Friday, 31 January 2014

Two neutral shadow palettes from Clinique and Smashbox

Clinique Neutral Territory palette

It's all about neutrals for Spring/Summer 2014 makeup - from soft fawns to dark mink with a hint of sparkle you need to keep eyes and nails barely there.

I am a little in love with the Clinique palette above - it has a great range of colours and fits nicely into my bag so I can create a bolder look for out-of-office hours with just the one piece of kit. The choice of eight surprisingly rich colours also gives you scope for sculpting the perfect brow shapeClinique Neutral Territory palette, £32.
Smashbox Full Exposure collection

Secondly but by no means second is this scrummy palette from Smashbox which really adds some glam and glitz to a neutral collection. This generous box houses 14 gorgeous colours and although it isn't as portable as the Clinique palette, it really will be all you need this season to create the perfect eye - there are even tips on creating 6 different eye-shapes using the set. The specially designed double-ended brush will really help create the perfect eye and I found it really easy to create quite a lot of Smashbox drama with little effort. Smashbox Full Exposure collection, £36.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Kiss It Better - raising funds for 10 years!

Exclusive Lulu Guiness coin purse and Clinique varnish in Kiss It Better

Some starts to my day are really uplifting and today’s was one of those days as I have just come back from celebrating 10 years of the Kiss It Better campaign that raises funds for the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. Supported by Clinique and House of Fraser, the anniversary marks an amazing journey that has raised vital funds for research into the causes of and treatments for childhood cancers.

Kiss It Better is the brainchild of journalist and mother Carmel Allen whose daughter was treated for Neuroblastoma which is caused by problems in the development of nerve cells. JoJo is now a wonderfully well and growing child and the picture below tells us but there is still lots of work to be done!

To help swell the funds Clinque has brought out a limited edition A Different Nail Enamel for Sensitive Skins in a unique shade, Kiss It Better. 50% of the RRP will go directly to the Kiss It Better appeal.

They have also brought out, exclusively through House of Fraser stores, a very special offer that they will be donating £2 from every Clinique lip product sold on counters in the stores throughout February. £1 is coming from Clinique and £1 from House of Fraser.

To make the 10 years even more special Lulu Guiness has created two exclusive sets and 100% of the RRP will go straight to the charity. They are the limited edition Coin Purse and Clinque’s Chubby Stick  Moisturing Lip Colour Balm in Super Strawberry (RRP£55) sold exclusively at,  and an extra special limited edition Lulu Guiness signed bag with Clinique Chubby Sticks set (RRP £550) sold exclusively at

All these offers and special products are on sale throughout the month of February.

For further information about the Kiss It Better appeal and to find out how to donate visit

All pink and cheerful this morning at Great Ormond Street

Carmel and Jojo

Sunday, 26 January 2014

My amarylis is a blast of Spring

I potted this amarylis up two days after Christmas and put it on the windowsill in full light. They love lots of water and once they start growing there is no stopping them. Hope we will have a beautiful show-off bloom soon.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Home-made waffles with a little help from Lekue

Lekue is not a kitchen brand I had come across before but I do love a bit of shiny plastic in the kitchen so when they approached to chose something from the range I actually thanked them and asked for a microwavable pasta container. I didn't hear back and thought nothing of it, so imagine my surprise when a large box of all sorts of different things arrived from Spain!So here is the first of my trials of the product which are all available to buy online at Lekue!

The waffle set is made in really tough silicone and comes in two sheets which is enough to make 8 waffles. It also contained a pourer for sauces (home-made chocolate sauces anyone?).
I made up a simple sweet waffle batter from a recipe on the Lekue site. This is what I followed...

3 eggs, 410 ml milk, 240 g flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 2 tbsp sugar, ½ tsp salt, 110 g butter 


Melt the butter and mix it with the beaten eggs and the milk. Add the flour, 2 tbsp sugar, salt, and baking powder mixed together and stir well by hand using a whisk, until you have a smooth mixture. Place the moulds on the oven tray, pour the batter into 2 waffle moulds, and bake in the middle of the preheated oven at 220ÂșC for 8-9 minutes. Take out of the oven, de-mould the waffles on the oven tray and cook with the pattern side up for a further 4-5 minutes until they turn golden.

I don't think I have ever had home-made waffles before but I certainly will be making lots more! They are so simple and quick and have a much greater density than the shop bought one's. We ate these warm with ice-cream and creme fraiche and they all disappeared very quickly!
The silicone mould was easy to use, the waffles just popped right out and it washed up really easily too - highly recommended!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

How to blog - top ten tips from the Women in Journalism panel


The other evening I was honoured to be asked to sit on a Women in Journalism panel discussing blogging. We had a sell-out house and about 30 on the waiting list for tickets - so it's a hot topic with journalists and it was great to see that it wasn't all youngsters either, journalists who have been working for years also wanted to hear all about blogging. The session was all held together by journalist and author, Nina Bell. She does writing workshops, consultancy and her brilliant 'how to blog' is on Write to Promote - please follow her on @WriteToPromote. You can check out her novels at Nina Bell and follow @ninabellbooks. And it that wasn't enough she has a brilliant blog, The Middle Sized Garden.

I have got the most pertinent points (written by our host) from the discussion here and some really good stuff came out of the session so here you go!

TOP TIPS from WomeninJournalism’s ‘TO BLOG OR NOT TO BLOG?’ seminar

Six panellists, all with very different blogging backgrounds and approaches, and around 50 members of WiJ discussed how blogging can benefit journalists at Wiggin LLP’s Met Building.  They were:

* Political blogger Susie Boniface/‘Fleet Street Fox’ ( .

* Cross digital media expert, Debbie Djordjevic of Hand-Picked Media ( who specialises in social media campaigns.

* Family food blogger and YouTuber Claire Macdonald

* Writing and author blogger Joanna Penn (

* Editor of the Mumsnet Bloggers network Kate Williams (

* Blogging coach and garden blogger, Alexandra Campbell ( and

1)      Blogs are like journalism – you need to target your audience, go for a niche, and pitch to your reader as if you were pitching to an editor.

2)      Blogging is 10% creativity and 90% hard work – you can’t just write a great blog and hope people will find it. You have to find your ‘tribe’, actively market your blog on social media and engage with people who read it.

3)      Be generous. It’s about promoting other people, and they’ll promote you back. ‘I do a Skype interview about someone else’s work, put it on YouTube, turn it into a podcast and blog about it. Usually they’ll then promote it on their networks too – and everybody benefits’ says Joanna Penn. Use ‘linkies’ (have a list of other blogs you can recommend on your site, and they will reciprocate).

4)      Don’t give up the day job: Advertising only brings between 95 pence and £15 per thousand hits. Google Adsense is a programme that can pick up £60-£100 a month, if you’ve got enough readers. You can also earn money by sponsorship or affliliate links (if a reader clicks through to an affiliate company, such as Amazon, from your blog, you’ll earn a percentage of what they spend), but it’s difficult to earn enough to live off.

5)      But blogging is a great shop-window for your other work:  63% of pro-bloggers earn less than £2 a day but your blog showcases your consultancy, coaching and freelance work, and can get you book deals. ‘Because my blog is news-related, I’m often asked to write pieces based on my blog-posts,’ says Susie Boniface. Claire Macdonald has two book deals off her blog.

6)      Do give up the day job…’I did my blog part-time for three years, then gave up my job with consultants Accenture. But you have to be very professional about your approach. Set up your blog with proper SEO (Search Engine Optimisation or making it easy for search engines to find you), says Joanna Penn.

7)      Headlines are your secret weapons. You need to create a great headline to get people to want to read your blog, and you need to tweet good headlines, too. Images are very important too, especially on lifestyle blogs.

8)      Think about what your blog looks like, and include ‘calls to action’. These include ‘follow me on…’ ‘contact me…’ ‘read more…’

9)      The current best social media for marketing blogs is Twitter, Facebook, Google+ (Claire Macdonald has 32,000 followers on Google+), Pinterest for visually-orientated blogs, YouTube and LinkedIn, but you should also learn about Snapchat, as it’s growing fast among the young, and Instagram, the photo-sharing site which can also direct people to your blog.

10)  Let your personality and passion shine through, and remember that it’s a very egalitarian world. Traditional print media is usually written in the 3rd person, while blogging is generally in the first person. It needs personality, not just information. You need to engage with people, not just put your blog out there for them to read, as if it were a newspaper. People have a more intimate relationship with blogs, and comment far more than on print media. You should reply to them.

11)   Your bonus tip: You can get free and paid-for blog templates from Wordpress, Blogger, Tumblr and other companies, but the free ones have restrictions on what you can do with them. They’re not ‘yours’, and the company could take your blog down if they wanted to. If you buy your own blog name (eg rather than www.myfabblog.blogspot/wordpress etc) then you can take advertising, transfer it to another host and do what you want with it. It also looks more professional. The panel disagreed as to whether Blogger or Wordpress was a better choice – Wordpress is currently the market leader, but Blogger may be easier to use.

LAST, BUT NOT LEAST: Don’t worry about spammers and trolls – unless they’re pointing a gun at your head - which Susie Boniface has actually experienced. The panel suggested that this was much more likely in the world of political blogging than in the lifestyle sectors of gardens, beauty and interiors.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Healthy Me - I've got a Kenwood Smoothie maker

Not wanting to be the odd one out in the office and having provided them all with a summer's worth of Kale, I decided to add a Kenwood Smoothie 2Go to my collection of kitchen gadgets. Of course I will be in for some flack 'another gadget to gather dust?' or similar but this is a)small enough to easily be put away in a cupboard and b)just like my slow-cooker I know I will give it lots of love and attention. I ordered it from Amazon and I must say they delivered really quickly even though I'd only paid for second class delivery so I was super impressed with that too.

I have a book on juicing and smoothies for a healthy diet so that's a start, and I have a juicer so I am just about good to go....

What drew me to the Kenwood Smoothie 2Go? Well its dinky - too often blenders are just too big. Too big for a worksurface and too big to fill with fruit etc. And it comes with a cup for taking it away with you - in fact you fill the cup, click on the blades, turn it over and away you go - a brilliant smoothie!

Fruit smoothie with banana, Greek yoghurt, raspberries and mango

Friday, 17 January 2014

Beautiful new shoes from Ted Baker for Spring 2014

We all love a pair of heels for tripping the light fantastic in the Spring! These caught my eye because they are so perfect for dates or Spring weddings - in fact any event which needs a little va-va-voom!

These screech romance and the price ranges from £110 to £250 so are affordable. Team with everything from a little black dress for a romantic dinner to that show-stopper at your best mates wedding. 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Latest in Beauty Hip and Healthy beauty box

Latest in Beauty Hip & Healthy Beauty Discovery Box

I've never signed up for a beauty box (I suppose I should really as they do seem good value) but I have been reading recently about Hip & Healthy's box which they have produced for Latest in Beauty. I am a reader of Hip & Healthy magazine and I know this will have been really well-thought out - so if you are making an effort with diet and want to give a beauty box a go then maybe this is a good place to start....

The box is worth a cool £50 but costs just £9.95 plus £3.95 postage and here is some of what you'll find. Neom Organic Complete Bliss Hand Cream (50ml), Jax Coco 100% Pure Coconut Water (250ml), Together Health Multivitamin & Mineral Food Supplement (sachet - 7 capsules), Aduna Baobab Fruit Pulp Powder Sachet (4.5g), Teapigs Match Green Tea (2 teabags) and loads more...

Order now at Latest in Beauty.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Cook - amazing new frozen food shop in North London

Last year we all piled over for a girl's evening with a friend in Surrey. She served up a delicious meal which included a simply delicious chocolate pudding which she admits was not made by her but by a shop called Cook nearby. I was impressed. Ready-meals never really deliver anything like the picture on the box and frozen ready-meals are even worse (in my opinion) so this was a bit of a revelation. I was jealous. Not jealous enough to move to Surrey but jealous enough to keep my eye out for something similar more local to me here in North London.

So I was thrilled to see a Cook open in Muswell Hill and managed to persuade the man to swing by there on our walk this weekend. Now this wasn't just up the road as Muswell Hill is a good 3 miles away but we made it (the sun was shining) which resulted in a fantastic Chicken Tikka Masala cooked from frozen in the microwave in a few minutes.

The difference between Cook frozen meals and others is that they are prepared in their kitchens in Kent and really cook as we all do at home - although in my case when it comes to a good curry, better. And another thing they have proper portions! This was for two people and there was easily 2 chicken breasts cut up in the delicious sauce. There are plenty of single meal options and a lot of these are flagged as under 400 calories - so that New Year diet is easy to follow and if you have a microwave at work then under a fiver for lunch is near dammit perfect!

Check out Cook online - you never know they may deliver to your area. I was impressed - I think you will be too!

This is what Cook have to say...

At COOK we make remarkable food for your freezer, prepared by hand at our Kitchen in Kent, using the same ingredients and techniques you would use at home.

  • On every COOK dish you'll find the name of the chef who prepared your food.
  • Our food looks and tastes homemade (maybe even a bit better!)
  • Our founding principle in 1997 was to COOK like you do at home - that's how we shop for ingredients too. 

Friday, 10 January 2014

Little orange dress brings back a zest for Spring (see what I did there...)

I love Cos and I love orange so this dress is just about near on perfect for me. And I'm shorter than the model is bound to be so it won't sit quite so high on my thigh. This Cos dress will see me from meeting to drinks easily and will cover up all my bits that need covering. SOLD!

Cos A-line dress, £69.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Beauty News - Bee Yummy Skin Food now available in UK

Being a bit of a bee fanatic (Deborah means a bee and I have a bee tattoo – but of course!) I also like anything that comes from natures little miracle workers, Bees. So I was interested to read about a new moisturiser, Bee Yummy Skin Food (£29), which is super-hydrating and made from totally raw ingredients including honey!

Apparently Georgia Jagger is a fan and now we can all get our hands on some too via the A Beautiful World website. This site is a socially activated e-commerce site where they’ve sourced the world for really great products that reflect the latest developments in organic and natural beauty technologies. They also have expert tutorials and you can recommend your own global beauty finds so it’s well worth a visit anyway.

Back to Bee Yummy Skin Food – here’s what they say about it!

How it works
This 'live' and ‘so pure you could eat it’, hand-made, cult product feeds your skin with a tremendous number of nutrients as it moisturises, repairs and refines. This 'food for skin' can be used as a moisturiser, or rejuvenative cream and can be used as a hydrating night cream. 

What’s inside?







I haven't tried it out yet but am adding it to my list for this year as it sounds just right for skin that needs a little extra TLC.

Monday, 6 January 2014

I love new bedlinen! Christy bedlinen product review

I am a fan of Christy having bought their towels on numerous occasions over the years. They are always great quality, don't stint on the all important thread count and come in a great selection of colours. They contacted me as they liked my blog and thought I would love their bedlinen! So after having spent a wet and wintery day taking down the Christmas decorations it was a delightful surprise to get the delivery of new bedlinen! 

I had been through their ranges on-line and chosen Shadow Rose - as you can see the wallpaper in my loft bedroom has a strong pattern so I wanted something fairly neutral but with a pattern for interest. Shadow Rose was perfect and I was surprised to see that the subtle pattern allows the linen effect to show but is almost three dimensional - a bit like an embossed velvet - in look anyway. 

I gave it a wash and dry - quick and easy before ironing. Ironing king-sized duvets is not my forte but this is incredibly easy to iron (the size is my fault not the manufacturers after all) so forgive any fold lines (it was in the laundry basket for a day) - again my fault not anything to do with the duvet!

I was a bit concerned that the pattern would be at odds with the wallpaper but I need not have worried. This subtle 'self' pattern would suit a whole range of styles and colours as it is neutral with a bit of interest.

Most of all it has to be soft. Too often linen needs way too many washes before it is soft and comfortable but here, again, Christy come up trumps. Even before washing the fabric is soft to the touch and not at all stiff - that also applies to the plain underside.

All-in-all I love my new bedlinen! Fresh bedlinen is an absolute treat especially when the rain is pounding on the loft roof at night. I am tempted by the other ranges too for my spare bedroom as there is such a good range - there definitely is something, as I say, for every home from ultra-modern to country chic.

Shadow Rose duvet from Christy, available in double, king and super-king size, prices start at £139. Matching pillow cases from £25 per pair. 

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Bean, fennel and meatball stew recipe

Will it ever stop raining do you think? Everything is soggy and the damp gets right into your bones so now is the time to cheer everyone up with heartwarming soups and stews. Here is one of my favourite recipes which has so many vegetables in it you don't need to serve it with anything other than crusty bread.

Ingredients (easily feeds 4 people)

Onion, red pepper, fennel bulb, 2 tins chopped tomatoes, 2 large carrots, 2 chorizo sausages, 700g minced pork, fennel seeds, olive oil, 4 cloves of garlic, glass of red wine, 2 tins of haricot beans or similar.

First to make your tomato/vegetable sauce.

Fry the sliced onion and garlic in olive oil then add the other vegetables to fry until soft but not browned. Add the tinned tomatoes and the glass of red wine along with the fennel seeds. Add a sprinkle of sugar to stop the tomatoes being too bitter and fry the sliced chorizo then add to the pot. Allow to simmer for 45 minutes.

Then your meatballs.

Roll the minced pork into meatballs - 
you can add breadcrumbs to make meat go further but I prefer mine with just the meat and nothing else. In a separate fryingpan fry them until golden on all sides then add to the top of the veg sauce pushing them under slightly. Bake in a moderate oven for around 45 minutes  and 15 mins before the end stir in the tins of beans.. Serve with bread and/or a green salad - delicious.

Fry up your chopped vegetables
Add everything into the pot
A heartwarming and filling winter meal

Thursday, 2 January 2014

STOP PRESS - storage for your Christmas Decorations...

If you live within the M25 and you need extra storage LOVESPACE are offering storage of Christmas decorations and disposal of real Christmas trees which really helps with the hassle of the big clear-up.

The service costs £29.95 for the year which includes collection and delivery  and they will store your artificial tree too.

You do need to be quick as customers who sign up for LOVESPACE’s Christmas tree and decorations storage service, (which is available between 26th December and 10th January using the Promo Code: XMASTREE1 for storage only or XMASTREE2 for storage and tree disposal).

  • Visit LOVESPACE to sign up for the service.
*The Christmas tree storage & disposal service is only available to customers living in London (within the M25). Collection can be booked on the following dates: 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th, 8th & 9th January. 

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