22 December 2015

Shopping | My Christmas Wish List

Last month I shared my ultimate high end wish list and with Christmas just three days away I thought it was the perfect time to share what is on my actual wish list this Christmas.

Karen Millen Faux Fur Collar Wool Trench Coat - £325.00
Okay so I already know I have this seeing as I had to go and buy it myself but it was love at first sight: the faux fur collar and trench shape make this such a classic winter coat and one I will cherish for years to come. We just need January to be cold enough for me to wear it...

Zoeva Rose Golden Luxury vol 2 - £55.00
I'm super late to the party with Zoeva but I purchased the standard rose golden set in November and spotted this at the same time; it swiftly made its way on to my wish list and I'm hoping to find it under the tree on Friday!

Estee Lauder Modern Muse Le Rouge EDP - from £40.00
I spritzed this in Selfridges a few weeks ago and it is absolutely delicious. I'm a complete fragrance fiend and I would love to add this to my collection.

Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask - £92.50
I've adored Sisley products ever since I worked on counter for them and this face mask is honestly one of the best in the world. I'm going for a Sisley facial in January and I would love to be able to keep up the good work at home.

So I know my "normal" wish list was also pretty pricey but this has edited out the mundane stuff I ask for every Christmas: socks and new PJs, and so it just includes the things I would really appreciate but probably wouldn't buy for myself.

What do you want Santa to bring you on Friday?

Vicky x
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3 December 2015

Recipe | Raspberry Eclairs

I absolutely adore eclairs: wonderful pastry filled with cream and topped with chocolate - what isn't to love? If you've been following my blog for a while you may remember my profiterole recipe (here) and much like that recipe, eclairs call for choux pastry but do not let that deter you. My super simple recipe couldn't be easier to get right.


I've incorporated homemade jam into this recipe but it isn't essential you do the same, if you'd like to then I have a recipe going up shortly but if not, shop bought jam will do just fine.

You will need
  • Large saucepan
  • Two baking trays
  • Two piping bags - one with a round nozzle, one with a star tip nozzle (optional)

Ingredients - for the choux pastry

  • 60g plain flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 125ml cold water
  • 50ml unsalted butter
Ingredients - for the filling
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1 heaped tablespoon icing sugar
  • Raspberry or seasonal berry jam
  • Fresh raspberries 
  • Raspberry flavouring/extract 
Ingredients - for the topping
  • 100g white chocolate
  • Pink gel food colouring 
  • Freeze dried raspberry pieces



Instructions 

1. Add the water and butter to a large saucepan and place on a medium heat until the butter melts. Once the butter has melted, increase the heat and bring the pot to a rolling boil.

2. Once the water and butter are at a rolling boil, tip in the flour and remove from the heat immediately. Stir vigorously to combine, the mixture should come away from the sides of the pan like a soft ball. Place into a large bowl and leave to cool.

3. When the mixture is tepid, add in your beaten eggs slowly taking time to beat well to incorporate everything. I initially use a wooden spoon and then once all of the egg is incorporated I use an electric whisk to add extra air.

4. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees and grease and flour your two baking trays.

5. Spoon your pastry into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle, the consistency should be so that it just drops off a spoon. Pipe 5cm long strips onto your prepared baking trays.

6. Bake for 20 minutes at 200 degrees before reducing the temperature to 190 degrees and baking for a further 5/10 minutes - your eclairs should be well risen and golden brown. 

7. Once your eclairs are done, poke a skewer into the side to allow air to escape and the pastry to crisp. Place on a wire rack to cool.

8. Start by melting your chocolate, to do this place a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of water and heat slowly so as not to burn the chocolate. when your chocolate has melted remove from the heat and reserve a tablespoon or two in a separate bowl. 

9. Add your gel colouring drop by drop and mix well until you reach your desired colour. Mix in a few small drops of the raspberry flavouring and leave to set slightly.

10. In a large bowl whisk your cream, vanilla bean paste and icing sugar until thick enough to pipe.

11. Gently cut your eclairs in half, fit a star tipped nozzle to a piping bag and fill with the cream, pipe a line of cream the length of the eclair.

12. Cut a sandwich bag diagonally in half and fill with a few tablespoons of jam, snip the end off and pipe a thin line of jam the length of the eclair. Using your cream, pipe rosettes on top of this and then pipe balls of jam between each rosette. Top this with a fresh raspberry.

13. Once your chocolate has cooled enough to spread, spoon over the top of your eclair and spread. Place the top of the eclair gently onto the cream and raspberries.

14. With your melted white chocolate and a small spoon, drizzle lines of white chocolate across your iced eclairs and sprinkle with freeze dried raspberries.


These eclairs look super impressive when served and they're deceptively simple, ideal for Christmas get togethers.

Let me know if you give these a go, I'd love to see how yours turn out!

Vicky x

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29 November 2015

Beauty | My New Hair

After having extensions in for the best part of this year, I finally had them removed last week and felt totally liberated. Feeling more than a little bold at the hairdressers I decided to go for the chop.


Hardly groundbreaking I know but after spending my entire adult life to this point trying to erase memories of the giant fringe I sported until the age of 10, it appears I decided that the right thing to do was cut one in. 

I loved how it looked on the day but I've already developed a massive love/hate relationship with it; it just will not behave! My manager is calling me Lassie and as for what happens when it's windy, well the less said the better!

I don't think I'll be getting it cut back in when I go back to the hairdressers but after having the same hair for so long it's so nice to have a change; no matter how temporary!

Do you have any tips for managing a wayward fringe?!

Vicky x
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17 November 2015

Lifestyle | Take the Stress Out of Christmas Shopping

Christmas shopping, two words to strike fear into the heart of even the most seasoned shopper: suddenly there are more choices that ever before; should you buy the gift set or would they prefer just the individual fragrance? Does anyone even use the scented body lotions? Wait - what do you mean I get a free clutch bag with the set - SOLD! Bugger, what am I going to do with another clutch bag?! 

If you've never had the above conversation with yourself standing sweaty palmed in the beauty hall of any department store then you, my friend, have never truly been Christmas shopping.

I have a pretty haphazard approach to Christmas shopping, it's eternally hit and miss, but this year I decided that I wanted to take all of the stress out of shopping so that I could full enjoy the build up to Christmas and that's exactly what I've been able to do.

image source: Google

Lists are your friend
When you go food shopping, you make a list (well, you should, even if it's just on your phone) and Christmas shopping should be no different. Make a list of all of the people you want to buy presents for and then make a list of what you're buying for them, this will help you with the next point.

Budget - this applies to time as well as money
For me, the key to the success of my Christmas shopping this year (which I'd finished before November *insert sassy emoji*) was that I budgeted not only my money but also my time. Just in the same way that it's easy to over-spend, it is just as easy to over-shop.

Once you know who you're buying for you and what you're buying, you can allocate a budget for each person and make sure you stick to it! There's no point in setting a budget if you're just going to rip it up and ignore it.

When it comes to budgeting your time, set time aside that is solely for Christmas shopping. For example, if you're going to put a Saturday aside to do the bulk of your shopping then that is what you need to do. When you have a clear idea in mind of what you're looking for, and as you've made a list you should, then you'll know which shops you need to visit and plan them around your local high street/shopping destination.

Buy online 
If you start early enough then you can do the bulk, if not all, of your Christmas shopping online. This was the first year I purchased most of presents online and it really was a weight off my shoulders: no queuing in stuffy shops whilst laden down with shopping bags, shifting them agitatedly from one arm to the other because they're too heavy, no viciously swiping people's kneecaps or ankles on the tube with the obnoxiously large Dove gift set that my mum wants every year and no rush to grab the last item on the shelf.

Another bonus of Christmas shopping online is that there's often discount codes floating around or online exclusives and it's always nice to be able to gift someone something they've never seen in store before.

Take advantage of in-store gift wrapping services
I hate wrapping presents with an unrelenting passion. It is my least favourite thing to do. I'm terrible at it and I find it the most stressful part of the Christmas shopping process so where possible, if a store offers a gift wrapping service then take advantage of it! At Christmas a lot of stores will offer this as a complementary service but sometimes I just have to splash out and pay them to wrap it for me, I mean £3 is a small price to pay to maintain my sanity. 

Most online retailers will also offer complimentary gift wrapping but I rarely do this, just in case something just broken in transit. I like to look at what I've bought before I gift it. If you're not quite as peculiar as I am, then gift wrapping is a great way to relieve unnecessary stress.

If you're hitting the shops, be prepared
With the plastic bag tax now in force, make sure you take plenty of bags with you; if you have loyalty cards then make sure they're in your purse, not only will you notch up points for next year but you might have enough on there for money off your shopping and don't forget your list(s)! 

All in all following the above steps really took the stress out of my shopping this year, I've loathed Christmas shopping for the last few years and found it a complete and utter chore but this year it was a breeze and now I feel like I can really enjoy the build up to Christmas and all it has to offer because I've got the most challenging part out of the way.

What are your top tips for stress-free Christmas shopping?

Vicky x
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15 November 2015

Fashion | New Look Premium: New Dancing Shoes

Okay so dancing shoes might be overshooting it a little but "sitting down and admiring" shoes just doesn't have the same ring to it.


Not only am I a fiend for a pair of shoes but I'm a complete magpie so I was drawn instantly to these shoes: it would have been hard to miss them, they stood alone against a sea of black boots on a single plinth in New Look Marble Arch. If that's not a sign from the shoe heavens, I don't know what it.


I absolutely adore New Look for shoes, not only are they cheap but they wear really well and some of my favourite shoes of all time come from there so when I spotted the "Premium" label inside these, I was curious. At £49.99 they're pretty pricey by New Look shoe standards but they are so beautiful. The finish is superior to the normal New Look range and the design is far better than I've ever seen in there before. They'd easily rival Kurt Geiger.

New Look describe their Premium range as being carefully crafted with a unique design and being finished with premium grade leather. Having spent quite a bit of time examining these shoes in the shop (side note - am I the only person who will happily drop a few £££s on something like Russell and Bromley because it's expected and then forensically examine New Look as soon as there's a price hike?!), I can confirm this is definitely the case. 


With a bronze metallic finish, divine multi-tonal jewel strap detail, an on-trend super thin heel and zip up back, I can see these being my go-to heels for Christmas and NYE already. I'm already planning on what to wear them with for a Christmas party I'm going to and I think they'll be a huge talking point - I'm even considering buying the silver pair for next summer.

You can buy them online here or in selected New Look stores for £49.99.

Have you tried anything from the New Look Premium range yet?

Vicky x


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9 November 2015

Shopping | The Ultimate High End Christmas Wish List

With Christmas just around the corner (okay, it's over a month away but given how quickly this year has gone it'll be here before we know it!) I thought I would compile my ultimate if-money-was-no-object wish list of all of the high end things that would be on my Christmas list.



Max Mara Cashmere Coat in coral - £2945.00 
I am obsessed with coats anyway but this coat from Max Mara really caught my eye with it's cape style sleeves, belted waist, superb tailoring and beautiful colour.


Mulberry Bayswater Double Zip Tote in mole grey - £1500.00
It was love at first sight for me when I saw this Mulberry bag. An update on the classic Bayswater with its structured shape it is both practical and professional. The ideal work bag investment.


Rolex Lady-Datejust - £5650.00
A good watch is an investment and this classic Rolex would be a wonderful investment. The ideal accessory to any and every outfit.


Jimmy Choo Cinderella Slipper - £2995.00
Each Cinderella 'slipper' from Jimmy Choo is custom made to perfectly fit the foot of the person wearing. With over 7000 Swarovski crystals and 46 embroidered stones, no other shoes would befit a Princess quite like these.


Azzedine Alaia Andalouise dress - £2000.00
I first discovered Azzedine Alaia dresses when I worked at a super-high end department store and I've been obsessed ever since. With dresses coming in north of £2000.00 they're anything but cheap but the silhouette created by his designs mean that any Alaia dress is a piece worth owning.

Make sure you keep an eye on the blog in the coming days and weeks to see what is REALLY on my Christmas list this year and what I'll be buying for other people.

What would be on your ultimate Christmas wish list?

Vicky x


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6 November 2015

Recipe | Greek Salad Turkey Burgers

Earlier this year I shared with you my pesto and mozzarella burgers and whilst November may now be upon us I refuse to let go of my love for salads yet even I can acknowledge that more substantial food is required at this time of year and that is where my Greek salad turkey burgers come into play.


Turkey burgers are one of my favourite things to make as a quick meal after work as they are so quick and easy and provide such a flavourful meal - one of the best things apart turkey mince (apart from it being low in fat) is that you can really season it and make it taste delicious as it isn't as overpowering as a red meat for example.

You will need 
  • Turkey mince (I use a whole pack - this recipe makes 6 burgers so you can freeze some)
  • A red onion
  • 2 tsp minced garlic 
  • Dried oregano 
  • Dried dill
  • A chunk of feta cheese
  • A handful of sundried tomatoes
  • Cucumber, fresh tomatoes and olives (optional)
  • A burger bun (I opted for a piece of ciabatta bread)
  • A pot of Greek Yoghurt (I like Yeo Valley)
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Half a lemon
Instructions


1. In a small bowl combine the Greek yoghurt with a tablespoon of dill and a teaspoon of minced garlic, I used minced garlic from a jar for added flavour. Mix until combined and set aside.

2. Chop half of your red onion and your handful of sundried tomatoes, season with salt and lemon juice and set aside.

3. Place your mince in a large bowl and season well with salt and black pepper. Add in a teaspoon of minced garlic and a teaspoon of your dried oregano. 

4. Add your chopped onion and sundried tomatoes to the mince and crumble in half of your feta cheese. Use your hands to mix until everything is well incorporated.

5. Take handfuls of the mix and shape into burgers, pressing them down to approximately an inch thick.

6. Heat your grill and when it is sizzling hot, add your burgers and cook, turning occasionally. I used a George Foreman grill and found it to be the easiest way.

7. Whilst your burgers are cooking, quickly chop up a side salad using the traditional elements of a Greek salad: cucumber, the remaining red onion, tomatoes, the remaining feta and olives if you like them. Place in a small bowl and drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and a sprinkling of oregano.

8. Slather your ciabatta in your Greek yoghurt mix and top with a burger and salad. Enjoy!!

Do you like turkey burgers? What is your favourite flavour combination? 

Vicky x

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4 November 2015

Lifestyle | #MyPoppy with Buckley London

This year an estimated 45 million people are expected to wear a poppy and the Royal British Legion have asked people to share why they wear a poppy using the #MyPoppy hashtag.


This year, I purchased my poppy from Buckley London (you can see their full poppy range here) and they donate all profits from the sale of their poppy collection to the Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland. 

The slogan for the campaign this year is: to the memory of the fallen and the future of the living which I find incredibly poignant. Having spent time volunteering for the Royal British Legion I have been able to see first hand the support they provide to those who need it most.

Everyone will have their own personal reasons for wearing a poppy, or for choosing not to, but I choose to wear mine for my Grandad - an incredibly brave and proud man; and for those who served alongside him, before him, after him and those who continue to serve in our Armed Forces and rely on the support of charities like the Royal British Legion.


There's the story behind #MyPoppy - what's yours?

Vicky x

PS - just incase anybody thinks this is in any way sponsored or compensated because I've linked a shop, it isn't. I've had so many comments and compliments on my poppy that I wanted to share the source with you all.

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2 November 2015

Restaurant Review | Gin and Jam Afternoon Tea at Hush Mayfair

On Saturday my friend Lucy and I had a much needed catch up. We both love afternoon tea so it was the natural choice of activity and as between us we've probably covered half of the venues in London we set about finding a new venue.



I've been to Hush once or twice for after work cocktails and it's a real secret gem, nestled away between Brook Street and New Bond Street, it's actually directly behind Victoria's Secret but you feel miles away from the hustle and bustle of some of London's busiest shopping streets. 


Afternoon tea is served in the Silver Room and as we had quite a late booking many of the tables had been dressed for dinner and there was only one other party there so it lacked the usual ambiance of afternoon tea somewhat but that didn't deter us.


As we'd booked using the London Festival of Food offer we had two cocktails instead of one with our tea for the usual price of £35. The cocktail menu was pretty succinct with only five offerings but the menu in itself was absolutely stunning on gorgeous heavy paper that shone as the light hit it. With my wedding planning course underway I instantly thought it would make beautiful invitation paper.


We were presented with a house cocktail to start that was called something like "The White Rabbit" (I can't remember exactly) and it was Hush Boutique Gin and strawberry jam amongst other things. I love a gin cocktail and this really hit the spot. It was a little strong but that doesn't bother me too much! I also loved the presentation of the tea cup on the wine glass stem - very quirky.


There was a great selection of food on offer with four different types of sandwich: chicken and tarragon on sourdough, cucumber and butter on white bread, egg mayonnaise on brown bread and salmon and cream cheese on wholemeal; two scones each with fresh clotted cream and a selection of jams including strawberry, gooseberry, cherry and apricot; four mini macarons and an earl grey creme brûlée each.


It doesn't look particularly appetising but the chicken and tarragon was by far and away my favourite, I could have quite happily eaten a whole tray of them on their own!


From the selection of six teas I chose the Emperor's Tea, a black tea with vanilla and spice. Given how warming and comforting it was I found it to also be refreshingly light and easy to drink.


When it came to picking our second cocktail from the menu I went for the Paddington Bear: Hush Boutique Gin, amaretto, orange juice and marmalade (obvs) and it was delicious. It came served in a titchy little jam jar with a piece of candied orange and it was just wonderful.

The service from the team at Hush was excellent, the fact they only had two tables to cover may have played a part in that but I honestly can't fault how friendly and helpful they were. 

I think I'll be going back to Hush soon to try out their dinner menu or their bottomless bellini bruch!

Where do you like to go for afternoon tea?

Vicky x
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31 October 2015

Beauty | Paris - Sephora Haul

Whilst I managed to stay away from the French Pharmacies and their Aladdin's Cave of skincare, I couldn't resist a trip to Sephora. I was hoping to pick up some Anastasia Beverly Hills products but they haven't launched yet in the French Sephora so I set about picking up some other bits instead.


I could have gone seriously crazy with my purchases so I had to restrain myself and try to stick to items I can't purchase here in the UK.


I've heard such good things about the Sephora skincare that I couldn't resist picking up a few of their own brand face masks but I couldn't resist the GLAMGLOW cleaner, I absolutely adore their face masks so when I spotted this I got super excited and threw it straight into my basket. I haven't had time to try any yet so expect reviews in due course.

GLAMGLOW POWERCLEANSE Daily Dual Cleanser - €29.90
Sephora Pearl Sheet Face Mask - €3.95
Sephora Lotus Sheet Face Mask - €3.95
Sephora Pearl Sleeping Mask - €3.95
Sephora Honey Sleeping Mask - €3.95


Cosmetics wise, I didn't really have anything specific in mind. All I knew was that I wanted to pick up another mineral powder brush (you can read about my love for it here). I also picked up the Beauty Blender which I'm yet to try but after having my makeup done at Laura Mercier a few months ago I realised how much I love foundation applied with a sponge and so I thought it was time to try this cult product. Two mini lip liners and a beautiful lip balm later and I was done. 

Sephora Mineral Powder Brush - €17.95
Beauty Blender - €16.90
Sephora lip liner - €4.95 x 2
Sephora lip balm - €7.00

All in all I'm really pleased with my purchases and it really makes me wish that we had Sephora here in the UK!

What are your favourite things from Sephora? Have you tried anything I've purchased?

Vicky x
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29 October 2015

Restaurant Review | Paris - Dinner at 58 Tour Eiffel

As soon as I found out I was going to Paris I wanted to book somewhere spectacular for my birthday dinner and after some research I discovered 58 Tour Eiffel on Level One of the Eiffel Tower. Sold.


Trying to get a table was, quite frankly, a nightmare. It's such a popular venue that they're often fully booked months in advance and I only managed to secure our reservation a week before we arrived due to a late cancellation. You select the type of "offer" you want when booking and pay in advance. I went for the Sensation offer which at €98 per head wasn't cheap but it was worth every last penny. I'd pay it twice over for the same meal. Included in the price is your lift ticket, champagne on arrival, a three course meal, two glasses of wine and coffee.


The restaurant covers two sittings per night and we went for the 9pm sitting which would ordinarily be pretty late for me but actually worked out quite well after walking around Paris for hours. You take the lift up at 8:30pm and they won't let you up any earlier which is actually quite annoying when you're surrounded by the people trying to forcefully sell you tat whilst you wait which actually spoils the beauty of your surroundings but eventually we made it into the lift which again, as someone who doesn't like heights, I hated and then came the waiting. In the cold. Whilst they prepared the tables. At the time I wasn't overly happy about this but we were seated on time and the rest of the experience more than made up for this, so much so I'd forgotten about it until it came to typing this.


We were super lucky to get a window seat looking into the centre of the tower and out across the city which was absolutely spectacular. Tables are allocated prior to arrival and the amount you pay apparently has no bearing so it really is just a case of luck but wherever you're seated you're in for a treat.


I was determined to try different foods in Paris, I'm not as fussy as I once was but when you're in a city renowned for being the pinnacle of haute cuisine I couldn't resit and so I opted for something incredibly out of character for me and I hope you don't judge me for it because I know it's less than ethical.

Duck foie gras with pear and cocoa balsamic vinegar and a toasted brioche
I'd never tried foie gras before but this was beyond exceptional, it was one of the best things I've ever eaten. I struggled spreading it and first and actually uttered the words: "I can't seem to spread my foie gras on my brioche properly!" until I had a serious word with myself and vowed never to say something like that again! 


Lightly smoked salmon with dill and cucumber fromage frais, salmon eggs and a waffle
Everybody that knows me knows that I don't eat anything that lives in the sea. All fish and seafood are strictly off limits but my manager challenged me to try a piece of fish so when this arrived I managed to slice off a tiny piece to try before it was inhaled and wow - I've been missing out. I felt it tasted quite fishy (no surprise there) but it literally melted in my mouth. I'm not in any real hurry to try more fish but I'm glad that I did.


Herb stuffed chicken breast with salsifies and new potatoes, parmesan shavings and real jus 
I had no words for this meal at the time and I'm still struggling now - this was the best main course I have ever eaten. The chicken was cooked to absolute perfection, it was so tender and full of flavour and the vegetables were divine but the real winner for me was the cooked parmesan shavings. A real game changer. 


Bream fillet "a la plancha" with spelt risotto, sauteed Chinese artichoke and a purple mustard beurre blanc 
I wasn't feeling bold enough to try any more fish, not that I'd have had the chance as it was wolfed down because it was that good. The fish just flaked away and apart from the freshly caught fish in Australia, I've never seen such perfectly white fish. 

For dessert I had the profiterole with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, you'll note there isn't a picture of this because I practically swallowed the plate as soon as it arrived at the table. Incredible. The ice cream was vanilla bean ice cream and unlike any I've had before.

Service was exceptional, the location was incredible and the food was, over three courses, the best I've had in my life. I honestly cannot recommend this place enough, it left me speechless. 

Have you ever been to 58 Tour Eiffel? What is your favourite restaurant ever?

Vicky x
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27 October 2015

Travel | Paris - The Best Birthday Ever

I turned 25 in September which would have been a pretty traumatic experience if I hadn't received a trip to Paris as a present! I'd never been to France before and despite never previously being very interested in going to Paris, I was incredibly excited to visit somewhere new and also incredibly grateful to receive such a generous and thoughtful gift.


We travelled on the Eurostar which was a surprisingly pleasant experience despite leaving at 5:40am and being stuck in a carriage with some ridiculously loud teenagers - seriously, who has that much to say at such an awful hour?! The journey took less than two and a half hours and I managed to sleep for a large part of it which helped.

As soon as we got to Paris we made our first rookie tourist mistake and headed to the place closest to the station for breakfast - a rock hard croissant and burnt coffee wasn't exactly the welcome to French cuisine I was expecting!

Our hotel was right near the Eiffel Tower so we needed a taxi to get there, I'm mentioning this because as you come out of the station there's a huge line of "taxis" ready to take you to your hotel, one guy stopped us as said he could take us for "just €80" or we could "go and wait for over an hour in the taxi rank queue" - I had a quick look at Uber because I thought the price sounded extortionate, bearing in mind I'm from London and I spend a small fortune on taxis, which it was because Uber helpfully pointed out the journey would be less than €20 so please, don't get sucked in by those guys!

We stayed at a beautiful recently refurbished boutique hotel Le Derby Alma which was a 30 second walk from the Eiffel Tower. The room was small but beautiful and stocked with Hermes bath products which pleased me no end, as did the waterfall sink - you can tell I'm in property, it's always the little things that excite me! The staff were super friendly and couldn't have been more helpful, we were even allowed to check in 6 hours early.


The weather was absolutely beautiful so we decided for the most part to walk everywhere which is my favourite way to see a new city, you get such a good feel for a place by walking around it and learning all of the little side streets that you may otherwise miss if you were travelling by metro or taxi.


One of my favourite things about Paris, along with the architecture, was the food. Oh my God, the food! Our hotel was really conveniently located for Rue Saint Dominique which had some of the nicest cafes and bistros so we headed there on our first day for lunch. Having spent the last 8 hours walking around we headed to a bistro on Rue Saint Dominique where I had the best pasta I've ever had in my life and that includes in Milan! Packed to the brim with ham, parmesan, truffle and mushroom it was absolute heaven - plain but exceptional.



On the subject of food, we had dinner on our first night inside the Eiffel Tower which was the most incredible experience ever and fully deserves a post of it's own so keep a look out for that going live in the next few days because it is one of the best things I've ever done and I fully recommend it to everyone.


I am so super excited to share my Christian Louboutin purchase with you all but that warrants it's own post, as does my Sephora haul, but I can honestly say they were a wonderful decision and I am so happy with them. 

If you've never been to Paris and you're a bit undecided on it as I was then you simply must go, I enjoy every place I visit but I absolutely fell in love with Paris and I can't wait to go back one day and try different restaurants and boutiques and just have an absolute ball again.

Have you ever been to Paris?

Vicky x
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25 October 2015

Beauty | Discover Tarte: 7 piece collection*

A few weeks ago I came home to a very unexpected but very much appreciated gift from Tarte Cosmetics: their new limited edition 7 piece collection designed as an introduction to the brand.


The collection consists of 7 full sized products and has your full face covered (literally) with base, eyes, lips and cheeks all included in the collection which comes in a handy patent purple makeup bag which I haven't pictured.



Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Airbrush Foundation and Airbuki Bamboo Powder Foundation Brush 

This foundation was the stand-out product for me. I've never used a mineral foundation before and I tend not to enjoy powder foundation so I was a little concerned that I wouldn't like this but I couldn't have been more wrong. Not only does the product apply and blend like a dream, it provides such a flawless finish without looking cakey or unnatural. 

The product is dispensed through a flexible mesh which you press the brush into before tapping off any excess and buffing it on to your face in circular motions. The short and densely packed bristles are incredibly soft yet the flat top and dense packing of the bristles make sure the brush is sturdy and easy to use.

Amazonian Clay Eye and Cheek Palette and Double Ended Eye Shadow Brush

This limited edition eye and cheek palette is utterly divine. For such a makeup fiend I'm not actually the biggest fan of wearing eye shadow and as such I tend to only wear it for nights out but the six shades in this palette are perfect day time shades but can easily be blended and layered to create a bolder look for night time. My favourite colours were the mauve tones but the warmer shades are equally as beautiful. The eye shadows are designed to mattify oil which makes the eye shadows super long lasting.

The Amazonian Clay blushers are amongst my favourite blushers on the market so I was delighted to see one included in this kit because I simply can't get enough of them. They're perfectly pigmented and last for up to 12 hours on the skin. 

I really liked using the double ended eye shadow brush too, as with the airbuki brush, the bristles were exceptionally soft and made blending the eye shadows an absolute dream.

Silk Amazonian Clay Eyeliner

With a smudger and built-in sharper, this black brown eyeliner glides on like a dream and blends out to create the perfect base for a smokey eye. The deep brown shade works really well with blue eyes and is a lot less harsh than black making it ideal for day time wear as well.

Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 mascara

This mascara is my favourite Tarte product I've ever tried and hands down one of the best mascaras I have ever used. I was fortunate enough to try this before and I've asked friends to bring it back from the US for me before so to have another one was an absolute joy. The mascara is infused with plant botanicals and waxes which make the mascara super moisturising and kind to your own lashes. 

Coconut Oil Lipstick

Putting this lipstick on was like running a knife through hot butter: incredible. It was so smooth and easy to apply with a high gloss finish and excellent pigmentation, this is going to be my go-to winter lip colour.

You can purchase this excellent set from QVC online for £51.00 - it would make an ideal Christmas present for the makeup lovers in your life.

Have you tried anything from Tarte? What are your favourite products?

Vicky x

* Item was sent by Tarte as a gift
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22 September 2015

Lifestyle | My Birthday at Kensington Roof Gardens

Birthdays, as we all know, can be a pretty stressful occasion. I love everyone else's but hate being the centre of attention so I find planning my own birthday to be a complete and utter chore so when Lux Guest List contacted me earlier this year and very kindly offered to basically arrange it for me I jumped at the chance!

I've never really been much of a club person, always preferring a restaurant and a good bar over a nightclub (unless it's a private members club of course!) but I've loved Roof Gardens from the first time I visited so it was a natural choice for me although Lux also offer a guest list at other exclusive London venus such as Boujis, Dstrkt, Maddox, Bodo's Schloss, The Box and Cirque le Soir to name just a few of my other favourites - so much for a girl who doesn't like clubbing!! 

From my first communication with Jean at Lux, he could not have been more helpful, everything was arranged super quickly and easily which I was delighted about, it completely took the stress out of planning a birthday and wanting to go somewhere but without the risk of turning up and not getting in!

Unfortunately by the time my birthday rolled around I had a disgusting cold and three of my closest friends had to pull out of coming so we were a pretty small group and I was a very miserable birthday girl so only one picture of the evening actually survived which is a shame - I so wish I'd been feeling well enough to truly document my evening at Roof Gardens but you'll just have to believe me when I tell you it's an absolute ball and book yourself onto the guest list with Lux!!



Our table was in the Tudor Gardens and we could not have been better looked after by Allan, our host, he was so helpful and attentive all evening and I am so grateful for how well he treated us. We were served some amazing watering can cocktails which really need to be seen to be understood and made our way inside after a while for a quick dance before heading home a few hours later.

There's such a good mix of people at Roof Gardens and the drinks and food are brilliant, the barbecue is such a great touch and really sets it apart from other venues for me. The music they play is right up my street and it just has such a good vibe, it's unlike anywhere else in London!

I'd never used a guest list service or promoter before but I can tell you now, it is definitely is way forward and I'm already looking into using Lux to book my office Christmas party!

You can find more about Lux Guest List on their website - I honestly cannot thank and recommend them enough!

Where's your favourite place for a night out?

Vicky x

* Lux very kindly provided free entry and complimentary drinks for me on my evening




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17 September 2015

Beauty | Organic Beauty Week with Antipodes*

Organic skincare and beauty products are something that have never really been massively on my radar; whilst I'm aware they exist it's unlikely I'll go out of my way to purchase an organic beauty product and I think this is something that needs to change.

Recently, the mother of a close friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer and since then my friend has completely overhauled her beauty regime to include only organic products with everything from hair care to deodorant which I find truly admirable and actually, quite eye-opening. The skin is our largest organ and yet we (I'm using the royal 'we' here) often slather it in products with no thought for the ingredients in the products which are being directly absorbed into our bodies.



I'd never heard of Organic Beauty Week until I was contacted to see if I'd like to try some Antipodes products in honour of Organic Beauty Week. Antipodes is one of my favourite brands as you know (you can read my review of their Aura Manuka Honey Mask* here) and with organic beauty already very much on my mind I wanted to share some products that you may find to be a useful way of incorporating organic beauty into your daily routine.

Organic beauty week runs from 14th September to 20th September and this year the focus is on clarity - knowing what is in your products, even those with the organic label.


Antipodes Hosanna H2O Intensive Skin-Plumping Serum*

With the changing weather, constant air conditioning in the office and working just a stones throw from one of the most polluted places in London my skin has been looking a bit lacklustre of late. I typically use rosehip oil which I love but this serum is an absolute game changer.

Until now I'd never found a serum that worked for me as I found they always fell into two distinct camps: so watery they had no impact at all or so thick it was like smoothing wallpaper paste across my cleansed face. This serum strikes the perfect balance between the two as the product is neither thick nor watery despite being packed full of mineral water.




After cleansing, I apply a few drops of the serum to the tips of my fingers, warm on my hands and apply to my face in alternate patting and massaging motions. At the moment I'm using it every day but in the next few weeks I will try to go down to every other day and ultimately once or twice a week.

My skin instantly feels more hydrated and I do feel like it looks smoother and plumper, I was running late earlier in the week and had to travel to work with no makeup on and everybody commented on how fresh and glowing my skin looked that morning, so much so my colleague rushed to Selfridges in search of this serum on her lunch break!

The box states that this serum won a Harpers Bazaar beauty award and I can see why as it packs a serious punch - I thoroughly recommend trying it.

Antipodes Hosanna H2O Intensive Skin-Plumping Serum is available from various online retailers from approximately £25.99 for 30ml.


Antipodes Rejoice Light Facial Day Cream*

I often shun a day cream finding that even those that claim to be light and quick to sink into the skin fail to do so and there is nothing worse in the morning when you're in a rush to get your makeup on and get out of the door to hopefully make it onto a slightly less packed train than standing fanning your face with a magazine or pressing it into a clean muslin cloth to desperately try and speed up the process - FYI, neither of those work.



Before I even applied this to my skin the first thing I noticed was the scent: vanilla pod, one of my favourite scents. The cream itself is relatively thick in texture which made me nervous at first but when applied to the face it is incredibly light and not remotely oily which I found surprising when I saw one of the key ingredients was avocado oil. Just when I thought I couldn't love avocado any more, I now think I want to bathe in it!


Despite being a light day cream, studies have shown that this cream has been proven to stimulate the production of collagen in human skin cells by up to 59% and the avocado oil helps to target fine lines so alongside the serum it's no wonder my skin is looking better than ever and since hitting 25 I want all the help I can get with potential lines!

I apply this cream every morning before I start my makeup routine and it in no way slows me down, in fact it feels like a morning treat and I don't feel as guilty about the damage the air conditioning and London pollution are doing to my skin if I'm being so kind to it before I go out and when I get home!

Antipodes Rejoice Light Facial Day Cream is available for various online retailers from approximately £26.99.

I already love Antipodes and if anything, I am now more determined than ever to just own ALL of the products but more than that, they prove that you can get products that are natural and organic and effective.

I am definitely interested in trying more organic skincare and taking more care of what skincare I use - do you have any organic recommendations for me?

Vicky x

EDIT: Apologies for the delay in getting this post up, I've spent the last week without broadband at home and trying to set anything live on blogger on an iPhone is impossible - do any of you have any mobile blogger app recommendations?
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