Interior Blog: The New House Update & Living Room Plans

At the end of October I finally became a homeowner.

After years and years of renting, wasting my money to line some strangers pocket, I'm finally lining my own!

To be honest, up until around 8 months ago I'd always written off the possibility of owning a home. I never dreamed that I would be able to do it alone. Yet here I am in my little two-bed semi-detached house, writing this blog post.

I'll do a further blog post with the buying process and just how I afforded it at a later date. But if you are, like me, thinking that you can't buy a home alone on an average salary, with a small deposit then honestly, just go in to your bank and have a chat with the mortgage adviser to realistically see if it is possible. I was surprised when I found out it was.

Needless to say, with the small budget to buy has come the even smaller budget to decorate. And when I say budget, I mean non-existent pot of money which I'm scrimping about with.

The Living Room Revamp

One of the considerations when browsing houses was the immediate decorating that needed to be done. Luckily the carpet in my house is really good quality and not that old. Apart from in the living room I've kept all the old owners flooring.

The reason I wanted laminate flooring in my living room was simple due to the cats. With the both prone to shedding fur, I needed to ensure it was pretty low maintenance in there. If you own cats, particularly ones that are fluffy like Stevie, then you will know how much the fur literally clumps into the carpet!

I chose grey laminate flooring just because it was a little different and with it being a small space I wanted light and neutral colours to open it up. I want to keep everything as light and airy as possible to try and encourage me to be a little bit tidier than I usually am.

The grey laminate I got was from Wickes and cost me around £160 just for the packs of the laminate. It's amazing how quickly the costs add up though. Not only did I need to get the underlay, which was an additional £40, but then I also needed the moulding to go around the edge (which ended up about another £30).

With the floor done, I also needed to update the wallpaper. Luckily I found a discount wallpaper shop in Crewe. 

After an afternoon browsing all the different options, I went for a multi-toned grey and white branch design. Even though it isn't my first choice when it came to the living room wallpaper, I wanted something that was more longterm, rather than trend-driven.

Finishing Touches

The main expense was the floor and the wallpaper, but to finish the room off, I needed some other simple ways to make everything 'fit'.

My Ikea sofa was red corduroy in a previous life but then I discovered you can actually buy new covers for them pretty cheaply! Well, depending on the colour. The beige one I've ended up with was around £50, but the grey one I wanted was almost £100! This one will *do* in the meantime and definitely more fitting than the red one.

All is not lost with my hopes of the grey seating though. I was sent this amazing grey feature chair from Lakeland Furniture recently and it's so perfect for the living room, and I'm glad I didn't go with my original plan of popping it in the spare room!

It's not just me that loves it though and the cats are very partial to having a lovely snooze on it, so putting it in the spare room (which they are banned from) would have been a complete waste anyway....

And finally, a few fleecy blankets are always the perfect addition to any room. In-keeping with the neutral theme, I picked up the beige one from Primark for around £4 and the grey one, which is the softest fleece ever, was from TJ Hughes. See more about that in this post here.

Next I'll be conquering the bedroom. Stay tuned to see how that works out.

Beauty Blog: Is Olaplex Any Good?

olaplex review

What is Olaplex?

Olaplex is a hair 'bonding' product, that helps to maintain and repair hair, which has been damaged from chemical processing. Suitable for coloured, highlighted and permed hair, Olaplex is positioned as an innovation in hair care and can rebuild the strength of the hair from within.

How does Olaplex Work?

With 3 steps, Olaplex is initially used in the colouring process at the hairdressers. When I had my hair dyed at Toni and Guy a few years ago, they used Olaplex in the bleach and it helped to prevent as much damage and ultimately meant I had less breakage during the bleaching process. If you're having your hair dyed at the salon they usually add this for an additional price of around £5-£10 to your colour.

You can also get Olaplex 3 (pictured) for use at home. This is used once a week and as a pre-shampoo treatment. 

Is Olaplex any good?

The thing to remember about Olaplex is that it's not a traditional conditioner. You won't have immediately shinier hair, but you will notice less breakage and stronger hair over time. I'm one of those people who loves immediate results and after the first few uses, there was nothing to note. However, after around 6 weeks I am noticing less breakage, on my dry, brittle, over-processed hair.

It doesn't come cheap for the at-home Olaplex 3 treatment. I got this bottle of Olaplex from Notino for around £20. If you are suffering from really damaged hair it is worth the investment, but as mentioned, don't expect immediate mermaid hair as that's not the idea of the product and it doesn't work like that. 

I have seen a noticeable difference on my extensions though, and the dryness I was experiencing after around 3 weeks of wear with them has *almost* been reversed.

Worth Noting....

There are a lot of brands bringing out products which are claiming to be the same kind of thing as Olaplex. I recently picked up a shampoo and conditioner from a brand called 'SYOSS' in Tesco and each product cost £2. 

After researching the ingredients when getting home, it turns out these SYOSS versions are just full of silicones, which gives your hair a glossy feeling. This isn't the same as Olaplex, which repairs from within. Silicone coats your hair and these SYOSS ones appear no different or better than Pantene shampoo and conditioner.

Whilst you might like the result, the long-term benefits cannot be likened to Olapex.

Just sayin'

If you want to give the real Olaplex a whirl though, head to Notino to discover more.

Food Blog: The BEST Italian in Birmingham

This isn't the first time I'm writing about The Restaurant at Broadway Casino.... and since the first blog post featuring this hidden treasure, I've been back twice since.

After visiting again last weekend, I simply cannot fault the service and quality they provide. I've mentioned before that I used to really avoid Italian restaurants, as I always thought the food was a bit... meh. But that was when I was uneducated with regards to what Italian food actually was, due to only experiencing the big chain establishments in the past.

The Restaurant in Broadway Casino is not only independent, but also provides an authentic Italian experience of hospitality from start to finish. With Italian chefs in the kitchen, and what is seemingly a full team of Italians fronting the waiting on staff. With our 'host with the most' Roberto, once again, providing a full explanation and background of the menu, complete with perfect recommendations for wine to compliment the food.  

Despite trying a few things on the menu now, my favourite will also be the Goats Cheese Salad for starter and fillet steak for main. 

The main reason I enjoy the Goats Cheese Salad is due to the 'salad' part simply being a few leaves to compliment the MASSIVE round of goats cheese on the plate. Teamed with caramelized walnuts, prepared to the chefs top secret recipe, I could eat plate after plate of this dish! Even writing about it is making me crave it again.

On this visit, I also tried the vegetarian cannelloni, which was the creamiest, most satisfying dish I've had for a while and the perfect comfort food the season. I love how the pasta was the perfect amount of bite, which can be quite hard to achieve in a baked dish. With a range of texture and flavours, it was the perfect option for meat-free diners.

As mentioned, I simply love the fillet steak for main. Served rare, with peppercorn sauce - how can you go wrong? 

Unfortunately, they're taking it off the menu soon though, which is an utter shame. I know I'm saying this place is my favourite Italian, ever. But can you really have an Italian restaurant without fillet steak?! I can only hope that this is a seasonal move to make way for the Christmas menu and it will be back in the new year.

And speaking of Christmas, I'm already planning my next trip to Birmingham to experience some of the delights on the festive menu....

You can find Broadway Casino tucked down at the bottom of Broad Street in Birmingham. Yes, it's off the beaten track from the city centre, but it's also worth the jaunt. Especially for lovers of authentic Italian food.

Black Friday Deals from Notino

As mentioned in previous beauty blog posts with Notino, I've started a monthly partnership with them where I get to choose some products to review for the month.

That wasn't enough for me though, and I seem to have ordered a bit of a haul from them in the interim before my next months allowance. Whoops.

Anyway, before I blog about the beauty swag I've picked up (as I'm still wading my way through some of it) here are some Black Friday deals from Notino.... Because sharing is caring and it also helps to detract me from buying all the make up myself if other people buy the bargains before I do.

Black Friday Beauty from Notino

  • Free delivery for orders over £35
  • Free Makeup Revolution mystery package when you spend over £25 on Make Up Rev
  • 25% off on selected brands (Such as Foreo, Babyliss, Rowenta and Remington) 
  • Fragrances have up to 45% Off 
  • And there's a load of beauty and cosmetics discounts of up to 60% off

Check out the Black Friday deals at Notino by clicking here:

You can find out more about Notino in my previous post here.

Food Blog: 1847 Vegetarian Restaurant Birmingham

1847 restaurant birmingham

When one of my friends recently told me that they'd gone vegetarian, I'm not gonna lie - I was disappointed.

Not because I have anything against vegetarianism as a choice.

But because they're one of those friends you always tend to go for food with and I felt like this would really limit out culinary choices.

After 6 months of the transition though, I must admit, it's not that bad. I mean, we've eaten at various places with mixed success... Some places have limited choices of great quality and other places can have a plethora of choices with 'meh' quality. Until this weekend we hadn't been to an exclusively meat-free restaurant and with previous experiences of the choices on offer in regular restaurants I wasn't quite sure what to expect!

menu at 147 birmingham

1847 - The Meat Free Restaurant Choice in Birmingham

When I first browsed the menu at 1847 it left a lot of mystery I must admit. The dishes are presented almost in the form of listed ingredients for what goes on to the plate. 

For example, on the starters menu you have choices such as:

Beetroot / Basil Emulsion / Leek / Pickle / Beetroot Powder
Chicory / Stilton / Apple / Walnut 

But obviously. I'm going to assume they were salads....

As I was feeling a little delicate from the evening before, we chose to go straight in to the main courses (After beginning with a coffee, which I must say - the latte was one of the smoothest and most delicious latte's I've had for a good while!)

Battered Halloumi or Tofu / Curried Vegan Mayo / Gherkin / Lemon / Triple Cooked Chips is pretty much what it says on the tin. It's almost like a posh mega-twist on fish and chips. 

The battered halloumi was deep fried to perfection, whilst the chips were endlessly moreish. Despite the smaller portion size, the flavours of the curried mayo, with the gherkin and zesty lemon was the perfect compliment to the creaminess of the halloumi and crunch of the chips.

The second main was Confit Beef Tomatoes / Red Pepper Jus / Pickled Courgette / Smoked Aubergine / Crispy Potatoes, which we chose simply out of intrigue. For some reason in my head, it was a pasta dish, but that was just me assuming things and plucking ideas out of thin air! 

main course vegetarian restaurant birmingham

What we were presented with was the juiciest tomato to ever grace my lips, alongside a really moreish red pepper sauce. I must admit, the smoked aubergine wasn't my thing, as it was pureed and the grey appearance just didn't quite.... look right? And we do eat with our eyes after all. 

The flavours of the rest of the dish were perfect though. Fresh, creamy, tangy and juicy. All in one. As it was a saucy dish, I probably could have done with... 2 more crispy potatoes on the side to mop up the deliciousness.

Overall 1847 in Birmingham is great to cater for vegetarians who love to let the flavours do the talking. However, the portion sizes would benefit from being a little larger for me personally. As it's £17 for two courses, it's definitely more of a 'treat' lunch than your average lunch choices.

So, have I changed my attitude when it comes to eating vegetarian when out and about? Definitely.

I thought it would limit my choices, but a lot of places cater for vegetarians and with the on-going trend of niche vegan and vegetarian restaurants popping up everywhere it might not actually be long until I do a brief spell of meatlessness myself! 

(I say that now, but as soon as I write my next food blog post featuring a lovely steak, I might take that back)

Beauty Blog: Are Dermacol Products Any Good and Can it Cover Tattoos?

Dermacol is a brand that has been doing the cult beauty rounds for a while now.

Praised for their infamous full coverage foundationDermacol gets mentioned online a lot. Particularly on blogs, YouTube and online forums such as a Facebook group, I'm a member of called 'Mrs Gloss and the Goss.'

But does the Dermacol Foundation live up to the hype? 

I recently received three items from Dermacol in my Notino haul. Including the coveted foundation. I was really excited to try this after reading so much about it. 

Online you do tend to find mixed reviews, which already gave me the impression that it wasn't a product for everyone. A lot of people compare it to EsteĆ© Lauder Double Wear, which is actually one of those foundations I just cannot get on with. 

The reason I don't like Double Wear is that it dries so cakey on me and seems ever so drying.

Whereas the first noticeable difference with the Dermacol foundation is that it doesn't seem to dry matte and retains a slightly oily finish. 

When I say oily, don't get me wrong, you don't look like a grease ball. It's kind of hard to explain. It's almost like a slicker dewy finish? But not in an awful way. A quick dab of powder soon sorts that out anyway though.

It is worth noting that you'll want to finish with a setting powder whether you like the dewy finish or not though, as this foundation does tend to transfer a lot, even when 'set'. 

With the above in mind, I cannot fault the overall finish and ease of use though. I mean, a little goes a long way.... We're talking less than a 5pence piece worth of product is ample to blend over your whole face. And it's amazing that such a small amount actually gives such a heavy, flawless finish.

You have to be careful with the amount you use though and ensure you add in contour, blush and the whole shebang, otherwise, the coverage is so heavy that you do end up having a bit of a mask effect if used alone.

Does Dermacol cover tattoos?

A lot of people praise Dermacol for covering tattoos as well. As you can see from the swatches, you can get a good coverage on tattoos, but once again you do need to set with a powder to ensure a better finish. This also means that it would be great for covering acne scarring or micro pigmentation.

The swatches below show a very rough blending of Dermacol with a beauty blender sponge, on top of a tattoo which is approximately 15 years old, with no setting powder:

Would I recommend the Dermacol Foundation? Yes - especially for nights out. And it's great to use daily if you mix a small amount with your regular foundation for added coverage. If only for the addition of SPF30 if your regular foundation has no SPF in!

If you like the sound of it, you'll also enjoy the fact that it's only £8.20.

The Dermacol Primer

Dermacol also do a range of other products, but with not as much hype around them as the foundation. They do a whole host of different products, not only make up! There's even bath and body stuff. All for a super affordable price.

Alongside the foundation, I picked up the Dermacol Pearl Energy Primer. This tiny bottle packs a punch, with a formula containing pearl extracts and a smooth finish for your make up.

I was a little surprised at the size of the bottle versus the price, when compared to other Dermacol products. You only get a 15ml bottle for around £10.

After using it a few times now, I've found that the smaller amount of the product actually gives better results for the day ahead though.

At first I used two full pumps and the make up kind of slid off my face.

After playing around I've found that using half a pump is enough to cover the surface of my face and doesn't have the slightly greasy finish. It also helped my foundation apply a lot better and blend more consistently, alongside helping it last a lot longer throughout the day.

So overall I can't wait to get my hands on some more products from the range.

You can browse online at Notino here (and if you have any more suggestions for products to try let me know on Twitter! @helloterrilowe)

About Hello Terri Lowe

A UK Lifestyle, Food, Beauty and Music Blog, based in Staffordshire, you can also expect to see reviews of places around the country. Often spotted Manchester or Birmingham at the weekends, you can expect to see a little bit of everything from festivals to food and everything in-between. When not blogging, you can find me having a nice sit down with my cats, Stevie and Kitty, or enjoying a fine cup of coffee. Don't forget to take a look at my 'about' page if you're interested in collaborating on any exciting opportunities!

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