Fashion, Fun

A December delight that’s seen me through to summer

DSC01917Last December I decided to trade in the usual chocolate or picture (usually chocolate) advent calendar, and instead gifted myself with a calendar packed full to the brim with nail varnish.  As soon as this offering from Ciate caught my eye there was no going back, I had to have it – a new colour every day – what could be more exciting? And it certainly didn’t disappoint. Not only was there a wide range of mini nail varnish colours (and the bottles not as tiny as you might think), but Ciate had also included a variety of their Caviar Mirco Pearls. DSC01922

The colours weren’t all winter themed either. Yes, there was a very sparkly red, which I wore for Christmas day, but there were colours to transcend all seasons. What I also love about the range provided, is that someone could keep up with nail colour trends throughout the coming year if they wished to as well, such was the potential of this selection.

I think, though, that I have come up with a favourite. Perhaps it is the summer sun that has influenced my decision, but I can’t get enough of a coral tone called Speed Dial. I’ve been wearing it on my toes since the weather started dictating sandals, and whilst I’ve picked other colours occasionally, I always seem end up back at this one. It’s true that come winter I might revert back to a much loved deep red from Jessica, but for now Speed Dial is the go to shade for me. 

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It was a while until I tried out the Caviar Mirco Pearls, and when I did delve in, I painted both mine and a friend’s nails, which made for a fun and exciting experiment; and I did think the results looked great: really exciting and different.aman & holly nails However, these were let down on longevity. They would catch on things easily and ping off, and many just rubbed off while sleeping. I think I could engineer slightly better staying power with a thicker coat before sprinkling on the pearls, and pushing them down with more conviction to embed them further, but I don’t think they’ll ever be a particularly practical option. But then again, I don’t think they were designed with that in mind – they were designed for fun and unique nails, and this they most definitely achieve. 

I’m chuffed to still be enjoying last year’s advent over 7 months on, how can next December possibly match up?!
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Other

Bicarb of soda – the secret to battling blackheads?

Having read blog after blog in search of a way to rid me of those pesky blocked pores known as blackheads, I saw one solution recommended by many – bicarbonate of soda (or baking soda). This method simply involved a damp, make-up-free face and rubbing on the bicarb of soda for 30 seconds, particularly focusing on blackhead prone areas.Neutrogena visibly clear blackhead clearing cleanser I’ve tried many commercial products to oust blackheads, not least because I thought this too might mean fewer spots, but none have really had any significant effect. Salicylic acid is favoured in these products and I’ve tried this both in scrub and cleanser forms with minimal visible results.

Blackheads are such a bugbear – although I know few people notice these on others, those on my nose, forehead and chin stand out to me like a sore thumb. This results in the inevitable urge to squeeze the things out – a big no-no I know. So of late I’ve been making a great effort to leave my blackheads alone; I’m banishing the prodding fingers that more often than not only cause infection.

bicarb of sodaThis has not, however, ended my desire to be blackhead free. So two days ago I delved into the kitchen cupboard and gave the bicarb of soda new residence in the bathroom. My first observation when applying the bicarb of soda to my face was that this is definitely an exfoliant. It wasn’t the harshest of scrubs I’d tried, but certainly not the mildest either. It felt peculiar to be rubbing what I know best as an ingredient for cookies onto my face, but of course many are very familiar with the cleaning properties of bicarbonate of soda. When my 30 seconds of scrubbing were over, I thoroughly rinsed my face and patted it dry with a towel. My skin felt incredibly soft and smooth as so many a blog had told me it would. And the blackheads? Well, they really did look significantly reduced. Unfortunately in my close examination of the results my eyes kept settling on the blackheads that remained – old habits die hard, and I may have tried to squeeze some of these remaining black specks from my face, but luckily I caught myself before any damage was done. Fairly satisfied with my squeaky clean face I went to bed.

nice-wooden-bowl-full-of-bicarbonate-of-sodaYet, in the morning the number of blackheads on my nose appeared not to have diminished as much as I had thought they had just eight hours ago. So that evening I rinsed my oily skin and again applied the bicarbonate of soda, and again I looked at the results (perhaps slightly too closely, as the temptation to squeeze the remainders was back) and blackheads did seem visibly reduced once more. Now, I was going to try this a third day running as I was seeing progress, but then realised that never would I normally exfoliate my poor skin relentlessly day after day – the quest for a blackhead free face would have to take a break.

But the verdict? A positive one. There certainly was a difference in my skin. Whilst many of my pores were still visible, fewer were plugged with ugly black dirt, and I felt confident both times I tried this method that ‘London’ had been thoroughly cleansed from my skin. It left a much nicer feeling than my usual exfoliating cleanser does – and I’ve been hooked on that for years! So whilst I won’t be dipping my face in bicarbonate of  soda again tonight, I feel that if used every few days this method may have success at banishing my blackheads. Another blogger converted!

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Food, Fun

My love for Southbank

IMG_20130825_142817For the second weekend running I’m wandering around the Southbank Centre and the Real Food Market near Waterloo. They just can’t keep me away, especially over the summer when the Southbank Centre is stuffed with free events. Seven days ago it was Pelourinho weekend and today it’s a village fair, not to mention Beano Town, a popup that’s been lasting the length of school holidays. Pelourinho weekend consisted of bright costumes, dancing and drumming, whilst this weekend has a calmer feel with arts and crafts stalls, most of which are full of children and adults having a go at making bracelets or designing cards.

However, it is the weekly draw of the Real Food Market which means I can never turn a trip to Southbank down. Today my lunch was a pumpkin and cheese strudel from a stall called Karantania, this tasted incredible.IMG_20130825_144016 In the past I’ve had hog roast, cheesecake, burgers, various salads, Indian street food, ice creams, and I’m not sure that’s even the complete list. It certainly isn’t the complete list of what’s on offer here. There’s every type of wrap you can imagine – a lamb and chickpea version is the one that appeals to me most – as well as crepes; bruschetta; bread, cheese and fruit stalls; cakes and brownies; chorizo; Japanese gyoza; and that’s just off the top of my head!

My love for the Real Food Market has also made me want to discover others across London. I’m excited to visit Brockley market in Lewisham (my planned trip yesterday was rained off, in a relentless downpour kind of way), as well as Exmouth market. I’ve been to Borough market many times and, despite how packed it often is, I like it very much. Chelsea food market has some lovely stalls too.

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I don’t know precisely what it is that I love so much about a food market. Perhaps it’s the smells and the huge variety of types of food. Perhaps it’s the delicious samples that get thrust your way. Perhaps it’s just my fascination with food in general. But either way, if I can fit a forage at a food market into my plans, that constitutes a fun day out for me.

I often follow my Southbank wanderings with a walk along Embankment – another reason I can’t resist this area: the atmosphere. And as I am currently occupying one of few chairs for people to perch on as they indulge in their purchases I should probably get on the move. Stomach full and senses satisfied – thank you Southbank.

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Fashion

The Bag

Having had mixed feelings about & other stories in the past, the brand has finally won me over. It was this bag that did it:

& other stories two-tone shoulder bag & other stories two-tone shoulder bag 2 & other stories two-tone shoulder bag 3

I recently said goodbye to two much loved ( but old, tired and worn out) handbags after they both broke in quick succession. This meant that I had to buy a new one. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?! So the handbag search began.

My budget was never going to stretch to Mulberry (but maybe one day!), therefore the high street would be my stomping ground. Staying true to my unusual fashion, the internet was my first port of call. I headed onto a website called Shopstyle (on which you can search for various items across many websites) for some inspiration and to gauge what was on offer, but from this in general felt very underwhelmed. I wasn’t sure quite what I was looking for – it was going to be an ‘ I’ll know it when I see it’ purchase, and it couldn’t be any old bag, it had to feel like the one.

After trawling Topshop, a glance at Urban Outfitters, pawing over Zara, and scrolling through many others, I had made no progress. None of these bags were ‘it’. I wasn’t getting excited. So I turned to Asos Marketplace in the hope of something more individual. There were some well priced, reasonable looking, handmade leather satchels, but I do own the most beautiful of 15″ Cambridge Satchels, so these slouchier versions for me just didn’t compare. I should probably mention at this point that I wanted a small bag, but had to be just big enough to fit a 10 inch tablet (I do hate having things like size specifics when shopping, but it certainly narrowed things down!).

So, feeling disheartened and having searched almost every retailer I could think of, I wracked my brain for where else i could look. &Other Stories – now there’s a thought! Their collection of bags had always been both fairly extensive and with the attention to detail which I wanted to win me over. No further than the second row of bags on their website and I was sold. The Two-tone Shoulder Bag was unique, high quality, the perfect size and had that extra something that i can’t quite put my finger on. It took me all of 24 hours to be in the store to see it for real, and another 15 mins of ‘just making sure’ deliberation before I was on my way home, new bag in hand.

& other stories two-tone shoulder bag 4

The last time I wrote about &Other Stories I wondered if it was mine or the brand’s fault that they never stuck in my mind as a ‘go to’ retailer. I feel now that it might have been me who was missing out. The bag has had many compliments already and I can’t stop admiring it myself. If you’ll excuse the pun, &Other Stories I think you might have bagged yourself a more regular customer.

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Fashion

My picks of Mink Pink

mint velvet grey fur gilet

Last year I discovered Mink Pink for the first time and bought a fur gilet. It’s one of my favourite items and I love how I feel when I wear it. I’ve never looked back.


This season they have a similar gilet, but in grey tones instead of the white of last autumn/winter. But this is certainly not the only new season piece to lust after. My favourites include the Ivory Pleat and Lace Blouse, as well as the Charcoal Waterfall Front Jacket, and the Wine Leather Pencil Skirt.

mint velvet ivory pleat blousemint velvet wine leather pencil skirtmint velevet charcoal waterfront jacket

The collection of intricate blouses continues with the Ivory Embroidered Blouse, also available in black, which definitely deserves to go on my wish list. I’m also taken by the Black Buckle Long Boots, particularly as they remind me of some I used to have but wore out, so I’m certainly in the market for a new pair in this style. Plus, their Shell Pink A-line Jacquard Dress is a really unique design, and would be a lovely one for autumn.

mint velvet pink shell a-line dressmint velvet ivory embellished blousemint velvet black buckle long boots

I can’t wait to get my hands on some of these.

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Food, Fun

Popups passing me by

London is a city of popups. Whether these be art exhibitions, roof top cinemas or retro gaming. Yet it’s the food, cafe and restaurant popups that I follow religiously. Now I say ‘follow’, which might sound a bit peculiar when one considers that these are one off events, but I can spend hours deciding which I’d like to go next. So here’s the sad bit, I’ve never been.

Yes, I’m regularly found at street and food markets, however committing my money to these often pricey popup eating events feels far less natural to me. I think it’s usually the cost that’s the biggest bug bear. That’s not to say that the inspiring menus, often accompanied by entertainment or cuisine themed decor, wouldn’t be worth paying for – I’m sure they would. The real issue is, which one would I pick? They all look great! Ok, so in reality I’d have to choose something in my price range, but where do I set that for a one a off experience? As you can tell, it’s half wanting to splash out, yet at the same time reminding myself that it’s not the sensible thing for a humble student to do, which has prevented me thus far from attending one of these days or nights of creatively mastered indulgence.

grub club

My favourite website for browsing the latest unique food popup events is Grub Club. They work with the chefs whos events they feature, helping with organisation and finding venues. Reading through what they have on offer always has my mouth watering. The latest event that has caught my eye is H.M.S Plate and Skaker Docked in Bermuda, in which not only are you served cocktails and food to match, but taught how to make each cocktail as well.

the hangover club presents good eggThis type of one off dining experience is alongside as their more regular events such as The Hangover Club presents The Good Egg serving breakfast/brunch. At £8 it’s not too expensive for a meal out, especially if you’re used to London prices, and the description of breakfast burritos, exotic shakshuka and healthy egg white omelettes with a long list of detox and re-tox beverages appeals to me, but I think what I’m looking for with this one is an excuse to go. The morning after I celebrate my 21st perhaps, that could do nicely, lets just hope it’s still running come November!

Christabel's mad hatter brunch partyChristabel’s Mad Hatter’s Brunch Party is another that I can’t wait to get some friends together for. Sad to have missed August’s offering, perhaps I can catch the one on 15th September. This Alice in Wonderland inspired tea party looks quirky, cute and fun – I want ‘brunch fit for a king and a mad hatters cocktail!’

But reems of these popups come and go, passing me by; so far I’m missing out on experiencing all those culinary delights! And so there it is, the popup bites back – do it now or you might regret it later!

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Fashion

Lust Haves: Reiss AW13

reiss joanna zac trousersI’m always lusting over Reiss, and commiserating myself when I don’t have the funds personally to go beyond coveting their collections. Last season it was a certain royal blue jacket, which nipped in perfectly at the waist and lay beautifully at the back, that had me yearning. Alas, I couldn’t part with that much money.

New season has now arrived, and AW13 at Reiss features a lot of work-wear inspired items, these particularly in duck egg and royal blues, as well as some chic accessories, and some noteworthy winter coats.

reiss montage 1 I love their Brina Asymmetric Court Shoes as a new take on the classic court. I’m not a big heel-wearer day to day, but I think I’d make an exception for these. And, as a sucker for a soft, light-weight knit, and for powder colours, I can’t resist the pale blue Lewes Crew Neck Jumper. I particularly like wearing knits tucked into waisted items  – my favourite Reiss offering on this front are their Rosie Geo Print Silk Shorts. The Liza Embossed Croc Shoulder Bag also caught my eye.

One of my particular favourites from Reiss this season is the Sophia Lace and Silk Shirt. It’s intricate and sexy, and the design strikes me as having a certain uniqueness when seen against others on the high street; and the Joanna Zac Straight Leg Trousers in soft neutral could provide a nice pairing. These also come in Cobalt Blue, which I’d love to wear to brighten up the winter – perhaps whilst cosy and wrapped up in the Board Large Collar Overcoat.

reiss board coat Reiss sofia shirt reiss joana zac trousers

And then for the evening? I’d pick the Mia Contrast Fit and Flare Dress with Jolene Cross Body Envelope Bag. I love the mixture of textures here, as well as the feminine silhouette. Plus, the dress would be great for swing dancing (a favourite past-time).

reiss mia bress reiss jolene bag

So, on a very big budget, Reiss has the coming season sorted.

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