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Summer Skin

23 Jul

I love the summer.

When I wake up in the morning and the sun is shining through the blinds and I feel the heat on my face, I’m happy. I forget the rainy days and the cold winters, and there is a spring in my step. I live for the warmth.

My skin however, hates it. It melts as soon as there is a little humidity and shines and flakes in equal measure. It’s a hot mess.

There is however, something I have done to go from looking like a spotty teenager to oozing a bit more poise, and my secret weapon is… cue drum roll… Clarins.

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When I left school, I worked for the brand in department stores up and down the land, and although their skincare was really good and gave me the expensive taste I now display while purchasing lotions and potions, the makeup wasn’t up to scratch. But recently the PR girls at Clarins got in touch with me, so I thought I would try it all again.

The products are amazing, and here are my top 3 (and I have EXTENSIVE knowledge of the range!) summer products:

1) Clarins Multi Active Day Lotion SPF15

I have skin that burns within minutes of sum exposure, so I have to have an SPF in my moisturiser. I have had fears since training in skincare that my face will show my age (although currently still getting carded for alcohol bolsters confidence on this one!) and the aim of the game is to protect my porcelain palette.

2) Clarins Hydra Quench Tinted Moisturiser20140723_181610

Goes on a bit like war paint, but bear with it. Once it’s all rubbed in it gives your skin a gorgeous glow, and doesn’t feel dry at all. Added points for the SPF, and if your skin is normal you don’t even need to worry with a day cream. I do, but my skin is like sand paper.

3) Clarins Wonder Perfect Mascara.

Having forever been a fan of expensive mascaras, and a marketers dream when falling for ad campaigns, I bought this mascara in the airport, and loved it. Then I went to New York and couldn’t find it to replace, so opted for the one I had heard good things about with beauty bloggers – Bobbi Brown. Nothing in comparison. I’m now ploughing through it so I can buy another Wonder Perfect!

Bonus points for the Tonic range, which Father Christmas knows will keep me happy if he throws in my stocking.

What’s your favourite or most indulgent beauty product? *

*Sorry guys, this one isn’t for you. Normal service will be reinstated tomorrow!

It’s Christmas Jim, But Not As We Know It

22 Jul

We all have them. The brands you look to when the shit hits the fan and you have completely forgotten your mother’s birthday. The brands you go to when you knew you should have bought something for the engagement party you are attending at the weekend, but just didn’t get round to it. The brands you visit when your friend has a baby and you want a cracking card to celebrate the fact that they can eat cheese and shellfish again without fear.jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj

Mine is Not on the High Street (if you’ve read my posts before you will remember them) so when they invited me to their Christmas In July event, I was pretty interested. We’ll let them off for actually talking about Christmas event in the heat of the summer (as that’s what all the big brands do) so glossing smoothly over that, I turned up in anticipation of lots of fun goodies to make me look cool this Yule (even I sighed as I typed this).

I wasn’t disappointed.

As a brand, they are pretty cool. Over the years I have struck lucky for difficult presents (especially my father, who is a nightmare to buy for) choosing cherry trees for the garden and grown your own mushrooms set. Boyfriends Dad was sorted out with a gear stick style bottle stopper, and my wall decal in the old flat was found in the treasure trove decal section on the site. Perfect for making a rental flat home, as it doesn’t damage the wall on the way out!

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Their Christmas range wipes the floor with all my previous Christmas purchases too. I found a perfect iPhone gramophone for my sister (although at £500 I might need to rethink) as well as some gorgeous tree decorations. I buy my god-daughter a tree decoration every year, but it gets a bit difficult to be imaginative after a while! I know where ill head when it comes to me thinking it acceptable to do my Christmas shopping this year.

So that being said, I’ll leave you with some of the fantastic things that are on offer.

Once again NOTHS, outstanding work.

Funky Kilner Jar Lighting

Funky Kilner Jar Lighting

NOTHS

Worlds most coveted “&” sign. Not sure if the boy would accept it in the flat, but I MUST HAVE IT

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The gramaphone of dreams. Mainly my sisters as I’m not buying it for her

Sightseeing My City: Lazy Weekends in Central

21 Jul

There is always something going on in London, and this weekend wasn’t any different. On Saturday I met a friend and we visited Spitalfields (as we do a lot of weekends, its such a fun place) to find things to jazz up the bar area she is having built in her flat. We found a really fun pineapple shaped ice bucket, as well as some Andy Warhol lettering to spell out BAR and some amusing pictures of dinosaur dressed in suits, titled “Lads Night Out”.

Gorgeous flowers ourside Liberty of London

Gorgeous flowers ourside Liberty of London

And on Sunday, we visited Carnaby Street, where I head read there was to be a food festival complete with demonstrations from top chefs.

I love Carnaby Street. Minus the crowds of tourists, it’s a fun inner sanctum in the otherwise faceless Oxford Circus and despite it still being chain stores; it has so much more personality.

Liberty sits at the entrance like a beacon on a ship; in my opinion one of the most beautiful buildings in the area.

A hint of neon makes me happy | Liberty of London

A hint of neon makes me happy | Liberty of London

The old fashion department store has tiny rooms filled with designer goods and fancy wares, but the highlight is the flower stall out the front, it’s so gorgeous. Whoever decides what posies to team with which is a genius, and it’s a pleasure to walk past in such a busy city.

Liberty of London

Liberty of London

The streets of Carnaby Street were adorned with stalls and peppered with the smells of scores of different cuisines cooking away.

Carnaby Street Eat

Carnaby Street Eat

We perused through Cha Cha Moon, The Diner, Masala Zone and many other favourites before opting to take a seat in the diner and gorge on American style favourites. 4

There was a pretty cool stand called Bunnychow which I had heard of but never tried; rolls hollowed out and crammed with a combination of fillings. Definitely doubling back for one of those one day soon!

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If you are in London, you must visit Carnaby Street. Where is your favourite place to visit at the weekend?

Sightseeing My City: Rooftop Cinema at the Queen of Hoxton, London

17 Jul

Don’t get me wrong, the weather in London can be a right pain in the bum. Knowing what to wear to make sure that you are warm / dry enough to brave the bitter winds and end of the world style rain, but to be warm enough for the humid greenhouse effect on the Tube could send even the sanest over the edge.

But when its summer, it’s glorious. Everyone is friendly, people flock to the parks and our office area puts out brightly coloured deck chairs and a screen for people to watch the summer sports and socialise. It’s nice. Amazing what a bit of vitamin D can do for your mentality, isn’t it?

Rooftop Cinema at the Queen of Hoxton | London

Rooftop Cinema at the Queen of Hoxton | London

And during the summer, we have the Rooftop Cinema. Rooftops and bars open up their outdoor spaces to open air cinema screenings, showing classics and film favourites, and we book tickets to our favourite golden oldies and sit happily. They provide blankets (it’s still England, people. You never can tell), you can buy popcorn, and generally have a great time.

Last year I went to see 500 Days of Summer (not very fitting, we had to leave half an hour early thanks to the rain and wind in August, but one of my favourite films nonetheless) and this week my American visitor and I booked Bridget Jones Diary.

I am a huge Bridget fan. I was ten when the first book came out, and fifteen when the film was released. I think a lot of the humour went over my head at that age, but its shown so much on the TV at Christmas that I feel like I have grown up with her and her friends. Blue soup is often a joke amongst my nearest and dearest, and a Mr Darcy moment is no longer just reserved to Jane Austin, but also to the character played by Colin Firth. Its great.

And what a fantastic setting! Last year’s location was Peckham Rye, which is essentially a concrete rooftop on top of a café venue. It was great fun, but they upped their game this year, with sponsorship from British Airways. When we arrived at the Queen of Hoxton our tickets were converted to boarding passes and there was a large BBQ and bar. The Queen of Hoxton is also a great place in the summer to go for a rooftop drink, and has amazing views, especially as the sun set.

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Smile!!! It’s not raining.

Do you have rooftop cinema in your city? Would you go?

Progress With Purpose – Living Life Intentionally

15 Jul

A year or so ago I wrote a post about “Living Life Intentionally”, which you can read here. It was inspired by other people’s passion and need to live their lives with purpose, and something that I wholeheartedly embraced.

Then, in November last year, I lost my Granddad. A beloved man, he had an opinion on everything and was the encyclopaedia of life that I consulted daily. I miss him horribly, but it was only then that I felt I had to commit to the life of living my life with purpose, and not letting one day fade gracelessly into the next.

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And 2014 has delivered on my living of life. I have travelled, visiting San Diego, California in February and Bergen and the UNESCO protected Bryggen Harbour, Norway, in March. May saw me in Vancouver, Canada, and during the month of June I lived in the West Village of Manhattan, New York and spent a month working in my company’s office there.

But it’s not just limited to travelling. I have embraced new classes at the gym, visited new restaurants and sampled things from the menu that I have never tasted before, said “yes” to strangers reaching out the hand of friendship and moving me out of my comfort zone and gone on new experiences such as walking tours of the city and macaroon making classes. And I’ve loved every second.

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Still to come, I have booked a trip to Paris, a city I have always wanted to but never visited, booked a pork pie making class, planned a tour of London’s tea rooms, and am currently planning a trip to Iceland for the northern lights in November and a Christmas in (possibly) Bali. Last weekend I dined in a restaurant called Archipelago (review to follow) which is said to be the most unusual restaurant in London, boasting python carpaccio, zebra jerky and crocodile, and I’m constantly working new experiences into the mix.

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Do one thing every day that scares you, and live life with purpose. Its fleeting and you might just find it has slipped from your fingertips.

What’s your favourite example of living life intentionally?

2014 Travel: The Vancouver Edit

14 Jul

It’s been a while since I went to Vancouver, but I didn’t want it to go unmentioned seeing as I talked about it for so long before I left!

Lionsgate Bridge from the Seawall | Vancouver, BC | Canada

Lionsgate Bridge from the Seawall | Vancouver, BC | Canada

It’s firmly cemented a place as one of my favourite cities, and I loved the whole experience. We visited the North Shore and Capilano Suspension Bridge, we cycled the Sea Wall, we dined in fantastic restaurants such as Wildebeest and Fable Kitchen (see my review here) and we watched everyone else do the Grouse Grind from the comfort of the cable car.

Vancouver, BC | Canada | All images copyright of Laura Tinker | www.laughteriscatching.com

Vancouver, BC | Canada | All images copyright of Laura Tinker | http://www.laughteriscatching.com

I love that in such a built up city there is such an outdoorsy aspect, and you can see the edge of it at all times, with ocean on one side and mountain on the other. The city is well designed for activity and most roads have cycle paths and walking parts to make being outdoorsy the norm (and you know me, I get puffed out watching sport in the TV!)

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Japanese Blossom | Nitobe Memorial Gardens | Vancouver, BC | Canada

Vancouver is a city for foodies. We worked out way through a combination of the guide book and of a friend’s recommendations, and we were never disappointed, Brunch is a firm favourite of mine, and some of the new spots and up and coming places gave us the most delightful assortment of fresh and farm to kitchen produce – the fresher the better.

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Delicious brunch @ The Farmers Apprentice | Vancouver, BC | Canada

The highlight of my visit was the Nitobe Memorial Gardens, located down in the University of British Colombia. It’s a trek out of the city through Kitsilano on the bus, but its worth every minute of the journey. The website says:

Nitobe Garden is considered to be the one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in North America and among the top five Japanese gardens outside of Japan, the Nitobe Garden includes a rare authentic Tea Garden with a ceremonial Tea House.

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Tranquil gardens | Nitobe Memorial Gardens | Vancouver, BC | Canada

and its pretty true to its word. You step into a little walled garden and suddenly you aren’t on a University campus, but in the most tranquil of settings. The cherry blossom was in full bloom, and it was the happiest part of my trip. I absolutely adored it.

Totem poles on the seawall cycle | Vancouver, BC | Canada

Totem poles on the seawall cycle | Vancouver, BC | Canada

Have you been to Vancouver? What was your favourite part?

Nitobe Garden is considered to be the one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in North America and among the top five Japanese gardens outside of Japan, the Nitobe Garden includes a rare authentic Tea Garden with a ceremonial Tea House. – See more at: http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/nitobe#sthash.DutYwu0y.dpuf
Nitobe Garden is considered to be the one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in North America and among the top five Japanese gardens outside of Japan, the Nitobe Garden includes a rare authentic Tea Garden with a ceremonial Tea House. – See more at: http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/nitobe#sthash.DutYwu0y.dpuf
Nitobe Garden is considered to be the one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in North America and among the top five Japanese gardens outside of Japan, the Nitobe Garden includes a rare authentic Tea Garden with a ceremonial Tea House. – See more at: http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/nitobe#sthash.DutYwu0y.dpuf

Gatsby Glamour at the Prohibition Party, London

11 Jul

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When I was younger I went to see Romeo and Juliet in the cinema. I watched the whirling and twirling of dancers and theatrics, and then promptly threw up outside the cinema and had to go straight to bed. A decade later, I went to see The Great Gatsby, and promptly did the same. It seems I have an allergy to Baz Luhrmann.

However, I haven’t let this put me off the whole Gatsby thang. I loved the book, and the whole mystique of the era draws me in like a moth to a flame. I covet the feathers and jewels and downright drama of the age, and have always dreamt of being a part of it.

I’m currently doing the London thing while a friend is here and so booked us both tickets to the Prohibition Party; a night held at a secret location in London once a month.

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Elle working her magic at the roulette table

The concept is fantastic. You dress up in your best pre-war party gear, and head off to live it up in the 30s. They email you 48 hours before to tell you the location, and off you go.

Our evening was at the Bloomsbury Ballrooms, and it was like stepping back in time. We descended the stairs to be offered a 1930’s inspired cocktail before the doors swept open and we were in a room with roulette tables, a bar and a quartet band.

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We had sorted fancy dress, but to be honest, we were the most underdressed people there. There were feathers and sparkles, feather boas and flapper dresses, and braces aplenty.

When the main room opened we were treated to a cabaret act, a fantastic band and people really got into the spirit of dancing, flapper style.

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Our attempt at Gatsby glamour

The atmosphere was electric, and it was one of the best nights out I have ever had in my city. I would strongly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t been and wants a night out to remember.

“That is the beauty of literature.You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you are not lonely or isolated from anyone. You belong” F Scott Fitzgerald.

Have you been? Or to anything similar?

* Images via

One’s Destination Is Never A Place…

9 Jul

…. but a new way of seeing things. Henry Miller.

It’s getting that way again, where my feet become restless and my heart hears the calling of the world around me, and yearns to get out there and do. Traveling is what soothes my soul and makes my heart happy, and I know there I have barely scratched the surface of what I need to explore, and the things I need to experience.

Last Christmas was rough on all of us, with having lost Granddad being so fresh in our minds, and I’ve been dreading the impending winter months, not wanting to feel the hollowness of our loss so strongly again.

So the boy and I are contemplating jetting off to see somewhere new and missing Christmas and New Year in the UK altogether. At first it was just a pipe dream (Imagine if we ditched it? Imagine if we ran away?) But the seed has been planted and I feel the roots taking hold and hopes growing from them.

So I’ve made a list (I’ve checked it twice) and I want your input.

Thailand

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Thailand has always been a place I need to see in my life, and the spark has been recently reignited by a number of friends having visited. Cheap accommodation, crystal clear seas and warm climes are some of the reasons it features so highly.

Costa Rica

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Another one that features highly on my list is Costa Rica. It’s a great place to trip to from the USA so a lot of my friends and family have been, but to me it just looks like paradise.

And also, sloths.

Venezuela

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Random choice for Christmas sun, but Venezuela comes up fairly cheap for flights in December, and sitting just south of the Caribbean, it obviously has its appeal. The angel falls sit inland, but they are a must see for the life bucket list. I must admit to not knowing too much about the area, but would love to explore.

Japan

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There is something mysterious about Japan, and it’s a place I would love to explore. Cherry blossom, snow-capped mountains and a culture like nothing I have ever experienced before.

Where is your favourite place in the world and where would you recommend to a traveller? I want all your tips!

Happy Tummy: Quinoa and Goats Cheese Burgers

7 Jul

I’m a firm believer in you get out what you put in (although I don’t always practice what I preach!) but in the summer its so much easier to eat well, and you always feel better. I absolutely adore quinoa, but am never sure how to cook it other than sticking it in a salad. I first came across this recipe on Pinterest, and have adapted it as I’ve cooked it. Its quick, easy and delicious. Try it out!

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Quinoa and Goats Cheese Burgers

  • 2 1/2 cups/12 oz/340 g cooked quinoa
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup/.5 oz /15 g finely chopped spring onions
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup/.5 oz/15g goats cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup/3.5 oz /100 g bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Throw the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a bowl and add both onions, the goats cheese and garlic. Add the bread crumbs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. At this point, you should have a mixture you can easily form into 1-inch/2.5cm thick burgers.

Heat the oil and fry the patties till they are brown on both sides. Takes about 6 mins on high for both sides.

I served mine with a spoonful of crème fraiche and half an avocado, although I think if you wanted to opt for a meat version a slice of chorizo or parma ham would add a little extra flavour.

Whats your favourite summer recipe?

2014 Travel – London: Staring at the City

6 Jul

Now I’m back in London, I have a friend over from the States for 2 months, and its making me do things differently. I’m experiencing the city through the eyes of a tourist and honestly, you should do it. Even in your own city. There is so much to see and do in a city so rich with culture, and getting the chance to be part of it is amazing.mklm

Yesterday we signed up for the “Alternative London Tour” which casts a path through the rich tapestry that is East London. Starting and finishing in Old Spitalfields Market (one of my favourite places to spend a sleepy Sunday) the tour weaves through Banglatown, Brick Lane and Tower Hamlets to bring you back to the start.

The art we saw was amazing. I don’t really get the view that graffiti is abhorrent – I understand that some kid writing his name in spray paint isn’t ideal for a community, but when you turn a corner and see portraiture by the medium of aerosol paint, you can’t argue that it doesn’t have its place in art history in the same was as Van Gogh or (Londoner) Tracy Emin.

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Each tiny alley or side street taught us something; the ability to look and actually see. Signposts with angel toppers cast from pigeon wings, white walls stenciled with the words “99% of people will not see this” and mosaic tags of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker; all sights we see each day but never really take the time to look at.

We wove through time, from the airy spaced, open windows of the Huguenot workspaces, to the Jewish community site that was wiped out in the Blitz, all presided over by a place of worship that had passed from Catholicism to Judaism and now stands as a Mosque. We stepped through local communities – I love that this area is rich with family run businesses and one off stores, and listened as the passion flowed from our tour guide.  The East of London is a rich dichotemy of culture, and a bustling place to check out in London. Sixty years ago it wouldn’t have been a great place to visit as a tourist, but without taking a trip to Shoreditch you miss a whole, beautiful section of London. The typical London summer weather didn’t even stop us.

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The magic of this tour is born from the experience and passion of the tour guides. The tour is also a “pay what you think its worth” basis, making normally high priced tours accessible to everyone.

If you have 48 hours in London this summer, you need to check this out.

 How do you feel about graffiti as an expression of creativity?

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