Saturday, 29 June 2013

June Empties

After a few months of excellent work in getting through my ever-growing stash of products, June has been a little bit of a let down. I only managed a rather poor three empties but in the interests of keepin' it real, here they are. I'll try harder next month, I promise.

1. Original Source Shower Gel - Orange & Cinnamon
Original Source products are always a safe bet. These were on a two for £2 offer so had to be snapped up. This one smelled amazing - I'm obsessed with anything cinnamon scented.

2. Herbalife Herbal Aloe Strengthening Conditioner 
I picked this up at a Herbal Aloe event last summer and its finally run out! This was a great conditioner, a little went a long way and it left my hair feeling soft but not weighed down. The only thing that stopped me reaching for this more often and using it up faster was that it didn't have much of a scent so I often ended up reaching for Aussie's 3 Minute Miracle instead. 

3. Original Source Shower Gel - Vanilla & Raspberry
This smelled so good. Like a creamy raspberry milkshake but without any of the calories. The creamy formula was nice and moisturising. This will be repurchased next time its on offer.

Did you do any better with "Project Empties" this month?

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Tea Time

There's nothing more British than a nice cup of tea. Coffee definitely has its place but a mug of tea is always a great start or end to the day. My morning hasn't properly started until I've had my giant mug of tea and I love to try new varieties at cafes and when having afternoon tea. I was very excited to be sent some of Twinings' offerings as well as a beautiful mug to drink them out of:

Three varieties of Earl Grey tea - a British classic with a 2013 twist. Earl Grey tea is traditionally drunk as a black tie (with an optional slice of lemon). These definitely don't need milk or sugar so are perfect for stashing in my drawer at work for tea breaks.
The Blosson Earl Grey is perfect for a morning cuppa. The fresh orange blossom flavour really complements the bergamot in the Earl Grey and provides a zingy start to the morning. This would be perfect with a slice of orange or lemon.
Jasmine has such a beautiful fragrance and delicate flavour. I love jasmine tea so was intrigued about combining the jasmine flavour with Earl Grey. The combination works surprisingly well and this would be perfect for after a meal or as a pre-bed tea.
I love the fragrance of lavender, it's the quintessential English country garden scent. Lavender might sound like an usual tea flavour but it really works. This would be a perfect afternoon pick-me-up.
I love a good sized mug. No tiny teacups for me. How beautiful is this one?

What is your favourite tea? Are you an English breakfast tea or fruit tea fan? Or is there something else I need to try?

Small print: the teas were sent to me by Twinings.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Get me to the church on time

My friend I recently married her boyfriend, J. I is a school friend of mine so I stayed chez mes parents for the weekend and enlisted my mother for lift duties. I also got her involved in some blog photography on her new iPad mini:
Dress: H&M, Jacket: ASOS; Bag: Marc by Marc Jacobs, Shoes: Rocket Dog via Tk Maxx, Nails: Bourjois Grenadine Tonic
The first thing I think upon receiving a wedding invite (besides "I'm so old") is "what am I going to wear?" Wedding dressing is a complete minefield. Don't upstage the bride (difficult given that I am not prone to wearing white maxi dresses), don't accidentally match the bridesmaids' dresses, don't wear black (pretty obvious) and find something that is both church and party appropriate. I'm not a huge fan of the typical "wedding guest" offerings that seem to fill department stores at this time of year - while I am old enough for my friends to be getting married, I don't want to dress like a 40 year-old, I don't want to wear a hat and nor do I want to spend a weeks' wages on a dress that I may never wear again.

This H&M number is formal enough for a wedding but still "me". Every blogger and their dog seems to have this ASOS boucle blazer (no, it doesn't really come in a dog version but that would look good, right?). I love the fluro orange as unlike a lot of "wedding guest cover-ups" I will actually wear it again casually - I do wish I had gone a size down but I was lazy about sending it back and I'm hoping it will shrink a little in the wash.

The day was perfect; the amazing weather, the beautiful old church, the tear-inducing speeches and - the best part - the dancing into the night in celebration of Mr and Mrs S's brand new marriage.

Are you going to any weddings this summer?


Monday, 24 June 2013

Gin and Tonic

I love a good G&T. On a summer's evening there really is nothing better than relaxing with a cold G&T but I'd never really thought before what actually goes into it (aside from gin and tonic, of course) and how the drink came about.

I was very excited to be invited to a Bombay Sapphire workshop in the Hoxton Hotel's Apartment. The Apartment was the perfect setting - if only my own apartment was half as spacious and stylish I'd be a happy girl. From the bookcases full of actual books, the jars of sweets and boxes of cereals Sophie and I felt like we had gatecrashed someone's crib.

A welcoming glass of G&T (which I was terrified I would spill but very glad to report that I didn't) and some canapes and The Apartment was already starting to feel a bit more like home.
A few bottles of Bombay Sapphire make a guest appearance on the bookcase.
Sam, the G&T expert (surely the best job description ever), taught us about the origins of G&T and the different types of gin (there are four). Bombay Sapphire's recipe dates from 1761 and although the exact ingredients are a closely guarded secret it contains ten botanicals that give it is unique flavour. Sam gave us samples of each to smell/taste - I loved the cassia bark which smells like Christmas and was less keen on the Angelic Root which Sophie correctly identified as smelling "like a charity shop". I had no idea that so many different natural ingredients went into a G&T.
It was then time to create our own bespoke G&T infusion. Two cabinets held these Harry Potter-esque jars of infused gin, the flavours ranging from super sweet pink pear drops to a rather grown-up sounding raisin and rosemary.
Predictably, I opted for the pear drops, a splash of lemon tonic water and a garnish of more pear drops.This tasted very different from a regular gin and tonic - it was far sweeter.
The toppings bar.
And a goodie bag of gin treats - I can't wait to use my balloon glass although I may need to purchase some more tonic to get through the rest of the bottle of gin.
The Perfect G&T 

To make the perfect G&T is easy:

1. Fill your glass with ice. Swirl ice around and drain off the excess water.

2. Add 50ml of gin. No need to mess around with measuring devices as one second of pouring = 10ml. So pour for five seconds and you're done.

3. Top up with 100ml of tonic water. We used Fever Tree at the workshop which is made from natural ingredients and complements the botanicals in the gin.

4. Add a wedge of lime.

5. Drink.

Are you a gin and tonic fan?

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Midweek Eating: The Yo Burger

Regular readers of my blog may have gathered that I have a slight obsession with sushi and occasionally dabble in the world of burgers. When I heard that Yo Sushi had launched a burger I knew it was something that I had to try. Burgers are still having their moment so why shouldn't a sushi restaurant get involved? I persuaded my friend P that he wanted to try one too:

There are five burgers to choose from, including a veggie option. They are all £8 each and come with crackers and a side salad. I opted for the salmon burger and my friend P opted for the tilapia burger (which I think looks like a sushi version of a McDonalds Fillet o'Fish!).
I loved the presentation - the tray and wrapping gives it a "fast food" theme while still being Japanese style with the bento box compartments.
The unwrapped burger. The burger "bun" is made of rice which worked better than I thought it would as a bun. It was quite messy to eat but super tasty and definitely worth grappling with. The burger is quite small - I guess it would be harder to eat and make if it were bigger although the filling had a lot of flavour so it smaller size was compensated for in taste.
Sitting at the counter watching the sushi move past while you eat is quite a temptation. We had some edamane beans to share to start and I couldn't resist a plate of mochi for dessert.
The Yo Burger was definitely a fun food to try. I'm not sure if I'll be back for another - I think I prefer actual sushi and actual burgers. At £8 its pretty good value although the portion is quite small. You can always grab a couple of things off the coveyor belt like we did and I do love the endless supply of fizzy water at Yo Sushi. The burger is limited edition so if you're curious about what a sushi burger is like then make sure you try one soon!

Sushi burger - yay or nay?

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Insta-updates: It's been a long time

I haven't done an Instagram post in a while - here's what's been happening while I wait for summer to properly arrive...

1.M&S train feast. This is about as close to a picnic as I've managed. The fruit slaw is amazing.

2. Itsu salmon salad. A new obsession.

3. Seeing the Queen's barge on the Thames on an early morning run.

4. Wearing my baroque leggings (c/o Clothing at Tesco).

5. Using my free Starbucks voucher on a venti soya caramel macchiato. This defeated me, it was so big!

6. Trying on trainers in Sketchers. I bought the pair on the left - I loved the other pair but they weren't as comfortable (and were £10 more).

7 and 8. Ping Pong Pop-up and #BRGR. I skipped the burgers and went straight to dessert - which, yes, is a totally ok thing to do. The Crack Pie was so, so good.

9. Lunch at Tibits.

10. Regent Street gets patriotic (again). Is anyone else feeling a little Royal-ed out? I may have to avoid all news sources (Daily Mail) once the Royal Sprog is born.

11. Lunch at work (really!). Veggie scotch egg and corguette fritter.

12. Dinner at Banana Tree Kitchen.

13. Pizza Express Superfood Salad.

14. Breaking my magazine ban. It was the freebies that convinced me. Glamour has a free mascara, Cosmo free sunglasses, Smints and Mentos and Company has a free make-up bag.

15. Lunch at The Delaunay with my parents. One of my favourite restaurants for a guaranteed good meal that won't bankrupt you.

16. Cheesecake dessert at my friend's wedding.

17.New nail polish obsession - Bourjois Grenadine Tonic. Looks bright and summery, takes two minutes to apply.

18. Wedding face and hair (outfit to follow).

What do you Instagram?

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Stylight: My Thoughts

Since starting my blog I've dabbled with a few "fashion communities". I signed up to Lookbook and Chictopia when I first started out but my usage of them gradually fizzled out. I'm also on Pinterest but haven't quite caught the Pinterest bug and my boards tend to get a bit abandoned aside from a monthly pinning spree when I remember to log in!

When I heard about Stylight, a new fashion community I was intrigued. I've signed up and thought I'd give my thoughts on the site:

Setting up a profile is quick and easy, mine is here. You can then select your "hearted items" and pick a few people to follow to get started.

Then, set up your boards. The "board" function is very similar to Pinterest. My favourite feature with the Boards is that you can either "heart" items from other people's boards or you can sync with your Instagram feed so if you have taken a picture of an item you want in a shop and Instagrammed it (as I'm sure many of us do), you can upload it straight onto your board. Ditto with outfits - its great to be able to skip that step of phone-to-laptop-to-internet when you can just select your photos straight from your Instagram feed. Stylight also syncs with Twitter and Facebook so you can link all of your social media platforms, say if you have a Facebook page for your blog or want to Tweet your "hearted" items to your followers.

My outfits board showing some of my recent Instagram mirror snaps. Unlike Pinterest, you cannot "heart" items directly from another webpage to get them onto your boards but you can add a picture from a website or from your own blog by using the image URL so its simple enough.

Another feature I really like is that it gives me UK available items with prices in pounds. Part of the reason I never fully engaged with Chictopia was that I found it very US-centric. By selecting the "women" tab at the top of the page you can browse clothing and accessories and either add them to one of your boards, for example, a wishlist, or be taken to the online store where you can buy the item. The ability to search through pieces is great if you're looking for something particular - the range of brands and prices are really big so you're bound to find what you are looking for or make some new discoveries of brands or pieces that you weren't previously aware of. Could be dangerous!

I like how Stylight can be used both in a "social media" way by following other users and "hearting" items on their boards or as a shopping tool to browse and buy items. It's still early days for Stylight and its success will ultimately depend on how many users sign up and regularly "heart" items. I do feel that the social media landscape is quite full but given how a few years ago we didn't have many of the platforms we now use daily it seems like there's always room for something else!

Will you be signing up to Stylight?


Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Bloggers and Baking

Bloggers and baking might not seem like an obvious combination but from a quick flick through my blogroll, it seems like we have all gone baking mad! It's a bit of a cliche that bloggers love cupcakes (although based on the food of choice at most blogging events its definitely not a complete lie) but the baking skills of some of my favourite bloggers far surpass the now ubiquitous cupcake and the Great British Bake-Off is one of my favourite TV shows, I'm already counting down the days until the next series despite the last one being a complete emotional rollercoaster (this coming from someone who sat through The Titanic and The Notebook and remained resolutely dry-eyed).

I am no domestic goddess myself but I do occasionally dabble in baking (with varying degrees of success). There is something quite lovely about the smell of freshly baked treats, despite the mess and washing up that this entails. Even in an age where every sort of cake imaginable is easily available in supermarkets, where we work longer hours than ever before and are bombarded with such joys as the 5:2 diet, baking has never been more popular. 
Some rather amazing cakes at a Jubilee Street party.
1. I did not make any of these.
2. Can you really believe that this was over a year ago?
Patriotic cakes in all shapes and sizes.
Whether you are a complete beginner or a future Great British Bake-Off contestant Electrolux have a whole range of products that might help you win star baker, even if its just with your friends and family - from induction hobs to cooker hoods.

Do you enjoy baking? What's your favourite cake?

Small print: This post is in collaboration with Electrolux.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Stop Spending Start Reinventing

During my teenage years, customisation was a big deal - my issues of Just Seventeen and Sugar always seemed to have tips of how to customise your clothes. I managed to make denim skirts from old pairs of jeans to varying degrees of success and loved playing fashion designer and making a grand old mess in the process.

On a rainy afternoon, I decided to have a go at customising a t-shirt that I haven't worn for a while - less potentially wallet-damaging than browsing ASOS.
You will need: an oversized tshirt, needles and thread (hotel sewing kits are ideal), a lipliner or pale eyeliner for marking the fabric, lace/ribbon/anything decorative lying around. I cut these collars off of old t-shirts - I'm a terrible hoarder and always think that things like this will come in useful one day.

Step 1: Use the lipliner to mark where you will be cutting. Cut the bottom and sleeves off of the t-shirt. Don't worry about it being too perfect.
Step 2: Place lace collar on t-shirt. When happy, pin in place.
Step 3: The hardest part. Sew the lace collar onto the t-shirt.

Have you ever attempted to customise anything?

Friday, 14 June 2013

A Formal Introduction: Bryn

So my little Mulberry bag has made a few appearances on my blog already but I still haven't properly introduced him.

I'd wanted a Mulberry bag since the age of sixteen when the Roxanne style was the one to swing from one's arm (Sunday Times Style magazine, you have a lot to answer for). A weekend job in John Lewis fueled my Mulberry obsession more, even if my wages could barely stretch to a purse. Throughout university a Mulberry represented being a grown-up; earning money and choosing to spent a rather huge chunk of it on a handbag spurred me on through endless reading lists and evenings of essay writing (we all have our own motivations).

In the last year, Bryn caught my eye and I knew that one day he would be mine. When my mum walked into the same John Lewis that I used to spend my Saturdays working in and saw him in the sale, it was fate.

Medium Bryn. Not too big, not too small.
Inside view. The size is perfect for a day or evening out, most importantly, an umbrella fits inside.
It's what's inside that counts. Bag contents for a summer evening out with friends. Ospery wallet, ASOS sunglasses, Oyster card, Balmi lipbalm, hairband, 17 Pressed Powder, Topshop lipstick, iPhone (Swash case) and Elemis moisturiser.
A capsule handbag definitely makes me feel more organised. Sometimes there is no need for a Filofax, book, magazine and spare shoes. For when there is, I have other (less lovely) bags.
What is your most longed-for purchase?

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Summer Dressing

Summer is finally here so the summer purchases can finally be worn. My latest dress was purchased for me my my mother in the sales, she's pretty good at knowing what sort of dresses I like so it was no surprise that I loved this one!

Dress: Oasis; Leggings: M&S; Sandals: River Island; Jacket: H&M; Bag: Mulberry
I wore this to my friend S's birthday party - a night of pop-up ping pong and #BRGR food. I think the shoes were a sensible footwear choice although my ping pong skills were sadly not up to much.

Do you trust anyone else to buy clothes for you?

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Tenerife: Holiday Purchases

Because purchases in another currency don't really count, do they?

Longchamp Rucksack: Luton Airport Duty Free, Pencil Skirt: Stradivarius, Scarf: Beachside store; L'Oreal Mascara and Eyeliner set: Duty Free
Adding another Longchamp bag to my collection - I couldn't resist this summery yellow and chose the rucksack shape after being tempted by a few highstreet rucksacks. I love combining a few loves into one purchase. Tenerife had a lot of European highstreet favourites: Zara, Mango, Berksha etc. I picked up this skirt in Stradivarius for €9.95 - bargain! My mum and I loved exploring the beachside stores full of touristy purchases, while we were tempted by a beach towel featuring a map of the island, this 1970s style printed scarf seemed like something I'd get more use from back home. Finally, another duty free find - this two pack of L'Oreal mascaras was a good bargain - my mum and I get one each but I get to keep the free eyeliner, only fair, right?

What do you buy on your holidays?

Friday, 7 June 2013

Tenerife: Food and Frolics

Every year, my mum and I go on a "girlie break". We've been to New York, Paris, Barcelona and Marrakech but this year we wanted something a little different. A regular holiday: sun, beach, pool. Done. We've both had quite a busy time lately so a few days of relaxing was just what we needed:

Gin Fizz cocktails overlooking the sea on our first night. These were strong!
"Grandma's Salad" - Canarian goats' cheese, apple, pinenuts and raspberry dressing.
The view from our balcony: pool, palm trees, sea. We stayed at the H10 Conquistador on the Playa de las Americas. The hotel was lovely, we had a huge room with a balcony, and access to a roof terrace with a fridge full of cold drinks. Perfect for strenuous hours spent reading the new Dan Brown novel.
Every day started with a plate of beautifully presented fresh fruit. Breakfast was A La Carte which was a much more civilised affair than a buffet and meant we could spend the morning reading the papers while the food came to us.
Sand sculptures on the walk to Los Cristianos. Our hotel was in a great location for exploring the coastline.
Most of the restaurants were quite same-y. I wouldn't say that Tenerife is really the place for fine dining - pizza, pasta and salads comprise standard restaurant fare but prices are reasonable (around £10 for a main course and £5 for a cocktail). We went for sushi on our second night as I'd spotted a menu while we were exploring and shared this platter.
Smoked salmon omlette for breakfast. I wish someone would make me one of these everyday.
For a break from poolside chilling, we visited the Aloe Park. The exotic plants were beautiful and the sky a perfect shade of blue.
At the Aloe Park, learning how bananas are grown. Canarian bananas look and taste quite different to the ones we are used to in the UK. Dress: Topshop, Bag: Longchamp, Sunglasses: ASOS.
Selfie. Clearly still working on my tan.
A cable car ride up to the top of mount Teide. The cable car takes you to above the cloud level and the bus ride up is both terrifying and far more scenic than the 45 to Kings Cross. The landscape is like being on the moon. Be warned - it is freezing at the top of the mountain so a playsuit is not really ideal attire..
We ate in our hotel one night - pan fried cod with vegetables. Followed by a walk along the sea front for cocktails.
Ready for a night on the town with my mummy! Dress is from Blue Inc.
Last day breakfast = calories don't count. Giant toast with Canarian banana. The waiter looked very concerned when my mother and I tried to order one each of these, as well as a regular breakfast choice so we saved ourselves from an inevitable sugar coma by sharing.
I had a lovely holiday - it was great to spend some quality time with my mummy and Tenerife was lovely, I was expecting just a beach and not much else but there was so much to do and see (although at times I didn't want to see anything other than a sunlounger) and the unchanging weather forecast made it a perfect break from the weird seasonal limbo back home.

Have you visited Tenerife?
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