Sunday, 30 September 2012

ABC: Aussie/Birthdays/Claridge's

Today's post in a rather brief summary of a rather wonderful day. After a morning coffee with a friend, I headed to the Chancery Court Hotel Spa for a pamper day laid on by Aussie. I had an amazing massage, chilled out in the relaxation room and tried my hand at being an Aussie tv star (cue awkward moment of having to equate a conditioner with my ideal man). I also had my hair done by the very talented Eugene:

I was very reluctant to leave the tranquillity of the spa (and to take off my Aussie Angel bath robe) to head back into the real world but I had dinner to be getting ready for:


Dress: Warehouse 
Jacket: Next 
Shoes: Paul Costello 
Bag: Vintage

My parents and I had a reservation at Gordon Ramsey at Claridge's for a celebratory meal for my birthday, my dad's birthday and my parents' 30th wedding anniversary. Claridge's is so beautiful - I loved the fresh flower displays and 1920s art deco touches. We had the a la carte menu which was amazing - we started with watermelon and hash brown canapes and a sweetcorn and goat's cheese amuse bouche. My starter was tuna tartare two-ways followed by sole fillets with crab and cucumber canneloni for my main. After a dessert wine jelly "pre-dessert" I had a pistachio parfait which was lovely and light although I was very envious of my dad's giant raspberry souffle! We had told our waiter that we were celebrating so after our dessert we were brought these:

Such a lovely surprise! Just as we were thinking about ordering coffee, we were offered a tour of the kitchen. It was amazing to see - the kitchen was so hot and very hectic but everything seemed to be working perfectly to plan. I actually felt like I was on the F-Word (although there was no bad language in the real kitchen, I hasten to add)!


Myself and Amit, the Assistant Manager.

 After the excitement of the kitchen we then relaxed with coffee and chocolates in the piano bar. A perfect end to an amazing day!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Snakey Stripes

With Autumn most definitely here I am trying to stock up on some A/W basics to wear with the (many) wintery items I already own. This top from H&M is a new favorite. It ticks all the "basic" boxes - great price (£12.99!), good quality fabric, goes with everything I already own and will work just as well for the weekend or the office.
  PhotobucketTop: H&M
Skirt: M&S (old)

Workday face and hair. Quick and (relatively) fuss free. I'm wearing: Bourjois Healthy Mix Concealer, 17 Pressed Powder, L'Oreal Bronzer in Blonde, Mac Paintpot in Rubenesque, L'Oreal Superliner in Carbon Gloss, The Body Shop Big and Curvy Mascara, Rimmel Eyebrow Pencil in Hazel.

What are your A/W staples?

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Recent Happenings: Feeling Autumnal

Summer and the Olympics already feel like distant memories. Sob. I'm hoping autumn offers a little more sunshine before winter arrives and I genuinely consider hibernating until March. Here's what I've been doing lately:
  Photobucket1. Owl costume for the London Zoo 10k "Stampede" last weekend. A fun but unconventional way to celebrate my 25th birthday!

2. London Zoo animals. I hadn't been to London Zoo for years so it was fun to have a look around after the 10k. I actually found the zoo to be a bit of an anticlimax...I'm not a huge animal lover but it was a bit depressing to see them in cages and central London isn't quite their natural habitat.

3. Graze boxes. Still love these even though I probably should be saving my money! Oh well. My code is 7KN159X if you want to try a free box. They are soon to have popcorn in them which I am super excited about.

4. Peanut 9 Bars. Such a nice surprise to return home to. I've blogged about 9 Bars before, they're one of my favourite healthy snacks so couldn't wait to try them after reading Ffion's review and being offered the chance to have a sample box sent to me.

5. New Shellac manicure. I love this shade, Current, for autumn.

6. Breakfast in Starbucks after my manicure. This is the life! (Actually I just haven't gone food shopping in forever but do love having breakfast out - it feels so indulgent)

7. Wedding time! Finally got to wear my fascinator and had a lovely time at my friends' wedding yesterday. My feet have died today from lots of dancing at the reception party.

8. Wedding cake and sweet buffet - such a good idea.

9. Currently: back in Starbucks blogging and watching the rain outside.

What have you been enjoying lately?

Friday, 21 September 2012

The Body Shop: Big and Curvy Mascara Review

I rarely venture in to The Body Shop and if I do I'm far more likely to browse the body products than their make-up range. Although as a certified mascara addict I was excited to try this "Big and Curvy" mascara when it came free with one of the many magazines I purchased over the summer.

First impressions: I like the packaging. Simple and sleek but bright enough for me to find it in the depths of my bulging make-up bag. The brush is bristly and quite slim with a tapered end. I am not a fan of big brushes like Benefit's Bad Gal of the Soap and Glory mascara that came free with Elle this summer.

The second thing that struck me about this mascara was the smell. I don't think I've ever come across a mascara with such a strong scent. This smells really chemically. So much so that the first time I used it was was convinced that I could smell it all day. Yes, I thought I was going crazy too. Who can smell their own eyelashes?

I've since got used to the smell and it no longer bothers me but if you are someone who doesn't like scented products then this might be one to avoid. I can forgive the smell as I love the effects it gives: a few coats give me dark, glossy, full lashes. It does leave my lashes a little spike-y looking but as I love dramatic lashes for everyday I don't mind this.


It doesn't flake or smudge after a long day and comes off pretty easily with my Simple eye make-up remover. It costs £10 on the Body Shop website.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Birthday Suit

Because "Birthday Dress" is a less exciting post title.

This is the dress I wore on the evening of my birthday on Sunday:

Dress: Camden Lock Market

With these shoes:

Shoes: Paul Costello

These were two very different sorts of bargains. The dress was picked up in Camden Lock Market on a sunny August weekend. I love taking a trip to Camden a few times a year, I always end up spending too much money on things I don't need and it makes me feel nostalgic for my gothic teenage years when a day in Camden was about as exciting as life got. This dress was £13. No, I didn't need it but I couldn't not get it.

The shoes are from the Peter Jones sale. I paid £52 for them but they were originally £180. They are super comfortable and, as we all know, nude heels are very leg-lengthening but I like how these have a bit of a cooler edge with the textured sole detail than K-Middy's trusty LK Bennett's.

What are you favourite bargain purchases?


Monday, 17 September 2012

How I Wore: American Apparel Accordian Skirt

An American Apparel maxi skirt had been on my wishlist for a long time but the price and being unsure about how I'd style it put me off. When I saw a black accordian pleat skirt for $9.99 in Beacon's Closet in Williamsburg I knew it was meant to be! But I still didn't wear it for a while.

The "last day of summer" seemed like the perfect time to:



Skirt: American Apparel via Beacon's Closet, Sandals: Birkenstock, Top: Valley Girl (bought in Australia), Bag: Longchamp,

I loved wearing this. It felt so floaty and feminine. My wardrobe mostly consists of above-the-knee dresses so a maxi skirt took some getting used to - care must be taken in strong winds, when walking up stairs and in large crowds. Maxi skirt around ankles would not be a good look.

I am on the short side (5'1) so have to wear the skirt around my waist so that I don't trip on them hem but if you're taller it could be worn around the hips as the waistband is super stretchy. I paired it with a crop top which I don't usually wear in the UK because I don't think bare stomachs are London-appropriate but it was perfect with the high-waisted billowy skirt - anything longer or baggier would have swamped me.

How would you style a maxi skirt?


Saturday, 15 September 2012

Un sejour a Lille!

I spent some of the August Bank Holiday weekend in Lille. Seeing as there are no bank holidays until Christmas now it seemed right to make the most of this one! Luckily Lille was 26 degrees and sunny which more than made up for a lot of things being closed for the the whole of August due to "les vacances"!


1. The city was a mix of old and super modern.

2. Dinner outside at Bun's Bazaar, a burger restaurant that mixed French and American food and even had a foie gras burger on the menu.

3. Picnic in the park.

4. Loved the Jean Paul Gaultier Diet Coke cans and this flourless, organic chocolate tart.

5. Giant burgers!

6. The most amazing salad ever - chevre on waffles. So. Good.

7. The funfair was in town - couldn't resist a ride on the big wheel!

8. Lille has a free zoo which was unexpected but really fun. Animals aren't really my thing but did love seeing these rhinos.

9. A wild cow on a walk around the citadel park.

10. Chocolat.

11. Our hotel at night. Trip Advisor served me well with this one, great value and a really nice French-style hotel.

12. The belfry tower. We wanted to go up to see the views of the town but it was closed for all of August!

Have you been to Lille?

Monday, 10 September 2012

Recent Happenings: I love this city

Despite the awful weather, London has been amazing this summer. This September marks five years (!) of me living in central London. I still feel like there's so much that I haven't done and don't think that I will be tiring of London life anytime soon:


1. Bento Box at Centre Point Sushi. Bit of a "secret London" find but definitely glad I know about it for amazing, affordable sushi.

2. Yoo Moo at Westfield Stratford. Its self-service so I had fun mixing all the flavours together to make this messy concoction.

3. Free London scarf in Topshop.

4. I'm such a child and love these olympic mascots around London. This one was in Leadenhall Market - such a beautiful site in the middle of the City. The dress is a £10 Primark bargain.

5. Lunch with mother at Borough Market. Halloumi wraps and Greek salad - so good!

6. Taking a ride on the Emirates Air Line cable car. £4 well spent. I love heights so really enjoyed this!

7. Glittery gradient nails. I'm obsessed with glittery nail polish at the moment even though I'm probably far too old for it and its a nightmare to remove. This is Barry M's red glitter.

8. Off on holiday! I went to Lille for a mini break and broke out the maxi dress (H&M) to get into the holiday mood.

9. Chocolate Wenlock. I really am 24 going on 4. My mum bought me this. I ate him after getting in at 10pm and realising that my dinner had consisted of 3 Diet Cokes and the contents of my fridge was 3 bottles of nail polish. Living the Carrie Bradshaw dream!

How have you been spending the last days of summer?


Sunday, 9 September 2012

FNO: Round Up

Another year, another FNO gone by. This year's was so much fun. You know its been a good night when you still have a smile on your face after walking home barefoot through central London (yes my feet were black when I got in, I don't want to think about what potential horrors I might have walked through).

I met up with Sarah, Sarah, Elodie and Michelle outside Vogue House. Let the freebies, drinks and fashion commence!


First stop was Juicy Couture. I can't say the clothes are particularly to my liking but after a busy week at work the champagne was most welcome and I got a nice "Choose London" goodie bag with some nail wraps inside. Next stop (after grabbing a free Vita Coco along Regent Street) was Marc by Marc Jacobs. Hello fabulous Marc Jacobs t-shirt and super heavy edition of Love magazine. Marc Jacobs, a few doors down provided some hilarious photography with a giant bear and minimal queuing.



Then it was back to Regent Street. The crowds were really building up by this point with queues everywhere and certain stores doing guestlist only. Sad times. We swung by DvF and Lanvin before being horrified at Mulberry's queue. By this point my feet were starting to hurt. A lot.

We then hopped onto the tube to Covent Garden but the very empty Mulberry store there had long ran out of goodie bags. Oh. Last stop, Kate Spade for a very much needed blackcurrant ice cream.

What a night! Bring on FNO 2013. I'll be wearing flats.


Friday, 7 September 2012

French Finds

I recently spent a weekend in Lille. I've been to France countless times in the past but it was great to explore a new city thanks to some bargain Eurostar tickets!

Before I do a post on the holiday itself, here are my shopping finds (priorities!). I was on holiday with a male friend so tried my best not to drag him around too many girlie shops! I also took on a bit of a "holiday attitude" to my spending and probably spent a little more than I intended but figured that I'd regret not getting anything that I can't find in the UK.

First stop: Sephora!


I love Sephora when I'm in Europe or the US. I could literally spend all day in there. This time I was quite restrained and just got the nail wraps to try out, a Yes To Carrots lipbalm that I've been intrigued about for ages and two little shower gel pots in chocolate and caramel - yum!

Frenchie Finds:


I used to love shopping in Pimkie on teenage holidays. I'd say its a bit like French New Look, very affordable but quite "young". I picked up this lace dress for autumn for £19.

I love Compagnie De Provence, their scented candles are amazing and I wanted everything in their store in Lille. I ended up getting this fragrance oil set as an alternative to candles. This and the figue fragrance are my favourites.

Bloggers seem to love French pharmacy brands. I picked up the Bioderma cleansing milk to try and a full size of the Caudalie serum that came in a GlossyBox a while back. Yes, Caudalie is available in the UK but I felt less bad about the expense when on holiday!

Yves Rocher is another favourite from teenage holidays. While I have now graduated to "real" perfume I still love the mini €5 bottles - the coconut fragrance is summer in a bottle and I also got the vanilla one to try.

What do you stock up on on holidays abroad?


Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Fantasy Mini-Break: Berlin

Last up in my fantasy mini-break series: Berlin. I've not been to Berlin but its definitely on my list of cities to visit. This is what I’d take for a Berlin city break with easyJet Holidays:


I did a spot of shopping at the weekend and love Mango and H&M's autumn collections. I imagine Berlin to be a very stylish city - I've picked items that are a little more "urban" than my usual style but a mini-break is a great time to experiment with new styles and with the weather getting cooler I'm packing away my summery florals in favour of darker, edgier pieces.

This Mango dress is perfect for smart city style but definitely isn't boring or office-y. Day-to-night dresses are a mini-break essential for me and this one would be ideal.

Leather and gothic lace are big trends for A/W so this leather skirt and lace top will look amazing together. An all black outfit always looks classic but picking different textures and fabrics keeps it interesting.

This super soft denim shirt will be great for day time site-seeing and shopping. Post-holiday I'd wear it over dresses and with leggings for a casual look.

Comfortable shoes for walking and a bag that's roomy enough for my camera will complete my mini break wardrobe. I love these brogues and the bag is a beautiful colour for autumn.

Have you been to Berlin? What's top of your city break wishlist?

Sunday, 2 September 2012

August Empties

August has been a good month for finishing up products. Maybe one day I'll have a normal amount of toiletries?



Simple Eye Make-up Remover - a travel mini of the same product from my July empties. This is definitely a staple in my travel bag.

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish - I'm probably the last blogger to try this product. I thought I would hate hot cloth cleaners but I actually really liked this. It left my skin feeling really clean despite it not lathering up and didn't dry it out (I have sensitive combination skin so finding products I like is difficult). I always used a separate eye make-up remover before using this but it did a great job of taking off my face make-up and the tiny tube lasted a while - I'm definitely buying the full size when I next pass a Liz Earle counter.

Original Source British Strawberry Shower - this was £1 in Sainsburys so I couldn't not buy it. I love Original Source products, they smell great and are vegan and not tested on animals. Using a summer strawberry shower gel did feel a little ironic when it was pouring with rain outside but the patriotic packaging was a nice touch.

Neova SPF 30 - this was recommended to be at a Sk:n consultation. It's the only SPF I've ever used on my face that hasn't made me break out. I love how it feels really light, can be worn under make-up and, most importantly, protects against UVA and UVB rays. This lasted me for a year and I used it pretty much everyday (aside from those days in January/February where it was barely light and the thought of using suncream seemed a bit futile). I had already re-purchased this for fear it it running out or being discontinued and I'm glad I did as I can't find it for sale on the Sk:n website. Hmm.

Molton Brown Re-Charge Black Pepper Body Wash - this came in my John Lewis goodie bag from their Spotlight on Beauty event. I didn't like the smell of it at first, it's quite masculine and, well, peppery. After a couple of uses I grew to like it, its different from my usual sweet smelling shower gels and definitely made me feel more awake. I love Molton Brown but spending £16 on a shower gel makes me feel a bit guilty. One for the birthday/Christmas list.

YSL Touche Eclat - while I love finishing products, I was sad when this one ran out. Firstly because I really like it - shade 1 is perfect for my skintone and it covers my dark circles really well (I don't have terrible dark circles so this is enough coverage for me but for serious dark circles its probably too sheer). Oh and the packaging is beautiful. Secondly because it is so, so expensive. I'm sure the price goes up every time I need to re-purchase this. I usually pick this up in the duty free so avoid feeling totally ripped off as I remember it being £18 a long, long time ago and now its £25.

No 7 Beautiful Skin Quick Thinking Wipes - I am not a huge fan of cleansing wipes. I used to use them instead of washing my face when I was younger and then wonder why my skin was bad. Duh. They definitely are not enough by themselves to take off all my make-up and leave my skin feeling clean but they're great to have in my gym bag for post-work gym sessions and with the £5 No 7 vouchers they're only £2. Top marks for the click-shut lid, too.

Neal's Yard White Tea Enriching Face Mask - I hadn't used a face mask for years until I got this sample. This is a clay-based mask that left my skin feeling nice and soft but I'm not sure if it made enough of a difference to repurchase it or to make me think that face masks are a worthwhile use of my time. I do want to try the Origins mask, maybe that will convince me.

What products have you used up this month?
© Lillian Zahra | All rights reserved.
Blog Design Handcrafted by pipdig