Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Midweek Manicure // GELLED LED Nail Kit

I've always been intrigued by gel nails and their beautifully shiny finish and promise to last a good couple of weeks without showing any chips or sign of wear. I've never treated myself and gone to get them done however as it's always seemed like a luxury which my poor bank balance could really do without indulging in. So when I was contacted by High Street TV to ask if I'd like to try the GELLED LED Nail Kit* which allows you to do your own gel nails at home I couldn't wait to give it a try. Could this be the answer to beautiful gelled nails on a budget?!

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The GELLED manicure kit is a one step system for easy gel manicures, with no need for base and top coats - meaning less fuss and speedier results. The kit comes with everything you need to get you going - a nail buffer, two gel polishes - in the shades Party Red and Nearly Nude - an orange stick and some foils for removing your polish, and of course the all important LED lamp, which I was surprised to see is USB powered so is really portable and light.

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I couldn't wait to get started and followed the instructions, beginning my manicure by ensuring I had clean bare nails and buffed them using the soft side of the included nail buffer to give a nice smooth surface. I then plugged my LED light into my laptop, painted on a thin layer of Nearly Nude and cured it under the light for 60 seconds. A couple of my nails were still slightly tacky where I'd painted unevenly so I popped them under for a second time until completely set. I then painted a second light coat and re-cured until this layer was completely dry.

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I was so thrilled with the results! Not only did my nails look amazingly glossy and smooth but they also felt really strong and healthy. I have really weak nails that flake and break very easily, so it was amazing to have them feel really structured and set. Hurrah! Nearly Nude is an absolutely stunning shade - perfect for every occasion! It's slightly mauve tinted so looks really sophisticated and I got so many compliments whilst wearing it. 

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Party Red is also gorgeous. I don't tend to wear red nails often as I feel it doesn't really suit me - I'm much more campy than vampy - but loved how this looked! It is a beautifully raspberry toned red which looks incredibly glossy and really eye catching. I can't wait to wear this at Christmas!

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So how did the GELLED LED nails last? 


I was really impressed! I had a couple of nails which sadly bubbled and peeled off very quickly, but this was definitely down to me not curing them properly and layering the polish too thick. Make sure you use thin layers and get all the edges locked in guys! Once I got the hang of the curing, my nails lasted pretty well. Certainly the nails that I did set right lasted really well, and much longer than my regular nail polishes.

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I actually found the polishes clung and lasted a little two well - they were so hard to remove! I followed the instructions of using the rough buffer to remove the top layer and shine off the polish and then soaked and wrapped the foil removal pads around my nails for 10 minutes, but still the polish didn't really budge. In the end I had to use the harsh buffer and a lot of rubbing with nail polish to remove it. Sadly this undid all feelings of strength which the kit had given my nails whilst the polish was in place, and my nails were left very weak and bendy, and actually quite sensitive in some places where I really had to scrub at the polish. Sad face! As I said my nails are very weak usually though so whether someone with healthier nails would suffers the same way I'm not sure.

The difficulty to remove the polish hasn't put me off using the GELLED LED Nail Kit  however, as the finish is so pretty. I'm going to pick up some acetone based nail polish which I think will likely help the removal process and I will also make sure I give my nails a good few days without polish to recover and re strengthen once the gels have been removed. 


I'm really pleased with my first foray into gel nails and think the GELLED LED Nail Kit is fantastic for those on a budget or don't have much time to go and get gels done professionally. It would also make an awesome Christmas gift! The kit includes everything you need, is really quick and easy to use, and both colours included are very pretty and wearable. The kit can be bought at Highstreettv.com for £39.95, which is really affordable. You can buy extra colours too. I've got my eye on the white polish, which is my favourite colour to wear in the summer, and the Pop Pop Neon multi pack, which look really bright and fun. 


Have you tried any at home gel nail kits before?


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*Thanks so much to High Street TV for inviting me to try out their GELLED LED Nail Kit. All thoughts are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page.


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Lifestyle // Dinner at Shake Shack Covent Garden

In recent years London, and the rest of the UK, has gone burger crazy. Burger bars have popped up left right and centre, and American phenomenon Shake Shack* has even opened up two branches on our fair shores. Probably the only person in London who hadn't yet been to experience their amazingly renown burgers I headed down to their flagship restaurant in Covent Garden to try their 100% Aberdeen Angus beef cheeseburgers for myself (as well as their mushroom burger, hot dog, fries, drinks and multiple desserts.....!)

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Shake Shack Covent Garden is situated within the Market Hall pavilion which I absolutely love, as not only is the architecture incredibly picturesque, but you also get to soak up Covent Garden's famous fun and energetic atmosphere and the people watching opportunities are endless. Shake Shack is effectively a fast food restaurant, whereby you order and pay for your food which is then freshly made to order and collected up at the counter before picking a table at the ample designated seating area or taking your food to go. We grabbed a table in the Shake Shack outside section, wanting to enjoy the surrounds whilst we ate, though there is also an inside seating area too which offers a bit more shelter from the chilly British weather. 

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After pouring over the menu for ages and oohing and aahing at each option we finally decided to take the advice of Gordy, the really lovely manager, and ordered the ShackBurger, Shack Stack, Shack-cago Dog, Fries with cheese sauce on the side, and a Sprite and Original Shack-made Lemonade to wash it all down. This little piggie went to Shake Shack! 

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The double ShackBurger was one of the nicest burgers I've ever had - really tender meat, packed with delicious melting cheese and proper salad - none of those wilted ratty bits of lettuce here - and topped with the signature ShackSauce.

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Even better than the ShackBurger for me though was the Shack Stack, which I will be eternally thankful to Gordy for suggesting as I don't think I would have ordered it otherwise. It was absolutely amazing! Bringing together the ShackBurger and the 'ShroomBurger, the Shack Stack comprises of a classic cheeseburger, lettuce, tomato and a crisp fried portobello mushroom filled with melted cheese, which of course was finished off with the ShackSauce. Often when I've had a portobello mushroom burger I've been a bit disappointed with little flavour and an off putting texture. Not this time friends! The crisp bread crumb coating perfectly complemented the juicy burger patty and the flavours all worked together so so wellOh em actual gee! Thank you burger gods! I will definitely order this again and beg you to run to Shake Shack right now to experience it for yourself. YUM! And as one patty is mushroom based, it totally makes it a healthy, right?!

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Another menu choice I wouldn't necessarily have made without Gordy's encouragement was the Shack-cago Dog. Being more of a burger fan I would usually have glided over the Flat Top Dogs section of the menu. However my good friend Gluttony got the better of me and we devoured the hot dog too! An authentic German all-beef sausage, piled high with Rick's Picks Shack relish, onion, cucumber, pickle, tomato, sport pepper, celery salt and mustard, it wasn't the easiest thing to eat, but we powered through, obvs. It was super tasty and the crisp vegetables added a really nice dimension of texture with the soft bun and juicy meat.


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I'd heard so much praise for Shake Shack's crinkle cut fries, so couldn't wait to give these a go and as expected they were really nice and not too greasy like you often find. Due to choosing three main courses (oink oink) we'd decided to share one portion - definitely the right decision, it was a generous size - and also go for regular rather than the Cheese Fries. Desperate to have a Regina George moment however we did order some cheese sauce to dip the chips into, which was really rich and a cheese lovers dream!

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Now you'd think that we'd just eaten so much we'd be about to go POP and would never have enough room for a dessert. And you'd be right... Until Gordy explained what a Concrete was...! Like any good burger joint, Shake Shack offers a mean line of milkshakes. Unlike other burger restaurants, Shake Shack makes it's shakes out of frozen custard, which has egg yolk added to make it super smooth and creamy. Each month Shake Shack offers a different range of speciality custards, and whilst we were there they were serving a Smores flavour. Ever since working at an American Summer Camp, I've been obsessed with anything Smores flavoured and my Shake Shack cup did not disappoint, The chocolate frozen custard was swirled with marshmallow sauce and topped with delicious sweet cracker crumbs which was such a nice end to my meal, and wasn't too sweet or heavy.

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Tony decided to go hard before going home, and chose to finish his dinner off with the Union Shack Concrete - denser chocolate flavoured custard, blended at a high speed with St JOHN Bakery chocolate hazelnut brownie, fudge sauce, chocolate chunks and sea salt. Woah nelly it was a game changer! I'm not sure any other ice cream style dessert will ever top it! I'm actually quite nervous to go anywhere near Covent Garden in future as I'm not sure I'll ever be able to resist buying one of these! The double size portion was served in the same size container as our drinks - so is pretty big - but the relaxed dining style at Shake Shack means you can take it away with you as you roll home!

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I was so impressed by Shake Shack and will definitely be returning soon. It's a great place to grab a burger at any time, but is particularly well placed in Covent Garden where many people who pass through want to eat delicious, high quality and well made burgers without the time pressures of a regular sit down restaurant. The menu is so diverse, there really is something for everyone - and even the pickiest of pickers can create their own combinations of practically every section of the menu. Just promise me, next time you go you'll try the Shack Stack and a Union Shack Concrete - LIFE CHANGING!


Have you been to Shake Shack before? 

What's your favourite thing on the menu?


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*Thanks so much to Shake Shack for inviting us down to try out their amazing menu on the house. All thoughts are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Lifestyle // Celebrating Chocolate Week at Fish Market

Happy Chocolate Week everyone! Yep that's a thing (12th - 18th October) and yep I am making the most of it by eating as much chocolate as I can! Many restaurants are getting involved too by offering extra special chocolate delights to celebrate. One such restaurant is Fish Market* who have collaborated with superfood chocolate producers Doisy and Dam to create a delicious limited edition maca, cacao and vanilla chocolate pot.  Superfood means it's healthy...right?!

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I'd never been to Fish Market before and very rarely venture out to the Liverpool Street area of London, but I will definitely be heading back soon after the lovely evening my boyfriend and I spent there last Saturday. Despite being just opposite  Liverpool Street Station, Fish Market is housed down a quiet little street with a picturesque courtyard dining area as well as the main glass fronted restaurant. We decided to eat inside and eagerly headed in and sat by the windows so we could look out at the diners below whilst enjoying the warmth and ambience of the restaurant. I loved the decor - a mix of quaint beach side restaurant with East London chic. It really reminded Tony and I of the gorgeous harbour side restaurants we'd been to in Fethiye, Turkey the year before. 

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The menu is really large and diverse with all sorts of fish options available (as you'd expect from a restaurant called Fish Market!) but they also had some gorgeous sounding vegetarian and meat dishes too. We were absolutely ravenous when we arrived and quickly ordered the Salt and Pepper Squid with Roast Garlic and Chilli and Boat Sole Goujons whilst munching on some sour dough bread and butter.

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Squid is one of our favourite dishes and one we are guaranteed to order if it's ever on the menu anywhere, and Fish Market's offering was absolutely delicious. Served on wooden board, and garnished with browned flakes of garlic, fresh chilli and spring onions, the squid looked and tasted very fresh, despite being coated in a light crumb which tasted almost southern fried with a light spice running through it. Despite being fried it was very light and delicate and I could have eaten about 5 more platefuls! YUM!

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The Sole Goujons were also delicious and  were packed full with beautifully white, flaky yet meaty fish. The crumb was delicate and had a lovely crunch too it and was served with the most delicious homemade tartare sauce I've ever had. 

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For my main course I ordered the Smoked Haddock Fishcake which came on a bed of wilted baby spinach, with a poached egg and grain mustard sauce. It was absolutely huge and so filling, wonderfully packed with haddock and potato. The poached egg on top was cooked perfectly and complemented the smoky flavours of the fish beautifully. The mustard sauce was also really nice and despite being quite subtle added another depth of flavour to the dish. I certainly didn't need the side of sweet potato mash with chilli and coriander but of course ate most of it as it was so tasty! Three of my favourite foods mashed together with butter - how could I resist!

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Tony really fancyed a steak and was so pleased to find one on the menu, and ordered the 350g Belted Galloway Rib Eye Steak with Fries and Bernaise Sauce. Again it was a huge serving and was actually one of the nicest steaks I've had - beautifully tender and with a delicious grilled taste. Not usually a fan of Bernaise sauce I also couldn't resist pinching some (along with fries to dip into it of course!) Fish Market isn't just a one trick fish pony, but offers something for everyone and does it well - even a huge juicy steak if you fancy that rather than a delicate fish dish! 

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It was soon time for the much anticipated chocolate pot. Oh my goodness it was worth the wait! I was really surprised (and delighted) by how big it was - I was expecting a modest little sweet treat but the chocolate pot came in a really generous sized mason jar and was served with two delicate shortbread biscuits. The dark chocolate with its crunchy nibs was beautifully rich without being too much and the vanilla kept it nice and sweet and not too bitter. In the words of Mary Berry - absolute perfection! Happy Chocolate Week indeed! 

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We then headed next door to Old Bengal Bar* to round the evening off with some cocktails. Like Fish Market, Old Bengal Bar has a pretty outside area as well as an internal bar, and we sat on comfy sofa seating underneath the outdoor heater umbrellas, which again made us feel like we were on holiday. Lovely!  After perusing the menu (which had some amazing quotes in it) we decided on our drinks. Staying true to my inner Pat Butcher I went for the gin based 1605 - Tanqueray London Dry, Gentiane Chartreuse, Luxardo Maraschino, Lemon and Peppermint Bitters. It came in a classic martini glass with floating lime and mint and looked so pretty. Tony (a secret lover of flamboyant cocktails - just don't tell his mates) went for the If You Like Banana-Colada which included Abuelo 7yr Rum, Green Chartreuse, coconut cream, banana, pineapple and banana crisps, and to my delight arrived in a coconut shell glass! ("Dont laugh, there's a whole table of guys in there drinking these!") They both looked great and really packed a punch. The perfect aperitifs!


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We really enjoyed our trip to Fish Market and Old Bengal Bar. The food was incredible, drinks delicious and both had such a lovely ambience - we were taken by surprise as we went back to the hustle and bustle of the main road and realised we were in the middle of London and not on a relaxing and decadent holiday! We'll definitely be back soon to try the Seafood Platter which looked amazing and includes the Sole Goujons, Squid and a selection of fresh shellfish, presented on pretty clam shells! If we can get back before the end of Chocolate Week to have another limited edition Chocolate Pot then even better! 


Are you doing anything special for Chocolate Week?



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*Thanks so much to Fish Market and Old Bengal Bar for inviting us for dinner and drinks. All thoughts are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page.

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