it will have an effect which will be great if it does! I use it in the morning after my moisturiser and in the evening when I remember....

Key ingredients are Peony, active vitamin C and white Birch which combine to create an antioxident effect and brighten the skin. If you have age spots or flushing like me then I can recommend it highly....

Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution, £49 for 50ml.

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Monday, 20 May 2013

Mosaica at The Factory

It was the man's birthday so we decided to take a long-overdue trip back to one of our favourite restaurants Mosaica. You won't just come across this restaurant as it is hidden in an old chocolate factory not far from Wood Green station (yes Wood Green) but it really is worth a visit.

Photo: Tottenham Journal

We last went about 6 years ago and since then it has been bought by musician Labyrinth. But it's still just as good (if not better to be honest) as it ever was. The waiting staff are great, the menu is small (ish) but enough to please most people and the wine list goes from the affordable to the rather outrageous (as you would expect).

It is a bit like a New York loft with open kitchen and informal furniture that's a cool mix of second-hand and salvage. The candle near our table stood on a mountain of wax which has been there since it opened about 12 years ago with the wax building up over time, and there's a real mix of art and clientelle. Aged from 18 to 80 when we were there with enough young hoodied and baseball cap wearing guys eating three courses to give it a bit more of an edge than the norm. We like it and I must say the food was really up to expectation and will definitely make Mosaica remain in our top ten list of restaurants and cafes.

Here is what we had...

For starter I had chicken liver pate with bread on the griddle and mixed pickles. Ignore the burnt looking bits - it's more char-grilled than burnt.

My main course was a real mix of flavours with the red snapper fillet being served with samphire and chickpea alioli - delicious when put together.

Last but by no means least came a rich, thick dark chocolate pie that was laced with lavender and summer berries.

We had cocktails to start, a bottle of red wine and three courses and with a tip the bill came to £52 a head which for this quality of food and ambience is really quite alright!

Mosaica at The Factory, Unit C005, The Chocolate Factory, Clarendon Road, Wood Green, London N22 6XJ.  

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Friday, 17 May 2013

Rigby and Peller swimwear for Summer 2013

Going for tropical colours with great shapes, the Rigby and Peller swimwear range will create a splash whether you are in the local swimming pool or somewhere far more exotic. All the hottest colours are found in their Spring/Summer ranges so snap them up.
Purple bikini top £115
Purple bikini bottoms £61.95

Printed South Beach one piece £170

Fuchsia bikini top £92.95
Fuchsia bikini bottoms 56.95

I love the shaping on all the cups and the colours are sensational. There is always room for one more swimsuit or bikini in my suitcase...In store now!
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Thursday, 16 May 2013

Marks and Spencer fashion - out of the doldrums?

Marks and Spencer's fashion collections have left a lot to be desired over the past few seasons. There has been little that I would buy (apart from one plain black shift dress that was bought for me) as everything has been rather dull and shapeless. There is now a new style director Belinda Earl who was responsible for introducing the fabulous Designers at Debenhams range. By the looks of the Autumn/Winter collection she is already making her mark. According to The Daily Telegraph website Belinda says: "We've listened to so much customer feedback and the number one complaint has been quality." So it appears she has addressed that along with all the other complaints about cut, colour and suitability for women who would shop in M&S if they could find anything that didn't make them feel, well, middle-aged. I like what I see and am lucky that I work near the West End as I know I will find things in store. The next battle they need to address is availability in towns up and down the country - so if you can't find what you want you should complain to head office, Belinda is listening.

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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Come to a Twitter party to talk about health! #bootsmakeithappen

Tomorrow between 1-2pm I will be joining in a Twitter chat with Beautyandthedirt and The High Tea Cast - two fantastically knowledgeable sites along with all the twitter community who have an interest in health too. I am really looking forward to sharing tips and getting some questions answered so it'd be great if you could join us.

To join in use #bootsmakeithappen. Boots Let's Make It Happen is an initiative set up to help us achieve our health and beauty goals - whether that be to eat more healthily, lose a bit of weight or get into an exercise regime they are there to help. Check out the website for more details and advice. 

Boots currently have a partnership with Mumsnet and various radio stations and everything is hosted on The Feel Good Forum on Mumsnet - all shows are fully accessible now so have a listen. 

So come and join top bloggers Beautyandthedirt and Thehighteacast at a Twitter party on May 16th (tomorrow) between 1-2pm using the #bootsmakeithappen hashtag to discuss your own goals (and theirs) and to ask questions of the always helpful Twitter community. Follow them on @beautyanthedirt and              @thehighteacast

I will be taking part on Thursday lunchtime so join me @scaredcrows and the others to talk all things health! There will be some beauty goody bags to win for a few lucky tweeters too....
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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Bring on the Sun with glasses from Gant

I want to cry when I look out of the window and wonder if we will ever see the sun again. Are we doomed to yet another rubbish summer where swimsuits only come out when we go on a holiday abroad and there's no need for suncream if we stay at home? I do hope not and to turn my back on thoughts of clouds and wind I have been searching for the perfect pair of summer sunglasses to get me all set for when it does come back. And I found these retro cool beauties for boys and girls by Michael Bastian for Gant. They hark back to Mad Men and, well my Dad really, and I love them all. At £100 a pop they aren't too badly priced either.... sadly they haven't loaded them all onto the site yet but it's only a matter of time so keep a look out!

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Monday, 13 May 2013

Orla Kiely - I want all of these...

I went to my favourite garden centre this weekend and found that replacing the Christmas decorations was a whole room of one of my favourite print designers Orla Kiely. Her designs are instantly recognisable and completely dateless. Colours go with everything and they are always a great shape and size - so not all style over substance. Here is what I found...

I have some of the wonderful tins bought for me by a friend and they are filled with pasta and rice. It's affordable designer style for your home that I believe can't help to put a smile on your face. I am now tempted by her prints when used on fashion too - there are even sunglasses that I have an eye on should I ever need a pair again!

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