Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Experimental Hair Do Club

In all my years I have never really experimented with my hair. I occasionally cut my own fringe but even that can turn out to be a nightmare. I have forever left my boring hair in the hands of the professionals, but I'm not even sure why as it ALWAYS looks the same.
Boot's Botanics Deepest Mulberry
Over the weekend I decided to bite the bullet and purchased a dye from Boots. I had various recommendations from friends and had an idea of the brands I'd trust from the ads.When I went into Boots this was all ruined as none of the colours I liked on the branded packets looked like what I had in mind. As ever I wanted something nondescript. Reddy brown with lots of texture and not a flat colour. My natural hair is very multi-coloured so I don't want it to be unnatural.

Boots Botanical had a nice colour facing me from the front of the bottle - but of course it's not just the front of the packet you need to look at. The back of the box is where the 'if you are starting with this colour your hair will come out this colour' box. This box actually had a colour that suited my original AND a result that was exactly what I wanted.
I started as dark blonde...apparently
Question: Why do they make the actual dye purple?! Honestly it is terrifying thinking I am going to have purple hair. Not a good look. As I'm a wimp I went for semi perm, 24 washes to be precise. And what is the universal rule of this? If you hate it, it will never wash out, love it? It will wash out in 5 minutes.

My hair was honestly purple. When it came to washing through time the water in the bath was purple. Eventually it washed out to a feint pink. The proof however is in the blow dry. How did this turn out? Amazing! I completely loved it. Exactly the colour I wanted. New problem? Please don't wash out...

Here is before:

And after...

Can you see me under there?
Trying to get the light right

So...what do you think?!
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Monday, 24 September 2012

Half Marathon Training: Week 5

I haven't done a sporty post for a while, it's because I've been pretty sporadic in my training. Some weeks I totally kill it, am motivated and all is good, some weeks I opt for the extra time in bed and sack it off completely. I've just 'finished week 5' of a training plan that culminates in my half marathon in October and actually did stick to it (there or thereabouts) the pinnacle of this week? A 10 mile run on Sunday. This is longer than I've ever ran, but I do comfortably run 8 miles in training bit I haven't been training like that for a while so my prediction is: this is gonna burn.

I wrote the above before my run, right now I am 'post' and how do I feel? Amazing. It was chucking it down with rain so I popped on a peaked cap to save my glasses and myself from total blindness, updated my running playlist with some new music and set off. I was doing a straight out and back, that's 5 miles one way - turn around and come home. I got up earlyish to force myself to eat. Usually I don't tend to eat before a run as I do it first thing in the morning. What I've learnt through this training though is that it's so much easier to eat in the evening when you've got some 'fuel' in you.

I also bought a couple of bottles of Lucozade and drank one with my breakfast (gag) and took another with me. Again usually I wouldn't bother with a drink but thought I would need it. I ran at a comfortable pace knowing I wanted to do the whole thing non stop, I would call this a 6-7 out of 10 on the effort scale. I would have been able to comfortably held a conversation should I have been running with someone else.

I reached 5 miles and felt great. The distance was a bit deceiving as the first three miles flew by, but by my judgement the 3 mile mark and 5 mile were pretty close by, they felt miles away. I didn't feel the need to stop for a big stretch half way and just wanted to carry on, so around I turned to come home. Amazing. There was also some nice hills. One on the way back was a nasty uphill, but the beauty of doing an out and back is that I knew I was going to be rewarded with a pretty nice downhills soon after.

I could have done it again. Feel great and pretty confident on my half marathon now - that is most definitely a mistake!
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Sunday, 23 September 2012

Glossybox: September Rising Stars

I'm pretty late blogging this - I'm also going to keep it short and snappy. Loved the packaging and the green box. Specially designed by freelance illustrator Maggie Li for one month only.
Glossybox designed by Maggie Li
On opening it felt a bit light. The first thing to catch my eye was an envelope reading 'Rodial nature, science, skincare'. Inside? Two variations each of very small samples. The first Glamoxy Snake Serum. Initially was a bit excited thinking it may be made of something very exotic however on visiting their website and also seeing 'Dragons Blood' products I believe this to be a marketing ruse.
Rodial Snake Serum
I had to fish around a bit for the rest of the products. Disappointingly I had another tiny perfume sample this time from the crazy house of Lady Gaga. She has apparently bottled fame. Clever. The 'black fluid' is pretty wasted in this vile as you can't see it. Perhaps in a full size bottle you will be in awe of this concept. I wasn't . The smell was also pretty standard. Nothing I will be running out and buying. It's quite heavy and not how I imagine Lady Gaga will smell. I'm sure her little monsters will be rushing out to buy. Little word of advice for anyone who will buy it, apply sparingly it is pretty pungent and lingers. If you are someone who tends to lose smells quite easily and feels like they aren't wearing perfume after 5 minutes of application this may be one for you.
Lady Gaga Bottled Fame
More hair oil next. This is a frequent product in my glossy box. This bottle seems a decent size but is only partially full. It smells nice and spoiler alert - I'm colouring my hair at some stage this week so will maybe give it a go depending on it's colour sealing properties.
Maghrabain Hair Oil
The most substantial feeling product in this month's box is the Vichy Idealia Day Care Cream. Again this may be a bit of a ruse as the box itself feels like it's the substantial thing. The cream inside is quite liquidy and not very thick, however on application my skin was glowy and light reflecting but it also felt a bit damp and not absorbed by the skin. Thus in a couple of minutes I was no longer any different to pre-application.

Vichy Idealia Cream
Finally the Balance Me under eye cream, a very small sample that doesn't appear to be filling it's 7ml casing. It doesn't feel particularly effective under eye, a little sticky after application. All in all, not the best box. I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt but next month may be make or break. I'm surprised at this especially all the stick they received after August's box...until next time.
Under eye cream

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Soho Fun Run

How to make friends on the tube? Have your face painted like a tiger, or cat depending on who you talk to. Why would you have your face painted you may ask? Well I may have run around Soho with one leg in a pair of tights and a friend in another leg doing a 3 legged bar crawl. Just another day at the office.

The Soho fun run is in aid of Vision Charity and public humiliation is the name of the game. With a vague map and clues you schlep around London looking like a right goon aiming to decipher clues and picking up drinks along the way. The event culminates in Soho square where music, dancing and more drinks ensue all in aid of charity.

'Prize' for completing the course? I think not
Sticky hair
Smug people on the right side of the cage
Repping it up post a soaking
So, we go home after all this looking ridiculous, but - knowing you're doing your bit.
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Saturday, 22 September 2012

Restaurant Review: Ping

Restaurants that have opened to hype and high expectation recently have included Meat Liquor, Sushi Samba and Duck & Waffle. All have lived up to said hype and been amazing. Another that has been on my lust list is Ping - a dining and ping pong concept (not to be confused with the chain restaurant Ping Pong). Reviews have been good, the idea is good my expectations were high.

We arrived at our booked time of 730 and were shown to our seats, the place wasn't too busy yet (Wednesday evening). We perused the cocktail menu and soaked up a bit of atmosphere. A short time later we were asked to move to another (identical) table close by. We didn't really mind as hadn't ordered anything yet. Our waiter was a young trendy type decked out in 'sports gear' the ladies dressed in vintage cheer leader style outfits.

Table decorations including cheese grater tea light holder

First up, drinks order, I opted for a passion fruit cosmo. This materialised pretty promptly with a very satisfyingly limey G&T for H. At this stage our waiter informed us we'd have to wait 20 minutes or so to order food as the kitchen just had an order of 60 pizzas from a large party. Fine by us, we were in no rush. It is also worth noting when I booked I asked about booking a ping pong table and was told these are done when you arrive you put your name on a board and get a table that way. We weren't warned this large group had reserved the tables until 10pm (regular punters can't do this). We said that was fine and put out names down for 10 o clock, alcohol would make us better, right?

Back to the food, the pizzas are all very reasonably priced at £7.70. We opted for a San Paolo which is chicken and cream cheese and a Frasers Fvourite with sausage and bacon, yep healthy as you'd imagine. The food didn't  take very long at all to arrive and the size was about right for one each, the dough was pretty think and well; doughy.

The Ping Menu
Frasers Favourite

San Paolo
Here is where I'm going to get pretty critical - you'll soon see why. There wasn't loads of topping and the pizza was no where near as good as say Santore. The 'chili oil' on the table had about as much kick as a baby kitten purring over a ball of wool. Still we were pretty satisfied. Here's where it went wrong. It was 9pm by now and when the waiter came to take our plates he said 'do you want the bill', in a way that meant 'I want you out of here'. Do you WANT us to want the bill? We had a ping pong table booked for an hour away and wanted to try a Ping Porn (later) and have a couple more cocktails. His response? 'Well we actually needed this table back at 8.30'.
Couple of pictures to break up the rant
Chicken-y goodness. The San Paolo was better
Where to start? 1) one hour table turn in the evening?! That's practically fast food, 2) we weren't advised of any time limit on the table on booking 3) we couldn't order for a good 45 minutes because of the large party leaving a grand total of 15 minutes to play with?

On voicing these concerns out waiter looked nonplussed and buggered off somewhere. A while later he grudgingly bought the dessert menu. We said to him, as we were pretty put off by this damp squib we'll just leave and sod our ping pong table (we said it in a much more polite and understanding way). He made tiny noises about 'no no stay'. So we did, rightly or wrongly.

We ordered the Ping Porn, who can turn down a pizza base smothered in nutella and mixed berries. It was as expected on arrival. Pretty good but the dough was again quite thick so after the pizza it was pretty stodgy and filling.
The Ping Porn
Thick dougy, chocolatey partial goodness
Slosh. Yes I had it all over my face
We had another cocktail feeling a bit like criminals who no one wanted around and at the allotted time headed to our ping ping table. As predicted we were both amazing. Balls were flying everywhere and we spent most of our time chasing them all over the shop. Fortunately the other tables are also doing this. There are three in total and we were on the middle one with two large parties either side. A tip for you, go on the side with your back to the mirror- not the bar or you may find yourself chasing balls to the bar pretty frequently whereas the mirror breaks there stride.

I'm ready. Scouting out the playing field
After this we went to the bar to pay up. Our card had been taken as we arrived earlier as 'we have had a number of people just leave without paying in the last couple of days' personally I can't really believe this, this place doesn't feel like it would attract that sort of crowd. To sum up, a good concept but executed badly. Perhaps they are teething problems, perhaps we were unlucky on the night because of this party. It's put me off a bit do I certainly won't be rushing back, which is a damn shame. Service makes so much of a difference between ranting about a poor experience and raving about re-booking immediately.

Still, 'Bounce' is opening in October. Run by the same crowd that own All Star Lanes and opening nearby in Bloomsbury this will perhaps beat out ping in the dining/ponging stakes. Will keep you posted...
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Friday, 21 September 2012

YO SUSHI! Sushi School

It's no secret Sushi is my favourite food so as a recent birthday treat I took a fellow sushi lover for sushi making class at YO! I wasn't sure what to expect, my only experience of sushi making up until now has been at various events where you get to make one roll/bit of sushi and that's your lot. I was only expecting to make a couple of bits at YO....oh how I was wrong.

We made a whopping 32 pieces of sushi each...and a hand roll. That is an incredible and unmanageable amount of food. We planned on eating it all in the restaurant after the lesson so wondered why the teacher kept referring to take away. Now we knew. Mind you we didn't end up eating the take-away. It isn't really safe the next day and we had a whopping great Chinese planned for the evening.

First up we made the simple cucumber maki. The 'bread and butter' of your sushi. No one chooses this as the main event but it generally makes up the tray of sushi we all know and love. Everything was laid out ready for us so this was our first practise of using the rolling mat, clearly a skill that is learnt over time. I must say my skills got so good I was self declared top of the class.

Next up was our first ISO of the day - this stands simply for inside out roll (In Side Out, get it?) To master this you have to leave your sushi rice hanging over the seaweed so you aren't left with a gap when you are finished. Likened to seeing if a meringue has peaked / your eggs are whisked enough we lifted this up to make sure it was stuck. We Won!

Once we had done this it was turned over and covered in as much chili as we wanted to douse it in. I opted for an even moderate coverage - and thought it looked rather pretty.I must say, my roll was again pretty awesome. This was round whereas the maki had to be square. I found round much easier to manage.

Next up was futomaki, which was created like the iso but has another layer of seaweed inside that it wasn't ISO. Again this was a vegetarian sushi with egg, soy, cucumber, ginger and avocado.

Following another successful rolling of my futomaki we were onto one of my favourite YO! Sushi dishes, hand rolls. This was a crab and avocado hand roll. We learn that in Sushi whenever there is avocado there is always Japanese mayonnaise. Which is basically mayonnaise with a tiny bit of wasabi. To make it is really simple - the easiest one so far. A nice rugby ball shape of sushi rice, crab sticks, avocado, mayonnaise and sesame seeds (black and white).

When you think of sushi you can't not think of California ISO rolls. More crab sticks, avocado, mayonnaise and more sesame seeds. i was incredibly proud of my roll and if I say so myself it was better than the teachers.

As if we hadn't enough sushi, we were done rolling things and moved on to the nigiri machine. This is a trade secret. Those perfect shapes of nigiri rice and Gunkan rice are not hand formed. There is a magic machine that makes the perfect shapes. First up we made Gunkan which is roughly translated as 'battleship' as that's kind of what they look like. This was my least favourite ingredient of the day - fish eggs. Very orange fish eggs. This was incredibly easy to make, as was the Salmon Nigiri.

Simply...pop your nigiri prepared rice ball from the machine, top with a little wasabi for sticking purposes and pop on your salmon. Ta da. This concluded our sushi preparation session. Can you believe we made all this sushi? To eat? EACH?

I would highly recommend the Rice and Rolls lesson from YO! Sushi, the value is incredible. To give you an example we made 8 California rolls, these circulate around the belt for £3 for two - so this dish alone was 'worth' £12. To find out more about this class and others they do check out the website here.

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