Beauty Mart

Beauty Mart

I was super excited to read Sali Hughes interview with Millie Kendall MBE (formerly of Ruby and Millie cosmetics) where she talks about her new business venture, Beauty Mart, which opened last September. Not being based in London, I won’t be able to rifle through the shelves of the physical store on the 3th floor of Harvey Nichols anytime soon, but I was equally excited to discover their online store, which stocks the best in cult beauty buys such as Embryollise Lair Crème Concentre and Daniel Sandler’s Watercolour Blush. Items for sale are cherry picked from beauty brands, rather than stocking the full range – Kendall believes this shows their commitment to quality, and as a consumer I’d agree it gives me the belief that the products they stock are tried and tested by people in the know.

I like the design of the website – they’ve gone for a striking red and black theme, quite different from what one might imagine of an online beauty store (white tends to feature more on beauty sites, probably to foster the subconscious link to all things clean and fresh?). I personally like the design, although it doesn’t look as sterile as some simple and perhaps competitors but I quite like that, it gives the feeling that you’re shopping somewhere a bit rock ‘n’ roll, with people who know how to be cool!

In terms of the items they stock, they wanted the store/ website to have a ‘curated’ feel with hand-picked items and I like that there is a full range of price points on all product types, something Kendall is at pains to point out was a conscious choice, to cater for women of all budgets. As well as some brands I was sort of expecting, there were a few featured I wasn’t familiar with such as DHC and Besame. The ethos of the website would encourage me to venture into these unknown brands more so than if I had seen them on Cult Beauty or Look Fantastic, which I think is a result of clever marketing and a good understanding of the consumer. I’m sure I’ll be ordering some bits and pieces from the website, and I’ll let you know how I get on!

Kendall confirms they are planning on expanding into the high street, with an aim of opening three discrete stores (rather than concessions) before the end of 2013. I love the concept of this store, and I’m crossing my fingers that they open a branch in Scotland sometime soon!

Project Suzie

Last year was a year of obtaining big life goals for me – Ian and I moved flat into our first home owned together and I get a new job, taking my career further in the direction I want to go. All of my time was taken up achieving these first two things and didn’t leave much room for anything else. However, a year into our new flat and nearly five months into my new job I want to re-focus onto my own health and well-being.

I was chatting about this while out for brunch with friends and came up with naming this overhaul ‘Project Suzie’. My friend Ryan found this hilarious and suggested I had a branded t-shirt to wear – fair enough, it might sound a bit daft but calling it ‘Project Suzie’ has helped my focus my thoughts on what I want out of life, how I want to feel and what steps I need to take to get me there. I did however draw the line at the tshirt…I’m not sure how that would’ve gone down with the many bodybuilders in my local gym!

As a compulsive list maker, a comprehensive list was my first stop and the main points featured were:

  1. Get fitter and healthier (exercise more and eat better!)
  2. Develop my hobbies and interests
  3. Socialise more
  4. Revamp my look (make more effort with makeup, skin/ hair care and clothes)
  5. Pass my driving test

Over the coming months, the majority of my posts will undoubtedly fall into this project/ overhaul in some way or other, which I really hope will make both an interesting read but also help keep my focused on achieving my goals!

I’ve made progress on all fronts already; just starting this blog is helping me develop my interests and hobbies. I’ve started eating better and am generally being a bit more active (though lots more to be done on that front) and have let Ian drag (I mean encourage!) me out driving a few times to get over my fear of actually being in control of two tons of metal going at speed. I’ve become utterly obsessed with reading beauty blogs and watching You Tube videos (my favourite bloggers and vloggers will be linked at the side) and am forming a better idea of what beauty products might suit me and the direction I want my style to take.

So, after all that, let Project Suzie commence, and I’ll let you know how I get on!

Gamba

Last week saw our second visit in a month to Gamba, one of Glasgow’s premier fish and seafood restaurants. Both times we were with the same couple – one visit just hadn’t been enough!

Watermelon prawn cocktailFirst time round, I had the watermelon prawn cocktail and on our second visit, this was the starter that still most appealed, so I went for it again. The fresh juiciness of the watermelon was a great counterpoint to the creamy dressing and kick of fiery chilli. This is one I’ll be recreating at home, though perhaps with a bit less of a kick – my lips were on fire!

The mains were a success across the table, with the gents ordering the roast hake with a crab, saffron, leek, onion and mussel stew for both meals. My friend also repeat ordered, and went for the baked sole Thermadore. On our first visit I’d had Loch Duart teriyaki salmon with fragrant rice and wasabi – this wasn’t the most visually appealing choice, but the flavour far outweighed the aesthetics, with a reserved dot of wasabi adding a bit of heat and some needed colour on the plate.

On our second occasion, I was only one that deviated from my previous mains order, going for the sea bream, feta, asparagus and sesame salad. The fish was beautifully cooked, still retaining its moistness while having a gorgeous crispy skin – a combination that showcases the skills of the kitchen. The combination of in-season asparagus and feta was lovely with the flavoursome fish and felt like a really special, though healthy, option.Sea bream salad

On our first visit, we’d pushed the boat out and gone for the soft chocolate cake, cheeseboard and white chocolate crème brûlée for our dessert course. This visit, only two of us were going for dessert, having spotted the passion fruit crème brûlée, which sounded just too enticing to pass up. Sadly, we then noticed the time and didn’t get to try it as we were rushing off to see Iron Man 3 (brilliant, sharp and witty – a must see, and one we’ll be purchasing on DVD. Plus, Mr Downey Jr is also rather alluring as the title character despite the questionable goatee).

On our first visit, my friend Jurgen was lucky enough to be given the Gamba cookbook after tweeting a photo of his main meal – sadly, the book is nearly impossible to get hold of now, but Jurgen has promised me the recipe for the hake with saffron sauce, as this was the star dish of the meal and one I’d love to recreate at home.

Staff were attentive throughout both meals, and in fact recognised on the second visit. A small touch, that really made us feel valued customers.

In all, Gamba is one we will definitely be visiting again, though we might wait until they refresh their extremely good value pre-theatre menu with some new options.

Beauty Buys

Debenhams 10% off beauty offer was just the excuse I needed to treat myself to a few bits and pieces I’ve had my eye on for a while. Winging their way to me are Astalift Jelly Aquarysta, MAC Extra Dimension Blush in At Dusk and Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Ultra-Light Skin Perfecting Makeup Instant Natural Radiance SPF 15.

I recently read an interesting comparison of the Aquarysta and Illamasqua’s new Hydra Veil on Fleur De Force’s blog, but I plumped (pun intended) for the Aquarysta, as it’s had great reviews and is more of a skincare treatment product than just cosmetic, which is what I’m in the market for at the moment.

I had a quick swatch of the MAC blush in store on Thursday, and it looked the most beautiful soft dusky pink, with just a hint of shimmer which I think will be beautiful for summer (should we ever actually get any sunshine in Scotland).

The Chanel foundation is something I’ve been keen to try for a longtime as I’ve read such good things, and I think that Lisa Eldridge (who I am a huge fan of) rates this foundation pretty highly.

Looking forward to getting my mitts on these goodies, and reviews will follow shortly!