Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Insta-updates: This and That

It's nearly March! I am definitely looking forward to spring, even if I don't have much hopes for the weather. Here's what I've been doing to make February more bearable:

1 & 2. Dinner at Union Jacks - Jamie Oliver's latest venture serves a rather strange mix of traditional British food and pizzas. I love spicy food so the chili freak pizza sounded like a bit of a Man v Food style challenge - it wasn't actually that hot but made a nice change from Pizza Express or Zizzi.

3. Breakfast in Starbucks - porridge and a soy cappuccino with lots of cinnamon. Meeting a friend for breakfast is such a nice start to the day, definitely worth getting out of bed a bit earlier for!

4. Little Valentine's gifts for my friends. Spreading a little love even if my V-day was about as un-romantic as it gets (day at work followed by evening watching Arrested Development on Netflix).

5. Making frozen jelly in my heart shaped molds.

6. Veggie breakfast at the Post Office Deli in Levenshulme. I have given up bread and chocolate for Lent. I'm not finding it that difficult but it can be hard when eating out, so many things are bread-based! The smoked salmon bagel would have been my usual choice but this was really good.

7. Continuing the heart theme - a heart-shaped macaroon at Sugar Junction. More about it here.

8.  Presenting a bit of BBC Breakfast at Media City.

9. I might not be eating chocolate but I can still photograph it - I don't think I've ever seen so much chocolate in one place than at the Lowry Cadbury outlet store.

10. LFW was a bit of a fail for me this time around, I was disorganised and super busy at work so only made it to Somerset House once but seeing this cat lady definitely made me smile.

11. Soy cappuccino and a salted caramel and banana cake at the Osprey store in St Albans. I'd definitely recommend a visit if you're in the area - its a lovely setting and there are some good bargains to be had in the outlet store.

12. I managed to resist a new handbag but had to have this leather dog - his name is Ted! I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with him yet but I am in love!

Have you given anything up for Lent?

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Tea For Two: Sugar Junction, Manchester

I spent last weekend in Manchester, my friend J has just moved up there so it was a great opportunity to catch up with him and explore a new city.

On Saturday afternoon we headed to Sugar Junction as my friend thought that it looked quite "me". He was correct and once we had got there we couldn't resist sampling the Traditional Afternoon Tea:

"Nuts About Tea" tea, fruit scone, macaroon, bakewell tart and giant fondant fancy. Goat's cheese, salmon and ham sandwiches.
Fondant fancy, macaroon, the cake counter, me, the cake list.

The Traditional Afternoon Tea comes with a choice of sandwich fillings - we opted for goats cheese, smoked salon and ham with apple chutney. I have given up bread for Lent so just ate the fillings which were delicious - I do love goats cheese. I have also given up chocolate but luckily none of the cakes were chocolate ones! After the sandwiches, we then moved on to the giant, warm scones which came served with jam and clotted cream in cute mini jars. I'm not the biggest fan of scones but this one was lovely - it tasted so fresh. The macaroon was my favourite cake, what a blogger cliche I am! We then moved on to the bakewell tart and finished with the fondant fancy, all washed down with a giant tea pot of "Nuts About Tea".

At £15.50 this afternoon tea is such good value. We had a refill on our tea without even having to ask and the amount of food was just right. I did see those who couldn't finish their platters getting the cakes boxed up to take home which is a great idea if you don't scoff the whole lot in one go! The setting of Sugar Junction is lovely, all mismatched furniture and floral table cloths. The tea room was really busy but we weren't made to feel rushed at all and stayed for a good couple of hours, tacking this amount of sugar needs to be taken slowly!

If you live in or visit Manchester, I'd definitely recommend it!

Where is your favourite afternoon tea destination? And does scone rhyme with "gone" or "bone"?

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Brand Love: Cath Kidston

Cath Kidston is a brand that had been on my radar for a while. I'm a big fan of florals (as evidenced by my dress collection) and love how Cath Kidston uses them in her designs. Cath Kidston was founded back in 1993 when she oped a tiny shop in Holland Park selling vintage fabrics, wallpaper and brightly-painted junk furniture she remembered fondly from her childhood. Her clever witty re-working of traditional English country house style meant that her shop soon became a cult success.

Gradually Cath Kidston began to design her own prints and products. One of the first was a printed ironing board cover-practical, quirky and with a distinctive floral print, it has come to epitomise the Cath Kidston look.
Here are my favourite picks - I love how the florals have a vintage vibe but are bright enough to look fresh and modern: 

Cushion, Pillowcase, Dressing Gown, Eiderdown and Duvet Cover - all Cath Kidston at Amara
I love the Antique Rose print of these items. The duvet cover and pillow case would really brighten up a bedroom and the cushion and eiderdown add the final touch. The eiderdown would be great for snuggling under on the sofa on a winter's evening, too! And why not co-ordinate your furnishings to your dressing gown as well - this one looks so cosy!

Are you a fan of Cath Kidston? What are your favourite Cath Kidston items?


Saturday, 16 February 2013

Black & Gold

I recently went for dinner at La Bodera Negra for a friend's birthday. She jokingly told us to "dress slutty" so while I wasn't planning on wandering around Soho in full "Pretty Woman" style get-up, one of my floral skater dresses probably wouldn't cut it.

Dress: Oasis; Tights: M&S; Boots: H&M; Ring: YSL; Collar: V&A; Bracelet: AdR for H&M

I've had this dress for years but had actually forgotten that I owned it. It looks like its PVC in some lights but its actually just shiny fabric. It's quite plain so a good background for bold accessories. I am loving gold jewellery at the moment - I've never been a gold person really but I suddenly really like it and want anything gold that I can get my hands on. The necklace is maybe a little 50 Shades and I love the AdR charm bracelet even if it is annoyingly jangly and quite hazardous to wear when attempting a place of food. The Arty Ring and I have been inseparable since I bought it so hopefully the cost-per-wear will end up to be acceptable. My mum snapped these pictures on my iPhone before I headed out - so much easier than faffing around with a tripod!

What are your favourite accessories?


Thursday, 14 February 2013

Insta-updates: Burger Time

I'm blaming the bad weather for the poor state of my bank balance lately, here's what my credit card is hating at the moment:

1. Net-a-Porter sale purchases. I decided that I needed a YSL Arty Ring in my life and this gold one happened to be on sale. A new iPhone case fell into my virtual basket at the same time. This was my first N-a-P order, probably not my last.

2. Bruscetta and mini donuts at Bella Italia while having an epic catch-up with a friend.

3. Holiday planning. This year I am off to Hong Kong (shopping recommendations pretty please), Taiwan and er, Tenerife!

4. Mozerella flat bread in All Bar One for a chilled Sunday lunch with my parents.

5. Dinner in La Bodera Negra. Really loved the decor and vibe of the restaurant. The food was pretty pricey though - I much prefer Wahaha's take on Mexican - and it was far too dark to take decent photos but I'm glad I've been, its always worth checking out hyped up places for yourself.

6. Conor Oberst at the Barbican. I'm a massive fan and this night was amazing.

7. Gin cosmopolitan at Haz. I like to pretend that I'm living the Sex and the City dream sometimes (even though I know its all a lie really).

8. Lunch in Pret.

9. Death exhibition at the Wellcome Collection. I am a secret science geek so love the Wellcome Collection - its free to get in and the cafe is really nice too if you're not put off food by some of the more gruesome exhibits.

10. My first burger of 2013. I don't really beef but make the occasional burger exception, this was in the Electric Diner and was very good although I'm not enough of a burger expert (I'll leave the full review to Hannah) so I don't know how it compares to others. I liked the Electric Diner - the expose brick and booth seating was nice and service was very fast which made up for it being slightly pricey and having a table turning policy (boo hiss).

11. Electric Diner dessert - frozen berries and lemon curd.

Finally - just a little head-up that Motel are holding a competition to win £10,000 to spend at Motel Rocks!

Where serves your favourite burger? And what to you think the food trend of 2013 will be?
Currently Reading: Jonathan Franzen - The Corrections 

Monday, 11 February 2013


As a single girl, Valentine's day is not really the highlight of February (that would have to be Pancake Day) but after reading Michelle's post I felt inspired to put together my fantasy Valentine's Day outfit. I guess in a way, this is a bit of an anti-Valentine's day look - it's not very "sexy" or "impress your man" but i) this isn't really that sort of blog and ii) I have no man to impress so can wear a slouchy jumper and crazy tights and not have to put up with any "what are you wearing" rubbish.

I based my look around this Oasis jumper - the slouchy fit keeps things comfy and it is still pretty cold outside so all to all those Valentine's day underwear adverts that I keep seeing on the thanks. I love pleated minis although have yet to invest in one myself - this H&M one is very tempting as its such a bargain. Crazy tights are always fun, these keep up the heart theme and the scalloped detail on the tops of the leg is really nice. I like the idea of getting a little glimpse of the hearts but otherwise looking like normal black opaques. These red flats look super comfortable and the Benetint is perfect for creating a loved up glow - even if the love is all for this adorable Mulberry purse. Potential Valentines out there - it's from Selfridges in case you were wondering.

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Mid-Week Dining: The Wahaca Experiment

I am a big fan of Wahaca and their dishes (well, one of their dishes - the sonora salad) frequently appear on my Insta-updates posts.

Recently, I visited the Wahaca Experiment on the Southbank. I love the Southbank, it never disappoints for people-watching and there are so many lovely restaurants to choose from. The Wahaca Experiment is right by Waterloo Bridge and overlooks the river. The restaurant is made from recycled shipping containers and has quite an eco-chic vibe. It does look a little "temporary" but is going to be there for 18 months so there's plenty of time for a visit or two. Two friends and I visited on a rainy week night:

Wooden Menu
The menu is a little different to Wahaca's usual. There is less choice (no sonora salad) but the dishes are very much along the same lines as in normal Wahaca restaurants and there is still a huge amount of options, whether you want to share a few dishes between friends or have something larger just for you.

The USP of the Wahaca Experiment is that the specials change every month and the most-loved ones will make it on to the main menu. I really like the idea that what people choose and like will change the main menu - how democratic! Although on this visit I didn't fancy any of the specials. My friend did order all three of the specials so at least some people are more food-adventurous.
Citrus Fizz
As it was a school night I opted for a Citrus Fizz to drink. I've had this in Wahaca before, it tastes so fresh and healthy - like a mojito without the naughty ingredients (rum and sugar!).

Beetroot Salad

Large Fish Tacos
I am not a fan of sharing dishes (I'm an only child, after all) so I opted for the large fish tacos with the beetroot salad. The salad was very fresh tasting, I love beetroot and was surprised but how good it tasted with jalepenos and creamy goat's cheese. The fish tacos were lovely, they reminded me of fish finger sandwiches, only a Mexican (and much nicer) version. I wasn't entirely sure how I was meant to eat these without making a huge mess so ended up eating all the components separately like a child. The tacos by themselves probably wouldn't have been enough but with the side salad it was a perfect meal.
Hot Chocolate Shot
I was too full for a proper dessert but wanted a little something to finish off the meal and not feel lonely while my friends had dessert (I did steal a bite of my friend's plantain taco). Unfortately Wahaca don't offer coffees with soya milk (chain restaurants need to sort this out for us dairy-haters/allergy sufferes) but the Mexican hot chocolate is dairy-free so I thought I'd give it a try. It comes as a shot or a mug. I'd never had it before so opted for the shot to be less sinfull and to see if I liked it. Verdict: I'll be having the mug next time, the chocolate wasn't sickly sweet and had an interesting, slightly spicy flavour.

In a bite: Wahaca with a twist, lots of veggie options, lots of choice and the changing specials to try.

Price: Pretty reasonable for a chain restaurant - I ended up spending about £15. 

Return: Yes, I love Wahaca and the Southbank so can see myself coming back and maybe trying one of the specials one day.

Waistline-friendly: Wahaca food always tastes really fresh and healthy, there are loads of veggie options and the small plates means that you can have smaller portions so it needn't be a diet disaster.

Are you a fan of Wahaca?


Thursday, 7 February 2013

Outfit Dilemma: Gig

Living in London, I should really go to a lot more concerts than I do. Real life seems to get in the way of keeping up with when my favourite bands and artists are on tour and I don't tend to even know about a gig until it had already sold out. This is where StubHub can help - they are owned by eBay and have a huge range of gig tickets for sale by fans for gigs including Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Pink tickets on this site. So, that's the tickets sorted. The next dilemma is obviously what do I wear?

I have taken inspiration from Pink's style for a gig look, although my tips work for any gig:

The first rule is definitely to wear flat shoes. Standing up for hours in heels is no fun and you want to be getting lost in the music, not getting blisters. I love the studs on these ankle boots - perfect for getting in to the rock chick spirit.

At gigs I'm always envious of guys who can shove all their possessions in their pockets and jump around without a care in the world. A cross-body bag is definitely a saviour when you still want to your essentials. This one carries on the stud theme.

This leather jacket is perfect for keeping warm in the queue and definitely a rock chick essential. Going to a gig is a good time to experiment a bit with your look - these monochrome trousers are really striking and definitely more practical than wearing a dress or skirt.

Finally, inspired by Pink, why not try a spray-in hair colour - rock chick hair that will wash out the next morning!

What are your gig essentials? And what was the last gig you went to?

Monday, 4 February 2013

Twenty Facts

I've read a few of these posts over the last couple of days so thought I'd have a go:

Me, something of a while ago.

1. I don't have a middle name. I've always felt left out when other people tell me theirs.

2. I've lived in central London for five years. I'm originally from Hertfordshire so don't really feel like I've properly moved away but London life suits me (but maybe not my bank balance).

3. I really dislike dogs. They make me feel a bit sick and smell terrible. Please don't tell me that your dog is ok because, believe me, it isn't.

4. Talking of smell, I've self-diagnosed myself as having a hyper-sensitive sense of smell. It's a big issue when getting public transport or when other people want to eat garlic.

5. I avoid public transport as much as possible. If its less than an hour away on foot, I'm walking. You see so much more and its free exercise.

6. I am an only child. And I love it.

7. I live by myself (see above).

8. I have 7 piercings but no tattoos.

9. I used to play the violin, piano and clarinet when I was younger. I have zero musical ability these days and sold the clarinet on eBay.

10. I once won a third place trophy in an Irish dancing competition.

11. For two years I dyed my hair black. It's naturally dark blonde so when my roots grew it looked like I was going bald.

12. I worked at John Lewis when I was at school in the ladies shoe department and did the 4am start for the Next sale a few times. I really appreciate getting to sit down all day in my current job.

13. I spent my first bonus when I was working at John Lewis on a pair of Gucci sunglasses.

14. I have had one and a half "gap yahs" (between school and university and between university and law school). I travelled to Japan in the first and Australia in the second.

15. I studied law at university and graduated in 2010. I knew literally nothing about law when I started (apart from that I thought it sounded interesting) and graduated with a first.

16. I started running in 2011 and have run in five 10k races. This is a big deal from someone who used to hide in the loos during P.E. lessons at school.

17. I am addicted to Diet Coke. I like setting myself "rules" around its consumption. I am not allowed it before midday and then can have it at lunch and at 4pm. It really bothers me to see people drinking it for breakfast. Wrong.

18. I don't eat pork, potatoes in any form and ice-cream. Mashed potato is my idea of food hell.

19. I interned at Sugar magazine when I was 16. I used to make my own magazines when I was younger and don't want to think about how much money I have spent on magazines in the last ten years.

20. It took me three attempts and about 50 driving lessons to pass my driving test. I used to drive a Smart car because any other car was "too big" and still couldn't park it properly.


Saturday, 2 February 2013

January Empties

My first empties post of 2013. Finally feel like I am making some progress with my massive collection of bathroom products:

1. Nivea Black & White deodorant - This is definitely an essential when wearing black clothes. Aside from that it does what deodorant is meant to do (at least I hope it does!).

2. Aussie Miracle Moist Conditioner* - Like all Aussie products this smells lovely. This conditioner left my hair feeling nice and soft but isn't too heavy or thick. My hair gets so dry in the winter and this has really helped it look shinier and less central-heating frazzled.

3. Lee Stafford Hair That Never Grows Past a Certain Length - I've had this pot for a good couple of years and had completely forgotten about it until I nearly ended up buying it in Boots. Error. While most days I don't have five minutes to leave a product on my hair in the shower, I have made an effort to use this as much as possible as even though I'm skeptical about a product actually being able to make my hair grow longer this does leave my hair feeling really nourished and makes it easier to style.

4. SK-II Facial Treatment Mask - I won this in a Glamour competition a while ago and couldn't remember using the others from the box (this is the last sachet). I haven't tried any other SK-II products as they're pretty pricey and seem to be targeted towards more "mature" skin. This mask feels really luxurious and expensive so it was a fun one to use as a treat. My dry winter skin was left feeling a lot softer and plumper afterwards.

5. Simple Eye Make-up Remover - this product always seems to be in my empties. This mini version was left over from my Christmas holiday. I'm now using Bioderma but this is a good budget make-up remover.

6. The Sanctuary Fresh-Faced Purifying Wash - another leftover from my holiday which I've been using at the gym. This facewash smells really fresh and produces a satisfying amount of foam - perfect for after a workout. The little bottle lasted a surprisingly long time.

7. Clarins Eau Dynamisante -  This fragrance has quite an unusual scent - very natural and herbal smelling, not very sweet - it almost smells like it could be a unisex fragrance. I used this on a few holidays as its alcohol free so doesn't irritate skin in the sun. The only downside to the mini bottle is that it didn't have a spray pump so I had to sort of pour it out while trying not to spill it everywhere.

What have you finished this month?
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