Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 - Year In Review

I don't even know where to start with this year. A lot happened. It was (mostly) pretty good. Here's my year seen through the "trends" of 2013...

It was the year of the selfie and no occasion is now an inappropriate one to take a picture of yourself.
Edinburgh airport.Tartan and Prada sunglasses.
Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin.
The Rain Room, The Barbican. We don't have enough rain in England so in January I queued for 3 hours to see it rain inside.
The Peak, Hong Kong. So much mist.
Playa de las Americas, Tenerife.
Combining a selfie with another 2013 trend - pink hair. No longer reserved for My Little Pony and the singer, Pink, its now acceptable for adults to have rainbow coloured hair. Loved my month with pink hair.
Food trends in 2013:

Everyone still likes burgers, probably because they're pretty damn good. Personal best of 2013? Patty & Bun.
Five Guys opened in London. We can now enjoy Mr Obama's favourite burger for double the price! Shake Shack opened around the corner. Both still have crazy queues.
Move over, cupcakes (never was keen on you anyway). The cronut came to London in August - these are from Rinkoffs. Then Greggs made one and they their five minutes of fame is now well and truly over.
Arrested Development returned to our screens. Skip's Scramble was duly re-created to eat while watching the entire series in one go.
We still ate macarons. €1.80 per mouthful from Angelina's, Paris.
Everyone went crazy over the Great British Bake Off. I'll have my slice of cake with a slice of sexism, please. I baked a battenburg cake (with a lot of assistance from my friend P) and it was the most stressful thing I've ever done. Resisting the urge to make any reference to a fallen from grace TV chef here.
A large amount of 2013 was spent photographing and instagramming our food rather than just eating it. Here, slutty brownies get the social media treatment.
We actually had a summer in 2013. Everyone was nicer to one another when they weren't complaining. I got sunburned in Kent and actually wore my summer clothes.
London melting in 30 degree heat. The view from Duck & Waffle. When the sun shines in London, in the words of Lily Allen: wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
A building in the City, The Walkie Talkie Scorchie, created a patch of intense heat. The pavement melted, everyone freaked out.
A Tumblr blog started the "Hot Dog Legs" trend. A new way to brag that you are on holiday. In Madrid by the pool.
Hot dog legs in Marbella.
Who knows what 2014 will bring. Here's to eating all the trendy food, taking pictures of ourselves and doing whatever else suddenly becomes acceptable next year. Thanks to everyone who ate burgers with me, jet-setted around the globe with me and listened to my constant enthusing and complaining about absolutely everything. And thank you to you, dear reader, for reading this. Without this little blog and the amazing people I've met through it I wouldn't have half of these memories and probably wouldn't know what a cronut is (and how my life would be the poorer for it).

Happy New Year! xxx

Monday, 23 December 2013

Insta-Updates - It's Christmas!

1. Selfridges had a 20% off weekend. Two mascaras, a Creme De La Mer lipbalm and a Clinique freebie promotion. Self gifting all the way. The lipbalm is a life changer, worth every penny although I'll never be able to go back to a simple pot of Vaseline now.

2. Vegan coconut cake and catch-ups with school friends at Drink Shop & Do. One of my favourite places in London to spend a rainy afternoon.

3. Itsu sushi happy hour. I get really excited on days when I leave work at the perfect time to get half price sushi on my way home.

4. Burrito pot in Burrito Mama. Burrito taste minus evil bread - yay! 

5. Solo cinema night to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Felt very indulgent but loved it (the film and the single lady evening).

6. Breakfast in Costa - chocolate orange mocha. Because starting your day on a sugar high is really sensible. This was nice but I won't be sad to see the back of all the Christmas coffees.

7. Byron - butternut squash salad and corguette fries because I am suffering from burger fatigue and cannot get enough of butternut squash at the moment. Tell me if I start turning orange soon.

8.  The table is set for the Dream Team Christmas lunch. The food was so-so but the gossip was amazing as always!

9. Dream Team Christmas - gin, Christmas tunes and some of my favourite people all in one place. Real Christmas has a lot to live up to.

10. Taking my parents to Wahaca for the first time - go off menu with the churros and request a portion with salted caramel sauce.

11. Kiehls samples to try from the counter at Terminal 5. 

12. German treats - a giant bar of Ritter Sport and Haribo shaped like German buildings. Is there anything better in life? (No there isn't).

What Christmassy things have you been enjoying?

Saturday, 21 December 2013


Six hours definitely isn't enough time to have in Berlin but with a few tips from Hannah and a quick Google while waiting for my flight, I think I made those six hours count. Luckily pretty much everyone in Berlin speaks good English, taxis are way cheaper than they are in London and exploring a city on my own is pretty high on my "favourite things to do" list. I probably should have checked the weather before I went although speed exploring kept me warmer than wasting time in H&M buying a new jumper. Here are my must sees:

First stop - The Brandenburg Gate. I'm no historical expert but this is definitely the first thing that came to my mind when I thought of Berlin. Loads of guided tours leave from here and the tourist office is next door and will give you a map for €1 (way less then you'll spend on internet fees Google mapping on your iPhone). The first of many Christmas trees here - I think the Germans did invent them after all.
Next stop: Checkpoint Charlie. Another must-see, this piece of graffiti-ed wall stands outside the museum. The museum is small but absolutely packed with information - I could have spent much longer inside if I'd had more time. Don't forget the giftshop for some quirky souvenirs or even a piece of the wall.

A short hop in a taxi took me to the East side of the city. Almost 25 years after the wall came down a section of it still remains, walk along the west side of the wall which has become an outdoor gallery reflecting on the history of the city's division.

Berlin has over 60 Christmas markets. I made it to two of them, this one in Alexanderplatz - right in the centre of town.

Solo exploring necessitates a selfie. I also popped up to the top of the TV Tower for views of the city at sunset, visited the famous KaDeWe department store (the food hall is a must-see) and sheltered from the freezing weather in Cafe Einstein on Unter Der Linten.
Have you visited Berlin?

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Office - Christmas Edition

It's nearly Christmas. Yes, you knew that. I have another new work dress today - one that does feel a little bit Christmassy. I'll definitely be wearing this on the day of the office Christmas party to save the whole getting-changed-in-the-loo aspect but unlike those Santa jumpers I won't be banishing it to the back of my wardrobe in January. I'm not the most festive of person (years of working in retail bring back terrible memories whenever I hear a Christmas song and don't even try to offer me mulled wine or mince pies) but this makes me feel a little better about my scrooge-ish ways. Ok, I'm off to scorn at Christmas TV adverts and moan about the wastefulness of wrapping paper...

Dress: Closet via Dorothy Perkins. Nails: Sardonyx by Models Own.
Are you Christmassing up your wardrobe?

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Underneath the LBD

Party season is now in full swing so inspired by the "Underneath the LBD" competition being run by Ann Summers I thought I'd put together my perfect party outfit as well as the perfect lingerie for underneath it - after all, your party dress deserves better than any old pair of undies that you just happen to grab from your top drawer in the getting ready rush.

Dress: Topshop. Lingerie: Dita range by Ann Summers. Watch: Guess at Watch Warehouse. Bag: Alexander McQueen at Net a Porter. Shoes: Topshop.
This velvet dress is more than a little bit 90s inspired with the spaghetti straps and it ties in well with the lingerie theme of this post with the corset detailing. I love dresses that can be worn in different ways and this would work equally well with my picks above or dressed down with chunky boots and an oversized cardi for daytime. The Dita range by Ann Summers (possibly named after the fabulous Von Teese) has some really standout pieces - I like wearing bras with pretty straps when wearing strappy dresses (none of those awful clear plastic straps for me, thank you) and the shape of this bra would perfectly compliment the neckline of the dress. Heels are a party season essential and this Topshop pair look like they'd have staying power with the ankle strap and sensible (for me) heel height Finally, accessories - a classic gold watch from Guess keeps things simple and if Santa could please bring me this McQueen clutch then I'd definitely be sorted on the accessories front for every party in 2014.

What are your party essentials?

Friday, 13 December 2013

Arcade Fire Ball

On a Monday night a few weeks ago, I found myself dashing through the City in a sequin dress, fur cape, gold mask in hand. After getting a few odd looks from men in suits on the tube I found myself in the most stylish queue I have ever been in. The reason? Hannah and I had tickets to see Arcade Fire at The Roundhouse in Camden and the ticket stated "formal dress or costume mandatory" so coming straight from work was definitely not an option. Masks and suits seemed to be a popular theme. We doused ourselves with glitter spray in the queue and I tried not to think about having to de-glitter myself in time for work on Tuesday.

The gig was amazing - The Roundhouse is one of my favourite venues and for once at a gig I could almost see the stage (standing gigs require flat shoes which is not idea when you are 5'1). The band played quite a short set, most of their new album but with a few old favourites thrown in. Confetti rained from the ceiling during the last song and jumping in the air trying to grab it while dancing around in a gold mask suddenly seemed like the only way to be spending a freezing cold Monday night.

Dress: H&M. Cape: John Lewis. Mask: Gift shop @ The Southbank Centre. Plimsoles: Dorothy Perkins.

Can someone invite us to a masquerade ball?
What was the last occasion you dressed up for?

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Exhibitionist

Pop Art speech bubble - Barbican gift shop. Dress - Zara. Jacket - American Apparel.
These photos were taken at the Pop Art Design Exhibition at the Barbican on Sunday. Hannah and I had had the exhibition on our to-do lists for a while so it was great to finally have time to pop along. The exhibition is fun, full of bright colours but also an interesting insight into the world at the time of the pop art revolution. I particularly loved the Mae West lips sofa and the 60s furniture. I had seen some of the exhibits at past events but its still well worth a visit as its great to see so much from the era all in one place.  I'm hanging on to my ticket for a half price cocktail in the pop art bar soon - I love how the Barbican theme their bar to the exhibition of the moment. Don't forget to pop into the Curve downstairs for the free Ayse Erkmen "Intervals" exhibit which involves slowly walking through a range of moving backdrops - weird but oddly entertaining.

What exhibitions have you visited lately?


Monday, 9 December 2013

Little Restaruant Reviews

Little reviews, sometimes of little restaurants.

1. Mishkins

Mishkins describes itself as a "Jewish deli with cocktails". The food isn't actually Kosher but the menu takes inspiration from the Jewish delis of NYC with salt beef sandwiches, bagels and matzoh ball soup. The cocktail list is gin-based so easily persuaded me that a mid-week cocktail was a very good idea. And it was - I had the gin sour. Hannah and I sat at the bar as all the tables were full but the menu is the same and it gives a good view of the 1930s decor restaurant. I had the turkey schnitzel which was the Tuesday special but swapped the accompanying mash for slaw which the waiter was happy to do (I don't like potatoes in any form). Service was really great - our main dishes took a little longer than expected to arrive so complimentary glasses of prosecco were poured while we waited. I'll be back to work my way through more of the cocktail list.

2.The Diner

The Diner is a tried and tested favourite. My friend L and I visited the Covent Garden branch for a girly catch-up and sat in one of the booths contemplating the giant menus. The great thing about The Diner is that the same food is served all day so L was able to have lunch-y food while I had my (very belated) breakfast. My eggs florentine were really good - there's nothing more satisfying than slowly cutting into a perfectly poached egg. L's original burger and onion rings arrived in the trademark Diner baskets which make me feel like I'm in an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (if only!). I like The Diner as its always dependably good and the prices are reasonable - and I'm still not even sure what some of the items on the menu even are (corn dog?).

3. Ping Pong

Ping Pong has been on my chain restaurant rotation for a while. I have membership of the Southbank Centre which includes one free dish per month, culture and free food is the sort of club I want to belong to. My friend P and I visited on Saturday night and shared the soft shell crab (so good), Vietnamese spring rolls and a variety of dumplings (the restaurant is too dark for decent food pictures, blogger's nightmare!). The service is quick and efficient, you can always order more if you want to try a dish that someone else across the communal table has ordered and the cocktails are good (as are the flowering teas if you are feeling more virtuous). I'm not usually a fan of "sharing food" type restaurant as my "fussy eating" and only child status don't really fit well with that sort of eating but for Ping Pong I'm willing to overlook this although a lot of the food does come in portions of three which may bother those with sharing issues or OCD.

4. Giant Robot, Clerkenwell

Hannah and I had had Giant Robot on our lists for ages so I was excited to finally visit before going to the Barbican's Pop Art exhibition on Sunday. The decor of the restaurant is really cool and it wasn't busy on a Sunday at midday. I was in need of caffeine (as ever) so was disappointed that they don't offer soya milk and Hannah's "freshly squeezed" orange juice definitely wasn't (points deducted, its not really brunch without coffee)! On to the food, Hannah opted for the Rotary Burger which looked amazing and came with a disproportionately large side of chips (marks re-gained for fries being included in the price and for being given a choice as to how the burger was to be coooked). I opted for the smashed avocado on sourdough as it sounded virtuous and tasty - when it arrived I was a bit disappointed at how small the portion was. For £7.50 I expected a slightly more substantial dish, it was delicious but if I had been starving and/or wanting an indulgent brunch it wouldn't have been enough, cue food envy over the burger opposite me and the scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on the next table (marks deducted).

What are your latest restaurant finds?


Friday, 6 December 2013

The Office - Again

I haven't done a work wear post for a while. I was sorting out my wardrobe the other day and it seems to be mostly made up of summer clothes, bright casual wear and evening dresses which would imply that my life consists of holidays, weekends and parties - if only. When you consider that 47 weeks of the year are spent at work (so 235 days wearing work clothes if you work in an environment where there is some sort of "dress code"), there are 52 weekends in which to wear your casual clothes and I don't know how many parties I end up going to but definitely not enough to account for the wardrobe space devoted to the party dresses it would appear that my wardrobe doesn't reflect reality. New year's wardrobe resolution made, then: spend more money on decent work clothes and devote more wardrobe space to them. It just makes sense.

I was browsing Oasis for a party dress (for a party that I do not yet have an invite to - some habits are hard to break) when I found this dress on the "reject rail". The reason? The hem had come undone, I though "I can fix that! No, wait, I can't but my mother definitely can!" and purchased it with a discount for it being damaged stock. I rarely wear black as I think it makes me look even paler (especially against a while background under artificial light thanks to winter) but when I do wear it it does make me feel a little more grown up then the sparkly party dresses and neon leggings that seem to be cluttering up my wardrobe.

Dress: Oasis. The plant is getting involved in the pictures as it wasn't happy being next to a radiator so is now in my photo spot.
Does you wardrobe reflect reality?


Monday, 2 December 2013

November Empties

Another month of empties (or, yes, I can finally now throw these in the bin like a normal person!).

1.Clean & Clear Morning Energy Face Wash - I picked this up on a whim during the summer although I'm pretty sure I used this back when I was 15! It smells great and does leave my skin feeling awake in the mornings. At under £3 and available pretty much everywhere I've already snapped up another bottle.

2. Soap & Glory Pulp Friction Body Scrub - I think I've tried all of the S&G body scrubs now. I like how this one is in a tube which makes it perfect for using in the shower. The fragrance of this one I wasn't so keen on - it has a super sweet fruity scent whereas I much prefer the traditional S&G scent. Smell aside, its a great scrub and the tube lasted all summer, as you can probably tell from the rather sad looking packaging now!

3. DHC Washing Powder - I love DHC, they have some really interesting products and are slowly becoming easier to get hold of in the UK (Harvey Nichols Beauty Mart and Selfridges now stock a small range). I first bought this face wash on my gap yah in Japan -it comes in a tiny bottle but lasts for ages as you mix the water with it yourself to make a foamy wash - great for traveling and putting in my gym bag as there's no risk of it leaking.

4. L'Oreal Volume Million Lashes Excess - L'Oreal mascaras are my favourite budget buys. This one has a great brush which gives easy application with no clumps and good length. For the first month I thought this mascara was amazing, possibly even a rival to Benefit's "They're Real" but after that it became quite hard to work with and one swipe too many would make my lashes look clumpy to the extent that no amount of lash combing would save them.

5. Topshop Louise Grey Liner in Intensify - I wear liquid eyeliner every day and purchased this limited edition navy one as a change to my usual black. At first it felt a bit scary to wear but all summer it became my staple for brightening up my make-up. The formula is amazing, it lasted though many a hot summer day and night (sadly a distant memory now) and was easy to remove with good ol' Bioderma. Sadly Topshop no longer stocks this range but I'm definitely going to try the liners from their permanent line and experiment more with colours other than black.

6. Mango Lady Rebel perfume sample - I got this as a sample in Sephora when I was in Paris. I wasn't expecting to like it as, ugh, it's a highstreet brand's fragrance so can't possibly be good? Wrong! I actually loved the smell of this - quite an evening-y oriental fragrance but I wore it in the day anyway because who has time to switch fragrance between day and night?

7. Moschino Pink Bouquet perfume sample -  a sample from a Feel Unique order I made. This was very, very sweet - the name and packing are probably a clue. I'm not fragrance loyal and did enjoy wearing this for a few days but it was slightly on the sweet (and dare I say it - young) side for me. Back in the day when Escada's Rocking Rio was my go-to scent I would definitely have loved it!

What products have you finished this month?

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Insta-Updates: The Month Before Christmas

I feel like I've barely sat down in front of a computer this week (with the exception of working hours which are all spent in front of a computer but that's different). Sometimes it is nice to take a little step back from online life - swapping iMessage chat for real life chat, eating non-photogenic food and (trying) to re-charge my batteries ahead of the festive season.  Here's what I've been doing:

1. Just a little after work drink at Sushisamba. The cocktails are a little pricey but they are satisfyingly strong and the view is beautiful.

2. Dessert at the ball I went to a few weeks back. Lemony "thing" with shortbread and raspberry puree.

3. I definitely did not have this Wahaca salad two nights in a row.

4. What I look like when wearing about five times as much make-up as I usually do (at the Soap & Glory bloggers event).

5. Southwark Park fireworks.

6. A flying pig for the Lord Mayor's Show. The sun did come out for the last five minutes of the parade.

7. Starbucks with mummy and daddy. It was 2 for 1 on Christmas coffees so we had one each and a 4th to share. The orange mocha is nice in a sickly sweet sort of way.

8. Fireworks for the Lord Mayor's Show.

9. Mini sharing desserts at work event.

10. Nails of the week - it'll probably be a nightmare to remove but I do love glitters still. The shade is Sardonyx.

11. Designing my own show with The Colour Studio. This turned out to be a bit of a monstrosity! Mr Louboutin has nothing to fear.

12. Taking home a pair dyed by the professionals. Now all I need is for someone to invite me to a party to wear them at.

What has your month before Christmas been like?

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Little Black Bottle

The party season is here and I'm definitely in need of some inspiration. Freixenet have set me the challenge of styling up one of their "Little Black Bottles" as you would a little black dress. In an age of fast fashion, the little black dress still manages to be a party classic and with a few clever accessories you can transform it to suit the occasion.

I've styled up the bottle with some of my favourite accessory picks to see you through the party season and beyond:

Necklace - Topshop, Watch - Marc Jacobs via Watch Warehouse, Stole: Topshop, Bag: Topshop, Midi ring: Topshop, LBB: Freixenet Sparking Wine
A statement necklace is a great way to transform any outfit and this one will really set off a black dress as well as looking great over a cosy jumper during the day. A classic watch is definitely not a one-season wonder accessory and this Marc Jacobs one is the perfect accompaniment to a LBD. Midi rings are everywhere at the moment and are such an affordable way to update your look. Pare down your handbag essentials (Oyster card, lipstick, credit card - done!) and pack them into a clutch bag - this one has just the right amount of sparkle. Finally, I can't resist the chance to wear (fake) fur and if you can't swan around in a fur stole at Christmas then when can you. This ice-y blue one gives the perfect snow queen touch to a LBD and will help keep out the winter chill.

What are you essentials for styling a LBD?
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