Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My Juice Cleanse Journey with Just Juices

I started off 2014 with the best of intentions.

Join the gym. Drink 2 pints of water a day. Drink less alcohol. Eat less chocolate. Try and do the 5:2 diet. The list went on.

January 1st saw me smugly sipping a Lime & Soda, having run 2 miles that morning, and eating a green salad for lunch.

January 5th saw me necking a glass of champagne with a vodka chaser, having just feasted on a warm Camembert like a ravenous dog.

I have terrible will power, and was getting very bored of starting new diets or new exercise routines, and then failing miserably three days later. I wanted something extreme to kick start my healthy lifestyle, so back at the beginning of this month I embarked on a juice cleanse.

There seem to be hundreds of companies doing juice cleanses at the moment, so after careful research, I came across Just Juices.

Louise from the company very kindly sent me their 3 day juice cleanse to kick off my healthy lifestyle change, and they were delivered on a Tuesday, ready for my cleanse to start on Wednesday.

Just Juices were founded in 2013, where they began their cleanse mission on the people of Liverpool. A year later, they now deliver juices all over the UK.

I was hugely impressed by the delivery- it turned up on time, with all the juices packed freshly in a cool bag. It fitted perfectly in my fridge at work, ready for the cleanse to begin the very next day.

The general advice is to wean your body gently off caffeine and sugar for the few days running up to your juice cleanse starting. I decided to ignore that advice and rounded off my Tuesday night with a Franco Manco pizza and an ice cream. This decision would eventually come back and bite me in the bum!

I kept a mini diary over the three days to share with you all.

Juice Day

Wednesday 8am

Woke up feeling nicely full from my naughty pizza last night. Bound downstairs to get the kettle on to have my hot water and lemon. I usually have this most mornings, but having it before I am at my desk at work is a bit of a revelation. Neck my mini shot of 'Wake Up Juice' and make a hideous face from the grapefruit overload. 

Wednesday 1pm

Loved my first green juice of the day- a mix of green beans, cucumber, spinach and fennel. Don't feel hungry as midday creeps up, and nearly forget my second juice of the day at 1pm. The second juice is really difficult to drink; a combination of beetroot, berries and basil. I struggle to get to the end of the bottle, but when I do, I feel super full.

Wednesday 6pm

The toughest part of the day. Felt full from 1pm until 4pm, again nearly missing my 4pm juice. This one was my favourite, a heady mix of carrots, oranges and ginger. Sip it away feeling smug at my desk whilst everyone at Secret Escapes headquarters demolishes the cake in the kitchen. 

Smugness turns to anger as by 7pm I have the kind of 'hanger' (hungry anger) that could kill. Am grumpy with anyone who dares get in my way on the commute home, and the boyfriend has to eat his dinner in the kitchen to avoid my lusty glare over his stirfry. Fall into bed at 9pm, exhausted. Finish off the evening with a peppermint tea, and a vivid daydream about the ham in the fridge.

Thursday 10am

At my desk abusing my neighbour for eating her hot, white buttered bagel in front of me. My boss is avoiding me as I am being so vile, and feel so hungry. But as soon as I finish my 10am juice, a serene calm washes over me. I find it takes me more time to drink the juices as I feel so full, and manage to extend my lunch juice until 2pm, as I am just not hungry.

Thursday 5pm

Everyone disembarks for a night at the pub. I sit in the toilet and neck my 4pm juice so that I won't be tempted until my 7pm juice is due. Sip water with LOTS of ice and lemon and avoid the peanuts. Feel like cracking, but the fact my stomach is so flat really gives me that extra boost to continue.

Thursday 10pm

I know I shouldn't, but can't help nipping on the scales. Have already lost 5lb, and feel very pleased. Empty out my 7pm juice which is a fruity berry combo into my Magimix, and blitz in some fresh strawberries, almond milk and ice. I know it's against the rules but I just need something relatively food-like to get me through the evening and to fall asleep. It works, and by 11pm I am fast asleep in bed.

Friday 10am

My skinniest of jeans feel comfortable this morning, and I feel very chirpy on the tube on the way into work. My green juice doesn't inspire me much this morning, and I am feeling slightly sick at having to drink the juice as it does have a real fennel kick to it. Stick lots of ice in it, and I finish the last sip at 11am.

Friday 1pm

I can't face my beetroot juice- I don't feel hungry, and I feel it might be more counterproductive to force myself to eat it. Wait and have my carrot and orange juice at 2pm instead, which feels much nicer. My skin feels lovely and less oily, and people have already commented that my face looks a bit slimmer!

Friday 6pm

The part of the week I dread most. Cocktail hour at work lasts from 5-6pm, and to celebrate a year of our incredible Swedish site, we have a kitchen rammed full of Swedish treats. I hear the words "Daim Bar" and want to cry. Want to cave so badly, so I decide to eat an apple instead. Again, I know it's not recommended, but it made me feel incredible, and I happily sipped my 7pm juice with glee, knowing that I had really pulled off an incredible juicing feat!

Friday 12am

Sitting with friends enjoying the lovely evening, and have drunk more icy lemon water than I ever should. I round my evening off with the beetroot juice I didn't drink earlier in the day. Wake up on Saturday feeling incredible, and remarkably, not hungry at all.

The Aftermath

I am delighted to see 8lb has magically dropped off my weight, and I have lost inches from my thighs, waist, stomach and arms.

I decide to swing straight into the Paleo diet, which means I am eating like a cavewoman, and avoid falling into the trap of a 'post-juice binge' session.

I cannot recommend Just Juices enough- their service was amazing, and Louise was so quick to pick up my e-mails regarding my concerns and queries.

The 3 day cleanse costs £69 including delivery- but you can also pimp it to a 5 day cleanse for £120. Both prices are incredibly reasonable, when comparing with London based juicing companies.

They also have this amazing deal where you can get 2 3-day juice cleanses for £125, so you and a friend can embark on the journey together. 

Check Louise and her team out- @justjuicesuk or on their website Just Juices

With love,

Free sample*

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Tom Ford Cafe Rosé

I'm a reformed perfume addict.

Not too long ago, I comfortably had over ten different fragrances on the go, never being able to stick to one signature scent.

That was until I smelt Tom Ford's collection of fragrances. 

They smell sexy, full bodied, luxurious and expensive. Just walking close to the Tom Ford beauty and fragrance counter makes me come over all weak.

If you've been living under a beauty rock for the last year, you will have missed out on the incredible beauty and fragrance launch from Mr Ford, who in a previous life has been the Creative Director at YSL and Gucci, and who is sited as the man who single-handedly turned Gucci around from their hideous green-and-red-stripe phase, to the power house brand it is today.

In 2006, Tom Ford launched a line of menswear, beauty, eyewear and accessories. His collections are luxurious and glamorous, and I don't think there is a beauty blogger in the world who hasn't lusted after his Wild Ginger lipstick.

I had been eyeing up Tom Ford's private blend collection ever since it launched in 2013. I fell in love with the Cafe Rose scent, but at £140 for 50ml, I had to be certain I loved it.

The top notes of this perfume are saffron, black pepper, and may rose, with some Turkish and Bulgarian rose hidden in there somewhere, alongside coffee, amber, patchouli and sandalwood. It smells gorgeously rich and spicy, but with the beautiful floral undertones I always look for in a scent.

I decided to splurge after weeks on end of either wearing perfume which had clearly gone off, or popping into Harvey Nichols to have a surreptitious spray. I'm now on first name terms with with the beautiful male assistants there.

I took advantage of the Harvey Nichols spring beauty offer, and after spending over £135, received an incredible goodie bag. This promotion has now ended, so I don't want to go on about what amazing treats were included...but, I got a Trish McAvoy mascara, a tube of Benefit Porefessional, a Nails Inc polish and a Cover FX illuminating powder, just to name a few.

His fragrances start from around the £140 mark, with this beauty costing £140 for 50ml. 

I only need two or three sprays to make an impact, so trying to reign in my usual habits of dousing myself liberally before leaving the house in the morning.

I've only had it two weeks and have already had some amazing compliments about how I smell on the tube in the morning...and to get a Londoner to say something nice before 9am, is somewhat of a feat.

Thank you, Tom Ford!

With love,

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Dim Sum Sunday at Hakkasan

On Sunday, it seemed the whole world was celebrating Mothers Day with their Mums and families. Mothers Day has always been a bittersweet day for me as I lost my lovely Mum six years ago.

Sadly, one of my very good friends also lost her Mum very recently, so we made a pact to spend Sunday together, celebrating and toasting our Mums with lots of champagne and some shopping.

We were inspired by Rosie from The Londoner to book into Hakkasan, because quite frankly we were swayed by the amazing Dim Sum Sunday deal they had on offer. We both wanted to squirrel ourselves away in a dark restaurant, drink, gossip and eat lovely food.

Hakkasan is hidden away in the back streets of Mayfair, down some dark concrete stairs. The restaurant itself is very beautiful and VERY sexy, all of their staff are impeccably turned out and incredibly handsome. We were ushered into our seats and before long, we both had a cold cocktail in hand.

My companion is called Fleur, so of course we had to order her namesake cocktail- Fleur de Coco. Possibly one of the most delicious creations ever to have passed my lips, it was divine mix of coconut water, Belvedere vodka, raspberry, and Akashi-Tai sake. It was refreshing, and dangerously easy to drink.

The menu kicked off with a Crispy Duck Salad, served to us at our table. This was a beautiful combination of crispy duck and sweet grapefruit- we both could have eaten this three times over. 

It was so delicious, that I didn't even have time to snap a photo!

Then a big, steaming bamboo basket landed on our table, with a delicious collection of steamed Dim Sum. Tip- save the green one with crab until last, it really is the queen of all Dim Sum!

At this point, our gorgeous waitress cracked out the bubbles, and Fleur and I did a very emotional toast to our Mums. 

But this was no time for tears, as the fried Dim Sum came flying out as our third course. This plate was truly the pinnacle of the brunch; a baked venison puff, Shanghai dumplings, lobster roll, and crispy duck and pumpkin puffs. We both could have married the duck and pumpkin puff, the fact it was shaped like a mini pumpkin just made me love it even more.

This course was followed by salt and pepper squid, the only disappointment of the whole meal. It was a bit too chewy and a bit too tough- you couldn't take a single bite of your squid, you needed to shove the whole lot into your mouth, which was too big of a mouthful. 

The Team let us have a bit of a break here, as I truly didn't think we could fit any more food in. We finished our cocktails and sipped our champagne, and before long our main course had arrived.

Stir fry black pepper rib eye beef with Merlot, pak choi, and sticky rice. I wish the portion was twice the size, as I could have eaten twice the amount. The beef was beautifully tender, and the pak choi was packed with garlic.

Even though we said we couldn't possibly eat any more...we did.

We both put away this magnificent creature.

By the terrible state of this photo, you know we were having a very, very merry time.

This was Hakassan's take on a traditional lemon desert- Lemon curd, meringue and crumble. We paired this delicious finale with a Basilcello cocktail.

Cucumber, basil, Berkeley Square gin, lemon, elder-flower, ginger and lychee.

I think there was a touch too much ginger if I am being honest, and it lacked the refreshing tang needed after such a diverse selection of flavours. It was an interesting addition to our meal nonetheless!

The service and the food at Hakassan were absolutely faultless, the staff were attentive but really chatty and they took the time out to explain every dish to us when serving.

The Dim Sum Sunday signature menu is £58 per person for all the beautiful food and drink we had, and I think it was an absolute blinder of a deal. We will absolutely be back!

After our truly incredible meal, we ventured out into the sunshine of Oxford Street, blinking after being in the dark basement of Hakassan for three long hours.

We stumbled into Harvey Nichols, and celebrated in the only way we knew best to honour our Mums. 

We shopped!

How did you spend your Mothers Day?

Sunday, March 09, 2014

MAC Lipstick in Russian Red Giveaway

Today I realised I committed a bit of a faux pas

I purchased a MAC lipstick in the same colour, twice.

Instead of being naughty, and keeping two lipsticks of the same colour, I am hosting my first beauty giveaway on Pooches & Peonies to celebrate!

If you don't already have MAC Russian Red in your life...then we need serious words, AND you need to immediately enter this giveaway.

It's a gorgeous wearable shade of red; the kind you can slap on whilst wearing your most boring outfit, and immediately feel like Beyonce.

As you can see, I wore it with my festive onesie on Christmas Day, and even whilst wearing some Primark polyester, I still look divine.


Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Bloom Wherever You Are Planted

I'm not really a big fan of those Instagram quotes you see reposted everywhere; it all seemed a bit contrived to me.

But after a very trying few weeks, and looking for some inspiration, I stumbled across some of the most beautifully organised Pinterest boards I have ever seen, courtesy of Laura of We Made This Home.

Laura had collected some gorgeous typography and a collection of the most lovely quotes. I had a read through and I wanted to share them with you.

The sun has just started shining, I wore my lovely new pink coat today AND I am going home to pancakes. Lots of reasons to smile today.

So not all that bad.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Berners Tavern

In keeping with my New Years resolution to eat out more and visit new restaurants, last month I ventured out to Berners Tavern for a spot of dinner.

Working in hotels, I love to keep up to date with new openings in London, and often pop in to have a quick nose around. Berners Tavern sits inside The London Edition, a new hotel just off Oxford Street.

I stopped in to have a look around and sample a cocktail at the end of last year, and fell in love with the hotel, AND my incredible cocktail (more on that, later). So, when I peeped my head into Berners Tavern, it became top of my list to visit. It's visually stunning, and the menu just looked incredible.  

The hotel and restaurant opened late last year, with Berners Tavern safely under the direction of Michelin starred chef, Mr Jason Atherton.

If you have been living under a rock for the last year or so, you will know that Jason Atherton is enjoying a bit of a spotlight for 2014. Jason started his career working for Gordon Ramsay at 'Maze' and has gone on to run some of the most amazing restaurants in London; Pollen Street Social and Social Eating House to name just a few.

Although Mr Atherton is le patron here and not getting his chef on, the restaurant is aleady incredibly popular with Londoners. We booked for a Sunday night, about 4 weeks in advance of our dining date, as the restaurant tends to get booked up very quickly.

I'm a bit of a Jason Atherton fan; I am positively glued to his new TV programme on Sky- 'My Kitchen Rules', and you can guarantee if he is on Saturday Kitchen or Sunday Brunch of a weekend, then I will almost certainly rise from my bed before midday. My only wish is that he would get rid of Lorraine Pascale and join up with my secret crush, Michel Roux Jr...Anyway, I digress.

We kicked off our evening with some very naughty cocktails.

The cocktail menu at Berners Tavern is so well created, with the wittiest names (Slap & Pickle, Mead, Myself and Aye, Dill or no Dill...I could go on) and the most inventive ingredients and pairings.

THIS however, is the best cocktail in the world; 'Cereal Killer'. 

A delicious combination of rum, Kahula, Coco Pops milk, and chocolate. 
Need I say anymore?

Feeling decidedly tipsy, we walked into Berners Tavern for our feast.

The restaurant is beautiful, the wall is full of mismatched antique gold frames with amazing prints and portraits. But remember- look up. The ceiling and lighting fixtures are truly something to behold!

We shared our starter; originally not planning to have one. But we saw this plate arrive at the table next door to us, and suffered a terrible case of food envy.

Egg, Ham and Peas- a deep fried egg, mushy peas, and little slithers of Cumbrian ham. Between us, this was NOT enough, and we both wish we had given in to tempation, and got one each.

The service in the restaurant was wonderful- our waiter advised us on wine, and reigned us in when we wanted to order more sides to go with our sharing Romney Marsh Lamb. For me, that's a huge tick on service- instead of upselling more side dishes to us, he assured us that we could easily do away with the three portions of Duck Fat Chips and stick with what we ordered.

The lamb was melt-in-your-mouth delicious and perfectly cooked. I love this sharing concept Berners Tavern have going on, it was refreshing to be able to serve yourself, and just get stuck in.

But for me, the best part was the pudding. My regular readers will know I just LOVE puddings and all things naughty. My secret santa gift from my lovely co-worker last Christmas, was a cookbook for chocolate lovers, aptly scribed with the loving sentiment, "To the Queen of Puddings". I didn't take offence.

This was their cinnamon doughnut, filled with chocolate ganache, and served with a side of salted caramel ice cream.

And this was a Calvados cream apple eclair. It's a bit of a beauty, isn't it? It was served with even more salted caramel ice cream, which is just fine by me.

We were utterly stuffed after our amazing meal, and a bit in love with Berners Tavern. It's definitely on the pricey side- we spent about £180 for our dinner for two- but it's a must visit. The buzz in the restaurant is new and exciting, the service is attentive yet relaxed, and the food is out of this world.

If you need to add a restaurant to your list, make sure it's Berners Tavern!

With love,

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Duck & Waffle

One of my new year's resolutions was to visit more restaurants in the great city of London. I've started to compile a long list in the back of my new 2014 diary, and plan to fill it with restaurant recommendations and new openings. Then each month, I want to visit one and tick it off my list, so at the end of the year I've eaten my way through a good proportion of London's newest venues.

One restaurant which had been on my list for a long time since I read Rosie Londoners review, was Duck & Waffle. 

I decided to treat my friend Fleur, in celebration of the month of December, our birthdays, and to kick off our Christmas holidays off with a bang.

We reserved a table a few good months in advance for a 9am breakfast on a cold, sunny Sunday. I think the excitement for us really kicked in when we stepped into the amazing lift, but it does come with a disclaimer:  If you are petrified of heights, then this place is certainly not for you.

The glass lift whizzes you up, god knows how fast, pinging you up to the 40th floor of the Heron Tower in the heart of Bishopsgate. A lot of shrieking ensued.

The restaurant has panoramic views across London, so we requested a corner window seat to the east of the city. I get the feeling everyone who walks into Duck & Waffle does exactly the same, but the talking point really is their incredible views.

Although it started off as a misty day with very little visibility, the sun soon shone and we got to see our City in the sunshine.

The service was a little unfriendly but quite swift; and we didn't get much assistance on the menu and how big portions were.

Both Fleur and I were desperate to try their infamous dish, Duck & Waffle, so decided to share a portion before our 'proper' breakfasts came out slightly later.

We were not disappointed. This dish is really quite something, and although I've never been a big fan of the classic American pancake, bacon and maple syrup combination, somehow this dish works.

The duck egg was cooked to perfection, and the confit leg of duck was delicious. But don't let the staff pour the maple syrup over the dish for you; it's so much better in smaller doses. But it's worth the hype.

We polished this off in record time, and eagerly awaited our second breakfasts, which featured even more waffle.

If I could eat this breakfast every day, and not put on a hundred stone, I absolutely would. Duck & Waffle win the prize for the most calorific and most addicitive breakfast with their caramelised banana waffle with homemade Nutella and vanilla ice cream. I could have licked that plate clean.

We rolled out of the restaurant delightfully full, ready for the final part of our visit: the lift to the bottom floor.

You need to reserve a few weeks in advance with Duck & Waffle, you can do this online using their new nifty booking engine.

P.S If anyone else has had the same bad thoughts about their breakfast after their D&W visit, please share.

With love,