Thursday, 29 May 2014

A woman for humanity, Dr Maya Angelou

In honor of the great Maya Angelou’s passing yesterday, I thought it only right to tribute her life with a short dedication. Cliché as it may sound; she is a constant breath of inspiration that drives me when my will is at its lowest. Her extensive achievements remind me that impossible is only an idea that I have planted at the forefront of my mind and have made myself believe. Angelou’s voice oozed a humble confidence when she spoke her words, knowing full well they were shaping and changing modern attitudes. Her enlightened view on issues such as women’s suffrage was distinctive and individualistic.  She was a woman for the people, and more importantly she was a woman for herself - never changing for anyone, never suppressing her identity. She encompassed what it was to be human, and she taught others to recognize the importance of their own humanity. Whilst death is inevitably a sorrowful event, her own philosophies remove any sort of tragic sensation from her own end.

‘Love liberates’ was a moving truth, characterized by her mother, upbringing and experience. The beauty of surrendering your own ego to the infinite power of love and belief goes far beyond any sort of prayer to reach a state of personal and mental liberation. As her mother was inspiration to her that she could be somebody, ‘Baby, you are the greatest woman I’ve ever met.’ The idea that true love is a selfless and unforced emotion that provides the foundation for another, to grow and learn to love them-selves, is wonderfully profound. Watching this video sparked tears, not because she is gone or because I could not comprehend her feelings. It was due to the fact that she was here and that I am fortunate to bear the name of parents that have liberated me with their everlasting and unconditional love. A feeling can often seem like a simple and irrelevant thing. But in the truth of the matter as the great Dr. once said, ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’  

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Evening Rituals

In terms of skincare, some may opt for a simple soap + water + cold cream routine whilst others spend a small fortune a few Crème de la mer products. I’ve heard my share fair of hoo haa criticism from either side of the extremism, “Oh, she only uses soap?” or “Why the hell would she pay the price of a mini Ipad for a face cream?!” All are interesting questions, and all are quite frankly irrelevant. The whole point of skincare ranges is to highlight the fact that there are so many different types of skin and that taking care of it is a must. There is no excuse NOT to do it. Whether the product is expensive or inexpensive, if it works for you then that is all that’s relevant. As for me, I have never battered an eyelid at paying money for good skincare, as long as it does what it claims to do. And if it doesn’t, then I hurl straight back to the retailer like the angry tornado I become when struck with disappointment, and demand a refund and a total rethink of the product. Of course, I normally just get the refund, but a suggestion to rethink the skincare in question is always compulsory even if it is ignored.

On the topic of rituals, today’s post focuses on my recent evening routine and the brilliant products I have come across which are playing their part in clearing up my ridiculously awful acne. I use a mixture of products, cheap and expensive hence the rant above, and all of them have been doing jolly well in living up to their miracle claims!

Face and eyes
(applied in listed order)

1. Bioderma Micellar Water
A very well known product among beauty editors, artists and bloggers, this Micellar water is heaven for the skin. For even the most sensitive of skin it helps clear away the day and rid the skin of all makeup, dirt, oil and impurities. I use it after I’ve washed my face in the evening instead of a toner – it works better for me and doesn’t aggravate my skin even after it’s already been washed. Amazingly, it manages to take off the invisible dirt that is still there after cleansing with a foaming cleanser.

2. Nuxe Contour des Yeux Prodigieux
Nuxe is one of the most luxurious brands for the body, it’s like skin caviar. This particular eye cream has done wonders in reducing puffy eyes and in soft on the sensitive skin in the eye area. It is non greasy and works well in the day and night and more importantly, it is well suited to people who wear contacts lenses without irritating or drying the eyes. The eye contour is scented with a scent synonymous with the brand, orange blossom and is packed full of active ingredients to prevent tired and dark

3. Pai RoseHip Biogenerate Oil
This product is a recent and VERY exciting addition to my nightly routine. Pai is a London based brand, which has been extensively raved about in fashion tabloids and by many celebrities. The price point is average for the amazing things this oil does. RoseHip is well known for it’s healing and all round amazing properties when it comes to skin. As an acne sufferer, blemishes and spots are a constant problem and it is always a constant struggle to find products, which will actually help reduce the irritation without compromising the health of skin. Just after three days of using this oil I can safely say it really does do what is says on the packaging. Active blemishes have actively decreased overnight and brightened my complexion. Aside from the odd smell, this is a product that everyone should use no matter what your skin type to ensure your skin is always being well looked after. Packed full of rosehip oil, trans retinoic acid and vitamin a, this oil is a skin healer and a pure and chemical free one at that.

4. Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil
Clarins is always a treat for the skin and it’s products are soft and simple. This rebalancing oil is available in 3 options depending on your skin type. I have the lotus oil specifically for oily and combination skin and in short, it has done exactly what it says. The smell, like Nuxe, is lush. With only 2 or 3 drops needed for the whole face, skin feels instantly revitalized, moisturized and soothed of any irritation. It is a common misconception among oily skinned people that there is always a constant need to strip the face of any oil present; even the good oils. It is another misconception that no oily products should even go near an oily face. In using this rebalancing oil, I have actually noticed a severe decrease in the amount of oil my face produces, because instead of stripping all the oil away and encourage the sebaceous glands to produce more, it has in fact ‘rebalanced’ the amount of oil being produced. HOORAY a product that actually helps to reduce sebum production. Only used at night, the oil ensures I wake up every morning with a moisturized and a smaller resemblance to a bright red tomato.


1. Nuxe Rêve de Miel Stick Lèvres
Like its predecessor in a jar, the famous Nuxe rêve de miel lip balm is now in a stick! It perfect for a quick rub on the lips before bed and it also smells like lemon curd. It is not as thick and moisturizing as the balm in a jar but is perfect for those who do not suffer from extreme lip dryness.

2. Anatomicals Don’t Crack Me Up Balm
A relatively small brand but one of my favorites, their products have killer names, they’re cheap as chips and certainly do not slack on quality. This particular balm is great for a change up and is like a lip-gloss without all that sticky business. It is clear and smells subtly of olive oil, beeswax and zingiber. It leaves lips glossy, stays on for the whole night and is sure to cure any chapping problems.


1. Anatomicals Cruisin’ for a Snoozin’ Sleep Balm
The occasional night of insomnia is always inevitable, but it never lasts long with this beauty. This tin of waxy sleep remedy is enriched with lemon, lavender and beeswax puts even the most manic of insomniacs to sleep. Applied just above the temples and for me, under the nose, I can’t even remember when I fell asleep but the next morning I know that I had a good old doze. Yet again, another staple bargain from Anatomicals that works wonders for those sleepless nights.

This is the current routine which I’m sure will be altered soon enough with another new cosmetic discovery! I hope this post has been helpful and informative and has reinforced the importance on having a good routine in the evening to maintain your skin’s health. PS – Boys, this is just as important for you. If you’re lazy, at least invest in a cleanser and cream. You’ll thank me when you still look 30 at the age of 45! As my father always says, “They may look good now, but in 10 years that’ll be a different story.” Skincare is key.

Whilst these products have worked for me, I cannot guarantee that they will do the same for you. However if you have tried any let me know in the comments below how you got on! 


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Wednesday, 7 May 2014

London Bites: Part 2

So, I’ve been M.I.A for about three weeks. Since returning to London in April, it’s been all gung- ho – in the essay-writing department. This is the first moment I’ve had to settle down with my beloved Mac Book and check emails, browse all my favorite sites and write the second installment of London Bites! In view of going to Nice in about a month, operation diet has commenced yet again for the five millionth time this year. Needless to say that writing this post all about the food that I can't eat came with a certain difficulty...

Currently salivating over my five picks in South London’s CLAPHAM:

1. Located on Clapham high street, one will find ESCA. This place is too scrumptious for words.  Personally, it is the perfect take away for the healthy foodie. Greeted by a spectacular window display of fresh cakes, Italian delicatessen displays and a buzzing interior this place offers quick bites of heaven. Normally there is a magnificent selection of salads and meats, along with hearty soups and warm dishes. Of course dessert is a must with the selection on offer changing every so often. The seating arrangement and general décor is to die for. Very much like Ottolenghi or Le Pain Quotidien, one can find large sharing tables which make the eating experience intimate yet relaxed and more than often, fellow residents can be seen eating whilst simultaneously eating a place of deliciousness. Mother and I popped in last week and we both had a generous portion of salad and meat. I opted for the barbecue chicken with two different salads whilst she opted for the salmon with the same choice of salad. For £10 a head and some left over I would say Esca is definitely worth a visit and then some. Personal recommendation: Any of the salads and any of the desserts! 

2. Moving a little down the road towards the common, another favorite spot with locals. Situated on the corner of a residential road and nestled with other cafés and vintage shops, MACARON PATISSERIE is a fairly new addition to Clapham’s food scene. A perfect little café for a catch-up or a weekend rendezvous with a few friends. Upon entering I felt as if I was in Paris once again regardless of the fact that it has macaron in its name! The café has a small amount of seating outside facing the common where you will find, just like in France, those sophisticated strangers with coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Inside the tables are so French I have no other words to describe them but ‘so French’ whilst the seating and crockery ooze vintage nostalgia. The patisserie is the reason for visiting, with an array of sweet delicacies to entice you in.  There is a good selection of savory dishes and all the baking is done in house, hence why it all tastes a million times better than Tesco Express’s bakery section. And not to mention the good coffee, specialist teas that are infused from whole leaves and the lovely staff who make the whole experience even better. Personal recommendation: Have a try of the mint tea and the mille feuille…MMM. 

3. Behind Clapham South Side, hidden behind the period mansions one will discover Abbeville Road, a quaint suburban gem more commonly known as Abbeville Village.  ABBEVILLE KITCHEN is an integral part of the food scene on this particular road. Having won numerous food awards, this establishment dishes up exquisite food offering breakfast, lunch, dinner, feasting menus and a lengthy wine and spirit list. And, without forgetting to mention, the menus change daily so nothing short of choice at this eatery. A restaurant, which is slightly higher in price point, is still a lovely choice for the innovative and simply delicious food, but also the buzz of Abbeville Road. Personal recommendation: Whatever is on the menu that day and ask for the waiter for the recommendation of a wine.

4. At the other end of Abbeville road, my fourth best bite would have to go to Le Petit Boulanger (more recently known as THE ABBEVILLE BAKERY), the Abbeville Kitchen’s sister outlet. Personally the name change is a shame as it only added to the quintessentially French ambiance that this place oozes. Queues for the cakes/coffee are not uncommon here and the patio out front is a coveted place for those Sunday afternoons when all you want to do is laze in the sun, sipping on something fabulous.  One of my favorite corners in Clapham by far! Personal recommendation: Definitely a croissant and a canelé (a small pastry which hails from Bordeaux). 

5. The last bite on the list goes to BOQUERIA. A trendy tapas bar located on Queenstown Road which is in nearby Battersea, offering dynamic tapas, masterfully accompanied with wine lists that exude alcoholic perfection. A perfect venue for small gatherings and events or informal and impromptu dinners. The pricing is so reasonable that is it almost unbelievable and the menu is clean, short and to the point. There is a wholesome selection for the carnivore and the herbivore and the authentic Spanish bites such as cured hams. Boqueria is La Tasca, only a million times better. Personal recommendation: Langostinos a la parilla con ajo y perejil (garlic prawns), arroz negro (black rice with squid and mussels) and embutidos (cured hams).

I hope you get a chance to visit at least one of these eateries and love it as much as I do! Do leave a comment below if you sample one of the 5 delights above; I’d love to hear what your thoughts are.

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