Friday, 31 August 2012

Real Techniques Make-up Brushes

I'm in love, aww... so romantic, until you realise that I'm in love with my new make-up brushes.  Like a lot of people I dip in and out of YouTube watching videos of talented people putting make up (OK, sometimes not so talented) and I saw a bit of a pattern emerging.  A lot of people were raving about Real Techniques Make-up Brushes.  So, off I trotted to my local Boots and had a look at what was on offer.  I bought two brushes - the stippling brush (£11.99) and the blush brush (£9.99).  I've been looking for a decent blush brush for a while, my last one decided to die ungracefully and the bristles fell out.  I ended up making do with a travel Mac blush brush but just didn't find it effective as the bristles were just too open and loose for me.  Well, personally the Real Tecniques blush brush turned out not to be right for me for blusher but boy did it work for me for loose powder and in anycase the stippling brush turned out to be perfect for blusher so it was smiles all around.

Anyway, back to Real Techniques.  These are a range of brushes developed by Sam Chapman of Pixwoo fame.  All the brushes in the range have synthetic Taklon bristles, making them 100% cruelty free which is great.  The brushes themselves feel light and are comfortable in the hand.  They are not too long which is great (I've had issues with Millie and Ruby make-up brushes in the past due the brushes being too long and therefore making it difficult to get close to a mirror) and most of them have a flat base and so stand up on their own if needed.

Overall, I liked my two new brushes enough to go back to Boots and buy the Core Collection (£21.99) and the Starter Set (£21.99) bringing my Real Tecniques collection to 11 brushes.  I don't feel too guilty though as the prices are more than reasonable in my opinion.  I already had a mixed bag of make-up brushes in my collection, ranging for expensive Mac and Dior brushes and cheaper Body Shop brushes, however, I have to say that some of these have fallen to the side as the Real Techniques brushes have scrambled to my make-up brush top list.

The only (very slight) issue I had was with the Deluxe Crease Brush which I had to trim a little as it had a couple of 'loose hairs', but apart from this, these brushes are just amazing.

(Note: Prices for the brushes are from Boots as of 31st August 2012)

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Dinner at The Mall Tavern

A couple of friends and I decided to go out for dinner and after seeing a couple of reviews of The Mall Tavern I booked a table.  The Mall Tavern is slightly off Notting Hill Gate and first impressions were good.  We started with a cider each and the bartender was very knowledgeable about what was on offer and kindly let us 'sample' some options.

After a short while we were shown to our table and we were immediately distracted from our topic of conversation by the menu. 
The special of the day was pigeon but to be honest none of us fancied that option despite the enthusiasm for the dish from the lovely lady who was serving us.  I think, frankly we couldn't get our brains to move on from the London pavement pigeons we had seen around London! Silly I know but there you go.

Summer salad with whipped goats' cheese & hazelnuts:
This was so pretty it almost was a shame to eat it...almost!

Fried brie with cranberry sauce:
Crispy on the outside, yummy gooey cheesiness on the inside with the sharp sauce to accompany it. Enough said.

Pork pie with a Ploughman's lunch:
Almost too heavy as a starter but the slice of pie was just lovely and not as dense as some pies I've had in the past.  The salad accompanying the pie was zingy with a lemon vinegar dressing and balanced out the pie really well.
Slow cooked beef with smoked beetroots & horseradish:
I didn't try the beef but both of my friends ordered this as their mains and loved it.  Both stated that the beef was melt in the mouth good.

Chicken Kyiv:
A signature dish of The Mall Tavern and it was simply amazing.  In shape, the kyiv was nothing like I've seen before, it was more scotch egg looking then kyiv looking.  Now I'm not a cabbage fan, but once I'd stabbed my 'egg' the garlicky juices that came out meant that even the cabbage slaw tasted amazing.
I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the desserts as we all dived in before I could get my Blackberry ready. The Blackberry recently has been playing up and perhaps due to the sheer volume of things I have on it has been working very VERY slowly!

Cherry & almond cake:
From the little bit I tried the almond cake was gorgeous, dense and packed with almondly flavour.

Arctic Roll (pepper mint, classic and Reese's):
These rolls really we not as good as I remembered them to be as a child.  The waitress did warn us that the peppermint roll tasted like toothpaste and she was right.  However, having said that, this was also our favourite one and the only one we finished.  The ice-cream itself was fine but the sponge bit was just dried out and too crumbly.

Overall, we all really liked our food at The Mall Tavern, we probably would never order the Arctic Rolls again but everything else was just lovely, couple this with a great friendly waitress and we all left with smiles on our faces. 

The bill came to approximately £30 per head including the initial cider, but bear in mind that we didn't order any wine with our food.

This place could easily become a favourite!

Food: 5/5
Service: 4/5
Price: 4/5
Mall Tavern on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 16 August 2012

GlossyBox - August 2012

I received my August GlossyBox yesterday, yay!  It might be silly but I can't help but get a little excited when the email comes through confirming that my GlossyBox is on its way!

This month's GlossyBox has an International Superstars theme and I received:

1. Alessandro Pro White from Germany, a nail polish which is supposed to brighten the appearnace of nails.  As I like to paint my nails on my hands in neutral colours, I'm really looking forward to using this.

2. DHC Deep Cleansing Oil from Japan, I already use Shu Uemura cleansing oil, not only to clean my face but also to get rid of wax residue when I've waxed my legs and even to smooth the way when I want to shave my legs!  You can therefore safely say that I'm a fan and I'm glad that I have this travel size that I can take with me when I go on holiday.

3. All For Eve, Eve's Balm which is just what I need for my feet, elbows and knees which all get a little dry at this time of the year.

4. Vera Valenti L'ombre a Paupiere Margarita eyeshadow palette from Spain.  I've never heard of this brand and the packaging does look a little cheap and a little bit playschool, however most of the colours look quite wearable so I will reserve judgement on the actual product.

5. Lipcote, lipstick sealer.  I used to use this stuff back in the 90's and promptly forgot about it.  I'm looking forward to having a retro moment with this when I next wear some colourful lipstick, however more than likely this is probably going to be given to my sister who tends to wear brighter shades then me.

6. GlossyBox Lipstick in Glossy Pink, this was an extra in this month's box and I really like the texture of the lipstick, it doesn't dry out your lips and it feels very nice on.  The colour is pretty but not that suitable for my Asian skin tone, however, I will see what I can do with a bit of mixing and matching and it may well earn a place in my makeup drawers!

Overall, I think that this GlossyBox is a winner :)

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Panna's What a Palavar!

My family and I have been going to Pannas's Indian Resturant for a few years now and until our last visit was a restaurant that we have enjoyed going to.  Recently, we decided to take my cousin, his wife and my nephew there for our annual Raksha Bandhan celebration.

We booked a table for 8 people for 18:30, however when we got there we were shown to a table suitable for 6, we brought this to to the staffs attention and were told that the table was all that was available due to the fact that we needed wheelchair access.  We had a few issues with this statement:
  1. The restaurant was almost empty,
  2. The people that were sitting at the end of the table given couldn't tuck their legs in as there was a bar going across the bottom of the table, and finally, 
  3. With 8 people around the table there was hardly any space for food.
Eventually, after threatening to leave we were told that there was a bigger table available, however we had to finish by 21:00 and there were a couple of steps up to the table.  This was fine for my family and I and with a bit of manoeuvring we finally settled down to order our dinner at 19:00. 

We placed our order around 19:15 and then proceeded to wait 45 minutes for our food to arrive.  Another larger party of people arrived after us and were served before us, so as you can imagine we were starting to get a little twitchy!

Then to top things off, the highchair we were given was filthy and there was dust on the window ledge behind us.  I don't mind a bit of wear and tear but I do expect the places that I eat to be clean!

The Food:

So, we move on to the food.  Overall the food was OK but nowhere close to as good as what we have had before, this may have been due to the fact that we were so hungry and wolfed the food down.  The chilli chips were as good as always, although the portions were a little smaller than what we have received before at Panna's ditto the Garlic Chilli Paneer.

The only thing were unable to eat was the Vegetable Manchuria which had far too much lemon in it.  The Chole was nice and tasty and the naan nice and fresh.  A special mention goes out for the chutneys that were served with the Fried Popadom, the chilli chutney in particular was great with just the right amount of kick and spice.

Overall, we left Panna's a little deflated and disappointed and we are uncertain whether we will make the effort to go there again.

Food: 3/5
Service: 0/5
Price: 3/5 
Ambience: 0/5
Panna's on Urbanspoon