Thursday, March 5, 2015

GOSH Cosmetics Forever Lip Shine in Lady Like


Forever Lip Shine in Lady Like ℅ GOSH Cosmetics
What did we do before lipstick pencils were invented? I love a great lipstick pencil and use them almost exclusively over regular lipsticks. They're just more convenient for some reason and I think they're easier to apply.

GOSH Cosmetics Forever Lip Shine in Lady Like is the perfect shade of red and one of my new favorites. It goes on with a light, creamy consistency yet dries to a matte finish. It doesn't dry out my lips at all and lasts for hours. The bonus? No sharpener required - just conveniently twist the bottom to refresh. At just £6.99, it's a beauty bargain worth checking out! I'll definitely be sporting this gorgeous red during Spring & Summer and I look forward to trying out the other colors too!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Breakfast at The Wolseley


I've always heard and read wonderful things about breakfast at The Wolseley… It's been on my to-do list for a long time and I finally got it together and went there with my husband for a little weekend indulgence. I'm happy to report that it lives up to expectations. I can't recommend the scrambled eggs with smoked salmon enough… Best eggs I've ever had and the smoked salmon was soft, flavorful and delicious! Served with toast and beautifully presented, this is for me, the best breakfast ever.


It has to be said that the coffee at The Wolseley is incredible. I also tried the grapefruit juice which was lovely and beautifully pink.


Located on Piccadilly not far from the Green Park Tube Station, The Wolseley is a beautiful historical treasure in the West End. Commissioned in 1921 by Wolseley Motors Limited, William Curtis Green designed what was then a prestigious showroom for cars.


The setting is beautiful with Venetian and Florentine design influences alongside Eastern influences that were trendy and fashionable in the 1920's. Arches, pillars and grand stairways give way to beautiful clocks and chandeliers…. It's glamorous and eye-catching to say the least. Unfortunately for The Wolseley Car Company, the expensive automobiles didn't sell very well, so by 1926 the company was bankrupt. Between 1927 and 2003, The Wolseley was a bank, but now we're lucky to have such a gorgeous space to unwind, have fun and enjoy delicious food in a luxurious setting. 


I really enjoyed my visit to The Wolseley. It's chic and beautiful without being overly stuffy. The servers were friendly and helpful and I love the relaxed vibe. Though we were surrounded by stylish diners, many were in jeans and the feel is casual chic, at least during breakfast hours. While some seemed to be surfing Twitter on their phones, others were enjoying a read of the paper over coffee and pastry. What's also great is that after a good, hefty feast of a breakfast, Green Park is just around the corner and perfect for a little walk to burn off the calories. Booking ahead is advisable and reservations can be made by e-mailing reservations@thewolseley.com.

For anyone traveling to London, it's handy to know that The Wolseley is very near to Buckingham Palace and the perfect way to start the day before a few long hours of sightseeing. I highly recommend breakfast at The Wolseley, my new favorite way to start the weekend off right!

If you're not able to make it to London anytime soon, try recreating the experience at home with the cookbook based on the same, Breakfast at the Wolseley by A.A. Gill.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Don't Forget Your Sunscreen


Spring is on its way and ski season is still in full swing… Though it may not be warm or sunny every day, it's important to always remember your sunscreen! I wear sunscreen on my face every day, whether it's an SPF product, in my make-up or a face cream that contains SPF. Sun damage and melanoma is no joke and neither is premature aging… For the minimum effort of wearing a bit of sunscreen, the benefits are extreme.

I'm currently using pHformula U.V. Protect SPF 30+ and it's a great facial sunscreen. This product not only protects skin from UVA & UVB, but it also provides a peptide complex with antioxidant protection which further prevents damage from sun exposure.

pHformula U.V. Protect SPF 30+ is non-greasy and doesn't run or get in my eyes like so many other sunscreens I've tried. It's perfect for wearing alone or underneath make-up and feels light on the skin - in fact,  you don't even notice it's there. It's not sticky or filmy… It's just a light veil of protection, which is exactly what I love in a sunscreen.

What steps do you take to protect your skin from sun damage?

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Woman I Wanted to Be by Diane von Furstenberg


Diane von Furstenberg is a lot of things… A pioneer, a mother, a fashion designer, a princess, a daughter, a philanthropist, a wife and much more, but before all of that, she was simply a girl who knew what she wanted out of life. The Woman I Wanted to Be, DVF's memoir tells the story of how she became the sort of person she dreamed she'd be and it's a fascinating look into the life of one of the most iconic fashion figures in the world.

The Woman I Wanted to Be isn't a chronological account of her entire life, but a series of stories centering around themes that are important to the author. For those of you who are die-hard fashionistas, you'll particularly enjoy the final segment of the book titled The Business of Fashion where DVF details the ups, downs and hows of her long, successful and sometimes frustrating fashion career. If you're not the biggest fashion fan, you'll be delighted to know that she doesn't write exclusively about her career in designing clothes… She also writes about her childhood in Europe, her relationships, her mother, her brief career in beauty, her battle with cancer and her jealousy-inducing social life & travel schedule. 

This is an enjoyable read to say the least. DVF opens up her mind and heart and puts it on the page for the whole world to see. Her failures, her wins, her personal life… It's all in there to enlighten and inspire. Anyone who's interested in starting a business would find this book useful in my opinion - she is very candid about how she built and maintained her booming fashion empire, right down to annual sales figures, marketing ideas and staffing. I love how willing she is to own up to and share her mistakes… They are after all a big part of making us all who we are - no journey is complete with out a few mistakes.

It's easy to think that a princess stepped off a plane in the 70's and magically became DVF because of her connections, lifestyle and wealth, but that's an unfair assessment of Diane von Furstenberg. True, those things certainly didn't hurt in getting her started, but hard work, perseverance and dedication have been key factors in establishing her longevity, success and growth. DVF's drive, determination and desire to have a man's life in a woman's body have inspired me immensely - she's a pioneer for us women, whether we're fashion fans or not. I'm also inspired by how she peaked at an early age in fashion and made a comeback worthy of history books. Reading The Woman I Wanted to Be is a good reminder that life is short, opportunities are plentiful and nothing is unreachable if we work hard, use our minds and focus on what's important in life.

In addition to being the story of Diane von Furstenberg, this book is also a platform for the biography of her iconic wrap dress - the dress that started it all. It's fascinating to see how one idea sparked such a massive empire and continues to be the bread & butter of the DVF brand to this day. There's a lot to be learned from Diane von Furstenberg's The Woman I Wanted to Be… As is often said about people, she's not just a pretty face. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cheesy Potato & Pancetta Muffins


I'm not really sure there are adequate words to describe these delightful muffins… They're insanely delicious - kind of like a fully loaded baked potato and a muffin had a baby! I find these Cheesy Potato & Pancetta Muffins to be the ultimate comfort food. I've made these for lunch in the past and continued to snack on them all day with no need to make an additional dinner in the evening. They're just as good cold as they are warm, so I also love the idea of serving these muffins at a party as a bit of carb-loaded soakage for indulgent guests. Though there's not an abundance of eggs in this recipe, the potatoes, pancetta & cheese give the muffins a quiche-like quality, which makes them perfect for brunch.

Feel free to take a few liberties here with ingredients. If you'd rather onions, chives or shallots instead of garlic, go for  it. I personally love the way the garlic offsets the cheese & pancetta, but shallots would work beautifully too. If you want them a bit more salty, try adding a dribble of Worcestershire sauce. Try a different type of cheese or even substitute crumbled bacon or ham for the pancetta. If you're worried about serving vegetarians, just take the pancetta out altogether. The choice is yours and the options are plentiful. This is the perfect use for leftover mashed potatoes, but feel free to start by making fresh mash the way you normally do before you start the muffins. Either way works just fine. For my mash, I usually just peel the potatoes and cut them into cubes before boiling until soft. Then I strain the potatoes, add about a tablespoon or two of butter, a generous pinch or two of sea salt flakes, several grinds of fresh black pepper and some skim milk before mashing with a hand-held potato masher. Easy peasy!

When you're baking these, I highly recommend using paper cupcake cups as the muffins are quite gooey, especially when warm. Also, don't worry if they deflate a little after cooling - this is normal.



Ingredients
2 tablespoons regular olive oil
150g chopped pancetta
3 garlic cloves, minced
350g plain flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
2 cups packed mashed potatoes
2 eggs
350ml skim milk (or whatever milk you prefer)
125ml sour cream
1 cup finely shredded mild cheddar cheese, plus more for sprinkling
Fresh nutmeg
Fresh black pepper


Method
1. Start by pre-heating the oven to 200°C and lining a muffin pan with cupcake cases. You'll need between 18 & 24, so if you have two muffin pans, it's convenient to do both trays at the same time.

2. Cook the pancetta in the olive oil on medium-low heat until crispy and bronze. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate and set aside to drain.

3. Reduce the heat and in the same oil & pan, cook the garlic until soft being careful not to burn. When cooked, remove from heat and set aside to cool in the pan.

4. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt. If you don't have a sifter, stir it with a wire whisk or fork. Set aside.

5. In a large mixing bowl, add the mashed potatoes, eggs, milk, garlic, sour cream, pancetta, 1 cup of cheddar cheese and several grindings of fresh black pepper with a wire whisk until well combined.

6. Now, I know this step is contrary to most muffin recipes, but trust me - it works. Pour the dry mixture all at once into the wet mixture. Stir to combine with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until lumpy. Don't over-stir - muffin batters should always be lumpy.

7. Spoon the mixture into the case lined muffin tin, filling each section right to the top. Sprinkle each muffin generously with the remaining finely shredded cheddar cheese. Finally, grate fresh nutmeg over the top of each muffin and bake in the oven at 200°C for 20 minutes. Serve warm or cold, but if serving piping hot, you may want to use a fork.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream


I've heard loads about Elemis, but until recently had never tried any of their products… I've been missing out! Pro-Collagen Marine Cream is the most popular and powerful anti-aging moisturizer for the brand and in my opinion, it's a great product for daily use.

Light, non-greasy and only lightly scented, Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream is an easy moisturizer to wear. It's non-greasy and unlike some day creams, doesn't leave a sticky, thick or slimy film on the skin, making it perfect for wearing underneath make-up. I actually look forward to applying this moisturizer in the morning… It's like smoothing a silky veil over my skin and its faint scent is beautiful.

According to Elemis, Pro-Collagen Marine Cream has been proven to reduce the appearance of wrinkle depth by up to 78% and increase skin hydration & moisture levels by up to 45%.

I'm an Elemis convert now. I have no trouble with my skin when I'm using this cream - no breakouts, no dryness… That in itself is a bit of a miracle! It's smooth sailing on my face when I use Pro-Collagen Marine Cream regularly. While the results are great, there's a luxury factor as well - it feels like a special treat… An indulgence if you will, for healthy skin. Worth every penny!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Glam Rock Tea at the K West Hotel


When I first heard about the new tea at the K West Hotel in Shepherds Bush, my only response was… "You had me at Glam Rock!" Having been in London for nearly 5 years now, I've come to appreciate the luxury of whiling away a few hours with a pal over tea and cake… A glass of champers, a bit of chit chat, a hot cuppa and yummy treats are perfect for unwinding and of course, gossiping about anything and everything. It's a great tradition, but I'll be the first to admit that tea can be a bit tired and underwhelming if it's not a little creative. 



The Glam Rock Tea at the K West Hotel is the most creative tea I've been to, taking the idea of a themed tea to the next level. The K West is in a building that belonged to the BBC in the 60's where a who's who of rock 'n' roll royalty recorded including Bob Marley, David Bowie, the Kinks, Roxy Music and more… It's only fitting that the theme for tea would be Glam Rock, staying true to the heritage of the building and the musical history of the Shepherd's Bush area. Even more rock 'n' roll is that true rockstar tea lovers can swap hot tea for tea-infused cocktails and enjoy the spread late night from 10pm to 1am. 



To say the Glam Rock Tea is stylish would be an understatement. Rather than coasters, drinks rest on tiny records and in lieu of placemats, there are vintage record covers. Electric blue & pink metallic teapots & cups add a bit of color to the mix and no detail is left unattended, right down to the teaspoons. All of this goes down in the newly launched Studio Bar & Kitchen, a chic, relaxed environment that's super comfy and perfect for a little downtime.




As far as afternoon tea goes, the Glam Rock Tea is one of the most generous teas I've enjoyed - it's a hungry person's tea. There are plenty of treats and sandwiches to enjoy including Rolling Scones with clotted cream & strawberry compote. Though I tasted a hot tea called Tea Rex, which is made bespoke for the K West and completely delicious, I couldn't resist trying out a sampling of the fruit tea-infused Rock 'N' Cocktails as well including the appropriately named  Lemon Lennon made with citrus vodka, limoncello, lemon tea, lime, soda water and lemonade.



The Glam Rock Tea is served daily at the Studio Bar & Kitchen in the K West Hotel located on Richmond Way in Shepherd's Bush. The tea starts at £22.50 per person, however there are other options including the Prosecco afternoon tea for £29.50 per person and the Rock 'N' Cocktails tea for £32.50 which includes either 5 cocktail shots or one full-sized cocktail per person. For reservations, call 020 8008 6600 or visit www.k-west.co.uk.

Crispy Cracker Crusted Chicken With Doriano Crackers


I've seen a few recipes through the years that use crushed up pretzels or crackers in the same way you'd use bread crumbs or panko to bread meat. The fabulous folks at Doria sent me some Doriano salted crackers, so I decided to try out something new and it's delicious! Doriano salted crackers are made with authentic Italian flour, oil, salt and natural leavening and all of these ingredients come together to make a delicious, crispy little snack that's just as good on its own as it is with cheeses, charcuterie or even a spread of Nutella. Because Doriano Crackers are portion packed in individual wrappers, it's easy to keep them on-hand and fresh and at just £1.19, they're great for foodies on a budget! 

For this recipe, I've measured out the amount of crackers in packets, however if you're using a different style of cracker, you can still make this recipe… You're looking for about 8 long crackers or 16 small ones. Feel free to deviate and use your judgement - you just need enough crumbs to coat as much chicken as you're making. For two pieces as below, it's more than enough to cover the bottom of a shallow pie plate.


I love chicken cooked this way. The cracker crumb crust gets really crispy and it's a delicious alternative to traditional Chicken Milanese or fried chicken. I love serving this simply with mashed potatoes and green beans, but it's also great with a salad or as a sandwich. 

Ingredients
2 chicken breast fillets 
2 individual packets of Doria Doriano Crackers
250ml skim milk (or whatever milk you prefer)
Salt & Pepper
2 tablespoons regular olive oil

Method
1. Place a sheet of cling film on top of a large cutting board. Lay the chicken fillets out on the cling film with some space between them and cover with another sheet of cling film. Using a rolling pin, bash the chicken until it is quite thin - about a centimeter or so.

2. Pour the milk into a bowl and put the chicken in the milk and leave it to soak.

3. Meanwhile, crush the crackers into fine crumbs - it should resemble a rough meal of sorts. I like to do this with a mortar & pestle, but how you do it doesn't matter as long as the crumbs are as fine as possible. Then transfer the crumbs to a shallow dish or pie plate. Season with salt & pepper and give it a stir with a fork to mix.

4. Pour the oil into a large frying pan and heat on medium-high. While that's warming up, take the chicken breast fillets and coat them in the crackers in the dish. Using a fork, pat crumbs onto each side as needed until the chicken is fully coated. 

5. Fry the chicken pieces for about 5 or 6 minutes on each side until cooked through and crispy golden. Serve piping hot.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Top 10 Picks for Best Dressed at the 2015 Oscars

source
The Academy Awards red carpet brought some interesting looks this year, not to mention plenty of upsets. A few of my usual favorites like Reese Witherspoon and Emma Stone didn't give me the usual wow factor while some others I'm not normally a big fan of like Naomi Watts shut it down. In short… It was great to be surprised and see some exciting, risky fashion on the red carpet. Without further ado, these are my top ten picks for best dressed at the 2015 Oscars!

1. Cate Blanchett in Maison Margiela with Tiffany & Co. Jewels
source
As far as I'm concerned, Cate Blanchett can do no wrong on the red carpet. Even when she makes really bold choices, they always work. I get the impression that Cate really knows herself and what works for her. In this particular instance, she's wearing a rather understated look with a chic, black dress  however it's glamorous, timeless and that Tiffany & Co. necklace is the perfect complement. Her simple, chic hair & make-up are just perfect… There is nothing wrong with this Oscars red carpet look and everything right with it. Gorgeous!


2. Gwyneth Paltrow in Ralph & Russo
source
Gwyneth Paltrow's pastel pink Ralph & Russo gown is the stuff of ballerina princess fairytale dreams and I absolutely love it! However, this look really shines because the make-up is flawless, the slicked back hair is sexy & chic and those earrings are incredible. Well played GP!


3. Naomi Watts in Armani Privé
source
I almost always adore an Armani Privé red carpet moment and this is no exception! Naomi looks edgy, sexy and positively stunning. For me, this is the best she's ever looked and the dress in incredible! Paired with wavy hair and wine-stained lips, this is red carpet perfection.


4. Marion Cotillard in Dior Haute Couture
source
Marion Cotillard + Dior = better together. I love the polka dot pattern on this white-on-white gown. I also love that it gives a major 60's vibe from the front, but even better is the back (pictured at top). Put that all together with her looking very comfortable and effortless and this is a red carpet winning look for me… I know some people don't agree, but I think this look was a risk worth taking that totally paid off in solidifying Marion's status as a red carpet diva!


5. Lupita Nyong'o in Custom Calvin Klein Collection
source
Oh Lupita… Every time you step on a red carpet my heart stops from an overdose of joy! I'm sure if I'd seen this in person, it would be my favorite dress ever, but I didn't and while this pearly confection is incredible, it's not quite enough wow factor for the top spots on my list. I also don't really love the neckline, however there's no denying Lupita looks beautiful and she's always such a red carpet hero!


 6. Laura Dern in Alberta Ferretti
source
Laura Dern is gorgeous and she's always herself, which in my opinion means she's winning the style game in Hollywood. I love this medievil armour-like gown and she's accessorized it perfectly. That hair is pretty hot too - love this look!



 7. Jessica Chastain in Custom Givenchy Haute Couture
source
Part of me really wants to love this dress better than all the others and in some ways I totally do… Jessica Chastain brought some serious Marilyn Monroe vibes to the red carpet in this sexy navy blue confection. The slit is just high enough, the neckline is just low enough and the hourglass shape is enviable to say the least. Love the peek-a-boo sparkles too and her beautiful red hair is perfect! I only wish she'd skipped the necklace and worn a bit of a brighter lipstick, but all-in-all, this is flawless!


 8. Scarlett Johansson in Atelier Versace
source
Scarlett couldn't be any sexier and this green gown accentuates her every curve perfectly! I love how she's switched up a halter neck with a massive statement necklace and the pink lipstick is working too!

9. Behati Prinsloo in Armani Privé
source
Another swoon-worthy Armani Privé moment - Behati Prinsloo was flawless on the red carpet and the gown is incredible! Her slicked back bun is a bit boring and severe, but otherwise I love this look!

10. Meryl Streep in Lanvin
source
Meryl Streep seems to only get better with age and her appearance on the red carpet last night only proves that. Her monochrome look is a bit basic to be fair, but it's super flattering on her and she's accessorized it with a big pair of fabulous earrings and a blinging belt. This slightly androgynous look is a little more casual that what we normally see at the Oscars, yet perfectly appropriate and chic! I love this style on Meryl - she's rockin the red carpet girl boss look and it suits her!

Who were your favorite stars on the Oscars red carpet this year? 

Gifts for Chic Mothers


Mother's Day is just around the corner… This year, why not forget the typical "mom" gifts and go for something that will make her feel truly special - something that highlights her timeless beauty and style. These are my picks for chic & stylish moms of all ages!