Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Almond Shaping Delight from L'Occitane

I need a bit of a boost in terms of toning up the skin on my thighs and getting rid of a bit of cellulite. They are not bad in terms of muscle but inner thighs need a bit of a lift before I bear all on the beach. So I am going to test out Almond Shaping Delight by L'Occitane en Provence.

It has been developed to concentrate the powerful active ingredients into a cool body gel which will help the body to look slimmer by accelerating the release of existing fat cells with the use of draining flavonoids, and feel firmer by strengthening the skin with a tightening almond extract and collagen fibres.

I am hoping that my skin will be more toned and plan to use this religiously every day after my shower as part of my skincare regime, so that in a month's time everything will look a bit better than it does today.

I already love the smell and the fact that it is absorbed almost immediately into my skin - so it's perfect for using before rushing out the door to work in the morning.

I will definitely let you know how I get on - I hope it works as well as it claims too as I have a month before I hit the beach in earnest!

Almond Shaping Delight, L'Occitane en Provence, £32 for 200ml

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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Salt Water sandals - worn by stars and kids alike

These Salt Water and Sun San sandals have been cult classics since the 1940's. Developed from a need to save leather in World War II one Walter Hoy used the scrap leather from military boots to make sandals and soon families from all over St Louis were buying them for their children.

These are absolute classics with a load of attitude. The metal tongue and buckle is rust-proof and the sole rubber making them both bouncy and ultimately practical. The leather used in all these sandals is coated with a water resistant sealant and apparently they mould to your feet making them really, really comfortable, especially in the heat.

You can wear then to the beach and into the water - no more hobbling across pebbles and worrying about sea-urchins. Celebrity children wear the kids version and include Ruby Maguire and Suri Cruise. Adults who have been seen sporting them include Maggie Gyllenhaal, Sienna Miller and Alexa Chung. I might well be joining them. But what colour to choose?

Adult sizes from around £38, buy online or from selected stockists.

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Friday, 26 July 2013

Watermelon Lemonade recipe - ultimate thirst quencher

This is the one I bought but mine was the same without the slice!
During the week we grabbed a quick lunch locally and as the heat was overwhelming we opted for Watermelon Lemonade instead of the usual glass of rose. I have never tried this drink before (seems to be big in the USA) but as all my local shops are bursting at the seams with watermelons, and as it was both delicious and refreshing, I decided to make my own as it really is a fabulous summer recipe.

It was almost impossible to find an English recipe for watermelon lemonade but I do own a set of american measuring cups so I'm afraid the measurements are in those. But really you just need to be roughly accurate and use a bit of common sense. The secret is not to over-sugar the lemonade and to sieve it to get rid of the bits.

I used...

half a large watermelon with the flesh scooped out and the pips removed
2 cups of water
3 cups of water
1/2 cup of sugar
4 lemons

I liquidised the watermelon flesh then using the two cups of water, dissolved the sugar over a low heat. I then squeezed the lemons and added the lemon juice, the 3 cups of water and the sugar water to the watermelon which I had put through a sieve to get rid of the bits and extra pips.

Put in the fridge until really cold and serve with lots of ice. It's nice with some fresh mint leaves and of course if you have any left over melon it looks extra pretty with a slice. I can imagine it makes a brilliant mixer for vodka on a summers evening.

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Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Want - Anya Hindmarch inflight travel bag

Why? Because I do.

Realistically I won't be spending £150 on this lovely little beauty bag from Anya Hindmarch as I don't fly first class and really it would be wasted on cattle class (or tourist, or whatever you want to call it) which is where I do fly.

But how beautiful and stylish is this? And it would make my holiday travelling just that bit more glamorous.

It's plastic and shiny and because it has a clear exterior you can actually find things when you've gone into that 'zoned-out' condition on a long-haul flight. There are two zipped compartments, one for essentials to keep you comfortable at the start of your trip and one for landing. It's a nonsense of course but I do love a good design and this is a very good design complete with Anya Hindmarch bow.

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Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Honey from Marc Jacobs

Image from

We've had a rickshaw at the office and every bus seems to have the yellow and black polka dot bottle and packaging of the new Honey fragrance from Marc Jacobs, so with my love for honey fragrances, fresh citrus smells and all things to do with bees, I had to swing by John Lewis and squirt myself.

Okay it was a very hot day and the sales assistant did catch me putting some behind my ears which was a bit embarrassing but I have to say I really love it.

It's more citrus-y than overly honeyed which is a good thing as I was a little concerned it might be too sweet and cloying. Far from it - it's fresh with a subtle tang of honey. I felt I was walking a lane through fields of flours on a Greek Island.

The notes that make up the fragrance are

Top Note – Pear, Juicy Mandarin
Mid Note – Orange Blossom, Peach Nectar, Apricot, Honeysuckle
Base Note – Honey, Golden Vanilla, Smooth Woods

I want some!

Honey from Marc Jacobs, 50ml £49.50 Follow on Bloglovin

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Straw Hats for women - perfect sun cover

Sun's out again and even I (with my larger than average head - no really not an empty boast it is) am considering buying a straw hat to shade my eyes and keep the sun off my head. Of course I need a bit of style for this particular accessory (and they have to suit my sunglasses) so I went online as I must admit I was a bit uninspired by what the high-street has to offer, and came across Village Hats who have hats for men and women and pretty much every occasion. Here is a selection of my favourites for keeping off the sun.

100% crochet straw hat from Sur La Tete, unlined for extra ventilation, £34.95

Helen Kaminski Efia crocheted rafia hat, also from, £249

We saw lots of these visors in the South of France - they really are the perfect accessory, but you don't need to be there to wear one. Again by Sur la Tete, £9.95

Calamity Cattleman Cowboy Hat. Every year I promise myself one of these and every year I forget. This is now my hat, Sur La Tete, £16.95

Okay this one isn't straw but it's tropical and infinitely packable, Tropique sunhat, £18.95.

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Thursday, 18 July 2013

Courgette Salad with Hazelnuts - Yotam Ottolenghi recipe

This courgette and hazelnut salad is from Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbook, Plenty. Priced at £25 it's the sort of cookery book that you will return to all the time for inspiration. As it is vegetarian it's pretty healthy too - but I use a lot of the dishes to accompany meat and they really do lift a meal into the realms of the very special indeed.

This recipe I served alongside salmon and it really made for a superb summer supper perfect for healthy eating.

Parmesan cheese to shave on the top
Fresh Basil leaves
Olive Oil

I seasoned some olive oil with salt and pepper and  prepared the courgette by slicing them through at an angle into sliced. These were then covered in the olive oil and fried until nicely seared using a really hot griddle pan. Carefully turn them to do both sides then remove to cool. The hazelnuts I baked in the oven for around 10 mins then cut in half. The cold ingredients were then mixed into more olive oil and served with shavings of parmesan. I added a splash of Balsamic vinegar but you don't really need to as the basil leaves and roasted hazelnuts add a brilliant flavour all of their own. 

Apologies for the slightly dodgy photograph but I am always too hungry to dig out my camera when it's suppertime!

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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Superdry Bargain - iconic flip-flops

I am on the hunt for flip-flops. I want them in gold and I want to wear them in town as well as on the beach. Even though the style experts say that they should never be seen in town I just don't care.

Having said that I came across these brilliant Superdry flip flops which are not really stylish to wear as a sandal alternative but will definitely see me happy around the pool or beach.

At £14.99 (and this is including free delivery in the UK) they are reasonably priced and means I can buy into the Superdry label without looking too 'try hard'.

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Sunday, 14 July 2013

Stila All Over Shimmer Luminiser - perfect to set off a tan

Now I've got a nice, brown, base tan (and no longer a fake tan hurrah!) I want to enhance the shimmer. Not glow from sweat (well if I can help it) you understand, but a twinkle and highlight to my skin that will make it look youthful and glowing.

I grabbed a little file of Stila All Over Shimmer Luminiser in Kitten Shimmer (there is a more bronze, pink and rose gold version but I quite like the pinkiness of this shade) and have been using it to enhance my cheeks, forehead and neckline to great effect.

It's creamy, easy to use and minimises lines and wrinkles really well.

Here is how to use it properly.

Stila All Over Shimmer Luminiser, £16. 

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Friday, 12 July 2013

New Formula Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion+ from Clinique - on sale today!

Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion from Clinique is probably one of the first moisturisers I ever used and it has often been part of my skincare regime across the years. I was therefore really interested to try out the New Formula Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion+ which has changed the product slightly to allow it to fall in line with the many changes in skin care technology which have taken place.

On sale from today, no less that 6 and a half years and 3 formulating dermatologists, 53 researchers and 100 formula trials have gone into getting this Lotion+ just right. They put in new ingredients, tested and tested again with over 1,600 women from different ethnicities and across 5 countries and the final product got glowing reviews all round.

I have been using it for a week and I must say my skin feels soft, moisturised and looks really much brighter. Even though it ways it's for very dry to dry skin (which my skin isn't really) it is a light formula which is easily absorbed.

I've given this to my girls who use it regularly too so can't really say more than that. 

If you'd like to know the new ingredients they are

Hyaluronic Acid which helps skin to retain water
Glycerin which attracts water to the skin from the surrounding air.
Urea which is a naturally occurring component in the production of the skin's own natural moisurising factor so mimics what our healthy skin does on it's own.

It is allergy tested, 100% fragrance free, oil-free and non-comodegenic. New Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion+ from Clinique is £29.50 (125ml with pump) or £28 (125ml without pump).

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Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Recipe for Salad Nicoise, Cote D'Azur style

This was a salad I had as a leaving lunch before departing Villefranche. It's a salad nicoise which is always a winner in my book - but I have to say this one was of the best I have ever had.

Of course the recipe for making the perfect Salad Nicoise is to use the freshest of ingredients. Now they didn't use fresh tuna (but they did use a good quality tinned that wasn't dripping in oil but was nicely flaky) and they added a few extra ingredients which really made it extra special.

Ingredients for the perfect Salad Nicoise

Tuna - this had about a whole tin!
Anchovy fillets
Black olives
Hard boiled egg (halved)
Soya beans 
Tiny sweet tomatoes (halved)
Artichoke hearts
An assortment of green lettuce leaves with a few thrown in for good measure
Garnish with fresh basil leaves

Simply dress with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for the best summer salad. Preferably eat sitting overlooking Cap Ferrat but if you can't do that by an open window when the sun shines is pretty good too. 

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Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Villefranche sur Mer on the Cote D'Azur

Infinity pool at The Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat

I am a very lucky girl and got the chance to hop on an EasyJet flight to visit some friends in Villefranche sur Mer in the very south of France. I have never been to this part of France, normally sticking to the Loire, Burgundy or Provence, but I was quite simply astounded at how very beautiful this part of the world actually is.

Now I see why rock stars, film stars, writers and painters have made this their home. Who wouldn't given the chance?

Villefranche sur Mer is quite literally over a hill from Nice so a mere 20 minutes (traffic allowing) from the airport. Sharply tumbling down the hillside into the sea, it has the deepest port in the Mediterranean so plays host to super-yachts and the occasional cruise ship the size of a small town. The town and waters were also home to the US navy under NATO so was a place of ill-repute for quite a while. No longer the home to bars and brothels, the sleepy seaside port focuses on small independent restaurants, shops and cafes where you can meander around the 18th century streets, take in the atmosphere or sit in the sun.
Rooftops of Villefranche sur Mer

There is no real beach at Villefranche sur Mer (just a pebbled and packed piece of beach along from the old town) but if you're lucky you can pay a fee and grab a lounger by a pool in one of the hotels. An hour and a half from the UK and you need at least factor 20 suncream! Everywhere has a view of the Cap Ferrat, with the most expensive real estate in the world and you don't ever have to pay for a view! Cap Ferrat is pretty irresistible and we did indulge ourselves to a day pass to the amazing pool at the Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat (80 euros per person). If budget runs to it you can live like a rock star for a day - check out my photos for proof!
The fenicular railway to the pool at Cap Ferrat

Villefranche sur Mer is also amazingly placed to explore the coastline on the uber cheap french railway which runs all along the coast. You can even go to Monaco for around 7 euros - a bargain! Air conditioned and speedy the train can only really be beaten by an open topped sports car but not many of us have access to that!

A walk along the front at Villefranche sur Mer

Do as we did and book an apartment with a terrace up the hill. The 500 steps up will keep you toned and allow you to eat french pasties with impunity. We cooked simple suppers with the freshest of ingredients and watched the sun go down over the bay into the night - bliss! And on Saturday nights there's a free firework display over the harbour for added entertainment.
Steps to the Old Town, Villefranche sur Mer

EasyJet flights to Nice go from Gatwick regularly and if you book in advance you can get some real bargains. Cabs are not expensive but you can walk everywhere (apart from the Cap). Take a long weekend - the short flight time and easy going atmosphere will make you feel you've been away for much longer!

View of Cap Ferrat from above Villefranche sur Mer

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Friday, 5 July 2013

Look out for the Black Isle Bakery

We are talking confrontational buns here. And loaves. Well that is the plan of artist baker (and artesian baker to boot) Ruth Barry who is a welcome addition to the relatively new Hoxton Street Market.

Ruth studies art and sculpture but became disillusioned with the art world and decided that baking was the way to go. She contacted renowned baker Christope Vasseur at Du Pain Et Des Idees and went on to become an apprentice with him. Returning to London she set up the Black Isle Bakery after the place she grew up. The Isle is a place of myths and legends and she wants to capture that spirit in the Black Isle Bakery. Her buns are inspired by Russian Style pastry and she photographers her produce in a way that reflects her artistic training. I like the look of it all and especially these photographs and will be paying her and the Hoxton Street food market a visit very soon. You can visit her there and sample her delights at the New Hoxton Street Food Market every Saturday.

All images by Lena Emery/Black Isle Bakery.

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Thursday, 4 July 2013

The Book Of Mormon - what a blast!

Last night along with a  friend and my daughter, I went along to see The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Piccadilly. It was a long awaited treat - I'd booked the tickets months ago as they'd virtually sold out the minute this 'hot ticket' show hit the box office. And I can see why. If you ask me 'are you a fan of musicals?' I will always say 'no'. It's not top of my list for an expensive theatrical night out, although if I'm really honest I have enjoyed all of the musicals I've seen recently, so maybe I'm a closet musical fan after all.

The Book of Mormon will be going near to the top of my most favourite musicals next to The Producers and The Lion King. Okay it's a bit blasphemous and you could throw the race book at it if you so desired but you would really be missing the point, and if it put you off going altogether then you'd certainly be missing out. Remember the first time you saw The Life of Brian? Shocked a lot of people at the time, but it's now considered a classic and this show, I'm sure, will be exactly the same. If you're a fan or are aware of South Park, created by the same writing team, then you really shouldn't be shocked at the edgy language and occasional lapse into extreme bad taste - it's all par for the course.

And how easily offended are you really? Let's put it this way, there were two Mormon missionaries in the row in front of us (distinctive haircuts, pink shirts and clean faces) who seemed to find it thigh-slappingly funny. It is sweary - not many would break that comedy taboo of mixing the 'C' word happily with the 'G' word (and by that I mean God) and setting it to music. There are jokes about female genital mutilation, not a subject for comedy surely, but in this context it worked. But if you're easily offended then stay away.

If however, you want to breath in the sheer joy of great performance and learn a little about Mormons, then this really is worth the wait and the ticket price.

I loved every brilliantly slick, perfectly timed, anarchically written, creatively choreographed second from the moment the curtain rose to the moment it fell.

The cast were wonderful - the all American style boys playing the Mormons were all white toothy grins and exaggerated mannerisms. While the cast playing the villagers and illegal army in Uganda were loud, strong and owned the stage with their song and dance.

Musically they've stolen from many a standard musical and sent it up. The set switches from the USA to mud huts in Uganda with ease, but what impressed me most was the feeling of absolute joy that you come away with for hours afterwards.

Taking away the songs about everyone having AIDS or maggoty scrotums for a moment (and to be honest it's not overwhelmingly like this, being more sweet than sinful) and you have a lot of food for thought. The underlying messages and debate that this brings to the surface are those that have been going on for decades at least.  The premise that all religions are made up of stories and legends and change over time, becoming relevant for the people wanting to take part is the overarching theme. The fact that religions give hope and structure and meaning is a strong storyline. The fact that the downside of religion can be where it becomes over-controlling and replaces free thought is also referred to. I did laugh, a lot, but couldn't sleep for looking at the bigger picture and the points being made through swearing and song.

It's also a little bit bonkers which you'd expect from this comedy writing team. Darth Vader, Hitler, The Devil, a flight deck member of Star Trek and even Yoda all make an appearance even if only in the background but they all easily add to the theme of myths, legends and culture without just being there to be silly.

Don't dismiss The Book of Mormon, it's a love story and a story of human endeavour - go and see it to join in the debate. If the Mormons themselves laugh along then what's to stop you?

The Book of Mormon, Prince of Wales Theatre, Coventry Street, London. Follow on Bloglovin

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Galloping Horses designs make an impact at French Connection

I love this collection from High Street label French Connection as you can take as little or as much of it as you want and it will still have impact. Monochrome (all pieces are black/white/grey) and stylish this is fashion for little girls who loved My Little Pony (and those who didn't). The textile designs are really well drawn and I completely fell in love with the embroidered pieces. On sale on the French Connection site now I will soon be seen sporting the sheer shirt and the shopper which will easily take me through to Autumn/Winter.

Here is a selection of my favourites

Galloping Horses clutch bag, £85

Galloping Horses cotton dress, £120

Galloping Horses jumper, (price not given as yet)

Galloping horses white shopper, £125
Galloping horses T-Shirt, £37

Galloping horses shirt, £67

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Monday, 1 July 2013

Kinky Knickers launch new range in honour of Wimbledon

Quintessentially British knicker brand, Kinky Knickers, have launched a range of gorgeous lacy undies in honour of Wimbledon season. Brainchild of Mary Portas, Kinky Knickers are all produced in Middleton here in the UK and only use British made products. They are the perfect way to fly the flag and buy British and I just love the colourways of this particular underwear collection which comprise....

Purple and Lawn Green

Strawberries and Cream
 Grand Slam White

Each pair is £15 and they are available at John Lewis, House of Fraser and independent stores nationwide. You will want to show these off - wish Kinky Knickers did a full range of swimwear and lingerie, I'd certainly buy them!

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