Monday, 30 April 2018

Where To Eat and Drink in New York City

New York is somewhere I go back to fairly regularly and in some ways it has become home for me. A few years ago I was interning in the city and my parents and older sister still live there. I tend to go back a few times a year and I have my favourite spots that I go to time and time again. Although there are so many areas of New York that I don't really know, such as Queens and the Bronx, I do have some great recommendations if you are going to New York and will be visiting Manhattan and Brooklyn.

- FOOD -
St Anselm
My friend Chelsea introduced me to this place and I go whenever I'm back in New York. It's located in Williamsburg in Brooklyn, close to some cool bars so it's a great area to spend an evening. St Anselm specialises in grilled food and their pan fried mash potato is the best mash you will ever taste in your entire life (I would bet money on that). You can't book and it does get super busy so I usually go on a weekday at opening time which is 5pm.

A relatively new addition to downtown Manhattan, Augustine is a high-end french brasserie that serves amazing dishes and great cocktails. It is on the slightly more expensive side but the whole experience makes it worth. The ambience of Augustine makes it one of my favourite spots in Manhattan. It has a very vintage Paris feeling to it, featuring intricate tiled walls and dimmed lighting. The restaurant is part of The Beekman Hotel which is also a stunning place to grab a drink before or afterwards.

Red Rooster
Marcus Samuelson's Red Rooster is a great spot if you want delicious soul food with a vibrant atmosphere and excellent tunes to accompany the food. The restaurant is in Harlem so if you are staying in Soho or downtown Manhattan it is a bit of a way to go but if you want a true american dining experience I really recommend it.

By far the restaurant that I have been to the most, Raouls is my family's Friday night hangout spot. Good food, good ambience and a little more relaxed and informal than Augustine. Also a good place for celebrity spotting... So far I've seen Jude Law, Kiera Knightley, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick.

A great place for dinner if you're going out for a special occasion. The menu features organic and seasonal produce and delicious cocktails. It is part of the East Village Standard hotel so you can head to the bar after for more drinks.

Places on my list to try: CarboneFlinders LaneBoutrosHemlockBond Street Sushi

Dimes is a cute little healthy Californian style lunch destination, with a minimal but colourful decor (aka very Instagrammable). I love going here on days where I'm feeling more health-conscious because they do great salad situations.

De Maria
Another beautiful cafe with great healthy options, situated in Lolita. De Maria opened its doors in 2017 and has received a lot of acclaim for its beautiful interior space. I personally really enjoy the salad bowls that they do and the decor is to die for.

Otafuku x Medetai
If you want a sit-down meal, this is not the one for you but if you want a quick lunch and you're in the East Village then this place makes amazing Japanese street food.

At this point you've probably gathered that New York isn't short on aesthetically pleasing food joints and Seamore's is no exception. If you're after a yummy fish-based dish, Seamore's is a fail-safe option and they have several locations (Chelsea, Nolita and Dumbo). I really enjoy the Crispy Fish tacos.

Chef's Club Counter
With different resident chefs depending on when you visit, it's a great place to discover new chefs and new types of food.

Pies n' Thighs
As much as it's nice eating healthy, is it really a trip to the US if you don't have some junk food? And Pies n' Thighs do it well. If you want fried chicken and waffles or a grilled cheese then this is your place.

Places on my list to tryThe BedfordBanterVia Carota

Russ & Daughters
Visiting Russ & Daughters at the end of every trip back to New York has become a tradition for me and my mum. I think it would be somewhat rude to visit New York without having at least one bagel. Russ & Daughters is a New York family-owned institution and on top of that the nostalgic decor gives you the feeling of really experiencing what New York eating experiences are all about.

Miss Lily's
There are a couple locations; one in Greenwich village, the other in the East Village. If you are wanting a fun, bottomless brunch, Miss Lily's is a Caribbean diner with great music and all-round great vibes.

Five Leaves
Another Brooklyn spot, Five Leaves do a great mushroom toast and the décor is cute without being clichéd. Also apparently Heath Ledger was one of the investors

Places on my list to try: Sisters BrooklynCookshopEstela

Baby's All Right
I actually went on a Tinder date here and although the date itself wasn't the best, I enjoyed the date location a lot. If you want a low-key bar in Brooklyn with an American 80s feel to it, this is a good place to go. They also have a live music venue at the back.

Union Pool
I can't write about drinking in New York without mentioning Union Pool. I have a lot of memories at this place and it was always my go-to on any night out. There are two rooms, separated by a pretty big outside smoking area (with a taco van in it), so if you don't like the music in the live music room you can always go to the other room for more mainstream hits.

The Standard Biergarten
Another go-to for me. The Standard hotel in the Meatpacking District can be a little packed but if you  want a night out in Manhattan then the beer garden at The Standard hotel is a good place to start.

Extra Fancy
Extra Fancy is located near St Anselm so it's a good place to go before dinner or as a place to continue on the night. They have an amazing selection of unusual cocktails and they do also serve food if you want two hit two birds with one stone.

Night of Joy
I've only been here once but it's a relaxed cocktail bar for when you don't want to go somewhere super fancy but you also don't want to hit up a dive bar. Apparently there's a rooftop but I went in the dead of winter so we'll have to trust the internet on that one.

The Blind Barber
I don't go out dancing as much as I'd like to but if you want to go to out in Manhattan to somewhere that is fun and unpretentious I would recommend The Blind Barber. It's a speakeasy bar that you access through a barber shop (shocker) and although the bar itself is quite small it's a fun, intimate place to have a dance to some great tunes. Also the drinks are incredible, if a little pricey.

The Spotted Pig
Kanye once tweeted: "If you wanna have a drink with me, book a table at the spotted pig when I’m back in NY". Although The Spotted Pig serves food, it's not a great option for any fellow vegetarians out there (there are some options) but it is a charming spot to have a drink, with more casual gastropub vibes. 

Places on my list to try: Friends and Lovers BarThe Dead Rabbit

Sushi: Takahachi
Bagels: Zuckers, Russ & Daughters (above)
Cafés and bakeries: Momufuku Milk BarMamanArcade BakeryLevain BakeryThe ElkKaffe 1668Dunwell Doughnuts
Pizza: Joe's PizzaArtichoke PizzaKesté

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

An introduction to: CLE Cosmetics

I became obsessed with beauty products at a pretty young age. My dad happens to work for a cosmetic group and so although I didn't start wearing makeup until I was a pre-teen, I was always fascinated by beauty products. I loved the idea of having my own collection of pots and potions and palettes and as soon as I could get away with wearing makeup myself, that's when I really got into it. Needless to say, I am still an absolute lover of beauty products - everything from packaging to formulations and innovation... I'm interested. Even though I don't hoard makeup like I used to, I am still always interested in what is new.

A couple of years ago I started using a makeup and skincare brand called CLE Cosmetics. Just as a little disclaimer, although I have been sent products to try out, I do also buy their products with my own money because I actually love a lot of them. Instead of going through every single product I have tried, I thought I would give a little introduction to the brand and mention some of my favourite products.

In the section on their website about the brand, CLE is defined as:
"Minimally designed beauty products using the latest Korean technologies to suit the modern woman for an effortless lifestyle.
Our skincare and makeup are created with safe, wholesome ingredients, the latest Korean beauty technology, and understated design".

What I love about the brand is that although there are no frills and everything is super easy to use, CLE Cosmetics make makeup fun again with their use of interesting textures and innovative packaging. I also think that the shades that they go for are always really stunning and slightly different to anything else on the market. My absolute favourite product is the CCC Cream, which has the most natural looking foundation formula that I have ever come across and it has surprisingly decent coverage too. It comes out of the tube as a white substance but once blended into the skin, tiny bubbles of pigment burst to create the perfection, seamless foundation application. 
Top to bottom: Melting lip powder in Ultra Summer, Hot Choco and Desert Rose

Aside from the CCC Cream, I love blending their highlighters in with the Melting Lip Powders (favourite shades are Milk Choco and Hot Choco) onto my cheeks. It creates a really gorgeous luminous flush of colour. I have also tried some of the skincare products, all of which I can sincerely say I would recommend. I currently use the Melting Cleanser, which is great for removing makeup and I am also currently trying out the Dry Mask Sheets with the Lifting Mist, which are great if my skin is looking a bit flat and dull.

If you are wanting to try any of their products, they have a 20% discount code for your first order if you sign up for the newsletter.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Thoughts on: new year's resolutions

NEW YEAR NEW ME GUYS!! Not really, but I have seen a lot of negative attitudes towards new year's resolutions this year and it got me thinking (shock!).

I have always done new year's resolutions ever since I can remember... at least since I have been able to use a pen. The tradition in my family is that on new year's eve, we drink a bottle of champagne, sit at a table and write our new year's resolutions, and then we fold up the paper and place it into the empty bottle and these bottles are kept somewhere dingy and we never look at them again.

The criticism that I have read or heard about new year's resolutions is that you shouldn't have to wait for a new year to better yourself and that no one sticks to them anyway. In defence of new year's resolutions, I will argue that they are a great thing, and here is why:

1. December is a disgusting month
I love December because my family celebrates Christmas, but lets just say after a month of too much drinking and too much stuffing... most of my clothes don't really fit me anymore. Thereby making January a great time to think about my eating and exercise habits and put me back into gear. Considering a lot of people's resolutions are based around health, January is the best time to reconsider how you treat your body because no one wants to be restricting themselves in December and you've got enough time before you want to be feeling cute in very little clothing in the summer months (I'm sure you look cute all the time though).

As for other resolutions, you've got to start at some point so why not put them off until January?

2. January is a disgusting month
This applies more if you don't live in Australia/NZ of course but January in many parts of the world is quite grim. The holidays are over and it's really cold and you're back at work and you're poor. Fun! Therefore, it's quite nice to have some aspirations for the upcoming months at least so that you don't go into a downward spiral of utter misery.

3. It's a harmless tradition
As I mentioned before, for my family it's a tradition and it brings us all together and we have an excuse to tank a bottle of champagne.

4. Bettering yourself is a good thing
If new year's resolutions encourage people to actually attempt to better themselves, then there is really no reason for this to be frowned upon. No matter how sceptical you are about resolutions, some people do actually manage to stick to them or at least make steps towards their goals.


Thursday, 24 August 2017

Skinstitut Review

An Australian online beauty store called RY (Recreate Yourself) contacted me a while back and asked if I would like to be sent some skincare to try out. I had never heard of Skinstitut before but as it is an Australian owned brand that doesn't test on animals I was open to giving their products a go. This review is going to be 100% honest and I have no interest in sugar coating anything.
Side note: this is not an ad (lets be real, I've never ever been paid to write about a product but I just feel like I need to be transparent!), I was simply sent the products and was not obliged to produce anything in return. 

What I will say though, is that since being introduced to RY, I've seen they have really good deals so if you're based in Australia then definitely check them out because they stock some great brands. I was lucky enough to be sent five products from Skinstitut and here is how I got on with them...

The L-Lactic Acid Cleanser is the product I was most excited about because I have a cleanser to remove my makeup but I wanted one to use afterwards as I prefer to double cleanse. This leaves my skin feeling so soft so I'm really glad this has been introduced into my skin routine.
I really try to make sure I apply SPF every single day, whether it's sunny or a gloomy day in winter. The Age Defence SPF 50 they sent me hasn't broken me out and it is perfectly nice to apply makeup over so for me that's pretty much all I look for (apart from the obvious sun protection). I really like the Enzymatic Micro Peel because I don't own anything like it. At the moment I have a clay face mask but that's it so I really like this one for brightening and smoothing out my skin. I've been using it 2-3 times a week and I really like it. The texture is quite odd because it's just like applying a moisturiser rather than a mask but you wash off after 15 mins and it works really well. One product that I haven't used quite as much is the Moisture Defence Ultra Dry moisturiser, only because moisturisers can break me out so I'm a little bit wary. I think this one is OK so far but to be honest it just seems like a relatively normal moisturiser (even though it claims to be for extra dry skin). It is quite thick in texture but it sinks in really quickly, after a few minutes it almost seems like I didn't apply anything at all so I'm not sure quite how effective it is. The last product is a facial mist (Multi-Active Mist), it smells zesty and fresh and I really like face mists when I just want a little extra hydration or to freshen up the look of my makeup.

Overall I think the products are really nice and not too expensive (by Aussie standards anyway). However, my one complaint is that the packaging is not the best. It is absolutely fine for the thicker products and for the spray (although it looks a little bit boring - which really doesn't matter but I probably wouldn't have looked at them in store), however the cleanser just pours out the hole a little too easily. There is nothing to keep the product in so you have to be mindful of that. Packaging aside, I think the products are nice and I would definitely purchase the cleanser and enzyme peel. I also like how the products smell really fresh so they're lovely to use in the morning.

The products all usually retail at $45 but are on sale for $30.15 on RY at the moment :)

Monday, 14 August 2017

The French Woman Myth articles
First things first! The title might suggest I don't think french women exist... I can tell you from experience that french women do actually roam the earth. They are real people! What I actually want to write about today is a media fixation on french women and the whole concept of "how to be more french". There are several reasons why I think this is problematic and why the portrayal of french women as all being the same is also not. the. one.

The first reason is that there is no reason whatsoever why we should all aspire to be like people from somewhere we're not from or people who are entirely different to us. It's not only to do with the beauty aspect of the elusive stereotypical french woman, we need to stop aspiring to a fictional, idyllic type of person. French women don't all smoke, they don't all stay skinny while eating croissants and cheese everyday and they're not all nonchalant women whose beauty routine consists of not brushing their hair and only applying a lick of mascara and voilà! There is also this idea that french women don't think about their appearance or their weight and that they don't exercise. This concept of being cool, natural and effortless is deceptive. Most of us, french or not, make an effort when we want to look good and that's OK. What is wrong with looking like you care?

Probably the most annoying part about this representation of the french woman is that she is pretty much exclusively portrayed as a type of Brigitte Bardot or skinny Parisian brunette smoking a cigarette kind of figure. She is always very natural looking and on the slim side. This completely excludes the millions of women in France who are not a part of that stereotype. What about the many french women of northern african decent for example? In fact what about women from the Basque country? Why does the portrayal of french women only reflect those that fit a very specific mould? France is a multicultural country with an array of women from different cultural backgrounds who come in all different shapes, sizes and skin colours. They're just as french as any of the french movie stars from the 60s and 70s.

What is really strange about how french women are portrayed is that the media is still obsessed with women like Brigitte Bardot (who btw is racist af - chic!) and Françoise Hardy aka women who were in the limelight decades ago. Why do we want to be like women from the 1960s? What's wrong with women from 2017?

There are so many reasons why I find articles and guides on how to be more french or Parisian really problematic and something we should move on from. But I'll leave it here for today!

Lets all just aspire to be the best versions of ourselves #cheeeeese :D

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Top picks: TV Shows On Netflix

Everyone loves a good Netflix binge but sometimes it's hard to choose what to watch when there's so much available (and a lot of crap too). I narrowed down some of my favourite shows that I have watched over the past year. Here are my top picks of TV shows on Netflix:

Peaky Blinders
If you're a lover of Cillian Murphy (like me) then there is no way that you haven't yet heard of or watched Peaky Blinders. Set in post World War I Birmingham, Peaky Blinders delves into the exploits of the Peaky Blinders gang. Cillian Murphy plays the lead role (Thomas Shelby) and is absolutely perfect for the role. There are some really great actors that play alongside him, such as Tom Hardy, Sam Neill and Helen McCrory. It takes a few episodes to really get into and I think each one is around an hour long but after a couple, I was well and truly addicted. There are three seasons out and a fourth season is being filmed at the moment. It also has a killer soundtrack *thumbs up*.

You'll love it if you like: Anything crime and gangs related

I don't know how I have never heard anyone mention this show before, but I watched it on a whim when I had run out of other shows to watch and I thought it was great. It's a British sitcom, in which the main character finds out that he has contracted Chlamydia and so he decides to contact all of his former sexual partners to inform them. It features a lot of flashback scenes which tie his past into his present and it also deals with him and his current friendship group's love and relationship situations. It's a really easy to watch show and I found it really funny.

You'll love it if you like: British comedy and shows like Catastrophe

This might be a bit of a bold claim but I think Broadchurch has to be my all-time favourite TV show. I feel like it has everything I want from a crime series (can you tell I love crime?): great acting, suspense, drama, plot twists... ugh I could go on for a wee while. In the first season it follows two detectives who are investigating the murder of a young boy and it unravels the town's secrets as well as the personal, private lives of the two main investigators. David Tennant and Olivia Coleman are two of my favourite actors and I think they make an amazing team. There are three seasons but I haven't managed to find the third season online yet (I live in Australia ya see). It's one of those shows where you just have to keep on watching and nothing was able to distract me (not even Instagram).

You'll love it if you like: British TV and crime shows, like The Fall or The Killing

Master of None
This one is just a bit of fun if you want something light and funny to watch. It's a comedy-drama and it was created by and features Aziz Ansari. It just follows his character, who is a 30 something year old actor who is trying to make it (in his career and personal life) in New York. It's just pretty lighthearted and will get you giggling. There is one season so far and the second one is coming out this month.

You'll love it if you like: American sitcoms like How I Met Your Mother

Top Boy
I recently watched both seasons of Top Boy and I really enjoyed it. It is set in an East London estate and it follows a group of people involved in drug dealing and gang rivalry. I found it to be gripping as well as insightful, as it sheds light on the drug war in London and how people end up getting involved in it. It stars Ashley Walters (Asher D) and Kane Robinson (Kano).

You'll love it if you like: Anything crime and gangs related

Black Mirror
I didn't start watching Black Mirror until way after the second series was released because I had heard it was scary (which it kind of is, but not in a haunted house, spooky kind of way). Black Mirror is stand alone episodes of an alternative reality, set mostly in the present. It showcases an exaggerated view of how our world is or how it could become. It raises questions about the modern world and our use of technology and it's really bloody clever and gripping. Watch it.

You'll love if it you like: Anything science fiction or dystopian  

Other good'uns: Love, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Riverdale, Narcos, Extras, The Crown
Documentaries: How To Make a Murderer, Twinsters, Jumbo Wild

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Review: Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Mascara

I pretty much don't ever repurchase makeup products unless it's foundation or eyebrow products. But once I tried this mascara maybe six months ago or so, there's been no going back so I thought it was about time I wrote a review. I'm talking about the Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir mascara, which is in my opinion fairly expensive for a mascara but it is totally worth it. I believe it was Fleur de Force that I first heard talk about this mascara and usually I go drugstore with mascaras but her description of it completely swayed me.

The brush doesn't look like anything special (as they rarely do) but something about this mascara makes it so easy to quickly achieve thick, long and not-too-clumpy lashes. It doesn't smudge, flake or wear off across the duration of the day and it's super black.

My first tube began to dry out around the six month mark (bear in mind it was the only mascara I had been using, it wasn't on rotation so that's pretty good going) and I thought I would try a cheaper one just to see. I bought a Bourjois mascara and as soon as I tried it I was disappointed. It wasn't as black or volumizing and it took a good while to build it up until it looked just about okay. The next day I walked past a Sephora to be reunited with my one true mascara love. Without a doubt it is the best mascara I have ever tried. Bold statement, I know.

For some reason, the handle on this mascara also makes for a really good application. I find some mascara handles to be a bit slippy and I end up dropping the wand and making a mess. The Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir has a really good grip to it and the packaging is really beautiful.

I am wearing this mascara in all of my photos on Instagram from the last six months, my handle is @annieelizabethm.

You can buy it online from:
Sephora AU - $39 AUD
Sephora USA - $26 USD
John Lewis UK - £22

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