Monthly Archives: November 2013

Review: Carmex Moisture Plus Ultra Hydrating Lip Balm Pink Tint

10 November 2013

carmex moisture plus review
I type this while trying not to explode in rage at the floor-thumping coming from upstairs. I’m convinced the new residents don’t have a sofa and choose instead to relentlessly do laps round their flat. I can’t bring myself to go and complain and have stopped Mr TBL from going up there. So, in the meantime I’ll just politely smile at them when I bump into them and simmer in my passive aggressive state.

Anyway, today I’m talking about the Carmex Moisture Plus Ultra Hydrating Lip Balm which I’ve been using in a bid to rescue my poor wind-beaten lips. I’ve always been a bit rubbish with lip balms but I’ve been using the pink sheer tint version of this lip balm all week with ease.
carmex moisture plus review
carmex moisture plus review
carmex moisture plus review
carmex moisture plus review

The colour looks very pink in the applicator but as you can see, it really sheers out on the lips and gives a subtle colour and shine which makes it perfect for low-key looks. When it’s on, you feel a slight tingle, reminiscent of lip-plumping products. It feels buttery and smooth but isn’t sticky, brilliant for those who hate the hair-stuck-to-lips look. It’s got quite a pleasant shea buttery taste which isn’t too obtrusive. I also really like lip balms that are in a lipstick form rather than in a pot because I really hate sticky fingers. The SPF15 is also a bonus, making this perfect all year round. Longevity is pretty standard, and needs applying every few hours. Lips are left soft and hydrated, making lipstick much easier to apply.
moisture plus before after

The lip balm is also available in other shades, I think Berry, Peach and Clear so there’s something for every taste. All in all, a great little budget lip balm to have in your handbag.

Carmex Moisture Plus Ultra Hydrating Lip Balm costs £4.49 from Boots or for those watching the pennies, £4.29 from Superdrug.

Review: Babyliss 889A Superhood Hair Dryer

6 November 2013

I’m writing this on the bus having just about caught my breath. This is the third time this week I’ve had to embark on a mad dash to the bus stop and it’s only Wednesday! My biggest fear in life is running for the bus, getting to the door and the driver driving off, with everyone inside laughing.

Anyway, there’s something you need to know (my sister laughed when I told her). I bought this big girl recently (sorry about the dodgy photos, it’s impossible to make this hair dryer look in any way glamorous):
Babyliss hood dryer review
It’s an outlandish claim but it’s changed my life. Yes, I know it’s not the most elegant thing in the world (she lives in my study which now looks like a dodgy backstreet salon) but I urge you to look beyond appearances!

Now, I’m not saying it is specifically the Babyliss that changed my life. It’s the presence of a standing hair dryer at home that has done wonders for my hair care routine. My hair is classed as Afro-European which means it’s very, very, very curly, thick, coarse and a pain in the ass. Which meant painfully high levels of GHD usage for years.

Since I’m at the gym sweating like a pig most days, my previous routine of washing my hair 1-2 times a week wasn’t gonna cut it. Unless of course sweaty curls are your thing, then work away. I thought the hood dryer would make it easier to wash and style my hair more often with minimal damage.

I bought my Babyliss 889A from Argos for £64.99. You can get it for slightly cheaper on eBay but I was too impatient to wait for delivery, plus I live near an Argos and had access to a big, strong willing man to carry the box. Also, literally every time I go into Argos, there’s someone kicking off – has anyone else noticed this?

Anyway it comes dismantled in a box. I was able to put it together with no some male assistance but it was quite easy to be honest. There are two screws to put in so you’ll need a small screwdriver, the rest of the pieces just slot together. Altogether it took about 10 minutes to assemble.
babyliss hood dryer 2
babyliss hood dryer 3
Babyliss hood dryer review
Now onto the juicy part. It’s height adjustable and has three heat settings: low, medium and high. I’d read some reviews before I bought it and most people (mainly fragile grannies I suspect) said the hottest setting got a bit uncomfortable after a while. Maybe it’s my thick hair and/or scalp but I didn’t experience this. I happily sit under it for the 45 minutes it takes to dry my hair – no problem.

Another plus is being able to put in jumbo rollers and more or less managing to fit my head in.

The only other thing I’d say is when you’re sitting under the Babyliss, it is LOUD, so conversations are out (maybe a good thing?). But I gladly sit there on the iPad and feed my Monopoly habit or try to play the lipreading game when EastEnders comes on.

Verdict: Since I’ve bought the Babyliss, I’ve NOT used the GHDs to straighten my hair ONCE. With some cheapo jumbo rollers, I get my hair straight with bounce, shine and happy ends. Project Long Luscious Locks can commence.

Has anyone got one of these standing hairdryers? Has it changed YOUR life? Do you secretly sit under it for five minutes when you’re cold?

Paleo Eating in London

5 November 2013

The proper cold weather hasn’t even set in yet but I already appear to be growing an extra cosy layer of lard, brought on by gorging copious amounts of sliced white and sugary treats. This would be excellent news if I was a squirrel preparing for my winter hibernation but the reality is I’m a lot less cute and slightly less hairy and need to get into my motivation dress in time for Christmas. (EDIT: since writing this draft, Mr TBL has popped the question so wedding dress panic has ensued.)

It’s fair to say I’ve not only slipped off the wagon, I’ve also been run over by oncoming traffic. This time last year I was waking up at 5:30am and going to the gym or for a run. These days at 5:30am I’m most likely unconscious and in the middle of a night terror with a rendition of “belly’s gonna get ya” booming from the in-slumber entertainment system. But this is where it ends – I have the dreaded Body Pump class booked for tomorrow and I’ve strictly adhered to the Paleo diet when doing my Tesco online grocery shop.

I’ve been dabbling on and off with Paleo for a while now (I won’t get into the ins and outs of it as it seems to be a bit of a touchy subject), and while it’s all well and good sticking to it in a domestic setting where you have complete control, eating out can be difficult. If I had a pound for each time I’ve been apoplectic with rage in Tesco and can’t find a decent salad with no grains I’d probably have enough money for a des res in Surrey. So, after a bit of research, mainly through trial and error, I’ve come up with a bit of a Paleo eater’s guide for London which I hope you find useful. Even if you’re not a Paleo-er, it’s still handy for anyone trying to lay off the carbs.


Standard Supermarkets

This is your cheapest and most versatile option. In London, you’re never more than five metres away from a rat – and this dubious statistic can probably be applied to a certain well-known supermarket. When you’re in the capital, you’ll see numerous “express” versions of the supermarkets which have limited choices compared to their bigger siblings but you’ll find everything you need to satisfy your hunger. My favourite grab-and-go morsels are cooked chicken breasts, sliced cooked meats, salad leaves, berries, courgettes, avocados, nuts, herbs and olive oil. Look out for those warmers usually by the entrance for hot roast chicken which is a bit nicer than the chilled stuff. This might be really sad but I usually keep a small Tupperware box in my handbag to assist with salad-making on the go. You know you’ve hit rock bottom when you have to resort to eating your salad out of a cellophane Florette bag.

Specialist Shops

By specialist I mean places like Whole Foods Market and Holland & Barrett. I recently popped into Whole Foods in search for Paleo-friendly snacks and, after I recovered from my heart attack induced by the shock of their kale chips’ price tag, I was pleasantly surprised. I picked up some home-made guacamole, almond butter and some delicious Serious Pig cured meat. You can also find Nakd Bars there if you’re after something sweet but you’re better off stocking up on these at Holland & Barrett when the relentless Penny Sale is on. This is also where you can get packets of plain macadamia nuts, and every other kind of nut your heart desires.

This is super-specialist but The Savanna (seven locations around London including Paddington, Victoria and Liverpool Street stations) is a hidden treasure and it’s not just for South Africans! Their Biltong is a superb snack, particularly the Peri Peri flavour (the chilli jam one was delicious too but I was suspicious of the sweet taste). But at £40 per kilogram, it’s quite pricey. However, this delicious beefy snack is handy to have in your bag and satisfies salt cravings like a dream, loved by cavemen and non-cavemen alike.
the savanna

The frustration with these places is the addition of carby ingredients in almost everything. However, don’t write them off completely. Their selections are always changing and you can usually find some nice salads. Pret is currently doing a crayfish and avocado salad (they call it a no-bread sandwich – insert eye roll here) which is surprisingly good. If you’re after a smaller snack, they’re also selling pots containing two boiled eggs and a bit of spinach – perfect. The lesser known Camden Food Co. does a chicken, bacon and boiled egg salad – Paleo heaven. It does randomly have a few bits of skinless boiled potato (it took me three attempts of buying the salad to identify the potato as such) but you can push those aside if you’re offended by them. How long these Paleo-friendly options hang around for remains to be seen but they’re worth trying.

Tossed (incidentally, is anyone else mildly shocked by the whole “the tossers are coming” slogan?!) is a great option as you can build your own salad and there’s plenty of choice. Massive portions too. Itsu does various low-carb salad boxes with salmon, tuna, chicken and avocado which all get a thumbs up.


Steak Restaurants

London is packed with steak restaurants – American, British, Argentinian, you name it. If you’re feeling flush, steak is an excellent choice. It depends on how strict you are but some of these places sell grain-fed beef and others are grass-fed so it might be double check beforehand. However, the newly opened STK in the ME Hotel on The Strand serves grain-fed American beef, and as the waiter confirmed, this makes for bigger, fatter cows. The fillet was the most tender I’ve ever had.

By far the best steak (in my opinion) is The Hawksmoor – which I suspect is trying (successfully) to poach steak loving custom from Gaucho. Juicy steaks and a selection of Paleo-friendly sides to choose from – what’s not to love? Pricey? Yes, but top quality delicious and grass-fed British beef comes at a price. Best saved for a treat.

Gaucho wins for sheer choice of steak cuts (which are all grass-fed). If you’re after a dark and moody ambience this is the one. And with 12 branches dotted across the capital, you can usually walk in without a booking (although the Piccadilly branch is almost always full at peak times).

Burger Restaurants

I’m not talking Burger King. I mean proper burgers. You’re never too far from a Byron, which does a Skinny burger (no bun). If I’m honest, in my pre-Paleo days, Byron burgers were one of my favourites but the Skinny burger just doesn’t cut it. On its own, it’s a little dry and a little boring. It comes with a generous helping of salad but that’s about it. Haché (located in Shoreditch, Clapham, Chelsea and Camden) are a lot more creative with their burgers, which are all grass-fed and available with a big salad instead of the bun – definitely worth a try – the All Day Breakfast Burger is Paleo heaven. Look out for specials throughout the year, like the Iceburger they had on during the summer – see below – get it?!
hache iceburger
Turkish Restaurants

Grilled juicy chicken and lamb served with salad – skip the rice and bread and you’re golden. Stoke Newington is your best bet for choice but the Best Mangal Kebab & Cafe Bar on Old Street (excuse the slightly disturbing homepage, they’re a lot friendlier than they look) is the best Turkish I’ve been too, and is excellent value. Huge portions for around £6 – yes please.
best mangal
Vietnamese/Chinese/Thai Restaurants

Obviously many of these base their dishes around rice and noodles but there is hope! Rice and noodles are normally ordered separately, so you can go ahead and order a meat dish. Do be careful as these places love their vegetable oil, deep fat fryers and sugar. You’ll always find something that is relatively Paleo-friendly though; just order a side of salad, pak choi or morning glory instead of the rice. I recommend Cay Tre on Old Street (amazing Shaking Beef) and Thai Cottage in Soho for good food and lovely staff.

To conclude, it’s probably best to avoid:

• Pubs: Everything is wrapped in pastry and served with “mash or chips”
• Italian: If it doesn’t come with pasta or bread, they probably don’t have it
• Boots: Surprisingly carb-heavy zone
• Greggs: Enough said

If anyone has any other tips on Paleo eating in London comment below – I’m always hunting for new things to get my hands on!

Barry M Nail Art

1 November 2013

Barry M Nail Art 1
I’ve just been rifling through my old nail art photos and reminiscing about the amount of patience I used to have. I could easily spend half the day doing some sort of zany nail art, taking advantage of anything I could get my mitts on – nothing was safe.

These days I’m struggling to be bothered. I’ve got less time to be faffing with dotting tools and Scotch tape and am usually distracted by Chicken’s fluffy coat. However, I found something in Superdrug that made nail artistry a bit less bothersome. Behold the Barry M Nail Art Pen. Rather than containing actual nail polish and a thin brush like most nail art pens, this handy piece of kit is more like a marker pen so is easier to control, less messy and pretty much instantly drying. Win win win. While at the Barry M station, I was also mesmerised by the Jelly Nail Paint colours so I bought two cheery shades; Grapefruit and Greenberry. I’m sure you can guess which is which.
Barry M Nail Art
Barry M Nail Art 2
Armed with my new Barry M nail art supplies, I opted for a leopard print design. Can I just say, the Nail Art Pen made this incredibly easy and fast. It was fun to do, and with a coat of Seche Vite on top, the polish stayed in a presentable state for 10 lovely days. Keep in mind, this Barry M Nail Art Pen absolutely needs a top coat as it rubs off if exposed to everyday hand-based activities.

The Barry M Nail Art pen costs £4.99, and the Jelly Nail Paints cost £3.99, all available from Superdrug and Boots.
Barry M Nail Art 5
Barry M Nail Art 6

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