Interior Design: My Home Tour

home tour
Welcome to my home tour (if we weren’t chatting through a screen, I would offer you a drink).

To set the scene: The Manfriend and I moved in roughly two months ago. Moving out of a rather enormous house and into a two bedroom apartment meant we came up against a few space issues, but I am altogether incredibly happy with the way our small time interior design projects and investments have come together.

It is not my dream home – far from it – but it is amazing value for renting in the centre of Leeds and a stone’s throw from the station, which means easy commutes to and from London while working in dual cities.

Let’s take you around…
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In Review: Vapiano Soho, London

vapiano soho london
The well-reviewed Italian ‘chain’ restaurant Vapiano recently opened their third UK site on Wardour Street in Soho.

Try as I might to avoid chains, my intrigue finally got the better of me.

Dragging my best and hungriest guy friend along for the ride, we decided to spend a long lunch hoisted on the bar stools of Vapiano’s least-busy location (the Great Portland Street restau is always heaving with The Lunch Crowd).

The concept, in theory, is ingenious: upon entering, you’re given a Vapiano card that gets charged every time you order an item from one of their various food and drink stations. When you’re ready to leave, you simply hand the card over to the F.O.H. team and settle your bill.

The issue? There is something lost in translation. Do you wait for your food to be made and take it back to your table? What if you have an issue with your food? What if you want multiple items – or courses – but don’t want to leave a conversation or wait in a queue? What if you’re in a large group and other people get their food much quicker than others (I saw this happen a few times between antipasti lovers and patient pizza lovers)?

Regardless of the card hoopla, I really enjoyed Vapiano. I found it to be great value, fresh, and a lovely atmosphere to dine in. The card system is simply not being executed in a way that does the food justice.

Lucky enough to arrive before the lunch rush, I got through a gorgeous strawberry and fresh spinach salad (dressed with goats’ cheese, red onions, pine nuts and homemade raspberry maple dressing), a plate of carpaccio, and the ‘death by chocolate’ cake – all of which totalled under £20. While my friend opted for a carby mix of bread-based antipasti, an ‘internationally inspired’ barbecue chicken pizza (topped with smoked cheese, red onion, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and barbecue sauce stripes), and a classic baked vanilla and lemon cheesecake, his feast was equally cheap and equally delicious.

My advice? Avoid the lunch rush, go with no more than three friends, and stagger your ordering. The food is worth it.

vapiano soho london review
vapiano soho london review
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What’s In My Handbag: Saying Hello to the LG G3

whats in my handbag
It has been quite some time (and quite a few handbags) since I last conducted a blog tour of my day-to-day haul around town.

Since then, my business has grown aggressively, my tech kit has taken on a life of its own, and this beautiful double-zipped handbag from Pied a Terre has found its rightful place on my arm.

What’s In My Handbag?

Front compartment:
To be frank, this post is mostly an excuse to gush about the new LG G3. While my keys, passport, rail card and multiple Oyster cards all serve their purpose, my star of my handbag is the new LG G3. In my opinion, it is far superior to every other smartphone on the market.

Though a full video review of the G3 will be coming (you have to see some of the features to understand just how groundbreaking and intuitive the smartphone is), two of the main reasons I love it are:
- The camera (the 13-megapixel camera has laser auto focus and dual LED flash!)
- The weight (with the amount of stuff I need to tote around during a work day, having a slimline device that lets me control my inboxes, Google Drive, social media, photos, and more – all on a quad HD display – is incredible).

With all that said, just stay tuned for the full review!

Rear compartment:
To keep everything neat and tidy, I use a small silver purse to hold my cards (front pocket), business cards (main pocket) and money. I then use a slightly larger gold purse to hold my ‘diabetes paraphernalia’, L’Occitane hand cream, and go-to lip products (a day and night red lip, as it were).

Outside of the purses I have my blue mirror-lensed Guess sunglasses and a cookies and cream Quest Bar, leaving the small zip compartment for receipts and tissues.

Obviously, the first compartment totally wins.

Not pictured: my laptop (only in the handbag during business hours) and SLR (though the bag has plenty of room for it, I have no desire to lug it around town when I’m not specifically out to take photos).

What is your favourite item in your handbag?

whats in my handbag
whats in my handbag
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How To Make Your Own Netflix: Plex

plex
Before moving into our new home, The Manfriend and I conducted a stock check of all of our belongings and realised that DVDs took up a shocking percentage of our overall material things.

The space-saving solutions were as follows:
a) Donate them all.
b) Somehow find a solution that reduced their actual physical space (and wasn’t an eyesore).

We found something of a miracle in Plex and Google Chromecast (how I survived before Chromecast, I have no idea). Plex is an app that holds your entire media library in a super easy (and super smart) user interface – movies, TV shows, home movies, and more – for instant streaming.

It is not just lists and file names. It keeps track of episodes watched, theme songs, movie posters, episodic promo pictures, categories (you can sort by ratings, date released, genre, or personally curated lists), and more. The more I use it, the more I love it.

While it won’t replace Netflix for me (I wouldn’t even know where to purchase half the documentaries I end up stumbling across), it is incredible in its own right.

How To Make Your Own Netflix with Plex

1. Download Plex, DVD Ripper HD and DvdDecrypter.
2. Create your Plex account, follow setup instructions, and choose your media server (we’re using an external hard drive plugged into a laptop, but you can use a laptop or computer alone).
3. Open DvdDecrypter, put your DVD in to your laptop/computer, and ‘rip’ it in DVD Ripper HD (following the movie naming and TV show naming guidelines so the information auto-populates).
4. Make sure your fully ripped file is in the folder you allocated during setup.
5. Refresh your app library, plug in your Chromecast, and GET YOUR PLEX ON.
6. Rinse and repeat until your physical movie and TV show library disappears.

Let me know how you get on, beauties.

dvd ripper hd

DVD Ripper HD

plex

dvd ripper hd

DVD Ripper HD

In Review: Illamasqua Summer 2014

illamasqua
Matte lovers, hide your wallets: it’s time to review Illamasqua‘s Summer 2014 releases.

Velvet Blusher in Flirtatious

Once again, Illamasqua’s velvet wonders tug at my blush-hating heartstrings with new shade, Flirtatious. This peachy pink is a perfect match for pale skin (potentially too sheer for medium-dark skin tones) and offers a demi-matte, long-wearing finish.

Matte Veil

Since the Hydra Veil’s release, Illamasqua junkies have begged for the arrival of this product. Now – with an unusual number of scorching days on the horizen – this exceptional matte primer’s unveil is making a lot of women very happy. As I prefer to use primers with my hands, I adore that the Matte Veil pot comes with a hygiene spoon on the inner cap. A small scoop of the light and water-based primer  keeps your make-up in place throughout the day and breaks down the oil in your skin without drying it out.

Skin Base Mixer

While the skin base mixers are available exclusively at Illamasqua counters, they are worth the trip out of the house. The Mixers are colour correction cosmetics at their finest. On offer, we have White (a badass highlight), Amber (excellent to counteract redness), Terracotta (warmth in a tube), and Chesnut (a heavy and long-lasting contour). As the cherry on top, even the tiniest brushstroke of product goes a very long way. Swatches below.

Matte Lip Liquid

I couldn’t imagine these formulas budging even if you had the sweatiest lips in the world (side note: poor you). While liquid lipsticks are renowned for drying uncomfortably, Matte Lip Liquids dry to a ‘moisturised lips’ feel in no time at all. Then stick around through smooches, cocktails, et al. I mean, bravo. Currently, you can get your hands on Surrender (a warm peach), Exotic (a deep, vivid orange), and Forbidden (a sensual violet-pink that looks incredible on dark skin tones). Swatches below.

matte veil
illamasqua
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