Sumo San, Sheffield

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Sheffield is a city I definitely want to explore more. I've visited on a handful of occasions and there's a buzz about it that really attracts me. The problem I've had in recent years is that every time I think about going to Sheffield, I end up in Meadowhall shopping centre instead. I don't know how this happens but it just does. Anyway, last week my husband and I decided we were craving some Asian food, so we ventured into the city in the evening to try a Japanese restaurant called Sumo San.

Sumo San, Sheffield

Sumo San, Sheffield

I loved the décor of this place - it's very chic in an understated sort of way. The vibe was friendly and relaxed, with lots of people coming in and out all the time, some to grab a takeaway, others lingering over several courses for hours. It's the sort of place where you can go all dressed up or just drop in after a day of shopping and feel equally at home, which I love. We were a little early for our table, so we sat at the bar and ordered a cocktail each. We both chose the non-alcoholic Tokyo Sunrise, made from grenadine and a mixture of fruit juices. It tasted every bit as amazing as it looked.

Tokyo Sunrise cocktail at Sumo San, Sheffield

After a little while, we were shown to our table, and it was time to get down to the serious business of choosing our food.

Sumo San, Sheffield

#ootd Sumo San, Sheffield

Important decisions must be fuelled by wine. Obviously.

The menu was extensive, so we enlisted the help of the staff to make recommendations for us, which they were very happy to do. They really could not have been kinder, and the friendly welcome they gave us definitely enhanced our dining experience.

We started with a huge selection of sushi to share between the two of us. This was wonderful and beautifully fresh, and we loved it both on its own and with the wasabi and soy sauce provided. My favourites were the salmon and the tuna - I know that's boring, but what can I say, they tasted amazing and you can't beat the classics! There's also something lovely about picking at lots of different little things from a shared dish. I have always loved this way of eating, and sushi, of course, lends itself perfectly to this.

Sushi at Sumo San, Sheffield

After we'd worked our way through this lovely lot, we decided to choose a main dish each. I went for Beef Cha Han, an egg fried rice with shredded beef, green peppers, onions and carrots.

Beef Cha Han at Sumo San, Sheffield

Mike chose Sumo San fried noodles, with scallops, prawns, salmon, squid tubes and tobiko (flying fish roe in case you didn't know - I didn't!)

Sumo San fried noodles at Sumo San, Sheffield

Both these dishes were very tasty. The beef had a beautiful charcoal flavour and I would have liked more of it and perhaps a little less rice. (There was a LOT of rice!) While we did thoroughly enjoy everything we had to eat, the highlight for both of us was definitely the sushi. Another time, I think we might order just one rice or noodle dish between us, and experiment a little more with the different kinds of sushi, sashimi, grilled skewers, etc., as these seemed to be the real specialities on the menu. All in all I think it's fairly safe to say we will be going back!

I wore the dress and heels that I featured in my March Favourites post, with a black coat and bag from Zara. I prefer to get outfit pictures "in situ" where I can, but I didn't manage it this time, so I hope you'll forgive the spectacularly dull background. Welcome to my hall, everyone!

#ootn featuring Zara, H&M and Topshop

#ootn featuring Zara, H&M and Topshop

Dress - H&M, Coat, bag - Zara, Shoes - Topshop 

Who else is a fan of Japanese food? Bonus points to anyone who's dined at Sumo San!

Kate x
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Summertime Blues

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Ok, so it's not quite summertime just yet. But we've been having a lot of sunshine lately, and it's got me dreaming of holidays by the sea. I always find I'm more likely to wear colourful eye makeup if I'm in that sort of environment, and when I saw a feature on blue eye looks in Look magazine a few weeks ago, it really inspired me.

Now I'm the first to admit that I'm not the most skilled when it comes to applying eye makeup, but I had some blue shadows lying around and I thought it might be fun to experiment. Anyone could do this really, and probably a lot better than me, but the spirit of this post is, let's play with colours we don't usually use on our eyes and see what happens!

Blue Eyeshadow Look with Lancome Palette

I started by applying Urban Decay Anti Aging Primer Potion all over my lids. This stuff is amazing and really enhances the quality of the shadows you apply over the top. The advantage  of the anti aging version, (other than the wrinkle-smoothing benefits), is that it's slightly tinted, blurring away any imperfections such as noticeable veins.
 
I then used Lancôme's Ombre Absolue palette in Parures d'Etoiles. I've had this quad for a while and can't find it anywhere to buy online, but any combination of similar blues would work if you wanted to create a look like this. The mid blue shade (bottom left) is the main one I used. I worked it all over my lids and under my lower lash line, before adding the darkest shade for more intensity on the lids. I used the silvery blue (top right) in my inner corners.
 
Next, I lined my water line with Lancôme's Le Crayon Khol in the shade Curacao. Again, I don't think this is available any longer, but any turquoise liner would do. I added some lashes (Eylure 143's cut in half, an idea shamelessly stolen from my favourite blogger, Laura from Buy Now Blog Later) and a sweep of L'Oreal's Volume Million Lashes mascara and that's pretty much it. 

#fotd - Summertime Blues
 
#fotd - Summertime Blues

Try as I might, I couldn't really do justice to the turquoise liner in the photos (#bloggerfail). In real life it was more vibrant and formed a nice contrast with the blue shadows. I guess you'll either have to take my word for it or try it yourself and see! I really liked the finished look, and would definitely wear it on holiday to go out in the evenings. With the eyes making such a statement, I kept the rest of my makeup really simple. Just Revlon ColorStay foundation, Maybelline's Tantalizing Taupe on my lips, Benefit Dallas bronzer and a slick of Watt's Up at the top of my cheekbones.

Are you a fan of blue eyeshadows? And who else gets more adventurous with their makeup on holiday?

Kate x
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Giveaway Winner

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Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream Gift Set

A very quick post today just to announce that the winner of my Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream giveaway is... (drumroll)... November Girl! Congratulations to you! I will be contacting you via Twitter shortly.

Thanks so much to everyone who entered, and to everyone who has supported this blog over the past year. It really means so much to me. Hopefully it will continue for many years to come and there will be lots more giveaways!

I'll be back with a regular post soon. In the meantime I wish you all a wonderful weekend!

Kate x
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A Flying Visit To The Yorkshire Sculpture Park

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Now we're living in Yorkshire, my husband and I have a long list of new places we want to visit, and as well as broadening our own horizons, I'm excited to blog about them for you. This weekend we decided to explore the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, but I'm afraid the in-depth look at it I was hoping to post just ain't gonna happen. Let's just call this a tantalising taste of the Sculpture Park.

H&M hat and River Island sunglasses

Hat - H&M, Sunglasses - River Island

I set my expectations sky-high. I had visions of artistic photos of all the sculptures, me floating around them in a pretty dress in the type of post worthy of Rosie from The Londoner (one of my favourite blogs). Unfortunately, I need to file this particular offering in the category entitled "Things That Never Happen To Rosie", because I hadn't banked on an arctic gale blowing across the countryside, making it seriously unpleasant to be outdoors in anything less than full winter gear.

I had already abandoned the dress idea for jeans and a coat. You would think that would be enough in April, wouldn't you? Apparently not. And yes, we all know I am a wimp when it comes to the cold, but even Mike was suffering, so it was officially FREEZING. The result was that we only got to see a very small area of the park before having to take refuge in the gift shop and ultimately head for home and a nice warming cup of tea.

I know. What a couple of babies!

It all began so promisingly. The sun was shining, and we arrived at the park just in time for lunch.

Greek mezze board at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park
 
I don't normally like the food served at places like this, but this Greek mezze board was lovely. We had grilled halloumi, salad, vine leaves, flat bread and dips. We also ordered a side dish of crispy chips, which went down so quickly they were gone before I even thought about photographing them. Sitting outside on a sheltered balcony, we were just about warm enough, and I thoroughly enjoyed sipping my hot chocolate and gazing out at the view. (Yes, I sometimes have hot chocolate with savoury food. Please comment below if other people do this or if it's just weird. I need to know.)

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park
 
Taking in the view at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Once we had finished eating, we ventured out into the open. This place really is beautiful to look at. Developed in the grounds of the Bretton Estate, which has been in existence for centuries, the Sculpture Park was established in 1977 and continues to develop, with different artists contributing pieces all the time. Many of these are huge, strange-looking things, all unexpected angles and curves. To see them set amongst this vast landscape (much of it man-made, but designed to look as natural as possible) makes them even more striking than they would be in a museum or gallery.

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park
 
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park
 
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park
 
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park
 
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park
 
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park
 
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Spot which of the above is not actually a sculpture!

My favourite piece (of the few we managed to see) was this Iron Tree in the grounds of the Chapel. It's by Ai Weiwei and is made from many parts of different trees that have been cast in iron and joined together. As the iron rusts over time, it is always subtly changing, like a real tree. I loved it.

Chapel at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park
 
The Iron Tree by Ai Weiwei at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park
 
The Iron Tree by Ai Weiwei at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park
 
The Iron Tree by Ai Weiwei at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park
 
As well as not being warm enough, my outfit was very simple. I've featured this pink coat on the blog before, and I'm amazed how much wear I've got out of it. I've removed the fur collar to make it more spring-like, and added jeans, plimsolls and a white jumper.


OOTD - Zara Coat, Topshop Jeans

OOTD - Zara Coat

OOTD featuring Zara, Topshop, H&M and River Island

OOTD featuring Zara, Topshop, H&M and River Island

Coat - Zara, Jeans - Topshop, Jumper, plimsolls and bag - H&M
 
I definitely want to go back to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park sometime soon. Preferably when it's warm! Has anybody been? And do you like places like this in general?
 
Kate x
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Are You Risking Your Life When You Colour Your Hair?

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Well, that's a dramatic title, isn't it? Apologies if it sounds a little over the top, but this is a subject I feel strongly about. Hair dye allergies are rare, but they can be serious, and in at least two cases I've seen documented in the news, they have proved fatal. Given that several hairdressers I have spoken to don't seem to know anything about this issue, it seems to me that there just isn't enough awareness regarding the potential dangers of those innocent-looking boxes on the drugstore shelves. Perhaps you don't colour your hair. Perhaps you have done so many times without problems and religiously do the 48 hour patch test before every application. If that's the case, you probably won't be interested in this post. However, if you've ever experienced an adverse reaction to a colourant, or if you've ever skipped a patch test, then please read this. I'm allergic to hair dye, and recently I had an experience that brought home to me just how serious this allergy is. I've also done a fair amount of research into the issue, and if I can help even one person by sharing what I've learned, then I figure that's worth doing.

If you've ever applied a hair dye (or a patch test for a hair dye) and experienced any itching, blistering or swelling as a result, then chances are that you're allergic to PPD, like me. PPD (or p-Phenylenediamine) is the active ingredient in hair dye. Basically, it's the chemical that actually lays the colour down in your hair. It's also present in toners, which hairdressers use after bleaching to achieve the desired shade of blond, and, as I learned to my cost very recently, it's present in eyebrow tints as well.

The other day, I was foolish enough to allow a beautician to apply a tint to my brows after waxing them, without having a patch test first. I should have known better, as I'm all too well aware of what happens to me on contact with hair dye, but because the tint would be on my brows for no longer than two minutes, I thought I would be OK. I wasn't. I woke up the next morning with my brows itching like mad and my entire eye area swollen and sore. I took antihistamines and applied ice packs, but I was still in considerable discomfort for a good three days, not to mention that I had to walk around town looking like the creature from the black lagoon. You can see in the photo that I look quite red and swollen around the eyes. In fact, I looked worse in real life than I've managed to capture on camera.

Effects of allergy to PPD found in hair dye

This experience reminded me just how unpleasant an allergic reaction can be, but also, more importantly, that it really isn't worth taking a chance on. I thought that any reaction I might have would be lessened by the fact that this was an eyebrow tint, to be applied to a much smaller surface area for a shorter amount of time than a hair dye. In fact, it was the strongest reaction I have ever experienced. So if you're thinking of colouring your hair (or indeed your eyebrows), please, please, please do the 48 hour patch test first. Even if you've coloured your hair many times before, allergies can develop at any time and repeated exposure, as I now know only too well, can make the reaction worse. 
 
It's also worth noting that what I have just been through is still relatively mild. More extreme reactions can involve becoming cross-sensitised to related chemicals found in other products - I've read about people who can no longer use lipstick or deodorant, for example - right up to being rushed to hospital because the swelling has affected your ability to breathe. And, as I have mentioned before, there have been fatalities (see an article about one here). Basically, if this stuff causes you any sort of irritation, however mild, then I would urge you to avoid it from now on, because nothing is worth the risk of it escalating to this point. I have already resigned myself to never dyeing my hair again. Needless to say, I won't be having any more eyebrow tints either.

On a more positive note, there are still ways to change your hair colour without having to go near PPD. Choices are more limited, but it's possible. Holland and Barratt do a range of semi-permanent colourants that are PPD free. They won't cover greys, but they will give a subtle colour change that washes out in a few weeks. I have tried one of these in the past and it left my hair shiny and smooth. Check them out here. I believe that Clairol also do a range like this, though I haven't tried it. If you have grey hairs that you want to disguise, like me, your best bet is highlights. Bleaching hair is a completely different chemical process from dyeing it, so you don't have to worry about PPD, and the resulting mix of shades masks greys very effectively. You won't be able to use a toner, but different shades of blond can be achieved by varying the length of time the bleach is left on the hair. For a long time I used to do my own highlights, and I wrote a whole post on that here if you're interested. Recently, however, I went to a salon to have it done. This photo was taken later that day. You can see a nice caramel/honey shade has been achieved without the use of toners.

Highlights achieved with bleach only - no toners, no PPD

I hope this post has been useful. If there is anything I have missed that you would like to know, please ask, and I will do my best to answer. Alternatively, if you know more than I do on this subject, please feel free to add anything you think is relevant or correct me if I've got anything wrong. As I said at the beginning, most people will never have a problem with this, but those of us who do really need to be aware of what we're dealing with.

Finally, if you're concerned that you might have had an allergic reaction or you're really not sure, I would strongly advise you to seek medical advice. A doctor should be able to identify the symptoms and confirm the cause, as well as offer the best advice on how to treat it.

Kate x
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