Monday, February 22, 2016

Monday Munchies - Cote D'Azur

A lot of people hear Croydon and instantly look back to the 2011 riots and think the worst, but Croydon has a lot more to offer than just trouble. 

The truth is, that as you head towards South Croydon, there are so absolute gems when it comes to food. Ad and I are on a mission to try more of what our local scene has to offer and post it up here for you guys to view.

Today, we're looking at the Cote D'Azur which offers up a fusion of French and Mauritian cuisine. It's a small family run business situated in the heart of Croydon Restaurant Quarter which, at the time of writing is ranked number 7 of 370 odd restaurants in Croydon on Trip Advisor and has even secured a Certificate of Excellence.

Lets crack on shall we?

As we wanted to try a bit of everything, we went in with the mindset that we'd try and polish off three courses, a starter, main and pudding if we had room.
To start, I had the chicken liver pate with brioche, onion chutney and pickles which, as you'd expect was a scrummy combination of rich and creamy pate, super sweet brioche and some slight tartness and tang from the chutney and pickles.
Ad opted for the Mauritian crab soup which, as you can see arrived complete with shell so you know it was super fresh. The base was a subtly spiced fusion of Indian and African spices which we couldn't quite put our finger on. Either way, it was delicious and didn't overpower the subtle crab flavour.
Next, for mains I had the plaice stuffed with seafood which came with a Lemoncello sauce, crushed tatties and broccoli.  It arrived looking so artfully put together it seemed a shame to tuck into it. The seafood inside was a mix of prawns, squid and mussels from what I could see and was perfectly complimented by the sweet Lemoncello sauce. The fish was wonderful and tender and flaked apart beautifully.
Ad went for the red snapper with a creole sauce, paprika potatoes, rice and more of that yummy Mauritian based sauce. Looking at the food, it was hard to believe we weren't eating in a top notch London based restaurant. Both of the main as you'd imagine were delicious and  arrived rather impeccably presented, they didn't take too long to polish off.
Feeling suitably stuffed by this point, it was a real struggle to try and order a desert, but when I saw a chocolate pot complete with chocolate ice cream I just couldn't resist. The chocolate pot was super thick, rich and cocoa heavy  which is just what the Dr ordered.
In true Ad style, he ordered the chocolate brownie which also came with a helping of ice cream. I could tell he was suffering from food envy but this didn't stop him polishing off every last morsel of this decadently gooey chocolate treat.

All in all, including service our bill came to a little over £50 which is an absolute steal for three courses for two, especially given the quality of the food involved. The restaurant was pretty quiet which is surprising given we were eating at 6pm on a Saturday night! The food was fantastic and this is just one of a number of places in the Croydon Restaurant Quarter which deserve to be much busier than they are.
The Cote D'Azur offers fantastic value for money, top notch food and service with a smile. I would not hesitate to recommend this place to anyone in the area who enjoys traditional French cuisine with a bit of a twist.

Have you visited the Croydon Restaurant Quarter? What's your favourite spot to eat?

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Creating a Colourful Smoky Eye with Ruby Recommends

Over the last few months, I've really started to play with colourful make-up. Over the festive period (why oh why does it feel like aeons ago?) I was fortunate to be gifted with a few bits and pieces which have given me the opportunity to have a little bit of fun.
Today I wanted to show you how I created this colourful blue smoky look utilising an eyeshadow palette by international make-up artist Ruby Hammer under her Ruby Recommends capsule line of essentials.
It's a luscious selection of 16 shadows ranging from everyday essential shades to bold bright pops of colour. The set even includes some tools to help get you started thus making it an ideal gift for any budding make-up aficionados if you spot any lying around.

To achieve my look you'll need two blue shadows, one darker than the other, a light champagne shade to use as a highlight, a blending brush, a liner brush, some mascara and some eyeliner to pull everything together.
To start, I used the lighter shade (which is actually more of a turquoise) which is in the top left corner of the palette. I applied this to my lid using a blending brush and just kept blending back and forth over the lid until I had the desired level of colour. As you're applying using a blending brush, this naturally means that the inner corners of the eye will be lighter in shade whilst the outer corners will have more colour saturation.
Then, using the electric blue, second from the top left, and using my liner brush, applied this to the lower lash line, again, going back over the area until I was happy with the colour. I then took the champagne shade which is on the far right of the second row, and patted this into the inner corner to brighten things up a little.
To finish I lined both my waterline and my tight line with a brown eye liner and finished off with lashings of mascara. Oh, and some Bareminerals Moxie Lipstick in Be Brilliant for a real shimmer punch.
I'd never tried anything from this brand before, but I've got to say, the pigmentation and longevity really do pack a punch. They're also remarkably blendable which means it's highly unlikely that you'll be able to make a mistake and not blend it out. This is a great way to play with colour and have a little bit of fun with your make-up.

Whilst it may still be winter outside, my make-up is wishing spring would hurry up already!

Have you tried anything from Ruby Recommends? Have you experimented with colourful make-up lately?

Monday, February 1, 2016

I Don't Have Time to Work Out & [Insert other excuse here] Revisited

Those of you who are new to the blog might have missed my original post way back in September 2013 which talked about the various reasons why people can't or won't try and stay in shape and provided some viable solutions to those problems.

That post, if you missed it, can be found HERE.
As we're nearing the end of January, I keep hearing and reading the same story be it "I want to loose weight" or "I want to tone up" or "I'm really unhappy with my body." On several of these occasions I have offered solutions and seem to come up against something of a brick wall of excuses such as:
  1. I don't have the time
  2. I don't have the money
  3. I'm not near a gym
  4. It's too much effort
Being my usual helpful self, I want to revisit my original post and share some new options and maybe provide a reality check at the same time. There is nothing worse than being asked for advice and being completely ignored, make the effort.
So, first things first, I don't have the time.
The solution here is simple, make the time. We recently moved offices which now means I get home later than I used to. As such, my evening work-outs have gone out the window somewhat.
My solution? I set my alarm 20 minutes earlier and now crack on with a work-out first thing in the morning (6:08am 3 times a week Monday-Friday) and get a train which leaves 15-minutes later. As I was getting into the office an hour earlier than I needed to, I had a little time to spare and now arrive 40 minutes earlier than I need to. I could get an even later train, but as we know, Southern are unreliable at the best of times.

What, you don't have the time to cook proper meals? Cooking from scratch doesn't need to take hours, I frequently whip up a good home cooked meal in less than 30 minutes, and yes, that's totally from scratch. Struggling for inspiration for quick cook meals? Check out the Lean in 15 cookbook by Joe Wicks, the meals are uber tasty and seriously filling.

By the time you've gone out for dinner at the local pub, ordered your food and then waited for it to arrive at the table, you could have cooked yourself something wholesome and nutritious which will give your body the energy it needs to function properly.  
Next, I don't have the money.
Well this can be checked off fairly easily as eating well doesn't necessarily have to cost the earth. Ad and I have done the High Fat Diet on several occasions and found this only increased our weekly food bill by around £10 a week, but, given we weren't buying mid-week snacks we were making quite the saving.

You don't need to buy any fancy books or nap yourself a personal trainer to get results either. How about utilising free diet based resources such as the Eat More Loose More plan run by Good Morning Britain? This website comes complete with a full eating plan, shopping lists, work out videos and even recipes. I mean, the shopping list is literally done for you, the recipes are done for you, the meals are planned out for you, can it get any easier? 
And, tying in I don't live near the gym as well as, I don't have the time in with I don't have the money, I'm sure you have an internet connection no? If so, Youtube is your friend!
I regularly use Youtube as a means of tracking down great workouts which can be bashed out quickly. Youtube is of course FREE and you don't require access to a gym. At most, you might need a yoga mat which can be picked up from a TK Maxx or a Sports Direct for £5, or a light set of free weights which, again, can be picked up for around the price of your morning Starbucks. To get you started check out these great channels:

The Body Coach TV

Full of  High Intensity Interval Training based work outs, many of which can be done in small spaces and in under 20 minutes. Everyone has 20-minutes to workout, the below Fat Burning HIIT and Ab workout is one of my favourites mixing cardio with ab focused moves.

Popsugar Fitness

There are tons and tons of workouts available on this channel, ranging from 5-minute intense body weight workouts, 15-minute boxing workouts, 20-minute HIIT workouts, kettlebells, yoga and everything in between. Please don't try and kid yourself by saying you haven't even got 5-minutes to do something for yourself. The 20-minute Bikini HIIT Workout below is fast becoming my go-to morning workout.

Tone It Up

Now these ladies seriously know how to pack a punch into their workouts. They're not easy by any means but again, if you've got 20-minutes, then that's enough time to tuck a good workout under your belt. Their HIITy Bitty Bikini workout is hard work and you will require some light weights but it literally works everything including your shoulders and your core.

Finally, it's too much effort.

Well, it took all of 10-minutes of utilising the worlds favourite search engine Google to find all of these resources and I'm sure, if I wanted to, I could waffle on for pages and pages.
5, 10 or 20-minutes of your day to get a workout in, is not effort, suck it up and get it done!
If you honestly find yourself saying, after this entire post that it's too much effort or that you can't be bothered then clearly you don't really want to change. That's totally fine, you have to do what makes you happy, but please stop making excuses about why you can't and actually get out there and DO.
It's your body after all!
Do you have any free resources that you'd like to share? Have you tried any of the above workouts?
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