June, 2013

Jun 13

Shopping With The New Westfield App

If you like shopping you’ll love the new Westfield revised app. Currently available on Apple only, it’s already had thousands of downloads and will soon be the only shopping companion you will ever need. I am serious – it’s that good! It’s truly unique and offers a highly intuitive personal experience for each user. It was a conscious decision to retain the existing framework and overlay this with the new design and features yet still retain the functionality of its previous version; something they have achieved really well.


The app homepage is set automatically between Westfield London and Westfield Stratford dependent on your location and the experience begins with a sample of 40 random brands available within the mall. This helps to build your ‘autograph’. You activate the system by scrolling along each brand and swoting. Yes, Swoting – pronounced “Swoe-ting”. Swoting is voting by a swipe action. You swipe up to indicate you like a brand and down to dislike. Once complete the system predicts, based on your choices, what shops, offers, food and drink you will be interested in and posts these on your own personal wall. It’s quite simply brilliant!


You can search for specific products, make a shopping list at home, en route or in the mall itself using the free WiFi. It will even advise you on transport routes to the mall. Should you want to buy a pair of red jeans it will list every shop in Westfield that sells them along with a variety of ways to make your purchase. Once there you can locate yourself based on the shop you are standing outside and get directions to your next five stores via the interactive map. It even includes an option for step free access.

You can also browse car parks and the total number of available spaces. You can even locate your car by tapping in your vehicle registration and it will give you directions!

18 months in the making has really paid off with an app the developers and Westfield can be truly proud of. And it’s free. Available for download now.

Jun 13

On Your Way to Body Beautiful

As Summer has been cancelled in the UK, if you’re after a bit of sun I suggest you head abroad. Exercise is essential to being bikini ready but there are lotions and potions that can help get you there that bit faster.

I’m currently using Perfect Cleavage Firming Lotion from this works and Get Waisted Body Shaper from Mama Mio.


Perfect cleavage firming lotion is an award-winning, nourishing blend of essential oils and plant extracts that helps rid your bust of fine lines and wrinkles and leave skin feeling firmer and more radiant.

It contains larch extract to firm and tighten; vitamin-rich algae, tonka bean and frankincense to reduce fine lines, as well as nourishing rose and pomegranate oils to plump and enhance the delicate skin on your neck and chest.

Get Waisted body shaping cream contains seven extracts from algae, rock samphire and guarana for detoxifying, stimulating and sculpting benefits in the areas most of us need it most; the tummy. Love handles, mummy tummy, muffin top; it’s something both men and women battle with.

Rub one pump of this award winning gel/cream hybrid into the area from below your boobs to as far down as you like for at least 30 seconds every day to not only aid digestion but to help, as the tube says ‘bust your gut’ and ‘rehab for abs’. It’s important to use it every day and for at least 30 seconds and while you won’t turn into a svelte supermodel overnight (I wish); you will have a softer, smoother, tighter tum. I am all over this product right now!

Get Waisted – £35
Perfect Cleavage Firming Lotion – £37

Jun 13

Nude Beauty from Estee Lauder

I’ve made no secret of my girl crush on Joan Smalls so this Estee Lauder campaign shot of her is nothing short of wonderful.


Photo courtesy of Estée Lauder

She reminds me of one of my best friends who was always told she should model so maybe that’s where my admiration comes from.

It’s not often that a company features a solo woman of colour in their marketing materials so bravo Estee Lauder! To get Joan’s perfect ‘barely-made-up-make-up’ look, they recommend the following products which I’ve used and love:


Invisible Powder Makeup
They say: “Invisible Makeup marks a new evolution in the development of foundation. A true innovation, the Invisible Makeup line delivers a veil of visible invisibility to every skin tone by working with each person’s natural undertones. Undertones are what give our skin its unique colour and dimension and this makeup allows skin’s undertones to come through. It provides the appearance of natural skin, but in a way that is luminous, natural and uniquely perfected.” Anne Carullo, Senior Vice President, Corporate Product Innovation, Estee Lauder.

I say: I’ve never been a big fan of compact foundation but this is lightweight, easily blendable and natural looking. It gives great coverage, evens out the skin tone and has staying power. I hate that masked, caked, ashy look some foundations give but the Invisible Powder compact foundation makes my skin look amazing and it’s portable so I can touch up if necessary during the day. I rarely need to (it lasts well) but it’s good to know I easily could if I wanted to.

Pure Colour Nail Lacquer French Nudes Collection
They say: “I chose these shades to suit every type of woman – her skin tone, her personality, her point of view” – Tom Pecheux, Creative Makeup Director, Estee Lauder

I say: Look at the range in its entirety; who wouldn’t one of these suit? It’s so hard to find a good nude for brown skins but Estee Lauder have one to suit you whether you are Nicole Richie, Alek Wek or somewhere in between. I love So Vain and Diabolique.

Pure Colour Stay-On Shadow Paint
They say: I wanted to experiment with texture and create a new way of playing with makeup. Pure Colour Stay-on Shadow Paints are great for mixing and are an especially easy way to apply makeup – there are infinite possibilities.” Tom Pecheux, Creative Makeup Director, Estee Lauder

I say: The paints have an almost mousse-like finish and are very easy to apply, have great lasting power and at the end of the day the colour is still strong and true. Wear alone, mix and match – these are a makeup bag staple.

What do you think of Estee Lauder’s use of Joan in this image?

Jun 13

A Weekend Trip To Staffordshire

I have to confess; before I arranged this trip ‘up north’ (yes, outside the M25) I wouldn’t have been able to locate Staffordshire on a map. Yes I’m one of those Londoners.

Well I’ve been missing out all these years because Staffordshire is lovely! We went over the bank holiday in May; the one where we actually had good weather!

We stayed at Best Western Stoke on Trent Moat House Hotel; a 4 star hotel (easily located off the M6) with 147 rooms and a bar, gym, pool, spa and most importantly, free WiFi. I can’t bear hotels that charge for WiFi.


We stayed on a B&B basis and breakfast was enormous. They had lots of options for folk like me who can’t eat gluten or dairy and staff were very helpful in catering to the dietary needs of a lactose intolerant 3 year old. The hotel grounds were very picturesque and wedding friendly; in fact there was one held every day we were there. Despite that, in our room we couldn’t hear dancing or any other shenanigans.

To get the most out of Staffordshire I recommend buying an Enjoy Staffordshire Thrill Hopper which gives entry to four attractions – Alton Towers, Drayton Manor, Waterworld and SnowDome.

Copy of Alton Towers Resort shot.jpg

Alton Towers

We started our weekend activities with a 15 minute drive from the hotel to Monkey Forest; an outdoor nature reserve set in 60 acres of woodland where 140 Barbary Macaques monkeys live in complete freedom. We saw them interacting (and arguing) with each other, grooming and feeding and there are guides dotted around the reserve to let you know what they are doing and why. The kids absolutely loved it.


Later that day we dressed up for Winter and braved the cold at SnowDome. An hour from the hotel, the dome offers something for all ages – snow play for small children (which is what we did) boarding, sledging, skiing, an ice-disco – there really is something for everyone. Typical that when it was 20 degrees plus outside we were sledging down mini slopes, but we all had great cold fun.

jnr tube at Snowdome

After another giant breakfast at the hotel the next morning, we made the five minute journey to the Emma Bridgewater Factory where we enjoyed a tour of the Victorian factory and their old school pottery making methods as well as a pot of tea in the charming café. If you book in advance (we didn’t) you can also decorate your own pottery which most kids (and adults) are going to love.

Emma Bridgewater Factory - Decorating Studio (Queen's Coronation)

I was pleasantly surprised by how much there is to do in Staffordshire and certainly recommend it as an idea destination for families and singles alike. It’s perfect for half term and we will certainly be back.

Rooms at Best Western start at £30 per person per night on a bed and breakfast basis. To book visit www.qmh-hotels.com.

Enjoy Staffordshire Thrill Hopper Family Ticket (two adults, two under 12s) – £170 granting one entry each to Alton Towers theme park, Drayton Manor theme park, Water World and the SnowDome.

Monkey Forest – adults £7.50, children (age 3-14) £5.50. Under 3s go free.

We were guests of enjoystaffordshire.com.

Jun 13

Courtside Beauty

Wimbledon is just over a week away now, so if you’re planning on heading south this year to watch the tournament live, it’s time to start thinking about beauty ideas for managing your courtside look. With the unpredictable British weather bringing both rain and sun in any 24-hour period, it’s wise to plan ahead and pack for all types of weather.

I’ll be joining ‘The Queue’ on Monday so thought I’d share a few tips of my own to help you out:

Whatever the weather (yes, even in the rain) you should ensure your day cream contains an SPF. Just because you can’t see the sun doesn’t mean it isn’t causing damage to your skin. Most good moisturisers contain an SPF, so if you’re particularly pale (or taking your children with you) look for a moisturiser with an SPF as high as 50. On the other hand, if your skin is naturally dark, opt for a cream with an SPF of 15. Remember, the skin around your eyes and on your lips is particularly sensitive, so it’s worth getting a product especially for these areas; two of my favourites are Murad Essential-C Eye Cream SPF 15 (£57/15ml) and Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Nourishing Lip Balm SPF 20 (£20/15ml).


With wind, rain and sun all forecast over the next seven days, it’s hard to predict what the weather will be on any given day at Wimbledon. But, it’s best to play it safe with a style that can work no matter what’s happening in the sky. There’s little point spending hours battling with a hairdryer and straighteners when one step outside could undo all of your hard work. Instead, work a key trend from the spring/summer 2013 London fashion shows – a chic up-do. Try a low looped chignon as seen at Chanel or a classic ponytail brought up to date with a headscarf, as seen at Dolce & Gabbana, or a sweeping fringe with a bow headband like the Louis Vuitton girls. With your hair off your face, make a statement with some chandelier earrings.


Make up
Spring usually brings to mind pastels and dewy finishes, but this season the catwalks were awash with beige, taupe and coffee. It’s that elusive ‘natural make up’ look we all want to master. Make the eyes the focal point of your face by lining them with thick, black kohl and using gold and copper eye shadow to create a natural looking smoky eye. This year, thick eyebrows have burst onto the beauty scene. If you want to work this into your natural look, I’ll let you in on a piece of advice I read on Super Savvy Me: focus on the natural shape of your eyebrows, not on the shape of your favourite celebrity’s eyebrows. As soon as you start to manipulate the whole shape of your eyebrows, you enter unnatural territory. Contour cheeks with a good sculpting cream before sweeping a light highlighter across the cheekbones. And here’s a good tip: to find the perfect nude, pull down your lower lip and look at the colour on the inner side – that colour is the perfect nude for you.


If that all sounds a little too plain for your taste, embrace the colour pop look from the Stella McCartney and Michael Kors catwalks. Make your look about eyes or lips – never both – and keep the rest of your face neutral. Make a statement with bright eyeliner or mascara (this season Chanel went with yellow, blue and magenta) or go for a bold matte lip in red, bright pink and even orange. This is not one for the colour shy!


My final tip is to take a statement bag large enough to fit a sunhat, an umbrella, some binoculars (in case you’re seated up in the rafters) and your obligatory sunglasses. If you see Nadal, send him my love!


3.1 Phillip Lim Pashli – £655.37
Bobbi Brown orange lipstick – £18
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics’ ‘Anime’ lip tar – £11.50
Alexander McQueen skull-print scarf – £165
Rayban aviators – £125
Burberry umbrella – £150
J crew earrings – £66
Oscar de la Renta ring – £145

*all catwalk pictures from vogue.co.uk*

Jun 13

A Treatment and Trim at Eleven Hair

Tucked away behind Bond Street station, Eleven Hair is a mid-sized and charming hair salon. My hair was in desperate need of a trim so I popped along to see how comfortable the stylists would be working on afro hair.

I started with a consultation with my stylist Russell. We discussed my hair routine, what my ideal hair type is and what I wanted from my visit. During our discussion he gave me a really useful tip for tonging hair: put your hair in two ponytails and only tong the ends. Run fingers through the tonged ends to loosen and you’ll have wavy hair from mid ends. Wear your hair down and as the week progresses and curls drop wear in a side pony and a messy fluffy fishtail braid when the curls have dropped out. Such a brilliant idea!

We washed my hair with Joico K Pak repairing shampoo to repair and rejuvenate damaged coloured tresses. I then had a wonderful head massage while the assistant worked in Joico Hydrating Masque to hydrate and nourish dry hair.


After conditioning, she sprayed Joico leave in moisturiser for dry hair then worked thru Joico Colour Therapy restorative styling gel which has more argan oil and protein lipids than Moroccanoil. She finished with Sculpting Lotion (good for fine hair) mixed with Smoothing Lotion to smooth without making my hair too flat. We were going for springy and elastic strands.

I had Russell and an assistant blow dry my hair and dampen sections as they dried out. As each section dried he made it into a pin curl to add body and light waves/bends. At the end he’d done such a good job he didn’t need to go over again with straightening irons; always a sign of a good blow dry.

I sometimes wonder if treatments are anything more than glorified conditioners but the next time I washed my hair I could really feel the difference. It felt thicker and stronger and I can only put it down to the Joico treatment.

I think Eleven Hair is best suited to Caucasian hair and girls with thick curly hair. When it comes to afro hair I think is best for those with mixed race and hair up to maybe 3 A-C. If you have hair that’s 4 A-C I think they might struggle to straighten it but go along for a consultation first either way.

I felt like they really cared about the condition and health of my hair and after a much-needed trim I came out with swingy happy hair.


The end result

Eleven Hair
11 Blenheim St

Jun 13

Bumble and Bumble Grooming Creme

I love that undone, matte, beachy mussed up hair look that girls with Caucasian hair seem to easily pull off but I’ve never been able to quite get the look on my own tresses. Even when my hair is blow dried straight and/or flat ironed, it seems to veer between big and poufy or straightened to within an inch of its life.

In an attempt to achieve the look, I tried out the Bumble and Bumble Grooming Creme. It has received mixed reviews online with some claiming it doesn’t do anything and others saying it makes their hair too greasy.


Bumble and Bumble Grooming Creme was specially formulated for ‘colour-treated hair, and calming coarse, curly or African American textures’ – in other words me! The Creme contains a blend of Jojoba, Sweet Almond, Avocado, Safflower and Castor Oils and gives a nice subtle satin finish to the hair.

Simply add a 10p size amount to damp hair and blow dry and usual. I used BaByliss Big Hair and twirled each section as i dried to get the choppy ‘lived in’ finish I was after. my hair dries very quickly so some sections were semi dry before I got round to them so I re-hydrated them with Bumble and Bumble Tonic; water mixed with a blend of herbs, vitamins and Tea Tree Oil to replace moisture, soothe and detangle.

I really liked the finish Bumble and Bumble Grooming Creme gave to my hair; it didn’t weigh it down at all, it smelled pleasant and it left a matte, textured look to my hair; not too neat and flat but not too big and crazy either. As it was especially formulated for thick, curly and afro hair, i find a great way to make my blow dry look a little more interesting.

Bumble and Bumble Grooming Creme – £21/150ml

Jun 13

Benefit All Star Kits

Benefit has brought out a new selection of makeup kits to complement their All Star Kits range (Complexion, Lip & Cheek and World Famous Neutrals).

The three new Benefit All-Star Kits for Summer 2013 are:

Do The Bright Thing
Primping With The Stars
The Bronze Champions






I tried Do The Bright Thing which contains lots of my favourite products:

Stay don’t stray (concealer for eye shadow and concealer)
Some kind a gorgeous (foundation)
Girl meets pearl (face illuminator)
The POREfessional (pore minimiser)
They’re real (bestselling mascara)
Benetint (cheek and lip stain)

My favourite thing about Benefit kits is the fact that contain ‘Tips & Tricks’ so even the most makeup challenged can figure out how to best apply their products.

If you’re new to Benefit, these All-Star kits are a great way to get to know the brand and decide if it’s right for you.

The three new All-Star Kits for Summer 2013 will be available from May 18 and will retail at £26.50.

Jun 13

Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate

Sometimes a product comes along and you wonder how you got along without it. Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate is one of those products.

The product launched nearly three years ago, on average a bottle of it is sold every minute and so far, over one million have been sold worldwide. It has won 21 awards in a variety of countries and celebrity fans include Bar Rafaeli, Sarah Jessica Parker and Uma Thurman. It took the Kiehl’s chemists 20 versions to settle on a formula they were pleased with and results can be seen after just one use. Yes, one use; it’s not called Midnight Miracle for nothing.

kiehls midnight recovery concentrate

I told a few friends I was trying it out and everyone who had heard of or used it said how amazing it was.

Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate contains a blend of botanical extracts and essential oils and after applying three drops instead of my usual night cream, I woke up to brighter and more radiant skin. My skin felt softer, my pores smaller and my face just looked all around better. I don’t know how Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate does it, but it really does ‘do’ it.

In trials, users found that a four week nightly use meant:

Fine lines reduced by 37%
Wrinkles reduced by 31%
Feel of roughness reduced by 28%
Firmness/resilience reduced by 25%

It doesn’t matter what skin type you are, this lightweight overnight concentrate will work on everyone. If you have normal to combination skin, apply 2-4 drops in place of your usual night cream. If you have dry skin, you might want to apply a light night cream on top of the concentrate.

I’m hiding my bottle from my husband and this is one product I do not want to share!

Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate – £36

Jun 13

Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Coming to Theatre

Unless you spent your childhood under a rock or your parents didn’t like you, you would (should!) have read Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I’ve read the book, my daughter has read the book, we’ve seen two versions of the film; such is the enduring legacy of Roald Dahl. Like Cameron from Modern Family, I consider myself ‘theatre folk’ so was rather excited to hear about the new stage production of Charlie & co directed by Academy Award® winner Sam Mendes.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

And this isn’t just any old stage production. Oh no. Set at The Theatre Royal Drury Lane, the music is by Marc Shaiman and the lyrics are by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman (Grammy® winners for Hairspray; Smash). The book (and now I’ve seen Smash I know what this is) by award-winning playwright and adaptor David Greig (Midsummer; Creditors; Tintin in Tibet), set and costume designs by Mark Thompson (Mamma Mia!; One Man, Two Guvnors) and choreography by Peter Darling (Billy Elliot; Matilda).

charlie-chocolate-factory-drury-lane-theatre (2)

Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder left big shoes to fill) is played by Olivier and Tony Award®-winning actor Douglas Hodge and he is accompanies by Nigel Planer as Grandpa Joe, Clive Carter as Mr Salt, Jasna Ivir as Mrs Gloop, Paul J Medford as Mr Beauregarde, Iris Roberts as Mrs Teavee, Billy Boyle as Grandpa George, Roni Page as Grandma Josephine and Myra Sands as Grandma Georgina. I am almost as excited as my children at the thought of seeing this production on stage.

Watch the creative team behind the musical come together to talk about the production as well as a sneak peek at the rehearsals with the cast and orchestra here.

Further information and tickets (from £25) are available from www.CharlieandtheChocolateFactory.com. Opening night is Tuesday 25 June at 7.30pm.

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