11 December 2017

Relaxed Rockabilly Styling and Body Confidence

It’s been a long time since I‘ve written a fashion post, and to be honest that’s because I have lost my confidence in how I present myself a fair bit.  Until the black Friday sales recently I hadn’t really bought any new clothes all year (choosing instead to focus on spending my money on travel) and I’d put on weight which meant the clothes I was wearing were all just that bit too tight and unflattering.  I found myself wearing the same old things just because they were comfortable.

Recently I have been trying to eat better and lose a little weight, just so I feel better in my own skin.  However sometimes you accidentally put an outfit together that makes you feel like your old self, and that's what this outfit did for me.  I threw this together when I was off on one of my favourite London activities, an Instagram walk and actually felt pretty good about myself for the first time in a long while.  Sure I picked the photos which made me look slimmer and had my best angles but it still gave me confidence. These pics were when I was at the height of my weight gain, and yet I don’t hate them, I actually like them and I think that is one of the most important things in body confidence.  Just finding something to give you that boost, whether it’s your hair, a certain dress, banging makeup, whatever it is and really letting yourself feel amazing.  For my it was realising how curvy I looked in these jeans!
As someone who lives in 50’s style swing skirts, jeans are a new one on me.  As a classic pear shape they actually totally intimidate me and I am usually stuck with memories of crying in dressing rooms as I tried them on as a teen.  This is currently the only pair I own and I adore them.  They are high waisted and slightly stretchy which make them super comfortable and wide legged so perfect for the 1940’s look.  Collectif jeans aren’t the cheapest but they are worth every penny, I’ve worn them loads and they look and fit as if they are brand new.  Fit and flare skirts and dresses have always been my safety net, this look still emphasises my waist which means I'm not too far away from my comfort zone (the skinny belt helps draw the eye there too), while being t more figure hugging then I am used to.  I have hated my body for as long as I can remember, especially my thighs and butt after getting bullied about them at school but yet in this I actually surprised myself looking at the photos and not hating them!
The shirt is also by Collectif, I have it in black and white and don’t wear them often enough due to them currently being a bit too tight and my new found fear of body hugging clothes.  I’ve found a way of placing the sleeves that means I can still wear a normal bra (hallelujah) and when tucking it in to show off that high waist suddenly I’d accidentally pulled a look together.  40’s/50’s looks are all about the waist and this is why i’ve been drawn towards those decades for fashion  

You probably know by now that I can’t make my hair do vintage styles no matter how damn hard I try!  So for this look just chucking it back with a classic bandana helps pulls together an effortless rockabilly look.  Both easy and a bit badass!

These glittery brogues aren't quite the perfect accompaniment but they do the job and I added this black plastic bead necklace simply became I love it. Say what you want but I will take cheap plastic jewellery over a gold and diamond necklace any day.
My relationship with my body has never been a good one, I’ve struggled with an eating disorder for over ten years now and it’s not something I talk publicly about very often but it’s like having a voice in the back of your head telling me I look awful all the times (it’s usually good friends with the one telling me everyone hates me too, what a charming pair!).  It is not fun and I don’t know if I will ever really feel confident or happy in my own skin, but for the moments like this when I look at outfit photos and don’t hate everything about it.  Well, those are the moments I have to cling onto.

What’s your favourite confidence boosting outfit?

8 December 2017

Harry Potter: A History of Magic at The British Library

If you have been following my blog for awhile you might have realised I’m a Harry Potter fan (or Potterhead as we are sometimes known).  I’ve visited the Wizarding World a handful of times, I’ve done the Studio Tour twice and I’ve done a Harry Potter walking tour around London.  What you probably don’t know is that I actually work for the publishers of the Harry Potter series.  I’ve never worked on the books directly but it does mean we sometimes get cool perks, like getting our own private tour around the current exhibition at The British Library like we did on a Wednesday morning a few weeks ago when it first opened!

There is no photography allowed inside the exhibition so let my words conjure it up for you.  The British library have done a fantastic job at bringing different aspects of this book to life, showing how JK Rowling may have got her inspiration in a way which is truly amazing.  Not only are there original manuscripts and notes from the original Harry Potter books (including the note from our CEO Nigel's daughter urging her dad to produce the book) but there are rare and historic books and manuscripts detailing the real world insperations of the Harry Potter universe.
From divination, to herbology, to potions you will see centuries old textbooks displaying these subjects and how Rowling did her research.  Some of them you won't believe are real, it is truly astounding!  They are all presented in a beautiful way by The British Library using amazing room designs to really get you into the magical mood.

Expect to spend around 2 hours here staring at some of the most amazing book based artefacts you will ever get a chance to see.  It is on until the 28th of February at £16 for an adult ticket.  The tickets are selling fast so book one while you can!

Have you ever been to the British Library?

6 December 2017

10 Quirky London Activities to Book for 2018

London is a crazy beast!  There are few cities where there is such a diverse range of things to do, which leaves amazing opportunities but makes it hard to choose where to spend your money.  If you want to find some of the really unique events London has coming up in the next year I am here to help you out with a few of my faves.  Not only that but they make great gifts for the special people in your life to give them a present they won’t forget!


Ride the waves at the Lee Valley White Water Centre

I don’t know about you but when I think of White Water Rafting I imagine a river running through a forest somewhere in the country, I do not think of our own fair city.  Yet thanks to the White Water Centre you don’t need to travel far to get your white knuckle thrills.  Take to the waters on this olympic course for some wet and wild fun with activities ranging from White Water Rafting, Hydrospeeding and Hot Dogs (no I hadn’t heard of that before either) and plenty more.
Price: Starting from £38

Become one with a whale with Predator Adventures

In one of the craziest ideas I’ve ever seen head to London, Predator Adventures gives you the opportunity to climb on board a state of the art F-16 fighter grade glass cockpits shaped like a whale (what else) as you experience a serious adrenalin-inducing ride through the water!  Glide at amazing speeds in this half-submarine speedboat to see a side of London few get to see.  I am hoping to hit this up early in the new year and honestly I can’t wait.  This is a great one for people who think they’ve tried it all in London or just love g-forces, it is an adventure that will surprise them and get their heart racing!  To give you a better idea of the experience I recommend checking out some of the videos on their Youtube page, it has to be seen to believed!  
Price: Prices start from £89 and are currently on offer so buy them quick, you can also buy gift cards which make a great Christmas present.

Take things at a more relaxed pace with the Moo Canoes

Not only is it super fun to say but Moo Canoes are also amazingly adorable!  Choose a canoe or kayak with their adorable cow print and take to the water for some fun at a more relaxed pace.
Price: From £26, gift vouchers available
Where to book: http://www.moocanoes.com/

The Slide at the ArcelorMittal Orbit

Londoners like to make a joke and take it too far...sometimes with amazing results!  When the Olympic Games rolled around in 2012 London built this crazy looking structure as it’s focal point, the ArcelorMittal Orbit.  After many jokes about how much fun it would be to slide down the structure it was made possible to do just that!  You don’t slide down the actual building (thank god!) but a helter skelter that has been built around around it.  I did it last year and it was a seriously thrilling ride!?
Price: £16.50 per adult

Take to the Thames at speed in a Thames Rocket

I did a full review of this a few months ago but this is a fast, fun adventure with some amazing views to boot!  Check out this post for a full review.
Price: Around £41, gift cards available.

Want a cosy keepsake?  Why not Arm Knit a Giant Throw?

If you want to give the gift of cosiness and creativity you won’t find much better than this!  You get an amazing creative experience and you get to take home your craft home with you as a lasting memory.  
Price: £55

Embrace the Winter with Ice Climbing

Another activity you would never have thought would be available in London but amazingly is!  A real, vertical ice wall is available for you scale!  Just grab a pick, a helmet, and get climbing!
Price: From £25

Food and Drink

Go back in time with The Medieval Banquet

Ever dreamt of being a king at a royal table, food thrust in front of you as you are entertained by the royal jester?  Well prepare to get a taste of that life with The Medieval Banquet.  Join Henry VII and his court for a four course meal with plenty of entertainment with wine and beer to boot!
Price: £50

Camp it up with Strictly Come Drag Queen

Bottomless boozy brunches have taken London by storm in the last year and here’s one with an entertaining twist.  London’s finest drag stars serve up and all singing, all dancing performance while you tuck into your grub over a Prosecco or 5.  Expect lip syncs, amazing routines and your chance to live out your drag dreams in their specially devise game.
Price: From £39

Get a real sweet treat with the Chocolate Treasure Hunt

Got a friend with a sweet tooth like me?  Get them this amazing gift of chocolate filled London experience.  Work as a team to solve the clues around the city and get plenty of chocolate treats along the way!  
Price: £35

So there are just a few of my favourites, what London events are you looking forward to in the new year?
*This post is in collaboration with Preditor Adventures, all words my own.

4 December 2017

Win a Pair of Ted Baker Sunglasses!

Are you loving all these amazing giveaways I’ve had coming your way on the run up to Christmas?  It’s been a year of progression and change for me on my blog (as ever) so it always feels nice to give something back to those of you who have suck by me at the end if the year.  

This time it’s another really amazing gift and a must for those of you seeking some Winter sun or just desperately counting down the days till the sun rears it’s head again (I’m with you on that one!).  The Optic Shop are giving me the chance to giveaway a pair of sunglasses from their Ted Baker range, just take a look at the choices: https://www.theopticshop.co.uk/brands/ted-baker/

To enter simply fill in the Rafflecopter below, sadly it is open to UK entries only. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


3 December 2017

Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House

It's December which now means we are officially allowed to fully embrace all things Christmas!  The tree is up, the presents are ordered and it's time for me to explore all the best of London's Winter time activities.  One event which has become a tradition for many in the last few years is a visit to the Magical Lantern Festival, which transforms the Chiswick House Gardens with a whole host of brightly coloured light displays.  I headed there last weekend for my fist visit to check it out.
Making your way through the lantern route you will come across some dazzling displays depicting everything from your favourite films, to famous landmarks and of course Christmas exhibits.  So even the Grinches among you (I'm looking at you Haydy) will find something to enjoy.
Light displays are notoriously hard to capture so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to ditch the camera and give my new iPhone 8+ a try!  It didn't do too bad even if I say so myself, but if you have any tips for making the most out of an iPhone camera I'd love to hear them!  
Expect to spend around an hour and a half here exploring all the different displays depending on your pace.  It ends in a fairground area complete with rides, food stalls and a Santa's Grotto so it's a great choice for families with children.  

The Magical Lantern Festival is on at Chiswick House until the 1st of January and adult prices start from £16.50.
I was invited as a guest of Love Popups London, all words and opinions my own.

27 November 2017

'Tis the season to get cosy!

As soon as Autumn rolls into town and too quickly turns into Winter you see people everywhere getting their hygge on, lighting as many candles as possible and preparing for a winter hibernation of sorts.  I am defiantly guilty of this, from March through to September I seem to be on the go non-stop but from then on I just want to be curled up in a blanket drinking hot chocolate with my other-half, listening to Christmas songs on my vinyl player.  It’s something that we all seem to do on mass, it feels like a memo has gone out that it's time to wind down and treat ourselves with our loved ones!

There are few things that set me up for a cosy day at home more then a pair of soft, fluffy pjs.  I know it might sound bad but 9 times out of 10 if I’m at home then I’m wearing them and I love to treat myself to a new set for Christmas.  Simply Be recently reached out and asked if I would like to choose any pair from the nightwear & loungewear section of their website and items from their beauty section to really treat myself to some Winter pamper time!  Harry recently because fully self-employed which means he is now away a lot so this seemed like the perfect chance for a little me time!
Simply Bee have a huge range of sleepwear on their site and after much deliberation (I’m talking days!) I went with this classic soft grey checked set.  I used to always wear this traditional style with the button up shirt years ago so I was eager to get back to them, it’s defiantly what will be in my suitcase for Christmas this year!  The material is really comfortable, light and super soft and has a subtle pink tint running through it.
As for the beauty section I am all about skincare so this is what I went for and there was so much choice! The current cold weather is really playing havoc with my already dry skin so I tried to chose products to help combat that.  Like many people I have turned to Korean skincare in recent years so Korean sheet masks were I must. I stocked up, choosing the Manuka Honey Hydrating & Moisturising set of four masks and the sleep mask to see what works for my skin. I’ve been intrigued by snail masks since I first saw them in Sephora in Florida last year so I can’t wait to finally give it a go.  I also grabbed one of these nose strip sets you will have no doubt have seen on various Youtube videos in the last year, let’s hope mine isn’t as gross as some of those!

I just had to pick up a set of two Real Technique beauty blenders after my old one literally crumbled recently, I have to admit I had had it a while...don’t judge!  I find theres nothing better for blending makeup them these.
The real treat is this Elizabeth Arden gift set.  There's a reason this is such a cult product, the nourishing lip balm contains SPF and the eight hour creme has a million uses but the real star here is the Visible Distance cream. I tried a sample of a few years ago and my skin never looked better so I can’t wait to get it into my skincare routine again.

What are your favourite products for when you need a little me time?

24 November 2017

Journey into the Upside down with the Super Loot Mystery Geek Box

I remember just a few years ago when geek boxes first popped up in the US and I was desperate for them to make the transition across the pond so I could get my hands on one.  All those beauty and lifestyle subscription boxes have never interested me but the idea of getting nerdy merch in the post filled me with great excitement.  Since then companies have popped up all over to the place, so how do you separate the Han Solo's from the Jar Jar Binks?  Well Super Loot sent me a box to see how they size up.

Let's start with the basics, a monthly geek box is £19.99 a month or £16.99 a month for your first month.  You can buy three or six month plans but you are free to cancel at any time, if you buy the three or six month subscription your box drops to £17.99 and £16.99 respectively.  Every month has a different theme; just tell them your t-shirt size, order your box and await the delivery.  So is it worth the money?  Well here's what came in mine:
Stranger Things Hopper Pop! Vinyl Figure

Pop figures have taken the world by storm over the last few years, and so has Stranger Things so this is a great combination.  I own a few myself already so this will be a great addition to my collection. 

GhostBusters Coaster

Let's face it every box is going to contain a few lower value items and this is one of them.  I do love GhostBusters but I find a singular coaster a little pointless.
The Walking Dead MiniMates Series 7

Personally I'm not a walking dead fan but my boyfriend is so this is going straight to him.  These miniatures are cute and surprisingly detailed so would make a great addition to a desk or bookshelf.
Boo! Rubber Keychain

A cute way of looking after your keys but nothing worth writing home about. 
Stranger Things Inspired Super Loot T-Shirt

For me this is the absolute highlight of the box.  The outline of the main characters and the 'Friends don't lie' slogan in the signature Stranger Things font make this t-shirt really special.  I put it on straight away and was really impressed with the quality, it received lots of complements.
So that's the full box, for me the t-shirt itself justifies the cost of the box and everything else is a bonus.  Of all the geek boxes I've tried I think this one is my favourite.  Each box contains at least £40 worth of products so for £19.99 it's a real bargain and would make a great Christmas gift.  It's guaranteed that you will receive a Pop! Funko in every box so it's a great option if you are a collector.  If you want to order your own check it out here (affiliate link).

What's the best monthly subscription box you've tried?

21 November 2017

Thanksgiving Dinner at The Smith, New York

Ask Americans about Thanksgiving and one of the first things they will mention is the food, it’s synonymous with hearty and plentiful home cooking in a way we can only really compare to Christmas.  When we found out we were going to be in New York for Thanksgiving one of the first things I wanted to pin down was somewhere to get a Thanksgiving feast.  I had no idea where to start and all I knew was that I wanted somewhere that was bookable, had an online menu to me to browse and was as traditional as possible without blowing our budget.

I didn’t think I was asking for much but it was surprisingly hard to found.  Much online research later I had found a few places, my first choice had already sold out by the time I went to book it, so instead we went for our second choice which had more of a modern twist on the traditional.

For $65 dollars we had a three course set menu, here’s what we chose:
From the choice of 6 starters covering the usual soups, salads and more I went with the Burrata. Burrata is delicious soft cheese which was paired with roasted vegetables and toasted bread.  The cheese was smooth, creamy and moreish and when spread on the toasted bread made a light, simplistic start to the meal.  Harry opted for the ricotta gnocchi with truffle cream which he found to be creamy with a great textures without being too rich.
For our entree we stuck with tradition and opted for the roasted turkey breast.  If this isn’t for you there are several other turkey dishes as well as fish and vegetarian dishes for those who aren’t turkey fans.  The roasted turkey came on a pile of buttery smooth mashed potatoes, kale and gravy.  The gravy might not be the same as your mother makes but it still added flavour and moisture to the dish in equal measures.  
No matter which of the seven main options you choose they all come with the same five ‘fixin's’ (side dishes) for the table. This is the thing which really swung it for us when hunting around for a place to eat.  My boyfriend is a huge mac and cheese fan so this is what he was looking forward to the most.  It had a nice crust and was fairly creamy but it wasn’t the best we’ve had and lacked some of the signature flavour we’ve had in other US establishments.  The cranberry orange jam was a deliciously sweet accompaniment to the turkey and while Harry found it a touch too sweet I thought it complemented the savoury dishes well.  Just like with Christmas dinner on our side of the pond Brussel sprouts are a must with Thanksgiving dinner here.  I’m not normally a fan but these were served crispy instead of your usual boiled affair which added some real crunch and flavour.  Being northern I’m a huge fan of stuffing but in the US it’s a bit different to what we would expect back home.  This particular version contained apple brioche which had a great home made feel.  The flavours really combined well and went great with the turkey.  Finally, and the one thing I appear to have not taken a picture of, was the jalapeño corn bread.  I adore corn bread and the addition of jalapeños really balanced out the sweetness of the bread and made a great, if filling accompaniment.
Finally it was onto desert! Here is the one place we steered away from tradition as neither of us fancied pumpkin pie (pumpkin is definitely a dish that hasn’t really made it across the pond).  Harry went for the dark chocolate layer cake which came with salted caramel cream and popcorn.  It was rich, sweet and rather dense, proving to be too much for Harry after a heavy meal. He enjoyed the flavours but couldn’t finish it.  I went for the British traditional dish and my personal favourite of sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream.  Despite the fact that I was also feeling the effects of the heavy meal there was no way I was leaving a scrap of this behind!  The pudding was a little on the dryer side of what I would normally like but it was still delicious and sticky and pretty close to what I'd get from home. The vanilla ice cream lightened up the dish and made it really great.

While this wasn’t the full on traditional thanksgiving dinner I craved, this upmarket, modern twist on the famous dishes still made for a great experience.  Not every dish was perfect and while I am still quietly hoping a nice American family invites me over for a real, traditional family thanksgiving one day you won’t go far wrong choosing The Smith.  

Have you ever had Thanksgiving dinner in the US?

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