Sunday, August 26, 2012

Product Review: Murad Skin Perfecting Lotion

Moisturiser plays a huge role in my daily skincare routine, and I apply it after having washed my face in the morning and before I go to sleep at night. The latest moisturiser I tried out is Murad’s Skin Perfection Lotion, and already I am so impressed with it that it’s displaced all the other moisturisers I own and has become THE one that I use.

The Murad mission statement is to “create topical skincare products and dietary supplements that transform lives through The Science of Cellular Water.” What this essentially means is that there is a lot more research and design that goes into the science of a Murad moisturiser than an ordinary one, as it investigates cell membranes as the fundamentals behind youthful, healthy looking skin.

The effectiveness of the moisturiser can be felt within moments of application. The consistency of the product is fair, and easy to apply on skin. I applied it after washing my face and drying it, when my skin was already fairly hydrated, but the ingredients in the product refreshed it further. My pores cleared up a lot as a result of the moisturiser, which is brilliant as clogged pores are one of my bête noires, and the vast majority of creams I have used in the past have been unable to tackle it.

As I mentioned in a previous post, now that I’m in my twenties, moisturiser has to do more than just keep my skin soft; it’s got to work some of that anti-aging magic as well, as the effects of a hectic city life are taking its toll on my skin, particularly on the forehead in the frown lines. The best moisturiser, then, would have to work to counteract the signs of aging on my part, something that the Soap & Glory brand fail at miserably, despite promising “Daily Youth” on the back of its bottles (there’s your false advertising). But, thankfully, the Murad Hydrate & Protect really DOES do what it promises. I’ve been using this moisturiser, twice a day for a week now, and already there is a discernible decrease in the appearance of my frown lines, for which I am endlessly grateful for.

Murad has a tremendous selection of products and such was the success of this Age Reform cream that I will definitely be venturing onto their website for more supplies when I have used it all up. Through the genius of Dr. Howard Murad, they also have products which can clear acne, tone the body, optimize skin and protect the body from sunrays. Clearly, when Science and skincare meet, the effects are marvellous.

Grade: A+

Restaurant Review: Al-Diwan Grill (Holloway Road, N7)

On the walk from the Highbury & Islington Tube station to Arsenal’s football ground is Al-Diwan Grill, a restaurant offering all the classic (read: well-known) Indian dishes for reasonable prices. The inside of the restaurant, as with last week’s Wonderful Patisserie, is nothing special; it feels more like a diner than a restaurant.

However, the food itself is some of the best Indian I’ve tasted. Between two people, we ordered a rice dish, two types of Naan bread, as well as Chicken Tikka Masala and Lamb Madras, and we were both sufficiently full from the quantities served. The Chicken Tikka Masala was the less spicy of the two meat dishes served, and, having eaten many a CTM in my University days (usually of the microwaveable meal variety), I consider myself a bit of an authority on the classic Indian takeaway dish. What made the one we had here so delicious was probably the generous quantities of oil which the chicken was bathed in as that really brought out the flavour of it, but I have in the past had CTMs wherein the chicken has been woefully undercooked, and there was no danger of that here. The Chicken Tikka Masala passed my test with flying colours.

As for the Lamb Madras, that too tasted gofod, and that too, was bathed in oil. This dish was marked with a chilli in the menu, indicating that it was spicier, and whilst the level of hotness wasn’t an issue, I had a huge blunder when I consumed one of the chillis accompanying the meat bowl, stupidly thinking it was a bean. THAT was spicy, and tears streamed down my face and I was snotting like nobody’s business; not attractive. Thankfully the waiter responded quickly and got me a glass of milk and after stuffing my face with that and Naan bread, I slowly returned to Earth. But that was a pretty scary couple of moments, albeit entirely my own fault.

There was a good variety of Naan bread on the menu (I counted nine), so between us we tried the Keema Naan and the Paneer, the latter of which was very pleasantly cheesy, and I took to straight away. The rice we had between us was pretty uninspired, but that was probably due to errors in our ordering, and it didn’t detract from the enjoyment of our meal which, aside from the embarrassing eating-a-chilli affair, was thoroughly enjoyable. There are plenty of eateries near football stadiums which ride on their location and skimp on the actual food served, but Al-Diwan Grill wasn’t one of them. Highly recommended.

Grade: A-

A Midsummer Night’s Wedding

Rock N' Roll Bride is my favourite wedding blog and I’ve been a long-time lurker of Kat’s terrific individual take on edgy and bold weddings. I’m very far away from getting married myself but that doesn’t stop me from browsing through all the pages of beautiful weddings for inspiration for my big day – should I ever get one! ;)

So when Rock N' Roll Bride teamed up with Next for a wedding stylist competition – for us to create a wedding look based on a theme of our own selection using a budget of £500 on Next items, I had to get on it! It sounded like amazing fun and I love to try my hand at playing designer.

The theme I went for is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, particularly the King and Queen of Fairies, Oberon and Titania. I picked this for several reasons – the play is one of my favourites from Shakespeare, the film adaptations always make me smile, as well as the fact that the idea of having a wedding in the park, at home with nature, appeals to me massively.

So with the characters of Oberon, Titania and the fairies as bridesmaids in mind, I got window shopping.

The Bride - Titania
In films and plays, Titania is always filmed wearing flowing gowns, or dresses with huge trains or skirts. I found this Lipsy dress which captured both Titania's being at home with nature - the flowers embedded across the chest, as well as adhering to the classic brides' colour of ivory. Gorgeous.

In the play A Midsummer Night's Dream, Titania is a proud character, and her pride leads to her husband Oberon playing a mean trick on her - enchanting her so that she falls in love with a man with a donkey's head. However, as the wedding is one of the most important and beautiful days of a girl's life, I thought a tiara - to reinforce the Titania-esque regal status she has on the day - was a good accessory to have, and as such, I've picked a particularly glittery one.  
I didn't pick a necklace due to the flowers on the top half of the dress being more than sufficient decoration around the neck, and I didn't pick a ring with the view that on a wedding day there should only be one ring on the bride's fingers. So in addition to the tiara, the other accessory that I thought would suit a Titania-type bride are these elegant feather/leaf-dangly earrings, once again illustrating her ethereal persona.

And finally, the shoes. I went for silver/ivory heels with gorgeous sequins along the side (to match the tiara), as well as fairly long heels to re-inforce the image of the Bride as the Queen of Fairies.

The Groom - Oberon

The Next website boasts a broad range of classy suits, from black ones to grey ones, but I opted for a brownish hue for the groom's suit, due to the motif of forests and nature and colours adhering to that of brown and green. Perfectly, the model here is wearing a dark green tie, which is striking as it is an unusual colour for the groom's tie, and furthermore, the colour green symbolises balance and harmony, which the union of Titania and Oberon should bring.

Bridesmaids - the Fairies
Continuing with the themes of fertility, rebirth and nature that green brings, these dresses would be perfect for the bridesmaids. The botanical print invokes images of flowers and grass, and the cheekiness of the print also reflects how in the play A Midsummer Night's Dream, Titania would often call upon her Fairies to do her bidding whenever in a ~war with her husband.

As the print of the bridesmaids dresses are colourful enough, I opted to only have one accessory for them. I would have them wear their hair up (much like the model in the photo above), and then at the side of the head wear this cute flower diamante hairclip. In films and plays Titania's fairies are often pictured with ringlets of flowers in their hair, and this is a silky modern day spin on that.

And this floral theme is continued in the bridesmaids' footwear; classy ivory heels with a corsage to the side.

Overall, these pieces came to:
Lipsy One Shoulder Applique Dress - £65
Jon Richard Raised Diamanté Tiara - £45
Sparkle Feather Earrings - £8
Ivory Mesh Peep Toe Shoes - £36
Brown Puppytooth suit set - £90 + £40 + £50 + £26 + £50
Botanical Print Dippy Dress - £45
Jon Richard Diasy Comb - £15
Ivory Corsage Platform Sandals - £36
All this comes to £496 - within budget!

So, having created a Shakespeare inspired wedding look for less than £500, I feel rather proud of myself! Might reward myself with a viewing of the DVD now...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

50 Shades of Delicious.

Just a few of the dishes I've had this week.

Sweets from Marseille.

Ice cream, Haagen-Dazs.

Mozzarella balls, cherry tomatos and potatos. £2.75, work canteen.

Dish of the week. Open fish sandwich. £2.95, work canteen.

Ick of the week. "Brazillian" themed meal. £2.95, work canteen.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bikinis, zucchinis, martinis, no weenies, just the king and the queenie.

A day out at the beach and what I wore.

Shorts: Miss Selfridge
Boob tube: Primark
Bikini: M&Co
Leopard print  bangle: River Island
Sunglasses: New Look
Earrings: Accessorize

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Restaurant Review: Wonderful Patisserie (Colindale)

Possessing somewhat of an uncreative name, what Wonderful Patisserie lacks in terms of elegant names, it more than makes up for in the quality of the food it serves. Serving food that is predominantly Chinese-themed, there are also a few pages of Malaysian creations, of which I tried the beef ho fun. Truth be told, I couldn’t detect the difference between it and previous Chinese ho fun dishes I’ve had, but of ho fun dishes I’ve had, it was definitely one of the most delicious. A big problem I’ve encountered in previous ho fun dishes is that other restaurants have either excelled at one element (usually the ho fun), and under-performed on cooking the beef, thus overall rendering the meal a bit of a bust (as undercooked meat is and always will be). But both the ho fun and the meat here were excellently prepared, and the amount of flavour added to it, whilst surely doing my cholesterol level no favours whatsoever, was heavenly to taste. There were a few extra condiments on our tables should we need them and I didn’t add anything else to my main apart from a little bit extra spice.

For starters, me and the girls shared breaded chicken wings, which were amazing; the outside was particularly salty and as a connoisseur of salty things I adored them, as well as shredded beef in sweet and sour sauce, which was incredibly moreish. Then for our mains, we also shared a plate of veg between us, for the obligatory fibre. The veg was this type of Chinese cabbage that tastes very nice indeed when seasoned, and fitted in just fine with my ho fun.

The only possibly negative thing there is to say about Wonderful Patisserie is that it wasn’t the most glamorous place. Set out more like a café than a restaurant in part of London that could be politely described as “industrial”, this place was never going to rival The Savoy in terms of shining chandeliers; indeed, even the glasses we drank from could have been polished a little better. In terms of value for money and taste of the meal you’re offering though, this has got to be one of the best in North London. The portions are mega – and you’ll end up spending almost exactly the amount you’d spend at Nando’s for a meal that has more flavour, interest, nutritional content and variety. In the corner there is a dessert section where you can buy some sweet stuff to bring home with you, including a very cute Hello Kitty cake! Go there.

Grade: A-

The Bourne Legacy (Tony Gilroy, 2012)

In summarising the plot of The Bourne Legacy, I may fail somewhat, as I was more than a bit lost throughout my viewing of the film (a free advanced screening at a rather plush Vue cinema in Finchley Road, if I may say so).  

To the best of my understanding, what it involves is a group of people who were involved in “Outcome”, a different strand of the project Jason Bourne was involved, but the difference here being science is used to doctor their mental and physical capacity. A glitch in the set-up of the plan involving a YouTube leak of the connections between the people involved occurs and the film documents the lengths the creators take to avoid the catastrophic results of the Bourne saga. 

Eric Byer (played by Edward Norton), is the man trying to “shut down” the people involved, and whilst the majority are done so with ease (they are given a “new pill” to take which they believe will make them stronger but in fact sends them into cardiac arrest), Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is the last man standing, who refuses to go without a fight.

I think the main problem with The Bourne Legacy is that they tried to tie it in with Robert Ludlum’s initial creation, and the Matt Damon films, when in fact everything that happened in the preceding films is very much in the background here. 

Had The Bourne Legacy been a different film, the character of Jason Bourne just been something of a prelude and the characters been given new names and companies, then I would have found The Bourne Legacy a lot less confusing. 

The continual attempts to try and tie the events of this film in with the third movie (the two storylines are supposed to be running parallel) definitely over-complicates matters. The story-line is more than cerebral enough to hold its own, and, as mentioned, the attempt to try and make this a spin-off of the Bourne movies is its ultimate downfall.

That being said, there’s a lot of good stuff here. The script is somewhat too clever for its own good in regards to the plotting, and there is little left in terms of characterization, but Renner, Weisz (playing Marta, a scientist working for a company who does the legwork of Outcome) and Norton all give strong performances. 

Norton in particular is very strong, as his character is far removed from the archetypal villain in that he is doing what he thinks he is doing for the greater good. He gives a brooding, tense performance and it is possible to imagine what it’s like for his character. Jeremy Renner has never been one of my favourites with his individual AVBesque brand of surliness, but I don’t find him as annoying her as I have found him in other movies, namely Mission Impossible III and The Town. And Rachel Weisz, though unfortunate in that the script makes her out to be some kind of hysterical bint, acts very well indeed to make us sympathise for her character when the script was practically calling out for histrionics, as well as giving depth to Dr Marta Shearing in her facial expressions that is painfully remiss in the screenplay.

As with all the Bourne movies, the action sequences are a thrill to watch, and a chase sequence through the streets of Manila certainly doesn’t skimp on crashes, explosions and various other calamities. 

Slickly edited with some wonderfully glamourous locations spanning London to the Philippines, and featuring some genuinely tense moments (a showdown at Marta’s house when she is required to draw on her wiles in order to survive), it is, on the whole, an interesting watch, but not one that I was altogether satisfied by.

Grade: C

Friday, August 17, 2012

Nommy dishes of the week.

I had more sweet dishes than usual this week, due to the canteen at my work producing some phenomenal desserts.

Around the World creation, Haagen-Dazs.

Tiramisu, £1.50, work canteen.

Salmon, potato wedges and salad. £2.95, work canteen.

Pineapple cake, £1.50, work canteen.

Lamb curry, work canteen, £2.95.

Swedish meatballs, £5.45, Ikea canteen.

Chocolate and cream dessert, Ikea canteen, £1.50.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Outfit of the Day.

What I wore to enjoy a rare bout of British sunshine.

Sunglasses: a London street stall
Dress: Mango
Bracelet 1: A gift from Sicily
Bracelet 2: self-made
Earrings: Gift from House of Fraser
Belt: Accessorize

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Putting my money where my mouth is (two lipgloss reviews).

Now that I make my own money, I pay more attention to how I spend it (which probably explains how I am able to remember the prices of every single meal I have). Lipgloss is something that I rely on pretty heavily – I despise my eyes so whenever I have the chance I hide them with sunglasses of various shapes, and tried to draw attention to the lower part of my face. I own several lipsticks too, all various shades of bright red, but bright red is a little too out there for the working world, and as such, lipgloss is somewhat of a close friend of mine.

So as a lipgloss enthusiast as well as a frugal economist (in the very literal sense of the word there – my degree is in Economics), I thought it worth parting with a few of my hard-earned pennies in order to partake in a little experiment. I bought two lipglosses on Friday, a Benefit one from the Debenham’s in Oxford Circus for £14 (in doing so overtaking my Soap and Glory Sexy Motherpucker lipgloss as my most expensive lipgloss buy at £9), and then in the Boots near Charing Cross Train Station, I bought a MUA lipgloss for a quid. So the laws of demand and supply say that the Benefit lipgloss should be 14 times better than the MUA.

And… you can’t argue with economics! The Benefit lipgloss PWNS the MUA lipgloss! The MUA lipgloss isn’t bad, per se, but I have a lot of them just like it; the gloss comes out dry and sparse on the brush and when I apply it to my lips the look isn’t so drastically different as if I’d just licked my lips. It earns points for having a nice fruity scent to it, being well-presented (the vivid red of the tube is thoroughly eye-catching) and ease of use, so I’m planning on keeping it in my handbag and using it during the week for work, as I don’t need to ~glam up~ hugely for work-time, just look presentable.

However, as a lipgloss, the Benefit one is in a league of its own. The scent is very strong when you open the tube – a sweet, lavenderish smell that I took to immediately, and whilst the appearance is a sparkly lilacish colour, I found the name of the lipgloss – Kiss You – a more accurate indicator of its prowess, for, once you’ve applied this one your lips, you will just feel so fabulous that you want to kiss people, ha. The gloss is thicker in quality, which accounts for the smaller bottle, so you only need the tiniest amounts. I put a tiny tab across my bottom lip, a tiny dab across my top lip, then smush the two together. And the effects are sensational! My lips genuinely do shimmer, and for a long time after as well. A fantastic buy, well worth the £14. I keep taking the cap off to smell it and try it on over and over again, and if my obsession continues, Kiss You is on course to be the top lipgloss I've ever owned.

So what I learned in that experiment, then, was that money does make the difference, and that, in this case at least, the more expensive product most certainly is the better product. I think I’ll be conducting this comparison test on other products in the future, to see if the pattern holds.

Benefit Kiss You lipgloss: A
MUA lipgloss: C

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Book Review: Fever Pitch (Nick Hornby)

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of Nick Hornby’s ode to Arsenal Football Club, Fever Pitch. I watched the film a good three years ago and remarked favourably upon it, having enjoyed the dramedy as well as the way the character’s passion for the beautiful game was translated onto the screen, so thought now would be as good a time as any to read the seminal book from which it came from.

I was hooked from the off. The book is an autobiographical account of how Hornby, a Maidenhead boy, came to fall so violently in love with a team 30 miles away from him. It stemmed from his parents divorcing, and his father, desperate to find ways to bond with his somewhat estranged son, speculatively taking him to an Arsenal game in the hope that Nick would enjoy it. The game he first attended, as it transpired, was a non-too-sexy grinded out 1-0 win due to a rebound from a missed penalty, but the young Nicky Hornby fell in love with Arsenal football club there and then, a love that would run the course of the rest of his life.

The book is consisted of essays and anecdotes, of which football matches which Hornby attended form the fulcrum. There are accounts of violence during the games (in one match, the schoolkid Hornby is beaten up and his scarf stolen from him; too scared to admit to his mother the harsh realities of the game, he invents some cover story), as well as how the game, on several occasions, interferes with his social life, and the Sophie’s Choiceesque decisions he has to make. His love life and football conflate on various occasions, and when Hornby writes movingly about the pangs of losing a cherished girlfriend feeling oddly similar to seeing one of your favourite players leaving, he is exactly right.

Indeed, that’s what makes Fever Pitch such a fantastic read, each and every word, every experience, will ring true to the more passionate football fans, having gone through the emotions yourself. Furthermore, the best scene in the movie Fever Pitch – when lots of Arsenal fans celebrate their winning the league by dancing along the streets in North London – is even better on paper, having read Hornby’s 200-page build-up to such a momentous occasion. I might not like Arsenal, but it’s a wonderfully cathartic moment when you are over the moon for the long-suffering narrator.

By turns uproariously funny (Hornby goes to a Reading game and tries to blag that he's a Londoner to sound like a more legitimate Arsenal fan, but gets caught out, with hilariously awkward consequences), bang on the money (Hornby at one point has potential for success with a TV script he has written, but says he would happily forgo personal glory to see Arsenal win the Cup; a sentiment I more than share, having devoted endless hours this year watching Chelsea’s CL final game over and over again instead of revising for my Microeconomics and Accounting exams) and depressingly solemn (there are plenty of those moments, he supports Arsenal after all :-p), Fever Pitch encapsulates everything that is involved in the heady rollercoaster ride of being a football fan. I’m far from an Arsenal fan, and, indeed, some of the older players which Hornby repeatedly mentions are like white noise to me, but that didn’t detract in any way from my enjoyment of the novel. Hornby might be deprecatingly modest about his degree at Cambridge (in the novel his Uni degree and his jobs but play a third place behind football and women) but truth be told it obviously wasn’t for nothing because he has an ingenious way with words that I can only dream of. Pair that with personal, heartfelt stories as well as football as the leading player, and Fever Pitch, is, twenty years on, one of the finest autobiographies I’ve read, and almost certainly the best book about football.

Grade: A


Some nom-tastic things I've eaten this week.

Beef burger, potato wedges, pasta. £2.95, work canteen.

Fish and chips, tartar sauce & mushy peas. £2.95, work canteen.

Swedish meatballs & chips. £5.75, Ikea.

Chocolate and cream dessert. £1.75, Ikea.

Baileys and lemon scoop-flavoured shake, Haagen Dazs.

Monday, August 06, 2012

To prove I’m right, I put it in a song.

Every August, Bung lists her top 100 or so songs, every year, there’s some good, some bad, some ugly (mostly ugly). Every year, she remains staunchly faithful to her Kanyes, her Rihannas and her Nina Simones, whilst bunging in some new tunes she’s become with over the past year (this year’s: One Direction & Lana, obviously). Every year, the people reading the list shake the head and think “oh dearrrrr.” And repeat.

1. Homecoming (Kanye West ft. Chris Martin)
2. Son of a Preacher Man (Dusty Springfield)
3. Angie Baby (Helen Reddy)
4. Rocky Raccoon (The Beatles)
5. Hallelujah (Rufus Wainwright)
6. Alison (Elvis Costello)
7. Sinnerman (Nina Simone)
8. What Makes You Beautiful (One Direction)
9. Sexy! No No No… (Girls Aloud)
10. Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie (Joanna Newsom)
11. Paper Planes (M.I.A.)
12. Off to the Races (Lana del Rey)
13. November Has Come (Gorillaz)
14. Samson (Regina Spektor)
15. Adia (Sarah McLachlan)
16. Run this Town (Rihanna, Jay-Z and Kanye West)
17. Power (Kanye West)
18. Untouchable (Girls Aloud)
19. This is What Makes Us Girls (Lana del Rey)
20. Talk Show Host (Radiohead)
21. Lullaby (Dixie Chicks)
22. All These Things that I've Done (The Killers)
23. Charmaine (Plan B)
24. Love the Way You Lie Part II (Rihanna ft. Eminem)
25. Romeo and Juliet (Dire Straits)

26. Head over Heels (Tears for Fears)
27. Boys Don't Cry (The Cure)
28. One Thing (One Direction)
29. Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy (Queen)
30. Defying Gravity (Idina Menzel)
31. Work (Kelly Rowland)
32. Glory Box (Portishead)
33. Hey Stephen (Taylor Swift)
34. Empire State of Mind: Broken Down (Alicia Keys)
35. 2am (The Saturdays)
36. Fix Up Look Sharp (Dizzee Rascal)
37. Tiny Dancer (Elton John)
38. Baba O'Riley (The Who)
39. Wildwood Flower (June Carter Cash)
40. My Love (Sia)
41. The Loving Kind (Girls Aloud)
42. California Dreamin' (The Mamas and the Papas)
43. Chelsea Dagger (The Fratellis)
44. My Father's Gun (Elton John)
45. Riding in Cars with Boys (Lana del Rey)
46. Seasons of Love (Idina Menzel)
47. What’s My Name? (Rihanna ft Drake)
48. Hey Jude (The Beatles)
49. Brandy Alexander (Feist)
50. Don't Stop Believin' (Journey)

51. Love Affair (Regina Spektor)
52. Video Games (Lana del Rey)
53. I Don't Want to Go to Chelsea (Elvis Costello)
54. Dragon Queen (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
55. Under Pressure (Queen ft David Bowie)
56. Brown Eyes (Lady Gaga)
57. It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference (Todd Rundgren)
58. Clothes Off! (Gym Class Heroes)
59. Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Tears for Fears)
60. Underneath Your Clothes (Shakira)
61. Breathe (Taylor Swift)
62. Travelin' Soldier (Dixie Chicks)
63. Jesus Walks (Kanye West)
64. Numb Encore (Jay Z ft. Linkin Park)
65. Lovely Head (Goldfrapp)
66. I Wish I Knew How it Feels to Be Free (Nina Simone)
67. Shout (Tears for Fears)
68. She (Elvis Costello)
69. Rio (Duran Duran)
70. Vincent (Don McLean)
71. Love will Tear us Apart (Joy Division)
72. Lullaby (The Cure)
73. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (The Beatles)
74. Sunshowers (M.I.A.)
75. Pennies in my Pocket (Emilio Estefan)

76. Jackson (Johnny and June Carter Cash)
77. Wonderwall (Oasis)
78. Stand Up (One Direction)
79. Airplanes part 2 (B.o.B, Hayley Williams & Eminem)
80. The Killing Moon (Echo and the Bunnymen)
81. Momentum (Aimee Mann)
82. The River (Joni Mitchell)
83. Golden Slumbers (K.D. Lang)
84. Hey Mama (Kanye West)
85. Braille (Regina Spektor)
86. Back to Black (Amy Winehouse)
87. O Saya (A.R. Rahman ft. M.I.A)
88. Baby (Justin Bieber ft Ludacris)
89. Work it (Missy Elliot)
90. Chillin' (WALE ft Lady Gaga)
91. Take a Bow (Rihanna)
92. Lean on Me (Bill Withers)
93. Ignition (Remix) (R. Kelly)
94. Machine Gun (Portishead)
95. Strict Machine (Goldfrapp)
96. Notorious (Duran Duran)
97. Too Young (Phoenix)
98. No More (3LW)
99. Call the Shots (Girls Aloud)
100. She Said (Plan B)

Review: BlackBerry Bold 9790

Before I got my BlackBerry back in April, I had had a Samsung Tocco for almost four years, a phone that served me extraordinarily well, but, obviously, having had it for four years, it was seeing the end of its days. I’m not hugely materialistic and into my labels so I would have gladly carried on using it until it stopped working (it was pink, my favourite colour, I liked the touch screen, and Samsung sponsor a certain football team which I believe I’ve quite fond of :p), but the sides were peeling off and my mum said she felt second-hand embarrassment seeing me using it. So my parents insisted on me getting a new phone, and I certainly wasn’t going to quibble with that.

In terms of aesthetics, I really enjoy looking at my phone. Some previous BlackBerries have been far too brick-like in their appearance, and their buttons have been clunky and completely unsexy. The BlackBerry Bold 9790 is both shorter and wider than an iPhone, so in that sense, not as sleek, but I genuinely adore the way they managed to fit a keypad on the bottom. The multi-usage of touchscreen and QWERTY keypad is extremely helpful (and the keys are so comfortable to press, something this newer version of the BlackBerry has over its previous antiquated editions) – I was used to using a touchscreen from my Samsung Tocco, but when I want to send a quick message, I write much faster using keys. It also means that, when I’m arguing with certain boys on WhatsApp, I can get my smartarse responses in more swiftly than they do, as I have the advantage of being able to touch-type, whilst they have to use one finger at a time, typing their comebacks to one diss when I’m already onto the next one. Mwuahahaha.

Other things I like about my BlackBerry Bold is the general element of ~swag and je ne sais quoi it brings. This might be an idea I have incepted in my own head and carry no truth whatsoever, but there are some phones which are ~cooler than others, and iPhones and BlackBerries are at the top of the food chain, though the Samsung Galaxy is a strong competitor (needless to say, the Noka 3310 comes last, if they still exist trololololo). The screen and display are all slick, and the icons are the perfect size for your finger to touch it without interfering with another. The Blackerry 9790 is also very straightforward and easy to use – BlackBerry messenger was something I avoided for the best part of two months, but when finally shown how to use it at a house party, I couldn’t get enough of it. AppWorld comes ready installed on the phone, so you can download to your heart’s desire. An App I wholeheartedly recommend is ScreenGrab – the BlackBerry, unlike the iPhone, doesn’t have an in-built function that allows you to take Printscreens, but there are half a dozen free apps which, once installed, do the job.

Something else that I find hugely handy about the Blackberry 9790 is that, if you're into your social networks, as I am, it's a dream. Once you've hooked up to Twitter, e-mail and Facebook, the phone is faster at receiving new tweets and the like faster than Twitter is on the PC! This doesn't extend to Facebook, which it's a bit more temperamental with; the delay between receiving a new Facebook notification and getting alerted via phone can vary between 0.5 seconds to several hours, and, furthermore, my phone sometimes omits telling me I've received a new FB message altogether. So it's worth keeping an eye on your Facebook account on the PC with this phone. But, as I said, with Twitter and e-mail, the speed at which it updates you is infalliable, and as such, I've been able to become a lot closer with many of my Twitter followers (good lord that sounds sad) since getting this phone.

However, the flaws of the BlackBerry 9790 are gaping. Firstly, the battery life is a disgrace. I leave it charged overnight and by about three in the afternoon (due to limited usage as well, most of the time I just leave it there on standby) I’m down to one bar of five. Even the iPhone, which I’ve heard has quite a low battery life, can at least attempt to make it through an entire day. As such, I’ve had to keep my BlackBerry charger in my drawer at work, and charge the phone at home using my dad’s BlackBerry charger. The other main flaw is how the phone just sporadically freezes on you. Very, very, very annoying. There’s a little clock sign that comes up when the BlackBerry is still loading doing something, and for minutes at a time, my phone can just stay frozen on that.

In terms of tariff, I’m on O2 and I pay £18.50 for unlimited texts, 100 minutes and 100MB bandwidth. I’ve never exceeded bandwidth and due to WhatsApp and BBM I don’t use my phone for phone calls all that much, so I think I have myself a pretty decent deal there. (I have a few less complementary words I could say about O2’s service on the whole, but that’s an essay for another day). I am fond of my BlackBerry – it’s not pink, so I had to buy it a pink case to carry on the tradition of my favourite colour being somehow affiliated with my mode of contact, and I nickname it Lana after my number one girlcrush Lana del Rey. Like the singer itself, it is very pretty to look at, full of genius inventions, but often lets itself down when it needs to work the most.

Grade: B.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Having recently rebranded this site as a lifestyle blog a couple of weeks back, I’m going to share a few reviews of items that I use in my “lifestyle”.

When it comes to beauty products, I am one of the most low-maintenance. I’ve never fake tanned, dyed my hair, and the only make-up I wear on nights out is lipstick/lipgloss to bring out my mouth a bit (my eyes are a lost cause, they are far too small for even make-up to salvage, so I abandon the top half of my face entirely and try to focus on the lower). But, moisturiser is one of my most relied up weapons in my arsenal, and I moisturise once in the morning and once before going to bed at night. The need to ~shine up~ extends to the legs (or such was the intention, but the weather in Britain this summer didn’t really allow for any occasions to get one’s legs out in the first place). Therefore, on Boots’ 3-fo-2 deals on Soap and Glory products, I picked myself up two beauty products for the legs – one to smoothen them during a shower and the other to apply after they’ve been smoothed, as well as my favourite kind of make-up around, lipgloss.

The lipgloss, at £9, is by far the most I’ve ever spent on a cosmetic item, but I considered it worthwhile immediately. When you apply it, your lips experience a kind of “fuzzing” sensation, and honest to god and not at all any kind of placebo effect, my lips genuinely swelled as a result of them! Now, for someone who idolises Lana del Rey and her luscious lips, this made the lipgloss an automatic win, but the scent, the shimmer the gloss gave to my lips and the general aura of sexiness the product brought to my face meant that it sat head and shoulders above all my other lipglosses.

My memory of the prices of the other two products for the legs are, but knowing me and my borderline annoying obsession with counting the pennies, they would have been £9, give or take two or three quid, due to the nature of the 3-for-2 deal (that is, I would not have considered it mathematically or economically sound to get one or two things that was drastically cheaper or more expensive than the third, as that wouldn't bve making the most of the offer.) In terms of use, the Flake Away tub goes first: I apply it in the two or so minutes that I don't have the shoerhead running when I'm waiting for my hair conditioner to set in. You take a mall chunk and basically spread it across your legs. The texture of the product means that it scrubs away any dead skin and leaves your legs completely smooth. The act of scrubbing isn't totally comfortable, but it doesn't hurt either, and as any young woman who looks after her looks will attest to, no pain no gain. And then, after all this is done, you shake the nozzle of the Glistener, apply in small patches across your legs, et viola, perfectly smooth skin!

The only flaw in all three of these products would be thus: 1) the lipgloss - I got drunk and lost the damn thing. ;____; I was heartbroken! 2) the Flake Away scrub - the initial discomfort of using it, and 3) the Glistener - it has too much glitter and sparkle on it, sparkle which very easily transfers itself to the rest of your body (say you use your hands to rub it in, then casually run your hands through your hair. The glitter will somehow find its way onto your forehead). But aside from that, they are all wonderful products, with a great fragrance, easy to use for the make up n00b, and do their jobs wonderfully.

Lipgloss: A+
Flake Away: A-
Glistener: B+/A-

You're delicious.

Here are tasty things I've had this week:

Some of the food on offer at a garden party we went to last Saturday.

Vanilla & strawberry cheesecake ice cream with rasberry coulis, Haagen-Dazs.

Chilli con carne and rice, £2.95, work canteen.

Cheese, onion and tomato sandwich, £1.20, work canteen.

Some liquid chocolates my brother made at his church.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

First day of the Month Nostalgia.

I'm not rolling back the rivers of time too much with today's photo, which was taken around this time last year, when my brother Tom and I spent all afternoon trying to perfect our renditions of Justin Bieber's Baby and Eminem & Rihanna's Love the Way you Lie (with me rapping Eminem's part and Tom singing Rihanna's, just for the gender role-reversal bant). The look of unadulterated glee on our faces is due to Tom having fudged up a line, and both of us cracking up laughing.

It's also worth noting that, whilst this photo wasn't taken too long ago time-wise, it feels like a universe away in the sense that it was taken at our old house. Since then, we've moved to a new, larger (to say the least) abode, and with it, already had several legendary moments of sibling lolz. But this was one of the most endearing of our old place. :)

A girl's just as hot as the shoes she choose.

The weather in Britain is nothing if not erratic; we have days of nothing but rain followed by a whole week of blissful sunshine. As such, it's important to vary my footwear with the levels of sunshine, and here are two pairs that have helped me brave the storm that is the tempestuous British summertime.

Hunter boots, £85.

I won these at a competition at Lovebox, and as such, I don't even mind when it rains because it means I get to flaunt my gorgeous designer wellies! They are very comfortable and well-fitting (I find that with other pairs of wellies you have to buy one or two sizes larger than the actual size of your feet, but these ones I got in my natural size, 4, and they fitted a treat), and I adore the hot pink/reddish shade of them. The colour makes them deliberately out there and they offer great protection to the trousers I wear to work (when I get to work, I put the boots in my drawer and slip into a pair of flats. So clothes and shoes have been saved thanks to the HB). Practical, stylish and jazzy, I adore my Hunter boots. =)

Suede heels, £10 in the sale (original price: £29.50), Marks & Spencer.

I get a lot of my clothes from Marks & Spencer, which many consider unusual as their style isn't usually befitting of my age range. But what they may lack in teenage edginess, they more than make up for in comfort, and this is epitomized in these pretty brown heels, which I coupled with sundresses all of last week during the rare spell of sunshine. The heel will never rival a Manolo Blahnik for sexiness, and it is quite chunky, but that means that clumsy old me can actually walk for them, and the usage of fabric across the middle of the shoe is a particularly sweet touch.

Since entering the working world, I've actually been paying closer attention to footwear, so expect more updates about what shoes I've added to my collection!