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Crayola x Clinique

February 20th, 2017

From the moment I first saw these Crayola x Clinique Chubby Sticks on the US website I was in love! I immediately headed over to the Debenhams counter on my lunch to see if they’d come out yet. Unfortunately not, so I kept an eye out for when they headed over to our side of the pond.

clinique crayola
From the moment I first saw these Crayola x Clinique Chubby Sticks on the US website I was in love! I immediately headed over to the Debenhams counter on my lunch to see if they’d come out yet. Unfortunately not, so I kept an eye out for when they headed over to our side of the pond.


Then, when I saw the below Facebook post, it seem to good to miss! I already knew I was going to love Red Violet, Brick Red and Fuzzy Wuzzy.


Needless to say I hot-footed it down there on my lunch break on the relevant day and got myself a beautiful little illustration from Nikki Groom alongside the set of mini chubby sticks for £35 – which is ace as I can try them all out. I’ve even entered their colouring competition on Instagram where you can win a whole year’s worth!

A photo posted by Joanna Halton (@joannahalton) on


A photo posted by Joanna Halton (@joannahalton) on


SAD & Lumie Zest

January 10th, 2016

I’ve had SAD for a while. It’s never been officially diagnosed, but for as long as I can remember I’ve been happy, motivated and full of gumption over the summer and then struggled once the darker mornings and nights draw in.

It’s not something I like to admit, I see it as a bit of a weakness and to be fair, mine is milder than some of the cases I’ve read online. Generally, I manage to keep going, but the battle to remove myself from my duvet, stop eating everything in sight and constantly feeling tired and sluggish takes its toll. I can be grumpy, irritable and generally quite miserable after a while. I think the fact I’m more of an owl, doesn’t help and contributed to sleep issues.

This year I thought, “No more!’ and looked into ways to help me combat it. A while back I’d seen a ‘sunrise clock’ in Wired (or a similar publication), which apparently mimicked sunlight to help you gradually and (almost) naturally wake up, refreshed.

Having been brought up in a house with thick, sun-blocking curtains, I’ve never been able to sleep-in staying over in rooms which let in daylight. So, this sounded perfect. However, when I originally looked at this a few years back it seemed prohibitively expensive and my salary at the time wouldn’t stretch to it. Luckily, times have changed.

Lumie has been designing SAD lights to treat seasonal affective disorder since 1991 and supplies to the NHS. They invented the much-imitated Bodyclock wake-up light, which I recognised as being the lamp I had seen all those years ago. I felt like was in safe hands when I got in touch and explained my situation and they recommended Lumie Zest.

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It’s a combination wake-up light and also provides bright light therapy. A 2-in-1 essentially. It arrived and at first I wasn’t really sure what to do with it. I was a little bit dubious, but eager, so after reading the instructions I popped it on the table and decided to do a 20 minute light therapy session. Firstly, it’s bright. It sounds obvious, but it really is – you don’t look at it directly, more bask in it while you go about your normal daily tasks. Allowing your eyes to soak up the rays in your peripheral vision. I don’t know whether it was psychosomatic, but I did genuinely feel more alert and awake. Some forums or review sites report that you can experience headaches or feel sick after using it, but I felt absolutely fine, so don’t expect to feel unwell – you’ll probably think yourself into it!

The light originally arrived back towards the end of October and I was recommended to use it 2-3 weeks to feel benefit. However, for transparency, during this time, from the second week of November, I did have two weeks in Mexico and Cuba which was, as you can imagine, pretty sunny! That said, I’ve purposefully used it for longer than the recommended period and during darker months to be able to give a fairer assessment.

My findings are as follows:

  • * I use it for an alarm every day now. It has the wake-up light which gradually builds to full brightness over 30 mins (or a time of your choosing) and a beeping noise. I have both on and wouldn’t trust the light on it’s own. It’s not fool/Jo proof, I have been known (once or twice) to snooze/turn off the beeper and roll over from the light, but the vast majority of times it gets me out of bed and I feel fresher than I would with just my phone.
  • * I genuinely do think the light therapy helps me. I find it most useful to leave the light on after the wake-up sequence and have it glowing over me as I get ready. It makes me feel A LOT more alert than just the phone alarm and I feel very much more set up for the day.
  • * I like it and would recommend it. I was pleasantly surprised how much of a difference it made to my mornings. Even my other half, who is SAD-free prefers to have it set as an alarm.

Does it still require some will power to get out of bed? Yes. Of course, everyone wants to stay in bed. Even if they don’t have SAD.

Does it make it easier? Definitely, for me at least. The light can give me a much needed mood boost and makes me feel more prepared for the day.

Lumie Zest is also more functional than a lot of the other wake-up lights and light therapy products I’ve seen. It’s compact, light-weight and has a stand which can detach and fit within the main unit for travel. It also has the benefit of providing both the alarm and light therapy in one unit.


Lumie Zest has become a trusted friend when I know I have to be up. I no longer really use my phone, only when I have super special engagement or need to be up mega early, but that’s more to do with my own paranoia. Lumie Zest has never let me down so far. A testament to this is that I actually took it with me when I had to travel away from home for a few nights on business! Here she is in my hotel room:


My only bug bear is that it has to be plugged in and if you have to remove it from the plug for any length of time, then the clock has to be reset – but this minor and I can understand how the light requires that much power.

Overall, if you’re suffering as I was and you have the money to do so, I would recommend it. If you’re a diagnosed SAD sufferer then you get VAT relief when buying in the UK/EU for personal use – which could be a help with the cost.

Full Disclosure: Lumie provided me with a Lumie Zest to review, but this has not influenced my views or editorial in any way.


So a little while a go, I received and invite, it read:

“Calling all Manchester #CityExperts , foodies and science fans… you’re invited to join us for an experimental evening of food, drink and fun to celebrate the Manchester Science Festival.

You’ll have the chance to sample edible treats served in petri dishes, learn about molecular mixology whilst sipping on interactive cocktails and tuck into liquid nitrogen ice cream and edible mist.

What’s more, we’ll have world-renowned psychologist, Professor Charles Spence on hand to teach us about the multisensory science behind eating out. Come along to meet him and take part in his interactive foodie experiments.”


I took along the other half to the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) and we had lots of fun. There was a edible mist which you had to suck through a straw (from what looked like a small, illuminated space ship – top photo!), little Google coloured dots (you had to bite into them to reveal the taste within), various pipette/beaker/petri dish delicacies AND a steampunk ice cream maker, complete with edible white chocolate cups!!

They had a scrumptious cookie and salted caramel ice cream and a rather more adventurous port and stilton….that was an experience.

The talk by Professor Charles Spence was really interesting – apparently in the future virtual sushi may be a thing!

I also really enjoyed the talk and interactive cocktails by two mixologists who spoke about the science behind creating tasty drinks. At this stage they brought out a very bitter and sour grape fruit mix in a beaker with a smaller cup of salt water. Fascinatingly, the concoction was much sweeter and palatable once they were mix together – apparently as the salt water brought out the sweeter flavours.

All in all it was another cracker from the Google City Experts event team.

You can see other photos and more information about the event and how to become a Google #CityExpert here.






















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Back in November I was lucky enough to be invited along to the launch party of the Baltic Cellar with a couple of friends. The invite promised a night of fire, vodka and various grilled Baltic delicacies – how could I refuse?!

Baltic Cellar

I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t really sure what to expect so I checked out their website. Any apprehension I might have had was allayed by the following description: ”Where traditional Baltic, Polish and Russian food is hand-crafted to your plate. We bring the essence of the Baltics to Manchester, with our traditional shashlik grill, warm interior and friendly staff. We hope you enjoy.”

On arrival at the event we were met with glasses of bubbly and a contortionist who performed a, quite frankly, unbelievable routine.


Next we were seated and provided with a fantastic looking starter platter of different meats, some fruity shots and an entire bottle of vodka! We truly were being spoilt and the menu seemed to suggest that more treats were in store.

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On to the main course and we had an array of grilled fish, a platter of each of the main courses and the most scrummy chicken shashlik. The chicken along with the Beef Stroganof was probably my favourite, but to be fair it as all amazing!!


The pudding platter was a another triumph – apologies for the photo missing a couple – we couldn’t wait to tuck in! If you do go, I’d highly recommend you try the traditional honey cake, it was absolutely gorgeous.


As the courses came out, we were informed that it’s traditional to complete each course with a shot. There was lots of drinking theatre including a vodka birdhouse you had to knock on to get a drink, a pyramid of luminous shots, flaming shots and a glass AK-47 filled with vodka! It was lots of fun and we were very merry by the final course :)



All in all it was a fantastic night, brilliant food, fabulous hosting and something a bit different than the usual. I’d definitely recommend you give it a try.

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