Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Beauty // OGX Fight Fallout + Niacin3 & Caffeine Shampoo & Conditioner

I've posted a couple of times before about my love of OGX products (read about the Coconut Water range here and Argan Oil Of Morocco range here). Their shampoos and conditioners are the best on the high street in my opinion - such amazing value and they bring salon quality right to your bathroom. It's no secret that my hair is super fine and thin, and I am always after products which will help keep it looking strong and healthy, and prevent my precious few hairs from breaking or falling out. So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered the newest OGX range aims to help do just that! I couldn't wait to get my mitts on the Fight Fallout + Niacin3 & Caffeine Shampoo and Conditioner and see how it could help my limp locks.

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The OGX Fight Fallout + Niacin3 & Caffeine range is designed to create an optimum environment for strong hair to grow by exfoliating the scalp to remove impurities and help to fortify strands. Just what I need! The key ingredients are:
    Alpha Hydroxy Acid (which has scalp exfoliating properties)
    Niacin & Caffeine (known to stimulate blood circulation) 
    Saw Palmetto (a natural DHT blocker, the hormone that causes baldness) 
And just like the rest of the OGX range, you won't find any nasty parabens or SLS in these babies - perfect for sensitive skinned babes like me.

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I've loved using the Fight Fallout + Niacin3 & Caffeine Shampoo and Conditioner (£6.99 each) and find them really invigorating to use in the shower - perfect for putting a spring in my step in the mornings. They make my scalp feel nice and tingly - I LOVE this sensation - you can practically feel it cleaning your hair and giving it a good treatment. The scent is also quite invigorating and reminds me of tea tree. It smells much more medicinal than the other OGX ranges I've used but it's not at all unpleasant, but if you prefer your hair products to be sweetly fragranced then these ones might not be for you.

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The Fight Fallout + Niacin3 & Caffeine Shampoo and Conditioner have made my hair feel really strong and look very healthy and shiny. It desperately needs a cut at the moment but always looks in good condition after using these products. Being so fine, my hair needs all the volume it can get, particularly around the scalp, and I definitely notice it's has a good boost when I've used this shampoo and conditioner. There is also a Root Stimulator Spray in the range which I'm going to buy soon as I think this will be a great way to add even more strength directly to my roots and help naturally plump up my hair. I can find some root sprays too heavy for my thin hair and leave it looking greasy, but the shampoo and conditioner don't add any weight to my locks so I've high hopes for the spray too! I'll keep you posted!


Have you tried any OGX products? 

Which range is your favourite?


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Sunday, 29 May 2016

Lifestyle // Girls Weekend in Broadstairs

Every year my four bestest buds from school and I like to go for a weekend by the sea to escape from London life and have some good clean wholesome fun! This year we decided to head to Broadstairs in Kent and had a right jolly time so I thought I'd share some of the fun with you here. (We look pretty wintery  here - this weekend away was actually in March, I'm a bit delayed in posting. Soz and that).

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Broadstairs is a really beautiful seaside town on the Kent coastline, not far from Canterbury and Margate. It only takes an hour and a half train journey from central London so is super convenient and relatively cheap for a day trip or little getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. It's got beautiful sandy beaches, a quaint town filled with lots of cute little shops and restaurants (including a hilariously named cafe called Peens!) and is famous for previously being home to Charles Dickens. There's heaps of bed and breakfasts and guest houses in the area, as well as many holiday homes for hire, which is what we went for. Our holiday house was gorgeous - really modern and a bit of a bloggers dream, with lots of neutral whites and greys, real wooden floors and plenty of industrial meets beach chic furniture. There were two living rooms, two bathrooms, a dining room, fully equipped kitchen and it was literally two minutes walk to the beach and 10 minutes from the train station - I would definitely recommend a stay here if you're after accommodation.

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Jen and I decided to head down early Friday afternoon to make the most of our weekend and the uncharacteristically sunny March weather! After dropping our bags at the house, we headeddown the road to the beach. Jen's recently moved to Cambridge so it was really lovely to spend a couple of hours walking along the sand chatting and catching up on each other's news. We stopped and sat for a while too, enjoying watching the many many cute dogs which were loving life running around the beach. We got a bit too carried away with our catch up and realised fairly late that the beach had emptied and the sea was coming in fast, so we got quite wet feet splashing back through the areas of the beach which had already been swallowed up by the sea! Spot the City Girls! We headed back to the house ready to welcome Gemma, Lauren and Charlie, cracked open the prosecco, got some pizzas in the oven and settled down for a night of girlie gossip, Cards Against Humanity, Bananagrams and an amazing soundtrack of 90s tunes! All Saints 5eva!

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broadstairs-kent-uk-travel-lifestyle-cheap-weekend-away-london
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On Saturday morning we got up and dressed, bandied together to make a cooked breakfast and then headed out the door for a coastal walk. We headed back down to Viking Bay where Jen and I had been the day before, but this time walked left along the coast. Sadly the weather was a lot more overcast than the day before but it was still a beautiful view looking out across the sea. I find wind farms absolutely mesmerising and really beautiful so I loved seeing the one just off the coastline. We walked all the way down to Kingsgate Bay and strolled over to the picturesque arch, messing around and fulfilling our tradition of taking "album cover" photos - we're just too cool! After a couple of beers in a clifftop pub (The Captain Digby) we headed back into Broadstairs and explored the quaint little town and stopped for tea and cake at the Bessie's Tea Parlour. It was as cute and kitsch as you'd imagine inside and my coffee cake was absolutely amazing - so rich and decadent!

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Over the road we found an amazing ex-church-turned-second-hand-bookshop-cum-pub and stopped for a few gins and locally brewed cider whilst flicking through some of the amazing (and often hilarious) books that lined the shelves. I definitely recommend heading into The Chapel if you're ever in Broadstairs - it's really unique and you could easily spend and entire day in here sampling the huge array of flavoured ciders and leafing through the book shelves. We then headed back to the house and Charlie made us the most incredible nachos to accompany our cards and poker games.

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As no one was coming to stay at the house immediately after us the owner said we could have a late check out until 3pm on Sunday so we cleaned everything up ready to go and then headed back down to the beach for another walk. The sun was out again and it was a beautiful walk down the promenade. After working up an appetite we decided there was only one thing we wanted to eat by the sea side - traditional fish and chips YUM! We stumbled across Star of the Sea which was actually voted "Best Chips in the UK" by the Potato Council. Yep, the Potato Council is a real thing. (I've already checked - there's currently no jobs going spare for chip taste testers). The food was delicious - really tasty chunky chips - light and fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside, and the fish was pre skinned as well as deboned before being battered which made it so much easier to eat with a little wooden chip fork. (And as Jen said meant you could eat more batter!) it was really fresh and rich and not at all oily NOM!

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Feeling pretty full, we decided to work off some of that mammoth lunch and go for a round of mini golf! The course was really cute and overlooking the sea so we got lovely views when not in hysterics watching how bad we all were. Lauren (who apparently had her own set of clubs as a child and was talking a big game before we started) had us in fits of laughter as she tried to get her ball through the windmill six times before eventually smacking it so hard it almost smashed through the wood and out the other side! 

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broadstairs-kent-uk-travel-lifestyle-cheap-weekend-away-london

We then went for one last stroll back down the beach on our way to pick up our bags and stopped off at Morelli's ice cream parlour. The decor was so retro it was a bit like going back in time! They had a huge selection of homemade ice cream (Ferrero Roche flavour anyone?!) and is well worth a visit even if you don't actually pick up a cone (though you most definitely should - it was amazing, and the perfect final treat of our weekend).

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I had such a great time exploring Broadstairs. It's such a fantastic place to visit, especially for those looking for a little break from London that isn't too far away or too expensive. It's got everything you need for a typical British beach holiday - beautiful coastline, quaint  town with many an antique treasure trove, fabulous fish and chips and of course - delicious rich ice cream! I think it looked pretty stunning with rain and overcast skies so even the classic British weather shouldn't put you off a visit!


Where else would you suggest for a good day trip / weekend away from London? 


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Thursday, 19 May 2016

Lifestyle // Japanese Dinner and Drinks at Yumi Izakaya

If I'm choosing where to go out for dinner, nine times out of 10 I'll pick Asian cuisine - it's just so delicious and there's always something for everyone. I also have a very low attention span, so the really like Japanese food as often you get to eat lots of little delicious treats, rather than one large dish. I was recently invited to come down to Yumi Izakaya*, a new Japanese restaurant in Soho to sample the best of their sharing dishes and cocktails. BRING IT ON!

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Yumi Izakaya's menu is fairly small and simple, which is great for indecisive peeps like me, but there's still enough choice that there's something for all appetites and tastes, with a selection of small sharing plates, larger dishes and a selection of chicken skewers and bacon wrapped treats on offer. YAS! They also have a mean cocktail menu and they were more than happy to create some tasty mocktails for my friend Rachelle too.

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We kick started our meal with a plate of edamame beans with soy, mirin and salt as I sipped a smooth and rich French Martini and Rach enjoyed a specially made non alcoholic cocktail based on a Gin Bramble, after saying she fancied something refreshing and not too fruity. All the staff were so friendly and we were really impressed with how happy they were to accommodate our needs and create something special for us. The bar tender was obviously really passionate about mixology and seemed as thrilled as Rachelle that he'd whipped up a bespoke drink she liked so much. I also later had a Gin Bramble which was amazing - so refreshing and just strong enough to have a kick but with the flavour of the blackberry shining through to take the edge off.

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We then shared a selection of small plates which were just as tasty as our drinks! The Chilli Fried Cauliflower was amazing - covered in a chilli, yuzu and gochujang marinade which was so flavoursome as well as being spicy. The citrus flavour of the yuzu really lifted the heat of the chilli and gochujang and the cauliflower was fried raw so it had an amazing crunchy texture. I literally could have eaten about five more plates full!

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We also had some Braised Aubergine which was INCREDIBLE! Cooked in sake, mirin and soy it was so savoury with wonderful layers of flavour. The aubergine was cooked perfectly - nice and firm, not at all mushy. YUM!

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Our final vegetarian small plate was Sweetcorn Tempura which were sweetcorn fritters seasoned with salt and chilli. YUM! These were so flavoursome and I think were my overall favourite - they were SO MOREISH!

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I'm a huge fan of dumplings and could eat them for pretty much every single meal! The Pork and Ginger Tsukimi were lovely - very fresh tasting and a really good size for popping into your mouth whole! (Haha anyone else find dim sum tricky to eat if it needs a few bites?!)

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We were then treated to a platter of chicken skewers - Breast, Thigh, Liver and Heart. Neither Rachelle or I are massive fans of offal and had never tried heart before but were feeling very brave! It wasn't my favourite - the texture was a little too chewy for me, and a little voice kept screaming HEART HEART HEART in my head which was a bit of a turn off! I definitely didn't like the liver, as again I was very aware that I was eating a teeny tiny chicken organ and the texture was very mushy which isn't to my taste, but the thigh and breast were very tasty.

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We were also given some lovely little chicken wings seasoned with salt and traditional Japanese spice mix shichimi, and a chicken meatball served with a raw egg and tare dipping sauce, which were nice but not quite as special as the vegetable dishes.

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yumi-izakaya-japanese-restaurant-soho-london-dinner-cocktails-shaftesbury-avenue-restaurant-review

We were also bought out a Larger Dish - the Okonomiyaki Osaka Style (a thick Japanese pancake, with cabbage, eggs, pancetta and Okonomiyaki Sauce) I really enjoyed this as it had such a depth of textures to it, and tasted so fresh. It was also very filling and you could totally have one of these as a main meal on its own.

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Feeling like I was going to burst, I had a glass of Rihaku Dreamy Cloud Sake to finish off my meal, which I loved (and how cool is that name?!) I'd never tried it before as always assumed it was extremely strong and alcoholic with a bitter taste (a bit like drinking straight whisky!) I was blown away however to find that although pretty alcoholic, it was super suppable and actually quite sweet. I could have drunk about 5 glasses! Yumi Izakaya has several different sakes on their menu so I definitely want to make my way through them next time I go back!

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We had such a lovely evening at Yumi Izakaya. The staff were all so friendly and passionate about the food - and rightly so, it was amazing! I would definitely go for all the vegetarian small dishes again, which is so rare for me - I usually always choose a meat dish. They were just so tasty and filling and were definitely the most flavoursome items on the menu. The drinks were also incredible and I think this would be a really fun place to go for after work drinks and nibbles if you're not feeling a whole dinner. Thanks for having us guys, we'll definitely be back again soon!


Where are your favourite Japanese restaurants in London?


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*Thanks so much to Yumi Izakaya for inviting us to come and dine for free. All thoughts are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Favourites // April 2016

Bloody hell April dragged on didn't it?! I feel like any month with five weekends before payday is a long old stretch so I was very thankful when May rolled around! I also spent the whole month looking forward to two holidays in May - a week in Chicago (which I've just come back from - INCREDIBLE - more on that to come) and a girls weekend at Centre Parcs - wahoo! Despite counting down the days, I had a really fun April, with bridesmaid dress shopping and hen do planning for my best friend's wedding in December, being asked to be another best friend's bridesmaid for next year and celebrating lots of friends birthdays! Busy times! I may or may not have also done lots of shopping for my holidays....! However I had time to find lots of new favourites, including three new beauty bits, an awesome crime thriller book, the cutest sunglasses case and some tasty treats.... 

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Seventeen Skin Wow Concealer

My first favourite is the Seventeen Skin Wow Concealer which launched at the beginning of the month as a low cost dupe for YSL Touche Eclat (just £4.99!). I adore Seventeen make up as its one of the few brands I trust that (*touch wood*) I won't be allergic to. It's also always great quality and super affordable. It took me so long to get my mitts on the Skin Wow Concealer as it was sold out online and in every Boots store I went into bar one. I'm so glad I did though as I'm in love with it and have been using it every day! I can't wait for the initial hype to die down so I can mass order some more! I really like the gold packaging and it's so easy to apply - just click the end, draw it on and blend. It's super brightening so perfect for under my eyes though I still use my Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer for covering blemishes as it gives more coverage. 

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Green People Scent-Free Hydrating Calming Serum & Scent-Free Light Day Moisturiser

My other beauty faves are the Green People Scent-Free Hydrating Calming Serum* and Scent-Free Light Day Moisturiser*. I reviewed these fully a few weeks ago so head over to that to have an in depth read, but basically they've both really helped my skin stay soft and hydrated. As the name suggests, they're scent free and don't contain any SLS or parabens so are really kind to my sensitive, eczema prone skin. I'm absolutely obsessed with Green People's products and can't recommend them enough.

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New Balance 620 Black Micro Trainers

Fashion faves now and the first thing I've been loving are my new New Balance 620 Black Micro Trainers. Since moving back in with my parents, my commute now includes 3 miles of walking a day, so I definitely needed a pair of comfortable and supportive shoes to walk in and I love how these black ones look. I think they're super stylish and manage not to make my feet look huge like most trainers do, as well as feeling really light weight and comfy to walk in. 

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H&M Pineapple Print Sunglasses Case

One of the things I picked up for my holiday is this adorable black and white pineapple print sunglasses case from H&M. I included my new Quay Australia My Girl sunglasses in my March Favourites and I still absolutely adore them and wanted a more sturdy and structured case to keep them in than the soft pouch they came with, particularly for throwing in my hand luggage on my trip to America. I love the shabby chic design of these and the fact that they're still pretty compact but offer a hard layer at the front to protect the lenses of the glasses. £5.99 well spent!

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The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

My cousin had recommended I read crime thriller The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling's pseudonym) ages ago and I finally got round to it in April, after downloading the audiobook from Audible. It tells the story of war veteran turned private detective Cormoran Strike, who is approached by a wealthy lawyer to investigate the death of his sister, socialite and model Lula Landry. Whilst the police are convinced that Lula, suffering from depression, jumped from the balcony of her luxury London apartment, Strike and his assistant Robin delve deeper and find that lawyer John's belief that there is something more sinister behind the death could well be true. I really enjoyed The Cuckoos Calling and it made my commute whizz by! I was guessing right until the very end as to what had happened to Lula and I loved the characters involved. Excitingly it's the first of a three book series involving Cormoran Strike so I'm very excited to listen to the rest of the trilogy too.

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Eat Natural Dark Chocolate with Cranberries and Macadamias 

Ready for a food fave? I am OBSESSED with these Dark Chocolate, Cranberry and Macadamia Eat Natural Bars. Sweet mother of pearl they are DELICIOUS! They're also not too bad for you - win win! Despite not being the lowest calorie snacks around, they are made of good natural ingredients so are much healthier than your average chocolate bar. They're also super filling so I usually have the smaller bars, but my dad has become hooked on them too and prefers these bigger bars which was all I could find to photograph! (Someone must have eaten all the little ones *cough cough*)

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Fifth Harmony - Work From Home

My final April Favourite is Fifth Harmony's Work From Home. I LOVE THIS SONG! It's such a good one to listen to on my walk to work, 'cos, let's face it, you don't wanna go to work work work work work work but you gotta go to work work work work work work. It may not be lyrical genius but it sure does get me moving!

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That's it for April Faves! This post is up slightly later than normal as I've just got back from my trip to Chicago which will - spoiler - definitely be top of my May Favourites because it was AMAZING!!! See what else makes the cut in a few weeks.


What were your favourites last month?


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*PR samples. All thoughts are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page.

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