Monday, 31 October 2011

A Review: L'Oreal Elvive Nourish & Shimmer

L'Oréal Elvive Nourish & Shimmer
Highlights Shampoo & Conditioner

What Do I Think?
Yet another shampoo and conditioner offering for highlighted blonde hair, these L'Oreal products contain 'royal jelly and brighteners for intense and long lasting brightness'. I'll be honest, what's in the product doesn't really concern me, I'm not sold on 'wonder' ingredients, and I've literally no idea what royal jelly is, what it does, or why the hell you'd put jelly in shampoo...even if it is royal ;) Initially, I really didn't like these products, my hair still felt slightly greasy after use, despite using minimal amounts of both the shampoo and conditioner, and I really felt as though they were weighing my hair down and making it slightly lifeless. I persevered, more through lack of alternative choices than to actively give them a second choice, but now I'm kind of glad that I did. They've really started to win me over, my hair no longer feels heavy or greasy after use, it feels soft, has some shine and actually looks a little healthier than it actually is. They are in no way comparable to John Frieda, but I will continue to use them. I could have waited until I'd finished them to write my review, but I wanted to get my opinions down in case anyone else had mixed feelings about them!

How Much Do They Cost?
£3.79 each for 400ml.

Where Are They Available?
L'Oreal products are sold in Boots, Superdrug, most major UK supermarkets and some pharmacies.

Would I Recommend Them?
I'm still undecided you know. I'm somewhat on the fence. I'm 50/50! As I said, I wasn't keen on these at first, but they have steadily grown on me, and I'm liking them more and more the closer I get to finishing them! I think I'd probably repurchase if they were on offer really cheap, but they definitely don't compare to my coveted John Frieda Sheer Blonde products.

Star Rating: 

Disclaimer: I pilfered these from my Mum's bathroom cabinet, but don't worry, she's not pressing charges, and all words and opinions are my own.

NOTD: No7 'Beautifully Black'

 No 7 Stay Perfect Nail Colour - Pigment Rich Colour
Beautifully Black

Boots are, once again, giving away their £5 No7 vouchers, with any purchase over £5.00. My normal purchase during these promos are the 'Quick Thinking 4 in 1 Wipes' (which I'm yet to review, tut tut), however, given my current collection of back ups stands at 7 packets, I decided to spend my voucher on (another) nail polish instead. The No7 Stay Perfect Nail Colour polishes retail for £7.00 (as do the wipes), therefore with your £5 voucher, you'll only pay £2.00 - bargain!

I've a few No7 polishes in my collection, and I'm always pretty pleased with the formulation and longevity of them, although I tend to paint my nails every 2/3 days so I'm not overly bothered by how durable they are. They have a really nice range of shades too, there's a pretty teal colour I have my eye on should another voucher come my way!

This particular formula is 'pigment rich' in colour, and has a 'quick drying ultra gloss finish'. It's an intense black, packed full with really delicate glitter particles. The glitter is really finely milled, leaving a perfectly smooth and extra glossy finish. For what it's worth it did dry pretty fast too, although I did need to use 3 coats until the colour became totally opaque.

I'm a little bit in love with this nail polish. I'm a big fan of black nails anyway, but extra sparkle can never be a bad thing! I can see me wearing this a lot this autumn/winter.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

NOTD: Nails Inc 'Plum'

As the name would have you believe, this offering from Nails Inc is a beautiful deep, plummy purple. I failed to capture the true colour in these photos, but this is the best I could do, so am offering them up for your perusal regardless. It's definitely picking up as more of a deep magenta shade of pink, with a hint of purple, rather than a deep purple with a hint of plum! Alas, you win some, you lose some.

The photographs above, in order are: top left - natural daylight, no flash; top right - natural daylight with flash against a white background; bottom - natural daylight with flash against a darker background. Apologies for the polish on my cuticles, as you can tell I had literally just painted my nails!

This really is such a beautiful shade, and again, it emphasises my love for purples on my nails and is yet another perfect accompaniment to autumn. This shade was limited edition, and released with the initial Diet Coke and Nails Inc collaboration. I have now gone through my nail polish collection, and it's obvious I have one clear winner in the colour categories - numerous variations of purple!

I've a question for fellow nail polish addicts...what is your personal recommendation for top coats? I really need some help to prevent the tips chipping so soon after application (we're talking in less than 24 hours).

Friday, 28 October 2011

A Review: Radox Bath Smoothies

Radox Bath Smoothies
Soul Soother, Spirit Booster & Tropical Tranquillity

What Do I Think?
You may remember my post from some time ago about the Radox Shower Smoothies, which I really loved using, so when I heard about Radox's latest offering of their smoothie delights, in a bubbly bath formula, obviously I wanted in on the action. Essentially, the concept is the same, a lovely thick and creamy formulation, that creates mountains of bubbles, and smells delicious, with 'flavours' that literally sound good enough to drink - but don't! These are available in three different 'flavours': Soul Soother with cranberry, blackcurrant and chamomile; Spirit Booster with pomegranate, elderberries and natural yoghurt; and Tropical Tranquillity with almond, coconut and myrrh. The descriptions on the front of the bottle conjure up enticing mental images of the perfect bath - indulgent, pampering and luxurious. I have really enjoyed bathing with these products (not all at once, that would be bubbletastic), they produce a serious amount of bubbles, although I do find that a lot of the product 'blobs out' (technical term) at once, so I don't think these will be the most cost effective or economical of bubble baths. The scents are heavenly, in the bottle, however the only one that actually transferred noticeably to the bubbles, and lingered on my skin, was the Tropical Tranquillity. Luckily, with it's musky scents of almond and coconut, this is the one I'd naturally gravitate towards, and as a bonus my skin felt lovely and soft afterwards too.

How Much Do They Cost?
£2.99 for 250ml.

Where Are They Available?
Boots, Superdrug and selected supermarkets.

Would I Recommend Them?
As I said, I've really enjoyed using these products, and they definitely make bath time fun and deliciously scented, but I do have to 'mark them down' slightly for the amount of product that needs to be used each time. I'd probably only pick these up if I noticed they were on offer, but I think they are definitely worth a try.

Star Rating:

*Disclaimer: These products were sent to me for review purposes, but as ever, all views, words and opinions are my own and I am in no way affiliated with Radox.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Afternoon Delight

Not *that* sort of afternoon delight...if that's what you were thinking! 

What could be better than an afternoon spent baking yummy treats with friends? Well, technically a friend and my sister, but my sister is my best friend...I digress. The ever lovely Lydia came to visit my little family again this week, and of course a spot of afternoon baking was on the agenda. Armed with recipes and chocolate chips in abundance, we set about making the biggest, but most delicious smelling, mess in my kitchen. Feast your eyes upon our delectable treats...

 Triple chocolate chip brownies 

You need:
 275g soft margarine (we used unsalted butter)
375g caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
75g cocoa powder
100g plain flour  
100g chocolate chips (we just chucked a load of chocolate chips, giant white chocolate buttons and chunks of milk chocolate in!)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (I'd suggest perhaps 160ºC if you've a decent fan oven), and grease a roasting tin well. Literally put all of the ingredients into a large bowl, and mix until everything is really well combined. You could use a food mixer if you were being extra lazy! Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, have a quick check, then return to oven for 20 mins or until a skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Allow the brownies to cool in the tin, if you can wait that long, and cut into whatever size squares you wish. Best served hot from the oven with a delicious scoop of cold ice cream.

Oat chocolate chip cookies

You need:
250g soft butter (cubed)
150g soft brown sugar
150g self raising flour
225g porridge oats
100g (ish!) chocolate chips
3 handfuls of dessicated coconut
Preheat the over to 180ºC (again, perhaps 160ºC if you're using a fan oven), and line 3/4 baking trays with greaseproof paper. Add the butter and sugar to a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy (you could use a hand held mixer to make this easier if you wish). Add in the remaining ingredients (perhaps leave your chocolate until last), and mix super duper well, ensuring everything is well combined. Then roll your sleeves up and get stuck in with your hands for a good old mix up. Once you're done (don't forget to add in the chocolate) roll chunks into roughly golf ball sizes, then squish onto the baking trays. Leave a decent gap in between each cookie to allow for expansion when baking. Pop into the oven and bake for approx. 15-20 minutes, until the cookies begin to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack...if you can resist pinching a couple to eat whilst still warm that is!

We've had a wonderful couple of days with Lydia, and my sister too when she joined us today, and although I think Jamie (and Zumba!) really wore Lydia out, it was great fun! I love having friends to visit. I thought I'd also share the recipe for the experimental dinner I concocted last night. I wanted to make my own tomato and mascarpone pasta sauce, in the hope of finding another potential quick and easy 'lazy' supper. I also added in some diced chorizo, which could easily be left out or added at the last minute if you didn't want an overly chorizo flavoured sauce. Essentially, all you need is one 500g jar/carton of passata, one tub of mascarpone sauce, one bag of fresh basil, some finely chopped onions and garlic, diced chorizo (chicken would also work nicely) and whatever pasta you fancy. I simply fried the onion and garlic in a splosh of olive oil, added in the chorizo and passata, decided to use the entire tub of mascarpone cheese, so just mixed that through and threw in some chopped fresh basil at the end. Job done. Simples!

Disclaimer: Credit for the baking recipes goes to my Mummy, who sadly isn't an acclaimed cookery book writer, but in my eyes she should be!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

NOTD: OPI Senorita Rose-Alita

 OPI Nail Lacquer
Señorita Rose-Alita

I'm probably going to inundate you with NOTD posts over the next few weeks, as I establish which polishes I want to keep in my collection and which ones I don't! This polish is probably more spring/summer in terms of a seasonal shade, but rules are meant to be broken, and I always like to mix it up with colour on my nails.

This is a gorgeous bright pink shade, shot through with a golden shimmer. I believe this was originally released with the 'Mexico' collection, but it's available on the OPI website so I believe it's been added to their main collection.

The above photograph on the right was taken in sunlight, but the flash went off too, the photograph on the right was taken in natural light with the flash on.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

NOTD: Nails Inc Belgravia

 Nails Inc London

Yet another great autumnal shade, this is a purpley brown colour, with subtle shimmers running through it*. I like how in some lights this is more purple, and in other lights it is definitely more brown, I like how versatile it is. I think this compliments my fair skin really nicely, and it fits in perfectly with my love for both purples and dark nails. 

I think I may have said before, but I really used to dislike Nails Inc polishes, but have been a fairly recent convert to them of late. At £10.50 they are on the pricey side, but almost they are so frequently freebies with magazines or other product promotions, such as Diet Coke (my personal favourite collaboration), which actually makes them pretty accessible and affordable!

I used to find that Nails Inc polishes chipped horrendously on me, but either my nails or the formulation has changed, because I now find them really durable. They go on really smoothly, although the brush is quite thin, and are always great with two coats. I probably have more Nails Inc polishes than any other brand now!

*Enlarging the photos may provide better detail

Friday, 21 October 2011

A Review: Clinique Super City Block SPF40

Clinique Super City Block SPF40
Oil-free daily face protector 
What Do I Think?
Admittedly, I'm probably publishing this review at the wrong time of year, for my UK readers at least, unless you happen to be jetting off for some winter sun somewhere exotic! However, SPF isn't something that should just be thought about in the warmer months, and this is a product I've been using for over a year, but have just never gotten around to writing about. Now, let us not beat about the bush here, I am very fair skinned, probably verging on Eskimo, I burn very easily, so wearing SPF, particularly on my face, is essential, a no brainer. I've used both the SPF 25 and the SPF 40 version of City Block, and other than the actual sun protection factor, the main difference between the two is the colour - the SPF 25 is akin to the shade of a tinted moisturiser, but with very sheer coverage, whereas the SPF 40 has a slightly whiter finish. I don't find that the white noticeably lightens my skin, so to me this is not an issue, but worth mentioning all the same. Just a quick line about the 'science stuff', this protects against UVA and UVB rays, is 100% fragrance free and is suitable for all skin types. This does make my oily skin a little oilier, but it's something I am prepared to endure if it means I am well protected from the suns harmful rays, and in the grand scheme of things, it's no big deal. I apply it after my moisturiser but before any concealer or foundation, regardless of the SPF contained in any products applied thereafter. I can honestly say I have NEVER got sunburnt when wearing this, which is probably the best proof I can give you in this review. So, you can believe me when I say, this stuff works.

How Much Does It Cost?
This retails at £15.50 for 40ml of product. You can also pick up smaller sample sizes (I got mine from eBay, but please do buy sensibly and from trusted sellers).

Where Is It Available?
Clinique products are stocked instore and online at Boots, and also in most major UK department stores.

Would I Recommend It?
If like me, protecting your skin from the sun is not only sensible but essential, this product really is a life saver. It lasts a really long time so isn't actually that expensive in the long term, and I really would recommend it. The ONLY thing I would change about this would be to take away the extra oiliness it gives my skin, but as I said above, I'm prepared to deal with that.

Star Rating:

Disclaimer: The tube of this I am using now was very kindly donated to me by my lovely Mummy, who herself prefers the SPF 25 version. As aforementioned, I was previously using a sample sized tube, purchased (with care) from eBay. As always, all words and opinions are my own. I am, quite obviously, affiliated with my Mum, but neither of us are affiliated with Clinique ;)

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

A Review: Soap & Glory 'Some Like It Hot'

Soap & Glory 'Some Like It Hot'
Body softening thermal scrub

What Do I Think?
My lovely, lovely friend (who I won't name, but she knows who she is!) sent me this tube of lovely, scrubby goodness as part of my birthday gift back in July, and I squealed with delight when I unwrapped it! I'm a mahoosive Soap & Glory fan, as you all well know, and after pinching a little bit of my sisters when showering at my parents once, it was definitely on my wish-list. Essentially, it's a thermal body scrub, simply meaning once you start to rub it into your skin you activate the Thermineralsand release the heat - perfect for those cold winter mornings. On initial application this is actually pretty toasty warm, but not in a burning or unpleasant way I hasten to add - no scalds occurring here! The heat, for me, wore off pretty quickly, but regardless of the thermal aspect, this scrub is insanely effective, and an absolute pleasure to use. It smells gorgeous - amongst the ingredients you will find two sugars, macadamia oil, vanilla seeds, aloe vera and even white sand grains. It's just the right type of scrub too, not too harsh or abrasive, it immediately smooths and softens the skin, leaving it as soft guessed babies bottom! Now, I do have one big bugbear about this, and that is how quickly I used it up. For the price, it means it's quite an expensive product if you're going to be using it on a regular basis, however the effects are admittedly worth it. I used mine once a fortnight and it only lasted me two months. As a final note, an odd thing I noticed about this scrub, a side effect if you like, was that it left a milky looking residue on my nails if they had been freshly painted. The scrub itself does have a slightly milky consistency, so this isn't completely out of the ordinary, but worth mentioning!

How Much Does It Cost?
This retails at £7.92 for 200ml of product.

Where Is It Available?
Soap & Glory products in the UK are stocked instore and online at Boots and Harvey Nichols. 

Would I Recommend It?
Completely and utterly yes, as a slightly indulgent, but well worth it, pampering purchase, this is AH-MAY-ZING!

Star Rating:

Sunday, 16 October 2011

NOTD: OPI 'Glove You So Much'

 OPI Nail Lacquer
'Glove You So Much'

This is such a PERFECT shade for autumn, I can't believe I've never worn this before (oh the shame, I feel a collection de-clutter coming on). This is a gorgeous red/maroon/wine shade, with shimmer shot through it, and just looking at it is reminiscent of snuggling up, all cosy and warm, on a chilly autumn evening. I also think this could be a potentially perfect Christmas manicure or pedicure shade.

The (above) photograph on the left was taken in natural daylight, you might even be able to tell there was sun streaming through the window, and the (above) photograph on the right was taken inside using the flash. There is a slight drag near the cuticle on some of my nails, but I think this is more an effect of my slightly haphazard application rather than the actual polish. I don't find that OPI polishes wear that well on me, the longevity seems to differ from shade to shade, and I do already have some chipping along the tips of my nails, after less than 24 hours.

For those interested, I believe that this shade was from the OPI Holiday Wishes collection, released in 2009, and I'm glad I've found (yet another) perfect transitional shade for autumn and winter. 

Friday, 14 October 2011

A Fabulously Glamorous Affair

A very fabulous friend of mine is due to wed her sweetheart in January 2012, and every fabulous bride needs an equally fabulous celebration of said impending nuptials. Keen to arrange something reflective of her love for glamour, her three bridesmaids booked up a 'Bride to Be Tea Party' in London last weekend. 

Upon our arrival in central London we headed to St. Pauls for afternoon tea at the fabulous Bea's of Bloomsbury. There was a mouth wateringly delicious array of mini savoury ciabattas, and (most importantly) a decadent display of cupcakes, brownies, scones and mini meringues. I can safely say everything I tasted* was delightful, melt in your mouth delicious, and I'd definitely go back! Although not a tea drinker myself, I was blown away by the impressive amount of tea choices on the menu, it almost made me want to convert! 

Afternoon tea at Bea's of Bloomsbury in St.Pauls, London

In true blogger style, we obviously stopped for a quick OOTD pose in front of the picturesque St. Pauls cathedral. Some bemused passers by spent a few moments trying to decipher if the Bride to Be was a celebrity or not!

The oh-so-glamorous Bride to Be

OOTD: Blazer, Top & Jeans all from Zara, Jewellery from Accessorize, Shoes from New Look and Bag from Peach

Taking a break from being glamorous! It's hard work dontcha know!

After getting ourselves thoroughly glammed up for the evening, we headed into Soho for dinner. Now, I'm not a Londoner AT ALL, and the mere thought of the Tube/public transport brings me out into a cold sweat, but I think I fared pretty well - doubly well considering how many we went on! We even encountered some Zombie's on our journey, not something I ever thought I'd say!  

Whit whoo! What a fabulous frock!

OOTN: Dress from River Island, Blazer from Zara, Shoes from Dorothy Perkins (I wish I'd worn different shoes now though), Clutch from Oasis, Bracelets & Earrings from Warehouse and Necklace from Accessorize 

Dinner was at the fabulous Kettners Restaurant & Champagne Bar, where the food, atmosphere and décor were just sublime. I ordered the Risotto Prima Vera, although sadly I barely made a dent in it, because Mother Nature had cruelly decided to descend a sickness bug of some sort upon me the evening beforehand. From what I did eat, it was utterly delicious, full of delicate flavours and very filling. I thought the menu was extremely well priced, considering the upmarket surroundings, it was really very reasonable (especially for London). 

Considering I was feeling AWFUL, I think I scrubbed up OK!

 I think it was safe to say she thoroughly enjoyed herself!

Despite me feeling very unwell for the duration of the day, I still had a fabulous time, and it made a welcome (brief) departure from the not so glamorous day to day life of a Stay at Home Mummy! The bridesmaids did an excellent job of organising the weekend, the company was fantastic and I had a superb time. If only every weekend could be that glamorous...

Disclaimer: All words and images are my own, and in this instance, I think my overuse of the word fabulous is perfectly fitting, don't you?! I've obviously not included all of the photos from the day so as to protect the non bloggers identities.
* The ladies kindly saved me a selection of afternoon delights to take home, given that my stomach on the day really wasn't up to much cake eating.

A Review: Maybelline One by One Mascara

 Maybelline One by One
Volum' Express Mascara

What Do I Think?
I purchased this on a whim really, with no expectations or preconceptions, other than knowing I've had an on/off relationship with many new Maybelline mascaras over the years. As I've mentioned in previous mascara reviews, I have naturally long and straight lashes, so I tend to look for the ability to hold curl and volume rather than add extra length. This offering from Maybelline claims to make lashes 4 times bigger, providing "clean, clump-free volume". I'm not sure how a mascara is supposed to make a thin little eyelash look 4 times bigger, so to me this claim is utterly ludicrous, and in reality I don't think it actually does add any volume whatsoever (aside from coating the lash in a layer of product). It doesn't clump, that much I agree with, and it leaves my lashes nicely separated, for the most part, however I also find it leaves me with a slightly crunchy, spindly effect. It applies differently every single time, bizarrely enough, and as you can see from the above photograph, the right side looks significantly different to the left side! This inconsistency annoys me, so if I wanted really lovely lashes for an evening out, I wouldn't reach for this. The wand is quite proficient at grabbing hold of each individual lash, although I do find it a little on the large side, and I'll often blob this on the side of my nose when trying to coat the inner lashes. This mascara does irritate my eyes slightly, as has been the case with other Maybelline products previously, there's no redness but some minor itching does occur. Although this does all sound somewhat negative, I have been using this mascara a lot, and it performs as a bog standard day-to-day product.

How Much Does It Cost?
This is currently retailing at £8.49 in Boots (UK), and at the time of writing this there is currently a 2 for £12.00 on selected Maybelline products.
Where Is It Available?
Maybelline products are sold in most UK drugstores and supermarkets and from various online stockists.

Would I Recommend It?
I won't be repurchasing this personally, but that's not to say I wouldn't recommend it. For my lashes, and my budget, there are definitely mascaras I would prefer to purchase, but I think for people with shorter lashes this could be perfect.
Star Rating:

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Spotlight On: Bio-Oil + Skin Stories


Bio-Oil is somewhat of a cult product, in my mind, and for me was the obvious weapon of choice in both the potential prevention and cure for stretch marks once I became pregnant (I also used Palmers Cocoa Butter). Essentially, this product is an oil that you simply apply to problem areas, such as stretch marks or scarring, or areas you wish to keep soft and supple, improving the overall condition of the skin in that area. It has been clinically proven to work, although, as with most things, results will vary from person to person. Sadly, stretch marks are something you are genetically predisposed to, i.e. you'll either get them, or you won't. I got them. It's obviously not just pregnancy that can cause stretch marks, for example, they can occur during puberty, or following dramatic weight loss/gain, in both females and males. According to research carried out by the tech people behind Bio-Oil, 43% of woman in the UK have stretch marks, and for 1 in 5 women, those marks have a negative impact upon what they choose to wear.

If you head over to the Bio-Oil Facebook page, you'll see the launch of their new 'Skin Stories' campaign, where people can share their own personal skin stories, in the hope that their experiences will bring a source of comfort and perhaps confidence to others in a similar position. There will also be celebrities sharing their stories, and expert healthcare advice on hand too. A campaign like this speaks volumes to me, for if there is one thing that is obvious from the popularity of a product like Bio-Oil, it's that we are certainly not alone, and every body has a story! As an extra bonus, Bio-Oil will be donating £1 to the British Skin Foundation for every story shared.

I'm more than happy to share my skin story with you all, because, no matter how much I might dislike the aesthetic appearance of my stretch marks and scars, they tell the tale of the biggest journey my body has been on, that of becoming a Mother. I carried my son for over 40 weeks of pregnancy, I grew him from a tiny Nugget (kudos if you remembered that was the nickname!) into the beautiful boy he was when he was born. I endured every single thing that pregnancy and labour had to offer, good and bad, knowing that at the end of the arduous journey, Colin and I would get the very best gift of all. I don't think pregnancy was entirely kind to my body, and as aforementioned, I was left with a stomach riddled with stretch marks, and a C-Section scar. It's not only my stomach that bore the brunt of the markings though, they travelled down onto my thighs, the backs of my knees, my boobs and even my underarms! On a day to day basis, I admit I look at my stretch marks and sigh, for they have impacted on my (already pretty low) confidence, and I do wish they weren't there...however, given the choice, I'd have them all and more again, because this little man is WELL worth it!

Bio Oil is available nationwide, prices and sizes vary (online stockists, such as Amazon are often significantly cheaper). I really hope this campaign helps people to open up and share their skin stories too, after all, what is there to be ashamed of?

*Disclaimer: I was contacted by the PR for Bio-Oil regarding the Skin Stories campaign, and received a bottle of the product for review purposes in conjunction with the launch of the Facebook campaign. However, I did already use Bio-Oil, and as ever, all words, opinions and stretch marks are 100% my own. The Skin Stories campaign will run until Christmas 2011.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

NOTD: Topshop 'Eyes of Steel'

 NAILS, Topshop
Eyes of Steel

This is a really tricky shade to photograph accurately, but hopefully the picture I've chosen does it's beauty some justice. I've never previously tried any of the Topshop beauty offerings - my local only stocks a very minimal amount of products, and as someone who rarely visits the store, they've been somewhat off of my radar. This polish retails for £6.00, although I think their other polishes are £5.00, and is (obviously) available from Topshop.

Whilst browsing in Westfield, London, this past weekend I was drawn, like a moth to a flame, to this beautiful metallic, shimmery purple/steel shade. Written down, in black and white, it embodies everything I dislike in a nail polish, but it is, quite simply, the most beautiful shade I've ever come across. It was a dream to apply, very smooth, and barely required the second coat I applied out of habit. It dried very quickly, and after 24 hours is already wearing much better than any other polish of it's genre I've tried before. It's the type of shade that keeps willing me to stare at my nails, and just so happens to compliment my hastily picked outfit today perfectly!

There were SO many other gorgeous shades on offer, and I lusted after many, but sadly could only allow myself this one indulgent purchase. I will happily wear this throughout all four seasons, on both my fingers and toes.

Have you tried anything from the Topshop beauty line? What are your favourite products?

Recipe: Curry in a Hurry (Nigella Lawson)

I obviously can take no credit for this recipe whatsoever, I don't profess to be anywhere close to the domestic goddess that is Nigella, but I really enjoyed this meal, so I couldn't not share it! It's great for those evenings where you want something yummy, but are pressed for time/energy.

You will need:
2 x 15ml tablespoons wok oil
3 x 15ml tablespoons spring onions, finely chopped
3-4 x 15ml tablespoons green Thai curry paste
1kg chicken thigh fillets, cut into strips about 4 x 2cm
1 x 400ml can coconut milk
250ml boiling water enough chicken stock concentrate or cube for 500ml water
1 x 15ml tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)
185g frozen peas
200g frozen soya beans
150g frozen fine beans
3 x 15ml tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped (I only had dried)
I served my curry with Thai rice, but you could use whatever you wish.

Heat the wok oil in a large saucepan that owns a lid, drop in the spring onions and cook, stirring for a minute or two, then add the curry paste. Add the chicken pieces and keep turning over heat for 2 minutes, before adding the coconut milk, stock (i.e. the water plus stock concentrate or cube) and fish sauce, then the frozen peas and soya beans. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the frozen fine beans to the mix and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Serve with rice or noodles, sprinkling the coriander over as you do so.
What is your favourite 'in a hurry' or curry recipe? What is your 'go to' dish when you're pressed for time?