Monthly Archives: October 2013

Beauty: October Birchbox Review

True confession – I am a product junkie. My bathroom cabinets are crammed full of every new lotion and potion I can get my mitts on, from hair care to the latest ‘miracle’ mask, whipped body butters and every imaginable lip balm known to man. I honestly have to restrain myself from subscribing to every beauty box subscription going, because one day the overflow may actually take over my house. I am definitely more a skin care junkie than someone who experiments with funky makeup (in fact for special occasions I often hit up my friends at Space NK or Shu Uemura rather than doing my own face), so this most recent Birchbox was a hit with me.

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Dr Lipp Original nipple balm for lips This little beauty is one of my all-time favourite lip balms, so although this isn’t a ‘new’ product for me I was happy to see it included in this month’s box. I am a lip balm junkie; there’s a running joke amongst my friends that at a party, my friend Gracie and I are the go-to gals if you’re feeling a bit dry of lip. I’ll usually carry at least a couple balms, a gloss and a lipstick in my purse, no matter how tiny. The dinky version of this fabulous balm is super cute too. My Beauty Buzz card from Birchbox tells me this wee gem is a lanolin-based gel that is just perfect for cracked skin and any dry patches, which I can confirm is no lie!

Dr Brandt Micro dermabrasion skin exfoliant
I’ve tried several products from this range but this is one I’ve not used yet. I have issues with the pores around my T-zone area so I’m always up for trying the latest magic exfoliant (both the physical scrubby kind and those that use fruit acids). This uses both crystals AND lactic acid to get rid of dead skin cells that may cause dullness, promising to reveal a smooth and brightened complexion underneath. I am looking forward to trying this out in my skin care routine, and as I have been impressed with Dr Brandt products in the past I have high hopes for this one.

Laura Mercier Radiance primer
I’ve heard good things about this product, and it should fit in perfectly with my recent resolution to sport a more natural look. I find the less I wear in the way of bases, the younger I look; I’m quite happy to say my skin looks rather good for my age, and whilst I can get away with it I stick to tinted moisturisers and Kiehl’s BB cream during the day with a radiance enhancing primer. This version claims to give a ‘soft focus’ finish which is right up my street.

The Balm Stainiac
A lip and cheek stain? My go-to lip look is rosy and glossy, so some of my favourite products are those that leave a just-bitten stain. I have an aversion to a nude, pale lip…and I hate it when my lip colour wears off and I feel I look terribly washed out. I have loads of lip stains but as I use these all the time (layered under a gloss) I’m sure I’ll use it.

Egyptian Magic All-purpose skin cream
I’m not really a fan of sachet samples, as I find them messy to use. The ingredients sound intriguing though: olive oil, beeswax, honey, bee pollen, royal jelly and propolis extract. I’ll try this out and I do like the fact the cream contains no fragrance or additives.

KMS California Free shape deep conditioner
Claiming to tame and smooth the cuticle (what conditioner doesn’t?), and to promote ‘pliability’ of coarse and unruly locks, and to better respond to heat styling. Whether I like of am ambivalent to this product will largely depend on the fragrance and texture I think, as I’m quite attached to my Frederic Fekkai Glossing conditioner at the moment.

UltraDex recalcifying and whitening toothpaste
I can’t really get worked up above toothpaste; if it’s minty I’m happy. I use a whitening toothpaste so this mini version could be good for travel.

Akane Mask Cocoon Nocturne
Interestingly, this is a night time mask rather than a cream; a thin layer is applied to the skin before bed for a ‘luscious and refresed’ complexion upon waking. I’d love to wake up looking refreshed before my first caffeine hit so I’m excited to try this mask and I do love a good night time treatment.

Lighting: Curiousa and Curiousa hand blown beauties

This week I’ve been playing catch-up with work since my trip to Prague, and with my old Iphone finally dying on me I’ve been trying to get my photos and notes off it to post about my excellent 3 days there! I managed to fit in visiting some very old friends from school and eating at some outstanding restaurants whilst I was there, so watch this space!

Progress in the bedroom has been coming along nicely, and I’ve been designing a ‘man cave’ unit for the recess that’s going to be fabulous. We’ve decided the aesthetic we’re going for, as the room will be for a guy, will be a modern take on a gentlemens club. I’m very excited to watch things take shape, and the joiners doing the work are fantastic. I’ve been really enjoying working with them on this project.

One of the main aspects of the redesign is the lighting concept, and I’ve been like a kid in a candy shop looking at potential ideas. In the process I’ve found sine beauties which may not be perfect for this project but I’ve just got to share!

I first spied Curiousa and Curiousa’s ‘Twist’ chandelier at last year’s Tent (London Design Festival 2012) and fell in love with its sheer glam fabulousness; even for a strictly non-girly girl like me.

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Then I saw this beauty on their website, their ‘Dine ‘ pendant. Inspired by a Poul Henningsen classic PH pendant produced by Louis Poulsen. The PH was groundbreaking; lighting had always been from a direct source and Henningsen incorporated a diffusing anti-glare disc. Curiousa and Curiousa’s version uses 3 separately hand blown plates in glorious coloured glass.

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These lights are stunning, and I’d love to find just the perfect room for one of their pieces!

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Review: Back to Tuk Tuk (1 Leven Street)

Tomorrow I’ll be leaving for Prague for a 3 night trip; I’m so excited to be headed there again, it’s been over 19 years since I last visited that beautiful city… Not to mention it’s home to one of my absolute favourite buildings, Frank Gehry’s ‘dancing house’. I’ve made a reservation at the restaurant for dinner my first night there.

Today has been a day for running errands; my ‘to do’ list is a mile long but a girl’s gotta eat, so in between packing related mishaps and the gym, I decided to stop for a second take at TukTuk on Leven Street as I was so impressed by their lamb chops earlier in the week I had to try their curry.

I am a huge lover of biryanis, so when my waitress pointed out several new additions to the menu fresh off the press this morning, I was immediately tempted by the Raste ke biryani, described as chicken biryani ‘on-the-bone’. This dish was surpringly sweetly spiced, the chicken was wonderfully tender and full of flavour. This is definitely a dish to try, so different from your garden variety biryanis, with beautiful jewel toned strands of red onion and garnished with boiled egg.

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I also decided to go for the Railway station lamb curry, which is cooked on-the-bone with spinach. Accompanied by a dish of baby aubergine and potato. Now I’m not sure what Indian chefs do to their lamb to make the meat so gloriously tender and succulent but I want their secret! Chock full of lovely spinach and melt-in-the-mouth morsels of meat.

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Unfortunately the baby aubergines were rather bland, with a taste of cumin almost as an afterthought. In fact I got one mouthful that was almost overpoweringly spiced while the rest of the dish was quite dull.

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From my two visits it seems Tuk Tuk do meat very well; meltingly tender and full of flavour. The vegetarian dishes have been less impressive.

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Home: Second bedroom clean slate

Today was a big day in my home; all the boxes were taken away from the second bedroom (soon to be my flat mate’s room) and my builders could start on making it beautiful!

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It’s always so liberating to start with a clean slate, and we could really see for the first time what needs to be done. The current floorboards are a lovely oak, but they’re being harvested for use in the sitting room and dining room. Long story short those two rooms are actually significantly larger according to the original dimensions, so these boards will come in useful to make up the remainder. We’ll be replacing them with solid walnut in the two bedrooms.

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We are removing this entire unit and replacing it with a solid walnut built-in with tonnes of storage I’m designing myself. I love the sleek and streamlined look of built-ins, and in a ‘smaller’ room it should make this bedroom appear more spacious. Especially as we are thinking of replacing the double bed with a king sized!

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We are also removing the downstands framing the window area to bring more light into the room. These were built as a ‘feature’ by the developer but look pretty horrible.

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I’m so excited to see this room’s transformation, and I’ll be posting regular updates of tre progress. Watch this space!

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Home: redesigning the second bedroom

I have some very exciting news! As I’ve mentioned before I have a lovely new housemate moving in soon, and I thought it was time I finally brought the spare bedroom up to scratch. Until now this is the room that has been where all my junk has gone to die. It’s been filled with boxes, spare furniture that I’ve not found a place for, and everything ‘miscellaneous’.

Well I have big plans for that room, including replacing all the existing oak flooring with beautiful walnut, opening up the window area to bring more light into the room and designing a funky built-in unit to replace the almost non-existent storage we currently have. I’ve been working with the most fabulous builder, who just so happens to be a close friend of mine and one of the loveliest, most genuine guys I know.

So watch this space for updates on our progress! I work as an interior designer (it still feels as exciting as a new job, though I’ve been working for this company for almost half a year now) but what makes this project special is the fact that it’s a personal one…whilst still working with a ‘client’.

I’ll not reveal too much just yet but as this is the first room in the house I’m not designing purely in my own aesthetic I’ll be working with my flatmate to design him the perfect dude’s room. His first request? He has a hankering for chocolate brown…

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