Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Getting Cheesy at Melt Room

Melt Room | Toasties, Soups & Salads | 26 Noel Street, London W1F 8GY |

I have to admit, I'm not a huge cheese fan. In fact, I actually dislike it. I want to blame it on my Vietnamese upbringing. You know, diary-free diet and all that! Unfortunately, my own sister is a living counter-argument for that. She loves cheese, her favourite type of breakfast is rye bread with a slice of gouda. Though, there's something about melted cheese that even I can't stay away from. Gooey, melted goodness. Hmmmm... I guess, everyone melts away at the sight of that (what a witty word play!). So of course, I'm a fan of toasties, great comfort food for rainy days or actually any other day of the year as well. And now there's a cafe dedicated to grilled cheese sandwiches!

Melt Room opened earlier this year, serving a great variety of grilled cheese sandwiches! It was really hard to choose which ones to go for. But after long contemplation, my flatmte Yasmin and I shared The Classic (£4 for special cheese blend grilled on sour dough bread), The Portobello Mushroom (£4.50 for sour dough bread with thyme, roasted peppers & provolone cheese) and a mac'n'cheese melt (£5). I also ordered the Pulled Pork Shoulder (£5 for pommery mustard, real ale and apple chutney & sharp cheddar) to try a meaty version as well. While The Classic and The Portobello Mushroom were tasty, I felt like something was missing to make them re-oder-worthy. The flavours were quite predictable. On the other hand, the mac'n'cheese sandwich was one of my favourites for its creaminess and subtle flavours. Though, the winner for me was definitely the Pulled Pork Shoulder one. A beautiful mix of sweet and savoury flavours with the tender pork and the tangy chutney.

If you are in the area and craving some carbs and cheesy goodness, definitely pay Melt Room a visit! Their sandwiches are tasty and the prices reasonable considering how filling they are. One sandwich each would have been plenty, we were just too eager to try more. Though, for me to make a dedicated trip to Melt Room, I think the fillings could be a little more experimental for that special something, such as different add-ons such as sauces or spring onions (spring onions are great in toasties!).

Photos of me taken by Yasmin Desai (The Start Up Girl)

Melt Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, November 16, 2015

Screen-Printing with Daniel Heath

Daniel Heath | Blackhorse Workshop, Walthamstow | Discover his story In The Window

I've always loved arts, be it visual arts in the form of drawings and paintings or performing arts, namely theatre. Still, rather than pursuing an arts-related career as everyone expected me to, I did my degree in Economics and Politics. Of course, it's mainly because I have a passion for a lot of different things, but it's also partly because I couldn't imagine creating art daily and having to make a living out of it. Now I'm doing Marketing at In The Window, a social platform celebrating the great design of objects and spaces. I get to see the inspiring stories and artistry by people pursuing their passion on a daily basis.

One of the most exciting projects for me so far, has been In The Window's event with Daniel Heath, one of the designers telling their story In The Window. We wanted to extend In The Window's signature immersive storytelling experience to the real world. We invited a group of interior bloggers to Daniel Heath's studio at Blackhorse Workshop in Walthamstow to experience the process behind his iconic wallpaper design. Daniel Heath has a powerful story as a craftsman, and this is inextricably linked to the unique process he goes through to create his distinctive designs. He describes this process in a very engaging way In The Window, and it was interesting to establish a parallel between Daniel Heath's story In The Window and his work as a designer-maker.

It was so fun to get to meet all the bloggers in the Wood Street Coffee shop that we filled with delicious drinks and snacks (big thanks to Propercorn, Moreish Cheesecake, Dinah's Desserts and Nix & Kix for the great support)! Definitely helped to break the ice, before the screen-printing session with Daniel Heath! Yes, because the bloggers had the chance to have a go at screen-printing a sample of his Eastern Peacock wallpaper themselves. I've been admiring his beautifully detailed illustrations for a while, but seeing it come to life in front of my eyes is a completely different experience. So many steps and so much time goes into creating his handmade and bespoke wallpapers, I wouldn't have the patience to wait for each layer to dry. Once everyone gave it a go under Daniel's kind instructions, and the last layer was on paper, a universal "Woaaah!" echoed through his studio. The Eastern Peacock wallpaper sample in teal and gold was finished. Simply beautiful. 

I'm really glad I was able to be part of this experience, be it the event itself or the behind-the-scenes work that went into it. I have such a great team at In The Window and of course, Daniel Heath was such a pleasure to work with! Though, I have to admit, I was seriously tired afterwards. Good thing that Addison Lee took me home afterwards, and I could relax in the backseat (and finally get some tweets and Instagram pictures out!)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Discover Boots Beauty Finds

Since getting interested in all things beauty, I'm always curious when I see new products popping up and want to try them all! So it's great to hear that larger Boots stores have a stand dedicated to launching the latest new products that are trending: Boots Beauty Finds. Makes it easier to navigate through the vast amount of products they offer! I got to test some of the new releases and here's what I thought:

Teeth Whitening Strips (£24.99 for 2 week supply) Mr. Blanc*
I'm a tea drinker. Black tea, green tea, white tea, I like them all. Though, black tea contains a lot of tannin which promotes the staining of your teeth. Not ideal, right? So I'd be the perfect target group for Teeth Whitening Strips such as Mr. Blanc's. If I'm honest, I usually don't really trust these products, and feel like they promise a lot without actually doing much. To my surprise, my teeth did look visibly whiter after 1 use only! Now I just need to see how long lasting the effect it. The elegant box comes with fourteen strips to use for two weeks. The strips contain a minty gel that gently whitens your teeth when you keep it on for 30min without eating or drinking. My teeth didn't feel sensitive at all afterwards, which is a plus. However, the strips sit quite awkwardly on your teeth as they don't really stick to them. I felt like strips just awkwardly sat on your teeth. Still, I guess you can get over this when waiting for your teeth to get all beautiful and white.

Hairburst (£24.99 for 1 month supply)*
Hairburst is a vitamin supplement that promises to improve hair growth. And indeed, all the ingredients are known for their hair benefits, from Collagen, Silica, Biotin, Vitamin A, B, C & D to BCAA's and Folic (Vitamin B9) and Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5). You are supposed to take two capsules in the morning before your breakfast, and slowly your hair will be much healthier and longer. Personally. I'm not too much of a fan of supplements, especially since you can obtain these Vitamins by changing your diet appropriately. Though, it's surely a convenient way if you are find changing your diet too much of a hassle. Hairburst seems to be really popular online and has worked differently, but usually effectively for most. I've tested it for two weeks so far and I do see an improvement in the shininess of my hair. But I guess, I have to finish the box to be able to say more.

Detangling Brush (£11.99) Wet Brush
The Wet Brush Detangling Brush is my favourite product from Boots Beauty Finds! Wet Brush promises to make brushing wet or dry hair easy, without difficult tangling or pulling and tugging. Of course, I was sceptical, there's a lot of products saying the same, but I gave it a go on my wet hair. To my surprise, brushing was so easy! I'm not sure if it's because of their IntelliFlex Bristles and SofTips (I'm not really a fan of fancy names), but it definitely works. I love my Tangle Teezer, but I do find that it has difficulties with wet hair. So I've been using the Wet Brush Detangling Brush every time after a hair wash. 

Universal Brow Pencil (£17) Billion Dollar Brows*
The Billion Dollar Brows Universal Brow Pencil has a brow pencil on one end and a brush on the other. There's only one shade that's supposed to suit all skin tones and hair colours. Not sure how the medium brown would look on lighter hair. Either way, the colour matches my hair. The pencil has a soft wax consistency and can have different levels of opaqueness based on the pressure of your application. This really helps to make your brows look natural, yet sharp, and I got a lot of compliments for my brows after using this product. However, due to its consistency, you do need to set your brows with a brow gel for a long-lasting effect as it can rub off easily. So while I like the product and it's really easy to use, I'm not sure if I'd pay £17 for this, especially when considering that it comes in a flimsy plastic packaging

Immerge The Lava Nail Polish Set (£18) WAH London
I'm probably one of the worst people to ask about nail polishes. For some reason, my interest in painting has not transferred to nails, so you are lucky, if you see me with beautifully painted hands. I do like the concept of the WAH London Immerge sets, even though the colours don't really match my personal style. The fact that you can warp and mix colours easily with this set definitely sounds good to a nail-noob like me. Unfortunately, it wasn't as easy as I expected to be and my nails didn't look as good as the package, so I hope they update their website with more tutorial videos soon.

Summer Fruit Lip Balm (£6.50) EOS*
Finally available in the UK! EOS Lip Balms are probably one of the most coveted American beauty products. It was one of the first things that went on my shopping list, when I went to New York a few years ago. The packaging is cute and sturdy, colourful and fun. Though, it's of course the lip balm itself that has everyone talking. EOS products are 100% natural and 95% organic, paraben and petrolatum free as well as rich of Vitamin E, shea butter and jojoba oil. The EOS lip balms keep your lips soft, without being greasy (such as Vaseline for example) and the fruity scent will definitely get you addicted. It's no surprise they are so popular!

1-Step Brow Gel (£19.95) Wunderbrow*
Wunderbrow promises to create the perfect brow for days with this product, containing an exclusive blend of hair-like fibers, combined with specially treated pigments designed to fasten onto skin and hair. At first, I was a bit confused by the consistency of the product (so liquid!), when applying it onto my brows with its lip-brush-like tip. Once dried, I was impressed to see how my brows were completely set, no smudging possible at all. It only came off after massaging my cleansing oil in thoroughly. While I prefer more natural looking brows, it's a great product for anyone who likes strong brows, though, creating sharp edges with the brush tip was quite difficult. 

All Purpose Skin Creme (£29 for 118ml) 
Egyptian Magic*
All Purpose Skin Cremes are confusing. I just don't know where to best apply it! Egyptian Magic's All Purpose Skin Creme is an all-natural creme made from Olive oil, Bees Wax, Honey, Bee Pollen, Royal Jelly and Propolis Extract to moisturise and nourish your skin. The ingredients (of which most are related to bees) are known for being moisturising, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and/or wound healing. I've tried the Egyptian Magic All Purpose Skin Creme on my lips, on my face, on my arms and on my legs. On my lips, it definitely added shine but once the creme evaporated I didn't feel like my lips were much softer. Definitely good for dry patches and to moisturise the tips of the hair. However, I didn't like how it comes in a jar for hygienic reasons and the creme feels really greasy, kind of vaseline-like.