Friday, 29 May 2015

Las Vegas - Something Fishy Goin' On

I'm finally back on UK time enough to trawl through my 500 pictures from Las Vegas. I had the most amazing week in Sin City. Vegas surpassed all of my expectations - it was so much nicer than I was expecting and there really is something for everyone. It definitely isn't all bachelor parties and gambling, you can have pretty much whatever holiday you want - shopping, sunbathing, gambling, partying, eating, drinking and (really!) there's even some culture.

Rather than do a day-by-day kinda post I thought I'd group things by theme... First up - fish. Maybe not the most obvious given that the city is inland but bear with this...

Our first morning started bright and early with a yoga class at The Mirage. I booked the "Yoga Among The Dolphins" session as a surprise for my mum and it was the most amazing start to the week. I was really impressed by the yoga instructor - it can't be easy teaching a one-off session to tourists, a mix of yoga devotees and people to whom "downward dog" means nothing (or possibly something entirely different to the yoga pose...) The dolphins could be heard chattering around us as we moved through the poses and at the end of the class there was time for some pictures and a chance to see the dolphins in their outdoor pool. The class also included a post-yoga smoothie and a chance to use the beautiful spa facilities at the hotel. Definitely the best way to start our day and our holiday.

I love aquariums and the one at The Mandalay Bay has an amazing range of sea life - from beautiful starfish to quite scary-looking sharks. There's even a touch pool with stingrays - they feel so silky and soft. The hotel is at the southern end of the strip - a huge golden building with an amazing "beach" style pool and is the last point to pop in and grab a coffee before the walk (or bus ride if you're feeling less energetic) to the famous "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" Sign.

The Forum Shops at Ceaser's Palace have a small but Roman-themed acquarium. The hourly Atlantis Show which takes place above it is definitely worth checking out too and there are some great shops (or "shoppes" as they seem to call them in Vegas) worth a browse and the use of your credit card.

We stayed at The Bellagio which had the most beautiful conservatory. It was updated to the summer theme while we were there in time for Memorial Day to an "under the sea" theme - how appropriate! The hotel was perfectly located for exploring the strip and had a beautiful pool. The rooms were spacious and I'd definitely recommend booking a fountain room for views of the hourly fountain show - there's even a TV channel to sync with the fountain music!

Maybe less appropriate for a post about fish but this lobster roll was divine! I'm a huge fan of Food Network so when I saw that this tiny take out restaurant had been featured this became a must-eat. There are some cafes and gift shops outside Bally's and its the perfect place for a quick bite eaten outside.

Have you visited Vegas?


Saturday, 16 May 2015

Vegas, Baby

My bags are packed, my out of office is on. I'm off to Vegas, baby!

For all my good intentions of writing a packing list or "what's in my carry-on" post, as usual packing has involved throwing things in a suitcase and hoping I don't forget my entire make-up bag (worst Boots trip of my life right there).

I've never been to Vegas before but it's one of those places that already feels familiar - The Hangover, Fear and Loathing, Britney Spears' Little White Chapel wedding... Somewhere that despite being pretty devoid of any "culture" now has it through being constant quoted and referenced. I am somewhat relieved to be going somewhere that hasn't required endless research, panic over what on earth I may end up eating, the need to vet my entire summer wardrobe for "appropriateness" and whether I'll be able to Instagram my pictures.

I have my dollars (the exchange rate isn't what it was sob sob), a 10-hour plane ride to teach my mother gambling basics, a shopping list to hit Sephora with and absolutely no worries about the availability of Diet Coke and soy milk cappuccinos.

See you in a week!

Hit me up with any Vegas tips and must sees in the comments. Or just what I should be buying in Sephora...


Friday, 15 May 2015

Veggie Cooking With Gousto

Adventures in breakfasts and healthy treats aside, I'm not much of a cook. Chopping, slicing and actually cooking food terrifies me a little - not to mention that I live alone, never quite know when I'll actually be home for dinner and am a little lazy (seriously though, who actually likes washing up?).

I signed up to Gousto at the London Marathon Expo as I wandered around the stalls in a bit of a daze,  sampling energy bars and protein shakes and generally not being able to see past Sunday - if I can run 26.2 miles I can do some cooking, right? Each week there are recipes to pick from and I picked the three vegetarian ones - partly because cooking meat is a whole new level of terrifying and because I've been gradually cutting down on meat and actually love eating a 90% veggie diet (but that's for another time, folks).

My first box arrived last Friday - all perfectly packaged and ready to go. I love how everything is portioned and there's no wastage - no need to buy a bag of onions when the others will turn to mush in the fridge or to buy a whole jar (does it even come in a jar?) of chipotle seasoning when you'll only need it for one recipe.

1. Lebanese Halloumi

My first recipe. Very quick and easy and I absolutely loved this. It helps that I love halloumi anyway and am pretty familiar with Middle Eastern flavours. The second portion of this kept really well for a super speedy dinner the next day (I did feel smug coming home from a long day out knowing that I had a nice meal all prepared - maybe this is why people do this "cooking" lark...). I'd definitely try to recreate this as it was easy, healthy and looked like something I could serve to guests without embarrassment.

2. Mexican Eggs

I invited my parents over on Sunday and so we shared this for dinner - the portions are all for two people but this recipe ended up making so much food that it was fine to split between three people (two eggs for daddy bear and one each for mummy bear and I!). My dad helped me out as this involved using the oven and required quite a bit of multitasking. I loved the crispy potatoes and this was lovely and spicy - it would be perfect for brunch, too. None of the recipes require too many pots and utensils - I only have a two ring hob and tiny microwave/oven gadget and I managed just fine. (And yes, it does massively bother me that the yolk of one of the eggs broke while being cooked).

3. Nutty Asian Noodles

I love noodles but rarely attempt them myself. This recipe looked tricky, especially as I got home at 9pm from my bookclub absolutely starving and knew I had to cook it that night before the ingredients went off (part of me berated this whole cooking lark at this point - cooking while hangry is not ideal - aim to start about 45 minutes before you actually want to eat I have learned!), but it was easier than it looked and did only take 40 minutes as promised. The roasted broccoli was a revelation and definitely something I'd do again. This made two generous portions - I kept the second half and ate it for lunch in the week, I actually love cold noodles despite them not looking particularly appealing after a day in the fridge!

I'd definitely get a box again although I think I'd order one if I had a friend coming over as six meals in three to four days is a lot to fit in (its clearly aimed at couples - sob!). I eat out a lot socially so I'd be worried about the ingredients going to waste and I don't think all the meals work as leftovers (the Mexican Eggs definitely needed to be eaten on the day they were cooked). I think the range of recipes cater well to veggies and the tips were easy to follow - if you're a novice cook its a great way to improve your skills and if you already love cooking it'd be a great way to get new ideas and expand your culinary horizons.

My only complaint is that by Sunday the broccoli provided in my box was looking rather sad when the recipe claimed it would be good until Tuesday - I popped out and bought another one and maybe if I'd been more experienced with buying veg I'd have noticed it wasn't going to last and used it on the Friday. The ingredients were otherwise all really high quality and despite the packaging everything is recyclable - including the sheeps' wool wrap that the cold items came delivered in.

If you'd like to try Gousto then use my code LILY54604 to get £20 off your first box.

What's your favourite meal to cook?


Thursday, 7 May 2015

Aces Of Bases - Rimmel London's Base Products

It's been a while since I blogged about make-up, or even bought new make-up but recently my entire stash seems to be running out all at once and my trip to the US to re-stock is a little too far away not to pick up some new products. While I have enough lipsticks and eyeshadows to start my own shop, my everyday essentials were looking rather sad and Rimmel had a 3-for-2 offer in Boots so I've still got plenty of dollar left for a big Sephora spree in a couple of weeks!

Rimmel Radiance BB Cream Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer Rimmel Lasting Finish Powder
Radiance BB Cream, Lasting Finish Powder and Wake Me Up Concealer
Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer
The Wake Me Up concealer is good for both under-eye shadows and blemishes. The Ivory shade is perfect for my pale skin (without being too white that it gives those weird reverse panda-eyes). The concealer is super blendable and lasts all day - no fading or flaking. I can't believe I spent years buying Touche Eclat when there are so many cheaper alternatives that actually offer better coverage.
Rimmel Radiance BB Cream
BB Creams are a new love of mine. I've never used foundation as it makes me feel like my skin is suffocating but BB Creams are awesome if you don't want or need high coverage but want to look fresh and glowy. A small amount is all that's needed and it definitely perks up my skin when it's feeling dull as well - perfect for lazy days when I just use this instead of powder and concealer or for a more made-up look when worn with powder on top. It has SPF 20 but with the amount of this I use I'd definitely wear a separate SPF underneath.
Rimmel Lasting Finish Powder
Since my teens pressed powder has been my make-up essential. While my skin is nowhere near as shiny as it was a dusting of powder is still an essential step in my make-up routine and is perfect for midday touch-ups. This has a mirror underneath the powder (unlike a lot of drugstore powders which while great products are useless for on the go). This stops the dreaded shine without the equally dreaded flat, powdery look. It claims that it lasts for 25 hours but I haven't had a chance to test that out yet - I'm still waiting to rediscover my inner party girl after doing the marathon last month!

What are your favourite base products?


Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Sheep Hunt - Shaun In The City London

Long-term readers will know that I love these sorts of things so when Hannah told me about the Shaun in the City statutes I couldn't resist going on a sheep hunt for a couple...which turned into finding all 50 of the London sheep (until the marathon this definitely counted as my achievement of 2015 so far).

The sheep are around until 25 May so there's still time to go on a sheep chase and find the flock. There's an app to tick them off (with proceeds going to supporting children in hospitals - a baa-rilliant idea) and most of the sheep are grouped into zones around London so it's a fun way to explore the city for free.

shaun in the city

Have you seen any of these?


Sunday, 3 May 2015

April Round-Up

April meant only one thing. The London Marathon took over pretty much all of my conscious and sub-conscious thoughts (dreams of arriving at the starting line sans trainers, anyone?) so the rest of the month was pretty chilled.

1. New hair - I'm currently torn between growing it long again (miss my swishy pony tail) or going shorter. Sigh.

2. Vegan sushi at Planet Organic for lunch.

3. The Forensics exhibition at The Wellcome Collection was perfect for channelling my inner Sherlock.

4. Boris bikes started turning red.

5. Easter weekend selfie in my Lulu Guinness x Uniqlo sweatshirt.

6. More sushi - this time from the Japan Centre.

7. Finally got a Mac book and its actually been life changing.

8. Candlelit desserts at Chicken Shop. The apple pie is amazing (and totally allowed when running 20 miles).

9. Visiting the Sky Garden with my parents - the views are pretty sweet and its free to have a look around.

1. Shoe biscuits at Next's Shoebox Jukebox event.

2. Awesome nails c/o The Painted Lady at the Next event.

3. The best falafel wrap from the wonderfully named Absolutely Starving in London Bridge.

4. Pre-work breakfast from Caterina 55.

5. Dinner with the parents at Drift Bar (check out the aquarium when going upstairs) - Mummy Lipstick and I had salads but Daddy Lipstick's dinner was more photogenic. 

6. Celebrating a year of living in my flat with this pineapple lamp.

7. Snacking on pink bananas (freeze dried raspberry powder makes all snacks better)

8. Pink oats for breakfast - post-marathon I'm looking forward to not seeing bananas and porridge for a while. Carb-loading is so much less fun than it sounds.

9. Tower Bridge in action - seen from the Walkie Talkie.

How was your April?

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