Food: The Year of the Burger

Forget Chinese New Year, and the year of the rooster – for me it’s all about the year of the burger.

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 1_zpscaakdr4r.jpgIt’s clear from both my Instagram and previous blog posts that I’m a massive lover of burgers (as well as runny eggs and pretty houses!). I’ve tried burgers than are pretty much steak in a brioche bun. I’ve tried “London’s Best Burger.” I’ve had McDonald’s and other fast food burgers. I’ve had fun toppings, plain Janes and pretty much everything in between. I’ve suffered allergic reactions (thanks Byron for just removing the tomato slice then handing the burger back!), felt too stuffed to move. I’ve eaten more than my fair shame of bad burgers, but equally I’ve eaten some bloody damn good ones!

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 5_zpsbhtsdznk.jpg photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 4_zpsjpvojda6.jpgProbably the most inventive place I’ve been for burger toppings is Burger & Cocktails in Brighton. The burgers themselves were thin patties cooked well-done, but quite flavourful and juicy – and they really let the toppings shine. I went for a mac’n’cheese and bacon combo (carbs on carbs, and adding bacon is never bad), whilst W enjoyed a spicy, oozy, cheesy number. Sides were also excellent, with the onion rings being the best I’ve ever had. And I don’t need to say more than this: alcoholic chocolate orange milkshake.

I’ve also enjoyed GBK, though I was gutted that the Camembert burger seems to have disappeared. Beef patty, Camembert, onions, bacon and shoestring fries allllll inside a bun was pretty much a party in my mouth. I’m not a huge fan of a lot of the other burgers on the menu, though with my new found love of beetroot their signature is now high on my list to try!

 photo Honest Burger Review 1_zpsxg6a81ra.jpg photo Honest Burger Review 9_zpsno3bkbbe.jpgIn terms of the best burger patty, the winner so far has to be Honest burgers. My review is due to go live in a few weeks, but here’s a sneak peek: excellent meaty flavours, well cooked, an soft but robust brioche bun and the BEST chips. I also love that I can pretty much eat everything on the menu as there’s no tomato slices and no cheeky relish lurking. I’m also a big fan of the pickled cucumber…

Five Guys is also close to my heart, though I’m still unsure as to whether it’s worth the rather high price-tag. I do love it for a quick lunch, but at £12+ for a chip-burger-drink combo (I can’t resist the still peach fanta – and it’s double-cheese-and-bacon or go home!) it’s pricey. Unlimited free toppings helps though – my go-to is grilled onions, mustard, mushrooms and lettuce. Yum yum.

 photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 6_zpswsobxllt.jpgOf course, I can’t not mention Mac & Wild. It’s Veni-Moo was voted London’s best burger of 2016, so obviously I HAD to try it. I loved it, but I’m unsure if it’s worthy of it’s title. It was bloody good, with juicy patties, runny cheese, cream Bernaise, pickles, mustard, a decent bun, candied bacon. But it was just too big. It was impossible to eat as a burger, definitely a knife-and-fork job, and even then it had to be eaten element by element. Just not quite there for me, I’m gutted to say. Though I’ve since been back and gorged on venison Chateaubriand. Pricier, but worth it.

But this is the year I try new places, branch out. I have SO many burger places I want to try. Shake Shack has been on my list for what feels like years, and now new branches are popping up I can avoid the huge queues in Covent Garden. As a black pudding lover, Bleecker St is somewhere I NEED to visit asap. With Spitalfields being one of my favourite weekend haunts, I’m not too sure why I’ve not visited yet. Then there’s Patty & Bun, which again seems like somewhere I need to visit. There’s Smashburgers which has opened up in MK and Brighton, a new concept which I’d love to try. And of course, I’m also open to finding the best fried chicken burger too…

So now it’s over to you. Where is the best burger you’ve ever had? Where do you recommend? Don’t just limit it to London, I’m willing to travel for the perfect burger…

Restaurant Review: Mac & Wild, London

Scotland is somewhere super-close to our heart. And I love burgers. So when we found out about a Scottish restaurant who made London’s best burger of 2015, there was no question about where we were spending our anniversary. We donned some fancy-ish clothes (me bringing out a dress I love, but is too dressy for every-weekend wear, too low-cut for work), I whacked on the date-night makeup (because wearing Mac Diva is great for eating a burger…) and we headed out for a much anticipated evening.

mac-wild photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 1_zpsykqkcpjl.jpgAnd it didn’t disappoint.

I could just finish the review of Mac & Wild here, by telling you to go, to go book a table, eat plenty of meat, drink lots of whisky and feel very merry, very happy and very full. It would sum up exactly how I felt about the place. But obviously I’ll have to tell/show you exactly why you should make the effort to get to this Scottish gem in the heart of London.

It’s small, it’s cozy, it’s ‘trendy’ lighting didn’t make for great photos. Walls were adorned with stag’s heads and rather graphic photos. Staff were outstandingly welcoming and friendly, taking the time to talk us through the menu and ask about our days. And the food was damn good.

 photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 2_zpshnhr7kff.jpgWe started by splitting a ‘lighter’ choice alongside a heavier one. The Bone Broth was deceptively heavy, in a good way. Rich, unctuous, this is the kind of thing you crave when ill. I’d happily bulk buy and store in the freezer. The Scotch Egg was a heavier choice. A perfectly cooked egg (no set yolk here), encased in wonderfully flavourful venison meat, covered in crisp breadcrumbs and served with a mustard so perfect I’m tempted to contact Mac & Wild and find their supplier. I was a little wary that the meat was rare, but it was piping hot, tender and worked well all together. Definitely a filling portion!

 photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 3_zpsenykwgk9.jpgW went ‘date-night suitable’ for his main, choosing the Venison Steak with Bearnaise. The steak arrived pre-sliced, and cooked as it’s meant to be cooked (there was no choice given upon ordered, so be warned if you aren’t a fan of rarer meat!). It was gorgeous – extremely tender and beautifully rich in flavour rendering the silky and buttery Bearnaise unnecessary. I stoke a piece and almost, almost regretted not suggesting sharing a Chateaubriand.

The reason for not regretting? Well, London’s best burger of course…

 photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 5_zpsgn6iiev0.jpg photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 6_zpsz7at3wrc.jpgWhilst I’m not quite sure it deserves that title (more research needed, you see), it was a damn good burger. Both patties were cooked well – tender and moist, a slight hint of pink to the beef. They were well-season whilst remaining a good ‘meat’ flavour; you could tell which was which. The Bearnaise added moistness and richness, the cheese and mustard (more of that addictive mustard!) adding a salty kick. I usually pick the pickles out of a burger, but here they worked perfectly to add a much needed tang. I added the Candied Bacon, but honestly I’d say it’s not really necessary (shock horror!) – I found it got a little lost amongst all the flavours, and wasn’t quite crisp enough to add an extra texture. The bun held it all together, but the big issue with the burger? It was just too big. It was impossible to eat all elements at once and ultimately I felt it suffered. And date-night suitable? Definitely not. My lipstick was down my chin before I was halfway through the burger…

 photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 7_zpspossdcak.jpg photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 4_zps2xqiqurt.jpg photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 8_zpseuo5yvwv.jpgWe both went for sides of Haggis Mac & Cheese. I’m a huge mac’n’cheese fan (if you hadn’t already guessed), and haggis is a major foodie love of mine. The two together was something I’d never considered (though I’m now anxiously awaiting Burn’s Night) – it’s a pretty good combo! The Mac was cheesy and rich, the haggis moist and peppery, and the crispy topping by far the best topping on a restaurant one I’ve tried. My only complaint? It was a little dry, though I saw ones at different tables that looked a lot looser and creamier. I was a bit jealous if I’m honest!

 photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 10_zpsril5vxv3.jpg photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 9_zpscejbwlag.jpgPuddings were also a success. The Cheeseboard came with a good selection, though we were a bit perplexed at the lack of biscuits considered one of them was a softer cheese. My desert, however, was the winner. The “I Shouldn’t But I Will’ was a dark chocolate Nemesis, salted caramel sauce, orange, almonds, & taffy crumble base. I was recommended a side of salted caramel ice-cream; I declined but rather wish I hadn’t as the portion did need something to break it up a little. That said, we both enjoyed it – I just preferred the savoury options and rather wished I’d tried the Haggis Pops instead!

We paired our food courses with whiskies, generally going with their suggestions (apart from my desert; I was recommended a smoky Islay whisky of which I’m not a fan, so went with my favourite tipple). All were deliciously drinkable and did complement the dishes perfectly. We left clutching our stomaches and swaying slightly…

Mac & Wild definitely impressed us, and it’s certainly left us wanting more. I know without a doubt I’ll be back to sample more. Their Sunday Roasts sound rather intriguing, they have a delicious sounding brunch menu, and their Dirty Buttery Mash sounds too good to miss.

Have you ever tried Haggis? What’s your favourite London restaurant?

Lifestyle: Results with Lucy Review

I’ve come to the conclusion I needed a regime to get me to start to exercise. Or rather, to force me to slot exercise into my daily routine. The gym just doesn’t work for me, neither does exercise classes; I’m too self-conscious of my bodyshape, of my fitness level, of how red I get to fully take part. Plus London gym prices?!Just think of how much Dairy Milk I could buy for that money…

 photo Results with Lucy_zpsgau33pxj.jpgBut quite often I found myself saying “I’ll do it tomorrow”, or “too tired.” And yes, I am tired. Getting through the door late after an intense day of work and spending too long on the tube is not particularly conductive to a good workout session. So having something a bit more structured, telling me what workouts to do that day or (on the best days!) telling me I can have a rest day, is working wonders. I’m keeping up with the schedule, I’m finding myself actually looking forward to exercise. And now my ‘plan’ is coming to an end, I’ve found myself drafting out my own version, figuring out how I can keep it up.

When I was offered the chance to try out The Student Plan* through Results with Lucy I have to say I was skeptical. A lot of workouts I had previously tried needed a lot of equipment or far too much space. Plus I have always had my doubts about plans like this. I was dubious that it could actually work and was under the impression that it was just another celebrity endorsed gimmick. That said, there’s not a huge amount of emphasis on Lucy at all, it’s much more about the qualified personal trainers – they take you through your paces, show you the moves and shout at you to keep you going. It’s pretty much like being in a proper exercise class, just there’s no audience to watch me!

 photo Results with Lucy 5_zpsct1yefxg.jpg photo Results with Lucy 4_zpschg9cmvw.jpgThe Student Plan gives you 4 workout playlists a week, allowing 3 rest days, unlimited access to all workout videos, and a small recipe library for some inspiration – for £10.50 a month. Now to be honest, I’ve not really used many of the recipes yet as most of them aren’t to my taste (I prefer a high-fat low-carb diet as much as possible) but they would be great if you were stuck for ideas. Workouts range from arund 20 minutes to 1 hour including warm up/cool down, and you’re warned about any equipment needed before you start. I can confirm you only need a tiny space too!

The workouts? Well, they are hard. I hate, hate, hate leg day with a passion (jumping squats are my ultimate phobia). But having said that I do love the variety. There’s boxing workouts, dancing sessions. There’s videos targetting certain areas, even challenges. One of my favourites is the 100 Squat Challenge, but I’m also loving The Tummy Tuck.

Now, I do have ‘before’ photos and more up-to-date ones; they won’t be making an appearance on here. There is a noticeable difference in the two, but I don’t feel quite comfortable with putting it out there for the whole world to see. Instead I can reveal that I have lost two inches from my legs, and just under an inch from my jiggly tum – and I’m seeing definition which I’ve never seen before. For me, though, it’s not really been about the appearance/weight side of things. It’s been about improving my appalling fitness levels and actually feeling healthier – and for those reasons alone this plan has been a sucess. A few months ago there’s no way I could have done 20 sit-ups, let alone 50+. I can do 200 squats pretty much no problem. I feel so much better in myself!

 photo Results with Lucy 1_zps8xdutkwt.jpgWhilst I’m not 100% sure if I’ll continue with a subscription after my current one times out, the plan has done what it needed to do – made me enjoy exercise. I’m now cranky (sorry W!) if I miss a day, I look forward to coming home and working out, and I don’t think I’ll have a problem in putting together my own workouts. And if I need another kick in the right direction, I’ll be straight back on the plan!

*I received a three-month subscription in exchange for an honest review – and I genuinely loved the programme!

What exercise plan do you follow? Are you gym-phobic like me?!

Review: Burgers & Cocktails, Brighton

Seriously, could there be a more perfect combination? Other than perhaps “tea & cake” I think not!

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 5_zpsxez9ugj2.jpgWhilst wandering the North Laines of Brighton we stumbled upon Burgers & Cocktails (part of the Giraffe group). Drawn in by mention of two of my favourite things, we clocked the tummy-rumble-inducing menu, spied the student discount sign and our evening meal was sorted. We strolled up just before 7 to find it virtually empty; a sign that ususally puts us off, but we pererved as I really wanted a good burger. I’m glad we did. A good burger I definitely got.

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 1_zpsupvfjljp.jpgStarting with Mojitos (my cocktail of choice, sweet, sharp, strong and yum), we deliberated over burgers and combos of sides for far longer than socially acceptable. Burgers are a serious business, you guys! W eventually went for the Green Chilli Popper Burger, described as a little on the hot side. With a beef patty, green chilli relish, cream cheese stuffed jalapeño poppers & fondue raclette cheese this wasn’t a small burger! We were initially disappointed at the flat ‘McDonalds’ style patties, however it really worked well in both of our burgers. They were definitely good quality despite the thinness, with a good beef flavour coming through – and there’s no way you could eat these with a thick patty!

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 3_zpswh5asdg3.jpg photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 4_zpszyta5fwn.jpgFor me, there was only one real choice (though I did have a little food envy at the sight of the fondue raclette cheese!) – the Mac Mountain. A self-confessed mac’n’cheese addict, this one had had my mouth watering all afternoon. Allergy info checked, thanks to our fab waiter who said it had “red bits” he needed to check weren’t tomato, I was soon tucking into “beef patty topped with mac ‘n’ cheese, special sauce, smoky relish, lettuce & pickles” minus the sauce, relish and pickles, plus two rashers of bacon. Because everything needs more bacon. This was perfect, pure carbs-on-carbs indulgence. The bacon was perfectly cooked, crispy without being dry and brittle. The brioche bun squished well around the filling.

The mac’n’cheese deserves a special mention. Spiced up with jalapeño and chilli (the aforementioned red bits) this was lighter than expected, but still wonderfully cheesy and rich. The side portion W ordered came crisp with breadcrumbs, my portion tasted wonderful in my burger.

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 2_zpsa5og87zm.jpgAs I was already on double-carbs, I avoided fries on the side. Not for the salad option (we were on holiday) – I demolished a portion of the best onion rings I’ve had the pleasure of eating. I’m a huge fan of them, but they can often be lacking onion flavour, watery, soggy, greasy or (ultimate crime) breadcrumbed. These were great – properly oniony, crisp, a light batter and they stayed crunchy right until the end of the bowl. I’d go back for these alone.

And because we had been greedy enough, we went for Hard Shakes instead of a dessert. I know, we deserve a medal…

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 7_zps4nsnlzvm.jpg photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 6_zpsfelerkxz.jpgI highly recommend saving room for these! W’s “Chocolate Monkey” (banana shake, chocolate sauce, chocolate chips, chocolate liqueur & vodka, whipped cream & vanilla ice cream) was a little banana-y for my taste. However my “It’s Not Terry’s It’s Ours” was divine. Triple sec, crème de cacao, delicious brownie pieces, whipped cream & vanilla ice cream made for an amazingly thick shake, chocolatey, orangey and a massive alcoholic kick.

So if you’re in Brighton and in need of a burger, this place is great. Don’t come expect gourmet burgers, mediumly pink. Expect filthy burgers (don’t come on a first date), massive toppings, and a need to lie-down afterwards…

Where’s the best burger you’ve ever had?

 

Beauty: Two New Lipsticks

You may have seen in my ‘What I Got‘ post that my lipstick collection was added to over the Christmas period. I’ve been quite restrained with my makeup buying in the last few months and (other than trialling wedding potentials of course!) I will continue to focus on using what I’ve got. However there were two lipsticks on my wishlist and I was lucky enough to receive them both.

 photo New Winter Lipsticks 3_zpszrcsm6aj.jpgThe first is my first ‘drugstore’ lipstick in a long, long time (the Halloween lipstick doesn’t count, right?!). I’ve been intrigued about Kate Moss’ collaboration with Rimmel for a while, but wasn’t taken with any of the original shades. Her Nude collection however was another story, so I asked to be surprised with either ’45’ or ’48’ – I ended up opening ’48’ and I’m really rather glad. It’s an extremely unique shade, unlike anything I own. Initially I wasn’t sure but I’ve grown to love it.

It’s like a vampier version of my all-time favourite lipstick. I do find the formula slightly tricky – it’s soft in the bullet making a fine line more difficult than what I’m used to, and I am discovering it is a little drying. Nothing extreme though, and the colour more than makes up for it. Whilst it isn’t particularly long-lasting I do find it wears off evenly and reapplies fairly well. If only the packaging didn’t feel and look so cheap!

 photo New Winter Lipsticks 1_zpsn3wfmunx.jpgThe second has almost, almost become my favourite lipstick. It’s definitely pipped itself right up there to become my top red lip, I absolutely adore it.

Slightly darker and cherry-toned, MAC Diva the ideal red lip for a pale girl with warm undertones. Nothing makes me look more ill than a blue-toned lipstick (despite the benefit it has on my teeth), and thankfully this is completely different. With hindsight maybe asking for this without a single swatch was a little risky, but it’s a risk that’s paid off. I love the darker, bold red, it lasts extremely well (a fish finger sandwich, chips, two glasses of rose and a whisky didn’t wash away this bad boy!), and I find the colour really rather flattering. It’s not the most comfortable lipstick in the world, but as a matte it’s far away from being the worst. If you’re looking for a new red lipstick I highly recommend giving Diva a swatch!
 photo New Winter Lipsticks 4_zpsrfhykcm9.jpg photo New Winter Lipsticks 2_zpsjciwzgin.jpg

What’s your current favourite lipstick? I’m on the lookout for super long-lasting ones so feel free to give a recommendation!

Beauty: Max Factor Miracle Match Foundation Review

Up until a few months ago I was perfectly content with my (rather small) foundation collection. In all honestly I’m not a huge foundation person; I don’t wear it on a day-to-day basis, I’m pale enough to make shade selection difficult and it’s all just a bit much faff for me. I tend to only wear it on an evening out, and it was during my birthday drinks that I noticed Rimmel’s Match Perfection definitely does not photograph well. Que wandering round Boots trying to find a foundation that was both pale enough and didn’t contain SPF. And this was surprisingly difficult.

 photo Max Factor Miracle Match Foundation Review 3_zpsfjyiimqt.jpgI stumbled across this offering, and swayed by the free gift offer (I may have picked up a nail polish too) it was quickly purchased. And it’s not a purchase I have regretted. I picked up the lightest shade called ‘Light Ivory’ and it’s *just* pale enough for my ghostly complexion. I can get away with it as I have a slight olive tone to my skin, if you have cooler undertones I’d possibly avoid this one!

On applying, this foundation feels quite refreshing on the skin, almost like a serum. It noticeably evens out my skintone without looking heavy, and gives pretty decent coverage over any breakout areas. I have noticed that it feels a little sticky when you first apply it but after giving it that few minutes to ‘dry’, the stickiness disappears and powders apply easily over it. I really wasn’t getting on with this foundation at all as I found powders were causing it to look cakey; waiting those few crucial moments completely solves this problem.

 photo Max Factor Miracle Match Foundation Review 5_zpsqoewazuy.jpgThe finish is quite radiant. It’s definitely not matte, but far from shiny. It’s full-coverage, yet doesn’t look flat, and I’ve found my skin looks awake and fresh. Despite all this, I’ve found it still looks really natural. Miracle Match is a foundation enriched  with vitamins high levels of water and glycerin (1st and 3rd on ingredients list respectively) to moisturise and treat the skin. Whilst I have next-to-no clue on the actual effects these have, I can say that this foundation feels comfortable to wear, is long-lasting and doesn’t seem to dry my skin out after a few hours. In fact this held out very nicely for my latest job interview; a nice 13 hours with just a quick powder at lunchtime.

It also wins on my biggest criteria; this photographs extremely well. With no SPF causing a whitecast, no tiny glitter particles to add shine, this looks natural both in person and in photographs. It’s quickly become my night-out go-to, and even became the only foundation I bought back from university at Christmas.

My one complaint? The smell! It’s that awful, pungent fake tan smell – thankfully it completely subsides very quickly after application but those few seconds are not pleasant. It’s a little bit off-putting applying something that smells that bad to your face, though W assures me he can’t smell it!

 photo Max Factor Miracle Match Foundation Review 10_zpsofrmzbsh.jpgSo, a brief review of Max Factor’s Miracle Match Foundation – a medium-high coverage foundation offering a natural finish that lasts all day and photographs well. As long as you don’t mind the smell of biscuits.

What’s your favourite high-street foundation? Any high-end ones you can recommend?

Lifestyle: Tech Essentials

I never thought of myself as a true tech fan until I moved back to university. Then I packed up my laptop, Chromebook (which I was lucky enough to win after writing this post), my tablet*, Kindle, camera, phone…you get the picture. Turns out I have a LOT of tech!

 photo 2015-10-07 16.39.29_zpsrx2kogfr.jpgThen I thought about the fact that my phone virtually never leaves my hand at the moment (a bad thing for concentrating in lectures!) and realised that, actually, I’m pretty found of tech. I adore my camera, love blogging on the go using my Chromebook, and my laptop is a three-year old powerhouse that somehow runs as well as it did on the first day. Yes, I don’t have the best of luck with phones, but getting a new one every two years adds to the excitement…

One of my favourite bits of technology has to be a tablet. I’ve had a Nexus 7 (W kindly gave it to me, I returned the favour two weeks later with a smashed screen), which I did love however a firmware update meant it ran ridiculously slowly. When ASUS offered to send me one of their 8″ tablets* over the summer I jumped at the chance!

I’ve now had the tablet for well over a month, it’s been put through it’s paces and I’m happy to share my opinions. With things like this I always like to give them time – it’s so easy to love a new gadget before forgetting about it a few weeks later. Turns out that I haven’t fallen out of love with this tablet, and it’s getting a LOT of use.

 photo 2015-10-07 16.44.08_zpsus7xehqy.jpgIt doesn’t hurt that it looks quite sleek. I’ve never been one for white tech, but I do love this, especially with the metal-effect back. This particular tablet also lets you swap the back for bolder colours, and even use a back with a super-charged battery* – perfect for when you know you might need extra usage. I was worried that being 8″ would make the tablet chunky but it’s just thin enough to get away with it – it’s actually the perfect size to curl up in bed reading blogs with, but it’s also big enough to watch a film on. I don’t often use it to watch films (my Chromebook has an excellent screen and great sound quality) but it is pretty perfect for train journeys.

The only thing I’m not hugely thrilled with is the silver trim. Or rather how easily it seems to have scratched and chipped…

The performance is far superior to that of my Nexus. Possibly  cos my Nexus is old (it was the original one), possibly because of the recent firmware update. I’ve always been impressed with the majority of my ASUS products – both my laptop and Chromebook are from the company, my laptop in particular has lasted amazingly well.

 photo 2015-10-07 16.44.59_zpssjiey0nj.jpgI tend to use this for lazing in bed, and also a bit of cheeky online shopping (so much more enjoyable than on my phone screen!). That said I’d bought it a keyboard case and also attached it to my Logitech keyboard and used it briefly to blog – whilst not particularly easy to upload photos it’s great for quickly drafting out posts. And of course, it’s perfect for procrastination in between lectures too…

Actually, I reckon you could easily take notes on this if you were doing a more wordy subject. As a maths student I’d find it pretty difficult, but if essays are more your thing…? It’s a possibility!

 photo 2015-09-06 09.26.53_zpspxsr0el5.jpgSo is a tablet essential? Not really, and even now if I could only have one I’d take my Kindle. But I do like having it, it’s really handy for lazing in bed and using in the kitchen. And hey, it’s another bit of tech to add to my collection!

Disclaimer: ASUS sent me a tablet to review, however as always it is my honest opinion. If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t blog about it!

Do you use a tablet? What piece of tech could you not live without?

Review: Klang Earphones

A slightly different Tuesday post for me, as it doesn’t really fit into the usual ‘beauty’ or ‘fashion’ theme – though this earphones certainly add something to an outfit.

Klang Earphones1 photo 028c8d6a-fecd-4392-b296-272c62544d4f_zpszyt4nvza.jpgI was recently offered the opportunity to review some Sudio earphones of my choice, and I jumped at the chance. I rarely listen to music as I’ve never found earphones that fit and comfortable and stay in. Having long, thick hair means I frequently dislodge them just by walking, my small ears mean they can be quite painful and my pet hate is being able to hear other people’s music as it’s too loud. I was intrigued by the Klang’s wire design, with one wire looping round the back of your neck. It doesn’t help that these earphones are beautiful.

An odd thing, perhaps, to describe earphones as beautiful. But these really are lovely, stylish, modern, yet sleek and almost feminine. They just look so much better than standard headphones.

Klang Earphones2 photo de3ebf66-b8db-4b57-87a2-1caf9f237f1d_zpsh2neae9c.jpgKlang Earphones4 photo bb7a81eb-babc-4b22-b3f8-4c336432fb1f_zpsxujtku5b.jpgThe beautiful styling wasn’t just limited to the actual product. Packaging was pretty much perfection, and the leather case for these earphones is slim, chic and just damn useful (I’m the one who shreds earphone wires whilst closing a drawer…).

But it’s no good just have pretty earphones, they have to perform too. And these do. Admittedly I don’t have much to compare them with, but I genuinely don’t notice any distortion to music compared to listening through a speaker. It’s clear, I can set the volume to a nice level – as in I can’t hear someone talking next to me, but they can’t hear my music. They stay in whilst walking, mainly due to the ’round the head’ wire preventing my hair knocking things out of place.

 photo 2015-06-15 19.55.58_zpsih9amdd5.jpgThe Klang earphones are designed to go with Apple products, though work well with Android (that’s what I use) – the extra buttons are just surperlous without an iPhone. That said, I used them briefly with W’s phone and they didn’t seem to work particularly well…possibly as that’s an entirely new concept to me.

With the rising cost of earphones these seem a bit of a bargain at $60 (though I’m not sure if that’s American!), and ship from Sweden within a few days. To make them even sweeter, using this Sudio discount code Ninegrandstudent15 will get you a cheeky 15% off. And they’re so prettyyyyy.

Disclaimer time! I was offered a pair of these to try out, opinions are my own as always!

Are you a fan of music on the go? What earphones do you use?

Lifestyle: Time for an Upgrade?

Mobile phones are the bane of my life. I seriously have the worst luck with them!

 photo 8b71cff1-d327-4905-be59-ae6c7c65d477_zpsr5aqvfb3.jpgMy first one was the only one that never caused me a problem. Long live the Nokia 3310! It went down hill from there. The Motorola Razr with dodgy hinge. The Samsung Tocco with no back and unpredictable touchscreen. The Samsung Galaxy S1 – if you turned it off, it never turned on again. It would have to be sent off for repair each time. Eventually they replaced it with an S2. This was better, but my first landed in a puddle as I fell (SOBER!) out of a taxi. The replaced version was dreadful, it never charged, overheated, and kept telling me there was no SIM inside.

 photo cdb24974-574a-4192-8e8f-d2e9048987aa_zpseshs8qew.jpgMy current phone is the HTC One, and other than the DREADFUL camera I did like it. Until just before Christmas, when it decided making calls was beyond it. I would ring and hear nothing, despite the other side answering. They would ring and I would answer, but the call wouldn’t connect. Not ideal when you live on your own. My contract is up at the end of August and I honestly have no clue where to go next (I’m not an Apple person). When I was offered the chance to trial a Nokia phone, I wasn’t going to say no!

My first go at a Nokia since the glorious 3310, I was expecting good things. And mostly this phone delivered.

 photo ddaadefb-ec87-4b18-9054-7b167d041c99_zpsiwmoambq.jpgI wasn’t a huge fan of the brightly coloured back. I like my technology to look sleek and expensive, I usually stick to black pieces. This felt a bit cheap-looking and I was self-conscious using it. That said, I loved the size of it. Yes, it’s huge. No, I can’t use it one-handed. But I do like big phones, I use my phone for watching TV and reading blogs so a big (and incredibly crisp) screen was a massive bonus.

 photo 7a3cd91f-42a6-4aca-a20a-4e7c465a8201_zpsq5swrscx.jpgThe camera was excellent. Not as good as my Canon, but infinitely better than my HTC. The size meant it was also easy to hold to phone steady, leading to good quality snaps.

 photo 681ebf77-e217-45bb-9064-27cae44bda4f_zps3g4wj77g.jpgThe speed of the phone also gets a big thumbs up from me. No laggy keyboard, apps loaded immediately, no jerky scrolling. This packs in a powerful processor and it shows – it’s incredible how quickly phone technology is advancing.

 photo 4a7ad006-e891-40c8-aac2-0ce4bddcc60b_zpsf6a2llef.jpgAnother downside though, I wasn’t a huge fan of the Windows system. I loved having Windows applications on my phones (hello spreadsheets!) but the menu design and lack of apps (no Instagram, no Bloglovin) made it hard to love the phone as a whole. This was the dealbreaker for me.

 photo 5e1c206f-621e-49de-ba5c-f4f19b7e89b5_zps2a0l5noa.jpgHad the phone (in a less bright colour) been available as an Android option, I’d buy one in an instant. The size, the tech behind it, everything was great. But I just couldn’t get on with the Windows operating system and limited apps, and for that reason it is likely I’ll be sticking with Android. The only question now is what to look at next!

What phone do you have? Do you recommend it?!

Beauty: Smashbox Double Exposure Palette (Review)

Two high-end purchases in a row (my last beauty post featured the Hourglass Ambient Light Palette), I feel this is quite poor for what is essentially a student blog! I do have some budget beauty posts up my sleeve though…

 photo 2015-01-24 11.29.55_zpsnvvy8oun.jpgIn my defence, this purchase cost me nothing. Not a single penny. Technically. You see, I have what amounts to an obsession about building up Boots Points. I collect through everyday purchases, using all the vouchers (and now the app – though for some reason it is convinced my name is Debbie…), and I use Treat Street wherever I can. I scored Advantage Points on holidays, on laptops, and numerous amounts of clothes. All this meant that after just 18 months, I had a nice little amount to splurge.

The decision was overwelming, and I’d been putting it off. I was going to go for a foundation, but (1) my Rimmel ones are working perfectly, and (2) I’d be pretty damn pissed if it broke me out. Then I looked at Channel lipsticks. But even with my points, I couldn’t justify it. I’m perfectly happy with MAC, and there was no shade that jumped out at me. Benefit was a possibility, but I hate the packaging. Onto eyeshadows. Clinque was tempting, the assistant in the store rude. I decided I didn’t want to give her a sale. Then I walked by the Smashbox stand. It’s not a brand I’ve even looked at before. I saw the flurry of posts on the first Exposure palette, but it didn’t really appeal. But I spotted this. The variety of colours. The matte shades. The massive mirror. One swatch of the matte cream and I was sold. A quick google for reviews wasn’t conclusive – it’s hardly been reviewed, and what is out there isn’t appealing (the colours seem a bit washed-out – these photos are unedited in the hope they reflect the true colours!). I slept on it. I discussed it’s pros and cons (sorry Will!). And the next day I picked it up.

 photo 2015-01-24 11.37.04_zpssbepxwep.jpgTwo weeks on and I’m besotted. It’s different enough from both Naked 2 and Naked 3 that I don’t feel like I have any palette I don’t need. The colours are all fabulous.

 photo 2015-01-24 11.34.55_zpsv0seqzjz.jpg photo 2015-01-24 11.35.04_zpsgdil9dcn.jpg photo 2015-01-24 11.35.14_zpshm5oyp5m.jpgI admit I don’t get much wear out of the blues, but the rest?! LOVE. I’m especially loved a purple smokey eye, which somehow suits me really well. I never thought it would, especially with pale skin, blue eyes, and almost-ginger hair.

 photo 2015-01-24 11.37.11_zpssizddiyt.jpgThe quality is definitely on a par with the Naked Palettes, with even the matte sades being creamy (although slightly less so than the others). I’ve had zero fall out, and they are ridiculously easy to blend. Nice and long lasting too, no need to re-apply if I’m going out after work…I find with the lighter shades of Naked 3, I need to add a little more after about 8 hours.

 photo 2015-01-24 11.36.04_zpsgxmc969g.jpgI really think this palette deserves more hype than it’s getting. It’s the perfect palette for a trip away as it covers everything you will need. Neutrals, greys, purples, blues, even a pink tone. I have no doubt it will suit most skin tones, and the quality is fantastic. This is definitely a palette worth the splurge and, if you are put off by a completely neutral palette, I’d highly recommend this.

Have you tried anything from Smashbox? Do you save up your Boots Points to treat yourself?