Wednesday 27 April 2016

Spring favourites...

Now and again I like to bring you an overview of the products I like at present. Spring is in the air, the days are getting longer and the sun is shining (sometimes!) so I wanted to give you a little round-up of all the things I have been loving lately. I was recently sent some goodies by Batiste* to try out, their Sweetie edition is a gorgeous summery and sweet dry shampoo which smells good enough to eat and gives my hair plenty of volume. I also love the new Batiste Marrakech edition, which is as exotic as you would imagine with a mysterious and seductive scent. Dry shampoo is definitely one of my ‘hair heroes’ and I reach for it even when I have just washed my hair to add volume, or between washes to refresh my hair. Speaking of hair, I have also been loving Garnier ultimate blends ‘the marvellous transformer’ conditioner, which has Argan and Camelia oil in it. My hair is dry at the ends due to my obsession with ombre, so for an intensive treat I always resort to my all-time favourite conditioner, L’Oreal full restore 5 masque, which makes my hair smooth and glossy. 

I was in Lush one day stocking up on some bath bombs, when I saw their charity pots for sale. I just had to buy one of these handy little pots which is filled with hand and body lotion and is the perfect size to carry with you all day. The proceeds go to charity too, which makes this purchase even more worthwhile. I went to a great Charlotte Tilbury event recently and I was lucky enough to take home a bag of treats including the magic eye rescue cream which I love. It is a rich cream which is easily absorbed and has done wonders for the dryness I have under my eyes. Marks and Spencers is a hidden gem when it comes to beauty goodies, and I love the Maison de Senteurs eau de parfum I bought there, which is a soft and sweet fragrance with citrus fruits. No matter the season, I am always obsessed with candles and I even light them during the day when I am working from home. The cotton lily candle was one I bought in Primark recently and I love the soft and delicate fragrance. 

I love wearing lipstick and lipgloss during the day, but at night when I take my make up off I apply lip butter and I love the Nivea coconut lip butter at the moment. On the subject of moisturiser, Garnier skin active moisture bomb is a new favourite of mine. This light gel cream has antioxidants and pomegranate and it sinks into skin rapidly, providing a good base for make up.I do not like the hassle of a body moisturiser which takes an age to absorb, so I love my recent discovery of this Superdrug all over spray on Vitamin E body lotion. It sinks right in to my skin instantly and I am good to get dressed and go. Burt’s Bees is a brand I love and at night I like to apply their almond milk and beeswax hand cream which leaves my hands feeling so soft.

Vita Coco* recently  sent me some of their range to try out. I was already addicted to their natural coconut water as I find that it is so refreshing and hydrating when you are on the go. I have to confess that I do have a sweet tooth and I often want to indulge in some chocolate especially in the evening after a long day. I had not tried the Vita Coco pure coconut water with chocolate before I received the samples, and now I have definitely discovered a new obsession! This is the perfect drink to satisfy a chocolate craving, whilst doing you good at the same time. So next time I am craving a block of chocolate I will be reaching for one of these instead! I also love their 100% raw coconut oil, which is cold pressed to retain the goodness. This can be used as a moisturiser, hair conditioner, cooking oil or even just as a spread on toast. Talk about multi-purpose!

What do you all think, have you tried any of these products or would you like to try any? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



Items marked with * were samples sent to me for review purposes. Opinions expressed herein are my own.

Sunday 24 April 2016

Dinner at The Refinery Liverpool...

Word of a new restaurant opening is something which always puts a smile on my face, so I was eager to check out The Refinery which is a social eating house and bar which has recently opened on Hope Street in Liverpool. The spacious venue has a sweeping bar area which gives way to a light and bright eating space and kitchen beyond. High ceilings, feature rope lighting, Moroccan style floor tiles and large windows contribute to a welcoming aesthetic.
We tucked in to an artisan bread selection with olive oil and aged balsamic as we settled in and had a thorough look at the menu which comprises small plates ideal to share as well as larger plates.

A major plus point to The Refinery is that brunch is served from 8am until 3pm daily, which means that you can still enjoy going out for brunch even if you have not had an early start. This for me is a major draw, as I love to sleep in on the weekend yet I still like to go out to brunch when possible!
I settled on cask ale battered fish and hand cut chips served with mushy peas and tartare sauce and we ordered a bottle of chilled prosecco as well as a Brewdog beer for my dining companion.

I just love fish and chips and I found the presentation of this dish so pleasing to the eye, served on an oblong plate with fresh lemon and little dishes containing the mushy peas and tartare sauce.

The cask ale batter was crispy and golden and the fish beneath was white and flaky whilst the hand cut chips were some of the best I have ever eaten. The smooth tartare with a hit of capers and the mushy peas made this the perfect fish supper, plated in a fine dining style. It felt like a real treat, washed down with the Villa Domaziano Prosecco, which had a hint of apple and a soft finish.
My dining companion opted for a board of San Daniele Prosciutto, Iberico chorizo, Tuscan fennel salami, buffalo mozzarella bocconcini, Sardinian pecorino, pickled vegetables, Nocellara olives, caper berries and artisan bread. This generous selection of finely cut meats was well balanced with the bread and cheese, and the pickled vegetables provided a surprisingly spicy tang. There was so much flavour piled on to the board, which would be great to share along with a couple of small plates.

 He also enjoyed a side of chunky hand cut chips served with a thick and delicately spiced curried aioli.

We chose two desserts to share, baked Corsican cheesecake with candied lemons and strawberry coulis alongside churros with cinnamon sugar, vanilla ice cream and chilli chocolate sauce. 

This was the ideal choice of desserts as the hot fluffy churros with chilli chocolate sauce were so indulgent and contrasted perfectly with the zesty flavour of the baked Corsican cheesecake.
My dining companion sipped a double espresso whilst I settled back with the last of the Prosecco, enjoying the vibrant atmosphere of the bustling space.

What a relaxing evening, service was top notch throughout and the food was delicious. Our trip to The Refinery was a great way to unwind after a hectic week. I really like the idea of combining a bar and restaurant serving both small and large plates, with the ethos of a sociable venue at the heart of the concept. There is a fashionable feel to the place, with so much to offer on the menu from brunch until late, from Sunday Roasts to Prosecco and small plates. I can see this will become a favourite of mine too, as I often have a working lunch alone with my laptop and I can see this would be just the place for that, with views of city life passing by at any time of day. There are some tempting offers too, such as two cocktails for £9 daily from 5pm until 6.30pm as well as lunchtime and pre-theatre offers.

The Refinery 
Josephine Butler Building,
Hope Street Liverpool
L1 9BP

What do you all think, do you like the idea of a bar restaurant based around a social eating and drinking venue and which of these dishes would you like to sample? As always, I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post. 

Until next time,



Saturday 23 April 2016

Cocktails at The Botanist Chester...

It is no secret that I love cocktails (oops!) so I was pleased to head over to The Botanist Chester to taste their new cocktail menu this week. I love Chester and I really like The Botanist for both food and cocktails, against a cool and quirky plant-themed backdrop.

After a warm welcome, we started the evening with tangy homemade lemonade which made me think of sitting on a porch on a balmy evening. Yes, roll on summer! Luke, who was hosting the masterclass for the evening was so knowledgeable about mixology,  ingredients and the history of cocktails. I was impressed. He explained that two weeks of extensive training take place for each bartender, which is demonstrated in their knowledge.

We had a choice of of watering can cocktails as our next drink, based on whether we preferred vodka, gin or rum. My first choice of rum, cherry and thyme was a good one, with a sweetness which was irresistible. Fruits were muddled before our eyes as Luke expertly mixed the creations, whilst regaling us with spirit stories. 

The cocktail menu has been completely reinvented and for some of the drinks we were given a choice between the old and new recipes. The new blueberry and passionfruit martini was sophisticated with plenty of irresistible flavour, an ideal summer drink. 

The blackberry and mint julep conjured up the best of summer and autumn in one glass, with sweet and sharp notes which worked well together. 

The pear and kiwi crush was a glass of fun with a tropical feel and garnish of fresh kiwi, I could just imagine sipping these long into the evening during summer barbecues and outdoor dinner parties.

The lemon balm tini was a resounding hit with everybody with a citrus hit and a cool appearance; you could easily imagine Mr Bond himself propping up the bar with a few of these babies. 
This drink reminded me of a cocktail version of those lemon sherbet sweets... do you remember those...just me? Oh! 

You can never beat the classics, and I loved the cinnamon and oregano Old Fashioned, a new spin on a well-known cocktail which ticked every box. There is a timeless appeal to this cocktail which never fails to delight.

The Negroni is also an old favourite of mine, so I was glad to see that put in an appearance on the menu, in the form of a rosemary Negroni which again was an exciting new angle on a classic. 

One of my favourite drinks of the night was the imaginative Thai chilli crush, with a punchy level of spice (customised to our spice preference) I loved this drink, the like of which I had never tried before. I had never imagined a spicy cocktail could work, but work it did and in spades. Fiery perfection.

It was a great evening and the new cocktails went down a storm with all of the guests. the new cocktail menu at The Botanist has spared no attention to detail, with a new spin on every type of drink included alongside non-alcoholic varieties. Thanks to The Botanist for inviting me to this event. What do you all think, do you like cocktails and which of these would you choose to try first?

The Botanist
13 St Werburgh St, 

As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post. until next time,



Wednesday 20 April 2016

Make up masterclass with Elle B...

I love make-up so much and the power it has to transform and make me feel ready for what the day may bring. I have several bulging make-up bags at home and I always feel much more confident when I am wearing make-up. Nevertheless I tend to stick to the same make-up routine most days, so I definitely felt in need of learning a few new ideas and I was happy to be invited along to a Masterclass event recently held by the make-up artist Elle B with Chic Events at 60 Hope Street in Liverpool. 

I arrived fashionably late (luckily only by a couple of minutes) and I took my seat where a cupcake, glass of champagne and luxury goody bag awaited me. There was also a notebook and pen at each place setting so that we could make notes during the course of the evening.
Elle had already started to apply make-up to Sophia, her first model of the evening. She talked us through all of the steps in detail, including what products she was using and also the techniques, which was so useful as I have to confess I just apply my make up in a hurry! It was great to hear insider tips from a professional.

 Elle told us about how to use a beauty blender effectively (dampen it first!) and that starting off with light make-up and building it up is the key to eyebrows looking perfectly groomed. Elle was so informative and we all watched fascinated as she applied a stunning make-up look to Sophia, with bronze eyes, contouring and shimmer. Elle was trained by Mario, a professional make-up artist who has often worked with Kim Kardashian so she trained with the best. Elle does not use primer on her clients, I never use primer either so that was good to know! She uses Giorgio Armani foundation, Benefit Hula bronzer and several products by MAC, Charlotte Tilbury, Anastacia Beverly Hills, Tarte and Urban Decay. Elle also recommended Zoeva brushes, as a great range of brushes which are still affordable. There were many tips which I had not heard before, such as using bronzer as an eye shadow and applying concealer beneath the eyebrows. Sophia looked beautiful before, and her finished make-up look was simply gorgeous with soft and glowing elements which really complemented her fresh young skin, finished off with Charlotte Tilbury ‘Hepburn Honey’ lipgloss

The next model of the evening Rebecca was given a wearable look which featured an orange eye colour ‘red brick’ by MAC. I loved this statement eyeshadow look, which Elle explained is easily wearable as it complements most skin tones. 

The Masterclass lasted for three hours and we were given so many great tips by Elle. It was my first time seeing a professional make-up artist at work and it was such a pleasure to see her and pick up some useful knowledge of how to apply make up with such finesse.

What do you all think, have you ever attended a make-up masterclass and what products do you use everyday? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Follow Elle on Twitter @ellebmua and Instagram @ellebmakeup

Until next time, 



Tuesday 19 April 2016

Scene Indian Street Kitchen...

Scene Indian Street Kitchen in Manchester is a restaurant I have been hearing about often of late, so I was eager to dine there myself which I was lucky enough to do last week. We arrived on a chilly evening, but we were soon feeling cheerful as we were given a warm welcome and led to a window table overlooking the riverside outdoor terrace. The restaurant aesthetic is contemporary yet exotic, with soft lighting and cosy booths as well as an open kitchen where you can observe the chefs hard at work.

Over crispy poppadoms flavoured with delicate spices and a selection of chutneys, we perused the menu which had many familiar Indian favourites available alongside several chef’s specialities.

We were treated to an array of starters from the menu and the first one I sampled was Jingha Til Tinka, King prawns marinated with sesame oil and freshly ground spices, coated with breadcrumbs and fried until golden. These were a revelation, easily some of the most succulent and meaty prawns I have ever tasted and I loved the idea of this fusion dish, which combined Oriental influences with an Indian slant. 

We were also treated to Keema Kulcha, fresh naan bread stuffed with finely minced lamb, spices and coriander, a satisfying and hearty dish with subtle flavours. 

Crispy onion bhajis were irresistible, as was the samosa chaat filled with potato and chickpeas, and topped with yoghurt, mint and tamarind chutney. 

Chicken Tikka marinated in ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, turmeric & lime juice was succulent whilst charcoal grilled Lamb Chops were juicy and marinated in a tasty blend of spices.

For the main course I opted for Dhaba Murgh, tender pieces of chicken cooked in a thick sauce with spring onions, fresh coriander and traditional spices; an exquisite Punjabi dish which was so moreish.

I love naan bread, so I had to try the Cheese Kulcha, fresh naan bread stuffed with mild English cheese and coriander and baked in the tandoor. This was just divine and I found myself reaching over to tear off piece after piece of this pillow-soft cheese filled bread.

Laccha Paratha, an exotic layered bread enriched with butter and baked in the tandoor was equally melt in the mouth, and the buttery folds of bread went perfectly with our curries.

My dining companion enjoyed a Chicken Makhani, a creamy curry cooked with onions, tomatoes, sultanas, almonds, pineapple, fresh cream, butter and a selection of mild spices. This had so much exotic flavour and I could not resist sampling it more than once!

After such an amazing feast we decided to skip dessert, instead opting to soak up the relaxed surroundings, soft music and flickering candlelight in the busy restaurant. A big thank you to the team at Scene for such a wonderful evening. 

What do you all think, would you like to dine at Scene Indian Street Kitchen and which of these dishes would you choose? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Scene Indian Street Kitchen 
4a, Irwell St,
M3 3AN

Until next time,