Saturday, 31 March 2012

Looks I'm loving

Today I'm loving both the fashion style and artistic talents of  Xiaoxi (Nancy) Zhang, an artist, designer and illustrator who lives in Germany. I came across Xiaoxi on Lookbook and loved how she combines images of her fashion style coupled with illustrations. Drawing is something I'd love to do more of but at the moment I simply have no time! I'm hoping to take a sketchbook with me to France this summer though to try and capture some landscapes.

Just a quick post today as I'm off out with The Boy for a date in Greenwich. I've only ever been once so am not sure what to expect, however he assures me I'll like it there and that's good enough for me. I'm hoping to make a few last minute purchases before my self-imposed no shopping ban begins in April (although I've already been paid, today is still TECHNICALLY March - it's all about the technicalities).

Find out more about Xiaoxi on her amazing blog.
(Illustration & Copyright by (Nancy)

Thursday, 29 March 2012

The love list

Here's a selection of posts I've loved lately from some of my favourite bloggers - I hope you love them too!
  • I don't read that many beauty blogs however one that I keep coming back to, due to the spot on recommendations and amazing 30 Day Nail Challenge, belongs to Makeup Savvy (even though the constant creativity on the nails front makes me feel like somewhat of a failure as a "polished lady" due to my one-at-home-manicure-a-week-and-hope-it-lasts approach. Find Makeup Savvy's NOTD challenge here.
  • I've been following the style of Yara over at this chick's got style for a while now and this week she pulled out what I consider to be an absolute corker of a spring ensemble. I'm often unsure of how to incorporate brights into my somewhat subdued working wardrobe (without feeling like an extra from Saved By The Bell) but Yara has inspired my to hit the high street in search of Spring brights. See Yara's outfit in question here.
  • One of my all-time favourite blogs has to be The Daybook - I love the way it's written, the images are great and just generally the content is right up my street. I particularly loved a recipe Sydney posted recently for all those of us who are somewhat challenged in the culinary department: Rolo Cookies. Need I say more?
  • I love looking at blogs for interior design inspiration but mostly, lets face it, I just love to have a nose at other peoples houses! Lately Taylor over at Sterling Style has inspired me to jazz up my office space (if you can even call it that) so expect a post soon on what I've been up to whilst endeavoring to make my workspace a more inspiring place to be.
  • Following Cupcake Takes The Cake is very dangerous for my waistline as virtually every day, usually at 11.30 at night, I find myself craving some kind of American cake-based treat due to my late-night Bloglovin obsession (not good for weight watchers). One recipe that I particularly loved was one they featured by ever clever mom for Irish Cocktail cupcakes for St Patrick's day. Not only does the end result look delicious but the presentation is ingenious and something that I will definitely be trying out as I attempt to improve my skills in the kitchen.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Hyde Park with Havaianas

On Sunday I was lucky enough (thanks to the fabulous Rachel) to take part in an exciting video shoot in Hyde Park for Havaianas Origine Espadrilles. As much as I loathe having to get up early on a Sunday, especially when the clocks have gone forward an hour, for this I made an exception and I practically leapt out of bed and headed out in the sunshine. 

I met up with Rachel and Laura (two fellow bloggers) by the Lido cafe where we waited with the guys from Havaianas and Ebuzzing for the shoot to begin and, aside from the flies, it was a perfectly lovely way to while away an hour, sitting in the sun watching the world go by. I love London's parks in the summertime (even though we all expressed our longing for the countryside the second the sun comes out).

The actual shoot took place in the park itself with us running about making general fools of ourselves with lost of other bloggers all in the name of fun. I normally have a tendency to get ultra nervous before meeting new people (something which I'm overcoming with age) and the prospect of having to jump around like a mad thing with virtual strangers did make my stomach flip a little but it was really nice to finally get to spend some time with Rachel and to meet Laura, (both of whom have fantastic blogs) especially when it became clear we were all feeling the same about jumping about in front of virtual strangers. But we needn't have worried and the shoot turned out to be a great laugh.

We each ended the day with a fabulous new pair of Havaianas Origine Espadrilles, which are both comfortable and perfect for the hot weather we've been having. I was DYING for a pink pair but alas my cankles put paid to that notion and I ended up with this equally lovely neutral pair which I can't wait to wear this summer, or maybe even this weekend if the weather stays the way it is.

Monday, 26 March 2012

A week on my plate

The 16lbs in 16weeks challenge has fallen by the wayside somewhat over the past month and, in dire need of a kick start on the diet front, last week I embarked upon a post entitled "a week on my plate". Having lost about 6/7lbs since my challenge began (Zsa has put me to shame with more than a stone) things seem to have stalled and the last few pounds are proving tricky to shift. The premise of "a week on my plate" was simple: one week, all my food, photographed. I found this challenge surprisingly enjoyable and it truly opened my eyes to the diet demons crowding my plate at every mealtime.

Breakfasts are almost always Shreddies with banana and raisins - a bag of salted popcorn often helps me through the day - Michael's legendary lunchtime wraps -  olives and calamari - M&S probiotic yoghurt with cherry compot - homemade sausage and mash

So what did I learn? The most glaring realisation was simply that I eat far too many carbs (I'm clearly a savoury rather than sweet girl), and that I don't eat half as much fruit and veg as I think I do (this has to change if I ever want to lose the last 10lbs). Also, that my portions can be somewhat on the large side, when a smaller meal would be just as satisfying. 

As summer is approaching I refuse to let this last bit of chub hold me back and have instead revised my challenge to become: The 10lbs in 10weeks challenge. 

Starting now.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Looks I'm loving

I've been trying out some new looks of late, mixing a spot of vintage with some new season finds (alas, the no shopping pledge has fallen by the wayside) but still always return to my standard look: skinny jeans, loose top, smart blazer and killer heels. It's the look I always come back to because I know that if I put on this combination (regardless of colour) I'll feel fantastic and ready to face the world. I remember vividly the first time I felt good in what I was wearing after I started losing weight (three and a half stone and counting): Next jeans, H&M draped khaki top, black blazer and high summer sandals, and boy did I feel good. If I could bottle that feeling and sell it I'd be a rich woman. In the months that have passed I've tried to recreate that feeling and the only time I seem able to get close is when I put on a trusty blazer and a pair of skinnies, nothing beats the first rush of weight loss. I'll always be a curvy girl and I just think that this ensemble is destined to become my day-in day-out look, and what's wrong with that when an outfit makes you feel good.

Someone whose style I really admire is Samm, a 25 year old fashion photographer and blogger from the Netherlands. She always looks fantastic, with her clean looks with a quirky edge, such as a chunky knit scarf or some fashion-forward footwear. Samm also has a fantastic blog called After Style Comes Fashion, which is fast becoming one of my must reads.

(I'm also loving Samm's summer style, which is getting me in the mood for some warmer weather)

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The future of fashion on a Tuesday evening

Last night I was privileged to attend a fascinating evening at Central Working (an amazing new creative workspace) in Bloomsbury with two of my fashionable girlfriends. The event was based around the globalisation of fashion in a digital age and was entitled: Flash-forward: the future of fashion in a hyper-connected world. The panel was made up of some amazing speakers: Grazia's Fashion Editor at Large Melanie RickeyOriole Cullen, Curator of Fashion and Textiles at the V&A Museum, Gabrielle Hase, Director of Soleberry Advisory and Nicola McClafferty, CEO and Co-Founder of Covetique. The evening was truly inspiring and thought provoking (and was the perfect end to an otherwise uneventful Tuesday).

One of the brands that provided much discussion was Burberry. As much as I love Burberry (they push the envelope as a business and are innovative and forward thinking) I agree with one of the points raised by the panel, that the retail transaction side of their website is somewhat lacklustre. Yet I do love all that they do in terms of brand promotion and they are a brand that I aspire to be able to purchase (even though currently the only Burberry items I own are a vintage mac I bought in a charity shop for £13 and the lipstick from this months glossybox). Burberry is one of the brands who are truly creating online worlds that connect with their target market and I think this will be the way brands appeal to their consumers going forward. I particularly love their catwalk shows, LFW in Spring 2012 being a favourite of mine.

One point raised was that the biggest magazine of the future could be a retailer and not a magazine in the traditional format. Retailers and brands will be embracing a multi-channel strategy and using the web to their advantage to truly make a connection with their consumers. Sites like my-wardrobe and the trillions of fashion blogs out there are now where I personally turn to, not only when seeking style inspiration but also when looking for guidance and advice on the best products and services around. Fashion is becoming more and more social and, I feel, consumers are now able to form far greater connections with their favourite brands and retailers than ever before.

I found the evening really interesting and listening to these inspiring and talented women reignited my interest, not only in retail innovations, but for studying in general in the pursuit of a successful and fulfilling career in the fashion industry. As most of you will know I'm currently studying for a qualification in Visual Merchandising (or "dressing dolls" as my brother would call it) and becoming a student, after a degree and a masters when I swore I would never study again, has not come easily to me. As much as I love to learn and discover, the idea of working to a deadline (particularly as the evenings get lighter and summer approaches) is not very appealing. Even more so when I don't have the benefit of the seemingly endless summer holidays to look forward to. That being said, at the moment my days seem to be filled with exciting and new things that truly are getting my creative juices flowing, outside of the working environment, such as this evening. Who couldn't fail to be inspired by such amazing women?

(Sorry guys, pretty wordy blog post this evening but this truly is a topic I could talk about for hours! We also had food: amazing pizza at ICCO, well a girls got to eat).

Monday, 19 March 2012

Let them eat cake

Whilst visiting Dublin a few weeks ago The Boy decided to treat me to a break from the pubs and take me for afternoon tea at a gorgeous little tea shop, The Cake Cafe. Somewhat off the beaten track, The Cake Cafe is the place Dubliners in the know head to for wholesome homemade food in a relaxed and friendly indoors/outdoors setting. Even though it was February, due to the unseasonably warm weather The Boy and I were able to sit at one of the outside tables for a cup of tea and a slice or two of cake. Having taken a trip inside to peruse what was on offer, in my usual indecisive mindset I went for afternoon tea, which came with a pot of your choice of tea from a seemingly never ending list, and a selection of cakes. The miss-matched china and homemade cakes reminded me somewhat of Drink Shop Do (one of Zsa and I's favourite haunts for a spot of Sunday brunch in London) so I already felt right at home. The cakes were to die for (the chocolate fudge cake was my fave, although all were delicious) and offered great value for money as the slices were far from small. 

Having visited Dublin before, I've found that it can be easy as a tourist to stick to the Temple bar area sampling the Guinness meaning you miss out on a lot of what the city has to over, like The Cake Cafe. My advice when visiting any city is this: take a trip off the beaten tourist track and you never know what hidden gems you might find.

ABOVE: The Cafe Cafe till; inside it was very busy; The Cake Cafe bike, ready to deliver to the local area; the only clue of what's ahead; cakes galore; there's nothing like a cup of tea.

Visit The Cake Cafe at Pleasants Place, Dublin, find full directions here

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Favourite online reads: Cellardoor

I’ve been getting really into unwinding at the end of the day by catching up on my favourite blogs via bloglovin  and hellocotton (I’ll be updating my series of “Blog of the week” posts in the next few days, so watch this space for an insight into the blogs that float my boat). As much as I love reading monthly fashion magazines I’m finding lately that online mags, alongside blogs, provide me with a similar buzz of creativity and best of all they only cost the price of my internet connection! No more £20 spends in WHSmiths for me. One of my faves, Cellardoor, is actually the work of two of my friends-for-life Jade and Amy, and is a magazine I know I can turn to if I find myself lacking in inspiration. Recently they’ve drawn my attention to the work of Russian designer Ulyana Sergeenko, whose designs I love and will be looking out for in the future.

Find out more about Ulyana here

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Sunday fun day

Look of the day
Mac: Primark
Scarf: H&M
Jumper: Primark
Shorts: New Look (customised)
Hat: Vintage
Watch: Rotary
Bag: Hobbs
Boots: Next

On Sunday I was in desperate need of a catch up with the work wife (Zsa Zsa, she of The Life Wardrobe) after her week off and my week from hell in the office, so we ventured out to Islington for a spot of brunch at The Breakfast Club.

Those who read this blog regularly will know my feelings on The Breakfast Club (both their All American breakfasts and fresh mint tea are to die for) so Zsa's suggestion of "why don't we have a salad at Pizza Express" was met with a definite expression of "what the hell" from me. Regardless of the queue at weekends, The Breakfast Club is definitely worth a visit for the pancakes alone, but enough about the food: Zsa and I had things to discuss, mainly her house move/relentless shopping and my week from hell/desperate need for a holiday.
After a spot of gossiping we took a stroll around the local area checking out the sights (ie: making a mental list of places we want to eat and ogling the latest wares from some of our favourite out-of-our-price-range stores). One of our favourite things to do of late is to dream up far fetched schemes to become ladies who lunch and this trip was pretty much just fuel to the fire as we stopped at many an estate agents window, our desire for a kitchen island and homewares from John Lewis knows no bounds. The sun was out for pretty much the first time this year and it was just a lovely day to spend with my best bud in the sunshine, relaxing and mentally preparing myself for the week ahead.

Here are some shots of my ensemble for the day, apologies for the people in the background but as I said it was sunny and you know how people in the UK get when it's warm in March (just be thankful they're wearing anything at all).

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Weekly round-up

Well this week sucked. Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong did: I missed my power plate class, couldn't go to the Warehouse trend event and the less said about work the better. But enough about that, let's move on to bigger and better things!

This weekend The Boy and I have nothing planned and I'm actually really looking forward to it (sometimes doing nothing but what you want really is the best remedy following the week from hell). I've got big plans for an afternoon nap, some writing, catching up with Zsa zsa and maybe even some painting, who knows. I just want to spend some time doing things that I genuinely want to do, rather than having to try and fit them in around the drudgery of everyday life.

I spent some time on Friday afternoon clearing my head with a spot of retail therapy (more of that later) followed by a blustery walk home through Hyde Park. As much as I love living in the city, I do sometimes miss the peace and quiet of the countryside and the calming influence of the sea, so the silence of the park and the solitude of the lake were more than a little welcome after such a troubling week. I normally walk through the park from Marble Arch to High Street Kensington which cuts quite a bit of time off my journey and is a far nicer route than battling with the tourists at Hyde Park Corner. Today I took some time to sit a while near the Round Pond next to Kensington Palace, read my book and clear my head before meeting The Boy for some dinner and a DVD. It was a lovely end to an otherwise not-so-special week.

The week in pictures: sitting by the Round Pond, Hobbs on the Stylist cover wrap, my new cardigan, amazing new Revlon nail varnish.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Collection launch

Last Thursday saw the launch of the SS12 collections at work, which led to much excitement on the branch merch team. Over the past weeks we had been eagerly awaiting our letters and drawing up lists of potential items we wanted to buy. Therefore when the letters finally came we headed straight for the nearest store. Much of Thursday lunchtime was spent trying on potential outfits in South Molton Street before heading back to the office to consider our options. I’m pretty much in love with all of the SS12 collections so for me, queen of indecision, making a final choice has proved pretty tricky. With Mother Davies staying over last weekend we took a trip to the Covent Garden store on Saturday to look at options (and for her to see the amazingness that is the store on Longacre). The champagne, comfortable seats and attentive sales assistants had her won over in about five minutes and thanks to the great store staff and a spot of creative thinking I ended up with some great work wear for Spring Summer.

This paperclip dress is pretty much my most favourite thing in my wardrobe right now.

The NW3 collection is really strong this season, here are some of my current faves:

Shop the new season collections at
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