Sunday, 27 October 2013

SkinCeuticals helps create younger looking skin

About a month ago I went to a SkinCeuticals event where we were talked through the benefits of both the brand and how non-surgical technologies can really benefit our skin as we age. I'm not a big fan of fillers and the like (though never say never) but I knew of SkinCeuticals by reputation so was keen to give it a trial.

As I say that was a month ago. I had been given three products from the range after having my skin analysed - this highlighted skin damaged by the sun under an infrared light, and to my sadness there was quite a lot. There is always a pay-back for those holidays in the sun! My skin was also dehydrated which adds to wrinkling and it just lacked glow - even though at the time I had the remains of a tan.

The products  -

SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF , a high performance broad-action antioxidant which contains phloretin, l-asorbic acid and ferulic acid  which combine to protect the skin from environmental attack in the deeper layers of the epidermis. It also boosts the skin's structure as it supports collagen and elastic levels which makes skin feel firmer and look more radiant - both things I really need. I used 5 drops of this over my skin first thing in the morning after cleansing. I was confident that this would help with my hyperpigmentation too.

Ultra Facial Defense SPF 50 High Protection, which contains a UVA/UVB moisturising sunscreen to protect my skin against the sun's rays and therefore help with anti-aging. This I used after my normal moisturiser.

Pigment Regulator which is a daily high potency brightening treatment which contains emblica and kojic acid. I used this at night after cleansing and before putting on moisturiser and really worked on redness and blemishes caused by sun and other environmental factors.

So that was my 'prescription' - well that's what it feels like as these are highly professional and scientifically produced products.

How did I get on?
Well first things first. The products are all incredibly easy to use and are quickly absorbed, so I didn't feel much disruption to my usual beauty regime. This is important to me, like most people with busy lives I don't have time for hours in the morning or last thing at night to work on my skin, so this is a real bonus.

All the products are simple, they don't smell, they absorb quickly and are really pleasant to use. So trialling it all religiously for a full month was a pleasure rather than a pain.

But did it all work?
The incredible thing was that I really found that after only 8-10 days I could really see a difference to my skin. Those tiny lines that made my skin look older were far less apparent, larger lines on my forehead seemed to be less of an issue too and my skin just looked much, much healthier. It glowed and the pigmentation that was both red and brown on my cheeks had started to fade. By a whole month my skin looked good enough to wear just the lightest sweep of powder to look good. People started to say I looked well - but I certainly haven't been getting any more sleep or relaxation than normal so it must have been the Skinceuticals regime. My skin also feels softer to the touch. It doesn't cure everything - how can a few creams do that. I still have broken capilliaries around my nose for example, but overall my skin is soft, elastic and much more even in tone. I am pleased and even after a full month have a lot of product left - the Phloretin CF looks like it will last me a full six months to be honest!

These products are not cheap but last a long time and do work. For further information contact SkinCeuticals online and they will help you find your nearest consultant.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Nigella Lawson's Lemon-Syrup Loaf Cake recipe

Lemon-Syrup Loaf Cake hot from the oven

I really am no domestic goddess but I do love baking the occasional cake or cupcake as this blog will testify. You really can't go wrong with most of Nigella Lawson's recipes and this one took about 15 minutes to make and 45 to bake so you can be quite spontaneous!

125g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
2 large eggs
zest of a lemon
175g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons milk

for the syrup
juice from 11/2 lemons
100g icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180 degrees c or gas mark 4. Line and butter a loaf tine. Cream together the sugar and butter then add the eggs and lemon zest. Beat well. Add flour and salt folding in gently. Then add in the milk. Spoon into the cake tin and bake for 45 minutes until it's brown on top and a knife comes out clean.

To make the drizzle mix the lemon juice and icing sugar and warm to melt the sugar. When the cake is cooked and  has cooled a little remove from the cake tin and pierce all over with a fork.  Spoon over the drizzle. Delicious!

Lemon-Syrup Loaf Cake

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

La Loi brilliant kidswear

La Loi is a brilliant range of childrenswear from art director, Kate Law. It's been around a year now and her unisex leggings have really brought fun and individuality back to kids style.

They are designed, printed and manufactured in England and Kate has used her editiorial design background (for magazine i-D amongst others) to bring together the best illustrators, photographers and typographers who will be producing further collections.

Above all La Loi are fun to wear and kids will love them either on their own or under ripped jeans or shorts in the winter. They look great with wellies and the most important thing to Kate is that they don't patronise kids. 'I was frustrated that colours and patterns were predominantly girly. I wanted an accessible and universal unisex brand but with an edge that didn’t patronise children’s taste which I have tried achieve in the first collection.”

Here are just a selection. La Loi leggings are £39 - wish I was young enough to wear them!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Frieze Art Fair and The Other Art Fair

There's been pages and pages written about the Frieze Art Fair in Regents Park, London so I am not going to even try to add to it all in terms of attempting to be an art critic. Like most I know what I like, which isn't really helpful to anyone else but gives me pleasure. This weekend I went to both Frieze (tickets bought by a very generous friend) and The Other Art Fair in Shoreditch. One thing I will say about The Other Art Fair is that it's great because it's fresh and young and you get to meet the artist. It's also almost affordable!

So here are my snaps from both fairs just to give you a flavour of what was there. Don't like all of it but it is arresting if nothing else!

Jeff Koons, Stainless steel

Jeff Koons, stainless steel

Jeff Koons, Stainless steel

Tracy Emin, embroidered blanket

Loved the sentiment behind this postcard at The Other Art Fair
Amazing 3-D art from a 3-D printer

Art will eat itself

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Christmas ideas - R-Evolution Cocktail Kit

This is one for those who like cocktails but fancy themselves as a bit of a Heston Blumenthal to boot. This kit is like your own chemistry lab where you can create your own molecular gastonomy for drinks. Each kit has 50 sachets which you can use to change juices, sauces, creams and dressings. You can create food beads that burst in the mouth, and for those who like cocktails you can create mojito spheres to serve on a spoon or cocktails that foam in the glass. How much fun will you all be having at New Year if this is under the tree for someone at Christmas? It comes with an instructional DVD which has 30 video recipes too. I would quite like this myself....

Cocktail kit, £44.99 Lakeland.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Christmas ideas - Whisky Stones

Sorry to be a complete bore but I am starting my Christmas shopping now. It spreads the cost and makes me feel less stressed (though I will still be panic buying the week before Christmas). As I come across good ideas I will be featuring them on my blog - especially those that are great for awkward people to buy for.

So here's my first idea - Whisky Stones!

These are great for those that like a short drink (apparently they aren't great for long drinks) but don't want to water it down by using ice. This set of Forma whisky stones is inspired by an ancient Scandinavian method of cooling hot drinks. They are made from American soapstone and all you need to do is store in the freezer then add 3 to your drink which you then leave for 5 minutes before serving. It comes in a muslin storage bag and is quite expensive at £20 from Habitat but I like the packaging. You can get them cheaper elsewhere but they aren't so nicely presented for a gift.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Winter boots from Toms

As anyone who reads my blog knows I am a bit fan of Toms, the footwear company that provides a pair of shoes for a child without every time you buy a pair. Their little summer pumps are great but what about winter? Well they've obviously thought of that two and I have fallen for this pair of boots which won't be so good in the deep snow but will definitely take you through the winter.

Inspired by travels in Nepal this boot is made from mixed materials, a suede upper and woven high ankle, and the suede is weather friendly! There is also a super soft fleece lining and solid rubber outsole. For £100 from the Toms website  I am really having great boot love.

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Sunday, 13 October 2013

Macbeth gets a city banker twist

Banquo (Ian Grant), Duncan (Michael Mayne) and Macbeth (Steven Maddocks)

Saturday night saw us travelling to Marylebone to The Cockpit Theatre, a small fringe theatre not far from Baker Street, where we caught a fabulous new production of Macbeth by theatre company Infinite Space.

Macbeth has it all. Ambition, greed, ruthlessness - all themes that mirror the perception we have of life in the city and banking sectors. So it's the perfect Shakespearean play to get a modern interpretation and with this fabulous production from Infinite Space Theatre Company we see the tale of two houses set behind the doors of the City.

The Royal Bank of Dunsinane is large and seemingly indestructible, but as we all know to our cost, large banks and corporations can fall as quickly as they seem to rise. The bank is led by Duncan and we see Macbeth (who is manipulated and urged on by his ambitous and ruthless wife) seek and succeed to take over, with the prompting of the witches, this time appearing as tabloid journalists. We see the rise and fall of Macbeth and The Royal Bank of Dunsinane, which in it's final days, succumbs to an aggressive take-over bid by Birnam Wood bank supported by the Bank of England.

First Witch (Miranda Colmans) and Macbeth (Steven Maddocks)

This production is slick and the set minimal, with a clever use of a TV screen and video. All performances are strong - it's refreshing to see so many female actors taking the more traditional roles normally played by men, particularly Macduff, the HR director, who defects to Birnam Wood with horrific consequences. Played by Fran Trewin, the transposal of male to female doesn't ever seem out of place - her performance is heartfelt and sincere.
Macduff (Fran Trewin) and Malcolm (Thom Petty)

Shakespeare is only ever as good as the cast who are taking it on. If the actors don't feel and interpret the rhythm and meaning of the words then the play is lost to a modern audience. This cast all gave very strong performances and even with the added twist of setting and theme, they made the story come alive even to those who have never seen Macbeth before. Steven Maddocks as Macbeth owned the stage with a performance that was both a brilliant execution of this iconic character to a modern day audience, while having great stage presence. Slick suited and grasping a Costa Coffee cup, he is every inch the young banker punching above his weight while believing in his arrogance, that everything is on his side.
Lady Macbeth (Danielle Stagg) and Macbeth (Steven Maddocks)

Lady Macbeth is beautifully played by Danielle Stagg. We see her change from manipulative, demanding power broker, to tortured soul who cannot live with the consequences of the couples actions. We see her power suited and the perfect hostess to Macbeth's corporate entertaining, however the ice-queen demeanor doesn't last long and in her final scenes she turns to desperate and driven mad by her guilt and imaginings. We feel her pain.

Banquo, an elder statesman in the banking industry and non-executive director, is played by Ian Grant who brings a gravitas that is needed here. He is the perfect foil to Macbeth's slick city boy behaviour, and the handling of the ghost scenes after his death via video and high above the stage on the balcony were clever and well integrated.

All in all a great night out. Fine Shakespeare for £14 is an absolute bargain. If you've never been to The Cockpit Theatre it's actually a really nice, comfortable space with a great little bar - a cut above most fringe theatres especially in  London.

This Infinite Space Theatre production is only on for a limited run so make sure you don't miss it as it ends next Saturday 26th October - check out The Cockpit Theatre for tickets (£14) and let me know what you think...

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Kale stir fry with garlic

This stir fry is an easy and healthy side dish. Simple fry garlic in olive oil then add kale, mushrooms and mixed nuts - awesome!

The kale came from my garden - there is simply loads of it left and it seems to grow like a weed. Whenever I cut it more leaves grow back and it seems to grow just about anywhere. Can highly recommend planting some in your garden early next summer and you'll still be eating it in winter!

Garden patch still going strong with cabbages and kale

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Thursday, 10 October 2013

Christmas at Hogwarts

Great Hall, Hogwart's, set for Christmas
Let it snow, all over Hogwarts this season, at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, London - The Making of Harry Potter. This year the Hogwarts castle model will be covered with a blanket of snow. Well, it's actually dendritic salt which sounds like an ingredient from a Hogwarts spell but actually clumps just like real snow and even squeaks like snow when you walk on it and was used during filming.

For all Harry Potter fans who fancy a brilliant day out, some of the amazing sets will be given a festive makeover too using actual decorations and food props see in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. The Great Hall will be decorated with 8 Christmas trees, holly, mistletoe and golden wreaths alongside two long dining tables dressed for a feast.

You will also get to the see hand-knit sweaters made by Molly Weasley for Harry and Ron at Christmas in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Other costumes include Harry's first ever Christmas present, his Invisibility Cloak.

Hogwarts in the Snow runs from Friday November 15th 2130 until Monday January 6th 2014. 

For further information visit the Studio Tour website.

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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Lola's Cupcakes for Halloween

Yum – Halloween is not far off now and these beauties were delivered to the office to get us all in the mood. So thank you Lola’s Cupcakes!
These Spooky Specials come with either a gooey green caramel core or a blood red jam centre and are priced at £3. Available in vanilla (with green caramel) or chocolate (with jam) the Boo boxes come in regular or tiny size and are decorated in a wide range of ghostly and ghoulish outfits.  The tiny cupcakes start at £1.35 each and all are available in store or online from 21st October.

I tried the green gravestone but we all fell in love with the three-eyed monster and the ghost – which one’s your favourite?

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Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Always Infinity - ultimate protection

I really am at the point in life when I would like to just leave all that monthly nonsense behind. So many of my friends are menopausal or beyond and I must say I am just a little bit envious. Even though they tell me that my skin still looks good and I glow, as opposed to them, or so they tell me, I feel I've had it with struggling through my period each month.

I am pretty active on the whole, I am not going to have any more children (honestly I hope not!), so it all feels a bit redundant and just an interruption I can live without. I must admit I do sometimes have to drag myself to my exercise classes when I'm on as I not only have to deal with the flow but feel much more exhausted - so anything that can help out with that is greatly welcome.

So I am very keen to hear of anything that allows me to forget I have my period and just get on with things as usual, whether that be power walking at the weekend or attending one of my week-time exercise classes. Always Infinity is a great new product which has been developed for all women who want to just carry on, not only those like me who will be heartily happy when it all ceases!

So why are these Always Infinity towels so special? The clever people at Always reckon that this is the most innovative product to hit this market sector in 20 years as it uses Infinicel, which is new to the UK, and which is a liquid foam which absorbs liquid unlike other pads which use mainly fibres.

There are lots of things that the manufacturers claim about this product, like it absorbing 10x it's weight without you feeling it and that it doesn't bunch up like so many pads, so I decided to put it through it's paces by using it on day two of my period at an exhausting Zumba class.

Zumba is something I have been doing for a while but it is certainly not something that ever comes easy. Each class is progressive from the one before and there is so much jumping around and high-energy impact that I really wouldn't normally risk it when in full flow as it were. 

I certainly wouldn't trust a normal sanitary towel to a class during my worst day, but really wanted to fully put this through jumping, sweating, leg-kicking agony to see how it would measure up.

I do use pads on my heaviest day - even with internal protection. So going without the tampon I was slightly worried. My workout clothing is tight lycra so there was absolutely no room for accidents so I really did hope they lived up to their claims.

First things first. The fit - really well actually. I didn't really feel it was there after a while as it does mould to your body shape and stays put, which is quite a feat when you consider the amount of movement I was doing. It didn't bunch up or twist (unlike me).

The feel - well it is soft, no sharp corners digging in and no plastic coating which made it feel 'sweaty', sorry to be graphic but I do think some towels have this effect.

The absorbency - very impressive. I must say I wore it for a couple of hours all in and it took a pounding (as did I) and everything was fine with no leakage. 

Altogether pretty impressive on all fronts, what really surprised me was that I forgot I was wearing a pad - no really! Because it's soft, light and doesn't move, this was easily done. I will definitely be using them as part of my monthly routine as I felt they really have got something completely different with Always Infinity - anything else just won't feel as good!

Don't just take my word for it either - give them a try. I have a box to give away to a lucky reader so tell me your favourite form of exercise in my comments section and I will put your name into my free draw. Please make sure I can contact you by email though!

Sponsored post.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

HD Brows - perfect brows add instant glam

I met the lovely ladies at HD Brows recently and they gave me lots of tips for shading and shaping my brows. Brow shape can really update your look especially at the moment as brows are arched and statement. I didn't have time to take advantage of their semi-permanent eyebrow colouring but have had great fun playing with their eye palette.
The brows below were achieved using their High Definition Brows palette in Foxy. I am growing them in which might take a while after years of plucking, waxing and threading but I am determined to persevere!

Joan Crawford eat your heart out!

My daughter did, however, visit our local HD Brows trained beauty specialists at Champneys in Enfield where she had the semi-permanent shaping done - her brows looked amazing and yours could too so check out the website for your local HD Brows trained beautician. 

This video really gives you a great idea of what can be achieved...

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Saturday, 5 October 2013

Save the Blow Dry shower caps

I don't have a blow dry to my hair doesn't need saving from bathroom frizz in terms of keeping a style in order, however even with curly hair, frizz after a steamy shower can be a real nightmare. So the Save the Blow Dry shower cap made me smile and is so simply brilliant I don't know why someone hasn't thought of it before!

It's big to cover big hair. It has a flex grip to keep all hair underneath the cap and doesn't squash your style. If you are average in the blow-dry department you will be spending around 2 hours a week styling so you don't want to undo all that good work during your daily bath or shower.

It also looks pretty gorgeous but has an internal layer of super-absorbent micro-weave towelling. This acts by keeping condensation and humidity away from your hair-style. At £14.95 this makes a great Christmas pressie for the girl who has everything. To see where you can buy one check out the Save the Blow Dry site for the selected retail and salon partners or to order online.

Added to the fact that this product is something you never knew you needed but I am sure you will love you will also be helping to save lives when you purchase a shower cap. Save the Blow Dry have partnered with Khandel Light, an Indian based charity, and for every Save the Blow Dry cap sold through the website, the company will fund a fortnight's safe drinking water for a family in the desert region of Khandel, Rajasthan.

The families in this region are amongst the poorest in the world so by adding the shower cap to your Christmas list you will be doing a really good deed.

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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Keep your hair platinum with Decolour Colour Restore

I think I have found another product that will help me in my ever losing battle against grey hair. I have now resorted to having a blonde streak and highlights put into my hair about once every two months. This means that my white regrowth (which is becoming more and more apparent) is less obvious and I like to think that I am turning my ageing process into a positive as it is really quite distinctive. The only problem I have is that the blonde streak, which I have toned to be a lovely platinum) becomes yellow very quickly, and I can't keep going to the hairdressers just to get it toned.

So when I saw Decolour Colour Restore specifically for lifting platinum on the shelves at Boots I jumped for joy - no really I did! It's not cheap (around £11.99) but it does really lift out the yellow and return things to a purer platinum. You also only use a small amount so the £11.99 is not just for one treatment but can be used weekly. There are three techniques you can use depending on the depth of colour wanted - but even the most stringent only takes 25 minutes - 25 minutes well spent I say. There is also a version if your blonde has gone more ginger than platinum too. So all bases are covered. You simply shampoo and towel dry your hair then add the product - there isn't even a reason to condition either, hair is left feeling soft and shiny.

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