Wednesday, 31 October 2012

My week in photos 11

This past week has been full of fun, plus the weather got colder and there was a real chill in the air, meaning I could finally crack out some of my favourite Winter coats. A few days off work gave me time to explore the city and make the most of some quality me time. It was bliss (until I went back to work but the less about that the better). The Boy and I even took part in something top secret so keep your eyes peeled on the blog over the coming months.
Here's some pics of what I've been getting up to.
Clockwise from top left: Winter must be here, my favourite soup is back! Thank you M&S - An Autumnal stroll in the park - Loving this festive plate I spotted at John Lewis - Snog frozen yoghurt, my current go-to snack when out and about.
Clockwise from top left: A new stationary purchase - New nails - Stripes for Striped Jersey Day at work (don't ask) - My current coat crush - I love the colours of Autumn leaves - An evening treat courtesy of my good friend Hannah - All wrapped up for a spot of solo sightseeing - Drooling over American junk food at Partridges

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

All Hallows' Eve

Saturday saw The Boy and I throw our annual Halloween fancy dress bash which, although not as raucous as last year, was still immense fun. I went as Posion Ivy from Batman (and no I haven't seen the film/read the comic, I got the inspiration from Kim Kardashian. That's right, I love a reality TV star) and as you can see I kind of went all out. If you're going to do fancy dress, for me it really is go hard or go home.

It was lovely to spend the evening with our nearest and dearest celebrating one of my favourite occasions of the year. 

I always put a lot of thought into my costume (I'm already thinking about next year!) and it would seem I'm not alone. Lookbook is a constant source of inspiration in my everyday life but over Halloween it really comes into its own when they run their Spookbook competition. The general idea is that users upload a Halloween inspired look for the chance of winning credit to spend in American Apparel. A firm bloggers fave. People really go for it, with some entries looking like they are straight out of a horror film - here's some of my favourites.

All images taken from Lookbook

Next year I'm thinking of going as some kind of zombie/leopard combination but one thing's for sure, Poison Ivy will definitely be making an appearance at a Halloween event in the future - let's face it, it's a winner.

How are you spending your Halloween?

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Charlotte at Chanel

A couple of weeks back my good friend Charlotte was lucky enough to get to head over to Paris to catch the Chanel SS13 show. From the front row. So whilst I was languishing back at the office scouring Twitter for the latest updates Charlotte was actually there seeing it for herself.

Don't you just hate her?

Not really. Charlotte just so happens to be one of the nicest people I've met since moving to London and she was kind enough to let me share some of her photographs with you all - try not to get too jealous now won't you.
Above: Charlotte looking chic in this little black Hobbs number, complimented by genuine Chanel arm candy. Divine.

Above: A veritable army of summer chic - who can spot the latest "It" bag?
Above: The gorgeous and dramatic Grand Palais formed the perfect backdrop for Karl Lagerfeld's vision for Spring/Summer.

I've been lucky enough to get to go to a few fashion shows this year but nothing close to this. Going to a Chanel show is every fashion lovers dream, just seeing Charlotte's pictures gives me goosebumps. Still, that's one of the wonders of fashion - there's always next season! Maybe Charlotte can take me in her suitcase.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

My week in photos 10

I had big plans for posting a series of blogs this past weekend but my phone decided to die on me on Saturday night, so my free days were mostly spent trying to arrange a replacement and persuade Orange to not charge me £50 for the pleasure. Now that that's taken care of, I finally have a chance to tell you about what I've been up to.

Clockwise from top: My morning commute (Ben Howard and fashion magazines, always) - A gorgeous dinner cooked by The Boy, featuring my new fave pasta shape - The Natalie O'Hare event at Warehouse - Coveting this gorgeous digital print top at All Saints - A celebratory treat

The past few weeks have mostly revolved around catching up with friends/emails/TV shows that I'd missed during the madness of half marathon training. 

Thanks to my friend Mary Anne I am finally catching up with Gossip Girl (I stopped watching somewhere around season 3) so needless to say I am (again) desperate to go back to New York. Not helped by the fact that Mary Anne has spent the past weekend in the big apple, so I have many a story to look forward to when she returns to work tomorrow, coupled with my brothers trip there in November. Man life is hard. Still, I shall be venturing Stateside in the Spring so will be throwing myself into planning to occupy my (jealous) mind.

I had a lovely post planned on the amazing Lulu Frost for Whistles launch night that I went to with the wonderful Hannah last week but alas the phone issue put paid to that idea. All that remains is this one, poor quality, picture of this gorgeous necklace I was admiring on the night (and on my trips to Whistles since then). At £150 it's a little out of my price range but still, a girl can dream.
Clockwise from top left: My gorgeous new shoes (from Primark no less) - Pretty wild flowers outside the doctors surgery - Random sites make my morning commute, I love London - Sheep on Oxford Street, of course!

I went to a few events this week and visited a few stores for work but generally I seem to have mostly spent the week pottering around, not spending money (which can only be a plus point).

Saturday, 20 October 2012

There's something about Muriel

The weekend before my birthday Zsa treated me to afternoon tea as a special treat and even though we were stuffed full of cake we decided that going to dinner immediately afterwards was the natural conclusion to our day. 

More than enough to share

We headed to South Kensington (one of my favourite stomping grounds) to check out a gorgeous little eatery I've been wanting to try for a while; Muriel's Kitchen

On the many occasions I've been wandering around the area I've often been seen drooling outside the window at all the delicious treats on offer. It's always packed (which can only be a good thing) not only with people but also with gorgeous looking food that I long to try.

Having finally got a chance to do so, we found it difficult (as usual) to decide on what to have but settled for salmon (me), lasagne (Zsa), and a couple of sides to satisfy our cravings (lentil salad, mixed tomatoes and olives). All of it, without exception, tasted absolutely amazing, fresh and flavour-full.

The food was delicious

Not only was the food amazing, but the setting was perfect for a spot of people watching and gossiping whilst sipping Arizona Iced Tea (my favourite cold drink). Zsa and I are no longer working together but that's definitely not going to put the brakes on our friendship, we just have to make sure we make time to indulge in our love of London, fashion, food and each other. Which I definitely don't see there being a problem with.

The enevitable photo op over dinner

Muriel's Kitchen opened in 2011 and serves wholesome, healthy food with no saturated fat, is organic and the ingredients come from family run businesses where possible. What's not to love? The quality of the ingredients comes through in the taste (the salmon is to die for) and I can definitely see Muriel's Kitchen becoming a firm favourite for Saturday lunch. That is, if I'm willing to join all the other Londoners queuing up for the delicious fare on offer.

Muriel's Kitchen uses tried and tested recipes created by a real-life Mothers and Grandmothers, whose kitchens were the heart and soul of family life, which have then been developed by the team of top chefs at Muriel's Kitchen - I can't wait to go back and try some more.

Find out more about Muriel's Kitchen here.

Monday, 15 October 2012

The love list (salad edition)

As the nights draw in it's tempting to stock up on carb-heavy comfort food but following on from my Half-Marathon training I'm keen to start up a (more) healthy eating plan and have been scouring Pinterest and stocking up on recipe books at the library for inspiration. I'm thinking salads mostly but before you start (and by you I obviously mean The Boy) salads don't need to be boring. Before winter truly sets in and nothing but soup or stew will do to warm the cockles I'm thinking about giving these a go.

  Image taken from Jan-Leasure

I love olives so this Mediterranean Greek Salad is right up my street. Greek salads can be really fattening but as long as you use low fat feta cheese and a low fat dressing (if you use one at all) they can still be a healthy option.

If you're looking for a salad that is detoxing as well as healthy, it's worth trying the Detox Salad by Queen of Quinoa. It's packed full of delicious ingredients and is both gluten-free and suitable for vegans.

Image taken from Queen of Quinoa
 Image taken from Whole Living

Cobb salad is one of my all-time faves (particularly the one served at the Diner) but it has the potential to be calorific - Cheese? Avocado? Bacon? The one shown above makes some minor substitutions to lessen the calories but not the taste. I'll definitely be giving it a try.

I love zucchini, particularly when it's sliced thinly like in the Ribbon Salad shown below, I don't know why it just seems to taste better!

Image taken from Proud Italian Cook

My pre-Christmas detox will probably need to involve a variety of salads for both lunch and dinner in order to see some results. To try and keep things interesting I'm going to start up my week in photos again to encourage me to put some variety on my plate, and hit the market every weekend to pick up some seasonal fruit and veg to mix things up. I'll keep you posted on my progress!

What are your favourite Winter salads?

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Wedding number 4: A beautiful bride, brownies and barn dancing

The Boy and I rounded off our spate of summer weddings a few weeks back with a trip to Norfolk to see our good friends Bobby and Caroline tie the knot.
Clockwise from top left: The beautiful family church - Personal touches made for a special day - The happy couple - Beautiful flower girls 

This wedding was right up my street: traditional yet creative, fancy yet fun, it truly was a wonderful day. My Hobbs ensemble fitted right in and I'm so glad the wonderful Clara lent me a fascinator, as it was hats-a-plenty. I don't think I've ever been to a wedding where someone's hat involved a fake bird! To be honest I was actually a little jealous - I definitely need to up my game where head-wear is concerned.

The ceremony took place in the family church and was truly special as Caroline's father is a Bishop and played a part in the service. After the photos we all took a short walk through the beautiful countryside to the family home where the reception took place.
Clockwise from top left: My Hobbs ensemble for the day - A gorgeous personal touch - The walk from the church to the family home - Pre-dinner drinks in the meadow - Gorgeous bunting - The Bride and Groom greet their guests - Wonderful weather - The happy couple pose for some pictures

Drinks in the meadow before dinner allowed us all to get acquainted and take in the beautiful setting.

The marquee was magical, trees sprouting delicious chocolate brownies lined our route, paper birds flew overhead and real plants grew inside, one word: amazing. Speeches took place before dinner, with Andy doing a great job as best man.
Clockwise from top left: A brownie tree! For those moments when only cake would do - Beautiful seating plan - The table settings - The Boy's enjoy their ice creams - The bird theme was evident in the decorations - Jelly replaced a wedding cake, a perfect option for such a fun couple - The marquee in all it's glory

As day turned to night we all hit the dance floor, but not for usual shuffle to the latest chart hits, this wedding had actual barn dancing! As much as I wasn't sure about this option in the lead up to the big day, it actually turned out to be great fun and (miraculously) I even managed to complete a few dances without falling over. Which given my track record with staying upright (at any occasion) is a real achievement. A truly lovely time was had by all.

Congratulations Bobby and Caroline, thank you for letting us be a part of your special day!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Only makes me stronger

So, on Sunday I did something miraculous, terrifying and truly out of character: I ran the Royal Parks Half Marathon. And most astonishing of all, I actually enjoyed it. Immensely.  

All week I was in a state of utter terror and disbelief that it had come around so fast and, even though I'd been training like a maniac for the past few months, was sure I hadn't done enough. Being far from what you would call a natural runner (or so I thought) I was certain I would be at the back, probably walking most of the way, but it turns out I was wildly underestimating my own capabilities.
Having signed up to take part with someone I used to know (who later quit), I found myself solitary on the start line with nothing but an excellent playlist and 12,499 other runners for company. I have to say, I really enjoyed running alone as it allowed me to find my own pace and, quite literally, run with it.
 Clockwise from top left: Keep on running - The Royal wave - Mum can't quite believe it! - Terrified but hiding it well

Family and friends had come out to support me but the crowd in general were so fantastic that I felt like Mo Farrah as I ran round the route to the sound of applause and shouts of encouragement. 
I love to make my mum and dad proud but there's nothing I love more than surprising them. Particularly my dad, who I think had envisioned me strolling along at the back reading a magazine and eating a cream cake. The joy that I felt as they saw me for the first time as I ran around the corner at Westminster Bridge was second to none, and really spurred me on.
Clockwise from top left: Keep on running - Sightseeing on the way - Still smiling - London landmarks

Monday even saw me register my interest to take part again next year, looks like I've definitely been bitten by the running bug! If you'd like to sponsor me you still can here.
Before & After 

Here's my tips for anyone considering running a half marathon and what I learned along the way.
  • Don't be scared (well not too much) - The fear of being at the back was just what I needed to spur me on during my last few weeks of training but no matter what you may read in the lead up, taking part and raising money is what counts.
  • A great playlist can do wonders for moral - Whilst training I had mixed things up by sometimes listening to music and sometimes not but I knew that when the big day came around I'd need something uplifting to get me through the tough times. A mix of pop, hip hop and the odd show tune did it for me, alongside the cheers from the crowd of course.
  • Don't be disheartened - getting overtaken by someone dressed as a dinosaur was a bad point for me but as the day went on it really became clear that for most people this race wasn't about winning but about taking part and raising money for some fantastic charities, whether you're wearing fancy dress or not!
  • Invest in some fine footwear - the trainers that I wore to train in (and complete the half marathon itself) have definitely bitten the dust but they did a fantastic job getting me from start to finish. They were from Nike btw, and were worth every penny.
  • Everyone's running their own race - whether they're passionate about raising money for a certain charity, have overcome a personal issue or have simply set themselves a challenge, it's important to remember that it's the taking part that counts. It doesn't matter who comes first or last.
  • Understand how far a mile actually is - I had wildly underestimated the distance I would need to run (when you're in a car it seems so quick) which contributed to my sheer terror in the lead up to the event. I would recommend walking/running a mile before signing up, to ensure that you have a clear understanding of the task that lies ahead.
But most of all, enjoy yourself! Completing a half marathon is quite an achievement and truly something to be proud of. I can't wait for next year!

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