I was invited to a complimentary three-course meal on Saturday at eXchange Food & Drink Lounge, which is located in Novotel on Dickinson St. I took along my housemate Deborah as my +1 😉 she loves food just as much as I do!

We caught an Uber to the restaurant because it was raining, but you can easily get the bus or Metro into town and it’s only a short walk. It’s just off Portland Street, which has a lot of lovely bars and restaurants- a great selection of food and drink options if you are in town.

I didn’t get the name of the member of staff who initially served us, but he was really friendly and accommodating- showed us to our table and gave us excellent food and drink recommendations. Most of the people about were watching the Man U match that day and the bar was pretty busy, but it wasn’t a terribly long wait for food.

critiquesofacritic exchange food & drink lounge

We ordered three cocktails in total: a tequila-based cocktail for Deb and two gin ones for me that I really enjoyed. Ask for the Pink Lady! It’s delicious 🙂

I feel like the food portion will dominate most of the review so I must stress that the pictures honestly do not do them justice! I personally was very impressed by the drinks- they’ve got the balance of flavours right and I’ve not had nicer ones elsewhere!

The prices are pretty reasonable (around £7-8 for most cocktails) and I’ll definitely be back for more 😉 not sure if they do a happy hour promotion but that would be perfect.

critiquesofacritic exchange food & drink lounge, selfies

Exhibit A of why I am not a fashion blogger- I can’t pose to save my life. Deb was coaching me through poses and I couldn’t do any. Ah well.

critiquesofacritic exchange food & drink lounge

Food-wise, we picked out a few small plates, which are £5 individually and £12 for three.

Our choices: Salt & Pepper Calamari, Garlic Mushrooms with Parmesan Crust, Batter Halloumi Fingers, and the Superfood Salad. The staff member recommended the Chorizo and Potato and the Korean BBQ Wings, which we did order but never arrived.

We left it since we had enough food, but I do want to come back to try them next time!

The superfood salad was pretty different from generic salads- avocado, baby gem lettuce, beets, blueberries, seeds, sugar snap peas, quinoa- lives up to its name indeed! I didn’t expect to like it when it was recommended to us, but I really did.

I would suggest upsizing the salad if you are sharing it- it wasn’t quite enough for the both of us. Having it upsized to a main will be £10, which I’m not quite sure I’d get if I were eating out- but for the quality of ingredients in it I think it’s worth paying £5/10 for. I wouldn’t get the other salads here individually.

I really liked the calamari and the garlic mushrooms. The halloumi is nice but the batter was quite salty on top of the cheese and after it went cold it wasn’t very nice to eat. Get in there while it’s still hot, folks.

critiquesofacritic exchange food & drink lounge

We had a Florentine pizza as our main (£12). All the pizzas are 12-inch. It was a great pizza and I liked the egg in the centre (huge weakness for eggs here). It came hot and crispy and really filled us up! I think getting three small plates and a main will be a perfect amount of food for two people with large appetites, or you could get some add-on sides like chips or other finger food with a main.

I think we ate a lot 😳 there was a lady at the table behind us rolling her eyes and giving us very judgemental stares. Sorry lady, you must be jealous 😉

We had a really nice chat with Rich, the other staff member that served us- Deb picked up on his accent and asked if he was from the Philippines! I’m from Singapore, as you guys know, and Deb is from Malaysia. We’re all neighbours!

We talked about some of the hidden bars in Manchester and other potential haunts as well, and he told us a bit about his family and his time in the UK (over ten years!). I don’t really want to go into detail for his privacy but it was nice hearing him speak so fondly of his country and his experiences living here.

He tried to offer us more drinks and dessert but we felt like we had our fill and didn’t want to impose (ah, Asian mentality back again), so we hung about for a bit, chatting and taking a couple of pictures before leaving.

All in all, I think it was a really wonderful experience and if you’re lost with the amount of options available, just ask a member of staff for help. I think some dishes may be a bit pricier if you don’t purchase them in a set but I think you have to consider the location and convenience- the drink prices are reasonable and I’ll definitely be back for those.

Make a stop during your bar crawls- it’s a little off the long stretch on Portland Street, but well worth going! It’s open 24 hours which is a plus. Drop by anytime or ring them on 0161 235 2200 to book.

+ Bonus videos of us messing about with the Snow app, because there’s no such thing as too many pics. #awww

Hi guys! It’s been awhile since my last review- I’ve been busy with my move back to Manchester and sorting a couple of muck-ups with housing. It’s a long story, but basically I wasn’t sure for a week or two how the place I planned to move into was actually legal or allowed. Why do irresponsible people exist.

So… yeah. Big mess.

It’s all sorted now and by December renewing the housing agreement should be a lot smoother. Fingers crossed! Life update over, let’s head right into this review.

dr botanicals, japanese orange, facial serum, skincare

I signed up for the Dr Botanicals review program and received an invitation to review the Japanese Orange Revive & Firm Facial Serum. I just had to pay delivery, which you can redeem the value of in a voucher for your next order.

To be honest- I was a little skeptical of its claims. A lot of companies are promoting vegan/ cruelty-free skincare ranges now because consumers are now more conscious of the products they buy.

Don’t get me wrong- I think it’s a great example of consumers actively influencing company decisions for the better and i think it’s an excellent step forward for the beauty industry.

However, in many brands it’s simply used as a sort of marketing tactic given not all of their products adhere to this. But rest assured- all of Dr Botanicals’ products are strictly vegan.

And you know how people talk about their “holy grail product”?

This is it for me.

I’m not sure if this was the main purpose of the serum, but it cleared my skin up almost overnight. I was amazed. I’ve never had anything clear my skin up so quickly.

dr botanicals, japanese orange, facial serum, skincare

I was already really impressed with the Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin cream, which saved my skin from drying out on TWO long-ass flights (total travel time over 24 hours, you heard me- this is the long-distance life).

My skin was clearing up with the cream after a really bad case of hormonal acne, but with this serum, it worked beautifully underneath the cream and I actually had glowy skin.

The serum smells lovely and citrusy and is a tad bit sticky, which I don’t really notice since I go to bed immediately after that. I drip a few drops on my face directly (handy dropper tool keeps it hygienic!) and gently pat it in with my fingers.

dr botanicals, japanese orange, facial serum, skincare

You may not like it if you dislike strong scents. It seems a little strong for me upon first application, but fades after awhile. I have sensitive skin which flares up with some strong scented products but this doesn’t affect it at all which is great 🙂

I don’t even know how to describe how happy I am with this- I just paid for delivery on this one, but definitely going to repurchase when it runs out. Not sure if I’ll get the whole line, but I’ll look into it and possibly indulge myself for Christmas.

I’ve already caved and got myself the Ultra-Repair Overnight Regenerating Treatment (a night cream) during their sale, after reading lots of rave reviews about it. I’ve been conscious about my eye bags recently and I’m worried I’ll develop fine lines early, so I’ll see if this works for me like the serum did! I’ll probably review it another time.

You can try signing up for the review program too- I got my friend to try it out, but I’m not sure how they do selections- she never got an invite, but you can try your luck! I don’t think you need a good social media following or a blog 🙂

Here’s the link to the review program.

The issue of period poverty has been making waves in the media recently, after reports surfaced of schoolgirls in Leeds missing school because they could not afford sanitary products. One teenager told the BBC she taped toilet roll to her underwear and missed school “every month” because of her period.

Many families in the UK can barely manage to cover costs for food, bills and rent; and the monthly expense for sanitary products is an additional burden. Women who are homeless are most affected- they cannot afford to pay for these products, and they lack the amenities to change their pads or tampons, clean up any leakage, etc.

Periods are unfortunately still a taboo subject in society, despite media sites (Buzzfeed, Mic. AJ+) trying to norminalise talk about it. It is a crying shame that period poverty is still an issue in a first world country!

The Monthly Gift is a campaign started in July 2015 that aims to make sanitary products (tampons, pads, etc.) accessible to people who are homeless/ experiencing poverty. Donations are forwarded to charities and organisations helping people in need of such necessary (not luxury!) products.

It was initially designed to be a week of raising awareness, but two years on, it has gained overwhelming support and continues to grow and grow!

The Monthly Gift donates to local charities and food banks helping people experiencing poverty and you guys can get involved in these ways:

  1. Follow them on their social media pages- on Facebook, TwitterInstagram (@monthlygiftmcr)
  2. Hold your own collection and donate to your local charity! be sure to tag @monthlygiftmcr the picture. There are other campaigns that deal with period poverty as well: @HomelessPeriod_, @nomoretaboo, @FreetobeOK, @everymonthmcr, @CrimsonWaveOrg, @HPLiverpool, etc.
  3. If you live in or near Manchester, you can head over to Oklahoma in the Northern Quarter and TMG will help forward them to local charities on your behalf.
  4. Alternatively, you can donate to them via GoFundMe.

I really want to encourage people who are not based in Manchester to donate to their local charity or food bank too. Poverty is an issue everywhere and as long as there’s poverty in the world, there’s period poverty!

A pack of tampons or pads may not cost much to me or you, but to a girl experiencing period poverty, it could mean not being able to go to school for a week. Missing one week out of every four means they are placed at a disadvantage for their studies and it is crucial that we work together to help stop period poverty in the UK!

Periods may not be a pretty topic, but it is an important one. Every little action counts and we can help make a difference to people’s lives by working together 🙂

Eve xx

Here is my post about graduation…. two months late! (typical me!)

It’s been a long journey, but I’ve finally done it! I hate to be cliché, but let me just say life’s full of ups and downs- and if you get discouraged, there’ll always be another opportunity around the corner!

I didn’t do great for my A levels, and going into a course I liked locally was near impossible due to how competitive the arts and humanities were at NUS/NTU. Psychology is pretty much an AAA/A requirement and Journalism an AAA/B or AAB/B.

I was convinced I was good at science and math then and was too stubborn and prideful to switch when my grades started slipping early on. Everything was easy until junior college, since I never felt the need to study for anything except the bare minimum at exams.

I actually did well enough to feel like this state of things was sufficient and got really complacent ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ so obviously I did badly for A levels because there are so many subjects, you shouldn’t be messing around with that.

Back then I was too lazy and too proud to admit I was struggling.

Now, if you tell me I’m shit at maths, I will happily agree and go along with it as if it is something worth being proud about lol!

I think I’m becoming self-aware wow wow 😂 I shouldn’t feel proud of it like I do with all my other bad habits- messiness, laziness, chronic procrastination- and it will come back to bite me in the butt again like it did at A levels, but I don’t bother with all the what-ifs.

I don’t think I would have done it differently given my indifferent attitude towards studying for subjects that didn’t come to me easily.

I made my bed and I must lie in it, and I honestly applaud anyone who works hard enough to pull themselves out of a rut and go against all the people who doubt them.

But anyhow- I got onto the University of Salford through my aunt’s recommendation, my extra-curricular activities, and writing portfolio.

It wasn’t a highly-ranked university by any means, but the teaching was excellent. The lecturers were passionate about the subjects they taught, seminars were never just about them talking to a silent room. I enjoyed myself greatly and for the first time in years, genuinely enjoyed learning/ acquiring more knowledge in the subject.

My future ambitions have also shifted a little during the course of my university degree- I no longer wish to pursue journalism, but I am nevertheless glad I had the opportunity to learn about the processes involved.

Some of my coursemates and the other pure Journalism students got the chance to experience what a newsroom situation was like, which I’m slightly envious about. Ah well. I guess it’s not meant to be.

I start my MA in English Literature and American Studies at the University of Manchester this September, an opportunity I never thought I would have; and I am immensely grateful for everyone who has encouraged me to broaden my horizons and make that leap to an overseas university.

I’ve never been an independent person at all, but this made me grow up very quickly in some ways: I had to learn to cook, clean (arguably a feat that yet escapes me), navigate unfamiliar territories and get out of my cushy comfort zone.

housemates

I’ve met some amazing people along the way- my housemates, coursemates, and random friends I’ve picked up through the university/ my travels- something I would never have got with a local education, not to the same degree of immersion.

I was never the most confident person and hated inane small talk but now I could probably talk about anything under the sun and conjure up enthusiasm about a subject I know nothing about.
I think of it as a necessary part of Adulting™.

I thought of it as being “fake” but as my friend pointed out: by taking interest in things that people you care about, care about- it makes it a sweet gesture *mindblown*

There are other ways in which my worldview has changed while at university, and others reinforced, but we shall not go into detail about that at this point.

This has been an embarrassingly retrospective post, but it feels nice to get all my thoughts out there.

Until next time xx

  1. I was recently gifted this duo by my best friend, which she bought during her solo trip to South Korea. These can be bought as a set or on their own, and I’ve included a couple of links to sites where you can acquire them for yourself in this post.

These two products claim to help to improve the elasticity, radiance, and the moisture of your skin with egg white and yolk extracts-I used to use egg whites on my nose and cheek area to tighten/firm, and these products ought to work the same way. I’ll see if they really do hold up to their claims!

egg mousse pack and soap, too cool for school

The Egg Mousse Pack: a whipped foam facial mask made from egg white and egg yolk extracts- smoothens and brightens skin.

Description:

This whipped, meringue-like mousse facial mask enriched with egg white and egg yolk extracts instantly transforms rough, dull skin into a smooth, radiant complexion in as little as five minutes. Egg white extract purifies and brightens, while egg yolk extract leaves skin hydrated and silky smooth. This unique, frothy facial mask deeply moisturizes and enhances the use of other skin care products for beautifully luminous skin. It contains no Sulfates or Phthalates. (Sephora.com)

My experience:

Out of the two, I was least impressed with this one. It left my face feeling soft, but I wouldn’t say it was any more hydrated or radiant than it was previously. I wasn’t really a fan of the smell, either. It smelt like grapes for some reason and I felt a mild tingling sensation.

I tried two ways of applying, since I looked up reviews after my first application and apparently it is recommended that you continue to massage the mask in instead of applying and leaving it on (like a scrub). I didn’t notice any difference, honestly.

I will probably continue to use it, but it didn’t wow me in any way. I did like how the mask expelled in a nice blob of foam (you only need to press the nozzle a little, it is very sensitive) and it was the right amount for my face. I love Lush’s face masks, but I’m not a fan of the constant dipping- especially with long nails, the mask gets trapped under your nails and it’s honestly quite unhygienic. No fuss with this one 🙂

egg mousse pack and soap, too cool for school, kbeauty, korea

The Egg Mousse Soap (facial cleanser): A whipped egg white mousse cleanser infused with egg yolk extract that gently hydrates, purifies, and replenishes your skin.

Description: 

This creamy, meringue-like cleanser combines milk proteins, amino acids, and egg extracts to thoroughly cleanse your skin. Tiny particles are able to go deep into the skin, not only to dissolve oil and dead skin cells, but also to nourish for long-lasting smoothness and hydration. Egg white extract purifies, tightens, and brightens while egg yolk extract moisturizes. Your skin is left thoroughly clean, hydrated, and glowing. (Sephora.com)

My experience:

I liked this a lot more than the mask pack. Like the mask, the nozzle dispenses dense, white foam. I liked the scent a lot more, but you should be warned that like most of the products Too Cool for School has, their fragrance is quite strong. If you are someone who dislikes scents in anything skincare-related, I would advise against getting it.

The dense foam meant that I could easily reach awkward crevices and such, which I usually have to use a brush or foaming net to do. The nozzle dispenses a tad bit too much foam in one pump if you’re not careful, so use a light hand.

I rub in and massage, and my skin feels soft and supple afterwards. It is not a heavy duty cleanser, and I use it after removing all my makeup (certainly does not budge my waterproof mascara much).

I like that my skin does not feel uncomfortably tight like some cleansers leave me feeling, but I would not say you can entirely do without moisturiser altogether. Use your regular toner/ serum/ moisturiser after cleansing.

I am currently using the botanical toners from Garnier’s SkinActives range, which I will introduce in my August favourites at some point. I follow up with The Body Shop’s Vitamin E moisture cream (review here).

egg mousse pack and soap, kbeauty, too cool for school

Other similar products:

I have also used Tonymoly’s egg pore range, of which I still use the Egg Pore Silky Smooth Balm (review here). I wasn’t that impressed with the Tightening and Cooling pack or the Blackhead Steam Balm from the same range- but then again, I do not have very visible blackheads. The steam balm and smooth balm smells lovely, which is a huge plus for me since I have to leave it on my face for a while.

If you live in Singapore, you can buy the whole range on Qoo10 here ($5.99/$8.99 SGD).

tonymoly egg pore silky smooth balm

I have also tried the Skinfood Egg White Pore Foam (150ml), which I wouldn’t say particularly impressed me. It was a cleanser that did its job, but that was pretty much it. It was a little drying, but probably more deep-cleansing than Too Cool For School.

I hope this review was helpful for those of you who are thinking about incorporating some Korean skincare options into your routine, or are curious about the benefits of eggs in skincare 🙂