Jamie's Italian Winter Menu | Bullring Birmingham

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Hi guys! I'm finally back on my blog after a few weeks of turmoil and being locked firmly out, but I'm here again! I felt like I was back in a groove and now I've got so many things to share, starting with a sweet evening I spent at Jamie's Italian. I've been to the Bullring destination before, with it's huge wooden beams, yellow metal chairs and damn tasty dishes. While I'd sampled a summer menu of light bruschetta and elderflower cocktails then, this time I delved into the winter menu.

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Now you know you are excited for a dinner when you check out the menu before you even arrive. That day I perused the fresh pasta and loaded pizzas online but actually chose a few antipasti and cortorni dishes. It's a classic vegetarian (or pescatarian in my case) option to choose a few starters and sides as a main, despite eyeing up a rare vegetarian bolognese, wild mushroom ravioli and truffle shuffle pizza. I absolutely love fried gnocchi but have never mastered the knack of creating it myself so these were absolutely addictive with lashings of Parmesan fonduta - a creamy, tangy sauce sprinkled with crispy sage.

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I accompanied these with my restaurant favourite, and again another dish I can't just whip up at home, the crispy squid. Unlike a usual chewy calamari, these melt-in-the-mouth bites of curly squid had a feather light texture and taste, perfectly complimented by chilli, garlic and parsley, and a creamy house aioli with a hint of paprika.

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I rounded these off with spicy fries, perfectly slim and crisped up with a fiery kick, and treated myself to a wobbly vanilla yoghurt panna cotta, mixing up the texture with spiced crumble and a zingy orange zest. It was almost like an indulgent breakfast that completed a full-flavour meal that was so tasty, I am looking forward to sampling even more of these delicious delights again hopefully soon.

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I also vlogged the visit in my latest weekly vlog! Take a peek below.


HD Brows with Benito Brow Bar | Debenhams, Bullring

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I don’t think I’m a ‘brow girl’ as I never feel like I have mine quite right. Not only are my brows two different shapes - I even feel like the two sides of my face are sisters rather than twins! Symmetry is not my best feature! I need help and guidance in this area but my brows have been looking more than groomed over this party season thanks to a trip to the Benito Brow Bar in Debenhams Bullring for their collaboration with High Definition (HD). 

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I lay back in the chair and my brows were threaded, plucked and tinted into a defined set that literally lifted my no-makeup face from sad to sculpted! Rather than a hop in-and-out of the chair experience from my local nail shop, there’s a tailored approach to totally transform your current brows. If you’re needing an overhaul like me, trust the experts and give your sisters a whole new look. Trust me, your eye makeup will never look better!

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I also bumped into Ting and she kindly filmed the experience for my weekly vlog below. Thank you Ting! Enjoy with a cuppa (or a Christmas Baileys!).


Dermalogica Professional Skin Treatment | Selfridges, Bullring

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When I find something I love, I want everyone to love it! There are so many beauty treats I hail but I feel like everyone should try a facial. The heaven of this practice is one of my favourite things!

I recently had a complimentary Professional Skin Treatment with Dermalogica at Selfridges Bullring, with skin expert, Helen. There is a secluded treatment room on the beauty floor and a host of Dermalogica products were waiting. The treatment began with a snuggly dressing gown, a soft bed made extra toasty by a warming blanket and plush quilt, and the delicate music that makes you question why you don’t listen to twinkly piano sounds all day, every day.

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The best elements of the Dermalogica experience is that it is completely tailored to your own skin. There is no dry/combination/oily category to fall into; your own skin menu is created as a tailored process that is even customised to the different areas of your face. This is kicked off by a FaceMapping Skin Analysis, though you wouldn’t know it as you drift off into a blissful snooze. 

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Next will be stages of a deep double cleanse, tailored exfoliation, professional Galvanic current, a masque and hydrating finishing products, which sounds rather like a landscape gardener’s day job but is actually a therapeutic series of actual therapy for your skin, and even your mind and spirit. The reason I love facials is that you feel so relaxed and light after. It must be the combination of the way the techniques and massage affects your sinuses and releases toxins, and it’s a chance to completely zone out.

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Compared with facials I've had in the past, this felt supremely balancing and restorative. Once you wake up slowly and head back into the real world, at Dermalogica you have the chance to see the results of your skin mapping and delve into just what your skin is asking for. You’re not sent on your way or pitched the newest brand release; you are educated on the way your skin behaves and Helen was so insightful, and especially warm and chatty with a real passion for the results of the brand. You get to take away the map of your skin types and a list of specially chosen products, and for example the ‘touch sensitivity’ areas numbered in mine were completely the areas that turn a bright pink after patting in my moisturiser or smoothing on a serum each day despite how gentle I am!

I couldn’t resist picking up two new cleansers; the Ultracalming Cleanser, a light gel that is perfect for a no-fuss morning cleanse, and the Daily Microfoliant that I’ve owned in the past, an enzyme based exfoliator that clears those dead skin cells in the gentlest way by turning from a powder into a thin milk when you add plenty of water.

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The next time my skin feels off balance, congested and calling for some TLC, I’ll be following Dermalogica for their calendared weeks at the Selfridges treatment room. You can scope a live version of events in my weekly vlog below too!


Chi Kitchen Christmas Menu | Birmingham

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Since visiting in February and subsequent trips for a prosecco dinners with girlfriends or light lunch between shopping, I’ve kept Chi Kitchen as a favourite hidden-gem dining experience. This calm haven is home to the tastiest Eastern-inspired dishes; my favourite to enjoy when I’m heading off to party or getting spendy at Bullring. Asian food can leave you satisfyingly full yet not sluggish or heavy, despite the menu at Chi Kitchen tempting you to order so many intriguing dishes. It’s the delicious flavours that I could never achieve in my own kitchen, plus the beautiful presentation that allows this corner restaurant to be a perfect day time or evening date hotspot. Each time I’ve visited it has been a mix of couples, families or friends, and each table will be heaving with the colourful offerings. Completely satisfying yet interesting, surprising and exciting!

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I was invited to try their new Christmas menu, offering a taster of the best of South East Asia, from crispy spring rolls to light gyoza to a fragrant curry. I sampled each dish (well, the pescetarian ones!) and found the best Chilli Prawns I’ve ever had, not only coated in a crispy batter but encased in a sweet and sticking sauce. 

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The Vegetable Nyonya Curry put any takeaway offering to shame as I loved the opportunity to slather the Egg Fried Rice and Snow Peas in plenty of thick, creamy sauce as generous as this, still keeping the vegetables fresh and crunchy. I always appreciate a range of veggies too rather than a boring selection. The sticky, rich Salmon Teriyaki offered the option of the hearty main I’d want if I was looking to feel extra warmed and full this season. And I'll definitely be sprinkling fries with fresh red chilli from now on for a fiery twist.

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Rounding off was one of my typical favourite choices of gyoza with a sweet apple twist, and the perfect walnut chocolate brownie drizzled in a blood orange custard. Not forgetting the perfect Mixed Berry Bellini cocktail to set off any evening at Chi Kitchen a treat.

I can’t wait to work my way through this menu in the new year and continue to try new dishes that I already know are right up my street!


My Christmas Wishlist 2016 #sp

Hey guys! Did you know I have been posting weekly vlogs recently? How did you not! I’ve been picking up my camera a little more recently, as inspired by a host of weekly vloggers who are paving the way for a more natural style of content. You will have seen in a most recent vlog that I popped over to my mom’s house to talk everything Christmas, and her house is absolute Pinterest goals.

I’m apparently notorious to buy for as I’m one of those people who will just buy everything they want themselves; I don’t like to wait! I’m really not afraid to treat myself either, but here is my list of the things that are just too indulgent for my usual weekly shop.

 

My mom helped me to recreate the Bailey’s Eggnog recipe from thebar.com to enjoy as we nattered. It's one of their Christmas cocktails and it was darn delicious! Christmas is the time to indulge in everything rich and warming, and this recipe incorporates classic Baileys with spicy cinnamon. Heavenly!

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This post is sponsored by Diageo. All thoughts are my own!


Halloween with #DebsGlamoween

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Happy Halloween ghouls and gals! Last week I hurried along to a frightfully fabulous beauty event held at Debenhams Bullring and it seriously got me in the spooky spirit. OK I'll quit the puns there, but it got me oh so inspired for Halloween and you can see my look here!

Debenhams hosted an extravaganza of Halloween beauty and we bloggers were treated to a masterclass from different counters. I don't always head to Debenhams first for my makeup buys but with the likes of Illamasqua and Make Up For Ever on my doorstep now, my product wishlist just got a whole lot longer.

First we followed a contoured skeleton look at Make Up For Ever, home of the HD foundation that was possibly my first ever Kardashian-inspired purchase circa 2011. I love the concession area they have now and these are the light-up mirrors of my dreams! MUFE have so many pro and niche products, from skin moulding putty to a very blood-like red liquid. I'm keen to try their base and finishing products as the quality is so high and they can ugrade your FOTD to flawless finish levels. Their HD powder is the one! We had a sample to take home with us and it's like applying fairy dust each morning - it's so light yet so good!

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With a glass of fizz in hand, we popped across to Illamasqua and all adored Chetna's cryptic clown look. I loved chatting to her about all of the different looks she was trying each day for Magikmasqua. HOW cute is this one! I've recently bought a palette, lipstick and contour duo after having a makeover there and I'm firmly an Illamasqua convert. They have some Christmas gift sets of all different sorts of products and we also tried the latest collect in aid of the charity S.O.P.H.I.E., which Illamasqua has a long standing partnership with.

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Next we took a seat the glitteringly gothic Urban Decay counter and watched the classic costume tutorial of 'I'm a mouse, duh!'. Genius! The unicorn tears are so sweet too. Absolute glitter goals! We cooed over the palettes and admired their adorable pumpkin. I've been waiting literally years for my perfect Urban Decay palette and as soon as they bring out a warm, peachy set, I'll be straight there. I haven't given UD enough focus in recent years as I feel they are all about the colour, and nowadays I'm not sure if brights really suit me! That is nothing makeover can't sort out though - I must book in soon and find my perfect UD shades!

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Thank you Debenhams for a hugely inspirational evening and a peek at some gorgeous products. I also included the evening in my weekly vlog below! Did you know I have started weekly vlogging again? Indeed I have!


Bullring Your Five AW16

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On Saturday I glammed up and headed to my favourite destination - Bullring! It's actually a huge treat for me to take myself shopping on a weekend because I always seem to be overloaded with errands and family engagements on Saturdays, and I don't often grant myself free reign of the shops. I used to love visiting after work and spending a few quiet hours browsing but I can't get there with enough time at my new job so it's strictly a weekend affair. 

Bullring hosted a Your Five event to showcase new season trends with free beauty and style consultations. I booked in and was first toured around five stands of autumn staples: the skirt, the coat, the trousers, the knit and the shoe!

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The stylist pulled out different trends of this season, from military coats to ruffled knits to metallic booties. Instead of jumping on several trends, it was the perfect way to clearly see a concentrated selection of key styles and pick the one item from each category that I gravitated towards. All items were collated in a curated list there and then that was shortly emailed to me later in the day - handy!

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I was itching to dive into the shops and hunt out my new chosen trends, but next was my makeup consultation where you could choose from five key beauty looks of the season, including dark lips and flicked liner. I chose contouring as it's STILL the technique I can't quite perfect and it was undoubtedly the best lesson I've had. Makeup artist Sarah talked me through the subtle ways I could use a cream contour stick to first map out the angles of my face and then blend to a seamless finish. I definitely took my shopping list of products and went to hunt them all down after!

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I entered the Bullring PLUS app competition too as I am seriously in need of winning big now that I have a shopping list as long as my arm! Thank you Bullring for inviting me down; it really made sense of AW16 and I'm looking forward to putting my learning into practice. Let's hit the shops!


New Square #BrollyFashion

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Gooood evening all, or good morning to you wherever you are! Last weekend I linked up with New Square West Bromwich once again to film their Autumn #BrollyFashion show, and it was a mighty showcase of SO many trends. The models all wore outfits from the stores at the centre including Outfit, River Island and Primark, and it was a sea of pinafores, metallics, ruffles, and more. As I was filming I was making mental notes to dash around the shops and pick up loads of items, plus I kept peeking in store doorways to the new ranges on show and bookmarking what I wanted to take a closer look at! 

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There's something about autumn that makes so much fashion sense and I'm on the hunt for a new coat, boots, backpack - basically everything! Plus the male models gave me a hug goodbye on the day so I definitely had a great time haha. Enjoy the show! 


A Body Shop Haul: 3 products you need, 3 you do not.

 

Is this blog title slightly click bait-y? Well considering when blogging first came about, we would use any manner of phrase or song lyric that had absolutely nothing to do with our 'content'. If we get back to basics, here are literally three products I re-purchased that I completely recommend and three that I will be gingerly using up and probably not revisiting! Do any of us have the time or funds to be buying products we begrudgingly squeeze, pump and scrape out with growing annoyance until that last satisfying drop when you know it's over - you have broken up with your cleanser/toner/lotion for good! Well I do not want to waste my pocket money so here is what a good £70 at The Body Shop looks like and what I rate or hate.

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Drops of Youth Collection - This juicy range hasn't stopped delivering since I wrote about it last year and each product (minus the unnecessary Wonderblur) is such a heavy hitter. There's nothing faux luxurious here - it's all about hydration and freshness and bouncy, plump skin. It literally feeds my skin! The Body Shop does three products for around £50 in a bundle and you'll be sorted for a few months. You need to try this if you have 20-something dehydrated skin and live in a polluted city. It's like you've walked through a botanical forest after adding these to your routine. That Bouncy Sleeping Mask is incredible!

Vitamin E SPF 30 - I snapped up a few products in a 3 for 2 deal along with the unpictured Camomile Cleansing Oil (slightly greasy but a great price) as I NEED an SPF in my routine. I'm so naughty for not using one every day! This one is fine and OK and just 'good enough'. It smooths on like a thick milk and sticks around for a few too many minutes in the morning. I have to pile my foundation on top and it just ain't pretty. Lovely smell and texture but not for the heavy makeup wearer like myself. The hunt is still on for a great SPF!

Vitamin E Aqua Boost Sorbet - I thought this could be a bargain replacement for the pricey Clinique Moisture Surge as it has suspiciously similar packaging, but my product was quite bitty and clumpy, as though the formula hadn't been mixed properly. The joys of Clinique MS is how is glides on smoothly, while this product felt stodgy. If it was whipped up a little further it could have been perfect. If I'm ever watching my pennies though, it could be a purse-friendly daily moisturiser.

Blue Corn Scrub Mask - I purchased this from Grand Central in Birmingham when I was having a terrible skin week. I needed something to dramatically drive all of the oil, impurities and stress from my skin and a heavy high-street mask generally works. However I never feel the need to strip my face too often and this has languished in my collection. I find adding a huge dose of moisture to misbehaving skin actually does better than to scrub everything away, but having a mask in your skincare arsenal is useful when a bit of old-school TLC is needed in the form of a magazine, 15 minutes relaxation, and scaring your housemates when you pop your head round their door.

I'm going to try the new Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel (1/3 off in Boots at the moment) next and see how that fares!