hearts in hair
The Pevonia Jumeirah Sensory Wellness Journey Treatment at The Peak, Knightsbridge

Don’t worry, babe – I didn’t have a bloody clue what a ‘wellness journey’ was either. All I knew was that it was a 75-minute spa treatment at one of my favourite hotel clubs from one of my favourite brands. And that’s promising enough to be awarded an afternoon.

The massage-focused ‘journey’ ended up being a wildly indulgent combination of meditation, kneading, body wrapping, and facials. It was my indecisive dream.

To start, you pick a scent (coconut & pineapple, jasmine & lavender, or peach & vanilla) to be used across all the treatments. Then, in my case, you kind of fall into a dream and wake up completely restored.

Though I’m a glutton for a massage, this club-exclusive treatment of scrubs and rubs takes it to the next level. Every part of my body felt like it had been anti-aged, restored, and pampered.

It also didn’t hurt that a finishing slather of Pineapple & Coconut Body Moisturizer was as soothing (thanks, Calendula flower and aloe leaf extract) as it was tantalising – four strangers asked where they could buy the ‘fragrance’ I was wearing later in the day.

When you book in, make sure to schedule in a little extra time for the club’s 20 metre indoor heated swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms. You won’t regret it.

Milk and Blush Hair Extensions

I am beyond non- committal when it comes to hair extensions. I’ve trialled a number of different brands as a journalist but nothing has ever really wow-ed me on the consumer side. Even the high-end, celebrity-endorsed options.

Milk and Blush, however, make phenomenal hair extensions under £100. I have been using a 16-18″ Deluxe set to jazz things up every now and then (be it as a bridesmaid or just for a night out with the girls) and the super-soft hair blends perfectly. Not only that, but the 160g “seamless” set feel like nothing more than a few clips in the hair. So much so I accidentally slept in them one Old Fashion-fuelled night.

The ‘Luxurious’ 200g set would, undoubtedly, offer more volume with its quad wefts but I don’t think I need anything more for my little pea head.

(For reference, my shade is Sweet Like Chocolate and I’ll definitely be purchasing longer lengths as my lob continues to grow out.)

Etmore

Etmore’s range of cruelty-free and natural extract-infused beauty products just launched in the UK and they’re some of the best I’ve got my hands on in months. Discovering Etmore was like discovering a pot of gold…en dupes.

My hero product is the argan oil-packed Liquid Illuminator (RRP £11.99). You genuinely need less than a pea-sized amount for a fully strobed or nontoured face, so I’ve started rubbing the excess on my legs to give them a much-needed winter glow.

Next up is the Forever Fibre Brows set (RRP £8.99) – again, with argan oil. The little brush picks up 100% cellulose fibres to fill and define brows in a single swoop. Each coat adds a little extra drama and you can build to smudge-proof, sweat-proof Delevigne brows in no time. It even has a little vanilla flower extract included which feels crazy luxe for the price point.

Last but certainly not least, the Mineral Complexion powder (RRP £7.99). It only seems to be available in one caucasian shade, but has colour-correcting infusions built into the base in small circles. The brand claim it can be used as a foundation or a finishing powder thanks to buildable – but sweat-proof – micronised minerals, but I assume it’s more of the latter as it matches my own skin so perfectly. Nonetheless, it is a fantastic little powder to balance and brighten the complexion and offers a flawless photo finish when used on top of anything heavier than a tinted moisturiser.

You ask for it and you get it, guys and dolls: the bolognese recipe to beat all bolognese recipes. The rather impromptu Instagram Stories how-to I posted a few weeks ago received more comments than any other Story I have uploaded to date.

A lot of drool emojis. A lot of recipe requests. A lot of “why don’t you just use a packet sauce, Lela?”.

Because once you have the best you don’t mess with the rest, mi amigos.

Luckily, this bolognese looks (and tastes) far more complex than it is in practice. The recipe is all about layering flavours and textures, not any kind of culinary finesse. My favourite part of the recipe is actually its secret ingredient – a can of Nescafe Azera Nitro. I’ve only added it to the recipe within the last month and a few swigs of its super-smooth, nitrogen-infused coffee practically turns the moreish sauce into edible velvet.

(If that’s not selling point enough, it’s also worth noting that a caffeine and carb combo might be the undiscovered pick-me-up food hack of the century.)

Enjoy!

Ingredients:
– Your pasta of choice (I’m not going to be precious about it – the magic is in the sauce)
– A can of Nescafe Azera Nitro Americano (to taste)
– A glug of cheap red wine (scientific measurement)
– A box/tube/of high quality passata
– Three cloves of garlic
– One large carrot, finely chopped
– One onion, finely chopped
– An aubergine, some mushrooms, or whatever else you like the ‘squish’ of
– A 500g pack of beef mince (or a vegetarian substitute)
– One beef stock cube (again, so veggie if preferred)
– A large stalk of celery, finely chopped
– Two raw chillis
– One red pepper
– A lifetime supply or oregano (or about 10 tablespoons)
– Cacao nibs
– Two bay leaves
– High quality olive oil
– One tablespoon of truffle oil
– A sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano or grated cheddar
– Salt and pepper (to taste). A good salt, like Halen Mon (my favourite) or Maldon (more readily available), will make a huge difference.

How to make the best bolognese in the universe:
1. Chop all your veg to death. Microscopic style.
2. Throw your garlic, chillis and onion into a small pool of olive oil in a large frying pan. Cook at a medium-high heat for one to two minutes.
3. Add the rest of your chopped veg incrementally, based on weight. This translates to carrots first, celery last.
4. Season with salt and pepper once cooked and push to the side of the pan.
5. Next to the veg, pop your mince in and cover it in oregano. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Once one side is browned, flip the mince over neatly and oregano the bejesus out of the other side.
7. Break the mince down and combine with the veg. Add the truffle oil and sprinkle a beef stock cube over the mixture.
8. After a minute or so of cooking, cover everything in passata, sprinkle on some cacao nibs, and dust in as much dried chilli as you can handle.
9. While that cooks, prepare your pasta in a separate pan.
10. As the liquid begins to reduce, add glugs of wine and Azera Nitro Americano. The wine will add sweetness, if preferred, but I prefer to pour more coffee in. Taste as you go.
11. After ten or so minutes – when everything smells and tastes like you’ve died and gone to Italy – combine the sauce and pasta.
12. Dish out with some Parmigiano Reggiano and drink the rest of the wine you didn’t use. Bon appetit!

best bolognese recipe
best bolognese recipe
View Post

murder mystery dinner london
I am a murder mystery kind of woman. Like many of you, I was raised on ridiculous slasher films and televised crime scene investigations that were as entertaining as they were disconcerting.

In fact when Billy and Stu proved my killer theory correct (horror OGs, you know what I’m talking about) at the ripe old age of seven I genuinely considered a career in crime-solving. At least cinematically.

Murder mysteries are puzzles, personified, and I could not get enough.

When I spotted an overnight murder mystery package on BuyAGift (looking to buy someone else a gift, natch) I couldn’t pass it up. And I’m so glad I didn’t.

After receiving my code it took nothing but an e-mail to book a night at one of Murder 57’s London murder mystery dinners and that fateful night (I could contain myself, but I won’t) began with a mingle around a Kingston hotel’s bar.

Before long, ‘dinner guests’ became cast members and a woman I’ve never met got bludgeoned to death. It was bloody fantastic.

Over the course of the next few hours, The Boy and I took short breaks from a delicious three-course meal to play a modern Nick and Nora Charles. With the requisite level of booze and banter.

At £179 for two, it was killer value (excuse the pun). The night was immersive, the room was cosy, and the clues were complex enough to elicit the most ridiculous murder motives I have ever seen a group of adults come up with. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Not sure how to spend Halloween this year? This has your name all over it.

shania twain outfit
murder mystery london
View Post

reusable notebook
Timeless. Innovative. Groundbreaking. They aren’t words I would ever imagine using to describe an A5 notebook.

Nonetheless, they fit my GreenStory notebook to tee. So much so I’ve decided to dedicate an entire blog to the humble stationary.

(Before you call the asylum, it’s absolutely worth your time to hear a sister out)…

I came across GreenStory a few weeks ago and immediately wanted to kick myself for not thinking it up first. Their concept is so simple, ethical and powerful it could drive a million earth-loving entrepreneurs mad.

Essentially, GreenStory sell reusable whiteboard notebooks. Notebooks that serve every conceivable schedule. Notebooks with endless add-ons and planners. Notebooks that are built to last through every idea, day, list, and project you need them for.

If you can’t tell already, I’m bloody obsessed with mine. I ordered the A5 all-in-one GreenBook, a luxe vegan leather notebook cover (in Sand), a handful of pens, and hit the ground running.

When everything arrived, my oft-troubled OCD went wild. Everything is customisable. The brand offer a huge range of erasable, ‘clickable’ pages and add-ons that allow you to fill your notebook with your exact needs. You can quite literally plan, list, and create to your heart’s content without ever having to throw something away.

You can simply erase small errors or completed tasks with the felt eraser on the back of your Magic Pen or erase full pages using the microfibre wipe and a few drops of water (their spray can also be used when your pages haven’t been erased in a while!).

Beyond the obvious eco benefits, you can also scan pages using the iOS ‘Notities’ or the Camscanner app for direct-to-digital backups (which I do, often!). It is also crazy light, crazy green, and crazy handy. The cover alone not only feels like velvet in the hand but is filled with pockets for everything (it has become my business card and receipt holders of choice).

It’s funny really, I used to be such a little notebook collector. Since my adolescent introduction to Harriet The Spy and her very important lined sidekick, I have kept an erratic slew of thoughts and lists in many forms. When I was in high school I opted for the sparkliest pads around and would doodle a whole lot of nothing in fruit-scented ink before airplaning pages to my friends. When I was going through a tough time as young adult I kept a white, pocket-sized notebook and used it as a tool to process hurt feelings, letting go as I recycled each day’s page. When I was getting my NCTJ, it was a veritable stream of illegible shorthand notebooks shoved into every bag I owned.

I lost the habit when I started carrying laptops, phones and cameras where my thoughts used to be.

It wasn’t until I was listening to an interview with one of my favourite chefs, Samin Nosrat, that I realised how much I missed the company of a notebook. She used her own as a manifestation journal, recording her goals and ideas so she could process them and remain accountable. It was a practice I had unknowingly adopted over many years and one I now believe made me stronger and smarter.

They don’t call it taking note for nothing, eh? The GreenBook is, undeniably, time and money well spent (and they offer a 10% student discount for those of you who need a helping hand like I did!).

reusable notebook
reusable notebook
View Post

film journalist
It’s been a bit too long since I’ve invited y’all here to cosy up for film o’clock, hasn’t it? We have a lot to catch up on…

Trailers are starting to trickle out for the Neil Armstrong biopic First Man and my spideysense feels we’re in for another stellar show from wunderkind director Damien Chazelle. The man who helmed Whiplash and La La Land has once again partnered up with everyone’s future husband, Ryan Gosling, to tell the story of the first man to walk on the moon and early indications from film festivals suggest it could once again land Chazelle in Oscar talks.

Despite a childhood spent championing Buzz Aldrin to anyone who wouldn’t listen (always here for the underdog), I can’t wait to see the film. Moreso than my typical cinematic geekery allows. I have been wrapped up in idealistic debates on the inherent dramatic potential of a major figure’s biopic. In the hands of the right cast and crew, biopics can educate, fascinate, and inspire us all at once. They do what I believe film was made to do and can easily (if not arguably) become Hollywood’s most valuable tool for change.

As luck would have it, there are several more exciting biopics heading to the silver screen over the coming months. With First Man just around the corner, here is my painstakingly decisive pick for the best of the rest…

Mary Queen Of Scots

One of the most famous chapters in British history is empire’s trials and tribulations during rule of Queen Elizabeth I. Even deeper, her soap-worthy rivalry with cousin Mary Queen of Scots. While historians have already aired their grievances with this film and a few inaccuracies hinted at in its trailer, the basic story is about to be brought to life in what looks to be a sensational – or sensationalist – fashion. Elizabeth will be played by Margot Robbie and Mary by Saoirse Ronan, both of whom were nominated for Best Actress Academy Awards just this year. A less familiar Josie Rourke will direct and – inaccuracies aside – she looks to have pulled off a wildly charismatic viewpoint. Early glimpses suggest Mary will become Ronan’s role of all roles.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Freddie Mercury. Rami Malek. X-Men direction. I mean, come on Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s almost too much for a filmgoer to take.

The long-awaited musical biopic looks set to become one of the greats – the ones that come along once or twice a decade and enthral those who don’t consider themselves fans of the group or genre at hand. Granted, everybody likes Queen at least a little bit.

The film’s focus on frontman Freddie – one of the bravest and boldest rockstars of our time – is carried by the critical care of Rami Malek (Mr. Robot, to the masses). By all accounts he assumed the role under incredible pressure, with astonishing dedication, and helped Bryan Singer’s direction (best known for handling the bulk of the modern X-Men franchise) reach unparalleled heights.

On The Basis Of Sex

This may be millennial bias speaking, but it’s hard to remember a Supreme Court justice who shook the proverbials up quite like Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The “Notorious RBG”, as she now known, has not only become a hero for the liberal faction of the United States desperate to hang onto influence in the Supreme Court, but also an indisputable icon of women’s rights. Beyonce in wire frames, if you will.

Though she was the subject of Netflix’s RBG only recently, On The Basis Of Sex is taking the modern marvel to the megascreens. The film has been directed by Mimi Leder (who also happened to be the first female graduate of the AFI Conservatory) and Felicity Jones will play a young Ginsburg bringing a gender discrimination case to the highest court in America. Regardless of personal politics or interest in the (ghastly) American system, this is going to be phenomenal watch.

Leonardo Da Vinci

While we all recognise Leonardo Da Vinci as one of the true greats of art history, our cultural impression of the man behind the Mona has always skewed towards rumour and  fiction. The Da Vinci Code remains the most famous work from renowned thriller novelist Dan Brown and, to the everyman, infused the artist’s work with fake conspiracies that do little more than entertain. One of the most popular slots in a growing internet gaming category incorporates Leonardo Da Vinci’s portraits in ‘Da Vinci Diamonds’ with cliché slot symbols, effectively turning the artist into a generic source of historical nuance.

On the flip side, Walter Isaacson – most famous for writing the definitive Steve Jobs biography – completely reframed Da Vinci for his literary masterpiece and unknowingly convinced John Logan to adapt the book into a film. With our very own Leo D (Caprio, that is) starring as the artist and inventor, the biopic is full of promise.

Enzo Ferrari

If the sound of an Enzo Ferrari biopic sounds strangely familiar to you, it is likely you were one of the millions glued to HBO drama Entourage. The show had a real knack for delivering its protagonist – fictional A-list actor Vincent Chase –  dream roles in films that have since been produced by non-fiction Hollywood bigwigs. A biopic of entrepreneur Enzo Ferrari (creator of Ferrari, as you’ve likely guessed) was one such project that Chase got particularly excited about, and we can now follow suit. The film is slated to be directed by Michael Mann (director, screenwriter and producer of everything from Heat to Hancock) and Hugh Jackman will star in the lead role. Interestingly enough, the film will likely come out within a year of another gargantuan project, Ford v. Ferrari, which will tell the tale of the respective companies’ dramatic 1996 rivalry with the help of Matt Damon and Christian Bale.